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Midoriya was out on sick leave for a few days, hospitalized after putting his provisional license to good use and bringing down a bad guy with a tornado quirk of all things.

“Only Midoriya would run into a tornado villain on his way back from the convenience store,” Kaminari said dryly, and Eijirou could only agree with him there. Midoriya’s luck was something else.

“Still,” Eijirou says, drawing up a news article on his phone, “he saved three people when the bad guy started throwing cars around. Two of them were little kids. He’s so cool.”

Kaminari had nodded, similarly impressed, and even Bakugo hadn’t done more than scowl silently at his own phone. Midoriya has been present in the group chat, even answers phone calls when there aren’t nurses lurking around his room, but it’s not the same as having him around in class, in the dorms, alongside the rest of them where he belongs.

The day he’s due back at school, the rest of 1-A is thrumming with energy. They can hear Present Mic in the hallway, escorting Midoriya to the last few minutes of homeroom, and Mina starts drumming on her desk.

Uraraka is already halfway to her feet by the time the door rattles open, and Eijirou is opening his mouth around a bright hello, and they’re all about to happily converge upon him one way or another when Iida’s chair scrapes back.

“Cease and desist!” he barks, and it’s his emergency exit voice. Eijirou feels himself freezing in place. He closes his mouth, and Uraraka slowly sinks back into her seat.

Present Mic is the only one who doesn’t look wrong-footed, giving Midoriya a gentle nudge into the room and then taking his place at the front of the room to begin English lessons. Midoriya stammers a thank you, and looks ready to wilt under the weight of their combined stares.

Oh, Eijirou thinks. And then he understands why Iida sets into a long-winded lecture about decorum and a time and place for certain types of behavior, because it gives Midoriya a chance to slip across the room under radar, shooting a smile at Uraraka and Todoroki on his way. Their teacher seems to get it, too, since he waits with a patient grin for Iida to be finished.

Maybe it would have been a little uncool to swamp Midoriya the way they were planning, given how many times he’s proven to do poorly in front of a crowd. Eijirou can’t help feeling like he should know stuff like this by now. They’ve all known each other the same amount of time -- save the handful of them that went to the same middle schools -- and if Iida knows better, the rest of them should, too.

Midoriya hangs back when the lunch bell rings, gathering his books in a ginger way that speaks of lingering soreness, and Eijirou hangs back with him. Iida gives him the fisheye, so he does his best to look as well-meaning as possible on his way to Midoriya’s desk, and it must work because the class president leaves them be.

“Hey,” Eijirou says sheepishly. “How you feelin’, man?”

“I’m fine!” Midoriya replies quickly, waving his hands. “Sorry for the false alarm. I had no idea all of you would be so worried.”

Uh, ouch. “'Course we were worried,” Eijirou blurts, “we saw you on the news, getting loaded into an ambulance! That was the scariest thing ever! I don’t know where you see a false alarm , it’s been real enough for me.”

Midoriya’s expression goes through a complicated number of emotions, and he finally settles on a pale smile, good-humored and only a little self-conscious.

“Thank you, Kirishima,” he says, followed by, “Next time, I’ll know how to handle a quirk like that. I have a long way to go, but I’ll get there!”

Eijirou can’t help grinning, buoyed along by the lively determination in his friend’s voice, and claps him a high-five. “We all will! By the time we graduate, bad guys won’t know what hit ‘em!”

Midoriya laughs, and Eijirou thinks things are finally back on track.

In the cafeteria they find a few free seats waiting for them at the table their classmates have claimed. Maybe they all got scolded by the class president before Eijirou and Midoriya showed up, or maybe they all saw the same thing Eijirou did earlier, because no one mobs Midoriya as he sits down. He’s able to meet their eyes as he answers the calm questions they level him, and when everyone is assured that he’s really okay, really they leave it at that.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Eijirou hears Midoriya say some time later. He almost misses it over the raucous conversation from the rest of the table. If he wasn’t sitting on Midoriya’s other side, he might have. “I- I appreciate it, but it’s -- it, um, surprises me when it’s all at once, that’s all. I’m used to it now, so -- “

“As much as you have accustomed yourself to the way we behave,” Iida replies without missing a beat, “we can accustom ourselves to behaving a little differently to put one of our own more at ease. That seems perfectly reasonable, and by no means is it too much to ask of your friends.” A moment goes by, and Iida adds more softly, “It will never be too much to ask.”

Midoriya looks down at his half-empty tray as if it’s the most interesting thing in the room. Eijirou stares at his own tray with his heart pounding in his ears.

For someone who can stand eye to eye with villains and criminals without flinching, who can throw a punch he knows will break all the bones in his arm without a single second guess -- who stopped a robbery on his way back to the dorms as easily as some people might stop for milk on the way home -- the odd way Midoriya can’t accept any form of kindness without a struggle makes for a weird juxtaposition.

He’s known Midoriya for most of a year, and he’s never thought about any of this until now. Eijirou wonders if that makes him as much a bad friend as Iida seems to be a good one, and feels a little sick.

He decided before coming to Yuuei that he wouldn’t live with any more regrets. No more freezing out of fear, no more leaving it to someone else. If something sitting right in front of him is wrong, he’ll fix it -- or he’ll at least try to. 

If Midoriya needs better from his friends, Eijirou will be better.