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The Mentor's Rage

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...Wait, hold on a sec, it didn’t…

...hurt him?

Izuku stared at his arm, miraculously not broken despite him using a Smash without holding anything back. But it wasn’t so much his non-broken arm that startled him so much as it was the fact that Nomu, the anti-All Might creature created with the intention of destroying the Symbol of Peace, was completely unfazed, unmoved, and unharmed by Izuku’s blow.

Izuku slowly retracted his fist, his teeth clenched. If I’m All Might’s successor, his mind raced, with his exact power, and...and a punch didn’t even faze him, does that mean…

...Can All Might really be defeated by him?

The leading villain, Shigaraki, covered in eerie, pale-green hands, raised his head. “‘Smash’?” he repeated thoughtfully, echoing Izuku’s battlecry. “Are you a follower of All Might’s?”

Izuku didn’t respond. If a Smash at his full strength didn’t do anything, there was nothing more he could do. He was powerless now. Completely, one-hundred-percent powerless.

“Nevermind,” Shigaraki decided. “I’m finished with you.”

Nomu reached out and clasped Izuku’s arm, his fingers completely coiled around it, locking him firmly in place. Izuku flinched, eyes wide and teeth clenched.

There’s nothing…

Shigaraki reached out, one hand towards Tsu and the other hand towards Mineta.

...There’s absolutely nothing…

Nomu raised his arm over Izuku.

...I can do.

Nomu brought down his hand. Izuku put up his fists and channeled One for All into his arms, but there wasn’t anything he could do anymore. It was over.

Nomu’s ginormous hand finally made contact.

“MIDORIYA!”

His name, shouted by Tsu and Mineta, was the very last sound Izuku heard. His world exploded in blinding, excruciating pain, and something metallic burned the back of his throat. Black flooded over his sight like ink in water, and he was unconscious before he hit the ground.


 

Izuku didn’t move. At all. Whatsoever. He was as still as death, blood pooling beneath his head and his chest rattling with every shallow, wavering breath he managed to gasp.

Tsu and Mineta stared at him in horror, expressions blank. “M-Midoriya…” Mineta whimpered shakily, tears beginning to flow. “N-No, t-this isn’t...t-this c-can’t be real…”

Shigaraki moved his hands over Mineta and Tsu’s heads, ready to turn them to dust.

But at that very instant, the doors leading into the USJ burst open. Shigaraki’s hands halted over Tsu and Mineta; the rest of the remaining villains turned, too, with shock and confusion.

And then, in stormed the one and only All Might. He wasn’t smiling. In fact, if the other U.A. students hadn’t known he was on their side, they would have been terrified by the look on his face.

“It’s fine now, because... I am here!”  


 

All Might was furious.

No, this was -- this was a thing beyond just plain old fury . His students had been attacked before they were ready, before they could win a fight. The enemy had cornered them in a place where they were supposed to be safe. And not only that, but the other U.A. heroes who fought were left badly injured and unmoving.

This was wrong. Nobody had the right to do this, least of all to the students and teachers All Might had grown fond of. He was going to make them pay. He was going to make them all pay for what they did.

He took a step forward and dashed, quicker than a bolt of lightning, into the fray. The first couple villains were knocked out in an instant; before they even hit the ground, All Might had grabbed Aizawa and was a safe distance away.

Aizawa was bloody and unconscious, but still breathing. It was nothing he wouldn’t recover from over time. But all the same...

“...I’m sorry, Aizawa,” All Might said, carefully setting the injured hero on the ground. He then turned, to face who he assumed were the ringleaders of this entire operation.

And then he saw Izuku.

Izuku, the precious, selfless boy All Might had met what seemed so very long ago. Izuku, always in it for his friends and never for himself, willing to give up anything and everything if it meant they were safe. Izuku, compassionate and shy and timid and always worrying he wasn’t a good enough successor.

Izuku, unmoving, pale, and covered in his own blood, lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. Honestly, from where he was standing, All Might couldn’t even tell whether or not he was breathing.

His heart pounded faster and harder than ever before.

And he was moving again.

He shot off at a speed that would put a bullet to shame, snatching Tsu and Mineta from the water with one hand, using his other arm to quickly but gently scoop Izuku off the ground. They were a safe distance from the villains in less than an instant.

Izuku was bleeding even worse than Aizawa, and his blood ran and dripped off All Might’s arm. The boy was so limp and pale, he very well could’ve been dead, but All Might could tell he was breathing now, taking in small, raspy gasps between his parted lips. It looked like hard work.

All Might was overwhelmed with...with everything. With sorrow, with pain, and with guilt all at once as he held this precious, irreplaceable, broken boy in his grasp. He kept a loose hold, fearing that if he held too tight Izuku would simply shatter.

“...I’m sorry, my boy,” All Might whispered. “I am so, so sorry.”

If only he’d gotten here just a couple seconds sooner, he may have been able to stop this. If only he hadn’t wasted all his time that morning taking care of small criminal schemes that could have easily been handled by other heroes. If only. If only. If only .

He straightened up, realizing that this was not the time for “if only”s. This was the time for action, to make the villains pay for what they did to Aizawa and Thirteen, but first and foremostly for what they did to Izuku.

After all, Aizawa and Thirteen were heroes who’d faced pain and fear before. They were used to the world of crime-fighting and pain. It was all just part of the “hero” job.

However, Izuku was still merely a child . Fifteen years old, if All Might’s memory served correct. For someone to do something of this extent to a mere child

It made All Might’s blood boil.

He released Tsu and Mineta and used both arms to support Izuku as he slowly and oh so carefully lowered him to the ground. Izuku’s head lolled, and All Might swallowed thickly. The boy still wasn’t moving. At all . Even Aizawa had been moving, just a little bit. But Izuku wasn’t even cringing; he had to be in a lot of pain, considering his injuries, and yet…

And yet…

And yet he was still. Limp. Motionless. Lifeless .

All Might straightened up again, and Tsu and Mineta scrambled forward to kneel at Izuku’s side.

“Young Asui,” All Might said, and Tsu turned to look at him, her hands hovering over Izuku uncertainly, “I’m entrusting Midoriya to your care. Young Mineta, watch over Aizawa.”

Mineta nodded and bolted off, and Tsu nodded to All Might in agreement. All Might turned fully, putting himself between the villains and his students while Tsu tore off her long sleeves and applied pressure to Izuku’s head wound.

Shigaraki was standing in the same position as before, his hands still poised over the water. But then he straightened up, scratching his neck with two pale fingers. “That brat…” Shigaraki said. “He put up his fists to counter Nomu’s blow...how irritating...how irritating…”

All Might looked at the creature -- Nomu , was it called? -- and was struck by a sudden realization. Izuku had obviously been struck by this...this thing , and according to Shigaraki, he’d put up his fists, no doubt channeling One for All through his arms and hands.

But if he hadn’t done that...if he hadn’t partially blocked Nomu’s blow…

...There was no way he could’ve survived it.  

He already took so much life-threatening damage having blocked Nomu’s attack. If he hadn’t managed to defend himself, he would’ve definitely been killed in an instant.

However, this realization also showed All Might that these villains had intended to kill Izuku, and that fact only further fueled All Might’s rage. If he’d been angry before, he was...he was…

No. There were no words to describe the burning, fire-hot anger he was feeling. It coursed through his veins like poison, and he balled his fists to the point of pain. He’d never, ever been this infuriated before in his entire life.

“Izuku’s punch didn’t faze it at all,” Tsu spoke up after a second, and All Might looked at the girl over his shoulder. Tsu looked uncharacteristically worried, and Izuku’s blood seeped into her glove. “They called it the anti-All Might. Their plot is to kill you.”

All Might turned away, facing their opponents once again. “...Not to worry, Young Asui,” All Might said. “All you have to do is take care of Midoriya. This won’t take long.”

He put up his fists, and charged at the monster.

It was the first real fist-fight All Might remembered having. Usually fights were over within a punch or two, but now, fists were flying back and forth, delivering blow, after blow, after blow, after blow, after blow. All Might wasn’t used to fights lasting this long, but that didn’t matter.

He had to beat these guys. It didn’t matter how he did it. He had to beat them. He wasn’t going to let them escape unscathed after what they did to Izuku. They were going to pay. They were going to pay. They were going to pay, pay, pay, pay, pay .

“You should have known better,” All Might bellowed, pulling back his fist, “than to mess with my students!”

He delivered the blow, Nomu countered, and the fight went on. Punch, after punch, after punch. All Might was still overwhelmed with fury, which quickly turned into adrenaline and gave him the drive to keep fighting.

“Can I become a hero, even though I don’t have a Quirk?”

All Might figured out Nomu’s secret, his regenerative properties, and he kept hailing down his punches, refusing to let up.

“I want to be an awesome hero, who always saves people with a smile...like you!”

All Might landed a blow to Nomu’s gut, throwing him backwards; the monster was back in an instant ready to retaliate, but All Might was ready, too.

“I have to work harder than anyone else to make it! I’ll never catch up otherwise…!”

The fight went on, but it was very obvious now who was winning. All Might wasn’t letting up, and Nomu was beginning to crumble. Each of All Might’s hits delivered more damage each time, and Nomu’s own attacks were becoming rather pathetic.

“...I want to be the strongest hero…”

Punch. Dodge. Punch. Duck. Smash! Dodge.

“...Like you!”

All Might gritted his teeth. If I can’t beat a couple of villains … he thought, balling his fist and preparing the final blow.

...Then I don’t have the right to be called “the strongest hero”!

He landed his punch, directly to the hideous monster’s chest, and Nomu was sent flying, straight upwards and straight through the ceiling of the USJ. His loud, animal-like shriek resounded in the air for a good minute before finally fading out in the distance.

Nomu, the anti-All Might, was gone.

All Might straightened up, panting only slightly from exertion. He was still so full of anger and hatred that it was ridiculous, and the adrenaline hadn’t worn off even slightly.

He turned to face Shigaraki and Kurogiri, the latter staring at him like he was a freak of the nature while the former’s expression was hidden by one of those disgusting pale-green hands.

All Might put up a hand, then balled it into a fist.

“Round two?” he questioned.

He was beginning to feel it now -- his transformation was going to wear off soon, and he knew it -- but he was determined to keep this up until help arrived, until Izuku and the rest of the students (but mostly Izuku) were safe.

He could feel the villains’ confidence wavering, too, as they watched him.

“...He defeated...my Nomu?” Shigaraki said dumbly, like he was a child who’d just dropped their ice cream. “No...no...this can’t be true...how could he have defeated Nomu…?”

Shigaraki straightened up after another moment. “...I suppose this...is game over, then,” he said, still seemingly unable to grasp this reality.

“Leaving so soon?” All Might was still ready and raring to go, ready to pound these villains’ FACES in for what they did to Izuku. Actually, he somewhat wanted them to stick around, just so he had the pleasure of bringing them down himself.

“...Yes...I believe it is time to leave…” Shigaraki said. “Kurogiri, if you don’t mind…”

Kurogiri took one last look at All Might, and then decided it was better not to argue with Shigaraki at this point. He activated the portal, and he and Shigaraki vanished without a trace.

And then, everything was suddenly silent.

All Might stared at the spot where the two villains had disappeared -- and then pivoted and raced back to Izuku and Tsu. He knelt by Izuku’s side, opposite of the young girl.

“His breathing is getting worse,” Tsu reported, tearing even more of her sleeve and continuing to add pressure to Izuku’s head, though it didn’t seem to be doing much good. “He most likely suffered internal damage…”

All Might’s clothes were already ripped, so it didn’t take much to tear off some decent strips and add them to Tsu’s. Izuku’s breathing was all over the place, and there were some terrifying pauses between inhales and exhales that left All Might fearing whether his breaths would actually continue.

This was bad. This was really, really, really, really, really bad.

“Stay with us, Midoriya,” All Might pleaded, which was out of character for him, honestly, but he didn’t care. He would’ve gotten on his knees and flat-out begged if it meant Izuku staying alive. “You’re going to be just fine, my boy, just hang in there…”

Izuku coughed harshly, choked, and blood ran down his cheek. He was coughing up blood now, which only confirmed Tsu’s suspicions, that there was internal damage as well as external.

All Might noticed Tsu swallowing hard, struggling to maintain her composure, but commented not. They were both struggling to maintain any kind of composure.

Izuku’s head wound was still bleeding. It seemed to have slowed, but only slightly, and not enough to change anything. He’d lost a dangerous amount of blood now, and his breathing went from sharp and desperate to shallow and thin, until he was barely breathing at all. He wasn’t struggling for breath anymore.

His body, it was…

...It was winding down…

And then, suddenly, the doors of the USJ were thrown open once again -- this time, it was reinforcements from the U.A., coupled with nearly every able hero in the entire area. Tsu watched, then blinked.

“...Reinforcements,” said Tsu, and though her voice was as straightforward as ever, All Might could definitely sense her relief. “They’re finally here--”

All Might, without warning, scooped the limp Izuku into his arms once again and stood. “Please go help Young Mineta carry Aizawa,” he said to Tsu as she also got to her feet, her gloves and boots bloodstained.

Tsu nodded and hopped off, while All Might zoomed up front to find Recovery Girl.

He had left Aizawa to Tsu and Mineta, not because he cared for Aizawa less, but because Izuku needed medical attention more. And honestly, for the most part, Aizawa could handle pain; Izuku on the other hand was still young and inexperienced.

That, and…

...And All Might had begun to see Izuku as a son…

“Good heavens, what happened to the boy now!?”

The exclamation signaled All Might to Recovery Girl’s location, and he raced over. She met him halfway, and he got down on one knee to let her look at Izuku. She gasped in shock and horror, then began digging around frantically in the medical bag she’d brought in with her.  

“Deku!”

“Izuku!”

“Midoriya!”

The other shouts signaled the arrival of Izuku’s other classmates, who had regrouped or were currently regrouping to the front entrance of the USJ. Ochako gasped, bringing her hands to her mouth as tears formed in her eyes at the sight of her friend, and Iida, who had arrived with the other superheroes, only stared in horror. The rest of the class stared as well, half of them looking sick and the other half looking... terrified.

Well, rightfully so. After all, from their perspective…

...Izuku must have looked dead . Actually, if All Might hadn’t been able to feel the fleeting rise and fall of Izuku’s chest, he, too, would have thought him no more than a lifeless body.

“Put this on him, quick.” Recovery Girl moved forward, strapping an oxygen mask around Izuku’s face and hooking him up with a small, portable oxygen tank. She’d come prepared for injuries of all sorts, clearly, but she was still visibly shaken up by seeing one of the students in such a state.

“...Aizawa will be here soon,” said All Might, because he thought it was something he should mention. “He needs medical attention, too…”

But not more than Izuku. Izuku was...Izuku was in an immediate position of life or death.

It took less than five seconds for Recovery Girl to bind Izuku’s head wound with thick gauze, but she didn’t seem proud of this accomplishment whatsoever. Izuku felt so boneless and lifeless in All Might’s arms that it was terrifying, and All Might had to check every once and then to make sure he was actually still breathing. The oxygen tank was helping, and the blood had finally stopped flowing, but…

...The situation still hadn’t really changed. Izuku had still lost a freakish amount of blood, and his internal injuries were definitely still there, and they weren’t going to get better on their own.

“I need to get him back to the infirmary at the U.A.,” Recovery Girl informed All Might, breaking him from his thoughts. “I don’t have all the supplies I need to care for him properly here.”

All Might wished he could block all this out. He wished he would wake up from this nightmare, but of course he couldn’t.

After all, you can’t wake up from your own reality.

“Time is of the essence,” said Recovery Girl, her hands moving briefly over Izuku’s chest, feeling for broken ribs. Izuku didn’t respond to her touches and prods, completely still in All Might’s arms. “We need to get him back as quickly as possible, or else…”

She didn’t have to finish that sentence.

Nobody wanted her to finish that sentence.   


 

To say All Might was worried would have been the greatest understatement in the world.

The rest of the U.A. students had been sent home until the security could be upped. The only remaining student in the entire facility was Izuku, currently in the infirmary with Recovery Girl trying her hardest to save him.

Izuku’s closest friends -- namely Tsu, Ochako, and Iida, though most of Class 1-A was frantic with worry -- had been extremely reluctant to leave him, especially considering the state he was in when they last saw him, but Recovery Girl had eventually managed to shoo them away.

“I know you’re worried,” Recovery Girl had told them, “but it’s better for you to be home right now. It won’t take long for the security teams to finish up, so I’ll let you know as soon as you can see your friend.”

“B-But what if…” Ochako had asked fearfully, her voice shaking and cracking in a million different places. “...W-What if D-Deku...w-what if he...h-he...d-doesn’t make i-it?”

Recovery Girl had crossed her arms. “So long as I’m here,” she’d said firmly, “that is never going to happen.”

The students had finally left after that, and Recovery Girl had been holed in the infirmary with Izuku since. All Might waited just outside the infirmary’s closed door, shrunken down to his weaker, true form. His hands squeezed his knees, and his legs were shaking.

He couldn’t remember ever being this worried before in his life. He couldn’t deny it; Izuku was like a son to him, and now that the adrenaline had finally worn off from his battle, his mind was suddenly all to clear.

Izuku was…

...He was hurt bad .

Recovery Girl had reassured the other students that Izuku would be alright, and of course they’d bought it, but All Might knew the woman well enough to notice the small quiver in her voice, the hint of uncertainty in her face.

Not even she knew whether Izuku would make it.

Waiting was torture. Honestly, All Might would rather fight another dozen Nomus than sit here in silence with just his own thoughts, which weren’t very good company at the moment. He had plenty of time to let the gravity of the situation catch up to him; to let image after image of Izuku, broken and bloody, play on a repeated slideshow in his mind’s eye.

It. Was. Torture.

And then finally, later on in the day, when the sun had long since set, the door to Recovery Girl’s office opened, and All Might leapt to his feet instantly, rounding the small woman.

“How is he?” All Might interrogated, because he had to know. After waiting so long , the worst-case-scenarios running back and forth through his head, he had to know, beit good or bad.

Recovery Girl sighed. She looked suddenly much, much older, and there were shadows beneath her eyes. Her white coat was soiled by splatters of blood. “He has a concussion,” Recovery Girl stated. “I healed it partially, but I used nearly all of his body’s stamina repairing his insides, so his head will just have to heal the rest of the way on its own.”

All Might swallowed, and then nodded. Recovery Girl’s diagnosis, though not particularly uplifting, meant that Izuku was alive, and that alone was a victory in All Might’s book.

“...And…?” All Might pressed on.

“...His ribs were pretty messed up,” said Recovery Girl, “and he punctured a lung. I repaired the worst of it, and it isn’t life-threatening anymore, but...he’s going to be out of comission for a while. He lost a lot of blood, so he’s on a transfusion and an IV at the moment. The transfusion should be finished soon enough, but I’m giving him pain meds through the IV, so he’ll have to stay on that until his body’s recovered a bit more.”

She took in a breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled slowly.

“That poor, poor child,” she breathed, shaking her head. “Those villains had no right ...no right to do this to anyone , least of all a defenseless student …”

After Recovery Girl had disappeared with Izuku in the infirmary, All Might had decided to put aside his fury until the next time he ran into Shigaraki and the other villains, but at Recovery Girl’s remark...well...let’s just say All Might wasn’t as through bring furious as he would have hoped.

Usually, seeing a villain behind bars was enough to quench any anger he held towards them; however, this time, he wanted to see Shigaraki and his followers dead . He wanted them dead, and he wanted them to genuinely regret what they did to Izuku.

“You should go see him,” said Recovery Girl, disrupting All Might’s thoughts. “I don’t imagine him waking up anytime soon, but when he does, I reckon seeing you will boost his morale more than anything.”

All Might swallowed hard, then nodded. “Alright,” he agreed. Recovery Girl smiled tiredly at him, and then left, heading down the hallway and leaving All Might alone in front of the infirmary.

All Might mentally prepared himself for whatever he would find, then pushed open the partially closed door and headed inside.

Izuku was lying on one of the first infirmary beds, and IV and blood transfusion set up on the floor just beside him, tubes trailing down until they reached needles injected into Izuku’s wrists. Gauze was wound around his head snugly, and his skin was an ashen, pasty white. He was on oxygen, a mask over his nose and mouth and a tank sitting on the floor beside the IV hanger, but despite that, his breaths were short and quick, almost like he still couldn’t breathe.

This whole thing felt...almost surreal.

All Might reached out hesitantly, gently touching the boy’s face. His skin was cold, like ice, and he didn’t react to All Might’s touch whatsoever. He was completely out , whether by his body’s own accord or by intention of Recovery Girl.

In the end it didn’t really matter.

All Might sucked in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. He felt like someone had taken a dagger and driven it into his heart, then twisted it for good measure. It was a very, very painful sensation.

“...Young Midoriya…”

He pulled up a chair beside the bed and sank down onto it wearily. He could’ve stopped this. He knew he could’ve stopped this. If he’d just gotten to the USJ a couple moments faster...he could have stopped this, all of this.

He could have spared Izuku a lot of pain.

“...I’m sorry,” All Might said, resting his hand on the boy’s cold, pale forearm. “I’m so, so, so sorry …”

He hadn’t had much time for regrets in the heat of battle, when he was fighting against Nomu and the other villains for the lives of the other students and teachers of the U.A., but now that the battle was over, he had more than enough time.


 

Izuku awakened all at once with a surge of adrenaline still coursing through his body. He shot into a sitting position, breathing hard -- it was a bad idea to move so quickly, and he gritted his teeth and shut his eyes, reaching up to clutch his pulsating, aching head.

His fingers grazed thick gauze, and after the throbbing in his head finally diminished enough, he cracked his eyes open.

He knew where he was in an instant. He’d been in the U.A. infirmary enough times to recognize it immediately. However, it took him more time that it should’ve for him to notice the oxygen mask strapped over his nose and mouth, and the IV needle in his arm.

What...happened?

As soon as the thought entered his mind, he remembered everything. Everything . The villains showing up; getting warped to the Shipwreck Zone; fighting the villains in the water; going to help Aizawa; Shigaraki moving towards Tsu and Mineta --

Izuku tore the oxygen mask off his face, pulled the IV out of his arm, and leapt out of the hospital bed. The instant his feet hit the ground, he swayed, and black spots invaded his line of sight, but he didn’t care.

His head pounded, and he thought his skull was going to explode; he stumbled more than walked, trying to make it to the door on the other side of the room. His chest hurt, so badly , and breathing was really, really, really hard.

I have...to make sure...

He hissed through his teeth in pain, clutching his head again.

...Tsu...Mineta…everyone...

I need...to know...they’re okay…

The white tiled floor seemed to swirl beneath his feet. Bile burned the back of his throat.

I need…

...to know…

Just as he reached out to turn the knob, the door swung open.

“Young Midoriya!”

