The words still echo through Izuku’s mind, and past the full body ache he felt coming out of surgery, there’s something else now too. He’s sweating, but it’s nothing like what he feels after training. He’s cold, and jittery, and the back of his neck prickles sharply, especially whenever Recovery Girl walks back into view.
All Might had to leave a few minutes ago to change and get ready for the medals ceremony. A few other students ebb in and out of the medical center, and for some reason, Izuku finds himself watching Recovery Girl’s interactions with them, analyzing every word, flinching at every admonishing tone.
And Izuku knows this feeling, it’d be impossible not to after carrying it for nearly a decade before coming to UA. But it’s been months since it last happened so what...
‘Just so you know, I won’t be healing injuries like this anymore!’
“I’m not going to keep doing this, Midoriya!”
‘You need to find a better way for him to use his power, something less self destructive!’
“You’re always so clumsy! And you need to stop provoking those boys, it’s your fault you keep getting hurt.”
Izuku...forgot. He spent the first week or two on edge, trying to read his teachers the way he has every year since second grade. But that quickly fell to the side, in favor of updating his analysis entries on all of them.
Izuku forgot. He’s been so caught up in his hero worship that he forgot. The staff at UA are all heroes, but they’re also teachers. And teachers don’t like him. Up until now, he’s been seeing Recovery Girl’s actions towards him as scolding, exasperated maybe, yet still tinged with fondness towards a hero hopeful.
But...was he wrong? Was he always one mistake away from-
‘I won’t be healing injuries like this anymore!’
“I won’t waste any more time on you!”
Izuku’s vision grays at the edges, as he looks down at his scarred hands and wonders. Is it...just Recovery Girl? Or has Izuku missed the warning signs with all of his teachers?
He remembers now, and he has to be careful.
There’s an awkward gap between choosing their hero names and waiting for internship week. Izuku’s skin crawls under his uniform, and the bandages on his arms and hands itch unbearably, leave him flushed and overheated.
His notes have been suffering so far today, as he loses focus on lectures to carefully note his teachers’ expressions when they look at him, and their tone when they say his name. And the pain...Izuku forgot this too. The sore muscles and joints, a result of sitting tensed in his seat for hours.
He used to be better at this, back in middle school. He knew how to keep a watch on his teacher, and his peers, and still keep his notes up to standard. He could anticipate shifts in tone, predict when attention would be fired his way, and prepare accordingly. It’s been just over a month, and he’s out of practice. So when Yamada-sensei calls on him to read the next phrase on the board, he jumps. Stupid.
Hizashi knows some of the kids are all probably still worn out from the Sports Festival, even with the days off they had after. Especially the ones who made it to the third round, and especially Midoriya. He’s doing his best to keep things light today, and he purposefully picked a few English tongue twisters for the kiddos to try out. Laughter is the best medicine after all.
Midoriya is nervous, Hizashi can tell from the way he jumped when he called on the little listener, but his attempt is good! His tongue twister isn’t easy, but he very nearly gets it. He just stumbles over a few words, and Hizashi laughs good naturedly, flashing the kid a big smile.
“You almost had it, little listener!” He praises. “Keep practicing, and you’ll get that one in no time!”
Izuku is burning as he sinks into his seat, Yamada-sensei’s laughter still ringing sharply through his ears, echoed by the laughter of his classmates.
‘You almost had it,’ Yamada-sensei says. Izuku doesn’t believe him.
“I suppose that’s close enough.”
‘Keep practicing, and you’ll get that one in no time!’ Past Yamada-sensei’s smile, Izuku can’t help but wonder if he’s being mocked.
“Keep practicing Midoriya, maybe you’ll have a chance to catch up with the rest of the class.”
Out of all his coworkers, Ectoplasm prides himself on being the best at keeping a close eye on all twenty students at once. And no, not with the use of his quirk, though he did get good at it because of his quirk. Awareness of his surroundings and everyone in them comes naturally, but it’s also a skill he’s honed for years. Aizawa is the only one who may edge him out of that ‘best’ spot someday.
So Ectoplasm can tell, just minutes after class begins, that Midoriya Izuku is having a bad day. He hasn’t seen the boy this on edge or jittery since the first week of class. He makes a mental note to say something to Aizawa. For now, he keeps class moving, and calls on Midoriya when it’s his turn.
His stutter from that first week is back as well, and he won’t look right at Ectoplasm. The man tries not to let that sting. Midoriya was the first child to ever look at him without a trace of fear the day they first met, and Ectoplasm thinks he understands now why some heroes like attention.
