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Mother Hen

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“Now, one last thing before I wrap up announcements,” Aizawa says.  “As I’m sure some of you already know, there’s a particularly nasty strain of the common cold going around campus.  General Studies has had its fair share of casualties, and several students in class 2-B have already fallen ill.  In light of the upcoming exam season, Recovery Girl wanted me to give you a refresher on the basics of cold and flu prevention.  I would hope that you all have at least some idea of how to take care of your own health seeing as you’re almost adults, but for some reason I have a feeling you’ll find the reminder useful.”  Aizawa’s eyes sweep over the class, taking in what Izuku knows is a pretty sorry-looking bunch of students.  They’re all exhausted from preparing for finals, but there’s really nothing else that can be expected when they go to one of the top hero schools in the country.  Of course everyone is going to be giving it their all. 

“In order to keep from getting sick, all of you need to focus on strengthening and maintaining your immune systems,” Aizawa says.  “That means washing your hands often, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating healthy foods, especially those that contain zinc, potassium, and vitamin C.  And make sure to get plenty of sleep,” he says, his eyes coming to rest on Izuku.  “If you’re exhausted from constant studying and training, this cold will knock you down faster than a villain with a dizziness quirk.” 

Izuku forces himself not to shift guiltily in his seat.  Aizawa probably isn’t actually staring at him, and even if he is, it’s not like he knows that Izuku has gotten a combined ten hours of sleep over the past four nights.  Izuku is holding himself together with caffeine and willpower at this point, but with exams around the corner, it isn’t like he has any other choice.  His class rank will impact the internship options he has available when he returns from break – he can’t afford to give his studies anything less than one hundred percent, even if a nasty super-cold is running rampant. 

There are a few disjointed mutterings throughout the classroom once Aizawa wraps up his public service announcement.  “Man, I hope I don’t come down with it,” Kirishima says on the edge of Izuku’s hearing range.  “I was sparring with Tetsutetsu last weekend and apparently he’s got it pretty bad.” 

“I definitely noticed some students coughing during lunch yesterday,” Sero replies, sounding nervous.  “I can’t afford to get sick!  My grades are bad enough without adding illness into the mix!” 

“What about you, Bakugou?” Kaminari calls across the classroom. 

“Please,” Kacchan snorts.  “If that cold tries to weasel its way in here, I’ll kick its ass.” 

Uraraka gets out of her seat and walks over to his desk.  “You should make sure you take good care of yourself, Deku!” she says, smiling at him. 

“What – of course I’ll take care of myself!” Izuku yelps.  “I’ll make sure I stay in tip-top shape.” 

“She’s got a point, man,” Kirishima says, shrugging.  “You do tend to overdo it.” 

Izuku feels himself blushing, and is trying to come up with a clever response when his phone buzzes in his pocket, distracting him.  He pulls it out and sees it’s a text message from Shouto. 

Shoucchan: Did you get any sleep last night, Izuku?

Izuku turns scarlet and buries his head in his arms.  He can feel his boyfriend’s stare on his back, and he doesn’t dare turn around – one look into his eyes and Shouto will instantly be able to tell that Izuku spent two hours passed out on top of his General Heroics textbook and didn’t actually climb into bed at all last night.  Although, he realizes a second too late, burying his head in his arms and avoiding eye contact is also a pretty good hint as to the answer to Shouto’s question. 

His phone buzzes again. 

Shoucchan: I thought so. 

Shoucchan: Please sleep tonight.  I worry. 

Izuku gnaws his bottom lip, feeling guilty.  Shouto can be a bit overbearing sometimes, but it isn’t like Izuku’s ever given him a shortage of reasons to worry.

He raises his head and looks over his shoulder.  Shouto is watching him, the faintest tinge of concern coloring his otherwise-neutral expression. 

Izuku can’t help but smile in return.  The fretting is just one way his boyfriend shows that he cares.  It’s sweet, even though Izuku wishes he could go back to Shouto’s desk and use his thumb to smooth the faint worry lines off his brow. 

Instead, he gives Shouto a thumbs-up.  Maybe he will get some extra sleep tonight.  He needs it, and if it will make his boyfriend feel at ease, so much the better. 

The next morning, the blaring of Izuku’s alarm yanks him out of a dead sleep with the grace and dignity of a water-skier being dragged facedown behind a boat. 

