“I’m… what?” Izuku asks, brows furrowed at his physiotherapist. Watanabi sighs, pressing the bag into his hands again. “Isn’t there anything else I could do instead? Like – like art, maybe? I’m good at art, maybe I could try traditional painting-”
“Give this a try first,” Watanabi insists. “If you don’t find it to be beneficial, then we can discuss other forms of treatment. It’s getting colder outside, maybe it would be good for you to spend some time making it a little bit warmer for yourself."
“Knitting,” they huff in response. “Our time’s up for today, Midoriya. I’ll see you in a month, and if you haven’t been practicing, I will know.”
Izuku grumbles, peeking inside the bag as he walks back to his dorm; he’s glad that Yuuei have called in a physiotherapist for him, especially now it means he doesn’t have to travel two hours each direction to see them, but he’s not totally sure what knitting is supposed to do for his hands.
He’s lost a lot of fine motor control, his handwriting is worsening with every degree the temperature drops, and he’s on the verge of needing to type up his notes in class. Izuku just hopes it doesn’t get that bad, and he’s at least willing to try knitting, but he’s not totally sure how it’s going to end up.
There’s only Shinsou napping on the couch when he gets inside, toeing off his shoes and sneaking up to his room before anybody catches him with a few rolls of wool and a pack of knitting needles. They must all be working on tomorrow’s essay, and he’s just glad he finidhed his before his meeting.
So he sets himself at his desk, turns on his computer, and navigates to a simple knitting tutorial and watches.
He doesn’t try to follow along for the first watch through, instead trying to familiarise himself with the knitting terms, how to hold a needle, and how to balance the thread in his fingers.
“Okay,” Izuku mutters to himself, squinting at the screen as he pulls the wool and needles from the bag. He has a few… what are they called? Balls? Of wool, and a 12-pack of needles in 6 different sizes. He picks a set somewhere in the middle and rolls them between his fingers, adjusting to the weight of them in his hand before he steels himself.
Grateful he had asked not to be bothered tonight after physio, Izuku takes a deep breath and winds the yarn around one needle like the video instructs him to and tries to knit.
Overall, he is not entirely successful.
His square, by the time he finishes more than an hour later, is less a square and more a rhombus, so he frowns at the grey mass and stares at the YouTube video, comparing them and trying to spot where he went wrong. He’s definitely dropped a few stitches along the little square, and he must have been way too loose judging from how misshaped it is, but it’s not entirely a fail.
Maybe he’s just optimistic.
He feels less optimistic about the pain in his hands, though.
“I thought this was supposed to help,” Izuku mutters, dropping the needles and running through the stretches he’d been taught on his first session. “Not make the pain worse.”
Still, Izuku thinks an hour’s work for today is enough to get him off the hook, so he’ll try it again tomorrow and see if he improves any.
The next time he comes to his knitting, he only has thirty minutes before class, having finished his morning routine. Normally, he’d scroll through Hero news, but the knitting needles are glaring at him, so he gives in and reluctantly unravels the square he made yesterday to begin all over again.
He’s faster than he was yesterday, but he still has an oddly shaped rectangle by the time he needs to leave. He thinks it’s a bit of an improvement, and there are fewer dropped stitches, so he’s a little bit more positive as he heads out to class for today, stretching out his hands as he walks.
Izuku decidedly does not think about how his writing has not improved at all and knows that he needs to do this for a while before he sees long-term effects anyway.
He comes back to his desk after the rest of his friends excuse themselves at the end of the evening and finds he isn’t quite tired enough yet not to try knitting again. Typing away in YouTube, he finds a video called Common Knitting Mistakes for Beginners and How To Avoid Them, and settles into his chair with his arms wrapped around his knees. Trying to absorb the information only works so well, and eventually, Izuku grasps the rectangle, unwinds it, and begins again in real time.
This time, he manages to keep himself from a few small mistakes he hadn’t even registered he was doing, and his square, a half hour later, comes out looking a lot more like an actual square.
He’s thrilled enough that he forgets this was supposed to be a therapy project, and unwinds it to start again, this time with a purpose.
