The first mark Izuku gets is a slight brush of green across his temple. It’s the soft touch of a mother holding her son for the first time. Inko has one to match, the same shade of green staining the tips of her fingers. Hers is more noticeable; Izuku’s tends to blend into his hairline.
He loves it anyways. He has to. It’s the only soulmate mark he has.
(But not the only one he receives. There was once another, one that Izuku himself doesn’t remember, but it’s in all of his baby photos. A bright splash of dragon’s breath red across Izuku’s little hand. He tries to imagine when it happened, how his father must’ve leaned over the hospital bed and smiled as he held his son’s hand for the first time. Kinda hard, when he doesn’t remember what his father looks like.
Hisashi left when Izuku was two, and he took Izuku’s second soulmate mark with him.)
(And there’s one more: a light dusting of soot black across his knuckles, from where his hand brushed against Kacchan’s when he handed him an All Might figurine. How excited they’d been, when that happened. How quickly it had disappeared, when Izuku told Kacchan he’s Quirkless.)
Izuku wants to be happy with the one he has, he really does. But everyone around him, even his mother, has rainbows painted across their skin.
And Izuku? He’s colorless.
He stares at his blank skin, and he wishes.
The other kids won’t touch him.
No one wants to be soulmates with the Quirkless kid, they say. Izuku doesn’t bother to point out that it wouldn’t matter if they touched him anyways. These are marks of love, and none of them love him.
It’s some sort of game to them. They figure out ways to hurt him without touching his skin. They throw his books in the trash, his shoes into the toilet when he’s not looking. They wrap their fists in their jackets before punching him. Sometimes, they’ll play nice, pretend to be friendly for a day, and then they lean in and reach to touch him and Izuku gets so excited, so hopeful, before they laugh in his face and run away. Izuku only falls for that one a couple times before he stops hoping.
The only one who doesn’t participate is Bakugou. He’s not afraid to touch Izuku because he already has, and they’re not soulmates. Not anymore. He leaves different kinds of marks instead, scrapes and bruises and burns in the shape of stars.
(Izuku doesn’t bother pointing out that Bakugou barely has more soulmarks than him. For some reason, it doesn’t matter to the others. What is a weakness on Izuku is a strength on Bakugou, apparently.)
He takes to wearing long sleeves, even when it’s hot, in the hopes that maybe if they don’t constantly get reminded of Izuku’s bare skin, they’ll forget about it. (In the hopes that maybe he’ll forget about it too, if only for a moment.)
It doesn’t work.
Sometimes, Izuku likes to pretend.
When his mom is busy at work or preparing dinner, he hides in his room and takes out his markers. He closes his eyes and picks a color at random. Not green, because he already has one like that. But once the marker is in his hand, Izuku rolls up his sleeves and lets the tip glide over his skin, and he imagines who would leave that mark. What they would look like. What their name would be. What it would be like to be loved by more than one person.
When reality comes crashing down around him again, Izuku goes to the bathroom and scrubs his skin until all of the color is gone again, and he pretends not to feel the tears stinging at his eyes.
His mother finds out. She always does.
It happens on a particularly bad day, when Bakugou was just this side of too rough and his shoulder is burning and aching. The pain distracts him from the clock, makes him lose track of time. He doesn’t notice when she gets home, not until she’s knocking softly and opening his door.
Izuku moves as quickly as he can, sweeping the markers under the bed and hastily pulling his sleeves down. But the damage has already been done. Inko stands in the doorway, eyes wide and hand over her mouth, before she breaks down into tears, Izuku following close behind.
In moments, she crosses the room and pulls him into her arms, rocking him back and forth. Her fingertips brush over his temple, again and again, as if to remind him that that one is real.
(Inko doesn’t try to reassure him. She doesn’t tell him he’ll get more eventually. She doesn’t tell him that one day his skin will be a canvas for love. She’s never been able to lie to her son.)
And then he turns fourteen, and everything changes.
