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Shadows of Society

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The boy was taller than Izuku. Most people were taller than Izuku, but he was clearly above average height for his age. Even discounting the puffy purple hair adding a few inches, Izuku figured the other boy had nearly half a foot on him.

 It probably wasn’t right to be calling him ‘boy.’ He figured that they were about the same age – though he could have been a little older than Izuku. He wasn’t very good with ages if he were being honest with himself – still, Izuku was pretty sure they were within a few months of each other. Maybe a year.

It was one of the reasons that Izuku had felt comfortable in dragging him to his hideout. That, and he’d obviously needed saving.

Despite being so much taller than Izuku, the other boy was much thinner than him. The sort of thin that reminded him of his mother, towards the end of her life, when she hadn’t even been able to keep down water. Even though the baggy and bloodstained shirt, covered him, Izuku would have sworn up and down that he could see the other boy’s ribs. He could practically smell the hunger rolling off of him in waves. Izuku didn’t know how long it had been since the boy ate - and felt a pang of anxiety for the boy. 

At first glance, Izuku had thought the stitches were the cause for Hitoshi’s starvation. They’d matched the thread to his hair, a dark lavender color, and threaded it cruelly against his mouth in a crisscross pattern. The string tore into his mouth, leaving his lips lacerated, bloody, and swollen.

But the stitches were clearly new – the skin hadn’t had a chance to heal over the cuts and strings at least. It still looked an awful mess off course, but they’d been starving the boy for another reason.

Izuku didn’t really care what the reason was. It was cruel, and he was glad he’d done his best to help. Even if the boy was still glaring daggers at him.

Just take it slow, he told himself. They weren’t very nice to him. So just go slow.

A soft growl escaped from the boy’s throat, and Izuku looked away from his mouth. He didn’t think that he could look the boy in the eyes. He’d never been very good at it, but especially since the boy just seemed so angry.

And scared. 

The boy had been drugged, when Izuku had led him into the dilapidated convenience store that served as his home. Or, dragged him more like. Izuku wasn’t 100% sure that the boy knew where he was - it made sense that he was scared and angry. Izuku understood that - everyone was scared sometimes

Well, maybe not in the same way - yes, people had hit Izuku. Burned him, and beaten him to a near pulp. But nobody had sewn his mouth shut, no matter how annoying he was - and Izuku talked a lot. Probably something to do with his Quirk, Izuku decided. 

He hesitated, standing two arms lengths away as he stared at the boy, shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably. He wished he could have tried to coax the boy to the beaten-up couch, on the other side of the room.  

But he needed to take things slow.

“Um…Hi,” he said sheepishly and then winced because it was one of the stupidest things he’d ever said in his whole damn life. “I, um…” he hesitated for a moment, before fumbling for the thin little pocketknife at his belt. It was one of his most precious possessions – a small gift from his mother. To protect yourself, she’d said.

He hoped that she’d be proud of him, trying to use it to protect others.  “I…I’d like to try and get the stitches out…is that okay?” He asked opening the blade.

The boy flinched, that feral growl reverberating in the room. So that was a no. Except that Izuku knew that it was probably best to get the stitches out as soon as possible.

He held his arms out wide and gingerly crept forward in a crouch. Slowly. Carefully. “I promise! I’m not going to hurt you!” He said and felt his stomach twist anxiously as the boy cringed away, backing himself into a corner. “It’s just…I don’t want it to get infected, you know?” He said closing the gap between them. It felt wrong to have to invade his space - unnatural and unkind. Izuku grimaced as the boy struggled. “Please,” he muttered softly, “I don’t want to hurt you by accident,” he said.

It was difficult, to get the boy to stop struggling - and in the end, Izuku was forced to pin his head against the wall, apologizing profusely as he did so. “Just for a second, I’m sorry,” he said, awkwardly sliding the knife between his abused lips and thread. He tugged sharply and quickly - and flinched at the ragged scream that escaped the boy’s throat. It was the sound of a wild animal escaping a trap, a wolf gnawing off its leg. He took in great gasping breaths of air. Izuku let go of his head, breathing out a sigh of relief. Now they just needed to pull out the threads – 

Immediately, frantic hands shoved him to the ground - and a foot slammed into his face. Izuku yowled in surprise, letting go of the knife to clutch at his face reflexively. The boy gave him another surprisingly hard shove, sending him sprawling on his back, and for a moment, his vision went white. He grunted as a weight settled on his chest, pinning him to the ground, and cracked open his eyes, to see the boy sitting on his chest, his pocketknife clutched in his hands. 

He pressed the tip of the blade against Izuku’s throat. 

“Hi,” Izuku repeated sheepishly, incredibly aware of cold metal against his throat. “Um…Does your mouth feel better? I mean, those cuts still look super nasty, but…” he trailed off, chewing on his bottom lip. “I’m Izuku,” he said sheepishly. He was not given an immediate answer. “Um…I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I just…I thought maybe we could pull out the threads, and um, get you cleaned up.”

More silence, except for the other boy’s heavy breathing. “But uh…if you just want to eat, we can do that too.” Slowly, Izuku raised his arm and pointed at the crusty old couch sat. There were a few pre-packed sandwiches there, a half-eaten package of Oreos, and chips. Not exactly a meal fit for a king, but…

This boy was so thin. 

He eyed Izuku suspiciously for several moments, and Izuku smiled. “I promise! You can have whatever you want!” 

“Why?” The boy’s voice was hoarse from disuse, and he didn’t move the knife away from Izuku’s throat. He didn’t look like he was planning on killing Izuku which was probably for the best, but he still obviously didn’t trust him. That was fine. 

“Well. You look hungry,” Izuku said simply. It was such a strange question to ask.

“Why are you helping me?” The boy snarled. 

Ohhh. That made a little more sense. He probably wasn’t used to people helping him. Though, Izuku still wasn’t sure he knew how to answer the question. He considered it for a moment, wobbling his head a little from side to side. Once upon a time, he’d have said it was because he wanted to be a Hero - because he had always wanted to be a Hero, and Heroes were supposed to do the right thing. He still wanted to do the right thing, even if he knew he wouldn’t ever be a Hero. 

But that seemed like a silly answer - and Izuku had learned a long time ago, that it was best to avoid giving silly answers. “I just…wanted to help you. That’s not wrong, is it?” He asked.

For a long time, the boy didn’t answer, and the knife didn’t waver from Izuku’s throat. But eventually, the other boy did climb off of him - and Izuku couldn’t help but notice every shake and shudder of his body as he made his way over to the couch. He picked up several bags of chips and two of the packaged sandwiches. That still left one for Izuku, though he didn’t take it just then. 

He was hungry. But not as hungry as the boy. Hitoshi wolfed down the sandwiches, though he stopped briefly when Izuku stood up. He relaxed a little when Izuku returned with a small jar of Vaseline. “Just…in case you wanted it. To protect the…um…” he gestured to the boy’s mouth, hoping he’d understand.

Slowly, the other boy nodded and went back to eating. But he didn’t take the Vaseline. Probably as good as Izuku could have hoped for.

Izuku sat on the floor, watching the boy curiously. It was only when he finished half a bag of chips, that Izuku asked, “So…Um…what’s your name?”

The boy glared at him. “…Why?” 

“Uh…I mean, I guess you don’t have to. I just thought…while you’re staying here, it would be nice to know what to call you.” 

“What makes you think I’m staying?” The anger in his voice. 

Izuku hesitated for a moment, biting his lip. “…I mean, I guess I just assumed. But yeah, you probably want to go back home, right?” He asked. “We can definitely do that! I mean, it might take time, but your family is probably missing you right?” Of course, the people who had hurt this boy hadn’t been his family. 

I could get him a train ticket, and take him back to his home. That probably wouldn’t be too hard. Or maybe we could give them a call, and they could come to pick him up?

It was just his family, that was twelve shades of broken. 

“…Just a call me Hitoshi.” The boy whispered finally. “And don’t assume things!” 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Izuku said sheepishly. “Um…Thank you. And you can call me Izuku!” He added.

Hitoshi paused licking his lips and the little droplets of blood that had begun to form. “You already told me that,” he said. Immediately, Izuku blushed, looking down. 

He had, hadn’t he?  He immediately felt stupid, and his face felt hot. Why’d he always have to blush like that? “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to repeat myself, I just…I, I,” he stuttered off fidgeting. 

“It’s fine,” Hitoshi said, and immediately went settled back into silence. For a while, Izuku wasn’t sure that Hitoshi was going to say anything else - and he didn’t want to embarrass himself further, and he felt his eyes begin to droop. It had been a long day, and he wasn’t sure if Hitoshi would still be around, but he was safe. And Izuku felt confident that Hitoshi wouldn’t hurt him while he napped, even if he was still holding to the pocketknife.

It made him a bit anxious, to have it out of his possession. But it seemed to help Hitoshi relax. It's not a big deal. I’ll just…get it back later, Izuku decided.

“Do you have anything to drink?” Hitoshi asked softly, his voice was still hoarse. 

Slowly, Izuku cracked his eye open and smiled tentatively at Hitoshi. “There’s some soda and canned coffee under the couch. There’s also a bottle of water I think.” He yawned drowsily, “You can help yourself to whatever you like,” he added. “And take the couch,” he added. 

If Hitoshi ever answered, Izuku never heard it. Instead, sleep seized him roughly, and all the aches and pains of the eased. And for just a brief moment, Izuku felt like he’d done something good.

“I hate him,” Shouta said flatly as he walked down the street. For some reason, his students always seemed to think that he was running across buildings and hanging from telephone poles. Which he did - when the situation called for it. But it was irrational to expect him to spend all night doing so, particularly when walking would get him there just as quickly and much more safely. “He’s going to get them injured or killed. He doesn’t intervene when they push themselves too far. He’s loud, and obnoxious, and takes them their training far too lightly.” Not to mention the blatant favoritism he showed towards certain students. The amount of attention that the World’s Greatest Hero spent doting over Bakugou and Todoroki was obvious. That wasn’t even counting the attention he spent on Mirio, from class 3-A. 

The other students might as well have not existed, for all the attention that All Might paid them.

Hizashi made a soft sound of agreement. Many people didn’t know that Hizashi could make such a soft sound - and as a youth, Shouta had questioned it as well. But when he was comfortable and calm, he could be very soft. Shouta felt some of the tension leave his shoulders. There was something about speaking to his husband that always put him at ease, no matter how upset or stressed he was. It didn’t necessarily make the problem disappear, but Hizashi was one of the few people that made Shouta feel like he was being understood. 

“It’s only his first week. Maybe it’ll get better.” When Shouta didn’t say anything, he added, “You could give him some pointers. I’m sure he’d appreciate it.” 

“I’m not his teacher,” Shouta said grumpily. “Nezu ought to just hire competent teachers.” 

“You mean, like when he hired us?” Hizashi said dryly. 

Shouta conceded the point. Neither he nor Hizashi had been particularly qualified to be teachers. God knew that Nemuri had been a bit of a gamble. He supposed that it was possible that All Might would learn to be a better teacher. Maybe he was being harsh - but Shouta didn’t think so. 

“You just don’t like new people babe. Give it another month - he’ll probably only be mildly irritating to you then. And hopefully, he’ll get a bit better at teaching.”  

Shouta hoped as so. He sighed, running his hands through his hair. “Maybe.” 

“Alright babe, I gotta go, I’ve got an early morning show. Don’t forget, 2 pm sharp, we have a meeting with the social worker,” he added.

Shouta gave a gentle flap of his hand, knowing that his husband couldn’t see him. “I won’t forget,” he said and smiled faintly hearing his husband’s soft laugh, before hanging up. He sighed softly, sliding his phone into his pocket. He was grateful for the weekend, and that he’d be able to get a few solid hours of uninterrupted sleep. All he had to do, was spend a couple of hours doing some light surveillance and then he would have earned a rest. 

His relationship with sleep had always been strained. Even as a small boy, Shouta often stared at the ceiling for hours instead of resting - and his insomnia had only intensified as a teenager. By the time he’d turned twenty, it hadn’t been uncommon for him to stay two or three days at a time. There was always so much to do - so many people to protect. It was difficult for him to justify sleep, even if it was stupid and irrational. There were nightmares.

But it was just a little easier when he felt he’d done a bit of good in the world.

Shouta sighed as he rounded the corner - and felt his stomach drop, as he caught the first hint of flashing red and blue lights. “…Oh, for fucks sake,” he muttered. He knew immediately he was fucked. Dozens of policemen meandered the area, with another dozen or so forensic techs gathering whatever evidence it was they needed. There was an ambulance, and Shouta could see police standing next to the paramedics. 

Nobody stopped him as he moved towards the officers. They all probably knew him by sight - it was a bad part of town, and not many Heroes were willing to patrol the area. Not a lot of money or glory in helping out citizens most people considered trash. The elderly with no family, prostitutes, and addicts. Quirkless men and women. As well as those whose only sin was to be poor.

Naomasa was one of the officers and looked up as Shouta approached. He always seemed to notice Shouta, though he wasn’t sure how. He’d built a large part of his career on being silent and unseen - yet Naomasa seemed to have a sort of sixth sense when it came to noticing things. Shouta could only assume it was because he’d spent so many years as a detective. “What happened?” He asked softly. “This area was supposed to be clear for my investigation.” He paused, his eyes going to the man in the ambulance. He grimaced - the face had been beaten black and blue, and he’d have put good money that the eye socket was broken. It took him a moment to recognize the man - his target. 

“Vigilante,” Naomasa said softly. He jerked his head towards a dilapidated old apartment building across the street, all exposed brick and cracked windows. It was the sort of place that would have been condemned in a better neighborhood but was probably prized by its residents as home. “A mother on the top floor called it in. She couldn’t give too many details though. Just said she thought he needed an ambulance.” 

“Couldn’t give much detail, or wouldn’t?” Shouta asked dryly. 

Namosa shrugged, “I have a feeling it’s more ‘wouldn’t.’” His lips puckered together in a frown as he eyed the man in the ambulance. “There was a real problem with crime here a couple of weeks ago. Violent crime,” he added darkly. 

Shouta nodded his understanding. He didn’t exactly approve of vigilantes, but he couldn’t say he didn’t understand why they existed. And there was a reason they were difficult to apprehend - they fixed problems heroes were unable, or unwilling to fix. Communities were often very protective of their local angels. 

It would have been better, had they let Shouta apprehend this man. He might have been able to lead him to a few bigger fish.

Now they’d have to finesse the information out of the man. Not to mention he’d have to spend time looking for the vigilante that had interrupted his investigation. Which meant a horrific amount of paperwork and some irrational idiot rotting in jail for trying to be helpful.

And the world would have lost another person who cared, even if they cared stupidly and recklessly.

Still looking at the man’s face…Shouta couldn’t say he was terribly sorry for the man’s injuries. His list of crimes was so long it might as well have been a novel - everywhere he went, he seemed to leave a trail of misery. Missing men, women, and children, thefts, murders - and of course. A mysterious drug that no one seemed to know anything about. Nothing except that once injected, you'd do just about anything that was asked of you.

Despicable. “I suppose you’ve already searched the area for any of his accomplices,” he said rubbing his eyes.

“Nothing,” Namosa confirmed. “Or at least, nothing we can find. My guess is, whoever he was meeting booked it the second they realized the police were on the way. Or if they have a base here, it's so well hidden none of us can find it.” He cocked his head to the side, his eyes sparkling just a bit in amusement. “I’m guessing of course that you’d like to take a look around yourself? Just to make sure?”

Shouta sighed - so much for getting to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. He’d be lucky to get home before noon, between searching the buildings, re-interviewing witnesses, and paperwork. Why couldn’t he just ever trust others to do the job? “I’ll look around. Thanks again, Tsukauchi.” 

And then, began the long night. 

Chapter Text

Hitoshi’s mouth ached and stung slightly from the chips. Chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, and other assorted junk foods seemed to be what the other boy lived off of . Not that Hitoshi was complaining too much - it was food, and even the pain that came from eating was well worth the alternative. And Izuku had a modest amount of medical supplies - Vaseline to keep the bloody punctures on his lips clean. A bottle of ibuprofen, and rubbing alcohol as well. He even had a small cache of band-aids, gauze, and medical tape.

There was a small kit for needle and thread as well, that made Hitoshi’s stomach churn.

It had been three days since Izuku had dragged him into his safe house. Tiny, rundown, and filled with bugs, it reminded Hitoshi of his last foster home. Though, for the life of him, Hitoshi didn’t know how long it had been since his foster parents had given him away. He figured it had been at least a year, give or take a few months in either direction. He’d been trouble, they’d said. wouldn’t learn to behave himself. He was always using his Quirk when he wasn’t supposed to.

Never mind the fact that he’d only used his Brainwash to get them to stop beating him.

A year later, and he still didn’t regret defending himself. Even if it had led to so much worse.

“Toshi?” Hitoshi jerked at the nickname and swung his eyes to glare at Izuku. Immediately, Izuku’s eyes moved away from his, fixating on his tattered sneakers. “Um…You’ve been quiet for a while. I just wanted to know if you were alright?” He asked.

