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Pushing Too Hard

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Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound of Shouto’s pencil hitting the desk echoes around the nearly empty classroom, but does little to distract its owner from the agitation still crawling under his skin. He really only has himself to blame for the fact that he’s currently sitting through a lunch detention with Aizawa.

Well, he could also partially blame his father, since it was his phone call this morning that set everything off. Shouto had been looking forward to a calm morning, filled with some light training and then eating breakfast with his boyfriend. He should have declined the call the moment he saw the caller ID.

But then Endeavor has been trying to change, ever since that brief conversation after one of his provisional license courses. He’d said he “just wanted to talk, son,” as if that was normal for either of them. Still, Shouto had decided to encourage the strange behavior on the off chance that it might actually make things better.

Unfortunately, it seemed like his dad couldn’t help being an asshole sometimes. The conversation had been awkward and stilted at first, but had quickly turned heated when Shouto made the mistake of mentioning Izuku. While Enji hadn’t reacted nearly as violently as they’d been afraid he would, he hadn’t exactly reacted well to the news that his son was dating All Might’s successor. Even bringing up his boyfriend’s name drew a harsh sneer from the older man, which was inevitably followed by a series of poorly disguised digs at the green-haired teen.

These comments never failed to get under his son’s skin, and today was no exception. Their argument had dragged on for quite some time, and it wasn’t until Shouto finally hung up on his old man that he realized he was late to homeroom. He’d rushed over as quickly as he could, but Aizawa didn’t seem to be in a particularly forgiving mood.

Granted, they may have partially been due to the fact that Shouto didn’t exactly give him a reason for his tardiness. Even if his friends already suspected something, he didn’t want to confirm it to them. So, when he’d remained stubbornly mute, Aizawa sighed and assigned him lunch detention. Which, thankfully, is finally drawing to a close.

Shouto slumps in relief as his classmates start to file in to the classroom, marking the end of the lunch period. Some of them give him strange looks, since it’s rather unusual for him to be in trouble. He ignores them, watching for a familiar head of green curls.

Strangely, that head enters the room alone, with no sign of Uraraka’s brown bob or Iida’s carefully styled locks. Izuku gives him a smile as he walks to his desk, but his expression seems distant.

He frowns; the other boy has been acting strange all morning, keeping to himself and only responding when someone talks to him directly. Granted, Shouto hasn’t been able to spend a lot of time with him, but he can’t help but feel as though something is wrong. Knowing Izuku’s tendency to keep his problems to himself, Shouto knows he’s probably in for a full-on interrogation later. But now isn’t the time, since Aizawa is wriggling out of his sleeping bag and calling the class to attention.

“Gather your stuff and head to Gym Gamma for Hero Training. We’ll be sparring with quirks today, so try not to completely destroy the place.”

The class erupts at the announcement. They don’t get a lot of opportunities to fight each other one-on-one, their training instead focusing mostly on teamwork and cooperation in this new age of heroics. So, this is a good chance to show just how far they’ve come.

“I’m gonna destroy you, Deku! You too, IcyHot! I’m gonna beat every single one of you extras!” Or not, in some cases. Shouto sighs, turning to see Bakugou looming over Izuku, palms already sparking.

Two years ago, his boyfriend would be shrinking back in fear, arms raised in a placating manner. Now, he simply laughs a little and nudges Bakugou’s shoulder.

“I’m pretty sure Mr. Aizawa is going to be deciding the pairs, Kacchan. Considering that we tend to cause a lot of collateral damage when we fight, I think it’s safe to say that he won’t be putting us together.” He has a point; those two don’t know to ever rein it in, and their teacher surely doesn’t want to deal with the gym getting demolished today.

They manage to get over to gym in relatively orderly fashion, thanks to Iida. Once everyone is changed into their hero costumes, Aizawa starts pairing them up. As expected, Izuku and Bakugou are not partnered. Izuku is supposed to fight Uraraka, and Bakugou has Sero. Shouto is going to be facing off against Ashido, which could be an interesting match.

Their teacher isn’t nearly stupid enough as to set all 20 students free in the gym at the same time, so half of them will be sitting out while the other 10 have their matches. Aizawa looks at the group that will be first up, which includes Izuku and Uraraka.

“I’ll be walking around to monitor the fights and offer pointers. Cementoss isn’t in today, so at least try not to make too much of a mess. Even if I know some of you can’t help it. And yes, that means you, Problem Child.” Izuku flushes, hand coming up to rub awkwardly at his neck. “Group 2, you know the drill. Observe, analyze, and learn from the fights in front of you.”

