Izuku walked down the road and debated the height of his apartment building. It was six stories, so around… thirty-six metres. That would be high enough wouldn’t it?
People had died from smaller heights.
He sighed, ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes as he passed under a bridge. He didn’t want his mother to find him, so maybe the apartment was out. Well, no, it was definitely out, he didn’t- she shouldn’t be the one to discover him, gods no-
Someone slammed into him, and Izuku made a wordless noise of surprise as he went stumbling back, clutching at his aching nose. The person he ran into cursed, and he looked up to see them hunched over, gathering up something that had fallen out of a bag.
He froze when he realised it was scattered bills, ranging from one to ten thousand yen.
“What- what are you doing? Did you s-steal that all?” Of course they did, fucking Deku . He stiffened when the- the criminal? Villain? Looked up, finally noticing the mask and goggles they had covering their face, obscuring any noticeable features.
“Great. Another witness. Sorry kid, but I’ve got shit to pay for.” the voice was muffled, regretful, and Izuku blinked at the contrast before realising this wasn’t the time, braced himself and took notice of the light build baggy clothes exits possible weak spots. He hoisted his bag into his hands, tensed and hoped he wouldn’t end up a statistic although he was already planning to be a different one-
But the criminal darted forward and surprised him by barely touching him, only brushing a hand through his hair even as he slammed his bag into their middle, made them grunt behind their mask. He was confused, wondering what they meant to do until-
Until everything began to scream in agony.
Confusion soreness where is everything why is everything big? Person where tired hmmm big hands warm safe-
Izuku came to warm and cradled, with something subtly off pinging to his senses. He was moving, and someone was talking above him, so loud he could feel the vibrations in his chest. He realised a second later they weren’t loud, not necessarily- he was just so close that he could feel their own chest rumbling as they spoke.
He blinked his eyes open before immediately shutting them tight, whining at the biting wind. Why was it windy? It’d been barely cloudy -
The criminal. How long had he been out?
“Ah, stop squirming so much, Midori-chan! I don’t want to drop you, and we’re almost to the station!” HHUGHGHGH-???
Izuku ogled upwards against the wind and yep, that was definitely All Might hooOOOOOOO WHAT HAPPENED-
He looked down at himself when he squirmed more and it became readily apparent something was not right because-
Those?? Those were paws???
“Midori-chan, please calm down!” All Might held him tighter, not enough to hurt, and Izuku sort of- blue screened, because paws and All Might hWAT until they stopped on a rooftop, the pro hero carefully climbing down the side until they dropped into an alleyway.
Izuku stumbled and sat down hard when he was finally set down, turning his head this way and that as All Might hummed to himself and did something he couldn’t see. It was still afternoon going by the colour of the sky but closer to evening than noon, which was- a relief? Worrisome? Was it still the same day? He pushed the thought aside in favour of looking down at himself.
Those. Those were definitely paws like he had thought. Green paws, with stubby claws and curly fur. He looked back behind himself and caught a glimpse of a spiral tail and fluffy hindquarters and whined in the back of his throat.
Was. Was he a dog?
There was a burst of steam and hissing, and he looked up just in time for large hands to pick him back up, holding him up in the air.
Izuku stared down at a grinning, gaunt face, and felt like he was missing something very, very important.
All Might- because that was the only person it could be, in those exact same clothes with the same colouring and mannerisms- coughed up blood no less than three times on their way to their destination. It was worrying, being held by the man and feeling the rasping in his chest with each breath, feeling his hacking before he set Izuku down each time. Izuku spent those long minutes pawing at the man’s feet and trying, failing to help, feeling useless watching his
be like... this.
All Might pat his head (??? All Might just pat my head why must my dream be fulfilled like this) each time once he was done coughing up half his lungs and picked him back up like it was nothing. Izuku tried to convey through distressed glaring how not okay that was.
Sadly, glaring did not translate well when one was a… small dog. Puppy? He didn’t want to think about this .
They eventually reached their destination. It was the police station, of all places, and Izuku had the passing thought that All Might knew he was really human, that he was here to report a victim of a Quirk- but no, the man wouldn’t handle him so casually if he knew.
...Maybe it would occur to the man, once his parents reported the teenager with green hair and eyes being missing.
Mom and dad. He cringed, whined and squirmed as All Might pushed open the door to the station. The man glanced at him curiously, adjusting his hold, but didn’t say anything as he went deeper into the building, eventually stopping at a door and knocking.
The man inside was… bland. Black hair and eyes, average height, nothing removed from the baseline human. It made Izuku immediately wary as he glanced up at them, did a double-take and blinked.
“Naomasa-kun! Good afternoon!”
“Toshinori-san.” All Might- Toshinori-san? - settled into a chair, Izuku still in his lap. He’d begun playing with his paws, pressing down on the pads with a tiny grin. “Is that a puppy?... A. Green one?”
“Yes! I found him on patrol- someone just left him out on the road. He might be a stray, now that I think of it.” He frowned down at Izuku. “Though I don’t know who would leave a puppy out on their own, with how small he is.”
“Maybe he escaped his home?” The other man suggested.
Izuku huffed. I was on my way home- oh no his barks were squeaky. He snapped his mouth shut, wilting at their chuckles. They could shut up, this was legitimately distressing.
Not that they knew.
“Well, even if he did, I’ll have to take him to the shelter anyways, since he’s got no collar.” A hand ruffled through his fur, gently prodding skin. “No chip, either, I think.”
“I’m fairly certain it’s not legal to chip a dog that young?”
“...Are there people who would illegally chip a dog?”
If you two keep talking about this I’m going to bite someone. The officer blinked at his yapping, a strange expression coming over his face.
“...You said you found it- him, on the side of the road?”
“Well, under an overpass, really, but yes. Why?”
“Well. Quirk animals certainly exist, but they usually don’t set off my own unless they’re on the level of the Principal.” All Might blinked and then joined the officer in peering at Izuku. Izuku shrank back and tried to stay still with so much attention on him.
“...Nedzu will kill me if I take a possibly intelligent animal to the shelter.”
Izuku stared blankly at the television sitting across from the sofa as All Might fastened the collar around his throat.
Well then. I guess this is life for the undeterminable future.
Izuku curled up on the cushion and tried to block out existence. It didn’t work, since All Might kept petting him and muttering, talking about names and picking up care supplies.
He bemoaned his future and hoped this would fix itself soon.
All Might was…
Sick. Something deeply wrong, something Izuku couldn’t pin down just yet as the man left him on the bed to go shower. It left him… worried, nervous, because what had happened? This was the Number One hero, coughing up blood, and he- had no idea what was wrong, what was even really happening at this point-
“Midori-chan? Are you alright?” Izuku glanced up from where he had been covering his… snout with his paws. All Might stood in a pair of boxers with a shirt in hand, and normally, such a thing would have Izuku near imploding, but he was too focused on what was visible now, like the giant, ragged scar spanning the hero’s side.
Izuku figured out how to function in this new body fairly quickly, even if there were some… mishaps.
The toilet was mildly mortifying at first and he was resolutely not thinking about falling in ever again if possible.
Izuku tried to escape once, the second day he was with the man. All Might had just left for patrolling, and Izuku was left with the television running on a children’s network and the reassurance that someone would be stopping by around noon to make sure he was alright.
He glanced around the house and quietly sat for a moment, taking in the posters and miscellaneous hero merchandise. Then, after a moment where he collected himself, he got to work.
The bathroom’s windows were too high for him to reach, and the one in the bedroom’s lock was too small for him to maneuver without breaking something. He didn’t want to break anything either, which meant he couldn’t make a violent exit through the backdoor’s glass pane. That left the front door, which he sat and stared up at for a good ten minutes.
He was tiny. How was he supposed to do this?
Pushing a chair didn’t do more than give him one toppled-over chair. Trying to jump on the end table nearby led to a bruised leg and limp that would take a while to fade. Eventually he tried just jumping up to try the handle, managing to strike the lock with a claw but not much better, and he sat back on his haunches and whined because this wasn’t fair he needed to leave before All Might came home, he didn’t want to be here and make the man keep taking care of him, it was All Might he didn’t need to be looking after some-
The doorknob jiggled as the lock turned. His ears shot up and he scrambled back and managed to mostly just squish his tail as the door clicked and creaked open. Naomasa-san looked curiously at him as he peeked his head in.
“Are you alright?” Izuku answered with a long, drawn-out whine and put his face under his paws. Naomasa-san stepped into the house and closed the door, crouching to pat him on the head. “There, there, it’ll be okay. I’m sure whatever it is will work out. Why don’t I make sure your bowls are filled and then we can see about taking you for a walk?”
Kibble was disgusting, but Naomasa-san was adamant he eat something. Izuku spent the next hour following the man around and quietly resigning himself to staying.
All Might only patrolled continuously for five hours every day, during the high hours when activity was peaking, and came home around four or five, usually coughing while he hauled his costume in a duffel. Izuku wondered just how the injury had cut this much into his work without anyone noticing.
The injury and patrols didn’t stop him from attending to Izuku, though. He was hesitant around him, dubious thanks to Izuku’s supposed intelligence, but kind, making sure to feed him and attempting to play with him.
The check-ins became a rotation of bemused police officers and lower heroes, since Naomasa-san couldn’t do it every day; Izuku now had a steady stream of visitors that had no idea whose house they were visiting, but did know that the owner’s dog was a nervous thing that would squint and run if they tried to pet or play with him.
The one time All Might brought home a tennis ball and tried to play catch with Izuku, he watched it sail through the air and hit the wall before giving the man a dull stare and lying down.
All in all, living with the man wasn’t… a trial. He was taken care of, wasn’t necessarily treated like a mindless animal, and that was reassuring, but. It didn’t stop him from feeling like a, a burden on the man, a liar. All Might had no idea what Izuku was, didn’t have to take care of Izuku.
And yet here Izuku was, wasting someone else’s time again.
“You know, Nao told me you don’t have much yet, since Yagi-san is a bit absent-minded.” The cat man peered down at Izuku, bag in hand. Izuku’s nose twitched curiously, because whatever was in it wasn’t big or bulky, and didn’t smell like anything in particular. Maybe a toy?
Hnnn. He’d rather it not be one. It was bad enough that All Might kept bringing some home to try and get him to play.
The officer- Sansa, that’s what he said his name was, wasn’t it?- reached into the bag with a smile, pulling out something long and colourful. Izuku peered at it curiously when he held it out, and realised it was a bandana. An… All Might bandana.
Izuku glanced up at Sansa-san, who leaned down to carefully tie it around his neck, emblem visible as he straightened it out. Izuku looked down at it as Sansa-san murmured about thinking it would be nice to get him some accessories, so someone knew he wasn’t a stray if he went out, and to make him feel more at home.
