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see the world hanging upside down

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The room they were being kept in was dark and cramped. Naked concrete was rough against Izuku’s bare arms. He was sitting on the floor, left leg tucked in and right leg out, back against the wall. It was dim enough that he couldn’t see the rest of the room very well. Not that he needed to. By his estimations, they had been there for four or five days—more than enough time to memorize the room they were trapped in.

The one thin blanket they had to share between them was wrapped around Izuku’s shoulders. It provided a modicum of comfort, and he pulled it tighter around himself, the rough texture unpleasant against his skin, but better than letting the chill set in too deep.

The connection to the concrete, as cold as it was, helped keep him grounded. He could not allow himself to get lost inside his own head, and he couldn’t afford to pay much attention to the pain emanating from his right ankle.

The villains had gone after their mobility as their measure to keep the two heroes-in-training from escaping. If they couldn’t walk, they couldn’t escape. And Izuku… well. It would be nigh miraculous if his ankle could be fully repaired after this.

Footsteps and voices echoing down the hallway caught his attention. He lifted his head, and a shaft of dinghy yellow light split the room as the door opened. It illuminated the drain in the middle of the room and the dark stains on the floor. People stepped into it, silhouettes, and they shoved another person into the room and closed the door.

Todoroki’s left leg couldn’t support his weight, and Izuku scrambled to try and catch him before he hit the ground. His ankle screamed in protest. He ignored it.

The other boy’s breath was labored. They remained there, in their awkward positions on the floor for a few moments, listening to each other breathe. Todoroki’s breath rasped in his throat and caught somewhere deep in his lungs. Izuku pressed his face closer to the other boy’s body, trying to listen better. His breaths sounded wet.

“I’m okay,” Todoroki whispered, voice breathy. Izuku shook his head.

“Bullshit,” he replied. “But you will be. Come on. This isn’t a very comfortable position.”

The two of them shifted to the back of the room, biting their lips and swallowing back pained noises as they jostled broken legs and various bruises and cuts and abrasions from the last few days. There was something wrong with Todoroki’s breathing. Something very, very wrong.

“What did they do this time?” Izuku asked, doing his best in the dim light to look over Todoroki.

“Same thing. They’re not very creative,” he paused to take a breath, “with their torture methods.” His eyebrows furrowed for a moment as he thought. “It seems like they’re less after… information now, and more just… causing pain.”

Izuku nodded, humming. “Do you mind if I touch your sides? You’re having trouble breathing.”

“I think they broke a couple of my ribs,” Todoroki replied.

“Oh no,” Izuku whispered. “Shit. Uh… complete or incomplete?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Go ahead and check.”

Izuku took a deep breath. “Okay.” He reached towards Todoroki and gently lifted his shirt. He couldn’t make out much with the light conditions, so he held the shirt up with one hand and gently, ever-so-carefully reached and touched first feather-light, and then more solidly, Todoroki’s side. The other boy hissed and clenched his teeth while Izuku carefully investigated the area.

“It doesn’t feel like anything’s displaced here,” he said. “The other side?”

“Yeah, check it,” Todoroki gasped.

Izuku didn’t bother with getting up and hobbling around to the other side, instead reaching across his chest. If they hadn’t already spent days locked together and tending each other’s injuries as best they could, they’d probably both feel more blushy and embarrassed about the positions and the intimacy of this process.

As it was, they were just tired.

Todoroki’s right side was, as always, cold compared to his left side. Recently, as in about the past twelve to twenty-four hours, the difference had started feeling more drastic.

“Your hand’s warm,” Todoroki ground out as Izuku checked his ribs. He hummed in reply, and then froze as he felt something. His fingers ghosted over the spot and Todoroki bit back a hiss. There was a depression underneath his fingers.

“Do your best not to move,” he said. “This one feels broken off.”

“Well, fuck.”

“We could try using the blanket to bind it,” Izuku murmured.

“That would require moving,” Todoroki replied. “And we haven’t quite gotten that far in class yet.”

Izuku nodded. “You’re right. We’d probably only make it worse.”

They sat there, quiet together, for a few moments, listening to each other’s breath. Someone was yelling outside their room, the voice distorted and muffled. No words were comprehensible.

“I hope Tenya’s okay,” Todoroki whispered. He had been a common topic of their whispered conversations, sometimes as they confessed a twisted wish that he was there with them, most of the time as they thanked whatever god might be listening that he wasn’t.

“The rest of the class will be taking care of him. And Uraraka, Tsuyu, Yaoyorozu, and Tokoyami,” Izuku replied.

“Yeah, the Dekusquad has his back,” Todoroki said. Izuku smiled and shook his head.

“I still can’t believe they call us that,” he said. “It’s all Ashido’s fault. She’s the one who started it with ‘Bakusquad’.”

They fell quiet again. Izuku focused in on Todoroki’s breathing. It wasn’t any worse, but it wasn’t better, either. He curled up into Todoroki’s side, careful not to jostle the broken ribs, and soaked up the heat of his left side as he wrapped an arm around him.

“I think you might have a fever,” Todoroki said. “You’re too warm.”

Izuku nodded. “Feels sort of like it.” Both of them were steadily running out of time. If their captors didn’t decide to kill them, then the broken ribs would. And if by some miracle Todoroki’s broken ribs didn’t kill him, then the infections they both knew were settling in would.

“So what dumb prank do you think Kaminari pulled today?” Izuku asked, trying to shake off the previous thoughts.

“Not sure,” Todoroki replied. “Maybe he switched around everyone’s shampoo or something.”

Izuku bit his lip as a thought occurred to him. “What if he put hair dye in Kacchan’s?”

“Then I would hope he doesn’t fear death,” Todoroki stated.

“Of course he doesn’t,” Izuku replied. “He’s pranked Aizawa-sensei.”

He could feel Todoroki shake his head. “Sensei wouldn’t. Bakugo? Would.”

Izuku hummed in agreement. “Yeah, you’re right. He likes us too much, even if he’d deny ever having affection for anyone.” He closed his eyes for a moment to listen to Todoroki’s breathing again. The room was quiet again as they both pursued their own thoughts.

At some point, Izuku managed to fall asleep, half-consciously curling up on the floor and using Todoroki’s thigh as a pillow. Todoroki placed a hand on his head, fingers threading through the curls of his hair. It was familiar, even as they were both sick and in pain on the floor of some sort of storage room in some sort of warehouse with torture-happy villains. Todoroki spent a lot of time playing with his boyfriends’ hair.

Izuku woke up sometime later, Todoroki’s hand still in his hair. He blinked the sleep from his eyes and shifted so he could look up at Todoroki’s face.

“Hey,” Todoroki said. His breathing sounded worse.

“Hey,” Izuku whispered. “How long?”

“At least an hour. Less than two,” Todoroki replied.

He blinked. “Did you get any?”

“No.”

Izuku reached up with his left hand, brushing the back of his knuckles against red hair. Todoroki closed his eyes, and Izuku reached around to cup his face with both hands, running his fingers through bi-colored locks as he tried to commit the feeling to memory.

The hollow, hurting feeling in his chest filled with dread. He pushed it aside.

“We should try to escape again,” he whispered. Todoroki opened his eyes.

“We’re hurt. Badly.”

“And if you don’t get the medical help that these villains don’t seem inclined to give, you’ll die,” Izuku replied. “I’ll die too, maybe.”

“Our legs. My chest,” Todoroki said. Izuku grabbed his left hand and wrapped both of his own around it.

“We do our best to stabilize your chest. Use the blanket. If we wrap my ankle well enough, I could carry you. We just… break the wall and run.”

“They caught us last time, and we still had useable legs then. How would we keep that from happening this time?”

Izuku sighed. “I don’t know. But we need to try.”

Todoroki was silent.

“I don’t want to do nothing and watch you die,” Izuku whispered. “I don’t want to watch you die here. And… I don’t want to die here.”

“Okay,” Todoroki whispered back. “As Kaminari would say… YOLO.”

Izuku huffed, amused. “Never use that word again.” He grabbed the blanket from around Todoroki’s shoulders and started tearing a strip off. Working together, they did their best to try and stabilize Todoroki’s chest. Next was Izuku’s ankle.

It was already wrapped in an old t-shirt that had been thrown in the room with them for that purpose. They didn’t unwrap it, unsure of whether they really wanted to open that can of worms—or rather, broken bones—at that time. Izuku could ignore the pain from the laceration on his back, had been for a while, but his ankle?

He’d just have to deal with it.

They wrapped it as tightly as they could. Izuku bit down on his shirt as they did and tried his hardest not to let any pained whines escape. He didn’t succeed. His ankle felt like something was burning it from the inside out.

“I think that’s as good as we’re going to get it,” Todoroki said. Izuku nodded and stood up, using the wall to brace himself as he put his injured foot down. He whined, but kept from crying out, as it took his weight. The next few minutes were going to be hell.

(It would beat spending the next few hours listening to his boyfriend struggling to breathe, listening to his boyfriend dying.)

Izuku helped Todoroki to stand. Their movements were slow and cautious, doing their best not to make Todoroki’s ribs worse.

Getting Todoroki onto his back was an interesting feat. They had to work around all of their injuries, but they managed it, and eventually Todoroki was situated as comfortably as conditions allowed.

“Ready?” Izuku whispered, injured leg still up.

“Ready,” Todoroki replied. Izuku glared at the door and activated Full Cowl. The green light illuminated the room and he charged for the door, ignoring the screaming in his ankle, and smashed it open.

Security had lightened up on them once their mobility had been compromised. There were only two guards in the hallway, opposed to the six there had been last time.

Izuku let Todoroki’s fire handle them and focused on running. This time, all that mattered was getting away, so he lifted his left arm and readied a full smash. They were going through the walls.

The recoil of the smash knocked Izuku’s arm back, but the attack did what it was meant to and there was a couple fewer walls between them and freedom.

…Even if there was now rubble in their way.

He switched to a different finger and readied another one. It was a large building, and unfortunately neither of them had any idea what the floorplans were like. It was probably also well out-of-the-way of most heroes’ standard patrol routes. Backup was unlikely.

Izuku would just have to keep running, then.

He heard shouts approaching. His feet, one bare and one wrapped, pounded against the floor. His ankle was one big void of pain.

Another flick, and another wall went down, releasing them into something that looked like a loading bay. They’d have to cross the whole room to reach the outside wall, and that room was not empty.

Todoroki’s fingers dug into Izuku’s shoulders. As they ran past a truck, he reached out and trailed his right hand along it, freezing it and throwing up a barrier behind them. It held as they ran. Izuku raised his hand again and let off a third blast, clearing their path and blowing open the bay door he had aimed at.

He gritted his teeth and forced the power gradient up another couple notches. He would regret this later, but if they escaped then at least there could be a later.

They dashed out through the broken bay door and into the early-morning twilight. The sky was just beginning to color in the east. At least they were still somewhat in the city and not in some remote shipping facility. There was a chance they might get help.

He compensated almost subconsciously for the way Todoroki’s weight shifted when he flung his left arm out to cut off their pursuers. Several of them cried out, unable to dodge the flames. Izuku ignored them.

Todoroki shifted his weight again as they ran out onto the road and Izuku turned to run towards the city. He shifted like he was about to send flames in to the sky—oh. A signal.

Hopefully someone would notice that giant fireball, if they hadn’t noticed the commotion. The heat from the flare washed over them as he pushed himself to keep going.

Engines roared as several villains on motorcycles blazed onto the road.

“Jump!” Todoroki shouted.

Izuku obeyed and watched what looked like a metallic lock of hair hit the road and sink in several inches a couple feet in front of them. Izuku landed a few inches beyond it and forced the power gradient up again.

He listened to Todoroki’s commands for when and how to dodge. The adrenaline flooding through him overrode the pain, even, somewhat, that of his ankle.

“When I say, turn and aim a smash for the one on the black motorcycle,” Todoroki said.

“Okay,” Izuku gasped. Todoroki’s weight shifted, and then.

“Now!”

Izuku took one more step with his right foot and turned his hips as he planted his left foot. He had a second or two to pull this off. The moment both feet were on the ground, he aimed and fired.

He didn’t wait and see. His weight shifted onto his left foot and he brought his right leg around. He pushed off with his left leg and was running again.

It looked like they might, just maybe, be able to make it.

A loud crack split the air, and something hit Izuku’s side. He fell. Todoroki fell with him. That couldn’t be good for his ribs.

His side burned.

“Did you really think I would be letting you two get away from me that easily?” someone asked.

Oh. It was him. The ringleader. Izuku shifted, searching for Todoroki. He was still on the ground, eyes narrowed with pain or determination. He moved, and quick as a flash, there was a wall of ice between them and the villain.

Izuku’s side was bleeding, and now he was having breathing problems too.

“Shatterglass, if you would.”

A crackling sound, and then a flash of yellow light as Todoroki’s ice shattered into thousands of tiny shards. Izuku started struggling to his feet.

“Do stop that,” the villain requested. “We’d rather one of you be kept alive. I could toss a coin. Periwinkle? You have a coin, don’t you, love?”

Oh, yes. The ring leader’s battle harem. Vague impressions of the members flitted through Izuku’s head. The one on the black motorcycle—that had been one of them. Now Shatterglass and Periwinkle. How many of them were there, again?

“I do,” a woman’s voice replied. Izuku did his best to look at them, to focus, to plan, to do something.

Periwinkle handed over a coin, her skin strikingly dark next to the ringleader’s. Her eyes were glassy.

The ringleader examined the coin. “What do you say? Heads, Midoriya, tails, Todoroki?”

“Sounds good to me,” A white-haired woman replied, her eyes similarly glassy. The ringleader prepared to flip the coin.

An arrow wreathed in golden light streaked in from somewhere behind Izuku, striking the ground between the villains and Izuku and Todoroki.

The ground shook as Ryukyu landed, placing herself in front of Izuku and Todoroki, facing the villains.

He turned, eyes searching for Todoroki again. Todoroki was having trouble breathing, but he was conscious, his focus on Izuku. Their gazes met for a moment.

“We did it, Shouto,” Izuku whispered, before blacking out.

Chapter Text

Five days before, Midoriya Izuku and Todoroki Shouto had gone missing. They had been visiting Todoroki Rei in the hospital and had vanished on the way back. Iida Tenya had originally planned on going with them, until a situation in the dorms had come up and his presence had been requested.

What they could piece together from video footage showed that a woman had approached them. She recognized them, and they interacted with her like they interacted with most people who realized that they were some of Those UA Students, until she showed them something on her phone. Both boys had masked their reactions well, but for someone who knew them well, the vague horror was obvious enough.

She left, and they followed her. Cameras kept sight of them for a few blocks, and then they entered an empty storefront, one that had been up for lease for a while. Sometime before then, Midoriya had activated the tracker on his phone. It had led them to the dumpster outside the storefront, where they had found both Midoriya and Todoroki’s phones.

The woman had been identified as Tachibana Kaoru, a twenty-three-year-old woman who had been reported missing by her partner seven months ago.

That was the extent of the police and pro-heroes’ knowledge.

Class 2-A knew even less.

The morning after Midoriya and Todoroki had failed to return, Aizawa gathered the rest of the class in the common floor of the dorms.

“By now I’m sure you’re all aware that Todoroki and Midoriya failed to return last night. There is an official investigation underway. I trust that by now all of you know better than to interfere yourselves,” he said, eyeing the group of teenagers.

“Is there anything more you could tell us?” Uraraka asked, arms wrapped around herself in a self-hug.

“No,” he replied. She looked down, her hair falling into her face. “Any other questions?” The class remained silent. “Good. Keep up in your classes. Iida?”

“Yes, sensei?”

“Talk to someone,” he said before turning and leaving.

Aizawa’s instruction left Tenya shaken. Talk to someone? What did that… wait. It was sinking in. Talk to someone. Unlike when Tensei got hurt. Let someone in.

“Oh, this fucking sucks,” Kaminari said. “Could villains stop kidnapping us for, like, a minute or two?”

“Inconceivable,” Jirou replied. “We are required by law to have at least two classmates kidnapped every school year.”

“That’s an awful law and we should change it,” Kaminari said.

Kirishima stood up from his spot next to Kaminari and Ashido and walked over to Tenya, who was watching the exchange.

“Hey man, I’m here for you, ya know?” he said. He reached a hand up to scratch at the side of his head. His hair was still soft, since Aizawa had called them together before he had gotten around to spiking it up for the day. “You can talk to me.”

“Thank you,” Tenya replied. “I just need to trust that the pro-heroes will find them and bring them back alive.”

Hagakure chimed into the conversation. “Yeah! You shouldn’t worry too hard, I’m sure the pros will have them back here in no time!”

“Yes, well, in the meantime, it is still Monday, and we still have classes,” Tenya said. “That some of you still have to get ready for.” He looked specifically at Kaminari, who was still in his pajamas, and Ashido, who was still in her pajamas and seemed to have dragged half her blankets downstairs with her.

“You got it, rep!” she said, hopping to her feet with as much pep as someone who was still half-asleep could muster. “Come on, Denki, don’t want to get class rep mad at us now!”

Kaminari stood up and followed her as they left to their rooms to get changed and ready for the day.

“Well, I gotta go do my hair,” Kirishima said. He gave Tenya’s shoulder an affectionate punch and grinned up at the taller teen. “Hang in there! They’ll be back before you know it.”

Tenya watched him walk away and then turned towards where Uraraka and Asui were sitting on a couch together. Asui had a hand on Uraraka’s back while Uraraka seemingly stared at the floor. He walked towards them and sat on the other side of Uraraka.

“Ochako?” he asked, letting the ‘how are you doing’ go unsaid.

“Hey, Tenya,” she said. She looked up. Her eyes were watery, and her smile was strained. “You know, you can talk to Tsu and I, right?”

“Of course,” Tenya replied. “And this is reciprocal: you and Tsuyu can talk to me as well.”

Uraraka’s smile became a little less strained. “Yeah. You’re a good friend.”

Tenya blushed. “Thank you. So are you. Both of you.”

The first day passed in a haze. Sometimes, they would turn to say something to Midoriya or Todoroki, only to remember that they weren’t there. They did their best to keep their spirits high. Tenya knew how dangerous kidnapping situations could be, but at the same time, it felt almost like both of them would be back that evening.

They did not return that evening.

Nor was there any new information available to them by the second day. Uraraka asked Aizawa during homeroom whether there was, and he told them some variation of what he had said the day before.

“I’m sure the pros are working as hard as they can,” Yaoyorozu said, smiling reassuringly at Tenya. He forced himself to nod back at her, even though he really just wanted to scream.

On the third day, the mood dropped like a rock into still water. It had been more than forty-eight hours since Midoriya and Todoroki had gone missing. And after their kidnapping unit a couple months ago, the whole class knew what that meant. A sharp and hollow feeling pierced through Tenya’s chest, and for a moment, it felt like he might tear in half with the force of his emotions.

And then, Uraraka was there, wrapping her arms around him and leaning her head on his chest. She didn’t hug like Midoriya did, and she certainly didn’t hug anything like Todoroki, but her touch was solid and grounding and warm, and Tenya didn’t feel like his hurt would tear him apart.

He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and let her presence ground him, keep him from being swept away into the world of fear and hurt and sadness lingering just inside his mind.

They sat with Asui, Yaoyorozu, Tokoyami, Shinsou, and Shouji at lunch that day. The rest of the school, while being aware of the increased security, wasn’t aware of why exactly it had been, and hopefully hadn’t noticed Midoriya and Todoroki’s absence. Well, maybe the first and third years hadn’t. The same couldn’t be said for the rest of the second year.

Hatsume and several of her support class friends approached them. “Where’s Midoriya been? We had plans yesterday, you know!”

“Uh,” Uraraka said. She closed her mouth and glanced around at their friends sitting around the table.

“We’d like to know where Midoriya is, too, so if you find him, let us know,” Shinsou said. Hatsume blinked and looked at Tenya.

“Iida, you’re dating him, also, where’s your other boyfriend?”

Tenya swallowed, his mouth suddenly too dry. “They both went missing on Sunday.”

“What!?” Hatsume slammed her hands onto the table and leaned into his space. “Why didn’t any of you dorks tell me this before now? You know we’re friends!”

“It is not our responsibility,” Tokoyami replied, seeming as unruffled as ever.

Hatsume sighed and straightened back up. “No, it’s not. Well. This certainly puts a damper on my make-Midoriya-regret-blowing-me-off scheme.” She fixed the students at the table with a strong stare. “One of you text me when you have news. I personally know at least three of you have my number, so you have no excuses!” She turned and left, her friends following her.

Three of them had her number? Tenya did, and Uraraka did, so who was the other one with her number?

That was a mystery for another day, though, because lunch was coming to an end and they had to get ready for whatever their afternoon activity was that day.

In the evening, Tenya found himself alone in his room holding his phone and staring at his contacts list. Kirishima had told him that he was available if he wanted to talk, as had Asui and Uraraka. Probably most of his classmates would gladly lend him an ear if he so asked.

His classmates weren’t the ones he was contemplating, though. There was one person who had always been there to support him, who always seemed to have some sort of answer even if all he could offer Tenya was his support.

So Tenya hit the ‘make call’ button and waited for his brother to pick up.

 

Shouta was having one of Those Weeks, and it had gotten an early start when two of his students failed to return to campus on Sunday. Todoroki and Midoriya had presented him with a dearth of challenges and problems, but very few of them came to this level of problem. Two brilliant and head-strong students had seemingly let themselves get kidnapped by someone with very little resistance, and Shouta could only wonder why. Why had they shown so little resistance? What, exactly, had Tachibana Kaoru showed them that had them so horrified, that prompted them to leave with her without putting up a fuss?

Furthermore, why was Tachibana involved? Every testimony they had about her said the same things: she was a wonderful woman. A dedicated and loving partner, an ambitious student and scientist, a kind friend; everything pointed towards her being invested in her goals and friends and family.

So why was she kidnapping two UA students? It didn’t make sense to Shouta. They were missing many, many pieces of the puzzle, and that filled him with unease. All he knew was that two of his students were missing… and that more of them might be targeted.

His phone vibrating derailed his train of thought. He glanced down at the screen, read the contact name, and picked it up.

“Go,” he said.

I just got done with one of the most emotionally draining conversations of my life.

Shouta raised an eyebrow. “I highly doubt that.”

You don’t even know what conversation I just had, Shou. Don’t judge it too soon.

“Then enlighten me,” he replied.

How do you comfort your little brother whose boyfriends are missing without letting your experience as a former pro-hero make you sound too pessimistic?

“I wouldn’t know, I’m an only child. At least he’s talking to someone.”

I have no idea what I’m doing!

“Do you ever?” Shouta’s voice was dry. Tensei knew him well enough that he would be able to pick up the subtle tone of joking.

Ouch, that cuts deep. How are you doing? …Hopefully not blaming yourself too much.

He sighed. “I know well enough by now that this was about as unpredictable an incident as they come. There are measures we could’ve put in place that might have prevented it, or they might have made things worse. What’s happened has happened. I know better than to blame myself for this.”

Just because your mind knows better doesn’t mean your heart does. Still, I’m glad to hear that you’re not beating yourself up over it. Hey, would you mind me stopping by tonight? I’d like to see you. Maybe I could say hi to Tenya, too.”

Some of the tension left his shoulders. “I would appreciate seeing you tonight. I think your brother would like it, too.”

“Alright! I’ll see you soon, then!

“Wait, are you coming right now? Tensei?”

Ugh. His boyfriend hung up on him.

 

Tenya’s phone chirped at him. He picked it up and a slight jolt of surprise prompted him to read the text twice. Why would Tensei be visiting UA?

Of course, sometimes, it was too easy to forget that his older brother was romantically involved with his homeroom teacher. It had led to some awkward interactions in the past, but to Tenya, Aizawa was his homeroom teacher first and his brother’s boyfriend second.

Judging by Tensei’s text, he wouldn’t be at UA for another half and hour or so. That left Tenya with plenty of time to keep working on his math problems.

He answered the next few problems without difficulty. He wasn’t someone that math came naturally to, but he more than made up for that with determination and study habits. The problem that tripped him up was one that Midoriya would understand better.

“Izu—” he had turned and half-called his name when reality came crashing back. This was their study time, math was the subject they studied together, just the three of them, and here he was, doing it without them.

He choked back the wordless roar that had been building in his chest, holding it for a few more moments while he grabbed his pillow and collapsed back onto his bed. He shoved his face into it and let go. It muffled his yell, kept it from disturbing his friends, kept his twisted-up, sharp and unevenly jagged emotions from reaching out and tearing at them, too. He tightened his grip on the pillow, pulled his legs up close to his face, tightened his control on his limbs and fought the urge to just… let them go. If he let that go, too, then he’d have to deal with the uncomfortable questions, with the shame, with having to accept how Tensei just… compassionately accepted this part of Tenya, the part of him that sometimes meant he couldn’t control his limbs, the part of him that meant that sometimes he hurt himself and didn’t even notice until afterwards.

Someone knocked on his door. Tenya took a deep, shuddery breath and looked up.

“Tenya? Kaminari said you were in here.”

His arms were tight as he set his pillow down, his movements jerky as he stood and walked to the door and opened it.

“That is an accurate summation of my location,” he said, and stepped aside to let Tensei wheel into the room. Tenya closed the door behind him and turned towards Tensei.

His brother was looking up at him, taking in his appearance and most likely realizing his anguish. Tensei had always been able to see through him and that simultaneously a great comfort and a huge frustration.

