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i gave the voices in my head a megaphone

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Hitoshi was intimately familiar with the wrong side of 2:00AM. More often than not, he greeted the hour with all the affection of a second cousin twice removed who kept asking for a personal loan. But Hitoshi was broke and indifferent and couldn’t really keep accepting these kinds of calls. 

 

Wait, where was he going with this? He’s had about four hours of sleep over the last three days. He’s so damn tired. 

 

Usually, his insomnia had him wandering the halls of his new dorm alone with the occasional side-shuffle past the enigma that was late night Tokoyami. Sometimes he’d hear strange noises from one of the random rooms of his classmates but Hitoshi lives by the personal motto of “none of my business” when it comes to social interactions. The creed of champions and anxious people everywhere. 

 

But tonight in particular, he has an accomplice to his crimes against restful sleep. He had hobbled into the common area as soon as his room became too oppressive and stumbled across a hyperventilating Izuku on the couch. 

 

So here he sits, shoulder to shoulder with one of the first real friends he made in this damn school, awkwardly guiding the shorter boy into a more reasonable breathing pattern. One that actually provided oxygen to the lungs. He highly recommends it. It takes a few minutes of wheezing before Izuku manages a characteristic apology and an even more characteristic heartfelt thanks. Like the fact that Hitoshi sitting beside him was a blessing to him. 

 

Like Hitoshi hadn’t been in this exact same scenario two other times just this month. 

 

“Nightmares again?” He stops himself from rubbing Izuku’s back like he was a small child. The urge was tempting but he could control himself that much at least. 

 

Izuku blows out a harsh breath and scrubs at his face. When the sun rises, the dark circles under his eyes will be hidden and he’ll be as energetic as ever. But here, next to his friend who conveniently matched the same shade of concealer as him, Hitoshi sees it all. The exhaustion, the panic, the stress. 

 

“When isn’t it nightmares?” Izuku asks, more to chastise himself than actually ask Hitoshi because god knows, Hitoshi did not have the answer to that one. 

 

“Want to talk about it?” He offers as always. They never really talk much when they have these informal Sleep-Deprived Anonymous meetings but it was the thought that counts. Izuku smiles, a little wobbly, but still pretty enough to be reassuring. 

 

Hm. Wait. No, take it back, Hitoshi. Not pretty. Use your words. Different words. 

 

He blinks down at his hands and then reboots his mental systems. Izuku had already waved off his question when he was recalibrating so they sit in blissfully awkward silence for several long minutes. 

 

“You know,” and oh, okay, Izuku was talking. Hitoshi could do the whole talking thing, “sometimes I wish I could scoop out my stupid brain and put something else in.” 

 

“...like what?” He asks. Izuku shrugs as best he can as he slouches against the back of the couch. 

 

“A normal person's brain?” 

 

Hitoshi joins him in slouching because that seems comfortable as hell right now. He cranes his head back until he feels the satisfying ‘pop!’ from his spine and wishes he could just become liquid. Izuku is not as calm next to him; calmer than before, yes, but his knee jitters at lightning speed. If Hitoshi didn’t know better, he’d think the other boy’s quirk was active. 

 

“I feel like I should say something about normal people's brains being overrated. You know, out of solidarity.” 

 

If asked to testify, Hitoshi would best describe the noise Izuku made as a “snert.” 

 

“Normal people get to sleep without almost dying over a presentation.” 

 

“Is that what you were upset over?” 

 

Izuku holds up a scarred hand and waves it side to side. “Kind of. I woke up from a bad dream and tried to practice my presentation for Midnight-sensei’s class today but I stressed out.” 

 

“Why?"

 

Izuku mumbles something, chin to his chest, and Hitoshi squints. Everyone knows squinting increases your hearing capabilities. 

 

The champion of bone-breaking obviously feels Hitoshi’s confused stare because he looks up, pouts, then repeats a little louder, “she said I’m bad at talking to people.” 

 

Hitoshi blinks then blinks some more. Midnight told Midoriya--Mr. Uplifts Your Spirits, King of Forging Friendships and Rivalries, Sir “It’s Your Power Todoroki”--Izuku that he was bad at talking to people? This kid? The one who’d have any villain spilling their life story with his Bambi eyes alone? The one who, if rumors are to be believed, turned a hero-hating kid into a fanboy and backtalked a serial killer in a fight? Multiple times? 

 

He raises a single eyebrow in challenge. The brow says it all. 

 

“I get nervous for presentations or interviews,” Izuku groans. He runs a hand through his hair. “It’s hard, with everyone staring at you!” 

 

“You do get kind of rambly,” Hitoshi concedes. He was there for the latest “interview practice” the more social teachers put the students through. Izuku was a stuttering mess, but at least Todoroki’s deadpan answers and Bakugou’s rage were entertaining enough to balance out the painfully awkward parts. 

 

“Thanks, it’s the anxiety,” he quips. Hitoshi automatically says a low “mood” but frowns. 

 

“You know, I noticed something. You act a lot different with me on nights like this than with anyone else. Your sass has been criminally underappreciated by your friends.” 

 

“Our friends,” Izuku says. Hitoshi lolls his head back and forth in what he hopes passes as agreement. He likes certain people out of the chaotic group of classmates he’s been saddled with, he won’t lie. Izuku’s closest friends are alright though the main instigators of a lot of shit with no one being any wiser; always hilarious to witness firsthand. He likes talking with Kaminari and Jirou, they’re both cool and they all share similar music tastes. Yaomomo is queen, period, but he’s a little too intimidated to actually hold a meaningful conversation. He vibes with Shouji despite never having shared a single word which makes him respect the multi-armed teen even more. He’s ambivalent to a lot of the others. Then there’s the motherfuckers like Bakugou and Mineta that he’d really rather not know personally. 

 

“Why do they not get to experience the majesty that is your sheer disrespect and lame jokes?”

 

“Wow,” Izuku croaks. He cracks a grin before falling solemn. 

 

“I guess,” he starts. He brings a finger to his lips and mumbles away, Hitoshi too exhausted to catch any of it. The green-haired hero student catches himself and smiles sheepishly at his friend. 

 

“I guess I feel more like myself with you?” 

 

Hitoshi exhales sharply because that was more of an emotional punch than he was prepared for. Feelings were icky at-- oh god --3:47 AM. 

 

“I’m sure the Dekusquad wants to actually know you, though. Nightmares and all.”  

 

Izuku grimaces at the reminder of the name Ashido had dubbed their friend group several months ago. 

 

“They might. Or do. It’s not like I’m lying to them or anything. Shouto and I have had conversations like this before, but, well. With you, it’s still different? Does that make sense? All of the bad parts in my head don’t seem so bad. You’d understand me.”

 

Hitoshi gurgles in embarrassment. He throws his arm over his face and thanks the universe for the dark hiding his blush. How does one respond to that? Your friends would understand? Ditto? He chooses the tried and true method of avoidance. 

 

“And Midnight says you’re bad with talking to people.” 

 

Izuku smushes his own cheeks in a self-soothing gesture while not looking over at the flustered transfer student who still had trouble accepting any kind of praise or positive encouragement. Hitoshi knew his flaws, okay. 

 

“I am, at least for stuff like presentations. And with strangers. And for a grade. And when I’m stressed. And--” He tries to list more but Hitoshi takes the arm from over his face and lightly bonks the top of Izuku’s head. 

 

“You’ll do fine on your presentation. I’m sure it’s well thought out and researched which is more than I can say for like a third of us in class.” Hitoshi’s own presentation was on the symbolism of purple in hero art and costumes. He has an appropriate amount of star wipes in his slideshow and feels confident enough to pass. Knowing Izuku, there’s a highly detailed, informative, and unfortunately color-coded novella that he’ll try to stutter through. 

 

“I just want the anxiety off for one day, I swear,” Izuku moans despondently. His leg had never stopped jiggling at all throughout the entire conversation. Hitoshi is even more exhausted looking at the bouncing foot. 

 

Hitoshi will admit, he hasn't been helped by a lot of people in his life, but when he is, he never forgets a debt. Aizawa is owed a blood pact and potentially his firstborn with how much support and training the hero provided him since the sports festival. Present Mic also gets his loyalty with his specialized lessons on improv and the vocal changing device on his costume. Izuku? He offered a hand up, encouraged Hitoshi’s dream, then provided an incredibly detailed breakdown and training plan for his quirk. Hitoshi cannot and will not forget one of his first supporters. And well, all Izuku has asked for is his friendship, which feels more like Hitoshi still owing the other boy something, but Hitoshi wants to help where he can. So he sees a potential solution to Izuku’s current problem. 

 

“I can make that happen.” 

 

“What?” 

 

Izuku cocks his head to the side, face still squished between his hands. Hitoshi nods in an attempt to look confident. 

 

“I can brainwash your anxiety away for the day.”  

 

“Can you really do that?” 

 

“I’ve been getting a lot better at suggestions. Your notes are thorough. Aizawa’s been having me practice.” 

 

Izuku immediately lights up and tries to interrogate him on what all he’s been working on but Hitoshi can keep a secret like a champion and will not be betraying Aizawa’s trust. He values life. All of the teachers have been avoiding the teacher’s lounge during a specific time every day without even realizing it. Aizawa gets his uninterrupted naps, Hitoshi gets his laughs and training, everyone’s happy. 

 

“You’d really...do that for me?” 

 

Izuku’s tone is one Hitoshi’s heard a few times after the more gruesome nightmares and ensuing panic attacks. When the other boy didn’t want to talk but would still respond if Hitoshi needed to. Unsure if things were real or okay. Not confident in his welcome. Sometimes Hitoshi wonders about the bad parts of his brain that Izuku keeps talking about. They skirt around the darker parts of their issues but on rare occasions, Hitoshi can peer past the curtain. He hasn’t made out the shape in the shadows but he’s putting some pieces together when he’s not still following the “mind your business” motto. What can he say, Izuku inspires some curiosity with his contradictions. 

 

The tone is also one that prompts more of those--yuck--sentimental thoughts, so he shoots a lazy finger gun at Izuku and smirks. “Free of charge, buddy.” 

 

The teen chuckles, a little nervously, before biting his lip and adopting the trademark “sure, why the hell not” look so many exhausted people owned. 

 

“Go for it. You’d be a life-saver, at least for my art history grade.” 

 

“You sure?” 

 

“Yes, I trust--” Hitoshi snags him before he can say anything else sappy. This is why he usually wanders alone on late-night adventures. The emotion will make him break out in hives. 

 

He waves a hand in front of Izuku’s face to make sure he’s not pulling any bullshit with his own quirk and breaking out of control like the sports festival. Have they practiced with Izuku under Hitoshi’s control since then? Yes. Would it make sense for Izuku to break out of a brainwashing he specifically agreed to? No. Will Hitoshi still check? Absolutely. Izuku is the ultimate wildcard, especially with quirk shenanigans. 

 

Izuku’s eyes remain blank. Hitoshi is almost tempted to leave him like this in order for the guy to relax for a second. But ultimately this experiment will give him a full day of relaxation. He knows which he would prefer if he was Izuku. Now that he’s here, he doesn’t want to half-ass it. Giving the class supernova a nice day is the least he can do, right? The teenager’s been fighting off villains from day one. 

 

"Once you go to sleep, you will stay asleep until your alarm. When you wake up, you will not experience any anxiety for twenty-four hours."

 

The key to suggestive brainwashing, Hitoshi has found, is that he has to imbue his words with specific intent and focus. The command still runs in the back of the person’s mind because it is working towards a goal, not an order. A key difference that Izuku had highlighted in his journal entry for him. Hitoshi pushes as much “chill vibe” and “confidence in public speaking” as he can alongside the order. He has literally zero experience with the last one but he knows Izuku will appreciate it. 

 

And then in a moment of pure insomniac genius, Hitoshi wings it and finishes with: "just be true to yourself." Like some kind of pop singer or mental health guru. But Izuku’s already blinking when Hitoshi loosens the control so what’s done is done. 

