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Don't Take Your Guns to Town

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"Okay, I've got one. Would you rather...” Izuku eyeballs All Might slyly from his place in the passenger seat. “...go to dinner with All For One? Or wake up one morning to find out you've turned into a goose?”

All Might barks out his surprised laughter, shooting the boy an incredulous look. “You sure scrounged up some god-awful options for me there, huh, kid?” The man actually takes a moment to mull it over, scratching at his chin. “I suppose... I'd take the dinner. At least it'd be over after an hour or so. Plus, I could try slipping poison into his food, or something. Yeah, I'll definitely take that over living out the rest of my days as poultry.”

Izuku grins, officially over-tired, eyes closing as he leans his head back against the seat. “If you did wake up as a goose, how would you try to let us all know it was really you?”

“Izuku!” All Might hasn't stopped chuckling. “I haven't a clue. Perhaps I would try and spell it out, somehow. With cereal or something. Or I could tap out some Morse code with my beak.”

“Maybe you'd still have your same hairdo, but like, in feather form,” Izuku suggests, motioning to his own hair exaggeratedly. “Or maybe you could dip one of your wings in ink and write 'I am here' on a wall."

All Might's laughter is a deep, rumbling sound. It widens Izuku's smile ever more. He's past that point of 'tired' where he's feeling plain loopy. All Might takes a large hand off the steering wheel to ruffle the boy's hair. “Who'd have thought all it took to loosen you up would be forcing you to stay awake for nearly twenty-four hours straight?” All Might teases. “Your delirious side is fun, you strange, strange boy.”

Izuku bats away his hand without any malice. Their tired chuckles die down and they're left to sit in a comfortable silence. They'd turned the music off sometime ago, having run out of CD's to play. Most of the stations coming in sound like pure static, anyway.

Izuku had ventured to start a game of “Would You Rather” because, well, by hour ten of today's drive, they'd already played every other game in the book. The license plate game. Even “I Spy”. Plenty of albums had been played, All Might educating Izuku on some American bands, and they'd casually chatted about places or things they'd driven by.

It's been oddly... nice. Especially given the circumstances.

Sometimes, in the countless hours now spent in this vehicle, it's come to feel like they're in their own little world. It makes it a little easier to take their minds off of the severity of the situation they've been in; they can't go home, and have no true idea of when they'll ever be able to again. A villain named Corruption is currently leaving cities ruined in his wake searching for the pair.

Izuku opens his eyes to peek over at All Might. The glare of the setting sun through the window gives the man's golden hair a warm, surreal glow. The bags under his eyes are highlighted, as well, along with the newfound stubble along his jaw. It's strange to see his hero go unshaven.

“I hope you're able to sleep tonight,” Izuku tells him earnestly, curling over onto his side to get more comfortable.

The skin around All Might's eyes crinkles as he shoots the boy a grateful smile.

“I hope so, too, my boy. Don't worry so much about me, though.”

But of course Izuku does. Today may have been more relaxed than the majority of their journey, so far, but he knows how on edge All Might has been. He knows the man has to be as anxious to be home as Izuku. He sees firsthand the sleep his mentor has lost over feeling the need to figure everything out and keep them both safe. Izuku already worries after the man's failing health, in general, so the situation isn't helping matters any.

Izuku doesn't even realize the way his thoughts trail away and that he nods off to sleep until All Might's voice pulls him back out of it. “Here we are,” the man says, quietly enough to be nearly lost in the rumble of the van over gravel. The sun has long abandoned them by the time they turn into the truck lot, where they'll remain parked overnight.

“Really, though,” Izuku says sleepily, sometime later, after he's hopped into the back of the van. He pulls on his pajamas over his head. “You'd rather have dinner with All For One? Because if you did wake up as a goose, I think I'd be able to figure out it was you.” He pulls quilted blankets up to his chin and yawns widely. “Between the feather hairdo, and the--”

“Alright, prince of literal nonsense,” All Might rolls his eyes as he steps over the front seats to join Izuku in the back. He flicks off the overhead light before climbing onto their shared mattress, lifting blankets over himself as well. “I could potentially end my arch-nemesis with some discreetly poisoned potatoes at that dinner. What good would I be to anyone as a goose?”