He had the feeling if he wasn’t covered in fur and incapable of speech he’d be blushing and gibbering right now.
Sansa-san had more tiny things, like a wide, teal ribbon, more bandanas in the style of other heroes’ costumes, and even a collar with tags listing off both All Might and the station's information, although he said that it was just plain leather since he knew “Yagi-san” would likely just take the tags.
Izuku watched him set the rest aside for All Might to look through and shoved his head into the man’s leg the moment he wouldn’t knock him over. Sansa-san pat him on the head with a chuckle and said he was welcome.
All Might hacked up blood when he opened the door and saw Izuku on the couch, bandana sitting innocently round his neck. Naomasa-san laughed over the phone when he called and asked what the hell today’s watcher did.
Izuku watched All Might cut up a chicken breast for him and cook nothing for himself and squinted in worry. He. He was skinny, too skinny, shouldn’t he eat something too? It was bad enough he was coughing up blood, but not eating, that just made him worry more because how could he be just disregarding his health like it was nothing-
All Might finally noticed his staring. He smiled and waved the knife. “Ah, don’t worry, Makike-chan, I’ll have this done soon. I know you must be hungry.” That’s not what I was worried about but okay-
Izuku stared at the bowl when it was placed on the bloor, then looked back up at Toshinori. He was watching expectantly, waiting for Izuku to eat some, and he’d figured out that he could eat raw meat, but. The man needed to eat . All Might frowned when he toddled away from the bowl and towards him, tugging on a pant leg.
The man didn’t clue in at first, tilting his head. “Does it smell weird? What’s wrong?” Izuku made a noise of frustration, wished he could just talk and went back to the bowl, pushing it forward towards the man as best he could before looking back up expectantly.
He finally clued in after a few more tugs and some whining. “Oh, you-! Ah, don’t worry about me, I’m not hungry-” He cut himself off at Izuku’s unimpressed stare, the glance up and down his body. Cleared his throat, and scratched at hi neck. “It’s- I’m really not hungry, but that, uh, may just because my stomach’s gone. I-...” He faltered, clearing his throat again and turning to the counter. “I suppose it can’t be a bad idea, to make something!”
Izuku swallowed down chunks of chicken as All Might cooked and tried to not start howling at the revelation the man didn’t have a stomach.
What was he doing patrolling like that?
Izuku took to staring down All Might whenever he went into the kitchen over the next few days. The man would cave within minutes and grab something small out of the pantry, usually a granola bar.
It was a start.
Izuku went outside the neighbourhood for the first time in in a week and tried to stay grounded.
It felt- surreal, like a dream, to finally be entering Yuuei. Like he was in some bubble of unreality, with his wishes playing out, All Might close to him and his dream school splayed out around him.
All Might was carrying him in his arms, humming as he pressed Izuku to his chest. It’d been a bumpy ride full of starts and stops thanks to the hero’s constant coughing- blood so much blood how was he still standing- and it’d taken them an hour to get from the rundown house to the school campus. He barely had an idea of why they were even there- had a vague idea who “Nedzu” was, knowing a Quirk animal worked on the Yuuei staff, maybe having looked him up at some point, but he didn’t see how the being could help him any. He-
It didn’t matter now.
They walked up the steps, passing curious students that looked at the pair with no small amount of curiosity. Izuku cringed at their stares and tucked his head in one of the many folds of All Might’s suit. Eyes on him no matter what happened, it seemed.
The door they stopped at was large, plaque proclaiming it to be the principal’s and oh, that’s where he’d heard of Nedzu before, he was the freaking principal. All Might pushed the door open after a cheerful voice called out, tiny shiver running through him. Not ominous at all , that was.
The figure behind the desk was some… mix of mouse and human, sitting upright with giant paws somehow clasped together. Izuku resolutely didn’t think about the online forums he’d seen as All Might took the seat in front of the desk, positioning Izuku so that he was safely on his lap. Izuku shuffled a bit before turning to look at the… other, mammal, who gave him a curious glance.
The two made small talk, All Might going on about recent patrols and someone named Osamu emailing him, and Nedzu talking about students before their conversation quietly petered off, and they began to peer at Izuku. Nedzu cocked his head, muzzle drawn into a pensive expression as he stared, and Izuku shrank back slightly at it.
“Toshinori-kun. Do you think you could leave, for a moment?” All Might startled but didn’t protest, placing Izuku on the desk as he rose and left the room. Nedzu kept looking at Izuku, and it made him sweat, want to hide.
“I don’t know if Toshinori-kun has told you, but my name is Nedzu. I may not look it, but I am completely animal, with a Quirk that gave me intelligence superior to a human,” The principal finally said, “I suppose he brought you to me because of that. I would hope he did, instead of simply doing it because I’m an animal.”
Izuku folded his ears back and nodded slowly. The man had seemed to care more about knowing how to handle him than Nedzu being able to figure anything out, but that sentiment had certainly been a part of it.
“You know spoken Japanese to some extent then, that’s good.” Nedzu ducked under his desk, shuffling for a moment before pulling out a tablet, setting it on the desk. It flickered through hiragana, a directory leading to different rows. Nedzu set it down with a huff, smiling at his wide eyes. “Do you know how to use this writing system? I have Roman and Kanji ones as well.”
Izuku carefully stood and observed the tablet, before reaching and tapping as best he could on wa then i . Nedzu smiled again, and begun asking questions.
It was obvious the mammal expected the worst. He asked what Izuku remembered, if any of it involved people in white coats, needles, pain, hurt. Izuku answered no to all of them, but the mere thought of having gone through… experimentation , made him sick, wonder just what the mammal across from him had dealt with. When it was obvious Izuku hadn’t come from any illicit animal experimentation, Nedzu changed tactics, asking what he did remember.
Izuku. Faltered, wondered what to say. If he mentioned he was human, that would bring up questions of just who he was, if he had any family to contact, and…
And he didn’t want to burden his mother more, like this. Stress his father out while he couldn’t do anything a country away, make them worry about him anymore than they had. He barely wanted to inconvenience All Might, thought about slipping away some days, but the man seemed genuinely happy to have him, for all that he wasn’t some energetic puppy for him to play with.
So Izuku said he didn’t remember much. Wandering around, being found and left by various people and picking up language along the way. Being attacked by someone the day All Might found him and the man taking him home, and them realising he was… intelligent? Sentient? Nedzu looked tired at the end of it, and only asked after he was done if he had a name he preferred.
Izuku said he’d never been given one.
Nedzu told All Might to treat him like he would any other person, albeit in a smaller, furrier shape. He pointedly recommended finding a way to communicate that didn’t require speech, as well, which Izuku was thankful for; there was only so much charades could convey. When the blond asked what his name was, if he had one, apologetically addressing the question to Izuku a moment later, Nedzu cheerfully said that was something they could decide together.
The strain to his face when he said that made Izuku wince and wish he could apologise. In place of it, he leaned forward and extended a paw for another shake, earning him a small, genuine smile.
All Might started listing names off when he had the opportunity, watching Izuku’s reaction to them.
All Might had horrible taste in names.
“Hitsuji!” Izuku gave him a flat look at the last and turned back to the live report on the television, Endeavor fighting some… slime-like criminal. All Might chuckled and ran a hand down his back, tugging on some of the more unrulier curls. “Midori was good as anything else. What about sticking with that?”
Izuku considered it before nodding as best he could. It was easy enough to remember, and he already responded to it. All Might grinned in delight and leaned back, whooping as Endeavor encased the villain onscreen in a circle of flame.
“That’s it then! Midori it is! What do you think, does it go well with Toshinori?”
Izuku blinked. Right, All Might. Had a name.
...Toshinori. He wondered what characters that used.
There was something. Strangely freeing, about technically having nothing to do all day. He’d spend his morning following around All Might during his morning routine, having breakfast, and then going on a walk around the neighborhood and a nearby park. Then he’d be dropped off back at the house, where a watcher would show up around noon and stay an hour or so. Then, he’d laze around or watch television or try to explore for the next three hours.
All Might would come home in the late afternoon, sometimes with a briefcase, always with the duffel containing his costume, and would try to get Izuku to play again before simply sitting down and talking to him. They would have dinner, and then the last few hours of the day would be spent doing… whatever came to mind, really.
Izuku didn’t have to think about grades, or applications. He didn’t have to worry about what route to take to school, or if he would have to protect his bags, or hide bruises from his mother. He didn’t have to think about hard it was to get up in the mornings, or how it felt more and more like he was forcing himself to eat.
He just. Existed.
Izuku yawned and blinked as All Might muttered to himself, clicking through something on his laptop. The blond had spent the last hour or so fidgeting and nearly rising from his seat, always settling back down in front of his laptop with a sigh. Izuku listened to him start to stand and curse again and sat up himself, barking from his place on the couch.
All Might looked up as he trotted over to the dining table, curiously peering at the laptop and back at the man. He sighed, running a hand through his hair and frowning.
“I suppose I must be making you a bit worried, ah, Midori?” All Might was silent for a moment, gazing at his laptop screen. “An old… coworker, of mine. He’s trying to help me, and I’m grateful for it, but… it’s been so long, that I feel like I should say something, but we ended on such bad terms. And what he’s offering, it’s so… serious, I suppose, that I’m hesitant to just accept like that.”
Izuku sat back. Well. That was… a conundrum Izuku didn’t really know how to help with. He looked at All Might and tilted his head, waving a paw. The man frowned in confusion as Izuku tried to convey his question before giving up and simply gesturing at the laptop again with his head.
All Might glanced at it, brow creasing. “Are you… did you want to know what he said?” Izuku shook his head. “Who he is? I- hold on, let me go get the board.”
Izuku sat as All Might hurried to the living room. The board in question was a clever little thing, designed for people who couldn’t speak but couldn’t necessarily use Japanese Sign. It picked up on pressure against the surface and would leave colour whatever place had been touched. It reminded Izuku of some of the things his father-
It was useful, in getting small questions across, or asking about simple things like the time or date.
He jumped back to attention when All Might reentered the room, setting the board on the floor and patiently waiting. Izuku leaned down and pressed his nose gently against the board, writing out suke and ke as best he could. All Might squinted before blinking in realisation.
“Ah, the help? What is he offering? Or maybe why I’m hesitant?” Izuku nodded once, and All Might hummed, scratching the back of his head. “Well… I suppose, to condense it all, I need a… student, and he’s offered a candidate. But I don’t know if I want to take the boy on?”
