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fragile things

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Time at recess is usually spent under one of the many trees that surround the school’s playground, but today Watanabe brought a football and challenged Kacchan.

There aren’t any kids to chase him away from the equipment, aren’t any cliques sneering at the Quirkless kid trying to join their games, and aren’t any teachers to pat him on the head and claim that other kids are ‘too dangerous and wouldn’t be better to read a book?’, him.

Instead they’re wrapped up in the explosive football game, the teachers hovering so that no one gets too badly hurt.

So, Izuku slides over to the monkey bars. He’s only ever been on them at the play-parks with his Mom, never at school. He clambers up the side, the metal warm under the spring sun. A wide grin stretches on his face as he makes the first swing across, and the second, then the third. He almost misses the fourth, but his fingertips manage to catch on it and he stretches further, arms burning.

The fifth and sixth are easy, but as he stretches to the seventh a loud explosion sounds in the distance, startling Izuku. He misses, swinging from the bars with one arm, a burning stretch that lasts a few beats of a second until his hand gives out and he drops.

Izuku hits the ground with a sharp crack, a shock of pain shooting through his arm, pulsating with more pain than he’s ever felt and Izuku wails, loud and agonized, huddled over the hurting arm.

He sobs, arm not cooperating, each movement sparking pain so he stills, mulch digging into his knees. Crunching footsteps head closer to him and he manages to look up, seeing his teacher through his tears.

“Oh, Midoriya,” she says, leaning down and gently moving the hand clutching his injured arm away, “Oh, that’s a break. I’ll have to call your mom, okay?”

Izuku nods, cradling his arm once more. The teacher helps him up and into the school, the stares of the other children burning into his back.

At the nurses office, the teacher knocks on the door. It slides aside for the nurse, a grumpy looking woman.

“Midoriya here broke his arm. If you could put it in a sling…?”

“Yeah, yeah. Matter of time before this happened.”

The teacher smiles, but it’s a crooked one. Exasperated-looking, Izuku would later know.

“Well, yes. But we’ve had years without incident! Normally Quirkless kids are breaking things left and right! Midoriya’s a pretty good kid. Well. Except for today,” she says, and Izuku flinches at the words, looking down at his throbbing, broken arm. The teacher gives him a quick pat on the head.

“It’s alright! We all make mistakes! But you’re a little more fragile than other kids, so you got to be careful, ‘kay?”

A sick, sour swirling fills his stomach at her stretched grin. He bites his lip and nods.

“See! He gets it! Now I’m gonna go!” She struts out, heading in the direction of the offices and leaving Izuku with the frowning nurse.

“They should just leave you inside at play time,” she grumbles, putting a hand behind his shoulders and pushing him forward, “Accident waiting to happen, and look! It did.”

She’s gentle when helping him on the bed, crinkly paper sheet rustling uncomfortably under him when he sits. Izuku shifts and the paper shifts with him. The nurse clicks her tongue, disappearing.

Coming back with fabric, the nurse carefully fits his arm into a sling. Pain spikes through it at the movement, but it is settled soon enough in the sling.

“Now you’ll know better than to do that,” she sniffs, “Better to sit aside and read or draw.”

“I guess…” Izuku says, “I just wanted to play.”

“We all want things we can’t have,” she replies, “And you have to remember you aren’t like the other kids.”

“Right.”

The teacher bangs on the door again, not waiting and sticking her head in.

“Mrs. Midoriya is on the way. She’s upset, obviously. I tried to tell her it didn’t look bad but…”

The teacher shrugs helplessly.

“Well her kid is Quirkless, what’d you expect?”

He stiffens. He doesn’t want Mom upset. Doesn’t want her arms around him, strangling him with sorries.

“Ah, you’re right.”

“Of course I am.”

Izuku draws in on himself, staring at the white fabric of his sling. Time passes strangely, with the nurse heading to her desk and the teacher leaving. His arm thrums with pain, but he doesn’t dare say anything.

Izuku doesn’t want to look even more breakable.

“Izuku! Mom cries at the door, running in, “I heard what happened!”

“Hi mom,” he says quietly. She looks like she wants to throw her arms around him, but hesitates, looking at the nurse who shakes her head.

“You’ll want to get him to the hospital right away,” the nurse says.

“I was planning on it,” Mom says, almost sharp.

The nurse nods.

“Well, he’s free to go. Tell him to be more careful, okay?”

Mom shakes her head.

“I do every day,” she sighs, “Come on Izuku, let’s get to the hospital.”

He grabs her hand with his free one, ignoring the way each step jolts the broken arm into sending shocks of pain up it.

“You doing okay?” Mom asks, hand squeezing his, “I know that it must be scary.”

He bites his lip again.

“Hurts a little,” Izuku gives, squeezing her hand back.

“I’m sorry, I think they have to wait until the hospital to give you anything. But! We’ll get there quick, okay? And then you’ll be all better! That sound good?”

He thinks of the nurse and the teacher. He thinks of being told he’s fragile. He thinks of the tutting and scolding.

“Yeah,” he lies, “It does.”