The kids had all went to bed.
Shouta found himself sitting at the kitchen bar with a cup of coffee at 2:36 in the morning, staring at nothing in particular. A temporary bliss from his usual hectic life schedule. It was boring; he needed 'boring' in his life more often.
Occasionally, his head would swivel towards the soft snores of his students, slumbering in the living room area, but aside from that, there was nothing more pressing that could hold his attention; so he spaced out—
Until he heard a door shut. It was soft, but in the silence of the apartment, it was loud enough to put him on high alert.
"Shouta?" Hizashi's soft call made the dark haired man relax a little.
"In the kitchen." He answered, letting out a breath he was unaware of holding.
The blond's hair was gathered in a neat ponytail, looking far better than earlier.
"I'm going out to that 24/7 pharmacy near your place to get Izuku some medicine. According to Recovery Girl, he was supposed to drink it every 4-6 hours until the fever breaks. Do you need me to get you anything?"
The underground hero looked at his nearly empty cup and answered. "4 jelly pouches; strawberry yogurt, if they have it."
The voice hero muttered about him and his obsession with the vitamin snacks, but agreed to get them for him after being stared down.
"Oh, do you mind keeping Izuku company while I'm out? He tends to get restless in bed without a cuddle pillow."
"I'm surprised he doesn't have one."
"Oh, he does, but it's currently in the laundry. Along with Bakugou's shirt. He kind of threw up on them."
Shouta gave the other man a disgruntled look before standing up and leaving his cup in the sink. "If he vomits on me, I'm burning your vinyl collection."
"Shouta, yes." The dark haired man glared. "Go, I'll take care of your problem child."
"Izu-kun is not a problem child, he's a sweet little angel." Hizashi muttered with a pout as he slid his jacket on.
"He fits the victim profile of a modern-day murderer, that makes it a problem—and he's a tiny little human, that makes him a child." The dark haired man smirked at his best friend as he walked him to the door. "You have your key?"
"Yeah. I'll see you in a bit~!"
Shouta stared at the Izuku as he tossed and turned in bed, feeling slightly apprehensive.
It wasn't like he had never cuddled before. His little tabby back home can attest to that; Missy loved her kitty cuddles.
The kid in bed whimpered, trembling and curling up, hands subconsciously looking for something to grab on to.
The teacher sighed after a brief look of consideration and sat down beside Izuku, carding his fingers into the child's green hair. "You're alright. He'll be back soon." he murmured audibly.
There was a breath of a whisper that made the man lean down to hear clearer.
It was slurred with sleep, though broken and soft, it was still coherent. They were the same three words over and over: "I'm sorry, mom."
With another sigh, Shouta rearranged the boy's position so that he could lay beside him and finally allow the cuddling to happen.
"Shh, Problem Child. You've done nothing wrong. Sleep easy now." The teacher murmured as he held the fevered boy close.
"—but, she left me..."
The dark haired man pulled away enough to peer down at the art student, finding hazy, but aware green eyes looking up at him. "She may have had her own reasons why she had done what she did, Izuku."
"She didn't like me anymore." The boy sounded so sure of it, it was heartbreaking. "I think she decided that she didn't want me after all when the doctor said I won't develop any quirks."
Shouta pulled the boy back into his embrace and continued to brush his green locks back from his fevered forehead in a soothing manner. "Yes, well—that may be so, but we'll never really know what was going on in her mind until we ask her ourselves." He let out another sigh, relaxing a little as he felt Izuku's trembling lessen from the contact.
They stayed that way for a while before Izuku asked another question in a soft voice.
"Aizawa-san, do you think she remembers me?"
"It's been 13 years, but I'm pretty sure she would never forget you." 'I'll even make sure that she remembers when we find her.' "I mean, who could forget such an eccentric looking rabbit?"
The greenette giggled childishly. "You're more eccentric than I am, Aizawa-san."
"Mm, no. I don't think so. I'm rather very normal."
"You drink coffee every time~"
"So does your ridiculous landlord."
"Yeah, but he doesn't drink coffee while he's in the toilet—"
"That was one time—"
"He told me you do that all the time."
"There's no evidence of that."
"You also sleep in a sleeping bag even though you're on a bed?"
"Okay, yeah, there's that—but that's more preference that eccentricity."
"Preference is what makes it eccentric though~"
Izuku let out another giggle as the dark haired man proceeded to poke his sides with the lack of convincing replies.
Settling down shortly after as not to exacerbate the kid's illness, Shouta's hand returned to the student's hair to continue his earlier ministration. The kid was all too happy to snuggle back into his embrace, making the underground hero smile a little. The kid's clinging made him recall the incident he had with the kid long ago.