Izuku fumbles for his alarm with a pathetic whimper and manages to shut it off.  He shakes his head to clear the lingering ringing in his ears and sits up groggily. 

The sunlight streaming through his window quickly makes it clear to him that something is very wrong. 

Izuku’s jaw drops when he checks his phone.  It’s nearly an hour later than when he usually wakes up.  His alarm had been blaring like that for nearly an hour when it had finally pierced whatever fog he’d been lying in. 

He forces himself out of bed on wobbly legs and changes into his school uniform as fast as he can manage.  He’s slept through breakfast, and he probably won’t make it to homeroom, but if he hurries he can still make it to All Might’s class on time. 

He snags a package of peanut butter snack crackers from his emergency stash and rips them open on the way to the elevator; he’s got to eat something before a practical lesson, even if it isn’t particularly healthy or filling.  When he starts eating, he almost wishes he hadn’t.  Swallowing takes a bit more effort than he’s expecting, and he winces as the cracker scratches at his throat on the way down.  

Taking a deep breath, he keeps eating anyway.  He’d kept the promise he made to Shouto and himself and gotten a decent night’s sleep last night – seven hours, even though he’d only planned for six.  He’s going to do his best to take better care of his body during exams, and that means eating when he’s supposed to, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable. 

In all likelihood, he’s just dehydrated and that’s why the dry food is bothering him so much.  Izuku resolves to drink several full water bottles today, remembering Aizawa’s lecture on boosting the immune system.  Staying hydrated will help keep him from getting sick, he tells himself. 

He arrives at the lockers a bit out of breath, but in time to change into his workout clothes along with the rest of his classmates.  “Where were you during homeroom, Midoriya?” Iida asks as he pulls on his shirt. 

“I was asleep,” Izuku says, feeling a bit embarrassed.  “I somehow managed to sleep through my alarm.” 

“Hmm,” Iida says.  “Well, as much as I would like to chastise you for skipping homeroom, it seems you had a very good reason to do so!  You’ve been neglecting your sleep.” 

Izuku rubs the back of his neck.  “I’m going to try and do better, I promise!  It’s just hard with exams coming up – I’ve been spending so much time studying.” 

As they’re leaving the changing rooms, Izuku catches sight of Shouto and jogs to his side.  “I got seven hours of sleep,” he announces.

Shouto glances at him, and his mouth turns up at the corners.  “Good,” he says simply, nudging his shoulder briefly against Izuku’s.  “I was worried you were pushing yourself too hard.” 

If not for the temperature outside, Izuku suspects he’d be blushing.  “You and the rest of the class,” he sighs good-naturedly.  “Who knew the hero program was so good at churning out mother hens?” 

Shouto arches an eyebrow at him.  “We only mother-hen you because you make it so easy,” he teases, and in spite of the weather the fondness in his eyes makes Izuku feels warm. 

It had taken the two of them a while to get to where they were.  Izuku had noticed his less-than-platonic feelings for his friend during the second half of their first year, and at first he’d panicked.  He’d gone out of his way to hide his crush, assuming there was no way it could possibly be reciprocated. 

Later on, it turned out that Shouto had been doing the same thing.  It took the combined meddling of Uraraka, Yaoyorozu and Kirishima, an oddly cutthroat summer festival, half the class of 1-B, and a well-timed water balloon fight to finally trick the two of them into confessing their feelings.  They’d been dating ever since, even if it had taken some time for the two of them to figure out exactly what that meant for them.  Izuku had never been in a relationship before, and Shouto had eventually admitted to Izuku that he was the only crush he’d ever had. 

He’d then promptly burst into flames a second later.  Shouto is adorable when flustered, but he’s also highly combustible. 

A sudden breeze distracts Izuku from his memories, and he shivers.  Without a word, Shouto switches sides with him so that he’s walking on Izuku’s right, and leans against him.  Izuku sighs in contentment as his boyfriend’s quirk chases away the lingering cold. 

He wishes he could stay cuddled up against Shouto during the lesson, but that would probably be distracting – and the last thing he wants is for All Might to see him cuddling with his boyfriend.  All Might had caught the two of them kissing in the hallway after class once, and while Shouto had been less bothered by it than Izuku had expected, Izuku had wanted to keel over from embarrassment. 

