Izuku knew he maybe had some minor (read: major) trust issues. In his defense, said trust issues were well founded and completely sensible. See, adults and Izuku just didn’t mix. There were two notable exceptions to this: his mother, bless her soul, and All Might. Izuku still wasn’t sure how that had happened but he was scared to look at it for too long in case he broke it.
The point being, he has a bad history with adults. It probably started with his father. He has very few memories of the man, with how young he was when he left them. His father was the first person Izuku had disappointed, and certainly not the last. Midoriya Hisashi had left when Izuku was barely five. When it became apparent that, no, Izuku was not going to develop a quirk. The shame was too much for the man. So he left to ‘work in America’ and never came back. This, of course, had no lasting impact on Izuku whatsoever, why would you even think that?
Things only went downhill from there. In his long school career, Izuku couldn’t pick out a single teacher that liked him. He could, however, pick out a few that really didn’t.
He remembers the way things changed when he first went to elementary school. He had been the only child in his class without a quirk, and at this point it was expected he’d never develop one. Izuku had been the only one left holding out hope for that. He knew it was different when, during break, the teacher had held him back. It’s too dangerous for you Midoriya, you’re too fragile, you’ll just get hurt. So instead of going out and trying to make friends with his classmates, he’d stayed in the classroom under the watchful eye of his teacher. He’d observed the others play outside the window, admiring their quirks, fidgeting at his desk.
That was when he’d first started the notebooks, or at least a crude version of them. He was smart, for his age, and liked to take notes about his classmates quirks. They were nothing like what they’d grow to be, lacking detail, he’d draw all over the page with shaky crayons. Outlining all the cool things his classmates could do and daydreaming about what he’d be able to do when his quirk developed. Because it would.
He thinks maybe the teacher who hated him the most had been in his first year of junior high, Shinohara-sensei. Izuku didn’t remember much of that year. Between Shinohara-sensei and Bakugou’s increasing cruelty- he didn’t deal with it well.
One thing he remembered clearly was the day they’d received their first test back. He didn’t even remember what the test was about now, but he’d gotten full marks. Shinohara-sensei had called him to the front of the class to take the paper back. When Izuku went to take it, it remained firmly in his teacher’s hand. Midoriya, are you aware of the school’s policy on cheating? Izuku froze, the rest of the class muttering behind him. He hadn’t cheated, he would never. He tried to tell his teacher as much. Do you really expect me to believe you were capable of achieving this yourself? I don’t know how you managed it, but I expect you won’t be doing it again. He’d taken the paper back, and ripped it straight down the middle. You will not be receiving a mark for this test, if you cheat again I will be forced to take disciplinary action.
He’d been put in lunch time detention for a week, sitting quietly with Shinohara-sensei occasionally glaring at him as his stomach grumbled. He’d been careful for the rest of his time at Aldera Junior High. Towing the line between good grades but not too good. He didn’t want to be accused of cheating again.
In the end, it never mattered whether a teacher liked him, or tolerated him, or hated his guts. Not a single one of them did a thing against Kacchan.
Every teacher they’d ever had loved Kacchan. He was smart, and outgoing, and he had a powerful, flashy quirk. Bakugou is going to be a hero. Everyone knew it, including Izuku. It was a fact of life, Kacchan was going to be a hero, and Izuku was a quirkless, useless, loser. Of course they wouldn’t dare do anything to tarnish his reputation.
Bakugou was going to go to a top high school and become a pro hero, Izuku was going to fade into obscurity. It made sense to protect him. Izuku knew this, but it didn’t mean it hurt any less. It didn’t make the burns littering his arms and back any less painful, the scars any less ugly. It just meant Izuku had to do better to hide it. And it wasn’t like Izuku blamed Kacchan, the boy was just doing what he’d been taught, they all were. It had always been okay to bully Izuku, so it didn’t matter if they did.