Izuku couldn’t take it any longer; he pitched forward, his knees giving out beneath him. Just when he thought he’d hit the ground, two arms reached out and caught him in the nick of time.

“Just what...what are you doing up?”

Oh. Izuku recognized that voice in a heartbeat. “A-All Might,” he stammered, and then cringed. His voice sounded awful . Another bolt of pain shot through his head, and he gritted his teeth again.

“Alright, alright, my boy, back to bed with you…”  

All Might was in his true, weaker form at the moment, so he couldn’t carry the student; instead, he held fast to Izuku’s arm and let the boy lean against him as they crossed the room again.

Izuku was grateful for the help. He really didn’t feel like tripping and messing up his head again.

“T-the r-rest of the st-students,” Izuku hacked. Why...why is it so hard to breathe? “W-What...w-what h-hap--” He broke off into a fit of coughing, burying his face in the crook of his arm to stifle it.

All Might quickened his pace, deposited Izuku on the bed, and reached over, grabbing the boy’s discarded oxygen mask. “You shouldn’t have taken this off,” All Might sighed, more to himself than anything, helping Izuku get it back over his face. Izuku sighed, relieved to be able to breathe again.

“You punctured a lung, Midoriya,” All Might informed him. “Recovery Girl healed what she could, but it’s going to take time. You have to stay down for a while, alright?”

Izuku nodded, and then stopped when it further pained his head. “The others,” he repeated; talking was a bit easier now that he could breathe. “Everyone else, what...happened to them…?”  

“The others are alright,” All Might answered; he pulled up a stool and sat down beside Izuku’s bed. “You’re the only student who suffered any casualties, and Aizawa is slowly healing. I arrived shortly after you were injured, and the villains ran.”

Izuku sighed again in relief. He was sitting up, and his head was still spinning, but he felt better now that he knew everyone else was safe.

He bit his lip, hands balling into fists. “...I...was powerless,” he said quietly; he could feel All Might’s eyes bearing into him, but didn’t meet his gaze. “When the villains were going after Tsu, Mineta and me, I couldn’t...there was nothing I could do.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” said All Might. “You’re still young and learning how to use One for All. You fought as hard as you could with your current strength, and I’m proud of you.”

“But...if you hadn’t been there...” Izuku said, and then paused. “I was scared,” Izuku admitted, looking down again. “There was...there was nothing I could do...I was...I was frozen in place.”

All Might nodded in understanding. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of, boy,” he said. “It’s completely natural to fear for your life in situations like that. Why, even pro heroes fear...”

Izuku was shaking his head feverishly, and All Might trailed off. “N-No, that’s not what I meant,” Izuku said. “I-I w-wasn’t afraid of dying. I was scared I w-wouldn’t be able to protect my f-friends.”

All Might’s eyes widened, and he was silent for a moment or two.

Then, he reached over and squeezed Izuku’s shoulder. “You, my boy,” All Might said, “have the heart of a true hero.”

Izuku blinked, confused. Is my head really that messed up…? “Heh?” he asked.

“You fought and held your own against villains who wanted to kill you almost immediately after beginning hero training,” said All Might firmly, “and that’s more than most pro heroes have done. So don’t worry about what you can and can’t do right now. You’ll get stronger, and continue to get stronger until you’ve become the new Symbol of Peace.”

Izuku blinked, swallowed, and then rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. His head was still killing him, but he felt more mentally and emotionally stable now.

“...You should get some rest now,” All Might said, giving Izuku a small, prompting push, and Izuku laid down, secretly relieved to be able to rest his head. He heard All Might mutter to himself under his breath, “Recovery Girl’s going to be mad at me again…”

Izuku cracked a small smile and blinked slowly. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt suddenly exhausted, more exhausted than he’d ever felt before in his life. “...And...you don’t have to worry, either…” he murmured. His words were slurring together, and he found it harder and harder to think coherently. “I’ll...get stronger, and...and become a...a great...hero…”

He shut his eyes, and sleep overwhelmed him instantly.


 

All Might watched his student for a moment or two, then sighed heavily.

“But, Young Midoriya…” he said, with a gentle smile. “...You already are.”   

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“He tore his IV out?”

All Might nodded, taking a small step back from the bedside to let Recovery Girl back through to examine her patient. She took Izuku’s wrist, the one the IV had been previously connected to, then sighed heavily.

“He was panicking,” All Might informed the woman, as she wiped streaks of blood off Izuku’s hand and prepared the IV needle. “He collapsed the second I walked through the door, but he was definitely more than a little frightened.”

“Mmhmm, makes sense,” said Recovery Girl, inserting the IV needle and taping it in place -- this time, though, she went all the way around Izuku’s wrist. “It’ll discourage him from yanking it out next time,” she told All Might. “He needs the pain meds, and the best way to administer them is through the IV.”

All Might nodded. The weight of this situation was still resting heavily on his shoulders, but seeing Izuku awake earlier -- exhausted and unable to stand on his feet for more than a few seconds, but awake nonetheless -- had made All Might feel marginally better.  

“He should be fine within another week or two,” said Recovery Girl, “but his ribs are my biggest concern. He can’t exert himself whatsoever if he wants to heal.”

As it was, Izuku was still sleeping soundly, soundly to the point where he hadn’t even responded to Recovery Girl setting the IV back in place.

It makes sense, All Might mused, watching his student breathe steadily thanks to the oxygen mask. His body’s completely worn out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sleeps like this for the next week.

“We’ll have to keep a careful watch over him,” Recovery Girl concluded. “In the state he’s in, he’s vulnerable to complications. If something else goes wrong, I can’t guarantee he’ll live.”

An icy dagger or fear embedded in All Might’s heart. This was the real gravity of the situation: Izuku could still die. He wasn’t out of the woods. If the oxygen mask stopped working, if he developed a fever, if Recovery Girl’s Quirk suddenly stopped healing him…

All Might shook his head. Those things were all maybes . And as long as they stayed “ifs” and “maybes” he didn’t have to think about it. They would cross that bridge when (and if) they came to it.

“I have some calls to make,” said Recovery Girl, sliding off her stool and making for the infirmary’s door again. “Stay with him while I’m gone, won’t you?”

“I will,” All Might said, nodding. Nothing could tear him from his student’s side at the moment.  


 

When Izuku awoke again, he was in pain. He’d been in pain the first time he’d woken up, too, but this was worse. His chest felt like it was burning, and his throat was tight. Besides that, his head was absolutely pounding , so much to the point where he almost couldn’t think clearly.

Where am…oh. It took him much longer than it normally would have for him to remember. Right...the U.A., in the infirmary…

Had his head really hurt this much before? No, it hadn’t. He knew it hadn’t. Maybe the first time he woke, he was still in frenzy-mode and full of adrenaline. Now that his body had the chance to wind down, he was feeling every bit of his injuries.

And it hurt. A lot .

“Young Midoriya?”

Izuku cracked his eyes open, just slightly. White blinded his vision for a moment, and when it cleared, he somehow managed to meet All Might’s gaze. His vision was blurry, though, and he couldn’t seem to focus on anything for more than a second.

There was something in All Might’s face -- worry? Fear? Concern? -- but of course Izuku was far too out of it to actually realize what it was.

“Does it hurt?” All Might asked, and then paused with a sudden frown. “Wait, that was a stupid question.”

Izuku actually cracked a small smile at that, but it quickly turned into a grimace of pain. Instantly, All Might rose to his feet and turned on his heel. “I’ll get Recovery Girl,” he told Izuku.

...Get...Recovery Girl?

“W-Wait…”

All Might barely made it two steps before Izuku reached out, somehow managing to snag his mentor’s sleeve. His grip was weak, and he knew All Might could easily pull away, but he didn’t.

“D-Don’t…” Izuku’s voice cracked. “D-Don’t...leave…”

Under normal circumstances, Izuku would have been embarrassed beyond belief -- in fact, he never would have tried stopping All Might at all. But not now. Now was different. His head hurt so bad he thought he’d pass out, and breathing was hard, even with the oxygen mask.

He didn’t want to be alone right now. He really, really, really didn’t want to be alone right now. He didn’t think he’d be able to handle it.

“Alright, alright, I’ll stay,” All Might said quickly, taking his seat once again, “just don’t push yourself, alright? You’re hurt badly, Young Midoriya. You need to give your body time to rest.”

Somehow, the logical, problem-solving part of Izuku registered this, and he nodded -- then stopped when another bolt of hot pain shot through his skull. He grit his teeth tighter and swallowed back a moan.  

“Is it your head?”

He barely jerked his head in a nod, trying to minimize movement as much as possible. Why did it hurt so badly…?

“...Just...try and get some sleep. I know it’s hard, but you need to try.”

Izuku swallowed. He tried, he really did try, but sleep just...didn’t come. It just didn’t . He was exhausted, and he knew if he slept he’d feel better when he woke up, but he just... couldn’t .

He heard the door of the infirmary open, and instantly, All Might was talking. Izuku couldn’t make out very much; just a couple of keywords, like “awake” and “pain” and “sleep,” or something or other. He cracked his eyes open long enough to see Recovery Girl fiddle with his IV -- and then, a cool and gentle but unnatural sense of unconsciousness swept over him, and the world disappeared into a black abyss.


 

“I should have been expecting it,” Recovery Girl sighed. “The boy has a concussion that’s only partially healed. I should have given him those stronger pain meds sooner…” She inspected his bandages, and All Might’s mind wandered not for the first (or final) time.

At some point, Izuku had subconsciously latched onto All Might’s hand. His grip, which had been painfully tight just moments before, was now completely limp, but All Might just...didn’t have the heart to pull away. It seemed almost cruel to.

“Well, he should be able to at least sleep peacefully now,” said Recovery Girl. “If he wakes up again and is still in pain, I’ll try upping his medication again, but I don’t want to be giving him more than he can handle, either.”

All Might only nodded. Recovery Girl watched him for a moment or two, and then sighed heavily for the upteenth time.

“You’re being awfully quiet,” she said.

The reason was a simple one. “I can’t really find anything worth saying.”

“...You’re blaming yourself for this, aren’t you?”

All Might flinched. There was something very accusing about Recovery Girl’s tone that made him uneasy. But he couldn’t deny her accusation, so he said nothing at all.

Unfortunately, his lack of answer was still answer enough. “Thought so,” said the nurse. Then, more softly, “...You know there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this, don’t you?”

“I shirked my responsibilities as a teacher,” said All Might, “when I spent the morning taking care of petty crimes instead of putting my students first. If I’d been at the USJ at the time of the attack--”

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Recovery Girl stopped him. “I meant Izuku’s character, the type of person he is. Could you, or anyone, have prevented him from doing what he did to save his classmates? Don’t you think it’s something he’d do anyway, regardless of the kind of situation he’s in?”

All Might hesitated.

“You being there wouldn’t have changed what he did,” said Recovery Girl. “If he saw one of his classmates in trouble, he would’ve plunged head-first into the danger, even if he knew it could cost him his life.”

“I was scared I wouldn’t be able to protect my friends.” That was what Izuku told All Might regarding the battle of the USJ. Regarding that moment when he’d leapt into the fray and landed a hit on Nomu to keep Shigaraki away from Asui and Mineta.

“He’s the sacrificial type,” said Recovery Girl. “If it was a choice between dying a painful, agonizing death and protecting the people he cares about...it’s obvious what he’d choose. Do you seriously believe you could have prevented Midoriya from protecting his classmates when they were in a life or death situation?”

This answer was obvious, too.

“...No,” All Might resigned, “but--”

“No ‘buts,’” snapped Recovery Girl firmly. “We don’t have time for ‘buts’ or ‘what ifs.’ The only thing we have to concern ourselves with now is making sure Midoriya rests and heals properly. And you blaming yourself isn’t going to help with either of those things.”

This was simply something All Might couldn’t argue with. Although he was sure he’d never truly stop blaming himself for this incident, he could definitely put the issue aside for the sake of his student’s health.

“Now then,” said Recovery Girl, turning from All Might and glancing at the clock hanging over the infirmary’s door, “if you’ve gotten your self-loathing out of the way, you can help me face the boy’s mother.”

All Might blanched. He had completely forgotten of this other very pressing concern.

Of course, how would Inko Midoriya react to all of this ?


 

To say Inko was panicked would have been the greatest understatement in the world.

She rushed to the U.A. in a flurry of something that far surpassed simple “panic,” her heart pounding mercilessly in her chest and her eyes stinging with tears just waiting to be shed.

Her son -- her precious, sweet, irreplaceable little boy -- was in the infirmary with grave injuries. Or, at least that’s what the U.A. nurse had told her over the phone, but Inko didn’t want to believe it. She didn’t want to believe Izuku was really hurt. She just couldn’t .

“W-Where’s I-Izuku?”

The nurse was waiting for her outside the infirmary’s doorway, and beside her stood All Might, the grand, powerful, number one hero. But Inko barely gave him a glance, her eyes glued to Recovery Girl. The nurse soon launched into a hasty explanation of Izuku’s current state.

“He suffered a concussion, but he’s healing steadily. His ribs were also damaged and are almost completely recovered. However, he’s on heavy pain medications at the moment, so--”

Inko tried really, really hard to pay attention to all the nurse was telling her, but she just couldn’t, not when her injured boy was just beyond the infirmary’s door.

Finally, the nurse stepped away and opened the door, and Inko practically flung herself through it. She felt a bit bad for abandoning Recovery Girl at first -- but then, she caught sight of her son, and all other thoughts vanished without a trace.

Her son -- her precious, oh so precious baby -- was a frightful shade of white, and he was hooked up with not only an IV, but an oxygen mask too. There were bandages around his head -- Recovery Girl had mentioned a concussion -- and…

...And he was unconscious. He didn’t so much as twitch when Inko threw herself into the room.

She made a break for the bed, collapsing to her knees just beside it, unable to stand on her wobbling legs. She reached out hesitantly, then ran her trembling fingers through Izuku’s dirty hair. His skin wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t necessarily warm, either.    

“I-Izuku…o-oh, Izuku…” He was completely out, not even responding to her gentle touches. She stroked his hair off his face, being mindful of the bandages -- behind her, All Might and Recovery Girl filed into the room.

“H-He’ll be o-okay, w-won’t he?” Inko asked fearfully, glancing briefly in Recovery Girl’s direction. She had to know. This was a question that’d been pressing in the forefront of her mind for quite some time now. She had to know. She just had to know.

The nurse smiled softly. “He’ll be fine in no time, don’t you worry,” she said. “Your son’s a fighter. The worst of his injuries have already healed. I reckon he’ll be back on his feet in no time.”

Inko sighed in relief, feeling something melt inside of her. Of course Izuku would be fine. Of course he would.

Inko honestly didn’t know what she’d do if he wasn’t.

She’d been utterly frantic when she first arrived, and some of that same panic still remained, but she had calmed down considerably since Recovery Girl’s reassurance. She felt better now, and the tension in her shoulders had loosened some.

“It’s going to be okay, Izuku,” she whispered to her son, smiling though she knew he couldn’t see it. “Y-You’re going to be okay…”


 

All Might felt like he was intruding on something private, something special between a mother and son, but he couldn’t manage to tear his eyes from the scene. He thought, for another moment, how this scene would have played out differently if…

...If Izuku hadn’t survived Nomu’s attack.

“...I take full responsibility for Young Midoriya’s injuries.”

The words had left All Might’s mouth before he even had the chance to second guess himself. Instantly, Inko and Recovery Girl were both looking at him, and he took in a breath.

“...It was my fault, I should have guided him better,” All Might said. “It was my duty to look after him, and I failed, both as his teacher and as a hero. So…I’m sorry. I am really, truly sorry.”

There were no words he could say to express just how blatantly sorry he was that this had happened, that Izuku had gotten so hurt, that the boy had been caused so much pain.

Inko blinked and stared, wide-eyed, like she was seeing him for the first time -- but then, her expression softened, and she smiled sadly.

“...My son...he’s always been like this,” she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Always putting others before himself...he’s come home dozens of times with bruises and scrapes when he was little. He didn’t care what happened to him as long as he could protect others. That’s just the kind of person he was, and still is. And...”

She glanced away, and then continued.

“And I know Izuku wouldn’t want you, or anyone else, to blame themselves.”  

All Might couldn’t argue with that -- or with any of what she said. She must have been filled in by Recovery Girl, so she knew exactly how Izuku was injured, that he’d jumped to face the villain in order to protect two of his classmates.

“...When can he leave the infirmary?” Inko asked; the question was now directed to Recovery Girl.

“I’d like to keep him for at least another four to five days and see how he does, but nothing more. At the rate he’s recovering, he should be able to leave sooner than later.”

Inko nodded. “I’d...I’d like to take him home as soon as I can,” she said. “A-At least until he’s better.”

That makes sense , thought All Might. She probably wants to make sure he heals properly before he comes back to school…

“That’s fine,” said Recovery Girl, smiling. “I’ll let you know as soon as he can go home. There’s a list of over-the-counter medications he could take for the pain, or I could prescribe something...”

While Recovery Girl went on, writing down her list, All Might’s mind wandered.

Izuku survived the fight this time, but next time…

...Next time, he may not be so lucky.    


 

Honestly, Inko had come dangerously close to just pulling Izuku right out of the U.A. for his own safety. After all, there were other superhero academies that weren’t the target of so many villains.

However, at the same time...she knew exactly what Izuku would say. She knew he would be opposed to it. She knew he was happy at the USJ, even if he always ended up in the infirmary at the end of the day.

And…

...She knew he’d also bring up the fact that two students would have been killed if he hadn’t been there. That was the truth of it: Izuku saved two lives. Two lives that would have otherwise been lost. He’d saved them, and Inko had to wonder what other lives he would save if he remained at the USJ.

She was proud of him. Terrified, but proud.

Well, I guess that’s what comes…

...With having a great hero for a son.


 

The next time Izuku awoke, it was to the sound of many whispering voices.

“Hey, ya think he’s awake?”

That voice...Izuku didn’t know who it was right away. He knew he recognized it, but--

“I don’t think so, Kirishima.”

Oh, Kirishima, right, Izuku realized. And the one scolding him is...Todoroki, I think.

“He’s really beat up.” (That was unmistakably Tsuyu’s voice.) “Don’t you think we should come back when he’s feeling a little better?”

“I don’t know…he really does look horrible, though...”

Uraraka, definitely.

“Everyone, lower your voices! This is a hospital!”

Iida’s here, too?

“It’s an infirmary, Iida.”

Kaminari? Is all of Class 1-A here?

“I see no such difference! We should remain quiet to let Midoriya rest!”

“Dude, chill.”  

“Chill? Chill?”

“Guys, I think Deku’s waking up!”

Izuku didn’t want to wake up. For the first time since he was originally injured, he wasn’t in an extreme amount of pain. Recovery Girl must be giving me a lot of medications…

He felt the IV tube against his skin.

...Through this, probably...  

“Midoriya?”

He cracked his eyes open, just barely, and was met by his fellow classmates crowding around the small infirmary bed.

They really...they really ARE all here.

...Except Kacchan…

But he wasn’t really surprised by that. Something that did surprise him, though, was the fact that he was no longer on oxygen. His chest ached, but he could still breathe.

I guess my lungs finished healing...

He sat up with difficulty, meeting each student’s eyes in turn.

There was a beat.

And then, it was like the entire room exploded. Everyone was suddenly cheering loudly and throwing their hands in the air, like they’d just finished a New Year’s Day countdown.

“He lives!” shouted Kirishima proudly, pumping his fist into the air. “You seriously freaked us out, man! Don’t do that again!”

“MIDOOORRIIYYYAAA!” Mineta cried, huge tears rolling down his face like rivers. “I T-THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAAAAADDD!”

“Are you okay? Does it still hurt?” Ochako asked, her voice nearly drowned out by everyone else.

“We were really worried,” said Tsuyu. “We’ve all been trying to visit you since the fight, but Recovery Girl kept us away--”

“SO BRAVE!” Iida was shouting now. “TO LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE FOR YOUR CLASSMATES...YOU’RE SO COURAGEOUS, MIDORIYA!”

“Seriously though, dude! We were really worried!”

“When we saw All Might carrying you...we thought...we thought you were…”

“Oy! Don’t say it! He’s fine now, see?”

“AND ME! IT WAS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO BRING THE TEACHERS TO THE USJ! IF ONLY I’D BEEN A LITTLE QUICKER, I COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS! YOU HAVE MY SINCEREST APOLOGIES, MIDORIYA!”

“What you did was seriously crazy, Midoriya,” said Jiro, “but I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Your bravery is certainly admirable,” said Tokoyami. “Doing what you did to protect Asui and Mineta took a great amount of courage.”

“MIDOOORIIIYAAAA!”

“Mineta, you have to stop wailing--”

“I-I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEEAAAD!”  

“We know, you’ve said it already…”

“You’re so courageous! I would never have had that kind of bravery!”

“I’m just relieved you’re okay, Deku. I was...really scared. We all were.”

“Yeah, man, don’t do that again! Our class seriously wouldn’t be the same without you!”

Izuku could only stare at his classmates, completely dumbfounded. He was overwhelmed, really, but not in a bad way. This was just...a whole lot to take in right after waking up.

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa--!” Kirishima suddenly exclaimed, leaping backwards with his hands outstretched. He was looking at Izuku like he was a ghost. “Dude! Hey! I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry!”

It wasn’t until now did Izuku realize that he’d started crying.

He looked down at his hands, shocked, and his tears dripped onto his knuckles and the bedsheet.

“S-Sorry,” Izuku murmured, wiping his eyes with the back of his hands. “I-I’m s-sorry, guys…”

“Midoriya, what’s wrong?” Iida inquired seriously. “Do you need us to get Recovery Girl? Are you in pain? Are we being too loud? Should we leave?”

“N-No, it’s n-not that at all,” Izuku insisted, shaking his head. “I-I just...d-didn’t realize I meant so much...to all of you.”

There was another beat.

“Wait, seriously?” Kirishima said. His shock was replaced with dumbfoundedness. “What made you think we didn’t care about you?”

“I don’t know what would make you think otherwise, Midoriya,” said Iida. “If I have done anything to make you doubt our loyalty, then I humbly apologize!”  

“You’re our friend, Deku!” said Ochako, her eyes wide with shock. “Of course we were worried about you!”

“We care about you a lot, Midoriya,” said Tsuyu.

“There are tons of people who care about you!”

“Oh man, you should have seen All Might!” said Mineta. His tears were gone, like they’d never even existed. “He went on a rampage when he found out what happened to you! It was actually pretty scary!”

Class 1-A spent the rest of the day in the infirmary, and Izuku had never felt so loved and cherished before in his life. 

Chapter Text

The next time Izuku woke up, he felt like he was burning. His skin was tingling, and his head felt lighter than ever; bile burned the back of his throat, and he couldn’t move without feeling he was going to throw up -- or pass out.

