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“He’s awake,” the nurse says, leading Toshinori to a door. “But he’s—” her lips quirk up in a half-smile. “He’s still a little loopy from the Tramadol right now. He probably won’t even remember you were here, but just talk to him for a minute; he’s been asking for you.”

Toshinori nods grimly, wishing he could share her amusement. The diagnosis relays in his head: kneecap and femur shattered; fractured hip and shin. No doubt it's one of Izuku's nastier injuries from the past few months, though at least this time it's due to a training accident rather than further complications with his quirk.

Toshinori remembers getting the call. Evidently, a cement column had come loose and crushed the poor boy’s leg during some search and rescue exercise. Toshinori hadn’t been there when it happened, but he’d ridden in the ambulance. The ten minutes it had taken to get to the emergency room had felt like an eternity.

Toshinori mutters his thanks to the nurse before entering the room, and to his relief, Izuku doesn’t appear to be in any immediate pain. They have him propped up on a small mountain of pillows, and when he sees Toshinori, a big dopey grin spreads on his face. That alone is enough to ease the man’s spirits a bit. It's a far cry from the numb mask of shock he wore on the ride to the hospital.

Pulling up a chair, Toshinori smiles back, keeping his voice low.

“Hello, my boy.”

Izuku just stares at him, eyes dilated, and Toshinori sighs, already gearing up for a very one-sided conversation. “Well,” he continues. “Recovery Girl will be back from Shibuya tomorrow, but I’m afraid you’ll be roughing it like everyone else till then.”

Crickets. Still, Izuku’s unwavering, slack-jawed stare manages get a chuckle out of Toshinori. “But I have to say—” he teases. “It looks like they already have you covered, my boy.”

There's another beat before Izuku blinks, smile widening, and promptly bursts into a fit of giggles. Toshinori’s eyebrows shoot up, and he lets out a startled laugh of his own.

“What is it?” he laughs, leaning closer. Howling, Izuku flops back into the pillows. His face is very quickly turning red while he desperately tries to wrap noodly arms around his stomach. It isn’t working very well. His ordeal stretches on for the next several moments, and Toshinori discovers that the laughter is contagious when he has to press a hand over his mouth to stifle an outburst of his own.

Finally, Izuku seems to tucker himself out, gulping deep breaths with a grin still plastered on his equally plastered face, and neither of them say anything while they catch their breath. Then it happens, and it happens slowly. Dewy with tears, Izuku's gaze mischievously slides back over to Toshinori. And his breath hitches.

"Ah— hey now," the man warns, playfully raising a hand. "Don't you dare—"

He doesn’t finish before Izuku explodes again. Though this time, the laughter is replaced with one long, drawn-out wheeze. Izuku is guffawing so hard it looks like he’s in pain, quaking with silent giggles while tears run down the sides of his face. Toshinori lets his head drop melodramatically into his palm— massages his temples while his shoulders shake with mirth. This is better than seeing Izuku in pain, at least.

“Kid,” Toshinori gasps through his laughter. “Kid, you’re gonna kill me.”

But soon enough Izuku wears himself out again, sagging back into the bed with a few hearty gulps of air while he calms down. Before something else can set him off, Toshinori stands and settles beside him on the edge of the mattress. Izuku thankfully falls silent, staring at his mentor with the same dopey grin as before. But this time, he also looks so blissfully confused, cheeks still flushed from laughing. Toshinori shakes his head, smiling.

“What am I going to do with you?” he murmurs, brushing the bangs out of Izuku’s eyes where they've stuck to his forehead. The kid almost melts, and his eyes close as he leans into the touch. Huffing a quiet laugh, Toshinori changes tactics, combing a hand through his hair. Maybe he can get him to fall asleep this way.

“Are you hurting anywhere?” he asks a minute later, when Izuku's eyes blink open again (so much for that). The answer is most assuredly no, but Toshinori can’t help but say something. The memory of the ambulance ride flashes in his mind; of his poor boy shaking so hard that a tech had to hold him down on the gurney so they could get an IV in. Toshinori held his hand all the way to the hospital. Back in the present, Izuku looks down, deliberating the question, before shaking his head.

“Good,” Toshinori hums, resuming the gentle combing. "That’s good." It looks like it’s working; Izuku’s eyelids droop as he sinks deeper into the pillows, and for a minute or two they just sit like that, wrapped in comfortable silence. It doesn’t last.

“All Might,” Izuku mumbles, eyes cracking open. Toshinori perks up.

“Hm? What is it, my boy?” Izuku is looking at him funny.

