Izuku hated shopping by himself. It wasn’t that he was too nervous to check out or anything because he had gotten over that a while ago.
The problem was that people in his neighborhood recognized him from middle school. They recognized him as the only Quirkless kid in their class, and it didn’t matter to them if they saw him at the sports festival, with an obvious Quirk.
He would always be weak to them. Always worthless, and useless. He could feel them staring the entire time that he got everything he needed off his mother’s list. It was one of the rare times that his mother had asked him to restock the groceries for her while she was working.
Izuku couldn’t let his mother down, so here he was at the grocery store without a teacher from UA with him. And people were following him.
Everything felt wrong. The lights illuminating the store were too bright, and his jacket was too tight and made it difficult to breathe. Sweat was beading on his brow as he checked another item off his list.
Someone was definitely following him from behind. Their footsteps weren’t as quiet as Izuku’s and they were one of the only people on this side of the store so it was easy to track how far away the guy was.
It didn’t help to ease his growing panic. He slowed his pace, and the person following him stopped to examine something on the opposite side of the aisle. Izuku took the moment to steal a glance at whoever was stalking him.
And of course, it was someone he just barely recognized from Aldera. It didn’t help him settle any of the fear in his chest.
The temptation to call Todoroki or Iida and ask them to pick him up was unbearably strong, but he didn’t want to bother anyone. What if he was just making this up? What if this guy was just shopping like he was, and Izuku made a scene for no reason? What if they did nothing?
He just really didn’t want to bother anyone. Everything was fine. Nothing was wrong. He wasn’t being followed, he told himself as he glanced down at his list to see what else was left to grab.
He wasn’t being followed, he promised himself as his former classmate followed him with a companion this time.
I’m not being followed, he told himself as he spotted a third classmate who smirking at him in a way that wasn’t friendly.
He refused to acknowledge the growing panic. His lungs couldn’t get enough air, and everywhere he looked he saw them. He could hear his heart rapidly beating in his chest.
The last time he saw any of his former classmates from Aldera was when they were shoving him around near the stairwell. They were taunting him, laughing and asking how he’d gotten into UA with no Quirk.
They pushed him down the stairs that day, and it was a miracle he hadn’t sustained any serious injuries. But he could never forget how it felt to go to school at Aldera. The death threats, the bullying, the taunting, the shoving, the touching. He stared blankly at the carton of milk in front of him.
There were four of them in total if he counted the guy standing outside of the store. One of them had a Quirk that could burn people through their clothes, another had a Quirk that let them elongate their fingers, and the other two had Quirks Izuku had never experienced first-hand.
He needed to get out. He couldn’t— He couldn’t—
Izuku knew how this particular group operated. They would surround him like they already had and they’d hurt him. As soon as he left the store they’d pounce on him and there was nowhere he could run because his house wasn’t nearby.
But he couldn’t panic here. If he did then they wouldn’t wait until he was outside. He needed to call someone. Or text them.
But he’d faced villains! He’d faced Stain and Shigaraki. He’d fought villains, and yet he wanted to run and hide from his childhood bullies. His eyes stung.
He wanted to curl up on the ground and cry. He was honestly pathetic.
Izuku hastily got his phone out of his pocket as he grabbed the first carton of milk he touched. Against his better judgment, he sent Aizawa-sensei nothing but his location. He continued down the list, slowing his pace a bit.
Three people were following him.
He turned into the next aisle just as his phone started to ring. He wasn’t going to answer it at first but out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone reaching for him. Izuku scrambled to answer it.
“Problem Child?” Aizawa-sensei asked, and Izuku let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
“Hi!” Izuku exclaimed, trying to seem like he wasn’t on the verge of tears. But he knew his voice sounded strained. “I didn’t expect you to call me. I thought you were still at work mom?”
“Are people listening to you right now?” Aizawa sounded worried. “What’s happening? I’m already on my way,”
“Yeah.” Izuku didn’t risk looking over his shoulder as he strode forward.
“Okay, I’m almost there,” Aizawa said gently, but he sounded kind of winded as if he was… hopping rooftops. “How many people?”