When he steps away from Shouto, the cold hits him like a train.  He bites his lip and fights to keep from shivering, wishing that he had a few extra layers to put on.  Exercising will probably help, but until he gets moving it’s going to be all he can do to stop his teeth from chattering in the middle of All Might’s introductory lecture. 

The lesson today is going to be on group fighting and collaboration.  “While fighting one-on-one or with a partner is common during the course of your everyday hero work, not every battle can be won this way!” All Might announces.  Izuku smiles despite his shivering; All Might seems to be doing well today.  He’s clearly in high spirits, even if he is wrapped in multiple layers to protect his frail form from the cold.  “Coordinating with multiple heroes is a critical skill, especially in operations against groups of villains,” All Might continues.  “Today, you’ll be working in groups of five to navigate this large maze,” he says, gesturing to the domed arena behind him.  “Cementoss put it together for the purposes of this exercise, so it’s never been used before!  Both teams will be aiming to reach the target at the center of the maze, and will need to coordinate with each other in order to find their way through the labyrinth.  You’ll be given special headsets to facilitate communication if you decide to split your group.  The first team to reach the center of the labyrinth and claim the target will be the winner of the round!” 

Izuku stands up straighter at the description of the exercise.  It sounds eerily familiar to the joint attack on the Eightfold Cleansers’ base of operations last year, and from a quick glance around the classroom, he isn’t the only one who’s noticed.  Kirishima, Uraraka, and Tsuyu all look more sober than usual, and Izuku guesses that they, like him, are thinking about everything that had happened when they’d attacked the underground compound. 

The familiarity of the scenario makes Izuku even more determined to give it his all.  The more he’s able to learn here and now, the better prepared he’ll be the next time he finds himself in a similar situation. 

Izuku struggles not to shiver too much during warm-ups, but manages to keep it together long enough to get through the usual exercises.  He pulls his windbreaker tighter around him as All Might divides them into teams, directing his attention to analyzing the patterns of who gets paired with who in order to distract himself from his discomfort. 

At first the assignment looks random, but Izuku is pleased to notice that All Might seems to be deliberately splitting them into groups with a mixture of close-range, mid-range, and long-range fighters.  He’s also taking interpersonal relationships into consideration; Kirishima and Kacchan are paired together, but Aoyama is pulled in as their long-range support instead of Sero, who the two of them would probably have preferred to work with.  It’s a balanced approach that Izuku appreciates, especially once he starts thinking about how their group choice will impact the realism of the simulation.  In actual planned missions, heroes generally chose to work with people they knew when it was an option – but this time it’s not a good idea to form groups consisting of nothing but friends since the purpose of the training exercise is to simulate working with relative strangers

Izuku’s team consists of himself, Hagakure, Shoji, Tokoyami, and to his pleasant surprise, Shouto.  It’s a good group, with a balance of strong offensive quirks and useful reconnaissance abilities.  They’re a bit lacking in defense, except for Shouto’s ice and Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow, but if they can use Shouji’s senses to stay vigilant on the whereabouts of their opponents-

Izuku only realizes he’s been speaking aloud when he goes to draw in a breath through his mouth instead of his nose.  The cold, dry air grips his lungs like a vise, and he coughs. 

All Might turns his head toward the sound.  “Young Midoriya, are you alright?” 

“I’m fine!” Izuku says, hoping frantically that he won’t cough again.  Now that he’s done it once, the urge to continue coughing is making itself known in the form of a steady, persistent tickle in his chest.  He takes a slow, deep breath through his nose and is relieved when the sensation subsides.  “It’s just the cold air,” he says, and is relieved when All Might turns away with a nod.

Shouto is still watching him, his expression faintly concerned, and Izuku hopes that his answering smile does a good job of concealing his anxiety.  Between his exhaustion this morning, his scratchy throat, his shivering, and now this cough… Taken together, these sudden symptoms aren’t looking good for him. 

Once he makes it through this exercise, he decides, he’ll go visit Recovery Girl and get her to take a look at him.  Hopefully she’ll give him a clean bill of health, but if he does have the super-cold, it would be better to know. 

