Actions

Work Header

don't let them see you (cry)

Chapter Text

don't let them see you (cry)
one


For the first time, Izuku was dreading the end of class instead of looking forward to it. 

In the last five minutes, Mic-sensei finished the lesson, clapping his hands and grinning at them all. Izuku snapped his notebook shut and put it away as the sound of rustling paper and students preparing filtered through. 

“Oh, man,” Mineta whispered behind him. “It’s time.” 

Izuku didn’t respond, not sure that was directed at him and not wanting to give in.  

“Alright,” Mic-sensei called. He waved a stack of papers. “These are your tests from last week.”

He was looking in Izuku’s direction as he continued speaking. Izuku’s stomach plummeted.

“Now, I know there’s a lot of work for you listeners to keep up with, but don’t neglect studying for English.” Mic-sensei waved a hand. “Some of you need to study more for this class. Don’t forget if you ever need help, you can come talk to me!”

He stepped to the front of the classroom near the door and then began to shuffle down the rows, passing back papers. Sighs and exclamations came from the other side of the room. 

Mic-sensei had been looking in his direction. Izuku bit his lip; his teacher, of course, wanted to help them, but it’d still hurt. Work harder than you already are. Try harder. You’re not smart enough, you need help. You’re not doing well. You’re failing me. 

Izuku felt sick. He drummed his fingers on his desk. 

“Shut that, Deku,” Kacchan said, spinning around. 

“Shut up or stop that?”

“Just— don’t!” Kacchan snapped. He was stressed, too, Izuku could tell. 

The test was hard; every student in 1-A had agreed on that after taking it. On the same night they’d all piled into the common room and despaired together during dinnertime over instant ramen. 

“Kacchan, you’re really good,” Izuku whispered. “You’ll be fine.”

He didn’t feel the same about himself. English had never been his best subject, but he was decent enough and trying to practice more. But sometimes it just didn’t make sense. The words were weird. They didn’t fit together right. 

Mic-sensei got to their side of the classroom. He didn’t say anything. Izuku started sweating. He stared down at the edge of his desk. Kacchan got his test back and grunted, which meant he’d done good enough for his standards. 

The edge of his paper slid into view. Izuku blinked rapidly. 

Satisfactory , said the grade at the top. Underneath it the number was a sixty-eight percent. 

Izuku looked around. Sero had just gotten his test, and his brow was furrowed and mouth drawn in a line. Izuku shoved his paper away into his bag, turning furiously towards the wall and trying not to just burst into tears. 

Sixty-eight percent. 

How had Izuku let himself do so badly? Satisfactory was hardly passing. 

And he hadn’t— he hadn’t failed a single time since coming to U.A. He’d worked to keep his grades high. Izuku was behind; he was always behind everyone else, always sprinting to just keep up. He couldn’t fail. He couldn’t.

“You good, man?” Sero asked. Izuku turned to look at him, and Sero made a face. “It could always be worse, you know?”

“I guess,” Izuku admitted. The words wavered. “But it could always be better.” 

Sero grinned. “Let’s study together next time, yeah?” His eyes flicked to Kacchan. “We can help each other out!” 

Kacchan spun around. “I don’t want to study with this damn nerd.” 

“Scared he’s better than you?” Sero teased. 

Kacchan growled. His eyes narrowed in Izuku’s direction. 

“As if,” he snorted.

Kacchan used to make comments like this all the time. A defensive barb, Izuku knew now, a shield—he didn’t mean it like that —but it stung more today. Usually it made Izuku happy to think that Kacchan was accepting Izuku in his own way, but somehow Izuku felt like he was letting his friend down. Like he’d fallen so short of the mark he didn’t even deserve to be here, fighting. 

“Seriously,” Sero said, and Izuku thought, do you only find me ‘satisfactory,’ too? “Next time. We’ll all help each other do better. Plus ultra!” 

He was smiling as he said that. Izuku took in a shaky breath. His eyes burned.

“Plus ultra,” Izuku muttered, more as a reflexive response than anything with heart in it, and then the class was dismissed. Izuku grabbed his things and hurried away, but not before he saw the smile drop from Sero’s face or the way Kacchan’s fingers suddenly curled.

They didn’t think he was so smart, either. Not really.

Izuku spent the last class of the day trying to put his grade out of his mind. It sat there, in the back of his mind, like a thoughtless present that was opened and left on the floor; a gift from someone who barely knew you and hadn’t gotten you something you’d like. Just their idea of you. 

In P.E. they were running relay races through an obstacle course as a sort of teamwork exercise in groups of three. Izuku was paired with Uraraka and Mineta. A decent team, he thought, and though they weren’t allowed to use their Quirks they could both move quickly. 

Uraraka volunteered to go first, bouncing on her feet. 

“You should go last,” Mineta told Izuku, and Izuku shrugged. The race began; Uraraka snatched the baton they were meant to carry and took off. She flew through the course, and Izuku had to admire the way she carried herself—confident, her steps sure. She paused only once, but then she was back, tossing the baton to Mineta. 

“We’re doing well,” Uraraka cheered, face flushed. Izuku smiled at her. “Be careful balancing when you get to the beam, Deku— it moves, so be careful not to fall, okay?”

“Ye- yeah,” Izuku said. 

He needed to focus. Mineta returned, and with a glance at his competitors, Izuku took off. He did fine for the most part; the course wasn’t too bad. He made it through faster than his counterparts and stopped at the beam like Uraraka had warned him. 

“Focus, Izuku,” he said. He held out his arms, and then lightly took a step forward and another. The thin wooden beam underneath his feet trembled, but he took another few steps. “Focus…”

Satisfactory flashed through his mind, and Izuku’s foot stepped to the right. A terrifying moment as he felt himself tilt, snatching at the air helplessly before crashing to the ground. Izuku laid there a moment, stunned. The fall hadn’t hurt much—it wasn’t a long drop—so he clambered back to his feet and got back on. But he’d ruined it. 

By the time Izuku got back to his team, completing the race, they were third. Izuku’s heart fell. 

“I’m sorry I— lost this for you guys,” he said, bowing. Uraraka squeezed his shoulder. 

“No, Deku, it’s okay…”

“You did fine!” Mineta frowned. “The balancing part was hard.” 

“I- I let you down…”

“Third place isn’t bad! I’m sad we’re not first, but… we can crush them next time.” 

“Class is over, anyway,” Izuku said. “I’ll do better next time. Sorry.” 

After changing and getting their things, everyone began heading back to the dorms for the afternoon. A few split off to go train or to go the library—usually after class Izuku liked to train a little more, but he wasn’t in the mood today. The more he tried to push his test grade away the more it came back to him. 

He knew he should have gone to the library to study, especially English, but Izuku really just wanted to go to his room and be alone. At least for a little bit. And then he’d get back to work. 

“Hey, Deku, wait for me!” 

Izuku drew his mouth into a smile. “Uraraka…”

They walked together to the dorms. 

“Um…” Uraraka put her hands together nervously, though she remembered not to go airborne. “Sorry to ask, but is… anything wrong?” 

“Hu- huh?”

“Sorry, sorry!” Uraraka waved her hands. “It’s just, you seemed kind of— out of it today. Not that you still didn’t do great! You just seemed, um, distracted.”

“It was just— yeah. But. I’m okay. Thanks.” 

“Was it… because of the test?”

Izuku didn’t answer. 

“Did you do okay?” 

“Not great,” Izuku admitted, looking down. 

“Oh,” said Uraraka. She paused for a moment and said, “well, you’ll have other opportunities. You’re really smart, Deku! It’s just one test, it doesn’t matter that much, right?”

It was really nice of her to say that, but Izuku’s stomach still twisted. Then he felt bad. She was just trying to make him feel better; it wasn’t her fault it wasn’t working. 

It did matter. It mattered to him. The thought made him shake again; he felt a familiar rush of pressure to his face and knew that in minutes he was going to start crying. 

“Yeah,” Izuku said quietly, “um… thanks, Uraraka.”

“Don’t think about it too much,” Uraraka reminded him. “Come on— we’re playing cards in the common room, you want to join us?”

Panic prickled along his neck. A bad grade wasn’t much to Uraraka; on the verge of tears, Izuku knew if she saw him start crying she’d think he was pathetic or something. 

“Uh,” Izuku started, “no, I’m kind of tired. Not that I don’t want to go. But I think- I think I’m just going to… I’ll see you later, okay?”