Izuku knits slow and steady until he realises that his eyelids are drooping, and he cringes at the 12:02 am that blinks back at him on the alarm, so he carefully sets aside the project and resolves to come to it again tomorrow.
And he does – after breakfast and his morning routine, he sits back in his seat with an alarm for ten minutes before class so he doesn’t get caught up in the knitting, and he gets back to work. He stays slow and sure, but he thinks that maybe he’s starting to get the hang of it, even if it is just a basic garter stitch. Maybe after this he can try something more exotic, but he still wants to get this just write before giving it to anybody.
The next day, he wakes to find that he’s lost any and all shame about tugging out his knitting during lunch in front of his friends, and finds he doesn’t care that they stare.
“What are you doing?” Shinsou asks him, exasperated.
“And… why are you knitting?”
“My physiotherapist told me to. It’s oddly therapeutic.”
“So your physiotherapist told you, or your therapist?”
“Physio. It’s supposed to help my hands, but I’m not so sure about it. They cramp up and I have to keep stretching them every time.”
“So you’re… knitting what?”
“Right. Well. At least it’s a semi-normal hobby, unlike breaking your bones every other week.”
“Normal for an old lady,” Uraraka buts in, jabbing him on the arm with a teasing smirk. “But really, I think it’s cute!”
Izuku beams at her, and nobody bothers to ask about the knitting again.
When it’s finally done, he beams at it in his room, holding it up in the air and letting it drape against the ground at the very ends. It’s as tall as he is, and as wide as his hand, so he hopes that it’s going to be warm enough. It’s not yet curfew for another hour, so he folds up the scarf, too excited to contain himself, and rushes downstairs.
“Just going to the staff dorms!” he hollers when Iida tries to stop him. “I’ll be back in time for curfew!”
Izuku runs as fast as he allows himself, and his knuckles rap on the staff door in no time at all. Perfectly, it’s All Might who answers it with a soft smile.
“Midoriya my boy,” he greets. “Is something the matter? It’ll be curfew soon-”
“No, nothing’s wrong,” Izuku interrupts with a bright smile. “I actually – well, I just came to give you this!”
He holds out the bundle of scarf for All Might, and the teacher laughs gently.
“You didn’t need to-”
All Might rolls his eyes good-naturedly as he plucks the scarf from his hands, unfolding it and letting the fabric roll over his skin thoughtfully.
“It’s very soft,” All Might compliments, and then wraps it around his neck. It’s not entirely graceful, and Izuku knows it’s just a quick demonstration, but it seems to be the perfect length anyway. “It’s wonderful! Where did you get it?”
“Oh, I – I made it, actually.”
All Might freezes, one of his large hands still curled in the soft fabric. “You – you made this?”
Suddenly, Izuku realises that he just gave All Might an average quality, knitted scarf.
“I’m sorry,” he blurts, shifting from foot to foot as he cringes. “I mean – you don’t have to wear it or anything, it’s just – it’s the first thing I really made, so I wanted you to-”
The hug crushes the breath from his lungs before he can finish his sentence.
“I love it,” All Might promises him, his chest vibrating, and Izuku almost, almost thinks that his voice is a little thicker than usual. “I’ll cherish it, my boy, you have my word.”
“It’s really not a big deal-”
“You made me something,” his mentor insists. “It would be remiss of me not to keep something you put so much thought into.”
“Well, no, it’s… it’s for my physio, really, apparently it’s supposed to help with my hands, and I kind of got so caught up making it that I forgot…”
“Even so,” All Might says, a gentle smile not budging from his face. “You enjoyed making it, and I enjoy receiving it. There’s no saying that a hero can’t have a hobby, my boy!”
Izuku can’t help but beam up in response. “I think I’ll keep trying. I don’t really notice too much a difference in my hands, but it’s nice to… to make things for other people. I think I’ll make more!”
“I’m sure you will, my boy,” All Might ruffles his hair. “Now, you should head back to the dorms before curfew. I can’t thank you enough for this, Izuku. You’re a kinder boy than you give yourself credit for.”
