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Broken Tethers

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Shoto gently pressed a palm against the glass doors leading to his balcony, easing it open until the thick night air engulfed the space just inside his room. Humidity pricked at his cool skin as he took a couple steps forward and let his elbows rest against the concrete railing, the muggy atmosphere warm and smothering. His knees brushed up against the tall wall keeping him from plummeting to the ground, and he leaned over the barrier slightly to gage how far the fall would be. A twinge of vertigo manifested at a thought compelled by morbid curiosity, and he swayed to match the churning feeling the image of his body lying broken on the courtyard brought.

Tearing his gaze away, he allowed it to sweep over the edges of the property the dorms sat on and up to a far-off treeline. He leaned his cheek against an open palm with a short sigh, barely registering a soft golden glow flickering on somewhere in his peripheral. An unsettling calm washed over him, the unexpected feeling overthrowing the gut-wrenching depression he’d submitted to only moments before and plunging him into a numb daze. The teen absentmindedly brushed at the tear tracks drying on his cheeks, hating the sticky, tight feeling they left in their wake. A gentle breeze offered a momentary reprieve from the heat, weaving through his hair and pushing long bangs into his eyes. The faint buzz of crickets chirping broke through his dulled senses, the only noise managing to stand out in his cloudy head at the time.

Shoto relished in the blankness emptying his mind, forcing his thoughts to burrow back as a creamy white fog took the place of his cognitive function. He stood, still and quiet, for a considerable amount of time, long enough for his legs to stiffen and cramp and for his eyes to glaze over on a specific spot in the middle distance. His fingers began to twitch and shiver as his body temperature dropped slightly, even with the hot air surrounding him, and he was too far gone to remember to adjust his own thermostat.

Todoroki was momentarily snapped out of his stupor when the doors to the balcony a floor down and one unit to the right swung outwards, a concentrated stream of light pouring out of the opening. His eyes slid down and over, fixating on Kirishima’s bright red hair, hanging limp and damp around his shoulders. Deciding he’d rather not have Kirishima aware that he was awake and outside this late, Todoroki carefully slipped back inside and limited the noise he created to the faint click the doors made as they closed and locked.

The bi-colored teen faced into his room, vision blurring and swaying as a choked sob forced its way up his throat. He pressed a palm against his lips to muffle the pathetic noise, but more just sprung up to battle his attempt to keep quiet. His stomach roiled with shame, and he brought his free arm against the tight muscles in his abdomen, fingers clenching against his ribs as his body convulsed and he doubled over. Using the doors behind him for support, he clumsily slid to the floor, pressing his spine to the cool glass behind him and bringing his knees to his chest.

The opaque panes rattled as he shook with stifled sobs, his right hand coming up to layer over his left as he buried his forehead into his knees. It’d been a long time since he’d allowed himself to really cry, and the natural instinct to do so had been forced down so often he no longer knew how to. His chest became tight and constricted as he sucked in spastic breaths, hiccups forming in his esophagus as he hitched in shaky, out of rhythm, gulps of air. The tatami mats pressing into the soles of his feet were meant to be comforting, but in this moment they only served as a tether yanking him deep into his void of repressed memories. Inhibitions, hopes, and goals cracked and fell out from under him, and he started having trouble remembering why he forced himself to get up in the morning.

Growing lightheaded, he allowed himself to keel over sideways. His head gently smacked his desk, and he turned somewhat to bury his face in folded arms as he curled into himself further. He couldn’t remember what it felt like to genuinely smile, he couldn’t remember the times when he’d greet someone for the first time and their gaze wouldn’t directly zero in on his scar, he couldn’t remember what love felt like, if he’d ever even had it, and he couldn’t seem to find the fraying rope he grasped onto to pull himself forward, to keep himself from destroying any chance he had at a future. He couldn’t find his will to live.

Darkness and nausea coiled in his stomach, snaking into his chest and winding around his arms and legs. It overtook any rational thought as he lay there sobbing, curling into himself in the hopes that if he made himself small enough, he could just disappear. His throat constricted as he held back a cry of desperation, and he could vividly recall the feeling of strong, thick fingers curling into the soft flesh there. As he shifted one ankle against the other, he could feel the tight grip grinding into his bones, the force with which he was dragged across the floor. His arms instinctively wrapped around his ribcage, fingers exploring the soft grooves that had been cracked and dislocated and broken over the years.

He blinked once, weakly shaking his head as he attempted to dislodge the spiral of abuse he’d get lodged in if he thought about it any longer. He raised a shaking arm to where his messenger bag sat discarded on the desk chair, clumsily pulling it so it collapsed to the floor beside him. A few stray pencils rolled haphazardly out of the open flap, but Shoto paid them no mind as he blindly let his fingers scrabble across the satin lining to find his phone. He pulled out the small rectangle, his thumb messing up the swipe lock three times before finally managing to draw the design and open his phone.

The teen scanned over a couple ignored text messages, Iida and Midoriya asking why he missed dinner, before bringing up the dial pad. His fingers hovered over the short list of contacts for a good while, wishing he had the mental capacity to text so he wouldn’t have to reveal how hoarse his voice was, before hitting the small call button next to Midoriya’s name and setting it to speakerphone.

There were at least six dial tones before the green-haired boy picked up the phone and a groggy, “hello?” came from the other end.

Shoto breathed into the receiver, anxiety bubbling like toxic waste in his chest, not knowing why he even called and unsure what to say to keep his classmate from marching right up to his room to make sure he was okay. He heard a few small rustles as Midoriya pulled the phone away from his ear and checked the caller ID.

“Todoroki?” He questioned softly, pausing for a beat and then starting again when Shoto stayed silent. “Todoroki, what’s wrong? Why are you calling so late? Are you alright?”

Shoto stifled his response and smashed a finger down on the red button at the bottom of the screen to end the call. After he’d taken a few shallow breaths and calmed down, he realized he’d just practically signed a permission slip for Midoriya to come barging into his dorm room. That brought on even more panic, and he shifted slightly so both his thumbs were drifting over his keyboard.

Sorry, I got up to go to the bathroom and was reading the text you sent earlier when I got back in bed and must have hit the call button by accident.

He hit send and tossed the phone back into his bag, cursing himself for being so stupid. Midoriya definitely wasn’t going to let that go, but he would probably wait until tomorrow to pester him about it. Shoto let his head drop back down to the floor with a soft thud, vaguely registering that he was hyperventilating and his limbs were cramping from the tense, defensive position he’d forced himself into. He tried to will himself to get up, to cram the feelings back down, to stop crying, to do anything to feel less pathetic, but he couldn’t bring himself to do any of it.

A thought that had been making itself known for a few months seeped into his stream of consciousness, and his mind quickly became fixated on the idea. It was vile, selfish, and unbecoming of him, but the bright red warning lights that generally followed the notion didn’t come this time to try and stop him. He slowly uncurled, muscles screaming at him as they stretched, and didn’t protest as the thought wrenched through him, devouring the good memories of late and childhood dreams and desires surfacing to try and offer him a lifeline. Humming lightly, his face grew blank as he hoisted himself upright into a sitting position.

His wet, wavering gaze swept over his dorm room, lazily searching for what could help him achieve his new-found desire as adrenaline began thrumming under his skin. He crawled forward on his knees, weak from sobbing, until he reached the other side of the room. It wasn’t until his fingers were curling around a serrated pocket knife that a twinge of uncertainty erupted in his stomach and he hesitated. He sniffled, brows furrowing, as he used the tiny amount of brain power he had left to consider what the consequences of this action would be.

Nothing came to mind. He couldn’t see a downside, even as his body screamed at him to drop the knife, to go to bed, to sleep away the feeling. Mouth curling to the side, he slowly rolled his left sleeve up to his elbow, mesmerized by the sight of pale blue veins fanning under the thin layer of skin on his inner wrist. The low light highlighted the shifting, pulsing streaks of color, and he aligned the silver blade above them. The points of the knife dug gently into his soft, white skin as he wrenched his eyes shut. A burst of adrenaline flared through his system, his grip on the blade tightening as he yanked it down and sideways.

His skin stung around the shallow cut, and he peeked bi-colored eyes open to survey the damage. It wouldn’t be nearly enough. A couple red beads poked out of the folds, stationary until he tilted his arm to watch them slide down and mar a pale canvas. The droplets wove down the side of his arm, leaving warm red streaks in their wake, and pooled on the back of his forearm before dripping two small circles onto the tatami mats. He thought to himself that the ruby red of his blood was beautiful, and wondered if that’s why his father drew it from him so frequently.

Gritting his teeth, Shoto settled the blade a couple inches closer to his elbow and calmly shut his eyes. Sucking in a sharp breath, he dug the serrated edges deep into his skin before dragging it across his wrist. This time, hot, crimson blood poured out in the wake of the metal, making a mess of his smooth skin and the floor underneath his knees. His breath hitched when he opened his eyes again and stared down, the torn, ragged skin forming a flaw against otherwise unmarked territory.

He knew he had to match the motion on his other wrist before the bleeding one became too limp and useless to do so, so he quickly transferred the knife to his other hand and and forced his weak, trembling fingers to wrap around the handle. Letting his legs slide out so they were sitting bent on either side of him, he brought the blade to his clean wrist. He put as much pressure as he could into settling the metal in his flesh before brutally gutting his right arm. Shoto watched this time, a sick fascination developing as he watched his life’s blood bubble up and out before gravitating to the floor beneath him.

The teen noticed himself growing more and more lightheaded, swaying as his eyelids became heavier and the fog in his head thickened. The exhaustion keeping him wrapped up tight worsened, allowing him to slip into a comforting warmth he couldn’t realize was dangerous. He was still lucid enough to recognize the soft bundle of knocks on his door, and the whispered calling of his name, but he was too far gone to register the danger there or respond in a way that would keep concern from being directed at him.

He felt the blade fall out of his slick fingers, heard it clatter to the floor as he relinquished to the deadly lull of hooded eyelids and the cool acceptance in his belly. Drained of energy and blood, he eventually collapsed on his side with a small thump, his head landing in a growing pool of warm liquid. The incessant knocking became fuzzier, as did his view of the dim room around him. An alluring chill traveled up his spine as he realized he couldn’t answer the person interrupting his suicide attempt if he wanted to.

Chapter Text

Kirishima’s hearing had picked up on a small shuffle and the quiet click of someone’s balcony doors opening and then closing. He’d looked fast enough to recognize the dual-toned head of hair, and had wondered if he was the reason Todoroki went back inside. Huffing quietly to himself, he rubbed the white towel around his shoulders over his neck and up through his hair. Last time he’d glanced at the clock, it’d told him it was about three thirty in the morning. It had him wondering what Todoroki was doing awake.

As for him, he’d woken from a particularly strange dream, the paranoid ache it’d left in his chest trying to tell him is was more like a nightmare, but he didn’t feel like dealing with that at the present moment. Instead of dwelling on it, he’d decided to take a shower and do some stargazing before trying to go back to bed. Now, he wasn’t sure if the unanswered question of his classmate being up this late was going to let him go back to sleep. He guessed Todoroki could have just stayed up late doing homework, or lost track of time, but there was a nervous twinge in his chest that seriously doubted both of those options.

He went back inside, pacing quietly as he let his hair dry. He didn’t really know the guy well enough to know if him being up this late was normal or not, and kind of doubted he’d open the door if he went up there right now, so he tried to finish up some last minute homework in the hopes it’d bore him back to sleep. A few minutes ticked by, and he managed to fill out some math equations with what he hoped were the right answers, before he decided he was much too ancy and curious to even attempt sleep.

Kirishima cautiously opened the door to his dorm room, not bothering to change out of his pajamas, but bringing along a deck of cards as a backup excuse for why he was visiting his classmate in the middle of the night. He quietly closed the door behind him after determining the hallways were empty, and padded silently towards the end of the hall. He took the stairs in case the elevator was so loud it’d give him away, and made his way to what he really hoped was Todoroki’s room. His assumption seemed to be accurate, seeing how there was still a small sliver of faint light coming from under the door he’d stopped in front of.

Swallowing the anxious lump in his throat and plastering on a grin, he raised a hand and softly knocked on his classmate’s door. He leaned forward slightly, listening for any kind of response, and only registered the small clang of metal on wood. His brows furrowed, and he knocked a bit louder and more insistently this time.

“Todoroki,” he hissed, slapping the palm against the thick door when he still didn’t receive a response.

The quiet thump from inside was the last straw, and Kirishima’s stomach dropped as he turned and bolted towards Mr. Aizawa’s room. His fingers fumbled for his phone, sloppily hitting the call button next to his homeroom teacher’s name and pressing the small rectangle to his ear as he ran through the dorms. He would have broken down the door, but it was heavily reinforced against break-ins and this wasn’t really much more than an unsettling hunch. If this really was nothing, if this was Todoroki doing pushups in earbuds or something, he’d deal with the embarrassment later. Better safe than sorry.

He was snapped out of his thoughts as the dial-tone connected and a tired voice drawled into the phone, “What is it Kirishima?”

The boy in question slowed his pace a little so he wasn’t breathing so heavily and jostling the speaker as much. “I’m sorry Mr. Aizawa, I know it’s late, but I think something’s wrong with Todoroki. I saw him out on his balcony briefly and I went and knocked on his door and called out his name but he didn’t respond and I heard a couple weird noises coming from inside. It’s just a hunch, and I could be wrong, but-”

“I’m on my way. Where are you?” Mr. Aizawa cut him off, and he could hear the rustling of fabric as his teacher got dressed.

He gave his location, and Mr. Aizawa was there within moments.

Chapter Text

Aizawa’s mind was racing through scenario after scenario as he tumbled out of his room and forced his legs to carry him towards the student dormitories. He barely felt the hardwood floors pressing against the soles of his shoes as he ran, slipping through the dense shadows that collected in thick patches before dawn. Todoroki was quiet and withdrawn, sure, but not rude enough to flat out ignore a classmate knocking on his door. He had also proven to be an extremely light sleeper, so that ruled out the notion that he was too deep in sleep to hear Kirishima.

The stark red of Kirishima’s hair stood out, even in the dimly-lit hallway, and Aizawa made a beeline for his student, ending the phone call between them and slipping the phone into the pocket of his black jumpsuit. He barely paused a beat before Kirishima noticed his presence and launched into a sprint towards Todoroki’s room, Aizawa following closely behind. The teacher fumbled with the full keyring swaying in his left hand as they darted up a couple flights of stairs, his fingers deftly identifying and tightly wrapping around the key to Todorki’s room.

They arrived at his door within just a few minutes after Kirishima had first knocked, and Aizawa slipped the key into the lock with zero hesitation or warning to anyone inside. He began opening the door before realizing Kirishima was standing just a breath behind him, angled to peer into the room. His student’s wide, red eyes slid to his as Aizawa turned towards him, surveying and assessing the situation for just a second before concluding that he may be able to spare this child from whatever could be beyond Todoroki’s door.

The raven-haired man raised a hand, pointing sharply to his right and taking on an authoritative tone. “Take three steps that way and do not try to look inside when I open the door. Be ready to follow any instructions or call an ambulance if I tell you to. Keep any other students from getting involved.”

Kirishima’s mouth opened, sharp teeth glinting, finger resting against an insubordinate trigger. “But sir-”

“Now,” Aizawa ground out, pressing a palm to the door as his student’s face crumpled and he cowered back a few steps.

The teacher turned his attention back to the task at hand, shoving the door open and bracing himself. It stopped about three quarters of the way through its swing, colliding with the limp hand of the body on the floor. Aizawa’s lungs constricted, forcing his airways closed as ice crackled through his veins and he froze. He stood still for a brief moment as the puddle of cooling blood pushed against his boots before launching into action, shouting at Kirishima to call an ambulance and realizing too late he’d been too loud not to disturb the other students. At this point, getting help for Todoroki was top priority, but he hoped Kirishima would keep his peers from seeing what he was now facing, muttered curses falling from his lips like jumbled prayers.

Todoroki’s body slumped listlessly on the floor, his broad chest shuddering faintly every so often as his body fought to breathe. Blood was everywhere, surrounding and engulfing him. It had soaked through the light blue button down and white undershirt he was wearing, darkening his jeans and creeping up the white strands on the right side of his head as they absorbed the liquid. The deep slits on the insides of his wrists were still providing more, slipping over pale skin to melt into the pool formed beneath his body. Heterochromic irises shifted lazily underneath hooded eyelids, misty and unfocused. A bloody, serrated knife sat between his collapsed hands.

Aizawa surged into motion, yanking and unfolding a clean, thick flannel from Todoroki’s open dresser drawer and kneeling down beside his dying student. He brought the fabric between his teeth and tore it into uneven scraps, roughly pressing them against Todoroki’s marred wrists. After struggling to stop the blood flow for a moment, he realized he didn’t have enough hands to successfully do this alone, and cursed to himself again before calling Kirishima inside.

He gave the redhead a sparing glance when he cautiously entered the room, his phone still clutched in shaking hands. Aizawa absentmindedly realized he hadn’t even registered his student’s call for emergency services. Kirishima’s sunkissed skin paled considerably and his pupils shrunk as he stared, wide-eyed, at the scene before him.

“Wha… Todoroki… I don’t-” He sputtered aimlessly, bracing himself against the doorframe as he dropped his phone in shock and slid to the floor.

Aizawa took as deep a breath as he could as the small rectangular device clattered to the bloody floorboards. “I realize this situation must be very difficult to cope with, but right now we have to make sure he doesn’t bleed out before the paramedics get here, and I need your help to keep pressure on his wrists.”

Kirishima nodded shakily, padding forward on his hands and knees until he was sitting right above Todoroki’s head. Aizawa carefully transferred Todoroki’s right hand into Kirishima’s gentle hold, piling fabric on top of the wound and ordering his student to put pressure on it even as Todoroki squirmed slightly and winced. Aizawa did his best to place his trust in Kirishima, who managed to mostly quell the bleeding after a few moments, and focused on Todoroki’s left wrist, which was considerably worse. Even with the makeshift bandages soaking up the blood and stifling its exit, more was still sliding out and down the sides of his arm.

Nerves bundled in Aizawa’s chest, spurring on the panic that caught in his throat and coiled around his lungs. He could feel Todoroki’s faint, erratic heartbeat under the pads of his fingers, could hear the shallow, rasping breaths that were growing farther apart by the second. He hated the blank, glazed over expression on his student’s lifeless, tearstained face, hated the warm blood easefully gushing out of his wrists, seeping into Aizawa’s pants, hated himself for not catching this behavior before it reached its climax. He dwelled on the desperate anger building in his gut for just a moment before wrenching out of his self-deprecating and unhelpful train of thought, letting himself settle into pro-hero mode to assess the damage. Kirishima seemed to have a good handle on the bleeding on his end as Aizawa struggled with his, and the redhead took the opportunity to lay a gentle hand in Todoroki’s hair. The comforting gesture stirred him slightly, but he was still very clearly not lucid.

“Todoroki, I need you to stay awake. Keep your eyes open. Help is on the way.” Aizawa stated surely, firmly, not knowing if his student could recognize his voice or comprehend his words at this point, but knowing he had to try anyway.

Their homeroom teacher picked up on a small sniffle, and his head snapped up to see tears running down Kirishima’s round cheeks. The teen’s eyes clamped shut against them, his mouth pressed into a thin line as he dipped his head down and tried to keep his body from shaking. There was a hesitant pause, and then. “I-I’m sorry sir… I just…”

Aizawa sucked in his first deep breath since he’d arrived on the scene, the air around them reeking of iron and causing his stomach to roll. “Kirishima, there’s no need for apologies.” He paused, weighing his next sentence. “It’s okay to cry.”

Kirishima sniffled again, a sad, wobbly smile tracing over ashen cheeks. “How did we let it get this bad? I didn’t think he’d ever do something like th-this.” He hiccuped, his fingers tangling in Todoroki’s bloody hair.

Aizawa’s lips pressed into a thin, pained line, and before he could respond, he was cut off by bright, flickering white lights echoing into the small dorm room. The ambulance had finally arrived. That means the students would surely be up soon and questions would inevitably follow as they discovered the reason for it being here.

“Listen Kirishima.” The redhead’s eyes wandered back to meet his from where they’d been watching the rhythmic beams of light shining through the window. “This is a sensitive issue, and should be delivered in a way that won’t cause panic. Please do not tell anyone about what you’ve witnessed here tonight, I will deliver the news when we have the results of Todoroki’s condition. You are welcome to come along to the hospital with me so you don’t have to be alone, and I can arrange for you to see someone you can talk to about what’s happened tonight, but for now I need you to keep this under wraps.”

Kirishima’s eyes trailed down to Todoroki’s blotchy, tear-stained face. “That’s all well and good… but with all due respect, don’t you think Todoroki should wake up with someone he’s close to? I mean I like the guy, but I don’t think I’d be his first pick for who to talk to when he wakes up from a suicide attempt.”

“I’ll be speaking with him when he wakes up, and he’ll surely be put on suicide watch. I’m not sure if they’ll allow visitors.” Aizawa stated firmly, knowing where this was going and not wanting to have to deal with a certain anxiety-riddled forest-haired boy two floors down.

“Even so, shouldn’t we at least tell Midoriya? You know he’ll be less of a… pest… if we explain things instead of trying to keep him at arm’s length. He’s probably the closest thing Todoroki has to a friend here.” Kirishima argued, his tone soft and pleading.

Aizawa huffed, knowing he had a point. He vaguely registered the paramedics quietly making their way down the hall, and wondered if Kirishima had requested that they do their best not to disturb the other students. “Alright, once you’re no longer needed here you may go wake Midoriya and explain the situation. I’ll explain what happened to the paramedics. I want you to call Present Mic. He can take you both to meet us at the hospital, if that’s what you decide to do. That being said, if I find out that you or Midoriya left this campus without a supervisor, you will be in serious trouble. Make sure that Midoriya doesn’t tell anyone else. That goes for you as well, with the exception of Present Mic.”

Kirishima’s face lit up slightly with a tentative smile as he thanked Aizawa, and the paramedics pushed into the room only seconds later.

Chapter Text

Kirishima tumbled back in his best attempt to stay out of the way as Aizawa and Todoroki were swarmed with buzzing paramedics, muttering to each other about blood type and pressure and other things he couldn’t really process. The redhead was gently escorted out into the hall, where he stared blankly at Todoroki’s doorway for a moment before turning and stumbling into a sprint. He’d done his best to redirect Sero and Sato when they’d poked out of their rooms, telling them that Todoroki’s minor injury from earlier that day in training had been worse than they thought and he needed to go to the hospital, but he wasn’t sure how well that excuse would hold. It was the best he could do with the strained worry leaving him raw and slow to react. He racked his brain for Midoriya’s room number, thinking he remembered that he was in the same room as him two floors down, and hoped his autopilot would take his feet there.

He clumsily dashed down three flights of stairs, tripping over himself twice before bursting into the second floor’s hallway and rapping his knuckles against what he thought he remembered was Midoriya’s door. There was a soft shuffle inside and a couple light footsteps before the door swung inward and a sleepy Midoriya was revealed, his form fitted with a set of All Might pajamas. He looked like a child as he rubbed the back of one hand against his sleep-ridden eyes and yawned, and it formed a band of regret and uncertainty around Kirishima’s throat. The redhead really started to question his previous choices, nervously shuffling backward as his brain supplied him with semi-plausible lies to spout off to his classmate, when Midoriya’s wide emerald eyes scanned down to his blood-stained shirt and hands. Kirishima hadn’t even thought about what he must have looked like.

“Kirishima! Are you hurt?” Midoriya cried, leaning forward and pulling Kirishima’s tensed, bloodied arms up to inspect them.

The taller boy swallowed thickly. “Please be quiet, Midoriya.”

His green-haired classmate stared up at him in concern, his voice notably softer as he began again with new questions, “Kirishima, what in the world happened? Why are you bleeding? This looks bad.”

Kirishima’s voice sputtered out, and his eyes crinkled at the edges as he tried not to cry. He shook his head violently, realizing he needed to explain this fast so they could get to the hospital. “It’s not my blood. It’s Todoroki’s.”

Midoriya’s shining eyes widened, and Kirishima watched millions of questions building on his lips. “What-”

“He tried to kill himself.” Kirishima sobbed out, legs buckling on the last syllable. Midoriya stumbled forward quickly, catching his classmate under his arms as Kirishima forced the rest of the words out. “It was pure luck that I found him, I noticed something was off and called Mr. Aizawa and he unlocked the door and there was… there was so much blood. Oh god Midoriya, there was so much b-blood.” Kirishima’s voice caught and he gagged at the thought of the red liquid coating the floor, sinking into his hands and shirt, effectively stealing the life from his classmate.

Midoriya gently bent him over his arm as Kirishima dry heaved, kneading strong fingers into the redhead’s shoulder soothingly. The freckled boy was unnervingly quiet, his synapses probably firing rapidly as he tried to comprehend the situation. Just when Kirishima was gathering his bearings, Midoriya’s fingers froze against his skin and his mouth opened to let a few murmured words fall out. “He tried to call me…”

“Huh?” Kirishima questioned, not sure if he heard him right over his own raspy coughs.

Midoriya’s face shifted from shock to resolve, and he cautiously maneuvered Kirishima back to standing. “We have to go to the hospital, right now. Can you walk?”

Kirishima gently shifted out of his classmate’s arms, answering Midoriya’s question wordlessly and swallowing dryly through his raw throat. “I bargained with Mr. Aizawa to explain the situation to you. We will get in serious trouble if we tell anyone else, or if we try to leave campus on our own.” Midoriya visibly stiffened, clearly unfazed by the set of rules keeping him from helping a friend. Kirishima hurried through his next sentence, attempting to keep his impulsive classmate from doing something stupid when he didn’t need to. “He told me we can call Present Mic and inform him of what happened, and that he should be able to give us a ride to the hospital.”

Midoriya nodded slowly, taking in the new information and seeming slightly pleased despite the obvious worry on his face. “Okay,” he said simply, reaching for the phone on his bedside table.

Kirishima was trying so hard to keep his brain from shutting down, his entire body overwhelmed by the events of the past half hour. His stomach was still in knots, his knees weak and trembling, hearing fading in and out unintentionally. He caught small tidbits of Midoriya’s conversation with Present Mic, but it was like he was speaking in a different language, Kirishima couldn’t put together a cohesive sentence with the words aimlessly drifting to his ears. He vaguely thought to himself that he must be in shock.

Midoriya grabbing his forearm snapped his fuzzy attention to his classmate, and he watched his lips move as he tried to speak to Kirishima. The redhead blinked back, confused, and Midoriya looked at him sadly before turning and hauling Kirishima out of the room with him. He felt like a dead weight, barely managing to put one foot in front of the other as he stumbled after his classmate. He blipped out occasionally, only to come to in a new part of the dormitories.

From Kirishima’s point of view, they’d practically teleported to the lobby, where a disheveled Present Mic was waiting impatiently. His long blond hair was wrapped up in a slightly messy bun, arms crossed over his chest and fingers fiddling with the phone tucked into the nook of his elbow. He was in something akin to pajamas, soft gray pants and a tight black t-shirt with hastily tied sneakers on his feet. Kirishima blinked, taken aback by this casual, quiet side of the teacher generally screaming over everything else. He realized for the first time that Present Mic had striking green eyes, and latched onto that detail as he was coaxed outside and into the backseat of a car, not really registering the temperature change or the leather seat he slumped into.

Chapter Text

Midoriya slumped against the tinted window to his right, forehead pressing against warm glass, gently jostling against it as the car took turns a little too sharply, weaving impatiently through the tight maze of buildings as they sped towards the hospital. Present Mic hadn’t done much to outwardly display his thoughts about the situation they were all struggling to comprehend, but the speedometer ceaselessly teasing the speed limit confirmed Izuku’s guess that he was internally conflicted along with the rest of them. He’d been steady and collected on the phone as Izuku explained the situation, but the anxiety wound tight in the blond’s muscles was evident from the quick glance the teen had gotten in the dorm’s lobby and now his driving.

On the flipside, his classmate appeared hollow, his body listless and unresponsive. Kirishima’s arm brushed lightly against his, warmth drifting off the redhead as he stared forward blankly. Izuku guessed he was in so much shock he’d just shut down, and it was unnerving to see the boy who normally radiated light and energy dry heaving in his arms, so distraught he couldn’t even register what was happening around him anymore.

Izuku sunk into the mess of guilty thoughts collecting in his head, sparing himself the luxury of rationality and reason. His fingers twitched over the screen of his phone, his list of recent calls open to show the timestamp underneath Todoroki’s name. He’d called less than an hour ago, and Izuku couldn’t help but wonder if his friend had called to reach out for help before making his final decision. He remembered hearing soft, uneven breathing, and now that he thought about it, a small sniffle, before the call was cut off and Izuku had wearily stared down at the poorly-devised excuse in his texts before slumping back into bed.

If he had just…

“We’re here.” Present Mic announced softly, turning to face him and Kirishima and resting an elbow on his seat. “Do you two need a minute before we go inside?”

Izuku blinked, turning the question over in his head a few times before managing to comprehend what the words meant when strung together like that. “I don’t,” he murmured quietly, “Kirishima might.”

The redhead perked up slightly as his name was mentioned, and Izuku expected him to respond to his teacher, but Kirishima’s vacant stare just shifted from the windshield in front of him to somewhere beyond the car door and he shoved himself across the seat and out of the vehicle. Izuku’s wide eyes and Present Mic’s careful gaze followed the hollow motions, only jolted out of their uncertainty by the slam of the door shutting. Izuku wondered if Kirishima had even heard the question, or if he’d just finally noticed that they’d stopped coincidentally at the same moment his name had been mentioned.

Present Mic’s mouth tugged into a taut line, the crease between his eyebrows deepening as he twisted around and exited the car, beckoning Izuku to follow. The green-haired boy pushed open his door and stepped out, finding himself standing in the wide parking lot of a hospital he wasn’t sure if he recognized or not. As restless as he’d been to get here, the moment he saw the bright, sterile lights emanating from inside, the anxious energy vibrating through his chest waned and he was struck with the reality of what he was about to walk into. He lurched forward regardless, feet shuffling along the pavement as he followed just behind Kirishima and Present Mic, who now had an arm wrapped tightly around the redhead’s bicep to keep him from walking into something or collapsing.

Izuku’s stomach twisted as they entered the lofty hospital, forcing himself to acclimate to his surroundings as they shifted drastically. The warm, humid atmosphere was replaced by the cool kiss of air conditioning, the dusty rose of early morning sunlight overtaken by a relentless white glare. The lobby was surprisingly uncrowded, and they were immediately welcomed and offered assistance by the man behind the reception desk. Present Mic approached him and spoke in a hushed tone, relaying their situation and requesting to be directed to wherever Mr. Aizawa was waiting for them. The easeful smile on the man’s face waned somewhat and he nodded firmly, calling over another member of the staff to escort them.

It took barely a minute for their guide to arrive, and Izuku followed wordlessly as the trio was led through the quiet halls of the hospital. He forced his attention to focus on the conversation Present Mic and the nurse were having, but it only came in whispered bits and pieces, and from what he could gather, they didn’t really have any conclusive news on how Todoroki was doing. That spiked a dull-edged anger in his stomach, knowing there was nothing the nurse could do about it but still frustrated at the lack of knowledge from someone they were supposed to be able to turn to for reassurance and answers. As they were ushered into an elevator, Present Mic had to yank Kirishima to the side to keep him from slamming into the doors, and the redhead’s gaze cleared momentarily before settling back into a haze as they jolted upwards.

