Izuku is flying high as he races back to UA from his apartment. He had spent a whole forty-eight hours with his mom, just soaking up as much time with her as he could. He likes the dorms well enough, but he had missed his mom. So even as he heads back, he feels lighter than air.
Izuku is moving so quickly he does not see the old lady until it is too late to stop himself. He crashes into her, and they both go sprawling, the groceries that she was carrying spilling out onto the sidewalk.
“I’m so sorry, are you okay?” Izuku asks, scrambling up and away from the old lady, checking her for significant damage as he goes.
“I’m alright, a little tumble won’t break me,” she says as she sits up and meets Izuku’s eyes with a smile. Izuku smiles back, glad that she is not hurt or mad at him. He starts to collect the groceries that had spilled all over the sidewalk.
“Oh dear, you don’t have to do that.”
“It’s no trouble!” Izuku tells her as he places the items back into bags, “And besides, I’m the reason why they were spilled in the first place!”
Once all the groceries are back in the bags, Izuku stands back up and hands them over to the old lady. She gathers them into one hand, reaches out and strokes her hand across Izuku’s cheek, just under his eye.
“Thank you so much for helping.”
Izuku is still getting used to casual touches from his friends, so having this total stranger touch him makes his stomach churn slightly. But he has no idea how to politely ask her to stop, so he allows the contact to continue. Besides, she is a nice older lady, she probably has grandkids that she does this to all the time, so it would not be that weird for her.
“It was my pleasure!” Izuku tells her.
“You have such lovely eyes,” she comments, and Izuku feels heat rise to his cheeks. He ducks his head, finally breaking her contact with his face.
“I’ll let you be on your way then. Thank you for helping me! You’re my hero!” Izuku beams at her, then resumes his journey back to U.A. He does not want to miss curfew and have Aizawa-sensei have to fetch him.
Later that night, as he is staring at the ceiling of his room, Izuku feels exhausted, but he cannot seem to fall asleep. It has been hours now, and even though his limbs are weighing him down, his mind is still going a million miles a minute.
Izuku huffs a sigh as he repositions himself in his bed, hoping to find a position that will let him drift off. After a few minutes of his brain continuing to ping pong around, Izuku sits up and runs his fingers through his hair, wondering why he cannot seem to settle. He looks to the side of his bed, meeting All Might’s smiling face from one of the several posters he has hanging up around his room. He feels the corners of his cheeks turn up reflexively.
“Wish you could help me with this problem as well,” Izuku whispers into the dark of his bedroom.
Tear them down, something in the back of his mind whispers.
Izuku blinks as he registers the thought, then sighs as he flops back onto his bed and stares at the ceiling again. He lets out a heavy sigh and closes his eyes.
Maybe some of his older tricks for falling asleep might work. He has not had to use them in a while, but he still has all the old YouTube videos saved on his phone- just in case. He pulls the old playlist up and tries to focus on the soft sound of voices analyzing first generation heroes, instead of the thought that is still lingering in the back of his mind.
Izuku is beyond tired the next morning as his classes start. He had finally managed to fall asleep at some point, the videos working their magic. But it had felt like only seconds later that Iida had been knocking on his door, telling him to wake up.
He managed to drag himself out of bed, his exhaustion weighing him down like an almost physical weight that dragged him down with every move he made. Still, he made it to class, slipping in just before the bell rings, and earning a few concerned glances from his friends and classmates. He flashes them his best smile as he crosses the room, trying to project his usual bright energy, but it feels hollow. As he takes his seat, he can feel his smile fade. He doesn’t have the energy to spare for it.
He can feel a few sets of eyes on him as he pulls out his notes for the day, gazes that linger even as Aizawa-Sensei starts talking. He pushes them to the back of his mind, he only has the energy for one thing right now, and if he has to choose between reassuring his classmates and catching up to where he needs to be as a hero, he is going to pick the latter, every time. He can reassure his classmates later.
And so his morning classes pass in a haze. He tries to focus on what his teachers are telling him. Tries to take notes so that, even though he is not really comprehending what they are saying right now, he will have them for later. But focusing and writing notes takes energy, and Izuku’s reserves are low. Still he does his best to maintain the appearance that he is paying attention and being a diligent student.
He is relieved when the lunch bell rings. Like a weight has been lifted from his chest, and he can finally breathe.
That is, until Aizawa-Sensei calls out, “Midoriya, stay behind. I want to talk with you.”
You’re in trouble, whispers the back of his mind. You’re in trouble and he’s going to expel you.
There is a rock at the bottom of Izuku’s stomach as everyone packs up and leaves, his friends calling out, telling him they will save him a seat. Izuku gives them a strained smile as he watches them leave, his hands clenched in front of him in an effort to mask their shaking. He tries to breathe deeply and past the block in his throat as he works to convince himself that Aizawa-sensei was not going to expel him.
“You were distracted in class today Problem Child.” Izuku can feel his teacher’s eyes on him. But he knows this song and dance too well to meet them. Instead he keeps his eyes fixed on a single spot on his desk, studying the grains, reminding himself to not answer to anything that is not a direct question. The less he gives, the less his teachers have to use against him.
Aizawa-Sensei lets out a heavy sigh and Izuku can feel his shoulders rising up to meet his ears. There is shame and anxiety swirling in his stomach and Izuku can feel the tears forming at the corners of his eyes.
“Well?” Izuku wants to keep his mouth shut, but Aizawa-sensei has asked him a direct question now, so he has to give him an answer.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Izuku mumbles his answer to his desk. There is a moment after he answers where Izuku half expects Aizawa-sensei to do what none of his teachers have ever done before, push further, demand the truth. But the moment passes and he accepts Izuku’s words at face value.
“Go eat lunch Problem Child,” Aizawa-sensei says and Izuku scrambles to stand up. “And make sure you get a good night’s sleep, you’re not worth anything as a hero if you can’t pay attention.”
Izuku knows his teacher is correct, he knows that he needs to be able to pay attention, that he needs to catch up to where his classmates are. But the reminder still stings. A parting shot.
He moves quickly through the halls, part of him wondering if he can escape the feeling in his chest if he moves fast enough. Before he knows it, Izuku is right outside the lunch room. He pauses just outside the room, trying to prepare himself.