It doesn’t happen the first time they meet. When Izuku grabs onto All Might’s leg, there’s cloth separating his palm from the hero’s skin, and that’s the only time they actually touch for a little while. So it doesn’t happen the first time they meet, or the second, or the third.
Then, two months into their training on Dagobah Beach, Izuku trips over a pipe.
All Might, even in his weakened form, has great reflexes. He reaches out with one hand and catches Izuku around the wrist, pulling him up before he can fall. And when he pulls his hand back, there’s a ring of gold stretching all the way around Izuku’s wrist, like a big bracelet.
For a second, Izuku thinks that maybe All Might had some sort of stain on his hand, something he transferred to him. He goes to wipe at it, but then he sees All Might staring at his own hand, palm up.
Green, like Izuku’s hair.
Green, like Izuku’s eyes.
Green, like the mark Izuku left on his mother.
“Well, then,” All Might laughs awkwardly. “That’s...interesting.”
Izuku doesn’t know what to say. He’s never experienced anything like this before—are they supposed to talk about it? Do they just continue on like it didn’t happen? He doesn’t know, and the only word that comes out of his mouth when he opens it is “sorry.”
“What are you apologizing for?” All Might cocks his head to the side. There’s a soft smile on his face that Izuku doesn’t know how to interpret. “I thought this might happen. My mentor and I shared marks as well.” His expression turns to something more thoughtful, more understanding. “But it doesn’t have to mean anything yet if you don’t want it to, my b—young Midoriya.”
Doesn’t have to mean anything? Of course it means something. All Might, his childhood hero, is his soulmate . All Might loves him, or will love him. Izuku starts to speak but—
(Colorless. Unloved. Worthless.)
This must be a mistake. A fluke on the universe’s part. All Might will realize that, in a few days, and then the mark will disappear, just like his father’s, just like Bakugou’s. Izuku can tell him that now, keep him from wasting any time, but…
But Izuku has spent years staring at his unmarked skin, wishing and hoping, and now there is gold coating his wrist, and he can’t bring himself to give it up so soon, no matter how selfish that may be.
“Okay,” he says.
When Izuku gets home that night, Inko sees his wrist right away. The dishes she’s holding in the air with her Quirk crash into the sink, causing soapy water to splatter against the wall.
“Oh,” she breathes, eyes wide and shiny as he approaches, holding his wrist gingerly, like he used to when Bakugou pushed him. She gently takes his hand, studying the mark like it’s something precious, running her fingers over it like she can’t believe it’s real. Then she pulls Izuku into a hug so fierce he thinks it might actually suffocate him.
But she doesn’t ask him who it’s from. He’s grateful for that.
Then there’s Uraraka.
She almost touches him. Almost. After she keeps him from falling with her Quirk, she helps pull him upright by the wrist. If he hadn’t been wearing long sleeves, they would have touched skin-to-skin.
Irrationally, even though he knows next to nothing about this girl, he wishes they had.
But then she walks away, and the moment has passed. Izuku can still feel the warmth of her hand through his sleeve, though, and he lets the feeling carry him through the test, lets it carry his feet right back to her, lets it carry him through the air and then back down again as he falls—
She touches him.
It’s more like a slap than a touch, actually, but beneath the stinging pain is a familiar warmth, the sensation of something slotting into place.
Izuku’s arm and legs are broken, and there’s mere seconds left to get even one point so he can follow in All Might’s footsteps, but all he can think about is how much he wants to see the mark she left on him.
“Oh!” Uraraka says after she releases him, as she catches a glimpse of the green on her fingertips. “Wow! Would you look at that? I think we’re—”
The timer buzzes.
He passes out.
Luckily for Izuku, the universe did not leave him with a huge handprint across his face. It did, however, leave him with five pink fingerprints splayed over his cheekbone, matching the pads on Uraraka’s fingers.
They’re the prettiest things he’s ever seen.