Izuku squinted at him, then leaned down and wiped his cheek against he board, erasing it, before carefully writing and erasing a sequence of characters. By the end of it, All Might was muttering to himself, hunching over.
“A trial… I hadn’t considered that… Meeting him beforehand, maybe seeing how he is during his internship, although that would mean speaking with Osamu again… but it may be worth it if I finally find a successor...” All Might glanced back at Izuku and blinked slowly before he ginned, a small, earnest thing as he picked up Izuku and hugged him. “Thank you, Midori-chan! You’ve given me a brilliant idea!”
Izuku laid his head on the man’s shoulder and closed his eyes, letting a small rush of pride flow through him. He’d helped someone. He was useful. It just took a few tries to show.
The bed shaking and cutoff noises woke Izuku up from his doze, and he groggily sat up and glanced around to see what was happening. It was still dark out, the moon just barely setting, and there wasn’t anything amiss in the room, but-
But All Might was shivering, curled up tight as if he was in pain and making noises between his clenched teeth. Izuku shot up in alarm, stumbling over his legs and reaching his face, worried because was it the injury? Had he hurt himself somehow?
He paused when the man whined again, grit out a tiny, “ No -” before rolling onto his other side. Oh. Oh. He was- having a nightmare.
Izuku hovered and hesitated, before carefully reaching out and hitting the man with one paw. He tumbled back when the man shot up, panting harshly with steam curling around him. Blue pinpricks sought him out in the dark and blinked as the breaths softened, deliberately slowed.
“Ah, Midori-chan, I...” All Might’s breath hitched, his body shaking the bed as he shivered, and Izuku- “I-I’m alright, I apologise, for waking you. It- you can-” All Might cut himself off, and Izuku could vaguely make out him putting his head in his hand, shoulders shivering as his breaths went watery.
Izuku watched his hero fall apart in front of him and had the horrible, startling epiphany-that-shouldn’t-have-been that All Might was, in fact, a person behind the bulging muscles and grin. It was- an obvious fact, something he knew, but not something he knew. All Might was a person, yes, but never associated with everyday things, with family and names and nightmares and pain.
Izuku was beginning to see the mistake in that.
He toddled forward, slipping the last foot or so between them until he was sitting in front of the man, nudging his way into the cage of his spindly arms. All Might automatically wrapped his arms around him as Izuku fell into his lap, nuzzling into his stomach and licking the man’s arm, trying to get his attention. All Might laughed brokenly, stroking a hand down his back and pulling him closer, sliding so he could lay and bury his face in Izuku’s fur.
Yagi-san apologised and laid like that for some time. Izuku fell asleep to the feel of steady breathing against his side and the warmth of another body.
After that first night, Izuku slept closer to Yagi-san. The man was quieter during the night, calmer, and Izuku himself felt more... settled at the touch of another person. He was so used to glancing pats now that actually keeping prolonged contact almost felt like a shock.
Most nights he dreamed of explosions, turned backs and his mother's cooking. He hoped Yagi-san's had become more pleasant.
Toogata-san is loud, was the first thing he noticed. His expressions were big, his words confident and booming, and even his appearance caught your attention, bright hair standing on end. He…
He reminded Izuku of All Might. No wonder Yagi-san's friend had recommended him.
Right now, Yagi-san was bustling through the house, having apparently already greeted the student. Izuku watched him pull out various odds and ends, piling them on the table; he could spot his board and leash among them, along with a small notebook.
"-Honestly low maintenance, as long as you don't try to treat him like a dog you're fine-"
"Yagi-san? What do you mean by that? Isn't he a dog?"
Yagi-san paused, blinking at Toogata-san. He glanced at Izuku in bafflement before realising his mistake.
"Ah, he is, but... you know how Nedzu is an animal with higher intelligence, yes?"
"Oh! And Midori is the same way?" Yagi-san nodded with a smile.
"Hence my words. Treat him like you would anyone else and you'll be fine, Mirio-kun. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hurry to work; I'll see you when I come home, Midori, don't make things too hard for Mirio-kun." Yagi-san ran a hand down his back before grabbing his duffel from beside the door, waving at them as he left.
The two of them listened to the door catch then looked at each other, sizing each other up.
"You know," The blond said bemusedly, "Of all favours Sir said he needed me to do, I wouldn't have expected dogsitting to be one. He’s seemed more, well. It isn’t important." He cocked his head, glancing at the table laden with things. "I should probably go through that, huh? You wanna help me and show me what everything's for?"
Huh. Already doing better than some of the police officers, then.
Yagi-san came home to Mirio-kun sitting on the floor, Midori avidly listening as he told stories about working with Sir Nighteye. He smiled to himself even as his heart panged, shutting the door loud enough that they knew he was there.
He was a good person at least, if Midori-chan liked him.
Izuku was surprised that the news was reporting it three months after his disappearance.
Hell, he was surprised they were reporting at all, considering, well. His school had made it clear no one would care about some worthless Quirkless kid.
The news report onscreen transitioned between different takes, showing “concerned” students and teachers before fading to a picture of his school ID.
A hand nestled in the fur at his neck, digging in and scratching As Yagi-san hummed. “It’s always horrible when a child disappears. His mother actually came into the station within a day of his disappearance, according to Naomasa-kun. No one wanted to take her seriously.”
Izuku fought down the surge of guilt at that. It was better for everyone, this way. He perked up though when the news flipped to a picture of the school itself, voiceover taking a stern tone.
“...Suspicions that multiple students may have been involved in his disappearance, going by testimonies, particularly one Bakugou Katsuki; there are multiple accounts from peers of harassment from students, as well as supposed neglect from the teachers and staff. The parents of Midoriya-kun are pursuing an investigation to see if it might have played a role in…”
Izuku stared blankly at the screen as Yagi-san kept running a hand through his fur, muttering under his breath. Well.
His mother and father would get some of the closure they would need. Maybe.
Izuku wondered if they would find out the extent of what Kacchan did. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t.
He didn’t know if it would a good or bad thing for them, destroying the image he’d built up for years of Kacchan and him being friends. He didn’t know how he felt at them finding out how much he had lied.
Toogata-kun liked to take him for walks, showing him spots he'd hang out with his friends. One was a park, spacious with plenty of areas to relax away from the public. Sometimes they would sit down there, under the trees, and Toogata-kun would hum as the breeze swept over them, Izuku dozing.
"You remind me of Tamaki," He admitted one day, smiling sheepishly, "He's real quiet and doesn't like being the center of attention. So a lot of the time when we go out, we come here and relax."
Hm. Izuku nosed at his palm, tentatively licking it- that was what dogs did, wasn't it, he couldn't exactly hug him- and getting a grin from Toogata-kun. The blond pat his head, looking back out at the jogging paths.
"Maybe you'd like to meet him one day. I know him and Nejire would love to meet you."
Laughing painful hands burning fists slamming into his stomach-
Izuku snapped awake, sides heaving. Yagi-san tsked, running his hand down his back.
“It’s alright, Midori. You’re safe now.” He hummed, a worried noise. “Do you want to talk about it?”
No, he didn’t. He burrowed into the man’s side, nosing his hand. Yagi-san sighed, continuing to pet him instead of asking again. When he drifted back to sleep once more, he dreamt of summer and the buzzing of bugs instead.
Izuku blinked at the duo in front of him, tilting his head back to look at Toogata-kun. The blond only smiled, nodding him forward.
They were in a park, sun shining down as they sat on a blanket. Toogata-kun had ushered them there early in the morning, sitting by a fountain until these two had shown up. The other boy looked squirrely, fidgeting with his hands, while the girl had her head cocked, watching Izuku with curiosity.
“Maa, you’re Midori-chan? It’s nice to meet you, my name is Nejire! Is it true you’re as smart as a human? That’s what Mirichan’s been saying and he has a tendency to exaggerate. Is your brain the only difference? Can you stand like a human or talk?”
Izuku blinked slowly. Looked back up at Toogata-kun. The blond shrugged. That was normal, then. He wondered if this was what people felt like when he started talking about Quirks.
“A-ah, Nejire, you may be overwhelming him a bit.” The brunet spoke up, mouth peeking up from the collar of his shirt. He glanced at Izuku then away, fingers hooking together. “My name’s, uh, Tamaki. Nice to meet you…?”
Hesitantly Izuku stepped forward, placing one paw over the teen’s hands. Tamaki-san jumped a little and blinked, before slowly wrapping a hand around Izuku’s paw and shaking it. It felt like they had just completed a solemn ritual. Or something utterly silly. Either one.
It only took a moment for one of them to start giggling, Tamaki trying to cover his mouth while Nejire made no effort to hide. Izuku yapped at her and covered her hand next, daintily pushing it up and down.
The hesitancy in the air cleared after that.
Yagi-san didn't mind him meeting Nejire-san and Tamaki-san, so they became visitors alongside Toogata-kun, meeting them in the park and going from there. Nejire-san liked to play with Izuku, moving his paws around and asking questions he did his best to answer or, when getting too personal, skirt around. She was kind, not badgering him when he started getting too uncomfortable, and reminded him of his mother's secretary with her bubbliness.
Tamaki-san was more reserved, staying quiet on most their outings. He didn't mind, since it was obvious Toogata-kun had hit the nail on the head when first mentioning him. Still, he treated Izuku with respect and didn't try to make him play fetch, so he was good in his book.
The treats he'd slip under the table to Izuku may have also helped some. He'd missed the taste of prepared foods like takoyaki and mochi.
It was two more people he knew in this new life that didn't expect anything from him, see him as anything but the hyper-intelligent dog with a skittish demeanor. It was freeing.
Yagi-san paused from where he was flipping his omelette, peering down at Izuku. Izuku himself paused in gobbling down a piece of chicken, cocking his head in question. Yagi-san reached down, poking at one of his ears that flicked in response. The hero grinned.
"Your ears are standing up!"
Izuku turned, peering at himself in the reflection of the oven. Now that he looked at himself, he could see it.
...Huh. What exactly did that mean?
"You're going to be a handsome dog soon enough, Midori-chan. Though I don't know if you'll be growing much more considering the past couple months..."
Izuku sat down as Yagi-san kept rambling, staring at himself. Growing, right, dogs did that faster than humans.
He wondered how long he would have as a dog. What would happen if he ever turned back, if he could go back to normal life. The trio were Yuuei students going by the stories they told- and the fact they were interns with some of the most popular heroes in the city, much less Japan - and it made had Izuku... contemplative about this all, lately.
If he could ever switch back to being a human, what would he do? His education would need to be continued, but he'd be older than anyone in classes at that point- no doubt he'd be held back now if he was able to return right at this instant. And his body- would he have to relearn how to move as a human again? How to walk upright, use his hands?