They rode up two stories, the doors sliding open seamlessly and allowing them out into a small hallway. After a short stretch, the narrow space opened up between two sets of rooms, the open floor plan allowing for a spacious lounge equipped with a few circular tables and matching chairs, a navy blue couch, and two vending machines, one for drinks and the other full of snacks.

Izuku’s gaze caught on the slender figure of his raven-haired teacher leaning over one of the tables, palms twitching over the smooth wooden surface. The nurse that had been escorting them hurried off at the beckon of their pager, assuring them all that he’d be back with more information within the hour and encouraging the newcomers to make themselves at home. Izuku barely spared him a second glance, instead watching as Present Mic paused for a moment before guiding Kirishima over to the couch and letting him sink into the cushions. The redhead immediately curled his knees up to his chest, feet resting on the edge of the couch, and folded his arms, burying his head in them.

The blond teacher strode over to where Mr. Aizawa was standing, silently rounding the table and pulling up a chair to sit beside his colleague. Izuku watched, dazed, his mind fixated on one fact that he couldn’t seem to comprehend no matter how hard he thought about it. Todoroki, his friend, his classmate, had tried, and nearly succeeded, in killing himself. What had brought this on? Had something bad happened that he didn’t know about? Was it a spur of the moment decision or was it premeditated? What was the last thing Izuku had said to him? When was the last time he’d seen him? Had he completely missed the signs? What were the signs again? Had he shown any unusual behavior? Had he been suffering all this time? Why hadn’t he said anything? What if he died? What then? What could he have done differently? What if he never got the chance to apologize? What would he tell him if he had the chance to apologize? Would anything make up for the fact that he wasn’t a good enough friend? Would he be able to look at him again without feeling this gut-wrenching guilt? Why wo-

“Midoriya.”

-uld he do something so permanent? Where was he right now? Was it painful, what he’d done? Was he relieved when he realized he was going to die? Or did he regret it? Why didn’t he ever say anything? Did he think no one would care? What if he nev-

“Midoriya.”

-er woke up again? Did he leave a note? Did he explain why in a note somewhere? Was there a reason? Why? Why? WHY?

“Midoriya!” A gravelly voice snapped loudly, and Izuku blinked, vision wavering into focus. Mr. Aizawa was hovering in front of him, hands firmly on his shoulders, and Izuku’s head lolled sideways, heart thrumming against his ribcage. “Midoriya, you’re having a panic attack. I need you to focus.”

Izuku’s eyes darted over every inch of the room, not really gathering information, more so avoiding the dark, insistent eyes latched onto him. His breathing spasmed, hitching in his throat and shuddering in his chest.

“Midoriya look at me, I need you to calm down.” Mr. Aizawa’s voice was soft, concerned, nudging at the part of his mind that could rationalize and process stress.

Wide, green eyes settled onto Mr. Aizawa’s face, just above the scar on his right cheek.

“Good, good. Take longer breaths, space them out, try to ground yourself. Focus on the feeling of my hands on your shoulders.” His teacher spoke softly, and Izuku complied, noting each separate finger curling against his pajama shirt.

The freckled boy’s breathing slowly began to calm, and his gaze became less fuzzy at the edges as the lightheadedness washed away. He wondered if he was getting close to passing out.

“Midoriya, what color is your hair?” Mr. Aizawa asked, searching Izuku’s face as he waited for an answer.

“Green,” he squeaked, closing his eyes for a moment.

“Mmm…” Mr. Aizawa hummed. “What’s my name?”

“Mr. Aizawa,” he murmured, letting out a deep sigh and opening his eyes.

His teacher nodded, satisfied, before removing his hands from his student’s shoulders. “Alright. I have to go contact Endeavor now, and fill out a report for the police. Will you be alright here with Present Mic?”

The panic that had just ebbed spiked back up again at the mention of Todoroki’s father, twisting and writhing down his throat. Before he knew what he was doing, Izuku’s hand lashed out and he tightly wound his fingers into the sleeve of Mr. Aizawa’s black jumpsuit. His teacher’s eyes widened slightly, and the freckled boy would have squeaked if he had any air left in his lungs.

“Midoriya?” Mr. Aizawa questioned softly, calmly. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Izuku’s eyes grew increasingly bigger, his chest clenching as his fingers twitched against the black material grasped between them. “You can’t…” he breathed, barely a whisper.

The raven-haired teacher looked down at him, gaze gentle and concerned. “What is it Midoriya?”

Tears finally pricked at Izuku’s eyes, uncertainty wafting over the part of his brain that wanted to spew the jumble of words collecting on his tongue onto the tiles in front of him. He vehemently shook his head, sucking in shallow breaths, frantic gaze flickering to Kirishima and then Present Mic.

Mr. Aizawa sighed thinly through his nose, letting a palm rest against Izuku’s forest of green curls. “Why don’t we go sit down somewhere private and talk?”

Izuku hesitated momentarily before giving a small, shaky nod, and let his teacher lead him to a sanctioned-off meeting room down the hall. The thin door clicked shut behind them, and Mr. Aizawa guided his student to one of the comfortable office chairs surrounding the long, mahogany table. Izuku gratefully slumped down, resting heavily on the armrest and partially draping himself over the table.

Mr. Aizawa gave him a moment to breathe, which seemed to be easier for him now that they were alone, before gently prodding at what was causing Izuku so much distress. “Midoriya, do you have something you’d like to tell me?” His voice was warm, soothing, and the freckled boy couldn’t help but ease into the safety of it.

“I… if there’s…” Izuku cut himself off, taking a steadying breath. “I’m worried about you calling Todoroki’s father.”

The raven-haired man cocked his head to the side just a bit, questions twitching on his lips as his brow furrowed. After a calculated pause, he took a seat next to his student, folding his arms and gesturing for Izuku to continue.

“I know you can’t exactly withhold information like this but… if you could just… I don’t know… just wait or something…” The green-haired boy stammered, wringing his hands nervously.

Mr. Aizawa watched him fiddle for a moment, as Izuku tried to come up with something, anything he could say that would explain this without having to relinquish all of Todoroki’s secrets. His teacher hummed lowly. “I legally cannot purposefully keep information like this to myself, unless there’s a very good reason. Is there a very good reason I shouldn’t be informing a parent of their suicidal, hospitalized son?”

Izuku swallowed thickly, his right leg bouncing up and down incessantly. “I…” Tears pooled in his lashes and he picked hard enough at one of his cuticles for a dull sting to shudder through the finger as blood was drawn. “I don’t know. Just…”

Mr. Aizawa lightly laid a hand on top of his, pushing his fingers apart before pulling back. “Midoriya, if you have information about what could have caused this, I need to know. Why shouldn’t we call Endeavor?”

Izuku hunched in on himself even further, both legs shaking nervously now. “It really isn’t my place to tell…”

His teacher huffed a long, deep sigh. “Midori-”

The green-haired boy cut him off abruptly, his tone panicked and frantic, “I don’t even know if you’ll believe me!” He cried, clamping his mouth shut as a tear tracked down his face and he wiped it away hastily.

Sorrow laced through his teacher’s expression, and he shut his eyes for a moment before snapping them open to show a determined, level gaze. His voice was tight and firm when he spoke, and his posture straightened slightly. “Midoriya, my students are extremely precious to me. You’re my kids, I’ll always believe you and protect you. I will do what I have to, whatever I have to, to make sure you’re all safe.”

Izuku choked back a sob of relief, although he didn’t know why Mr. Aizawa’s words came as a shock to him. He knew. He knew what the raven-haired man would do for them. He’d seen it. The scar below his right eye was proof of just how much he cared, even if he tried to make it seem like he didn’t.

Mr. Aizawa started up again after the small pause, his voice slowly loosing the calm, steady undertone, “I have one student toeing the line of death right now, who purposefully put himself there, who will wake up terrified and in handcuffs. I have another who’s practically catatonic at this point,” he gestured outside, where Kirishima was probably still sitting in the same spot as he was when they left, “and one more who is asking me not to call the parent of a suicidal child but won’t tell me why. If you have information that will clear up this situation a bit and explain to me why I shouldn’t call the person who should be the first person I tell about their suicidal kid, I need you to tell me.”

Izuku’s eyes widened, and after the hurried plea and the reassuring kindness, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut anymore. He was still brimming with uncertainty as he straightened his back and let the words tumble out of quivering lips, “Todoroki told me about his family life back during the sport’s festival, and since then I’ve asked him for more details here and there. He was born from a quirk marriage, which sole purpose was to ‘breed’ a child powerful enough to best All Might, since Endeavor hadn’t had any success doing that himself. He was the first… ‘successful’ child, and he was kept isolated from his siblings as a child because of it. When his quirk developed, around when he was four or five, his father began harsh training that, from the way Todoroki described it, was more…” Izuku paused, cringing as he recalled the explanations he’d been given. “…abuse than anything else. Endeavor would beat him until he threw up, and he’d beat Todoroki’s mother when she tried to help him.”

Mr. Aizawa’s fingers gripped his knees so tight his knuckles whitened, and Izuku was too scared to look up at his face.

“When he got a bit older, Todoroki’s mom…” he gulped. “She sort of… lost it… she called his left side ‘unbearable,’ and poured boiling water from a tea kettle down his face. After that, Endeavor had her carted off to a mental hospital. According to Todoroki, the training got more intensive after that. He really doesn’t like to talk about it, but if you look closely enough, you can see some of the burn scars on his arms and shoulders and lashings down his back. I have no idea the extent of the abuse, since he’s pretty tight-lipped about it, but it’s obvious to me that it’s been horrific for him, and from the way Todoroki speaks about it, it sounds like he’s been trained into accepting it. I have no doubt Endeavor is very… creative… with both the ways he hurts him and the excuses for why it’s okay for him to do so.”

Izuku paused, his tongue feeling like it was swollen and heavy, even when he knew it wasn’t.

“To Endeavor, Todoroki isn’t even a person, he’s a means to an end, a weapon, an object. I think… I think he won’t react well to Todoroki trying to kill himself, as I suspect he’ll see him as someone trying to steal an object of great importance to him away.”

He stopped, forcing himself to shut up before he continued on rambling. There was a long, heavy pause, only Izuku’s rushed breaths and Mr. Aizawa’s labored ones filling the silence. One of Mr. Aizawa’s hands left his leg, and Izuku’s eyes followed it up as the raven-haired teacher covered his mouth with his palm. The freckled teen’s gaze wandered over his face, taking in the red-rimmed eyes staring off to his left, the tight crease between his eyebrows, the pad of his thumb pressing against the side of his nose.

They stayed like that for just a moment, before Mr. Aizawa limply dropped his hand and a raw, strained voice that Izuku had never heard from him before asked him, “why didn’t you tell any of this to me before?”

Izuku shriveled, and his voice wavered as he bit the inside of his cheek. “I wanted to…” he choked out. “I begged him to tell you, but he… he was so certain you wouldn’t believe him. Apparently, he’s tried telling adults he trusted around him before and they either brushed him off or told his father and he would get so severely punished that he locked up any time I tried to talk to him about it. One of the people he told said to him that his father was too great a hero to do something like that, and that he must be lying to get attention. Another told him that him being abused was the price the world had to pay for the number two hero being in commission. He said he’d become a murderer if he told and got his father incarcerated, that he’d keep him from saving those in need. Plus, Endeavor is just… he’s rich and he’s famous and has title and position and respect, and Todoroki refuses to see that there’s even a chance for him to get help.” Izuku took a deep breath before the tears started falling in waves. “I just… I didn’t want to betray Todoroki’s trust in me, I tried to help him in any ways I could, but if I’d know it’d lead to… lead to this I-” he broke off with a sob, pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes.

Izuku cried, the dam finally breaking and letting loose wave after wave of blinding tears as he hunched over, his chest aching as he tried to breathe through the storm. There was a short pause before he felt warm, tentative arms surrounding his shoulders and he looked up to see Mr. Aizawa’s blurry shoulder next to his face. The teen immediately accepted the cautious hug, lurching forward until his cheek was pressed against Mr. Aizawa’s collarbone and he was surrounded by a strong, warm embrace. He wrapped his arms around his teacher’s sides, clutching onto him as sobs raked through his shuddering body.

“I-I’m so-rry… I’m s-sorry…” Izuku stuttered between gasps, fingers clutching onto the back of Mr. Aizawa’s black jumpsuit. “I’m sorry!” He wailed, burying his face into the soft fabric and feeling his teacher’s hand against the back of his head, stroking through his curls.

“Shh… shh… it’s okay. This is not your fault Midoriya.” Mr. Aizawa whispered, just loud enough to be heard over Izuku’s broken sobbing. “It’s okay… it’s okay.”

“No… no nothing is okay!” Izuku cried, gasping and heaving. “Everything about this is wrong!”

“I know… I know… but there’s nothing we can do now but be there for him when he wakes up.”

“But we don’t even know if he will,” Izuku murmured shakily, a new round of tears bursting forth as the thought cemented itself.

Mr. Aizawa paused for a moment, waiting until the freckled boy’s crying died down a bit to respond. “He will. He has to.”

Izuku felt a deep pit of exhaustion forming behind his eyes, chest sore and aching from the convulsions. He melted into the safe arms surrounding him, working to match his breathing with Mr. Aizawa’s as he sputtered on the last, lingering tears. Slowly, they were wrapped in relative silence as Izuku succumbed to the empty, cold feeling in his bones and his crying flickered out. Once he was deemed calm, Mr. Aizawa released him cautiously, dark eyes scanning over Izuku’s puffy face to make sure his student was relatively alright.

The green-haired boy swiped at the numerous tear tracks curving down his cheeks, hating the tight, sticky feeling they created as they pinched his skin. He leveled his breathing to a decently smooth rise and fall, offering a small smile to Mr. Aizawa. His teacher nodded in acknowledgement, giving him a moment to collect himself before beckoning him outside and leading him to where Kirishima was still balled up on the couch.

Izuku cautiously took a seat beside his friend, letting his hand fall to rest between the redhead’s shoulder blades. Mr. Aizawa announced that he was going to go file a report, assurring Izuku that he would do everything necessary to keep Todoroki safe. His student nodded, the worried knot wound tight in his chest loosing slightly. While his teacher did like to pull things over on his class from time to time, this wasn’t something he’d take with even a grain of hilarity, and Izuku knew that he would keep to his word.

He watched the raven-haired man pull Present Mic aside momentarily, making small gestures and talking quietly, before looking at Izuku to reassure him one more time before heading down the hallway and getting in the elevator. The green-haired boy was still having difficulty wrapping his head around the stoic, standoffish appearance of their teacher and the soft, safe comfort he’d provided just moments before. Izuku had known he cared deeply for his students, but his faith in them often kept him from intervening.

Taking a deep breath, the freckled boy felt a renewed need to help Kirishima, and now that he had screamed and cried and let it all out, he felt he could do just that without his own feelings getting in the way. He gently rubbed circles into the redhead’s tensed back, feeling the muscles ease slightly at the gesture.

“Kirishima, why don’t you come with me and we go get you washed up?” Izuku pleaded quietly, leaning in so his classmate was sure to hear him.

There was a barely-visible shake of his head, and he barely caught the whispered, “I’m fine like this.”

Izuku huffed softly, bringing his hands up to Kirishima’s crossed arms and gently pulling them apart from each other. They ended up listless at his sides when he let go, and the green-haired teen went to slowly push his head away from his knees. “Come on, you must be really uncomfortable. You won’t have to do anything but walk and stand there as I wash you up, okay? It’s okay, just come with me.”

Kirishima’s tiny sniffle was almost inaudible, but when Izuku managed to get the redhead to look at him, he felt a few chunks of his now-brittle heart crack and crumble away. His classmate, his friend, looked utterly defeated. There was no shine in his dull red eyes, no wide smile revealing sharp teeth, no laugh lines or energy or anything but an empty, closed off, shell.

Izuku’s lips pressed into a thin line of worry, and he coaxed Kirishima to standing, wrapping an arm around his waist and throwing one of the redhead’s arms around his shoulders. “Look, I’ll even help you get there. Just walk with me okay?”

Surprisingly, he got a slight nod at the question, and the pair started off down the hall together. It didn’t take long at all to get to the spacious bathrooms, but Izuku had to consistently keep his friend from wobbling sideways or giving up on walking completely. Once they arrived, the green-haired teen quickly decided he wasn’t going to try and keep the other upright, instead opting for lifting Kirishima onto the low counter and pushing him back just enough that the backs of his knees pressed against the counter’s edge.

Izuku snatched a few paper towels out of the dispenser, wetting them and applying a small amount of foamy soap before starting to softly scrub at Kirishima’s bloody arms. The rhythmic motions seemed to calm them both, the sound and texture keeping them grounded. The redhead watched as his friend cleaned the dried, caked blood away, his sun kissed skin beginning to peek through again. The fibers were rough against the pads of Izuku’s fingers as he worked ceaselessly to erase the horror etched all over Kirishima’s skin.

It startled them both when Kirishima’s cracking voice piped up, “I don’t understand this… I don’t understand how anyone could ever do something like this… how someone could feel so horrible about themselves and their situation that they can’t bear to live anymore, that they can’t see any other options.” His gaze remained fixed somewhere in the middle distance over Izuku’s shoulder, but his classmate could see recognition and function beginning to surface again.

The freckled teen sighed softly, contemplating what to say next and accidentally going with the first thing that came to mind. “I considered it once, in middle school.”

Soft red eyes finally sharpened into focus, darting down to look at the boy still scrubbing at Todoroki’s dried blood. “What?”

Izuku huffed a sad chuckle. “I mean, it wasn’t really a cohesive thought process, but I got close to doing it. I don’t know why Todoroki did this, whether it was premeditated or a spur of the moment decision, but it doesn’t take much to trigger the thought process when you’ve been suffering for a long time, and when you’re… well… not thinking straight, it seems like a simple solution.”

There was a full pause, the air feeling heavy with the silence before Izuku started again.

“From my experience, it’s like tunnel vision. I ended up on the edge of my school’s rooftop one day, and I can’t even remember how I got up there. I stood for a long time, staring down at the ground, and all of a sudden, a flood of certainty that this was the wrong choice overcame me and I fell backwards onto the roof. I sat there crying for what felt like forever, long enough for the sun to tease the horizon. I never told anyone about it, and I’ve never felt that way since. For me, it was a drastic reaction to something I would normally have ignored. Although… well yeah.”

The silence thickened, and Izuku tried to make his mouth move to fill it as it became increasingly uncomfortable. His hands had stopped on Kirishima’s biceps, just under the cuffs of his t-shirt, and were now trembling. He hadn’t meant to tell anyone that, not ever, but just now it had come spilling out of him with zero resistance, and he wondered if he’d scared his classmate off, or back into his catatonic state. That question was answered soon after, as Kirishima lurched forward and wrapped strong arms around Izuku’s shoulders.

Kirishima’s body radiated a fierce warmth, different than that of Mr. Aizawa’s, and Izuku leaned into the hug, knowing this could comfort the redhead just as much as it was intended to help him. His classmate breathed for a moment, seemingly collecting his thoughts, before he spoke in a solemn tone Izuku had never expected to hear from him. “I’m so, so happy you’re alive, Midoriya.”

Izuku stiffened, squeaking slightly, and wrapped his arms around Kirishima’s broad back. “So am I. I can’t imagine the pain I would have put my mother through if I’d done that. I have so much to live for now, so much to smile about. I just hope that when Todoroki wakes up, we can help him feel relieved that he was saved before it was too late.”

The redhead pulled back a little, steeling his grip on Izuku’s shoulder. “Yeah! We’ll make sure of it.”

The freckled teen blinked, wide eyes taking in all the glorious sunshine that radiated from Kirishima’s big, wobbly grin. Izuku gave a curt nod, offering a smile of his own, before he turned back to work on cleaning up all the blood. A newfound hope soared in his chest at the sight of his bubbly classmate snapping back to reality, even if he could still see the empty darkness in his eyes. They would get through this. He wasn’t alone, and neither was Todoroki.

Chapter Text

For the first time in years, Aizawa had no idea what he was supposed to do. He knew the legal steps he had to take, knew he’d have to explain the inconceivable horrors that had taken place tonight to his students, knew that he would never stop until Endeavor had been dealt with, whatever that entailed, but he had no idea what he was supposed to do with the soul-crushing, devastating, inferno of rage and guilt and anguish writhing through his body, no idea what he was supposed to say to Todoroki when he woke up, no idea how to help Midoriya or Kirishima or even how to keep himself standing. Once he had turned the corner and was out of his student’s sight, he’d lurched into the nearest wall, crushing the heels of his palms into his eyes.

He pressed down, down, down into the sockets, generating a protesting sting of pain, the pressure in his head building as he sucked in one shallow breath and then another. Snippets of the past few hours flashed behind closed eyelids, each image distorted and rimmed with panic. The vibrant red of Todoroki’s blood staining his hands, his hazy, mismatched eyes, so empty and raw, wandering aimlessly, the small flecks of skin collected on the jagged edges of the knife. Kirishima’s body going limp at the sight, him sliding down the door frame, the clunk of his phone hitting the floor, the desperate attempts to stop the bleeding, the slight brush of his fingers through bi-colored hair in an attempt at comfort. Midoriya’s green curls underneath his hands, the cracked, raw voice divulging his classmate’s abuse, his shoulders convulsing with broken, terrified, guilt-wracked sobs, the devastating loss writing itself into hollow green eyes. Whatever remaining innocence these three students had been gripping to their chests was gone, stolen away by the anguish and fear Endeavor had inflicted on his child.

Aizawa was no stranger to fear, to pain, to anger, to the feeling of wanting to rip someone else apart for what they’d done, but this… this wasn’t forcing him into action, it wasn’t riling him up to fight, it was keeping him stagnant, shattered, frozen. He wasn’t standing in front of his student, defending Todoroki from his father’s blows and harsh treatment. He wasn’t ripping the blade out of his hands in the dark, early hours of the morning and telling him all the reasons he had to live on. He wasn’t pulling his student aside to ask why he was so shaken when Endeavor was around at the sport’s festival. He wasn’t prompting him to make friends, to assert himself, to spend some time in the common room with his peers. Instead, he was standing, useless, in a hospital with nothing to do but file paperwork and wait out the time it took for Todoroki to wake up. He was standing, waiting, having done nothing to help one of his fifteen year old students before they were so far gone they tried to take their own life.

He should have known something was very, very wrong. Maybe he did, subconsciously, and he thought back to the week before, when he’d contemplated pulling Todoroki aside to check in on his progress and had spaced it. He was the one who was supposed to notice, supposed to have the knowledge to help where his students couldn’t, supposed to intervene and pry if something was noticeably strange, but instead he was useless. Utterly useless. He kept watch over his students, paid attention to their insecurities and weaknesses, knew how to help them train and reach their goals, but this… this was something else entirely. This was so personal, so hard to clock when Todoroki was clearly desperately trying to keep it secret, and even though Aizawa had noticed a couple things that seemed off about the way he was acting, they could have been chalked up to any number of things.

In the end, it didn’t matter how good Todoroki was at hiding it, Aizawa was still the person who was supposed to notice and intervene, he was still the person Todoroki should have been able to rely on for help and guidance, and instead the teen was lying in a hospital bed down the hall, having slit his wrists under all of their noses. If Kirishima hadn’t had the random urge to check on him, hadn’t caught that slight glimpse of him on his balcony and investigated, Todoroki would be dead. Endeavor was going to have hell to pay, and Aizawa… Aizawa would never let something like this happen again, not ever. There was no way he-

The broken, scrambled train of thought bombarding Aizawa’s exhausted brain came to a screeching halt as he felt a hand land on his shoulder. The raven-haired man pulled his palms away from his face, working to level his eyesight as black pressure spots blurred and faded as he blinked. He deliberately relaxed his posture, rolling his shoulders as the hand dropped away.

“You know, your eyes can’t take any more strain, you really should find a new coping mechanism, Shota.”

Aizawa turned to place a face to the soft, hesitant voice, even though he already knew it was Hizashi by the use of his first name. “Where are Midoriya and Kirishima?”

The blond sighed thinly through his nose, carefully analyzing Aizawa as they made eye contact. “Bathroom. Midoriya’s helping Kirishima wash up. Figured you’d be spiraling, so I decided to check on you, and it looks like I was right.”

Aizawa huffed, gaze roaming over the empty hallway as his arms crossed over his chest defensively. “Not spiraling. Thinking.”

“Mmm…” Hizashi hummed, fingers untangling a few stray hairs that had fallen out of his messy bun. “What did Midoriya have to say?”

The raven-haired teacher let the question lead into a long lull of silence, trying to collect his thoughts into something more tactful, before figuring there was no real point to revealing a horrible truth in a delicate manner. “The basic gist is that Endeavor has been abusing his wife and kids for years and no one has bothered to intervene.”

Hizashi’s fingers snagged in his golden hair, eliciting a wince before his vibrant green eyes widened in shock and disbelief. “What?” he stammered, jaw locking and unlocking as he processed the information. “But… How could… Why?”

“There’s no justified reasoning behind something like this, Hizashi. No point in trying to understand it, we just have to change it.” Aizawa straightened his posture, hearing a few vertebrae crack, and watched the initial shock on Hizashi’s face harden into determination.

“Agreed. You should go back to make sure you’re there when Midoriya and Kirishima get back, and for when Todoroki wakes up. I’ll go to the front desk and see about the paperwork we’ll need to fill out.” Hizashi evenly laid out a plan, working to keep eye contact with the raven-haired man so that he could make sure he was listening to him.

“Alright,” Aizawa drawled, closing his eyes to center himself for a moment before turning to round the corner back towards Todoroki’s room.

There was a soft, small tug on his sleeve as he took a step forward. “Don’t blame yourself for the actions of the villain.”

Aizawa tilted his head slightly, eyeing Hizashi over his shoulder. The blond man, for all his craziness and upbeat energy, was a grounding constant in his life, and Aizawa was glad that he was here. The understanding between the two reached a level of personal that Aizawa didn’t always appreciate, but in this moment, the simple phrase from their hero training days snagged something that had been drifting inside him, and pulled him back to the responsibility and drive he held close. Aizawa gave a firm nod, pulling his sleeve out of Hizashi’s grip and leaving the other in charge of starting the legal process as he forced himself to go back and serve as a support pillar for his students.

Chapter Text

Shoto’s heartbeat thrummed heavily against his skull, sending pulses of dull, hazy pain against the backs of his eyelids. His ears and mouth felt like they were brimming with cotton, and as his mind gradually sharpened into consciousness, he could feel tiny pricking sensations on the tips of his fingers and toes. His skin felt like it was pulling too tight against loose muscles, and he hesitantly wriggled in an attempt to relieve the discomforting feeling. Soft, fleecy fabric brushed against his wrists as he shifted, and his bare neck bristled against a rough pillowcase.

Even grounded in his senses, he couldn’t bring himself to full awareness. He was bundled up in a rosy, comforting fog, and he was determined to bask in the safety of it even as he felt a dull edge of unease drifting nearby. Despite his efforts to slip back into that warm, unconscious state, his body leisurely began to wake up. It started with the brittle, shallow breathing that tore up and down his windpipe, the dry sensation filling out his chest and bringing attention to the soreness twisting through his muscles. The gentle ache in his head eventually grew to an insistent pounding, urgently prodding him to wake up, to open his eyes. He screwed his face up, insistent on staying in bed, and futilely attempted to curl onto his side.

His unease sharpened into panic as two identical shrieks of pain threaded up his forearms, his wrists stilled by something cuffed tightly around them. Shoto tore mismatched eyes open, pupils frantically working to adjust to the soft white light surrounding him. It took only a couple seconds for his brain to catch up with his eyes, and they began to register his unfamiliar surroundings. He fought through the heavy, exhausting daze keeping him pinned to the bed, staring wide-eyed down at the padded restraints around his wrists. It took longer than he’d like to admit for his brain to clock the reasoning behind them, and once he had, the tidal wave of what he’d done hit him like a bullet train.

Shoto’s lips locked into a thin line, body angled up slightly with his head resting on a couple stacked pillows, and he let his bangs fall evenly in front of his eyes. Unease and discomfort coiled around his spine, weaving up around its column and tightening in his throat. Long, pale fingers flexed and released as he worked to calm the suffocating panic engulfing him at the thought of the restraints, and he was relieved to find that he was able to move his ankles if he tried. His thought process came in short, incoherent bursts, and he felt like if he slipped his eyes shut like his body was begging him to, he probably wouldn’t be able to feign off slumber for more than a minute at best.

Instead, he opened his eyes wider, cautiously peeking out from the shield his bangs made against any onlookers, and examined the room. Beyond the soft, honey-colored blanket resting on his lower half was a chair pulled up by the side of his bed. Shoto stared at the bent knees shrouded in a baggy black jumpsuit, ticking by seconds as his brain worked to process the knowledge of who was sitting next to him. It eventually supplied that they probably belonged to Mr. Aizawa, and the thought forced him to swallow, to internalize and shy away from making a show that he was awake.

Why… how had he lived? Why couldn’t he have just… why couldn’t it be over? Why was he still living in this-

“Todoroki,” a low voice rumbled beside him, and a large hand settled on the bed to his right.

The bi-colored teen stared down at his blanket-shrouded knees, vision wavering as an irregular heartbeat thundered between his ears. His fingers twitched, wrists shifting against the padded handcuffs. Panic laced through his veins, pulsing and sizzling as he realized he was trapped on his cot for the foreseeable future. He briefly triggered his quirk, just enough to summon a thin layer of ice over his right side, but as he’d guessed, he felt the slight buzz of Mr. Aizawa’s Erasure concentrating on him and his quirk died in his chest.

“Todoroki, can you answer me?” The cautious voice questioned, and the teen turned the words over in his head as he tried to mold them into something he could understand.

Shoto couldn’t bring himself to reply, or even react. The muscles in his back tensed and released, shoulders twitching as his skin prickled. He was hyper aware of the deep slits on his wrists despite the suffocating drowsiness engulfing his mind. Toxic, searing shame roiled in his stomach, clawing up into his throat to shut him up whenever he was tempted to reply to his concerned teacher.

“Can you hear me?” Mr. Aizawa asked softly, calloused fingers tapping an impatient rhythm beside Shoto’s hip.

The teen’s heart fluttered, the monitor beside him mirroring the response. Mr. Aizawa must be so disappointed in him, so disgusted that he’d do something so weak, so selfish. He didn’t want to be here. Fear slid down his body in streams, weaving through his hair and curling down his limbs, pooling deep in his stomach, befriending his shame.

Where was his father?

The raven-haired teacher beside him seemed to take his heart’s traitorous acceleration as confirmation that Shoto could, indeed, hear him, but he didn’t press the matter any further. “Alright… I’m sure this experience has been very exhausting and overwhelming for you. I’m sorry about the restraints, there’s nothing I can do about them until you talk to a counselor. For now, I’ll let you get some much needed rest. You’re still recovering, I’m surprised you managed to wake up with the amount of drugs in your system.”

Shoto let out a labored breath, chest shuddering as he tilted his chin away in silence. The mention of counseling triggered a spike of anxiety and uncertainty, and he desperately wanted to ask where his father was, but he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know and he was so, so tired. He knew it was rude not to reply to someone talking to you, but he couldn’t seem to come up with anything to say. Nothing he could tell Mr. Aizawa would make up for his colossal failure as a student, as an aspiring hero, as a friend...

