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A wallflower's thorns

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Izuku is a plain looking kid. Everyone could decide that by looking at him - if they ever even noticed him. A lot of people just write him off, a Quirkless kid doesn't take much effort to slip under their radar. Izuku could walk through a crowd and no one would look his way, not even once. Because in a world where the impossible was possible and heroes walk amongst them, Izuku was amazingly, painfully normal.

Izuku himself believed that he never had a Quirk for the longest time, but some things just didn't add up. Yes, people would ignore him, they've done it for so long that Izuku began to know the signs by heart. Yet, unless he actively made his presence known, no one showed those telltale signs. It was like he didnt exist to them.

It all clicked one day at the market. He'd been with his mom, grabbing groceries for the week. He peeked from the isle when he heard a commotion.

A man was at the counter, he had a gun. "Look, lady." The man growled, "I don't want no trouble, just give me all you have in that register and I won't shoot."

Izuku jolted when he realized it was a robbery. His shoulder knocked into a jar to jelly, it fell to the floor with a loud crash. The robber's head jerked to the sound, but his eyes never registered Izuku, not even once.

The revelation struck him with the force of a truck. This man heard the jar break, he saw the broken glass, but he didn't see Izuku. His hands were shaking, but this wasn't the time for fear. The robber still had the gun on the cashier - a nice looking lady with glasses. Deciding to test his theory a bit further, Izuku grabbed another jar behind him and tossed it to the other end of the store. It collided with the soup display. Dozens of cans crashed to the floor. The robber jumped at the noise, a shot rang out.

Dust crashed down from the ceiling as a bullet embedded itself into the tiles. Izuku had rushed forward, pushing the man's hand away from the cashier. He put so much force into it, the gun had clattered out of the man's hand and onto the floor. He stared at the weapon, unsure of what he should do next. He didn't have the time to, because the robber grabbed him by the back of the neck.

"Where the hell did you come from?!" The robber sounded about as panicked as Izuku felt. "Huh, punk?! Where!?"

Policemen burst through the front door, their guns drawn on the man. "Police! Hands up in the air!." They didn't mention Izuku. Didn't even notice him. He freed himself from the man's grip and rushed back to his mom, who'd been ushered outside by some other officers.

"No, you don't understand!" She cried, clutching an officer's sleeve. "My son- he's still in there! You have to let me through!"

"Ma'am," The officer said, "You have to remain calm."

Izuku walked right past him, sliding under the tape and running to his mom. "Mama!"

His mom's eyes widened, she let go of the cop's sleeve and dropped to her knees. "Izuku!" He threw himself into her arms. "Oh, my baby boy, where did you go?"

He looked into his mom's eyes. "Mom," He said, wonder replacing any of the fear he'd felt moments ago. "I think I have a Quirk."


-----


Izuku had dubbed his Quirk "notice-me-not". It'd made sense in his head, nobody knew he was there until he said something or made contact with someone. It seemed that it didn't really effect his mom much - Izuku wondered about that. It could have been due to extended contact, or their blood relation. Either way, his mom knew he was there whenever he walked into a room, everyone else didn't.

It wasn't a flashy Quirk, or a particularly strong one, but at the age of ten, Izuku had a lot of creativity at his disposal. He tested his limits. He could go an entire day with no one even looking at him, it was like he was invisible. As a kid with a history of bullies, his Quirk might as well have been a blessing.

He always knew if the teacher was planning a pop Quiz. He knew everyone's birthday (and that they never even considered inviting him to their parties). He knew almost every detail of his classmates, all from being a fly on the wall.

Another thing he noticed about his Quirk was that if he interacted with a object, say, tipping his pencil over, people would notice the fallen pencil, but not him. The benefits of that in heroism were great. He didn't have the power to be an all offensive-type hero, like All Might, but he did have potential as some kind of reconnaissance hero. He could gather information on criminals just by walking past them. People, Izuku found, were a lot more loose lipped when they thought no one else was listening.

Another thing was that though people didn't notice him, animals did. Maybe something about him was calming to them, but animals just seemed to flock to him. He tried testing it at an adoption shelter once. He went to the shyest cats - the ones that never came close, just stared at people with narrow, untrusting eyes.

He came face to face with a middle aged tomcat - one that was missing an ear and a good chunk of the fur on his face. The feline hissed at Izuku at first when he poked a finger through the bars of the cage. Izuku retracted the digit. "Hey, it's okay." He said, keeping his voice as soft as he could manage. He read the information listed at the top of the cage. "People can be really man, can't they?" He asked, "They always make fun of me, but I think you got it a lot worse."

The cat's single ear flicked in interest. And while it didn't stop growling, it did lighten up a little.

"The paper says you're name is Uno," Izuku put his finger back in the cage, a silent offer. "I think that's a bit too cruel, how about Han, instead?" Which was also a bit cruel, since Izuku got the name from Han Solo. But it was better than nothing. Izuku felt a surge of achievement when Uno - now dubbed Han in Izuku's mind - crept forward to hesitantly bump Izuku's finger with his head.

It felt a lot like victory.

He reached for his phone, he had a feeling mom would like a heads up to a new addition to the family.


-----


After getting Han situated in the house, time seemed to blur. Izuku managed to pass through school with little disturbance. It was hard for bullies to cause trouble when they couldn't find him, and Izuku had become an expert of hiding in plain sight.

Sitting at the desk in his room, Izuku pushed Han away from his math homework. Underneath all that hissing and growling was a pretty cuddly cat. Who knew. Han didn't initially like being denied his favorite spot, but did eventually settle and drape himself over Izuku's neck like a scarf.

Izuku could feel Han's purr through the vertebrae of his neck. It made him loosen up as he finished his homework. After a stressful day, he could always rely on the cat for relaxation. Which was something he was in dire need of lately.

Izuku stared at the slip of paper in front of him. The teacher had handed these out, asking for everyone to put their high school of choice and turn them in tomorrow. Everyone and their mother in his class was going to put down some sort of hero school, but only Bakugou would put down UA. Maybe because no one else had any faith in their abilities, or that the blond had terrified everyone out of choosing it.

But Izuku hadn't been scared of Bakugou since he'd learned how to use notice-me-not. He pencilled down his school of choice with bold letters, here's hoping that Bakugou didn't kill him for it.


-----


In the end, Bakugou didn't kill him, but Izuku almost wished he did.

The day had started like it always did: Izuku walked into class, no one even looked his way. The teacher called role - one of the few times in the day that anyone noticed him. Math class started, not one of Izuku's favorite classes, but not every period of the day could be dedicated to doodling. All in all, it seemed like it'd be any other day, but then everyone had to hand in their high school application forms.

Izuku had tuned them all out, instead doodling a group of his classmates throwing paper at each other. His drawing skills had gotten a lot better since he started using people as references. He'd been busy doodling the crinkles in the ball of paper when the teacher's voice snapped him out of it.

"Midoriya, you wrote down that you were planning on attending UA too, right?"

Like that, everyone was suddenly aware that Izuku was sitting at the very back of the class. He could see Bakugou fuming in his desk and had already braced himself for the oncoming shit-show.

As the blonde kicked down his desk and stalked towards Izuku, the green haired teen wished Han was with him. The grumpy tomcat - for all of his hissing and growling - was rather protective. Bakugou never did try to test his Quirk on animals, and Han could be _scrappy._ Izuku managed to keep from flinching when the blond slammed a hand on the desktop, but couldnt find it in himself to look up. It was best to treat Bakugou like an aggressive dog, making eye contact would only make it worse.

"You think you can enter the hero course, eh, Deku?" The blond growled. Izuku stood his ground by, ironically, still sitting in his seat. "Look at me when I'm speaking, you fucking coward."

Bakugou actually had a point on that one. Izuku had spent every moment since learning of his Quirk hiding from the people that caused him trouble. Dull clothes and a hushed voice did wonders for going days unnoticed by the bullies. Izuku was a coward, because he was too scared of people to let them know he was there. Maybe one day he'd get there, be unafraid and announce that he existed. Maybe one day he'd even stand up to Bakugou.

That day wasn't today. Izuku kept his eyes glued to the doodle of All Might he'd put on the desktop months ago. He'd meant for it to help him rack up enough courage to answer a question, but it served as a great way to anchor himself in the sea of rage that was Bakugou. The teacher had to draw the line at physical harm...right?

Mercy seemed to smile on him that day, because the bell ringed before the blond could get any angrier - though Izuku wasn't sure if that was possible. Bakugou still had to grab his backpack, which he'd left at his overturned desk. In the time he took to grab it, Izuku could activate notice-me-not and get out of there-

Aaaand one of the other bullied brought the bag with him. Great. Just...great. Izuku had three choices : run and jump through the window, somehow shove his way through the steadily crowing crowd of bullies, or hunker down and take it. Number one would most certainly result in a broken bone, number two would get him punched, and number three - while unpleasant - had the least likely chance of bodily harm.

It was going to be one of those days, wasn't it. Still, even with the looming threat of the bullies, Izuku kept his eyes forward. He could get through this. He could, he just had to hold on.

"You really still think you can be a hero, Deku?" Bakugou asked, though it was more rhetorical than an actual question. If Izuku answered, the blond would get angrier, if he didn't, the blond would still get angry. There was no winning when it came to Bakugou. "You're just a Quirkless loser, you'd die in the exams."

Izuku had never bothered telling the class about notice-me-not. Partly because they wouldn't believe him, but mainly because telling them about it would reduce it's effect drastically. So he'd let everyone assume he was Quirkless, it made it easier to fade into the background when no one gave him the time of day.

When Izuku didn't reply, Bakugou's palms began to spark. "Fucking answer me, Deku." The blond threatened.

Izuku looked up, but he focused on Bakugou's nose instead of his eyes. "Why? You're going to get mad no matter what I say." Shit, he hadn't meant to say that.

Bakugou kicked Izuku's desk over. Izuku clutched at his notebook a bit tighter. "What was that, you fucknugget?"

Fucknugget? Bakugou was getting pretty creative. "Nothing." The pit in Izuku's stomach widened into a void when the blond snatched his notebook out of his hands.

"And what the fuck is this? One of your dumbass hero books?"

"It's for school." Izuku tried to explain, but petered off when Bakugou exploded the cover and tossed it out the open window.

"If you want be a hero so bad," Bakugou sneered, grabbing Izuku's shirt and drawing him dangerously close. The hem of his shirt began to smoke. "Here's a suggestion on how to get a Quirk: take a swan dive off the roof and pray you'll have one in the next life." Satisfied, the blond dropped Izuku back into his seat.

Izuku shriveled under the jeers the other bullies began to throw at him. He held his breath until the last one left the room. Izuku had always preferred it when he was alone, no risk of anyone noticing him - as improbable as it was. He waited until he could hear the front door to the school open before standing up on shaking legs.

His notebook was in the koi pond, one that he often hanged out around when finishing up homework. The koi were nibbling at the soggy cover of the paper, and scattered when Izuku reached in to take it out. Just his luck, Izuku had his math notes in there. With a sigh, Izuku clutched the notebook to his chest and began to journey home.

"Here's hoping the day doesn't get any worse." He muttered, right before going through the usual tunnel.


-----


It was official, the universe hated Izuku, with a passion. He decided this as he walked home from one the the craziest and most depressing days of his life. He got his notebook ruined, ran into his idol, discovered said idol is apparently a skeleton in reality, and had his dreams shot down. Maybe they all had a point, what can a hero do to help when all he can do is go unnoticed? He really was useless.

There was the sound of explosions a block away, the vibrations shook the ground. His first instinct was to go and look, do analysis like he always had. The option was torn from him when he heard some of the things the onlookers were saying.

"Man, that kid has some Quirk..."

"Yeah, but isn't he just a student?"

"None of the heroes are helping him..."

Goddamnit. Izuku swallowed and turned the block. His brain shorted out when he spotted Bakugou struggling in the slime that he himself had barely escaped. Several things were on fire, but the blond's rage was a blaze that made Izuku take a step back. For a brief moment, Bakugou's mouth was free, he spent the moment gasping for a precious lungful of oxygen. The villain was trying to smother him, like it had tried with Izuku.

Heroes were standing to the side, keeping civilians a safe distance away and putting out fires, but not helping Bakugou. The human body could go about three minutes without air before passing out, up to seven minutes would be when brain damage started to set in, and ten meant full brain death. Bakugou was exerting himself trying to get out, that shortened his timeframe drastically. Someone had to act. 

The heroes didn't try to stop him as he broke ranks from the crowd, they only noticed him once he was three quarters to the villain.

"Where did he come from?!"

"Kid, don't! You'll get killed!"

Izuku couldnt do anything to the slime, but parts of the villain were solid. Slipping off his backback, he spun and threw it - a Hail Mary, one that he prayed would work. Wonder of wonders, the bag collided with the villain's eye, making him startle and release his hold on Bakugou's mouth.

Everything after that came as a blur of adrenaline and half formed memories. He'd tried to dig Bakugou out, that much Izuku could remember, but he'd ended up failing at that. It was only by some sick coincidence that All Might had also been in the crowd and stepped in. The heroes were praising Bakugou now, crowding him and complimenting his Quirk. A few of the heroes, namely Kamui Woods and Deathgoro, had tried to find Izuku and chew him out for "reckless behavior", but he was already gone, slipping away with the help of both notice-me-not and the crowd of onlookers.

He was almost home and his hands still hadn't stopped shaking. "Great job, Izuku." He muttered to himself, "Why not risk your life for Bakugou, that's a great idea." Even as the words came out of his mouth, he knew that he didn't mean them. Bully he may have been, but Bakugou didn't deserve to die.

There was the sound of incoming feet, then a cloud of dust as a figure ran out from one of the other streets. It was All Might. The hero had been in the middle of saying "I am here!" When he poofed into his skeleton form and coughed out another mouthful of blood.

Izuku remembered seeing the hero doing this earlier, but still found himself worrying. "Are you okay?" He asked, taking a step forward but refraining from making physical contact.

All Might wiped the blood off with a hand. "Yes, I'm fine, my boy." He put his hands on his hips. "That's some Quirk you've got there, kid, I didn't even notice you were gone until Kamui Woods mentioned it to me."

"Ah, well..." Izuku scratched his head. No one had complimented his Quirk before. Ever. "That's the perk of it, I guess." The silence that followed after that was painful for both of them. "Uh, is there any reason you followed me?" Another question he could've asked was how the hero did that. The only person that could notice him from the get-go was his mom.

"You're probably expecting me to lecture you about being reckless." All Might began, "But that isn't the case. I'd like to thank you, my boy. You rushed in to help, and in doing so, inspired me to as well."

"But, All Might, I didnt think about any of that. I just...moved."

"There are a lot of stories about the origins of heroes," All Might said, "but they always say that their body moved without thinking. I didn't follow you just to thank you, I came to tell you that I was wrong - you have the potential to become a hero, a great one."

The words threw Izuku for a loop, if he wasn't so busy trying to process it, then maybe he would have began to cry.

"And that is why I have chosen you to inherit my power, should you accept it."

What.

Chapter Text


If you ever ask Izuku what hell is, he'll say the beach.

Not the beach that everyone thinks of - with pure sand and waves lapping gently at the shores. No, his beach has towering piles of junk, the stench of rotting wood, and the overhanging threat of tetanus pretty much everywhere.

All Might had told him that cleaning up the beach was excellent training for One for All, and Izuku did notice that he was gaining muscle mass, but that didn't stop him from hating that strip of sand with every ounce of his being.

If there's one benefit to any of it, Izuku decides that it's the seagulls. A lot of them lost their homes when trash started to wash up on the shores, and Izuku feels no small amount of triumph when he sees the birds exploring the few clean patches of sand he had created.

It's a weekend today, meaning that Izuku arrives at the beach at seven in the morning. He stretches for ten minutes and gets to work. He starts with a fridge he'd been in the middle of moving the day before. The junk is twenty feet from it's original position, but Izuku still needs to move it a hundred more. He's at the ten foot marker when he spots a familiar head of blond hair.

"All Might!" Izuku says, stopping his progress and standing straight. "What are you doing here so early?"

All Might blinks, the effect of notice-me-not dissolving. "Ah, there you are." He says, waving as he comes closer. "I could ask you the same thing, my boy, don't you have friends to hang out with?"

"Well..." Izuku begins, drawing the word out as he avoids eye contact. "I don't really have many of those - I don't have any, actually."

The silence that comes from the hero makes Izuku want to dig a hole and hide in it. "And why's that?"

Izuku wants to gesture to himself and demand "Have you seen me?" But at this point he just wants to drop the matter. "I never really clicked with any of them, I guess." Not a lie, but not the truth.

All Might hums, "Well, you're not alone. Back in my school days it took me a while to find friends."

"But you're..." Izuku struggles to find a fitting word, "you!"

At that, All Might barks out a laugh. "I wasn't number one hero from the start, my boy. I had my share of screw-ups and mishaps." He leans in close, like he's about to share a secret, "To be honest, I never made any real friends until high school - but the ones I made are still my friends to this day." He pats Izuku's shoulder, Izuku stomps on the urge to leap three feet in the air. "You'll find your group, my boy, just give it a bit more time."