“You could still help people.”

“Geese are not friendly, my boy, much less helpful.”

“Hmm. I don't know. If you were able to spell things out, with your Morse code, and with your inky wings, you'd pretty much be a medical marvel. We could make good money by taking our show on the road...” Izuku mumbles into his pillow, his eyes drooping shut again.

Izuku hears All Might's mock-groan next to him. “Happy to hear you could manage a profit from my suffering.”

“Gotta find the silver-lining in every situation,” Izuku replies. He's a little more cheeky, these days.

All Might gives a playful flick to Izuku's forehead. Izuku's too sleepy to do anything but crinkle his nose in retaliation. “Go to sleep, you silly boy,” All Might says. His voice holds poorly concealed fondness.

He doesn't need to tell Izuku twice.



Sometime later, Izuku awakens groggily.

It doesn't feel as though he's been asleep for very long. Maybe a couple hours, at most. But something is making him uncomfortable enough to have jarred him awake while he still feels so tired.

He shifts around a little, eyes squeezed shut, forehead crinkled in irritation. He's ended up back to back with his mentor in his sleep. All Might is a warm, solid weight behind him. He can feel the man's back expand and collapse with each deep, wheezing breath. Izuku attempts to draw in a breath of his own through his nose- only to find that he can't.

Blinking blearily, he shimmies his weight away from All Might. He sits up quietly so as to not disturb the man. Tries to breathe through his nose once more.

Now that he's more alert, it feels as though something thick and sticky is covering his airway. His mouth also feels dry as a bone. Izuku puts up a hand to his face, searching for the mysterious source of his discomfort.

The fluorescent, almost sickly yellow glow from the parking lot shines in through the window, enough to illuminate all the blood on Izuku's fingers when he pulls his hand away.

He blinks again. Looks down. The entire front of his long-sleeved shirt is soaked in blood. Alarm bells begin to ring in his head as he feels around for any kind of trauma, but there's no pain, anywhere. Just a river of blood coming from his--

Ah. A nosebleed. He huffs a sigh of relief.

Now fully awake, Izuku anxiously looks around to make sure his blood hasn't ruined sheets or the mattress. Thankfully, it looks as though it's all landed on his shirt and pajama pants, making him look every bit like a murder victim.

He looks around for something to hold against the flow of blood. They have two bath towels, but Izuku feels instant guilt about ruining those, too. He hates having All Might buy things on his behalf, like he's been having to do lately.

Pinching his nose with his already bloodied hand, he crawls back over to All Might, free hand lifting to shake the man awake. Then he freezes.

The man is snoring lightly, and the lines on his face are entirely smoothed out. He looks more restful than he has in weeks.

Izuku gulps, eyes flicking to look out the window. The 24 hour convenience store is just up the road...

They only have a handful of rules between them, he and All Might, but they are firm ones. And one of them is that neither one of them are to leave the van at night, even if it's just to use the restroom, without alerting the other.

The thing is... All Might is actually sleeping. Peacefully, too, by the looks of it. And they still have such a long drive ahead of them tomorrow...

All Might has been doing everything to make their fugitive situation suitable for Izuku, much to the boy's endless guilt. The last thing he wants to do is wake his hero up from much awaited, much needed sleep for something as benign as a freaky nosebleed.

I'll be quick, Izuku decides with a small nod. He'll go buy enough tissues to last through the night, and maybe nasal spray or something, so that he doesn't have to ruin more of their stuff by bleeding out all over it. He'll be back before All Might can even know he was gone. He grabs his burner phone, pushing All Might's own near the man's head, just in case. Then he quickly slips into his boots and jacket, opens the door gently as possible, and scoots himself out.

Blood continues to spurt out of his nose without mercy. Izuku attempts to contain it all within a cupped hand, but it ends up trickling to the ground, anyway. With a long sigh, he makes his way up the road, blood dripping all the while.