It was rude, but Izuku turned away and left before Uraraka could respond. When he made it to the hallway, where no one was around, he stopped to face the wall for a moment, breathing and staring blankly until the feeling of almost-crying settled. Izuku wiped at his eyes—mostly dry—and started heading towards his room. 

Sixty-eight percent. Satisfactory.

It wasn’t enough. He needed to fix it. Do better.

Izuku was tired, but not enough to stop him. He pulled the crumpled paper from his bag and sped up. There was work to do, studying; Izuku didn’t have time to cry. 

Chapter Text

don't let them see you (cry)
two


“I’m glad we’re partners,” Iida said, as he and Izuku stood at the edge of the training grounds, waiting for the exercise to begin. “You’re a great teammate, Midoriya.” 

Izuku ducked his head. A slow smile made its way on his face. 

“You- you, too, Iida!” 

A sudden appreciation of Izuku’s friendship swept over him. The comment had come from seemingly nowhere. No one would have ever said that before, and no one would have meant it. 

But there was something straightforward about Iida most days—maybe it was the slight smile, or his steady gaze, that made Izuku believe him most days. 

“Are you ready?” 

Izuku rocked back and forth on his heels. He’d been mapping their course since the start of class, after Aizawa-sensei had paired them together. They were running mock hostage-situations of a sort. 

Of course, Aizawa-sensei had said, it wasn’t as easy in the real world as it would be in class. Not all situations ended in violence. Most were tackled by teams of police and heroes, working on a negotiation, with heroes ready to neutralize threats and preparing to get the hostages out . Teamwork was essential. Each person had a different role. 

Yet there were still so many things that could go wrong…

Izuku rubbed his arms. Aizawa-sensei had promised they’d cover more about what to do in class, not just relying on exercises like this one. 

“Yeah,” Izuku responded after a moment of thinking. “You’ll take the back.” 

“And you’ll go right in front.” 

The building they were running the simulation exercise from was partially underground; the ‘villains’ Shoji and Kaminari had been instructed to hold their hostage, Hagakure, on the bottom floor. Each part of the exercise had been designed in the hopes that they would learn skills regardless of the roles they played. Underground, in a dangerous situation with limited range of movement, both the heroes and the villains would have to be careful about their offensive and defensive strategies. A wrong movement, and the building could be brought down. And limiting them meant they’d have to get creative, would have to learn to adapt. 

Hagakure herself wasn’t helpless. The exercise, of course, was timed. There were technically three teams: heroes, villains, and hostage. They’d been learning recently about how to get themselves out of situations where they were captured, restricted, or otherwise at the mercy of others. 

The heroes won if they could get the hostage out safely, with every person accounted for. The villains had to make sure not to let the heroes reach their goal, or allow the hostage to escape. And the hostage would be attempting to free themselves and escape. 

Two rounds had already passed. Kacchan had been hostage in round one—a shadow had passed over his face after that, something that worried Izuku—but he’d exploded himself out of his restraints. He hadn’t really been subtle about it, but he was enough of a distraction for the hero team to overwhelm the villain team. But the villain team had held a tight defense in the second round. 

“Here’s to hoping we’ll do well,” Iida said. 

Izuku smiled, taking Iida’s hand. Determination filled him. “I won’t let you down.” 

The bell rang, signalling the start of the exercise, and Izuku and Iida separated and sprang into action. As planned, Izuku charged in the front, being careful with noise. He didn’t want to give away his presence completely, but he needed the villain team’s attention on him. Izuku was the heavy-hitter; he’d go in and keep Shoji and Kaminari busy while Iida got Hagakure out to safety. Then Iida would come back and help Izuku neutralize the villain team, and they would win. 

Nothing ever went to plan, Izuku thought, but he was determined to see most of it through. Down one floor, then another, the light from the windows dimming as Izuku descended slowly underground. The feeling was— suffocating. His heartbeat was loud in his ears, and the only other sound was his footsteps. 

“Haha, hero, we’ve been ready for— yikes!”

Izuku broke through the set of doors in the front to where the villains were. Shoji and Kaminari were waiting for him, but Izuku slid under their first attacks. 

Kaminari first. 

In such close quarters, with Hagakure behind him and Shoji with him, his Quirk use was limited. Izuku dodged Shoji and flared One for All to a careful five-percent, enough to grant him speed. 

He managed to duck under the flurry of blows Shoji sent his way, but one of Shoji’s arms grabbed Izuku’s. Izuku wrenched himself free, twisting, and then he tackled Kaminari, and the two of them went sprawling. 

“Dude!” Kaminari complained. He released a charge, but Izuku threw himself away, rolling. He got back to his feet and dipped smoothly through Kaminari’s shaky defense, striking at Kaminari’s legs and kicking his feet out from under him. Once down, Izuku grabbed Kaminari, spinning him around to use as a shield. 

“I’m sorry,” Izuku told him sincerely as Shoji watched them carefully, gaze flickering between Izuku and Hagakure, with an extra eye watching the doors. 

There was a soft crackle. It was the only warning Izuku had; he shoved Kaminari down hard enough to send him sprawling, but hopefully not enough for him to hit something and get hurt. The attack Kaminari released fizzled. 

Shoji went on the offensive as soon as he saw Kaminari out of immediate danger. His eyes narrowed, and he was on Izuku in an instant. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kaminari move towards Hagakure’s direction, intent on keeping her where she was. 

“Kaminari! The doors!” 

But Izuku blocked Shoji, setting his attack and keeping him from advancing any further. Kaminari raised his hands, spinning to face the door— Izuku sent two quick punches to Shoji’s chest, then grabbed an arm and pulled, throwing Shoji aside with the help of One for All. 

The door in the back flew open, and Iida wasted no time. With the flash of his engines, he was in and out with Hagakure. 

“I’ll go—”

“Here!” one of Shoji’s mouths shouted. “If we can keep Midoriya until the end of time—”

“Right!” 

Iida, Izuku trusted, could make it safely out. So that meant for the heroes to win, Izuku had to make it out, too; the heroes and the villains both knew that. So instead of staying and fighting, Izuku ran. 

Still three minutes left of the exercise. He had to get out. 

He took the stairs three at a time then heard the villain team come in pursuit, so Izuku changed tactics and used One for All to send him to the top of the flight.

Izuku dropped and landed wrong on the last step, foot catching. He caught his balance, stumbling and trying to steady himself; his foot twisted, and Izuku’s face hit concrete. 

“Midoriya?” Shoji’s voice called. He’d heard Izuku’s pained cry, or maybe he was just confirming Izuku was there so they could catch up. 

Izuku clambered slowly to his feet. Pain shot up his left foot. He’d landed wrong. 

He limped, hissing and going in the opposite direction of the exit. The villain team was moving to block it; he’d have to try somewhere else.

Kaminari was yelling something. And then in another moment Iida was there— he’d come back for Izuku. He’d had to, but something about it… 

Izuku took a step and winced in pain. 

“Midoriya?”

“I’m fi— ah ,” Izuku hissed. Iida stepped in close and grabbed Izuku’s arm firmly, grip strong enough to support him but not enough to hurt him. Then, in a quieter voice, Izuku said, “Ow.”

Iida frowned. “Are you alright?”

Izuku averted his eyes. He tried to gently pull himself from Iida’s grip, balancing on his feet and leaning his weight—

Iida gripped both of Izuku’s arms before he could tip over. Izuku cried out, pain pulsing up his left foot. 

“Midoriya?”

“I’m fine,” Izuku gasped. His eyes burned. “I can—”

Oh. It hurt. 

“I don’t think you should walk, Midoriya,” Iida said. “Hold on. Wait, everyone, stop, I think Midoriya’s hurt.”

Izuku’s face burned as the exercise came to a pause, Shoji and Kaminari finding them. 

“Here,” Shoji offered, “I can carry you, Midoriya.” 

“No, I’m- it’s… it’s not a big deal—”

Everyone was looking at him like it was. It wasn’t. They’d stopped the exercise… they’d stopped class because of him. 

“We should keep going,” Izuku protested. His ankle pulsed. 

Aizawa-sensei appeared on the field a moment later. A few other students trickled in, the ones who’d been waiting for their turn. The timer rang, signalling what was supposed to be the end of the exercise, but it was ignored. Izuku was taking up time. Space. 

“Everyone,” Aizawa-sensei said, waving his hands, and the others backed off. Izuku could feel their eyes on him, even though his view was blocked by Iida. His friend hadn’t let go of him yet. “What’s going on?”

“Midoriya—”

“I’m fine,” Izuku said loudly before Iida could say anything. “I think I just, twisted my ankle, sensei. I can… I can keep going. It’s fine.” 

