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Limitless: Version RE

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They met in high school. Did they know of their importance in each other’s futures? Nope. Did they realize they had so much in common when they saw each other for the first time? Not at all. He was to her just another strong person in Class 1A while she was to him just another insignificant pebble on the side of his road to becoming the No 1 hero.

So, what is it that draws them together? They didn’t pay each other any heed the first time they saw each other, for he was focused on defying his old man and she was there to atone for her sins. Similar goals, but different motivations. Two sides of the same coin. Both knew that the way forward was long and thorny, but both must keep moving forward for fear of the past catching up to them. Keep moving forward, carrying the scars of the past that haven’t healed. Keep moving forward, no matter how tattered their bodies become, no matter how much their bodies buckle and break, since the obstacles that they faced in front of them pale in comparison to the memories and horrors of past that chase them.

His name was Shoto Todoroki. The preeminent strongest of the class. The preeminent pretty boy of the class. The always calm and cool headed Todoroki.

Her name was [First] [Last]. Has a good heart, but a bit socially awkward at times. You would have never guessed that that cute little girl killed someone before. You would have never guessed those pretty bright eyes were holding back a monster that could emerge at any moment if she weren’t careful. You would have never guessed that those tiny, fragile looking hands were stained with blood.

Both had a past that always chased them. And because of that past, both had the dream of becoming heroes, desperately trying to save themselves in doing so.

Chapter Text

You remembered that your mother was beautiful. Whenever you were young and would look through your Princess fairytales, you would imagine your mother as the Princess. Your mother, with her long [H colour] hair, bright [E colour] eyes, and constant kind and gentle smile always reminded the little you of the illustrated Princess in your picture books. Whenever you’d tell this to your parents, your dad would laugh and say “You’re almost right, [First], but not quite. Mommy is the Queen,” and your mother would laugh and blush, “and you are my little Princess,” and he would pick you up and spin you around and you would be the happiest girl in the world, laughing in your father’s arms. This family was the picture perfect family, the family always shown as the model in story books, the family that everyone would judge as too perfect to be true.

And it was. It was too perfect to be true.

And one day, your dad just left. Left the four year old you without even a goodbye. You will never forget that cold glance as your father closed the door, disappearing from your life. You will never forget the sorrow behind your mother’s eyes, tears spilling out of those sad blue oceans.

***
Miss [First] [Last],

I am pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to the Hero Program at UA High School by Official Recommendations from several pro heros. The words and letters from your Tokiwadai* Middle School teachers and counselors were overwhelmingly positive. You also passed with flying colours on the Entrance Exam for the Recommended. You will find the details in the letter that you received to prepare you for your new High School path this April. I myself will also begin a new path at UA as a teacher in April. I look forward to meeting and working together with you. PLUS ULTRA!

The hologram of All Might disappeared as he finished his message. In the envelope you received, you found a few papers. One explained when school will start, which class you are in, and all the other details. Another paper contained the school map. The final paper asked for any requests for your hero costume. You yawned at your desk, scratched your cheek with the eraser of your pencil, and simply wrote “Something elegant” on the blank piece of paper. You furrowed your eyebrows and pursed your lips, thinking hard about what else to add. What colour should it be? What colour would look good on you Should it be long or short sleeved? Should you wear gloves? Shorts? A skirt? How long would the skirt be? Sunglasses would look cool… no nevermind… sunglasses indoors would make you seem like an arrogant idiot. After a few minutes of staring at the almost blank paper in silent concentration, you put your warm hand on the paper and started writing.

Scratch, scratch, scratch. Your pencil scraped on the paper, then stopped.

You held the paper to eye level, looking over the final product.

“Something elegant, please,” the paper read.

You sighed, not at all satisfied with the results, but sealed the paper in the mailing envelope anyway. You weren’t creative enough and were too indecisive to come up with your own costume, so you decided to simply leave it to the designers and hope for the best.

The days rolled by, and soon enough, the morning came when you were adjusting your tie on your high school uniform. It was the date to begin your learning at UA. You pulled on your knee high black socks, did a quick final check in front of the mirror, pulled on your shoes, and were out the door of your apartment.

With one step in front of the other, you were beginning to walk down your path to become a hero.

With one step in front of the other, you were able to start atoning for the mistakes you made in the past.

As you walked your way to school, turning a corner, you didn’t expect for someone or something to run into you so suddenly. Faster than your mind could think, your reflexes set your quirk on reflection as the person/object crashed into you. As soon as contact was made, the stranger who bumped into you (poor girl) directly hit the ground with a thump, landing hard on her bottom. You felt guilty immediately and at once offered your hand to help the brunette stranger up.

“Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! I saw something fast coming at me and I accidently used my quirk and- are you hurt at all? I really should be more mindful of my quirk. I’m so sorry,” you rambled. The girl on the ground took your hand and offered you a bright smile. You remarked that the girl’s pink round cheeks and bouncy brown hair made her look like a charming little doll. Then, you noticed the girl’s uniform. “Hey, you’re a student at UA too.”

The girl’s smile, bright and beautiful, widened even more. “Yes! Sorry I bumped into you, I was in a hurry to get to school early so I have time to make new friends, but I guess that’s not necessary now that I met you! My name is Ochako Uraraka, I’m enrolled in the hero course at UA in class 1A, let’s be friends!”

‘Goodness, how is this girl so cute?’ you fondly thought to yourself, feeling yourself being won over by the overwhelming warmth and bubbliness of the being beside you. You smiled and introduced yourself too, “My name is [First] [Last] and I’m enrolled in Class 1A at UA too. Glad we have something in common already.”

“Hmm, [First], I didn’t see you at the entrance exam.” Uraraka put her finger on her chin, thinking hard as you two started walking down the street.

“Oh,” you hesitated before quietly replying. “I got in by recommendations.”

Uraraka’s eyes lit up. “Wow! Recommendations! Then you must be super strong!”

You felt your cheeks get warm and embarrassment took over. “No, I still have much to learn before I can become a hero.”

“That’s ok! We’re all here to learn at UA! Let’s get strong together!” She fist pumped the air to add emphasis

As you two enthusiastically chatted (well, Uraraka enthusiastically chatted), you soon arrived on UA grounds and found your classroom. It seemed that the popular Uraraka already knew some people, as she was quick to say hi.

“Ah, it’s you! Curly-haired kid! I’m glad I found you You passed just like Present Mic said!” She then lifted her fist and waved it around, demonstrating her cute version of a punch. “That punch at the entrance exam was out of this world!”

The plain looking, curly haired boy shyly shook his head and hid his burning face in his hands, muttering away, as if drowning in embarrassment. Uraraka, rambling about being worried for him after the entrance exam, inched closer and closer to him from her overwhelming excitement. In response, his face looked more and more like a tomato, his green hair representing the tomato leaves on top. Or perhaps he looked more like a Christmas light.

“Oh, and guess what?!” Uraraka enthusiastically pulled you toward her. “I made a new friend today! Her name is-.”

“If you’re going to be hunting for buddies, do it elsewhere.”

You turned around, expecting to see the speaker at eye level, but were only met with thin air. When you looked down, you saw a man lying on the floor in a sleeping bag. His long hair, black and messy, covered most of his face, and the eyes that looked up at you were so tired looking, so lifeless, with dark bags under them as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. If you didn’t just hear him speak, you’d have wondered if he was dead. No way… was he your teacher?

“This is the department of heroics!” He sipped on a juice box before standing up and releasing himself out of his sleeping bag. “It took you lot 8 seconds to quiet down. Life is short, kids.” He lazily lifted one foot out of the sleeping bag, then the other. “I’m your homeroom teacher Shota Aizawa. Nice to meet you.”

Although he did not raise his voice, keeping his lazy tone, the class caught every word. It was either he had a talent for keeping the class quiet by his presence alone, or everyone was just too excited to begin their first day at UA. Probably the former, judging by the nervous atmosphere in the classroom.

Mr Aizawa spent some time rummaging in his sleeping bag, then pulled out a UA gym uniform. “Put these on right away, then move to the PE grounds.”

Everyone hurriedly grabbed a uniform, quickly made their way to the changing rooms, then rushed outdoors to meet their teacher. Everyone gathered around, still keeping silent due to the strict presence that he gives off, all unanimously thinking that they must not get on his bad side or else bad things will happen.

Mr Aizawa spoke. “I’m just going to cut to the chase. Like it or not, you’re going to have a quirk apprehension test this morning.”

“Quirk apprehension test?!” the class repeated after him, shocked enough to break out of the silence.

Uraraka raised her hand, concern clearly evident on her face. “I’m sorry, but what about the entrance ceremony? And the guidance counselor meeting? Are we going to miss those?”

Aizawa’s expression remained neutral and bored, as it had remained since he introduced himself. “Heroes don’t have time for those unnecessary things. You all understand the school’s reputation for freedom on campus, correct? Well, that freedom goes for us teachers too.

“Softball pitch, standing long jump, 50meter dash, endurance running, grip strength test, sustained sideways jumps, upper body exercises, seated toe touch,” he listed the activities one by one. “These are all activities you know from middle school, of course. Before anything else, you must know what you’re capable of. This is a rational metric that will form the basis of your hero foundation. This time, you have permission to use your quirks. Use your quirks in anyway you want, I don’t care.

“Oh and one more thing.” His lips pulled back to reveal an eerie smile. “The one student who comes in last place after all eight tests will be expelled.”

The curly haired guy, Uraraka’s friend, looked as if he was going to wet himself. Poor boy. Was his quirk not suited for these tests?

As your classmates performed the tests one by one or in pairs, you hoped that your newly made friends would do well, and you also used this chance to assess the capabilities of your classmates. Mr Gotta-Go-Fast stood out almost immediately when he proved himself to be the fastest in the class with those turbo engines in his calves. For Uraraka, as her quirk can make objects lose their gravitational pull, just had to worry about air resistance stopping the ball when she tossed it, earning a shocking “infinity” that towered over everyone else’s distance score. Uraraka’s plain friend didn’t do too badly for ball toss either, but the fact that the friend had to injure himself worried you. Others that especially stood out also scored high results. Through the tests you noticed that a girl, her black hair pulled back into a ponytail, (Yaoyorozu, was it?) did especially well for several tests. It was like she could create anything she wished, as she used a hand held tool to pry the grip machine open to register a 1.2 tons, a cannon to fire the ball a whopping 28km, and rode a motorcycle in the 50 meter dash. It was no surprise that she placed first for the quirk apprehension test. Then, there was the explosion guy who seemed to like to terrorize Uraraka’s friend. Rumors have it that his explosive temper and quirk helped him come in first place for the entrance exam. Another that stood out to you, the guy who placed 2nd after Yaoyorozu for the quirk apprehension test, used ice in quite creative ways, such as repeatedly stacking it behind himself for the 50 meter dash. On the tests where his quirk wasn’t suitable, he also did quite well, showing that his physical strength by itself was not to be underestimated. You yourself didn’t do too badly on the tests, placing 3rd after the guy with the ice quirk. Afterall, your quirk was well suited for a lot of things.

“Oh yeah, the whole ‘expulsion’ thing was a lie,” Aizawa casually stated after he broadcasted the results using his phone. He then smiled as if the thought of his students internally freaking out was entertaining to him.“It was a logical ruse to pull out your best performances. You’ll find your curriculum sheets in the back on the classroom, so hurry up.”

When the day finally ended, you had just finished packing up your things and swung your bag across your shoulder before Uraraka grabbed your hand, giving just a quick explanation of “We gotta catch up with the others!” before leading (ahem, dragging) you outside to finding that plain friend and Mr Engine-Legs.

“Hey you two! You’re heading home, right? Wait for us!” Uraraka called at them as she and you slowed to a walk.

“You’re the infinity girl!” Engine-Legs adjusted his glasses before shifting his gaze to you. “And you, you placed in the top 3 for today’s quirk apprehension test.”

Uraraka looked at him and smiled. “My name is Ochako Uraraka and my friend is [First] [Last]. [First] got in on recommendations so she must be really strong!”

You became flustered at the praise. “Uraraka, you didn’t need to say that!”

After hearing this, Engine-Legs started gesturing with his hands again. “As expected of a recommended student to place high on the test today!”

“No no it’s not all that, actually,” you tried to explain.

The curly-haired friend’s eyes were bright and curious. “Recommendations? You must be really skilled! Can you tell us about your quirk? What does it do? What’s it’s name? What can it-”

“Please stop, you’re all thinking too highly of me!” you frantically said, trying to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. You shifted your gaze, choosing to stare instead at the ground. Embarrassed and feeling awkward, you started rambling. “Sorry, you guys must think I’m a stuck up high class lady right now and you’d probably want to avoid me…”

“Actually, no.” The curly-haired friend immediately answered back. “That’s not what we think at all.”

“Huh? [First], why don’t you want people to know you got in on Recommendations?” Uraraka curiously asked. You played with the hem of your skirt, hesitating.

“It’s because then they’ll judge me before they really know me,” you admitted. “I heard that there is a stereotype that the Recommended are all pampered and spoiled kids who all grew up in super rich families. People are usually afraid of that and would try to avoid them as much as possible…”

You took a breath and let it out, raising your resolute gaze to meet the other three. “But in reality I’m here to learn and work hard just like everyone else.”

Uraraka was first to break the tense atmosphere. She rubbed you on the back, and gently said, “Don’t worry about it. That’s not what we think of you at all.” Her eyes were large and genuine, full of kindness. She turned to the other two. “Right guys?”

Engine-Legs and curly-haired friend were quick to nod. “Right!”

“I’m glad that’s settled!” Uraraka’s bright and cute smile was back. She punched her fist into the air enthusiastically. “Let’s all be friends!”

She then turned her attention to the two in front of her. “If I’m not mistaken, you must be Tenya Iida.” She turned to look at the curly haired one. “And you must be Deku, right?”

You turned to look at Uraraka in shock, surprised that she just called her friend “worthless”. As cute as Uraraka was, she really had no filter, did she?

‘Deku’ blushed, madly gesturing with his hands as he tried to explain, “Uh, um, my name is actually Izuku Midoriya. ‘Deku’ is just something that Kacchan calls me to make fun of me.”

“Oh I’m sorry.” Uraraka rubbed the back of her head, realizing her mistake. Her eyes then lit up as she excitedly pumped her fist into the air. “But, you know, I kinda like the name ‘Deku’! It gives me a sort of ‘never give up!’ vibe.”

Oh Uraraka, you are so pure. So innocent. Always seeing the bright side of things.

“Deku it is then!”

And as you walked with your new classmates, happily chatting away, you felt a sort of bubbly, comforting feeling in your chest. When you left behind everyone at your old middle school in order to pursue your dream of being a hero, you had prepared for the path in front of you to be long and twisting, cold and thorny. Now, when you looked at the blushing Midoriya, the earnest Iida, and mostly the always cheerful and bubbly Uraraka, you felt your spirits lift. You thought that perhaps the road towards being a hero for yourself wouldn’t be as dark as you predicted.

Yes, you thought, smiling. You will finally be steering your life in the direction that you wanted.

***
“[First]!” The woman coughed up blood, feeling the sharp claws of the little monster dig deeper into her profusely bleeding stomach. Bright red stained her usually shiny [colour] hair. The violent winds surrounding her whipped at her clothing. Ribbon like blades emitted from the creature’s back, also stabbing into the woman’s body. Even so, the woman did not release her gentle hug “[First], please! I know your consciousness is still in there!”

The tiny monster, the size of a child roughly around 5 or 6, screamed a deafening roar. The woman tightened her hold around the creature. “[First], my child, please, listen to my voice! It’s not too late for you to return back to human!”

You woke up in cold sweat, sitting on your bed with your heartbeat accelerated, your blood pumping through your veins. You desperately tried to calm down, trying to steady your breathing. You felt a wet droplet land on your lap. “That was just a nightmare,” you told yourself, reaching up to wipe your tears.

“It was just a nightmare,” you repeated to yourself. When you noticed that your hands were trembling, you clutched them into fists. You grit your teeth.

“I promised myself, no matter what, I will never let something like that happen again.”

***
The next day, the normal morning lessons ended and then came the lesson to which you were looking most forward. Finally, the class would be able to take its first step down real hero training. Not to mention that the teacher for this lesson would be No 1 hero himself, All Might, who has almost become a legend himself! You have seen him on TV and the internet hundreds of times. You have heard dozens of rumors about him. How he single handedly saved a thousand people who would have otherwise died in a horrible accident when he first debuted. How he always remains humble when his fans talk to him or when he is interviewed. How he always fights crime with a giant smile on his face, never faltering, never wavering. Apparently, no one knows what his real name is. No one even knows what his quirk is! You wanted to see for yourself. Who exactly is this man called the No 1? Who exactly was this superpower that the No 2 can’t even hold a candle to? What is there to not be excited about about their first Foundational Hero Studies lesson?

Well, you were nervous to see what became of your costume. Would it be a skin tight bodysuit like you’ve seen on so many female heroes? What if the person who designed the suit was a pervert and left barely anything to the imagination? Your thoughts were interrupted as the legendary All Might himself... “Came through the door like a normal person” as he described it, but there was nothing normal about him. Even from this distance you could sense that overwhelming power resided inside him, a mountain that reached the heavens, a skyscraping wall that towered over everyone else. You were sure that whatever he taught the class would be extremely valuable and beneficial. Your other classmates were also muttering excitedly. He began the class.

“Foundational Hero Studies!” he announced. “For this class, we’ll be building up your hero foundation through various trials! We’ll start with...” the class held its breath as the shelves containing their hero costumes opened “The trial of battle!”

Everyone excitedly took their costumes as All Might told them to meet at ground B when finished. You nervously grabbed yours and followed the rest of the girls to the change room, feeling nervous about how your “something elegant, please” request would be interpreted. Then, as soon as you opened your costume box and put it on, you were more than surprised as your fears were quelled. It was indeed elegant. The chestplate was a deep gold colour, matching your shoulder plates, the gauntlets around your forearms, and the boots covering up to your knees. Comfortably hugging your waist was a purple corset like design, and flowing behind you was a graceful skirt beginning at your hips with light pink and fading down to a dark pink by the end of the cloth. Covering the opening in front of the skirt was a purple piece of cloth, resting gently on your thighs. Underneath the skirt, thankfully, were shorts, which meant you could move around without worrying about people seeing more than they were supposed to. ‘The design team really outdid themselves with this one,’ you thought, ‘They even included a freaking tiara. It’s almost… too fancy.’

As you walked out of the change room toward Ground B, new fears began to replace the old ones. What if it was too fancy and ended up making you stand out like a sore thumb? What if your classmates thought it was too much and teased you about it? What if-

“[First], it looks great on you!” Uraraka’s familiar bubbly voice broke your train of thoughts.

You turned around to face a Uraraka in a cute skin tight bodysuit that showed off her curves. “Uraraka, you look really good. The suit fits you well,” you said honestly, “While mine almost seems like...” you ruffled the skirt, testing the fabric. You let out nervous laughter “...too much.”

“That’s not true! You look beautiful!” Uraraka cheerfully said.

‘How? How was it that this girl could be so cute?’ you thought as some of your internal worries died down. ‘Heh, it’s only day two and she’s always the one comforting me.’

Once everyone had gathered at the training site, All Might explained the exercise. “Because most acts of villainy are committed indoors, we’ll be conducting 2 on 2 team battles indoors-”

He was abruptly interrupted. It seemed like everyone’s excitement was at maximum level as they all asked questions.

“How do we determine who wins and who loses?” asked the intelligent Yaoyorozu.

“Is it ok if we just blow them away?” the ever explosive temper of Bakugo.

“Will anyone be expelled like Mr Aizawa threatened?” Uraraka was concerned.

“If we’re separating into different groups, what will be the best way to do so?” typical earnest Iida.

“Doesn’t this cape look killer on me?” Navel-Laser guy.

“Will there be many chances for male-female body contact?” an unusually short guy with purple “hair”.

“I can’t hear you if you all speak at once!” came All Might’s version of ‘shut the hell up!’ Silence fell, and he continued giving instructions. “One team will be heroes and the other team will be the villains. For this training, we’ll have the villains guard a nuclear weapon they intend on deploying! The heroes must stop them and their scheme before its too late! If the heroes capture the villains or reach the target nuclear core within the time limit, the heroes win. If the villains capture the heroes or keep the core safe until the timer runs out, the villains win. The teams will be determined by lottery, and because we have 21 students in our class, there will have to be a group of 3 determined by lottery as well. Let’s start this!”

When it was your turn to draw, you stuck your hand into the box and pulled out a slip of paper and read the name on it.

Shoto Todoroki

If you weren’t mistaken, that was the person who’d come in 2nd place for yesterday’s quirk test. The guy with the strong ice quirk, right? You looked around and spotted him. He was easy to identify since he had covered his entire left side with ice. Maybe to protect a vulnerable spot on his left side? You approached him.

“You’re Shoto Todoroki, right?” you asked, catching his attention. You showed him the slip of paper that you drew from the lottery. “I’m [First] [Last] and we’re supposed to be team B. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you,” he repeated after you, but his tone was cold and unwelcoming. You tried to continue the conversation.

“My quirk allows me to move stuff around if I’m touching it. I can also deflect attacks. Do you want to tell me about your quirk or something?”

“I freeze things,” he coldly replied. You waited for him to elaborate, but he remained silent as a few awkward seconds passed.

“So… Should we think of a general plan right now before the battles start? I think we should know how to work together.”

“I don’t need your help. I can handle the situation by myself.”

You gulped and thought, ‘Geez, we’re off to a great start. This guy is even worse than me at being social.’

After everyone was paired up, All Might drew from the lottery to see which teams would be battling together. First up was hero team Midoriya and Uraraka vs villain team Iida and Bakugo as everyone else was left watching the battle on the TV screen.

‘Poor Midoriya,’ you thought, staring at the TV screen as the battle went on. You paid close attention as your newly made friends prepared for battle. Also, it was a chance to further observe the others’ fighting styles and quirks.

The fight started as soon as Bakugo attacked team A. You narrowed your eyes as you observed him. It almost looked like Bakugo was going out of his way to fight Midoriya. What is his ulterior motive? Is he trying to prove something? It didn’t help team A’s case that Midoriya tends to injure himself whenever he uses his quirk, as shown yesterday at the quirk apprehension test. In the end Midoriya ended up recklessly launching a punch strong enough to blow a hole through the building itself, creating a chance for Uraraka to use her quirk on the produced debris. In the time that Iida was distracted, she touched the nuclear core, ending the battle. The students all gathered around and discussed what each individual in that battle did well and what they did poorly, wrapping up the team A vs team D battle.

Finally, the time came for team B to fight against the 3 membered team I. Todoroki calmly entered the building, you at his side.

“Yesterday, during the quirk apprehension test, I spent a bit of time observing everyone’s quirks and I have a general idea about how they use their quirks,” you began sharing your thoughts with your teammate. “The girl’s invisible, as you can see, perfect for stealth. One of the guys has a tail that he uses to help him move around. The guy with multiple arms is very strong physically and it appears that he can grow things like eyes and ears out of those extra arms. His sensory capabilities may be enhanced due to that.” You paused in case Todoroki had anything to add. When he remained silent, you continued. “Based on their quirks, I think Invisible Girl will try to ambush us while the two guys guard the core. We all heard Bakugo’s feedback about him being too reckless to attack head on, so I think they’ll try to play it defensively and by using stealth.”

“This will get dangerous, so go outside.”

Your lips tightened. “I’m not weak. No matter what attack it is, I can counter it with my quirk. You can’t get rid of me that easily.”

“Suit yourself,” he replies as he places his hand on the wall. Immediately, everything froze. Even the dust particles in the air seemed to stop in place as a great cold washed over. Ice glittered on the walls, the floor, the stairs, everywhere, covering everything over a giant, freezing blanket.

“See? I’m fine.” The ice around your boots shattered as soon as it touched you, leaving you in pristine condition. “Since we both got into UA by recommendations, I feel like we should put more effort into our teamwork.”

“You talk a lot,” he said as he began climbing the stairs.

You furrowed your eyebrows, following him. This guy was starting to get on your nerves… If he wants to be a hero, he can’t keep up this lone wolf act forever, you thought. You two quickly found the nuclear core and found that both the tail guy and guy with multiple arms were stuck frozen to the ground.

“You should stay still. If you move, the skin will be ripped off of your feet and will make it difficult for you to fight.” Todoroki warned as you two walked past the members, the guy with multiple arms made a last ditch effort to extend his arms and aimed his fist at Todoroki. You quickly stepped in. You simply held your hand out to intercept it, and as soon as the punch touched your palm, the force of the punch changed to travel in the completely opposite direction, keeping the same momentum as before. It was like a car going at breakneck speed suddenly hits the brakes, shifts the gear to reverse, and drives backward at the same speed as before, all in a split second. The fist reflected right back toward Multiple-Arms, showing the futility of the situation for team I.

“Sorry,” you apologized, your eyelids lowered. “I can’t let you land a hit on us that easily.”

Todoroki touches the nuclear core and team B is declared the winner. Steam starts coming out from where Todoroki’s left hand made contact with the nuclear core, confusing you. You had thought he covered his left side with ice to protect a vulnerable spot, but it turns out he has another power other than ice?

“Hey, you never told me you had a heat power too,” you voiced your thoughts. When he still remained silent, you became irked as your patience ran thin. Sure, he might be strong, really strong, but he didn’t have to ignore you like this. You turned to face him to express your annoyance at the situation, but stopped as soon as you saw the look on his face, the look in his eyes. When you had first met him, those eyes showed coldness, indifference. But now, as he stood melting the ice he had created, you noticed that he looked sad, with grief clouding his usually calm, pretty mismatched hues. Your words died down in your throat, as you recognized that look. You knew that look, because you’ve seen that look before, resembling your own so much.

This person… was the same as you.

Chapter Text

“Mommy!” The little four year old eagerly ran towards the park bench. Under the shade of the large oak tree, a woman sat, engrossed in her book. The child had something clasped in her hands.“Mommy! Mommy! Guess what!”

“What is it, sweetie?” The mother lifted her head from her book and smiled at her daughter, who excitedly held her clasped hands up to her mother.

“Tada!” the little girl proudly opened her hands, showing a single flower, white petals surrounding a golden center, resting on her tiny palm.

“Yes, sweetie, that’s a very pretty daisy you’ve got there.”

“Look at what I can do!” Immediately, the flower’s petals moved by themselves, opening and closing around the golden middle, resembling a multi-winged butterfly fluttering its wings. Then, without the child’s hand moving, the flower jumped by itself off of her palm and landed in the mother’s lap.

As the woman picked up the daisy, her eyes widened. Her warm smile widened even more, twice as bright as before. “Darling, you’ve developed your quirk! That’s fantastic!”

“But that’s not all! Watch this!” This time, the child held a quarter-sized pebble she found on the ground and placed it in her palm. Staring at it silently, she furrowed her brows in concentration, until the pebble slowly started spinning, gradually picking up speed until it was almost a blur in the middle of her hand.

Her mother clapped her hands. “Congratulations, [First]! I’m so proud of you!

She stood up and wrapped her hand around the child’s, her fingers gently folding over the child’s smaller ones. “Let’s go home now so we can tell your father the good news!”

The child beamed, pride swelling her tiny chest with warmth. She tightened her hold on her mother’s welcoming hand as the two of them began their journey back home.

***
On your way to school, you had to push and shove your way through the crowd at the UA entrance. A reporter tried to shove her microphone in your face, but you knew an interview would just make you late to class so you refused and continued pushing and shoving your way through.

Other than that, the morning after the two on two battle exercise was unusually normal, considering that this is the hero course at UA. When Aizawa announced that the students were going to choose a class president, everyone almost jumped out of their seats at the opportunity. The class was chaos until Iida suggested that they do it by voting. By the end of the period, the shy but honest Midoriya stood at the front of the classroom, with four votes to his name.

Although he had voted for himself too, he never expected to get three other votes. This amount doubled that of the runner up Yaoyorozu, who also seemed quite disappointed at her classmates’ choice. No one’s reaction was as extreme as Bakugo’s though.

“You’ve gotta be shitting me…! Who the hell voted for Deku?!” It seemed like he was a bomb, ready to be lit and eager to erupt any moment, you noted. It seemed like he was ready to unleash his rage at anyone who so much as spoke to him right now. Why on Earth was he so angry at Midoriya all the time? Bakugo’s angry red eyes swept around the classroom, trying to spy the culprit, before landing on Uraraka. As soon as they made eye contact, Uraraka blinked and looked away, a guilty expression written all over her face.

Bakugo narrowed his eyes. “Hey Roundface, was it-?”

“I did,” you said as you stood up from your seat and answered him. When he heard your voice, he whipped his head to face you. As he glared at you, his eyes were narrowed in rage, glinting a dangerous red. He no longer was just a measly bomb about to explode. He was a volcano, ready to erupt at any moment and destroy everything within kilometres of the place.

“What?” he challenged, giving you a chance to take back your words. “What did you just say?”

“You heard me. I voted for Midoriya.” You were not backing down. You may become shy and awkward when it comes to praise, but you are no stranger to arguing with others when the situation is getting out of control.

“Do you have a girl-boner for him or something?” Bakugo growled, voice low and threatening. You sighed.

“I voted for him because I think he has what it takes to lead the class and be sensitive to everyone’s feelings at the same time.”

“Like hell he does!” Bakugo’s loud words were enough to draw the attention of several of their classmates. “That crappy-ass nerd is as shitty as they come! He has no right to lead-!”

“You may think that way, but last time I checked, Midoriya’s the one with four votes backing him up.”

Bakugo was absolutely shocked. ‘Who is this bitch stupid enough to vote for shitty Deku?!’ he thought. ‘Who does she think she is, talking all that shit?!’

He angrily stomped towards you until he was close enough to be towering over you, glowering down his nose at you. Almost everyone’s attention was on the pair of you now.

“Wait, I shouldn’t have to listen to you. You got no votes, you worthless trash. I, at least, had enough brains to vote for myself,” he snarled at you. You had to look up at him to maintain eye contact, cool eyes gazing into fiery red. You could feel everyone’s eyes on you, waiting for your response. The difference in height and especially the murderous shadow behind his menacing red eyes would have intimidated anyone with common sense, but your cool eyes remained fearless and calm as you retorted right back at him.

“Yeah, you got the one vote that came from yourself because you’re too self absorbed to think of the greater good. Honestly, if you were made class president, the whole school would be erupting into flames in less than a day with your temper always exploding.”

Bakugo blinked. The classroom was silent, except for a few stifled gasps. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Then-

“You BITCH!” he roared, finally snapped. “I’ll kill-”

He was interrupted as Kirishima put his hands on Bakugo’s shoulders, trying to calm him down and trying to keep Bakugo from going on a killing spree. “Woah woah easy there Bakugo, calm down. It’s lunch time, so you’re cranky because you’re hungry. Let’s go get some food!”

“Kirishima, you bastard! Let me go!”

Kaminari joined in, helping Kirishima. “Bakugo, don’t do anything you’ll regret! Especially to a pretty girl like her.”

“Kaminari, you fuckboy!”

“Bakugo, if you start killing people, you’ll get arrested!” Kirishima grunted. Holding on to Bakugo was like keeping several tons of lighted fireworks from going off. “If you get arrested, you’ll go to jail and you can’t become a hero! Let it go!”

Bakugo’s movements started dying down as he considered Kirishima’s words. They loosened their holds on Bakugo when they sensed that he was calming down.

“Fine,” he growled as he shoved both boys off of him and walked out of the classroom, not giving anyone a second look.

Kirishima, his friendliness directly contrasting with Bakugo’s temper, then turned to you, an apologetic look in his eyes.

“Sorry about him,” he apologized. “He’s a good guy at heart, really. It’s just that he’s bad at managing his emotions, particularly anger,” Kirishima’s voice faded to a mumble for the last part.

“No, it’s fine,” you sighed. You rubbed the back of your head. “I guess I went overboard too.”

As Kirishima went to chase after Bakugo, you turned back to your desk, packing up your stuff. Midoriya approached you, Iida and a worried Uraraka following him.

“You didn’t have to do that for me, [First],” Uraraka muttered, her warm brown eyes filled with concern.

“Kacchan can be scary when he’s angry,” Midoriya added.

“Don’t worry about it,” you said as you zipped up your pencil case. “I didn’t do it for you. I did it for myself because I didn’t like the way he’s been going alpha male on everyone,” you said as you hung your school bag on your chair. Your eyes lowered… ‘I’m not as good of a person as you think I am,’ you thought to yourself.

Uraraka offered a kind smile. “Well, I’m grateful either way.”

Together, you and your group of friends made your way out of the classroom and to the cafeteria, getting in line to wait for their food. After thinking for a bit, you decided to ask Midoriya, “What’s he got against you anyway? I get that you’re childhood friends and stuff, but he looks like he’s always trying to pick on…” You drifted off, after seeing Midoriya’s uncomfortable expression.

“Uh, that’s...” he forced out, uneasily. Midoriya looked like he was quite distressed, you noticed.

“Actually, you know what?” you changed the subject, sparing your friend. “I forgot to congratulate you on becoming class president.”

Midoriya immediately became flustered. “Th-thank you,” he stuttered out nervously, then glanced at the ground. “I was made class president, so suddenly and I’m not sure if I’m up to the task.”

“Sure you are!” Uraraka was always quick to reply positively, “I believe in you, Deku!”

“You’ll be alright,” Iida confirmed. “You’ve got the judgement and guts where it counts, Midoriya. I voted for you because I knew you’d have what it takes to carry us though. I did nothing more than follow my own judgement.”

Both Uraraka and Midoriya widened their eyes. “You’re so proper!” both said unanimously.

“You’re always going on about honour and stuff, but you’re from an upper-crust family, aren’t you?” Uraraka continued, her eyes sparkling, her small fists clenched in excitement.

“I don’t like it when it brings attention,” Iida adjusted his glasses. He cleared his throat. “If I must talk about such things, then yes, I’m from a family that’s been in heroics for generations.”

“Oh, so it’s like a hero torch that’s been passed down the Iida family line for generations, right?” you asked.

“Yes, I’m currently the second son,” Iida continued. The edges of his mouth lifted, forming a small smile. “Do you know of ‘Turbo Hero Ingenium’?”

Midoriya’s eyes lit up immediately, going full on geek mode. “Of course! That’s the super popular Tokyo hero who has hired at least 65 sidekicks!”

“He’s my older brother,” Iida said with pride shining in his eyes as he enthusiastically went on about his brother. “He’s a beloved pro hero who prizes the rules and guides the people! And I aspire to be a hero like him one day!” The admiration for his brother seeped through as a full smile appeared on his usually serious face.

As Iida continued talking about his brother’s job, Uraraka and Midoriya gushed over Iida’s hero family. Meanwhile, something caught your eye.

Or rather, a certain someone. A certain someone with a certain ice quirk and bi-coloured hair and heterochromatic eyes who was carrying his lunch tray to an empty table.

Now that you observed him carefully, you noticed that his eyes once again appeared devoid of emotion. That look might have fooled others, but you knew better. You knew that it was only a calm front to encase and distract himself from an ocean of hauntings. You knew.

Because you were the same.

“Hey [Last], what’re you looking at?” Midoriya’s question brought you out of your thoughts.

You closed your eyes and turned your head to face your friends before opening them again. “Nothing in particular,” you calmly replied.

Midoriya tried again. “Hmm but it seemed like you were looking in that direction-”

What sounded like a fire alarm, loud and intrusive, rang across the cafeteria, setting all the students on edge.

‘Security level 3 has been breached. Students, please promptly evacuate,’ a disembodied female voice voice, urgent and crisp, announced on the speakers. The hundreds of students in the cafeteria promptly panicked and ran to the exit, abandoning their lunches.

“Level 3 security means someone’s infiltrated the school grounds! This hasn’t happened in three years!” someone yelled as they ran by.

Uraraka grabbed onto your hand and ran with the crowd, Midoriya and Iida following close behind. As soon as your group made it into the hallway, you received a grim reminder of the dire situation. The hall was flooded with an ocean of students, all trying to evacuate at the same time, all panicking and frightened, not knowing what to do. As soon as you entered that crowd, you too were swept away by the current. Despite Uraraka’s efforts, her hand slipped away from yours and Uraraka was carried away by another wave of fearful students. Midoriya fell behind and got lost, drowning in the crowd. You tried to orient yourself, but that was almost impossible with all this shoving and pushing. Trying to keep calm, you searched the crowd for your friends until you saw a familiar head of blue hair being shoved into the windows of the hallway. Oh, thank goodness Iida was tall enough that you could see him over the others. Sending a jab to your right and an elbow to your left, you shoved yourself toward Iida.

“Iida!”

He turned in surprise at your voice. His glasses were gone, having fallen off from all the rough handling. “[First], I looked out the window and it’s just the press, but no one realizes and they’re too busy panicking!” Iida yelled, but his yells were almost drowned out by that of the crowd. His point was perfectly illustrated. “I have a plan but I need Uraraka.”

“You need to get to Uraraka so she can make you float, right?!” you asked, voice raised so he could hear you.

“Yes, but the crowd’s in the way!”

“How much do you weigh?!”

“Huh?” Did Iida hear you correctly? What a bizarre question! “What did you just say?!”

“I can throw you to Uraraka by using my quirk! I can move something as long as I’m touching it and I’ll have better control if I know how much you weigh!” you shouted over the overbearing background yells.

“78 kg!”

‘Ok,’ you thought as your brain’s cogs automatically started turning and calculating. ‘So to temporarily go against the gravity, there needs to be an equal and opposite force acting on the object. Let’s try…’

You grabbed onto Iida’s arm, activating your quirk. ‘765 Newtons up,’ you thought and literally lifted him off the ground. ‘Ok, that seems about right.’ His body felt weightless, as the gravitational forces seemed to be nullified. You spotted Uraraka nearby, who was also being shoved by the crowd ‘Now, to get him to Uraraka… let’s add around 650 Newtons forward and up.’

“Sorry, but it might not be as smooth as you’d like it to be,” you warned Iida as you heaved. “Uraraka, Iida needs you to float him! Head’s up!!!”

As soon as you let go of him, the weightless sort of feeling Iida temporarily experienced disappeared. He soared through the air, but it wasn’t long before gravity acted on him again and made him start losing altitude. Right before he was going to crash land on top of many unsuspecting students’ heads, Uraraka was able to slap his hand, activating her quirk too. Iida jumped into action, lifted the pants leg of his calves, and used his Engine to shoot himself to a spot above the exit, where everyone can see him.

“EVERYONE IT’S OK!” he roared over the hundreds of panicked voices. “IT’S OK! IT’S JUST THE PRESS! YOU’RE AT UA! LET’S CONDUCT OURSELVES IN A DIGNIFIED MANNER!”

Those words were like magic. Those beside the window looked out and confirmed. The yelling died down. Everyone calmed down after realizing it was just the press. All the pushing and shoving stopped.

Thanks to Iida, order returned once more.

Eventually, everything got sorted when the police arrived and shooed away the press. Class began shortly after.

“Alright, class president, start us off,” Yaoyorozu began, gesturing to Midoriya at front podium.

“Uh...” Midoriya stood in front of the classroom, nervous as can be as 20 pairs of eyes stared up at him expectantly. He gulped, and finalized his thoughts. “I need to say that I think Iida would be more suited for the job.” His nerves started to quiet down, enough for him to smile as he explained his reasoning. “You were able to unify people so cooly, and it’s my judgement that Iida becoming class president is the right choice.”

The rest of the class murmured in agreement, all having been there to see Iida calm down the situation at lunch.

“Whatever, as long as you guys decide a class president.” Aizawa couldn’t care less as he lazily lay in his sleeping bag.

Iida proudly got out of his seat. “If it’s the wish of the class president, then I will gladly take his place!” he enthusiastically said as the class welcomed him into his new role.

“Alright, now that that’s taken care of,” Aizawa said as everyone returned to their seats. He climbed out of his sleeping bag and took his place at the podium. “For the foundational skills of heroics we’ll study today, it was decided that you’ll be supervised by a three man team, consisting of me, All Might, and another person.” He cleared his throat. The shelves containing the costumes opened. “Be the hero everyone needs, whether if it’s a flood or disaster. It’s the trial of rescue. The training area is fairly far away, so we’ll get there by bus.”

The class quickly got changed, excited about what today’s rescue lesson would cover. Even the bus trip to the area was full of excitement. Some of your classmates took the time to introduce themselves to the others. Kirishima, the friendly redhead that restrained Bakugo during lunch, could harden his skin. Asui (“Call me Tsu”) had many physical characteristics similar to a frog’s (“Ribbit”). Navel-laser guy, Aoyama, attempted to brag about his quirk but was quickly shot down by the pink-skinned Ashido, who pointed out Aoyama’s stomach aches. The highlight, though, was seeing the always-tough-boy-attitude Bakugo get teased. Electric-guy Kaminari went full savage when he called Bakugo’s personality “redolent as it is of a turd getting steamed in sewage”. You faintly smiled, amused, as Uraraka laughed beside you.

When the students got off the bus and entered the dome like structure in front of them, they were greeted by quite a scene that looked more like a theme park than a rescue zone. A figure in a space suit made his appearance and stepped in front of the class. He must be the “other person” that Aizawa said would be supervising this event. He began speaking, his voice welcoming.

“My name is Thirteen and this is a practical training area that I created to simulate all kinds of accidents and natural disasters. There are flood wrecks, landslides, fires, and many more areas here,” Thirteen explained. Midoriya and Uraraka perked up as soon as they saw the hero, immediately recognizing him and gushing over how he’s a gentlemanly hero who specializes in disaster relief.

“Unfortunately, All Might will not be joining us today, but we’ll still continue on,” Thirteen said as he began introducing the exercise to the class. “My quirk is called ‘Black Hole’. No matter what matter gets sucked into its vortex, it will turn into dust. It may be perfect for removing rubble and debris, but it’s also a quirk that could very much kill someone at the same time, just like all of your quirks,” he gestured to the class.

“Don’t forget that each of you possesses a quirk that can go awry. One wrong step is all it takes to be able to kill others accidently,” Thirteen explained. Your heart skipped a beat and you uncomfortably swallowed, but unnoticed by everyone else. Thirteen continued, “During Mr Aizawa’s quirk apprehension test, you learned the upper limits of your quirks. During All Might’s trial of battle, you learned the dangers of brandishing that power against another person.

“My lesson today will teach you how to wield your quirks for the sake of human life! Empathetically, our quirks do not exist to hurt other people!” Thirteen emphasized. “Please leave this exercise fully understood that your quirks existed to help people!”

Midoriya and Uraraka clenched their fists in excitement, fully ready to start the lesson.

“That is all! You have my gratitude for listening so patiently!” Thirteen concluded.

Suddenly, a sort of purple fog appeared in front of the water fountain. It quickly grew large enough to be the size of a door. The hairs on your neck rose as people, menacing and sinister, traveled through the fog like portal.

‘These… are these pro heroes who will be helping us carry out the trial of rescue?’ you hopefully thought, as if some part of your mind wanted to ignore the ill will you felt coming from the new arrivals. The tension in the atmosphere was powerful, like how you can feel the humidity before a tornado strikes.

Aizawa was first to react. “Stay together and don’t move!” he commanded. “Thirteen, protect the students! These are villains!”

The most bizarre looking one had multiple decoration-like hands gripping his body. He glanced around, as if looking for a specific person. How could he see with that hand covering his face. Whose hands those were, you didn’t want to know.

“Where is he?” the villain with multiple hands spoke in a raspy voice. “We went through all this trouble… and rustled up so many of us to bring along. You can’t tell me All Might, the symbol of peace, isn’t here.” The multiple handed villain continued, as if casually talking about the weather, “I wonder if he’ll show up if we kill the kids.”

Aizawa got into battle stance, pulling his goggles on, readying his scarves for combat and restrainment.

The students of Class 1A began to grow uneasy as panic began to take place.

“Mr Thirteen, what about the intruder alarm sensors?!” the always intelligent Yaoyorozu questioned.

Your mind worked, thinking hard. ‘Today sure sure is unlucky. First the press show up on school grounds, causing a ruckus…’ Then it clicked for you.

“This morning, the press entered school grounds! The villains must have broken through at the same time and used the press to cover up their footsteps!” you yelled.

“An isolated space away from the school building at the same time that a class is scheduled,” you heard a familiar cool voice speak. “They must have some solid objective. This isn’t an ambush without some carefully planned scheme behind it,” Todoroki finished.

“Thirteen, do the evacuation procedure and try calling the school!” Aizawa ordered. “I’ll take them on and buy us some time!” He stared ahead at his opponents, unwavering. “ Don’t worry about me! I have more than a few tricks up my sleeves.”

And he took off, jumping headfirst into the group of villains. You followed Thirteen as he lead Class 1A towards the entrance, ready to escape-.

“I’m afraid I cannot allow that.” The same dark fog appeared in front of the group. Slowly, it materialized roughly into the shape of a person, murderous intent clear in his yellow eyes. “We were informed that All Might would be here, but it appears that he is not. Has something changed?

“You will be scattered, and tortured.” The dark fog making up his body spread with the speed of wildfire, consuming everything in darkness. The black mist continued to talk, as if referencing pigs to the slaughter. “And slain.”
When the black mist wrapped around you, it was as if all light were swallowed. You were left in absolute darkness, only hearing the panicked screams of your friends. “Uraraka!” you hurriedly called, “Midoriya! Iida!”

All of a sudden, light reappeared, temporarily blinding your unadjusted eyes. When you took in your surroundings, you realized you were free falling as gravity took its toll on you. Thankfully, you weren’t very high off the ground, perhaps just the height of a story and a half. With a flick of your wrist, the air surrounding your body kicked into action. A gentle tornado like formation swirled around you, reducing your falling speed. You landed gracefully on your feet, the miniature tornado dissipating. Wondering where everyone else was, you quickly looked around, but all you could see were debris from buildings and fallen rocks. Collapsed terrain surrounded the architectural remains.

You must be in the landslide zone. Were you alone? Surely not.

“Well, look at what we have here,” you heard a male voice speak from behind you. You turned around and found yourself faced with a horde of various people climbing over the rubble of the landslide zone, villainous glints in their bloodthirsty eyes. Some wielded swords and various other blades. Others were mutants and freely waved around the guns or ropes attached to their arms and the like.

“We got lucky,” the same voice from before continued, belonging to a particularly murderous looking male with the face of a lion. He looked her up and down, like a butcher admiring a piece of meat before he sliced it up, like a hunter admired his caught rabbit before slitting its throat. His yellow, cat-like eyes twinkled. He smiled, showing off his white teeth and fangs to match with his lion-like mane. “We get to play with such a sweet little thing.”

Your bright eyes stared back without fear. Although this was your first time dealing with several villains by herself, your nerves remained calm. After all, how different could this be, compared to the training you had to endure before enrolling into UA.

“Well, what are we waiting for?! Let’s rip her apart!” the Lion roared and began the assault. The horde of villains sprinted towards you, all charging you at once with blades raised and claws out. You made no move to get out of the way. Instead, you watched from your spot and carefully analyzed your opponent's’ movements, trying to anticipate any attack patterns or see who will strike first as the villains closed the distance between you and them.

The first villain to attack transformed her hand into a gun. She carefully aimed at your cheek and fired. The villain excitedly watched in glee, expecting your overly calm look to be replaced with terror and agony on your doll-like face once the bullets pierced you. The bullets sliced through the air, ready to blast a hole in you mouth, only to stop in their tracks when they hit you. As soon as they made contact with your cheek, like light hitting a mirror, they were reflected right back towards the villain, causing her to scramble to dodge the projectiles. She rolled off to the side, surprised and shaken. As soon as she regained her footing, she saw a flash of pink skirt, and felt the force of a truck slamming into her as you drove your fist into the villain’s stomach. The villain fell to the ground, knocked out cold.

The second villain struck. He mutated his fingers into metal cords able to bend to his will. Like snakes, with the speed of a cobra, they wrapped themselves around you, like pythons would. Before he could tighten his grip, the cords around you fell loose, being sent away as if some sort of force pushed them off of you without you moving a muscle. In the moment that it took for him to get over his shock, it was too late for him. The last thing he saw before unconsciousness were those calm bright eyes, looking at him as if his attack didn’t even phase you. The last thing he felt before being knocked out cold on the ground was the strength of a dozen professional boxer punches put into the one striking his gut.

After seeing two of their comrades being defeated so quickly, the rest of the villains became uneasy.

“Squad Leader, what should we do?” one asked, clearly unsettled, “It’s like she has a force field or something.”

The Lion male clenched his fist. “You small fry fall back for now,” he commanded, “No matter what sort of force field it is, it will be no match for the strength of my claws and teeth!” He then smirked, his bright long fangs poking out of his mouth. “Watch me as I bite her to death.”

He pounced at you. The muscles on his arm tensed as his claws prepared to strike you, to rip your stomach to shreds. As soon as the sharp tips met you, like bugs hitting a window, they bounced off in the opposite direction. The Lion narrowed his eyes in concentration and swiftly moved to the side, just barely dodging the punch that you threw at him. At this close distance, he tried to analyze you. Your arm itself, your whole body in fact, was not as muscular as he expected. Certainly not muscular enough to knock out two of his men with a single punch to the gut each. What exactly was your quirk? Super strength?

You followed, keeping your eyes on your target as he dodged to the side. ‘Alright,’ you thought, preparing for another punch. ‘Let’s try a force of four thousand Newtons forward again.’

You revved your arm back, and struck, aiming your fist for the Lion’s shoulder. But it seemed like this one was different, smarter and more experienced, compared to the others that you already defeated. Just before the punch hit him, the Lion ducked out of the way. Instead of landing on your target, your fist hit the large block of rubble behind him, causing it to explode into smaller pieces.

‘That’s strange,’ the Lion thought as he observed you some more, ‘No way was that punch strong enough to crush such a big boulder. It doesn’t seem like super strength.’

A third punch came and the Lion dropped down just in time to feel your fist graze his mane-like hair.

“It seems that she’s only using her hands to attack. The others’ attacks must have been stopped because they also tried to hit her upper body. Whatever her quirk is, it might only be confined to her upper half,” the Lion thought, crouched on all fours on the ground, “So if I attack from below, she won’t be able to hit me.” His teeth clamped around your calf, expecting to sink into soft flesh. But, as all other attacks were, this one was futile too. As soon as his teeth touched the outside of your boot, his mouth was forced open by some sort of unknown force, even though you didn’t move a muscle.

“What the hell?” At that moment, the Lion realized the futility of the whole situation. ‘Who is this kid?’ he thought, then corrected himself as you spun around and struck your foot into his abdomen. ‘No. I’m wrong. It’s better to ask what is this monster?’

The force of the kick was enough to send him flying through the air. He crash landed on a pile of rubble and moved no more.

The other villains watching this exchange gasped, scared out of their witts.

“Just what are you?!”

“Squad Leader! Wake up! Are you ok?!”

“What the hell is your quirk? A force field and super strength?”

“Not quite,” you replied, deciding to humour them a little, “It’s called controlling vectors.”

[First] [Last]. Quirk: Vector Control. By touch, she can manipulate vectors in terms of both direction and magnitude. When she’s defending, she usually reflects any oncoming vector traveling at her. What makes this possible is her massive calculating prowess. The drawbacks are… who knows?

Regathering your thoughts, you sighed as your gaze landed on the unconscious Lion. Another one down, but this was dragging on for too long. You wondered what your other classmates were doing. Were they alright? Were they fighting too? You’d better regroup with someone soon and figure out what to do from there, but first, you had to finish this fight with the villain group.

And apparently, the remaining members had other ideas as they all scattered, their tails tucked between their legs, quite literally for some of them. You sighed, annoyed as you began pursuit. At least they could have saved you the trouble of chasing after them.

***
When Shoto Todoroki arrived at the landslide zone, he expected an ambush by the villains. He expected several villains to gang up on him and make it a one on many fight. What he didn’t expect, however, was that the villains who ambushed him were incredibly weak. When they showed themselves, with a gesture of his hand through the air, a surge of cold swept through. Todoroki froze them all to the ground as soon as they warped here, immobilizing them.

Honestly, they were so weak that they couldn’t even break free from this ice.

Another thing that he expected as he fought: reinforcements coming. What he didn’t expect was the “reinforcement” being a single villain. That villain ran towards him strangely, as if he didn’t notice that Todoroki was there. The villain was frantic, constantly looking over his shoulder, as if he were being chased by something. Todoroki sighed, icy breath fanning out as the warm air from his lungs cooled. He dug his foot into the ground and sent a stream of ice in the direction of the villain. Before the frost could reach the villain, a flash of pink dropped from above and knocked him out with a swift kick to the back. Well, at least now Todoroki knew what the villain was being chased by.

You straightened your back leisurely, satisfied that you managed to catch every one of the villains that tried to run from you. You let out a frosty breath. Was it just you or did the air suddenly drop a few degrees? You looked around.

Bright eyes met mismatched grey and aqua.

‘Oh, it’s you!’ you thought.

‘Hmph, it’s you,’ he thought.

Chapter Text

Bright eyes met mismatched grey and aqua.

‘Oh, it’s you!’ you thought.

‘Hmph, it’s you,’ he thought.

Your gaze broke off as you looked around, seeing dozens of villains encased in ice, unable to move.

To be honest, you were a bit jealous of Shoto Todoroki. With just a single wave of his hand, he could freeze and immobilize dozens of enemies all at once while you had to deal with them one by one. Even if your quirk proficiency may have been roughly the same as his, his effectiveness was on a whole other level than yours. While you knocked out your opponents, he kept his still conscious, making it possible for them to answer any question of his if he needed information.

‘He’s strong,’ you admitted to yourself, ‘Very strong.’

“Your quirk is better than mine at restraining people by the masses,” you said. As usual, you received no answer as he ignored you.

Instead, he turned to one of the restrained villains and crouched down to speak with him face to face. “At this rate, you guys will gradually succumb to death by necrosis,” he said, his tone even colder than the ice surrounding the landslide zone. “But since I’m aiming to become a hero, I want to avoid doing horrifying things like that as much as possible.” He narrowed his eyes. “What is the basis of your plan to kill All Might?”

Tears formed in the villain’s eyes, as if he were about to cry from fright.

“It’s ok,” you said. “If you answer the question, we’ll let you go. But if you don’t,” your eyelids lowered. Your tone became darker, more sinister. “Bad things will happen.”

The villain’s eyes, dilating with terror, the same frightful eyes of a wild animal stuck in a cage, glanced at you, then at Todoroki, then at you, then- suddenly shifted to focus on the space between them. The villain’s eyes widened in shock and hope.

“Take this, you bitch!” A voice cried from behind you two.

Your reflexes set your quirk on reflection just as the shiny blade of an axe made contact with the back of your head. The momentum and force vectors of the axe did a 180. The weapon, as if made of rubber, bounced right back, leaving the surprise attacker quite appalled.

‘Honestly,’ you thought, ‘What kind of idiot announces their sneak attack?’

You grabbed the surprise attacker and shoved him at Todoroki. “Hey Todoroki, freeze this one too!” Before you even finished your sentence, frost crept along the ground and encased the attacker in an ice prison, allowing only his face some freedom.

“Time is ticking,” Todoroki reminded the first villain they questioned. The villain’s eyes widened, shocked that the surprise attack didn’t even phase the UA students.

“At this rate, your cells really will start to die, so start answering,” you said. You knelt, sitting on your knees, your skirt fanning out behind you. Face to face with the villain frozen to the ground, you tried again. “What is your plan to kill All Might?”

“P-Please don’t hurt me!” the villain sobbed, probably pissing himself right now. “I don’t want to die! I still want to live!”

“Then answer our damn question!” Your patience was running thin. Time really was ticking, and not just for the villain. Mr Aizawa was probably still fighting at the central plaza against dozens of villains by himself, and you could only hope that the rest of your friends were not injured yet, or worse. But before you could run to your friends’ aid and help them, you had to know what you’re up against. “Why do you think you can kill All Might?”

“W-We have a secret weapon!” The villain cried out, tears spilling down his cheeks.

“Really now? What is this weapon?”

“It’s called Nomu! His strength and speed are said to be equal to All Might’s! He was created for the sole purpose of immobilizing All Might! Then Kurogiri’s job is to create a portal to cut him in half! That’s all I know, I swear! That’s all Boss Shigaraki told us!”

“Is that so? Kurogiri is the one that creates the warp portals while Shigaraki is the one with the hand covering his face, right?” you asked. The villain nodded frantically, his tears freezing to his cheeks. You turned to Todoroki. “I think he’s telling the truth.”

“I suppose the boss behind this didn’t deem it necessary to give more information to the small fry villains,” Todoroki added, wispy ice breath fanning out.

You blinked, surprised that he actually replied to you this time. You turned back to the villain.

“Thank you for your information.” You raised your fist and struck the villain’s temple, knocking him out.

“Alright Todoroki, we’ll knock them all out first before you unfreeze them so they don’t die. Then we’ll go to the central plaza to back up the others. If they’re telling the truth, then Mr Aizawa’s probably fighting that Nomu thing right now.”

“Don’t order me around,” his cold voice responded.

***
This just was not Kirishima’s day. First, he had to squeeze his way through reporters crowding around UA’s entrance. Next, he had to hold on to Bakugo with all his strength to keep him from going on a killing spree. His lunchtime was rudely interrupted when the reporters from before broke through the school gates. During the evacuation procedure, he was run over as other students panicked, trampling him. Then, Class 1A was attacked and split up for the trail of rescue and he had to fight for his life. Thankfully, the villains that he fought were not very strong, so it didn’t take much to restrain them. Despite this unfortunate day, Kirishima faced his obstacles with a manly smile and tried to think positively. Now, he and Bakugo had finished with the horde of villains that came after them and were making their way to the central plaza to back up Aizawa. As he followed Bakugo, he glanced to the side a few times in case any villains may surprise them, but instead of villains, he caught sight of two familiar figures also making their way to Central Plaza. Although they were wearing their hero costumes instead of their school uniforms, Kirishima had no problem recognizing his classmates.

“Hey! [Last]! Todoroki! Over here!” he called.

“Kirishima and Bakugo!” you replied as the two pairs merged into a group of four making its way to Central Plaza. You decided to update them on the situation. “The League of Villains have a weapon or something called Nomu. They say that Nomu is just as strong as All Might and the villains are confident that they can kill him.”

“Ha!” Bakugo laughed. “No matter what it is, I’ll just blow it all up!”

A huge explosion from ahead shook the ground beneath your feet. Debris and rubble were shot so high that they reached the ceiling.

“Guess someone beat you to it, Bakugo,” you said.

You hurried your pace, a sense of urgency coming to mind. Central Plaza came into view, just ahead, the dust gradually clearing.

When the smoke finally dissipated, you saw just how dire the circumstance was. All Might himself was there, yes, but the normal sense of comfort that they should have felt in his presence was replaced with dread due to the situation. All Might was in a predicament. The large black creature, built with muscle, was currently digging his fingers into All Might’s ribs. Blood oozed out, staining his white shirt. Back when he attempted to throw the Nomu creature into the ground, All Might didn’t expect the warping villain to be able to teleport half of the creature’s body out of the way. Now, half of Nomu’s body came from a warp gate behind him, effectively holding him in place. He desperately tried to claw at Nomu’s fingers, but the creature’s grip was too strong to budge. If he didn’t do something soon about this predicament, his fate would take an unfortunate turn.

“All Might!” a familiar voice shouted. You whipped your head to see Midoriya sprinting his way to Central Plaza, desperation clear in his green eyes. However, it was as if the warping villain was prepared for Midoriya. The Warper created another portal out of purple fog directly in front of the unsuspecting Midoriya, expecting him to run head first into the fog and be warped to another place. Or perhaps to be cut in half, like they planned for All Might.

Bakugo was the first to leap into action, propelling himself right into his attack. “Out of the way, Deku!” he shouted. Bakugo’s palm landed on the warping villain, setting off a large explosion as the purple fog in front of Midoriya dissipated, sparing him. The Warper crashed to the ground with Bakugo on top of him, now immobilized unless he wanted his brains blown out.

Todoroki was quick to follow, sending a trail of frost that encased half of Nomu’s body. Kirishima jumped into the air, aiming a punch at Shigaraki. You leapt into action, commanding the vectors of the air molecules around yourself to work together and give you a boost. You arrived at All Might’s side in one leap, and wasted no time to give Nomu’s arm a solid punch, cracking it along with the ice. Now that Nomu’s grip was quite loosened, you immediately wrapped your hands around All Might’s large forearm.

“Sorry Mr All Might, but I’m going to throw you!” you warned as you heaved, sending him through the air. Like a cat, he landed on his feet in front of the newly arrived students. Propelled by the air currents, you landed neatly beside him, facing the villains.

And just like that, the tide was turned…

A few small explosions went off under Bakugo’s hand, threatening Kurogiri trapped under him. “Don’t you move! The second you so much as twitch, I’ll load you with a nice explosion, right here and now!”

“That’s not very heroic,” Kirishima teased. You stifled a laugh.

“Shut up!”

… so why doesn’t it feel like you’ve won already?

The multiple handed villain, Shigaraki, appeared to not be phased at all. “Nomu, go ahead and finish Explosion Boy over there,” he spoke calmly, as if Nomu currently wasn’t immobilized, half his body encased in ice. “We’re rescuing our Warp Gate.”

Nomu began to pull himself up. His frozen limbs cracked under the strain, breaking off. Even though his body was whittling away with the ice, he remained unphased, as if he were incapable of feeling pain, as if he were a mindless machine programmed to blindly obey orders.

All Might immediately reacted. “Stand back, all of you!”

In a few seconds, Nomu’s stumps, remainders of his limbs, started to sprout and grow, like trees made of flesh and bone. First the stark-white bone, then the fleshy muscle twisted and wrapped around the bone, then the ebony skin encased the muscle, completing the regeneration. Nomu stood, frighteningly good as new, completely recovered.

All Might grit his teeth in confusion, eyes narrowing in confusion as they focused on Nomu. “Wasn’t his quirk a Shock Absorption quirk?”

“I never said that was the full extent of his abilities. As you can see, he also has Super Regeneration,” Shigaraki said as he replied to All Might. His tone was almost eerily playful, like a child bragging about his new and expensive toy. “Nomu is a human sandbag artificially crafted to withstand you at your one hundred percent.”

Nomu righted himself on his feet again, then set his eyes on Bakugo. Your eyes widened, suddenly realizing the immediate danger that Bakugo was in. Before you could do anything, faster than the eye could see, Nomu leapt, and punched. Violent roaring winds whipped at you, the aftershock of Nomu’s punch on the atmosphere, just like those caused by All Might’s Detroit Smash. The amount of power this thing had was simply ridiculously scary. Bits of the ground broke off, raining into the air.

“Bakugo!” you screamed as your thoughts whirled, old wounds threatening to reopen... No, not this again... A cold shiver ran down your spine... Enough suffering has happened because of my incompetence already… You whipped your head around, desperately searching for Bakugo, desperately wishing to see him alright, desperately scared of the bloody mess that you might find instead... Please, no more.

“What? Kacchan is here?” you heard Midoriya say from beside you. You snapped your head to your side, eyes widening upon seeing Bakugo perfectly fine right beside you. Relief washed over your body, until you turned to face in Nomu’s direction again. You looked, you saw, and you realized what happened. In that split second, before Nomu reached Bakugo, All Might was the one who pushed Bakugo out of the way without a second thought to his own safety. Nomu looked around in confusion, realizing he missed his target.

Pushed back one hundred meters, knocked through a wall, forearms bruised and battered, coughing up blood, All Might still stood on his two feet. Despite his wounds, he was still smiling, wordlessly reassuring them. You felt admiration swell in your chest. No wonder Midoriya looked up to him so much. His strength, speed, judgement, his compassion… it was no surprise that the title of No 1 hero belonged to him, the skyscraper towering over all the others. Your thoughts ran. As long as All Might was on your side, you could take the villains together. And it seemed that the others were thinking the same thing.

“It’s three on six,” Todoroki pointed out.

“And Kacchan exposed the shadow guy’s weakness,” Midoriya added.

“All Might, we’ll fight these villains alongside you and prove to you our worth,” you reassured.

Just as you finished your sentence, Nomu set his eyes on Bakugo, locating him after a few moments of searching. Nomu straightened up and turned to face the students, that constant dopey yet unsettling smile on his face. With All Might still recovering from the previous blow in the distance, set on following through with his order to finish off Bakugo, Nomu kicked off from the ground towards his target so quickly that he was a blur.

Immediately, you threw yourself in front of Bakugo, shielding him, desperate to protect him as Nomu screeched, steadily and speedily approaching. You grit your teeth, and raised your hand, fingers outstretched, against Nomu just as he drew his arm back to prepare for a punch.

As his fist collided with your palm, a violent raging sea of wind emitted from the point of impact. Your mind whirled, furiously hammering out calculations to nullify this colossal force. This force, this absolute brutality, was stronger than anything that you had ever experienced before. Air currents whipped at your face, and you were reminded of the feeling of the wind on a rollercoaster, but a hundred times stronger. All the hair on the back of your neck stood up, from both fright and adrenaline. You were becoming light headed, barely able to breathe as the brutal wind around you almost knocked the breath out of you. Your tiny palm trembled against Nomu, and you saw that his huge fist shook along with yours. Sweat beaded on your forehead. It was all you could do to hold on.

With every bit of your concentration and mind power, trembling madly, you willed your body to work with you, willed your quirk to work with you against this fierce mass of pure strength that you were facing. With your battle cry, you focused your energy, and pushed. The violent air currents from the collision came to a stop and Nomu was sent crashing away from you, away from the students.

“[Last],” Bakugo murmured from behind you, too shocked to remember to swear and yell.

“Woah, amazing, [Last],” Kirishima said with awe in his voice. “You blew that guy away like it was nothing.”

“N-no, that’s not it. That Nomu… thing is strong,” you gasped out. Only a few seconds had passed since Nomu leapt at Bakugo, though it felt like a thousand to you. You panted. Beads of sweat rolled down your temple. Pain shot through the palm that deflected the attack, shaking and trembling. You gripped it with your other hand and brought it to your chest and hunched over it, cradling it against your body. “One punch from it...” You swallowed the lump in your throat. “One punch was enough to...”

… bring you to near your limit.

“[Last]?” Midoriya asked, concerned.

You inhaled to steady your breathing, calming your thoughts. You mustn’t scare them even more. You exhaled, straightening up. Your arms fell back to your sides, although your palm still pounded painfully.

“No, I’m fine,” you lied. Your eyes fell back on All Might, still badly bruised in the distance. Concern rose for him. “We should be more worried about All Might over there.” Their attention was drawn away from you (thankfully) and focused on All Might again.

“They’re outnumbered,” Midoriya pointed out.

“No you guys.” You tried your hardest to keep your voice level. “We may be able to take on the other two, but the Nomu creature is too strong.”

“These guys are outrageous, but if we give All Might some support, then we’ll send them packing, no problem,” Kirishima confidently said, clanging his hardened fists together. You furrowed your eyebrows. How could you make them understand without frightening them?

“No!” All Might stopped them. “Please escape! I’m thankful for your help earlier, but now I’ll be ok!” He gave them a thumbs up as he kept his gaze focused on the villains in front of him. “All you need to do is watch a Pro show you how it’s done!”

Shigaraki’s response was immediate, quickly giving out orders to his companions. “Nomu, Kurogiri, do your thing.” He turned to face the students. The light that fell on him illuminated all the lines of the hand gripping his face, deepening them. “I’ll deal with the kids.”

All Might readied himself, like a bull ready to charge, staring steadily at the villains. He exhaled, and it was as if steam was coming out of his nostrils.

Shigaraki broke off into a sprint towards your group, eager to shed blood, eager to kill. “Let’s clear the game and return victorious!” he said with glee in his voice.

“He’s coming! Brace yourselves!” Kirishima warned, hardened skin at the ready. Bakugo raised his palm, preparing to set off his explosions. Midoriya tensed, eyeing the steadily approaching opponent.

But Shigaraki had not even reached them when he was blown away by a tremendous wind, raging and violent, sweeping across the grounds. Your hair and clothes whipped against your body, and you were forced to crouch to avoid losing your footing in the tornado like force. Your eyes traced to the wind’s origin, and found All Might sending punch after punch, blow after blow at Nomu, who matched every attack with his own.

“A full frontal blow for blow?” Midoriya gasped from beside you, arms in front of his face, trying to shield himself from the aftershock winds of the fight.

“It’s shock absorption, not total nullification! It must have a limit!” It was a wonder how All Might’s words could be heard above the raging hurricane.

“He was made to withstand my one hundred percent...?!” The floor around his feet became hot and cracked as he continued to push himself, racing his limit against time.

“... Then I’ll just go beyond that one hundred percent!”

You watched with fright and awe, your jaw slacked. Even from this distance, you could still feel the earth breaking, ground shattering strength and intensity behind every one of All Might’s punches. The ground was steaming. Every hit that All Might delivered was able to make your heart leap in throat, just like how the heartbeat follows the powerful beating of a drum. You were left holding your breath as All Might pummeled the Nomu creature with such vigor, speed, concentration that Nomu’s shock absorbent quirk could not keep up, completely overwhelmed. All you could do, like the other students watching this battle, was lift your arms up to shield your eyes from the dust and pieces of wreckage. All you could do, as you were faced with the strength of All Might’s vigor, energy, spirit, was to keep from being blown away by the vicious winds like the pieces of rubble around you.

“Do you know of what I speak, villain?!” All Might roared as he put every last ounce of energy, every last fiber of his being into the last punch, sinking his fist into Nomu’s stomach.

“PLUS ULTRA!” All Might’s fist seemed to steam with energy. Nomu took the blast, the brunt of the hit, and was sent shooting into the air like a rocket. His body flailed around like a ragdoll as he crashed through the ceiling of the dome building and out of sight.

“Amazing,” you whispered, eyes wide. You thanked the lucky stars that someone as strong as All Might was on your side and not against you.

“What is this? A comic book?” Kirishima asked, bewildered. “It’s like he pounded the shock absorption out of him, the ultimate meathead.”

“So that power was bullshit in the end...” Even Bakugo was amazed. “And he even beat him to a pulp so fast his regeneration couldn’t activate in time.”

And once again, you were reminded of your own incompetence. The gap between you and All Might was the same gap between an ant and a bear, between a bacterium and a shark, between a butterfly and an eagle. Your strengths were oceans apart, mountains apart, worlds apart. Once again, you were reminded of how much you had to work and train in order to become stronger to fill that seemingly endless abyss, the void between your strength and his.

And once again, you were reminded of the path that lay ahead of you, the thorny road you must take in order to become the number one hero. To carry out your mother’s dream. To fulfil a promise you made to yourself. And, above all else, to find your bastard of a father. To find the answers to your unanswered questions. To fight him with your own strength, sink your fists into him until he becomes a bloody mess, to tear him into shreds because no excuse he could possibly offer is good enough. To personally be the one to end his sorry excuse of a life for what he did to you, for what he did to your mother. All to calm the violent waters of revenge buried deep inside yourself.

“I really have gotten weaker. In my prime, it would have taken five good punches, tops. Now I threw more than three hundred of those suckers.” All Might admitted. He straightened up, steam still rising from the ground. A charge surged through your body, like electricity, but warm and comforting. You were saved.

All Might turned to face the remaining two villains. Steam seemed to evaporate off of his body, probably sheer energy overflowing from his being. “Now then, villain, we both want to end this as soon as possible.”

Shigaraki grit his teeth, clenched his fist, enraged and mocked. “You used cheats,” he growled. “You’ve gotten weaker? You lie, we were totally overpowered! How dare you lay a hand on my Nomu...” It was like he was throwing a tantrum, like an arrogant little boy whose expensive and shiny toy broke on the way back from the store. “There is no way you’re weaker now.” His fingers rose to his neck, furiously scratching. “Did He… Did He lie to me?”

“What’s the matter? Where’d your bravado go? You said you’d ‘clear’ this or something, right?” you heard All Might press on. Blue fire blazed from behind his eyes. His voice deepened, dangerous and threatening. “Try it if you can!”

“That’s All Might for you,” Todoroki said. “Looks like there’s no need for us to fight.”

“We really should be drawing back right now, otherwise we might end up being used as hostages,” Kirishima suggested.

“Well, what are you waiting for?!” All Might’s booming voice echoed. Shigaraki’s fingers wildly scratched his neck. If he continued, he’d probably be drawing blood soon.

“Shigaraki Tomura, please calm yourself,” Kurogiri spoke up to snap him out of it. “If you look more closely, you can clearly see the damage Nomu caused him. Shigaraki, if you and I combine our strengths, we still have a chance of killing him.”

“Yeah. You’re right.” Shigaraki’s hands stopped scratching at the raw skin of his neck. “Let’s defeat this final boss.”

“Let All Might handle the principal offenders,” Kirishima said as he, Bakugo, Todoroki, and you began making your way towards the USJ entrance, but Midoriya still stayed rooted to his spot.

“Midoriya?” you asked, looking over your shoulder. He didn’t reply.

You put a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, scared that he might run off and face the villains himself. “Midoriya,” you said, “We really should pull back right now.”

He gave no response, still staring with unease and worry written all over his face.

“Midoriya...” You shook his shoulder a little bit, unaware of the thoughts racing in his mind.

In the distance, Kurogiri and Shigaraki launched themselves at All Might. At that moment, Midoriya threw your hand off his shoulder and flung himself towards the heat of the battle, faster than the eye could see.

“Get away from All Might!” he shouted as he approached them, but Shigaraki’s speed matched his, holding his palm up, activating his quirk, with Midoriya on the track to barrel right into it-

A bang rang out as a bullet dug its way into Shigaraki’s outstretched hand.

“So they’ve finally arrived!” All Might said with relief.

You turned to look where All Might was facing. There, above the stairs, beneath the entrance of the dome building, stood the Pro Hero teachers of UA, each in their unique costumes, battle ready.

More shots rained down upon the villains. Kurogiri circled his black mist around Shigaraki, shielding him.

“We might have failed this time, but we’ll get you next time, All Might,” Shigaraki’s threat did not go unheard before he was warped away.

Everything was a blur after that. The police arrived and effectively sorted everything out. The press managed to film the students as they walked out of USJ before they were ushered away. You were relieved to find that, besides Midoriya’s injuries from his own quirk, Uraraka and the rest of your classmates were unharmed. The pain in your own hand from before had subsided. The students were transported back to UA. In the change room, the air hung densely, everyone silently thinking about the day’s events. You almost didn’t hear Uraraka say she was leaving early. You didn’t blame Uraraka for wanting time to herself since you too needed some time alone to think. Your thoughts of the ordeal swarmed you as you replayed the events in your mind.

The arrival of the Pro Heroes... All Might’s battle against Nomu… Nomu’s punch almost bringing you to your limit… You grit your teeth and shook your head. You already knew you had your work cut out for yourself. You already dwelled on those thoughts enough. You moved on.

Meeting up with Kirishima and Bakugo… Being warped to the landslide zone… Finding Todoroki... Questioning the villains with Todoroki… Knocking out the villains with Todoroki… The look in Todoroki’s eyes as he melted the ice surrounding the knocked out villains… That look in his eyes as he used his left side, his heat side...

You blinked, snapping yourself out of your imagination. You finished changing and packed your stuff, quickly out the door of the change room and into the hallway. The door to the male change room closed at the same time as the female one, catching your attention.

And once again, you found yourself face to face with that certain boy with the certain ice quirk and certain, beautiful mismatched eyes. He took a glance at you, and turned to walk away, ignoring you.

“Hey, Todoroki! Wait,” you called out, walking quickly to catch up with him down the hallway. He turned a corner, and you followed. You gathered your thoughts. “I have a few questions for you.”

“I don’t have to answer anything.” It was as if he knew what you were going to ask.

“Is there a reason you cover up the left part of your body with ice every time you fight?”

When he remained silent, you pressed on.

“There are three times I’ve seen you fight,” you began. “During the quirk apprehension test on our first day. When we were paired together for the trial of battle a few days ago. When we were put in the landslide zone today and fought the villains. All three of these times, I’ve seen your quirk.”

The two of you turned another corner. You continued, “Even though your quirk gives you both ice and fire, for all three of these times, I’ve only seen you use ice during combat. Is there a reason to that? Is there a reason why you never use fire?”

You quickened your pace, stepping in front of him, blocking his path. He stopped and faced you, his beautiful eyes glaring into your own. The hallway in which you two were currently stood was empty.

“It’s none of your business.” His usually cool mismatched eyes were burning in cold rage, silently telling you that you’re treading in dangerous waters and that bad things will happen if you press anymore into this matter. And yet, through all that cold rage, dangerous intimidation, silent aggression threatening you to not dig any deeper, through all that flickered something. Beneath all that lay an emotion he restrained. You could tell that he had been hiding it for years, and thus it would be quite difficult for an untrained eye to pick up…

“You’re in my way,” he harshly said as he pushed past you, leaving you behind as he turned another corner.

… but you picked up on it right away.

To you, he looked sad. So sad and hurt and alone that he couldn’t stand it but didn’t want anyone else to know it.

You knew those eyes.

You saw that look every time you were alone and in front of a mirror.

Those eyes… they were your eyes reflected back at you.

Chapter Text

School was closed the day after the USJ incident, giving the students a day off. But even when the students returned to school after a day of rest and took their seats in the classroom, a sense of terror and gloom still hung about the air like a stink that wouldn’t go away. No one knew how to bring up the class spirits.

Even so, Iida never wavered in his position as class president. The bell for first period rang and Iida stood at the front of the class, behind the raised podium, arms out and gesturing energetically as he barked out instructions to the class.

“All right! Listen, it’s time for the morning’s homeroom period!” Iida commanded. “Take your seats everyone!”

Unfortunately, it seems that he was a bit too eager to carry out his class president duties. He forgot to glance around the classroom and notice that everyone was already at their desks before issuing out the order.

“We are in our seats!” Sero, the tape guy, pointed out. “You’re the only one who’s not.”

After that realization, Iida ruefully made his way to his seat. “Shoot,” he muttered, disappointed with himself.

“Don’t sweat it,” Uraraka reassured him. You reached over Uraraka to pat him on the back.

“Tsu,” Ashido said as leaned back on her seat to face Asui, “who do you think is going to teach homeroom today?”

“Ribbit, Mr Aizawa is supposed to be recovering in the hospital due to his injuries, right?”

Just then, the door rattled open, and a very familiar voice, a very Aizawa voice spoke, “Morning.”

Everyone turned to look at the figure beneath the doorframe. Aizawa, although up on his feet, had his entire face covered with bandages, making him look like a carefully wrapped mummy. Even his eyes were covered by the bandages, and it was a wonder how he could see his students. His wrapped arms were in slings resting across his neck. One thing was for certain though: it was incredibly impressive of him to exit the hospital and teach in his current state.

“MR AIZAWA, YOU’RE BACK TOO SOON!” nearly the whole class unanimously screeched.

“That’s way too pro,” Kaminari gasped in shock.

Iida immediately raised his hand. “Mr Aizawa, you’re alright!”

“Can you really call that alright...?” Uraraka muttered.

Aizawa steadily made his way behind the podium. “Don’t concern yourselves over me.” He cleared his throat. “After all, the battle hasn’t really ended for you yet.”

The heavy atmosphere of gloom darkened even more.

“The battle?” Bakugo repeated.

“You don’t mean...” Midoriya began to get cold sweats.

“More villains?!” Mineta added on.

“UA’s Sports Festival is coming up!” Aizawa finished.

“I KEEP FORGETTING THIS IS AN ACTUAL SCHOOL!” again, almost everyone simultaneously screeched.

“Wait, won’t villains try to infiltrate that too? Would it be alright?”

Aizawa had his answer ready for them. “Actually, since we’re going on ahead with the festival, it shows that the school is confident that it can handle any possible future crisis. I hear police presence will be five times bigger than normal now, for example. What you should be thinking about is the huge opportunity this festival will give you guys. This isn’t some event that will be stopped by a few villains.

“Our sports festival is one of Japan’s biggest events!” Aizawa said, a hint of pride in his usual monotone voice. “In the past, there was a sports festival called the Olympics that united the whole nation under enthusiasm. Now, times have changed and what has taken the place of the Olympics in Japan is the UA Sports Festival!”

Yaoyorozu was quick to grab the point. “The country’s top heroes are all sure to be watching us!”

Aizawa continued, “Naturally, entering the squad of a famous hero will get you higher status and more experience. If you get noticed by a pro, that gives you a chance for a brighter future than if you don’t. You only get this chance once a year, so you can’t overlook it!”

The class burst into excited murmurs.

You leaned over towards Uraraka. “Hey Uraraka...” you began, before catching sight of the look on Uraraka’s face. The usually cute and bubbly Uraraka had her eyebrows furrowed in concentration and determination. A dark aura, chilling and intimidating, surrounded her small body. Uraraka turned her head towards you. When your eyes made contact, you felt a shiver run down your spine.

“[First], I will do my best,” a deeper, a comically demonic-like voice spoke through Uraraka.

