Toshinori wakes up three weeks later with a nagging pain in his chest.
This, of course, is nothing unusual, but he notices that the ache is in a different place than it normally is. Not his stomach (what remains), and not his scar, but higher. More centered.
Toshinori shakes it off, naturally; every other week it feels like his body finds some new way to rebel against him. He figures it should be gone by nightfall at the latest. Maybe he slept wrong, or maybe he strained himself somehow the day before.
Either way, Toshinori heaves himself out of bed and gets ready for the day, thinking nothing of it.
At eleven a.m., Toshinori jolts in his office chair, hand flying to his chest. Over the CPU towers separating them, he sees Yamada craning with a confused look on his face. Toshinori clears his throat.
"I…" he mutters. "Sorry— I don't know what that was…"
"What 'what' was?" Nemuri pipes up, bespectacled face appearing over her own monitor.
"This pain in my chest," Toshinori replies, massaging his sternum with a frown."It's been going on since this morning." It felt like a lighting bolt had shot from his heart down his spine and back again. Even now, the ache is still there. At the familiar itch burning his throat, Toshinori grabs a tissue and coughs into it, giving the spots of red a withering look.
"Damnit," he groans, pinching his brow. "I had better not be having a heart attack."
Nemuri snorts, clapping a hand over her mouth when Toshinori and Yamada raise an eyebrow.
"Sorry," she blurts, sheepishly waving a hand. "I'm sorry. It's just— you say that like you're complaining about the traffic, or something." Toshinori sighs.
"Well, it's not like I'd be surprised— it would fit the trend." He tosses the kleenex in the wastebasket and gestures bitterly to the speckles on his collar from earlier that morning.
"Y'know, now that you mention it, you are looking a little pale," Yamada says, peering over the frames of his glasses. "You don't have class for another couple hours, yeah? Why don't you go downstairs and get checked out?"
"It couldn't hurt," Nemuri agrees. Toshinori lets out a sigh.
"Fine," he relents, pushing out of his chair with only a mild headrush. "But only so you two nannies quit worrying."
"I'm not hearing anything unusual…" Chiyo mutters, moving the stethoscope to the left. "At least— not for you."
"Ha," Toshinori replies humorlessly.
"And you said you've been feeling this since you woke up?" She continues.
Behind Toshinori, rain patters on the infirmary windows.
“Well,” Chiyo sighs, looping the stethoscope back around her neck. “I think that rules out a heart attack. Despite you even being lucid at this point, there would definitely be some kind of abnormality in your heart rate, but both that and your blood pressure look completely normal.”
Toshinori scoffs and glowers at the tile. “'Normal' for me is a litany of symptoms for anybody else,” he mutters, massaging his chest.
Among the questions Chiyo had rattled off to him, about half were things that plagued Toshinori daily. “How long before something is actually wrong with me and I just blow it off?” he snaps. The eyeroll he gets in return doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Well let’s not hope for today, shall we?” Chiyo quips, thwapping the clipboard she holds against Toshinori’s legs as she passes. “Drama queen.”
Toshinori just scowls after her, but deep down, he knows she’s probably right. After everything he’s lived through, he can’t envision something like a heart attack being what finally does it.
But you never know. Maybe the villain in Nighteye’s omen was really just strain and old age, coming to claim him at last. His own mortality: the most frightening and undefeatable of any adversary. Then again, Toshinori doubts that his late colleague’s clairvoyance was that deep.
“Listen,” Chiyo says, jarring him out of his thoughts. “It’s been a few weeks, and the weather is—” she gestures to the window, striped with flowing rainwater. “—well, it’s less than ideal. Do you think it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that you just have a flare-up coming on?”
Toshinori heaves a sigh that sends prickles through his chest.
“… No,” he mutters. “No, I don’t. But I guess… I’d rather just have a heart attack at this point.” He smiles vaguely at the floor, equal parts dismal and bitter. "Shake things up a bit.”
That makes Chiyo pause. Toshinori sees it out of the corner of his eye, but other than a somber sigh, she says nothing more. When she sends Toshinori on his way a few minutes later, she isn’t as brash as usual.
“If you feel like it's getting worse, I’d advise letting Aizawa cover your class today so you can rest.” At that, Toshinori laughs, and there’s only a hint of cynicism to it.
“When does that ever work?” he says, smiling.