Aizawa-sensei frowned. They hadn’t even technically finished the exercise—Izuku had interrupted. Everyone had stopped for him. He looked down. 

“Can you walk?” 

Iida let go. Izuku stumbled a step, then another, but pain flared up his left foot. He caught himself only barely, managing not to fall flat on his face. It was probably more than obvious though, based on how everyone was looking at him. Stupid. 

Aizawa-sensei pinched his temples. He let out a sigh, and Izuku thought, he thinks I’m interrupting. I’m a burden. 

“Go to Recovery Girl then,” Aizawa-sensei said, “and take it easy. Iida, go with him. The rest of you, we’re going to continue with the class—we’ll do, let’s see… Jirou, please, with…”

Izuku felt his face grow hotter as he and Iida walked by the rest of the class. Walk was a kind word. It felt more like a slow humiliating hobble. He limped, leaning some weight on Iida as his classmates watched on. He couldn’t look at their faces, so he looked at the ground. 

“Does it hurt badly?”

Izuku bit his lip as they turned down the hall and began the trek to the infirmary. It was just a twisted ankle, so he’d be fine. Izuku had had worse, but this still hurt , in a sort of unexplainable way. 

“It’s- okay.” 

He wasn’t lying. It was okay, because it needed to be okay. Izuku had only tripped and hurt his ankle a little. The pain was supposed to be bearable, if only because he’d had much worse and he would have much worse again. 

“We’re going to be heroes,” Izuku said, shrugging. 

“I don’t think that’s the right way of thinking about it,” Iida said. “It may only be a sprained ankle, but it’s affecting you. So I believe you should be more concerned about it.” 

“I’m more concerned about—” 

“About?”

“Class.” 

Izuku gritted his teeth. Looked away as a hot flush of embarrassment ran through him, like sinking uncomfortably into too-hot water. 

It wasn’t lost on Izuku, though, what was happening. Earlier Iida had been counting on Izuku; he’d been relying on him and trusting him as a teammate, another hero. Izuku was lucky this was only a class exercise. It isn’t as easy in the real world. 

What if Izuku had made another simple mistake, miscalculating the distance? He could work through injuries. He knew he could; in a real situation a sprained ankle would hardly stop him. But everyone else had hesitated, paused. 

Iida had come back for him; that had been a part of the exercise, that they had all needed to be safely at the starting point for it to count. But Izuku would have left himself behind, really. 

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Iida said, broaching the subject. 

“It shouldn’t be a big deal,” Izuku muttered. “It’s not a big deal. We could have kept going.” 

It wasn’t that heroes were perfect, or that they didn’t make mistakes. Izuku did. He would. But he’d felt like such a simple blunder on his part had slowed everyone down. They hadn’t finished. 

And to his surprise, Izuku found himself harshly blinking back tears. He didn’t know why. It wasn’t the pain—that was manageable, tempered. But Izuku thought it was that they were going down the hall together, each step slow, careful. 

That Iida had been relying on him, and now they were here. Izuku, leaning on Iida for every step they took forward. The class, pausing. They didn’t need to wait. They didn’t need to stop. Izuku didn’t want them to; he didn’t want to get in the way. 

“Here,” Iida prompted, and Izuku found them outside Recovery Girl’s office. And with such a minor injury, it wasn’t like— he was just going to be healed, anyway, and then it wouldn’t matter. It didn’t matter at all. 

When Iida went to get the door, Izuku lifted his sleeve and wiped at his eyes. He dropped his arm as quickly as he could, Iida turning back to help him forward. 

Izuku thanked him, and hoped his friend hadn’t heard the way the words seemed to close in his throat. 

“We should help each other,” Iida said simply. 

But I didn’t. 

Izuku lifted a hand to his face, brushing away the tears and rubbing his nose in the hopes that Iida wouldn’t see him almost cry. Then he took the next step forward, without help.

Chapter Text

don't let them see you (cry)
three


Izuku wandered down to the common room, humming. He clutched his things, looking around for a spot that wasn’t taken; from a spot by the couch on the floor, Kirishima waved. It looked like he was studying, too, so Izuku went to join him. 

“Hey, dude,” Kirishima said, grinning. “Didn’t think you’d pop up here.” 

“We thought you’d be at the library, kero,” Asui added from her spot atop the couch, perched comfortably. “Bakugou’s there.”

“Ah- ah,” Izuku mumbled. He scratched at the back of his neck and settled down on the floor, putting his books and materials down. “It’s just that, I think Kacchan kind of wanted to study alone today. And I was kind of busy, earlier, when he went anyway, so I thought I’d just, um, come down here.”

He flicked his eyes up. “If… you don’t mind me joining you.” 

“Of course, man!”

“Not at all,” Asui said. She showed him the pages of math homework she was working on. 

“Oh, speaking of Bakugou,” Kirishima said as Izuku opened his textbook to the right page, “you two are getting along better, aren’t you? That’s cool.”

Izuku shrugged, but he felt his mouth lift a little. “A… a little.”

They had been recently; studying together, training, sharing the secret that was One for All. Kacchan hadn’t really said anything about it, and Izuku didn’t know what he himself would. But the wall between them was crumbling a bit now, enough so Izuku could see the other side. And there would be time, Izuku knew—slow progress, to carefully remove it brick by brick. 

“Bakugou’s changed,” Asui said. She stuck her tongue out, just poking between her lips as she scribbled down an answer and assessed it. 

“Yeah,” Izuku replied hoarsely. “Kacchan’s… yeah.” 

Change was a good word, and maybe a bit of a terrifying one. Change wasn’t something Izuku would say he was used to, even though it had been surrounding him rapidly since entering U.A. But he and Kacchan had been stuck in the same roles, the same places for years, watching each others’ backs in the worst way. 

“So, uh. What are you working on, Midoriya?”

“Oh, just the reading on the development of the agency system in Japan,” Izuku said, “I’ve got to take notes on that, but I’ve already finished most of the other homework, so it’s not too bad.”

“Lucky,” Kirishima groaned as Izuku started his first section of reading, skimming the paragraph and noting down what he thought was important. “I know it’s not manly, but I procrastinated and put off doing that paper, you know, so now I’m behind.”

“If it helps, Hagakure still had a page to go this morning.”

Kirishima swiveled. “It was due today!”

Asui shrugged. “She got it done.” 

Izuku winced. 

Prior to the formation of hero agencies, it was not uncommon for a few heroes to work closely together as partners with complementary Quirks. Based in strong communication, a close relationship, and a mutual understanding of the needs and duties of their roles, hero partners served as an effective foundation for what would become the necessary parts of a hero agency.  

They kept a nice ebb and flow of conversation while studying. Izuku was grateful for pockets of quiet, but Kirishima and Asui never quite ignored him, either. It felt nice. 

Izuku finished his notes, closing his textbook and the related notebook and setting them aside. 

“Done already?”

“Mm,” Izuku hummed, stretching. “It went faster than I thought. It was interesting, actually—”

He stopped himself before he could go further into detail about the reading. If his classmates hadn’t done the reading already, they would; they probably didn’t need to hear Izuku talk their ears off about it. And it was from the textbook, too. 

“Yeah?” Kirishima prompted. 

Izuku flushed, embarrassed. He didn’t know if Kirishima was joking or not, but Kirishima cocked his head, waiting. Like he wanted to hear what Izuku had to say, like he was interested. Izuku swallowed, throat dry.

“Um, nevermind,” Izuku said, “I think I’ll grab a snack. You guys want anything?”

“No, thank you, Midoriya.”

“Ooh,” Kirishima said, earlier moment forgotten as he pumped his fist. “Can you check if there’s still any of those rice crackers? Mina got some to share, but sometimes sharing means split ninety-five to five and not like, fifty-fifty you know?”

Izuku surprised himself by laughing. “Yeah, I’ll check.”

“You’re the best!” 

Izuku stood up and started walking. His ankle twinged, and he winced before continuing. 

He shuffled off to the kitchen; the view to the common room wasn’t blocked, but Izuku paused and leaned against the counter anyway. Just for a second. He liked— he liked spending time with his classmates, with his friends, even if it was just times like these where they were studying. It felt easy in a way that was almost uncomfortable. 

Izuku kept looking up, glancing between the words on the page and the students next to him. Looking over his shoulder when there was noise to see a few more of his classmates coming by. It was habit. But nothing happened. There was nothing to react to. 

Asui’s voice drifted, and Izuku let the conversation fill the air around him.