Why was he always asking him questions? Hitoshi didn’t get it. He’d spent his whole life, being told probably had to do with the fact that Izuku didn’t know about his Quirk though. Otherwise, he would have said the same terrible things to Shinsou.




Part of him knew, that he should have told Izuku about his Quirk. It would be easier in the long run - less painful. But at the same time, Izuku hadn’t asked about his Quirk - or mentioned his own. He wasn’t sure if that was something that should frighten him or not. He’d known people who would conceal their Quirk’s, but only so they could hurt him later. Or, they’d have an undesirable Quirk such as his own.

Of course, Izuku was a bit socially awkward, so Hitoshi thought that it was possible that he’d forgotten to mention his Quirk . Which was fine - because that meant, he could put off the inevitable a little bit longer. There was no doubt in his mind once Izuku found out that he could manipulate him like a puppet, he’d throw Hitoshi out for certain.

Like everyone else.

Hitoshi wasn’t sure why he cared as much as he did. He barely knew Izuku. He barely even remembered the night that Izuku had rescued him.

God, he hated that word. ‘Rescued,’ like he was a princess in a story. Of course, the reality wasn’t much better, but he still hated it. He hated that he’d been drugged out of his mind - and every god damn event in his life that had led up to the moment.

“Mouth hurts,” he finally answered.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! Do you want any of the ibuprofen?” He asked.

Hitoshi hesitated for a moment, running his fingers over the half-healed punctures that decorated his mouth . It was painful, but it reassured him knowing that he could talk if he wanted to. “No,” he said. His answer seemed to confuse Izuku, whose eyebrows were pulled together, and if Hitoshi strained his ears, he could hear a soft stream of babbling . He did that a lot when he was thinking. “It’s alright,” Hitoshi said. “ Just …getting used to it.”

This seemed to make more sense to Izuku, who nodded. “Okay. Um, do you want me to bring you anything else?” He asked. “Um, maybe more chips? Or a different flavor?” He asked. “I can also pick up more sandwiches!” He added.

“You’re…going someplace?” For some reason, Hitoshi felt his stomach twist at that. He shouldn’t have been particularly surprised. In the three days, he’d been tucked away in the hideout, Izuku had left every evening at dusk, for several hours at a time. He always returned with a backpack full of snacks, sodas, and water. It made Hitoshi uneasy.

At best, Hitoshi figured Izuku was sixteen - no more than a couple of months older or younger than himself. There weren't too many respectable businesses out there, hiring homeless, runaway teens.

And Hitoshi was pretty sure that Izuku was a homeless runaway teen since he was living what barely counted as a shack .

Which meant more likely than not, Izuku was stealing the food.

It wasn't so much that Hitoshi objected to the theft - sometimes desperate times called for desperate measures and all that . But he did object to Izuku stealing. He couldn't have been good at it.

Every time he lied, he turned some shade of red or pink and stammered like he'd been pulled on stage.

But Izuku seemed to be managing, and Hitoshi hadn't figured out a way to offer to help.

Izuku nodded, though he didn't meet Hitoshi's eyes, and his face was a lovely shade of pink. “Yeah, I feel better after I go for a walk, you know what I mean?” He asked.

A terrible liar, Hitoshi thought.

Hitoshi stared for a long moment, still running his fingers over the punctures in his mouth. For a moment, he wanted to ask if Izuku would stay with him.

But that seemed clingy, especially considering that they weren’t friends. They were strangers living in a pit. And there was something in Izuku’s eyes that made Hitoshi hesitate. It was like he wasn’t getting the full truth - not that he was owed the full truth.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to get it though.

“A fruit sandwich,” he said finally. “If you can.”

Izuku immediately grinned again, bouncing, “Yeah, of course!” He waved and darted out the door and into the night.

Hitoshi was on his feet in an instant, following with feet as light as a cat. He didn’t have a jacket, but that didn’t stop him from walking out into the freezing cold night. He wrapped his arms around himself, feeling a few snowy flakes brush up against his nose. It wasn’t snowing very hard, but he still had to bite back a few curses as he set off at a brisk pace, following footprints he assumed belonged to Izuku.

He wasn’t sure who else the footprints would have belonged to, in such a crappy and well-hidden part of town.

It took him longer than he would have thought, to find Izuku - he was faster than Hitoshi would have guessed. The bright side was the quick pace he was required to keep helped him stay warm. He wasn’t sweating exactly but he wasn’t shivering by any stretch of the imagination either.

The trail went cold.

Or rather, he ran out of snow to follow, the white powder fading into ice, and then, well-shoveled concrete.

Hitoshi stood where the footprints disappeared, staring in frustration. Damn street plows, he thought, kicking at the salted pavement.

He debated wandering around for a while - it was unlikely, but he thought he still might stumble across Izuku. He gave up the idea though, he didn’t think he knew the city well enough to wander about. With his godforsaken luck, he’d get lost and never make his way back to the safe house.

It was best to go back. He sighed - he’d have to try again another night.

Someone screamed.

The sound sent a shiver down Hitoshi’s spine and he whipped around, hands clenching at his side. Before he could even think about it - he was moving, running towards the sound of someone in need.

The mugger hit Izuku in the face with the crowbar. The sound of the metal reverberated through his skull and left him staggering. Something hot and sticky trickled down his forehead. He groaned taking a few steps back and shaking his head. He caught sight of the mugger’s original victim - a young woman with wide blue eyes, and curly green hair. She looked like his mom. “You should run,” Izuku said - and his voice sounded slurry to his ears.

Another sharp blow to the head had Izuku on his knees and he clutched at his aching head.

”You fucking kid - you should have minded your own business.” the mugger snarled and another blow slammed down against his shoulder. Not broken, only bruised, he told himself. In the back of his mind, he still couldn’t help but marvel at the man’s quirk. Some sort of magnetism. Or a very strong telekinetic pull? It was so cool.

Inconvenient, but cool.

He wished he hadn’t let go of the crowbar. He hadn't wanted to use his pocket knife though - he didn't like using that to hurt people, even if he was trying to help.

It felt wrong.

Too late to worry about it now, he thought. He wouldn't be able to pull it out in time to help him. He'd have to take the beating.

It wouldn’t be the first beating Izuku had ever taken.

He’d been four when he’d first learned that the world had not created all men as equal, and his best friend had burned him with an explosive quirk. His dad had hit him with a golf club that same night - for being weak, he’d said. It had been pain, but the bearable kind, repeated with such frequency it had become expected. A facet of life that he'd learned he could tolerate.

Until his mother died, and he’d been forced out of his home. It had been empty without his mother - and that had been an unendurable pain.

He never wanted anyone to have to suffer that kind of pain. That was why he’d stopped that first time he’d seen someone being robbed. It hadn’t gone well - he’d ended up with a black eye, and a broken nose. But it had been worth it to know that he’d helped someone if only a little bit.

Izuku could take a bit of pain if it meant he could save someone.

So when he looked up, to see the crowbar coming at his face again, he didn’t flinch.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” A sharp voice rang out. Izuku blinked, his eyes flickering behind the robber. Was that…Hitoshi? He raised a hand, wanting to tell the other boy to run away - that he’d meet him back at the hideout - and an even larger part of him wanted to ask why he was there. Wasn’t he supposed to be resting at home?

The mugger sneered. “Move along little…” His voice trailed off and, the rage left his face. Izuku stared in confusion watching as the man swayed on his feet. It was almost like his soul had fled. He stayed, silent and tense not quite trusting the man not to hit him upside the head. Whatever spell had come upon the mugger might be broken at any time - even if Hitoshi didn’t seem to be particularly concerned.

He walked right up to the mugger and held out his hand. “Give me the crowbar,” Hitoshi said. “Now.” The mugger obeyed without question, and Izuku watched as Hitoshi took the slim metal bar, in his hands. His hands tightened around the crowbar - and he bashed the bar straight into the man’s head.

The ferocity of the blow made Izuku jump, his eyes wide as Hitoshi rained down several other blows until the man was groaning on the ground. He stopped moving for a moment, and the only sound was Hitoshi’s rough breathing. His breath puffed out in cold clouds, and a small bead of sweat dripped down his forehead. It made Izuku aware of the fact he was covered in blood and still sitting on the ground.

“…Is he dead?” Izuku whispered.

Hitoshi hesitated for a moment, still panting. He nudged the mugger in the ribs, “No…” he said after a moment. “Unconscious. Just unconscious,” he said, nodding to himself. He stood for a moment, before stooping down and reaching through the mugger’s pockets. After a moment, he produced a wallet and pulled out a modest stack of yen. He dropped the wallet, and stuffed the money into his pocket, before reaching down and offering a hand to Izuku. “Well…you coming?”

Izuku blinked, before reaching up and taking Hitoshi’s hand. He was immediately pulled to his feet, wincing at the pain. “Where are we going…?” he asked.

“For a walk. And to get ramen,” Hitoshi said, still holding onto Izuku’s hand. He pulled him along, “You look like shit,” he added.

“Oh, um…I’m sorry?”

The laugh the other boy gave warmed Izuku’s heart, and Izuku clutched a little harder at Hitoshi’s hand. It was a sharp sound that filled the air - and left Izuku in no doubt, that Hitoshi was only worried about him.

And it felt good, to have someone worry about him.

“So. Was that how you saved me?” Hitoshi asked.

There went that warm feeling. Izuku dropped his eyes to the sidewalk, biting his lower lip. “Well. No.” When Hitoshi turned his head to look at Izuku, he added, “I mean…I got hit a lot less than. But uh, yeah, I kinda hit the guy who had you, with a crowbar…a couple of times.” He shrugged. He felt a little guilty about it. But he knew it had been the right thing to do. Watching the man drag Hitoshi, half out of his mind on drugs, lips sewn shut, into an abandoned building?

How could he have done anything but try and help?

“Right. Right. Makes sense,” Hitoshi said.

“Was that your Quirk?” He asked bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

Immediately, Hitoshi tensed up, looking like he might run away again. Izuku didn’t have any idea why. It was way better than having no Quirk at all. Still, he knew that not everyone was proud of the gifts they were given. His mother had always called her own Quirk unimpressive, and he’d caught plenty of his classmates talking enviously about Bakugou’s Quirk.

The idea that Hitoshi was upset with his Quirk though, made Izuku’s stomach churn. Because he had grown very fond of having Hitoshi in his life, even if it had only been a couple of days. “Is it some sort of paralysis? Like, people hear your voice and then can’t move? That sounds like it would be pretty useful,” he tried, wanting to make Hitoshi feel a bit better about his Quirk.

“It’s not.”

“Oh. I’m sorry - I’m usually better at guessing these sort of things…” He considered, doing his best to mull over the answer. “It’s got something to do with your voice for sure,” he muttered. That was the only thing that would make sense.

“Brainwashing,” Izuku looked up, surprised when Hitoshi answered. “People hear my voice, I can make them do what I want. Mostly . It’s more complicated than that.” He was staring at Izuku, with an expression he didn’t understand.

For a moment, Izuku didn’t respond, mulling over the new information. “That’s why they sewed your mouth shut!” He said, feeling sick to his stomach. “Is that why they were kidnapping you too? Because they thought they could do something with your Quirk.” He couldn’t help but feel anger at that, and he pulled Hitoshi to a stop, grinding his teeth in frustration.

“…Something like that,” Hitoshi didn’t look back at him and so Izuku couldn’t see his face. But that didn’t matter - because even Izuku, could see that his friend was in pain. He let go of Hitoshi’s hand - only to wrap his arms around the other boy in a hug, burying his face into Hitoshi’s back.

“I’m so sorry! That must have been horrible,” He whispered. It was the only thing he could think to say.

He wasn’t all that sure that Hitoshi liked being hugged - he felt stiff and wooden in Izuku’s arms - but he couldn’t bring himself to let go . He felt tears on his cheeks - which made him feel stupid because he hadn’t been the one who’d been hurt . If Hitoshi wasn’t crying, it didn’t make sense for Izuku to cry. He still couldn’t stop himself though.

“Aren’t you afraid of me?” Hitoshi’s voice sounded broken as he spoke. “I just told you that I could brainwash you at any time.”

The thought hadn’t even crossed Izuku’s mind. “You wouldn’t do that to me. Not unless it was for a good reason.” He let go of Hitoshi - though he did grab Hitoshi’s hand again. Not just to reassure his friend though.

It was also cold, and Hitoshi’s hands felt warm. He waited for the other boy to say something, but nothing was said. “Are you….mad at me?” Izuku tried to guess.

“No. I’ll tell you if I’m mad. It’s just most people don’t take it this well.” He paused for a moment, finally turning back to look at Izuku. “You gonna tell me about your Quirk now then? Since you know about mine now?”

“Uh,” Izuku hesitated uncomfortably. “I’m…a little bit Quirkless,” he admitted.


“Quirkless,” Izuku confirmed. “That’s not a problem…is it?” He asked tentatively. He wasn’t sure what sort of reactions Hitoshi got when he talked about his Quirk.

Izuku was very used to people reacting poorly to finding out he was Quirkless. Sometimes it was more subtle - they might speak to him more slowly, and loudly, as if he were stupid, instead of lacking a quirk. And other times, like with his father, and childhood friends, people reacted violently.

Hitoshi shook his head in disbelief. “Let me get this straight. You’re out here doing vigilante work, with no Quirk, and only a pocket knife to defend yourself.”

“Well. To be technical about it, I’m not a vigilante. Mostly because the law says you have to use your Quirk, to be counted as a Vigilante. So I’m more of a friendly neighborhood helper. Who, sometimes commits assault and battery.”

He laughed. Hitoshi threw his head back, shaking some of the snow from his hair, and laughed a carefree, and warm sound that made Izuku smile. “I like you,” Hitoshi said, continuing to pull Izuku along.

Izuku grinned. His ribs still ached, his head throbbed, and he still was damp and cold with snow. And he’d never had such a wonderful day.



Hizashi’s fingers brushed through his husband’s hair as he continued to grade. He made a faintly disgusted sound as he made yet another red mark on Denki’s paper - but he smiled while he did it. The boy wasn’t stupid despite what most of his classmates said. Most of the errors relating to his schoolwork were because he was careless - though that seemed like the wrong word too. He was so excited to get his thoughts out, that it often didn’t translate well to paper. He’d noticed something similar whenever he’d checked over the boy’s work for other classes when he was writing in plain Japanese.

Unfortunately, it made his English nearly incomprehensible.

“Kaminari?” Shouta asked. “Ashido?” He sounded tired - which didn't surprise Hizashi. He'd thought his husband was still sleeping.

“Ashido’s doing better since we did some tutoring last week,” Hizashi said, counting up the marks while worrying his bottom lip . He didn’t want to have to fail Denki. He’d spent a lot of time tutoring Him, Ashido, and Tokoyami over the past few weeks. As a result, he was well aware of the effort Denki had put into attempting to improve his grades. “Kaminari might scrap past with a C,” He finally allowed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than the ought right failing grade he’d been averaging before.

Hizashi added a little smiley face next to the grade.

His husband grunted, which Hizashi knew from experience was a grunt of approval. He was fond of the boy too. Though, Shouta was fond of all his students. The fact of the matter was, his husband was as soft as pudding when it came to most children, even if the children themselves didn’t recognize it. They liked to think that Shouta wanted them all half dead and miserable. The truth of the matter was that he wanted them all to have the tools they needed to not only survive, but flourish in hero society.

But his husband still wanted his kids to be happy - and so he couldn’t resist indulging in a little bit of school gossip.

“You know,” he said dramatically. “Jirou is doing better too. Not really surprising since she and Yaoyarozu started dating though.”

Shouta shifted in Hizashi’s lap. “Hmmn, when did that start?” He asked.

Hizashi bit back a grin at Shouta’s ‘uninterested’ tone. “About a month and a half ago. I heard Jirou ask her out for coffee. They’ve been holding hands in the hallway ever since. It’s cute when they fall in puppy love, isn’t it?” He asked.

Immediately, his husband snorted. “They’re never cute. They’re monsters - the whole lot of them,” he said scornfully, and Hizashi rolled his eyes. “…It would explain why she’s doing so much better in math,” Shouta admitted after a minute.

“It’s nice when they support each other,” Hizashi agreed.

It wasn’t that dating was encouraged at UA. The school’s official policy was that they preferred students to focus on their Hero studies. But the fact of the matter was, most students at UA created lifelong bonds during their school years. The training was intense and didn’t leave much time to get to know people outside of the school, and actually being out in the field wasn’t much better . Oftentimes, the friendships that developed in UA, blossomed into romantic feelings by their third year. By the time the students were out in the field, most had little found families, to help them through the trials of adulthood.

Of course, Hizashi might well have been biased, considering he’d met Shouta in their first year. Though, it had taken him until the end of their third year to convince his husband it was not a passing fancy.

“You know. Bakugou and Kirishima are going hiking this weekend” Shouta murmured.

