When Izuku woke up, he was confused. His memory was shot, his other eye wouldn't open, and he did not fully recognize the white ceiling he was greeted to. There was a buzzing in his ears while he racked his brain and recalled what got him there. He had dressed in his hero costume and got on a bus with his classmates, and they went to…
A clattering pierced through the white noise before Izuku could recollect his memory and he nudged his head to the right, over to the man with his back turned to him, sorting around small metal tools on a desk. His stout figure pivoted around his tools, and there was a hushed muttering Izuku could hear but not make out. The white coat he wore made Izuku think the man was either a scientist or a doctor, but a quick notice of his bubblegum-colored hair clicked an older memory in Izuku's mind.
The old man started slightly as he turned around, nearly knocking over his tray of tools before he caught himself and raised his blueberry mustache in a smile. "Ah, Midoriya. You're finally awake. That's a relief." The man pressed a small button on the side of Izuku's bed before resting down on the stool close by. "How do you feel?"
Izuku smacked his lips, taking note of how dry his mouth was. "Thirsty," he breathed his reply, and was soon treated to a cup of water to ease his throat while he lay on his side.
"I'll take it as a sign you aren't complaining or reeling at any pain," the doctor sighed contently as he eased in the chair. "Though given the circumstances of our last meeting, I wouldn't be too surprised if you're holding your tongue right now. You seem to be good at that."
"My tongue tastes like sandpaper," the green-haired teen coughed into his shoulder, stretching his other arm to set the empty cup on the countertop. His muscles screamed against the action, but all he does is grunt back as his arm returns to his side. "Sore, too. Might just sleep again." Izuku scrunched his face, a scratchy material pulling against its left side and refused to open his eye. Images of his classmates surrounding him flashed into his mind. "Where are we?"
"You're still in Yuei."
Izuku shifted in his bed and looked past his feet, across the room to the man sitting in another hospital bed. His black-haired homeroom teacher sat up in his own bed, staring his student down with nigh a scratch to be found on himself. He was even wearing the same dark clothing Izuku remembered him in…when was the last he saw him?
"You're in Recovery Girl's office," Aizawa continued to explain. "You've been blinking through consciousness and unconsciousness for the past two days time. Doctor Koresh is one of the few called in to treat your wounds and aid in your recovery. We were worried you would be caught in a coma after what you went through at the hands of the villains; something we will be talking about later." His homeroom teacher, dressed in his normal black garb missing only his scarf, leaned and hunched over his lap. "Good to know you're still with us, kid."
"Sensei? What…" Scenes flashed over his vision, shots of his teacher and his classmates and absolute strangers all around. Everyone was in their costumes and so was he — emphasis on was. Looking down at himself, Izuku found a sterile white garb donning over his chest. But that wasn't right; last he could remember, he was dressed in his red and black costume like the rest of his class, joining them on a trip to one of the school's rescue training facilities until their course was interrupted by villains—
Izuku's eyes snapped back to his teacher. "Is everyone okay?"
Aizawa blinks, and for a moment Izuku can see his eyes glow like rubies and his hair brush off his shoulders without a gust of wind in the room, and the next moment he blinks again and his teacher looks like his normal self. "Everyone is fine. The villains have been captured and run off campus. Todoroki and Tsuyu had their own severe conditions but they've both been treated and returned home to rest and recover their energy. The rest of your classmates got away with a few scrapes, mild fatigue and were all sent home to be with their families to recover physically and mentally as well. Thirteen, Togata and All-Might all got away unscathed, themselves. You're the only one who got hurt this bad."
Izuku had to sit up and turn his whole body to look out the window, finding the sun perched atop the city skyline outside of the school's campus. It was morning now; their class was supposed to be in the latter half of the day. The last faces he remembers seeing were Iida's and Tsunotori's, and before that, Todoroki's and All-Might's. Why couldn't he remember anything around them?
"How do you feel, Midoriya?" His teacher's question pulled back his attention. "Physically. How does your head feel?"
His eyes furrowed, scraping against the bandage wrapped over his left eye and taping down his hair. "What happened to me?"
Aizawa's face shifted to something analytical, even twisting somberly in his eyes, but before he could say a word, it was the doctor who spoke up faster. "You took quite the nasty blow to your head," Koresh began, plopping himself down on the seat beside the bed. "Other than a few cracks on the outer surface of your skull, your head wasn't split open, but the flesh and muscle tissue on top of your skull had been almost cleanly cut loose from your head. This school called me in to reconnect the tissue and put you back together, but not perfectly. The scarring tissue is less than I expected it to be." Izuku brushed his hand over the bandages and the cushioning beneath that stuck over his eye and stretched up and down his face. He thought there was relief missing from the doctor's voice. "Only time will tell how well your eye continues to work, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. Your wound is quite extensive; I do not believe your sight will fully recover to what it once was. You shouldn't be allowed to go back to—"
"Doctor Koresh." Aizawa was loud in his interruption of the other man's diagnosis, snapping the doctor away from Izuku before the teen had realized the man was even leaning in close. "If you could go and inform Recovery Girl that our student has awakened and is fully conscious, we will be able to run him through a diagnosis of our own regarding his physical and mental health. Your surgical skills have been of beneficial help, and we will call upon your quirk again if we feel so inclined to. You can leave now."
Izuku looked to his teacher again, finding his eyes glistening red once more and his hair so similar to a Greek monster he was surprised the doctor didn't turn to stone. Doctor Koresh flinched ever so slightly under the pro hero's gaze, but the man tried his best to steel his expression with a smile Izuku wasn't convinced by in the slightest. "Eraserhead, sir, the quirkless boy nearly lost his life. He's likely never to fully recover. If he keeps this up—"
"We are paying you for your quirk, Koresh Chiku, not for your opinions," Aizawa cut him off again. "I am fully capable of getting up and showing you out myself, if you would rather. If not, then you can leave of your own volition. Make sure Recovery Girl knows my student is awake."
The doctor didn't rise to meet the hero's challenge, instead rising to shuffle his items in a satchel in a frenzied haste before bowing his head to the school teacher and ushering himself out of the room without even a word of a "goodbye." Izuku barely watched the man take his leave, instead tracing the edges of his bandages as close to his left eye as he could get. The fact the man didn't even address him directly — instead calling him "the' quirkless boy'— stuck louder in his mind.
"I" — Izuku shrugged his shoulders slowly in remembrance — "don't remember him being like that last time."
"Discrimination can be subtle," Aizawa commented. "As useful and life-saving a quirk can be, those with them need only to keep their mouths shut long enough to find a powerful position where it doesn't matter what they say or how they say it; their use will be too valuable to lose. The Commission has employed too many like that to know it's a constant I have to live with and work around."
Izuku grumbled, scratching at the bandages around his neck that connected to his medical head dressing. "That's bullshit."
"It is. The public doesn't try hard enough to look into the finer details of laws the government passes and the Commission tries to impose on hero agencies and our workforce, and not enough of us pay enough attention to know when a new bill or rule will dismantle any semblance of balance our profession still has left. And watch your language. You're still one of my students; I expect manners from you lot."
Izuku took his teacher's banter with little acknowledgement, looking back out the window once more. It had been too long since someone talked about him the way his old teachers did: not aggressively shooting down his dreams but conniving to justify their lack of approval. He had gone too complacent with Yuei's teacher barely batting an eye at his quirklessness, he'd forgotten school wasn't the only place in the world riddled with people who believed their actions justified.
Just as loud as his determination to see Izuku dropped from the school, the doctor's warnings over Izuku's sight continued to pester him. The fight he had interjected himself into clipped through his memory sequence after sequence, each attack he dished and took returning and reminding him of the attack on their school. He remembered how most of the criminals fell quickly to his blows, barely touching him or even putting him through pain and stress; but he, too, remembered the giant beast of man and muscle that posed the biggest threat.
Izuku had taken two blows from the villain. The first had sent him flying to a tree, if he remembered it correctly along with the mild pain that it resulted in. That sentence alone set off flares of warnings in Izuku's reasoning of the world, and it didn't help there was a whole second punch he had lived through — to speak nothing of the blows he landed on the villain in return. He did not remember soaring across the simulation facility, nor how his face had apparently split open if the doctor was to be believed. All he did remember of the fight's final moments was the cracking of Todoroki's ice, the turn of his head to face the monster, and the big purple fist flying into his face posed like the monster was Superman.
Truthfully, however, he didn't care about how he had almost died. The only question he had was why didn't he?
"That blow should have killed me, right?" Izuku asked aloud, and he could see his teacher's reflection in the glass shift forward in his own bed. "The fight's…I'm remembering it pieces at a time but I know I'm like this because I took a hit. That big guy did this; nearly cracked me in two, right? I should have been dead on the spot."
Aizawa made an undirected hum before he spoke. "We're lucky you did make it out alive. I don't know many who have suffered as bad a wound and survived, especially at such a young age. I was told Shoji and his group had found you soon after you took that hit; your classmates will be relieved to hear you're awake—"
"But I should have been dead anyways," Izuku interrupted, turning his attention on his teacher directly. "My head split open, did it not? I should have just been a corpse when they found me. How is anyone supposed to survive that? The only reason All-Might's living with a hole in his stomach is because he has a quirk with the strength of like ten-billion men behind him; his body's genetically built to withstand pain and wounds that would kill most people in a few seconds. Every person with a quirk has an evolved body in some fashion that surpasses the standard human limit from before the age of quirks — what my body should be. How is someone who's quirkless supposed to survive something like that?"
Aizawa sat unflinched in his bed, stared back at Izuku with a stoned, analytical look before it eased away with a tired sigh. "Of course you know of his injury. No wonder the fool wanted to keep eyes on you this whole time. You haven't revealed that detail about him to anyone else, have you?"
It was a moment before Izuku caught on to how he shouted that out loud, and he had the humility to bow his head sheepishly. "No sir. I haven't told a soul."