“Y-yeah. Good luck!” you replied, slightly unnerved as Aizawa began homeroom.

***
When lunchtime came, the hype for the upcoming Sports Festival seemed to have built significantly. A bunch of the guys gathered in the back, eagerly talking about the festival and getting scouted by pros. You could almost literally feel the heat from the aura of excitement and was glad that it replaced the aura of gloominess from the morning.

But a certain girl’s chilling and intimidating aura from this morning seemed to have intensified.

“Hey Uraraka, you alright?” You were concerned.

“Let’s crush this Sports Festival,” Uraraka growled out.

“Woah, everyone’s so pumped,” Midoriya noted.

“You’ve enrolled in UA to become a hero, so getting fired up at this opportunity is only natural!” Iida gestured wildly with his hands, using a series of ridiculous hand motions as if he were doing hand gymnastics. You made your way towards them.

“Iida, you have a habit of doing, um,” you paused to think of a nicer word, “odd hand motions, don’t you?”

“Huh? Why do you ask?” Iida asked, his hands flying around as he spoke.

You deadpanned, then sighed. “Nevermind that, Uraraka seems a little weird right now and I’m a bit worried...”

Speak of the devil (almost literally this time), Uraraka’s demon voice came from behind them. “Deku, Iida,” she growled out, a dark and sinister shadow over her face, “Let’s crush the Sports Festival!”

“Woah Uraraka! Your face! Your face!” Midoriya yelled out, his tone full of surprise. Uraraka turned to the guys excitedly talking at the back of the class.

“Guys, I’m gonna do my best!” she screeched at Kirishima and Sero, punching the air with vigor.

“Yeah!” Kirishima responded excitedly, then added in a smaller voice, “You don’t seem like your usual self...”

“Hey Uraraka,” your concern for your dear friend rose. “Let’s go get lunch.” You took Uraraka’s hand and subtly guided your demon-aura-surrounded-friend out of the classroom, Midoriya and Iida following.

As you made your way through the hallways, Uraraka’s demon aura seemed to lessen significantly.

“Sorry,” she apologized, realizing her previous actions, “I guess the nervousness for the festival just overflowed and… I realize this is a huge opportunity for pros to scout us and I really need to do well so I can become a hero.”

“Uraraka, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you, but why do you want to become a hero?” Midoriya asked.

Her usually pink cheeks reddened. Her hand raised to the back of her head and scratched absentmindedly, guiltily. A sort of embarrassed smile appeared on her face. “I want to make money.”

“You want to be a hero for money?!” Midoriya questioned, surprised.

“Yeah, I guess ultimately,” Uraraka admitted, putting her hands on her face in an attempt to hide her red, ashamed cheeks. “Sorry, I know it sounds lame, like I’m not being pure as a hero… and Iida’s here doing it for high-minded principles and stuff, so I’m so embarrassed!”

“Don’t be!” Iida said frantically, desperate to comfort her. You weren’t sure if Iida noticed or anything, but his arms were flying about as if he were doing super high speed yoga. “What on earth is there not to admire about applying yourself to aim for a comfortable life?”

“Yeah, but it is unexpect-” Midoriya tried to say, before you sent him a glare to stop talking.

Uraraka continued to shuffle uncomfortably on her feet. Her eyes seemed to find interest in the floor. “My parents have a construction company, but there’s just no real work, and we’re flat broke! And my parents deserve better than this...” And then she said in a smaller, meeker voice, “I probably shouldn’t be telling anyone about things like this but...”

You put your hand on Uraraka’s shoulder, causing her warm brown eyes to meet your bright understanding ones.

“Uraraka, don’t worry about it,” you assured her. “We’re not judging you or anything like that, we’re your friends. In fact, we really appreciate you opening up to us about these things.” You then turned to the guys, sending a threatening glare at them. “Right guys?”

“R-right!”

Uraraka visibly relaxed. “Thanks you guys.”

“Your parents have a construction place, right?” Iida asked. Uraraka nodded.

“With a quirk like yours, it’d be super beneficial if you get permission to use it in public,” Midoriya offered.

“I know right?! That’s what I told my dad!” Uraraka said with renewed energy, “And he just said that it was more important for me to achieve my own dreams instead. But...” Something seemed to flash behind those warm brown hues. Her brows unfurrowed, as her hand clenched in focus around her skirt. She exhaled, turning to face her three friends.

“I’m going to become a hero to earn money, without fail,” Uraraka vowed, determination filling her being with purpose. “I’m going to give my mom and dad the easy life they deserve!”

“Uraraka, that’s amazing of you,” you said genuinely. “You aren’t doing it for yourself, but you’re doing it to help the people you love. I think that’s a very pure reason for wanting to become a hero.”

“Uraraka, bravo!” Iida agreed.

“OH THERE YOU ARE! MIDORIYA MY BOY!” You all jumped at the booming voice that came from behind them. All Might had just entered from around the corner of the hallway, holding a small lunch box wrapped in baby blue cloth.

Then, in an unexpected meek voice, the No 1 hero said “Want to eat together?”

“You sound like a teenage girl!” Uraraka snorted at All Might, overwhelmed at the cuteness as Midoriya followed him to his office. You, Uraraka, and Iida made your way to the cafeteria and lined up for your lunches.

“I wonder… what’s going on with Deku?” Uraraka asked.

“I heard he jumped in the second All Might was getting attacked,” Iida replied, “It might have something to do with that.”

“He did,” you confirmed, “After All Might beat the Nomu creature, we thought that it would be best for us to leave because we might just get in All Might’s way, but Midoriya didn’t move.” You furrowed your eyebrows. Although All Might won against Nomu and could have easily taken down Shigaraki and Kurogiri, Midoriya still looked scared... “And as soon as another villain rushed at All Might, Midoriya jumped in faster than I could see.” Now that I think about it, Midoriya’s quirk is very similar to All Might’s… You paused before continuing, “Now that I think about it, I feel like Midoriya and All Might may have some sort of connection that he didn’t tell us about… ”

At that moment, you felt like you were being watched, and by someone other than Uraraka and Iida, and your sentence trailed off. When you looked around, your eyes locked onto a pretty pair. A certain pretty heterochromatic pair whose owner had been trying to avoid you ever since you questioned him about his quirk. As soon as your eyes caught his, Todoroki turned to face away from you, pretending he hadn’t been listening to your conversation.

“Hey [First]? Are you ok?” Uraraka asked. “Were you just looking at-”

“I’m fine,” you quickly said, quickly enough for Uraraka to raise her eyebrows. “Anyway, I feel like Midoriya and All Might share a connection that we don’t know about.”

“His super strength is a lot like All Might’s,” Iida agreed, “So he might have taken some interest in him.”

You nodded. And you were sure, although he had turned away when your eyes met, that Todoroki was actively listening to your conversation again.

***
The bell rang, signalling the end of the day for the tired students. You swung your bag over your shoulder and joined Uraraka, Iida, and Midoriya as they made their way to the classroom door. But, as soon as Uraraka put her hand on the door and slid it open, the entire Class 1A was greeted by a horde of students all crowding, pushing and shoving, at the classroom entrance. For a moment, you thought about the possibility of another school evacuation taking place, but that thought disappeared when you noticed that the crowd was pushing to try to see into the Class 1A room.

“W-woah,” Uraraka gasped out. “What the heck?!”

“They’re crowding the exit,” grape boy Mineta said, “What are they here for?”

“They’re scouting out the competition, stupid,” Bakugo answered in true Bakugo fashion. “They wanna see the gang who survived the villain ambush. They’re checking us out before the big battle, asshole.”

“Sorry,” Midoriya muttered an apology to a shaking Mineta, “That’s him in neutral mode.”

“It’s pointless to try, so why don’t you just fuck off, you goddamn extras?” Bakugo aggressively growled at the crowd.

“Bakugo, don’t be calling them extras right off the bat!” Iida screeched, his Class Rep mode on.

A new voice then broke through the crowd. “I came to see what the famous Class 1A is like, but I didn’t think you’d be this arrogant.” The owner of the voice successfully made his way to the front of the crowd. A guy, with messy purple hair that stuck up in many directions kind of like Midoriya’s hair, stood in front of Bakugo at the doorway, unafraid and unshaken. “Are all students in the hero course this way?” he asked. Midoriya and Iida furiously shook their head.

“Huh?” Bakugo challenged.

“I’m a bit delusional, so that’s it, huh?” the purple haired guy continued, “There are lots of kids who wind up in the general education department or other departments because they didn’t make it into the hero one. Did you know that?” His face remained calm, but his eyes sent off a challenging stare at Bakugo. “And based on the results from the Sports Festival, some people may be transferred into the hero course to replace others. And a general education kid like me is thinking...” His eyes left Bakugo and trailed around the Class A room, showing the students of Class 1A that he’s talking to all of them. “I can try pulling the rug out from under those heroics kids while they’re on their high horses. Consider it declaration of war.”

He swiftly turned on his heel and walked away, pushing his way through the crowd.

“Wow, the other classes really don’t like us,” you commented as Iida, Uraraka, and Midoriya all gulped nervously.

Then, another loud and obnoxious voice broke out from the crowd. “Hey you! I’m from Class B!” The owner of this voice elbowed and shoved his way through. Now, a grey haired male with odd rings around his eyes stood in front of Bakugo. “I heard you fought villains or whatever so I came to hear it from myself!” His eyebrows furrowed in anger as his voice rose. “But I don’t wanna hear it from some snot nosed punk! Don’t embarrass us during the main event, you hear me?!”

Bakugo seemed unfazed, and simply started to push his way through the horde, completely ignoring the declarations of war.

“Wait a second Bakugo, what did you just do?” Kirishima frantically said, “Now everyone’s going to start hating on us!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Bakugo said with determination and inhospitable, eyes calm and cold, “None of that matters when you’re at the top.” And he disappeared from sight into the crowd.

“That’s so simple and full of manliness,” Kirishima appreciated, a manly tear at the corner of his eye.

“The top, huh?” confirmed Tokoyami, the guy that kinda looked like, well, uh, a bird. “There’s truth in that.”

“Don’t listen to that dumbass! All he did was make us some new enemies for no reason!” Kaminari pointed out.

You glanced to your side, and found your friends standing stiffly, nervous grimaces on their faces.

“Come on, guys, snap out of it,” you said, trying to lift their spirits. “The Sports Festival is in two weeks, so we’d better be working hard and training so we’ll do well. We can all train together if you want,” you offered.

Uraraka’s worried expression relaxed. “Yes [First], that sounds good. We can begin tomorrow,” she said with a smile, her Uraraka-energy returning.

“Hey are we making training groups already?” the pink skinned Ashido asked. “Let me join you guys!”

“The more the merrier,” Uraraka said happily.

“Moi aussi,” said Aoyama.

“You’re the navel laser guy, right?” you asked.

“Oui,” he said, and a sparkle seemed to appear out of thin air, hovering beside his face.

“Ok, so that’ll be six of us, right?” you asked. “I’m sure we can ask to use a training area somewhere on school grounds. We can begin tomorrow.”

“Sorry guys,” Midoriya apologized, “I still need to work quite a bit on my quirk, and I need to do that by myself.”

“I’m afraid I will have to say no to this too,” Iida added. “My quirk is more suited for individual practice.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Uraraka said, pumping her fist into the air. “We’ll still all do our best and kill the Sports Festival!”

Her energy was infectious, and the small group mimicked her. Several fists met the air with a resounding, unified “Yeah!”

And the two weeks passed by in a flash. Everyday after school, you, Uraraka, Ashido, and Aoyama would gather at the training ground that greatly resembled the landslide zone at USJ, with its crushed buildings and large pieces of rubble. In one of your typical training sessions, Uraraka would make pieces of rubble float. Provided with these floating targets, you, Ashido, and Aoyama would attack. Ashido’s slime touched the targets, hissing would come from the rubble as the acid corroded it. Beams of bright blue light would fire through the air, courtesy of Aoyama, easily cutting the targets in half. Once, unfortunately, Aoyama was not careful and a piece of rubble fell from the sky and hit him on the head and a surprised “Oh” escaped from him. Your quirk was more versatile and you changed your tactics quite often. Sometimes, you would command the air vectors and make miniature tornados on your back, pushing yourself off the ground so you could eliminate the targets using close combat. Other times, you would put your hand on other pieces of wreckage, which were all several times bigger than your body, and fling them at your targets. And every time Ashido or Uraraka would try to compliment you use of your quirk, you would blush and become quite awkward. Nonetheless, these training sessions with newly made friends made you happy, and came to an end too soon.

“The Sports Festival is tomorrow, isn’t it?” Ashido mentioned when the final group training session ended.

“Yes it is,” Uraraka confirmed. “Good luck to everyone! I’m sure our training wouldn’t be for nothing.”

“Now it is time for me to go home and get my beauty rest,” Aoyama said as he made his way home, “Bonne chance.”

“I’m headed this way too, so see you tomorrow [First] and Uraraka,” Ashido said, waving goodbye. “Good luck for tomorrow!”

“Good luck!” you and Uraraka called after the two of them before they turned a corner and disappeared from sight.

“Alright [First],” Uraraka said, “I’m off to the subway station.” Then, Uraraka felt a buzz from her phone and her face immediately fell when she read the message. “Ugh, just my luck. My neighbour just texted me and told me there had just been a villain attack at the station and there are complications with the trains now.”

“Uraraka,” you said, “Why don’t you spend the night at my apartment?”

“No, I couldn’t possibly inconvenience you like-”

“Don’t worry about it, I have sleeping bags and I’d love some company,” you said, offering a smile. “It’s a ten minute walk from UA.” And before Uraraka could protest any further, you took her hand and led her down the street until the two of you stopped in front of a huge modern looking building. The building, extremely clean looking with most of it covered in glass, shocked Uraraka with its size and splendor. A small garden, filled with flowers of all colours and shapes, decorated the front of the entrance, with small man made waterfalls flanking them on either side. Everything about this apartment building screamed expensive and grand to Uraraka.

“Y-you live in this?” Uraraka gasped out.

“Yeah, let’s go in!” you excitedly said, eager to show Uraraka the inside. You pulled your stunned friend along, through the beautiful garden, past the miniature man made waterfalls, and tapped your ID card on the scanner beside the large glass doors. It beeped and the doors swung open for you two, and you continued to pull your stunned friend along.

The inside was just as, if not more, grand than the outside. For heaven's sake, the floor seemed to be made of marble! All Uraraka could manage was to be pulled along, stupefied and overwhelmed, as you guided her along to the elevator, pushing the button to call the lift down.

“I live on the 15th floor,” you said, trying to get your friend’s attention. The two of you stepped into the elevator when the large doors swung open, then closed behind you.

“How expensive was your apartment unit?” Uraraka managed to get out.

“Oh, that, I’m not sure about the details, because my uncle bought it and fully furnished it for me.”

“Your uncle must be rich!”

“I guess...” you rubbed the back of your head, kind of embarrassed. “I’m not really sure what he does, though… he always kind of dodged the question when I asked him.”

Uraraka gave you an anxious look. “Does he sell drug-”

“Don’t worry Uraraka, he’s not a drug dealer or anything sketchy like that. He has a very strong sense of morals.”

“Is he a hero, then?”

“No, I don’t think so,” you sighed. “He never mentioned anything of the sort when we talked about heroes. Even if he did used to be a hero, I highly doubt he would be able to continue because he got into an accident five years ago that made him lose his entire stomach and heavily damaged his lungs. It was a miracle he was able to survive.”

Uraraka raised a hand to her mouth. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s ok,” you offered a smile. The elevator dinged, the doors slid open, and you led Uraraka down the hall. “He’s still alive and kicking. But he doesn’t live with me because he’s overseas seeing a doctor about his condition. Well, at least that’s what he told me. And he told me he’ll be watching me on TV for the Sports Festival, so I’ll do my best for sure.”

“What about your parents?” Uraraka asked.

“My mother passed away when I was young,” you said briskly. “My uncle was the one who took me in when I had nowhere else to go.”

“I’m so sorry, [First],” Uraraka said, eyebrows furrowed in guilt. “I didn’t mean to dig up any painful memories or anything.”

“Don’t worry about it. It was a long time ago, so it’s fine now.” You pulled out your key, unlocking your apartment. The door swung open. You smiled. “Well, here we are. Come on in.”

“Woah your apartment’s gorgeous!” Uraraka’s eyes swept around the very western like space. This place was as different from a regular Japanese apartment as you could get! This place was airy and spacious, and an orange hue from the setting sun came through the large windows.

“Thanks,” you said, grinning.

***
After the two of you had dinner (you boiled some frozen dumplings from the freezer) and bathed, you rolled out two sleeping bags onto your large king sized bed. Immediately, Uraraka’s eyes fell onto the figure illustrated on one of the bags.

“That’s Reggie the Teddy Bear, isn’t it?!” she asked.

Immediately your cheeks burned red. “Yeah, it is,” you mumbled defensively, glaring at a spot on the floor. “This bag was from when I was a kid and I just never threw it out and… it’s not like I’m into this stuff or anything.”

But Uraraka could see straight through the facade. She gave a knowing smile. “It’s fine to like something like this. It shows me more of your cute girly side.”

“Please don’t tell anyone,” you pleaded in a quiet voice.

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” Uraraka held back her giggles. “I think you just had a tsundere moment!” she teased.

“Uraraka, say another word about it and I’ll tickle you to death.”

Uraraka just giggled, but said no more.

You flipped the light switch and the light through the curtains became the only thing illuminating the room. Gradually, your eyes adjusted to the darkness as the two of you made your way to your sleeping bags and wiggled in. It didn’t take long for the silence to be broken.

“So [First], let’s gossip.” Uraraka said excitedly, her eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. “Wanna talk about boys?”

“Sure, if you want to.”

“Do you like anyone?”

“Nope.” Your answer was quick. Uraraka suspiciously raised her eyebrows.

“Sure...”

“Uraraka, I’m serious. I don’t like anyone,” you said honestly.

“Ok then. What do you look for in a boyfriend?” Uraraka’s round cheeks were pulled into a grin and her tone was sing-songy.

You hesitated, thinking hard before answering.

“Hmm… I actually don’t really know. I’ve never really thought about things like this. Maybe someone who’d value me as a person and who’d care about me,” you replied. “What about you?”

Uraraka paused to think too.

“I think I’d want someone who’s hardworking and really sweet. Someone who’s able to motivate me and help me grow in strength and as a person,” Uraraka summarized.

“That’s oddly specific,” you commented. “Are you sure you’re not just describing Midoriya?”

“M-Midoriya?! Why Deku?”

Your lips curved into a smirk. “I hope you weren’t trying to be sneaky about it because I certainly noticed how much you look in Midoriya’s direction. We should call you Stare-araka.”

“Wh-what?!” Uraraka’s face flushed. “W-well, you shouldn’t be the one talking because you stare at Todoroki all the time too, Miss Stare-[First]!”

“That’s not fair Uraraka! You can’t steal my pun!” you retorted. Then you added in a murmur, “By the way, I don’t stare.”

“Well, then I don’t stare at Deku either!”

The combination of her obvious denial and her pouting cheeks caused you to snort with laughter. Uraraka gave a screech of frustration, leaping out of her sleeping bag and started raking her fingernails across your sides. Immediately, your teasing laughs turned into roaring laughs of desperation at being tickled. Whether Uraraka did it on purpose or accidently out of exasperation, you felt all the gravitational forces leave you and the two of you started floating through the apartment. In mid air, you frantically twisted and turned, your limbs flailing uncontrollably, but Uraraka didn’t yield, digging her fingernails deeper into her victim’s ribs.

“Take it back!” Uraraka cried above your wild laughter. “I don’t like-like Deku like that!”

“OK OK I TAKE IT BACK URARAKA PLEASE!” you managed to choke out as the two of you hovered closer to the ceiling. Uraraka, satisfied with your answer, stopped the tickle torture, and finally seemed to realize that the two of you were floating.

“Release,” Uraraka muttered as she put her fingertips together.

“To be honest, I think you’ll be good for each other,” you said seriously as you landed. “You guys already get along and really motivate each other and-”

“[First], please!” Uraraka’s face resembled a tomato. “Let’s talk about something else!”

“Alright, alright. Let’s talk about the other Class A guys.” You decided to spare her, as the two of you made your way back to your sleeping bags. “First of all, that pervert Mineta is just gross. I’m sure that all the girls know that.”

“Agreed. That grape boy has absolutely zero boyfriend potential because he’ll scare all the girls away with his personality.” Uraraka pulled the sleeping bag cover over herself. She then put her finger to her chin, thinking. “Hmm, let’s move on to another boy. How about Iida?”

“Iida is hardworking, a trait that you look for,” you replied, “but I feel like he’ll be a bit too serious sometimes as a boyfriend.”

“But he’s certainly a very good Class Rep,” Uraraka kindly added.

“Yes, for sure,” you nodded.

“What about Bakugo?” Uraraka asked. She then nervously laughed. “Bakugo is very...”

“Intense,” you finished for her.

“Yeah, I feel like his fiery temper would get a bit in the way of romance.”

“He also works hard too and wants to become a hero like the rest of us,” you said, “But yeah, his temper would scare the girl off.”

“I remember that time after the Class Rep election. Kirishima had to hold on to him to stop him from being violent with you,” Uraraka recalled.

“Meh.” You rolled over in your sleeping bag to lie on your stomach. “Speaking of Kirishima, I think he’d be a good boyfriend. He’s nice and sensible.”

Uraraka raised her eyebrows. “Oh, so it’s Kirishima? Not Todoroki?”

“Uraraka! I told you I don’t like anyone!” you said earnestly, trying to get the message across. “I just think he’ll be good for whoever dates him.”

“Whatever you say...” Uraraka teased, wiggling her eyebrows. You sent a glare at her. “Then what do you think about Todoroki?”

“He’s quite cold. Even though he’s good looking-”

“AHA! So you do think he’s attractive!”

“Dammit Uraraka, I told you I don’t like him!” you yelled, embarrassed, eyebrows furrowed. “He’s cold and he seems unapproachable but...” you paused before continuing, with Uraraka listening eagerly now, “... but I feel like there’s something beneath all that...”

“Like what?” Uraraka asked.

“I don’t know,” you admitted, “but I want to find out.”

“Hmm, interesting. I wonder why he wants to be a hero.”

“We can only guess...” you admitted, absentmindedly playing with a strand of your hair. A few moments of silence passed by before Uraraka broke it.

“Speaking of which, you never told us your reason for wanting to become a hero.”

You sighed, closing your eyes and rolling on your back before answering. “I want to become a hero so I can find and put an end to a certain villain who ruined my family.”

“May I ask who this villain is?” Uraraka’s warm brown hues were filled were unease. The atmosphere seemed to change from fun and light to a darker tone.

A lump formed in your throat. You swallowed. “My father.”

Uraraka’s expression flashed with alarm and worry. “Oh dear! What exactly do you plan to do when you find him?!”

“I can’t answer that.”

“Oh,” Uraraka’s voice was a mixture of surprise, concern, and hurt. You felt bad right away.

“No no Uraraka, it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I feel like I’m not ready to give an answer to that question yet...” Because the answer may scare you away from me.

“It’s ok. I probably shouldn’t pry anymore into this matter.”

“Sorry Uraraka.”

“Don’t worry about it.” But however much she tried to hide it, there was still a tinge of hurt in her voice. Uraraka then rubbed her eyes, sleepiness from the day’s training taking its toll on her. She pulled the cover over her shoulders. “Sorry [First], but I’m a bit sleepy right now. I think we should call it quits for tonight. And the Sports Festival is tomorrow so we should get some rest. Good luck for tomorrow.”

“Alright,” you could feel guilt start to fill your mind. “ Good luck to you too. Goodnight Uraraka.”

“Goodnight [First].”

You heard the sleeping bag ruffle as Uraraka settled in. You lay on your back, staring at your ceiling light, and mentally scolded yourself for how the conversation ended with your dear friend. Unease bubbled inside of you, guilt for making Uraraka uncomfortable. You inwardly groaned. Why did you have to ruin this sleepover. Why did you have to ruin this conversation? It had started so well. It had started so light. Leave it to you to make it awkward.

Then came another question that started to pick at your mind. Should you have told Uraraka? That you will beat your bastard of a father to a bloody pulp? That you will be the one to tear him apart? That you will be the one to kill him to satisfy the hurricane of revenge trapped inside of you?

Silently, your hands formed into fists. Uraraka had trusted you enough to reveal that she wanted to be a hero to make money. But then again, the money would go to support her parents. Uraraka’s reason for wanting to become a hero was so much better, so much more pure than yours. Uraraka was such a pure and kind girl, a better friend than you could ever had hoped for. So did she not deserve the truth?

You gathered your courage, mentally preparing yourself for Uraraka’s reaction. You could already imagine Uraraka’s gasp of horror. You could already see those usually warm and sweet brown eyes filled with fear. Fear directed towards you. “Uraraka, I plan to kill him.”

But none of those came. Not the gasp of fright. Not the panic filled eyes. Instead, you heard soft snores come from Uraraka’s side of the bed.

“Uraraka?”

More soft snoring. You felt like a balloon inside of you just deflated, a mixture of relief and disappointment. The spurt of courage and adrenaline that built up inside of you gradually disappeared, leaving you tired and drowsy. You sighed, and thought it might be best to not tell Uraraka after all. Someone as pure and innocent as her didn’t need to be burdened by the truth and memories that haunted you everyday, especially since the Sports Festival was the very next day and Uraraka already had enough to worry about.

You rolled over, sighing to yourself, and let the drowsiness take over, Uraraka’s soft snores lulling you to sleep.

Chapter Text

It was a busy night at the airport, with people hurrying here or there, catching a flight or meeting loved ones. A woman stood, clutching her daughter’s tiny hand as they both waited for the arrival of someone special. As soon as the woman saw the familiar blond hair and blue eyes in the crowd, she excitedly waved the man over.

“I see you’re still as short as ever,” he said to the young woman as soon as he joined them.

“I see you’re still looking frumpy as ever,” she retorted back.

“You can’t talk to me that way,” the man said, advancing and glaring down at the young woman.

“I thought I just did,” the young woman said, fearlessly meeting the man’s intimidating blue eyes despite the height difference. “I’m surprised your plane got off the ground with your big fat head on it.”

“You’re dead,” he growled.

“That’s funny, you’d think a dead person would have stopped talking about now.”

Electricity seemed to cackle between them. The young woman’s daughter clutched onto her mother’s skirt in fear. The frightening aura of tension only seemed to intensify between the adults, until the man lifted his fist towards the young woman’s face. For a wild moment, the little daughter thought the man might hit her mother, then she saw his index finger sticking out as he poked the young woman’s forehead. Both adults burst into laughter, the edgy aura from before having been completely dissolved.

“It’s good to see you again, big brother,” the woman said between giggles, trying to calm down.

“You too, Misaki,” he said as he tried to stifle any oncoming chuckles. His eyes landed on the little girl clinging to her mother’s skirt. “I see you brought your little girl with you.” The young woman nodded.

“Alright [First] dear, this is your uncle.” The young woman smiled down at her shy six-year-old daughter. The child clung onto her mother’s skirt, timidly peeking over at the man her mother was introducing. Now that she had a good look at him, the little girl noticed that he was quite tall, probably over a head taller than her mother. His chin length blond hair fell in a messy sort of way, leaving two strands hanging in front of his face. His face itself was a bit angular in structure, with cheekbones pronounced. If you paid attention, you could see the small bags under his eyes, but overall, he looked quite healthy. The man crouched down, meeting the child at eye level.

“Hello [First], my name is Toshinori. Toshinori Yagi.”

“Uncle Toshinori,” the child mumbled. Toshinori smiled. He put his hand on the child’s head and ruffled her hair a bit.

“That’s right, [First],” Toshinori said. “You look just like your mother did when she was your age.” He paused, then added, “And she was quite the crybaby, not to mention she wet the bed quite a lot.”

“Brother! You don’t need to tell her that!” Misaki Yagi blushed as her daughter looked up at her, eyes wide with the new information. Toshinori laughed.

“But now she’s all grown up, and with a little daughter by her side as well.” Toshinori pulled out a teddy bear as he shifted his attention back to the child. This seemed to have piqued the girl’s interest as she peeked out a bit more from behind her mother. The teddy bear sure was cute, dressed with blue overalls and with a red little hat covering one ear. Toshinori held the toy out to the girl, who unclenched her hands from her mother’s skirt and shyly reached out. Toshinori released his hold when he was sure the bear was securely in the child’s arms. “This is Reggie the Teddy Bear. He’s yours if you like him.”

“He’s cute.” The corners of the girl’s mouth were slightly lifted in a timid smile.

“Say thank you to your uncle, dear,” her mother reminded.

“Thank you,” the child mumbled through a happy smile. Toshinori ruffled her hair again.

The little girl took off her pink backpack, and carefully placed the toy bear inside, then meticulously zipped it half way closed so that the bear’s head and arms poked out.

“[First] dear, why don’t you put Reggie the Bear completely inside your bag?” the mother asked.

“Because then he might suffocate if I zip the bag up around him. I’m leaving his head out so he can breathe.”

The young mother and her brother both smiled at the child’s musings. The six year old certainly had an active imagination!

“Come on, Brother, I’ll show you to your hotel,” the woman said. “It’s getting late, and you must be tired from your flight. I’ll show you around town tomorrow.”

“Thanks,” Toshinori said. “And your little girl probably needs to go to sleep soon too.”

“It’s ok! I don’t mind staying up past my bedtime!” the child piped up, making both adults laugh.

“Of course you don’t,” the mother mused, pinching the girl’s cheek. A burst of warmth filled her heart, and the girl couldn’t help but smile from her mother’s quirk. Her mother’s quirk sure was wonderful. She had the ability to make people happy. Sure, it may not be powerful like a super strength quirk or an explosive quirk, but the little girl didn’t mind at all. Whenever she fell off her bike and scraped her knee, her mother would be there to put a bandaid on the wound and make her smile. If the older neighbourhood kids ever picked on her, her mother would always be there to protect her and hold her and calm her down. That time when she got stung by a bee, her mother’s touch, comforting and warm, was there to bring her tears to a stop. Although her mother was not physically strong like a fighter or muscular like the famous All Might on TV, her mother would always be the little girl’s own personal hero that she admired and looked up to. As long as her mother was by her side, the girl felt like she could do anything.

Unfortunately, unforeseeable for anyone, the girl’s happiness with her mother would be brought to an end that very night.

After her uncle had checked into his hotel, the girl and her mother said their goodnights and set off for their own house. The child didn’t mind the walk at all. The neon lights and bursts of colour of the city at night were certainly very pretty. And every so often, she checked her backpack to make sure that Reggie didn’t fall out. As they drew further from the downtown area of the city, the pretty colourful lights seemed to disappear and the street lamps grew further apart. Sleepiness seemed to catch up to the little girl, and her eyelids started to droop more and more as her mother led her by the hand. Eventually, her eyes closed and she almost bumped into her mother, who had suddenly stopped.

“Mommy?”

“[First], I need you to run.”

“Huh? Why?” her hazy brain could not keep up and could not understand her mother’s words. Her eyes peeked open sleepily, and lazily scanned the area before falling on the figure in front of them.

In front of them stood a woman, tall and menacing and dressed in dark clothing. Her piercing black eyes screamed bloodlust and murder. The street lamp flickered. Instantly, the haziness was wiped from the girl’s head as she perceived the danger.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment,” the woman in black growled out. “After all these years, I finally found you! You were hiding overseas all this time, weren’t you?!”

The girl tightened her hold on her mother’s hand.

“Mommy, I’m scared.” But before she could even react, the woman dressed in black pounced on her mother, fingers tangling in and pulling on her long [colour] hair. The attacker shoved Misaki into a dark alley against the wall, then wrapped her long and sharp fingers around Misaki’s slender neck, throttling her against the concrete building.

“You slut, you’re the one who stole my husband away from me!” the attacker shrieked.

“H-husband…?” Misaki managed to choke out.

“Oh? Did he not tell you he was already married? He told you he loved you, didn’t he? He said he wanted a family with you, didn’t he?” She then shrieked a maniacal laugh. “Ha, don’t make me laugh! He was just using you, you whore! He never told you he was a villain either, right?!” The attacker then felt a light presence wrap itself around her leg. She coldly looked down her nose to see a head of [colour] hair.

“Please miss,” the girl begged, eyes welling up with tears of fear, tightening her hold around the woman’s leg. “Please leave my mommy alone.”

The attacker sneered, shrieking her hysterical laughter again. “Oh? Is this the whore’s bastard child?” With a simple flick of the villain’s leg, the child was sent hurtling into a heap of garbage, the many trash bags burying her underneath. One of the bags ripped from the collision, showering her with fish bones, empty cans, and broken sports equipment. The villain focused her attention back to the mother. “After I’m done with you, that little bastard girl will be next.”

“N-no, not [First],” her mother choked, glassy [colour] eyes filled with worry, “Please not [First].”

A sting of pain shot through the back of the villain’s head, and her hands released her victim. Misaki dropped to the ground, gulping for breath. The villain turned around, face to face with the little girl who was panting, shaking with fear. The little girl, who had heaved the garbage bags off of herself using her quirk a second ago. The little girl, who held the broken baseball bat that was responsible for the pain at the back of the villain’s head. The villain felt her temper snap, and unsheathed the sword strapped to her side. The little girl recognized the danger, giving a frightened whimper. The villain lashed out at her, slashing the child’s shoulder to the bone. The strap of her pink backpack broke, and a toy bear fell out onto the ground. A bone crushing kick then sent the child flying backwards into the wall. Loose bricks from above tumbled onto her, pinning her small and injured body to the ground. She gave a shrill yelp, full of pain and fright, as her tears spilled down her dirty cheeks. The villain advanced towards her, crushing the toy bear under her foot, blade dripping with blood and ready to sink into flesh. But the villain was stopped in her tracks when she felt something from behind hurl itself at her, clinging to her shoulders. The villain threw her attacker to the ground, and found the mother, panting from her burst of courage, and exhausted and weak. The woman in black kicked the mother, sinking her foot in the mother’s gut, and the mother coughed up blood.

“You slut, you whore,” the villain growled, fury and rage dripping off of every word, “My husband never loved you.” Another kick buried itself in the mother’s stomach, making her gasp. “If he did love you, why did he leave you? Why did he never come back for you?” Another kick. Another yelp. “Well, wake up you little whore! He is a villain! He is my husband! You and your bastard daughter were nothing, are nothing but playthings for him!” The villain buried her blade into her victim’s arm. A blood curling scream escaped from the mother’s lips, and that scream pierced the girl and hurt her, tortured her more than any of her other injuries. Her mother was getting beaten to death, and her tiny body could not do anything trapped under the bricks. Repeatedly, the villain thrust her blade through the mother’s arms and legs, like a cat playing with a mouse before she eats it, a scream following every stab, and all the little girl could do was cry. Desperately struggling against the rubble pinning her down. Desperately trying to push the rubble off of herself using her quirk. Desperately struggling to use a quirk that would not listen to her. Desperately trying to use her quirk, despite having gone past her Vector Control limit.

At that moment, in her moment of desperation and fear and horror, she felt something stir deep inside her, deep in the depths of her being. It was a new urge, an animalistic urge, a savage urge to fight. She tried to push back this urge. This new urge, this powerful and violent urge building inside of her frightened her, almost as much as the villain standing over her mother.

In this merciless world, without strength, you will die, a voice, sounding so much like her own voice, whispered to her and echoed inside her own head. Survival of the strongest. Kill or be killed.

This horrified her. “But I don’t want to kill,” she whimpered, tears streaming down her round face.

Live or die, the voice continued, sinister and dark, its tone promising strength, promising power beyond her limits, beyond anything she has ever imagined if she would just give in to it. She struggled to shut the voice out.

The villain unsheathed her sword…

‘Mommy,’ she thought, ‘I have to save Mommy.’ The animalistic urge bubbled inside of her, as if begging to be used, begging to fight, begging to kill. She struggled against the rubble pinning her down, but all that did was make the rubble crush her harder into the ground.

… gripped the mother by the hair…

“MOMMY!” the girl cried out as she desperately squirmed and thrashed under the rubble, trying to worm her way out. Mommy is going to die! Mommy is really going to die!

… and the villain thrust the blade through the woman’s body, as easily as a needle impaling cloth.

The girl’s eyes widened in realization. Blood droplets danced through the air like rose petals before splattering against the concrete wall, painting it red. Her mother’s eyes dulled over as her eyelids drooped over those glassy lenses. The villain drew back her sword, satisfied at her work, and Misaki Yagi fell to the ground as a marionette whose strings had been cut. And at this moment, it was as if time slowed down and stopped, standing still as the girl’s mind whirled. Kill or be killed. Live or die. And the villain stood triumphantly over the motionless body of her mother. At this moment, the little girl realized. She realized that this world has always been survival of the fittest, of the strongest, where only those with strength can survive while those without will perish, for this was the law of survival, of life itself that governs the world.

And the little girl realized that this law, and the world governed by which, are certainly, undoubtedly merciless.

A coldness, an icy numbness washed over her body as her mind, her innards, her heart, everything was screaming. And at this moment, the urge, animalistic and monstrous, deep inside her broke free of its restraints, and consumed her, filling her body up to her finger tips and toes, healing any broken bones and injuries that she sustained previously, filling her small body with overflowing power.

Lightning erupted from the sky, illuminating the ugliness, making the concrete wall glare stark white and the blood deepen to black. A hurricane surrounded her as a darkness enveloped her body, giving her skin a deep purple shade. Her fingers and toes thickened and sharpened into claws. Two ribbon-like blades shot out from the small of her back, sharp and flexible and ready to cut. A single horn sprouted from her forehead. Her eyes glowed red, not a shade of her usual bright [colour] left.

Defiled wishes…

… pounding impulses…

… shattered dreams…

… and the little girl succumbed to the demon inside of her.

As the hurricane died down, she had finished her transformation into the monster inside of her.

The little girl succumbed to the quirk, the power called Awakening.

The next few moments were very strange. It felt as though all thought, all worry had been wiped from her mind. Her arms and legs didn’t feel like her own as she lunged, snarling and screeching, at the villain. Her body didn’t feel like her own as the tail-like, ribbon-like blades stabbed into the woman in black, tearing her apart, shredding her apart faster than the eye could see. All the little girl felt was a sick and twisted pleasure as her broken heart and the monstrous urge attacked and killed in unison, in a sadistic and hellish harmony. Feelings of elation, of freedom clouded the little girl’s mind as her human consciousness became more and more overwhelmed by the monstrous impulse. All she saw through her eyes were just things to be destroyed, to be torn apart. Her whole body tingled as the power surged over her, taking complete and utter control. Even after the villain’s body became little more than a rag doll, the monster did not stop tearing and shredding and cutting into pieces, using her claws and teeth and ribbon-like blades, until the body had been reduced to dust.

Meanwhile, Misaki Yagi groggily opened her eyes, finding herself lying on the concrete ground and her shirt soaked with her own blood. She weakly raised a hand, shaking like a leaf in a gale, and pressed upon the wound on her stomach. Her eyes swept the scene, and widened upon realization and horror at what her daughter had transformed into. With the greatest effort it had ever cost her in her life, she peeled herself off the ground.

Using the last of her remaining strength, the mother flung her arms around the tiny creature in a tight hug. She screamed her daughter’s name, for her daughter’s consciousness must still be in there, must still be trapped inside the monstrous exterior. As soon as it felt the contact, the monster attacked, sinking its sharp claws into the mother’s already profusely bleeding stomach. The woman coughed up more blood. Bright red stained her usually shiny hair. The violent winds surrounding her whipped at her clothing. The two ribbon-like blades from the creature’s back struck, also stabbing into the woman’s body. Even so, the woman did not release her tight and warm hug. She lifted a hand, weak and shaking, and gently threaded her fingers through the creature’s hair, and gently turned the creature’s head until they were face to face.

“[First], please! I know your consciousness is still in there!”

At this moment, right after the mother called her, the creature tensed up as the mother’s voice stirred the bit of human consciousness left in that monster body. At this moment, the last sliver of the child’s human heart and spirit was roused, buried deep underneath the pounding monstrous impulses. The creature blinked, and this time, she saw clearly through her eyes and realized. The fog surrounding her mind seemed to diminish a little as she gaped in fear and revulsion at what she had done, what she had become, and what she was doing to her mother.

“Mommy, I can’t control it, please get away from me!” she tried to scream, but only a single deafening screech made it through her mouth. Now, all the feelings of pleasure and elation filling her body from the overwhelming power turned into pain. It felt like a thousand knives were hacking at, gouging at her flesh all at the same time. Every cell in her body screamed in harsh resistance as the monstrous presence resumed its iron grip on her body, with her heart and spirit desperately fighting and struggling and barely hanging on.

The woman tightened her hold around the creature, pressing their foreheads together as her deep eyes stared into the monster’s full red eyes. And amidst all the pain, all the chaos, all the confusion and hurt condensed into her little body, the girl felt a spark of warmth and comfort, guiding her and pulling her through the storm inside of her. Amidst all the agony and pandemonium, she felt happiness… Mother’s quirk.

“[First], my child, please, listen to my voice! It’s not too late for you to return back to human!”

That second, as her mortally wounded mother used the last sliver of her strength to pull her daughter back to the human side, the girl saw her claws dwindling back to her dull fingernails. Her fangs diminished to regular teeth. Her horn and ribbon-like tails withered away. The dark purple shadow coating her skin dissipated, leaving a little six year old girl panting from the effort of beating the monster impulse back, now imprisoned in the depths of her being.

And a second later, she found herself standing over the beaten and broken, used and spent body of her mother. The child sank to her knees and cupped her mother’s cheek, but her mother gave no response, having gone quite still and completely limp.

“Mommy, wake up,” the child tried saying, rubbing her mother’s cheek, smooth and cold as marble.

“Please don't leave me,” she whimpered and she could hear the futility in her own voice. Her eyes filled with tears of reluctant realization, of anguish, and of her own helplessness. Her lower lip trembled. And her teeth grit against each other. And a sob burned its way through her throat as her tiny hand wormed into place against her mother’s, warm and quivering fingers squeezing the unmoving ones.

And those large glazed eyes, so similar to the girl’s own, stared back, unseeing and unfeeling, nothing but empty glassy orbs simply reflecting the weeping daughter they could not see.

***
The girl didn’t know how much time passed until help came. The girl didn’t know, couldn’t tell, since for her it felt like an eternity and one fleeting moment at the same time. Could have been seconds, or minutes, or hours. But what difference did it make? Help had come too late. Her mother was dead and cold on the ground as the little girl silently wept over the body. She kept absentmindedly squeezing the limp hand, as if that would somehow rub life back into the dead body lying on the concrete.

Nevertheless, help had come. She heard movement at the entrance of the alleyway, but her head remained bowed and her eyes remained closed as the tears squeezed themselves out. Someone rushed to her side and a familiar voice tenderly spoke to her, “You’ve gone through a lot tonight. But it’s fine now. Everything’s going to be fine now. I am here.” The voice quivered a bit, but then resumed as steady as ever. “I’m sorry, [First]. I only arrived in time to see your-” a slight pause, and then, “-transformation back into yourself.”

A large and warm hand landed gently on her shoulder, patting her and doing its best to comfort her. Her uncle’s voice continued talking, reassuring to her that it was all over, that nothing was going to hurt her anymore. Toshinori helped her stand up, helped her steady herself, and led her out of the alleyway onto the street.

“A few people heard the noise and called the police, but no one witnessed anything more than a villain pushing your mother into the alleyway. The police will be here shortly, but I think you’ve been through enough tonight.”

The girl absentmindedly, numbly nodded, but Toshinori sighed in relief that she was at least responding.

“[First], what do you think about living with me from now on? I’ll take you back to Japan with me. Does that sound good to you?” Toshinori turned to look at the little girl, and his heart broke when he saw her eyes. She looked at him with her eyes, those eyes that have seen too much, those large and glassy eyes that seemed to hold the sadness of the world in them, and yet, despite all that, something flickered behind those eyes.

The little girl nodded.

They continued walking, hand in hand. And a little while later, a whisper broke the silence.

“Uncle?” A whisper so small that Toshinori almost didn’t hear it.

“Yes?”

“I want to become a hero,” the girl said, quietly but clearly.

Toshinori blinked, a bit surprised at those unexpected words, but gave an understanding nod. “Alright. But I’ll warn you that the road ahead of you won’t be easy.”

“I can do it.” The unforeseen fierceness and determination with which she said those words momentarily stunned Toshinori, who almost tripped over his own foot. He immediately caught himself, standing still now, and looked at the little girl once again, who wiped her tears on her sleeve and met his gaze. This time, the something that flickered behind her deep bright eyes before was stronger and burned brighter, like blazing fire, hot and determined and unyielding. Toshinori recognized that look, because that bright fire was the same fire that burned behind his own eyes, and the same fire that burned behind the eyes of his stubborn little sister.

And right away, he agreed. He nodded.

“Alright. I’ll personally train you every day if I have to. We will work together to make your dream come true.”

And the two of them walked off, hand in hand into the night as a new chapter started for both of their lives.

Chapter Text

A month quickly passed since Misaki Yagi’s death. A month passed since Toshinori Yagi signed the proper documents to become little [First]’s legal guardian. It took a month for [First] to gather her things and move to Japan with her uncle, leaving behind the country in which she was born, in which her mother was buried. Now, there was no going back. In that month, the uncle decided for himself, promised himself that he will protect his niece, his little sister’s flesh and blood, in any way possible and to the utmost of his abilities. He was aware that meant he had to keep his hero identity secret from her, as any association with the No 1 hero would mean danger from villains. Due to that, he changed her last name from Yagi to [Last]. He was determined to raise her, not as the hero All Might, but as her uncle, as Toshinori Yagi. And he was aware that he might have to leave her one day when she becomes old enough to take care of herself, to minimize any possible connection with All Might, to maximize her safety.

Now, after that month passed, little [First] stood in the large outdoor training area to which her uncle took her. She looked up at her uncle expectantly, anticipating instructions.

“Alright, Uncle, I’m ready to start,” she said.

“Before we start the real training, I need to know your upper limits.” Her uncle tossed her a softball. “That ball has a tracking device in it that can measure the distance it travelled. After you throw it and it hits the ground, the distance will be sent to my phone. Can you throw that ball as far as you can?”

The child obediently nodded. She exhaled, steadying herself and clearing her mind. She shifted the weight of the ball to her dominant hand, and chucked the ball using all the strength stored in her tiny arm. The ball sailed upwards, before landing back onto the earth.

His phone beeped. “7.631 metres,” a disembodied voice said.

“[First], I meant throw it using your quirk,” he sighed as he went to get the ball. “Here,” he said as he placed the ball into her tiny hands. “Can you throw it using your quirk this time?”

Her eyelids lowered and she shook her head. A shadow seemed to fall over her face, over her bright eyes, and the atmosphere around her became quite tense. She didn’t meet his gaze.

“Can I become a hero without using my quirk?” she asked, staring at a patch of ground by her feet.

“Why don’t you want to use your quirk?”

“Because.” She said that one word bitterly and full of regret. And from that one word, Toshinori understood. He understood the hatred she had of her own quirk. He understood the self hatred, the absolute loathing she had for her quirk because of her mother’s sacrifice. He knew that his niece, deep down, blamed herself because her mother used the last of her strength to reverse the transformation that day.

“Because,” [First] tried again, her fingers playing with the stitching in the softball. “My mother died because of my quirk.” And that confirmed his thoughts.

He sighed before speaking again, knowing his reply was not the answer that she wanted to hear.

“I’m sorry, but I need you to be able to master your quirk.” He saw her teeth grit and her hand clench tightly around the softball, saw that blazing fire burning behind her bright eyes. And he knew that now was the time to let her know, to tell her of the secret behind her quirk, the power of which she herself isn’t aware. “Listen to me, [First]. You need to be able to master your Vector Control quirk.

“You have a limit for your Vector Control quirk, a certain point where your quirk stops behaving the way you want it to. You can feel it, right?” These words coming from her uncle struck her, and made her recall that fateful day in the alleyway, when she was pinned, desperately trying to heave against the rubble holding her down, desperately trying to use a quirk that would not listen to her.

“When you go past that limit too much, something happens,” her uncle continued, his voice taking on a darker, a grimmer tone, “Another power inside of you is called forth. A power deep inside you. Another quirk called Awakening.”

The girl’s eyebrows wrinkled in confusion, and her fingers stopped playing with the softball in her hands. “Wait, I have two quirks?”

“Kind of.”

“But that’s not possible. Everyone only has one quirk. This doesn’t make sense anymore.”

“You are aware of what your father’s quirk is, right?”

At the mention of her father, her body tensed and filled with fiery hatred. The bastard who used them. The bastard who left her mother and never came back. And because of that bastard, her mother was attacked by the woman in black and died. “That villain has Vector Control. Same as mine.”

“That’s right.”

“So where did the other quirk come from?”

“Years ago, when she was still pregnant with you, your mother told me something.” And immediately, Toshinori saw her eyes darken and saw the regret and sadness behind those lenses. He felt guilt squeeze his heart, but he must keep going and tell her, because this information was the explanation behind her curious quirk. “She told me she ran into a suspicious person. A hooded man who approached her and put his hand on her large belly. He noted that she was pregnant and told her that it was a good thing. Your mother told me that she felt something being transferred from him to her belly but she couldn’t move because the man seemed to emit an overwhelming aura that pinned her to place. She said that was the most fear she had ever felt in her life.

“Then, thankfully, he removed his hand from her belly and started to leave. She felt the overwhelming aura lift. When she demanded to know what he just did, he said that he simply gave her unborn child a gift, since ‘the father is an old time friend’.” Toshinori’s fingers lifted up to demonstrate air quotes. After a short pause, he continued.

“[First], my dear, in this world, there are all sorts of different and unique quirks. There exists one person, a villain, who has a quirk that can steal other quirks and transfer quirks to others. I am almost certain that the suspicious man your mother met was that villain and that he transferred the Awakening quirk to you.”

“Why?” the little girl asked. “Wouldn’t he want to keep it for himself?”

“I am not sure either,” Toshinori admitted. “I can only guess that was because Awakening is, as shown recently, a very difficult quirk and robs the user of any conscious thought and turns them into a… into a…” Toshinori glanced at his niece, and he struggled to think of a nice word to describe it, but that was not needed because the little girl finished his sentence for him.

“A monster,” she truthfully stated. Toshinori cleared his throat.

“Yeah, that,” he hesitantly agreed, then continued. “My guess is that the villain was simply curious as to what would happen if that powerful quirk were to be introduced to an already powerful quirk like Vector Control. Although the Awakening quirk is powerful since its activation heals the user of any previous injuries and enhances the user’s capabilities or already existing quirk, it is completely impossible to control and the user would likely not be able to return back to their normal selves after using it. You were only able to return from that state because-”

“-Mommy sacrificed herself to save me. She used her quirk to pull me back,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears. But before Toshinori could offer her comfort, she immediately bit her tears back and said, “Don’t worry about me, Uncle. I’m not going to cry.”

He crouched down and put his hand on her shoulder in concern. “[First] dear-”

“But doesn’t that mean I’m right?” she interrupted him, and Toshinori was briefly confused about what she meant before she continued. “That I shouldn’t use my quirk anymore?”

He shook his head. “My dear, that is precisely why we need you to master your quirk. You need to master your Vector Control quirk and increase your Vector Control limit so that Awakening will never happen again.”

“But my quirk is the monster inside of me. It was the monster-” she stopped mid sentence, absentmindedly ripping at the stitching on the softball in her hands, then spoke again, “No. I am the monster that killed my mother.”

“[First] my dear,” he said as he squeezed her shoulder and his eyes stared seriously into her own. “Do not think for a second that Awakening is a part of you. It is not. It is something foreign, something alien that a villain forced upon you. You yourself were born with Vector Control. Vector Control is your quirk. Vector Control was the quirk that made your mother so happy when you first developed it, right?”

The little girl nodded in remembrance. The daisy’s petals moved, opening and closing around the yellow centre. Next, she picked up a rock, and it twirled like a spinning top in her hand. Her mother beamed, her smile brilliant and filled with warmth. This memory came to her, cruel yet beautiful like the world in which she lived.

Her uncle continued. “I am aware that the incident in the alleyway happened, and that your mother lost her life that day, but [First] my dear, you are not a slave to the quirk called Awakening. You are in charge of your own fate, and you have the strength and potential to master your Vector Control quirk so that Awakening will never see the light of day again. Yes, quirks can be dangerous and hurt others, but they can also help and save others. Yes the past happened, but we must keep going forward.”

The little girl could see the blazing blue fire burning behind her uncle’s eyes, and she could see her own tiny reflection, looking shaken but gaining strength and determination.

“You know, your mother wanted to become a hero when she was little, but she had to give up that dream because her Happiness quirk wasn’t suited for combat or rescue. You remind me so much of her, of not just how she looked, but of her spirit. And now you want to become a hero too.” Tears welled up in her eyes and emotion condensed into a pit in her throat.

“Her spirit lives on within you and I am confident that you can become a hero. And most importantly, more than anything else, you must learn to accept yourself for you. The only way for you to be a hero who everyone looks up to is for you to accept yourself for who you are first.”

And the tears overflowed, slipped down her cheeks, down off her chin and dropped into the ground but the blazing fire behind her eyes was only fueled and burned brighter than ever before. And, for a moment, All Might was reminded of the way his little sister glared at him in their childhood when he told her she was too little to go on the monkey bars or sleep on the top bunk. A look that was full of conviction, of grit, and of persistence.

“I understand, Uncle,” she said, “I will become a hero.”

And she whipped the softball in her hands, which flew into the heavens and disappeared behind the clouds.

***
“[First], wake up. The toast is ready.”

“Ugh… five more minutes.” It felt like the dream you were having just didn’t end. Your body felt weightless, as if you were floating.

Wait a second… You blindly groped the area around yourself, and when your hand only met empty air, you realized you were not on your bed and that you really were floating.

“Release,” you heard Uraraka mutter. You tumbled back onto the bed, shaken from your dream and back into reality.

“Uraraka,” you whined, pulling the covers over yourself again. “Let me sleep a bit more.”

“If you don’t get up right now, we’ll be late for the Sports Festival!”

Your eyes groggily opened, and you saw Uraraka staring at you, a worried look on her face. She was already looking neat and tidy in her UA gym uniform.

“I’m sorry, I tried to shake you awake earlier but you sleep like a rock!”

“Sorry Uraraka, the dream I was having...” you sat up, rubbing the sleep out of your eyes. “The dream went on forever.”

“Hurry! Class A is supposed to meet up in 15 minutes!”

It was like electricity shot through you. “What?! 15 minutes?!” You surveyed your situation. Your hair was ruffled from sleep, you were still in your pajamas, and your stomach rumbled from hunger. You tore the sleeping bag covers off of yourself. “Alright! 15 minutes may not be a lot of time but it’s enough!” you told yourself. You ripped off your pajamas, and shoved yourself into your UA gym uniform. You flew, almost literally, into the bathroom and brushed your teeth faster than you ever did in your life, ripped your brush through your hair, then flew into the kitchen, grabbed the cooked bread out of the toaster, shoved a piece in your mouth, and began chewing.

“[First], shouldn’t we take our toast with us and eat it on the way?” Uraraka asked, concerned. You shook your head furiously.

“I refuse-” you shoved the slice of toast into your mouth, “-to be-” you chewed and swallowed, then took another bite, “-a cliche anime girl-” another bite, “-who runs with toast in her mouth!” you shoved the rest of the bread down your throat.

“Ok, I’m ready, let’s run, Uraraka!”

“Yeah! Let’s go!”

And the two of you bolted out the door, sprinted out of the apartment, and down the streets towards UA.

A few minutes later, you burst, panting and gasping, into the Class 1A waiting room. Uraraka doubled over, catching her breath. You brushed your disheveled bangs out of your face.

“Where have you guys been?” Midoriya asked. “The Sports Festival is about to start.”

“Sorry, overslept,” you said while your heartbeat gradually returned to normal. You sighed and steadied your breathing and straightened up. “But we made it here in time, didn’t we?”

Before Midoriya could retort, the door of the room slammed open again.

“Everyone, are you ready?!” Iida’s voice bellowed out. “We will be entering soon!”

You could taste the excitement and nervousness in the atmosphere. Midoriya took a deep breath to calm himself.

“Good luck, Midoriya,” you said from beside him.

“Good luck to you too,” he replied, still quite nervous.

“Midoriya,” a familiar voice said. You looked up and saw those mismatched eyes staring intently at Midoriya.

“Todoroki, what is it?” Midoriya asked.

“Looking at things objectively, I think I’m stronger than you,” he said coldly. The room that used to be filled with excited murmurs immediately quieted down, sensing a challenge declaration.

“Y-yeah, you’re right,” Midoriya said.

“Midoriya, don’t just agree with him! And Todoroki, why are you saying that now?” you asked as you glared at him. As usual, he ignored you.

“All Might has his eye on you, right?” he asked Midoriya, as if you didn’t even speak. “I’m not trying to pry about that, but I’m going to beat you.”

This sparked a few reactions from classmates. “Oh? Is the best in the class making a declaration of war?” Kaminari excitedly commented. Kirishima got out of his seat and put a hand on Todoroki’s shoulder, trying to calm him down.

“Hey, why are you picking a fight all of a sudden? Especially when we’re about to start soon.” Kirishima tried to talk some sense into him, but Todoroki simply shrugged his hand off his shoulder.

“We’re not here to play at being friends,” he said harshly, before turning on his heel and walking away.

“Todoroki, I don’t know what you’re thinking when you say that… You’re definitely stronger than me.” Midoriya’s voice made Todoroki stop. “In fact, I think the vast majority of people are probably no match for you, looking at it objectively...”

“Hey Midoriya, don’t talk so negatively about yourself,” Kirishima said kindly.

“Even so,” Midoriya continued, his voice unwavering this time, making Todoroki narrow his eyes. Midoriya’s hands clenched by his sides. “Everyone, and even students from other courses, are aiming for the top with all their might! So I can’t afford to fall behind!” And as he said this, Midoriya lifted his head, his green eyes meeting Todoroki’s intimidating ones, accepting his challenge.

Todoroki nodded. “Yeah,” he said.

You narrowed your eyes at this. Oh? So he responds to Midoriya but not to me?

But right as you opened your mouth to comment on this, Iida announced, “All right Class 1A, we’re going now.”

Along with everyone else, you were ushered out of the door, with Midoriya and Uraraka by your side and Iida in front of you. Down the hall you went, and into the bright arena filled with pomp and circumstance. Excited clamour of the crowd, along with Present Mic’s magnified voice filled the stadium with noise. Fireworks went off, dyeing the sky in shades of purple, red, and pink.

“Class 1A!” Present Mic’s voice boomed across the field. “Here they are! The new stars who overcame the enemy attacks with their hearts of steel!”

Midoriya nervously looked around, eyes wide at the amount of people filling the stands. “Th-there are so many people.”

“Can we really do our best with so many people watching us?” Iida asked. “This must also be part of the training to become a hero.”

“Calm down guys,” you gently said. “You’ll only end up holding yourself back when you’re nervous. I’m sure we’ll do fine. Right, Uraraka?”

“Right!” Uraraka agreed, smiling. “We’ll all do our best!”

Soon, all the first year UA classes have gathered in the middle of the arena, surrounded on all sides by the cheering crowd.

“Silence!” a female voice demanded. You lifted your head and your gaze fell on the teacher standing on the makeshift stage in the centre of the arena. You recognized her as one of the teachers who came as backup for the USJ incident, and knew that Midnight was her name. “Representing the students is Katsuki Bakugo from Class 1A!” she announced. Bakugo climbed the stairs, took his place in front of the microphone, and already you had a bad feeling about his speech skills, even before he opened his mouth.

“You guys,” he said, voice magnified across the stadium, “I’m gonna place first.”

Right away, angry hollers and complaints came from the crowd of students. It took great strength of will for you to not face palm.

“Dammit, I knew he was gonna say that!” you heard Kirishima groan, and the outcry from the other students got louder.

“Don’t push your luck, Class A!”

“Class A is way too over confident!”

“You sludge bastard!”

Bakugo’s expression remained indifferent. He stuck his thumb out of his fist, and pointed it towards the floor, giving them all a thumbs-down. “I’m sure you’ll all make great stepping stones.” The jeers and objections followed him as he stepped off the stage and blended in with the crowd again. The clamour only stopped when Midnight started talking again.

“Alright! With that, we can move on directly to our first event! They’re called Preliminaries, but lots of kids end up choking on their tears here every year. This year’s first round will be…” The TV screen behind her flashed, then steadied to show two words. OBSTACLE RACE. “A race between all eleven classes! The course makes a 4 km ring around this stadium! As long as you stay on the course, it doesn’t matter what you do! Now take your places!”

The double doors blocking the entrance of the stadium peeled away as the students clustered in front of the hallway. Three green lights on top of the doorway arch lit up, representing the countdown before the race. The light on the left went out, and a beep sounded at the same time.

You steadied your breathing. This was an opportunity for you to demonstrate your strength. This was an opportunity for you to show the country what you are made of.

The middle green light went out, accompanied by a second beep.

This was an opportunity for you to show your uncle how far you had come, how much you had grown from that little girl he took in that day.

The last green light went out, followed by a final beep. The crowds from the stands cheered in excitement and anticipation.

“START!” Midnight screamed. All the students immediately took off running into the narrow hallway. Right at the very start, some students raced ahead while others fell behind or were trampled, as not everyone could fit through this small and cramped space. Already, students were pushing and shoving each other, desperately trying to crawl and claw their way forward. You lost sight of Uraraka, Iida, and Midoriya, but you kept pushing on, because you promised to do your best as well. The waves of students clashing into each other around you didn’t bother you at all, as you turned your quirk on reflection. Whenever someone came into contact with you, their momentum and direction completely reversed and they were sent back where they came from. Nobody could touch you. Nobody could shove you. Like a lone arrow piercing through the air, you easily and smoothly made your way through the crowd in front of you. You kept going, kept advancing forwards while the others got caught up behind you.

Suddenly, a very intense, a very familiar cold swept through the cramped hallway and you immediately knew who was the cause. The people in front of you stopped moving. Cries of panic pierced through the frozen air. The people bent down and started pulling at their legs, which had become stuck in ice. As soon as the ice touched your boots, it shattered, the crystal lattice having been deflected. You pushed through, out of the hallway, and caught sight of that familiar head of half red and half white in front of you.

“Todoroki!” you yelled. “I told you that trick won’t work on me!”

He glanced back over his shoulder and saw that you were hot on his heels. This was a problem for him, and more problems arose when he saw more of his classmates chasing after him, having dodged his attack.

“That was naive, Todoroki,” Yaoyorozu said as a high jump pole shot out of her palm and propelled her off the ground.

“I won’t let you get away that easily, you half and half bastard!” Bakugo yelled, his palms sending explosion after explosion, shooting himself into the air.

“I knew some of you in my class were gonna make it past,” Todoroki muttered to himself, “But more of you were able to dodge than I thought.”

“I’ve outwitted you, Todoroki!” Mineta said triumphantly as he ripped his purple balls from his head and used them as stepping stones. “Now, for my special attack-!”

He was quite rudely interrupted as a large metal arm collided with his small body, knocking the air out of him. Mineta rolled and tumbled off to the sidelines.

“Targets found,” a robotic voice said from above them. You looked up and saw many metallic creatures towering over everyone, titanic and glinting an eerie shade of green. The students stopped in their tracks, hesitating, not sure what to do.

“The faux villains from the entrance exam?!” Midoriya screeched.

“Those are zero point villains from the entrance exam!” Kaminari confirmed, fear in his voice.

“So this is what they used in the general entrance exam?” Todoroki said, calmly and coolly. The zero point robot reached out a hand, trying to grab him. “If they went through all this trouble, I wish they could have prepared something better, since my stupid old man is watching.” Todoroki simply raised his hand, and neatly swept his arm through the air.

Quickly and elegantly, a great and hulking mass of ice shot forth from the ground with the utmost power and speed. The zero point robot stood no chance, as it was frozen solid in a single second. The red lights representing its eyes flickered feebly, then went out as if all function within it had completely shut down. Todoroki took this chance to continue through the mass of robots.

“Amazing,” a girl from the general course called out in awe.

“He got through! So we can too!” someone from behind shouted.

“I wouldn’t if I were you! They’ll fall!” Todoroki shouted back as he ran past the frozen giant, which teetered, then fell in a mess of broken parts and ice.

“I won’t be left behind!” you called out to him as you began pursuit again. Right away, another zero point obstacle sprung into action as a gigantic steel arm accelerated at you.

“[First]!” you heard Uraraka call out in worry from behind you, warning you of the danger, but you were not fazed. As soon as the steel fist a hundred times bigger than your head connected with your temple, the fist, the arm, and the robot attached to the arm were all shot sideways, away from you. Not only did you reflect the vector of the punch this time, you also multiplied the magnitude tenfold. The robot flew into another zero point one with so much force that they were both crushed together on impact. They were smashed and moulded together as if they were a single, multi-limbed, unfortunate looking mass of metal.

This action of course didn’t go unnoticed by the students behind you.

“Woah, she just took out two of them in a single move!”

“What just happened?! It punched her, and it got destroyed?!”

With a loud metallic wail, both of the colossal titans fell, as if in slow motion, broken green plates and bolts trailing behind them. You advanced, in hot pursuit of Todoroki. You ran after him, heart pumping in your ears, adrenaline flowing through your blood. You sprinted across the field, up a flight of stairs, and were met with a great abyss. The footholds, the large flat-top rocks, were few and far in between. Tightropes connected all of them, leading a path to the other side of the great depth. Todoroki was fast and already halfway across. There was no time to lose. You lept, and with your kick off the ground, you created those miniature tornadoes that acted like wings on your back and pushed you into the air. You flew, the pleasant breeze whipping in your hair, and landed on the other side of the void a few seconds later. You began running again, but you were aware that the last few stunts took quite a bit of your strength. You gauged your limit, and estimated that you had roughly 70% left, leaving not much room for error or unwise spending if you wanted to do well in the next Sports Festival round.

You quickly gained ground on Todoroki, who had just arrived at the third and final obstacle barrier. Judging by the open field ahead of you and quite a few dark spots in the ground, it was a minefield. You growled in frustration, staring at Todoroki so close in front of you. If you were to carelessly step on the mines, yes you could cancel out the blow with your quirk, but the smoke from the explosion would make it difficult for you to breathe. You had no choice but to slow down and carefully choose your steps. A bit of time later, you started to hear the clamour from the other students as they arrived at the third obstacle barrier too.

Nevertheless, you steadily approached Todoroki as you both slowly made your way across the minefield.

“Hey Todoroki,” you said, now almost right behind him. “Why don’t you just make a path for yourself out of ice?”

He glanced across his shoulder at you and tutted. “You caught up.”

“Woah! You finally spoke to me after forever!”

He sent you a look of deep dislike. Before he could retort, explosions sounded off from behind you two, and another person darted up to you in a flash of grey smoke. His red eyes were furious and his ash-blond hair was flying in the gale.

“HEY! YOU ISSUED YOUR WAR DECLARATION ON THE WRONG RIVAL!” Bakugo bellowed as he pushed his palm at Todoroki, firing off a large burst of light and smoke. Todoroki dodged to the side, missing it by a few centimetres. Bakugo whipped his other arm in front of him, aiming his next explosion at Todoroki, but Todoroki was quick and swatted it away, both contestants still steadily avoiding the mines beneath their feet. He reached at Bakugo with his right hand, gripped Bakugo’s arm, and a glitter of ice shot forth onto his target’s forearm. Bakugo quickly shattered it, and followed it up with another explosion.

“Don’t you guys forget about me!” you screamed. You grabbed both of their arms, Bakugo in your left hand and Todoroki in your right, and flung them, like they were ragdolls, into the air behind you. You pushed forward, feeling the scorching hot glares of rage burning into the back of your skull. All of a sudden, a huge detonation from behind, with the force of a hundred boxes of TNT, shook the ground beneath your feet. A violent shock wave whipped at your hair.

“What the hell?!” you cried out, shielding your eyes from the winds. All three leaders looked behind, momentarily distracted from their fights with each other, and saw Midoriya in the air on top of a large piece of scrap metal, perhaps from a broken robot? Midoriya sailed through the massive pink smoke and closed in on you three in a second, up and over you three in the next, taking the lead. Bakugo was first to react, totally abandoning his fight with Todoroki and you. He aimed his palms behind him and his orange explosions propelled him.

“DEKU!” he shouted with rage. “DON’T GET AHEAD OF ME!”

Todoroki stomped his foot on the ground, ice issuing obediently in front of him, forming a path for him. “This will give those in the back a path, but I don’t have time to worry about what’s behind me,” he murmured, breaking out in full sprint to catch up.

“Dammit,” you muttered to yourself, following Todoroki on his ice. Hey, if there’s a free path, you’ll take it. “I really don’t want to use more energy than necessary, but I might have to now.”

Ahead of you, you saw Midoriya sailing in the air, but soon, air resistance and gravity caught up with him and he started to lose momentum. Bakugo, Todoroki, and you caught up to him, and all four leaders were neck to neck.

Then, Midoriya crazily whipped his piece of scrap metal down onto the ground beside them, launching himself through the air again. Immediately, your vision was filled with pink smoke. You held your breath, not wanting to breathe it in. Not caring what the others were doing anymore, you abandoned your restraint and sense of thought, for you mustn't fall behind. You commanded the air to support your weight again as the dual tornadoes formed on your back, shooting yourself through and out of the massive pink cloud, across the field, and into the narrow hallway leading to the finish. You landed roughly on your feet, stumbling in your haste, and began pursuit again. Now was not the time to be elegant. Now was the time to catch up!

The finish line was quickly approaching, a light at the end of this dark tunnel (literally) with the shadows of Midoriya, Todoroki, and Bakugo right in front of you. You grit your teeth, lunged, and threw yourself forward into the blinding light, surpassing the person beside you, whoever he was, by a hair’s breadth.

“Right now, the first person back into the stadium is Izuku Midoriya! His name will be a name to know!” Present Mic’s booming voice swept across the stadium.

“Dammit,” Bakugo said from beside you, his angry expression facing the ground. Oh so it was Bakugo. “Again? Dammit! Goddamn it!”

Panting and trying to catch your breath, you jogged up to Midoriya. The wide and proud smile on his face made you grin too. “Hey Midoriya, you came in first, congratulations,” you said to him.

“You too,” he said, his voice tired but thrilled. “You got third place, which is still really good!”

“And now they’re steadily crossing the finish line, one after the other!” Present Mic’s voice echoed across the stands.

Uraraka and Iida caught up, huffing and puffing. “Deku and [First], you two were amazing!” Uraraka said between pants. “Congrats on first and third place!”

“To think I’d place so low with a quirk like mine...” Iida muttered to himself, his face downcast.

“Well, at least we all made it to the next round,” you said, wanting to encourage the two.

“The race is over and we have our results!” Midnight’s voice rang out as all the students poured into the arena again. “The top 42 from the race can advance to the second trial! And now for the second half of the preliminaries! The second event this year will be…” She paused, drawing the audience’s attention to the TV behind her. The TV screen flashed once again, then steadied to show the next three words. HUMAN CAVALRY BATTLE. Midnight continued.

“Behold! You will form teams with 2-4 people and form a horseback configuration! Steal the headbands of your opponent teams and guard your own! Each individual will receive points based on their performance in the last trial! The person who placed 42nd will be worth five points, the person who placed 41st will be worth ten points, 40th will be worth fifteen points, and so on in five point intervals! The only exception is the one who placed first place, who will be worth ten million!”

You glanced at Midoriya, who looked like he just swallowed a ten kilo weight and was about to pass out. Sweat formed on his brow and he looked like he would prefer nothing but to disappear from sight. Everyone around him turned to look and stare at him, like how starving wolves would stare at a single white rabbit.

“If I were you, I’d aim for the guy who placed first!” Midnight voiced what everyone was thinking right now. “This is the chance for the low to overtake the ones at the top!”

Oh, poor Midoriya.

Chapter Text

“The boy who placed first in the Obstacle Race is worth ten million points!” Midnight shouted.

Oh, poor Midoriya…

“The time limit is fifteen minutes!” Midnight continued, as if she didn’t just condemn Midoriya to an early and unfortunate death. “The value of each group’s headband is worth the total point accumulation of all members on that team! The one to wear the headband is the team’s rider! Until time is up, you’ll all be fighting and stealing as many of each other’s headbands as possible! In this cavalry game, even if you lose your headband, you’re still not out of the game! Remember, only the top four teams can advance to the finals! Now, you have fifteen minutes to make your teams!”

Right away, you had a plan ready. This cavalry game would be perfect for your group of friends, you thought. The speedy Iida would be in the front, while Uraraka and Midoriya can be on the sides. Meanwhile, you would be the rider and wear the ten million points since your quirk’s reflection mode would make it impossible for other people to even touch you. Your quirk was too perfect for this. It was almost too easy.

Your classmates and other students seemed to recognize the value of your quirk as well. Before you could look for Uraraka or Midoriya or Iida, many eyes turned to stare at you. Many people swarmed around you, trying to persuade you to join them.

“You’re [Last], right? Please let me join your team!” an overly enthusiastic male from the general ed course said.

“[Last], please team up with me!” Mina Ashido begged.

“Ribbit, would you mind if I joined your team, [First]?” Tsuyu Asui asked politely. “You can call me Tsu.”

“[Last], please join with me- I mean join up with me!” Mineta said, a bit of drool hanging on his lip. You sent him a look of disgust.

Then, you heard the voice you had been waiting to hear. “Hey [First], let’s do this together!” Uraraka chirped happily, with Midoriya beside her. Both gave you hopeful looks, as if they were thinking along the same strategy as you.

You eagerly responded. “Yes Uraraka, let’s-”

“Hey [Last], be on a team with me!” a friendly voice from behind you said. You turned around and Kirishima gave you a toothy and harmless smile.

“Sorry Kirishima, I’m going to team up with Uraraka and Midoriya.”

“Oh, I guess I was too late,” he said, rubbing the back of his head, a bashful look on his face. Then, you thought you saw something mischievous flicker into his expression. “I guess you’ll miss this chance to repay the debt you owe me,” he said in a deeper, accusing voice.

Your eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Debt? What debt? I don’t remember owing you anything.”

“Oh you know, when you made those two zero point robots fall, they fell on me. I almost died!” he exclaimed.

A surprised “Oh” escaped from your lips. Guilt started to seep through your body. You lowered your head in shame. How could you have been so careless like that? How could you put your classmates in danger like that? That is not what a true hero should do. “Sorry about that, Kirishima. I didn’t mean to.”

“I almost died!” he repeated for emphasis. “I only managed to survive because I got lucky! Now, will you join my team and make it up to me?”

You glanced between Uraraka and Kirishima, hesitating and unsure. A few moments of silence, then...

“Sorry Uraraka,” you murmured through grit teeth.

“[First]?” Uraraka’s timid voice asked from behind you.

“Sorry Uraraka,” you repeated, louder this time. “But I’m joining Kirishima’s team because I owe him.”

“Yes!” Kirishima cheered, fist pumping the air.

“I’m really sorry Uraraka,” you said again. But Uraraka’s expression was soft and understanding.

“Don’t worry about it, [First], let’s all do our best!” she said genuinely. She then turned to Midoriya. “Come on Deku!” And they both walked away in search of other teammates.

You sighed. “Alright, Kirishima, let’s do this.”

“Yeah! I know exactly who else I want to join us!” he said energetically, his eyes sweeping the grounds and looking for the people he wanted.

You glanced around the field as well. Briefly your gaze fell on Todoroki, catching sight of that head of half white and half red. Your eyes met for a second, before he glanced away, ignoring you again. You then inspected his team.

“Kirishima,” you got your teammate’s attention, “Todoroki already has a team. He’s got Iida, Yaoyorozu, and Kaminari.”

“Well, we’d better hurry up then,” he said, still smiling reassuringly. “Hey Bakugo!” he suddenly called at the ash-blond nearby. “Todoroki has a team already! Team up with us!”

“You are hair for brains, right?” Bakugo acknowledged him.

“It’s Kirishima! Remember my name dammit!” Kirishima said, stung. “But join up with us! We’ll be a super strong team together! We have [Last] with us too!” He pulled you in front of him, showing Bakugo.

Bakugo took one glance at you. “I don’t like you.”

“Well I don’t like you either,” you snapped.

“Bitch.”

“Prick.”

“Guys, guys! Can we stop fighting among ourselves?!” Kirishima asked.

“No,” you and Bakugo both stubbornly said at the same time. Kirishima groaned.

“Ok, but we’re in the middle of the Sports Festival! Can we at least save the fighting for another time?! Right now is the time to work together and win!”

The very last word that Kirishima said seemed to get Bakugo thinking. He quite liked winning.

“Alright, I’ll work together with you guys to win,” Bakugo decided. His lips pulled into a confident smirk. “You dumbasses better listen up because I have a plan.”

“Oh no, is it stupid?” you asked.

“Bitch!”

“Prick!”

“Guys, seriously! Now is not the time! Can we all just work together for a few minutes?!” Kirishima asked, exasperated. His facial expression screamed what the hell is wrong with this team?! Both you and Bakugo stopped your silent staring (more like glaring) contest. Kirishima continued. “I’ll be the front horse! We’ll definitely get Midoriya’s ten million together!”

“I’ll be our team’s rider and rip it off his head!” Bakugo’s lips curled back into a sinister smile.

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to be rider?” you asked. “My quirk makes it impossible for people to touch me.”

“NO! I have to be the one to take it from Deku!” Bakugo shouted, unyielding.

You bit back your retort with difficulty. You exhaled quietly through your nose. Just cooperate for now, you told yourself, for Kirishima’s sake. “Alright, whatever you say. I’ll be a side horse then.”

“Hey guys!” Hanta Sero called at you three. “It wouldn’t hurt to let me join your team, right?”

Bakugo looked at him as if he were simply an insect. “Who are you again?”

“Dammit Bakugo, I’m your classmate! Hanta Sero! I shoot tape out of my elbows!”

“Sure, the more the merrier!” Kirishima said cheerfully. They quickly assembled into position, with Kirishima at the front, Sero on the right, and you on the left. Bakugo got into his position as Rider, resting his boot-clad feet on the horses’ linked hands.

Ugh, I hope his feet don’t smell… you thought, wrinkling your nose. I’ll have to wash my hands after this.

Then, Midnight’s voice rang out once again. “All right, time’s up! The Human Cavalry Battle begins now!”

Screams and applause erupted from the audience as the teams advanced to the middle of the stadium, all eyes on that headband worth ten million points, pure chaos issuing forth. It seemed like Midoriya and Uraraka teamed up with bird-like Tokoyami and another girl from the support course. As soon as the Cavalry Battle began, Midoriya pushed a button and the jetpack strapped to his back pulled his team up and away from the advancing squads.

“We shouldn’t let our guard down,” you said as you ran with your team. “Most people are all aiming for the ten million, but our headband is still worth quite a bit.”

Just as you finished your sentence, Bakugo launched his palms out behind him and fired himself into the air towards Midoriya, his tunnel vision dead set on the ten million point prize.

“Dammit Bakugo!” you yelled after him, “Stop being so reckless!” But his sole focus was Midoriya.

“Riding very high and mighty, aren’t you, Deku?!” he taunted Midoriya. He thrust his hand forward and a burst of light and smoke shot from his palm. But instead of hitting the target, the explosion was intercepted by a sort of dark bird-like creature issuing from Tokoyami’s stomach. Bakugo’s red eyes widened in surprise, and he started to lose altitude as gravity pulled him down.

“That damn Bakugo,” you muttered to yourself. You then turned your attention to Kirishima and Sero. “Alright guys, we’ll meet him in the air.” Your brain whirled at the speed of light, automatically and seamlessly completing the intense calculations behind the physics of your quirk. Right away, your feet lifted off the ground and your team launched upwards towards Bakugo. Sero shot out his tape, attaching to Bakugo and reeling him in as you held the team still in midair.

“Nice catch, Sero. Good job, [Last],” Kirishima complimented.

Present Mic was shouting something, but listening to him wasn’t important right now. Right now, you had to prevent your team from falling apart. Your team smoothly landed on the ground after Bakugo was safely stationed on top of you three.

“Dammit Bakugo, you can’t just keep flying off on your own like that!” you angrily told him.

“How could I not?!” he yelled back, frustrated he didn’t obtain the ten million. “Deku was right in front of-”

Just then, a burst of golden light flared from Team Bakugo’s left. Other cavalry teams on that side tensed up, as if a great shock ran through them all.

“Kaminari’s electricity!” Kirishima shouted.

“Damn, one problem after another,” you muttered to yourself. “Kirishima, Sero, hold on to Bakugo for me!” You lifted your hand from the cavalry formation and swiped it through the air as the yellow electricity approached you, zapping and buzzing maliciously. As soon as the bolts hit your outstretched fingers, they ricocheted off, into the ground and away from your team.

“There, I deflected Kaminari’s attack,” you said as you put your hand back into formation. “But if Kaminari’s here, then that means Todoroki is here too.”