Shouto is in Group 2, so he settles down on one of the benches lined up against the wall. He hears the metal shriek in protest as Bakugou does the same, and he can’t help but to think that putting Bakugou in the second group is a deliberate move on Aizawa’s part. This way, he can keep the two wild cards as far away from each other as possible.

Once everyone in the second group is seated, Aizawa gives the signal for the fights to start and the students waste no time in complying. Kirishima and Ojiro are putting on a pretty good show so far, with Ojiro going on the offensive early. Iida and Tsuyu are an intriguing match, his speed against her flexibility and maneuverability. Jirou is currently trying to keep Dark Shadow at bay while Tokoyami watches for a chance to close in on her, and Satou chugs three packets of sugar in preparation to charge at Shouji.

After he’s spent a sufficient amount of time watching the others, he finally lets his eyes drift to a familiar green suit. He doesn’t want to get caught only watching his boyfriend, but the truth is that he really likes watching Izuku fight. The shorter boy always seems to have some new trick up his sleeve, and he often adapts his fighting style to his opponent. It’s usually fascinating to watch but…something seems wrong this time.

Izuku’s body is crackling with the electric green energy of his quirk, but Uraraka has him on the defensive. His movements seem almost sluggish, and he’s not taking advantage of the blatant openings Uraraka is leaving for him. It’s not like Izuku to miss out on opportunities like that.

“Oi Deku! At least make it look like you’re trying to fight Round Face, instead of dancing around her like a drunk goddamn pixie!” Shouto rolls his eyes at the insult even as his fists clench in his lap. If Bakugou is noticing something wrong and commenting on it, then it’s definitely not just in his head. Izuku doesn’t bother responding to the taunt, though his eyes flicker over to the student audience and Shouto sucks in a breath.

His boyfriend’s eyes are usually the most expressive ones he’d ever seen, and he could practically write entire essays on the various emotions they displayed on a daily basis. He’s seen them bright and animated when greeting friends in the morning before class; he’s seen them fill with tears when All Might or Aizawa remark on how far he’s come since their first year; and of course, he’s seen them when Izuku is in the middle of a fight, full of determination and practically glowing in their intensity. He’s never seen them look this dull and unfocused, especially considering he’s supposed to be fighting Uraraka.

Aizawa is pacing the floor of the gym, keeping an eye on all the fights, and Shouto is relieved to see that he’s making his way back to Izuku and Uraraka now. Still, the seconds before their teacher reaches the fight in question seem to stretch on forever. Izuku is practically swaying in place when the pro hero finally steps in.

“Midoriya,” he calls out in that infuriatingly bored tone. “There’s no point in you participating in this exercise if you aren’t going to take it seriously. Is there some reason you aren’t actually fighting?”

Izuku’s head whips around to look at their teacher, gaze still uncomfortably vacant. “No, sir,” he says in a breathy voice. “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll do better, I promise.”

Uraraka steps closer to her friend, concern evident on her face. “Hey Deku, are you sure you’re okay? You seem really out of it.” She places a careful hand on his shoulder and receives a lopsided smile in return.

He tries to shake her off, though even that small movement seems to make him dizzy and he wobbles a little. “Of course. I’m—I’m fine.” But even as he stutters out his response, his eyes roll back and his knees give out. Shouto yells and jumps off the bench, despite knowing that he won’t be fast enough to catch him.

Thankfully, Uraraka’s reflexes are just as quick and she manages to tag him with her quirk before he face plants onto the floor. He starts moving up in the air rather than down, and Shouto walks quickly over to the pair.

By the time he reaches them, Izuku’s floating about six feet off the ground and he positions himself underneath the airborne teen. Once he’s in place, he nods at Uraraka to release her quirk. She does, sighing unhappily as Izuku falls into Shouto’s arms.

The jolt of the landing seems to be enough to rouse him, and he yelps as he tries to scramble out of his boyfriend’s hold. Shouto sets him down on his feet begrudgingly, but refuses to let him get any farther away. They struggle like this for a few seconds before Aizawa’s voice rings out again.

“Midoriya, go see Recovery Girl. Todoroki, make sure he actually gets there.” Shouto nods; he’d been planning on tagging along, anyway. Aizawa gives a long-suffering sigh before turning to face the sidelined students. “Bakugou, get in here and fight Uraraka. And please, try to keep the structural damage to a minimum so I don’t have to stay up all night doing paperwork.”