He could feel the disappointment leeching off Mr. Aizawa as he stood, the metal chair scraping across the tiled floor until it hit the wall behind it with a clang. Another long pause filled the room, followed by a shaky sigh and a soft shuffle of fabric. Shoto flinched heavily as a large, warm hand descended on his shoulder.

“I honestly can’t find the words to tell you how happy I am that Kirishima noticed something was off and alerted me, how happy I am that you’re alive. You’re obviously hurting, and I don’t think I’m wrong for assuming that you’ve been hurting for a long, long time, but now that I know, you don’t need to struggle alone anymore. I’m here for you, and so are your friends.” Mr. Aizawa paused, his thumb drifting over Shoto’s shoulder. “The doctors will be coming in later to do a psych evaluation, once you’re awake and stable enough. I don’t plan to leave this hospital any time in the near future, so you can count on me to be here if you need anything I can provide. I promise I’m going to keep you safe. I hope you will open up and talk to someone, even if it’s not me.”

Shoto’s chest constricted, tears prickling to the surface and resting against long lashes. Self-loathing lingered on every word his mouth tried to form, locking his voice into aching vocal chords and keeping him from responding to the kind acceptance and care being offered to him. He blinked away the drops collecting at the corners of his eyes, swallowing around the lump in his throat and pressing backwards into the pillows. He felt so exposed, pale skin seeming to have gone completely transparent to display everything that was wrong with him, everything dysfunctional and all the twisted up anger and pain residing just beneath the surface.

Mr. Aizawa waited, holding out hope for a response for a little while longer, and the dual-toned teen could feel the waves of longing ebbing off the raven-haired man to his right. He couldn’t bear to acknowledge his own existence, wishing it had faded away like he’d originally intended. Shoto could hear the gentle hum of the air conditioning, could see muted yellow sunlight refracting off the uniform windows to his left, could feel the pressure resting on his shoulder lift as Mr. Aizawa finally succumbed to Shoto’s shut-down state and quietly left the room.

He was sure he wasn’t going to be truly left alone for the rest of his stay here, guessing that there were cameras angled towards him and nurses stationed outside his room where they could get to him if he tried anything. He was also fairly certain that Mr. Aizawa’s use of Erasure on him earlier had been a precaution, as he could feel quirk suppressants keeping a tight, restrictive hold on his power well. His thought process continuously strayed to the thought of how he must have looked when they found him, weak and bleeding out at his own hands.

It was pathetic, really, that he couldn’t deal with a little training, a little pain, a little yelling, that he could no longer find the will to get up in the morning, couldn’t keep himself from doing something so stupid, something that left him so vulnerable. He was wasting someone else’s blood, blood that should have gone to someone who deserved it, someone who actually wanted it. He was wasting the hospital staff’s time, keeping them from other cases, taking up a room and a bed and IV fluids. He was wasting his teacher’s time, his friend’s time, who should be focusing on molding and becoming the world’s next great heroes but are instead sitting in plastic chairs, eating terrible hospital food, and worrying about him. Or, maybe they didn’t even care, maybe they thought he was a pathetic nuisance, the waste of space he thought he was.

The concoction of drugs in his body surged as his thoughts divulged into senseless self-deprecating ramblings, and he was slowly forced back into unconsciousness.

It seemed he didn’t have control over any facet of his life, not even his own death.

Chapter Text

Yamada had braided five different sections of his hair in five different ways by the time Aizawa came back out of Todoroki’s hospital room. Only one of them was allowed in at a time, so they wouldn’t overwhelm the teen, and so far, Aizawa had only let Hizashi take one ten minute shift so he could go to the bathroom. He’d then demanded they switch eight minutes later. Aizawa looked tired and impatient, at a deeper level than his general bored stature suggested. There was still dried, flaking blood gathered on various areas of Aizawa’s jumpsuit, and his hair was slicked back haphazardly with it.

Hizashi hastily shook his hair out of the complex twists he’d inflicted on it before curling the remaining mess into a tight bun at the back of his scalp and pushing himself off the hospital’s lumpy couch. Aizawa stepped sideways so a pair of murmuring nurses could enter Todoroki’s room and “casually” propped himself against the wall next to the door that swiftly closed once the hospital staff was inside. Despite his efforts to display a general, non-crippling concern that would be acceptable in their current situation, Yamada could see the sharp, threatening tension wound tight in Aizawa’s shoulders, the deep-cut creases settling into his face, the way one ankle would slowly push against the other, rubbing up and down in the form of his telltale nervous tick.

The blond approached his colleague hesitantly, forcing the itch of his quirk’s naturally-rising, fizzing volume down to a soft hum, and leaned just slightly into Aizawa’s personal space. “What happened in there?”

Shota sighed thinly, arms folding tightly over his chest as dark eyes scanned down the hallway. “Where are the students?”

“I’m honestly convinced you don’t understand how questions work. You’re supposed to answer mine before you ask your own,” Hizashi whined softly, concern lacing through the undertones of his speech as he playfully prodded at his friend in an attempt to keep him from spiraling. The dark-haired man was unamused, and shot Hizashi a glare that made his annoyance and brittle exhaustion painfully evident. Yamada pressed the bubbling worry down, opting to simply answer the question, “I asked for a spare room and they’re in that one right over there.” He pointed diagonally to a doorway at the other end of the hall. “I think Kirishima might be sleeping. Midoriya has been nervously muttering for the past half hour, I had to leave. I dunno how Kirishima is sleeping through that.”

Aizawa eyed him somewhat teasingly, sarcasm thick in his tone, “I do hope you realize the irony in that statement.”

Yamada huffed, playing along as he gracefully pushed his arm through Aizawa’s and pulled him into the small lounge area adjacent to Todoroki’s room. He was glad to see that Shota wasn’t letting himself drown in this situation completely, like he tended to do sometimes, and that his dry humor was still somewhat intact. Aizawa sunk into the couch at Hizashi’s instruction, and the blond let himself fall against the cushions too, one knee tucked under him as he leaned forward on the heels of his palms. Yamada let what could only sparingly be called a conversation drop for a moment, knowing it was best to give Aizawa a minute to process before pestering him with questions. It didn’t help that the blond’s heart was physically aching for answers, that his brain was grasping for something he could understand, for some semblance of clarity in this dark, twisting story.

“He won’t talk,” Aizawa stated dryly, fingers picking at the brittle blood coating his sleeves.

Hizashi internalized the new information and waited, rocking back and forth gently, hoping he wouldn’t have to prod for more.

“I know he was awake. I know. The heart monitor confirmed it. I kept trying to talk to him and he just… wouldn’t respond to me. That’s… that’s not what I was expecting.” Aizawa tilted his head to the ceiling, eyes red-rimmed and sunken. “I don’t know what to do with that.”

Yamada’s breath shuttered as he caught the slight sheen in dark eyes, recognizing the infuriating helplessness that must be churning inside Aizawa, and he instinctively reached out to wrap his friend in a hug. The raven-haired man tensed as Hizashi’s palms settled, one on his upper spine and the other on the back of his head. Aizawa wasn’t known for being overly fond of touching, but right now, with the lack of decent sleep and overwhelm muddling his brain, it was simple instinct for Hizashi to physically comfort him.

“When was the last time you slept?” The blond murmured, feeling Aizawa relax into his hold as he ran his fingers through messy black locks.

“I… I’m not sure…” Shota sighed heavily, melting into the embrace and tentatively setting his palms on Hizashi’s knees. “But I can’t now. What if he needs me and I’m too busy resting my eyes to help? I can’t.”

Hizashi’s face contorted into a small, sad smile. “You won’t be able to help him if you pass out. I’ll wake you up when you’re allowed to see him again.”

“No,” came the gruff response against Yamada’s shoulder.

Hizashi huffed, deftly shifting his position to trap an unexpecting Aizawa in his arms. “Hup!” He grunted, hoisting the protesting Shota in his tight grip. “There we go.”

“Put me down right now, bastard,” Aizawa growled, legs kicking out and hands pushing at Hizashi’s chest.

Yamada paused, sighing thinly through his nose and donning a stern voice he almost forgot he possessed, “Shota. If you’re going to keep skipping sleep like a ten year old, I’m going to carry you to bed like a ten year old. Your stubborn ass isn’t helping anyone by refusing one of your body’s needs. I’m almost certain you haven’t eaten anything since yesterday either, but for you, sleep comes first.”

Aizawa blinked, stopping his struggling and tensing up in Hizashi’s arms. “Uh.”

“Shh,” Hizashi ordered, re-distributing Aizawa’s considerable weight with a grunt and starting off down the hall. “I got you a private room. It’s closer to Todoroki’s, so you should hear any big commotion that might happen.”

An embarrassed blush crept up Shota’s neck, and he insisted quietly that he could walk by himself, but after the glare Hizashi shot him, he quietly conceded to being carried. Once they’d walked a few paces down the hall, a bit past Todoroki’s room, the blond shifted all his weight to his dominant leg and kicked open the door to the secondary empty room he’d procured. Hizashi stalked over to one of the empty cots and carefully plopped Aizawa onto the mattress before shoving a fresh black jumpsuit into the bewildered man’s arms.

He received a curious look, to which he replied, “I keep an extra one in my car, because you can’t seem to grasp the fact that normal people change clothes daily.”

“I resent that accusation. Daily for you and daily for me are entirely different things,” Aizawa protested weakly, exhaustion weighing on every aspect of his presence.

“Get changed and go to sleep Shota. I’ll keep things under control, and I’ll wake you up if you’re needed for anything,” Hizashi promised softly, letting his hand fall on Aizawa’s shoulder quickly before retrieving it and heading back out to the lounge.

He picked up on a small, defeated sigh and a few footsteps leading to the bathroom connected to the hospital suite. A small, morbid smile tugged at Yamada’s cheeks; at least now the kids wouldn’t have to deal with their zombie of a teacher being covered in their suicidal classmate’s dried blood. Meandering back down the hallway, Hizashi quietly slid open the door to Kirishima and Midoriya’s commandeered room, finding the two boys splayed out on a twin mattress. It was a bit hard to tell who each limb belonged to, seeing as they were sort of sprawled on top of each other and had haphazardly bunched a blanket over their legs.

Hizashi took it as a win, noticing the peaceful slumber the two had slipped into and smiling sadly at the reality they’d wake up to face. Something knotted up in his chest, the realization that villains and hero work weren’t the only dangers these kids faced. They could pose equal threat to themselves, to each other, and any one of them could decide that it was all too much and end it before anyone had a chance to try and save them. He knew, deep down, that Todoroki was a special case, that he’d been put through especially difficult circumstances, but depression isn’t always a product of circumstance, and they were all on the fast track to extremely taxing careers.

Their school wasn’t doing enough to build mental fortitude, to prepare for traumatic circumstances, to ready their students for the loss that came with failure to protect someone you’ve been trained to save. Their school wasn’t paying enough attention to their student’s mental health, and that was going to have to change. What happened tonight was completely unacceptable, and could have been prevented if they’d been paying more attention. It was a miracle that Todoroki was alive, and honestly, there was a lot of work to be done if they wanted to keep him that way.

Hizashi absentmindedly thumbed through the paper’s he’d requested for the child abuse case he and Aizawa needed to file against Endeavor. He didn’t really have enough information on Todoroki or the situation to properly fill out the required areas, but he did scribble a few notes in here and there of things he’d noticed in his class. Todoroki was similar to Aizawa in a lot of ways, if Hizashi thought about it, and it was clear to him that a lot of the mannerisms, habits, and patterns of speech instilled in the dual-user were trained. A small, insecure part of the blond briefly wondered if they’d even be able to reach Todoroki with how deep-seeded his upbringing seemed to be, before he ground that feeling away and replaced it with drive, with motivation.

He’d been standing over the circular table for maybe five minutes before a couple disjointed shouts echoed down the hallway, snapping Mic out of his musings. His head snapped up at the sound, gaze narrowing in on the two beefy security guards rounding the corner nearest him and making a beeline towards Todoroki’s hospital room. One of the nurses would have had to be in danger for them to be here. Yamada jolted into action, sending a few papers aimlessly fluttering to the tiled floor in the process, and darted over to Aizawa’s room to alert him like he’d said he would.

The raven-haired teacher burst through the door with Hizashi still a couple steps away, looking much more put-together with his fresh clothes and pulled back hair, but still appearing deathly tired and pissed off at the most recent addition to the list of growing worries regarding this day. Yamada knew there was a deep, never-ending concern lingering behind the forwardly-displayed anger, but that didn’t do much to help as Aizawa shoved past him and barked out a firm order to keep Kirishima and Midoriya in their room by any means.

Mic nearly protested, his arm reaching out to his friend to keep him from diving right back into the fray, his chest aching at the thought of more responsibility dropping onto already-sagging shoulders, but he pulled himself back, knowing this would only be the beginning of this draining recovery path, and knowing he’d risk much less if he just played the role intended - no expected - of him. The blond felt the freedom of choice slip through spread fingers as Aizawa plunged through the group of hospital staff gathering half-in and half-out of Todoroki’s room.

Hizashi’s rapidfire thoughts dropped away at the thought of the kids being exposed to more of this mess, this torment, and he sprinted at Kirishima and Midoriya’s room once he caught the slight movement of their door, skidding to a stop in front of the two scared teens and slamming his body into the doorframe, one arm crossing the empty space to keep them inside. The mossy-haired boy startled visibly, holding his hands up in front of his chest defensively, emerald eyes wide and unblinking. The taller of the two held back, sagging from exhaustion, probably having just been jostled out of his slumber by the cries.

“What’s going on Mic-Sensei?” Midoriya asked frantically, bouncing on his toes. “Is Todoroki okay?”

Yamada softened his gaze, shifting his posture to be less rigid and stepping slowly into the room, angling his body in front of the door as he closed it. “I’m sure Todoroki will be alright. I don’t know what the situation is, but Eraserhead is handling it, along with the hospital staff.”

“And you’re here to babysit us so we don’t cause a scene, right?” The redhead asked lightly, his tone lilting like it was meant to be a joke, but it struck a chord deep in Mic, knowing - and hating - that he was here to restrain these two kids while their friend was audibly hurting so close.

Midoriya’s face swiveled to the side to glance at Kirishima, and Hizashi watched the delayed realization don on his features. He then whirled back around to face the blond, eyes set with determination and a twinge of fear. “I can’t sit here and do nothing! I need to go help!” Midoriya pleaded, and it sounded wrong in that tired, drawn voice of his, wrong that he’d have to practically beg Mic to let him be there for his friend.

“I’m sorry, I can’t let you do that,” Yamada relayed quietly, sympathy oozing into his tone.

Green eyes bored into his skull, and Hizashi could sense definite frustration there, laced with worry and drenched in an all-encompassing helplessness. Midoriya managed to take him by surprise, forfeiting all notions of coercion and lunging forward in an attempt to dart under his arm and out into the hallway. Hizashi moved instinctively, ducking down to meet the teen’s level and slamming an arm into his waist as both forces met, pulling the boy against his ribs and forcing Midoriya backwards into the room. Kirishima watched, wide-eyed, gaze drifting to the now empty doorway and back to Mic’s face. The teacher guessed his hesitation was brought forth by not actually knowing if he could help Todoroki if he was with him, not whether or not he was willing to fight his way out of the room.

Midoriya’s green curls bobbed and swayed as the teen weakly tried to wriggle out of Mic’s firm hold, aborted, choked whimpers and gasps leaving his lips as another piercing scream echoed down the hallway. Hizashi knelt down, pulling the shaking teen into a tight hug even as he continued to struggle, palms pressing solidly on his convulsing back.

“Trust that we have this handled, Midoriya. Trust us, that’s all I ask. No one is trying to hurt him, we’re all trying to help, and the best way you can help him right now is to let the doctors and Mr. Aizawa handle this situation,” Hizashi murmured, watching Kirishima sink back onto his mattress wordlessly, thumbs and fingers messily intertwining and cracking as the redhead pulled at them.

“No!” Midoriya cried loudly, fists slamming down on Yamada’s back, chest heaving with breathless sobs. “No, you’re always telling us to sit by and wait and let you handle it and now we’re here in this stupid white hospital, and Todoroki slit his wrists open just a couple floors above me, and he’s screaming and he’s hurt and you’re telling me that I’m. Still. USELESS!”

Hizashi could feel his heart shatter as Midoriya’s brittle scream rattled around his skull, could feel the sharp pain in his chest and the sting in his eyes. He wrapped his arms tighter around the teen’s ribs, running a hand down his back with the small range of motion his restrictions allowed.

“You’re not useless, Midoriya. You’re Todoroki’s closest friend, and you’ll be an immense support for him as he’s recovering. This just isn’t your time, not yet, but it will come. You will help us save him,” Mic focused carefully on each word, hoping he could somehow reach the distraught teenager writing in his arms.

Midoriya’s struggles evolved into heavy, jerking sobs, his body going limp with exhaustion over Hizashi’s shoulder. “Why? Why is this happening? I don’t understand I tried to… this is all so screwed up… why can’t I help… why am I always on the sidelines… watching and waiting and sitting in stupid, stupid white rooms… I’m useless, useless, so utterly useless…even with a quirk I’m still… useless…”

The teen’s coherent sentences rapidly devolved into random mutterings falling out between gasps for breath, and Hizashi pulled his limp body away from his chest, lifting him under the arms and setting him on the bed next to Kirishima, who looked up at Mic, stunned. The redhead quickly snapped out of it as Midoriya swayed into his shoulder, crossing his legs on the bed and pulling the smaller teen onto his lap, curling him against his chest and resting his chin on a bed of green curls. Midoriya just cried, fingers grasping at Kirishima’s shirt, clutching at the one solid, safe thing he could get his hands on. Kirishima murmured small reassurances in his ear, rocking back and forth slightly as Midoriya buried his face into his neck, muffling his sobs as tremors shuddered through him.

Mic wondered how everything went so wrong, so fast, and, for the first time since he’d become a teacher, regretted his over the top, boisterous teaching persona. It meant he didn’t connect with his kids on a personal level, didn’t know what helped them in times of crisis or heartache, led to him sitting across from two broken teenagers he was supposed to be helping, uselessly watching them try to console each other through what would prove to be one of the worst days of their lives. He had nothing to offer, no wisdom or reasoning or even much in the way of physical comfort since he hadn’t purposefully tried to build up trust with them and he didn’t know much about them beyond their quirks, grades, and general demeanor in class.

If anything, he was the useless one.

Chapter Text

Turns out, the screaming that had snapped Aizawa out of a momentary daze wasn’t Todoroki’s. It was that of the nurse now cowering behind one of the security guards, cradling the pink burn licking down his forearm and over his wrist. The machines in the room were going haywire, and the nauseating empty beep of a flatline that had stilled Aizawa in his tracks ended up being a simple misconfiguration in the mess of cords Todoroki was currently yanking against. Two doctors stood to the left of the doorway, buzzing with nerves as they parted for a pair of bulky security guards to push into the room. The raven-haired man easefully slipped past the hospital staff, angling himself in front of the gathering group in hopes of warding off any unwise advances towards his panicking student.

There were too many people in the room for the size of it, three nurses nervously backing away from Todoroki’s cot, one doctor still hovering a few feet away from the teen - the other two having retreated to the safety of the doorway - and the two looming security guards he’d followed inside. It didn’t take long to gather why they’d called for additional personnel, but Aizawa couldn’t help but chide them internally for not calling him in to placate the situation before it escalated this far. He was Todoroki’s guardian, the only one in the room who wasn’t a stranger, and his quirk was perfectly suited to this situation. As it was, the bigger men positioned behind him were only serving to stir up more panic.

Todoroki’s quirk was activating haphazardly, ice streaking in jagged lines down the right side of his cot, stiffening wrinkled sheets and coating the floor and walls with crackling frost. The reflective sheen was spread in patches over his skin as well, the edges blistering and raw. To the dual-user’s left, there were several uneven scorch marks on the nightstand, and a few nickel-sized embers glowed in piles of powdery ash on blackened, burned sheets. He’d obviously ended up hitting the nurse behind Aizawa with his fire, and had definitely burned small holes into the clothing of the doctor hesitantly hovering beside his bed. Aizawa’s gaze flickered over the evidence of Todoroki’s quirk misbehaving, sighing thinly through his nose, knowing Todoroki wouldn’t have done this purposefully, and would have to be scared out of his mind to have this little control over his power.

His suspicions were confirmed as dark eyes fixated on his student. Todoroki had weakly, frantically, scrambled backward against the wall, legs curling up to his chest and wrists straining heavily against the padded restraints keeping him from leaving the cot. Dark red stains were forming on the bandages around his thin wrists, the white cloth also littered with wet patches and small tears edged with soot. The dual-user was barely conscious, heterochromic eyes heavily lidded but still frantically flitting around the room, tears streaking down his face. The teen was shaking so hard the chains connected to his handcuffs were rattling loudly against the metal railings of his cot, and he violently flinched away from anyone who made even a slight move towards him.

Before Aizawa could blink, the guards had surged past him, each one rounding an opposite side of Todoroki’s bed. The reached for the bi-colored boy, roughly grabbing his upper arms and forcing him down flat against the cot. A tiny cry turned into a muffled whimper as the teen writhed in their grip, quirk surging forth in defense as his body struggled against the crushing weight trapping him against the mattress. Aizawa lurched forward, hands reflexively coming up to pry the men off his student by any means necessary, and Erasure flared, preventing Todoroki from doing any permanent damage to himself or the others still crowded into the room.

The teen weakly shivered as his defense was stripped from his control, and his face crumpled, angling away to hide multi-colored eyes under his bangs. He choked parched sobs down, stubbornly keeping his lips sealed even as his torso spasmed with the un-released pressure. His legs thrashed underneath the ruined sheets, his chest and shoulders pulling forward against the constricting grips. Aizawa finally reached Todoroki, yanking the security guard on his left side off and sending him careening backwards without much of a thought of the repercussions.

In the split second it had taken him to relieve the teen of one of the guards, the doctor on his right side had approached the bed, readying a needle. The larger man took Todoroki’s chin in his fingers, harshly forcing his head to the side and exposing the strained tendons in his neck. The teen’s mismatched eyes were wild and panicked, widening as he caught the glint of the needle nearing his neck from where he was struggling against the pillow shoved against his face. Tears were streaked over his nose and flushed cheeks, chest shuddering unnaturally, feet pushing at the sheets trapping his ankles.

“HANDS OFF!” Aizawa commanded, voice pitched in a tone he’d use to intimidate a villain, a guttural threat simmering at the back of his throat. The remaining security guard’s face snapped up to his bright crimson eyes and the few strands of black hair that had wormed their way out of his updo hovering above his head. “I’ve erased his quirk, there’s no longer a need to subdue him. Get your hands off of my student this instant or I will remove them myself.”

The doctor and the larger man beside him simultaneously released the dual-user, backing away slowly with their hands raised, the needle still glinting a sharp silver. The teen released a shuddering, broken breath, still warily keeping tabs on the doctor with tired eyes.

“We have to give him a quirk suppressant, as well as a sedative. It’s procedure,” the doctor explained calmly, eyeing Aizawa like he was being irrational.

Even if his brain supplied the various reasons they’d be forcing drugs into Todoroki’s system despite his clear protests, the bubbling protectiveness and underlying anger burning in his chest at the thought of additional trauma simplified the situation in his mind. Aizawa’s quirk eased up slightly as he blinked, then reactivated as his eyes opened again, this time focusing on Todoroki explicitly.

“What happened right before his quirk activated?” Aizawa forced his voice into a submissive, polite tone for now, knowing the doctor was likely to get presumptuous if he assumed too much, based on the past few moments of interaction they’d had.

“He woke up earlier than we’d expected, so we went to inject him with more of the quirk suppressant we’d used earlier, assuming we’d administered too low a quantity. He started lashing out when we brought the needle to his neck. We thought it wouldn’t be a problem considering he was handling the I.V. just fine.”

Internalizing the information, Aizawa warily examined every last person in the room before deciding he was too tired to deal with the chore of being polite and professional. “Get out,” he drawled, “just, get out.”

“What? You can’t ju-” the doctor protested, leaning forward a bit and causing Todoroki to subtly shift away.

“If you’re not trained well enough to realize he’s afraid of injections in his neck and you’re triggering him, I don’t want you anywhere near this room. For that matter, you shouldn’t be licensed to work with patients with trauma at all. Get. Out.”

The doctor’s eyebrows furrowed and he spun on his heel, slamming the needle down on a tray pushed against the wall in the mayhem before exiting the room.

“The same goes for the rest of you. Leave,” Aizawa ground out, watching as the rest of the hospital staff crowded the single exit and bottlenecked themselves until the door finally shut behind them.

The raven-haired man turned his attention to Todoroki, who was still tensed defensively, but seemed to have calmed down enough to restrain his quirk. Aizawa let Erasure fizzle out, shutting his eyes against the black pressure spots at the corners of his vision. With his eyes closed, he could hear the teen’s scattered breathing, the miniscule clinking of his handcuffs, and the rustle of fabric as Todoroki nestled his face sideways into the pillow skewed to the side under his head.

“I’m sorry I left. I won’t again, at least not for a little while.” Aizawa softly relayed his apology, opening his eyes and finding the dual-colored ones watching him from under red and white fringe. When he didn’t receive a reply, he let a certain part of himself he hadn’t heard from in a while take over. “I’m getting really tired of hospital regulations and their ineffective treatments and evaluations. I’m grateful they kept you alive, and we both know that they’re only trying to help, but since I’ve already decided that I’m not leaving this room again for a while, I’m succumbing to the part of me that feels sick seeing you in those handcuffs. I hope I can trust that you won’t take advantage of this.”

Aizawa leaned over the bed, gingerly setting himself on the edge of the mattress and letting calloused fingers slide over the padded restraints around pale, bandaged wrists. A small part of his brain was screaming at him incessantly, but his confidence and tentative trust shut that part down into near-silent murmurs as he unbuckled Todoroki’s wrists. The dual-user watched him intently, gaze shifting nervously from his wrists to Aizawa’s shadowed face.

“I don’t know if they informed you yet, but for you to be released, you have to pass a psych evaluation and prove that you have a strong support system that will take care of you until these feelings aren’t so overwhelming. I can have a counselor come in whenever you’re ready. For now, it’s only going to be you and me until you’re feeling alright with seeing anybody else. Is that okay with you?”

Todoroki’s mouth twitched, and Aizawa took it as a yes, finally pulling the teen’s wrists out of confinement. The dual-toned boy stared down at them for a moment before curling his hands around his sides and bending his legs so they pressed flush against his folded arms, head bowing down to rest on his knees. His eyes seemed distant, fogged over and unfocused, still glistening wet with tears. The raven-haired teacher hoped the far-away look was only exhaustion, and not Todoroki’s mind trapping him in memories resurfaced by his recent panic attack. Aizawa wasn’t really sure how to get Todoroki to speak, whether it be to him or anyone else, and knew that it was going to be virtually impossible for him to get the teen anywhere he might actually feel at home without getting him to respond to questions.

“I…” Aizawa trailed off, recollecting his thoughts before trying again. “I’m not sure why you are choosing not to speak to me, but I want you to know that you can, or that I can get whoever you would feel comfortable talking with.”

Todoroki’s cheek pressed a bit further towards the inside of his knees, and the raven-haired man clamped his mouth shut. His back teeth ground together momentarily, and Aizawa reached over to the bedside table that hadn’t been burned, pulling out a small blank booklet and a pencil that had been stashed there. He gently prodded Todoroki until he unfurled a bit, and placed the items into the dual-user’s hands.

“You don’t have to talk. Why don’t you just write anything you’d like to say?” Aizawa suggested, thumb brushing over the top corner of the lined paper.

Todoroki stared down at the writing utensils, mouth pressing into a thin line and fingers nervously running over the grainy paper. His brow furrowed and his bottom lip slid between his teeth, bent legs falling to his sides. He didn’t make any moves to write, instead just staring blankly at the page, nervous ticks appearing in every shape and form Aizawa could think of being able to happen simultaneously.

A soft knock on the door tugged the raven-haired man away, and he reluctantly followed the call, opening the door to find Hizashi leaning against the frame. Aizawa’s face hardened at the steeled exasperation written in bright green eyes, shining with apprehension. Something was wrong, and it wasn’t just the difficulty of keeping his other students at bay, or the situation itself. This was something else, something new. The blond answered his silent question with a stapled pair of documents, medical records by the looks of them.

Aizawa’s eyes scanned down the page, reading what he could of the bloodwork listed and folding the top page over at the corner, gaze finally reaching what he was sure Hizashi was hinting at. There were signs of illegal steroids in Todoroki’s blood, evidence of repetitive use and the damage caused by them. Dark eyes widened, and a sharp jolt of fear wriggled through Aizawa’s chest, fingers growing numb as he continued to read through the descriptors. The signs pointed to a quirk-enhancing drug that rapidly increased the speed at which the quirk developed, the amount of stamina it could expel in one go, and how powerful it could become in a short period of time.

That easily explained why the quirk suppressants had burned off so quickly, but it raised a whole bundle of other questions Aizawa knew Todoroki wasn’t ready to answer. It also brought forth a whole new smattering of unpleasant emotions that Aizawa had to effectively crush down his windpipe, forcing them to settle just below his collarbone until he could work through them in a more private and collected space. The raven-haired man silently mouthed a thank you to his colleague, who responded with a questioning look and a glance over Aizawa’s shoulder, his hand coming up to gesture with an outstretched thumb that pointed up and then down in a question. Aizawa shook his hand in a “so-so” gesture and ushered Hizashi out of the room after the blond nodded to affirm he understood.

Aizawa turned around to find a dozing teenager, hands gripping the edges of the paper in his fingers hard enough to crumple them. The page was still blank.

Chapter Text

Once he’d transferred a half-conscious Todoroki onto a new cot with fresh sheets, Aizawa took a seat in the corner next to the door, an unknown, vile feeling blooming and writhing around in his stomach. It would be hard for them to combat the effects of a steroid they didn’t know the chemical compound of, and it’d be even more difficult to pinpoint the exact mixture Endeavor had used without the source material. Aizawa kneaded the bridge of his nose, trying to ease away the worsening of his headache, and put in the mental effort to steer clear of imagining how traumatic that experience must have been for his student.

The soft rustling noises coming from Todoroki’s side of the room managed to keep him somewhat grounded, the sound unmistakably that of the dual-user settling under the covers. It was a small victory that it wasn’t accompanied by the clinking of padded handcuffs, but Aizawa wasn’t sure how long he’d be able to keep him out of them without Todoroki saying anything to confirm that he wasn’t a danger to himself or others. Lashing out at the hospital staff, albeit it being a side effect of a panic attack, wasn’t going to help with convincing them that Todoroki was fit to be discharged.

Aizawa felt like every nerve of his was exposed, ready to snap or buckle under the weight of everything coming down around him, and, at that moment, it was all he could do to simply sit in Todoroki’s room. He didn’t like the feeling of helplessness pooling in his chest, the all-too-familiar chill bringing him back to the sensation of his face slamming deep into concrete, the crunch of his broken nose, the stinging, deadly pressure at the backs of his eyes, the skin on his elbow cracking and flaking away, the feeling that he wasn’t enough to save the group of kids put in his care.