Hizashi dropped his pen. “No,” he said looking down, only to see his Husband grinning back at him with teeth. “You had better not be fucking with me Shou. I’ll kill you, I swear.”

“Hmmn, I think you’d know if I was fucking with you.” The look he sent Hizashi was sinful, but he huffed out a breath after a moment.

“I swear. Bakugou even invited him himself. Though, I don’t think they’ll actually start dating until the end of the third year.” He reached up and pulled Hizashi down for a kiss. It was only a quick peck on the lips - and yet the small show of intimacy sent a shiver down Hizashi’s spine because he knew it was a learned behavior. One that Shouta had learned for him.

Because physical touch had made Shouta uncomfortable. He wanted to be close - but struggled with anything that left him feeling vulnerable.

And that was what made evenings like this, so sweet when they could just be in each other’s presence.

Hizashi pouted, “but you said they’re hiking. Doesn’t that mean that they’re already, sorta kinda dating?” He asked, though he already had a sneaking suspicion in the pit of his stomach that his husband was right.

His bastard husband was always right.

Shouta switched to sign his hands moving fluidly, “Bakugou isn’t out yet, and he’s stubborn besides. He won’t admit his feelings until he’s a bit more comfortable with himself. Kirishima's patient, and content with friendship at the moment. They’re, enjoying each other’s company. They’ll get there in time.”

“You sure know a lot about your little monsters, don’t you?” Hizashi signed back with a smirk, and then his face softened a little. “You look tired. you should get a bit more sleep before you go back out on patrol. One night off won’t hurt you.”

He knew immediately that his husband would reject the suggestion, the moment Shouta’s mouth pulled in a deep frown, so Hizashi continued on. “You were falling asleep when the social worker came by. It’s not good to push yourself like this.”

“I have to go,” Shouta paused, thinking through what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it. It was another thing that Hizashi loved about Shouta - the way he always put thought into his words. He always looked for a rational reason for his actions, even though he couldn’t always find one. Yes, Shouta preferred most people to have a logical thought process and Hizashi knew that Shouta didn’t always understand when people acted in a certain way. But he always tried to make his own motives clear, and easy to understand.

“People are getting hurt over this. And nobody else cares. Nobody else will go to check if I don’t - and more people will get hurt. Do you understand, Zashi?” he asked.

Hizashi took a deep breath, prepared to tell Shouta that it didn’t matter what he did if he ran himself into the ground. That he would be no use to anyone, But instead, he signed the only thing he could. “I know love.” And he kissed his husband, determined to enjoy a bit more time of domestic peace - and to put off grading, for just a bit longer.

Chapter Text

“You know, you’re really impressive,” Hitoshi said dryly , flipping through the folder. Out of the corner of his eye, he couldn’t help but notice how Izuku went pink at the compliment. He felt an odd twinge of satisfaction at that, an odd complement to that pang of guilt that went with him. It was too easy to make Izuku blush- and he took way too much satisfaction in it.

Not enough to stop but still, the guilt was there.

In the past few weeks, he’d learned a lot about Izuku, even if he hadn’t learned everything. He was Quirkless, but not helpless. He was generally wicked talented with a crowbar, his pocket knife, and whatever other makeshift weapons he managed to get his hands on . He was smart and fascinated by how Quirks worked - and he’d spent a week peppering Hitoshi with questions on how his Brainwash worked . When he wasn’t asking questions about Hitoshi’s quirk he was babbling about Quirk’s he’d seen Pro-Hero’s use over the years. He seemed to be especially interested in All Might’s Quirk. Though he was not by fair, the only object of Izuku's interest. He idolized at least a half dozen heroes and adored another three or four.

Hitoshi had heard of some of them - like All Might of course. Thirteen and Present Mic were some of the other names he was most familiar with. He was also one of the only people he’d ever met, who was familiar was a variety of underground Heroes. It wasn’t quite an obsession - but it was clearly a passion project of Izuku’s. It also made Izuku much more effective at his job as a vigilante.

Well, it wasn’t a job, being as nobody paid Izuku - and Izuku kept insisting he wasn’t technically a vigilante.

But, the fact was, they stopped villains illegally . And sometimes villains and petty criminals had money in their wallets. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it occasionally bought them a nice hot meal, and or some of the items that were a bit more difficult to shoplift . Like the little battery-operated fairy lights that adorned their hideout for reading in the evenings . Or the five-gallon cooler of water Hitoshi had insisted they get. For those days when neither of them felt like going down to a coffee shop or gas station to refill their water bottle .

Their safe house had become quite comfortable in the past few weeks. Hitoshi thought if they managed to find another couch, and a battery-operated radio, the place might be downright cozy . It was already better than most places he’d lived in his life and though he still jumped at loud noises, it was the safest he’d ever felt too . If he had to share the couch with Izuku at night as a make-shift bed that was fine - and if the wind blew sharp and cruel late at night, that was fine too .

Izuku shifted from foot to foot, “It’s not that big a deal…I mean, it’s just some drawings.”

“They’re good drawings,” Hitoshi corrected. They weren’t perfect, but the effort he’d put into it was more than Hitoshi would have had the patience for - and he’d watched Izuku make the maps, and sketches . He’d seen first hand how painstaking Izuku was in his work to get the details just so.



The result was a near-perfect rendition of the man who’d sewn Hitoshi’s mouth shut. On the back, Izuku had listed useful bits of information and had underlined bits of information that he thought Hitoshi should know, or would otherwise find interesting . Four other faces to the file - men Izuku had been able to find had been working with Hitoshi’s captor. There were two other pieces of paper included in the folder. They didn’t have the same intricate drawings, but there was a detailed list of crimes they’d stopped in the past month, where the crimes had occurred, and where Izuku thought they should center their patrols for the week .

And a very tiny little sketch of Hitoshi at the bottom corner of the paper, that made his chest feel a bit tight.

“How you learned to draw like this anyway?” Hitoshi asked, rolling up the paper as they walked through the busy street. It was a Saturday, so no one took much notice of two teenagers wandering about.

Izuku chewed his bottom lip, and Hitoshi immediately wished he hadn’t asked. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to,” he told Izuku.

The two of them had struck up a silent accord over the last few weeks. They didn’t ask about the past. It was like something out of a bad book - and yet, it worked for them. Or maybe , it worked for Hitoshi. Because then he didn’t need to remember anything.

For all he knew, Izuku wanted to talk about it - and he was just too much of a coward to ask.

“I…had a lot of time alone, you know?” Izuku muttered, his face red.

He’s so damn honest, Hitoshi sighed, and then glanced back at Izuku as his stomach growled. “You could have said if you were hungry,” he told the other boy.

It was then that Hitoshi’s stomach gave a large growl.

Immediately, Izuku started laughing - a bright sound that made Hitoshi smile. “…Guess we’re both a little hungry,” he said, reaching into his back pocket. He saw Izuku doing the same.

The results were depressing, to say the least. Hitoshi had three 100 yen coins, and Izuku a 500 yen piece. Hitoshi scrunched up his nose. “Do we have anything back home?” he asked Izuku.

“Um… we have some nori and a couple of boxes of pocky,” Izuku suggested.

Not exactly a feast fit for kings then. Hitoshi considered it for a moment, his eyes scanning the various little shops and stands settled along the streets, before settling on a small stall that held a variety of fried foods . He considered it for several minutes, tilting his head to the side. His mouth filled with saliva as he eyed the food - and a quick glance at Izuku told him he wasn't alone. “Give me a moment,” he muttered. “I’ll grab us something to eat.” He thought he heard Izuku protest, but he ignored the other boy, moving surreptitiously through the crowds . He spent a moment, pretending to eye a nearby window display.

There wasn't a huge variety of food that was already cooked. A couple of baked potatoes wrapped in paper bags, and sticks of seasoned and salted chicken skewers, and his stomach growled again, louder than before. He glanced around as inconspicuously as possible, before reaching for a skewer - 

- only to have a hand take his wrist in an iron-clad grip.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

The man who spoke was a tall man, standing a half foot taller than Hitoshi. In their world of Quirks, Hitoshi would have called him fairly unremarkable - pale, with long black hair, and runner’s build . Dressed for the weather, in a long black coat , and a white scarf wrapped around his neck. The only thing that would have made him stand out to Hitoshi, was the sheer exhaustion in those bloodshot eyes . Like he hadn’t slept in weeks.

Well, that and the unrelenting aura of authority that surrounded him.

Hitoshi continued to pull at his wrist, though the man’s grip didn’t budge. A feeling of panic settled roughly in his chest, and he hoped that Izuku had the sense to run or at least hideaway. Crap. He’d been caught . They were going to call the cops. Have him arrested maybe? Thrown him back into foster care for sure

And God knew what sort of hell he’d go through if he ended up there again. He could almost feel the thread pulling through his lips again.

“I’m not doing anything,” he said and was proud that his voice didn’t crack. “Let go of me,” he added harshly. "Who are you anyway?"

The man looked unimpressed. He didn’t answer, instead of running his eyes over Hitoshi’s form in a way that made his stomach squirm. Come on, answer the question old man, he thought, a feeling of desperation settling around him.

“Uh, excuse me?”

Hitoshi’s head whipped around, and he saw Izuku, standing awkwardly to the side, bouncing on the balls of his feet anxiously . “Uh…you look super familiar,” he said. “Are you…The Pro Hero Eraserhead?” There was no insincerity in Izuku’s voice, just the pure excitement that came whenever Izuku talked about a Pro Hero .

Hitoshi stared - was this really the time?

If Hitoshi was confused , the man - Eraserhead - looked downright dumbfounded at being recognized . “…how did you,” he started, disarmed by Izuku’s wide and innocent eyes.

He was completely taken aback when Izuku kneed him in the groin.

Eraserhead went down, a torrent of curses steaming from his lips. “Toshi!” Izuku’s hand gripped him roughly, “Let’s go!” He shouted, dragging Hitoshi over the prone body of the Hero. He looked back, for a moment, before they were running down the street, pushing people out of the way. They ran until both were out of breath, and Hitoshi pulled Izuku into a side alleyway. They leaned against the exposed brick, trying to catch their breaths.

Hitoshi started to laugh, wheezing between breaths of air. That had been so close. Next to him, he could hear Izuku making a similar wheezing sound, and he turned to smile at the other boy - only to find him crying . The adrenaline left him in a rush. “Izuku,” he said, reaching over and placing his hand on his shoulder. “Izuku, what’s the matter? Are you hurt?”

“I hit…a Pro Hero,” Izuku gasped, pressing his hands against his chest. “I…I…” Hitoshi hesitated, reaching over and wrapping his arms around Izuku. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m just …I’m just a stupid worthless loser. What right do I have?” He trailed off into muttering and Hitoshi stared at him.

Gingerly , he reached over, placing a hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “Who told you that?” He asked, but Izuku only shook his head, still muttering. Worthless. Quirkless. Idiot. They weren’t so dissimilar to the words Hitoshi whispered to himself in his darkest moments.




He rubbed a soothing circle into Izuku’s back and leaned his head against his shoulder. “…Thanks for saving me,” he whispered. It was the only thing he could think to do, as Izuku broke down into tears.

And Hitoshi knew that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Izuku never had to hurt another person - Hero or otherwise - ever again . He pulled Izuku a little closer to him, wrapping his arms tightly around his shaking frame. “Thank you,” he repeated softly .


By the time Izuku and Hitoshi had made it back to the hideout, Izuku had finally stopped crying and felt mostly ashamed of himself . He did try not to cry. His mom had said it was silly for a grown boy to cry. His father had even less patience and had often chosen to silence Izuku with a fist to the face. He was too old to cry anyway - but there were times when he couldn’t help it. When everything was so much, the very walls of reality seemed to creep closer around him. And it was in those moments, Izuku could hear every single thing that was wrong with him, spoken in the voice of everyone he’d ever loved .

Kacchan, shoving him, Quirkless Loser.

Worthless, his dad backhanded when he asked about dinner.

Burden -

- Stupid.



And so many other words that had cut him - not because they’d been said , but because they were true. Crying about it only made it worse.

He was embarrassed to have broken down in front of Hitoshi - who had seemed to like him so far, even if he was Quirkless. At least, Hitoshi hadn’t seemed to mind staying together - and Izuku cherished having someone around who didn’t hate him . He liked having someone to talk to - and he liked it even more that Hitoshi seemed to like listening to him talk.

He’d panicked seeing Eraserhead looking at Hitoshi - and even more than that, he’d hated seeing Hitoshi scared . And he had been scared - so Izuku had just . Moved. He’d been like that all his life - never able to stop himself if he saw someone in need because standing still was utterly inconceivable .

A hero. He’d moved to hit a Hero in the balls. The shame washed over him all over again, and he wanted to bury his head in his hands - because good people, worthwhile people did not go around assaulting heroes . They helped people - it was why Izuku liked to go for his walks around the neighborhood. To make sure that everyone who needed help got it - and if he had to pick a fight to do that, it was alright.

But he’d never wanted to hurt someone else whose job was to help people. Except that he’d panicked - because he was going to take Hitoshi away. Izuku knew of course, logically , that Hitoshi would be better off if some Heroes took him in. Took him to a nice home, with heating, and running water, and food. But nobody was going to take him in. Because he was a loser. A deku.


And he hated to be alone.

Hitoshi would leave him eventually of course - and Izuku couldn’t help but think that his departure would only be hastened along by Izuku’s behavior . Because even though he’d tried to do the right thing - he’d also behaved selfishly .


Izuku forced himself to sit with that knowledge. Because there wasn’t anything he could do about it - people left sometimes, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Because he drove them away.

“Hey. Eat this,” Hitoshi said, plopping down on the couch next to him, and shoving a box of pocky at him. “You still look kinda pale.”

“Um…thanks,” Izuku said fiddling with the box, refusing to make eye contact. He fiddled with the box. But he didn’t open the box - his earlier hunger had disappeared in the face of his shame and embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” he added.

Hitoshi glanced at him and picked up the box of pocky. “Why are you sorry?” He asked, sounding bemused as he opened the box. He handed it back to Izuku and made a ‘go on and eat,’ sort of gesture. “For saving my life? That’s stupid.”

“…Didn’t save your life,” Izuku muttered. That Pro wouldn’t have killed Hitoshi - at worst, he would have taken him down to the police station for questioning.

Hitoshi eyed him for a moment, leaning back on the couch, “…You did. You save a lot of people’s lives, and just don’t take credit for it.”

“That Hero wouldn’t have hurt you!” Izuku said, rocking slightly in his seat. It was just a small movement, that immediately offered him some relief from the anxiety. “He probably just would have -”

“Taken me to the police station, and put me right back in foster care,” Hitoshi said. “Which would have been as good as killing me.” His eyes unfocused, just for a moment and his lips pressed together, as if remembering something unpleasant . He breathed out shortly and then leaned his head against Izuku’s shoulder. It was such a small gesture - and yet, Izuku found himself blushing furiously . “…If they ever put me back in foster care, it would only be a couple of days before they gave me away again,” he said softly . “To the same people, or to someone worse. So yeah. You saved my life.”

Izuku hesitated and tentatively wrapped his arm around Hitoshi’s shoulder. He breathed in sharply and wanted to say something - anything. That Hitoshi was saving his life too. And yet, somehow, the silence said it all.



“So…Do you want to talk about it?” Hizashi asked, his face poker straight.

Shouta sprawled on the couch, an ice pack still pressed against his crotch. He cast his husband a cool look, mouth tightening to a thin line. It had been only a few hours since the incident. “I do not,” he said.

For a brief, beautiful moment, there was silence, and he was left to wallow in his own embarrassment. It had been years since he’d been caught so completely off guard - and he did not find it funny that the person to catch him off guard had been a child . I doubt he was older than my students, Shouta thought sourly .

“I mean. I could take you to the hospital - just in case,” Hizashi suggested.

Shouta closed his eyes. “’Zashi.

“Don’t Zashi me! You are my husband and I love you, and I’m allowed to be worried about you! And besides, those are some of my favorite parts!”

Groaning, Shouta leaned his head back. He picked up a pillow, and stuck it over his face - maybe, just maybe he’d suffocate. His husband had never been one to take a hint though, no matter how obvious Shouta was with his hints.

“Why weren’t you wearing a cup anyway? You can’t go fighting villains without protection!” Hizashi continued to fret.

Well. it didn’t matter if Shouta didn’t want to talk about it. Reluctantly , he took the pillow away from his face and raised his voice a little, so that Hizashi could hear him. “I wasn’t out fighting villains. I was getting cat litter. And a villain didn’t attack me.” He glanced out from under the pillow and sighed seeing Hizashi’s baffled expression. “There was a boy, who was stealing from a street vendor. He was homeless. I was going to buy him a real meal.”

“And he kicked you in the balls?” Hizashi asked, aghast. When Shouta shot him a glare, he raised both hands in a placating gesture. “Sorry, sorry, I’ll stop interrupting.”