Izuku doubts it. He can't even muster a hello to his teacher on good days, how was he supposed to make any friends like that? He's awkward, he's shy, he never says anything. He was going to be the outcast the rest of his life. He doesn't say this aloud, he just smiles and nods like he agrees.

He spends a solid five hours on the beach today, and he makes pretty good progress, too. The fridge is moved, so are a few old couches whose wood is already halfway rotten. A new path of sand is visible, at least twenty by twenty feet. Izuku feels pretty proud of himself every time he looks at it.

All Might claps his hands when Izuku finishes moving the last piece of furniture. "Good job, my boy. That's it for today."

Izuku wants to protest - he can keep this up for at least another hour - but a stern look from the hero is all it takes for him to give in. "Yes, sir."

"None of that 'sir' crap, my boy. Now come on, you haven't eaten lunch yet."


-----


Months go by like this, and all Izuku had to say about those months is thank god for Han. The cat serves as an excellent heating pad when his muscles ache too much to move. He's been following All Might's work out plan to the tee, and a bit more than that.

Which was probably why he was now having an intimate encounter with the ground. He was following All Might (who was on a Segway, for some reason) when his legs gave out on him and he got a mouthful of dirt. Even though his face is starting to sting, Izuku finds relief in the unplanned break from the training.

"Hey, get up, my boy." All Might says, turning around and rolling back to where Izuku lays. "That workout plan was specifically made for you, if you're this burned out...you've been overdoing it, haven't you?" It's more an accusation than a question. "Kid, if you push yourself too hard then you won't make any progress."

Izuku can feel the shame boiling at the back of his throat. "I-" his voice gives out and frustration overcomes exhaustion. "I can't...relax. Everyone applying to Yuuei's got an amazing Quirk they can use, and I- I only use mine to hide from my classmates." He forces himself to look up, straight into All Might's eyes. "I can't let myself fall behind. So, I have to work harder than everyone else!" Maybe then Izuku can convince himself to stop using notice-me-not so often. "I'll never be able to let people know I'm there if I'm not strong enough to back it up." Strong enough to protect himself from anyone who wants to mess with him.

All Might is silent, and Izuku worries for a moment that this was it, the hero was going to take back his offer, but he just hops off the Segway and poofs into his hero form. Izuku doesn't have the energy to protest when All Might picks him up from the ground. He's been running on fumes for the last three days.

"You've got the drive, my boy." The hero says, placing Izuku back on his feet. "But you have to let your body rest. No training for three days - relax, let your muscles recover." All Might tries to let Izuku stand on his own, but ends up having the teen lean on him as they make their way to Izuku's apartment.

The three days following that are peaceful, mind-numbingly so. Izuku wakes up, goes to school, comes home, does his work, goes to bed. His body's itching to go and do something, anything would be better than scrolling through the All Might forums for the twentieth time that day. Han's curled up on his shoulders, purring up a storm as he kneads his paws into the fabric of Izuku's shirt. Izuku doesn't know what he would do without the cat.

It's on the afternoon of the second day that Izuku decides to go out. Maybe he'll find a hero fight to watch, his analysis notes were put on the back burner to train, and his newest notebook has been painfully empty for weeks. One problem: Han wants to come along.

"Han," Izuku groans, trying to slip out the door but being blocked by the stubborn cat. "You can't come."

Han doesn't give up. Izuku does.

"Fine," he says, picking the cat up and placing him on his shoulder. Han lets out a smug meow, adjusting himself to curl around Izuku's neck and cling to the shirt. Izuku opens the door and the two of them head out.

It's a bit harder to be inconspicuous with Han clinging to him, but Izuku manages. The cat was content to observe from his place on Izuku's shoulders, his tail tapped Izuku's collarbone in a happy rythim.

The path Izuku and his little freeloader take goes through all the major business areas in the city. Most crimes are committed near banks or stores, robberies more than outright malicious attacks on the public. Izuku manages to walk an hour with no hero activity. Not even a newbie hero on patrol. The whole experience was almost as mind numbing as the All Might fan pages. If there's anything good to come out of this so far, it's the people-watching. So far, Izuku's seen a group of fellow middle schoolers put an entire pack of mentos into a two liter bottle of soda, a man accidentally set fire to his menu, and a boy fall flat on his face while trying to flirt with a girl.

He's considering turning in for the rest of the day when he hears the distant cheers of a crowd. There's a pillar of fire rising above the city's buildings, it doesn't take much detective work to know which hero it is. The only hero in the city with a fire Quirk that strong is Endeavor. Even though Izuku's been looking for a fight to watch, he finds himself hesitating. Fights that involve Endeavor mean a lot of collateral damage, and with Han still purring happily on Izuku's shoulders, collateral wasn't something he wants to risk.

Another pillar of fire goes up, as does the volume of the crowd.

Izuku sighs. He'll just keep a firm grip on Han. Gently cupping the cat's head in his palm, Izuku sets out for the fight.

The crowd he'd heard a few blocks back is massive, people craning their necks to see the number two hero in action. Izuku, whose grip tightens on his cat, manages to slip past a good number of the onlookers to get a decent view.

Endeavor's opponent has a mutation Quirk, giving him the characteristics of a bear. Yes, the villain is fighting Endeavor with actual bear hands. Izuku takes his notebook out and begins to write, careful to balance Han on his shoulder and make sure that the cat stays situated.

Which was why when he felt Han's weight leave his shoulder his heart plummeted. Of all the times Han wants to explore, it's when there's a very likely chance of debris hitting him. The mental image alone has Izuku dropping his pencil and taking off after the retreating form of his cat. He was so scared of losing Han he even dropped notice-me-not to physically push through the crowd. Yet no matter what, Han always stayed out of reach. Eventually, the cat stopped, but only to rub against the pant leg of a boy Izuku's age.

The boy looks down, his expression surprised but not angry. Red and white hair splits perfectly at the middle and blocks Izuku's view of the boy's eyes, but Izuku in the brief moment he'd seen them, He'd seen gray and bright blue.

"I am so, so sorry." Izuku says as he kneels down to scoop up his troublesome cat. Han is not bothered by this, but he does wriggle a bit to face the other boy. "He just ran off and I tried to catch him - I don't even know if you're allergic to cats-"

The other boy, who'd been watching Han with an indescribable expression, raised a hand to get Izuku to shut up. "It's fine." The boy says, his voice soft enough to be barely heard over the final sounds of the fight. "I'm not allergic, anyways."

Han, the traitorous cat, cranes his neck to beg for a scratch under the chin. Miracle of miracles, the other boy obliges. Izuku can't remember the last time Han has been this friendly with anyone aside from him and his mother.

"Ah, well, that's good- that you're not allergic, I mean." God why can't Izuku just die. And the boy was still petting Han, so it wasn't like Izuku could activate notice-me-not and get the hell out of dodge.

Izuku realizes he'd zoned out when the boy gives him a strange look. "Are you okay?"

"Yes?" Izuku squeaks out, his grip on Han tightening a bit. "S-sorry, I zoned out, what did you say?"

"I asked why you're here with your cat." The boy still hasn't stopped petting Han.

"Well he, uh, he wouldn't let me leave without him." Which sounds really weak, even to Izuku. At this point just getting swallowed up by the ground was looking really good.

"You're cat," the boy says slowly.

"He can be very stubborn." Izuku confirms with a nod. The silence that follows next has Izuku hitting eject and escaping the conversation. "Well, I should probably go feed him. He gets cranky when he's hungry." Izuku conveniently ignores the fact that Han is purring up a storm, which the other boy could definitely hear. Izuku whips around and starts to walk off. It's only after he's a block away that he realizes two things: one, he'd left his pencil, and two, he'd never asked for the boy's name.

Loud and with a lot of feeling, Izuku says, "Fuck."

Han just purrs louder.


-----


Two days later, Izuku is allowed to go back to training. A few months later, and the day of the entrance exam is looming and Izuku can't find sleep. Han is curled up on his chest, rumbling in content as he breathed in and out. Since Izuku is pretty much stuck until Han decides to wake up and move, he stares at the ceiling, trying to calm his mind enough to fall asleep. He isn't sure when he actually does go to bed, all he can remember is closing his eyes and then his alarm was going off. Five o'clock, he has two hours before the entrance exams, and he still has to finish the last pile of debris lying on the beach.

He isn't too sure as to how he does it, but he does. The beach is clear, not a piece of trash in sight. Izuku stands on top of his pile and relishes in the feeling of success. He did it, he actually did it. He cleaned up this God forsaken beach in the nick of time. Which means that his training in preparation for One for All is officially complete. He doesn't realize that All Might is there until the hero catches him after he falls from the pile in exhaustion.

Everything that happens after that is a blur of pre-test jitters. Izuku can summarize it with this: he eats a hair, now he has a Quirk that could tear him apart. He's too nervous about the test to even worry about that last part as much as he should. He parts ways with All Might at the beach, making the journey to Yuuei on his lonesome. Staring up at the looming gates of the prestigious school, Izuku wishes that Han could be with him.

You can do this, he tells himself, straightening his back and marching in. You can do this-

His foot catches on air.

Fuck.

Izuku lets out a cry, closing his eyes and throwing his arms out to brace for impact. When the concrete never greeted his face, he opened his eyes. He was...floating...a handful of inches off the ground. He finds himself making a note that zero gravity feels weird when a voice speaks up next to him.

"Thank goodness I caught you in time." The voice is female, bubbly, and something that makes Izuku jump out of his skin. "I didn't even see you until you started to fall!"

Ah, his cry as he fell deactivated notice-me-not. "Uh," He says lamely, trying to maneuver himself to face his rescuer. "T-thank you."

The girl who spoke a moments before is smiling now. She has light brown hair, shaped in a bob cut with longer strands framing her face. Izuku thinks that it suits her rather well. "No problem! It'd be bad luck to fall on your first day." She helps Izuku float to his feet before pressing her fingertips together and letting gravity take back it's hold on him. "I'm Uraraka Ochako!"

"I-" any chance of his voice actually working with him vanishes when he hears a familiar, dread inducing voice.

"Deku."

Izuku really does stiffen this time, and the time it takes for him to turn around feels like an eternity. Bakugou is standing right behind him, nose scrunched and eyes narrowed. "H-hi, Bakugou." Izuku says, he takes a step back - just in case the blond decides it's worth his time to singe Izuku's uniform.

Uraraka sticks herself between them, dissipating the underlying tension of the scene. "Is this a classmate of yours?" She asks.

Izuku can't from any words with the way Bakugou is glaring at him, so he just nods. In earlier years, Bakugou would just bully people into avoiding Izuku. By the time middle school came around, everyone had gotten the memo. Izuku isn't too sure if the blond will manage the same thing at Yuuei, but Izuku really doesn't want to see Uraraka straight up fight Bakugou. In a rush of stupid courage, he grabs Uraraka's arm and pulls her to the doors.

"You really don't wanna mess with him." Izuku tells her once they're in the safety of the entrance building. "He's- just don't." His hands are shaking. He realizes that he's still holding Uraraka's arm and drops it, a blush coating his cheeks. "Sorry."

The girl smiles, "It's okay, Deku!"

Izuku just barely suppresses his flinch at the nickname. "Ah, actually, my name is Midoriya Izuku. D-Deku's just something he calls me to make fun of me." He wants to kick himself for stuttering over the stupid insult, but Uraraka takes what he says in stride.


"Oh, I'm sorry!" Her expression says that the words are genuine. "Just Midoriya then."

Izuku nods, "Yeah, just Midoriya." In spite of his nerves, he smiles. This is one of the first conversation he's had with someone his age that isn't ending with taunts or mean spirited comments - besides that boy from the hero fight, of course.

The bell rings, Izuku leaps at the sound. Uraraka laughs, but Izuku likes to think that she was laughing with him instead of at him. "We're gonna be late," She says, "come on, follow me!" She grabs his arm and starts to tug him away. Izuku, still a bit dazed from the fact that someone is being nice to him, follows along without complaint.

Maybe today will be good after all.


-----


Today is not good, today is definitely not good. Izuku curses his tendency to jinx himself as he runs in search of robots to fight.

Apparently, notice-me-not doesn't work of mechanical objects, because the machines have no issue spotting him and singling him out. At least he's able to score a few points by grabbing a stray piece of robot debris and using it as a makeshift bludgeon. Even though notice-me-not doesn't work on the robots, it still works on the other examinees. He's able to sneak up on more than one student and steal their points by dealing the finishing blow. It's a bit underhanded, but the only rules were to not hurt or directly manipulate other teens, so it's fair game.

He's reached about twenty robots, a few two-pointers, but mostly one-point bots. He has a total of twenty six points. Compared to how many people he's seen taking down bots left and right, he is sorely lacking. As the minutes go on, his anxiety grows. There aren't many enemies left, and the ones that are still standing are taken down faster than Izuku can reach them. He realizes that his points aren't nearly enough to pass when Present Mic tells everyone they're entering the last minute of the exam.

The pressure is on, and Izuku doesn't know if he's going to crumble or not. There's no more enemies, he has twenty six points, he's going to fail. Months of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, and he was going to fail the exam. The beginnings of fear and shame begin to rise up in his throat like bile, but it's put on hold by the other test takers around him running away. The ground shakes, Izuku looks up just as a gargantuan robot peeks past the block. A metallic hand crushes the concrete of a high-rise building. Izuku stares in horror as everyone runs past him.

"H-help!"

The horror morphs into terror when he spots Uraraka Ochako - the nice girl from before the exams. Her ankle is trapped under rubble, and the zero-point bot is only getting closer. She'll be crushed if she doesn't get out. She'll die if no one does anything.

Izuku doesn't realize he's moving until he's already halfway to her. Once he's close enough, he assesses the situation. The block of concrete trapping her is propped up by some other pieces of debris, making a small cavity in which Uraraka's ankle is stuck.

The bot takes another earth shaking step.

He tries to lift the debris, no luck.

Another step.

He can't get her out.

The bot is now one more footstep from crushing the both of them.

If he can't get her out, he has to stop the bot. But how-

One for All.

It's new, something he's only had for a day - not even that. Yet it's all he has right now.

The robot makes the move for another step. Izuku is already airborne.

There really isn't a word to describe how it feels to have metal crumple under his fist. He's never been the kind of person to take pleasure in destruction, but the feeling that comes rushing in after the robot falls to the ground is nothing short of exhilaration. He did it, he actually did it. Someone needed his help and he saved them.

Then he sees his arm. Previously pale skin is now a mottled red and purple. His arm looks more like a bruised apple than an actual arm. Yet despite his limb being mangled, he isn't feeling any pain. There isn't a lot of time to worry about that, because he starts to fall. A fall from this height will result in more than a broken arm - and legs, he saw them flopping around uselessly out of the corner of his eye. For the sake of keeping his breakfast in his stomach, Izuku keeps it at a glance.

The ground is getting dangerously close now. If he uses One for All to break his fall, then he should be safe. Pro: getting to live. Con: he'll have all four of his limbs shattered. All of that and he still hasn't scored enough points to pass. 'He's fortifying himself for using One for All again when a hand slaps across his cheek. The feeling of zero gravity is familiar, and he's an inch from the street before it takes full effect and he starts to float around harmlessly.

Uraraka is lying on the broken head of a robot. "Release." She says, touching her fingertips together and having both Izuku and the robot thump to the floor. Unceremoniously, she bows her head and vomits.

"A-are you okay?" Izuku asks, his face smushed against the concrete street.

Uraraka coughs, spits, then looks to him. "Am I okay?" She repeats, "Midoriya, I should be asking that about you! Your legs look like ground meat!"

Izuku could have gone without that helpful description, but lets out a weak laugh anyways. "I guess the pain hadn't caught up with me yet." He says, grinning in spite of the beginning twinges of agony starting up. "Oh wait, there it is."

It's probably the post-adrenaline high, but Uraraka giggles, then she starts to laugh. Tired, Izuku joins in. A small crowd begins to form around them, and they're laughing like there's no tomorrow. It felt like that, back when Izuku had ran over to help.

Izuku's consciousness fades to belly-laughs and concerned murmurs. Maybe it is a good day after all.


-----


The worst part about tests isn't the actual test itself - it's waiting for the results.

Izuku spends the day when his results should come back by taking a jog, feeding the seagulls at the beach, and watching tv with his mom, Han curled up on his lap and begging for attention. All the while, a looming sense of doom hangs over him. He'd only gotten twenty six points, and while that's better than no points at all, other students most definitely got more. Months of effort, of pushing his limits every single day, and he fails before he can even begin.

"Maybe they're right." He mutters to himself in the confines of his room. Han is in there with him, trying to swat at Izuku's pencil holder. "Maybe I just wasn't meant to be a hero."

Which means that he's disappointed himself, and more importantly, All Might. The first person to ever believe in him, and Izuku fails him. That thought alone is enough to catapult him into despair, but his descent is put on hold when his mom bursts through the door.

"Izuku- your letter!" It's true, in his mom's hand in an envelope. The sight of it sends a wave of nausea through Izuku.

He takes the letter from his mom and closes the door - he doesn't want her to see just how badly he failed. He puts it on his desk and stares at it. Inside was a piece of paper explaining that he'd been rejected from Yuuei's hero program. The question is whether or not Izuku's ready to hear it.