 

“Did it work?” The shorter boy asks. Hitoshi nods, suddenly weary with his quirk use at less-than-optimal conditions. His head hurts. 

 

“You’ll wake up anxiety-free for the day.” 

 

“Ha,” Izuku breathes out with a trembling smile full of gratitude. “Thanks, Shinsou-kun. I really appreciate this. I’ll go to bed, then. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

 

Hitoshi mentally pats himself on the back for helping out his pretty friend. Izuku heaves himself up with a soft, genuine smile and offers a tiny wave goodnight before heading to the stairwell. 

 

Hitoshi watches him go and closes his eyes, still fused with the couch. He decides to catch whatever rest he can in the quiet common area and let the Hitoshi of tomorrow deal with his exhaustion. The Hitoshi of tomorrow has a confident Izuku to look forward to. The Hitoshi of that moment was finally giving in to the sweet siren call of sleep. 

 

It’d be fine, right? Yeah. 

 

It’d be fine. 

 

-.-.-

 

The first clue that something is off the next morning is Izuku casually walking through the class door before the bell rings sans his tie. If the abomination he usually wore could legally be classified as a tie. The top button of his shirt is even open. 

 

His smile is almost euphoric as he quietly greets his friends in his path to his desk. Iida turns red while holding back his concerned dress code lecture as Aizawa strolls into the room with a thermos of coffee as big as his head. Lucky bastard. 

 

“Good morning, sensei,” the class dutifully greets with varying levels of enthusiasm. Aizawa simply grunts and nods before cracking his shoulders. 

 

“Alright, we have some announcements.” 

 

Aizawa reels off their updated training schedule for the week, a request from Lunch Rush to not throw fish cakes at each other in the cafeteria (again), and a joint training session the school is setting up with Ketsubetsu Academy. 

 

The last announcement is met with excited cheers. In the midst of the class yelling questions about details and issuing vague threats to people who aren’t even in the room, Mineta rubs his hands together and bleats, “I bet they’ll have a ton of babes. We need some fresh eye candy around here.” 

 

“Hey, Mineta?” Izuku asks, turning in his chair to face the pervert behind him while Aizawa demands the class to calm down. “Shut the fuck up.” 

 

A pin dropping at that moment would be as loud as a gunshot. The class stares in shock. 

 

“Midoriya!” Iida yelps after coming to his senses. “Language!” 

 

“Oh, sorry,” Izuku pulls a contrite face and turns back to Mineta before speaking in perfect English, "shut the fuck up."

 

Hitoshi, who was already half-asleep since the first bell rang, chokes on air at the sharp pronunciation. Aizawa stares down his number one nuisance with such an incredulous look Hitoshi might wonder if he was having an aneurysm. Iida sure looked like he was experiencing one. Hitoshi watches in fascinated horror as Izuku nods once at Mineta’s slack-jawed self and turns to patiently look at their homeroom teacher. 

 

“What the hell,” Hitoshi is pretty sure that came from Kaminari. “Dude,” Kirishima breathes in either awe or fear. Hard to tell. He too cannot decide on what to feel in front of the oncoming trainwreck. He abruptly realizes that he may have made a mistake last night in the most entertaining way. 

 

Aizawa pinches the bridge of his nose and visibly prays for patience. Hitoshi has seen that stance many times during training and wholeheartedly sympathizes. 

 

“What’s wrong with you now, problem child?”

 

“Do you want the list chronologically or alphabetically?” Izuku fires back, pleasant as anything. Bakugou abruptly turns around in his desk chair to scowl.

 

“What the fuck, Deku?” 

 

Izuku slowly breaks eye contact to look Bakugou up and down. Then huffs and looks back at the teacher in dismissal. 

 

Hitoshi has never seen anything sexier. 

 

Wait, no. Stop that, brain. This is not the time. It’s crisis mode. 

 

Bakugou gargles out what passes as a scream but Aizawa’s Erasure and the threat of the capture weapon bring the blond from a raging boil to a dangerous simmer. Smoke starts to curl from his hands but Aizawa ignores it with practiced ease and continues his interrogation. 

 

“Are you under the effects of a quirk?” Oh god, Hitoshi was so in for it as the quirk effect in question. He didn’t know what weapon he was releasing upon his unsuspecting class but maybe if he was nice and repentant, they’d show him some mercy? 

 

“Hm, technically.” Izuku folds his hands in front of him, eyes crinkling as he smiles happily. Hitoshi wheezes into his palms, distressed. He knew Aizawa looked at him, he just knew it. Hopefully the rest of the class whispering or choking on scared laughter covered for him. 

 

“Are you going to elaborate?” 

 

“Do I need to?” 

 

A pause that lasted way too long for Hitoshi’s sanity. He can almost see the exact moment their teacher decides that no, actually, today is not the day to handle any shenanigans. 

 

“If,” he grits out, “you’re not hurt or experiencing any negative side effects, then no. Are you?” 

 

“Nope!” Izuku pops the “p” in an adorably annoying way. Is Aizawa’s eye twitching? Hitoshi is still too nervous to look up from hiding his face. He’d bet good money his mentor’s eye was twitching. 

 

“Alright...let a teacher know if you do have any issues.” And with that phrase, Aizawa has washed his hands of the problem child for the moment. Hitoshi knows he would kill to protect any of his students, but he’d also kill to have a vacation from the havoc they tend to wreak. Izuku smiles, expression still a little looser than normal. 

 

“Thank you, sensei, you’re the best,” he chirps. Actually chirps. Hitoshi is getting emotional whiplash. 

 

“We’re just going to ignore him telling me to shut up?” Mineta chimes in. The entire class shuts him down with a “yes.” Even Kouda was nodding. Izuku yawns. 

 

“Anyway,” Aizawa stresses the word, “we will have more details about the joint training session next week but it will take the second half of the day on Thursday. If you have any other questions, just. Ask me later. For now, stay quiet and don’t cause a scene.” He side-eyes the still smoking Bakugou who scowls.  

 

The underground hero then proceeds to carefully place his thermos on the desk and crawl into his sleeping bag to pass the rest of homeroom period in a mental health recovery nap. Half of the class immediately wants to join. The other half pounces. Bakugou growls and hunches over his desk. Hitoshi valiantly tries to ignore the increasingly louder questions from Iida and Kirishima by closing his eyes and pretending he was somewhere far, far away from the chaos. He knows deep in his bones this was only the beginning. 

 

“Midoriya, are you alright? If this quirk is affecting you we should head to Recovery Girl!” 

 

“Midoribro that was so manly! What kind of quirk is it?” 

 

“Oh my god, Midoriya, this is so weird.” 

 

“How’d you get hit by a quirk?"

 

“Midoriya-kun, as much as it is warranted otherwise, we should try to treat our fellow students with respect! We are hero students after all.” 

 

“Aizawa-sensei didn’t seem to care,” is the first thing Izuku says during the inquisition. 

 

“Regardless, we must act to an exemplary standard. I believe the quirk you are influenced by has hampered your usual demeanor but rest assured, we as a class will help. We can find another tie for you as well--”

 

“Don’t worry so much about the tie, Iida-kun.” 

 

“The dress code is important, Midoriya-kun!”

 

“It doesn’t seem to matter when Kacchan doesn’t wear his. You talk to him sometimes but it never sticks. Besides, I don’t know if what I do to my tie actually complies with dress code,” he snorts derisively at himself. 

 

“Yeah, it’s a little, um, wonky sometimes, dude.” Kaminari chuckles nervously. 

 

“It’s hard to tie it and I didn’t want to struggle with it today. I never had a dad to teach me the proper method and by the time I’d gotten comfortable enough with a father figure to ask, my hand doesn’t want to work as it should.” Izuku holds up his scarred and slightly crooked fingers while he rambles. “So if no one usually has a problem with it, the tie isn’t a big deal today, okay?” 

 

“Still,” Iida stutters over the word as his metaphorical engine stalls. The other nearby students shuffle awkwardly in place. “It’s important--” 

 

Izuku sighs. 

 

“Iida-kun, you’re one of my best friends and I treasure you greatly, but please don’t lecture me about inconsequential rules when you’re the first and only one here to attempt murder.” 

 

“What?!” 

 

“Class prez? Murder? ” 

 

“I mean, I’ve thought about it,” Todoroki murmurs to himself beneath the yelling. Hitoshi only hears because his desk is right next to the heterochromatic teen. He’s overheard a lot of interesting non-sequiturs from his deskmate and honestly? This wasn’t even top ten. 

 

“Soft same.” Oh, that’s Uraraka who’s standing close to their desks. She’d typically be one of the first checking in on Izuku but it seems her danger sense is top-tier because she immediately backed away from the ticking time bomb that was surrounding the green-haired boy. She watches in amusement as Ashido and Kaminari turn to Iida and ask what looks like extremely prying questions. Their class president stammers out excuses, face bright red and bad at lying. Izuku is also watching in amusement as the interrogation shifts away from him. 

 

Izuku with his damn sixth sense must feel all three of them staring because he glances over and fucking winks. His curly hair is as wild as usual and a smirk plays on his lips. Uraraka squeaks and Todoroki freezes in place. Hitoshi hunches his shoulders.  

 

“Oh no,” he groans in gay panic. “Oh noooooo.” 

 

“Okay, what’s going on?” Uraraka asks. She’s looking straight at Hitoshi. Damn observant people. 

 

“I don’t know,” he tries. A dangerous glint enters the girl’s eyes. “Okay, okay! Look, um.” 

 

Todoroki and Uraraka listen in fascination as Hitoshi quietly explains Izuku worrying over his presentation the previous night and his offer to brainwash him. 

 

“It’s really only to relax him so he wouldn’t stress over his grade today. I was not expecting that. Whatever that is.” 

 

“You were just trying to help,” Todoroki comforts him with all of the verbal emotion of wet cardboard. For a boy who has slowly been growing into social awareness the past year, he still isn’t the best at reassurance but Hitoshi will take what he can get. Uraraka nods sympathetically. 

 

“I should see if I can override the command.” Hitoshi sighs.  

 

“What? Why?” 

 

“Can you even un-brainwash someone?” Todoroki asks. 

 

“‘Why’?” He repeats incredulously. He manfully ignores the doubt in Todoroki’s question. “We’re not even a half-hour into the school day and Aizawa-sensei has already given up from Midoriya’s aura alone. I know how this is going to play out. Hint: there will be tears.” Mostly his own. 

 

“You just took away his anxiety for the day, right? That’s a nice thing to do. Stopping it now is a little mean,” she tries to explain. He understands. He doesn’t like the thought of bringing Izuku’s anxiety and stress back either. Izuku deserves a day off from his demons and the idea of inviting them right back into his head leaves a bad taste in Hitoshi’s mouth. (Nevermind the fact that he maybe sort of isn’t sure how to do it anyway, but damn it. He’s going to be a hero. He has to try to stop collateral damage.) 

 

“I’ll admit, this would be nice of me if I hadn’t fucked up. Okay? It’s not just anxiety. I suggested that he be true to himself too.” 

 

“Wait, this is true to himself?” Uraraka startles. She seems conflicted, wondering if what she’s known about her friend has been a lie. Todoroki continues to stare at Izuku but this time in contemplation. Izuku moves on from the crowd in front of him and focuses on his ever-present notebook, enthusiastically writing what Hitoshi is sure are world domination plans. 

 

“I think this is Midoriya without any inhibitions,” Todoroki states. “He’s still him but less…” 

 

“Nervous?” She finishes as he trails off. 

 

“Fucked up?” Hitoshi offers. Uraraka swats at him without a glance in his direction. Ow. 

 

“...I was going to say desperate to make everyone like him but that seemed too mean.” 

 

The three pause for a second. Uraraka pouts. 

 

“That’s...kind of accurate though. Aw. Deku.” 

