AN: No matter what I do, the website continues to mess up my formatting. Please read on AO3 for correct formatting. All future updates will be posted to AO3 only.

Izuku had to give it to 1-A. Despite everything they had been through, none of them had chosen to leave Yuuei. None of them had let the events at USJ deter them from their dreams. It felt to Izuku as though they had all passed the first test that truly mattered when it came to being a hero. They had been outnumbered, outmatched, and although they hadn't exactly come out the other side of the conflict unscathed, they had faced their first real villains and won. His therapist might not have necessarily approved of Izuku thinking of their attack as an intense training exercise, but he hadn't exactly told him not to either, and if that made it easier for Izuku to sleep at night then that was what he was going to do.

Inko might have other thoughts on the matter, but Yuuei had done what it could to help its students in the wake of USJ. While there were a few who had stopped seeing the school appointed therapist as soon as they were allowed to do so, he knew he wasn't the only one who was still on contact with their counselor. Their practicals had been postponed for the week following the incident, but it couldn't go on forever. Yuuei was a hero school-thehero school. The sports festival had been postponed in light of the attack, and sooner rather than later they would have to jump back into their training. They couldn't afford to freeze up the next time they faced a villain, or all they had suffered through and fought for would be for nothing.

The students of 1-A understood this now better than they would have before. It was hard to think of anything good coming from the experience, not with the recovery Aizawa was still facing, but they knew better than their 1-B counterparts just what it felt like to face a villain and not know whether they were going to make it out alive. That didn't make the return to training easy for any of them, but then they wouldn't have been at Yuuei in the first place if they wanted their lives to be easy. No one made it through that entrance exam without a little stubborn pride to show for it.

With the sports festival getting closer, they needed to be preparing to step into the public eye for the first time, not dealing with the aftermath of something that was entirely out of their control. Now that Izuku was back in the classroom, he thought the best thing the school could do for them was let everything be as normal as possible. Routines, familiar classes, homework even. Anything to prove to them that everything was going to be okay, that their school was still a safe place at least, and that they were going to be able to move forward.

The hardest part for Izuku wasn't being back on campus or the return of the practicals. He knew he needed all of the training that he could get in keep up with the others during the sports festival. The most difficult thing for him was pretending that he wasn't as devastated by Aizawa's absence as he actually was. To the rest of the class, Aizawa was their grumpy homeroom teacher. They had gotten to know him a little better since the start of school, and they were upset by his injuries, but they knew he was going to be coming back. To the outside observer, Izuku should be no different.

It was one thing to pretend that he and Aizawa didn't know each other during class. He had wanted to keep as much information about his recommendation status and his sponsor quiet as possible. When school started, it had seemed like a good enough idea. Information was power, and he didn't know how the other students would react if they knew that he had been training with their teacher for the last two years or that he had a permanent place setting at family dinner. Izuku hadn't known his classmates then, and it had seemed better to wait and gauge their reactions before revealing something so important. Now though, it seemed silly in the wake of everything else going on.

Still, he hadn't discussed it with Aizawa yet, and that wasn't a decision he could make on his own. Telling his classmates would have to wait. Izuku could act for just a little longer until Aizawa was well enough to return. Whenever that ended up being. The doctors were hesitant to give a solid timeframe yet. Apparently there was still a chance of Aizawa's injuries becoming aggravated. His first few weeks out of the hospital would be important for setting the rate of his recovery. Izuku knew that Aizawa wasn't taking any chances. He wanted to be there for his students, for Izuku, but he wasn't going to push himself. Izuku had squashed any inclination Aizawa might have had to rush his recovery by letting him know that he would remember exactly how Aizawa acted the next time Izuku was injured. In terms of motivation to follow the hospital's guidelines, it seemed to work better than anything Hizashi or Inko had said. Low, maybe, but it made Izuku feel better about having to deal with Aizawa's noticeable absence every time he stepped into homeroom.

It wouldn't be forever though. Aizawa would get the all clear to return to school, to hero work. The question of his quirk was still up in the air, but Izuku was optimistic. The damage to his eyes was still healing, and even the doctors themselves had been hesitant to say anything definitively. If it didn't return…They would cross that bridge when they came to it. Aizawa wouldn't approve of him worrying about things he couldn't control. Izuku would have to be okay with that. He would have to push the images of that day from his mind and move on. For Aizawa's sake. For his mother's peace of mind. For Hizashi, and his own career. Everyone else in 1-A was fine after what they had been through. Izuku would have to be fine too.

Being on Yuuei's campus during the school day gave Inko a feeling of security that she hadn't anticipated. It wasn't as though there was anything that she could really do in the case of an emergency. She wasn't a pro hero, after all, but the fact that she could simply leave her meeting with Nedzu and track down both Izuku and Hizashi in a matter of minutes settled the anxiety that had been steadily building after the USJ attack. It helped to have all of her boys under the same roof, but that wasn't plausible now that school had reconvened. Aizawa had gone back to his own apartment to keep an eye on his cats, but Inko would be paying him a visit as soon as she left the campus. Given everything that had happened, she thought her concern was justified.