He'd gotten a nosebleed like this as a little kid, once. He remembers his mother's shriek of initial alarm when a tiny Izuku had approached her, covered in blood so. Then she'd handled it smoothly, giving him tissues and pinching his nose shut, ensuring he didn't tilt his head back until the bleeding subsided.

I miss her, the memory has him realizing with a pang. He pulls his jacket around himself tightly. I wonder how she's been holding up. Maybe All Might would be okay with him talking to her on the phone, soon, if Izuku promises to be careful and use the proper code words.

Their calls home have been sparse and limited to emergent matters only. There's no knowing who might be listening in on them.

A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm, a boy filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm...”

A Johnny Cash song, Izuku recognizes, plays over the old speakers of the store he steps into. He can tell instantly by the man's trademark tone; low and warble-y, an almost mournful sound. Johnny Cash is one of the musicians he and All Might have been listening to recently.

(“What's this song trying to say, exactly?” Izuku had asked All Might as they'd listened to this very same song in the car. There are certain sayings in English that he's not sure always make full sense to him, especially when it comes to song lyrics. “He puts a lot of emphasis on 'don't take your guns to town'. Is it supposed to be some kind of saying? Or does he just mean that literally?”

All Might had hummed thoughtfully. “I've always liked Johnny Cash. He likes to say big things in the form of smaller stories. So, it's usually a little open to interpretation. It sounds to me like the guy in this song has a big ego due to the fact that he's packing some heat. And he gets warned for it, too, but that overconfidence becomes his downfall.”

“It gets him killed,” Izuku had finished for him.

All Might affirmed with a nod. "It gets him killed.")

“Oh, shit!” the elderly cashier exclaims as a bell on the door frame alerts him to Izuku's arrival. “What the Sam Hill happened to you, kid?”

“Oh, nothi'g. I'm fibe,” Izuku reassures in English. The dried up blood clogging his nose makes it sound like he has a bad cold. He tries to sniff again to no avail. “Nosebleed. Could I please buy so'b Kleenex?”

“Gnarly. Sure thing, kid. Here's a towel, too, while you're at it. Go on and use the restroom in the back to get yourself cleaned up.”

“Tha'g you!” Izuku says gratefully, handing over a couple bucks and grabbing said items with the hand that isn't cupping his nose.

“He laughed and kissed his mom and said 'Your Billy Joe's a man. I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can',” the song continues on in the background.

“Need a new shirt, too? On me.”

“Oh, that's okay,” Izuku replies, blushing a little. He hates burdening people. “I'll... stick wi'd d'is.”

“Alright, well... suit yourself,” the cashier says, eyeing Izuku's clothes uncertainly. “I own the place. You wouldn't owe me anything. I'd suggest you get cleaned up quick, though, kid. People are gonna go and assume you're bleedin' to death.”

“Will do! Tha'g you!”

Izuku gets his face and nose cleaned enough to where he can breathe again and doesn't sound so flu-ridden. He thanks the old store owner enthusiastically again, stuffing his bountiful amounts of tissues into his pockets. The store owner holds up a hand in farewell.

“Don't take your guns to town, son," Cash's voice trails out after him.

Izuku doesn't end up getting too far.

“Leave your guns at home, Bill.”

Because as soon as he's stepped out the door, a voice halts him from around the store corner.

“Hey, kid. Think you could help a guy out?”

“Don't take your guns to town.”



Toshinori wakes up.

He's being doing that a lot, lately, smack dab in the middle of the night. It's aggravating, to say the least, as he knows his broken body is craving the nourishment of sleep. It's as if his brain is refusing to lie dormant for too long; it's too ingrained in him to be fully on guard in the situation they're in.

He shifts and the springs of the mattress squeal under his weight. He stills with a quiet sigh. It probably wouldn't hurt to buy a nicer and newer bed, eventually. They hadn't exactly been allotted the time to go on a lavish shopping spree before heading off for this trip. He glances over his shoulder to check that the noise hasn't woken up his protege (even as he knows by now that Izuku is an impressively heavy sleeper).

Then he crinkles his brow in confusion at the absence of said protege.

Toshinori sits up, joints cracking in protest at the abrupt movement. Grimacing, he checks the front of the van to see if maybe Izuku has crawled into one of the seats to read a book or something. No such luck.