This sparked Bakugo’s interest. “Let’s get that half and half bastard!” But right after he said that, you felt Bakugo freeze up. You heard a ripping sound from above you, regrettably similar to the sound of ripping velcro. You glanced up to see another team in front of you, composed of Class 1B students. Their leader (Monoma, was it?) mockingly stared down his nose at Team Bakugo, your team headband hanging limply around his index finger.

“Just like taking candy from a baby, Class A,” Monoma taunted as he wrapped Team Bakugo’s headband around his neck.

Bakugo exploded in anger, veins appearing on his neck. “GIVE THAT BACK! I’LL KILL YOU!”

Monoma was not fazed at all. He looked at Bakugo like Bakugo was simply a spoiled child throwing a tantrum. “You’re quite famous, aren’t you? You’re the victim from that sludge incident!” Monoma paused, his eyes glinting evilly. “How does it feel to be attacked by villains once a year?”

If Bakugo’s reaction a second before counted as anger, then his reaction right now was unadulterated fury and rage. He looked like he wished for nothing but to dissect Monoma alive right here and now.

“Kirishima, change of plans,” his voice was quieter now, but its venomous and deadly tone sent a shiver down your spine. You could hear the pure hatred and feel the white hot ferocity in that voice. One glance at Kirishima and Sero told you that they were scared, like they were holding a rabid animal right now. If Bakugo’s hatred were measured by flames, the entire world have instantly turned to ash right now.

“Before Deku, let’s kill all these guys first!” Bakugo seethed, his body shaking from all the rage condensed inside of it. You wouldn’t have been surprised if steam shot out of his nose right now.

Welp, rest in pieces, Monoma.

“Get it together, Bakugo.” Kirishima tried to bring him back to his senses. “If you don’t calm down, we’ll never be able to take back those points!”

“Forward, Kirishima!” Bakugo bellowed, his lips pulled back into a crazy grin. “I’m totally calm!”

You were about to reply to that, until you thought better and realized that now was not the time to upset Bakugo even further.

“We’re seriously counting on you,” Kirishima said as he pulled forward.

Bakugo lunged at Monoma, aiming to grab him by the face, and a blast of orange light and smoke issued from Bakugo’s hand. But it was as if Monoma expected this. He clearly wasn’t a novice at hand to hand combat. Like an expert bullfighter, he smoothly leaned to the side, a hand deflecting Bakugo’s arm as Bakugo dived past him. Bakugo’s jaw dropped in shock. He quickly regained his balance and turned around, but was met with an explosion in the face. His own explosion, in fact.

“What is this quirk? Energy absorption and release?” you wondered.

“Such a nice quirk!” Monoma sounded as excited as a child in a candy store. He then swiped his hand across Kirishima’s forehead. Bakugo dived in a second time, aiming at Monoma’s face again, and light flashed out of his palm, immediately followed by a cloud of soot. When the smoke cleared, you expected to see Monoma lying on the ground, defeated and knocked out, because that was a point blank hit! Instead, Monoma’s skin was buffed up and resembled crystal, strikingly similar to Kirishima’s Hardening quirk.

“Woah, such nice quirks!” Monoma repeated in the same thrilled voice as before. “But my quirk is far greater!” Then, it clicked in your mind, and it seemed like it dawned on Bakugo too.

“Woah, my quirk! Why does he have my quirk?” Kirishima gasped out.

“This guy has a copy quirk,” Bakugo said grimly.

“Correct.” Monoma offered a taunting smile. “But I guess even idiots can get that right.”

Before Bakugo could lunge himself forward again, another team of Class B students closed in on them. Grey and sticky-looking goo issued from the bulky male’s mouth. The slime pooled on the ground, covering the grass and Kirishima’s foot.

“Monoma, let’s run!” the bulky male said. “With your score, you’ll be in the top four places for sure!” He turned on his heel and ran, with Team Monoma following behind him.

“Farewell,” Monoma smugly waved goodbye, taunting them one last time before making his escape.

Kirishima leaned forward, ready to give pursuit, but the foot covered in the slime wouldn’t budge. “It hardened! I can’t move!”

“It’s concrete, but nothing we can’t beat!” you yelled. You pressed your toes against Kirishima’s cemented foot prison, and it shattered into pieces. “There, you’re free now!”

“Thanks [Last]!”

“We need to hurry! We’re still at zero points!” Sero frantically reminded. Your team broke off into a sprint, charging in hot pursuit of your target. Gradually, you gained ground on Team Monoma, and you saw Bakugo swing his arms behind him, palms down.

“Wait Bakugo, don’t you fly-!” you began, but he had already done it, blasting through the air and steadily approaching their opponent.

“Tsuburaba, guard!” Monoma commanded. Team Monoma’s front horse puckered his lips as if he were to whistle, then swiftly blew out. A shield, clear as glass, solidified in place. Bakugo collided into it with a thud, but he remained unfazed. He held onto the clear surface, raised a fist, and launched it through the glass, shattering it on impact. The same fist took hold of two of the four headbands around Monoma’s neck, and savagely ripped them off.

“Yes!” you shouted at their triumph, momentarily forgetting your irritation at Bakugo. Sero’s tape shot out, caught Bakugo by the back of his jacket, and reeled him back into formation like before.

“Nice going, Bakugo!” you praised him, too pleased with your prize to scold him about his recklessness.

“But warn us before you jump off again!” Sero shouted.

“At least we’re placed high enough to advance to the finals now,” Kirishima said optimistically.

“IT’S NOT ENOUGH! WE’RE GOING TO GET AN INDISPUTABLE FIRST PLACE!” Bakugo bellowed, fury dripping off of his voice. He started pounding his fists onto Kirishima’s head, telling him wordlessly to hurry up. “WE’RE GETTING OUR POINTS BACK, AND THEN THE TEN MILLION!”

They raced on, all four pairs of eyes locked onto the back of their target. If looks could kill, Monoma would be dead four times over.

“Flat face!” Bakugo barked to his right, “Tape!”

“My name is Sero!” A white strand of Sero’s tape stretched out ahead of them and attached to the ground near their target.

“[Last]!” Bakugo called to his left, “Boost us!”

“Woah, so you actually know my name?” With the force of Bakugo’s explosions adding onto your vectors, Team Bakugo accelerated forward with the speed of a bullet. In a single second, you closed in on your opponent, and Bakugo’s fingers wrapped around the remaining headbands circling Monoma’s neck, and yanked brutally with all his might. With a great rip, the bands became undone and lay safely in Bakugo’s fist.

You made a mental note to never underestimate Bakugo’s unyielding and persistent spirit.

Circling the headbands around his own neck, Bakugo smirked triumphantly. “Next are Deku and the half half bastard!”

You glanced at the large TV screen that broadcasted the remaining time and scores. You shouted, “Twelve seconds left! Todoroki has the ten million!” Your team didn’t have to look very hard to locate Todoroki, since several large ice walls segmented off a corner of the battle field. Team Bakugo pushed on towards that corner, racing against time.

Eight seconds left. You steadily approached the great ice walls. But even so, time was tight.

Six seconds left. You finally reached the great ice barricades. You scanned the structure, calculating how much force you would need to break through it.

Five seconds. “Hurry up and smash it already, [Last]!” Bakugo screeched, an edge of panic among all the anger in his voice.

Four seconds. Your foot struck the base of the ice barrier. It shattered into a hundred crystal pieces, glinting in the sun. “Let’s go!” you cried out.

Two. You advanced, crystal crunching under your feet, ice dust showering you overhead. Bakugo lept off in a barrage of explosions, joining the deadlock between Midoriya and Todoroki.

One. “You half half bastard!” Bakugo sailed in the air, his hand outstretched towards Todoroki, reaching and groping fiercely for that ten million around Todoroki’s neck.

“TIME’S UP!” Present Mic roared above the deafening crowd. Bakugo's fingers closed around thin air and he took a nosedive, and crumpled face first into the ground. The audience erupted into screams and cheers, their excitement filling the arena. Bakugo slowly sat up, but remained squatting on the ground, sulking moodily.

Present Mic continued. “Our top four teams are: Team Todoroki in first place! Team Bakugo in second place!” At this, Bakugo punched the ground and yelled to himself. “Team Shinso in third place! And Team Midoriya in fourth place! The Sports Festival will continue after the hour long lunch break! See you then!”

Although Bakugo was absolutely pissed off, Kirishima remained smiling. “Good job team! We made it to the finals!”

Kirishima’s happiness was infectious. Your lips pulled into a grin too. “We made it,” you excitedly said. “See you guys after the lunch break.” You turned and darted off, seeking the nearest washroom so you could scrub your hands. You exchanged congratulations with Uraraka and Midoriya when you passed them and exited the arena. You entered a hallway, turned a corner, and caught sight of the women’s bathroom. A single thought ran through your mind. I really hope Bakugo didn’t step in anything nasty before the Cavalry Battle.

A few minutes later, after you were content with your hand hygiene, you exited the bathroom, turned a corner, and the sight of Bakugo in front of you momentarily startled you. He leaned against the wall, a serious expression on his face. You stopped in your tracks and wondered what he wanted.

He caught sight of you. Right as you opened your mouth to ask him what he was doing, he lifted his index finger vertically over his lips. His meaning was plain as day. Shhh.

You blinked, confused at why you had to be quiet right now, but Bakugo didn’t have to answer you. A different voice, a familiar voice belonging to a certain ice quirk user came from beyond the corner.

“I was overpowered,” Todoroki said. “So much that I broke my pledge and used my fire.”

Immediately, you felt like you stumbled into something private, something you were not supposed to be listening to, but curiosity kept you from walking away. You silently moved to stand beside Bakugo, who was listening just as intently as you were.

“Iida, Kaminari, Yaoyorozu, Tokoyami, Uraraka, none of them felt it,” Todoroki continued. “Only I felt it at that moment, because I experienced All Might’s full power up close.”

“What does that mean?” Midoriya’s voice was timid and small, unsure, afraid he might say the wrong thing and upset Todoroki. Without witnessing their faces, you could imagine Todoroki narrowing his eyes now, glaring at Midoriya.

“It means I felt something similar coming from you,” he growled out, his tone icy and intimidating. It was silent except for their voices. The hallway was completely empty except for the pair talking, and the pair eavesdropping. “Midoriya, are you All Might’s secret love child or something?”

You could hear a sigh of relief come from Midoriya, who probably expected something more serious like Todoroki’s war declaration this morning.

“Th-That’s not it!” His voice stopped being so quiet, but he still stuttered. “I mean, even if I was, I would deny it, but I can assure you that’s not it!” You could imagine him violently shaking his head. “Anyways, why do you think that about me?”

“Since you said ‘that’s not it’, then you must have some relation to All Might that you can’t talk about, right?” Todoroki went on, ignoring Midoriya’s question.

You heard Midoriya gulp.

“Endeavor’s my old man. I’m sure you know he’s been stuck as the No 2 hero for forever,” Todoroki said. “If you have something from the No 1 hero, then I have even more reason to beat you.” He paused before speaking again. Even from around the corner, you could sense that the atmosphere just dropped a few degrees, and not because of Todoroki’s quirk. “My old man has a strong desire to rise in the world.

“As a hero, he won a name for himself using crushing force. Because of that, the living legend All Might is a great eyesore to him. Since he couldn’t surpass All Might, he moved on to his next plan.”

“What are you talking about, Todoroki?” Midoriya asked, confused. “What are you trying to tell me?”

“Have you heard of quirk marriages? After superpowers appeared, people started choosing spouses based on strengthening your own quirk and passing it onto your children. Although old fashioned and completely unethical, people were forced into marriage.”

Your eyes widened at the realization: his father coldly used his mother for his own selfish purposes. You couldn’t stop the small gasp that escaped from your lips, causing Bakugo to clamp a hand over your mouth. Your heart filled with emotion and empathy for Todoroki, because you were the same. You both were the same. Both had a past that always chased you, that haunted you. And because of that past, both had the dream of becoming heroes, desperately trying to save yourselves in doing so.

“My father is a man with both accomplishments and money. He won over my mother’s relatives and got ahold of my mother’s quirk,” Todoroki confirmed your thoughts. You could now hear a new tone in his voice. A new tone that was full with regret and hatred. “He is trying to fulfill his own desire by raising me to be a hero to surpass All Might.

“Screw him. I won’t become a tool of scum like that,” Todoroki growled, harshly and with loathing. He paused, and his voice took on a softer tone. “In my memories, my mother was always crying. She said my left side was ugly, and poured boiling water on me.”

You would have gasped if Bakugo wasn’t currently clamping your mouth shut. You thought about the burn scar on his face. Everyday, he must have been reminded of what happened. Every time he looked in a mirror, he must have recalled all of the suffering that he and his mother experienced at the hands of his father. Tears of empathy and compassion welled up in your eyes, and you furiously tried to blink them away.

“Basically, I picked a fight with you to show him what I can do without using his damn quirk,” Todoroki explained. “I’ll reject him completely by winning first place without it.”

Silence. Todoroki was finished talking. A pause.

Todoroki must have been alone all this time. A father that used him like a tool. A mother that hated him for being born. You felt your heart ache, old wounds from your own past resurfacing and resonating, harmonizing with his.

Then, footsteps started walking away and out of the hallway. And you were suddenly seized by an urge to call out to him, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. Not anymore.

Your body moved of its own accord, all sensible thought having gone out the window. You shoved Bakugo’s hand off you, turned a corner and caught sight of Todoroki’s back. You ran, one foot in front of the other, pushing past Midoriya.

“Todoroki!” you called out. He stopped in his tracks. The surprise from hearing your voice made him turn around, and he glared at you when he realized you had heard his private conversation with Midoriya.

“What the hell do you want?” He didn’t have time for this. He didn’t have time to waste on her. Talking about his father already put him in a foul mood, which only worsened when he caught sight of you.

“I’m sorry but I heard your conversation and I want to help you,” you blurted out. When you chased after him, your brain had shut down and let your body push yourself forward. You weren’t thinking. You hadn’t gathered your thoughts at all. All you knew was that you wanted desperately to reach out to him.

“I don’t need your help,” he viciously said, his voice colder than bitter ice. “You are annoying and nothing but a nuisance. Stay away from me.” He turned on his heel and walked away.

Your body leaned forward, starting to give chase again, but Midoriya’s hand on your shoulder stopped you.

“Todoroki,” he called out, determined. “My reason may be an insignificant motive compared to yours, but I can’t lose either. Not just for myself, but to pay back the people who’ve helped me along the way. So I repeat your war declaration back to you. I’ll win too!”

“Just you wait Todoroki!” you called, cupping your hands around your mouth in an attempt to amplify the sound, your heart fluttering in your chest from persistence. “No matter what you say, I’m going to help you! Even if I have to knock some sense into you first! Take that as a promise from me!”

Chapter Text

You and Midoriya arrived at the cafeteria after everyone else. Miraculously, you managed to find an empty table. The two of you sat down with your food trays in front of you.

“So [Last], you heard our conversation, right?” Midoriya asked after he swallowed a mouthful of rice. You felt your face become a bit warm as you became a bit flustered.

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop or anything… ok maybe I was, but I just came out of the washroom and heard you guys and it would have been really awkward if I just walked past you guys in the middle of your conversation, right?” you tried explaining. You decided to leave out the part about Bakugo listening too.

“[Last], there you are!” Kaminari said as he slipped into the empty seat beside you. “We were looking everywhere for you!”

“Huh? What is it?” you asked.

“UA brought over cheerleaders from America! You saw them, right?”

“Nope,” you replied.

“Well, this is a message directly from Mr Aizawa: All girls must join the American cheerleaders and do the cheerleading with them!”

You looked at him in suspicion, which only deepened when you saw Mineta standing behind Kaminari. “Really?”

“Really!” Kaminari answered right away, nodding his head. You were about to say that this sounded incredibly fishy to you, until Uraraka’s familiar voice piped up from behind you.

“[First], I found you!” she said breathlessly. “Everyone’s been looking for you. Hurry, Yaoyorozu’s making the cheerleading outfits right now using her Creation quirk!”

“Wait, what?” you asked in amazement, “We really need to do the cheerleading stuff?”

“Yes! Let’s go! Bye Deku!” Uraraka waved goodbye to Midoriya. She grabbed your hand, leading the way to the locker rooms.

“That damn Mineta and Kaminari,” you seethed 30 minutes later, dressed up in the orange cheerleading outfit. This damn outfit, with its skirt too short, with its shirt too small. Beside you stood the other Class 1A girls, who were dressed similarly. You clutched the yellow pompoms to your stomach, trying to hide as much skin as possible.

“Mineta! Kaminari! You tricked us, didn’t you?!” Yaoyorozu yelled, her usually polite tone replaced with an annoyed one. She fell to the ground, incredibly disappointed with herself, her face downcast. “Why am I always getting caught up in Mineta’s schemes?”

The always kind Uraraka kneeled down and gently patted Yaoyorozu on the back.

Jiro, the earphone jack girl, angrily threw her pompoms to the ground. “Those guys are such idiots!”

“Well, there’s still time before the finals, so it’s fine! Let’s do it!” said Hagakure, the invisible girl. She waved her pompoms around, energetically yet haphazardly, almost punching Jiro in the face.

“Easy for you to say, Hagakure,” you groaned. “You’re invisible, so no one can see you in this embarrassing outfit.”

“Toru actually likes this, huh?” Asui commented with her cute froggy voice.

“Alright everyone! Time for the recreation games!” Present Mic’s voice shot out across the stadium, magnified with his quirk. “Then after that, it’s the final event! Sixteen individuals made it through from the second event! We’re pitting them against each other in one-on-one combat!”

Midnight’s voice followed after Present Mic finished. “Alright, the matchups will be determined through lottery! After the matchups are determined, we’ll do the recreational games, then we’ll start the final battle! Whether or not the final sixteen want to participate in the recreational games is up to you. I’m sure you guys would prefer to take a break or preserve your strength.”

A hand raised in the crowd. “Um, excuse me, I’m withdrawing,” said Ojiro, the tail guy. A surprised gasp swept through the crowd. “Everyone earned their place in the final sixteen and I wouldn’t feel right to participate with you guys when I don’t even remember how I got here. I just can’t do it.”

A round Class B student spoke up too. “I don’t remember what happened either. I’m withdrawing too. For a person like me, who didn’t actually do anything, to participate in the final would defeat the purpose of the Sports Festival.”

“You guys are so manly...” Kirishima muttered, awestruck.

“Alright!” Midnight agreed. A few minutes later, Ojiro and the Class B students’ spots were given to Class B’s Tetsutetsu, the guy with the steel quirk, and Shiozaki, who had vines growing out of her scalp. A large TV screen flashed and listed the match ups. Your eyes scanned it from left to right, looking for the names of your friends. Midoriya would be fighting first against a person called Hitoshi Shinso. Wasn’t that the purple haired guy who declared war on the hero course students? The third match would have Iida against Mei Hatsume, the girl who was on Team Midoriya for the Cavalry Battle. You then saw your own name, with Aoyama’s next to yours (“Let’s both do our best, ma cherie,” he said). Finally, your eyes landed on Uraraka’s name, right beside Bakugo’s.

You heard a small “Eek!” come from Uraraka beside you. You half expected the girl to start trembling.

“Uraraka?” you asked, worried. “Are you alright?”

“Now, as promised, the tournament will be put on hold and we’ll enjoy some recreational games!” Present Mic’s voice shouted from overhead.

“Uraraka?” you tried again.

Uraraka held out her fist, giving a thumbs up that shook slightly. “I’m fine!” she said in a happy tone that was somewhat different from her usual cheerful tone. It sounded almost false.

“Uraraka, I can help you think of battle strategies if you want. I was on his team for the Cavalry Battle so I have a rough idea of what his fighting style is.”

“No. I need to do it by myself.” Uraraka said this with surprising firmness. “I entered the hero course to become stronger, not to get by with other people always going easy on me or bailing me out.” She then took your hands, which still held the pompoms, and started to shake. “Now come on! Let’s have some fun before the battle!”

“Wait Uraraka, cheerleading is your idea of fun?”

“Come on! Do it with me! The yellow pompoms are cute!” Uraraka started pumping her fists in the air energetically, the pompoms flying around.

“Alright,” you hesitantly joined in. Something in the back of your mind told you that Uraraka was desperately trying to destress herself right now.

The recreational games seemed to end in a split second. Almost too soon, Present Mic’s voice was booming again and announcing the start of the final tournament event. You and Uraraka changed back into your UA gym uniforms and wished Midoriya good luck as the two of you passed him. You quickly joined Iida up in the spectator stands. From up here, you could see the entire stadium field. The battle stage formed a rectangle in the centre of the green field, and Midoriya stood on one end while Shinso stood on the other.

The match began. A few words were exchanged between the two contestants, before Midoriya charged at his opponent. All of a sudden Midoriya stopped in his tracks, oddly stiff and quiet. When Shinso ordered him to walk out of bounds, Midoriya obediently turned around, with his back to his opponent, and began to walk. This Shinso person must have a mind control quirk. Midoriya, one foot in front of the other, steadily approached the out of bound lines that enclosed the rectangle. Just then, Midoriya seemed to flick a finger down, and a violent swirl of air whirled suddenly around Midoriya’s feet. Next moment, Midoriya stood panting breathlessly and had evidently regained control of his body. He rushed at Shinso, and they exchanged a few punches and grabs, before Midoriya flipped Shinso out of bounds, ending the match.

“Midoriya Izuku advances to the next round!” Midnight shouted. The audience roared with applause.

Uraraka yelled out “Go Deku!” while Iida furiously clapped his hands. You let out a gentle smile, and joined in with the applause.

Preparations for the next match started: Todoroki vs Sero. You sighed. Assuming the two of you both won your respective battles, it seemed like you wouldn’t be fighting Todoroki anytime soon…

As soon as the match started, white ribbons of tape shot out of Sero’s elbows, wrapped around Todoroki, and started to reel him towards the out of bound lines. Immediately, faster than you could see, you felt the air itself freeze. The entire audience fell silent in shock, completely awestruck at what just happened. Ice filled Sero’s half of the battle field, but it didn’t stop there. Ice completely filled one half of the arena, some even jutting out over the top into the heavens. You were amazed. All this power with this overwhelming victory, and he only used his right side. The frozen tape around Todoroki shattered easily, and the match was concluded.

The silence of shock was broken when the audience chanted “Don’t mind!” in an attempt to comfort Sero, who was obviously immobilized in this titanic ice prison. Todoroki apologized to his opponent, and he lifted his left hand to melt the ice he had created.

And there it appeared again. That look that so resembled your own. This only deepened your resolve to help him, to save him from the demons haunting him, and to rescue him from his own hatred.

The next match proceeded without many notable moments. Of course, anyone after Todoroki paled in comparison. The third match was the longest by far. You, Uraraka, and Midoriya all wished Iida good luck, but honestly, he didn’t need it. His opponent stepped out of bounds on her own accord after she used Iida to showcase her inventions for a full ten minutes.

Now, it was your turn. Your friends gave you words of encouragement before you ascended the stairs and stepped onto the rectangular battle field, Aoyama facing you on the other end. Present Mic went on to introduce the two of you to the audience, as he had done for the other final contestants.

“Even though he’s wearing a belt, he won’t transform! It’s Yuga Aoyama from the hero course! VERSUS. We saw her take down those two zero point robots and we see why she got in on Recommendations! [First] [Last] from the hero course! Fourth match, START!”

Right off the bat, a beam of bright blue light shot out, aiming in your direction. Just as it was about to hit your forehead, which might as well have been a mirror, the beam shot right back. It barely missed Aoyama, who flung himself out of the way. While Aoyama was distracted with his reflected attack, you seized the chance. You kicked off from the ground, closed the distance between you and your opponent in a moment, and your fist made contact with his chin in a harsh uppercut. Aoyama sailed briefly in the air, then fell to the ground and lay there, spread eagle like a figure skater. Just like that, the match was decided in an instant.

“Aoyama is immobilized! [Last] advances to the next round!”

“Sorry Aoyama,” you apologized, feeling a bit bad. “I didn’t want to punch you in your stomach and break your belt...”

His hand shakily lifted from the ground and he gave you a thumbs up. The medical robots wheeled him away shortly. You went back up to the spectator stands and joined your friends.

The next two matches were over quickly. In the fifth match, Kaminari’s electrical attack was entirely blocked by Shiozaki’s vines, which then wrapped around him and immobilized him. Next, Tokoyami overwhelmed Yaoyorozu when his Dark Shadow struck quickly and shoved her out of bounds before she could counter.

When the seventh match started (Tetsutetsu vs Kirishima), Uraraka got up and walked out of the spectator stands, muttering something about going to the waiting room. Midoriya, Iida, and you found her in waiting room number two.

“Hi,” Uraraka said in a brittle voice. Her eyebrows were scrunched together so tightly that they almost connected. “You guys did so well in your matches. I hope I do well too.”

“Uraraka! Your eyebrows are so wrinkled!” Iida yelled out in surprise.

“I’m just so nervous! I guess it went to my eyebrows,” she said as she lowered her head in worry, but at least her eyebrows went back to normal. “And I won’t lie. I’m super scared.” No kidding. She looked as if she had swallowed poison and was waiting for death to come.

“Hey, maybe Bakugo would go easy if he’s fighting a girl,” Iida suggested hopefully.

“Nope he won’t,” Midoriya shot down immediately. “Everyone is giving their best at this Sports Festival, and so is Kacchan. But I’ve come up with a strategy for your matchup based on your quirk!”

Evidently, they were expecting Uraraka to be relieved, but she simply shook her head. Iida and Midoriya blinked in surprise. “Thank you Deku, but it’s ok. I’ve already depended on you enough throughout the Cavalry Battle, and I really want to pull through this time by my own strength.”

“Alright Uraraka,” you said. “We’ll be watching and cheering you on through your match.”

Uraraka’s smile trembled, but she stood up steadily and with purpose, and she was out the door.

A few minutes later, Uraraka stood in front of Bakugo while her three friends were seated in the spectator stands (why call it the spectator stands when you’re sitting? You had no clue). During this match, Uraraka fought at her wit’s end. No matter how she lunged at Bakugo, his defense would be impenetrable and he would blast her away. No matter what she threw at him, he would blow it away like it was nothing. Even when she unleashed all the pieces of concrete that she had levitated in the air and rained it down upon him, he simply demolished the concrete rain with one great burst of smoke from his hand. In the end, Uraraka collapsed in exhaustion as a result from overusing her quirk. Midnight concluded the match and Bakugo advanced to the next round. The last you saw of Uraraka on the stadium was her being wheeled away by recovery robots.

Midoriya and you found her in waiting room number two again, almost good as new. The expression she wore on her face was carefree and much like the usual Uraraka expression. On the table lay a brand new UA gym uniform jacket since hers was destroyed in her battle.

“Damn, guess I lost,” she said, smiling and rubbing her cheek.

“Uraraka, are you ok?” you asked, gently resting your hand on Uraraka’s shoulder.

“Recovery Girl took care of me, but still left a few small bruises and cuts so my stamina wouldn’t be too drained,” she said, with a sort of cheeriness that sounded slightly strained.

“You know that’s not what I meant.”

Uraraka’s cheery expression fell slightly, but a small smile still remained. “I’m fine, I really am. You guys always look straight ahead, and always keep moving forward, and I want to do my best too.” Her body hunched over, and a small tremor shook through her.

“Uraraka...” Midoriya tried to say.

“Alright, I think the matches will start soon. You don’t want to miss those,” Uraraka said in a small voice, although the first round of matches was over and the contestants were currently on a break. But the meaning behind her words was very clear. I don’t want you to see me cry.

“Yeah, Midoriya, your match against Todoroki is right up next, so I think you should go and prepare now,” you said, giving Midoriya a look. Midoriya got the hint that he was being sent away, and gave the both of them a small nod before closing the door behind him.

You tried to begin in a firm voice, “Uraraka, I just want to let you know that you fought very well and-”

“[First], you don’t have to lie to make me feel better,” Uraraka interrupted, fiddling with the plastic wrap on her new gym jacket. “I was completely destroyed in that match.”

“Uraraka, don’t say that.”

“And I see you guys always looking ahead and always moving forward,” she continued, emotion coating her words. “And I want to catch up.” Her eyes filled with tears.

“Uraraka, you feel like we’re leaving you behind?” you asked gently.

A whimper answered your question. You sighed. You took the new gym jacket out of Uraraka’s hands.

“Uraraka, listen to me. You shouldn’t feel the need to catch up to us because you never fell behind in the first place.” you hoped you were saying the right thing. You really hoped you were comforting your friend correctly because you had never really done this before. The plastic crinkled when you took the jacket out of its wrapping. You rolled out the fabric. “Sure you lost your match, but the amount of courage and determination you showed today are unrivaled. I’m sure many pro heroes saw that, and value that as well,” you said as you draped the jacket around Uraraka’s shoulders.

“Thank you,” Uraraka said in a small voice.

“Ok, I’m going to check up on Midoriya now because his match is soon. Make sure you come back to our seats and sit with us when you’re ready.”

You gave her one final pat on the back before stepping out of the room and giving Uraraka her privacy. The door closed softly, and you quickly walked away because Uraraka probably wouldn’t want anyone to hear her quiet sobs and whimpers.

As soon as you turned a corner, you caught sight of Midoriya, and the man towering over him. You recognized him immediately, with those flames covering his beard and shoulders. No 2 hero, Endeavor.

“Shoto’s match against you will no doubt be an excellent test, so do your best and don’t give him a disgraceful match,” Endeavor said to Midoriya.

“I am not All Might,” Midoriya did not back down. “And Todoroki isn’t you.”

“What is going on here?” you asked, a challenging edge to your words. This man standing in front of you was Todoroki’s father. This man was the reason behind Todoroki’s suffering. You felt irritation simmer inside of you. His aqua eyes fell onto you, and his lips pulled up in a pleased and eerie smile.

“Oh, good, you saved me the trouble of looking for you,” he said, meeting your gaze. “I’ve seen what you’ve done so far today, and I know your quirk is powerful. You’re not bad looking either. What do you think about a future marriage with my Shoto?”

Your gaze hardened to a glare. “Well, that’s too bad for you because Todoroki is dead set on ignoring me,” you replied, full of sarcasm. Endeavor seemed not to catch on to your displeasure as he continued.

“Well, I’ll have a word with him. Nothing we can’t arrange,” he said smugly. “So how much money do you want? Who are your parents? I’d like to have a chat with them too.”

Your throat constricted with revulsion. “You disgust me,” you seethed out.

That wiped the pleased smirk off his face. “I’d watch my mouth if I were you,” he growled dangerously at you, but you ignored him.

“You see people as nothing but tools for you to use, as stepping stones for you to climb. You completely disregard the feelings of others in your own selfishness,” you snapped back. His eyes narrowed and the flames coating his shoulders rose as Endeavor’s temper rose with them. The hallway felt hot like a sauna now.

“You are nothing but a pampered and spoiled little girl. Sometimes suffering is necessary for us to advance,” he scoffed at you. “Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to know. You know nothing of this world. You have seen nothing of this world.”

“I’ve seen more than you think. I’ve seen first hand the cruelty of which this world is capable.” A series of vivid images flashed through your mind. A dark alleyway. Blood. Those empty eyes staring back at you. Without conscious thought, your hands tightened into fists, shaking at your sides, but your voice remained steady and strong, persisting through the harsh memories that wouldn’t leave you. “Get your head out of your butt. You are nothing but a little man who is blind to the suffering that he has caused to others.”

For a moment, it looked like he would have liked nothing better than to burn the whole hallway to a crisp. Luckily for the hallway, and for poor Midoriya who had been listening tensely on the side, a new voice boomed out from behind you.

“I am here!” All Might yelled from behind you, in a wildly transparent attempt to ease the tension. He scanned the scene, assessing the situation.

“Mr All Might!” Midoriya gasped out, relieved.

“The tournaments will be starting shortly,” All Might said, trying to break the tense atmosphere. “Endeavor, your son will be fighting soon.”

It looked like it took all of Endeavor’s self restraint to not cave into his idea of roasting you. Fortunately, the flames on his shoulders returned to their normal size, and the hallway no longer felt like a desert.

“Consider the deal off,” he said to you. He sent you one final look of contempt and stalked away.

When he was sure Endeavor had gone out of earshot, Midoriya was quick to start scolding you, with comedic tears streaming down his cheeks. “[Last], that was dangerous! I thought we were both gonna be sent to early and fiery graves!”

“He’s the one who made Todoroki suffer, and it’s clear that he only sees others as tools for him to use,” you hissed.

All Might cleared his throat, trying to change the subject. “Alright, now young man, your match against Young Todoroki is going to begin very soon, so you should go to the battlefield right now,” he said to Midoriya. He then turned to you. “Young [Last], let’s go back to our seats and watch the match.”

Anger still bubbled inside you, but it gradually simmered down. You sighed, unclenching your shaking fists. “Ok. Do your best Midoriya,” you said before you followed All Might down the hallway and up a flight of stairs.

“Young [Last], be careful.” All Might broke the silence after a few moments, in a tone that was somewhat different from the tone you were used to. Rather than the usual energetic toughness, his voice now was softer and had a hint of concern. “You are strong. I understand that. I appreciate your spirit, but sometimes it’s wiser to not provoke a sleeping bear.”

“Thank you, Mr All Might,” you forced yourself to reply politely, but All Might was nonetheless pleased with your answer. He nodded at you before the two of you separated. All Might went to the teacher’s spectator stands, while you made your way to the Class A ones. By the time you arrived and sat beside Uraraka (whose eyes were looking strangely puffy) and Iida, your anger had washed down considerably. Iida then spoke up.

“[Last], after Midoriya’s match with Todoroki, we’ll be fighting.”

“That’s right,” you confirmed.

“Although we’re friends, let’s both do our best,” Iida continued. “Let’s hold nothing back.”

You felt your mouth spread in a smile at Iida’s earnestness. “Yes. We’ll both do our best.”

Down below, with Midoriya at one end and Todoroki on the other, the match started as the deafening screams of the audience filled the air. It was evident that Midoriya was making this a match of endurance. He tried to keep his distance. Every time Todoroki sent an ice wave at him, Midoriya knocked it away with a flick of his finger. The absolute power behind every finger flick, though devastatingly powerful, came at a heavy price, since the fingers themselves broke after every attack. Midoriya fought tooth and nail, even going as far as using his already bruised fingers and arms and breaking them even more.

“It’s your own power, isn’t it?!” Midoriya shouted, loud and clear for the whole stadium to hear. Briefly, something flickered behind Todoroki’s eyes, and a flash of flame emitted from his left hand. But then he blinked, and his eyes returned to that cold and piercing look, and the little spark of flame vanished. In the blink of an eye, it was over. Midoriya, caught off guard by the flames, was knocked violently to the side by a great cold wall of ice and out of bounds.

“Deku!” Uraraka gasped out. She was now standing on her feet, hands gripping the metal railing in front of her, anxiously watching as the medical robots wheeled Midoriya away.

“Midoriya is out of bounds!” Midnight announced over the cheers of the audience. “Todoroki advances to the next round!”

Right away, Uraraka seized your hand. “We have to see Deku!” she cried out as she dragged you out of your seat and down the hallway, with Iida following you two.

***
When Midoriya woke up, he found his arms in casts and in a great deal of pain. Recovery Girl was yelling something at All Might, whose sunken-in eyes and hollowed out cheeks appeared more grim than his usual non-One-for-All mode.

As soon as Midoriya blinked the dizziness away and sat up, the door to the clinic room slammed open. A chorus of “Midoriya!” and “Deku!” was cried out, and he caught sight of his friends standing in the doorway. All Might from beside him tensed up, as if electricity just ran its course through him.

“I’m fine,” Midoriya tried assuring them. “Really, Recovery Girl’s taking care of me. I’ll be fine.”

Iida and Uraraka immediately started grilling Midoriya, firing questions at him and scolding him for being so reckless. Meanwhile, you stared ahead, unsure if what you were seeing was real or not.

“Uncle?” your voice asked, soft and amazed, as if you couldn’t believe it.

All Might, facing Midoriya with his back to you, looked absolutely horrified. This grabbed Uraraka and Iida’s attention, and they stopped interrogating Midoriya as the three of them watched the exchange happening, the reunion of uncle and niece.

“Uncle, is that really you?” you asked again, more firmly. That familiar messy blond hair, that familiar skinny body structure. He had lost weight from the last time you saw him, but you were sure it was him! He turned around, facing you with those familiar blue eyes, which had darkened considerably over the years. His cheekbones were much more pronounced than you remembered, but it was your uncle all the same! An excited grin, bright as the dawn, broke out on your face. “You came here to watch me, didn’t you?”

“[First] dear, it’s good to see you,” he finally spoke, his voice a perfect match with the one in your memories. He patted you on your head. “You’ve grown taller.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you’ve come back to Japan? You said you were overseas seeing a doctor,” you said with a tinge of confusion.

Recovery Girl sensed that All Might was caught in a tight spot and quickly intervened. “Quiet, I say! Quiet! I’m preparing Midoriya for surgery!” she yelled as she pushed out all the unwanted visitors and shut the door behind them.

“Thanks, Recovery Girl,” All Might breathed out. “You bought me enough time to think of a cover up story to tell my niece.”

“You really are [Last]’s uncle?!” Midoriya screeched, wide eyed at the unexpected reveal. “Wait, does she know you’re All Might?!”

“Yes, she’s my niece,” All Might sighed. He certainly had quite a bit of explaining to do. “My sister passed away when [First] was six. When I took her in, I knew I had to keep my hero identity secret from her. Any connection with All Might is sure to put her in danger. Young Midoriya, I’m going to have to ask you to not tell anyone, not even her.”

“I promise,” Midoriya nodded understandingly. There was a slight pause as Midoriya digested the information, then he said, “I feel like she’ll find out sometime, whether you want her to or not.”

“I’m aware,” All Might replied tiredly. It looked like his already boney and worn out face gained another ten years. “But I just hope that’s after she graduates from UA and becomes strong enough.”

“But [Last] is already crazy strong! Did you not see her take out those two zero point robots without breaking a sweat?!”

“I meant strong enough to protect herself,” All Might said grimly.

“How much stronger does she need to get?! What does she need to protect herself from?!”

“Now young man, you’re still injured! Don’t you go off yelling and shouting and stirring yourself up,” Recovery Girl angrily scolded, pushing Midoriya back down onto the mattress. “I’m starting the surgery soon, so you’d best be prepared and be quiet for now.”

“Sorry Young Midoriya,” All Might said. “Maybe another time.”

***
“Midoriya will be fine,” Iida reassured himself as they walked down the hall. “Recovery Girl’s taking care of him. He’ll be fine.”

“For sure,” you said brightly, in a much lighter tone than what your friends were used to. “Recovery Girl is an extremely experienced medic. She’s seen it all. Midoriya’s injuries are nothing she can’t handle.” These words, along with your lively tone, visibly relaxed your friends. Uraraka’s scrunched eyebrows relaxed and Iida exhaled, relieved.

“For sure, Deku will be just fine,” Uraraka agreed, bobbing her head up and down. Then she excitedly asked, “So [First], that was your uncle, right?”

“Your uncle, [Last]?” Iida questioned.

“Yep,” you confirmed happily. A bounce seemed to follow every step you took. “I owe him everything. I’m here at UA now because of him. And Iida,” you turned to look at him, beaming, “Our battle is gonna start now, isn’t it? Best of luck! Don’t hold anything back because I won’t.”

“Yes, for sure. Best of luck!” Iida nodded.

In seemingly no time at all, you once again stood on the battlefield on one end, but Iida faced you instead of Aoyama. Present Mic’s voice boomed overhead, announcing the two contestants and starting the match.

“Recipro Burst!” Iida bellowed as the engines on his legs whirled to life. He moved incredibly swiftly, becoming a blur that zoomed behind you. Iida lifted his hands, intending to push you out of bounds. As his hands were about to fall on your shoulders, they felt like they hit some invisible force field, and were pushed right off. You whipped around to face Iida and your hand shot out, attempting to grab him. Iida was barely able to dodge as his engines propelled him away, your fingers missing his arm by a centimetre.

“You’re fast,” you complimented him as he shot towards you again. “But what if I destroy your foothold?” You lifted your foot and stomped the ground. The whole rectangular battlefield shattered, as if by an earthquake that originated from underneath your toes. Iida stumbled as the ground erupted beneath his feet and he was forced to slow down. In an instant, you had closed in on him, your arm out and reaching for him. Your fingers made contact with his shoulder, and Iida was thrown into the air as easily as if he were a paper airplane. Briefly, he was reminded of the time when you had thrown him that day the press had broken into UA. Iida landed roughly on his back and hit the out of bounds lines.

Midnight was quick to conclude, “Iida is out of bounds! [Last] advances to the next round!”

You went over to your opponent, checking to make sure he wasn’t hurt. You held out a hand, offering to help him up. “Good match, Iida. You did well.”

“I guess I lost, huh,” he said good naturedly as he took your hand and you heaved him up. “You’re strong.”

Your ears went a bit red at the praise. “Nah, your Recipro Burst is incredible. You were like a blur.”

As you both began walking back to your seats, you lifted your eyes to the spectator stands and met the heterochromatic pair that had been staring at you. You grinned up at him and met his hard gaze, bright eyes into mismatched grey and aqua, wordlessly sending him a message through that look.

That’s right, Todoroki, I’m gonna fight you next.

Chapter Text

Shoto Todoroki’s fourth birthday was filled with happiness. That day he crawled out of bed, excited about the cake and candles and presents, and he noticed his hands tingled in a good way. He brought them up, inspecting them, and felt a sort of new feeling, a sort of energy swirling around in them. He concentrated on them, allowing the new yet familiar energy to leak out, and immediately a sheet of white frost formed on his right hand while warm and orange flames flickered on his left. Immense excitement filled him, and he stumbled quite a bit as he ran to tell his parents. His mother, always kind and gentle, congratulated him and hugged him tightly. His father told him “Good job, Shoto! I’m sure you will surpass All Might!” and patted him on the head. His father, who was so difficult to please, actually acknowledged him and gave him a satisfied smile. However, something strange and foreign, something little Shoto didn’t recognize, briefly twinkled behind his father’s eyes. But little Shoto soon forgot about that look when his older siblings took out the cake and presents. The three of his siblings and both of his parents, all five of little Shoto’s family members sat around the table with him that day, eating cake and celebrating. Shoto Todoroki’s fourth birthday was filled with laughter and warmth.

Shoto Todoroki expected his fifth birthday to be just as filled with happiness as his fourth, but it was not so. A month before January 11th, his mother strangely started sporting bruises on her face and down her arms. When he asked her about it, a shadow would pass over her gentle and weary eyes, and she would simply tell him that she fell and to not worry about it. But even little Shoto could tell that she was lying. When she was sure no one was around, he would sometimes catch her crying to herself. In the early morning of his fifth birthday, before the birds even started chirping, he was pulled roughly out of his warm blankets and shaken awake by his father. His father simply told him, “I’m going to start training you today, Shoto! You will be the one to surpass All Might!” before dragging him off. In the training hall, he noticed that his mother was already there, looking quite anxious. His father abruptly stopped walking, and little Shoto almost bumped into him. Immediately, his father sank his large fist into the boy’s gut. A world of pain exploded inside his little body. The boy gagged, felt his stomach lurch, and he emptied the contents of yesterday’s dinner onto the floor. Tears of confusion and hurt flowed down his cheeks, mixing with his saliva. Why on earth would his father do this to him?

“Stand up,” his father growled coldly. “If you’re downed by something like this, forget about beating All Might. You won’t even be able to take the small fry villains.” Little Shoto started to tremble, fear sinking into every pore of his little body, terrified at what would come next.

“Please stop!” Little Shoto heard his mother yell, coming to his rescue. “He’s only five!”

“Shut up! He’s ALREADY five! Get out of my way!” His father raised his large fist again, and struck it into his mother’s face. Shoto’s eyes widened as his mother fell to the side, trembling and looking just as terrified as Shoto felt. Now, it all made sense to the boy, what exactly caused his mother’s injuries.

The absolute horror of this scene was burned into his eyes, burned into his retinas, burned into his memories. His mother shaking on the floor, a large red mark blossoming across her white cheek, as his father, his monster of a father, hulked over them and displayed his cruelty.

His childhood was taken from him by his father. But his mother remained kind and gentle, despite the abuse she endured daily. She remained the figure to whom he could cling, to whom he could cry, who would hold him and comfort him after his particularly dreadful “sessions” with his father.

“Shoto,” she said to him softly one day. “You still want to be a hero, right? You're not bound by his blood. Decide who you want to become, and be all you can be.”

And soon, his mother was also taken away from him. The horror that she suffered was burned onto his face, branding him, a constant reminder of the suffering behind his quirk and his existence itself. And he was left to endure a life of cruelty by himself. Alone and in the bitter cold.

***
The one-on-one battles continued after Cementoss quickly fixed the stage. Tokoyami once again came out victorious when he struck with Dark Shadow and pushed Shiozaki out of bounds, ending the match instantly. The match between Kirishima and Bakugo lasted longer. At first, Bakugo’s explosions seemed to not affect Kirishima at all, but Bakugo gradually wore him down and knock him unconscious.

Just like that, it was time for the semi finals. Your friends wished you luck as you made your way down to the battlefield. Your heartbeats pounded in your ears as you ascended the stairs, knowing full well your opponent was doing the same on the other side. You both stepped onto the battlefield at the same time. An icy gaze, full of cold indifference met your eyes, and you stared back, silently accepting his challenge.

“You’ve been ignoring me for weeks, but you can’t ignore me anymore,” you said to him.

“I’m not going to go easy on you,” he replied.

“I’m hyped! I’m so hyped!” Present Mic hollered to the audience, slapping his commentator desk in excitement. “These two both got into the hero course on Recommendations! These two have both proven to be incredibly strong today! Now it’s time for [Last] VERSUS Todoroki! START!”

Todoroki wasted no time, jumping right into action. Towering pillars of ice shot forth from beneath Todoroki’s foot, which shattered into glass shards as they made contact with you. Your mind worked, trying to anticipate his next move, but you knew that there was something more important about this battle. Something more important than the actual fighting, than who gets to advance to the next round, than who wins or who loses. For the first time, Todoroki was giving you his undivided attention, and you knew you were being given an opportunity here.

The opportunity to reach him and save him.

Another frigid wave of ice shot at you. You tightened your fist, and hurled your punch into the ice, which burst into a hundred shining crystals.

“I thought you said you weren’t gonna go easy!” you shouted at him.

“Don't screw around with me!” he growled, his smoky breath fading quickly in the frigid air.

Another wall of ice shot at you and you struck it with a kick from your boot. The crystal lattice cracked and whittled away. Through the misty ice particles covering the air, a hand suddenly shot out and closed around her forearm. You gasped in surprise, and her eyes fell on Todoroki, who had used the ice wall as a cover, a distraction, while he approached you. Waves of frigidity shot through your body, originating from where Todoroki grabbed your forearm. You gathered your thoughts, and wrenched your frozen arm from Todoroki’s grasp. In the same second, the ice around your forearm fell away. Your fingers wrapped around his wrist, your other hand grabbing him by his gym jacket, and flipped him over onto his back.

Right away, he leapt onto his feet and straightened himself, keeping his distance this time, his gaze as cold as the ice he had created while you met his gaze with equal ferocity.

“Midoriya said this to you before, and I'll say it again! It’s your own power!” you shouted at the top of your lungs. You tightened your fist, raising it and shaking it at him. You didn’t care what you were doing anymore. You didn’t care what you were saying anymore. All you wanted right now was for your words to reach him. “I am strong! Extremely strong! And stronger than you if you keep limiting yourself!”

Todoroki looked absolutely livid. You noted that his rage was different from Bakugo’s. While Bakugo wore his anger on his sleeve and freely expressed it explosively, Todoroki’s anger felt like bitter ice, as cold as a long and lasting winter that had never seen the sun.

Next, you felt an intense and great cold, a cold more bitter than anything you had ever experienced from him. It was as if hell itself had frozen over. It was as if the ground itself had erupted, frigidness seeping through the crevices of the earth, and releasing that great cold upon them all.

The audience gasped in unison. Your body involuntarily shivered before a colossal wall of ice was unleashed, the crystallization of his current fury. With unmatched and unprecedented speed and size, it enclosed around you. It imprisoned you, burying you from head to toe. You could not move. You could not breathe. You stood, suspended in ice, as still and rigid as a statue, unable to process what just happened. Like a painting, you stared blankly back at him. The thick layer of ice was a barrier between your eyes and his.

Todoroki breathed out, glad that he finally took care of the problem girl. The match was over. He fought without using the quirk from his damn old man. Who did that problem girl think she was, anyway? He had told you again and again that his life was none of your business. Even when he ignored you, you didn’t take the hint and kept bugging him. Nevertheless, he had won in the end. He had won without using fire, the same power of his father, of the sick and twisted man who violated his mother. The bastard who robbed his mother of her freedom, her happiness, her sanity. The bastard who took both his childhood innocence and his mother away from him.

Meanwhile, you were petrified in the ice, like a fossil preserved in amber. It seemed like the air in your lungs had frozen solid, like the blood in your veins had frozen to a stop. It felt like every cell in your body was slowly dying of the cold as it approached your beating heart, steadily and cruelly. Now, you were experiencing Todoroki’s cruelty, the cruelty that he had to endure, the cruelty that had frozen a barrier around his heart.

Cruelty. You had experienced cruelty before. As your father cruelly closed the door behind him, leaving you and your mother forever. As the woman in black cruelly played with your mother like a cat with a mouse before she killed her. As you yourself had Awakened into the monster that cruelly ripped the woman in black to shreds. Cruelty had always been a part of this world, whether you acknowledged it or not. These cruel memories always haunted and tormented you. The more you tried to forget those memories, the more you remembered them again.

Yes... The world is cruel.

“Alright. I’ll personally train you every day if I have to. We will work together to make your dream come true.” And the two of you walked off, hand in hand into the night as a new chapter started for both of your lives.

But…

The flower’s petals moved by themselves, opening and closing around the golden middle, resembling a multi-winged butterfly fluttering its pure white wings. Your mother beamed, her smile brilliant and filled with warmth.

… But the world is also very warm and beautiful.

Although it felt like an eternity, a second after Todoroki exhaled and concluded for himself that he won, the ground trembled beneath his feet. A tremor shook the entire stadium, and several audience members tumbled out of their seats. The colossal ice prison seemed to shiver, then it cracked and burst into a thousand little pieces. Trembling and panting from the strain on your body, you emerged.

“Todoroki!” you screamed. You seemed to glow, as the thousand crystal fractals surrounding you gleamed like a halo from the light of the sun. “The match isn’t over yet!”

Todoroki immediately raised his guard again. “What the hell is up with you?!” he shouted furiously. “Did my damn father bribe you or something?! I don’t need your help! I will never use that damn quirk!”

“Don't you want to win?! Don't you want to become a hero?!” you responded automatically, without conscious thought. “How can you become a hero that everyone accepts if you can’t even accept yourself?!”

These words caught him off guard. He momentarily forgot about the fight as he stood there, staring at you with his mouth slightly open. His breathing became laboured as he absorbed your words, your voice that finally reached him, your voice which now echoed within the depths of his heart. A memory deep inside his mind, buried underneath layers of frost and ice and suffering, finally resurfaced after years of being forgotten.

“Shoto,” his mother’s gentle voice said. “You still want to be a hero, right? You're not bound by his blood. Decide who you want to become, and be all you can be.”

Then, at that moment, something sparked behind his eyes. The same something that flickered during his match with Midoriya, except a hundred times stronger. You felt the heat first, before great tongues of flame erupted from where Todoroki stood, painting the stadium in a brilliant and beautiful red light. The frozen fractals resting on your head melted from the heat, dampening your hair. Then, that too became dry as the temperature steadily increased to searing hot.

“Even though you want to win too…” His voice came from beyond the flames. “Why are you going out of your way to help me?”

You blinked at the question. He was right. You wanted to advance in this tournament. And the way to win is certainly not to help your opponent. Why were you working so hard to help him? What was pushing you? Why did you want to help him so much when you yourself was a mess beyond repair...?

The columns of fire separated, and Todoroki emerged, with his entire left side engulfed by flames. “I want to become a hero too!”

… Because when you first met, the grief in his eyes reminded you so much of yourself. And now, that look filled with grief was all but gone from his eyes, replaced with burning determination. You couldn’t help but grin happily.

“YES SHOTO! YOU’VE FINALLY ACCEPTED YOURSELF!” a voice roared from the stands, loud enough for the thousands of spectators to hear. Endeavor was beside himself with glee. “NOW YOU WILL SURPASS ME AND REALIZE MY AMBITION IN YOURSELF!”

Those words did not seem to reach Todoroki, who had his attention locked solely on you. “What are you smiling for?” he asked you as his brilliant flames surrounded him. “Even though you’re quite injured, and in this situation. You must be crazy.”

Your grin widened, but you still heavily panted. Breaking out of that colossal ice prison took a considerable amount of your strength. You gauged your limit, and knew that you barely had the energy to nullify any more of his attacks. You’d best stick to dodging now.

“Don’t blame me for what happens next,” Todoroki warned you.

“Let’s do it!” you called out with a smile on your face. “I’m not afraid!”

He pressed his foot into the ground, and ice erupted from beneath the sole of his foot again, perfectly counterbalanced with the scorching hot fire emitting from his arm. You kicked off the ground, sailing into the air as the frost and flames began to pursue you. The world spun around you as you twisted and twirled in midair like you were in a ballet, dancing elegantly, beautifully with the fire and ice surrounding you. Your eyes found an opening between the raging columns of elements, and you dived into it. You heard Cementoss shout something to Midnight, but you didn’t care. Completely caught up in the moment, all you cared about was giving Todoroki your all, about meeting his full strength with yours. As you rocketed into his direction, you poured every ounce of energy left in your body into your fist, and Todoroki seemed to think the same thing as blazing white hot flames surrounded his left hand. There was no stopping now. There was no turning back. Several walls of concrete erupted from the ground (courtesy of Cementoss), but they didn’t deter you or Todoroki at all. You both crashed through the cement walls as easily as if the cement were paper. In one moment, your hands met in the middle of the arena. In the next moment, the world exploded into a flashbang of colour and dust.

The ground shook with the force of an earthquake. Great winds burst from the point of impact. The audience members had to hang on to their seats to avoid getting blown away. Their screams were the perfect mixture of awe and fright. They all squinted their eyes, desperately trying to see through the dust cloud, desperately trying to see who won.

The dust cleared, and Shoto Todoroki stood on his feet, a few scratches here and there, the whole left side of his jacket destroyed, but otherwise unharmed. Meanwhile, his opponent lay motionless on the out of bounds line.

“[Last] is out of bounds! Todoroki advances to the final battle!” Midnight announced. “Now the tournament will temporarily be put on hold as we repair the stage… again.”

Todoroki stood quite still, his body frozen, his mind whirling at what just happened. As soon as he saw his opponent lying still on the ground, a wave of concern washed over him as he wondered if you were alright. That was then followed by confusion as he recalled that he was supposed to hate you since you were annoying. Nevertheless, relief washed over him as he saw the girl stir on the ground, then shakily get up. Your body trembled as you forced yourself onto your feet, with evident difficulty. You brushed your disheveled hair out of your face, and you tottered your way towards him, slowly and steadily. He didn’t know why he stood in place and patiently waited for you to come to him. Maybe he was simply curious as to what you would do. When you finally stood in front of him, you lifted your head and offered him a weak, but warm and beautiful smile. Huh? Beautiful? Where did that word come from?

“Thank you,” you said, your voice so quiet and weak that only he could hear. “Thank you for showing me your fire.” Right as you finished that sentence, your eyelids drooped over your weary eyes, and you fainted. Before he could think, he had caught you before you could hit the ground. He gently picked you up and lay you down on the stretcher when the medical robots came, and his eyes followed you as you were wheeled away.

***
You woke up in the clinic with Recovery Girl and your uncle peering over you.

“You woke up,” your uncle commented. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

You blinked the sleep out of your eyes. “How long was I out?”

“Oh, just a few minutes. Your injuries weren’t as bad as they looked, so you healed well,” said Recovery Girl. She peeled back her sleeve and checked her watch. “They should have finished rebuilding the stage by now. You’re free to leave whenever you want.”

“Thank you, Ms Recovery Girl,” you said gratefully. You slipped off the bed, and stood up, slipping on your boots along the way. You then turned to your uncle, and your eyebrows furrowed in guilt. You felt like you owed him an explanation. “Uncle, I really appreciate you coming all the way here to UA even though you’re injured. I’m sorry if my performance today did not meet your expectations. It’s just that Todoroki looked sad to me, and I wanted to help him.”

“[First] my dear,” he gently said, his weary dark eyes gazing into your own. He lifted his hand and ruffled your hair. “You were absolutely amazing and did the right thing. I couldn’t be more proud of you.” He then leaned down to your height and whispered to you with a grin on his face, “Don’t ask me how I know this, but a lot of pros today saw how powerful you are and are already thinking of nominating you, even though the tournament isn’t over.”

Your brow unfurrowed and you gave him a mischievous look. “Have you been eavesdropping on people, Uncle?” you accused.

“Maybe,” he answered. He stood up and patted you on the head again. “Now, the tournament isn’t over for you yet. You still have another match for third place. Also, your friends must be worried sick about you. You should go to them now.”

“Thanks Uncle,” you said as you stepped out of the clinic. Right away, you caught sight of Uraraka, Midoriya, and Iida waiting in the hallway. They began fussing over you like they did with Midoriya, with you telling them again and again that you’re fine and good as new.

After you made you way back to your seats, you caught no sight of Todoroki and you wondered where he had gone. The match between Bakugo and Tokoyami started on the newly repaired battlefield. Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow was completely overwhelmed by the light that came from Bakugo’s explosions, and Bakugo was quickly declared the winner who would advance to the final round against Todoroki. But before that, you would have to fight Tokoyami for third place.

Now, for the fourth time that day, you faced an opponent on the battlefield.

“This is the second last battle of the UA Sports Festival! Both competitors are now gonna fight for third place, a spot on the podium! From the hero course, Fumikage Tokoyami! VERSUS also from the hero course, [First] [Last]!” Present Mic screeched. “START!”

“Go, Dark Shadow!” Tokoyami shouted as the shadowy mass of darkness shot out of his stomach. You narrowed your eyes. You had absolutely exhausted yourself during your previous match with Todoroki, but you had rested and gained a bit of energy back now. Still, there was no room for error. You would have to rely primarily on your own body strength and wits. As Tokoyami fought his previous battles, you had been observing him and noticed that he was always one to attack straight away. He’s strong. Bakugo managed to beat him because of Dark Shadow’s weakness to light, but your quirk did not provide that same advantage as Bakugo’s. Tokoyami’s opponents before Bakugo had fallen, completely overwhelmed by the quick and powerful attacks, but you would not make the same mistakes as they did.

Dark Shadow rushed at you, aiming to push you out of bounds. You watched it approach, hands ready, eyes narrowed, anticipating the hit. Right as Dark Shadow was about to make contact with you, you sidestepped, just as Monoma did against Bakugo in the Cavalry Battle. Dark Shadow sailed past you. You wrapped your arms around the shadow, as if giving it a tight hug, and hauled it to the side with all your strength. Tokoyami blinked, temporarily stupefied at this unexpected exchange. His feet lifted from the ground as he was yanked, hooked by the link between him and Dark Shadow, and he hurled straight towards his opponent. You clenched your teeth, and quickly pressed your palm onto Tokoyami’s stomach. The vectors acted upon Tokoyami’s body and he was thrown out of bounds in the blink of an eye.

“Tokoyami is out of bounds!” Midnight yelled over the excited clamour from the crowd. “[Last] finishes third place in this year’s Sports Festival!”

You sighed a breath of relief that your strategy actually worked. You jogged over to your opponent, who had gotten up on his feet, and offered your hand to him. “Thank you for the match, Tokoyami,” you said.

He tookyouer hand, and a friendly handshake followed. “I was completely overwhelmed.”

“No, I was barely able to dodge your Dark Shadow,” you said as you both made you way back to the spectator stands. “I got lucky.”

You glanced around the seats, but you caught no sight of Iida. Uraraka and Midoriya were quick to fill you in. You were shocked to hear that Iida’s older brother was attacked by a villain. Iida had been terribly worried, so he left early to see his brother at the hospital. Uraraka, Midoriya, and you all hoped together that Ingenium would be alright, for Iida’s sake.

And so, it was time for the final match. The Finale for which everyone had been waiting. Even from this distance, you could see that Bakugo’s expression contained the perfect mixture between wrathful fury and hysterical enthusiasm. You then shifted your gaze to Todoroki. This was the first time you saw him after their match together, where his eyes burned with determination. Now, you noticed that fire of determination was gone. You frowned.

“It’s finally the last battle of the UA high school Sports Festival!” Present Mic boomed. “The top of the first years will be decided in this match! From the hero course, Shoto Todoroki! VERSUS also from the hero course, Katsuki Bakugo! Final match, START!”

Todoroki slammed his right hand onto the ground, and an enormous wall of ice shot forth, set to encase Bakugo. Although large, it was only half the size of the colossal ice prison he had used to trap you. In a burst of smoke and shattered frost, Bakugo burrowed his way out of the ice like a mole. He launched himself at Todoroki, gripped him by the hair, and flung him to the side. Ice flowed out, smooth as water, and caught Todoroki before he could fall out of bounds. Todoroki counterattacked, and his left hand wrapped around Bakugo’s forearm. This was it, the perfect opportunity to attack with fire, but there was no flicker of red, no spark of flame, and Todoroki simply flung Bakugo away from himself. Bakugo also sensed this, and was furious as he stood onto his feet again.

“Bastard! Use your flames on me too!” Bakugo bellowed. “I want an indisputable first place! I can’t get that if you hold back on me!”

He launched himself at Todoroki again, ominous smoke issuing from his palms. Todoroki stood, and you noticed his eyes were clouded. Confused. Unsure.

“Todoroki!” you heard Midoriya shout from beside you. “Don’t lose! Do your best!” You saw Todoroki blink, and a bit of the mist behind his eyes lifted. Midoriya certainly had an effect on Todoroki, but it was too meek, not powerful enough. You then decided to join in too.

“Don’t you give up now, damn you!” you screamed, which certainly got his attention. You stood on your feet, your hands clutching the railing, and yelled at the top of your lungs, “Use your own power for yourself and fight without limit!”

Your words echoed in his ears, and rang inside his mind like during their battle before. In his storm of confusion, your voice guided him like a warm light in the heavy fog, a warm light that lit a fire inside of him. The frost that fell onto his body melted, and momentarily he felt like he could do anything. Those scorching tongues of flame from before made their appearance again, making the stadium glow a bright orange.

“Yes! That’s it!” Bakugo yelled, his voice full of exhilaration. Propelled by his explosions, he rotated in the air, smoke surrounding him in a protective cocoon. He shot himself like a harpoon at Todoroki, who raised his flame covered arm to counter.

Then, Todoroki stiffened. Images raced themselves in his mind, memories he could not forget. He remembered his mother, who was always crying. His mother, whose eyes displayed her tortured soul before she snapped. His mother, whose suffering was burned on his face, his scar a permanent reminder of the pain she endured.

Confusion. Grief. Doubt. Cruelty. The fog once again clouded his eyes, and smothered the tiny fire inside of him. The flames on his left arm disappeared, as the frozen barrier rose around him again, swallowing him, burying him.

The arena lit up in a huge explosion of smoke and ice particles. Unconscious and out of bounds, Todoroki lay on a bed of his broken ice. To say Bakugo was furious would be an understatement. He raced out of bounds as well, gripped Todoroki’s uniform jacket, and started shaking him. Midnight had to use her quirk to put Bakugo to sleep.

“Todoroki is out of bounds!” she said. “Bakugo wins the UA Sports Festival!”

Eyelids lowered, a slight frown on your face, you watched as both contestants were wheeled away by the medical robots.

***
When Shoto Todoroki opened his eyes, he expected to be alone. He expected to see the walls of a clinic room, the white curtains surrounding the clinic bed. He knew what happened. He knew he lost.

When Shoto Todoroki opened his eyes, the expected scene of the clinic appeared in front of him. The white curtains swayed a bit in the breeze from the open window.

“You’re awake,” a gentle voice, the voice of a certain problem girl called out from beside him.

Well, that was unexpected. He instantly sat up and rapidly blinked his eyes to make sure he was actually awake.

“Did you get something in your eye? You look weird,” you said as you gave him a curious expression. “The teachers sent me to get you. We’ll be getting our medals soon. Can you walk?”

“Yeah,” he replied. He swung his legs off the bed, dragged on his boots, and stood up.

“Good. Now follow me,” you said as you exited the clinic room. He followed you as you led the way down the empty hallway, which was quiet except for your footsteps and the sound from the thoughts and questions swirling inside his mind.

“Why?” he asked after a few seconds.

“Why what?” you asked, though he had a feeling that you knew exactly what he meant.

“Why did you keep trying to approach me? Even after I ignored you for weeks. Why did you help me?” he asked the question that had been burning in his mind. The seconds ticked by, the footsteps resounded down the flight of stairs, and it was apparent that a silence had fallen. To be honest, he didn’t really expect you to answer. He half expected you to ignore him like he had been doing to you. Once again, you surprised him.

“The look in your eyes,” you said after that long pause.

“My eyes?”

“Because you looked so hurt and alone that you couldn’t stand it, but didn’t want anyone to know,” you responded, your gaze focused ahead, not meeting his. “Those eyes, that look reminded me of my own.”

Todoroki was stunned. Then, a strange feeling bubbled in his chest and squeezed around his heart. A feeling that he had not felt for years since his father had done his best to erase that feeling. Shoto Todoroki felt compassion for the girl beside him. “[Last], I-”

“We’re here,” you announced. He looked around, and was surprised that you two had already arrived. The podium was in the middle of this basement room, ready at any second to be raised onto the green field above. Strangely, Bakugo was strapped and tied down on the centre of the podium. He even had a muzzle on him. As soon he saw Todoroki, he started letting out muffled screams and shouts that Todoroki presumed to be quite colourful curses and swears.

“Alright [Last] and Todoroki, take your places,” Cementoss told the newly arrived pair. You stepped onto the platform at Bakugo’s left, while Todoroki stepped onto the platform at Bakugo’s right. The podium raised like an elevator, and you three ascended into the stadium above. At once, your eyes met with warm sunlight and the flashes of dozens of cameras. Fireworks bloomed like flowers across the blue sky in bursts of colour and sound.

All Might himself appeared and presented the medals to you three. To each of you, he offered his fatherly advice as he hung the medals around your necks. Then, the paparazzi filled in, trying to get as many pictures as possible. Amidst all the noise, camera flashes, bursts of colour, Todoroki looked to his left. He looked, beyond Bakugo struggling to get at him, and his gaze fell onto that girl. That girl you who had so stubbornly pestered him before, who had fought him with all your might, whose voice reached him and woke him up from his silent suffering. He felt his heartbeat accelerate, which was strange. He didn’t understand. Why was his heart beating so hard when he wasn’t currently exercising or fighting someone?

After a few seconds, you noticed his eyes on you, and you met his gaze with your own warm one as your cheeks pulled up. You smiled at him. A warm smile that once again lit a fire inside of him, and he felt his whole body fill with warmth.

***
The sun shined over the playground, soaking the grounds with warmth. Children were laughing, swaying on the swings, drifting down the slides, but one child was alone. The shade from the tree cast a shadow over his unusual head of half red and half white. This child cried alone, kneeling on the ground, tears sliding down his cheeks from his mismatched grey and aqua eyes.

“Hey, why are you crying?” he heard a light voice ask from above him. He looked up to see a little girl about his age. She was peering over him, head tilted to the side, her bright eyes curious. The sun shined down upon her, giving him the impression that she was glowing. She looked like an angel. She was beautiful. His eyes lay on her, and in that instant, he forgot what he was crying about.

“Are your friends not here?” she asked in the same light and sweet tone.

“My father doesn’t allow me to have friends,” he replied in a small voice.

“Well, that’s not nice of him. Everyone needs friends or else you’ll be lonely,” she said, eyebrows furrowed. Then, her bright [E colour] eyes lit up, as if a lightbulb had been turned on inside her mind. “I know! You can be friends with me!”

Fear of his father made him hesitate. “N-No I don’t think I should...” he began, but his words died on his lips when she held her tiny hand out to him.

“Come on! I’ll take you to meet my friends too and we’ll all be friends!”

He took her outstretched hand, and she pulled him up. Her skin was soft, and his frigid palm surrendered to the warmth of her fingers.

“Come on!” she said as she started to lead him by the hand. “Izuku and Ochako and Tenya are in the sandbox and we’re gonna build the biggest sand castle ever!”

“I really shouldn’t,” he tried again. “Father says I’m supposed to concentrate on training. He wants me to learn how to use my ice quirk to make a barrier around myself now.”

He expected her to frown, but her smile only widened as her warm fingers pulled on his again. Her beautiful smile seemed infectious, and soon the little boy found a shy grin on himself. It only grew bigger as he heard her bright and sweet voice again.

“Then I’ll be the warmth that will break through your ice barrier until I reach you.”

Chapter Text

After the Sports Festival, all students were given two days of rest. You slept for most of those two days due to the absolute exhaustion from your quirk, so it was no surprise that those two days went by in the blink of an eye. During the moments when you were awake, you couldn’t help but worry about Iida’s older brother. Unfortunately, Iida had not contacted you, Midoriya, or Uraraka. You received no news.

On your way to UA, several people recognized you from the Sports Festival and waved at you. Several people came up to you and excitedly said “Hi!” and congratulated you. Heck, a group of middle school boys asked for your autograph! A high school student and an elementary school student were especially thrilled to see you.

“Hey Big Sister, that’s [First] [Last], isn’t it?” As soon as the little girl caught sight of you, she pulled on her older sister’s sleeve and led her over to you.

“Excuse me, you’re [First] [Last], right?” she asked, her voice bouncy and full of enthusiasm.

“Yeah,” you replied. The girl squealed, and her eyes sparkled.

“You were amazing at the Sports Festival!” the little girl gushed, beside herself with excitement. “You took down those two huge robots by yourself, and you pulled your team through the Cavalry Battle, and you were super amazing in the battles!” she paused here to take a deep breath, then continued. “My heart was pumping super hard during your fight with the second place winner, To- Todo- um...”

“Todoroki,” her older sister whispered to her. “Geez, how can you forget?”

“Because his name’s long!” The little girl pouted. She then returned her attention to you. “You were so beautiful when you fought! It was like you were dancing!”

“Thank you,” you said, smiling. How can you not smile from this cuteness?

“You know,” the girl continued, “I ship you with Todoroki.”

“W-What?!” you immediately choked on your own spit. You felt your cheeks flare up bright red. K, you took that back. The girl was not cute. Not cute at all.

“Yeah! The way he carried you after your match together! He did it so gently! So romantically!” the girl said, swooning. “It was like he was your prince and you were his princess!”

You had no memory of that happening. Well, you had no memories from that time you had been unconscious. Did that really happen? You were so shocked that words wouldn’t come to you. A great unpleasant heat crept up your body. Was it possible for a whole body to blush red? If the girl continued talking anymore, you thought dryly, then it soon would be.

The girl opened her mouth to speak again, but her older sister put a hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, you shouldn’t be bothering Miss [First] like this,” she said to her younger sibling, “You’re probably creeping her out with all that. You seem like a fanatic. It’s weird.”

The girl immediately looked over her shoulder and glared at the high school student. “You’re calling me a fanatic?” she challenged. “You rewatched Todoroki’s battles over and over! I caught you pausing it just to stare at his face!” Immediately, the older sister’s face resembled a tomato. Her eyes widened in shock at the betrayal.

“No I wasn’t!” she denied, shaking her head rapidly from side to side. “Really! I wasn’t!”

“Oh really? Because I also found a printed out screenshot of him under your pillow!” the little girl said with no chill. The high school student was flabbergasted.

“I should get going or else I’ll be late to school,” you excused yourself. You turned on your heel and walked briskly away, palms covering your burning cheeks. Well, this morning certainly was weird. You’ll certainly have to do some questioning when you see your friends.

As soon as you slipped into your seat in Class 1A, you leaned to your right, and started questioning. Your other classmates were happily discussing the Sports Festival among themselves, so the chance of anyone else overhearing you was small. “Hey Uraraka.”

“Yeah?” Uraraka flashed her usual Uraraka-smile at you. You took a deep breath, preparing yourself for the truth.

“Did anything, uh, weird happen at the Sports Festival?”

“Weird? What do you mean?” Uraraka asked.

“Uh, you know...” you leaned in more and dropped your voice to a whisper. Your eyes gazed intently into Uraraka’s curious brown ones. Your cheeks burned. “Some elementary school kid told me Todoroki c-” you took another deep breath, trying to control the heat rushing to your cheeks. “C-Caught me after I passed out?”

You had hoped for Uraraka to shake her head no. You had wished for Uraraka to say, with confidence, a resounding no. So when Uraraka’s eyes lit up and she nodded excitedly, you groaned and buried your flaming face in your arms on your desk.

“Morning,” came the voice of your teacher, who had recovered enough to remove his bandages. Right away, all the students sat straight into their seats. Aizawa took his place behind the podium in front of the room. “During the Sports Festival, many pro heroes took the chance to scout for possible nominations. I’ve compiled the totals for those with nominations.”

He pressed a button on a remote. With a beep, three long horizontal hologram bars appeared on the board, with three names beside them. First Todoroki, second Bakugo, and then [Last]. Next, several significantly smaller bars appeared beneath, each with the name of a lucky student beside them. Some bars were so small that they resembled simply a smudge on the board. It was noticeable that not all of the students received nominations.

“In other years, it’s been more spread out,” Aizawa continued. “But this year, all focus was on these three.”

“Man, the difference is huge!” Kaminari groaned, slumping into his chair as if all the life had gone out of him.

“Wait, first is Todoroki, and second is Bakugo?” Jiro asked.

“It’s opposite of their placement in the Sports Festival,” Kirishima pointed out.

“Some people are too scared to ask for a guy who had to be restrained on the podium,” Sero explained. This caught the ear of a certain explosion boy, who whipped around.

“What are the pros scared of?!” Bakugo yelled, half out of his seat.

“You’re amazing, Todoroki,” Yaoyorozu complimented.

“They’re probably all because of my dad,” he said, brushing off the compliment. Just hearing his voice made you embarrassed. You still couldn’t get it through your head that Todoroki, the guy who had been ignoring you for weeks, freaking carried you.

“[First],” Uraraka said from beside you, breaking you out of your thoughts. “You did so well!”

“You too, Uraraka,” you said. “See? I told you a lot of pros saw you fight bravely.”

Excited tears welled up in Uraraka’s eyes and she nodded before turning to Iida in front of her. “Iida, we got offers!” She grabbed onto his shoulders and began shaking him.

“Yes, yes,” Iida said, and you noticed that he did not look up.

“Midoriya, you didn’t get any!” Mineta tugged on Midoriya’s sleeve. “They’re scared of you because of the crazy way you were fighting!”

“Yeah,” Midoriya agreed glumly.

“Those with nominations will pick an agency from their list,” Aizawa announced to the class. “Those who didn’t get nominations will still participate in this ‘workplace experience’. You’ll pick from a list containing forty hero agencies across the country. Now, our regular biology class will be put on hold as I’ll have you guys pick your hero names.”

A delighted murmur swept through the class.

“Of course placeholder names are fine too, but make sure you pick something appropriate...”

“... Or else there will be hell to pay!” The classroom door slid open and Midnight stepped into the room. “In many cases, the names you pick now will stay that way after becoming pros!”

“I’ll be having Ms Midnight evaluate your naming sense,” Aizawa explained. “The way your futures end up will approach the image projected by the names you choose. Choose wisely.”

Blank canvases were passed down the rows of desks, along with big fat markers. You internally groaned when you got yours. You pursed your lips, thinking hard, but your mind remained empty. Your mind was always absolutely blank when it came to these things. You started to panic a bit when you heard the scratching of everyone else’s markers against their canvases. This was the situation with your costume all over again! Even fifteen minutes later, your canvas remained blank.

“Alright everyone, markers down!” Midnight called out. “Who wants to go first?”

You quickly scribbled something down on your blank canvas. You sighed and raised your hand. Might as well get this over with as soon as possible. Midnight smiled and beckoned you to come up.

“Sorry guys,” you said as you displayed your canvas for the whole class to see. “I’m just gonna stick with my name, [First].”

Midnight blinked. “Really? Just your name?”

“Yeah, I’m not really good at coming up with things like this,” you answered. You could feel all the eyes of the classroom stare at you. They all probably expected something better from you, and were now disappointed with the result. You felt your cheeks get warm.

“Alright, that’s fine.” Thankfully, Midnight took pity on her and spared you. “By the way, after we all pick our hero names, we’ll be starting a new unit in biology, but I forgot to bring the new textbooks with me.” Midnight then turned to look at you hopefully. “[Last], would you be a dear and grab those textbooks from the storage room for me please?”

“Yes,” you quickly and gratefully agreed. Anything to escape from the 20 pairs of eyes on you right now. You slid open the door and started down the hall towards the storage room.

“They’re on the top shelf! You can’t miss them!” Midnight called after you.

As you walked, you felt the air pleasantly cool your heated cheeks. Your cheeks seemed to warm up a lot today. Really, you could fight a group of villains by yourself, no problem, but once you have to create something, your brain turns to jelly and you start getting awkward! How embarrassing to mess up in front of the whole class, you fumed.

You found the storage room with no problem. You had found the top shelf with no problem. A problem rose when you saw how tall exactly the shelf was. You wouldn’t even try to stand on your tippy toes. That would just waste time. You looked around the storage room, trying to find something to stand on. Your eyes landed on a wooden crate nearby. However, even when you stood on that crate, even when you stretched and stood on your tippy toes, your fingers were hopelessly out of reach of the textbooks.

“Damn,” you growled, stepping off. You searched around the room once again, combing through the boxes and crates, and triumphantly found the corner of a ladder sticking out behind a shelf. Wrenching the ladder out, you inspected it. The metal itself looked quite sturdy, but the bolts holding the steps together creaked unpleasantly. Well, what other choice did you have? You’d have to be quick and careful when using this ladder. You leaned it against the shelf with the textbooks on top, and carefully put your foot onto the bottom step, testing it with your weight. After you deemed it passable, you stepped onto the next step and climbed until your hands were within reach of the textbooks. Finally.

“There you are,” you heard Todoroki’s voice call out, snapping you out of your thoughts. At that moment, the ladder step supporting your weight decided to break and you tumbled towards the ground. Before you could use your quirk to soften your landing, you felt strong and firm arms circle behind your knees and wrap around your shoulders, safely catching you. You looked up and found those beautiful grey and aqua eyes staring into your bright pair, with less than five centimetres between the two. You were so close that you could count the number of his eyelashes. The little girl’s words this morning echoed in your mind: It was like he was your prince and you were his princess!

For the uptenth time that day, your cheeks exploded in colour. You turned your face away from him so quickly that you were close to getting whiplash. You wiggled a bit, trying to silently tell him to let go, but he didn’t seem to get the message. His grip on you only tightened. You could feel the warmth radiating from his body.

“Todoroki.” Your voice was not above a whisper. “Please put me down.”

“Why?” he asked, his voice right beside your ear. You could feel his cool breath crawl down your neck, leaving goosebumps in its trail. “You might fall again.”

Your eye started to twitch. “Seriously Todoroki, let me go.” This time, you stuck your elbow out and pushed your way out of his arms. “What are you doing here anyway?” you demanded after your feet landed on the ground, a faint blush on your cheeks.

His expression remained without emotion, as if their contact didn’t affect him at all. “I was sent to help you carry the textbooks. Midnight thought you were taking too long.” Once again, the height problem was brought to your attention.

“Well, the textbooks are on the top shelf, and I can’t reach the top shelf. I found a ladder but it broke,” you said. Then, an idea appeared in your mind. “Todoroki, can you reach the top shelf?”

His cool eyes inspected the shelf. “Nope,” he said instantly.

“I thought so,” you said glumly. You picked up the broken ladder pieces, inspecting them. “Should I use my quirk to boost me up?”

“I wouldn’t risk it. It’ll be troublesome if someone catches us using our quirks without permission,” he said. Then, the next words out of his mouth came completely unexpectedly. “I’ll have to carry you.”

You dropped the ladder pieces in shock and a loud clang resounded as they hit the floor. “Wh-What?” you asked. You hoped you heard him wrong.

“Actually, no. That wouldn’t be enough to reach either,” he thought out loud. You were about to let out an exhale of relief before, “You’ll have to sit on my shoulders.”

Your poor cheeks bypassed pink and went straight to crimson. “You can’t be serious,” you said, with a pleading note in your voice.

“How else are we supposed to reach the textbooks? Everyone in class is waiting,” he reasoned with you. He had a point. A really good point, you thought wryly.