"Good. Yamada nearly had a heart attack when he first saw it; we don't need the vultures circulating photos of it online." The school teacher leaned back against his pillows, training his eyes on Izuku before darting them away with a grunt. "While I will ask that you never question why you are alive again and cherish your mortality rather than put it up for debate, you are correct in plenty of what you have said. My own skull is thicker than most due to my quirk gene, and All-Might's entire skeletal and muscle structures are denser and more durable than my own because of his. When one's quirk first appears early on in their youth, their body will grow to accommodate it as it does naturally strengthen and develop over time. If you really are quirkless, then your body would only develop to handle the average capabilities a kid your age could before quirks became so common."
Izuku let out a frustrated huff in knowing his biology knowledge was correct. The human body was capable of surviving quite a few tests of pain and endurance, but even those limits varied by quirk types and the quirk gene as a whole. As happy as he was to still be alive, understanding how he had done so without frame-perfect medical attention was what didn't match up with his educated memory.
Then his brain halted, replaying his teacher's words in his head: "If you really are quirkless."
"But I am quirkless," Izuku stated out loud. "I've always been quirkless."
"Your medical records say you're quirkless," Aizawa added pointedly, giving Izuku a quizzical look. His eyes darted about the teenager curiously. "Unless they are forged, shouldn't you be quirkless?"
The sight of the brawly man in the USJ skipping over the lake, the burns on his arms after fighting Katsuki peeling off like snake skin, and the awe in Shoji's eyes as he described Izuku's besting of the Zero Pointer in the entrance exam flashed like a photo reel through Izuku's eyes. "I don't think I know anymore…"
His memories flashed again. His face pulses in pain beneath his bandages. He's flying through the air, specks of green and beige and blue spiraling past him, wind rushing through his hair while his face struggles to keep up with the rest of him. He's stopped for just a moment, the colorful streaks of the world squishing back in on themselves and the glass dome of the USJ is in his sights. Briefly — just briefly — he takes notice of the stairs beside him; of the red railing passing by his eyes; and of Tsunotori, shoulders tight against her ears, fingers digging into her elbows, and quite possibly looking his way before its all gone and his vision is drowning again in greens and browns. When was this?
"We'll have to answer that question another time then," his teacher responded after a moment's silence. "You've been out of it for almost 48 hours straight; we haven't been able to properly feed you. You need to recover your strength first and settle into your" — he gestured at the left side of his own face, then pointed at Izuku's bandages — "new situation. Nedzu wants to speak with you on the matter anyways, and with your actions during the break in it's brought in new information we need to discuss with you. But we'll save that until you're feeling better."
There was a voice in Izuku's head that raised concern at the string of sentences laid before him, but his voice of reason held the answers he was looking for. Of course his teacher's weren't blind to his anomalies, who would he be kidding?
"What does this mean about me? With all my…wait, you knew about this." Izuku looked to his teacher, perplexed. "The entrance exam thing. You all knew I wasn't quirkless. Why the fuck have you let me keep saying I am?"
"First, language. Second, because you're supposed to be quirkless." Aizawa raised a fist and counted on his fingers. "Your birth records say your quirkless; your blood confirms your identity; you believed yourself every time you told us you were quirkless; and when I use my quirk on you, you can still hit a baseball from here into the pacific ocean." They stared at each other in silence for a few seconds, giving Izuku time to follow along with their information. "Everything you have managed defies the logic in which we understand each other, and you seem to know just as little about it as we do.
"But we'll save the rest for another day so the rat can explain his own actions," Aizawa ended his rant. "I don't have the vocabulary or the understanding to tell you why he's asked the school board not to bring this up with you and your mother while he does absolutely nothing about it himself. But now that you've saved my life — and Togata's and Todoroki's — anyone who's held a thought of doubt about your honesty and loyalty to this school and your friends are pressed to answer if they could even believe you're playing a long con at this point. So in case you're still wondering if you'll be treated any differently by the school, the answer is no. Other than us having to accommodate and aid in training this strength of yours, you will still be treated as a student of this school."
That…was actually very reassuring for Izuku to hear. With his head still bouncing with information he struggled to fully process, at least he got to be somewhere he liked. "Thank you, sensei. That means a lot to me."
"Given your last location of education, I wouldn't doubt that." Aizawa's comment made Izuku's one free eyebrow quirk up. "You're one of the few kids that hails from one of the lower-end junior highs in all of Japan. Only one still in my class who does. Grew up in a similar place myself, so I understand this is leagues better of an opportunity than any general school district would normally treat you with."
"…Where did you go to?"
Aizawa pondered the question a moment before answering, "Tatoon."
Another pause. "Wasn't that school bombed seven years ago?"
"Yeah. On a Sunday, not even a janitor in the building. Pretty sure it was a former classmate of mine who did it." The teacher tapped his knee twice. "I can't say I ever knew his situation, nothing I ever caught a sight of in my years there. Don't see much of it here either, unless I look hard enough. Dragged here against my will by the likeliest of people only recently intervening—"
"Are you complaining about your marriage again?" Both boys turned their head to the door sliding open and letting in the short, healing heroine. "I've only just permitted visitors this morning; I must have sensed your crying when I woke up."
"I believe hearing voices in your head is a sign of a medical condition," Aizawa shot back lightheartedly, falling back in his bed to rest on the pillows. "Are you sure you don't need to be admitted too?"
"Just so you know, your husband is singing Sinatra in the lounge brewing tea before he gets here." Recovery Girl made no respone to the pro hero's muttered, "fuck," as she climbed atop her chair and rolled Izuku's way. "Let's get a look at you, kid. Sorry about the wait; I got held up with Nedzu. How are you feeling?"
Izuku took a brief glance back at his melting teacher across the room before he answered, "A bit tired, really. And hungry. Have I really been asleep for two days?"
"You've been in and out of it for two days," Recovery Girl corrected him. "We were able to feed and nurse you every time you woke up in between operations. Lean down." Izuku leaned closer to the nurse, putting her in the range to inspect his bandages. He almost forgot they were there for a second, if the sheet of white over his left eye wasn't messing with his vision. "I've used my quirk on you enough to keep you out of it. Any more and I'll run the risk of comatosing you, so if you feel anything at all do tell us because we will be rushing you to an operation room."
"Thank you for the warning," Izuku drawled out, while the heroine prodded over his bandages around his left eye. "I'm not feeling any pain, if that's what you're about to ask. Really wishing I could take this off, though."
The short woman grunted. "Then consider yourself lucky, we should change out your bandages anyways. Make sure you're healing properly and won't get an infection. Hold still for me, please."
"Not getting an infection would be nice." Izuku held his face in place for the nurse, lowering it further to help her unwrap the bandages more easily. White strips streamed down to the floor, specs and spots of red scattered about as it all pooled beneath him. Soon his head was free, and he had to blink the harsh glare of light back into his left eye naturally.
"Any pain, young man?"
"Just adjusting, sorry." Izuku sat himself straight as he took one long blink before snapping both his eyes open. With all the white and worry the bandages left him with, he was pleased to find everything looking normal in both eyes. He flexed and twitched the left side of his face, with no pull or tear bolting through his muscles. "I'm not feeling anything else, though. No pain, no—"
And then he went to feel his face directly. His fingers brushed over his skin to where it stopped being such, and the smallest dip between flesh met his fingers. He traced it down, past the edge of his lip to where it curved beneath his chin and ended short of his neck. He followed it back up, skipping his eye and where his eyebrow parted and, to his greatest dismay, through his remaining hair and where it was missing on the left side of the scar.
"Well on the good side of things, I see no swelling or discoloration around your new scar," Recovery Girl noted for him, throwing her cane over his shoulder to force him closer. "The tissue has healed nicely, no new openings or disconnected muscle. You've healed far better than we were expecting you to."
"Is there," Izuku stuttered, lightly gesturing to his face, "anything I can…"
"Yes, right." Recovery Girl swiped a compact mirror from her coat, handing it to Izuku and sitting back as the boy clicked it open. "I'm sorry we couldn't do more, but my quirk could only do so much before we performed surgery. Chiku did what…"
Her voice drowned out of Izuku's ears as he finally got a good look at his face and the long scar that stretched beyond it. While the skin on his face was simply pale but alive, what flesh remained between the edges was a darker red in color. The edges were a mix between the two where Recovery Girl, Koresh and any other doctor must have tried their magic to put him together, but he could almost see where the layers differed between skin and tissue that his fingers could barely feel. To make matters worse was the loss of much more than that; his eyebrow was split in two; his leftmost freckle was gone for food, his eyelid was misaligned; and the cherry on top was the patch of hair cut millimeter short on the left half where his scar ended up top.
"Mornin' Sho! Good mornin', Chiyo—oh." Izuku looked up from his damned reflection to the room's doorway, and there stood Present Mic with a brimming smile and a tray of tea cups balanced between his hands. "Glad to see you're awake, little listener! Quite a few people are going to be really happy to hear that. How are you feelin'?"
Izuku looked back down to the face in the mirror he didn't recognize before closing it shut and handing it back to the heroine. "I don't know," he answered earnestly.
Aizawa sniffed the air audibly. "Is that chai tea?"
The blond hero turned his way with a bright smile. "Your favorite, Sho!~"
The underground hero sniffed again. "What did you spike it with?"
"I did no such thing!" The blond man threw a hand to his chest in offense that didn't match his tone, as he clamored over to the other hero's bedside and set the tray down on the mattress. "What you're smelling is Nem's late-night treatment. She's growing impatient for you to come home."
Aizawa gently plucked a cup from the tray, lifting it to his nose as he sat up and eyed the man seated beside him. "Did she brew this as well? Last I remember, she doesn't trust you in the kitchen."
"Give Cementos some credit; he's the only one in this god-forsaken building who knows how to work that old machine."
Izuku shuffled in his own bed, side-eyeing the relationship between his teachers he wasn't sure how to categorize, while finally flicking off the sheets to see his bare legs and the gown he had been wearing. "How long have I not been wearing pants?"