 

“I really feel like I should stop this,” Hitoshi mutters. He’s conflicted. No matter what he does at this point he’d be a little guilty. Bring back Izuku’s anxiety after promising to help? Or let Izuku’s unfiltered brain roam unsupervised and make the boy deal with the fallout? 

 

Uraraka gently places a hand on his shoulder. Her face is determined and bright. 

 

“No. No, let it play out.” 

 

He is abruptly reminded that this is the same group of friends who went off to save a kidnapped classmate with only some discount disguises. They all regularly pushed themselves past the point of exhaustion out of some weird cycle of encouragement and empowerment. Uraraka herself flung herself across cities with zero gravity to punch people in the face while laughing. None of them were remotely normal. They thrived in the chaos. 

 

Tsuyu is the only sane one in the Dekusquad, he swears. He needs to buy her a fruit basket or something. 

 

He gapes at Uraraka for a long moment, trying to figure out how to organize his thoughts beyond blue-screening.

 

“You’re actually freaking out about this.” Todoroki still has yet to look away from Izuku’s back even as he talks to them. 

 

Hitoshi clasps his hands together and presses them to his mouth. “I don’t think you understand. You both should know how much trouble Midoriya can get into on a regular day.” 

 

“...you have a point.” 

 

“It’ll be fine,” Todoroki says blandly. 

 

“Listen. He is a sarcastic little shit with a heart of gold, a genius brain, and enough anxiety to nerf God. I just took away the last one. You realize that I may have doomed us all?”

 

Uraraka hums doubtfully. “I don’t think it’ll get that bad.” 

 

“No,” Todoroki interrupts. His eyes are distant, remembering something fondly based on the soft smile on his usually impassive face. “No, it’ll get pretty bad.” 

 

He finally looks back over to Hitoshi with passionate confidence. “We’ll still let it happen.” 

 

Maniacs, all of them. 

 

“If we’re doing this, you’re coming with me.” If Izuku was upset at his own behavior when he woke up tomorrow, Hitoshi would not be the only one complicit. He can at least say he put up a token protest and tried to stop it. Part of him wants to take this whole day back and keep it from going too off the rails. Protect his friend’s dignity. 

 

The other part (the one that may make him an unofficial Dekusquad member) thinks it’d be nice to have some popcorn for the show. 

 

“Well, no helping it!” Uraraka says. She waves to catch Tsuyu’s attention across the room from where she was talking to Jirou and Tokoyami. She beckons the frog girl to join them and while Tsuyu gets up--a surprising Jirou following--Uraraka bounces over to the small group standing near Izuku. 

 

“Disperse!” Uraraka channels her inner Iida and chops the air dramatically. She grabs said boy by the arm and drags him away. Kirishima, Kaminari, and Ashido pout at losing their source of answers before turning to a tetchy Bakugou and bemused Sero.

 

“Okay, so!” The girl starts when Iida, Tsuyu, and Jirou are standing around Todoroki’s and Shinsou’s desks. Wait, when did Yaoyorozu show up? He hadn’t seen her approach but she was suddenly there next to Jirou with a concerned look on her face, glancing at Izuku who was only a few desks away.

 

“No need to worry. Deku’s going to be fine! He had asked Shinsou-kun to brainwash him for something and it’s only going to last the day.

 

“It’s complicated,” he starts. Jirou smirks and says, “I already heard. This is funny as hell.” 

 

Well, if Jirou already eavesdropped, he has no doubt Shouji also knows the situation. Luckily the two people with the quirks best suited to information gathering were chill and could keep their damn mouths shut. Hagakure, the other stealth expert, was a little too gossipy for Hitoshi’s personal tastes. 

 

“Will Midoriya really be fine?” Iida asks, completely tense. Will this really only last a day? Hitoshi hears. 

 

“Yes. It’s only for twenty-four hours.” 

 

“He’s already fine,” Uraraka reassures. Iida’s still flushed and slightly chagrined face says otherwise. 

 

“Why twenty-four?” 

 

“That’s the longest I’ve seen it hold.” At least for a one-time thought implant. He hasn’t gotten the exact science down yet. 

 

“How’s it possible you can brainwash anxiety away, anyway?” Jirou asks in a low voice. Hitoshi shrugs, not willing to disclose the full details of his suggestive brainwashing training. Tsuyu and Yaoyorozu immediately understand like the queens they are. 

 

“So that’s what happened, kero.” 

 

“We just have to power through and support Deku!” Uraraka cheers. Iida’s already frowning. 

 

“Is there a way to reverse the effect?” 

 

“Nope!” She firmly denies. Like the chaotic liar she apparently is. Hitoshi’s a little impressed. 

 

Jirou--sensible, down-to-earth Jirou--raises an eyebrow at him in mock skepticism but then shrugs and accepts Uraraka’s statement. She just heard how he’s currently feeling about this whole mess and apparently has decided to just go with the flow. Like he’s not concerned for the mental well-being of the school. 

 

“Don’t you want Deku-kun to be happy and relaxed?” 

 

“Well, I suppose.” 

 

Hitoshi tries not to snort. He doubts relaxation will be the end result. Iida is certainly not relaxed. 

 

“It’s fascinating that you can do this, Shinsou-kun!” Yaoyorozu praised. “Though I must say, maybe it’s more plausible that your quirk has ordered Midoriya-kun to act a certain way than altering a chemical imbalance. I’d love to discuss it more.” 

 

“If you’re able to just turn anxiety off, you should talk to the business department about selling your services, kero,” Tsuyu says. Teases? Wait, is she teasing him or is she honestly offering advice? Some pocket change would be nice but it sounded like a lot more work and socializing that he really wants to deal with. 

 

“Technically Shinsou-kun’s quirk is just suppressing certain chemicals in my brain.” Izuku’s voice startles all eight students by suddenly cutting into their conversation. “My body is following the command even if I’m not consciously able to do so. It’s an interesting sensation. Honestly, I feel a little high.” 

 

The green-haired teenager looks over at them from his desk with a peaceful expression. 

 

“...how much did you hear?” Hitoshi asks, shocked. Izuku just grins. 

 

“Homeroom’s ending.” 

 

The bell rings at that exact second and Aizawa is already inching along the floor in his sleeping bag. Hitoshi watches the demented caterpillar escape with jealousy. 

 

Cementoss’ lecture is as dry as usual. Hitoshi actually loves reading and languages but some of the literature their teacher picks for class could be written off as a medical sleep aid. Nothing against the hero at all, Hitoshi certainly respects the guy, but he’d engage more students with something other than the book equivalent of plain wheat toast. 

 

The entire first period passes with zero incident except for the occasional glance at Izuku. The teen’s shoulders are completely tension-free but his posture isn’t his usual hunch over his desk. He’s leaning back in his chair and taking notes at the world’s most casual speed of light. Hitoshi swears he sees green sparks from Izuku’s hands but the rest of his body remains unhurried. 

 

Second period starts with Ectoplasm collecting their papers on biology and DNA for this module of their science class. He begins his lecture as usual, discussing mutation quirks and genetics.

 

“Who can tell me what makes a mutation quirk biologically different from any other quirk?” Izuku immediately shoots his hand up and the teacher calls on him.  

 

Izuku smiles and waves his hands emphatically as he speaks. “It’s quite interesting, sensei! There are different levels of mutation quirks that have been studied, and the general scientific consensus assumes that these differences can be traced along the chloroplast DNA from a person’s genomes. Most non-mutated quirks don’t have the same genome sequencing. It varies for every individual, of course, but there’s a noticeable sequencing difference between someone with an overall quirk mutation like Tsuyu-chan or Ojiro-kun’s quirks and mutations that occur alongside the development of the quirk factor, like Tokoyami-kun or Hagakure-chan’s!” 

 

“Wait, I don’t have a mutation quirk,” says the invisible girl. 

 

“We are literally unable to see you,” Izuku points out. 

 

“B-But the quirk analyst in elementary said I had an emitter quirk that was just always active.” 

 

“Hagakure-chan, no,” Izuku tilts his head, “that analyst was a certifiable idiot. If you had an emitter quirk, Aizawa-sensei would be able to turn you visible when he erased it. But since he can’t affect your quirk factor beyond restricting your light flash attacks you obviously have a physical mutation as well as a quirk factor. Just because you can manipulate one part of your quirk as if it was an emitter does not classify the full scope of your abilities the same way. Your quirk is light refraction mutanism, please update your paperwork and tell me the name of that analyst so we can publicly shame them.” 

 

“What,” Hagakure tries to say but just ends up squeaking. They can’t see her hands but her sleeves are flailing. 

 

“...alright then.” Ectoplasm clears his throat. “Do you have anything else to add, Midoriya?” 

 

“Only that the prevailing misconception about mutation quirks stem from being under-researched and that speaking on a cellular level, every quirk is a mutation quirk as it physically mutates some part of the brain or body in order to activate the quirk. We simply classify quirks based on their attributes or functions and have found these minor genetic differences between emitter, mental, and physical mutation quirks to further establish said differences. Of course, as I said, there is a standard deviation in a person’s DNA when they have a visible mutation quirk versus something like telekinesis. More research is needed to truly understand the development of these physical mutations in the womb since other quirks tend to “activate” around a certain age, but more scientists are veering away from mutation studies due to growing quirkist beliefs,” Izuku infodumps. “Also the chapter on hereditary quirk genetics in the textbook is wrong. I can bring you the corrections, sensei.” 

 

“Damn, tell ‘em,” Sero breathes out in the stunned silence. 

 

Ectoplasm stands in place for several long seconds before sighing, nodding once, and continuing the lesson. He doesn’t call on Izuku for the remaining period. 

 

Their next class is English but as they’re bracing for the sheer vibrancy of Present Mic, they’re greeted with Aizawa’s defeated stare when he comes through the door. 

 

“Where is Mic-sensei?” Ojiro raises his hand. Aizawa blinks at him for a second before sighing. 

 

“The idiot tried to come into work feeling sick. He’s been sent home to rest, so we’re covering his classes.” 

 

“Is he alright?” asks Jirou, who's made no secret that Present Mic is her favorite teacher and role model. Aizawa nods. 

 

“Recovery Girl said it was a simple stomach bug and he should be fine with rest and medicine. He’ll be back in tomorrow.” Several teens sigh in relief, Hitoshi joining in quietly. As a rule, he doesn’t like loud people even if he’s surrounded by them, but Present Mic is an honest and kind teacher who is gentle with the quieter members of their class. He’s Hitoshi’s second favorite adult in the school. 

 

Aoyama also raises his hand. 

 

“Are you going to teach us English, sensei?” 

 

“Absolutely not,” Aizawa responds immediately. Hitoshi knows the hero is fluent in English--whether from his own studies or just osmosis through his best friend, he’s not sure. He has the qualifications to give them an English lesson. 

 

“...then why are you the one substituting, Aizawa-sensei?” Izuku asks, straight-forward. Iida almost flinches at the perceived rudeness. Aizawa pointedly does not look at Izuku and just grunts out, “this will be a self-study period” and shakes out his sleeping bag. 

 

Hitoshi smirks at his mentor treating this opportunity as another naptime. Izuku chuckles as well. The class collectively sweat-drops when Aizawa disappears behind the podium. Then immediately scrambles to do everything but study with the free time they’ve been miraculously given. Hitoshi debates napping as well. 

 

Izuku stretches and Hitoshi does not look. The green-haired boy stands from his desk and walks over to Hagakure with a leisurely pace. 

 

“Hagakure-chan, I was serious about checking up on your paperwork. There’s also a lot of resources I can provide you about a dual emitter-mutant quirk.” 

 

“Thanks, Midoriya-kun!” She says with an awkward chuckle. She fidgets in place. “Though I’m not sure how to feel about my quirk being completely wrong after all of these years.” 

 

Izuku, who probably would’ve apologized profusely and stammered on a usual day, just shrugs and nods. “Understandable. Let me know if you have any questions, okay? Having to suddenly understand changes to your quirk can be daunting.” 

 

If anyone would know, it’s the boy wonder himself who kept revealing new aspects of his quirk in what felt like every other training session. 