“You look like you need a hug,” Tensei said.

“That is also an accurate summation,” Tenya replied, and he sank into his brother’s grounding embrace.

Tensei’s hugs were tight and strong, and even when Tenya was at his worst, they kept him together. Almost as if they had done it a hundred times before, he found himself crying on Tensei’s shoulder while Tensei held him tight. His brother’s embrace was comfort, safety, family. It kept him from being eaten alive by his own unknowable emotions.

He let himself have a half an hour of his brother’s time before he pulled away.

“You can go see him now. I’ll be fine,” he said, and Tensei shook his head.

“I’m here for you, too. For as long as you need me.”

“It’s okay,” he replied. “I’m okay. Go see him.”

Tensei’s squint was full of skepticism. “Lies. You know, you’re just as important to me as Shouta is, and he’s not the one who’s missing two very important people right now. I want to be here for you.”

“I—” Tenya sighed and bowed his head. “Okay. I still don’t want to take too much time away from you. He’s one of your very important people, too.”

Tensei smiled, small and warm and a little exasperated, and gestured for Tenya to sit down. “Take all the time you need. It’s not too much, I promise.”

 

Thursday, day number four, dawned with brilliant colors painting the sky. Sometimes, like Thursday, Hitoshi woke up early enough to sit on the roof and watch pinks and peaches and oranges spread across the clouds, soft and hopeful. A year ago, he looked at those hopeful colors and the new beginning and thought of his own hope for his own new beginning.

And then Aizawa had transferred him into the hero course after Mineta’s expulsion, and dawns had become something even more sacred to him.

That morning, dawn’s hope was for Midoriya and Todoroki’s safe return.

The gaping absence where Midoriya was supposed to be was nothing for him compared to how it must be for others, considering they had known and been friends with the green-haired boy for much longer than Hitoshi. Even so, Midoriya was one of his closest friends. Irrationally, it felt as if without Midoriya, Hitoshi didn’t fit into class 2-A, didn’t fit into the friend group he had forged for himself.

He blinked and sighed. The colors were fading and clouds were rolling in, promising an overcast and eventually rainy day. Clouds and rain and dimmed light would be an accurate reflection of the emotions that afternoon when they changed into their hero costumes and gathered for their practical.

Hitoshi had never had the pleasure of being in All Might’s class before the events at Kamino Ward. Of course, even without the ridiculous amounts of muscle, All Might was still too damn tall and still commanded the attention of all of his students. His expression was just as unreadable as his hero form’s smile had been as he surveyed the class.

“This afternoon, we’ll be reviewing hostage rescue situations,” he said. “The scenario is this: there are two villains and three heroes. The villains took a hostage and have barricaded themselves somewhere inside a mall. The heroes’ objective is to capture the villains and retrieve the hostage unharmed. The villains’ objective is to run out the clock or incapacitate the heroes and gain three more hostages. Hostages can attempt an escape; however, if you choose to do this, you are not allowed to use your quirk to do so. In this scenario, the police and pro-heroes have already set a boundary around the mall, so escape is not an option. If the villains are feeling particularly petty, they may ‘kill’ their hostage, however, that means both teams lose. The teams will have five minutes to prepare, ten minutes on the clock to complete your objectives, a five-minute cooldown, and then the class will take fifteen minutes to review and discuss. Any questions?”

Yaoyorozu raised her hand, and All Might called on her. “How are you selecting the hostages?”

“Hostages have been selected by those who scored the highest last time we did an exercise similar to this,” he replied. “You will have a chance to see some action. We’ll be doing this activity tomorrow, as well, to give everyone a chance.” No one had anymore questions. “Alright. The first hostage is Iida. The first villains are Ojiro and Uraraka. The first heroes are Kaminari, Tokoyami, and Satou. Villain team, you’ll take your five minutes preparation inside the mall; heroes, outside. The exercise will begin on my cue.”

The first six headed towards their prep area with determination etched into their expressions while the rest of the class followed All Might to the observation room. Whether it was just bad luck and this lesson had been planned a while in advance, or they were doing this particular lesson because of Midoriya and Todoroki’s kidnapping, Hitoshi didn’t know. All Might—and maybe some of the other teachers—was the only person who knew, and he wasn’t telling. The class itself wasn’t chattering as much as usual as they all settled in to watch. Hitoshi, for his part, sat down between Shouji and Sero. Sero, sitting to the left of Hitoshi, was making inferences and guesses about how the match would go with Kirishima, Ashido, and Bakugou.

“If this was some sort of strength or power matchup, then yeah, the hero team would win, no problem! But Kaminari and Satou both have less subtlety than a brick to the face,” Kirishima said.

 “And Uraraka and Ojiro are both great strategists. They’ve got this, no problem,” Ashido agreed.

Bakugou scowled. “You’re forgetting about Tokoyami.”

Hitoshi tuned them out and glanced at Shouji, who was still sitting quietly to his right. The larger teen was staring at the screens, which were focused on the preparation areas. Uraraka and Ojiro were jogging through the mall, pulling along a tied-up and weightless Iida, while Kaminari, Satou, and Tokoyami were huddled together.

He sighed and rubbed his temple and tuned out the rest of the class until the exercise began. The observing students kept a running stream of continuous commentary and dialogue through the whole thing, keeping it going through the cooldown period and the discussion period. He hadn’t been planning on adding anything, really, but no plan survives contact with the enemy and all that.

“Shinsou, you’ve been really quiet. Do you have anything to add?” Yaoyorozu asked, and the class’s attention turned to him.

“Well,” he started, and paused to collect his thoughts, “both teams started strong. It looked like the hero team fell apart due to a communication breakdown, and, well, everything went wrong for the villain team when Iida kicked Uraraka in the face.” He took a breath. “Satou did great with his stealth, and I think he would’ve captured Uraraka if she hadn’t decided to throw the table at Tokoyami.”

“Satou’s ‘oh sh-no’ face there was god-tier comedy,” Jirou said. “Freezing up there kind of ruined what little was left of your plan.”

“Ohshino face?” All Might asked, looking at her. “That’s one I haven’t heard before. True, Satou freezing up there was unfortunate, but that will change with more experience.” His gaze turned to Hitoshi, who sat up straighter. “Shinsou, thank you for your additions. What do you think Uraraka could have done better after Iida started attempting to escape?”

“She could’ve prevented that in the first place by restraining him more securely,” he said. “As for her response, things probably would’ve gone better for her if she hadn’t released her quirk.”

“Hindsight is twenty-twenty!” Uraraka said, shrugging and smiling. “I’ll do better next time.”

“And on that note, our discussion time is up. All six of you did wonderfully and I’m sure you’ll be working hard. Now, to announce the next teams! Asui is the hostage, Kirishima and Aoyama are the villains, and Shinsou, Bakugou, and Jirou are the hero team. Go ahead to the preparation areas.”

Hitoshi took a deep breath and walked out with the other five students. He went through some of the breathing patterns and grounding exercises Aizawa had taught him. This exercise required his focus, and he couldn’t allow it to stray.

 

Naomasa’s team had been assigned Midoriya and Todoroki’s case. Several pros were working closely alongside them throughout the investigation, including Ryukyu, Kamui Woods, Mt. Lady, and Edgeshot.

It was Mt. Lady, Takeyama, who was with him on Thursday morning. She was wearing a jacket over her hero costume and the two of them were reviewing what they had on the investigation.

“Still nothing more, huh?” she asked, peering over his shoulder and reading the files. “Have anyone’s hunches turned anything up?”

“Not yet,” Naomasa replied. “Ikeda and Maki are still working on your angle, but a lot of young women go missing and we don’t have enough info to start narrowing things down.”

“I know that,” she said, her eyes narrowing and expression growing bitter. “It still makes a lot of sense to me. One senselessly missing woman shows up seven months after first going missing, just to kidnap UA students? She might not be the only one.”

He sighed. “I hope it does give us something. It would just be very nice to have something more concrete to go—”

The door slammed open.

“Sir! Cameras caught sight of Tachibana Kaoru! We have a team heading her direction right now. She’s with two other people and we’re running facial ID now.”

Takeyama blinked and met Naomasa’s eyes.

“Well, that might be your something more concrete,” she said.

The women with Tachibana were Kaga Sedzukiya and Asakura Mioki, both women in their early twenties who could be considered attractive by the standards of many men.

Both were missing persons. Asakura had been reported nine months before, and Kaga, three. Naomasa turned to Takeyama.

“I guess you were onto something,” he said.

“Call it a woman’s intuition,” she replied, winking at him and twirling a strand of blonde hair. “I’ll brief Edgeshot and Kamui Woods on our new information and keep you up-to-date with our next moves.”

That left Naomasa to inform Ryukyu of the new development: who was involved, their quirks, and where they had been spotted. The quirks in particular showed something disturbing. All three of them could be almost effortlessly harnessed and turned deadly. They might not be as flashy as those of many pros, and they might not be as powerful, but given a smart enough usage of that power and it could be devastating.

The day dragged on, gray and rainy, until finally he could leave work. It was raining, fine like mist, as he walked to the car. He had a stop to make on his way home. While he couldn’t say any specifics, he could at least tell Toshinori that they had some more information. As Toshinori’s closest friend (although the other UA teachers were starting to get closer), he had been spending a lot of time with him the past week. And as one of the detectives closest to UA, he had his own identification card.

Toshinori was grading written papers when he got there. He was using an encyclopedia as a makeshift lap desk and was marking with a green gel pen.

“Hello, Toshinori,” he said, and the other man startled slightly and sat up.

“Oh, Naomasa. I didn’t hear you come in,” he said, and Naomasa shrugged.

“I walk quiet sometimes. Anyways, we have some new information on the case. It’s not much, but it’s more than we had before today,” he said. Toshinori exhaled. He seemed to sag a bit as he did.

“Well. That’s good. Something’s better than nothing, of course.”

Naomasa moved one of Toshinori’s feet to make room for him on the couch and then sat down. “We at least hopefully have a general location. Anyways. Moving on. How was class today?”

Toshinori sighed. “It was… interesting. Several of them managed to kick each other in the face and I’m not even quite sure how, for a couple of them.”

“Teenagers are cryptids,” Aizawa said as he walked through the room while carrying a mug of something hot. “If you see Hizashi, tell him to give me back my sharpies.”

“Okay,” Toshinori said. “Young Bakugou did set a personal record for least amount of property damage during an exercise for himself, though.”

“Well that’s good,” Naomasa replied.

The two of them sat together on the couch for a while, each doing their own things. Toshinori had his grading and Naomasa read a novel on his phone. They didn’t need to talk. Just being in each other’s presence was comforting.

Eventually, though, Naomasa needed to head home. He put his phone away and reached over to set a hand on Toshinori’s knee.

“I need to go. Take care of yourself,” he said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Yes, Nao,” Toshinori replied, managing to sound both exasperated and grateful. “Keep me as informed as you can.”

“Of course,” Naomasa said. He stood up and left. Toshinori’s gaze didn’t leave him until line of sight broke, and then, with a sigh, he returned to his grading.

 

On Friday morning, Momo woke up and she knew, immediately, that the day was going to be awful. The week had already been worse than normal, and now she had to deal with cramps on top of training on top of two of her closest friends being missing? She popped a couple Aleve during breakfast, and hopefully by the afternoon the pain would be much more manageable.

Aoyama approached her between classes. “Are you not feeling well?” she asked, tucking a stray lock of blonde-and-purple-tipped hair behind her ear (she had dyed her tips purple the day after she came out and had kept the look in the months since then).

“I’ll be okay,” Momo replied, smiling at her friend. “Just- monthly issues.” Aoyama nodded, comprehension in her expression.

“Ah, then I’ll let everyone know that they can stop worrying so much!” she swept off, and Momo watched her walk over to where Jirou, Ashido, and Kouda were sitting.

“I don’t think everyone will stop worrying,” Tokoyami said from behind her, and she whipped around to face him.

“Oh! I didn’t see you there,” she said, blushing and ducking her head. “What do you mean?”

He frowned. “As a class, we are all worried about Midoriya and Todoroki. And you and Todoroki are very close friends. We’re worried about you, too, and how you’re handling their disappearance, although some members of our class may be unwilling to admit to worrying about people.”

“Huh,” she said. “We’ll, I’m flattered you all care, but I’m okay!” A lie. “I have faith that the pros will find them.”

She wasn’t okay. She knew herself well enough to know that.

Tokoyami tilted his head and blinked. His expression became unreadable. “If you say so.”

Momo wasn’t okay, because she missed her friends. She missed having Todoroki’s steadfast presence. She missed having Midoriya’s analytical mind and the time they spent throwing theoretical situations and potential solutions to those theoretical situations back and forth.

She missed the class’s completeness. She missed the atmosphere of determination and dedication and enthusiasm. They were still dedicated, and they were still determined, and they were still enthusiastic, but there was a sadness looming over them. The pros were good, she knew that, but they couldn’t save everyone, and she had to be ready in case the worst-case scenario came about.

She went to bed that night and Midoriya and Todoroki were still nowhere to be found. Every day that passed meant it was more and more probable that they were dead.

She cried herself to sleep.

 

Fuyumi remembered the day Shouto had come out to her, Natsuo, and their mother almost as if it were yesterday. The three of them were visiting their mother together at his request. They had entered her room, exchanged the standard greetings, and then Shouto had jumped right in.

“I have two boyfriends,” he had said. Natsuo had been taking a drink of water at that time and had spat it all over Fuyumi. Shouto had reached over to use his quirk to dry him off without hesitation.

“Do they treat you well?” Rei asked, and Shouto had nodded.

“So who are they?” Natsuo asked.

“Iida Tenya,” Shouto said, and there he had paused for a moment—probably for dramatic effect. “And Midoriya Izuku.”

Natsuo choked. “Well. Glad I wasn’t taking another drink there. Endeavor’s going to be… pleased.”

The conversation had continued from there as the three of them asked Shouto about his boyfriends. Fuyumi and Natsuo had met them both once, briefly, while Iida and Midoriya went with Shouto to visit Rei almost every other week.

And when Shouto and Midoriya had gone missing—on the way back from visiting Rei, no less—Fuyumi was the one who told her, probably because she was the emotional pillar of the circus that called itself the Todorokis. Endeavor certainly wasn’t going to tell Rei anything.

So, Fuyumi found herself visiting the hospital on Monday afternoon, her heart heavy. Rei seemed to know almost the second that Fuyumi walked into her room that something was wrong.

“What is it?” she asked. “Fuyumi. What happened?”

She took a deep breath, ran a hand through her hair, and started talking. “Shouto’s gone missing, him and Midoriya. It happened yesterday, while they were heading back to UA.”

Rei was silent for a moment. “He’s… missing.”

“Yes,” Fuyumi replied. “The police and pros will be doing everything they can. Whoever these people were, they made a mistake taking Shouto. He’s one of the best students in his class.”

“And Midoriya? He was taken, too?” Rei asked. Fuyumi nodded. Rei looked to the side with a pensive expression. “They have each other, at least.”

Fuyumi’s chest squeezed, and she walked over to where her mother was sitting in her chair. Rei, understanding her daughter’s intentions, stood up. They met each other halfway and embraced.

“He’ll make it back safe,” Fuyumi whispered.

That week, she went to visit her mother every afternoon. Natsuo came with her on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday, Fuyumi and her girlfriend both went. Not many people knew that Fuyumi and Ryuko were dating, but she hadn’t wanted to keep it a secret from her brothers and mother, and so they hadn’t.

“I’m one of the heroes assigned to Shouto’s case,” Ryuko said, taking Rei’s hand in both of hers. “I swear. I will do everything I can to bring him, to bring both of them, back safe.”

“You do that,” Rei replied, holding Ryuko’s gaze. “See that you do that.”

“I can’t tell you much about an active case, but we have some leads and a general location,” Ryuko said. “And I’ll do my best to make sure Fuyumi is called first.”

“Thank you,” Fuyumi replied, reaching over to claim one of her girlfriend’s hands for herself.

“Anything for you,” Ryuko replied. She lifted Fuyumi’s hand and gently kissed her knuckles. “My love, for you, anything.”

And she kept her word. Fuyumi was woken up on Saturday morning by her phone’s ringtone. She accepted the call and held it to her ear.

We just found them. They’re being taken to the hospital. Shouto was alive and conscious last I saw. I’ll give you a location and more information as soon as I can. I need to go, I love you.”

Chapter Text

Shouto couldn’t take deep breaths. His broken ribs were screaming protest at him and one wrong move could send the displaced one into a lung. This would be where it would end, then. The bastard who had them kidnapped would win, Midoriya would probably die from that bullet in his side, and if Shouto didn’t die here on this street then he would probably die later, when the rib finally moved too much or he succumbed to the infection.

That bastard had the coin in his hands and was preparing to flip it, preparing to decide which teenager would die then and which one would die later.

He didn’t have a chance to. An arrow flew and hit, Ryukyu landing right after it. She touched down and the ground shook, and Shouto turned his attention back to Midoriya. A few moments later, Midoriya himself shifted around to meet Shouto’s eyes. He whispered something and then Shouto’s heart froze as his eyes rolled back and he went limp.

“Nonononono,” Shouto whispered, tensing and preparing to drag himself over to Midoriya’s side. He had to be breathing. He had to be. Shouto didn’t know what he would do if he wasn’t.

“Yes! Confirming, that’s our location! And we need ambulances here now!” Paladin, one of Ryukyu’s sidekicks, was barking into a headset. Her black hair was slowly escaping the headband holding it back and she was still holding her bow. “Todoroki, stay put!”

“Izuku,” he gasped. “Is he?”

“Stay there and I’ll find out,” Paladin ordered, running by him and skidding into a kneeling position next to Midoriya. “What’s the ETA on that ambulance?”

“Paladin!”

Shouto and Paladin’s attention turned to the new arrival dropping out of the sky. His landing more rushed than usual, Pensano stumbled to a stop next to Paladin and Midoriya.

“Gunshot wound to the lung,” Paladin snapped, pointing to Midoriya and getting out of Pensano’s way as he took her spot. He removed the remains of Midoriya’s shirt with quick and sure motions and grabbed a packet with something in it from one of the pockets on his belt. He ripped open the packet and carefully covered the wound with an occlusive dressing.

“Medical team’s ETA is six minutes,” Paladin said, and Pensano nodded. Paladin turned, yellow one-shoulder cape flaring behind her, and strode over to Shouto. “What are your injuries?”

“My left leg, the tibia’s broke right below the knee, and I have at least three broken ribs, one displaced,” he replied. “Those are the big ones.”

A shout from over by the fight distracted both of them.

“You three pursue! I’ll stay here with them!” Mt. Lady shouted. Edgeshot, Kamui Woods, and Ryukyu all nodded and chased the retreating villains. When had the other three gotten there?

Everything after that devolved into an incoherent blur. He was on the ground. And then he was in an ambulance. And then, he was asleep.

 

He woke up in a hospital bed. Consciousness returned, in bits and pieces, until finally he was cognizant. The first thing he noticed was how bright it was.

The second thing he noticed was Fuyumi. She was sitting in the chair next to the bed, her hair pulled back into a high bun while she worked on her laptop. He moved, trying to get his hands under him so he could sit up more, and she reached over and gently put her hand on his chest.

“Don’t, yet,” she said. “Your ribs aren’t fully healed and the doctors don’t want you moving around much until they’ve given you the all clear.”

He sighed as best as he could and relaxed back onto the bed, which had been raised so he had been sleeping in a semi-sitting position.

“Izuku?” he asked, and she blinked and moved the hand that had been on his chest so she could hold his.

“Still in the ICU,” she replied.

Shouto blinked and looked away.

“What day is it?”

“It’s Saturday, almost seven in the evening,” she replied, squeezing his hand. “If you’re up for it, I hear your classmates would like to visit, tomorrow.”

“All at once?” he asked, trying to keep the flutter of anxiety at that thought from being readable. Fuyumi paused for a moment and shook her head.

“No, a few at a time. We don’t want to overwhelm you. And you can say no if you want to,” she said.

“Tenya. And Yaoyorozu, Uraraka, Tsuyu, Shinsou, and Tokoyami. Just them?” he replied, and she nodded.

“I’ll make sure to pass the message along. Oh, and Natsuo will be here in a few minutes,” she said. “He’s bringing your phone, too.”

Shouto nodded and started absent-mindedly rubbing the blanket between his fingers. It would be good to see Natsuo, and with luck, maybe he’d be out of the hospital in a few days.

“Oh! And Detective Tsukauchi needs to interview you. But not before you’re ready,” she said. She hesitated, her mouth opening as if to speak, before she closed it, and then opened it again. “You need to make sure you take care of yourself. Promise me. You need to give yourself time to heal from this, so promise me you won’t be too hard on yourself.”

He took a breath. “Okay. I won’t, I promise.”

Natsuo arrived a few minutes later, knocking on the door and then entering.

“Shouto!” he greeted and grinned at his younger brother. “It’s good to have you back. I brought you your phone.” He held the device out, and Shouto retrieved it.

“Thank you,” he replied.

“No problem,” Natsuo said. He walked around to be on the other side of the bed from Fuyumi and reached over to hug him, being gentle and careful for Shouto’s injuries. “Please try not to get kidnapped again.”

“I’ll try,” he replied. His phone felt heavy, and he turned it over in his hand as he ran his fingers over the smooth plastic of the blue case. He turned it on and unlocked it. A whole mess of unread messages greeted him, most of them from the Sunday night that he and Midoriya had been taken.

He cleared them and then opened his conversation with Iida. He was about to start typing when he halted, fingers hovering over the keyboard.

How did you start this conversation?

[me]

19:03

I’m okay. Natsuo brought me my phone.

He set his phone down and took as deep a breath he could and held it for a moment before letting it out in a long whoosh. His phone vibrated.

[Tenya]

19:03

I’m so glad you’re okay.

 

His phone rang at six thirty in the morning. It woke both Shouta and Tensei, and Shouta reached over to the nightstand to grab it. He glanced at the name and then picked up.

“This better be worth waking me up early on a weekend for,” he growled.

“Todoroki and Midoriya have both been found and taken to the hospital. They’re both being prepped for surgery as of… two minutes ago.”

Shouta took a deep breath. “Okay. Call me when they’re conscious. And keep me updated.”

“Will do.”

 

 

 

Tsukauchi hung up on him and he set his phone back on the table. “They’ve found them. Both are going into surgery.” He heard Tensei sigh behind him, and then felt his boyfriend’s fingers start working their way through his hair, detangling knots and just feeling nice.

“That’s good,” Tensei said. Shouta closed his eyes and relaxed into his touch. After he worked his way through the knots, Tensei switched to massaging his scalp, and if Shouta was physically capable of purring, he would be as he leaned his head into the touch.

“Tsukauchi only said that they were going into surgery,” he murmured. “That could leave any number of issues.”

Tensei hummed. “They’ve been found. Things could still go wrong, sure, but it’s looking a lot better than it did yesterday.” He stopped in his ministrations and Shouta made a noise of protest. Tensei put his right hand back on Shouta’s head and reached over to grab his phone. “I should probably let Tenya know that his boyfriends are at least alive.”

“Yeah.” Shouta closed his eyes and stretched, long and slow and taking the time to stretch out every muscle while Tensei texted his brother.

“Are you planning on heading to whichever hospital they’re at?” Tensei asked, setting his phone back down and sitting up.

“When they wake up,” Shouta replied, following suit and stretching his arms up over his head. Tensei’s phone buzzed and snorted at what he saw. Shouta turned and looked at him.

“I don’t think you have to worry about telling 2-A, since it looks like Tenya already has,” he said, handing his phone over so Shouta could see.

[Tenya]

Received: 06:42

Oh thank god

I hope it’s okay but I already posted it in the group chat for the class and that didn’t mess up whatever plans for telling sensei had

Shouta rolled his eyes. “Let him know there’s nothing to worry about.” He handed the phone back to Tensei, who texted what was presumably that message to Tenya.

The two of them went through the morning routine they had established for the times Shouta had spent the night. It had changed slightly over the years, but it was still familiar and with that familiarity came comfort.

It was mid-morning the next time Tsukauchi contacted them. He texted Shouta.

[Tsukauchi]

Received: 10:12

Todoroki is out of surgery. Still unconscious. There were no complications. Midoriya is still in surgery.

[me]

Sent: 10:12

any specifics?

[Tsukauchi]

Received: 10:13

You’ll have to ask after them yourself.

Tsukauchi texted them a location, and Shouta sighed.

“Looks like I’m going to the hospital after all,” he said.

 

Inko’s week had to be some sort of punishment for a transgression she had committed in a past life. That was the only reason she could think of as to why it had simply been so awful, and she was more than ready to curl up in her bed, cry, and then sleep for maybe a month or two.

It had started on Sunday night, when Iida Tenya had called to ask if she had heard from Izuku and Todoroki recently. Izuku had texted her when they were on their way back to the dorms, and she told him such, and that was when she found out that they hadn’t made it back.

When their phones were discovered and the two of them were officially declared missing, well. That was when the week took a sharp turn directly towards hell. Her son was missing, several of her patients were some stripe of awful, her phone broke and she had to replace it, and to top it all off, she had been called in to cover one of her coworker’s shifts. Specifically, one of her coworker’s graveyard shifts.

She was in the process of dealing with one of the patients-from-hell when one of her coworkers told her the manager needed to see her. She frowned, thanked them for informing her, and left them with the patient with a small bit of relief. It would be nice to be away from that patient’s thinly-veiled disparaging remarks.