Turn around, they don’t want to see you anyways. Izuku squares his shoulders and pushes the thought to the back of his mind before he enters the cafeteria and walks up to where his friends are sitting at their regular table.
“Deku! What did Aizawa-sensei want to talk with you about?” Uraraka asks as soon as she catches sight of him.
“He wanted to know why I was almost late to class,” Izuku lies as he slips into the seat they left empty for him.
“I have to admit I was curious as to why you cut it so close as well,” Iida says, leaning over to look at Izuku.
“I just accidentally slept through my alarm,” Izuku tells them.
“Oh Deku, again?” Uraraka sighed as Iida launched into his usual long winded rant about proper sleep schedules, his hands chopping through the air. Izuku watches them, a faint smile ghosting across his face. He had known even before he lied that this was how they would both react.
Still, the usual rush of affection he feels for his friends when they care for him so openly is tempered by the persisting thought that this is all a performance. That maybe they are only being nice to him now because he has a powerful quirk, that they would not have bothered with him if they knew the truth.
They would abandon you in a second if they knew you were actually- Izuku’s thoughts are cut short by the appearance of Todoroki’s food right under his nose.
“You should eat,” the other boy states.
“Ahhh, that’s okay Todoroki, I’m not really hungry!” Izuku tries to say, pushing the offered food away. Only to find that Iida is also now shoving food at him.
“Food is important for any hero’s growth! You should eat even though you do not feel hungry right now!”
“You missed breakfast too if I’m remembering, kero,” Tsu says, holding a finger up to her chin. After that, Izuku literally cannot stop his friends from shoving food at him. By the end of lunch he has had a bit from everyone’s trays, and the thoughts that had been plaguing the back of his mind all morning are a faint memory as he heads towards the changing room to put on his hero costume for his afternoon heroics class.
Izuku slips on the familiar material with practiced ease and rushes out to join his friends, practically bouncing with every step. He sees a few of his classmates shoot him looks and Izuku can feel his anxiety starting to creep back under his skin. Until Kirishima walks up to him and throws his arm around Izuku’s shoulders, giving him a bright smile.
“Glad to see you’re out of your funk from this morning!” The other boy says, squeezing Izuku’s shoulders.
Izuku gives him what he hopes is a reassuring smile, “Yeah, I’m feeling much better after lunch.”
“Oh dude, same, Lunch Rush’s food always has this way of turning my whole day around when I’m feeling down.” Kirishima says, his voice bright. A few of the others in the area chime in with agreements.
Izuku smiles at them, but he cannot bring himself to engage much with them. The slightest hint of unease swirls just beneath his skin at the idea that they had noticed his behavior this morning, that they were all looking at him so closely to notice when he felt off.
There had been a time when he had practically perfected the ability to blend right into the background, to disappear in plain sight. It unnerves him to suddenly learn that he no longer seems to have that ability. Or worse, that his classmates watch him so closely that he cannot fade away when he needs to anymore.
Izuku waits until Aizawa-sensei and All Might call the class to attention before he shrugs out from under Kirishima’s arm and shifts towards the back of the group in an attempt to feel less observed. It does not work. He can still feel eyes on him, their stares prickling at his skin.
“Today, we will be testing you on your ability to work in a large group in order to achieve your goal,” Aizawa-sensei says, “You will be split up into groups of ten and will work together and separately in order to obtain several markers and defend your own from the opposing team.”
“You will decide amongst yourselves how you will work to obtain your goal and you will be graded both on your ability to act independently and as a group when the needs arise. The exercise will end when one team has all of the opposing team’s markers in their zone.” All Might continued. Izuku let his eyes scan over his classmates, working over who would work best with who and trying to figure out how they were going to be split up based on how they had been split up in the past.
“Your groups have been randomly selected. You all will have ten minutes to strategize, set up your markers, and position yourselves. As we are in Ground Omega today, you can do a little bit more damage than you normally would, but points will be deducted for unnecessary or overt damage.” Aizawa-sensei finished, “Your prep time starts now.”
The class quickly split into their two teams, gathering around Iida and Yaoyorozu. Izuku fell into step beside Tokoyami as they joined the group around Yaoyorozu.
“Let’s start moving into our area, we can plan as we go,” Yaoyorozu said.
Izuku looked around the group as they moved towards the eastern half of Ground Omega. He had worked at least a little bit with everyone in the group during hero classes in the weeks building up to this exercise, working on building combination moves. Even still, he had spent most of the past few weeks working on combination moves with people on the other team. That did not mean he did not have ideas for how he could work with them, they were just mostly untested at the moment.
“Alright, let’s start strategizing team ups before we decide what to do with the flags,” Yaoyorozu said once they had reached the center of their territory.
People started grouping themselves in pairs of two and three. Izuku shifts awkwardly as he was left the odd man out, unsure of where to go when everyone else seems to have such a clearly defined idea of who they were going to work with.
Yaoyorozu makes a quick round through all of the groups. Most of them she leaves the same, but sometimes she pulls one person to stand with another group, switching things up. And Izuku can see that the combinations she is making are good ones, people who will complement each other in any situation they might find themselves in against the other team. Finally she reaches where Izuku is still standing.
“What do you think?” She asks quietly. Izuku startles at her question.
“What do you mean?” He asks, matching her volume.
“Do you think the groups are good?” She asks. But Izuku can hear the real question she is asking just underneath it, do you think I’m making a mistake.
Izuku knows what Yaoyorozu must be feeling right now, that split second of hesitation that allows doubt to creep in and whisper hesitation in your brain. But Yaoyorozu is so smart, the smartest person in their class. And she has such an amazing quirk, it’s so versatile and so suited for any type of hero work. Izuku knows that Yaoyorozu is going to be one of the top ranked Pros one day, and he hates the fact that she feels like this now.
“They look really good Yaoyorozu. The other team won’t know what hit them!” Izuku says, doing his best to pump as much enthusiasm into his voice as possible and hopes it helps. Yaoyorozu gives him a bright smile before turning back around to address the rest of their group.
“Alright, I want Bakugo and Ashido running a loud offensive. Try to get the flag if you can, but draw as much attention to yourselves as possible in the process. Meanwhile, we’ll send Sero, Ojirou, and Shouji in to get the flag as well, but hopefully, with Bakugo’s group drawing all their attention, no one will be expecting you.