Midoriya’s answer is close, but he skipped a step towards the end of the problem, leaving him with the incorrect answer. Ectoplasm tells him this, as gently as he can. Instead of the usual determined spark in his eyes though, there’s distress. Ectoplasm decides to let the kid have a break for the rest of the hour, and doesn’t call on him again.
Damn it, damn it, damn it! How could he have missed that step? Ectoplasm-sensei is ignoring him now, not even looking at him to answer another question, and Izuku feels like his chest is full of wasps.
He can do better, he knows he can do better, but sensei won’t look at him, won’t call on him, won’t let him try again.
“I gave you your chance Midoriya. I have other students to teach, you know.”
Izuku curls a hand over the back of his head and ducks his face down, keeping his eyes on his notes. If sensei is in the mood to ignore him, he needs to stay small. Shame curls in his gut, and Izuku tries to ignore the feeling of his classmates’ eyes burning into him.
Something is wrong with Midoriya. Shouta wouldn’t have needed Ectoplasm’s note to figure that out, he just knows. The kid is curled in on himself, his hands are shaking, and his lip is bitten raw. Shouta’s seen him anxious before, but never this bad. He has two options here, and he wrestles between them, weighing the consequences of each. He can let Midoriya participate in the exercise, and see if the activity coaxes that spark of determination out of him. Or he can have the kid sit out, give him a break and some time to himself.
While Shouta is deciding what to do, and the kids are waiting for instructions, Kaminari and Kirishima say something that gets to Bakugou, and the boy pops off a few small explosions in their direction to make his anger known. Midoriya flinches, and that makes Shouta’s decision for him. If the kid is this on edge right now, it’s not safe for him to participate. He could get hurt.
Rather than single the kid out and remove him in front of everyone, Shouta explains the exercise and sends the brats to the locker rooms to change. Before Midoriya can leave, Shouta subtly gets his attention and motions him over.
Midoriya’s shoulders hunch as he walks over, and his hands twist and bunch together in front of him, which can’t be good for him after what happened at the Sports Festival. Shouta reaches out and taps lightly on Midoriya’s hand, frowning when the kid freezes and tenses.
“Don’t do that,” Shouta scolds, as gently as he can. Midoriya nods and puts his hands at his sides, and Shouta notices that he stills almost entirely, save for some small twitches here and there. Shouta sighs and lays a hand on the kid’s shoulder.
“You seem pretty wound up today,” Shouta says. “Is everything alright?” Midoriya’s mouth thins into a tight line, and he nods firmly.
“I’m fine, sensei,” he replies, a faint tremble in his voice. Shouta frowns.
“Are you sure?” Shouta presses. “If there’s anything wrong, you can tell me. If I can’t help you myself, I’ll find someone who can. Okay?”
“Yes, sensei,” Midoriya whispers. “But I’m fine.” Hmm. Shouta will have to stop pressing, for now at least.
“Alright,” He relents. “But I think you should sit out today. This exercise requires a lot of focus, and I’m worried you’ll get hurt.” Shouta likes to think he knows Midoriya pretty well by now, so he’s expecting a burst of energy, fists clenched at his sides, loud, passionate protesting. That’s not what happens.
Midoriya...wilts. His face just barely starts to crumple before he seems to catch himself and smooths it out.
“Yes, sensei,” he repeats, even quieter than before. Shouta wonders for a moment if the kid even spoke. Something is wrong, and Shouta has to admit, it’s scaring him a little. He squeezes the kid’s shoulder lightly.
“Why don’t you go see Recovery Girl?” He suggests. “Maybe some rest will do you good.” Midoriya nods, so Shouta writes him a note and sends him on his way.
He has a hard time getting that small, quiet voice out of his head for the rest of the day.
‘I think you should sit out today.’
“Midoriya, go sit on the bench. You’re not joining today.”
‘I’m worried you’ll get hurt.’
“You’re just going to get hurt if you try to play like everyone else. You’re too fragile.”
Aizawa-sensei knows. Aizawa-sensei is like them.
No! No, that can’t be right. Aizawa-sensei saved them, protected them at the USJ. He still wears the proof of his care for them on his body. Maybe he hates Izuku, like the rest of them, but he’s still, he’s not like them. He can’t be.
Izuku doesn’t want to see Recovery Girl. He’s not injured from his quirk, but he still feels guilty, and he’s scared that she’ll grow even more tired of him if he’s back in her office so soon. He’s done nothing but make mistakes today, he can’t keep doing this!
He has to be better. He has to do better.
