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Sense to Protect

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After the last embers of One For All burnt out, Toshinori never expected to feel the pumping adrenaline, the pure instinct of combat ever again. His days of fight or flight were over. Or so he thought. When he jolted awake, heart pounding, the gut feeling from his hero days was there. Telling him that something was very, very wrong.

He was up in an instant, grabbing his jacket from the hook by the door on his way out. Something was amiss in the UA dorms. He just knew. Out in the hall, the sensation only strengthened. Where…? Ignoring the usual throbbing of his old wounds, he dashed to the stairs, up to the floors where the students lived.

It took him only a moment to reach Midoriya’s door. Pulse still racing, he knocked. Nothing. He tried again. When his student didn’t answer, he took the dorm master keys from his jacket pocket and popped the lock.

On Midoriya’s bunk was a trembling ball of twisted blankets. Toshinori entered the room, vaguely aware that in any other circumstance, he’d be spitting blood in response to the sheer number of All Might posters on the walls. A faint, choking sound came from the pile. “Midoriya, my boy,” he hissed, hoping not to wake the students in the rooms nearby.

When, like his knocking, his voice went unanswered, he reached out to shake the boy awake. Midoryia’s head poked out of the blanket cocoon. He was bleary-eyed and sniffling. Toshinori watched as, blinking slowly, the boy finally realized he was standing there. His student’s sharp inhalation of breath was followed by a coughing fit that rivaled one of Toshinori’s own. Besides himself, he’d never seen someone so sick.

Midoriya struggled to sit up but fell back down. Taking his hand, Toshinori pulled him upright. Heat seemed to be radiating off the boy in waves. “Come on, my boy. Let’s go see what Recovery Girl can do for you.” His student nodded weakly, so Toshinori looped the boy’s arm around his shoulders and half lead, half carried him out of the room.


 

 

When Izuku was finally medicated and asleep, Toshinori’s racing pulse finally slowed. He sat back in an armchair in the front of the infirmary, suddenly exhausted. Recovery Girl chuckled quietly to herself as she put away the various supplies she had been using to treat Midoriya. “What’s so funny, Chiyo?”

“You, boy,” she shook her head at him. “But it’s fortunate you brought him to me when you did. He was in bad shape. I hope it hasn’t spread to his classmates.”

“I don’t think any of the others are ill,” Toshinori rubbed the back of his neck. 

“How do you know?” A cheeky smile played on the nurse’s lips. 

“I-“

“In fact,” Chiyo fixed him with the look that meant she knew something he didn’t. “I’m curious as to how you knew young Izuku was struggling.”

“That’s hard to explain, as I don’t know the answer myself. Something just…Wasn’t right, so I went upstairs to check on the students.” How had he known? How had he known to go directly to Midoriya’s room? 

Toshinori decided it was something worth pondering when he’d had more sleep. “Will he be alright, Chiyo, or does he need someone to stay and keep an eye on him?”

“Oh, he’s alright. Go rest. Now. I demand it.”

“Fine, fine,” he raised his hands in a defensive gesture. Hauling his skinny frame up out of the chair, he headed for the door. The former professional stopped in the hallway outside and turned to speak once again. “Thank you, Chiyo.”


 

The second time Toshinori’s instincts activated after losing One For All, it was even less logical. In the middle of the UA cafeteria, surrounded by pros and fledgling heroes alike, his danger sense shouldn’t have been pinging. Despite the threat of villain attacks, UA was still the safest place on Earth, and yet the blood roaring in his ears told him otherwise. He set his mug of tea down on the faculty table and scanned the room. Knowing he’d sense the trouble when he came to it, the teacher didn’t let his attention linger on any one thing for long. 