He sits on the infirmary bed, waiting for Recovery Girl to come back with the x-ray scans to confirm his broken bones are healed, and he runs his fingers over the new marks over and over. The highest of them is a bare inch from his mother’s mark, and there’s something about the contrast between the light pink and the dark green that pleases him.
Staring at the mirror on the wall, Izuku holds up his golden wrist to his pink cheek and his green temple, and the resulting smile is so wide that his eyes tear up a bit.
(Maybe it’s not a fluke. Maybe he’s lovable after all.)
Which, of course, is exactly when Recovery Girl decides to walk in.
He immediately hides his hand behind his back, cheeks blushing bright red like he’s been caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to. Recovery Girl laughs, waddling over to the bed with scans that are nearly as tall as her.
“It’s a shame, you know,” she says, and Izuku’s heart tightens and braces, “that all of the students who were here for the entrance exam have already left.”
“Oh,” Izuku says, shocked. He hasn’t even thought about that. How is he supposed to get into contact with her again? That can’t be it, right? They left soulmarks on each other, there’s no way they won’t meet again.
And then Izuku remembers his total score of nothing . Maybe that is it, then.
(Will her mark fade too? How long will it take for the pink to disappear like it was never there at all?)
“I wouldn’t worry too much about it, sonny.” Recovery Girl turns back to him, a reassuring smile on her face. Her lips are a bright, harsh yellow that Izuku thought was a lipstick, but now he wonders. “I have a feeling you’ll see her again.”
For whatever reason, he believes her. Maybe it’s just desperation, but he clings onto the hope. “Thanks,” he says.
“You’re welcome. Now, let’s take a look at these scans…”
He gets into UA.
He knows it’s not possible, that you only feel something from your soulmarks when your soulmate is touching them, but Izuku swears, when the hologram is done playing, all three of his marks radiate warmth.
The second Izuku opens the door to the 1A classroom, he’s met with an excited shout, and then he’s nearly bowled over by a flash of brown hair.
“Soulmate!” Uraraka clings to him like a koala, practically vibrating with energy. Izuku’s cheeks go bright red as he realizes that nearly everyone is staring at them.
“Uh,” is all Izuku can say, because theoretically he’d known this was going to happen but that doesn’t mean he’s prepared .
“I’m so glad you got in! I knew you would!” She lets go but stays right next to him. And then, like it’s just something casual (and maybe it is to her, he thinks as he notes the other marks littering her skin), she reaches up and pats her fingertips against the pink spots on his cheek.
Each point of contact heats up like a glowing ember, emanating a pleasant heat across his skin. Unconsciously, Izuku leans into the touch, and Uraraka giggles.
“If you’re just here to meet your soulmates, then you can pack up your stuff now,” someone says behind them, and that warmth disappears as both of them turn to face the talking yellow sleeping bag on the floor. “Welcome to UA’s hero course.”
This should be interesting.
His classmates are a myriad of bright colors, both their own and the ones that others have painted on them. Ashido’s hands look like she pressed them into a paint palette, Kirishima’s marks stretch and crack whenever he uses his Quirk, Tsuyu has a line of three infant handprints going down her arm.
(He’s not jealous. He’s not.)
About ten minutes into their Quirk assessment, Iida approaches him.
Izuku attempts to clamp down on the instinctive fear that rises in him (he can still see the cold glint of Iida’s eyes as he reprimanded Izuku before the exam) but it doesn’t really work, so he ends up staring at the ground as Iida comes up next to him.
“I’m afraid I misjudged you, before,” Iida says, and Izuku glances up at him, shocked. “You saw something in the exam that the rest of us didn’t. You must be very perceptive.”
“No, I—” Izuku turns to face him, to argue, to explain that he really didn’t know, and as he does, his bare elbow brushes against Iida’s.
Something happens. Two puzzle pieces, previously so far apart, now fit together.
His elbow turns blue as Iida’s turns green.
They both stare, shocked into silence, until Iida opens his mouth.
“You know, I never learned your name.”
“It’s, um, Midoriya Izuku. Nice to...meet you?”