“Kaminari and Koda, you’ll roam our territory and head off any attacks the other team might send. Tokoyami and I will guard the flag. Midoriya will run along our border and provide help to anyone who needs it!” Yaoyorozu says. “Let’s do our best! Plus Ultra!”
The rest of the group echoes her call. Throwing their fists into the air. Izuku can feel the energy in the air buzzing. It is infectious, and he feels it as a wide smile breaks across his face. He cannot let them down, he will not let them down.
Yaoyorozu places the flag and she and Tokoyami take their places in front of and behind it as Dark Shadow unfolds from Tokoyami’s back. Kaminari and Koda separate from the group, walking off in different directions.
Izuku does not see where Sero, Oijrou, and Shouji go as he walks up towards Kacchan and Ashido.
“Do you guys want me to go up with you to the border?” He asks.
“Sure! The other team will have no idea what’s going on when we split up!” Mina says even as Kacchan yells about them not needing Izuku’s help. Izuku chooses to ignore what Kacchan is screaming in favor of Mina throwing her arm around his shoulders.
The bell goes off when they’re about halfway to the border and Izuku watches as both Ashido and Kacchan shift into heroes. The change is subtle, but it is there.
“Come on extras! Let’s go beat some asses!” Kacchan yells, lighting up his palms. Ashido laughs as they all pick up the pace, racing through the trees.
They make it to the border that splits Ground Omega down the middle just as a group from the other team does.
Todoroki shoots out a quick spike of ice as Midoriya and Ashido dodge one way and Kacchan throws himself into the air with his explosions. Iida tries to race past them, but Izuku lets the power of One for All free, settling it just under his skin as he crackles with green energy. The quirk thrums through his veins, an extra layer of energy, as he races forwards to cut his friend off. He hooks one foot under Iida’s and sends him sprawling.
Izuku has to dodge away in the next second, throwing himself backwards as Aoyama sends a sparkling beam his way. Kacchan slams down from above, aiming an explosion at the group and forcing them to scatter.
And then he is launching himself skywards again as Jiro and Aoyama aim attacks at him. Ashido flings some acid at Aoyama, clearly aiming to take him out the same way she did at the Sports Festival. But before her acid can hit, Uraraka hits him with her quirk and Aoyama is airborne.
Todoroki launches another ice attack and Izuku dodges again even as Ashido melts through it. But Izuku can practically feel it as the seconds tick by, and he knows that in order for Yaoyorozu’s plan to work, Kacchan and Ashido need to get deeper into the other side.
“You need to keep going!” Izuku yells.
“Fuck off Deku! Don’t tell me what to do!” Kacchan screams back, and Izuku knows he agrees.
“Launch!” Ashido yells. Izuku kneels as he turns to face her, hands cupping to form a platform. As soon as he feels her foot in his hands, Izuku launches Ashido skywards. Kacchan grabs her hand as she twists midair and with an explosion, they throw themselves onto the other side of the arena and disappear behind the trees.
Then, Izuku plants himself, bracing for the next attack as he allows a fierce smile to spread across his face as he prepares to hold his five classmates there for as long as possible.
Todoroki launches another ice attack as Iida attempts to sweep Izuku’s feet as he gets back up. Izuku throws himself sideways, using the ice Todoroki had left behind in his previous two attacks to bounce off of, trying to build up momentum and gain height.
He bounces in between the leftover ice twice. And then Aoyama’s laser destroys the ice Izuku lands on, throwing him off balance just before Jiro blasts him back with a pulse of her heartbeat.
“We must move forward!” Iida yells. Izuku scrambles to his feet and throws himself towards his friend, insistent on stopping the taller boy from racing off deeper into their territory. He manages a few steps before he has to throw himself backwards as Todoroki sends a wave of flames at him.
He turns to face Todoroki, launching himself at the other boy and closing the distance between them. Izuku brings his foot up and around, allowing just enough of One for All to power his kick. He manages to bring his right hand up, icing the tip of Izuku’s shoe before Todoroki goes flying backwards.
Izuku turns back to face Iida, but before he can do anything, he feels someone grab his arm. And then he feels himself go weightless as Uraraka’s quirk takes effect.
“We got this Iida!” She yells. Todoroki pushes himself to his feet and then he, Iida, and Aoyama are running farther into his side of the forest, disappearing in between the trees.
Izuku tries to twist in Uraraka’s grasp. But before he can do anything more than curl his legs in towards his body, Uraraka swings him around before throwing him skywards. Then, just as she lets go, another blast from Jiro sends him flying into the trees.
Izuku feels it as several branches, both big and small, snap and break against him as the heartbeat blast carries him backwards, tumbling wildly through the air. Izuku throws a hand out, and as soon as he feels something solid in his hand he grips it tight and yanks himself towards it as hard as he can.
Izuku manages to pull himself out of the range from Jiro’s attack and swing himself back around. Throwing himself back towards where the girls are standing, bouncing back and forth between trees faster and faster with each weightless, One for All powered jump.
“Release!” Uraraka yells just as they come back into his view, touching her fingertips together. His gravity being returned to him throws off his momentum as he crashes into her. He feels a white hot pain in his ankle as it connects awkwardly with Uraraka and then the ground as they tumble over each other.
Izuku takes the pain in his ankle and shoves it to the back of his mind as he quickly detangles from his friend and gets back on his feet.
What kind of hero can’t even stop himself from getting hurt during a class exercise? You’re going to let everyone down. Izuku shakes his head in an attempt to dispel the thought.
“Iida, Todoroki, and Aoyama on our side!” He manages to bark into his com unit. He hears Kacchan snarl something as Yaoyorozu confirms she heard and thanks him for the information. He tunes the comm out again as Uraraka gets to her feet.
He braces for another attack, waiting to see who it will come from. Both girls shift and Izuku tenses.
Then, there is the sound of a massive explosion from the other team’s side of the arena and a massive mushroom cloud forms over the treetops. Jiro whips around, racing towards where the mushroom cloud is forming as Uraraka lunges for Izuku, her hand outstretched.
Izuku dances backwards, doing his best to avoid his friend’s grip, taking out his capture tape from one of the pouches in his belt. Aizawa-sensei had not said anything specifically about capture tape being used, but Izuku liked to keep a roll of it on his person at all times while doing these exercises.