The manager looked up as Inko entered.

“Oh, Midoriya, good. I just got a call from another hospital—your son’s been located and taken there for treatment. You can have the rest of today and tomorrow off,” he said, and Inko could’ve collapsed with relief.

“Thank you,” she said, and took a piece of paper he handed her.

“Here’s the hospital he was taken to. I’ll see you on Monday,” he said, and she left after saying the proper good-byes.

Izuku had been found. It had been almost an entire week, and Izuku had been found. What sort of treatment was he needing? The year and a half she had spent as first a trauma nurse, and then an ER nurse (before Hisashi had left, before Izuku’s diagnoses, before she couldn’t handle the stress anymore) gave her no shortage of possibilities for what Izuku might be facing.

She changed out of her scrubs in record time and was on her way, riding the train across the city towards the hospital where her son, and presumably Todoroki as well, were being treated.

A nurse took her to a small, private room.

“Please have a seat,” he said. They both sat. “Your son was admitted at 6:17 and he’s currently in surgery. He came in with a gunshot wound to the chest, a comminuted bimalleolar fracture in his right ankle, and various other smaller injuries including an infected laceration on his back. As a result of the gunshot wound, he developed a hemopneumothorax. Do you need any clarifications?”

“No, I’m a nurse,” she replied, her body suddenly feeling very far away. “Can you tell me… anything about how it’s going?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m going to be honest, it’s touch and go. We have several surgeons with powerful healing-related quirks on our staff, so it’s better than it could be, but still uncertain. We will keep you informed of updates to his situation.” He gave her directions to a waiting room.

Her suspicions about Todoroki were correct when she walked into the waiting room and found a woman with distinctive red-and-white hair sitting next to Ryukyu. The two of them were holding hands, which registered as somewhat noteworthy in a distant corner of Inko’s mind.

“Ah, Mrs. Midoriya?” Fuyumi asked, standing up while Inko nodded. “I’m Todoroki Fuyumi. I… wish we could be meeting under better circumstances.”

“Midoriya Inko,” she replied. “Although I guess you already knew that.”

Fuyumi nodded, and then twitched as if suddenly remembering something. “Oh! Ryuko, oh, uh…” she trailed off, and Ryukyu stood.

“I was one of the heroes on your son and Shouto’s case. I’m also Fuyumi’s girlfriend,” she said. “Tatsuma Ryuko.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Inko said, and the three of them sat down together. Waiting room limbo was slightly better with company, especially once the three of them found a topic they could all talk about together.

Mid-morning, another nurse walked in and grabbed the attention of Fuyumi and Ryukyu.

“Todoroki Shouto is out of surgery,” she said. “You can see him now if you would like, although he is still unconscious and most likely will be until this evening.”

Fuyumi exhaled, slow and measured. “Okay.” She stood up and turned to look at Ryukyu. “Are you coming?”

Ryukyu thought about it a moment. “If Mrs. Midoriya’s alright with it, I’d like to stay here until we hear about Midoriya’s condition.”

“I’m okay with that,” Inko said, fighting back tears. She had just met Ryukyu, and already the hero was offering to wait with her while her son was in surgery. It was funny how that was the thing driving her to tears, although she had cried enough at the beginning of the week that she had been doubting if she had any left.

Fuyumi and the nurse left, leaving Inko and Ryukyu in the waiting room. Conversation stilled for a bit until Ryukyu spoke up.

“Pardon me if it’s insensitive, but could you tell me about your son? I’d like to know more about him,” she said. And if there was one topic Inko could easily go on and on about, it was how much she loved her son.

Conversation had turned to Ryukyu’s sidekicks and what they were like when another person entered the waiting room, both of them turned to the door, expecting a nurse or surgeon (and steeling themselves for the worst) but the person who entered was most decidedly neither a nurse nor a surgeon.

Aizawa walked in, wearing a muted blue hoodie, and sat down rather unceremoniously near-but-not-next-to Inko and Ryukyu.

“Oh,” Inko murmured. “Mr. Aizawa. Hello.” He blinked in her direction.

“Mrs. Midoriya. Ryukyu.”

“Eraserhead,” Ryukyu replied. “I suppose I should’ve been expecting you to show up sooner or later.”

“It would be the rational thing,” he replied. The three of them sat in silence for several moments. Buzzing from the lights, from the machines, from the general existence of the hospital filled Inko’s ears. It was crescendoing, building in strength as she sat there until it was almost painful.

“Have you already been filled in on his condition?” she asked instead of letting the humming increase. He nodded in reply and within moments she found herself fidgeting in her seat. Ryukyu looked at her, golden eyes discerning, and chose a topic seemingly at random.

“So do either of you have any novel recommendations? I’m looking for some new books to read.”

 

The next person to enter their purgatory was the surgeon. She walked in, shoulders back and shadows in her eyes, but Inko could tell from the set of her mouth how it had gone. Surgeons like this one often had their ‘patient died’ frown and their ‘bad news but not dead’ frown, and after years of working in a hospital, Inko could somewhat reliably tell the difference.

“Are you all here for Midoriya Izuku?” she asked, and they all affirmed. “My name is Kaneshiro Sayami. I was the lead surgeon operating on him. He’s currently in serious but stable condition, and while we’re confident he’ll regain consciousness within the next couple of days there’s always the slim chance that he won’t.”

Inko nodded, and Dr. Kaneshiro continued.

“He’s intubated and receiving a blood transfusion. If you’re ready to see him, I can call a nurse and have them take you to his room.”

“Yes, please,” Inko replied, and Dr. Kaneshiro left the room.

The nurse that had first spoken to Inko returned a few moments later. He had changed scrubs since the last time she saw him.

“Mrs. Midoriya and company,” he said. She stood up, and finally thought to check the name badge he was wearing. His name was Chabashira Yoru. He led the three of them from the waiting room to the ICU and eventually, they found themselves outside a hospital room.

“I’ll wait out here,” Ryukyu said.

“Yeah, me too,” Aizawa added, and Inko nodded. She opened the door and entered the room.

Izuku’s freckles stood out against his ashy skin. Just like Dr. Kaneshiro had said, he was intubated, and there was an array of machines attached to him. Her breath caught in her chest as she walked towards him, the hiss and click of the ventilator filling her ears.

There was a chair next to the bed. She sat down in it and, with bated breath, reached out and wrapped her fingers around his hand.

His skin was too warm. Then again, he did have an infection, so it wasn’t unsurprising. But his hand was there: solid, warm, alive, there. He was there.

Her son was alive. He had been found and brought back to her.

She gripped his hand and cried.

 

Ochako woke up at seven on Saturday morning to the sound of someone banging on her door with a wild fervor.

“Ochako! Ochako, wake up, check your phone!” Ashido yelled through the door.

She groaned and dragged a hand over her face, the soft fabric of her night-gloves soothing. What was so important that couldn’t wait for her to wake up naturally?

So she checked her phone, and proceeded to almost drop it on her face when she read the messages. She was out of bed and out of her pajamas and into shorts and a t-shirt at a speed that would make Iida jealous.

Ashido was still standing outside her door when she opened it. The pink-haired girl was yelling down the hallway to Jirou and stopped when Ochako opened her door.

“You’re up! Did you see it? Did you see it?” Ashido started jumping in spot.

“Where’s Tenya?” she asked instead, moving past Ashido. The other girl followed her, still exuding excitement.

“He’s downstairs! Tsu and Fumikage were with him!”

“Thanks!” Ochako replied.

Jirou and Ashido followed her downstairs, and sure enough, there was Iida, although there were more people than just Tsuyu and Tokoyami around him. Most of the class was there.

“Tenya!” she called, and like the Red Sea, the crowd of students parted before her as she ran towards him and leapt at him. Without hesitation, he caught her, and she wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his shoulder.

“Is it true?” she asked. “Are they really okay?”

“Tensei wouldn’t lie,” he replied.

More arms wrapped around the two of them—Tsuyu and Yaoyorozu were joining the hug.

“This is so pure,” someone in the crowd—probably Kaminari or Kirishima—stage-whispered.

“We’re probably not going to be allowed to see them until they wake up,” Iida said as the four of them pulled apart. Shinsou, Tokoyami, and Aoyama were standing just off to the side.

“That’s okay!” Ochako replied, her heart lighter than it had been in days. “They’re safe. That’s what matters!”

The class had calmed down as the day progressed and they heard no more news since Iida’s brother that morning. It was evening, and Ochako, Iida, Tsuyu, and Shinsou were cleaning up after dinner together. Washing and drying and putting away dishes and making sure all the counters and floors and tabletops were clean was soothing, the repetitive motions and friendly presences giving them something to put their mind to that wasn’t worry over their friends.

Iida’s phone chimed while he was drying a pot and, oh, they hadn’t heard that particular text tone in a week. He set the pot down on the counter with a snappy motion and pulled his phone out of his pocket. His fingers tapped rapid-fire against the screen as he composed a reply and his eyes grew watery.

“That was Shouto,” he said, his voice soft. He was staring at his phone, eyes wide and tears beginning to leak out. Todoroki’s specific text tone chimed again.

A moment later and Ochako was pulling out her own phone and texting Todoroki, too. And then they had to turn off notifications for a bit, once he messaged the class chat and it exploded into activity. Everyone was ecstatic to hear that he was, for the most part, okay. It was nice, too, being able to at least chat with him and know that their missing classmates have been retrieved.

At least, it was nice until Jirou posed the question.

[goth gf]

19:54

okay but todoroki, where’s midoriya? i’d think he’s have his phone back too since you have yours

[katy perry song]

19:54

I’d like to know the answer to that question too

Nvm just asked Fuyumi and she says he’s still out

[Space Goddess]

19:55

Okay well he should be waking up soon at least?

Conversation halted as Todoroki took his time to reply. Ochako stared at her last message while the animation indicating that he was typing went.

[katy perry song]

19:58

Idk he was pretty hurt. He might be out for a while. I haven’t heard much.

She glanced at Iida out of the corner of her eye. He was gripping his phone tightly in one hand, the other one wrapped around his upper arm. Behind his glasses, his eyes were closed.

“Hey.” She walked over to him and placed her hand over his forearm. “He’ll be okay.”

 

 

“Are you still reading the chat, Ochako?” Shinsou asked. “Shouto just said that Izuku got shot.”

“What!?” she whipped around, eyes wide, her stomach dropping to the floor. “He what?”

Shinsou’s purple eyes were just as wide and worried as she met his gaze.

 

Fuyumi watched Shouto set his phone back down on his lap. He let his hands rest there, too, and after a moment, curled them into fists. Something in her chest jolted, and she reached over to lay one of her hands over one of his.

“Shouto,” she said. He glanced up at her, his grey eye peering at her through a veil of hair. He’d be growing it out for almost five months. “I’ll do my best to make sure you can see Midoriya as soon as possible, okay?”

“Okay,” he whispered, sounding more vulnerable than she’d heard from him in a very long time.

Natsuo leaned over, a smirk on his lips and a mischievous light in his eyes.

“Hey,” he said, “we could always smuggle you into his room.”

“No!” Fuyumi said. She glared at him. He stuck his tongue out at her.

“Hey Shouto,” he asked, “you down for being smuggled?”

Shouto sat quietly stunned for several moments. “Uh… sure?”

“Two against one, Yumi, we win and I smuggle him in tonight,” Natsuo said. Fuyumi rolled her eyes.

“Honestly,” she muttered. “You boys.”

“Aww,” Natsuo pouted, batting his eyes at her. That puppy-dog expression had stopped working on her years ago, and he knew it, the jerk.

“We’re not smuggling him into Midoriya’s room and that’s it,” she said. Natsuo sat back and shrugged at Shouto.

“Sorry, baby brother, looks like I’m not smuggling you!”

Shouto shrugged one shoulder and turned his phone over to check the screen.

Someone knocked on the door and it opened before any of them could reply. Ryukyu ducked into the room.

“Hey,” she said. “Detective Tsukauchi was wanting to know when Shouto woke up.” She turned her focus to Shouto. “He needs to interview you, but it doesn’t have to happen until you’re ready.”

“If he’s here now, I can do it now,” Shouto replied, looking up from his lap.

“Are you sure?” Fuyumi asked. Her gaze locked in on his face, reading every micro expression he had.

“As sure as I can be,” he replied.

Ryukyu nodded and turned back to the door. “I’ll let him know.” She left. The three siblings sat in near-silence, disturbed only by the sounds of the machines attached to Shouto and the general hospital noises around them, until Ryukyu returned with Tsukauchi in tow.

“I’m guessing you three would like to remain here while I interview him?” he asked, and Fuyumi, Natsuo, and Ryukyu all affirmed. “Well. Let’s get started then. Todoroki, why don’t you start from when Tachibana Kaoru approached you and Midoriya?”

Shouto’s eyes widened a fraction of an inch. “She didn’t tell us her name, although they all called her Orange Blossom. We were confused, but she showed us something on her phone. It was a livestream, there were a couple kids in it, and she said they would hurt them if we didn’t come with her. So we went with her.”

The four adults listened as Shouto told his story. Fuyumi kept one hand wrapped around Shouto’s as he spoke, voice break and hesitating and pausing as he kept speaking. Occasionally Tsukauchi would ask a question to prompt Shouto to keep going.

“For the first while we were compliant. Maybe we could get them to lower their guard, you know? So we acted like we were terrified.” She could read it in his eyes: they had really been terrified. “And then we tried to escape. That was when they… when they broke our legs. If we couldn’t run, we couldn’t escape, right? They… really underestimated Izuku’s pain tolerance.”

He stopped talking and swallowed hard. He closed his eyes. “That was. The only time that we saw… him. Their leader. Izuku, he, uh, he noticed something. About the leader.” He stopped talking, and Fuyumi squeezed his hand. He squeezed back and took a deep break. “They took him away for that. I’m not sure what, what exactly they did. To him. But. I didn’t see him for… a while.”

Shouto kept talking, and Fuyumi’s heart squeezed. While Midoriya had been elsewhere, the villains had focused on Shouto.

“I’m not even completely sure what they wanted with us,” he said, gripping his upper arm and looking away. “Sometimes it seemed like they wanted information. Sometimes it felt like they were going to use us as hostages. Sometimes… sometimes it felt like they… wanted to own us.”

Sometimes his words were broken, disjointed, like he could barely speak on the subject.

“The last day… On the last day we were there, we knew that something. We knew that something had to change. We were going to die there. We were sick, and if we moved wrong, my rib would puncture my lung and I’d die, and his injuries were infected—both our injuries were infected—we were going to die there if we didn’t do something.” He looked up, anger and pain and hurt burning in his eyes. “So we did something.”

Tsukauchi asked if he could describe any of the people who were there with them, the ones who were taking them to and from the room, the ones who had them.

“There were… a lot of women involved,” he said. “There were your standard villainous lackeys, but most of the people who were higher-up in it seemed to be women. The one who was mostly in charge of Izuku and I, they called her… Rarewater, I think. She was tiny, way shorter than Izuku, and had blue hair? I think? I never really got a chance to see her under clear lighting, and her skin looked grey. And her quirk had something to do with density, I think.”

He kept going until he ran out of words.

“Thank you,” Tsukauchi said, standing. “Your testimony will be very helpful in finding them and bringing them to justice.”

Shouto nodded, the muscles in his throat working as he thought of something to say. In the end, he didn’t say anything, and watched Tsukauchi leave. Ryukyu walked over, first greeting her girlfriend by pressing a kiss to Fuyumi’s hair, and then turning to Shouto.

“That was very brave of you,” she said. “You’re a strong kid.” He blinked and looked up at her.

“I… was just doing what I was needed to do,” he replied. Ryukyu’s smile was small and soft as she reached over to carefully ruffle his hair.

“You’ve just recently been through a traumatic situation, and you were able to talk about it to a detective with your family in the room. That’s pretty brave!” She paused for a moment. “Although, I am concerned. You could’ve waited, you know that, right?”

He took a breath. “…Yeah. But Detective Tsukauchi needed to know. And… if I had waited, it would only become harder to talk about.”

“Well, that being said, that was still very brave of you,” she concluded. “I need to go check in at the office, but I’ll see you later, okay?” She started walking towards the door, followed by Fuyumi. The two of them stopped by the door, holding each other’s hands and facing each other.

“Will I be seeing you at home?” Ryukyu asked, and Fuyumi nodded.

“I don’t think I can go back there tonight,” she whispered. Ryukyu nodded.

“Then I’ll see you later tonight,” she replied. The two of them leaned in and pressed their lips together, lingering for a few moments, until they pulled apart again and Ryukyu left. Fuyumi watched the door for a moment until she turned back towards her brothers.

“So you’re gonna stay at Ryuko’s place tonight?” Natsuo asked. She nodded.

“Do you have a place to stay tonight?” she asked. “If you don’t, you would be more than welcome to stay with Ryuko and I.”

He nodded. “I have a couple friends I’ll be staying with. Unless you’d rather I stay with you?” He turned to address Shouto with the last statement.

“No, it’s fine,” he replied.

Fuyumi’s younger-brother-bullshit-detectors started going off. “You know what, I’ll call Ryuko and let her know I’ll be staying here tonight.” Shouto opened his mouth to reply and she cut him off. “No, don’t argue. I’d rather stay with you anyways.” He looked like he wanted to protest but thought better of it and nodded instead. “And you should let your friends know what time you want them to be visiting you tomorrow.”

Fuyumi and Shouto were both texting and Natsuo was sitting back in his chair, contemplating either the meaning of life or zoning out to the song stuck in his head, when someone knocked on the door. All three of the siblings jumped. After she recovered, Fuyumi walked to the door and opened it. Aizawa was standing on the other side of it with his hands in the pocket of his hoodie and his eyes half-lidded, looking like he was about to fall over asleep.

“Oh, Mr. Aizawa!” she said. Shouto looked up and watched as she stepped aside, letting him enter.

“So you are awake,” he said after a couple moments of staring at Shouto. Shouto blinked and nodded at him. They stared at each other for several long moments.

“Do you know anything about how Izuku’s doing, sir?” Shouto asked.

“Still unconscious. They’re confident he’ll wake up within the next few days, barring complications,” Aizawa replied. Shouto nodded and looked down while Aizawa stood there for a few more moments before turning and leaving.

The three occupants of the room were quiet for several seconds.

“You know, I think your teacher’s a cryptid,” Natsuo said, looking like he’d just had a life-changing epiphany. Shouto stifled a laugh while Fuyumi couldn’t help but to break out into giggles at the thought.

Things weren’t alright yet, but they were looking up.

Chapter Text

Toshinori ducked through the doorframe into Tsukauchi’s apartment. The detective in question was further inside; given the sizzling and the clinking of a spoon hitting the sides of a bowl, he was probably cooking dinner. He was playing something over his speakers that was vaguely familiar to Toshinori. It sounded like something from that old show about space gem lesbians that Kaminari, Jirou, and Uraraka had gotten the entire class hooked on.

He changed into the house slippers as the song continued. As he walked into the kitchen where Tsukauchi was cooking, the shorter man paused and turned to smile at him. He looked less stressed than he had. Still tired, and there was still tension in his shoulders and jaw, but less than there had been yesterday.

“Toshinori! Here, stir this,” Tsukauchi said, handing the bowl to Toshinori. He started stirring while Tsukauchi shifted his attention to something else. He paused for a moment, took a stabilizing breath, and then continued. “Before you ask, there’s both good news and bad news. The good news: Todoroki’s awake and coherent, and managed to give his statement. The bad news: Midoriya’s still unconscious, although the doctors are reasonably certain he’ll be waking up within the next couple days.”

Toshinori sighed, allowing himself to relax. The repetitive motion of stirring was soothing, although that was probably why Tsukauchi had given him that task. “Well. That’s good.”

“The other bad news,” Tsukauchi continued, and Toshinori felt his shoulders start tensing up again, “is that, while Todoroki was able to give a fairly comprehensive account of what they were subjected to, there’s about three days where they were kept apart, so we have no account of what was happening with Midoriya then.” He turned and placed a hand on Toshinori’s elbow. “He’s a strong kid, Toshi. He’ll make it through this.”

The hand on his elbow was ground, steadying. “Yeah,” he agreed. “He is. He will.”

“Now give me that bowl back and call his mother to let her know you’re going to be visiting tomorrow,” Tsukauchi said, taking the bowl from Toshinori’s hands.

“I was going to do that anyway?” Toshinori replied, prompting Tsukauchi to smile at him.

“That’s good. So go do that,” he replied.

“You’re so demanding,” Toshinori said, taking his phone out and moving into another room. He scrolled through his contacts until he found the right one, tapped it, and waited for Midoriya’s mom to pick up on the other end.

Toshinori,” she greeted after several rings. “I figured I’d be getting a call from you eventually.

“Mrs. Midoriya,” he replied.

How many times have I told you to call me Inko?

“Inko,” he amended. “Naomasa gave me a brief—very brief—explanation of how they’re doing.”

Inko sighed on the other end of the line. “Well,” she said. “It could be worse.

“That’s not very comforting,” he replied.

It should be. Anyways. He has an infection, and they currently have him on antibiotics and antipyretics for that. His right ankle is… a mess, and he got shot in the chest, but he’s alive and they’re hopeful he’ll wake up.

“He got shot?” Worry flooded his chest.

Yes. Thankfully, Ryukyu’s sidekick, Pensano, is very well trained in emergency medicine for a pro-hero.

“Ah, yes, I know of him. He has a promising future,” he replied. “And his ankle?”

A comminuted bimalleolar fracture. Do you need me to explain the big medical terms for you?

The light teasing in her tone, while strained, comforted him. She was okay if she was teasing.

“No, I know what those mean,” he replied. “That’s going to take a while to recover from.”

Yes. They… both have a lot of therapy in their futures.

“Then it’s a good thing they won’t be alone,” he said.

The two of them continued to converse for a few minutes until Tsukauchi calling for Toshinori’s assistance in finishing prepping dinner pulled him away. The music playing was still from that one show—they sang a lot about love—and Tsukauchi’s familiar presence was comforting.

Dinner passed in a pleasant haze of relief and friendship and that music still playing in the background. He considered seeing about staying the night, however, another look at how exhausted Tsukauchi looked (and if he was being honest with himself, he probably looked worse) he decided to just head back to Alliance Heights for the night instead.

The trip back was blessedly calm, and in the common area of the teacher housing, Kayama, Yamada, Kan, and Maijima were playing what looked to be some form of go-fish. They exchanged greetings and he headed upstairs, ready to hopefully get a good night’s sleep.

 

In class 2-A’s dorms, a good night’s sleep felt like a far-off dream. The whole class, with the obvious exceptions of Midoriya and Todoroki, was gathered in the downstairs common area. Momo wasn’t sure how Ashido and Kaminari had talked either her or Iida—especially Iida—into letting them have this party of sorts.

It wasn’t as wild as their normal parties, but it was still eighteen teenagers with too much sugar playing games and letting loose as much as they dared. On one couch, Aoyama and Hagakure were doing each other’s hair. Shinsou, Tokoyami, and Bakugou were all scowling at each other over the last two of Satou’s cookies. Satou himself was relaxing and talking to Kouda and Ojiro, and he looked like he wouldn’t be getting up to make any more anytime soon.

Shouji was sitting and reading a book while Sero napped leaned up against his side. How Sero was able to sleep through the chaos happening a few feet away was anyone’s guess.

Because a few feet away was the most chaotic part of the class. It had been Uraraka’s idea, and if Momo thought she could get away with it, she would ground the other girl for daring to suggest that they play spoons. Uraraka herself was playing, along with Kirishima, Ashido, Kaminari, and Hatsume, who had somehow managed to sneak into their dorms. So, scratch that earlier eighteen, there were nineteen chaotic teenagers. Tsuyu and Iida had been playing, but they had already lost.

She counted quickly in her mind. Almost everyone was accounted for, except for—

“Hey.”

Momo whipped around and her gaze landed on Jirou. She was wearing a shirt with some punk band on it that had the sleeves cut off. The sides were cut low, revealing the purple and red tie-dye pattern of the binder she was wearing that matched the red streaks she had put in her hair earlier that week. Tucked behind one ear was a black marker. She was also wearing loose black gym shorts, but those weren’t very important.

She had already known she was very, very gone for the other girl, but there were some moments that it was breathtaking just how pretty Jirou was.

“Oh, uh, hi!” she said, hoping not to mess up her words too badly. “Um, are you, enjoying the party?”

Jirou shrugged and sat down. “Yeah. Are you? You’ve been over here by yourself for a while.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good!” Momo replied, smiling. “I just like watching everybody sometimes, you know? After this week, you know, it’s nice to see everybody having fun.”

“I don’t think those three are having much fun,” Jirou pointed out, gesturing towards where Shinsou, Tokoyami, and Bakugou were starting to argue over the cookies. Momo frowned.

“Well, you know what, it’s their own fault for deciding to fight over them instead of just sharing them,” she said. Jirou shrugged.

“That’s true. You want to come draw on Hanta’s face with me?” She pulled the marker from behind her ear with the jack from that ear and waved it in front of Momo’s face.

She gasped. “Hanta trusts us! We shouldn’t betray that.”

“Oh, he knows it’s gonna happen, although normally it’s Denki or Mina who do it,” Jirou replied. “What do you say, assistant class rep? Wanna get naughty?”

…Was that an innuendo? Was Jirou trying to flirt with her? Did Jirou even like girls?

“You know what, sure,” Momo replied.