When Tsuyu’s tongue wraps around his waist and pulls him away from the underwater villains, it brushes over his exposed forearm. At first, Izuku thinks he somehow left a mark on himself, but then he sees the green he left on the tip of her tongue. Later, they’ll marvel over their marks together, shine some light on them and realize their greens are just a few shades apart.
Now, all they can do is fight to keep each other safe.
The USJ is probably the most terrified he’s ever felt in his life, even above the slime villain attacks, and yet he still manages to walk out of it feeling a tiny bit more loved than he did before.
A few days later, when they all gather on the field in their hero costumes for training, Izuku looks over at Bakugou. His jaw doesn’t drop, but it’s a close thing.
There, on Bakugou’s bare bicep, is the vague imprint of a fist in crimson red.
It’s new, he thinks. It has to be. It wasn’t there at the beginning of the year.
And Kirishima’s knuckles are stained with soot black.
(How long would it take for that black to disappear?)
There’s something about Todoroki that Izuku doesn’t get.
Whenever he looks at the other boy, he gets this...feeling. It’s like the first time he met Uraraka, when she kept him from falling before the entrance exam. Something hangs in the air, unresolved, ready to fall into place.
But...that can’t be right. Todoroki didn’t say a single word to him until just before the sports festival, and even that was practically a declaration of war. How can they possibly be soulmates when the only emotion Todoroki has ever shown towards him is a slight disdain?
It’s just not possible. Right?
Wrong , Izuku thinks as the side of his hand brushes against Todoroki’s jawline in his desperate attempt to get back his headband, and leaves a thin brush of green in its wake. He nearly drops the headband in his surprise, and not for the first time, he’s grateful he’s the one being carried, because otherwise he probably would have tripped.
It’s only after the cavalry battle that Izuku really gets to look at his new mark. It stretches from the middle of the side of his pinky almost down to his wrist, and just like Todoroki’s hair, it’s dual colored. Misty blue-whites and wisps of red, all twirled together.
“We need to talk.” Izuku jolts at the sound of Todoroki’s voice, looking up nervously. (What if he’s mad, what if he didn’t want this—)
But Todoroki doesn’t look mad. He doesn’t look at Izuku like he’s just a bug to crush. There’s something in his expression that Izuku can’t read, but it doesn’t seem like a threat.
“Yeah,” Izuku says. “I think we do.”
“So.” Todoroki’s gaze, half hidden in the shadows, is intense and searching. For what, Izuku doesn’t know. “We’re soulmates.”
He doesn’t say it like a question, and it certainly doesn’t sound like one, but Izuku thinks he hears one in there anyways. Slowly, uncertain of what Todoroki expects from him, exactly, he nods.
There’s a long moment in which Todoroki just looks at him. Clenching his fists, Izuku braces himself for whatever insult or punch is coming his way. But then Todoroki’s eyes flicker down to the mark he left on Izuku, and some of the tension, the wariness, drains out of the taller boy’s frame. Some sort of decision has been made, but Izuku doesn’t know what.
“Have you ever heard of,” Todoroki asks quietly, “Quirk marriages?”
Izuku knows what it feels like to burn. He’s spent his whole childhood running from the sensation and has the scars to prove it. Even now, the sound of Bakugou’s explosions still makes him flinch and remember the smell of sweet nitroglycerin.
Staring down Todoroki, cradling his broken fingers, he knows what he has to do. He knows it’s going to hurt.
Part of him doesn’t want to. Part of him just wants to leave it alone and try to win the match, announce his presence to the world like All Might said.
But then he catches a glimpse of the swirling white and red on his hand, and Izuku realizes there is no choice here.
(If he can’t save his own soulmate, how is he supposed to call himself a hero?)
As he charges, a distant part of his mind says, I hope soulmarks can’t be burnt off .
There’s another mark from the sports festival, one he doesn’t notice until he’s finally at home, curled next to his sleeping mom on the couch. It’s a light spot of purple on his forearm, something he’d assumed to be a bruise earlier and ignored. He pokes it, just to be sure, but it doesn’t hurt.
