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“Trust issues?” the villain asks, smiling like Izuku’s just given her a birthday present. 

Izuku says, caught off-guard, “Sorry?” but then he remembers himself and twists his arm, grabbing her wrist and pinning her to the wall before she can squirm away.

There are three other villains in the troupe, and she’s only the brains of the operation--there are at least two beefier villains who Iida and Uraraka are dealing with right now, so Izuku can’t get distracted. Sometimes when villains aren't up-front with the murder-y stuff, like with this lady, it's difficult to not have some manners.

Izuku’s half-benched right now. He’s not supposed to directly engage because the statistics from last semester’s review of his hero work showed that he’s "overworked" and still “prone to shattering his own bones” which is “irresponsible” and gives his loved ones “undue stress.” Being half-benched means he gets to watch Uraraka and Iida kick ass while he sneaks around back and takes out the intelligence of the hero gang. Which he’s just done.

He has cuffs somewhere. (He’s promised he won’t rely on his quirk to knock people out until he completes further therapy to “curb his self-sacrificing behaviors.”) Izuku pats his pockets, unable to find the one he’s looking for.

“I just think it’s cute,” the villain says, even though half her face is squished against the alley wall, and she has to spit some of her blue hair out of her mouth to speak. She’s not making a move to escape, which is a little strange, but if she had an offensive-type quirk she would have used it already to keep Izuku away. 

“What’s cute?” Izuku asks. He's distracted because he’d let someone in the support course change his pocket configurations and now he can’t find anything, ever. 

“OH! I AM,” Uraraka calls from the other end of the alleyway, and spin-kicks a villain so hard in the face that Izuku hears the villain’s teeth crunch horrifically. Uraraka beams, unfazed, and gives Izuku a big thumbs-up.

“Could we focus?” Iida asks, annoyed, and his point is proven when Uraraka takes a blow to the ribs from another villain and is thrown ten feet back.

Izuku gets more frantic in his searching, trying to get this person dealt with so he can help his friends.

“She’s almost as cute as you,” the villain agrees, and her smile grows even more unsettling.

He snaps the cuffs onto her wrists, looped around the pole of a fire escape so she can’t run for it, but in the shuffle, she brushes her left hand along his arm, sending up a painless shower of gold sparks that disappear almost immediately.

He steps back sharply, so that she can’t touch him again, but the damage is done. What that damage is, Izuku can’t tell yet, but she looks way too pleased with herself for it to be anything good.

“Enjoy that. My treat,” the villain says. Smiles wider, showing sharp teeth. “Who would’ve thought that such a promising UA student had so few real friends? I think that’s gorgeous, poetically speaking.”

“Okay, well, you’re going to jail now,” Izuku says, ignoring the rush of self-doubt that’s suddenly coursing through him. Once police show up, they can tell him exactly what her quirk is, but it hasn’t hurt him yet.

“Sure, sweetheart,” she says, smiling a pitying smile that makes Izuku a little nauseous. 

“Midoriya, if you're finished!” Iida shouts.

Izuku makes sure the cuffs are fastened, and then he runs into battle to help out, shaking off his unease.

The fight is mostly over. It’s just one villain left, but he’s big, and Uraraka’s almost fully overextended from the two hours of patrol they’ve already done, and Iida’s engine is stalling, which is probably why he'd called out. There's not time to strategize if they want to have the villains handled before the police show up (it's a better look, professionally, to get these things done with quickly). 

Izuku has a sudden idea--Uraraka could catapult him up over the villain’s head, avoiding the villain’s long claws, which would let them attack from three directions at once. He opens his mouth to call out to her, and the sensation of a white-hot spear being shoved through his heart overtakes him.

Izuku hits the ground, gasping. Behind him, he hears the cuffed villain laugh out loud. 

“Deku?” Uraraka asks, alarmed. There are footsteps as she sprints over to him, but the pain is gone as soon as it had arrived, and Izuku staggers back to his feet. “What’s wrong?” she asks. 

His first instinct is to tell her I think that other villain did something to me and I don’t know what it was but then his brain, like a switch flipped to on, fills with images of Uraraka mocking him for getting hit by a quirk, for being too stupid to take care of himself, for thinking he’s good enough to have friends just because he has a quirk now. 

“I rolled my ankle,” he says. No further pain flares through him, and Uraraka furrows her eyebrows but doesn’t challenge this. 

“Could we focus,” Iida says again, through gritted teeth, because both of his patrol partners are ignoring the fact that there’s still a fight going on, one that Iida's holding by himself but won't be able to for much longer. 

“Right! Sorry!” Izuku says. 

He charges in. The last villain swipes at him with massive claws, and Izuku gets grazed even though he tries to dodge--but that doesn’t matter because he manages to smack a crackling hand into his chest, and the villain is blasted back into the wall, where he lies still. 

Izuku doesn’t break one bone while doing it, just to flex on his therapist.

“Woo!” Uraraka says, and pumps the air with one fist. “I might actually get to study for that Literature exam!”

“We need to wait for the police to arrive,” Iida says, though he looks similarly relieved that their evening patrol isn't going to go overtime. He crouches to massage at one of his calves, which has been cramping up for a few days, but he keeps his eyes on Izuku, analytical. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Izuku glances down at himself. He’d only been scratched by the last villain, so there aren’t any serious external injuries to report--but when he thinks about saying something about the mysterious quirk he’d gotten hit with, his brain shuts that shit down quick and an echo of the previous pain shoots through his chest (they won’t like you if you tell them you’re that stupid, it says. Don’t you want to keep your friends?).

“I’m perfect!” Izuku says. He beams. “Though maybe we should do some ankle-strengthening exercises tomorrow morning at the gym.”

“Your ankles are weak because you always wear high-tops,” Iida informs him.

“Ankle kegels,” is Uraraka’s contribution to the conversation, before she has to sit down on a shipping crate so she doesn't pass out before the police arrive.

 

When they get back to the dorm, Kirishima’s alone in the common room, staring at his math workbook with glazed-over eyes. He brightens when he sees them, and shoves the book off the couch to make more room for them if they want to sit. “Oh shit! I saw on Twitter you fought an old friend of mine today!”

“Wait, really?” Uraraka asks. She’s being propped up by Izuku and Iida, because she’d overdone it and she’s still nauseous as hell, but she breaks free to flop onto the couch next to Kirishima. “Which one?”

“Her villain name’s Reinforce, she got away when I ran into her with Tetsutetsu a few months ago. She didn’t get any of you with her quirk, did she?”

"Blue hair?" Iida asks. Kirishima nods.

“Deku’s the one who fought her,” Uraraka says.

Everyone turns to look at Izuku. 

Izuku blinks, and tries not to shy away from the attention. He wants to trust Kirishima. Kirishima’s trustworthy, he reminds himself. 

(His brain supplies, is he? Is Iida? Is Uraraka? Kirishima’s best friends with Kacchan and you thought Iida was going to bully you for the first two months of school and maybe Uraraka calls you Deku as a joke and it’s funny to her that you’ve tried to reclaim it.)