 

Over where the spoons game was taking place, Tenya briefly turned his attention to where Jirou and Yaoyorozu were walking towards Shouji and Sero. There was something about the expression on Jirou’s face…

A jumble of shouts, slapping noises, and a yelp exploded from the game of spoons. Uraraka, Kirishima, Ashido, and Hatsume all had spoons in their hands, although it looked like somehow Hatsume had accidentally shoved the handle of a spoon up Kaminari’s nose… somehow. Tsuyu was chuckling next to him, somehow actually amused by the whole thing.

“You’re out!” Ashido declared, and Kaminari pouted and walked over to where the other two out players were watching, rubbing his nose.

“That looked like it hurt,” Tsuyu said.

Kaminari shrugged. “It stings, but it’s nothing! We’re playing spoons. It could be a lot worse.”

“Does spoons… normally get violent?” Tenya asked, worry growing.

“Ah, my young, innocent padawan,” Kaminari said, reaching out a hand and waiting for a small nod of okay from Tenya before resting it on Tenya’s shoulder. “You have much to learn about the ancient art of spoons.”

There was another scuffle from the game, and this time, Kirishima came away and sat down on the other side of Tsuyu from Tenya.

“You should be glad that Katsuki isn’t playing!” he said. “Then it would be really wild.”

“I think Katsuki and Ochako would tear each other apart if they were allowed to play spoons together,” Tsuyu pointed out, and the other three agreed with her.

“Add Mei, and I think we might have to hide a body,” Kaminari added.

“No!” Tenya exclaimed, standing up. “There will be no hiding of bodies!”

“Not even Monoma’s?”

Tenya turned around. Shinsou was standing there, holding a cookie. He broke it in half and held one half towards Tenya.

“Hey, Tenya, take the cookie,” he said. “I almost fought Katsuki for this. The least you could do is take it.”

He took the cookie. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” Shinsou replied.

Several more rounds of spoons were played after Hatsume won the first one. Shinsou joined, and then eventually Yaoyorozu and Jirou joined.

They started winding down eventually, and the nineteen of them found themselves shoving the couches into a rough circle. Sero had woken up to a doodled mustache and cat whiskers, courtesy of Jirou and Yaoyorozu, while Shinsou and Satou were the ones asleep now.

“And that’s the story of how I broke two phones in one day,” Kirishima finished up.

“We called him the phone-slayer for months afterwards,” Ashido added and Kirishima blushed.

“Yeah, well, it’s better than accidentally melting a hole in the gym floor!” he replied.

“I regret nothing,” she said.

It was nice, Tenya thought, just spending time with his classmates like this. Shinsou was still figuring out where he fit in, and Hatsume was fitting herself in whether they wanted her to or not (they all wanted her to), and… Yaoyorozu and Jirou were being blushy around each other?

He filed that away as something to keep an eye on.

“It’s almost midnight,” Yaoyorozu said, checking the time on her phone. “We should get some sleep.”

“You should stay in my room, Mei!” Ashido suggested.

“Sure!” Hatsume grinned, and the two girls threw arms around each other’s shoulders.

“Oh dear,” Yaoyorozu muttered. Tenya felt like repeating the sentiment.

The class started standing and getting ready to disburse and he felt his attention drawn to Shinsou. The purple-haired teen looked hesitant, almost like the way Todoroki was hesitant when there was something he wanted to say but was nervous about saying.

“Is something on your mind?” he asked, falling into step next to Shinsou.

“Oh. It’s. It’s nothing,” he replied. “Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re my friend. It’s in the friend contract, I’m allowed to worry about you,” Tenya replied. Shinsou frowned.

“I don’t remember signing anything,” he said.

“It’s an unspoken contract,” Tenya explained. A written friendship contract would make navigating these things a lot easier, but he knew most of the rules well enough by now to know that worrying was just a thing that people who cared about each other did.

“Oh. Well. It’s… you don’t need to worry about it,” Shinsou reiterated. “Seriously.”

Tenya looked at Shinsou’s face, doing his best to read his expression. “Okay,” he said. “Just remember, you can talk to any of us! You’re our friend.” The purple-haired teen looked pensive at that, expression still thoughtful even as he nodded.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll keep that in mind.” They were on Shinsou’s floor now and so they said their goodnights and parted, Tenya continuing to the third floor where his room was.

He slept solidly that night, waking at his usual time and getting out of bed despite the bleariness in his eyes. That tired, muzzy feeling in his head only lasted as long as it took him to remember that he’d be seeing Todoroki—and maybe, hopefully, Midoriya—later that day. That energy, that expectation, carried him through his morning, until those of them that Todoroki had requested were on the train with Aizawa, heading towards the hospital that both of them were at.

 

Shouto had woken up that morning and felt awful. His ribs ached, his leg ached, and he was still slightly feverish despite the antibiotics he had been on. Fuyumi was still asleep in her blanket nest on the floor. Guilt flashed through him before a thought that sounded suspiciously like Midoriya reminded him that she had chosen to stay the night, that she loved him and cared about him and that was why she had stayed.

She stayed asleep for a while longer, and when she woke, she woke slowly. She woke much more quickly when Ryukyu and Natsuo entered together.

“Good morning Fuyumi,” Ryukyu greeted as Fuyumi stood and stretched. They embraced, and Fuyumi hummed and nuzzled Ryukyu’s neck.

“Good morning Ryuko,” she replied. The two of them parted far enough to lean in again and kiss before Natsuo spoke up.

“We brought food!” he said, holding up a bag and then handing it to Fuyumi. “Hospital food isn’t the best, so we thought we’d bring you something more palatable.”

“Thank you,” Fuyumi replied, taking two containers out of it and handing one of them to Shouto. The two of them that had stayed overnight ate, occasionally adding to Ryukyu and Natsuo’s conversation. Time, to Shouto, seemed to drag by. He saw the doctors, who seemed reassured that he was healing well—physically, at least.

“You should see a psychologist,” the doctor said. “You might resist the idea, but I’m sure that your teachers will agree with me, and I’m sure they have people they could refer you to.”

Shouto nodded and looked away. He could think about that later, but for the moment, he just wanted to see his boyfriends already.

Ryukyu had to leave not long after the doctors saw Shouto. Then it was just Natsuo and Fuyumi with him, and the three of them fell into an easy silence.

And then, at last, there was knocking on the door. From the even, insistent staccato beat, it had to be Iida on the other side. Natsuo walked over to open it and stepped aside to let a group of very anxious teenagers in.

At the lead was Tenya. Shouto could watch Tenya’s eyes looking him over, taking stock of the damage, taking stock of the fact that Shouto was there. And Shouto did the same in turn. Tenya was there, he was with him now, he was okay.

“Shouto,” Tenya gasped. He strode over and almost hesitated before Shouto cut him off by reaching out and wrapping his arms around Tenya’s torso.

“Tenya,” he whispered, feeling Tenya’s arms settling carefully around his shoulders.

“You, you’re okay,” Tenya said. He leaned his cheek against Shouto’s head and Shouto relaxed to lay his head on Tenya’s shoulder. Instead of replying, he just gripped tighter, pulling Tenya closer.

They remained in each other’s embrace, drinking in their presence, their warmth, the way they smelled and felt and breathed. At some point, everyone had left, presumably to let them just have this time together.

Tenya leaned away just far enough to press a kiss to Shouto’s forehead. “I’m so glad you’re okay,” he said, his voice strained, like he was holding back tears.

“I’m glad you’re okay too,” Shouto whispered. They leaned apart for a moment and then came back together to press their lips together. Shouto had missed this, had missed having Tenya, had missed simple kissing and hugging. Izuku had been with him, but those hadn’t exactly been prime kissing and cuddling conditions. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Tenya replied. They closed the distance again, this time just burying their faces in each other’s shoulders.

They took a couple more minutes, just for themselves, before Tenya left for long enough to call everyone back in. Yaoyorozu, Uraraka, Shinsou, Tsuyu, and Tokoyami all walked in, followed by Fuyumi, Natsuo, and somewhat-but-not-really surprisingly, Aizawa.

Uraraka gasped and ran over. “Shouto! Are you okay with hugs right now?”

“Yeah,” he replied, opening his arms as she all but threw herself at him.

“I’m so glad you’re okay! We were so worried about you,” she said. The rest of the group made vague sounds of agreement.

“It was very strange not having you around for heroics classes,” Yaoyorozu said. She smiled softly. “Do you have any idea when you’ll be discharged?”

“Tonight or tomorrow,” he said, continuing to pat Uraraka’s back. She seemed to be liking it, so he kept doing it.

“I’ll be sure to give you my notes from the last week,” Yaoyorozu replied. “I… forgot to bring them with me, I guess I was just excited to see you!”

“Oh. Thanks,” Shouto said.

“Yeah, you don’t need to worry about classes! We’ll all help you catch up,” Uraraka added.

“Of course. It’s only proper that we do so, as your friends,” Tokoyami agreed.

“Thank you,” Shouto reiterated, doing his best not to sound like he was choking back tears. Of course, Tsuyu moved closer, and sat down on the edge of the bed.

“It’s okay if you need to cry,” she said. “We’re friends here.”

 

Shouta slipped away while the teenagers were reuniting. His students were (mostly) responsible, and Fuyumi was there as well. There was someone else he needed to see while they were there.

The hospital hallways were familiar to him, given how much time he had spent there the day before. He hated those interminable hours spent waiting, trying to keep your mind of what was happening, what could be happening, and never succeeding. He hated not being able to do anything.

Inko was there when he walked into Midoriya’s room. She had her tablet out and was working on something on it, although she looked up when he entered.

“Mr. Aizawa,” she said.

“Mrs. Midoriya.” He walked over to stand on the other side of Midoriya’s bed from her. “Any changes?”

She shook her head. “He’s still just… recovering. They’re hopeful he’ll wake up soon, though.”

The buzzing of the lights, the background noise of the machines, they almost got too loud for him after that statement as he turned it over in his head. Where the doctors actually hopeful? Or were they just trying to keep Inko positive?

“I’ll be sure to let you know if anything changes about his condition,” she said, and he blinked out of his spiraling thoughts and looked at her.

“That would be appreciated,” he replied.

They existed together in the not-quiet for a few moments before Inko began speaking again.

“He… really looks up to you, did you know that?” she said. Her voice was thick with tears. “You’re a good teacher, one of the best he’s ever had, one of the ones who’s really cared in a way no teacher had every really cared before. And you care about all your students, don’t you?” She sniffled and looked up. “I’m very thankful.”

His thoughts stuttered to a halt for a moment. “Oh. Uh.” Very eloquent, Shouta. “Thank you?”

“Don’t deflect,” she said. “I’m the one thanking you right now. You’ve had a large, very positive impact on my son’s life. And I just… needed to say something.”

“Oh.” He paused to think for a moment. “He’s going to go big places. I’m just doing my best to make sure he’s ready.”

“I know,” Inko replied. “And thank you.”

He left, a few moments later, turning the conversation over in his mind and dissecting what happened as he walked. That conversation had given him some things to think about.

Fuyumi was the only one noticing him slipping back into Todoroki’s hospital room. The teenagers were all around his bed, getting up to standard teenager shenanigans. Already, Todoroki looked much more alive than he had when they had gotten there.

Eventually they had to head back to the dorms. With the aid of several powerful healing quirks, Todoroki was already able to be discharged, and he would be taking the train back with them to UA. It had come as a shock to him, surprise evident on his face as the paperwork was completed. Natsuo had brought a spare change of clothes in his bag, so Todoroki came back out of the hospital clothes and in the slightly more public-worthy sweats, sweatshirt, and shoes.

 

Shouto glanced back at the hospital, leg in a cast, on crutches, and ribs still wrapped. They both still ached, but he was clear to move around as long as he did nothing strenuous.

He was almost reluctant to leave the hospital, even though he shouldn’t be. He should be excited to get back to the dorms, to his classmates. But he was leaving Izuku back there, still unconscious, still in limbo.

But Tenya was here, he was back with Tenya again, and they could face anything together. Izuku would wake up, and they would be okay. They had to be. He looked down at where Tenya was holding his hand, and he made a silent promise to himself, to his boyfriends, that they’d be okay.

They had to be.

He spaced out for most of the train ride back, leaning on Tenya and listening to his friends talk. They got off at their station and walked the rest of the way to UA. Aoyama, Hagakure, and Jirou were in the common room when they walked in.

“Welcome back!” Hagakure said, standing up and then shrieking. “Wait, Shouto?”

That got Jirou’s attention, who had been listening to her music, and Aoyama’s as well.

“Yeah,” he replied. “They discharged me sooner than I thought they would.”

Hagakure ran over to the stairs and opened the door to them. “Hey! Everybody! Shouto’s back!” she yelled.

Aoyama stood and walked over to Shouto, her smile as sparkling as ever. “It’s good to have you back.” It was her genuine smile and her genuine tone. He felt… blessed.

Kirishima, Kaminari, and Sero were the next ones into the living room, almost tripping over each other in their haste to get downstairs.

“Dude! Shouto! You’re back!” Kirishima walked over and held up a fist, and Shouto bumped it with his.

The entire class, except for Bakugou, who was, well, Bakugou, came downstairs to welcome Shouto back. He was fine for a few minutes, warmth flooding his veins as evidence of how much his friends cared for him was presented before him.

Too soon, his head started ringing. There were too many people around him and they were too loud and too present. Tsuyu was watching him and her big-eyed stare felt almost tangible.

“Hey everybody,” she spoke up. “I think Shouto’s getting overwhelmed.”

“Oh, sorry!” Kaminari said, blushing. “I don’t think we were thinking of how loud we’re being.”

“It’s okay,” Shouto replied. “Uh, I’m just going to. Go to my room.”

“If you’d rather stay down here, we could quiet down or leave,” Yaoyorozu offered, and he shook his head.

“I’m tired,” he replied, and turned, holding his hand out to Tenya, who blinked in mild surprise and then took it. The two of them left the common room and walked up to his room together.

It was strange, walking into it, seeing it exactly the way he had left it a week ago. Had it really been a whole week? Had it really been only a whole week? Time had take on a malleable quality and it still felt both short and long.

He crossed the threshold and breathed.

 

Inko hadn’t been expecting Aizawa’s visit. She had, however, been expecting Toshinori’s visit. He and Tsukauchi both came after Tsukauchi got off work. They walked into the hospital room, greeted Inko, and pulled up chairs.

“I’m glad you came,” she said. “It’s… I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy. I’d always seen the family members, how they were there, how they waited… It didn’t sink in until recently how easily that could be me.”

The room’s relatively quiet for a few moments, until Tsukauchi spoke up.

“I understand,” he said. “You see all these things happen to people, and sometimes, it doesn’t sink in that they could happen to you, to your friends, to your family, until they do happen.”

“I’m sure you both have seen plenty of things in your careers,” she said. They fell quiet again.

“So have there been any changes in his condition?” Toshinori asked, and Inko nodded.

“Yes, actually. He hasn’t woken up yet, at least not… lucidly, but he’s been in and out for the past few hours,” she said. “Hopefully this means he’ll be waking up soon.”

“That’ll be a relief,” he replied, and she nodded her agreement.

“Yes, it will. Although, what happened to him… This is one of the first things he’s been through,” she said. She reached over and settled her hand over Izuku’s with her fingers right over the pulse point on his wrist. “I’m very worried.”

“He won’t be alone,” Toshinori said. Inko looked up and met his eyes. “He has us, and his teachers, and his classmates. It may be difficult, but he won’t let this break him. We won’t let this break him.”

Inko held herself together for a few moments, but the emotion inside her was too strong and she broke down, crying. She was alone with her tears for several moments, and then she felt a large, bony hand on her shoulder. She put her own hand over it, and they shifted until they were holding hands.

It was nice, to have an anchor in this sea of emotions. Eventually, the tears passed, and her eyes cleared, and she looked up. She first looked at Tsukauchi, who’d been sitting quietly and maybe watching them, maybe not. She looked at Toshinori, who had tears in his eyes as well. She looked at Izuku, his face still ashen.

She looked at his eyes, so bright and green, but so tired, calmer than she’d seen them the few times fever had woken him.

“Mom?” he whispered, voice cracked and dry.

Chapter Text

“Izuku,” Inko whispered. The moment was fragile, the hold of reality tenuous. She had to be careful with it. “Oh, Izuku, my baby, oh.” She leaned towards him and slowly, gently took his hand and wrapped hers around it. And, weak and tired, he squeezed her fingers.

“Mom,” he repeated, voice relieved but still dry. Without prompting, Tsukauchi stood and left, probably to grab a water bottle. Inko barely noticed him, her whole world consisting of herself and her son in that moment.

He blinked, and his focus shifted to something—someone—beyond her. Toshinori was there too, standing just behind her, just as quite and near-reverent as here.

“Toshinori,” Izuku whispered, inviting him into the moment.

Tsukauchi eventually returned with a bottle of cold water. By that point, Izuku’s energy was already flagging, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was awake enough to drink some water, and then he drifted off, still holding Inko and Toshinori’s hands tight.

With Izuku asleep again, Inko’s eyes started watering. Somehow, she still had tears left. This time, she pulled both Toshinori and Tsukauchi into her embrace, and who were they to deny her?

 

The next time Izuku awoke, there was sun shining through the curtains. What happened the night before seemed almost unreal. Had he really woken up, or had it just been a dream?

“Oh, you’re awake again, good.”

That was his mom, sitting to the side of the bed. He blinked and looked in her direction, turning his head that way but being very careful not to jostle his chest. The gunshot was fuzzy, but the memory was still there, and the ache in his side told him that moving too much would be unpleasant at best.

He couldn’t decide which words to use. He eventually settled on a quiet “hey”.

“Hey yourself,” she replied, smiling softly at him. She had dark circles but the eyes above them were bright and relieved.

Their calm, green depths drew him in, mesmerizing him, until he blinked back to reality and realized he’d missed her telling him something. “Huh?”

“I was just telling you that Nurse Kajitani would be here soon,” she replied, and he nodded as best he could without hurting his chest.

“Do you,” he said, “know how bad my ankle is?”

His mother bit her lip. “It’s… not good.”

“I didn’t think it would be,” he replied. He had known, making the decision he had, that he might be ruining that ankle for life. But it would be worth it, for getting out of there alive, for getting—

“Shouto,” he gasped. “Is Shouto--?”

“He’s okay,” his mother replied, and he sagged with relief. “He was discharged last night, before you regained consciousness then.”

“Oh,” he replied. “And my ankle?”

“I’ll let Nurse Kajitani handle that conversation,” she said. She reached over to take his hand, and he let her. It was warm in his, soft and comforting and feeling like home, for all that he was stuck in a hospital.

“Izuku,” she said, bowing her head. “I’m so glad you’re awake.”

“I’m, uh, I’m glad to be awake, too,” he replied, giving her the best smile he could come up with at the moment. It wasn’t much, but when she lifted her head and saw it, she smiled back, eyes shining with tears.

The door opened.

The door was opening, why was the door opening, he hadn’t even heard them coming, it wasn’t the right time of day, why was the door opening now, where was Shouto, where was he why was the door opening what was going to ha—

“Izuku.”

That was his mother’s voice. That was his mother’s hand on his shoulder, his mother’s hand holding his, her voice talking to him, but what if it wasn’t? What if it was another hallucination, what if he was in that room again—

“Izuku, honey, try to breathe with me,” she said.

That was his mother’s voice, his mother’s tone, she was talking him down from an anxiety attack like she had when he was younger.

“In, two, three, four, hold, two, three…”

His breath hitched. His side burned.

“…six, seven, eight, in, two, three…”

He could breathe. Despite the pain, his chest, his lungs, his diaphragm, they were all working right.

“…seven, out, two, three, four…”

Gradually, he synced his breathing up with his mother’s counting. The four-seven-eight pattern was familiar, easy to fall back into, especially with her soft voice, especially with her hand holding his and resting on his shoulder.

There was a woman with long white hair pulled back into a twisted bun, standing by the door. Her eyes were keen as she watched him. Nurse Kajitani, probably, and most likely the one who had opened the door.

“Sorry about that,” he said. His voice was much quieter than normal.

“No need to apologize,” she replied. “You’ve just been through a very traumatic experience. It’s only natural for you to be a bit… on-edge.”

He didn’t know how to reply to that. So he didn’t.

“Anyways, I’m here to check you over to make sure your injuries are healing well, inform you of the extent of your injuries and projected plans for recovery, as well as refresh my quirk’s effects. My quirk is called Healing Boost, and it can increase someone’s rate of healing and regeneration at the cost of some of my energy and some of your calories,” she said. She walked forward, slowly but steadily. “My name is Kajitani Miwa, although you can call me Miwa for now since we’ll most likely be seeing quite a bit of each other over your stay here.”

“Midoriya Izuku,” he replied, and then blushed. “But… you probably already knew that. Um, you can, you can call me Izuku.”

“Thank you, Izuku,” she said. “Let’s start with a brief overview of your injuries. Least concerning are the various cuts, abrasions, and contusions, although there’s one in particular on your back that festered and was the cause of your fever and unconsciousness of the past thirty-six hours or so. Are you with me so far?”

“Yeah,” he replied. He had known about that laceration.

“Next is your ankle. It’s classed as a comminuted bimalleolar fracture, and you are going to require physical therapy to regain any mobility in it. As it stands now, without some sort of miracle happening, it’s likely that you’ll have pain in that ankle for the rest of your life, as well as limited mobility in it. According to your medical history,” she said, looking at him with sharp blue eyes, “you’re already quite familiar with chronic pain.”

Just to punctuate her words, his right arm seemed to flare up some. “Yeah,” he replied, looking away as heat rose to his cheeks.

“Even with my quirk and the healing quirks of several other people, you won’t be able to bear any weight on that ankle for another three to four weeks. We’ve halved the natural healing time, so don’t even think of complaining,” she said, glaring at him. It seemed like it might be in good humor? He wasn’t completely sure. “I know your type. You’re probably already raring to go again.”

His mother laughed. “You’ve nailed his personality within three minutes of knowing him.”

Embarrassment rushed through him. “Mom!”

“Good to see I’ve still got it,” Kajitani smirked. “Now, your side. It’s on track as far as healing goes, although it will probably be another week or two until you can really move your upper body without really feeling it. So minimal movement for the next week, got it?”

He nodded.

“Now. As for your stay here. You’re probably more than ready to be out of here, but we’ll be keeping you for a week and a half, maybe more if the gunshot wound isn’t cooperating. Within that time, there will most likely be a psychological evaluation conducted,” she said. “You still with me?”

“Yes,” he replied. A psychological evaluation was… probably a good idea, as much as he cringed at the thought of it.

“Depending on the results of that evaluation, you may be kept longer,” she said. “Your mother’s already aware of this possibility.” He nodded. “And if you feel like you’re up to it, Detective Tsukauchi can take your statement after we’re done here. It’s perfectly okay to wait—”

“I’ll do it,” he said, and she rolled her eyes while his mother sighed.

“You hero types, you don’t know when to pull back,” Kajitani said. “Okay. If you’re ready, I need to change your bandages, check how it’s healing, and reapply my quirk.”

“Okay,” he said. “I’m ready.”

 

He ached even more once Kajitani finished reapplying her quirk, although she said that was to be expected due to its effects. She opened the door and held it for Tsukauchi to enter and then she left.

“It’s good to see you awake, Midoriya,” he said, and Izuku smiled.

“You saw me awake last night, sir,” he replied.

“Yes, but you fell asleep just about as soon as I came back,” Tsukauchi said. “So. Nurse Kajitani told me you agreed to giving your statement now?”

Izuku nodded. “I… just want to get over with,” he said.

“Understandable,” Tsukauchi replied, his eyes softening. He sat down and removed an audio recorder from his bag. “Mrs. Midoriya, you consent to the recording of this?”

“Yes,” she replied, and he nodded and turned on the recorder.

“Mr. Midoriya, I’d like you to start from Sunday evening,” he said. “Tell me whatever you remember—anything could be important.”

“Uh, well, we left the hospital where Mrs. Todoroki is, and, I think I remember seeing Orange Blossom, uh, she was the one who stalked us down, uh, I think I remember seeing her there. Maybe on a bench outside or sitting on the stairs? I’m not quite sure, but I kept seeing her. She has… She has very distinctive hair,” Izuku said. He wrapped his right hand around his left arm, the pressure from his bent fingers helping to ground him. “She found us and showed us a livestream on her phone. There were… There were three, three kids in it. One of them had a… f-feline-type or canine-type mutation quirk? And one had these, like, ram horns or something like them and the last one looked normal except they had neon pink hair, like highlighters.”

He took a deep breath. “Anyways. Orange Blossom, she, she approached us, and she showed us the livestream, and she said if we didn’t come with her, they’d hurt the kids. Someone… Someone was on the phone with her? She had a headset in her ear and was talking to them when we left. Do you… already have her identity?”

“We do,” Tsukauchi nodded.

“Then I don’t need to tell you her quirk. We met up with a couple others, later. There was, there was Periwinkle—she has a flame quirk, it smells like flowers? And it’s purple-ish. And Rarewater. She has a density-changing quirk, she can change the density of things she makes skin contact with.”

He took a quick drink of water.

“So. They took us… they restrained us, blindfolded us, and put us in a car…”

He managed to hold together until he started talking about the failed escape attempt.