 

Kirishima bounds up to the boy, interrupting whatever Hagakure was about to reply with.

 

“Hey, Midori-bro, that was awesome earlier! Do you think you can analyze my quirk too? Please?” 

 

“Oh, me too!” Ashido adds. 

 

“I...I would like to know as well,” Tokoyami quietly states. 

 

Izuku lights up. He goes to his bag and pulls out a notebook before returning, flips it open, and cracks his knuckles. “I thought you’d never ask.” 

 

What proceeds is the politest and most helpful smackdown Hitoshi has ever witnessed. He excuses himself from that party. It wouldn’t matter much since he’d gotten recent updates for his quirk analysis just two weeks ago per one long-winded text in the middle of the night. Then again, Izuku might have even more to add but Hitoshi is content to simply watch. 

 

Izuku flies through compliments without a hint of shame, praising his classmates’ techniques and abilities. He’s enthusiastic about Kirishima’s unbreakable mode, Kaminari’s new directional gear, Tokoyami’s flight ability by using Dark Shadow. He goes through all of his classmates surrounding him as they gravitate towards the group, Bakugou scoffing by himself in a corner and Mineta blatantly ignored by everyone. 

 

Then Izuku goes straight for the jugular, or the heart of his curiosity. 

 

He points out flaws in Kirishima’s fighting style and the openings he leaves. “Also actually look into protective gear for your costume. I get that shirts might be restrictive with your quirk but you won’t always be able to react to a sneak attack and an exposed chest just screams attack me to villains.” Kirishima’s enthusiastically nodding when Izuku grabs his hands. “Also, please stop saying everything is manly. Please. I don’t think I have the time to really dive into gender identity and pigeonholing yourself or others into certain masculine stereotypes as a personality trait but remind me to lend you some books later.” 

 

“Kaminari-kun, you cannot go for the all-out attack as it leaves you vulnerable. Aizawa-sensei was right that it is difficult to save others if you are capacitated and I think you could also benefit from that advice. Have you tried capacitors or limiters so you don’t overload? Like batteries? Maybe work on your physical combat abilities instead of your quirk so you can effectively tase people? Your close-range capabilities are somewhat lacking.”

 

“Ojiro-kun, seriously look into weaponry. Maybe a gun. Villains are expecting to watch for your tail or your fighting style but they won’t expect a bullet or knife. You always need an advantage with a physical mutation such as yours. You’re intuitive and with a little practice you could be very efficient as an apprehension hero.” 

 

“Momo-chan I mean this in the nicest, least-Mineta-way possible but you need to both eat more and change your costume. There are so many weaknesses. You don’t have enough fat stores to properly use your quirk especially with the larger scale canons you’re fond of, which, we’ll get to later. But without those extra lipids, you’ll find yourself running low in a drawn-out battle. Also, you know support can make a costume with your DNA so your creations will phase through the fabric instead of having to take your shirt off? Actually, Hagakure-chan, did you know that about your own costume? Here, let me give you Hatsume Mei’s phone number. I swear, no one cares about durability or underage protection laws--” 

 

At least half the class receives a thorough analysis that balances both their strengths and smacktalks their weaknesses. Hitoshi spots their classmates honestly taking notes or writing down Izuku’s suggestions in a stupor. At least, when they’re not staring into space completely blind-sided or questioning their life choices. Kirishima and Kaminari in particular are flabbergasted and scrambling. 

 

Some of the other teenagers receive seemingly random comments or weird questions. 

 

“Do you think if you concentrated on a light enough PH level, you could make acid that causes hallucination? Like a literal acid trip?” He asks Ashido who lights up. Hitoshi can almost feel Aizawa’s migraine from here. 

 

“Could you control Principal Nedzu?” He asks Kouda who blinks rapidly. “Since he’s also an animal? He has intelligence but your quirk is essentially brainwashing animals. Do they remember what you asked them to do? Do they have opinions on it? You’re very kind and polite so I’m sure they don’t care but have you tried on animals with quirks? Do you think Principal Nedzu could communicate with you without the human language?” 

 

“I’d like to measure your strength both on sugar and off sugar. Oh, and with different types of sugar too! For science!” He demands of Sato who can only nod, perturbed. 

 

He literally walks up to Shouji’s desk and pouts. “You’re too tall and honestly I’m offended,” which causes everyone to laugh. Shouji, in an unprecedented move, simply stands and offers Izuku a hug. The shorter boy squints his eyes but accepts, hugging back. Shouji wraps six arms around Izuku and gently squeezes. 

 

Hitoshi knows how Izuku feels about hugs, weirdly touch-starved that he is. He shudders the tiniest bit but if anyone notices, no one says anything. Shouji holds the boy for a few seconds longer. Izuku clears his throat, a little confused but happy. 

 

“Alright, I’m not offended anymore.” 

 

Uraraka and Hagakure giggle, a few others chuckling too. 

 

Shouji just releases Izuku and crinkles his eyes, smiling behind his mask. He returns to his seat as Izuku narrows in on Aoyama, saying something about cheese consumption and low-level lactose intolerance, but Hitoshi narrows in as Shouji leans back in his chair, the mouth on his arm almost smirking. He notices both Tokoyami and Hitoshi looking at him. 

 

“Hugging always calms down short people.” 

 

Dark Shadow peeks out beneath Tokoyami’s cape and cackles while Hitoshi snorts. The rest of the students surrounding Izuku laugh and talk amongst themselves, still keeping everyone close by. Shouji’s shoulders shake in silent laughter. 

 

Hitoshi thinks having friends suits the other boy. 

 

“Tokoyami! I have so many questions about you and Dark Shadow, you have no idea.” Izuku approaches after leaving Aoyama sparkling but a little green in the face. 

 

“We will do our best to assist,” the bird-headed boy says solemnly. “Your guidance is greatly appreciated.” 

 

Dark Shadow grins at Izuku. “What Fumi said!” They screech loudly. 

 

“Stupid,” Bakugou huffs and mutters under his breath but still characteristically loud. “Who the fuck even cares about Deku’s bullshit?”  

 

Dark Shadow scowls and Izuku pauses.

 

"Kacchan, acting like a dick won't make yours any bigger, so shut the fuck up unless you've got something constructive to say."

 

“Oh shit,” Ashido whisper-screams. Bakugou immediately stands up, apoplectic. 

 

Kirishima places a strong hand on Bakugou’s shoulder who violently shrugs it off. 

 

“Do not start a fight,” Aizawa intones from behind the podium. “I will expel all of you.” 

 

Most of the class hold their breath while Bakugou vibrates angrily for long, long seconds. Kirishima hovers nearby while the blond takes deep breaths and scowls at his desk. Izuku watches placidly as Bakugou huffs, digs in his bag, and pulls out headphones. He turns on music and folds his arms like the ornery bastard he is. Hitoshi spares a second to remind himself how little he actually cares. 

 

Hitoshi also marks a tally for his mentor: Aizawa is obviously checked out from whatever he thinks is happening with Izuku to spare his remaining sanity but hey. He hadn’t stopped the verbal humiliation, only Bakugou’s meltdown. He’s been telling Izuku that Aizawa is secretly sadistic and laughs at their pain for a while now. 

 

(Izuku never doubted him but it’ll be nice to have yet another example.) 

 

Izuku enthusiastically starts asking questions to both Tokoyami and Dark Shadow once it’s clear Bakugou won’t interrupt again. He lulls a bit when he’s distracted by writing their answers down. 

 

“Do you do this for everyone you meet?” Jiro asks, fascinated at the full notebook still in Izuku’s hands. She’s sitting on Ashido’s desk. 

 

“Not really. I started analyzing hero fights so I have a lot more heroes and villains than people we know, but all of your quirks are so interesting I couldn’t help myself.” 

 

“What kind of heroes do you have? Do you have Crimson Riot?” Kirishima’s sparkling so much in excitement that Aoyama looks a little impressed. Izuku flips through his notebook. 

 

Hitoshi sees Todoroki startle out of the corner of his eye. There’s a mad scramble to his pocket and to pull out his phone. The other boy surreptitiously glances between his phone and Izuku for several seconds before he props the phone up against his notebook, camera facing the other boy, and turns to Hitoshi. 

 

“Shinsou, I need a favor.” 

 

Hitoshi raises his eyebrow. The last time Todoroki asked someone for a favor there were a dozen exploded eggs all over the dorm kitchen. “Yeah?” 

 

“Can you ask Midoriya what he thinks of Endeavor?”

 

“Your dad?” 

 

The disgusted nose scrunch that Todoroki responds with only lasts a nanosecond but speaks volumes. Hitoshi prides himself on being able to read people (he’s worked hard on learning psycho-analyzation skills to get even the most hard-headed idiots to respond) so he’s always known Todoroki has some kind of issue with his family. Who wouldn’t with a famous and famously hot-headed father? But the look on his face makes Hitoshi wonder just what kind of issues might actually be going on. Then again, not his personal business. 

 

He’ll maybe, possibly do some digging though. Insomnia leads to all kinds of late-night research binges. 

 

“Why can’t you just ask Midoriya yourself if you really want to know?” He asks. 

 

Todoroki looks away. Is that a blush? Can the thermodynamic wonder even do that? 

 

“I would consider it a favor if you could ask for me.” 

 

Huh. “Alright, not like it’s a big deal for me.” Like it apparently is for you, he wants to say but refrains. He tries to curb some of his more asshole tendencies around his classmates. Well, explodo-boy and sour-grapes as the exceptions. Besides, this is simple enough to do for his quiet desk neighbor and Hitoshi thinks he should maybe rack up some karma before the day is over, if just to balance out what he’s caused. 

 

“Hey, Midoriya?” He catches Izuku’s attention. “How about Endeavor?”  

 

More than one person quickly looks over at Todoroki, who immediately schools his face into pleasant neutrality. A pause in the air. 

 

The meanest smile Hitoshi has ever witnessed spreads across his Izuku’s lips. And Hitoshi was bullied for several years. 

 

“Ohoho,” Izuku suddenly chortles like a deranged man. “I fucking hate the bitch.” 

 

“Oh my god.” 

 

“Midoriya-kun!” 

 

“Daaaaaamn.” 

 

“Do tell, mon ami.” 

 

Hitoshi realizes he may have unleashed a beast. Their classmates only continue to feed it. Izuku proceeds to dismantle the number two hero systematically and without mercy. Hitoshi forces himself to look away from the angrily gesturing Izuku to the rest of the class who are slowly listening with shock and horror. He’d never liked Endeavor much as a hero, too used to brute force, and if Aizawa’s stories are true, too disparaging towards underground and support heroes.

 

Izuku himself outlines several instances of Endeavor not working with a team or respecting other heroes. How rude and aloof he could be towards victims and fans alike. He actually quotes news footage and interviews of the man, calling him a “narcissistic garbage dump who took the trash and decided to spew it from his mouth.” 

 

Endeavor’s property damage numbers are astronomically high. His criminal injury rate is even higher. “He’s as destructive as the number of villains captured in Japan in the last seven months combined. I have a whole spreadsheet. It’s an honest wonder how he hasn’t been arrested.” 

 

“I didn’t know any of this,” Yaoyorozu exclaims, horrified. Iida has a scandalized hand pressed to his face. Kouda is scowling.

 

“Um, Todoroki, are you okay?” Sero asks. He’s awkward and just as disgusted as the rest of the class but is kind enough to check in on the other boy who is startled out of his dreamy mooning over Izuku. 

 

“None of this is really a surprise if I am honest.” Todoroki lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug while everyone stares at him. 

 

“All of this is public knowledge, you just have to look for it,” Izuku points out. “Unfortunately there’s a lot of heroes out there that have horrible records with no consequences. Something needs to be done but too much is swept under the rug for limelight heroes.” 

 

“Like what Stain was saying?” Kaminari asks then immediately tenses when both Izuku and Iida turn to glare. Jirou swats his arm. “Shit, sensitive topic. I’m sorry, Iida.” 