Growing threads of doubt and guilt wove through his chest, brain supplying him with the fearful faces of the hospital staff he’d threatened while they were just trying to do their jobs. Even though he knew they were breaking protocol by not alerting him first, by not letting him subdue the situation with considerably less force, he couldn’t help but feel his cheeks burning slightly and the pride curling in his chest as he thought back on the terror he’d felt watching his student writhe in his hospital bed, scared of the people who were supposed to be helping him, and the way he’d violently reacted.

He just… the look on Todoroki’s face… the tears rolling down his cheeks… he’d looked so damn scared and Aizawa had, for the first time in a very long time, acted before even trying to come up with a rational course of action.

After about fifteen minutes of stewing in self-doubt, inferiority, hesitant regret, and the building, raw anger he felt towards Endeavor as this new revelation came to light, Shota felt himself slipping into a fitful, shallow sleep. His mind remained on high alert, poised to answer Todoroki if the kid decided he wanted to communicate, and prepared to restrain him if something went wrong again or Todoroki decided now was a good time to make another attempt on his life. Aizawa stayed that way for maybe forty-five minutes, vaguely registering that Todoroki had fallen into unconsciousness as well, before he shook himself awake and rose from his seat.

Head feeling a bit more clear, Aizawa focused on coming up with a few contingency plans, as well as deciding on choices he was going to have to make regarding his previous actions and the bridges he’d have to cross moving forward. First things first, he had to secure Todoroki so he could leave the room and take care of some things without having to worry about the kid doing something reckless for the third time that day. Raising his hands above his head, Shota worked to crack as many of the vertebrae leading up his spine as he could before relaxing his muscles with a soft sigh. He quietly stepped up to Todoroki’s bedside, taking a seat on the edge of the mattress and carefully shaking the teen awake.

“Todoroki, I need you to wake up for a moment. You can go back to sleep in a minute,” Aizawa implored softly, leaning back a bit as his student blinked lazy, owlish eyes up at him. All he could do was hope Todoroki was listening. “I have some things I need to take care of outside this room, so I am going to have to leave you here for a little while. If I could stay here with you the whole time you’re here, I would.” Shota sucked in a breath, allowing his fingers to find purchase on the fraying hem of one of the bed sheets. “Unfortunately, I can’t in good conscience leave you here alone with the capability to harm yourself.”

Todoroki visibly stiffened, the hand in Aizawa’s view curling in the fresh sheets as he turned his head away.

“The way I see it, there are a couple options here. I could put the handcuffs back on, and you’d have to agree to let them inject the quirk suppressants again.” Todoroki’s eyes glazed over a bit, panic seeming to resurface, and Aizawa hurried to finish his explanation. “I can probably have them inject it somewhere other than your neck, if that helps.”

Todoroki blinked.

“The only alternative option I can come up with is to have Midnight stand watch over you, and to have her use her quirk on you if that need arises. In that case, the handcuffs would likely be unnecessary, and the quirk suppressant rule could be waived. Technically, Midnight and I are both legally licensed to use our quirks to keep patients with dangerous abilities from hurting anyone or themselves, but apparently the hospital staff here were unaware of that fact, and that’s why I wasn’t called in when your quirk started lashing out. According to regulations, they should have called me in first so none of their staff risked injury, but I assume they were unaware of this fact when they tried to subdue you on their own.”

Todoroki nuzzled slightly under the blankets, one hand pulling the top edge up to his chin. Shota initially wasn’t entirely sure how to read that reaction, but eventually settled on the probability of it being guilt.

“What happened earlier was a set of unfortunate circumstances. I know you’re probably feeling guilty about what happened, but everything is being handled. I hope you won’t worry about it too much,” Aizawa attempted reassurance, but it didn’t seem to have much of an affect on the guilty conscience openly splayed across Todoroki’s face. He changed course, hoping he could drag a response out of the dual-user before leaving the room. “Can you tell me which course of action you’d like to to take? It’s either quirk suppressants and handcuffs or Midnight keeping watch over you.”

Aizawa waited patiently, watching the minute furrowing of Todoroki’s brow, delaying making the choice himself to see if he was going to respond. He silently pushed the pad of paper and the pen towards Todoroki on the off chance he’d prefer using that. The teen hesitantly pulled his hand out from under the blankets, blinking wide-eyed up at Aizawa, before he curled the thumb and the ring and pinky fingers on his right hand down, touching them to his palm. A tiny flicker of pride ignited in Shota’s chest, and he felt a small smile tug at the corner of his mouth.

“So you can hear me,” Aizawa concluded, knowing he supposedly could hear him fine all along but finally feeling like he could say for sure that Todoroki was able to understand what was being said to him, “Alright. Thank you for helping me do what’s best for you. I’m going to contact Midnight, she should be able to get here within the next twenty minutes,” Aizawa felt a smear of careful happiness lilting his voice a bit higher than usual, and he left Todoroki’s side to make the call.

Finding substitutes for three teacher’s classes was going to be a challenge, but All Might could fill in for one, and hopefully Nezu could take over the other. Hizashi had likely already released Aizawa’s class for the day, letting them know to head back to the dorms and wait for further instruction as was protocol. Hopefully they’d be studying in the meantime, but Aizawa wasn’t expecting much with their classmate and friend in the hospital and no real information on why. Not to mention two of their other peers being sequestered and restricted from relaying any explanation of their own.

Midnight was, luckily and unsurprisingly, easy to persuade, and soon Aizawa was settling his phone back in his pocket and turning to face Todoroki. “Is there anything I can get for you before Midnight arrives?”

No response.

“I should probably let someone check your vitals, just to make sure you’re doing alright physically. Is that okay?”

No response. Maybe there was a small tilt of his head, but Aizawa could just be imagining things because he was hoping for the best.

“Alright, I’m going to call someone in to check your vitals. I’ll be with you the whole time.”

Shota paused for just a moment, searching desperately for any sort of signal. Still nothing. He vaguely recognized that he was grinding his back teeth, but he made an effort to appear unbothered as he turned and headed for the door. It didn’t take long to catch the attention of one of the nurses, who he beckoned inside and guided over to Todoroki’s bed. The woman efficiently took Todoroki’s vitals, asking all the questions she was required to ask and receiving no replies from the teen. The dual-user didn’t seem all too bothered by the check-up, his eyes distant and fixated on the doorframe.

Once the nurse had updated Todoroki’s file, she pulled Aizawa aside, his body slightly angled out of the door but not enough that he wasn’t visible from the bed. The nurse - Mia, as her name plaque provided - tucked a wave of mocha hair behind her ear, glancing up to him and then over his shoulder to observe Todoroki.

“Is he choosing not to speak? We don’t have anything on file for him that suggests his vocal cords are damaged.”

Dark eyes slid to the side and Aizawa huffed. “He has always been quiet, only really speaking when spoken to, but he’s never not answered me when I’ve talked to him directly before. This is new.”

Mia’s lips pursed, and she spoke cautiously, fingers playing with the pen tucked into her coat pocket. “In that case, I have to warn you that him being unresponsive like this is going to negatively affect his prognosis, and it will make it increasingly difficult to get him discharged. If he refuses to communicate at all, it’s likely he’ll be deemed unfit to return to his life, and would have to stay in a psych ward. We can’t discharge him if we can’t discern whether or not he’s a threat to himself or others.”

“How long do I have to convince him to communicate before that decision is made?”

“I can’t really say for certain, I don’t make those calls. Maybe a week or so, maybe less. Could be shorter because he injured one of the staff. It’s likely they’ll consider him a threat before even talking to him. He doesn’t have to talk, but he does have to answer us somehow. I just wanted to warn you. I…” she trailed off, hazel eyes searching over Aizawa’s shoulder again. “I have a quirk that allows me to interpret people’s emotions just a bit better than normal people can, and I don’t think that boy needs or deserves to be locked up here. He has a good heart. I hope you can help him move forward from this.”

Aizawa pondered her words for a moment, tucking away the information and her read on Todoroki. “Thank you. I’d appreciate it if you’d continue to monitor his case going forward.”

“That’s not always up to me, but I will do what I can.” Mia smiled politely. “I’ll be back in a few hours to check his vitals again.”

He nodded briskly, appreciative that he hadn’t turned everyone in the hospital against Todoroki and himself with his aggression earlier. Mia turned away, striding down the hallway past the room Hizashi had indicated he’d placed Kirishima and Midoriya in. Aizawa let his eyes flutter shut, recounting all the things he had to take care of before he could let himself rest. He spent the next ten minutes slowly pacing the small space inside Todoroki’s doorway, letting himself glance over at his student every once in a while hoping he’d come up with something he could do or say to get him to reply to someone.

Aizawa was broken out of his dazed concentration with a gentle hand landing on his shoulder, and he turned to find Midnight dressed in civilian clothes standing beside him. They exchanged a knowing look, and Aizawa stepped aside to let her into the room. Midnight slipped past him, her usual air of dominance and playfulness dulled down to the seriousness the situation called for, and Aizawa watched her eyes scan over every tiny detail open to her viewing. Todoroki had his legs bent at the knees, splayed out on either side of him under the sheets, and he was staring down at his hands, palms up in his lap. He didn’t seem to take note of them entering the room.

Shota cleared his throat in an attempt to gather his attention. “Alright Todoroki, I’m going to leave you with Midnight. She’ll keep you company and will keep you safe. I am not planning on leaving the hospital, so I should be only a minute or two away if you need me. Midnight can call me if anything happens, and I’ll come quickly.”

He ran through the quiet instruction he’d given Midnight over the phone in his head, making sure she knew about the trigger they’d found and what had happened earlier, as well as Todoroki’s condition and what was appropriate for the situation, although he was sure she had a grasp on what to do in scenarios like this. He figured that if he remembered something he’d left out, he could just text her to fill in the gap.

Aizawa hummed quietly when he received no response, opening up one last option for Todoroki before he left. “Is there anything you’d like to say before I leave? You can write it down if that’s easier.”

Todoroki’s pointer fingers twitched in unison, and the left side of his mouth angled downward, but other than that, Aizawa was left with nothing.

“Alright. Midnight is here to take care of you, so if you need anything, just let her know,” Shota instructed softly, nodding to his colleague before taking one last, lingering look at Todoroki and leaving the room.

As he strode down the hallway, Aizawa couldn’t help but feel the tiny bit of hope he’d gained earlier when Todoroki had chosen an option being stripped away. The doctors had confirmed that there were no significant brain injuries, nothing that could be physically causing this; Todoroki simply didn’t want to communicate with anyone, didn’t want to receive help or speak his mind. Aizawa was left wondering about the reasoning behind it, whether it had to do with a lack of trust, fear of his father, worry about what was going to happen now that people knew something was wrong, or if he was just simply too caught up in the darkness to force an answer out to satisfy them.

Aizawa slid open the door to the room Hizashi had indicated earlier, shutting down his thoughts for now, and finding the blond sitting opposite Kirishima and Midoriya, who both looked worse for wear.

Upon seeing him, Midoriya stiffened, hurt and a twinge of anger displaying on freckled features. “What happened?” He leveled his voice, but Aizawa could clearly hear the indignation heavily layered in his question.

Their teacher pushed a few stray black hairs behind his ear, stepping forward to take a seat next to Hizashi. “Todoroki’s quirk got out of control. He burned one of the nurses, you probably heard them screaming. I subdued Todoroki and kicked the hospital staff out, considering they didn’t follow protocol and tried to restrain him with security guards instead of calling me in like they’re supposed to. For now, I have one nurse I am comfortable with that’s going to be checking his vitals. I called Midnight in to look after him in case his quirk acts up again, since giving him quirk suppressants seems to be an unwise course of action. I had Mr. Yamada keep you here because I don’t think you’re ready to see Todoroki yet, especially under those circumstances, and I was already handling the situation.”

Midoriya’s analytical eyes darted around his face as he explained, and Aizawa noted the redness of his cheeks and nose. He was probably crying. Kirishima was still somewhat out of it, looking a bit more collected than he had before, but not by much. Shota didn’t bother looking at Hizashi; he could envision the distraught expression dulling typically-bright features and didn’t feel like subjecting himself to that.

“Are we not allowed to see Todoroki yet, then?” Midoriya asked quietly, resigning to Aizawa’s story and wringing his hands in his lap.

“No. He hasn’t been cleared for visitors, and…” Aizawa trailed off, forcing his bluntness down and trying to add a little empathy to his explanation. “I think it’s best if you recover from the shock of this morning a bit before seeing Todoroki. His mental state is less than ideal right now.”

Midoriya’s lips pressed back, and he sniffed. “Can… I just… What has he said? Did he tell you… why?”

“He hasn’t said a word since he woke up,” Aizawa stated simply, ankles rubbing together through thick pants.

The teen’s eyes snapped up to meet his, and Kirishima’s slumped body vibrated back into life, his gaze coming a bit more into focus. “What?” Midoriya breathed, concern flashing over his features.

“So far, the only communication he’s given me or anyone else was his indication of a preference in a decision I gave him, and even that was the bare minimum,” Aizawa relayed quietly, watching for the reactions of his students.

The news seemed to hit pretty hard, and Kirishima asked softly, “how long has he been awake for? Does he have a brain injury or…”

“The doctors confirmed that he is fully capable of speech and responses, he’s just choosing not to make them. He’s been awake on and off for a few hours now.”

Midoriya hung his head in his hands, fingers twisting through messy, green curls. Kirishima sat back a bit, letting his wrists hang limply between his knees.

Aizawa took in a breath, knowing he needed to move forward but wanting to reassure his students the best he could in the current situation. “Is there anything else I can answer for you? Anything I can do to help? I’m going to have to go talk with the police here in a minute, to see what we can do about arresting Endeavor and transferring guardianship over to me. Midoriya, I may need your help with that.”

The teen nodded, sitting back up and taking a heavy breath. “All I can really think about right now is getting to see Todoroki, but I will comply with whatever you need to help him.”

Before Aizawa could get another word in edgewise, Kirishima finally added something to the conversation. “Are you going to tell the rest of the class?”

A lull fell over the small group, and Hizashi shifted beside Shota, a small click echoing as he picked dirt from under a nail.

“I’m not sure,” Aizawa responded honestly, leaning his cheek into the palm of his hand. “If I don’t, I’m sure someone will. It’s probably best for it to come from me.”

Midoriya shuffled his feet against the bed frame, and his shaking hands brought out his cellphone from where it was stashed in his pocket. “Um… I think a few of them have already figured it out… or at least have heavy suspicions.”

Cold dread slithered through Aizawa’s veins as he snapped his gaze up to meet Midoriya’s. He was silent for a moment, calculating the concerns springing up to muddy his thought process. “Explain,” he requested curtly, folding tight hands over his knees.

The shorter teen scrolled through one of the class’s many group chats, recollecting the conversation that had been carrying on once class was canceled and their peers started investigating as to why. “Well, Kirishima tried steering everyone clear by telling Sero and Sato that a minor training injury got worse over time, and that Todoroki needed to get it checked out at a hospital, but the amount of… the amount of blood on the floor and the fact that there was a bloodied knife right in the middle of it all… kind of led them to other conclusions.”

“What have you said about it?” Aizawa asked, leveling his voice and trying to fight off the lightheadedness that was slowly growing as a million and one thoughts all twisted through his head.

“Nothing,” Midoriya replied, “Only that Kirishima and I helped him and are now waiting at the hospital to see if he’s alright.”

Aizawa’s grip on his knees loosened and he let out a heavy breath. “Has anyone explicitly said that they think Todoroki attempted suicide?”

Both of the teenagers in front of him stiffened at his bluntness, and Aizawa almost regretted the brutal nature of his question, before realizing that this was something they all needed to come to terms with. This wasn’t something they could tiptoe around or hide in the darkness of early morning bedrooms anymore.

“No,” Midoriya whispered, voice cracking a bit, “just that there wasn’t any way he could have gotten harmed by someone other than himself… a few of them speculated that he’d just dropped the knife trying to clean it or something… but there have been a couple insinuations… that no one really seems to disagree with. My best bet would be that no one wants to say it, but it’s what everyone’s thinking.”

Aizawa let the string of curses lacing through his mind go unspoken, instead opting to stand up and briskly walk to the door. “Please don’t say anything to confirm or deny what they’re saying. I’m going to have a brief chat with the police and see what needs to be done. Hizashi, if I text you with confirmation, I want you to start pulling all of Class 1-A over, send them to a different floor of the hospital, and round them up in small groups they feel emotionally comfortable with. Don’t say anything to them yet. I need to handle this. Midoriya, Kirishima, I hope you two won’t do anything…” he trailed off, looking at the weary teenagers in his charge, “just stay with Mic. Please.”

Green and red hair bobbed as their owners nodded, and Aizawa pushed out of the room. He took a moment as he clambered down the stairs to collect himself, and to steel himself for the probable argument he was about to have with the police and hospital staff over whether or not he was allowed to tell his students about Todoroki’s condition.

Chapter Text

Hagakure’s tongue clicked against the roof of her mouth as she was led down one of the hospital's long hallways, flanked by Ojiro and Sato on either side and Koda trailing behind her. Their teachers were being uncharacteristically closed-lipped, not offering up even a tidbit of information as to what was wrong or what they were all doing coming to one of the hospitals closest to the dorms and being led off in small friend groups. Considering it was a police officer that was escorting them, Hagakure could guess the information was classified, but that left her wondering what they were doing there if they weren’t supposed to know.

It was a little nerve-wracking, if she was being completely honest, although it was strange to be on edge regarding this when their class had been repeatedly assaulted by villains since the beginning of the school year. She kept her hands tucked behind her back, skirt fluttering against tightly-wound fingers as she let the usual over-exaggerated pep in her step fade, figuring this wasn’t really the place to be trying to stand out. It wasn’t hard to tell that the others she’d grouped up with were uneasy as well, Ojiro’s tail tucking close to his body, Sato’s thumbs fiddling with the hems lining the pockets of his uniform pants, and Koda’s eyes fixed on the floor, lips pressed together in a thin line.

The police officer gestured to a partially-open door, stepping aside so they could head into the unmarked conference room. Hagakure took it upon herself to enter first, allowing her eyes to wander around the fairly-spacious area. There were two slate couches pressed against the left wall, angled slightly towards each other, and a pair of white, modern armchairs, one of which was pulled in front of the adjacent couches and was holding the too-stiff form of their teacher. It looked like this room was primarily used for board meetings, or something similar, as evidenced by a projector and a rolling whiteboard pressed into the far corner, and a long table pushed against the right wall and the stacks of chairs beside it. Steam curled up from four cups of freshly-brewed tea on the end tables situated next to the outside corners of the couches, accompanied by a small assortment of cookies and nuts.

Mr. Aizawa’s gaze cut over to the four of them as they entered, and he made a clipped gesture for them to take a seat. Even though Hagakure was used to his general sour and quiet demeanor, something felt off about the tension laced through his broad shoulders, and the tight grip his hands had on folded knees. The police officer hovered by the door, posture rigid, and Hagakure couldn’t help but feel like she’d unintentionally done something illegal with the way the two authority figures were straining to keep calm. She swallowed the thick sense of foreboding the room was practically screeching at her, and moved to take a seat in the corner of the closest couch.

Ojiro took the seat beside her, and Koda and Sato shuffled silently to the other couch, all of them outwardly displaying concern on their faces, waiting for their teacher to explain what was going on. Hagakure twisted her hands in her lap, wrinkling the folds of the skirt she’d just ironed that morning, picking at invisible cuticles. If she had to take a guess, the school was closing down, they were being expelled, they’d done something terribly wrong and were facing law enforcement because of it, or… or the most likely, which is that Todoroki was gravely injured or dead. With the amount of blood she’d seen drying on his floorboards, she wouldn’t be surprised. They’d ushered the students away almost immediately after the class had begun to gather and speculate, and they’d taken the cleaning supplies she’d gathered to get rid of the stain before she’d even had a chance to try and scrub it away.

“You’re welcome to any of the refreshments,” Mr. Aizawa urged… awkwardly? Hagakure hadn’t expected such a hesitant tone from their teacher, but she guessed he was only human.

She took it upon herself to break the tense tug-of-war between them all, twisting and reaching to nestle a cookie in one of the provided napkins and place it on her lap before taking one of the tea cups in both hands and blowing at the rising steam. Sato seemed to be side-eyeing the cookies, probably wondering if they were store-bought or homemade, and if he wanted to indulge in one. Ojiro took a handful of the mixed nuts into his palm, and Koda accepted one of the tea cups.

Mr. Aizawa’s dark stare observed all of their hesitant, confused motions, and he cleared his throat quietly. “I apologize for the abrupt and strange request for you to all gather here. It was the only course of action I could afford to take in the current situation, and I felt you all deserved to know what’s happened as soon as possible, and from someone you know well.

Ojiro popped an almond in his mouth, chewing for a moment before cautiously asking, “what happened?”

Hagakure took a sip of her cooling tea, savoring the sweet taste as it slipped down her throat and warmed her stomach. Mr. Aizawa looked more exhausted than normal, she noted, the bags under his eyes deep and gnawing, hair pulled back messily in an attempt to look collected.

“It seems some of you have already gathered ideas about what transpired this morning, so I’ll assume you can already take a guess at the severity of this situation. I want to let you know that what I am about to tell you is sensitive information that shouldn’t be shared with anyone outside of the rest of your class and the U.A. teachers and counselors, and that this shouldn’t be taken lightly.” Mr. Aizawa’s steely gaze cut over all of them individually, making sure to rest the point before moving forward.

Hagakure took in a thin breath, worry swirling in her stomach, curiosity splaying across transparent features. She picked off a piece of the chocolate chip cookie, placing it on her tongue and focusing on the sugary bite and the softening chocolate. Ojiro shifted a tad closer, his tail lightly brushing her side, the fluff at the end coming near her cheek, but not enough to make contact. He was warm, and steady, and Hagakure felt herself leaning into the comfort just a bit.

“Early this morning, Todoroki made an attempt to end his own life,” Mr. Aizawa relayed gravely, his grip on his knees tightening until his knuckles began to grow white.

Hagakure’s world shifted on its axis at the confirmation, and a chilling ache curled through her chest. “What?” She breathed the question, fingers instinctively weaving through the blond strands at the end of Ojiro’s tail.

“But, Sir that’s…” Sato trailed off, running a large palm over his face.

Hagakure vaguely registered a muffled squeak from Koda, and Ojiro stiffened considerably beside her, staying silent for the time being.

Mr. Aizawa gave them a moment to collect their thoughts before continuing. “Luckily, Kirishima happened to notice something was off, and alerted me. We got him into an ambulance and he’s currently stable. He’s been awake on and off for a few hours now.”

Hagakure felt the light sting of slow tears collecting on clear lashes, and she sipped at her tea to hide the sniffle she quietly made. She spared a glance at Ojiro, whos body was still rigid, tail twitching agitatedly against her thigh, onyx eyes fixed on their teacher. She placed her tea cup and the half-eaten cookie on the end table next to her, wiping the crumbs off her fingers and wrapping her arms around herself, craving the warmth of the protective posture. It didn’t really make sense to her, if she was being honest. For someone who had so much, who was so powerful and strong, to have done something like this… what chance did she have?

“I’ve set up a variety of counselors for you to speak to, if you choose to. They’re situated in a few different rooms on this floor, and I encourage all of you to talk to them for at least a few minutes. I will be divulging this same information to the other students in small groups like this, so I would ask that you please set your cell phones in the bin near the door and leave through the second exit, which will let you into another section of the hospital. There should be a lounge stocked with food for you while you wait, as well as access to counselors and a couple officers standing by. I will return everyone’s phones when the whole class has been informed of the situation.” Mr. Aizawa gestured to a small plastic bin near the door on the back wall before continuing. “In light of these circumstances, U.A. will be conducting mandatory psychological evaluations of each student, as well as a course for everyone to take with the goal of learning how to spot signs of mental health issues, and how best to help people who are struggling with them. This will not only help all of you, it will help your future careers as heroes as well. Villains and natural disasters are not the only things people need saving from.” There was a short pause. “Do any of you have any questions I can answer?”

There was a beat of full silence, before Ojiro spoke up with a small, careful voice, “what’s going to happen to Todoroki now?”

Mr. Aizawa took a moment to recollect himself, and Hagakure took the chance to glance at the other couch. Sato’s face was fully hidden from view by his hands, elbows braced against his knees, and Koda was slumped back into the cushions, eyes shining bright with unshed tears. Hagakure’s chest felt tight, her thoughts wandering to the dual-user and quickly getting caught up in what tells she missed, in the times she could have invited him to join them in activities and didn’t because she thought he preferred being alone.

“As soon as he’s deemed fit to leave, he’ll be discharged and he’ll return to the dorms,” Mr. Aizawa stated simply, momentarily drawing her away from her thoughts.

“How soon can he come back?” Hagakure piped up, already thinking of ways to cheer Todoroki up once he got back to the dorms, wondering what kinds of comfort foods she might be able to get him to indulge in, and what board games he might enjoy playing with the others.

She was eager to have a chance to remind him that they all cared, and that they missed him being there. The class was something like a family, and although the invisible girl had never connected with Todoroki on a personal level, he was important to her, and the dorms had felt weird without his presence even after only a few hours. When she’d gone down for breakfast that morning, and he wasn’t curled up in one of the armchairs dozing with a book like he always was, it’d felt strange, and wrong.

Mr. Aizawa’s face twisted a bit, almost unnoticeably, and his shoulders slouched slightly. “That depends on him.”

The room was lulled into silence again.

“Is he… I mean… what’s he saying? Why did he do it?” Sato asked, finally pulling his face out of his hands to look up at their teacher.

The dark-haired man across from them heaved a sigh, scratching lightly at his stubble. “He hasn’t said a word since he woke up.”

“What?” Hagakure choked out, the word apparently the only thing her brain could come up with to say about the situation. She vaguely felt a few tears slip down her cheeks, her mind overwhelmed by the idea that one of the people she considered part of her Class 1-A family felt horrible enough to try and end his own life, that he didn’t trust any of them enough to come to them and try and… “I don’t understand… he never seemed… I mean, he was quiet but not… I didn’t think” She paused, taking in a huge gulp of air and releasing it, resulting in the next breath being interrupted by a hiccup. “I didn’t think something like this would ever happen to someone I knew.”

Ojiro’s warm palm landed on her shoulder, and he hesitantly pulled her into his shoulder, letting her turn her face into his shirt. “He certainly didn’t seem like someone who would consider that, let alone actually attempt it. I wish he would have told someone before it got that bad.”

Hagakure sniffled, feeling the fluff of his tail smoothing against her ear. “Do… do you think we should have… I don’t know, should have known? I mean… I noticed some stuff that was off, but nothing that suggested this… or at least I didn’t think it did.”

Mr. Aizawa huffed in irritation, voice cutting through her quiet mumblings. “If you all take anything away from this, it should be that none of this was your fault. There were many more factors behind the scenes that I am not allowed to discuss, but you are not at fault. He survived, and that’s the most important part. Your job now is to help him feel like it was worth living through this experience, not dwell on what you could have done to prevent his attempt. You are heroes in training. Recovery is an important part of saving someone, too.”

Hagakure nodded, feeling a tiny bit of the guilt whirling around in her stomach ease. She sat back up, straightening her spine, and willed her voice to have just a touch of cheeriness. “You’re right, Aizawa-sensei. We should focus on helping him get better!”

Mr. Aizawa chuckled in the back of his throat, shifting forward and letting some of the tension in his body ebb. “Just don’t overwhelm him.”

“Sure thing,” Hagakure placated, taking a bite of the cookie on the table beside her.

Ojiro, Sato, and Koda seemed to perk up a bit with her, and she smiled sadly to herself. She couldn’t let the rest of them get down about themselves; she was going to help everyone focus on what to do next, how to help Todoroki heal. Hagakure wasn’t entirely sure what the best approach to doing this was, but she was determined to learn, and Mr. Aizawa had said that there were counselors around, so she could probably ask them, and she was sure attending the classes he’d mentioned would help too.

“One more thing,” Mr. Aizawa said softly, pushing a strand of loose hair behind his ear. “If any of you are struggling with anything, whether it be something simple that you need advice on, or a more serious matter like this, I want you to know that you can come and talk to me, or any of the teachers at U.A. I know that sometimes speaking with a counselor can be intimidating and less personal, so I want to open that option up for all of you to know that I am here to help and protect you, whether that’s against villains or any other problems life throws your way.”

Gratitude welled up in Hagakure’s chest, and she could feel Ojiro relaxing a bit beside her. Koda took a deep breath in, subtly wiping at his eyes with his sleeve, and offered her a tiny smile when she looked over. She wondered if Todoroki liked bunnies, or if he had a favorite animal Koda could help him find and play with. Sato looked thoughtful, but not as disturbed as he had a moment ago, and if she had to guess, she’d say that he was probably in the same boat as her, trying to come up with ways of cheering Todoroki up. She wondered if he would like the sweets that Sato baked.

“Now, if you don’t have any more questions or concerns, I need to talk to the next group of students. You’re welcome to take some of the snacks with you, but there are more in the lounge as well,” Mr. Aizawa stated, his composure tightening up a bit.

Hagakure rose from the couch, pulling Ojiro up with her, and their movements were mirrored by Sato and Koda. She took the rest of her cookie, shoving the last few bites into her mouth and gulping down the remnants of her tea, setting the cup next to Ojiro’s nearly-full one.

“Thank you, Mr. Aizawa. I know this is a difficult situation, but I think you’re doing a great job of handling it,” Hagakure said softly, turning and following Sato to the door.

Mr. Aizawa hummed, pushing himself out of the armchair. “If any of you can recall noticing anything particularly strange about Todoroki’s actions in general or at specific points in time, I’d ask that you please come and tell either myself or Mrs. Riza once we’re done with informing the other students.” He gestured to the police officer, who offered them all a sympathetic smile.

Well, that was strange. “I’ve noticed a couple things that seemed off with him. I’ll try and compile some of the most notable ones, and see if I can match them with dates,” Hagakure offered, earning an appreciative nod from her teacher.

He turned away to address the police officer after acknowledging her, and she took it as their cue to leave. They all deposited their cell phones as they passed the small plastic bin, and she had to say it was a bit unnerving to leave it behind. Hagakure followed Ojiro out of the room and down a small hallway, her mind immediately drifting off to search for the odd things she’d noticed in the dual-user’s behavior.

Todoroki had started out extremely quiet and cold, avoiding the rest of the class and only really interacting when it had to do with class work. He’d been extremely driven in the sports festival, and Hagakure had found herself observing him to figure out why he was being so intense. He often spared glances at the audience, seeming to pinpoint his focus on someone in particular, but she couldn’t remember who. After their lunch break, she’d seen him sitting underneath a tree, chest heaving and face flushed, hands jittery at his sides. She’d figured it’d been because of all the exercise or overextending his quirk, but now that she was thinking about it, it could have been the result a panic attack or something of that nature. He’d been arrogant and unusually standoffish that morning, but after his fight with Midoriya, his demeanor seemed to shift. Since then, he’d begun opening up, talking to the people around him and engaging with the group more frequently.

She noticed him grinding his teeth on occasion, his jaw locked tight like he wanted to say something but couldn’t or didn’t think he should. Whenever he did participate in whatever group activities were going on, his social skills proved to be a bit lackluster, but she could tell he was trying. Before they’d moved into the dorms, he’d sometimes come to school with just the barest limp, and sometimes he’d flinch so slightly it was almost unrecognizable. She’d chalked it up to training, but now that she was thinking about all of it put together, with the addition of the information about his suicide attempt, it was starting to paint a different picture.