Her visit was supposed to be a short one. A meeting with the principal, a quick check in with Hizashi, and then she would be on her way. She didn't think there was much discussion needed after her presentation. Inko had been offered the newly created position of parent liaison, and she took the job seriously. If she was going to be representing the parents of the hero course, then she was going to make their opinions heard, whether it was what the school wanted to hear or not. Principal Nedzu was having a hard time accepting the fact that he had miscalculated.

The thing that people often seemed to overlook was that Izuku hadn't gained his skills in a vacuum. Yes, he had a natural talent for observation and analysis. That was all him, and Inko would never be prouder of the fact that he had taken those skills and channeled them into something that he loved. Inko had raised Izuku though, and while her strengths would never be the same as her son's, she wasn't a slouch when it came to seeing the way certain moments and actions were connected.

The job offer had been a distraction. A way for Nedzu to take someone who was dead set on becoming a problem if necessary and turning that energy into something that was useful to him. He needed a way to get the media off of Yuuei's back for the attack, and he needed Inko where she couldn't cause more issues for him. He seemed to value Izuku's potential too much to do anything drastic, and so the job offer had materialized to solve all of his problems at once. Inko had been one hundred percent aware of that fact when she accepted it. Still, she hadn't hesitated to quit her office job and sign the new contract that Nedzu had offered her after carefully reading what her new job would entail. The raise in pay had been unexpected but appreciated, and with a contract signed and sealed, Nedzu was going to have a hard time getting rid of her when she was only doing the job she had been hired to do.

Overall, it had been a good idea. It might have worked exactly as planned had he tried it with anyone else. Midoriya Inko was not someone easily manipulated though, and Nedzu would have to come to terms with that fact sooner rather than later before the situation truly spiraled out of his control.

"I understand the parents' point of view, Midoriya-san," Nedzu was saying, as though he hadn't truly grasped the fact that he wasn't the one holding all of the cards anymore, "but what you are suggesting-"

Inko's answering smile was so reminiscent of her son's that Nedzu had to wonder if Aizawa hadn't been the inspiration for it as he had previously thought. "I am sorry if I wasn't clear, Nedzu-san. No part of this is a suggestion. The parents have met, and these are our conditions. You will either meet them, or you might was well declare Todoroki Shoto the winner of the Sports Festival, because the rest of the students will not be participating."

Nedzu leaned back in his chair, watching Inko carefully over his desk. The smile was still in place, but there was a glean in her eyes that was also familiar to Nedzu. Yes, he had miscalculated indeed. He tried again. "I understand the safety concerns, but the purpose of the Sports Festival-"

"Is to make Yuuei money," Inko interrupted again. "Yes, it is used to show off the students' abilities before their first internships. The school likes to focus on that part of the experience, and it's understandable why. It's for the students' future after all."

"It is for the students' future," Nedzu agreed, picking up his teacup.

"We are not discounting that. Yamada-sensei has explained the importance of the first year internships to me, but the conditions that I am presenting do not interfere with that. The bottom line is that the Sports Festival makes a lot of money for Yuuei. It did even before it replaced the Olympics in terms of viewership. Yuuei's official stance in the aftermath of the USJ incident has been doing what is best for the students. Well, now it's time to put your money where your mouth is, if you don't mind the saying. If you want to have the Sports Festival, the parents do not consent to having it televised. That will give unnecessary exposure to the students when you know those villains from the USJ are still out there. Why give them more information than they already have? Keep the competition a private school event. Simply adding extra security isn't enough."

Nedzu didn't speak, still watching her. Inko knew better than to take his silence for agreement, but she had one last point to make. If he still didn't agree after that, well, the parents were prepared to follow through with their threat, as much as their children would probably hate them for it.

"What are you going to do if this happens again?" Inko asked. "Izuku told me about that warp villain. Extra security isn't going to do anything to stop him, and having strangers on campus is a risk so soon after the attack. What is the public going to say if you hold the Sports Festival as usual and the information about the students revealed during the events is used against them in the future? The media will be more than happy to drag you over the coals for not having done more to stop it. Especially when an alternative was presented to you."

"And I supposed that the media will hear about this proposal as well?" Nedzu asked calmly.

"Not from me," Inko said. "You do have me under a confidentiality agreement, after all. But a lot of parents were consulted to form this plan, as was necessary under the guidelines you gave me, and I have no guarantee what they will do if their children are put in danger again."

Nedzu sighed. "Leave your files with me. We can schedule another meeting once I have had a chance to review the details."

"Of course," Inko stood, offering him another smile. "I'll be looking forward to your call."

When the door closed behind her, Nedzu set down his cup and flipped open the top file, the signatures of the parents Inko had spoken to standing out stark against the page. Yes, Nedzu had miscalculated, but he would not make the mistake of underestimating Midoriya Inko again.

