The onset of winter introduced Midoriya to yet another consequence of his actions. The night the first cold front of the year blew down from the north, he shivered himself awake. Though he was curled into a tight ball under his blankets, he still shuddered as he pushed out of his dreamless sleep. He blinked to clear the haze from his eyes and glanced up at his alarm clock.
6:00. It was Saturday. He didn’t need to be up at 6:00. Why. With a shaky sigh, he kicked off his comforter. If he hurried, he could adjust the thermostat in his room and get back in bed before the pleasant, heavy drowsiness faded. Curling his right arm under his side, he started to push himself upright, but paused, eyes wide.
It wasn’t the tremor in his arm that concerned him. He was used to its instability. There was only so much that could be done about his destroyed arms, and even Recovery Girl’s healing powers had only been able to repair part of the musculature. Some of it, he’d been assured, would fade with time. However, the dull throb running through his fingers, along his forearm, and all the way up to where his bicep met his shoulder? That was a new sensation.
Disquiet overriding the desire to sleep, he sat all the way up. On the way to the thermostat on the opposite wall, he flexed slowly, working through all of the range-of-motion exercises Recovery Girl gave him the last time she had to piece him back together. He tweaked the thermostat, rotating his arm in its socket. No, nothing different. He could still move, though everything felt tighter somehow.
He padded back to his bed, pulling his arm into a light stretch. Even if something was wrong, there wasn’t much that could be done about it until after the rest of the school had been roused. Better to see if he could reclaim some of his lost rest and address the problem later.
Toshinori tipped his chin toward his chest, huddling under the hood of his oversized jacket. Not that it did much good. The cold was biting, and his jacket did nothing to abate the throbbing in his bones. The temperature had dropped so much, he was surprised the kids still wanted to finish their outdoor training. His students were unrelenting.
Standing next to the running track, he watched as they ran laps. Their speed and form varied, but every single one of them was pushing themselves. His successor, for one, had already finished his standard running practice and had moved on to working with One for All. The lattice of power crackled over the boy’s skin in shifting arcs, pulsing slightly with every measured breath. Toshinori tilted his head. Something wasn’t right about the way young Midoriya was moving. He was channeling the quirk well, yes, but he was holding himself with a stiffness that was both uncharacteristic and, if he continued to flood his system with One for All, potentially harmful.
“Young Midoriya!” he called out as the boy approached him on the track. His student slid to a stop, scattering dust as his sneakers dug into the ground.
“Yes, All Might?” Panting, Midoriya approached, maintaining the popping, hissing energy that wreathed around him. Sweat dripped from his brow.
“My boy, are you alright? You seem to be-“ He didn't want to say “holding back”, because it was clear the boy was throwing himself headlong against his limits. “Moving differently today.”
“No, All Might, I’m fine. It took me longer to warm up this morning than usual. It’s probably just the cold.” The kid rubbed the back of his head and gave a sheepish grin. The look vanished almost immediately, however, when he saw All Might’s slow motions. “What about you, All Might, are you okay?”
“Winter is just a bit much for these old bones, my boy.” Toshinori gave a wry smile, hoping it was enough to satisfy his successor. “It happens when you get to be my age.”
“You’re not old, All Might, but you shouldn’t push yourself if you don’t have to. You can go back inside if you want. We can handle this part of training on our own.”
“Nonsense! I’m your teacher. It’s my responsibility to supervise as much of your education as possible.”
The boy tilted his head again, but chose not to say anything more besides a quick “Okay, just don’t overdo it.”
“That goes for you as well, young Midoriya. Watch out for yourself, and don’t make the villains’ job any easier.” Toshinori waved a hand. “Go on, you were in the middle of training.”
“Oh, right! Thanks!” His student took off like a rocket, One for All’s aura pulsating around him. Something was still off about Midoriya’s form. Toshinori could only hope his successor would - for once - know his own limits.
A side effect of UA being positioned so close to the ocean was the ever-changing, fickle weather. After the brief cold snap, the sun reemerged for about a week, forcing the frosty grip of winter to abate, if only for a few days. When the temperature dropped again, however, Toshinori knew it before he even got out of bed.
It was in his once-shattered ribs and in the arm he’d broken punching All for One with the last of his strength. A dull ache that seemed to swell as the thermometer plummeted. By the time he made his way down to the training fields, he was late, but also was moving a little less robotically. He stopped, adjusting the collar of his coat with one hand and clutching a thermos full of tea in the other as he waited by the running track. The kids were stretching, finishing their morning routines.
His gaze traveled over the kids, who were scattered in groups. Some of them sat on the track, stretching to touch noses to knees or reaching for their toes. Young Iida was leaning with his foot propped against the nearest wall, arms crossed over his knee to stretch out his hamstrings. Toshinori’s successor, however, was spending an inordinate amount of time stretching out his right arm. He’d have to speak to Chiyo about this. If it was still bothering him a week later, clearly something was wrong with him, and given that it was his right arm, Toshinori thought it was well within his jurisdiction to be concerned.