“Our first escape attempt, we thought we had it. We were, we were so close. There were… too many of them, they had so… they were too skilled,” he said. He looked down at his lap, at where his fingers were twisted together. The pale surgery scars on his right hand stood out starkly. “Rarewater was the one who broke our legs. There was something… I know I’m, I am really not the best judge of intentions or social situations or anything like that. But… she looked like she enjoyed it, but, even though she… outwardly? Looked like she was… There was…. There was something. And then, and then he decided to come see us and I… I…” His throat felt like it was closing up, but he had to force the words out. “I just knew.”

That was it. The words weren’t coming anymore, they were gone, done, dried up. But he had to keep talking.

“Todoroki said you noticed something about him,” Tsukauchi asked. “What do you know, Midoriya?”

“I… He, they, they weren’t…. They weren’t there be, because they wanted to…” He swallowed. He startled, a little, when his mother took his hand. There was a way out in her gentle grip, her warm expression…

He looked back at Tsukauchi.

“His quirk, he can control people, or manipulate them, or something like that. All the, all these women… he’s… stealing them. I’m not sure how it works, I’m not sure if it’s through touch or hearing or what, whether it’s based on gender assigned at birth—if that were the case, why wouldn’t he’ve used it on me? They made me take my shirt off, they saw my surgery scars, unless he maybe has a limit on how many people he can use his quirk on? Or maybe he just… didn’t want to use it on me for some reason.”

He stopped, swallowed, took another drink of water. He couldn’t stop there. If he did, he’d never be able to finish talking about it. Would he?

They were waiting on him.

“They made me change i-into these, these clothes… they were white.” He gritted his teeth and glared at his hands, at his mother’s hand. “They, then they, then they locked me in that room. It was white, the walls were white, the floor was white, the roof was white, it didn’t have a window and I couldn’t hear anything outside and even the rice was fucking white.” He was… He was shaking? Were there people talking around him? His head was ringing and the world was distant.

He blinked, and Tsukauchi was gone. The clock on the wall said that forty-five minutes had passed.

Funny, it hadn’t felt like forty-five minutes.

His mother was sitting in the chair next to his bed. Her eyes were tight, and she was frowning. His words were thoroughly gone, so he reached over towards her. Immediately, her expression relaxed, and she met him half-way, wrapping her fingers around his.

 

Class 2-A had spent their Monday hero class inside, doing scenarios. They were given a scenario of a villain attack, and they were given a team of theoretical heroes (sometimes based off real heroes, or UA hero-course students), and told to solve it.

Tenya loved scenarios. Normally, so did Shouto. Tenya had noticed, though, that throughout the class, his boyfriend had been failing to sit still. Shouto was constantly fidgeting and seemed incapable of focusing on the scenario that he was working on with Shouji.

Hagakure, who was Tenya’s partner, tapped his shoulder.

“You seem distracted,” she said.

“I apologize! I will do better focusing for the rest of class,” he replied. She seemed satisfied and sat back in her chair while she started brainstorming ideas out loud.

After class, Tenya approached Shouto. He held his hand out, and Shouto took it while Tenya started to speak.

Aizawa cut them off.

“Iida. Todoroki. Uraraka. Asui. Come with me.”

The four of them looked at each other, and Tenya refused to let the fluttering in his chest get too strong. If the news was bad, he didn’t want to be let down.

They followed their teacher through the school until they reached a room that was generally used for private meetings. He had the four of them sit down, and then faced them on the couch opposite.

“Midoriya woke up this morning,” he said. “Before you start celebrating, he’s expressed interest in seeing the four of you today. However, he is still very exhausted, and he was, last I heard, almost completely non-verbal. I am asking you to stay calm and not discuss any sensitive topics, especially the past week. Understand?”

“Yes, sir!” the four replied.

Aizawa stood, and they followed him out of the room.

Midnight was the one driving them over. She was out of her costume, instead wearing a purple-and-blue shirt and black shorts. The six of them fit in the minivan-type vehicle without issue, and none of the students bothered asking why Aizawa was joining them, because they knew.

Tenya’s anxiety tried to skyrocket during the ride, but if his anxiety was intense, then Shouto’s had to be even more so, and when he glanced over, his thoughts were confirmed by his boyfriend’s distant expression. When he reached over and held his hand, it was shaking.

Shouto startled and then relaxed as Tenya took his hand. His icy fingers wrapped around Tenya’s hand and after a moment, he scooted closer and leaned his head on Tenya’s shoulder. Tenya stiffened for a moment while adjusting to the contact and then took his glasses off so he could rest his cheek on Shouto’s hair.

“Your kids are being sickeningly cute back there,” Midnight said, her voice pitched low but not so low that Tenya couldn’t understand. Aizawa’s only response was a grunt, although he did glance up at the mirror.

Most conspicuously, he did not refute ‘your kids’.

Tenya chose to leave it alone and spent the rest of the ride with his eyes closed, listening to Shouto’s breathing and the sound of the tires on the road, listening to Tsuyu and Ochako’s quiet conversation and the few words Midnight and Aizawa shared, and sometimes, to the sound of his own blood amplified in his ear. When Midnight parked, the two boys reluctantly separated for long enough to get out of the car, and once they were out, Shouto lurked near Tenya’s side. He was pouting, thwarted from holding his boyfriend’s hand by his evil crutches.

Aizawa led the way as they headed toward the building. Tenya found himself constantly scanning the parking lot for any sign of danger. Around him, everyone else was doing the same, and he caught sight of Aizawa almost absent-mindedly fidgeting with the end of his capture weapon.

He led them directly past the reception desk to the elevator. Normally, with anxiety levels as high as they were, the elevator ride would be a stressful experience at best and a panic attack at worst but with Ochako standing next to the wall and resting all but one finger of her right hand on it, they allowed themselves to relax.

The elevator stopped moving and the doors opened to a quiet hallway. There were a couple nurses and one random civilian—probably someone’s family member—in it, but other than that, it was empty.

Their footsteps echoed as they followed their teacher. None of them were talking.

It felt like eons before Aizawa stopped in front of a door and knocked. After several moments, Inko Midoriya opened it.

Despite the dark circles under her eyes, she looked, if not happy, then somewhat content.

“Hello, Mr. Aizawa,” she said. She smiled as she moved her attention past him to the four teenagers behind him. “And hello to the four of you, oh, and Midnight, too.” She stepped aside and held the door open. “Come on in.”

Tenya didn’t know what he was expecting when he entered the room. He glanced around, a cursory survey of possible exits and occupants, before focusing on Izuku. There were dark circles under his eyes (along with what looked like the faint remnants of scratches) and his hair was messier than normal. A white bandage stood out starkly on his left jaw, there was a cast on his right foot to match the one on Shouto’s left leg, and Tenya could see the edges of bandages underneath the collar of his shirt. Four fingers on his left hand were splinted.

While Tenya was looking, Izuku signed a quick greeting to them. They weren’t fluent in JSL yet, but they knew enough to understand that greeting.

“Hi,” he signed. “I missed you.”

Next to Tenya, Shouto’s breath hitched. “Y-yeah,” he replied. “I missed you too.”

Ochako poked him in the side, and Tenya remembered to breathe as tears stung his eyes.

“Izuku,” he whispered, and he walked forward, followed by the clicking of Shouto’s crutches. Izuku reached out as they approached and Tenya didn’t hesitate to reach back and pull him, gently, into a hug. Shouto dropped his crutches and wiggled into the embrace.

Sniffles came first from Izuku. Tenya was already crying, Izuku was crying, and then Shouto was starting to cry. It was such a relief to be able to hold both his boyfriends in his arms again. They may be hurt, there were mental wounds that would take a long time to heal, but they were there and they were alive and he could hold them again.

At some point, the other people in the room had left, like they had when Tenya and Shouto had reunited with each other. Tenya was grateful for that as the three of them separated and dried their eyes as best they could.

“Someone should let the others back in,” Izuku signed.

“I shall do it!” Tenya replied. He took one step, and then turned back to Izuku. “I’m glad you’re safe now.”

He didn’t see what Izuku’s response was as he finished the short trip to the door. Everyone else was waiting just outside and required no prompting to come in.

“Izuku!” Ochako exclaimed. She rushed over, eyes bright. “Is it alright if I hug you?” He nodded and signed ‘yes’ and the two of them hugged. Tsuyu was next, much more laid-back than Ochako, but there were tears shining in her eyes.

“I’m glad you’re back with us,” she said.

“It’s good to be back,” he signed.

 

Inko could literally watch some of the stress leave her son’s body as he interacted with his friends and boyfriends. She hung back, near the door with Aizawa and Midnight, both of whom were watching the teens’ interactions.

“Thank you for bringing them over,” she said. “It’s only been five minutes and he already looks so much calmer.”

“Of course,” Midnight replied, smiling at her. “Who are we to deny them from seeing each other?”

Who were they, indeed. Inko returned her attention to the five teenagers while Midnight and Aizawa carried out a quiet conversation next to her. Todoroki and Iida had both carefully sat down on the bed with Izuku sandwiched between them. Uraraka had claimed the foot of the bed, while Asui had sat down on the chair that Inko herself had been occupying for most of her time in the hospital.

Izuku still wasn’t speaking, but his hands moved as he talked. Occasionally he needed to pull out his phone and use the text-to-speech for something that his friends didn’t quite know the sign for yet, and as she watched, Inko was filled with an emotion she couldn’t quite identify. Her son had friends, now, friends who accepted the difficulties that being autistic could sometimes bring and who loved and accepted him no matter what.

It was a strange mix of bitterness and gratitude.

Uraraka reached over to ruffle his hair, and he ducked his head and accepted it without a twitch.

The conversation beside her had quieted, and she glanced over to see both Midnight and Aizawa watching her with curious, somewhat concerned eyes.

“Are you okay?” Midnight asked. “You were looking a little bittersweet, there.”

“Oh, just thinking,” she replied. At least the teenagers hadn’t seemed to have noticed her mood.

“Thinking? Good thoughts or bad thoughts?” Midnight asked. Her concern was less present and her expression was more curious.

Inko fidgeted with her necklace for a moment. “Oh, some of both, I guess.” They were quiet for a moment. “Do you ever have those moments, where you’re grateful for what you have in the moment, despite, or maybe more so because of the hardships it took to get there, but the past still makes you just… so angry?”

“All the time,” Midnight replied without hesitation. Inko almost missed the way her gaze flicked to Aizawa, it happened so quickly. “The world’s not very fair so I find it best to treasure the good moments when they’re there.”

Treasure the good moments… Her son being in the hospital, with an injury that would pain him for the rest of his life, was probably not something that counted as a good moment… but watching him with his friends? Seeing him comfortable letting all his brilliant personality shine around his friends, watching him open up like a butterfly opens its wings to reveal bright colors and patterns? That had to count as a good moment, and she shouldn’t let bitterness over the past infect it while she was in it.

“You’re very wise, Midnight,” Inko said, and the other woman grinned.

“Thank you. And please, when it’s just us? Don’t worry too much about hero names, just go ahead and call me Nemuri. Or Kayama, if you’re more comfortable with that,” she said.

“Then do call me Inko,” she replied. Nemuri’s smile widened as she turned her attention to Aizawa.

“Come on, Shouta,” she said. “You could use another friend!”

“No, I don’t,” he replied, glaring in her general direction.

Nemuri rolled her eyes. “Such a downer,” she said, tsking. Aizawa huffed.

The two separate conversations continued, although sometimes the adults’ paused so they could keep an eye on the teens. Eventually, after checking the time on her phone, Nemuri raised her voice.

“Alright, you lot! We need to be getting the four of you back to UA,” she said. The five of them visibly slouched. “Come on, don’t pout, you’ve had several hours together, and you can come back tomorrow.”

Uraraka was the first to hug Izuku. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Deku! And I’ll make sure we bring the work you’ve missed so you can start getting caught up.”

“Thanks,” he signed, once they had finished hugging. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Asui was next. “Heal up fast,” she said.

“I’ll do my best,” Izuku replied, and they leaned in to hug. “I’ll see you later!”

The two girls walked over to the three adults as Todoroki and Iida wrapped Izuku in their arms. Just looking from the outside, Inko could tell that Iida was very good at giving hugs, from the way that Izuku and Todoroki just… melted into his embrace.

“We’ll see you tomorrow,” Todoroki said.

“I will bring you my notes,” Iida added. “We can have a study session! You’ll both be caught up in no time!”

Izuku freed his hands enough to communicate. “Thanks. I can’t wait!” Todoroki leaned in to whisper something in Izuku’s ear that had his cheeks flushing. Iida said something, too, that they couldn’t quite pick up, but Inko caught sight of Izuku’s hands forming the shapes for ‘love you too’.

Iida kissed his forehead, and Todoroki kissed his cheek, and Izuku kissed their cheeks in return. Iida released them from his embrace, and Todoroki slid off the bed and grabbed his crutches. He headed towards the door, followed by Iida, and they paused to both sign “see you tomorrow!” to Izuku, who responded in kind.

Nemuri led the students out the door as Inko held it open, and Aizawa lingered for a moment as they left.

“Come back to class soon, hm, problem child?” he said.

“As soon as I can,” Izuku replied. Aizawa seemed satisfied with that, nodding once before turning and leaving. Izuku watched the door as Inko closed it, the expression on his face a mix of wistfulness and lost as he rubbed his arms where Iida and Todoroki had been in contact with him not even five minutes ago.

“They’ll be back tomorrow,” she said as she walked over to reclaim the chair Asui had just recently vacated. “I’m sure there’s no way we could keep them from you.”

He nodded and settled back against the pillows, his phone in his hands, probably already texting his friends. Inko’s smile, unnoticed by him, was bittersweet.

Chapter Text

Momo was studying with Jirou, Hagakure, Aoyama, and Tokoyami in a corner of the common room. Uraraka, Iida, Tsuyu, and Todoroki had been called after class and hadn’t returned yet, although guesses could be made as to what was going on and varied between optimistic and pessimistic depending on the student presenting them.

Tokoyami and Aoyama had both refused to offer their guesses, Hagakure’s had been optimistic, while Jirou’s had been neutral-borderline-pessimistic. Momo herself had offered one that was brazenly hopeful. She wanted, more than anything, for their class to stay whole.

And so there she was, studying with her crush and some of their friends, when The Text was sent.

[memedoriya]

19:13

Hey guys! Sorry I didn’t text as soon as I got my phone back, but things were happening.

[I Love My Dads]

19:13

Midori!!!!

[a kind-hearted killer]

19:13

Izukubro!

The group chat was full of messages like that.

[memedoriya]

19:15

I hate to ask, but what’s the reason for Kirishima’s nickname? Kind-hearted is a great description, but killer?

[electric rat]

19:15

okay

so there i was

chilling

And Kaminari was really going to take fifty messages to tell the story, although Jirou interrupted him half-way through to the relief of everyone except for Kaminari himself.

“It appears that the more optimistic part of our class was correct,” Tokoyami said. He was looking down at his phone, watching the messages pop up. “I am glad that they were.”

“He was shot in the chest,” Jirou pointed out, twirling one of her earphone cords. “That’s gotta leave him at least a bit fucked up.”

“He just said in the chat they’re keeping him at the hospital for another week or two,” Hagakure said. “But he says that some of us other than Ochako, Tsuyu, Tenya, and Shouto are allowed to visit! As long as we don’t come all at once.”

“The whole class, visiting at once? I shudder to think of what sort of chaos would fall upon that poor hospital,” Aoyama said, emphasizing her point with a full-body shudder.

“First visitation rights have been reserved for Hitoshi, and for you three, Momo, Satomi, Fumikage!” Hagakure moved like she might be smiling in their direction.

Aoyama smiled. Not the usual smile that it seemed like she painted onto her face in the mornings, but her full smile that lit up her purple eyes.

Oh no. Was Momo crushing on Aoyama, too? Polyamory was already well-accepted by the class, as evidenced by Todoroki, Iida, and Midoriya, but Momo herself was running into a few roadblocks. First: were either of the girls she might be having feelings for even attracted to other girls, second: if so, were they polyamorous, and third: she wasn’t even sure if she herself was interested in a polyamorous relationship.

She sighed. Feelings were hard.

“Are you well?”

She squeaked as she startled and looked over at Tokoyami, who was watching her through half-lidded eyes.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “I just have a lot of things on my mind! Don’t worry about it.” Her expression grew more serious. “Seriously. I can promise you, it really isn’t anything to worry about.”

Tokoyami blinked at her and then nodded. “As you wish.”

Momo smiled and looked to her other side…

…Where Jirou had been watching. She smiled, and Momo blushed and smiled back. Suddenly, things were seeming a lot brighter.

 

Toshinori’s phone buzzed. He was in Naomasa’s apartment again, and the two of them were at the table, waiting for their food to be done cooking. Inko had told them that Izuku’s friends would be leaving in time to get some dinner at their dorms and that he and Naomasa were more than welcome (read: heavily encouraged) to bring whatever they made to the Midoriyas.

“Is that Inko?” Naomasa asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Let her know that it’ll be about fifteen minutes before we leave,” Naomasa said.

“I will do that,” Toshinori replied, already composing the text on his phone. He sent it and then set his phone back down on the table. The waiting was almost excruciating, and time, as if knowing how excited he was to be able to see Izuku awake again and was determined to play a nasty trick on him, seemed to slow down.

Although his sensation of it seemed to slow, time indeed passed like it always did, and they took the food and went down to the car and Naomasa drove them to the hospital. They walked inside, Toshinori carrying the bag with the food in it, and took the elevator up to the fifth floor. It was quiet, with most activity being the nurses moving around.

A slight thrill of expectation hummed through Toshinori’s veins as Naomasa knocked on the door. For a couple moments, it felt like the world was suspended in motion until Inko opened the door.

“Oh, good, you’re here!” she said, stepping aside to let them both enter.

Izuku was sitting on the hospital bed, leaning back against where it was tilted up with his hands in his lap. He looked over as they entered, and despite the pallor to his skin and dark circles under his eyes, managed to give them one of his blinding smiles as they entered.

“How are you doing?” Naomasa asked.

“Better. It’s good to see you both again,” Izuku replied, keeping his signing clear and precise for Naomasa and Toshinori.

“I’m glad to see you awake now, young Midoriya,” Toshinori replied, setting the bag with the food down on the table next to Inko’s chair. Naomasa retrieved the other two chairs in the room from the corner they had been stashed in and set them up next to the table.

Izuku signed something to Inko, a little too fast for Toshinori to understand.

“Yes, you are,” Inko replied to him. “I’ve been speaking with Nurse Kajitani and your doctor, and I am a registered nurse myself, you know.”

“I know,” Izuku replied.

“Your mother told us what you’re cleared to eat, anyways,” Naomasa added. He was more fluent in JSL than Toshinori was, but at least he knew what Izuku’s last question had been with the added context of Naomasa’s statement.

He passed out the containers of food and chopsticks and sat down in the chair between Naomasa and Inko. The conversation was mostly carried by the three adults while they ate and considering the minor difficulty of executing clean sign with chopsticks in your hand, Toshinori couldn’t blame him.

The warm smell of the stir-fried noodles and beef chased away some of the harshness that came with being in a hospital room. Despite not contributing to the conversation, Izuku was invested, watching intently and reacting to what was being said.

Once Izuku finished his food and set aside the container and chopsticks, he gestured to catch Toshinori and Naomasa’s attention.

“Thank you for the food!” He smiled at them, and Toshinori couldn’t help smiling back.

“No problem, kid,” Naomasa replied, smiling back at Izuku. “It was our pleasure.”

Inko smiled too. “Thank you from me, as well. And before you brush it off, really, thank you.” Toshinori looked at her, looked at the way she was leaning forward, the way she looked at both him and Naomasa.

“Anytime,” Toshinori replied. “We’re just a call away!”

 

While Yagi and Tsukauchi were eating dinner with the Midoriyas, Shouta was on a train. He didn’t usually stay at Tensei’s on school nights, but he needed to talk to him. He’d probably end up talking to Nemuri and Hizashi, too, at some point, but tonight he just wanted his boyfriend.

The train pulled to a stop, and Shouta watched with sharp eyes as people got off and people got on. Two men together in their early forties, four teenagers, two college students, and one lone woman. Something about her seemed… familiar, in a more significant way than if they had passed on the street a couple times.

He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was on her phone, wearing gloves that left her thumb, index, and middle fingers uncovered. Occasionally when she looked up he caught sight of bright yellow irises.

Bright yellow eyes, black hair, early twenties, five-point quirk gloves…

…The email from Tsukauchi on Thursday evening.

Shouta pulled his phone out of his pocket, keeping half an eye on the woman as he did so. It took him a few moments to pull up that email. He studied one of the attached pictures, and then looked up. She’d had her hair cut into a bob and there was a new piercing in her nose, but it was unmistakable.

That was Asakura Mioki.

Shouta was riding the bus with one of the people who’d held two of his students captive for a week.

He turned part of his attention back to his phone, switching apps and turning on the tracker in it. Next, he opened his texts.

[me]

19:49

Something’s come up. I’ll be late.

The first text, he sent to Tensei.

[me]

19:49

I have eyes on Asakura Mioki. Either of you willing to back up?

[HIZASHI]

19:50

YES! I WILL COME FIND YOU.

He glanced back up to look at Asakura again. She was still on her phone.

[Nemuri]

19:51

I’ll be there.

It would be just like their internship days… Kind of. He grit his teeth against the bitter thoughts, the ones that tried to make him blame himself, or even worse, Tensei for the injury that had ended his boyfriend’s hero career. He would miss fighting alongside Tensei but at least Tensei was still alive for him to come home to.

Another thought, unwanted, jumped into his mind. He shook his head against it and checked to make sure Asakura was still in her seat. She was.

It wasn’t a good thing, that his students were already being made aware of the special kind of hell that came from being in a relationship with a pro. Maybe it was preparing them for their future, but they were sixteen. His students were literally sixteen-year-olds.

They didn’t deserve it.

He was seven stops past the one he’d get off on to walk to Tensei’s apartment when Asakura stood up to disembark. He tucked his face into his scarf and got off—Hizashi and Nemuri would keep an eye on his location.

Asakura walked through the dusky evening, and from the slight twitches in her movements, he could tell she was keeping an eye out. She could be just a woman, keeping an eye out for shady men following her, but the information in her file and the knowledge of what she was part of overrode that interpretation.

Shouta tailed her, sticking to the shadows and slipping into and out of crowds with practiced ease.

She noticed she had picked up a tail about seven blocks from the station. Not bad, overall, but shoddy for someone who was a wanted criminal and had been riding the train with her face bare for anyone to see.

Of course, the question of just why she was on that train in the first place needed to be answered. And why she had her face uncovered. It seemed… almost too easy. On the one hand, it could truly be a coincidence. On the other, it might be a trap.

The crowds were starting to thin out. If it wasn’t a trap… It was entirely possible that the escape on Saturday had thrown her off.

Something in the way she turned down the alley seemed too deliberate, in the way that she tensed, in the way that she pulled her gloves off. He glanced around, taking in the more run-down buildings, the dirtier streets, the trash can that had overflowed. A couple of movements he could do in his sleep had his goggles on.

With swift movements, he scaled the side of the building. He climbed halfway up and then carefully slipped from window to window. The brick was rough underneath his hands as his fingers dug in, gripping tight.

She stopped in the middle of the alley and he froze, thankfully well-concealed in the shadow of the building as he measured his breaths.

For a few moments, the only sounds were the city noises around them. Cars driving by. Somewhere far off, sirens shrieked. The distant crashing of a villain fight in progress. Somewhere in that alley, a cat hissed.

The world seemed suspended, as if hanging from a string. Asakura’s voice was the knife that cut it.

“You’ve been following me for several blocks.”

He remained still.

“Come on. You’ve stalked me this far. What are you waiting for?”

Again, he said nothing, he didn’t move, he only kept measuring his breaths, taking them deep, quiet, controlled.

“Hey! I know you’re following me!” Her voice was tight and had gone up in pitch. She was looking around, almost frantic. She had looked up a couple times and had almost seen him. Her bare hands were held out in front of her. It was as if she was scared of touching herself.

One part of him wanted to wait, hang back, and observe while waiting for Hizashi and Nemuri to arrive. The other part of him wanted it taken care of as soon as possible. Get her subdued, brought in, maybe get some answers, and then go home with Tensei. He was supposed to be cuddling with his boyfriend, not chasing this woman through nighttime Sagamihara.

Movement at the end of the alley caught his eye. Someone else was there. They were staying out of sight. A homeless person, sensing the tension and staying hidden? A criminal? One of Asakura’s accomplices? The possibilities were endless, and until he knew more, he couldn’t risk it.

“Just get it over with, damn it!” He watched her huff and whirl around. She was flexing and extending her fingers over and over again, like she wanted to make fists but didn’t let herself.

A minute passed with none of the people in the alleyway saying a word, until movement from the person watching caught both Shouta and Asakura’s attention.

“Micchan. Enough. Maybe you weren’t actually followed and you’re just being fucking paranoid again.” It was another woman, tall, wearing a coat with the hood up, although he could see dark hair sticking out and falling halfway to her elbows.

“It’s not paranoia if there really is a pro hero following you!” Asakura snapped back.

“Obviously there isn’t,” the other woman replied. “Since none have leapt out at you!”

“I know what I saw, so stop telling me I’m paranoid!”

The other woman’s nickname was Kacchan? What an… odd coincidence.

“I’m only calling it how I see it,” Kacchan replied, holding her hands out in an easy-going manner. “Maybe put your gloves back on, hm?”

Asakura looked down. “No. I know they’re watching. I can still feel their eyes.”

