Izuku's on the ledge.
Up here, such an important decision seems so simple. Just one step, and it'll all be over. Kacchan won't have to worry about him anymore and neither will his mother, really. She won't have to worry about him coming home with bruises and broken bones if he doesn't come home at all.
She'll be racked with grief at first, of that he has no doubt. Inko Midoriya will weep over the boy she couldn't save. That's just the woman she is, always bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders. That's probably where he gets it from. Her tears will last a couple of weeks until she realizes how much of a burden her son had been and how much easier life is without him.
Completely ignoring the financial difficulties she faces because of him, she'll no longer have to worry about her quirkless son. He's one of the twenty percent of the population born without a special power, a quirk. She won't have to deal with his fanboy obsessions. She won't have to deal with his emotional burdens. She won't have to deal with him.
It will be a blessing in disguise, really. With this thought, his mind is made up. He shifts his weight to his left foot as he raises his right off the railing.
"What are you doing?"
The voice is so deep and sudden that he loses his balance and feels gravity sink its claws into his chest, yanking him towards the ground. When he feels the weightlessness and faces the ground, his inevitable demise, his first feeling is regret. How could he ever leave his mother all alone? She's never going to know how sorry he is for being so selfish.
As suddenly as he's falling, he just as suddenly stops.
He doesn't hold back his cry of pain when his torso is jerked, a rib undoubtedly cracked, if not broken, by the force. Izuku looks down and sees worn grey fabric wrapped around his chest. Whatever it is, it's stopped his descent and he's grateful.
His injured ribs are jostled even more as he's pulled back to the top of the building. The fabric lets Izuku go after he's been safely deposited on the roof. He looks up at his savior. It takes less than a second for the fanboy to recognize him. He's tall and lean with long black hair and a pair of yellow goggles laying against his chest.
"Eraserhead! What are y—"
"Are you alright kid?"
The question catches Izuku off guard, but his response is automatic. "Oh, yeah. Thank you."
"What were you doing on the ledge? Just because you have a quirk, that doesn't make you invincible."
Izuku's mouth clamps shut. Of course. Eraserhead is a professional hero with an amazing quirk. He can remove other people's powers just by looking at them. Granted, he has to maintain eye contact for it to work, but the only danger in his world comes from villains, failed rescues, and paparazzi. Why would he automatically assume Izuku's actions to have such a sinister end? Now Izuku is nauseous and his stomach is rolling.
There's no way he can admit his weaknesses in front of one of the greats now. He doesn't want to think about how Eraserhead would look at him once he knew that Izuku would rather take his own life than deal with being quirkless. His problems seem so insignificant compared to what the hero must go through every day. If he had any hope left that he could be a pro, it just vanished.
"I was…" Izuku sighs, "just being stupid. You're right, I should be more careful. After all, you can't rely on quirks for everything. Thanks again, for the help, Eraserhead. I'll just, um, be going, then."
Izuku braces his torso with his arm as he stands up and heads to the door that leads downstairs. He knows he regretted it in the moment, but now that he has time to think, maybe it would've been best if Eraserhead hadn't stopped him. After all, it isn't like anything's going to change. Kacchan is still going to pick on him, his mother will still worry, and he'll still be quirkless.
He's almost to the door when a hand on his shoulder stops him. Izuku turns around to see Eraserhead frowning with his eyes closed. They're probably always dry, from having to keep them open all the time.
"Idiot. I figured my scarf probably jerked you too hard, but I didn't think you'd lie about it."
Izuku stammers, "I wasn't really lying, I just didn't want you to worry, especially after you saved me. And really, they don't hurt that bad, just a little sore is all. I just need rest and they'll be fine."
"Don't be an even bigger idiot," Eraserhead sighs. "If it's your ribs, they might need pins. Take your jacket off so I can look at them."
Izuku would normally jump at the opportunity to be able to spend so much time with a pro hero like this, but he's emotionally raw from recent events and just wants to go home. Eraserhead did just save his life, though, and he doesn't want to be rude.
Izuku manages to unbutton his black uniform jacket by himself but quickly finds that he doesn't have the mobility needed to roll his arms out of the sleeves. The hero notices and kneels to help him silently, red dusting the younger boy's face alongside his freckles. How pathetic.