“I…” he whimpers, significantly unhappier than before. Toshinori’s brow furrows.

That's not right.

Izuku doesn’t speak up, and Toshinori feels a tug of unease in his gut as the silence stretches on. It only strengthens when, slowly, Izuku’s dazed expression begins to crumble; lips pressing into a quivering line while the glassyness of his eyes turns into tears. Toshinori’s unease ramps into alarm, and he pulls one leg onto the bed to face Izuku.

“Hey— hey,” he croons frantically, cupping Izuku’s face in his hands. “Look at me— what’s wrong? Do I need to call a nurse?” Izuku shakes his head, screwing his eyes up with a whimper, which forces two huge tears out. Toshinori’s heart clenches. “Oh, my boy, don’t cry…” he says, catching them before they can fall. In return, Izuku hacks weak sobs and devolves into a full meltdown.

Toshinori heaves a weary sigh and closes his eyes. He was afraid of this. In fact, he'd had his doubts ever since the doctor came to him an hour ago, asking for permission to put Izuku on Tramadol. For his sake, Toshinori had relented, having seen how dire the situation was, but in the end his suspicions were true. It's hitting Izuku hard.

But you don't have to go through it alone, my boy.

“Okay,” Toshinori whispers. “Okay, come here. Come here…” Izuku is mostly limp as he gently pulls him off the bed into his arms, holding his head steady against his shoulder. Izuku just trembles and lets out breathy, pitiful sobs that make Toshinori's heart sink. He doesn't let it show, though. He just rubs slow circles into the poor boy’s back, murmuring comfort.

“I know what you’re dealing with," he whispers. "Painkillers this strong… they mess with your head. One minute everything is hilarious, and the next minute, the world is ending.” Izuku whimpers something that vaguely sounds like agreement.

And you feel all numb and gross, Toshinori continues mentally, remembering his own less-than-pleasant stays. And your head won’t stop spinning, and you don’t know what’s happening, but everything feels like too much.

"I—" A small voice breaks through Toshinori’s thoughts. "I nn— I—" it squeaks.

“Shh… Breathe, my boy,” Toshinori hushes. “For now, just breathe. It’ll pass.” Izuku hiccups, falling quiet again, and for a very long two minutes, it’s just Toshinori holding him. Comforting him. "I'm here, my boy," he murmurs, patting Izuku's back. "I'm right here." Izuku just cries, and Toshinori doesn't blame him in the slightest. It is a little scary— waking up in a place you don't recognize, knowing you're hurt without any details. And adding drugs into the mix can make it even worse; Toshinori knows from experience.

For another minute or two after the meltdown, he thinks Izuku has fallen asleep. That is, until the boy squirms weakly in his arms. Toshinori lets him go with more than a little bit of hesitation, laying him down carefully on the pillows.

He winces at what he sees.

You poor thing...

“Here,” Toshinori says, passing Izuku a tissue box. He's at least lucid enough to blow his nose, but his face scrunches up when he can’t seem to do it very easily. Toshinori wipes his tears for him; a task easier said than done. When Izuku finally settles, Toshinori tries again.

“Now,” he coaxes. “What were you going to tell me?” Izuku blinks slowly, thinking long and hard about it.

“I’m…” he begins, sitting up as much as he can. His voice is thick and hoarse from crying. “I never came… t’see you.” Izuku blinks again and glowers; seemingly dissatisfied with his answer. Toshinori frowns too, but his is from confusion.

“See me?” he asks patiently. “You come see me all the time. You talked to me during lunch just a few days ago, remember?” Izuku’s face contorts, and he fervently shakes his head. Toshinori steadies him before he can fall over.

“No, that’s not— I didn’t—” Izuku continues, slinging an arm up in a vague gesture. “—come see you." Toshinori cocks his head, frown deepening as he gently goads him into laying back down.

“When didn’t you come see me?” he asks, laying a hand on Izuku’s arm. He’s cold.

“Here,” Izuku whimpers, eyes wide and pleading. Toshinori’s lips twitch up in a small, dumbfounded smile.

“My boy, you’re— what are you talking about? You weren’t even awake until a few minutes ago— not to mention you can’t walk. How could you have found me?” Izuku makes a guttural, irritated sound, sits up, and immediately flops back down on the pillows— too fast for Toshinori to catch him.

“But you’re here,” he whimpers pitifully as the tears well up again. Toshinori shakes his head, officially at a loss.