“Shit, Micchan,” Kacchan said again, her voice softer. “I know how bad your anxiety gets. It’s okay. There’s no one here but me.”

“No. No, no, no, you don’t get it, Kacchan, you don’t get it,” Asakura replied, beginning to bounce in place with anxious energy. “I saw them, and I kept seeing them, they looked… like a wraith.”

“Oh, Micchan, are you sure you… really fucking saw them?”

“What do you mean?” Asakura’s voice sharpened and she stopped moving.

“I’m just wondering if maybe what you thought you saw… wasn’t quite real,” Kacchan replied. She… sounded genuinely concerned.

“Kacchan,” Asakura said, her voice low and dangerous, “are you trying to say I hallucinated them?”

“Well, it’s a possibility,” Kacchan replied. She shuffled her feet. “Micchan? I’m not trying to insult you.”

Asakura inhaled to reply, and Shouta activated his quirk. He leapt off the ledge he was hiding on and looped one end of his capture weapon around the nearby fire escape as he swung down.

Kacchan cursed and swung her arm up and then cursed again. Probably an emitter quirk, lucky for him. Asakura turned, her hands still open, as he came up behind her. She grabbed his arm with her open hand and he grabbed her arm and flipped her into Kacchan.

She laid on the ground where she fell, staring at her hands while Kacchan scrambled to her feet.

“You fucker,” she growled and rushed him.

He looped his capture weapon around her and dragged her over. She struggled but couldn’t escape as he wrapped a hand around her neck, fingers finding and putting pressure on her carotid,  and counted to ten before letting her drop, making sure to keep his eyes on Asakura the entire time, who was starting to recover from the shock.

She stood up as he blinked and let his quirk go for a moment.

“You stole my quirk,” she said.

“No,” he replied, and activated his quirk again. He struck first, grabbing her arm and twisting her around to use the same hold for her that he had used for Kacchan.

Ten seconds again, and she fell beside Kacchan. He crouched down next to them and pulled Asakura’s gloves from the pocket he had seen her put them in and put them on her hands before restraining her. All he could do with Kacchan was cuff her. Not knowing her quirk put him at a disadvantage when it came to preventing them from waking up and attacking him.

His next move was to call someone to come pick them up. While he waited for someone in the police office to pick up the phone, his free hand started fidgeting with the end of his sleeve.

You’ve reached Officer Maki,” oh good, she finally picked up.

“This is Eraserhead. I have two suspects in relation to the Midoriya-Todoroki kidnapping case restrained.” He glanced out at the main street and then told her his location.

Alright. We’ll have someone out there within ten minutes.” She hung up. Not one for many extra words, then.

Shouta sighed and leaned against the wall. Hopefully Hizashi and Kayama would get there soon. And maybe the cat he’d heard earlier might decide to stop hiding, although that was unlikely.

A couple minutes in to his silent watch, and Kacchan started waking up. She groaned as she came to and then cursed when she realized her hands were cuffed behind her back.

“Where the hell are you?” she snapped. “Gonna cuff us and leave us in some back alley?”

No. He was going to cuff them and have them arrested.

Kacchan cursed again. “I know you’re still there.”

“You didn’t believe your friend when she knew I was following her, and yet you’re so sure that I was still here without having to see me,” he replied. He might as well, at that point.

“Shut the fuck up,” she growled. “Don’t pull that shit with me.”

What was with people called Kacchan and cursing?

Asakura groaned, stealing both of their attention. She blinked her eyes open and stared at the ground as she wiggled her fingers.

“My gloves are on.”

“You have a five-point quirk,” Kacchan replied. “He’d be a dumbass to not’ve put them back on.”

Asakura hummed. “So how’d you make my quirk stop working?”

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Why would I tell you that?”

“Dunno,” Asakura replied. “Why were you following me in the first place?”

This time, he remained silent. Might as well do his best not to give her anything.

A couple more minutes passed, the two women trying to manipulate him into conversation for some (information-gathering) reason. He checked his phone once or twice, but neither Kayama nor Hizashi had sent anything recently. They’d be there soon, though.

Kacchan and Asakura’s attempts at conversation petered out, leaving the three of them to listen to the city noises. Were those distant crashes from the same villain fight he had heard earlier? They sounded louder, closer. Maybe it was a different one—hopefully it wouldn’t slow the police, or Hizashi and Kayama, down too much.

His out-of-the-way waiting spot became useful when Asakura jerked.

“Macchan! Don’t!”

Oh, great. Another. He vaulted over the dumpster and activated his quirk. Macchan, running towards them, had grey-looking skin and spiky, dark hair. Noticing him, she reached down and picked up a rock. Her half-second of hesitation holding it cost her. He flicked his wrist and his capture weapon wrapped around her. His momentum carried him towards her.

Someone’s boot made contact with his back and his quirk released as he fell forward. He didn’t release his hold on Macchan, but suddenly, his capture weapon felt inexplicably heavier.

He activated his quirk and released Macchan. As soon as it lifted from her skin, slower than it should, it resumed its normal weight and he turned his attention behind him.

No one was there except for the still-restrained Asakura and Kacchan.

Someone kicked the back of his knee, and he went down, hard as they bore down with their weight. They didn’t weigh much but they knew exactly where to kick and hit to make sure he went down. He grabbed their sleeve and prepared to haul them over his shoulder and into his line of sight when a fist that was way too heavy hit him in the side. The weight on his back disappeared and a new weight replaced it, too heavy as something gripped his hair to grind his face against the ground.

It was hauntingly like the noumu.

“Thought you could get the drop on us, huh?” Macchan taunted. “Thought you could take Kacchan and Micchan out?”

“Kacchan,” someone said, their voice soft and unfamiliar. “What should we do with him?”

“Hmm.” Gravel crunched as it sounded like Kacchan stood up and started stretching. “You know, underneath those goggles he might be kinda fucking pretty.”

“Might being the key word there,” Macchan grumbled.

“He might not exactly be the boss’s type…” Kacchan trailed off. “Aicchan would’ve just had us kill him, but I feel like that’s a little heavy-handed.”

“Oh, I see where you’re going with this,” the unknown voice said. “I like it.”

“I don’t get it. Could you explain it for me?” Asakura asked.

“Of course you’d need it explained for you,” Kacchan replied. “We take him to the boss. The boss does his thing.”

“Oooohh,” Asakura sighed. “Okay. I get it.”

“I like this idea,” Macchan agreed.

Shouta’s heartrate sped up. Whatever their boss’s ‘thing’ was… it couldn’t be good for him. He grunted as Macchan shifted her weight.

“We should knock him out first, though,” the unknown voice suggested.

“Choke him,” Kacchan immediately said. “That’s how he got us. That’s how we’ll get him.”

Macchan shifted her weight forward and brought his head up enough to get her arm around his neck.

He got a foot underneath himself, grabbed her arm, and shoved with his leg. It threw Macchan off-balance and he activated his quirk.

Finally, she was light enough for him to throw off and he caught sight of a dark form just in time for said dark form to slam head-first into a wall.

Black hair, dark teal skin, teleportation…

Kaga Sedzukiya.

No wonder she had managed to take him by surprise so easily.

He leapt backwards, keeping all four of them in his line of sight. Kaga was stumbling backwards, rubbing her head, and the other three were tense and waiting.

A waiting game was not one he could win, at least not if he had to keep his quirk in play. He threw his capture weapon forward, wrapping it around both Kacchan and Asakura, who thankfully didn’t have her gloves off yet. The buttons on them had saved his life.

Two powerful arm motions sent both of them crashing into walls. He was done playing nice against villains this dangerous (against villains who had dared to take two of his students). A wrist flick released Asakura to give him the freedom to duck Kaga’s blow. There was blood running down her forehead as she attacked, coming in close to try to make him give up his distance attack.

In response, he hooked a leg behind her ankle and shoved her solar plexus with his freed left hand, sending her sprawling onto her back.

He blinked.

She disappeared.

Fuck.

He reactivated his quirk and ran for Macchan, who fell into a fighting stance.

Kaga’s arm wrapped around his neck. He grabbed her arm, stuck his leg through her stance and behind her leg, and kneed the back of her knee as he twisted, freeing himself and brining her back into his line of sight.

Macchan rushed him, so he threw Kaga at her. He threw the folds of his capture weapon, ensnaring them both.

Asakura’s ungloved hand reached out and wrapped around his capture weapon.

“Better not let my quirk free,” she said.

It would be a… supreme disadvantage to lose his capture weapon. He might be able to beat them without it, but then again, he might not be.

He yanked, pulling Macchan and Kaga towards him. Asakura yelped as she was pulled along as well. She let go halfway there as he lifted his leg and landed a solid kick on Macchan’s stomach. He recalled his weapon as Macchan collapsed and retched, and he wrapped a hand around Kaga’s neck and started counting to ten.

Macchan was regaining her feet as he set the unconscious Kaga down. Asakura was also standing, facing him, and he blinked and released his quirk for a moment.

“Well, you’re good,” Macchan croaked. “I’ll give you that.”

“You don’t have to give me anything,” he replied, activating his quirk again just in time for something to hit him in the back, again, knocking him forward. He refused to blink and drop his quirk as he started turning.

Someone slapped a hand on his cheek and the world seemed to fall away. Fear replaced it.

 

If Hizashi hadn’t already been irritated by the sheer idiocy of the media and how they were tearing apart everything they could related to the Todoroki-Midoriya case, then being stuck in traffic with Nemuri while Shouta, his I’ve-literally-been-friends-with-him-for-more-than-half-my-life best friend Shouta, was tailing (and hopefully capturing) a villain would have done it. Not that he didn’t think Shouta was capable! He was just worried, and rightfully so.

The villain battle that was blocking traffic would hopefully be cleaned up soon. At least, it should be, what with both Ryukyu and Miruko on it.

Eventually, it got cleaned up, and the lock on traffic released.

“That took longer than I expected,” Nemuri stated. She was resting her elbow on the door and her chin in her hand. “Miruko and Ryukyu were on it?”

“That’s what I heard,” Hizashi replied, and she sighed.

“It must have been stronger than they estimated.”

Finally, they were drawing close to Shouta’s location. He started looking out for a place to park the car and found a clear space less than a block away from where his phone said Shouta (or at least, Shouta’s phone) should be.

The second they stepped out, they heard voices coming from the alley. Nemuri and Hizashi ran over, Nemuri putting a pair of specially-designed earplugs in.

“More pros!” someone called out. It didn’t much matter, because the second Hizashi caught sight of Shouta on the ground, one of the villains standing over him, it was all over for them anyway.

HEY!” He stepped forward as he shouted, Nemuri by his side. As long as he kept yelling, their enemies would be too busy holding their hands over their ears to do anything. “YEAH! YOU!” Circular breathing was a lifesaver several times over, literally. “YEAH, YOU’RE WHO I’M TALKING TO!” Although, the fact that Shouta wasn’t moving despite sitting upright and being obviously not unconscious was… concerning.

The villains were starting to rally, a bit, and by his side, Nemuri unrolled her whip. Hizashi kept yelling.

One of the villains moved closer to Shouta, and Nemuri darted forward. Her whip cracked through the air and wrapped around the wrist of that villain. Those earplugs were lifesavers, too.

Between Nemuri and Hizashi, the villains were driven back far enough away from Shouta that Hizashi could stop yelling for long enough to sprint forward alongside Nemuri. She sprinted directly for the villains while he stopped at Shouta’s side and picked him up. He couldn’t give thought to the reason why Shouta wasn’t moving, why his eyes were open but unfocused, not while they were still in range.

As soon as Hizashi and Shouta were far enough away, Midnight unleashed her quirk, lavender gas seeming to billow out from the specialized vents in the legs of her suit and from under her net sleeves.

“Shouta,” Hizashi whispered as he set him down on the back seat of the car. “C’mon, look at me, answer me.”

His black eyes were vacant, staring at nothing as he did nothing to respond.

Chapter Text

It was almost ironic that Shouta was taken to the same hospital as Midoriya. He wasn’t physically too hurt, not badly enough to be hospitalized at least. But the catatonia was… something else. Hizashi and Nemuri were in the hospital room with him, both of them doing their best not to look to closely at their friend: the unfocused gaze, the blank expression, the unresponsiveness… it was too much.

Nemuri, for her part, was sulking in the corner. Usually her quirk was enough to guarantee capture.

Usually their enemies didn’t have teleportation quirks.

While most of them had escaped, Nemuri had managed to capture one of them. Takinoue Maho, a woman with grey skin and red eyes. Her quirk? Density Manipulation. She was likely still being interrogated at that very moment.

Hizashi sighed and shifted in his seat. He glanced over at Shouta again, and sure enough, there was still no change. His eyes were still blank.

There seemed to be some side effects to whatever quirk had induced this catatonia. His heartbeat was elevated, his skin had taken on an ashen color (more ashen than normal, at least), and the few times Hizashi had reached over to touch him, his skin had been clammy.

They had been in that room, too quiet and subdued, for less than an hour when someone knocked on the door.

“I’ve got it,” Nemuri said, standing up and walking to the door. She opened it and froze.

“Nemuri.”

Oh. Of course, he would come.

She exhaled. “Tensei. It’s… not great.”

“I don’t care about that. Just, let me in.”

Her boots made noise as she moved to the side, and Tensei wheeled in. After giving a cursory greeting to Hizashi he went straight for the side of Shouta opposite the blond.

He leaned forward, taking one of Shouta’s hands and wrapping both of his around it. He whispered something that Hizashi couldn’t hear but judging from the way her body language changed, Nemuri had.

“Stop that. It wasn’t your fault,” she said. Tensei’s answering smile was tight and didn’t reach his eyes.

“I know that. I still feel bad that I’m no longer able to back him—or any of you—up in the field anymore.” He sighed. “I know it’s not very logical, but that’s how I feel.”

Nemuri walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder while Hizashi leaned forward. “That’s reasonable. Just remember that we’ll… we’ll do our damn best to walk back out of the situations we walk into.”

“I know,” Tensei replied. “You’re all very capable heroes. I just… It’s hard, you know, watching him walk out the door, watching all of you out there, still fighting and getting hurt…” He took a deep breath. “And Tenya, too.” He shook his head, almost like he was trying to clear those thoughts away.

“Hey, we get it,” Hizashi replied. “It’s… not the same, but I worry about Shouta, and all my co-workers, too. With Shouta, especially… underground work is a whole different realm of heroing than anything I do. We’re here for you, though, whatever you need.”

Tensei nodded. “Thank you. Both of you. I’m lucky to have such good friends.”

“Aaaah, we’re lucky to have you!” Hizashi replied, remembering at the last moment to keep his voice down. Nemuri forewent speaking to wrap her arms around Tensei, who returned her hug as best he could with her leaning over his shoulder.

They were mostly quiet, as the hours became late and then crept around to early morning again. Occasionally they would converse, but the serious atmosphere of the whole situation was too much to let conversation flourish.

At about two, they noticed that the heartrate monitor connected to Shouta was speeding up. Hizashi’s heart jumped while Nemuri called for a doctor. Several moments later, a blink-and-miss-it moment, the muscles around Shouta’s eyes tightened.

He exhaled. Blinked once. And then bolted upright, arms snapping in and wrapping around himself. His eyes were wide and unfocused.

Tensei reached over and put a hand on Shouta’s upper arm, Hizashi mirroring him on the other side. They squeezed, and normally just holding his arms was enough to help pull him out of an attack, but this one was… worse. Hizashi could feel Shouta’s hitched attempts at breathing. Tensei started pulling Shouta closer, being gentle and purposeful, and Hizashi let him go so that Tensei could wrap him in a big hug.

Hizashi stood up and walked over to Tensei’s side of the bed, and evidently Nemuri had the same idea as she followed him. They joined in the hug, adding their strength and presence.

Deep pressure was the magic ticket with Shouta’s panic attacks. Hands gripping his arms, hugs, the rare occasion when someone would just… lay down on him, pressure was what brought him back. And that held just as true this time as it always had, as slowly he started to regain control over his breathing. He was still crying, still half-panicked, but he was aware enough to bury his face in Tensei’s shoulder.

At one point, the doctor poked their head in, but left the people who knew how to comfort Shouta, with promises they’d be back later.

Nemuri started stroking Shouta’s hair and Hizashi felt his body shift as he leaned into the touch. His breathing had calmed and he wasn’t actively crying anymore, but they were all content to stay there, wrapping him in as much love and affection as the three of them were capable of giving, which was a lot.

Hizashi and Nemuri let go eventually and returned to their seats. Shouta remained curled in Tensei’s arms while his boyfriend took over stroking his hair from Nemuri.

“…Did you capture any of them?”

His voice was rough and Nemuri passed over a bottle of water, which Shouta drank from.

“One,” Hizashi replied. “Takinoue Maho. Grey skin, blue hair, red eyes.”

“They called her Macchan,” Shouta replied. “Used those nicknames with each other.” He paused, and huffed as something amusing crossed his mind. “There was one called Kacchan. She cursed just as much as Bakugou.”

“Huh, that is interesting,” Hizashi replied.

The doctor came back eventually to check him over and pronounced that he was free to go. His heartrate was still slightly elevated, but lower than it had been while he was catatonic.

“We’re all going back to UA,” Nemuri announced as they were leaving. “No arguments.”

No one looked like they wanted to argue.

 

Shouta was exhausted. He woke up in Nemuri’s arms… as she carried him to the teachers’ apartments. Hizashi and Tensei were both following behind her.

“Are you going to put up a fight?” she asked. He could feel the vibrations of her voice.

“I know better than that,” he muttered.

“Good!” she replied. “See, Hizashi? Even Shouta knows better than to fight me when I’m carrying him.”

Hizashi’s flustered, offended noise was the same as ever. “Totally different circumstances! You just… picked me up! Right in front of my class!”

“It was a demonstration,” Nemuri replied.

“Of what?” Tensei asked.

“Big strong lesbian arms.”

That created more questions than it answered, to be honest, but Shouta was more than willing to let it pass. His body ached and he could barely keep his eyes open and there was a pounding in his head. And Nemuri’s arms were big and strong and the feel of her voice resonating in her chest right next to him was comforting.

He dozed as they entered the teachers’ building. Some of the other teachers may have been there but he wasn’t exactly paying attention.

For some reason, all four of them flocked to Shouta’s rooms. He… didn’t really mind.

That morning, all four of them fell asleep together, tangled up in each other’s limbs in the same bed, for the first time since they had been in their early twenties.

 

Tenya woke up early in the morning, the way he always did. He went for his morning run. He ate breakfast and then brushed his teeth. Shouto came downstairs, already in uniform, as Tenya was heading upstairs to change into his.

“Good morning,” Shouto said.

“Yes! Good morning to you as well!” Tenya replied.

He changed into his uniform and returned to the downstairs area to find Shouto sitting with Shinsou and Yaoyorozu.

“May I join you?” Tenya asked as he walked over, and Shouto nodded.

“Of course!” Yaoyorozu agreed, and Tenya sat down on the side of Shouto opposite Shinsou.

The four of them were the first to get up and head to class. Both Tenya and Yaoyorozu made a point of getting to the classroom early, and sometimes others would join them: most often Izuku and Shouto, occasionally Tsuyu and Uraraka, and occasionally Aoyama and Tokoyami.

All four of them were there that morning, making sure everything was in order for the day, when who of all people but Tensei should wheel in.

If it had happened in any other situation, it would be embarrassing that Yaoyorozu had to catch Tenya when he tripped over his own feet. As it was, it was very startling and very unusual to have his brother in his classroom.

“Tensei?” he asked as Yaoyorozu helped him regain his footing. “What are you doing here? Not that I’m upset to see you! But it’s highly unusual for you to be here.”

“Oh, I’m standing in for Mr. Aizawa today.”

Okay, get past the sheer dissonance of hearing Tensei call Aizawa that, and delve directly into the dissonance of ‘standing in’ for Aizawa.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Shinsou asked. “Is he sick? Injured?”

“Let’s just say that Ms. Kayama—” cue more dissonance, “—forbade him from teaching today for various reasons.”

Yaoyorozu gasped. “I hope he’s okay!”

“He’ll be back tomorrow,” Tensei replied. “Oh, and Tenya? You will be calling me Mr. Iida while I’m teaching.”

Tenya stiffened. “Yes, Te- Mr. Iida.” Shouto did that little nose huff thing he did when he was amused, and Shinsou laughed.

“Good,” Tensei replied, grinning.

Similar confused sentiments were echoed by everyone as they entered. Uraraka entered with Kirishima and Mina and then beelined right for Tenya.

“Your brother’s teaching us today?” she asked. “This must be so weird for you!”

“It’s weird having Mr. Aizawa gone,” Shouto muttered and Uraraka nodded, her loose brown hair bouncing up and down.

“That too! I wonder why Mr. Aizawa is out,” she mused.

“Mr. Iida said he’d be back tomorrow,” Yaoyorozu replied, and then stopped talking as she blushed.

Tenya looked over at the door. Oh. That explained it. Jirou and Kaminari had just walked in.

The morning passed quickly, and Tensei found Tenya while he was walking to lunch with Uraraka, Shouto, and Tsuyu.

“Hey, Tenya!” he called. “You want to eat lunch with me?”

“Of course!” Tenya replied, and then he paused and looked at his friends. “I will see you all back in class! Enjoy lunch.”

“You too!” Uraraka replied as Tenya walked off with his brother.

“So I hear you got to go see Midoriya yesterday,” Tensei said. “How did that go?”

“I feel like it went well,” Tenya replied. “He was non-verbal the entire time, but my sign has been improving so I only had to ask him to fingerspell or use text-to-speech for a few things! It was very good to see him and it will be very good to see him again this afternoon.”

“I’m glad!” Tensei replied, smiling. Tenya took a deep breath before broaching the next topic.

“Can I ask about Mr. Aizawa?”

He winced at Tensei’s sharp inhale.

“He had a nasty encounter with some villain that had some sort of psychological quirk,” Tensei replied. “He’s a little banged up, but mostly it was just exhaustion so Nemuri put her foot down and made him stay in bed.”

Tenya was about to question it, until he remembered the class where Kayama had picked up Yamada for some reason, and then for good measure picked up Shouji, and then Satou, and then Kouda, just because she could (because they asked if she could), and he decided not to question it.

“I see,” he said. “So the principal just… let you teach?”

“Well I still have my teaching license,” Tensei replied. “Being retired from hero work doesn’t mean I have to be retired from helping young up-and-coming heroes.”

Tenya was quiet for a moment as he thought about that statement. “So does that mean you’re thinking of becoming a teacher? I think you would be great at it!”

Tensei hummed and remained quiet for a moment, his brow furrowed in that way it did when he was thinking carefully about what he was going to say next. “Let’s just say it’s a possibility. Nothing’s been seriously discussed yet.”

“I understand,” Tenya replied, inclining his head.

They kept a light conversation going through lunchtime until they had to finish up so Tenya could return to his classroom. Afternoon heroics passed quickly and the eight students that were going to visit Izuku headed to one of the meeting rooms to meet up with whichever teachers were in charge of escorting them that day.

Uraraka and Yaoyorozu, who were walking in front, opened the door and froze. Shinsou opened his mouth, about to speak, but was cut off by Uraraka’s gasp.

“Mr. Aizawa!” she rushed in, the rest of them hot on her heels, and sure enough, there was Aizawa, looking only slightly more exhausted than usual. There was a cut on his cheek with two butterfly bandages on it and bruises blooming down the side of his face. He was sprawled out on the couch, and from the way he lazily opened his eyes, had just been asleep.

“Uraraka,” he replied, tone flat.

“We missed you in class today, sir!” she replied. He blinked at her.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said, getting to his feet. “Now are we going, or not?”

They took the train over that afternoon. Aizawa had brushed his hair in front of his face to hide the bruising, and thankfully it had been long enough since the last time their class had been in the news that random strangers on the train weren’t recognizing them—although Shouto was wearing a hat over his hair.

The commute lasted entirely too long in Tenya’s opinion, until finally they were getting off at the station a few blocks from the hospital.

Shouto hadn’t yet been to see Recovery Girl to finish getting his leg healed and the cast removed, so he was still on crutches, and walking several blocks on them wouldn’t be fun. And so Tenya, diligent boyfriend that he was, picked Shouto up. The other boy made a small noise as he was picked up and Tsuyu grabbed the crutches before they fell.

“Not that I’m complaining, but why?” he asked.

“I didn’t want you to have to go all the way there on crutches! I would like to save you a little energy, at least!” Tenya didn’t miss Aoyama’s sharp intake of breath, or the barely-restrained squeal from Yaoyorozu’s direction.

“The two of you are sickeningly adorable,” Shinsou commented, and Tenya turned his head to see the shorter boy’s level-headed stare.

“They kind of remind me of someone,” Kayama said with a lilt to her voice. Aizawa’s grunt was enough confirmation of her meaning.

Tenya and Shouto earned a few double takes from passersby on the walk to the hospital, and it even looked like one girl was about to take a picture of them until Tokoyami and Shinsou, both glaring daggers at her, moved to stand between her and the other two boys. She certainly backed down quickly then.

Kayama made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. “You’d think gay relationships would be normal enough that straight girls don’t feel like taking pictures of us, but apparently not.”

“Wait, you’re not straight?” Uraraka asked, wide-eyed. Tsuyu and Aoyama both looked unsurprised, while Yaoyorozu was also listening with interest.