"It's like a band-aid." He whispers to himself, scratching Han's head when the cat comes over to him. "Might as well rip it off and get it over with."

The tear of the paper echoes through the room, and Izuku feels only confusion as he stares at a small device that had been in the envelope. He startles in his seat when the device lets out a beep and starts to glow. A projection is now above his desk, and Izuku's stomach does a somersault when he sees All Might on the screen.

"Midoriya, my boy!" The hero greets with a wave. Izuku finds himself waving back. The hologram splutters out when Han takes a swipe at it, Izuku grabs his cat and holds him in his lap, well out of swiping distance of the image of the teacher. "I have to apologize for not getting in touch sooner, I've been busy getting ready for the school year!"

Wait, that means-

"That's right, I'm now a teacher at Yuuei!"

Izuku feels faint.

The holographic All Might clears his throat. "But thats not why I'm recording this." The hero says, "I'm here to tell you about your test results." A screen pops up behind the hero. "Now, on your written exams, you did just fine - good work on that, by the way." The screen shifts to his practical score, a picture of his face with the number twenty-six on the right. "On your practical, you scored twenty-six villain points, which is not enough to pass."

Izuku hangs his head. He knew this was coming, the rejection. The only way he could feel any worse is if All Might outright says he's disappointed.

"However!" All Might gestures to his left, where another screen pops up. It's a video. Izuku watches as Uraraka walks into Present Mic's office.

"Um, excuse me?" She asks the vocal hero, fiddling with her fingers. "The boy who saved me, Midoriya Izuku, I heard him say he didn't have enough points to pass, is it okay if I give him some of mine?"

Izuku stares at the screen in shock. Uraraka tried to give him points? It must've been while he was in Recovery Girl's office, drinking a juice box and listening to the nurse lecture him on responsible use of his Quirk. He's only met Uraraka that day, and she'd already done a lot more than other people have. She kept him from falling on his way in, stood up to Bakugou, and stopped him from becoming a stain on the ground during the exam. She's already done so much, and she still wants to give him points. Izuku can feel tears prick at his eyes.

The video pauses and the camera shifts back to All Might. "You inspired this young girl with your actions. That's the work of a true hero! And while it's true that we were giving students points in correlation to their defeat of the villain bots, there was a secret point system: rescue points! Midoriya, your actions in saving miss Uraraka have given you sixty rescue points, making you the student with the most points total of the entire exam! It's my honor to welcome you to Yuuei for your hero academia!"

Izuku can feel the tears falling down his cheeks as the hologram vanishes. He didn't fail. He didn't fail. He passed. He got the highest score of all the participants. He's going to Yuuei.

He's a long way from his dream, but he's made the first step, and that's what matters in the end.

Chapter Text


Izuku sets the tone for his first day of school by sleeping through his alarm. If that's any indication, he's screwed.

The only reason he managed to get up at all was because of Han. The cat is adamant about being fed right before Izuku leaves for school, and he doesn't let his human's need for sleep get in the way of that. Izuku makes a note to get the cat a treat on the way home since Han's actions save him from missing first period.

"Okay," he mutters, staring at the door to class 1-A. "I can do this, I can get through the day without using my Quirk." Then he opens the door, sees Bakugou sitting at one of the desks, and throws notice-me-not around him on instinct. He would say "great" with as much sarcasm as he could muster, but his lips have sealed themselves on their own accord. Talking means he'll be seen, and he really doesn't want to deal with the blond right now.

There's another classmate in the room, one with blue hair and glasses. Izuku recalls seeing him in the same test zone during the exams, but never got the chance to speak to him. Bakugou is talking to the blue haired teen, though "talking" might not be the right word for it.

"Oh, shut it, four eyes." The blond drawls, glaring at the boy through lidded eyes. Izuku admires the blue haired boy's courage to not cower under the glare. "Did your prissy school shove that pole up your ass, or were you just born with it?"

Way to make friends, Bakugou.

Izuku maneuvers around them, staying a minimum of two meters away and choosing a seat near the back as his own. It's next to the window, and Izuku relaxes at the sight of the blue sky and trees. Maybe he can vault out of the window if Bakugou ever sees him, it's only a first story drop. Unless the school invests in bullet-proof glass, but that doesn't seem likely. He watches the students outside file in through the gates and spots a familiar bobcut in the masses. His shoulders release a tension he didn't know he had. At least there's one person he knows besides Bakugou at the school.

The door opens again. Izuku looks up to see another teen walk in. Something about him's familiar, it only strikes Izuku after the boy takes a seat on the other end of the room. It's the boy that Han ran off to at the villain fight. The one that Izuku never got the name of. But Izuku doesn't have the courage to go over and reintroduce himself. Bakugou has only just began to stop yelling, and Izuku's nerves have yet to recover.

After that, the class fills up slowly but surely. Izuku watches every new student enough to get a base understanding of their personalities.

There's another blond one, but his hair isn't like Bakugou's, more like someone dumped yellow paint on his head. He's easygoing. His posture as he lounges in his chair is casual, like he doesn't have a care in the world. Izuku swears that he sees the blond's fingers spark with tiny bits of static. Maybe an electricity Quirk?

There's a girl with dark hair and earphone jacks for earlobes - not the strangest mutant-type Quirk Izuku's seen, but it's up there. She knows the static-blond, if the exasperated looks she sends him are any indication.

There's a boy with eight arms. A girl whose physical appearance reminds Izuku of a frog. A boy with...grapes on his head? Izuku resolves to not think on it too much and takes out his notebook to sketch. The frog-girl is at a good angle to doodle. He's so invested in getting the odd shape of her mouth right he leaps tree feet off his chair when someone addresses him.

It's Uraraka. She's standing right next to him and smiling. Izuku had been so zoned in on his notebook he hadn't seen her approach. "Midoriya, hi!"

You'll have to excuse Izuku for being a bit shocked. Years of only being seen when he wants to and she manages to see him from the get-go, just like his mom is able to. "Uh, h-hi, Uraraka." The words stumble out without grace. He's still caught up on how she got past notice-me-not to care about it. "You got into class 1-A," He wants to wince at his stating the obvious but instead smiles. "I'm happy for you."

Uararaka grins, Izuku almost has to squint at the brightness of it. "You too! I was so worried after the exam, you know. I was gonna text you afterwards but-" her smile turns embarrassed- "I never really got your number."

"Oh, yeah." Izuku fumbles for his phone. "Here," He's about to hand her the device when a voice booms out from the front of the room.

"When the fuck did you get in here, fucking Deku?"

Izuku's mouth shuts with a clack as he looks to the angry blond. "I-I got in here after you did." He replies, trying his best to keep his voice from shaking. Everyone's eyes are on him and Bakugou, Izuku wants nothing more than to become one with his desk and vanish.

"And why the fuck are you in the heroics division?" The blond stalks closer, Izuku is now seriously considering his previous thought of leaping through the window. "A shitstain like you would have been smushed in the exams."

"That's not true!" Uraraka says, standing between Bakugou and Izuku. "He got in fair and square!" She turns to Izuku, "How many points did you get, anyways?"

Izuku begins to tap his fingers together, "Ah, well, without the rescue points? Twenty-six."

"And with them?"

Everyone is paying attention now. Izuku's voice grows tiny. "Eighty-six." He knows where the situation is heading before Bakugou can even do the math in his head. Izuku got almost ten points more than Bakugou, which both ensured him the spot as the highest placing examinee and a one-way ticket to hell via explosions.

Yet before that can happen, the door slides open, but no one is there opening it. Then Izuku peers over his desk and sees him.

There's a bright yellow sleeping bag inching along like a caterpillar. Izuku can't even wonder how the occupant of the sleeping bag opened the door before it unzips and a man stands up and steps out. His hair is shaggy, framing a narrow face adorned with a scruffy mustache and the beginning stubble of a beard. Izuku takes one look at the man and comes to three conclusions: that man is more tired than Izuku (an achievement on most days), he won't take any crap, and he's most likely their homeroom teacher.

"Everyone sit down." The man says, his voice is rougher than Izuku originally thought it would be. Izuku sags in relief when Bakugou retreats back to his desk in the front. Uraraka sits next to him, mouthing an "are you okay?" And is only satisfied when Izuku mouths back "Yes, thank you".

The teacher waits a moment for everyone to settle down before opening his mouth again. "Don't get too comfortable with your seats - we're going outside." The teacher heads for the door, making a halfhearted gesture to have the class follow him. Izuku sticks to Uraraka's side like glue as they all file out into the hallway. He keeps Bakugou in his sights, walking a deliberate twenty feet away and slowing down if the blond shows any sign of doing so as well.

They're on one of the sports fields now, Izuku can't even appreciate the gentle warmth of the sun shining on his skin - he's too busy wishing he had Han with him.

Their teacher - Aizawa - then tells them what they're all going to be doing. A Quirk apprehension test, where usage of Quirks is allowed and the lowest scoring applicant will be expelled. The universe loves to prove to Izuku that days can get worse, very much worse.

Izuku will be the first to tell you that his performance in those tests were abysmal. Notice-me-not is only good for when no one knows he's supposed to be there anyways, but with Aizawa announcing every participant, Izuku's Quirk is rendered useless. He could use One for All, but considering the last time he used it his bones resembled paste more than bones, maybe it'd be smart to refrain.

Even with the handicap of being unable to use either of his Quirks, Bakugou makes it worse. Izuku can feel the blond's eyes burning into his back, and it makes him slip up more than once.

He walks back to the group of students after yet another lackluster performance with the sincere desire to just die. He's hyper aware of every pair of eyes looking at him, and when he merges with the masses he closes his eyes and tries his best to activate notice-me-not.

Years of use, he's learned, has made his sensitivity to notice-me-not stronger, the sensation when it's activated is like a small undercurrent flowing around him - soft, but there. When he feels the telltale buzz, he relaxes and spectates.

The boy from the hero fight months ago was doing the pushups section. Izuku noted his form, one that spoke of years doing the exercise. Not a sweat was on the teen's head - even though everyone else doing the test alongside him are soaked. Maybe it's part of his Quirk. Izuku's heart feels like it's beating at a semi-normal pace now, so he finds Uraraka and taps her elbow. "Hi,"

She startles, letting out a loud "Eep!" And whirling to face him. Izuku can't help smiling at the reaction. "Midoriya, don't scare me like that!" She tells him, clutching her heart. "You just came out of nowhere!"

"It's a gift." He replies, but quickly grows awkward when he doesn't know what else to say. Why did he even touch her in the first place? He's been more than content to watch people form the side before, yet his body decided to move without a second thought to lower notice-me-not for Uraraka. Maybe it works differently on people that have a good relationship with him? There was never a way to test that before, no one really tried to be his friend with Bakugou designating him as the resident punching bag of the class.

He's startled out of his musings when Aizawa says, "Midoriya, you're up for the softball toss."

Uraraka pats his back, "Good luck!" She tells him, "Though you probably won't need it."

Izuku smiles back weakly, "Yeah, thanks - for the good luck, I mean." He ducks his head and marches over to the teacher before he can dig the hole of his social life any deeper. He has to do good on this, or he'll be in 20th place and he'll fail. Izuku didn't spend ten months training and breaking three of his four limbs in the exam to get expelled on the first day. His hand is shaking when he takes the ball from the sleep-deprived teacher's hand.

He steps into the circle, takes a breath, and imagines Han is with him. It helps somewhat, even if he can feel the nineteen pairs of eyes on his form. In and out. Han is purring at his side, nuzzling into Izuku's side for head scratches. He can do this. What's a broken arm to his dreams?

He's building up the throw now, the hyperactive buzz of One for All is a stark contrast to notice-me-not's calming thrum. His teeth are clenched as tight as they can be as he throws the ball - fully expecting his arm to become marinara meat sauce.

Which is why, when the ball falls harmlessly at five meters, he's confused.

"Look, kid." Aizawa says when Izuku turns to face him. "You can't go breaking bones every time you use your Quirk, no hero is a one-trick phony. If you can't find a way to keep moving after you use your Quirk, you'll be expelled."

Now Izuku recognized his teacher. A hero that works by night and avoids the public's attention: the erasing hero, Eraserhead. He erased One for All before izuku could release it.

"Now, you can try again, but if you break your arm you'll be expelled on the spot."

No pressure. Izuku catches Uraraka giving him a thumbs up as he goes to collect the ball. He's back in the circle. Breathe in, breathe out. Imagine Han curled up against his neck. Izuku opened his eyes. He could do this. He just had to be able to move, right?

Besides, Eraserhead said he'd be expelled if he broke his _arm_.

There's a boom as the ball shoots from his hand and into the sky. Within seconds it's out of sight. Izuku lets out a sigh and slumps. Until he hears Bakugou of course.

"You shit!"

Izuku sees the blond out of the corner of his eye and acts on instinct. Years of maneuvering around people has honed his reflexes, and he's already ducked before Bakugou can reach him. It turns out to be unnecessary, because the odd scarf that Aizawa has worn the entire test is now wrapped around Bakugou, stopping him from making another step.

"If you assault someone out of a training exercise you'll be expelled, Bakugou." The man says. "You," He nods to Izuku. "Nice reflexes. And since your arm is still in one piece. You're in the clear - for now."

Izuku, nursing his broken finger, grins.


-----


A logical ruse. A logical ruse. Aizawa spends the school day lording the threat of expulsion over their heads and it's a bluff. If Izuku wasn't so frustrated by that, he would have been impressed by it.

"Oh my gosh, Midoriya, what you did at the softball throw was so cool!" Uraraka says to him as they leave the class and enter the hallway.

The school day is over, Izuku's already been seen to by Recovery Girl (a nice lady, but stern). He's tired, his finger still has some phantom pains, and all he wants is to go and cuddle his cat, but damn does he feel good. "Really?" He asks, scratching his neck as they walk under the Yuuei gates. "I still can't control my own power, Uraraka. That isn't really cool."

"But you'll learn." She replies, readjusting her grip on her backpack. "That's what we're at Yuuei for, right?" She changes the subject before he can reply. "What do you think of our other classmates?"

"They seem nice," Izuku thinks of Bakugou and shudders. "Not Bakugou, though."

Uraraka laughs. "Yeah, he seems a bit prickly." A gross understatement. "But I meant the others."

Oh boy, Izuku hasn't learned any names besides Aizawa's today. "Uh, you know the one with red and white hair? He seems nice."

"Really? I thought he was giving off some loner vibes."

"Maybe he's shy." Izuku suggests.

"Maybe." Uraraka agrees. She stops when they come close to a bus station. "Well, this is my stop. I'm really happy we're in the same class, Midoriya."

"Well," He says, "the exam wonder-duo has to stick together, right?" He regrets the words as soon as they pass his mouth. Exam wonder duo? They hadn't even worked as a team outside of saving each other's lives.

Before he can apologize, Uraraka laughs. "'Exam wonder duo', huh?" She punches his shoulder lightly, "I like it. See you around!"

Izuku waves as she leaves, still in shock. But he can't stay shocked for long, mom's expecting him home by four.

Everything that happens after that is normal., he goes home. Eats dinner. Talks to mom about his day and watches crap tv with Han situated on his lap. It's only later, when the sun's long set and the nightlife has come out to play, that he says, "Things are looking up."

No one hears, besides Han, who just butts against Izuku's cheek and purrs as loud as a semi truck.

 

 

Chapter Text


After his first day, an email was sent out telling the students to submit a hero costume design within the week. But one thing you need to know about Izuku is that he works best under pressure. With Han purring on the side of the desk, Izuku scribbles idea after idea, but the amount of paper balls on the floor will tell anyone how much luck he's having.

He's caught in a dilema: he needs the costume to balance out both One for All and notice-me-not, which isn't an easy thing to do, considering the two are near complete opposites. Maybe if he-

Han leaps off the desk, landing without a sound and making it to the door before he meows for Izuku to free him. A lightbulb goes off. He lets Han out and sets to work.


-----


In hindsight, he's really happy that he had that epiphany a few days ago. Why?

"So,” All Might claps his hands together, “uraraka and Midoriya will be the heroes, while Bakugou and Iida will be the villains!"

That. That was why. Notice-me-not is a blessing right now. It's weak, but it keeps Bakugou from directing his ire. He's relieved when Uraraka taps his shoulder, too relieved to be surprised that she'd seen through notice-me-not. He's got backup in this fight. Uraraka won't let him get hurt, and vice-versa.

"You okay?" She asks, keeping her voice low.

Izuku takes a breath and nods. "Yeah." He changes the subject. "We should make some plans before we head in." His mind is already running through possible scenarios. Bakugou will go after him with a single minded mentality, maybe Izuku can capitalize on that, but that would leave Uraraka on her own against Iida. He doesn't know much about the bespectacled boy, and he doesn't know if he will be as violent in a fight as Bakugou. Though looking back to the boy and Bakugou's first conversation, maybe he's overthinking it.

"Midoriya, right?"

Izuku's dragged from his plans by a familiar male voice. It's the boy from the hero fight, Todoroki Shouto - Izuku learned his name from the Quirk apprehension test. Todoroki is still looking at him, Izuku shakes his head. "Yes?"