“Izuku…” he says sadly, dealing away with formality. “My boy… I just don’t understand…” He squeezes Izuku’s hand, wary of the IV taped to it. “I’m so sorry that I don’t understand.”

“Should’ve come…” Izuku weeps, oblivious to Toshinori’s comforts. “Should’ve been there… ‘m sorry…” he hiccups, sending a few tears rolling down the sides of his face into his hair. Toshinori’s heart constricts.

“Oh my boy…” he cooes, squeezing tighter as he smoothes Izuku’s hair back. The action does nothing to quell his distressed rambling, but Toshinori finally just relents and lets him ramble, giving his best shot at a sympathetic, understanding expression. It probably looks closer to pity.

Izuku is clearly not lucid; Toshinori begins to think the boy is so out of it that he's genuinely talking nonsense, but that doesn't mean he won't listen. It doesn't mean he won't try.

Gently, Toshinori turns Izuku's hand around and massages around the IV with his thumb. It's almost certain he can’t feel the itchy soreness right now, but Toshinori knows it's there, under the haze of the drugs. All the while, Izuku doesn’t stop going on about Toshinori being there for him (or at least that’s what it sounds like).

“Of course I am,” Toshinori whispers, leaning closer. “I'll always be here for you, my boy.” He clamps down on the "as long as I can" that almost slips out of his mouth; no need to add fuel to the emotional fire.

“That’s the problem,” Izuku whines, voice breaking. "You're always h— h-here… to make me feel better," he croaks. "And I'm not."

“Yes you are,” Toshinori says, patting his hand. A small, sad smile plays on his lips. “I feel better just by being around you.” He expects that to cheer Izuku up at least slightly, but instead the poor boy just looks crushed. More tears creep down his face, and Toshinori's smile falls with a small, sympathetic noise in the back of his throat.

"Izuku…" he whispers, wiping the tears away. "My boy, what’s it going to take to make you feel better? I promise, whatever you need me to do, I'll do it." Toshinori entertains the fact that maybe there is no way; that Izuku is so out of it that he can't be reasoned with. Maybe he's upset over nothing in particular, but that's almost worse. It means there's no direct solution.

Toshinori reaches for him again, but Izuku pushes his arms away. Instead, he sits up and jabs a finger into Toshinori's chest, startling him. "And who makes you feel better?" Izuku hisses drunkenly. "Who gives you hugs? Who holds y— your hand and tells you it's going to be okay when you get hurt?" Just like that, the anger burns out, and Izuku is weeping again.

Toshinori balks at him, sternum aching from the crooked finger still stabbing into it, and something clicks into place. He gasps. It's taken an embarrassingly long time, but finally he understands.

"The hospital…" Toshinori whispers. "Who comes to see me in the hospital… That's what you mean, isn't it?” He rests a cautious hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “That’s what all of this is about."

Izuku nods so fast he makes himself dizzy, swaying a bit before slumping against the pillows again. The tears haven’t stopped coming.

"You're always h-here when I wake up," Izuku croaks; so quietly that Toshinori has to strain to hear him. "And I should have been here too— there. All for One," he sniffles. "I had the whole day to come f-find you… should have ignored M-Mr. Aizawa— should've snuck out and found where you were, but… I should have c-come, but…" Izuku hiccups, curling in on himself in shame. "But I didn't…" he weeps. "I'm sorry. I'm s-so sorry…"

Covering his eyes, Izuku succumbs to a peal of far-louder sobs that don’t stop. Not even when Toshinori pulls him into his arms a second time, wrapping his small frame in a tight, trembling hold.

“Kamino?” he whispers, bony grip curling in Izuku's hair. “That’s what you’re worried about?” That was months ago now. Months. Heaving a pitiful sob, Izuku nods into Toshinori's shoulder.

"H-had to t- tell me to- to meet you…" he chokes. "That night. The beach. Had to wake up b—" he sobs. "By yours- self . Al- lone. Should have been there for you, should have— should have…" Izuku trails off, hiccuping. "Must have been sca—" sob. "awful t— lose it," he whispers. "Just s-slept all day. Didn't do—" he hiccups. "Anything."

There’s the faint smell of hospital shampoo and rubbing alcohol as Toshinori pulls Izuku closer, burying his face in the boy’s hair to hide his forming tears. Even if he knew what to say, Toshinori isn’t sure if he could get it out right now. Not without breaking down.

I don’t deserve you.

“Oh my boy…” he whispers, throat closing up. "Izuku, why? Why wouldn’t you come to me about this sooner?”