He stops as he’s passing one of the training facilities. Eta, he thinks. It’s a large building filled with smaller training rooms, fit for individuals or small groups. Izuku peers through the window, and doesn’t see anyone working a check-in area or anything. He tries the door, and the air in his chest rushes out in a gasp when it opens. He steps inside and starts looking around, until he ends up walking down the hall that has the individualized rooms. He sees one that’s empty and approaches it.
His heart hammers at his throat, and he tries the door. Locked. Damn it! It’s then that he notices a spot for his ID to scan, and he realizes that students probably have to reserve a room, to get keyed in. No matter how much he wants to try his ID on the door, he knows it’s not a good idea.
“Trying to sneak in some extra training?” A voice startles him from behind, and Izuku yelps. He whirls around to see an older boy, a second or third year, grinning at him.
“Wh- uh, no!” Izuku waves his hands frantically. “I was just looking, honest!” The boy laughs and shakes his head.
“Don’t look so nervous, I’m not gonna get you in trouble!” He nudges Izuku to the side and swipes his ID on the door. “You were pretty badass in the Festival. So I don’t mind giving you my hour.” The door beeps and the boy opens it for Izuku. “Just try not to break anything, okay? I’d rather not get in trouble with Snipe-sensei.”
Izuku tries to argue, but the boy just places a hand between his shoulders and pushes him into the room. Izuku realizes that any resistance his feet should have made as he dug them into the ground seems to have done nothing. Negated by the boy’s touch? By the time he turns around to gush about the boy’s quirk, he’s gone, the door swinging shut behind him.
Izuku turns back around and looks at the room. It’s small compared to the rest of the facility, but it’s still probably bigger than all of the rooms in his apartment combined. There’s equipment stored neatly along one of the walls, along with some training dummies. Izuku sets his bag down and shrugs out of his uniform jacket and dress shirt, down to his undershirt. He moves one of the dummies to the center of the room, and secures it in place.
He starts with some warmups and stretching, and then cycles through some basic exercises, not using his quirk yet. It feels good to burn off some of this energy, to work his nerves and anger out on the dummy. But that only lasts for so long, before Izuku’s mind starts to catch up with him.
As he starts thinking about how to use his quirk without hurting himself, he wonders what Aizawa-sensei told the rest of the class when they returned from the lockers and he wasn’t there. Did anyone even notice? A pitiful part of his mind whispers.
Of course they did! Iida and Uraraka would notice, at the very least. But what did Aizawa-sensei tell them? That he was too weak to join them? Too fragile? That they had to be careful with him since he’s quirkless-
That’s not now. That’s not Aizawa-sensei. He doesn’t know, and even if he did...
If he did...what would he say? How would he treat Izuku? How would any of them treat him if they knew? Would they still want to be his friend? Would they still smile at him, accept him for all of his weird habits? Kacchan could tell them, but he hasn’t. But what if he did? Why hasn’t he?
None of them know yet, but Yamada-sensei still made fun of him. Ectoplasm-sensei still ignored him. Aizawa-sensei still figured out that he’s weak. Recovery Girl still...still grew tired of helping him. Won’t help him anymore, because if he gets hurt, it’s his own fault.
And he does. Get hurt, that is. He’s so tangled in his thoughts, so tightly wound, that when he tries to break free, he accidentally uses One for All for a split second when he throws his next punch at the dummy. Thankfully, nothing in the room breaks.
Izuku’s left wrist isn’t so lucky. He’s broken enough bones by now to know that it’s almost certainly broken. He keens quietly, and cradles his wrist close to his chest, tears stinging his eyes. The Eta Facility isn’t too far from Recovery Girl’s office, it’s just a short walk and then-
Then nothing. He can’t go to her. She’ll be able to tell, she’ll know he hurt himself with his quirk again, and she told him. She won’t heal injuries like this anymore. He has to deal with this on his own.
There’s a first aid kit in the room, and he gets lucky. There’s a wrist brace, along with a cold pack. He unwraps the bandages that were already on his wrist, leftover from the Sports Festival, and awkwardly gets the brace on and into place. He whimpers quietly whenever he jostles his wrist too much, and winces at the cold after he snaps the pack and places it down over his wrist. Then he carefully and clumsily wraps the bandages back into place.
It’s a bit messy, and bulky because of the brace under it, but Izuku is pretty sure that once his uniform sleeve is covering it, he’ll be able to keep it hidden.