He peered in the fridge, but found nothing appetizing. In the cabinets, Izuku spotted Kirishima’s rice crackers, but looked around to see if there was anything he wanted that he was allowed to take. There were a few sweets. Izuku wasn’t in the mood, so instead he pulled a mug from its spot. The All Might one he’d brought from home, the one that Mom had bought him as a gift. He held it under the sink faucet, tilting his head back to stare at the ceiling for a second while he waited for the mug to fill. 

In the spare moment, something clicked, and Izuku tuned back into the conversation from the other room. 

“—worried about Midoriya…”

Izuku’s heart thudded. The swooshing of water faded into the background. From here, he could only catch pieces of the conversation, some of it louder and some softer.

“...I agree… the other day in class, with his ankle. Yeah.”

Izuku swallowed. Swallowed again, painfully, blood roaring in his ears; he missed the next part. 

Then Asui said, “Well, kero , Midoriya’s approach is concerning.”

“He works really hard, though.”

“Right, but…” Asui’s voice dropped to a volume Izuku couldn’t catch before lifting up again. “Regardless, he needs to think more, in a way, about how he treats heroics. He’s admirable, but there are flaws.”

“Hey, Midoriya’s—” 

Cold water was spilling over Izuku’s fingers. He dropped his head back down and looked numbly at it. His pulse was frantic, unsteady. And then the realization came that his mug was overflowing, and he hit the tap and gasped. The water rippled, spilling more. 

Izuku poured a little bit of it out until it was manageable, and then used a paper towel to wipe around the mug and his hands. He was shaking a little as he took his mug of water and Kirishima’s rice crackers. 

“—heroes,” Asui was saying, “not like All Might, kero . The opposite.”

He was shaking. 

“Hey, guys,” Izuku said, sitting back down. He put the water down in a safe spot and then handed over the rice crackers. Kirishima’s eyes lit up, and the conversation petered to an end as Izuku made his presence known. “You, uh, um.”

Kirishima inhaled a rice cracker, chomped down hard, choked, and then gasped out, “You good, man?”

“Uh- are… are you okay?”

Kirishima coughed, and held out a thumbs-up. “Got a bit excited, haha. You good?”

“Yeah,” Izuku said, and it was way too quickly. “No- why would you think that anything’s- I’m good!”

“Oh, alright,” Kirishima said. He exchanged a look with Asui, some secret he wasn’t privy to, and then continued. “It’s just, you had this weird look when you were coming back.”

“That was… I spilled my water earlier, so it was-” Izuku cut himself off, laughing nervously. “You know.”

“Not on yourself,” Asui noted.

“Er, no.” Izuku felt himself go pink and glanced down. “Luckily.”

There was a moment of silence that no one seemed to know how to fill. Izuku lifted his mug to his mouth and drank, and Kirishima mirrored him with a rice cracker. Asui’s gaze dropped back to her homework. 

Izuku could feel a tension here that hadn’t really existed before. He shifted, but it remained, like a tag in a shirt he couldn’t reach that was bothering him. He tried not to let it get to him—Kirishima and Asui were nice, they weren’t going to be mean to him. But the thought lingered. 

He sat for a little longer before starting to gather his things.

“Are you leaving, kero ?”

“Um, I, um,” Izuku stammered, “yeah, since, I mean I figured I was done with homework and I didn’t want to bother you guys while you’re studying—”

“You should stay and just sit with us!” Kirishima blurted. Then he tacked on, “I mean, you don’t have to.”

It was a game of tug-o-war; did Kirishima mean it, stay and sit with us , or did he mean, you don’t have to? Izuku hesitated. 

“You won’t bother us, Midoriya,” Asui said. “If you want to stay.”

They looked a little like they wanted him to, even if Izuku was starting to get a prickling feeling running up his arms. Izuku didn’t really want to go— he was a bit torn, really. Enjoyed their company but suddenly wasn’t sure they enjoyed his. 

He was so different.

His ankle, Asui had mentioned, and heroics. Not like All Might. 

They had never been Quirkless. Izuku had been, once; and then he hadn’t been, but it wasn’t as easy as flicking a switch from off to on. It was more like finding a flashlight in the dark that still flickered uncertainly, sometimes guttering out completely and sometimes overwhelming with light.

Kirishima and Asui had been talking about him after he’d stepped out, but Izuku knew enough to put the pieces together. He said nothing, curling against the couch and taking his hero analysis notebook, opening it to a fresh page and trying not to think too much as he started writing about a few heroes he’d seen in the news recently. 

“Midoriya.” 

A hand waved in front of his page. Izuku realized he’d been trailing off. 

“Midoriya.” 

He blinked, and looked up. “Huh?”

“You looked like you were zoning out. I wanted to ask you something.”

Izuku stared dumbly, then felt his face heat. He ducked his head. “Um… yeah, what did you, um, want to ask?”

“Kirishima and I were talking,” Asui said, “we were wondering how your ankle was.”

“You seemed fine in class today?”

“It’s fine,” Izuku blurted. It was. Recovery Girl had healed him, but she’d scolded him on being more careful; still a bit tender, but nothing he couldn’t walk on. “It’s… yeah. Thanks for asking.”

Kirishima and Asui exchanged another look, something Izuku couldn’t decipher. They were asking about him. His face burned. He’d thought everyone had gotten over the mistake.

“Oh, okay,” Kirishima said, frowning, “it was just that Kaminari mentioned it to me before, that’s all. It doesn’t bother you.”

“No. It doesn’t.” 

Kirishima paused. “Alright, Midoriya,” and then left it at that.  

Izuku looked back down at his notebook. He was already halfway down the page. 

“Is that for class?” Asui croaked after a second. 

“Um, no,” Izuku said. He shifted so the notebook was a little more firmly in his grasp. “It’s just mine.”

Kirishima peered over, eyes widening. 

“Hero Analysis?” he read off the cover. “Oh, is that, is that about your Quirk?”

An uncomfortable flash of heat. 

“Some- some of it,” Izuku admitted, waiting to see the reactions to it. It wasn’t a secret that Izuku was still learning to manage his Quirk, after breaking his arms trying to use it. But he also didn’t talk about that part much, just with All Might, and Aizawa-sensei. 

“What’s the rest of it, then?”

Izuku shifted again. “Just… stuff about heroes.” 

He closed the notebook and pulled it a little closer to himself. He’d started a new one, after U.A. Most of the notes in it now were different from the ones in past years—now in shorthand and code, after Aizawa-sensei had seen them by chance. Izuku hadn’t ever thought about his notebooks that way, falling into the wrong hands. He didn’t think most people would care. 

“Can I see what’s in it?”

Kirishima looked so hopeful that Izuku wavered. And it wasn’t like he would understand any of what Izuku was writing, and maybe it would be a good test of whether the code was, at first glance, decipherable or not. 

“Well…”

He held it out after another moment, and Kirishima took it gingerly. 

Thin pages bound into a soft notebook. Kirishima, with his Quirk, could tear it apart easily. He flipped through a few of the pages, and Izuku held his breath for a second, feeling his chest tighten. 

Izuku wanted to take it back. There was— it didn’t matter if it was in code, or in shorthand. Suddenly he felt even if Kirishima couldn’t read it he could sense something of Izuku’s in the pages, a vulnerability in the way that Izuku wrote his characters, how his pen moved. 

He was suddenly glad he’d never written down One for All. Even in writing Izuku was careful not to put too much, and after being taught ways to encode his writing and nights of reading and research, he only wrote down the barest of notes on his own Quirk. Sometimes if he needed to he’d write a thought down on his whiteboard, just so it could materialize into existence, and then erase it just as quickly. So that it could have been there, briefly, even if only he knew about it.

“I don’t get any of this,” Kirishima said after a minute of flipping through. Asui was looking over his shoulder. 

“It’s… in code,” Izuku said, “because the information could be, um, dangerous.”

“That’s kinda manly. Not gonna lie.”

“Danger?”

“The code,” Kirishima said, affronted as he looked back at Asui. “So hero analysis, huh… hey, what’s this?” 

He looked down at the page he’d stopped on. “Oh, this is the part about you…”

What would they glean from it? What if they looked at it—his scribbles, his frantic writing, deciphered his own fears from it? Looked in between the lines and saw— saw how— 

Not like All Might, Asui had said. He wasn’t. He wasn’t at all, and he was trying. But Izuku kept messing up and making mistakes, and in the notebook he’d written about his own faults. Faults that Kirishima and Asui knew, and would know. 