"Since we had to take them off and check your legs for any bone or muscle damage during your operations," Recovery Girl answered while she pulled out a bag from beneath his bed. "Your mother came with a change of clothes for when you finally woke up and could leave, of which I am still not permitting for you. There are more check ups we need to run you through first before I'm clearing you."
The green-haired teen took one look at the bag — his old blue backpack from elementary school — before he looked at the heroine again. "Is my mom still here?"
She shook her head. "The only beds we have on campus are here. Your mother went home and won't be here for another hour or two."
"Your classmates are here though," Yamada piped up from across the room. "Four of them came in early today to see you — both of you" — he pointed at the black-haired hero beside him — "so we have them waiting in the lounge while Lunch Rush makes them brunch."
His friends were here, on campus, in the building, and closeby. People he last saw splitting off from him back at the USJ, back before they began their rescue exercises, and back before an invasion descended upon them. People who, quite possibly, last saw him fight villains alongside their teachers and classmates, take blow after devastating blow, and dish out bone-shattering strikes of his own before he suffered the blow to his head. Several of them believed him to have a quirk and powers of his own — though his explanation of them could not apply accurately — and two who thought he was supposed to be quirkless, and quite possibly saw everything in action.
He needed to see them, now.
Izuku lunged for the bag beneath him, ignored the blood rushing to his head at the speed he dropped and rose back up, and ripped the zipper open to dig out the clothing. "I'm going to see them," he announced aloud, shuffling off his gown and throwing it aside to slip his "tuxedo" t-shirt with only an itching brush over his scar.
"No you certainly are not, young man," Recovery Girl shouted back at him. "You are in no condition to be running around. Sit down!"
He wasn't listening, as he yanked on a pair of jeans and swung himself off the other side of the bed. "I'm fine," he muttered as he stumbled around the foot of the bed. "I'll be fine."
But Present Mic was there to stand between him and the door, catching Izuku by the shoulders before he slipped on his own two feet. "You really are not, kid," he commented, the mirth in his voice earlier absent. "Listen to Chiyo, sit back down, and take your time. You're gonna get yourself hurt doing this."
Izuku only shook his head, weakly struggling to fight out of his teacher's grip. "I've slept for two day, I don't need to be in bed anymore. I need to see them."
"And we can bring them over in a couple of minutes. You do not need to strain yourself right now—"
"Hizashi." A third hand rested atop Izuku's shoulder from behind, gently nudging aside one of Present Mic's. Aizawa took the space in front of the teenager, ushering the blond man aside to look the green-haired teen the eyes. "Midoriya, you are acting irrationally. There is no reason you need to get up to see them when we can bring them here to you after you've just woken up."
Izuku huffed a shaky breath, eyes darting from his teacher's to his chest. "Yes there is."
"And what would that be?"
"Because I don't know what the fuck is going on," he admitted to his teacher, snapped his eyes to the hero's and stabbing a finger into his own chest. "And I know that they don't either, but they all know some form of a lie that I have told them, and it is no longer in my control! And if I don't tell them now, then I don't trust myself to not cower out of it again! If I just sit here and wait then I'm going to lose all the courage I have left and all I'm going to be is the fucking coward I always was."
The room looked down at Izuku in silence, and it was Aizawa's sombering stare that killed the fire in his own. The finger jabbed into his shirt dragged back down to his side, but he kept his head high to meet the foot of difference between him and his teacher. The man's hand rose to his face, applying a second of pressure on his new scar.
"Does it hurt you when I do that?" he asked.
Izuku didn't answer until the hand dropped back to his shoulder. "No sir."
The gruff man nodded and looked past Izuku, over the top of his hair. "The teacher's lounge is down the hall to the right and a floor above us," his teacher listed out. The hand on Izuku's shoulder curved down to the side of his arm, while the other fished his phone out of his pocket. "I'll be texting them and your mother to make sure they bring you back here within the hour so Chiyo can discharge you properly. Her tests shouldn't take too long, but you seem to have enough energy in you again to stand and shout in my face, so you'll probably be going home anyways. And put on some shoes; we kept your sneakers under the bed too."
Izuku swayed in place a moment when his teacher's hand finally let go and helped his other with typing out messages, but he did as instructed and stumbled back to the bed where his red sneakers sat in wait.
"Midoriya isn't going anywhere, Shouta," Recovery Girl argued with the dark-haired teacher. "He's just woken up; he's in no condition to be moving around."
"Whatever his quirk is, he's doing just fine." Aizawa's haphazard response stunted Izuku a moment as he was tying his shoes, and the other two adults in the room made noises of a similar surprise. "We talked about it when he woke up; he is just as confused about it as we are. Nedzu can talk with him about it when classes start back up. But whatever he has is helping him through this like it has all those other times. I will take full responsibility if I'm wrong."
"Sho, I can just run out and grab the kids myself," Present Mic tried to reason with him. "He needs to stay here and rest."
"And if they're anything like us, Hizashi, then they want to see their friend alive and well with their own eyes." All sound in the room died after that, and Izuku looked up from tying his second shoe to see all life prior fade away from the blond man's face as Aizawa stared him down. "He needs to see them too. If he says this will help him feel better, then he can go."
"Don't do that," the blond man told him, the mirth in his voice earlier now gone completely.
"I will if it means none of them go through that."
Izuku eyed the two men wearily before he looked to Recovery Girl and bowed his head. "I'm sorry ma'am, but I need to see them right now. And I" — he looked back down to his bed, and then his eyes dropped lower to the bandages still laying by his feet — "don't wanna be in here. I'll come right back. I promise."
The short heroine gave him a critical look, one he flinched under, before it faded away with her sigh. "I expect you to be back within an hour, or I'll have these two hunt you down and drag you back."
"That was part of the original plan," Aizawa chimed in. The man stepped away from the door, past the blond man he brushed hands with and back to the bed he had been residing in. "Go on ahead, kid. We'll be here when you get back."
Izuku gave them all one last look of an apology before saying, "Thank you," and shuffling out the door. He stumbled a moment in his step to start, but he shortly found himself briskly walking down the halls. As he hurried past the glass wall that separated him from the outside air, he took one peak at his faint reflection, and the scar that continued to stick out like a sore thumb. A sign that he had survived, but the only reason he did was because of a strength he did not understand; one even his homeroom teacher was giving credit to alongside Izuku himself. All Izuku felt was the need to see his friends grow dire.
It was time he told them the truth.
Katsuki sat alone in his room, quietly and reserved at his desk accomplishing nothing but gathering dust on his homework. He liked being busy, doing anything at all to get better or achieve something with what time he spends. Relaxing or wasting away in his free time always bothered him; there was always something he could be doing better in and he should always be working to see those goals through. But for the first day in several months, he just couldn't find the energy to do anything in his dark room, illuminated only by the light through his window and the screen of his phone showcasing the news about the villain invasion of Yuei.
News had traveled fast, almost as fast as the student body had been escorted off campus grounds and sent home a course early. The staff's excuse was a villain warning and safety measure, but once Katsuki made it home, he looked to the news and saw the truth in full; villains had broken into the school and attacked the first year hero course students on a field trip. What was supposed to be his class, the blond thought for a brief moment, had faced down real villains until All-Might entered the scene and scared him off for good.
All of the students made it out alive, though a few had been rushed to immediate medical care before even the police made it to the school. It wasn't hard for Katsuki to find out who those few were by the screeching sobs that rang down the hall from his mother's phone later that afternoon. Deku was in intensive surgery and the school wasn't allowing for visitors until they flushed out any remaining villains and could guarantee the school was still safe. Katsuki had eaten alone with his dad that night, instead of his mother inviting the green-haired woman over for dinner and company.
"Masaru!" his old hag of a mom roared from the living room, shaking the lamp on Katsuki's desk slightly. "Are you ready yet? Inko's waiting for us uptown! And have you seen my wallet?"
"It's in here with me," his father announced from their bedroom down the other end of the hall. "I'm almost done; I'll bring it out with me."
"Well don't take too long! I don't want to leave her alone in a bistro for an hour at this time of day!" The pounding of her feet warned Katsuki of her approaching his room, but the boy stayed in his seat when his door swung wide open. "Oi, brat! We're heading out to check on Izuku, so we'll be gone for a while!"
Katsuki peered at the screen of his phone and the photo of All-Might and that third-year student by his side at the USJ entrance before scoffing and throwing his head back. "I know that, ya old hag," he replied gruffly. "The whole neighborhood could hear your demogorgon shouting."
It came to no surprise but plenty of annoyance when his mother gripped his hair and yanked his head back further so she could glare down at him. "Never one to speak lightly, aren't you?" she hissed. "You could at least come with us to show you give a shit about his health."
"You know that isn't a good idea, Mitsuki." His dad stood in the doorframe of his room, adjusting his tie and smiling sadly at the mother and son. Somehow that comment was heavier from his dad's voice than when his mom had argued with Katsuki the day of his expulsion. "Katsuki's fine staying at home. He doesn't have to come along if he doesn't think it's safe."
The mother and son glared into each other's eyes a moment longer until Mitsuki scoffed and flicked her hand from Katsuki's hair. "It wouldn't hurt for him to come along and apologize to Izuku," she relented, strutting past her husband and back into the living room.
Katsuki got to watch his father's face twist into a more somber expression before looking back at the blond boy with the same smile. "We will be home before dinner, so we'll have that as a family tonight. Will you be alright on your own?"
The teenage boy stared blankly at his father before curling his lips down and jerking his head back to his desk. "Yeah, I got homework to do anyways, old man. I'll be fuckin' peachy."
"All right then," he heard his father concede, the door creaking slowly to stand between them. "Good luck on your studies, Katsuki. We're proud of you." Without a second of time given for him to cut in, Katsuki whirled around in his chair just to watch his door close. Instead of barking after his father and jumping out of his chair, he sat there glaring at the door while he listened to his parents leave their home and drive off in their car.