There's a pause. "Good luck.” His lips twitched, the closest Izuku's seen him come to a smile. “Maybe it's a good thing you didn't bring your cat this time."

Was- was that a joke? Izuku hadn't thought a teen like Todoroki, with his neutral expression and monotone voice, was capable of one. Still, he smiles. "Yeah, Han would try to fight Bakugou." And I don't really know who would win.

Uraraka looks between the two of them. "Do you guys know each other?"

"We met at a hero fight a few months ago." Todoroki answers. He turns around. "Good luck."

Before Izuku can say goodbye, All Might herds everyone into the changing rooms to put on their hero costumes.

The box in Izuku's locker is nondescript, a pale green with no other markings besides the logo of the company who manufactured it. He unlatches the box, opens it, and smiles.


-----


The sun as they all walk out is blinding. The majority of the class squints against it, the odd ones out have visors to block the light for them.

"Midoriya!" Izuku hears Uraraka call. Turning to her, he sees her costume for the first time.

It's space-themed, with pink and black being the dominant colors. On her head is a helmet that's a bastardized version of an actual astronaut's, her face is covered by a screen of reinforced glass.

"Uraraka, you look…. it's really cool." Izuku says past his stutters. Whoever designed her suit had made it skintight, and Izuku's still getting used to having a (human) friend, much less a friend who was a girl (not a girlfriend).

Uraraka spins in place, "You think? They made it a bit tight..."

Izuku shakes his head, "No, it looks fine,but if it makes you uncomfortable, you could ask for a redesign."

Uraraka hugs Izuku, which throws him off guard. "You're so sweet, Midoriya! And your costume looks awesome. Very practical!"

Izuku looks down at himself when she mentions it. The costume isn't too flashy compared to some of the ones he sees the others wearing, just a dull green jumpsuit with a grey midsection and a few odd highlights of neon on the arms. The middle has vertical seams - making it look like some odd combo of sweater and workout gear. He could easily be mistaken for an ordinary biker with a flashy fashion sense. His sleeves have rings of neon green where his shoulders end, splitting to follow a vertical line down to his gloves, which were a darker green than his suit. His boots go up halfway to his knees, matte black and streamlined. In his hands he holds his helmet. The shape resembles a motorcycle helmet, but with key differences: light gray makes up the lower half, and the middle is a visor that can be placed and removed by clicking it into place and pressing a button respectively. The upper half is the same green as his suit, with neon semi-circles on the sides that end at the edge of the visor.

He shoves his helmet on and clicks the visor into place to hide his embarrassment. "Thanks." He's doubly grateful for the tinted visor when he can feel Bakugou's acidic stare on his back. Izuku pats the pockets on his thighs and sighs in relief when he can feel the gear he requested.

Bakugou's teammate - IIda - walks over. He's decked out in full armor and holds his helmet under his arm. Izuku is reminded of a professional hero he's seen before , but can't put a name to them quite yet. "It seems like we will be facing each other in a few minutes," he says, nodding to the both of them. "And while I don't know either of you very well, I wanted to say may the best team win."

Uraraka's smile is near blinding. "You too, Iida!" All Might calls for the villain team to head in and set up. "Good luck!" She waves him goodbye. Izuku gives a weak wave as well.

He can't explain it, but he has a bad feeling about this exercise. Call it a hunch, but Izuku’s gut feelings haven't failed him yet.


-----


"So," Uraraka says as she and Izuku walk down the barren halls of the first floor. "What's the game plan?"

"Bakugou's going to target me," His voice is muffled by the mask, and he has to press a button on the side of his helmet to even be heard, but it's enough for now. "It'd be best of we split up soon. They've most likely set up on the top floor, and if they haven't, then we can move down from there." Izuku swallows. "I'll bait Bakugou to keep him distracted. He's the biggest threat right now." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a few containers. "Take these."

"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Uraraka asks, taking the offered items and looking at them. "What are these?"

"Flash bangs, watered down ones." Izuku points to the pin hanging near the handle grip. "Pull that pin and throw it once you're close enough. It has about a one-second delay, so look away before it goes off." They're approaching a corner now, but something doesn't feel right. Latent energy buzzes in the air, watching, waiting. Something’s about to happen. With his senses already on high-alert, seeing the first part of Bakugou;s glove peeking out from the corner has Izuku pushing Uraraka to the side with a yell of, “Duck!”

Bakugou appears fully, and the grin on his face couldnt be anything but bloodthirsty. He brings a hand forward, explosion at the ready, and izuku can see the hand make contact with his stomach in slow motion. The impact has him wanting to puke, but that’s not a smart idea, seeing that the mask has no proper drainage, so he grits his teeth and bears it.

"Midoriya!" Uraraka cries, reaching out but recoiling at Izuku’s harsh bark.

“No!” He stands up. His ribs twinge, but he yells anyways. "Run, Uraraka! You know what to do!" He turns on his heel and bolts down the hall. He can already hear Bakugou yelling after him, it only makes him speed up. He makes a left, then a right, then another right. Enough to get them away from Uraraka and her path to the staircase. With that out of the way, Izuku focuses on a new objective: he has to get to the next corner. He has to get out of sight. Either that-

"Deku!"

-Or he's dead.

The corner Izuku spots ahead of him is still a bit far away, and he has no idea if notice-me-not will work when someone is actively looking for him. But there was only one way to find out. He just hopes he doesn't get blown to kingdom come for his efforts.

He rounds the corner and presses himself against it. His heart is beating so hard he can't tell if notice-me-not is activated. The lights are too bright, Bakugou would surely be able to see him. He’s breathing too loud, everything is too loud. Nothing short of vanishing into the concrete will suffice in hiding from the blond. He’s already preparing a funeral arrangement when he hears footsteps getting closer. Bakugou rounds the corner and Izuku sucks in a breath, holding as deathly still as he can manage.

"Deku! Stop running, you fucking coward!" He looks around, there's hellfire in his eyes. Izuku's half expecting him to shake off notice-me-not and blast him to oblivion, but that's not was happens.

The blond's growl reverberates through the hall and he stalks off, not once having seen Izuku. His sigh of relief is silenced by his mask. Detaching himself from the wall, he wonders how Uraraka's doing.


-----


Bakugou's screaming echoes through the building. And with each explosion, Ochako’s worry grows. She hasn't known Midoriya for long, aside from the few days they've spent together in class, but she likes to think that she's a good judge of character. Midoriya is shy, but he has a good heart. She doesn't like the fact that he's alone with Bakugou, who seems more likely to punch someone in the mouth than say hello. But there's nothing she can do right now, the only way she can help Midoriya right now is to finish the exercise as fast as she can and capture the "bomb".

She's on the top floor now, and when she sees the shadow of a large object, she knows she's close. Iida wouldn't leave the bomb unguarded, and when it comes to actual strength, he has the upper hand. Now, a lot of people will say that she’s a dunce, a total airhead. She hasnt really done anything yet to convince them otherwise, but maybe she can start here. She needs to step back, breathe, and take a page out of Midoriya’s book - she can fight hard, but that won’t matter if she doesn't fight smart.

She fiddles with the flash-bangs Midoriya gave her. One second delay time, and Uraraka doesn't know if Iida's helmet has a tinted visor, or if the sound will be enough to stun him. Either way, it won't hurt to try. Just to be safe, she grabs a few small rocks and heads in.


-----


Uraraka's voice comes in over the comm. "Hey, Midoriya, I found the bomb."

Izuku's grateful he put his comm inside his helmet, it means his voice can't be heard by Bakugou. “Good job. I lost Bakugou, I'll set up a trap and lure him into it."

He couldn't see her, but Izuku imagines that she nods. "Got it. Good luck, Midoriya." The comm cuts off, leaving him in silence.

Izuku unzips a pocket, the sound that it makes echoes in the hall. He flinches and looks for any sign of Bakugou. Nothing. He takes a breath and continues.

The fishing wire he'd asked for is bundled neatly in a case. Thin enough to be unseen by an untrained eye, but thick enough for it to take a bit of abuse before breaking. The hooks for him to loop the wire through are there as well, along with a mallet. He looks around again for Bakugou and sets to work.

“A slipknot won’t work.” Izuku mutters to himself. “So a common double knot will have to do.”

He's just finished tying the last knot when the blond comes into sight. Izuku knows that the blond can't see him, but he gulps all the same. He stands up, takes a step back from the wire, and prepares his eulogy.

"Hey, asshat!" Izuku yells at the top of his lungs. The words boom off of the walls, Izuku refuses to flinch at the noise. Bakugou's head whips to him, and he can see the fires of hell.

"Deku." The insult doesn't even sound like a word anymore.

Izuku's entire body is shaking. "What? Are you deaf?" He thumps a fist on his chest. It sounds hollow. "Come and get me, you egotistic douche-canoe!"

Bakugou roars. In his haze of fury, he foregoes flying towards Izuku with his explosions. Which is what Izuku wanted in the first place. The blond's shin catches on the fishing wire, pulling it tight and making Bakugou lose his balance.

Izuku leaps over his fallen form and takes out the capture tape. "Sorry, Bakugou." He mutters. He’s about to wrap the tape around Bakugou's wrist when the blond gets up and decks him. The helmet absorbs most of the force, but it still sends him flying.

Bakugou is standing over him, absolutely livid. "Where do you get off calling me an asshat, huh, Deku?"

For years, the mere sight of Bakugou has spawned a primal fear in Izuku. Ever since kindergarten, when Bakugou’s Quirk manifested and his didn’t, there’s been a rift. Bakugou refuses to see Izuku as someone with worth, and Izuku? He’s spent every second, every minute, every day thinking that the blond was some unattainable goal, something that he’d only achieve in his wildest dreams. But today, change is afoot. There's a great amount of bravery in the way Izuku makes slow, deliberate movements for the button on the side of his helmet. "I call it as I see it, Bakugou." He rolls to the side just in time to avoid the fist going for his head. He scrambles up and bolts.

"You idiot!" Bakugou takes off after him. But what he doesn't realize is that Izuku's set up more than one trap. Izuku gains more and more ground each time the blond trips. It's after the fourth trap that Bakugou realizes he can just blast himself over the wires.

Izuku thumbs the flash-bang in his hand. "Here goes nothing," he mutters. Pulling the pin, Izuku whips around and chucks it at Bakugou. His visor blocks enough of the light for Izuku to get by unscathed, and the sound's reduced to a loud clap, but Bakugou isn't so lucky. The blond is leaning against one of the walls, covering his eyes with his hands and swearing up a storm. The capture tape is back out, and Bakugou only recovers his eyesight in time to see Izuku tie the tape off around the blond's arm.

All Might's voice comes in over the speakers. "You've been caught, Bakugou. Please exit the building and rejoin the group."

But the thing is, Bakugou doesn't accept losing. Izuku knows this, but All Might doesn't, so that's why Izuku's already out of range before Bakugou gets up to throw a swing.

"You fucker!" Bakugou is seething now, more than Izuku's ever seen him before. "You think you can pull one up on me because of a technicality?" The crackle of explosions fill the air. "I'm gonna make you regret the day you were born!"

"You kind of already do." Izuku mutters, thankfully unheard.


-----


"All Might, you have to stop the fight!" Kirishima Eijirou pleads. "Bakugou's not stopping, Midoriya's going to get hurt!" His classmates around him seem to share the sentiment. They're all watching the fight on the screen. Midoriya is doing an impressive job dodging, but it's only a matter of time before he slips up.

The entire exercise had started well enough. Midoriya and Uraraka had done an excellent job at communicating and making a plan. Now, admittedly, he’d been a bit surprised to learn that Midoriya had flashbangs on his person, but acknowledged it as a sound tool to have on your person in a situation like this. Besides, the school checked the inventory of the costumes whenever they get made or modified. If there had been anything too dangerous, it would have been changed or taken out entirely. Besides, out of the four students on the field, All Might trusted Midoriya with the flashbangs the most.

Bakugou and Iida, on the other hand, fought like cats and dogs. Bakugou has an...aggressive way of doing things, and that clashed with Iida's overall personality. Out of the two teams, it was obvious who had the better synergy.

Midoriya had predicted his opponent well, making a plan that would keep the heavy hitter of the enemy team focused on him while Uraraka went to the bomb. If Bakugou had listened to Iida and stayed in the room they were guarding, there would have been little to no chance of Midoriya or Uraraka making their way though. Of course, if Midoriya used his Quirk, that could have been another story, but that wasn't the matter at hand.

Midoriya's words to Bakugou as he lead the blond into a trap had almost the entire room in shock. For good reason. Midoriya gave everyone he met an aura of gentleness. Many of his classmates would say that the green haired boy wouldn't hurt a fly, but that idea of Midoriya just didn't fit the one shouting insults at Bakugou to rile him up.

Young Kaminari summed it up quite well by saying, "Gee, never thought Midoriya had a potty mouth on him."

"Well," Kirishima had said, "he did go to middle school with Bakugou."

The sentence had given All Might pause. Relationships that carried on from middle school were either good, bad, or something in the middle. Yet taking into account both students' personalities, it's easy to guess which one it was.

While All might had trained Midoriya, he'd had the chance to gain a good look into the boy's disposition. A quiet child with a tendency for hiding from his troubles, Midoriya often tries to avoid people issues that don't require immediate attention. Maybe it'll be good for him to learn how to fight back instead of hide. The thought leaves a nasty feeling in his stomach.

He has to do something about this. Soon.


-----


Uraraka's having some trouble with Iida. Her assumption that he knew how her Quirk works had been correct. The other teen had gone through the effort of cleaning the entire room of loose items for her to use. In any other situation, that might have been troublesome, but Uraraka came prepared.

Iida rushes forward with a burst from his legs. Uraraka suffers a glancing blow to her arm as she tries to dodge. Both of them can hear the sounds of their respective teammates fighting on the comms. Uraraka can't see Iida's expression, but hers is one of worry. Still, Izuku entrusted this part of the plan to her, she had to come through for him. Maybe if she secures the bomb, Bakugou will stop.

She skids to the wall, using it to prop herself up. She has to get this over with, but Iida isn't going to make it easy. That's when she remembers the flashbangs.

"These have a one second delay time, so look away after you throw it."

Iida runs towards her again, Uraraka pulls the pin and chucks it. The resulting bang is concussive, but past the ringing in her ears, Uraraka can see that Iida's stopped to cover his own. There's no time to waste, she takes a running start, activates her Quirk, and jumps.


-----


"Where did you get that fucking Quirk, Deku?" Bakugou hisses. "'Cause you sure as hell didn't have that when we were little!"

Izuku blocks a hit and ducks another. Whatever he says can't be heard anyways, so he keeps his mouth shut. Over the comms, he can hear a flashbang go off. "Here's hoping that she can get to the bomb." He mutters as he lifts up his knee to block another roundhouse kick. For all the training Izuku did, he never really learned how to throw a punch. That's probably why his hand hurts after he clips Bakugou across the cheek.

He ends up regretting it when Bakugou grabs his arm and flips him with the assistance of a few explosions.


-----


The bomb feels light under her fingers, but the rush of relief makes Uraraka not care too much. "Captured!" She says in relief, but even then, the words feel hollow. She’s too worried about Midoriya to truly appreciate the victory. She releases gravity and drops to the floor.

Iida walks up. Uraraka feels the stirrings of regret when she sees him with his helmet off and rubbing his eyes. "That was a smart move." He says, "Smart, and a bit unexpected."

She worries her lip. She hadn’t meant to actually hurt him. "Are you okay?"

Iida shakes his head and puts his helmet back on. "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you for the concern, but I think it's more important that we get to our teammates and break up the fight."

Uraraka's already heading for the door. "Good idea."


-----


"Fucking say something, Deku!” Bakugou demands, throwing another blast Izuku’s way. “Where's all that bravado you had before?"

Izuku's forgone outright attacking. All of his efforts are going into avoiding hits and gaining distance. Which isn't easy, since for every foot he managed to put between them, Bakugou closed it with an explosion. There's a hallway corner coming up. If Izuku can get out of sight fast enough, then maybe he can hide, but if he tries, he'll leave himself open for another hit.

"Where's all that strength you had at the Quirk test, huh?" Bakugou demands, "You coward, use your fucking Quirk!"

As much as Izuku would love to do that, he can't. There's too many ways for it to go wrong. One for All will wreck his body, and Izuku really doesn't want to commit manslaughter by directing it at Bakugou

Uraraka comes in over the comm. She's out of breath, pausing between each handful of words. “Midoriya, I captured the bomb. Iida and I are heading down to help you against Bakugou.”

Izuku feels the pit of dread in his stomach deepen. “Uraraka, don’t-” he gets caught in an explosion and thrown across the room, cutting off whatever he was going to say.

Bakugou stalks closer as Izuku wobbles into an upright position. “Come on, Deku! Come at me!”

Izuku has to fight the nausea down as he clutches his stomach. Bakugou didn't hold anything back in that last hit. The blond is getting angrier, and Izuku makes it worse every time he avoids fighting back. He has to end this. Uraraka and Iida are on their way. Izuku can take the abuse that Bakugou likes to dish out, but the thought of his friend and a classmate taking it for his sake makes him sicker than a gut-shot ever can.