“I’ll be home around four,” Izuku replied. “I have to go,”
“Don’t you fucking hang up on me Problem Child—”
He hung up. He was already being suspicious and they were bound to notice—
“Deku,” A sickly sweet voice said from behind him. Closer than he was comfortable with.
Well shit . He quickened his pace and headed straight for the nearest cash register. He needed to go outside. He needed to go somewhere Aizawa-sensei could see him. The cashier was quick, but his stalkers still caught up to him by the time he was finished.
He hardly made it out of the automatic doors before someone was pulling him forward with a harsh laugh.
“So it really was you!”
He couldn’t recognize this person, but he knew that his tone wasn’t the kind that was used when you recognized an old friend. Dread pooled in his stomach like poison. He tried to take a deep breath, but it got caught in his throat halfway through.
All four of them were coming closer and he couldn’t breathe. “Wait—” He gasped, “Please I didn’t even do anything—”
“Oh, c’mon Deku you know that’s not true.”
He was too disoriented to know who was talking to him. He could hardly see past his tears. Someone grabbed the front of his jacket and pushed him backward. Into someone else who pushed him in another direction.
“You just breathing is reason enough for someone to kick your ass!” They all laughed. His skin was burning, he couldn’t get a full breath of air and vaguely noticed that he was probably hyperventilating.
“P-please stop,” He found himself begging, as they pushed him down. “P-please— I don’t— I can’t— why—”
“Quirkless little Deku!” Izuku hardly had enough time to cover his stomach and face before a foot planted itself into his side. “Are you stupid or just deaf? I just told you why,”
“He’s just dumb!” One of them exclaimed with a bout of laughter. “He can’t even say his own name right. It’s Deku, not Izuku,”
“D-E-K-U. It fits you, don’t you think? You’re just a Quirkless bitch— ”
“I’m going to have to ask you to back away,” A gruff, angry voice snapped. Cutting off whoever had been talking. It was Aizawa, a small part of him noted with relief. No one moved. Izuku could see one of them laugh and wave Aizawa away. “Now.”
Aizawa must’ve shot them a murderous glare because all of them moved instantly as if they’d been shocked.
“He’s just a crybaby! We didn’t do anything—”
“I’ll see for myself,” Aizawa growled, and Izuku scrambled to wipe his tears away. From far away he was sure that he heard Present Mic laying it on them, sounding angrier than Izuku has ever heard him.
Aizawa crouched down and held a hand up. “Don’t cover for them Problem Child I saw it. Let me help you,”
Izuku promptly burst into tears. “I’m s-sorry t-this is my f-fault—” He sobbed, covering his face. “They f-f-followed m-me I didn’t know w-what to do! I’m s-such a d-disappointment! I-I f-fought Stain and Shi-Shigaraki but I couldn’t— I c-couldn’t—”
“Midoriya,” Aizawa said gently, ruffling his hair. “You’re not a disappointment. This wasn’t your fault, kid. There are just some things that are too scary to fight, and it’s normal to not fight back in traumatizing situations. That doesn’t make you weak or a disappointment to me,”
He’s lying, is the first thing that popped in his head.
“I’m not, I promise,” Aizawa replied, “Let’s get you to Recovery Girl okay?”
Shit. He said that out loud, didn't he?
“O-Okay,” Izuku replied, trying to wipe away the endless stream of tears.
Shouta stood outside of the nurse’s office with Recovery Girl.
“We reviewed the tapes of the store and they were stalking him Chiyo,” Shouta spat. “Those little fucking bastards coordinated this,”
“And Midoriya doesn’t want to press charges?” Nedzu asked from the inside of Shouta’s capture weapon.
“No. He’d much sooner pretend it never happened,” Shouta told him.
Nedzu gave him a sadistic smile. “Well, that just won’t do! Pardon me but I must destroy— I mean discipline some ignorant children!”
“He’s going to tear them apart, isn’t he?” Shouta commented as Nedzu suddenly left both of them.
“We didn’t see anything,” Chiyo smirked, before patting Shouta on the shoulder. “You should go talk to the kid. He only suffered a few burns and bruises. Nothing my Quirk couldn’t fix, but I’m sure that he’s pretty shaken,”
Shouta sighed heavily. He wasn’t good with kids and honestly, he wished that Hizashi was here to comfort the kid instead. Right now it didn’t matter. The kid needed someone and apparently, his mother was too busy working to answer his phone call earlier.