Because he’s probably never had anything this strong loosening his tongue, Toshinori thinks, feeling one or two tears drip into Izuku’s hair. The medicine they had given him wasn’t even supposed to be prescribed to minors, but they had been having such a hard time sedating him that they got special clearance for it.

Is that what it takes? Miserably, Toshinori pulls his boy closer, nuzzling into his hair. Is that what it comes to for you to open up to me? Where did I go so wrong?

“Izuku,” Toshinori finally whispers, pulling back a bit. “Please look at me.” He eases a hand under Izuku's chin, tilting it up. Sniffling, Izuku lets him, peering up at Toshinori with huge, sad eyes. The sight hurts his heart; he wants nothing more than to keep holding him.

But I have to set this right first.

“I want you to listen to me,” Toshinori begins, steadying his poor student with a firm hold on his shoulders. “I wasn’t alone that day. Not at all.” Izuku blinks at him, confused.

“I wasn’t,” Toshinori reiterates. “I was fine. From the moment I woke up, Gran and Tsukauchi were with me, and we were all talking, and even without them, there were so many others.” That part is completely true; between the press and the authorities, Toshinori hadn’t had a moment to himself.

Izuku is stuck in a thoughtful quiet, mulling Toshinori’s words over with still-misty eyes boring into the sheets. Toshinori lets him think for a moment before speaking up again.

“Not to mention I was only in the hospital for a few hours— and I definitely wasn’t half as banged up as you usually are.” Toshinori’s eyes soften. “Troublemaker,” he teases gently, giving Izuku’s hair a ruffle.

That part is a bit less true; Toshinori had been in the hospital the entire day, and he’d had to practically claw his way out from under a dozen or so doctors begging him to stay overnight, but Toshinori couldn’t. He’d had somewhere to be.

Surely I can stretch the truth a bit, though, he thinks, watching Izuku closely. The boy’s glossy eyes still haven’t left the bedclothes for all his pondering.

“But…” Izuku suddenly whimpers, breaking the spell. “But it… it’s not the same.”

And once again— just when Toshinori thinks he might have gotten through to him— the boy's tears return. Heavily, he sighs, rubbing resigned circles between Izuku’s shoulder blades as he begins weeping again.

It’s over. Even though he’s finally gotten to the bottom of Izuku’s turmoil, Toshinori knows right then and there that it doesn’t matter. The poor kid is just out of it enough that he can’t be reasoned with.

I’m so, so sorry, my boy, he thinks.

“Well…” Toshinori says, heart leaden with guilt. All he can do is look Izuku in the eyes with all the sincerity he can. “Thank you. Thank you so much for telling me.” His voice wavers with emotion as he pulls Izuku a bit closer. “I know it was hard.”

Izuku just looks at him with those big streaming eyes and nods; all the emotion in the world shining in their depths. Toshinori gives a weak smile in return. “And thank you for… for caring about me,” he whispers. If he spoke any louder, his voice would break.

“But Izuku—” Toshinori squeezes his shoulders as tight as he dares. “My boy. Listen to me. If you remember nothing else, I at least want you to hear this.” He pulls him even closer so that their foreheads are almost touching, willing his boy to listen. “There is nothing to forgive. You hear me? Nothing. You were right where you were supposed to be that day— at home. Safe. Resting. And I was doing the same thing.” Toshinori lays one hand on Izuku’s cheek, eyes warm. “Do you understand?” he murmurs. "It's okay. Everything is okay."

Izuku just stares at him; glassy-eyed as ever. When he finally tries to nod, Toshinori is just in time to steady him before his eyes flicker shut and his head lolls.

"Whoa there.” Toshinori can’t smother the chuckle that bubbles up in his throat when Izuku snaps awake, blinking. “Alright, my boy,” he chides gently. “Enough of all this. All you need to be doing now is resting.” Reaching behind Izuku, he pulls a few of the pillows off the bed and sets them aside.

“I don’t know about you,” he murmurs, ever-mindful of Izuku’s leg while he carefully lays him down. “But I can never sleep sitting up. You can imagine the coughing fits I get, heh.” Izuku stares at him with some kind of emotion as Toshinori tucks the bedclothes over his shoulders, but he can’t place it.

“Come on,” he coaxes, once he’s returned to the bedside chair. “Close your eyes.” Then softer: “I know you’re tired, Izuku.”

It takes a minute before Izuku finally surrenders, letting his eyes fall shut, and he seems to deflate under the covers. Toshinori heaves a sigh of relief; that's the end of it, he thinks.