Something was wrong. Something was really, really wrong, and he knew it. He just couldn't place what was wrong.

He dared crack his eyes open. It was dark. It...must be night, he concluded, though it took more time than normal for his brain to register this fact. His head was absolutely pounding, and he swallowed thickly, trying to take deep breaths to ward off the sudden nausea.

What...what's wrong...with me...?

“Midoriya?” He heard the door of the infirmary open and close, followed by light footsteps crossing the room to his bedside. Recovery Girl. It must have been Recovery Girl, judging by how soft the footfalls were. But still, every sound felt like hot daggers in Izuku's skull, and he didn't trust himself to speak without shrieking.

It's...it's so hot...

He felt Recovery Girl's hand on his forehead. It was cold, like ice.

“Oh, poor child…” Recovery Girl sighed. “I feared this would happen…” She retracted her hand, and Izuku heard rustling beside him, followed by something like a bottle being popped open.

She's...

...What's she doing...?

Oh...

...She's...probably putting something in the IV...

His head felt like it was full of cotton. The rails of his train of thought were impaired; he couldn't think clearly anymore.

“You get the short end of the stick every time, don't you? Well...this should help you sleep, at least. That's what you need the most of right now…”

Izuku still couldn't comprehend just what was wrong with him, but he decided it didn't really matter. “W-Where's…” The word felt like sandpaper against his throat. “W-Where's All M-Might?”

“Out, at the moment. Would you like me to get him for you?”

Izuku opened his mouth to reply, then stopped; a sudden, cooling sensation rushed through his veins, and his eyes slid shut against his will. If his mind had been foggy before, it was a total white-out now.

He felt Recovery Girl's hand on his arm. “It's alright, dear, it's alright. Rest now.”

And Izuku finally parted ways with his consciousness.


“The boy's developed a fever. You need to get over here.”

That was what Recovery Girl told All Might, and that was all it took for him to race full-speed to the infirmary. It was late, and All Might had just been seeing the students off when Recovery Girl relayed her message (through a text to his phone).

This had been Recovery Girl's biggest concern, Izuku developing a fever. She had told All Might beforehand that it was a very likely possibility, considering the severe exhaustion plaguing the student's body, not to mention his injuries.

“If he gets a fever, it'll tax him even further,” Recovery Girl had said. “His body's already working overtime trying to heal itself, but if he were to get a fever on top of all that…”

She hadn't finished the sentence, but she hadn't need to, either. She'd already said all that needed to be said.

And now, Izuku had developed such a fever on top of his other injuries.

All Might flung open the infirmary's door and barged inside. The lights were out, but the moonlight streaming through the windows gave All Might all the light he needed.

“You sure got here quickly,” said Recovery Girl, sitting on a stool beside Izuku's bed. “Not that I'm complaining. He didn't say much at all, poor thing, but he was asking for you.”

All Might only had to take one glance at Izuku to determine just how badly the student was faring. His cheeks, which had before been a ghostly pale, were now flushed a dark, unhealthy shade of red, and beads of sweat rolled down his face. He’d been peaceful before, but now he was restless, his teeth clenched and his eyes squeezed shut.

“Is there something that can be done?” That was all All Might could think about. The solution. What would help Izuku now? Because if the kid’s fever went untreated…

“I gave him something for the fever through his IV,” said Recovery Girl, “but I’ve already put him on so many medications, I’m worried about giving him more. We’re just going to have to wait it out and see what happens.”

All Might didn’t want that, not at all. He was a hero ; “waiting it out and seeing what happened” wasn’t what he did . He was a man of action, a problem-solver, so going up against something that he couldn’t fix, something that he couldn’t help…

...He felt suddenly useless. Very, very useless, more useless than he’d ever felt before in his life.

“What caused the fever?”

“Exhaustion, probably,” answered Recovery Girl with a heavy sigh. “It only makes sense. I may have stretched the boundaries of how much I could heal with my Quirk, but at the same time, it’s likely he would have died if I hadn’t.”

“You did what you knew was best. You shouldn’t blame yourself.”

Recovery Girl scoffed. “That’s a lot, coming from you.” The worry returned an instant later, and she turned towards her feverish, restless patient. “I’ll do whatever I can to break his fever,” she said, “but there’s only so much I can do for him in his current state.”

All Might looked at the ailing student, something in his chest clenching -- probably his heart.

“Try not to worry too much,” said Recovery Girl. “The boy’s strong. He’ll be fine. In the meantime, we should try to be strong for him as well.”

All Might pondered this, then nodded with determination. That was something he could do. He could be strong for his student’s sake.


“Deku!”

“Midoriya!”

“Quiet down!” Recovery Girl whispered harshly, effortlessly shutting both Ochako and Iida up at once. When they had quieted, Recovery Girl’s tone softened considerably. “The boy was tossing and turning all night and only just managed to sleep peacefully. Keep your voices low.”

Ochako and Iida nodded seriously and feverishly, though their attention was now glued to their friend. It was morning now, and it had only been a matter of time before Ochako and Iida heard of Izuku’s deteriorating condition and wanted to visit. The rest of Class 1-A had wanted to come, too, but Recovery Girl forbade it. A group of loud, frenzied high schoolers would do nothing to help Izuku rest.

However, letting Ochako and Iida visit -- two of the more level-headed students of Class 1-A and Izuku’s closest friends -- was a different matter.

“D-Deku…” Ochako reached out hesitantly, brushing her fingers against Izuku’s flushed, sweaty face. Instantly, she withdrew her hand with a cry of shock. “Oh my gosh…! His fever’s really high!”

“His condition has deteriorated significantly…” Iida’s brow was pinched with concern, and he held a hand to his chin. “What’s there to be done about his fever?”

“I’m doing all I can,” said Recovery Girl, “but I can’t give him any more medications. As it is, the dose he’s getting is already pushing it.”

Iida looked down, deep in thought. “There must be some way to regulate his temperature…”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Ochako suddenly perked up, snapping her fingers. “Todoroki!” she exclaimed -- and then quieted down when she realized just how loud she was being. “T-Todoroki, right? He has a really good handle on his ice, so wouldn’t he be able to help…?”

Ah! Young Todoroki! Honestly, All Might didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it sooner. Getting Todoroki was probably the best idea any of them had had thus far.

“That’s an idea,” said Recovery Girl, and though her tone of voice remained neutral, there was definitely a glimmer of hope in her face. “Would you mind fetching Todoroki for me, you two?”

Ochako was nodding before the nurse even finished speaking. “We’ll go get him, definitely!” she said.

Iida’s hand snapped up in a solid salute. “We won’t let you down!” he said proudly, and the students sprinted off.


Usually, Iida would forbid running in the hallway as it would be “disgraceful” and “inconsiderate”, but this time, he almost encouraged it. His pace was so fast Ochako was barely able to keep up with him, and he hadn’t even activated his Quirk.

“H-Hey, Iida?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“I’m worried about Deku,” she voiced her thoughts, as she and Iida turned a corner and continued their sprint towards Classroom 1-A. “He...he took a really hard hit from that Nomu thing, and now...and now he’s like this …” She swallowed hard, her chest aching, and not just because she was running, either.

“...When All Might was carrying him, back at the USJ, I…” She paused momentarily. “...I thought he was dead. I really, honestly thought he was dead . It...it scared me. A lot.”

Iida glanced at her briefly, and then nodded. “I understand,” he said. “I, too, was terrified by it.”

“And...and until now, I thought he was...I thought he was getting better, y’know?” Ochako said. “I thought...I thought he was nearly recovered, but...it seems like he’s just...getting worse…”

Iida was quiet for a time. “Midoriya is...an extraordinary person to do what he did for Mineta and Tsuyu,” he finally said. “I’d like to say I would have done in the same in the situation, but when push comes to shove...Midoriya’s more brave than I could ever hope to be.”

“Don’t say that, Iida--”

“It’s true,” he interrupted. “And Midoriya has endured one hardship after the other and fought his way out of it. I don’t think we need to worry about him, not right now. Right now, it’s time for us to act. He risked life and limb to protect Mineta and Tsuyu...so it’s only fair we do everything in our power to ensure his recovery.”

Ochako turned away briefly, and then nodded, her resolve set. “Right,” she agreed.  


Ochako and Iida returned to the infirmary in record time. “We’re back!” the duo chorused, then stopped, panting to catch their breath.

“You brought Todoroki?” Recovery Girl inquired instantly.

The breathless students nodded and gestured wordlessly to the open door behind them.

Todoroki rushed inside…

...And then, so did Endeavor.

Although All Might had never held anything against Endeavor personally, when the number-two hero barged into the infirmary behind Todoroki, All Might couldn’t have been more frustrated. This...was really not the time. He didn’t know why Endeavor was here or what his intentions were, but this…

This was definitely not the time. Not. The. Time.

“Endeavor!” said All Might, trying to sound chipper while also keeping his voice low enough as to not wake Izuku. “What are you doing here?”

“A lot of pro heroes are surveying the school grounds,” Endeavor answered, his arms crossed firmly over his chest. “The media exploded, ranting on and on about how a student was nearly killed during the villain attack. I merely thought I’d come take a look for myself.”

Meanwhile, Todoroki ignored his father entirely and crossed the room; Recovery Girl moved forward and met him halfway to explain the situation. “His fever is already reaching a dangerous high, and I can’t do anything else to bring it down, so--”

Todoroki nodded in understanding, raised his right hand, and let it hover over Izuku’s forehead. Frost grew over his fingertips; the cool air looked like mist over Izuku’s heated skin.

“Thank you for coming so quickly and being willing to help, Todoroki,” Recovery Girl said. “I appreciate this.”

Behind her, Ochako and Iida nodded earnestly.

“It’s alright,” Todoroki said, though he sounded distracted. “You don’t have to thank me.”   

There was something very distant about the tone he used that made All Might worry. I wonder if he blames himself for what happened, All Might mused. I’ll have to talk to him later...

Endeavor watched the exchange, arms still crossed, demeanor never changing. “That’s the boy who was injured?” By the tone of his voice, he already knew the answer. He scoffed. “Pathetic, if you ask me, not being able to defend himself. I’m sure my Shōto would have done better. It really makes you wonder if the U.A.’s gone soft, letting such a weak boy attend.”

Todoroki froze; Iida’s mouth hung agape; Ochako stared in shock; Recovery Girl stopped dead in her tracks, holding a syringe; and All Might…

...Couldn’t believe it. Actually, by the looks of it, nobody in the room could believe what they’d just heard.

And then, the realization of what Endeavor had just said sunk in, and the tension in the room skyrocketed. Iida was always going on about “respecting their elders,” but he glared almost murderously at Endeavor. Ochako balled her fists at her side, visibly shaking. Recovery Girl looked like she was considering stabbing someone with that syringe of hers. Todoroki’s face was shrouded in something that could only be described as rage.

And All Might…

He was almost as furious now as he was when he first realized Izuku had been injured.

Endeavor hadn’t even even there . He hadn’t shown up until after the fight, until after the “bosses” had fled the scene, until after Izuku had been so gravely injured.

And the thing about it was, Izuku hadn’t been trying to defend himself. If defending himself was all he’d been thinking about, he wouldn’t have gotten injured at all. But no, Izuku was defending Tsuyu and Mineta . He was protecting them , and in doing so, he completely disregarded his own safety. He completely handed his own defenses to his classmates.

Endeavor…

...Had no right to say what he did .

All Might’s fists were balled so tightly it was unbelievable. He didn’t trust himself to move or speak. If he did, he’d probably end up Delaware Smashing Endeavor’s smug little face in.

Todoroki suddenly straightened up, his arms at his sides.

“Leave.”  

It was all he said, but there was so much venom and contempt behind those words that he might as well have said, “I’m going to make sure you die a slow, agonizing death.”

Endeavor stared at his son. “Shōto--”

“You have no right to say who’s ‘pathetic’ or ‘weak,’” Todoroki snarled, spinning on his heel to face his father. His eyes were narrowed, his teeth gritted behind his lips. “You weren’t even there until everything was over. You didn’t do anything , so don’t you dare mock the people who did.”

“Midoriya saved two of our classmates,” said Iida. “As far as I’m concerned, he was the bravest in our class.”

Ochako’s murderous glare explained her thoughts better than words ever could.  

“I’ll say it again, father ,” Todoroki said, but there was hint of warning behind his tone, like a silent threat. “ Leave.”

Endeavor looked from Todoroki, to Ochako, to Iida, and then to All Might. “This is disgraceful behavior,” said Endeavor. “Are you not going to stop it, All Might?”

All Might took in a breath. I can’t punch him here. Maybe some other time, when I can make it look like in accident…

“...It’s as Young Todoroki said,” said All Might instead. “Bystanders who merely watched the battle...have no right to laugh at the wounded soldiers.”

And that did it. With a huff and a monstrous glare, Endeavor spun and stormed from the infirmary, slamming the door shut behind him.


It took a long time for All Might, Ochako, Iida, and Todoroki to calm down after that; it was really Recovery Girl who, though just as furious with Endeavor as the next person, managed to stay level-headed enough to convince them that Endeavor was not their primary concern at the moment.

After that, things calmed down considerably, though All Might knew he would never truly forgive Endeavor for what he did.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Kirishima and Kaminari visited the infirmary during the lunch break, asking for an update on Izuku’s condition.

“Nothing’s changed,” Recovery Girl had told them, “but I’m confident he’ll start looking better in a day or so. You and the rest of the class can visit again then.”

Kirishima and Kaminari had nodded and raced off, though they returned a couple hours later with the same question (and Recovery Girl gave them the same answer).

All Might learned a little later on that Kirishima and Kaminari had been nominated “Official Information Gatherers on Midoriya While He’s In The Infirmary” by their class (according to Mineta, who joined the duo once). Honestly, All Might was touched by their actions. Izuku had some truly wonderful friends.

Ochako and Iida visited the infirmary one last time that evening, just before heading to their respective homes. The rest of Class 1-A took turns sticking their heads through the door and waving goodbye to the still-sleeping Izuku.

All Might sat by the stool still placed by Izuku’s bedside, the lights out and the windows closed. The room was almost completely dark, but All Might’s eyes had grown accustomed to it by now, so he could easily navigate the room. Recovery Girl had been called out on short notice to accompany a group of heroes on a mission, so other than Izuku, he was alone.

All Might may have stopped “blaming himself,” but that didn’t mean he still didn’t feel guilty, especially whenever he laid eyes on this hurt, ill-stricken student. It was at time like these he realized just how incompetent of a mentor he was, just how much more he had to learn.

He sighed. I have a long way to go, I supp--

“AHHH!”

All Might nearly jumped out of his skin when Izuku suddenly bolted upright, a harsh shriek tearing from his throat. His eyes were glassy and fever-bright, but there was an unspoken terror in them that shook All Might to his core. Almost instantly, the boy launched into a fit of coughing, bringing an arm to his mouth to stifle it. It sounded very painful.

“Midoriya!” If there was one thing All Might had been expecting, it certainly wasn’t this. A million thoughts raced through his head -- what’s wrong? What caused this? Why does he look so terrified? What? -- but somehow, he managed to put aside his shock for the time being. After all, his student was more important than his surprise.

He got up from the stool and seated himself on the edge of Izuku’s bed. “Midoriya, hey, Midoriya, try to calm down,” he instructed gently, reaching out and rubbing the boy’s back as he coughed and hacked. He wondered, briefly, if Recovery Girl should put him back on oxygen, just in case his lungs were still having trouble working on their own.  

“Breathe. You’ve gotta breathe, kid.” All Might was surprised by the steadiness of his voice, considering the situation. Admittedly, he was a little impressed by his level-headedness.   

But all thoughts disappeared when he realized, with yet another shock, that Izuku was crying. He wasn’t coughing anymore, but his sobs were just as harsh and sounded just as painful, if not more.  

“Hey. Heyheyheyheyhey, what’s wrong?” All Might asked helplessly, level-headedness gone. Not only was he an incompetent teacher, he also had no idea what to do in situations like this. Especially when he didn’t even know what was wrong . “Midoriya, my boy, what happened?”

Izuku reached up, rubbing his eyes furiously. “S-Sorry,” was all he said, and it was definitely not the answer All Might had been hoping for -- or expecting. “I-I’m sorry…”

“Young Midoriya…what are you apologizing for?” This was a curve ball if All Might had ever seen one. Izuku didn’t answer coherently, just tried (and failed) to wipe away his tears.

“I’m s-sorry, I-I’m s-s-sorry…”

All Might was at a complete loss. What to do what to do what to do what to do what to---

He didn’t know what part of him made the decision -- his head or his heart -- but he reached out and wrapped his arms tightly around the boy, bringing him in for a firm but gentle embrace. At first (though he wasn’t sure why), he expected Izuku to pull away, but he didn’t. Instead, Izuku accepted the hug, his tears flowing with fresh vigor.

All Might didn’t really know what had opted him to hug the student, he just...didn’t know what else to do. And since Izuku wasn’t coherent enough to explain just what was wrong, it left All Might to speculate.

Probably some kind of nightmare, or a fever-dream, or something…

It was the only explanation that made sense.

All Might sighed heavily, settling his hand on the back of Izuku’s head. It was ridiculous, really, just how much the boy went through on such a regular basis. With One For All backlashing on him all the time, he already had enough infirmary visits to deal with, and now to be injured during a villain attack, and then suffer even more while he was still trying to recover...

Gah, poor kid…

It really wasn’t fair.

It took a long time for Izuku to finally calm down enough to form an audible sentence, but even so, the very first thing out of his mouth was, “A-All M-Might, I’m s-sorry…f-for f-freaking out...”

“Don’t worry about it,” All Might said. “S’not your fault. Anyways, nevermind that. What’s bothering you?”

It was probably dumb to ask a concussed, feverish, scared boy “what’s bothering you,” but Izuku didn’t seem to mind. He pulled back out of the embrace, rubbing his eyes again, and All Might sat back patiently.

“I-It’s n-nothing,” Izuku murmured. “J-Just...s-some dream.”

Ah. Thought so. But All Might wasn’t proud of his prediction. “A bad dream?”

“Y-Yeah,” Izuku said, swallowing. “I-I...I d-didn’t make it in time.”

He didn’t give any more details, and he didn’t have to. All Might knew what he meant instantly.

I didn’t make it in time to save Mineta or Tsuyu. That was what his dream -- no, his nightmare -- was about.

All Might opened his mouth to answer, but Izuku started speaking before a single thing left All Might’s mouth.

“A-All Might...d-do you think...I-I’m a bad successor?”

And All Might’s mind went blank. It went completely blank . And when his thoughts began again, the only thing he could think was why? Why was Izuku suddenly asking this? Sure, the kid was timid and had a tendency to look down on and underestimate himself, so it was no real surprise he would question his worthiness, but still. Even so.

“Midoriya...why would you think that?”

“I-I…” Izuku swallowed thickly and took in a breath; it sounded like hard work. “I-I overheard E-Endeavor…”

Oh. Oh. All Might had nearly forgotten, due to all his worry over Izuku. What Endeavor said was something that couldn’t be forgiven anyway, but now All Might realized that Izuku had heard it, and now he was questioning his own worth because of it...

Endeavor was going to pay...

All Might caught himself and stomped down his fury for the time being (and it was really, really hard). Now was not the time to be angry with Endeavor.

“You weren’t sleeping, huh?” All Might managed to say, once he’d calmed down enough to speak.

“N-Not really,” Izuku admitted. “I-it was s-sort of on and off all day, a-and I didn’t hear the whole t-thing, b-but I heard enough…” He swallowed again, his fever-bright eyes glistening. “A-All Might, I...I’m sorry. I’m...I’m n-not the successor you deserve.”  

A dozen red flags went off in All Might’s head. Was this what Izuku really thought about himself? It must’ve been. Izuku was shy and timid for the most part, but he was also honest. If he said something, you could believe it.

“...’I was scared I wouldn’t be able to protect my friends,’” All Might quoted, and Izuku turned, staring at him with wide, watery eyes. “That’s what you told me, isn’t it?”

“Y-Yeah,” fumbled Izuku, “b-but--”

“Young Midoriya, you’re the most selfless person I know,” All Might interrupted, before Izuku could start trash-talking himself again. “You plunge into danger head-first without thinking about what could become of you, because you’re desperate to stop what could become of someone else. Strangers, classmates, friends...it doesn’t matter who they are. You fight to protect them, to save them. And, well, it takes a special kind of person to do that.”

Izuku blinked twice in rapid session.

“I can’t think of anyone,” said All Might, “that I would rather be my successor.”

Izuku blinked again, and this time, it was followed by another river of tears. “R-Really?”

“Really.”

Izuku opened his mouth, tried to say something, stopped, and then wiped his eyes again with the back of his hand. “T-T... T-Thank you…”

“Don’t thank me, I’m just telling it how it is,” said All Might. “...And you might want to start taking it easy on the waterworks.”

“O-Okay,” Izuku said, but his actions did nothing to back up his words. He was quiet for another moment, and then, “H-Hey, c-can...can I ask you something else?”

“Sure. Last question, though, and then you need to rest.”

“A-Are you afraid of anything, All Might?”

All Might froze. An image of Izuku, broken, limp, and bloody suddenly popped into his head.

“...Yes, my boy. I am.”  

Izuku looked so shocked it was almost comical. “Wait, really? What is it?”

All Might was quick to change the subject. “I said last question, kid, remember?”

“H-Hey, w-wait, that’s not very fair...”

“Recovery Girl wants you to rest, and she’ll hunt me down if you don’t.”

But that was only half-true. In honesty, it wasn’t Recovery Girl’s fierce protectiveness as much as it was All Might’s reluctance. The fear of Izuku getting hurt (or worse) was something All Might didn’t want to think about. It brought back a lot of unpleasant memories.

However...

“...I-It’s about me, isn’t it?”

...Izuku had always been a perceptive one.

All Might whipped around to face him, but Izuku had already turned away. The boy pulled his knees against his chest and rested his head against them, suddenly looking very small. “I...I don’t know all of what happened,” Izuku said tiredly, “but...my classmates more or less explained the gist of it. What happened, after...after Nomu attacked me. Were you...”

Izuku paused, trying to think of how to word it.

“...Were you really that upset?”  

Well, there wasn’t any hiding it now. “...Yes,” said All Might, “I was. I am . The thought of losing you...scares me to death.”    

All Might could almost see the gears turning in Izuku’s head as the boy fought to process this. “W-Wait, me?” Izuku finally asked, pointing a finger at himself.

All Might only nodded.

Izuku took in a breath, and then looked away. “I’m sorry…”

“What for?”

“For...making you worry.”

“Young Midoriya…”

There was something rising in All Might’s chest. An urge to protect, unlike anything he’d ever felt before, and this was a lot coming from the number one hero.

I wonder…

...If this is how a father feels…

“It’s alright, my boy,” All Might told him. “You don’t need to apologize for that. I’m just glad you’re safe now.”