One of the ways she coped with being invisible was by watching others, observing the small quirks in their personalities, and she constantly reminded herself that it was one of the perks of her dilemma. She barely even noticed as Ojiro led her to a seat, her mind alive and buzzing with the tells and signs she should have paid more attention to, but she made sure to keep her posture poised and cheerful. All she had to do was keep her uniform from slouching; it’s not like anyone would be able to tell if she was frowning anyway.

Chapter Text

Tokoyami’s feathers shifted slightly as his nerves peaked, Dark Shadow writhing in his core, the tips of his fingers tingling as he folded them over crossed legs. Mr. Aizawa’s gaze cut over himself, Shoji, and then Mineta, weighing the tension in the room and then angling sideways to observe the slight scuff on the floor from moving furniture too quickly. Mineta was shoving two cookies into his wide-open mouth simultaneously, chewing obnoxiously and sending crumbs flying down to his lap and the couch cushions below. Tokoyami’s ankle twitched as he watched the small boy crunch down on the last pieces of the confections, brushing the crumbs off his front and onto the ground. Shoji sighed thinly through his nose at the blatantly rude behavior of their classmate, but Mineta didn’t take any heed.

Tokoyami turned his attention back to their teacher, who he noticed was fidgeting in a way that suggested he would rather be anywhere but sitting in the chair in front of them. It younged him down a bit, even with the carefully-leveled stare and rough stubble painting his cheeks. Mr. Aizawa stretched and cracked his back before slouching heavily into the armchair he’d claimed as his own, taking a deep breath to compose himself.

“Thank you all for coming here, I apologize for the inconvenience. Under the circumstances, I can’t bring myself to leave this hospital, and I thought you all deserved to hear this information from someone you’re relatively comfortable with.”

Mineta piped up, taking an obnoxiously-loud slurp of the provided tea, “well, I wouldn’t use the word comfortable. You’re pretty scary… and you’re constantly threatening us.”

Mr. Aizawa’s chin tilted down slightly, and Tokoyami recognized it as a habit, whether unconscious or not, that their teacher displayed often, but it only really worked to hide his expression when he was wearing his capture scarf, which he wasn’t. The man almost looked uncertain, but it was like a passing breeze, chilling for all of a few seconds before it was replaced by a stagnant calm.

“Yes, thank you for your input Mineta,” Mr. Aizawa drawled sarcastically, “before I divulge this information, I would like to make sure that you all know that this is a very serious issue, and I expect you all to treat it as such. It’s not to be made light of, or be made fun of. Do you all understand?”

Tokoyami’s chest tightened, and he sectioned off a part of his focus to deal with clamping down on Dark Shadow, whose curiosity and anxiety was beginning to ramp up. He assumed Mr. Aizawa had meant that question mostly for Mineta, but he nodded along regardless, wanting to set the room at ease as much as possible. The small, purple-headed boy sitting next to him seemed to quiet down slightly, his restless shuffling slowly churning to a halt as he recognized the proposed severity of the situation.

Mr. Aizawa’s eyes drifted shut for a moment, and he took a long breath before opening them again and leveling his gaze. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you all have some inkling of what happened last night, so I’m sure it won’t come as too much of a surprise that this is shocking information. Before I start explaining, I am going to warn you not to share this information with anyone outside of the U.A. teachers, our designated counselors, and the rest of Class 1-A. This information is highly private, and will need to be handled with care. To be frank, I wouldn’t be revealing this to any of you if I thought I had a choice.”

Shoji shifted to lean forward with his elbows on his knees, guarded concern lacing over his obstructed features. Tokoyami sipped at the warm tea cradled in his hands, willing the comforting heat slipping down his throat to settle his quirk a bit. He’d noticed that throughout their time in this room, their teacher had spent the majority of it watching Mineta carefully, and now his mouth was pressing into a thin line as the small boy picked at something on his sleeve.

Mineta had sort of forced himself upon Shoji and Tokoyami, the rest of the groups having rejected his presence for some reason or another. Overall, leaving the boy alone when the rest of them were grouping up seemed rude, and Tokoyami hadn’t given it much of a second thought when he’d shuffled up next to his leg and looked up pleadingly. Mineta did bother him on occasion, with the girl-crazy thing and overall lack of care for other people, but he was still a person, his classmate, and he didn’t have any particularly strong negative feelings towards him, so he’d just nodded and returned to speculating with Shoji about what this could be about.

“Todoroki tried to commit suicide last night,” Mr. Aizawa said suddenly, slowly, the fringes of his dark hair defying gravity just a bit, like he was readying his quirk, but not fully activating it yet. Tokoyami briefly pondered if he was doing it unconsciously, but that train of thought was quickly derailed by the words ringing harshly in his ears.

The information took a few moments to settle, for his brain to even comprehend what he’d just been told, and once it had gotten the grasp of the message, his heart sank and he was overwhelmed with a strong bout of nausea that had nothing to do with his quirk. Dark Shadow, surprisingly, went completely still. Tokoyami heaved in several deep breaths, placing his drink on the table in front of him and letting his torso sink heavily towards his knees. His brain supplied flashes of the memories he had of the dual-user, immediately flooding him with thoughts of the quiet, reserved teen who - now that he thought about it - was perhaps a bit too closed off and guarded for a typical introvert.

Mineta made an odd sound, something between a gasp of disbelief and a fearful, shaky laugh, and it seemed to ground Tokoyami a bit. “That’s… this isn’t…” the smaller boy protested, his voice high-strung and wavering.

Tokoyami’s beak clicked as he tried swallowing the growing lump in his throat, and he tilted his head to look down at Mineta, the purple-haired teen’s face falling slack with disbelief. Even with his focus strictly narrowed in on his frightened classmate, Tokoyami could feel the fraying edges of an unwelcome panic attack inching in on his consciousness. He sent a pleading glance over at Shoji, but the gesture was lost since the taller teen had opted to curl into himself, large back hunched over and face pressed into his palms to hide whatever emotions were filtering through his eyes.

“That’s horrible,” Mineta began, his voice barely above a whisper, “why would he do something like that? I don’t understand…”

The smaller boy’s right leg was bouncing frantically, dark eyes wide and searching, and Tokoyami awkwardly set a comforting hand on his thin shoulder, not really sure what else he could do with his mind still reeling over the news.

“You’re not… please tell me this is just another one of your ruses… that this isn’t real… I don’t know how to-”

“I assure you I am not lying. Please try to take deep breaths for me. All of you.” Aizawa cut in, emphasizing the rise and fall of his own chest to set an example for them to follow.

“Was there a note? Do you know why he…” Shoji asked quietly, tilting his head towards their teacher, eyes pleading for something, anything, that would help make this situation easier to comprehend.

Aizawa sucked in a long breath, prompting Tokoyami’s lungs to expand in unison, and scraped his thumbnail against his pant leg. “Currently, we don’t know the exact cause. He did not leave anything behind, as far as I’m aware. I’m sorry, I don’t have any information to help you understand why he did it.”

“He’s… he’s alive though, right? You just said he tried… he- he didn’t succeed right? He’s not de- dead… right?” Mineta questioned frantically, his voice getting louder and more shrill with each consecutive inquiry.

Dark Shadow wriggled indignantly in his belly, the image of his classmate dead at his own hands flashing prominently in his vision, and Tokoyami felt his control slipping, threading through his fingers like oil. Sweat beaded on the back of his neck as he tried to take measured breaths, one hand subconsciously curling in the button-down shirt covering his stomach. He felt the edges of his consciousness blurring, fading, warping, a hazy static puncturing his rational thought and writhing outwards from its origin point, devouring all rational thought and the thick chains wound around his presence to keep him centered. Tokoyami vaguely recognized the large hands on his shoulders, the deep voice prompting him to breathe, to ground himself, to do anything but let his quirk take over.

It wasn’t enough.

He felt a familiar icy darkness burrow into his core, fanning out from his stomach to blacken his veins, Dark Shadow gripping his mind, his consciousness, and tugging, aching, scrabbling for control. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see, couldn’t feel anything but the overwhelming panic shrieking through his body. He felt his chest tighten, and the last semblance of restraint he had snapped, Dark Shadow bursting forth from just above his belly button.

And then, there was a flash of red, and everything returned so quickly it gave him whiplash, Dark Shadow squawking and vanishing with an unnatural flash of black light.

“Tokoyami, breathe. Inhale. Expand your lungs,” someone was prompting, and the teen did his best to allow his chest to fill with air.

His stomach twisted and there was a small, searing pain originating from the center of Dark Shadow’s resting spot that was the indicator of his quirk being cancelled and/or returning too fast for his body to handle correctly. Tokoyami hunched over, curling his arms around his waist, and shuddered through a few deep inhales and exhales.

“I’m so-sorry,” he choked out, pressing his eyes shut firmly. He was so weak, he was supposed to be better at this now, after so long training to keep control, why couldn’t he keep a handle on himself? On his own quirk?

A warm hand pressed between his shoulder blades, and he hesitantly looked up to find Shoji’s reassuring gaze leveling with his. “You didn’t hurt anyone, you were only gone for about two seconds, and we’re in a meeting room in a hospital not too far from the dorms.”

After the incident at the summer camp, Shoji had offered to help Tokoyami devise a coping strategy for if he lost control again, to help him associate with his surroundings and ground himself in reality once he’d calmed down. They hadn’t had a chance to try it since they’d decided on a method, but Tokoyami instantly felt better after hearing the information he’d already guessed spoken aloud and affirmed by someone other than himself. Sometimes he couldn’t tell what was real and what was lost in the half-lucid state he ended up in when Dark Shadow took over.

“Thank you,” Tokoyami drawled slowly, continuing a steady pattern of breathing.

Shoji leaned back a bit, and Tokoyami realized he, Mr. Aizawa, and Mineta had formed a close half-circle around him, each looking at him with varying levels of expressed concern. He gave them all a reassuring nod before leaning back into the couch cushions, wincing a bit as the skin on his stomach pulled and a small burst of pain arose from the area.

“Tokoyami, do you need to leave the room?” Mr. Aizawa asked carefully, standing up and returning to his seat across from his students.

“If it’s alright, Sir, I’d like to stay. I think Dark Shadow’s calmed down now,” Tokoyami replied softly, eyeing his teacher with obvious guilt written into his features.

Mr. Aizawa took a deep breath and nodded in consent, crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward, his posture indicating that they were free to ask questions again.

Shoji ran a hand through his hair after returning to his spot and observing Tokoyami for a long moment, crumpling the slicked-down strands into a matted mess. “What’s Todoroki’s status now?”

“He’s stable and has been awake for a few hours now, but he can’t pass a psych evaluation as is, so things aren’t moving forward currently,” Mr. Aizawa supplied quietly, the tension in his body relaxing just a tiny bit.

“Why not?” Shoji asked cautiously, confusion lacing over his brow.

“He’s refusing to speak. We’ve checked for a brain injury, but there’s nothing that would affect his speech. We can tell he can understand us, he’s just refusing to respond,” Mr. Aizawa relayed quietly, rubbing a hand through his stubble.

Tokoyami’s feathers ruffled slightly and Mineta shifted next to him, nervously shoving a handful of the provided mixed nuts in his mouth and chewing haphazardly. He spoke through his mouthful, sending a few crumbs tumbling down the front of his uniform, “I still don’t understand the motivation behind it, I mean what reasons does he have for wanting to kill himself? He’s smart, the girls seem to like him, he’s got an incredible quirk… I don’t get why he’d try something like this.”

Mr. Aizawa sighed, but it wasn’t the typical frustrated or pained one they were so used to, instead replaced by a deep-seeded, sorrowful sound that tugged at Tokoyami’s worn heartstrings. “Mineta, most of the time what we display on the outside, the reputations we uphold, the mannerisms and speech patterns we train ourselves to stick to, aren’t representative of the truths we bury away in fear.”

Mineta’s mouth closed with an audible click and he stared down at his hands, seemingly unsure of how to respond to a statement like that. Tokoyami couldn’t blame him.

“Is there anything we can do for him?” Shoji cut in quietly, his voice a bit pitched, and Tokoyami could hear the hesitancy that didn’t often show in his friend’s behavior around others.

Mr. Aizawa’s expression softened slightly. “At the moment, no. For now, I want you all to focus on helping yourselves cope with this information in healthy ways. This incident has brought our attention to the lack of mental care we’ve been providing our students, and I, among others, want to change that. We have various counselors here on this floor for you all to talk to, and I’d really like each one of you three to have a chat with them. I think it could benefit you all greatly.”

Mineta shifted uncomfortably beside him, his nose wrinkling up a bit in distaste. Shoji hummed, seemingly content with the offer, and Tokoyami felt warm shame blooming in his chest as he thought over the suggestion.

“That isn’t to say there’s something wrong with any of you, I’m just trying to look out for you and…” Mr. Aizawa trailed off again, before taking a deep breath “... I want to make sure something like this never happens again. So please, I know there’s a stigma about mental health, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting - or needing - to talk to someone, to get help.”

The room fell silent, and Tokoyami watched a myriad of suppressed emotions flood their teacher’s features before he sucked in a large breath and refocused.

“I am also available, if talking to me sounds more manageable,” he finished, nodding to himself slightly.

Tokoyami’s fingers twitched against his stomach, and the shame he’d been feeling shifted slightly, almost overwhelmed by an aura of protectiveness and care. It reminded him of the moment when Mr. Aizawa had jumped straight into the fray at the USJ attack without a shred of hesitation, and the confident reassurance he’d felt as he watched their teacher take down villain after villain. Mineta - probably unconsciously - shifted a little closer to him, and Mr. Aizawa seemed to assume he’d gotten the point across, because he started talking again, his tone shifting back to it’s typical drawl.

“If you can think of any particularly strange behaviors Todoroki has exhibited over the time you’ve known him, please let one of the officers or myself know…” Mr. Aizawa continued to explain logistics and what was expected of them in the upcoming days, and Tokoyami allowed himself to check out a bit, still vaguely registering the information but needing the mental break.

Todoroki was easily one of the most respectable of his classmates, with his incredible quirk and his dexterity with it, as well as his general level-headed demeanor in and out of battle. It was hard to imagine him doing something this final, this… poorly thought-through, but Tokoyami knew that something like depression could take hold of anyone, regardless of what kind of life they lived or their personality. The strangest part of it all was how driven he’d perceived Todoroki to be, and how often and how hard he pushed himself to reach his goals, which wasn’t something he saw often in people struggling with mental illness. Tokoyami couldn’t seem to come to terms with the idea that he’d tried to kill himself because of the chemical imbalance depression caused, instead opting to explore the possibility of another, more intense factor.

“...conducting mandatory psychological evaluations of each student,” Mr. Aizawa finished.

Tokoyami internalized the slew of information dumped on him, taking a deep breath and letting his eyes wander to the police officer standing by the door they’d come in through. “There’s something more to this than you’re letting on, isn’t there?”

Mr. Aizawa’s eyes narrowed just slightly, and he held Tokoyami’s gaze for a lingering moment before blinking and looking at the floor. “Do any of you have further questions?”

“I’d like to know the answer to Tokoyami’s question as well,” Shoji asserted cautiously.

Their teacher sighed. “If I was able to answer that question, I would have.”

A chord of unease struck in Tokoyami’s chest, and Shoji sat back, huffing out a deep breath. The room drifted into silence, and Mr. Aizawa took out his phone, fingers flying across the keyboard for a few moments before he set it on his leg.

“If you all have no further inquiries, you’re free to leave. Please go through that door and meet up with the rest of your class. Once again, I encourage all three of you to have a chat with one of the counselors at some point this afternoon.”

Tokoyami stood and offered their teacher a small bow. “Thank you, Sir.”

He walked over to the second exit, gently placing his phone in the plastic bin. Shoji nodded to their teacher in Tokoyami’s peripheral, and then followed him out of the room and into a small hallway that cornered about ten feet ahead of them. The door clicked shut behind them, Mineta seeming to have stayed behind for a moment, and Tokoyami promptly let himself slump against the wall to his right.

“Are you doing alright? Is Dark Shadow…?” Shoji asked quietly, hovering a little ways away in case he needed anything.

Tokoyami ran his hands through his feathers, filling his lungs with a deep, longing breath. “No, Dark Shadow isn’t doing anything right now. I’m just… shocked. And worried.”

Shoji walked forward a few paces and turned to lean against the wall beside him. “So am I.”

“Something feels off…” Tokoyami voiced hesitantly. “It could just be the shock of Todoroki trying to kill himself, but… it feels like there’s something else going on here. I feel uneasy.”

The larger teen nodded solemnly, humming under his breath in agreement. They stood in silent support for a few moments, until Mineta opened the door behind them, a large stack of cookies in his hands, and Tokoyami took a stabilizing inhale and straightened, leading his them all down the hallway that would take them to where the last group was said to be gathered. The twisting, churning feeling in his chest didn’t fade, a distinct instinct screaming at him that they only knew a tiny part of the story, and that whatever they didn’t know about was likely to come back swinging.

Chapter Text

Yaoyorozu twirled a dark lock of her hair between manicured fingers, nerves buzzing in her chest, analytical gaze sweeping over the small room they’d been brought into. Jiro’s gaze was steeled, her body slightly tensed, earphone jacks twitching nervously as she brought a cup of steaming tea up to her lips. Mina linked her fingers and stretched her arms high above her head, and the sound of a few joints popping filled the silence. With a heavy sigh, she relaxed her body, sinking into the couch cushions and starting to crack each of her knuckles individually, earning a tired look of disdain from their teacher.

“Are we in trouble Sensei?” Jiro asked cautiously, a nail scraping against the side of her mug as she pulled it away from her mouth.

Mr. Aizawa blinked slowly, lightly tapping two of his fingers on the wooden armrest of his chair. “No. I’ve gathered you all here to answer your questions about what happened this morning.”

Mina perked up in her seat a bit, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees, head tilting a bit to the side as she rested it on folded hands. “You mean the mystery of what happened to Todoroki?”

There was a pallid, fake cheerfulness to her tone, one that didn’t intend to make light of the situation, but rather hold out hope that whatever he was about to tell them wasn’t too dire. The heavy, somewhat nauseous feeling that had settled when she’d entered the room twisted in Yaoyorozu’s stomach, forcing her to avoid the snacks laid out for them even though she wanted to be polite and accept some of the offerings. She shifted her gaze away from the table and up to their teacher, watching him take a deep breath and revise his slumped posture, ankles tucking together under his chair and arms folding over his knees. He looked incredibly uncomfortable and, from what she could tell, his composure was holding on by a thread, his entire presence screaming that he was overwhelmed and exhausted.

“I’ve been put under the impression that some of you already have a pretty good guess as to what’s happened, but I want to address the issue personally and privately to give each of you a safe place to process your emotions, as well as shut down any rumors or misinformation that may be going around.”

Yaoyorozu forced herself to swallow, her fingers tightening where they were intertwined, and she took a deep breath in preparation of the confirmation of the class’s suspicions. She centered herself, consciously feeling her breath pooling in her lungs, focusing on the soft couch beneath her and her own physical presence as well as the others in the room. She pushed all other thoughts to the background, leaving her mental awareness clean and open to new information. She could feel Mina’s anxious jitters to her left, the other girl’s body practically vibrating with anticipation and concern, and Yaoyorozu peeked an eye open to help guide the snacks piled in her hands down onto a napkin on the table, brushing away crumbs from between her fingers and setting her hands back on her lap. Jiro, in perfect contrast, was stock still, slightly too-wide eyes drilling holes into their teacher’s face, the grip she had on each knee a bit too tight, leaving the skin around her fingers tinged white. Yaoyorozu tried to offer her a comforting half-smile, but Jiro didn’t seem to see it, so Yaoyorozu let her gaze drift back to observe Mr. Aizawa’s cautious demeanor, feeling a bit more confident that she could handle what he was about to throw at them.

Thinking she could have been prepared for news like this was a naive child’s wish.

“Todoroki attempted to take his own life last night,” Mr. Aizawa said softly, pronouncing each word to its fullest in a slow, careful tenor.

There was a hushed pause, a shuddering breath where shock overtook her before it caved and everything else came rushing in.

Hundreds of words burst forth in her mind, some articulating into questions, some just skittering across her tongue, futily attempting to make sense of what she was trying to say, but all that came out was a choked noise that didn’t really count as a word. She quickly pressed a hand over her mouth, waiting for her brain to catch up to the shocked horror tearing through her chest, waiting for the glimpses and flashes of Todoroki’s face in her mind to subside, waiting for a thought that would actually make sense to supply her mouth with. She felt the betraying sting of tears building behind her eyes as the pool of blood and the stained knife she’d witnessed that morning came to mind, the thought of Todoroki burying that blade into his skin with the intent to kill making her stomach gurgle uncomfortably.

Yaoyorozu did her best to shove the overwhelming feelings down, to compact them tightly in her chest, knowing she had to keep it together in this moment. She was one of the leaders of her class, it was her job to keep everyone… to keep everyone safe…

She’d done a fantastic job with that.

One of her knuckles popped, snapping her out of her internal monologue, and she realized she was gripping her hands together too roughly. She unfurled her fingers and shook out her wrists, taking a deep breath and turning her gaze up to meet her teacher’s distraught expression, one he swiftly masked with careful indifference once she met his gaze. Yaoyorozu turned to face Mina beside her, eyes widening slightly as she took in the fat, clear tears rolling down pink cheeks. She must have blanked out for a minute or so; she hadn’t heard her start crying, hadn’t registered anything after… She cautiously put a comforting hand on Mina’s back, rubbing hesitant, small circles across her shoulder blades. Seeing one of their most cheerful classmates crying like this was… disorienting, but it’s not like she could blame her.

“Th-that’s hor-rible,” Mina choked out, bringing her hands up to wipe at the tears on her cheeks.

Mr. Aizawa hummed softly in agreement, and Yaoyorozu shifted a bit closer to Mina, opening her arms up in an offering of closeness. Her pink-haired classmate immediately leaned into her embrace, tears dying down a bit as she wrapped her arms around Yaoyorozu’s middle and buried her face in her shoulder. Yaoyorozu kept one hand between her shoulders and let the other wander up to Mina’s hair, fingers gently threading through soft locks, being sure to carefully avoid her sensitive antennae. Mina took a deep inhale and shuddered through an exhale, sniffling as she slowly calmed down.

Yaoyorozu’s eyes drifted over her shoulder, fixating on Jiro’s form. She was utterly still, back rigid and eyes focused on something off in the middle-distance, fingers curling into fists on her knees. Her mouth was pressed into a thin line, and Yaoyorozu could see the slight sheen lining the bottom edge of her eyes. Yaoyorozu fluffed Mina’s hair as the smaller girl leaned back, sniffling, and she offered her a small, reassuring smile. Mina nodded, her eyes wrinkling up a bit as she attempted a small smile in return, and leaned back into her side of the couch.

Once she was sure Mina was alright, Yaoyorozu stood and paced in front of her teacher to reach Jiro, feeling Mr. Aizawa’s dark gaze following her motions. Yaoyorozu knelt in front of Jiro’s frozen form and looked up at her, noting that the other girl’s irises twitched slightly in her direction as the light changed. She opted against touching her on the off chance it’d startle her, so instead she gently tested the waters with a question.

“Jiro? Are you alright?” Yaoyorozu asked quietly, craning her neck up slightly to see if she could meet the smaller girl’s gaze.

Her earphone jacks twitched slightly, and Jiro’s dark eyes slowly came into focus, darting down to look at Yaoyorozu. Her mouth opened slightly, then clamped back shut.

“It’s okay, you can tell me, what is it?” Yaoyorozu prompted softly, reaching out and calmly ghosting her hand over Jiro’s fist, letting her thumb graze over her skin lightly.

The tension in Jiro’s body suddenly released, her back slouching and her gaze snapping to meet Yaoyorozu’s. Her clenched fists loosened, and Yaoyorozu realized she was doing that to keep her hands from shaking like they were now. “I- I can’t,” Jiro whispered, her voice choked and uncertain. “I can’t… um… I have to go.”

Jiro stood up suddenly, shaking Yaoyorozu’s grip off her own, and made to leave the room. Yaoyorozu calmly straightened, mind racing through options of what she could do to help and-

Mr. Aizawa’s chair creaked as he stood, stopping Jiro in her tracks about five feet from the door. “I’m sorry, Jiro, I can’t let you leave alone right now. I can take you to one of our counselors if you’re more comfortable talking to someone else about this, but there’s more to this I need to have everyone take into consideration.”

There was a small hiccup from Jiro’s direction and Yaoyorozu watched as the thin line of Mr. Aizawa’s mouth twitched, a tiny tell of uncertainty she was surprised she’d caught.

“My older brother killed himself when I was nine. I know the drill,” were the next words that echoed through the room, edged with pain and quiet, yet so loud.

Yaoyorozu sucked in a breath, the already-intense ache in her chest broadening, and she found herself turning to her teacher, uncertain of what to do or how to help. Mr. Aizawa’s jaw was clenched, his gaze leveled at the back of Jiro’s head, and Yaoyorozu could practically see the gears turning.

He inhaled a deep breath. “I’m very sorry for your loss,” he started, pausing slightly as her shoulders tensed. “I understand that this must be incredibly difficult for you. If it would make it easier, I can set it up for you to talk to someone one on one, but this case has special circumstances I need everyone to understand. It’s for Todoroki’s safety, as well as yours and your classmate’s.”

This seemed to catch Jiro’s attention, and she turned slightly, head angled to hide her face under her bangs. “Alright,” her voice cracked slightly and her lips pressed closed, a sheen of silent tears painting her cheeks.

She slowly walked over to her previous spot, Yaoyorozu stepping aside to give her room, and slumped back into her seat. Yaoyorozu opened and closed her mouth a few times, settling on a simple, “I can sit with you, if you want.”

Jiro blinked up at her from under her bangs, nodding quietly. Yaoyorozu sent a check-in glance at Mina, who nodded furiously to assure her that she was alright with sitting by herself. Yaoyorozu smiled slightly in return and settled herself next to Jiro, leaving an open palm next to the smaller girl’s leg in case she wanted any physical comfort.

“Thank you, Jiro.” Mr. Aizawa addressed her quietly, sitting back down in his chair. “You can let me know if you need a break. I’ll try to keep this concise.”

Jiro nodded in affirmation, and their teacher took a moment to recollect his thoughts.

“As I briefly mentioned, I’ve set up various counselors on this floor for you to speak with. I’d encourage each of you to have a chat with them this afternoon. I have been explaining the situation to the rest of your class in small groups like this, so I would ask that you please set your cell phones in the bin near the door until the news has been broken to everyone and leave through the second exit. There should be a lounge stocked with food for you while you wait with the rest of your class until everyone has been informed. It is crucial that the current circumstances don’t leave this hospital, it is very important that none of you relay this information to anyone outside of your teachers at U.A. and your fellow Class 1-A classmates.”

An uncertain feeling wound up through Yaoyorozu’s chest. Keeping information like this under close wraps wasn’t entirely uncommon, especially considering Todoroki was a minor, but something about this felt wrong. Why were they being told?

“In light of these circumstances, U.A. will be conducting mandatory psychological evaluations of each student, as well as offering a course for everyone to take with the goal of learning how to spot signs of mental health issues, and how best to help people who are struggling with them.” Mr. Aizawa sucked in a long breath. “Lastly, if any of you have noticed… unusual behavior from Todoroki in the time you’ve known him, I would ask you to please write it down and give it to one of the officers stationed on this floor or to myself.”

Unusual behavior? Officers?

Mr. Aizawa took a moment, looking like he was counting something in his head, before huffing out an exhale and turning his dark gaze to Jiro. “That is everything I needed you to hear before you leave, you’re free to go whenever you deem necessary.”

Jiro darted up from her seat, knocking one of her feet against Yaoyorozu’s in her hurry, muttering out an apology and dumping her phone in the plastic bin by the door before exiting. Yaoyorozu thought over a few ways to convince Jiro to talk to one of the counselors in her head as she watched her go, wondering what would be the best course of action to help her cope. Mr. Aizawa blinked after her, looking a tad stunned, before turning back to the other two students sitting before him.

“Do you have any questions?” He asked quietly, seemingly a bit distracted by Jiro fleeing from the room.

“What’s going to happen to Todoroki now?” Yaoyorozu inquired, scooting over to the inside of the couch where Jiro had been sitting previously.

Mr. Aizawa ran a hand over his forehead and through what little of his hair was hanging freely. “Hopefully, if he gives us anything to work with, we’ll get him into a psych evaluation and be able to prove that he has a steady support system so we can get him back into the dorms.”

“If he gives you anything to work with?” Mina piped up, her voice lackluster and eyes downcast, fingers picking at her skirt absentmindedly as she gazed up at her teacher.

“He hasn’t spoken since he woke up,” Mr. Aizawa relayed quietly.

Yaoyorozu’s heart plummeted a bit, tugging hard on the fraying threads keeping it afloat. That wouldn’t do. They’d commit him to a psych institute if he didn’t prove he wasn’t a harm to himself or others. “And you’re sure he can understand you?” She asked cautiously, not sure what answer she was hoping for.

“Yes. He responded to an option I gave him and his heart rate flutters when someone says something that worries him.”

Yaoyorozu’s hands twitched. “The longer he refuses to communicate, the harder it will be for him to break out of it.”

Mr. Aizawa leveled his gaze at her. “I agree. We’re taking things one step at a time. I need to get some things in place before I can start convincing him to communicate with us.”

“What can I do?” Yaoyorozu immediately countered, feeling the familiar itch of needing to do something, needing to create something. Her skin began to tingle and crawl, her quirk readying itself even though she had nothing particular in mind.

“I can’t clear anyone to see him right now. What I need from you is to help keep the class in check, make sure none of them relay this information to outside sources, and make sure those who need to talk to someone do.” Mr. Aizawa considered her, leaning forward as she stared back at him.

“I’m sorry, I’m trying to focus on this conversation because I know it’s really important, but I’m really worried about Jiro, may I be excused to go find her?” Mina cut in, guilt splayed across her features, feet shuffling slightly in preparation of leaving the room.

Mr. Aizawa’s gaze shifted, and he gave her a curt nod. Mina squeezed Yaoyorozu’s shoulder and stood, dumping her glittering phone in the bin beside the door and leaving her taller classmate alone with her teacher and the silent officer keeping watch.

“I can do my best to help the class, but that will only help Todoroki so much. It’s going to be hard to sit still knowing… everything.” Yaoyorozu said carefully.

“I understand,” Mr. Aizawa replied, “you’re not alone in that sentiment.”

“You are training a class of future heroes,” she smiled shyly.

He huffed in agreement.

Yaoyorozu’s demeanor shifted slightly, and she steeled herself to ask for more detail. “Will Todoroki make a full recovery from his injuries? How did he… attempt to do it? Who found him? Do you think he’s going to respond soon enough to keep from being admitted to a psych ward?”

Mr. Aizawa’s face contorted slightly, the bridge of his nose wrinkling. “He will make a full recovery physically. He tried to kill himself by cutting his wrists, but we got to him in time so there shouldn’t be anything other than some deep scarring. Kirishima had the hunch to check on him, and alerted me when he realized something was wrong. He insisted we inform Midoriya, so the two of them have been here with us since it happened. The answer to your last question is up to him, but I will be doing everything I can to keep that from happening.”

Yaoyorozu’s eyes stung with tears once again, and she tilted her face to the ceiling and took deep breaths to keep them at bay. When she met her teacher’s eyes once again, she noticed his guard up, and her thoughts once again drifted to the strangeness of the way they were handling this whole situation. She let a moment of silence echo through the room before clearing her throat and holding eye contact with him as she voiced her suspicions.