“The resting?” she shoots back. “Or me trying to get you to?” Toshinori shrugs, turning down the hall.
He doesn't answer.
The niggling throb doesn’t let up by the time class starts, but it doesn’t worsen either, so Toshinori passes on having Aizawa substitute.
As much of a shock it was to lose his quirk, he has to admit that he doesn’t miss having to hold his muscular form for the duration of the class period. Toshinori wonders how much of his subpar teaching from before had to do with shouldering the discomfort. The snagging pain in his side was always easier to push through when he was still on the job, but standing around giving lackluster combat advice to his students is a considerably less distracting task— as much as it guilts Toshinori to admit it.
Now, though, he doesn’t have to worry about all that. The pain may never really go away, but without the extra strain, Toshinori feels clearheaded enough most days to make a genuine effort at teaching.
Excluding the odd exception, he thinks sardonically, rubbing his stinging chest. The rattling coughs that follow make him miss Izuku’s finish through the obstacle course, and Toshinori swears colorfully as he pulls a handkerchief from his back pocket. It's already littered with stains from earlier today.
His slightly shaking hand hovers over the scoremark for the part he didn't see as raindrops hammer the ceiling far above. Eventually, Toshinori decides that the cheers from Izuku’s classmates are enough. He pens in a ‘1,’ choosing for the moment to ignore the ruddy smudges his knuckles leave on the score sheet. It isn’t the first time that's happened, after all— and it probably won’t be the last.
Hopefully, Toshinori’s pessimist brain adds. Nearby, Izuku lands with a clang and deposits his training dummy with the others.
They’re all rigged with sensors to calculate simulated damage, and the goal is to get them through the obstacle course as fast as possible without 'injuring' the dummies further. Izuku’s data loads onto Toshinori’s laptop; a mere seven percent. Well within passing.
Good, Toshinori notes, marking it in. The highest damage margin so far is young Bakugo’s (forty-seven percent), but that isn’t surprising, given the boy’s track record with search and rescue. No one has killed their dummy yet, at least.
“How’d I do?” an out-of-breath voice puffs, and Toshinori looks up to meet his successor’s eyes. Before he can answer, Izuku’s flushed face pinches in a frown.
“Are you okay?” he asks bluntly, eyes flicking over him. Toshinori gives a reedy chuckle.
“I really look that bad?” he teases, raising a hand for silence at Izuku’s first mortified babble. “I’m fine, my boy,” he continues. “Just having a bit of an off day is all.” Izuku says nothing, giving him an uncertain once-over, but eventually he nods.
“So?” he asks, turning the topic back to the exercise. Toshinori gives an exaggerated scoff and pulls the clipboard to his chest.
“You want me to divulge your grading information before anyone else’s,” he teases, feigning exasperation. “That's not very fair, young Midoriya. Keep that up and they'll accuse me of playing favorites.”
Izuku blinks at him for a moment before a wry little smile spreads on his face.
“I did good, then.”
Toshinori lets the clipboard down, surrendering with a sidelong smile of his own. It’s all the answer Izuku needs.
"Yes," he hisses under his breath, and Toshinori can't help the fond smile that grows on his face as he turns away.
As his boy walks off to join his friends, Toshinori glances back down at the scoresheet and jolts, spitting curses under his breath. From belt to collar, bright, angry blots of red are painting his shirt; most likely from his coughing fit a minute ago.
Fuck, he thinks acidicly. No wonder Izuku was staring at me like that.
Fuming, Toshinori snatches his overcoat off the back of his chair and shoulders it on with far more force than necessary. It can only cover up so much of the blood, but it’s better than nothing. The movement sends more pangs through his sternum, and Toshinori just barely manages to avoid ruining his clothes further as more coughs wrack him.
It’s only then that he allows himself to feel nervous.
Class lets out for the day, and Toshinori goes straight to the dorms afterwards, newly intent on following Chiyo's instruction.
All afternoon he rests, and all afternoon his chest hurts. Irritating. Unchanging.
He can't sleep because of it, but the pain isn't sharp enough to keep him from hovering infuriatingly close to the edge. At eight-thirty, when the world outside is that pre-nightfall blue, Toshinori finally decides he's had enough.