Getting his dress shirt and uniform jacket back on is a slow and painful process, his wrist throbbing sharply in time with his hammering heartbeat. And Izuku...he’s been in pain before. He’s had pain worse than this before. But something, some child-like instinct, still has him crouch in the corner of the room by his bag, crying quietly as he rocks himself.
He doesn’t know if he can do this. If he can work around broken bones, until he finds a way to use his quirk without hurting himself anymore. And he has to. All Might has said plenty of times, he doesn’t know what’s different for Izuku, why Izuku is struggling to control this power when he was able to use it at 100% from the very beginning. Izuku knows, though.
It’s because All Might is strong, and worthy, and Izuku isn’t. Maybe the quirk knows. Maybe One for All feels cheated, being stolen from the Symbol of Peace by a weak, quirkless kid. He’ll have to earn it then. Earn the right to use this quirk, get stronger through the pain until it stops hurting. He’s been doing that since he was four years old, he can do it a little longer.
Izuku makes sure the room is set back the way he found it before he leaves. By the time he gets back to the classroom, Aizawa-sensei and the others are back too, filing into the room. Izuku can feel everyone’s eyes on him, Aizawa-sensei’s especially.
He needs to do better, be better. He has to.
Something about Midoriya is still off when he rejoins the class, and it nags Shouta all through the night. He hounds his fellow teachers before he leaves that day, asking for every detail they can remember about the classes they taught, trying to piece together what might be wrong. They all say the same things. Midoriya seemed down, or off, so in their own ways, they tried to encourage him, if appropriate, or give him space otherwise.
Shouta can’t ignore the feeling that he’s missing something. Something important that will make everything else make sense. The feeling is still with him the following day, and seeing Midoriya when he walks into homeroom only makes it worse. The kid looks miserable. Or rather, to the untrained eye, he looks normal. But his smile is strained, his eyes carry pain, and Shouta can tell the kid doesn’t want to be here.
There’s an ugly thought forming in Shouta’s head, one he hopes isn’t true. Midoriya’s mood seemed to shift after they returned to school, after the Sports Festival. And now, the kid is definitely hurt and in pain, even if Shouta can’t figure out where. There are two theories in Shouta’s mind.
Midoriya spends an unusual amount of time with All Might outside of class, and met with the man frequently leading up to the Sports Festival. Shouta doesn’t like the idea that the Number One hero would belittle and hurt a child for failing to win, but he can’t dismiss it as a possibility, even if it seems ridiculous.
The other possibility, of course, is that someone at home hurt Midoriya. Either because of his performance in the Festival, or for some other reason. Shouta thinks that’s the more likely possibility, as much as he hates the thought. He’s no stranger to abused kids, but it’s always harder when it’s one of his students. Especially one that he has a mild soft spot for.
He sends a discreet message to his coworkers asking them to keep an eye on the kid leading up to lunch. It’s much the same as yesterday, though they do mention that the kid seems a bit more lively and determined today. They see it as a positive thing, but to Shouta, it’s dangerous. He remembers that small, quiet voice from yesterday, the way the kid curled in on himself. Midoriya may just be more determined to hide his problems today.
Shouta enters the classroom just as the bell releases the students for lunch and approaches his desk at the front of the room. He tries for the most casual approach he can.
“Midoriya, stick around for just a minute,” he calls out. He watches through his hair as Midoriya tenses and nods, and though he smiles at the teasing from his classmates, it’s even more strained than it was this morning. After everyone has finally filed out, Shouta walks to the door and closes it, seeing Midoriya flinch from the corner of his eye.
“You’re not in trouble,” Shouta says gently, frowning when his words don’t seem to help at all. Midoriya nods politely and shifts in his seat.
“What, um, what did you want to talk about?” He asks, voice raising in pitch towards the end of his question. Shouta walks over and stands near Midoriya’s desk, leaning against Sero’s.
“I wanted to ask you again if everything is alright,” Shouta begins carefully. He holds up a hand to halt whatever answer the kid was going to give. “Because I think you’re in pain.” There, Midoriya definitely flinched at that, as minute as it was. “Kid, I’m trying to help.” Midoriya gnaws on his lip for a moment before he finally answers.
“I’m just a little sore,” he says. The words sound careful, measured. “From the Sports Festival. I wasn’t expecting it to still hurt a bit, but I guess it makes sense. I did have surgery this time.” And that? That’s news to Shouta. His eyebrows raise and he steps closer to the kid’s desk.
“Surgery?” He repeats, testing the word. Midoriya looks up at him and nods, confusion and wariness in his eyes.