So Shouta was really the only option with Hizashi still down at the station sorting everything out. He eased the door open slowly, as to not frighten his student on accident.
“Midoriya?” Shouta called out softly, closing the door behind him. “How’re you doing?”
Midoriya was still dressed in athletic shorts and a jacket. The shirt beneath the jacket said undershirt which was such a Midoriya thing to wear. He was perched on the edge of the bed and staring blankly at the wall. As soon as Shouta had called out to him, however, he looked over.
“I’m fine,” He said weakly, wringing his hands together. “Recovery Girl healed my injuries.”
“I know that,” Shouta replied, crouching down next to him and taking Midoriya’s hands into his own. “I was asking about how you felt. Getting assaulted by your old classmates—”
Just thinking about it made anger swell up in his chest until he felt like a balloon ready to pop. Midoriya interrupted him, his tone of voice strained and quiet. “It wasn’t assault…”
“Then what would you call them stalking you and then beating you up, Midoriya?”
Midoriya pulled his hands away and curled in on himself. “I mean… what they said was true. I was—” He ran his fingers through his hair frantically, tugging at the strands as he choked back a sob. It made Shouta’s heart ache. “I was Quirkless— I am useless, aren’t I? I can’t even fight back—”
“You’re wrong, Midoriya,” Shouta replied sternly, as Midoriya openly sobbed into his hands. He ruffled the kid’s hair. “You’re one of the strongest kids I’ve ever seen, with a Quirk to match.”
Midoriya mumbled something under his breath, and Shouta furrowed his brow.
“It’s not my Quirk,” Midoriya whispered as if it was a terrible secret. “I’m still Quirkless… I’m still…”
“It’s not yours?” Shouta parroted, confused.
“All Might gave it to me the day of the Entrance exam,” Midoriya replied weakly, rubbing his arms. “I... impressed him or something?”
He said the last statement as if he wasn’t sure exactly how All Might decided to give him his Quirk which was understandable. Shouta was angry and shocked, to say the least. All Might hadn’t even thought of telling Shouta about something so important, and he couldn’t exactly wrap his head around how it was possible to pass on a Quirk to another individual.
It was supposed to be impossible, but that was a question for a different time. When he could properly rip into All Might and demand answers.
“Listen kiddo,” Shouta started, placing a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, “First of all I need you to know that you could’ve always been a hero without a Quirk, okay? Hell, I practically fight Quirkless fifty percent of the time. And secondly—”
But he never got to the second part. Midoriya was crying again, sobbing harder than Shouta has ever seen. He grabbed desperately onto Shouta’s scarf which would’ve been adorable if his kid wasn’t so distressed.
“I could’ve?” he asked, as if he expected Shouta to take it back. “I-I could’ve been a hero without a Quirk? Do you really think that? Even All Might…”
And the anger was back. “What do you mean, even All Might?”
Midoriya’s grip on his scarf loosened and he tangled his hands together again nervously. There was a beat of silence before the kid finally spoke up.
“He t-told me I c-couldn’t, ” Midoriya shut his eyes tightly before opening them again. “Everyone s-said it so it s-shouldn’t matter,”
“I’ll be right back,” Shouta said lowly, trying to hide how pissed this made him feel. It was like a fire burning under his skin, and he couldn’t help but feel like someone needed to smack some sense into this buffoon.
“N-no!” Midoriya squeaked, catching his hand as he turned away. “P-please don’t. He’ll know I told you about the Quirk—”
“Your Quirk,” Shouta corrected gently, reluctantly turning back to the kid.
“It’s your power kid, not anyone else’s,” Shouta told him. “And the next time you go off campus I’ll come with you, okay? No one will mess with you,”
“So… you’re not disappointed that I didn’t fight back?”
“You’re just a kid, Midoriya. It’s okay to need help,” Shouta promised, pulling him into a hug. He hated hugs, but for Midoriya he’d do anything.
Like sic Nedzu onto a bunch of ignorant ass high schoolers and record it so he could laugh at them later.