Domestic sounds of life filter upstairs from the common room, and his stinging heart lifts a bit. No matter how his rickety body has decided to act out today, it can't dampen Toshinori's affection for his students. A few of them wave as he trundles in, and Toshinori just manages a tempered wave back.
Not all of 1-A are downstairs, but a good chunk are gabbing around the television or grouped around the tables among notebooks and laptops. The smell of food hangs in the air; someone must have made something earlier.
Jeez, it's cold down here, Toshinori realizes with a chill. I really am getting old. Rubbing his arms, he scans the room. At first he thinks Izuku must be upstairs, but then his eyes catch sight of a familiar mop of hair in the kitchen, and he smiles. His boy is exactly where Toshinori would expect: dutifully doing the dishes and swaying along to whatever is playing in his earbuds.
Toshinori intends to get Izuku's attention by ruffling his hair or something, surely, but another racketing cough gives him away long before he’s even crossed the kitchen. Thankfully, he catches the blood with a paper towel this time.
Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku perks up and blinks blithely at Toshinori.
“All Might?” he asks, removing his earbuds. “I thought you were sick.” Toshinori shakes his head as he closes the distance between them.
“Oh no, not quite,” he rasps, clearing his throat. “Just have a bit of a flare-up coming on, I'm afraid. No doubt 'cause of this mess.” He swings a thumb up at the almost-black window above the sink, where fat raindrops still clatter against the pane. Izuku frowns.
"Shouldn't you be resting, then?" he asks.
"I tried that— it didn't work,” he sighs. "It never does. When these things happen.. they just happen.”
He takes the rag Izuku is holding— much to the boy's quiet confusion— and gingerly shoulders in beside him, muttering a quiet 'scooch over,' as he turns the faucet back on.
"I feel like it's better to do what you can while you can, rather than just lay there dreading the moment it comes. I've tried both, believe me, and it makes no difference. In the end, you're still stuck in bed the next day."
Running water fills the silence that follows.
"Just like…" Izuku murmurs, handing Toshinori a plate. He glances cautiously over his shoulder at his classmates before holding up a fist. Toshinori cocks his head confusedly, and Izuku raises his eyebrows a bit, making a twisting motion.
"Ah," Toshinori says, understanding hitting him. He gives Izuku a knowing, bittersweet smile. "Yeah," he murmurs. "Like that."
Izuku smiles back sadly, averting Toshinori's eyes. There's a not-quite uncomfortable pause after that where they fall into a rhythm; Izuku scrubbing the dishes clean before handing them over to be dried. Eventually, Toshinori works up the nerve to break the silence.
"How's the leg?"
Izuku shrugs. "Kind of sore," he replies honestly, shifting his weight off said leg for emphasis. Toshinori eyes the new compression sleeve on his knee with vague guilt.
"It's not bad though," Izuku continues. "I went for a run today." Toshinori smiles faintly.
They don't say much after that; washing the dishes side-by-side in comfortable silence. It's so… homey. At some point, Izuku scoots surreptitiously closer, arm brushing against his mentor's, and Toshinori smiles.
Home… he thinks, wrapping one arm around his boy's shoulders. I'm home. Something warm bubbles up in his chest.
Something very warm.
And hot. Dense— like a hard fist clenched right in the center of his ribcage. Toshinori's breath catches in his throat, and the background noise fades as he comes to a rigid stop.
Then at 8:49 sharp, something in Toshinori's chest pops, and the cup he’d been wiping clatters into the sink.
Flare-ups ache. They ache deep and hard enough to make you feel like you're dying on the worst days, but this isn't an ache. Toshinori feels like he's been shot, and shot again. To the point that he reels back to look, but there's nothing staining his shirt this time.
Toshinori barely hears Izuku's alarmed call as he stumbles back. Sweat beads on his brow and the sink doubles before his eyes.
Spasming, he grabs at his chest. His neck. His side. Toshinori can't pinpoint it, but it doesn't matter— the pain is everywhere. And then, burning like acid, it pushes up his throat and out with a ratcheting convulsion.
It only lasts for a moment before white fire erupts in Toshinori’s chest, stronger than before. His eyes roll back, and Izuku screams.
Toshinori’s eyes snap open (when did they close?), and everything flickers. Somehow he’s on the floor now; sagged against a cabinet. His head pounds like a drum, and everything is bright— too bright. Izuku is still frozen by the sink, shaking and silent; a look of unbridled fear on his pale face. Toshinori tries to call out— to comfort him— but his lung caves on what feels like broken glass, and his eyes finally wander down…
That's a lot of blood.