 

The class president visibly composes himself. “As we’ve discussed before, I can somewhat understand Stain’s ideals and appeal. I accept your apology, Kaminari-kun.” 

 

“I don’t,” Izuku mutters. Kaminari squeaks in fear. 

 

“Midoriya-kun, it’s alright. My brother would not want me to be petty over a classmate’s words.” 

 

Oh, Iida, Hitoshi thinks. Your brother isn’t here right now. 

 

He can almost visibly see Izuku agree with that thought as he frowns and turns back to Kaminari. 

 

“Stain was narrow-sighted and stupid. He in no way tried to actually change anything. He was a killer for killing's sake and whatever grand plan he thought he had would’ve imploded in his noseless fucking face if he used an ounce of logic.” 

 

“Huh?” The electric quirk user meeps. “I don’t, um…” 

 

As Izuku starts passionately talking about the concepts of psychopathic prejudices and the fallacy of being judge, jury, and executioner with implicit bias, Hitoshi zones out and tries not to fluster himself. He hears “gave a bad name to vigilantism” and “All Might fanboy gone rabid” (which is painfully ironic to hear from Izuku, not that Hitoshi would ever say that out loud). He glances over at Todoroki who is not paying attention to the discussion about the literal serial killer he’d encountered but instead smiling softly at his phone. 

 

“Worth it?” He mumbles to Todoroki out of curiosity. The other boy nods. Hitoshi raises an eyebrow and nods at the phone. “Why’d you record that?” 

 

Bluntly as ever, Todoroki simply turns the phone to show Hitoshi a group chat, saying, “I wanted my siblings to experience it.” 

 

Hitoshi has literally nothing to say beyond more questions, this time about Todoroki’s mental state, so he just glances over the texts. A “Fuyumi” has sent several lines of emojis, many of which are laughing or crying. A “Natsuo” has at least three keysmashes. A new group of texts pops up as Hitoshi is reading. 

 

Natsuo: god damn greenie go off

Natsuo: shouto marry that boy

Natsuo: or i will

 

Hitoshi snorts when Todoroki reads that. He leans on his hands and unfocuses his eyes, listening to the lull of Izuku’s voice and the rare interruption of someone asking a question. He forces himself to zone back in before he can fall asleep. When he looks around, he sees Todoroki staring at his phone, the screen angled just so that Hitoshi can glimpse the contents. 

 

He’s looking at rings. 

 

Hitoshi thunks his head to the desk and has to cough into his elbow to muffle his laughter. This boy is a whole trip, he thinks as he tries to mask his chuckles. 

 

His amusement is cut short by a loud “hah?!” causing him to look up. 

 

Uraraka is smirking at Izuku who snorts. Bakugou is glaring over from his desk, headphones off once more. 

 

“I just wanted to know if Deku-kun had anything about Bakugou!” 

 

“What brought this up?” Hitoshi asks no one in particular. Todoroki doesn’t respond, still browsing through his phone. The other closest person, Shouji, just looks at him briefly before shrugging. Excellent. Fountains of information, all of you. 

 

“He talked about all of us and what we’re doing wrong. Why not be fair and also talk about Bakugou?” The gravity girl ignores the pointed growl sent her way.

 

“Aw come on Blasty!” Ashido, bless her, tries to joke. “What’s the harm?” 

 

“That shitty nerd’s not going to say one damn thing I don’t already know about my quirk.” 

 

“Then I’m sure he has something to say about your hero personality!” Uraraka exclaims. “Or maybe some embarrassing stories? You’ve known each other forever after all!” 

 

“Don’t you fucking dare!” Bakugou warns. He’s gripping the edges of his desk too tightly to be good for his hands. He is summarily ignored. 

 

Uraraka, like the professional shit-stirrer she is, just faces Izuku and bats her eyelashes. “Well?” 

 

“Where to start? I have a whole list of grievances about Kacchan! There’s the time he broke my All Might figurine in preschool when we were playing, the time when he made me eat his mom’s cooking because he felt bad wasting it but it tasted awful, the time he vomited on the couch but blamed me and I had to clean it. Oh! There’s the time he burned my notebook--” 

 

“Stop, shitty nerd!” 

 

“Those were pretty tame,” Izuku says. He rests his cheek on his palm, leaning on his desk and watching Bakugou from the corner of his eye. “I have so much more.” 

 

“Shut the hell up!” Bakugou screams.  

 

“Mn, no, I don’t think I will.” 

 

“Shut your damn mouth before I make you,” Bakugou threatens at top volume and ignites a single palm. The class, who had been watching the exchange like a high-speed tennis match, tense in anticipation. 

 

Izuku’s on his feet so fast he’s a blur. His own palm slams against the desk. Everyone flinches at the sudden noise and movement. Hitoshi almost flinches from Izuku’s feral grin.

 

“I’d like to see you try, Ka-cchan,” he enunciates each syllable with purpose and a chill sweeps through the room. Bakugou flushes red and grinds his teeth. 

 

Aizawa drags himself out of his sleeping bag to glare at both boys as Bakugou lets out an unholy screech of frustration. 

 

“What did I say about fighting? Do I need to repeat myself?” 

 

They both sit back in their seats, one calmer than the other. Izuku watches Bakugou from the corner of his eye but doesn’t make any further comment. He still smirks at the blond boy. 

 

Aizawa’s face practically screams that he needs a vacation. Maybe Hitoshi should be nice and bring him a latte for their next training session. Or they could go to a cat cafe afterward? He's conflicted about the obvious annoyance on his mentor’s face. There’s really only so much an exhausted man can take, isn’t there? 

 

No more confrontations happen during their not-quite-English period. Ashido and Hagakure distract from the tension and cajole the class into making “get well” cards for Present Mic. Hitoshi draws a doodle of a bird, having heard Aizawa call his best friend a cockatoo many, many times. Yaoyorozu creates craft supplies and he notes that Izuku’s card is incredibly well-sketched and also a horrifying contrast of neon colors. Present Mic will love it. Aizawa disappears from the room like a ghost before anyone can ask him to deliver the gifts. 

 

Midnight strolls into class next, smiling and reminding the students about their presentations. Many groan, a couple cheer, and Izuku actually seems excited to speak in public. Hitoshi relaxes a little at seeing the goal of the brainwashing come to fruition. The art history teacher grins and connects the projector. Iida volunteers to go first, robotically going through armor motifs in different art pieces, Aoyama riveted and sparkling. A few others present their reports on different paintings or propaganda pieces. Izuku then offers to go next, leading Hitoshi to realize the fiftieth mistake he’s made in this effort to be a good friend. 

 

Izuku without the fear of public speaking is magnetic. 

 

He practically prowls to the front of the class. He clicks through his presentation--yes, on an All Might series of artwork--with passion and not a stutter in sight. Midnight is against a wall, hands clasped in front of her and squealing in delight. She’s almost sparkling as her most anxious student commands the room with nothing but his words. 

 

Izuku musses his hair when clicking to the next slide, head tilted to highlight his jaw. Hitoshi isn’t the only one who has to gulp or take a deep breath. Uraraka is bright pink, Jirou is pointedly staring at her desk, and Aoyama is biting his lip. Todoroki stares, open-mouthed. 

 

The confidence Izuku holds when he gestures with his hand and grins in delight at the entranced class is almost overwhelming. He can practically see Ojiro and Sero questioning everything they knew about themselves and their love lives. Hitoshi is too mentally exhausted for this collective level of gay panic but there’s no escaping. Not when Izuku beams and asks, “any questions?” and absentmindedly licks his lips. 

 

“Great job, Midoriya!” Midnight praises after several seconds of the class rebooting. “It’s like a whole new you. Channel this confidence for your PR lessons, cutie!” 

 

Izuku laughs sheepishly and nods. He sits down and the rest of the class continues with at least one person always staring at Izuku, who is enraptured in all of the following presentations. More than one classmate gets flustered beneath his intense stare. When everyone finishes, Midnight offers both compliments and criticisms just in time for the lunch bell to ring. 

 

“I’m starving,” Izuku groans, popping out of his seat and heading towards his friends. He enthusiastically leads them to the cafeteria. 

 

Everyone follows in morbid curiosity, half still under Izuku’s spell. Kirishima has enough wherewithal to notice Bakugou stomping away as the rest of his friend group follows the entire class to a single, long table. Kirishima glances between the energetic teens before sighing and following his blond friend. Hitoshi wonders if Kirishima knows he’s too good for this world.

 

The Dekusquad claims the closest seats to Izuku but the rest pile in wherever they can. Todoroki practically teleports to Izuku’s right side. Tokoyami sits next to Hitoshi and picks at his apple slices, feathers somewhat ruffled. Hitoshi bro-nods at Dark Shadow who peeks out from behind the boy’s back. 

 

“I liked your presentation, Mido!” Ashido compliments. 

 

“It was very well done,” Iida adds. His cheeks are still lightly dusted pink. They darken when Izuku smiles and thanks him. 

 

They chat about the presentations for several minutes while everyone grabs food and starts eating. 

 

“Speaking of fashion choices,” Ashido says when they talk about the wilder costumes during the start of the quirk era that Yaoyorozu presented on, “Mido, do you think you’ll be keeping this look?” 

 

“Hm?” Izuku responds, mouth full of rice. 

 

“The whole open-collar sexy vibe you have.” 

 

“Sexy?” He asks, eyebrows raised. Ashido nods enthusiastically. 

 

“Yeah! I’m digging the style.” 

 

“It does look good,” Ojiro mumbles at the end of the table. 

 

Izuku hums, poking his meal with his chopsticks. “I might. I don’t like how my ties usually turn out but I didn’t want to cause any issues about the dress code.” 

 

Iida glances away, still remembering the confrontation from the morning and embarrassed. 

 

“It’s definitely better than your attempts at tying,” Kaminari teases. 

 

“I’ll do your tie for you,” Todoroki leans in. He’s watching Izuku intently. “Any day, just ask.” 

 

“Oooh very smooth,” Dark Shadow notes. Hitoshi glances at the sentient quirk and then to Tokoyami, who is face-palming.  

 

“When did Todoroki have game?” Jirou asks Kaminari. The electric boy is grinning and whispers to her, both of them giggling. 

 

“Well, well, if it isn’t the losers of class 1-A,” an obnoxious voice interrupts before they could hear Izuku's response. 

 

“Ugh, not him,” Hagakure groans. Monoma only sneers back. Uraraka scrutinizes the new arrival. 

 

“Actually, I’m kind of curious about what will happen...” she trails off.

 

“Hello, Monoma-kun,” Iida greets stiffly. The smirk on Monoma’s face reminds Hitoshi just why he’s glad he was put in 1-A. Not that the students of 1-B weren’t alright, he was actually pretty cool with most of them. He, Kuroriri, and Sen have a groupchat for dark humor and memes. Everyone was competitive but ultimately laid back. Yes, 1-A also has an egotistical blond who needs to always prove he’s the best but at least there’s Izuku. 

 

Speaking of, his green-haired friend is side-eyeing Monoma as he prattles on about their upcoming joint training and how “1-B will obviously do better against Ketsubetsu than your dysfunctional class.”

 

Izuku huffs and points at the blond with his chopsticks. 

 

“Monoma-kun, you have such a versatile quirk and enough charisma to really be a top hero.” 

 

“Of course I do, I--” 

 

“Too bad your inferiority complex is shoved so far up your ass you’ll never walk out of our class’s shadow.” 

 

Monoma pales. Uraraka presses her hands to her mouth to muffle her snickers while Iida gapes. Asui turns her face away, shoulders subtly shaking and leaning against Uraraka. Hitoshi can’t help the low whistle he gives while Todoroki makes heart-eyes at their friend.  

 

“Marry me,” he mumbles. It’s half-aware at best. Todoroki hasn’t looked away and Hitoshi is hard-pressed to believe anything less than a nuclear explosion will distract him. Only a few people had heard Todoroki’s quiet outburst, Izuku included.