He had that dream of going to Yuuei he had held onto for so many years that had been curbstomped by Kacchan, and with an actual, bonafide student in front of him, it only felt more foolish.
He'd be better off as he was.
It was easier being touched, now. He slept with Yagi-san each night which sort of necessitated it , and Toogata--kun and the others were physically affectionate; it was either get used to it or have a meltdown. Truthfully, it was. Strange, being touched in a positive way by anyone other than his mother.
Nice, though. He’d forgotten as a human what it was like to have someone run their hands through his hair, and now that was almost all anyone could do in this form. He was all too glad to let Nejire-san take a brush to his fur and rub his ears, talking all the while.
The news started showing more and more coverage of his. Disappearance.
The reporters kept implying it was a suicide and he wanted to scream every time because he didn't GET TO he was stopped they shouldn't be saying that where Mama and Papa can listen-
So they started covering his disappearance more, and the court case linked to it. Apparently the investigation they had revealed earlier that month had exploded. Apparently, his teachers weren't supposed to have agreed with the years of gaslighting and isolation.
So he got to hear about his mother's manhunt from Yagi-san, Naomasa-san, the Yuuei trio who was nervous for what this meant for them and society. Because it wasn't simply his school justifying this of course, it was the educational system that had seen and ignored it, the principal that had listened and dismissed him. For all they knew, schools up to Yuuei could be restructured to prevent something like this again.
If his mother had her way, they would be.
Each time he saw her and his father, arms around each other and obviously close despite the trouble, he wondered when he'd ever fit into that picture.
Yuuei was still towering, intimidating like this, but being on his own feet helped. Izuku trotted next to Yagi-san, barely managing to keep pace with his long strides. They were here for lesson plans, since what little Yagi-san had shown him of what he had in store for his first students was... not well thought-out.
And hadn't that been a surprise learning the man would be a teacher next year? He would have put himself through hell to be taught by the man, and these kid would get that chance thanks to their luck.
Of course, they'd never get the chance to see more than "All Might" which... mattered quite a bit more to Izuku now. Yagi-san led the way down to the staff room, strolling down the hallways; the students were out for break so the halls seemed almost cavernous, footsteps echoing as they walked.
There were three teachers in the staff room when they entered, one recognisably Present Mic. The other two had long hair and tired complexions, though one slipped out of the room as soon as they entered. The last stared at Yagi-san with no small degree of tired resignation.
"What are you doing here? Don't you usually run patrols around this hour?"
"More importantly, did you gain weight Yagi? You've got some more meat on your bones compared to the last time we saw you!"
Yagi-san smiled sheepishly at them, hand coming up to curl around one bang. "Ah, a friend of mine recommended I get some help with my lesson plans, since they were, er, less than stellar, so I was hoping for some advice."
The dark man raised one eyebrow skeptically. "Friend?"
Izuku barked from to catch his attention. All three men jumped, eyes darting to him- He even saw the speaker's hair lift some. His Quirk?
"Is that a puppy?"
"A CUTE puppy! What's your name, lil’ guy? Why don't you come here and let Zashi-kun see you?"
Izuku gave Mic a flat look and shuffled closer to Yagi-san. The unnamed man snorted, drawing a glare from Present Mic. Yagi-san cleared his throat, drawing their attention again.
"His name is Midori. I adopted him a couple months ago, and he's highly intelligent. He was the one to advise me to er, seek a second opinion." He held up his briefcase, smiling. "Only if you're willing of course, Yamada-kun, Aizawa-kun...?"
Aizawa-san gave Izuku a measuring look before gesturing the hero forward. The next two hours were an exercise in Oh, that's not a good idea? as he combed over Yagi-san's plans with a fine-toothed comb, restructuring or completely throwing out some. Izuku, on the other hand, had the pleasure of being grabbed up by Present Mic, who seemed delighted at the fact he could understand him and communicate, albeit in a rudimentary way without his board. He spent his time talking about what it was like to live with Yagi-san, drawing occasional glares whenever Mic responded too loudly for Aizawa-san's taste.
The end of the day saw Yagi-san bowing and thanking them profusely, while Present Mic promised to find him some things more "stylish" than the ribbon he was wearing. Considering the man wore spikes and tight leather, he didn't think he wanted to know his definition of stylish.
Yagi-san kept apologising, rubbing a hand through Izuku's fur as he packed.
Honestly, he wasn't... distressed over it. He understood that the hero had other obligations and couldn't take him everywhere, much less look after him all the time. That was why the police officers then Toogata-kun watched him during the day. Of course, that didn't mean he wasn't nervous , but, well. That was nearly his default emotional state.
At least he knew Sansa-san and Naomasa-san.
The deal was, All Might had been requested for a case up in Hokkaido, prisoners starting a riot in an old prison and busting out in a mass exodus; the heroes there needed assistance in rounding them all up, since the region was particularly large.
Yagi-san wouldn't be able to safely travel with a puppy that would need frequent care when he'd be out searching all day and might need to leave at a minute's notice, no matter how much he spent skirting his time limit. So, he'd ask Sansa-san and Naomasa-san to look after him for the duration of the mission, since they could be trusted to take care of him properly. They agreed and, well.
Now Izuku was staring up at an apartment building, shifting in Yagi-san's hands so he had a better perch. Everything he needed was in a bag over the man's shoulder.
It was strange how his whole life could be bundled up into one bag, now. He didn't know how that made him feel.
The men's apartment was neat, odds and ends carefully placed on bookshelves or end tables. It was unlike Yagi-san's, who clearly hadn't had time for upkeep in previous years and now didn't know how to do it.
Naomasa-san was with them since they had stopped by the police station first, and he chatted with Yagi-san as he took the bag from him, going over the less obvious things inside and the finer details of the mission.
Izuku let them talk and wandered about the apartment, nosing open doors. He managed to find the guest room, bathroom, and hall closet before someone noticed he was gone, calling for him. Yagi-san chuckled when he came trotting down the hall, crouching down to pet his head.
"I'll be back as soon as possible, alright? Just use your board if you need anything from Naomasa or Sansa-kun."
Izuku nodded, and that was that. He slipped out the door soon after, leaving Izuku alone with Naomasa-san. The man stretched, glancing at the clock.
"Sansa should be home soon, so I'm going to start dinner. Have you ever had tuna?"
Fish tasted strange as a dog, saltier than he was used to. Naomasa-san laughed and pat his head when he scrunched his up in surprise and stared at the plate in bemusement.
They established a routine over the next few days. Whoever's shift was later, Izuku would wake up and go with them to the station- usually Naomasa-san. He'd spend the day at the station, listening to the frankly startling amount of gossip officers got up to and reading on a handicap-accessible tablet, and then go home with whoever went home first. Depending on the hour, they would lounge around or begin dinner.
It was a relaxed routine, Naomasa-san and Sansa-san talking to him throughout about random things. They had no issue treating him like a person, having already looked after him, and it was... nice to have someone outside Yagi-san to speak to.
One night, Izuku went home with Sansa-san, Naomasa-san needing to stay back thanks to a case that was dragging on. Izuku rode the train in the man's lap, listening to him hum quietly to music. It was warm, the weather shifting to summer now that July was coming upon them, and Izuku was getting drowsy thanks to that and the rocking of the car.
July. Huh. He'd be turning sixteen like this. He'd be spending his first birthday away from family. His mother and father must be-
Izuku whined, shaking his head and pushing it underneath his paws.
Sansa-san ran a hand down his back, asking what was wrong. Izuku only shook his head. When they got back to the apartment, the man whipped them up something simple and they ate on the couch, watching some mindless comedy show. Sansa-san put up the dishes and they went back to watching, eyes growing heavier and heavier. Izuku didn’t even notice Sansa-san picking him up and placing him in his lap, running a hand down his back. He only nuzzled closer, sighing.
They fell asleep within the hour.
Naomasa sighed as he stepped into the apartment, running a hand through his hair. The precinct was in chaos with how they were having to divide resources. It was mind-boggling how far one disappearance could ripple, but, well. The Firebrand had power, Midoriya-san even more so. What they wanted, they got.
He shook his head, casting thoughts of work out of his mind as he took off his shoes. Walking in, he paused when he stepped into the living room.
Sansa was on the couch, head visible above the back. He could hear him purring lightly, ears twitching to whatever dreams he was having. Walking around to the front, Naomasa sighed softly and smiled. Midori was curled up in his lap, face nuzzled into Sansa's stomach.
He was about to nudge Sansa awake so they could move to the bedroom but paused. Got his phone out and snapped a few pictures, sending them to Toshinori. What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. Then he shook Sansa awake and listened in glee as he tried to insist he hadn't been purring.
"Sure, sweetie. Grab Midori-chan and let’s go to bed."
The trip to the station the next morning was lighthearted, Izuku doing his best to ignore them as they chuckled because of course he would be a bit embarrassed at waking up between them. The station was packed as usual as they walked in, receptionist waving at Izuku and Naomasa-san, and he was tired enough that he didn't recognise the voices he heard at first. When he did, he froze amd looked off to the side and saw three familiar figures, waiting patiently with taut expressions.
His mother’s business partner blinked in the second it took for him to go sprinting in the other direction.
"Midori!?" He ignored Naomasa-san and ducked under a random desk, wedging himself into the corner. The officer seated stared at him bemusedly, raising a hand as Naomasa-san kept calling for him.
"Midori-chan, what was all that about? Sakura, can you-" The officer moved obligingly, giving Naomasa-san space to crouch down. He stared at Izuku in concern, but the teen ignored him because- because-
He'd caught sight of his mother in the split second before he dashed, had seen the firm slope to her stomach and protective hand she kept over it as she spoke with his father.
They truly didn't need him now. He'd been replaced.
HI EDITING THIS IN HERE I REALISED IT MIGHT BE MISCONSTRUED WRONG- INKO ISNT CHEATING ON HER HUSBAND HOLY SHIT SHES THE OWNER OF A LAW FIRM WITH A BUSINESS PARTNER
Yagi-san ran his hand through Izuku's fur, murmuring to Naomasa-san as quietly he could.
"...Been so quiet, do you know what could have set him off?... Worried, it's been difficult getting him to eat..."
Izuku kept his eyes closed and ears folded, trying to shut out everything.
Replaced unwanted unneeded, they were trying to fix their mistake now-
Izuku woke up to the sound of gasping and realised he had been left on the couch.
He was confused for a split second before understanding what was going on and jumping off the couch, jogging to the bedroom; the door was left ajar enough for him to nose it open and he dove in, jumping onto the bed. Yagi-san startled awake, puffing into his hero form before he recognised where he was and relaxed.