Kacchan suddenly strode in. He had his bag slung over one shoulder, and he stopped when he saw them. 

“Wa- wait… can you give that ba—”

“Bakugou,” Kirishima said, lowering the notebook and grinning. “What’s up, bro?”

“His ego,” Asui butted in. Kacchan growled. 

“How was… did you study?” Izuku asked. He looked at the notebook again, feeling a tight desperation form in his chest. “Um, Kirishima…”

Kacchan grunted in response. Izuku was trying to not look too relieved that Kacchan had interrupted; now everyone was paying attention to him instead of the things Izuku had written, the secrets he had inscribed.

“Those rice crackers?” Kacchan asked. Kirishima dutifully handed one over, and Kacchan took it. His eyes flicked to Izuku, then spotted the notebook hanging in Kirishima’s hand. 

“The hell is that?”

“Oh!” Kirishima’s eyes brightened. “It’s Midoriya’s—”

“Um,” Izuku cut in. “Actually, can I…”

Kacchan rolled his eyes. “And you’re looking at it, Shitty Hair?”

“Well,” Kirishima said, looking back down at it, “I was, but you came in.”

“Oi, give that here.”

Kacchan snatched it out of Kirishima’s hand. He glanced at it, but Izuku could tell he hadn’t really read any of the words. Then Kacchan scoffed. 

“Why waste your time on this, hah?” He closed it and tossed it back in Izuku’s direction. Relief exploded in Izuku’s chest, but he fumbled, almost dropping it. “Whatever, extras. I’m going to my room.”

“Oh,” Izuku said. He scrambled to get his things. “I’ll- see you guys— Kacchan—”

Tears formed in Izuku’s eyes as he followed Kacchan into the hall, catching up with him at the stairs.

“Kacchan, why did you- why didn’t you—”

Kacchan scoffed, pausing on one of the steps. Izuku stared down at his notebook, unharmed and unmarked. This one had no sign of tear or damage, and no burn marks. 

“Why… why…” 

He couldn’t put this thoughts into words. It had been luck that Kacchan had interrupted when Izuku had started to panic, but Kacchan taking the notebook and giving it back to him was purposeful. And he hadn’t even read it. Maybe he didn’t need to. 

“You gave it back…”

Kacchan stomped his foot, spinning. “What, you didn’t want it, huh? You should’ve seen your stupid face, you looked like you were about to— agh, are you going to fucking cry now?”

“No,” Izuku protested. “Just, I don’t get… I mean, thank you for doing that, Kacchan, but I don’t…”

“Clearly you didn’t want anyone looking at it!” Kacchan threw his hands in the air. “That shit is yours, isn’t it? Just like your damn Quirk is yours. Stop trying to, ugh, give it away or something.”

“Kacchan…”

He’d seen Izuku panicking and diffused the situation. In Kacchan’s own way, of course. But he’d given the notebook back, and he hadn’t damaged it at all. 

Change , Izuku thought, blinking rapidly. His eyes were wet. Yes, change. 

“Whatever,” Kacchan said. “I really am going to my room. And you can go to yours and try not to bother me with how loud your damn thoughts are.”

Kacchan moved up a little further then stopped again when he seemed to notice Izuku hadn’t moved. 

“What?” he snapped.

Heroics. Not like All Might. Was that what Kirishima and Asui thought of him; that he wasn’t fit to be a hero, that he couldn’t be like All Might? Was that what they’d see when they looked at ‘Hero Analysis for the Future’? 

“Do you think I should be a hero, Kacchan?”

Kacchan, half a flight up, turned to look down at him. He was gripping his bag tightly with one hand; the other, by his side, was curled into a shaking fist. But not— to use, not to come to blows. Kacchan met his eyes.

“Why the hell do you care about what I think, Deku?” He paused, seemed to want to say something, then stopped. Kacchan worked his jaw, then said, “what does it matter anymore to you what I think, hah? What anyone thinks? It’s about you. It’s fucking yours, isn’t it? So what do you think?” 

Then Kacchan turned and trudged up the stairs. Izuku stared at his retreating back, wordless. He blinked, felt the tears in the corners of his eyes, and lifted his sleeve to wipe at them. 

He looked down at his hero analysis notebook, flipping through until he found his own page. All the mistakes he’d analyzed, the parts of his Quirk he couldn’t get right, everything his Quirklessness had informed him now. 

It was just that sometimes, if Kacchan was asking him, Izuku wasn’t sure he could do it at all.   

Chapter Text

don't let them see you (cry)
four


Near the end of the week, Izuku’s dorm room was beginning to look less like a room and more like a disaster zone. That happened more than he liked. Textbooks were strewn around like they were rubble, papers and supplies scattered across the floor. And, though he wasn’t proud of it, sometimes it was easier to change into clothes and leave a shirt draped over the side of the chair and the like. 

“Time to clean,” he told himself. Izuku took his headband from his desk, using it to push his hair back from his face, and then changed into a comfortable shirt and gym shorts. He had some damage control to do. 

Izuku started at his desk, staring at the scattered notes. He gathered all his papers to sort through later and stacked them, then picked at his pens and put them back in his drawer. 

After clearing his desk, he carefully rearranged the All Might figurines along the edge, lining each one up where they were supposed to be. The plasticy All Mights smiled at him; Izuku smiled back fondly. 

Then Izuku turned, looking at his room and wincing. Clothes first, then. 

It always surprised him how easily the clutter accumulated. Each strewn piece of Izuku’s room seemed to reflect what he was thinking: the weights on his desk reminding him to train, the library books in the corner for his research paper, the collection of snacks and knick-knacks for when he was bored. 

He hadn’t brought that much from home. There were a lot of things he’d left behind—decor, books, keepsakes, useless little things he didn’t have the space for. Even so, Izuku decided he probably needed to clear some items from his room that were from earlier in the semester.

Izuku was going home for the weekend, anyway; there were things he had here that he didn’t need, so maybe he could bring them home instead of leaving them. 

An hour and a half in, a knock sounded on the door. Izuku paused, setting his books back down from where he was scrutinizing them. 

“Um, come in?”

The door creaked open. Aoyama poked his head in. 

“Mon ami,” Aoyama began, voice grave. 

“Do- do you need help with something?” 

Aoyama smiled. “Only with card games,” he said, “some of the class is going to, how you say, play down in the common room. I thought you sounded busy, but do you want to come?”

“Oh, um…” 

Izuku glanced back at his room and then shook his head slowly. He felt weird about it, but he wasn’t really feeling up to talking to people. 

“Sorry,” Izuku said, then winced, “not… not tonight. Um, next time?”

Aoyama blinked. “Sure, sure. You’re free to come by if you change your mind, you know that?”

“Yeah.” 

“O- okay,” Aoyama said. “I’ll, er, see you?”

“Yeah.” 

Aoyama shut the door behind him, and Izuku stared at it, guilty. For a moment he considered opening the door again and chasing Aoyama down the hallway. Wait, he’d say, I changed my mind. 

The words crawled up his throat. Izuku reached out. But he couldn’t make himself move any further. 

He just felt tired. 

Sighing, Izuku turned back to his room. 

There was the stack of books he’d brought; Izuku flipped through them, making a pile to keep and a pile to bring home. There was a textbook he wasn’t using anymore. Some books he brought that he’d finished reading. 

At the bottom of a pile, words spilled out of the pages. He recognized it. Hero History: Trials and Tribulations. The top right corner was rough, and some of the pages were warped from water damage.

He weighed the book in his hand. An image flashed through his mind—the sludge villain. Kacchan, his eyes wide, explosions pulsing from his palms. The inky darkness. 

What could Izuku do? What could Izuku do? 

He had no Quirk. He had no strength. Just—a backpack, and a set of books. His arm circled up and swung in an arc. The book… Hero History. 

He didn’t realize he was shaking until he saw the book shiver. It dropped.   

Don’t think about it. You’re over it. You’re past it. 

Izuku picked up the book again and put it in the pile to take home. Suddenly he thought, Mom doesn’t know about this. 

He’d been on his way home. Something dark shifted out of the corner of his eye. 

“You’re over it,” Izuku said out loud. “You’re past it.”

Besides, that day had been the best day of his life. It was the day All Might told him he could be a hero—and the day Izuku believed it. 

On impulse Izuku found his hero analysis book, flipping through the pages until he found All Might’s signature. Smiled at the slant of his mentor’s words, and shut the notebook before he could cry on it.

His stomach curdled.

Okay. 

Enough of that. 