“Alright, we’ll do this quickly. But if you look up my skirt, then you die,” you stated, glaring at him, silently daring him to try anything funny. His expression remained impassive.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not a pervert,” he said. He positioned himself facing the shelf, then kneeled down, signalling for you to get on. You gripped his shoulders and climbed on, resting your thighs on his shoulders, the hem of your skirt brushing against the back of his neck. Then, his hands rested on your thighs, holding you steady as he stood up and hoisted you into the air. You were so embarrassed that you were internally screaming, but you reminded yourself that it was for the greater good. Your hands shakily reached out and gripped the stack of textbooks, and almost promptly dropped them onto Todoroki’s head when you felt his hands tighten around your bare thighs.

“Todoroki!” you gasped out. “Don’t do that!”

“But you might fall,” he simply responded.

“I’ve got the textbooks. Please, just let me down now,” you pleaded with him, desperate to end your embarrassment. Todoroki crouched down again and you all but leapt off, close to shaking from the awkwardness. He stood up and took three quarters of the pile from you. When you tried to object, he just said to not worry about it, and that he could carry them, no problem.

“You looked quite embarrassed when you presented your hero name,” he said as the two of you began your journey down the hallway.

“I guess it showed on my face, didn’t it?” you asked.

“Yeah, but using just your name isn’t bad,” he stated, and you could tell that he was trying to comfort you. You really appreciated what he was trying to do.

“Thanks Todoroki, but I’m honestly just really bad at these things,” you admitted, gaze lowered to the floor in front of you. You could feel a bit of shame bubble up within you. “Everyone else was probably expecting something super good from me, but I guess what I came up with simply disappointed them.”

“You know, I used my name too,” Todoroki said. “My hero name is Shoto.”

You blinked, surprised that the always excellent Todoroki was just as bad at this as you were. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah, and Iida used his name too. Really, nobody’s disappointed or anything. You shouldn’t worry about it.” The words out of his mouth were like magic. It was like a calmness swept through your entire body, soothing you and erasing your worries.

“Thanks Todoroki,” you said in a much brighter tone than before. And maybe you imagined it, but you thought you caught the corner of his mouth lift up in a tiny smile.

***
“Alright, before you all leave, remember to pick the hero agency for your workplace experience,” Aizawa said after the end of school bell rang. “Your workplace experience will be one week long. Write down your top three choices and turn in the papers tomorrow.”

Earlier in the day, most of the class only received a few papers or a single sheet, and now they were excitedly chatting among themselves about which one they chose. Meanwhile, Todoroki, Bakugo, and you were handed stacks of pages. Although you were grateful for these many offers, having to comb through all these papers did not excite you. Your eyes swept across the front page as you packed up your pencil case. Uwabami Hero Office… If you weren’t mistaken, Uwabami was the popular TV star hero who had snakes coming out of her head. Hosu City Normal Hero Office… Hosu? That sounded kind of familiar. Edgeshot Hero Office… you smiled in recognition. You had worked briefly underneath him before starting high school. In fact, Edgeshot was one of the pro heros who recommended for you to go to UA. You continued looking through the hero agencies. Your eyebrows raised in surprise when you caught sight of the next name. Endeavor Hero Office. Your previous encounter with the flame hero had been… unpleasant in a nutshell. You wondered why he would nominate you. Did he get hit on the head before he wrote his nominations?

“Did my old man nominate you too?” Todoroki asked, standing beside you with his bag already over his shoulder.

“Yeah.” You turned to face him. “How did you know?”

“He mentioned it once or twice at home,” Todoroki said. Your eyebrows raised.

“This doesn’t make sense. When I met him at the Sports Festival, I said some, uh, rude things to him, so I kind of don’t want to face him,” you admitted, and you caught the faintest smile spread Todoroki’s lips for a second.

“Well, he said he was impressed with how you fought in the one-on-one battles and wanted to work with you,” Todoroki explained. Then, a mischievous glint appeared in his eyes. “Out of curiosity, what exactly did you say?”

“Well, I said he disgusted me. I told him that he was nothing but a selfish little man who needed to get his head out of his butt,” you said, smiling. Todoroki’s eyebrows raised and he gave a little cough that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.

“Well, that’s certainly one way to put it,” Todoroki said, his expression returning to the usual serious one. “He nominated me too, and although he’s a piece of crap, he’s still the No 2 hero. I need to experience for myself what exactly a pro hero is.”

“So you’re going to his hero agency?”

“Yeah,” Todoroki said, and his voice lowered so that only you could hear. He took a deep breath. “Look, [Last], there’s something I need to tell you,” he said, gaining your full attention. His eyes stared intently into your own. “I’m sorry for how I treated you before and during the Sports Festival.”

You blinked. “No, don’t worry about that,” you said genuinely, waving your hand as if sending the apology away. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Todoroki nodded, and his demeanor changed as if a weight had been lifted from his chest. He continued, “I visited my mom after the Sports Festival.” You blinked in surprise.

“Todoroki, that was very brave of you,” you murmured, in full understanding of how much courage it must have taken to face his mother, whose suffering he blamed on himself.

“She told me that she’d be saved if I pushed forward without anything holding me back,” he said, his tone unwavering. “So I’m going to choose Endeavor’s hero agency.”

You nodded. “Well, I guess facing him wouldn’t be too bad if I had a classmate by my side,” you thought out loud. “I think I’ll choose his hero agency too.”

“Yeah, I’d like that,” Todoroki said in a softer than usual tone.

“Hey [First], let’s walk home together,” Uraraka called, suddenly appearing at your side. She paused when she saw Todoroki, then a shrewd smile appeared on her face. “Am I interrupting something?”

“No you aren’t,” you shot Uraraka down. You swung your bag onto your shoulder. “Alright, see you tomorrow Todoroki,” you said as you waved goodbye and walked out the classroom and into the hallway with Uraraka.

“So, what were you guys talking about?” Uraraka asked, giving you a falsely innocent look.

“Nothing interesting,” you said firmly. “Just about hero agencies and stuff.”

“And stuff?” Uraraka questioned, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Dammit Uraraka, I told you so many times already, I don’t like him like that!” you exclaimed, exasperated.

“Hmph, if you say so,” Uraraka said, a bit disappointed. “Well, speaking of hero agencies, I’m going to choose Battle Hero Gunhead’s office because I want to get stronger!”

“That’s really good, Uraraka,” you said. “What about Iida and Midoriya?” You glanced around, but spotted no messy head of green or neat head of blue. “And where are they anyway? We usually all walk home together.”

“Mr All Might called Deku into his office because Deku received a nomination!” Uraraka said happily as they walked out of the school into the street. She then put a finger on her chin.“But I don’t know where Iida went. He went to submit his hero agency choice as soon as the bell rang and he didn’t come back.”

“That’s strange. Iida wasn’t acting like himself today.” You were starting to grow suspicious. Iida didn’t even talk to you that day. “Do you know where Iida’s going for his workplace experience?”

“I kind of looked over his shoulder when he was writing,” Uraraka said, a bit embarrassed. “I saw he wrote only one choice, instead of his top three choices like Mr Aizawa said to. He wants to go to the Hosu City Hero Office.” There it was again. Hosu city. Where had you heard that word before?

“Ok, I’m headed to the train station now,” Uraraka said as she waved goodbye. “See you tomorrow [First]!”

“See you, Uraraka,” you replied, but the word “Hosu” kept floating around in your mind. As soon as you got home, you plopped down in front of your computer and decided to do some research. A quick google search told you all the answers you needed. Pro Hero Ingenium Injured and Unable to Continue… Ingenium Cut down by Hero Killer Stain… Hero Killer Has Killed 17 Heroes and Injured 23... Hero Killer Last Spotted in Hosu City… A large weight seemed to drop down your throat and into your stomach as all the dots connected in your head. A small voice at the back of your mind was telling you that Iida was going to do something stupid, so you should be there to keep an eye on him.

You thought about calling Uraraka and Midoriya to let them know, but thought better of it. This news would just make them worry unnecessarily when they’re at their own internships. Besides, you yourself were not absolutely certain that the usually calm and proper Iida would do something so reckless. You’d best keep this to yourself in case you were wrong. Nevertheless, you should be there to watch over him. You grabbed your workplace experience choice paper and promptly wrote “Hosu City Normal Hero Office” onto it.

You picked up your phone and texted the group chat with the four of you, and told the others that you chose Hosu city as your workplace experience. Midoriya and Uraraka both excitedly told you “That’s great!” and “Yay [First]!”. Iida saw the message, but didn’t respond. This action raised another red flag in your mind, since the always proper Iida usually replies to his messages right away.

And now… to tell Todoroki that you changed your mind. You held up your phone, and dialed his number (all your classmates exchanged phone numbers at the beginning of the school year) for the first time. You pressed the phone to your ear, biting your lip a bit.

“Hello?” Todoroki’s voice answered after the second ring.

“Hi Todoroki, this is [Last],” you said, nervously preparing your next words. “Sorry, but I changed my mind. I’m not going to Endeavor for my workplace experience.”

“Oh,” you heard him say, and you caught a hint of disappointment in his tone. Guilt started to seep through you.

“Something came up and I’m going to Hosu City instead,” you tried to explain without letting out too much. “I’m really sorry.”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” he said, but the bit of disappointment was still there in his voice, no matter how much he tried to hide it. Then came a pause as you both didn’t know what to say next. Both seemed to wait for the other to say something. The pause continued for so long that you wondered if he was still on the line.

“Uh,” you began, breaking the silence.

“Yeah,” his voice came.

“Uh, bye.” You promptly hung up, threw yourself onto your bed, and buried your face into your pillow, shaking your head at how awkward that conversation went.

Soon enough, the day came for Class 1A to begin their workplace experiences. Aizawa saw them off as the students each took their trains to their destinations, carrying their hero costumes with them. You and Iida sat beside each other on the train, but Iida remained quiet throughout the whole ride and stared out the window at the moving scenery. Whenever you would try to make small talk or any other sort of conversation, Iida would simply give a one word answer and return to staring out the window. You were reminded of when you tried to interact with Todoroki before the Sports Festival. Speaking of Todoroki, you still felt horrible about having to cancel on him like that.

The two of you arrived at your destination soon. Your supervisor, the Normal Hero Manual, was there to greet you two and he took you up to his office. After you two changed into your costumes, Manual happily showed you around Hosu city. Everything was peaceful around town, but you couldn’t shake away the feeling that something horrible was going to happen soon.

***
Currently, Tomura Shigaraki was in a tight spot. He was pinned down by blades, and one was stuck painfully in his shoulder, while the Hero Killer Stain hulked over him. How did it end up like this? Shigaraki simply wanted to recruit Stain into the League of Villains so that they can kill All Might, but then Stain started to talk about all this ideology crap and started to get violent.

“In order to accomplish anything, you need a creed and a mind,” Stain growled from above him, digging the blade deeper into Shigaraki’s shoulder. “You lack both, and can’t accomplish anything. This is why you will die.”

“Ow, you’re too strong, dammit.” Shigaraki had enough of this. This Hero Killer was clearly too crazy to join them. “Kurogiri, send him back!”

“My body won’t move,” the misty warp portal said from beside him. “This must be the Hero Killer’s quirk.”

“The word ‘Hero’ has lost all meaning in this society overrun by fakes,” Stain continued casually, as if he were talking about the weather. “Even villains who are just aimlessly scattering around will become my targets.” Stain wiggled out the blade embedded in Shigaraki’s shoulder, lifted it to his mouth, and licked the blood coating it. Right away, it was as if Shigaraki’s whole body filled with lead that weighed him down. He couldn’t move at all.

“Hey, what did you just do?” Shigaraki asked, a hint of panic in his voice.

“This is why you will die,” Stain coldly repeated. He lifted his blade, which glistened eerily in the light from the ceiling.

“Stop,” a new voice said. All eyes in that room fell on the newcomer standing beneath the arch of the doorway. The man appeared to be in his late thirties or early forties. He was well dressed in a pristine black suit, and his hair was neatly slicked back, giving off the impression that he was a successful and professional businessman. However, one look into his eyes and it would become clear that he was no businessman. His irises were dark, resembling never ending black holes that would suck up all light in a single second.

Kurogiri gave a gasp of recognition. “Lieutenant!” he called out in relief. They were saved.

Stain glared at him suspiciously. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded, the bloody blade still glistening in his grip.

The Lieutenant simply ignored Stain's question. “Put your blade away. It’s not very nice to try to kill someone who wants to be partners with you,” he said coldly, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“Do you want me to kill you too? I’ll be more than happy to end anyone who gets in my way.” Stain stated calmly. “Let me just finish up this one first.” He tightened his grip on the bloody blade and sank it down, aiming for Shigaraki’s throat.

In the blink of an eye, Stain’s blade was knocked out of his hand and it landed with a clatter onto the floor. In the fraction of a second, Stain himself was thrown across the room. The back of his head collided harshly with the wall, and his vision exploded with stars. Stain quickly blinked away the dizziness, and found the Lieutenant helping Shigaraki sit up on the floor. Stain unsheathed his small dagger and hurled it at the Lieutenant. As soon as the blade made contact with the target’s forehead, it bounced back harmlessly, as if its force and momentum were completely reversed.

“What the hell?” Stain demanded.

“Didn’t I tell you to put away your blade? We just want to talk,” the Lieutenant calmly said, his intense dark eyes staring deeply into Stain’s. When Stain made no more move to fight, the Lieutenant continued. “It seems like you and Shigaraki got off on the wrong foot, so let’s try this again. We’re the League of Villains. If you’ll just hear us out, you’ll find out that we’re not that different from you.”

These words made Stain raise his eyebrows. “What exactly is your goal?”

“It’s All Might,” Shigaraki said, smiling from his spot on the floor. “We want to crush the society where that trash is set up so high and mighty.”

Crush the society. Those words pulled Stain’s mouth into a wicked grin. “I guess we do have something in common after all.”

The Lieutenant nodded. “I’m glad you’ll join us.”

“Yes, that order of business is settled,” Stain agreed. Then he turned to Kurogiri. “Now warp me back to Hosu. There’s still something left for me to do there.”

In a swirl of black mist, Stain had gone, teleported to a place far away.

“Thanks Lieutenant Calamity,” Kurogiri said gratefully. “We don’t know what would have happened without you.”

“It’s fine. Now, I came here because you had something to tell me?”

“Yes, we found someone interesting,” said Shigaraki as he got up, having regained control of his body. He plopped down on a chair as the Lieutenant did the same. “When we attacked UA a few weeks ago, there was a girl who was able to completely nullify one of Nomu’s punches and send him flying. At that point, she gained our interest. Then, we saw her on TV during the UA Sports Festival. As we watched her fight, we couldn’t help but notice that her quirk is awfully similar to yours.”

“Lieutenant Calamity, we believe we have found your daughter,” Kurogiri concluded.

“Interesting indeed,” the Lieutenant commented.

Chapter Text

Three days passed rapidly after you started your workplace experiences and Manual took the two of you to patrol the streets. The first day passed peacefully, and quite a few people recognized you and Iida from the Sports Festival and said “Hi!”. On the second day of patrols, after lunch you had received a call that a drug trade just got busted and the lead dealer was currently on the run. You caught a glint in Iida’s eye when Manual’s phone rang, but then it disappeared when Manual told them it was a just a drug dealer.

“[First] and Tenya, follow me! We’re going to chase after that dealer!” Manual ordered you, and you both responded with a prompt “Yes!”.

“Iida.” You got his attention as you both followed Manual in hopes to catch the dealer. “You were hoping that was the Hero Killer, weren’t you?”

He didn’t reply. Although you couldn’t see his eyes through the helmet of his costume, you knew that he was glaring straight ahead as Manual led you through the streets. Ugh, you internally groaned, this really was like trying to talk to Todoroki before.

“Iida, just remember that we’re your friends,” you said. “We care about you and don’t want you to do anything stupid.”

“Alright,” he replied, his answer surprising you a bit. But before either of you could say anything else, you heard the squeal of a tire as a car screeched onto the road in front of you, rapidly accelerating towards you.

“That’s the car!” Manual yelled. “[First], you can stop it using your quirk, right?”

“Yes!” you responded.

“Alright [First], you’ll stop the car while Tenya and I wait to catch the dealer if she tries to escape!” Manual ordered. He and Iida quickly stepped to the side while you stood in the middle of the road.

You gathered your thoughts, gaze focused solely on the car, now approaching you at full speed ahead. You breathed out, revved your arm back, and crushed your fist straight through the front of the vehicle, stopping it right in its tracks. Steam from the ruined engine rose. Then, something slithered out of the open car window with disturbing agility. The dealer, whose appearance resembled that of a large and green garden snake, made a run for it, abandoning her car and drug stash in the trunk.

“Tenya! Don’t let her get away!” you heard Manual yell through the steam. You heard Iida’s engines whirl to life as he sprung into action. As you stepped out of the haze of steam, you caught Iida rugby tackling the dealer to the ground, holding her steady as Manual caught up and handcuffed her. Soon enough, the police arrived and took her away.

“Good job, [First] and Tenya. You guys did really well,” Manual congratulated, a content smile on his face. And that was the highlight of the second day.

Not much happened during your patrol on the third day either. From morning until evening, you and Iida continued to follow Manual as the three of you leisurely walked around the area. Right as the sun was about to set, Manual told you that your patrol shift was over and that you would be returning to the hero office now. You slipped your phone out of the small pouch strapped to your thigh (the support team really did a spectacular job when they made your costume), and noticed that you had received two texts. One was from Midoriya. The other one was from Todoroki.

You opened Midoriya’s first. I’m passing by Hosu right now! How are things over there?

You tapped out a response that it was quite peaceful today and that nothing much happened and hit the send button. Now for Todoroki’s message. You hesitated before opening it. The awkwardness of your last conversation still plagued your mind and you hoped he wasn’t upset with you or anything. You held your breath a bit as your thumb pressed on his message and it opened.

[Last], my old man decided to take me to Hosu and we’ll be staying here for a few days. When does your shift end?

You exhaled in relief that he wasn’t still upset that you’d cancelled on him. You tapped back a reply. My shift just ended a minute ago. Why do you ask?

Manual’s office building came into view as the three of you continued down the streets, but it would still take around ten minutes before you arrive. A few seconds after you sent your reply, Todoroki’s came. Do you want to get coffee or something?

You furrowed your eyebrows in confusion. How strange. Why would Todoroki want you to drink coffee now? If I drink coffee now, I won’t be able to sleep.

Once again, his reply came right away. Do you want to get tea, then? Together?

Oh, he meant together. You felt a bit bad, thinking that he probably still feels guilty for giving you the silent treatment before and felt like he owed you or something. Maybe he wanted to make it up to you by being really nice now. Todoroki, if this is about what happened before the Sports Festival, don’t worry about it. But I’ll still be happy to join you. Before you hit send, you remembered that you were in Hosu in the first place to keep an eye on Iida. you shuddered to think of what Iida might do in your absence. You added another sentence to your reply. Can I bring Iida too?

A few seconds passed by, but Todoroki’s response did not come as quickly as his other ones. The last of the sun’s rays disappeared behind the horizon. The lavender sky from the sunset faded into the signature deep blue of nighttime. A few minutes later, your phone finally lit up and displayed his one word reply. Sure

You smiled. That’s great! See you soon! You happily sent the text. You slipped your phone back into the pouch strapped onto your thigh, and jogged lightly to catch up to Iida in front of you.

“Hey Iida,” you got his attention. “Want to go to-”

Before you got to finish your sentence, a building a block away exploded in a burst of smoke and with a deafening boom. Fire licked across the buildings nearby in great orange tongues of flame. The streets were rapidly filling up with noise and clamour as panicked civilians all ran. Manual received a call on his earpiece right away.

“A villain appeared?” he asked into his earpiece. “Alright, we’ll be right there!” A beep ended the call and Manual quickly barked out orders. “[First]! Tenya! This is a villain attack! Let’s go!”

The three of you broke off into a run, weaving through the crowds of scared civilians. You snuck a glance at Iida, whose helmet covered head was pointed towards the dimly lit side streets. You could tell right away what he was thinking. “Hey Iida, don’t you even think of running off on your own,” you warned, but he didn’t seem to catch your words. He stopped in his tracks, and stared off into the dark side street, as if he were looking for something. You stopped too, looking anxiously over your shoulder at Iida.

“Iida?” you tried again, but he stayed staring ahead.

Just then, a violent explosion from up ahead sent a minivan flying. It soared through the air towards a frightened little boy and his mother. The woman immediately wrapped her arms around the child, trying to shield her son with her own body as her life flashed before her eyes. Your reflexes pushed your legs into movement, and you threw yourself front of the mother and son. The minivan crashed into you and it dented as if it just hit a human shaped metal pole. You stepped out of the wreckage, unharmed.

“Are you ok? Can you walk?” you hastily asked the mother and son, and both nodded. “Then please evacuate right away!” With a final nod, the mother hurriedly stood up, grabbed her son’s hand, and the two of them ran down the street as the last few civilians emptied out of this block. When you turned back around, Iida had disappeared. Your throat tightened instantly with panic. You impatiently ran along the street, scanning the area, searching for the white armour of his costume. You called his name, and you could hear your own desperation, but you received no reply.

“Dammit, he really did run off!” you angrily muttered to yourself, an edge of fear in your words.

“[First], there you are!” you heard Manual call from behind you. “What are you doing here? We need to keep moving!”

“It’s Iida, I can’t find him!” you frantically shouted back.

“Dammit, where did he run off to?! And at a time like this!” Manual said, frustration clear on his face. He then shook his head. “[First], we have to help the other heroes hold back the villains! They’re being crushed!”

You briefly glanced over your shoulder at the alleyway again, bit your lip, and ran to follow after Manual. As you ran, you seized your phone from the pouch strapped to your thigh. After a couple of rings that seemed to last forever, you were greeted with Iida’s answering machine, and your unease surged. Thoughts hysterically raced themselves within your mind. What if Iida really did find the Hero Killer? What if he’s in battle right now? What if he… You shook your head, steadying yourself. Worrying like this would solve nothing. You needed to act, and you needed help. Holding your phone up again, you rapidly punched in the numbers, and pressed the phone to your ear.

“Hello?” Midoriya’s voice answered after a few seconds.

“Midoriya! Iida ran off!” you all but screamed at him. “We got a sudden call that there was a villain attack and Iida ran off by himself! I can’t find him!”

“What? Why would Iida do such a thing?” Midoriya asked in disbelief. “He’s always so proper and always follows the rules.”

“He probably went to look for the Hero Killer!” you explained hastily. Up ahead, you could see the telltale orange flames and smoke of the battlefield. You could already hear the crashes and screams from the fighting. “Look Midoriya, you’re in Hosu City right? I’m going to enter battle soon, so I’m leaving Iida to you!”

“I got it! Leave it to me!” he assured you, then hung up. You held onto your phone, and called the other classmate currently in Hosu City.

“Hello?” He picked up almost right away.

“Todoroki!” you said with an edge of panic. “I apologize for this selfish request, but I need your help!”

“What is it?” he asked without hesitation. “Where are you? I’ll come right away.”

“No, it’s not about me, Iida ran off and I can’t find him! I think he’s looking for the Hero Killer!” you said urgently. “Please Todoroki, I need to help the other heroes right now and can’t look for him. I’m sorry to ask this of you, but can you please find him?”

“I’m on it,” he replied, his voice calm and cool.

“Thank you,” you said before hanging up. You placed your phone into your pouch again just as you and Manual arrived on the battlefield. Large pillars of flame crawled up the buildings lining the streets. Ominous columns of black smoke issued from the wreckage. You could see multiple heroes fighting three large and strange creatures. Creatures who had their pink brains exposed to the open air.

“Nomu!” you gasped out in recognition. There was no mistaking it, with their muscular builds and dopey expressions.

“What?” Manual asked from beside you.

“These creatures are called Nomu! They may have more than one quirk!” you warned. “Be careful, they’re strong!”

As if he could smell the newly arrived pair, one of the Nomu lunged at them, aiming a punch at Manual. Like you did with Bakugo at USJ, you threw yourself in front of your supervisor, shielding him from the bizarre creature. You pulled back a fist, and struck, meeting Nomu’s punch with your own. Violent winds erupted from the point of impact, whipping at your hair and skirt. You seized the opportunity as the Nomu was temporarily stupefied, and wrapped both of your hands around his large fist. Shouting out a cry full of adrenaline, you heaved Nomu over your back, and threw him onto the ground so hard that a Nomu shaped crater formed. Bits and pieces of the concrete ground scattered through the air.

“[First]! Are you alright?” Manual shouted from behind you.

“They’re not as strong as the one from USJ, but they’re still tough so be careful!” you said as the Nomu slowly picked himself up from the ground. “Don’t worry. I can take care of this one while you help the other heroes!”

“[First], I’m your supervisor, I can’t just-”

“Go!” you shrieked. “I can handle it!”

Before Manual could protest further, the Nomu facing you lunged once again, hands outstretched and reaching for his target. As soon as his large fingers wrapped around your throat, they were pried open by an unseen force, and your fist sank into Nomu’s stomach, knocking him backwards off his feet. Nomu crashed harshly into the wreckage of a collapsed building. Any normal human would have been knocked out cold, but Nomu emerged from the ruins with only a few scratches here and there. You growled in frustration. He must have enhanced durability as one of his quirks. If this keeps going on, you thought impatiently, then this battle would keep going on forever and Iida might…

An unpleasant and intrusive feeling clawed at your insides, the same feeling you gets when you hears fingernails on a chalkboard. You scanned the area, hoping to find something, anything that could be useful to quickly defeat Nomu. Nomu finished digging his way out of the rubble, and suddenly, your eyes landed on the flight of stairs nearby that led to the waterfront below. A crazy idea popped into your mind. It may not be elegant, but it might just be enough to get the job done.

Nomu pounced at your again, large hands outstretched, ready to kill. You let a breath out, your hands shaking a bit from anticipation, and clutched onto Nomu’s wrist as he swung a punch at you. Then, as if you were dancing an intense tango, you swished around to step behind Nomu while dragging his arm with you, and dug your knee into his back. The vectors acting upon Nomu’s body forced him into the air, but you did not lose your grip on him. The both of you streaked through the sky, you kneeling on Nomu’s back as if he were just a large and ugly skateboard. The two of you dived as you carefully controlled your fall, and Nomu landed face first in front of the stairs leading to the waterfront. Just as he lifted his head in confusion, you gripped the back of his head, shoved his face again into the ground, kneed him in the small of his back, and the two of you tipped over the threshold and started your plunge down the steps. The descent was not smooth or elegant at all. Against every single one of the rough concrete steps, Nomu’s face collided and smashed, scraped and banged while you kept your grip on him, hanging on for dear life.

“It’s like I’m sledding down a hill,” you muttered humorously to yourself, “Except the hill is super bumpy and my sled wants to kill me.”

With a loud thump, the two of you hit the bottom of the steps. While Nomu was still dazed from collisions between his head and the stairs, you resumed your grasp on his wrist, and whipped his body into the air, which fell into the shallow water with a splash, and lay completely still. You sighed in relief, glad that you actually pulled off that plan.

“Now, time to search for Iida,” you told yourself. Just as you were about to reach for your phone, the Nomu in the water dragged himself to his feet, and roared a deafening screech. You hurriedly clamped your hands over your ears, gaping in disbelief at the sight before you.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” you shouted angrily. “You just banged your head against at least two hundred steps!” Water rose smoothly, wrapping around Nomu, and you could see that his bloody gashes and scrapes healed at disturbing speeds. Just my luck, you thought sarcastically, the Nomu that has a water quirk landed right in his element.

Massive clouds of steam emerged from the water surface that Nomu’s calves touched, instantly fogging the air surrounding you until Nomu appeared to be nothing more than a blurred shadow, which then quickly disappeared from sight. You frantically looked around, but all you could see was fog from the water. You might as well have been blind. Closing your eyes and straining your ears, you desperately tried to figure out Nomu’s location. You could hear the distance clamour of the battle, the wind gently rustling the grass, the echo of a cricket cry. Your eyes snapped open when you heard the thudding of footsteps to your left and you found a dark shadow approaching you through the fog. Through a war cry, you screamed your frustration and impatience. Nomu’s ugly head was now in view through the mist. Your arm revved back, preparing to slam a punch into Nomu’s nose, but your hit never made contact. Your punch swung through empty air, as the brawny and powerful fist of a much taller man reached over you and sank into Nomu’s face. Nomu sailed through the air, and the mist promptly dissolved into nothingness.

You spun around to thank your savior, but your words died in your throat when you realized who it was. The orange flames covering his shoulders flickered heatedly and his aqua eyes burned purposefully as they intently watched the Nomu.

“You didn’t accept my nomination,” Flame Hero Endeavor said to you. You stayed still, too shocked to reply.

Nomu quickly stood on his feet again, and ribbons of water from the small lake swirled through the air, coating his whole body in a ball. Wiggling water appendages shot out of the sphere, giving Nomu the shape of a large and transparent octopus. Without a hint of hesitation, Endeavor held his hand face up in front of him, and an orb of condensed fire spun to life at his fingertips just as the water tentacles shot at him.

“Look out!” you shrieked in panic. But Endeavor did not need that warning. As soon as the water appendages wrapped around him, they were blasted away into a million water droplets. Then, it seemed like the air itself exploded into flames, painting the scene in an intense orange hue. The orb of fire in Endeavor’s hand flew into the sky and expanded into a ring of flames so large that all the moisture in the air evaporated. Endeavor lifted his hand at Nomu, and the circle of fire whirled at Nomu like a furious Catherine wheel. In a display of spinning sparks and flame, the wheel looped around Nomu and tightened around him like a lasso. As the water from his transparent octopus fell to the ground with an almighty splash, Nomu fell too, completely restrained by the rope of fire, unable to move.

“It’s over,” you gasped out in amazement. Conflicted feelings rose within you. This was the man who abused Todoroki’s mother until she snapped, the man who put Todoroki through hell, and yet, his work as a hero was nothing short of excellent. While you struggled with the Nomu, Endeavor ended it almost instantly. Against your wishes, reluctant respect for this man as a hero swirled inside of you.

“His quirk depended on moisture. So naturally, enough fire and heat overpowered him.” Endeavor said to you. He then turned his attention towards the clamour of the battle above. “Are the other heroes also fighting these creatures?”

“Yes,” you answered breathlessly, still awestruck at his combat ability.

“I see. You’d best fall back for now. I’ll take care of things here.”

This snapped you out of your momentary daze. “I can’t do that. I need to find my friend,” you said as you turned on your heel and ran up the steps again. You heard Endeavor call after you, but he made no move to stop you. You snatched your phone, and hurriedly checked your messages to find that Midoriya sent you his location pin a few minutes ago. 4-2-10 Ekou Street.

No other messages followed, which could not mean anything good. You felt ice flood your veins, and a shiver swept through you. If he only sent his location pin without any explanation, you thought, then it must mean he is currently in battle. Feeling cold panic coat your insides, you kicked off from the ground and let the air currents carry you through the sky. A bead of sweat rolled down your temple as one thought repeated itself over and over in your mind. Please don’t let them be dead… Please don’t let them be dead... It’ll be my fault if they’re dead. As you sailed across the night, you easily spotted a small alleyway that was lit up in bright orange flames. You drew in a sharp breath. Those flames must be Todoroki’s.

You dived, racing against time, and zoomed into the small alleyway and took a second to assess the situation. There, you spotted your friends struggling against a lone man donning a crimson scarf. You instantly recognized that warped and twisted face from the news. This man was the Hero Killer.

A pro hero lay still on the ground and you could only hope that he wasn’t dead. Midoriya sat on the side, bleeding badly from a wound on his leg. Iida was pinned to the ground, a blade jammed into his arm. Todoroki was fighting, unleashing fire from his left hand as if it were a flamethrower. However, Stain was almost inhumanly fast, dodging every one of Todoroki’s attacks.

The moment Todoroki’s fire attack stopped, Stain rushed at Iida in his madness to kill. Then, just as his sword was about to pierce his opponent, your knee slammed into Stain’s face and Stain was sent flying backwards.

“[Last]!” Todoroki and Iida yelled together in surprise.

“I’m glad you’re not dead,” you replied to them, keeping an eye on Stain. “I’m here to help you guys. We’ll fight all together.”

“The Hero Killer’s quirk allows him to immobilize people by licking their blood,” Todoroki quickly explained to you. You nodded in response. “He already got Midoriya and the pro hero behind us.”

“I think I broke my engine radiator,” Iida said as Todoroki shot another jet of fire at Stain. Then, an idea lit up his expression. “Todoroki, can you regulate temperature?”

“I’m not used to my left yet,” he responded. “Why?”

“Freeze my legs without plugging up the exhaust!” Iida explained. Todoroki nodded in understanding, temporarily taking his eyes off Stain, who took this chance and charged at them through an opening in the fire. You stepped forward and Stain’s sword harmlessly bounced right back as it hit your shoulder.

“I’ll distract him! You guys, do what you need to do!” you commanded, before you dashed at your opponent and the two of you entered into your deadly duel. While he darted backwards and forwards, you whipped and twisted around to match his movements. While his blades simply bounced off of your skin as if you were made of titanium, your punches never found their target as he was an expert at dodging. He couldn’t land a hit on you, and you couldn’t land a hit on him. He drew out a small dagger and hurled it at you and, an instant from embedding itself into your skull, it shot straight back and clattered to the ground.

“What the hell? My attacks just keep bouncing right back,” Stain growled out, frustrated beyond belief. “Your quirk is the same as that man’s.”

Your concentration wavered as a new and sickening feeling stirred inside of you and you stopped your attacks. “What man?” you asked, temporarily disorientated. Feelings of disgust mixed with unease clawed at you. It couldn’t be, you thought, it couldn’t be him. There was no chance in hell that you would ever forget him.

You would never forget the betrayal you felt when he never came back. You would never forget that cold glance he gave with his dark, dark eyes as he closed the door behind himself, leaving you behind, abandoning you.

During your second of hesitation, Stain lunged at you again, sensing weakness, but was blocked by a column of white ice, and then chased away by a stream of orange flame.

“[Last]! Get back!” Todoroki shouted from behind you, snapping you out of your trance.

“Right!” You shook your head to clear your mind of all intrusive thoughts. Now was not the time to be stupid or jump to silly conclusions. You returned to Todoroki’s side just as Iida shot into the air faster than the eye could see, sinking his shin into Stain’s ribcage. At the same time, Midoriya regained control of his body again and leapt up as well, a blur of green in the night, slamming his fist into the target’s face. In the next second, brilliant orange flames lit up the area once again, encircling the Hero Killer. Then, with bright blue fire propelling his engines, Iida hurled his heel into Stain’s gut just as you landed a dropkick straight into Stain’s skull. The Hero Killer fell onto a hill of Todoroki’s ice, and stayed completely still.

“He’s probably knocked out after all that, right?” Midoriya asked cautiously.

“Let’s restrain him and get out of here,” Todoroki suggested. “Is there anything to tie him up with?”

“Just in case, let’s take all the weapons off him,” Midoriya said.

“Good idea,” Todoroki agreed. He rested his left hand onto the ice and it melted quickly, lowering Stain to the ground. Todoroki gingerly nudged him with his foot, and Stain remained still as a log. Todoroki and Midoriya set to work, patting him down and removing all his weapons. The pro hero who was lying on the ground (Midoriya called him Mr Native) also seemed to regain control of his body and he started helping too.

As Iida shakily dragged himself onto his feet, he noticed you steadily approach him, bright raging eyes staring fiercely into his own.

“[Last], I-” Iida tried to apologize, but he never got to finish his sentence. You drove your fist straight into Iida’s cheek. Todoroki and Midoriya paused from their current task and turned around to watch the ordeal. Iida gaped at you as you stood in front of him, huffing from anger. The burst of pain on his cheek darkened into a red mark.

“Be glad I didn’t use my quirk for that one,” you angrily hissed out, clutching your bruised fist as well.

“[Last]!” Midoriya called to you, “Calm down. We just got out of a fight, we don’t need another-”

“I won’t calm down until I’m done giving Iida a piece of my mind!” you snapped at Midoriya, ignoring the stares you got from Todoroki and Native. Scowling deeply at Iida, you raised your index finger and jabbed it furiously into his chestplate. “You! I chose Hosu for my workplace experience so I could keep an eye on you! I even specifically told you to not do anything stupid, like chase after the Hero Killer! I told you that we’re your friends and we care about you! Did those words mean nothing to you?!”

“[Last]-” Iida tried, but was promptly cut off as you shouted over him and sharply jabbed a finger into his chestplate again.

“I understand your anger! I understand that you want revenge on the criminal who injured your brother! But to throw yourself face first at a stronger enemy is just reckless!” you yelled shrilly, beside yourself. “You could have died! You could have been killed! Do you know how worried I got when you ran off?! Does that mean nothing to you?!”

You stood there in front of him, shaking and panting from the rage and fury that you just unleashed. Having finished saying what was on your mind, you closed your eyes in an effort to cool down, let out a deep breath, and opened them again to meet Iida’s. His expression was wracked with guilt and shame. He really did regret his actions. Your gaze softened a bit, and your voice was gentle when you spoke a few moments later.

“Sorry about your, uh, face,” you said. “It hurts, doesn’t it.”

“No, I deserve it,” Iida admitted genuinely. “I apologize for my actions. I truly am sorry.”

“Just don’t do something reckless like that again,” you muttered before you went to help the others tie up the unconscious Stain.

“That should do it,” Todoroki said as he pulled the final knot tight around Stain’s wrists. Native pulled the injured Midoriya onto his back, giving him a piggy back ride.

“Where’d you get this rope?” you asked Todoroki, curious.

“I found it in a garbage heap nearby,” he answered, giving the rope one final tug.

“Here, I’ll pull him.” You held out your hand expectantly, but Todoroki didn’t place the rope into your waiting hand.

“No, I’m fine, I can do it,” he insisted.

“Todoroki,” Iida said from behind them, “I’ll pull him-” Before he could finish his sentence, two voices shot him down at the same time.

“Your arms are all messed up,” Todoroki reasoned.

“Don’t you even think about pushing yourself anymore tonight,” you snappily ordered, “Todoroki, you too.” You then snatched the rope out of Todoroki’s hands and led the way out of the alley, dragging Stain behind you.

“Sorry everyone,” Native apologized in self-disappointment from behind you, “Even though I’m a pro, I was just in the way.”

“No, I don’t think you could have done anything one-on-one with the Hero Killer’s quirk,” Midoriya said from his place on Native’s back. “He’s too strong.”

“Even when we fought him all together, we still barely won,” Todoroki added on. “He got flustered when [Last] arrived, and he forgot about Midoriya’s recovery time.”

“We’re lucky that no one died tonight,” you added grimly.

“Now let’s hurry and get him to the police-” Native tried to advise, but was cut off when multiple footsteps thudded down the streets. Half a dozen heroes sprinted from around a corner, and immediately started fretting over the students’ injuries and tried to get a grasp of the situation.

“We were sent here by Endeavor to help!”

“Those injuries look serious!”

“I’ll call an ambulance right away!”

“Wait, is that the Hero Killer?”

“Call the police too!”

“Can you walk?” one of them asked Midoriya.

“If you prop me up, I can...” Midoriya answered, clearly exhausted.

“And you?” the hero asked Todoroki and you.

“I’m not hurt at all,” you replied.

“I only received minor injuries,” Todoroki said, “But Iida is bleeding badly.”

“You guys,” Iida spoke up from behind them. You, Todoroki, and Midoriya turned around to find Iida bowing deeply. “You were injured because of me,” he stated, his tone wavering and expressing the immense guilt and shame that he felt. You felt your irritation at him from before slowly disappear. “I am truly sorry.” And he absolutely looked it too. “I couldn’t see anything through my anger.”

“I’m sorry too,” Midoriya apologized as well. “Even though you were feeling so cornered, I didn’t notice at all, even though we’re friends.” Following those words, the tears of remorse that welled in Iida’s eyes spilled out.

“Well, just make sure you don’t do anything reckless again,” you softly repeated your words from before, crossing your arms across your chest.

“Pull yourself together,” Todoroki said, trying to help Iida in his own way. “You’re the class rep, right?”

“Yeah,” Iida agreed, mopping his eyes with his sleeve. He gave a final sniff. When he looked up again, he offered them a smile through his wet eyes. “Yeah,” he muttered again.

These few minutes of peace were destroyed by a resounding screech that left your ears ringing. Faster than anyone could react, a large and winged creature swooped out of the sky, grabbing Midoriya and taking off with him. Something wet and warm splattered onto your arm and you briefly glanced down to see it was blood. Blood from the creature?

“The Nomu must have escaped here after being beaten!” the female hero called out. You felt something wet and slimy drag across your arm, licking the blood off. Instantly, the airborne Nomu became paralyzed and fell, just as a blur zoomed forward from behind you. Wait, wasn’t Stain tied up? When did he get free?

“This society overgrown with fake heroes,” Stain muttered as he launched himself at the Nomu, “And the criminals who wave their power around idly all become my targets!” He sank his blade into Nomu’s brain, and they all plunged to the ground. Stain slowly stood up to his full and intimidating height, facing the group of heroes and students. Although he only licked the Nomu’s blood, all of you were rooted to place by his dangerous stare full of a thirst for blood, a lust for death.

“The fake must all be purged!” Stain growled, kicking Nomu’s body out of the way. One step after another, he started to close the distance between him and the group of heroes. You tried to move, but it was as if you were held in place by his overwhelming murderous aura. “I need to make things right!” You struggled to breathe. Beads of cold sweat rolled down your temple.

Stain continued to advance shakily, as if drunk on his own fury and hatred. “Someone must be dyed in blood… I need to take back what it means to be a hero!” It was as if the whole world had been coloured a crimson red by his grotesque semblance. “Come! Try and get me, you fakes!” It felt like your lungs had been shredded… No, it felt like your lungs had been gouged out, as you futilely tried to draw breath. It was as if you were drowning and suffocating from the heavy and blood filled air. “The only one who is allowed to kill me is All Might!”

Then, the small knife slipped from his grasp and clanged onto the floor. Stain stood, frozen, his eyes rolled back. He moved no more.

“He’s… unconscious,” Endeavor’s voice muttered from the side. You had not noticed his arrival at all.

At once, all feeling returned to you, and it felt like you had just been submerged in ice water. You gasped, shaking as you fell to your knees along with Todoroki and Iida, joining Midoriya on the ground. Subconsciously, without actively willing it, the four young students had managed to scoot together, all huddling together, trembling together on the ground, rattled beyond belief by the events of the night.

Chapter Text

“Thinking about it now, we did something amazing,” Midoriya said thoughtfully to his three classmates the next morning.

Last night, shortly after Stain lost consciousness, the ambulance and police arrived. The students had been transported to the Hosu General Hospital, where doctors treated their wounds. Midoriya, who had injured his leg by his own quirk, had his leg wrapped up in bandages, just like Todoroki’s arm. Iida’s injuries were the worst out of all of them, and both of his arms were put in casts. You, who had sworn to the hospital last night that you were perfectly fine, still had a doctor fuss over you and wrap your bruised hand before you were allowed to leave. Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki had to stay the night. Now, the rays of the morning sun shined through the window. The long night had passed. Bringing a large box of cookies, you dropped by the hospital first thing in the morning.

“I went to the bakery and bought these,” you announced when you arrived, setting the box of sweets onto a table. “Were any of you able to sleep?”

“No,” they all replied from their beds, dressed in hospital pajamas.

“Same. All I could think about was how we were still alive,” you said grimly, plopping down in a chair by the foot of Iida’s bed. Your hands absentmindedly started playing with the hem of your summer dress. “Especially after Stain killed that Nomu, his own teammate, with no remorse. His aura alone was enough to keep us in place. It felt like I was staring Death in the eyes.”

“It’s a miracle that we’re still alive,” Midoriya agreed. “With my leg like this, he could have killed us if he wanted to.”

“You’re amazing to have been able to face him after all the murderous intent directed at you,” Todoroki told Iida.

“No,” Iida brushed off the praise, looking down at his arms. “I’m not...” The sound of the door sliding open interrupted Iida before he could finish what he was saying.

“Oh, are you wounded kids awake?” a short elderly hero asked. Gran Torino, the hero supervising Midoriya, as well as Manual stepped in through the door. “You kids have a visitor.”

A very tall and lanky man with the face of a dog stepped into the room. He easily towered over all of them.

“This is Hosu’s chief of Police, Kenji Tsuragamae,” Gran Torino introduced. Iida and Todoroki slipped off their beds while you stood up from your chair, all respectfully standing. Poor Midoriya had to stay in bed due to his broken leg.

“Woof, you must be the UA students who brought down the Hero Killer, right?” The Police Chief asked. It was hard to read his facial expressions.

“Yes,” you all unanimously answered.

“We arrested the Hero Killer,” the Police Chief said. “He had fairly serious injuries, with burns and broken bones, and is receiving treatment under strict guard, woof.” The ‘woof’ kind of took some of the edge off his words, but the words remained serious nonetheless. “You are UA students, so you must already know that after the appearance of quirks, the police had to establish strict rules so that quirks would not be used as weapons. Even against the Hero Killer, for uncertified individuals to cause injury with their quirks without permission from their guardians or supervisors is a clear violation of that rule.” You saw Iida and Midoriya tense up at the clear meaning of punishment behind those words. Meanwhile, Todoroki looked furious.

“The four of you, as well as the pro heroes Endeavor, Manual, and Gran Torino must receive strict punishment,” the Police Chief concluded.

“If we didn’t fight, people would have died,” Todoroki said, volume rising with every word, ignoring the whispers from Iida and Midoriya telling him to stop. He looked absolutely outraged at the injustice happening. “Isn’t it a hero’s job to save people?!”

The Police Chief simply closed his eyes patiently. “You’re telling us to disobey the rules? That is why you are not a fully fledged hero yet. Goodness, what are you being taught by UA and by Endeavor.” These words only seemed to rub salt into Todoroki’s wounds.

“You dog!” Todoroki snapped, angrily tramping towards the Police Chief.

“Todoroki,” Midoriya called out, scared of what might happen.

“Stop it, he’s absolutely right,” Iida said.

“Todoroki, stop, it’s pointless to argue,” you reasoned, putting a hand around his upper arm and pulling him back. His taut muscles relaxed a bit in your grip. From this, you noticed that the length of your hand could barely wrap around half of Todoroki’s sturdy bicep. The inappropriate thought (considering the current situation) that he was impressively toned flitted through your mind. You mentally kicked yourself for thinking that.

The Police Chief continued, “That was the official opinion of the police, that you would be punished if this were all made public.” Then a twinkle appeared in his large brown eyes. “But if we don’t make it public, and we say that Endeavor was the hero who brought down the Hero Killer, then we don’t have to punish you. But this would also mean that no one would know about your achievements.” This caused the students to blink in pleasant disbelief. So you wouldn’t be punished?

“Personally, I don’t want to be the one to find fault with promising young ones because of one big mistake,” the Police Chief said with a bark like laugh.

“Either way,” Manual sighed, “we will need to take responsibility for our negligence as supervisors.”

This prompted Iida to step forward and bow deeply in front of Manual. You followed Iida’s proper example. “We’re truly sorry, sir,” you both genuinely apologized, your eyes pointed at the ground in humility.

“All right. You caused others a lot of trouble. If you understand, then don’t do it again,” Manual said gently, accepting the apologies as he lightly poked both of you on the head. To you, Manual felt more like a big brother than a supervisor.

Midoriya and Todoroki respectfully followed suit, bending lightly at the waist, offering an “I’m sorry” and a “Please take care of it”.

“Because of the unfairness of adults, you will not be able to receive the praise that you would have gotten,” the Police Chief said, voice kind and apologetic. “But at least, as someone who also protects the peace, I can say thank you.” He sincerely bowed too, offering them his respect before he, Manual, and Gran Torino left.

“Whew,” you sighed in relief once the door closed behind them. “We really dodged a bullet there.”

“Yeah, I really thought we were gonna get expelled from UA or something,” Midoriya agreed.

“It’s great that he’s willing to give us this special pardon,” Iida said appreciatively.

“Well, he could have said that in the first place instead of worrying us,” Todoroki added, but you could tell from his tone that he was grateful, nonetheless.

“Help yourself, these were freshly baked,” you said as you opened the box of cookies laying on the table. You then slid open the door and waved a small goodbye. “I forgot to get drinks and I need to call Uraraka, so I’ll be back shortly.”

“Tell her to not worry about us,” Iida called after you.

“Ha, but knowing Uraraka, she’s gonna worry anyway,” you said fondly, closing the door behind you.

You walked down the hall and into the visitor lounge, selecting Uraraka’s number on your phone. After Uraraka picked up, she spent a good fifteen minutes fussing over all of you, repeatedly asking whether you were ok or not, and you would say, over and over, that you were fine and to not worry.

“I see,” Uraraka said hesitantly, “Well, I’m just glad you guys are ok. I got really nervous when I just got Deku’s address. By the way, how is Deku? Did he hurt himself using his quirk again?” And apparently, she had forgotten that she had asked that question twenty times already.

“Well, yes, but everything’s fine now, so don’t worry about it anymore,” you assured her. Out of the corner of your eye, you saw Midoriya walk into the visitor lounge. A clunking sound followed every other step as his crutch hit the floor. “Actually Uraraka, Midoriya is here right now, so I’ll just give him the phone so you can talk to him yourself.”

“N-No, Deku probably needs his rest and I can’t-”

“Don’t worry about it!” you said as you handed your cellphone to Midoriya, who took it with confusion.

“Here,” you told him, smiling. “Uraraka wants to talk to you.” You then slipped out of the lounge, giving the two lovebirds (hehe) their privacy. You made your way to the vending machine, slipped in the coins, and out popped the drinks. By the time you returned to the lounge carrying the four cans of ice tea in your bag, Midoriya had a faint blush on his face, holding the phone in trembling hands. You didn’t know if it was your imagination or not, but you thought you could see jets of steam gush out of his ears.

“So what did you guys talk about?” you chimed.

“Oh, sh-she just said th-that she’s g-glad we’re a-alright,” Midoriya said, his words a stuttering mess as he handed you back your phone. “She s-said she w-was worried and- What?” Midoriya stopped mid-sentence when he caught sight of your knowing smirk. “What are you smiling about?”

“Nothing,” you chirped, but your sing-songy tone gave it away. Midoriya turned a bright, blazing crimson, and frantically started waving his hands around as if in a frenzy.

“No no no that’s not it!” he desperately denied.

“Whatever you say,” you said casually, smirking. You then set off down the hallway towards Iida and Todoroki’s room, and Midoriya stumbled up and followed behind you, whispering and stuttering “Th-that’s not it” and “Uraraka’s j-just a friend”.

“We’ve returned,” you announced as you opened the door, “I brought ice tea and...”

“[Last], Midoriya,” Todoroki said with a graveness to his words, “Iida just finished getting examined.”

You blinked and the smile from before fell from your face. “Iida?” you asked softly, tentatively. Iida kept his gaze glued to the floor.

“My left hand might have long term damage,” Iida said calmly.

“Long term… damage?” Midoriya repeated, hoping he didn’t hear correctly.

“Both of my arms were pretty beat up, but the damage on my left arm was especially severe. I’ll have trouble moving my hand and fingers and experience numbness,” Iida continued. He looked up to meet the three worried expressions, and his smile was calm and read ‘It can’t be helped’. “There’s a possibility it can be healed with nerve transplant surgery.”

“Th-that’s good, right?” you blurted out nervously. “It can be healed. That’s great!” But Iida simply shook his head.

“When I found the Hero Killer, I stopped being able to think. I should have contacted Manual first, but I forgot myself in my anger, and I put myself above the safety of Native,” Iida admitted truthfully. “So, until I become a true hero, I want to leave my left arm as it is.”

You weren’t sure what to say or do in this situation. Iida’s tone was final and accepting of his fate. How should you try to comfort him? Would it be considered rude to try to comfort him right now, when he’s already accepted it?

“Iida, I feel the same way,” Midoriya said from beside you, breaking the silence. He lifted his clenched fist, which was lined with scars from the Sports Festival, and held it up as if in a fist bump. He tapped it gently onto Iida’s cast covered arm. “Let’s become stronger, together.”

You lifted up your own fist, and followed Midoriya’s example. The bandages covering your bruised hand tapped lightly onto Iida’s.

“Let’s move forward and grow from both our strength and weakness,” you added. The three of you nodded, and it was as if a mutual connection had been made, a vow to keep pushing forward.

Meanwhile, Todoroki looked from Midoriya’s scarred hand, to Iida’s wrapped arms, to your bandaged fist, and started sweating bullets once he connected the dots. “I feel kind of bad...” he muttered, drawing your attention.

“Huh? About what?” Midoriya asked.

“I feel like if I get involved, then other people mess up their hands,” Todoroki said, raising his hand to eye level and examining it. “Is it a curse?”

“Pfft,” Midoriya and Iida both immediately gagged and burst into laughter at Todoroki’s ridiculous statement. “Todoroki, I didn’t know you could make jokes!”

“No, I’m not joking. It’s like I’m the Hand Crusher or something,” he said seriously, summoning forth another fit of laughs from the other two. Midoriya and Iida both had tears in their eyes by now. You felt your cheeks pull up as you stepped lightly towards Todoroki.

“Don’t be stupid, Mr Hand Crusher,” you said humorously as you poked him on the forehead. He blinked away from his thoughts, and his eyes looked up into your beautiful smile, and he didn’t understand why his heart felt like leaping out of his throat all of a sudden.

***
Soon enough, you were saying goodbye and thank you to Manual for supervising you before you returned to UA. As you stepped into the classroom, you were glomped by Uraraka, who wailed that she was so worried. You saw all your classmates again, who enthusiastically exchanged stories about their own internships. The days rolled by, filled with the cloudless sunshine and fresh summer air, and soon it was the final week of June. This meant one thing to the students of UA: final exams were nine days away. Aizawa reminded Class 1A of this right after the lunch bell rang.

“I haven’t studied at all!” Kaminari roared, grabbing fistfulls of his blond hair while Ashido laughed nervously beside him. “With the Sports Festival and workplace experience, I didn’t study at all!”

“It’ll be tough since there’s also a practical exam too,” Mineta taunted smugly. “If you fail either one, you won’t get to go to the training camp.” Kaminari and Ashido sent him looks of betrayal and disgust.

“You two, I can assist you with the class lectures,” Yaoyorozu kindly offered.

“Yaomomo!” Kaminari and Ashido sang out in delight. “We’re saved!”

“Ashido and Kaminari, let’s do our best!” Midoriya cheered them on. “We all want to go to the training camp together, right?”

“Yes!” Iida agreed, his hand sailing around wildly in the crazy hand gesture. “As class rep, I also have high hopes that you’ll all be moved into action!”

“It’s pretty hard to fail if you just pay attention in class,” Todoroki said coolly.

“Todoroki, don’t be mean,” you said lightheartedly as you packed up your pencil case.

“[First], please help me,” Uraraka begged from beside you, grabbing onto your shirt sleeve. “You got perfect scores on the midterms just like Yaoyorozu. Please teach me.”

“For sure,” you said brightly. How could you say no to those puppy eyes?

“Uraraka, I’ll help you study as well,” Iida said. Uraraka’s eyes shone even brighter. “As class rep and as your friend, I’ll help you pass for sure.”

“We won’t let you down, Uraraka,” you said firmly.

“Hey, do you want to study all together?” Midoriya suggested. Uraraka furiously nodded.

“Mind if I join you?” Todoroki asked.

“Not at all! The more the merrier!” Midoriya agreed excitedly.

***
On a Sunday morning in the library, you sat at a large table, textbooks of every subject in a neat stack beside you. You waited for your friends, who were supposed to arrive in the next five minutes. You straightened the textbook pile for the uptenth time, excited to be able to help. Absentmindedly, you quietly tapped your pencil on your notebook, until your phone buzzed. You picked up your phone, and saw a message from Midoriya and one from Iida.

You tapped on Midoriya’s text. Sorry, but I can’t come today. I got food poisoning, so I have to stay home today. I’m really sorry :(

You quickly tapped out a reply, reassuring Midoriya that it’s alright and to get better soon. You opened Iida’s text next. My brother just informed me that he’s leaving the hospital today and I’m going to help him out. I apologize for the abrupt cancellation.

You were glad that Iida’s brother had recovered enough to leave the hospital and messaged him so. And now, the two left are Uraraka and-

“Are the others not here yet?” Todoroki asked from behind you. He slid his bag from his shoulder and set it on the table.

“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” you answered him as he sat in the chair beside you. “The bad news is that Midoriya got food poisoning and needs to stay home. The good news is that Iida’s brother recovered enough to leave the hospital, so Iida’s helping him today.”

“So basically, it’s us and Uraraka,” he summarized. You nodded, then your phone buzzed again.

Text from Uraraka: I’m really sorry [First], but I’m worried about Deku, so I’m checking up on him. I won’t be able to come. Fortunately, you had been working with Uraraka one-on-one during Friday night and the whole Saturday, so Uraraka was mostly caught up.

Your lips pulled into a knowing smirk at Uraraka’s cute ‘concern’ for Midoriya. This prompted Todoroki to ask you, “What is it?”

“Nothing,” you quickly replied. You set your phone down, clearing your throat and attempting to straighten your face. “It seems like Uraraka can’t join us either. It’s just us now, so it can’t be helped.” You opened your blank notebook. “So, what subject do you want to go over first? Is there a particular subject that’s giving you a hard time?” you asked.

“I’m fine with anything,” Todoroki replied. To be honest, he didn’t really need any help with the lecture material. He just joined due to… uh… personal reasons. And he couldn’t help it but a tiny part of him felt glad that the others couldn’t make it.

“Alright,” you said, grabbing the first textbook off the pile. “Let’s get math out of the way first.” You cracked it open to the first chapter review, and pointed at a problem. “Let’s-”

“Hey, is that [Last] and Todoroki?” a friendly voice quietly called out from behind you two. You turned around in your seat and caught a familiar head of spiky red hair.

“Kirishima!” you excitedly whispered (you were still in a library, after all) as he sank in a chair opposite of Todoroki. “I didn’t know you would be studying here too. You can join us if you want. Are you alone?”

“Nah, I’m going to study with Bakugo and we’re-”

“Huh Kirishima?! Why is half half bastard here?!” Bakugo’s voice yelled out, earning several glares from adults and children alike.

“Bakugo, shh, we’re in a library,” you scolded quietly before Todoroki could retort. Trying to keep the peace, Kirishima offered hurried apologies to the surrounding people. Bakugo angrily stalked over and pulled out a chair beside Kirishima, still giving Todoroki a dirty look.

“Just seeing his face puts me in a bad mood,” Bakugo said. At this, Todoroki also narrowed his eyes, glaring back.

“Come on, we all want to go to the training camp,” you tried to reason, trying to prevent a possible fight from breaking out.

“Bakugo, I’m seriously counting on you,” Kirishima said desperately. “If I don’t pass the final exams, I won’t be able to go to the training camp.”

“Huh? Are you giving up already, you idiot?!” challenged Bakugo, who seemed determined to be in a bad mood.

“I’m not an idiot. But I am… more of an idiot than you so that’s why you’ve got to teach me,” Kirishima said truthfully. Both Todoroki and you silently watched this exchange with raised eyebrows.

“Well, I’m just gonna explain it once, so you’d better learn it!” Bakugo said. “Hurry up and show me the first problem!”

Kirishima fumbled around for a bit in his bag, then pulled out his math textbook. “Here, I don’t understand this one.” He pointed at the question. “Solve for X.”

“That’s an easy problem,” Bakugo said. He barely gave it a thought and casually wrote down the answer, his pencil sliding smoothly across his worksheet. Kirishima’s eyes became comical dots in his confusion. He forced a bitter smile onto his face.

“Bakugo, I don’t want the answer… Well, I do, but I want you to teach me the method on how to get the answer,” Kirishima said.

“I didn’t give you the answer,” Bakugo argued, “I followed the given calculations. Are you an idiot?”

“If you do it like that, I won’t understand,” Kirishima sighed, grabbing a fistful of his red hair in frustration.

“Here Kirishima,” you said, standing up, deciding to help the poor guy. You leaned over the table and pointed at the question in the textbook. “What you do is expand the expression on the left side of the equation, and then...” you began explaining, moving your finger across the page, pointing at the numbers. You walked him through the question as he diligently wrote in his notebook, following your every word. “...Then you factor, which gives you X.”

“Woah, [Last], I got the right answer,” Kirishima muttered after he checked the answer sheet, amazed. “Thanks!”

“Hey you idiot! I can teach too!” Bakugo yelled, causing another few glares to be shot at him. Kirishima quickly apologized to the bystanders, flustered by the dirty looks from the people around them.

“[Last], I need help with this question,” Todoroki lied, trying to get your attention. He pointed at one of the complex end questions in the back of the book.

“Half half dumbass, give it here,” Bakugo growled, snatching the textbook from Todoroki’s hand. Bakugo read the problem, then his pencil started moving furiously against his worksheet and his fingers tapped heatedly on his calculator.

“The answer is 5607.4 metres,” Bakugo triumphantly announced a minute later, happy that he solved a problem that half half bastard couldn’t.

“Actually it’s 5735.4 metres,” you corrected casually after a glance at the question. “You forgot to square X here,” you said as you pointed at the error on his worksheet page.

“Oh, so you know everything, huh?!” Bakugo snapped at you. He then gestured towards another complex question at the end of the textbook. “Tell me the answer to this now!”

“3648.6,” you answered instantly after scanning the question. Bakugo blinked, then glared at you after he checked the answer sheet.

“What the hell?” he questioned. “Did you do this problem before and memorize the answer or something?”

“Nope. First time seeing it.”

“Hmph, must have been luck,” Bakugo justified, then pointed to another complex question. “Then what’s the answer to this?” you looked over it as your mind worked at the speed of light to seamlessly complete the intense calculations.

“19980.2,” you answered after a second.

“How?!” Bakugo demanded in disbelief after confirming with the answer sheet.

“[Last], are you a supercomputer?” Kirishima asked, awestruck.

“Well, my quirk actually relies on heavy calculations. If I don’t get it right, then my quirk doesn’t really work,” you explained. You shrugged. “I guess I learned to be quick.”

“Hey, I recognize you guys,” a new and light voice said. You all turned towards the voice and found a little girl approaching your table. She had her hair tied up in cute pigtails and her red chubby cheeks reminded you a bit of a cockatiel’s.

“I recognize you,” the little girl repeated in the same bright voice, facing you and Todoroki. “You’re Miss [First] [Last], right? And you’re Mr Shoto Todoroki. I recognize you both from the UA Sports festival.”

She then focused her attention on Bakugo. “I recognize you too,” she said simply. “You’re from the sludge villain incident a year ago, right?”

“WHAT?!” Bakugo shouted, the sound piercing through the peace in the library. Everyone in close proximity shot him a scandalized look. Kirishima flushed at the negative attention and started apologizing frantically.

All of a sudden, a little boy with a picture book in his arms approached them as well, joining the little girl. He pointed his fingers at Bakugo.

“You’re the person who won the UA festival and got tied up, right?” he asked, his eyes sparkling innocently.

“Huh?” Bakugo narrowed his eyes.

“Why did they tie you up? Is it because you couldn’t calm down and be quiet? They should tie you up at the library too then, don’t you think?”

Your jaw fell in shock. Todoroki stared wide-eyed at the kid. Kirishima spun around, staring at Bakugo like he was a bomb about to explode at any second. All three of you held your breaths, anticipating the disaster that was to come. And sure enough…

“SHUT IT YOU SHITTY KID!”

Kirishima grabbed onto Bakugo, trying to stop him as soon as possible before the library goes up in a huge explosion. Bakugo’s roar echoed throughout the building. Meanwhile, the little boy and girl started to shake, startled and frightened from the shout. Their eyes trembled, and their faces distorted, and they burst into tears as well. Adding to the pandemonium, the storm-like cries started reverberating in the library.

“SO SORRY, WE’RE REALLY SORRY!” Kirishima desperately apologized. He used the ruckus to escape this whole fiasco, dragging Bakugo along with him. You and Todoroki hastily shoved your things into your bags and ran as well, booking it out of the library, chased by the death glares burning into you backs. Even when you burst through the library’s heavy double doors, you didn’t stop sprinting until you were at least five blocks away from the disaster site.

“Bakugo, he was just a little kid!” you panted, out of breath, resting your heavy textbook filled bag on the ground by your feet.

“Well, he deserved it, talking all that shit!” Bakugo argued, fuming.

“The people around us looked like they were ready to murder us,” Kirishima groaned.

“They’ll probably kick us out if we go back,” Todoroki pointed out.

“Well, where do we go now?” Kirishima asked, before catching sight of the family restaurant beside them. “Hey, that could work!”

“No way am I sitting at the same table with half half bastard,” Bakugo growled.

“Didn’t we sit at the same table at the library?” you questioned with a hint of exasperation.

“Do you want me to get angrier?!” he yelled back.

“Alright, we’ll split up,” Kirishima said to Bakugo. “You and I will be at a table, while [Last] and Todoroki will be at another.”

“I’m fine with that,” Todoroki said, in a slightly lighter tone than usual.

***
“Sorry,” you apologized five minutes later. The waiter returned with your drinks and set them on the table. Feelings of guilt gushed inside of you.

“About what?” Todoroki asked, sitting across from you at the table.

“You came to the library on your day off to study, and then we didn’t end up getting much done, and the exams are a week away.” You sighed dejectedly, twirling the ice around your drink with your straw. “You should have joined Yaoyorozu’s study group instead of wasting your time with me.”

“I don’t think it was a waste of time.”

“Todoroki, you’re a pretty good liar, but I’m not fooled,” you said, eyes cast downward in disappointment.

“I’m not lying,” Todoroki said honestly, but you didn’t seem to believe him. You ran your hand gloomily through your hair, and Todoroki was caught by an urge to make you feel better. He wanted to see you smile again, but how? He glanced around the restaurant, searching for an idea, until he caught sight of the sweets menu. Girls liked chocolate, right? He also recalled that chocolate contains the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, a chemical that causes people to feel happy. He called the waiter over.

“Can I have two slices of chocolate cake?” he said to the waiter, who nodded. “Thanks.”

“Todoroki, what are you doing?” you asked suspiciously as the waiter disappeared off to the kitchen with the order.

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied, then another idea came to him. “We can still study here, right?”

“You still want to study with me?” you asked, surprised, but he was sure that you perked up a bit.

“Yeah.” He grabbed the first textbook he felt in his bag (physics) and flipped through it, pretending to look for a certain page. He pointed at a random problem, and furrowed his eyebrows, offering you his best confused-looking face. “Can you show me how to do this question?”

“Sure,” you said, and Todoroki was pleased to see your eyes shining again as you pulled out your workbook. Before you put your pencil to the paper, you paused.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, concerned.

“I think it’ll be easier for us if we sit beside each other,” you said before getting up and carrying your stuff over to his side. “This way, you can watch as I write down the equations.”

You sat down and started to explain the question, and his breath caught in his throat when the outside of his and your clothed thighs touched. Pleasant electricity seemed to ripple through his body from the contact. He watched you as you showed him how to do the problem, but instead of focusing on the numbers and words, he noticed how your pretty hair shined in the light, how your bright eyes gleamed, how your lips moved as you spoke. Sometime later, the waiter arrived with the chocolate cakes, which sat on the end of the table, untouched as both students were caught up in other matters.

“Did you get all that?” you asked, snapping him out of his trance.

“Uh.” Todoroki mentally scolded himself for zoning out. Had it not been for his ice quirk, his face would probably have gone warm right now, but he froze the heat down as soon as he felt it come up.

“That’s ok, I can go over it again,” you said patiently and happily. You pointed to the first number with the tip of your pencil. “This is the initial velocity of the object, and this number here...” you pointed to the next one “...is the momentum of the object...” and you launched into another deep explanation. This time, Todoroki tried to focus, but once again, he found himself admiring how cute your nose was and how nice you smelled and how warm the smile upon your face made him feel.

And the chocolate cake slices sat on the end of the table, forgotten and no longer needed.

Chapter Text

A few days before the end of term exams, while the students were busy studying, the teachers of UA high school all gathered around in a staff meeting.

“With the connection between the Hero Killer and the League of Villains, there is a possibility that more villains will start joining the League,” Nezu, the tiny and furry Principal of UA, pointed out. “There will be more villain attacks, and more encounters with villains as well.”

“So combat training against robots is not practical,” Snipe concluded for him.

“That is exactly right,” Nezu said, gazing around to make eye contact with all the teachers. “I know we’ve been using the robots for many years now, but we should focus more on person versus person training. That’s why the students will be fighting you in teams. This would be the best way to help them learn and grow stronger.”

All the teachers around the rectangular table nodded in agreement.

“Then to determine the teams…” Aizawa began. He cleared his throat, and read off the stack of papers in front of him. “First up, Ashido and Kaminari. Their movements are simplistic, so Mr Principal, I’d appreciate it if you scooped something out of those brains of yours for them.”

“Ok,” Nezu cheerfully agreed.

“Next, Todoroki.” Aizawa flipped a page. “In general, he’s doing well, but has a tendency to use brute force. And Yaoyorozu is an all-rounder, but lacks the ability to make spur-of-the-moment decisions and apply them. I’ll be the one to erase their quirks and take advantage of their weaknesses in close combat.”

“No objections,” all the teachers said in unison.

“Next, [Last].” Aizawa proceeded, turning another page, “She’s also doing well and has no glaring weakness. I’m leaving her to you, All Might.”

“[First]? Wouldn’t it make more sense for another teacher to take her?” All Might asked in confusion. “Wouldn’t it be better if she joined Todoroki and Yaoyorozu against you? She’s my niece.”

“Yes, we’re all aware of that. We also know you trained her when she was young,” Aizawa said. “But because of that, you are the one who is most familiar with her fighting style.”

“But wouldn’t you worry that I would go easy on her because I’m her uncle?”

“Not at all,” Aizawa said confidently. “As a teacher, you want all your students to become stronger. As an uncle, your wish for her to become stronger is much more predominant. There’s no way you’ll allow her to slack off. You’ll rush at her with your one hundred percent.”

“You got me there,” All Might let out a dry laugh.

“I plan for her to be in a team of three with Midoriya and Bakugo. For those two, I didn’t pair them up based on ability or grades. I paired them up because they don’t get along.” Aizawa paused here, lifting his eyes from the papers to meet All Might’s. “You like Midoriya, right? Please instruct them well.”

***

In the week leading up to the written exams, you met Uraraka, Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki every day after school in order to study. The kind Kendo from Class B had told you guys that you would be facing robots for the practical exam, so no one was too worried about that, and the Class A students focused instead on preparing for the written exam. In seemingly no time at all, the term was ending and summer break (and the training camp trip) was just around the corner.

The written exams lasted three whole days from morning to afternoon. Lunchtimes were filled with students heatedly discussing the questions and what answers they put, desperate to know if they got it right or not. Soon enough, those days were over too, and it was the day of the practical exam.

The students from Class 1A gathered in front of the Practical Exam Area in their hero costumes, eager to begin the fight against the robots. However, no one expected to see so many teachers standing beside Aizawa in front of the Centre Plaza.

“Now we will begin the practical exam.” Aizawa’s voice was expressionless, as always. “Of course, it is possible to fail this exam. If you want to go to the training camp, then don’t make any stupid mistakes.”

“There are a lot of teachers,” Jiro voiced everyone’s thoughts.

“I expect you have all gathered information ahead of time and have some idea of what you will be doing,” Aizawa said.

“We’re fighting robot warriors like at the entrance exam, right?!” Kaminari excitedly shouted.

“I can already see the fireworks! I can already taste the curry! Training camp here I come!” Ashido exclaimed, pumping her fist enthusiastically into the air.

“Too bad,” a new and tiny voice said from beside Aizawa. Aizawa’s scarf seemed to wiggle a bit, until a furry and white mouse-like creature popped out. This faintly reminded you of the cute stuffed animals that you adored when you were little.

“For various reasons, the exam will be different this time!” Principal Nezu announced. This sentence seemed to sap all the previous excitement out of Kaminari and Ashido, who stood still, petrified. “From now on, we want to focus on person-to-person combat and hero work!” the Principal explained, lowering himself from Aizawa’s shoulder using his scarf as if rope climbing. “We will focus on teaching that is closer to actual fighting. Today, we’ll have you fight in teams against the teachers!”

“Against the teachers?!” Uraraka echoed in disbelief.

“In addition, each team and the corresponding teacher have already been decided,” Aizawa added on. “These were determined at my discretion based on various factors such as fighting style, grades, and interpersonal relationships.”

He cleared his throat. “First, Todoroki and Yaoyorozu are one team, and they’re fighting me.” His lips pulled up into an unsettling smile. “Next are [Last], Midoriya, and Bakugo on a team.” At this, Bakugo whipped around to narrow his eyes at both of you. Midoriya let out a squeak from beside you. “And their opponent...”

At these words, a shadow appeared in the sky. The large black silhouette against the bright sun steadily became bigger as the figure approached you from the heavens. Impacting the ground like a small meteor, he landed heavily in front of you.

“I will do it,” All Might said with a hint of viciousness in his words.

“All Might?!” the three of you gasped out. A lump of dread formed in your throat. Here he was, standing before you and seemingly brimming with overwhelming power. Although the USJ incident had been months ago, you could still remember as if it were yesterday. While you had barely been able to take one punch from Nomu, All Might completely overwhelmed the creature and beat him to a pulp. Even now, you could still remember the earth breaking, ground crushing strength and intensity behind every one of All Might’s punches against Nomu. How on earth were you guys, three teenagers, expected to beat him?! All Might, the No 1 hero, the skyscraping wall that towered over everyone else… how on earth were you supposed to win?!

“Work together to beat me, you three,” he said, words hardly comforting at all. The rest of the students were split into pairs, and the order of the fights was announced. Your team against All Might would be last, the final battle of the exam, as if the other teachers expected a grand finale or something. Nezu then continued to further explain the exam.

“Each battle will last for thirty minutes. Your objective is either to put these handcuffs on the teacher.” He held up a pair of large yellow handcuffs and shook it for emphasis. “Or to have one of you escape from the stage.”

“This time, your exam will be very similar to a real life battle,” Thirteen clarified. “In a real life situation against a villain, if you think you can win against your opponent, then that’s fine.”

“But if the difference in strength is too great,” Aizawa continued. “Then it would be smarter to run away and get help, as some of you should know.” He emphasized the words ‘some of you’, as if throwing shade at a certain four of you. You purposely avoided his gaze, glancing innocently to the side.

“Fight and win, or run and win,” Midoriya concluded under his breath.

“Fortunately, the students will be given a handicap,” Principal Nezu said. “Each teacher is currently wearing ultra compressed weights on their ankles and wrists,” at this, several teachers held up their wrists to show the students the weights that looked like shiny gauntlets, “This way, it’s harder for them to move and it eats up their stamina.”

“This is to allow us to consider fighting you? You underestimate me,” Bakugo growled.

“All right, each team will take the practical exam one by one on their prepared stage,” Aizawa said. “Sato, Kirishima, you’re first, so get ready,” (both students gave a resounding “Yes!”) “Those waiting their turn can watch the exams or think of strategies as a team. That’s all.” As soon as they were dismissed, many of your classmates began discussing strategies with their teammates.

“Ojiro, I would like to see what we could do with our quirks,” Iida said to his partner.

“Tokoyami, let’s come up with a plan, ribbit.”

“Sero, let’s think of a way to strip Ms Midnight, alright?!” Mineta exclaimed excitedly.

“No, you’re a scumbag,” Sero replied.

“Midoriya, our opponent is All Might,” you said seriously. “There’s no way we can win this if we don’t work together.”

Midoriya nodded. “Yes, the three of us will have to work together.” Now, both of you exchanged an uneasy look before glancing over at Bakugo.

“Hey Kacchan,” Midoriya tried, but as soon as those words left his mouth, Bakugo turned his back to his teammates and left, making his way to the waiting rooms.

“As expected, he doesn’t want to work with us,” you sighed to Midoriya. “Should we make a plan without him?”

“I don’t think so,” Midoriya said, shaking his head. “We need all three of us if we want to pass.”

“Ok Midoriya, you can watch the others fight the teachers. I’ll try to talk some sense into him,” you said before you ran after Bakugo.

***

“Bakugo, please listen to me.” You found him around the corner as he still angrily stalked away. You followed after him, matching the speed of his steps. “We have to work together to-”

“Like hell I’ll work with shitty Deku,” he snarled as you two turned a corner, and continued walking down the empty hallway. “I don’t need his damn power to beat All Might! I want an indisputable first place!”

“Bakugo, this is All Might we’re facing!” you tried to reason with him. “We can’t possibly win against him one-on-one!”

“Yes I can!” he shouted stubbornly, his voice echoing down the empty hallway.

“Dammit, I don’t understand why you hate Midoriya so much, but we have to work together to pass!”

“I will never work with that shitty nerd!” he seethed. You felt your temper wear thin. Quickening your pace, you stepped in front of him. With his path blocked, Bakugo stopped and glared at you.

“Stop being so childish!” you angrily snapped at him, bright eyes staring hotly into those fiery red ones. “Now is not the time for your inferiority complex!”

In the blink of an eye, a large hand grabbed your shoulder and roughly shoved you against the wall. You let out a small gasp of surprise as your back collided with the cold surface. He slammed his hands against the wall on either side of your head, caging you in. A few small bursts of light and sound exploded right beside your ear. You could smell the nitroglycerin emitting from his palms, ready to be ignited at any second.

“Listen here, you bitch,” he said, his voice dangerously low. Now that he wasn’t yelling like normal, his tone somehow sounded more threatening than usual. He lowered his head, meeting you face to face, red eyes glowering furiously into your bright ones. There were less than ten centimetres between your noses. “Get this through your thick head. You and shitty Deku are nothing but roadblocks in my way.”

“Well, get this through your thick head,” you growled back, hands grabbing onto the front of his costume shirt, tightening into fists. “You may be strong, but your power alone is not enough to win.”

“Shut up. I can do it by myself.” His crimson eyes narrowed even further, while you met his fury filled stare fearlessly.

“What is going on here?”

Both of you broke away from your deadly staring match to look at the newcomer quickly approaching you from down the hallway. His usual aloof expression was replaced by displeasure and his heterochromatic eyes were silently glaring at Bakugo.

“Get your hands off her,” Todoroki said as soon as he reached them, his tone frigid and hard as steel. He gripped onto Bakugo’s wrist, roughly pulling it away from the wall beside your head.

“You half half bastard,” Bakugo snarled. He angrily wrenched his wrist out of Todoroki’s grip before tramping his way down the hall.

“Leave me the hell alone!” he bellowed before he disappeared from sight around a corner, leaving you and Todoroki in the empty hallway. You were fuming in rage, your hands clenched into fists by your side. Todoroki turned to you, his displeased expression returning to his usual aloof one.

“Are you alright?” he asked you, voice without a single shred of the frigidity from before.

“Todoroki, you didn’t have to interfere! I had the situation under control!” you told him heatedly, your anger at Bakugo seeping into your words. Todoroki blinked in surprise before his eyes widened, and right away, you felt guilty for snapping at him.

“I’m sorry,” you apologized, feeling ashamed of yourself, staring to the side and not meeting his eyes. “I know you meant well.”

“It’s ok, don’t worry about it,” he said gently. You nodded.

“I should probably find Midoriya now… and tell him the conversation was a train wreck,” you said, muttering the last part under your breath. Dread for the upcoming exam filled you from head to toe. Your team was awful. You didn’t understand at all why someone could hate Midoriya with such a burning passion. And not to mention, Mr Explosion Bombtastic was too prideful, too full of himself to cooperate with you. Worst of all, your opponent was All Might, the absolute strongest person in the world! You started down the hall towards the monitor room, where Midoriya was watching the battles. The footsteps behind you told you that Todoroki was following. He quickly caught up to you and you both continued down the hall, side by side.

“I’m sure you can do it,” he said after a long pause.

“Huh?” You furrowed your brows in confusion.

“I mean, I know your opponent is All Might, but I’m sure you can do it,” he said seriously.

“Oh,” you muttered as you realized that he was trying to comfort you, trying to ease the worries gushing inside of you.

“All Might is incredibly strong, I know. But you’re strong too and I know you can pull through,” Todoroki said genuinely. “I fought you at the Sports Festival, remember? You’re incredible.”

Your cheeks darkened at the unexpected praise. Shoto Todoroki, the preeminent strongest person in the entire grade, was acknowledging your strength. His warm words filled you, and you felt some of the worry dissipate. Your lips pulled into a small bashful smile. “Thanks.”

“I believe in you,” he told you, and you were sure that you saw the corners of his lips pull slightly up as well. Soon enough, the monitor room was within sight down the hall.

“By the way, what were you doing here anyway?” you wondered after a slight pause. “Everyone else is planning strategies with their partners.”

“I heard you yelling, so I came,” he answered simply.

“But shouldn’t you be with Yaoyorozu instead of with me?” you asked, concerned. “Your battle against Mr Aizawa will be the fourth one today, so it’ll be soon.”