Izuku didn’t bother asking for help, he’d only tried once. He’d told his teacher in fourth grade, when the kicks aimed at his stomach had made him nauseous and the hit to his head was making him dizzy. Fujimori-sensei had seemed nice. Izuku was allowed to play outside if he wanted, and the teacher had never marked his work too harshly, even once praising him for his good grades. He hadn’t expected Fujimori-sensei to roll her eyes and look at Izuku with clear disappointment. Stop being dramatic, Midoriya, you need to stop trying to get Bakugou in trouble.
He’d thrown his lunch up in the school toilets alone, and went back to class to pretend nothing happened.
So Izuku knew teacher’s didn’t help, not when it came to things like this. They’d turn a blind eye if they caught Bakugou harassing him in the halls, tell Midoriya off for provoking Kacchan when they ‘fought’. Not that Bakugou ever needed provoking.
Izuku had gotten used to not trusting adults, or anyone other than his mom, really. Even that had limits. He couldn’t tell her about the things that happened at school, it would break her heart and she wouldn’t be able to sit idle, Izuku would rather wait it out than cause unnecessary trouble. Especially trouble that could ruin someone’s life. Kacchan was going to be a hero, he couldn’t get in the way of that. So he had to fend for himself, his mom couldn’t know about his injuries, or his lack of friends, or the teacher’s who refused to help him.
He could care for his own wounds, teach himself what he didn’t understand in class, and keep his mom happy. He really only had three things in his life: his mom, his grades, and his hero analysis. That would have to be enough.
(There was one more thing, his tiny flicker of hope. One day, he would be a hero. He didn’t know how, but he’d face the odds and he’d succeed. He was already planning his application to UA, figuring out how to get past the entrance exam. He couldn’t draw any attention to this tiny flame of hope keeping him going, lest it got blown out.)
Then All Might barrelled into his life, extinguished and reignited his hope within the span of a few hours, and changed his life forever. He pulled Izuku out of the darkness, and set him on a path. Even though the training was gruelling, Izuku threw himself into it with everything he had. Nothing would take this chance from him.
All Might entrusted his quirk to Izuku, and even though Izuku didn’t feel worthy, he vowed to make himself worthy. To become the number one hero, a successor that could live up to the legacy of All Might. He didn’t care what it took, he’d do anything to make All Might proud.
Then the entrance exam happened, and Izuku was certain he’d blown his chances. He’d disappointed All Might.
(He thought, not for the first time, of words Kacchan had sneered not all that long ago. Words he’d heard whispered for years. He wasn’t good enough, Izuku would never be good enough, maybe it would be better for everyone if he weren’t around.
All Might had given him his quirk, that was no longer an option.)
Then he received the acceptance letter and cried so hard he thought he’d never stop. He was going to UA. He was no longer weak, quirkless deku. He was a hero-in-training. It was everything he’d ever wanted.
He dared to dream that life at UA might be better, and for a while it was. Villain attack a side, his life at UA was beyond his wildest dreams. He had friends. He was no longer shunned for being quirkless, because he wasn’t.
He didn’t trust Aizawa-sensei, but the man didn’t seem needlessly cruel.
(He threatened to expel them on the first day if they didn’t do well enough at a physical fitness test and every time Izuku remembered this he faltered. He couldn’t allow himself to settle.)
Then the man protected them at the USJ. Risked his life to help them. Izuku may never trust Aizawa-sensei to help him in class, or with any personal problems, to help with the problems between students. But he trusted his teacher with his life, and Izuku figured that counted a lot more.
Izuku got used to life at UA. He let himself forget (ignore, never truly forget) his misgivings about teachers, because it wasn’t all that important. Here, Izuku had friends, and a quirk, and though Kacchan was still angry he didn’t hurt Izuku. He kept his grades up (daring to go a little higher, maybe they wouldn’t think he was cheating? Maybe it was okay?) and he tried not to cause any disruptions (the name problem child rang in his head and he tried not to cringe) and he found himself thinking that, maybe, the teachers here were okay. That maybe they could be trusted, if just a little bit. They were all pro heroes after all.