Izuku blinked again, then nodded, though he didn’t look fully convinced. “Y-Yeah...agh…” His injuries suddenly caught up with him, and he reached up, grasping his head and hissing through his teeth.

“Okay, that’s enough,” said All Might. “You need to get some rest for now, alright? You being safe doesn’t mean anything if you abuse your body while it’s still healing.”

Izuku only nodded shakily in response, then laid down again, pulling the blanket over his shoulders. All Might watched him for another moment or so, then averted his gaze, glancing at the infirmary’s closed door.

I wonder when Recovery Girl will return…?

A sudden weight dropped against All Might’s shoulder, and he turned, a mixture of shocked and confused. Izuku had sat up at some point and was now resting his head heavily against the hero’s shoulder. “Midoriya...?”  

“S-Sorry,” Izuku said quietly, voice strained. “I’m just…”

All Might pondered his student’s actions for a moment, then smiled softly in understanding. “Still kind of freaked out about the nightmare, right?” he offered, though he knew the answer.

Izuku nodded, the movement small and hesitant. “Y-Yeah…I-I’m sorry...”  

All Might wrapped an arm around Izuku’s shoulders and pulled him closer. “I told you to stop apologizing,” he chastised softly. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have to be embarrassed about it, either.”

“...Y-You’re right…”

“Yes, I am. Now try and get some sleep.” He raised a hand, placing it firmly against Izuku’s forehead. He was genuinely alarmed by just how much heat the boy was giving off. “Ah, kid, you’re burning up…” he sighed, smoothing Izuku’s sweat-damp bangs out of his face.    

Izuku blinked blearily at him, then closed his eyes, his body relaxing as he fell asleep. All Might sighed again before reaching over and pulling the blanket around Izuku’s shoulders.

“Sleep well, my boy.”   

Chapter Text

“Dang, it’s gotta be hard to stay cooped up in the infirmary like that,” Kirishima sighed, leaning back in the classroom chair and putting his feet up on the desk. “I wonder how he’s doing…”

“Hey, Jiro,” said Sero, looking across from him at said girl, “couldn’t you just use your Quirk to listen in through the walls?”

Jiro sighed heavily, her feet also up on the desk before her. “I could,” said Jiro, “and I seriously considered it a little while back, but I figured it’d be pretty uncool to eavesdrop like that.”

“But Midoriya’s our friend!” said Kaminari, turning his chair to face the fray. “We have a right to eavesdrop if it has to do with our friend’s well-being, don’t we?”

“I suppose so,” considered Mina, tapping her chin in thought, “but when you say ‘eavesdrop,’ it makes it sound like we’d be doing some awful thing.”

“Recovery Girl said she’d let us know when we could see Midoriya,” said Momo logically from the back of the room; she’d always been the voice of reason in the class. “We should wait.”

“Gah, but still!” Kirishima groaned, digging his hands into his hair dramatically. “I’m worried about him! Even freaking Bakugō is worried about him!”

“Go die in a hole,” Bakugō snarled.

“Hey, Iida, Uraraka!” Kirishima ignored him, instead shouting over his shoulder. “You guys saw Midoriya yesterday, didn’t you? How’s he looking?”

All the focus in the room suddenly shifted to Ochako, who hadn’t said a word since arriving in class. She didn’t say anything, just looked down at her desk silently. When she didn’t answer, the class shifted to Iida, who sighed heavily.

“Last I saw, Midoriya wasn’t faring too well,” Iida said, and the rest of the class could definitely hear the worry in his tone. “He was running a high fever, and a dangerously high fever, if Recovery Girl’s franticness was any indication…”

“WHAAAAT!?” wailed Mineta, lurching forward in his seat with tears running down his face. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN!? MIDORIYA RISKS HIS LIFE TO SAVE US AND INSTEAD OF GETTING BETTER HE JUST GETS WORSE!? WHAT THE HECK IS THIS!?”

A second later, the door to the classroom opened and in walked Todoroki, the only member of Class 1-A to arrive late (or, at least to arrive late with good reason). Instantly, all eyes were on him, an unspoken question ringing through the sudden silence of the classroom.

Todoroki had been summoned by Recovery Girl earlier that morning, and since then, he’d been in the infirmary helping her keep Izuku’s temperature regulated. The students of Class 1-A had been anticipating his return ever since, and he was finally here.

“So, Todoroki…” Sero started uncertainly, breaking the silence when nobody else dared to. “...How’s Midoriya?”  

Todoroki didn’t say anything for a long time, perhaps deciding how to word it. “...He’s worse,” was all he said, before crossing the room to his desk and sitting down.

There was a beat.

And then, the entire classroom was launched into a state of total chaos.

“Waitwaitwaitwaitwait, what do you mean he’s worse!?” Kirishima exploded, jumping up from his chair.

“He’s worse?” Ochako whispered, horrified, and she and Iida exchanged a shocked, scared look. If Midoriya was seriously worse

“WHAT THE HECK, MIDORIYA!” Mineta shrieked, cupping his hands around his head. “WHAT THE HECK!!”

“Dangit, now I’m really worried!” Kaminari groaned, raking a hand through his mess of hair. “This is seriously not fair! I mean, Midoriya’s the nicest guy I know! Why him!?”

“Okay, I’m done sitting around! I’m totally breaking into the infirmary to check on him!” announced Kirishima determinedly, leaping to his feet with sudden purpose.

“You shouldn’t do that!” hollered Momo, also getting to her feet with intention of stopping him. “I’m as worried about him as you are, but if Recovery Girl thinks it best we stay away, then it’s best we stay away!”

“But he’s our friend!” yelled Kirishima, spinning on his heel to face her. “If I was hurt and scared in the infirmary, I’d want you guys to visit me! I’m sure he feels the same way!”

“Even so!” countered Momo, but she was fighting less than before. Izuku’s condition was bothering her a lot more than she let on. “We can’t get in the way of Recovery Girl’s work!”

Kirishima gritted his teeth, but that was it. He didn’t say anything after that for a long, long time.

And then…

“Wait a second.”

Everyone looked up at him again, and this time, Kirishima was grinning widely.

“I’ve got an idea.”


 

And later that day, Kirishima was sent to the infirmary for a nasty gash on his head, which he’d gotten thanks to a training exercise. Whether or not he intended to be injured remained a mystery.

It wasn’t a bad injury; he just had to go see Recovery Girl and have her kickstart the healing, that was all. Nevertheless, it was still time in the infirmary, still a couple minutes he could use to check up on Izuku.

All Might wasn’t at the school that day; he’d been called out to help handle a couple of criminal disputes and answer the media’s pressing questions concerning U.A.’s ability to care for and protect its students. That was another thing that’d been bothering Kirishima lately. The media was completely rioting , and they even made up stories and rumors, too, about what they thought had happened during the battle of the USJ.

In some of these rumors, Izuku had been murdered. In some others, he was paralyzed. Maimed. In a coma. Amnesic. Suffering serious brain damage. The list of made-up scenarios never ended, and no one knew the truth anymore.

Which was why All Might was going to clear it up.

But none of that matters, Kirishima thought, as he headed down the hallway to the infirmary. Fact is, Izuku’s alive. It’s gonna be fine.

Or, at least, that was what he told himself.

The moment he arrived at his destination, Kirishima was hit with the sudden seriousness of the situation. It was like there was an invisible wall separating the infirmary from the rest of the cheery, moving world, and the moment he crossed beyond that wall, he felt like he was in a completely different dimension.

The room was weirdly humid, and an untold gloom hung in the air like a curse. There was the smell of sickness and sweat, which quickly overwhelmed Kirishima’s senses and gave him a serious feeling of dread.

And then there was Izuku. His cheeks were a bright red, but the rest of his face was deathly pale, like a corpse, and there was a cold, wet rag on his bandaged forehead, though it didn’t seem to be doing much good. He looked like he was sleeping, sort of, but he was also restless, his teeth gritted tightly.

“Kirishima,” Recovery Girl said, spinning on her chair to face him. She paused, looking him over, specifically at the wad of gauze wound poorly around his head. She sighed. “What did you do?”

“Oh, um,” Kirishima had gotten so caught up in it all that he forgot the real reason he was here. He stepped forward, handing Recovery Girl the hall pass Aizawa had given him, “I got hit by a falling rock during a rescue mission.”  

Recovery Girl frowned at him. “...I find that rather odd, coming from you,” she said.

“Yeah, I just didn’t have time to activate my Quirk before it hit me is all,” Kirishima lied, scratching the back of his neck. Normally, he wouldn’t have been so reckless as to let himself get hurt, but the rock had been small, and he’d known it wouldn’t be able to do any real harm to him…

Recovery Girl still didn’t buy it, but she also didn’t question it. “...Take a seat beside Midoriya,” she said, gesturing to the bed beside Izuku’s, and Kirishima went and sat down instantly.

She looks worn out, Kirishima noted, taking a glance at the nurse over his shoulder while she wasn’t looking his way. Well, I guess it makes sense, considering…

He shifted his gaze from her to Izuku, and he swallowed thickly.

Dang, Midoriya…you just can’t catch a break, can you…?

“Let me see.” Recovery Girl was in front of him before he realized it, reaching up and undoing the bandages on his forehead. She inspected the gash, applied disinfectant, rewrapped it, then pressed a bottle of something into his hand. It all happened before Kirishima registered what she was doing.  

“I can’t use my Quirk on you at the moment,” she said, “but you can take these to help with the pain. Stay out of the next couple of training exercises and let me know if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, alright?”

Wow, she’s quick…

He didn’t ask why she couldn’t use her Quirk on him. It was already so obvious. Either she was saving it for Izuku, or she was out of stamina and literally could not .

“Er, Recovery Girl…” Kirishima voiced, and Recovery Girl turned back to face him. “...If possible, I’d...I’d like to stay for a while.”

Recovery Girl didn’t ask him why. This was obvious, too. “...I understand you’re worried about your friend,” she said, “but…”

“I won’t do anything to get in the way, I swear!” said Kirishima insistently. “I can help you, too! If you need someone to run and get something, or if you want a break, I can help!”

Recovery Girl only stared at him, unwavering.

“And, besides...Midoriya’s gotta...he’s gotta be really freaked out right about now, y’know?” Kirishima went on, quieting down significantly. “I mean, I know I’d be if I were in his shoes. He’s gotta be pretty scared, being hurt and sick like this. I...I want to be there for him.”

Recovery Girl’s expression softened immensely, and she sighed. “You’ll just end up getting ‘hurt’ and keep coming back if I say no, right?”

“Yeah, probably…”

“Alright,” said Recovery Girl, “you can stay for now.”

“Thanks!” said Kirishima, brightening up again. “I won’t let you down!”

“Yes, yes, I’m sure you won’t,” said Recovery Girl tiredly. “Just don't get hurt for no reason and make extra work for me anymore, alright? I’ve already got my hands full here.”

“Right, I won’t. Sorry.”

But Recovery Girl shook her head. “So long as you don’t do it again, I have no complaints,” she said. “I should have expected this kind of recklessness from Midoriya’s friends. However, you’re the only visitor I’m allowing, got that? This is still an infirmary.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“And as soon as I deem you well enough you’re leaving.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Honestly, though, Kirishima was thrilled. He’d only been expecting a mere few minutes to spend with Izuku in the infirmary, so being able to stay longer than that, even if just by a bit, was an offer he wasn’t going to pass up.


Kirishima wasn’t at all surprised when Recovery Girl left to get some rest. In all frankness, he’d been expecting it. She was running herself down trying to care for Izuku, so it was no shock.

Her initial reluctance to leave was no surprise, either.

“I’ve got this, I promise,” Kirishima had said, when she was torn between leaving and staying. “You can trust me to look after Midoriya.”

She still hadn’t looked fully convinced, but arguing with Kirishima was a losing battle, so she’d eventually given in and left for the teacher’s lounge, giving him strict orders to get her if Izuku’s condition worsened.   

So now Kirishima was alone.

He twiddled his thumbs for a while when he didn’t really know what else to do, glancing over at Izuku every now and then. It really bothered him, just how much pain Izuku seemed to be in, even while sleeping. It really, really bothered him.

Kirishima finally stood, unable to take sitting and waiting any longer, and took two steps from his bed to Izuku’s. He bit his lip, thinking for a moment, before reaching out and taking the humid rag from Izuku’s forehead. There was a basin of water on the table by the bed, and Kirishima soaked the rag, squeezed it out, and set it back on his friend’s head.

This time, Izuku stirred, just barely, and cracked his eyes open. There was no light in them, and his gaze was dazed and confused, like he couldn’t figure out what he was looking at.

“K-K-Kirishima,” Izuku hacked, then coughed, and it sounded painful.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Kirishima said instantly, keeping his voice as level as possible (which was hard considering the situation) and trying not to grimace at just how horrible Izuku sounded. “Don’t talk for now, ‘kay, buddy? You’re safe, we’ve got you. Take it easy.”  

Izuku swallowed, nodded, then closed his eyes again, dropping off to another fitful sleep. Kirishima watched him for a moment or two, then sighed heavily.

The hardest part about all of this was not being able to do more for his friend.

So he did what he could. He stayed by the bedside, rewetting the rag every so often, until Recovery Girl returned a few hours later and he had to leave for home.

After that, Recovery Girl allowed a few shorts visits from the students, one at a time and for no longer than five minutes each. But the students of Class 1-A would take it.

After all, anything was better than nothing.  


Izuku’s fever lowered significantly the next morning to relief of Recovery Girl, and when she deemed it safe for him to have more than one visitor, nearly all of Class 1-A gathered at the infirmary.

(Nearly, because, Izuku noted, Kacchan still wasn’t with them.)

Izuku was still exhausted, but he was awake and perkier than before, and he laughed with his friends as they recounted their classroom antics, more specifically a new game they started called “Who Can Get Bakugō The Angriest Without Getting Killed” (Kirishima was currently champion).

“We passed this around the class,” Tsuyu said suddenly, pulling a composition notebook from her school bag. “We knew how much you hated getting behind everyone else, so we all took turns writing notes for you.”   

“R-Really?” Izuku asked, taking the notebook from Tsuyu and flipping through it. The pages were filled, and every now and then the color of the pen changed, as did the handwriting. There were side doodles, too. Kaminari drew a stick person shrugging with a little speech bubble saying “I’ve got nothin’!” while gesturing to a math assignment; Ochako doodled a dozen or so little flowers with different colored pens and pencils; Kirishima drew himself with a garden hose spraying Bakugō; there was one page covered entirely with sparkles (no notes, just sparkles).

Side-scribbles, little comments on the different problems, tips and tricks (mostly from Iida or Momo), everything ...they’d done it all for him , and not for the first time, Izuku felt overwhelmed.

“Thank you!” he told his classmates, smiling brightly. “This is amazing!”

A chorus of “You’re welcome!”s and “It’s the least we could do!”s and “You don’t have to thank us!”s rang through the infirmary, and after some more small talk and pointless conversations, Class 1-A bid their adieus and left to finish the school day.

Izuku flipped through the notebook a little further -- then stopped when a single page caught his eye. There were no notes, no doodles; just a single, huge, bold word scrawled in black sharpie.

DIE!!!

Izuku stared at the page, then smiled softly. “I guess Kacchan does care...sort of...”


Izuku had another visitor a little later on in the day, but it wasn’t who he’d been expecting.

Izuku had expected Class 1-A to visit, but what he hadn’t been expecting was Class 1-A’s homeroom teacher to visit as well. Aizawa headed into the infirmary almost the instant the rest of the students filed out, and he seated himself on a stool by the bedside, completely silent. His face was obscured by bandages, his eyes the only visible thing, and his arm was wrapped in a secure sling.

Izuku swallowed thickly, internally grimacing. He looks really hurt…I wonder what he’s doing here…?

“Aizawa-sensei, shouldn’t you be resting?” he asked, feeling somewhat frantic by the looks of his teacher’s injuries. “Y-You shouldn’t be--”

“Midoriya, stop,” Aizawa interrupted, and Izuku snapped his mouth shut, his teeth making an audible click . He watched and waited silently with bated breath.

“I would like to apologize.”

Izuku’s eyes went wide. “W-Wait, w-w-what for?” Izuku blabbered, unable to process this information. His head was still fuzzy from fever, but he was certain he’d heard his teacher right. “I-I don’t understand--”

“You were placed under my watch, and I couldn’t protect you,” Aizawa interrupted again, shutting Izuku up once more. “If I’d been able to fight off the villains, I would have had the chance to help your friends before you got involved and put yourself in danger. And for that, I apologize.”

Izuku stared.

And then it clicked.

“B-But you did protect us!” Izuku insisted urgently, like it was a matter of life or death. “You jumped right in there when you knew how dangerous it was! If you hadn’t ...we all would’ve died! And I don’t care that I got hurt! It doesn’t matter to me--!”

“Midoriya.”

Staying silent was getting increasingly hard to do, but Izuku shut his mouth anyway.

“You’re still a child,” said Aizawa firmly in a voice that left no room for argument. “Laying down one’s life is all part of being a hero, and I’ve come to live with it, but you, a student, shouldn’t have been in a position to do that. Your future, and often times your life, depend on how well us teachers guide and protect you.”

Izuku still didn’t speak, but he nodded.

“Accept my apology,” said Aizawa. “I don’t want you to argue again.”

Izuku nodded once more, more feverishly this time. “Y-Yes, sir,” he said. “And I’m--”

“If you’re gonna apologize, don’t. You’ve got nothing to be sorry for.”

And Izuku snapped his mouth shut again.   

“I wanted to talk to you about something else,” Aizawa went on. “I’m sure you’re well aware of our annual sports festival, correct?”

Instantly, the entire mood of the conversation shifted, and Izuku beamed. “Y-Yeah, of course!” he exclaimed brightly. “What about it?”

Aizawa sighed. “Ever since the attack of the USJ,” he said, “there have been conflicting opinions on whether or not to hold it. Naturally, if it’d just been a fruitless villain attack with no student casualties, there wouldn’t be a problem. However…”  

Izuku caught on quickly. “There’s me,” he said, his tone lowering considerably.

“Yes,” Aizawa confirmed. “Since you suffered the most from the attack, I wanted to ask for your opinion on the matter personally. I spoke with the other teachers, and we all thought it best to leave the final decision to you.”

“The final decision...on whether or not to still hold the festival?”

“Yes.”

Izuku swallowed hard. He’d always loved watching the sports festival when he was growing up, so he couldn’t imagine not doing it, but on the other hand, he understood where the U.A. staff was coming from. That, and the reports on the situation were probably insane . Knowing the media, they’d probably spread rumors, horrible rumors, about the teachers, the U.A.’s security, everything

But at the same time…

...The villains were watching the U.A.’s every move, too…

“I...I think we should do it,” Izuku finally said, once he was done thinking it over. “If the villains see us backing down...they could see it as a weakness and try attacking again.”

Aizawa nodded. “Make sure you’re sure. This is your decision, remember.”

“I know,” said Izuku, “and I’ve made up my mind.”

Aizawa nodded again. “Alright,” he said, rising to his feet. “I’ll inform the other teachers. Even so, we’ll have to postpone the festival for a couple more weeks.”

“Why?”

“I’m sure you want to attend, do you not? And knowing Recovery Girl, she isn’t going to let you unless she knows you’ve had plenty of time to heal.”

“O-Oh, right!” said Izuku, suddenly relieved that his teacher had thought that far ahead. Honestly, through his excitement, Izuku completely forgot the throbbing pain in his head, or the dull haze of fever. “Thank you, sensei!”

Aizawa looked away. “Just don’t be reckless, alright?”

“Right, I won’t!”

“I have a hard time believing that, coming from you.”

Izuku smiled. That was fair enough.


Bakugō was going to freaking murder somebody.

There were the villains at the USJ, who of course caused a lot of problems for the teachers and went after his idiot classmates -- and himself, too, but he could take care of himself. No, it was those said idiot classmates of his that he was worried about. He’d been able to fight off the villains, and apparently, the rest of the students hadn’t done too shabby themselves.

And then there was Deku.

Frickin’ Deku .

Ooooh, Bakugō was going to kill him…

After school, he went to the infirmary, when he was sure no one else would be around. Stupid, idiot, useless Deku, the one to stand up to the boss villains and protect Mineta and Tsuyu. Everyone called it an act of heroics, and Bakugō would be lying if he said he thought otherwise.

(Of course, though, he could convince people he thought otherwise.)

Deku was an idiot. A freaking idiot, and that was something that never changed in Bakugō’s book. Deku was an idiot. A stupid, useless idiot .

And yet, when it came down to the wire, Deku had saved two of his classmates.

Frickin’ Deku.    

So yeah, Bakugō was about ready to murder somebody. He wasn’t sure who it was, but it was going to be somebody. Maybe the villains. Yeah, he could murder the villains...or Endeavor, who was just asking for it…

Speaking of Endeavor, the entire class knew about his skirmish in the infirmary, and while everyone was as furious with him as furious got, they were more impressed by Todoroki and All Might’s responses to it all.

“Oh, man! Throwin’ down some sick burns!” Kaminari had exclaimed, when Iida recounted the encounter. “I wish I’d’ve been there! I would’ve said something awesome!”

“It’s a good thing Bakugō wasn’t there,” said Sero, “or he would’ve thrown down some literal sick burns, am I right, Bakugō?”

“Screw you.”

But yes, it became something of a legend within Class 1-A, and yeah, Bakugō hated Endeavor with passion, and he wasn’t even sure why. That was the real problem with all of this. He didn’t know why he wanted to murder Endeavor, or why he wanted to make those villains pay, or why he was even going to the infirmary to see stupid, useless Deku.

It wasn’t like they were friends. They weren’t even really rivals. And Bakugō wouldn’t call them enemies, either.

Honestly, he didn’t know what Deku was to him. He’d always seen Deku as a worthless nobody who’d never amount to anything, so why…

Why did he care?

He reached the infirmary and stood there before the closed door, glaring up at it like it was some kind of monster. Then, he raised one foot, swung around, and kicked the door open.

Deku was sitting against the headboard of the infirmary bed, flipping through a notebook, which he quickly dropped with a yelp at Bakugō’s sudden entrance. For a couple seconds, he stared at Bakugō with a confused look, and Bakugō stared back at him with a scowl.

There was a beat.

“K-Kacchan!” Deku stuttered, tripping over his own words. He picked up the notebook and set it aside quickly. “W-What are you doing here?”

Bakugō clenched his teeth.

Why am I even here?

What am I doing?

We aren’t friends. I shouldn’t care about you.

I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t care--

“Just what did you think you were doing, you frickin’ nerd?” Bakugō growled, his hands balling into fists at his sides. “Jumping in there like some stupid hero... you…”

Frickin’ Deku.

“YOU DON’T GET TO DIE!!” Bakugō exploded at him, suddenly very furious. “YOU GOT THAT, YOU FREAKING NERD!? YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SACRIFICE YOURSELF LIKE THAT!!”  