As fast as he can manage, Izuku unwinds some of the tape and circles Uraraka’s outstretched hand, then pulls her forwards, making her stumble. Uraraka reaches over her body to touch him, but Izuku unwinds more of the tape and catches her fingers on that instead, wrapping it all the way around so that her hand is taped into a flipper.
With a burst of One for All, Izuku manages to wrap her other hand in tape as well, completely nullifying her quirk. Uraraka attempts to throw an arm around his neck, trying for a grapple, but Izuku has had this move pulled on her too many times in practice to let it take now.
He bends over, grabbing one of her legs and yanks it sharply into the air, throwing off her balance and sending them both to the ground. He hears it as all the air leaves her lungs when he lands on top of her and he takes advantage of her dazed state to wrap more tape around her arms before dragging her to the closest tree and winding the last bit of capture tape around the tree twice, ensuring that she is well and truly immobilized.
“I’ve immobilized Uraraka,” he says into the comms. Now that he is not paying attention to his own fight, he can hear the sounds of his own teammate’s battles taking place over the comms, grunts of pain and surprise as well as calls from their partners for assistance.
Izuku is in the middle of figuring out who needs the most assistance when he hears Kaminari call out, “Deku! I need help! I’m facing Shoto all by myself over here!”
“On my way!” Izuku calls, powering up One For All. There is a twinge in his ankle as he races forward, jumping onto the first tree, but Izuku pushes it down again. He knows Kaminari and the rest of the team are counting on him and he cannot afford to stop just because he is in a little bit of pain.
Izuku sees the flashes of light, red for Todoroki and yellow for Kaminari, that mark his next fight before he sees the combatants. He lets them guide him towards the fight, and before he can actually think about what he is doing, Izuku is tackling Todoroki from behind, throwing the other boy off his feet.
“Hell yeah!” Kaminari shouts from where he is standing before throwing off another shot of electricity at the downed boy. Todoroki throws up a wall of ice, stopping the electricity from hitting him and then sends a wave of fire shooting at Izuku.
Izuku throws himself upwards to avoid the flames, jumping onto the ice wall Todoroki just created before launching himself back towards the boy, trying to close the distance between them as fast as possible.
Todoroki’s next wave of ice catches Izuku in the ribs, throwing him up and backwards. Izuku smacks against a tree and if there were any air left in his lungs after Todoroki’s ice, it is all gone now.
“Midoriya!” Kaminari shouts as Izuku hits the ground.
“Midoriya is on me,” Todoroki says into his coms as Kaminari rushes over to Izuku’s side and helps him scramble to his feet. Izuku can feel his torso protest at the movement, but he shoves the feeling into the back of his mind next to his throbbing ankle.
“You doing okay?” Kaminari asks. Izuku gives him a sharp nod, eyes flicking around the small clearing they are in, trying to formulate a plan.
“Can you distract him for me? I want to get in close to his fire side,” Izuku says.
“You got it dude!” Kaminari throws him a thumbs up as his other arm comes up to fire off one of his disks behind Todoroki, and then Izuku is moving again. From the corner of his eye, Izuku watches as Todoroki moves to attack him again. But Kaminari shoots out another bolt of lightning and Todoroki moves to intercept the more pressing issue.
Izuku uses the other boy’s moment of distraction to bounce off a tree, angling himself to land just inside Todoroki’s reach. He hits the ground and Todoroki twists as Izuku gets in a swift punch to his center mass as he straightens up.
Todoroki stumbles backwards and Izuku follows him, trying to keep as close to Todoroki as possible, hindering the other boy’s use of his quirk.
Izuku throws another punch, but Todoroki is ready for it this time. He blocks the punch and Izuku has to scramble backwards to avoid being completely encased in ice.
Izuku is just about to throw himself at Todoroki again in another attempt to incapacitate him when Yaoyorozu’s voice crackles over the coms, “Hagakure and Kirishima managed to grab the flag! They’re heading towards the border!”
Izuku and Kaminari share a quick look, and then Izuku is running back towards the border as fast as he can.
You couldn’t even do one thing right. It was the simplest task and you couldn’t get it even partially right.
“I’ll try to intercept them!”He shouts to his teammates.
“Dark Shadow and I are coming to give you support!” Tokoyami says.
“We have their flag! We’re on our way back now!” Sero shouts.
Izuku makes a noise of confirmation as he spots Kirishima up ahead. He pushes himself to go faster and Kirishima barely manages to activate his quirk in time to defend against Izuku’s One For All powered kick.
The other boy slams into a tree and they both have to scramble to avoid it falling on them.
“Hagakure! Run!” Kirishima shouts as Izuku leaps over the tree. In the air, Izuku tries to spot Hagakure, but the girl is completely invisible and his vision is obscured by the trees surrounding them.
Izuku lands in front of Kirishima, twisting as he lands to aim a kick at Kirishima. Distantly he can feel his ankle scream in pain as he moves on it. Kirishima throws up a hardened arm. Izuku’s foot bounces off the other boy and he swings his foot behind him, bracing for himself as Kirishima throws a punch.
Kirishima’s punch lands hard and Izuku bites down hard on his inner cheek to keep from crying out.
Izuku tenses, mind flicking through several different attacks in the blink of an eye. But he abandons any plans to attack and throws himself out of the way of Todoroki’s attack instead.
Some of the other boy’s ice wraps around Izuku’s hurt ankle, and he feels his stomach knot even as he uses One For All to kick free. Izuku stumbles as he lands, letting out a grunt.
“Deku!” Tokoyami shouts from the shadows. Izuku whips his head around just in time to throw his arm into blocking Iida’s kick. He shoves the taller boy backwards, then turns and races towards the border again, hoping that he might be able to still intercept Hagakure and get their flag back.
“Stop him!” Iida calls out as Izuku zips through the trees. He hears the others running behind him and his heart pumps wildly in his chest, the fear of being chased still ingrained in his system, making his movements even more urgent.
“We’re almost there!” Ojiro calls out.
He spots their flag bobbing up ahead. They were so close to the border, Izuku can feel the panic that they might lose coating his tongue. He reaches out to take the flag back.