He flushes pink but gives a hasty bow as he makes his retreat. The smile on his face doesn’t go away the whole night, and instead, he fixes his attention to someone else who might be in need of something soft and warm.
He has work to do.
Gloves are more complicated, and they take him a full two weeks to master – this time, he uses a soft, cream-coloured yarn, and even goes the extra mile to incorporate a new type of stitch just so they look more like the fancy type from stores, but a lot softer and more personal. He can’t give gloves without a hat and scarf, though, and steadfastly knits and knits and knits away until he has a full, matching, cream coloured set.
It’s morning, this time, on Sunday, and luckily, they were already on their way to visit, so he ties up the gifts in paper and string – the best he can do, and he hopes that Eri will forgive him – and tucks it underneath the sofa where nobody can see it.
Eri is still shy and reserved, but she’s a lot more at ease with 1-A than she had been months ago, and she smiles as soon as her eyes fall on him.
“Hello, Deku,” she beams with rosy cheeks, and she hesitates for half a second before she hugs his leg. “I missed you this week.”
He laughs as he squats down to hug her properly, her face ice cold against his. “I missed you too! Has Mr. Aizawa been nice?”
Aizawa glares at him mildly, mid-conversation with Momo and Mirio but watching Eri like a hawk.
“He’s really nice,” Eri nods. “We had… um. What was it called Mr. Aizawa?”
“Oyakodon,” Aizawa fills in without hesitation.
“Oyokodo,” Eri nods sagely, and Izuku’s smile just widens. “We ate Oyookodo for dinner last night. It was very nice.”
“I’m sure it was. Hey, why don’t you get sat down, you must be cold!”
“A little,” she mutters, glancing around and rubbing at her hands. “It’s really cold outside.”
He helps her out of her coat and tugs the blanket from the back of the couch to wrap her in, and she beams up at him.
“Todoroki,” he calls, and his friend glances at him from the dinner table. “Can you get Eri something warm to drink?”
“Alright. Eri, do you like hot chocolate?”
“Yes, Mr. Todoroki.”
Aizawa settles into the arm chair a short distance from Eri as Mirio and Momo get in an animated – and loud – conversation about internships.
“While we wait, Eri, I have something to give you,” Izuku shuffles in his seat nervously, reaching under the sofa for the wrapped gift. Her eyes are wide and shiny with wonder as she tentatively reaches for the gift from beneath the blankets. Her hands are ice cold when they touch, and he hopes that this will help.
“For me?” she asks quietly, staring at the paper. “Why?”
“I wanted you to have something nice. I thought you’d like them, and it’ll help you feel a little less cold outside.”
“Is it my birthday?” Eri asks, tilting her head up at him. “Gifts are for birthdays, aren’t they?”
“Well, no, gifts are for… any occasion, really. You usually give them if you really really want someone to have something nice, or if you saw stuff and thought of them.”
“Oh,” Eri breathes, and stares back down at the paper before looking over at Aizawa. “Can I open it?”
“Go ahead,” Aizawa sighs, gesturing for her to open it with a scrutinising glare at Izuku.
She tears into the paper methodically, pulling it away in gentle strips like she almost doesn’t want to ruin the wrapping as she tugs the string off to reveal the cream-coloured yarn inside.
Eri plucks the glove from the top of the pile and tilts her head at it, appraising it silently as Todoroki puts her mug on the coffee table. The dorms have gone quiet but for the whispering of the others cooing over Eri.
“It’s a glove,” she says, and then slowly tugs it over her hand, turning it over and staring at it. “It’s really soft, Deku.”
“Good!” Izuku beams. “There’s a hat and scarf for you here too. It’ll help you keep warm outside when it’s getting cold, you see?”
“Can I put them on?”
“Let me help!” he agrees with a bright grin, pulling the hat onto her head as she puts on the other glove, and he drapes the scarf gently around her shoulders. “What do you think?”
Her smile is, as always, the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, and she pats him on the cheek with a gloved hand.
“I like them,” she admits, making claws with her hands and looping her fingers together. “Can I keep them?”
“I made them for you!” he laughs. “Of course you can keep them!”