Deku stared at him, eyes wide. He didn’t move or say anything, so Bakugō ranted on.

“YOU’RE AN IDIOT!” Bakugō shouted. “YOU’RE A FRICKIN’ IDIOT! JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?”

We’re not friends. I don’t care.

“YOU’RE USELESS, YOU’RE DEKU , SO...SO WHY... WHY WERE YOU THE ONE WHO SAVED THEM!?”

Deku only continued to stare, looking more shocked than anything.

“DON’T DO IT AGAIN, YOU HEAR ME!?” Bakugō screeched. “DON’T YOU FRICKIN’ DO IT AGAIN!! IF YOU ALMOST DIE LIKE THAT AGAIN, I’LL KILL YOU, YOU GOT THAT!?”

Because it’d scared him. When Izuku got hurt, it’d really scared him. No matter how many times he lied to himself and to the others around him, this fact remained valid.

Just because they weren’t friends didn’t mean Bakugō didn’t care.

Deku swallowed, blinked, and then, he finally relaxed, a... happy expression replacing the former shock. And after that, he finally spoke.

“...Okay,” he said. “I’ll...try not to put myself in a situation like that again.”

Bakugō exhaled sharply through his nose, like a bull ready to charged. “You’d better not, you freaking idiot,” he snapped.

That was the last thing he told Deku before storming out of the infirmary, his hands still balled into tight fists and his teeth still clenched. His fury wasn’t gone, not by a long shot, but now that he’d gotten yelling at Deku out of the way, he could actually do something about it.

Now, who was he angry at again…?

Oh, right, Endeavor.

...

Yeah, someone was gonna die.


Class 1-A made it their job to make Endeavor’s final days patrolling the U.A. a living hell. Bakugō hadn’t recruited them; no, they’d made the decision themselves. They didn’t care about the consequences, or even if it’d guilt their conscience. They were going to go all-out at the man who said such horrible things to their friend.

Mina’s acid was slippery on the long hallways of the U.A.

Tsuyu’s toxin only stung a bit, but was really, really annoying when it was in someone’s clothing and said someone wasn’t aware of it.

Sero’s tape made great trip hazards.

Ochako was brilliant at assisting others on making quick escapes from the scene. That, and her zero gravity was convenient for dropping small objects on someone’s head.  

Todoroki’s ice made an epic slip-and-slide, and he could make the layer thin enough so it went unseen by the naked eye.

Kirishima was great at distractions.

Kaminari could short-circuit the U.A. system and make the lights go out for a time.

Bakugō was...well, Bakugō.

Aoyama’s very presence was enough to irritate anybody.

Mineta could put some of his sticky ball-things in shoes and on other convenient things -- like door handles.

Ojiro could set traps and escape almost immediately afterwards.

Shoji, Hagakure and Jiro made great spies.

Kouta could make bugs and rodents trail a certain somebody.   

Sero was great at distractions while others made getaways.

Meanwhile, Iida, Momo and Tokoyami worked behind the scenes, making plans, giving directions, and (in Momo’s case) supplying extra gear when needed.

And when Endeavor noticed a lot of “unfortunate, unexplainable, odd-goings-on,” he brought it to the teachers’ attentions and told them that their students were out of hand, and that “being disrespectful to their elders was something that shouldn’t go unpunished.”

But the teachers told him he was being too suspicious and ignored everything he had to say afterwards

(They, of course, were well aware of Endeavor’s visit to the infirmary and were on the students’ side.)   

 

Chapter Text

All Might returned to the infirmary just as Recovery Girl was checking Izuku’s temperature with a digital thermometer. It was night now, and the rest of the U.A. students had left for home about an hour ago. All that remained were a few teachers, a couple heroes doing a night patrol, and of course, Izuku and Recovery Girl in the infirmary.

Izuku was still awake and lying down, but there were bruise-like rings beneath his eyes that didn’t go unnoticed by All Might. The boy brightened up considerably when All Might entered the room (in his true, weaker form, of course).

“All Might!” Izuku said, just as Recovery Girl took the thermometer from him. “You’re back!”

“Yes, I’m back,” said All Might. Honestly, he was touched by this more than he let on, just how excited and thrilled Izuku was at his returned. Of course, there were tons of people who got excited whenever they saw All Might, but here and now, All Might was his true self, not the strong, invincible hero the world knew him as.

Izuku was happy to see him when he was at his weakest, not as the invincible hero, and this meant a lot to All Might.

“How’re you feeling, kid?” All Might asked.

“Oh, I’m okay,” said Izuku, looking like he hadn’t been expecting the question. “I can’t sit up without getting dizzy, but I feel better than before, so…”

“Good,” said All Might. “That’s good.” He looked to Recovery Girl, who was writing something down on her chart. “How’s his fever?”

“Almost completely gone,” said Recovery Girl, her tone lighter than ever before, which led All Might to believe that Izuku had made great progress since last he’d been here. “I expect his temperature to be back to normal by tomorrow.”

Well, that was a relief. Honestly, All Might had been pretty panicked about the boy’s fever, especially when it got worse.

“What did the media want?” Izuku asked him out of the blue, and All Might pulled up the stool and sat down on it.

“Nothing important,” said All Might. “It was mostly them asking the same questions over and over. I told them that you were alive and recovering, and that was all.”

Izuku nodded, didn’t say anything.

The media was so obnoxious , specifically all the rumors they spread regarding the U.A. and its “inability to protect its students.” It was really, really annoying, and it was really hard to keep that annoyance down while he was answering their questions.

But he’d managed it, and the media was satisfied, though he was sure the rumors would only continue to spread like wildfire.

“I’m going to check your head for a moment,” said Recovery Girl to Izuku, setting down the thermometer and coming to his bedside. “I took your stitches out a few hours ago, but I want to make sure everything checks out okay.”

“Okay,” said Izuku, and Recovery Girl began unwinding the bandages.    

She’d stitched up the head wound when Izuku was first brought into the infirmary and used her Quirk to kickstart the healing process, so his concussion was healing steadily. It would still take time, though, given Izuku’s current stamina (he actually didn’t have any).

And those dark rings beneath his eyes were really starting to bother All Might, too…

Recovery Girl removed the final layer of bandages and unveiled what was beneath. There was no blood, no open-wound, nothing like that; all that remained now of the boy’s head injury was a long, jagged, prominent white scar on his hairline.

But All Might cringed anyway.

A scar. It’d scarred. It only made sense, of course, for such a serious injury. It had been too much to hope Izuku would come out of it without any permanent damage.

But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt , because it did. Izuku would have that scar for the rest of his life, and every time All Might saw it, he would be reminded of the battle of the USJ, be reminded of the fact that he hadn’t been able to protect his student--

All Might shook his head, breaking that thought process. He didn’t need to think along those lines. Not now, not anymore, not when Izuku was nearly healed.

“Well, Midoriya, it’s safe to say the road to recovery is almost over,” said Recovery Girl, smiling softly and setting the bandages on the side table. “I’m going to keep you overnight just to be sure, but I’m certain you’re fine. Just don’t do anything reckless too soon, alright? Your ribs are still fragile.”

Izuku nodded feverishly in understanding. “I’ll be careful,” he said. “Thank you for everything.”

Recovery Girl waved a hand idly. “Just doing my job, child,” she said, and then went on, “I spoke with your mother earlier today. She’s coming to pick you up in the morning.”

Izuku nodded again.

“Now, I want to warn you,” said Recovery Girl, her tone suddenly much more serious, and Izuku watched and listened intently. “You took a real hit from those villains, and it’s going to take a while before you start feeling like your old self again. It’s going to be hard, so don’t get too frustrated with yourself, alright? Head injuries are tricky things.”

Izuku turned away, suddenly looking uncertain. “I understand…”  

“But,” said Recovery Girl, her tone becoming upbeat once again, “I hear the sports festival is in a few more weeks. You should be healed by then.”

The entire mood changed for the better, and Izuku beamed excitedly. “T-Thank you!” he exclaimed, his eyes more alive than they’d been in a while.

“Try not to be too extreme,” said Recovery Girl, though her voice remained optimistic. “Once you’re home, make sure to get plenty of rest and take it easy. I’ll speak with your mother, too.”

Izuku nodded yet again for what seemed the upteenth time.

Recovery Girl turned, glancing at the clock over the door. “It’s late, child,” she said, moving towards her desk and pulling another roll of gauze from her drawer. “I’ll wrap your head again, and then I want you to try and get some sleep, alright?”

Another nod from Izuku.

It took no time at all for Recovery Girl to rewrap Izuku’s head, after which Izuku thanked her for the upteenth time. After that, it took even less time for Izuku to fall asleep once more.

As soon as he was certain the student was sleeping soundly, All Might fired off the pressing question that’d been on his mind since he walked into the infirmary:

“Is he sleeping alright?”

Recovery Girl sighed heavily, then shook her head. “No, he’s not,” she said. “When he first got here, I overtaxed his body to heal his insides, so he was completely worn out, but now that he’s regained some awareness and his body’s nearly healed...it’s coming to grips with the reality of what happened, and...”

“...Nightmares?”

“Flashbacks, more like. The result of post traumatic stress.”

Post traumatic stress. Post traumatic stress . It wasn’t uncommon for pro heroes to experience PTSD, so it wasn’t a new concept to All Might, but this was the first time the concept had ever hit so hard .

Because Izuku was...he was…he was still just...

...A child.

“I’ve only noticed it when he’s sleeping, so it could easily be mistaken for nightmares,” said Recovery Girl, breaking All Might from his thoughts, “but it definitely has to do with traumatic stress, and he’s losing a lot of sleep because of it.”

Losing sleep. PTSD. The scar.

And All Might was blaming himself again. How could he not? Izuku was his responsibility, not just as a teacher at U.A., but also as Izuku’s mentor, and as a hero, too. This could have been prevented. It all would have been prevented if All Might had just arrived at the scene a couple seconds sooner.

“Is there something we can do?” All Might had asked the question at least a billion times already, but he didn’t know what else to say.

“I haven’t told him this yet,” said Recovery Girl, “but I’ve been giving him something through his IV to help him sleep. I was trying to stay away from any more medications since I’ve already given him so many, but he can’t lose sleep over this. He’ll end up getting another fever, and the cycle will only continue from there.”

A dozen mental red flags shot up in All Might’s mind at the word “fever,” and he nodded in agreement to Recovery Girl’s decision. It was the best thing for Izuku right now.

“I’ll speak with his mother about this, too,” said Recovery Girl. “I’m going to prescribe a sleeping aid so he has something when he’s at home. That, and another pain medication. He’s been on pain meds almost ever since he got here, so I don’t know how much pain he’ll be in when he’s off it.”

All Might nodded again.

“I think he’ll be more comfortable once he’s home,” Recovery Girl went on. “He’ll automatically feel more relaxed once he’s in an environment he’s familiar with.”

A small part of All Might thought, He’s probably just as familiar with the infirmary nowadays, but of course he didn’t say it out loud. It hurt enough already.  

“And he’ll have his mother, too,” Recovery Girl added. “I’m sure he’ll feel better once he’s home with her, and I know she’ll feel better to have him back as well.”

All Might nodded once again, though he still didn’t say anything.

Recovery Girl sighed suddenly, turning to face him. “You could say something, you know,” she said.

“Sorry,” said All Might heavily. “There’s not much to say, if I’m honest…”

“Well, so long as you’re not blaming yourself again--” (She said the words like she already knew that was exactly what he was doing) “--I have no complaints. His mother will be here tomorrow morning to pick him up. You can stay with him until then. I have to write out the prescriptions.”

She left to do exactly that, and All Might stayed in the infirmary with his sleeping student.     

He’d never stop blaming himself. This was a realization that didn’t really hit him until now. No matter how much time had passed…

...He’d always take full responsibility for this entire situation.


 

Izuku’s mother arrived just as the first rays of morning sunlight stretched across the city. Izuku was already awake and sitting up, waiting the time of departure. Recovery Girl had removed his IV earlier that morning, and the only thing that remained now were the bandages around his head.  

“We’re meeting your mother in front of the school,” Recovery Girl informed the boy, grabbing a couple slips of paper off her desk. “I’ll bring up a wheelchair for you--”

But Izuku shook his head, ignoring the small dizzy spell that followed. “N-No, I can walk,” he said.

All Might (currently in his “hero” form) and Recovery Girl exchanged glances, then turned in unison to face him again. “Are you sure?” said Recovery Girl, and then, in a much more stern tone, “If this is you trying to put on that ‘tough guy’ act...”

“No, it’s not that,” Izuku insisted earnestly. “I just...want to talk on my own. That’s all.”

It was true. He wasn’t trying to act tough or deny his own weakness (even though it was something he’d seriously considered). He just wanted to walk on his own. He missed it, and he figured if he could walk on his own, it would be at least one step (literally and metaphorically) towards getting back to his normal routine.

“...Well, alright,” said Recovery Girl, “but if you change your mind, that’s alright, too. You were gravely injured. No one would blame you.”

Izuku nodded in agreement. He knew this.

“I’m going to go meet with your mother,” said Recovery Girl, making for the door. “Take your time.”

And she left, leaving Izuku and All Might in her wake. There was a beat of silence or two, and then All Might stood, clapping his hands together once.

“Alright, Young Midoriya,” said All Might. “Are you ready?”

Izuku nodded. He hadn’t been home for a while, and he missed it. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, took a breath to steel himself, and stepped down.

Unfortunately, he overestimated himself, and the instant his feet touched the ground, his vision spun nauseatingly, and black spots danced before his eyes. Before he even registered what was happening or had the chance to try steadying himself, his knees buckled, and he pitched forward.

All Might seemed to be expecting this, and he reached out, catching Izuku by the shoulders before he hit the ground. “Easy, kid,” he said. “Take it slowly at first, alright?”

Izuku nodded, swallowing back his nausea. He really should have realized this earlier on. Of course walking would be difficult. He felt incredibly stupid for not thinking this through before.

“S-Sorry, I’m alright now,” he said, straightening up again; it was hard work. “Just...wasn’t expecting that…”

“Are you sure?”

Izuku nodded.

All Might didn’t look convinced, but he knew better than to argue with Izuku. The boy was rational, but he was also stubborn when he wanted to be. “Alright,” All Might said, “but warn me if you think you’re gonna collapse again, okay?”

Izuku nodded. It was a fair request.

Walking took more out of him than Izuku had ever hopped, and All Might had to catch him more than once. Izuku still didn’t give up, though; he wasn’t going to give up on something as simple as walking. It felt so pathetic…

But that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard, because it was. It was really hard. He felt short of breath the entire time, and his head felt too light. There were a couple times he was sure he’d black out or throw up.

Before he even realized it, he’d somehow managed to make it outside the U.A. (mostly thanks to All Might, who steadied the boy constantly and made sure he didn’t faceplant the floor).

“Izuku!” a very familiar voice shouted, and Izuku raised his head.

“M...Mom…” he panted.

Inko abandoned her conversation with Recovery Girl and made a break for her son, enveloping him into her arms the instant she reached him. Izuku leaned into her embrace and hugged her back, tears burning his eyes.

He was happy to see her again. He was really, really, really happy to see her again. Her touch was always comforting, and he didn’t realize how much he’d missed it until now.


 

Izuku didn’t really remember much after that. He slept all through the drive home from U.A., and after that, his mother helped him inside, where he collapsed on the couch and slept until the next morning. It was frustrating, really, how something as simple as walking could take so much out of him.

“You took a real hit from those villains, and it’s going to take a while before you start feeling like your old self again. It’s going to be hard, but don’t get too frustrated with yourself, alright? Head injuries are tricky things.”

Recovery Girl’s words had seemed easy enough, but it were easier said than done. Even though Izuku knew he’d been gravely injured by the villains, and he knew it would take time to recover, and he knew there was nothing he could do about it, the knowledge didn’t make him any less frustrated with himself.

He slept almost all through the day after that, too, waking up long enough to eat something and take the medications his mother pushed at him. He was exhausted, and finally being home after being in the infirmary for so long was a huge comfort.

After being on oxygen and an IV for days on end, after sleeping on a hospital bed, after seeing nothing but white floors, walls, and ceilings…

He was home.

He had a little more energy the day after that, though he still couldn’t bring himself to actually get up and do anything for more than a few seconds. He still got tired easily, so he stayed on the couch, where his mother could watch over him and he could watch TV if he was bored.

(He still didn’t watch TV, though, because all the media was concerned about was the “U.A. student who was almost murdered by villains,” and Izuku didn’t want to hear about the incident ever again.)

He took his phone off the coffee table and turned it on for the first time since being home. Instantly, dozens notifications popped up on the screen.

You have (57) unread messages.

Izuku blinked. Fifty-seven was a big number.

He opened his messenger and scrolled through them.

Iida: Hello, Midoriya! I apologize for bothering you while you’re home recovering, but I wanted to let you know that if you ever get lonely or need someone to run an errand, let me know! I’m here to help! Make sure you get plenty of rest, and don’t do anything strenuous!

Izuku smiled, touched, and moved on to the next one:

Uraraka: Hi Deku!! Sorry for bugging you. It’s ok if you don’t respond, I know you’re probably really tired. But I was thinking about you, so I wanted to say hi. :) Get better soon!!

He smiled at that one, too. The next message was from an unknown number, which confused him, but he read it anyway.

Unknown: Hey dude, this is Kirishima! I stole your number from Mr. Class President (jk he gave it to me). Hope you don’t mind. Just wanted to say hey, and that you’ve gotta get better soon! The class is so weird without ya! :D :D :D :D

Izuku hadn’t expected a text from Kirishima, and after adding his classmate’s number to his contact list, he went on.

Unknown: Midoriya, this is Tsu. Uraraka gave me your number. Thanks for what you did for us at the USJ.

It was short and simple, straight to the point. Izuku added Tsuyu’s number to his phone, too, and then kept reading.

Unknown: This is Todoroki. Iida gave me your number. I’d like to formally apologize for what my father said in the infirmary. He had no right to say what he did, and I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I hope you’re recovering well.

Izuku hadn’t really expected Todoroki, either, but he smiled and kept reading.

He got at least two texts from every single person from Class 1-A, and honestly, this meant a lot to him. The concept of friends was still relatively new to him, and suddenly having so many who all cared about him and loved him was just... special.

He wanted to respond to each message in turn, to tell everyone just how much he appreciated them checking up on him and giving him their support, but his eyes were beginning to feel heavy, and he knew he didn’t have time to reply to everyone individually, so he did the next best thing.

He made a group chat with everyone in Class 1-A and sent one general message:

Izuku Midoriya: Thanks for all your texts, you guys. I don’t think I can respond to each of them right now, and I’m sorry, but I wanted to say that I really, really appreciate it. You guys are the best. I’m feeling a little more like myself, just tired, but I’m getting better, so hopefully I’ll see you all at school soon. :) Thanks again. I really appreciate it. Sorry for not responding sooner.  

He sent the message and leaned back, shutting his eyes.

And then, his phone dinged once, then twice, then thrice and onwards, and Izuku looked at his phone and read through the onslaught of new messages.

Kirishima: Dude! It’s great to hear from ya!! :D :D :D

Iida: You have nothing to be sorry for, Midoriya! I’m glad to hear you’re recovering! Make sure you take it easy!

Tsuyu: You’re welcome, Midoriya.

Mineta: Yaaaaaaay!! :) :) :)

Kacchan: Jeez. All this sentimental crap is making me sick.

Kaminari: Who let Bad-Tempered McSplody onto the group chat?

Kacchan: SAY THAT TO MY FACE, I DARE YOU.

Kirishima: Ooooh boy…

Yaoyorozu: You don’t have to thank us, Midoriya. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

Ashido: Whoop whoop!! Can’t wait to have you back, Midori! :D :D :D

Jiro: No prob, Midoriya. Let us know if you need anything.

Sero: Jiro’s right! If there’s anything you need, be sure to let us know! We’ll take care of it!

Shoji: Take all the time you need to get better, Midoriya. Don’t feel pressured to text us back. If you need to rest, rest.

Iida: REST IS ONE OF THE MOST VITAL THINGS TO ENSURE A QUICK RECOVERY!!

Kirishima: Enter Class Rep, now taking on the role of Class Mom.

Class Mom: I don’t understand.

Class Mom: Alright, which one of you changed my name? This isn’t funny.

Kaminari: Class Mom LOL XD XD XD Surprisingly fitting tho.

Todoroki: It’s good to hear from you, Midoriya. And you’re welcome.

Tokoyami: No thanks necessary, Midoriya. We’ll continue taking notes for you until you return to class.

Uraraka: Aww Deku!! You don’t have to thank us!! You’re our friend! We’re glad to help! :) Let us know if there’s anything else we can do, ok??

Sato: Make sure you don’t do anything crazy, alright? Knowing you, you’ll do something reckless before you’re ready for it and damage your body again.

Kirishima: You hear that, Midoriya? NO CRAZY STUFF!!!  

Hagakure: That’s right! You need to take time to heal!

Aoyama: I will be in charge of taking your notes while you are away!

Kaminari: Oh no, not you…

Ojiro: Take care of yourself, Midoriya!

Koda: :)

Kacchan: I don’t really care what you do, stupid Deku.

Koda: :(   

Kirishima: DagNABIT BAKUGO YOU RUINED THE MOMENT!!! >:(

Kaminari: Seriously though, who the heck invited Blasty McSplody into the group chat?

Blasty McSplody: I’LL END YOU ALL!! DON’T THINK I WON’T!!

Blasty McSplody: OKAY WHICH ONE OF YOU FRICKIN IDIOTS CHANGED MY NAME!?!?!?!? I’LL KILL YOU!!

Kirishima: Abort, abort, abort!!

Izuku couldn’t help but smile, and even laugh, if slightly. His friends were insane, each and every one of them, but he loved them. He’d never had real friends before, and he’d never give up the ones he’d made for the world.

Izuku Midoriya: Thanks again, you guys. I’ll talk to you later.

That was Izuku’s last message before he set his phone down (ignoring the next few times it dinged), closed his eyes, and fell asleep.


 

Izuku woke up screaming.

His heart felt ready to leap out of his chest, and his breath came in great, heaving gasps. His head spun, and for an instant, he was sure he’d throw up, bile burning the back of his throat threateningly.

He raised his hands, scrubbing his eyes furiously. A mixture of sweat and tears rolled down his face, plastering his bangs to his forehead, and his hands were clammy, like he’d dunked them in cold water a few seconds prior.

His head hurt, too. A lot.

To his left, a door creaked open. “Izuku?” His mother’s voice was quiet and uncertain, but full of concern. Izuku turned; his vision tilted for a moment, but eventually, his mother’s features swam into view. She looked a combination of exhausted and worried, something that Izuku had seen quite often as of recent.