As if the universe loves to screw with him, voices can be heard behind Bakugou. He recognizes them as Iida and Uraraka.

"Bakugou, stop! The exercise is over, we've lost!" Iida yells, fighting with himself over wether or not to step in.

Uraraka has no such qualms. She rushes in and tries to help. Bakugou stands up, eyes her with disdain, and lifts a hand to send an explosion her way.

Now Izuku isn't sure why, but that's when he throws the previous no-maiming rule out the window.

The buzz of One for All makes his arm vibrate, every cell being filled to the brim and beyond. He's not close enough to make physical contact, but he thinks of what All Might did back at the slime incident. A shockwave was enough to send that slime villain splattering. All Izuku has to do is angle it so Bakugou's only caught in the edge of the shockwave. The blond's hand is getting closer and closer to Uraraka, but Izuku's fist is almost fully extended.

There's a loud "boom" when One for All releases, and Izuku watches as his arm flops with the recoil. The shockwave continues forward, the brunt of it misses Bakugou but it’s still strong enough to send him flying. The concrete wall across from Izuku crumbles from the force, and Bakugou's form is sent flying through to leave an indent on the adjacent room's wall. Izuku can't feel the pain in his arm. He can smell the dust from the concrete though his mask, hear his heart going a mile a minute, but he can't feel his arm.

Bakugou is about to get back up, and Izuku's preparing for another fight, when a huge shadow looms over him.

"Young Bakugou," Izuku can't see his expression, but All Might is definitely not happy. "You'll be sent to Principal Nedzu and receive treatment from Recovery Girl after young Midoriya." He leans down closer, "I would not recommend trying to continue this fight. Part of being a hero is knowing when you've lost." All Might holds out a hand, a clear invitation of assistance.

Bakugou gets up without taking the hand. He doesn't make eye contact with anyone as all five of them walk out of the building. Izuku winces with every step he takes, the pain's come back now. Well, at least Uraraka is keeping him distracted.

"It turned out to be a good idea to give me those flashbangs." She says, taking out one that she didn't use and handing it back. "Iida wasn't expecting it."

Iida, who's walking on the other side of Izuku, nods. "It was a sound strategy. Though I'm unsure of where she stored them, given the ah...nature of her costume."

Uraraka punches Iida playfully, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Izuku watches Iida splutter and Uraraka laugh in silence, content to just observe. He's seen so many people that can fake smiles as easy as breathing. Yet the two next to him are genuine. He doesn't know how long it's been since he's met genuine people. It's nice. Now if only his arm could stop hurting.

The AC of the building is nice, too, a soothing balm that washes over the sweaty group of teens. All Might escorts Bakugou out himself while the rest of the class rushes to Izuku.

"Holy shit man, are you okay?" Kirishima asks.

"Man, the way you handled Bakugou was freakin' awesome."

"You stayed rather calm the whole time."

"You were so cool!"

Uraraka makes a move to stand as a barrier between Izuku and the questioning classmates. "Hey, hey, give him some space!"

Iida joins in. His hand gestures alone make everyone take a few steps back. "Yes, Midoriya has been very hurt!"

Izuku scratches his head with his uninjured hand. "Uh, I'm fine for the most part. But All Might said I needed to go to the nurse for, um," he gestures to his arm, which hangs uselessly at his side. "This." He shrinks a bit when everyone looks at him with a face of disbelief.

“Dude,” Kaminari says, “Your arm is paste right now.”

Uraraka ignores the blond’s words and perks up, "I can come with you if you want, Midoriya."

Izuku wasn't expecting the offer, but appreciates it all the same. "Thanks, Uraraka, but I don't know if All Might would be okay with that." He makes his way to the door, "See you." He's surprised when the words are met with happy goodbyes from several other classmates. He gives a weak wave and exits.


-----


Today has been a Day, and Izuku is ridiculously happy when Recovery Girl keeps him at the nurse's office until school ends. Downside: he had the lecture of his life and most likely has a neon sign saying "I have a death wish!" on his back now. Bright side? His arm is no longer the result of a kindergartner getting ahold of the play-dough. Hooray.

Izuku munches on an orange slice Recovery Girl gave him ("getting your energy back is important, dearie!") when All Might walks in through the doors.

Izuku almost chokes on the piece of fruit. "All Might!" He coughs, swallowing the orange slice whole.

The hero poofs into his normal form and nods. "Hello Midoriya." he lifts a hand to muffle a cough, "Class just let out, I wanted to check up on you before you left. How's your arm?"

Izuku raises the appendage, which is now in a cast. "Peachy."

The response startles a laugh out of the pro hero. "You, my boy, seem to have a sass streak. Let me say that no one was expecting you to trash-talk young Bakugou like that. Myself included."

Izuku is struck with a realization and covers his face. "Oh my God, that was recorded."

"I was almost expecting Kirishima to ask for a copy." All Might laughs again. "Well, you've certainly made a lasting impression on your classmates. Who knows? Maybe you'll make some new friends."

Izuku doesn't really know how to adress the fact that All Might is sounding awfully like a parent, so he just ignores it. "I don't know. Besides Uraraka, there's not really anybody I can talk to without like, fifteen minutes of prep-time." He pops another orange slice into his mouth and offers the last piece to All Might. "Orange?"

All Might takes the offered fruit and chows down. "You have to make the effort, young Midoriya. Friends aren't going to fall out of the sky."

Yeah, sometimes you fall out of the sky and they're the one to stop you from splatting on the concrete. Izuku doesn't say this though, he just stands up and stretches. "Am I clear to go, Ma'am?" He asks Recovery Girl, rocking on the balls of his feet.

"Be careful, dear." The nurse bids him farewell, "Get a good night's rest and come back before first period so I can heal up the rest of your arm."

Izuku nods, "I will, thank you!" He turns back to All Might. "Walk me to the gates?" He tries to convey that he has a few questions with his eyes alone, and he's thankful that the hero catches his drift.

"Of course, my boy." The hero stands as well and bows to Recovery Girl. He lets out a tension in his shoulders once the doors close. "Out of all the heroes here, she's only second to principal Nedzu in terms of authority." He informs Izuku as they go down the hall. "It'd be best if you made an effort to stay on their good sides."

Izuku nods. "No more turning my limbs into pasta sauce, got it."

All might laughs again, and it's during this laugh that Izuku musters up the courage to squeeze a handful of words out of his mouth.

"Can you teach me how to use One for All?"

The hero stops in front of the entrance. Izuku can see the sky turning orange through the glass. Crap, he's gonna have to run back home to be in time for dinner. "What brought this on, my boy?"

"Well," Izuku fiddles with his fingers, but forces himself to bring his hands to his side. "I can't use it without hurting myself. And even if it's a last resort, breaking myself every time I use a power that's supposed to be mine won't do anyone any good." He looks up to All Might. "Did you hurt yourself the first time you used it?"

All Might looks from him to the outside, where the wind rustles the autumn leaves and the clouds drift aimlessly. "A few times." He admits, "but never to the extent you have." The hero rubs the back of his neck. "Look, kid, I'm not good at any of this teacher stuff. I can't explain how I got control of One for All because after a few tries I did it on instinct."

Izuku deflates, "I guess I should've figured-" he startles himself into silence when All Might's bony hand pats his shoulder.

"I wasn't finished." All Might says, much to Izuku's embarrassment. "Because while I don't know how I did it, it'd still be smart to have someone who understands the nature of One for All to help you." The smile on the hero's face turns a bit sheepish. "I guess I should've done that from the start."

Izuku lets a small flicker of hope spur into life. "So you'll-"

"Meet me at gym number three after school tomorrow, we'll start there." He holds a hand up, "Deal?"

Izuku high-fives All Might, excitement coursing through him. "Y-yeah, deal!" He opens the door and steps out. "See you tomorrow, All Might!" With that, he's off.

It's on the bus ride home that he realizes he left his backpack in class.

Chapter Text


Waking up early is never fun. Izuku rubs his eyes and gently sweeps Han off of his head. Getting up, he squints at the mirror and sighs when he sees white cat hair mixed with his own. He looks to Han, who's sitting on the bathroom counter and cleaning himself.

"I really wish you wouldn't sleep on my head." He tells the cat. "It's stupid how much of your hair I have to brush out." He fumbled with the brush handle, "Stupid cast." He mutters, switching the brush to his free hand. "Well, at least Recovery Girl is going to heal it today." Now that he thinks about it, it might be smart to get that done before he meets up with All Might at the gym. There's no telling what the hero might have in store.

Han doesn't reply besides lifting up his other paw and getting to work on that one.

When Izuku enters the kitchen, the stove is cold and the pantry's unopened. He sets out to fix that. Han loops through his legs as he breaks out a cast iron pan and a carton of eggs. It's a bit awkward with his cast limiting his movement, but he manages. Occasionally, between making sure the food doesn't burn, he crouches down to give his cat a quick pat.

It's not long before his mom walks in. "Goodness," she yawns, "I slept through my alarm. Sorry, sweetie."

Izuku flips the eggs, "It's fine, mom. I needed to practice my cooking anyways." He takes the skillet off the stove and dumps the omelette onto a plate he'd set out before he began. "Do you want hot sauce with yours, mom?"

His mom takes a seat at the kitchen table. "Just put it on the side, please." Han abandons Izuku's legs to leap into her lap. "Hello, Han." She greets, scratching the cat between his eyes. She's still petting Han when she asks, "You usually sleep until the last minute, is something happening today?"

Izuku plucks another egg from the carton and breaks it over the pan. "Not much." He's thankful that he's facing away from her, it's easier to hide his grimace. He still hasn't told her just how he passed the entrance exam, or the real reason he's wearing a cast. The feeling of guilt is not a pleasant one, it's oil dredging its way from his stomach to his heart, leaving an icky feeling wherever it goes.

It's not that he doesn't want to tell her, but it's more as to "how" he's supposed to do it. Mom is the first and only one to ever learn about notice-me-not - besides All Might. She knows that he has a Quirk. Somehow explaining that his ability to go unseen developed into monstrous, god-like strength is a bit harder than he originally thought it to be.

"Oh! I'm...uh." He struggles for an answer, trying to think of a conceivable way he could explain this. "You know how notice-me-not lets me go unseen." Oh God where is he going with this, "Well, i-it turns out that every time I used it, it stored up a bit of energy, and it's built up so much now that I can make shockwaves." He dumps his own omelette on yet another plate. Rinsing the pan off, he places it in the sink and grabs his breakfast to dig in. "I can't really control it yet," he says through a mouthful of eggs. "So All Might offered to help me get used to it since he has a similar Quirk."

Mom nods along, and Izuku is familiar with that look of worry on her face. "Well," she says, putting her fork down, "I'm glad that you're getting help to control it." She looks to him and smiles, "Just don't push yourself too hard, Izuku. I worry."

"I know, mom." He finishes his eggs and stands up. Grabbing his spare uniform - he'd left his backpack at school - he gives his mom a solid kiss to the cheek. "I'm heading out, love you!" He gives Han a goodbye pat and opens the door to start his daily journey.

Izuku is used to the early morning bustle, businessmen and women on their daily commute, a group of rowdy teenagers heading to school, little kids holding their mother's hand as they make their way to kindergarten. Everything has a quiet feel to it today, though. It's only an hour's difference, yet it's haunting how everything's shifted.

The sun hasn't greeted the streets with its shine, leaving everything in a cool shade of blue. There's a chill in the air, nipping at Izuku's cheeks as he walks to the bus stop. No one's there to wait with him as he sits on the bench, watching the few other early-birds go about their business across the street. From a glance, he can tell one person, a well-dressed lady wearing flats, has some sort of leg pain, if the slight limp on her left leg is any indication. A man's left his watch at home - he keeps looking to his wrist even though it's bare. And a student a bit older than Izuku is nursing a cup of coffee and looking dead inside.

Izuku continues to people-watch until the bus arrives. He boards, says a quick hello to the driver, and takes a seat near the back.

A few stops later and he's reached his destination. He hops off once the doors open and makes his way to the gates of Yuuei. Only to be greeted by a crowd of newspeople. They don't see him, thank God, they just chatter amongst themselves, waiting for someone to interview. Izuku recalls only using notice-me-not at max capacity around Bakugou, but he can't find any fault in doing it now. Talking to Uraraka was a bit of a challenge on a good day, he doesn't want to get asked questions by a complete stranger.

Thankfully, by now Izuku's mastered the art of slipping through a crowd. None of the reporters are aware of him as he slips past. He takes extra caution around the cameras, seeing as they were the only things that could see past notice-me-not at the moment. He reaches safety once his foot passes over the threshold of the school. Izuku can feel a wave of security wash over him looking back at the gate. This place was safe. No one can hurt him without having to get past the teachers; they're in a whole other league in terms of fighting prowess.

It's thirty minutes before the nurse's office is supposed to open, but Recovery Girl is nice enough to give him a quick kiss on the forehead and finish healing his arm. It takes a good handful of minutes to get the cast off, and Izuku's not sure if he'll be able to get the image of a kindly Recovery Girl wielding an electric saw out of his head. The nurse hands him a baggie of apple slices and tells him to be good before sending him on his way.

It takes a bit of navigation plus some help from an on-campus map for him to find gym number 3. He stares at the door for only a moment before taking a breath and pushing it open.

The first thing he notices is the space. The roof is thirty-five feet high with a few high-placed windows to filter the rising sun's light. To the far right of him, there are a few punching bags hanging from a pavilion structure that doubles as a second floor for more punching bags. There's a weight rack to the left, going from five to two-hundred pound dumbbell with a few barbells placed on a nearby rack. Next to that, there are yoga mats stacked neatly in a cubby.

Izuku spots All Might hanging near the water cooler. "Good morning." He greets, walking over to stand a few feet away from the hero. He notices bags underneath All Might's sunken eyes, and his hair looks like it hasn't met a comb today. "Are you alright?"

The hero waves off his concern."Yes, yes. Just haven't gotten my morning coffee yet." He claps his hands together. "Now, how about we get to it?"

Izuku, eager to get started, agreed with enthusiasm. "What first?"

All Might tosses a yoga mat to Izuku, taking one for himself. "We stretch. After that, we'll get started."

Fifteen minutes later, the two of them are properly stretched and ready to begin. "Try to activate One for All." All Might instructs, standing arms-distance from Izuku with his arms crossed.

Izuku closes his eyes and focuses. There's no real way to explain what One for All feels like, it can be so many things yet none of them. But if Izuku has to give it a shot, he'll say it's energy in it's purest form: buzzing, electric, and unable to be fully contained. He just has to focus on letting a bit of it out, because if he compares his current strength to a lake, he has to filter a cup of water from the ocean through a faucet.

Izuku can feel the instant he accesses the reserve of energy that is One for All. It's a jolt that runs through his whole body, electrifying every cell it touches and making them buzz. he opens his eyes and sees his arm glowing with energy, red lines crisscrossing his limb and converging at the middle of the back of his hand.

"Good, now try to turn it off."

Izuku blinks. "Huh?"

"Think of it like this," All Might begins, "you're about to hit your opponent when they suddenly dodge. To reduce collateral, you'll have to send the energy you summoned back to the reserve. Fighting villains isn't all there is to being a hero, my boy."

Izuku doesn't reply. Instead, he closes his eyes and tries to do as he's told. In his head, he's imagining a silhouette - his silhouette - with his right arm lit up with One for All's energy. He has to get the energy to go back, but how? There's no real way to do that, unless he figures out how to make a faucet suck water back in. Maybe he's overthinking it. He just has to disperse the energy in a way that doesn't hurt him, but how?

An idea pops into his head. Right now, One for All is concentrated in his right arm, if he distributes the energy around the rest of his body, there's a decent chance he'll get out unharmed. Right now, Izuku will take any chance he can get.

He can feel the way one for all starts to circulate his system, and it's a split second of surprise that makes him lose control.

There's a crack as his fingers break. Though considering he had One for All in his entire right limb, Izuku thinks himself lucky it isn't any worse. Compared to the agony from the entrance exam, the painful throbbing from his digits was almost ignorable.

He holds his right wrist with his left hand, keeping his broken fingers from moving too much. "Well," he says, staring from his fingers to All Might, "that could have gone better." He's then struck with a grim realization. "Recovery Girl is gonna kill me."


------


Recovery Girl doesn't actually kill him, though it takes a remarkable amount of self-restraint for her to refrain. Instead, she settles for lecturing All Might every moment she's not telling Izuku to have another piece of fruit. Izuku manages to escape only because he has class in five minutes. He mouths "good luck" to All Might before disappearing past the door.

He changes clothes in the bathroom and hurries through the halls. Nobody would notice him if he was late, probably, but he still doesn't want to risk it. The door slides open without a sound and he steps in.

His bag is where he left it before, undisturbed, and for that, he's grateful. The rest of the class is already there, talking amongst themselves in little groups. Izuku can still feel the hum of notice-me-not, which means that he's still unnoticeable. Walking on the balls of his feet as to make as little sound as possible, he slips into his seat and unzips his bag to pull out his school things. All the while, he keeps tabs on notice-me-not and wether he can still feel it activated.