The adrenaline from the match is enough to power him through the worst of his worried ruminations.  They’re up against a strong team – Ashido, Tsuyu, Kaminari, Sero, and Shinsou.  Tsuyu is as agile as Izuku is, and Ashido and Kaminari have done well at countering Shouto’s ice in the past.  Fighting against them will provide plenty of interesting opportunities for his own team to strategize, and Izuku is looking forward to seeing how all of their quirks combine in the field.  Privately, Izuku can’t help but be curious about how Shinsou’s quirk will help his team in this match.  Obviously Izuku is going to have to be careful to avoid speaking to him directly, but would it be possible for him to brainwash his own teammates if they answer a question of his over their comms?   

Regardless of how the match plays out, Izuku is looking forward to what he’ll learn by challenging them directly. 

Instead of sticking close together, their opponents scatter as soon as the match begins.  Izuku narrows his eyes as he watches Kaminari’s retreating figure vanish into one of the far tunnels.  With their headsets, coordinating won’t prove too much of an issue – are they planning to divide and conquer?  “We should do reconnaissance,” he says.  “If we split up, we’ll be able to cover twice as much ground while we look for the center of the maze.  And with Shoji keeping track of everyone’s positions, we’re less likely to lose contact with each other than the other team.” 

Shouto nods.  “We should divide ourselves to give Hagakure and Shoji enough long-range support.” 

Hagakure’s wristband raises into the air.  “If it’s all the same, I’ll take Tokoyami,” she says.  “Dark Shadow has never seemed to have a problem keeping track of me before.” 

“Dark Shadow has excellent eyesight,” Tokoyami admits, looking pleased at the praise directed toward his companion.  “And he tells me he can also smell your shampoo as well.” 

Shouto blinks.  “Dark Shadow… has a good sense of smell.” 

“I do have really strong-smelling shampoo,” Hagakure admits.  “It’s strawberry-scented!”

“But do birds even have good senses of smell?” Shoji asks.  “I thought they hunted by sight.” 

“It depends on the bird!” Izuku says, relieved by the appearance of a topic he can infodump about to distract himself from his lingering worries about the state of his health.  “Vultures have fantastic senses of smell – the turkey vulture can actually detect the scent of carrion from over a mile away!”  Belatedly, he realizes that the others are staring at him, and he can’t help backpedaling.  “Not that Dark Shadow is a vulture, and I’m sure your hair smells really nice, Hagakure-”

“Izuku,” Shouto says, a faint glimmer of laughter in his eyes, and Izuku clamps his jaw shut, feeling his face turn red.  “Will you be joining Hagakure or Shoji?”

His boyfriend’s question conveniently omits the third option Izuku had been considering – going off by himself and scouting for leads and opponents directly, or serving as one hell of a distraction if he ends up running into more than one person.  Izuku grimaces, wondering if Shouto had read his mind or something.  “I’ll go with Hagakure.  They have Kaminari on their team, and Dark Shadow doesn’t do well in bright lights,” he says, and he’s rewarded when he sees Shouto’s shoulders relax fractionally. 

They head off in different directions after discussing the best way to maintain radio contact, eager to narrow the gap between themselves and the other team.  Stopping to talk strategy means they’re behind the others, but they’re in a better position to act now that they’ve taken a few minutes to coordinate. 

Of course, since they’re behind, it means they need to run in order to catch up.  The tickling sensation in his chest isn’t as bad now that they’re out of the wind, but the air inside the dome is still cold, and Izuku’s chest is beginning to ache with the strain of not coughing.  Only the brief pauses they’ve taken to coordinate with Shouto’s group have allowed him to keep pace with Tokoyami and Hagakure.

During one of these lulls, Izuku’s ears catch the sound of approaching footsteps.  “Someone’s coming,” he warns.  “It could be our people, but it could also be the other team.” 

“I’ll go and check,” Hagakure announces, and promptly begins removing her clothes.  Izuku has been Hagakure’s classmate for the better part of two years, but the sight of a shirt and pants apparently removing themselves and fluttering to the ground is still a bit disconcerting.  Tokoyami has turned away, although Dark Shadow appears to be trying to look over his shoulder.

Silence falls once Hagakure presumably disappears around the corner, but before long the exercise pants lift off the ground.  “It’s Kaminari and Shinsou,” she whispers as she pulls on her shirt.  “I don’t think they know we’re here, so we have the element of surprise.” 

Of course, now that he has a confirmed reason that he needs to be silent, Izuku’s chest starts tickling harder.  He squishes down the urge to cough, beginning to feel slightly panicked. 