 

The smile that spreads across Izuku’s face is new. It's not the bright and happy grin that warms their hearts. It’s not the determined--sometimes nervous--grin from training or facing down villains. It’s not even the playful or teasing smirk he’s been showing off throughout the day. 

 

It starts slow; syrupy and sweet. There’s a hint of warmth high on Izuku’s cheeks and a sparkle in his eye. There’s no typical flustered blush; just an edge of pink against freckles. An inviting curl on his lips. 

 

Todoroki’s breath literally hitches. 

 

Hitoshi’s chest is uncomfortably tight. He resists the urge to rub his collarbone. Must be cholesterol or something. It’s not like he wants Izuku to smile like that at him. That’s weird for friends. He’s not the world’s foremost expert on friendship but he’s pretty sure about that. 

 

“Wait a second,” Monoma tries to interrupt before Izuku could respond. More than one person has to tear their eyes away from that smile. Izuku glances over at the other boy and clicks his tongue. 

 

“Not now Monoma-kun, the adults are talking.” 

 

Kendou walks up once she spots the frozen Monoma standing in front of their table and gaping unattractively. The rest of the table is too busy laughing to hear her approach but they quiet when they see the kind girl. She grimaces in apology and grabs the back of the blond boy’s collar, shaking him like an errant puppy. 

 

“Sorry about him. Is he bothering you?” 

 

“Hi, Kendou-chan!” The class president blinks at Izuku’s warm greeting. “No need to apologize for him, you’ve done nothing wrong. Besides, none of us here actually care about his opinion on our class.” 

 

“It does get repetitive,” Jirou says from the end of the table, chin on hand. “I’ve stopped paying attention.” Shouji nods next to her, the mouth formed on his arm grinning. 

 

“Like a chihuahua barking at wolves,” Hitoshi drawls. 

 

Izuku turns and smiles at him, amused. Victory.  

 

“...alright.” Kendou looks between the frazzled Monoma and the entire table of giggling hero students. Hitoshi can understand her confusion--usually, the class reacts with exasperation or attempts at violence in certain explosive cases. 

 

She decides to just shake her head and drag her classmate off as usual. Monoma comes back to himself as they start to move, spluttering something incomprehensible but no one pays attention. Yaoyorozu smiles compassionately at Kendou and invites her to join them for lunch sometime. The redhead nods, once again surprised, and leaves them to eat in egotistical-blond-free peace. 

 

The rest of lunch is spent with easy companionship and teasing. Every so often, at least one person is glancing at Izuku, whether in admiration or amusement as he continues talking animatedly with Tokoyami and Sero from down the table. Lunch is a little more raucous, a little more chaotic, but Hitoshi finds himself smiling into his drink. 

 

He finds his earlier worries about Izuku’s new attitude disappearing. Yes, Izuku is causing mayhem with words alone. Yes, he will probably regret some of the things he’s said come tomorrow but that’s just because he’s generally a kind person who usually has a filter. But the more he watches Izuku interact with their classmates the more he realizes that yeah, this is actually Izuku. He’s known Izuku as a sassy little shit when sleep-deprived. But he’s still kind. Still passionate and smart and enthusiastic. 

 

More willing to stand up for himself, which can only count as a good thing. Hitoshi is used to having to carefully skirt the line between intimidating bullies and not causing trouble; Izuku carries himself like he’d barely tried the first option. Which surprises him since the boy is a bundle of gremlin energy wrapped in All Might merch.  

 

So yeah. He knows how much anxiety can restrict you. To think Izuku carried this much? Hitoshi is feeling better about his actions. 

 

Besides, life at UA is already so goddamn weird. Something like this might as well happen. It’s important for hero students to expect the unexpected, or some other fortune cookie bullshit Aizawa likes to spring on him. Maybe it’d be a reality check for certain people. 

 

The rest of the day is comparatively calm until their double period of Foundational Heroics. 

 

All Might comes into the classroom with his trademark grin followed by a wracking cough. Hitoshi is honestly concerned for the guy; he respects the hell out of the former number one hero but can admit he felt resentful at the “perfect limelight hero” image.  Getting to actually know the sweet, kind-of-dumb man as Yagi-sensei has taken some work and more pity than one would expect. He knows All Might gave up his life, time, and health to protect others and this is what he’s been left with. Hitoshi will admit on his more introspective nights that he’s not sure he would’ve lasted as long as the hero does with his injuries. 

 

So, he’s come to act the same towards All Might as Aizawa does: exasperation at the dramatics but secret concern and checking on his well-being. Izuku had told him before that most of the class carries a handkerchief for their teacher and that the faculty all mandate breaks for the hero to rest between classes. Hitoshi just packs a paw print-covered hankie and reserves most of his sarcasm for his other teachers. 

 

Not to say that he doesn’t roll his eyes just a bit when All Might still reads off their technical lesson plan on coordinating search and rescue from flash cards. He’s only human after all. 

 

The second half of their heroics class is a training exercise, so they pile out of the classroom to change into their costumes. 

 

The class loiters around the entrance to Ground Alpha, the closest fake city to the school. All Might has yet to arrive from the control room where he was setting up whatever activity he had for them. Iida was leading the teens in stretching, most following along with the loud instructions. More than a few people keep looking at Izuku, incredibly flexible for someone with his muscles. 

 

“Hey, Momo, can you help me? I’ve had this knot in my shoulder and none of these stretches are helping,” Ashido asks with a frown when Iida is finished. Yaoyorozu was a surprising contender as a future chiropractor. She’d walked on many a classmate’s back to pop their spine and often recommended certain acupuncture procedures alongside specialty teas for Hitoshi’s sleepless nights. Hitoshi had accepted the tea but not the needles. He trusts Yaoyorozu but he and sharp stabby things don’t mix. 

 

Mineta’s salivating immediately at the conversation. His demented chuckling gets everyone’s attention. The girls’ shoulders hunch. Ashido scowls and turns to her friend. 

 

“...maybe we can head back into the locker room.” Yaoyorozu gestures for Ashido to escape the grape pervert but Mineta loudly whines. 

 

“Aw come on, why can’t you give us a show?” 

 

 Mineta rubs his hands together and leers. Uraraka steps towards the two girls, Asui following and glaring at the creep. A shadow falls over the boy from behind. 

 

“I think I speak for everyone here when I say stop being gross, you raggedy bitch.” 

 

Izuku looms over the tiny boy with his arms crossed and a serious expression. 

 

“What the hell! It’s not gross to want to see two hot babes rub each other!” Mineta protests. “Come on, what are you? Some kind of homo?” 

 

Jirou and Ashido both squawk in offense. Shouji, Asui, and Yaoyorozu wince. Hitoshi hears Uraraka’s knuckles crack and a snap of forming ice from Todoroki. Iida is spluttering in outrage while the rest of the class wears dark, angry expressions. Even Bakugou is glaring at the pervert who has turned to face the class with an oblivious, “what?”

 

Izuku’s face doesn’t change. He simply stills, bowing his head so his fluffy bangs block his eyes. Hitoshi is seconds away from angrily crushing Mineta’s self-esteem before green lightning arcs around Izuku. 

 

He rears a single leg back before kicking Mineta in the reinforced metal diaper. The impact sends swirling gusts of wind across the ground. The entire class watches a screaming Mineta disappear into the sky. Uraraka whistles and slow claps. 

 

“I’m getting better at distance,” Izuku mumbles to himself, hand to his forehead to block out the sun as the purple dot fades past the boundaries of the training ground. He remains completely calm. 

 

“Should we...check on him?” Kirishima asks less than half-heartedly. Tokoyami shakes his head. 

 

“He shall be fine.”

 

“Waste of time!” Dark Shadow chimes in. If Hitoshi didn’t know any better, he’d say Kirishima’s nod was relieved. 

 

Several minutes later, All Might joins the suddenly carefree group of teenagers. Ashido is rotating her shoulder, pain-free, while the rest of the girls circle around Izuku, laughing and smiling. In fact, the crowd has circled around the bright boy even tighter than in the classroom. Everyone except Bakugou is talking and happy when their teacher clears his throat. 

 

“We will be working on your rescue techniques under attack! Your experience at the provisional license exam may have given you a glimpse of protecting civilians during battle but a hero must finetune their multi-tasking. You will be split into groups to rescue dummies in different parts of the city, but you will also be under attack from the other teams. The team with the most rescues will be the victor!” 

 

All Might grins at their responding enthusiasm. “This shall test your teamwork, strategy, and rescue training. I highly recommend you decide who will be rescuers and who will be battlers. I have divided up the five teams. With your numbers, one team will have five people instead of four.”

 

“You don’t need to worry about that, sensei,” Uraraka interrupts gleefully. The teacher pauses, somewhat flustered. He scans the group of teenagers. Izuku smirks, chin to his chest. 

 

“We’re short someone, hm?” 

 

“Ahem,” Iida answers, pushing his glasses up his face and pointedly not looking at his teacher like the bad liar he is. “Mineta has gone to Recovery Girl. He is not feeling well.”

 

“Oh! I see! Very good, young Iida, thank you. Alright, we will have five groups of four. As for your teams, here.” 

 

Whatever deities exist and are watching him must bless him, because he’s on Izuku’s team with Sato and Kouda. Todoroki and Bakugou are on separate teams. Kirishima has his own. Hitoshi isn’t a betting man, and of course he wants to win the exercise, but with Yaoyorozu and Uraraka on the last team, he can’t help but want to put his money on them. Izuku bounds over to Hitoshi and Sato while Kouda walks up, but All Might calls Izuku over to him. 

 

“Young Midoriya, could I speak with you for a second?” 

 

Izuku waves the others to go first. Hitoshi hesitates when he sees All Might looking concerned. He decides to stay close in case his friend is in trouble so steps away to hover near the entrance to the city. He’s technically out of sight but able to hear when All Might asks Izuku about some things he’s heard from the other teachers and how the teen’s been affected by a quirk.

 

“I’m okay, All Might. I promise,” Izuku says. “It’s nothing serious.” 

 

“I’m glad to hear it, my boy. I was concerned to hear you were acting differently.” 

 

“It’s not that different, I don’t think. I can’t really tell.” Izuku laughs a little sheepishly. Hitoshi can almost imagine him rubbing the back of his neck. It seemed that even with his confidence boost and missing anxiety, he still has some of his nervous habits. Hitoshi is about to turn away when he feels another presence close to him. Looking over his shoulder, he sees Todoroki also hiding behind the wall and staring at him. 

 

“What are you doing here?” He mouths silently. Todoroki just shrugs. 

 

“Will you be up to this exercise, young Midoriya?” 

 

“Of course! I have to make you proud after all.” 

 

All Might coughs. “My boy, you always make me proud.” 

 

Both Hitoshi and Todoroki glance at each other. Maybe he should step away from what is obviously becoming more sentimental than expected. He’s about to nod his head to get Todoroki to leave with him when Izuku hums happily. 

 

“Thanks, dad.” 

 

Hitoshi wheezes while Todoroki blue-screens. All Might splutters, “d-dad?” 

 

“Well, I mean, you’re not the best teacher if I’m completely honest and I feel like you could use some help with actually working with kids but you’re still my favorite mentor and father figure. I’ve seen you that way for a while.” 

 

Hitoshi whips his head around to peer past the concrete wall and sees Izuku grab All Might for a hug, pressing his face into the man’s bony chest. All Might is obviously overwhelmed, tears gathering in the corner of his eyes and belatedly hugging back. He murmurs something to Izuku too low for Hitoshi to hear but he notices how Izuku squeezes tighter. 

 

“I knew it,” Todoroki hisses behind him. Hitoshi turns back to shush him. 

 

“I knew it!” He repeats louder. Why the hell is there a manic look in his eyes? 

 

“Did you hear something?” All Might asks Izuku who tilts his head. 