Bakugou gets up off the bench surprisingly slowly, muttering darkly as he crosses the room. Even from this distance, Shouto can hear bits and pieces, like “stupid Deku” and “can’t even finish a fucking fight.” Izuku, who can probably hear just as well, looks ready to respond but Shouto doesn’t give him the chance. He all but drags the shorter boy out of the gym with a firm grip on his upper arm.

Of course, Izuku doesn’t make it easy on him. He squirms and wriggles, trying to shake off Shouto’s hand while a stream of protests pour out of his mouth. Shouto grits his teeth as he ignores all of them. He knows that arguing isn’t likely to help, especially with how stubborn his boyfriend can get. So he bites down on the urge to retaliate. Or at least, he does until he hears him say, “you’re overreacting, it isn’t that serious.”

In a heartbeat, Shouto whirls around on him. “Not that serious? Are you kidding me?” He tries to keep his voice as even as it normally sounds, but he notices the edge of anger that creeps in without his permission. “I just watched you pass out while standing still. Please, enlighten me as to how I’m overreacting to want Recovery Girl to take a look at you.”

Izuku blinks back at him, stunned by his sudden reaction. He opens his mouth to respond, but Shouto covers it with his free hand only to suck in a breath at how hot Izuku’s skin feels.

“You’re burning up,” he says shortly. Now he’s starting to get really concerned; how long has this been going on?

“That’s your cold hand, it proves nothing,” Izuku blurts out as soon as his mouth is uncovered. Shouto crooks an unimpressed eyebrow.

“My right hand is on your arm right now. I just touched your face with my left hand, which means the fact that you felt warm to me is actually pretty remarkable.” Green eyes widen as they look down at Shouto’s hands, realizing his mistake. “And the fact that you’re so quick to deny it just tells me that you know something is wrong.”

Izuku resumes his struggling, but Shouto doesn’t budge an inch. Maybe it’s the frustration from the argument with Endeavor this morning, or maybe it’s the way that Izuku seems hell-bent on running himself into the ground, but either way he feels the rising tide of his quirk as it responds to his anger. He tamps down on the power, pinching the bridge of his nose and taking a deep breath as he does so.

“Izuku, I need you to answer a question for me.” The boy in question stops struggling, as if he’s incapable of doing more than one thing at a time. Which, in all honesty, might actually be beyond his capabilities in his current state. “Do I seem stupid to you?”

The other boy just stares, clearly taken aback by the question. “Of course not, Shouto.”

“Then why are you treating me like I am?” There’s no response, but Shouto lets the question sit, heavy in the air between them.

“I don’t…I’m not…” Izuku’s voice is small, hesitant. He cuts himself off with a pathetic-sounding cough, but Shouto refuses to be swayed by it.

“You’ve been acting strange all day, you clearly couldn’t focus during your spar with Uraraka, and need I remind you that you passed out back there. You’re lucky Uraraka was there to catch you.” His voice rises with every word, but he’s so far past being worried about an audience. “You’re also lucky I’m not carrying you to the infirmary in a princess hold!”

“Shouto, please, someone could hear you.”

“Then let them! Maybe then you’ll finally admit that something is wrong and let me help you.”

Again, he gets that lopsided little smile. “Shou, I’m f—”

Shouto shakes the arm that’s still trapped in his grasp. “I swear if you try to tell me one more time that you’re fine, I’m going to scream. Izuku, you can’t even manage to pull away from me even though your quirk literally makes you stronger,” he hisses.

He sees the moment when something clicks in Izuku’s eyes. The green-haired teen looks down at Shouto’s hand again, and his mouth opens with a soft, “oh.”

Taking a deep breath, Shouto tries for a more reasonable tone. “I don’t know why you’re acting like this. But you’re really scaring me, and I don’t understand why you won’t let me help you.”

Nothing happens for a few minutes. Then, Izuku slumps so suddenly that Shouto thinks he’s passed out again. He flings an arm around the shorter boy’s waist to support him and is relieved to see that he’s still conscious.

“You’re right,” Izuku mumbles at the ground.

“Damn right, I’m right,” the taller teen grumbles. “Now will you stop fighting me and make my job just a little bit easier?” Green curls bob up and down in a nod, and the walk to Recovery Girl’s office goes much smoother from that point on.

Of course, Recovery Girl clicks her tongue in distaste as soon as she realizes who’s entered the room.

“What is it, this time?” she asks shortly, already hopping off her desk chair.

“I think he might be sick, Recovery Girl,” Shouto replies. “He actually passed out for a moment during a sparring match.” He guides Izuku over to one of the beds, helping his boyfriend lay down on it.