If Tokoyami notices anything odd about Izuku’s uncharacteristic silence in the face of a situation that requires joint strategizing, he doesn’t say anything.  He’s busy corralling Dark Shadow and preparing a defense for Hagakure, who is still pulling on her socks and shoes and is thus a lot less mobile than she usually is. 

Of course, since Kaminari is with Shinsou, Izuku is going to have to help.  Kaminari’s lightning is the main weakness Dark Shadow has, and if Izuku can’t defend his teammates against it, there’s no point to him being here at all.  He can’t call up Full Cowl yet – the green lightning it produces will be an instant giveaway for their position – but he holds it at the ready so that he can spring into action the minute Kaminari and Shinsou round the corner. 

When Kaminari emerges, his eyes widen at the sight of them.  “Crap – Shinsou, they’re onto us!” he yelps.  Yellow lightning crackles to life in his hands.  “Evasive action!” 

Izuku leaps for Kaminari, intending to intercept his classmate before he can use his lightning against Dark Shadow, but the sudden sprint leaves him feeling more winded than he had anticipated.  He sucks in a breath of air and is forced to halt mid-charge as his chest seizes up and he doubles over in a fit of coughing.

“What did you do?” Tokoyami shouts at Kaminari.  Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku can see Dark Shadow moving to cover him as well as Hagakure.

“I didn’t do anything!” Kaminari protests.  “He just started coughing like that on his own, I didn’t even touch him!”

By this point Izuku is coughing too hard to do anything but draw shallow breaths.  The oxygen deprivation is beginning to make him feel dizzy and nauseous, and he feels himself drop to one knee as he struggles for air in between coughing fits.

“Let me through,” orders Shinsou, and Izuku sees black shoes enter his field of vision.  He looks up to see Shinsou standing over him, his generally-impassive expression faintly tinged with worry.  “Can you breathe?” he asks, and Izuku shakes his head.  Shinsou’s eyes widen almost imperceptibly.  “Okay. Can you make any noise at all?”

“No,” Izuku manages to wheeze, and then all of a sudden his senses are enveloped in a soft gray haze.  It’s a familiar feeling, but he isn’t sure why – the reason dances at the corner of his consciousness, tantalizingly out of reach.

“Stop coughing,” orders a voice, and Izuku immediately feels the vice grip on his chest loosen.  “Now take a deep breath, slowly, and let it out again, slowly.  Keep doing that until I tell you to stop.”

Izuku breathes, and the fresh air cuts through some of the fog in his head.  That was Shinsou’s voice, Izuku realizes.  He must have used his quirk on me when I answered his question.

A hand touches his forehead.  “He’s got a fever,” Shinsou says.  “He’s burning up.  He should never have come to class in this condition.”

“You mean he’s sick?” Kaminari yelps.  “What if he’s infected all of us?  There’s not a lot of air circulation in these tunnels!  We’ve been breathing in his germs all morning!”

“We can worry about that later,” says Tokoyami.  “Right now, we need to get Midoriya out of here and to the nurse’s office.  We should radio our teammates and let them know what’s happened, so they can meet us at the entrance.  Dark Shadow can carry Midoriya.  Shinsou, can you keep suppressing his cough?”

“I can for a while longer,” Shinsou says.  “Coughing isn’t an entirely voluntary action.  Some of it is reflex, and I can only control what people do voluntarily.  If he starts coughing again, the jolt will be enough to break him out of my control altogether.”

“Then we should move quickly,” Tokoyami says.

Through the fog, Izuku feels large hands gently lifting him off the ground.  “Don’t struggle,” Shinsou orders, and Izuku’s arms and legs immediately go limp.  If he weren’t so dazed and tired, Izuku would probably feel a bit humiliated at having to be carried out of the tunnels, but as it was, he’s just relieved.  His relief grows when he hears Shouto’s voice in the distance.  “What happened?” his boyfriend calls.

“He had a coughing fit in the tunnels and collapsed,” Hagakure answers.  “Shinsou used his quirk on him – he was having trouble breathing.”

Izuku feels ice-cold fingers lace through his own and squeeze tightly.  He wishes he could squeeze Shouto’s hand in response, but Shinsou’s quirk is still rendering him immobile.  “I can take him to Recovery Girl,” Shouto says.  “Thank you for what you did, Shinsou.”