“On, um, on my arm, and my hand,” Midoriya explains, a faint tremor in his voice now. Shouta wasn’t informed of that, and it bothers him. He looks at the boy's arms and hands, and it’s then that he notices the way Midoriya is holding his left wrist. He doesn’t think first. He steps closer, reaches out, and takes the boy’s wrist in his hand. His grip isn’t tight, but it is somewhat firm, and Midoriya...
He whimpers, and reacts with a full body flinch, curling in on himself...but he doesn’t pull away. He leaves his wrist in Shouta’s grip, despite the way his arm trembles, despite the fact that it’s definitely Shouta’s grip that’s hurting him. Shouta releases him immediately, and meets the boy’s eyes. Midoriya looks so wrong. Hurt, betrayed, afraid. Afraid of him.
“Midoriya,” Shouta says softly, slowly crouching so he can better see the boy’s face. “I’m sorry, kid. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t realize it was...injured.” Midoriya’s mouth trembles, and he looks like he wants to believe Shouta. “Will you show me? My hands will stay right here.” Shouta places his hands on his own knees, keeping them visible. After some time, Midoriya relents and nods.
The kid shrugs out of his uniform jacket and awkwardly unwraps the bandage from around his wrist. Shouta wants nothing more than to help, but he has to do this on the boy’s terms. He can’t stop the hissing breath he sucks in through his teeth when he sees the brace that’s under the bandages, and the dark bruising around the kid’s wrist.
“Oh, kid,” Shouta whispers brokenly. “Alright. Let’s get you to Recovery Girl.”
If Shouta thought the kid’s flinch when he grabbed his wrist was bad, it’s nothing compared to the flinch he sees now, or the way Midoriya shakes his head and shrinks back in his seat. Shouta settles back down on his heels and tries to puzzle this out. He can’t.
“You don’t want to go to Recovery Girl?” Shouta asks carefully. Midoriya ducks his face down, hair shielding his eyes, but it doesn’t stop Shouta from seeing the tears that drip down his chin.
“Can’t,” Midoriya’s voice is hoarse, and broken. Shouta’s hands shake a little against his thighs.
“Sh-She said, I-, she won’t heal injuries like this anymore,” Midoriya chokes out between quiet hitching breaths, near sobs. Shouta’s blood boils so quickly that it runs cold, and he can’t control himself. He can’t stop the dangerous tone that enters his voice.
“She said what?” He hisses. Midoriya flinches, but before Shouta can apologize, the kid seems to figure out Shouta isn’t angry at him.
“It’s my fault,” he whimpers, and Shouta hates those words, always hates those words when they come from the mouth of a child, but never has he hated them this much. “I’m the one who keeps breaking my bones. I have to find a better way.”
“Midor...Izuku, please look at me,” Shouta begs, voice shaking with his anger. Midoriya lifts his head, just enough to meet Shouta’s eyes through the fringe of his hair. “There is no excuse for withholding medical treatment from anyone, especially a child. It doesn’t matter how you got hurt. It is Recovery Girl’s job to treat you. We all have to face consequences for our actions, but there is no reason why you should have to suffer like this for yours. You have done nothing wrong. Will you let me take you to the staff room?”
Midoriya begins to tremble about halfway through Shouta’s speech, and jerks his head down in a nod when he’s done. Shouta stands and stays close when Midoriya follows suit, grabbing the kid’s uniform jacket and bag for him.
Shouta leads him down to the staff room, and tucks him into his private office. He gets the kid seated on his couch, and after some gentle coaxing, has Midoriya hand over his wrist so Shouta can get the brace on properly. He also gives him some ice, and an appropriate dose of a good painkiller.
“I’ll be back in just a few minutes,” Shouta says. “Until then, I’ll make sure Mic knows not to let anyone in here, okay?” Midoriya sniffles quietly and nods. Before Shouta leaves, he reaches behind the couch for one of his comfy blankets, handing it to the kid. He closes the door on the sight of Midoriya wrapping himself in the soft fabric, and turns around to face Hizashi.
“Don’t tell anyone he’s in there, and keep them out,” Shouta says. Hizashi, who before Shouta spoke, looked like he wanted to tease him, now sobers and frowns.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you this angry in a long time,” Hizashi sounds worried. “Is everything alright?”
“No,” Shouta replies through grit teeth. “But I’m handling it.” Hizashi accepts that and squeezes his shoulder.
“Okay,” he says. “Just remember that I’m here if you need me.” Shouta nods sharply.