Nobody notices him until Aizawa shuffles in to take roll call and start first period. "Midoriya Izuku?" The teacher says, looking from the paper to Izuku's seat.

Izuku raises a hand half-heartedly. "Here." He shrinks into his seat a bit when everyone's heads whip to him.

"Woah, man, when did you get here?" Kirishima exclaims, leaning over his desk to get a bit closer to Izuku. "Are you a ninja or something?"

"Or something." Izuku agrees, awkward smile in place. He isn't expecting the wave of laughter that comes from his answer. It's different from all the years he's had people laughing at him, these people are laughing with him.

"Settle down." Aizawa says, thuroughly unimpressed by everyone's mirth. "Let's get on with roll call. Bakugou Katsuki?"

There's an explosion from behind Izuku. "Yeah, I'm here." The blond growls, boring his eyes into Izuku's back.

Izuku does his best to ignore the heat in the stare. He turns to Uraraka. "What did I miss yesterday?"

His friend lights up. "Not much, but All Might said that you and Iida were tied for the MVP of our exercise!"

Izuku blinks. "Really?"

Iida, who's sitting two seats away, pipes in. "Yes. According to All Might, I displayed a decent amount of foresight in removing everything that Uraraka could use from the room Bakugou and I placed the bomb." He makes a hand gesture to Izuku. "And you, you kept my team's heavy hitter occupied while your teammate went to deal with me. And while you did end up damaging the structural integrity of the building, you only did so to protect your teammate and myself."

Izuku hadn't been expecting to be the MVP of, well, anything. He rubs the back of his head in an attempt to expend nervous energy. "Well, you did a really good job yourself, IIda. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have won if you and Bakugou stayed together."

Iida adjusts his glasses. "Still, I find myself feeling rather guilty for my teammate's disorderly conduct."

Well, that's one way to describe Bakugou.

"And I wish for you to know that I sincerely regret not stepping in, both during the entrance exam and this exercise. I still have much to learn about being a hero."

Izuku waves his hands wildly about. "No no no, it's fine! You don't have to apologize!"

"I do, Midoriya." Iida presses, "It isn't fair to have you keep stepping in to fix a mistake I wasn't aware I was making."

"I- well-" an idea strikes Izuku. "Well, you can make it up by sitting with me and Uraraka at lunch today."

Uraraka sees what he's doing and runs with it. "Yeah! All's forgiven, right?"

Iida, thank God, seems to accept the offer. "Well, if that's your only requirement, I'd be happy to oblige."

"Hey, fuckers." Bakugou snaps, "Stop giggling with one another and pay attention!"

Izuku squeaks in fear and whips his head to the front of the class.

Aizawa's written "class president votes" in bold letters on the board. It doesn't take too much detective work to figure out what's happening. The teacher gives slips of paper to a classmate to distribute them amongst the students. Izuku stares at his piece of paper, tapping his pencil on the desk as he goes through his options. Aizawa did say that students could vote for themselves, but Izuku just doesn't have the self-confidence to do so. He looks to Iida, who's already submitted his vote, and makes his decision.


-----


Izuku is now very much doubting the judgement capabilities of his classmates.

"Congrats on winning, Midoriya!" Uraraka congratulates him, patting his back as they make their way to the cafeteria. Izuku doesn't reply besides a weak groan. "Oh, come on, you'll do fine! There's a reason you got the majority of the votes, you know."

"If there is, I don't know it." Izuku replies with complete honesty. "I'll grab us a seat, you go and get in line before it gets too long."

Uraraka punches Izuku's shoulder a bit harder than usual. "Fine, but don't think Imma let you put yourself down like that." She vanishes amongst the crowd of students. "See you!"

Izuku, now confident that no one is paying attention to him, activates notice-me-not and moves through the growing crowd. He finds a great view at the table next to a row of windows looking out to the main entrance. Sitting down, he takes out his lunchbox and takes his food out. Mom's been testing out new recipes, and Izuku's eager to try a few of her spicy rice balls.

he spots Iida after eating one out of three rice balls his mom packed. He swallows his mouthful, deactivates notice-me-not, and waves the other teen over.

"Hello, Midoriya." The bespectacled teen greets. "Congratulations on being voted class president."

Izuku fights down his embarrassed blush and smiles. "Thanks, Iida." He gestures to the seat across from him, a gesture that his classmate takes with grace. "It's a nice day out." Izuku comments, looking back to the window and staring wistfully outside. He'd be much more confortable if he could feel the chilly breeze instead of see it tug leaves off of the non-evergreen trees.

"It is." Iida agrees, taking a bite of his food. "It's a shame we don't have many outside classes."

Uraraka takes a seat before Izuku can say anything in reply. "Hi, Iida!" She greets with a smile.

Iida gives her a cordial nod. "Hello to you as well, Uraraka."

She sticks her tongue out, "Hey, we're friends now, no need to be so formal!"

Iida coughs, adjusting his glasses. "Of course. I apolo- sorry" he corrects himself mid-sentence when Uraraka points a finger at him.

Izuku's content to listen to their banter. Taking another bite of his rice ball, he looks back outside, out to the gate. He only registers what he's seeing a split second before alarms begin to blare across the cafeteria.

"What's going on?" A first year demands.

"It's the level three alarm - there's an intruder on campus!"

While the rest of the students are worked up into a panic, Izuku continues to stare at the scene outside. The gate, which had previously been a solid sheet of metal almost six feet thick, was now a pile of dust. He can see the tail end of a crowd of reporters barging into the building. What kind of newsperson has a Quirk like that?

No, it's not the newspeople that disintegrated the gate. Izuku pries his eyes from the school entrance to scan outside school grounds. He's almost frantic in the way he searches, and it's only through years of people-watching that he's able to spot the dark figure leaning in an alley. The placement allows too perfect a viewing angle of Yuuei for it to be a coincidence. Izuku feels a shiver run up his spine as he watches the figure. This person is dangerous, but how dangerous? Can his Quirk work on living things? Or just inanimate objects? Izuku's not sure he wants to find out.

He's not swept up in the chaos of the panicking students. He sticks to the window and keeps watching the figure. It's not long before the suspect gives up interest and turns away, walking into the shadows and disappearing from sight.

Something about the whole thing leaves a nauseous feeling in Izuku's stomach. This is a callout, someone wants the staff of Yuuei to know something. But what? It could always be some group the school hired to test the defenses, but why would they stop at the entrance? No, this was unexpected. An outside force wants Yuuei to know that its defenses aren't impenetrable. Izuku goes to next period with a sour taste in his mouth.


-----


In the end, Iida's the one voted class president. His conduct in getting all the other students organized made it a landslide decision. Izuku's just happy that he's not the president anymore. Too much responsibility, too many eyes on him.

"Congrats, Iida, you deserve it more than me." Is all Izuku says when the teen apologizes for taking the position. "I don't mind at all, I'm just glad someone like you has the position."

The bespectacled teen bows, "Thank you, it is relieving to hear such words from a friend."

"We-we're friends?" Izuku doesn't mean for the words to come out rude. He covers his face with his hands. "Ah, sorry, that came out wrong, I-"

"If you would allow me the privilege," Iida cut in, the tiniest of smiles on his face, "I would very much like to be your friend, Midoriya."

"S-sure!" Is all Izuku can peep out. His voice is a few octaves higher than normal.

Uraraka laughs, clapping her hands together. "The exam wonder duo has become a trio!" She cheers, "Welcome to the team, Iida!"

The dismissal bell rings, and Izuku makes sure he has his backpack this time before he heads out with his friends. Friends, plural. He smiles as he listens to the chatter of the people on either side of him. Not a week in and he now has two friends. High school is going great. Yet his happiness leaks out when they exit the gate. The dust was swept up hours ago, but Izuku can still feel remnants sting the inside of his nose. He looks to his left, where he spotted the suspect.

He stops in his tracks. "Hey, guys? You can go ahead without me, I need to ask a teacher something."

The two other teens didn't take it as a sign something was wrong, so they left after a quick goodbye. Izuku waits until they've turned the corner before he sets out for the alleyway. Notice-me-not is up within seconds, and he crosses the street as quietly as he can.

It's been at least three hours since lunchtime, but he can still see the distinguished footprints of dust. Izuku tip-toes around them as to not disturb the evidence. He takes out his phone and snaps a few photos. Keeping the device in hand, he follows the trail.

It's near the dead-end of the alley that the prints vanish. It could have been that the dust on the sole of the shoe had worn off, but the last set of footprints hadn't shown any signs of fading. Izuku runs his hands across the walls. They come back dustless. So he couldn't go forward, didn't go up, and couldn't go down. He's in the middle of brainstorming ideas when his phone comes to life in his hands.

"Hi mom!" He says, holding the phone to his cheek with a hand as he hurries out of the alley. "What's up?"

"Hi, Izuku!" His mom's staticky voice comes in over the phone. "I scheduled an appointment with the doctor after you left for school."

Izuku's now on the sidewalk, avoiding other people with practiced ease. "Really? Why?"

"Well, when you described letting out stored up energy from your Quirk, I got a bit concerned."

Izuku's lips pull into a thin line. "Is it Dr Yogisha?"

"Well, he was the one to diagnose you as Quirkless," his mom says. Izuku imagines her fiddling with her fingernails. "I know you didn't want to let anyone know about your Quirk, but this could be really serious, honey."

Izuku forces himself to take a deep breath. " I know mom. Talk about this when I get home?"

"Of course, I love you."

"Love you too, mom. Bye." He presses a button and ends the call. Pocketing the phone, Izuku drags a hand down his face. "Of all the people to go have my doctor's appointment with." It does make sense, though. Everyone and their mother has had dr. Yogisha diagnose their Quirk. If someone in Musatafu has trouble with their Quirk, they go to him. Yet the feeling of unease persists.

Well, it's for his mom. Izuku will just have to suck it up and deal with it. He's used to that, anyways.


-----


The doctors office Izuku steps into with his mother is greatly different from the one in his memory. Lifeless gray walls have been painted over with bright green hills and nauseatingly blue skies. There's a few kiddy chairs in the lobby, along with a few toys littered about for the kids to entertain themselves.

Izuku sits on the hippo seat as his mom checks him in. Taking out his phone, he tries his best to ignore his surroundings. There's a text from Uraraka. Iida, too.


Received 4:30 pm.
Sender: Uraraka

Hey Midoriya! There's a movie playing at 7 tonight at the mall, wanna come? I'm tryin to get Iida to come too but he's being boooring and saying we see some documentary instead.

Received 4:31 pm.
Sender: Iida

Uraraka has invited me to see a movie with the two of you. I will accept, of course, but I think that watching a documentary will be a much more educational way to spend our free time.


A smile tugs at Izuku's lips. He taps the two contact names and creates a group chat.


Sent 4:32 pm
Hey guys! Thought it'd be smart to make a gc for us. I'm game to see a movie, but idk if they're playing any documentaries.

Received 4:32 pm
Sender: Uraraka
omg great idea! Okay so I chose that new action movie that came out a week ago,
Bring money for snacks.

 

"Midiorya Izuku?" The man at the front desk calls. Izuku pockets his phone before he can type a reply and walks up to the desk with his mother. The desk worker takes a look at him and nods to himself. "Doctor Yogisha will see you now." He gestures to the door to Izuku's left. "Please step through the door so your height and weight can be measured."

Izuku is 166 centimeters and weighs heavier than he did in his last appointment. Muscle weighs more than fat, but even with that knowledge he's still surprised by just how many pounds he's gained.

Izuku swings his legs as he sits on the cushioned examination table. His mom's sitting to the side, cracking open a book and getting lost in the pages. The last time he was here, his life was seemingly ruined. Deemed without a Quirk, he'd left this place broken and sad. "Oh how the times have changed." He whispers to himself.

The door swings open, and Izuku is greeted with the bushy face of the man that'd condemned him. Dr Yogisha smiles, though the gesture is lost since his mustache hides his mouth. "Well, if I didn't have my glasses on, I'd say I was seeing things! You're a lot bigger than you were when you were four, young man."

Izuku smiles, his lips drawn thin. "Hello, Dr Yogisha."

The doctor nods, going to the computer at the work desk and typing in the password. "Now, your mother said the strangest thing to me over the phone. She said that you were having trouble with a new development in your Quirk."

His mom had put away her book the moment the doctor came in the room. "Yes sir, I did. You see-" She cuts herself off, looking to Izuku. "Well, I think it'd be best to have Izuku tell you himself."

Izuku closes his eyes and breathes. "I noticed my Quirk when I was six. A man was robbing the grocery store mom was shopping in. I knocked a glass jar over and broke it, but the robber didn't notice me."

Dr Yogisha's glasses glinted as he leaned close in interest. "And that's when you first took note of your Quirk? Were there any instances beforehand that suggested you had a Quirk?"

Izuku thinks back to when Bakugou would walk right past his hiding spot, even if he was clearly in the blond's line of sight. How he could zone out in class and not get called out by even the strictest of teachers. "No."

The rest of the appointment continues on much the same note. Dr Yogisha will ask a question, and Izuku will do his best to keep as much information to himself as possible. He omits the fact that tech can see through notice-me-not, and doesn't mention the requirements for being seen at all.

He can't explain it without sounding crazy, but there's something off about the doctor. He's a bit too eager to ask questions, and his fascination with each answer only makes Izuku more suspicious.

"And you told your mother that there's been a new development?" Dr Yogisha puts his pen down to focus fully on Izuku.

Izuku's been reciting the lie in his head throughout the entire school day. He says it without a stumble or stutter. For the most part, it seems like the doctor believes him.

"Hmm, that's quite a development." Dr Yogisha says, pinching the edge of his mustache with a hand. "You haven't eaten anything weird recently, have you?"

Izuku remembers the morning of the exam. Specifically, All Might giving him a piece of hair and telling him to eat it. "No, I haven't."

"Well," The doctor scribbles on a note and tears it off to hand to his mom. "Until I can do some proper tests, I'm not too sure what can be done."

The last thing Izuku wants is that. "Actually, I had a teacher offer to help a few days ago." he blurts out.

The doctor clicks his tongue. "Ah, that's right, you got into Yuuei, didn't you. I heard that All Might was teaching there."

Something about the way Dr Yogisha says it makes Izuku wish Han was with him. Where Izuku's sense of reading people does have it's flaws, Han can do it without error. "Yeah, he teaches my heroics course." He feigns looking at his phone and acting shocked at the time. "Hey, mom, I gotta go soon, I promised I'd see a movie with my friends." Thank you, Uraraka.

His mom blinks. "You do?" He nods his head. "Oh! Well, I'm sure we can schedule another appointment later." She hurries to gather up her things. If he didn't know any better, Izuku would say that his mom's more ecstatic than he is. It's getting him out of the doctor's office though, so he isn't complaining. He gives one last wave to Dr Yogisha before closing the door with a bit more force than necessary.


-----


The movie ends up being okay. What really makes the night special is Uraraka floating pieces of candy into her mouth, or how Iida would quietly lecture them about the actual probability of landing a stunt on screen. In that night alone, Izuku laughs more than he has in months.

Another unseen benefit is that it takes his mind off of his appointment with Dr Yogisha. He laughs, he eats popcorn, he acts like a teenager. For once in his life, Izuku feels a bit closer to normal.

"That movie was so cool!" Uraraka cheers as they exit the theatre. "That was so worth my monthly savings!"

Iida pushes his glasses back into place. "I agree, even if the stunts were grossly improbable." He looks to Izuku. "What did you think, Midoriya?"

Izuku startles, "Oh, uh, I thought it was really cool, too." Come on, he can do better than that. "I liked how they made the main character a bit more complicated than the usual action hero." There we go.

"It's nice to have a bit of variety in those kinds of movies." Uraraka agrees. The three of them sit down at a bus stop. "Thanks for coming, guys. I know that I just kinda sprang it on you."

"Not at all," Iida says, "I rather enjoyed the change of pace. My brother has been saying that I need to go out more, anyways."

Izuku nods his head. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure my mom was happier than I was. I, uh, I didn't have a lot of friends back in middle school."

"Well I don't see why, you're a really cool guy, Midoriya." Uraraka punches Izuku's shoulder, then Iida. "The exam wonder trio has to stick together, right?"

The three of them smile like they're sharing a secret. The bus arrives and they load in, joking all the way to their stops.

In the end, Izuku is the last one on the bus, his stop being the furthest away. Sitting in his seat, he takes out his phone and opens his photo gallery. He stares at the dusty footprints. They'd be long gone by now, scuffed by foot traffic. Izuku looks at the picture and can't help but feel that it's the beginning of something, and not something good.

When he gets home, he hugs his mom, pets his cat, and goes to his room to redesign his hero outfit. Nothing major, little changes to optimize notice-me-not and his defensive capabilities. He might be overthinking it, but there's no such thing as too careful. He hopes he's wrong.

Chapter Text


The next day, he goes to train with All Might again, except the hero isn't alone. Izuku was about to open his mouth to greet his teacher, but the sight of All Might cowering under a man a fourth of his height makes Izuku pause.

He's old, thats the first thing Izuku notices. Scowl lines run deep near the mystery man's mouth. His hair is gray, a color that clashes with the near obnoxious yellow of his outfit- is that a cape? Izuku isn't sure, he's not close enough to tell. Cautiously, he creeps closer.