“I guess,” he said.

“What do you mean ‘I guess’? Go find Yaoyorozu now! I don’t want you to fail because of me!” you told him frantically. He seemed reluctant to leave, so you pressed your palms flat onto his back and gave him a light push. “Go!” you watched him disappear around the corner before you started towards the monitor room again. Just then, the door slid open, and out stepped Yaoyorozu, nervously wringing her hands while her expression was one of unease. You didn’t blame her for feeling nervous about the exam. Yaoyorozu caught sight of you as the monitor room door closed.

“[Last], have you come to find Midoriya?” she asked. “He’s in the monitor room.”

“Thanks Yaoyorozu,” you said, then pointed down the hallway where Todoroki disappeared. “Todoroki’s looking for you that way.”

“Thank you.” Yaoyorozu said. She sped off after Todoroki as you walked towards the monitor room, and you passed each other. Right before you put your hand on the door, Yaoyorozu’s footsteps stopped.

“[Last],” she called, and you turned around to find Yaoyorozu facing you, gaze downcast. You wondered what Yaoyorozu wanted. You waited for her to continue, but was met with only silence. You pursed your lips.

“Are you nervous about being on a team with Todoroki?” you asked, trying to figure out what’s on Yaoyorozu’s mind. “Don’t worry. I know he used to be kinda mean and quite cold, but he’s much nicer now.”

“It’s not that,” Yaoyorozu said, barely above a whisper. There was a long pause before she continued again, eyes lowered at a spot on the floor. “Todoroki, [Last], and Yaoyorozu,” she muttered, “The three in Class A who got into UA through recommendations.”

“Yeah,” you answered, perplexed. You weren’t quite sure where Yaoyorozu was going with this. Yaoyorozu continued, her voice timid and quiet.

“As students who got into UA through recommendations, we started from the same place,” she went on, still wringing her fingers nervously. “But in terms of the practical skills that a hero needs, I haven’t done anything that stands out.”

You were quickly beginning to understand. “Yaoyorozu, that’s not true,” you tried to say, but Yaoyorozu simply shook her head, her long black ponytail swishing back and forth.

“At the Sports Festival, I lost before I could do anything against Tokoyami,” she admitted, her tone sounding incredibly defeated. “Meanwhile, you won your match against him in only a few seconds.”

“It’s not like that. I’m not invincible,” you said, trying to console her. “I lost against Todoroki, remember?”

“Even when you lost, you went out with a bang that absolutely astounded everyone. And I wasn’t able to do anything.” Here, she raised her head and faced you, and you noticed her eyes were shining with tears. “You’re strong. Much stronger than I am. That is the truth.”

“Yaoyorozu… I think you should have more confidence in yourself.” You weren’t really sure what to say, but words came out nonetheless. “You’re super smart and a lot of our classmates depended on your for the written exam, right? And you managed to pull them all through! That’s amazing of you. I know you have it in you to become an amazing hero.”

But Yaoyorozu simply shook her head at these words, gaze lowered dejectedly to the floor.

“Team Ojiro and Iida have passed the exam. The third match has been concluded and the fourth match will begin soon,” a disembodied male voice announced from within the monitor room. At this, Yaoyorozu let out a surprised “Oh!” and she rushed to mop her wet eyes with her wrists.

“Sorry for bothering you,” she said to you before she turned on her heel and set off on her way.

“No, you weren’t bothering me at all,” you responded, but Yaoyorozu just sped down the hallway, disappearing around the corner just as Todoroki did a few minutes ago.

“Good luck! And have more confidence in yourself!” you called after her, though you weren’t sure that Yaoyorozu heard. Although you weren’t that close with her, you hoped Yaoyorozu would be alright. You sighed before you put your hand on the monitor room door. The automatic door slid open at your command and you stepped into the dark room with an entire wall built into a TV. You spotted Midoriya, Uraraka, Asui, and Recovery Girl all intently watching the screen.

“Midoriya,” you said, and he shifted his attention to you from the TV. “Bakugo’s not gonna cooperate at all. He’s dead set on fighting All Might by himself.”

“I thought so,” Midoriya sighed gloomily. “What can we do against All Might? I think our best choice is to run.”

“You’re right. That seems like our only option to pass this exam,” you agreed as you stepped up beside Uraraka to watch the battles with them. Todoroki and Yaoyorozu were currently on screen. “The fourth match is starting now, right? What happened in the last three matches?”

“Kirishima and Sato were knocked unconscious by Mr Cementoss,” Midoriya said.

“Tokoyami and I were able to cuff Mr Ectoplasm, ribbit,” Asui said brightly.

“Iida pushed Ojiro out of the exit gate,” Uraraka piped up.

“And now it’s team Todoroki and Yaoyorozu’s turn against Mr Aizawa,” Midoriya finished.

“I see,” you said, shifting your attention to the figures on screen. Although the TVs displayed no sound, it was clear that Todoroki was the one who gave out directions while Yaoyorozu followed meekly behind him, unsure of herself. Soon, Aizawa found them, erased Todoroki’s quirk and tied him up, hanging him from a lamp post. Then, you saw Todoroki shout something at Yaoyorozu, and her eyes cleared up as she released him. She and Todoroki worked together to outwit Aizawa and handcuffed him.

As Midoriya and you wished her luck, Uraraka stepped out of the monitor room and quickly made her way to her battle stage with Aoyama. The battles went on and the monitor room started to fill up since the students who were done their exam wanted to watch. Uraraka cleverly used Thirteen’s quirk to approach him, and they cuffed him. Kaminari and Ashido ran out of time as the principal caused buildings to crash down and block their escape paths. Koda and Jiro were initially overwhelmed by Present Mic’s loud voice, until Koda commanded insects to travel underground and surprise attack their opponent. Next, while Shoji distracted Snipe, Hagakure used her invisibility to sneak up and cuff him. The most unexpected outcome for a battle was when the pervert Mineta managed to outwit Midnight. He trapped her at the far end of the battle field so her sleeping gas wouldn’t reach him as he carried the unconscious Sero through the gate.

And now, the tenth and final match was going to start. Most of your classmates were crowded around the TV screen since they had all finished their exams, excited to watch the famous All Might’s battle. They all wished you and Midoriya luck as the two of you made your way out of the room, out of the building, and into the bright light. Your heart was once again pumping with unease as your stomach twisted nervously, and Midoriya beside you was looking downright nauseous. The battle field came into view, and you found Bakugo already standing in front of the large double doors leading inside. As soon as he noticed your arrival, he shot you a venomous glare mixed with a look of deep disgust. Midoriya seemed to wither a bit, while you stared ahead daringly.

The large iron double doors, easily five metres tall, swung open and revealed your battle stage, which resembled an urban city. Colossal buildings towered over you, blocking most of the light from the afternoon sun. Tall metal lighting poles flanked either side of the road that cleaved its way through the city replica. The battle stage was so large that exit gate was no bigger than a tiny pink dot in the distance. Honestly, you wondered where UA got the money to build these extensive and detailed battle stages.

“Team [Last], Midoriya, and Bakugo. Practical Exam,” the same disembodied robotic voice from before announced. “Ready? Go!”

Right away, Bakugo marched forward, not sparing you or Midoriya a second glance. Midoriya quickened his pace as well, chasing after him.

“K-Kacchan,” Midoriya tried, his tone wavering slightly in his fear. Bakugo stared straight ahead, set on ignoring his teammates completely. “For this exam, the teacher is the villain, and we’re the heroes, so we need to keep in mind the villain’s combat ability and choose to either fight or run.”

“We’re facing All Might here,” you said grimly beside Midoriya. “The difference between our strength and his is too much.”

“Fighting against him is dangerous,” Midoriya warned, his frightened green eyes wide open. “I think it’s a very bad idea anyway-”

“Stop following me!” Bakugo bellowed, finally acknowledging your presence. Midoriya and you exchanged nervous looks, both thinking among the same thing: if you three keep pushing onward like this, All Might is surely waiting for you and will strike.

“I think we should take a detour,” Midoriya suggested timidly.

“Why should we run away?” Bakugo heatedly challenged, still advancing straight ahead. “It’ll definitely be better if we beat him up!”

“But don’t you see?!” you asked, exasperated. “We’re against All Might, the strongest person in the world!”

“We should avoid combat if we can, no matter what,” Midoriya said, but Bakugo drowned out Midoriya’s voice with his own.

“We’ll toy with him until it’s almost over!” Bakugo yelled, fury dripping off each word. “And once he’s tired out, I’ll beat him up!” Bakugo then pushed on down the street, pointedly trying to leave you behind. Midoriya ran after him, and called him again.

“Kacchan! Who do you think All Might is?! Even with the handicap, you can’t win against him!”

Following Midoriya’s words, it seemed like Bakugo’s temper finally snapped as he flung the back of his fist across Midoriya’s face. Your eyes widened in shock. A resounding smack echoed off the walls of the buildings as Midoriya sailed through the air, before landing roughly on his back. He clutched his mouth and trembled on the ground.

“Bakugo?! What the hell?!” you demanded shrilly. You dropped to your knees beside Midoriya, and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. You carefully nudged his hand away from his mouth so you could examine his swollen lip. “Are you alright?” you asked him, and he meekly nodded.

“Don’t say another word, Deku,” Bakugo growled out at Midoriya, in the same dangerous and low tone he used with you in the hallway before. “Just because things are going better for you doesn’t mean you should talk. It’s pissing me off.”

“Bakugo, control your damn ego!” you screamed at him as he angrily stalked forward again. “We can’t pass at this rate!”

“Wait Kacchan!” Midoriya yelled at him. “I’m saying this so we can pass the exam!”

“And I’m telling you, your power isn’t needed to pass!” Bakugo roared.

“Stop yelling!” Midoriya said desperately. “This is why we can never have a real conversation!”

“Look out!” you shouted over both of them as what looked like a giant dust cloud rushed at you from the exit gate’s direction. You threw yourself in front of your teammates, shielding them from the rapidly approaching tornado of dust. The raging winds reached them, and you raised your hands, fingers outstretched, your mind furiously hammering out calculations to counter this enormous force. The dust clouded your vision, and you could hear the screeching of bending metal, the loud rumble of buildings collapsing, the shattering of glass, and the surprised yells behind you from Midoriya and Bakugo. The violent winds all but knocked the breath out of you, and you couldn’t even draw breath without inhaling a lungful of dust. Your head rapidly became dizzy, but you willed every bit of your strength to resist.

Those few seconds seemed to last an eternity, but eventually the dust storm cleared a bit. A bit of visibility returned and you saw the level of damage that the one blow from All Might caused. Panting from the effort of shielding your teammates from the devastating force, you looked around, and saw that the city replica was almost unrecognizable. The pavement road on which you had previously been walking had crumbled away into nothing but dirt. The buildings that used to surround the road had half of their structure blown away, and they all teetered dangerously. Bits of rubble and shattered glass littered the ground all around you.

“Who gives a damn about damaging the city?!” All Might’s voice shouted. He appeared from behind the still clearing dust, and a dangerous sense of intimidation caused you to shiver.

“What is this power?” you gasped out breathlessly. Even from this distance, you could sense the obvious overwhelming power that resided within him. That completely overwhelming power resembled a mountain that reached the heavens, a skyscraping tower that stood over everyone else. How on earth were you supposed to win against All Might? This mass of pure strength? This complete monster? Right now, the three students resembled nothing but flightless sparrows in the face of the starving wolf.

“If you think of this as an exam, you’ll be sorry! I am a villain, you heroes!” he roared, a maniacal glint flickering within his raging ocean blue eyes as he advanced toward them. “Come at me with everything you’ve got!”

Chapter Text

“Wow! All Might really is cool!” a little boy cried out in wonder, excited red eyes glued to the TV screen. The friends surrounding him watched with him, oohing and aahing as the famous All Might fought heroically, single handedly against four strong villains.

“Look! Did you see that?!” Katsuki Bakugo shouted, absolutely thrilled as All Might landed an impressive right hook on one of the villains and knocked him out cold. “You’d think he’d totally lose four-on-one, right? But look!” And here, little Katsuki leapt around on his tiny legs, swinging around his tiny fists and kicking his tiny feet, eagerly trying to imitate All Might’s punches and kicks. The little green haired boy beside Katsuki cheered him on. “Like this! And that! And he won! No matter how much trouble he’s in, he always wins in the end!”

As he saw All Might standing victoriously above the fallen villains, admiration swelled up inside his tiny chest. Pure awe lit his face up, and he beamed brighter than the sun. All Might, the strongest person in the world, always fought his opponents, no matter what. No matter the obstacle, no matter the hurdle, All Might always pushed through with a smile upon his face. Each and every time, All Might remained triumphant, as cool and awe inspiring as ever, completely unbeatable.

And so, little Katsuki realized that All Might won his fights because he never ran away, that he won because he never lost the will to fight and always kept battling on, no matter what. And little Katsuki realized that he would like that for himself as well. To rise above any hurdle. To push through any obstacle thrown in his way. To be the coolest, the absolute best in the whole wide world.

And so, little Katsuki vowed to himself that he would work hard to rise to the top, and become just as cool and amazing as All Might. Because that’s what it meant to be a real hero.

***

“If you think of this as an exam, you’ll be sorry! I am a villain, you heroes!” All Might roared, a maniacal glint flickering within his raging ocean blue eyes as he advanced toward you three. “Come at me with everything you’ve got!”

Midoriya let out a gasp of terror. “We can’t take him on! Let’s run!” he said as he leapt onto his feet and started to retreat.

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Bakugo bellowed right as All Might kicked off from the ground and shot towards Bakugo.

“Bakugo, let’s go!” you cried out in worry, but instead of retreating, Bakugo raised his outstretched hands in front of himself.

“Stun Grenade!” The whole scene was lighted in a blinding whiteness. While All Might’s vision was robbed, Bakugo seized the chance to attack, revving his arm back behind him. “You said to come at you?! Even if you didn’t say anything, I was gonna do that-!” Before he could finish his sentence, Bakugo was rudely interrupted as All Might’s massive hand shot out and gripped his face. Any normal person would have instinctively pulled back, but not Bakugo. Instead, with a shout of rage, Bakugo stuck his hand out at All Might and let off a barrage of explosions straight into All Might’s face. However, even at the point blank range, All Might remained unfazed, tightened his grip around Bakugo’s face, and whipped Bakugo into the ground, creating a small crater at his feet.

“Such weak consecutive hits are not enough to beat me,” All Might scoffed as Midoriya and you watched in shock. In a flash, he appeared out of thin air behind Midoriya, faster than Midoriya could even react.

“You’re not off the hook either, Young Midoriya,” said All Might’s powerful deep voice, and it was all Midoriya could do to whip around in time to see All Might deliver another potent punch. Just as All Might’s almighty fist was about to collide into Midoriya’s face, you sprung between them, pushing Midoriya out of the way as you turned to face All Might in his stead.

“MIDORIYA! RUN!” you shrieked as All Might’s hit collided with your forearm.

Barbaric. Vigorous. Merciless. Cruel. A thousand adjectives could describe the massive, titanic force that felt like it was about to snap your arm like a twig. You desperately resisted, mindpower and quirk pushed to overdrive in order to counter this force, this absolute savagery. This feeling was exactly like your encounter with Nomu at USJ, as you were faced against the complete and utter strength. Cold beads of sweat rolled down your temple. Goosebumps erupted all over your body. All Might revved back his free hand and you countered another punch from him. You were forgetting to breathe. Your legs felt like water, about to collapse at any moment, and you were barely able to keep standing as your forearm trembled against All Might’s blow.

While you desperately held back All Might, behind you, heeding your words, Midoriya leapt back towards the exit gate. At the same time, Bakugo had gotten up from the ground and lunged himself once again at All Might, set to fight and defeat him. It was like watching a train crash in slow motion. The two of them collided harshly with each other in midair, each impeding the other, and landed roughly on the ground with two consecutive thuds.

“What the hell guys?!” you managed to gasp out, struggling against the relentless punches. Sensing the sliver of your hesitation, the single flicker in your concentration, All Might seized this chance to completely overwhelm you. He swung the back of his hand across your face. Pain erupted across your body, and you were sent hurtling off to the side into an alleyway.

“[Last]!” Midoriya called out after you before turning to Bakugo. “Kacchan, [Last]’s down-”

“Move,” Bakugo grunted.

“I told you, there’s no way you can win facing him head on!” How does Bakugo not realize? How could Midoriya make him understand? Midoriya frantically thought, but his mind remained empty.

“Shut up. I’ll win,” Bakugo simply said, facing straight ahead at All Might. “That’s what it means to be a real hero!”

Midoriya blinked, a scene from his childhood with Bakugo flashing into his mind. A scene where they both stood in front of the TV, absolutely thrilled when watching All Might fight. And Midoriya understood.

“Then it’s even more important to avoid-” Midoriya tried again, putting a hand on Bakugo’s shoulder, which he hastily brushed off.

“Let go! Don’t touch me!”

Their brief spat was interrupted when all of a sudden, All Might dived at them with a piece of broken railing in his hands.

“Here’s a present for the one who wants to run away!” he shouted, pinning Midoriya to the ground with the railing, trapping him. In the next second, All Might ruthlessly buried his fist into Bakugo’s stomach. It was as if in slow motion, as all of the vigor and energy of that bone crushing strike was transformed into pure pain for Bakugo as he was sent through the air. He crashed back onto the earth, and his stomach lurched, and he hurled and coughed on the ground, gulping and heaving.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya screeched, trapped underneath the railing.

“I know why you’re so angry. It’s because of Young Midoriya’s sudden improvement, right?” All Might said calmly as he walked towards Bakugo, who was struggling to get up.

“Shut up,” Bakugo muttered, uncharacteristically weakly.

“But you know, there’s no way Level 1 power and Level 50 power can improve at the same rate. There’s so much wasted potential in you. Do you understand?” All Might went on, breaking his villain facade, his tone taking on a softer one. “You have so much room to grow! But I’m not talking about power-”

“Shut up, All Might,” Bakugo said a bit louder this time, but still doubled over in pain. It looked as if all the fight, all the life had been sapped out of his body. “If I have to get help from that scum, then I’d rather lose.”

“I see,” All Might said, registering Bakugo’s words. All Might clenched his fist once again, preparing for the final blow against Bakugo, before-

“Get away from him, All Might!” shouted a shrill voice, as a large lighting pole came hurtling his way. All Might ducked, barely dodging the hunk of metal, becoming pleasantly surprised when he saw his new challenger.

“Oh, so you’re still conscious,” he noted at you.

“Midoriya! Help Bakugo!” you shouted, swinging the metal pole around like a baseball bat at All Might again. Meanwhile, Midoriya had heaved the metal railing off of himself. He lunged at Bakugo, and immediately sank his fist into Bakugo’s face.

“Don’t you say that you’d rather lose!” Midoriya roared at his childhood friend, knocking some sense into him before catching him and hopping into an alleyway. And with a final swing of the lighting post, you collided it into the ground with a bang. A massive cloud of dust erupted beneath your feet, and it acted as your cover as you ran to join Midoriya and Bakugo.

Midoriya, clutching Bakugo, and you kept running down the alleyway, trying to put as much space between you three and All Might as possible, your heavy breathing echoing off the walls flanking you. You and Midoriya intended to keep running, and kept twisting and turning around corners, until Bakugo shoved an elbow into the back of Midoriya’s neck. Midoriya gasped, dropping his childhood friend with a thud. All three of you stopped to rest, panting and gasping for breath.

“Ok, we can’t face him head on like that again,” you said breathlessly, brushing your disheveled hair out of your face. “We need to think of something else.”

“But [Last], you can counter his attacks, right?” Midoriya asked, trying to catch his breath.

“I have a limit. After I pass that limit, my quirk won’t work the way I want it to, and it’s best not to push that limit,” you admitted, leaning against the wall for support, your chest heaving up and down. “I was able to cancel most of his punches so far, but his hits are brutal. I’m quickly approaching that limit. I can’t hold on for much more of this. We have to think of something.”

There was a pause as the two of you thought hard about your next course of action. The seconds passed as your heavy breathing all gradually returned to normal.

“I really can’t think of a way to beat All Might, or a way to make a clean escape,” Midoriya confessed after a while, before you both looked over at Bakugo, who was sitting in a crumpled heap beside the wall.

“This is uncharacteristic… Bakugo being quiet,” you said. This calm Bakugo was rather unsettling.

“Kacchan, before you give up, at least try using me! At least try using us! Don’t say you’re ok with losing!” Midoriya’s voice gradually raised with every sentence, cracking with the last few words. As much as Bakugo was a jerk, Midoriya hated seeing him like that, looking so defeated. “You’re you because you never give up on winning, right?”

Bakugo remained silent, blankly staring at the ground. You quietly watched as Midoriya continued, in faint surprise as the usually timid and meek Midoriya yelled his heart out.

“Remember in first grade, when you won a fight against two fourth graders! Remember what you said back then! The most amazing hero always wins in the end right?!” Midoriya shouted, beside himself in frustration, his effort to reach Bakugo. “I admired you so much because you never gave up! You’ve been saying that ever since we were kids!”

“Deku...” Midoriya’s outburst seemed to have woken Bakugo, as something lit up behind his eyes once again.

“I think I understand now,” you said as you made your way towards Bakugo. You kneeled down, meeting him at face level, and rested a soft hand on his shoulder. You gathered your thoughts, choosing your words carefully. You took a breath.

“Listen to me Bakugo,” you began, patiently and gently as his red eyes peered into yours. “You’re strong, extremely strong. Everyone knows that. Everyone acknowledges that.” Your serious bright eyes unwavered against his intense red ones. “It’s fine to have pride, but in order to advance and become true heroes, we have to acknowledge our weakness too. In order to win, we must know our weaknesses, our limits, and find a way to work through them.”

Bakugo said nothing as your words seeped into him as well, swirling around his mind.

“Come on Bakugo, stop being all sentimental. This is not like you,” you said lightheartedly with a gentle smile. “Your first name is Katsuki. Katsu means to win, right?” You got back up to your feet, standing over him and holding your hand out at him. “Now stand up. We’re in the middle of an exam.”

“Hey I don’t need you to pull me up,” he muttered, and he nevertheless reached up and grabbed hold of your hand, and let you drag him up. You then turned to Midoriya, who was staring at you with an expression mixed between shock and hope.

“Now, Midoriya wants to run and Bakugo wants to fight,” you said, facing both of your teammates. Your fingers brushed against your costume skirt, against your purple shorts underneath, against the pouch strapped to your thigh. “And I have an idea. The only way to win against him is to both fight and run.”

“[Last],” Midoriya muttered, his eyes shining. “I trust you. I believe in whatever idea you have.”

“Alright, let’s do this,” Bakugo growled with renewed energy, and you were glad that he was back to his old self.

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m wearing shorts underneath my costume skirt,” you said wryly before turning to Bakugo. “Ok Bakugo, are those small grenades attached to your belt only for decoration or are they real?”

***

All Might ran around the city, searching, combing the grounds for the three students. Where had they run off to? Are they going to aim straight for the escape gate? Where on earth are they hiding?

All of a sudden, two shadows slid behind him from an alleyway entrance.

“Where are you looking?!” Bakugo roared as both he and you whirled in the air and attacked All Might at the same time. Countless explosions fired from Bakugo’s open hands while you lifted a fallen tree off the ground and swung it at All Might. Anticipating this attack from behind, All Might twisted around, readying himself to counterattack.

In the next moment, both Bakugo and you leapt out of the way as a new shadow slid behind All Might.

“Deku! Now!” Bakugo commanded, as Midoriya aimed Bakugo’s Grenadier Bracer at the No 1 hero and pulled the pin, detonating it at point blank range into All Might’s face. The scene itself exploded in a display of light and smoke and sound. The ground shook beneath your feet, but you three snatched the chance to escape, running straight to the exit gate as All Might was lost in the explosion. The exit gate gradually approached as the three of you thudded down the street, dust and rubble crunching underneath your feet.

“Damn, he sent that first blast from the exit gate at us all the way in the middle,” Bakugo said, a certain note of awe in his words.

“We’re almost there!” you encouraged, your heart pumping in your chest.

“All Might doesn’t seem to be chasing us...” Midoriya said hopefully, sneaking a glance across his shoulder.

“Deku! There’s no way we knocked him out with that explosion!” Bakugo yelled. “Next time, it’ll be my turn to blow him up with my Bracer!”

“Yes, yes, and then what?” asked a cold and deep voice.

The three of you gasped all at once. You lunged at the teammate nearest to you, Midoriya, and pushed him out of the way. Bakugo tried to aim his Bracer at All Might, but before he could pull the pin, the Bracer was blown into bits and pieces.

“What are you surprised about?” All Might asked, sneering at you three, completely engrossed in his role as the villain. He jumped and thrust his knee into Bakugo’s chin, sending him crashing into a nearby building as Midoriya and you watched in horror across the street. In a flash, All Might disappeared from sight.

“Bakugo!” you yelled after him.

“[Last], look out!” Midoriya screeched in a sharp and terrified warning.

You let out a confused “Huh?” before All Might suddenly appeared in front of you, his fist pulled back. You barely had the time to focus your energy before All Might struck his punch into your temple. You felt the violent air currents whip through your hair and clothes. Despite the reflection shield from your quirk, your head felt like it would crack open from the intensity of the force.

And just like that, you felt the reflection shield shatter into nothingness. You had completely depleted your quirk energy. You were at your limit. The remaining force from his punch that you had not been able to cancel hit you like a truck and you were sent crashing into the wall beside you. When you opened your eyes, you saw doubles of everything. Your head was pounding. Your ears were ringing. Something warm and wet trickled down your temple, and when you dabbed at it with your hand, you realized it was blood.

“[Last]!” you heard Midoriya’s voice, which echoed strangely as if he were yelling at you from the end of a tunnel. Bakugo leapt out of the building, launching himself into the air and straight at All Might. Anticipating this, All Might grabbed onto Midoriya’s wrist and flung him at Bakugo, brutally crashing both of them into the ground in one fell swoop. Bits of the ground erupted and flew into the heavens from the impact. When the explosion cleared, you managed to pull yourself up into a sitting position, and saw both of your teammates on the ground, crumpled and buckled underneath All Might’s foot, under his pure and overwhelming strength. When All Might lifted his foot, neither Midoriya nor Bakugo moved. Neither of them got up. Satisfied with the result, All Might started towards you as you struggled to get back onto your feet.

“What are you going to do now, little girl?!” All Might taunted viciously, advancing step by step towards you. “What will you do in this cruel world?!”

You breathed heavily, sparing a brief glance at your motionless teammates collapsed on the ground, before breaking off into a sprint to the exit gate.

“Here I come!” All Might exclaimed before he rushed at you with inhuman speed. You managed to sidestep it by a hair’s breadth as his fist sailed right by your ear. However, even though you dodged the punch itself, the resulting shock wave was enough to knock you off your feet and backwards into the wall behind you. Fireworks exploded in front of your eyes as the back of your head slammed into the bricks, and you struggled to blink away the dizziness.

“Here I come again!” All Might announced, and it was all you could do to fling yourself out of the way and into the air. The wall where you rested moments ago took the blast and shattered into a hundred pieces. A large piece of the rubble collided harshly with the small of your back, knocking the breath out of you. You roughly fell to the ground, the horizon spinning in your vision as your body rolled and skid to a stop. You coughed, gasping for air as you feebly struggled to peel yourself off of the ground. The tall buildings beside you teetered dangerously, result of All Might’s complete brutality as he fought, as he pushed you to your limits.

Fight, fight! your own voice shouted at you from within your mind as a violent urge pulsed from within. This urge, animalistic and savage, deep within the depths of your being pounded against you, begging to be set free. Immediately, you knew what it was. It tempted you with power, with overwhelming strength to match All Might’s. You must give in! You must fight!

“Like hell I’ll give in to you,” you muttered coldly to it, wiping the dirt and grime off your cheek. You could feel it growl and snarl in fury at you as you shut it down. All Might rushed at you once again, moving so quickly that he left behind phantom mirages of himself, and once again, you kicked off the ground, dodging the deathly blow by a centimetre. As soon as you rolled back onto your feet, you ducked into a nearby building, which teetered dangerously. Your hair and skirt whipping behind you, dust raining down upon you from above, you sprinted up the stairs, determined to put as much distance between you and All Might as possible.

“You know, you only caged yourself in!” All Might called out after you. He stepped into the building as well and followed up the stairs in leisure, hoping you had something better planned than simply running away and hiding. Your teammates were down, and everything rested on you now, and as your teacher, he hoped you were quick enough to think of another strategy against him. Eventually, he heard your footsteps stop above him. He sighed as he advanced, and was even more let down when he spotted your skirt poking out from behind a door on the next floor.

Nevertheless, he readied a punch, deciding to end the disappointment of an exam in one quick blow. But as soon as his punch shattered the door into splinters of wood, dust erupted in the room, clouding his vision, blinding him. The flimsy and ripped skirt, and only the skirt, lay in his hand.

“What is this?! A smoke bomb?” he gasped out. Right away, through the dust cloud, he heard a metallic tinkling behind him in the direction of the stairs. You stood on the flight above, unseen by your opponent, holding a grenade you got from Bakugo, and pulled the pin out with your teeth before you threw it downstairs and into the room.

“No, not a smoke bomb,” he said in realization as the grenade landed at his feet and exploded, igniting the fine particles of dust suspended in the air. Your heart fluttered against your ribs. The windows fractured and burst into pieces. Several explosions detonated from outside as well, blasting through the building supports, obviously Bakugo’s doing. The floor erupted beneath All Might’s feet, as the building started to crumble and fall. Immediately, you bounded with leaping strides, chased by the explosion behind you, and smashed your way straight through a cracked window and plunged into the nothingness below.

As you fell helplessly, like a wingless bird, your mind swam with thoughts, and you couldn’t help but smile despite the wind hitting your face. Your plan had proceeded perfectly. Before your team encountered All Might again, you had filled the pouch strapped to your thigh with fine dust and explained the physics behind a dust explosion to your teammates. While Midoriya and Bakugo had pretended to be unconscious, you had lured All Might into a confined space, hid the dust filled pouch in your skirt, set your skirt up as bait, and waited patiently for him to come. Meanwhile, outside, Bakugo waited for the signal of the dust explosion before blowing up the building supports in a cloud of smoke. Your plan had rolled out perfectly. But now, as the building started falling behind you, the ground was approaching you faster than you would have liked. And if you hit the ground and die now, well, that would certainly be a dumb way to kick the bucket.

However, in a flash of green, Midoriya scooped you into his arms out of the air, sparing you from that dumb way to die.

“I’ve got you now,” Midoriya assured you. Wrapping your arms around his neck, steadying yourself so you wouldn’t fall, wind pleasantly sweeping through your hair, you couldn’t help but laugh in relief at how well it worked out. As soon as you touched down on the ground, he set you back onto your feet and you both broke off into a run towards the exit gate. A flash of light and smoke erupted from beside you, and a glance to your left told you that Bakugo caught up too.

“[Last]! Your plan was brilliant!” Midoriya yelled from beside you, the screeches from the falling building still echoing across the grounds.

“Hey [Last], you might just be slightly less useless than the others!” Bakugo shouted amidst all the noise.

“I knew we needed more force against him! So I thought, hey, why not make a building fall on top of him!” you yelled back humorously.

Abruptly, the brief celebratory atmosphere was lost as you all heard a resounding bang and rumble coming from behind you. All three of you seemed to have turned in slow motion as you saw the large building’s roof being blown completely apart from an inside force. Next moment, a lone figure stood on top of the fallen building before he disappeared from sight.

“Oh no,” you muttered in disbelief.

“Oh crap,” Midoriya said in terror.

“Oh shit!” Bakugo yelled in anger. Right away, Bakugo wrapped his fingers roughly around Midoriya’s collar, gripping Midoriya’s wrist in his other hand. “Deku! I’m sending you flying to the gate!”

“Huh?!” Midoriya yelped.

“I don’t like it, but it’s the only way to win right now!” Bakugo bellowed, aiming upward before firing Midoriya straight over his shoulder. With a resounding bang and a burst of smoke, Midoriya was sent flying into the air. And, as if reappearing from nothingness, All Might dived at Midoriya and swatted him out of the air, as easily as one would swat away an annoying fly. Midoriya crashed into the ground, and it felt like something inside of him exploded. Bakugo wasted no time, launching straight at All Might, and immediately set off the same huge explosion he used against Uraraka at the Sports Festival. It seemed like the atmosphere itself erupted into flame and smoke.

“GO DEKU, [Last]!” Bakugo roared as his arms throbbed painfully from overusing his quirk. He seemed to writhe in agony in midair, but bit back the pain as he continued to fire off his maximum power against All Might. You, in your quirkless state, broke off into a sprint towards Midoriya, as Bakugo pummeled All Might with explosions. Despite Bakugo’s best efforts, All Might tore through the smoke, plunging straight towards Midoriya. You felt your body move on its own, before your mind could even think and remember that you had used up your quirk limit. You threw yourself in front of Midoriya, flung your arms wide, and grit your teeth determinedly. You used yourself as a shield, bright fire blazing behind your burning eyes, and in this instant, All Might seemed to hesitate a bit as you stared at him with those burning eyes, those eyes that resembled your mother’s so much. He seemed to pause, to struggle with himself.

But in the next instant, All Might charged at you again like a furious raging bull. Before he reached you, Bakugo bounded into place in front of you, determined to take the blow in your stead. In one unforgiving strike, All Might pummeled Bakugo straight into you, knocking you both down onto the ground, which cracked beneath the bone crushing blow. You experienced a blinding, disgusting pain in your arm and the back of your skull as your vision darkened to black and your body went completely limp beneath All Might’s hand.

“Go to sleep, Young [Last], Young Bakugo,” All Might murmured solemnly, but right after he finished his sentence, a hand shot up, clasped around his forearm, and let off a small blast of smoke.

“Even if it means I break, even if it means I twist myself, I’ll win the way I choose.” Although Bakugo said those words in a weak voice, his fighting spirit was unmistakable. “There’s no way I’ll accept a loss like this! No way!” And he sank his teeth into All Might’s hand, before passing out shortly after.

“Please move out of the way, All Might!” Midoriya shouted. He was not thinking anymore. Although the exit gate was right in front of him, although he could have passed if he had gone through the gate by himself, he couldn’t leave his teammates behind.

“SMASH!” he bellowed as he drove his clenched fist into All Might’s cheek with every bit of strength he had, knocking the teacher off his feet. As All Might was dazed, Midoriya quickly hooked an arm around Bakugo’s waist, swung you over his shoulder, and broke off straight through the exit gate.

“Team [Last], Midoriya, and Bakugo have passed the exam,” the robotic male voice from before announced through the speakers, broadcasting your triumph. The monitor room burst into noise, your classmates cheering wildly for the amazing fight against All Might. “All matches for Class 1A’s practical exams have been completed!”

***

Several hours later, you woke up in a greatly warm and cozy bed. The white curtains swayed lightly in the breeze from the open window. The light from the setting sun dyed the white clinic room with a soft orange glow. You blinked, letting your eyes adjust to the light before you looked around the room and caught sight of the person sitting on a chair beside the bed.

“You’re awake,” Todoroki said to you.

“I guess I am,” you noted. You sat up, the covers falling to your lap, and your forehead felt quite heavy and was wrapped up in something. When you raised your dominant hand to try to feel it, you noticed that your wrist was stiffly wrapped in bandages as well. You tried rotating it, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Your injuries were quite bad. You had a cracked skull, a broken wrist, as well as several broken ribs,” Todoroki said. “Recovery Girl healed you, but she has to perform another session tomorrow. You’ll have to spend the night.”

“How long was I out?”

“Five hours.”

You blinked and gasped as you remembered passing out before the battle was concluded. “Oh no! The match! All Might! Midoriya and Bakugo!” you screeched, your words almost incoherent as all the memories flooded back to you. You bolted upright, flung the covers off yourself, and swung your legs off the bed.

“Hey, take it easy,” Todoroki told you firmly, getting up off his chair.

As you hastily shot up onto your feet, your head suddenly felt like it would split open. The world spun before your eyes and your body felt incredibly heavy as you swayed dizzily. Before you could fall, Todoroki was there. He scooped you up, holding you in his strong arms, effortlessly carrying your weight. Normally, you would have blushed lightly and pushed him away, but you were currently too busy gripping your painfully pounding head.

“Take it easy,” he told you again as you tried catching your breath. He set you back onto your bed. “You passed. Midoriya and Bakugo are resting in the next room. Their injuries are lighter than yours. They’re fine.”

“That’s good to hear,” you said in relief, still massaging your throbbing head with your uninjured hand.

“Oh, and Uraraka and Iida dropped by when you were still asleep,” he said as he pulled a white envelope out of his pocket, then held it out to you. “This is from Uraraka.”

You reached out for it and opened it. As you pulled the card out of the envelope, your lips pulled into a grin, despite the pain in your head. Reggie the Bear was on the cover with a speech bubble that said ‘Get Well Soon!’. You sighed happily, your insides gushing at the cuteness.

Oh Uraraka.

A few seconds passed as the pain in your head gradually subsided. You raised your attention from the card and faced Todoroki again, before asking, “Were you here for a long time?”

“No, I’ve only been here for a little bit,” he said calmly. This was a lie. He had been sitting here for the full five hours, worriedly waiting for you to wake up. Also, he conveniently left out the part where he brushed your bangs out of your face every time a strand fell across. “You must be hungry, right? I’ll get you something to eat.”

“No Todoroki, I can do it myself,” you protested, swinging your feet over the bed again. “I can’t inconvenience you like that.”

“No, you should get some rest. I’ll take care of it,” he said, pushing you gently back onto your mattress. He then opened the drawer beside your bed, pulled out the shirt and pants inside, and handed them to you. “These are hospital pajamas if you want to change out of your hero costume.”

“Thanks Todoroki,” you said, embarrassed but grateful. He nodded at you before he got up and made his way to the door.

“I’ll be back,” he called over his shoulder, before he slid the door closed behind him, leaving you with your privacy. However, when he got back a few minutes later, his insides twisted with displeasure as he found a certain grape boy with his hand on the clinic room door. Todoroki’s hands tightened around the tray of food he was carrying.

“Just one peek. I can sense her changing inside. No one will notice if I just peek,” Mineta muttered to himself, shaking with excitement, unaware of the presence behind him. He began to slide the door open.

“What are you doing?” Todoroki demanded, voice cold as he knew exactly what Mineta was doing. But his words had the desired effect as Mineta jolted and spun around immediately, sweating bullets.

“Hey Todoroki, uh, nice weather we’re having,” Mineta said nervously, quickly shutting the door crack behind his back. Todoroki narrowed his eyes in silent intimidation. Mineta caved and started to babble almost incoherently. “Ok fine, [Last]’s hot, alright?! We all saw her in those shorts today! I mean, that face and that ass-”

Mineta fell silent as soon as he caught sight of the look on Todoroki’s face. Todoroki looked absolutely murderous, with his usually cool mismatched eyes gleaming in hot and icy rage. Without the need for him to speak, Todoroki sent Mineta a message through his deathly glare, telling him that he has mere seconds to scram before he gets either frozen into an icicle or burned to a crisp. Mineta understood immediately and let out a terrified squeak before he scrambled down the hall, running for his life.

Wrathfully satisfied with his effect, and after he was sure that Mineta was gone, Todoroki knocked on the door, not wanting to intrude on your privacy.

“Come in,” he heard you call from inside the room. He slid open the door and stepped into your room, before taking his seat beside you and setting the tray of food on his lap. His eyes met yours, and he suddenly felt a swooping sensation in his stomach area. Even though you were dressed in the plain hospital pajamas, even though your forehead was bundled in bandages, to him, you were still absolutely breathtaking. As the soft orange hues from the setting sun shined through the window, you were glowing, shining so brightly like an angel.

“What’s wrong?” you asked as you noticed the look on his face, leftover from his encounter with Mineta. “You don’t look happy.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, straightening his face. “I brought you food.”

“Thanks Todoroki,” you said, rubbing the back of your head bashfully with you uninjured hand. “I’m sorry for inconveniencing you so much.”

“You’re not inconveniencing me at all,” he told you firmly. After making sure the tray was secure on his lap, he unwrapped the spoon from the napkin. He dipped it into the bowl of hot stew and carefully raised it to your mouth.

“Wait wait wait Todoroki, what are you doing?” you yelped in alarm, nudging his arm away from you.

“Your hand’s all messed up,” he said simply to you, still holding the spoonful of stew. “It’s easier this way.”

“No it’s not! I can move it just fine! See?!” Here, you pointedly tried to twist your bandaged dominant wrist, but you winced when a sudden jolt of pain shot through your arm.

“You see? It’s my hand crusher curse again,” he sighed, his eyelids lowered. “Every time I get involved with someone, I mess up their hand.”

“What are you saying?! You weren’t involved at all!” you yelled, exasperated. “I was teamed with Midoriya and Bakugo. You weren’t anywhere near when this-” you held up your wrist for effect “-happened, so stop beating yourself up.”

But Todoroki shook his head, still looking quite dejected. The guilty aura around him made you feel guilty as well. “Just let me do this, alright?” he asked softly as he held the spoonful of stew up again. A few moments of silence passed as the two of you looked at each other, into each other’s eyes in a gentle staring contest.

“Fine, you win this time,” you muttered, looking away, cheeks lighting up in pink.

“Thanks,” Todoroki said.

“What are you thanking me for? I should be thanking you,” you murmured as Todoroki raised the spoonful of warm stew. It rested tenderly on your bottom lip, waiting patiently for your mouth to open. Your cheeks darkened, but you obediently opened your mouth, taking it in begrudgingly. And, as you were purposefully avoiding eye contact with him, you didn’t notice his soft smile, filled with a warmth and tenderness just for you as he took care of you.

Chapter Text

Ok, I just started my second semester, and this semester is gonna be a lot harder than last semester. I also just got a job, and I have to start my applications for summer jobs. Welp, there goes my free time :’((((

I am a second year university student majoring in biomedical sciences, so i don’t have a lot of free time in the first place, but i find that writing helps me to destress and it makes me happy. the new semester has started and it’s gonna be harder than the last one...

I’m sorry to say this, but i’m going on hiatus (again ;--------;). BUT I WILL RETURN! I’ll start posting again in April when boku no hero season 3 starts!!!

Just because I’ve taken a break from posting, doesn’t mean i’ve stopped working on the fanfic. Of course, I’ll still be writing new chapters, but I won’t be posting until April. This is to give myself enough time to read through what i’ve written and edit. And also, as mentioned above, boku no hero is coming back in april, and some of you guys might be anime only fans, so that’s another reason why i’ll resume in april.

Ok, the truth is this story is not a "true" reader insert. what i mean by that is the original version of this story is the one with my OC, and i take chapters from that story and edit it to tailor it into a reader insert. because of that, some parts might sound a bit awkward... sigh but it is what it is.

i’ve written everything up until chapter 19 already, but haven’t published chapters 16-19 yet. They’re sitting in my google drive because this is the way i write. I write the chapters, then let them sit in my google drive for at least a month, AND make sure that i have around a 5 chapter buffer or something between what i’ve posted and what i’ve written so far. I do this so that it’s easy for me to go back and change things that i don’t like if i read it another day, and it’s easier for me to edit my mistakes on something that i haven’t posted yet. This is to ensure that the quality of my writing doesn’t drop below a certain threshold because my expectations for this story in terms of themes, plot elements, symbolism, description, character portrayal and development, etc are high, and i’d rather work on something for a long time and have it come out perfect, than post something that’s premature and doesn’t meet my standards (lool but of course, i may let a typo or two slip by all my editing every once in a while). Even before i started writing this story, i spent at least a month planning everything out in my head and writing a summary guide for myself to follow so that the final product is as good as possible (i know my first few chapters were a bit slow and kinda dry, but i’m planning to go back and rewrite them when i’m done writing the story itself).

Thank you for your understanding, patience, and for reading. Thank you for everyone who reads this story. Thank you for everyone who gives hearts and comments. I always get so excited when i see that i have a notification for a comment and reading all of them makes me so happy :’))))

Thanks for reading, and here’s the link to the smut :) (I can’t post it here or else i’ll have to label this story as mature). it's the second chapter

https://www.quotev.com/story/10504846/Smut-from-Limitless-Todoroki-x-OCReader/2

Thank you guys for reading!

Love,
catsgomurp

Chapter Text

Name: [First] [Last]

Age: 15
Gender: Female
Hair colour: [h colour]
Eye colour: [e colour]
Quirk: Vector Control, Awakening
Status: Alive
Birthplace: Overseas (not specified where outside of Japan)
Family: Lieutenant Calamity (Father), Misaki Yagi (Mother, deceased), Toshinori Yagi (Uncle)

Quirk and Abilities:
Vector Control: [First] developed her quirk when she was four years old, and it gives her the ability to manipulate vectors in terms of both direction and magnitude by touch. It grants the user control over the physics governing this world, giving her great offensive and defensive power. When defending, she usually reflects any oncoming vector traveling at her with her reflection “shield”. However, there are drawbacks to this quirk. It demands complex calculations in order to be used, and a single mistake may render the effect useless. Also, [First] has a limit to how much she can use her quirk, after which her quirk stops behaving the way she wants it to. If she surpasses that limit by too much, then the dangerous quirk called Awakening will be activated.

Awakening: This is the quirk forced onto [First] by All for One, who transferred it to her when her mother was still pregnant with her. All Might speculates that “... the villain was simply curious as to what would happen if [Awakening] were to be introduced to an already powerful quirk like Vector Control”. It is activated when [First] has surpassed her Vector Control limit. Its activation heals the user of any previous injuries and enhances the user’s capabilities or already existing quirk, but it is completely impossible to control. Once this quirk is activated, it transforms [First] into a bloodthirsty monster that has only one single thought: the single urge to kill. She cannot control it and thus would be an extreme threat to anyone in proximity if this quirk were to be activated, and once activated, it would be impossible for her to return back to human without help. This quirk has only been activated once in her life, when she and her mother were attacked by a villain, and she was only able to return back to human when her mother sacrificed herself and used her Happiness quirk to pull [First] back. This event has traumatized her, and [First] has promised to herself to never give in to this quirk again, no matter what, or else there would be no turning back for her.

Overall Abilities: From a young age, [First] has been trained by her uncle in order to become a hero. With her uncle’s help as well as her own hard work, she has become proficient at using her Vector Control quirk and has developed into an exceptional fighter. During the USJ attack, she was easily able to knock out the group of villains sent to kill her. She was able to block a punch from Nomu, a creature with multiple quirks who was strong enough to be a threat to All Might, although the action brought her to her quirk limit. She has demonstrated good speed and endurance during the Sports Festival, as she was able to finish third during the Obstacle Race. During their one on one match, she was able to fight on equal footing against Shoto Todoroki, a classmate who had already demonstrated that he was stronger than the average pro hero. However, she was defeated when he started to use his fire ability too. During the battle of Hosu, she was able to hold her ground alone against an imperfect Nomu, against whom several pro heroes were struggling. She also assisted Todoroki, Iida, and Midoriya against Stain, a powerful villain who has bested various Pro-Heroes. She had been able to nullify several of All Might’s punches during her practical exam, given that all the teachers were handicapped to give the students a fighting chance.

High Intellect: Her intelligence is ranked S level since her Vector Control quirk demands extremely intense, high speed and accurate calculations in order to function properly, and a single error can nullify the effect. Due to this, and her years of quirk training with her uncle, [First] has become very proficient in this aspect, and her massive calculating prowess allows her to also perform well in her academics. She is also a quick thinker in terms of analytical strategy planning. This is shown when she devised a plan against Fumikage Tokoyami, who had already bested several of her classmates at the Sports Festival during his one on one matches, and managed to beat him without benefiting from Dark Shadow’s weakness to light. She was also able to come up with a plan under pressure during her practical exam against All Might, and managed to make it work against him.

Power: 3/5 C
Speed: 4/5 B
Technique: 5/5 A
Intelligence: 6/5 S
Cooperativeness: 3/5 C

History and Personality:
[First] was born overseas and lived a happy life with her parents, and [First] was a shy but cheerful little girl with an active imagination. When she was four years old, the Lieutenant left her and Misaki without any explanation and [First] has never seen him since. [First] and her mother then lived through two more years of peace together, until they were attacked by a villain one night. The villain was the Lieutenant’s wife, who pushed them into an alleyway and then focused on brutally beating the mother to death. Here, as she witnessed the horrible scene, six year old [First] realized that the world was a merciless place, where only those with strength can live. This is what triggered the activation of her Awakening quirk, and she transformed into a monster who brutally killed the villain. Misaki tried to stop [First], but was attacked as well since [First] is unable to control the Awakening. With the last of her strength, her mother sacrificed herself to pull [First] back to the human side by using her quirk, before she died. The alleyway incident traumatized [First], and caused her to become more emotionally withdrawn and to focus on her goal of becoming a hero. Following this incident, [First] developed a more cynical view of the world, and hated her quirk since her mother sacrificed herself to pull [First] back.

Her uncle, Toshinori Yagi, then took her in and [First] moved to Japan to live with him. To minimize any possible connections with All Might, he changed her last name from Yagi to [Last]. He raised her and trained her and convinced her to use her Vector Control again so that Awakening will never happen again. Toshinori was the one who taught her to accept herself for who she was, and reminded [First] of her mother’s happiness when [First] first developed her quirk. Throughout the years, [First] trained hard with her uncle’s help to become the strong fighter she is today. During battles, she is perceptive and analytical and usually keeps calm, but any mention of her father seems to trigger an emotional response from her, clouding her judgement. Before high school, [First] did not have many friends and did not socialize very much since she focused so much on training and working hard to become a hero, as she felt that this was her atonement for her sins. She is also easily flustered when she feels that she has not met others’ expectations.

She entered UA high school through official recommendations. After meeting Ochako Uraraka and being introduced to Izuku Midoriya and Tenya Iida, [First] slowly became more sociable and less awkward with others as she is surrounded by the kindness of her friends. Her friends became very important to her, and she gradually became less and less “obsessed” with her feelings of atonement.

Although she has cynically accepted that the world is cruel, [First] also admits that there are times when the world can be warm and beautiful, as seen when she recalls the moment her uncle took her in after the alleyway incident, and the moment she developed her quirk for the first time and made her mother happy.

Relationships:
Toshinori Yagi - All Might is [First]’s maternal uncle who took her in after the brutal death of her mother. When they first met, her uncle gave her a toy bear called Reggie the Teddy Bear, and [First] has been fond of Reggie ever since. When All Might took [First] in after the alleyway incident, she was so traumatized that she never wanted to use her quirk ever again. Her uncle then spoke to her, and his words rang through her heart and changed how she views herself and her quirk. Even now, she hasn't forgotten his words. All Might has always treated her with kindness, and it’s because of him that [First] grew up to be a relatively normal girl. The two of them care for each other deeply, and All Might trained [First] when she was younger so that she can master her Vector Control quirk. All Might has kept his hero identity a secret from her since he knows that any connection with the No 1 hero would mean danger from villains. Also due to this, they currently live separately, and [First] does not recognize his “One for All” muscular form as her uncle. Of course, as a teacher at UA, All Might sees her everyday at school, but he is careful to keep their relationship strictly teacher and student.

Misaki Yagi - Misaki was [First]’s mother and the two of them shared a loving bond. Her mother was her greatest source of happiness and [First] loved her deeply. However, their simple life together was ruined when they were attacked one night by Lieutenant Calamity’s villain wife. Even though she was scared, six year old [First] did not hesitate to risk her life to help her mother, and the fight was what triggered her Awakening, and [First] subsequently killed the villain. Her mortally wounded mother then used her Happiness quirk to pull [First] back to the human side before dying. It is unquestionable that her death left a scar on [First]’s heart, and it is because of her mother’s sacrifice that [First] promised to never let Awakening take control again.

Lieutenant Calamity - The Lieutenant is a villain and [First]’s father. In her early childhood, it seemed that [First] and her parents lived happily together, until her father left without any explanation when she was four years old. Two years later, when [First] and her mother were attacked by her father’s villain wife, [First] learned from her attacker that her father had just been using them for his own selfishness. From then on, she has resented her father.

Ochako Uraraka - [First] met Uraraka on the first day of high school, and [First] was won over by Uraraka’s constant kindness and cheerfulness. Because of Uraraka, [First] gradually became less and less awkward around other people, and now [First] can be seen actively socializing and smiling with her classmates. During the Sports Festival, after Uraraka lost her match with Bakugo, [First] did her best to comfort her. [First] cares deeply for Uraraka, and the two of them are very close friends.

Izuku Midoriya and Tenya Iida - Uraraka introduced them to [First] on the first day of school, and they are close friends. When she suspected that Iida wanted to chase after Stain, [First] decided to pick Hosu for her internship location as well in order to keep an eye on him, and was close to panicking when she lost sight of Iida during the battle of Hosu. During her practical exam, she was teamed up with Midoriya and Bakugo against All Might, and she did not hesitate to use herself as a human shield to protect Midoriya from All Might’s punch, even though she had depleted her quirk limit and could not use it anymore during the fight. As seen by these examples, she cares very much for both Midoriya and Iida.

Shoto Todoroki - [First]’s relationship with Todoroki is the one that has changed the most throughout this story. In the beginning, [First] has always respected Todoroki for how strong he is. They were paired together during the Trial of Battle on the second day of school, and when she saw how sad he looked when he was melting his ice with his left side, she was reminded of herself right away. From then until the Sports Festival, when she saw Todoroki, with that look in his eyes that reminded her so much of her own, her compassion and sympathy for him completely filled her mind, and she wanted nothing but to help him and save him, like how her uncle helped her and saved her from that alleyway 9 years ago. She understands the pain that Todoroki feels, where his father used his mother for his own selfish reasons, just like how her father used her mother for his selfish reasons, and she understands the hatred he has of his own quirk, just like how she hated her quirk all those years ago. Because she knows that exact same pain, and knows exactly how much it hurts, she can't stand seeing someone else going through it as well, and does her best to help him. Even though he kept pushing her away, she still kept trying to approach him about this sensitive topic. Because of this, Todoroki viewed her as nothing but a very annoying and persistent problem girl until she finally reached him during their battle at the Sports Festival. She shouted the words that her uncle told her all those years ago, which triggered in Todoroki the comforting memory of his mother telling him to do his best to become a hero. After the battles were over, Todoroki asked [First] why she kept trying to help him and she explained that he reminded her of herself. After he heard her answer, it was the first time in a long time where he felt compassion for someone. After the Sports Festival, he has evidently warmed up to her. It is also evident that Todoroki has developed feelings for her, but both of them are oblivious to this fact. Now, he does whatever he can to help her and he is one of her closest friends.

Katsuki Bakugo - In the beginning, their relationship had been an unfriendly one. [First]’s first impression of Bakugo is negative, since he tried to shout at Uraraka for voting for Midoriya during the Class President vote. This started an argument between Bakugo and [First], causing them to dislike each other. However, when Nomu was about to attack Bakugo during the USJ break in, [First] still threw herself between them to protect Bakugo. Both of them were willing to temporarily put their animosity aside during the Cavalry Battle at the Sports Festival, where they teamed up because of Eijiro Kirishima. When they were teamed together with Midoriya during the practical exam against All Might, Bakugo wanted nothing to do with his teammates, causing another angry outburst between him and [First]. During the battle against All Might, [First] finally understood what was causing Bakugo’s inferiority complex, and was able to reach him and convince him (along with Midoriya’s help) to work together during the battle. Here, they gained respect for each other, and when All Might was about to attack [First], Bakugo threw himself between them to protect her.

Chapter Text

The practical exam had been on a Wednesday, and students in the Heroics course got the next day off to recover from the intense practical exams. This left the whole Thursday for you, Midoriya, and Bakugo to get fussed over by Recovery Girl. All Might really did hold nothing back and was completely relentless against you three. Your group’s injuries had been by far the worst out of the whole class and the three of you spent most of the day sleeping.

While you three had been recovering on the day off, Shoto Todoroki decided to visit his mother again at the hospital. As he stepped into the large white building, as he pushed the button for the elevator, and as he watched the different floors pass by while he ascended, he could feel a slight nervousness within himself, even though he’s been there a few times already. Of course, the tiny bit of nervousness he currently felt could not even compare to the first time he’d come to the hospital, that day after the Sports Festival.

That day, it felt like his insides were squirming in a mixture of fear and anxiousness and unsure excitement. Before that day, he hadn’t seen her for years. He hadn’t seen her since that incident with the boiling water, where she looked so trapped, so cornered, so broken that he could clearly see her tortured soul through her eyes. That’s why, when he finally decided to visit her after the Sports Festival, he was deathly nervous, and as he hovered his hand over the door to her room, he saw it tremble as he finally realized what he was about to do.

The soft sound accompanying the opening doors of the elevator brought him out of his thoughts. He continued forward down the hallway, and recalled the time he was admitted into a hospital after being wounded by the Hero Killer. He, Midoriya, and Iida were held there for a few days. While the other two would fall asleep during the night, Todoroki would suddenly wake up. Sitting in the silent state of the hospital, he would think of his mother and of how awful it was for her to have experienced something like this for so long. He would sit there in silence, and remember the promise he made to himself, the vow to save her from her prison, even if she did not wish for it.

A massive onset of emotions began to fill him as he arrived at the room, and Todoroki heaved out a small sigh as he opened the door.

“…Mom?”

“Shoto?”

Sitting by the window, Mrs Todoroki turned around with a soft smile on her face as her eyes widened a bit.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, slightly concerned.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” she answered as she got up and held out her chair to her son. “Here, have a seat.”

He lowered himself down onto the chair, with his mother motionlessly watching him. Feeling a little embarrassed, Todoroki wanted to ask why she was looking at him like that.

“Mom?” he asked. “Are you alright?”

She nodded, before softly apologizing and sitting on her bed.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing at all,” she reassured him with a gentle and warm smile. She then reached over to affectionately ruffle his hair.

“Mom...” Todoroki started to protest, flustered. But when his mother let out a light and genuine laugh, he felt his protests die in his throat.

“It’s just been a while since I’ve seen you…” she said, sitting back onto her bed. “I just wanted to look at you properly… I think you’ve gotten bigger.”

She playfully narrowed her radiant eyes at him. Todoroki turned his eyes downwards, slightly embarrassed.

“Sorry for coming so suddenly,” he said quietly.

“What are you saying?” his mother asked in surprise. “It makes me happy whenever you visit.”

His mother’s welcoming words made him feel somewhat spoiled, and although a little awkward, a sense of shy happiness sprouted within him. Though he had grown up, though he had vowed to save her, Todoroki almost felt as if he had reverted back to the timid and meek little boy he was before.

He gulped nervously as he reminded himself of what he wanted to talk with her about. The feelings within him had been twisting and turning ever since the Sports Festival, but he had always been too shy to tell anyone. Though he had felt these confused feelings for months, he still hadn’t been able to make any sense of them, and after these months of debating with himself, he had finally agreed that keeping it all to himself would not accomplish anything.

Although he had finally decided to tell his mother, that did not make him any less nervous as he faced her now.

“Oh yes,” his mother said, eyes lighting up as she suddenly remembered something. “I have drinks in the fridge. Do you want something to drink?”

After hearing her ask, Todoroki suddenly realized that his throat was absolutely parched from his nervousness. In the little fridge located under a desk by her bed, he found some green tea and a selection of fizzy juices. The drink that stood out to him the most was a carton of yogurt with a really cute illustrated cow on the front, obviously made for children.

“Look Shoto, it’s the Mr Milk yogurt that you liked so much,” his mother said brightly, positively beaming. “I had gotten it from the shop stand just now.”

Todoroki stared blankly, having just realized that it was the yogurt he used to drink as a child. How could he have forgotten something like this? Todoroki noticed his mother’s grinning face, and felt his own lips pull up into an embarrassed smile.

“Shoto is already a high school student. Right… I just realised. I bought a lot but is there something else you would like?” she asked, her smile falling a bit.

“I’ll have this one,” he said as his hand closed around the carton yogurt, before he sat back down in his chair and faced her. On his way to the hospital, Todoroki thought he’d taken enough time to figure out what he’d wanted to say to her. He thought he had already decided to tell her, but now, his chest just burned up, his throat felt like sandpaper, and his hands were slightly trembling.

As always, his mother broke the silence.

“How’s school?” she asked.

“Um…” he started, but his words caught in his throat.

He took a sip of the yogurt. If he was going to talk to her about it, he should do it now. The more he thought about it, the more conscious he became of the issue, and the less likely the words were to come out. Watching her son struggle to get his words out, and not knowing why he looked so torn, his mother quickly became worried.

“Shoto?” she asked. Her concerned expression was starting to make Todoroki feel bad.

“It’s nothing,” he said. Todoroki shook his head to clear his mind. “We just finished our exams. We had the practical yesterday.”

“Practical? How was that?”

The sight of his mother being genuinely interested made Todoroki breathe out a sigh of relief.

“We had to fight in teams against a teacher while the teachers pretended to be villains,” he continued on.

“The teachers pretended to be villains?”

“Fighting against villains to save people is a hero’s job.”

“That’s right,” his mother said, nodding.

“My team had to fight my homeroom teacher, Mr Aizawa.”

“Was it difficult?”

“Yeah. He could erase our quirks, but we beat him in the end.”

“That’s amazing,” his mother said, her eyes shining.

“And also…”

His mother smiled at him, as he found himself gradually speaking up, bit by bit.

“All Might was there too. He took part in the exam.”

“Shoto, you really liked All Might, right?” his mother asked, eyes bright with reminiscence. “Do you remember how we couldn’t watch him on TV when your father was around, so we had to record it all and then watch it in secret?”

“Yeah…” Todoroki said.

“Who got matched with him?” his mother eagerly asked.

“Midoriya, Bakugo, and...” Here, Todoroki’s throat seemed to constrict before he could say the next name, the name of the person who had been causing him all these feelings of confusion. He swallowed before he continued again. “... and [Last].”

“You fought all three of them at the Sports Festival, right?” his mother asked brightly.

“Yeah,” he said, before a silence fell again. As he looked into his mother’s radiant eyes, as he faced her genuinely reassuring and kind expression, he mentally prepared himself for what he was about to say to her and what he was about to ask her. Despite his accelerating heartbeat and the nervousness filling his body up, he knew that it was now or never.

“Mom?” he began, his voice shaking a bit.

“Yes Shoto?”

“I…” He gulped. “I’ve been thinking about her a lot.”

He saw his mother blink. “[Last]?”

“Yeah,” he said, taking a deep breath before his next words. “At the Sports Festival, she was the first person who had been able to break out of my Giant Ice Wall. Even though I had treated her terribly, even though she wanted to win too, she still encouraged me to fight with all of my strength.”

Don't you want to win?! Don't you want to become a hero?! The words you had shouted at him echoed in his mind. How can you become a hero that everyone accepts if you can’t even accept yourself?! It was because of those words, because of your voice that finally reached him that he remembered. That the encouraging memory with his mother finally resurfaced, after years of being forgotten and buried under layers of frost and ice and suffering. Only after you shouted at him, did he finally realize that he had been trapped by his own hatred for all these years. In that fleeting moment, he was able to forget it all. To forget everything about his childhood horrors and his hatred for his father and his mother’s sufferings that he blamed on himself. At that moment, for the first time, he was able to fight with all his strength, to fight without limit.

“She encouraged me again during my match with Bakugo,” Todoroki continued, with his mother listening quietly. “When I heard her again, I felt… At that time...”

That girl’s voice was a dazzling light. A light that came into the darkness and reached him when he was covered with wounds.

“It gave me strength.”

“I see,” his mother said reassuringly.

“And I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and it doesn’t make any sense,” Todoroki confessed slowly, gaze lowered to the floor, eyebrows furrowed from his inner turmoil. “I don’t understand it. I know she’s strong. Everyone knows she’s strong. I know she can fight her own battles, so why do I always want to protect her?”

“Shoto,” his mother murmured, but now that he had started investing his feelings in her, his words all rushed out and he couldn’t stop it. It was as if the waterfall of words finally broke through the dam of restraint. There was no turning back now.

“I find myself thinking about her all the time,” he said, tightening his hands into fists on his lap. “And every time she smiles, my knees get weak, but at the same time I feel like I can do anything. That makes no sense. How can someone feel so strong and weak at the same time?”

His mother reached over and gently clasped his hand, squeezing it in her warm touch. “Shoto, listen to me,” she said softly. When he looked up, he saw that she was happily and excitedly smiling at him as her eyes glistened with tears. “It makes perfect sense.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Shoto, you’re in love.”

Stunned, he stared blankly at her, slowly blinking as he digested her answer. Silence began to fall upon them again, but the silence this time felt very calming.

“Is that so?” he quietly murmured to himself.

***
Bakugo, Midoriya, and you spent the whole Thursday sleeping off your exhaustion in your clinic rooms. As Friday rolled by, the three students’ injuries from the exam were completely healed by Recovery Girl, and you were released in time for class.

As soon as Midoriya and you stepped into the classroom, you were bombarded with concerned questions from Iida and Uraraka and had to spend a full five minutes assuring them that you were fine. Only after that did you notice that four crestfallen students in Class 1A gloomily mourned their test results.

“Everyone, I’m looking f-forward to - hic,” Ashido started to wail, eyes filled with tears, her sobs causing her to stutter a bit, “-to hearing your s-stories about training camp.”

“Hey, we don’t know for sure yet,” Midoriya said kindly. “There might be a last minute twist!”

“If we failed the exams, then we’d have to skip training camp and be in summer school hell,” Kaminari muttered, his dark aura covering him like a cloud. “And since we didn’t pass the practical exam...” he trailed off, too mournful to continue the sentence.

“Well, Mr Aizawa certainly does have a bad habit of pulling our leg,” you said hopefully. “Like that time he lied about the expulsion thing on our first day.”

The door of the classroom slid open and Mr Aizawa strode into the classroom. “Once the bell rings, get into your seats,” he commanded, and silence fell immediately as everyone took their seats. Aizawa took his place behind the podium at the front of the class. “Unfortunately, there are those who did not pass the final exams.”

At these words, Kaminari, Ashido, Kirishima, and Sato all groaned simultaneously.

“Accordingly, for the training camp in the woods...” Here, Aizawa paused, as if to bring suspense to his next words. “Everyone’s going!”

“A LAST MINUTE TWIST!” the four students screeched in thrilled surprise.

“We can go too?!” Kirishima asked, as if the situation was too good to be true.

“Yeah,” Aizawa confirmed. “Some failed, but no one failed the written exam. In the practical, Kirishima, Kaminari, Ashido, Sato, and Sero all failed.” At this, Sero hung his head down, and muttered dejectedly to himself. “For this time’s exam, we on the villain side made sure to leave a way for the students to win while watching to see how you all would take on the task at hand. In the first place, the training camp in the woods is one to increase strength, so those who failed need it the most. They need to get stronger.”

Here, Aizawa let out a short laugh. “It was a rational falsehood!”

“I was tricked again. As expected of UA,” Iida muttered to himself. His hand then rose straight up as he almost shot out of his seat in his rush to speak to the teacher. “However, since you lied to us twice, our faith in you will waver!” Iida quickly pointed out. So earnest.

“You’re being a wet blanket, Iida,” Uraraka chirped in her usual cute and carefree way.

“Yes, but not everything I said was a lie,” Aizawa said, looking directly at the five who did not pass the practical. “Failure is still failure. We have prepared a separate time for extra lessons for you all. Frankly, it’ll be tougher than the extra lessons you’d get if you stayed at school.”

Nonetheless, even that wasn’t enough to dampen everyone’s celebratory moods. Right after the end of school bell rang, the students of Class 1A gathered around and excitedly chatted about the upcoming training camp trip.

“Hey [First], aren’t you excited for the trip? I’m so pumped!” Uraraka yelled cheerfully.

“I guess it’ll be the first time we go on an actual trip as a class,” you said thoughtfully.

“The fireworks! The curry! The test of courage!” Ashido squealed beside them, pumping her fist into the air for emphasis. “And of course, late night gossipping! I can’t wait!”

“But I do need to buy some bug spray and some other things,” Uraraka said, finger on her chin as she thought.

“And I don’t have a bathing suit or anything,” Kaminari mentioned. “I’ll have to buy a bunch of stuff.”

“Night vision goggles!” Mineta piped up.

“Oh, then since we’re off tomorrow, and we just finished our exams, why don’t we all go shopping together?!” Hagakure suggested, and was immediately met with hums of agreement.

“Good idea!” Kaminari concurred, looking around at all his classmates. “Wouldn’t that be the first time we all hung out together?”

“That’s right!” Uraraka nodded heartily, linking her arm with yours. “[First], please come too!”

“Yeah, I’ll come too,” you said, smiling back. How could you say no to dear Uraraka?

“Hey Bakugo, you’re coming too!” Kirishima shouted.

“Like I’d do something so irritating,” Bakugo immediately shot down.

“Todoroki, will you come?” Midoriya asked cheerfully as he approached him. Todoroki looked up from his desk, and past Midoriya’s shoulder, he saw you smiling, so warmly and brightly as Uraraka happily chatted with you. His heart throbbed at the sight.

“Yeah, I’ll come,” Todoroki said, almost in a daze.

***
“And so here we are!” Ashido announced the next day with the students of Class 1A following her. “With the most stores in the prefecture, the newest and coolest, most advanced Kiyashi Ward Shopping Mall!”

The shopping mall was exactly as Ashido described it to be. You looked around in wonder at the bright colours dyeing the scene and the seemingly endless stores and shops that lined the vast walkway. There must have been thousands of people who bustled to and fro, and yet the shopping mall was so large that it did not feel cramped at all.

“Got six arms?! We’ve got exactly what you need!” a salesperson yelled at Shoji, who glanced over in interest.

“Hey, Kid with the giant calves, we’ve got unique apparel just for you!” another salesperson shouted at Iida, who excitedly inspected the store.

“Limited edition! Get your Mickey Mouse! Lilo and Stitch! Reggie the Teddy Bear!”

Immediately, your head snapped in the direction of the voice and caught sight of a store surrounded by children. Sure enough, your eyes landed on the adorable teddy bear sitting on one of the store shelves, just waiting to be bought and taken home by someone.

Hell yes, that someone will definitely be you.

“Hehe [First],” Uraraka teased beside you, smirking as she nudged her elbow into your side. “You don’t want to miss that.”

“Uraraka, shhh, not so loud,” you hissed, glancing around to make sure none of your classmates heard. Thankfully, none of them appeared to notice. Iida was still looking hopefully at the store selling special pants, and Midoriya seemed to have slipped into his habit of muttering to himself.

“Oh, aren’t those UA students?!” a male voice in the distance shouted eagerly.

“First years?!” his friend responded, equally thrilled. “I saw them on TV!”

“Sports Festival!” the high school guys cheered together.

“Oh, there are still people who remember that,” Uraraka said, pleasantly surprised.

“As expected of UA,” you said Iida’s usual phrase lightheartedly.

“Anyway, I need to buy a big carry on bag,” Jiro commented.

“Then why don’t we look around together?” Yaoyorozu suggested.

“Small drills and lock picks,” Mineta muttered to himself.

“I don’t have any outdoorsy shoes, so I want to buy some,” Kaminari said, staring off in the direction of the footwear store.

“Me too!” Hagakure agreed.

“Everyone has different things they want to do, so why don’t we decide on a time to meet back up?” Kirishima suggested, and there were cheers of agreement. “Alright, then let’s meet back here at 3 o’clock!”

“Ok!” everyone chorused.

As everyone went their separate directions, you bolted straight to the stuffed animal store. Gently but hurriedly, you nudged your way through the crowds of children until you stood in front of the shelf. There Reggie the Bear sat, in all his adorable cuteness, with his blue overalls and little red hat and his shiny button eyes. You reached out, your hands shaking a bit from excitement, and brought the bear into your arms, cradling it so softly as if the slightest wrong move would shatter the stuffed animal. You felt your cheeks warm in happiness, as sunny fuzzy feelings coated your insides. The bear was so soft, so fluffy, and you felt like you could stay in this position forever. In this moment, it seemed like you had reverted back to the shy and harmless little girl you used to be.

“I never knew you liked this stuff,” a very familiar voice said from behind you.

Your heart dropped down your throat and you jolted in your spot. You whipped around, absolutely horrified that one of your classmates spotted you in this place. And to make matters worse, it was freaking Todoroki!

“Wh-what?! I d-don’t l-like this stuff!” you gasped out, stuttering as your words tripped over themselves.

“Then why are you holding the toy bear?” he responded instantly, pointing at the plushie still in your arms. Right away, you thrust it behind your back, trying to shield it from view with your body.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you denied, meeting his eyes almost fiercely while your cheeks blazed red.

“Hey I recognize you two from the UA Sports Festival!” a child no more than six years old said beside them, eyes shining in excitement. A Reggie the Teddy Bear also rested in his arms. “Your match together in the semifinals was awesome!”

Your eyes softened as you turned your attention from Todoroki to the little boy. You offered him a kind smile. “Thank you.”

“But that means you’re high school students,” the little boy went on innocently, head tilted to the side. “So why are you holding Reggie behind your back? I thought high school students were supposed to be all grown up, and not like kid stuff like this.”

You internally screamed from embarrassment. It felt like a kettle of hot water had just been boiled inside you. Your face felt so hot that you could probably fry an egg on your forehead. You hastily put the bear toy back onto the shelf, seized Todoroki by the sleeve, and dragged him out of the store as the little boy waved goodbye politely to you.

“Listen Todoroki, you will absolutely not tell anyone I was in that store, you hear me?” you growled to him as soon as you stopped a good distance away.

“I don't think there's anything wrong with liking stuff like that,” he said honestly.

“I don’t like that stuff!” you retorted, but your pink cheeks gave you away. He clearly saw through this obvious lie.

“Weren’t you the one who told me that you have to accept yourself for who you are?” he countered.

Your jaw dropped. You gaped at him, completely shocked as you stared at him in horror. You tried to move your mouth to retort, but no words seemed to come out. You never imagined that Todoroki would use your own words against you, and he was absolutely right. There was nothing you could possibly say to reply to this.

“Hey, calm down,” he said lightly, poking you on the forehead. “I was just joking.”

Not yet recovered from the shock, you blinked, still gaping at him. You saw his eyebrows crinkle as he put a gentle hand onto your shoulder.

“Are you ok?” he asked, a bit worried now. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you or anything.”

“No, it’s ok,” you said softly, still a bit stunned. “You’re absolutely right.”

“I’ll make it up to you. I’ll buy the bear for you,” Todoroki said, not convinced by your words at all. He turned on his heel and was about to run back to the stuffed animals store until he felt a hand wrap around his forearm. Warmth erupted through his body from the point of contact and he stopped in his tracks.

“Todoroki, don’t!” you protested, pulling him back, insides squirming from the newfound embarrassment as he turned back around to face you again. “Let’s just stop talking about it.”

“But-” he tried.

“No ‘but’s!” you interrupted. You gave him a pleading look, and his heart squeezed in response. “Please, let’s pretend like nothing happened.”

“Alright,” he agreed. How could he say no to you when you asked him like that? How could he say no to you when you looked at him like that?

There was a pause before he spoke again. “Do you want to look around the mall? Was there anything you wanted to buy for the trip?”

“Not really. I just figured I’d go since everyone else is going,” you admitted. “How about you? Was there anything you wanted today?”

Yeah, you. “No,” he answered. “Do you want to look around together before we meet the others?”

“Alright,” you said. He was relieved that your embarrassment from before was beginning to die down, and he was even more pleased when the two of you walked together, side by side as you window shopped and a rather comfortable silence fell between you. From this close proximity, he was given the chance to really appreciate how absolutely breathtaking you were. He more than noticed the way your pretty hair smoothly fell over your shoulders, the way your bright eyes shined in the sunlight, and the way your summer dress hugged your form so perfectly and elegantly. He felt his throat constrict a bit as he took in your beauty, and his mother’s words from two days ago rang through his head.

Now that he thought about it, it was so obvious. It had been so obvious, with the way he always wanted to spend time with you, the way he got jealous when he saw Midoriya carrying you during your practical exam, the way his body burned with white hot fury when Mineta tried to peek on you. The list could go on and on. It had been so obvious, and yet he only found out two days ago, when his mom pointed it out for him.

His kind and gentle mother had smiled at him through her tears. She shook her head rapidly after he apologized for making her cry again. She said she was absolutely thrilled for him and she heartily encouraged him to do something soon.

“Shoto, if you don’t make a move soon, someone else is surely going to take her from you,” she said to him, grinning at him excitedly. “Ask her to dinner sometime soon, will you?”

His mom told him to ask you out, and right now, away from the other Class A students, was the perfect opportunity for him to ask you. Gathering his thoughts, palms sweating a bit in nervousness, determinedly trying to calm his breathing, Todoroki gulped before he turned to face you, gaining your attention.

“Um... [Last], I need to, uh... ask you something,” he finally said, breaking the silence, carefully controlling his ice quirk to regulate his body temperature so he doesn’t go red.

“Hmm? What is it?”

“I was wondering if you would like to go to dinner,” he said, miraculously in one continuous sentence. He held his breath as you looked up at him. His insides twisted and turned in anticipation of your answer. Sharp adrenaline flowed down his veins like acid. How could he feel so much terror and elation at the same time?

“Dinner with everyone might not be a bad idea,” you said thoughtfully. Todoroki stared blankly at you. He was too stunned from this answer to even facepalm. His twisting and turning insides suddenly felt like they weighed ten tons, and he couldn’t move from his spot. No, he thought in dismay, not with everyone else!

“Yeah,” he numbly agreed, not wanting to say no to you.

“Good idea Todoroki,” you said excitedly, your eyes shining so brightly. “When we meet up with the class again, we can take a vote or something to decide which restaurant.”

“Yeah,” he numbly said again. His insides seemed to shrivel up in disappointment. He had one job: to ask you out. One job. And he couldn’t even do it properly.

“Great! I’ll text the class group chat right now and tell them to not stuff themselves yet,” you said happily. As if watching a car crash in slow motion, he saw as you pulled out your phone and started tapping away a message. He watched in dread, hands shaking, thoughts whirling.

With more effort than it ever cost him in his entire life, his hand reached out and grabbed yours before you could hit the send button. You then looked up at him, puzzled.

“I...” he tried, but his words seemed to not want to come out. He swallowed.

“What’s wrong, Todoroki?” you asked, confused. “You want to go with everyone to dinner, right?”

“I meant just the two of us,” Todoroki said as he looked seriously into your eyes. You blinked. A few seconds of silence passed as you thought about the implication behind his words.

“Wait,” you began slowly, eyebrows furrowed. Did you hear him right? This was Shoto Todoroki, the preeminent strongest of the entire grade, the always cool and calm Todoroki. Did the Shoto Todoroki just ask you to… “Are you asking me out on a date?”

This couldn’t have been real. Yeah that’s right. You were dreaming. And soon, you’ll wake up in your bed from this really weird dream. Yeah, this must have been a dream because the usually aloof Todoroki was not in character at all. First of all, he was totally not in character when he asked you, and second of all, he was especially not in character when a light pink dusted across his cheeks.

Oh my goodness, you thought as your eyes widened in surprise. Was the Shoto Todoroki getting flustered?

As sneakily as you could, your hand snaked down and your nails pinched the skin below the hem of your dress. Right away, you felt a prickle of sharp pain shoot across your thigh.

When you realized it wasn't a dream, you felt warm heat creep across your cheeks as well, and your mind furiously thought of possible explanations behind this. He means just as friends! That’s right, he probably still feels guilty about how he acted before the Sports Festival, you shakily tried to tell yourself, refusing to believe anything else. He still feels guilty, and I can’t take advantage of him like that.

Here, you looked up at him, and found him nervously shuffling on his feet. You noticed that his hand shook, as it still held onto yours. You peered up at him, your conscience telling you to turn him down, but the words caught in your throat right as you were about to answer him. As you looked into his pretty eyes and saw the way he looked at you, it seemed like all previous reasoning and thought escaped from your mind.

“Alright,” you heard yourself say, completely ignoring your conscience. Right away, the corners of his lips pulled up. He smiled at you, so tenderly and gently, and you felt your body completely fill with warmth as time seemed to stand still and the two of you were lost in your own world.

But this magical moment did not last forever. A second later, your gaze landed on a figure past Todoroki’s shoulder. Wearing a pristine suit, with his hair slicked back, the middle aged man stood behind Todoroki. That moment, your bright eyes met dark, dark ones that resembled never ending black holes that would suck up all light in a single second.

You felt all previous warmth shatter within you, and a burning and sickening feeling replaced it. You recognized that man. How could you not? Like worms, like snakes, feelings of disgust crawled under your skin and started to gouge at you. There was no chance in hell that you would ever forget him.

You would never forget the pain and confusion you felt when he never came back. You would never forget how your mother cried for weeks after he left. You would never forget that glance full of cold indifference that he gave with his dark, dark eyes as he closed the door behind himself, leaving you behind, abandoning you. You would never forget the hurt and shock you felt when you found out from the woman in black that he had used your mother for nothing but his own selfish pleasure.

