As she blearily comes to, Ochako realizes she isn't in the classroom. And her head really hurts.
"Toshinori, what do you think you're doing?! She may now have One for All, but you're pushing her too hard!"
"What do you mean, 'what?' Just look at her! Besides that nasty head injury, she's clearly breaking down!"
"But I carefully monitored her condition and accounted for everything. . .unless. . ."
The hushed voices, intended to avoid disturbing her, only serve to worsen her headache. She manages to slowly sit up, drawing the attention of both All Might and Recovery Girl.
"I've fixed you up as best I could, but head injuries are scary stuff," Recovery Girl explains. "I've contacted your parents, and I've also got a hospital appointment ready for you to take a better look. Mister Aizawa will take you there when you're ready."
"Thank you," Ochako says groggily. "I couldn't help but hear some of your argument earlier. It's not All Might's fault. I wanted to train harder, but he told me that it was too risky. But I didn't listen."
"No, I should have done more." All Might sits on the bed, facing away from her. "You've been throwing everything you've got into training. Both to succeed Midoriya, but also to forget him."
"I know. Me neither. What I mean is that you're trying to distract yourself from the pain."
"I just—It's. . ." Ochako can't find the words, suddenly finding herself on the brink of tears.
In a sudden move, All Might engulfs her in a surprisingly gentle embrace. "You've been strong. It's okay."
For what feels like the first time in forever, Ochako lets herself to cry.
After what seems like an eternity, the doctor finally returns to the examination room, with Aizawa and Ochako's parents in tow. As the doctor sets up the scans and settles in, Ochako quickly exchanges quiet greetings with her parents, who look almost sick with worry. Even Aizawa looks slightly concerned, a rather stark difference from his usual cool demeanor.
"Miss Uraraka," the doctor begins as he consults the examination results, "luckily your injury isn't too serious. You have a mild concussion, and your body is being overworked. You may feel some discomfort in the next few days, so I recommend you take school off and rest. Come back in a week and we can re-evaluate your status. Do you have any questions?"
"Yes, sir. What kinds of activity would I be allowed to do?" Ochako asks.
"Ideally, you'd avoid both general physical exertion and mental activities. These can trigger your symptoms and make your condition worse."
"I see," Ochako sullenly says.
"If that's all, I'll be on my way. You all have a nice day."
"Uraraka, because of your concussion, I won't be sending a classmate to bring you your schoolwork," Aizawa explains as he takes her aside. "Don't push yourself beyond your limits. Do you remember the first day of class?"
"I thought you were awful," Ochako recalls, only partially joking.
"Can't say I blame you. But when Midoriya went to throw the ball, I briefly erased his quirk. He was going to use his full power to hurl that ball as far as he could, but at what cost? He defied my expectations, though, when he channeled his quirk through a single fingertip."
Aizawa scratches his head uncomfortably. "I guess what I'm trying to say is. . .know your limits. Even though everyone at school is always talking about 'going beyond,' there's something to be said about knowing when you're out of your depth. Take care."
Aizawa saunters away, leaving Ochako to ponder his words as her parents fuss about her.
Ochako's not sure what will drive her mad first: her frustration, both with her weakness and her foolhardiness, or the sheer boredom. Unable to do most of her usual activities, she spends her days listlessly sitting around, just waiting for time to pass.
Thankfully, her parents are considerate enough to let her be, aware of her inner turmoil. Perhaps she has the doctor's orders to thank for that. She's not sure if she can handle either idle chatter or heartfelt discussion at this time.
The day before her follow up, there is unexpected knocking at the front door. Her mother hurries to answer, and the voice to drifts in from the threshold is immediately recognizable as All Might's when he's not in his hero form.
"Hello, ma'am. Are you Uraraka's mother? I'm one of her teachers, Toshinori Yagi."
"Oh, hello. May I ask what the occasion is for this home visit?"
"I'd like to speak with Uraraka."
"Let me see if she's feeling well."
Before her mother can come fetch her, Ochako has already joined her in the doorway.
"Mister Yagi," Ochako says in a carefully measured tone.
"Uraraka, it's good to see you."
"Likewise," she politely reciprocates.
"Ochako, dear, are you feeling well enough to talk?" her mother worries, still cognizant of Ochako's recent concussion.
"I'll be fine, mom."
"Yagi, why don't you come inside to speak? Let me get you something to drink." Her mother immediately shifts into being a proper host.
"I appreciate the offer, but I'll be fine. Uraraka, would you walk with me for a bit?" All Might asks, clearly wanting to speak away from any curious ears.
"Yes, sir," Ochako agrees. "Don't worry, mom. I'm feeling fine enough to walk a bit. I could use the exercise and fresh air, anyways."
"Be careful, honey."
After a short walk, the pair end up at a nearby park and take a seat on a bench.
"Are you feeling okay?" All Might asks.
"Yeah. I felt a bit dizzy the day of the injury, but otherwise I've had no other problems."
All Might shifts, his mouth ajar as he struggles to turns his thoughts into words. "Look," he finally sighs. "I know it's hard. Believe me. As a pro, I've seen far more than I ever wanted to. But you can't let loss define you."
"Does. . .does it get any easier?" Ochako asks plaintively.
"No. But that's good, in a way. It means you haven't lost touch with your humanity."
Ochako hums, too deep in thought to properly reply. Could she really be the symbol of peace? Does she have what it takes to keep on smiling, no matter what? She lacks Izuku's conviction, Bakugo's drive, Todoroki's talent. . .all around her are people far more suited to the role of hero than she. Even Tenya, misguided and lost as his heart may have been, had not let his brother's paralysis leave him crippled with fear and doubt. Perhaps she had let Izuku's final gesture delude her into thinking that maybe she could do this.
"All Might, am I able to pass on One for All?"
"I'm not fit to be the symbol of peace, let alone a hero. I lack the ideals, the strength, to do this," Ochako admits in defeat. "The only reason I'm here is because Izuku had no other choice."
"You do yourself a disservice. Don't you remember your bout with young Bakugo during the sports festival? Even that hothead had to acknowledge your strength and force of will. Give yourself time. And please, don't bottle everything up. Being the symbol of peace doesn't mean you can't accept help from those close to you."
"I. . .I'll try," Ochako says, unsure if her self-doubt has been assuaged.
"That's all I can ask of you."
As they sit together in silence, All Might suddenly starts, as if he wants to say something.
"Uraraka, if I may. . ." he trails off, still hesitant.
"What is it?"
". . .Why don't you speak with Midoriya's mother?"