He throws off his comforter, then, eyes sweeping over the rest of the van, checking that he's not missing something obvious.

Well. Izuku's boots and jacket are both gone. As is his burner phone.

Alright, big guy, calm down, Toshinori thinks to himself. He needs to be able to problem solve rationally, here. He probably just went to use the bathroom. We didn't stop at one before going to bed. Not a huge deal. The kid is still going to get an earful for leaving Toshinori to freak out over it, though. He steps out of the van, shrugging into his jacket, dropping his own burner phone into his pocket. His eyes scan his poorly lit surroundings as he stalks over to the restrooms.

He checks inside. To his growing dismay, each of the stalls are empty.

“Izuku,” Toshinori hisses out, because he doesn't exactly like shouting out his boy's true name for public ears to hear. Maybe the boy is nearby and just out of Toshinori's sight. “Izuku!”


Panic blooms unbidden in his chest.

Toshinori's brain begins to whirl. Izuku is an incredibly smart boy- one who knows better. The boy is fully aware of the amount of danger they're in, knows the stakes are too high for him to up and leave Toshinori's side without a word in the middle of the night. They're alone in a foreign country and they can't even use their quirks to defend themselves, for Pete's sake. (Toshinori because he's simply unable, and Izuku, because that would basically be the equivalent of him holding up a neon sign that says “Here I am, Corruption! Midoriya Izuku is right over here!”)

So that begs the question: what could have possibly lured Izuku out of the car?

Toshinori runs a hand through his hair, exhaling slowly through his nose in one last-ditch effort to remain calm, and makes his way back to the van.

That's when his eyes catch the dark, spotty trail of blood. The one that begins at the side of the van and leads up to the road.

Oh, goddammit. Dammit to hell. Had Izuku been attacked? Toshinori swears aloud as he rushes to follow the trail, a sense of helplessness already gnawing at his insides. Every worst case scenario flashes through his mind's eye.

Fuck. Fuck. If anything, anything has happened to that kid...



“Sorry. I don't have any money,” Izuku says shortly.

The guy looks to be no older than his mid-twenties. His movements are jerky and his eyes are glazed over as they land on Izuku's leather jacket. The one that All Might had bought for him, despite Izuku's own guilty protests. Izuku had been eyeing it, but it was on the pricier side of things. This stranger seems to have the very same thought.

“You must, though,” the man says, face twitching. “To have such a nice jacket.”

Izuku sighs and flips out his pockets. “I don't, though. See? I just used whatever I had on tissues.” The guy doesn't even seem to notice or care about the now darkened blood staining Izuku's clothes.

“There are other places to stash money,” the guy scoffs. He moves in closer to Izuku. “Look, kid. Just give me what you've got. I'd hate to have to go and rob old man Merle, in there, just because you won't help a guy out. That geezer won't last a second, y'know?”

Izuku had been ready to up and walk away from this situation, but the comment has him stopping in his tracks. He bites down hard on his lip.

Okay, so, if he needs to, he knows he can take this guy down easily. Easily. The guy is big but he seems totally high off of something, likely looking for his next fix, and besides that, a larger percentage of America's population is still quirkless. Izuku has survived Muscular, has survived Shigaraki; heck, five-year-old Bakugo was probably more of a threat to Izuku than this guy is.

He can't rely on his quirk to help him, though. Not even with a show of abnormal strength. Those would be surefire ways to tip off who he really is.

That leaves him with using skill alone. Izuku can work with that.

The guy moves in to grab a fistful of Izuku's jacket, but Izuku has already grabbed the guy back, turning so that he's facing away from the junkie but his back is pressed into him. With the guy's arm still tightly in his grasp, he uses the man's momentum to throw him over Izuku's own shoulder. The guy smacks to the ground with an “oof” as the air is knocked out of him, and Izuku is on top of him a moment later, pinning him in place with his legs and his body weight.