“Before I got a chance, his little friend came over. He recognized me,” he ground his teeth. “I was…surprised, and didn’t react in time to stop him.” In Shouta’s entire life, he could count on one hand how many people recognized him as a Pro Hero - especially when he wasn’t wearing his goggles . “It was a rookie mistake.”

Shouta felt the couch dip next to him, and his husband's arms wrapped around him. He sighed, leaning into Hizashi’s shoulder. “You’re still worried about them, huh babe?”

“They’re street gremlins,” Shouta scoffed, but he couldn’t help but think of how thin each boy was. And there had been so many scars on the one boy’s mouth. He shifted uncomfortably , “…I wish they’d let me buy them food.” He’d wished they’d let him talk. Because he couldn’t help but wonder if they had a warm place to sleep for the night, or if they managed to get get a decent meal. It made him think of himself as a teenager.

It frustrated him that the world was cruel. It frustrated him that even as a Hero, he couldn’t save everyone. It was a hard truth, that he’d known since he was seventeen - since the day that Oboro had died.

The world did not provide all men the same opportunities. For as many men as it elevated, it crushed at least double.

He sighed feeling Hizashi’s fingers in his hair. “I know babe. I know.” He paused for a moment. “Would…a little bit of good news help, do you think?” He asked mischievously .

Shouta grimaced, “It had better be pretty goddamn fantastic news,” he said.

“I mean, I think it is.” Hizashi kissed him on the cheek. “The social worker called. The agency approved us.”


Shouta blinked, and then looked at his husband, his stomach twisting a bit."They did?”

They did,” Hizashi confirmed, gently brushing back Shouta’s hair from his face. “They said we’ll make great foster parents.” And Hizashi let out a laugh. “Can you believe it?”

Thinking back to the look of terror, in that young man’s eyes, Shouta couldn’t believe it. But he smiled at his husband. “Yes,” he said softly


Chapter Text


Hitoshi jerked awake from his sleep, falling off the couch with a thud. “Oh! I’m so sorry Toshi, I didn’t know you were sleeping,” Izuku babbled, “Um are you hurt? You didn’t break anything, did you?” He asked, looking concerned as he hovered above Hitoshi. His hands twitched at his sides like he wanted to offer help, but didn’t think it would have been welcome.

“Don’t worry about it,” Hitoshi dismissed him, yawning. “I’ve been sleeping long enough.” He hadn’t meant to sleep anyway. “What’s wrong?” He added, pulling himself back up to the couch. As disgusting as the thing looked, it was damn comfortable. He patted the spot next to him, and Izuku sat down almost automatically. , There wasn’t another place to sit. We gotta get another couch, Hitoshi thought. They’d made do so far - usually taking turns sleeping. Though, not always. There was something comforting about sleeping nestled against each other.

Especially with how cold it was.

But Hitoshi was sure that Izuku wouldn’t care to deal with Hitoshi’s nightmares forever. He’d already lost count of how many times he’d woken up to Izuku sleepily rubbing his back, muttering that everything was going to be okay.

“Nothing!” Izuku insisted, “Northing’s wrong - I just, I found it!” When Hitoshi gave him a blank look, he elaborated, “The place those villains were going to take you! I found it.” he said, and the pride in his voice was undeniable.

All Hitoshi could feel, was a cold dread settled in his stomach. He hadn’t even known that Izuku was looking. “Why would you do that?” He hissed, “You could have gotten hurt!” Hitoshi grit his teeth, a sudden prickling of pain across his mouth, and back. The weeks away from his captors had eased most of the cuts and bruises that had littered his body. But the phantom pain seemed to surge in him.

He gritted his teeth, remembering hands holding him down and something sharp digging into his side. And he’d screamed - he thought more than anything that had been why they’d sewed his mouth shut. Because they’d found the sound annoying.

They hadn’t killed him though - or done something permanent. They’d threatened too, but they’d never followed through. Because they thought he might be useful - because he had a dangerous Quirk.

The idea of what they’d do to Izuku was terrifying to him. They wouldn’t see how useful Izku could be - how smart and quick-witted he was. They’d kill him in an instant because he didn’t fit into what most people thought of as ‘useful.’

Hitoshi wasn’t sure if that was better or worse.

Yet, he couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt at the wounded look Izuku gave him. “I was careful,” he protested. “I didn’t talk to anybody, and I wasn’t seen. And besides! You said they hurt you…and I don’t want them to hurt you or anyone else again.” He kicked at the dirty floor.

Inwardly, Hitoshi groaned. Why did Izuku have to have such a good explanation for everything? He took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves. He still wanted to snap - to tell Izuku to drop the investigation immediately but he suspected that continued arguments wouldn’t stop Izuku. If anything, Izuku would continue and just not tell Hitoshi. He’d sneak off, and end up getting his ass handed to him like with the mugger.

Just …take me with you next time alright?” He ran a finger through his hair. He needed a haircut - though, not as badly as Izuku needed one. His curly green hair had grown down to his shoulder- which wasn’t a bad look on Izuku. The problem was more that it had become hopelessly tangled. Izuku also resisted any help that was offered to him.

Hitoshi’s purple hair by comparison wasn’t exactly neat. But it wasn't much worse than it usually was. He used his fingers each morning to comb through the knots at least.

He'd have killed for a shower.

“I can take care of myself. I’m not helpless. You don’t have to come with me because…you know,” Izuku muttered.

“What? Because you’re Quirkless?” Hitoshi asked. When Izuku refused to meet his eyes, Hitoshi scowled, “I don’t think you’re helpless, dumbass. You saved my life - of course, you can take care of yourself.” Besides, Izuku had been on his own for god knew how long. Long enough that anyone who questioned his ability to survive was a moron. “And I don’t care that you’re quirkless.”

Having no Quirk wasn’t all that different from having an ‘undesirable’ Quirk in some ways. People might have hated Izuku for it or bullied him. But that didn’t mean he was a bad person, or that he deserved to be bullied.

Or kicked out of his house , Hitoshi thought darkly . He still wasn’t sure that had been what had happened to Izuku. They didn’t talk about it. For Hitoshi, the wounds of his past were still too fresh to pick at. He didn’t know how deep Izuku’s wounds went - and he figured that Izuku would tell him more when and if he felt he needed to. All Hitoshi knew for certain, was that he hated whatever circumstances had driven Izuku to live in their decrepit little building.

“I’m allowed to worry and care about you. Whether you’re Quirkless, or fucking All Might. We’re family,” Hitoshi stated, reaching over and gripping Izuku's shoulder

Izuku stiffened up at the word, but Hitoshi ignored that, continuing. “So next time you go, take me.”

For a moment, Izuku didn’t say anything but eventually, he gave a sharp nod. “Good,” Hitoshi said, leaning back into his chair. “Now. Where was it anyway?” he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

Izuku looked startled at the change of topic and eyed Hitoshi for a moment as if he were expecting some sort of trick. Like Hitoshi’s mood might turn on a dime, depending on the answer he gave. It was a look Hitoshi was familiar with - he’d given it to enough people over the years. “Uh, there’s a tunnel. Outside of the apartment buildings, I found you at. Well, it’s technically a sewer tunnel - but also not a sewer tunnel! Like, it’s not supposed to be there, do you know what I mean?”

Hitoshi didn’t, but he nodded his head anyway.

“So, if you just, sorta hop down there, and wander down a hundred or so feet, you end in a secret room! Pretty cool, right?” Izuku said bouncing in that way that let Hitoshi know how excited he was.

Hitoshi didn’t really think it was very ‘cool’ that the villains had a secret hideout - if anything, it was rather inconvenient.

But Izuku had worked hard to find the place. He was tempted to find out exactly how Izuku had found the entrance, but decided some things were better left a mystery . “Very cool,” he agreed and settled back into the couch. How did they even get a tunnel? He wondered.

And why were they trying to hide him in a secret tunnel anyway?

“Are you sure it’s the same people?”

Izuku looked surprised but nodded. “I’m sure,” he lowered his voice. “Um…A lot of kids in that neighborhood go missing. I don’t think it gets reported, and they’re definitely not all runaways. What are the odds that a bunch of kids go missing…and then you show up…and there’s a secret tunnel, right there?”

He made a compelling argument.

It made Hitoshi’s stomach churn - he knew that he hadn’t been the only one. But he didn’t like that other people had gone missing - and he didn’t like the idea that more of them could go missing either.

“You uh…Wanna see what they’re up to?” Hitoshi asked, looking at his dirt-encrusted nails, and trying to seem disinterested.

“You just said it was dangerous!” Izuku looked surprised. “And…I didn’t think you wanted to be around those people anymore,” he added refusing to meet Hitoshi's eyes.

Hitoshi flushed, looking away. He didn’t want to be around those people anymore - and he had just said it was dangerous. But, sometimes…it was more important to do the right thing than it was to sit down and be quiet.

Wasn’t it?

“Well. Yeah. But if we go together, it’ll be fine. And it's like you said, I don’t want them to hurt anyone else. So, you wanna go, or not?” He asked.

Izuku hopped to his feet, eyes shining. “Yeah! Let’s go,” he said, reaching down and grabbing Hitoshi’s hand. They were out the door within minutes - only pausing to grab a quick dinner of granola and chips. Hitoshi also grabbed their flashlight. 

He cursed, the sound reverberating throughout the empty street as they stepped out into the cold air. He wrapped his arm around Izuku. He felt the other boy wrap an arm around his waist, and felt the chill abate, a bit as they walked. He let Izuku lead as they walked, the other boy tugging or pushing him in the right direction, as the need arose.

A few months ago, he would have found that irritating - he’d spent most of his life having people push or pull him places. Nobody had ever cared about what he wanted to do.

Foster parents who wanted him to behave one way. Social workers who dragged him into one house after another - and villains, when the system had given up on him entirely . None of them had cared.

But it wasn’t a demand when Izuku lead him. It was a request.



“Did you mean it? That we’re family?” Izuku asked, his voice a mere whisper.

Hitoshi paused, feeling faintly uncomfortable. The idea of family had always been a looser concept to him than most. Blood was less important to him than a desire to be around someone. But, he really didn’t know what had happened to Izuku’s family - and it occurred to him that he might not have been looking for a replacement . Maybe just Hitoshi projecting what he wanted onto Izuku. “Yes,” He finally said. “But only if you want to.”

“I want to!” Izuku assured him, leaning his head against Hitoshi’s shoulder. "I couldn't ask for a better family." 

It took them a little over twenty minutes of walking to get to the tunnel Izuku had spoken of. Hitoshi had to say, Izuku was right. It looked like a sewer cover. He eyed the large metal disk as Izuku managed to pry it up using his pocket knife as a lever. Once he'd lifted the plate the first couple of inches he slipped his fingers between the gap and lifted with a grunt . Hitoshi leaned down to help push it aside - and grunted in surprise.

“Why the fuck is this so heavy?” He hissed as they managed to shove it away. Were regular sewer grates so heavy? “How did you find this anyplace?”

“It’s a little different from the others. Not so rusty, you know?”

Again, Hitoshi didn’t, but he grunted his understanding. He didn’t disbelieve Izuku. He often seemed to find small details that Hitoshi didn’t notice until they were pointed out to him. If Hitoshi hadn’t known better, he would have thought that Izuku’s hypersensitivity to the seemingly mundane was related to a Quirk . But it was another facet of Izuku’s personality.

He huffed softly as the gap was finally wide enough to wriggle through. “You go first,” Izuku urged and Hitoshi didn’t argue, climbing down into the dark.

The relief he felt, when his foot touched dry ground, instead of a steaming pile of sewer shit, was indescribable. “I’m down, and safe,” Hitoshi called up. He took a step back and reached into his pocket to pull out his flashlight. The tunnel wasn’t completely black - but he couldn’t see more than a few feet into the gloom.

Unfortunately, the narrow yellow didn’t do much to help.

Izuku dropped down the last few feet, landing with a solid thud. He staggered a little, not exactly looking dignified, but he didn’t fall.

“Which way do we go?” Hitoshi asked. Even whispering his voice seemed to echo in the tunnel, and his stomach twisted into a pretzel-like knot.

Maybe this hadn’t been a good idea. If he were a smarter man, Hitoshi would have suggested climbing back up that ladder, and leaving well enough alone. But he had been serious when he’d told Izuku that he didn’t want anyone else to suffer like him.

And if he could help even a little, that’s what he wanted to do.

Izuku grabbed his hand, “This way,” he said his voice taut with a mixture of anxiety and excitement.

The walk was longer than Hitoshi would have thought. He wasn’t sure if it was because of nerves, or if it had to do with the oppressive darkness that encompassed them. The only real sound in the tunnel with the sound of their footsteps - and each step made him cringe. Dark thoughts nagged at him, demanding that they turn back. It felt like there were monsters around every corner. Something in the dark waiting to come out and grab him.

It was only the voices in his head that kept him going forward - the voices that whispered every cruel word that had ever been told to him.




He was terrified those voices would be right if he didn’t keep moving forward. And he longed to prove that he wasn’t any of those things.

If he left the tunnel, before he made absolutely certain that someone wasn’t being held prisoner, everyone would be right about him.

He had to make sure that there wasn’t anyone who needed his help - because if he didn’t, then he’d be no better than everyone who’d ignored him as a little boy.

He was so engrossed in his thoughts, he walked smack into Izuku, and managed to step on the other boy’s shoe.

“Sorry!” Izuku gasped before Hitoshi even had a chance to say anything.

“Why are you apologizing? I stepped on you, not the other way around.”

Izuku made a thoughtful sound but didn’t give another reply otherwise. Hitoshi sighed - they would need to work on that.

He didn’t have too much time to think on it though, because Izuku had managed to open the door. Bright fluorescent lights blinded Hitoshi. He tensed, instinctively sinking back into the darkness - but once his eyes adjusted, he saw that nobody was there.

He was speechless as he stared at the sheer number of boxes that lined the room - though it was more like a warehouse. He licked his lips as he stepped past Izuku, his jaw clenching involuntarily. His fingers brushed up against the crates. “What’s in this…?” He whispered.

But he already thought he might know.

“I don’t know exactly. I think it’s just like…a housing place, for drugs? Or something? But why would they want to bring you here?” Izuku murmured. “I don’t see anyone else here… maybe there’s another door or something?”

Hitoshi let his hand trail against the crate before he knew he had to open it. Possibly every damn crate in the place and destroy it all. So it couldn’t be used to hurt anyone. Vaguely he could hear Izuku speaking, but he ignored the other boy, leaning forward to pry at the top of the lid. His fingertips dug into the harsh wood of the crate as he tried to force it open.

“What?” He snapped when he felt Izuku’s hand touch his shoulder.

“Toshi…someone’s coming,” he whispered. “We have to hide.”

All at once, he was aware of footsteps, and low voices. His skin prickled, and it was only Izuku’s hand that kept him present in the moment, his breath coming sharp. “Come on! We have to hide!” Izuku repeated, pushing him into the shadows, wedging the two of them between two stacks of boxes. It was an uncomfortable position that left Hitoshi’s breath shallow and uneven, even as he tried to quiet his breathing.

“Well, what the fuck else do you think happened?” One of the voices hissed - a man’s voice by the sound of it.

“Dunno. Could have been an accident,” another man responded. “Some of the brats in this neighborhood are awful nosy. Little bastards,” he scowled. “We go up and make a couple more of them disappear. You know - make sure they stop fumbling around here.”

“It might not be some fucking teen. It could be a Hero! Then we’d be fucked. Or what about that vigilante that beat the living shit out of Mamarou? Nah. Gotta nip this in the bud right now,” the voices seemed to pass them, and Hitoshi fixed his eyes on Izuku.

He could feel the other boy shaking next to him, his whole body vibrating. But not in that normal way - this time, Izuku was just as frightened as he was. There was something about these men that set his hair on end. And yet, they couldn’t leave…could they?

Do we fight?” He mouthed the words.

The smart thing, he knew, would have been to run - but they were talking about hurting kids. Or Pro Heroes - Hitoshi didn’t think they could let that stand - they were vigilantes for a reason, right? They were there to help people.

Izuku worried his lip for a moment, his eyes luminous in the shadows before he gave a sharp nod. He dug in his pockets for a moment, before producing his knife. He hesitated for a moment, before trying to hand it to Hitoshi. “ Just in case,” he whispered.

“What? No!” Hitoshi hissed. “What are you going to use?” He demanded, gesturing around the warehouse - and the distinct lack of weaponry around. I should have gotten myself a knife, he thought bitterly. Or at least a crowbar or baseball bat. “You keep it…I’ve got my Quirk,” he reminded him.

Izuku hesitated for another moment, before sighing, and nodding.

He just looked so goddamn uncomfortable.

They didn’t speak but continued to move silently. Over the past few weeks, they’d developed a silent sort of understanding. A proper system, like they really were some sort of Heroes, instead of a couple of vigilantes.

Or neighborhood helpers as it was.

Hitoshi found himself thankful that they’d had the time to practice moving together and fighting together. And yet, he couldn’t help but feel that something was off as they rounded the corner - and found no one within sight.