“It’s nothing,” Shinsou replies neutrally, and Izuku feels the fog lift from his senses.  He barely manages to keep from gasping in surprise, which is fortunate because it would probably make him start coughing again.

Now that he’s fully aware of his body, he’s surprised by how heavy he feels.  It’s like his limbs are made of lead, and he’s struggling to keep his eyes open; apparently not all of the lethargy he’d felt could be attributed to Shinsou’s brainwashing.

He looks up and sees All Might approaching their group as well.  “Don’t,” he protests, his voice barely a rasp, but Tokoyami must hear him because he warns their sensei against coming closer.  Izuku feels a wave of relief.  He hadn’t even considered the possibility that he might be contagious until Kaminari mentioned it in the tunnels, but if he does have the super-cold, the last thing All Might needs is to catch it from him.  In his frail condition, he’s at risk for potentially dangerous complications.  It’ll be bad enough if Izuku’s classmates get sick – the last thing he needs is for the retired symbol of peace to get walking pneumonia because Izuku had been stupid enough to come to class when he wasn’t healthy.  

Now that he’s not running and generating excess heat, Izuku’s shivering quickly resumes.  Shouto puts his arm around Izuku’s shoulders and pulls him close, and Izuku nearly whimpers in relief when he feels the warmth from Shouto’s quirk begin to soak into his skin.  He’s still shivering, but a heat source is helping – and the way Shouto’s left hand is rubbing Izuku’s arm in small, soothing circles is enough to make up for his continued discomfort. 

“Young Midoriya,” calls All Might.  “I’m excusing you and young Todoroki from the rest of class.  Recovery Girl should be able to excuse you from the rest of your classes.  Worry not about missing lessons – your swift recovery is more important!  A hero must never neglect his health.” 

Izuku ducks his head.  “Yes, All Might!” he responds as loudly as he can manage without coughing.  “I’ll recover as fast as I can!” 

To his relief, Izuku is able to push through enough of his lassitude to manage the walk to Recovery Girl’s office without needing to be carried.  As grateful as he is for Shouto beside him, he’s still uncomfortably aware of the fact that his recklessness and neglect for his own health has turned him into a burden.  “I’m sorry,” he says into the silence. 

Shouto lets out a surprised-sounding hum before turning to look at him.  “What for?” 

“For getting sick,” Izuku mumbles, feeling his face turn red.  “I tried to get more sleep like you said, but I got sick anyway.  And now you’re missing class to take care of me.” 

Shouto’s expression softens, and he lifts his hand to play with the curls of hair on the back of Izuku’s head.  “It’s not your fault.  You’d already been exposed to the virus at some point in the past week, so you were going to develop symptoms.  And the sleep will probably still help.  You might feel worse if you hadn’t rested last night.” 

Izuku bites his lip.  He knows Shouto is trying to make him feel better, but he still can’t help feeling like this entire situation could have been avoided if he’d just been a little bit more careful.  “Yeah, but… if I’d taken better care of myself in the first place, I might not have caught the cold.  I shouldn’t have pushed myself so hard.” 

Shouto shakes his head with a tiny, fond smile.  “You always push yourself.  It’s part of what makes you so admirable,” he says, and Izuku feels himself blush the way he always does when Shouto pays him a compliment.  “I think finding a middle ground might be a good idea, though, once you’re well.” 

Izuku chuckles, fumbling for one of Shouto’s hands until he bumps into one.  It’s his right hand, which feels shockingly cold in his fevered state, but since he can’t talk too much without coughing, he laces their fingers together tightly anyway. 

Shouto squeezes his hand in reply, a faint blush rising in his cheeks. 

They make it to Recovery Girl’s office without any more mishaps.  Between the warmer air inside and the warm arm around his shoulders, Izuku is feeling a lot more comfortable than he had been a few minutes previously.  From the stare Recovery Girl sends him, he suspects that even though he feels a bit better, he still looks like he’s been hit by a truck. 

“Let me guess,” she sighs.  “You woke up this morning with a sore throat and a fever, you’re coughing fit to wake the dead, and you feel so tired you can barely stand.  Does that about sum things up?”

Izuku opens his mouth and closes it again before finding his voice.  “It’s that obvious?”