When he was about halfway through his breakdown of the room, he felt it. A spike of anxiety hit him so hard, his scar pulsed with it. But the answer didn’t make sense. His gaze had stopped on a lunch table in the center of the cafeteria. Sitting around it were four Class 1-A students. Not just students, but Toshinori’s protege and his friends. Young Midoriya was talking animatedly with Uraraka, Iida, and young Todoroki, who had recently been adopted as the newest member of their group. That was it. No emergency, no problem, just four would-be heroes chattering away.

In their excitement, they were speaking at a volume a hair louder than the surrounding tables, but other than that, the former pro couldn’t find anything amiss. So why, then, was his pulse still racing? He couldn’t ignore the feeling. It was too strong and too certain to let it be.Leaving his mug where it stood, the man wove his way between the tables toward the kids.

“And then-“ Midoriya said, pausing as if waiting for dramatic tension to build. “He said he didn’t even know where they were!” Though Toshinori had missed the setup for the story, grinned. The huge, anticipating smile on Midoriya’s face alone was enough to know that the joke was a good one. His three companions burst into a fit of giggles, which only made his protege smile more. Hearing Iida and Todoroki roar with laughter was a rare occurrence, and Midoriya rightly seemed to be taking it as a victory.

Suddenly, it all fell into place. He knew what was wrong. Young Uraraka wasn’t laughing. Well, she was laughing, but it rang hollow. Her mouth was turned up, but it wasn’t a real expression of happiness. She was upset.

Toshinori was still debating potential courses of action when the bell rang to signal the end of lunch. He frowned, watching the girl and her posse return their plates and gather up their things. She was still unhappy, he sensed it, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it now. Unless…Maybe this was a better opportunity after all. It would give her time to talk to her discreetly, without the pressure of her friends.


 

That afternoon, after classes ended and the students had returned to Heights Alliance, Toshinori knocked on Uraraka’s door. A choked, muffled sound could be heard even out in the hall. The door opened. “All Might-“ Her eyes watered, and despite obvious efforts to obscure it, she was sniffling.

“Uraraka, I was about to watch a movie in the common room. I was wondering if you’d like to join me?” It was best to ignore her downcast expression; she was trying to hide her emotions for his sake, a feeling that Toshinori knew all too well. 

“…You’re inviting us all to watch a movie?”

“No,” he said, trying to choose his words carefully. “I’m inviting you to watch a movie. Though, I think the others might decide to join us if they’re in the common room too. Is that okay?”

She hesitated, but then nodded. Ten minutes later they were sitting on one of the common room couches, each with a bowl of ice cream in hand, the movie rolling. He’d been right to assume, of course, that others would want to join them. Mina lay on her stomach on the floor in front of the TV, a cushion propped under her chin, and young Kaminari was pretending to study in the armchair to the left.

As the animated film continued and Uraraka’s expression slowly relaxed, Toshinori felt his pulse begin to calm. The feeling of imminent danger was fading. 


 

The third time the wave of focused instinct washed over Toshinori, he didn’t even question it. Class was about to begin, and the students were filing into the room and taking their seats. When the feeling hit, it was sudden and familiar. He dropped the chalk with which he’d been writing and turned, eyes narrowed.

Midoriya was fine, and Uraraka as well. After checking on them, he swept the room desk by desk, focusing on each of the children in turn. There. The second his eyes stopped to rest on young Bakugou, he knew. Despite the never changing look of anger on his face, boy was not okay. 

The hotheaded student was somewhat subdued, setting his books down on the desk with nothing more than a scowl, but that was an increasingly common scene. After the incident in the Kamino ward, and after the children moved into the dorms, Bakugou’s rage had quieted. It was still there, Toshinori thought, just not as loud. 

As usual, the boy’s fingers were curled in around his palms. Unusually, however, he held his hands close to his stomach. His slouch was deeper than Toshinori remembered, and his grimace pulled back in an exaggerated manner. “Bakugou, I need to have a word with you. Could you come with me? You can bring your things.” His student shot him a bewildered look but gave a grunt of assent and picked up his books. 