It was Mei's turn to host their weekly movie marathon. Izuku could hear her in the workshop's kitchen, gathering the ridiculous amount of ice cream she had picked up for them. He and Denki sat side by side on the sofa, movie queued up and waiting, their shoulders pressed together. Movie nights weren't new to the three of them, but Izuku would be lying if he said that he didn't appreciate the chance to spend time with his friends in the wake of everything that had happened. To see them whole and safe within an arm's reach. They had never spoken about it, but it was clear that they all felt the same way. It was in the notebooks Mei had already filled with ideas for upgrades to their costumes and gear. The way that seemed to wander into their corridor of the school more than she had before. It was in the way they lingered to split up after school, gravitating towards each other the moment they stepped on campus. Even now, Izuku felt that he took far too much comfort in the fact that he could hear Mei humming from the other room and could feel Denki warm beside him. It was probably something he needed to bring up to his therapist, but it could wait.

There were still moments that he felt guilty for how everything had unfolded. Logically, Izuku knew that it wasn't his fault. None of them could have anticipated the attack, and they had all done everything they could to make it out of the situation alive and in one piece. But what if Izuku hadn't been so limited in that moment? His gear was still a work in progress, but he should have spent more time planning for potential problems and the tools he would need to counter them. If he had a quirk…No. Izuku refused to go down that train of thought. He had gotten into Yuuei on his own merits. He couldn't keep falling back to that same excuse.

Denki had gotten hurt because Izuku hadn't been enough. Izuku knew that he was fine now. He was sitting in beside him, playing a game on his phone while they waited for Mei. But it could have so easily have gone another way. He could have been sitting there alone, Denki gone, and there wouldn't have been anything he could have done to stop it. That thought seemed to hit him out of nowhere sometimes. The realization that he could have lost two people he cared about that day. He would be off doing something, memories of that day never truly forgotten, simply pushed to the corners of his focus, and then it would all come crashing in again. It was normal, his therapist had assured him, but Izuku still couldn't wait for the days when he wouldn't constantly be hit in the face with his mistakes.

He could barely see the scar on Denki's cheek in the low glow of the television. As if feeling Izuku's eyes on him, Denki locked his phone and looked up. The easy grin slipped off his face at Izuku's expression.

"Izuku?" He asked, shifting to face him. "What's wrong? And don't say 'nothing,' because that is your overthinking something face, and I will not believe you."

The humming in the kitchen had stopped, but Mei didn't appear. Izuku looked down, his hands fidgeting. "It really is nothing. Let's just watch the movie." He couldn't ruin movie night with his doubts. They all deserved a night to relax.

"Try again," Denki said, not letting him drop the subject. "Is it school? Aizawa?" Izuku shook his head. It wasn't technically either of those things, after all. "The Sports Festival or…" He trailed off, starting to raise a hand to his cheek before realizing what he was doing and cutting the motion in his face must have given him away, because Denki slung an arm over his shoulder and pulled Izuku closer.

"You can't blame yourself for what happened," he said, voice serious. Izuku was glad that he couldn't see his face at the moment. "We all made choices that day. It was my choice that led to me getting hurt, and I would do it again if I had to."

"You shouldn't have had to," Izuku said.

"You're right. None of us should have been in that situation, but you can't keep blaming yourself. You think I don't know how you feel?" Izuku felt Denki's brush against the scars dotting his throat. "I can't get the image out of my head, you know? Of when that villain grabbed the rod. That explosion could have killed you, man. And all I could do was watch."

"You were injured at the time."

"Doesn't matter," Denki said. "Would you have blamed me if it had been worse? Because I couldn't stop it?"

"Of course not!"

"Then stop blaming yourself for this. I'm fine. You're fine, and we're going to make sure nothing like this happens again. Okay?"

Izuku wanted to agree. To let the subject drop and enjoy their night, but there was one more thought still circling in his head refusing to give him peace. "I know it's not my fault, but before the attack…You know how Mei and I were involved in that villain attack at the mall right after we became friends?" Izuku felt more than saw Denki's nod. "I had just been thinking about how my friendship with her kind of skipped a few steps because we went through that together. I wanted us to be that close too and…"

The laughter shook him, startling him with how sudden it was. "That's what this is about? Izuku, we didn't need some villains to make us friends. We were already friends! You didn't will that attack into happening, or whatever your brain is trying to tell you. Are we going to bond over our shared trauma? Probably! But, dude, you and Mei are already the best friends I've ever had. And the three of us are going to be the best team Yuuei has ever seen. Okay?"

It felt as though a weight had lifted off his shoulders, and Izuku could only nod his agreement.

"Mei! You joining this group hug or what?" Denki called into the kitchen. "Did you get the coffee ice cream?"

"You can come get your own ice cream!" Mei answered, "But save room in that group hug for me!"

Izuku really did have the best friends. One day the world was going to know it too.