"M-Midori-chan? Is- is something wrong?"
He didn't respond to the man. Only ducked close, wedging himself under one arm and licking the man's hand. Yagi-san was still for a moment before sighing, easing himself back down next to Izuku.
"Thank you, Midori."
Izuku closed his eyes and listened to the man's breath slowly even out.
At least he was useful to Toshinori.
“M-Midori-chan?” Izuku’s ears perked up and he glanced at Tamaki-san. The four of them were at a cafe, sitting at a table outside. Izuku had laid down when they picked up a table and set his head on his paws, and had yet to join in on any conversation.
Tamaki-san fiddled nervously for a moment before clearing his throat and offering a skewer of takoyaki. Three of the balls were still left and they smelt- tantalizing, for all that the thought of food also made him nauseous.
Izuku’s nose twitched. Tamaki was almost fanatical about food, going as far as slapping away Mirio-kun’s hands whenever he tried to steal some.
He sat up, carefully biting down on the end of the skewer and lowering it to the ground. Tamaki-san smiled shyly, hand still outstretched as Izuku bumped it with his head.
The takoyaki was sweet, and he ate it all.
He started eating again- consistently, that was. He didn’t want to keep worrying Toshinori, making everyone concerned. He didn’t deserve it, and they didn’t deserve the stress. And he had to stay healthy to make sure Toshinori did, make sure Naomasa-san and Sansa-san weren’t worrying about him on duty, that the Yuuei students didn’t fret.
But that was self-centered, wasn’t it, assuming they even cared that much? Why would they, about some odd dog?
He set his muzzle on his paws, sighing. It wasn’t important. He simply needed to lessen their stress, and that was that.
Izuku whuffed, not opening his eyes. The feel of the brush on his fur was hypnotising, Nejire-san gentle as she untied knots and rubbed some sort of oil into the hairs. They were sitting in the park, Tamaki-san and Mirio-kun yelling about something in the tree above them.
“Are you okay?”
Izuku stilled. Nejire-san didn’t stop brushing his fur, humming lightly and tying something onto one curl. Lightly, barely noticeable, he shook his head, and could feel her hands slow for a moment. Then they picked back up, running over his ears lightly.
“Okay. You don’t need to talk about it. I’ll be here until you are again.” He blinked and looked up at her, seeing a small patient smile. She looked down at him and winked, bringing a finger to her mouth. “And if you do tell me something, I promise not to tell the others.”
He licked her hand, bumping her palm with his head. She laughed and pet him, going back to her grooming. Above them, Mirio-kun laughed, teasing Tamaki-san about something. Izuku closed his eyes and let the noise wash over him, sun warming him.
Izuku stared at the ball. It was sitting next to the couch, abandoned during one of Toshinori’s most recent attempt at getting him to play- recent in terms that it was about two months ago rather than seven. Bright red with small knobs all over it, it squeaked when you squeezed it hard enough.
He reached out and bat it with one paw. It rolled away, stopping right near the television stand. He trotted over, batting it again. Bat, bat, bat until it was rolling and lightly tapping against the leg of Toshinori’s chair.
The man made a noise of surprise and blinked down, staring at it and Izuku. Izuku only cocked his head, patiently waiting. Toshinori bent down and picked up the ball, glancing at it and back to Izuku. Bewildered, he tossed it into the living room.
Izuku dashed after it, just barely managing to avoid slamming into the couch as he caught it. He trotted back, dropping it at Toshinori’s feet once more.
“What’s gotten into you?” He asked, chuckling as he bent down again. “I thought this was below you.” Izuku only smiled, tongue lolling and tail wagging. Toshinori smiled and tossed the ball.
Izuku raced after it. It was simple, mindless. Fun, even. His protests against it earlier seemed piecemeal, now.
Izuku blinked at the television, barely-familiar face displayed in a splash screen. Toshinori made a noise next to him, leaning forward and turning the volume up.
"...Villain instrumental in multiple disappearances and robberies has finally been captured by an Underground hero, and it's the hope of the police that they'll be able to locate his victims and return them to their families..."
"Mm." Izuku glanced up at Toshinori who was grimacing, shaking his head. The hero noticed his stare and shook his head once more, glancing at the screen.
"His Quirk, whatever it is- he told the police it's permanent. They won't be finding anyone unless they're exceedingly lucky."
Izuku settled in, lying his head on the man's thigh.
Falling wind rushing past him as the ground soared closer and closer-
Izuku startled awake. Toshinori’s hand smoothed over his side, murmuring under his breath. They were on the train, heading somewhere he couldn’t say- Toshinori hadn’t mentioned much beyond making sure he was alright.
Their stop was in the center of the city, deep in the heart of the metropolis, and Toshinori carefully meandered along the streets as they walked, trying to make sure they didn’t hit anyone. Personally, Izuku thought the man was too tall for anyone to miss him, but he was likely used to it thanks to when his girth was an actual problem. Eventually they turned into a building, stepping inside and out of the chill. It looked like a waiting room inside, people sitting in chairs while a secretary sat behind a desk. Izuku blinked at the cats and dogs in people’s laps and carriers, chittering and whining.
Oh. It was a veterinary clinic.
Toshinori went and checked in, settling soon with Izuku in the corner. Izuku looked up at him and he smiled sheepishly, reaching down to adjust Izuku’s collar.
“I didn’t know how you would react. But, you do need a checkup, so…”
Izuku rolled his eyes and nipped the man’s fingers. It wasn’t like he was going to panic- he’d be extremely uncomfortable but. This was a chance to make sure he was- well, a dog, through and through.
They were escorted into an examination room in half an hour, the vet assistant harried and covered in scratches as they ushered them in. Considering the howling Izuku could hear behind the door to the back, he wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t long before the vet appeared, a tall man in a white coat stepping in. His skin was craggy and uneven, but it didn’t detract from the kind expression he wore as he bowed to them both.
“Good morning Yagi-san, Midori-san. My name is Kouda Yamato. I’ve been told you’re highly intelligent, Midori-san?”
Izuku blinked and nodded, wondering just how much Toshinori had told him.
“Only that you’re as intelligent as him or I, Midori-san- that is the name you prefer, yes?” The vet smiled at his shock, bowing again. “My Quirk is “Animal Whisper”. It allows me to understand just about every animal imaginable.”
Izuku couldn’t sigh or give himself away. Just as well.
Yes, it is.
He was healthy, if a bit big for his age. Kouda-sensei told Toshinori they simply needed to continue as they had and he’d be perfect.
Izuku tried not to feel relief at the fact there wasn’t anything else overtly strange about him. It meant there was less possibility he could ever turn back, after all. But. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, was it?
Mirio-kun, Tamaki-san, and Nejire-san were back in school, upping their internship hours and juggling school work. It meant Izuku spending time with Naomasa-san and Sansa-san again, since Mirio wasn’t yet certain if Sir Nighteye was alright with him hanging about the office.
The police officers never left him off a leash at the station, now. They still didn’t know what had set him off, and he’d never tell them either.
His mother and father won the civil suit, quickly settled compared to others. Shun-san, the lawyer in charge- and wasn’t that unsurprising, his mother’s partner taking up the torch- had practically eviscerated the prosecution, laying out the trail of evidence and making it undeniable.
Izuku wondered why they didn’t look happy in the photos of them. They had won, everything was settled, and they could move on. They didn’t need to think about him anymore.
He pushed the thoughts from his mind. He needed to focus on those in the here and now, who needed him, who he wouldn’t disappoint.
Mirio-kun got the approval from Sir Nighteye, which meant Izuku got to travel with him out to the hero offices each day, now. The plan was that Toshinori would drop him off at Yuuei, where Present Mic or Aizawa-san would watch him, and then Mirio would pick him up and they’d go. Apparently.
The first day had him grateful that he wouldn’t need to spend too much time around the professional heroes. Present Mic was too loud , making his ears ache, and Aizawa-san was intimidating, for all that he treated Izuku kindly and offered up pieces from his bento.
So he was glad when they headed off for the train station to meet Mirio’s employer.
Sir Nighteye was a spindly man, all skin and sinew with little muscle to be seen. It'd surprise the average civilian that he was a hero, but Izuku had followed his career after splitting from All Might, had seen his lack of muscle mass hadn't stopped the man from racking up an impressive capture and rescue record.
The fact he was about to meet the man was. Unbelievable, maybe. As a teen he had looked up to him, saw him as a role model because Foresight wasn't a combative Quirk, which meant he must fight like a, a Quirkless person would-
It wasn't important now. It'd never be.
Mirio-kun kept up a steady stream of conversation as they walked, talking about what it was like to work with Nighteye. The man was strict, which was obvious from his appearance, but had a streak of dry humour, laughing at the oddest things. When Mirio-kun had asked him if he could bring Izuku in- since he couldn't just skip out on his job now that school had started back up and his patrol hours had increased and Izuku couldn’t just be left alone for ten hours a day - the man had apparently gotten an odd look and agreed.
"He sort of looked like he was trying to see without his glasses? That squinty look, y'know?" Mirio-kun shrugged his shoulders, stepping off the train. Izuku followed, dutifully on his leash as they walked towards the office. It was at the top of an office building, taking up the upper two floors as well as the roof access. To have storage room and a small infirmary, Mirio-kun said. Izuku wondered why the man had an infirmary before remembering, well, Toshinori.
Sir Nighteye was the only one in when they entered, sitting behind his desk and speaking on the phone. He sounded harried but sympathetic, reassuring whoever was on the line they were making progress before he hung up. Izuku wondered just who it was, but didn't have time to contemplate it as the hero's attention zeroed in on him.
Nighteye blinked and gained a strange expression, leaning forward. He was a silent for a moment, taking him in, before speaking. "Midori-san, yes? Mirio's told me about you. Feel free to sit somewhere, so long as you don't destroy anything. Lemillion-"
The man gave Mirio-kun directions for his patrol, mentioning a crime family they were investigating, and quickly sent the teen off, leaving only him and Izuku in the office. Izuku trotted over to a chair, hopping into it and curling into a ball.
It was quiet, and he glanced around the space for lack of anything better to do. There was... a lot of All Might merch. Especially for a former sidekick. He turned back to the man, and the question must have been obvious on his face because Nighteye's lips quirked.
"I was a fan of the man before I started working with him. I still am, even if he's made idiotic decisions." He paused, hesitating. "You're living with him. Is… Is he still destroying himself?"
Izuku shook his head fervently, because he had been making sure the answer was no . Months of shaming the man into eating and taking care of himself had paid off, and he was looking less and less like a skeleton every day. Nighteye sighed, slumping into his chair and covering his face with a hand.