“No, I don’t think so?” he says, and laughs sheepishly. “Do you know what her quirk is?”

“I don’t think it’s on any official record,” Kirishima says, shrugging, “but I know she used it on me and for a day afterwards I was like--I forget the word. Hyper--uh, hyper-something. I couldn’t sleep and I was literally on the phone with my moms for six hours because I needed to make sure they were safe. Haha.”

“Hypervigilant,” Iida guesses.

“Yeah, that was it!” Kirishima puts a finger to his nose. “Combined with how overprotective I can be, it was kind of a bad situation.”

“Was there any consequence for...not behaving like that?” Izuku asks, apprehensive.

Kirishima puffs out his cheeks as he exhales dramatically. “Yeah. I got this really bad migraine. It’s kind of freaky, but I also started, like, hallucinating? That’s when I decided I had to tell someone.”

Uraraka frowns, and nudges Kirishima’s knee. “You didn’t tell us.”

“It was only for a day! You guys were really active in the group chat so it was fine! Anyway,” Kirishima snorts, “you would know if it hit you, man.”

Maybe she hadn’t gotten Izuku. Izuku’s not feeling particularly hypervigilant at all, but being hit by a quirk would explain the weird stab of pain he’d gotten earlier when he’d tried to reach out to Uraraka to strategize. 

Maybe it’d just been heartburn?

“Was that the only time you’ve felt like that?” Uraraka asks. 

Kirishima laughs, a little self-deprecating. “No. To be honest, dude, I feel like that all the time. I think it's like, a survival instinct that a lot of heroes get. But her quirk made it crazy exaggerated.”

“And her villain name’s Reinforce,” Izuku says, slowly putting it together.

“Yeah,” Kirishima says, grimacing. "Kind of creeps you out, doesn't it?" 

“It could be a really cool quirk if used correctly,” Izuku says, to distract himself from his growing dread. “I mean, if you could exaggerate any survival instinct, that’s a really good buffer to have in a fight--that’s probably how that other guy on her team had such good reflexes! Too bad she, you know, uses it for evil.”

“She sounds like a bitch,” Uraraka says flatly, refusing to engage with this line of thinking. She blinks up at Izuku. “Are you sure she didn’t get you? It looked like you talked to her a little bit.”

Izuku’s brain says, she’ll use it against you if you tell her, she’s only asking so she can have that advantage over you. Iida and Kirishima will tell everyone in the class--everyone in the school will know and you’ll never get invited to sit with anyone at lunch again

“I promise she didn’t,” Izuku says, and gives a tired thumbs-up.

 

He gets invited along to dinner, after a few more groups get back from patrol shifts and they’ve all showered and made themselves a little more presentable (presentable enough to go to the dining hall, at least). Izuku’s swept up in a group consisting of Uraraka, Todoroki, and Iida, with a few more classmates promising to join them in a few minutes once they finish changing.

Izuku’s trying to get his brain to stop running on such a high gear. Kirishima had said that the quirk’s effects included hallucinations, which he’s not looking forward to. Izuku’s already experienced the retaliatory pain, and he’s already noticed that his most-used survival instinct (which is his something relating to his learned skill of avoiding trusting anybody) has gone back up to pre-UA levels. 

It’s only supposed to last a day. He can do anything for only twenty-four hours.

Once in the bustling cafeteria, Izuku’s stress level only increases. He feels like everyone’s eyes are on him, and the only reason he keeps moving is because his group practically herds him towards the line. 

But then he falters again once he’s gotten his food--he doesn’t know where to sit.

Todoroki’s hand closes around his elbow and tugs Izuku towards an empty table (Izuku would normally be setting off celebratory firecrackers in his head over this but his brain says he’s going to throw your tray on the floor and everyone’s gonna see it) and Izuku flinches hard enough that Todoroki lets go and backs up and mutters, “Sorry.”

“It’s fine!” Izuku insists, embarrassed. Even though he’d just been terrified that Todoroki was going to resort to third-grade level bullying, the physical contact had been welcome, and he’d fucked it up. “ I’m sorry, you just startled me.”

Iida catches up with them, as he’d been right behind them in line, and Izuku hears him say, “You’re not planning to sit with us, are you, Midoriya?”

Izuku blinks, and turns slowly to face Iida (Iida is tall enough to hurt you is the thought that crosses Izuku’s brain). “What’d you say?” he squeaks.

“I said if you don’t hurry there won’t be any empty tables left.” Iida adjusts his glasses to look at Izuku more closely. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing!” Izuku says. He turns back to Todoroki, who still looks guilty. Shit. “Let’s find a spot.”

 

Izuku, against all odds, gets through dinner without a full panic attack, mainly by virtue of avoiding conversation by shoveling food into his face at a high rate. But, because the universe wants to fuck with Izuku as much as it can, the person who he runs into immediately upon leaving the dining hall is Kacchan. 

As he rebounds off of Kacchan and immediately panics, he tries to tell himself, he doesn’t have power over you here. He tries to remind himself, he doesn’t pick on people for fun anymore . He tries to hammer into his head, someone would do something about it if Kacchan tried anything.

(Nobody gives a shit about you here, his brain says. They think because All Might likes you that they have to be nice to you but nobody’s ever done anything to stop Kacchan before and you shouldn’t rely on others to fight your battles for you.)

“I’m so sorry,” Izuku says, waving his hands frantically. “It was an accident!”

“Whatever,” Kacchan says, and rolls his eyes. He looks too tired to say much more. “Watch where you’re going, Deku.”

It’s not a hostile reaction. And when Kacchan’s hands spark, it’s a routine kind of spark that he has to do in order to keep himself from eventually blowing up his entire arm. And he and Kacchan are almost friends these days--the closest to being friends they’re probably ever going to get. 

But Izuku’s quirk-affected brain interprets the sparks as he’s going to kill you and Izuku throws up his arms to shield his face.

No barrage of explosions comes. And now Todoroki and Uraraka and Iida have stopped to stare at a cowering Izuku, and everyone has seen.

“The fuck’s wrong with you?” Kacchan asks, an edge of discomfort in his voice. “You think I’m gonna kick your ass right outside the dining hall?”

“Hasn’t stopped you before,” Izuku says, which are bold words coming from someone who’d literally squeaked in terror four seconds ago. He lowers his arms, studiously avoiding eye contact with everyone.

Kacchan snaps, “Get out of my way so I can get my damn dinner and I’ll forget you said that to me.”

“Feel free!” Izuku snaps back, and moves out of the way. “Enjoy your dinner!”

“I won’t!” Kacchan snarls, stalking into the dining hall.

“Die then!” Izuku says, and then he resumes walking, forcing his three companions to jog to catch up with him.

“Deku,” Uraraka says a few tense minutes later, because she’s the one with the most emotional intelligence out of their group, “what was that?”

Izuku wants to cry--wait, strike that, he is crying. “I don’t know,” he says, sniffly, and wipes at his face.