That is a lot of blood.
Then Toshinori's eyes cross, and more splatters onto the tile with another head-splitting convulsion. The lights carve orange trails in his retinas, and he dimly recognizes his clothes; soaked black-red down the front.
Oh, shit, he thinks dimly. Oh.. shit…
Another spasm sends pins and needles through the parts of Toshinori's body that aren’t on fire, and he knows right then that he’s about to go under. Probably for good.
For some reason, all he can think of are those moments of cowardice; of bullshit ‘professionalism’ disguising fear. Of held hands and bandaged little arms clutching him like a lifeline.
Sorry, Toshinori thinks, gasping for air that doesn’t come. His eyes roll back again. I’m sorry.
Izuku’s horrified face flashes in Toshinori's mind as he drops off, and the ache in his chest finally fades.
Izuku hates the waiting game.
An hour ago, the common room had just begun to clear out after supper, but no longer. Almost every student in 1-A is crowded into the sitting area, and those who aren’t are close by. Considering the size of the group, there should be quite the babble going on, but all Izuku hears is nervous chatter. Present Mic and Midnight look no less tense, milling about and checking their phones every other minute. None of them could care less about curfew right now.
Kacchan keeps shooting him looks from where he’s hunched on the staircase, jaw ticking. He hadn’t been downstairs at the time. Izuku knows he must be dying to ask about what happened, but that would entail asking something of him, which both of them know is not about to happen.
Izuku wrings his hands again, staring a hole in the table. The solid thunk of All Might's head hitting the counter as he'd fainted loops in his mind; coupled with awful, guttural choking. He shudders.
It’s a bit grim to say Izuku is used to his mentor’s cough by now, but this was nothing like that. This was like a horror movie. It was only after he'd passed out for the second time that Izuku was able to make himself move.
Blood had still been running out of All Might's mouth as Izuku pressed a dish rag to the swollen gash at the base of his skull. That brief time before help came— fabric growing warm and damp against his fingers— were some of the most terrifying moments of Izuku’s life.
Help had come not from Aizawa-sensei, but from Present Mic; who had already been on the first floor. It was easy to forget that the flamboyant man was a trained professional sometimes, but when he’d commanded Izuku to help turn All Might on his stomach, there was nothing but steel urgency in his voice.
“I can’t start CPR until his airway is clear,” he’d explained.
With his teacher’s instruction, Izuku had kept pressure on the back of All Might’s head for one agonizing minute, watching in horror as a dinner plate-sized pool of crimson spread under his mentor's face.
It didn’t slow by the time Aizawa-sensei pulled Izuku away and took his place, calmly ordering him to go upstairs and change. Ms. Midnight had been keeping his classmates hemmed back, blocking their view of what lay behind the kitchen island. Izuku hadn’t even looked at them as he ran past, but he'd heard their cries of alarm at the red that painted his sweatpants. He heard the same shock from those he passed in the stairwell; all of them rushing down to see what had happened.
After pulling on a clean pair of shorts and washing his hands twice over, Izuku had sat on the floor of his bathroom and tried not to throw up. For once, he couldn't cry.
When he was sure he wasn’t going to be sick, Izuku went back downstairs with wobbly knees. Someone must have ordered his friends not to mob him, because everyone just stared as he quietly sat down at one of the tables. All Might and Aizawa-sensei were gone by then. If the mess by the sink was as well, Izuku wouldn’t know. He was sure if he looked over there now, he really would vomit.
Iida and Uraraka sat with him for a while; mostly to tell him that a campus transit van had taken All Might to the emergency room, but after a minute of tense exchange, they left him alone. Izuku felt guilty and grateful at the same time— talking felt too exhausting right now. Thankfully, everyone else gave him just as wide a berth.
Which led him to now: sitting by himself, trying to fight down the seismic breakdown just barely hovering in range of his control. Izuku wishes it wasn’t raining so he could go for a run, but he doubts the teachers would let him anyway.
The clock on the wall reads 11:07. Over an hour since All Might… Izuku doesn’t even know the word for it.
Died, a spastic thought interjects. Izuku just groans, pushing it down with a stab of fear. He picks at his nails; still half-expecting to see red underneath them, and the minute hand on the clock jerks forward as the second hand passes it. Izuku shoots out of his chair.