“Hell no,” Kayama scoffed, glaring at Aizawa, who was snickering at her. “What gave you that impression? I need to know, so I can stop doing it.”

“I thought everyone already knew she was a lesbian…” Aoyama muttered.

 

Izuku was playing Temple Run on his phone, a black chewelry pendant in his mouth as he absent-mindedly chewed on it while concentrating. His mom was away, having needed to return to work, so he had been mostly alone all day, although Kajitani made a point of stopping by his room every time her rounds brought her by.

Someone knocked on the door and his heartrate jumped. He set his phone down, let his chewelry drop, and started taking measured breaths. About halfway through his second one, the door opened.

His anxiety spiked again, but thankfully that was it. Aizawa entered first, followed closely by Tenya…

…Who was carrying Shouto? Apparently?

Tenya walked over to Izuku’s bed, movements brisk, and gently deposited Shouto next to him.

“Why was he carrying you?” Izuku asked, using his verbal language this time.

“Apparently he decided he didn’t want me crutching all the way here from the train station,” Shouto replied. “Please inform our mutual boyfriend that I’m perfectly fine crutching back.”

Izuku hummed. “It is a ways to the train station from here. Crutches aren’t comfortable, especially not for distances.”

Shouto groaned, and Izuku turned his attention to Tenya, who leaned in to kiss his forehead. Izuku smiled.

Other than his boyfriends and Kayama and Aizawa (he’d finally moved his hair and wow, those were nasty bruises), Uraraka, Tsuyu, Yaoyorozu, Shinsou, Tokoyami, and Aoyama were waiting by the door.

As if noticing that the three romantic partners had finished greeting each other, Uraraka bounced over, followed by Tsuyu and Yaoyorozu.

“Deku!” Uraraka was the first up for a hug, still being careful about his side. And since it still hurt, he appreciated that.

“Ochako!” he replied, hugging back as enthusiastically as he dared. They embraced for a few moments, and then Uraraka stepped back to let Tsuyu have a hug. Yaoyorozu was next after Tsuyu, and for some reason, Izuku could literally feel her relax into his arms. Maybe she’d been extra stressed about something recently.

Aoyama had been hanging back, and once the space next to Izuku’s bed started clearing, she walked forward.

“It’s good to see you,” she said. “I missed you.”

Izuku smiled softly at her. “I’ve missed you too, Satomi.” Her hug was gentle, and if hugs were somehow capable of being elegant, then yeah, hers was elegant. They hugged for several moments and then separated, and Izuku looked over at Tokoyami and Shinsou.

“Either of you want hugs?” he asked, and Tokoyami walked over.

“A hug would be most appreciated,” he said. They hugged, short but sweet, and then Shinsou walked over for his hugs.

All hugs distributed, Izuku leaned back again to rest on the inclined bed. Despite how gentle everyone had been trying to be, his side still ached more than it had before. Shouto was cuddling up against his uninjured side, and Tenya had sat down on the other side of Shouto. The rest of his friends were settling themselves around the room while the teachers remained by the door.

He had to admit, having the two teachers standing like sentinels by the entrance was comforting. Having them there, despite Aizawa being obviously injured, Izuku found himself relaxing more than he had allowed himself to all day.

The conversation required his focus, but maybe he should mention to someone that he’d very much prefer not to be alone in the hospital room for most of the day…

 

The students all dragged their feet when they had to leave Midoriya. Iida was carrying Todoroki again, although piggyback instead of bridal style. Nemuri had been right: Shouta had carried Tensei around a lot when they had been younger, and it had also happened vice versa often.

They passed Midoriya’s mom, Yagi, and Tsukauchi in the hallway as they were leaving. The students waved, but Shouta was like a barn-sour horse in his determination to be back to UA. He was tired, damn it, and Tensei was staying the night again.

His head was beginning to pound and his sides and back were aching like mad by the time they reached the school. Maybe escorting the students had been a little too much so soon after the night before, but it’s not like there are many teachers who could take public transit and go unrecognized. As long as they were both in their civilian clothes, Midnight and Eraserhead easily went ignored by everyone around them.

If it didn’t take Hizashi a solid forty-five minutes to de-cockatoo his hair, Shouta would’ve considered letting him take his place. However, the students probably wouldn’t willingly wait that long.

Once the students had made it into the dorm building, Nemuri started to speak.

“You look absolutely beat,” she said. “Are you sure you shouldn’t take another day?”

“Yes,” he replied, and turned to walk to the teachers’ building.

“Really,” Nemuri replied.

“I’ll be better after another night’s sleep,” he said. He could almost feel her judgment burning through his shirt. “I know my own limits, Nemuri.”

She sighed. “Yeah, you do. I’m just worrying.”

Shouta was silent for a few moments. Sometimes it irritated him, how much his friends worried about him, but sometimes he loved it.

It was an irritation night, it seemed.

“You don’t have to about this,” he replied. “If you were really that concerned, you’d start threatening me again.”

That got a laugh out of her. Short and bark-like, yeah, but a laugh. “True.”

They walked into the teachers’ building together. Hizashi, Kan, Maijima, and Snipe were all playing some sort of board game in the common area together and called out greetings as the two walked by. Nemuri patted his shoulder, told him to get some sleep, and joined the board game, leaving Shouta to head up to the next floor, where Tensei probably already was.

He was already on the bed when Shouta walked into the bedroom, leaning against the headboard, wearing old sweats and a t-shirt while typing something on his phone. He looked up as the door opened and grinned.

Jeez, his smile was too bright.

“Shouta, you’re back!” he said. “How was the trip?” He winced as Shouta groaned. “That bad?”

“Too loud,” Shouta replied, pulling his capture weapon off and setting it in its designated spot on the table and then unceremoniously stripping so he could put on an old pair of sweats and slightly-too-large long-sleeved t-shirt. The sleeves were long enough he could pull them over his hands, which he proceeded to do as he walked over to the bed and laid down, curled up with his head in Tensei’s lap.

Tensei started running his fingers through Shouta’s hair, occasionally pausing at that to massage his scalp.

“I’ll keep quiet then,” he whispered.

“There is something I’d like to talk to you about, though,” Shouta replied, although his voice was quiet.

“What is it?”

“Todoroki and Midoriya’s upcoming psych evals.” He sighed. “I’m worried about the results.”

“They’ve been through a lot, haven’t they,” Tensei murmured. Shouta nodded.

“I was debriefed on what bit of a statement Midoriya managed to give,” he said. “He’s going to try and give the rest of it either tomorrow or Thursday… but what he’s already given is bad.” He closed his eyes and relaxed into his boyfriend’s touch.

“So you’re worried about… how stable they are?”

Shouta hummed an affirmative.

“They’re very resilient,” Tensei said. “With support, they’ll be okay.”

“Yeah,” Shouta agreed. “They are. But they’re still sixteen-year-old children with a plethora of prior issues.” They may be resilient, but even the most resilient people could fall and fall hard—Shouta had been one of those teens described as resilient once, and his fall had been nothing short of spectacular.

Tensei picked up on his train of thought.

“You’re worried about them breaking down like you did,” he said. Shouta opened his eyes again and looked up at Tensei, who was looking into the distance, his thinking face on. His golden eyes were glinting in the warm half-light from the dim lamp.

“It feels almost insensitive to say this, but they have a much stronger support system than you did when you were their age,” he eventually said. “It might still happen, but their class is much closer than ours ever was. You could almost mistake them for a family of sorts, honestly. And they both have supportive family members and a very strong relationship with each other and my brother. And they have people who know what signs to look out for.”

He stopped talking as he kept running his fingers through Shouta’s hair.

“We’ll all be diligent. We’re going to make sure that they come out of this and heal strong. And if nothing else, they have you looking out for them.”

Shouta blinked. “Me?”

Tensei’s smile was soft and warm and Shouta noticed the way the corners of his eyes wrinkled, getting slightly deeper over the years but still wrinkling when he smiled the way they always did.

“Yeah, you,” he said. “You love those kids—”

“Love is a strong word—”

“You love those kids, Shouta, and don’t try to convince me otherwise, I know you, and you have and would again put your life on the line to protect them. They have you, and I’m sure that you’re not going to let them fall through the cracks.”

It went quiet for a moment. The room was still except for their breathing and the movement of Tensei’s hand through Shouta’s hair.

“They have you, and you may not show it in all the traditional ways, but you love so much and so big, Shouta,” Tensei whispered. “They’re very, very lucky to have you… I’m very, very lucky to have you.”

Shouta’s breath caught in his throat, and for a moment, he thought he might cry. Instead, he slowly sat up and turned to face Tensei. He leaned in, slowly, quietly, and Tensei tilted his head and lifted his chin, lips parted.

His lips were warm as they met. Tonight’s kisses were slow, soft, sweet. Tensei pulled Shouta onto his lap, hands strong and warm points of contact on his back. Shouta reached up and cradled Tensei’s face in his hands. They stopped kissing for a moment and Shouta gently ran his thumbs over the contours of Tensei’s cheekbones.

His chest was light, and although the headache was still there it wasn’t anything to be focusing on. Breaths came shallowly to him as they leaned back in and shared one last, long, kiss.

From there, they both maneuvered until they were laying down, under the covers, Tensei holding Shouta close. Shouta exhaled, long and controlled, and leaned his head in closer to Tensei’s chest. Tensei’s heart was beating, right there, next to his cheek, strong and constant, its steadiness calming.

“Thank you,” he murmured.

He felt, more than heard, Tensei’s “you’re welcome”.

Chapter Text

His leg had been freed. Before class that morning, he’d gone to Recovery Girl’s office and she’d used her quirk on him and removed the cast and finally Shouto’s leg was free and he didn’t need to use crutches anymore. His leg still ached, but it probably would for weeks.

It was Wednesday evening, after he had gotten back from visiting Izuku with Tenya, Hagakure, Ashido, Jirou, and Shouji, that Aizawa beckoned him away from the rest of the group.

“We need to talk,” he said. Shouto nodded and followed him over to the main building of UA where (despite the late hour), they entered without issue and Aizawa led him to the first meeting room they encountered.

“You’re probably going to want to sit down for this,” he said, sitting down himself on one of the couches. Shouto sat down across from him, left leg crossed over his right to take weight off his still-healing injury.

Aizawa took a breath and began.

“You’re going to need a psychological evaluation before you can be cleared to both rejoin class practicals and return to any sort of fieldwork you’d get as an intern,” he said.

Shouto’s chest clenched and he nodded. “Yes, sir.” He had been expecting this, but the concept of a psychological evaluation was still nerve-wracking—particularly one that he might not pass.

He watched Aizawa narrow his eyes, and then something in his teacher’s expression softened. Aizawa leaned forward, and for a moment Shouto’s eyes were drawn to the movement of his hair falling in front of his shoulder until his voice drew his attention back.

“A failed psych eval doesn’t mean the end of a career,” he said. “They’re a regular part of hero work, and almost every pro I know has failed at least one.”

“Even you?”

The question had left his mouth before Shouto had a chance to think it over, and a thrill of surprise ran through him as Aizawa nodded.

“Yes, even me,” he agreed, and Shouto didn’t press the topic.

There was a more pressing concern, anyways. “What happens if I… do fail it?”

Aizawa blinked and was quiet for a moment.

“You’d see a therapist,” he said. “Even if you pass your eval, I’d still recommend it.”

Shouto nodded. “So when is it?”

“It could be as soon as tomorrow, although it doesn’t have to be,” Aizawa replied. He leaned back and looked off to the side, running a hand through his hair as he frowned into the distance. “I’d get it done soon. As much as they’re a regular part of hero work, they’re never a pleasant thing to have done.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” Shouto didn’t even have to think about it. He just wanted it out of the way. Aizawa looked back over in his direction.

“You have two options then. You can either be pulled out of class during heroics, or you can do it after school, although that would mean you would miss visiting Midoriya,” he said.

“I’d rather be pulled out of class.” Shouto thought Aizawa looked unsurprised.

“Any more questions?” Aizawa asked, and Shouto exhaled before answering.

“Izuku will have to have one, too,” he said. It wasn’t so much a question as asking for confirmation. If Shouto was being evaluated, then Izuku probably was, too.

Aizawa nodded. Shouto blinked and looked down at his lap, hair falling in front of his face.

“I… don’t have anymore questions,” he said, and watched Aizawa stand from the corner of his eyes.

“Then I’ll take you back to the dorms,” he replied, and Shouto stood and followed him from the meeting room. Neither of them talked on the way back until Aizawa held out a hand to stop Shouto a few feet from the door to the 2-A dorms.

“Sir?” he asked, and Aizawa, oddly enough, made eye contact.

“No matter the outcome of the eval, your position in the hero course is secure. You have more potential than you know and I won’t let anyone deny you of it.”

He turned, leaving Shouto standing there, reeling. It took him several moments to recollect himself, and by then, Aizawa was far enough away that it would just be awkward to say anything more to him, so he took a deep breath and headed inside.

Ochako was waiting for him.

“Tsu and I made you dinner!” She fell into step next to him, skipping along with a large smile on her face. “Did you have a good visit?”

Shouto nodded.

“Mina said that Mr. Aizawa pulled you aside?” she asked, and Shouto nodded again.

“I’m having a psych eval tomorrow,” he replied, voice pitched soft. Ochako froze for a moment.

“Oh. Well, I suppose that makes sense,” she replied. “I suppose Izuku will be getting one too.”

Shouto nodded as they walked into the kitchen. There was a bowl of food sitting on the counter, and Ochako picked it up and handed it to him, along with a pair of chopsticks.

“Thank you,” he said, and she grinned.

“It’s no problem! Tsu wanted to try out a new recipe, but don’t worry, we already had it so don’t worry—”

“About it accidentally poisoning you!”

Mina was standing in the doorway, a huge shit-eating grin on her face. Ochako groaned and buried her head in her hands.

“Mina!”

Apparently, your classmates never let you live down the one time you gave them food poisoning. He’s not worried about it, since the last occurrence was completely out of Ochako’s control, and left her to Mina’s teasing as he carried his dinner upstairs.

He ate slowly, giving himself time to think. The new recipe was good, tangy but not too strong, and all too soon the food was gone and there was no more excuse that he could give that would make sense to himself. He picked up his phone and called the first contact on his favorites list.

It took a few moments for her to pick up.

“Shouto? Is everything okay?” Fuyumi sounded concerned.

“I’m… fine,” he replied. “I have a psychological evaluation tomorrow.”

“Oh.” She paused. “That’s not surprising. And not unusual, either. It’s a requirement to have one every six months to keep your hero license.”

“Oh.” He blinked and looked down, nibbling at his lip. “Has he ever failed one?”

He could hear her sigh. “No. Somehow.”

It wasn’t anything less than he was expecting.

“Although, Ryuko says that rumors in the hero community say that he’s collected more than ten ‘recommend not to renew’ marks.”

He choked on his spit. “Ten?”

“Ten,” Fuyumi agreed. “Honestly, I’m not sure how he still has it.”

“Izuku says it’s the bias towards cishet men with strong, flashy quirks,” Shouto replied.

“He’s probably right,” she said. He could almost see her nodding. “Anyways, even if you fail your upcoming eval, I highly doubt they’d remove you from the hero course. You’re one of the best students.”

He felt his cheeks heating up. “…Mr. Aizawa told me that my spot is guaranteed.”

“See? Nothing to worry about there. And… Shouto, if you do fail it, and he somehow finds out about it, I’ll keep him away.”

“Fuyumi,” he whispered.

“I’ll call Ryuko and have her come up with some sort of emergency or something,” she replied. “Just trust me. Now. Enough of that. Tell me about the rest of your day. How was your visit to Izuku?”

“It was good. Hatsume knocked a glass of milk into Ochako’s lap during lunch today…”

 

At the same time Todoroki was on the phone with his sister, Shouta was back in the car with Nemuri.

“I don’t see why you couldn’t’ve had this conversation while we were there earlier,” she was saying. “That would be more efficient, you know?”

“My brain decided I should do it this way,” he replied.

She sighed. “Yes. Your brain, which is you, you nitwit.”

“You know what I mean,” he grumbled. She hummed and shrugged.

“I guess.” she fell quiet as she pulled into the hospital parking lot. She parked the car and they both quickly exited it.

The evening was still warm and muggy and the western sky was orange while a dark stormfront moved in from the south. A dry wind was blowing across the parking lot, carrying the odd piece of trash with it and making a mess of Shouta and Nemuri’s hair.

They powerwalked across the parking lot and inside and then made their way up to Midoriya’s room, passing Nurse Kajitani as they went. When they reached the door to his room, Shouta knocked, waited five seconds, and then opened the door.

Midoriya was alone, sitting cross-legged on his bed and sliding a marker into his book.

“Alone tonight?” Nemuri asked, and Midoriya nodded.

“Mom got called in for an extra shift at work,” he replied. Nemuri winced.

“That sucks, kiddo,” she replied. “I’ll be outside.” Midoriya tilted his head and then looked quizzically in Shouta’s direction as she left.

“Nurse Kajitani has probably already spoken to you about your psychological evaluation,” Shouta said, pulling over the chair and sitting down.

“Yes,” Midoriya replied, nodding and looking down at his lap. “It’s tomorrow morning. It’s… unlikely that I’ll pass it.”

So Yagi had been talking to him. Shouta nodded. “Failing one psych eval isn’t the end of a career.”

“I know,” Midoriya replied. He bit his lip. “I… know that.”

They both fell quiet, and Shouta watched his student. Eventually, Midoriya sighed and looked up.

“I just… I shouldn’t be letting this get in my way. I should be able to handle this.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” Shouta replied. Midoriya lurched backwards and looked at Shouta with wide eyes. “No one can ‘handle’ being kidnapped and tortured for five days. Not adults, not pro heroes, and especially not kids, which you still are, by the way. You can work past this, but you won’t be able to if you’re constantly comparing yourself to an unrealistic standard of behavior.”

Midoriya was staring at him, hands clutching his blanket tightly to his chest and wide eyes tearing up. He didn’t look capable of speech. Shouta blinked and looked to the side and then back at Midoriya.

“You don’t have to be okay until you’re ready to be. No one expects you to be fine right away, and we don’t need you to be, we don’t want you to try to act like it to the detriment of your mental health. It’s okay not to be okay.”

Midoriya stared at him for several moments, sniffed once, and then burst into tears. He curled in on himself, shoulders raising, arms tightening, as he ducked his head. Shouta could hear the sobs he was grimacing against, choking them back. His shoulders were shaking, and it had to be hurting his still-healing side.

A brief memory, vague impressions of Hizashi, Nemuri, and Tensei flashed through Shouta’s head and before he knew it, he was standing and pulling Midoriya close, and Midoriya, in response, released his blanket and his hands latched onto Shouta’s shirt instead. Shouta wrapped his arms around him and he could feel the sobs shaking Midoriya’s entire body.

They stayed there like that for a while, Midoriya crying until he couldn’t anymore, and Shouta holding him and hoping that he hadn’t somehow grandly fucked up. His chest hurt, the physical indicator of his emotions probably just a small shadow of the sort of anguish Midoriya had to be going through.

Something gave him the impression that he hadn’t cried like this yet in the time since he’d been rescued. Or if he had, it’d been while he was alone.

As Midoriya calmed down, he slowly drew away, until he and Shouta were back into the positions they had been. He sniffled a couple times and rubbed his nose with the back of his hand.

His eyes were still watery, and red and puffy, when he talked. “S-sorry.”

“You don’t need to be,” Shouta replied. “And whatever the outcome of the eval tomorrow? Your spot in the hero course is guaranteed.”

“Thanks.” Midoriya was still stuttering, but he was slowly calming down. “I… don’t want to invade your privacy, but… have you…”

“Failed a psych eval?”

Midoriya nodded.

“Yes. Almost every pro I know has failed at least one at some point. Like I said. It’s not going to end your career before it begins.”

Midoriya nodded again. “I guess… I don’t know, it feels like if I’m, uh, if I’m not okay now then I… never will be again.” He looked at his hands and then continued. “Like. What if I never get better? What if I’m always like this, terrified of the door and… and… yeah.”

Silence hung in the air for several seconds. Midoriya’s hair had fallen in front of his face, obscuring his eyes.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to go away. The trauma you’ve faced is always going to affect you, your emotions, the way you interact with people. But it gets better, with time, with therapy, and yes, with medication if it’s needed. How you’re feeling now is not going to be the way you’ll always feel.”

“So I just… have to give it time,” Midoriya murmured.

“You have to give yourself a chance to heal. You have to allow yourself to, and I speak from experience when I say that forcing yourself to be okay is not going to let you heal.” Shouta ran a hand through your hair. “It just deepens the wound.”

“I… thanks.” Midoriya blinked and sniffed. “I’m… sorry for, all that.”

“You don’t have to be,” Shouta repeated. “You don’t have to pretend to be okay.”

Midoriya nodded. “I’ll… see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Shouta replied. “Get some sleep.” He stood up and left the room, finding Nemuri and Nurse Kajitani both talking a little way down the hallway. Nemuri looked over at him as he walked out.

“How’s your problem child?” she asked.

“Still traumatized,” he replied. She nodded and stood up. He walked down the hallway as she said her good-byes to Kajitani and then hurried to catch up with him.

“Was it at least a productive conversation?” she asked.

He grunted. “It was painful and stressful.” A pause. “But I think it was.”

“Well… That’s good, at least! We’ll have to see how things look tomorrow evening, after everything’s said and done,” Nemuri replied, and he nodded. The next day was going to be stressful, for both students, and him once he received their results from the psychologists.

 

Momo focused on the paper in front of her as nearby, Ashido and Hagakure discussed something while Aoyama, Uraraka, Tsuyu, and Jirou worked on their homework. They had all gathered in Tsuyu’s room to work on their homework although Ashido and Hagakure had somehow gotten on the topic of lipstick instead.

She jumped as her phone chimed. She thought she had put it on silent! A couple of the others were checking their phones too, so the message was probably in the group chat, and sure enough, a glance at her phone confirmed it.

[memedoriya]

20:13

so i finished my book

[too tail]

20:13

I have one I think you would like! I could send it with Shouto and Tenya tomorrow.

[memedoriya]

20:13

thanks Mashirao :) i appreciate it

[too tail]

20:14

You’re welcome

[katy perry song]

20:14

unrelated but did you know that ice is a mineral

[memedoriya]

20:14

oh that’s cool!

[katy perry song]

20:14

not my ice though :( i’m not a natural geologic process

Uraraka’s snort jerked Momo’s attention away from the conversation and her homework. The other girl was looking at her phone and had her hand over her mouth.

[dirt sandwich]

20:14

who says you’re not!!! be what you want to be!!!

“Mina,” Hagakure whispered, sounding both dismayed and proud.

“Tooru,” Ashido replied, grinning.

[memedoriya]

20:14

i wonder if Pixie-bob’s quirk counts as a natural geologic process

[katy perry song]

20:14

thanks. does that mean you want to be a dirt sandwich

[rat comedian]

20:15

she’s already been a dirt sandwich you fuckface

FUCK

WHO THE FUCK CHANGED MY NAME THIS TIME

[rat comedian] changed his nickname to [explodokills]

[dirt sandwich]

20:15

:D

[explodokills] changed [dirt sandwich]’s nickname to [next]

[next]

20:15

D:

Aoyama put her phone down and looked over at Ashido. “Mina, mon ami, you should probably run. I am sure that Tsuyu would not appreciate having her room exploded.”

“No, she can stay,” Tsuyu interjected. “He won’t try anything with Kyouka here.”

Jirou grinned darkly.

[goth gf]

20:15

i’d like to see you try

[next] changed [katy perry song]’s nickname to [natural geologic process]

[next]

20:15

there you go!!!

“Mina!” Hagakure exclaimed.

[natural geologic process]

20:16

thanks. do tenya next

[Class Pres]

20:16

Do not do Tenya next!

[next] changed [Class Pres]’s nickname to [next 2]

[next]

20:16

:D

[next 2]

20:16

…I guess.

The conversation continued in the group chat, and most of the girls returned to doing their homework until someone knocked very loudly on the door.

“Let me,” Jirou said, standing up and walking to the door. She opened it and there was silence for several moments.

“Step the fuck aside, MCR,” Bakugou growled.

“No,” Jirou replied, and shut the door in his face. The room was quiet until Ashido burst out laughing.

[next] changed [goth gf]’s nickname to [no fear]

[Space Goddess]

20:23

Kyouka just killed Katsuki

[explodokills]

20:23

I Think The Fuck Not!!!!

[discount pyrotechnics]

20:23

“No”—Jirou Kyouka

[a boy and a friend!]

20:23

oh wow Kyouka! power move! you’re so manly!!!

[Space Goddess]

20:24

It was the greatest power move I’ve ever seen

[natural geologic process]

20:24

even greater than me?

[no fear]

20:24

you’re not a power move you’re a bitch

[natural geologic process]

20:24

:(

Momo set her homework aside. She was mostly finished with it, and the chat was buzzing with activity.

[memedoriya]

20:24

Kyouka i was going to be proud of you but unfortunately you decided to insult my boyfriend

[natural geologic process]

20:25

careful he’s going to break his fingers at you

[memedoriya]

20:25

it’s been a pretty successful strategy so far

[Space Goddess]

20:25

No it has not!

Eventually the chat quieted down. Momo was still following it, but Midoriya, Todoroki, Ashido, and Kaminari were the only ones still talking actively.

[memedoriya]

21:34

it’s getting late so i’m gonna go to bed but uh. thanks. for distracting me and stuff

[electric rat]

21:34

no prob!