The older man sniffs in disdain. "When did you say this brat was gonna show up, Toshinori?"

Was that All Might's name? Izuku shakes his head. That isn't important right now. He gets a little bit closer. The mystery man's costume is leaving a niggling sensation in the back of his head. He's seen it before, maybe a long time ago, but he's seen it. Where? He has to be one of the older heroes, one that came before All Might-

The name clicks in his head. "Gran Torino." He whispers. One of the more successful heroes before All Might's debut, he was able to move faster than any hero in his time.

Despite old age, it seems that Gran's hearing hasn't failed any. The old man's head whipped to Izuku, who startles at such a sudden movement. "When did you get in here?" The retired hero demands, holding his cane out at Izuku like a weapon.

All Might hurries to stand between them. Izuku can see that the hero is shaking. "Gran Torino," the trembling carried into his voice, too, "This is my successor, Midoriya Izuku."

Izuku swallows his (possibly justified) anxiety and steps from behind All Might. "Hello, sir." Izuku says, holding his hand out and bowing his head. "I'm sorry for surprising you. It's a...habit, of sorts."

Gran Torino eyes him up and down, Izuku resists the urge to shuffle his feet. "That Quirk of yours, the one besides One for All, it lets you go unnoticed?"

Izuku looks up, his hand still held out. "Ah, yes. I call it notice-me-not. Of course, I don't know the full specifics of it but-" he yelps when the old hero's cane whacks him over the head.

"First things first," Gran Torino says, crossing his arms, "We're going to find out the limitations of your original Quirk. You're planning to use it alongside One for All, right?"

Wordlessly, Izuku nods, still rubbing his head.

"Then it'd be a crying shame to have you get spotted when you want to be unseen." Gran Torino looks around, grumbling. "Tell me honestly, kid. You know how to throw a punch?"

Izuku looks to All Might, then to Gran again. "Ah, no. Not a proper one, at least."

The old hero scoffs. "Of course you don't. Well, here's what's gonna happen, kid. Pay attention, cause I'm not gonna repeat myself."

Izuku leans in close, so does All Might.

"You're gonna learn how to throw some proper punches and kicks. After that, we're gonna test your original Quirk - see what it can and can't do." The hero cracks his neck, Izuku flinches at the sound. "Then, and only then, am I gonna help you with One for All. Capeesh?"

Izuku nods his head frantically. "Yes, sir."

Gran huffs, "Well, at least your student's got more manner than you did at that age."

All Might hurries to agree, Izuku can still see minute trembling in the hero's body. "Yes, sir. Understood."

What did Gran Torino do to make the number one Hero of all Japan so scared of him? Izuku isn't sure if he wants to find out.

"Well, kid?" Gran demands, tapping his foot impatiently. "No dillydallying! Lets get to work!"

Izuku has a bad feeling that he'll find out anyways.


-----


Izuku's damn near thankful for first period when it comes. Not even eight in the morning and he was craving a nap. Old he may be, but Gran Torino doesn't let a pesty thing like age get in the way of being a cruel task master. Izuku'd spent the entire practice session turning notice-me-not on and off, seeing what'll get him noticed and what'll fly under the radar. So far, he hasn't learned anything he didn't already know. Gran Torino had clapped him on the shoulder and said "not half bad". Seeing that All Might was sighing in relief behind the retired hero, Izuku had decided to take it as a compliment.

Notice-me-not is still thrown around him as he enters the classroom, and this time, Uraraka doesn't see him until he taps her elbow. She looks up and shoots him a grin. "Good morning, Midoriya!"

"Hey, Uraraka." He mumbles back, taking his seat and toying with a mechanical pencil.

Iida appears in his line of sight. "Hello, Midoriya. I hope that you had a good night."

Izuku scratches at his head. "Yeah, my stop wasn't too far away from yours, so I still got home before nine thirty. How'd you sleep?"

They keep talking like that for a bit, and Izuku can feel himself falling into a comfortable little niche with his friends. Then Aizawa walks in and they have to quiet down. Even so, Izuku's mind is on more pressing matters than algebra. Specifically, he's thinking about his hero costume and what he can do to make it better. The flashbangs proved to be just as useful as he expected - case in point, the hero vs villain battle - but what else could he add? Until he gets a better handle on One for All, he's going to have to make do with his little knowledge of martial arts, notice-me-not, and the arsenal he stocks himself with. Which made planning his costume at least ten times more important - he can't learn to control One for All if he's dead.

He wonders if they'll let him have a taser.

The lunch bell rings as he's pondering the pros and cons of having more flashbangs. He grabs his stuff just like everyone else, but instead of going towards the cafeteria, he makes for the open courtyard. He takes a deep breath of the afternoon air and finds an empty picnic table. He shoos away a bird perched on it and takes a seat, pulling out his lunchbox while he's at it.

His phone buzzes.


Received: 12:30 pm
Sender: Uraraka

Where are u?


Ah, he didn't tell them where he was going. Taking another bite of lunch, he types a reply.


Sent: 12:31 pm
I'm outside on one of the picnic tables


Received 12:31 pm
Sender: Uraraka

Ok but why??


Sent: 12:32 pm
The cafeteria's a bit loud. I try to avoid loud areas when I can


He regrets the text as soon as it's sent. Loud noises have always put Izuku on edge, especially if he's crowded, but having a friend know that such a trivial thing bothered him? He'd rather sit in the cafeteria. Two minutes later, Uraraka hasn't sent a reply. Turns out she doesn't have to.

"Midoriya!" A cheery, familiar voice calls. Izuku's head whips up to spot Uraraka and Iida heading his way. "Sorry it took so long to get out here, Iida wanted to get some salad and the line took forever." She draws out the last word for extra effect as she plops down next to him.

"Waiting a minute longer to get healthy food isn't very long." Iida says, taking a seat across from them.

Izuku pauses, staring at his two friends like they're from another world. "You guys didn't have to come out with me, you know."

Uraraka swallowed her mouthful of food. "But then you would be alone. Why wouldn't we want to eat with a friend?"

"Besides," Iida says, looking out to the scenery around them. "Taking a break from being inside is always a good idea."

Izuku stares at his food. "Yeah, that's a good point."

Uraraka playfully shoved him. "Don't look so sad, Midoriya! We wanted to come out here, it's no problem."

"If the teachers have a problem with us eating out here, they will come and tell us." Iida adds, "I prefer your and Uraraka's company over the cafeteria, anyways."

Izuku swallows, he doesn't know why there's a lump in his throat. "Thanks, guys." He puts down his fork and watches the trees. A nest isn't too far from where they're sitting, Izuku can see a little bird perched in it. It occurs to him that he hasn't tried to draw wildlife in a while.

There's a pencil in his pocket, and he always keeps a spare notebook in his backpack. Taking the paper out, he opens to the first blank page he can find and begins to sketch. The bird looks like some sort of sparrow, but Izuku can't say for certain. He's just gotten the shape of the bird's beak right when he notices that he has an audience.

"That looks amazing, Midoriya!" Uraraka exclaims, standing up to get a better look.

"It's upside down for me, but I agree." Izuku shyly hands Iida the notebook, "Ah, it looks even better upright."

Izuku can feel his cheeks burning at the praise. "I- thanks." He gently takes back his notebook.

"Now I wish we had art class." Uraraka says, "I'd kill to see more of your drawings."

"Please don't." Are the first words to blurt out of Izuku's mouth.

Both Uraraka and Iida laugh, Izuku smiles cautiously. "Nah, I wouldn't actually kill someone." Uraraka says, waving a hand. "But if it was Bakugou...." she lets the sentence peter off, a borderline savage smirk in place. "Well, I'm sure I'd find a way."

Izuku lets Iida lecture her about the morality of murdering a classmate and goes back to doodling. In all honesty, he isn't all that used to people so willing to defend him. No one, not even the teachers, have tried before. It's a nice change of pace.

A flash of red in his peripheral catches his eye. Looking to his right, he can see Todoroki taking a seat on a bench under a tree. Izuku hasn't seen him all that often outside of class, so it comes as a surprise. Is this where he disappears to outside of class? The sense of intrusion that washes over Izuku is near overwhelming. But then he recalls how good it feels to actually have people to talk to, and comes up with an idea.

All he has to do is stand up, walk over to Todoroki, and invite him to their table. Simple enough in theory, near impossible in practice. Keep in mind that this is Izuku who's trying to do it, and he has the self-confidence of a soggy peanut.

Time takes away his opportunity, anyways. The bell rings across campus, signaling the end of first lunch. Todoroki stands up from the bench and packs his things up with little hassle.

Izuku's startled out of his observing by a teasing elbow. "Looking at some eye-candy?" Uraraka asks, sly smirk on her face.

"No!" Izuku exclaims on instinct, "I mean- I wasn't-"

Uraraka laughs. "Relax, Midoriya. Pretty much everybody in our class can appreciate Todoroki's looks, even if he does act a bit cold."

Izuku tries to shove his embarrassment down with little success. "Yeah."

Iida, who was listening the entire time, stands. "Stop teasing Midoriya, Uraraka, we'll be late to class."

"Oh, shoot. You're right!" The next four minutes are a flurry of movement, packing their things in record time and rushing back to class. They make it right as the bell rings, and excluding the side-eye the three of them get from Aizawa, no one comments on it.

Going back to his seat, Izuku spots Todoroki. It's due to absolute horrible timing that he looks right as the other teen is looking at him. Their eyes meet for the briefest of seconds, then Izuku's mind goes back to what Uraraka said and he's quick to look away. His cheeks are tingling.


-----


Trying to not be put on a government watchlist is a lot harder than Izuku first thought. He tries to keep his reasearch to government-sanctioned websites, but the information they offer on registered villains is spotty at best and downright vague at worst. It doesn't help that he's looking for a specific Quirk. Not many people can disintegrate things, yet no one fitting his description is on the lists. Then again, he's only working with a possible Quirk and a shoe size.

Izuku sighs, putting his head in his hands. Han leaps up from the floor to butt his head against Izuku's.

"Thanks, Han." Izuku mumbles, sparing a hand to scratch under his cat's chin. Han leans into the hand, rumbling a purr. "It just doesn't make any sense." He tells the cat, "There's nothing here, not even a bare description. I can't hack into the government, mainly because that's illegal, but also because I can't hack. So what can I do?"

Han, being a cat, doesn't reply. He does, however, move over to the window and meow.

It's such a small thing, but it makes an epiphany go off in Izuku's head. "Han," he says, standing and picking up his cat to stare him in the face. "You're a genius."

Han bops him on the nose.


-----


Izuku's feet barely make a sound as he walks under the dim streetlights. He brings his jacket tighter around him and feels a brief moment of gratitude that his mom told him to bring gloves. She'd told him to be safe and come right home from the pet-store. What she doesn't know is that Han's food bag is near full, hidden in Izuku's closet to back up his little lie. The bitter taste of lying to his mom makes Izuku grimace.

It's not a long walk to the shadier parts of town, Izuku isn't sure wether or not that's a good thing. The buzz of notice-me-not hums a tune of familiarity and comfort as he takes a breath and turns into the first alley.

There are two other people in the alley, both hooded and one handing some sort of package to the other. Izuku quickly recognizes that a drug deal is going on and plants himself to the wall. He doesn't so much as breathe until the two depart from the alley. He waits until their footsteps fade to move again. Okay, first try at recon and he walks into a drug deal. He'll say he's off to a pretty good start.

It takes two more alleys before Izuku stumbles across something substantial. Good timing, too, because it's the last one he can go into before his mom starts to worry. Two people stand close together, chatting as Izuku sneaks in, watching his step for anything underfoot. Izuku opts to nickname the first one "Punk", both because of his clothes, which are mostly leather, and the fact that he's blocking Izuku's view of the second person. Doesn't matter, he can still hear them.

"You sure that they're legit?" Punk asks, leaning on one leg as he puts his hands in his pockets. "Cause there's a lot of shit that could go wrong if they're not."

"They're the real deal." The unseen person says, Izuku thinks that it's a girl from the tone. "Saw their base n' everything. We gonna go through with it?"

Punk scratches the side of his head, humming, "Not like we have a choice, business' been slow."

Izuku, now thoroughly interested, creeps a bit closer. A base of some sorts and a 'business', the fact that they're in a dark alley only makes it more suspicious. He just might've found something to work with tonight. Which is of course right when his concentration lapses and he scuffs a can down the alley. The cheap aluminum clatters across the concrete, echoing like a gunshot in the quiet of the alley.

Punk whips around, eyes wide and hand holding a butterfly knife. Izuku freezes. He doesn't move. He doesn't speak. He doesn't even dare to breathe, not with the guy being a meter away and looking right past him. The girl behind Punk peers past her friend's midsection. Izuku can barely make out a hair color, much less what her face looks like.

"I thought you said you weren't followed." The girl hisses at Punk. "If they find out that we got spied on, we're dead, you hear me? Dead."

"I know that. Shut up." Punk growls back, taking a step forward and holding his knife in front of him. If Izuku leaned, the tip would scratch his cheek.

The powerful thrum of One for All vibrates in the vestiges of Izuku's body, a silent suggestion made by his subconscious. It would work, too. Neither of the two know he's there, he'll catch them fully off guard if he decides to attack. Yet the thought of mangled limbs and red stains on the concrete both deter him from the thought and bring a wave of nausea. No one's going to die tonight, at least, Izuku hopes so.

A handful of tense moments, and Punk puts away the butterfly knife. "Probably some stupid cat." The man grumbles. "Let's get outta here." He says to his friend, turning around and walking into the shadows.

Izuku hurries out of the alley and throws up in a trash can. He wipes his mouth, coughing up the last amounts of rancid bile. He never wants to do that again, but he'll have to if we wants to make any more progress. Izuku spits on the concrete and goes home, planning on a long shower and a mouthful of mouth wash. He freaking deserves it.


-----


Izuku submits his new designs for his hero costume the next day. Apparently, it's good timing, because before first period even begins, Aizawa tells the class about the USJ trip. Izuku's new suit is going to come in a single day before they go.

There's three days until the trip. In those days, Izuku hangs out with his friends, does his homework, walks the criminal-infested alleys near his home, and watches crap tv with his mom while Han purrs in his lap.

The one thing that stays the same is lunch. Every day, he and his friends have eaten outside. Every day, Todoroki is there, sitting alone under the tree. Izuku's lived almost his entire school life in isolation, he knows loneliness like no one else. Todoroki, while often deadpan and quiet, sometimes gets a wistful look in his eye when he sees people talking to each other. Not that Izuku had been staring, of course.

Even with this newfound solidarity in loneliness, Izuku still hasn't mustered up the courage to talk to Todoroki. He tells himself that he'll do it, but nothing ever comes of it, he always chokes. Before Izuku knows it, the day of the USJ has come.

Everyone is already wearing their costumes when they load into the bus. There's no real change to Izuku's costume beyond some new pockets and fingerless gloves. Even so, it doesn't stop Uraraka from gushing over him.

"Those gloves are so cool, Midoriya!" She grabs his hand and holds it out, splaying his fingers to observe where the fabric ends and his digits begin. "I need to get a pair for my costume, too."

Asui leans forward in her seat. "Those are pretty practical, Midoriya." She brings her own gloved hand up, clenching and unclenching. "There are more for balance when I jump."

"My Quirk doesn't really let me wear gloves," Kirishima adds, lifting a hardened arm to demonstrate. "But yours are really cool, man, very manly!"

For all the talking he's been doing with Uraraka and Iida, it doesn't really prepare him for talking to people that aren't them. "Th-thanks. Your costume looks really manly, too." Izuku's lips draw into a thin line and he stares out the window across from him. He wishes he could activate notice-me-not and just vanish until they got to the USJ. It would make the chances of shoving his foot in his mouth a lot less likely. Why does he open his mouth?

But Kirishima doesn't react the way Izuku is expecting him to. The redhead clenches a fist close to his chest, Izuku can see tears in the other teen's eyes. "Returning a compliment with a compliment...so manly..."

That's when Mina jumps into the conversation. "You're kinda cool, Midoriya, didya know that?"

Izuku's face somehow gets redder as he splutters for an answer.

Too late, Asui speaks up. "You have a much more agreeable personality than Bakugou over there." He juts at thumb at the blond in question and Izuku just about has a heart attack.

"Shut up you loser!" Bakugou snaps, grabbing the hand rail in front of him and leaning forward. On Izuku, the gesture would have made him cower, but Asui doesn't even look back at him.

"See?"

"Bakugou's got a real temper on him," Kaminari agrees, "You gotta wonder why he wants to be a hero with that personality."

The rest of the bus trip, Izuku watches how his classmates tease Bakugou with a sense of terrified awe. This is how people with confidence interact, Izuku feels like he should be taking notes. Maybe one day he'll get to the point where even he, who has suffered under Bakugou for years, can make fun of him. That day isn't today, so he tries his best to distance himself and watches from afar.