I can’t take this.
Ms. Midnight and Mic-sensei are talking amongst themselves by the television, both looking a bit disheveled in their civvies. He’s too spun up to care about being polite as he taps the latter on the arm.
“Anything?” he mumbles, quieter than he means to. The last update they gave rings in his head; nothing more than that All Might was going into emergency surgery. Izuku wonders how many of those his mentor has lived through before, and then he wonders if this is the last.
Izuku's teachers both give him this pitying look that makes something twist in his gut.
“‘Fraid not, little listener,” Mic says somberly, holding up his phone. “You’ll know as soon as we hear something— I promise.” Beside him, Midnight nods with more severity than Izuku thinks he’s seen from her before. The ball of nerves in his chest tightens.
On the way back to his spot at the table, Izuku is followed. He doesn’t even notice until he sits down, blinking at the two-toned eyes staring evenly back at him. Todoroki takes a seat next to him, silent as ever, and Izuku stares back, already dreading this conversation.
To his pleasant surprise, Todoroki doesn’t speak. Not at first. But he is the first to look away; eyes falling shut with a small, heavy sigh.
“What?” Izuku says quietly. Todoroki blinks.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“No, wh—” Izuku huffs. “I know. Just— I meant what are you doing here?” He mumbles that last part, and guilt stings him in the gut. Todoroki is a friend. Izuku shouldn't be talking to a friend this way.
But Todoroki hardly seems to notice the sharpness in his voice— or if he does, he's good at hiding it.
"You care a lot about him, don't you?" He asks, steamrolling over Izuku's question.
Izuku sighs. "I swear, if you're here to make any wild accusations—"
"I'm here because you look scared."
Izuku looks at him fully for the first time, scanning his expression for any offense, but there's none. More guilt.
"M'sorry," he mumbles. Todoroki just shrugs.
"You don't have to say anything," he says. "But when I shut down like this, Fuyumi never left me alone. I don't know if that's what you're supposed to do, but—"
"No," Izuku sighs, laying his head on the table. "No, it's… You're fine. Thank you."
Neither of them say much after that. True to his word, Todoroki doesn't try to make Izuku talk, but the company is kind of nice. The group in the sitting area is a bit quieter now; it sounds like someone's put on a movie.
“Were you down here?” Izuku murmurs, not lifting his head. “I mean—when it happened?”
"It was…" Izuku trails off. Outside, he can hear rain plopping into puddles trenched from the eaves of the building.
"Todoroki,” he whispers. “What if he dies?" He clasps his hands overhead to keep them from shaking. It doesn’t work very well. “W-What if All Might dies and the last thing he saw was me just— just standing there? Or what if he dies because I didn't catch him?”
Izuku sniffles, and against his will, a few tears escape. It’s hard to picture the man succumbing to something so… domestic. But perfectly healthy people die every single day because they fall off step ladders or choke on their breakfast. He shudders.
“I’m sure he’s used to this,” Todoroki intercepts, dragging Izuku back down to Earth. “His cough is already bad enough, and I bet he has worse days than—”
"No," Izuku snaps, shaking his head. "No, I’ve seen the worse days, and you— you weren't there. It wasn't like n-normal. He…" Izuku shudders, hands dragging down his face. "I-it just wouldn’t stop…"
To his credit, Todoroki looks offset by that; face pinched in the barest definition of a grimace.
“And he didn’t look used to it, he looked terrified. It wasn’t just a flare-up— this…”
Izuku realizes maybe he’s letting a bit too much fly out of his mouth, but panic is loosening his tongue. He clams up before anything more incriminating can escape, laying his head back down on the table and closing his eyes.
A black void greets him, endless and cushioned with silence. Izuku blinks, opening his mouth, but his mouth is gone, as it always is. And yet, he always tries calling out to the others.
Where are they?
Izuku cranes as best he can, rooted to the spot with legs he can’t feel. Other vague, familiar shapes stand behind him, but unlike before, none of them are paying attention to him. Izuku follows every shadowed gaze to some horizon he cannot see, and the dark burns his eyes. Then ahead, something flickers. And Izuku stares, because that’s all he can do.
