"But we did it. It was a success," Shouto assured you softly. "The citizens are safe. The villain was caught. We're here, safe, alive."

You shake your head, your shoulders even more tense. "You're not understanding me. I thought - I thought you were going to die, Shouto."

Shouto eyes widen and suddenly, it all makes sense. The reason you're acting angry and distant. Why you're trying to escape to your room, so you wouldn't have to talk about this now. You were doing the same thing he did when his father took his mother away from him all those years ago.

He feels like an idiot for not realizing it sooner. He is an idiot.

He had scared you - no - scarred you.

From the start, the mission wasn't difficult. You and Shouto had been on patrol during your internships until you were both called to the downtown area. It was the standard "evacuate building during a villain attack", and you were preoccupied with helping citizens get to safety. The building was almost completely destroyed, the structure threatening to fall with a gust of wind. Your area was on the verge of collapsing, but you refused to listen to his warning. you went for the last civilian, a sobbing toddler who lost their parent during the attack. He was trapped in a cavern and you made your way into the tight space towards him. Quickly calming the boy down, you handed the boy over to him with the help of your quirk.

Of course, nothing had to be easy. As he made sure the boy was safe, the building creaked and snap at the unbalanced weight. Shouto's eyes widened, turning to meet yours. Even from this distance, he could see they were filled with fear.

It's a blur after that. He knew using his quirk was dangerous considering the terrain, but it was a split second decision. He had two options: Watch and let the building crumble or to try and protect you. He didn't need to think twice. Before he knew it, he was at your side, throwing himself over you. The building collapsed and Shouto threw his right arm out. He heard his ice break as he felt ice shards sprinkle him before he felt the blinding pain on his leg. Then darkness.

You felt his eyes burn into your skull as you continue, "You don't know what it was like for me after the mission," You let out a shaky breath, your hands balling into fists. "When the ice you used to block the debris broke, the chunk of metal pierced through your leg. Straight through." Cold washed over you when you heard a loud crash and a sickening squelch. You shivered at the memory.

"Then you blacked out and there was blood. So much-" The crimson liquid was almost blinding the way it glittered mockingly against the ice. You almost gag, wanting to vomit.

"I barely had enough sense to drag you out of there. It felt forever when we cleared the building, and an ambulance was waiting nearby. They took you to the nearest hospital and brought you to the emergency room." Doctors ran left and right. You stood there in a daze, unsure of what else to do. You were a hero - well, a hero-in-training- but you were supposed to help!

"All I could do was watch as doctors worked to stop the bleeding. It wasn't until Recovery Girl arrived shortly that things almost calmed down, but even then it wasn't over." Though the short, old woman arrived, she didn't even look at Shouto. You almost screamed at the woman to heal him but you refrained. "Recovery Girl's Quirk allowed a person to heal at the cost of their stamina, so the doctors needed to make sure you were stable enough before she could even touch you."

"After that, even when they told me that there was nothing else I could do, I stayed. I stayed and waited." You feel your eyes water, remembering the despair that made your chest constrict. You move your fist to clutch your heart. "I ... I couldn't go back to Yuuei, knowing that you were in that ER fighting for your life." You let out a dry chuckle, letting your tears run down your face. "Funny, the one time you actually needed my help, and I couldn't even do anything."

You sniffle, and it's enough to remind Shouto to breath.

"Then I got mad. Mad that I couldn't get myself out of there. If I was stronger, you wouldn't have gotten hurt. And I kept wondering-" You meet his eyes, and he finally gets a good look at you. Your nose red, and your eyes, now puffy, have bags under them with dark shadows. When was the last time you slept?

You had changed into a clean pair of clothes, but there's dust and dried blood in small places. Behind your ears, under your nails. Despite coming back from a successful mission, you look... defeated. You hug yourself, and all Shouto wants to do is wrap his arms around you and protect you from the world. Your voice cracks, along with Shouto's heart. "Why? Why would you risk your life to protect me?"

You enter your room before locking it behind you, leaving Shouto in the empty corridor. His body is numb. All of him feels numb. You were angry that he was willing to throw away his life to keep you safe?

'Why?' Why wouldn't he?

"Why? Why would you risk your life just to protect me?"

The question is meant to be rhetorical, to be left unanswered. But as Shouto stands in front of your door for what feels like minutes, he knows he has never spoken more clearly in his life.

"Because I love you."

There's a click and your door opens.

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