'Proud of him;' as fucking if. He got expelled from the hero course, dropped into General Studies and admonished him for his actions as a hero student that he was permitted to do. What the hell did his father have to be proud of Katsuki? What a joke. A grating, insulting joke.
Katsuki turned back to his homework, eyes glazing over the papers strewn about. It'd probably take him an hour to finish it all, just basic Math and English course opening assignments no one with half a brain at minimum would have any problem with. That was just as insulting, that the school had given him homework a ten-year-old could solve and write. Homework he had to turn in because he was correct about Deku and the teachers knew he was right but couldn't handle being proven wrong by a teenager. There was no way even in hell that they would have looked at that quirkless, green-haired prick and thought he was going to see a serious hero career.
Instead of jumping to finish his piss-easy homework, Katsuki swiped his phone back into his hand and pulled up the news article again. He skimmed through the important notes: an on-campus invasion of a rescue training facility with no signs of break-in points or triggered alarms; just over two hundred participating criminals arrested with dozens having been taken down prior to the police and the other heroes' involvement; the two villains believed to have orchestrated the attack still at large; three gravely injured students and a beaten teacher the only major casualties of the attack but all promised to be back on their feet by the start of the next week. An almost hour long battle that Katsuki was none the wiser to until it was already over. Everyone in the hero course could have died had All-Might not arrived when he did or if that engine-legged student hadn't crossed half of the campus in a minute to let the rest of the school know what was going on.
Could he have made a difference if he was there, Katsuki wondered silently. He knew how to fight, his quirk was strong as shit, and his gauntlets could tear down a fake city block if he filled it to the brim. As strong as some of the extras' quirk were and some of themselves were academically and strategically smart, none of them could boast both strengths like he could. How could he not have made a difference? He wouldn't have let those petty villains lay a hand on anyone if he was there. The villains wouldn't have beaten their teacher and they wouldn't have put a scratch on the filler students had they not been dumb enough to expell him from the course.
Deku wouldn't have been at death's door once again had they just listened to him and tossed him out when they had the chance. Why couldn't anyone else see this the way he did? How was he the only one using his brain?
How come he was being punished for speaking the truth?
Leaving pouring rain for a field of trees so abruptly almost kiltered Mashirao's senses, but Kirishima nudging him forward from behind kept his forward momentum. Tsuyu shivered against his chest, still drenched beneath the coat of his costume now removed from his body and wrapped around her like a blanket and barely making a sound outside of her coughs and groans. Thirteen, though sluggish and soaked like the rest of them, continued to lead their group through the facility back towards the entrance; Kaminari had recovered from his overcharge while wheezing out his lungs in the back of their pack; Kirishima took up the space between the other two boys but was definitely the most exhausted of their group, having knocked out all the villains Thirteen didn't handle with a stone-hard fist; Todoroki hadn't been seen since he up and abandoned them in the rainfall simulation; with as sluggish and tired as they were, Mashirao hoped their group was probably the worst off from the rest of their class.
"The entrance is just up ahead now," Thirteen shouted back to them, pointing at the barely visible tower of stairs through the treetops in front of them. "Keep your eyes open for any more criminals or your classmates; hopefully Aizawa and Togata led them out by now, if not still doing so."
The ground shook suddenly, one of a few ripples they had felt since they started their escape, and wind blew past them that originated from the facility center. The thick of the trees still blocked their vision down that path, but the cool air and the distant shouts and battle cries barely reaching their ears gave Mashirao a moment to guess what was going on — or at least who was in that direction.
"Or Togata and Todoroki will turn off their brains and engage the enemy," the heroine grumbled under her breath. "Of course being a meathead is contagious; why didn't I think of that?"
"Are they gonna be all right?" Kirishima shouted from the back.
"If that is Togata with him, then Todoroki is in safe hands. But whoever is in charge of this attack, I doubt they're as weak as the rest of these criminals. I'll stay behind to make sure he gets out too once I know you kids are safe outside."
Mashirao huffed, catching his footing as the ground shook from the battle in the distance, and then a thought clicked in his head. "If Togata is with them, then where is everyone from his group?"
Thirteen and Kirishima turned on the purple-haired girl that burst through the trees, and the teenager stilled like a deer in headlights at their fighting stances. "Woah, hey!" Jiro strained her voice to avoid shouting, ending up with a hiss of a cry. "It's just us! We're friends, right?"
"Oh hey, Jirou," Kaminari greeted for his group, even generalizing his wave to the rest of their classmates from her group shuffling up behind her. "Looks like we both got dumped by battle-hungry guys. That sucks."
"It is quite unfortunate they've left us behind," Tokoyami replied, one hand holding an umbrella and the other Aoyama while the armor-wearing boy clutched his weaponized stomach. "I surmise Todoroki is the group member you've lost, by the lack of ice trailing behind us." Kirishima huddled to their group, flanking Aoyama's other side to help balance the weight.
The tailed teenager nodded. "Yeah, the" — jackass, Mashirao withheld the inspired malice of Midoriya from his lips — "guy ran off at the first sight of trouble. We hope Togata's with him now, if the wind's anything to go by."
It didn't take too long for their group to notice the frog girl enveloped and carried in his arms, and Yaoyorozu ran over quickly to check on the green-haired girl herself. "What happened to Tsu?" she asked worriedly.
"A bad cold courtesy of you-guessed-it before he left us to fend for ourselves," Mashirao answered in a bitter tone. "A side effect of her mutation." The sour taste in his mouth dried as fast as his head turned away from the taller girl, avoiding the quick flash she almost gave him while a thick blanket rolled out of her stomach. He accepted her help in wrapping it around the already covered frog girl before securing her in his hold once more.
"Let's hope the worst she has is a fever," Yaoyorozu spoke wistfully as she readjusted her costume. "If her genetics are too close to the animals, she'll start to crystallize and that could kill her." She wasn't happy to say it, if the grimace on her face was any indication, and Mashirao wasn't any happier to hear it.
"Eywunfreumtahuan," the over-bundled and delirious Asui slurred amidst their conversation. Mashirao couldn't make out a word, much less a syllable, but he took her response as a sign of hope.
"Let's keep moving, kids," Thirteen urges them, corralling the two merged groups. "If you're still here it means the emergency exits aren't viable, I take it. If so then the front entrance might be our only escape. Let's hope the rest of your classmates have at least defended that escape route."
"Right," Mashirao sounded off with his classmates, being ushered into the center of their congregation as the recent additions to their group played guard for him and Tsuyu. A small, snake-shaped, bird-headed creature wormed its way out of Tokoyami's cloak to reach the cold girl still in Mashirao's arms, and a jack on a thin flesh string came reaching over from his other side to prod her gently for sounds. This was still a classmate - his classmate - whose health and safety was still on his hands; he had to keep focus.
And yet, when the trees had finally parted and the base of the stairwell was but meters away, Mashirao couldn't stop his eyes. He couldn't look away from the group of girls that made Aizawa's group carrying said unconscious teacher from the other side of the stairwell. He couldn't help but notice a lack of the one boy their age that was supposed to be a part of their group. And as an explosion of wind smacked everyone else's heads down, he couldn't stop turning his towards the fight it came from.
Togata had been found, dancing around the side and batting another man — one of the villains — back and forth with ease. Todoroki wasn't too far from him, down on his knees and hunched over with barely a move to be made, and so much smaller than Mashirao remembered him. Approaching him was a burly, tall villain unlike the man losing to the upperclassman. And standing in between the David and the Goliath was the green-haired boy missing from Aizawa's group, meeting the giant man head-on in his approach.
"Midoriya," Mashirao breathed out, garnering the attention of everyone around him to turn onto the battle in the center of the facility and bear witness to the same powerlessness he felt. The tailed teen was stuck in place, surrounded by his classmates and clutching on tight to another, completely unable to jump into action and stop his friend. There was nothing he could do to save him — to step up and stop Midoriya from getting himself killed by the hulking villain that dwarfed him in size.
What was Midoriya doing? Why wasn't he grabbing Todoroki and making a run for it? Why wasn't Togata stopping him and taking him away from the fight? Why did Mashirao have to be the only one around who knew Midoriya didn't have a quirk and would have at least tried to at this point? Why did he have to be there, at the exact right time to watch his quirkless best friend look away from the fist looming over his head and —
Hit the villain across the lake in a single strike with his bat?
Kyoka whistled at the sight of the giant criminal skipping over the water like a stone. "I know Midoriya's strong but I didn't think he could do that," she remarked, holding on to Yaoyorozu's arm to keep herself standing.
"I doubt that guy's gonna get back up, even," Kirishima interjected, somehow a jovial tone coating his voice. "Midoriya's the manly guy who broke the zero pointer in the exam; I saw him do it, too. He's gotta be the strongest guy in the class."
Toloyami hummed, his beak clicking as he continued to walk. "And yet he withholds his tongue on his bountiful successes. Quite the humility our class president has."
Mashirao, however, could not find the strength to speak. His voice was lodged in his throat, and his eyes were pulled wide open as his classmates ushered him along, alone in his silent disbelief. Mashirao, however, could not find the strength to speak. His voice was lodged in his throat, and his eyes were pulled wide open as his classmates ushered him along, alone in his silent disbelief. Questions stormed through his brain, mysteries of what and how and why and what the hell he had just witnessed? How did Midoriya just do that? Did Midoriya just do that? Wouldn't that have required a massive amount of strength to perform?
Wasn't Midoriya quirkless?
That day was a rollercoaster of emotions that never seemed to stop, and every escalating event only tired Mashirao more just to think about. For all of the seconds spent wondering what he had seen his best friend perform, none of it mattered when he came careening into the stairs with his face smashed in two. Escaping didn't feel like much of a victory when all of them were tired, three of their classmates were struggling to walk and their teacher wasn't even conscious. And even now, days after the event, with three of them awake and Midoriya recovering quickly, Mashirao's emotions still weren't settled.