Her eyes go wide with wonder, staring back down at the gloves. “You made these? I thought your power made you really strong.”
“This wasn’t a power, this was knitting!”
“It’s where you take two needles and use yarn to make things! Like gloves, and scarves, and hats, and blankets.”
“Can you show me?”
It takes some cajoling from Aizawa, but he eventually convinces her to take off the set so that she can put them on before they leave, or she’ll be too warm inside, and Izuku takes the opportunity to collect his knitting needles and yarn.
Before long, Uraraka has settled on Eri’s other side, bracketing her hands with her own as Izuku slowly demonstrates how to use the needles to make a little pattern, and even Mirio is scratching his head with a set in his hands too.
“This is way harder than it looks,” Mirio grins. “You must have worked super hard on these Midoriya!”
“Oh, it just takes practice. You could get it too, you know!”
“Anyone can knit! I mean, I’m only really doing it because of physio, but even though it’s not really working, I kind of want to keep doing it anyway, you know?”
“It is working,” Aizawa interrupts, and Izuku falters in his ministrations. Eri makes a concerned noise, but Uraraka quickly draws her attention back to their needles.
“Your hands have improved somewhat,” he elaborates, gesturing to the knitting. “I wondered what had been having this effect, and clearly it’s the knitting.”
“It’s not really doing anything though,” Izuku frowns.
“Your handwriting is damn sight easier to read it now than it was a month ago, and that’s just a month of work. With a combination of some other physiotherapy, then I can see your hands improving more than they are already.”
“You think so?”
“It’s obvious,” Aizawa shrugs. “It’s not interfering with the rest of your education, and you’re doing well as you are. I recommend keeping it up. Especially if it can make someone happy.”
His eyes slide over to Eri, and Izuku follows his gaze with a small smile of his own when he sees her grinning from ear to ear, talking animatedly with Uraraka about the gloves that Izuku had made for her. Yeah, he thinks he’d quite like to make some more gifts for other people too.
As it turns out, the next person to receive one of Izuku’s knitted gifts is none other than Shouji.
“For… me?” Shouji asks, bewildered as he stares down at the two piles of wool in front of him. Izuku laughs, scratching at the back of his head nervously.
“Well… yeah! Your quirk must make it hard to find clothes that cover all your limbs, right? And they’re probably way too restrictive for your main limbs. It’s probably hard to wear a blanket for them, but I figured that… well, these are like tubes you can slide over your limbs, and there’s enough room at the other end for one hand – except one of them has two? So you can still talk and stuff out of that one. It’s like a really long sleeve! It should fit… Tokoyami got me the measurements… and you can also tighten the end by your torso – like this!”
He tugs at the braided ends that stick out at the end, and sure enough, the wider part of them tighten into a circle.
Shouji just blinks at him, face half hidden behind his mask, and carefully takes one of the woollen cylinders into his hands.
“Will you help me put it on?” he asks with one of his hands, and Izuku just grins.
He’d made it slightly too large, but it means that it goes on each side without resistance, and they tighten the other end near his armpits, and Shouji…
“This is great, Midori.” Shouji says from his right arm, steeped in laughter as his mouth grins. “I don’t know how you picked up on the clothes thing.”
“I figured it’s cold enough that you would wear it if you could,” Izuku shrugs. “I’m glad you like it! It’s grey, so I hope Mr. Aizawa will let you wear it in class – if you want to, I mean – well – uh, anyway, um.”
“It’s nothing, really-”
“Even when you’re doing something for yourself, you’re thinking of other people,” Shouji interjects. “So thank you, Midoriya. I’ve never had a gift this thoughtful before.”
“I can make you another set if you want,” Izuku nearly trips over himself to say. “Or – hey, I could teach you how to knit, then you can make yourself some, too!”
“It’s a deal,” Shouji laughs.
“If you even think of coming near me with some stupid fucking knitted shit like you’re an old grandma with grandkids who don’t give a fuck, I swear I’ll punt you into the sun.”
“I made you palmless gloves.”
Bakugou pauses, and then stares with a pure expression of what the fuck did you just say? Before he says, “What the fuck did you just say?”