“I know you guys didn’t used to get along,” she says. She takes his hand and slows him to a stop, where Todoroki and Iida bracket the two of them, forming a tight circle with Izuku shielded from the rest of the traffic on the quad. It’s meant to be protective, but Izuku’s throat starts closing up as they loom over him. “But you kind of freaked out. Do you want to talk about it?”

Izuku does . He’s in a low enough place, in a lonely enough place, that he wants to tell them everything. But he opens his mouth to say he used to tell me to go kill myself and no one cared and he gets shot through with electric pain, and he claps a hand over his mouth before he can cry out.

They’d agree with Kacchan. They’d realize Izuku’s a prime target for bullying and turn on him in ten seconds flat. 

“Deku?” Uraraka exclaims as his face contorts with pain. Todoroki grabs onto his elbow, and Iida rests a hand on the back of Izuku’s neck to similarly steady him. 

They’re going to beat the shit out of you , his brain helpfully supplies, and Izuku goes rigid. Are you going to give them more reason to beat the shit out of you?

“It’s fine,” Izuku says, once the pain has passed, and edges backwards until they aren’t touching him anymore. There’s room to his rear to run if he needs to. He’s not trapped, he tells himself.

“Where are you hurt?” Iida asks. 

“Nowhere,” Izuku says.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki says, almost sounding upset.

Nowhere,” Izuku insists. “I promise it’s okay. Can we go back to the dorm?”

“Yes,” Iida finally says, when it’s clear Izuku’s not going to say anything else. “But if it gets worse, I would like you to tell me.”

“Sure,” Izuku agrees, too exhausted to have an argument. (If he just agrees maybe Iida won’t get mad at him.)

The walk back to the dorm passes in tense silence. Uraraka keeps glancing at Izuku like she wants to ask him something, but she never finds the right words.

He shuts himself in his room, citing homework, and once the door is locked, he feels the pain slough off of him. Izuku finds himself on the floor with his back pressed to his door, panting with relief, and he’s almost too drained to crawl to his bed when he starts to fall asleep.

Twenty-two hours to go. He's handling it pretty well, he thinks.

 

Izuku’s nightmares that night are the worst they’ve been all year. By three in the morning, after he’s screamed himself awake twice and watched himself crumble his loved ones into dust eight times, he gives up entirely on sleeping and shakily wanders down to the common room and sits on the sofa. He’s been trying to dissociate on command for forty-five minutes when he’s happened upon by Aizawa during the latter’s routine rounds of the dorm.

“You’re breaking curfew,” is Aizawa’s greeting. 

“Sorry,” Izuku mumbles. He’s tired enough to sleep, but he’s holding himself rigid so that he won’t. He needs to remember to note something in his Mental Health Shit notebook about high stress levels making his nightmares worse.

“Any particular reason?” Aizawa asks.

Izuku shrugs, trying for “detached." It’s cold in the common room and he’s shivering a little bit without his socks on. He wants nothing more than to explain to Aizawa why Izuku’s being the worst.

But Aizawa could use that information against him, or pull him out of training for more therapy, or expel him. (Would he expel Izuku? Is he just looking for an excuse to?)

“I’m gonna go back to bed now,” Izuku finally says.

“Glad to hear it,” Aizawa says, but his eyes are watching Izuku too carefully for him to really pull off dry nonchalance. He looks worried. Or maybe annoyed? "Let me know if you need something."

Izuku gets up, feeling numb, and leaves the common room. Aizawa doesn't follow him.

 

Now that the common room's been compromised by a worried Aizawa, Izuku searches for another place to go that isn't his cold dorm room. Which means he knocks on Todoroki’s door before the quirk can stop him, and a sleep-rumpled Todoroki answers the door half a minute later, squinting in the hallway light.

“Can I stay here?” Izuku asks, even though the words make his chest shriek with pain.

“What?” Todoroki asks. He blinks a few times, trying to focus on Izuku’s face. “It’s four in the morning.”

“Yes,” Izuku says. He waits another beat, and then begins to squirm under Todoroki’s confused gaze. “I can leave, if you want.”

“No,” Todoroki says. He reaches out halfway, then retracts his arm before he can touch Izuku--he must remember Izuku’s bad reaction to Todoroki grabbing him earlier. “It’s fine.”

He stands aside for Izuku to enter the room, and shuts the door behind him. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, but usually it’s the other way around because Todoroki’s nightmares are a lot more frequent than Izuku’s. So Izuku has no grounds to question whether or not this is okay, but his brain doesn’t seem to understand that.

Todoroki flops back down onto his bed and rolls to the far side, leaving ample room for Izuku, and Izuku gingerly lies down next to him, squeezing his eyes shut and curling up against the literal agony that’s been battering him since he stepped through the door. 

Is it worth it? the quirk taunts, but it's struggling to come up with a valid nefarious reason for why Todoroki would continue to let Izuku share a bed with him. So his brain switches tactics, and begins saying, you know he won’t trust you for help if you’re this fragile on your own. And if you ever cross him he won’t hesitate to use this against you in front of everyone and then nobody will take you seriously ever again.

Izuku can only try and breathe through the pain in his lungs. He counts out breaths in his head, and he wraps his arms tight around his stomach to try and comfort himself, and he wonders if he should just get up and leave once Todoroki falls asleep again. 

Todoroki eventually rolls over to face Izuku, and watches Izuku through half-lidded eyes. His ankle overlaps one of Izuku’s, either on purpose or on accident, and Izuku’s torn between being comforted and thinking he’s going to beat the shit out of you if you move a single fucking inch and he realizes he’s touching you.  

“Wanna talk about it?” Todoroki mumbles, mostly into his pillow, mostly asleep again already. 

“It’s--I can’t talk about it yet,” Izuku says.

“Okay,” Todoroki says simply. Trusting. 

“Sorry I woke you up.”

“Whatever,” Todoroki says, and rolls his eyes. “I do it to you all the time.”

Izuku laughs. It’s not a happy sound, and it makes Todoroki wince. “Yeah, but--” But you have an actual reason to be upset, usually, and I’m just too weak to deal with the effects of a quirk for one day even though I got through my first eight years of school all by myself. 

“I refuse to get mad at you for having emotions,” Todoroki says.

“That’s fair,” Izuku breathes, even though it feels like there are spikes clogging up his vocal cords.

“Are you gonna sleep?” Todoroki asks. 

Izuku shrugs. While he’s usually able to trick his body into sleep when his normal chronic pain flares up, the added stress of all this fucking trust he wants to give to Todoroki is a little too much right now.

They don’t talk after that. Todoroki turns back over to give Izuku some space, but Izuku ends up scooting closer and hesitantly latching onto Todoroki from behind. His reasoning is that if Todoroki moves, then Izuku will know and can defend himself, and this quiets the pain long enough for Izuku to drift off again. The nonviolent physical contact helps, too. 

It helps enough that he doesn’t dream again, which is all he could have hoped for.

 

Izuku knows that he’s not supposed to make himself the one-man defense squad of every quirkless kid at UA. He’s been chastised by Aizawa multiple times for getting in fights with bullies, and it's taken a few scoldings to get Izuku to run get an adult in those situations instead of leaping into combat against fellow students.