"Good. Good ." He snorted, shaking his head. “Unbelievable that it’d take something more helpless than him for him to finally shape up. Though maybe that’s it?” He cast a contemplative look at Izuku. “Having to take care of someone else forced him to pay attention to himself.”
Izuku nodded, because that seemed to pretty much be it, as well as having someone to shame him on an hourly basis. The man shook his head again and gathered himself, continuing to look at Izuku. His head was tilted and at this angle, the teen couldn’t see his eyes, hidden by the glare of the lights. It was almost… ominous, but he didn’t let himself become unnerved. Mirio-kun trusted him, so Izuku trusted him.
So long as he didn’t bring out the medieval torture slab Mirio mentioned, they’d be fine.
“Would you like a tablet? I should have one around here and Mirio mentioned you like to read.” Izuku perked up, nodding his head. The man stood and wow he was tall, must have been nearly as tall as Toshinori, rummaging around the office for a few moments. He finally pulled out a small tablet, fiddling with it before setting it in front of Izuku.
For the rest of the day he read up on old heroes, wondering at one named Flicker Vision. Associated with Okami and Crimson Riot, she was rumoured to have two Quirks thanks to the difference in her two powers. There was something familiar to her in the photos left of her, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Mirio came back around two and was put to work going through documents, sorting through information and determining what was and wasn’t “useful”. Then, when he was finished, Nighteye combed over them and pointed out things he’d missed, mislabelled. It was an interesting exercise, obviously meant to improve his analysis and information discrimination. Izuku kept a keen eye on it, though he knew-
Not for him, never, pointless, undeserved-
-it wasn’t useful, for him.
They finally made to leave around four, Mirio-kun hooking him back into his harness and making sure nothing would chafe. As they made for the door, Nighteye called out in an almost nonchalant tone that Izuku knew was fake,
“I look forward to meeting you again, Izuku-kun.”
(“If you don’t hurry as quickly as possible, he’s going to do something permanent.”
“I found him.”)
No no no no no this couldn’t happen it wasn’t happening it wouldn’t he’d stop it
“Izuku-kun? Or- is that your real name? Or uh,” Mirio paused, shifting as people passed them and stepped off the subway. “The one you want to be called?”
Izuku shook, didn’t answer. Hearing his name after so long- it was a shock, seemed impossible, was he sure he wasn’t dreaming, having a nightmare?
He flinched into Mirio as someone brushed him, and the teen crouched down and ran a hand down his back. “You’re shivering,” He said, tone surprised, worried. More worry. Wonderful. Izuku whined and shook his head. It was the best he could manage.
They arrived at the house after Toshinori, because of course they did. The man took one look at them, Mirio confused and Izuku having to be practically dragged in, and instantly switched to worried.
"What's wrong? Did something happen with O- Nighteye?"
Mirio-kun shook his head, eyeing Izuku, trying to smooth a hand his back. Izuku wiggled away, leash dragging behind him as he made for the kitchen. "They were fine when I came back. Then Nighteye-"
"-called him 'Izuku'-"
No no no n o he had to leave escape no
" Izuku? " Toshinori's voice was sharp and he spun around towards the dog.
Izuku broke into a dead sprint for the bedroom.
Toshinori shouted and Mirio-kun started running but he couldn't stop Izuku from ducking in and closing the door, leaning hard against it and scrabbling until he broke the knob-
But he could phase through the door and grab his hindquarters, stopping him from diving into the closet. Izuku squirmed and tried to break through as the two argued through the door and Mirio pleaded for him to calm down but he had to escape because they knew they knew and he couldn't stay anymore he had to dis a pp e a r
"Move Toogata-kun, I should be able to take the door off-"
Izuku ho w le d shook but he was too small too weak he couldn't break the grip he needed to
He gasped. Clutched at the carpet with his fingers and ignored the yelp behind him alarm signals in his head and rug burn underneath him. All he focused on was kicking , the shout and freedom that followed.
He was wobbly on legs for the first time in nearly a year, but he still managed to make his way to the window, throwing it open. Toshinori broke down the door just as he jumped out.
He didn't escape, because of course he didn't. Unsteady on his legs, panicking and nude, he couldn't go far and couldn't hide effectively. Mirio-kun caught him in no time as he phased through the walls of the complex.
Which left them here.
Izuku tried to keep his hyperventilating from going into a full blown panic attack, curled up in a towel. Mirio-kun was next to him while Toshinori was rummaging around in his room, muttering to himself. He finally cried out in triumph, coming out with a gargantuan sweater in his hands.
Izuku stared at it and the man offering it. It felt like the seal to the end, an agreement that he had been caught, would be punished discarded told to go ba c k
"Midori- I-Izuku-kun! It's alright, calm down, it's- it won't hurt you?" Mirio-kun reached out to him, trying to put a hand on his shoulder but he flinched so violently that the teen stopped in his tracks. He looked at Toshinori helplessly but the man only shook his head and set the sweater down, stepping forward.
Izuku made a long, drawn-out whine when Toshinori engulfed him in his arms, still huge for all that he was thin. Toshinori shushed him and dragged a hand through his hair, murmuring for him to breathe.
He did. It hurt.
None of them spoke for a long while once Izuku had reached some semblance of calm. Izuku avoided looking at both of them, mired in his thoughts, sure Toshinori would break the silence and tell him to leave-
It wasn't him to break it. Mirio-kun's phone went off, playing the theme to an old anime before he turned the screen on. His brows shot up as he read whatever was on the screen and he looked at Toshinori apprehensively.
"Yagi-san, Kuga-sensei's asking, er, if he can give your address to someone. To discuss some things...?"
Izuku realised it with clarity, remembered the man's Foresight. He didn't just make an educated guess at the curls and intelligence and name- he had Seen. And he was about to completely destroy what little the boy had left.
"NO!" The blonds jumped at his yelp but he ignored it shooting up to his feet looking at Toshinori desperately. "No please, I prom- I'll be good, I'll be useful, don't tell them I'm here. "
"Tell who exactly, Izuku-kun-"
" Don't call me that! " He backed up shaking, stared down at his hands and body- foreign, so foreign, when had it gotten big? Had he been this big before the attack? - and fought the urge to collapse. "Midoriya Izuku was pathetic, worthless, a Quirkless waste of space taking up people's time and a burden for everyone around him! I don't want to be that again! Midori is just a dog that helps you make sure you take care of yourself, plays around with Mirio-kun and Tamaki-san and Nejire-san!"
Toshinori and Mirio-kun gawked at him, something dark coming into Toshinori's eyes. "But- Izuku, you're human-" Mirio started weakly.
He sucked in a breath, something in him coiling. "I don't- I don't want to be."
They all jumped as steam exploded, Izuku's world tilting sideways and going dark. He sneezed as it cleared, revealing the duo staring at him wide-eyed and the sweater in a pile around him. He glanced down just enough to see his limbs.
He was a dog again. He fought the urge to cry in relief.
Toshinori kept staring at him, face unreadable. Finally, he told Mirio-kun, not looming away,
"Tell him I said it was alright."
No no no nonononono Toshinori why why I just want to help-
Toshinori shushed him. His hands didn't let up on their vice grip, keeping him in the man's lap. Even with how large he'd gotten he was still almost a lap dog, and it was easy for the man to hold him. He wished it wasn't that he could run hide not be-
Mirio-kun had left half an hour ago, reassured by Toshinori that everything would be alright, and he'd call him once things were settled. This was a mistake, as things never would be. They were just going to break down, ending in Toshinori- All Might alone, and him gone.
The doorbell rang. Izuku whined, trying to escape once more. In response, All Might shifted his grip, carrying him like an infant as he walked to the door. It felt- humiliating, and he only struggled more.
Toshinori tucked him into his shirt, head poking out under his chin. Izuku stopped moving out of sheer bewilderment, giving him a chance to open the door.
His mother's hair had streaks of pastel green in it, and the lines on his father's face had deepened. They both looked tired, worn down, desperate in a way he had never seen them. He knew he had caused it.
The four of them stared at each other, blinking, before All Might cleared his throat, stepping back. "Why don't you come in? I apologise for my appearance, I simply needed to. Er. Hold him still."
Tou-chan snorted, shaking his head, and they stepped in. As they walked, Izuku noticed- they never took their eyes off him. Would move so he was still in their line of sight as All Might lead them to the living room. He was finally released as the man sat on the couch, gently manhandled onto the cushion beside him.
They all stared at him. He cowered, wanting to hide his face. Nearly managed, but his paws had gone from oversized to proportionate in the last month.
"I-" Mama's voice broke. She covered her face, breathing in deeply. "Izuku. Is that you?"
His ears pressed against his skull. He couldn't look at either of them. It was answer enough. They both shuddered, something leaking from their expressions.
"Izuku, spitfire ," Tou-chan's face was- confusing worrying- "We've been looking for you so long. Thank the gods- thank you , Toshinori-san." He looked at the blond. "Osamu told us how you were the one to find him and take him in. Thank you, so much. We, we can't repay you enough-"
What? What? Why weren't they- why-
"It's not something you need to repay me for, Midoriya-kun. It was a blessing to meet Izuku-kun."
No, no what were they doing, why were they being so fake, lying? What was the point when he knew the truth knew he was a burden would simply stress them more why were they thankful -
"Izuku?" His mother gods, she sounded frightened worried already he was burdening them- "What's wrong? I- we know you're, you're stuck like this, but we'll make it work, I promise-"
He shook his head, couldn't answer. All Might placed a hand on his back and he barked, a sharp noise that made them all jump.
"He's actually not, Midoriya-san. And I believe..." Toshinori looked down at him, and Izuku had his chest pull tight as he realised Ah, that darkness was anger in his eyes . "Those degenerates you battled in court caused more problems than simply bullying."
The room held its breath before all at once his mother sighed, a deeply tired thing. The air grew colder as his father shifted, scowling.
"Of course. Of course they did." Mama whispered. She shakily dragged a hand over her face, inhale wet. "I-Izuku-" She shook her head, abruptly standing up. No one could stop her as she grabbed him, pulling him close. She still smelled like ink and tea, the smell of home and safety. He went limp on instinct.
"Izuku, I couldn't give a damn that you're Quirkless. I care about your happiness, and how you're treated. People treating you like you were less, like you couldn't do what you wanted- that's what's worried all these years, the idea of you being blocked from your dreams." She pulled back, tears finally falling from her eyes. "I was worried about your safety, yes, but you're your father's son. Whatever you set your mind to, you can do. It's others who would stop that."