“Palmless gloves,” Izuku repeats nonchalantly, handing over the orange gloves to match the ‘X’ on his costume. “Any gloves would get in the way of your quirk, the nitroglycerin just means you have to throw them away before too long anyway or they’ll ignite, and it’s only on the palm of your hands. So, palmless gloves.”
Bakugou snatches them up and fists them, pointing at Izuku with one finger and narrowed eyes.
“You win this round, fucker, but don’t you try this again.”
“I’m glad you like them, Kacchan,” Izuku chirps.
Uraraka is next, and she gets another set to match Eri’s, this time in a blossom pink – Izuku thinks that when it snows, she and Eri will look adorable as they match, building snowmen in the courtyard.
Tokoyami gets a set of knitted chokers, which he wears proudly around the dorms and in class both, and Izuku even spots Dark Shadow sporting one. Izuku responds by making the quirk his own set to match Tokoyami.
Next, Izuku decides to go out of his comfort zone, and mid-November, he presents Kouda with a knitted rabbit. His classmate bawls and sobs and thanks Izuku so intensely that he can’t help but feel a little emboldened as he tries to make things for anyone in the class.
Shinsou gets one of the most ornate, with a replica of Aizawa’s scarf in wool form – it was a very particular length and width, but his friend does nothing but grin wickedly and whack things with his regular-scarf as well as his capture weapon. Of course, that just means that Aizawa is the next person to receive another capture weapon-scarf, to which he just huffs and rolls his eyes. When he brings Eri, decked out in her own set, the woollen scarf rests atop his shoulders and he raises a brow as if daring to ask anybody to argue.
For Christmas, he knits his mother an emerald green blanket, with a matching hat, ears flopping up on it like his hero costume is supposed to. She video calls him sobbing, and the frame is just filled with green as she bawls.
“It’s so wonderful,” she repeats over and over. “Oh, Izuku, you are so sweet, you’re – I’m so proud of you!”
“Mom,” he laughs wetly, wiping his tears away as he wishes he could be with her. “It’s just a blanket, and a hat-”
“No! I’m proud of my baby boy and you can’t change my mind!”
He tells her all about Eri instead of crying himself, lets her take her mind off the distance between them, and he tells her all about the things he’s made for all his friends.
“If this is supposed to make me less proud of you,” she scolds lightly. “This isn’t working! How did I get so lucky to have a baby like you?”
“You raised me right,” is his only response, smile wrinkling his gaze before he leaves for Christmas dinner in the dorms.
His next idea hits him at one in the morning on Boxing Day, and he laughs so hard that he chokes. Bakugou takes the opportunity to get one free hit and thwacks him hard on the back. It’s not enough to stop him laughing, though, and he can’t wait to try it.
It doesn’t take too long to make, either, especially now that he’s well practiced at knitting, so he barely even needs a reference to make it the way he wants to.
When Mirio arrives on New Year’s Eve with the others, it’s ready, and Izuku is howling Mirio tugs away the paper to find a pair of knitted underwear.
Mirio is still gasping for breath, swiping away tears of laughter half an hour later.
One by one, even as winter fades into spring, he starts to gift everyone in his class, and even some who aren’t, something that he knits, enough that he doesn’t even think about the benefit to his hands in favour of the smiles that he gets when receiving something just for them.
He gets creative, sometimes, and makes Mic-sensei an enormous, canary yellow hat to fit over his hair, or he makes Midnight-Sensei some knitted thigh-high socks, much to her glee.
Eventually though, Izuku… runs out of people to gift things to.
Weeks pass into months as summer of their second year approaches, and Izuku finds that he hasn’t knit anything for a while and now his hands are starting to degrade. He hadn’t even noticed the effect that knitting had had on him until it had been gone.
“You don’t have to knit stuff for other people, you know?” Uraraka offers encouragingly. “You can just knit for yourself!”
“I like giving people things,” he admits. “And it’s easier to make things when I have a goal in mind.”
“Well, have you considered donating to hospitals?” All Might offers over the table, having come over for dinner with the students for his shift. “Most hospitals have many premature babies, and they often request that people send clothes in for. It would give you something to knit, right?”