“Well, looks like they're a couple of kiddos after all,” Hitoshi spun around in surprise hearing the voice mere feet behind him. He came face to face with a gun. “How’d you two get in here anyway - no, no don’t answer.” He said, eying the two boys. “Not sure I wanna hear you two talk too much. Might give you two some ideas. Eh, kid, drop that knife, will you?” He demanded.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Izuku’s shocked expression and watched as he hesitated. Gathering up all his courage, Hitoshi muttered, “ Maybe …you could put the gun down.” He inhaled sharply , feeling that slight tingling sensation all along his tongue, that always came when he used his quirk. Like an electrical current that had been let loose, and yet was connected to all the nerves in his body.

And using it provided a strange sort of relief - one that he would never admit.

His Quirk.

The other goon looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Didn’t he tell you to…” he trailed off, jaw goings slack and eyes going vacant. The relief that Hitoshi felt was immediate.

“Haruto…Haruto, what the hell are you doing?” The man snapped. But when his companion didn’t respond, he switched his gaze over to Hitoshi his mouth pressed in a tight line. He kept his gun on Izuku though. “What the hell did you do to him?”

“Put the gun down. Both of you!” He demanded. “Put it down, and we can talk about it.” He was ashamed to hear his voice crack but he was in control. He and Izuku could still get out of this. He just had to keep calm.

Haruto lowered his gun immediately, too enamored with Hitoshi’s to disobey. He wished he had the training to use his Quirk on more than one person at a time. It would have been so easy then. He licked his lips as the man scowled at him, but didn’t say anything.

Just …put it down. No one has to get hurt,” Hitoshi tried again.

Slowly the man rolled his neck, thinking over his words. “Nobody has to be hurt,” he finally agreed.

He shot Izuku.

“But you two are gonna get hurt anyway.”

Hitoshi blinked, the sound of gunfire ringing in his ears, his head snapping to look at Izuku so fast, it was a miracle he didn’t break his neck. A scream tore out of his throat as he saw blood explode from his shoulder. “Shoot your friend in the knee,” Hitoshi snarled at the man under his control. He didn’t even bother looking back as he hurried to Izuku’s side.

The boy was still on his feet, though his expression was a mixture of baffled and pain as Hitoshi seized him roughly by his good arm. “Come on, let’s go,” he said, towing Izuku out. He heard a second gunshot, and then a third - but he ignored it.

He didn’t feel any pain, and the important thing was to get Izuku to safety.

Still, he felt a twinge of guilt, as Izuku let out a scream of pain, but he ignored it, towing him into the darkness of the tunnel. “Shit, don’t let them get away!” he heard one of the men yell, but he ignored the screams as he finally spotted the ladder.

“Climb,” Hitoshi demanded.

“Toshi…I don’t think I can,” Izuku whimpered. He was clutching his shoulder and his eyes had a glassy, shocking quality to them.

He took a deep breath but grabbed Izuku shoving him towards the ladder. He felt like an asshole doing it, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it - their options were to move or die.

“You can do it!” he said taking Izuku’s good hand and putting it on the rung of the ladder. “Come on, go!” He said encouraged. He was relieved when Izuku didn’t argue further though he moved far more slowly than Hitoshi would have liked. “You can do it,” he encouraged, glancing over his shoulder. He followed along, as fast as he could, though his sweaty hands made it difficult to hold onto the metal rungs. He reached up to place a hand on Izuku’s back.

"Izuku! Come on! You have to do this!" He begged.

The other boy made a choked sound, and Hitoshi's heart sank. But, after a moment, Izuku finally managed to pull himself up the last few feet, and out onto the streets.

It only took a second to climb up after him, and Hitoshi found Izuku lying curled on his side on the street. Tears were streaming down his face, and guilt stabbed at Hitoshi.

But he reached down, and dragged Izuku to his feet anyway, wrapping his arm around his waist to support him.

Together, they sprinted off into the night.


Izuku’s whole body ached as they finally managed to limp into the hideout. He tried to go for the lights, but Hitoshi shook his head. “I’ll get them. You go sit down,” he said, and Izuku winced but didn’t argue. He didn’t sit down either, just stared at the couch as the lights flickered on. He winced, closing his eyes. “Why aren’t you sitting down?” Hitoshi asked softly from across the room.

“I’m gonna get blood all over the couch,” Izuku muttered. “I should change first. And wash up - that way there won’t be a mess,” he said. His arm was somehow both numb and in agony. He couldn’t move his fingers, and he was distantly aware of the fact his arm was broken. His dad had broken his arm before a couple of times. The first time had been when the doctor had told his parents he was Quirkless. The second time had been when he’d had to come home to take care of Izuku after his mother had died.

This was somehow much worse. It’s because I was so useless, Izuku thought. If I’d been more useful or helped Hitoshi more, maybe it wouldn’t hurt as much. He wasn’t sure if that made real, logical sense, but he couldn’t escape the feeling it was somehow his fault. And that made him want to double up in fear as well as pain.

Those were all problems that Izuku knew he should have been concerned about - but he couldn’t help but focus on the blood and how messy it was.

“Izuku, that shouldn’t matter,” Hitoshi started.

Izuku glared, “It does matter!” He snapped. He was going to get the couch all bloody! He took a sharp breath, the guilt for snapping instant and sharp as a knife. “...Can you hand me a clean shirt?” He muttered, trying not to look at the absolute mess that had been his shirt. “Then I’ll sit down. I promise.”

Hitoshi studied him for a moment, before nodding, and moving over to the pile of ‘clean’ clothes’ they kept in the corner. He pulled out a shirt - and even took a moment to find a washcloth and a water bottle. He returned to Izuku, his mouth pressed in a tight line. “…Can I help at least?” He asked.

“Umm….” Izuku shifted from foot to foot for a moment - it felt wrong to accept help. After all. He was the one who’d been stupid enough to get shot. Hitoshi shouldn’t have been forced to baby him. But Hitoshi had offered, so it was probably okay.

“…If you don’t mind,” Izuku said. He hesitated for a moment, before doing his best to shrug out of his T-shirt. He must have made a sound of pain, because Hitoshi was by his side after a moment, helping pull the fabric over his head.

It wasn’t exactly gentle, but it was easier with a second pair of hands. “Your arm’s all kinds of fucked up,” Hitoshi muttered. “Look…can you please sit down? I’ll clean up the blood, but we need to get that bandaged up first."

“It’s not your mess to clean up,” Izuku protested.

“I don’t care,” Hitoshi snapped, “I care about you. Look…sit down, and let me bandage you up. Please!” He added.

Izuku sat reluctantly, keeping his back straight and his bloodied shoulder turned away from the fabric of the couch.

“Thank you,” Hitoshi said. It didn’t make much sense to Izuku - why would Hitoshi thank him? He was the one who was helping out. If anything, Izuku ought to have been thanking him.

It was just ...that he was so tired. He couldn’t even force his brain to think of the words to explain.

He winced as the rag pressed up against his shoulder. He winced as Hitsohi gently scrubbed at the tender skin. “Sorry. I’ll try to be quick,” he promised. “Then we can wrap up your arm. Or…should I try and sew it up do you think,” Hitoshi worried his lower lip. “I don’t know how to take care of bullet wounds.”

Izuku could hardly fault him with that. It wasn’t like Izuku had been shot before either.

“I’m sorry,” Izuku said immediately. “I should have moved faster. Or dome something. I shouldn’t have dragged you down there in the first place.” More apologies bubbled from his lips, but he stopped when Hitoshi put his hand against his mouth.

It was only when Izuku stopped trying to talk, that Hitoshi removed his hand. “Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault. I wanted to go there - I swear, if you try and apologize again, I’ll kill you.” Izuku felt his face go red.

“Thank you,” Izuku finally managed.

“Yeah. No problem,” Hitoshi said, reaching over and continuing to wipe the blood off of him Izuku as best he could. He kept pausing whenever Izuku winced. He gave Izuku a few moments to compose himself, before continuing again. “It’s going to be alright. We’ll get this bandaged up in no time - and I’ll try and get some ramen. Once the couch is all cleaned up,” he amended.

Izuku took a deep breath, “Alright…” He forced himself to relax a bit. “Alright. You’re right. Everything is going to be fine."

Chapter Text

Everything was not all right.

It had been five days since their ill-fated trip to the tunnel warehouse. The first two days had consisted of Hitoshi and Izuku resting. Hitoshi had cleaned the gunshot wound as often as Izuku would allow. Which wasn’t as often as Hitoshi would have liked, but still three or four times a day. He’d assumed at first the red puffiness of the wound had to do with all the washing.

Wounds could get irritated if you touched them too much right? And the pain was probably because Izuku’s arm was broken .

But the infection was impossible to deny by the third day.

He brushed his hands over Izuku’s forehead, wincing at how hot the other boy’s forehead had grown. He could have roasted marshmallows with how hot he was. Though Izuku constantly complained of being cold, and he shivered nearly constantly. Hitoshi had gotten all the blankets and wrapped them around Izuku but it didn’t seem to be enough.

His breathing sucked - it was way too fast, and made Izuku sound like a garbage disposal.

He’d started refusing food and water the day before.

Izuku was dying.

Hitoshi wasn’t stupid. He knew infections could kill. He was very aware that they needed some sort of medical help - they needed a hospital. The problem was, that they couldn’t exactly just …walk in to. That would get them a one-way ticket to a foster home, and very likely, it wouldn’t have even been the same foster home. Not to mention all the questions doctors would have about how Izuku had gotten shot.

He was pretty sure admitting that they sometimes engaged in ‘vigilante-like’ behavior, was going to get them thrown in jail .

He brushed his fingers through Izuku’s hair again - a bit greasy, but still soft. He’d settled the boy on his lap earlier in the evening, hoping that would help somehow.

“Toshi?” Izuku muttered. Hitoshi made a vague sound of acknowledgment. “My arm kinda hurts…do we have any more Advil?” He whispered. He didn’t open his eyes as he spoke.

“No…We’re out,” Hitoshi answered, and winced at the soft groan Izuku gave in return. “I can go get some though. It would only take a bit,” he said, starting to move Izuku - but stopped when the other boy gripped his shirt with his good arm.

“Not…right now,” he whispered. “I don’t want to be alone. Please.” Hitoshi winced at the words, hearing what went unspoken. I don’t want to die alone. He wanted to protest that Izuku wasn’t going to die - that he wasn’t going to let that happen. He wanted to swear up and down, that he would protect Izuku better than any of those Heroes he worshipped.

But Hitoshi was just . A sixteen-year-old boy - and he didn’t know how to help.

“I’m sorry, Izuku,” he whispered. “I wish my Quirk was more useful.” Something that would have let him heal or fix Izuku, or get them what they needed. Or something that could have stopped Izuku from getting shot in the first place.

He glanced down - and was surprised to find Izuku smiling. “Your Quirk is already super useful. And it’s so cool!” He sounded horribly out of breath, but Hitoshi smiled anyway. “You can do a lot of great things with it,” Izuku added. “You can stop villains in their tracks…and help people who are panicking. And you can help bring people to safety without hurting them.”

Hitoshi had to snort, “You’re the only one who thinks that.” Everyone else thought he was a villain. Izuku was the only one who’d ever bothered to try and think of ways he could apply his Quirk in ways that were actually useful to society .

“If you could have any Quirk in the world, what would you have?”

The question caught Hitoshi by surprise, because…well, nobody had ever asked him before . He responded almost immediately anyway, “Something that could help people,” he said, voice tight . “Something useful, like I said. Maybe something that could help you,” he said. Something that could heal Izuku, or take away his pain. Like…

He paused, his mind going very still. Like Recovery Girl.

“And I said it’s already useful. I can’t imagine…anyone who could take better care of me,’ he whispered, voice trailing off.

The words both cut Hitoshi, and set his resolve. “…Hey. Can I ask you a question about heroes?” He asked. “Or are you too tired for it?

Though Izuku didn’t open his eyes, the smile he gave was both immediate and euphoric. It was the most animated Hitoshi had seen Izuku in days. “If I can,” Izuku offered. And despite how sick Izuku was, Hitoshi had to roll his eyes. If Izuku couldn’t answer a question about a hero, then Hitoshi was a rabbit.

“You ever heard of Recovery Girl?”

“Mmnhmm,” Izuku gave a vague sound of affirmation.

“She works around here, right?”

“Sorta…” Izuku said and took in another breath that seemed to shake his whole body. “She works at U.A. She officially retired from her hero agency… two years ago.”

U.A huh? Hitoshi tried to picture it in his head. That was about a thirty-minute train ride. Further, then he wanted to go…but if he could get to the old hero, and use his Quirk to get her to Izuku…and then return her back to the school… .

“…Toshi, what are you thinking? You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you?” Izuku asked eyes still closed.

Yes. “No,” Hitoshi assured Izuku. “I’m thinking. I promise,” he added when Izuku didn’t seem convinced. “Why don’t you go ahead and get some sleep?” He suggested.

It was a suggestion, that Izuku seemed to have already taken because he didn’t answer Hitoshi immediately . For a horrible moment, Hitoshi wondered if he'd died between one sentence and the next.

But after a moment, the sound of his ragged breathing returned, and Hitoshi was able to let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding .

And Hitoshi eased himself out from under Izuku, guilt gnawing at him as he did. But it was only for a moment - because he was going, to get Izuku the help he needed.

"I’ve noticed, you’ve been having a bit of difficulty in class lately,” Hizashi said delicately .

The look that Katsuki gave him was venomous. If it wasn’t his job to look after his students, Hizashi might have given up the conversation there and then. But, Katsuki was was only a teenager, and Hizashi would have given up teaching long ago if angry teenagers frightened him . He wasn’t a villain, despite what even other teachers liked to say. He wasn’t kind to his classmates certainly - and there were days he was an outright bully. It would be a lie to say that he always approved of Katsuki’s behavior - but it wasn’t the worst he’d ever seen.

And it was his job to take care of his students.

“I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately,” Katsuki finally said shortly. “I’ll do better.” There was something in his tone that said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. It was almost like he was telling Hizashi to shut up without having to say it.

“Besides. English is a stupid class,” the blond added a little more hotly , folding his arms across his chest.

“It’s not just this class, Bakugou,” Hizashi said. “ All of your teachers have noticed. Midnight says you do poorly whenever she doesn’t have notes on the board. Aizawa says you’re shouting every answer - and Kirishima says you have to ask him to repeat himself at least twice before you know what he’s saying .” Really , the only one who person in the school who hadn’t noticed Katsuki’s behavior was All Might.

And as much as Hizashi hated to admit it, the newest UA teacher wasn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. He didn’t think All Might was intentionally neglectful or incompetent. It was just that he wasn’t used to teaching teenagers - and he was too busy with his Hero work to learn.

Katsuki’s mouth pressed in a thin line. “What do those losers fucking know about my life,” he snapped, looking away.

“Bakugou. Bakugou,” he said, a little more loudly , and tapping the desk. That caught the boy’s attention, and he looked reluctantly at Hizashi. “How long have you been having difficulty hearing?” He asked. He held up a hand when Katsuki looked like he might damn well explode at the accusation. “You are having a hard time hearing Bakugou. I’m not saying it to hurt you. It’s my job to help you - and I can help you,” he said, and tilted his head to the side, tapping his hearing aid.

It didn’t seem to matter.

“I. Am. Fine,” Katsuki said, enunciating each word as if his life depended on it. “I’m not some…fucking, worthless cripple! I’m going to be the world’s Number One’s Hero!” He shouted the last words, standing up and knocking back his chair. His hands crackled softly with tiny explosions and his chest heaved. For or a moment, Hizashi felt just the faintest bit of pity for the boy, mixed with annoyance.

He looked into Katsuki’s eyes and adjusted his glasses. “Do you think, that I’m a worthless cripple?” he asked, careful to keep his voice soft. He did not take his eyes off of Katsuki, waiting until the fight left the boy, shoulders sagging.

“It’s not like you’re All Might…But you don’t suck,” he muttered, staring at his shoes.

High praise indeed.

Hizashi sighed, wondering how difficult the boy was going to be - until Katsuki said, “After the entrance exam . Couldn’t hear my mom yelling when I was in my room. Not a big deal - figured the old hag was loosing her voice. After the sports festival…whatever, it’s not like it fucking matters.”

Damn. It had been going on longer than Hizashi would have guessed - he’d only noticed the past two weeks or so. He considered for a moment, “It does matter - it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a Hero. But it bothers you. We’ll get you some protective gear for your ears - protect what remains of your hearing. I’ll set up some counseling sessions with Hound Dog for you as well, to help you work through what you’ve lost. And of course, I’ll call your mom so she can -”

No,” Katsuki said harshly . “Don’t tell her.”

“Bakugou, you’ll need some support, and she’ll be able to help get you set up with an appointment with an otolaryngologist . Then we can get you set up with some hearing aids,” Hizashi tried again, but Katsuki slammed a hand on his desk.