It’s the same shade of purple as Shinsou’s hair.
Distantly, Izuku remembers charging Shinsou, remembers when his arm may have first made contact with him. He hadn’t noticed anything then, too distracted by the adrenaline in his system, by the pulsing need to fight and win.
Has Shinsou noticed? Did he just not say anything? Or is he, like Izuku, just now seeing the brush stroke of green on his skin?
Izuku thinks about what it must look like, his green on Shinsou’s skin. And then he thinks about the stripe he left on Todoroki’s jaw. The green on Tsuyu’s tongue. Iida’s elbow. Uraraka’s fingertips. All Might’s palm. His mom’s hand. All of the proof that he exists, that he loves and is loved back, that he is no longer colorless unloved worthless .
Things change, after that.
Todoroki doesn’t join their little friend group right away. It’s more like a gradual absorption. Izuku invites him to eat lunch with them, and he takes a week to take him up on it. Then, upon Iida’s request, he comes to their study group. Eventually, he’s there with them all the time. (Izuku does not high five Uraraka about this. It’s totally unrelated, why do you ask, Todoroki?)
Shinsou, on the other hand, doesn’t speak to him for a couple weeks, and then is suddenly a part of the group. He just sits down at their table, in the empty spot next to Izuku, with no explanation but “I think Monoma might be related to Best Jeanist.”
Izuku grins at him as the table immediately falls into chaos.
But the most surprising change is probably how...touchy, everyone gets.
Inside and outside of class, there’s suddenly an overwhelming amount of surprise hugs, hands rubbing his back, arms slung over his shoulder, high fives—just so much contact from his friends, thrown around like it’s something casual or normal.
(It probably is, Izuku reminds himself. Not everyone grew up being shunned by most of the people around them.)
It’s a lot, at first. Izuku isn’t used to people wanting to touch him without wanting to hurt him, so when he sees someone approaching out of the corner of his eye with their hand stretched out, he tends to flinch or tense up. (No one mentions it, but he knows from their shared worried glances that they notice. He’s just glad they haven’t asked yet.)
But the thing is, even despite that—he loves it. Even when they’re not touching soulmarks together, his friends are so warm and loving, and he comes to crave their hugs. Soon enough, it becomes a regular part of their routine.
Uraraka drums her fingertips against Izuku’s cheek while they study. Iida sits elbow to elbow with him at the cafeteria table. Tsuyu lets her tongue catch Izuku’s forearm whenever they’re training together. Even Shinsou rests his arm on Izuku’s when they hang out.
Todoroki takes a bit longer to come around. He’s skittish when it comes to physical contact, more so than Izuku, so they’re all patient with him, waiting for him to come to them.
And then, one day in the library, Todoroki comes up to Izuku and sits next to him on the couch. Without a word, he lays down and wiggles his head until it’s propped up against Izuku’s thigh, and, carefully, he grabs Izuku’s hand and guides it to his jaw, so their soulmarks rest against each other. Then, he closes his eyes.
Izuku doesn’t say anything about it, then or later, but he does smile so wide it hurts his cheeks.
This new normal is unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome.
Even after they get to the hospital, even after they’re safe and Stain is gone, Izuku can’t get his body to calm down. The clock reads 3:42 in the morning, and he’s still wide awake, the loudest sound being the pounding of his heart.
He’s so close to getting up and going for a jog, injuries be damned, when Iida quietly says, “Midoriya, are you awake?”
His head snaps to Iida’s bed across the room, but all he can see is a dark mass on the bed. “Yeah,” he whispers, trying not to wake up Todoroki.
“Can you…” Iida trails off, sounding lost. It’s something so unfamiliar in Iida that Izuku almost feels like crying. (How did he miss this? How did he not realize what his soulmate was going through? Iida could have died because of his mistake—)
Izuku puts a tight lock on his thoughts. They won’t help him right now. Iida doesn’t say anything else, so he can only guess at what his friend wants. But if it’s the same thing that he wants…
As quiet as a mouse, he slips out of his bed and half tiptoes, half hops to Iida’s bed. Here, closer to his friend, there’s enough moonlight to see the way Iida’s eyes shine with unshed tears and the tight, distraught look on his face.