Eraserhead probes his chest over top of his shirt. When one rib gives way to the pressure and Izuku cries out, they have the answer they're looking for.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Izuku watches as Eraserhead unravels his scarf from around his neck, instead using it to bind Izuku's injury. It's not tight, but it's rigid and keeps him from moving too much. Izuku finds the pressure soothing. "Let's go," Eraserhead says as he stands back up and turns away.
"Wait!" Izuku calls out, rushing to catch up to him. "Where are we going?"
The hero doesn't turn to face him when he answers. "Where do you think? To a doctor, you need a proper wrap and I need my scarf back."
Izuku doesn't take the cold tone personally. After all, the man probably has a lot of stuff to do. So, he follows behind him quietly, intent on making their excursion as short as possible. This social interaction is becoming exhausting and he doesn't want to be a burden anymore than he already has.
They get into a taxi instead of walking, probably so his rib doesn't move any more than necessary. To his surprise, they pass the general hospital. "I thought you said we were going to a doctor?"
Eraserhead nods. "We are, but I have a friend at work with a healing quirk that will cut your recovery time by more than half."
"Oh, okay." Izuku isn't sure if he wants someone to use their quirk on him, but he's willing to do anything if it means his mom doesn't find out about what he'd done. Well, tried to do. The rest of the ride is silent.
When the cab pulls onto U.A.'s campus, Izuku is astonished. U.A. is the top high school for training future pro heroes. He's been meaning to sign up for a tour for a while, but he hasn't been able to muster up the courage. He doesn't think he's going to at all, now.
They step out of the car and Izuku watches Eraserhead scan a keycard before the gate opens. As they're walking, they pass several pro heroes and Izuku feels like he's going to pass out. Not only are there pro heroes, but he recognizes several students from previous sports festivals the high school hosts in order to match their students with hero agencies. There are so many big shots here, so much potential in one place.
Izuku's heart swells for a moment in excitement, until the pit that formed in his stomach when he made the decision to step off the roof grows. Not even a year ago, he would've died from happiness just by being here, but now, he feels like that pit is going to consume him. He can't bear the smiles of all these people, it just reminds Izuku that this will never be his life.
He's never going to have a quirk. He's never going to pass the entrance exam without a quirk, nor will he be a student. He won't have training regimens or tests. He won't be surrounded by classmates, or comrades in arms, or even friends that share his passion for helping people, for making a difference.
He probably won't even make it to high school.
They finally stop outside what looks like an infirmary. Izuku follows Eraserhead inside and sees a young man in a white coat sitting at a desk by the window. The room is filled with several beds and medical equipment, yet it doesn't feel like a hospital or doctor's office. It feels warm.
"Where's Recovery Girl?"
The man looks up and frowns. "There was a building collapse in Hosu this morning, so she's there attending to the injured."
Eraserhead nearly growls in frustration. "That's just great."
"Is there something I can help you with instead?"
The hero gestures towards Izuku. "He's got a broken rib. I bound them with my scarf, but that's not exactly feasible."
He nods in understanding. "Of course, I'm Dr. Himura. If you would hop up on a bed so I can take a look. Do you need assistance?" Izuku shakes his head and sits on the bed. Once settled, Eraserhead reclaims his scarf by unwinding it. "Can you get this shirt off? If not, I'm afraid I'll have to cut it." Himura tells him
Izuku knows the answer to that question without having to attempt it. "That's okay," he says. "I have more at home."
The doctor nods and pulls out a pair of scissors from a nearby drawer. While snipping off the fabric, he goes through a series of questions. "What's your name? How old are you? How did this happen, what where you doing? Any pain or difficulty breathing?"
"Midoriya Izuku. Fourteen. I fell and Eraserhead caught me with his scarf. No difficulty breathing. Slight discomfort."
Himura is much gentler with his probing than Eraserhead was. He doesn't apply pressure so much as he gently taps. He can tell which one of the two is a medical professional. "There's definitely injury, but we won't know more until we get an x-ray. Putting any kind of pressure on this type of injury, especially if the rib is broken, is dangerous. It can pierce a lung, rupture blood vessels, or even pierce your liver."