On the way out into the hallway, Toshinori cast about for words. Concern would do nothing for his student; he violently rejected anything resembling help. “My boy, I’d like you to go speak to Recovery Girl.”

“I’m fine, All Might.”

“I will have one of your classmates take notes for you, and if you would like to go over the material with me later, that can be arranged.” Before his student could protest, he amended his statement. “I won’t train you until I know you’re in good condition. I can’t push you to your limit if you’ve already done that to yourself.”

“…Fine.”

“Take care of yourself, my boy. You’re going to take enough damage from the villains; don’t make their job easier.” 

“Alright, already. I’ll go talk to Recovery Girl. Don’t worry so much, All Might. You sound like Deku.” Bakugou slung his bag over his shoulder and shuffled down the hall toward the infirmary.


 

That night, Toshinori was pulling a mug from the microwave when his cell phone vibrated against the counter. He glanced over at the screen as he pushed the microwave door shut, and promptly sloshed hot water on the floor as he recognized the number. Setting the cup and what was left of the water on the counter, he snatched the phone up. “Chiyo- Is young Bakugou-“

“You did right sending that boy to see me today.” Her voice was unsteady, exhausted. 

“Is he alright? Chiyo, what happened?”

“He’s fine, now. They finished surgery an hour or so ago, but he’s still sleeping it off.”

“Surgery?” He rasped.

“They removed his appendix, Toshinori. He had an advanced case of appendicitis. If you hadn’t sent him to me when you did, or if he’d been allowed to participate in battle training, it could have ruptured. As it stands, he’s fine because you were watching out for him.”

He let out a rattling cough. “Thank you for letting me know, Chiyo. How long will he be out of class?”

“It’ll be at least three weeks before he’s fully up and running again, but as long as you and the kids are careful, and as long as he’s only performing deskwork, he’ll probably be back within a week. He’s stubborn enough for it, anyway. Like someone else I know.”

Toshinori grinned in spite of the chastisement. “Well, make sure he knows I’m having the others take notes for him.”

“Tell him yourself, he’s recovering in the UA infirmary. It’s the safest place for him right now, given the circumstances.” He heard Recovery Girl sigh over the phone receiver. “I’m glad to see you’re taking care of your students, boy. Now learn to take care of yourself!”

“Alright, Chiyo, thank you for keeping me updated. I’ll be by to see young Bakugou tomorrow.”


 

Bakugou’s explosive personality was incredibly subdued. He hadn’t said much when Toshinori handed him a stack of paper - from multiple kids in 1-A, as several had volunteered at once to share their notes with the boy - and wished him a quick recovery. That was fine; at this point, the former pro understood the young hothead. He would be a stellar hero, Toshinori knew, once he’d had just a little more time to grow.

As relieved as Toshinori was that the boy had been treated, something was still bothering him. He’d walked out to the front of the infirmary where Recovery Girl sat at her computer, typing something into her records. “Chiyo, could I ask you a question?”

“You just did.” She grinned at him in her usual way. “But I’m assuming you want to ask another one.”

“Yes,” he said, lowering his voice so it wouldn’t carry to where Bakugou was resting. “When…When I sent Young Bakugou to you, it was because I had the sense that something was wrong. And I couldn’t explain why. It felt like battling a villain. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. My students - sometimes I just know when something is wrong.” He paused. “Chiyo, I was born Quirkless, and One for All is gone. So I don’t know how I am sensing these things. I was wondering if…If you had any insight into this.”

Recovery Girl stared at him for a moment. Her hand flew to her mouth - in shock? Surprise? Horror? No- She was laughing. Laughing at him. “You silly boy,” she said. “That’s no Quirk-based power.” Her lips pulled back in a devious smirk. “You’re just developing the same instincts as every other new father.”

Was she insinuating that - He felt a cough start to build in his chest, but he inhaled and forced it down. Was she implying that he viewed them…As his children?

“They’re lucky to have you.” Her expression softened. “Keep looking out for them, Toshinori. They still need you to protect them.”