She stared down at Midoriya’s message and frowned. Distracting him from what? She had some guesses, but some of them were less than good.

“You okay?”

Momo startled and looked up, meeting a worried purple gaze. Jirou was looking at her and twirling one of her earphones around a finger.

“Yes, I’m just… worried about Izuku, is all,” she replied, and Jirou snorted.

“Who isn’t?”

She couldn’t argue with that, and the rest of the girls in the room made various noises of agreement.

“I’m worried about Shouto, too,” Uraraka spoke up. She glanced around the room and then looked back down at the carpet she was laying on. “I… Don’t want to admit it, but I kind of hoped that when they were found we’d just. Go back to normal. But Deku’s still out of class, and Shouto’s been too quiet and… I’m worried about them.”

“I’d hoped that it would be easier when they were found, too,” Aoyama replied, reaching over and putting her hand on Uraraka’s shoulder.

Uraraka sniffed. “I just… It’s not fair! Why them? Out of all of us, why them?”

“Convenience,” Tsuyu replied. “They were the easiest to get to. High-profile but relatively unguarded.”

“I… I know why them but… they’ve both been through so much already,” Uraraka said. She buried her face in her hands. “I… wish it had been me, instead.”

“They’d wish it’d been them if it had been you,” Tsuyu replied. Aoyama was rubbing Uraraka’s shoulder and then shifted to pull her closer and hug her.

“I think we all wish it had been us instead of them,” she murmured. Momo nodded.

“If we could go back and change it, we would, but we can’t,” she said. “So I propose that we stop thinking about what we wish had happened or what we should’ve done better and think about, and do, what can be done better now.”

Uraraka, still held by Aoyama, looked up, her face set in a determined glare. “Yeah! They’re back now. Let’s focus on helping them in whatever way we can!”

“Which starts with getting a good night’s sleep so that we’re well-rested! We all need our beauty sleep; heroes can’t take care of others if they’re first not taking care of themselves,” Aoyama replied. She released Uraraka and stood up, stretching her arms over her head.

“But I haven’t finished this reading!” Hagakure protested. She squeaked as Ashido picked her up.

“You heard Satomi!” Ashido stood up, Hagakure in her arms. “Sleep!”

Hagakure wrapped her arms around Ashido’s shoulders, like she was scared of being dropped. “I’ll go to sleep! You don’t have to carry me to bed!”

“Okay,” Ashido replied. She carefully set Hagakure down, giving the smaller girl a chance to get her feet under her first.

Momo started packing up her study materials as the rest of the girls did the same. Ashido, Aoyama, and Hagakure were the first to leave, talking enthusiastically about hair dye, followed by Uraraka.

“Thank you for letting us use your room to study!” Momo said, turning to Tsuyu and smiling.

“Of course,” Tsuyu replied, and Momo turned to leave. She paused when she saw Jirou still standing there, books tucked up against her side.

“I thought I’d… walk with you,” Jirou offered. Momo blinked and stared for several moments, until she jolted and nodded.

“Yes! I’d like that!” she replied. Jirou opened the door, and held it for her, then followed Momo out of Tsuyu’s room.

The two of them walked most of the way down the hall before Jirou started speaking.

“So, uh, I’ve been… kind of wondering something, for a while…”

“Yeah?” Momo asked. She turned her head to look at Jirou, who was looking down the hall. Her curiosity was piqued.

Jirou twirled her earphone around her finger for a few more moments before asking, “do you like girls?”

Momo blinked. “What?”

“I asked if you like girls.”

“I don’t not-like girls,” Momo replied, and then her brain finally caught up. “Oh! Oh, you’re asking if I like girls! Um… you’ll be the first person I’ve told, outside of my family and Satomi, but yeah, I’m a lesbian.” Her heart was pounding like the bass drum in a fast rock song, maybe from one of those punk and alternative bands Jirou liked so much…

“Oh, cool, me too,” Jirou said. “Um… want to maybe… go on a date?”

“We’re not allowed to leave campus without chaperones anymore,” Momo replied automatically. “Uh!” She stopped and turned to face Jirou, blushing like mad. “That’s a yes! Yes, I want to go on a date with you!”

Jirou blinked. “Oh. Neat.” They stood together, quiet, for a few moments. “…Where do you think we should go?”

“Roller skating?” Momo suggested. “We don’t have to decide now though! We can decide in the morning!”

“Roller skating sounds cool,” Jirou replied. “I’ll ask Present Mic to chaperone us then.”

“Present Mic?” Momo asked, and Jirou shrugged.

“He’s cool. He’ll probably sit in the corner and send memes in his group chat or something,” she said.

“Okay,” Momo said, following Jirou as she started walking again. “Do you want to try for this weekend?”

 

All Katsuki wanted was some stupid fucking tea, not to overhear Jirou and Yaoyorozu come out as lesbian to each other and decide to start dating. You know what would be nice? To stop accidentally overhearing very personal conversations between his classmates. The number of times he’d accidentally overheard something he’d very much rather not hear, thank you very much, was astonishing.

Okay, tea. Tea before bed, that’s what he’d been doing before he’d heard the whole lesbians confession.

He continued walking, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his pants, and thinking. Maybe if he’d already taken out his hearing aids he wouldn’t’ve had to overhear that, although with his luck he would’ve anyways.

The kitchen wasn’t empty when he walked into it. Someone was already there, making hot chocolate.

“Hanta,” he grunted, and the taller boy turned around with a grin.

“Hey, Katsuki!” he said. “You look grumpier than usual, is everything alright?”

“Everything’s peachy fuckin’ keen,” Katsuki replied, grabbing the tea kettle from its cupboard and walking over to the sink.

“Well, that’s good,” Sero replied. “Is all your homework done?”

“Is yours?” Katsuki replied, turning off the tap and carrying the partially-filled kettle over to the stove.

Sero nodded. “I guess yours is definitely done if mine is, then.” Katsuki nodded and leaned against the counter. “So, you didn’t mention what was bothering you.”

Katsuki sighed and glared at the floor. “Heard something I shouldn’t’ve.”

“Hot damn, your habit of sneaking around getting you again.” Sero whistled. Katsuki rolled his eyes. “You talked to them yet?”

“I’m hardly going to walk into the middle of their conversation and say ‘yeah I just heard the two of you come out to each other’.”

“You’re right, man, that’s bad form. Are you going to text them or talk to them in person?” Sero asked, taking a sip of his hot chocolate and grimacing. Must still be too warm or something.

“Probably talk in person,” Katsuki replied, glancing back at the tea kettle. A watched pot never boils, so would one that was only occasionally watched?

“Ah, so it’s a member of the Bakusquad, then.”

Irritation flared in Katsuki’s chest, and to his consternation, he felt his cheeks heat up. “Couldn’t you jackasses call it something else? Like, I don’t know, the Minasquad or Kirisquad?”

“Weren’t you coming for Mina earlier tonight for changing your name in the group chat again?”

He growled. “Doesn’t change that people like her better than they like me. And no one dislikes Eijirou.”

“You included?” Sero asked, smirking.

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Don’t play dumb. It’s fucking insulting.”

“Sorry, man,” Sero replied. “Yeah, you’d have to try really hard to dislike Eijirou. Don’t think it’s humanly possible, myself.”

Silence fell over the kitchen until the tea in the kettle was finally hot enough to make good tea. Katsuki poured his tea and then walked to the stairs. Sero followed him and stopped Katsuki outside the door to his room.

“You can talk to us about anything, you know that, right? The last couple weeks have been… difficult, but you can talk to us, and we’ll listen, okay? We may still be teenagers and prone to dumbass things but at least we can do that for you,” Sero said.

“Yeah,” Katsuki grunted, nodding. Sero seemed satisfied with that.

“Okay, then, sleep well. I’ll see you in the morning,” he said, and turned to walk off, letting Katsuki walk into his room alone.

He’d talk to Jirou tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Ryuko had her own agency that she worked out of, most of the time. Today she was at Takeyama, Kamihara, and Nishiya’s, sitting in a private meeting room with them, all of them wearing their costumes.

“Yeah, I have Eraserhead, Present Mic, and Midnight’s reports right here,” Kamihara said, closing a folder and tossing it over to Takeyama, who opened it and glanced through it.

“Something’s very fucked up here,” she said. “This many young women, all with ostensibly bright futures, throwing them away for villainy? I feel like there’s more behind the scenes.”

“What more,” Kamihara asked, his eyes narrowed and irritation coloring his tone. “The investigations have yet to turn up any connections. As far as I can tell, their only connection is this organization.”

“There is the man in charge of it,” Ryuko pointed out. “Pass me Midoriya’s file.”

Nishiya fished it out of the stack of files and papers on the table he was sitting next to and handed it to Takeyama who handed it to Ryuko. She flipped it open and glanced through it until she found what she wanted. “According to Midoriya’s statement, the man in charge is somehow manipulating or controlling these women. So we need to find him and he’s our connection.”

“I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a minute,” Takeyama said, leaning forward and resting her chin on the back of her hand. “How reliable should we consider his statement? He was in the middle of a highly traumatic experience and then spent the next three days in solitary confinement. That would mess with anyone’s head.”

Ryuko nodded. “It would. But, have you seen that kid’s quirk analyses? And his recall is top-notch, too. Although… I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to move forward with the thought that his statement here is maybe not as reliable as he normally is.”

“It’s too bad we don’t have any more specific description of the ringleader,” Nishiya said. “What we have now only fits… half of Japan.”

The meeting continued, eventually wrapping up later in the afternoon. Ryuko left the meeting room and ducked into one of the dressing rooms to change out of her costume and into civilian garb. Changed into a tank-top and capris with her costume tucked away in its case, she left the agency and took the train to her apartment. She had to climb several flights of stairs to get to it but it wasn’t like she found that level of exertion strenuous.

Fuyumi was already there, sitting on the couch in the living room with an anime on for background noise while she planned lessons. Her hair was pulled back in two French braids, although a few wisps of hair had come free during the day.

“Hello love,” Ryuko said, kicking off her sandals and sliding on her house slippers. Fuyumi looked up, and oh, there was a spot of orange paint on her cheek that she hadn’t washed off yet and a couple speckles of blue on her nose.

“Ryuko!” she said, setting her lesson-planning aside and standing up. “How was your day?” she asked as she walked towards Ryuko.

“Long and routine,” Ryuko replied, meeting Fuyumi halfway and wrapping her up in a hug. Ryuko may be shorter but she sure was buffer. “The paint on your face is adorable.”

“Oh!” Fuyumi blushed. “Uh… I meant to wash that off.”

Ryuko lifted herself up onto her tiptoes to swiftly kiss Fuyumi’s nose. Fuyumi made a high-pitched noise and then pressed a quick kiss to Ryuko’s forehead. Ryuko giggled and then kissed Fuyumi’s chin. They passed quick kisses back and forth, lightning-quick and never striking in the same spot.

It might have escalated further but sometimes adult responsibilities needed to come first. Ryuko had already put off some of the dishes in the sink too long and Fuyumi still had lessons to plan.

They both also had plans that evening, and not of the romantic type. Fuyumi had told Ryuko about Shouto’s upcoming evaluation when they were having dinner the night before, and both of them had agreed to go together to visit him at UA, no matter what the outcome of it was. So when Kayama messaged Ryuko to let her know that they were on the train heading back from the hospital, the two women changed shoes, put on jackets, and left.

Fuyumi and Ryuko reached UA a few minutes after Kayama said that they had arrived, and Kayama herself was waiting at the front gate for them. Her mouth broke into a grin when she saw them.

“Ryuko! Fuyumi! It’s great to see you again,” she said, and then sobered. “Today’s been messy. You were probably already expecting this, but he failed—they both did—so most of the kids are more high-strung than usual today.”

“I teach a room full of three- and four-year-olds, I can handle emotional teenagers,” Fuyumi replied. Kayama handed them visitor’s IDs and then led the way through the gate and towards Alliance Heights.

The three women kept up a friendly chatter as they walked, although Ryuko kept an observant gaze on Fuyumi. Her girlfriend didn’t look much more stressed than normal, which was okay, although Ryuko herself was of the opinion that she could really do with much, much less stress overall.

She wasn’t aware of the whole story yet, but she, like many other pros, knew there was something darker behind Endeavor’s ambition. The way that the three Todoroki siblings that Ryuko knew, and the things she had learned about their relationship with their absent brother, all raised some big red flags.

Her purpose here wasn’t to worry about Endeavor, though. She was here to support her girlfriend and her hopefully future brother-in-law.

(And, meanwhile, the back of her mind could be churning away at the Endeavor-shaped problem plaguing her loved ones.)

“Well, here’s class 2-A’s building,” Kayama said, coming to a stop where another sidewalk split off to head to a dorm building. There were lights on in the windows. “The front door will be unlocked for… Another half-hour, or so.”

“Thank you, Nemuri,” Fuyumi said, and then she and Ryuko walked up to the 2-A dorm while Kayama said her farewell and headed off to the teachers’ building.

There was a group of kids in the common room playing some form of poker together. They seemed to be betting with a mix of candy, bootleg hero figurines, and snacks. Thankfully, Ryuko was familiar enough with class 2-A from the two Sports Festivals they had been in that she could recognize Ashido, Jirou, Uraraka, Kaminari, Satou, and Shinsou, and also, for some reason, Hatsume was there. Even though she was in class 2-H.

Uraraka brightened instantly. “Ryukyu! Oh, and Miss Todoroki!”

“Hey, Uraraka,” Ryukyu replied, waving. “Could any of you give us directions to Shouto’s room?”

“Oh, I’ll show you!” Uraraka replied, scrambling. She shoved her not-inconsiderable pile of winnings towards Jirou. “Kyouka, would you watch this?”

“Sure,” Jirou replied, sticking one of her own pieces of candy in her mouth. It looked like it might have been imported from the US, a sour Twizzler of some sort.

She chattered with them the whole way about this-and-that until they drew close to Shouto’s room.

“Uh, he’s been upset all evening…” she said.

“We know,” Fuyumi replied. “That’s why we’re here. Thank you for showing us to his room.”

“You’re welcome!” Uraraka replied, beaming at them. She jogged off down the hall, leaving Ryuko to knock on the door. A couple moments later, it opened.

“Tenya, I thought you said you were- oh. Hey,” Shouto stuck his head through the crack in the door. “Didn’t know you were coming.”

“We decided to surprise you,” Fuyumi said. “May we come in?”

“Sure,” he replied, stepping aside and opening the door further to let them in. He closed the door behind them.

“I failed the evaluation,” he said, and Fuyumi nodded.

“Yes. And… how do you feel about that?” she asked.

He looked down, fingers rubbing along the hem of his shirt as he thought. “I’m… disappointed. In myself.”

Fuyumi stepped closer to her brother and Ryuko stepped back, letting them have their moment.

“Can you tell me why you feel like that?” Fuyumi asked, and he shrugged.

“I should be better. I’ve been training forever. I should’ve been able to handle it,” he said. It was too matter-of-fact. It didn’t sound completely genuine to Ryuko.

“No amount of training can prepare anyone to face that kind of trauma,” Fuyumi said and Shouto shook his head.

“I’ve already faced trauma on the field. I’ve already faced it,” he said.

Fuyumi sighed and reached out to put her hand on his upper arm. “Trauma once doesn’t inoculate you against being traumatized again.”

Shouto shifted as he leaned into her touch, and then a moment later, she pulled him closer and wrapped her arms around him. He returned the hug, leaning his cheek against her head. They were quiet until they pulled apart again a few moments later.

“Ryuko, what do you have to say?” Fuyumi asked as she and Shouto moved over to sit on his futon. Ryuko followed them.

“Well,” she said, and then paused to collect her thoughts, “I have to agree with you. Facing trauma once doesn’t mean that later traumas won’t affect you, in fact, in my experience, it can mean that they might affect you worse, although if you already have the coping skills from before you can be better equipped to face them.”

Shouto, who was leaning against Fuyumi’s shoulder, nodded.

“I’d be more than willing to share some of mine with you, too…”

 

While Nemuri and Hizashi had left with the students to take them back to UA, Shouta had remained with Midoriya and his mother. There was a conversation they needed to have.

“Everything I hear from Nurse Kajitani points to you returning to class next Wednesday or Thursday. Is that correct?” he asked, pulling a chair over and sitting backwards in it. Midoriya was sitting in his bed, left knee pulled up to his chest and arms wrapped around it, chin resting on it, while his right leg was straight out. In Shouta’s professional opinion, he looked exhausted. His skin was still ashy and, if anything, the dark circles under his eyes were just getting worse.

That would have to be addressed at some point.

Inko, who had sat down on the chair next to his bed, nodded. “Yes, it is. There’s probably someone at UA who could oversee his physical therapy, isn’t there?”

“Not at the moment, although I will be speaking with Nedzu about that. I’m sure he’d prefer to have someone at UA who could handle that,” Shouta replied. He’d prefer to have someone there to handle that, too, just so that Midoriya didn’t have to leave campus just to go to physical therapy. He turned his attention to the teenager in question. “Do you have any questions?”

Midoriya nodded. “Miwa said that she could recommend some therapists but… I was wondering if you, maybe, uh, if you had some? Recommendations?” He was looking in Shouta’s direction, and it sounded more like he just felt awkward instead of embarrassed.

“I could leave a list of people with you when I leave,” Shouta replied. “It may take a couple tries to find the right fit, so don’t feel like you have to go with the first one you pick.”

“Okay,” Midoriya said. “I don’t have any more questions.”

“I do have another for you and your mother,” Shouta said. “You could see Recovery Girl when you return to UA, however, that won’t get you back to practicals or field work any faster. It’s up to the two of you what you do.”

Midoriya shrugged. “I don’t… particularly care. It’d be nice to be walking faster but… I’m not going to need to be until I’m cleared for practicals and the cast will probably be off long before that happens, so, at this point… no, I guess.”

“Are you sure?” Inko asked, and he nodded.

“Yeah,” he replied. “I am.”

“Do either of you have any more questions?” They both answered in the negative. “Could I have something to write that list on?” Midoriya handed him a notebook and Shouta took a couple minutes to write down seven names and then handed the notebook back to Midoriya.

They said their goodbyes and Shouta left the Midoriyas. He took the train back to UA and received a call while he was in transit.

“Mandalay,” he grunted. “How’s Eri?”

“She’s doing great, although she does miss you and everyone else. The camp’s been going fine, and does Saturday still work as a pick-up day? I know things have been… chaotic at UA, and we’d be more than happy to keep her for a few more days if needed.”

“No, Saturday’s fine, it might be one of the other teachers picking her up, though,” he replied.

“That’s fine! She’s been really connecting with a couple of the other campers here: there’s Hitomi, she’s a Hatsume, and Takuya, Miruko’s nephew.”

“That’s good to know,” he said. It was good that Eri was starting to connect to kids her age. The Wild, Wild Pussycats had been holding a two-week camp of sorts, mostly for children who were related to heroes. It had taken a while for Hizashi and Nemuri to convince everyone, but about as soon as they had gotten Eri herself on board with the idea they had everyone else. If Eri was excited about something, especially if that something involved socializing and kids her age, it was hard to deny her that. Shouta’s students were great, and Togata, Amajiki, and Nejire still came by often, but she did need to be able to bond with kids her own age.

“You’re welcome,” Mandalay replied. “Are you doing okay? We heard about the other night, and between that and the past couple of weeks… I’m sure you’re stressed.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “I’m managing it.”

“Let us know if you need anything from us, okay?”

“I will,” he replied.

“Okay. Stay in touch.” Last word had, Mandalay hung up, leaving Shouta with his thoughts and the sound of the couple arguing a few seats away. Honestly, they needed to stop arguing or at least stop doing it so loudly. They were being too aggressively heterosexual for his tastes.

Thankfully, his stop was before they could get around to arguing about dishtowels again. The evening he stepped out of the train into was cool and pleasant, with a bite to the air pointing towards autumn’s approach.

He was walking to the teachers’ building when he noticed two women walking towards him. It took him a moment to recognize Ryukyu and Todoroki Fuyumi. It was lucky they were there; he needed to speak with them and waved them over.

“Eraserhead,” Ryukyu greeted. He dipped his head to her.

“Ryukyu. How’s he doing?”

Fuyumi took a deep breath. She held it for a moment and then exhaled. “He’s having a rough time. Although I assume you already knew that.”

He nodded. “It’s to be expected.”

“I’d talk more, but it’s getting late. Would it be possible to arrange a time to meet and talk later?” Fuyumi asked. He blinked, surprised, an action mirrored by Ryukyu. It took them a few minutes to come up with a time that would (hopefully) work for both of them, and then Fuyumi and Ryukyu were leaving and he was heading for the teachers’ building, wondering about why she wanted to meet. He had his guesses, but only time would tell.

 

Had Izuku gotten any restful sleep since he had left that place? The answer was a resounding no. Oh, he tried, but the only remarkable amounts he managed to get were either drug-induced or nightmare-riddled.

But he was trying tonight, despite how his mind kept constantly fixating on the failed evaluation. The thoughts weren’t true, he knew that, but the dread sat deep in his mangled bones and it wasn’t the kind he could expel himself.

And he was alone. The room was full to the brim with humming, buzzing, the distant noises of the city and the rest of the hospital, but he was alone. It would almost be easier if it were quiet but it also wouldn’t be. His head was buzzing right alongside the noises, but if they weren’t there, it’d be so easy to forget.

To get lost.

To be back in That Room.

He twitched and then turned over onto his right side, ignoring the flare of pain in his ribs. The pressure of his hands on his head helped as he curled up as tightly as he could. It was familiar but it just.

Everything kept reminding him of there.

Part of him wanted to deal with it on his own. He was seventeen, in his second year, he had already been in the field and almost lost his life before and he should be able to handle it.

“No one can ‘handle’ being kidnapped and tortured for five days.”

He was almost an adult. And yet… even adults couldn’t be expected to. Except. He was Midoriya Izuku, the ninth bearer of One For All, training to be the next Symbol of Peace and he had to be able to handle it. He’d need to be unshakeable.

Except.

Maybe he didn’t need to be.

Except.

Maybe he had to be.

Except.

This was going nowhere and he couldn’t sleep.

He didn’t want to feel like this. The way his thoughts spiraled like this and went nowhere but bad places. He had never liked it and he liked it even less after the past weeks.

His phone was on the table. He reached over and picked it up, tapping the passcode in and pulling up a conversation.

me

02:19

are you awake?

Shouto

02:19

no are you

He smiled and wrote his next message.

me

02:19

no! :) :) :)

Shouto

02:19

why are you trxting at 2 am yoi should be aslerp

me

02:20

so should you! you can’t even type right

Shouto

02:20

don’t judge me i’m gay

me

02:20

i know!!! <3

Talking to his friends (and boyfriends and he was still internally reeling over the fact the not one, but two amazing people liked him enough to want to date him) always helped.

The two of them spent an hour and a half texting nonsense back and forth to each other until Shouto presumably fell asleep. Izuku was going to assume that he fell asleep because that was the only acceptable option compared to the others and now his was thinking about the other options.

So. Instead of falling into an anxiety spiral, he switched to his browser and returned to the story he had been reading earlier.

Maybe he wasn’t sleeping. But at least he wasn’t falling into a never-ending stream of repetitive thoughts and anxieties that, if left unchecked, would lead to very bad places.

At least.

 

Tenya was eating breakfast with Tsuyu, Ochako, and Shinsou when Shouto walked over to him and set his phone down in front of him.

“Yes?” he asked, confusion clouding his chest. “What am I supposed to be looking at?”

“Look at who was up at two this morning,” Shouto replied.

“Other than you?” Tenya asked.

Shouto nodded, and Tenya looked down at his phone. The earliest message from Izuku was only a little after two, and the conversation ended around four.

“I presume that’s where you fell asleep?” he asked, and Shouto nodded. “You should message him now and let him know that’s what happened.”

“Okay.” Shouto took his phone back and typed a message. Ochako, Tsuyu, and Shinsou were watching the whole exchange.

“So you and Izuku aren’t sleeping,” Tsuyu said. Shinsou smirked.

“Don’t call them out like that,” he said.

“No, they deserve calling out,” Tenya said. He turned his gaze to Shouto. “You both need sleep. If you’re not sleeping I’m sure that if you talked to a teacher you could work something out.”

Shouto grunted something in reply that sounded like “yeah”, but Tenya wasn’t sure.

“Well, I’m gonna text Deku and tell him to get more sleep,” Ochako said, moving to pull her phone out until Shinsou put his hand on her arm.

“Think about it for a moment,” he said. “He texted Shouto last night. I don’t know if it was a… secrecy, sort of thing, but… I’m just saying we should be careful. I wouldn’t exactly be happy if I found out people were talking about my insomnia without my permission.”

“Oh,” Ochako said. She looked at her phone, then Shinsou, then back to her phone. “And… it might be a one-time thing. It’s probably an empty hope that it is, but maybe it was just tonight!”

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Tenya said. He heard footsteps coming up to the table, and turned around to see Aoyama walk up, the purple streaks in her hair freshly re-dyed.

“What are we talking about?” she asked, sitting down next to Shinsou.

“Izuku,” Shouto replied.

Aoyama nodded. “Ah. Yes. Okay. Do continue.”

“I think we’d reached a conclusion of sorts, honestly,” Tenya replied. And to him, it felt like they had, although ‘wait and see’ felt like an unsatisfying conclusion. There was no action to it, nothing to be done except waiting. And seeing.