Iida doesn’t look at him, but he does scoot over wordlessly. Mindful of both of their injuries, Izuku climbs on the bed, curling next to Iida’s side and pressing their soulmarked elbows together.
The sheer relief that warmth brings is nearly overwhelming. Iida sighs, burying his face in Izuku’s green curls, while Izuku wraps his other hand in Iida’s nightgown.
“Can I join you?” Todoroki’s voice is low and weary as he stands over the hospital bed. His blue eye nearly glows in the dark.
They both nod, too tired for words, really. Once again, there’s a shuffling of limbs and blankets to make room. It’s a tight fit—the bed is barely sufficient for one muscled teenage boy, let alone three—but they make it work. Mostly by having Izuku and Todoroki lay on top of Iida, but it’s at least semi-comfortable, so no one complains.
As Izuku lays there, an elbow pressed to Iida’s elbow, a hand pressed against Todoroki’s jaw, he feels his heart finally slow, the last of his survival rush of adrenaline petering out at last, and he feels safe.
Every soulmark Izuku has gotten thus far has been somewhat of a surprise, simply the result of growing up thinking it was an impossibility. But when Aizawa leaves one on him, he considers completely reevaluating his perspective on what is and isn’t surprising.
It happens on a school-sanctioned field trip to Musutafu’s newest hero museum. Really, they should’ve expected a villain attack to happen while they were there, but Izuku thinks maybe the school didn’t want to jinx it by sending a bunch of teachers.
Anyways, UA’s security oversights aside, the situation isn’t that dire. It’s a crew of low-level villains, clearly inexperienced, and luckily the majority of Class 1A just received their provisional licenses. Practically nothing compared to the things they’ve already faced.
Or, so Izuku thinks, until he’s sent flying through a pane of glass and over the railing overlooking the courtyard four stories down.
Well, shit , Izuku thinks. He’s pretty sure his last words are gonna be Aoyama, don’t hit the All Might display! when all of a sudden something wraps around his midsection and yanks hard .
The breath is knocked out of him as Aizawa’s capture weapon—which he’s been trapped in enough by now to recognize—pulls him rapidly back up over the edge. Aizawa’s clearly distracted, though, because it’s with none of his usual precision. Izuku’s head hits the railing hard, sending his vision shattering into a field of stars, before the capture weapon releases him. He goes rolling across the tile floor, and without his hero costume, the glass shards tear right through his skin, burning and stinging. Eventually he hits something and comes to a stop, his body aching and his sight still swimming.
Izuku’s first instinct is to get up and keep fighting, but when he tries, a wave of dizziness hits him and his arms crumple beneath him.
The world goes sort of fuzzy and distant, after that. Izuku is aware that things are happening around him, that there’s a battle going on, but any thoughts he has on that crumble to dust and slip out of his mind before he can pursue them.
Then, out of the grey, there’s a familiar dark presence. A warm but calloused hand curls over the back of Izuku’s neck, lifting his head off the ground.
(There’s a familiar feeling as the hand makes contact, as something clicks into place, but he can’t focus long enough to recognize—)
“Midoriya,” Aizawa says, and his sensei’s vague form solidifies into something more comprehensible to Izuku’s addled mind. “Follow my finger.” The hand not holding Izuku up moves in front of his eyes, a single finger moving one way and then the other. Izuku tries to follow it, but it’s moving too fast, too blurred.
He’s not wearing his gloves, is the first thing Izuku really manages to register. The next is that while he might not be able to make out how the finger is moving, he can see the very obvious splotch of green across Aizawa’s palm. Not his green, but something brighter. Something more like—
The color of Present Mic’s eyes.