It’s too far to see, but it must be one of the holders. He squints as his vision doubles, staring across the void at the dim mote of light as it tries to take shape. Behind him, someone— one of the others— cries out. Izuku would be startled, but he’s too transfixed by the distant point. Too hypnotized.
It’s so far away… Why is it—
Something shakes him by the arm, and Izuku starts, blanching. The void vanishes behind his eyelids.
“Midoriya, wake up.”
“Gah— what was that for?” Izuku snaps. Then he blinks. It’s Iida standing over him; not Todoroki. And definitely not one of the holders.
The chair beside Izuku is empty, but there’s a quilt draped over his shoulders that slides to the floor when he sits up. The common room is abuzz again, but the TV is off, and everyone looks groggy as they mill about. There are fewer of them down here now.
“What’s happening?” Izuku asks, shooting to his feet. “What time is it?”
“Almost one,” Iida says. “Aizawa-sensei is on his way back.” Izuku’s heart jumps to his throat.
“Is All Might okay?” he blurts, dream forgotten.
Iida frowns. “I don’t know.” he admits. “No one does. He said he would talk to everyone once he got here.”
Izuku’s heart plummets right back down, crashing through his stomach like a meteor. That's not good. That’s never good. People don’t show up on your doorstep in the middle of the night because they have good news.
"O-okay," Izuku mutters. Behind Iida, Mina and Sero thump up the stairs; probably on their way to wake the others. By the time they all return, tense silence has settled over the room— a stark contrast to the rolling murmur from before.
Izuku takes to pacing rather than muttering; wearing a line in the hardwood with his arms folded over his head. For every footfall, his heart thumps in double-time, thoughts whirling.
He isn’t facing the door, but he knows exactly when Aizawa-sensei walks in based on the cacophony of chairs screeching and people shouting. Izuku is with them in an instant.
The man looks… rough. And not his normal brand of rough, either, but well and truly beaten down. Even his binding cloth is slung around his elbow, like its weight is too much for his hunched shoulders to bear. All it takes is a raised hand to silence the class, apprehension hanging thick as fog in place of the racket.
"Is everyone here?" he mutters, side-eyeing his colleagues. Midnight nods, and Aizawa-sensei lets out a sigh.
"Alright," he drones, fixing them all in a bereaved gaze. "It's late, and I've never been the type to mince words, so I'm going to make this brief." He pauses, rubs his eyes, and sighs again.
"Before I tell you anything, I want you all to keep in mind that All Might has been stabilized. Not out of the woods, mind you, but getting there. Hopefully."
Izuku blinks. Something that isn't quite relief loosens the knot of anxiety in his gut— until Aizawa continues.
"Your teacher suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage tonight. It's tricky nailing down the cause once it happens, but the doctors are ruling it due to extended strain. Causation aside, the fact is that there is a centimeter-long tear in the lining of his lung."
Izuku goes cold. Around the room, gasps and pale faces abound, and Aizawa doesn’t stop for them.
“Like I said, he’s stable for now. They’re waiting till morning to decide on further treatment, but…” He sighs, pinching his brow. “Listen. All Might is still in bad shape. Very bad. If the right people with the right quirks hadn’t been in that operating room, he would have drowned in minutes. He’s already had two blood transfusions. And…” Aizawa-sensei trails off, leaving mortified silence in his wake.
Unsure isn’t an expression Izuku is accustomed to seeing on his teacher’s face, but the man wavers nonetheless, shifting his weight as he glowers at the hardwood.
“He… flatlined twice,” he says quietly. “Once for one minute, and then again for three and a half more. Lucky doesn't begin to cover it. Especially for someone in his condition. Keep him in your thoughts tonight.” Aizawa-sensei pauses.
“And if any of you have to see Recovery Girl in the near future—” his eyes briefly flick to Izuku. “Be nice to her. Do what she says. She is… not taking this well.” A little bit of weight looks like it leaves Aizawa’s body with that. “That’s all— I’ll give updates as they come in, and talk to one of us if you need anything. You’re dismissed.”
No one moves. It doesn’t sound like anyone even breathes. Izuku's head is full of static.
For four minutes, All Might was dead. It doesn’t feel real. A stone lodges in Izuku’s throat, and the pane-glass doors behind Aizawa-sensei blur. For four minutes… his mentor wasn’t on this Earth with him. Something in his chest splinters.