“I know, that’s why you’re guarding the kid for me,” Shouta reminds him. Hizashi smiles and bumps his fist against Shouta’s shoulder, stepping aside to let him leave.
Shouta enters Recovery Girl’s office, and his temper flares when he sees she’s not there, before he remembers that she’s likely at lunch. He’s just about to turn around and march through the school to find her, when he has a different thought. He steps the rest of the way into her office, and lets the door close behind him.
Her computer isn’t locked, so Shouta opens her files and looks through the first year student folders until he finds Midoriya’s. It’s empty. Shouta’s stomach twists, and he looks around the office, eyes catching on a filing cabinet with a lock in the far corner. It takes him a few minutes to pick, and he finds a folder of paper files for Midoriya stashed in the back of the drawer.
He flips through and begins to read, and tries to make sense of everything through his ever growing rage.
For starters, not one of Midoriya’s injuries since the start of the term seem to have been reported to his mother. Her signature is missing from every single incident report, replaced instead with Recovery Girl’s.
Even worse, the consent form for Izuku’s surgery seems to have been signed by All Might and Nedzu. Shouta doesn’t understand what the fuck is going on, but whatever it is can’t be good.
But what really catches Shouta’s eye are the pages of notes on Midoriya’s injuries. Comments about his quirk, theorizing why it keeps injuring him the way it does. Comparing it to...to All Might, and his use of his quirk when he was Midoriya’s age.
Once again, Shouta feels like something is missing. Something that would connect these dots into a full picture, instead of the muddy image they are now. But he doubts he’ll get those answers if he asks nicely. No. Shouta has no intention of asking. He closes the folder and the filing cabinet, and takes the folder with him as he leaves Recovery Girl’s office.
He returns to the staff room to find it, thankfully, still empty besides Hizashi. He steps into his office, and softens when he sees that Midoriya has fallen asleep, curled up on the couch in Shouta’s blanket.
Immediate problem first, he needs to get the kid some proper treatment for his wrist. Then they can deal with the file. He opens the folder and flips to the front page, then takes out his phone and dials the number listed.
“Midoriya-san,” Shouta says politely. “My name is Aizawa Shouta, I’m your son’s homeroom teacher at UA. I need a few minutes of your time.”
Shouta should have known his phone conversation with Midoriya-san would be longer than a few minutes. Despite how much he was buzzing with impatience, he understood why she was crying so much. He can’t imagine how difficult it would be to learn that your child was injured and kept it hidden from you. He gained her permission to take Midoriya to a hospital for some treatment, after which he’ll take the boy home, so he can sit down with Midoriya-san and show her everything else.
Midoriya seems nervous about going to the hospital, until Shouta reassures him that he’s been treated there before. Predictably, the boy is fascinated by the quirk used to heal the worst of his injury, flower petals that bloom and cover the doctor’s hand before she touches his wrist, and the petals glow until the healing is complete. He’s left with some minor bruising and aching, with instructions to take it easy and ice the area until the bruising heals.
His excitement quickly drains when he remembers that Shouta is bringing him home. More than once during the train ride, Shouta has to remind him to not twist his hands together. As they climb the stairs to Midoriya’s floor, Shouta begins to wonder if he’s misjudged the situation. He stops Midoriya in the hall before they reach his door.
“Kid,” Shouta says. “Is your mom...does she hurt you? Is that why you’re nervous?” Midoriya’s eyes widen in a way that would be comical in any other situation.
“No!” He yelps, quickly clapping a hand over his mouth to stifle the sound, removing it a moment later and lowering his volume. “No. Mom has never hurt me, I promise, sensei. She’s...she’s the best. I just, it’s. There’s so much I haven’t told her, and I’m scared she might want to pull me out of UA.” Honestly, Shouta wouldn’t blame her if she did. But he doesn’t say that out loud. Instead, he nods and squeezes the boy’s shoulder reassuringly.
“I understand,” Shouta nods. “I just had to be sure.” Midoriya sounds relieved when he sighs, and he lets Shouta into the apartment when they reach the door. Midoriya-san predictably fusses over her son, still teary eyed from earlier it seems, though she is quick to offer Shouta some tea as well. Shouta doesn’t much care either way, but he accepts, because he imagines the social niceties will help calm her.
They sit in the living room together, with cups of tea, and some cookies on a tray. Shouta opens the folder he took from Recovery Girl’s office, and hands over some of the files.
“I need you to tell me if you were ever contacted about any of these injuries,” Shouta says. Midoriya’s eyes widen again, and Shouta can’t help but split his attention between the boy and his mother. Tears glide over Midoriya-san’s cheeks as she reads, shaking her head. She looks at her son, and Shouta can see how much she’s trying not to look betrayed.