Those nerves and worries were why he had gone to the school on their day off, planning to reconvene with Yaoyorozu and Iida and Uraraka when they were told Midoriya had recovered well enough for them to allow family and visitors. Being told to stay home, keep his head low and stay out of trouble was not what he needed to hear, even if it was in effort to keep him and his classmates safe.
Mashirao gazed out the wall of windows that made near every floor of the school's central building, looking out over the campus and the sea of facilities planted in its grounds. Yuei was a school that had housed just under forty separated facilities and buildings, half of which would occupy students and classes at every hour of the school day. He could barely see them all from where they sat, especially with how many overlapped and blocked others from his sight. Even still, with buildings and trees scattered about his sight, Mashirao could still make out the glass dome that separated the sky from the Unforeseen Simulation Joint.
It wouldn't have mattered where their class had been that day; the villains had targeted them anyways. Wherever they had been, the villains would have followed. The attack wasn't by hapistance or chance, and of all the buildings they chose to attack, it wasn't even the school's main headquarters housing the most students and faculty; they chose one of the most distant facilities from the main building to attack because their class was there. Mashirao knew that for certain, and it haunted him knowing it was nigh unavoidable.
He dug into his pocket and whipped out his phone, fingers dancing ecstatically over his screen as he pulled up Uraraka's number and shot a text. Have you heard from Yaoyorozu or Iida yet? Neither of them have texted me. He thought being just around the corner from Midoriya, knowing he was alive just down the hall in the school's nurse's office, would calm his nerves; wasn't the first time he was wrong.
Maybe it was worse, knowing his best friend was just in arm's reach but he still wasn't allowed to see him. To see him, with his own eyes, and know he was alive and okay. His tail thumped on the bench so roughly that Mashirao could feel it rumble beneath him, but as long as it didn't break he wasn't going to stop. All he wanted was to know Midoriya was all right.
His phone dinged, and Mashirao nearly twisted his neck as he snapped down to read his screen. I actually just met up with them in the teacher's lounge, Uraraka had replied. Lunch Rush is making some more food for all of us so we'll be just a moment longer. We're bringing one for Midoriya, too. It'll just be a few more minutes. He sighed contently, leaning against the wall with his exhale. Even then, his nerves continued to twitch his tail and fingers; there wasn't any hope in calming down until he knew Midoriya was truly okay.
The clopping of shoes echoed into the hall, bouncing louder and louder his way until Mashirao knew it was approaching around the corner beside him. What rounded the corner was a bundle of green hair atop a white tee and jeans, their back turned to Mashirao as the person it all belonged to looked down the opposite end of the hall. The tailed teen had already jumped to his feet before they finally turned around, and what greeted him was a t-shirt that offended fashion with its mere existence and the startled face of Midoriya with a vertical scar that stretched past his left eye, disappearing below his chin and through his hairline. "Ojiro."
"Midoriya—" Mashirao met his friend half way as they ran into each other, the tailed boy having to use his quirk to balance himself as the green-haired boy threw all of his weight into the hug. "Jesus Christ, Midoriy. You're up. I didn't know you were awake. What are you even doing up?"
The green-haired breathed against Mashirao's neck, melting in the boy's arms as their hug turned lax. "Heard you guys were here. Thought I'd visit you first. I really needed to walk. Aizawa-sensei told me you guys were okay, but I needed to be sure."
"We're fine," Mashirao informed him, pulling back from the hug to hold Midoriya at arm's length. "We've just been worried about you. What the hell were you thinking?" He took another look at the scar on his friend's face, pulling himself closer to see where the skin became muscle. "Are you sure you shouldn't still be lying down? This looks terrible."
Midoriya wheezed out a laugh. "It looks worse than it feels. You should see the other guy."
"I did." What small grin the green teen had on his face faded away under Mashirao's stern voice. "I saw you fight him. I saw him send you across the building into the stairwell beside us. I saw you bleeding out of your face. You were dying. Todoroki nearly did the same because he had the dumb idea of leaving us behind to fight that monster. What the hell were you doing out there?"
Instead of answering him, Midoriya gave Mashirao a more somber and saddened look. The green-haired boy tore his gaze away first, dropping it to the floor between their feet. His hands grasped gently around the tailed boy's wrists and pulled them off his shoulders with just as much force.
"I was trying to stop sensei and Todoroki and Togata from dying," he finally answered weakly, and before Mashirao could voice himself again, he continued, "and I got myself fucked over for it, I know." Midoriya took a deep breath in through his nose, and blinked his eyes as they glowed glossier. "I'm not happy or proud about it either. I just wanted to help. And I'm sorry I put you guys through this; that's shitty of me to do. I should have thought that through more."
"No, man, that's not" — the blond boy bit his tongue, cursing himself through his teeth as he flipped his hands in Midoriya's grasp to grab onto him — "what I meant. I'm sorry for saying that. But with everything else going wrong that day, I'm pretty sure seeing you out there gave me a heart attack. Fuck, I didn't know if I'd see you again after that." The teenager had to breathe back in his own tears like his friend did. "I'm just happy you're okay. That's what matters to me."
Midoriya nodded, probably not trusting his voice the same way Mashirao was mad at his own for cracking. Then he shifted weight on his feet. "I should sit down," the green-haired boy suggested, leaning himself to the bench. "I think I got up too fast."
"Yeah. Yeah, let's sit you down." Mashirao helped him down, leaning the boy into the seat and settling down beside him. "You sure you're all right? Do I need you rush you back to Recovery Girl?"
"No, I'm fine," Midoriya waved him off lazily. "Just made the mistake of getting up too fast. I'll be good; they want you guys running me back to her office in like an hour anyways. I just want to be with you guys for a while first."
The blond boy nodded. "I do too." He watched Midoriya slouch over his own lap, and his eyes traced up the side of the green-haired boy's head to the patch of scalp where his hair was barely growing. Maybe the size of a hockey puck of buzz cut hair, where the topmost half of the patch was outlined by the scar that climbed up from his face. He didn't mean to stare at it so long, but his friend caught his gaze soon enough.
"So you saw," Midoriya started, "what happened at the USJ."
Mashirao took a deep breath, turning his eyes down to Midoriya's shoes. The bright red texture of his sneakers were once a sore on his eyes, back when he first met the green-haired boy. But having looked at them sporadically over the months, he could tell the darker splatters of red apart from the fabric that put it together. "I did," he answered flatly. "I know what I saw. I just don't believe it."
The thought-to-be-quirkless boy didn't flinch an inch, still bent over his own knees and bowing his head towards the floor. His clasped hands pressed harder together, and the jitter of his right foot only quickened its pace. Mashirao didn't know what was going through his head — if he was nervous or panicked or what — but he knew a Midoriya reflecting in thought was not a safe Midoriya, with all the other conversations they've had.
The tailed teen couldn't hold back his own anxiety, and apologized silently for his following outburst. "Look, Midoriya, when you asked me to keep your secret here, I assumed everything else you were telling me was the truth. That at least I wasn't the one being lied to. You've spent the past year letting me know you were quirkless. And I'm sorry if this isn't the right, but I do need you to tell me the truth—"
"That's why I'm here." Midoriya rolled his head up to face Mashirao appropriately, showcasing for the other boy his reddening and somewhat glossy eyes. "That's why I got up to find you. I need to tell you" — his gaze shifted away, turning past the blond boy's arm "all of you, about what's going on. You guys deserve to know it first."
Mashirao followed his friend's gaze down the other end of the hall, watching with him as Iida, Uraraka and Yaoyorozu appeared and approached them with handfuls of trays and food atop them. The blond boy waved to them, but it didn't take them long to notice the boy behind him giving them the same greeting. It was entertaining to watch the brunette fumble with her tray and force it onto the bluenette's shaking arms before she shot across the room Mashirao and Midoriya's way.
"Midoriya!" Uraraka shouted as she nearly slipped in front of the two seated boys before she tackled the green-haired one in a hug. "You're awake! Oh my god! Oh my god! Are you okay?"
"Yeah I'm fine," he stuttered out, patting her back sharply as he gasped. "Do need to breathe though."
"Oh! Right!" The girl let him go quickly, shooting back to hold his shoulders at full arm's length. "Sorry. I'm just" — her face shifted from excited to embarrassed to wobbly with rainbow-colored tears streaming down her face — "really happy to see you're awake."
Midoriya softened into a small smile, reaching out to Uraraka's shoulder and patting them gently. "Thank you. I'm happy you guys are all safe too."
"Safe is an operative word." Iida and Yaoyorozu finally caught up to the three. The blue-haired boy passed along his trays of food to Mashirao and the pair beside him as they let each other go, though much slower than the tailed boy did with their friend. The blue-haired friend kneeled down in front of them, as the raven-haired girl flanked the brunette's other side, all to greet the green-haired teen. "Being at home with our families has been relaxing, but I speak for us all when I say anxiety has been eating us alive to see you again."
"We saw the text Aizawa-sensei sent us," Yaoyorozu stated, and Mashirao checked his own phone to see one as well with him and his friends all in the group message. Her eyes lingered on his face, and her mouth bounced silently before she found her voice again. "Would you like to go back to the nurse's office now?"
Midoriya shook his head. "No, I don't. I—" He pursed his lips closed and looked to Mashirao, and the blond boy knew what it conveyed. The green-haired boy shared it with Iida too, and Mashirao saw his posture straighten and stiffen with recognition. "There's something I want to talk about first. You all need to hear this, because I haven't been…I haven't told you all the full truth."
Mashirao sat back patiently as the rest of their friends shook in surprise. Even Iida was off put from his balance, most likely from the choice words Midoriya used, Mashirao assumed. "What do you mean?" Uraraka asked, scooting back on her knees and placing her tray beside her.
