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Toshinori Yagi retires to a small house in a small town far from the city. It’s a nice house—only one story but still with plenty of room for guests. The town is quiet, mostly retired folks who’ve come here to live a quiet life. Not too far from his house is a beautiful view of some mountains and a small lake. It’s peaceful.

Young Midoriya (and oh, he'll always be young no matter how old he gets) tried to convince him to enter a hospice care but Toshinori’s pride wouldn’t let him. The boy knew it was a losing battle when he started it, since it had been hard enough to even get his mentor out of the city. They compromised on this house, and so he moved.

But he’s restless.

All Might retired years ago but Toshinori couldn’t keep himself out of anyone's business. Old habits die hard.

The house is nice but the day are long, with nothing to fill the time. He picks up several hobbies to calm his mind but none of them stick. His hands shake too much for knitting or sewing, gardening takes too much energy, he’s read though every book he owns and every book in the local library and then some.

He tries to keep up a healthy exercise routine but he always pushes himself too hard,  and ends up bed ridden the next day coughing up blood.

He hasn't been in the limelight for years now but he still feels the weight of the world on his shoulders.

---------

A handwritten letter:

Dear Toshinori

I hope this letter finds you well. Izuku mentioned he thought the move might be hard on you. Well, he didn’t say that, but I could tell he was thinking it. He never stops worrying. I’m not sure if he’s blowing things out of proportion or not but I hope you feel like you can come to any of us if you need help. Any kind of help.

My mother is well, thank you for asking. Last week we took a trip to the art museum nearby. We’ve been a couple times (I believe I’ve mentioned those trips before) but they just added a new pottery exhibit that interested her. Fuyumi and Natsuo came along this time, and it was nice to go all together.

Maybe you should come out here and visit some day. My mother and I could show you all of our favorite spots in the city. Have I ever told you about the botanical garden on the edge of the city? We stumbled upon it by accident when we went on a walk. Mother’s favorite was the orchids but I thought of you when I saw the sunflowers. I took a picture of them at the time that I will send with this letter.

I hope you’re well,

Shouto

(inside the envelope, along with the letter, is a photo in the proportions as if it was taken on a mobile phone but is printed on nice photo paper)

---------

Aizawa stops by for coffee when he can. He’s still teaching after all these years, still a Hero though he’s stepped back a little bit. Toshinori loves the company but sometimes he looks at his old friend and can only feel jealousy. No one forced him into retirement, no one sat him down and told him “maybe it’s time for you to settle down a little more. Take a break.”

(But he knows why, it’s because Aizawa can still walk a mile without his lungs giving out. He can still eat without problem. He didn't push himself past his limits over and over and over until his body was falling apart. He didn't try to keep going after that.)

Midoriya comes by more than he should ( "Don't you have hero work to do?" "Of course! But I learned from someone how important it is to take a break!" Toshinori gives him a pointed glance. "And how long did it take you to learn that?" Midoriya laughs, and he doesn’t say ‘at least I learned’ but Toshinori knows he’s thinking it. ) but even though Toshinori nags him he appreciates the company.

No one from the class lets him stay lonely for long, dropping by when they can. He’s caught between proud and worried when they come back covered in bruises and casts and bandages.  They’re trying so hard and they’re doing so well but they’re also his children and he can’t stand to see them hurt.

He sees their shoulders droop when they think he isn’t looking. They smile for him, but he can see how exhausted they are. He sees himself reflected in their posture, in their faces.

They’re so tired but not willing to give up. Toshinori aches because it’s so familiar, the pressure—no, the desire —to succeed, to keep going and keep smiling.

---------

A phone call:

“How’s the house? Are you adjusting well? Do you need any help unpacking? You didn't seem to have much but-”

“Midoriya, my boy. I’m fine!

“You know I worry, dad. I mean uh...”

A warm chuckle echoes through the line. “I do know.” A prolonged pause. “Son.”

A groan.

“I don’t get why you’re so embarrassed every time this happens! I’ve always prided myself in being a father figure to you and, hopefully, the rest of your class. Though… Sometimes I wished I could have done a better job…”

“No no no no! You did great! I mean, even before I met you you were always such a great inspiration and I’m sure—no, I know the whole class feels the same way! You always had our back and you gave some great insights and...”

The phone call goes on while Midoriya goes on and on about how great Toshinori was and is and how much he means to him, the words getting more quiet and slurred as he dissolves into mumbling.

“And! In third year when you—Are you crying?”

A muffled sniffle and a long pause . “Maybe. It’s just good to know you still have such high view of me.” It’s nice to know someone still cares.

“You’ll always be the number one hero to me. Ranks don’t matter, you’re my hero.”

“Thank you Midoriya, my boy.”

“Of course!” A muffled voice in the background, a quiet reply like Midoriya moved the phone away to speak . “Anyways, I have to go now, it’s time for my shift. I’ll talk to you later… Dad.”

“Goodbye... son.”

The dial tone plays for a long while before he hangs up the phone.

---------

The sound of the news anchor echoes through his house, announcing another villain that needs to be fought. They never stop, and the news just keeps coming. Story after story, villain after villain, battle after battle. His shoulders feel heavy and he feels his posture droop.

There’s a reason his students turn off the t.v. when they visit. They can see it weigh him down, his need to help.

There are people who need me, he thinks but never says. He used to, but the response was always the same.

“You’ve done your part—it’s time to rest now.”

He knows, by God he knows he’s useless in this form. They tell him to rest because he's paid his time, but he knows it's because he's useless. He’s tired and old and sometimes can barely manage stairs theses day. He’s known for years, but nothing can quell his desire to be a hero. It flows through his veins, makes up his bones. It’s who he is.

But there are other reasons he likes the t.v. on, because for every villain that shows up there is a hero to combat it. He watches his students (and others, but mostly his students) with baited breath as they show up at the scene, handling the villains with ease.

None of them have shown up to his house with braces or crutches in ages and their smiles are wide and genuine. He knows they ache with the weight of the world but they hold it so well, and they hold it together .

A familiar voice rings out through the house, signalling the defeat of yet another villain. “It’s okay! Because we’re here!”

A weight lifts off his shoulders.