And Tsu’s tongue whips out from the tree line and lashes Izuku, throwing him into a tree. Izuku feels it as every injury he has collected today screams in protest at his body's rough handling. The pain is white hot as it lights up every scrape and bruise. He only manages to not scream because there is no room in his body for noise, it is too consumed with pain.
“Dark Shadow!” Tokoyami shouts. Izuku watches as Dark Shadow emerges from the forest to lunge at Tsu’s tongue. It retracts from Izuku just as Todoroki sends a wave of fire towards Dark Shadow. And right towards Izuku.
Izuku throws himself sideways. But not fast enough to avoid being singed by Todoroki’s flames, the heat of them making Izuku’s skin go tight. He hears Dark Shadow shout.
And then, Aizawa-sensei’s voice over the speakers, “Team Iida wins.”
“Dammit!” Izuku hears it as Kacchan screams. And then the explosive boy is on him, lifting him up by the collar of his hero costume.
“Why the fuck did you let them win shitty Deku! We were right there!” Kacchan shouts, letting off a small explosion in the hand not gripping Izuku.
This is your fault, you failed them, whispers the voice in the back of his mind, How are they supposed to trust you in the field if you fail them in practice?
“Bakugo! Put him down!” Iida calls out. It sounds like his friend is a million miles away.
They’re going to die because they trusted you. You’re going to kill them because you aren’t good enough.
“It was not just Midoriya who was unable to prevent them from crossing over, we were both overwhelmed,” Tokoyami says.
Being a hero was all Izuku ever wanted, what good was he if he could not even do that properly? If he failed the people who needed him?
“Enough.” Aizawa-sensei’s voice cuts through everything and Izuku does his best not to flinch at the harsh tone. “Bakugo, put Midoriya down.”
Kacchan releases Izuku. As soon as his feet hit the ground, pain screams it’s way through his ankle and he stumbles to stay upright. Izuku can feel it as soon as Aizawa-sensei zeroes in on his stumble even as he straightens up and tries to shove aside the pain.
“Midoriya, what’s wrong?”
Izuku throws his hand up behind his head and tries to project an aura of bashfulness as he grits his teeth around his pain and shifts his weight subtly. “I’m good Sensei!”
“Go see Recovery Girl,” Aizawa-sensei says after a brief pause.
“Really Sensei! I’m fine! I don’t-“
“Midoriya. Go see Recovery Girl. Now,” Aizawa-sensei says. Izuku drops his arm as shame burns in his cheeks. Izuku tries to take a step forward, but as soon as he puts weight on his ankle it buckles and only the swift intervention of several hands keep him from hitting the ground face first.
Several people cry out, but Izuku cannot make out what exactly is going around him, his brain swimming in a haze of pain.
Someone wraps his arm around their shoulders and takes most of his weight. Izuku looks up and sees Iida’s face, concern written in every line.
You’re making your friends upset. Is this how a true hero would act? Especially after you failed them so thoroughly?
“Sensei! I would be more than happy to escort Midoriya to Recovery Girl!” Iida says. Izuku is sure that Aizawa-sensei says something, but he cannot hear it as he hangs his head.
Iida starts moving after a brief moment and Izuku has to scramble to keep up. Iida adjusts the way Izuku’s arm wraps around his shoulders and tightens his own grip around Izuku’s waist. And then Iida is practically carrying Izuku out of Ground Omega.
Izuku does not remember the rest of the trip all that clearly. His head is swimming and everything around him seems grey. Iida drops him off in one of Recovery Girl’s beds and for a moment Izuku thinks he might not leave, but then Recovery Girl appears and dismisses him.
Iida gives a quick bow and then leaves Izuku alone with Recovery Girl.
“Alright now, lets see what hurts.” Recovery Girl runs him through a few exams, her face getting more and more pinched with every scan.
You’re a burden. She knows you shouldn’t be a hero because you can’t do anything without breaking yourself.
“Alright, let's get you fixed up now Dearie.” Recovery Girl gives him a quick kiss on his cheek and Izuku feels it as his energy drains rapidly before everything goes dark.
Izuku comes to as someone gently shakes his shoulder, “Come on Dearie, it’s almost curfew.”
Izuku forces himself upwards and out of the bed. He notices distantly that his ankle has been wrapped in bandages and there is something wrapped around his torso. He mumbles a goodbye without looking Recovery Girl in the eye as he makes his escape.
There is a heavy heat in the back of Izuku’s throat as he moves across the U.A. campus as fast as he can. Thankfully no one is in the common room when he makes it to Heights Alliance, so he cards himself into the building quickly and slips into his room as fast as possible.
He still feels exhausted as he collapses into his bed still fully clothed. But even as he relaxes into his bed, his brain starts into overdrive.
He replays every second of the exercise, going over every mistake he made, things he could have done better. Ways he could have changed the game just by being that much faster. That much better.
All the feelings that had been muted all day come rushing up to the surface, bubbling up just inside his skin. It fills him up, overtaking everything else.
It’s too much. It’s too much .
Izuku curls up on his side, trying to contain it all inside him even as it feels like it is tearing him up from the inside out. Izuku’s eyes land on his bathroom caddy.
You could release all these emotions if you cut them out. The whisper is almost a croon.
He knows he could do it. He took apart a razor once when he was in middle school. He didn’t do anything back then except stare at the individual blades. But he knows he could take apart the razor he brought with him. He could make a release valve for everything pushing for a way out of him.
Izuku curls up tighter on himself. He cannot hurt himself, he cannot . Because it would not be just him that he would be hurting. His body did not just belong to him. It belonged to All Might, who had seen potential in him and had chosen him. It belonged to Aizawa-sensei, who had allowed him to stay at U.A. when he was still figuring out his quirk and who had risked his life to protect his class time and time again. It belonged to his friends, who had offered him companionship and support. It belonged to his mother, who had loved him his entire life.
His legs belonged to his teachers. His arms belonged to his friends. His head belonged to All Might. His heart belonged to his mom.
He cannot hurt himself. Because if he hurt himself he would hurt them too and he cannot hurt them. He cannot hurt them.
Izuku drags himself out of bed in the early hours of the next morning. He turns off his alarm so it will not go off then changes into his workout gear.
He slips out of Heights Alliance just as easily as he slipped in last night. The morning air feels good against his skin and Izuku takes a moment to just stand and breathe it in. Then he starts running.