“There’s more to this than you’re letting on, isn’t there?”

Something shifted in his eyes, and they twitched just slightly in the direction of the officer stationed to the side of them. “You should probably meet up with the rest of your class now,” he said, carefully keeping his voice level.

So, in other words, that’s a yes.

Chapter Text

Bakugo’s tongue clicked off the roof of his mouth in impatience, thoughts roiling as he trudged forward and turned a corner into a small room occupied by their teacher and a frankly ridiculous attempt at comfort, the clearly hastily-assembled meeting area and half-hearted attempt at snacks only serving to tease the nervous energy pulsing through him. Kaminari and Sero filed in behind him, unusually quiet, and Bakugo found himself watching both of the doors in the room on the off chance Kirishima was going to finally show up. Of all the days for Shitty-Hair to be missing…

Kaminari took a careful seat on the couch, fingers twitching against his legs, and Bakugo could tell he was physically straining to stay quiet. Sero wandered around the coffee table for a moment, picking at the provided snacks and plucking a few handfuls up in a napkin, and sat down next to Kaminari. Bakugo hovered awkwardly for a moment before resting against the arm of the couch farthest from the others, folding his arms over his chest and tucking one ankle atop the other.

Mr. Aizawa raised his head, dark gaze immediately sliding over to rest on him, and he huffed lightly - probably at his seating choice. “Bakugo, before we get started, I’d like to remind you that we’re currently in a hospital, so please refrain from screaming and/or using your quirk.”

A short spike of annoyance sparked through Bakugo’s chest, but instead of flaring up, he let out a heavy breath and muttered, “yeah, whatever,” in his teacher’s general direction.

Whatever they’d pulled him away from his training for had better be good. Bakugo briefly wondered if it had to do with whatever had caused the muted panic this morning, which he had first figured was a prank gone wrong, but he’d been too busy to pay much attention and therefore didn’t understand why he was wasting his time here. He also didn’t understand why they needed them grouped up with people they felt “emotionally safe with,” and conversely why Sero and Kaminari had sought him out.

Mr. Aizawa drew him out of his thoughts, the man’s typical drawl weighted by something Bakugo couldn’t place just yet, “I have some news I need to share with you all.”

Kaminari straightened a bit beside him, fingers weaving a stray thread into small knots and then smoothing it out, and finally he piped up, “does this have something to do with what happened this morning?”

“Yes, it does.” Mr. Aizawa paused, meeting the eyes of everyone in the room before continuing.
“Before I explain, I need you all to take note that this is highly sensitive information, and you are not allowed to share it with anyone outside of Class 1-A, your teachers, and our designated counselors.”

Something nervous and dark wriggled to life in Bakugo’s stomach. Those words sounded eerily similar to what the police had said to him and his parents after the Kamino incident. What could have happened that elicited this type of information lockdown? Did they figure out who the traitor was? Did someone get injured? Killed? Was the Leagu-

“Todoroki tried to kill himself last night,” came the cleaver that broke his train of thought.

What?

Icyhot tried to-

What?

“What the fuck,” slipped from his lips, a hushed whisper in an otherwise silent room.

Denial wrapped around his mind, a vice grip that only lessened as he thought back, recalling his unknown presence around the corner from Todoroki and Deku as the taller teen spilled his life’s horrors.

But to make an attempt on his own life? That didn’t make any sense. There were so many other ways to-

“Kaminari, breathe.” Bakugo was once again pulled from his thoughts by an outside voice, thick layers of paranoia unrelenting in their ability to keep him grounded.

The ash blond whipped his head around to stare down at the electric user, alarm registering as his heart pounded against his ribcage, adrenaline spiking, fingers crooking at the knuckles, heat easing into his palms. His wide eyes scanned over Kaminari, distinguishing small details but not finding anything physically wrong with him. The thread around the other boy’s fingers was now wrapped so tight it was making angry red indents in pale skin, hands shaking violently as his breath shuddered.

Sero had a firm hand between his shoulder blades and was leaning down so Kaminari could see his eyes, while seemingly making sure not to invade his personal space, and was urging the electric user to breathe, to focus on him, or their surroundings. Kaminari’s lips were trembling from the effort of staying shut, his jaw clicking as he ground his teeth together, and his golden eyes were wide and frozen on a spot on the ground between his knees. Bakugo sensed Mr. Aizawa shifting in his chair, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Kaminari, palms itching, feeling like a million thoughts were filling his head but being unable to pinpoint one.

Kaminari’s hands shot up to his collar, the thread coiled around his knuckles snapping as he tugged at his cherry-red tie and the front of his shirt, fingers scrabbling for purchase against the fabric. Sero let out a small huff of concern and pushed himself off the couch and onto the floor, subtly shooing at Mr. Aizawa and Bakugo to back up as he knelt in front of Kaminari. Mr. Aizawa quietly and slowly pushed his chair backwards, and Bakugo begrudgingly stood and walked a few paces away.

Sero carefully wrenched the blond’s hands away from his throat - Bakugo noticed small, red marks marring the sensitive skin there - and settled them on his knees, their palms pressed together. Sero’s wide hands pressed upward, smoothing over the pulse points on Kaminari’s wrists, and then back down so the tips of their fingers were touching, before repeating the process over and over again, movements slow and calm.

“Kaminari, you’re having an anxiety attack. It will pass. Just breathe with me. You’re going to be okay,” Sero murmured, words slow but certain.

The shorter boy’s eyes whipped up to meet Sero’s, and his face crumpled with stress and panic. “I ca- Sero I can’t breathe,” he gasped out, stuttering on the syllables, “just le- lemme, my tie’s too tight- I can’t breathe.”

Sero’s brow creased a bit, and he took a deep breath as a demonstration before replying quietly, “Kaminari, your tie is loose, almost completely untied. Your collar is unbuttoned. You can breathe. I promise. Just follow me, okay?”

Kaminari shakily shook his head, eyes squeezing up, and Sero tried to recapture his attention. “It’s okay if you want to close your eyes. You’re okay, it’s going to be okay. This will pass.” There was a small pause, and Kaminari hiccuped softly in the silence. “Try to inhale with me when I’m stroking my hands towards your wrists, and exhale as I pull back to your fingertips. You can do this. All I need you to do is try. Just breathe with me. You’re okay.”

The golden-blond seemed like he was trying to follow along, sucking air into his nose as Sero’s fingers brushed up his palms, and letting out desperate exhales as the taller of the two pulled away. It didn’t really seem to be working too well, a few minutes passing and Kaminari’s breathing still sounding pained and too shallow.

Sero’s face lit up for a moment, and his movements slowed. Kaminari’s eyes shot open at the change, worry plastered across soft, vulnerable features. The raven-haired boy soothingly assured him, taking one hand away slowly, “I’m getting something out of my pocket. It’s okay, I’m not leaving. Just keep trying to breathe.”

Kaminari nodded shortly, and Sero tried to keep up the rhythm with his left hand as his right groped around in the pocket of his jacket, conveniently placed on the sofa in arm’s reach. He pulled a small bottle out of the folds of fabric, the label too far away for Katsuki to read, and twisted the cap off of it, revealing a few white, concentric plastic circles sitting atop the brown glass. Sero looked up to confirm that Kaminari was watching, knew what he was doing, before turning the bottle upside down and letting a few controlled drops of liquid land on the inside of the blond’s forearm.

A soft lavender scent filled Bakugo’s nostrils, the fragrance growing stronger as Sero did the same to Kaminari’s other arm and capped the bottle, setting it on the floor beside his knees. The taller of the two rubbed his thumbs through the drops left on Kaminari’s wrists, gently smearing the essential oils into pale skin. Kaminari blinked, distracted, and his breathing began to even, nose twitching at the pleasing new smell.

It took a couple more minutes, but Kaminari finally seemed to calm down, Sero’s hands still massaging his wrists, and once he came back to himself, an embarrassed blush rose in his cheeks, a look Bakugo was familiar with from when the other blond’s brain restarted after he fried it and he realized he’d been walking around like a Dunce-Face.

Once Sero deemed that he was alright, he slowly took his hands away and shoved the small bottle back into his jacket pocket before rising and settling on the couch beside Kaminari. The electric user brought his wrists to his face and sniffed with a small smile, before turning to Sero and placing a hand on his shoulder, muttering a shy, but clear, “thank you.”

Sero smiled softly instead of replying, and Kaminari turned to Mr. Aizawa and bowed slightly. “I apologize for interrupting you.”

Mr. Aizawa moved forward a bit, elbows on his knees, and Bakugo wondered at the chinks in their teacher’s expressionless facade. “I appreciate it, but there’s nothing to apologize for. I didn’t realize…” his eyes slipped shut and exhaled, “I didn’t realize you’d be affected in this way. Are you going to be alright if we continue this conversation?”

Kaminari shifted awkwardly, obviously disturbed by the attention on him, and his hands worked deftly at his collar and tie to put himself back together. “I’m okay, now. I think it was just the initial shock and the stress from this morning…”

Mr. Aizawa eyed him thoughtfully, seemingly contemplating the level of truth to his words, and conceded, “… alright. Let me know if you need anything.”

The electric user nodded quickly, and sank back into the couch, hands bunched in his lap after he’d straightened his clothes. Bakugo suddenly realized he hadn’t moved for a good five minutes, completely caught up in the situation, and Sero was staring at him. He shook himself from his spot in the center of the room and settled against one of the arms of the couch again, adding in a short huff for good measure. Mr. Aizawa came very close to rolling his eyes.

The room went quiet, and it took Bakugo all of two seconds to be irrationally irritated about the lack of talking. Usually, he’d kill to get his peers to shut the hell up, but this… today… his dormant curiosity about the state of other humans was getting the best of him. Unfortunately, his mouth was refusing to move.

“So,” Sero began, and then paused, and then started again, “Do you know why he… tried to do that? Did he leave a note? You said he tried, so he’s not dead, but is he alright? I mean physically obviously… he can’t be-”

Mr. Aizawa cut him off before he started rambling, “Todoroki did not leave a note. He tried to cut his wrists.” Dark eyes drifted over to Kaminari, subtly gauging if he was successfully handling the information. The blond’s eyes were turned down to his lap, but he seemed otherwise collected. “Kirishima noticed something was wrong and alerted me, and we found him before he lost too much blood. He will heal from those wounds, albeit with scarring. Mentally, we have no way of knowing how he’s doing as of right now. We don’t know if he’s happy to have survived or not.”

“Why not? Haven’t you tried talking to him? Don’t they usually set you up with a therapist in these scenarios?” Sero barreled on, hands clasped tightly between folded knees.

“He hasn’t said a word since he woke up. We know he’s able to understand us, he answered a two-choice question I gave him by gesturing, but he won’t say anything.”

Bakugo guessed that the conversation probably kept going… but the radio static pressing against his skull, stuffed into his ear canals, sending every thought of him trying to rationalize careening into white noise, kept him from comprehending what was going on. He vaguely registered some more frantic questions, some from Kaminari now too, and Mr. Aizawa explaining that they all had to do mandatory counseling - fuck that, if the twenty-three different shrinks he’d seen in his life didn’t make a dent, nothing would - but the one instance in the long-winded waste of the blond’s time that stuck was Mr. Aizawa quietly, what sounded suspiciously like pleading, for them to hand over any information they might have regarding Todoroki’s past and behavior that seemed out of place.

As if Bakugo had the ability to comprehend what out-of-place behavior was.

Well… that didn’t mean he couldn’t see the signs of abuse written all over that guy.

Not to mention that blab-fest with Deku.

Shit. This meant he had to get involved, didn’t it.

His hands twitched at his sides, at some point they’d unraveled from being folded across his chest and began to rest limply against his thighs. Indecision weighed against his chest. On one hand, Half N’ Half got himself into his own mess. On the other, this outcome was the product of circumstance, and if he was going to be a hero, he couldn’t let his rivals bite the dust like this. It was likely Deku already beat him to the punch but if-

Just pray that you’ll be born with a quirk in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof of the building.

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“Bakugo, hey…”

A warm, familiar hand landed on the blond’s upper arm, gripping lightly, and Bakugo suddenly recognized that his shoulders were rigidly pushed up to guard his ears.

“What,” Katsuki ground out, snapping his attention to the shock of bright red hair hovering a bit to his right.

“C’mon man, it’s time to go, and… and you’re hurting yourself. Relax,” Kirishima’s voice filtered through his ears, the words slowly settling into place in his brain until he sunk into reality and noticed they were the only two left in the room.

Bakugo looked down to where the redhead’s fingers were pressing into the small divot in the fist of his right hand, wriggling against the opening in an attempt to get his fingers to loosen. The blond could feel the warmth against his nails, so he slowly released his grip, letting his hands fall open. Once he’d let go of one thing, the rest of his body followed, muscles slowly growing lax and his jaw un-clenching painfully. He subtly worked at the sore muscles running up the sides of his face and wiped his sweaty, bloody palms against his pants.

“You gonna be alright?”

Shitty-Hair’s question rung in his ears and his pride flared, setting off a loud “tch” and the movement of his legs towards the second exit of the room. He definitely wasn’t stomping like a child, and it definitely wasn’t sating the small part of him that needed to get the energy out.

“Ah, ah,” Kirishima chided, “you’re gonna come sit with me for a bit. And you’ve gotta leave your phone here.”

Bakugo huffed inwardly and slowed to a stop, dumping his cell in the plastic bin by the door and begrudgingly following the redhead out of the room and into a small hallway. He could hear his classmate’s chatter down at the other end, the sound grating against his ears and making his muscles tense again. Kirishima turned a corner before they got too close, leading Bakugo through a small, empty patient’s room and a sliding glass door until they were stepping out onto a spacious balcony.

Kirishima turned abruptly and lightly pressed his hands to Bakugo’s shoulders, guiding him into one of the white plastic folding chairs set up on the small platform before taking his own, and silence washed over them. A frigid breeze swept against their ankles, and Bakugo relished in the feeling against his numb skin. There were a few rays of muted sunlight filtering to the ground here and there, some of them reflecting off the windows of the building across the street. There were vague hospital noises and smells in the background, but it was hardly noticeable there in the little pocket of peace Kirishima had provided.

It took all of thirty seconds for the quiet to be interrupted.

“I don’t know if you were zoned out when Mr. Aizawa was telling you guys about what happened, but I found him. Todoroki, I mean… Well, Mr. Aizawa and I found him, but, I noticed, and… and everyone keeps trying to tell me I did such a good job because I noticed something was wrong and did something about it, but I just feel like a failure. I didn’t notice, you know? Not really.” Kirishima’s voice started out awkwardly loud, but as he continued his worried, insecure mutterings, the tone got quieter, more reserved and vulnerable, “I didn’t notice before he… I noticed within seconds of what would have been the end of his life, and I don’t… I want to be a hero, and I couldn’t… it didn’t matter… and now he’s lying in a hospital bed refusing to talk to anyone and I’m not allowed near him - none of us are - and all I can do is sit here and think about what signs I missed but I can’t even do that because I just keep remembering all the blood and the way his hazy eyes looked at me but didn’t really see me and how I could hear his breathing getting more and more shallow by the second and how limp he was and how horrible he must have felt to do something like that to himself and I just…”

Kirishima’s voice hitched with a sob.

Bakugo looked out over the edge of the balcony, listening as Kirishima’s breathing caught and he stifled his tears, and feigned indifference.

Katsuki’s heart throbbed at the sound, and he tentatively let his hand cross the space between them, setting it on Kirishima’s trembling knee, and said, so quietly it was barely decipherable over the sound of the blood pounding in his own ears, “you are a hero, Kirishima.”

And just like that, the crying stopped.

Chapter Text

Iida felt unbearably stiff, thin breaths filtering through constricted lungs, each beat of his heart throbbing against his temples, jaw locked and glasses pushed hard enough into his nose they would probably leave harsher imprints than usual. He knew something was really, really wrong. Had known since that morning. Todoroki’s room had become a veritable quarantine, busied with paramedics and the school’s robotic cleaners for a little over thirty minutes and then suddenly empty. Iida didn’t miss the small bloodstains on the brushes and treads of the cleaners.

Then they’d been summoned to the hospital, which was a strange decision in his opinion, unless there was some sort of imminent danger they weren’t aware of yet. Iida, accompanied by Uraraka, Asui, Aoyama, and a police officer, had been loitering in a small hallway for roughly an hour or so, Iida pacing restlessly, delivering snacks from the vending machine, and trying to maintain their noise level, all to distract himself from the dread knotted heavy in his stomach. The hospital itself was hard for him to stand, high-strung, anxious energy pulsing through him as he did his best to keep his thoughts from skidding down the slope that lead him to dead classmates and paralyzed brothers.

Uraraka had worn away at the metal clasp of her school bag until it was polished and reflective by the time they were summoned. Iida wasn’t sure if it was relief or trepidation that flooded him when the police officer standing calmly a few feet away from their huddled group confirmed something to the radio on his shoulder and politely asked them to follow him. Iida straightened his back so rapidly it cracked, loudly, and stood, turning away from his friends to chase after the police officer and tucking his hands into strained fists in his pockets. Uraraka and Asui were chattering about something behind him in hushed tones and fluttered words he wasn’t processing well enough to understand. Aoyama was quiet, one hand curling in the fabric at his stomach.

Iida wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Mr. Aizawa look so openly distressed, aside from maybe the flash of panic he’d briefly exhibited when the League of Villains had appeared at the USJ. This was more open though, more raw, and Iida’s nerves crackled, a voice in the back of his head echoing his brother’s diagnosis in his ears. Mr. Aizawa gestured for the four of them to take a seat, Uraraka and Asui plopping down practically on top of each other on the couch, hands interlaced and shoulders brushing, and Aoyama took the seat on the far side, eyes cast to the ground and heel scuffing at the flooring. Mr. Aizawa’s eyes found their way to his, and it took Iida an embarrassingly long moment to realize his teacher was waiting for him to join them.

He sat down stiffly, adjusting his glasses and leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. Mr. Aizawa ran a thumb over his bottom lip and took a deep breath before sitting up a little straighter.

“I have news for you regarding what happened this morning with Todoroki.”

Thick silence flooded into the gap for a long moment, before Asui spoke up meagerly, “something really bad happened, didn’t it Sensei?”

Mr. Aizawa’s jaw clenched, a muscle in his neck writhing, and he met her gaze. “He tried to kill himself,” he breathed, his voice quiet and hesitant, but the words felt loud enough to shatter Iida’s eardrums.

Uraraka choked out a sob, her free hand flying up to cover her mouth as Asui froze at her side, a half-hearted croak escaping her. “O-oh god,” Uraraka whispered between broken, stammering hiccups, wiping furiously at her face as tears began to roll down round, pink cheeks.

Iida’s muscles throbbed and locked, fingernails dragging against the material of his pants as his hands curled into fists. His stomach flipped and his throat tightened, sharp grief prickling through his chest and down to his feet. His mind wandered to the blurred image of Todoroki standing between him and Stain, blood dripping from his face and arm, telling him to stand up and be a hero, his friend so larger than life it was disorienting. He couldn’t reconcile that image with one of Todoroki lying in a hospital bed, having attempted to cut himself out of this world in the worst way possible.

“...Midoriya has been here since it happened,” Mr. Aizawa was explaining, and Asui was crying now too, and Aoyama was curled into himself at his right, running shaky hands through his hair.

Iida had to keep it together. He was the Class President. He had to handle things like this.

How do you handle something like this?

“Can we see Todoroki? And Midoriya?” Uraraka barreled on, a clump of tissues pressed to her nose.

Mr. Aizawa rested his head on his palm, leaning heavily on one of his chair’s arms. He was visibly worn out, barely keeping himself upright, and Iida felt exhausted just looking at him. “I’m afraid I can’t let you see Todoroki yet, but Midoriya is around here somewhere, I’m sure he’s waiting to see you all.”

“Why can’t we see Todoroki yet?” Asui asked quietly, rubbing her thumb in soft circles against Uraraka’s hand and sniffling determinedly every few moments.

“He hasn’t cleared a psych evaluation yet, and it’s… complicated. He can’t have visitors until he passes the psych evaluation.”

“Why is it complicated?” Uraraka asked, an underlying hint of challenge in her tone.

Mr. Aizawa leveled a gaze at her. “He won’t communicate; he hasn’t spoken since he woke up. He understands me, but he won’t reply. Before you ask, it’s not because of his injuries.”

Todoroki had always been relatively quiet, but opinionated. There had to be a reason he wasn’t speaking. Iida cleared his throat, tongue feeling swollen as he forced out, “do you know why?”

“No.”

“It wouldn’t make much sense for him to stop talking without a reason,” Iida pushed on quietly, “if you can figure out what the reason is, maybe you can get rid of it and he’ll feel safe talking.”

Mr. Aizawa’s eye twitched, and some fleeting emotion flickered over his face, a realization. “I’ll see what I can do,” came the short response, their teacher’s tired voice picking up a small note of urgency. “In the meantime, I need you all to understand that this must be kept a secret within the class, your teachers at UA, and the counselors and officers stationed around this floor of the hospital. It is imperative for safety and media reasons. Iida, as Class President, I’ll also need your help making sure the rest of your classmates don’t let this information slip.”

Iida nodded stiffly, his gaze stuck somewhere over Mr. Aizawa’s shoulder.

“I understand media reasons, but safety?” Asui questioned, twirling a lock of loose green hair around her index finger. “What’s the danger? Villains?”

Mr. Aizawa blinked slowly, inclining his head a bit. “Yes, villains, but Todoroki is also the son of a very powerful hero, and anyone could take advantage of his vulnerability right now for any number of purposes.”

Asui nodded solemnly, sinking back into the firm couch cushions.

Mr. Aizawa cleared his throat and shifted in his chair, letting a moment of pause hang over the group before he began to speak again, “I’ve set up a variety of counselors on this floor for you to speak with. I encourage all of you to take the chance to talk to them this afternoon, even if you don’t feel like you have much to say. I know some of you are closer to Todoroki than others in your class, and I’d imagine this news is painful for you on a more intimate level than some of your peers who don’t relate with him as much. It’s come to my attention that we have not paid enough attention to the mental health of our students, and this is an unfortunate but very real side affect of that fact. So please, use the resources we can provide. Later on, U.A. will be conducting mandatory psychological evaluations for each student, as well as offering a course to everyone about mental health, but for now, focus on getting through today.”

Uraraka’s face crumpled as a new round of tears flooded her cheeks and she cried into her hands without a word. Iida absentmindedly laid a hand on her shoulder, hating the way it trembled beneath his palm. The room fell into silence, interrupted only by the soft sounds of crying, and the shuffling of the police officer standing at the door.

Mr. Aizawa broke the silence, leaning forward and meeting each of their eyes. “If any of you have noticed Todoroki acting in any way unusual, recently or over the whole time you’ve known him, I’d ask you to please write down your observations and the approximate date they occurred and give them to myself or one of the officers stationed on this floor. When you are ready, you are welcome to join your classmates in the lounge on the other side of that door. Please leave your cell phones in the bin over there. I’m also here if you have any questions you need answered.”

Something about the inquiry into Todoroki’s unusual behavior struck a chord in Iida’s mind, the taut string of thought humming as he considered the implications. It remained, buzzing lightly in the background, even as Iida’s focus drifted to the sounds of movement around him as his classmates began to stand up.

Uraraka blew her nose and chuckled bitterly. “I feel like I should have a million questions, but I can’t articulate a single one.”

“You’re in shock,” Mr. Aizawa replied slowly, getting up from his chair to stabilize her at the elbow, “I’ll be around, you can ask me questions later if they arise.”

Iida strapped down his thoughts, his wandering mind, his emotions, and stood.

He was the Class President. He had to handle this.

“Uraraka, Asui, Aoyama, come this way, I’m sure Mr. Aizawa has things to attend to. Make sure to leave your phones,” he barked softly, ushering his three classmates towards the exit of the room.

His teacher was silent as he passed him, silent as they left him and the police officer behind a closed door. Asui and Aoyama continued on ahead, Uraraka slowing her pace to walk beside him.

“Do you think… he’s happy he survived?” Uraraka asked in barely more than a whisper, tissues shredded between her fingertips. “Suicidal people just want to escape, right? They don’t actually want to die, they just want to be happy? Do you think… he can be happy?”

Iida slowed to a stop, turning to face his shorter friend. He opened his mouth, found nothing on his tongue, closed it. Felt his lips screw to the side. “I don’t know,” he murmured finally, “I think that depends on him.”

Uraraka blinked up at him, teary eyes wide, and stood motionless for a second before tentatively stepping forward and gently setting her forehead on Iida’s chest. Iida stiffened, unsure of how to respond, before his brain caught up and he raised his arms, wrapping them loosely around her shoulders. Uraraka cried silently into his chest for a moment, fingers curling in the fabric of his uniform, before she shoved herself off of him and sniffled loudly, puffing up her face the way she did when she demanded to have the last cookie in the box and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“Okay,” she said, voice a little too loud for the intimate setting, “I’m okay. We’ve got to be strong, for the class, and for Midoriya, and for Todoroki.” She gave him her best attempt at a smile. “Let’s go.”

He felt a tug on his sleeve, and suddenly, out of nowhere, he felt the world drop out from under him, stomach plummeting as a roiling surge of nausea smothered his senses. Iida dug his heels into the ground and frantically yanked his arm out of her grasp. She blinked at him in surprise, but before she could get a word out, he cut in, forcing his voice to remain calm and steady, “I have to use the bathroom. Go, I’ll meet up with you.”

She tilted her head a bit, and he was worried she’d caught on to him, but she just nodded and turned on her heel, marching down the hallway with renewed vigor, even as her shoulders shook slightly.

He let out a shaky breath.

Iida’s eyes flickered down the hallway, searching for the nearest bathroom, and found one in the opposite direction Uraraka had gone. He stumbled towards it in a hurry, feeling the bundle of carefully controlled nerves rapidly unraveling in his chest. The bathroom was empty, by some miracle, and Iida pushed into the largest stall at the end of the row, fumbling in vain with the lock before his stomach turned and he was forced away from the door and to his knees as he gagged. He tried to breathe through the nausea, hands grappling for purchase on his clothes, on the floor, the wall, anything to keep him upright.

The image of his brother laying prone and still in a hospital bed, skirting consciousness with bandages wrapped tight around useless legs flashed into his mind, and he dry heaved. The image warped, shifting to one of Todoroki’s body hanging limp from a rope, fibers digging into pale, bloodied skin pulled tight against the awkward twist of a broken neck, and Iida retched. He felt the telltale pull of tears on his skin as he emptied his stomach, screwing his eyes shut against the horrifying image and trying to focus on something, anything else.

He was the Class President.

He had to handle this.

Iida clamped a steel barricade down in his mind, trapping his thoughts - his fears - away in recesses he never planned to address. He felt a few more rolls of his stomach, the back of his throat protesting and his gag reflex turning up nothing. He hastily wiped away the tears on his face, the drool from his chin, and flushed the toilet. Iida stood, swaying as blood rushed to his head, and straightened his back, pushing out of the stall and going to wash his face and rinse out his mouth in the sink. He examined himself in the mirror and fixed his tie, combing his fingers through his hair, and took a deep breath.

He was the Class President.

He had to handle this.

He left the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Todoroki wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep this up. Midnight was surprisingly stoic, maintaining her composure as she played his chaperone, dressed down from her hero costume and more serious than he’d ever seen her. He was making it a point to avoid her unnervingly-attentive gaze, but the longer she went without trying to coerce him into speaking, the more his shot nerves buzzed with trepidation. She’d said one thing since she’d entered the room, and it’d slipped his mind almost as soon as his brain had registered it.

Now, he wasn’t sure what she wanted, what she was going to do with him, and he scratched at the metal railings by his sides. Even without the padded handcuffs, he knew he was in a vulnerable position, honeyed fear smothering him even as he remained placid and docile.

Where is his father?

Either the teachers suspected something and were willingly choosing not to tell Endeavor, or his father was purposefully taking this long because he knew it’d set him on edge. There’s no way he wasn’t coming to demonstrate just how much this decision cost Shoto. If he said anything to the teachers now, Endeavor would punish him for it. One of his fingernails left a scar in the metal.

So pathetic. I couldn’t even kill myself right. Slitting my wrists? Really? There are so many more effective metho-

His heartbeat skittered on the monitor, berating his ears with an obnoxious beep that had Midnight looking up from the journal placed neatly on her folded knees.

“Something wrong, Todoroki?” She asked, voice smooth and calm, body language open and trusting.

His eyes flicked up to meet hers. His scar hurt. He shook his head, once, and then realized what he was doing and forcibly stilled his neck.

Midnight pursed her lips and pushed her upper body closer. “You’re in safe hands. You know that, right? We all just want what’s best for you.”

“I’m just doing what’s best for you, Shoto.”

There was a needle in his neck.

Shoto blinked. Looked away, looked down at his lap where pale hands sat limply, looked at the pink, raised edge of a circular scar on the top of his hand, just next to a pale freckle, where Endeavor had pressed a steel rod into the joint between his index finger and thumb until he wailed for mercy. His father had done that over a bad test score.

He kept his mouth shut.

They could never know.

Midnight looked like she was going to try again, but she cut herself off as the door to his room slid open. Mr. Aizawa, looking entirely worse for wear but openly determined, stepped inside.

“Midnight, I’d like to speak to Todoroki alone,” he drawled slowly, pulling an elastic band off his wrist and twisting his hair into a messy bun at the back of his head.

The R-Rated Hero unfolded herself from the chair and tucked her journal under one arm, setting a hand at the end of Shoto’s bed by his feet for a moment before leaving and shutting the door. Mr. Aizawa leisurely took her place, moving the chair closer to his cot, and ran a thumb along the metal railing over the groove Shoto had accidentally carved.

Shoto felt like he was in trouble for something.

Was it the scratch in the railing? Or… he’d attacked someone earlier hadn’t he? He couldn’t remember. He remembered someone screaming. He remembered being afraid. He hadn’t meant to hurt anyone.

I’m just like my father.

Maybe it was because he wasn’t talking to anyone.

Maybe it was the fact that I tried to kill myself.

“Todoroki, I want to make something clear to you,” Mr. Aizawa started, leaning forward to try and catch his eye.

Shoto turned his head away from his teacher, angling his face so his bangs would shield his eyes. He was in trouble, he was in trouble, he was going to be punishe-

“Your father will not be coming here to see you.”

What?

Shoto’s head snapped up, and he unthinkingly met his Mr. Aizawa’s eyes.

“Your father will not be coming here to see you. I have not informed him of your suicide attempt or the fact that you’re staying here.”

He flinched at suicide, he tried to commit suicide, it sounds like a crime, but rolled the words over in his head regardless.

Why?

“Is that why you haven’t said anything?” Mr. Aizawa continued, “because you are afraid of what he’s going to do? Afraid that if you say something, it’ll be used against you?”

Shoto withdrew into himself, his mind rapid-firing as he tried to understand the implications of Mr. Aizawa not telling his father, uneasy that his teacher had read him so easily.

I don’t know, I don’t care, I just don’t want to be here anymore, this is all so confusing, I don’t wan-

“Please, Shoto.”

All of Shoto’s thoughts came to an abrupt stop, the soft lilt of a plea from his teach- Mr. Aizawa’s mouth shaking him so deeply he couldn’t help but focus on the man sitting beside him. He blinked slowly in response, watching dark irises as they analyzed him, pleaded with him, and Mr. Aizawa sighed.