Seeing a tiny kid in the middle of a large puddle of brownish black liquid was not something he was expecting to see after spending some time in the police station processing paperwork for the villain he caught—three hours after his supposed shift ended. The kid was wearing a red shirt that looked fairly brand new and a pair of pale colored shorts that was probably considered beige if it weren't for the amount of gunk clinging to the tiny being's clothing and legs.
At seven years old, Izuku Midoriya was still too small for his age. Even more so when he was stuck in knee-deep puddle of muck where a group of children, most likely his classmates, had left him without any means to get out of the disgusting mess.
"Are you alright?" The pro-hero asked as he walked nearer.
"I'm fine, thank you—" Even when tears have fallen from the young boy's face, he smiled at him hopefully. "I'm sorry to be a bother, but could you please help me out? I promise not to mess your clothes. I just don't want to fall over and make more mess. I don't want to make Yama-san sad."
"Is Yama-san your guardian?" Shouta asked, ignoring the child's panic as he submerged himself in the muck to get him. "We can talk to your teachers about this—you know that what they did to you was not right, don't you?"
"—b-b-but Keinichi-kun was just trying to be funny! He didn't mean it when he said he would hurt me if I didn't follow him. Please don't get him in trouble—"
The underground hero sighed, but took note of the school yard nearby. "Is that your school?"
"Y-yes. N-no, sir, your clothes!" The child exclaimed as he was picked up and held close by the hero.
"It's okay, kid. I was heading home anyway. I just finished patrol. It took a while to process the villain in the station."
"... is that why you're wearing goggles?" The hero nodded and asked where his house was. He wasn't going to allow the kid to continue the day with such a mess. 'He looked like he needed a day off anyway.'
Safe to say, after being pointed to his best friend's residence helped him connect the dots between the Present Mic's constant chatter about his little stray and the muddy kid he was carrying.
The walk wasn't far, but the gunk on their clothes felt like it added to the weight. The kid clung tight to him all the way like a little koala despite his earlier reservation about the hero's clothes.
"So, Hizashi Yamada is your guardian?" Shouta asked as they neared the building.
"He just lets me stay with him. I give him drawings. He likes it." The child answered.
"Ah, so he's more like your landlord then."
"What's a landlord?"
The erasure hero blinked when he heard the kid's stomach growl. Izuku giggled sheepishly.
"Hizashi went out to buy some more medicine. Would you like to try and eat something?"
"Mm... I think I still have some chicken noodle soup packets?"
"I think you do. If not, I can make one from scratch seeing as your kitchen is very well stocked."
"I don't look much, but I know my way around the kitchen."
"I mean, I don't want to be a bother. I can cook it myself—"
"Don't be silly, Problem Child. It's not like I'll let you."
"Listen, Izuku—" Shouta pulled away again to look at the child directly into his vibrant eyes. "For years, Hizashi and I have been trying to take care of you—and I can tell you that it's not nearly enough for us. I know you're scared that we might leave you like 'she' did, but we won't. We want to take care of you, and I can promise you that we won't leave you. I've grown far too fond of you to stay out of your life completely, and that giant cockatiel, too.
I know you've been very independent most of your life, but will you at least try to let us care for you every now and again?"
Izuku stared back with a small frown, but nodded anyway.
"Good. Now, I know for a certain fact that Hizashi has been meaning to ask you if you want to combine your apartment with his. He wanted to do that way back before, but he was afraid that you wouldn't like it."
"So that he could watch over you properly? Isn't that how guardianship works?"
"...but I don't have a guardian?"
Shouta rolled his eyes at the teen before he gently extracted himself from the bed. "Ugh, you know what? I'll get started on that chicken noodle soup. Stay here and try to get some more sleep. I'll wake you when it's done."
Too much sleep, no warmth, blanket too thick, too much silence, not enough darkness, too achey, too weak, too weak...
It didn't take long for Izuku to disregard the older man's last command.
It was too lonely, too cold, too lonely...
Pretty soon his sock-clad feet were travelling against the chilled wooden floor towards the dimly lit living room area where 2 U.A. students were sprawled in their respective sofas.
Hitoshi's foot managed to have wormed out of his blanket and over the furniture's backrest, while the blond hero student had his back to them.
He could hear the soft noises in the kitchen where Mr. Aizawa proceeded to cook food.
Izuku then decided to leave the two to sleep and continued on to the kitchen area, sitting down on one of the seats at the bar. He watched the dark haired man silently, placing his head on top of his arms on the surface.
If the teacher was surprised at his appearance, he didn't show any signs of it.
Though, Izuku was fairly startled to find Hitoshi in the seat beside his, mirroring his posture.
"You guys are a bunch of weirdos, you know that right?" Katsuki's sleep-roughened growl could be heard as he proceeded to take the seat next to the green-haired artist's other side. "Are you seriously cooking at this hour, sensei?"
"Shush, Bakugou, I made enough for all of us. We missed dinner after all." The dark haired man resolutely kept his back to the three boys as he worked on their food.