Midoriya took one more look between them all — Mashirao caught an uncertainty in his eyes — before he took a deep breath. "When I first met Ojiro and Iida, I had told them I was quirkless…"
Shouta cradled his warm cup of tea against his chest as he sat up on his bed. Hizashi — seated beside the mattress — downed cold cups like no tomorrow, but the underground hero didn't stop him. The cockatoo worried over every student in the school, even those not in his homeroom. His english classes with Shouta's students somehow made for a strong enough connection that the man thought choking on tea was a smart choice.
"I'm sorry for what I said," Shouta began his apology, only for the blond man to raise a hand to his face.
"I know. And I know what you were trying to say. I want to see Oboro again too. You didn't mean any harm by it." Mic downed another cup quickly. "So long as the rest of these cups are mine, all is forgiven."
"I'll give you pigtails for the rest of the week if one of those cups goes down the wrong tube," Recovery Girl shouted at him from across the room anyways. "And I will pay Kayama to keep them that way every morning if I have to."
"Alright, alright," the blond-haired man conceded with a quickly nervous smile. He scurried to the other side of Shouta's bed, away from the school nurse. "I'll hold back on the tea. I'm just trying to stay hydrated."
Shouta gave his partner a side-eye look."You're trying to drink your own worries without the side effects alcohol gives you."
Yamada melted into the other man's side with a tight hug, cooing over Shouta's frustrated growling. "Oh you know me so well, sharkboy," the vocally-quirked man swooned, only annoying his partner more at the nickname. "But I know you'd be doing the same if you weren't here."
"The three of us can't all be crying drunks," Shouta snaps back calmly, the image of his husband and wife entangled on the couch in a sobbing mess the day Yuei hired him flickering in his eyes. "We'd forget to feed Kumo. He'd trim you bald the morning after." The cup stopped a millimeter short of his lips, and the underground hero turned his head slowly to the vocal-chorded superhuman. "You and Nemuri have been feeding him, right?"
"Of course we have. It's why she's holding down the fort, so he doesn't try to follow in your profession while you're here. You two don't sleep enough as is." The parakeet of a man melted under Shouta's hand, resting atop his head. "You don't have to worry right now. We scared those villains off with their tails between their legs and your kids are going to be okay. You can relax."
Though hesitant, Shouta did as his husband suggested, leaning back against his pillow and allowing Yamada to use the man's side as a temporary cushion. With Midoriya awake and even walking on his own two feet just fine, the last of his worries had been squashed. The school had been wiped clean with no more criminals to be found, Todoroki and Asui had recovered and returned home, and all of his students had made it out alive. He could take the time to rest—
"I must be coming in at the wrong time, then." Both heroes turned their eyes to the doorway, as the shorter, lankier form of All-Might shuffled in with a weak wave of a greeting. "I've got some information I thought you'd like to hear, and I heard you were recovering just fine, so I thought I'd make a visit. But if you'd rather leave it to your work hours—"
"Does it have to do with the break-in?" Shouta interrupted him.
Yagi blinked in surprise a brief moment before his shoulders squared. "It does."
The underground hero sat up, ushering his husband back into his chair despite his protests. "Then come in."
The number one hero stalked into the room, greeting the school's short nurse on his path to Shouta's bedside. Following behind him were the third-year student that the underground hero had heard Yagi was shadowing in training and the future-seeing hero Shouta knew as All-Might's old sidekick. As the blond man took a seat opposite on the bed from Yamada, Togata and Sir Nighteye sat across the room; the former in the spinning stool doctor Koresh had occupied earlier and the latter at the foot of what was previously Midoriya's bed. How serious was this supposed to be that three people had to visit?
"I'm relieved to see your head isn't a ball of medical tape and bandages," Yagi commented. "Nemuri told me they put you in a sarcophagus the instant they got you here."
Yamada laughed at the news before Shouta could respond. "That would have gone well with King Tut last Halloween," his husband joked.
Much to his chagrin, Shouta huffed. "Guess I'm skipping the holiday this year," he muttered to himself before looking at Yuei's newest teacher. "I got off lucky with my wounds. I probably wouldn't have if Lemillion hadn't stepped in when he did." He raised his cup towards the teenager. "Thank you for protecting my students. And my condolences for the cake being mailed to your home courtesy of the sap beside me." His husband smiled and blushed sheepishly.
Togata mirrored the school's English teacher's embarrassed expression with his own nervous laugh to support it. "It's no problem at all, sir," the teenager replied. "I'm relieved I got to you in time. I don't think I'd be sleeping if I was a second too late. And thank you for the cake." He bowed in his seat to Yamada. "My dad's a big fan of sweets so it'll go to good use in our house. Maybe we share the next one instead?"
"We would if Kan wasn't a threat to our food reserves," the vocal hero replied hesitantly. "But I'll do my best to keep his grubby hands away from the lounge once that day comes."
"Where's…Midoriya?" Yagi finally questioned, taking notice of the empty bed prior to Nighteye's takeover, and the two men that had entered with him analyzed the bed with him in their sudden shift to surprise.
"He's upstairs, I believe," Shouta answered. "Or at least he should be. Some of his classmates came to visit him, he walked out a few minutes ago to see them. He's healed surprisingly quickly from his injuries, though his new scar will remain for the foreseeable future."
"And he'll be back later for a proper check-up," Recovery Girl added, pointing a glare Shouta's way. "Someone here thought it would be okay to let him move on his own accord before I could discharge him, and will be paying a big price if the boy comes back in a stretcher."
"The listener tried to shoulder-checked me at the door," Yamada retold. "It was like a brick wall walked into me. Whatever his dad's been feeding him, it's working." Shouta threw his husband a quick reminder of a look, and the blond man threw his hands up in defense once he figured out why. "Right. Mother. Sorry, I've been trying to remember that for him and one of Kan's students. But he did look like he was doing well, so we let him go see his friends."
The trio of newcomers had a mix of reactions to that information. Togata was the most animated in his relief, flopping in his chair with a sigh and muttering thanks to the ceiling over Midoriya's recovery. Yagi was nowhere near as physical in his display, but his laxed shoulders and simple smile were vocal enough. The only expression that concerned Shouta was Nighteye's muted and pressed lips as he looked to the ground.
Shouta had heard from Recovery Girl that the hero — once the sidekick of the number one hero — had come to the school on the day of the attack on his class with the intention to pester Nedzu about Midoriya. The underground hero never had the chance to think about it, because there was little public about the boy to warrant the hero's visit, and the tone Chiyo had when speaking of the man led Shouta to believe Nighteye wasn't there to scout the boy for an internship.
"Will he be making a full recovery?" The lime-haired hero finally inquired, turning his glass-covered eyes to the healing heroine.
Recovery Girl returned the man a hardened stare before responding, "Beyond the scar that's formed where we couldn't fully repair his skin, he should be back to his healthy self from before. His eyes are both fully functional, his jaw has no cramps or shattered bones, and aside from struggling to remember the incident in its entirety at the moment there seems to be no other conditions to his mental state. We'll know how he does under physical tests once classes start up again. I expect you to take it slow on the kids on their day back." The short woman directed her final comment to the trio of teachers seated beside each other, and Shouta nodded along with the blonds flanking either side of him.
Nighteye's shoulders rose with an elongated inhale, and dropped with the rest of his body to slump on the exhale. "That's good to hear. I can't imagine what losing this opportunity to be a hero would feel like, especially to someone like him."
"I'm surprised to hear you empathize with my student," Shouta remarked. "I was under the impression your visit wasn't a formality. What changed?"
"I saw the boy dying in the arms of one of his classmates," Nighteye was quick to answer, removing his glasses and facing his mechanical-esque eyes at the underground hero. "I saw your students mourn and panic at almost losing one of their own, one that risked his life to save theirs; to save yours. I saw with no doubt in any of your minds that this boy not only deserves to be here but has proven himself trustworthy to a fault and a genuine hero-hopeful among his peers." The future-seeing hero drew his gaze around the room, to the uneasy Togata in response to his stare around to Yagi returning the look with his own soft look. "I don't need to use my quirk on him. It would be ridiculous of me to persist that the boy is a traitor and a spy, after nearly sacrificing himself like this — even I can't bring myself to believe it anymore. The mystery of the boy's strength is more pressing than his loyalty now."
Shouta's eyes twitched in annoyance. "Why am I not surprised you know about this?" He turned his burning gaze to his side, onto the thin blond hero sweating bullets without looking him in the eye. "Even you know better than to pass such a secret around so haphazardly."
"It, uh" — Yagi could barely compose himself as he dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief — "was Nedzu who shared Midoriya's performance at the entrance exam with Mirai, along with a brief review regarding the boy's medical records."
That, he could believe, Shouta sighed in defeat. Why he continued to work for that rat, he had no idea; his games and actions were too tiresome to keep putting up with. "Relay a message to him for me. First of all, I want a raise; he hasn't compensated me for all these migraines. And secondly, there's been a development in the case of Midoriya's abilities, and I will not be sharing them with you first." He directed the end of his sentence to the future-seeing hero, strengthening his pointed glare at the man. If he truly was backing off of his student's shoulders and meant to end his accusations of the boy, he'd have to prove it first.
"Fair enough," Nighteye conceded. The man repositioned his glasses over his face, settling his gaze on the underground hero across from him. "Shall we discuss the more pressing matter, then? It's the reason we came to see you at all. I argued against discussing this with you now, but Toshi is convinced that now is a better time than ever."
Yagi grimaced at his old sidekick alongside Shouta's displeasure. "The villains nearly took his head, his life and his students; I think it would give him some closure to the event to know the status of their arrests. Besides" — the number one hero soured his expression further, its direction lost to space — "we will need all the help we can get, come the next fight against them."
"I take it you don't mean the lowlife criminals hired for that stint?" Shouta pulled his glare away from the green-haired hero to look at the pro beside him. "Most of them couldn't throw a proper punch even if their lives depended on it. They weren't much of a threat in the first place. The men in charge, however, did pose a problem. What'd you learn about them?"
