It’s an All Might shirt that starts it. Izuku is four and plays in the woods and of course his favorite shirt gets ripped. He runs to his mother, crying and heartbroken that he’s destroyed something he loves so so much.
But his mother takes him aside, gives him a new shirt, and brings out a thick box.
“This is my sewing kit,” she says, smiling, “I’ll have your shirt patched up in no time!”
And Izuku watches her fingers work, the delicate swoop and in-out of the needle and thread. How quickly the rip ties together, with barely any hint that it was there to start with.
“Wow,” he whispers, awed in only the way a child can.
His mom giggles and boops him on the nose, “You wanna learn?”
Izuku frowns, thinking.
He’s on the cusp of five, with no quirk to be seen. Already the other kids are treating him differently, with snide comments here and there. Izuku knows that when he gets his quirk that’ll change, but until then he’s often left out.
Playing in the woods alone is what got him into this mess in the first place, after all.
So he bites his lip and nods.
His mother places the needle in his hand, taking it and gently guiding it through the motions over some scraps.
“You aren’t old enough to hold this alone, but if you want, I can keep teaching you!”
The hand holding his own is warm and soft. Pressed up against his mother’s side, he’s never felt so loved.
“Mhm!” He watches the way the needle slides in and out, “That sounds good!”
She squeezes him and presses a kiss to his head.
“We’ll just focus on the motions for now.”
Learning to sew becomes a Thing. Mainly because when not analyzing heroes or doing school work, Izuku doesn’t have much to do. He doesn’t have friends and going to places like the arcade alone (and seeing everyone out with their friends) opens some yawning pit in his stomach.
But his mother never stops loving him, even without a quirk, and he graduates to holding the needle on his own, to helping mend rips, and to eventually on his eleventh birthday his mother presenting him with his own kit.
He cradles it in his arms then tucks it away on his shelf.
What he doesn’t say is how useful it is; for when the bullies happen to rip his clothes, for when he gets a little too close to the hero action, and for when he starts training with All Might and the trash wrecks his shorts and shirt.
A monthly ritual of taking his torn up things and repairing them, renewing them; it’s one of the few things that Izuku can feel a sense of accomplishment about, especially when no one notices the stitches.
UA is different in that the school, unlike any of his previous ones, churns out extra uniforms at no cost and with barely any warning. The perks of a hero school, especially since Izuku keeps destroying his clothes to the point that sewing...doesn’t help much.
He can’t very well repair the whole half of his top with just a needle and thread.
This only changes with the dorms. Impromptu sparring and the various hijinks that happen when twenty hero students are shoved into the same building mean that his regular clothes start to rip and tear once again.
But with classes and then his internship and then the cultural festival-
His pile of ‘need to repair’ is bigger than it’s ever been.
Sunday means that most of the class is out on errands or visiting family. Izuku is blessed to live so close to his mom, a day trip with one of his friends means that the weekend is the perfect time to catch-up.
In this case, catch-up on the stupidly large pile of clothes he has to repair.
He drags the pile out and dumps it on his bed, pulling the sewing kit out from his desk drawer after. Grabbing one of the shirts, he focuses on the slight tear near the sleeve.
Plucking a needle out of the pin poppet, he digs in for the right shade of light blue thread.
Except, when it comes to threading the needle…
His fingers cramp and freeze, the way they do sometimes when it’s first thing in the morning and he tries to button his uniform top. Izuku frowns, trying to force the digits back into compliance.
It works, barely. They shake, but he manages to jab the thread through the eye after a sixth attempt. His fingers throb a bit at the treatment, but he shakes them out.
Tying the thread is another unforeseen problem.
He can’t move the upper joints well enough to tie it large enough.
“C’mon,” he hisses through his teeth, and finally manages after mangaling the end.
A frustrated sweat coats the back of his neck and hands, and his fingers sting with sharp shocks of pain. He scowls down, popping the joints roughly.
Izuku grips the shirt, holding the tear up to the light. He pushes the needle in, but on trying to go back through, his pointer finger locks completely, a cramp pulsing through his entire hand. Dropping the shirt, he grabs the needle with his other hand, jamming it back in the pin poppet.
He rubs his finger, gritting his teeth. Pain reverberates through, still, though he manages to make his hand relax.
Tears prick at his eyes, because he’s not going to be able to do this, is he? This isn’t something he’s capable of anymore.
Before he knows it, full-blown sobs force themselves out, a heavy sense of loss drowning him.
Perhaps that’s why he failed to notice the footsteps outside his door.
