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As Often as a Truth

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It doesn’t happen instantly. 

 

Grief is funny like that. Sometimes, you’ll be sitting with it like a weight in your chest, heavy and ever-present. Sometimes, it fades into the background until something presses up against the bruise of it in your soul. Sometimes, you forget almost entirely. 

 

He’s lost things before. You wouldn’t always notice. He’s gotten good at the facade, the ever-present smile. A grin like All Might, proclaiming to the world that everything is okay. 

But, a smile is a lie as often as a truth. 

 

-x-

 

Mirio doesn’t remember his biological family in any real detail. He knows he was the youngest of three siblings, but that’s more because of what his adoptive parents told him than any true recollection. He had been the only known survivor.

 

Mirio’s quirk had come early, and he’d had it for longer than he could remember. When the Togatas adopted him, he’d been nearly four years old and he’d barely had a grasp on keeping himself tangible enough to keep his clothes attached and his feet on the ground.

 

The Togatas were amazing, loving parents from the start. He had never doubted that.

 

But, sometimes he was afraid of his adoptive father for no apparent reason. It took him years to be able to handle loud male voices without flinching, and longer to handle the way men leaned into conversation with him.

 

Mirio grew up with shadows under his skin and anxiety constantly unfurling in his chest, but a smile on his face. A smile is a lie as often as a truth.

 

-x-

 

He was drawn to Tamaki from the start, from the moment he walked into his classroom and stuttered his way through an introduction. Tamaki was like him, a simmer inside him that spoke to every part of Mirio that felt like falling apart. 

 

He knew from that first conversation that forcing a smile on Tamaki’s face wouldn’t help him from falling apart, they were as different as the same. It didn’t stop Mirio from giving his all to make Tamaki smile as often as he could. In time, the reasons changed, but not the goal.

 

Tamaki was the brightest light in any room, and Mirio would chase ghosts to follow it.

 

-x-

 

Mirio’s mother dies when he’s twelve. There’s a hollowness in his chest that doesn’t fade for a long time after that.

 

He still smiles, even when he’s a half-second from breaking out into sobs.

 

He has to be strong for his dad, he has to. He doesn’t know what else to do.

 

A smile is a lie as often as a truth.

 

-x-

 

He lost a sister when his mother died.

 

Eri reminds him of that. She’s too young and too old at the same time, but she still reminds him of those black and white photographs his parents had sat him down and showed him. 

 

The potential she’d been.

 

But, Eri is her own person. She shines so bright and blinding, so quietly.

 

She deserves as much love and happiness and childhood as his sister had.

 

So he smiles, even when everything else feels like it’s crumbling beneath him.

 

A smile is a lie as often as a truth.

 

-x-

 

As a kid, All Might was the biggest inspiration for him when it came to being a hero. His smile had been his own catalyst into keeping positive. 

 

As a hero, after Eri and Overhaul and everything that entailed. When Mirio was faced with a hollowness in him that was more than his anxiety and the lingering sadness that was always a breath away, it wasn’t All Might he admired the most.

 

It was Sir Nighteye.

 

Sir Nighteye smiled a lot in a different way, showed Mirio how to be brave when Mirio was afraid, never stopped being his support and his mentor.

 

He’d lost his quirk and his mentor, but he could never lose what Sir Nighteye had taught him.

 

“Even when you’re feeling far from it, remember there’s still a reason to smile.”

 

If he makes himself smile, if he does this long enough and does it no matter how he feels,  it’ll be true.

 

He’ll make it true. For himself and for every other person he meets. 

 

-x-

 

He falls apart when he’s alone, secluded in his dorm while the rest of his class is away, even Tamaki.

 

He cries until there’s nothing left but stuttering breaths and a headache forming behind his eyes.

 

He forces a smile on his face and looks in the mirror and it’s broken and cracked but its there.

 

It's a lie as surely as anything, but it makes something in him calm.

 

He can still smile, even when it hits him that this is real. Sir Nighteye is gone and his quirk...

 

He doesn’t have a quirk anymore, he doesn’t know if it will ever return to him.

 

A smile is a lie as often as a truth.

 

-x-

 

He takes care of Eri for Aizawa-sensei sometimes. For her, and himself too.

 

It’s been weeks since he met her--months, maybe--when he’s crawling into a blanket fort after her as she giggles, loud and bubbly, that he realizes.

 

If he can make one person smile, he can still be a hero.

 

He can still be Lemillion if he can make them smile.

 

A smile is a lie as often as a truth. 

 

But.

 

Sometimes.

 

It’s more than that too. 

 

It’s a promise. Open-ended, full-on promise.


As long as I can still smile, I will do all that I can to be your hero.

 

-x-

 

Two days later, Tamaki puts his hand over Mirio’s and that’s a promise too.

 

No ghosts will keep them apart, not even the ones in their heads.

 

-x-

 

Lemillion smiles.