This morning, though, all that character growth has been thrown out the window.

Izuku has slept in too late to get breakfast, because Todoroki had gotten ready too quietly to wake him up (it’s a miracle that Todoroki “Number One Violent Sleeper” Shouto hadn’t woken him up with any weird thrashing or kicking, but Izuku might have just been sleeping so deeply that he hadn’t felt it). 

The change in schedule means that Izuku ends up entering the main building a few minutes off from when he usually does, with Kirishima next to him. Kirishima skips breakfast most days, but today, Izuku’s suspicious that Kirishima’s just trying to keep an eye on him, for some reason.

It’s the departure from his normal routine that allows Izuku to see what happens along some of the lockers on the second floor. It’s a 3-B kid, tall and broad, looming over a first-year support course kid who Izuku knows doesn’t have a quirk. 

(Izuku has a list. Did he have to break a few UA-handbook rules to get this list? Maybe. Are quirkless kids safer now that Izuku can keep an eye out for them? Definitely.)

Nobody’s saying anything--nobody’s doing anything. 

Izuku glances down the hall and sees Snipe walking away, unaware of the scene. ( Snipe wouldn’t do anything, no teacher would do anything, quirkless kids exist to be pushed around like this and Izuku’s the only one who thinks differently). 

Izuku tries to call out to the teacher anyway--because that’s what he’s supposed to do. As expected, the same white-hot pain from yesterday slams through his chest, and he stumbles.

“Woah,” Kirishima says, as Izuku careens into him. “Dude! Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

Izuku closes his mouth, and the pain recedes. “I’m good,” he manages, and regains his balance with Kirishima’s help. "Could you hold my backpack for a second?"

"Yes," Kirishima says, though he looks a bit apprehensive as he takes the bookbag.

"Thanks," Izuku says. And then he charges directly at the 3-B kid.  

Leave him alone,” Izuku shouts, and the 3-B kid doesn’t even get a good look at him before Izuku’s plowed into him shoulder-first, sending the kid sprawling across the tile floor, sending students scrambling out of his wake.

“Midoriya, stop!” Kirishima says from behind him, which does absolutely nothing to deter Izuku. 

Izuku turns to look at the first-year, who scrambles to get his things and slams his locker shut and flashes Izuku a grateful glance before hurrying off down the hallway. Good

The 3-B kid gets back to his feet, angry. “What the fuck--oh, great, it’s Deku.”

A few bystanders laugh, and while it’s probably at the 3-B kid’s expense, Izuku falters just long enough to get punched in the face because his mind won’t stop focusing on the laughter (they must be laughing at him they can’t wait for someone to punch Izuku back into his place). His head snaps to the side, and he falls back a few steps, but someone steadies him and shoves him back towards the fight. 

“You can’t just pick on whoever you want,” Izuku insists, regaining his balance, blinking rapidly against a watery eye that’s definitely going to turn into a shiner. “That’s not what heroes do.”

“You didn’t even try to find out the full story, you sanctimonious asshole,” the 3-B student says, and swings at Izuku again. Izuku dodges, and grabs the kid’s arm, and throws him back to the ground. Izuku’s much smaller, but he’s a lot denser , so he uses that to his advantage. 

The kid groans. The crowd oohs in sympathy, and Izuku hears someone say, “I’m getting a teacher,” just as the 3-B student snarls and sweeps Izuku’s legs out from under him and Izuku tumbles to the ground.

Izuku wheezes, trying to get breath back into his lungs. He can’t use his quirk because that’d definitely get him suspended, so he doesn’t have the same resilience he usually relies on in combat. 

The bell rings, startling everyone around them into rushing off to class, but this doesn’t stop the 3-B kid from pinning Izuku and growling into his face, “Don’t try this shit again, or you’ll regret it.”

“You pick on people who can’t fight back,” Izuku spits. “You think I’m scared of you?”

Hey,” says an entirely different voice, and Izuku feels the blood drain from his face.

“Scared now?” the 3-B kid taunts under his breath, but he looks just as caught as Izuku feels. 

Aizawa’s capture weapon heaves the kid up, off of Midoriya’s chest, and then drags Midoriya upright as well, so both of them are faced with the disapproving glare that Aizawa’s giving them. The crowd has mostly dispersed, now that Aizawa’s shown up, but having less witnesses around doesn’t make Izuku feel any less scrutinized.

“What’s going on here?” Aizawa asks, dangerously quiet. 

He won’t believe you even if you tell the truth , Izuku’s brain says. 

Kirishima’s lurking a little ways down the hallway, watching anxiously, and when neither Izuku nor the 3-B kid offer any information, he runs forward and puts himself between Izuku and Aizawa and says, “Sensei, Midoriya was just trying to protect a support student, I saw him.”

The 3-B student scoffs, angry. “That’s not true. He attacked me out of nowhere , and now he’s gonna get his 2-A lackey to back him up.”

“Midoriya?” Aizawa asks, expecting a defense. 

Izuku wants to tell the truth--Aizawa values fairness, and he’d understand. He’d at least give Izuku a chance.

(No he wouldn’t, teachers hate Izuku, teachers are just glad that there are students who will beat up Izuku so that they don’t have to.)

Still, Izuku overcomes the ramblings of his quirk-addled brain and opens his mouth to answer honestly, and a tidal wave of pain rips through him. 

He gags, and convulses, and Aizawa startles and drops him onto the floor. 

“Of course he’s gonna play sick now, ” the 3-B kid says somewhere. “I hate 2-A.”

Izuku gets to hands and knees, his arms shaking, but the pain is, of course, gone as soon as he resolves not to tell Aizawa a word. “Sorry,” he mumbles, as soon as his nausea has resided.

Aizawa has dropped to his side, has a steadying hand on the center of Izuku's back, has lowered his voice. “Where are you injured?” he asks.

Izuku can't breathe.

“I barely touched him. It was self-defense because he pile-drived me out of nowhere!”

“I didn’t ask you,” Aizawa says coolly over his shoulder. He twists in the opposite direction to face Kirishima. “Kirishima, I’ll write you a note to take him to Recovery Girl. We’ll resolve this after he’s fixed up.”

"You got it," Kirishima says.

"Come on up, kid," Aizawa says, and then his and Kirishima’s strong hands pull Izuku back to his feet. Izuku’s glad enough not to be chewed out yet that he lets Kirishima take most of his weight, and accepts the concerned glance that Aizawa bestows on him.

"I'd like to speak with you afterwards," Aizawa tells Izuku, before rounding on the 3-B kid, and Kirishima tugs on Izuku's hand until he starts moving.

The two of them start down the hallway, and Izuku doesn’t let go of Kirishima’s hand until they’re around the corner (despite the fact that his hands start prickling with violent pins and needles, urging him to let go and not to put too much faith in Kirishima’s support).

“Holy shit, dude,” Kirishima breathes, once they’re out of Aizawa’s sight. “What were you thinking ?”