The door bursts open and Izuku whirls around, trying to contain his sniffles.
“Deku, what the fuck?”
Izuku supposes he looks dumb, hunched over a torn up shirt with tears in his eyes. He tries to contain his tears.
“It’s nothing, Kacchan!” He wipes at his eyes, sitting as straight as he can.
Kacchan ignores him, stomping toward him, his eyes bouncing between the pile of clothes, the sewing kit, and the shirt loosely held in his hands. Said eyes narrow as they take in the scene.
“What happened?” He asks again, leaning back on his heel.
Izuku’s gaze drops down, staring at the five measly, clumsy stitches he’s managed to do.
“I was just...repairing some things,” He grins a grin that wants to slide right back off, “Like I said, nothing.”
Kacchan is too smart for that though, scowling at his words and snatching the shirt out of his hands.
“This is shitty as hell, I know you can sew.”
Kacchan crosses his arms and a faint hint of red appears on the tips of his ears.
“My parents are fashion designers. I can recognize shit, okay?”
A grin, a real one, blooms on Izuku’s face.
“Kacchan is so cool!”
“Yeah, yeah,” he sneers, “But was it your mom doing it this whole time?”
His useless, pathetic fingers fidget with the hem of his shorts. Izuku can’t seem to make them stop, with so much nervous energy humming through him.
“Ah, no. It was me...I didn’t want her to see-”
He clamps his mouth shut.
“I didn’t want her to see the burn marks or the forceful rips” goes unsaid, but it hangs in the air- an elephant neither can get rid of now that it’s let loose from the cage they’d stuck it in.
The tile under his feet is rather scuffed, Izuku notes as he looks down at it. Probably from how often he sits at this one spot with his phone out.
He really doesn’t want to look at Kacchan.
Abruptly, the bed dips and Izuku sways to the side.
Kacchan is sitting next to him.
“So, what’re you having trouble with?”
Kacchan isn’t looking at him, staring resolutely at the sewing kit between them.
“Oh,” Izuku says, resisting the urge to bite into his cheek, “I- my- my hands.”
Izuku laughs, perhaps a bit hysterically because Kacchan is looking at him now and Izuku might as well have his heart flayed out on the bed.
Kacchan leans forward and for one absurd moment, Izuku thinks he’s going to grab his hand- to, what? Inspect it?
Instead, he grabs the needle Izuku had shoved into the pin poppet, threading it again with ease. Izuku nails bite into his palms as Kacchan knots the end, as simply as Izuku used to be able to.
The expression on his face must give him away.
“Stop glaring at me like that, I’m surprised you got anything done with your hands like that.”
Nausea swirls in his gut at the reminder, and Izuku winces, looking away. There are things he finds difficult now, like buttoning his shirt, writing, or eating with chopsticks...but he hadn’t thought about sewing. How much dexterity was needed for the task, how much he’d sacrificed by breaking his hands over and over again.
“Look, I’m not telling you it was wrong- or whatever. You did some heroic shit.”
Izuku whips around, eyes wide. Kacchan stitches, not looking up.
“But you need to-I don’t know, take a break or something.”
Kacchan stops, glaring at Izuku.
“Tell anyone and I’ll kill you, but I haven’t practised near as much as you with this.”
His mouth drops open at Kacchan’s confession.
“Shut the fuck up!”
Izuku covers his mouth, trying to hide a grin, “O-of course!”
“Besides, you can figure this shit out, don’t old grandmas with arthritis still sew? For fuck’s sake there’s gotta be something.”
“Well, I am supposed to start some physical therapy later… I could ask?”
“No shit you should ask!”
Izuku tries to contain a giggle this time, tears completely gone.
“Anyway,” Katsuki growls, “Let’s make- a deal or some shit, okay?”
“...Okay?” Izuku says, confusion furrowing his brows and dropping his grin.
“You need someone to do this and I need someone who can keep up with me.”
“So, I’ll do this shit, and you spar me weekly.”
A warm fizzy feeling bubbles through his chest, because Kacchan actually wants to spend time with him. His proposal means that they’ll be spending more time than since they were five hanging out.
It doesn’t quite cover the loss he’s holding, a yawning, gaping pit where something he was good at used to be. But Kacchan acknowledged, in his own way, that Izuku had been better. And maybe with physical therapy and some accommodations Kacchan could help him learn how to do it again.
He smiles and it actually hurts his face.
“Tch, it better. S’why I came here in the first place.”
Izuku watches the needle, in-and-out, in-and-out. Kacchan is delicate with it, face scrunched in concentration.
They’re friends again, aren’t they?