Until Izuku’s IV-taped hand flops out from under the covers, and his eyes open, fixing Toshinori in a sleep-heavy gaze.

“Does it hurt?” he asks in a hush, face creasing in concern. Izuku blinks ever-so slowly at him, pupils still blown so wide Toshinori can almost see his head swimming. Finally, the boy shakes his head as best he can with half his face smushed in the pillow. He stretches his hand out further, crooked fingers splayed, and Toshinori understands.

“Oh,” he says quietly, taking Izuku’s hand in his. “Oh…”

Izuku sighs into the comforter, eyes slipping shut again. The sight brings a fond smile to Toshinori’s face, and he weaves his fingers through his boy’s much colder ones, squeezing.

“It’s okay,” he whispers, running a thumb over scarred knuckles. “I’ve got you… I’ve got you.”

Toshinori knows there will likely be groaning instead of giggling when Izuku next wakes up— after the meds have run their course— but he’ll still be here to help him through it. He always will. Every single time.

Toshinori feels the smallest squeeze around his own hand, and a pang runs through his heart.

Is it okay to… surely it is… he thinks, patchwork stomach flipping at the words stuck in the back of his throat. She did say he wouldn’t remember…

But even so, it’s not until Izuku’s grip has slackened in his; breathing even and slow with sleep, that Toshinori can speak.

“Izuku,” he whispers, looking at the rapidly blurring floor. “My boy… I don’t tell you this enough, but… well— I don’t think I’ve ever told you before.” Toshinori squeezes Izuku’s hand again. “I’m sorry for that,” he whimpers, closing his eyes. “So sorry.” He takes a deep breath.

“I… I love you, Izuku,” Toshinori says. “And sometimes it just… it just hits me— how lucky I am to know you.” His voice is wobbling something awful.

“And every time you come eat lunch with me, or fuss over me, or make me smile, I just think… I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve you.” Two huge tears manage to get loose, and Toshinori scrubs his face with one arm. He knows he’s talking to an empty room right now; Izuku fell asleep minutes ago, and under the fog of the medicine, it doesn’t look like anything could wake him. Let alone the gentle hand that settles on his cheek.

“You’re the light of my life,” Toshinori croaks. “And I don’t know why I— I’m s-so scared to say that to you.”

It’s a lie. It’s a complete lie, and Toshinori feels a sickle of guilt curl in his gut the instant he says it. He knows exactly why. It’s because of the rejection; the possibility— no matter how small— that he could be vastly wrong about Izuku’s feelings towards him. The fear of losing what closeness they already have by pushing too hard. Toshinori thinks of the long, lonely years before he met Izuku (God, it already feels like forever ago) and shudders at the thought of going back there again.

Toshinori had never quite realized the scope of his loneliness until Kamino. Before, it had been something almost ignorable; something he could push down and out of mind during the day when he was flying a hundred feet above the skyline, or more recently— teaching his class. It was something he could manage; only rearing its head late in the evening, when he’d amble into his dark apartment, drained.

Toshinori still likes to pretend his workaholic lifestyle was due to the actual work; to the act of saving people— and it was, for the most part. But he can’t deny that there was always a small, shameful part of himself that was always just trying to delay that long walk home. To wring out every last good deed; every last drop of time he could possibly spare until he was strung out and aching at night; too tired to do much else than collapse on the couch.

All Might didn’t live in that empty shell of an apartment; Yagi Toshinori did. Yagi Toshinori. That sick old man next door. The man who lived alone and never had any company.

And after Kamino, Yagi Toshinori was all that was left.

He'd told Izuku he’d been fine in the hospital that day, but the truth was, Toshinori had been spiraling. He had zoned through all those conversations, speaking on autopilot the way only a long career in the field could enable him to. He hadn't been fine. Not really. Not until hours later, when he'd left.

No— in reality, Toshinori had been unnerved by every disbelieving look the investigators, journalists, and government suits sent his way when they thought he wasn’t paying attention. Scratch that; he'd been afraid. Because now, there was nowhere to run from that. No escape from the shock and pity that was normally reserved for Yagi Toshinori. That sick old man was all that had survived, and that was frightening. He couldn't run. He couldn't fight. All Might was dead, and now it would just be Toshinori; the same broken body, 24 hours a day. 365 days a year. If all that wasn't enough, people knew who he was. He couldn't even hide anymore.

So, no. Toshinori hadn't been fine that day. He had been terrified.