The finger stops. “Definitely a concussion,” Aizawa grumbles, more to himself than Izuku. “Hold on, problem child. The medics will be here soon.”
“Not—” Izuku coughs, his voice strangled and words slurring. “Not goin’ any-anywhere, sensei.”
His teacher snorts, and suddenly the world starts shifting again as he pulls Izuku closer, propping him up against his side. The hand on his neck stays there, the long fingers tangled in the bottom of Izuku’s curls, and he focuses on that sensation, on the warm feeling of safety that floods through him at that point, on the connection—
Suddenly, clarity reaches him through the fog of his head injury. Izuku’s eyes go wide. His hands reach up, fumbling at his neck.
“Don’t move,” Aizawa hisses, batting away Izuku’s hands with his free one. He pauses, glancing between where his hand rests on his student’s neck and Izuku’s face. “Just...we’ll talk about this later. When you’re not bleeding everywhere.”
(They do talk about it, for about three brief, stilted minutes. Just like All Might, Aizawa reassures him that it doesn’t have to mean anything if Izuku doesn’t want it to, and just like All Might, Izuku agrees because he doesn’t know what else to say. If he feels a little more comfortable, now, when Aizawa calls him problem child or sends a glare his way, well, it’s only because he knows for sure there’s affection behind it.
When Izuku tells him, Shinsou laughs, and shows him the spot on his elbow. It’s a bright, harsh yellow, just like Aizawa’s goggles, just like his sleeping bag, just like the mark curling around the back of Izuku’s neck.
He loves it.)
And then Mirio shows up out of nowhere.
(Literally. His head pops out of the wall, and Izuku spills trash everywhere while the older boy just laughs.)
He doesn’t really believe Mirio is gonna be a significant part of his life until there’s suddenly a thumbprint underneath the corner of his eye, like a bright red teardrop.
Izuku didn’t know about it right away, but it makes Mirio pause during their fight, eyes as wide as their abnormal shape allows, before his face splits into a grin even bigger than before. He phases before Izuku can use the distraction to land a hit.
“Looks like we’re soulmates!” Mirio’s voice pops up right behind him, and the last thing Izuku sees before getting suckerpunched across the room is Mirio’s dark green thumbs-up.
When he finally meets Sir Nighteye, there’s an awkward minute of silence in which the pro hero stares at Izuku’s golden wrist, brows drawn tight together and something unreadable crossing his face.
Then, Nighteye pushes his glasses up, and tells Izuku that he’s not worthy.
Eri leaves a silver smudge right beneath his ear. He doesn’t see it until later, back in his dorm. What he does see is the spot of green he leaves on her in return, on her temple opposite her horn.
By the time he sees it, by the time he realizes , it’s too late. She’s already in Overhaul’s arms. He could try to pull her away but—
Chisaki Kai. Alias/Quirk: Overhaul. Can destroy and remake anything he touches.
If he tries to save her now, he could get all of them killed.
Everything in his body says move , but he forces himself to stay still as Overhaul leaves. Every added inch between him and Eri makes his heart clench and his eyes burn, but there’s no choice.
I will save you. I will save you.
He’ll never forget the desperation and hopelessness in her red eyes as the villain carries her away.
Later, when everything is said and done, Aizawa takes him to see Eri in her hospital room. She sits up when he walks in, and the smile that spreads across her face is small but practically a grin by Eri standards.
“Look,” she says, pointing at the green soulmark on her forehead. Her voice is still hoarse and quiet, but she sounds happy. “It didn’t disappear when he took me apart.”
Izuku smiles. He has to, to keep the awful horror and guilt in his stomach off of his face. “Of course not,” he says, sitting down on the bed next to her. His instinct is to pull her into his arms, but he doesn’t. He waits for her to come to him, if she wants. “This one will only disappear if you want it to.”
“I don’t want it to.” Eri shakes her head, then goes quiet for a moment, studying her carefully folded hands in her lap. She glances up at Izuku, eyes flickering briefly to his mark, and then back down again, before she scoots closer to him. “Can I…?”