“I said no. Don’t. Call. Her,” he growled, eyes alight with passion. “Look…I just …the old hag doesn’t like it when I’m weak, okay? I’ll take care of the fucking appointment. Don’t bother her.” There was something pleading in the boy’s eyes, mixed with anger and defiance. Hizashi hesitated for a moment, questions on the tip of his tongue.

Finally, he sighed, “No. I’ll make an appointment for you - we don’t need to call her,” he said softly.

The tension immediately left Katsuki’s shoulders, and Hizashi felt an uncomfortable twist in his stomach . He reached for a piece of paper, “Look…if you’re not safe at home, you can always” he started, but stopped at Katsuki’s scowl.

“Stop putting your nose in my business. I can take care of myself. Besides,” he added, possibly sensing that Hizashi wouldn’t let it go. “I’m staying over at Kirishima’s. For a while,” he shrugged.

Hizashi sighed, but nodded, accepting that it might have been for the best.

He ached to do more. To offer Katsuki the chance to stay at his home. It was still empty, despite the fact that fact he and Aizawa had been registered as foster parents for almost two weeks . But if Katsuki had someone he already trusted to stay with, then it would be best for Hizashi to indeed keep his nose out of Katsuki’s business . Or at least, not to upset his life any more than strictly necessary.

He’d have to make it a point to check on the boy every few weeks still. Make sure that the arrangement he and Ejirou had was working out. “You can still call. If you need anything. Or text, if you prefer,” he said, pushing the paper towards Katsuki. “I’ll let you know about your appointment tomorrow, alright?” He added.

The only response he got was an angry glare, before Katsuki stood up, and snatched the paper with his phone number . He shoved it in his pocket and turned without out a word.

He didn’t bother calling after Katsuki as he stalked out the room, instead, pulling up his doctor’s number on his cell. There were a hundred different ways to take care of someone - and making sure Katsuki had a decent set of hearing aids was one of them .

Even if it didn’t feel like it was enough.

Thirty minutes later, and Hizashi made Katsuki an appointment. He'd given the receptionist his credit card so she could charge whatever hearing aid Bakugou ended up picking out . He had the money - he worked three jobs, and Sho worked another two. He knew for a fact his husband wouldn’t begrudge Bakugou a small share of it, especially if helped him cope.

When he looked up, his husband was leaning against the door frame, looking tired as humanly possible . “Hey. How long have you been there?” Hizashi asked.

Shouta only shrugged, “A bit,” he rubbed his eyes. “How’d it go with Bakugou?”

Hizashi made a face, “He let me make an appointment for him, and made a few other arrangements. How’s Todoroki?” He asked.

It was Shouta’s turn to make a face. “Still living with his father, though he says Endeavor ’s not home as often as usual. His sister’s moving out soon. To cut down on the commute to her work. It’s just a matter of saving up enough money.”

“I see.”

“She’ll be taking Todoroki with her,” Shouta answered the unasked questions. “Until then, he’ll be staying with Iida, during the weekends.”

Hizashi raised his eyebrows, “And how’d you manage that? Tensei?” He guessed.

Shouta only gave a satisfied smirk in answer. Well, he supposed it didn’t matter. What mattered was that Todorki was safe. Most of the staff had long since grown tired of the boy showing up with bruises on his arms. They were Heroes and it was a sore spot that most of them were powerless to help Todoroki. Hizashi had been more than tempted to give Endeavor a not-so-friendly shoutout on his radio show a number of times .

He’d caught Nemuri and Nezu discussing murder at least twice over the semester.

Shouta had seemed ready to burst with rage the first time Todoroki had come to school with broken bruises all over his face .

He didn’t know for the life of him how Shouta had managed to coax out the full story from Todoroki. And he didn’t know how he’d kept from killing Endeavor the second he’d found out.

He was sure, that whatever revenge Shouta had planned for Endeavor , would be fantastic and career-ending .

If Hizashi had his way, he’d have picked up Todoroki too. He’d have picked up several of the students and taken them home with him given the chance. It was surprisingly common, for the hero course students to have parents that were…lacking, in some areas .

It made him want to punch somebody.

“I don’t want to want to cook tonight. You mind if we get takeout? I’m thinking something we can pick up curry on the way home,” he suggested. He could have asked Shouta to cook, but he wasn’t particularly in the mood to eat burned rice and undercooked chicken .

“Burgers,” Shouta suggested. “And fries.”

Hizashi sighed, “How can you be thirty, eat like a teenager, and still look like that?” It wasn’t fair damn it. He sighed as they passed the UA gates, “Yeah, we can get burgers. You wanna get it from the usual place?” he asked and grunted as he ran straight into a teenager.

The poor boy started to fall over, but Hizashi managed to catch him before he broke his head open on the sidewalk. “Woah there listener! Are you alright? I didn’t see you there,” he said, helping to

He was a thin and bony child, with clothes that at least two sizes too large. He had a head of thick and unruly purple hair, that looked unkempt even by teenager standards. “I’m fine,” the boy mumbled looking away uncomfortably . “I uh…” he hesitated. “I’m fine,” he repeated. He fidgeted, and Hizashi frowned, taking a step back. He really doesn’t look well taken care of, he thought, a pang going through him.

“Were you looking for someone?” Hizashi prodded, glancing at his husband.

And found him looking at the boy suspiciously .

“Yes,” the boy said softly , rubbing the back of his neck. “You’re…Eraserhead? Right?”

He saw his husband’s eyes widen slightly , “You,” he started - but didn’t say anything else. Something in him seemed to flee, tension leaving his body and eyes going pale and glassy.

“Stand in front of me,” the boy said firmly , and Hizashi watched in stunned silence as Shouta did as the child commanded, his moves slow and confused .

“Sho?” He asked, baffled, confused, and everything that was happening. “Sho, what are you doing?”

“He’s fine,” the boy said. He looked even more agitated than Hizashi felt. “Everything is fine. I just need you two, to take me inside of the school, to Recovery Girl,” he said.

Hizashi stared, “Recovery Girl?” He asked, incredulously. The whole situation was a bit hard to digest - they’d just finished their classes, and now they were being held hostage by a villain? Well. Probably not a villain. It was highly unusual for children to be full-blown villains. Usually, they were just troubled kids, from bad home lives. This boy was probably just in some sort of trouble even if he was indulging in some very villainous behavior. Still, he was having a hard time digesting everything that was happening.

“Recovery Girl!” The boy shouted. “I want to see Recovery Girl - now! Before I have to hurt this man.”

His voice was shaking, and Hizashi was torn between anxiety for his husband and concern for the boy.

It probably wasn’t wise to bring him into the school - but he could tell that the child was desperate. And desperate people - even children - were dangerous people. He took a deep breath, “Alright then. Follow me,” he said. It took everything he had within him, to turn his back to the boy. He didn’t want to take his eyes off his husband, but his best chance to figure out what was wrong.

Once they had made it a decent way into the building, he asked, “So. You some kinda villain? Looking to take some Heroes hostage to make a name for yourself?” Many people thought that as the ‘Voice’ Hero, Hizashi just screamed all his problems away. And he did a fair bit of that - but he’d found fairly early in his career, that brute strength didn’t overcome everything.

Information was as important of a tool to him, as it was to any hero. And the more he knew about the boy, the better it would go.

The question seemed to annoy the boy. Hizashi could practically feel the annoyance rolling off of him in waves. “Come on kid. You can tell me - I’m not gonna spoil your plan,” he tried. “ Just trying to figure out how we can get you what you need.”

“I’m not a kid, and I’m not stupid.”

Hizashi bit back a retort. This boy was a child, even if he didn’t know it. And while stupid might have been a strong word, he was holding Hizashi’s husband hostage. Which was absolutely not a smart decision.

It didn’t seem like the child has an interest in continuing the conversation, or giving away more information though . Hizashi sighed and continued to lead the boy across campus - and he prayed that they didn’t run into any other teachers . The last thing he needed was for an already tense situation to delve into a physical fight, where Shouta could be injured .

It was fortunate that the walk to Recovery Girl’s office was short.

He knocked on the door, and waited with bated breath for a moment, trying to decide what he would do if Recovery Girl had already headed for the day . But, he heard the old woman call them in. He opened the door, “Hey. We’ve got an unexpected visitor,” He called. It was the standard code for ‘holy shit, we’ve got a villain on campus,’ though, Hizashi didn’t think they’d ever had to use it before .

He stood off to the side and gestured the boy in. “After you,” he said calmly , hoping the boy wouldn’t notice how tense he was.

The boy glared at him for a moment, but edged past him slowly , before bolting into the room like a frightened rabbit. Shouta started to follow, expression still blank - until Hizashi caught his hand. “Sho,” he hissed, “Snap out of it.” He squeezed his husband’s hand tightly - and watched bloodshot eyes blink slowly , a hint of consciousness returning .

“Damn,” Shouta muttered and Hizashi let out a harsh breath of relief.

“You alright?” he demanded, resisting the urge to fuss over his husband like a mother hen. “Are you in any pain - what did he do to you?” He demanded.

“I know that kid,” Shouta glowered, turning his attention to the boy.


“He was the kid I caught stealing a few weeks ago.”

Hitoshi ignored it when he felt his connection to the Eraserhero snap, instead, moving towards the tiny little woman sitting in a chair . She had a look of concern on her face - but Hitoshi figured that was probably normal.

“Well hello there sonny,” she said, looking him up and down. “What are you here for?”

Instantly , Hitoshi felt his throat dry up, unable to speak.

Honestly , he thought it would have been harder to get here - and now that he was in front of the old woman, he felt stupid. Well, that wasn’t to say it had been easy. He hadn’t exactly planned on using his Quirk on a Pro Hero, or to be discovered by Present Mic of all people. He wasn’t going to be able to drag Recovery Girl back to the hideout.

He fidgeted for a moment, opening his mouth, closing it, and then, choosing to crouch down so he was staring at eye level with the lady . He wasn’t exactly sure how that helped, but it did something to help with the awkwardness.

“Can you really heal anything?” He asked, doing his best to tamp down on the hope.

“Is this about your scars?” She asked peering down at him with her withered old face. “Hmmmn…” She studied him for a moment, then shook her head. “Those are pretty deep but hardly worth healing. Though, I suppose if you’re that desperate…”

Hitoshi frowned -it had been some weeks since he’d even thought about those scars. Izuku never stared at them - and their little safe house wasn’t exactly rife with mirrors. “I’m not that shallow,” he rejected immediately. And he didn’t want the scars fixed - not when it came down to it. Because otherwise, he had no proof of what had happened to him.

“Oh? Then why are you here?” She asked.

“It’s your friend, isn’t it?” Hitoshi jumped, hearing Eraserhead’s voice, and swung around to glare at the man. “Your little friend, with the green hair. He’s not here with you today” he pointed out.

Hitoshi tensed, expecting the man to be angry he’d used his Quirk - but he wasn’t attacking him. Though, he was aware of the fact that both he, and Present Mic were blocking the door. Finally, he gave a short nod. “He’s very sick,” he said, cautiously . He wasn’t sure how much he wanted them to know.

“So you decided to break into one of the most well-guarded schools instead of…going to see a doctor?” Eraserhead asked, and Hitoshi immediately felt about four inches tall. Like he was being scolded by a parent.

“I mean. It wasn’t that hard,” he grumbled, trying to pick up his dignity. He turned his attention back to Recovery Girl. “So. Can you? Can you really heal anything?” he asked, and he couldn’t help but think of Izuku, still back at the safe house. He worried that it might have already might have been too late.

Recovery Girl observed him for a moment. “No,” she said - and the words were an arrow straight to his heart. “But,” she added, reading into his stricken expression, “I can heal most things.” She hopped off her chair, and landed on the floor with surprising grace, considering she looked about as old as time itself . “Well. Come on then boy. Take me to your friend, and I’ll see if I can help him.”

“But!” The Present Mic shouted. Hitoshi grimaced, his hands going over his ears.

“Hizashi,” Eraserhead said, holding up his hand to the other hero. “It’s alright. Let’s go with him.” He glanced at Recovery Girl. “I’ll drive.”


Chapter Text

To say that the drive was quiet would have been a massive understatement. Shouta had stuck the boy in the backseat, next to Hizashi, and he’d helped Chiyo into the front seat. He could see how tense that Hizashi was - and that he didn’t want Shouta to drive. But Hizashi was at least kind enough to keep his thoughts to himself, for which Shouta was grateful.

Driving was something, that helped him feel a little more in control. He wasn’t angry at the boy - but he wasn’t exactly happy either. He also wanted to know more about the boy’s living situation - and his Quirk. And about another thousand questions that came to mind. 

But he could be patient and he didn’t think the boy would be willing to answer questions until his friend was safe. He hadn’t even given them a name. Probably nothing too serious, he told himself. It was probably just a small childhood ailment. Mono, or perhaps appendicitis. Something that had laid the boy up, but could be taken care of fairly easily. 

…Though, there were surely easier ways, to take care of a minor ailment. Something less stupid than attacking a Pro Hero, at one of the most prestigious training academies for heroes in the country.  Teenagers always have been stupid, he thought dryly, glancing back at the boy through his rear-view window.

 He was looking out the window, and his fingers anxiously traced the scars around his mouth. Everything about the boy’s posture screamed of discomfort- from the way he was huddled against the car door, as far away from Hizashi as he could get. His shoulders were hunched as if he expected to be attacked at any moment. Disturbingly, he looked thinner than the last time that Shouta had seen him. 
His hands tightened roughly on the steering wheel. Not stupid. Desperate, he decided, forcing his attention back to the road.

 “Stop here,” The boy said abruptly.

 Immediately, Shouta slowed down, pulling off to the side of the road. He frowned, narrowing his eyes as he scanned the street. Most of the stores seemed to be empty or boarded up - and several completely cleared lots of lands. The only thing that appeared to be open was a small newsstand at the end of the street. 

He opened his mouth to point out that there wasn’t anything there - but stopped himself after a moment. 

“We live there!” The boy said, pointing to one of the abandoned buildings.

 Of course. It had to be an abandoned building. It’s like something out of a bad novel, Shouta thought dryly, throwing the car into park. 

He was already scamping out of the car before Shouta even had a chance to react. “Hey, slow down,” he called out, stepping out of the car, and following after as moved to the abandoned building. “Hizashi, help Chiyo, will you?” He called as he followed Hitoshi. Litter was everywhere on the ground, though, it was clear someone had cleared a path, down to a rickety door. The poor thing looked like it was barely attached to the building, hanging on through sheer force of will. But despite its fragile appearance, the boy ripped open the door and dashed in.

Reluctantly, Shouta followed.

The first thing that hit him, was the smell - the coppery scent of blood that seemed to linger in his mouth. It was mixed with the nauseating smell of infection and the smell unwashed teenage boy. Immediately Shouta wanted to cover his mouth, but he forced himself to refrain, taking in more of the room. 

He supposed, all things considered, the boys had managed something that resembled a house. In the same way that a Chihuahua looked like a wolf. They’d put in a lot of effort - there were some lights strung up throughout the place, and what looked to be the remains of several bags of chips and sweets tucked into a pile. There was even a couple of ratty-looking books tucked away into the corner.

Though, Shouta also didn’t fail to notice a mouse scamping across the floor. 

“Izuku!” The boy was kneeling over a green-haired youth, nudging him gently. The green-haired boy was on the only bit of furniture in the whole damn shack - a couch that seemed to be caving in on itself.

 “Izuku. Wake up. I brought help,” his voice was a bit higher than it had been before, and he shook his companion with a little more urgency when he didn’t get an immediate answer.

Toshi?” Izuku murmured, his eyes not opening. He took a strained-sounding breath and didn’t say anything else.

“Shush. I’m here. I brought some help,” the boy repeated, running his fingers gently through Izuku’s hair. 

The boy made a face but didn’t argue. “Hitoshi,” he muttered. “I don’t feel good.” He groaned, reaching over and taking his friend’s hand. It was an awkward-looking gesture like he wasn’t used to using that particular arm. Shouta couldn’t help but notice the somewhat protective position Izuku held in his right arm.  What the hell happened here

“I know, that’s why I brought help,” Hitoshi muttered softly. “Go ahead and rest, we’ll get you taken care of. Alright?” The other boy gave a soft grunt, face relaxing just a bit.
Hitoshi looked up cautiously at Shouta. “You are going to help him, right?” He asked a challenge in his tone, his hand still clutching at Izuku’s hand. 

For the first time, Shouta found himself wondering if ‘friend’ was the right description for the boy’s relationship.  He examined them both, before nodding. “Of course,” he said simply. 

Slowly, Shouta approached, reaching down and touching Izuku’s forehead. Hot, he thought. Breathing raggedly. When he reached over to check the boy’s obviously hurt arm, he whimpered and flinched away. Shouta let it go for the moment - he could check that last. “Did someone attack him?” He asked softly, over and placing two fingers against Izuku’s throat, feeling for a pulse. Not great. This was a very, very sick child. He could hear Hizashi and Chiyo entering behind him, and moved so they would be able to examine Izuku themselves. “Tell me exactly what happened.” 