-----


Everything went to hell in a handbasket so fast, Izuku had little to no time to go over the bare details in his head, so much so that he was kind off impressed. It all starts with the rescue hero Thriteen telling them what's in store, a black void appears in the center of the USJ. Izuku has notice-me-not up before the first slew of villains can even step through. He isn't an idiot, he saw Thirteen hold up three fingers to Aizawa when the class first walked in. All Might isn't coming, and unless someone can get word to school, no one will be coming. Not until everyone here is cooling on the concrete-

Izuku shoves those thoughts into the corner when the black void - no, it's a villain, someone with a warping Quirk - appears where they are. Izuku isn't all that surprised when Bakugou lunges, but it's a surprise when Kirishima jumps into the fray, too.

Dust flies as their attacks hit, but not so much as a scratch was lain on the villain. Two glowing yellow eyes, narrow and radiating cold malice emerge from the dust.

"My, my, that's dangerous." The villain's voice could curdle fresh milk. Goosebumps run over Izuku's arms. "Hello, my name is Kurogiri, and my job is to scatter you all and torture you to death." Without any more of a warning, the villain expands.

Bakugou and Kirishima are the first to disappear in the inky darkness. Izuku's backing up before the second wave of mist hits his other classmates. It's over in a matter of seconds, and nearly all of his classmates are gone. Uraraka, Iida, Sero, Mina, and Shoiji are the only other teens on the platform. Izuku doesn't doubt for a second that if he hadn't had notice-me-not up, he would have been warped along with everyone else.

Thirteen is talking to Iida, telling him to run. Logically, it makes sense, but Izuku's friend doesn't want to leave everyone behind. Thirteen manages to convince him, and that's when Izuku palms the mint-condition taser strapped to his belt. The metal that Kurogiri has on isn't falling through his body, meaning that some part of it is solid, more importantly, it's touching him.

Notice-me-not won't be able to activate after he attacks, he has to make his one shot at surprise count.

Izuku taps Uraraka just as Iida makes a break for it. "Uraraka, I need you to use your Quirk on me." He tells her.

His friends jumps in surprise, "Midiorya! When did you-"

"No time for questions!" Izuku hisses, using a hand to discretely point at the mist villain. "Make me weightless, then throw me at him!"

Thankfully, Uraraka wastes no more time. Within moments, Izuku is flying through the air. She has a surprisingly impressive throwing arm, he sails straight at the villain like a baseball.

There's no time for panic, to worry that this is the first time he's taking on a villain. If he hesitates, he's dead and Iida doesn't get out. That is not an option. The taser is already in his hands by the time he reaches Kurogiri. He can feel the buzz though his gloves when he presses the button, electricity sparks between the two metal prongs, then branch out once they make contact with the metal plating.

"Agh!" Kurogiri howls with pain and shock, the mist contorting and compressing in pain. Izuku's wrapped up in mist and warped away before he can see what becomes of Iida.

The sensation of falling is not a familiar one, and while inside the villain's warp gate, Izuku feels like he's falling in every direction. There's no up or down, left or right, all there is is darkness and the sound of air whooshing past his ears. The experience can't have lasted more than a moment, but Izuku feels like he's trapped for an eternity in the disorienting dark. Then he's dumped unceremoniously on the ground. It takes a second for Izuku to learn where he is, but when a villain goes flying over his head, he has a pretty good idea.

There's never been clear-cut footage of Eraserhead's fights, a few fuzzy pictures, sure, but there'd be so much movement in the photo that nothing could be discerned beyond the thin tendrils of his capture tool. Seeing the underground hero fight in person is by far better than any footage. The man moves gracefully, yet effectively. No movement is without a reason, and with Eraserhead's goggles hiding who he's looking at, the teamwork that the crowd of villains would need to have a chance against him is gone.

The feeling of weightlessness abandoned Izuku the moment he passed through the portal, yet the buzz of notice-me-not is back up and running, proven by how the villains run right past him to the visible target. He stands up with a grunt and looks around.

The tinge of chaos makes everything more vivid. The sound of fighting not too far away from him, his heart racing in his chest, the terrifying thought that Iida failed clinging to his mind. All of it's enhanced by adrenaline, which is probably why his eyes go right over Asui and Mineta the first time he looks at the water.

His classmates look worse for wear - Asui has a cut on her cheek that's bleeding quite a bit, and Mineta looks about ready to faint - but alive. He starts towards them, but pauses when the familiar void of Kurogiri reappears at the center of the USJ. He can't hear then, the distance between them too far for the words to carry, but the way the head villain reacts has Izuku smiling. Iida got out, helps on the way.

Then the head villain, a skinny man with hands all over him, says something to the hulking creature beside him. The hair on the back of Izuku's neck rises at the sight of the thing, and his heart drops into his chest when it takes steps towards Eraserhead. 1-A's teacher may be extremely well trained at hand to hand combat, but even he'll have troubles with this thing.

Nothing Izuku can do will help against that creature, he'll be more useful to Eraserhead getting his classmates out of the line of fire. The sound of the fighting provides adequate cover for him to sneak over to Asui and Mineta. He crouches, poking both of them. "Are you guys okay?"

Mineta startles, eyes bugging out. "Woah, where the heck did you come from?"

Asui, by comparison, was calmer. "Ah, Midoriya. We got warped into the shipwreck zone, some villains tried to hurt us, but I got both of us out of there in time."

Izuku nods, "Right, you're faster in the water. Was anyone else with you?"

Asui shakes her head. A rush of relief flows over Izuku. "No, it was just me and Mineta. Everyone else is somewhere different."

Okay, Izuku can worth with this. "Thirteen is still at the entrance, head up there. Don't get seen." Easy for him to say.

"But what about Eraserhead?"

Izuku looks back to their teacher. The hero leaps over the creature that charges at him, using its back as a spiringboard. Izuku turns back to his classmates. "He's a pro, he can handle himself, but he can't fight these guys and look out for you at the same time." He holds his hand out for them to take, that's when things go wrong.

Mineta's eyes widen in horror, but they're looking past Izuku. He turns around and feels his heart skip.

Eraserhead's elbow comes off in flakes of skin, exposing muscle and ligament. Izuku thinks of a children's anatomy book and swallows bile, the real thing is much worse than what's on paper. Eraserhead makes the villain responsible for his elbow reel back with a kick. Izuku fixates on a section of the ground, a section that the villain had touched for the briefest of moments. A little dent of dust resides in the concrete.

"Like the entrance gate..." Izuku whispers, more to himself than anything. "He's the one that did it - it was a warning, that worse things would come." And Izuku spent five nights trying to hunt down information on them. If notice-me-not had faltered, or he'd actually found their base? He doesn't want to think about it.

Turns out, he doesn't have to, because any rational thought ends when the creature grabs Eraserhead and pins him to the ground. The cheer difference in size between the two makes Izuku nauseous, it wouldn't take a lot of force on the creature's part to shatter his teacher's skull. Even so, an underlying hum of danger has Izuku putting notice-me-not back up. Something's about to happen, Izuku doesn't know what, but he has a feeling that nothing good will come from it.

He ends up being right. The head villain - the one with the hands - makes a break in his, Asui, and Mineta's direction. Spindly fingers stretching out, reaching for a victim, the villain looks like a reaper coming for them. Even so, he does not see Izuku.

He'll probably look back and say nerves made him do it, but Izuku refuses to allow any more people get hurt. Not today, not ever, not when he's there. Because every time he's been in danger, no one has come to help, no one besides the pros, whose entire job is doing just that. Izuku's a far cry from any kind of pro hero, but he refuses to stand by and be useless, stand by and live up to being a Deku.

Notice-me-not falters when he rushes to stand in front of his classmates, Izuku hazards a guess and chalks it up to sudden movement. The blip of his presence does nothing to slow the villain down, but it does make Mineta aware to him again.

"Midoriya!"

Izuku wants to curse when the other teen speaks. Notice-me-not fizzles away like carbonation at his name being called. The villain falters in his stride, surprised to see a third student when originally he'd seen two. Thankfully, he's close enough for it to not matter.

Izuku spreads his feet. His gloved fists come up in a boxer's stance. He takes a breath, then two, and when the villain's momentum carries him into Izuku's range, he strikes.

The foreign feeling of solid bone against his fist makes his knuckles hurt. Izuku has a quick moment of relief that he doesn't use One for All. His fist alone does enough damage. The villain carries himself into the hit, making the blow that much more damaging. He stumbles back, clutches at his mouth tightly. The jaw itself doesn't look right, too jutted forward to be normal. A little voice in the back of Izuku's head tells him he dislocated the villain's jaw.

The villain glares at him past a hand covering his upper face. Izuku swears that the man's eyes glow red. "A Rogue this early in the game?" The words slur around in the villain's mouth, trying to articulate beyond a dislocated jaw. "How...surprising."

Izuku doesn't reply. He doesn't look away from the villain for a second as he asks, "Asui, Mineta, get going."

"But-"

Izuku's life made the value of patience abundantly clear to him early on, yet now, that hard-earned patience wanes. "Now!" He hisses, forcing the words through clenched teeth. "Before this guy gets the bright idea to try again." He hears the sound of splashing and wet footsteps, slowly fading in the distance.

The villain pops his jaw back into place with a pained grunt. "Staying behind to fight me?" The mania returns to his voice, "How typical."

Izuku swallows. "You're here for a reason." He begins, trying his hardest to keep the tremor out of his voice. It would be a lot easier if he couldn't feel the malice radiating off of the man in front of him. "Why?" He slips a hand behind his back, gripping his taser reassuringly. The device has been trustworthy so far, and while the villain has no metal on his person, getting electrocuted will still hurt.

"To kill All Might, why else?" The casualty of the statement makes Izuku want to run, run and hide and never look at this person again. But that's not an option. "But then we show up and he's not even here." Disdain drips from the villain, "So I guess I'll just have to make do by killing you."

A terrible thought occurs to Izuku. Iida got out of the USJ, he's getting help right now. Izuku's bet his life savings (a measly amount, sure, but still all he has) that All Might is going to show. His jaw aches with how hard he clenches his teeth. "You can try." Izuku tells him, "But you've already messed up, more than once, what's to say that you wont mess up again?"

Probably not the best idea to antagonize the person who can disintegrate things by touching them, but Izuku's self-preservation has always been pretty abysmal.

"Oh?" The villain cocks a head, strands of greasy hair falling to the side.

"You didn't know that All Might wasn't here." Izuku begins to list off the things that pop up off the top of his head. "You didn't know any of the Quirks my classmates have. You don't even know when All Might's going to show up, if he even does."

The villain's fingers twitch, itching to touch something, probably Izuku. "Oh, he'll show up." He growls, "That's what hero's do when their precious little investments are in trouble. And the look on All Might's face when he sees your corpse? I plan to savor every moment of it." With no warning, he lunges.

Izuku brings up an arm to block, but only remembers the villain's Quirk when a hand wraps around Izuku's arm. He tenses, expecting his costume to flake away like his teacher's skin. Yet nothing happens.

The villain pauses, then lets out a low scoff. "Erasing my Quirk right before I touched him." He looks over his shoulder, and Izuku can see his teacher still being held down by the creature. "You're really cool, Eraserhead." He makes a sharp gesture with his free hand. The creature lifts Eraserhead up by the hair, then slams him on the concrete.

It's overdone, but Izuku swears that time slows down in that moment. His breath stays frozen in his chest, each heartbeat feels lethargic. These villains have invaded a place meant to be safe for children, threatened said children, and have in general made a problem of themselves. Frayed nerves and adrenaline combine to create an emotion that Izuku hasn't felt ever before. It blooms in his chest, each petal unfurling to wrap around his limbs, imbuing them with energy. For once in Izuku's life, he is angry - no, he is furious - and now he has an opportunity to make his tormentor pay.

The villain turns around just in time for his face to be reacquainted with Izuku's fist. He stumbles, but Izuku doesn't let him gain ground, the hand behind his back comes forward, pushing the taser into the villain's side. A press of a button and he goes rigid, the electricity sparking through his spine. Izuku watches dispassionately when the villain crumples. He doesn't have time to linger on him, anyways. Eraserhead's head remains in the grip of the creature. The thing's never moved unless an it was issued an express command, but Izuku refuses to risk it.

Which is right when a familiar voice echoes through the USJ. Izuku's heard almost every tone All Might's used and then some, yet he had never heard the hero genuinely angry - until now.

"It's alright now. Why? I, am here."

In any other case, All Might's arrival would be a relief. Now, however, it makes Izuku's stomach twist. The villains have some sort of plot to kill All Might, they wouldn't go through so much effort to attack the USJ if those words were merely an empty threat. izuku turns around just in time to see the main villain be warped near the center by Kurogiri. The thing holding Eraserhead down releases the hero and ambles over to the two villains. Izuku resist the impulse to rush over and check on his teacher, the buzz of notice-me-not is back in place, any sudden movement will ruin that and All Might will have another thing to worry about.

A flash of white catches his eye. A few of his classmates emerge from different disaster zones, looking scruffy, but not as bad as Izuku feared.

All Might drops in from the stairs, cracks spindle from the impact zone all the way to Izuku's feet.
Even so, Izuku's attention is elsewhere.

Todoroki is twenty feet away, give or take, and eyeing the fight about to break out with wariness. Izuku swears he can see frost coming off of the other teen, preparing for things to go south.

And go south things did. Izuku had completely forgot about Kurogiri, and hearing him explain what would happen if he closes the gate with someone still inside makes Izuku want to both punch something and feel sick to his stomach. He hears the crackle of ice before he sees it, watching in awe as it wraps around the creature - a Noumu, apparently - and weakens it enough for All Might to escape.

There are two other people next to Todoroki now. Kirishima, Izuku is relived to see. Bakugou? Not so much. Even so, if they want to be of any use if things go wrong again, they have to work together, all four of them.

Izuku's gait changes with every step - awkward to do, since he refuses to look away from the fight - but makes it to the other three. He opens his mouth, but the words don't come out. He swallows and tries again.

"We need a plan if things go south again."

It's short, simple, and startles the living crap out of Kirishima.

"Jeez, Midoriya!" The redhead exclaims, "Do we need to put a bell on you?"

"It'd be counterproductive at this point." Izuku replies, "Ill say it again: we need a plan."

Bakugou snorts, Izuku takes a step back. "And why should we listen to you, Deku?"

Oddly, after facing a bonafide villain, Bakugou's voice doesn't make Izuku tense like it used to. "Because these villains will go after us if it's convenient, and I don't know about you, but I want to give them hell."

Bakugou huffs, though Izuku's been around him long enough to understand the grudging acceptance in the gesture. The fight still going on, they try to make a plan.

"Todoroki," the teen in question nods at being addressed, "If any of them come our way, you're the first line of defense, make it not worth the effort of coming after us. If that doesn't work," Izuku turns to Bakugou and Kirishima, "It's up to all of us to keep ourselves alive."

In the end, the plan is redundant, no villain even looks at them. Everyone's attention is on the fight between All Might and Noumu. Every blow exchanged has Izuku flinching, the sheer force of their punches could be felt even from where he and the others stand.

But then, oh then, All Might sends the Noumu flying, breaking through the ceiling and disappearing from sight.

"Oh man," Kirishima's hands are cupped around his eyes to squint past the new glaring sunlight. "This is what it means to be a pro, huh?"

"They're on a whole other level." Todoroki agrees, a bit less awestruck.

But Izuku's not looking at the newly made, Noumu-sized hole. It's almost indiscernible from the dust swirling around him, but steam wafts off of All Might as if he'd stepped out of the sauna a moment before. Time's up, but only All Might and Izuku know that. He sees Kurogiri and the other villain stand and rush the hero. All Might's too spent to do anything, no one else is fast enough...except for him.

The ease in which he decides to break his legs should be concerning, but at this point Izuku's too busy aiming a One-for-All powered fist at the two villains to care. He opens his mouth, letting notice-me-not fade away. "Hey!" The volume of his voice surprises even him. His proclamation does its job, the villains are now focused on him. Clenching his teeth, Izuku's fist comes forward. The blast's nothing compared to the ones from All Might's fight with the Noumu, but it's just enough to blow the villains a good distance away. In the distance, Izuku can hear the arrival of more heroes. Got timing, cause he falls to the ground with a thud, three of his four limbs broken. He took a deep breath.

"Shit this hurts." The profanity comes out without warning. "Seriously, this is awful." He cranes his neck to look at All Might, then the villains. "Well, I got them away. There's that. Go me."

The villain he blasted away stands up, eyeing him with bloodlust. "My name" the villain rasps, "Is Shigaraki Tomura. Remember that, Rogue, because I'll be the one to remove you from the game. Permanently." He vanishes before Izuku can shove a reply in.

All Might's face shows a mix of concern and amusement. "Midoriya, my boy, you really saved me there."

Izuku grins, thoroughly exhausted, "Well, someone's gotta." He gives a half hearted wave with his non-broken arm. "Wish this wouldn't happen every time though."

All Might laughs with him, "Yes, you and Gran Torino are working on that, though." It occurs to Izuku that All Might's just playing along because he's in shock.

His field trip got hijacked by villains, he tased a villain, punched another one in the face, and broke at least six bones. Izuku's gonna chalk it up as a pretty eventful day. He lays his head on the ground and closes his eyes, listening to approaching heroes with less and less attention. He's out like a light by the time one of them picks him up.