As soon as your eyes met, as soon as father and daughter saw each other, the man turned on his heel, and disappeared through a crowd.

“Hey!” you called after him, wrenching your hand out of Todoroki’s as you began chase. “Hey, wait!”

You chased after him, pushing through the crowds with a sense of frenzy. All senses forgotten, with unadulterated hatred and desperation filling you, you were foolishly drawn towards him like a moth towards a flame.

Chapter Text

“As the Prince looked into the Princess’s gentle eyes, he realized that she was the one who rescued him from the darkness. He realized that she had changed his life, that she had saved him from the hollowness and emptiness that swallowed him, and that his life would be meaningless without her. They were married the next day, and they lived happily ever after. The end.”

“Daddy, read it again! Again!” The little four year old jumped wildly on her bed, too excited to lay down and go to sleep.

“[First] dear, we agreed that you’ll go to bed after one bedtime story, right?” her father asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

“Please! Just one more time!” The little girl pouted, and her large bright eyes stared deeply into her father’s darker ones. Her father sighed, before giving her a defeated smile.

“Alright, my little Princess,” he said, flipping back to the beginning of the storybook. “One more time.”

These memories I have of you… You always called me your little Princess.

So why did you leave? Mother cried for weeks after you left. She probably cried for more, only she didn’t want me to see.

Everything that the woman in black said was true, wasn’t it? You used us. You left and never came back. Because of you, a villain planted this wretched Awakening power inside of me. Because of you, your wife attacked and killed Mother.

I hate you with all my being, and yet, I have so many questions for you.

I want to kill you, and yet, I don’t think I have the heart to.

***
As soon as your eyes met, as soon as father and daughter saw each other, the man turned on his heel, and disappeared through a crowd.

“Hey!” you called after him, wrenching your hand out of Todoroki’s as you began chase. “Hey, wait!”

You chased after him, pushing through the crowds with a sense of frenzy. All senses forgotten, with unadulterated hatred and desperation filling you, you were foolishly drawn towards him like a moth towards a flame.

“Where do you think you’re going?!” you demanded, ignoring the stares you received and shouts you heard as you pushed past. You heard Todoroki call after you, but you were entirely focused on the figure in front of you as you gradually caught up to him. Your hand shot out, reaching out for him. “Come back!”

As soon as your hand landed on his shoulder, you were knocked off your feet as the vectors acted upon your body and forcibly threw you backwards. You landed roughly on your side, momentarily stunned, and when you looked up again, he had disappeared through the crowds. You frantically looked around for him, but he had gone.

“[Last], are you alright?” Todoroki worriedly asked as he caught up with you. He kneeled down onto the ground, wrapped an arm around your shoulder, and gently helped you sit up. “That was a villain, wasn’t it? I’ll call the authorities right now.”

Right as he finished that sentence, a female voice rang across the shopping mall through the many speakers.

“Attention all shoppers, this is an emergency! Please promptly evacuate!”

Everything was a blur after that. A few moments before you saw your father, Midoriya had run into Tomura Shigaraki, the person heavily involved in the League of Villains. Uraraka had reported the incident, and the shopping mall was temporarily closed. The heroes and police in the ward undertook an emergency investigation. They briefly questioned all the Class A students, but in the end, they could not find the two villains that day.

That night, Midoriya was taken to the police station for further questioning. The other Class A students were allowed to go home except you, who were held back a bit for a few more questions about your brief scuffle. After you answered all the questions that you could, they let you go. You made your way out of the empty shopping mall, and were surprised to find Todoroki waiting for you at the entrance.

“Todoroki, what are you doing here?”

“I wanted to make sure you’re alright,” he answered.

He walked beside you as you both made your way to the subway station. You boarded the first train that came, and sat in tense silence. Your encounter with your father kept replaying vividly inside your mind, and Todoroki certainly noticed how disturbed you were.

As your mind swam with heavy thoughts and Todoroki worriedly observed you, the train stops passed and the passengers got off one by one, and eventually, you found yourself alone in the train car with Todoroki sitting beside you.

“Todoroki, I’m sorry we didn’t get to go to dinner,” you said, feeling bad for having to cancel plans on him... again.

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault that villains suddenly appeared,” he said. “You should go home and rest after what happened today. Is your train stop soon?”

“It’s the last one. It's the same stop for UA because I live in an apartment close by,” you replied slowly, still feeling numb from the incident today. “What about you?”

“I think I should walk you home, especially after what happened today,” he said.

“Todoroki, you don’t have to,” you said softly. “I can do it by myself.”

Hatred. Desperation. Confusion. Seeing your father had unearthed a multitude of emotions within you, as your mind was swarming with the thoughts that wouldn’t leave you. When Todoroki saw your hands clench on your lap, he decided to speak again.

“You seem really uneasy right now. You’ve been uneasy since seeing that villain.” And there he addressed it. The elephant in the room. “Do you want to talk about it?”

There was a heavy pause, a heavy silence as you stared at your hands on your lap. A few moments later, the train came to a stop and you both wordlessly got off, and stepped out of the station into the night air. The grand UA building glinted in the distance as its many windows reflected the light from the moon. You started down the street, and Todoroki followed beside you. As the minutes ticked by, as you remained silent, Todoroki quickly grew worried. He had hoped that you would be more comfortable talking with him, since you were the one who had persisted and helped him with his problems from his own past. Now, your roles seemed to have reversed.

“Uh,” he began awkwardly. “I understand if you don’t want to tell me, but I don’t think you’ll get better if you keep it bottled in.”

“You might think I’m crazy if I tell you my story,” you said sadly.

“No I won’t,” he reassured you. “I’ll listen to whatever you have to say.”

“It’s long and complicated,” you insisted.

“I don’t mind,” he said. “I’ll stay with you until the end.”

You continued walking down the quiet street as the light from the moon and stars illuminated your path. You sighed before speaking again.

“It’s funny how I got mad at Iida for chasing Stain, but I did the same thing today…” you noted dryly. “I completely lost my mind when I saw that villain. I’m a hypocrite, aren’t I?”

“It’s ok,” he tried to comfort you. “I just don’t want you getting hurt.”

“I haven’t even told Uraraka the story because I feel that it might scare her away,” you said slowly, gaze focused on the road in front of you. “But somehow, with you, I feel differently.”

The light wind rustled the leaves in the trees. The crickets chirped on in the distance. You took a deep breath before saying your next words.

“Like I told the police, the villain that I saw today is called Calamity,” you told him. “Have you heard of him?”

“Calamity?” Todoroki repeated. That name certainly rang a bell. “I’ve heard of him. He’s an infamous villain who disappeared sixteen years ago, right?”

“Yes, that villain committed many heinous crimes,” you said grimly. “His worst crime was where he massacred a whole city and killed twenty heroes by himself in one night.”

“Yeah, I heard about that too,” Todoroki said. The street was empty except for the two of them, and a small breeze brushed through your hair. You gulped before you continued, preparing yourself for the reaction that would come from your next sentence.

“That piece of crap is my father.”

You peered up at him, expecting his eyes to be wide, anticipating his look of horror and alarm mixed with revulsion. Instead, his expression was gentle, which confused you a bit.

“Well?” you tested, bitterness coating your words. “Do you fear me now?”

“Not at all. That fact doesn’t matter to me at all,” he assured you. “You are who you choose to be, no matter who your father is.”

“You really think so?” you asked tentatively, but already, his gentle voice soothed you. The worry that had bubbled up inside of you started to dissipate.

“Hey, I know fully well that parents don’t define their children,” Todoroki replied genuinely. “After all, my dad’s a piece of crap too.”

He was pleased when he saw the corner of your mouth raise in a small smile.

“Thanks Todoroki,” you quietly muttered, before the small smile faded away. “Calamity disappeared sixteen years ago when he met my mother, and then I was born a year later. One day, he just left us. He never told me anything about who he truly was.

“It was years later that I found out he was a villain, and that I’m his bastard daughter.”

“[Last], don’t call yourself that,” Todoroki gently said.

You let out a light laugh. “You’re too kind.”

As you walked down the street, Todoroki gave you his undivided attention as you opened up to him, and he stayed by your side, listening intently.

“My mother was beautiful,” you said with a tender fondness in your voice. “Her quirk was called Happiness. She could touch people and all of a sudden, all their worries would disappear and they’d just feel calm and happy. After my father left, my mother did her best to take care of me by herself. The two of us only had each other. The adults shunned her because she wasn’t married and had a child, and I didn’t have friends because I didn’t have a father. When I tried to play with the other kids, they would push me away and sometimes throw rocks at me. My mother was my world, and when I was six, we were attacked.

“The villain was my father’s wife, and from her, I learned that my mother and I were nothing but toys for him. I found out that he used my mother for nothing but his own selfish pleasure...” Your hands clenched from the intensity of your hatred, but you pushed on, through the severity of your pain as you relived it. Now that you started to open up, you knew there was no stopping. You were past the point of no return.

“The woman in black, my father's wife, attacked us, easily knocked me away, and focused on my mother. She took her sweet time, as if she was playing a sick and twisted game. And as I saw my mother getting beaten to death in front of me, I truly realized the world’s potential for cruelty.”

“[Last],” Todoroki muttered, voice full of concern.

“At that moment, I lost control and a new power took over me. A quirk called Awakening took over my body, and I transformed into a monster. It made me lose complete control. I was the one who killed the woman in black. I was only able to return back to the human side because my mother used the last of her strength to pull me back using her quirk, before she died and…” Your voice cracked and broke as the memory fragments raced themselves in your mind. “... and left me too.” Those large glazed eyes, so similar to your own, stared back, unseeing and unfeeling, nothing but empty glassy orbss simply reflecting the weeping daughter they could not see. You felt the tears well up in your eyes. You shivered.

As you furiously tried to blink away the tears, as your pieces threatened to crack and fall apart, strong arms pulled you into a firm chest.

“I’ve got you now,” he said softly to you, and you couldn’t help but lean in and surrender to the warmth. Your hands clung onto his shirt as you rested your head on his shoulder. Todoroki held you as you trembled from the horrors that haunted you, the memories that you couldn’t forget, no matter how hard you tried. No matter how many times you tried to throw them away, you’d still find them. No matter how much you tried to tear them apart, they’d join back together again.

But, as Todoroki held you, you noticed that the storm inside of you was slowly and steadily calming. His arms were strong. His touch was warm. You took a deep breath, and noticed that he smelled nice too.

“Don’t worry,” you told him, doing your best to blink away your tears, determined not to let them fall, determined not to lose to sadness. “I’m not going to cry and ruin your shirt.”

“It’s alright,” he whispered, tightening his grip on you. “I wouldn’t mind at all.”

A comfortable silence fell between you two again. The two of you stood there on the sidewalk, bodies pressed together in your tight hug as you basked in his warmth during your moment of weakness. A few minutes passed before you broke the silence.

“That day, I decided that I wanted to be a hero,” you continued softly, still wrapped in Todoroki’s arms as Todoroki listened with undivided attention. “After my mother died, my uncle looked after me. I hated my quirk because it triggered the Awakening that lead to Mother’s death, until my uncle taught me to accept myself. He gave me warmth and shelter, worked together with me, and trained me to become a hero and raised me like a father. That day I lost my mother, I lost everything, but a new part of my life started that day as well, and I gained a reason to live when my uncle took me in, held my hand, and saved me from the cold alleyway covered in blood.”

You pulled away from him to look at him, and he realized you were smiling through your teary eyes.

“And I also realized that, although the world can be relentlessly cruel and absolutely merciless, there are also moments where it is incredibly warm and beautiful.”

Your heartfelt words echoed within him and rang within his heart, and he couldn’t help but stare in awe at you. He couldn’t help but marvel at your inner strength, at how you continued to push on forward, despite all your childhood horrors. Then, he remembered that he really shouldn’t be surprised, since it was due to this exact strength that you persisted and saved him from his sufferings as well.

You looked so hurt and alone that you couldn’t stand it, but didn’t want anyone to know, you had responded when he asked you why you helped him. Those eyes, that look reminded me of my own.

Your words from before all made sense now. It all clicked inside his mind now. Todoroki didn’t think it was possible, but here, he fell even deeper for you.

“You’re amazing,” he whispered almost breathlessly. The tips of your ears reddened at the compliment, and your lips pulled up shyly.

As the starlight shined into your captivating eyes, as you smiled so brightly at him, Todoroki was seized by an intense, pounding urge to lean down and capture your smiling lips with his own. For a few moments, his imagination ran away with him and he thought about how soft your lips would feel, how sweet you would taste, how good your voice would sound when you moan-

He mentally kicked himself, firmly telling himself a sharp NO. He shook his head rapidly, snapping himself out of his intrusive thoughts. Luckily, you didn't seem to notice as you started leading the way down the street again.

“Thanks Todoroki,” you said as the two of you continued walking towards your apartment. “Thanks for listening to me. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel a lot better after talking with a friend.”

The last word you said made Todoroki almost trip over his own foot. “No problem,” he shakily said.

Friend… Todoroki thought to himself, his insides twisting and turning. Is this what they call the friendzone? But then again, he hadn’t told you yet about how he felt. Although words usually came with so much difficulty to him, he knew he could say a thousand things about [First] [Last] and how you made him feel. The only problem was saying those words to you. He tried to gather his thoughts, but a lump seemed to form in his throat.

He gulped. He knew this was probably going to be his one and only chance away from the other Class A students. To make matters worse, his time was quickly running out as you neared the large building that must be your apartment.

“We’re here,” you announced once you arrived at the small garden by the entrance. Todoroki started to panic a bit. He had only mere seconds to act.

“Thanks for walking with me,” you said, turning to face him. Sensing your goodbye, he started panicking even more. Desperately ignoring his racing heartbeat, he looked deeply into your eyes and focused all his efforts to force the words out, to voice the feelings that had been burning inside his chest for months.

“Ineedyouknosomething,” he blurted out, his nervousness meshing his words all together.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that,” you said, looking up at him with a puzzled expression.

He took a deep breath, fiercely trying to steady his erratic breathing. His hands were shaking and palms were sweating way worse than when he asked you to dinner earlier in the day.

“[Last], I need you to know something,” he said slowly, mentally preparing himself for exactly what he was about to say. “I-”

But he never got to finish his sentence.

“[First]!” a voice yelled from behind you.

“Uncle?” you whipped around excitedly, and were immediately wrapped up into a bear hug. For such a skinny person, your uncle sure could squeeze the life out of someone.

“My police friends told me about the villain incident! I was so worried about you!” your uncle all but shouted at you. “Why didn’t you answer my calls or texts?!”

“I’m sorry, I must have left my phone on silent, but I’m fine!” you said, laughing a bit as you patted your uncle on the back. “I don’t know what you heard from your police friends, but I told them I’m fine too.”

Her uncle pulled away from you, but still kept his grip on your shoulders as he examined you.

“Are you hurt at all? Are you alright?” he asked you, clearly in a state of distress.

“Really Uncle, I’m fine!” you said pointedly, trying to wiggle out of his grip. “Stop worrying yourself so much over me. You’re injured, aren’t you? You should be resting.”

After examining you for a few more moments and finding nothing out of order, her uncle heaved a sigh of relief. His large bony hands fell from your shoulders.

“I’m glad,” he said, before his gaze landed on Todoroki standing quietly to the side. All Might’s eyebrows raised. “It’s a surprise to see you here, Young Todoroki.”

Todoroki’s eyes widened a bit. The stranger knew his name. Maybe it was just his imagination, but he thought he heard that voice somewhere before. “I’m sorry, but have we met before?”

“Oh, uh,” All Might quickly became flustered as he realized his mess up. “I mean, I saw you at the Sports Festival!”

“That’s right, Uncle was there at UA and watched all the one on one fights,” you confirmed.

“I see,” Todoroki said, apparently satisfied with that answer. All Might exhaled in relief.

“Again, thanks for walking with me, Todoroki,” you said. “I’ll see you in class on Monday.”

“No problem,” he said a bit dully as his twisting and turning insides wilted.

“Was there something else you wanted to say?” you asked.

“It’s nothing,” Todoroki said, doing his best to mask his disappointment. “See you Monday. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” you said as he walked off, down the street towards the subway station. Confused, you wondered what he wanted to say to you before your uncle came.

As soon as he was sure that Todoroki was out of earshot, All Might turned to his niece.

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“What?! No!” you screeched, cheeks flushing immediately. “Why would you think that?! Todoroki’s just a friend!”

“Sorry, I guess I jumped to conclusions,” All Might admitted, letting out a light laugh as he pat you on your head. “The thought of you having a boyfriend really shocked me.”

“Hey, I’m not a little girl anymore,” you told him, playfully poking him in the ribs.

“I know, I know. I guess I just don’t want to admit to myself that you’re growing up,” he said as he pulled you into another soft hug. “I’m glad you’re alright after the incident today.”

“Uncle, I told you already, I’m fine,” you said as you wrapped your arms around him as well.

All Might remained quiet. He had rushed here after hearing from Midoriya and his friend, Detective Tsukauchi, that you had a brief scuffle with a villain. Right away, his mind jumped to the worse case scenario, even though both the detective and Midoriya reassured him that you were alright.

“Um, All Might… Do you also have times when you can’t save everyone?” Midoriya asked him. All Might hesitated before answering.

“I do. A lot,” he admitted as he remembered his worst failures that still tormented him today. How he hadn’t arrived in time to rescue his little sister all those years ago. How he hadn’t arrived in time to save a little girl from witnessing the cruelty of the world, that night in the alleyway.

His grip tightened around you.

“I just don’t want to lose you too,” he told you, his usually strong voice quivering a bit.

“Don’t worry Uncle,” you said soothingly. “I’m not going anywhere.”

***
When the date of the anticipated forest lodge trip finally came, several surprises came with it. As such, you were currently falling off a very sharp and steep cliff along with all your classmates… Well, to be honest, you were all pushed off when a hero named Pixiebob unleashed an earthquake with her quirk.

How did these events come to be? First of all, in response to the villain incident at the shopping mall, the school decided to change the location of the class trip. Instead of the regular forest lodge that UA had been using every year, the teachers and principal all decided to use a discrete lodge somewhere far in the mountains. The day came, and the excited Class A students set off on their bus. The gloomy aura from the weekend was completely replaced by an atmosphere of high spirits and enthusiasm for the class trip. Kirishima and Kaminari blasted summery music from their phones. From beside Midoriya, Iida yelled quite a bit at Sero and Mineta for standing in their seats. Beside you, Uraraka pointed out the window every few moments, showing you the wonderful mountains and lakes that passed by you. A bag of pocky and other various snacks was passed around.

An hour later, the bus stopped for a break and the students were let off to stretch. Right away, something appeared off. The bus had stopped at a cliffside, with no form of civilization around at all. Then, two pro heroes introduced themselves as the Wild Wild Pussy Cats, and the hero named Pixiebob unleashed a wave of earth that swept all the students off the cliff. Even though the soft earth cushioned your fall a bit, all the students landed roughly at the bottom of the cliff.

“On our private land, you can use your quirks all you want! You have two hours! Those who don’t make it before 12:30 won’t get lunch!” Pixiebob and Mandalay shouted at them. “Within that time, make it to the faculty on your own two feet, and make it past this forest of devil beasts!”

“Forest of devil beasts?” Midoriya asked, spitting out the dirt that he almost swallowed.

“What’s with that dragon quest-ass name?” Kaminari groaned, shaking dirt off his sleeve. As if in answer to Kaminari’s question, a grotesque beast sprung forth from behind a wall of trees. It had no face except for a mouth as wide as its head. You noted that the beast probably wouldn't hesitate to gulp you up and swallow you all in one large mouthful.

“A DEVIL BEAST!” Kaminari and Sero screeched in alarm, frozen in shock.

“Quiet down, oh beast!” tried Koda, whose quirk allowed him to talk to and command animals. “Quiet down! Fall back!”

But the terrifying beast, as if deaf to Koda’s commands, simply raised a sturdy and powerful arm, reaching for Koda. Without hesitation, you rushed forward and drove your palm into the devil beast made of earth. Beside you, a glimmer of ice, a burst of explosion, a whirl of engine, and a voice yelling “SMASH!” told you that you weren’t alone. The earth beast stood no chance against the multitude of simultaneous attacks, and was blown into bits and pieces.

“Everyone! This is part of our training! As expected of UA!” Class President Iida bellowed. “Run! We have two hours! We don’t have any time to lose! Advance!”

“I think the best way to get out of this forest is to avoid combat as much as possible,” Midoriya said. There were hums of agreement among the students.

“Shoji and Jiro, your quirks give you enhanced hearing, right?” you asked. The two of them nodded. “Can you please lead us so we can avoid combat?”

“Alright,” Jiro said, plugging her earphone jack into the ground.

“I’m on it,” Shoji said as he stretched out his multiple arms. The two of them stood still for a few moments, listening to the sounds of the forest. Shoji then pointed forwards with one of his many hands as he spoke out of a mouth growing out of another arm. “There is one large moving mass in front of us. That must be an earth beast.”

“There are also two on our right,” Jiro added. “We’ll have to go left and around the one in front of us.”

“Everyone, advance!” Iida shouted, and the Class A students did not have to be told twice as they all hurried onwards, forwards through the forest of devil beasts. The large and old trees filtered out most of the morning sunlight, leaving the area shrouded in darkness. The path was non existent. Not only did the students have to worry about wild earth beasts jumping out of them at any second from the darkness, they also had to pay attention to where they stepped. The roots of the ancient trees were gnarled and twisted, and if they weren’t careful, those unfortunate students would surely trip and twist their ankles.

You continued onwards like this for the next half hour as the combined perception from Shoji and Jiro guided all of you away from any oncoming earth beasts. However, Aizawa and the Cats seemed to have caught on to the students’ tactic, and a shockwave, enormous and violent, shook the ground beneath your feet.

“What the hell?!” Kirishima shouted.

“It must be Pixiebob’s quirk again!” Yaoyorozu replied.

Right away, a wall of earth rose out of the ground right in the middle of the group. Surprised shrieks and yells filled the atmosphere as the students scrambled to get out of the way. Some dodged left, while others threw themselves right. The students did not stop earnestly sprinting, chased by the earth that continued to vigorously erupt underneath them. When the earth stopped shaking a few minutes later, a small mountain stood from the ground, a barrier that purposefully separated the students into two smaller groups.

“Is everyone alright?!” Iida bellowed over all the noise of confusion, a hint of panic in his tone as he glanced between the seven other students that had dodged left with him. Beside him, a bit covered in dirt from the earth eruption but otherwise unharmed, stood Jiro, Ashido, Todoroki, Kaminari, Kirishima, you, and Uraraka.

“We are!” Kaminari panted, catching his breath as he leaned on a tree. “But what about the other group?”

“They separated us on purpose,” Todoroki said, wiping a patch of dirt off his nose.

“Aizawa must have figured out that Shoji and I were working together,” Jiro added. “Shoji’s not as accurate as me, but I can’t sense the beasts at all if I don’t plug my earphones into the ground.”

“So by separating you two, Aizawa and the Cats have limited the class’s ability to sense the earth beasts,” you concluded. Jiro nodded.

“I hope the others are alright,” Uraraka said nervously.

“HEY!” Iida roared towards the other side of the mountain, hands cupped around his mouth to amplify the sound. “ARE YOU ALRIGHT?!” His voice echoed across the grounds, but they received no reply.

“Iida, I’ll do it,” Jiro said, plugging her earphones into the ground. “Hey Shoji! Is everyone ok?!” There was a tense pause as Jiro remained silent, listening attentively to the response from the other side.

“They’re alright. No one’s hurt,” she said after a few moments, and everyone around her breathed out in relief. “Yaoyorozu suggests that we continue forward and focus on getting to the training camp. She says that trying to climb the mountain to meet up again would just waste time and energy.”

“I trust her judgement. The others will be fine under her watch,” you said honestly. “Class Rep Iida, do you agree with her?”

“Yes! It only makes logical sense since we have a time limit!” Iida shouted enthusiastically. “So we have to save our strength and time whenever possible!”

“Alright!” Jiro agreed, with her earphone jacks still plugged into the ground. “Shoji, did you hear-!”

A deafening and ear piercing roar startled all of you. You all whipped around, and found yourselves face to face with an army of forest beasts of all different shapes. Many resembled giant earth versions of lions, elephants, lizards, and a multitude of other animals. If it were under different circumstances, you would have been impressed with Pixiebob’s sculpting skills. Right now, as the giant earth beasts surrounded you and hulked over you, you students knew you had to fight your way through.

A monstrous earth snake struck first at the students, and Iida blew it to pieces with two powerful kicks from his engine legs. Then, pure chaos ensured forth as all the monsters attacked at once.

Without hesitation, you blasted away one beast after another as the vectors acting upon the beasts tore them apart. The beasts individually weren’t strong, but there were so many that it was quickly becoming difficult to keep up. Beside you, Todoroki’s ice glittered in the dappled sunlight that shined through the trees as he froze every monster that charged at him with a wave of his hand. Behind you, you could hear the zap of Kaminari’s electricity and hisses as Ashido’s acid melted their targets. You continued to fight, doing your best to focus on the many hulking opponents in front of you as you gradually advanced, step by step. All you students fought your hardest, trying to make a way through the army of forest beasts. It almost felt like you were fighting in a war.

Your attention was diverted when you saw a mammoth earth elephant and enormous scorpion, each the size of a school bus and towering over the other earth beasts, shoot themselves at Uraraka ten metres away.

“Uraraka!” you cried in distress, changing course and running at your friend, but another wave of earth beasts rushed at you. You punched and kicked, as each defeated earth beast crumpled into dust from your blows, but there were just too many, and you found yourself forced back to your place. “URARAKA!”

The colossal elephant and scorpion charged at Uraraka as she whipped around to face them. Then, with unexpected speed and agility, Uraraka sidestepped the stinger of the scorpion when it shot at her. In a single second, she ducked behind the elephant and laid her hand on one of its tree trunk thick legs. Right away, the elephant started to hover above the ground as it looked around stupidly, confused.

Although the earth elephant had become weightless, it still had mass. With a great shout, Uraraka grabbed the earth elephant by the trunk, heaved with all her might, and slammed the elephant into the enormous earth scorpion. Both of the earth giants exploded in a shower of rocks and pebbles and dirt pieces.

You made a mental note to never underestimate the strength of the deceivingly cute Uraraka ever again. Slowly and steadily, the eight of you pushed on forwards.

The chaos went on, but the students were gradually gaining the upperhand. A large earth bear crumbled into dirt and dust after Iida struck it with his engine powered leg. A lion shaped beast cracked its teeth when it tried to bite into Kirishima’s hardened arm, and the toothless lion was then shoved into the ground when Kirishima lunged at it. From the corner of your eye, you saw Uraraka throw an earth lizard into the heavens (it never came back down). Any beast that approached Todoroki was instantly frozen into an ice statue, which then proceeded to whittle away into fine ice crystals. Flashes of electricity, splashes of acid, and the familiar buzzing from earphones told everyone that Kaminari, Ashido, and Jiro were all fighting their hardest.

What felt like an eternity later, the eight of you stood panting, tired but victorious, over many mounds of dirt and stones, the remains of the army of earth beasts. A bit of grey soot puffed out of Iida’s engines. Small flames flickered on Todoroki’s left side as he regulated his body temperature. You pat Uraraka’s shoulder soothingly and held her hair back as Uraraka hurled behind a nearby bush. Kaminari, reduced to nothing but a giggling idiot, now walked around in circles, giving everyone the thumbs up sign.

“We should put Kaminari on a leash,” Jiro suggested lightheartedly. Kirishima and Ashido laughed.

You took a few moments to rest before you advanced forward again. Jiro led Kaminari by the scruff of the neck, while Uraraka had an arm around you for support. You pushed on, passing hundreds of trees, stepping over hundreds of gnarled and twisted roots, before you came to a clearing ahead. A large and violent river in front of you cleaved its way through the forest, its waves rough and coarse and crashing heavily against the banks.

“How do we get across?” Jiro asked faintly, almost unable to believe her bad luck. “We can’t possibly swim across!”

“The river looks almost fifty metres wide,” Ashido groaned.

“Hey Uraraka, can you make us float?” Kirishima asked, but one glance at Uraraka’s pale and faint face told him the answer. “Ok, nevermind then.”

“I can throw you guys across,” you offered, arm wrapped around poor, sick Uraraka.

“It’s ok, I’ll make a path,” Todoroki said as he stepped forward. He kneeled down by the bank of the river, dipping his right hand into the raging waters, and a trail of clear ice, as wide as a road, issued out in front of him, stretching all the way to the other side of the river. The path in front of you glimmered in the sunlight, as if a road made of crystal.

“Wow, thanks Todoroki,” Ashido said, breathlessly in awe.

“It’s fine,” Todoroki said, standing back up.

“Let’s go! Advance!” Class President Iida commanded, but suddenly, Uraraka cupped her hand over her mouth again, shaking violently.

“You guys go on without us! We’ll catch up in a minute and meet you on the other side!” you shouted as you hurried Uraraka behind a nearby tree. Once again, you held Uraraka’s hair as she hurled.

“[First], I’m sorry that I’m such a burden,” Uraraka croaked after her wave of sickness passed.

“Uraraka, what are you saying? You’re not a burden at all,” you reassured, patting your friend on the back.

“I went way past my limit and now I’m throwing up everywhere,” Uraraka muttered quietly, shaking her head.

“Uraraka, you were awesome. You fought so bravely against those forest beasts! I saw how you exploded both the scorpion and elephant in one move!” you said, doing your best to cheer your friend on. “I don’t usually say words like these, but that was pretty badass.”

“Thanks,” Uraraka said, and you were pleased when Uraraka gave you a weak but grateful smile.

When you returned from behind the tree, the other students had already crossed the river and were waiting for you on the other side. You , supporting Uraraka, stepped fearlessly onto the path of ice, with complete trust in the strength of Todoroki’s ice. However, the waters around you seemed to become even more fierce, slapping and lashing against your bridge of ice. The two girls made it halfway across when something, large as a minivan and with fins, leapt out of the water straight at you.

“Another giant earth beast?!” Uraraka gasped out, as your classmates on the other side shouted in surprise. You , recognizing the danger, immediately turned your quirk on reflection, anticipating the hit as the earth shark shot in your direction like a harpoon.

However, the hit never came. The shark flew past you, and drove itself straight through the bridge of ice beneath your feet. The ice cracked, and shattered from the force, and both you and Uraraka plunged into the raging waters below you.

It was absolutely frigid. You couldn’t breathe. You felt like you were being suffocated, and were briefly reminded of when you were trapped in Todoroki’s giant wave of ice, that time during your one on one match. With Uraraka in your arms, you kicked and thrashed wildly, desperately trying to control the vectors of the raging waves. Your brain furiously worked out calculations, but you and Uraraka only sank deeper, as your calculations were not able to keep up with the ferociousness of the multitude of raging waves. Unable to breathe, you soon became lightheaded and your mind became clouded. Without oxygen, your muscles screamed in agony as your movements slowed down. Your grip on Uraraka started to loosen.

Fight! Without strength, you will die! A pounding urge surged through you. A power pulsed within you, deep inside the depths of your being, as your Vector Control quirk failed her. Fight!

All of a sudden, you felt a strong arm hook itself around your waist and saw a hand grab onto the cuff of Uraraka’s shirt. Ice shot out from beneath your feet as it propelled and pushed you upwards, towards the surface. You broke through the water, and landed onto the shore.

“Oh my goodness, are you alright?!” you heard the worried voices of your other classmates fussing over you.

“We’re... alive,” you said, sputtering and gasping, as you focused on beating that pounding urge back.

Choking and gagging, soaked and chilled to the bone, you shivered as you shakily sat up on the ground. Beside you, Uraraka trembled just as violently. Behind you, you noticed a soaked Todoroki panting and coughing as well. Friendly orange flames flickered on his left shoulder, quickly drying off his clothes.

“Thanks Todoroki,” you gasped, your words shaking as your teeth chattered against each other. “You saved us from drowning.”

“Thanks,” Uraraka choked out, still coughing out water. She sneezed.

“Here, I’ll dry you off,” Todoroki said, placing his left hand on Uraraka’s shoulder, and steam started issuing from the point of contact. A second later, Uraraka stopped shivering, and Todoroki removed his hand.

“I’ll dry you too,” he said before he put his hand on your shoulder too. Right away, you felt waves of warmth wash through your body, chasing away the coldness. The feeling was like stepping into the sunlight after sitting in the shade for too long, like sitting in front of the fireplace after a long snowball fight, like being wrapped up in a soft blanket in a bed as it rained outside. Your clothes dried quickly, and still, Todoroki’s hand remained on your shoulder. A good five seconds passed before you spoke up.

“Thanks again, Todoroki,” you said, and he blinked, as if returning to reality from a daydream. He removed his hand.

“No problem,” he replied softly.

***
You continued on through the forest, but the rest of the way was significantly easier than before. You had fewer encounters with the giant earth beasts, and ended up regrouping with the rest of Class A soon later. Even so, the lands were large and vast, and Class 1A finally reached the lodge at 5:20pm.

When you finally broke through the trees and staggered onto the lodge grounds, everyone was absolutely exhausted. Everyone’s stomachs rumbled from hunger. Your legs trembled from running for a straight seven hours. Your faces and clothes were dirty from the many battles with the earth monsters.

“Finally you’re here!” Pixiebob shouted as soon as the students were in earshot. “Looks like there wasn’t much point in threatening to deprive you of lunch.”

“A little over two hours my ass,” Sero grumbled.

“I’m going to starve to death!” Kirishima groaned.

“Honestly, I thought you’d take longer. You guys are good, to have figured out my awakened earth beasts so quickly and easily in the beginning,” Pixiebob said with a light laugh. She then raised a finger and pointed, one by one at you, Bakugo, Todoroki, Midoriya, and Iida. “Especially you. Your decisiveness and lack of hesitation were impressive. I take it that it comes from the experiences you’ve acquired?”

A large smile then spread Pixiebob’s lips as she practically flung herself at Todoroki and Bakugo, who lifted their arms in alarm, shielding themselves. “I’M ANXIOUS TO SEE WHAT’LL BECOME OF YOU BOYS IN THREE YEARS! I CALL DIBS RIGHT NOW!”

As you watched Todoroki defend himself from Pixiebob’s ‘attacks’, you felt something ugly and sticky burn in your chest. You pursed your lips, and found that you didn’t like how the older hero was behaving towards Todoroki. Your stomach gave an unpleasant sort of lurch that had nothing to do with hunger.

“Mandalay, was Pixiebob always this hyper?” Aizawa asked.

“She’s in a bit of a rush, being at marrying age and all,” Mandalay answered.

“Speaking of marrying age,” Midoriya piped up, but Pixiebob quickly covered his mouth with her hand.

“Don’t speak of it,” she hissed.

“I’ve been wondering for a while,” Midoriya continued, his voice a bit muffled. “Is one of you that child’s mother?” He gestured towards the little boy standing to the side, who couldn’t have been older than five.

“That’s my nephew,” Mandalay said, before turning to the child. “Kota, come say hi. You’ll be living with them for the next week.”

The boy didn’t move. The always friendly Midoriya approached the boy, reaching out a hand for a handshake. “My name’s Midoriya and I’m studying heroics at UA. Nice to meet-”

Right then and there, Kota revved his fist back and savagely punched Midoriya between the legs.

“MIDORIYA?!” Iida screeched as Midoriya crumpled to the ground and curled up in fetal position, shaking and trembling as a world of pain wracked through him.

“Are you alright?” you asked as you kneeled down, checking to see if Midoriya was still alive. Uraraka wouldn't be happy if something actually broke, you thought.

“Hey Kota!” Mandalay shouted after the little boy as he walked away. “Going for his family jewels is just foul!”

“I’m not gonna fuck around with a bunch of losers who want to grow up to be corny ass heroes,” the little boy seethed, surprisingly venomously.

“Fuck around?! How old are you?!” Iida yelled.

“Ha,” Bakugo smirked. “Kid thinks he’s an adult.”

“Reminds me of someone I know,” Todoroki commented. You laughed, and Todoroki felt the familiar sensation of his heart squeezing. Bakugo whipped around right away and lashed out at Todoroki.

“He’s nothing like me!” Bakugo snapped. “At least I don’t keep all my emotions pent up inside like a certain someone!”

“Relax, it was a joke,” Todoroki replied softly.

Chapter Text

After the journey through the forest of earth beasts, the hungry and exhausted students were fed. After bathing, the boys all collapsed into their beds and fell asleep in seconds, while the girls were too tired to even gossip. The next day, at 5:30am, the students were all woken up by Aizawa and the Cats. Yawning and stumbling a bit, the sleepy Class A students all changed into their UA gym uniforms, then made their way to the training grounds. Today, they were joined by all four members of the Cats, who stood beside Aizawa as he began his instructions.

“Today, we begin a rigorous round of reinforcement training,” Aizawa explained to the students in his usual aloof tone. “This trip’s purpose is to strengthen everyone’s quirks as a whole. This is preparation to stand up to live action hostility and aggression from your enemy. Prepare your hearts and minds as we focus on upgrading your quirks.”

“Mr Aizawa, how will we be doing that?” Yaoyorozu asked. “Everyone’s quirks are different, and can’t be trained in the same way.”

“That’s exactly right,” Aizawa said, nodding. “Those with quirks with upper limits will be training to raise those limits. Those with mutant quirks will be disciplining and training those specific organs or parts of the body. I’ve already decided how everyone’s going to train.

“Kaminari, you will be working with an electric generator. Tokoyami, you will be placed in a dark cave where you will work on taming your Dark Shadow. Kirishima, I’ll pair you up with Ojiro and have you two spar. Ojiro will work on strengthening his Tail while Kirishima will work on Hardening. Midoriya, you’ll work with the pro hero Tiger and learn to control your quirk better,” Aizawa instructed, turning to look at each individual student as he spoke to them.

“[Last], I’ll have you spar with Todoroki,” Aizawa continued. “By fighting each other, you’ll both be increasing the limits for your quirks.”

A few minutes later, you stood facing Todoroki on a large rectangular stage made of earth, far away from the other classmates practicing their quirks.

“This reminds me of something,” you said lightly, glancing around at your battlefield.

“It reminds me of the time we fought each other, all those months ago,” Todoroki finished for you.

“That’s right,” you said, smiling nostalgically. “We’re even wearing the same UA gym uniforms.”

“[Last] and Todoroki! Get to work or I’ll give you remedial lessons too!” Aizawa threatened.

“I guess we’d better start now,” you said and Todoroki nodded. “Here I come!” At once, you kicked off the ground and shot yourself at him. The trees around them, the other students training their quirks, everything surrounding her became a blur as you shot forward, letting the air currents carry you.

You had expected him to encase himself in an ice barrier, or surround himself in a cocoon of flames. You had expected him to do something to defend himself, and so, you were surprised when you successfully tackled Todoroki to the floor. He barely fought back as you wrestled with him on the ground, and barely resisted when you maneuvered behind him and wrapped your arm around his neck in a headlock. Your chest pressed into his back as you tightened your hold.

“Todoroki, you’re holding back on me again,” you grumbled unhappily, and frowned when he didn’t answer. You loosened your grip in disappointment. “Hey, Mr Aizawa’s seriously gonna give us remedial lessons if we don’t do this properly.”

In a flash, Todoroki ducked, escaping from your loosened headlock, and flipped you around. Caught off guard, you now lay underneath him as he all but straddled you. His hands wrapped around your wrists, pinning them to the ground beside your head.

“H-Hey, we need to spar using our quirks!” you protested, cheeks tinting a slight pink at your rather suggestive position. But more than anything, you were confused as to why he was reluctant to use his quirk on you. You thought you’d already dealt with that during the Sports Festival. “Why don’t you want to fight me with your quirk?”

“I just don’t want to hurt you,” he said, in a much softer voice than you were used to. His hands released your wrists and he got off you.

“I’m not fragile. Use your quirk all you want,” you said with a laugh, standing up as Todoroki did the same. “We’re here at training camp in the first place to strengthen our quirks, right?”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he repeated in the same soft tone.

“Todoroki, if we don’t do this properly, not only will we get remedial lessons, but Mr Aizawa might also pair us up with different people. To be honest, I’d much rather spar with you than with someone like Mineta.”

Todoroki narrowed his eyes at the last sentence that you said. Knowing full well about Mineta’s pervert tendencies, Todoroki thought in horror at the terrible things that would surely happen if you were paired up with Mineta. “I don’t want that,” he said.

“Then hold nothing back and stop limiting yourself,” you said simply. “Come at me with your full strength. I’m not afraid.”

“Alright, here I come,” he said as brilliant red and orange flames sprouted from his left side. He aimed his palm at you, and a stream of fire issued from his left hand as if it were a flamethrower. The temperature quickly increased to burning hot, like the inside of an oven, and as soon as the flames reached you, they dissipated as if blown away.

“See? I’m fine,” you told him. A large wave of ice shot at you, which burst into pieces of shining crystal after you struck it with your fist.

Bit by bit, as you countered every attack that Todoroki aimed at you, be it a massive wave of vivid fire or an extensive burst of white ice, Todoroki felt himself fighting harder and harder against you. As you wove and dodged around his attacks, as you shattered his ice with a kick or dissipated his fire with a wave of your hand, thrilling adrenaline coursed through his veins as he matched your movements. Todoroki recalled the harsh quirk training that he had endured in his childhood, where his father demonstrated his brutality, where a little boy learned to expect a cruel beating if his moves were anything but perfect.

He feared and dreaded every second of quirk training in his childhood, but now, as he fought with all his might against the person who saved him from his self hatred, the person who shared his pain and burdens, Todoroki felt none of the fear or dread. Now, as you dodged and wove like a dancer around his attacks, as you sailed through the air so elegantly, so beautifully, he found he couldn’t keep his eyes off you. Instead, as he fought with the utmost of his abilities, he felt exhilaration.

He felt happiness.

The hours passed by all too quickly, in his opinion. As the day passed on, the sun ascended until it peaked directly overhead at the zenith of the sky, then started its descent. Almost too soon, all the students were called over by the Cats towards a table with an assortment of vegetables and selections of meats. This table was surely a dream come true for a professional chef, but none of the students really had any clue as to what they were to do.

“From now on, if you want to have a nice dinner, you’ll have to make it yourselves!” a hero named Ragdoll commanded as she gestured to the various cooking ingredients. “Today, you’ll make curry!”

“Yes Ma’am,” all the students groaned, tired and exhausted from the day’s extensive training.

“Now that you mention it,” Iida said thoughtfully as he scratched his chin, “During times of disaster or the like, providing for the stomachs and hearts of the evacuees at the refuge is part of the rescue procedure.

“Of course! Let’s make the world’s tastiest curry, everyone!” Iida bellowed with renewed energy, which seemed to rub off on the students as they all gave shouts of agreement. “As expected of UA!”

“Iida’s catchphrase ‘As expected of UA’… I’m surprised that didn’t become a meme yet,” Uraraka joked to you. You snorted.

As the Class President, Iida effectively divided up the jobs between all the students. Some were assigned to chop up the vegetables and meats, some were assigned to tend to the pots and fires, and the more experienced cooks were in charge of the seasoning and spices.

“Did they give us matches or anything to start the fire?” you asked Ashido and Uraraka as the three of you searched through the given supplies, but all you found were bags of coal.

“I guess not. I think they want us to make it ourselves,” Uraraka said as you three carried the coal to the unlit fire pits.

“Well, what do they expect us to do?! Rub two sticks together?!” Ashido asked, exasperated as you ripped the bags of coal open.

“We’re still allowed to use our quirks,” you reminded her. You tilted the bags over the fire pits, and emptied the bags beneath the pots. Tokoyami and Sero, who were tending to the other fire pits, seemed to have the same problem.

“Bakugo, can you light it with an explosion?” Tokoyami called across the grounds at Bakugo, who had been busy cutting up vegetables at his station. The question seemed to personally insult Bakugo, who abandoned his half chopped carrot and stomped over to the fire pit.

“I can totally light shit, dammit!” he yelled, and a resulting boom sounded across the grounds.

“Hey Todoroki! Can you give us some fire too?” You waved him over as he passed by. Right away, he set down the box of vegetables that he had been carrying, and hurried over to you.

“Come on class!” Yaoyorozu chastised, conjuring a butane lighter from her fingertips. “If you do nothing but bother others for fire, you’ll never learn to make it yourselves.”

“No, it’s fine,” Todoroki said, rolling up his left sleeve. He kneeled down, and warm, friendly flames rolled into the fire pit from his palm.

“Yay!” Uraraka cheered, jumping for joy.

“Burn, burn!” Ashido encouraged, eagerly pumping her fists.

“Thanks Todoroki,” you said gratefully, picking up your pair of metal tongs and rearranging the burning coals to maximize efficiency.

“No problem,” he said softly. As you were busy tending to the fire, you didn’t notice just how Todoroki looked at you, in the exact same way how princes would look at their beloved princesses in your childhood picture books. He got into place beside you, took a pair of tongs, and started poking at the coals too.

The old him would have never used his left side other than to melt his ice. Until a few months ago, he felt nothing but hatred for his fire quirk, which reminded him of the father who abused him, the father who beat his mother until she snapped. But now, he felt none of that hatred as he looked at the fire that he had created. As the flames flickered heartily beneath the pots, as he poked at the coals with you by his side, he felt a faint smile spread his lips as warm happiness filled him from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.

***
“Man, today was a long but exciting day!” Ashido said in a content voice, late in the evening in the Class A girls’ dorms. The day of training had ended, and the students had bathed and loosened up their tired muscles. “It was a lot of work, but it was fun!”

“Cooking together was fun,” you added from her spot on your futon.

“The curry itself might not have been anything gourmet, but the effort we put into it made it taste extra good!” Hagakure piped up.

The girls lounged around in the room, relaxing after a hard day of work. Jiro sat by the window, cooling herself off in the night breeze. Yaoyorozu kneeled beside her bag, sorting out her belongings and folding her clothes. Uraraka stood in the corner of the room, doing lunges as Asui helped her with her evening stretches.

All the girls looked up when there was a light knock on their door.

“Hi, it’s Kendo from Class B,” said the voice from the other side. “Can I come in?”

That was surprising. Everyone wondered what Class B’s President would want with the Class A girls. After Yaoyorozu received everyone’s approval, she got up from beside her bag.

“Yes, of course, you can come in,” she said. When the door slid open, Kendo’s kind face appeared, along with a few other Class B girls. The door slid further open to reveal the vine headed Shiozaki, a black haired girl named Koudai, and a girl named Yanagi whose left eye was covered by her fringe.

“We’re sorry for coming so suddenly, so we brought snacks,” Kendo apologized as she handed a small bag of sweets to Yaoyorozu. “The first year girls of UA hadn’t had much time to bond, right?”

“Snacks?” Ashido asked as the curious Class A girls all peered from around Yaoyorozu’s shoulder.

“Hey, how about we all sit around and gossip together!” Hagakure shouted eagerly. “Ashido, isn’t this the late night gossipping that you wanted so much!”

“You’re right!” Ashido squealed in excitement. “An all girls gathering! What a rare opportunity!”

“This is a perfect time for the two classes to bond!” Kendo agreed.

Straight away, everyone got to work and started preparing for the all girls’ gathering. The Class B girls emptied the bag of sweets and pooled the sweets in the centre of the room while the Class A girls combined their own snacks. They all pushed the futons and cushions into a circle, and purchased drinks from the vending machine.

“Cheers!” Kendo said, raising her cup of orange juice as everyone else did the same. “To friendship between Class A and B!”

“Cheers!” echoed the other girls happily as you all clinked your glasses together and drank.

“To be honest, this is my first girls’ get together,” Yaoyorozu admitted, eyes shining brightly as her spirits soared. “What kind of stuff do people usually do at girls’ gatherings?”

“We chat, right?” you asked, hugging your pillow to your stomach.

“The girls get together, then they eat something while gossiping,” Ashido replied simply. “Something like that, right?”

“If it’s a girls’ get together, then there will definitely be love stories right?” Hagakure asked, invisible but obviously grinning from ear to ear.

“That’s right! Love stories!” Ashido exclaimed, pumping her fist into the air. “That seems very girls-get- together-like.”

“Love...” Shiozaki repeated.

“Love? That thing you find before marriage?” Jiro wondered.

“Hell yes!” Ashido yelled. “Let me hear all about it!”

“Okay so, is there a person you’d like to date?” asked Hagakure, taking the lead.

Right away, everyone fell silent, each eagerly expecting another person to speak up. However, everyone just kept sharing excited looks with each other while the silence started to grow. You fought back a smile when you saw Uraraka’s cheeks tint pink.

“No? No one?” Hagakure asked disappointedly after a few painfully silent moments. She looked around, but no one appeared to have anything to say. No one appeared to have a person that they’d want to date.

“During middle school, I just spent all my time studying for the entrance exam,” Kendo said with a disappointed smile. “Now that I’m at UA, I’m still spending all my time studying.”

“There’s been no time for things like dating,” Yaoyorozu concurred as everyone nodded in agreement.

“Hey! But I want to talk about love stories, I want to feel warm and fuzzy inside!” Ashido frantically blurted out. “Think about it this way! Let’s say you were kidnapped by a villain! Who would you want to be your knight in shining armour?”

“The last thing I’d want is for my friends to go after me and get hurt because of me,” you said calmly. Uraraka’s warm brown eyes caught onto yours as you smiled. “I’ll be my own knight in shining armour.”

“Ugh, you girls are hopeless! I need to hear some love stories! I need it!” Ashido groaned, refusing to let this golden opportunity go to waste. “Hey, even if it’s one-sided that’s okay, there has to be someone you like!”

Smirking, you sneakily nudged Uraraka with your elbow. Uraraka squeaked, but the others didn’t seem to notice.

“Come on! I want to hear about crushes! Isn’t there a person you like?” Ashido asked with a hint of desperation.

Watching Uraraka’s face get redder and redder, and knowing exactly who Uraraka was thinking about, you couldn’t help but snort at Uraraka’s cuteness. Right away, Ashido lifted her head like a bloodhound that just caught scent of its target.

“Hey, what was that [Last]?” Ashido prompted, a sly smile spreading her lips.

“What?!” you gasped in alarm. “Me?”

“Now that I think about it, you’re awfully close to Todoroki,” Ashido accused, her smirk widening.

“He’s just a friend, like Midoriya and Iida,” you said. “Just a fri-”

“When you fell into the lake yesterday, Todoroki rescued you,” Ashido interrupted.

“He saved Uraraka too! It’s the duty of a hero to rescue people in need,” you explained, your own cheeks warming up.

“What happened?!” Hagakure asked, her sleeves moving as her invisible arms waved around. “Ashido, tell me!”

“It was so romantic! When we were running through the forest to get to the lodge, [Last] fell into a raging river,” Ashido retold the story, swooning a bit. “Todoroki jumped in without hesitation and carried her out like a Prince Charming!”

“It wasn’t like that,” you tried, but your words didn’t seem to make a difference. You felt everyone’s eyes on you, and felt your cheeks start to burn.

“Wow [Last]!” Hagakure shouted, sounding thrilled. “I’m jealous!”

“How exciting,” Kendo commented happily. Shiozaki nodded in agreement.

“You guys can’t team up on me like this! He’s just a friend!” you exclaimed, exasperated. Your insides squirmed with embarrassment and awkwardness. “I repeat, he’s just a friend!”

“Are you sure?” Hagakure asked, her excited tone from earlier deflating. You nodded furiously. “Aw, alright then.”

“But Hagakure, that means Todoroki’s not taken yet!” Ashido shouted, pumping her fist into the air again. “He’s still fair game!”

“Fair game?” Yaoyorozu asked, puzzled. “What does that mean?”

“It means we still have a chance!” Ashido explained. “He’s the preeminent pretty boy of the class, after all! I wouldn’t mind him as a boyfriend!”

“I know right?” Hagakure added on, jumping on her futon in excitement. “The always calm and cool Todoroki! My heart is starting to pump really fast!”

At these words, something thorny seemed to claw up your throat. All the previous feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness seemed to get replaced with a burning feeling inside your chest. You realized that you didn’t like the other girls talking about Todoroki in that way, just like how youdidn’t like it when Pixiebob flung herself at Todoroki yesterday. With a shock, you realized that you were jealous.

Stop being so selfish, you told yourself. You buried your blushing face into your pillow, while the feelings inside your chest continued to knot and tangle themselves. Why are you feeling like this? You said so yourself that Todoroki is just a friend.

“Wait, isn’t he Endeavor’s son?!” Kendo exclaimed.

At those words, everyone had the sudden image of Todoroki’s dad flash in their head, and immediately wilted in disappointment. At the mention of Endeavor, you lifted your head off your pillow as strong feelings coursed through you.

“Just because Endeavor’s his dad doesn’t mean that Todoroki’s like him,” you hastily said, a bit defensively.

“We didn’t mean it like that, ribbit,” Asui explained casually. “We meant it’ll be really hard to have any sort of confidence to try and get along with Endeavor himself.”

“Nope, nope…” Hagakure muttered, her shirt folding a bit as she hunched over in disappointment.

“I agree, he’d be really strict with his son’s girlfriend,” Asui said honestly.

“Oh… sorry,” you said, turning red from embarrassment. You buried your head in your pillow again as your face burned. Uraraka, pitying you, started patting you on the back.

Shadows passed over the faces of the Class A girls as they unanimously imagined how intimidating Endeavor would be. However, Shiozaki motionlessly shut her eyes, sighed, and then opened them again.

“That angry temperamental side of him… It’s probably from having his heart hurt,” Shiozaki said, trying to explain her stance on Endeavor. “I would want to give him healing.”

“Ibaraki!” Kendo gasped in surprise.

“Don’t tell me! You… Endeavor?!” Yaoyorozu blurted out, shocked.

“A school mate's dad? He’s your type?! He’s the number 2 hero too! Isn’t that kinda immoral?!” Kendo screeched, but Shiozaki just calmly shook her head.

“All living things are entitled to love,” Shiozaki explained calmly. “I just want to give his soul healing. By no means does it mean romance and also, I don’t have a type.”

“Phew, I see. You gave us quite a shock,” Kendo sighed, fanning her face in relief.

“Yep,” Yanagi and Koudai mentioned in a monotonous tone.

“Shiozaki seems like a very serious person doesn’t she?” Jiro commented.

“Ribbit, if we’re going to talk about serious, it’s definitely Iida,” Asui said.

“Oh, Class A’s president!” Kendo said excitedly.

“You’ll never be able to play around with Iida,” Yaoyorozu said thoughtfully, finger on her chin. “But I’m sure if you were to date him, he’ll try to change his seriousness.”

“He’d always be on time for dates, but the rest is sort of hard to imagine,” Uraraka said honestly, helping herself to a cookie.

“How many years would it take for Iida to allow you to hold his hand?” Hagakure wondered out loud. This was enough to get you to raise your head again as you laughed.

“What if he’ll only hold hands after marriage?” Ashido asked with a look of comedic horror on her face.

“Haha, isn’t that too much?” Kendo laughed as the Class A girls lightheartedly joked. Like this, the girls talked and joked about the boys in their class and their potentials as boyfriends. The girls talked well into the night, and were disappointed when it was time to go to sleep. Kendo, Shiozaki, Yanagi, and Koudai all thanked the Class A girls for their time as they left to go back to their dorms.

In the middle of the night, while the other girls slept peacefully, you lay awake in your futon. Ashido and Hagakure’s words about Todoroki rang in your head, and you couldn’t help but feel an ugly green monster of jealousy claw up your throat. Bothered and confused, you tossed and turned in your futon, trying to fall asleep, but gave up after an hour.

Sighing, you sat up, pushed the covers off yourself, and silently exited the dorm. Many feelings that you couldn’t identify filled your chest. You didn’t know where you wanted to go, but kept moving forward, step by step. Your feet carried you forward as your mind was filled with thoughts. Soon enough, you found yourself outside in a sort of clearing. A few wild flowers grew from the ground, and the large lake in the distance shone a bit from the little light that escaped through the clouds.

You sat down on the grass, lost in your thoughts. The ground felt cool beneath your skin, and the night breeze felt pleasant against your cheeks. You recalled that time you ran into a little girl and her big sister on your way to school after the Sports Festival. The little girl had revealed that her big sister admired Todoroki and kept a printed out screenshot of him under her pillow. That fact didn’t bother you back then, but now, you felt rather uncomfortable as feelings of jealousy bubbled up within you.

All this time, you had been teasing Uraraka about her obvious feelings for Midoriya, and now, you yourself weren’t sure what exactly you felt for Todoroki. At first, he had been really cold, but eventually warmed up to you, and now, he was one of your closest friends. Still... a relationship with him? These feelings confused you even more. Why should it matter if other girls found him as attractive as you did? Wait, what?

“Hey,” you heard from behind you, and found that you didn’t even have to look to know that it was the object of your thoughts.

“Hey Todoroki,” you replied. “Can’t sleep either?”

“No. Iida snores too loudly,” he said, sitting beside you on the cool, dry grass. “What’s keeping you up?”

“Nothing,” you said, but he saw straight through this obvious lie.

“Really?” he asked, eyebrows slightly raised, giving you a look.

“Really,” you insisted, trying to fight back your blush from how intensely he looked at you. On the ground, he had rested his hand so close to yours that your pinky brushed against his. He continued to stare at you suspiciously.

“After dinner, the girls from Class B came over and we ate snacks together,” you said, trying to distract him from your pitiful lie. “What did the guys do during that time?”

“We had a pillow fight with Class B,” he said.

“A pillow fight sounds fun. Who won?” you asked, desperately trying to distract yourself from the violent feelings crashing within you.

“Mr Aizawa put a stop to it as soon as he caught us,” Todoroki said before he caught your eye again. “Did something happen today that’s bothering you now?”

“It’s nothing, really,” you repeated a bit frantically, and Todoroki caught the panic in your tone right away.

“Really?” he asked you again, in a tone that stated he didn’t believe you one bit. You gulped, looking down at the small wild flowers that grew beside you, doing your best to hide from his intense gaze. A few moments passed before you spoke again.

“A lot of girls find you attractive,” you said as indifferently as possible, trying very hard to pretend like the fact didn’t bother you. And yet, it did, which confused you even more because he was supposed to be nothing more than a friend.

“What about you?” he asked, almost casually.

“Wait, wh-what?” you blurted out, cheeks tinting pink as you whipped around to face him. “Todoroki, that doesn’t matter because you’re my friend.”

“Friend...” he muttered, as if the word did him some personal injury. His eyes met yours, those clear bright eyes, and he found that he couldn’t look away. Strangely, he wasn’t feeling anxious at all as he prepared his next words. His hands weren’t shaking, and his palms weren’t sweating. Perhaps his attempt at confessing a few days ago got rid of the nerves. “What if I want to be more?”

“More?” you echoed weakly to yourself, unable to believe the suggestions behind his words, unable to admit to yourself that something like this was actually happening.

He wants to be more than friends… you thought. More than friends means… Here, your mind blanked, too overwhelmed to suggest the next word. He took a deep breath.

“[Last], please, I need you to know something,” he said, softly but clearly. Silky streaks of moonlight broke through the clouds and shined onto his hair, painting him with a silvery glow. “Can I please have your hand?”

“My hand?” you asked in a whisper. He nodded, and you tentatively rose your hand. He gently clasped it, holding it softly as one would cradle a newly born dove. He pulled it closer to him. He brought your hand up to his warm and firm chest, where he rested it. You could feel every thud, every strong thump that his heart beat out beneath your open palm, and after a while, you felt the pulses within your fingertips synchronize with his rhythm, beating together as one.

“Can you feel my heartbeat?” he asked, almost breathlessly.

You nodded as your gaze remained focused on his. The dappled moonlight glistened in his eyes.

“It quickens every time I’m with you.”

Your brain seemed to have shut down as you listened to Todoroki, as he kept your hand over his rapidly beating heart. You were speechless. Your body wouldn’t move. Heck, did you even want to move from this position?

“Ever since we first met, you've always done your best to help me,” he said to you, his warm hand tightening around yours. “Even when I ignored you for weeks and was a complete scumbag to you, you still never gave me up.” As he spoke, you were stunned. You couldn’t breathe. You stayed there, in a dream like state, as if mesmerized by his words.

“You were the one who saved me from my silent suffering. You were the one who showed me that the cruel world can be very warm and beautiful.” Tears pooled in your eyes. A gentle breeze swept across the courtyard, swaying the flowers and rustling the blades of grass. He clasped his other hand over yours against his chest, keeping it in place. As the wispy clouds dissipated, light from the crescent moon and twinkling stars shined down upon the grounds, and illuminated the scene with a pure white hue.

“You taught me how to fight without limit, how to live without limit, how to accept myself for who I am.” His voice was so soft and smooth, like water, like silk, and his tone was so warm, so tender. As he spoke his heartfelt words, the corners of his lips gently lifted.

“You are my strength. You are my weakness.” He smiled at you, a smile filled with affection, filling you with warmth. And his beautifully mismatched eyes were gazing into your teary ones, and through his eyes, through that connection between the two of you, you could see the many emotions swirling around his heart.

“[First] [Last], I love you.”

And the tears overflowed, sliding down your cheeks, dripping onto the grass and flowers swaying in the breeze. You let out a light noise, a sound mixed between a laugh and a whimper, filled with emotions that you couldn’t name, and you looked down to wipe at your eyes. Seeing you cry, Todoroki panicked.

“Hey, are you ok?” he asked, putting a warm hand on your shoulder. “I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

“I’m just so relieved, so happy,” you said, hurriedly drying your tears on your sleeve. Your eyes fell onto your hand and his, still interlocked from before, and an electrifying, tingling sensation ran up your arm, and through your entire body. You gazed up into his beautiful eyes again, bright [e colour] eyes into mismatched grey and aqua, and a single, thrilling desire came over the both of you. As the wild flowers swayed, as the thousand stars twinkled in the indigo sky, your fingers and his intertwined, and something exchanged between his and your half lidded eyes. Without the need for words, as if linked by a single thought, in that single moment, the two of you slowly, slowly leaned towards each other.

In that single breathless moment, as your mind fogged with pleasure, your eyelids fluttered closed in anticipation as his did the same. He was so close. You could already feel his forehead resting on yours, his nose grazing yours, his long eyelashes brushing against yours. Your lips were a centimetre apart, and even that distance was slowly dwindling…

He was so close… so warm…

“[First]?” called Uraraka’s sleepy voice from behind them. Both of you jolted in your spots, almost leaping away from each other in alarm. Uraraka’s head poked from around the doorway.

“Uraraka?” you asked shakily, chest heaving from panic.

“[First], I woke up and you weren’t there,” Uraraka said sleepily, eyes half open. She yawned. “I got worried.”

“Don’t worry,” you said, exchanging an uneasy glance with Todoroki. “Why don’t you go back to bed, Uraraka? I’ll be right there.”

“Ok,” Uraraka sighed, yawning, clearly half sleepwalking. “See you.” She turned herself around, and stumbled back through the door and out of sight. You breathed a sigh of relief.

“Sorry Todoroki, I’d better go,” you said quietly to him, getting up from your spot on the ground. He nodded. Both of your cheeks were still a bit pink from the almost kiss. “Goodnight.”

Before you could even take a single step, you felt a strong and warm hand grab yours. You stopped in your spot.

“Wait,” he said softly, his hand tightening around yours. “Call me Shoto when we’re alone.”

You felt a bright smile spread your lips as you beamed down at him. Your beautiful smile seemed infectious, and soon Todoroki found a shy grin on himself, which only grew bigger as he heard your sweet voice again.

“And you can call me [First],” you said brightly. You walked away from him, sparing one last teasing smile over your shoulder for him, before you disappeared behind the door. As you hurried back to your dorm, a new kind of emotional storm filled you.

Excitement. Contentment. Warmth and happiness. As you wiggled into your futon beside Uraraka, you found that you couldn’t sleep again as thoughts of Shoto Todoroki filled your mind.

Somehow, you didn’t mind being kept up this time.

Chapter Text

You woke up the next day in gentle happiness. You couldn’t help the bright smile that spread your lips when you remembered what happened last night. With a slight bounce in your every step, you folded away your futon, brushed your teeth, and changed into your UA gym uniform. You walked with the other girls down to the training grounds, and everyone made their way to their individual training stations.

Away from the other classmates, at your own large battlefield, Todoroki had already arrived. He stood there, waiting for you, looking very handsome like he always does. Your eyes met, and you both exchanged shy smiles.

“Hi,” you said softly, your smile widening.

“Hey,” he replied, his eyes gentle as he looked at you. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah,” you said, and you found yourself lost in his pretty eyes as you looked up at him.

“[Last] and Todoroki! Get going before I put you in remedial lessons!” Aizawa warned you, snapping the two of you back to attention.

“We should start training now,” you said after an uneasy glance at Aizawa.

“Yeah.” His gaze was still so gentle, and you suspected that he might not fight you seriously again.

“And don’t hold back just because we’re…” The words caught in your throat and you became a bit flustered. You still almost couldn’t believe it. Last night seemed surreal to you. “Just because we’re… you know… doesn’t mean you get to slack off or anything while fighting me.”

“Alright,” he said, smiling. “I won’t hold back just because we’re in a relationship now.” There he said it. Those thrilling words that made your cheeks darken a bit.

“Ok, here I come,” you announced. You took a deep breath before you threw your fist at him in a punch, which shattered the small ice barrier that Todoroki immediately raised around himself.

Like that, your sparring session started, and as the two of you fought against each other, as the two of you trained with each other, you started to reminisce about not only how much Todoroki had changed since you first met, but also about how you yourself had changed since your first day at UA high school.

In the beginning, he was to you just another strong person in Class 1A, while you were to him just another insignificant pebble on the side of his road to becoming the No 1 hero. You two didn’t pay each other any heed the first time you saw each other, for he was focused on defying his old man and you were there to atone for your sins. But now, both of your reasons to become heroes have drastically changed. As the months wore on, as you grew closer to your many classmates and found friends in all of them, you noticed that, bit by bit, your need for atonement had gradually lessened. As you spent more time with the bright people surrounding you, you found yourself smiling more and laughing louder. You gradually discovered that the path in front of you was not as dark and twisting, long and thorny as you had envisioned it.

You had found friends. You had found love. And you had found a new reason to become a hero.

***
Like yesterday, after the intense training, the students bathed, changed from their gym uniforms into their casual clothes, and started to make their dinner. They were to make, as Iida called it, the ultimate meat and potato stew. Once again, Class President Iida divided up the jobs between all the students. Bakugo, who demonstrated yesterday that he was very skilled at chopping up vegetables, got assigned to the vegetable station again. While Bakugo chopped and sliced his carrots up with speed and accuracy, you were trying your best with the potatoes to keep up with him. Despite your best effort, you noticed that Bakugo’s vegetable pieces were much more evenly and cleanly sliced than yours.

“You cut up vegetables better than I do,” you admitted ruefully beside him, scooping up your potato cubes and dropping them into the pot in front of you.

“Well, what did you expect?” Bakugo asked, chest puffing out slightly as the corner of his mouth lifted in a smirk. Then he added, “I’ll teach you.”

Your eyebrows raised in surprise. “You want to teach me?” That was certainly unexpected from the usually angry Bakugo.

“Your potato pieces look like crap,” he explained.

“Thanks, I’ll take you up on that offer,” you laughed lightly, scooping up his neat carrot slices and dropping them into the pot as well.

“Woah Bakugo, you’re amazing with a kitchen knife,” Uraraka told him, impressed as she delivered another box of carrots and potatoes for him. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“What do you mean you weren’t expecting that?!” Bakugo shouted, stung by Uraraka’s surprised tone. “Why would you expect me to be bad with a kitchen knife?!”

Smiling, you placed a lid on the pot filled with chopped vegetables, picked it up, and made your way to the fire pits. Midoriya was kneeling beside a fire pit, carefully arranging the wood and coal pieces. Todoroki stood beside him, carrying another pot filled with vegetables. As you approached them, you slowly started to notice that the two of them were talking.

“What about you, Todoroki?” Midoriya asked. “What would you say?”

“It depends.”

“Right, right, of course it depends, but…”

“Even if he’s told all the right things, if you don’t know his background, then you’ll only succeed in annoying him,” Todoroki elaborated on his previous answer. You narrowed your eyes suspiciously, but were slightly amused. Was Todoroki throwing shade at you? “If the speaker’s words alone were enough to move him, then that means it didn’t weigh that heavily on him to begin with.”

“Then...”

“The important thing is what the speaker has been through, what they’ve done up until that point, and what they’re doing right now,” Todoroki continued, focused on his conversation with Midoriya. You stopped in your tracks, surprised at the heartfelt advice that Todoroki was giving. “I think that words are always accompanied by actions.”

“You’re right. Now that you mention it, I guess I did come across as some bystander spouting nonsense,” Midoriya said, sighing a bit before he looked up and noticed you. “Oh [Last], were you standing there the whole time?”

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop or anything,” you said a bit quickly, becoming flustered. This certainly wasn’t the first time that you overheard a private conversation between Todoroki and Midoriya. “Bakugo and I filled this pot with vegetables too,” you tried to explain, raising the pot you were holding.

“It's ok,” Midoriya said, then a lightbulb seemed to light up behind his green eyes. “Actually, [Last], can I get your advice as well?”

“Advice about what?” you asked, setting your pot down on the fire pit.

“The boy who’s staying here with us… his name is Kota,” Midoriya began, rearranging the pieces of coal and wood again.

“The boy who punched you on the first day?” you asked, and Midoriya grimaced as he shuddered at the painful memory.

“He hates the whole world of heroes and quirks in general,” Todoroki added.

“And I couldn’t think of what I should tell him, for his sake,” Midoriya said, before he looked up at you again. “[Last], what would you do?”

“To be honest, I’m not really good at these things either… Reaching people through words...” you admitted. “Whenever I try to reach someone, I end up making them angry with me first.”

“But you still ended up saving them in the end,” Todoroki said from behind you. “You never gave up even though they ignored you for weeks, and you eventually saved them from their self hatred. They will never forget how much you helped them.”

“Thanks Todoroki, that’s really nice of you to say,” you said, eyes shining brightly at the meaning behind his words. “But unfortunately, Midoriya doesn’t have time on his side. We’re only here for a few more days.”

“That’s right,” Midoriya said, his eyes lowered in disappointment.

“And I disagree with what Todoroki said earlier,” you said, shooting an apologetic glance at Todoroki. “Words can be impactful. That’s why therapists exist. That’s why a long talk with a friend can make you feel so much better. Words by themselves can also be very powerful, but that’s only if the speaker understands the person fully.”

“I think I understand Kota...” Midoriya muttered, though his tone was unsure.

“Although I don’t know his story, the kid must have suffered a lot to think this badly of the world,” you continued. “The first step is to understand him, but it’s difficult to fully understand another person if you haven’t experienced the same pain that he did.”

“I see,” Midoriya said gloomily. You pursed your lips.

“Other than that, Todoroki’s right,” you said, putting a gentle hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. “Meaningful words are accompanied by meaningful actions. Without a chance to demonstrate a meaningful action, there’s not much that your words by themselves can do to him. Until he himself is rescued by a hero and experiences the emotions for himself, he’ll continue to think badly about heroes.”

“You’re right,” Midoriya said dolefully.

“Sorry, I didn’t help you much, did I?” you said, feeling a bit bad. “Do you want me to talk with him too?”

“No, it’s fine. Thanks for talking with me about it, you two,” Midoriya said, looking up at you and Todoroki.

“You know,” you added as an afterthought, “My uncle has always taught me that meddling when you don’t need to is the essence of being a true hero.”

“HEY, YOU THREE!” Iida’s voice boomed across the grounds at the three of you. “COME ON! WE’RE MAKING THE ULTIMATE MEAT AND POTATO STEW!”

“I guess that's our cue to go back to work,” you noted as you started to make your way back to your vegetable station. Todoroki caught up with you, his strides matching yours. The back of his hand brushed a bit against yours, causing a warm tingling sensation to travel up your arm.

“You know, you never cease to amaze me with the way you think,” he whispered to you, lowering his head to your height so the others wouldn’t hear. The sound of his voice so close to your ear caused a pleasant shiver to run down your spine. “Really, you’re incredible.”

“I still feel like I didn’t help much,” you admitted with a small sigh. “I haven’t really talked with or even seen Kota, so I’m not sure about what Midoriya could do...”

“You did your best to help, and I think there’s inherent value in that,” Todoroki said.

“Thank you,” you said softly. Although Todoroki was usually one of few words, many of those words had remained within yourr heart.

“By the way, you look very nice,” he commented with a nod at your clothing.

“Wh-what are you saying?” you stuttered, heat warming your face. “It’s just shorts and a tshirt.”

“I mean, I don’t get to see you in casual clothes that often. It’s a nice change from the UA uniforms,” he explained, a light pink colouring his cheeks. Then he quickly added, “Of course, you look very nice in anything you wear.”

“Are you flirting with me?” you playfully accused, poking him in his side.

“Maybe,” he admitted, a small grin spreading his lips.

***
The meat and potato stew was far from the “ultimate” one, but the class’s effort combined with everyone’s hungry stomachs made it taste top class. Ashido and Kaminari were moved close to tears as they tasted the first bite. They all ate quickly and finished their dinner as soon as possible, since they were all looking forward to the class vs class test of courage that the Cats were organizing. Both classes practically inhaled their food, then powerwashed their dishes. When the last plate was dried and put away, all the students gathered in front of the Cats and eagerly anticipated instructions. After making sure that everyone had arrived, Pixiebob addressed both classes.

“Your bellies are full and the plates are washed! Now it’s time for...”

“The test of courage!” Ashido yelled, unable to contain her excitement as she and Kaminari pumped their fists into the air. “Finally! I’ve been waiting for this for weeks! I’m so excited and-”

“Before that,” Aizawa interrupted with his usual monotone voice, “It pains my heart but the remedial gang needs to come with me for a remedial lesson.”

Kirishima and Sato’s shoulders drooped in disappointment. Sero’s mouth fell open in disbelief. Kaminari looked in shock, as if someone had just slapped him.

“NO WAY!” Ashido shrieked. The five of them, as if sharing a single mindset, all turned on their heels and ran, scrambling to escape away from Aizawa’s wrath. However, Aizawa’s capturing weapon quickly caught up to them, wrapping around them and immobilizing them.

“Please let us go!” Ashido screamed. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears. “Please! Forgive us! Let us go scare them!”

“Sorry, their training during the day was more negligent than I expected, so I’ll be taking them away,” Aizawa explained to Pixiebob.

“Alright, Class B will be doing the scaring first,” Pixiebob went on, as if nothing happened. “Class A will enter the route in groups of two, which we’ll decide by drawing lots!” Here, she started going around, offering a bright pink bag. Tokoyami, the student closest to her, stuck his hand into the bag and pulled out what appeared to be a tag with a number one on it.

“That means you’re in group 1, and you’ll be entering the route first,” Pixiebob explained to Tokoyami before she went around with the bag of numbers for the other students. When it was your turn to draw, you put your hand into the bag and drew out your tag.

“Hey, did you get group 2?” Todoroki asked from beside you, a hopeful note in his voice.

“No, I got group 8,” you replied, showing him the number tag that you had drawn. On your other side, Bakugo had just pulled his hand out of the number bag. He stared at his tag for a few seconds in disbelief.

“Huh? I’m with half half bastard?” Bakugo growled, his voice raising in volume with every word. “[Last], switch with me.”

“That’s a good idea,” Todoroki said with a glance at you, but Bakugo seemed to take his words the wrong way.

“Are you mocking me?” Bakugo challenged, narrowing his eyes at Todoroki. “Are you saying I can’t have good ideas?”

“Hey [Last],” Midoriya’s voice said from behind you. “I got group 8 too.”

“Nevermind, I’d rather have half half bastard than Deku,” Bakugo said. You furrowed your eyebrows. After you passed your end of term test as a team, Bakugo had become a bit nicer to you, but you didn’t really understand why he was still quite mean to Midoriya. Maybe old habits just died hard.

“But...” Todoroki began.

“It’s ok, Todoroki,” you said, offering him a soft reassuring smile. “What’s the worst that could happen in a test of courage? I’ll be just fine with Midoriya.”

“Alright, everyone has drawn their numbers!” Pixiebob announced. “It’s time for pair number 1 to enter the route, where the Class B students will do their best to scare you! Tokoyami kitty and Shoji kitty! Go!”

Tokoyami and Shoji entered the clearing between the trees and disappeared into the woods. Three minutes later, group 2’s turn came to enter the forest. Before he set off on his way, Todoroki glanced back at you, and your eyes met, and you found that you couldn’t look away. His beautiful eyes were captivating, absolutely breathtaking, and Todoroki was looking at you in such a way that made your heart race.

“Move, half half bastard. I don’t have all day,” Bakugo said angrily, snapping Todoroki out of his daze.

“Right,” Todoroki responded, reluctantly tearing his gaze away from yours as he followed Bakugo into the forest, quickly disappearing into the woods.

“Hey [Last], are you ok?” Midoriya asked from beside you. “Your face is red.”

“Is it?” you squeaked out, slapping your cool palms to your warm face in embarrassment.

One by one, the pairs entered the route when it was their turn. As the minutes passed, you heard a few screams here and there. Well, it was a test of courage after all, where people scare each other. Nothing out of the ordinary.

And then the black smoke came from the forest.

“What’s that smell? Is something burning?” Pixiebob asked as she turned to Mandalay. “Hey, should we check it out?”

Right after she finished that sentence, someone leapt from within the woods, and slammed full force into the side of Pixiebob’s face. She crumpled to the ground, knocked out cold from the impact. Another jumped out into the opening, and the two figures revealed themselves, villainous glints in their bloodthirsty eyes.

“Villains!” Iida and Ojiro shouted in realization.

“We were supposed to be perfectly safe!” Mineta shouted in disbelief. “Why are there villains here?”

“Oh no,” Midoriya gasped in sudden realization. “Kota!”

You looked at him in worry. “Midoriya, are you-?”

“Everyone, get back! Tiger and I can handle this! Run!” Mandalay commanded as she and Tiger sprung in front of the startled students, preparing to face off against the villains. “Class President! Lead them!”

“Understood! We’re going!” Iida responded.

“Iida, go on without me,” Midoriya said, his gaze focused on a spot in the distance.

“Midoriya?!”

“There’s something I need to do,” he said simply before he took off running into the woods.

“Dammit Midoriya,” you muttered before you sped off too, following him. You heard Iida call after you, but neither of you stopped. “Hey Midoriya! You want to save Kota, don’t you? I’ll back you up.”

“[Last], did you see the black smoke from before?” Midoriya said as you caught up to him. “That wasn’t natural smoke. There are more villains around and Kota might be in danger.”

“Why are we headed this way?” you asked as the two of you ran across the uneven forest ground together. “Shouldn’t he be safe at the facility lodge?”

“He’s probably at his secret hideout right now, away from everyone else. I found the place when I followed him yesterday,” Midoriya quickly explained. “And I’m the only one who knows where his hideout is!”

“Alright. Lead the way,” you told him. Right then, a figure dropped from the sky and landed heavily in front of them. Dust and debris shot up from the impact and clouded the air, forcing the two of you to stop in your tracks.

“What on earth?!” Midoriya screeched, raising his arms to shield his face from the debris.

“Must be a villain! Don’t let your guard down!” you shouted, squinting into the gradually clearing dust cloud. Soon enough, you could make out a tall male figure, alone in the small crater that he created. He stood up leisurely, as if he had all the time in the world. A chilling breeze blew through the scene, sweeping away the dust, and your eyes widened at just who you were facing. His suit was as pristine as ever, and his hair was neatly slicked back.

And the dark, dark eyes of Lieutenant Calamity coldly stared back at you.

“A villain,” Midoriya muttered. “What should we do?”

“Midoriya! Go!” you shouted. “I’ll hold him off!”

“What? And leave you to fight this villain alone?”

“You have to save Kota!” you responded.

“[Last], I’ll fight too!”

“Midoriya, go!” you shouted again, your gaze focused on the villain in front of you.

“What are you saying?! I’ll fight with you!”

“You don’t have time! Kota’s in danger!” You then turned to him, and caught his eyes with yours as you pleaded with him. “Don’t you trust me? Do you not believe in me?”

He hesitated. His eyebrows crinkled. He didn’t answer you, but you could tell that Midoriya was in the middle of making his uneasy decision.

“You believed in me before during our practical exam. I’m asking you to believe in me again,” you reasoned with him. Midoriya grit his teeth, and reluctantly turned away from you. “I’ll meet you back at the facility lodge. Go before Kota gets killed.”

“Alright, I believe in you! Good luck!” With one last hesitant glance over his shoulder, Midoriya let One for All course through his body, green electricity flowing through his veins, as he leapt away and into the woods. As the wind howled around you, whipping through the tree branches surrounding you, you were left alone to face your father.

“So, you’re finally here in front of me,” you began, every word dripping with venom, and yet you forced your mind to remain clear. You had to stall for time, for long enough for Midoriya to rescue that boy. Even so, the questions that had been burning inside of you flowed out. “You used us, didn’t you? The time we spent together meant nothing to you.”