Then the sports festival happens. He makes it all the way to the third round. He wins against the general education student, Shinsou, though it’s close and Izuku feels stupid because Ojiro warned him but he fell for it anyway. Despite everything, he likes Shinsou, and finds himself hoping he might see the other again. Hopefully in the same class.
Then he goes against Todoroki. He hadn’t planned on doing all of that during the match, but he couldn’t help himself. The urge to help the other boy was too strong and he gave in, destroying his arm in the process. It’s worth it, in the end. He’s going to be thinking about those flames for a long time, and the intense look on Todoroki’s face that went with it.
The high doesn’t last long.
I will not heal injuries like this anymore.
It feels like something clicking into place. He’d gotten so comfortable. Recovery Girl was just the first he’d pushed too far, of course she was sick of dealing with his constant injuries. He made so much work for her, and it was like he never learned. Just kept hurting himself over and over again without any thought for how it was affecting other people. He couldn’t bother her anymore, he’d have to be careful.
She’d probably still help him if it was life-threatening, that’d definitely be bad for the school’s reputation, but he didn’t want to push his luck. Best to back off unless he really needed help. He thanked her with a smile and left, there were other matches he wanted to watch and he didn’t want to annoy her any further.
He felt like he was in a bit of a daze for the rest of the tournament. Like he’d crashed back down to earth and hit his head on impact. Reality was a harsh thing, but it was about time he stopped daydreaming. He needed to be realistic, it wouldn’t do to have the rug pulled out from under him again.
Going back to school after the sports festival was surreal, everything felt so normal, he didn’t know what else he’d expected. The only thing that had really changed was Todoroki, it was nothing massive, but Izuku made efforts to include the other boy, and Todoroki let himself be included. He was still quiet and reserved, but he’d eat with Izuku, Uraraka, Iida and Tsuya, and when they did something exceptionally strange or funny, he’d exhale something that was almost a laugh. It was a pleasant change, and Izuku decidedly didn’t regret sacrificing his arm and future medical care if it meant he could draw those tiny half smiles out of his new friend.
Life was going suspiciously smoothly since the sports festival, so of course it had to throw a curve-ball right his way.
They were doing hero training that afternoon, the objective being to make it through the obstacle course and rescue the civilian. It should have been a nice, easy fun activity. Izuku was having a great time right up until he approached the next obstacle. It was a simple jump over to the other side, which was slightly higher. The empty space between was intimidating and the drop below even more so. Izuku knew he wasn’t in any real danger, but the obstacle course was designed with access to first aid in mind, so they could afford to make it more dangerous.
Izuku didn’t have that peace of mind, but he still had to complete the course. He considered using one for all, maybe just a toe to give him the extra boost to get across, but quickly shook off the thought. Recovery Girl wouldn’t be healing such an injury and he didn’t want to be slowed down for the rest of the course anyway. They weren’t racing, but he knew the next person had been started not longer after himself. It would be so embarrassing if Todoroki overtook him despite his head start.
With his mind made up he spared the drop one last glance before giving himself enough room for a run up. It wasn’t that far across, he could make it.
He almost did, too. His fingers caught on the ledge, but with his right hand still bandaged and hurting, he couldn’t pull himself up. He couldn’t hold his body weight for long before he went plummeting to the ground. He twisted in the air, and had a split second to look at the rapidly approaching ground before he collided with it, his arm making a sickening crunching sound.
He bit his lip to keep the pained sound down. This was exactly what he’d wanted to avoid. It was definitely broken, a feeling he was familiar with by now. He forced himself to sit upright, gritting his teeth to keep himself quiet. He cursed himself for making this mistake. A broken toe would have been better than this, Recovery Girl would be less annoyed with him about having to heal that- except she wouldn’t be healing either. Another injury caused by Izuku’s own recklessness. This one he’d have to deal with on his own. At least that limited the number of lectures to just one from Aizawa-sensei.