His eyes widen in wonder, a small smile bursting across his face. “You’re right! I should look into that! Thanks, All Might!”
“No problem, son,” his mentor laughs, and they’re too busy talking excitably about knitting clothes for babies to notice Uraraka ruefully sliding Todoroki a five hundred yen note.
“Can I get in on that too?” Uraraka asks after sending Todoroki another glare. “I’d love to donate to some hospitals! Charity work is super important as a hero!”
“Sure! Hey, maybe we could do it as a class!”
“I’m not knitting some snot-nosed brats shit,” Bakugou swears.
“C’mon, bro, it’d be great for your image!”
“I don’t need an image!”
“You sure do! Besides, if you don’t think you’re any good at knitting, it’s fine. You’d probably suck anyway, you don’t have any patience,” Kaminari dismisses with a smirk.
Bakugou stops dead. “What the fuck did you just say?”
Kaminari raises his arms in mock surrender. “I’m just saying, don’t be embarrassed that Midoriya is a better knitter than you could ever-”
“Finish that sentence and you’re dead, Pikachu,” Bakugou snarls, before he points at Izuku. “I could do better than any of the shit you make.”
“Prove it!” Izuku chirps, and that’s how class 2-A gets roped into knitting for charity, and before too long, Monoma has 2-B roped in too – not to be outdone in any way by 2-A.
“So, today we have the number one Pro Hero, Deku! Thanks for coming all the way out to see us, Deku!”
“It’s no problem,” Izuku tilts his head with a bright smile that hasn’t been dampened by a decade of hero work. “This cause is pretty important to all of us here today, and I’m thrilled to be the main benefactor.”
“For those who don’t know, Knitting for Babies has been a cause that the infamous 3-A, including Deku, have been supporting since they were in their second year of Yuuei. Can you tell me what brought it on?”
“Well, actually, it was brought on because I have chronic pain in my hands.” The host gives him a sympathetic look, and he raises his damaged, scarred fists for the camera. They’ve sustained more damage over the years, but thankfully, nothing that would end his career. “It was suggested by my physiotherapist that I take up knitting to help finetune my motor control, and it worked! But most of all, it… it was fun. It was a great hobby, and it really made me happy to gift my friends things I’d made. Creati still has the first sweater I ever made for her, and Earphone Jack still has her earmuffs!
“Eventually, though, I ran out of things to knit, and I stopped knitting, which made my hands worsen. It was over dinner – with All Might, actually! That the idea of knitting and donating to charity came up. And I fell in love with the concept. We can do so much good here in the world as heroes, but I think it’s even nicer that there are regular people out there who can be heroes to babies everywhere too. It’s nice that you can be a hero without ever needing to don a suit, and you can be a hero without paying much more than a few hundred yen for a roll of yarn and some cheap needles.
“Which is why today I’m so grateful to be spearheading this fundraiser for Tokyo Children’s Hospital, and thank you so much for having me on!”
“It’s a privilege!” They beam at him, and gesture over to the other side of the stage. “I hear you brought DynaMight with you-”
“It’s Great Explosion Murder God DynaMight to you!”
“Kacchan!” Izuku interrupts pointedly, and Bakugou glares at him, back to knitting away in his chair, legs kicked up on the table in front of him.
“That’s right! We decided to do some light competition, all in good fun. Who can knit more? Place your bets, and all in the name of charity!”
“Oh, we have some donations coming through already,” the host laughs, pointing to a big screen on the front of the stage. “From Itsuka, 5,000 yen for DynaMight!”
“Naomi, 10,000 yen on Deku!”
Izuku grins and takes his seat, picking up his needles, and beginning to knit for charity.
“Wow, and we have a 1,000,000 yen bet for Deku, from Yagi! Thank you for your donation, Yagi, and lets hope you win!”
Bakugou elbows him roughly in the side with a glare, but Izuku doesn’t care; he knits away, stretching out the cramps in his hands, because win or lose, Izuku has made a difference, and he never new that the simpler things in life could bring so much joy to those who need them.