He didn't answer. His dark, dark eyes remained staring indifferently at you.

A multitude of emotions crashed through your body. This was it. You had dreamed about meeting him for years, and yet you stayed in your spot, refusing to let those emotions take control of you again. The old you would have rushed at him without a second thought. Even a few days ago, you would have rushed at him without a second thought, but now, Todoroki’s words rang through your mind.

“It’s ok. I just don’t want you getting hurt.” He had said after you admitted to your hypocrisy when he walked you home. He really was too good to you...

“[First] [Last],” Lieutenant Calamity’s low voice said. “You’ll be coming with me.”

… and you’ll be damned if you make him worry over you again.

“And what if I don’t want to go with you?” you challenged.

“You have something that belongs to our teacher. Either you come with me willingly, or I’ll have no choice but to force you to.” His voice was cold, nothing at all like the warm and kind voice from your memories. Oh, how things had changed over the years. “So what will it be? The easy way, or the more difficult way?”

“I don’t know what I have that belongs to your teacher,” you said, bracing yourself for the battle that was to come. “But you must be dreaming if you think I’m gonna go willingly,”

“A stupid girl making stupid decisions,” he simply said, before he moved faster than you could see. In a flash, he reached beside him, unearthed a tree by its roots, and hurled it at you. It was all you could do to pull out your reflection shield in time. As soon as it made contact with you, the vectors acting on the tree reversed and it shot straight back. Right away, it was blasted into a hundred splinters of wood as the Lieutenant wasted no time. He dug his heel into the ground, and the earth erupted from beneath your feet, throwing you off balance for a moment. You leapt off the ground, letting the air currents carry your weight. Another massive tree flew at you, which burst into pieces when you struck it with your fist. In a split second, unforeseeable through the wreckage of wood pieces falling through the air, a rock the size of your head shot at you, sinking into your stomach, and you were sent hurtling down to the ground.

Panting, you pushed yourself off the ground right as the Lieutenant lunged at you, his fist colliding into your forehead. A metallic scraping sound wailed through the air as the two twin quirks struggled against each other, Vector Control against Vector Control, father against daughter.

The Lieutenant amplified the force behind his fist against your forehead. It was cruel. Absolutely merciless. He really was a monster.

You couldn’t even afford to breathe. Your shield desperately struggled against the barbaric force in front of you. A single sliver of hesitation, and all the force behind his hit would break through and end you in an instant. Your head felt like it would burst open. You desperately resisted, as your mind furiously hammered out calculations in order to oppose this force, this absolute cruelty. Just like during your fight with All Might, cold beads of sweat rolled down your temple. Goosebumps erupted all over your body. You were approaching your limit almost unbelievably quickly. Your mind was ringing, as if warning you that any more force against you would break you.

The Lieutenant amplified his force again, and a second later, your shield gave in, broken, shattered into a thousand little pieces. The leftover vigor and power from his punch that you were not able to block hit you with full force, and you were knocked back, crashing hard into the tree behind you. The back of your head banged against the wood, and bursts of colour flashed in front of your eyes. You blinked furiously, fiercely trying to shake off the dizziness. The Lieutenant advanced towards you.

“I know you have a limit,” he said to you, as if mocking you. He stopped in front of you. “And if it’s a test of endurance, obviously I’ll win.”

“Go to hell,” you growled back, too dizzy to pull yourself back onto your feet. The Lieutenant looked coldly down at you, before he reached for you.

“At the end of the day, you’re nothing but a spoiled little brat who needs to be taught a lesson.”

The Lieutenant’s hands closed around your neck. He lifted his arms into the air, dangling you by his grip on your throat.

“Daddy, can you please look under my bed?” a little four year old asked as her father tucked her in. Her large bright eyes were filled with worry.

“How come?” her father gently asked. “What do you think is under your bed?”

“Monsters,” the little girl answered. Her father smiled at the child’s active imagination, before he got down on all fours and looked underneath the bed for his daughter’s amusement.

“Nope. No monsters,” he said, getting up. “Now go to bed.”

He turned to leave, but a small and soft hand grabbed his.

“Please don’t leave,” the little girl pleaded. And she looked at him with those large eyes, just like her mother’s. She really was a little carbon copy of her mother. Those large bright eyes peered into the darker ones, begging him to stay.

“Alright,” he agreed, caving in. “I’ll stay so you can fall asleep.”

You could barely breathe. Your dull fingernails scraped futilely against the Lieutenant’s hands, desperately trying to pry his fingers off you. His grip of steel remained strong as ever around your throat.

“Mommy looks like the princess,” the little girl said, pointing at an illustration in her favourite princess picture book, showing her parents. “See? Mommy is the princess.”

Her father laughed. He reached down, put his large warm hand on her head, and ruffled her hair. “You’re almost right, [First], but not quite. Mommy is the Queen.”

Her mother laughed and blushed.

“And you are my little Princess,” he finished, picking her up and spinning her around.

And the child was the happiest girl in the world, laughing in her father’s arms.

Your head was swimming. Your lungs burned from lack of oxygen. Your legs flailed around, desperately kicking around, desperately feeling around for some sort of support, but finding none as the Lieutenant’s hands throttled you. Your eyes glazed over.

“Daddy, do you know where babies come from?” the little girl asked one day at the breakfast table.

Her father choked on his coffee.

“W-What?” he gasped out, setting his mug down. Her mother snorted and covered her mouth, trying to hide her smile behind her hand.

“Do you know where babies come from?” the child repeated, without missing a beat.

“Uh...” her father hesitated. “Uh… why don’t you ask your mom?”

That immediately stopped the laughter that her mother was trying to stifle behind her hand.

“Hey Mommy,” the little girl turned to her mother. “Where do babies come from?”

“I don’t know either,” her mother replied, her smile bright as ever. “Maybe you’ll find out when you’re older.”

Now it was the father’s turn to laugh. What on earth could be so funny about that question, the little girl pondered. She wondered if her parents were keeping secrets from her.

“You damn… traitor...” you managed to wheeze out before your eyelids drooped over your glassy eyes. Your hands let go of the Lieutenant’s as your arms fell to your sides, completely limp as all the fight was strangled out of you.

“Hey Daddy, with a quirk like yours, why aren’t you a hero?” she asked, playing with her dolls on the couch beside her father.

Her father sighed, setting his newspaper down. Instead of answering her question, he reached over and gently pat her on the head.

“Maybe I’ll tell you another time,” he answered.

“That’s what you said last time,” she pouted.

“Sorry [First], maybe next time.”

“Alright,” she agreed dully, knowing she wasn’t going to get an answer anytime soon. Then, her large eyes lit up in excitement again. “You know, I’m four years old already! That means I’m gonna get my quirk soon!”

“Is that so?” her father asked in amusement. “The years really did fly by.”

“Yeah! I can’t wait! I hope it’s like yours!” The little girl couldn’t stop her enthusiasm. “Then I can become super cool like All Might on TV! I can become a super amazing hero!”

A shadow seemed to pass over her father’s eyes.

“You’d be better off with your mother’s quirk.” He muttered those words to himself, but the little girl still caught them.

“You were… a villain… all this time… weren’t you...” This final sentence that you spoke wasn’t a question. It was a declaration out of spite, the acknowledgement of his betrayal and how you hated every fibre of his being.

At that moment, something very strange happened. Right before you were about to pass out from suffocation, the lieutenant’s grip around you trembled, and he let go. You fell to the rough forest ground, panting and gasping for air. Your vision swam. Your hands shakily went to your neck, weakly massaging the bruising skin. A few seconds passed as you tried to catch your breath. However, your small moment of relief was short lived as the lieutenant grabbed you by the collar of your tshirt, revved his fist back and…

Your glassy eyes widened a fraction in surprise. Were those tears in his eyes?

… and your vision faded to black.

***
Ever since he saw the black smoke, Todoroki had a bad feeling. Then the villains appeared, and the situation turned from bad to worse. These villains were different than the ones from USJ. They were much stronger, and clearly had much more experience. Mandalay’s telepathic message came through, which gave the students permission to fight back, and warned everyone that the villains were after Bakugo. Carrying an unconscious Class B student on his back, unable to use his left side in case it caused a forest fire, and doing his best to protect a furious Bakugo at the same time, Todoroki struggled against the experienced villain who expertly dodged every one of his attacks. Shoji and Midoriya then showed up, chased by Tokoyami’s rampaging Dark Shadow, which crushed the villain in front of them with no effort. Todoroki and Bakugo then ended Dark Shadow’s frenzy when they tamed him by using the light produced by their quirks. Next, they formed the “Bakugo Escort Squad” and made their way through the forest towards the facility lodge, where they’ll be safe.

Of course, Todoroki had noticed that you were not with Midoriya when he first appeared with Shoji. But given the current situation, with everyone trying to recover from the scuffle with the villains, Todoroki didn’t want to cause any more panic. Midoriya, who was resting on Shoji’s back, was extremely injured. From the looks of it, both of his arms were broken and he seemed almost on the verge of passing out, so Todoroki didn’t want to overwhelm him with questions. Besides, you were strong, Todoroki kept telling himself. In a battlefield like this, a quirk like yours would have no problem. But worry gnawed at him and chipped away at him from the inside out until he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Midoriya,” he finally said. “I apologize for possibly sounding inconsiderate, but where’s [Last]?”

Midoriya seemed to hesitate. His brows furrowed. Todoroki felt his stomach drop and he felt his entire body run cold.

“Midoriya? Where’s [Last]?” Todoroki tried again, a hint of panic in his voice.

“We got separated when a villain came. She said she’ll meet us at the facility lodge,” Midoriya finally answered quietly. The clearing was in front of them. They had almost made it.

“Alright.” Todoroki quickened his pace. If you weren’t there, Todoroki thought anxiously, then he’ll look for you and find you, no matter how large the forest was. Even if he had to search every nook and cranny, so be it. He’ll find you and protect you, no matter what, no matter where you were.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Midoriya said, more to himself than anyone else. “I believe in her.”

They broke out of the clearing and were met with the scared faces of Uraraka and Asui.

“Uraraka! You’re hurt! Are you ok?” Midoriya said, noticing the deep gash on Uraraka’s thigh.

“A villain got me, but it’s nothing. I can still walk. I’m fine,” Uraraka said, then she noticed Midoriya’s condition. “Deku! You’re in way worse shape than me!”

“It’s ok, we’re escorting Kacchan back to the facility lodge.”

“Huh?” Asui croaked out. “If you’re escorting Bakugo, then where is he?”

Everyone froze, as if they were all suddenly drenched in ice cold water. Midoriya, Shoji, and Todoroki looked around, but Bakugo and Tokoyami were nowhere to be found.

“Katsuki Bakugo?” a new voice from behind them asked, and everyone whipped around to see a masked villain perched above them on the branch of a tree. He was dressed peculiarly in a long trench coat and a magician’s hat. The mask covering his face appeared to have a smile painted onto it. He leisurely and confidently leaned on his walking cane, as if taunting them. In one gloved hand, he twirled around two small marbles. “I used my magic and palmed him. He isn’t the kind of talent that should be on the hero side, so we’re gonna take him to a stage where he can really shine.”

Before the students could respond, the tree leaves rustled, and a new figure appeared and landed beside the masked villain. Todoroki recognized his pristine suit right away, from that time at the Shopping Mall, and his breath caught in his throat when he saw exactly who the Lieutenant was carrying in his arms.

“Mr Compress,” the Lieutenant addressed, handing the unconscious [First] over to the masked villain. “You take her.”

“Lieutenant? Teacher entrusted only you with the task of capturing [First] [Last]. The rest of us are to focus on capturing Katsuki Bakugo,” Mr Compress said, slightly confused as he took the girl. He was even more surprised when he looked the Lieutenant over. The usually calm and cold Lieutenant seemed thoroughly shaken up as beads of sweat dripped down his temple. This was not the cool and collected powerhouse that Mr Compress was used to.

The Lieutenant held a hand up to clutch his head, as if it was causing him great pain. “You take her. I’ve done enough,” he said simply.

“Alright then,” Mr Compress said, and the Lieutenant stepped off the branch, and vanished into the woods.

Todoroki was the first to jump into action. “Get out of the way!” he shouted to his classmates as he dug his heel into the ground. A stream of ice shot up the trunk of the tree, aiming for Mr Compress, who leapt into the air with surprising agility. At the same time, with a simple flourish of his hand, you disappeared in a whirl of wind, and another small marble rested between his fingers.

Todoroki’s vision turned red. “GIVE HER BACK!”

Absolutely livid, he let his full power loose. Everyone around him was reminded of that move he had used at the Sports Festival, where an intense and great cold, a cold more bitter than anything anyone had ever experienced seemed to freeze over hell itself. Where it was as if the ground itself had erupted, as the frigidness seeped through the crevices of the earth, and released that great cold upon them all. A colossal wave of ice shot at Mr Compress, who expertly wove out of the way, as if the ice didn’t even faze him.

“Sorry folks, deception and running away are my only saving graces,” Mr Compress said to them. “I’m not sticking around to fight aspiring hero cadets.”

And he shot himself off through the air, away from the students.

“WE CAN’T LET HIM!” Todoroki roared. Midoriya and Uraraka blinked in surprise. This was the first time they’ve seen the always calm and collected Todoroki lose his cool like this. “WE CAN’T LET HIM ESCAPE!”

Todoroki felt all restraint leave him as he frantically chased after the villain. From his early childhood, he had always been alone. His father made sure he only had time for training. When his mother was taken away, he was left to endure a life of cruelty by himself, alone and in the bitter cold. For years, pain and guilt bound him to his past. For years, he suffered alone, until that certain problem girl came and broke through the barrier he had frozen around himself. You gave him warmth and encouragement, and pulled him out of the cold and deep darkness trapping him, and showed him that he wasn’t alone anymore.

Please don’t go. Don’t leave me alone again. It’s much colder and darker this time.

***
These are the facts of what happened that night.

They managed to save Tokoyami, who the villains also tried to take. However, despite the students’ best efforts, the villains captured Bakugo and you. Right before Todoroki’s eyes, he saw you being taken away from him.

And he wasn’t able to do anything.

Of the students present, fifteen were rendered unconscious by the villains’ gas attack. Eleven students sustained injuries, both minor and grave. Thirteen were unscathed.

And Katsuki Bakugo and [First] [Last]’s whereabouts were unknown.

Chapter Text

Katsuki Bakugo opened his eyes to a dark and small room. It was deathly quiet. Slightly disoriented, but rapidly coming to his senses, he fully realized his current situation when he found himself strapped to a chair. All the memories from the villain attack that happened at the training camp rushed back to him, and he knew right away that he wanted to get out of here. As if second nature to him, energy swirled around his palms, preparing to blast himself out of his restraints. However, no explosion came. Bakugo looked down, and saw his hands were bound in what appeared to be a slab of concrete, like the contraption that UA used when they tied him down during the Sports Festival. Now the panic was starting to hit him. He couldn’t use his quirk with this thing binding his hands.

He looked around the small room, taking in his surroundings. Having adjusted to the darkness, his eyes fell on the familiar figure of his classmate. Relief that he wasn’t alone washed over him at once, but that was followed by guilt as he realized the fact that [Last] was here meant that she was captured as well. Unlike him, she didn’t get a chair. Wrists bound in front of her by rope, she lay on her side. Her bottom lip was swollen and the corner of her mouth was bit bloody. There were purple, hand shaped bruises all over her neck, as if someone had tried to strangle her. Her eyelids were closed, but the steady rise and fall of her stomach told him she was breathing.

She was alive. At least for now.

“[Last]?”

No response. She lay, concerningly still, on the wooden floor. Bakugo tried to get up, but the restraints binding him to the chair kept him in place. He might not be able to use his quirk with this concrete crap on him, but [Last] surely can, right? The enemy seemed to have been more lenient on her restraints than they were on his.

“Hey! [Last]!” he shouted. You stirred a bit. Your hand twitched.

“Wake up!” Bakugo tried again. Your eyelids slowly fluttered open. Sluggishly, your eyes landed on him.

“Bakugo?” Your voice was barely above a whisper.

“[Last], wake the fuck up!”

You groaned. Your head was swimming. “Bakugo...” you slurred, as if you were drunk. “Where... are we?”

“I don’t know, but you can bust us out of here, right?” Bakugo asked hopefully. “Hurry up and use your quirk so we can kick the shit out of those villains!”

“My… quirk...” you breathed. You were awake now, but you didn’t feel awake. No matter how hard you tried to focus, your world was spinning. Your limbs felt as heavy as lead, weighing you down. You tried to move your head to shake away the dizziness, but even that felt too heavy to lift. It felt like you were stuck in a dream, a surreal nightmare where you had no control over your body. But Bakugo was right. You had to get out of here first.

I’ll try 1000 Newtons up, you thought. That should be enough force to rip the ropes tying your wrists down. You’ll start by breaking yourself out of your restraints, and then you’ll free Bakugo.

Furrowing your eyebrows, you tried your best to clear your mind and focus on the ropes binding your wrists together. The ropes shifted a bit, but did not break.

1000 Newtons up, you mentally thought again, willing your quirk to work with you during your time of need. The ropes once again stirred a little, but quickly settled back against your wrists.

“Bakugo, it’s not working. My quirk isn’t working,” you whispered, small voice laced with panic. You tried to lift your head to look at him, but it wouldn’t budge. “I can’t move my body either.”

“What the hell?”

The door to the small room swung open, flooding the small room with light.

“It seems like you’re awake now,” a new voice said. The male, whose face looked stitched together, seemed just a few years older than you. One hand was holding the doorknob, and in the other was a syringe, its needle glinting in the dim light.

“No shit,” Bakugo snarled, but there was an edge of panic in his voice. He recognized this man as one of his kidnappers. “What do you want, shitface?”

“The name’s Dabi, but I’m not here to get you just yet,” the villain said to Bakugo as his attention fell onto you, who were trying to turn your head to look at him with evident difficulty.

“Trying to get up is useless, Miss [Last].” Dabi said your name with a haughty sort of politeness, as if mocking you. “It should be obvious by now, but you’ve been drugged. Now, it’d be best if you stay still, or else your new dose will hurt a lot.” He started towards you, raising the syringe, which was filled with a clear liquid.

“Get the hell away from her, you bastard!” Bakugo shouted. He struggled to get up, but the chains and ropes binding him to the chair would not budge, and his explosions were not coming, no matter how much he tried to blast himself free. Dabi crouched in front of you, who were trying and failing to squirm away from him on the ground.

“You’re a fighter, aren’t you,” Dabi laughed at your feeble and panicked attempts. He threaded his free hand through your hair, then yanked your head back, exposing your soft neck. He placed the syringe into position against the skin on your neck. “Now don’t move, unless you want it to hurt.”

“No,” you tried your best to shout, but the word came out as a murmur. “Stop.”

“You bastard!” Bakugo shouted. “Don't you dare!”

The needle pierced into you. Pain shot through your skin from where the syringe entered you. You felt the cool liquid crawl down your neck, into your bloodstream. The drug’s effects were immediate, as your pupils dilated and your mind fogged up to the point of being unable to think. Bakugo’s voice, as he let out a string of curses at Dabi, echoed strangely. Darkness was everywhere as you fought your hardest to stay awake. It seeped into your vision as your sight became blurry. It surrounded you as your panicked panting calmed into light breathing. It caressed you as it beckoned you to sleep, to leave all your worries behind and sink into it.

You blacked out.

***
You woke up to a room different than the one you had previously been with Bakugo. Unlike before, you appeared to be sitting up, and you seemed to be completely awake now. It was good that your head wasn’t spinning anymore. Now, you could actually think of a way to escape. You looked down. Ropes were binding your ankles and wrists so tightly to the chair that they were digging into you, surely leaving red etch marks in your skin. You tried to rip out of them, calling your quirk to aid you, but once again, it failed you, and the rope dug into your soft skin even more.

You inhaled, and noticed that the air contained a strange, almost farm like scent. You looked up and around, and noticed that you were not alone in the room. There wasn’t much light given by the single candlestick on the wooden table in front of you, but you eventually made out a collection of cages and tanks of various sizes all cramped in the corner of the room. You squinted, and realized that every container housed a small animal.

A sudden movement in one of the cages caught your attention. Your head snapped to it in alarm. A white dove had flown from one side of its small cage to the other. You relaxed, taking a deep breath. In the candlelight, the bird’s pure white feathers seemed to glow a warm orange hue. It was lovely.

“It seems like you’re trapped here like I am,” you muttered more to yourself than to the bird. You pulled on your restraints again, but the ropes would not budge.

The door of the room opened, the small flame of the candle flickering from the movement, and in stepped two figures.

The first one to enter had the appearance of a normal clown that you would see at carnivals, except it seemed like all the colour had been drained from his figure, leaving just white and black in place of vivid pigment. As soon as the clown made eye contact with you, he grinned. That unnerving and disturbing smile seemed too wide for his face. You also noticed that he pulled with him a cart, its wheels squealing horribly as it came to a stop. You looked closer, and came to the disturbing realization that the cart was carrying an assortment of sharp knives and shiny hammers.

The second person to enter the room was much taller than the clown. The black suit that he wore was pristine, just like the one that your piece of crap father had. His face was covered by a black, skull-like mask with metal, angular pipes at the top and around his neck.

“Oh good, you’ve woken up,” the tall, masked villain said to you, tone dark and foreboding. “Trying to escape is useless as you’re still drugged. My subordinate here has spent the last two days specially designing a custom drug for you from the blood of animals, since we need you conscious.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Miss [Last],” the black and white clown said, bowing deeply.

“My subordinate here is known as the Entertainer,” the taller villain introduced. “It’s a pleasure to have you here with us, [First] [Last]. I’ve waited a long time for this. To meet you, face to face, and to speak with you.”

“Who are you?” you asked, careful to keep your tone level despite the overwhelming aura of dread that the tall villain was giving off.

“After all these years, you’ve grown up so much. Of course, you don’t remember me, but I remember you,” the man said, looming over you, his hulking figure blocking the light from the single candle. “Let me introduce myself. I’m the one behind the League of Villains.”

He took off his mask, the multiple metal tubes clanking against each other. He stepped forward, toward her, facing you as you stared back at the grotesque sight. This villain almost did not look human, as scars completely covered the upper half of his face, the places where his eyes and nose should have been.

“I am All for One.”

“All for One...” you repeated, “But that’s impossible. All Might fought and killed you five years ago.” Your soft voice was full of suspicion mixed with fear as you spoke, unwilling to believe that the strongest villain in history was still alive and standing right in front of you. Your wrists and ankles twitched against their restraints, as if in a subconscious attempt to break free, but to no avail. What could your quirkless state do, in this situation?

“That ‘Symbol of Peace’ eyesore wounded me five years ago, yes, but I survived!” All for One laughed. A mocking laugh, cold and cruel. “I survived, I lived, and I recovered. And it is now time for me to reclaim my title as the Symbol of Evil.”

“If it’s time for you to make your debut into the public again, then why did you send your underlings to capture two high school kids?”

“Tomura Shigaraki saw in Katsuki Bakugo the potential to be an important pawn and wanted to use him,” All for One answered you. “Bakugo was Tomura’s target, but I have no use for Bakugo. I already have several explosion quirks in my possession. One more would make no difference. My target was you, [First] [Last].”

Here, his tone hardened into a deeper one, malicious and full of greed. A bead of cold sweat rolled down your temple, as you were fully aware of how dangerous and dire your current situation was.

“You see, I had wanted my lieutenant’s quirk for a long time now… for much too long... but his fighting ability and battle efficiency are much too valuable to lose like that if I take his quirk. So I formulated another plan. Yes, he would have a child born with Vector Control, and I would take the quirk from that child.

“I had him marry. He obeyed everything I told him, like the mindless tool he is, like the obedient dog I trained him to be ever since the day I found him as an orphan on the streets. He married another one of my underlings, like I told him to. It wasn’t important who the mother was. His quirk was what I wanted, and I was so close to finally obtaining it. But things never work out the way you intend. Every single pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Worse still, sixteen years ago, my lieutenant disappeared after I sent him on another mission. I had worried that he might have died and taken my chance of obtaining the quirk to the grave with him. But after hearing that he had run away from me, that he had chosen that weak and stupid Yagi woman over me, his master, I was furious at his betrayal. It was the first time he had disobeyed me.”

You noticed that his hands had clenched so hard that his knuckles turned white. He paused, taking a slow breath, before he continued again.

“But then I realized that this may be my second chance to obtain that quirk. I tracked them down, and saw for myself that the Yagi woman was pregnant. I took my chance and gave her unborn child a gift, the quirk called Awakening. When she realized who I was, she and my lieutenant fled the country. Overseas, you were born, my lieutenant’s bastard child and the vessel for the quirk that I wanted for myself. It took me years to track them down. It took a bit of ‘convincing’, but my lieutenant finally returned to me, and I’ve successfully converted him back into the empty tool that he always was,” All for One paused here, as if taking the moment to be vengefully satisfied.

You sat in silence. You felt sick. A lot of this was not making sense. Your piece of crap father had used your mother for his own selfishness, hadn’t he? Your mother was nothing but a toy for him, nothing special, so why did he run away with her? If he was just using her, why did he disobey his master to stay with her?

“But of course, things never go as you intend for them. My lieutenant’s wife had also been trying to find you, and when she did, the stupid woman acted on her own impulsive emotions and attacked you, and almost killed the quirk I wanted. But, a miracle happened. You had survived, but once again, I lost your trail, and it was years later, when I watched the UA Sports Festival broadcast, that I realized you moved back to Japan.” Here, he laughed again, a crazed, out of control sound. “And now, finally, after all these years, I have you right in front of me.

“You see?” All for One asked you, facing you now. “All this hassle to make a hybrid quirk to match All Might’s power.”

“Hybrid quirk…?” you muttered after him. All for One went on.

“Seventeen years ago, I had recently obtained a rather interesting quirk after defeating its previous owner. Its activation heals the user of any previous injuries and enhances the user’s capabilities beyond any limits, beyond anything of which anyone could ever possibly dream. Yes, Awakening is immensely powerful, but also uncontrollable. Once it is activated, you transform and completely lose your mind, and turning back to human is next to impossible, which is terribly inconvenient. It was a stressful time for me, and at the same time, the eyesore All Might was bringing my subordinates down, one by one.

“But then, watching him take down my subordinates effortlessly like that gave me an idea. Or rather, his hybrid quirk called One for All gave me the idea to make my own hybrid quirk.”

“How do you know his quirk’s name?” you asked in disbelief. “You’re bluffing. No one knows his quirk’s name.”

“Yes, I know that quirk’s name, because I am the one who created it,” All for One said softly. “One for All, composed of a quirk that stockpiles power, and another one that allows it to be passed to others. The two merged and formed a hybrid that is far greater than the sum of its parts. This is the power that used to be inside your uncle, until he passed it on.”

You blinked. “What does my uncle have to do with this?”

“Has he told you nothing?” All for One scoffed at you. “Foolish girl, All Might is your mother’s big brother!”

“You liar. All Might can’t possibly be my uncle,” you said. If you were not currently in such an ominous circumstance right now, you would have laughed at this absurd declaration. “All Might is all muscle, and Uncle is all skin and bones. Besides, Uncle is quirkless. You can’t fool me.”

“Little girl, in this world full of quirks, anything is possible.”

“I don’t believe you! He can't be a hero!” you said, shaking your head. You didn’t like this joke that the villain was telling. “Uncle got into an accident five years ago that critically injured him.”

“Five years ago was when I fought him,” All for One said calmly. “I was the one who gave him that wound.”

“There’s no way I’ll believe your lies,” you said determinedly, your eyes narrowed almost into slits, glaring at him.

“Little girl, your uncle was the one who has been lying to you all this time. You were just too blinded by your trust in him to realize,” All for One stated, calmly and coldly. “But it doesn’t matter to me if you believe it or not. That is not important. What is important is that you are the vessel for the hybrid quirk that I have painstakingly waited years to obtain.

“The Vector Control quirk with which you had been born, and the Awakening quirk, which I gifted you back when you were still in your mother’s womb. Finally, the time has come for me to take the hybrid that those two made.”

“Why is Vector Control so special?” you asked. “There are plenty of other quirks similar to it.”

“Stupid child, the quirk called Vector Control is the only one of its kind,” All for One continued, his deep voice once again soaked in greed. “The quirk that rules over all the physics governing this world and the universe itself. The quirk with unlimited possibilities and usages. The quirk whose potential dominates over all others. Wasted on a weak little girl like you.”

Your hands clenched tightly, your nails stabbing into your palms.

“Yes, you are weak. So pitifully weak, just like your mother,” he spoke to you in such a callous tone. “You have not even scraped the surface of its locked potential. You can’t do anything with that pitiful limit of yours.”

“Well, sorry I’m such a disappointment,” you couldn’t help but retort sarcastically. Your mind, your instincts, any reasonable part of you was telling you to shut up before the situation goes from bad to worse, but you went on, breathing fast. “Seems like you wasted Awakening on me too, and your plan wasn’t as great as you thought it was.”

But instead of lashing out at you like you expected him to, his lips curled up. All for One smiled at you, a twisted smile that was even more terrifying than any angry expression he could have made.

“I made a miscalculation. I originally thought it would become easier to control after being cultivated by another, but I thought wrong. Awakening is a rather curious quirk. It seems to have a mind of its own. It appears to not want to leave you. Not only that, but since it has merged itself with Vector Control, I cannot take that quirk either. How annoying.”

“So your plan completely backfired,” you said triumphantly, but you still didn’t understand why he looked so pleased with himself. “Now you have no way to take it for yourself.”

“Oh, my dear, there is a way to take it, to make it realize my power. And that is to defeat you in your Awakened form,” All for One said simply. “Now, be a good girl and Awaken.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’ll turn into that monster for you,” you said defiantly, bright glare blazing, sending him a look of pure, scathing hatred. “No way in hell.”

“I see, so that’s your answer. I thought it would come to this. Entertainer, come here,” said All for One, putting on his skull like mask again as he made his way to exit the room. “I want her to Awaken. If you crush her spirit, she’ll have no choice but to Awaken. Do what you must.”

“Understood,” Entertainer said as he stepped forward, his sickening smile splitting his face, the crazy glint in his eyes brighter than before.

“Break her.”

And All for One’s instructions rang clear through the room. The door clanged shut behind him, leaving you alone with Entertainer, who was eyeing you and smiling at you like you were nothing but a lamb that grew ready to be slaughtered.

“Don’t break too easily,” he told you, his hard stare boring into yours. He advanced toward you, pulling with him the cart carrying the collection of knives and hammers. “It’d be boring if you break too easily.”

***
Uraraka sighed uneasily. Dark circles lined the underside of her warm brown eyes. She had barely been able to sleep for the past two nights, ever since the training camp trip had ended. How could she rest, knowing that Deku was in critical condition? How could she sleep, knowing that [First] was gone?

With fourteen other classmates, Uraraka arrived at the General Hospital where Midoriya was admitted. Mineta had suggested that everyone chip in to buy him a melon as a get well soon present, but they were not sure if Midoriya would be conscious to eat it. Due to his injuries, Midoriya had been asleep for the past two days, ever since the villain attack.

The fifteen of them arrived in front of Midoriya’s room, crammed around the doorway. Kaminari knocked.

“Hey Midoriya, are you awake?” he asked, sliding open the door and peeking in. His face lit up. “Oh you are awake!”

Kaminari slid open the door some more and entered the room, leading the way for the other classmates, who all crowded around Midoriya’s bed. Uraraka was glad that Midoriya was awake, but he did not look good at all. Both his arms were covered in heavy bandages, and he was staring at the ceiling, his eyes lifeless, with a sort of blank expression on his face.

“Midoriya, did you see the news?” Kaminari continued. “The media’s swarming the school right now. It’s way worse than that time in the spring.”

“We’ve got a melon!” Mineta piped up, holding the melon on top of his head for Midoriya to see. “Everyone chipped in to buy it.”

“Did everyone from Class A come?” Midoriya asked, turning to the side to look at them, bandaged head resting against his pillow.

“No,” Iida answered. “Jiro and Hagakure are still unconscious from the villains’ gas attack. Yaoyorozu also got hit hard on the head and is hospitalized here too. Apparently she regained consciousness yesterday. So everyone but those three came.”

It seemed that a gloom had fallen within the room now as everyone was thinking the same thing.

“There are fifteen of us...” Uraraka muttered softly.

“Because Bakugo and [Last] aren’t here,” Todoroki finished for her, his voice monotone.

“Hey Todoroki! Don’t say that while Midoriya’s still recovering,” Ashido scolded him. But it was too late. The damage had already been done. Uraraka saw Midoriya’s face turn white at the memory, and knew he was remembering all of his failures from two days ago.

“All Might told me ‘I can’t save people I can’t reach’,” Midoriya began in a quiet voice, and Uraraka knew right away that he was blaming himself. He swallowed, then began again. “That’s why he will always save those he can reach. I was in a place where I could reach them, but I wasn’t able to do anything.”

His anguished voice cracked. Tears slid down the side of his face, before being absorbed by the pillows. Seeing him in so much pain, so broken, Uraraka felt her own eyes sting as tears threatened to well up in them. She bit her lip, trying to bite back the tears.

“My body wouldn’t move,” Midoriya croaked out, voice on the edge of breaking again. “They were right in front of me, and I couldn’t save them.”

“Then let’s save them this time,” Kirishima responded simply.

“Huh?” the rest of Class A let out in surprise, all turning to gape at him at his unexpected answer to Midoriya’s lament.

“Actually, Todoroki and I were here yesterday too,” Kirishima explained. “On our way to Midoriya’s room, we saw All Might and a police officer talking to Yaoyorozu. She said she had planted a tracking device on a villain during the night of the attack. She then gave All Might a receiver that she had made to locate the villain.”

“Does this mean you’re going to have Yaoyorozu make another receiver so you can track the villain down?” Iida questioned in worry, disapproval clear in his voice. After all, they were not licensed heroes, and would be punished for any unauthorized use of their quirks for combat.

Kirishima’s guilty expression said it all.

“What if it does?” Todoroki challenged, a slight edge to his tone.

Iida grit his teeth, remembering the aftermath of the Hero Killer incident, where he had promised Manual to stay in line from then on. He thought back to where the four of them would have been expelled from UA had they not received a special pardon for using their quirks without permission. He thought back to that day when he received the call from his mom, when he saw his brother in the hospital, on the brink of death after being defeated by a villain. And Iida knew that he must do anything he could to prevent anyone else from meeting the same fate.

“Please don’t put yourselves in danger too,” Uraraka pleaded. “[First] said she would never forgive herself if her friends got hurt because of her.”

“This is something we should leave to the pros!” Iida bellowed, trying frantically to prevent future disaster from happening. “This isn’t the place for us to act, you idiots!”

“We know that!” Kirishima roared right back. “After I heard my friends were being targeted, I couldn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything! If I don’t do anything now, it’ll be the end of me as a hero and a man!”

“Kirishima, we’re in a hospital, calm down,” Kaminari tried. “It’s fine to feel strongly about things, but this time...”

“Iida is correct,” Asui agreed, finger on her chin in thought.

“Iida, all of you, you’re all correct. I know that,” Kirishima admitted, fists clenching, shaking from the frustration he felt. “But Midoriya, your hands can still reach them!” he yelled, offering his hand for Midoriya to take, “We can still save them!”

Life seemed to return back into Midoriya’s eyes, and he nodded determinantly.

*** (author’s note: ok, skip the rest of this chapter if you don’t wanna read about abuse)
“It’d be boring if you break too easily.”

The Entertainer advanced forward, pulling with him the cart carrying the collection of knives and hammers.

“But then again, it’d be no fun if I fail to crack into that fighting spirit of yours at all,” he added, as if an afterthought.

The wheels of the cart squealed to a stop as he left it beside your chair. He began pacing, strolling leisurely around the chair to which you were tied. Step by step, he circled around you, like a shark would circle around a bleeding seal. He paced around you, eagerly rubbing his hands together, eyeing you hungrily all this time, as if he could barely contain his excitement for what was to come next.

He stopped in front of you when he completed the circle around your chair, and he slowly lifted his hand toward your face, as if to caress you. As soon as you felt his fingertips brush against your cheek, you flinched away by instinct.

He then hit you across the face so hard that the chair almost tipped over from the impact. You felt the edge of your lip bust. The sound of the blow rang across the room. You could taste blood. But despite the pain, you faced him again, staring fiercely at him dead in the eyes.

“Dabi told me you were a fighter,” he laughed to himself as you sent him a look of deepest loathing. “And he was absolutely right! Ha!”

“No matter what you do, I won’t Awaken,” you replied, voice full of hard determination. “I won’t let you win.”

Entertainer said nothing. Instead, he turned around and slowly made his way to the corner of the room as you watched him steadily, trying to anticipate his next move, trying to brace yourself for however he hits you next. Step by step, he approached the cages and tanks housing the assortment of animals. Entertainer surveyed the cages, and seemed to find what he was looking for as he picked out a small tank containing a large green insect and held it out for you to see.

“This is the European mantis, or the Mantis religiosa,” he told you as he set the tank onto the table in front of you, before returning back to the corner of the room, searching for another container. “They’re the mantis species quite often shown in TV shows and documentaries these days.”

He rummaged around again and picked a cage out of the bunch, which housed a yellow butterfly. He set the cage onto the table too.

“This is a yellow swallowtail butterfly. See the blue tips on the edge of its wings?” he said to you. “It is a popular species, prized for the intricate patterns on its wings.”

He opened the door of the cage and reached in. Sensing the danger, the swallowtail took off frantically, flapping against the wires of the cage, trying futilely to escape.

“Why are you telling me this?” you questioned, as he at last trapped it inside his large fist.

He said nothing. He grabbed the butterfly by its wings, and held it over the open flame of a candle.

“Stop! Stop it!” you yelled in alarm. You saw the legs of the butterfly squirm and twitch in pain as the flame slowly burned a hole through the thin, papery film of the insect’s wings, but Entertainer’s eyes remained fixed, the same slightly crazy glint shining brightly. “What the hell are you doing?! Stop it!”

“I’m making sure that it won’t fly away from its fate,” Entertainer replied. Satisfied with his work, he lifted the butterfly from the fire. Its legs visibly relaxed, but it still shuddered horribly.

Then he threw it into the open tank of the mantis, which pounced on it immediately. Caging its claws around the body of the swallowtail, the mantis made sure its squirming prey was pinned in place before digging its powerful jaws into the helpless victim.

And the swallowtail butterfly sat feebly, trapped in the claws of the mantis, fluttering its flightless wings helplessly as it was being shredded and slowly eaten alive.

But the Entertainer appeared not satisfied with just one sufferer. As you were watching the two insects in horror, Entertainer had selected another cage from the bunch, this one containing the white dove that you noticed earlier.

“Here is a pure white turtle dove. Aren’t her feathers beautiful?” Entertainer said, reaching into the cage. He snatched the bird out of the air right when it attempted to take flight. “Nope, you’re not gonna fly away from your fate either.”

The caught dove tried to escape, beating her wings against the Entertainer’s closed fist in a panicked frenzy, but Entertainer held fast as he approached you, and selected a small knife from the cart beside you.

“What are you going to do?! Don’t hurt her!” you yelled.

Entertainer ignored you as he slammed the dove onto the table, caging her against the hard wood with his free hand. The dove squeaked, still furiously beating her wings in a desperate attempt to escape. Entertainer gripped the knife in his free hand and raised it high above his head, its silver blade pointed down, glinting in the candle light.

“STOP IT!” you screamed, realizing what was going to happen next.

There was a flash of metallic silver. Blood splattered across the table, and one of the dove’s white wings fell to the floor.

You didn’t want to look anymore, but you couldn’t tear yourself away from the awful sight. You couldn’t block out the agonized cries from the dove, couldn’t block out the quick breathing of excitement that Entertainer was panting out.

He held fast onto the wounded dove, her pure white feathers dyed red from her blood. He carried her to the largest tank in the room, in which a large snake had slithered into sight, out of the leaves coating the bottom of the tank, with its slit like pupils trained hungrily on what Entertainer was carrying. Entertainer lifted the lid of the cage, and dropped the bloodied bird into the snake’s territory. Fast as lightning, the great snake shot itself at the prey, and coiled its thick body around the small, struggling bird, and squeezed until the dove moved no more.

“And this snake is a python, imported here from Australia. It hasn’t eaten in a while, so it’s quite hungry,” Entertainer murmured, as if entranced by what he was seeing as he stared into the tank. “Do you know how pythons kill their prey? They strangle them to death in their bone crushing grip, before swallowing them whole. It’s beautiful.”

Strapped in your chair, all you could do was watch. Just watch as the flightless dove got the life squeezed out of her. Just watch as the wingless butterfly was torn apart and devoured alive.

“You’re messed up, you hear me?” you muttered in revulsion. “You’re a monster.”

“Monster? That makes two of us,” he laughed, advancing toward you again. “After all, your hands are stained with blood as well. You were the one who killed the Woman in Black, all those years ago, weren’t you?”

He ran his hand, wet from the blood of the dove, through your hair. He looped a couple of strands around his fingers, then yanked, ripping out the hairs by their roots. You bit your lip, stifling the gasp of pain that would surely had escaped from you. No, you mustn’t let him win. You mustn’t show weakness in front of him.

“Why am I showing you this, the sight of predators devouring their prey? Because violence has always been a part of the world. You’re just one of the lucky few who have been shielded from it for most of your life.”

“I already know,” you snarled at him. “I already know how absolutely cruel the world is-”

“Yes, the world is cruel,” he talked over you, “But humans are even more so.”

The Entertainer stood, towering over you, sneering down at you, enjoying the pleasure of control. He leaned toward you, his crazy eyes shining with pure madness, true insanity. The small, blood soaked knife glinted in his hand as he raised it over his head once again.

“Now, it’s your turn to feel…” he murmured to you.

And he swung the blade down, burying it straight through the centre of your palm. Your mouth opened in a silent gasp.

“… How exactly cruel I can be.”

Chapter Text

Emptiness.
The state of containing nothing.
Vacancy. Hollowness. Desolation.
I float in it. In the absence of life, the absence of light.
The absence of hope.
I taste nothing. Hear nothing. See nothing.
Nothing but the
Emptiness.

***
It was dark. Grey storm clouds filled the moonless night sky, weeping droplets the size of stones. The rain fell, splattering onto the street, mixing and blending with the red that dyed the road.

It was dark. A little boy, no older than four or five years old, stood alone. The tattered and ruined bodies of several stray dogs were scattered across the scene. Some were missing their limbs. Some were missing their heads. Some looked like they’d been exploded by a powerful force that had erupted from within their own bodies.

Among all this chaos, the little boy stood alone.

He did not cry. He did not move from his spot. Why move from this spot? He had nowhere to go anyway.

He stood alone, on the street soaked with rainwater and blood. He stood alone, until he started to hear footsteps over the pitter patter of the heavy rain. These footsteps approached him, and stopped near him, but the boy was unfazed. He appeared to take no heed of the tall male figure that towered over him.

“Child, are you alone?” the man asked. “Where are your parents?”

The boy didn’t answer.

“What’s your name?” the man tried.

No answer. The boy looked straight ahead, his dark eyes blank and fixed.

“Hey, it’s ok, I’m here to help you,” the man said kindly. “You can understand me, right? Can you please tell me what your name is?”

“I don’t have one,” the boy replied, his voice flat. Unfeeling. Empty. Or perhaps trauma and shock were all he had known in his short life, and he had learned to shut off his emotions, to distance himself, to protect himself from the world that would tear him apart otherwise.

“How old are you?” the man continued, pleasantly surprised that he at least received an answer.

“I don’t know.”

The man surveyed the ground, noticing the bloodied corpses littering the street.

“What happened to all these stray dogs?”

“They tried to kill me, and I didn’t want to die.”

The man crouched down and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. To his surprise, he noticed that the boy was completely dry, despite the fact that he had been standing in the middle of the glistening street for who knows how long. Something glinted within the depths of the man’s eyes.

“What’s your quirk?” He was careful to control his tone, to not appear too eager to know.

“Others have called it Vector Control.”

A pause.

“Vector Control, huh? That sounds like a powerful quirk,” the man noted to himself. Then he turned to the little boy again. “You’re all alone, aren’t you?”

No answer.

“Poor boy, with no home and no family,” the man said, voice full of pretend compassion. He held out his hand. “How about I give you a home? Would you like that?”

And the little boy, with nowhere else to go, took the hand that All for One held out for him.

This was his beginning. His origin as an obedient tool, unfeeling and hollow on the inside.

It was dark. And it was empty.

The darkness. The emptiness.
Was
Suffocating.

***
All for One exited the room where [First] [Last] was being kept, meeting his Lieutenant who had been waiting outside as instructed. The operation two days ago had been a success. The vessel for the prized hybrid quirk had been secured. Yet, the Lieutenant was slightly confused. During his fight with the vessel, he had hesitated for a moment. His grip around her neck had loosened for a split second. For the past two days, the Lieutenant had been mulling over his mistake, replaying that scenario over and over in his head.

“Good work Lieutenant, you have successfully captured [First] [Last],” All for One praised, as he continued down the hall. The Lieutenant followed after him. “The Entertainer is taking care of her now. It won’t be long now before she Awakens, and I’ll finally have that prized hybrid quirk in my possession. Finally, the seed that I planted all those years ago bears fruit.”

The Lieutenant said nothing, lost in his thoughts as he followed after his master. Why did he let go that day? What was it that caused that mistake, that small instant of mercy?

“But once that happens, a fight with her Awakened form is inevitable,” All for One continued. “To ensure a victory, you will have to assist me. It’s only after I beat her that I can take her quirk. But for now, I’ll be off. Two days ago, we also captured a hero named Ragdoll. I need to deal with her now, take her quirk for myself.”

All for One stopped, and turned to face his Lieutenant.

“Don’t move from this spot. You are forbidden from entering the vessel’s room. Stand guard here for now, and wait for further instructions when I get back.”

“Understood,” the Lieutenant answered, his voice monotone, empty, while his thoughts were anything but.

All for One nodded before he sped off and disappeared around the corner of the hallway, leaving the Lieutenant alone to his thoughts again. He closed his eyes, focusing, concentrating.

Why had he hesitated that day? Why did his grip loosen? He had briefly remembered something. He had briefly seen a glimpse of something, but what was it? A memory from his past, perhaps? But what triggered it?

“You were… a villain… all this time… weren’t you...” you choked out as the life was getting strangled out of you. This final sentence that you spoke wasn’t a question. It was a declaration out of spite, the acknowledgement of his betrayal and how you hated every fibre of his being.

You were a villain all this time, weren’t you?

Why does that sound so familiar? Who said that to me before?

“You were a villain all this time, weren’t you?” she cried, throwing her arms around him as the tears dripped down her cheeks from her bright [e colour] eyes. He had expected her to flee in fear, like how a rabbit would run away from a wolf, and he was fully prepared to chase her down and end her, like how he had ended so many other lives already. But instead of turning away, she had run to him, and her arms tightened around him as she held him to her.

“You’ve been suffering all this time by yourself, haven’t you?” she sobbed, [h colour] head pressed into his shoulder, her heart aching with compassion for him. She clung to him as she wept, and he felt a burst of warmth erupt within himself. It filled his mind, his body, filling the emotionless void he had known since childhood.

What was this? He didn’t understand. What was this unfamiliar feeling?

Happiness?

This was her quirk, her power. To make others feel warm, to make people feel happy, and he realized. Through her tears, through her sobs, as her body trembled against his, he realized that she was the one who was trying to comfort him.

“You’re not afraid of a monster like me?” he asked softly. He felt her shake her head against his shoulder.

“You’ve been suffering,” she choked out, voice cracking with all the empathy she felt for him. “You’ve been in pain all your life, but you never noticed because it’s all you’ve ever known.”

She was making him feel things that he didn’t understand. His heart twisted and squirmed with this unfamiliar, yet soothing feeling. She clung onto him with every fibre of her being, the gentle warmth breaking through the walls in which he had imprisoned himself for all these years. Throughout his entire life, he has had perfect control over his body, so why was he suddenly trembling right now? Why was his breathing so quick right now? Why couldn’t he stop the water that accumulated in his eyes?

Shaking and hesitant, his hands lifted from his sides, and his arms slowly wrapped around her as well.

The Lieutenant gasped as his eyes snapped open. His head was pounding. He doubled over, resting his hands on his knees, breathing hard, his mind still clinging onto the phantom of that memory. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead as his chest ached, like it was being suffocated.

Who was that woman? Why don’t I remember her?

Why did she look so much like [First] [Last]?

***
Katsuki Bakugo had been tied down ever since he woke up in this hellhole. He did not like this one bit. Tied up like this, with this concrete contraption binding his hands, he was unable to use his quirk and break free. Bakugo was unable to stop that bastard Dabi from sticking that needle into his classmate, and Bakugo was unable to do anything as Dabi dragged her by the hair out of the room and down a flight of stairs.

Sometime later, a pale haired villain entered the room. Bakugo knew who he was right away, with that stupid looking hand covering his face. This was Tomura Shigaraki, the lead villain from the USJ incident. Shigaraki had flicked a switch, the room had flooded with light, and Bakugo had realized that the room resembled a normal bar, with many bottles of alcohol lining the walls, and a small TV in the corner.

And now, currently, Bakugo was surrounded by eight villains as Shigaraki blabbed on and on. Bakugo toned him out. Instead, he was actively listening for any sound coming from the basement.

“UA’s in a tough spot now! They’ve lost the general public’s trust!” Shigaraki exclaimed excitedly. “Not only that, but the general public has lost trust in the entire society of heroes! This is the best outcome possible from that attack two days ago! An absolute success!”

As soon as Shigaraki finished his small speech, there was a horrid, drawn out female scream from directly below them, and Bakugo recognized exactly who that voice belonged to.

“[Last]!” Bakugo yelled in alarm. “[Last]!”

There was a loud thud from below him, and another horrible scream of deep agony. Among her screams, a distinctively male voice was shouting along with her, but his words were indistinguishable from each other.

“It seems like Entertainer is doing his job,” Dabi commented.

“How exciting,” the blonde high school girl named Toga added.

“[Last]!” Bakugo yelled again, struggling uselessly against his binds. His thoughts were pounding, fiercely trying to think of a way to bust free and put an end to the horror that was happening in the basement. But no matter how much he thrashed and writhed against his restraints, the straps and ropes held fast onto him, and the slab of concrete didn’t budge.

“Society hates heroes now. So why don’t you join us?” Shigaraki asked Bakugo, continuing on as if nothing happened.

“Do you seriously expect me to join you while you’re torturing my classmate in the basement?!”

“Don’t worry, we just want you to join us as a villain. We have no reason to torture you,” Shigaraki said calmly. “[First] [Last] has something that our master wants, and this is the only way to get it from her.”

“Fuck you,” Bakugo growled, his fiery red eyes burning holes into Shigaraki.

Shigaraki simply laughed.

Meanwhile, in the basement, the Lieutenant didn’t understand. A ball of anxiety condensed in his throat. His heart squeezed, telling him to do something, anything. He couldn’t grasp why his body was reacting the way it was to the screams coming from the vessel’s room. He was aware that you two were related by blood, but you were conceived as nothing but a vessel, right? He didn’t understand why those agonized sounds were disturbing him so much. He didn’t understand why the sounds of your pain were making him hurt too.

A thump, followed by a series of thuds. You were screaming again, worse than ever. Your cries of pain ran through the Lieutenant, piercing through him like a knife.

The vessel… [First] [Last]… did you mean something to him in his past?

“Daddy, can you read this story to me?” The toddler tottered to him like a baby duck, holding a thin picture book in her tiny hands.

Her father took the book from her clutches, examining it.

“[First], I already read this princess story for you yesterday and the day before,” he said. “Why don’t you choose something else? I know your mother just bought you a new one about dinosaurs. Would you like that instead?”

She shook her head no.

“Please! This one’s my favourite!” Her chubby baby cheeks were pulled to a pout. Her large bright eyes were pleading with him.

“That’s what you say about every princess book,” he retorted, giving her an amused smile.

Nonetheless, he cracked open the book to the first page and patted the space beside him on the couch. The toddler let out a squeal of excitement, and climbed up to the spot beside her father. She was positively beaming at him, and he couldn’t help but press his lips to the top of her head.

“Anything for my little Princess,” he said. He began reading from the story, as his daughter leaned her head against his arm.

The Lieutenant’s eyes snapped open, and he found himself laying face first on the ground of the hallway. He must have passed out. His cheek was pressed against the cold concrete floor. This memory had truly taken its toll on him. His chest was burning. He was having trouble breathing.

All of a sudden, it was as if something had snapped inside his mind as a multitude of images came flooding, drowning him. The images that were coming, they were all mixed up and blurry inside his head. He tried frantically to make sense of it all, to piece all of them together, but it was like trying to remember a faded dream, slipping out of his grasp the moment he touched them.

Who was I?

Everything was showing inside his mind, all at the same time, racing and overlapping each other. An utter confusion of pictures with no sense to them.

Who am I?

He shakily stood up. Something was fluttering inside him, like a caged bird. Something was trying desperately to break free from its restraints within him, but the Lieutenant didn’t know how to help it.

He looked down the hall, at the door leading to the vessel’s room. It seemed that the screaming had stopped. It was chillingly quiet.

The door then opened. The Entertainer stepped out, with splotches of red splattered on his usually colourless clothing.

“This is getting too messy,” Entertainer muttered to himself, examining his stained hands. He started down the hallway as the Lieutenant silently watched him. “I’ll take a break and wash up.”

As soon as their eyes met, Entertainer hardened his into a glare, angry and fierce.

“Hello Lieutenant, nice day isn’t it?” Entertainer said in a mocking and bitter tone as he approached the Lieutenant. “You betrayed us sixteen years ago. Teacher says he reset you and erased your memories. He says he’s sure that you’re back on our side, but I don’t trust you.”

The Lieutenant said nothing. It was almost all he could do to keep the storm of confusion confined within himself.

“Oh, so am I not good enough for you to talk to?!” Entertainer snarled, and Lieutenant could see small flecks of spit fly through the air. “Don’t you dare try anything funny, or I’ll know!”

Entertainer walked past the Lieutenant, almost forcefully pushing past him.

“You damn traitor,” Entertainer spat, before disappearing around the corner of the hallway, leaving the Lieutenant alone.

The Lieutenant turned toward the room. This was his chance. He had to see you. You surely had the answers that he was seeking, the memories that he had lost. But before he could take a single step, his body jolted, stopping itself in its place. He couldn’t move, as if frozen to his spot.

Teacher told me to stand guard here.

He was petrified, rooted to his spot, but at the same time, the something that was fluttering against its restraints, against its cage within him was thrashing even more wildly than before.

Teacher told me to not move.

He could not move, as if something powerful was holding him steady, imprisoning him, caging him. At the same time, the spirit fluttering inside of him was ferociously struggling, trying to break free from its cage, and was gradually becoming more and more defiant as well.

Teacher forbade me from entering that room.

Was he a lieutenant, or was he a father? The two instincts fought against each other inside of him, violently hacking and slashing at each other. Inside his mind, he began desperately pushing against his frozen legs, against his own body, against his master’s orders that he had to obey.

He pushed fiercely with all his might, with as much strength as he could muster. He was breathing harder than ever. His body trembled in resistance against his spirit. His existence itself felt like it was being ripped in two as he pushed against the bars of the cage within himself that had been imprisoning him for years.

Inside himself, he felt a crack in the cage, felt a break in his bindings, and he started to heave against it. He hurled himself at it, slammed himself into it, and crashed straight through it.

And within himself, the cage imprisoning him, the remnants of All for One’s control over him shattered, blasted apart. The hurricane, the absolute chaos of scattered memories and images within him came to a halt, and suddenly all fell into place, no longer restrained by All for One’s power. His eyes widened, as his consciousness came back to him, as all of his lost and blurry memories became crystal clear. He took a deep breath, realizing he wasn’t bound anymore. The father was free.

Right away, he knew what he had to do. He broke off into a run to the end of the hallway, to your room. He flung open the door, and gaped in horror at the sight.

***
You were barely conscious as Awakening was coaxing you, begging you to give in to it. The small voice inside your head tempted you, purring to you that you would feel all better, that you wouldn’t be hurting anymore only if you gave in to it.

Still tied down, you lay on your side; your chair had been knocked over from the Entertainer’s beatings. All four of your broken and bloody limbs felt like they were on fire from all the abuse they endured. It was pain. Pain beyond imagination. But you mustn't give in. You wouldn’t turn into that monster. You would rather be tortured to death instead. You mustn't break. You mustn't show weakness.

When he left, Entertainer had snuffed out the candle, taking away the little light from the room. You sank into the darkness, on the verge of passing out.

You heard the door slam open and light filled the room, temporarily blinding you. That surely must be the Entertainer back from his break, you thought. You closed your eyes, preparing yourself, resigning yourself to your fate of having more hurt thrust upon you.

But instead, the newcomer rushed to your side, and put a hand on your shoulder, gentling patting you. It felt like the newcomer was trying to soothe you, but even that little gesture hurt your broken body.

“[First],” the familiar and warm voice from your childhood muttered your name. “[First], I’m so sorry.”

You couldn’t speak, as your vocal cords had been rubbed raw already. You briefly wondered if you were dreaming as your father talked soothingly above you. He put his hand on the ropes tying you down, and the fibres ripped themselves apart, setting you free.

“It’s alright,” he murmured to you. “I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”

He held your broken body to him, the blood from your wounds soaking into his once pristine suit. Resting your head against his shoulder, he lifted you up and off the hard concrete ground, careful not to cause you any more pain. His eyebrows furrowed in worry. You were barely stirring. You were cold. He’d better get you out of here soon and get help. Holding you to him, he stood up.

“STOP OR I’LL SHOOT!”

The father slowly turned his head. He peered over his shoulder to face the voice that came from behind him. At the doorway, the Entertainer stood, clutching a gun in his hands, those hands that were still stained red from your blood.

“I knew it!” Entertainer exclaimed triumphantly, pointing the gun directly at the father’s head. “Teacher was wrong! Once a traitor, always a traitor!”

“She has seen enough violence already,” the father said, completely unfazed. “For her sake, I’ll spare you if you leave us alone.”

Entertainer laughed, and at once, the father knew what his answer was.

“DIE YOU TRAITOR!”

He squeezed the trigger at the same time that the father spun around to face him. The echo of the gunshot ricocheted off the walls of the torture chamber.

It was over in a split second. The bullet bounced harmlessly off the father’s forehead, and shot back, straight through the Entertainer’s stomach, and lodged itself into the floor.

Caught by surprise, the Entertainer stumbled back in shock, holding a hand to his wound. The father advanced toward Entertainer, shifting your weight to one arm, burying your face into his shoulder so you wouldn’t see what would happen next. The Entertainer aimed the gun again. Before he could shoot the second bullet, the father had kicked off the ground and thrust his free arm straight through the Entertainer’s chest.

Only a second had passed since the sound of the first bullet shot, and now the Entertainer’s heavy body dropped to the floor right after the father pulled back. The sleeve of his suit remained as spotless as ever.

“I won’t let your filthy blood stain my clothing,” the father said coldly, looking down at the Entertainer as he lay on the ground, spluttering and gasping as he died slowly. Then the father felt you stir a bit in his grip.

“It’s ok, I’ll get you out of here now,” he whispered softly to you, wrapping his free arm around you again.

Carrying you in his arms, he stepped through the doorway, into the hallway, toward the freedom that was in sight, just out of reach.

Suddenly, the father started to cough as a sort of black goo erupted from inside his mouth. The strange slime manifested, swirling around the two of you, engulfing you two in darkness faster than anyone could react.

One moment, you were in the hallway. Next moment, you two were outside among the rubble on what appeared to be a wasteland, as if teleported by the strange slime.

“What a pity, my Lieutenant,” the cold and deep voice of his teacher spoke out. All for One tutted. “I truly never would have thought that you’d break free from my control again. It seems like my mind control quirk isn’t strong enough to keep you forever.”

The father surveyed his surroundings carefully. He recognized the scene as what used to be the Nomu warehouse, but evidently it had been blown away, leaving nothing but large pieces of building and rubble on the wasteland.

“I’ve just taken Ragdoll’s Search quirk a minute ago,” All for One said. “Using it, I saw you disobey me and try to escape with the vessel of the hybrid quirk.”

“So how’d you bring us here?” the father asked, stalling for time as he thought of what to do. “I didn’t recognize that black slime and you caught me off guard with it. Is it a new quirk of yours?”

“As expected of my lieutenant, figuring me out so easily,” All for One praised mockingly. “I’ve teleported you here to me. I can’t let you escape with the vessel for which I’ve waited so long, for which I’ve waited years to obtain. I need her to Awaken for me.”

“I can’t let that happen,” the father said fiercely. “I won’t let you hurt her again.”

“I see. How unfortunate. You’ve served me so well for decades, and now you betray me again after I’ve given you a second chance.” Then All for One’s mouth burst into a smile, terrifying and completely insane. “Now it’s time for us to settle this, one on one!”

The villain wasted no time. He lifted his left arm, and it seemed to swell a bit before the world was blinded by the impact that emitted from it.

Air propulsion, musculoskeletal coiling, four instantaneous impact quirks, three physical strength amplification quirks. The father recognized this combination as one of his old master’s favourites. The father turned his back to the blow, holding his barely conscious daughter tightly to him, doing his best to shield you with his body. It was rough, but the impact, which would have otherwise destroyed a good chunk of the area, dissipated in a rush of wind and dust as soon as it made contact with its target.

Before the air could clear, the father used these few seconds to rest you against a large boulder of rubble nearby. He admitted that this was not very far from what would be the battlefield, but he knew that he couldn’t possibly escape All for One with you in his arms, and he needed both of his hands to fight.

“Don’t worry,” he told you, “As long as I’m alive, I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”

“Why,” you managed to croak out in confusion. Your hazy mind couldn’t wrap itself around what was happening right now.

“I won’t abandon you ever again,” he told you, before he got up and faced All for One. Just as the cloud of dust finally settled into the ground, the father raised his hands out in front of him at All for One.

With the flick of his wrists, a dozen large tornadoes sprung to life, charging viciously with the speed of lightning at the villain. All for One reacted instantly, weaving himself through the barrage of violent winds, propelling himself with the Air Walk quirks that he had stolen. The tornadoes, having missed their target, went past All for One and ripped through several metal beams instead, remnants of the infrastructure of the Nomu warehouse. With resounding clashes and bangs, the metal beams fell to the ground, having been cleanly cleaved apart by the violent winds.

All for One sank to the ground, and thrust his hand straight into a metal plate lying at his feet. Immediately, the metal transformed into a titanic beast, just like the forest beasts that Class A fought, but this one was made entirely of stainless, fortified steel. The beast charged at the father, who raised his hands, fingers outstretched. As soon as he caught the beast’s snout, with a great metallic wail, he promptly ripped the steel beast cleanly into two pieces down the middle, and hurled both of those pieces at All for One, who blasted the hunks of steel away with another combination of explosion and energy blast quirks.

Propped against a boulder of cement, you tried your hardest to stay awake, clinging to your consciousness. You kept fading in and out, missing most of the great battle, and the parts that you did catch were blurry as even your eyes were too exhausted to focus properly. You struggled to move, to stand up, but your limbs were broken beyond all hope.

You were terribly confused as well. Your piece of crap father was the one who captured you two days ago during the villain attack. He was the one who brought you to this hellhole. So why had he freed you? Why had he tried to comfort you, and why had he tried to run away with you? Among all these questions, the one thing that you couldn’t fathom the most was why your heart felt so glad to see him when he rescued you from the dark room.

***

Approximately forty metres away, there was a concrete wall, miraculously still standing despite the battle going on. Behind that wall stood Midoriya, Todoroki, Iida, Kirishima, and Yaoyorozu, who had all arrived here a few minutes ago by following the signal on Yaoyorozu’s receiver. Shortly after the students found the Nomu warehouse, a group of heroes had shown up, consisting of Mount Lady, Tiger, and even No 4 hero Best Jeanist. They had made quick work of the mindless Nomu, until a new villain appeared. Right away, it was obvious that this villain was different from the others. He seemed to emit an aura, frightening and dominating, that kept all the students frozen in place. There was a pause, then he blasted away all the heroes in an instant. The entire street had been blown into nothing but pieces of rubble. The heroes lay on the sidelines, completely knocked out, eliminated as easily as if they were simply insects.

True, absolute fear held the students in place, as that man’s aura made their lives flash before their eyes. They would have stayed frozen, had it not been for another sudden arrival on the wasteland. One male figure was carrying a female who looked like she had been tortured. With a jump, the five students recognized the bruised and bloody body as [First] [Last].

Seeing you like that, Todoroki couldn’t even think. His body moved by itself, by instinct to go to you, breaking him out of that frozen spell. Immediately, Iida snapped into action too, and hooked his arms under Todoroki’s armpits, holding him back, restraining him. Todoroki looked over his shoulder in surprise at his apprehender, and started to struggle against Iida’s grip, but Iida only tightened his hold. In front of them, the villain and the newly arrived male figure had started their battle against each other, and it was all the students could do to not get blown away from the blasts that shook the earth.

“Stop! This is a battle between two monsters! I won’t let you get yourself killed!” Iida reasoned in a hurried whisper. “Did you not hear what Uraraka said at the hospital?! If her friends got themselves hurt for her, [Last] would never forgive herself!”

Meanwhile, the father was fighting his hardest against his old master. The two of them threshed about, with All for One attacking and defending with combinations from his multitudinous ocean of stolen quirks, while the father faced him using his one quirk alone. No matter what attack the father thought up, All for One always had something else under his sleeve to counter it.

At the same time, All for One struggled against his Lieutenant, his greatest and strongest disciple. Unlike All for One, who had a longevity quirk that prevented him from aging, the father had become older through the years, and his power was far from what it had been during his prime. All for One knew this, and yet grew more and more frustrated at the fight that was dragging on as both men fought on equal footing. No matter what combination of quirks that All for One used, the father was fast and managed to sidestep and dodge every move. All for One knew that all he needed was another hit on his Lieutenant to bring him to his Vector Control limit.

All for One was furious, and felt his patience running thin. After all these years, tonight was supposed to be the night where he obtained the precious hybrid quirk for which he’d spent years waiting. Tonight had gone all wrong for him. First, pro heroes had somehow found his Nomu collection and ruined it. Then the control he had over his Lieutenant broke. Worst of all, his Lieutenant then entered the vessel’s room and tried to run away with her, and because of that, the two of them were currently locked in a battle to the death. It couldn’t get any worse than this, All for One thought, until a sudden idea sprung up inside his mind.

All for One suddenly remembered. He knew his Lieutenant was not used to fighting like this. He knew that his Lieutenant had never tried to protect someone while fighting at the same time. The solution, the Lieutenant’s weakness had been so obvious.

All for One’s vision landed on you, who were struggling to move from your spot, trying furiously to command your broken legs to stand up. He smiled a twisted smile, as he shifted his aim from his Lieutenant to you instead. His arm swelled like before, preparing to deliver another deadly combination of explosion and energy blast quirks. His Lieutenant’s eyes widened in surprise.

“NO!” his Lieutenant yelled, and he threw himself in front of you just as All for One let off his terrifying and fatal combination of blast quirks. The air itself screeched in resistance as All for One shot his combination off.

The impact from the hit was so big that even All for One himself had trouble breathing from the sudden winds generated by the force of the collision. Bits and pieces of rubble that had been blown up into the air rained down upon them all now, and a few moments later, the dust cleared.

His Lieutenant was hunched over, panting from the strain on his body. He looked almost as bloody and bruised as his daughter.

“I am very well aware that you have a limit as well,” All for One stated fearlessly as he advanced. “That is the flaw in Vector Control. That’s why I sought to improve it, to make it merge with a quirk that takes you beyond your limits.”

All for One knew that it was all his Lieutenant could do to keep standing. He came to a stop in front of the broken man, and sent him hurtling to the side with a swift kick, enhanced and propelled by his Air Walk quirks.

You were staring at the scene, wide eyed as your mind raced. For most of your life, you had believed that your father did not care about you. You had believed that your father had simply used you and your mother like toys. But he had thrust himself in front of you, and shielded you from the blast with his own body.

With nothing else in his way, All for One approached you, looking ruthlessly down at you.

“I’ve had enough. My patience has run out,” he said, raising his hand, aiming it once again at you as his arm swelled, preparing another fatal blast. “If I blow a hole through your stomach, you’ll have no choice but to Awaken!”

You took a deep breath. No matter what, you wouldn’t awaken. You wouldn’t let them win. Even if your only other option was death, so be it. You slowly closed your eyes as All for One walked leisurely toward you. It’s ok. You weren’t scared. You could feel it. Death was near. Death had come to take you with him.

With your eyes closed, you listened to his footsteps. You heard him stop in front of you. The air again screeched in resistance as All for One shot off his blast.

But the hit never came. Your eyelids fluttered open as you looked about curiously. Once again, your eyes widened at the sight before you.

“So you get in my way again, my Lieutenant,” All for One tutted.

In front of your eyes was your father. Crouching over you was your father, who had already been beaten to his limit. In his broken state, your father acted as a barrier between you and All for One, using his body as a human shield to protect you. The blood that came from his mouth dripped down his chin, dropping onto your cheek.

In those precious few seconds, the father smiled at you. He shakily lifted his bloody hand toward your face, and then rested his thumb on your forehead, and among all the chaos, you felt something being transferred from him to you, into your mind, into your memories.

“You will always be my little Princess,” he whispered to you.

His darker eyes stared into your bright ones as you stared right back, and a moment later, you saw something in the deepest abyss of those dark eyes disappear, leaving them dull, cold, empty. His hand fell from your face, his thumb leaving a blotch of red on your forehead. The father collapsed to the ground, as still and limp as a broken mannequin.

Just as nine years ago, something seemed to snap inside your mind. At that instant, it was as if time stopped as you realized that you had witnessed this moment before. All became silent and still as your mind worked and recalled that this moment has happened before. You remembered. As if yesterday, the moment replayed in your head. The moment where the Woman in Black thrust the blade through your mother’s body, as easily as a needle impaling cloth.

Now the body of your father lay here, having died with the frame of his last smile still carved on his face.

Conflicting thoughts…

Fear, anger, sorrow…

Grief, pain, shock…

This world…

This world is...

Your head, your insides, your heart, every single fibre and cell inside of you was screaming. A hurricane swirled to life around you, blasting everything away from you, with you in the eye of the storm. Taking its chance at freedom, the monstrous urge inside of you smashed through your control over it, filling your body up, mending your broken bones and torn muscle fibres at the speed of light.

Thunder boomed across the grounds as the sky flashed with lightning. Darkness took over your body, your skin turning deep purple as your bright eyes were replaced with nothing but a vivid, pupilless redness. A horn shot out from your forehead as your fingertips and toes grew into claws. Two pairs of ribbon-like blades, sharp and flexible, ripped out from the small of your back, all four weapons ready at your command to slice and cut at any time. From below your shoulder blades, two large wings erupted, each having the appearance resembling black fire, burning wildly and madly on your back.

The hurricane died down. The metamorphoses was complete. All for One’s greedy vision found what he had been looking for.

“Magnificent,” he murmured in awe, as he prepared himself for the inevitable battle.

Chapter Text

The hurricane died down. The metamorphoses was complete. All for One’s greedy vision found what he had been looking for.

“Magnificent,” he murmured in awe, as he prepared himself for the inevitable battle. The creature’s glowing red eyes locked onto him.

Lifted by your wings of black fire, you soared into the air, and dived straight at All for One. All for One threw himself aside, barely missing the blow, and the creature collided into the earth with the impact of a meteor. The ground quaked beneath, trembling in terror from the blow.

In the centre of the small crater you had created, you threw your head back, wretched your mouth open, and roared. The intense, hair rising scream of pure madness was a thousand fold worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. The demonic sound crashed throughout the grounds, causing the five students in the distance to cover their ears. Even so, it felt like their eardrums would burst from the pain.

Thankfully, the screaming stopped soon, and in the blink of an eye, you launched yourself at All for One, who lifted his arm at you to counter. His arm once again swelled, preparing to deliver his lethal combination of explosion quirks. He fired it off, the air resistance wailing against the detonation. Right as it reached its target, the impact rebounded, reflecting harmlessly off you. The burst reflected right back at All for One, who raised his hands against it and set off another combination of quirks to shield himself, barely neutralizing the deadly impact.

He had hardly caught his breath, and the dust from the blow had just begun to set when you hurled yourself out of the cloud of dust. All for One shielded himself behind his arms, willing his skin to harden as the creature collided into him. Despite his defenses, in the blink of an eye, by the creature’s brute strength, All for One’s arm was slashed open to the bone.

All for One cursed under his breath at the wound. His multiple regeneration quirks activated and his arm mended itself instantly. The creature was a lot stronger than he had initially thought.

The creature landed in front of him. Step by step, you advanced toward him, with your glowing, pupilless red eyes fixed on him. All for One thrust his hand into the earth, calling to his aid all of the pipes from the underground plumbing system. The metal pipes erupted out of the ground, and twisted around each other, melting into each other. The metal transformed into a horrid beast, resembling a ten ton, three headed lion that was the size of a building. Snarling and spitting, the three headed lion bounded towards you, as the earth shook beneath every single one of its steps.

Right away, one of the creature’s tail-like, ribbon-like blades struck through it, impaling straight through the metal beast like a spear. In the next second, the metal beast exploded into bits of scrap metal, as if torn apart from a great force that had erupted from inside itself. All the pieces of sharp metal then seemed to hover in the air as the creature controlled the vectors of the wind currents that held the metal pieces afloat. Like a swarm of a thousand daggers, the pieces of metal shot themselves at All for One, who blew them all away with his air propulsion quirks.

You kicked off the ground, launching yourself at All for One, and the two of you locked into combat once again as you forced All for One on the defensive. But no matter how much you injured your opponent, no matter how much you cut him up, no matter what you threw at him, All for One regenerated back to full health, almost instantly.

Inside your monstrous body, your mind was in a haze. You felt numb, yet your body was full of adrenaline. It felt good to just let go, to let the demonic presence within you take over this fight, to tear, to shred to pieces. To drown out the pain through action. It felt euphoric to just let go. To tear down the doors of your conscience. To rip apart the shackles of reason. To sink into numbness so that you wouldn’t have to hear your insides scream, to feel your emotions shred yourself apart.

Awakening took away the pain.

Meanwhile, behind the miraculously still standing wall, the five students watched in horror at the terrifying fight happening before their eyes. All five of them were forced to take cover behind the wall to avoid getting blown away, as every blow exchanged from the great battle generated immense gusts of wind.

“W-what is that?!” Kirishima had to shout in order to be heard above the noises from the battle.

“Did [Last] transform…” Yaoyorozu gasped out, trying to find her voice, “... into that?!”

Midoriya had to squint to prevent dust from getting blown into his eyes. He remained silent, staring in fearful awe at the creature.

“If she had this power all this time, then why didn’t she use it before?!” Iida yelled in confusion.

“She can’t control it,” Todoroki answered as he remembered your words, the night when you had told him about the monstrous power imprisoned inside you.

That second, All for One dropped to the ground, forced to rest on his knees as his regeneration quirks were pushed to overdrive. Healing had slowed down considerably compared to before. He cursed. He never would have imagined that his multiple regeneration quirks would be used up so quickly like this. He remained on the ground, unable to move from his injuries that were healing at such a sluggish pace.

Nerve wrackingly silently, the creature landed swiftly on the ground again, a dozen metres in distance between the two. All of a sudden, All for One felt pinned into place, as if his body weight had suddenly multiplied tenfold. In the distance, the five students were also pulled to their knees, unable to move as it felt like their bodies were being pulled towards the earth, like the ground was a powerful magnet dragging them towards it. As the planet’s gravitational vectors increased at your will, you watched All for One. Your burning red glare was focused on him in pure hatred. The creature has had enough. The fight was dragging on for too long, and you desired to end it once and for all.

You threw your head back, your single horn pointing skyward as a chilling wind picked up around you. Gathering speed and power, the winds evolved into a hurricane so large that the entire battlefield was trapped in its eye. Dark storm clouds swirled above you, shrouding the night in total darkness, until an orb of white light manifested itself among the black sky in the dead centre of the storm. The blinding light, like a miniature white sun, gradually grew in size as the hurricane whirled even more violently than before. Pieces of rubble and metal, both large and small, were pulled into the storm and shredded apart by the fierce winds. The ground surrounding the creature erupted from the intensity of its energy.

“What is that?” Kirishima murmured in horror, squinting up at the white sun. “What’s happening?”

“She’s compressing all the wind into one point to make plasma!” Yaoyorozu shrieked over the deafening whirlwind of chaos. “If she uses that, we’ll all be…! The whole city will be…!”

“It feels like the earth is being sucked into an endless, raging whirlpool,” Midoriya whispered to himself. “It feels like we’re all being swallowed.”

With wide eyes, Todoroki watched the creature. His mind raced to think of something, anything that he could possibly do, but the reason part of him knew that anything would be useless. In all of his life, he had never felt so helpless.

All of a sudden, a flash of yellow, blue, and red flew by them and collided into you, and held fast onto you. Temporarily stunned, the creature’s concentration wavered, and slowly, the hurricane surrounding the battlefield dissolved, and the white orb of plasma overhead dissipated into nothingness.

Enraged at being interrupted, you wrenched yourself out of his grip, and one of your ribbon-like blades shot at the newcomer, who leapt back and dodged it expertly. Landing effortlessly on his feet, he stood facing you with a smile on his face, his blazing blue eyes locked onto your glowing red ones.

“I am here!” All Might announced, his outside appearance not betraying an ounce of the fear and dread he felt inside himself. This was the worst possible situation in which he could have found himself. He recognized the creature in front of him as the same one from nine years ago, the materialization of the demon sleeping inside of his niece. The same creature for which his little sister had sacrificed herself, during that incident in the alleyway. He knew the creature in front of him was a major threat to the safety of the city, and as a hero, he should eliminate the threat.

He had his duty as the Number One Hero to fulfil. But what about his duty as an uncle?

How could he fight the creature standing in front of him, when his beloved niece was trapped inside that monstrous body?

“Young [Last]!” he shouted at the creature, who screeched in return. He did not know what to do. Never before in his life had he been so torn. “I know your consciousness is still in there!”

He took a step forward, toward you, which responded by shooting all four of your ribbon-like blades at him. They struck into the ground at his feet, shattering the earth, but All Might was not deterred. He advanced forward, his arms flung out wide, completely defenceless as he approached you.

The creature started to growl in warning. As All Might continued towards you, your ribbon-like blades danced around him, slicing and dicing at him. Many cuts marked him now, the redness from his blood darkening his clothing. But, step by step, All Might continued advancing, completely unflinching, taking each and every hit you gave him. As you unleashed your flurry of attacks on him, as you sliced at him, All Might noticed that not a single one of those attacks cut too deeply into his skin. Not a single one had hit him in a vital spot. He knew you had every opportunity to do so, but you hadn’t. Perhaps there was still hope left.

Eventually, despite your attacks throughout the entire way, he had made it. He stood in front of you as you looked up at him with those monstrous, pupilless eyes.

“Young [Last], you’re still in there, aren’t you?” he gently said to the creature. He saw his reflection shine back at him as something flashed behind that vivid glowing red.

“All... Might...” you muttered, your voice distorted by that monster mouth.

Then, all of a sudden, all of your attacks stopped. Your ribbon-like blades hung trembling in the air. The wings of black fire on your back lowered, shaking heavily. Your arms wrapped around yourself, with your sharp claws digging into your own shoulders. Your mouth wrenched open, and you cried sounds of agony.

“Young girl, you can fight it!” All Might shouted in relief. You were struggling with yourself! There was still hope left!

Trapped inside the monstrous body, it was all you could do to withhold the demonic impulse, to stop it from attacking All Might. Your pulse felt like it was pounding, gouging itself out of your chest. Your lungs burned as you desperately held on. It felt like you were being suffocated. You knew your time was ticking. You knew you barely had any time left before the impulse wins. Barely any time left before you lose the last shred of humanity that you have left and leave just a bloodthirsty killing machine. Barely any time left before your human spirit is completely destroyed by the monstrous impulses. You knew you only had one choice left.

“You can turn back!” All Might shouted at you, encouraging you. But he didn’t understand.

You fell to your knees, shaking from head to foot as your red eyes stared into his blue ones.

“All Might…” you forced out, shaking from the effort of desperately clinging onto your consciousness. “I can’t go back...”

“What are you talking about?! Yes you can!”

“You… don’t understand… Please...” you croaked, with every remaining ounce of your spirit fighting against the demonic impulse. Your wings of black fire were aching to take flight again. The ribbon-like blades on your back were itching to cut into flesh again. You could hardly hold them back, but you had to get your words out before your body breaks free. “Please...”

“Young girl, what is it?” All Might gently asked you, eager to help you in any way to bring you back.