But talking had still been better than being alone with his thoughts, so no matter how tired he got, Toshinori let the people come. At least until visiting hours ended, when even Gran and Tsukauchi started packing up. Then, he had panicked. Nana always said people made stupid decisions when they panicked.

In the end, it was only Toshinori's status that got him out of that hospital that night, as much as he hated to leverage that against the doctors who were only trying to help him. But he couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t lie awake in that empty room all night, so he left. And then he'd gone to the beach, typing frantically away on his phone while shame ate him alive.

There was still one more person to talk to.

Hugs were something Toshinori rarely thought about. He gave them sometimes in the course of his career; mostly to disaster victims, or to his own students after the Sports Festival, but they were mainly a formality. It was like another part of his job; something to be given, not received.

Seeing Izuku that night (alive, so blessedly alive) had already set Toshinori's emotions spiraling, but feeling those stocky little arms latch onto him so desperately had driven Toshinori to tears. That hug hadn’t been for All Might— it was for him. And he had regretted only having one arm to pull Izuku closer. Suddenly, Toshinori hadn't wanted to hide. He didn't need to; he was safe. With Izuku, he was safe. He was held.

He was wanted.

It was the first time Toshinori could remember almost saying it; wanting so badly to say it, but he couldn’t. Just like he couldn’t a few minutes ago; when Izuku might have heard him. But the truth had still been there, burning in Toshinori’s chest as bright and warm as a signal flare.

He loved him. He loved him so much it hurt.

And the thing is, Toshinori knows Izuku loves him too. He’s known this since the day he met the boy; and really, is it so surprising? There are scores of people who love him— everyone loves All Might. But there’s a line between loving someone and loving them— a fine line, but a line nonetheless. And Toshinori doesn’t want to cross it; not while there’s the slightest chance that he could be wrong. That Izuku loves All Might, and not Yagi Toshinori.

Listen to yourself, a snide voice in his head chimes in. That child looks at you like you hung the stars, no matter what you look like. No matter how many times he sees how fucked up you are. He still wants to hold your hand. You have no excuse, you coward.

An uglier voice; one that sounds more like Toshinori’s own, interjects. Then where the hell was everyone else for twenty years?! Why the fuck should anyone forget what it feels like to be hugged?! There’s a pressure building in the back of his throat that he knows is a sob. Where was my love when I needed it?

Besides Gran (who he all-but pushed away), Toshinori can't think of a companion that didn’t know him as All Might first. The last person who loved Yagi Toshinori before All Might been Nana.

And would you have done the same? A third voice almost weeps as Toshinori squeezes his dear boy’s hand. Would you have stayed with me if you didn’t know who I was? Would you have loved me too?

Despite his worst doubts, that tiny flame in Toshinori’s heart tells him yes.

“Why?” he whisper-croaks, vision blurring as he tugs Izuku’s hand closer to his heart. “Why can I never tell you how I feel when you can hear me?” He hacks a quiet sob. “Why is being close to people so hard?”

Izuku doesn’t answer; his sleep-softened expression still reads dead to the world. Dejectedly, Toshinori sighs, leaning back in his chair.

Someday, he thinks. Someday, but not yet… I’m not strong enough yet.

Of course you’re not, the ugly voice retorts. You’ll never be strong enough. You let yourself get too attached. Losing him now would be an amputation, and you know it— you idiot bleeding-heart.

Toshinori gulps, wiping away more tears. It’s true. All of it.

But…

He heaves a shuddering sigh, and looks at his boy. Izuku’s face is almost blissful now, small hand still cradled in Toshinori’s, and his eyelids have begun to twitch every now and then. He would think the drugs would be strong enough to keep him from dreaming, but apparently not. Warmth chases away the dread in Toshinori’s chest, and a soft smile grows on his face as he runs a hand through Izuku’s hair.

What are you dreaming about? He wonders. At the touch, Izuku’s expression relaxes, and Toshinori feels that familiar rush of affection. For now, it’s enough to drive the dark thoughts back into the furthest corners of his mind.

Sleep well, son.

Maybe someday soon, the day will come when Toshinori can open up in full; tell Izuku just how precious he is to him. How much he loves him. How he’s come to see him as his own.

But for now, while Izuku needs him, Toshinori is content to just be here.

Chapter Text

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.

"Yes."

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.

Toshinori shrugs.

"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.

"That's good."

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.

Say it.

Something very warm.

"Izuku..."

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.

Can’t breathe.

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.

Relief.

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…

He blinks.

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?”

“No.”

"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.

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—

“Midoriya.”

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.

Dead.

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!”

“Midoriya—”

“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.