Izuku runs until his lungs burn with exhaustion and his muscles tremble with overuse. The sky is lighter as he looks around trying to catch his breath before he checks his watch, making sure he still has enough time to make it to class.
Then he starts making the long track back to the dorms. His feet are dragging, and Izuku is looking forward to a hot shower to wash away the sweat and grime he accumulated during his run.
“Problem Child.” Aizawa-sensei says from where he is standing in front of the door, arms crossed, “What on earth are you doing?”
“Ru-running?” Izuku says, confused as to what his teacher wants out of him.
“You’ve been running for the past hour and a half on an ankle Recovery Girl did just one healing session on?”
Izuku ducks his head, embarrassment flooding his cheeks in a hot wave. He does not notice that Aizawa-sensei has moved from where he is standing in front of the dorm entrance until his teacher rests a hand on his shoulder. Izuku flinches at the touch, his heart jumping into his throat.
Aizawa-sensei removes his hand from Izuku’s shoulder, moving it to Izuku’s chin. His teacher lifts Izuku’s head slightly even as Aizawa-sensei crouches to meet his eyes.
“Kid, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine Sensei!” Izuku said, summoning his brightest and most disarming smile, the one that even his mom had trouble telling was fake.
“Kid-“ Aizawa-sensei sighs, Izuku steamrolls right over whatever he was going to say next.
“Really Sensei! I just woke up with too much energy, it used to happen all the time back home. And I would just take a quick run to let a bit of it off! I didn’t even stop to think that U.A. might have different rules about something like this!”
Aizawa-sensei stares at him for a moment, not saying anything as his eyes search Izuku’s. Then he sighs and steps back.
“I don’t want you participating in any practical examinations today Problem Child.”
Izuku opens his mouth to protest, but Aizawa-sensei holds up his hand. “It’s not a punishment kid, I’m just trying to make sure you give your body enough time to heal properly.”
He doesn’t care about you, he just can’t deal with you screwing things up again, Izuku wishes he could shove the whispers back into the darkest corner of his mind.
For a second, Izuku wonders if he could argue with Aizawa-sensei into letting him back into the exercise. But the look in his teacher’s eyes tells Izuku that this is a fight he will not win. So he nods his head and allows Aizawa-sensei to lead him into the building.
He gives his teacher one last shaky smile before he heads off to his room to go collect his shower caddy, although the hot shower he was looking forward to earlier no longer holds the same allure it had just moments before. Izuku removes the razor from his kit before he leaves his room. He refuses to think about why he feels unsafe taking it with him.
Izuku moves methodically through the motions of his shower and putting on his school uniform, joining the rest of his classmates in the common room for breakfast. He manages a few bites, but he mostly pushes his food around his plate, trying to make it look like he has eaten more than he actually has.
When people start getting up to go to class, Izuku scrapes the food on his plate into the trash quickly and grabs his bag. A few people try to make conversation with Izuku as they walk, but he sticks to monosyllabic answers and they soon give up.
His morning classes pass in a haze similar to yesterday’s classes. But this time, he does not even try to make an attempt at writing anything down. He just does not have the energy to pretend at the moment. It is taking everything in him to just keep pushing forwards.
Izuku wonders when his body got so heavy, when it started being difficult to breath.
When lunch rolls around, Izuku closes his unmarked notebook and then takes a moment to talk himself into standing up.
“Hey Deku, you doing okay?” Uraraka asks. She has made her way over to Izuku’s desk and is standing just close enough to make Izuku feel crowded. He watches as her eyes track his notebook as he puts it away and he knows she saw that it was blank.
“I’m fine, just feeling the aftereffects from Recovery Girl yesterday still,” Izuku says.
“Midoriya! As class representative, I must insist that you look after yourself if you are not feeling well!” Iida says as he walks up, arms chopping the air in front of him.
Izuku feels a pressure building just beneath his sternum as more and more people start to gather around him, paying attention to the scene his friends have unintentionally caused. A few voices chime in their concerns as well, but Izuku cannot make out anything specific past the tension drawing him as tight as a bowstring. And he knows, if he does not make his escape soon he is going to snap into a million pieces.
He just needs a place to collapse in peace. If he can do that, he can put himself back together again and everyone can stop worrying about him and noticing the things he does not want them to notice.
“I think I’m gonna go lie down in my room for lunch, I’ll see you guys later,” Izuku says as he shoves his way out the door. He is sure some of his classmates call out to him as he moves down the hall, but even the weight of all their stares crawling up the back of his neck is too much to bear at this point. So Izuku keeps going, pretending he does not hear them as he picks up speed.
He exits the main school building at a near sprint, slamming into the doors to get them to open, and he makes his way to the closest grove of trees. As soon as he does not feel the prickle of watching eyes, Izuku collapses to his knees as his arms wrap around himself in an effort to keep everything self-contained.
The sobs that tear their way through his throat burn, and his whole body shakes with the power of them. He feels heat rush up the back of his throat and barely makes it to the closest bushes in time to throw up the meager breakfast he had.
His next heave brings up nothing but stomach bile. And eventually he runs out of that too.
Izuku spends his whole lunch period falling apart. By the time his phone lets him know he should be heading back for his Fundamental Heroics course, he is a sniffling mess. He does not feel ready to face anyone right now, but he picks himself up off the ground anyways and makes himself as presentable as he can before he heads off to class.
You’re pathetic, loops through his head again and again as he walks.
He feels shaky as All Might walks them through their exercise for the day and Izuku wants to disappear into the floor as he walks up to his mentor and stays by his side throughout the class, Aizawa-sensei already having told him that Izuku was not to participate.
Izuku tries to focus on the fights going on around him, but he feels worthless, like he is back in middle school and his teachers are giving him busy work because they do not want him getting accidentally hurt during physical education. As a result, his notes come out incomprehensible as he trails off in the middle of a sentence or will switch who he is talking about halfway through a thought.
“Young Midoriya, are you feeling alright my boy?” All Might asks just as Izuku is about to make his way out of the observation room.
“I’m fine All Might, I’m just feeling a little off today. It’ll pass.”
“You know you can talk to me about anything if you need to. Right?”
Izuku pauses, and gives All Might what feels like the first genuine smile since he left his mom’s house, “I know, I will. Thank you, All Might.”