Izuku releases Kirishima and stands on his own two feet, still trying to take deep breaths to get his heart rate back down. “He was picking on that quirkless kid. That’s not what a hero student should be doing.”

“We coulda just gotten Aizawa to begin with,” Kirishima says, but he doesn’t have much conviction to his words. “Are you okay, though? You looked like you had a seizure or something for a few seconds there.”

“I’m good,” Izuku says firmly. “You don’t have to take me to Recovery Girl; I don’t want you to have to miss class for me.”

“Good thing you aren’t quirkless anymore, or that’d be you getting beat up,” Kirishima says. “And there wouldn’t have been anyone to stand up for you.”

Izuku’s throat goes dry. He stares at Kirishima a beat too long, horrified, and soon Kirishima shakes his shoulders and says, “Dude, did you hear me? Of course I want to take you to Recovery Girl, I wanna make sure you’re okay.”

“Right,” Izuku breathes. He feels like someone’s taken a melon baller to his chest, but this time that’s not a direct effect of the quirk. “I’m fine, actually. Can we just go to class?”

“Um,” Kirishima says. He looks concerned. “No. Let’s go get you an ice pack, at least.”

“Okay,” Izuku says. He lets Kirishima take his arm again to guide him forward, and ignores that this trusting act sends slivers of pain shooting up his arm. 

 

It’s not until Recovery Girl has shrunk his black eye to a only-a-little-swollen green ring under his eye and sent him off to class with Kirishima and an ice pack that Kirishima asks, “Hey, man. I mean this in the nicest way possible. Are you sure you didn’t get hit by Reinforce’s quirk yesterday?”

Izuku wants to leave school and sit in his dorm room until this blows over. “I’m pretty sure. Why?”

“You can trust me,” Kirishima tells him, open and honest and sturdy like he always is. “I remember dealing with that shit all by myself before I told my moms, and it was ass .”

Izuku isn’t stupid enough this time to open his mouth to respond--he knows that the pain won’t be worth it. 

“So you did get hit,” Kirishima says, like Izuku’s silence is a confirmation. “What’s the instinct she reinforced for you?”

“I didn’t,” Izuku insists, too late. He’s getting choked up, which doesn’t make him look any more innocent. “I don’t need your help.”

“Ouch, dude,” Kirishima says. “Like I need any more reason to cut you off, right? The least you can do is be grateful that I committed social suicide by standing up for you in front of Aizawa.”

Izuku blinks. His brain says it was only a matter of time.

Something in his chest says, Kirishima would never say that to me

He opens his mouth to say I’m getting those hallucinations you told me about but an icy bolt of pain lances through his head, front to back, and that shuts him up immediately.

“Jeez,” Kirishima says, and shakes his head, when no response comes from Izuku. “You don't have to tell me, but. Just remember I’m here for you, bro.”

“Got it,” Izuku lies. His ice pack drips down his arm, and he feels alone.

 

“I thought we’d talked about this enough,” Aizawa says, staring him down, “but apparently we need to do this one more time.”

Izuku fidgets where he’s sitting in a front-row desk across from where Aizawa’s sitting on the table at the front of the empty classroom. He wilts under Aizawa’s intense stare and wrings his hands and tries to develop a secondary quirk to let him teleport anywhere else in the world. He wonders how discreetly he can activate Full Cowling, how fast he can zip out of the room and if it'll be fast enough to do before Aizawa erases his quirk.

“I’ve already talked with a few different people who saw what happened,” Aizawa says. He crosses his arms, but something about his face doesn’t look quite angry. “I still need to talk to you and get your story.”

Izuku stays quiet. His throat gets sore whenever he begins to think about telling Aizawa anything.

“Kirishima let me know that you may have been subjected to a quirk while on patrol yesterday,” Aizawa tells him. “Does that have something to do with this?”

Izuku’s surprised by the huge feeling of betrayal that consumes him suddenly. He hadn’t thought Kirishima would tell anyone--even if Kirishima was upset about Izuku’s behavior earlier, Kirishima’s not a snitch .

“He was right to tell me. Can you tell me what specifically we're dealing with, so that I can support you? I'm worried about the emotional repercussions of the quirk.”

He’s going to expel you if you tell him anything about how you were treated before UA. He’s going to tell the whole class that you’re a pathetic quirkless loser at heart even if you’re all dressed up with a quirk you stole from the best hero of all time. 

He’s gonna tell you that you should’ve just hurled yourself off the roof when Kacchan told you to.

There are only a few more hours of this quirk before Izuku can rest. But Aizawa’s steady glare is making Izuku panic and forget everything logical about the situation--even if he doesn’t fully trust Aizawa, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want Aizawa to like him.

Don’t tell him anything, his brain screams. This is another logical ruse so he can fucking crush your heart with his heel.

Outside of stupid class exercises he’s never given you a personal reason to distrust him, another part of him says, even louder.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa says, gaze unwavering, but his next words come in a completely different tone. “I don’t know how you think you’re going to be a top hero when you can’t even trust right.”

Izuku breaks.

“I can’t,” Izuku chokes out, ignoring the burn of bile in his throat that accompanies this confession. 

“Can’t what?” Aizawa asks, alarmed.

Despite the pain and tears that start clouding his vision, Izuku says, “I can’t. It hurts.”

“What hurts?” Aizawa immediately slides off the table and approaches him. “Point to where.”

Izuku gestures to all of himself, and half-sobs, half-laughs. “It hurts. I can’t make it stop.

“Where does it hurt?” Aizawa asks. His face remains calm, somehow, even as his voice sounds urgent. “Midoriya, I need you to trust me. What’s wrong?”

Izuku breathes through his nose, trying to exert his usual inhuman pain tolerance. Aizawa’s hands are suddenly on his shoulders and they’re strong and grounding, even though Izuku’s brain tries to spin it to the negative with a scream of he’s going to hurt you if you don’t hurt him first . “I can’t...trust. It hurts when I do, I promise I’m not--I’m not trying to be difficult it just--I can't make it stop.”

His hand is grabbing the front of Aizawa’s hoodie but he can’t feel it at all. He can’t feel anything else but pain. 

“Okay,” Aizawa tells him. Maybe he's said "okay" a few times now--Izuku's only just tuned back in. “Don’t hurt yourself. It’s going to be over soon.”

“Yeah,” Izuku gasps, and then lapses back into silence. The pain lapses, too, as soon as he’s done admitting things, and both he and Aizawa exhale in relief when Izuku stops trembling under the weight of it.

“Holy shit, kid,” Aizawa says. His eyes are suspiciously shiny. “You’ve been dealing with that by yourself since yesterday?”

“I’ve just always dealt with it,” Izuku says, and winces at the brief flare-up that accompanies that sentence-- and winces because Aizawa looks like Izuku’s just personally stabbed him in the chest.

Aizawa gracefully moves on from this, for both their sakes. “I’m going to pull you out of patrol rotation this evening so that you can recover.”