When the students filed back into the building to hit the showers before classes began, Midoriya jogged up to him, a small packet in his hands. “Here, All Might,” he chirped. He held out the packet and then dashed off as soon as Toshinori reached out to take it. What on earth? On closer inspection, he realized the packet was from Chiyo’s office, with instructions in her handwriting for Toshinori to take the contents and come to the infirmary during the kids’ lunch hour.
Inside the packet were two pills; he recognized them as one of the milder backup painkillers that Chiyo harassed him into taking when he was worse off than usual. How had she known to send these to him, and why had his successor already been to see her that day? Regardless, he took the pills with a swallow of his tea.
After his first lecture was done and the kids were on their way to lunch, he stopped by the infirmary as requested, but was shooed away by Chiyo who handed him another package of pills and shoving him out the door because “she had a patient to attend to that would actually listen to her instructions”. Ah, well, he was content to live in mystery over the weekend. He could ask Midoriya himself when classes resumed again.
In reality, Toshinori did not have to wait long. Saturday morning, the sky was still clouded with dark, thunder-gray clouds that promised snow if they were lucky, freezing rain if they weren’t. He had barely pulled himself out of bed to make his morning tea, a blanket draped around his aching frame, when there was a knock on the door.
Moving into the teachers’ hall of the Heights Alliance dorm certainly increased the amount of visitors he received. “Just a moment,” Toshinori called. He set the the cup of water he’d just poured into the microwave and set it to run before shuffling over to the door, blanket still around his shoulders in a poor mockery of his Silver Age cape. Stooping to look through the peep hole on the door, he took a step back in surprise.
He’d been expecting to see Present Mic, or maybe Nedzu, asking him about lesson plans or grading methods. Instead, standing in front of the door, shifting from one foot to the other, was young Midoriya. His lips were moving, as if he was muttering to himself under his breath, and there was a small packet in his hands.
As soon as Toshinori opened the door, Midoriya froze in place and flushed. “S-Sorry for bothering you on a Saturday, All Might.” If his words weren’t enough, the squeak in the boy’s voice reminded Toshinori that his student still viewed him as a distant hero. “But I thought you could use these.” Midoriya held out a packet exactly like the one from the day before, down to the same words in Chiyo’s spidery handwriting. No sooner had Toshinori’s hand closed around it before the boy spun on his heel. “Bye All Mi-“
“Hold on there, my boy,” he said, reaching out to place a hand on the boy’s shoulder. Midoriya flinched, and Toshinori immediately withdrew. “My apologies.”
“No, it’s…It’s fine, All Might. Did you need something?”
“My boy, you are never going to bother me. I’d like to talk, if you have a moment. I still haven’t been able to give you proper thanks for the medicine, nor ask how you knew I needed it.”
“Oh, that.” Midoriya turned back to face him. “I’m sorry, I should have asked first. I just thought that if my arm was aching because of the weather, then you probably could use something too.” The boy rubbed the back of his head.
“Your arm?” Toshinori’s blood ran cold.
“Yeah, Recovery Girl said it’s a common side effect of my injuries. It only happens when it’s this cold, though. And it doesn’t hurt that badly. It was just scary at first because I didn’t know what it was.”
“…My boy, I’m so sorry.” This was Toshinori’s fault. He’d failed to teach Midoriya how to properly channel the power, failed to help him train into a vessel in time, failed to defend the students. That was why the boy was injured, and why the boy was having to cope with a problem that shouldn’t have touched him until he was old and graying.
“Sorry for what- No, All Might, this isn’t your fault! I was too careless and…Impatient. And like I said, it doesn’t hurt badly.”
Despite himself, despite the heavy weight on his conscience, Toshinori smiled. “You’ve grown, young Midoriya. A hero can recognize mistakes even where he’s succeeded.” He reached out to ruffle the boy’s hair. “Keep growing. Don’t let an old man’s mistakes cost you any more than they already have.”
He expected the boy to indignantly protest, but his protege instead looked up, head still slightly bowed under Toshinori’s hand. “You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes. I promise, I’m going to learn from mine. Your help…Your help won’t be for nothing.” Midoriya straightened up. “I’m going to take the weight off your shoulders. I’m not strong enough to do it yet, but I’m gong to get there.”
“I have every faith that you will, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes as well. Don’t take all of that burden on. I know you’ve got friends who will gladly share it.” Toshinori stepped back and folded his arms. “And you do know you don’t have to hide your injuries from me, yes?”
“I just didn’t want you to have another thing to worry about. It’s not like it can be changed.” Midoriya’s voice dropped to a mumble.
“It’s my job to worry, my boy. Besides, it sounds like, in this case, we’ve got something in common.”