Izuku swallowed thickly, but didn’t trust himself to speak. He brushed his tears off his face feverishly, hoping his mother didn’t notice he was crying.

“...Are you okay?” she asked slowly.

It was a question, but Izuku could already tell his mother knew he wasn’t okay at all. He shook his head feverishly with a cracked, broken, “N-No.” He didn’t have the heart to lie to her, not after everything he’d put her through, and either way, he knew she’d find him out.

She crossed the room. Her fingers brushed through his hair. “Hang tight, I’ll get your medicine.”  

A nod was his only response, and she left for the kitchen. Izuku buried his head in his hands, trying to mask his tears and also somehow stop the vicious pounding in his skull. He felt weak, his limbs heavy, and there was a fog shrouding part of his mind; thinking was hard.

“Izuku, here.” A soft hand touched his shoulder; Izuku hadn’t even noticed his mother returning. With shaking hands, he accepted the small glass of water and the pills (there were four total), swallowed them, then handed the empty glass back to his mother.

“Thank you,” he whispered breathlessly, rubbing at his eyes with his knuckles again.

“It’s alright, you don’t have to thank me,” his mother said, running her fingers through his hair again. “Do you want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?”   

Izuku took one look at the dark rings beneath his mother’s eyes and shook his head feverishly. “N-No, I think I-I’ll be okay.” The last thing he wanted was to burden her further.  

His mother bit her lip uncertainly. “Are you sure?”  

He nodded, then stopped when his head spun nauseatingly again.

“Alright,” his mother said, kissing his bandaged forehead gently. “Hollar for me if you need anything, okay?”

“Okay,” Izuku agreed, and his mother rose to her feet and left for her bedroom once again. Izuku waited until he heard the click of the door closing behind her before leaning back with an exhausted sigh, draping an arm over his watering eyes.

He didn’t get it. At all. He was home recovering now, and Tsuyu and Mineta were fine, they were fine, so why…

Why did the incident still haunt him like this?

He swallowed, trying to rid himself of the lump in his throat to no avail, then turned his gaze towards the coffee table. His phone sat there innocently, untouched since earlier that day.

He hesitated, just for a second, before reaching and snatching it off the table. This is stupid, he told himself, as he turned on the device and began scrolling through his contacts. What am I doing?

The digital clock on his phone read 2:41 AM.

...This is stupid...

His thumb hovered over the “Call “ option momentarily before tapping it.

This is so stupid…

He held the phone to his ear.

I’m…

...Pathetic…

“Young Midoriya?”

“H-Hey, All Might,” Izuku said uneasily, fiddling with the edge of his blanket. All Might’s voice was as level as ever, if not a bit surprised. “S-Sorry for calling so late…”

“It’s alright, kid, no worries,” All might said breezily. “I happened to be awake.”

Izuku swallowed again, rubbing his temple with his free hand; it would be a while before his medication kicked in, so until then, he would just have to deal with the constant throb in his head.

“What are you doing up at this hour?” Izuku asked. Anything to keep off the subject of his nightmare was good. “S-Shouldn’t you be asleep…?”

“So says the person also up at this hour who should also be asleep,” was All Might’s reply, and though there was mirth in his tone, Izuku could also sense concern. “Seriously though, kid, what’s up?”

“N-Nothing, I-I just…” Izuku paused, suddenly regretting his decision to call his mentor. “I-It’s stupid...i-it’s really, really stupid…”

A part of him wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of it a. Just how pathetic am I?

“It’s not stupid, Midoriya,” All Might said firmly. “Whatever’s bothering you, it’s not stupid.”

Izuku swallowed once more, then gave up. He’d already made his bed; now was time to lie in it. “I...I-I just...had a bad dream…”

Saying it out loud made him feel even more stupid.

“S-S-Sorry, I-I know it’s dumb,” Izuku backtracked frantically. “I-I told you it was stupid, didn’t I?”

“Midoriya--”

“I-I’m sorry for calling,” Izuku rambled on, his mind overloading with a dozen feelings -- mostly embarrassment, though. “I-I’ll just hang up now--”

“Young Midoriya--”

“G-Goodnight--”

“Midoriya, WAIT.”

Izuku finally stopped, snapping his mouth closed with an audible click. There was a beat -- a long, long beat of uncomfortable silence -- before All Might spoke.

“You never let me answer your question.”

Izuku blinked. “Question…?”

“You asked why I was up, remember?”

“Y-Yeah…” Izuku murmured, “b-but it’s okay, y-you’re probably just busy, right? I-I’m interrupting something--”

“No, kid, you’re not. I, too, had a nightmare.”

Izuku blinked again. “...Wait... what?”

“Don’t sound so surprised. No matter what kind of pedestal you insist on putting me on, I’m still human. And this is just a guess, but I’m almost positive we had a nightmare regarding the same issue.”

Izuku bit his lip. “The USJ…?”

“Yep.”

“S-Sorry, I...I really...wasn’t expecting that…” Izuku admitted. “I...I never really thought...y’know...that you got nightmares…”

“It’s not a big deal. It’s not like it’s something you can control. What do you sound so embarrassed about?”

“I don’t know,” Izuku said, rubbing his arm awkwardly. “I just...it...it feels...kind of pathetic of me…”

He heard All Might sigh. “Listen, Young Midoriya. Would you call me pathetic for having nightmares?”

Izuku jumped involuntarily. “O-Of course not!” he blabbered, stumbling over his own words in his haste to spit them out. “I-I’d never think that--!”

“Then why do you call yourself pathetic?”

Izuku froze. His mind went blank. “I-I don’t know, i-i-it’s just different for me--”

“Why?”   

“I...I-I…”

He didn’t have an answer. Try as he might (and he tried really, really hard), he just could not come up with a response that actually made sense.

All Might sighed again, this one heavier than before. “You really need to start taking it easier on yourself,” All Might said, well aware of Izuku’s inability to answer his question. “You’re willing to be understanding and compassionate to everyone except yourself.”

“I...don’t really know what to say to that…”

“But you’re not denying it, are you?”

“...No…”

“Thought so. Most people have a ‘fight or flight’ instinct engraved into their minds, but you have more of a ‘fight and protect’ instinct. You don’t really care what happens to yourself as long as the people around you are safe. You care about them more than you care about you.”

Izuku swallowed. Yeah, that sounded about right. Usually, he didn’t so much as consider his own personal safety before diving head-first into the danger. The thought didn’t so much as cross his mind.

“Just...try and cut yourself some more slack, alright?” All Might said, when Izuku didn’t respond. “It’s definitely not stupid to experience nightmares after what you went through. You try playing it off as no big deal, but it was no minor incident. You nearly died.”

Izuku didn’t actually remember anything very clearly between getting knocked out and waking up in Recovery Girl’s infirmary, but he did remember a looming darkness, a darkness unlike anything he’d ever experienced before, something that gnawed on his heart and mind and soul.

He didn’t like thinking about it, but...he’d come close. He’d come seriously, seriously close to just... dying.

As little as he cared about himself compared to the safety of others, the thought of dying was seriously... unsettling. Not scary, just unsettling.

“Kid? You still there?”  

“O-Oh, y-yeah, I’m still here,” Izuku answered. “Sorry, just...got lost in thought for a second…”

“It’s alright. Anyways, on another note, how do you feel? Physically, I mean?”

“...I feel okay…” Izuku said. “My head’s bothering me, but...that’s about it. My mom gave me my medications a little while ago, they should be kicking in soon…”

“Right, good. Well, you should probably start thinking about getting to bed. It’s late, and you of all people have no business being up at this hour.”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Don’t you sigh at me, young man,” All Might scolded, but it was obvious he was joking, and Izuku cracked a smile, stifling a laugh behind his hand. “I am serious, though. Get some sleep.”

“I-I’ll try,” Izuku agreed. The throb in his head had begun to diminish, and his eyelids felt heavier than before. “...Thanks...f-for talking with me, I mean,” Izuku managed, his words slurring.

“No need for thanks, Young Midoriya. I’m happy I can be here for you. Don’t hesitate to call me if something else comes up, alright?”

Izuku smiled faintly. “A-Alright, I won’t. Goodnight.”

“Night, kid.”

All Might terminated the call from his end, and Izuku stared at his phone for another long moment before darkening the screen and setting it down on the coffee table once again.

He leaned back and closed his eyes, a feeling of contentment overwhelming his other senses.

But just before the lull of sleep dragged him under, Izuku had one final coherent thought:

...Hang on...

...Did I just call All Might “Dad”...?  

By the time he woke up the next morning, he’d forgotten all about it.


 

But All Might hadn’t.

He didn’t bring it up, actually, and he didn’t plan to, either. Most likely, Izuku had just said whatever came to mind, that thought being “Yes, Dad,” in response to All Might’s statement, and knowing Izuku, he’d become incredibly flustered and probably wouldn’t look All Might in the eye until his dying breath if he found out just what he’d said.

So All Might didn’t mention it. Instead, he kept Izuku’s words to himself, somewhere close to his heart, where he’d never forget them.

Izuku had never once mentioned his father, but whatever the reason, All Might was honored to be the boy’s father-figure.  


 

Inko was worried about her son, but she knew all of this was to be expected. The first few days he was home, he slept like the dead, but after that, the nightmares started.

The U.A. nurse had warned Inko about these, but that couldn’t have prepared the mother for them. Every night, her boy woke up screaming, and she couldn’t do a thing about it other than give him his medicine and kiss his forehead.

It really, really bothered her, her inability to do more, and sometimes she wondered if she’d made the right choice, letting Izuku continue attending the U.A. after everything he’d been put through. She wondered if maybe she should reconsider her decision, if maybe it would be better if Izuku went somewhere safer, somewhere not targeted by so many villains.

And then, Izuku’s friends from the U.A. began visiting. They were bright, cheerful people -- Inko recognized a lot of them from photos and descriptions from Izuku -- and they were all so genuinely concerned for Izuku’s wellbeing it was touching.

There were so many of them, too -- well over ten -- and Inko felt horrible, because she knew she wouldn’t be able to remember so many names. Izuku was sleeping during most of their visits, but in the times he was awake, he was happy, and he chatted joyously and laughed with them.

And that was enough. If these people, if these friends of her boy could make him smile like that...it was enough.   

Out of all Izuku’s classmates, there were three who visited the most frequently: a boy with rectangular glasses and a very serious, no-nonsense personality, who was constantly reminding other visitors to keep their voices down while Izuku slept; a boy with bright red hair and flamboyant personality, who was scolded most by the glasses-boy; and a girl with brown hair and oh so kind heart, who was always talking about how brave “Deku” was and how much she admired him.

“I’d...I’d like to thank you,” Inko said, as the trio of students slipped on their shoes at the door after a lengthy visit. “For looking after my son. I’m really glad he’s made such increible friends…”

“You don’t have to thank us!” the girl -- Uraraka, if Inko remembered correctly -- said brightly. “Deku’s an amazing friend! I couldn’t imagine life without him!”

“Yeah...and I’m sorry he got hurt like this,” the boy with bright red hair -- Kirishima, was it? -- said, scratching the back of his neck. “The next time we see those villains, I’m gonna make them pay.”

“Be sure to let us know if you need anything,” the boy with glasses, Iida, said formally. “We’ll do whatever we can to help.”

Inko felt tears burn her eyes. These kids cared about her son so much, and she was touched. “Thank you,” she said. “And please, tell the rest of your class that I thank them as well, for everything they’ve done.”

Kirishima grinned widely, Inko bade them farewell, and the trio left the Midoriya residence.

Izuku had such wonderful friends now, something he hadn’t had while growing up, and Inko couldn’t have been happier for him.


 

The day Izuku finally returned to school was a joyous one for his classmates.

It took a while -- a long while, in fact -- before Izuku felt well enough to attend his classes again. His mother fretted over him at first, and rightfully so considering all he’d been through, but he reassured her, time and time again, that he was okay.

“I’ll text you every hour on the hour if you want me to,” he told her with a smile over breakfast that morning. “But I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

She hadn’t look convinced. “A-Are you sure? But your concussion…what if you get hurt? What if you faint somewhere and no one knows where you are?” She’d fiddled restlessly with the hem of her shirt as she ranted. “Izuku, maybe I should call your teachers and tell them you need more time to recover…”

“I’m okay, really,” Izuku insisted. “I promise if I start feeling off, I’ll tell them I think I need to go home.”

His mother had still fretted over him, and he couldn’t blame her, but eventually, she gave in, making him promise to keep in touch.

“And...please, please tell someone if you feel sick or in pain, and I’ll come pick you up, okay?” she said, holding his face and looking him in the eyes just before he left. “And don’t go anywhere by yourself, either. Make sure you have someone with you, just in case.”

“I promise,” Izuku said.

She smiled, kissed his forehead, and he set out.

It’d been so long since he’d attended his classes at the U.A. His friends had been amazing, taking notes for him and dropping off the full composition notebooks at his house.

That was another thing: everyone had visited at least once. Izuku had been asleep during most of their visits, but his mother always told him that his friends were such wonderful, caring people, and that she was so happy he’d met them.

And it was true. Izuku couldn’t have ever hoped for better friends than the ones he had now.

He began walking to the U.A., backpack slung around his shoulders. About half-way there, he heard a familiar voice call his name.

“Deku!”

He turned; Ochako bolted towards him, her own backpack bouncing on her back.

“Uraraka,” Izuku greeted with a smile. Ochako filed in beside him, and they continued walking. “What are you doing?”

“I wanted to walk with you to school, since it’s your first day back and all!” Ochako answered, like it was obvious. “But I was too late getting up this morning! I’m so sorry! I was planning on meeting you at your house, but…” She sighed, almost sadly. “I’m not a morning person…”

“N-No, it’s okay!” Izuku said instantly, waving his hands back and forth. “You don’t have to apologiz--”

“Midoriya! Uraraka!”

The duo turned; Iida sprinted towards them like his life depended on it, his feet pounding against the sidewalk.

“I-Iida!” Izuku yelped.

Iida skidded to a stop just before them, not even out of breath. “Good morning, you two,” he greeted. “How do you feel, Midoriya?”

“Oh...I feel fine!” Izuku said, beaming. “Actually, I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time.”

“That’s good!” Iida said; the trio began walking again, maintaining a steady pace towards the U.A. “I’m glad you feel well enough to return to school.”

“Me too!” said Ochako brightly. “The classroom has felt so empty without you. You wouldn’t believe it!”

“But remember to tell us if you start feeling sickly, alright?” Iida backtracked, chopping the air with a hand pointely. “It is very important that you tell us the instant you think something might be wrong.”

Izuku blinked. Class Mom, huh? Yeah, that seems about right...

“Okay, I will,” Izuku agreed easily. As much as he hated feeling like he was burdening his friends, he knew that it would be downright stupid if he hid things from them now.

That, and he really didn’t want to end up in the infirmary again so soon after being discharged…

He, Iida and Ochako chatted all the way to school, Ochako and Iida doing most of the talking while Izuku simply listened, occasionally laughing when Ochako recounted some of the typical classroom antics and thanking Iida when he recounted some of Aizawa’s lectures as though from memory.

It was great. It was great to be back in the normal swing of things. It was great to be with his friends, it was great to be walking to school, it was just great all around.

The day had only just begun and Izuku had already nominated it a “great day.”

And then, he and his friends reached the Classroom 1-A. Iida reached out, pushed the the door open, and Izuku walked through.

Instantly, a dozen pops! went off everywhere, and paper streamers floated through the air.

“WELCOME BACK, MIDORIYA!!”

It was chorused horribly, everyone starting and stopping at a different place, but Izuku didn’t even care. His classmates rushed on him, asking a billion questions and voicing a billion things, stuff like “It’s good to have ya back!” and “You’re just in time!” and “Welcome home, Midoriya!”

And Izuku couldn’t have been happier. After everything that’d happened, he was back. He was finally, finally back.

The entire day, from start to finish, Izuku was swamped by different classmates, each of them having a different story to tell him and a journal of notes (and doodles) to give him. Izuku smiled and thanked them profusely, and they told him the same thing every time: “Don’t thank me! You’d do the same for us!”

After lunch in the cafeteria, Izuku was called aside by All Might, and Izuku told Ochako and Iida to go on without him, that’d he’d catch up. Ochako and Iida had agreed and headed to their classroom while Izuku turned, beaming, at All Might.

“You sure are in high spirits today,” All Might commented lightly.

“I am,” was Izuku’s simple but honest reply. “I missed everyone a lot. It’s kind of weird, but...I’m really glad I’m back.”

“Good,” said All Might, reaching out and ruffling Izuku’s hair. “It’s good to have you back, kid.”

And Izuku only smiled brighter. This...was probably one of the best days of his life. He was back with his friends, back to his normal routine, and he had high hopes for the upcoming future.

Chapter Text

Taking a trip to the mall had sounded like a great idea right up until a villain wound their fingers around Izuku’s throat.

And he’d been having a pretty good day, too. It’d been chill, laid-back, and all around nice . Going to the mall with his friends seemed like a great way to have fun and relax before going on their next long training expedition.

But…

“Whoa! If it ain’t a U.A. kid! Awsome! Give me your signature!”

It was something Izuku heard a lot since joining the famous academy, however, this time it gave him a serious sense of unease, like some kind of darkness was looming overhead waiting for the opportune time to strike.

The one who’d called out to him was wearing a hood that shrouded his face, so Izuku couldn’t make out any defining features. The stranger flung an arm around Izuku’s shoulder idly, and Izuku stiffened up.

“You’re the kid that got wrecked in the Sports Festival, right?” the hooded stranger asked him.

“Y-Yeah, t-that’s me,” said Izuku, swallowing thickly. Why does he seem familiar? Why do I feel...so on edge?

“Y’know, I really can’t believe it! To think I’d meet you again at a place like this! This really must be... fate , or destiny , or something…!”

Cold, bony fingers wound around his throat, and Izuku’s heart stopped.

No, there’s no way...it can’t be…

“I guess the last time you saw me…was during the U.A. invasion.”

There was no mistaking it now. Izuku’s heart began pounding, the room felt suddenly too hot, and sweat dripped off his face like rain.

“Tell me, how’s your head feeling…?” Shigaraki traced the scar with one bony finger, and Izuku had to fight the urge to pull away. “You looked half dead the last time I saw you…”

Shigaraki , Izuku’s mind raced faster than ever. What’s he doing here? What is this? What’s going on?

“Let’s have a chat, shall we, Izuku Midoriya?” Shigaraki asked him, but there was a silent threat behind the offer that Izuku didn’t fail to miss.

Izuku tried to swallow the lump in his throat. His mind spun even faster, trying to weave together the solution. WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhat--

“Act natural,” Shigaraki said, his fingers tightening briefly, thereby ending Izuku’s train of thought. “We’re just old friends. Slow down your breathing, don’t make a scene...and what happens if you show the slightest sign of odd behavior, you ask?”

Izuku already had a horrible, sinking feeling, but he said nothing, and Shigaraki plunged on.  

“Simple,” hummed Shigaraki. “The moment all five of my fingers touch your neck, you’ll start crumbling, from the skin of your throat on down. Within the minute, you’ll be nothing but dust.”

Izuku didn’t know how he managed it, but he somehow mustered the will to speak. “I-If you do,” he said, his voice shaking though he tried to control it, “then a-a hero...a hero from the crowd...w-will come c-capture you…”

“Of course,” said Shigaraki, and he gestured to the crowd animatedly, “but have a look!”

The mall was bustling, people, friends, families, racing back and forth, chatting amongst themselves.

“Even though they could brandish their Quirks at any moment,” said Shigaraki, “why do they gather? Why do they laugh? The laws, the rules, they’re all based upon people’s individual morals. So at the heart, they think, ‘Oh, there’s no way anybody would do such a thing.’ Y’know...”

Shigaraki’s voice got even lower, but Izuku could still hear every word:

“...I could kill twenty...no, maybe thirty people, before getting captured...”

Izuku’s breath caught in his throat, a chill rolling down his spine.

“What...do you want to talk about?” he asked cautiously.

Shigaraki chuckled, and it was horrifying . “That’s the spirit,” Shigaraki said. “You’re being a good sport. Let’s take a seat, and then we can talk comfortably…”

There was nothing “comfortable” about this situation, but Izuku didn’t have a choice. There was no telling how many lives would be lost if he tried escaping or calling for help.

He could endure it. He could endure it if just for now.


 

They found a bench and sat down, Shigaraki’s fingers never once leaving Izuku’s throat. Izuku had never felt this tense before in his life, and the hardest part of all this was that he was powerless . He couldn’t do anything, not without risking the lives of the dozens of civilians around him.

“You know, I hate most everything,” Shigaraki began casually, “but the thing that’s ticking me off right now is the Hero Killer.”

Izuku paused, pondering this. Stain? The Hero Killer Stain? “B-But isn’t he with you guys…?” Izuku asked quietly, trying to keep his own voice as casual as possible.

“I never agreed to him joining,” Shigaraki answered, “but he’s one of us according to society. And that’s the problem. Near everybody seems to be gaga over the Hero Killer. The U.A. invasion and the Nomus we released in Hosu...all of it’s been swallowed up by that rat’s fame. Why is nobody looking at me?”

Shigaraki paused briefly, then kept on.

“No matter how much he puffed himself up,” Shigaraki spoke, an edge of irritation and rage in his tone, “in the end, he was just destroying what he didn’t like, same as me.”

Shigaraki leaned in even closer, and Izuku couldn’t pull away.

“Between the two of us, what do you think is different, Midoriya?”

Izuku froze. A part of him had been expecting this question, but that didn’t make it any easier to think about (or answer). His head was already spinning enough as it was, and now to be asked a question and be expected to answer

He didn’t know how he did it, but he managed to get his wits together and open his mouth.

“What’s the difference...between you two…?” he repeated, more to himself than anything, and Shigaraki nodded encouragingly.

“I...I neither understand you, nor accept you,” Izuku began, “whereas for the Hero Killer...I don’t accept him, either, but I do understand him. For both me and the Hero Killer...we started out...by watching All Might. A-And back then, when you released the Nomus in Hosu...I was saved by him. At the very least, he didn’t destroy because he wanted to...”

He glanced at Shigaraki’s face; the villain seemed deep in thought, like he was genuinely listening and taking this in, and Izuku went on.

“And,” he said, “the Hero Killer didn’t give up so easily. His methods were wrong...but he tried to live according to an ideal. That’s what I think.”   

Something must have clicked for Shigaraki, because his eyes went wide, a look of understanding overcoming his face. His hand tightened around Izuku’s neck once again, but this time, it was tighter than before.

And suddenly, Izuku couldn’t breathe.

“Ahh, I see!” said Shigaraki. “My head feels clearer now, like a bunch of dots have finally formed a line. I think I get it now. Why the Hero Killer ticks me off...and why you’re so annoying …”

Izuku tried taking in a breath, he really did, but literally couldn’t . His air supply was completely blocked off; his chest was beginning to burn, and his mind started racing again.