Before Izuku’s brain can take this information and run with it, Aizawa pointedly clarifies, “Not because I think you’re incapable, but because Kirishima said the quirk left him feeling wiped out, and you already didn’t sleep much last night.”

Then Aizawa says, “And of course because I don’t want frauds like you representing UA,” but it’s such a tonal dissonance that Izuku rules it a hallucination and ignores it (even if Aizawa thought that, he wouldn’t say it to Izuku’s face).

“--And if you honestly think you’re okay in class, then I won’t excuse you, but that’s always an option if you need it,” Aizawa tells him. He lets go of Izuku’s shoulders and steps back, breaking Izuku’s pathetic grip on his shirt.

“Class will be fine, I think. Is that all?” Izuku asks.

“I wish you’d come to me for help before we get to this point,” Aizawa says. "Just once."

“Haha,” Izuku says. He scrubs at his eyes.

Aizawa sighs. “Do you have someone else that you can get help from, if it’s too painful to talk to me?”

Izuku thinks of Todoroki, then Uraraka, then Iida and Kirishima. They all come to him sometimes, so it would only be fair to expect them to return the favor--Kirishima had literally offered to help, but Izuku had shoved him away to reduce the amount of pain he’d been in.

He only offered because he felt obligated. You’re fucking worthless and somehow you’ve convinced people otherwise but that won’t last long--Todoroki already knows you’re falling apart and that’s why he left this morning without waking you up.

“Yeah, there are a few people,” Izuku says tonelessly. “Thanks.”

He walks out the door having miraculously escaped punishment for instigating a fight. Weird, because crying in front of a teacher has never worked before.

 

Class is a haze. Izuku doesn’t exert much trust in class, because historically class is one of the least safe places to be, so he’s able to mentally check out as the pain lulls. He even falls asleep with his eyes open in English, which Kaminari informs him of afterwards, but that’s not important. What’s important is Izuku surviving the day and then getting to his dorm without further destroying his chances of ever having friends again. 

So far, the only antidote to the quirk has been completely severing human connection, but at UA, Izuku’s grown accustomed to how touchy-feely his friends are (even when they hit him, it’s in a friendly way, which is still foreign to him). Izuku's not willing to snap at his friends for showing affection, even though their pats on the back hurt today.

There has to be another way to supercede the quirk’s effects, if only for a few minutes. 

In the second-to-last period of the day, Izuku’s gaze falls on Shinsou, and he thinks maybe he has a shot of getting out of this. 

They’re almost-friends. Before this hell day, Izuku would have considered them real friends, but the wary look that Shinsou gives him as he approaches after History knocks Izuku down a peg. 

“Hi, Shinsou,” Izuku greets, trying to be smiley. “Can I ask a favor?”

“What is it?” Shinsou asks. He shoves his notebook into his backpack. “I have class halfway across campus after this, and I’ve already been late four times.”

“I’ll walk with you,” Izuku offers, and trails after Shinsou without waiting for Shinsou to agree to this. 

“What’s the favor?” Shinsou asks, walking at a fast enough clip for Izuku to suspect he’s trying to shake Izuku.

“Do you think maybe you could, just a little bit, brainwash me for two seconds?”

“What the hell?” Shinsou asks. He looks uncomfortable. Maybe he thinks Izuku’s trying to pull a practical joke on him, somehow. 

“Please,” Izuku says. If Shinsou brainwashes him, maybe it’ll negate the previous quirk, or at least put Izuku out of his misery for a few minutes--or maybe it’ll fry Izuku’s brain entirely and Izuku won’t have to worry about it either way. “Just a little bit!”

“I don’t really use it outside of training,” Shinsou hedges, uncomfortable. He’s mentioned something about people in his past being weird about his quirk, so Izuku understands his apprehension, but he really needs Shinsou to try. “Why do you need me to do it?”

Izuku says, “Uh,” because he hasn't thought of an excuse. 

“Last time I used it on you you broke your own finger to snap out of it,” Shinsou continues. “And I have to get to class and I really don’t want you to do that in front of me right now.”

“Fair enough,” Izuku says, and falls silent for a few minutes before wheedling, “If I promise not to break my finger would you--”

“Oh my God, why are you so annoying?” Shinsou stops walking and glares, but it seems more like exasperation than genuine anger (it seems more like an Aizawa glare than a Kacchan one). “I’ll do it for two seconds on one condition: promise me this isn’t, like, a kinky thing.”

Izuku says, “What?” and then he’s pulled under the effects of Shinsou’s quirk, and rather than the relief he’d hoped for, all he feels is pain.

It hurts worse than breaking every bone in his body. He can’t think straight--before, at the sports festival, in training, anytime he’s done this , he could at least maintain a twilight-dim level of consciousness, but now all he feels is that he hurts . His body is cracking apart at the atomic level. He doesn’t remember his name, he doesn’t know--

It’s over within the two promised seconds, and Izuku resurfaces and finds himself on the ground with Shinsou collapsed next to him, unconscious.

“Shinsou?” Izuku asks, alarmed, but he doesn’t get a response.

There’s a group of people crowding around them in the hallway, chattering worriedly, some of them louder than others. Izuku forces himself up into a sitting position, and shakes Shinsou’s shoulder. 

“Hey,” he says, a note of panic in his voice. “Hey, are you--”

“What the--Midoriya?” comes someone’s voice, breaking through the chatter. It honestly could be anyone in his class. Izuku’s too out-of-it to parse it. “Is that Shinsou?!”

“Get Aizawa,” Izuku tells them, and goes back to trying to shake Shinsou awake.

“What happened?” the person asks, and of course it’s Kaminari, who’s going to completely lose his mind over this. Izuku’s already losing his mind over this, and there needs to be at least one person in the situation who can calm the hell down. 

Shinsou stirs. He groans, and blinks, disoriented. He frowns at Izuku, sort of foggy, and mumbles, “What the hell is wrong with your head?”

“I’m sorry,” Izuku says, tears swelling up in his throat. “I really thought it would work--that was stupid of me, I’m so sorry--”

“Shut,” is all Shinsou manages to say before he turns his head and pukes, to cries of disgust from Kaminari and the gathered crowd. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and groans, “I’m gonna be late to class.”

“You’re worried about class ?” Kaminari exclaims, loud enough that Izuku and Shinsou both flinch.

Izuku says again, “I’m so sorry--”

“Shut up,” Shinsou says, and blindly reaches a hand out until Kaminari grabs it and helps hoist him back up to his feet. He staggers a few steps, but Izuku shoots up to steady him on his other side until Shinsou’s being solely held up by Izuku and Kaminari. 

“Midoriya, I’m going to kill you in real life,” Shinshou informs him.

Kaminari says, “He knocked you out with his brain?”

“Yeah,” Izuku says. He must've overestimated Shinsou's pain tolerance. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t think it would--”

“It’s fine,” Shinsou says, but it sounds like he’s lying. He releases Izuku and fully leans on Kaminari, which is a dismissal if Izuku’s ever felt one. “I didn’t do the homework anyway. Please just go deal with your shit.”