By the time the end of the school day rolls around, Izuku feels dead on his feet. He is just completely drained of any energy or any emotion. He feels like a wrung out rag. So he begs off dinner and heads on up to his room.
It is cool and dark and Izuku can just make out the sounds of his classmates, his friends, moving down below him. But it does not make the ball of stress inside him relax like it normally would. Instead it only clenches tighter.
You’ll never belong down there. You’ll always be on the outside looking in. Izuku curls up on himself, dragging his pillow over his ears in an attempt to drown out the whispers.
They know it too. Everyone knows there’s something just a little bit off about you, something not quite right. And it will come out eventually, that you’re a fraud, stealing the spot of someone who deserves to be in the hero course. Unlike a weak, quirkless, loser like you.
Izuku lets out a quiet sob. He does not have the energy for anything else.
Hours later, after everyone has gone to bed and a stillness settles over the dorms, Izuku swings out of bed. His head feels even worse than before, but at the same time, there is this haze around his movements. He feels like he is sleep walking.
Izuku makes his way out of his room and down the hallway. He thinks about going downstairs to get a glass of water. But when he reaches the staircases, he starts climbing up, not down.
Izuku tries to stop, to go down or back to his room. But his body is not responding to him. He keeps climbing upwards.
Finally he reaches the top of the staircase and with a quick twist of his wrist and some help from One For All, Izuku snaps the lock off the door to the roof and pushes the door open. The night air is cold as he steps into it, and Izuku is well and truly panicking now. He does not understand what is going on but he does not like it. He does not like being out on the roof.
This is what you want, isn’t it? You’ve thought about this before. Or something similar at least.
But no, he has not thought about this. He has never wanted this.
You have wanted things to end before. You’ve wished that you were never born, or that you could stop existing. I’m just helping things along a little.
Just because he wanted to disappear at some point, that he wanted to stop feeling, stop existing, does not mean that he wanted to kill himself. Izuku knows he is not suicidal, if he was he would have taken a swan dive when Kacchan told him to. Izuku does not want to die, not now, not like this. He does not want to kill himself.
He struggles to regain control over his body as it moves steadily towards the edge. Fighting to move even one finger on his own, for any crack into fighting back. But he has no idea how he even lost control in the first place. He has no idea where to even begin trying to get it back.
Izuku’s body steps out onto the ledge of the dorm building. He can feel the vast expanse of air just in front of him, the weightless rush that stepping off would give him. And Izuku does not want to die. He does not want to, but he thinks he is about to just the same.
The door to the roof slams open and Izuku spins around, just keeping his balance to watch as Kacchan emerges from the stairway.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing you shitty nerd?”
Izuku wants to scream out for help, to tell Kacchan that there is something desperately wrong. But he cannot. Instead what comes out is, “Hey Kacchan, thought you would be happy about this.”
The words are soft and almost dreamlike as they come out of Izuku’s mouth.
“The fuck are you on about dumbass? Step away from the edge!”
“Don’t you remember Kacchan? You were the one who told me that if I wanted a quirk I should take a last chance dive off a roof.”
Izuku sees it the moment the words impact. It is like he punched Kacchan from feet away. Izuku watches as hurt, confusion, anger flash across Kacchan’s face in rapid succession. And then Izuku’s body tilts backwards into nothingness.
He can feel it as soon as his center of gravity shifts backwards as he starts to tumble into the empty air. He sees it as the other boy registers what is going on, the night sky dark behind him. Izuku figures the stars won’t be too bad a parting sight, even if he wishes his last words had been something different, less damaging.
And then Kacchan sets off an explosion as he lunges for Izuku’s falling body.
Kacchan’s hand wraps tightly around Izuku’s wrist and there is a painful, eye watering tug as he stops falling. Izuku stares up into the desperate eyes of his childhood friend as they hang off the roof of Heights Alliance. Only Kacchan’s tight grip on the edge of the building keeps them both from falling.
Izuku wonders for a brief moment as they hang there, why Kacchan does not let go and then set off an explosion as they fall to keep them from getting hurt. And then he realizes. If Kacchan did that, he would burn Izuku. There would be no way the other boy could avoid it if he wanted to create an explosion big enough to keep them alive and uninjured.
They hang there for a moment, and then Izuku’s body starts writhing, struggling to break free.
“Stop it! Stop!” Kaccahn screams, tightening his already painful grip on Izuku’s wrist. Izuku wants to scream back, to let him know that he does not want this either. But he is still not in control. So his body continues to struggle.
Then the door to the roof slams open again, the noise echoing through the night.
“Over here! Something’s wrong!” Kacchan screams, voice breaking over the words.
And Aizawa-sensei’s capture weapon flies through the air to wrap around Kacchan’s torso. A moment later, Aizawa-sensei himself appears as he grabs two fistfuls of Kacchan’s shirt in order to haul him back onto the roof.
Izuku sees the moment Aizawa-sensei spots him as well, Kacchan’s grip never relenting as he pulls himself onto steady ground with the help of their teacher. He sees the look on his teacher’s face morph into something unreadable and agonized.
And then Aizawa-sensei is grabbing at Izuku’s shirt, gripping him just as tightly as Kacchan was as they haul him back onto the roof. Izuku wants to cry in relief.
As soon as they are no longer in danger of slipping out of reach, Aizawa-sensei drags both of them over to the door, as far away from the roof’s edges as he can, never releasing his grip on either of them. Kacchan refuses to let Izuku go either. It makes Izuku feel safe, knowing they will not let him go, that as long as they have a grip on him he is not going to die. They will not let him.
When they reach the roof access door, Kacchan opens the door with the hand not attached to Izuku’s wrist and Aizawa-sensei crowds them back inside.
“What happened?” Their teacher asks as soon as the door has slammed shut behind them. His voice sounds wrecked and Izuku’s gut churns at the thought that he is the reason why.
“Something’s wrong with the shitty nerd. He’s been acting off since he got back from Auntie’s, he was on the ledge when I found him and he started saying shit I know Deku would never say,” Kacchan says in a rush.
“I don’t see why you couldn’t just let me fall. I was only doing what-“ Izuku cannot stop the words even though he wants too. And he wants to cry because even though he feels safe right now it is still not finished, whatever is happening is not over yet.