“It’s all about All Might,” said Shigaraki.

Izuku’s head cleared up just enough to comprehend what the villain had said; and then it fogged up again almost just as quickly. He still couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe.  

“Of course...of course it’d all lead back to him in the end,” Shigaraki muttered to himself, seemingly blissfully unaware of just how tight his grip was on Izuku. “Ahhh, what was I so bothered over?”

He couldn’t breathe he couldn’t breathe--

“The reason all these people are laughing with those sickening grins…”

I can’t breathe I can’t breathe I can’t breathe Ican’tbreatheIcan’tbreathe--

“...Is because All Might is, too!”

Black spots danced before Izuku’s eyes. His heart was pounding harder than ever before. He felt dizzy, lightheaded, and there was a looming darkness…

“It’s because he’s always smiling, like there was never anybody he couldn’t save!”

Izuku’s body moved on its own, his hands reaching up and clawing at Shigaraki’s arm. His movements were sluggish, though. His consciousness was waning, and there was nothing he could do about it.

“Ahh, I’m so glad we were able to chat! This was great!” said Shigaraki, his grip unwavering. “Thank you, Midoriya! I was right all along!”

Izuku didn’t (couldn’t) respond, only kept trying to yank himself from Shigaraki’s choke-hold.

“Don’t struggle now,” said Shigaraki, his tone going from light and energetic to low and threatening in an instant. “Do you wanna die? You okay with all these people dying?”

Nonononononononononono--

There was nothing he could do.

There was nothing he could do.

There was nothing he could do.  

“Deku?”

Izuku froze, and so did Shigaraki. It was a hesitant voice, but one that Izuku recognized in an instant.

He looked up, his blurry vision showing him none other than Ochako, whose eyes were full of terror as she looked at the scene before her.

“D-Deku...he’s not...a friend of yours, is he?” Ochako asked.

No, no, no, get away…! Get away from here…!

Ochako turned her gaze towards Shigaraki, though she still looked as scared as ever. “L-Let go of him,” she said, ever so slightly hesitant.

Izuku suddenly forgot about his limited air supply and used whatever was left in his lungs to shout. “I-IT’S FINE!” he hacked out. “IT’S NOTHING, I’M FINE, SO DON’T COME ANY CLOSER…!”

His vision tilted, black beginning to overwhelm him. He still couldn’t breathe. He literally could not breathe…

And then, all at once, Shigaraki let go of him.

“Oh, so he had company?” said Shigaraki cheerily, putting up both hands. “My bad, my bad--!”

Izuku collapsed to the ground, coughing and hacking, one hand at his throat and his other at his chest. His lungs were burning, and every inhale felt like fire, but he could breathe again. He could breathe again.

“Deku!” Ochako exclaimed, rushing forward and kneeling on the ground beside him. Izuku tried to respond, couldn’t, and then coughed harder, trying desperately to suck air back into his deprived lungs.

“Well, see ya,” said Shigaraki, rising to his feet, shoving his hands into his pockets and turning, walking away. “And you know what happens if you think about giving chase, don’t ya…?”

Ochako whipped around to stare at him, but said nothing.

“You should start thinkin’ about yourself a little more, Midoriya,” said Shigaraki, raising a hand and waving it idly. “Because the next time we meet, it will be because I decided to kill you.”

And Shigaraki disappeared into the noisy crowd of shoppers.

Izuku’s mind was still foggy, and his throat and chest burned , like lava was being forcibly poured down his throat.

“Hello, is this the police!? Yes...there’s a villain…! Right now we’re at…” Ochako’s voice seemed to come from far away, and it was muffled, too, like she was speaking through water.

Izuku clutched at his throat, this time with both hands. He could still feel Shigaraki’s fingers against his neck, still hear his voice in his ear, still feel the utter terror and helplessness

And suddenly, he couldn’t breathe again. Shigaraki’s fingers were gone, but Izuku still felt like he was being constricted, like there were bindings around his throat keeping him from breathing.

“Deku, hey, hey, Deku--”

He looked up into the worried, panicked eyes of Ochako. He hadn’t even noticed her kneeling in front of him…

“U-Uraraka…” Izuku choked, his voice sounding every bit as strangled as he felt. His chest was burning again, worse than before, and darkness was closing in on him once more, but this time it was more pressing, it was closer…

I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

He literally couldn’t breathe and he didn’t even know why.

Ochako’s hands suddenly squeezed his shoulders. “Deku, you have to calm down,” she said firmly, though her voice shook a bit. “J-Just calm down, okay? It’s fine now.”

He knew. He knew it was fine now. So why…

Why…

“Breathe, Deku.”

I-I’m t-trying…

“It’s okay now. B-But you have to breathe…”

I-I know…

Somehow, under Ochako’s worried but comforting words, he managed to take in a small breath, then another, slightly deeper this time. Two turned into three, and three turned into four, each breath deeper than the last, and before he knew it, he could breathe again.

Somehow, blessedly, he could breathe again.

“...Better?” Ochako asked cautiously, her hands never once leaving his shoulders.

He nodded shakily. “Y-Yeah...I-I think so…” he croaked.

I freaked out...over nothing. Over nothing at all…

And then, the police finally showed up.


 

All Might’s otherwise normal day was thrown into chaos when he received a call from Naomasa.

It wasn’t unusual for him to receive calls from Naomasa; after all, they were best friends, and as of recently, Naomasa had been calling to schedule meetings regarding the League of Villains and the heroes’ next counteractions against them.

But for some reason, as All Might stared at the ringing phone in his hand, he felt a sense of dread that just... shouldn’t have been there. It was completely normal. Naomasa called him often. Everything was fine…

Finally, he accepted the call. “Hello?”

“Ahh, you picked up! Good,” Naomasa’s voice came back at him, but there was urgency in his tone that All Might didn’t miss. “Listen, this is all really sudden, and I’m sorry--”

“No, it’s fine. What happened?”

“Midoriya, the kid involved in the USJ invasion?”

All Might’s heart sunk.

“He was cornered by Shigaraki a little over an hour ago.”

All Might’s mind started racing. “Shigaraki?” he repeated, his heart beating faster than ever. “You said Shigaraki? And Midoriya?”

“Yeah, that’s right. We looked everywhere, but Shigaraki managed to escape--”

“Nevermind him, is Midoriya alright?” They’d have time for villains later; All Might’s main concern at the moment was his student. Shigaraki was dangerous, and he’d targeted Izuku before, so who knew what the villain was capable of?  

“Physically, Midoriya’s alright, but his friend was worried about him, so he’s being looked over at the hospital,” came Naomasa’s reply. “He sustained no injuries.”

All might released a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “That’s good…”

“His friend mentioned he had something like a panic attack as soon as Shigaraki was gone, so we thought it best to have him looked at, just in case.”

“Right, right…”

A panic attack?

“You said he was at a hospital?”

“Yeah, that’s right. I could text you the address.”

“Please do.”    

“Alright, hold on, I’ll send it to you.”

Naomasa fell silent for a few moments, and then, a new message notification popped up on All Might’s screen.

“Did you get it?”

“Yes, thank you.” A hospital. The address of a hospital. It wasn’t far; it wouldn’t take All Might very long to get there at all, especially if he activated his hero form. He’d revert back to his normal form as soon as he arrived for obvious reasons (being the number one hero was great and all, but it came with a lot of unnecessary attention), but that was fine.  

“You’re heading over, right?”   Naomasa asked, but by the tone of his voice he already knew the answer.

All Might nodded, already getting a head-start in the direction of the hospital. “Yeah.”

“I figured as much,” said Naomasa. “I’ll be over later on to ask Midoriya a few questions as well. As much as I hate bringing it up so soon...we have to get his witness account, y’know?”

“Yes, I understand…thanks again.”

“Don’t mention it. Take care of the kid, alright?”

“I will.”

All Might terminated the call and raced off.


 

He reached the hospital in record time, and he ran through the doors leading inside, now in his true, weaker form. The hospital was nearly empty, which was fine. Naomasa was already there, and he spoke briefly to the receptionist regarding All Might visiting Izuku.

“He’s a close friend of mine, and of the boy’s,” Naomasa began to the receptionist, and after a few brief questions, a nurse led All Might and Naomasa down the hallway towards Izuku’s room.

All the while, All Might’s mind was racing faster than before. Naomasa had said that Izuku wasn’t hurt, but what he meant was physical hurt. All Might was a bit more concerned with the psychological hurt.  

After all, according to Naomasa, Izuku had been cornered by Shigaraki, and if that didn’t spring up bad memories, All Might didn’t know what would.

The nurse left them in front of the closed door leading into Izuku’s room, and Naomasa reached out to open it.

Ochako was seated on a stool by Izuku’s bed, and Izuku was sitting up, looking tired and shaken but overall unharmed (physically, at least). Both their heads turned when Naomasa and All Might entered.

“Good evening, Uraraka, Midoriya,” Naomasa said kindly, offering both youths a smile.

Izuku and Ochako nodded in unison, Izuku nodding a second time in All Might’s direction.  

“I would like to speak with Midoriya for a moment,” said Naomasa, “so, Uraraka, if you don’t mind…”

“Oh! That’s fine!” Ochako said immediately, rising to her feet. “I-It’s okay, I’ll go! Get some rest, Deku, okay? I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“R-Right,” Izuku said, raising a hand as she walked away. “See you.”

Ochako smiled at him, but All Might noticed something waver in her otherwise joyful expression. She was, no doubt, also shaken up by the encounter.

“I’ll walk you out,” Naomasa offered, and Ochako readily agreed with a cheerful “Thank you.” They headed out, the hospital door clicking shut behind them.

All Might and Izuku were left alone, and neither party said anything for the longest time. Now that All Might had the chance to properly examine his student, he noticed dark, finger-shaped bruises around Izuku’s neck.

Bruises healed in time, sure, but they were around Izuku’s neck, which could only mean…

All Might’s blood boiled with rage.

Shigaraki tried to strangle him...

“H-Hi, All Might,” Izuku voiced quietly, and now that All Might knew just what Shigaraki had done to the boy, he noticed a waver and crackle in Izuku’s tone.

All Might was angry. Really, really, really angry, and not for the first time, he felt the urge to punch somebody. But, as with Endeavor, All Might wasn’t going to let his anger show. Not right now. Not yet.

“Hey, kid,” All Might said, crossing the room and taking the seat Ochako had used moments before. “Are you alright?”

Izuku swallowed thickly. “Yeah, I...I think so,” he said, nodding as though to reassure himself. “My throat hurts, but it’s not so bad. I think everyone’s sort of overreacting…”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” All Might clarified. “I mean, how do you feel? Emotionally, mentally, that kind of stuff. Are you okay?”  

Because even though Izuku’s concussion had long since healed by now, there were scars that remained -- literally and figuratively.

Izuku blinked at him.

And then, the boy took in a long, deep, shuddering breath, and tears rolled down his cheeks. He quickly buried his face in his hands, muffled sobs breaking the silence of the hospital room.

“I-I c-couldn’t do anything,” Izuku gasped, brushing his hands beneath his eyes to try and stop the tears. “I-I was u-useless, I was c-completely useless... and...a-and...I-I was so s-scared, a-and then Uraraka showed up, a-and..S-Shigaraki...he could’ve killed…”

All Might’s heart clenched. He’d feared as much. “You were brave, Midoriya,” he said, “braver than most people would have been in that situation. You did whatever you could to protect the people around you--”

“B-But I was helpless,” Izuku sobbed. “S-Shigaraki c-could’ve attacked anyone, a-and I...I-I wouldn’t have been able...to do anything…”

All Might swallowed hard. He didn’t really know what to say, much less do, but at the same time...was watching his student suffer really the best he could do?

“Kid...would you be alright with a hug?” All Might asked. He’d hugged Izuku before, when he was recovering after the incident at the USJ, but the circumstances were different back then. He didn’t know how Izuku would react if he were suddenly grabbed now, even by someone he trusted deeply.

Izuku blinked at him, tears dripping off his chin. Then, he nodded, feverishly and shakily, and All Might wrapped his arms around the boy tightly. Izuku tensed up at first, but only for a moment. The dams broke again, and Izuku’s tears fell with fresh vigor.

“I-I c-couldn’t do anything!” Izuku cried, his voice cracking in a million different places. “I-I was c-completely useless! I-I f-freaked out over n-nothing, I c-c-couldn’t stop him...!”

This hurt. A lot. It hurt loads more than All Might thought it would, seeing Izuku so torn up about something that wasn’t even his fault, something that was completely out of his control.   

Izuku’s tears soaked the front of his shirt. “H-How can I be a hero if I can’t even stop one villain?” Izuku shrieked, the question clearly a rhetorical one. “I-I couldn’t...c-couldn’t do anything!! I’m useless!! I’m completely useless!!”

And All Might could take it no longer. He pulled away, put his hands on either side of his student’s face, and stared him right in the eyes. Izuku looked down shamefully, tears still rolling down his cheeks.

“Midoriya, look at me,” All Might said, probably coming across as more demanding than he’d intended, but it did the trick. Izuku raised his gaze, meeting his mentor’s eyes, and All Might went on. “Nothing that happened today -- and I mean nothing -- was your fault.”

Izuku blinked, then averted his gaze again, letting loose another choked sob. “B-B-But...I-I c-c-couldn’t...I-I was useless…”

“No, you weren’t,” said All Might firmly, giving Izuku’s head a small shake. “You were cornered, Midoriya, and not only that, but you were cornered by Shigaraki. You kept a level head, and because of that, you spared the lives of dozens of people who Shigaraki would have killed otherwise. Do you understand that?”

Izuku swallowed thickly. “Y-Y-Yes…”

“Good.” All Might moved his hands to the boy’s shoulders, his tone softening considerably. “And you can’t be angry with yourself for the panic attack, either. That was also something completely out of your control.”

Izuku ducked his head again. His tears had slowed, but he looked no more reassured. “...It was stupid,” Izuku finally said, reaching up and wiping his tears away with his knuckles. “I...I still freaked out...even when Shigaraki was gone…”

“Not your fault,” All Might said. “It was your body’s response to the situation, and honestly, I can’t blame it. I can’t imagine the kind of pressure you were under.”

And, honestly, All Might couldn’t. He’d never know the kind of pressure his student had been put under by Shigaraki, and frankly, he didn’t want to think about it, either.

Izuku bit his lip, then nodded shakily. “I-I think I get it…” he said quietly.

“Good,” said All Might, nodding firmly. “Just remember, you can’t blame yourself for the actions of a villain, alright?”

“A-Alright…” Izuku agreed, brushing away the remainder of his tears.

Naomasa reappeared then, closing the door behind him. “Am I interrupting something?” he asked politely.

All Might and Izuku shook their heads in unison, and Naomasa stepped forward to stand by Izuku’s bed.

“I apologize, Midoriya,” Naomasa said, “but I have a few questions to ask you regarding today’s incident, if you think you’re up for it.”

Izuku swallowed thickly, then whipped around to look at All Might questioningly. All Might merely put up his hands. “This is on you, kid,” All Might told him. “It’s your decision.”

Izuku glanced down at his hands briefly, and then, he looked up again at Naomasa, a sudden determination gleaming in his watery eyes. “...What do you want to know?” Izuku asked.

Naomasa pulled up a chair and flipped open the clipboard he’d brought with him.

The questions were all very standard and straight to the point, stuff like “What did Shigaraki say to you?” and “Who was involved?” and “What did you say to him?” and for the most part, Izuku had no trouble answering, though All Might did reach over and squeeze his shoulder when he noticed Izuku fidget restlessly.

It was over sooner than All Might expected, but not sooner than he’d hoped. “That’s all for now, Midoriya,” Naomasa said, rising to his feet. “Thank you very much for your time.”

“O-Oh, y-you’re welcome,” Izuku said, tripping over his own words in his haste to get them out.

“The doctor wants to take one last look at you, but then, you should be able to go home,” said Naomasa. “I’ll let you know if anything else comes up.”

“Okay,” Izuku agreed readily.

When the doctor arrived for his final examination of Izuku, All Might and Naomasa left the room (though All Might was reluctant to do so) and headed back down the hallway from whence they’d come.

“So,” Naomasa began, “your talk, with Midoriya. How’s he doing?”

“Well...as great as can be expected, considering the circumstances,” All Might sighed. “These villains just can’t take a hint, can they?”

“Try not to do anything rash,” Naomasa said, but he didn’t sound very serious about it. “Or, at least don’t get caught doing anything rash.”

“You’re a member of the police force, you know.”

“And you’re a pro hero, yet here we are.”

All Might gave his friend a small smile. He knew him too well.

“That kid...he really looks up to you,” Naomasa voiced, dropping the previous conversation.

All Might shrugged offhandedly. “A lot of people do.”

“No, I mean...it’s different,” said Naomasa. “He looks up to you because you’re you, not because you’re ‘All Might’ or ‘the number one hero.’ He looks up to you almost like...a father.”

All Might blinked at him, then looked away again. “Yeah…”

“And don’t tell me you don’t see him as a son, because I know you do,” Naomasa went on. “You can’t fool me.”

Yes. Naomasa knew All Might far too well. “...Well, I won’t deny it,” All Might admitted. “Young Midoriya...yes. I believe he has become something of a son to me.”

Naomasa was silent for a bit before speaking again. “Y’know, I don’t know Midoriya’s family situation, but...I’ve never heard his father mentioned once. After all the times this kid’s been in the hospital or taken to the police station...you’d think someone would have at least mentioned his father, but...it’s like he doesn’t exist.”

“...Yes, I’ve noticed that,” All Might said. He wondered, sometimes, what had become of Izuku’s father, but he never mentioned it. If Izuku didn’t want to talk about it, then All Might didn’t want to talk about it, either.

“The kid seems to have accepted you as a father figure, though,” said Naomasa. “That’s a pretty big honor, you know.”

All Might sighed. “I just wish I could’ve been there,” he said. “When Shigaraki made his move, I mean.”

“I know you do,” said Naomasa. “But you shouldn’t blame yourself for this, either. Just do what you can for Midoriya, and don’t get angry with yourself for things beyond your control.”

All Might sighed yet again. That would definitely be a tricky thing to do, but he could manage it. After all, he’d told Izuku to do the same thing just a few minutes ago.

“Let me know if you find Shigaraki, though,” said Naomasa. “I have a few choice words for him myself.”

“...Is this you as Midoriya’s ‘uncle’ figure now?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of ‘big brother,’ but sure, uncle works, too.”


 

The instant Izuku left the hospital, he was immediately glomped by his mother, who fussed over him for the next ten minutes and then all the way home (Izuku had to remind her more than once to watch the road instead of inspecting his bruises).

Izuku was still shaken up by the incident, and he was reminded -- quite horribly -- that he’d probably never fully recover from Shigaraki’s initial attack at the USJ.

But there were a lot of people -- his mom, All Might, his teachers, his classmates (friends) -- who supported him, who helped him, who stood beside him every step of the way, and honestly, as long as Izuku had them, he knew he could do it.

As long as his friends and family were there, he’d be just fine.

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up in the middle of the night with the distinct feeling that he was going to be sick.

He shot out of bed, barely managing to stumble into the bathroom, flick on the lights, and kneel over the toilet before his insides became his outsides. His throat burned, tears stung his eyes, and his head pounded viciously.

At length, he rose to his feet and flushed the toilet, his legs shaking and his stomach aching. The tiled floor swirled beneath his feet, and he steadied himself on the bathroom counter before he could tip over.

Whatever this was (and his head was too fogged for him to diagnose it), it couldn’t have been good.

He turned out the lights and headed back into his bedroom, staggering horribly. He didn’t know how he managed it, but he somehow made it to his bed, where he flopped face-down and shut his eyes, trying to ward off his dizziness (to no avail).

...Am...am I sick or something…?

It’d been a long time since he’d last been sick, so it wouldn’t have exactly surprised him, but this just...didn’t feel like a normal virus. He couldn’t quite place it, but something felt different.

He pushed himself upright, trying to ignore the second bout of nausea that followed.

...I should probably…

...Go downstairs…

His head was downright pounding, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep if it kept up. He got to his feet shakily, his center of balance lost within a sea of dizziness, and stumbled out of his room.

He was glad it was dark for the sake of his head. He kept one hand against the wall, both to support himself and to guide his way, his other hand raised to clutch at his head. Why did it hurt so much?

There was the option of taking the stairs or the elevator, and Izuku took the stairs. It was stupid, it was downright stupid, but everything was louder at two in the morning, and he didn’t want to wake his classmates, so tripping and tumbling down the stairs it was.

The logical, problem-solving part of his mind was completely fogged over. He didn’t even really know what he was doing, where he was going, only that he wanted to get something from the first floor.

...Tylenol…

He wasn’t sure where the word came from, what part of his incoherent mind had conjured it up, but it sounded like a good idea. Tylenol, or ibuprofen. Something for his head that hopefully wouldn’t mess up his stomach.

There was a medicine cabinet in the kitchen full of first-aid supplies and whatnot. Izuku just hoped he made it there before his legs decided to finally give up.

Everything was spinning. He somehow managed to make it down the stairs without tripping too many times (though how he would get back up the stairs remained a mystery), and he stumbled towards the direction of the kitchen. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and if his vision wasn’t so distorted, he probably would have been able to see rather well.

...I should…

...I should probably…

...hurry, and then…

...sit down somewhere…

His stomach did another somersault, and he abandoned his plight to the kitchen to instead stumble into the hall bathroom. His vision tilted; when he turned on the light, the pounding in his head went up another notch, and he barely had time enough to collapse in front of the toilet before he retched.

It went on for what felt like forever, his throat burning, his head pounding even worse than before. Though he wasn’t sure why, he felt suddenly very lonely and helpless. Tears stung his eyes.

And then, the bathroom door creaked open behind him.

“Midoriya?” Kirishima’s voice asked. “Hey, what’s -- holy crap, Midoriya!”

Izuku internally winced. His friend’s voice was too loud, but he couldn’t muster the strength to ask Kirishima to quiet down. Instead, he ducked his head again, bile scraping the back of his throat.

Suddenly, Kirishima was kneeling beside him, an arm wrapped around Izuku’s shaking shoulders.  “It’s okay, buddy,” Kirishima told him, calming down considerably after his shock. “Just calm down, alright? You’re okay.”

Izuku took in one deep breath, then another. “Kirishima…” His voice shook. Sweat rolled down his face. “W-Why...?”

Kirishima offered him a smile, though there was worry in his eyes. “I fell asleep on the couch tryin’ to study, and you weren’t exactly subtle, either, stumbling around like that,” Kirishima answered. “Think you’re done throwing up, or no?”  

It took longer than it should’ve for Izuku to comprehend Kirishima’s words. “Y-Yeah...I-I think I’m okay now…” he stuttered, trying to push himself to his feet. Kirishima took him by the forearm and helped him up, supporting him all the way.