He pulls out a tablet seemingly from nowhere and taps the screen a few times. "Alright, I've ordered one, we can go take it in ten minutes or so. Who should we contact?"
Izuku's blood freezes as his mother comes to mind. Eraserhead might not see Izuku's decision for what it was, but his mother would. She's spent the past fourteen years dealing with his downward spiral, after all. "N-no, that's okay. I can… I can call them myself… later."
Himura hesitates and Izuku can feel Eraserhead looking at him from where he's perched himself on another bed. Neither of them says anything. "Alright then. And I forgot to ask earlier, but what's your quirk?"
Izuku doesn't know what comes over him. The answer is simple – he doesn't have one – but he had already hinted to Eraserhead that he has one, and to deny it now would only draw even more suspicion to himself. His favorite hero, All Might, is what pops into his head.
The second the words are out of his mouth, he knows he's fucked up. Wow, he did not think that through at all. He can feel two pairs of eyes roaming up and down his figure. They no doubt realize that he doesn't have a single fiber of muscle in his whole body. Not only that, but someone with a strength quirk wouldn't break their rib after being jerked by fabric.
It's an obvious lie, one they're surely going to comment on. Then, not only will he have to admit he doesn't have one, he now has to admit to lying about it. God, he's so pathetic. Why did he ever think he could be a hero? His chest tightens and it's not because of his ribs. His eyes burn and his breath hitches.
Izuku is going to sob.
This is too much – too much. He wants the ground to swallow him whole. He wishes Eraserhead never became a hero, then he would never have gotten that stupid scarf and never have felt the need to stop Izuku. But it's not the hero's fault, it's Izuku's. He wouldn't be in this mess if he could just kill himself right. He's so pathetic. He can't even do that right. How is he going to face his mother? How could he ever look Kacchan in the eyes again after this?
He won't. Look Kacchan in the eyes, that is. Izuku grounds his resolve. The second he's out of here, he's trying again. Probably something less public, if the past couple hours of his life are anything to go by. He doesn't want anything too painful, otherwise, he'll chicken out. He also doesn't want anything too violent, he doesn't want to upset his mother any more than necessary, nor does he want her to be the one to find him. So, that rules out anything at home. Maybe he can find a secluded room at school somewhere, or—
"Okay. We can probably head down now, Midoriya."
"Your chest x-rays," Himura reminds.
Izuku hops off the bed and the doctor hands him a towel. "I don't know if you want this or not, but I thought I'd offer so you wouldn't have to walk down the hall shirtless."
"Yeah, thanks." Izuku takes it from him and wraps it around his shoulders.
Eraserhead stands up with him, hands in his pockets and scarf wrapped around his neck again. "I have to get back to work, but I'll be back to check on you later." He leaves the room without waiting for an answer.
Following the hero's lead, Himura shows Izuku out of the room and down the hall. He's immediately reminded of the x-ray done on his foot when he was a kid to prove he was quirkless. The ever-growing pit in his stomach picks up its pace of trying to consume him whole. So far, Izuku thinks it's doing a pretty good job.
"Okay, do you have any metal inside your torso already? Pins or anything else of that nature?" Himura asks. Izuku shakes his head.
"Okay, then if you'll step over here. I'm going to put this apron on over your waist, it's going to be a bit heavy. There we go." Himura leaves him in front of the machine so he can work it. "Alright, we'll take pictures from a few different angles. Take as deep of a breath as you can and hold it, even if it hurts a little, and hold still… okay, now turn to your right… great, now your left… and we're done."
Himura makes quick work of taking the apron off Izuku and giving him back his towel. He hits a few buttons on the machine and on the tablet he brought with them before leading him back to the infirmary. Izuku settles back in the bed as the doctor steps out for a moment. When he comes back, he's holding a light blue bag and another towel.
"I know it's not going to be pleasant, but your chest is going to start swelling if it hasn't already. Would you mind laying down for me?" Izuku does as he's asked. Himura lays the towel he brought with him over his chest. He shakes the blue bag in his hand a couple of times before laying it on top of the towel. The chill he feels isn't painful, but he wouldn't call it comfortable either.