 

As Izuku disengages from his mentor and turns in their direction, Hitoshi scowls and slaps a hand over Todoroki’s mouth, dragging him away from their hiding spot. 

 

Pulling Todoroki all the way to the designated start was a credit to Aizawa’s upper strength training regimen. Hitoshi spares a mental second to mock his previous noodle-arm self. Then another to mock Todoroki for his zoned-out look even after Hitoshi releases him. 

 

“What was that?” He can’t help but ask. First rule of eavesdropping is to not yell and give away your position. 

 

“I was right,” Todoroki says, “Midoriya is All Might’s secret love child.” 

 

Hitoshi just. 

 

He just can’t right now. 

 

How he hadn’t heard that particular theory from his deskmate was a mystery in itself. For someone who was obviously into all things Izuku, one would think he’d share the wildest theory he had about the boy. Hitoshi stares at Todoroki who looks completely pleased with himself. How many people had he told this to? Did Izuku know? 

 

(Hitoshi hates to admit it, will never say it out loud, but he...can actually see it. The smile, the names of his ultimate moves, how close the two seem especially after that interaction--stop, no, he’s not going down this rabbit hole.)

 

“Okay,” he drawls, shaking his head. Life motto, must remember his life motto. “Good job. It’s time to do the exercise though. Go find your team.” 

 

Hitoshi pushes Todoroki to walk away towards his own team’s starting point in the city. Hitoshi pinches the bridge of his nose for a solid thirty seconds before Izuku appears and walks towards him. He lights up when he sees Hitoshi and beckons him to follow to their team. Sato and Kouda patiently wait for the duo to arrive and immediately all three turn to Izuku who’s already grinning. 

 

“I have a plan. Kouda-kun and Sato-kun will be one team, mainly focuses on rescue since Kouda-kun can locate the civilians and Sato-kun can handle any debris. Both of you are strong so I trust you’ll be able to handle a fight, but you’ll be focused mostly on defense. Shinsou-kun and I will also scout to fight against the other teams. Most will be focused on rescue operations or expect the entire team to move together but this way we can divide and conquer. Between us, we have a great balance to handle any issues.” 

 

Kouda blushes at the compliment while Sato grins brightly. They agree with the plan easily enough and Kouda conscripts a few birds to investigate the city. They decide to work through an entire section, spreading out as they need. When the signal bell starts, they split their pairs to head into two directions. Sato and Kouda check in on their comms each time they find a dummy civilian. Izuku and Hitoshi both save a dummy each but they cause much more chaos beyond the exercise’s goal.

 

Hitoshi yanks Hagakure in his capture weapon, Izuku wrapping the issued capture tape around her wrists. They tag-team against Kaminari by psyching out the blond with Izuku’s stealthy quick attacks and Hitoshi jumping in with his voice modifier. Ojiro is sent flying by his tail with one of Izuku’s air blasts, Kirishima trying to catch him only to end up also blasted away. More than one building may be destroyed. 

 

Hitoshi can’t stop grinning. The glee on Izuku’s face fits well alongside his usual determination. It feels nice to work together. To win. They make it through half the city just by attacking the other teams but as they run into a deserted area, they’re ambushed. Hitoshi and Izuku bolt out of the way of an exploding wall. In the smoke, Bakugou stands with a scowl and flickering palms. 

 

“You’re going down, shitty Deku. You’ve been acting up all day.” 

 

“Oh, hi Kacchan! Here to kill us?” 

 

Hitoshi chokes on his laughter. Izuku is blasé about repeating one of Bakugou’s standard catchphrases, even raising an eyebrow expectantly. Bakugou aims a large explosion at them. Both boys separate, Hitoshi backing farther away from the consequential fire. He glances around for Bakugou’s teammate but the blond is alone. How typical. 

 

Izuku bites his lip, finger to his chin. He looks Bakugou up and down. 

 

“You’re getting better but you’re nowhere near where you need to be in order to be the number one hero. Or a decent person. I strongly recommend anger management sessions.”

 

Bakugou runs forward to kick at the space Izuku used to be. His explosion spins him into a Howitzer Impact, following after Izuku who bounces on a building’s wall. Izuku takes a chunk of concrete from the ground and hurls it like a discus at his classmate, who explodes it to pieces and screams. 

 

“You think you’re so tough?! You get hit with a quirk and now you think you’re better than me? Huh?” 

 

Hitoshi sighs. “Are you done?” 

 

Bakugou wisely doesn’t answer, just glares. He’s about to try using his quirk again, mimicking Izuku’s voice, when the boy himself snorts. “Yes, actually.” 

 

“What?”

 

“I do think I’m stronger than you,” Izuku says and flicks a superpowered finger at Bakugou, powerful wind making him skid backward. 

 

“You!” Bakugou doesn’t even finish his sentence before ricocheting forward with two large explosions. Hitoshi leaps backward, capture weapon at the ready, but Izuku simply lunges to meet the blond in the middle, immediately in Bakugou’s personal space and kicking upwards. 

 

“Shinsou-kun, go scout the area and back-up Kouda,” Izuku commands. Bakugou barely manages to avoid his punch. “I can handle this.” 

 

He radios in for his team, only for Sato to confirm they’ve gotten most of the dummies in their sector. Hitoshi decides to drag himself up to one of the nearby roofs to get out of the blast radius but he can’t help himself from watching under the pretense of “providing backup.” He notices Sero and Todoroki in a building several meters away, shoring up walls with ice and tape while Jirou carries out a dummy. All three of them glance over at the smoke wafting from his direction. 

 

“You’re not stronger than me, Deku. You’re just a useless weakling!” Bakugou pants, bruised and bleeding. Izuku leisurely stands across from him, hand on hip, which only enrages the other boy more. 

 

“Kacchan, do you remember how upset you were during the sports festival because Todoroki-kun wouldn’t use his fire against you?” 

 

“What about it?” Bakugou snarls, pushing himself forward. Izuku dances around each attempt to grab him. 

 

“Remember the temper tantrum you threw at Ground Beta instead of getting therapy?” Another wind blast from his fingers and Bakugou crashes into a street lamp. “Oh, sorry, I mean, remember our previous ‘fight’?” 

 

Hitoshi raises an eyebrow as he stays low. He sees Todoroki’s team walking closer and informs his own teammates over the comms. Sato confirms while Izuku just sighs and clicks his tongue at his old childhood friend. 

 

“I was only using eight percent of my power.” Bakugou freezes. Izuku rests both of his arms behind his head, staring thoughtfully. “Here, I’m using about six.” 

 

“You damn bastard!” Bakugou screams. His face turns bright red beneath the dust coating it. He flexes his fingers before flying into the air and barreling down like a demented missile. His exploding punch misses Izuku as the boy darts upwards, right behind Bakugou, and suplexes him to the ground. Izuku glares as Bakugou continues to yell curses and grabs the taller teen's collar to drag him upright. 

 

"You know Kacchan, it would be an absolute shame if All Might ever found out exactly the kinds of things you said to his favorite student and successor. The exact words that came out of your mouth every day. Tell me, do you think he'd be pleased with you?”

 

Izuku brings Bakugou’s face even closer. 

 

“Do you think he'd call that 'Plus Ultra Behavior'?"

 

Bakugou swings another exploding fist. Izuku maneuvers his feet to spin both of them and then yeets Bakugou across the training field. The boy tries to course-correct with a blast but tumbles through the dirt. 

 

Izuku stalks forward. Hitoshi can’t stop gaping as the other boy dodges Bakugou’s next attack with ease and kicks out at his midsection. Bakugou retches before Izuku slams him to the ground back-first. 

 

“All you do is scream. Do you not get tired? Do you not just want to have a peaceful day and not go apeshit over the smallest things? I’d like some peace and it’s only because we used to be friends and because I do care about you that I haven’t forcibly gotten it.” 

 

“Fuck you, Deku-!” Bakugou rasps. He’s scrambling his hands into the dirt to gain leverage but Izuku’s knee on his chest prevents him from moving. He lets off an explosion but Izuku simply diverts his wrist and harshly pins it into the dirt. 

 

"So, Kacchan, I’ll say this once. Do better. And you know what? There are more ways to get what you want than through violence, I don’t want to kill you or anything if I use more than eight percent. So how about this: if you don't start acting right, I'm telling Uncle Marasu about what you told me to do in middle school."

 

Bakugou completely stills under Izuku’s poisonous green eyes. 

 

“Well?” He asks, smiling politely and gripping Bakugou’s wrist tighter until the blond boy looks away.

 

Hitoshi takes everything back. That was the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. 

 

Judging by the rising steam coming off of Todoroki who arrives just in time to see the end of the fight, he agrees. 

 

Bakugou opens and closes his mouth for several seconds. Hitoshi isn’t close enough to see his facial expression but the boy’s shoulders are tenser than steel. Izuku huffs and lets go of the blond, almost carefree in his posture. He lifts a hand to his earpiece but All Might’s voice rings out across the entire city. 

 

“All of the citizens have been rescued! Students, please return to the entrance.” 

 

Izuku grins and ignores Bakugou as he walks toward the assembled Sero, Todoroki, and Jirou. Hitoshi scales down from the building and joins the group. Sero and Jirou glance back at Bakugou who is carefully pulling himself from the crater on the ground. 

 

“Need a hand?” Sero asks his friend. 

 

“Fuck off, Soy Sauce,” Bakugou says woodenly. 

 

The students gather at the entrance, some with scrapes and some still pulling the capture tape off of them. Bakugou is one of the last to arrive, limping. 

 

Izuku showers Kouda and Sato in compliments when he sees them, ecstatic about their good work. Their team nets second place but had outstanding teamwork, according to their teacher. Hitoshi was right to mentally bet on Yaoyorozu’s team. She, Uraraka, Shouji, and Aoyama decimated the competition. 

 

They move towards the locker rooms after All Might offers them constructive criticism. The teacher sends Bakugou to Recovery Girl for his injuries. His friends are shocked when the blond only looks down and trudges off silently. 

 

Izuku drags Hitoshi forward with their team, also complimenting him on his ambush techniques and the rappelling he did out of the building with the civilian dummy. Todoroki follows behind them and catches the blush on Hitoshi’s face at Izuku’s enthusiastic praise. 

 

Hitoshi stops when he feels a cold hand on his wrist. He startles and turns to see Todoroki who quickly retracts his hand.  

 

“Shinsou,” Todoroki says. The rest of the class continues forward, disappearing into the locker room. The two boys stare at each other awkwardly in the now empty hallway. 

 

“Yes?” When it becomes clear Todoroki is just going to stand there. 

 

The boy squints and looks at Hitoshi from head to toe. Take a picture, it’ll last longer, he grumbles to himself. 

 

“...are we love rivals?” 

 

What. 

 

“Excuse me?” He says, not at all high-pitched. 

 

“You like Midoriya. So we must be love rivals.” Curse Todoroki for being this straight-froward. It was often hilarious and even more refreshing. On rare occasions, it could even be called cute. But this kind of blunt statement wasn’t reassuring when he was on the receiving end. 

 

For a brief moment, Hitoshi wants to go with his gut and just deny. There’s no way he likes his friend, right? A cute boy who might have a little sex appeal and laughs at his dark humor in the middle of the night. One of his first true friends who decided to stick by him and actually help instead of just wishing him well. Someone he feels he could confide in about anything. Someone he’d break the carefully constructed lines around his quirk for in order for them to have one day away from their bad thoughts. 

 

Shit. 

 

Hitoshi knew himself and knew he wasn’t emotionally mature enough for a relationship. He had fucking trauma, okay. No doubt Izuku did too, and doubly so for whatever was going on with Todoroki. So it would be easier to just deny Todoroki’s accusations. Yet the thought of saying "no, I don't like Izuku" made his chest tight. Seeing Izuku cozied up to someone, loving someone, while he could only watch? What the hell was he supposed to feel about that? He won't deny he's fonder of Izuku than he is of other people. 

 

But to be someone’s rival? Someone who would no doubt encase him in an iceberg if he tried to make a move? The insomniac already wants to sigh in defeat. 