Alright. Now how do I stop him from going and robbing the store owner when I leave? Fairly confident he has things under control, now, his eyes dart around to look for a payphone or something, so that he can call the cops on this guy and head back to the van--

Izuku's thoughts are swiftly interrupted when an unexpected arm comes swinging at his face. Izuku leans back and away in surprise, quickly enough to where the elbow just barely nicks him in the nose, but it's enough to start up the relentless river of blood again.

Dang it. Izuku looks down in some confusion; he'd been pinning the guy's arms to his body--

Two of them, anyway. The guy does have a quirk, after all. A set of extra arms that were previously hidden underneath his jacket.

Blood flow returns with a vengeance and fills the back of Izuku's throat. He chokes a bit, trying to clear his airway, and the guy gets in a second lucky punch, dammit. Too busy trying to get a proper breath in, Izuku's now had his position switched, and he's the one being pinned under the junkie.

Two of the guy's hands are placed next to each side of Izuku's head, bracing him as he hovers closely over Izuku; the other two are in Izuku's shirt and jacket pockets, practically ripping through both in his search for money he won't find. His veins pop as he screams at the top of his lungs right in Izuku's face, something unintelligible about money and now and I'll fucking kill you for that, brat, you're fucking dead.

He'll gain the upper hand again, Izuku knows. Once he can get some air. He just needs a second--

That second never gets a chance to pass. The junkie is suddenly yanked from Izuku, his body hitting the vending machine a few feet away so hard it shakes. The guy staggers, blinking dazedly, before he's punched square in the jaw and sent sprawling against the wall.

All Might shoves the man's face into the brick by the back of his neck, his other hand pinning the man's hands firmly behind his back.

Even Izuku freezes at what he sees. Never has he been witness to such rage on his hero's face before.

"You don't touch my kid," All Might snarls between gritted teeth. "You don't TOUCH my KID."

Izuku, shocked at the appearance of his mentor out of seemingly thin air, is finally able to cough some of the blood out of his throat. That apparently does little to help All Might's frenzied state. The man tightens his grip on the junkie, who is sputtering in dazed protest. “Are you one of his?” All Might is roaring. His shoulders rise and fall heavily with his noisy breaths. Almost like an angry bull. “Talk. Are you one of Corruption's--"

“No, All Mi- no,” Izuku cuts himself off from using All Might's name at the last second. “I don't think he's one of them. He's looking for money. He was gonna rob the store--” he stops on another round of coughing, because more blood has trickled to the back of his throat, and All Might looks to him frantically. Izuku now sees the flash of fear in his mentor's eyes.

Which... has Izuku a little confused. Yeah, he gets that this situation is no way ideal, but Izuku has definitely seen worse days. He doesn't one hundred percent understand what has warranted All Might's rage so, or what has him looking at Izuku with such panic.

Then Izuku's eyes follow All Might's, flickering back down to the blood covering his torso. The same blood that's surely covering half his face, again, and the very same blood that he's been basically choking on. Oh. Oh. It clicks, then, just how horrific this whole thing must look.

Damn his no-good, downright horrible luck, and his freakishly bad nosebleeds! He attempts to reassure All Might that he is totally fine, this is all fine, blown unbelievably out of proportion- the guy had hardly even bumped Izuku's face with a stray elbow, for goodness' sake- but All Might has already grabbed the junkie roughly by his jacket, turning him so that they're face-to-face. “Son of a bitch, I'll ask you this once- what the hell did you do?!"

'Merle' makes an appearance, then, poking his head from around the store front. “Just so you all know, I went and called the police! I heard all the ruckus you're causing out here.” He looks at Izuku, freshly bloodied on the ground, and then at All Might, seething in unbridled fury as he holds the battered junkie up against the wall by his jacket collar. “What in the- Isaac! How many times do I have to tell you to stay the hell off of my property? Goddammit, what the hell did you go and do, now?”

“I didn't do shit--”

He's knocked roughly against the building wall again.

“Sir, you can go ahead and let that deadbeat go,” Merle waves a hand, “and take care of that poor kid, there, instead. There ain't nowhere out in these parts for Isaac to hide. The cops will find him easy.”

All Might actually does as he's told, his fingers releasing the man's shirt stiffly as if he'd had to pry them open, and 'Isaac' falls to the ground, scrambling to get on his feet and the hell out of dodge.