Izuku surveyed the rest of his room. He was done for the night, but glancing over at the clock on his desk, it was still relatively early. Kacchan would be going to sleep around this time, but he knew most of his classmates probably wouldn’t. 

Maybe— maybe Izuku should join his friends in the common room, like Aoyama offered. 

He stopped and pictured it. The sound of laughter unfolded in his mind, followed by the tint of Uraraka’s cheeks as she leaned back smiling, and Iida pushing up his glasses as he waved his hand of cards. Todoroki would be quiet, if he was there, but Izuku thought he might smile, and treasured that thought. 

Something warm bloomed in Izuku’s chest. 

He passed his door, spurred by the thought of belonging. Took the steps one at a time, shuffling down to where the lights were all flipped on and bright. 

There was laughter. Loud, uncaring, and it made Izuku’s ribs hurt to even hear the sound of it. He surged forward. He wanted to be there. He wanted to be with them, with his friends. 

He stopped on the last step.

Izuku couldn’t make himself move forward, so he sat instead, leaning against the wall and listening to his friends talk. He realized they didn’t know him either—they only knew Izuku at U.A., Izuku with One for All. Not Izuku who was weak, not Izuku who had an extra joint and custom shoes and ran just differently enough. Only Kacchan knew, meeting Izuku’s gaze as he pushed through a crowd and threw himself in danger, forward. 

He couldn’t save himself and couldn’t save Kacchan, because then he had just been… Quirkless. He tried. 

Izuku sat in the hallway with his dreams, and then slowly pulled himself away. 

He went to bed early instead.

Izuku used to sleep with a night light, when he was younger. It was All Might, of course, a small light that plugged into the outlet close to his bed; to match his patterned covers and the rest of the room. He hadn’t used it since he was maybe six, but back then when Izuku couldn’t sleep he would turn over on his side and peer at the glowing All Might smiling comfortingly. 

He missed it, a little. Izuku wasn’t friends with loneliness—well-acquainted a better term, perhaps, because he didn’t really want empty air curling around his fingers—but a light could go a long way in a dark room. 

Stupid. Childish, maybe. But it wasn't like there was anyone else here with him, so Izuku gave in, rolling over and going to his desk to flip on the lamp there. The shadows receded.

Izuku was Quirkless. 

Izuku was Quirkless, and a year younger.

Izuku was Quirkless, a year younger, and he was running. 

He tried to summon One for All but couldn’t. He didn’t have it. When he looked down he saw the dark fabric of Aldera’s school uniform. When he looked up again he saw Kacchan, eyes widening in fear. 

The rest of it came slowly, as fast as he tried running. The crowd wouldn’t part. Kacchan opened his mouth to say something, and though Izuku shouldn’t have been able to hear him, he did. Don’t come, Deku. 

The world flickered. Izuku blinked, and Kacchan disappeared before Izuku could scream his name. No. 

Around him, the crowd was still and silent, all turned towards the spot where Kacchan had been; and then Izuku heard the sound of sloshing and realized he was running through black sludge beginning to climb up his ankles. 

He fell. His vision tunneled, and he saw All Might walking away, back turned. 

Wait. Wait. Come back. 

All Might couldn’t hear him. Izuku couldn’t move, caught like a fly in something sticky and sweet-smelling; the darkness rose, over his mouth and his eyes and there was no light—  

Izuku threw his hands out and hit the ground. He gasped. A faint light shone, and Izuku looked up and realized it was his desk lamp. 

He sat back, gasping. 

Don’t think about it. You’re over it. You’re past it.   

Izuku was already beginning to forget his dream, but the feelings still stayed with him. He coughed, expecting to see sludge. Finally he got himself upright to check the time—three in the morning. 

He didn’t want to go back to sleep. Tomorrow was Sunday, anyway, so Izuku could catch up with a nap later. For now he grabbed his phone, hesitating only a moment before turning the flashlight on, and crept out of his room. 

Switched floors, letting his feet lead him outside a room. Izuku stopped there, breathing. He didn’t knock. 

He didn’t want to bother Kacchan. The selfish part of Izuku said, what if he needs you? 

Izuku lifted his hand then lowered it. Kacchan had never needed him. 

He went down to the kitchen instead, phone flashlight still on. Once Izuku was down there, he flipped on one light then the next, until the whole floor was lit brightly. It made Izuku’s eyes strain. 

Water. He’d have a glass of water and then sit in the common room until his head went quiet again. He couldn’t get the image of Kacchan out of his head, his voice saying don’t come , and the feeling of black sludge creeping up his ankles and eventually over his head. He remembered that, because they hadn’t just been dream but memory.    

The water was nice, at first. Then the feeling turned strange and familiar at once— sludge down his throat —and he choked, leaning over the sink and letting it dribble back out. The cup dropped, shattered, but Izuku was coughing as his throat seized. He could feel the water pooling around his feet, under him, and Izuku stumbled back trying to get away. He felt himself slip and was too slow to catch himself. 

He laid there on his side, wheezing and trying to force air into lungs that refused to expand.

It was bright, not dark. Izuku got up and found a kitchen towel, mopping at the mess on the floor. 

The incident had been so long ago, now. Izuku had faced villains stronger and worse than a thief, so he didn’t understand why it was coming back to him now. He scooped up the pieces of the cup and disposed of it. He’d get a new one when he went home on Sunday. 

“Kid?”

Izuku spun, reaching for his Quirk—but the feeling was empty, gone, and he gasped. Wait. Aizawa-sensei met his gaze, eyes glowing. 

“Sen- sensei,” Izuku stammered, embarrassed and unsure. 

“You’re up past curfew,” Aizawa-sensei said, voice flat and seeming almost disinterested if not for the way he rounded the counter and stepped closer. He blinked and let Erasure go. “Is something wrong?” 

Aizawa-sensei had always been frighteningly perceptive in a way that none of Izuku’s previous teachers had ever been. Or maybe it was because none of them had cared, or that they chose to blind themselves rather than see Izuku. Did Aizawa-sensei know how different he was? Did Aizawa-sensei know how different Izuku was?

“Nothing’s wrong,” Izuku said, trying to hold Aizawa-sensei’s gaze, but eventually he dropped it. “I just wanted some water.”

“I heard something break.” 

“I- I dropped a cup. I’m sorry.” 

Aizawa-sensei still didn’t seem satisfied. He leaned against the counter, not really blocking the way out but still leaving Izuku unable to avoid him. 

“You’re not usually up,” he said, then looked around, “and you wouldn’t have turned on all the lights if you were.” 

You don’t know me. 

Izuku said, “I couldn’t sleep.” 

Then he said, “Do you—get nightmares?” 

Izuku almost clapped a hand over his mouth, but the question had already left him. Aizawa-sensei sighed. 

“Will you tell me about yours?” 

“Does it help?” 

“Sometimes,” Aizawa-sensei admitted, “yes.” 

“Before—before U.A. there- there was, um, there was—” Izuku swallowed hard. “There was an, an incident, where I- I- I’m sorry, I can’t—”

“Don’t apologize.” 

“Sorry.”

Aizawa-sensei’s brow crinkled, and then he sighed. “You should get some rest.” 

“I can’t sleep,” Izuku blurted. “I don’t want to…”

“Rest, Midoriya,” Aizawa-sensei said, “not sleep. It’s the least you can do for yourself. And if you can’t talk to me about it, talk to someone else.” 

He brought a hand up, but Izuku thought he might have been hiding a smile—amused, for some reason. 

“All Might,” Aizawa-sensei said, lowering his hand, “any of the teachers. Or Hound Dog. That’s what we’re here for. Your friends, even.” 

Dealing with Izuku’s problems, his past? There were few people who knew Izuku had been Quirkless— the light, disappearing —much less what had happened to him and to Kacchan that day… 

“I’ll try,” Izuku offered, and Aizawa-sensei nodded and stepped aside.         

“All the time,” Aizawa-sensei said, when Izuku made for the stairs. 

“Huh?”

Aizawa-sensei’s smile was crooked. “I didn’t answer your question. I get nightmares all the time.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

He wasn’t told not to apologize. Instead, “I’m sorry, too, kid.”

“Does it get better?” 

“Sometimes.” Aizawa-sensei dipped his head. “Goodnight, Midoriya.”

“Good- goodnight, sensei.” 

Izuku dreamed about black sludge and past mistakes. What did Aizawa-sensei dream about? What did heroes dream about? Izuku thought they must be different.

And—when was Izuku going to be over it? He stepped into his room, and felt his eyes water as he shut the door behind him. He had One for All, he was a hero student; but there were parts of him that hadn’t changed at all. 