 

“That sounds like too much work,” he mutters. His fingers brush through his gravity-defying hair, resisting the urge to tug on it self-consciously. Todoroki frowns, speculative. 

 

“What does that mean? Are we not love rivals?” 

 

“It’s whatever,” he tries. 

 

“But you do like Midoriya?” 

 

Hitoshi groans. “I mean, obviously. I have eyes.” Then again, after today, at least half of the class was also now in the Izuku Appreciation Club. He tactfully doesn’t say that. Todoroki frowns. 

 

“Look, don’t worry about it, okay?” With that, he awkwardly shrugs and goes for the locker room, self-conscious and eager to get his gear off to end the day. Todoroki follows and Hitoshi can feel the boy’s eyes on his back. 

 

“I’ll be watching carefully,” Todoroki says quietly as they’re the last to leave the locker room. Izuku is walking ahead, surrounded by Asui and Tokoyami, engaging them in a heated discussion. Ashido keeps pestering him for a piggyback ride, grinning. 

 

“What, you’re going to be there anytime he and I are alone together?” Hitoshi can’t believe this. Did he just gain a stalker? When he wasn't even planning on making a move or confessing? 

 

“If I have to.” 

 

Hitoshi blinks into space. This class was so weird. Hell, his friends--and yes, Izuku wins, he’ll admit they’re his friends--are also so weird. 

 

“...just do what you want.” 

 

“Thank you. This is a very non-confrontational rivalry.” 

 

“Hurry up you two! We’re heading to the dorms for a movie marathon!” Uraraka calls before Hitoshi can facepalm. The two boys look at each other, one more resigned than the other, and hurry their pace to join the group. 

 

“I’m ordering pizza,” Yaoyorozu raises a hand, smiling. 

 

“We can have a party!”

 

“It’s a school night!” Iida reminds them, conversations devolving into arguments over whether it would be okay to stay up late. 

 

“I have some things I’d like to discuss with you too, Midoriya,” Todoroki says. More than one person jeers and teases the boy. “I’d like your input on a project.” 

 

“Sure! You coming, Shinsou-kun?” Izuku asks. The afternoon sun shines off of his hair. Another heart-stopping smile. Hitoshi squints and nods. 

 

A text alert jolts him from the entrancing sight. He pulls out his phone to see a message from Aizawa. 

 

Dadzawa: I have two incident reports from Recovery Girl and about 40 texts from Midnight and All Might alone. I didn’t want to know but now I’m making this your problem. Spill everything or I swear to god.

 

Hitoshi grimaces at the message before looking up. He follows after Todoroki and Izuku, the latter gesturing wildly and beaming. He starts typing as he follows them to the dorms. 

 

-----

 

Izuku wakes up slowly, reaching up to grab a piece of paper stuck to his cheek. He opens his eyes and immediately regrets everything and aborts mission. His head feels like it was Detroit Smashed and the weak early morning sunlight pouring in through his curtains must have a personal vendetta against him. 

 

He takes a deep breath and tries to open his eyes again with more success. He’s in his bed surrounded by dozens of loose papers and a few pens. He shifts and oh, okay. That’s a person. He squints over his shoulder to see Shouto asleep with his mouth open and drooling. Trying to turn back around, he notices Hitoshi also on the bed but sitting against the wall, one hand resting on Izuku’s ankle while the taller boy snores. 

 

He squints at the paper that was stuck to his face. It’s covered with three sets of handwriting, outlining an attack plan. Oh, it’s outlining alibis and an ambush plan for Endeavor. 

 

Hm. Okay. Unexpected but something he can work with. 

 

Then the hazy confusion from sleep clears and reality crashes into him like a semi-truck. And so do his memories of the previous day. 

 

Oh god, the things he said. The things he did. 

 

He picked a fight with so many people. 

 

(He’s always thought about snapping back at Kacchan, since well before middle school. He’s always wanted to smack Mineta in the face when he got too gross to handle. He’s always wanted to make someone sit down, shut up, and listen to him for goddamn once. But he’d never thought he’d do it. Especially like that.

 

He grabs his pillow to muffle his groan. Or suffocate himself. Whichever happens. Secondhand embarrassment has always been a problem for him. Firsthand, up close embarrassment? Just take him out back and put him out of his misery. 

 

He tries to ignore the panic building in his chest. 

 

He'd sassed his teachers. He’ll have to leave school. 

 

Damn. Izuku really likes school though. 

 

His not-that-internal freakout must wake Hitoshi and Shouto. Probably the panicked wiggling. Shouto hums sleepily in a not-at-all cute way while Hitoshi cracks his neck and stretches. Not as cute, but hello collarbones. 

 

Oh look, now he’s perving after his closest friends. Fantastic. He’s noticed they’re attractive, all of his friends are (curse his bisexual little heart) but now was not the time. Now was escape-plan time. 

 

“Izuku?” Shouto asks quietly. 

 

“Who’s Izuku? There’s no Izuku here,” he squeaks. 

 

Hitoshi chuckles then yawns obnoxiously. “What, are you changing your name and going into hiding?” 

 

Izuku drags the pillow from his face to pout at the lavender-haired teen. His plan was that see-through, huh? 

 

“Stop freaking out.” 

 

“Easier said than done,” he wheezes. Shouto frowns and rests a cool hand on Izuku’s forehead. 

 

“Whoa, okay, deep breaths,” Hitoshi says. He squeezes Izuku’s ankle without realizing it. The grounding sensation helps him focus enough to even his breathing. He stares at the ceiling for a moment. 

 

“Want me to brainwash you again?” Hitoshi jokingly offers. Both Izuku and Shouto freeze and turn to him in unison. “Wait, no, I’m not actually going to do that.” 

 

“...it would be easier,” Izuku admits. He liked feeling confident. He liked silencing all the negative thoughts in his head. He liked being Izuku, not worthless deku. 

 

Shouto frowns while looking at his own hands. “If what happened yesterday was truly him, wouldn’t it be fine to brainwash him again?” 

 

Hitoshi groans. 

 

“It’s a short-term solution. Based on his reaction yesterday, the quirk is literally altering his brain chemicals, and the only suggestions or commands I’ve done on people alter their conscious minds, not their literal neurons. That’s not healthy for me to do. I’m not a doctor and I’m not as reliable as medication. If he isn’t consistently brainwashed then he’d have a huge fallout with the consequences of the suppression wearing of suddenly. I’m not risking it.”

 

“You know a lot about this kind of stuff,” Shouto says curiously. 

 

“Having a quirk like mine means I got really into learning about brains and stuff.” 

 

“That makes sense.” 

 

“Thanks. I live for your approval,” Hitoshi drawls. 

 

Izuku sits up and fidgets with a loose thread on his pillowcase. 

 

“Is it really so bad?” He mumbles. “I trust you.” 

 

Hitoshi curses under his breath. He looks away, hiding his suddenly pink cheeks, not that Izuku can’t see them. Shouto grumbles unintelligently. Is he glaring at Hitoshi? That’s weird, Izuku could’ve sworn they were becoming friends. Especially with how close they seemed yesterday. 

 

(He is pointedly blocking the memory of the breathy "marry me" from yesterday's lunch. The grin on Hitoshi's face as they ran through the training city. The soft laughter between all three of them as they ran through hypothetical "murder Endeavor" scenarios. Friends. Friends, friends, friends.

 

“Your mental health is more important,” Hitoshi states with a note of finality. Izuku huffs. 

 

“Fiiiiiiiine. I’m still going to run off to live in the mountains. You both are welcome to visit me.”

 

“I’d be coming with you,” Shouto says, matter-of-fact. Izuku does not squeak and blush. 

 

“You’re not in trouble or anything, Midoriya.” 

 

“Easy for you to say! I punted Mineta!” 

 

“And it was great,” Hitoshi insists. Shouto nods enthusiastically. 

 

Yeah, okay, it was kind of great. But he still assaulted another student. 

 

He’d have to deal with Kacchan too. And that, just. He wasn’t sure he had enough mental energy to handle that fallout. 

 

“Kacchan is going to murder me today.” Izuku moans and falls back to his pillow. 

 

“He can try, but I doubt he’d succeed,” Shouto tries to reassure him. 

 

“Considering you wrecked his entire shit, he should stay out of your way for at least a few days.” 

 

“I don’t want him to hate me,” he mumbles. Did Kacchan deserve a smackdown? Yes. Did he want to ruin any chance of working together in the future? No. He’s tried so hard already, even when Kacchan wouldn’t do anything in return. 

 

“Yeah, well. We’ll deal with it. Okay? You don’t have to do anything alone.” Hitoshi rubs the back of his neck.  Shouto nods, smiling softly. 

 

Izuku can’t stop the emotional tears that gather in his eyes. He pushes them down, not eager to start his day off crying. These two are really the best. 

 

“Okay, that sounds good. Hey, don’t you both have to get ready for class?” He redirects and gives them a wobbly smile. They both glance at each other and reluctantly nod. Hitoshi pats his shoulder and Shouto grabs his hand to give a quick squeeze. Blushing, Izuku waves them from his door as they both head to the elevator. 

 

When they’re out of sight, Izuku breathes out and rubs his hand. His shoulder feels tingly. He shakes himself and sits back on his bed. His phone is lit up with notifications so he takes a moment to check his messages.

 

Ochako: good morning deku! how’re you feeling??? 

Tenya: Midoriya-kun, I would like to invite you to join me on a morning run today. I feel as though I should apologize for not seeing how much your struggles have been affecting your mental state and I wish to check in with you. Please know you can always rely on me if you need anything. As a hero student and more importantly your friend... [1 / 5 messages]

Meimei: Hey ten million!!! Your friends said you recommended them to me for their gear. Nothing but the best from Hatsume Company :devil emoji: thanks! Make sure to come by the lab for your new babies too~! Should be done by this afternoon. 

 

Izuku smiles at his friends. He stretches and gathers clothes for the day. He might be able to meet with Tenya if he hurries, but then he continues to read his remaining messages as he walks around the room. 

 

Eraserhead (!!!): Problem child, come to Nedzu’s office before school starts. You’re not in trouble but we have some things to discuss about yesterday. 

[Unknown Number]: Hello Midoriya-kun! When you come to my office, please be sure to bring your delightful notebooks! I would be greatly interested in discussing your analysis in more depth. 

Eraserhead (!!!): Also don’t listen to a word the rat says. If you respect me as a teacher at all, you won’t turn to the dark side. 

Yagi (Dad): My boy, make sure you are well-rested! If you need anything let me know. I wish to have lunch with you today if you are available :^) 

Eraserhead (!!!): And make sure you stop by Recovery Girl during the day. 

Eraserhead (!!!): We’re getting you anti-anxiety medication. 



Izuku short-circuits at the last text. He doesn’t have the emotional capacity to freak out about meeting Principal Nedzu just yet (the principal wanted his notebooks? Did he like something about Izuku’s hobby? How’d he find out? Okay, maybe he was starting to freak out). 

 

Aizawa-sensei seemed so exasperated yesterday. He took one look at Izuku’s personality and noped so hard he was almost catatonic. He had no doubt based on the texts that his teacher understood what exactly had happened to him. Did Hitoshi tell his mentor about his anxiety? 

 

And here he was, offering Izuku help even if it would negatively affect his sanity. Izuku sniffs and clutches the phone. He's blessed to have great teachers for once in his life. He sends a text to Tenya confirming that he can do a short run but that he’s needed in school early. He confirms with all of his friends and mentors that he’s alive and well as he stumbles around the room to get ready. He’s looking forward to going to class, maybe more anxious than usual, maybe not. 

 

Maybe Mineta would act worse. Maybe Kacchan would act better. 

 

Like Shouto and Hitoshi promised, they’d figure it out. 

 

He pulls on his sneakers and runs out the door, humming the song Ashido played last night in the dorms. 

 

“What’s happening, bitch, yeah, I’m a savage.”