“No good son of a bitch,” Merle mutters after him.

All Might is at Izuku's side in a moment, Isaac apparently forgotten, and he wastes no time in scooping the boy up off the ground. “The nearest hospital,” All Might asks Merle hurriedly. Izuku can hear the way his voice shakes. "Where is it?”

Izuku shakes his head firmly, placing his cleaner hand on his mentor's chest, moving to wiggle out of the man's vice grip.

“Listen! All Mi- I mean, uh, I'm okay. That guy didn't do anything to me. I woke up with a bad nosebleed. Really, really bad. But I'm not hurt!"

All Might reluctantly allows him to drop down to his feet. He kneels before Izuku, then, eyes scanning the child's face with urgency.

“Izuku,” he says quietly enough that Merle won't hear it. There's a note to his tone that is almost pleading, and Izuku has never heard that, before.

The boy shakes his head again. He knows what All Might must have thought at the sight, and it makes his own stomach drop. A stranger, pinning Izuku to the ground, screaming death threats as the boy coughed up his own blood, extra hands tearing at Izuku's clothes in their search--

“I'm really okay. I promise,” Izuku assures him again. “I'm not downplaying anything. Nothing happened.”

All Might's body visibly sags in relief. “Oh, God,” is all he breathes out. He presses his forehead to Izuku's briefly. Then he stands, placing a large hand on Izuku's shoulder, steering him towards Merle. “Sir, would you be so kind as to let us use your restroom? So we can get my boy here cleaned up?”

“Go on ahead. Again,” Merle says with a shrug. “Take some more Kleenex, too. On me. For Pete's sake, that boy of yours is a damn faucet.”



All Might is upset with him.

That much, Izuku has figured out. He can tell by the stiff set of the man's shoulders, and his clenched jaw, along with the way he's refused to look directly at Izuku. Even as he holds the boy's face to help clean it with dampened rags.

“I'm sorry, All Might,” he says softly as All Might wipes the last bit of blood from around his nose. He gently stops All Might's hand by grabbing it with his own; he can do the rest, himself.

“You're sorry,” All Might repeats flatly. It makes Izuku actually flinch. “Izuku- you know better.”

Izuku looks down at his feet sheepishly. “Why, why would you do something so foolish? You're smarter than that. Up and leaving in the middle of the night without telling me? What was I supposed to think happened to you? Midoriya Izuku you'll look at me when I'm talking to you.” Izuku does and, with a wince, immediately wishes he hadn't. All Might's face is thunderous. “And then I find you off trying to play hero by yourself? What's gotten into you?”

Izuku bristles, then, growing a tad bit indignant. “I brought my phone--”

“Yes, a burner phone we're only supposed to use once for emergencies, and I wasn't sure whether I'd have to use that one call or not.”

“It was just up the road. It was, like, a two minute walk! I didn't think it would be a big deal--”

“'Not a big deal'? It's as if you don't realize the danger we're in, or why we're running,” All Might's voice is raising. “What if that punk had been one of Corruption's men? What if he'd had a quirk that was worse than an extra set of arms?”

“I'm not weak, though, All Might. I can take care of myself--”

“This isn't about that,” All Might says coolly. “This isn't about how capable you are. This is about underestimating what we're up against!” The man runs a hand through his own hair irately. “Corruption is leaving numbers of people dead, Izuku. Plenty of skilled and perfectly 'capable' people. And I will not allow you to be one of them. Do you understand me?”

“What would you have done, then?” Izuku retorts. There was a time he would never have been able to even fathom the idea of himself questioning All Might's authority, let alone snapping at the man. This is no longer that time. “Would you have just walked away and let the store owner get robbed?”

“I would have followed the rules- there's only a small handful to follow, by the way- and told someone where I was going,” All Might snaps back, unflinching. “Now's not the time to try and be a hero by yourself, kid. I could have been there to help you.”

“I wasn't trying to prove anything, though,” Izuku insists, frustrated tears stinging his eyes. He stubbornly wills them back. “I was trying to not be any trouble to you. I just- I didn't- I didn't want to ruin our towels!”