Another set of arms wrapped around him, warm, bony to his mother's soft, and his father rested his head on his mother's shoulder, murmuring in a voice barely audible,
"When you went missing, Izuku, we thought we'd failed as parents to stop people from shoving their own opinions on you and making you miserable, and that killed us. That you're here, alive if not alright, means the world to us."
Izuku whined, sobbed as steam rose and everything went sideways and his line of sight rose, wavered. He wrapped his arms around his mother's shoulders, burying his head in her hair.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry-" Tou-chan shushed him, squeezed tighter, and they stayed like that, enveloped, crying.
It didn't feel like a weight had been lifted from his chest, or like he'd been lightened, or anything cliched like that. He simply felt like he could finally let go and stop hiding.
It was relieving.
Once in some clothes, they finally talked. Izuku was hesitant to speak, nearly silent the whole time, but his parents didn't seem to mind as they... updated him on what had happened while he was with Toshinori.
The court case, of course. Mama had filed a suit against the Musutafu education board, effectively blaming them for his disappearance and suspected suicide as well as years of neglect and encouragement of discrimination. It'd taken a pithy amount of time to settle thanks to the mountain of evidence and their own incompetence, his mother acting as their lawyer in front of the court. She was ruthless against the people responsible for her son's suspected misery.
They wouldn't recover from the blow of the trial for a long while, restructuring and employing new officials to make sure this never happened again. Even Yuuei was reinforcing its anti-discrimination policies, adding a history class on minorities and heroes' roles in supporting them.
And of course, there was the matter of Bakugou. One of the stipulations in the trial, once it had been revealed by terrified teachers and students his role in... harassing Izuku, was that he not to be allowed to apply to schools offering hero tracts.
They didn't consider it too harsh, considering all the burn marks he used to wave off, the flinching, gaslighting, Why don't you jump off a building and see if you have a Quirk in the next life-
They had loved hearing him try to justify saying that, after their peers had fessed up to hearing it. His father almost set the Bakugou home on fire when Mitsuki agreed with her son.
And finally, terrifyingly-
He looked at a picture of Midoriya Ren, healthy despite his parents' age thanks to their diligence. The little hair she had was an olive green, curling on her scalp. She looked like a fleshy potato, and wasn't really any sort of beautiful.
Looking at her felt surreal. That was his little sister.
“She’s so sweet, Izuku. Like you were as a baby. We-” His mother cut herself off, frowning and flushing. She cleared her throat a few times before Tou-chan finally sighed.
“We were terrified and worried about you and were less careful than we should have been. Always use protection unless you’re certain, Izuku.”
His mother smacked him upside the head, hissing while he laughed. While they fought Izuku kept looking at the picture, running his thumb over the phone screen. A little sister. Where were they keeping her? Their room, his? What were they going to do when she got bigger? When she needed to go to school, began to- to develop a Quirk?
“She won’t turn out like me,” He murmured. “She can’t.”
“About that.” He looked at Tou-chan, smiling even though there was a twinge of pain to it. “Izukkun, technically, you shouldn’t be human right now. The criminal who used his Quirk on you has an irreversible power- you’re not supposed to ever be able to turn back. We tested it.”
Izuku stared at him. That- what did that mean? How did he transform back then? He sat up, opening his mouth, before stopping, realising.
From his place in the kitchen, cooking what smelt like stir fry, Toshinori huffed and leaned against the wall, grimacing.
“Congratulations, Izuku. You’ve got a Quirk.”
The panic attack that followed that realisation was expected, but still depressing. No one said a word when he shifted back into a dog to try and calm down.
“So what now?”
Izuku yawned, lifting his head from where he’d been resting it on his paws. They’d left him in this form, since he was wrapped in the sweater still, and he was grateful for it. Toshinori was by the sink, drying his hands from washing the dishes. His parents were still at the dining table.
He knew what the man meant, and it sent a shiver of apprehension up his spine. He looked between the three and they looked back, pursed expressions and furrowed brows. What would they do? Would he go back with his parents, live in the cramped apartment and try not to feel useless, a burden as they tried to rebuild? Stay with Toshinori and be cut off from his family?
Stay with neither, and be abandoned?
“...We don’t have the space in our apartment for three people and a baby, much less three, a baby, and the tools necessary for Hisashi’s work,” Mama admitted, frowning as her fingers curled around her cup. “We’re going to have to look for a new apartment, possibly a house. Until then… I don’t know.”
“I’ll also admit, the idea of Izuku being gone is- distressing.” Toshinori smiled wryly, glancing at the teen. “You’ve gone and made me attached, my boy.” His eyes drifted back to Mama and Tou-chan, and his expression changed to a contemplative one.
He finally straightened, clapping his hands.
“I’ve got an idea, if you all will have me.”
It was surreal seeing his old room again, touching the walls and feeling the spines of his notebooks. He touched each and every little thing as he packed them into boxes. It was no easy feat, his movements clumsy and mind in disarray. He felt- uneasy being in this form now; the canine form was where he had found safety, some semblance of happiness, and it was what felt most comfortable now. But he needed to stay like this, for Mama, for Tou-chan. He glanced back at the door at the sound of babbling.
He paused on one journal, one he knew he hadn’t finished. The cover was charred and mangled, and he flipped it open to see words meticulously traced over and darkened from where they had smudged thanks to water. He read over the description of Kamuy Wood’s quirk, looked at the sketch of his costume. It went into the box with the others, placed at the very bottom.
He packed his room until bit by bit, it was collapsed into a hill of boxes, only the large furniture left. Looking around, it looked barren, hollow.
He could only hope his room at Toshinori’s wouldn’t look the same.
It was difficult being human again.
He wasn't having trouble with habits he'd picked up as a dog- no. They'd been inconveniencing at best, he wasn't judged for them or anything like that. It was simply- being a human, having people actually look at him and acknowledge him.
Having everyone look at him.
He was a celebrity after news of his parents finding him got out, news reporters acting delightedly surprised when they reported it. People pointed and murmured on the streets whenever he ventured out because Ah, there was the kid who started all this trouble, and wasn't it strange for how pathetic he looked-
He didn't go out much.
They were all uncertain around each other for a few weeks. Izuku didn't know how to act around his parents after this year-long slog of trouble, and they didn't know how to act around Toshinori with the (necessary) explanation of just who he was.
Izuku still didn't know how to articulate how the man doing that- struck him. He didn't need to, could have hidden that half of his life or even not offered his home, but he did. For Izuku's sake and his own to some extent, two more people he could be a person around.
So it was no surprise they were a bit awkward, didn't know how to maneuver around each other. Maybe that was why it took something- completely ridiculous for them to click.
Izuku yawned, stretching his forelegs into the air. Toshinori chuckled and pat his back, setting him on the floor while he went to the bathroom. It was early in the morning and they'd just woken up, sleepy and hungry. Izuku wandered out to the kitchen to wait for him, debating shifting back, but blinked at the sight before him.
Tou-chan stared at him, spoon hanging from his mouth and ice cream cartoon sitting conspicuously on the table. There was a pile of odds and ends on the table and he had a screwdriver in hand.
His father garbled something that vaguely sounded like "Hello." Izuku gave him an unimpressed stare.
"Is that ice cream?" Tou-chan shoved the carton in his lap, shaking his head. The blond stepped forward from behind Izuku, tone going more incredulous. "I- did you sleep at all last night?"
"The answer is no." Izuku jumped, looking at his mother. She glared at Tou-chan, making her way to the stove. "Hisashi, put that away and help me make a real breakfast. You two, help clear off the table, please."
Watching his father cook with a kicked puppy expression felt like it was pulled straight from his childhood, and he and Toshinori fought snickers while Tou-chan tried to say It wasn't that bad, he was going to sleep soon anyways.
“Is that why you ate half a carton of ice cream and were halfway through- a watch, I think?” Tou-chan sent Toshinori a betrayed look. The hero looked innocent as could be, right up until Mama started laughing and couldn’t stop.
They’d be fine.
He turned this way and that in the changing room, frowning at the fit of the reflection.
None of his clothes fit him anymore. It was a startling revelation when he finally tried to put on more than Toshinori's hand-me-downs, stomach showing in his shirts and pants hems riding up above his ankles. He'd grown in his time as a dog, accelerated for all that it was slower than natural for a canine.
He wondered if anything else was off. He still craved raw meat and had to fight the urge sometimes to bare his neck, instincts he could bury under panic and repression before. Uprooted as he was, it was more difficult now.
He sighed and tugged off the shirt, grabbing the next one in the pile.
Shuzenji-sensei was a well-known heroine, providing emergency help for heroes and civilians before emergency responders could arrive in her heyday and now serving as the nurse at the most prestigious academy in the nation. Izuku was nervous meeting her for multiple reasons, and unfortunately, admiration wasn't the largest.
She looked at him curiously as they stepped into her office. Smiled at Toshinori even though she was eyeing him a bit incredulously, and bowed her head at the four of them.
"Hello Midoriya-kun, Midoriya-sans, Toshinori- you're looking healthier than the last time you dragged yourself in here."
The blond chuckled sheepishly, tipping his head. "Ah, that would be because of Izuku here. He's been militant the past year on me taking care of myself."
Shuzenji-sensei blinked, turning back to Izuku with a contemplative eye. Whatever she saw had her nodding her head, turning to grab a clipboard from her desk.
"Alright. Toshinori, out! Patient confidentiality means you wait outside."
He went obligingly, leaving only the four of them. Izuku sat on one of the beds, tangling his fingers while Shuzenji-sensei puttered around.
"Midoriya-sans, go ahead and take a seat there- it will take me a few minutes to set this up. You're here to see how you are after your stint under that villain’s Quirk, yes? And if you have one yourself? I imagine after all that chaos this may seem a bit surreal."
He nodded hesitantly. After the past sixteen years it seemed surreal. She smiled kindly, unhooking a stethoscope from a hook on the wall.
"Alrighty, let's get your vitals first."
They went through the normal steps, Shuzenji-sensei making small talk with him and his parents as she moved around. It helped him calm down some, the mindless discussion of how the baby was, if Tou-chan was adjusting well to being back on the islands. When she pulled out the EEG leads he didn't even react at first, blinking when she asked him to lean down.
"These will measure your brainwaves- and your Plus Alpha levels." She explained. He eyed them warily for another moment before leaning over, letting her stick them on in seemingly random places. Then she went over to a panel in the wall and pressed a few buttons, screen coming on with a hum. He blinked at the lines on the screen, peaking and dipping at seemingly random.
Both his father and Shuzenji-sensei frowned at it.
"That level shouldn't be possible, should it? He's not doing anything right now."
"It could be some process he's not aware of," Shuzenji-sensei hummed. "Midoriya-kun, could you perform the, what's a good word- the inciting action? Whatever it is that may be tied to a Quirk."