His desk lamp was still on. Izuku padded over, looked around, and then clicked it off.

Chapter Text

don't let them see you (cry)

five


Izuku woke up wanting to go home. 

He woke up tired. He woke up in a familiar place—the dorms, at U.A.—a place the students had learned to call their second home, but waking up that morning Izuku knew he was missing something. 

There were the same All Might posters carefully tacked to the wall, each one smiling; and newer additions, All Might pictures over his desk of the two of them, together. Younger Izuku would have never imagined those could exist, but now he smiled fondly at the photo with All Might, a bony arm slung over Izuku’s shoulders and the both of them grinning. 

There were the same bedsheets that scrunched under his hands as he slid off the side of the bed, red and blue and patterned. The same blankets that cradled Izuku the nights he’d cried himself to sleep. 

There were the same books, the same comfortable clothes, old memories repurposed in a new place. 

Except Mom. 

“I’ll miss you so much,” was what Mom told him the day of move-in when they were packing the last few items, rolling a few more posters. He had, of course, left a lot at home, mostly All Might collector’s items that were too precious to bring to the dorms though nothing compared quite to the man himself. 

“Yeah,” Izuku whispered back, because he hadn’t known what else to say. He also had known then that if he said any more he was going to cry; and if he cried, Mom would start, and they’d never stop. 

He took a long, last look at the apartment. 

For the past ten years it was just the two of them. Izuku grew up in these halls, the only one where he didn’t really have to hide in the way he did at school. He knew each room intimately, knew where Mom draped her uniform after a too-long day at work, where the first-aid kit was, how many steps it was from the front door to his room. It was hard to remember a time when there was anyone but him and Mom—he only had impressions of Dad that he didn’t like to think about, yelling and smoke—and he couldn’t remember a time when either of them were really alone. 

Mom wrapped him in a hug. “It’s going to be wonderful, Izuku.” 

Wonderful was one word. Terrifying was another. 

“It’s okay,” Izuku promised her, voice wobbling. “I’ll come visit after moving in. On the weekend, when I’m free.” 

She hadn’t let go yet. “Your home is always here, baby. You know that.” 

Izuku shuffled downstairs earlier than his classmates, dressed for his morning jog, and tempered his memories with hot coffee. He wasn’t much of a coffee-drinker, not like some of his friends, but he’d stared at the sink remembering what happened the night before and decided on the bitter drink instead. 

He was going home later today. It was fine. 

He had his coffee, stomach churning, and went out.  

The jog was nothing special. He walked first, stretching to greet the warm sun, then eased into a light jog to do laps. On his third lap he saw someone waiting for him at the start point and almost tripped over his feet. 

“Young Midoriya!” 

Izuku slowed, then felt himself smile. “Good morning, All Might.” 

“I know you come out here in the mornings,” All Might said, “though we seem to miss each other. Would you mind if I joined you?” 

It might have been months and months since Izuku first met All Might, since he’d been chosen as All Might’s successor. Months they had filled with a connection that was warm and kind Izuku didn’t yet have the words to describe. 

Didn’t matter. Izuku still reacted the same way he would have any other time. 

“Of- of course! If you want. To jog. Um, with me?” he blurted, and thought, oh, I’m jogging with All Might. 

He tried not to panic as they started again, slow and relaxed. It was just a jog. 

“Any plans for your day off?” All Might asked, then gave him a sideways look. “Besides training, or homework. You work hard. You know you can take a break every now and then.”

Izuku tugged at his shirt. It was starting to get hot. 

“Not really. But I- I was planning on going home and seeing Mom,” he admitted. “It’s been a while, you know, we’ve all been so busy, I was going to see her two weeks ago and I couldn’t and I felt really bad—” 

All Might slowed, leaving Izuku to almost overshoot before he adjusted his own pace. 

“I’m sure your mother will be happy to see you regardless.” 

“I miss home.” Izuku flushed and looked down to his shoes. “I mean, please don’t get me wrong I like the dorms, um… I love them, my friends. And all of this. I’m really glad to be here, and I get to see you, but it’s…”

“Not the same?” 

All Might’s eyes crinkled at the corners. 

Sometimes with the way that All Might spoke or acted it could be easy to forget how smart he was. But the particular way All Might could see through him in this moment made Izuku wonder how anybody could forget. 

“Right.” 

“Understandable.” All Might lifted his arms over his head. “Being away from the people you love, from your home is, ah… hard. You always have some part of yourself staying there.”  

Izuku chewed on his lip. “What about you?” 

“Hm?”

“Sorry,” Izuku said, covering his mouth. “I didn’t mean…”

He’d never thought about it before, what All Might’s home life could be like. It was the same way that students didn’t often give any more than passing thoughts about teachers living the way normal people did, slippers on cold kitchen tile or family. That had changed a little, living in the dorms now with the teachers to protect them, catching glimpses of his teachers’ personal, private lives that Izuku was almost scared to see. 

All Might never talked about family, either. Izuku didn’t think too much of it, but—no partner, or mention of parents, or anything. But it wasn’t like Izuku was meant to know that. 

“Me?” All Might asked. 

Izuku felt his face warm more. “I meant family, or something. I don’t know. You don’t have to say anything. I’m sorry.” 

“That’s alright. I can share.” All Might hummed. “I haven’t really had many people in my life to go home to, come to think of it.” 

“Oh.” Izuku cleared his throat. “I’m… sorry?” 

“It isn’t something I miss much.” When Izuku looked at him, All Might chuckled. “My parents and I didn’t get along very well. And after I became a hero, well… I never had much interest in, erm, having a partner—and it would be too much to ask of them. But it’s alright.” 

“Oh,” he said again. 

At least Izuku always had Mom. One of the few constants was knowing he could go back to her. 

Now he imagined a large, empty house. Decorated sparsely, and void of the sound of laughter. 

“Well,” All Might started after a stretch of silence. “I’m—it is a bit different with the dorms, now.” 

“Uh, right.” He paused. “You really had no one?”

All Might sighed. “Nana was- was like a… we were very close. I considered her family.” 

Izuku looked at the ground. A moment later All Might bumped his shoulder gently. 

“Don’t look so glum, my boy. You’re going home, aren’t you?” 

The dorms returned in sight and Izuku nodded wordlessly. He couldn’t stop thinking about it now. All Might alone, with no one. 

Maybe, a small part of him thought. Maybe you could be— 

That was different.

Maybe — 

It was different. 

They stopped outside the doors, and Izuku scrambled to get it before All Might could. Looking back he could see the morning light illuminating his mentor. He thought of the picture of them on his dorm room wall. 

“You…” Izuku coughed, and looked away. Then made up his mind. “Um. You know you- you have me.” 

All Might hesitated. “I…”

Izuku ducked his head— he shouldn’t have said that —then barreled up the stairs back to his room, leaving All Might behind. He shouldn’t have said that, he thought again once he was safe in his room.   

Teacher and student weren't the same as… well. 

Stupid, embarrassing. 

He took a quick shower then went for his phone instead, opting to stay in his room so he wouldn’t have to run into All Might again until he was heading home. No messages from Mom yet. She would be up around this time, so hopefully he’d hear from her soon. 

After waiting a little longer Izuku gave up on staying in his room. He hadn’t had breakfast, and now that everyone else was waking up he was starting to get hungry. Maybe he would pack everything he wanted to take home that wasn’t already shoved in a box, and then Mom would pick him up after breakfast. 

You 8:24 AM [Deleted]
You’re picking me up, right? 

You 8:26 AM
Can’t wait to go home and see you again!

When Izuku poked his head downstairs again, the kitchen was bustling with energy. Iida had a large pan of eggs he was serving everyone, and Yaoyorozu had made toast. Izuku thanked them and ate, starving, as his classmates ran about. 

They’d had a grueling few weeks with training, and everyone was happy to have a break again. The atmosphere stayed relaxed. Izuku soaked it in, humming cheerfully to himself, even though a small knot was beginning to form in the pit of his stomach. He checked his phone again as Uraraka slid into the seat next to him. 

“You’re going home, right?” Uraraka asked around a mouthful of egg. 

“Uh huh,” Izuku responded. “You?”

“Yep!” Uraraka bounced in her seat. “Business hasn’t been too bad, and, well, anyway, I thought I would go home and see if I could help or anything, you know. It’ll be better than staying here and doing homework.” 

Izuku made a face. “As long as you don’t forget about math.” 