That gives All Might pause. “Our towels,” he attempts to clarify. The edge still hasn't quite dropped from his voice.

“With my- because of my- nosebleed?” Izuku mumbles uncertainly. His argument sounds fairly dumb, now, now that he's saying it out loud. He's so tired. “I didn't want to use them for all the blood. And... and ruin them. Because then you'd have to buy more stuff. And you were finally getting some sleep. You have to do everything for me, and I didn't want to wake you up for something that wasn't a big deal, so I figured I should just go take care of it myself...”

All Might seems to soften up a bit as the boy rambles on. He places large hands on Izuku's shoulders. “That certainly wasn't worth our towels, my boy, or even my getting sleep,” he reprimands. “Not even close.” A wave of emotion passes over the man's face. “You have no idea. When- when I got to you, Izuku, I thought--”

And that's when understanding truly hits Izuku. All Might may be angry with him but, more than that, Izuku had scared the man. And fear is a side of his hero Izuku realizes he's never seen before. “I know,” he says softly. “I'm really, really sorry.”

“Just... stick to some rules for once, kid, please? For me?” The fight seems to finally drain out of All Might. He sighs out, dragging a weary hand down his face. “I mean, really, there are only like, five. Okay?”

Izuku sniffles. “Okay.”

All Might watches him for a long minute. Izuku shies under his gaze. “What am I going to do with you?” the man finally asks, exasperated.

Izuku gives a tiny shrug. “I don't know,” he mumbles. He rubs at his eyes sluggishly.

“Nearly giving me a heart attack, all in the name of saving two freakin' towels. Only you, Izuku."

That gets a tired scoff out of Izuku. All Might smiles very weakly in return. The dim glow of the crappy restroom lights make the shadows under the man's eyes look even worse. It doesn't help the look of the crusted over blood covering Izuku's pajamas, either.

What a pair the two of them make.



About an hour or so later, after they've bid Merle farewell (and he's sent them off with plenty of promised tissues, along with some free food, clothes and supplies, all to thank them for defending his store from "that lousy punk ass Isaac"), they are back in the van. Izuku has changed into a fresh set of clothes. The sky is already starting to be spotted with color, touched by the beginnings of daylight.

If Izuku was over-tired to the point of being delirious last night, he is downright bone-exhausted now. He snuggles into his side of the bed, breathing deeply through his now cleared nose. All Might is settling himself in next to him.

“All Might?” Izuku asks. The man looks over to him with a raised brow. “I just, back there... I've never seen you look that angry, before,” the boy admits in a hush.

Something unreadable flashes across his mentor's face. "... Well, yes," All Might replies, voice suddenly sounding thick. "You aren't exactly something I'd be able to replace, my boy."

Tears prick at Izuku's eyes again and he moves to curl into All Might's chest before they can be witnessed. The man responds immediately, gathering the boy into his arms, resting his chin onto Izuku's curls.

"I don't enjoy yelling at you," All Might continues on wearily. "It's just... I have to make you understand. I don't know what I would have done, Izuku, if--"

"M'sorry," Izuku mumbles again into the man's chest. All Might's arms are a solid, comforting weight around him. They lay there for a few moments in the silence.

We're all eachother has, now, is what passes between them, unspoken.

"Looks like we'll be sleeping in late today. Let's cut our driving time to be a little shorter. What do you say we go get some waffles when we wake up?" is his mentor's next question. Simple. Because it's those simple things that keep them going, now. The car conversations, the over-tired laughter, the frequent trips to Waffle House. It all helps them to forget the horrors they're running from, the lives they've left behind.

Izuku smiles wetly into the man's shirt. "Yeah."

“You going to want blueberry? Or chocolate chip?”

"Mm. Both."

All Might's laughter is a soft sound. "Cheeky boy." He runs a hand through the boy's hair.

Slumber has already taken Izuku before he can respond. His lullaby, now and for many days to come, is the steady rattling of All Might's breaths, coupled with the caw of blackbirds outside of the van, singing their morning song.

And if All Might refuses to relinquish his protective hold on his child for the remainder of their sleep... well, neither one of them are about to say anything.