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, but he was horrified when he saw Todoroki sliding down to meet him at the bottom. He must’ve noticed him as he was passing.
“Midoriya?” Todoroki’s brows furrowed in confusion. “Are you okay?” He knelt down next to Izuku, looking him over.
“Yes!” His reply was hurried, his voice a little too strained, he fought to calm it down. “Yes, I’m fine, just misjudged the jump is all.”
“Are you hurt?” Todoroki looked worried and a quiet part of Izuku was amazed at the display.
“No, nothing more than a few bruises and, well, a little shocked from the fall I guess.” He smiled sheepishly.
“I’ll take you to Aizawa-sensei.” Todoroki decided, standing up and offering a hand to Izuku.
“That- that won’t be necessary.” He flushed in embarrassment. Now he needed to be escorted back to the teacher? How fragile was he?
“I’d like to, anyway, in case you hit your head when you fell.” Todoroki’s gaze was piercing, like he could see right through him. Izuku conceded without much more of a fight. He tried not to draw any attention to his hurt arm, best not to let them know. He wasn’t sure if Recovery Girl had told the rest of the staff that she wasn’t healing him anymore, but if she hadn’t he didn’t want to be made to go anyway and cause her all that trouble.
They didn’t exchange another word as he was escorted back to Aizawa-sensei.
“How bad is it, problem child?” Aizawa-sensei asked as soon as he entered the room. Izuku flinched at the name, he didn’t think Aizawa-sensei meant anything too mean by it, but what if Izuku was wrong? His reaction must have caught Aizawa’s attention as his gaze sharpened.
“It’s nothing, really!” He squeaked. “Just a few bruises.” Aizawa-sensei eyed him skeptically and Izuku tried not to jostle his arm, it hurt enough as it was, but Izuku was good at ignoring pain. It was difficult not to fidget under his teacher’s discerning gaze, but eventually the man relented.
“Sit out for the rest of this class, if you get a headache, dizziness, anything that might suggest a concussion, go to Recovery Girl. Todoroki, keep an eye on him.” Aizawa-sensei turned back to watch the rest of the class complete the obstacle course and Izuku slumped onto a bench.
He mentally berated himself for the rest of the lesson, Todoroki silent at his side. He was never going to be a hero if he kept doing stuff like this, he could barely look after himself let alone anybody else. It was pitiful. He was so useless.
He managed to make it through the rest of the day in a haze of pain and self-deprecation. He stood up from his desk as the final class finished. He was excited to go home, take as many painkillers as he safely could, and crash into bed. He didn’t notice Uraraka approaching behind him until a hand closed around his wrist on the arm he broke earlier today, and tugged to get his attention. Fire erupted under his skin and a pained cry escaped his lips that he couldn’t keep down. He jerked away, cradling his bad arm to his body. Tears had begun to gather in his eyes.
Stop fucking crying deku, you want to be a hero and you can’t even handle a little pain?
Kacchan’s voice sneered at him in his head but it wasn’t him in front of Izuku. It was Uraraka, crouched down to his level, eyes wide with worry.
“Deku-kun, are you okay? I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you!” She looked distraught, Iida and Todoroki flanked either side of her, looking down at him with similar concern. Looking around, everyone was staring at him. He cringed at the knowledge, now they’d all know how weak he really was. Weak, quirkless, deku, who couldn’t do anything.
Through his blurry eyes he sees Present Mic’s distinctive form crouch in Uraraka’s place. “Hey listener, I’m gonna need you to calm down, okay? Can you show me where you're hurt?” It’s the softest Izuku has ever heard the rambunctious teacher. He shakes his head still, refusing to admit his weakness. Yamada-sensei frowns at him, and Izuku feels panic spike in his heart. He’s upset another teacher.