Instead of answering, Uraraka shoved her face with food and pouted. Izuku took a moment to check his phone again. Nothing. 

Should he send another text? No, he didn’t want to bother her in case she was just having a late morning—not that it was really that late, anyway, though Izuku was eager to go home. He felt like he was being stretched paper-thin. 

He wanted to go home, where he didn’t have his classmates or teachers looking at him. Watching him. He wanted to stop feeling like he kept messing up in front of everyone, like he wasn’t good enough. He could go home, reset, and come back to U.A. again feeling ready to take on the world. Just one day, away from everyone and his own thoughts, with Mom. 

Everything would be okay once he went home. 

“You’re staring at your phone.” 

Izuku switched it off. “Um. Ah, yeah. Mom said she would, er, she always lets me know when she’s coming. Since, yeah. So I’m just waiting for her.” 

Uraraka nodded. “Oh, I see. I’m sure she’ll contact you soon, Deku!”

Mom… didn’t. 

An hour ticked by. Izuku sent another text but tried not to sound too demanding, and watched as one by one his friends filed out of the dorms to go home. His chest ached. 

He kept himself busy doing the math homework, idly figuring out the calculations and running number after number. Maybe if he didn’t hear from her, he could find another way home, like taking the train. It was just that the students weren’t allowed to leave campus unaccompanied, even going home, which meant Izuku would have to ask for an escort. That was too much trouble. 

The phone rang when Izuku got to the second page. He grabbed his phone, almost dropped it, and had to swipe twice to pick up. 

“Mom?”

“ Izuku !” she cried in greeting. “Hi, sorry, it’s so late—"

“No, no, it’s okay,” Izuku said, standing so quickly he sent his chair back. “I mean, I’m ready to leave whenever you are, I can, I’m ready now. If you’re here.” 

There was a brief pause. 

“Oh, Izuku, that’s not why I called.”

He stopped putting away his homework. “What do you mean?”

"Something came up at work, Kazuyo had an emergency so they wanted me to be there instead.

His heart stuttered. 

“But… I was planning on going home.”

Mom sighed. "I know, I know."

“You said you were free.” 

“ Just this weekend.”

Izuku opened his mouth to protest and then stopped. Fine. It was fine, it was just this weekend. He could always go home next weekend. No big deal. 

Still, the twisted threads of worry turned to frustration and anger. He took in a deep breath. 

It was just a visit home. It was just a visit home, and it wasn’t Mom’s fault, even though Izuku felt like he’d really really needed it— 

“Next weekend ,” Mom sighed over the phone. "I’m sorry, baby. I’ll save time for you." 

It was startlingly easy, Izuku discovered, to hide emotions over the phone. Mom didn’t always pick up on how Izuku was feeling, but a phone call made it so she couldn’t see the way Izuku bit his lip hard before twisting his mouth into a smile. 

“I’ll be okay, Mom,” he said. “You’re right, I can just go home next weekend.” 

He'd wanted to, badly. 

“I’m sorry,” Mom said again. 

“It’s okay.” He blinked rapidly, then said, “I’ll—um, well, I’m sure you’re busy and you probably have to go. I don’t want to bother you anymore so I’ll, um, call you later. Right? Okay, um, bye!”

He hung up before she could respond and gasped, clutching his phone. 

Izuku felt a little bad about ending the call so abruptly, but he was worried if he talked any longer he might accidentally burst into tears. For a second he held his phone, feeling it heavy in his hand, and then he put it down on his desk so he could cover his face. Then he kicked the box of things he’d been meaning to bring home to the side, and his bag. 

Was it too much to ask? He wanted to see Mom, and spend time with her; for her to tell him that she was proud of him and that it was okay, and him to believe it. 

Feeling a little dizzy and alone, Izuku went to see if there was any company he could keep for the day. 

Not everyone went home, but a fair amount of the class did. Kacchan had. His absence made Izuku uncomfortable; his presence was a constant, and thinking of him reminded Izuku of walking home. 

Todoroki was here, though. He always stayed. Restless, Izuku asked if they could train together; Todoroki agreed, and they went to get a teacher to supervise a session in the gym. 

Aizawa-sensei was nowhere to be found, though it was him Izuku was inclined to ask first. Todoroki went to get All Might instead, and Izuku bit down on the inside of his cheek to stop himself from saying no. 

“Sure,” All Might said as the three of them walked to the gym. He glanced at Izuku. “Though I thought you were planning on going home, and not spending today training, hm?”

He looked a bit awkward, and kept glancing at Izuku but saying nothing. Todoroki seemed not to notice, or if he did, he didn’t comment. 

“Something came up,” Izuku muttered. 

He and Todoroki sparred with no Quirks to start. They were well-matched for the most part, though Izuku knew Todoroki was weaker in his hand-to-hand combat than he was with his Quirk. 

Today, though, Todoroki had the upper hand. He beat Izuku in four whole rounds before they stopped for a break.

“You’re distracted,” Todoroki commented as All Might waved two bottles of water he’d procured for them. 

“Sorry.” 

“You don’t have to apologize,” Todoroki replied, studying Izuku’s face. He took a water bottle, then took the second to hand to Izuku. “That’s what Tsuyu would say.” 

“It’s different,” Izuku said, “I just—have to.” 

For being distracted, for not being quite good enough, for every mistake he’d made. 

They headed back out to the mats, and Todoroki glanced over at All Might, who held two thumbs up. 

“You and All Might had… an argument?”

Izuku tripped and fell flat on his face. He squinted up at Todoroki. 

“Wha- what? We didn’t—what do you mean?” 

“Oh.” Todoroki’s eyes narrowed only slightly. “Sorry. You were acting weird around each other earlier.” 

“No, that was…” He took a deep breath. “It was something else. But it’s okay. I was just, um, I was planning on going home today, that’s all.” 

Todoroki helped him up, then flipped him over. Izuku groaned and stared at the ceiling. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked to train today, but the rush of fighting kept Izuku from thinking too much about home. 

“Are you going to do that again?” Izuku asked when Todoroki held his hand out. Izuku ignored it anyway before Todoroki could respond and scrambled to his feet. The next round Izuku managed to win. 

“You should talk to All Might,” Todoroki suggested after they sparred a few more rounds and were winding down for the day. “He looks like he has something to say to you.” 

Izuku shrugged. “I don’t know. I think I made a mistake earlier.”

Todoroki cocked his head to the side. But he didn’t say anything after as All Might came to walk them back to the dorms. When they arrived, Todoroki ducked ahead and disappeared, leaving Izuku and All Might alone. 

“Um,” Izuku started. “Sorry. About what I said.” 

“Ah, my boy…”

“I didn’t mean—um, anyway. I just, yeah…”

“Are you alright, young Midoriya? You seemed upset earlier.”

“Huh? I’m okay.” Izuku fiddled with his hands. “I was looking forward to going home.” 

All Might rested a hand on Izuku’s shoulders. “You’ll get another chance.”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Izuku stood there, then pulled himself away. “I’ll talk to you later?”

“Oh—ah, of course. Midoriya…”

Izuku spent the rest of the day wallowing. He did all of his homework. Then he watched a movie, then scrolled on his favorite forums to keep his mind busy. 

That creeping homesickness never went away. It stayed where it was, as strong as ever. He felt like the dorms were trapping him, U.A. keeping him where he was. Izuku ended up curling on the couch in the commons room alone, going through his phone’s camera roll and trying not to feel pathetic as he looked at pictures of him and Mom together.  

For dinner, he made himself katsudon, then extra for Todoroki, who'd wandered down into the kitchen. 

"I can never get it right," Izuku said, frowning and handing his friend a plate. They sat together. "Mom just... it's special. I can't get it as good as hers."

"It's still good," Todoroki said. He dipped his head. "Thank you for the meal, Midoriya." 

“If you don’t mind…” Izuku said, then took his meal to eat alone in his room, surrounded by the comfort of familiar objects. 

He bit into another mouthful of katsudon and felt the thought of home sweep him away. It wasn’t quite right, like Mom’s, but it was close enough to make Izuku think of sitting at the low wooden table next to her in the warm walls of home. Suddenly he felt the tears well. 

Izuku put his food down and wrapped his arms around himself. He wanted Mom here; he wanted to go home. 

“It’s okay,” Izuku whispered to himself, the way Mom would. Arms around him. “You should be proud of yourself. It’s… okay.”

It didn’t really feel like it.

Just you, alone. 

Izuku scrubbed at his eyes and wondered if there was any part of his life that would go right without a home to head to at the end of the day.