“I can’t do anything if you won’t talk to me, won’t trust me.”

I do trust you. I don’t trust him. Them.

A sneer and sharp fingernails digging into his ear, pulling him out of the classroom and into the hallway, a light smack to the back of his head as he was reprimanded for bad mouthing his father.

A breath reeking of alcohol, a perfect tie and hazy eyes. “Do you want people to die? No? You want to be a hero? What kind of hero keeps a powerful hero from protecting people? Is that what you want? To be a murderer?”

A brother, taller, older, hair a brilliant white, walking away, arms full of books on how to help people like Shoto, people who are hurting, turning a blind eye to bruises and cuts and burns.

A sister, complacent and apathetic, handing him a peach when he woke on the training room floor, dizzy and void, soft footsteps in the other direction fading out into the ringing in his ears.

A brother, young and burning bright like uncontained wildfire, wrapping him in his arms and screaming vile things at their father, shielding him from molten fists, becoming a silhouette behind paper doors, screaming turned raw and wordless, blue light writhing around his trembling form until everything went quiet and his body dropped.

A mother, eyes wide and pupils tiny, one hand fisted in his ugly red hair as the other angled scalding water onto the replica of his father’s blazing eyes.

.

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.

.

Mr. Aizawa, inky hair hovering above bright red eyes, capture weapon whipping around villains sent to hurt them as he plunged headfirst into the fray, not a single ounce of hesitation in his body.

Mr. Aizawa, wrapped in bandages, standing tall before them, giving a lecture on how best to take care of themselves on and off the battlefield.

Mr. Aizawa, pulling him aside to ask about his quirk, about how well he could regulate himself before he caused damage to his body, suggesting ways for him to combat the frostbite and handing him a list of exercises to do to strengthen his resistance so he wouldn’t hurt himself.

Mr. Aizawa, beaten down and scarred and still standing tall, still fighting for what was right.

Shoto twisted to the side, pushing himself to his knees and scrabbling around on the nightstand for the pad of paper and the black sharpie sitting atop it. He pulled them both into his lap and uncapped the marker, resolve blooming in his chest even as his hands shook. He scrawled a few words across the paper, tentatively held it to his chest for a few moments, and then turned it around for Mr. Aizawa to see.

I trust you. I’m sorry.

Chapter Text

All of Aizawa’s breath left him in a rush, a fraction the emptiness in his chest dispersing as he read the neat, blockly letters over three times just to make sure they were real. Todoroki looked unsure of himself but resolute in his choice to trust Shota, the teen’s pale fingers clenched tightly around the pad of paper in a vain attempt to conceal the anxious tremors shuddering through him. Aizawa knew it must be incredibly difficult for the kid to place his trust in him, let alone anyone, considering just how much the adults in his life had failed him up until now.

Shota let a small, relieved quirk of his lips show, and he folded his ankles, the rush of relief flooding his senses nearly overwhelming. “I’m very happy to hear that,” he murmured, angling his head to try and catch Todoroki’s skittish gaze.

The teen tentatively met his eyes and blinked slowly, clutching the pad of paper to his chest like a security blanket. Or perhaps like he was scared of what he’d written, what he’d chosen to say. He looked a bit like a terrified owl, all wide, mis-matched eyes and shoulders hunched up to his ears.

“Let’s start with something simple,” Aizawa began slowly, taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, “why don’t you tell me how you’re feeling right now?”

Shoto shrunk a little further into himself as he processed the question, and Aizawa felt the fragile connection he’d made thinning ever so slightly, tensed and on the verge of snapping.

“It doesn’t have to be anything complicated,” he amended, “just tell me the first emotion that popped into your head when I asked.” His heart hammered in his chest. He couldn’t afford to screw this up and lose the kid in his silence again.

Todoroki peeked at him from behind his bangs, a calculating look in his eyes. His gaze flickered to the door, apprehensive and worried.

“We’re alone,” Shota impressed, “you can be honest with me.”

Todoroki’s gaze flickered down to his knees as he slowly separated the pad of paper from his chest and poised his sharpie to write something. His fingers shook against the paper, and one of his legs rapidly bounced up and down as he tried to figure out what to write. He looked up at Aizawa again, licking his lips nervously, then angled the pad up so Shota couldn’t quite make out what he was writing, and quickly began to scribble something. He wrote something and then violently crossed it out only to flip onto a new page and start again, his expression less uncertain this time. He finished, and spun it around for Aizawa to see.

Fine.

Shota blinked, a little stunned, and opened his mouth to say something before closing it gently, knowing he should think carefully about his response before saying anything. What he’d written seemed slightly out of character, an obvious farce with how anxious Todoroki had been since he’d woken up at the hospital. The beeping of the boy’s heart monitor turned a little frantic, and he deftly avoided Aizawa’s gaze, locking his eyes to the tiled floor to his right.

He’s lying.

Aizawa supposed that wasn’t too surprising.

“Todoroki, you can be honest about what you’re really feeling, you don’t have to hide it. All I’m trying to do is understand so I can help you. I’m not going to do anything to hurt you.”

The kid scowled, and Shota heard a small noise as Todoroki ground his back teeth together, his jaw shifting and tensing.

“You’re allowed to be angry,” Aizawa offered gently.

Todoroki made a frustrated noise at that, scuffing a heel on the ground like a child in trouble for eating ice cream before bed. If only it were that simple. The boy hesitated for a moment before writing something on the paper in his hands and showing it to Aizawa.

I want to leave.

Aizawa closed his eyes and sighed thinly, clasping his hands in his lap. “I’m sure you’re aware that I can’t let you leave until you show me that you’re not a threat to yourself or others.”

Todoroki’s eyes widened almost comically, the aggravated look on his face fading only to be replaced by concern and a current of despair. The bridge of his nose wrinkled in distaste, and it looked like he may be holding back tears. He furrowed his eyebrows and frantically scribbled something down.

I’m not going to hurt anyone!

Aizawa’s heart stuttered at the sheer innocence in Todoroki’s statement; a kid scared to become like a father who hurt them. He took a deep breath. “Does that include yourself?”

The kid stiffened. A deer caught in headlights.

“Well, Todoroki?” Aizawa prompted gently, keeping his posture and expression as open as he knew how. “Are you planning on hurting yourself again?”

Todoroki quickly looked away, absentmindedly rubbing at the bandages around his wrists. A slight sheen flickered over his irises as he blinked, his lower lip wobbling slightly. That on its own was enough of an answer, but the soft, hesitant shrug of one of his shoulders confirmed it. Shota’s chest ached deeply, and he took a rattling breath.

“Why,” he asked softly, studying what little he could see of his student’s face. “Don’t you want to be a hero?”

Todoroki’s expression crumpled, and Aizawa immediately could tell he’d struck a nerve. The kid’s grip on the pad of paper tightened, a small collection of ice crystals building on the page, and he visibly bit his bottom lip. He looked so small, so vulnerable, on the brink of tears because he didn’t know how to explain why he was hurting so badly the only thing he could think to do was kill himself. Aizawa subconsciously began to move forward in an effort to comfort his student, but he paused as Todoroki’s hand went to hover above the paper in his lap.

The boy’s hands were shaking so badly he could barely finish a letter, and the more he tried, the more upset he became. Shota saw the beginning of what he was trying to write - Scared. I can’t - before the entire pad of paper went up in flames. Aizawa cursed to himself, activating his quirk and snuffing out the fire before it could hurt Todoroki, but the damage to the kid’s psyche was already done.

A sob tore out of Todoroki’s throat, rough and broken, choked out through an unwilling mouth, as the ashes slipped through his fingers to collect in a scattered pile on the floor. He shuddered, hiccuping on a breath as tears formed in his eyes and threatened to fall. Aizawa stepped closer, and the kid’s hands flew to his hair, violently tangling themselves in the red and white strands. Todoroki’s face disappeared from Shota’s view behind bandaged wrists and forearms. He shook his head and tugged at his hair, his back convulsing with each silenced breath, his sobs completely soundless as a result of intense and routine conditioning.

Shota reached for him, gently untangling his fingers from his hair and trying to ignore the loose strands that slipped through their fingers and onto Shoto’s shoulders. With nothing to hold onto, Todoroki became increasingly more frantic, so Aizawa led his hands to his shirt in an attempt to give him an anchor that wouldn’t cause him more pain. Todoroki feverishly latched onto Aizawa’s sweater, fisting his hands in the fabric, and buried his face in his chest. Aizawa carefully ran a hand down his student’s back, feeling Todoroki’s shuddering breaths under his palm.

“It’s okay to cry, Shoto,” Aizawa murmured, cradling the boy in his arms.

He shook his head violently. “N-no, I-I can’t,” he whispered, “he- he’ll-”

“Your father isn’t here, he’s not going to hurt you,” Shota assured him, smoothing a hand against the back of his head.

Todoroki hiccuped and froze, tearing himself away from Aizawa’s chest and turning his shocked gaze to the door. He stopped breathing entirely, his chest frozen midway through an inhale, and tears dripped from reddened eyes, silently curving down his chin. Shota angled himself between the kid and the door, listening for what had startled Todoroki. The boy looked utterly terrified, sitting so still he could have been a piece of furniture.

“He is,” Shoto hissed, scrambling to his feet. “He is here.”

Aizawa tensed, shifting into a broader stance and pulling Todoroki behind him, concentrating on the door. Now that he was paying closer attention, he could hear two pairs of footsteps echoing in the hallway, the sharp clicks of heels and the soft, heavy thuds of boots hitting tile. He glanced over his shoulder at Shoto, wondering if there was any way to get him out of sight and coming up with nothing in the small hospital room. The kid was shaking violently, fists clenched defensively. A few spots of red were bleeding through his bandages. The look of sheer terror on his face shifted to a careful mask of indifference Shota was familiar with, but now that he knew what he was looking for, he could see the fear hidden there plain as day.

How did Endeavor find us here?

Aizawa swiftly grappled for his capture weapon and swung it around his shoulders, adrenaline thrumming through his veins as he squared up to fight. “It’s going to be alright, Todoroki, I will protect you. He won’t lay a finger on you ever again,” Shota assured, vehemently determined to keep that promise. He felt a trembling hand fist in the back of his shirt, and Shoto pressed close to him, hiding behind him like a child.

He is a child.

Aizawa, as a last ditch effort, quickly flicked his phone onto the bed and initiated a group call with all the heroes in his speed dial, hoping it would provide some sort of witnesses or evidence, or simply some backup. The footsteps were close now, the white walls of the hallway outside lit by a familiar shade of undulating orange.

Endeavor appeared in the doorway, his stocky figure too tall and broad for the way this hospital was laid out. He stepped into the room radiating confidence, as he always did, a spark of malevolence plain to see in his striking blue eyes. The walls of Todoroki’s hospital room glowed with the colors of his ever-present flames.

“Hello, Shoto,” he rumbled, “I’ve heard you’ve attempted to take something precious from me. I’m here to get it back.”

Chapter Text

It’d been a long time since Shoto had felt so small. He was so utterly useless, defenseless, cowering behind his homeroom teacher while his father loomed over them both. His quirk was weakly simmering beneath his skin, but it wouldn’t be enough to provide anything remotely helpful should the need arise. Todoroki was so tired, his legs shaking just from the effort of standing, and he was nauseous and lightheaded. He felt as weak as a toddler, and scared like he wasn’t even when he could feel the last dredges of life slipping from his wrists.

“Endeavor, Todoroki hasn’t been cleared to speak with anyone yet. I’m going to politely request that you leave,” Mr. Aizawa stated firmly, his shoulders tense, a strong, unwavering line between Shoto and his father.

Endeavor scoffed, and Shoto flinched away as the crackling of his flames grew a touch louder. “He’s my son. You have no right to keep me from seeing him. Not to mention you have willfully kept the information that my child tried to kill himself from me.”

Shoto’s fingers curled tighter into his teacher’s sweater, and he fought back the frightened hiccup trapped in his throat. He was in so much trouble. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this afraid of what Endeavor’s punishment was going to be. He tried imagining what sort of punishments his father had yet to put him through, his mind flickering to burning hands and scalding water forced down his throat, and a shudder ran through him. This was exactly why he’d tried to escape, to-

Mr. Aizawa’s calm, direct voice cut through his spiraling thoughts. “That information was lawfully kept from you, as evidence of child abuse has come to light. You signed a document to allow Todoroki to live at the dorms that gives me the right to assume guardianship should it be revealed that his home is not a suitable environment. Once again, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Todoroki squeezed his eyes shut tight, inhaling the smell of cheap coffee and hand sanitizer still clinging to Mr. Aizawa’s sweater. He couldn’t tell if the hint of ashes lingering in the room was from when he’d lost control and burned the pad of paper in his hands, or from the small crackling embers framing his father’s shoulders. Either way, it unnerved him. During training with his father, he could smell his own sweat and the biting twang of the iron in his blood. If Endeavor was in a particularly strict mood, Todoroki would have to steel his stomach against the stench of burning flesh and hair. Of course, there was no evidence of the scorching marks pressed into his skin. Can’t have your heir looking like a neglected driveway littered with potholes and crumbling asphalt.

Wait. Evidence of child abuse?

A brand new kind of fear pierced through Shoto, and he sucked in an uneven breath. How? He hadn’t told a soul at UA… no one should know except- Midoriya . He quietly covered his mouth with one hand, muffling the stifled sobs and stuttering, panicked breaths escaping him. He had never expected the green-haired teen to say anything about the sob story he’d all but assaulted him with at the sports festival, but Shoto supposed the news of his suicide attempt must have tippd the scales and forced Midoriya to mention something to their teacher. Gathered tears slipped from the corners of his eyes and curved down his cheeks, pooling against his fingers.

He’s going to kill me.

Todoroki stared down at the handcuffs dangling from the railing of his hospital bed.

That’s… isn’t that what I wanted?

He thought back to all the days he’d spent facedown on the training room floor, too broken to move, thinking he was dying only to wind up healed by some doctor his father had paid off to make him look pretty and keep their mouth shut. He’d spent so much time wishing he was dead, and now, what, he was scared of it? Maybe it was because he knew Endeavor would never go so far as to actually kill his favorite asset. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to die by those flaming, bruising hands. Maybe it was because he wanted to have control over one thing in his life, even if that one thing was his own death.

Maybe… it wasn’t that he wanted to die . Maybe it was just that he wanted to be safe .

Endeavor huffed, snapping Todoroki back to attention. “I have no idea what you’re trying to insinuate here, but I signed no such thing and I have every right to talk to my Shoto,” he retorted, a flash of light brightening the room as his flames surged in annoyance.

“You are violating the rules by standing in this room, Todoroki has not been cleared by a psychiatrist to see any visitors, with the exception of myself and a colleague for the purposes of restraining his quirk. As per the documents that you signed when the dormitories at UA were constructed, I currently have temporary custody of him, and have every right to remove him from your guardianship, as well as file charges for abuse.” He paused for a moment to let that sink in. “Therefore, I ask you, for the third and final time, to leave. If you force me to ask again, I will have you arrested right here, right now. I suggest you spend what little time you have left before I send you to jail for abusing my student wisely,” Mr. Aizawa growled, his scarf gently shifting and beginning to float off his shoulders.

Shoto’s heart pounded violently in his chest, tugging lightly at his teacher’s sweater as he cleared his throat to warn him, to tell him to run, to get out of here before-

“You insolent man, I am the number one hero! How dare you-” Endeavor boomed, stepping forward.

“One more step and I will restrain you.” Mr. Aizawa rotated his wrists. “Rank has nothing to do with this.”

Endeavor was close enough now that Shoto could feel the heat radiating from his flames. “You wouldn’t dare,” he grunted, nonplussed, “Shoto, stop hiding like a coward and come to me.”

His father’s hand reached out to snatch Todoroki’s wrist from where it was pressed against his teacher’s back, but Mr. Aizawa was faster. His arm shot out and his hair spiked towards the ceiling, a small flash of red shining in the corner of his eye. Shoto stuck close, but let go of his sweater, not wanting to be a dead weight that got his teacher injured. He’d never been protected from those hands before, not once. He wasn’t sure how to react. His chest felt warm, and he didn’t understand why. His fear felt far away, distant, like it’d been overridden by something more powerful.

Mr. Aizawa’s metal scarf snapped around Endeavor’s exposed wrists, yanking them behind him with precise ease as another loop of it wound its way around the number one hero’s thick neck, making him reflexively sputter as Mr. Aizawa tugged him backwards. Endeavor’s icy blue eyes were blown wide with shock, and he allowed himself to be dragged for just a moment before he shifted his stance and halted Mr. Aizawa’s movements. Todoroki sucked in a breath, frozen in place. Endeavor kicked at the underground hero’s legs with a curse fresh on his lips, but Mr. Aizawa simply dodged and the attack only ended up offsetting Endeavor’s own balance and giving Mr. Aizawa the upper hand.

Endeavor’s flames roared hot and bright, only to be snuffed out immediately, not a spark left in the wake of Erasure. The entire room went silent for a split second before an enraged shout left Endeavor’s quirkless lips, and he threw his whole body at Mr. Aizawa. The underground hero used gravity and the man’s weight against him, twisting to the side and sending Endeavor to the ground facefirst. Mr. Aizawa pressed a boot-clad food between the larger man’s shoulder blades and gave his scarf a neat tug, securing the restraints and earning a noise of discomfort from Endeavor. He squirmed, testing the restraints against his muscles, and wheezed out a grunt. 

Mr. Aizawa leaned over him, close, a black curtain of hair falling around his face. “Rank means nothing without your quirk. If you dare to come within fifty feet of Todoroki ever again, I’ll snap your neck,” he promised, as calm and calculating as he ever was.

Endeavor’s face contorted with rage, his lips parting to spew vitriol, but a wiry piece of Mr. Aizawa’s scarf wound across his face and pressed them shut before he could utter a single syllable. 

Shoto slumped to his knees, the tension bleeding out of him as he looked down at his father for the first time in his entire life. The loveless wall of muscle that had pushed him beyond his breaking point over and over and over since he could stand, barking orders and barbed insults about weakness and honor and anything else he could make up to sound like anything less than an abuser, was, in the end, human, just like the rest of them. Todoroki wept openly in relief, not bothering to hide or bury his tears, as a weight he’d never understood the bulk of lifted off his shoulders at last.

Chapter Text

There was a fleeting moment of calm, distorted in part by the loud, uneven sobs coming from Todoroki, where all Shota could feel were streaks of adrenaline in his veins and the way Endeavor’s bones shifted beneath his foot. It was so easy to take Endeavor down, a completely juvenile task anyone worth their hero license could have done if they’d just made the effort. Todoroki could have been saved years of abuse and torment if one, just one, person had paid a little more attention and done something about what was, in the end, plain to see.

To think that they’d all failed this boy so completely it’d taken him trying to kill himself for someone to notice something was wrong. Todoroki could have been saved two new scars and a near-death experience if they’d paid closer attention to the signs. The last twenty-four hours had played out in, arguably, the most favorable way it could have after Todoroki’s suicide attempt, with Kirishima’s lucky catch and Shota pushing Midoriya’s vulnerable state at just the right moment for him to divulge Todoroki’s secrets, not to mention Endeavor incriminating himself by forcibly coming to the hospital and attempting to remove his son from their care.

Still. The weight the world had put on that child’s shoulders. Being a hero meant nothing if Aizawa couldn’t save the children right under his nose from their own family’s sins.

Breathe. Endeavor’s right here, restrained under your foot, and Todoroki will survive this.

The standstill was broken as Hizashi and Kayama burst into the cramped room, and Aizawa whirled to face them. They came flanked with a group of police officers, weapons at the ready and faces held steady by stern concentration.

“Endeavor entered this room against the rules of this hospital and refused to leave when I asked him to, repeatedly. Furthermore, he attempted to forcibly take Todoroki from me after I warned him I would restrain him if he did so. I trust you’ll take care of this?” Aizawa questioned, narrowing his eyes at the group of officers. He’d brought a team of police officers he’d worked with on cases in the past to the hospital when he’d arrived, people he trusted to be on the right side of this confrontation with a famous hero, but he could never be too sure. Not that Endeavor would run and hide even if he was given the chance to.

“Of course, Eraserhead,” the woman in front assured, stepping forward with a set of quirk-restraining handcuffs.

Endeavor squirmed with a muffled yell, and Aizawa lightly yanked on the restraints coiled around the man. “Feel free to make this worse on yourself by resisting arrest,” Shota growled, stepping aside so the officer could cuff the hero.

Nemuri moved closer to stand within arms length of Endeavor, nails pinching the fabric of her sleeve in preparation in case the man tried anything as he was handed over. He was cuffed without much protest, but as soon as Aizawa’s scarf returned to its resting place on his shoulders, Endeavor was spouting off, his words barely discernible behind all the macho, self-entitled buffoonery he so often displayed. Aizawa wondered at what point along the incarceration process he’d finally break and shut up.

His indignant, aggressive whining faded as he was forced from the room, echoing off the hospital walls until it became part of the background noise, along with the monotonous reading of his rights. Nemuri’s promise to stay right next to Endeavor until he was shut in a cell rang as a comforting reminder in Aizawa’s ears as he took a breath. The variety of feelings swirling in Shota’s chest died down enough for him to realize he needed to do something about the kid sobbing relentlessly behind him, but he turned to find Todoroki already cradled in Hizashi’s arms. How Hizashi had gotten around him so effortlessly without him clocking it, Aizawa didn’t know, but he was grateful the kid had a lifeline to cling to. Shota knelt down beside the pair, placing a gentle hand on Todoroki’s shoulder. He was still shaking like a leaf, sobbing, face buried in Hizashi’s chest.

The teen softly mumbled something, so quiet Aizawa couldn’t make it out.

“Hm? What was that, Todoroki?”

The kid weakly pushed himself away from Hizashi’s chest, blinking tiredly and meeting Aizawa’s gaze. “Th-thank you,” he managed, balling his fists and wiping at his tears like a toddler might.

Shota’s heart lurched, and he ran a hand through his tangled hair with a sigh. “You’re welcome, kid,” he replied. What he didn’t say was how someone should have done that sooner. Much sooner.

Todoroki shuddered, his eyelids drifting shut, and he slumped against Hizashi, who secured him in his arms. “I’ve got him, Sho,” he murmured, “go take care of what you need to do.”

Aizawa nodded and stood up, wincing as his knees cracked, and left his student in Hizashi’s capable hands. It was about damn time he find out who exactly contacted Endeavor about Todoroki in the first place. He strode down the hallway towards the main office, going over any potential leaks the hospital could have in personnel in his head. Unfortunately, due to the rush of getting Todoroki to the hospital in time to save him, and having to deal with all of the aftermath, Aizawa hadn’t had a chance to screen the hospital hosting them. The sheer number of employees in a single hospital meant it was highly likely someone on the staff was being paid to give Endeavor information. The real question is why Endeavor would have an informant in this particular hospital to begin with, when this was a one-time emergency situation.

He arrived at the main hub of the hospital without interruption, noting the flashing lights outside as he walked past the large front-facing windows, and managed to slip onto an unlocked computer in a side office room without alerting anyone. That was either a testament to his skills as an underground hero or a testament to how lenient this hospital was, or maybe a combination of the two. He briefly looked over the hospital staff’s profiles, but didn’t find anything particularly incriminating. The reality was that any kind of civilian could take a bribe for all kinds of reasons, they didn’t have to be a villain, so it would be near impossible to pick them out of the sea of employees staring back at him.

On a whim, Shota switched over to the patient records and typed in “Todoroki” on the off chance something about Endeavor would come up that would clue Aizawa in on who could be his informant. What he wasn’t expecting was to see the name “Rei Todoroki” pop up in the search results instead, accompanied by a picture of a white-haired woman staring blankly at the camera. Todoroki’s mother wasn’t listed in his school records, but there was no doubt in Shota’s mind that the woman staring back at him from the computer screen was her. He scanned the first line of script below her name.

Admitted for psychiatric treatment in 20XX.

That would explain why she didn’t show up in Todoroki’s files, but it did tie a connection between Endeavor and the hospital. Aizawa wiped the search history on the computer and doubled back, dodging a sleep-deprived intern shuffling back to the computer Aizawa had been at moments before with a cup of lukewarm coffee wobbling in one hand. Shota recalled, suddenly, the part Todoroki’s mother had played in the backstory Midoriya had revealed to him. It was becoming increasingly clear that Todoroki could no longer stay at the hospital, and that it was likely Endeavor could pay off someone in a different facility if they did move him, even from a holding cell.

Aizawa pulled out his phone and clicked through a few numbers as he walked back to Todoroki’s room. He was sure Nezu would agree to moving Todoroki to the dorms, provided they could find a psychologist and a doctor that would be willing to work with them to help Todoroki. They’d also have to contact their lawyers, warn U.A.’s media managers, and get in touch with the rest of Todoroki’s family. Not to mention dealing with the students and Todoroki’s rehabilitation and hero studies setbacks. Shota took a deep breath and gazed into the small window that separated him from Todoroki.

Hizashi had gotten him back onto his bed and wrapped sheets and blankets around him until all you could see was the top half of his dual-colored head of hair. Hizashi sat beside him, rubbing his shoulder and talking about something Shota couldn’t hear. Todoroki looked worn out, but the barest hint of a smile was pulling at his cheeks, and Shota felt the protective flame in his chest surge with renewed purpose. He would save that kid if it was the last thing he’d do.

Chapter Text

Shoto was all too familiar with his body’s way of coping with extreme shocks and emotions, the habit it had formed of pumping him full of just enough adrenaline to keep him alive and then completely shutting him off from the outside world once he was out of the direct path of harm, but he’d never experienced it quite like this. Usually, the cloudy, disorienting feeling was a shield against further hurt, a defense mechanism against the overwhelming feelings he didn’t have the bandwidth to process in the moment. Now, standing just inside the front gates of the dormitories with freshly wrapped bandages and a trusted adult on either side, it felt more like a safe haven, a floaty, weightless feeling that kept his eyes open and his body upright without him having to put the thought into doing so.

He’d be lying if he said he understood all the logistical loopholes that had landed him back where it had all began, but the mere sight of the strong walls of U.A. fed the growing steadiness in his life he hadn’t realized he craved until it was forced on him. He was certain he’d still be kept under strict watch for a long time to come, but he no longer felt resentful of the idea. Maybe, just maybe, he could make it in this life. He had no unrealistic expectations, no fantastical thoughts of living a smooth, easy life… not even the expectation that Endeavor would be indefinitely kept away from him, but just the simple spark of hope Mr. Aizawa had fostered within him when he’d stepped in front of Endeavor’s fist sent Shoto’s cataclysmic world view spinning on its head.

“Shoto, are you alright?”

Todoroki whipped his head around, wincing slightly at the dizziness that followed, and stared up at Mr. Aizawa with wide eyes. Was he supposed to be doing something? He blinked.

“I’m alright, Sensei,” he replied quietly, curling the sleeves of the oversized sweater he’d been given over his fists.

Mic leaned towards him slightly from his other side, his voice soft and understanding, “are you sure you don’t want to go in through the side entrance and hold off on seeing everyone for a little while?”

Shoto sucked in an uneven breath, hovering on the edge of indecision. He knew seeing all of his classmates would be a lot, but from what Mr. Aizawa had told him, they were all worried about him, and the longer he put it off, the less inviting the task would be.

“I’m sure,” he whispered, his heart murmuring nervously in his chest. He lurched forward a step and then stopped. “B-but only for a couple minutes.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, shoulders tensing as he thought back on Mr. Aizawa firmly reminding him to ask for what he needed from now on, regardless of how weak it made him feel, on the ride over. It was a foreign concept for Todoroki, to give his feelings care rather than ice them up and lock them down.

“Of course, we’ll leave as soon as you need to.”

Shoto let out a shaky breath, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet, and opened his eyes. “Okay.”

Mr. Aizawa stepped ahead of him, and Shoto instinctively followed. He couldn’t help but notice every tiny bit of free will he had been granted simply by being around people who weren’t Endeavor, weren’t his family. The simple act of walking behind an adult who wasn’t yanking him along and leaving him no choice in the matter felt strangely empowering. Not that being dragged along was the only thing he knew, but it was different somehow, with the mental image in his head of Endeavor on the ground, the tyrant of his life powerless in front of him.

The comfort he felt when he thought of Endeavor like that made his stomach twist. It wasn’t very heroic, feeling good about someone else struggling, and it left a twinge of guilt he wasn’t ready to acknowledge yet. He wondered, for the upteenth time in his life, if he was really cut out to be a hero.

“Todoroki!”

A surprised call of his name broke Shoto out of his internal musings, and he stopped, stock still, right inside the entrance of the dormitories.

Chapter Text

Shoto stared straight ahead, unintentionally locking eyes with Uraraka’s startled brown ones. She must have been the one to call to him, but her hand was clamped over her mouth now, the other tightly clutched to her chest to keep from trembling. He traced the faint redness around her eyes and the splotchy, uneven pinkness to her cheeks and he was abruptly struck with a sharp pang of guilt. He dropped his gaze to the ground, shoving his hands in his pockets with a twinge of pain and turning his bandaged wrists so they were facing his body and out of sight.

The silence in the room was laced with anxiety, the only sound the soft shuffling of someone’s clothes as they shifted uncomfortably. Shoto’s breath hitched in his chest. He knew they cared for him, on some level, being hero course students who’s lives revolved around keeping people safe, but he had no idea how they would have reacted to the news of his… attempt, and he’d never been good at relating to other people, so he stood still and quiet, waiting to be reprimanded or simply ignored.

“Todoroki,” a soft female voice breathed, “I’m so glad to see that you’re alright.”

Shoto hesitantly raised his head and glanced at the speaker, Yaoyorozu. She was standing close, a gentle, understanding smile on her face and a handkerchief pinched between her fingers. An affirming hum of agreement swept through the room, and it broke the tentative quiet.

Kaminari, tailed by Sero and Ashido, leapt up from the couch and beamed at him, his smile wobbling with emotion but genuine and kind, and came to stand in front of Shoto. “Hey man, welcome back,” he chirped softly, reaching out slowly and resting his hand on Shoto’s shoulder for a moment.

Todoroki nodded solemnly, swaying lightly on his feet as Kaminari removed his hand, and watched in surprised awe as one by one, his classmates stood and came to form a half-circle around him, expressing, in some way or another, that they were happy to see him. The warm feeling kindling in his chest grew to a full blaze, and tears pricked at his eyes before he quickly blinked them away. He would never have expected such a warm welcome, considering he barely spoke to his peers outside of the necessary call outs in training and occasional observations.

It took a moment for Shoto to notice, but Midoriya hadn’t come up with the rest of them, instead sitting off to the side with his hands twisting in his lap and his head bowed. Todoroki wondered if he was mad at him, and it quelled the growing happiness inside of him. The wounds on his wrists suddenly itched. Tokoyami pulled Todoroki from his stupor by informing him that he was very glad Shoto hadn’t “given into the darkness,” which earned a chuckle from a couple of the people gathered around him and brought a small, tentative smile to Shoto’s face.

The change of pace led Mineta to point out a very plump looking melon sitting on the kitchen counter for Shoto, which led to Sato pulling out a wide variety of “get well soon” treats he’d stress-baked in the past couple of hours since the class had gotten back to the dorms and sheepishly admitting that he wasn’t sure what kind of sweets Todoroki liked, if he even liked sweets in the first place. Todoroki stuttered slightly as he tried to respond, floored by the kindness being shown to him. Aoyama jumped in before he could say something coherent, showing Shoto the bandage clips he’d made him himself, one a sparkling snowflake and the other a small red-orange flame, and informed him that there were plenty more gifts for him to look through sitting outside his room.