“Crap, Midoriya, you look horrible,” Kirishima voiced, his concern evident in his tone. “What’re you even doing out of bed like this?”

“T-Tylenol,” Izuku slurred.  

Kirishima frowned. “That’s it? You could’ve just texted me, I would’ve brought some up for you.”

“S-S-Sorry…”

“Nah, forget it,” said Kirishima easily. “You’re just lucky you didn’t seriously hurt yourself. Hey, you need help getting back to your room, don’cha?”

Izuku blinked dazedly at him.

“Nevermind, that was a stupid question,” Kirishima decided. “Get on my back. I’ll carry you.”

Izuku’s foggy mind cleared just enough for him to realize what Kirishima had suggested. “W-W-Wait, you don’t have to do that--” Izuku started.

“Yeah I do. You’re my friend, and I’m gonna look after you.”

Izuku swallowed, wanting to retort again, but Kirishima had a point. Walking was not a very welcoming thought, and Izuku’s head hurt worse than before, not to mention his legs hadn’t stopped shaking. He was pretty sure Kirishima’s support was the only thing keeping him from toppling over.  

At long last, Kirishima sighed. “C’mon, Midoriya, stop being so stubborn and just let me help you, alright?”

And Izuku finally relented. “O-Okay…”

Kirishima grinned at him and knelt down; Izuku wrapped his arms around Kirishima’s neck from behind, and Kirishima straightened up again, hauling Izuku onto his back.

“Just hang on, alright?” Kirishima said. “And if you can avoid it, don’t puke on me, ‘kay?”

That was a fair request. “‘Kay,” Izuku agreed with a small nod, which he cut short when his head protested. Kirishima began walking, turning off the bathroom light as he went.

Izuku was relieved to be off his wobbling legs, and he closed his eyes briefly, trying to ward off his dizziness. “I-I’m sorry...for making you do this…” Izuku murmured.

“Don’t apologize,” Kirishima said breezily. “Bros look after each other, right?”

“R-Right...” Izuku didn’t really have the strength left to argue, and anyway, he was grateful for his friend’s help. “T-Thanks, Kirishima…”

“Don’t mention it,” Kirishima said. “Seriously, dude, don’t mention it. I’m gonna get you back to bed where you belong, and then, I’ll run and get you some tylenol, alright?”

Izuku nodded shakily. His consciousness was waning; black began closing in on him.

“You can sleep if you want, buddy. I won’t drop you, promise,” Kirishima said. “We’ll be there in a few seconds.”

Izuku shut his eyes again, resting his head against Kirishima’s shoulder. “T-Thank you…”

“I said don’t mention it. But you’re welcome anyways.”

Izuku smiled faintly, then let his consciousness go.


 

Kirishima knew the instant Izuku fell asleep; his arms loosened around his neck, and the boy’s head rested heavily on his shoulder.

Kirishima hefted Midoriya up further to keep him from slipping and kept walking. “Good grief, Midoriya…” Kirishima sighed, shaking his head. “You just can’t catch a break, can you…?”

Izuku, of course, didn’t answer, which was fine; Kirishima had been talking to himself, anyways.

Honestly, if Kirishima was to put it bluntly, Izuku looked horrible. Completely, totally, downright horrible. There were dark rings beneath his eyes, sweat matting his bangs to his forehead, and his eyes just looked so full of exhaustion and confusion that it was kind of heartbreaking. Right now, Izuku looked something like a sad, kicked puppy.

“Kirishima? What are you doing? Is that Midoriya?”  

The voice belonged to Iida, who strode towards Kirishima in confusion, then haste. “Yeah,” Kirishima said, halting momentarily so Iida could catch up with them. “Found him puking in the bathroom a couple minutes ago.”

Iida’s eyes widened. “What? Is he sick?” Iida asked worriedly, reaching out and feeling Izuku’s forehead with the back of his hand. “He doesn’t seem to have a fever…”

“I know, right? That’s the weird thing,” Kirishima agreed readily. “He’s definitely sick with something, though…”

“Food poisoning?”

“I doubt it. I mean, it’s possible, I guess, but we all ate the same stuff yesterday, so you’d think we’d all be sick if that was the problem.”

Iida nodded, retracting his hand and touching his chin thoughtfully. “We’ll send for Recovery Girl in the morning,” Iida decided. “Until then...”

“Right,” said Kirishima, nodding. “I’m taking him back to his room -- oh! He came down here for tylenol. Think you can bring some up for him so I don’t have to make another trip?”

Iida nodded. “Yes, definitely,” he said. “I’ll meet you up there.”

“Got it,” said Kirishima, and he turned and climbed the stairs towards the second floor.

The door to Izuku’s room hadn’t been closed all the way, so Kirishima nudged it open with his foot and headed inside. He didn’t bother turning on the lights; his eyes had long since adjusted to the darkness, and besides, he didn’t want to give Izuku a rude awakening.

“Alright, buddy, here ya go,” Kirishima said quietly, carefully untangling Izuku’s arms from around his neck and laying him down on the bed. Izuku stirred and cracked his eyes open, looking up at Kirishima blearily.

“Sorry,” Kirishima said. “Didn’t mean to wake ya. You can go to sleep again.”

Izuku blinked again, then closed his eyes with another quiet murmur of “Thank you,” to which Kirishima smiled.

“Don’t worry, it’s no problem,” Kirishima said, ruffling Midoriya’s hair gently. “You just focus on getting better, alright?”

Izuku nodded, snuggling into his blankets and promptly falling asleep. Kirishima pulled up the desk chair and plopped down on it, folding his hands loosely.

A moment or two later, the door creaked open again. “I brought the tylenol,” Iida whispered, crossing the room and setting two capsules and a glass of water down on the desk. “He can take it the next time he wakes up.”

Kirishima nodded. “Yeah, sounds good,” he said. “Geez...it’s just one thing after the other with this guy, isn’t it? It’s gotta suck.”

“Yes, I agree,” said Iida, “but he’ll pull through. He always does.”

“And we’ll be here for him, no matter what,” said Kirishima firmly, and it was a promise.


 

“MIDORIYA’S SICK!?”

“Shhhh!” Kirishima hissed loudly, waving his hands back and forth. He was standing in the doorway of Izuku’s room, blocking the way of Mineta, Mina, Ochako, Kaminari, and Yaoyorozu. The rest of the class was either sleeping or downstairs eating breakfast.

“You guys gotta keep it down,” Kirishima said, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Izuku hadn’t woken up. “I don’t know if he actually got any real sleep last night, so…”

The onlookers calmed down considerably after that, nodding feverishly in their agreement.

“Poor Deku,” Ochako whispered. “Is...Is he okay?”

Kirishima put up his hands and leaned against the doorframe. “I’m sure he’s fine,” he said. “I mean, not now, but...he’s not gonna die or anything.”

“Should someone get Recovery Girl?” Yaoyorozu asked, raising her voice as loudly as she dared. “I could fetch her…”

“Nah, Class Mom already took care of that,” said Kirishima, jabbing his thumb down the hallway. “He left a little while ago, but he should be back any minute. He was using his Quirk, so I can’t imagine him taking much longer.”   

“Do you want any help?” Mina asked. “Can I bring anything?”

“Not yet, I don’t think, no,” Kirishima answered. “Actually, I technically wasn’t supposed to even answer the door for you guys. Iida and I thought it’d be a good idea to keep away from y’all, just in case whatever Midoriya’s got is contagious. It’d suck if we all came down with this thing.”

“That makes sense,” said Yaoyorozu thoughtfully, nodding.

“So, now we’re just waiting for Recovery Girl to diagnose it,” said Kirishima. “If it’s contagious, Midoriya will probably end up being quarantined with me and Iida, ‘cause we’ve already been exposed to it. But, hey, if Midoriya’s not contagious, I’d love some help.”

“We’d be glad to!” said Ochako readily, nodding feverishly in determination.

“Thanks,” said Kirishima, flashing her and the rest of the students a thumbs-up, coupled with a toothy grin.


 

“Hey, Midoriya.”

There was a hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently but firmly.

“Midoriya, c’mon, dude, you gotta wake up.”

Izuku squeezed his eyes shut, trying to fend off the pounding in his head. He recognized the voice (vaguely), but didn’t exactly feel like responding to it. He felt less nauseous than before, but otherwise, nothing had changed.

“Hey buddy, I know you don’t wanna get up, and I wouldn’t either if I were you, but Recovery Girl wants to take a look at ya and figure out what’s wrong.”

Izuku finally summoned his will and cracked his eyes open. Kirishima grinned at him, though there was a small touch of concern in his eyes.

“He’s up,” Kirishima said over his shoulder as he got to his feet. Izuku sat up with difficulty, clutching his head with a hand when the room spun. He still didn’t feel exactly... grounded. Everything felt kinda...all over the place.

“Morning, Midoriya,” came another voice he recognized, followed by two wrinkled fingers on his wrist. Izuku blinked tiredly at Recovery Girl, wondering why he hadn’t noticed her sooner. After a moment or two, Recovery Girl retracted her hand and turned back towards the door.

“Kirishima, Iida, you can stand outside for now,” Recovery Girl said. “Thank you for looking after him.”

Kirishima and Iida nodded, gave Izuku a final parting glance, then left the room, Iida pulling the door closed behind them. Recovery Girl took a seat in the chair by Izuku’s bed and folded her hands on her lap.

“Do you mind if I ask a few questions, Midoriya?” she asked, her voice low. It took Izuku longer than it should’ve for him to register just what it was she’d said, but when he did, he nodded -- then stopped when his head hurt worse. He really had to remember that nodding equalled more pain, and that he’d be better off with a verbal response.

“Alright,” said Recovery Girl, and she began firing off her questions in a very professional, straightforward manner. “Kirishima told me you threw up sometime last night. Correct?”

“Y-Yes,” Izuku said, then swallowed to clear his throat.

“Have you taken any medication recently? Perhaps something you don’t usually take?”

“N-No, I-I don’t think so…”    

“Are you dizzy?”

“Y-Yes.”

“Have you noticed any light sensitivity?”

“I-I don’t know…”

Recovery Girl pulled a small flashlight from the pocket of her lab coat and flashed it briefly at the floor; Izuku jerked back involuntarily and shut his eyes, the horrible pain in his head increasing again. Recovery Girl flicked the light off immediately and put it away again.

“I assume that hurt.”

“Y-Yes,” said Izuku shakily, rubbing his eyes with the backs of his hands.

“I’m sorry,” said Recovery Girl sincerely, “but I had to know. Your head hurts, correct?”

“Yes.”

“What kind of pain is it? Throbbing, pulsating, pounding…?”

“I-I think pounding, probably...I don’t know…”

“Do you feel anxious or depressed at all?”

Izuku blinked. He hadn’t really been conscious long enough to feel anything, exactly, but...he had noticed being more anxious when it came to his classes the past few days. He’d brushed it off like nothing at first, but maybe he shouldn’t’ve.

“...Maybe,” he answered. “I-I don’t really know, either...sorry…”

“It’s alright, child,” said Recovery Girl, patting him on the hand softly. “And I don’t really need to ask this, I know, but you’re exhausted, too, correct?”

Izuku almost nodded, then settled for a quiet “Yeah,” instead.

She moved her hand, resting it against his forehead. “You don’t seem feverish,” she said, withdrawing her hand and fishing a temple-scan thermometer from her coat. She slid it across his forehead, withdrew it, and looked at the reading.

“Your temperature is normal,” she concluded, setting the thermometer aside. She sighed heavily, shaking her head. “When Iida explained the situation to me earlier, I had my suspicions,” she said, “but I’d hoped it was just a flu bug. Midoriya...I believe this has to do with your concussion.”  

Izuku blinked at her, a sudden, unexplainable feeling overwhelming him. It felt somewhere between confusion, hurt, and frustration. “B-But...it happened so long ago,” Izuku blabbered helplessly. “I-I...I-I thought...I-I thought I was better…”

“It healed, yes,” Recovery Girl, gently tapping the prominent, jagged, white scar on Izuku’s hairline, “but I warned you before that head injuries are complicated things. While you may be healed, there are still repercussions.”

Izuku bit his lip, balling his fists against his knees. His eyes burned; for some reason, he felt like crying. He didn’t know why, but he was suddenly very, very frustrated, not with anyone or anything in particular, just... frustrated, with something.

Recovery Girl squeezed his forearm gently and smiled. “You’ll be alright, Midoriya,” she said. “I’m sorry you have to go through this, but you’ll be alright.”

Izuku ducked his head, then nodded shakily, this time ignoring the pain in his head.

“Anyways,” said Recovery Girl, “your friends are all worried about you. Now, I understand if you don’t quite feel up to seeing them just yet, but…”

“N-No, it’s okay,” Izuku replied quietly. “I-It’s...it’s okay. I’m okay.”

“Well, just know that it’s fine to be otherwise,” said Recovery Girl. “You’re surrounded by people who love and care about you. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it, alright?”

“O-Okay,” Izuku agreed shakily., but he meant the words from his heart  Recovery Girl patted his arm, rose to her feet, and headed out the door of his dorm room, closing it softly behind her.

There was a beat, followed by some muffled, indistinguishable voices -- and then, Kaminari, Mina, Mineta, Sero, and Aoyama tumbled and crashed into the room, landing in an unceremonious heap by the door.

“H-Hey, get off me--!”

“I’m not on you! You, hey, get off--!”

“I can’t move--!”

“Choking, dying, help--!!”

Izuku stared at the five of them momentarily, then cracked a small, pained but honest smile.

Recovery Girl only let his friends visit him five at once, fearing that any more than that would overwhelm him too quickly (according to what Kaminari told him, anyways). The group had, once again, volunteered to take notes for Izuku for the remainder of the time he was unwell, and Izuku thanked them profusely, though they told him it was unnecessary.

“This is just part of what friends do!” said Kaminari, flashing him a thumbs-up and a smirk-like grin. “You worry about recovering, and leave the studying to me!”

“I’m not sure that’s reassuring, coming from you…” said Sero quietly, and Mineta almost died laughing (but he shut up when Sero pointed out that he was no better off).

The rest of the classmates visited likewise in groups of four or five. Most of their conversations were lighthearted and pointless, which was refreshing. Although Izuku felt absolutely horrible, and his eyes were heavy, and his head was spinning, spending time with his friends was always wonderful.


 

“SHIFTS!” Sero shouted suddenly, slamming his fists down onto the coffee table. Kaminari choked on his coffee; Mina leapt backwards too far and tumbled off the back of the couch; Iida took in a deep breath and closed his eyes, the proverbial “last straw” ready to be drawn; and Sato yelped indignantly, jumping nearly a foot in the air.

“We should take shifts!” said Sero again.

“‘Shifts’?” repeated Yaoyorozu; she was the only one who seemed unfazed by his sudden outburst.

“On looking after Midoriya, I mean!” said Sero. “I mean, we can’t all be in his room at the same time, but we can’t just leave him alone there, either! You know how that guy is! He’d rather tumble head-first down a flight of stairs than ask for help!”

Kirishima huffed. “Can’t argue with that.”

“I agree!” said Iida, jumping to his feet and clenching his fist. He didn’t seem even the slightest bit angry now. “That sounds like a great idea!”

And so it began. No matter what happened, the students of Class 1-A made it their sworn duty to make sure Midoriya was never alone for very long. Each student had an hour shift through the duration of the day, and at night, someone went in every couple hours to make sure he was okay.

It was a brilliant system that worked remarkably well. In their minds, anything they could do to help their friend was brilliant.


 

Izuku woke up one evening, alone.

He blinked up at the dark ceiling for a long while, and then, he sat up with difficulty, reaching and clutching his head to stop the nauseating spinning. He didn’t feel nearly as bad as before, but he didn’t feel completely well, either.

He swallowed to wash back the acid in his throat, then saw a small, folded note on the table by the bed, beside two small white pills. He took the note and unfolded it; the words seemed to drift right off the page, and the room was dark, too, so reading was hard, but eventually, he managed to make sense of the note.

Midoriya -

Recovery Girl left these pills for you, but she said you have to eat something with them, so the next time you wake up, give one of us a call and we’ll bring something up for you from the kitchen.

- Iida

Izuku set the note back down as soon as he finished reading it, rubbing his hands over his eyes afterwards. Reading in the dark with his head spinning like it was had been a bad idea, and he sincerely regretted it.

But anyways, pills. Recovery Girl left him some medication to take. Iida hadn’t specified what kind of pills they were in the note, but Izuku assumed they were some kind of painkiller, maybe something to help him sleep.

He massaged his temples with his fingers with a grimace. Painkillers sounded pretty nice right about now. He reached over towards the side table again, this time grabbing his phone. He held it between his hands for a long time, staring at it, thinking.

Do I really want to do this?

He bit his lip, unsure. His friends had already done so much for him, now and in the past, did he really want to burden them further…?

And now that he thought about it, the kitchen wasn’t that far away...maybe he could walk…?

Walking did not sound like a good idea, but if it was a choice between that and burdening one of his friends, Izuku would take the former any day. He was pretty sure it was a horrible idea -- possibly one of the worst bad ideas he’d ever had -- but he just...didn’t want to put his friends through any unnecessary trouble.

Besides, if he took the elevator this time, the kitchen was actually pretty close. He could do it.

He put the phone back where it’d come from, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and pushed off, landing on unsteady feet. He stumbled, and would have hit the floor if he hadn’t managed to latch onto the bedside table. For a few moments, he didn’t dare move, his breath coming in heaving gasps and his stomach lurching, and then, he released his death grip on the table and took a few shaky steps forward.

It was stupid. It was really, really stupid of him, and he knew it. He really should’ve learned his lesson after nearly dying while trying to get down the stairs earlier, but he just...couldn’t help it. He was sure his friends didn’t mind helping him, he was sure they cared about him and would do anything for him, but a small, nagging part in the back of his mind said, But what if they don’t? What if they’re annoyed with you?

He wasn’t sure where the thoughts came from, but they were there, so he left his phone on the table and kept walking, keeping one hand against the wall to steady himself.    

He made it across the room with little problem, and he collapsed against the closed door of his room, breathing heavily. After a moment or two (or it could have been ten minutes -- he really didn’t know), he set his hands against the door and straightened up, black tainting the edges of his vision.

“It’s okay,” he whispered to himself, his words slurring. “I-It’s not hard, just...get to the kitchen…”


 

“...riya...doriya...Midoriya!”

Someone was shaking his shoulder and shouting his name, neither calm nor frantic. Izuku groaned quietly, squeezing his eyes shut. The side of his face was pressed against something not exactly soft, but not exactly hard, either, sort of like--

Oh.

The carpet.

He was on the floor.

He set his palms against the ground and pushed himself upright, clenching his teeth to keep from crying out when the pain in his head went up -- again. Huh. He hadn’t thought that was possible.

“Midoriya, are you alright?”

Izuku swallowed thickly, raising his head just enough to see who’d been calling him. “A-Asui,” he stuttered.

Tsuyu only blinked at him in response, one hand still on his shoulder to steady him. She didn’t even bother reminding him to call her Tsu. “Do you think you can walk if I help you?” she asked seriously.

Izuku considered this, then nodded. “Y-Yeah, probably…”

She took hold of his forearm with both hands, and he leaned against her as he pushed himself to his feet. He stumbled; she steadied him, pulling his arm around her neck and hooking one of her own arms around his waist. She half-carried, half-dragged him across the room, and Izuku was too exhausted to feel embarrassed by it anymore.

“You were trying to go somewhere,” Tsuyu said, and although her tone was flat, Izuku still felt like he was being accused of something horrible.

“Y-Yeah…”

“That was stupid.”

“I-I know.”

“Don’t do it again.”

Izuku swallowed, then nodded, shutting his eyes again. When they finally crossed the room, Izuku flopped face-down onto his bed with a sigh, relieved to be off his shaking legs.

“I’ll go get something from the kitchen so you can take your medication,” Tsuyu told him, her voice seeming to come from far off, and Izuku was vaguely aware of the door closing before he slipped into a restless slumber.


 

“Deku? Hey, Deku?”

Izuku wasn’t ready to be woken up again so soon (if the restless, semi-conscious state he’d been in could really be called “sleeping”), but something in the back of his mind said, The sooner you take the medicine, the sooner you can actually sleep, so he rolled over on his side and pushed himself upright, clutching his head all the while.

“Sorry to wake you,” Ochako said; she was seated on the edge of the bed, her brow creased in concern. “I-I know you’re exhausted, but Tsu asked me to bring this to you…”

“I-It’s fine, Uraraka,” Izuku stammered, and somehow, he managed to offer her a small smile, despite his obvious pain. “Thank you.”

Ochako only nodded, her mind preoccupied with a steaming bowl on the bedside table that definitely hadn’t been there before. “Here, Bakugō made some broth for you.”

Izuku took the bowl from her hands. He didn’t register what she’d said until a few moments later. “W-Wait, you said Kacchan?”

Ochako nodded. “He made me swear not to tell you, but…” Her voice trailed off, and she grabbed a spoon from the table and handed it to him. “Iida said he’d bring up a cup of water for you to take the pills with. I was going to, but my hands were kind of full. He’ll be here any second.”

“Thanks, Uraraka,” Izuku said.

“You don’t have to thank me,” said Ochako easily.

“No, I...I want to,” Izuku insisted. “Thank you...so much.”

Ochako looked at him incredigiously, and then, she smiled. “You’re welcome,” she said. “What kind of friends would we be if we left you to fend for yourself at a time like this?”

Izuku smiled faintly again.

“...Tsu told me she found you on the floor,” Ochako said after another moment. “You...you passed out, right?”

Izuku flinched, then nodded. “Yeah...I think I did…”

“You can ask us for help,” Ochako told him matter-of-factly. “You...you know that, right? I...I don’t know why you keep insisting on fighting things on your own. We’re here for you, all of us.”

Izuku swallowed thickly.

“So...please,” Ochako said. “Just...let us help you next time, okay?”

Izuku looked at her, and she looked right back. They held each other’s gaze for a long, long time before Izuku finally relented.

“...Okay,” he said. “I...I will.”

And Ochako smiled. “Thank you.”

The broth was easy on his stomach (not to mention tasted pretty good as well), and Iida brought the water, just like Ochako had said. Izuku took the pills Recovery Girl left him, and once Iida and Ochako were certain he would be okay, they left the room, leaving him to rest.

Izuku burrowed into the blankets, a numbness cancelling out the previously pounding pain in his head. He felt warm and cared for, and though he was sure he’d feel just as horrible as before once Recovery Girl’s medication wore off, for now, he was at peace.

...I should tell them…

He didn’t know what made him think about it. Maybe it was exhaustion. Maybe it was because he felt like his friends deserved to know. Or maybe it was the medication.

...I should tell them…

...About my past…

His eyes slipped shut, and he dropped off to sleep.