He complied, shifting and having the unpleasant sensation of tape tangled and pulling on his fur. The adults made startled noises and when the steam cleared, they were all staring at the screen. One of the lines had gone completely flat.
Shuzenji-sensei looked back at him in bewilderment, sitting straighter when she saw just what he had done to cause it.
"Well," She murmured, "This is a first."
He yipped, tilting his head. She cleared her throat, shaking hers.
"Congratulations, Midoriya-kun. You do indeed have a Quirk."
A Quirk that let him switch to previous forms, was their best bet. Technically, he truly was a dog now, Plus Alpha levels jumping when in human form. They couldn't say just how it developed considering his father's and mother's Quirks, but it wasn't very important to him how it happened.
He had a Quirk . After years of harassment, ostracization, being treated like garbage-
He wasn't even what they hated him for.
The toe joint-
"Only indicative in cases where there is no evident Quirk in the first place, and in thirty percent of cases still fails to work as an accurate measuring tool."
It hadn't appeared before this-
"Specific conditions needed to be met before you could activate it, Midoriya-kun. Similar to Toshinori's in that way."
"You do, Izuku." He glanced at his mother, still trying to breathe . She smiled wobbly, tears in her eyes. "You have a Quirk, Izuku. It's horrible we only found out after all this, but it only shows that you managed to get as far as everyone else without knowing about it."
He sobbed. Shuzenji-san quietly left the room to give them some privacy. They could continue the examination after his world didn’t feel like it was breaking apart.
Nejire-san and Tamaki-san didn't speak for a long while. He avoided looking at them, curled up in his oversized sweater. Toshinori's, technically, but he had yet to try and take it back.
"You're like me." Izuku startled and looked at Tamaki-san without thinking, meeting his eyes. The older teen was frowning slightly but didn't waver. "You- you've got that shell."
"And we never thought you weren't a person already," Nejire-san tacked on, leaning forward, "Just one in a different package."
Izuku hesitated, licking his lips. "...You do- don't mind? That I never said anything?"
Mirio-kun snorted, finally speaking up from where he'd been curled up in the tree above them.
"You told us you could think and act like us, and that you were having trouble and needed a shoulder to lean on. Isn't that enough?"
It didn't seem so to him. Many things didn't though so he left it alone, leaning forward so Nejire could marvel at what was still the same for him as a human.
"What do you think about going back to school, Izuku?"
He stared at Tou-chan blankly. What he said didn't register for a moment and when it did he froze up, thoughts racing muscles pulling tight.
Hundreds of eyes staring whispers pity contempt a slow sink back to the old ways being isolated no one nothing no prospects no future no hope why bother when he could just grab a rope-
"Izuku, Izuku breathe, it's alright, c'mon-" Hands gently took his shoulders and pulled him against a chest, exaggeratedly breathing in and out until he followed the motions. He breathed, struggled until his heart finally calmed back down. Tou-chan sighed, passing his hand through green curls.
"I guess that answers that question."
He wanted to continue school but he didn't know for what but he needed to but the people the stares he couldn't-
Mirio-kun pat him on the back while he internally combusted and helpfully distracted him by popping in and out of the wall, making him snort at his game glitch-esque appearance. It was a welcome reprieve.
"Do you still want to be a hero, Izuku?"
He twirled the pen, staring down at the admission forms for placement tests, colleges- because Tou-chan- Tou-chan had said he might as well, with how much he had studied, how farther he had gotten in the curriculum.
"I don't know. Maybe?" He bit his lip. "The idea- scares me now."
Toshinori was quiet for a moment before he quietly said, "That fear isn't bad. Being one scares me too."
His parents were careful around him, but they weren't... They didn't-
They didn't act like he was glass. Avoided certain topics and maybe hid some things from him but still made jokes, scolded him for doing things like not cleaning up research sessions or laundry from his floor. Asked for his help with Ren when they were busy, and made sure he pitched in around the house.
Maybe that's why he settled into living with them again so quickly. They acted like it was natural, that barely anything had changed- and everything had, but they... didn't act like it was the end of the world.
He was still uncertain, still felt like a burden many, many times- they'd had to move house, they wouldn't have had to do that if he wasn't here - but he didn't feel like an outsider.
The pamphlets were laid out overtly on the table, proclaiming they could help families or individuals experiencing mental and emotional issues. He picked one up and thumbed through it for a moment before glancing around.
He wondered if going to a therapist would really help him. If he couldn't just- shove it all down maybe, act like he was fine until he was .
Toshinori had done that. And now he only had six people in his life, health that was only inching back to passable and a list of insecurities a street long.
He didn't want to subject his parents to that, put them through that sort of nosedive. Izuku sighed and nibbled at his lip, before calling out.
"Mama? Could we schedule an appointment soon?"
Toshinori coughed, flush on his face deepening. Izuku and his parents kept staring, because really .
"An assistant?" Izuku said faintly. Toshinori nodded, pulling out a stack of forms.
"Nedzu agreed to it, once I admitted you were the one primarily helping with my lesson plans and explained the circumstances." He smiled at Izuku's dumbfounded face. "He was impressed with your troubleshooting, I believe. And when I showed him one of your journals-"
"You showed him my journals?" He asked faintly.
"-He was willing to let you join as a student so long as you take placement tests."
The four of them sat in silence for a moment, stunned. His mother finally stirred, shaking her head.
"Toshinori-san that's- amazing of you, but that doesn't make any sense. Yuuei is highly selective, and Izuku wasn't even able to finish his last year of junior high. Your word alone-"
"-And Sir Nighteye's, along with Toogata-kun's, Amajiki-kun's, and Hado-chan's when they were asked about him, Hisashi-san's reputation, and his previous grades and a probation period." He smiled wryly. "This isn't on my word alone, Inko-san. It's merely that my request was seriously considered."
They contemplated that. Izuku blinked slowly, staring at nothing.
He was. Going to be a Yuuei student. Bakugou never would.
"Izuku, are you alright?" He blinked, looking at his mother. He didn't realise why she was alarmed until something wet hit his hand and he felt at his face. Ah, he was crying.
He sniffled and shook his head. He shifted, making them jump, then jumped into Toshinori's lap, shoving his face in his stomach.
The adults tried not to coo as they attempted to get him to calm down. They didn't succeed.
"...Do I have to say yes?"
"No," Toshinori said simply, "It's your decision. Whether you accept or wait to go to school again, we won't push you."
He took the forms.
He didn't go near Ren most days.
It wasn't out of any sort of contempt or anything like that. He simply... didn't feel that he should be a part of her life. Not a major one at least, not while he was- struggling.
But he didn't have a choice when the adults asked him to watch her, his parents dragging Toshinori off somewhere with determined expressions.
So here he was, sitting in the living room with her face up on the floor, surrounded by baby-proof toys. She wasn't focused on anything right now, wiggling like a caterpillar.
He squinted at her, warily eyeing one fist waving at him. She was dressed in an All Might onesie thanks to his parents using hand-me-downs, and it looked comical on her with its yellow antennae. Toshinori couldn't look at it with snorting.
He still couldn't keep a flush from his face at the memory of his parents pulling out his baby pictures last week. Just. Why .
Ren babbled, waving her fist more insistently, and he hesitantly extended his hand, letting her grab his finger. She did it and sat there contentedly, looking like a cat who'd just hunted down a mouse. He smiled despite himself, pulling back and shuffling a few feet away.
She shrieked when he shifted, steam billowing around them as he nosed back to her. She smelt of baby powder and milk this close, and he bopped her cheek with his nose. She giggled.
His parents and Toshinori came back to him curled around her, yawning as she napped against his side. The ensuing pictures were placed next to the ones Sansa and him.
He met with Nedzu again. It was slightly different as a human, now tall enough to reach Toshinori’s shoulders. The mouse smiled at him placidly as he sat, Mama going off to talk to one of the teachers, or maybe Shuzenji-sensei? He didn’t know.
“Izuku-kun,” The mouse said after he had passed him a cup of tea and rambled about recent events for a bit, “Do you know why I asked to meet you?”
He hesitated, trying to think past the cloud of ah, maybe it was to warn him off- berate him- punish- and come up with a viable answer.
“...Make sure Toshinori actually told me the terms of my probation?” He hazarded, garnering a chuckle. “Make sure I knew- knew harassment isn’t allowed at Yuuei?”
“That’s partly it,” The mouse agreed. He stirred his tea for a moment, quiet. “While Yuuei discourages harassment and bullying, we also encourage students to grow at their own pace and ensure they won’t be stymied. I wanted to make that clear before your supplies were given.”
Nedzu smiled, pulling out a large box and hefting it onto the table. Izuku peered in and blinked, grabbing the first thing on top.
The collar was shiny, a small Yuuei emblem hanging from a chain with his- student number? And name etched into it. He thumbed it, looking further into the box. A summer and winter uniform, along with a bag that looked like a small version of the ones he’d seen on horses in period dramas. A small notebook with a neat line of numbers in it and what looked like a key card, room numbers printed on it. He looked back up at the principal, smiling calmly like this was just run of the mill.
“Yuuei cares for its students, Izuku-kun. And I look out for those society has decided to crack.”
Toshinori seemed bewildered at the seeming claim by Nedzu, but shrugged it off.
“The mammal’s strange, but he won’t hurt you. Likely just force-feed you tea while talking for two hours about nothing.”
Izuku considered that, staring at his calendar from bed. Was that a good or bad thing? He supposed he’d find out over the next year.
A few days until they started classes, teaching. Izuku had to fight the urge to panic every time it came to mind, taking heaving breaths and shoving his head between his knees. Nejire and Mama helped when it was too much, ushering him into helping them bake or fold laundry, pick out clothes for some event they were going to or listen to them complain about Tou-chan and the boys.
He breathed, tried to keep form, and braced himself. He could do this. He needed to do this.
He wanted to.
It was a cloudy day.
Izuku huffed and shifted, glancing up at Toshinori. The man grinned, giving him a thumbs up. He turned back, watching the crowd ebb and flow on the train. They were ten minutes out from Yuuei, Toshinori's first day teaching and his tutoring.
He closed his eyes and let the rocking of the train soothe him, setting his head on his paws.
He was worried, fearful that things would go wrong somehow, but there was also a kernel of excitement in his chest. He was a Yuuei student now, technically. So long as he proved he was capable of keeping high grades he'd be allowed to stay, maybe even transfer to a different department.
It was surreal, unbelievable. Maybe not a sign that everything was going to be sunshine and daisies, but a step on the path to recovering.
Everything would be alright. He simply needed time.