"How're you doin', Izu?" Hitoshi blinked sleepily after yawning a little.
"...feel tired." The greenette answered, trying and failing to restrain his own yawn.
"Tch, obviously, you damn nerd, you're still sick." Katsuki butted-in after checking the boy's temperature using his hand at the back of Izuku's neck. "Didn't the medicine work?"
"Unfortunately, no one had the means to realize that it had to be taken continuously—until Hizashi called Recovery Girl, that is." Aizawa added the chopped scallions to the pot of soup and called for Shinsou to set the table.
Izuku followed the violet haired teen waiting to assist the tired hero intern.
They all proceeded to gather at the table to eat when the rain started pouring outside.
"Ah... I forgot to tell Yamada-san about the heating." The green haired artist muttered distractedly before thanking the teacher for handing him the bowl of soup.
"The heating?" Aizawa repeated as he gave his students their own bowls.
"I think it's broken?" Izuku answered after swallowing a spoonful. "It stopped working last Thursday—it hadn't really been a problem since I have a thick blanket that I can use in the linen closet, but—" he glanced at the other 2 students and their teacher.
Understanding what the boy was trying to convey, he nodded. "We can push the 2 sofas together. It'll be big enough to accommodated all three of you—" Aizawa started.
"—or we can just use the floor? I saw some rolled up futons in the closet down the hall next to bathroom, we can just use that." Hitoshi suggested.
The homeroom teacher nodded, quickly finishing his own bowl so that he could set their sleeping space.
"Hey, nerd, is your thick blanket big enough for 4 people?" Katsuki asked as he swirled the contents of his own bowl.
"I think so? You guys can use it if you want? I can just combined the other blankets for another."
"Shut up! You're tiny, we'll all fit anyway."
"I am not! Toshi, I'm not tiny, right?" Izuku turned to the violet haired boy who finished his bowl of soup.
"I'm going go help, Aizawa-sensei." Hitoshi announced before zooming out of the kitchen area.
"Hah! Coward!" Katsuki laughed.
"You're a mean hero,—uh... Oh, you never told me your name." The greenette realized.
"I mean, you know mine, so wouldn't it be fair to let me know yours?"
"I'm not known to play fair."
Izuku pouted. "I heard Aizawa-san call you Bakugou though, so I guess I'll call you that."
"Whatever. You done with your soup?"
The art student turned back to his bowl in a daze and finished it with careful sips.
"Finally! Give me your fucking bowl, I'll do the dishes." The art student blinked when his bowl disappeared from the table, but continued to stare at the space while listening to the other boy curse the dishes he was washing.
Aizawa held back a chuckle at the lost look the greenette sported. The kid had his hands beneath his thighs—he realized that it was an effort to keep them warm when Izuku shivered.
"Come on, Izuku. Back to bed. You'll be between me and Bakugou, Hitoshi already claimed the other end."
"WHAT? NO WAY, I'M SLEEPING ON THE COUCH!" Katsuki raged as he put away the last dried dish.
"Your quirk allows you to have a higher body temperature than normal, it will help keep the problem child warm—but if you'd rather he freeze, that's fine."
The explosive teen was quiet for a moment before he snarled promises of bodily harm if anyone ever even thought to cuddle with him before he stomped off to the living room area.
The homeroom teacher led the sick boy to the futons where Shinsou was already snoring softly. He took the time tucking the purple haired teen properly before quickly moving to the other end, holding the greenette before he could dive next to Bakugou, who was stretched out next to the sleeping brainwasher.
"Bakugou, have you brushed your teeth?"
Red eyes glared at the dark haired man before the teen sat up and hurried towards the bathroom with his bag. He was followed by Izuku who was being ushered by the U.A. teacher to do the same.
"Just because you're sick doesn't mean you're excused from dental hygiene." Aizawa muttered as he took Izuku's toothbrush and applied an amount of toothpaste on it before handing it to the sleepy teen. "Brush properly, n—Bakugou, stop cursing the bacteria."
"Zombie-face didn't brush his teeth." The blond grumbled after being chided.
"He did. I made his brush while I was setting up the futons." The teacher sighed as he waited for them to finish and led both back to the living room area.
Hizashi came back to the apartment to find his friend glaring at him.
"Shouta?" The voice hero barely kept his laughter in check.
"Not another word." the other growled lowly.
Somehow, in a short span of minutes that the kids fell back asleep, they all managed to crowd the dark haired man in a cuddling fest.
Heck, even Bakugou was participating in his unconscious state.
Shinsou ended up clinging to his teacher's hand and the explosive blond's back, while Izuku was pressed snugly against Shouta's right side, and Bakugou completing the body trap by being nestled on the man's left. Both boys on either side had their arms around the hero's torso.
"Honestly, Shou, I don't know whether I'd be jealous or not." The radio host grinned.
To be continued...