Hitoshi hesitated, “…Somebody shot him,” he finally admitted - and Shouta’s head immediately snapped up. “I kept the wound clean,” He added defensively. “As clean as I could.” Shouta was sure that he had - but he doubted it had been very clean, considering the absolutely appalling state of their ‘home.’

“Why didn’t you take him to the hospital,” Shouta asked harshly, letting Chiyo examine him. She made a soft tutting sound.“Or report the shooting?”

The only answer he got was a tight-lipped frown. They glared at each other for several moments. 

So the boy had been desperate and stupid then. 


“We couldn’t go,” Hitoshi finally said, his expression set, and defiant. 

“We’ll need to call an ambulance,” Chiyo finally said, and Shouta snapped his head to look at her. Her already wrinkled face was even more creased with worry as she pressed her hand against Izuku’s forehead.

He’d drifted off back to sleep, face flushed and covered in sweat. He was still clutching at Hitoshi’s hand for dear life. “This infection is too far gone. If I try and heal him right now, he’ll very likely just drop dead.” Shouta felt his stomach twist just a bit at that, and he nodded, gesturing for Hizashi to call. 

“No,” Hitoshi blurted out, looking faintly panicked - and it was a look that Shouta remembered from their first meeting. His grip tightened on Izuku, and the look he gave the adults was positively frightening. He glared at Chiyo, “You’re supposed to be able to heal anything,” he said. “We aren’t going to a hospital!” He said angrily. 

Chiyo’s expression was surprisingly calm, “I can heal almost anything. But it takes energy from the person I’m healing. Your friend is not well - he doesn’t have enough strength for me to heal him. But we can get him help, there is a good chance he’ll make it.” 

Hitoshi scowled, “No,” he repeated angrily. “He doesn’t want to go back home! I won’t let you take him back,” He said, his hand tightening roughly on Izuku’s hand.  

All three adults exchanged a glance. 

“Sonny…He’s septic,” Chiyo said softly. “He will die if we don’t take him to a hospital. He absolutely won’t get better, you understand that right?” She asked. She was using what Shouta thought of her doctor’s voice. She was a doctor. Do you think it would be better, if  he died, instead of going back to his home?” She asked.

Shouta already knew the answer.  Yes... No one choose to live like this unless there was no better alternative. Shouta ought to know - he’d spent most of his first year alternating between sleeping at school, and Hizashi’s house. 

He remembered that look of panic in Hitoshi’s eyes when he’d caught him stealing. But there was a  deeper panic in the boy’s eyes then, that told Shouta he was afraid of losing his friend. “…You don’t understand,” he started, and then glanced down at Izuku when he gave a soft groan. He reached down and gently patted Izuku’s hair. 

“Toshi,” he muttered. The single word seemed like a punch to Hitoshi’s face, and he bit his lip.

“…You can’t take him back to his home,” Hitoshi whispered. “You can’t.”

Shouta stared at him, a mixture of pity and frustration mingling in the pit of his stomach. He wanted to say something - something that would make Hitoshi realize that he was being foolish. That they could work out what was best for Izuku once he was being treated. That would have been the rational answer. 

Hizashi was the one who pushed past him much to his surprise - and to Hitoshi’s as well. The boy’s eyes widened, but he didn’t step back, instead, squaring up his shoulders, and letting go of Izuku’s, as if he expected he might have to fight Hizashi. When Hizashi knelt bent down, so he was eye level with Hitoshi, his expression only grew more guarded, and he flinched when Hizashi gently tousled his hair. “I’ll stay with the little listener the whole time. I won’t let him go anywhere that isn’t safe.” 

The boy looked thoroughly bemused at Hizashi’s touch and ducked away, so he was still in front of Izuku. He glanced at each adult for a moment, and then back at Izuku.

All at once, his shoulders slumped. “…You won’t send him back to his home?”

“Nowhere that isn’t safe,” Hizashi promised.

Hitoshi breathed out sharply, the last of his defiance seeming to drain out of him. “Okay. Okay. Just…let me get his things” 

“Drink this,” Shouta said, shoving a cup of something hot and steaming at Hitoshi. 

Hitoshi gave a cautious sniff of the drink and then took a quiet sip. Hot chocolate. It was a bit too sweet and had a chemical sort of aftertaste. Ordinarily, he would have loved the hot drink, and not just to ward off the cold of their little home. It was the sort of drink that would have had Izuku laughing himself sick with delight as they talked, or drew. 

He couldn’t enjoy it at all.

It hadn’t taken very long to gather up all of their belongings. Just a couple of odds and ends they kept to make their home feel more like…well, home. For Hitoshi, it had been a small notebook Izuku had picked up for him, and a nice water bottle he’d stolen from a local grocery store. Izuku had tried to bring him a few more items, but Hitoshi had never been very interested in picking up a hobby. At least not one that required expensive gear that foster parents or other foster children were likely to steal.

But Izuku had gathered a small cache of belongings over the years - and Hitoshi had not been able to bring himself to abandon all of Izuku’s detailed notes and drawings. It had been a bit difficult to shove all of the notebooks and loose-leaf paper into a single backpack, but he’d managed well enough. 

He kept it clutched to his chest, mouth pressed in a tight line as he stared at the hot chocolate. 

He scowled when Shouta sat down next to him. The old man hadn’t let him out of his sight since they’d gone to the hospital - like he was afraid that Hitoshi would run away. 

The fear wasn’t entirely unfounded. If it had been just Hitoshi, he would have run away - he didn’t need any help. If it hadn’t been his fault that Izuku had gotten hurt…if it hadn’t been Izuku.

He took a much larger gulp of his chocolate than he meant to and choked as he burned his throat. 

“Careful kid,” Shouta said - and then handed him a granola bar. Hitoshi took it cautiously. “I’m not really hungry,” he muttered. “When can I see Izuku?” He demanded instead. It had been hours since they’d arrived at the hospital. He wasn’t stupid - medicine needed time to work. He just didn’t think that he shouldn’t be allowed to see Izuku while they were treating him. 

Shouta sighed, glancing at his wristwatch. “It’s only been a couple of hours. Hizashi will call us as soon as we can go check on him. Until then, eat. You look hungry. I’ll get us a real meal once we’ve had an update.”

Hitoshi glared at him and deliberately pressed the granola into his pocket. 

“Hmmn. Stubborn,” the man commented. “…So. You gonna tell me about why someone shot your friend?” 

“No,” Hitoshi scowled. 

“Uh-huh. And the scars?” He asked. 

“Why do you even care?” Hitoshi snapped. He folded his arms angrily across his chest and refused to look at the man. “It’s not like it’s your problem - or like you can do anything about it. You got us to the hospital - so it’s only a matter of time before someone comes and picks me up. Why don’t you go home,” he demanded. 

Shouta raised a single eyebrow at him but didn’t say anything. It somehow was a thousand times worse than if he had said anything. It wasn’t until Hitoshi started to squirm in his seat, that he bothered to say anything. “Does it have to be my problem, to care about it?” He asked softly.

Hitoshi glanced at the man, studying his expression. He could count on one hand, the number of people who’d been willing to help him, when it hadn’t been to their benefit. People only wanted something if they got something in return. Foster parents who only took him in because they got a check for raising him. Heroes who only worked for fame and glory.

 Even his parents had only wanted around because they’d wanted a perfect child to go fit together with their perfect family.

People didn’t always get what they wanted.

 “I care because I’m a hero. And it’s my job to make sure that people aren’t hurt.”

“Well you’re doing a fantastic job,” Hitoshi muttered sarcastically.

Shouta sighed again, “How did your friend get shot,” he repeated, more firmly this time. 

Hitoshi bit his bottom lip for several moments. It really didn’t want to get Izuku in trouble - because no matter how often Izuku said he was just a neighborhood helper, he was a vigilante. And even if the law technically required a person to be using quirk, to be considered a vigilante, he had no doubt the law would figure out a way to punish him.
At the same time, he didn’t exactly see this man giving up. 

“We were…exploring,” Hitoshi finally said. “We do that a lot. And…some guys didn’t like that we’d found some of their stuff. They overreacted,” he said stiffly. 
Shouta eyed him for another moment and then sighed. “Not a very good liar are you…well, I guess it doesn’t matter,” he said. 

Hitoshi scowled at him and placed his hot chocolate on the table in front of him. He fiddled with the straps of the backpack and tried to ignore his stomach as it gave a great growl.

 “So. Izuku likes to draw?”

 Hitoshi started, clutching the bag more firmly to his chest. “How did you…?” He asked.

Shouta shrugged, “I saw some of the drawings while you packing them up. He’s pretty good.” He acknowledged. Immediately, Hitoshi felt a burst of pride in his chest for Izuku. It didn't matter to him if he hadn't been the one to draw it. it was just that someone else saw the amount of effort Izuku put into his work. “The attention to detail in his drawings is impressive. If I could teach my students to pay attention like that... Would probably save their lives someday." He murmured thoughtfully, and then glanced at Hitoshi out of the corner of his eye.  "Though, they could also probably stand to learn to fight dirty like him,” he added dryly. “A lot of them are still stuck up on fighting ‘the right way.’

“…he felt really bad about that,” Hitoshi said defensively. 

“Hmmn. It wasn’t a criticism,” Shouta glanced at his phone, and grunted.  “Looks like your friend’s awake and asking for you.” 

Izuku eyes felt like they were sanded shut. He groaned, reaching a hand up to rub at his face - and felt a tugging at his arm. He frowned, managing to crack open one of his eyes - and found an IV stuck in his arm. How did that get there, he thought foggily, reaching over instinctively to pull it out. 

“Woah there listener - leave that be,” A hand seized his wrist, and Izuku looked over curiously, to see a man with long blond hair sitting next to him. “The doctors put that in you for a reason.” 

“Oh…” He said, still feeling confused. He let his eyes drift around the room - and quickly came to the conclusion that he was not at home. He rubbed his eyes harder, feeling agitated. His head felt heavy and he desperately wanted to close his eyes and rest a bit more. All his thoughts were muddled and he hated it. “…Who are you?” he asked. The man looked vaguely familiar but he couldn’t quite place him. 
A thought struck him, and he immediately started to push himself up, even though every muscle in his body protested. “Where’s Toshi,” he demanded. His chest felt tight, and he knew he was only a few moments away from having a complete meltdown. Everything felt wrong and if they weren’t at home…then he had to be in the hospital. 

He started to try and drag himself out of the hospital bed, but quickly found himself tangled in what seemed like a jungle of tubes and wires. He grimaced and pulled at several of them, with clumsy fingers in an attempt to free himself. He only seemed to get himself more tangled though, which left him grinding his teeth. 

Did they take him away? Hitoshi had said that he’d probably die if he ended up back in foster care, and the thought made Izuku physically ill. 

“Woah, Woah, relax,” the man said, “Lay back down Listener, you’re not in any shape to be jumping up like that, you feel me,” he reached a hand over to Izuku’s shoulder - but he jerked back to quickly. The man seemed to take the hint, “My name is Yamada Hizashi. Your friend is fine - he’s with my husband in the waiting room. 

Izuku struggled with some of the tubing around his face, taking note of the information. The waiting room, that probably wouldn’t be too hard to find. If he could just get to Hitoshi, they could go back home and -

He felt gentle hands on his shoulders. He looked up sharply, his whole body going tense. “Hey. You gotta keep this on, at least a little longer, alright?” The man said, adjusting stuff on his face. It finally dawned on Izuku it was probably oxygen.  “I bring your friend over in just a bit, okay? I just wanna ask you some questions first. I promise.” 

Izuku stared at him suspiciously - but the longer he sat up, the worse he felt. Slowly, he let himself lean back down - and let out a sigh of relief. He watched Hizashi cautiously, as the man straightened on his blankets. It was a nice gesture - and reminded Izuku vaguely of how his mother would take care of him when he wasn’t well. He’d done the same for her later when the cancer had begun to eat her from the inside.

It hadn’t been like his dad would take care of her. 

He continued to stare at the man, feeling his stomach twist. He didn’t like being around adults he didn’t know - and he honestly didn’t like most adults he did know. He didn’t have any problems helping people on the streets, no matter their age but…well, in his experience, adults didn’t like him. Especially when they found out he was quirkless. 

“So, your friend said your name is Izuku? Is that right?” Izuku shrugged and gave a nod. “Just Izuku?” He prodded. “No last name?” 
Izuku said nothing.

It had been nearly two years since he’d spoken his family name out loud. Not since he’d run away - and though Izuku didn’t talk about it much, he had run away. Because if he had stayed in his father’s house, without his mother to act as a buffer, he was sure his father would have killed him. Not intentionally. His father hated him, certainly, but he wasn’t really a criminal or a villain. 

He’d beaten the shit out of both Izuku and his mother more times than he could count, but he was by and large, not a bad man. Izuku just…rubbed him the wrong way. He wasn’t the son his father had wanted, and indeed, he’d been everything his father had hated. If Izuku had been born just a little bit different…behaved a little differently. 
Well. That didn’t matter. Izuku was the way he was, and his father hated him for it.

Really, it had been better for everyone that Izuku had left when he did. That way his father could go back to work, and Izuku could make a difference in what little way he could. 

If Izuku gave Hizashi his last name, he would almost assuredly be sent back home. No more making a difference - and the only thing he’d have to show for it, was an angry parent. 
He shifted tactics. 

“Are you gonna send Hitoshi back to foster care? You shouldn’t - they’re really mean to him, and they don’t treat him like they should.” Izuku said. “It’s not fair to send him back just because I got hurt.” 
Hizashi raised an eyebrow. “I see…and, did you run away because your foster family didn’t treat you well either?” He asked gently. 

Izuku made an agitated sound shaking his head. He didn’t want to talk about himself, and it was annoying that the man kept trying to guess. “I’m not important. I want to talk about Hitoshi,” he said. “I want to know what you’re going to do with him. He doesn’t want to go back to foster care - he’s scared of having to go back. So, you’re not going to take him back are you?” He demanded. 

The man stared at him for a moment, and his eyes were filled with pity. Immediately, Izuku felt his stomach drop. That was the look of a man, who knew what he was about to say would be disappointing. “We can’t just send him back to where you too were living before,” Hizashi said softly. “It’s not safe there. You guys don’t have any running water, and it’s cold outside, right? And plus, someone shot you.”

Izuku leaned back more firmly in his bed, breathing in uneasily. He’s going to hate me, he thought, throat dry. He’s going to hate me because he’s going to have to go back to foster care, and they’re going to give him away again. And it’s all my fault because I got sick. He felt his breath pick up just a little bit at that, and his chest felt tight. “I only got hurt because I was careless,” he said hoarsely. “You can’t punish Toshi for that,” he felt a couple of tears drip down his cheek.

“Hey - hey, it’s okay. We’re not going to send you anywhere you don’t feel safe,” Hizashi said urgently. “I can tell you’re feeling lots of emotions right now, but I promise, we aren’t going to send either of you someplace that isn’t safe, okay?” 

“I wanna see Toshi,” Izuku gasped, his chest feeling tighter. He dug his hand into the sheets, and rocked slightly, trying desperately to alleviate some of the crushing dread that had settled around him. 
Because yet again. Everything was his fault. Just like it always seemed to be. 

Chapter Text

Hitoshi burst into the room. “Izuku!” He said, his voice a little louder than he meant it to be. It was a hospital, and he really ought to have kept his voice down - but the relief he felt at seeing Izuku was too great. Though he wasn’t a big fan of the fact Izuku was nearly hyperventilating with panic. He cast a glare at Hizashi, as he moved towards Izuku, putting himself between the two. He wrapped his arms around the other boy. “What’d you do to him?” He demanded as Izuku hiccuped. 

“Nothing,” Hizashi assured him. “He was just worried about you.” 

Hitoshi wasn’t entirely sure he believed the other man, but turned his attention to Izuku, rubbing his back gently. “You don’t need to worry about me,” he said. Izuku didn’t answer him but reached a hand to clutch at his shirt. The movement looked like it hurt, but Hitoshi didn’t stop him. He just kept rubbing Izuku’s back, refusing to look at either Hizashi or Shouta. 

“We’ll give you two a minute,” Hizashi said after a moment, standing up. “Well be just outside if you guys need anything alright?” He called. Hitoshi watched them go suspiciously and waited until the door shut.  

They were both still clearly visible through the window though. Hitoshi spared a moment to cast them a withering look. It didn’t seem to bother either man. He sighed and instead turned his attention back to Izuku. His breathing was still a little rough, but he seemed to be a little calmer. Well. Sorta - he didn’t look like he was going to pass out at least.  “What’s the matter? Are you in pain?” he demanded.

“No,” Izuku shook his head vigorously.

Somehow, Hitoshi didn’t think that was true, but he didn’t accuse Izuku of lying. Instead, he ran his fingers through Izuku’s hair. 

“They’re gonna take you back to foster care,” Izuku finally gasped. “And it’s my fault. I’m sorry,” He let out another sob. 