 

Izuku crosses a line that he hasn’t purposefully crossed since getting to UA: he skips class out of self-preservation and texts All Might to please excuse him from the last period of the day and he doesn’t stop moving until he’s safe in his room again. 

His phone rings as he’s taken some painkillers and slumped onto his bed. Unsurprisingly, it’s Toshinori, who’s rightfully alarmed at Izuku’s weird text.

“Can you promise me you’re not doing some illicit anti-villain activities?” Toshinori asks. He’s whispering. Izuku wonders if he’s talking to Izuku while standing at the front of a classroom full of students.

“I can one hundred percent promise that,” Izuku assures him. 

“Well, I guess I could pull some strings then, if you’re actually sick. You do know I’m not your legal guardian, right?” 

Izuku says, “Not yet.”

“I don’t know what you’re implying. Is that a threat?” Toshinori asks, but he’s under a time constraint so he ends this line of conversation and says, “You’re not hiding something dangerous, right?”

“I’m totally one hundred percent not hiding anything,” Izuku lies through his teeth.

“I’d never get laid so low by a level-one villain’s quirk, and I think it’s shameful that you have,” Toshinori hisses. Before Izuku can react to this tonal whiplash, Toshinori says, “Alright. Well, I’ll write a note. And I’ll prepare some soup for you if you'd like!”

“Great,” Izuku says, even though Toshinori’s first comment has knocked him so far off-balance that he's about to burst into tears. “Thanks, All Might!”

He hangs up, and puts his phone down, and muffles distressed crying into his pillow for the next forty-five minutes.

 

Izuku hits the last hour before the quirk’s supposed to wear off, and it all starts to crescendo.

No matter how many times he mutters to himself just fifty-six minutes, just fifty-six minutes, just fifty-five-and-a-half minutes, he can’t do it anymore. Even though he's not in the same sharp pain while he's shut up in his room, his brain won't stop racing. And the auditory hallucinations aren't helping, either.

Kirishima had made it sound like acquiescing to the quirk's demands would make it go away--but Izuku supposes it's easier to do something (like making sure his friends are okay) than not do something (like avoiding creating meaningful relationships with anyone in his life).

He gets a text from Shinsou that says, “you good yet? in the common room if you need someone” and he begins to weigh the pros and cons of venturing outside of his room.

Another flare-up sends him backwards on the bed, blinking tears out of his eyes, and he decides he’s had enough.

His classmates might shun him forever for bursting into the common room in near hysterics, but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other. He runs down the hallway and down three flights of stairs and emerges on the ground level, and then runs down another hallway until he’s reached the common room.

The whole way, his brain is saying turn around and go back to your room. Don’t you want to have friends who respect you? Don’t you want anyone to like you?

He finds Todoroki on the couch, and Uraraka and Tsuyu sprawled on the floor doing homework, and Shinsou half-asleep in an armchair, clearly still recuperating from the ordeal earlier. All of them look up at Izuku’s dramatic entrance, and two out of the four rush to stand when Izuku says, “I lied about getting hit by that quirk yesterday,” and then doubles over and tastes bile in his mouth.

It’s Uraraka and Tsuyu who grab him and drag him over to the couch, Uraraka explaining the quirk at two hundred miles an hour for Tsuyu’s benefit. Izuku finds himself sitting down close enough to lean into Todoroki, which he readily does, and Todoroki doesn’t move away. In fact, he puts an arm around Izuku’s shoulders to keep him there. 

(The feeling of being held like this sends painful needle-pricks wherever he makes contact, but Izuku won’t move. Underneath all that pain, it feels safe.)

Shinsou, while he hasn’t gotten up fully, is now sitting upright, nervous. “Has it gotten worse?”

“It’s fine,” Izuku reassures him. “It shouldn’t last longer than an hour!”

“Okay, well, I’m not trusting you to gauge your pain level again, obviously,” Shinsou says. He gets snippy when he’s stressed out.

“I think we should get Aizawa,” Uraraka says, trying desperately to keep her voice light, probably because Izuku’s mildly hyperventilating in an attempt to regulate the pain he’s in. “Or maybe Kirishima? He’s dealt with this before.”

“We should listen to what Midoriya needs,” Tsuyu says, and blinks at Izuku expectantly.

Izuku says, gritting his teeth against the expected pain, “It really hurts right now . Could you just sit with me? Please.” 

It comes out sounding pathetic , but nobody bats an eyelash at it, and Tsuyu climbs onto the couch on his right, and Uraraka drapes herself over Tsuyu to get pretty much the same access to Izuku as her girlfriend, and Shinsou gives a supportive thumbs-up from across the room because he’s cuddle-puddle-averse (any other day, Izuku would be doing his part to change this, but he can’t take one more person near him right now, pain-wise).

Izuku still isn’t breathing correctly. Even with all of the physical contact that would normally keep him grounded, he can’t stay focused, and he drifts in and out of a haze of pain, even as his classmates try to keep a conversation going to keep him engaged. With all his baggage with trusting people, he hadn’t realized that he already trusted them this much. Enough that being semi-conscious around them right now is making his teeth ache inside his skull.

He drifts off a few times, but the inherent trust in falling asleep on Todoroki’s shoulder makes his entire skeleton erupt with pain, and he jolts awake twice, three times before Todoroki says, trying valiantly to put him at ease, “We’re not going to let anything happen to you.”

“That’s the problem,” Izuku tries to joke, but he’s frustrated and he sounds a little more hostile than he means to. His hands won’t stop shaking . “Ugh. I’m sorry for bothering you guys, I should just--”

“Deku, shut up and let us care about you,” Uraraka says, unmoved. “Would you want us to go off to deal with this kind of thing alone?”

“No,” Izuku says. “But that’s different.”

(It’s different because it’s Izuku , and they all seem nice now but if they’d known him in middle school they would have stood by while he got pummeled into the ground, physically and emotionally, week after week after week after week.)

“It’s really not,” Tsuyu says. She’s usually more sympathetic than Uraraka, but she doesn’t move to let Izuku stand up either. “How long do you have left?”

“Nineteen minutes,” he says, after checking his watch. Impossibly, the pain ratchets up higher, determined to make his life hell until the quirk wears off.

“Piece of cake,” Todoroki says dryly. He’s tense, almost as tense as Izuku, probably because Izuku’s gripping his hand so hard both their knuckles are white. “Do you want us to call your dad to come see you?”

“My who now?” Izuku asks. “Oh. No, you don’t need to call All Might.”

(He thinks of Toshinori seeing him like this and saying This has been obvious to me for a long time but I was wrong to choose you as successor , and that banishes all desire to invite him over.)

“Honestly, it makes sense that you didn’t have friends before UA. You’re so high-maintenance,” Uraraka says matter-of-factly a few minutes later.

Shinsou nods, and the side of his mouth quirks up. “You’re so annoying. Do you honestly think you’re gonna be able to be anything close to a Symbol of Peace?”