The mention of Shoto’s dorm room cut through the careful cheer the class had been presenting him with, and only a few of his peers thought to fight the sadness that crept into their eyes at the thought of it. An uncomfortable silence settled over the group, and Shoto’s eyes once again found the floor. Shame crept up the back of his neck, and he wrung his hands in front of him, ignoring the bolts of pain that shot up his forearms as he did so, trying to come up with something to say to ease the pain he’d caused, some way to apologize for something so personal, for feelings so hard to verbalize.

He heard the rumble of a repressed sob to his right, and glanced at Kirishima to find him hiding his eyes behind his hands. To his left, Asui was sniffling, tears tracking down her cheeks, Uraraka’s hand on her back to steady her. They weren’t alone, but Shoto couldn’t bring himself to see who else was crying because of him. He didn’t know what to do, how to console them. He didn’t even know how to console himself.

“Okay, listen up.”

Todoroki inhaled sharply. Bakugo. The vulnerable sadness in the room quickly shifted to apprehension.

“Bakugo, c’mon man, don’t say something mean-”

“Shut it and lemme talk,” he grunted, the ever-present heat in his voice no more than a glowing ember.

Shoto looked up as Bakugo pushed his way to the front of the disgruntled group of their peers, hands shoved in his pockets and shoulders hunched, his ears tinged red with embarrassment. Two more protests rang out as the blond stood in front of Todoroki, squaring his shoulders and meeting his eyes, but Mr. Aizawa held up his hand and they quieted. Shoto stared back at his explosive classmate, watching as Bakugo’s gaze analyzed him, a tiny furrow to his brow that showed up when he was thinking hard on something. Seeing him take the time to think over what he was about to say was an unusual occurrence, and Shoto grew more curious with each passing second.

“Look Half n’ Half, I have no clue why you would do something as idiotic as trying to off yourself-”

“Bakugo,” Iida snapped.

“-and I don’t need to, but I sure as hell don’t want to see you go down like that. Don’t throw away your life like it’s nothing. It pisses me off to see wasted potential. I expect to see you on the leaderboards so I can kick your ass into second place, you got it?”

Against all odds, and despite the utter confusion at hearing Bakugo go out of his way to say something like that to him, Shoto laughed. It was minute, barely a breath, but it was there. An eruption of protests came from their surrounding peers, but Shoto understood the strange flicker in Bakugo’s eyes that told him there was more to what he’d said than just what his words had expressed. Todoroki was probably also the only one to notice the freckled face Bakugo’s eyes landed on as he turned away and stomped towards the elevator, his ability to tolerate the class having completely fizzled out.

Mr. Aizawa came up to Todoroki’s side and gently placed his hand on Shoto’s shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. “Thank you all for being here to welcome Todoroki back to the dorms. We’re going to head upstairs and get him situated now. You may all go about your day.”

A couple of his classmates looked like they wanted to protest Todoroki leaving, but they were wise enough to not go against Aizawa’s explicit instruction. Some of the tension in Shoto’s chest loosened slightly as the group began to disperse and the attention shifted off of him. Mr. Aizawa started towards the elevator and Shoto moved to follow his teacher.

“Wait!”

Todoroki paused as he felt a couple of fingers lightly brushing his elbow, and he turned to face Kirishima. The redhead quickly retracted his hand and brought it to the back of his neck, rubbing it gently as his gaze nervously flickered off to the side.

“I-I’m sorry, I just…” he trailed off, sheepishly looking up to meet Shoto’s eyes. “Can, can I give you a hug?”

Todoroki sucked in a surprised breath and let the silence between them prevail for a moment before he gave a small affirming nod. Kirishima smiled widely, tears gathering in his lashes, and slowly stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Shoto and burying his face in his neck. Shoto tentatively brought his bandaged hands up and awkwardly returned the hug, closing his eyes and letting Kirishima’s warmth comfort him. Kirishima’s back hitched quietly with gentle, relieved sobs, and Todoroki gave him a light squeeze, hoping it would act as some small fraction of an apology.

After a long moment, Kirishima pulled back and brought strong hands up to hold Shoto’s jaw. “I’m so relieved you’re alive,” he murmured, cheeks wet and eyes shining with unshed tears, “I can’t imagine what I would have done if you hadn’t survived, Todoroki. Please never do anything like that ag-ain.”

Shoto stared back into those earnest red eyes, his heart seizing painfully in his chest. He’d honestly never considered the thought that anyone cared about him this much. “Thank you, Kirishima,” he replied lamely.

Kirishima squished his cheeks slightly and then let go of him only to lean forward and pull Shoto in another warm hug. “I’m always here for you, if you ever need anything . Please come to me if you’re feeling down, okay? We don’t even have to talk about it if you don’t want to, we can just sit and watch movies and eat snacks, or something like that. Just, I don’t want you to feel alone anymore, okay?”

“Okay,” Shoto whispered, leaning into the redhead’s warmth.

Kirishima released him, and Shoto found himself instinctively following the movement before he swayed back and flushed with embarrassment, shoving his hands in his pockets a little too forcefully. Kirishima just smiled and waved once, turning to go meet up with the rest of the class in the kitchen before Mr. Aizawa could get mad at him for stopping them. Todoroki sniffled and rubbed his face on his shoulder, trudging forward after a smirking Aizawa.

Since he wasn’t off of suicide watch yet, still pending a diagnosis from a psychologist, Aizawa took him to a room the school had set aside for medical purposes instead of his own dorm room. The room had a touch more character to it than a hospital room would have, and even that slight distinction meant something significant for Todoroki. Aizawa explained to him that he wouldn’t be able to leave Todoroki completely alone, since the only thing that had changed between them being at the hospital and coming to the dorms was the environment. The school had hired a psychologist that specialized in abuse in the families of public figures and heroes, but they wouldn’t arrive for another day. Until then, Shoto was on strict watch. For all he knew, he might be on watch after he talked to the therapist.

Mic had carried Shoto’s things in from the hospital, bandages and vitamins, as well as meds to take to counteract the effects of what Endeavor had injected him with, and he set them on the twin bed for Todoroki to unpack himself. He then left to, with Shoto’s permission, grab some of Todoroki’s things from his dorm room that he might need for the next couple of days. Aizawa pulled a laptop out of his own bag and began fussing with the unusually-angled outlets on the other side of the room as Shoto reached into the bag from the hospital. He began unpacking everything as his thoughts wandered, his movements on autopilot. Something inside of him felt loose, unsteady, and he wasn’t sure what to do about it other than try to convince himself he was safe here, on solid ground. He pushed away the terrifying thought of what the psychologist would find out about him, knowing everything on the inside was so much worse than what two cuts on his wrists showed everyone else.

He was startled from his spiraling as his finger slipped on the corner of something and a sharp prick of pain followed. He brought the digit to his mouth to suck on it as his other hand came up to dig for what had given him a papercut. He carefully pulled out a pale blue envelope, completely blank but obviously holding some sort of card. Todoroki’s heart thrummed against his ribs, regardless of the logical side of his brain telling him it was probably just slipped in there by a well-wishing classmate, and he quietly ripped the envelope open.

His unfolded a crisp piece of white printer paper, noting his own name at the top and scanning down the page of sharp handwriting only to come to an abrupt stop on the signature at the bottom.

Todoroki Toya.

Chapter Text

Shoto let out a small gasp at the revelation and his fingers clenched, crinkling the edges of the letter. Aizawa was beside him in an instant, leaning over his shoulder to see what had caused Todoroki’s alarm. He made a soft, confused sound, and the end of his capture weapon brushed against Shoto’s neck as he reached for the letter wordlessly. Todoroki startled and turned to face his teacher, clutching the paper to his chest as he took a step back. He wouldn’t let the words of his long-lost brother be snatched away from him even if it meant getting in trouble.

Aizawa slowly raised his hands in front of himself, palms up. “I’m sorry Todoroki, I wasn’t going to take it from you. I was just surprised.”

Shoto nodded, swallowing roughly. “None of us have heard from Toya for years. From… from t-the screaming, I thought he’d- he’d died…”

“The screaming?”

“E-Endeavor, he, he was training Toya to be his successor before my quirk came in, but Toya’s body was weak, and his quirk hurt him if he used it too much. Once I developed my quirk, my father switched his attention to me. He kept training Toya as a ‘safety net’, but since he had a child with a ‘more useful’ quirk, he grew more and more careless with Toya’s training. I-I remember, the last night I caught a glimpse of my brother, hearing him screaming like he was dying.” Shoto shuddered, recalling the flashes of blue flame that burst like projector beams on the walls of their family house before they’d abruptly stopped and the darkness swarmed back in. “I thought he’d died…” he trailed off, pulling the page clutched in his hands away from his chest to stare down at the signature again.

“That’s from him, then? Your brother?”

Shoto nodded.

“Will you let me read it with you? I can’t be certain that it’s safe,” Aizawa murmured, taking a step towards him.

Todoroki’s hackles raised instinctively, but he looked up at the man before him and all he saw was the concerned set of his brow, the hand reaching out to him, and thought back to how those hands had protected him from the man who had hurt him and Toya, hurt their family. Maybe, if Toya really was out there, Aizawa could help him too. Todoroki nodded silently, shifting so Aizawa could read with him over his shoulder. His teacher’s presence behind him was a small comfort in the frozen wasteland receiving the letter in his hands had sent him stumbling into.

Shoto,

I’ve scrapped and rewritten this letter multiple times now. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to comfort anyone, and even longer since I’ve tried to comfort you. I heard about what you tried to do last night, little brother. I guess I just wanted to tell you that I’m glad you didn’t succeed, but that I understand why you did what you did. I’ve been down that road myself more times than I can count. If you don’t already know, Endeavor has informants in this hospital. You should leave before he finds out you’re here.

If there is any piece of advice I could give you in lieu of the circumstances that led me to write this letter, it would be this: tell someone what’s going on at home, even if you’re terrified. I know it seems like you don’t have any options, but you are in a school surrounded by pro heroes, and one of them is bound to help you. I don’t care how many you have to tell. Scream it from the rooftops, tell anyone and everyone that is willing to listen. Eventually you will run across someone who will do something to get you out of that forsaken house. I spent my childhood keeping Endeavor’s secrets, and it cost me my life, my family, my body. The way he treats you isn’t normal Shoto, it’s abuse, and you don’t deserve to be treated that way.

Don’t get any ideas about trying to find me. This letter is the last communication we will have. I don’t need saving. There’s nothing left of me to salvage. Just do me one favor, don’t let Endeavor win. Be a hero. Fight for this world so children like you and me have a chance.

Stay strong little brother,

Todoroki Toya

Shoto let all of the air he’d been holding stagnant in his chest out with a loud sob, dropping Toya’s letter to the bed in front of him and pushing his face into his hands as his body shook with the force of his cries. He’d been blaming himself for his brother’s abrupt death his whole life, but Toya had been alive all this time, out there somewhere alone and hurt and Shoto hadn’t even thought to look for him. His back heaved and he fell to his knees, curling in on himself as his spine bowed and his forehead slid to the floor. His hands shakily clutched at his shirt, the room quiet save for his loud, pained cries for his brother. It was like an explosion had gone off in his chest, all the bottled up and leaking emotions that had been building up his whole life bursting as the revelation hit him.

He felt strong arms jostle him, pulling him away from the floor and into someone’s side, one hand around his shoulder and pressed into his hair and the other carefully cradling his wrists so he didn’t reopen the wounds there. Shoto let go of his reservations, leaning into the embrace and burying his face in his teacher’s shirt, his jaw aching and his throat burning.

“I-I thought, I thought he’d died- I thought he’d died because of me,” Shoto wailed, “I thought it was all my fault that my brother was dead!”

Aizawa rocked him, softly humming, and Shoto could feel the reverberations in his chest, could hear the man’s strong heartbeat against his ear.

“I thought he was dead, but no, no… he’s been out there, suffering, all this time, alone, and I didn’t even think to look for him!”

“He was not your responsibility, Shoto.”

Simmering anger, at himself, at Endeavor, at the world, flared in Todoroki’s chest, and he shoved himself out of his teacher’s grasp so he could look at him. “He was my family!” Shoto heaved in a breath. “He is my family.”

“I know,” Aizawa murmured, “he’s your family.”

Shoto slammed his palms into the ground, his nails scraping on the floor as he curled his fingers into fists. His chest felt like it was being cracked open, like hands were reaching inside of him to prod at his heart until they deemed it rotten enough to tear out and replace with a new one.

“Why,” he spat, “why, why, why? I can’t take this! I can’t take this anymore!”

He leaned back, his hands shooting up to bury themselves in his hair and pull. Tears cascaded endlessly down his cheeks, flying off his jaw and splattering against the floor beneath him. His jaw sat wrenched open by his own sobs. He choked and sputtered in pain, the pressure in his head so great he felt like his skull would crack and burst.

Gentle hands wrapped around his forearms and tugged his hands away from his hair. His fingers twitched, eventually flipping to curl around the wrists of the arms holding him. Aizawa’s heartbeat pulsed against his fingertips, and Shoto forced himself to focus on the feeling.

“Breathe, Shoto,” Aizawa murmured, “c’mon, that’s it, take a deep breath, I’ve got you. You’re safe.”

Todoroki tilted his head to the ceiling, shifting the trajectory of his tears to curl down his cheeks and into his ears. The bright lights in the room hurt his eyes, but he couldn’t tear his gaze away. His breath shuddered and hitched, and he tried to gulp down the hiccups making his chest twinge and ache. His mouth gaped open for a moment before he closed his teeth with a click and took a breath through his nose.

“How could he,” Shoto whispered. Took a breath, shivered. “HOW COULD HE?”

Aizawa drew him close, and Todoroki thumped the sides of his fists into his teacher’s chest. Aizawa held firm, beckoned him to do it again. Shoto heaved an inhale, narrowed his eyes. Raised his fists and struck his teacher’s chest again.

“He hurt him.” Thump.

“He hurt mom.” Thump.

“He hurt Fuyumi.” Thump.

“He hurt Natsuo.” Thump.

“He… he hurt me,” Shoto whispered. Thump. Todoroki stared down at his fists through blurry eyes, slowly uncurling his fingers and laying them flat against Aizawa’s chest.

He flicked his eyes up to meet Aizawa’s eyes. “Why,” he whispered, his voice cracking.

Aizawa’s expression crumpled, and he pulled Todoroki to him, cradling the back of his head. “I don’t know, kid. I don’t know.”

Shoto shook in his arms, tears leaking from his eyes until he was too tired to sob anymore. Time ticked on around them as silence blanketed the two.

“You know better than anyone that this world isn’t fair,” Aizawa murmured. “That’s why you will make an incredible hero, if that’s the path you choose. Compassion and empathy are just as important for being a hero as a strong quirk is.”

Shoto nodded numbly, absorbing Aizawa’s words into his bleeding heart as the door cracked open.

“Aizawa?” Mic poked his head in, scanning the room at eye level before his gaze dropped to the two of them curled up on the ground. “Oh, hey, are you alright listener?”

Shoto nodded again, untangling himself from Aizawa and standing up, his eyes once again drifting to his brother’s signature as his teachers talked quietly behind him. Mic set down a backpack and a duffel bag presumably full of Todoroki’s things on one of the chairs pushed to the side of the room as Aizawa informed the blond of the letter Shoto had received, and probably about the subsequent meltdown as well.

Todoroki sat down on the mattress with a small sigh. He surely hadn’t done himself any favors in the eyes of his teachers by throwing such a fit. Who knew if they’d ever consider him mentally stable enough to return to school at this rate. His fingers drifted across the letter, pulling it into his lap once again. Toya said not to try and find him, but how could Shoto turn a blind eye? How could he leave his brother out there for even one more day without doing something to try and help him?

Aizawa circled around the bed and took a seat in the chair pulled up beside it. “Hey,” he prompted quietly, “if you want us to look for him, all you have to do is ask.”

“What if I just make things worse?”

Aizawa hummed. “You don’t have to make the decision right now, but please don’t get it into your head to go running off on your own to try and save him. Talk to me, okay?”

Shoto nodded. It’s not like he could slip away from them anyway, and he wouldn’t even know where to start. He hiccupped quietly. His chest ached, and his head hurt. Aizawa led Shoto to the bathroom and stood beside him as Shoto rinsed his face with tap water and brushed his teeth. When he was done, Aizawa walked him back to his bed and Shoto laid down, a deep-seeded exhaustion pulling his eyelids closed. He distantly felt a blanket being folded over him, and he nestled further into the mattress, burying his face into his pillow and falling asleep to the sound of his teachers unpacking his things into the temporary room they’d assigned him.

Chapter Text

Shoto blinked away what felt like the thousandth tear he’d shed in the last two days, using one finger to nudge open the door to his brother’s abandoned room. He padded into the pitch-dark opening and fell back against the door, pushing it closed behind him. With shaking hands, he reached up and slowly flicked the light switch, blinking repeatedly as the brightness shocked his tender, swollen eyes. Once his vision readjusted, he found himself trembling on the threshold of his dead brother’s room, staring straight ahead at the cobalt curtains pulled closed over the one window in the room.

They hadn’t been close, but of all his siblings, Shoto saw the most of Toya, mostly thanks to their shared training but also when Shoto’s wounds needed addressing and his mother was too busy distracting his father to treat him. Toya would tug him aside into his room and rush through applying salve and bandages, wrapping them too loosely, sloppily, and then pushing Shoto back out into the hall without a word shared between them before their father found out what they were doing.

Shoto took a meek step forward, his legs trembling, and stumbled until he found himself sitting at the head of Toya’s bed. His eyes roamed the room and he caught snapshots of his brother’s life when he could manage to blink the tears away for a moment. They finally landed on the ratty corner of a piece of paper taped to the side of Toya’s bedside table, almost entirely hidden by the pillow shoved in front of it. Todoroki hesitantly reached out and moved the pillow a couple inches to the right, lowering himself down so he was laying where Toya’s head would be if he were there.

Shoto stared blankly at what turned out to be a photograph taped to the wood. It depicted a colorful kindergarten classroom and it was focused on their mother. Toya was cuddled up to her side, shoving a hand-made card into her free hand. The other cradled the bottom of the baby sling wrapped around her shoulders. Shoto reached out, touching the faded photograph gingerly. He belatedly realized the bed smelled like his brother. His brother-

The screaming-

It still smelled like burning flesh in the training room-

Shoto jolted awake to a firm shake of his shoulder, panting so loudly he couldn’t hear anything but his own breathing. He could vaguely make out the black hair belonging to his homeroom teacher and he fought to get control over his internal panic. He forced his breaths to steady, plopping back down on the pillows and staring up at the ceiling until he was calm enough to talk. He furiously wiped away the drying tears on his cheeks, adamantly ignoring the aching void in the center of his chest.

“Sorry,” he croaked, wincing at the sound of his own voice.

He heard the creak of someone settling into a chair followed by a long exhale. “No need to apologize.”

Todoroki slowly worked his way to sitting, placing his hands face up in his lap.

“Do you want to talk about the nightmare you were having?”

Shoto frowned. He didn’t, really, but he also didn’t want to be institutionalized, and opening up about his feelings might convince his teacher he didn’t need to be. “It was a memory.”

Aizawa gave him room to speak, humming an affirmation for Shoto to continue.

“A few nights after I thought Toya had died, I went to his room. I… missed him. No one in my family would talk about it. No one would tell me what really happened. It was like he’d just disappeared, but his room was still there. His things….” Shoto swallowed thickly. “I found a photograph he had hidden, taped onto the nightstand facing the bed, and I just- there was this- hole inside of me. Where he used to be.”

He watched dark spots bloom on the blanket draped over his legs as his tears fell to it. Shoto brought up a hand, pressing it to his chest, where he could feel the old pain of loss, and right beside it, the new pain of unwittingly abandoning someone who he cared for.

“It wasn’t your fault, Shoto,” Aizawa assured him quietly, “you did the best you could in an awful situation. Your brother’s wellbeing was not your responsibility.”

Shoto scrubbed at his eyes. “If not mine, then whose? We looked out for each other. He understood me like the others didn’t.”

“A child’s parents are responsible for their children’s wellbeing. In a healthy situation, you wouldn’t have had to be responsible for each other. It is incredibly kind of you both to look out for each other like that.”

“Am I broken, Aizawa-Sensei? Am I so rotten that even my own family doesn’t love me? That my father uses me as a weapon, a tool? That my mother pours boiling water on my face because I’m so hideous she can’t stand to look at me? That my siblings refuse to speak to me? Was I born this way? Was I born a monster? Or did I do something wrong to make it so no one can love me?” Shoto sobbed, his voice cracking.

“Kid,” Aizawa replied, his voice strong and strict. Shoto’s head snapped up to look at him with wide eyes. Aizawa slowly put his hands on Shoto’s shoulders. “You are not broken. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’re strong, and kind. You were born into a difficult situation, and you have survived so much, too much. You’re a survivor, not a monster.”

Shoto dropped his eyes to his knees. “I don’t know…” he mumbled, tightening his fists around the blanket.

“I’m not great with words,” Aizawa admitted, “but I do mean every word I say.”

Shoto’s lips twitched into a small smile. “It’s not just a ‘logical ruse’?” He teased, meeting his teacher’s eyes uncertainly. He was trying for an undertone of humor, but it just came off desperate. He had to force himself not to cringe.

Aizawa’s expression remained calm and serious. “No,” he said simply.

Todoroki huffed, hiding his face in his hands.

“C’mon kid, why don’t you wash your face and brush your teeth? You’ll feel better.”

Shoto complied, standing up and grabbing some clothes out of the duffel bag Present Mic had brought to change into and heading into the adjoined bathroom. He had to leave the door cracked open slightly for “safety reasons” but he managed to go through his morning routine as he usually did without any problems. He caught a short glimpse of himself in the mirror and grimaced. He was a mess, truly. White bandages around his wrists, tangled red and white hair, a physical representation of his emotional baggage sitting just below his mismatched eyes. He sighed. There was no point in dwelling on it.

Turning away, he re-entered his temporary room and sat down on the bed, folding a leg under himself. Aizawa sat down one Shoto was safely in his sights again and began texting someone. Todoroki took to fiddling with the white sheets on his bed. There was an insistent knock at the door a few stifling minutes later, and Aizawa opened it to reveal Present Mic on the other side of a cart piled high with breakfast foods.

He pushed it into the room with a grin plastered on his face, declaring that the two temporary residents of the room needed to “get their strength and morale up” by eating something. Shoto found his stomach grumbling forcefully at the smell of the food, and gladly served himself a hearty portion from the cart, thanking Mic profusely before digging in. The two pro heroes gently bickered as they all ate, and Todoroki couldn’t help the growing warm feeling in his chest from watching the two men be so domestic. The feeling reminded him of when they had movie nights in the dorms, cuddled together without a care in the world. Safe and happy.

Shoto felt a lot better after he’d polished off his food. He set his dishes back on the cart with a small bow, and Present Mic promptly wheeled it out of the room, whistling as he made his way to the dorm kitchens.

“Todoroki?”

“Hmm?”

Aizawa looked up from his phone. “Are you up for a visitor?”

Shoto shifted nervously. “Who?”

“Midoriya.”

A flurry of conflicted feelings burst in Shoto’s chest and he frowned. Midoriya had effectively ignored him when they’d arrived last night, but now he was asking to see him? Todoroki gnawed on his lower lip, utterly lost about how to best deal with the situation.

“I guess…” he mumbled dejectedly.

“If you’d rather wait, I can keep him from coming in here.”

Shoto scratched the back of his head and made a snap decision. “No… I’d like to hear what he has to say.”

“Alright, I’ll let him know.”

Shoto shuffled around in bed for a moment, picking at the threads fraying at the bottom of his t-shirt from all his fidgeting. “Do you think he’s mad at me?”

Aizawa hit a button on his phone and glanced up at Todoroki. “I don’t think so. My guess is he feels guilty.”

“Guilty?”

Shoto was startled out of his line of questioning by a series of quiet, rapid-fire knocks at the door followed by a soft, “ow.”

“Figures,” Aizawa muttered, getting up to answer the knock.

Shoto’s stomach flipped over itself. Guilty? What for?

Aizawa opened the door to reveal Midoriya standing outside, practically radiating nervous energy and shifting from one foot to the other. Aizawa stepped aside so the teenager could walk past him, looking on with dark, knowing eyes. Midoriya took a deep breath, clenched his fists, and determinedly strode into the room only to lose his steam a couple feet from Shoto’s bedside. His steps faltered as their eyes met.

“H-hi,” Midoriya stuttered.

Todoroki nodded. The conflicted feelings knotted up in his chest tightened. A long silence stretched between them. Midoriya fidgeted, mumbling a string of incoherent sentences under his breath.

“Midoriya.” Aizawa prompted, snapping the boy from his trance.

“O-Oh! Sorry Sensei,” Midoriya squeaked, scratching at the back of his head and staring down at the floor. His shoulders hunched inwards and he began to tremble.

“Midoriya?” Todoroki asked quietly, chewing on the inside of his cheek.

The teen’s head whipped up in a panic and his bright green eyes unwittingly met Todoroki’s. They were overflowing with tears, and once they’d locked gazes, the smaller teen couldn’t seem to look away. Todoroki startled, subtly shifting so the blanket in his lap was covering his bandaged wrists. He couldn’t imagine what Midoriya wanted to say to him, what he would feel guilty for, but the sight of his friend crying so profusely stirred up painful feelings in Shoto.

“I’m so sorry Todoroki,” Midoriya cried suddenly, hiccupping on a sob. He dropped into a low bow. “I’m so sorry…”

Todoroki’s eyes widened. “… what? What for?”

Midoriya straightened only to openly stare at Shoto, stark confusion written on his freckled features. “What do you mean ‘what for’?”

Shoto’s eyebrows furrowed and it seemed Midoriya got the hint that he had no idea what he was talking about. The smaller teen shook like a leaf, wrapping his arms around himself.

“What am I sorry for?” Midoriya repeated, exasperated. He took a grounding breath. “I’m sorry for not doing anything to get you out of that house, out of Endeavor’s grasp; for not intervening where I should have. Where a hero would have.”

“Midoriya-” Todoroki started, about to tell him that it wasn’t his responsibility to do that, but he wasn’t having it.

“No!” Midoriya pleaded, “let me finish.”

Todoroki nodded silently.

“I’m sorry I didn’t pay more attention to you, didn’t notice the signs of your depression, of the intention to hurt yourself. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you enough hope. I’m so sorry… for letting you get buried so deep under the abuse and sadness that you tried to k-kill yourself,” he broke off with a sob. Inhaled. “I’m sorry for breaking your trust by telling Mr. Aizawa what you told me. I’m sorry I didn’t try harder to find out what was wrong when you-“ he gestured to Shoto’s wrists. “You called me, and I bought your excuse and it could have cost you your l-life.”

“But it didn’t.”

Midoriya held up a hand, telling him to wait. “I’m sorry that I ignored your cry for help, Todoroki. I’m just- I’m so sorry. I’ve been so useless, so utterly useless,” he sobbed openly, wiping his tears on his sleeve. “I’m so sorry Todoroki. For all of that and so much more. I don’t have enough words to express how sorry I am. For how guilty I feel.”

He paused, looked up at the ceiling. Tears ran freely down his cheeks and his chest shuddered as he tried to breathe evenly. “If you had died I don’t know how I could have lived with myself. I missed everything… and you hurt yourself and I was completely clueless. I feel so worthless…”

Shoto felt a deep pang of guilt in his chest. For someone so bright and kind to feel worthless because of him, it felt awful. Disgusting. “I don’t…” he tried. His voice cracked and died.

“It’s all my fault,” Midoriya whispered. “If I’d been a better friend, if I’d paid more attention, then all this wouldn’t have happened and you’d-“

Shoto blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “If this hadn’t happened, I would be bleeding on the floor of my father’s training room right now.”

Midoriya hiccupped in shock, choked on his spit, and started coughing. After the fit ran its course, Midoriya began again, “But-“

“I forgive you,” Shoto cut him off quietly, doing his best to put a reassuring smile on his face.

Midoriya completely broke down at that, wailing openly. Shoto fidgeted uncomfortably, inching forwards to comfort his friend but unsure of what would help. After what seemed like two endless minutes, the teen calmed down enough to sniffle quietly to himself and stare at Shoto with a funny look.

“Can I hug you?”

Shoto was beginning to see a trend. He nodded silently, keeping still as Midoriya smiled a wobbly smile and gingerly came forward, wrapping his arms around Todoroki’s shoulders. Shoto’s face ended up smooshed against Midoriya’s chest because of how tight he was squeezing, and Todoroki’s arms hung uselessly at his sides for a moment before he remembered to wrap them around Midoriya’s middle.

“I was so worried about you,” Midoriya murmured. “I was so worried I’d lost you.”

Todoroki’s hand balled in his classmate’s shirt and the shorter teen pulled him even closer, if that was possible.

“Don’t you ever do anything like that again,” Midoriya demanded. “Promise me.”

Shoto chuckled once. “I don’t know if I can make that promise.”

Midoriya pulled away just enough to look Shoto in the eye. “You promise me you won’t ever try to hurt yourself again, and I’ll promise you the same.”

Todoroki’s thoughts screeched to a grinding halt.

Does that mean what I think it means?

Tears gathered in his eyes as he connected the dots, and he stared up at Midoriya’s conflicted, twisted face. He heard Aizawa shift to his left.

Midoriya laughed nervously. “I’m sorry, that’s a lot to ask right now. You don’t have to promise me anything. I have already made that promise to myself, I won’t put that on you. I guess I was just trying to find a way to tell you that I understand, but that came out all wrong, and I’m so desperate for you to be okay that I went and said that without thinking and I-“

“It’s okay,” Shoto replied.

Midoriya quieted down and heaved a long sigh, his frame drooping slightly onto Shoto. “I’m no good at this. Point of it all is that I care about you a lot and I’m very grateful you’re alive.”

“Thank you, Midoriya.”

Midoriya nodded, gave him one more light squeeze, and let go of him. Shoto, again, instinctively leaned towards the warmth, but he managed to catch himself and reel backwards before Midoriya or his teacher noticed.

“Alright Midoriya, I think we should let Todoroki rest now,” Mr. Aizawa said gently.

Midoriya nodded. “Thank you for letting me see him and smooth things out, Mr. Aizawa. I’m glad we got the chance to talk Todoroki, I’m always here for you if you need anything. Anything!”

Todoroki nodded, smiling a little.

Midoriya promptly left, and Aizawa closed the door behind him with a soft sigh before turning back to Todoroki. “Is there anything I can get you while we wait for the specialist to arrive?”

“A book maybe?”

“Sure thing.”

Aizawa reached into his own bag and pulled out a novel, handing it over to Shoto and settling himself back in the armchair he’d laid claim over. The book was medium length, a fictional story someone had written about quirk users who could join forces to take down villains. Todoroki took to it easily, and he spent the next few hours curled up in his blankets reading, his mind thoroughly put at ease from his visit with Midoriya. The lingering grief over his brother and the anxiety rattling around in his ribcage at the thought of meeting the specialist remained, but they were dulled by the story in his lap. He felt like he could finally breathe again, if only for a moment.