“Izuku, why...why didn’t you tell me about this?”
Midoriya looks down at his lap and shrugs, then shakes his head. Shouta frowns and hands over another file to his mother.
“And...this?” He asks. Midoriya-san presses her hand to her mouth this time, stifling a sob as she reads about the surgery performed on her son less than a week ago. The boy in question squeezes his eyes shut and flinches at the sound of his mother’s crying. Shouta wants the answer now. He wants whatever that missing piece is, because it feels closer than ever, yet simultaneously like it might slip from his hands without warning.
“Recovery Girl has several pages on your son’s quirk, and the injuries it has caused him,” Shouta says carefully. “And the reason I’m here at all, is because after his surgery, she apparently told him she would no longer heal injuries caused by his quirk.”
Midoriya-san breaks. She presses both hands to her mouth and curves down over herself, her body shaking with the force of her cries. Midoriya’s eyes snap open, flooded with guilt as he watches his mother cry, frozen next to her. Shouta raises from his seat and crosses over to crouch in front of them, looking up at the mother.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” Shouta admits, as much as it pains him. “But I want to help. Something here isn’t right. And Recovery Girl, All Might, even Principal Nedzu, they’re all in on it.” Shouta glances at Midoriya, sees him still unmoving, every bit of him still screaming his guilt. He knows something, but Shouta doesn’t know how to ask.
“Sh-She was, was the one who called me,” Midoriya-san’s breath hitches as she cries. “To tell me about Izuku’s quirk, when it came in at the entrance exam.” Shouta stiffens and stares between them.
“When it...what?” Shouta barely breathes. Midoriya is shaking now, hands fisted in the fabric of his pants.
“I know,” Midoriya-san says. “It sounds crazy, but my boy was quirkless until then, we were sure of it. We had the x-ray of his foot and everything. And then, Recovery Girl, she called, and said Izuku had manifested a quirk. She said it must have been dormant, until his body was strong enough to use it. She...” Midoriya-san’s voice softens, and she sounds like she’s far away from them as she speaks. “She strongly discouraged me from taking Izuku to a specialist for a second opinion. She told me it would just be a waste of money. I believed her, because she’s a hero. I believed her, and now, all of this, I...”
Shouta is still watching Midoriya, watching the way he shakes, and flinches, and his eyes dart towards the door like he’s thinking of running. Shouta reaches out, slowly, and lays a hand over one of Midoriya’s. The boy startles violently, looking down at Shouta with wild eyes.
“Izuku,” Shouta says softly, rubbing his thumb over the boy’s hand. Over his scars. “Please.” Midoriya bows his head, eyes squeezing shut again, as his mother realizes what Shouta does, that her son has answers. Her hands hover and dance over his form, ghosting across his arm and his cheek, brushing hair back from his eyes. Shouta continues to stroke his knuckles, both of them giving gentle comfort, trying to coax the boy into speaking.
“All Might,” Midoriya finally whispers, barely breathing the man’s name. “I got my quirk from All Might.”
It shouldn’t make sense, because it doesn’t. Except it does. Shouta may not know exactly what it means, but the dots all suddenly snap together, into a clear, and enraging picture.
He tells them then. Of a quirk that stockpiles power, passed from one person to the next. Of eight users before him, all champions of justice, including the man himself, All Might. How they met, what happened on the roof, with the sludge villain, how All Might then offered the boy his quirk, and trained him to prepare for it.
All the while, Shouta and Midoriya-san are careful to stay gentle with him, even as anger burns in their eyes. The boy is exhausted when he finishes, and Shouta retreats to let Midoriya-san convince her son to go to his room for a nap. When she returns, she all but collapses onto the couch, and Shouta joins her.
For a long time, nearly an hour, both of them are silent. They sit, side by side, stewing in their rage. At All Might, for training a child for this power that breaks his body, without ever thinking to involve the boy’s mother, or Shouta, once he started at UA. At Recovery Girl, for keeping All Might’s secret, and for hiding the boy’s injuries from his mother so she wouldn’t pull him from UA, because he needed to stay with All Might. With Nedzu, for allowing it all, for reasons still unknown to them. Shouta is the one to finally break the silence.
“I’ll help you,” he murmurs. “If you want to...”
“Sue?” Midoriya-san finishes for him, matching his volume. He nods. He means it. She’s well within her rights to sue, and Shouta can’t bring himself to think of a single reason why she shouldn’t.