“You’re the third person I’ve seen this week who had these symptoms,” Recovery Girl says, clucking sympathetically as she walks around her room, gathering supplies.  “Unfortunately, since this is a viral infection, there aren’t any antibiotics I can give you.  If you follow the same path as the others who’ve become ill, you should end up with congestion in your head fairly soon, and in your chest within a few days.  Take expectorants to help clear out your chest, drink plenty of water, and try to limit your cough suppressant intake, if you can.  Coughing is uncomfortable, but it will help clear out your chest.  If you need a rest or are trying to sleep, you can use this,” she says, pushing a small bottle into his hands.  Izuku looks at the label and sees that it’s a bottle of cough syrup.  “Ten milliliters every four hours is the dosage, but it’s written on the bottle in case you forget,” Recovery Girl tells him. 

Izuku nods, frantically trying to catalogue the information that’s pouring his way.  He wishes he had his notebook. 

“You’ll also need to eat three square meals a day, but it’s not a good idea for you to be eating in the main cafeteria with the other students,” Recovery Girl says firmly.  “I’ll arrange for a staff member to bring you meals so that you can get enough to eat without resorting to instant ramen.” 

Izuku’s stomach sinks; deep down he’d known it was coming, but being alone until he gets well is going to be a jarring change from his daily routine.  He’s gotten used to having his friends around, and now when it’s quiet he tends to get lonely.  Still, it’s for the best.  He doesn’t want to get his classmates sick, and he’s already put people at risk by going to class today. 

“There’s no need for that,” Shouto says firmly.  “I was planning to bring him food anyway.  I’ll make sure he gets his meals.” 

Izuku’s jaw drops.  “But what if you get sick?” 

“We shared each other’s lunches the past three days in a row,” Shouto points out.  “If I’m going to get sick, it’s already been predetermined.  Besides, my quirk makes it hard for most illnesses to find a foothold.” 

Izuku nods, conceding the point.  Shouto’s right that he’s been exposed to Izuku’s germs plenty of times – it’s not like they don’t kiss fairly often, either, although he’s glad that Shouto hadn’t mentioned that in front of Recovery Girl.  And besides, he’d much rather convalesce with his boyfriend for company. 

Recovery Girl seems to read his mind, because she looks amused when she continues.  “Well that’s settled, then.  I’ll leave him in your hands, Todoroki.  On the bright side, it’s Thursday, so you’ll only miss two days of class,” she says, redirecting her focus to Izuku.  “You’ll also have the weekend to recover, and on Monday morning I’ll see if you’re well enough to attend class.  But you need to rest during this time.”  She jabs a finger at Izuku for emphasis.  “I don’t want you staying up until all hours, studying for exams.  You need to sleep and not strain yourself.” 

Izuku’s stomach, which had begun to return to its usual position at the news that Shouto would be visiting him while he was sick, immediately plummets again.  “But I have to study!” he protests.  “We only have a couple of weeks left before exams!” 

“If you take it easy, you can do some studying,” Recovery Girl concedes with a sigh.  “But you need to spend the majority of your time resting, or you won’t get well.  If enough students end up sick, it’s also likely that there will be an extra week of testing so that students can make up their exams.” 

Izuku’s shoulders slump and he nods wearily, accepting his fate.  If whatever he’s got is bad enough and widespread enough that Yuuei is considering extending their exams, it must be more serious than he’d originally thought.  “Okay.  I’ll try my best to recover quickly!” 

“Wouldn’t that be a first,” says Recovery Girl fondly.  “Todoroki, why don’t you escort our dear Midoriya back to his room?” 

“Of course,” Shouto says immediately.  He puts his left arm around Izuku’s shoulders again, pulling him close so that their sides are pressed together.  “I’ll keep him warm until his fever breaks.” 

Izuku’s face is on fire, and his embarrassment only deepens when Recovery Girl gives them a knowing smile.  “You’re a very attentive caretaker, young Todoroki.  I’m sure Midoriya there feels very lucky to have you.” 

“Of course!” Izuku stammers.  “Very lucky.”  He’s spared from having to reply further by a small coughing fit; Shouto’s arm tightens around him when his shoulders hunch, preventing him from doubling over like he had back in the maze. 

“Let’s get you to bed,” Shouto says once Izuku has recovered his breath.  Unable to argue with that logic, Izuku allows himself to be steered out of Recovery Girl’s office with a hastily-waved goodbye. 