. “What are you talking about?” Hitoshi said softly.  “It’s not your fault, dumb-ass.” He continued to comb his fingers through Izuku’s hair. He probably should have guessed, that Izuku would immediately assume that it was his fault. Izuku would have taken the blame for damn near anything. “I’ll be fine,” he added, since Izuku didn’t seem like he was going to give the argument up without a fight. “Everything is going to be fine.” He repeated. 

He said it more to convince himself the second time.

“But you don’t want to go back.” 

Hitoshi hesitated for a moment. “No,” he agreed. “But neither do you,” he pointed out.

 Immediately, Izuku’s face crumpled, and he bit his lip. His eyes went faintly glassy and distant like he was thinking. “…I don’t want to go back,” he agreed. His breathing had eased a little in the conversation. But his face was still wet with tears.

Hitoshi watched him for a moment and reached down to Izuku’s hand. He wanted to apologize. To say something comforting. But he’d never been good at comforting people. Especially not when he was going to lose Izuku. “…Will you be…safe when they send you away ?” he asked and felt his throat close. 

The answer was a long time coming. “No,” Izuku finally said. “I don’t know if my dad’s still in the country though. Maybe…they’ll just send me to foster care like you? Maybe, we could go together. That wouldn’t be so bad. And we could still be family, right?” He asked, a slightly hysterical tone to his voice.

Hitoshi thought about it for a moment, trying to imagine it. But the only thing he could think was how quickly and cruelly foster care would crush the life out of Izuku. If the foster parents didn’t beat the shit out of Izuku, then the other kids would. Maybe they’d send him to a better home, Hitoshi thought dully. It wouldn’t be the same how as his - no respectable foster parents wanted a child with a Quirk like his.

But Izuku was harmless enough. Maybe they’d take him in. He just…wouldn’t be with Hitoshi.

This can’t be happening, Hitoshi thought. Less than a week ago, he and Izuku had been fine.

And now…they were going to be torn apart. And nothing Hitoshi did or said could stop it.

“You should get some rest,” Hitoshi said. “You look like shit, you know,” he added with a smirk. 

Izuku made a face. “I don’t look that bad,” he muttered, but the bags around his eyes told a very different story. “…are you gonna go while I’m asleep?” he asked softly. “I woke up…while you were gone. And I didn’t like it,” he said, sounding agitated. 

“I’ll stay here,” Hitoshi promised. “If I have to go, I’ll wake you up.” He squeezed Izuku’s hand.

“Alright,” Izuku muttered. “…try and get some sleep yourself, okay?” He gave Hitoshi a faint grin. “You don’t look like you’ve slept in a week.” That was closer to the truth than Hitoshi would have liked to admit. He’d had a hard time sleeping while Izuku had been battling the infection. And though Shouta had suggested he nap, Hitoshi had resisted the urge, determined to be awake and aware in case Izuku needed him.

He still wasn’t sure he wanted to sleep. Just in case they tried to take Izuku away from him.

“Just for a little bit,” Izuku repeated. “Please? For me?” 

Hitoshi glanced at Izuku and then gave a faint smile. “For you.” 

“So. Did your little street gremlin tell you anything about himself?” Hizashi asked. 

Shouta clenched his hand around his coffee cup, watching the two boys through the room’s window. Izuku had finally calmed down and laid back down. He hadn’t quite fallen asleep but he was holding Hitoshi’s hand and didn’t look as if he were terribly far off. Indeed, Hitoshi didn’t look as if he were particular far from sleep himself. His chin kept dropping down to his chest, only to jerk back awake. “Not much. Said they were ‘exploring.’ He says they’re fine on their own. Didn’t want to talk about much of anything.” 

“Izuku wasn’t much better. He’s worried about Hitoshi going back into foster care. You think that’s where he got those scars?” 

Shouta’s eyes flickered back to the boys. “Maybe. He wouldn’t say.” 

“They must have been through something terrible, to make them want to go back to their…ah…home,” Hizashi hedged.  Shouta took another sip of his coffee. The condemned shack was probably a better descriptor of the boy’s living space. But he supposed they couldn’t just go out and say that. Particularly not with the level of distrust the boys were displaying. 

“That kid’s got some quirk, huh?” Hizashi tried. “To manipulate you like that.” 

“Hmmn. Don’t remind me,” Shouta scowled. That was a damn dangerous quirk when used in the wrong way. He wasn’t surprised the boy didn’t want to go back into foster care. 

It was something of a  paradox. Everyone wanted a powerful Quirk - and they wanted their children to powerful quirk. Everyone wanted to be a Hero. But those with powerful Quirk’s were often not seen as Heroes. A child with a powerful quirk tended to make people feel small. So children with powerful and scary quirks were often shunted off to the side. They were called villains and monsters. And sometimes, that's what they turned out to be, if only because society told them that was all they could be. 

But mostly, they turned out to be damaged children. And Shouta hated that more than anything. It was easy to see, how Hitoshi’s quirk could make a person feel small. If he’d just gotten one foster parent who had a short temper, or someone who hadn’t understood that Quirk’s could be difficult to control. 

Hitoshi was probably lucky he was still alive. 

He sipped at his coffee again, his mood turning blacker than his drink. 

“The system will probably end up splitting them up,” Hizashi said. Shouta glanced at his husband. He looked positively heartbroken as he looked at the boys. It was almost like he was looking at a box of abandoned kittens. 

Shouta said nothing.

“…Though…we could probably take them in. Since we have our license now. And you said you had a history with them.” 

“He kicked me in the balls,” Shouta pointed out. “I don’t know if you can call that ‘history.’ 

Hizashi finally tore his eyes away from the boys, to study him for a moment - and a smile spread across his face. “You already called our social worker, didn’t you?” He demanded.  When Shouta didn’t answer immediately, Hizashi wrapped him in a hug, nearly knocking the coffee out of his hand. But Hizashi ignored Shouta’s complaints. “You always have liked to pretend to be a hard-ass.” He teased. 

“…It was the logical solution,” Shouta muttered gruffly. “We’re just emergency placements for now. Until we can get a little more information. We have the spare rooms, and they know us.” And we know we won’t mistreat them.  He looked away uncomfortably. “…I should have told you when I made the call. I didn’t think you’d mind though.” 

It was important to communicate and he really didn’t like making big decisions without talking it through with Hizashi first. But they had both agreed they had wanted to foster - and he hadn’t liked how the Hitoshi had said, ‘it’s not like it’s your problem.’ Like nobody had ever cared about him before. 

“Hmmn. I think we can both agree it was the right thing to do. I can call Nedzu and let him know we’ll be out for a couple of days. Getting things set up?” Hizashi practically buzzed. “They’ll both need clothes - and just. Things in general, that teenage boys need. Oh, we’ll need to figure out what they like to eat too, so we can make them a welcome dinner!” 

“We haven’t asked them if they are willing to stay with us yet,” Shouta reminded him. 

That brought Hizashi up short, as he gave a slow blink. “Oh. That’s right,” he said, and his bafflement made Shouta smirk. “Do you think they’ll stay with us?” He asked. 

Shouta hesitated. Through the window, he could see the boys Hitoshi had fallen asleep, his head tipped back and his mouth agape. Izuku too had fallen prey to his exhaustion, which didn’t surprise Shouta. He’d been surprised the boy had managed to stay awake as long as he had, between his injuries and the anxiety attack. “Only one way to find out.” He said softly. “But I hope they do.” 

He sighed and ran a finger through his hair. “I’ll go see if we can get a cot for Hitoshi to sleep on for the night. Whatever they decide, I don’t think he’ll leave Izuku by himself. Watch them in case they wake up, will you?” 

“Of course babe. Bring me back a coffee?”

Shouta raised his hand in acknowledgment and headed down the hall. 

Izuku watched the TV with disinterest, as Hitoshi continued to sleep. He’d fallen asleep for he didn’t know how long, and someone had brought Hitoshi cot, and maneuvered him onto it. Izuku wasn’t sure how they’d managed to move Hitoshi without waking him up. Normally, Hitoshi slept like he was under attack. When he heard Hitoshi give a slight moan, he reached over and gently took Hitoshi’s hand. 

His broken arm still ached abominably, but he felt better, knowing Hitoshi was there, and that he could just look over and see him.

The adults had come by several times since Izuku had woken up. He’d feigned sleep each time. He was embarrassed that he’d cried in front of Hizashi. And Hitoshi…and well. Everyone in general. 

And he was terrified that Eraserhead would remember him. 

It was really better that he pretended to be asleep until the Pro-hero left. Surely he couldn’t stay around forever. Could he? That thought made Izuku bite his lip hard enough that he tasted blood.

He still felt bad. He’d have done it again, but he felt bad, and his chest felt even tighter the longer he thought about it. 

The sound of the door opening made Izuku, flinch, and he squeezed his eyes shut, holding his breath. He wasn’t really in the mood to talk to anyone who wasn’t Hitoshi.

“You don’t have to pretend to be asleep. I know you’re awake.” Eraserhead’s voice was surprisingly soft - though Izuku thought that might have been to avoid waking up Hitoshi. 

As always, the underground Pro hero looked exhausted, and a little frightening. Izuku didn’t think that it was a bad quality to have for a hero. Sometimes heroes needed to look a little scary. Enough that they scared villains at least. It was a balancing act, between being scary, and still not scaring civilians Izuku guessed. He figured that applied even to underground heroes. 

He couldn’t help but flinch a little as the man studied him, averting his eyes. “How’s your arm kid?” 

Izuku made a noncommittal sound in the back of his throat. It was about all he could manage - his voice had always seemed to dry up around adults. Besides, it had never seemed like anybody really cared about what he had to say. Just as long as it was an answer. “If you’re in pain, we can call the nurse. Probably about time for some painkillers anyway.” 

“I don’t like them,” Izuku mumbled. He was tired of sleeping, and he wanted to be alert, even if it felt like he’d been hit by a semi-truck. The painkillers left him feeling uncomfortably lightheaded and fuzzy. He didn’t like his thoughts muddled. 

“Alright,” the man said. “You’ll say something if you change your mind?” 

Izuku nodded, though he didn’t plan on changing his mind. Or saying anything if he did. “Good,” the man said. 

The silence that followed was uncomfortable, and Izuku found himself squirming a little at the tenseness of the situation. “Your friend has a really amazing Quirk,” Shouta finally said. “He used it to help you, you know.” 

“…He did?” Izuku asked, reluctantly turning his attention back to Shouta. He didn’t want to talk really but curiosity - and anxiety - got the better of him. He grimaced, “…is he in trouble?” he asked tentatively. “Because…he didn’t have to do that. He was just trying to help.” 

“Hmmn, he’s in a little trouble. Probably some mandatory Quirk counseling. We don’t particularly feel like pressing charges. It won’t be more than a slap on the wrist.” He yawned, and Izuku felt himself relax just a little. There was something reassuring about the honesty in Eraserhead’s voice. 

“How about you. What’s your Quirk like?” Shouta asked.

And just like that, any sense of piece Izuku had evaporated. He chewed the inside of his cheek, trying to think of a reason not to answer. He briefly considered trying to feign sleep again, before deciding it probably wouldn’t work. 

Eraserhead had always been one of his favorite heroes. Even as a little boy, before he’d been diagnosed as Quirkless, he’d adored Eraserhead. There wasn’t a lot of information on him. He rarely ever made an appearance in media - but there had been a handful of times, Izuku had been privileged enough to see him. A late news report, where the hero had told a reporter to ‘fuck off.’ He’d been startled because most heroes didn’t use that sort of language on TV - even late-night shows.

He’d been obsessed, especially after he’d found out he was Quirkless. After all, Eraserhead’s Quirk wasn’t physical. It evened the playing field in a way that Izuku had always longed for - made all men equal in a way. For that reason and that reason alone, Izuku had read and reread every new news story he could manage to get his hand on. He’d re-watched every frame of footage he could find that Eraserhead appeared on.

And he’d kneed his hero in the groin. 

He didn’t answer the question for a moment, fidgeting. Sometimes if he was quiet for long enough, people would ask a different question. But Eraserhead seemed to meet his silence without any discomfort. “…Don’t have one.” He muttered finally, tensing.

“Hmmn. That why your parents threw you out?” Eraserhead asked.

“Hmmn?” Izuku asked. “No. I mean…my dad didn’t like it,” he said. Which was understating it a bit. Or a lot. “But…he didn’t throw me out. And that’s not why I left either,” he insisted. “No, really.” 

Shouta looked him up and down, before finally nodding his acceptance. “Alright. Why’d you run away then?” he asked. When Izuku started to fidget he held up a hand in a ‘it’s fine, it’s fine,’ sort of gesture. “Not gonna send you back. You and Hitoshi have both made it exceptionally clear you won’t be safe going back to your families.” 

Truthfully, Izuku wasn’t entirely convinced. Eraserhead seemed to realize that and grunted after a moment. “It’s alright. You don’t have to answer,” and turned his attention to the TV. 

Several minutes passed, and he continued to hold his silence. And it was that silence more than anything - the acceptance that Izuku might not want to answer -  that promoted Izuku to speak. 

 “…I’m gay,” Izuku admitted, averting his eyes, and felt an awful flush climb up his face. His eyes flickered back over to Hitoshi, making sure the other boy was still asleep. He didn’t think that Hitoshi would care. But he didn’t like to talk about it too much. It wasn’t that he was ashamed exactly. He’d done lots of research and knew that being gay cropped up in a number of different species.

It was just a lot of other people, seemed to think he ought to be ashamed. 

“Hmmn.  My parents had a similar reaction, when I was younger,” Eraserhead acknowledged, his face untroubled. Izuku looked at him in surprise - he’d have never have guessed. Though, now that he thought about it, remembered that Hizashi had said Hitoshi had been with his husband….

“How about your mom?” 

Izuku shrugged. He didn’t think his mother would have cared one way or another. She’d always seemed more concerned that Izuku’s Quirklessness would pose the most challenges in his life. And he hadn’t started to really notice boys until she’s started getting sick. He hadn’t wanted to bother her about it. It had seemed petty and stupid. 

It still felt stupid sometimes. 

“He your boyfriend then?” Eraserhead asked, jerking his head towards Hitoshi.

“No,” Izuku said feeling an uncomfortable twinge in his stomach that made him squirm. His eyes flickered to his friend, and he felt his face grow even hotter. He didn’t know what or who Hitoshi liked - and he hadn’t asked. Nor did he plan on asking. He wasn’t going to ruin his friendship - his little makeshift family - by making Hitoshi feel awkward. 

  “I still care about him though,” he added forcefully. “He’s my family.” He added, asserting the statement, and looking at Eraserhead defiantly. He would have argued the point to death, had it been required of him. But Eraserhead only nodded his understanding and leaned back in his chair.

Izuku chewed his bottom lip anxiously, waiting for the man to say something else.

He didn’t seem to have anything else to say. Izuku twitched for a few moments, shifting uncomfortably. “Are you gonna separate us?” He asked. “I already told that other man. Hitoshi can’t go back to his old foster family. They…” he fidgeted. “They weren’t kind to him.” 

“Hmmn. Interesting. Hitoshi said something similar about you.” 

Izuku waited for him to say more, but again, the man didn’t seem to be inclined to continue talking. “So…are you going to send him back?” Izuku asked.

Eraserhead eyed him up and down for a moment. “No,” He said after a moment. “We’re not. And we’re not sending you back to your parents either,” he added, though Izuku hadn’t asked. 

If anything, Izuku felt a little confused at being included in the statement. He opened his mouth to say something but decided against it after a moment. “So…what are you going to do to us?” He asked, a little apprehensively. 

Shouta raised an eyebrow at him. “Well. I thought I’d ask you two if you’d like to stay with me and Hizashi. For a while.” He studied Izuku with an expression he couldn’t exactly understand. “My husband is quite fond of the two of you. We’re only registered as emergency foster placements for now, so it doesn’t need to be permanent. If you find someone you like…better.” 

For a moment, Izuku tried to process the words, his brain still churning sluggishly.  “But. I kicked you,” he said stupidly. 

“I remember,” Shouta said heavily, and Izuku winced. 

“So…aren’t you supposed to be…mad at me?” Izuku asked hesitantly. “Instead of offering me a place to stay…” He trailed off, still mumbling as he tried to put the pieces together in his head in a way that made sense to him. Maybe they really just wanted Hitoshi? That would have made more sense. And they’d just invited Izuku because…because they didn’t think Hitoshi would come without Izuku? 

He was still mulling over the possibility when Eraserhead spoke, “I’m not mad at you. You have both made it abundantly clear that you are primarily concerned about the other’s safety. Even at the expense of your own safety. You were concerned about what would happen to Hitoshi, if I took him away, correct?” 

Izuku averted his eyes. “…He looked scared,” he whispered. “I just. Kinda moved. You know what I mean?” He asked

Shouta studied him for a moment and then nodded shortly. “I do.” He glanced over at Hitoshi and sighed. “Do you think you’d both like to come? See how you like living with Hizashi and I for a little while. I can promise, that if you two live with us, you will be safe.” 

“As long as Hitoshi doesn’t mind…” Izuku said after a moment. “…Then yes. I want to go with you.”