Immediately, he opens his arms to her, and the wind is nearly knocked out of him when she rushes into his chest. The side of her forehead quickly finds its match beneath his ear, and warmth rushes through him from the point of contact. Based on the happy sigh that escapes from Eri, she must feel it too.
They sit like that for awhile, Eri finally safe in her first soulmate’s arms, until she falls asleep.
(Afterwards, when Izuku leaves the hospital room, he barely makes it halfway down the hallway before bursting into tears. Aizawa doesn’t ask any questions, just places his hand over the back of Izuku’s neck and holds him close.)
There used to be a dusting of warm yellow on All Might’s knuckles. He never said whose mark it was, but sometimes Izuku noticed him rubbing at it with a sad look on his face.
After Sir Nighteye dies, All Might’s mark goes with him.
Izuku does what he can, but he knows the pain of a lost soulmark all too well. The mark may be gone, but the memory, the empty space, will always be there.
Sometimes, things are bad.
There are bad nights when Izuku can’t sleep. He’s chased out of his bed by Stain’s blades, or Shigaraki’s hand on his throat, or, worst, the awkward curve of Sir Nighteye’s broken back as a spike juts up through his chest. Or he just doesn’t get in in the first place, kept up by the weight of the world on his shoulders, by a finger pointed at him through a screen and you’re next .
Maybe it’s the soulmarks, or maybe they just know him that well, but one of his friends is always there to keep him company. Shinsou is almost always awake anyways— insomnia , he explains with a shrug—and they play videogames on their handhelds until the sun is coming up and Aizawa lectures them on their sleeping habits. Uraraka stays up late doing homework sometimes, so she’ll sit with him, humming along to some pop song. Tsuyu drinks tea with him, and sometimes they talk about the USJ and the fear of being turned to dust. Todoroki binges old documentaries about All Might with him—he’s seen them all, of course, but Todoroki hasn’t. Iida is usually asleep, but sometimes he’ll get up extra early so they can go on their morning jog before the sun rises.
And then there are the bad days, when anxiety settles around his bones like an old friend, and it’s hard to keep functioning. That’s when All Might pulls him into the teachers’ lounge during lunch and pushes a steaming cup of tea into his hands. Or when Mirio trains with him, laughing as they try to run miles on the steepest setting the treadmills have. Or when Aizawa takes him to see Eri, and they read Sailor Moon or watch old animes together.
Sometimes, things are bad. But his soulmates are always there to make it better.
Towards the end of the second semester, Aizawa gives them permission to spend a weekend at home.
Inko makes katsudon for dinner their first night, and the whole time Izuku eats, she watches him carefully. After they finish and clean up, she gently grabs Izuku’s gold wrist, like she did when he first came home with the mark.
She traces over it, and then looks to the marks above it. The light purple on his forearm, the dark blue on his elbow. Grabbing his other hand, she looks at those marks too, the delicate red and white on the side, the frog green stripe a few inches above his wrist. Then she looks at the marks on his face, the pastel pink and victory red fingerprints, the silver spot under his ear, the harsh yellow peeking around his neck.
Inko drops his hands. Pushes his hair back from his forehead, lets her fingertips drift across his very first soulmark, and smiles even with tears in her eyes.
“I’m so happy for you,” she says, and Izuku starts tearing up too. (He knows exactly where he got the waterworks tendency—it’s why he’s not nearly as embarrassed of it as he probably should be.)
“Thank you.” Izuku wraps his arms around his mom, and even though none of them besides her are here, he can still feel that familiar warmth in the rainbow they’ve painted across him. “I love them all so much.”
“I know.” Her hand cards through his curls, softly, gently.
“They love me, too.”
“Just like they should,” Inko laughs a little bit, squeezing him.
He’ll probably never stop having doubts. He’ll probably never completely get over the fear that one day one of his marks will disappear, just like they did before. But now, in his mother’s arms, with so many colors (real, not markers, not pretend ) left on him, Izuku can’t help but feel—