Shouto is true to his word.  He returns Izuku to his room, and before Izuku can process what’s happening, he’s been bundled into bed.

Normally Izuku would protest that he could take care of himself; he’s never enjoyed feeling like a burden, and he knows he isn’t the best company when he’s sick.  But his head has started throbbing dully, and as he closes his eyes he finds himself listening to the quiet padding of Shouto’s footfalls as his boyfriend moves around the room, closing the blinds and rearranging various things so that they’ll be easier for Izuku to reach without getting up.

“Are you asleep?” Shouto says quietly from beside Izuku’s bed after an indeterminate amount of  time has passed.

“No,” Izuku croaks.  He almost starts coughing again, but is able to resist the urge with effort.  “Head hurts,” he mumbles.  

“Take this.”  Izuku cracks his eyes open and sees that Shouto is offering him a small pill and a glass of water.  “It’s a pain-reliever and a decongestant.  It will help with your sinuses.”

Izuku reaches over and takes the medicine from Shouto’s hand.  “Is it non-drowsy?”

“It is,” Shouto says, his lips twitching.  “But you should sleep regardless.”

Izuku downs the pill and the entire glass of water.  It hurts to drink, but the cold is soothing to his scratchy throat.  “Can I have some more?”

Shouto wordlessly takes the glass from his hand and pours him a refill from a pitcher that’s been set on Izuku’s bedside table.  “Are you cold?” he asks.  “The pain-reliever should do something for your fever, but I can stay with you until it breaks.”

Izuku wants Shouto to stay even longer, but he can’t keep his boyfriend by his side no matter how much he hates being sick.  “You have to go back to class,” he protests.  “Exams are coming up – you can’t fall behind because of me!”

The long speech triggers a coughing fit, and for a minute Izuku finds himself struggling to breathe.  Then, as abruptly as the fit began, it ends.  Izuku takes a breath, barely managing to prevent himself from gasping for air, which probably would have brought on another fit.

Izuku turns to look back at Shouto, then realizes that at some point in the middle of his coughing fit, his boyfriend had crawled into bed with him.  Izuku’s mouth opens and closes as he turns his head to look at Shouto, who has wrapped one arm around him and seems determined to tug Izuku as close to his left side as possible.  “What are you doing?”

“Humid air is good for a cough.  My quirk lets me generate steam effortlessly,” Shouto says solemnly, reaching his arm around Izuku’s shoulders so that he can press his palms together.  A cloud of steam billows up from his hands, and Izuku can’t help it – he smiles.  “Plus I can use my left side to keep you warm.  I’m going to stay – unless you really do want me to go,” he says, his gaze briefly growing uncertain.  “Do you want me to leave?”

“Never,” Izuku says impulsively.  He takes Shouto’s hands in his own, not caring that Shouto has to stop generating steam in order to keep from burning Izuku.  “I know I can be a big baby when I’m sick, and I’m probably going to seem like a horrible patient, but I’m glad you’re here,” he mumbles, blushing.  “You’re so determined to take care of me, even though I brought this on myself by not taking good care of my body.  I guess I just… don’t feel like I deserve it.”

Shouto’s left side heats up as his face turns red, but he doesn’t burst into flames this time.  “To be honest, I’m surprised at myself,” Shouto says, his mismatched eyes meeting Izuku’s.  “But I… like this.  Not you being sick, of course,” he amends hastily, “but being able to take care of you.  You spend so much time and energy helping others that I’m happy I have an opportunity to help you.”

Shouto’s gaze is soft, and Izuku isn’t surprised when he feels his own eyes begin to fill with tears.  He wipes them away – crying will make his headache worse – and burrows into his boyfriend’s shoulder, wrapping his arms around his torso.  “Love you, Shouto,” he mumbles, feeling himself beginning to grow drowsy as the warmth from Shouto’s quirk soothes away the worst of the tremors from his fever.

Shouto is silent, and for a minute Izuku worries that he didn’t hear him.  Then he feels Shouto’s lips press against the top of his head.  “I love you too,” Shouto says.  “Now sleep, and get well.”

Izuku falls asleep to the rhythm of Shouto’s breathing, and thinks that maybe, just this once, being sick might not be so bad after all.