Yagi hesitated, hands fiddling in his lap and sweat glistening across his forehead. Shouta watched the man struggle to continue his sentences, and a brief glance across the room gave him the sight of Nighteye and Togata squirming in their places, obviously waiting for the bigger man to break the ice. The green-haired hero made it sound like the two blonds accompanying him thought their information urgent enough to bring to him and him alone, so why hesitate?
Luckily he wasn't the only one in the room caught by the silence. "Shall I leave this discussion to you few, then?" Chiyo piped up, shelving away her papers and hopping off her seat towards the entrance.
"No, stay." Yagi was quick to snap out of his trance, whirling on Recovery Girl and motioning for her to stop. "You should hear this too. We've already talked to Nedzu about this; you'll know him too."
Chiyo's confusion grew to match Shouta's, and the underground hero turned on the lanky man. "You've met the men who attacked us."
"I've met the man who orchestrated the attack on us," the number one hero clarified. "My friend in the police force has been keeping Nedzu updated on new information regarding those who broke into the school; they've compiled profiles of all the thugs now behind bars or cycling through the interrogation process still. The characters known as Shigaraki, Kurogiri and Nomu had profiles crafted for them, and as of right now we cannot confirm these as their official names or their quirks."
"You don't believe those to be their real names?"
"As far as the police have been able to find, no one legally goes by these names living in the southern half of Japan. Regarding their quirks, no hospital registries have records of teleportation or disintegration types that could match the age groups of the Shigaraki and Kurogiri criminals. The police should be looking into deceased records for any similar quirks soon, and if we're lucky they won't find anything." Yagi's hands fell into each other, fumbling in his lap while his brows flinched. "But for now we will have to act as though this is the worst case scenario and assume those quirks belong to the deceased."
Yamada staggered his cups on the counter, peering over Shouta with a more exaggerated, confused gaze than the underground hero wore. "What's 'worst case scenario' about this? Unidentifiable criminals aren't completely new; there's a chance these guys and their families are just foreigners. It'll be a bit harder to get the profiles we need but it's not like anyone is completely anonymous."
"There are." Nighteye's almost robotic eyes glared through his lenses at the other glasses-wearing hero across the room. "Men so anonymous that they'll take their identities to their grave where they belong. And where they'll stay because death can't be cheated forever."
Shouta gave the lime-haired hero's cryptic words a squinted glare while his husband muttered questions of his own under his breath. Death couldn't be cheated, could it? Since when did that change?
"Toshi." Instead of finding Recovery Girl in a similar state of confusion, Shouta found it more discomforting to see her stare at the emasculated form of All-Might with a harrowed frown of realization. "You're lying."
Yagi, for his part, was nothing more than a cold, grim statue in his chair, not even bothering to look the heroine in the eyes. "I saw him there. I heard him speak." What broke him from his solid stature was but a breath of air so weak yet must have been rattling his bones wild. "He's alive."
None of his words carried an ounce of meaning to Shouta, but to Recovery Girl they may as well have been news of a family death with how distraught she turned. "No," she muttered, dropping into her chair and staring at the ground in disbelief. "It can't be."
"Hey, Chi-Chi, don't have a heart attack on us now." Yamada rushed around the room to the short woman's side, flanked by Togata as the two held the old lady steady in her seat. "Stay steady. Just breathe. Jesus, Yagi, what the hell is this about?" It wasn't often that Yamada All-Might anything other than his hero name, Shouta noted, while the vocal hero turned his worried and confused stare on the thin hero.
Yagi only met the gaze with a somber frown in return. "Six years ago, one man gave me this." Shouta knew of the scar he had, but even still, laying his eyes upon the netting of skin and flesh that made almost all of the number-one hero's torso left his stomach uneasy. His husky, hollowed eyes rolled Shouta's way, and the blue buttons within were dark and angry. "A dangerous, old man. The disaster in Toshima-ku was the result of our fight. Do you remember that?"
Shouta nodded, because he remembered being there. He remembered the sudden call and deployment from Yuei, where he and almost all of the teachers were flown over and dropped in on a catastrophe of criminals and geographical destruction without so much as a warning that disaster would strike a five-by-five block radius. All Shouta was told to do was rescue and evacuate civilians, and take into custody any suspicious or criminal individuals. He remembered how an entire block of buildings suddenly collapsed with a shockwave Nedzu reported hearing from his office, but Shouta was instructed to keep his distance, let the designated heroes handle that fight, and to continue his own efforts in escorting people to safety. He wasn't even aware All-Might was on the scene that day; the man had publicly expressed his grief and condolences to the attack while alluding that he had been working elsewhere at the time one week after the chaos.
"While he took my stomach," Yagi continued, "I took his head. I removed his face, the only thing he still had from the life he's lived for too long. I buried him, where I killed him; I dug him his grave and laid him under dirt. Only when I could no longer see him, did I dare to feel the hole he had blown open in me. That is why I look like this now. The limit of my quirk, the state of my health; it's all because of him.
"An apartment complex was built atop his grave, amidst all the reconstruction of the ward," Yagi continued, lowering his shirt and hiding the blooming wound. "The piping and layering beneath it were built above him. His corpse was dropped fifty meters below the street level. That town hasn't seen destruction or construction in that area since. The ground around him remained unmoved as the day he became one with it."
"Who?" Shouta finally asked aloud, interrupting Yagi from continuing his story. "I don't remember you killing a man like this; no one would have forgotten if they knew. Why keep it a secret if he was this dangerous? Who was he?"
"A man who has quite possibly lived for over the past two hundred years," Nighteye began explaining. Shouta didn't look at him, though, swapping his gaze between Yagi's heated glare facing him and Recovery Girl's apologetic and glossy eyes crying up to Togata's. "A man who was born on this planet before quirks first existed and then got his own. Japan's — if not the world's — first real villain of the quirk age. Hiding in the underground and colluding with every crime syndicate across our nation. A man that should have been dead several times over now."
"The 'man' side of him has been dead for over a century." Yagi hissed out his burning words, looking to the man previously known as his sidekick before looking Shouta in the eyes again. "All that's left of him is his quirk. It's the only name he has left to be called, other than bastard and monster." His azure eyes lit within the dark pits of their sockets, his frown cutting into his chin with a snarl.
But Shouta could see beneath it. Hidden under the powerhouse's aggressive demeanor, below his cultivated super strength and the status he held up with it, sheltered by the hero whose name alone could send criminals back home; Shouta could see the man within. The man who looked like he just wanted to cry.
"All For One. A villain capable of stealing and giving quirks through force."
The Big Conversation was not something Izuku thought himself emotionally ready for. Lying to his friends — at least who he considered friends if they didn't think it back — was a risk made under his worries, under his past, and under the most unfortunate of circumstances. Everyone at UA were far better than his old classmates, sans Bakugou but he was no longer in his class; a fact he was still trying to accept as reality. But everyone else was nice and treated him like any other human being. So having to admit that he's been lying to them just to be seen as their equal was always a bothering thought.
Then suddenly he had superhuman strength that no one could pinpoint the origin or cause of, which meant he had even more shit to try and explain. Sitting on a bench, surrounded by four of his closest friends, Izuku could only wait patiently for them to fully absorb the truth as he knew it: he was quirkless, made up a quirk to fool anyone who didn't know better, but now had real powers that he was still trying to understand fully.
Iida was the first to recover. "So," he started slowly, repositioning himself against the glass wall to raise his hands in front of him, "you have a quirk, you just don't know what it is."
"I mean, I guess?" Izuku responded flimsy. "I have strength and durability I can't have otherwise. Take damage I shouldn't be able to manage or recover from like I have been."
"Like when you fought Bakugou," Uraraka pitched beside the blue-haired boy. "How you brushed off his explosions and your arms…"
That was a good addition to remember, Izuku noted. Bakugou had nearly blown his arms to the bone and yet he stayed awake through the pain and shock that should have assaulted his senses. Maybe he should add pain tolerance to his list.
"And you're only just now realizing you can do this?" Ojiro questioned from beside him on the bench. "The amount of strength required to pull off what you have cannot have just 'appeared' out of nowhere. And you also can't not have noticed this sooner."
"I have been aware of this for all of a week," Izuku admitted, withering slightly with each unbelieving stare turned his way. "I've thought something to be off for a while, but I am being completely honest with you all. I don't know anything else. But after all this" — Izuku gestured to the air around him and eventually the new look of his face — "it's not something I can go about by myself anymore."
Yaoyorozu rubbed her forehead in silence, across from Izuku and leaning against the glass wall. Of all the responses he needed to hear, hers was the most important; the reason he lied in the first place. The longer she stayed silent, the more he worried.
Iida moved instead, pushing himself off the wall and pinching his nose as he moved around his tray of food on the ground. Izuku felt bad his info dump had dropped everyone's enthusiasm for a meal — he didn't have the strength to touch anything on the plate they had gotten for him.
"How could I have not noticed it sooner?" Iida questioned aloud, not even directed at Izuku or the rest of them. "How do I miss my friend breaking robots and fighting monsters on All Might's level? Am I the only one here who hasn't noticed any of this sooner?"
"I've only known about this for three days," Ojiro answered honestly. "With the USJ and all."
"And you didn't think to tell me about that these past three days?"
"I don't know how I could have worded it for you to believe me. I didn't believe me."
"You've had these powers since December." Heads turned to the raven-haired girl as she finally spoke up, pointing her analyzing stare at Izuku. "Back at the mall, against the thieves. You walked off a bullet for almost half an hour. You stuck a guy in a wall."
Izuku furrowed his eyebrows at that. "The guy would molded stone around him? I thought he did that to catch himself."
"You smacked him across the store."
Oh. He had done that, hadn't he? How long has he really been capable of all this?
"So you" — Uraraka waved her hands wildly before her — "do have a quirk? But you thought you didn't? And you told us you did when you still thought you didn't and didn't notice why we believed it until just recently?"
Izuku nodded his head slowly. "Quirks are so normal these days, who doesn't have one, right?" He tried to laugh it off, though the sound died in his throat as not another dared to join him. He poked at the noodles Lunch Rush had cooked for them — maybe he should have let everyone eat them before he let them all go cold.