Izuku pleads, “Stop,” and everyone turns to look at him. They look angry, his brain whispers, glad that he’s paying attention again. Todoroki’s gonna shove you onto the floor and you’re gonna be alone until you die.

“What’s wrong?” Uraraka asks, back in her concerned tone from before.

“I didn’t mean to--” Izuku chokes on a flare-up, and has to start over. “I didn’t mean to bother you all, if you need to study for the quiz tomorrow--” Please don’t leave me, is what he wants to say, under all that, but saying that out loud would hurt.

“Midoriya, keep breathing,” says Todoroki, quiet. 

“We really just became friends with you because you were All Might’s favorite,” Tsuyu says, her harsh words mismatching with her worried expression. “And then after that it would’ve been too awkward to tell you to go away.”

“If we beat your ass, would you tell Aizawa?” says Uraraka. 

“I wouldn’t,” Izuku promises, but they knew that already. 

“You wouldn’t...?” Uraraka asks, her face creased with concern.

“You just said--” Izuku laughs, uncomfortable, but nobody else is amused. “Uh. What did you just say?”

“I said, there’s tea in the kitchen. Have you eaten today?”

Izuku hasn’t. But the rolling in his stomach is going to last for the next...twelve minutes, so he just stares at her without answering.

“Earth to Deku,” Tsuyu says, and then lets out a sigh. “You make it so difficult to care about you. I wish you’d just disappear already.”

Izuku, too late, remembers Kirishima’s warning about the effects getting worse the more he goes against its wishes--and he’s been on a trusting streak the past half hour, which explains why he feels like his internal organs are getting peeled like potatoes. 

Tsuyu wouldn’t say that to him

Uraraka reaches out towards his face. Izuku tenses up, ducks his head, thinks she’s going to hit him or yank his hair or flat-palm his ear so his eardrum pops--like the other kids did to Izuku in middle school whenever he cried for no reason. Uraraka, not fazed by Izuku curling away from her, pushes his sweaty bangs off of his forehead to try and cool him down.

“I feel like I told you to breathe a couple minutes ago,” Todoroki reminds him, and Izuku manages half of a laugh at that. The cool air on his forehead does feel good, even if the burning sensation he gets when he relaxes against Uraraka’s hand doesn’t feel good at all.

“Did it hurt you when I used my quirk earlier?” Shinsou asks, looking like he’s considering doing it again. 

Izuku doesn’t have the energy for this. But he also doesn’t want Shinsou to knock himself out again, so he grinds out, “Yeah, really bad.”

“Did that hurt?” Shinsou asks, presumably talking about the simple act of speaking.

Izuku admits, “Yeah.”

“What the hell kind of quirk--” Uraraka looks angry. “What’s the instinct that it’s fucking reinforcing?”

“Um, distrust,” Izuku says, and the resulting agony from admitting this makes him dry-heave.

“Okay, shit,” someone says, and there’s a scramble for a trash can, but Izuku manages not to vomit. He rests back against the back of the couch once the pain has ebbed, and Shinsou sets the trash can near him so he can grab it if he needs it. 

“Distrust?” Tsuyu asks. She taps her chin. “So by the rules of the quirk, that means it hurts whenever you...trust us?”

Uraraka says, wobbly like she’s going to cry, “That’s...I don’t know whether to call it sweet or very, very disturbing that you’re in so much pain right now.”

“You can call it whatever you like,” Izuku says, staring up at the ceiling, “just don’t call it late for dinner. Haha.”

“I hate your guts,” Shinsou says. 

“What about hallucinations?” Uraraka asks. “Are you hallucinating that we actually give a shit about you? That would be hilarious.”

Izuku doesn’t look at her. It’d make it even harder for him to say, “Yeah. I think I just heard you say something you didn’t say.”

“What do you think I said?” Uraraka asks.

“Um,” Izuku says. He says, careful not to have any inflection at all, “‘Are you hallucinating that we give a shit about you? That’d be hilarious.’”

There’s an uncomfortable silence. Uraraka finally says, “I’d never say that, Deku.”

“I know,” Izuku says. But you’d think it.

“Is that the worst you’ve heard today?” Todoroki ventures, sounding like he doesn’t want to hear the answer.

“No,” Izuku admits, and his migraine only worsens. He rubs the heels of his palms into his temples and says, “Please don’t worry about it. I could usually tell when things weren’t real. It’s actually kind of fascinating how the quirk could manipulate reality around me, now that I think about it? Maybe I could--”

“How is your pain tolerance so high?” Shinsou demands. “You’re conversating with us like normal but the pain I felt earlier was insane.”

“He gets it from his dad,” Todoroki says. “Also, I think it’s ‘conversing.’”

“Todoroki--” Izuku says, amused, and then--it’s over.

The quirk breaks like a fever, and the sudden lack of pain sends him into such euphoria that he forgets what he was about to say. 

Izuku relaxes his head more against Todoroki, and no wave of pain rushes through his brain.

“We good?” Uraraka asks, sensing his change in attitude and craning her neck to look at him.

“We gucci,” Izuku says, exhausted, but he finds it in himself to reciprocate when Tsuyu squeezes his hand. She squeezes his hand and he doesn’t get a rush of she’s only caring about you as an elaborate inside joke and they’re all going to laugh about this later

At least, he doesn’t feel it more than he usually does.

“Thanks for putting up with that,” Izuku says, getting teary-eyed again. “I know you guys all missed like, an hour of studying because of me.”

“Whatever, ” Uraraka says, and cuffs him upside the head. Gently. “I’m glad you came to us when you needed us.”

Izuku gives her a watery smile. She beams back at him with a smile that could stop a war. 

“Shinsou, come over here and hug Deku with us,” Uraraka says.

“Hold on,” Shinsou says. “I’m texting Aizawa. He’s been really stressed about Midoriya and I just wanted to--”

He takes a picture with his phone without giving Izuku time to prepare. Bastard.

“Perfect,” Shinsou says, and snorts as he rapidly types on his phone. “Give me a second.”

Tsuyu taps Izuku’s wrist and says, “The thing you thought you heard from Uraraka earlier. I want to make sure you know that it wasn’t real.”

Izuku ducks his head, embarrassed. “Yeah. I shouldn’t have told you guys--”

“Shh,” Uraraka says. “Let the woman speak.”

“It’s not true, and we care about you for real,” Tsuyu tells Izuku again, more pointedly. “This entire class loves you.”

“Right,” Izuku says, overwhelmed. “Thanks. I, uh, love you guys too.”

It’s the first time he’s said it in so many words. It makes Uraraka brighten, and Tsuyu nod appreciatively. Shinsou’s just staring at him with a weird look on his face (Izuku doesn’t know what this particular stare means but he’s willing to give Shinsou the benefit of the doubt). Izuku can’t see much of Todoroki out of his peripheral vision, but Todoroki doesn’t toss him off the couch for being stupid, so he figures Todoroki cares, in his own repressed way. 

“Say it again for Snapchat,” Uraraka says, pulling out her phone. Izuku finds himself snorting a genuine laugh and using the last of his energy to kick the phone out of her hand onto the floor.