A high, thin keen breaks the silence, but it’s not Izuku. He dazedly glances around the common room before his eyes land on Hagakure; or at least, the tears trailing down the empty space where her cheeks are. Only a few others turn their heads.
And just like that, the spell breaks, and most of the class is joining in; sagging onto the couches with a myriad of emotions. Most of the girls crowd around Hagakure, sniffling, while a few— Kacchan included— hang their heads and make for the stairwell. But most sit hunched on the couches or perched on armrests; all wearing the same shell-shocked expression, to some degree. Some eyes are mistier than others, but Izuku’s aren’t among them.
A door shutting jolts him out of his stupor, and Izuku catches a glimpse of Aizawa-sensei's back leaving the dim haze of light from inside the doors. Heart skipping a beat, Izuku takes after him without thinking.
The cold rain that smacks his face feels like a volley of coins, but Izuku barely feels the chill. All that matters is the retreating form of his teacher down the footpath.
"Wait!" Izuku cries. "Sens— wait!"
Aizawa freezes, turning. It isn’t until Izuku catches up that he speaks.
“Midoriya, it’s pouring.”
“I don’t care about that!” Izuku crows, neglecting to point out that Aizawa-sensei doesn’t have an umbrella either. His eyes feel molten in comparison to the rain; he already knows he’s crying.
“Kid... ” Aizawa says, only marginally softer as he takes a step closer. “Are you alright?” Hiccuping, Izuku shakes his head frantically, scattering rain and bitter tears.
“No, I’m—” he stutters. “No!”
“I have to know he’s okay!”
The white noise of rain feels even louder in the silence that follows.
“.. All Might,” Aizawa says bluntly. Izuku nods, biting his lip to keep a sob in.
“I have to know,” he whimpers. “I can’t just—” a hiccup. “Wait around for him— not again. Not when he could still…” Izuku covers his eyes, sniffling. “I can’t,” he whimpers. “I can’t…”
A hand resting on his shoulder startles Izuku out of his meltdown. Aizawa-sensei is just barely visible, but he doesn’t look angry.
Why did you leave him there alone? Izuku wants to scream.
“Can’t wait,” the man says, “or something else?” The question isn’t condescending; there’s an almost gentle coaxing underneath that loosens some of the anxiety in Izuku’s chest.
“I can’t,” he hedges. “I can’t… leave him.” Aizawa quirks an eyebrow; explain, the motion implies. Izuku stands a bit straighter. “I can’t leave him because— because he has no one to stay with him,” he says, gripping one wrist. “A-and Tsukauchi-san doesn’t count. Or the doctors— I mean…” Izuku huffs, risking a glance at his teacher, who nods for him to continue. “When I’m in the hospital, it’s like… everything feels worse until my mom gets there.” Or All Might, he thinks. “And All Might doesn’t have that. Not that I’ve seen, so..”
Izuku trails off, shuffling in place. His shoes feel like sponges.
“And you know this because…” Aizawa-sensei mutters. And Izuku vaporlocks, because he has no idea how to go into all that. The water rushing at the edge of the grass suddenly looks way more interesting. After a time, a heavy exhale breaks the silence.
“Damn it...” his teacher mutters. “Listen. Tomorrow is a Saturday.” Izuku’s eyes widen, hope bursting like a firecracker in his chest. “If you are downstairs by 7:30, I cannot promise you I’ll be able to get you in before he goes in for surgery again. Understand?”
Izuku looks up, gaping. “Y-yes,” he murmurs. “Yes sir. Thank you so—”
“Don’t thank me yet, problem child,” Aizawa-sensei interjects. “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, just like you. But we’ll try.” There is quite the somber pause after that. “Get inside and take a shower before you catch cold. Don’t want to have to throw you in there with him.”
And that’s all he has to say about that. As Izuku watches Aizawa-sensei retreat, he hears an exasperated "go on, Midoriya," but somehow, it sounds more like that coaxing tone again.
The walk back feels longer, and Izuku doesn’t realize how soaked he is until he steps under the awning and water rolls off his clothes enough to puddle around his shoes. The common room is nearly empty now. Just before he opens the door, Izuku stops.
… Please, he thinks, unsure of who or what he’s praying to, exactly. The vestiges flash in his mind, and the lingering dregs of a dream he can’t remember. Please don’t take Toshinori.
… Please don’t take my dad.