“I can’t,” Midoriya-san whispers. “I can’t.” Shouta’s mouth twists down, and he wants to shake her, to take this timid woman by the shoulders and demand to know why. Instead, he turns his head to look at her, and she does the same to look at him. He doesn’t need to ask.
“Those villains, they’re already targeting UA,” Midoriya-san says. “Targeting All Might. Izuku could be a target too. If I...if I do that, if it got out, what they did, it could ruin them. And I don’t want to care, but I...it would give those villains what they want. And I would be taking All Might away from Izuku, and he’s the only one who actually understands this quirk. I would be putting so many people in danger. What if the villains went after more kids, while the school is breaking? What if they found out about Izuku, or...” She doesn’t finish, but Shouta understands. He can see the logic. Too many innocents could be hurt and put in danger, for the sake of one kid. One family. But fuck, aren’t they enough?
“Something has to change,” Shouta says. “It can’t go on like this. I won’t let it.” Midoriya-san smiles weakly at him, and reaches out to pat his hand.
“You’re a good man, Aizawa-san.”
Mom and Aizawa-sensei have been in a room meeting with Principal Nedzu, All Might, and Recovery Girl for hours. The room is definitely sound proofed. Izuku has tried pressing his ear to the door, to try and hear something, anything. His only reward had been silence, so he now sits on a couch in the staff room, trying to get some of his homework done. He doesn’t know if he made the right choice, telling Mom and Aizawa-sensei the truth, but he didn’t know what else to do.
He jumps when the door finally opens, and Aizawa-sensei walks out. No one else joins them, even as Aizawa-sensei drops down on the couch next to him with a heavy sigh. Izuku bites at his lip and fidgets, trying to work up the courage to apologize.
“Your mom is a lot scarier than I gave her credit for,” Aizawa-sensei murmurs. Izuku looks at him, as the man puts his eye drops in, and can’t help a small smile.
“I’ve heard that before,” Izuku replies. Aizawa-sensei chuckles and nods.
“Yeah, I bet,” he groans as he sits up and stretches, and then he finally looks at Izuku. “Recovery Girl is going to retire.” Izuku goes numb with shock and guilt, tears stinging his eyes. Aizawa-sensei brushes away some that fall with his thumb. “It’s not your fault, kid. She...she made a lot of mistakes. She says she never actually intended to withhold treatment from you, and I believe her, but...she never should have told you she wouldn’t. We’re lucky it was just a broken wrist you tried to hide.” Izuku ducks his head down and fights back more tears.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” he admits. “For her to leave, when Principal Nedzu and All Might...”
“Trust me, they’re on thin fucking ice,” Aizawa-sensei growls, and Izuku stares at him in shock. The man at least looks embarrassed about his outburst. “Uh. Sorry. What I mean is, your mom is still laying into them pretty good. They’ll have to meet her terms. Recovery Girl chose to retire on her own.”
“Oh,” Izuku whispers. He’s still not sure how he feels about that.
“Nedzu is going to hire a full medical team,” Aizawa-sensei continues. “Which, quite frankly, we should’ve had years ago. And uh, I guess there’s more All Might needs to tell you about your quirk, so we’re gonna deal with that this weekend. From now on, any time you meet or train with All Might, I have to be there too.”
Izuku flinches and curls inward, already bracing himself for harsh words. “I’m sorry,” he whispers. Aizawa-sensei sighs softly.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, kid.”
“I-I’m, I’ve caused you so much trouble, and now you, you have to do this, waste your time on me, a-and-“
“I don’t have to do anything,” Aizawa-sensei cuts him off. “And helping you, teaching you, will never be a waste of time. You are not a burden on us, Izuku. On any of us. We love teaching you, kid.” Izuku can’t comprehend that. It just doesn’t make sense. He lifts his head and looks at Aizawa-sensei, and his protests dry up on his tongue. Aizawa-sensei is smiling at him, and the fond look in his eyes can’t be mistaken for anything else.
“I know it might take you some time to believe that again,” Aizawa-sensei continues. “And that’s okay. We’ll give you all the time you need, kid. One day, I hope I can earn your trust.” Izuku’s vision blurs, but even through his tears he can still see his teacher. The fresh scar under his eye. The gentle smile. The genuine care. The fact that Aizawa-sensei knows, and it hasn’t changed anything. With a burst of courage, Izuku throws his arms around the man’s neck and holds tight to him. Aizawa-sensei’s arms lift to circle around him in return, and Izuku speaks nothing but the truth when he says,
“You already have.”