"The cold will help reduce the swelling, as well as a very minimal numbing agent. Even if it's not broken, I want you to ice your chest for 20 minutes every two hours for the next several days. I'm going to go work on the x-ray, it'll be a while. Why don't you call whoever it is you need to? I have a feeling that you have at least fractured a rib, if not broken one. We have plenty of room, and you don't have to worry about any medical expenses since this is a school, not a hospital. You can stay as long as you need - few hours or a couple days, whenever you feel better."
"Thank you, Dr. Himura," Izuku says, even though he doesn't feel very grateful. He just wants to be alone.
Himura nods and smiles gently. "Of course, Midoriya. I hope you feel better."
The doctor steps out of the room and Izuku sighs in relief. His gaze falls on the phone next to his bed. He wasn't planning on telling his mother anything, but if he's going to be here overnight – which it looks like he will be – then he needs to tell her something or she's going to worry. He doesn't want to tell her what happened, though, because then she'll know, and he doesn't want to see the pain in her eyes or hear the tremble in her voice when she realizes what he had tried to do.
So, lie it is. He can do that. Maybe. The problem is that there's nothing that he can think of that would warrant him being gone all night. It's not like he has any friends that he would spend the night with. He can try something school-related, but it's so last minute and he doesn't know what it would be.
Izuku pulls the ice and towel off his chest as he sits up. He reaches over with a trembling hand and picks up the phone. He can hear the dial tone loud and clear, but it takes him a few minutes to actually dial his mother's number.
It rings once, twice, "Hello?"
"M-Mom? It's Izuku."
He can hear shuffling on the other side of the phone. No doubt she's switching her cell phone to her shoulder to free up her hands. She's probably cooking dinner. "Hey Izuku! I don't recognize this number, where is your phone?"
Izuku didn't bring anything with him up to the roof, he didn't want to risk seeing anything that would change his mind. "Oh, I left it at home."
"Oh, Honey, you can be so careless sometimes. I was thinking about—"
Izuku's attention is dragged away from his mother when the door opens. He expects to see the doctor but is surprised when a husk of a man walks in. The man looks like nothing more than skin on a skeleton and his yellow suit is about four sizes too big for him. He has yellow hair that is wild and untamed, yet his blue eyes are piercing.
The man looks around the room, probably looking for the same Recovery Girl that Eraserhead was. His gaze moves to the empty desk and then to Izuku. Izuku feels bare under the man's gaze and not just because he doesn't have a shirt on. The man continues to stare at him for another minute or so before he sighs and sits on one of the beds across from him.
"What do you think Izuku?... Izuku?"
"Yeah, Mom, sorry, I, um…" The man is still scrutinizing him from across the room. It's distracting. "I won't be home tonight."
"Oh, really? How come?"
Izuku can't look at anybody when he lies, so he breaks eye contact with the skeleton and instead focuses on the bag of ice in his lap. "I completely forgot about a project that's due Friday, so I'm going to stay at my partner's house tonight so we can finish it."
"Friday's in two days! First your phone and now this project, you're never this forgetful. Is everything okay, dear?"
Izuku bites his lip and squeezes the sheets of the bed. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Izuku sighs. "Promise."
They quickly say goodbye after that. His mother asks him to send her his partner's information in case anything happens. Izuku agrees even though he will do no such thing because no such partner exists. He hangs up the phone.
Now with that chore out of the way, Izuku lays back down in bed and replaces the towel and ice over his chest. It's starting to ache now, but it's not painful yet. He closes his eyes and tries to relax since he'll be sleeping here tonight, but he can still feel the other man staring at him. Silence fills the room except for the sounds of their breathing and the occasional cough of the man across the room.
"Young man," the other says. His voice is gravelly. Izuku doesn't want to talk to him. He just wants some peace and quiet, so he ignores him.
Except he can't. "Yes?"
"This may be none of my business," the man begins. Izuku opens his eyes to look at him. "But why did you tell your mother you were with a classmate? Aren't you hurt?"
He's right, it is none of his business. Izuku ignores the first question. "Yeah. Dr. Himura and Eraserhead both think I broke a rib."
"Whose class are you in?"
"Oh, I'm not a student here."
The man's eyes widen. "If you're not a student then why—" A knock at the door cuts him off. Himura steps in with a folder in his hand. His gaze sweeps the room and his eyes land on the other man.