She sighs. “Well, I suppose that’s a little better than coming to see me because he’s hurt himself during training again. Well, let’s have a look at you, dearie.” She hops up onto the stool by the bed rather gracefully, looking down at the prone student.

Izuku submits as gracefully as he can to the old lady’s poking and prodding, though Shouto suspects it’s more out of fatigue than any real compliance on his part. Recovery Girl fusses and frets for a few minutes before leaning back with a sigh.

“Midoriya, when is the last time you got a full night of sleep?” She asks pointedly.

“Well, last night I kept coughing, so it was hard to sleep for very long. And then the night before that, I was studying for an English test until maybe 3:00?”

“You told me you’d already studied for that test.” Shouto grabs his boyfriend’s hand to get his attention away from the ceiling, and barely manages to hold in a sigh when he receives a sheepish smile.

“I mean, I did study, but then I was worried that maybe I hadn’t studied enough, and since I couldn’t sleep while thinking about it I decided to just study some more, and then I didn’t really feel comfortable just stopping...”

“And when was the last time you ate?” Recovery Girl asks, interrupting Izuku’s rant. Shouto’s stomach sinks at the scrunched-up look of concentration on the other boy’s face.

“Maybe…yesterday…?” It was more question than statement, which makes Shouto feel like the world’s worst boyfriend.

“Hold on, I know I missed breakfast with you this morning, and I had detention with Aizawa, but how did you manage to avoid eating anything? Didn’t you go to lunch with Uraraka and Iida?”

Izuku winces. “I…might have told them that I was going to the library for a few minutes. And then just stayed there. I just felt like I was going to throw up if I ate anything, and I didn’t want to do that in the middle of the cafeteria.”

A resigned sigh brings their attention back to the elderly school nurse in the room with them. “Sounds like low blood sugar to me. Which would explain why you passed out. Were you feeling shaky and dizzy beforehand?” At the responding nod, she jumps down from her stool and walks over to a set of drawers against the far wall. She rummages in the bottom-most drawer for a minute before pulling out a package of cookies.

“This will help bring your blood sugar up to a normal level quickly, which is our first priority. They’re also rather soft, so they shouldn’t aggravate that sore throat you’re not telling me about.” Izuku makes a face, scrunching up his nose as he gingerly takes the cookies. He struggles with the packaging for a moment before Shouto takes it out of his hands. The plastic crinkles in his hands as he opens it and hands it back.

Despite the fact that he’s taking tiny bites and chewing very thoroughly, Shouto can still see the way Izuku winces every time he swallows a bite. He reaches for the water bottle he keeps in his bag before realizing that both items are most likely still in the locker room. Luckily, Recovery Girl also notices the pained way his boyfriend is eating, and pulls out a plastic bottle of water from the fridge.

“Before you drink this,” she says as she walks back to them, “I’m going to need to take your temperature. It certainly feels like you have a fever, but I’d like to verify it.” She hands him the thermometer and he obligingly holds it under his tongue. Sure enough, the gadget displays a temperature of 38.4° C. “I don’t think I need to tell you that you should be resting in bed, but I’m going to say it anyway. Midoriya, you need to go back to your room and relax.”

Of course, that gets an immediate reaction. Izuku bolts upright, looking downright panicked. “No, I’m fine! I’ll eat something, and you can use your quirk on me and I’ll be good as new.” Another round of coughing cuts him off. He tries to muffle it in the crook of his arm, but both occupants of the room can clearly hear how strained it sounds.

When the coughing subsides, he looks up at the nurse with pathetic eyes. She scoffs at the display. “You know as well as I do that my quirk uses your own stamina to heal you. In your current condition, you quite simply don’t have any stamina to spare. At this point, anything I do is more likely to hurt than help. You’ll just have to weather this like a normal teenager.” She turns to walk away, but Shouto still catches the phrase, “maybe it will teach you not to be so stubborn,” that she mutters under her breath. He tries not to laugh, especially with the way his boyfriend is still looking like someone just kicked a puppy.

“I can’t miss class, Recovery Girl! I’ll fall behind the others again!” The sincere despair in his voice is enough to break Shouto’s heart, but he knows he can’t let it affect him. Looks like he’ll be getting some experience playing the villain today.

“I’ll take him back to the dorms, Recovery Girl.” He ignores the betrayed look on Izuku’s face. “Could you tell Mr. Aizawa where I am? I’d rather avoid getting detention again, if possible.”