“Okay then, will you let me take you to Recovery Girl to get checked out?”
Izuku shakes his head even more frantically at that. He absolutely cannot bother her with this. Yamada-sensei sighs and turns to Iida, asking something Izuku doesn’t catch before Iida hurries off, then his teacher looks back at Izuku. “You’ve given your friends quite the scare, little listener. Me, too. Would you mind telling me what’s got you all worked up?”
His mouth stays resolutely shut. Nothing good comes from telling teachers, it’ll only make his life more difficult.
Izuku can feel his teacher’s eyes on him but he doesn’t ask anything else. He instructs the rest of his classmates to leave not long after, and Izuku is quietly grateful for it, he just wishes they hadn’t seen his meltdown in the first place.
He stays in silence with Yamada-sensei until Aizawa-sensei joins them.
“Problem child.” Aizawa-sensei starts seriously, and Izuku flinches at the name again. What did he ever do to deserve it? Why was it just him singled out? It was supposed to be different here.
“Midoriya.” He mutters, immediately clamping his jaw shut after. He hadn’t meant to let that slip.
“Excuse me?” Aizawa-sensei is so intense, it can be easy to forget, with how apathetic the man can often be.
“My name is Midoriya Izuku.” He continues, feeling fear clench his heart with every word. “Not ‘problem child’”
The corners of Aizawa-sensei’s lips slant downwards. “Okay, Midoriya, my apologies. Now, tell me the truth please. When I asked if you were injured during rescue practice this afternoon, did you lie to me?”
Izuku bites hard on his lip, he nods. His confession will have consequences, but he figures Aizawa clearly already knows that he was lying. Trying to cover it up with more lies probably wouldn’t help his case. He presents his arm gingerly, rolling the sleeves up so they can see the damage. He hears Yamada-sensei gasp quietly.
“It looks like your arm is broken, why didn’t you go to see Recovery Girl?” Yamada-sensei asks.
Izuku gnaws on his bottom lip as he tries to decide on how to answer. He’s in too much pain to come up with anything but the truth. “She said she wouldn’t be healing injuries like this anymore. Because I keep hurting myself and I need to learn not to.” He sees Aizawa-sensei’s face darken and panics. “I- I didn’t mean to get myself hurt like this! I just, I knew if I used my quirk to make the jump I’d end up with at least a broken toe, but if I could manage to make it without I wouldn’t be injured. But I couldn’t quite make it, and I wasn’t able to pull myself up.” He glanced at his right hand, he still didn’t regret helping Todoroki.
Aizawa-sensei and Yamada-sensei shared a look Izuku couldn't decipher.
“Midoriya, listen to me, I need to make sure you understand this.” He makes sure Izuku is looking into his eyes before continuing. “You are entitled to medical care, no matter what. Nobody has the right to withhold that from you, no matter how much they think they may be helping you. Do you understand me?”
Izuku stared at Aizawa-sensei with wide eyes. That was the last thing he’d expected to hear. It sounded like Aizawa-sensei was looking out for him. He saw Yamada-sensei nodding as well. Both of them, they were siding with him rather than a fellow teacher. It caused the tears in his eyes to spill. He nodded in response to his teacher’s question.
“Good, now, I have some things that need to be sorted out, Hizashi-”
“I’ll take Midoriya to the hospital, don’t worry.” Yamada-sensei replied. Aizawa-sensei inclined his head to show his thanks, Izuku could only stare, wide-eyed.
“You’re going to go with Yamada-sensei to get your arm looked at. Recovery Girl will not be allowed anywhere near you until I’ve sorted things out, I’ll also call your mother so she’s aware of what’s happening. You don’t need to worry, Midoriya, we’ll take things from here.” Aizawa-sensei didn’t smile at him, but the serious look he gave Izuku was the most reassuring thing he’d ever seen. He nodded dumbly in reply, not sure how to react to a teacher actually helping.
“C’mon little listener, let’s get you fixed up.”