"I didn't realize we had another guest. What can I do for you?"
The man waves his hands. "Don't worry about me. I'm waiting on Recovery Girl to get back."
Himura nods and turns his attention to Izuku. "Your x-rays are done. Are you alright with looking at them here?" Izuku nods. He pulls several large sheets out of the envelope and hangs them on a special light on the wall. Himura flips it on and images of Izuku's chest are lit up.
"As you can see here," Himura says as he points to a specific rib. Izuku can see the crookedness of it, as well as the break. "You definitely have a broken rib on your right side. You also have two hairline fractures here on your left." When he points this time, Izuku can't see anything.
"For someone with a strength quirk, it's surprising that Eraserhead's scarf did that much damage. Regardless, you're pretty lucky. If you had broken one of these ribs instead, I would've recommended you go to the hospital and have surgery to pin them together, otherwise, they could've pierced your lung. How's your pain right now?"
"It's starting to get worse, but I can handle it."
Himura nods. "Alright. If it gets to be too much, just let me know and I'll give you some medicine for it."
Now that their conversation is over, Himura returns to his desk. Izuku looks back over, not surprised that the other man is still staring at him. Izuku waits, but he doesn't say anything. Whatever is on his mind, now that Himura is back, he remains silent. The room returns to the quiet from earlier with the additional sound of Himura writing.
Eraserhead returns an hour later. He doesn't pay any attention to Himura or the other man. Instead, he makes his way straight towards Izuku's bed.
"What's the verdict?" he asks.
Izuku feels like he hasn't been the center of this much attention since, well, ever. "One is broken and two are fractured."
Eraserhead sighs, "Sounds about right." There's an awkward stretch of silence before he speaks again. "I'm sorry." The hero is looking at the ground.
Izuku's eyes widen. "Sorry for what?"
"For startling you. You probably wouldn't have fell if I hadn't. I also could've grabbed a leg instead or your waist. Either way, you got hurt because of my actions. The least I can do is make sure your injury is attended to."
He's right, it is his fault. If Eraserhead hadn't grabbed him, he wouldn't be dealing with this right now. Sure, he would've had regrets, but what difference would it have made in the end? You wouldn't choose the path Izuku had if your life was perfect. But he can't put that kind of blame on Eraserhead, or Kacchan, for that matter. Eraserhead was just doing his job and Kacchan is just a kid. No different than he is. It's not Kacchan's fault that he doesn't have a quirk, nor is it his friend's fault that society as a whole mocks him for it.
"Don't apologize. You were just doing your job. I probably would've gotten more hurt if you hadn't stepped in. Thank you." The words burn in the back of his throat.
Eraserhead seems content with his answer and leaves a few minutes later, shortly followed by Himura. Izuku removes the ice from his chest once the condensation on the bag leaves the towel under it soaking wet. The sun sets outside. Izuku settles into his bed. By now, there's a distinct pain in his torso, a slow but steady throb that comes and goes.
When it's completely dark, Izuku feels a pang of loneliness. The room is cold and quiet. The crisp sheets of the bed only serve to remind Izuku that he's not at home. The pain in his chest reminds him of what he tried to do – of what he still needs to do. But these thoughts aren't new. Loneliness has become a frequent companion at night, especially when his mother is working late.
"Are you asleep yet, young man?"
Although the man had been annoying earlier, Izuku welcomes the distraction. "Midoriya. Midoriya Izuku."
That must not have been what the other man was expecting. "Oh… Yagi Toshinori."
"Yagi, do you… do you think…" Izuku has to stop to take in a breath. His eyes are burning again, but in the dark, he lets the tears flow freely. He doesn't know what he's trying to ask or why. He knows what the answer will be, all the same. "Do you think that someone without a quirk can become a hero?"
There's a moment of silence. "Without a quirk?... Some of the villains out there are just too powerful. So no, honestly, I don't think anyone could become a hero if they don't have a quirk. They could always try other professions to help, like a police officer or firefighter or even a doctor. It's okay for someone to have dreams… they just have to make sure those dreams are attainable, reasonable."
Izuku doesn't know why he thought Yagi's answer would be any different, but for some reason, it feels like the final nail in the coffin.
"Yes, of course."