"And you truly didn't know you were capable of all this until maybe a week ago?" Yaoyorozu asked. He nodded again, and the raven-haired girl pinched her nose with a sigh. "I'm sorry but I'm just finding this all hard to believe. How could you not have noticed any of this sooner?"
There was little else he thought to do but shrug. "There wasn't much to pay attention to? I've been told I'm quirkless since I was four and I did…jack all growing up to make anyone believe differently. I didn't do anything like the mall stuff until the entrance exam, and I cared more about your guys' safety than anything during those times. I thought I was normal, and all my training was just making me stronger as it should have."
"Then this is good, right?" the tall girl questioned again. "You have a quirk; you have super strength. You're more than capable of fighting criminals and being a hero now than you would have been without it. What's still troubling you about this?"
Why wouldn't that be troubling in its own right, Izuku asked himself. Years of believing himself to be quirkless, being told he was worthless to his dreams, a danger to himself and an upset to his peers, only to find out he was never truly an outcast near too late in life for it to matter was infuriating. Crafting a story to hide the truth of his believed-quirkless status, hoping to fit in without question and start on a near clean slate, only for a factor he failed to include when he had several chances to only pose more questions was headache-inducing. For all his talk of proving his worth as a quirkless hero to all those who doubted him, told him no, and tried to control his life end up amounting to nothing was massively disappointing.
Not knowing who would be credited for his accomplishments and his progress — himself or his "quirk" — like Yaoyorozu had done and the mall and as she was doing now was heartbreaking.
But there was still more to it than that, at least he could share. "Because what I have doesn't exactly function like a quirk," he finally answered. "I don't have a quirk gene in my system, my blood still reads like it doesn't have one apparently. And Aizawa-sensei has tried using his quirk on me to pause my quirk and it doesn't work. I have this — I can do all this — and as much as it works like a quirk, the name kinda only applies in function but not everything else."
"Wait," Mashirao interjected, eyes turning upward as he scrolled through his thoughts, "what do you mean pause your quirk?"
"Oh." Izuku tried to remember if their homeroom teacher had ever formally introduced himself and his hero identity, but not a scenario came to memory; was he the only one who knew? "Our teacher is a pro hero, Eraserhead. His quirk can pause other people's quirks. I think I saw him use it on the purple smoke guy back at the USJ."
Iida and Uraraka shared a look together, and the blue-haired boy nodded with understanding. "So that's what stopped him. That man tried to stop us from leaving the way we came in; I have been wondering why his quirk suddenly stopped working."
Izuku remembered seeing that in action, as the criminal tumbled down a stairway of maybe a hundred plus ledges without stopping. He still flinched lightly at the thought. "The teachers are trying to help me understand it, too. They don't know any more about this than I do now, and they aren't calling it a quirk either. I don't know what to call it. I don't know what to do at all about this."
"Well," Uraraka muttered, tapping the dots of her fingers together, "does it change anything? I don't feel happy about being lied to, but I get why you did it; even though you have a quirk or something. I don't know much about quirkless but…my old school didn't paint it in a good light. And after Bakugou, and whatever you have with him, of course you didn't want to tell anyone." Her eyes, once glossy, shone clean with peace and kindness Izuku's way. "But I don't think any differently about you. You saved me in the entrance exam, you and Iida" — she looked up beside her to the blue-haired boy — "and you're both my friends. This doesn't change anything."
"The same goes for me, Midoriya." Iida dropped his arms to his sides and bowed, bent at the waist, to the two girls in their group. "My sincerest apologies to you both for withholding the truth from you both. But Midoriya is still my closest friend, and as outrageous as this whole situation is, I do believe you. And I am still here for you, whatever I can offer."
Izuku followed the turn of his head to the tailed boy by his side, who only looked back at him and blinked. "We can hug again, if it works as proof," Ojiro suggested jokingly. "You're still my friend, dumb decisions and all."
The green-haired teen snickered for a moment, not taking him up on the offer, before slowly rolling his head to the other side and towards the raven-haired girl opposite of Iida. Yaoyorozu sat still and silent, separated from the group in her own thoughts. It felt far longer to Izuku than it took for her to finally look at everyone but him first, and end her somber gaze and small frown on him. "I can't say I'm happy about being lied to," she admitted flatly, "and being used to spread the lie. But my parents and private teachers have educated me on the classism divide that rose between quirked and quirkless and how it's persisted for decades. So if you've just told us the real truth, I can make a guess as to why you didn't share that with me. And if so, I would like to apologize for not presenting myself as trustworthy to you sooner."
Izuku shook his head gently. "You thought I had a quirk when we first met. But you thought I could be a hero because of what I could do, and I…didn't want to lose that support. I'm sorry for leading you on for so long." Ojiro snickered beside him, and Izuku swirled his head back to him and his tight-pressed smile. "What?"
"Nothing at all," the tailed boy blatantly lied.
The green-haired boy jabbed his elbow lightly into his arm, smiling gently back at him before turning to the rest of them. "Thank you," he told them earnestly. "That means more than I'm comfortable with sharing right now, but thank you. And I'll tell everyone in class about this later. It still doesn't make sense to me, but after all this" — his thumb rose to trace the scar where it bent around his chin — "I don't want to lie to anyone anymore. I owe you guys for my life; I owe them the truth too. And I still have to tell—"
"—her." The green-haired teen shuddered to his feet as his mother appeared almost out of thin air, barreling down the hall as the Bakugou paternals chased behind her. "Mom—" He didn't get the chance to properly greet his mother before she tackled him like a train, nearly topping them both over had Iida and Ojiro not caught him from behind. "Mom!"
"You're awake!" she cried into his ear. Her hold on his tightened as they regained their balance, and so much water was pouring down Izuku's shoulder that he was convinced there would be an ankle-high pool within the minute. "My baby's awake! Oh god, you're okay! You're okay, you're okay…"
He wasn't ready for the warmth of the hug, for the crack of her voice beside his ear, and the wave of numb warmth her sobs washed through him. He collapsed into the embrace willingly, turning his scar away to rest his head atop her hair, and rub her back as he soothed her. "I'm okay," he whispered back. "I'm okay. I promise I'm okay." He trailed his eyes up slowly as Katsuki's parents finally caught up to them, and huffed a laugh and a smile to greet them. "Hi."
"Jesus, kid," Bakugou Mitsuki breathed out, lifting Izuku's hair to the side to get her best look at his face. "You do not look okay."
"I look worse than I feel, I promise."
His mother pulled back from her hold on him, her face melting aghast at the sight of his own as she reached up and cupped his left cheek. "Does it hurt?"
"Not really," he told her honestly, pressing a thumb of his own into the scar tissue with little pressure. "Recovery Girl healed me well. I'm more hurt about my hair."
Uncle Masaru toed around Izuku's stout mother, placing a hand on the teen's shoulder and taking a sorrowful look at the shaved patch of hair beside his scar. "I wasn't aware they were allowed to remove hair during surgery these days. They weren't permitted to do that when I was a kid. We can swing by the salon later today to clean that up for you, or anything you'd like, whenever you're ready to go."
Izuku smiled back at him. "Thank you, Bakugou-san. But I actually have to be back in the nurse's office in a few minutes so Recovery Girl can make sure it's okay for me to go home."
His mother did not hesitate to grab his hand and pull him along beside her. "Let's go see her then. We need to get you home, get you a proper shower; I can cook that katsudon you like."
He rushed himself forward to fall by her side, fixing his hand in hers to return the hold and walk with her. "That would be nice. Thank you." Izuku rested his other hands over both of hers, and everyone else followed behind them, with Ojiro and Iida clamoring to carry the trays of cold food.
"I take it you're all classmates of Izuku, then?" Aunt Mitsuki started a conversation with his friends, dragging behind Inko to be closer to them.
"Yes, ma'am," Ojiro answered for them, before shouting softly ahead, "Hello again, Midoriya-san," to which Izuku's mother rasped out a greeting in response before returning to her mutters of what to do when they got home. "And you're Bakugou's parents?"
Uncle Masaru nodded back to them. "Yes, we are." He bowed his head and chest as he walked. "Our apologies for our boy's behavior, if he had treated any of you as rudely as he had Izuku—" His head only stayed down longer as his wife threw her hand atop it.
"Our brat should be the one apologizing to them first," she huffed with a brief tone of anger before she sighed it away with disappointment. "He still hasn't picked up his guts to do so; couldn't even build the courage to come today and make sure Izuku was awake and okay. And he refuses to believe he's in the wrong."
"I can't say I know him all that well," Yaoyorozu began, "but he was…far more brutal and aggressive than anyone I've ever met."
"And that would be my fault," Aunt Mitsuki grunted sadly. "I've been too rough in front of him growing up, and he never learned his manners properly. I was a terrible role model to him." Her husband shuffled to walk by her side, taking her hands in his as they strolled.
"You never taught him to be cruel to others," Uncle Masaru reasoned with her. "It's on us both that we didn't see it sooner and teach him his manners. And your tenacity and ferocity is anything but terrible; it makes you beautiful."
The blonde woman whipped her personality around instantly, cooing and throwing her husband into a hug while maintaining their stride. "And you are the sweetest heart in the world, honey." Ochako cooed too at the domestic sight of the adults, while Ojiro made a gargle in response, and Izuku laughed silently to himself as he watched.
He then turned back to his mother, leaning his head down to her to whisper. "When we go home, can we talk for a while?" he asked her. "There's something I want to share with you."
"Is it bad?" she responded, a look of worry quickly flashing onto her face. "Are you feeling ill?"
He shook his head to ease her fears. "I'm fine. I just want to share something with you, between us." He shot up to her forehead, planting a quick kiss on her dome. "I love you. Thank you for everything you do for me."
And then she finally smiled, and Izuku returned the expression in kind. "Thank you for being okay. I love you too."