Izuku gets one good look at the expression on Aizawa-sensei’s face as he looks at Izuku while Izuku talks. He thinks his teacher might be terrified. And then Kacchan throws himself at Izuku.
“Shut up ! Shut the fuck up !” Kacchan screams even as Aizawa-sensei’s capture weapon wraps around his torso and the railing on the staircase, keeping him off Izuku.
“Bakugo, enough,” Aizawa-sensei says, tone firm. Kacchan spates one look at their teacher before all of the fight goes out of him.
“Are you good to go back to your room right now?” Aizawa-sensei asks Kacchan after a few moments of silence.
Kacchan hesitates for a second, then nods his head sharply. Aizawa-Sensei releases his capture weapon and says, “Alright then, I’ll stop by later to check in on you.”
“You can just let me go you know.” Izuku says as soon as Kacchan is out of view. Aizawa-sense’s attention snaps back to Izuku. His teacher’s face looks carefully blank as their eyes meet.
“I know you think your life would be easier without me screwing everything up again.”
“I mean, you call me Problem Child , it’s not that hard to figure out. So you can let me go, it’s okay.”
Aizawa-sensei looks like he has been gutted. Like Izuku has cut him open with just his words. His teacher’s grip on him tightens as he brings his other hand up to hold him by the shoulder. And then he activates Erasure.
Izuku feels it as the quirk washes over him, like a blanket benign thrown over him. It stills the ever present buzzing that is One For All. It grounds him.
Even still, he cannot stop the words, “You can’t prevent my death forever Eraserhead, it might as well happen now.”
“I’m not letting you die as long as I can help it Kid,” Aizawa-sensei says. He lets go of Izuku’s shoulder then moves them both down the stairs and out of Heights Alliance. Izuku can see Aizawa-sensei texting on his phone as they move across campus. He wonders idly if this catastrophe will be the thing that gets him kicked out of the hero course. That because Izuku’s body attempted to jump off a roof, he will be declared unfit. He hopes that they at least let him transfer into the General Education department instead of expelling him all together.
Before he knows it, they are making their way into U.A.’s main building and over to Recovery Girl’s office. Midnight-sensei opens the door and that surprises Izuku. This is the first time he has seen her out of costume and the disconnect is jarring.
“You’re sure he’s under the influence of some type of quirk?” Midnight-sensei asks as Recovery Girl walks up to Izuku, taking his face into her hands.
“Positive,” Aizawa-sensei says.
Midnight-sensei crouches down next to Recovery Girl and Izuku shifts his focus to her, she looks drawn and tired, but she smiles at him anyways, “It’s alright kiddo, we go you.”
A haze of pink surrounds Izuku and he realizes Midnight-sensei is using her quirk just as his eyes slip closed. His last sensation is of arms catching him as his knees buckle.
As soon as Izuku is conscious, he feels lighter. Like a weight he never noticed has been lifted from around his lungs and he can finally breathe properly again. He takes a deep breath and relishes in the fact that he still can.
When he opens his eyes, Aizawa-sensei is the first thing he sees. His teacher is sitting in a chair next to Izuku’s bed, eyes closed, face buried in his capture weapon. Izuku does not even realize he is crying until his vision starts clouding over, and then there is nothing he can do to keep it contained.
Aizawa-sensei jolts into alertness at Izuku’s first painfully loud sob. His teacher’s eyes meet Izuku’s a second later and then Izuku is throwing himself at Aizawa-sensei.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to. I’m sorry. I’m sorry .” Izuku wails as his teacher wraps his arms around Izuku.
“It’s okay Kid, I’ve got you. I won’t let anything happen to you,” Aizawa-sensei says in return. Izuku sobs harder. He can still feel that moment where he turned weightless, when his body tipped back past the moment of no return against his will. Izuku knows what that feels like now, he does not think he will ever be able to forget that sensation.
But the scariest part is that Izuku had accepted it. He had tried to gain control of himself back, sure. But in that last moment, when he thought he was going to die and there was nothing he could do to change it, Izuku had accepted his death, he had not tried to save himself.
Kacchan had saved him, but what if he had not been able to. What if Kacchan had not been on that roof, or had been just a few seconds slower. Or what if Izuku had managed to wiggle out from his grip. Or what if Izuku had taken Kacchan down with him.
Izuku cries as if his world is ending around him as it all mixes in his head until it is one big grey mass inside him. Until he cannot distinguish where he begins and it ends. At this point, Izuku is not sure if he could even muster a smile.
They stay like that for a while. And even after Izuku’s sobs have subsided into hiccups, Aizawa-sensei does not relinquish his grip.
“Kacchan?” Izuku asks as soon as he does not feel like the slightest movement will shatter him into a million pieces again.
“Mic’s looking after him.” Izuku lets out a sigh, releasing tension he did not know he had been carrying with him until just this moment. He is glad to know that Kacchan has someone who will look after him and will offset his anger with fast smiles and enthusiasm. That Izuku has not denied him support because he is the Problem Child.
“You scared me Kid.” Aizawa-sensei says after a moment, “I thought I was too late last night, that you were already gone.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” Izuku sniffs as he pulls away from the hug. Aizawa-sensei lets him, but he keeps one hand wrapped around Izuku’s arm.
“I know, I know you didn’t mean to. But I want you to meet with Hound Dog anyways.”
Izuku’s breath stutters in his chest. Because he cannot go see Hound Dog-sensei. The hero is trained to go poking around in things Izuku would rather leave alone. “Sensei I don’t-”
“Midoriya, please . Work with me here. We’re trying to find whoever used their quirk on you, but that could take weeks and we have no idea how long the effects might last and I can’t pull you off another roof.” Aizawa-sensei’s eyes bore into Izuku’s. There is something hidden there, some deep hurt swimming just beneath the surface, “Don’t make me beg Kid, please.”
“Okay, I’ll meet with Hound Dog-senesi,” Izuku says and Aizawa-sensei relaxes slightly. Izuku would prefer if Aizawa-sensei could ignore this, pretend like it never happened and move on. But the fact that he still has not let go of Izuku means something. So Izuku is willing to make some compromises.
“Good, thank you.”
Izuku yawns and Aizawa-sensei gives him a small smile, “Go back to sleep Kid, I’ll make sure nothing happens.”
Izuku gives his teacher a sleepy smile, then allows his eyes to drift close.