“Of course, dear,” she says. “In fact, I’ll write a note for you, in case he gives you any trouble.”

He nods, grateful. “Thank you. Any particular instructions for our reluctant patient?”

“He just needs to rest and eat at regular intervals. Mild, soft foods will probably be best for that sore throat, and some herbal tea with honey would also be a good idea. I certainly hope you have more luck with him than I’ve had, Todoroki.”

Shouto blushes a little at the implication that he’d be taking care of Izuku, though he can’t bring himself to deny it. If nothing else, he knows someone needs to watch over the self-destructive idiot, so why shouldn’t it be him?

Thankfully, Recovery Girl chooses this moment to leave the room, probably to find their teacher. With a sigh, he turns to face Izuku and is taken aback by the tears gathering in those large green eyes. Before he thinks too much about it, he climbs onto the infirmary bed and pulls the shorter boy into his arms.

“Hey, don’t do that. Zuku, sweetheart, what’s wrong?” He keeps his voice quiet, soothing. For a few moments, Izuku just shakes in his embrace without responding. Finally, he clears his throat and tries to speak.

“I can’t fall behind everybody again,” he says, voice rough. “I’ve worked so hard to keep up with how much everyone has grown, but it’s not enough. If I have to miss class, you guys are going to leave me in the dust.”

“You’re not going to get left behind. Haven’t you figured it out yet?” Shouto cradles Izuku’s face in his hands, giving him that soft little smile that always leaves the other teen a blushing mess. “You’re the reason everyone’s gotten so strong. We all look to you, at how hard you work to be a hero, and we can’t help but do the same.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Izuku says with a wrinkled nose. “Kacchan is so much stronger than me, and he works just as hard. No one looks up to me with him in the room.”

“Bakugou may be strong, but you and I both know that physical strength isn’t the only thing that makes a good hero. Your heart, your determination to help people even when they don’t ask for it; that’s what makes you so special, and that’s why everyone looks up to you.”

The tears are flowing unimpeded down freckled cheeks now, but thankfully the expression on Izuku’s face is closer to awe than abject terror. Shouto pulls him into his chest again, resting his chin carefully on top of that wild head of curls. He waits until the shaky sobs have faded out before pulling back just a little.

“I hate to be the bad guy here, but we really do need to get you back to the dorm. Recovery Girl’s orders, after all.” Izuku groans, but doesn’t put up much of a protest as Shouto guides him off the bed and back to his room.

When the shorter teen is settled in his bed, All Might comforter tucked up under his chin, Shouto turns to leave but his progress is halted by a firm grip around his wrist.

“Will you stay with me, Shou?” Izuku’s face is pink, because no matter how long they’ve been dating he still gets embarrassed to ask for things like this.

“I need to get you something to eat, since those cookies aren’t going to cut it. But,” he says quickly as Izuku’s face falls, “I might be able to text Iida. I’m sure our class representative would be happy to help.”

“He’s really going to let me hear it for not eating, isn’t he?”

Shouto can’t help the small chuckle that escapes. “Probably. You know how he is.”

“Ugh, fine,” Izuku says with his face buried in his pillow. “Just stay here with me.” The statement is accompanied by a gentle tug on his wrist, and Shouto complies quickly.

“Scoot over. I can’t fit on the bed if you’re spread out like this.” Izuku happily complies, and Shouto settles down, trying not to get a mouthful of green hair. The text to Iida is sent quickly, although the quiet snores that fill the room tell him that Izuku’s already asleep. It will probably take a while for Iida to bring anything back, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to let the exhausted teen get some rest.

He lets his right arm come up to gently trace a line up and down Izuku’s side. He avoids the other boy’s more ticklish areas in an effort to let him sleep. While he looks up at the ceiling, he tries to think about how to stop the boy in his arms from destroying himself from the inside out.

Shouto knows that Izuku has a really distorted sense of self-preservation. He’d known it since that first day of school, when he’d turned to Aizawa with a broken finger and a smile that looked an awful lot like a grimace. Still, today shows him that he should keep a closer eye on his absent-minded boyfriend, since that lack of self-preservation seems to extend outside of heroics and fighting. He’d pushed himself too far yet again, forgetting to tend to his body’s needs and refusing to admit that anything was wrong. With equal parts fondness and exasperation, Shouto presses a kiss to the top of Izuku’s head.

“I know you consider it your job to take care of everyone else, but I promise that I’ll make it mine to take care of you.” Izuku doesn’t reply outside of those soft little snores, and the gentle rhythm of them soothes Shouto to sleep not long after.