“... kill me.”

A pause.

“I can’t do that,” All Might said from above you.

“You have no choice!” you screeched at him in urgency. This brief crack in your concentration did not go unnoticed by the impulse within you. Instantly, one of your ribbon-like blades shot at All Might, and you were barely able to catch it and change its trajectory to make it miss its target. It struck into a large piece of rubble to the side, which then exploded into a hundred pieces. But All Might did not flinch.

“The monster inside… will win soon.” You had to convince him. You had to make him understand that there was no turning back for you. “I can’t hold it for much longer.”

“Young [Last]! It’s my duty as a hero to save you!” he shouted at you, but you shook your head slowly.

“If the monster wins… a thousand lives will be lost,” you retorted. You could barely speak in full sentences. Every breath that you took was strained and painful.

“Young [Last]...”

“You'll save a thousand people if you kill me now,” you continued. With your arms wrapped around yourself, you felt your claws dig more into the skin on your shoulders, drawing blood as you struggled against the monstrous urge. “A thousand lives are worth more than my one.”

“Young [Last]… I can’t do that,” All Might’s voice was hesitant, almost pleading with you.

“Please… Kill me before the monster wins,” you shakily begged him. “We have no other choice.”

“I...” All Might’s voice wavered. How strange, you thought, the Number One Hero sounded close to tears. “I...”

“I’ve... lived a good life,” you said as you and All Might stared at each other in the midst of the chaotic and silent battlefield. “Please let me die as myself.”

It felt like an eternity as All Might made his decision, and the monstrous urge pulsed within you, fiercely trying to break free while your human spirit was only just hanging on. Slowly, very slowly, All Might curled his right hand into a fist, and revved his trembling fist back.

“Thank you...” you said as All Might prepared the hit that would end your life. You smiled, closing your eyes, focusing the last sliver of your human spirit to hold the monster back, for just a little while longer.

And you bowed your head, giving yourself to his mercy.

Kneeling on the ground in front of him, you waited, but the anticipated hit never came. When you opened your eyes again, you found All Might kneeling in front of you, his hands clenched into fists on his lap, his powerhouse body shaking in his spot.

“Young [Last]… [First]...” All Might’s voice was on the edge of cracking as tears were trickling down his cheeks. “I told you I can’t possibly do this.”

At this moment, in All Might’s moment of hesitation, the monstrous urge finally broke free from the struggle inside your body. It wrenched control from your human spirit, shoving you aside into darkness. The ribbon-like blades on your back struck, sinking into All Might’s body as All Might coughed up blood.

But All Might did not move from his spot. Instead, his arms wrapped around you, holding you to him.

“[First], come back to the human side,” he said gently to you, his large hand patting your head. “Your mother sacrificed herself to bring you back, nine years ago. Letting her sacrifice go to waste would be letting her die all over again.”

You felt like you were being crushed as your human spirit and the monstrous urge shared the same body. It felt like all the veins within your body were filled with white hot fire. It felt like your insides were shredding themselves apart. It was pain past anything you had ever experienced before, past anything you thought you could possibly endure.

And yet, you wondered how it was possible that you were still struggling. Had the monster not won already? How were you still fighting? How was it possible that you were still hanging on?

Amidst the ringing silence and the unbearable pain, All Might’s words echoed within you, as a scene from your childhood emerged from the depths, from the very core of your being.

Amidst all the pain, all the chaos, all the confusion and hurt condensed into your little body, you felt a spark of warmth and comfort, guiding you and pulling you through the storm inside of you. Amidst all the agony and pandemonium, you felt happiness… Mother’s quirk.

Mother...

As All Might’s arms held you in a tight hug, your eyes overflowed with tears as your heart ached and resonated within yourself.

Resting in the four year old’s hands, the flower’s petals moved by themselves, opening and closing around the golden middle, resembling a multi-winged butterfly fluttering its pure white wings. Your mother beamed. And her smile was so warm and so beautiful.

Inside your chest, your heart was harmonizing with the memories of the past that resurfaced this time, not as a curse, but as a blessing.

If I give up... If I die now... Then your sacrifice... Then your memory will die with me.

Then, a miracle happened, as phenomenal as a phoenix being reborn from its ashes. As your heart flooded with emotion, as tears of loss and love and sorrow and happiness dripped down your cheeks, the demonic urge loosened its control over you. There was no more pain. Your horn and ribbon-like blades dissolved. The wings of black fire on your back burned out. As the bloodthirsty urge within you shrunk back into its prison, your monstrous exterior whittled away, leaving you resting, exhausted and unconscious, but safe in your uncle’s arms.

This was nothing short of a miracle. Even All Might himself had trouble believing that this happened. He held onto you, and in a single leap, All Might landed beside the five students hiding behind the miraculously standing wall. He had caught sight of them when he arrived at this battlefield, and knew that they were still watching.

“All Might!” they all chorused as he arrived in front of them. All Might found Midoriya, and he sighed under his breath. No matter what he told Midoriya, the boy would always rush off on his own and keep breaking his body over and over. All Might made a mental note to scold him later.

Nonetheless, a small part of him was grateful that the students were here.

“Here, Young Midoriya, take care of her,” All Might said, handing your unconscious body over.

“A-All Might!” Midoriya stuttered as he took you into his arms, holding you awkwardly. His eyes were filled with his usual comedic tears. He looked a little bit like a puppy who had been caught accidently breaking a flower vase. “I’m s-sorry-”

“Young Midoriya, you can tell me later,” All Might interrupted.

All Might glanced back at him, at All for One, whose regeneration quirks were almost finished repairing the damage that he had sustained. All Might let out a small sigh, mentally preparing himself for the unavoidable rematch with his worst nemesis. He shot himself off, toward All for One just as All for One stood up again, and another great battle started between the two of them.

“Midoriya, I’ll take her,” Todoroki said, taking you out of Midoriya’s awkward hold.

Todoroki pulled you towards him, hooking one arm underneath your knees as the other arm supported your shoulders. He carried you gently, as if you were a princess. He breathed out softly. Ever since the villain attack at the training camp, worry and regret had been eating away at him from not being able to save you as you were taken right in front of him. But as he held you close to him, as you rested safely in his arms, all his remorse from the past few days seemed to disappear, as if completely erased by the relief that he now felt.

And now, all five students simultaneously thought, it was time to save Bakugo.

The next few moments happened in a blur. All for One used his black slime to warp Shigaraki’s group and Bakugo onto the battlefield. As All Might and All for One wrestled with each other, Bakugo was surrounded by six other villains who were all fighting their hardest to capture him again. On the spot, Midoriya thought up a plan to rescue his childhood friend.

The students carried out the plan smoothly without a hitch. The miraculously standing wall finally broke into pieces when Kirishima barreled through it with his Hardening quirk, supported by Iida’s Engines and Midoriya’s Full Cowl. Todoroki then made a great ramp of ice, which lifted the Kirishima-Iida-Midoriya trio into the air. While the trio sailed over the battlefield, Kirishima held out his hand to Bakugo and called out to him. A great burst of smoke then erupted from Bakugo’s palms, and he flew through the air before he caught Kirishima’s outstretched hand.

As soon as Todoroki saw that the plan was carried out, he and Yaoyorozu took the chance to run as well. They blended effortlessly into the clamour and panic of the crowds trying to escape the fighting currently going on, and they followed the evacuation instructions given by the pro heroes trying to guide everyone. As Todoroki carried you with him, Yaoyorozu used her phone to call Midoriya to confirm that they had also escaped properly.

All of the evacuated people now stood in the central plaza of the city, where the large TV on the side of a building broadcasted the fight between All Might and All for One for everyone to see. But as the fight wore on, All Might’s body seemed to wear down too. After each and every blow from All for One that he nullified, All Might exhausted himself more and more, while his body became more and more bony and his face became more and more skeletal. With a start, Todoroki recognized those hollow cheeks and sunken eyes from the time he had walked you home.

Todoroki suddenly felt you rouse in his arms. Tearing his eyes away from the intense fight on the TV, he saw you groggily wake up as your gaze fell onto the TV screen too. And with your own eyes, you saw for yourself that your beloved uncle was on TV, fighting his hardest against his worst enemy. With your own eyes, you saw, and you realized. All Might had been your uncle all along.

You didn’t even know what to feel anymore. Completely exhausted by all the trauma that you had experienced, your mind stood in hazy numbness as you watched your uncle struggle against All for One. You were barely aware of Todoroki tightening his grip on you, squeezing you closer to him while he tried to comfort you as he too recognized the Number One Hero as your uncle. As everyone else around you gasped or shouted with the battle that was going on, you watched silently as All Might, as your Uncle Toshinori went past his limits to match All for One’s power. The hundreds of people watching the intense fight all collectively held their breaths at the same time as All Might unleashed his final and ultimate move, and pummeled All for One into the ground. As everyone witnessed All Might’s victory, as everyone remembered why All Might was called the Symbol of Peace, the plaza exploded into screams and cheers. Several people burst into tears while others gaped in awe. In unison, everyone rejoiced, pumping their fists up, all chanting “All Might!” in their emotional happiness.

As the clamour and jubilation surrounded you, still, you watched in a dream-like state, numb to the world around you.

After the incident, Yaoyorozu, Todoroki, and you met up with Midoriya and Bakugo’s group. The [Last]-Bakugo Rescue Team took you and Bakugo to the police station, which took you two in for further questioning and debriefing. A detective met up with you two, and he introduced himself as Detective Tsukauchi and All Might’s friend. He made sure you were alright before he started asking his questions. When you numbly answered all his questions, you could feel Bakugo’s red eyes on you, worriedly watching you. With your face completely devoid of emotion, you recounted all the gruesome details of your capture and your time in the basement of the Villain Hideout. Even though the detective told you that you didn’t have to tell him if you didn’t want to, you didn’t mind anymore. The true trauma had not occurred during your capture. The true trauma had occurred after your father had freed you, as he had battled All for One.

Detective Tsukauchi then escorted you to a hospital and you were separated from Bakugo. The doctors checked you over, but could not find any wounds. All of your physical injuries had healed upon the activation of Awakening, leaving you with no visible wounds. You told them this, but they still fussed over you until they confirmed that you were in good health. The nurses then guided you to a room in the hospital, where you were supposed to rest at least for a day until you could go back home.

Now, as you sank into the soft hospital bed, you couldn’t sleep. How could you sleep, after everything that had happened? Your mind felt scattered, stuck in this suspended state, as if a thousand things were playing inside your mind at the same time. As if you were in a dream, your memories replayed themselves, like a broken record. Strangely, some of these memories appeared a bit foreign. Some of the memories… you didn’t even recognize. It was almost as if they didn’t belong to you. They played inside your head, almost as if they were trying to tell you something.

In the silence of the hospital, you closed your eyes, letting the unfamiliar memories carry you into the depths of your mind, letting the unfamiliar memories tell you their story.

It was dark. Grey storm clouds filled the moonless night sky, weeping droplets the size of stones. The rain fell, splattering onto the street, mixing and blending with the red that dyed the road.

It was dark. A little boy, no older than four or five years old, stood alone, with his dark, dark eyes fixed straight ahead.

Whose memories were these?

Chapter Text

Deep down inside, you knew that these pictures, these images playing inside your head were what your father had left you. You recalled that he had placed his thumb on your forehead, and you had felt something being transferred into your mind before his life had ended. Now, the compendium of his life lay within you as the memories swirled inside of you. You closed your eyes, unsure, unknowing if the truth was more bearable than the lies you had known your whole life. You took a deep breath, and let the memories of the past solidify within your mind.

The scenery manifested out of thin air around you. You could feel the concrete road beneath your feet. You could hear the loud pitter patter of the rain. You could smell the iron of the red colouring the streets, steadily flowing from the corpses of several stray dogs. And you could see the little boy standing in the middle of all the red. You could see that he was young, much too young to be standing alone in the middle of all this death.

You approached him slowly, then bent down, trying to get a better view of his face. At once, she recognized those dark eyes, which stared straight ahead, fixed, empty, and seldom blinking.

The memory felt so real as you observed. As history showed itself to you, you watched on, like an invisible ghost, a phantom who was not meant to be there.

“Child, are you alone?” a deep voice asked from above them. A taller man had appeared, and you stepped back and watched. By his presence alone, you knew at once that the man was a younger version of All for One. This younger version had a head full of fair hair, and his stare was filled with nothing but greed. All for One exchanged a few words with the little boy, sweet talking him with false compassion, doing his best to hide the greed and eagerness in his tone before All for One held out his hand. As the little boy took the large outstretched hand, he might as well have signed a deal with the devil.

In the next few moments, it felt as if everything had been sped up, as decades of memories were condensed into a few minutes. You saw how, even as a child, Lieutenant Calamity was sent out to kill, to assassinate, to murder All for One’s enemies. You witnessed every battle, every fight to the death, and you saw that he had grown up in this chaotic, yet meaningless and empty life.

You saw your father’s memories. After each and every murder, the Lieutenant's dark eyes became more and more clouded, shrouded in the emptiness that would absorb all light in a single second. Slowly, All for One had carved him, shaped him into nothing but a puppet to obey all orders.

For decades, the Lieutenant's spirit wasted away, trapped in the darkness, emptiness, desolation. Like the blood of his many victims, the days bled into each other. He never failed. He always accomplished his missions and followed his orders, and as such, All for One’s confidence in him grew as well.

You saw your father grow up. The child who once stood alone on the streets was now an adult, but the same empty look in his dark, dark eyes remained constant. One day, his Teacher pulled him aside.

“Lieutenant,” All for One said to him that day in the hallway of the Villain Headquarters. “I have someone for you to meet.”

The Lieutenant noticed that there was a woman standing beside his Teacher. She looked at him with her piercing eyes, which were as black as the clothing she wore. She smiled, a smile that was full of greed and hunger.

“This is another one of my subordinates. She is known as the Woman in Black,” All for One introduced.

“Pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant,” the woman almost purred out as she batted her eyelashes at him. It was obvious that she was trying to appear attractive in front of him.

“Lieutenant, you’re going to marry her,” All for One said, and it wasn’t a suggestion. It was an order. “After you marry, you’re going to produce offspring.”

“Understood,” the Lieutenant said, his voice as flat and unfeeling as ever. He never questioned his orders. He always followed his Teacher’s word, so why would this order be any different?

All for One nodded at him in approval.

“The wedding will be tomorrow. I await the results,” he said, before he left his two subordinates alone in the empty hallway.

At once, the woman walked to him and wrapped her arms around him as if they were long time lovers. She rested her head against his chest and breathed in slowly, inhaling his scent. The Lieutenant didn’t react. He had no desire to hold her back, and his arms hung by his sides as he tolerated her. Even so, she didn’t seem to mind his indifference.

“You know, you’re pretty famous among us villains,” she murmured to him. “The men respect and fear you. The women gossip about how mysterious and handsome you are. I’m honoured to have been chosen to be your wife.”

“It was Teacher’s order,” he responded simply.

The “marriage ceremony” was quick and short. It wasn’t even a real wedding, but they were pronounced husband and wife. However, for the next few months, every pregnancy ended in miscarriage. For his whole life, he had never failed to obey the orders given by his Teacher until now. No children were made since no fetus lasted more than three months in his wife’s womb. Miscarriage after miscarriage, his wife grew quickly frustrated with herself, while the Lieutenant remained impassive.

He had grown up knowing the emptiness. The void was normal for him, as it suppressed his emotions and helped him stay merciless as he continued to slaughter his opponents systematically, one by one. How could he want for anything else, when he had known nothing but the emptiness for his whole life? And yet, deep down, he knew there was something. Something for which he was searching. Something that he was trying to find. But he didn't know what that something was. It was a faint feeling, as if his subconscious knew that there was something missing.

As the Lieutenant’s kill count grew, All for One’s ego grew with it, and he sent his Lieutenant on more and more dangerous missions.

During this time, another villain gang had been steadily rising and gaining followers. The five leaders who ran the new group were young and powerful, which drew them much favour from aspiring villains. When that villain group started to invade into All for One’s territory, All for One deemed them too big of a threat to ignore. He sent one of his subordinates to meet with the new group’s leaders as a messenger. The messenger was supposed to tell the young leaders that this land was already taken, but the messenger never returned, and his dead body was found in the river the next day. All for One was furious. He sent his strongest and most trusted subordinate on a mission to crush the five young leaders once and for all.

That stormy night, the Lieutenant infiltrated the new group’s headquarters with no problem. He had found the five leaders with no problem, but they were much stronger than what he and his Teacher anticipated. Not only were the five incredibly strong, but they also fought against him together with perfect teamwork and synchronization. Their five quirks perfectly counterbalanced the others’ weaknesses, and their ferocity and mercilessness matched the Lieutenant’s as they fought and brought him closer and closer to his limit. That night, the Lieutenant fought for his life.

The battle that night was long and brutal. When the storm clouds had cleared and the early rays of the morning sun shined over the horizon, dawn had arrived, and the Lieutenant remained standing among the wreckage of what used to be the new group’s headquarters. Among the wreckage lay the five bodies of the Lieutenant’s opponents, dead on the ground, while he stood above them, extremely wounded and absolutely exhausted, almost dead himself.

He heard sirens in the distance. The police were coming, and he was in no state to fight. So he ran.

With his vision fading in and out, with his pulse pounding in his ears, he dragged his half dead body along the way, trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the police sirens. Eventually, he collapsed in an alleyway behind a half full dumpster. The battle with the five leaders had sapped him of his strength. He had lost too much blood to move anymore.

You watched all of this quietly, seeing what your father had seen, experiencing what your father had experienced.

With his cheek laying in a puddle of muddy water, with his eyelids slowly drooping closed, he acknowledged that this filthy alleyway may be where his empty life ended.

“Hey,” a female voice called out to him. You, who had been focusing your entire attention on your father, had not even noticed the woman arrive. You looked around to the entrance of the alleyway, and your breath caught in your throat when you saw your mother.

The last time that you had seen your mother was when you were six years old, that night where the two of you had been attacked, where your mother had lost her life. The funeral had used a closed casket, since the body was much too damaged to be shown.

As if you had been hypnotized, you half walked, half ran towards your mother, driven by the need to go to her and look at her again. You stopped in front of her. You almost couldn’t believe what you were seeing as your eyes stayed locked on the face of Misaki Yagi.

Your uncle wasn’t lying when he said that you looked exactly like your mother. It was almost like looking into a mirror, almost like looking into the face of an identical twin, and you realized that no matter how long you looked on at your mother, it would never be enough. Momentarily forgetting that you were in a memory, you slowly lifted your hand, fingers outstretched, towards your mother’s face.

“I missed you,” you whispered, reaching for her as if she were too good to be true.

And she was too good to be true.

As your hand moved to caress your mother’s face, your fingers slipped through Misaki’s cheek, as if you were a ghost with no physical body. You were once again confronted with the harsh reality that this was just a memory that you were seeing, and that Misaki Yagi was dead in the real world. Your hand dropped back to your side as you looked at your mother in hopeless longing. Misaki would never be able to look at her daughter all grown up. Misaki would never see how strong her daughter had become. Misaki would never know how much her daughter wished to simply hold her hand again.

“Hey!” Misaki Yagi repeated, calling out to the wounded man collapsed in the alleyway. Her hand let go of the garbage bag that she had been carrying, and it dropped with a thump to her feet. She rushed to the Lieutenant’s side.

“Hey! Wake up!” she shouted at him in a panic as she pulled his injured body into her arms. She shook him, trying to get some answer out of him. “Hey! I’ll call an ambulance right now!”

“N-no,” the Lieutenant muttered, forcing the word through his bloody mouth.

“What?! You don’t want an ambulance?!” Misaki couldn’t believe her ears. “But you’re so injured!”

“No… ambulance,” he said. “And no police… no matter what… please.”

Next second, he had passed out, completely limp in the woman’s arms, and the scenery faded to black before it manifested around you again. This time, you were standing in what looked like a cozy and warm bedroom of an apartment. On the bed lay the Lieutenant, resting with all his wounds cleaned and neatly bandaged.

The door of the bedroom clicked softly open, and Misaki entered the room carrying a bowl of warm soup just as the Lieutenant woke up from the sound of movement. He sat up on the bed, eyeing her cautiously.

“I see you’re awake,” Misaki said, setting the soup on the bedside cabinet. “You were in pretty bad shape when I found you but I patched you up. I work as a part time nurse, so my handiwork shouldn’t be too bad.”

“Why did you save me?” he asked, a cold edge to his voice.

“Because you needed saving,” she answered without missing a beat. She kneeled beside the bed, reaching for his heavily bandaged right forearm. “Now hold still while I change your wrappings.”

As soon as her fingertips touched him, he wrenched his arm away out of instinct.

“Don’t touch me,” he growled at her, much like the snarl of a wild animal.

“Hey, don’t move so suddenly!” she tried to reason, worried about the wellbeing of her patient. “Your wounds will reopen if you’re not careful!”

“I’m not staying here!” he shouted at her, throwing the covers off himself. “I need to get back to my Teacher!”

As soon as he shot onto his feet out of the bed, his bandaged head felt it was going to burst open. Losing his balance, he tripped over his foot and tumbled towards the floor. He held out his arm to brace the impact, and landed heavily on his right forearm.

“Hey! I told you to be careful!” Misaki yelled in alarm, rushing to his side. She put a comforting hand on his shoulder, helping him sit back, and her eyebrows furrowed when she noticed the blotch of red quickly spreading across his right forearm. “You’re bleeding again. I don’t know who your Teacher is, but he can wait until you’re better.”

The Lieutenant didn’t answer. He was too busy trying to endure the pain in his head, and deep down, he knew that he couldn’t possibly return to the Villain Headquarters in this condition without being caught by the police. He knew he was in no shape to do much right now, so he let the woman help him up off the floor, guide him back to the bed, and he tolerated her as she changed his bandages.

A month passed like this. It took a month for most of his wounds to heal naturally as she nursed him back to health. In the first few days, whenever she tried to change his bandages, he would flinch out of her grasp by instinct the moment she touched him. Nevertheless, she always rebandaged him neatly, and her touches always remained gentle, and gradually, he became used to her as the days wore on. It became routine for them as he recovered. During the day, he would either sleep or watch the small TV in the corner of the guest bedroom as she went to work. Before the sun would set, he would hear a faint jingle of keys outside of the apartment door, followed by the clicking of the lock, and she would be back. She would check up on him to make sure he’s ok, cook dinner for him, and then change his bandages as she softly talked to him about her day.

Within that month, Misaki Yagi was pleased with how her patient was healing and gradually talking more to her and responding to her. When she told him about her funny stories at work, sometimes he’d even put in some of his own comments. But everytime she looked into his dark, dark eyes, she couldn’t help but feel sad. Those were the eyes of someone who was hurt, who had only known pain and trauma for his entire life. Those were the eyes of someone who was used to his living nightmare of an existence. She wondered about how he got his injuries, but she was careful to never dig too deeply about his past when she chatted with him, no matter how many questions she had.

One night, all her questions were answered.

That night, while he showered in the bathroom, she took the time to vacuum and tidy up the guest bedroom a little bit. As she changed the sheets on his bed, the small TV in the corner of the room was on, broadcasting the news, and she glanced at it every once in a while, singing quietly to herself.

The pitter patter of water hitting the shower floor stopped, and there was a slight rustling as her patient dried himself off and put on clean clothes.

Inside the bathroom, the Lieutenant sighed as he rubbed the towel over his wet hair. Most of his wounds had healed now, and that meant he could go back to Headquarters and see his Teacher soon. The clean cotton shirt and grey sweatpants that he wore smelled good, a bit like soap, and a bit like the woman who had taken care of him while he was injured. He had gotten so used to her presence over the past month. Lately, he had realized that a small part of him even looked forward to hearing the daily jingle of keys outside of the apartment door, since that meant she was home.

Still rubbing his wet hair with the towel, he exited the steam filled bathroom, walking down the cooler hallway towards his bedroom. He could hear the faint radio-like voices from the news broadcast on TV, and the rather pleasant sound of Misaki humming to herself.

He didn't exactly ‘like’ her. He had spent his entire life in rough emptiness, so his dried up heart was unfamiliar to emotions such as ‘like’. He simply described it to himself as being able to tolerate her presence slightly more than he tolerated the others.

He gave his hair one final pat with the towel before he threw it into the laundry basket nearby. He continued down the hallway, the cool floorboards feeling pleasant against his feet. He arrived at the entrance of the guest bedroom, and at once, his sharp instincts picked up that something was off. Misaki had stopped humming to herself as she stared at the TV in the corner.

Subconsciously clutching the white bedsheets to her chest, Misaki stood still as her focus was completely locked on the small screen as the news was being broadcasted.

One look at the TV told him all he needed to know. The police sketch on the screen was rough, but the ears, the eyes, the nose were unmistakable. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was him.

“… major villain finally believed to be dead,” the reporter was saying. “The streets will be much safer now without him…”

He took another step into the room, trying to get a better view of the TV. The floorboard creaked under his foot. With a slight yelp, Misaki turned to face him. Slipping out of her grasp, the sheets fluttered to the floor and lay rumpled at her feet. Startled, she looked at him, eyes wide like a doe’s in headlights.

“You were...” she started to say, trying to find her voice amidst the shock and surprise she felt.

He said nothing in return. He knew what he had to do. She had discovered his secret, and he had been trained to leave no witnesses. It would be easy. He had her cornered in this room, leaving her with no escape other than the small window behind the bed.

His dried up heart had no room for compassion, but a tiny part of him hoped, for her sake, that she wouldn’t try to run from him. The ones who ran away always had the bloodiest ends.

Still, he expected her to flee in fear, like how a rabbit would run away from a wolf, because it was human nature to run from danger. He was fully prepared to chase her down and end her, like how he had ended so many other lives already. But instead of turning away, she did something that he wouldn’t have expected in a thousand years.

Instead, she ran towards him, throwing her arms around him as the tears dripped down her cheeks from her bright eyes.

“You were a villain all this time, weren’t you?” she cried, arms tightening around him as she held him to her.

For the first time in his life, the Lieutenant was stunned, confused as he didn’t know what exactly to do.

“You’ve been suffering all this time by yourself, haven’t you?” she sobbed, forehead pressed into his shoulder, her heart aching with compassion for him. She clung to him as she wept, and he felt a burst of warmth erupt within himself. It filled his mind, his body, filling the emotionless void he had known since childhood.

He felt his breath catch in his throat.

What was this? He didn’t understand. What was this unfamiliar feeling?

Was this feeling the something that was missing? The something for which he had been searching? The something that he had been trying to find?

Was this what they called happiness?

This was her quirk, her power. To make others feel warm, to make people feel happy, and he realized. Through her tears, through her sobs, he realized that she was the one who was trying to comfort him. As her body trembled against his, he realized that she was the one who was trying to soothe him and show him that everything was going to be alright.

“You’re not afraid of a monster like me?” he asked softly. He felt her shake her head against his shoulder. Her hands clung onto the back of his shirt.

“You’ve been suffering,” she choked out, voice cracking with all the empathy and sorrow she felt for him. “You’ve been in pain all your life, but you never noticed because it’s all you’ve ever known.”

She was making him feel things that he didn’t understand. This unfamiliar, yet soothing feeling was making his heart twist and squirm, as it felt like a revolution was taking place inside his head, as his mind was being torn apart and reconstructed at the same time. She clung onto him with every fibre of her being, the gentleness breaking through the walls in which he had imprisoned himself for all these years, soaking, almost drowning his heart in warmth that he has never known. Throughout his entire life, he has had perfect control over his body, so why was he suddenly trembling right now? Why was his body shivering, even when he wasn’t cold? Why was his breathing so quick right now? Why couldn’t he stop the water that accumulated in his eyes?

Shaking and hesitant, his hands lifted from his sides, and his arms slowly wrapped around her as well. As the tears leaked from their source, as his jaw hung open a bit stupidly, he held her back. Hopelessly helpless, more vulnerable than he had ever been in his life, he completely surrendered himself to her, giving himself to her as he held her back. Absolutely overwhelmed by the emotions that the both of them felt, the two quivering bodies dropped to the ground together, trembling against each other.

That night, the two of them held each other, kneeling on the floor, clinging together as if the each of the two were the other’s lifeline.

That night, she had used her quirk on him for the first time in order to comfort him. Without even meaning to, she unknowingly broke through the dam that he had built throughout his entire life to encase his emotions. That night, when the dam holding back his emotions shattered, All for One’s control over him shattered as well.

That night, his life was giving a new purpose. A new beginning.

But that night also marked the beginning of the end for the Lieutenant.

The hours passed. The black sky gradually lessened into deep indigo, which in turn slowly lightened into soft orange as the sun made its way into the sky. The man then noticed that Misaki had cried herself to sleep in his arms. He picked her up with a gentleness that he didn’t know he possessed. He carried her effortlessly to her bedroom, set her into the bed, and pulled the sheets over her sleeping form.

He knew what had to be done. He easily found several multi coloured pens and pieces of white paper in her room sprawled across her writing table. He sat himself down at her desk, grabbed the pen and piece of paper closest to his hand, and started to write:

Wife,

I won’t be coming back. I’m sorry for telling you like this, but I won’t be a villain anymore.

Ever since I was young, I have been nothing but Teacher’s emotionless tool. I only married you because it was Teacher’s order. He has controlled me for my whole life. After Teacher sent me on my latest mission, I met someone, and she has broken me out of Teacher’s mind control. It was like opening my eyes for the first time. For the first time in decades, I have gained control over my own life. I am no longer Teacher’s Lieutenant. I am no longer his puppet that blindly obeys orders.

I have found happiness. And I hope that you can find your happiness with someone else.

Don’t try to find me. Don’t look for me.

C

He got up as soon as he was finished. He spared a tender glance at the woman sleeping in the bed, then he made his way across the apartment and out the front door. He had a letter to deliver to the villain Headquarters.

The scene shifted itself again as the different colours and shapes of this memory rebuilt themselves.

Misaki Yagi stood in her kitchen, apron wrapped around her waist, humming to herself as she stirred the pot of stew shimmering on her stove. Now, it was apparent that some time had passed, as you could see large snowflakes outside the kitchen window. They drifted among themselves in the darkness of the winter night, in sharp contrast to the warm and glowing kitchen.

There was the click of the lock before the front door of the apartment opened, and her fully recovered patient came home, a few snowflakes clinging onto his hair.

“I’m home,” he said to her as he took off his shoes and set them neatly on the mat by the door.

“Welcome home, C,” she said over her shoulder as he walked into the kitchen to meet her. “How was your first day at your job?”

“My coworkers all seem pretty hardworking,” he replied to her, rolling up his sleeves. He washed his hands before he set to work as well, taking the peeler and working at the potatoes. “I’m just starting out at this construction job, so I’ll be making only minimum wage, but it’s better than nothing.”

“I know you’re doing your best,” she responded as the two of them worked together to make dinner. She stirred the contents of the pot as he took a small knife and cut up the potatoes into bite sized chunks.

“It’s good that Vector Control lets me disguise my face a little so that other people don’t recognize me.”

“It does?” she asked curiously. She turned away from the stew to stare at him, studying his face suspiciously for a few seconds. “But I don’t see any difference.”

“That’s because I don’t have to disguise myself in front of you,” he said.

“How does it work?” She scooped up the potato pieces in front of him with her hands.

“Basically, we see because light hits things, and then the light gets reflected off those objects before they hit our eyes,” he started answering, trying to explain to her in the least complicated way. “If I adjust the light that hits my face using my quirk, then I can adjust how people see me.”

“C, you don’t have to hold back on the scientific terms. I graduated from nursing school, after all. I can understand you just fine,” she said with a smile. She turned around to drop the potato pieces into the pot. “But I do appreciate your thoughtful explanation.”

She stirred the contents of the pot with her spoon again, pushing all the vegetable and meat pieces around as the pleasant aroma of cooking food filled the cozy kitchen.

“I’m glad,” she simply said after a few moments. She didn’t need to say more for him to understand. He knew what she meant.

“I’m glad that we turned my life around too,” he agreed with her.

A comfortable silence fell between them as they stood side by side together, watching the stew lightly shimmer in front of them.

“I don’t deserve you,” he said after a few minutes.

“How come?”

“I… need to tell you something,” he replied a bit nervously.

She sensed the heavy burden that he was carrying by his tone. She set down the spoon she had been holding, and turned to hug him to her.

“It’s ok,” she said, rubbing his back soothingly. “You can tell me anything you want.”

Even now, she was the one who was trying to comfort him. He inhaled slowly, preparing himself for his confession, fearing possible rejection from the one source of happiness in his life. The next few words weren’t gonna be easy, but she deserved the truth.

“Before I met you, someone else organized my whole life for me. I was… nothing but a puppet for him, my Teacher,” he began to say.

“I remember you mentioned your Teacher once, when I had tried to change your bandages for the first time,” she recalled. “Even though you were so injured, you still wanted to see him.”

“Yeah, that’s him. When I was still under his control, he arranged a marriage for me and he chose a woman for me. He wanted my quirk, so he ordered me… to make children for him… with her.” He paused here, taking a few seconds to gauge her reaction. Her face was buried into his shoulder, and he couldn’t see her expression.

“I had no feelings for that woman. I was a blind puppet following orders,” he confessed truthfully. “All the pregnancies turned into miscarriages, and I’ve broken things off with her, but I had been with that other woman before... in my past.”

She simply hugged him tighter to her.

“It’s ok,” she said.

“You don’t mind?” he asked in surprise.

“I don’t care,” she said, and it felt as if a bucket of relief was poured over him. “Your Teacher was controlling you back then. It doesn't matter. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself about it.”

“Thank you,” he said, the edge of his lip curving into a small smile of relief as he pressed a kiss against her temple.

“No need to thank me,” she answered.

The scene shifted again. They were still in the kitchen, and warm rays of sunlight shined into the room. The two of them were sitting at the dinner table as you stood to the side, still quietly observing your parents as the memories unfolded in front of you. With his eyebrows scrunched up, the ex-Lieutenant appeared to be slightly uneasy about something as he looked into Misaki’s calm bright eyes.

“Misaki, I don’t think this is a good idea,” he was saying.

“Nonsense,” she said with a simple smile. She reached over and took his hand in hers. “I don’t think anything bad is going to happen.”

“He’s the number one hero after all… He might think I’m still a villain… I don’t want a fight to break out.”

“A fight’s not gonna break out. You’ll be fine,” she responded, squeezing his hand. “Believe me, it’s all going to be ok.”

The ring of the doorbell sounded throughout the apartment.

“He’s here!” Misaki said excitedly, springing up from her chair. “You stay here. I’ll get it.”

Leaving him sitting at the table, Misaki hurried out of the kitchen and down the hallway. Positively beaming, she unlocked the door and flung it open, and you were greeted with the sight of your uncle.

Toshinori Yagi was far younger than you had ever seen him in your life. His cheeks weren’t hollow, and his eyes weren’t sunken. He was still a bit skinny, but he looked much healthier than he did now in reality, and he stood more than a head taller than Misaki.

“Hey shorty, I see you’re still as short as ever.” He greeted her with a poke to her forehead.

“And I see you’re still looking frumpy as ever,” she teased back, raising her eyebrows at his white baggy shirt and loose green cargo pants.

“I told you before that I need to wear baggy clothes to fit my hero form,” he explained. “If I wore clothes that fit my normal form, then they would rip if I transformed into All Might.”

“I know, but you still look frumpy,” she said with a smirk, earning her another poke to the forehead.

“Now, I came here because you told me you had someone for me to meet?” he asked her, looking around her apartment in hopes of finding this ‘someone’.

“Yes, I thought it was about time that I introduce him to my family,” Misaki said, taking her brother’s hand and leading the way down the hall. However, when they got to the kitchen, the table was empty. Misaki pursed her lips.

“So, where is he? I’d like to take him out for drinks sometime. Have some bonding time between men,” Toshinori said, sitting himself down onto a chair at the table.

“C, where are you? Please come out,” she called out to him. The floorboards outside the kitchen creaked.

“Uh, I don’t think this is a very good idea,” came his voice from the hallway.

“Come on, don’t be shy. You two are gonna have to meet one way or another,” Misaki reasoned with him. “I’d much prefer it this way, while I’m here.”

There was a pause. Toshinori waited patiently with a smile on his face. He was glad that his little sister found someone who made her happy. A few moments passed, and then C stepped from behind the corner of the wall, and into plain sight at the entrance of the small kitchen.

Toshinori’s smile dropped. As soon as the two men made eye contact, Toshinori shot out of his seat, knocking over his chair. He grabbed Misaki and thrust her behind him, trying to shield her from the man who stood in the entrance of the kitchen. In the blink of an eye, Toshinori’s thinner limbs swelled into pure muscle. His shirt and pants became tightly stretched across his body as he morphed into his All Might form.

“Misaki, stay back! This guy’s a villain!”

“Big brother, stop,” she said, putting both hands on All Might’s arm as All Might glared at All for One’s ex-Lieutenant. If a fight broke out between these two… oh dear… the whole apartment building would surely be destroyed. “Please stay calm.”

“I AM CALM!”

All Might took a step forward, muscles tense, preparing for battle as he stared at his soon to be opponent. C also tensed up, ready to defend himself if need be.

“Big brother, I’m serious! Please stay calm!” Misaki insisted, hugging onto All Might’s arm now, desperately trying to hold All Might back, but she was fighting a losing battle. “He’s a good guy now! He’s abandoned his Teacher!”

“How do you know for sure?!” All Might bellowed, glaring in hot hatred at the ex-Lieutenant. “Misaki, let go of me! I need to teach this guy a lesson!”

“Brother, I love him! And he loves me! Please, just give him a chance!” Misaki shouted, and at this moment, her face turned white all of a sudden. Her hold on All Might’s arm loosened, and she threw herself towards the kitchen sink just in time to throw up into it.

At once, the ex-Lieutenant rushed forward, towards her. All Might, thinking that his ‘opponent’ was going to attack, sent a punch colliding into his shoulder. The blow that would have blasted a hole through the side of the building was instead nullified in a single instant. The ex-Lieutenant didn’t even reflect it back at All Might like All Might expected him to. Instead, the hit was harmlessly and simply nullified.

This left All Might slightly confused, as he was slowly starting to see that his ‘opponent’ was not interested in fighting at all.

“Misaki, are you alright?” C worriedly asked, putting a hand onto her trembling shoulder as she stayed hunched over the sink. “Don’t push yourself or else the baby...”

All Might’s eyes widened in surprise. He froze, staying completely still as if he were a giant muscular statue made of wax.

“A… baby? You…” Staring at his little sister, All Might took a deep breath, trying to overcome the shock he felt. “You’re pregnant?”

Misaki responded with another round of sickness. The ex-Lieutenant held her hair back as she puked into the sink.

“I’m…” All Might began, pointing his finger at himself. “I'm going to be an uncle?”

A few minutes were needed for him to digest this new information as his brain felt like it was stunned. All Might took several deep breaths as he quietly observed the couple. Misaki looked like she wanted to pass out, but C was there, arm wrapped around her and supporting her weight. All Might watched the man soothingly rub Misaki’s back while he reassured her that she was going to be ok. But the thing that All Might noticed most was the way C looked at Misaki. He looked at her with nothing but such affection and care in his eyes that All Might was slightly taken aback. This was nothing like the cold and merciless Lieutenant Calamity that he’s heard so much about.

“Hey,” All Might said, significantly calmer than before as he spoke to the ex-Lieutenant. “She called you C, right?”

“Yeah. I’m not keeping my old name… The one soaked with blood,” he replied. “I’m not that person anymore.”

“I see.”

“After everything I’ve done, I don’t expect you to trust me,” C said truthfully. “I honestly still don’t understand how she-” he nodded at the semi-conscious woman in his arms “-trusts me, with all the heinous crimes I’ve committed. But please know that in the last few months, she has turned my life around. She’s the best thing that has ever happened in my bloodsoaked life.”

C finished talking, and All Might nodded.

“I’ve known her and cared for her ever since she was born,” All Might said, staring intently at the male in front of him. “I’ve changed her diapers and watched her grow up in front of me. She’s the most important person in the world to me.”

“She’s mine too… the most important one in my life,” C said softly. “She’s the one who saved me from All for One’s control. She’s the one who woke me up and gave me my own life back.”

“For her sake, I’ll give you a chance,” All Might said, and then his voice deepened into an ominous tone. “But if you hurt her, I will make your death a miserable one.”

“I promise you,” C said, with his determined gaze unwavering and unblinking, staring back into All Might’s intense blue. “If I ever hurt her, I beg you to end me.”

The scene shifted again.

And you stayed watching, silently observing as the memories continued, as your father’s life story unravelled before your very eyes.

Chapter Text

The scene of your father’s memory shifted again into a new one. The previous warm, cozy colours of the kitchen swirled around you and blended into a darker shade. In a second, your feet touched cool, dry grass. You breathed in, and the fresh springtime air filled your lungs. The crickets chirped in the distance as the full moon shined down upon the grounds of a small park. You looked around, and found your parents sitting on a wooden bench nearby, alone in the small park.

And you stayed watching, silently observing as the memories continued, as your father’s life story unravelled before your very eyes.

It seemed that quite a bit of time had passed since the last memory. Misaki’s baby bump was the size of a watermelon now, and she tenderly rested a hand on the bump while her other hand was intertwined with her partner’s.

“C, when I was walking back home after getting the ultrasound, something strange happened today … ” Misaki was quietly saying as her partner listened intently beside her. “Something frightening … ”

“Frightening?” he asked, giving her his full attention.

“Yes. A strange man approached me. He was wearing a hood covering half his face, so I couldn’t see who he was or anything. As soon as he got close to me, I felt like I was pinned to place. It felt like he gave off this aura that held me still.”

At this, an uneasy feeling started to grow in the pit of C’s stomach. An aura that pinned people to place sounded familiar… unpleasantly familiar.

“He put a hand on the baby bump,” Misaki continued. “I felt like something was transferred from him to the baby, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I could just stay there as his aura pinned me to place. He then told me that he gave the baby a ‘gift’ since he knew you.”

At this, the ex-Lieutenant’s dark eyes flashed in recognition. There was no mistake about it. It was him.

“All for One,” C breathed out in revulsion. “My past Teacher. He’s found me.”

“Do you think he hurt our baby?” Misaki worriedly asked, running her palm across the roundness of the bump.

“No. There’s no chance,” he reassured her, putting an arm around her shoulder, holding her close to him. “I know how he thinks. He’s interested in my quirk. There’s no way he would maim any potential ‘vessels’ of Vector Control.”

“Oh good,” Misaki sighed. She leaned her head against his strong shoulder, relaxing in the comfort of his presence. A small breeze blew through the empty park. The crickets chirped on in the distance, without a single care in the world. The ex-Lieutenant looked up into the night sky, at the stars twinkling among the sea of black.

“It’s my fault that he’s targeting you,” he said bitterly, glaring at the stars. “I'm sorry I dragged you into this mess.”

“You didn’t drag me in at all,” she retorted, almost fiercely. “I did this by my own free will.”

“Do you regret it?”

“Not at all.” She squeezed his hand in her own, and he felt a rush of happiness and contentment run through his body as she used her quirk to put him at ease. He couldn’t help it, but his lips raised slightly in the smallest smile.

“We’ll never be able to live a peaceful life in Japan so long as All for One remains in power here,” he continued, but his tone was significantly lighter than before. “We’ll have to leave the country.”

“Yes,” she agreed. He nodded, and then his eyebrows furrowed when he looked at her swollen belly.

“But are you alright to travel?” he asked, staring at the baby bump. “It’s going to be risky to relocate a heavily pregnant mother.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m strong enough to handle it,” she said, sitting up straight and staring him dead in the eyes. “And I know for sure that our baby girl is strong enough to handle it too.”

C blinked, then almost whipped his head up to face her.

“A girl?” he repeated, completely caught off guard. Misaki let out a small laugh at the shock on his face.

“Yes, a girl,” she happily confirmed. “Sorry, so much has happened today that I forgot to tell you the result of the ultrasound.”

“A girl,” he said to himself again, as if he were stunned.

“Yes, a girl, you silly,” Misaki said, poking him in the ribs. But even the poke didn’t seem enough to snap him out of his daze. Misaki laughed as she looked fondly up at him, and the two of them sat on the park bench, together beneath the ocean of stars.

The scene shifted again, as this memory ended and the next began …

The white room was clean and tidy. You were standing, looking out an open window at a neat green lawn. The curtains of the window fluttered around you. You sniffed, and observed that the faint smell of disinfectant hung around the air.

You were in a hospital room, and you heard your mother’s voice, soft and soothing, whispering sweet nothings from the corner of the room. Along with your mother’s voice, you noticed that there was a faint, strange cooing sound also coming from the corner of the room. You turned your head to look in that direction, and saw your mother resting in the hospital bed.

Misaki looked awful. Her face was pale, making the dark bags under her eyes stand out even more. Although she looked like she had just been through something awful, although she looked like she hadn’t slept all day or night for a week, she was positively beaming at a certain something wrapped in pink blankets that she was holding. The biggest and brightest smile graced her face. Her gaze was full of nothing but fondness and endearment as she looked at the pink bundle, from which the faint cooing sounds were coming.

Then, the door of the room quickly opened, and you saw your father rush in.

“Sorry I couldn’t be with you during the birth, the doctors wouldn’t allow me in there during the C section,” he said, his words almost all meshing together in his hurry to get them all out.

“Hehe, C section, just like your name,” Misaki muttered in humour, but C didn’t seem to be listening to her anymore. He stood there, frozen as soon as he saw the small bundle in Misaki’s arms.

“That … that is … ” he tried to say, staring at the pink bundle, but it seemed as if all of his mental thought processes had ceased to exist. His lips continued to move, and no sound came out, but his words were not needed for Misaki to understand his meaning.

“Yes, this is our daughter,” she confirmed. “Would you like to hold her?”

“H-hold her?” he asked uncertainly, his voice weak as he made his way to the edge of her bed. “Sh-should I?”

“Why not?” she asked, holding the bundle of blankets out to him.

“I … I … ” he was trying to say, but his ability to form complete sentences had been lost. Hesitantly, carefully, he took the pink bundle into his arms, as if a single wrong move will shatter the tiny thing.

“She looks like a potato, doesn’t she?” Misaki asked jokingly as she pulled the hospital sheets over herself.

His darker eyes laid on the bundle in his arms just as the newborn opened hers the tiniest fraction. Her bright, bright eyes, identical to her mother’s, looked up at him. At once, he was stunned as all sorts of feelings surged within him, every bit as mysterious and magical as the birth of a rising star. As he looked into the newborn’s eyes, he felt like his entire existence was being squeezed by a feeling more solid than any metal, stronger than any diamond, than any material in the universe. The feeling was like the warmth that would chase away any winter, no matter how bitter or cold. The feeling was like the gentleness that urges the flowers to bud and bloom. The feeling was like the luminosity, the light that replaces the darkness, that fills any emptiness that he had ever known in his life.

Love. That feeling was complete and unconditional love.

“She’s beautiful,” he breathed, voice heavy with emotion as the tears overflowed and dripped down his cheeks.

“Oh geez, you’re crying too? Now I’ll have two crybabies to deal with,” Misaki said, poking fun at him.

He tore his gaze from his newborn daughter to look at Misaki, and as his daughter cooed at him from his arms, his chest felt like it would burst from all the feelings he felt for these two. As he looked at the woman resting on the hospital bed, he realized all over again. As he looked into her gentle eyes, he realized that she was the one who rescued him from the darkness. He realized that she had changed his life, that she had saved him from the hollowness and emptiness that swallowed him, and that his life would be meaningless without her.

“Thank you,” he said to her, voicing all of the gratitude and devotion he felt for her, his eyes wet from emotion and filled with tears.

“Hey, dry your eyes before you thank me,” she playfully scolded him.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, a bit embarrassed. He shifted the newborn to one arm as he raised the other to his face, mopping his tears with his sleeve. “I shouldn’t be getting this emotional.”

“Oh, I was just kidding, I didn’t actually mean it,” Misaki quickly said. She took a breath, and let out a sigh of contentment as she turned to look out the window.

“Still, I … shouldn’t … ” he tried to get out, but his throat seemed like it was being squeezed by all that he was feeling at this moment, and he choked on his words. He sniffed, and mopped once again at his eyes with his sleeve.

“The true value of life lies in the emotions you feel along the way,” Misaki said as she looked peacefully out the window. “The fact that you’re feeling all this … this shows us proof that we’re alive.”

“You’re amazing.” Those words were the only ones that he could manage through his tears at this moment.

“You flatter me,” she replied.

The scene shifted again, but this time, the room that materialized was a familiar one. Your feet landed on cool wooden flooring, and you looked around the space in recognition. The flooring, the furniture, the large clean windows and peach coloured walls, all of this you remembered. This was your childhood home, back when your family was whole.

It was apparent that years had passed between this memory and the last, as you noticed your child self. Dressed in a t-shirt and a neat little skirt, the little girl was sitting on the couch with her father. While her father read his newspaper beside her, the child played with her cotton princess doll, combing through the doll’s yarn hair with her small fingers. Her dinosaur doll lay on the floor, abandoned and completely forgotten by the child as she focused on the princess one.

You felt very strange as you observed and noticed several significant differences between the small child and your current self. The little girl’s cheeks were a bit chubby from the baby fat that older you had lost before middle school. The most notable difference was that the little girl’s face wore an expression of childlike purity, and nothing but innocence shined within her large bright eyes as she happily played with her doll.

“Hey Daddy, with a quirk like yours, why aren’t you a hero?” the child asked suddenly, voice bright and curious.

The father sighed, setting his newspaper down. Instead of answering the child’s question, he reached over and gently pat her on the head.

“Maybe I’ll tell you another time,” he answered. His daughter was young. Much too young to know the bitter and bloodsoaked truth behind his past. He wanted his daughter to at least live out her childhood in happiness before learning the truth.

“That’s what you said last time,” she pouted in disappointment.

“Sorry [First], maybe next time.”

“Alright,” she agreed dully, knowing she wasn’t going to get an answer anytime soon. Then, her large eyes lit up in excitement again. “You know, I’m four years old already! That means I’m gonna get my quirk soon!”

“Is that so?” her father asked in amusement. “The years really did fly by.”

“Yeah! I can’t wait! I hope it’s like yours!” The little girl couldn’t stop her enthusiasm. “Then I can become super cool like All Might on TV! I can become a super amazing hero!”

A shadow passed over the father’s face as he felt his stomach squirm in dread. He knew full well that his daughter would be getting her quirk soon, and he knew full well the dangers that would come to her if she had his quirk. They had lived the past four years in peace, but All for One would endlessly and vigorously target them for sure if he found out that a “vessel” had been born.

“You’d be better off with your mother’s quirk.” He muttered those words to himself, but little you still caught them.

“Why don’t you want me to have your quirk?” she questioned innocently. “I can’t become a hero if I have Mommy’s quirk.”

“[First] dear, why don’t you play with your dinosaur toy?” he asked, dodging her question. Reaching down, he picked up the stuffed dinosaur from the floor. He held the toy out to her. “Mr Dino must feel pretty lonely down there.”

“Oh, I forgot about him!” she said, setting aside her princess doll so that she could take the dinosaur. She hugged it close to her, and started rocking it as if it were a baby. “Mr Dino, I’m sorry that I forgot about you.”

The father breathed out a sigh of relief that his distraction plan worked. As he looked on at his four year old daughter playing with her dolls, he yearned and wished that she would not have to be chased by the fate that awaits the “vessel”. He hoped with all his heart that she would live a life of happiness, and that she would never have to experience the terror and brutality of the world as he had.

The scene shifted again. The father stood at the kitchen counter, tossing the salad as the casserole baked in the oven. Misaki had taken the girl to the park a while ago, and the father used this time to cook so that dinner would be ready by the time they get back.

Just as he set the tossed salad on the table, the doorbell rang.

“They’re home early,” he noted to himself. The casserole hadn’t finished baking yet. And it was strange that they would ring the doorbell. Did Misaki forget her keys? He made his way to the front door and unlocked it.

“Welcome h … ” he began to say as he pulled the door open, and he was greeted by the familiar face of his old Teacher.

“After all these years, I’ve finally found you,” All for One said triumphantly. “Now, stay calm. You don’t want to make a scene, do you? You don’t want the whole neighbourhood destroyed now, do you?”

The father took in a deep breath as he stared into All for One’s despiteful face. All for One was right. If a fight happened right now, then the neighbourhood would be completely wiped out.

“Long time no see, right, my Lieutenant?” All for One taunted. “Years ago, back when I sent you on that mission to neutralize the new group’s five leaders, you didn’t return. I thought you had died, but a month later, your wife found a note explaining that you’ve left us. Then, when I found you again, you and your dear Misaki fled the country, and it took me years to track you down. Running anymore will be useless, my Lieutenant. I have obtained a quirk that helps me find people I personally know. No matter where you run, I’ll find you.”

The father said nothing. All for One continued.

“I have the power to kill your dear Misaki and [First], right now if I wanted to,” he threatened.

“You wouldn’t dare,” the father growled, his hands clenching into fists.

“I have the power to. You have betrayed us before, but I have decided to give you another chance, and that’s why I’m negotiating with you right now.”

“You have issues if your idea of negotiating with someone is threatening them.”

“If you want to save your family, then the answer is simple,” All for One said. “Come back to Japan immediately with me, and I won’t lay a hand on your dear family. But if you run away from me again, I will hunt you down and slaughter your loved ones then and there. If you try to escape from me by killing yourself, I will still slaughter your family right away. You can’t run from me.”

There was a moment of silence as the father internally cursed at this disastrous situation. All for One had found him a lot sooner than he had anticipated. Should they run again? The father knew that All for One would never hurt a potential “vessel”, but Misaki’s life would surely be in danger if they were to be discovered again. Was the risk worth it? Should they split up, then? Should Misaki just take [First] and run in one direction while the father escapes in the other direction? But All for One would surely still hunt them down and end them. The father internally seethed. There was no easy way out of this situation.

He then thought about Misaki, about her kindness and gentleness. He thought about his little girl, about the amount of trust and love she had for him, and about that pure smile full of childhood innocence.

“Well, what’s it going to be, my Lieutenant?! Make the choice for the ones you love!” All for One said eagerly. “Life, or death?!”

“If I go with you, promise me that you won’t touch Misaki and [First],” the father said.

“I promise,” his Teacher replied, but the father knew that his old Teacher has no intention of honouring that promise in the future. The girl was a potential vessel, and All for One would surely try to find her in the future. The father had simply hoped that the promise would at least buy those two some time to move to another part of the country, somewhere they would be safe.

“Alright,” the father said. “Give me some time to pack my things. I’ll be ready tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll meet you outside at dawn tomorrow. Don’t be late.”

All for One closed the door behind himself, leaving the father alone in the empty house. The father stayed at the door, swallowed by his thoughts, thinking about what his future held for him.

Thirty minutes later, the beep of the timer told him that the casserole was done baking. He hurried to the kitchen, switched off the oven, pulled the dish out and set it on the stovetop to cool down.

Standing to the side, the observing you watched this memory quietly. Your father took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. You then saw him grab a pen and paper from the kitchen table, and he hunched over the paper as he wrote something onto it. You stepped towards him, peering around his shoulder and trying to read the letter he was writing.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you this in person. I’m afraid that if I said this to you, face to face, I wouldn’t be able to control my emotions anymore. I’m afraid that my emotions will get in the way, and I wouldn’t be able to leave you, even if it is to protect you -

These few sentences of the letter were all that you could read before the father finished writing the paragraph that filled up half the page. He folded up the letter, took one of the “ABC” magnets lying on the counter, and pinned the letter to the top part of the fridge, somewhere his little girl wouldn’t be able to reach.

Next, he grabbed the phone from its charging port on the counter, and dialed a familiar number.

“Hello?” the voice on the other end answered.

“Toshinori, All for One has found us.”

All Might cursed over the phone. The father wasted no time, and he quickly set to explaining everything that had happened.

“He found us a lot sooner than I thought was possible, and he explained to me that he now has a quirk that helps him track me down,” the father summarized. “ If I don’t go with him back to Japan, then Misaki and [First] will be in danger. He has left now, but will be back at dawn.”

“Are you sure you have to go with him?” All Might asked, voice slightly strained, as if he was forcing himself to keep calm right now. “He’s gone now, so can you take the time to escape again?”

“I can’t,” the father replied gravely. “He found me so soon because he has that tracking quirk. He will surely find us again if we run, and next time, he’ll kill the people I care about without hesitation. I can’t escape from him anymore.”

“Shit,” All Might cursed again. “My hands are tied here too. I can’t leave Japan to go at the moment. Not while All for One’s empire is still so active here. Times are more dire than they have ever been. We’ve been doing our best over here, but no matter how many of his underlings I defeat, we’re still barely making a dent in his empire.”

“It’s ok, I already know that. Without the Symbol of Peace in Japan, his empire would surely seize its chance. They would launch an all out attack and attempt to crush the hero society once and for all. Without you in Japan, a civil war would certainly break out. I already know that the only way to save my family is to go back to him.”

“C, don’t do this! There must be some other way!”

“Toshinori, I’ve thought for a long time about this already. This is the only solution. I’ve already come to terms with it.”

“I’ve heard that All for One has a new mind control quirk now, stronger than the one he used on you before,” All Might warned. “It takes some time for that quirk’s powers to take full effect and he can only use it on one person, but if you go to him, you’re walking straight into being controlled again.”

“He’ll kill my family if I don’t go with him,” the father sighed. “I’ll do whatever I can to save them, even if it means this.”

There was a pause as All Might thought in horror of what was to come.

“I just have three requests,” the father said, breaking the silence. “The first one is for the safety of those two. Please protect Misaki and [First] and help them if ever needed.”

“That goes without saying,” All Might replied. “They’re my beloved little sister and niece, after all.”

“The second one is, if you ever meet [First], please don’t tell her about this. The kid wants to be a hero. If she learns that a villain is controlling me, she’ll surely try to look for me in the future and put her own life in danger. Please promise me that she doesn’t learn about this, for her sake.”

“Are you saying that you’d prefer if she never knows about this, about how much you’re sacrificing for her safety?”

“Please,” the father said. “It’s better this way. Promise me you’ll never tell her.”

“Ok. I promise you.”

“Thank you,” the father said, voice full of gratitude. “My third request is … Next time you see me, I’ll be just a puppet again. If we fight, please kill me without hesitation. It’ll be more merciful that way.”

“Alright,” All Might agreed solemnly. “I’m sorry that it has to be this way.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault.”

“C, I realize that I have misjudged you in the beginning,” All Might said genuinely. “In the end, you really are a good man.”

“Such flattering words from the Number One hero. I’m honoured.”

The phone call ended just as there was a jingle of keys outside the front door. A moment after the door creaked open, his little daughter ran into the kitchen and barreled herself into him, wrapping her small arms around his leg.

“Daddy, guess what?! Guess what?!” she shouted in absolute exhilaration as she held onto his leg. “I have my quirk now! Look what I can do!”

She pulled away from him, bouncing on the balls of her feet, and showed him a small daisy that she had picked up on the way home. She held it by its green stem, and the daisy’s petals fluttered by themselves, repeatedly closing and opening around the yellow middle.

“It’s the same as your quirk!” she exclaimed. “I can be a super strong hero when I grow up and I can protect both you and Mommy!”

Little you stopped bouncing on her feet when she noticed his expression.

“Daddy,” she lightly said. The flower drooped in her grip as the hand holding it fell to her side. “Why are you crying?”

The father fell to his knees and scooped her up in a tight hug. She could feel him shaking against her. The mother entered the kitchen as well, leaning on the counter as she watched this rather strange moment.

“Don’t worry, [First] dear,” he said. “It’s because I’m so happy for you. Congratulations.”

That simple explanation was enough for the four year old, but Misaki raised her eyebrows. Even though she sensed this obvious lie, she didn’t ask him about it as she set the table. She made no mention as they ate their dinner together. Only after she had tucked little you into bed, only after she had waited for the girl to be sound asleep did Misaki ask him, and he told her everything that had happened. As the two of them sat on their bed, as he held her hand, he explained to her just as he did to her brother that the only solution was for him to leave. Like he asked All Might, he asked her as well to keep this a secret from their daughter for the girl’s safety. Then he told her to take their daughter and move to another part of the country, in order to stay safe for another few years.

Neither of them slept that night. After the two of them finished packing his clothes into a small suitcase and clicked it shut, they spent the rest of the night clinging onto each other. They simply hugged each other as tightly as humanly possible, just like that night when she had freed him from the villain’s control. They clung onto each other until the birds started to chirp outside, and the first rays of the morning sun shined through the large window.

And this time, it truly was the beginning of the end for the father.

“It’s dawn,” she faintly said.

“Yes, it is. He’s waiting for me outside,” he said, reluctantly pulling himself away from her warmth. He picked up his suitcase and headed out towards the front door, with her trailing behind him.

As he put his hand on the doorknob, he turned back to face her one last time.

“I’m sorry it had to end this way,” he said as he looked into her watery eyes.

Before she could reply, the two of them heard a click of a door open, and light footsteps pitter pattering against the wooden floor.

“Mommy, Daddy, I had a sad dream,” the little girl murmured, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with her fist.

“[First] dear, please go back to bed,” her mother said, voice almost cracking.

“In my dream, there was a pretty butterfly,” the little girl continued softly. “I saw it fly to the flowers. I chased it, but … ”

“[First] dear, please go back to bed,” her mother repeated, almost pleadingly.

“But it got stuck in a spider web,” the girl finished.

At the sight of his little girl, the father felt his chest tighten and his throat close shut. When the girl was finished rubbing away the sleep, those large and innocent bright eyes, identical to her mother’s, locked onto his. Right away, the father broke the eye contact, opening the door and slamming it shut behind him. He knew that, had she continued to stare at him like that, he wouldn’t be able to take another step out that door. He knew that, had he looked any more at the two of them, he wouldn’t have the strength to will himself to leave them.

He pressed on forward, away from the home in which he had lived for the past four years. Sure enough, his old Teacher was waiting for him at the end of the driveway.

“Very good, my Lieutenant,” All for One said. “Welcome back.”

And the two of them journeyed off, towards the sunrise.

The final scene ended as the memories had finished telling their story, and fifteen year old you woke up in the comfortable hospital bed, staring at the ceiling as your mind spun, as if suspended in a whirlpool of thoughts.

Chapter Text

You woke up in the comfortable hospital bed, staring at the ceiling as your mind spun, as if suspended in a whirlpool of thoughts and the ghosts of your father’s memories.

You sat up, and the springy mattress shifted under your weight. You were back from the depths of your mind. You were back in reality.

Your phone buzzed from the nightstand beside you. On the night of the kidnapping, after you and Bakugo had been taken, Todoroki had found your phone lying on the ground at the forest camp. It must have fallen out of your back pocket sometime that night. He had brought it with him on the [Last]-Bakugo rescue mission and he had given it back to you before you and Bakugo were taken in by the police.

You picked it up, and the first thing you saw was the clock, which showed that it was only a little bit past three in the afternoon. You recalled that All Might had defeated All for One at the crack of dawn, and you worked out that the years worth of memories playing inside your mind had only taken a few hours of real time.

The second thing you saw on your screen was the mountain of messages waiting for you. You scrolled through them, barely even reading them.

From Uraraka: [First], Deku told me you’re with the police now

Please tell me if you’re alright or not

You don’t have to tell me what happened or anything if you don’t want to

But I’m worried about you

I’ve been worried about you ever since that night at the training camp

You’re my best friend

Please let me know if you need anything, and I’ll be there <3

From Iida: [Last], I am glad that you are physically safe now, after the police took you in, but I am concerned about your emotional state. Please do not feel obliged to tell me what happened over the past few days, but please know that you are not alone. I am here to listen if you need a friend in whom to confide.

From Midoriya: [Last], I am so sorry for everything that had happened

If only I was stronger, I could have saved you and Kacchan that night at the training camp

Because of my weaknesses, you suffered so much

Sorry, that was inappropriate of me to say

I’m probably annoying you with these messages… I should let you rest

Please take care

And please know that if you ever need someone to talk to, or if you need anything at all, I’m here for you.

The messages went on and on, flooding your phone. It appeared that everyone in the class had sent you a message with something among the lines of Get well soon, or We’re here for you if you need us. Heck, even Bakugo had texted you a Hey, are you alright?.

Instead of replying to them all individually, you opened the class group chat and sent a simple message.

Thank you all for worrying about me, but I’m fine.

You appreciated all of their concerns, but you didn’t want to speak much to anyone right now.

“Miss [First] [Last]?” a female voice called out, and you found a nurse standing at the doorway. “Your uncle would like to see you. Do you need help walking?”

“I’ll be fine,” you answered, tossing the bed sheets off yourself. You swung your feet over the bed and stood up.

“Follow me please,” the nurse said, giving you a kind smile, and she led the way as you followed silently behind her. The doors of other hospital rooms went by, one by one as you passed them.

“Did you sleep well?” the nurse asked, her voice light and friendly, trying to make small talk.

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m glad that you were able to rest well,” the nurse said. “Even though you don’t seem to be physically injured, the doctors still wanted to make sure that you got some rest before you go home, and that’s why they kept you in the hospital.”

“Yes.”

“Your uncle really is something, isn’t he?” the nurse continued, and this time, there was a slight fangirling tint in her voice. “I saw the entire fight on TV. I cried when he used the United States of Smash and landed that amazing hit on that villain and knocked him out! I truly am honoured that I got to meet him today, when he came to this hospital! He is truly our saviour! He is truly the Symbol of Peace, isn’t he?”

“Yes,” you responded, barely paying attention.

“Well, here we are!” the nurse excitedly said as the two of you stopped in front of a door. The nurse slid the door open, and you saw your uncle resting in the hospital bed, heavily bandaged but awake.

“[First],” he breathed out as soon as he caught sight of you. He raised his bandaged hands and held them out to you, beckoning you over to him. You made your way to the edge of his bed and took his outstretched hands in yours.

The nurse closed the door of the room, leaving you two your privacy. Outside the window, birds were chirping. Butterflies fluttered playfully around the neat fields and green lawns of the hospital. Sitting on his bed, your uncle looked up at you, and his facial expression showed a sense of wonder and astonishment, as if some part of him still couldn’t believe that the two of you were alive.

“Your hands used to be so tiny, all those years ago,” he noted nostalgically.

“All Might.” Your voice was monotone, and your face was emotionless as you addressed him.

You saw him gulp, and he gave your hands a light squeeze.

“Nine years ago, you saved me from that alleyway,” you continued quietly. “You held my hand in yours. You took me in and raised me like I was your own daughter. You were like a father to me.”

“[First] … ”

“So why did you never tell me? Why did you keep One for All a secret from me? Why did you keep All Might a secret from me?”

“I have a lot to explain, don’t I?” he sighed in defeat, looking down, almost bowing his head in shame.

“Please tell me the truth,” you said. Once again, he squeezed your hands, doing his best to reassure you that he was here before he started to speak again.

“All for One has been my worst nemesis for decades,” he began. “In my youth, when I was still training to become a hero, I had a teacher. She was the previous holder of One for All. She taught me everything I know. Because she was a great hero, many villains hated her. She had a husband, and one day, villains wanted to get revenge on her. They decided that they could truly hurt her and make her suffer by targeting those she loved, so they attacked her husband and killed him. The path of the hero is always a dangerous one, especially to those closest to the hero, those that the hero holds dearest.”

“I understand,” you muttered. “That’s also why you passed One for All to someone else, right? That’s why you passed it to Midoriya.”

“Did All for One tell you that too?” he asked sadly.

“No, I figured it out,” you answered. “Todoroki almost figured it out too. A lot of people have noticed that his quirk is similar to yours. I won’t tell anyone, so don’t worry. I know that telling others would cause trouble for Midoriya.”

All Might nodded.

“[First], I didn’t want to put you in danger,” All Might said as he looked up at you again, and his voice shook a bit as he went on. “ Especially with All for One as my worst enemy. That man, who always toys with people, who breaks them and steals from them. Who takes advantage of people and controls them. Who looks down on people just trying to live their lives… I couldn’t possibly put you in danger like that. I could never live with myself if you met the same fate as my teacher’s husband.”

“I understand,” you said quietly.

“[First] … ” All Might began to say, but his words seemed to have trouble coming out as you waited for him to continue. He swallowed, squeezing your hands in his before he began talking again. “My friend came by earlier. You remember Detective Tsukauchi, right? He was the one who escorted you to the hospital. He told me everything you told him at the police department. You remember what you told him, right?”

“Yes. I told him everything that had happened at the villain hideout.”

“[First], I … ” When All Might spoke next, his voice cracked, and his blue eyes filled with tears. “I am so sorry. You experienced such pain … such suffering … I’ve failed my duties as both a hero and an uncle.”

“Uncle, don’t say that,” you tried.

“I didn’t tell you about All Might because I thought you would be safest that way,” he said, voice trembling with remorse. “But I thought wrong. I couldn’t bear to see you get hurt, but you still did. All for One still targeted you, and he captured you, and … ”

He paused here to bury his face into his elbow, wiping his face on his sleeve.

“I’m fine now, Uncle,” you said quickly, not wanting your uncle to cry, but the emptiness in your voice was so evident that your fake words did little to comfort the silently weeping man in front of you.

“[First] … I am so sorry … ” he croaked into his elbow.

“It’s ok Uncle, we’re still alive,” you tried again, but your words still rang with an odd hollowness, a sort of lifeless flatness that you couldn’t seem to rid, no matter what.

Your uncle’s face remained hidden in his elbow as his shoulders shook with his sobs. You swallowed before you spoke up again, deciding to change the subject into one that wouldn’t make your uncle cry.

“I’ve inherited all of my father’s memories,” you said. “My father used Vector Control to give me his memories. Right before he died, he touched my forehead. He must have adjusted some of the neurons in my brain to transfer the memories to me.”

You put one of your hands on his shoulder. Your uncle inhaled deeply, doing his best to quiet his sobs and regain his composure as you waited.

“Uncle, he made you promise not to tell me about his sacrifice. Am I right?”

Face still buried in his elbow, All Might moved his head in a nod.

“Father didn’t want to go, but he was forced to go back to the villain side. He didn’t want to leave my mother and me at all. Am I right?”

All Might raised his head to look at you. His watery eyes stared into yours, which seemed to have darkened a shade from your usual bright hues. He gave you another nod. Your eyelids lowered.

“I see,” you murmured.

Just then, there was a knock on the door before it slid open, revealing a doctor in a white coat holding a clipboard, stethoscope hanging around his neck. Standing beside him was Detective Tsukauchi, holding what appeared to be the bag that you had packed for the school field trip.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, but All Might needs plenty of rest,” the doctor said, his voice kind. “I’ll also need to do the hourly inspection to make sure that everything’s fine, so I’ll have to ask Miss [Last] to leave.”

“No worries,” you replied, that same odd emptiness from before ringing in your words. “I’ll go back to my room.”

“Actually Miss [Last], you’re free to go home now,” the detective spoke up. “The doctors have deemed you fit to be discharged, but you’re still welcome to stay and rest if you want.”

“I would like to go home, please,” you said quietly.

“Yes, we can go right now if you want,” the detective continued. “But I will have to accompany you to make sure you stay safe on the way home.”

“I don’t mind. Let’s go.” You didn’t want to be here anymore. You didn’t want to be near anyone anymore. You wanted to be alone, and you desired the solitude that your apartment offered you.

You glanced at your uncle, who had finished swabbing away at his face with his sleeve.

“See you, [First],” he said as he once again looked up at you. And he gave you a sad little smile. A smile filled with nostalgia and sorrow for the simpler days gone by. A smile that you did not return.

“Get better soon, Uncle,” you whispered, giving his hand a final squeeze before letting go and following Detective Tsukauchi out of the door.

You followed the detective as he led you to the reception desk and completed the necessary paperwork to sign you out. You two left the hospital, walked towards the train station, and caught the first train that went to your destination. The detective attempted a few times to pick up light conversation with you, but eventually became discouraged when you would simply give one word replies while staring out the window.

You didn’t want to talk right now. You just wanted to be alone.

You felt your phone buzz in your pocket. You pulled it out, and paused when you saw the name displayed on your screen.

From Todoroki: Hey, when do you get home?

Just that single text from him, which was a bit strange. But then again, Todoroki himself was a bit strange to begin with. You tapped back a message. I’m on the train right now. I should be home in an hour. Why do you ask?

You waited, but no reply came throughout the entire train ride. When the train came to a stop at the station closest to UA, you got off wordlessly as Detective Tsukauchi accompanied you, and the two of you walked toward the large apartment building at the end of the street.

“Alright, I’ll see you enter the apartment building, then I’ll be off,” the detective said. You had arrived at the small garden by the entrance of the apartment building.

“Thank you for escorting me,” you said quietly.

He handed to you the bag of belongings that he had been carrying for you.

“This is what you left at the training camp. Everything should be in there,” he explained.

“Thank you,” you said again as you opened it and fished around the inside for your keycard.

“Please take care,” the detective told you, voice genuine.

“I will.” Your tone still rang with the same emptiness from before. You pulled out your keycard. “Thank you for everything.”

You gave him a bow and a farewell wave out of politeness. The doors swung open when you tapped your card against the scanner. Head lowered, you made your way through the lobby, and rode the elevator up to the fifteenth floor.

When the doors of the elevator dinged open and you stepped out, your eyes widened slightly as you saw that someone was already waiting at the door of your apartment for you. There, completely unexpectedly, standing beside your door was Todoroki.

For a few seconds, you stayed frozen, just staring at him as he looked back at you. Seeing him here surprised you enough that you seemed to forget that you wanted to be alone.

“How did you get in?” you asked weakly. “The front doors are locked and you need a keycard to get in.”

“I stood at the front for a few minutes until an elderly woman came,” he answered. “She had been watering the flowers in the garden by the entrance, and she asked me if I was visiting someone.”

“So she just let you in?”

“She told me that I looked like a good boy, so she opened the doors for me,” he said with a shrug.

If this had happened a few days ago, you would have commented humorously on how easily the woman trusted Todoroki. You would have joked to Todoroki that this was one of the many perks of being a pretty boy.

But right now, you couldn’t even bring yourself to smile.

“How did you get here?” you breathed. “What are you doing here?”

“Uraraka told me which floor and what room number you were, so I came to give you these,” he explained with a completely straight face. He gave a nod at the things in his arms, and only then did you look closer at what he was holding. Clutched in his right hand was a colourful bouquet of assorted flowers. His left hand was holding the Reggie the Teddy Bear plush that you had been eyeing a few days before.

When you remained silent, Todoroki spoke up again. “I remember you wanted the bear toy, that day when the class went shopping together.”

“You didn’t have to,” you muttered, lowering your head again as you stepped around him, unlocked your door and opened it.

“I don’t mind, since it’s for you,” he replied simply.

If he had said that a few days ago, you would be gushing from how sweet he was. But now, all you felt was that you were incredibly undeserving of everything he was doing for you.

“You can come in if you want,” you muttered to him as you stepped into your apartment. He followed after you, closing the door behind him with his elbow and the two of you slipped your shoes off beside the door. You set your bag on the ground, leaning it against the wall.

“I’ll make some tea,” you said as you headed to the kitchen with him following you.

“Do you have a vase?” Todoroki asked, temporarily setting the flowers and bear on the kitchen table.

“In the cabinet beside you,” you told him. Your body was numb, and you seemed to be slightly on autopilot as you pulled the electric kettle toward you, filled it with water, and flipped the switch to turn it on.

“I didn’t know which flowers you liked, so I bought a bunch of them,” he said. After he filled the vase with water, he set it on the table and arranged the bouquet in it.

“They’re pretty,” you commented, but you remained staring at the kettle, with the same vacant, expressionless expression shadowing your face. And of course, Todoroki noticed.

“Hey, uh, would you like to talk about it?” he asked a bit awkwardly. As he continued, he was reminded of the night when he had walked you home, after the shopping mall incident. “Maybe you’ll feel better after talking about what’s on your mind?”

“I don’t know anymore … ” you whispered, your back facing him. “Nothing has changed.”

A pause. He waited for you to elaborate. The electric kettle screeched for a few seconds before it automatically shut off, but you remained staring vacantly at your hands, which were resting on the counter in front of you.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

But you simply shook your head.

“[First], you were the one who helped me, all those months ago. Please let me try to help you now,” he tried again as he approached you, covering your hand with his and giving it a light squeeze.

“Nothing has changed … ” you said again, and your voice wavered this time. You finally lifted your head, looking at him in the eyes, and he froze when he saw the new expression on your face, the expression that you had been trying hard to hold back during the past few hours.

Your face showed him so much pain. Your eyes were flat and empty, the usual blazing bright fire having burned out. Your pain seemed beyond words. Beyond sorrow. Beyond grief and despair. Beyond anything describable.

“I learned 9 years ago that, with the way the world is, those with strength dominate those without it,” you said, so quietly that Todoroki almost had to strain to hear you. You went on, eyes wide.

“I had hoped that, maybe if I was strong, then I wouldn't suffer anymore, and I wouldn't have to lose my loved ones anymore. So I worked myself, day and night to get stronger. A few times, I pushed myself so hard that I coughed up blood and passed out. I thought that everything would be alright if only I was strong.

“But I was wrong. Nothing has changed. I'm still the same weak and stupid kid I was 9 years ago,” you croaked as your expression was so hopelessly broken. “Back then, my mother died because of me, and now my father died because of me. It's all happening all over again. Nothing has changed.”

Just as Todoroki opened his mouth to respond, you pulled your hand out of his grasp.

“I’ll make the tea,” you whispered, grabbing a teacup off the drying rack. You poured the hot water into it, then opened a drawer and pulled a container out of it.

“[First],” he called out to you, but you didn’t answer for the next few seconds as you flipped the lid off the container to reveal a bunch of tea bags neatly stacked in it. You picked a tea bag out of it and set it in the cup that you were holding.

“[First] [Last],” you said faintly, the teacup rattling in your shaking hands. “Graduated top of my middle school grade. Admitted into UA through recommendations. Passed the entrance exam for the recommended with flying colours. Now currently training to be a hero. But what good is it … ?”

“Hey … ” Todoroki murmured in worry.

“WHAT GOOD IS ANY OF IT IF I STILL CAN’T SAVE ANYONE?!” you screamed so hard that you felt like your throat was going to rip. You didn’t mean for it to happen, but the teacup in your grip spontaneously shattered, spilling the hot liquid all over your left hand.

At once, Todoroki was by your side, wrapping his fingers lightly around your wrist and guiding you to the sink. He opened the tap, and held your burned hand under the water flow.

“Where is the first aid kit?” he asked you calmly.

“On the shelf, in the bathroom,” you muttered, avoiding his eye.

“Keep your hand under the water while I get the kit.”

He disappeared for a few seconds, and returned with the kit and stayed quietly beside you as the cool water soothed the irritated skin on your hand. After a few minutes, he shut the tap off. Delicately, he wrapped a hand around your shoulder and guided you to your living room, and helped you sit down on your couch.

He sat himself beside you, setting the kit down on the coffee table beside the couch. He clicked it open and took out a wad of white bandages.

“May I see your hand?” he asked, and he was pleased when you obediently placed your red left hand into his palm. He quickly set to work.

“You see, it’s my hand crusher curse again,” he said, half jokingly as he carefully wound the bandages around your red fingers. “Every time I get involved with someone, I mess up their hand.”

He recalled that you had been amused when he first contemplated his hand crusher curse. You had smiled brightly, that day at the Hosu hospital after the students had fought the hero killer Stain. He wanted so much to see you smile again, but when he glanced up from his work on your hand, he saw that your face once again remained expressionless.

“It should be alright,” he said as he finished wrapping your hand. “Luckily, the tea wasn’t boiling hot, so I don’t think it’ll scar. Does it hurt?”

“It doesn’t hurt,” you replied, but again, your words were with a static dullness. A little thing like this can hardly hurt me now.

“[First], I apologize for possibly bringing up unpleasant memories,” Todoroki began cautiously, trying his best to choose his words carefully as he took both your hands in his. The last thing he wanted was to hurt you any more than you were already hurting. “But what happened during the last few days? Would it be ok if you tell me?”

Slowly, you nodded. You inhaled deeply before you looked at him with your sorrowful eyes.

“A lot happened,” you said. “After I was captured, they took me to the villain hideout and restrained me. Someone named Dabi injected me with a drug and I couldn’t use my quirk anymore. Then I met All for One.”

“All for One,” Todoroki repeated after you, as he absentmindedly traced his thumb over the bandages on your hand. “The villain that All Might just defeated?”

“Yeah,” you confirmed. “He told me he wanted my quirk, and the only way for him to get my quirk was for me to give in to Awakening.”

“Awakening is the other power inside you, right?” Todoroki recalled what you had told him before, when you had first opened up to him on the walk to your apartment.

“All for One left me alone with his underling, the Entertainer, and All for One told him … to break me … and he ...” Right here, you felt Todoroki’s grip on your hand tighten.

“Entertainer? I’ll kill him,” Todoroki growled with such a ferocious tone that you were slightly taken aback. You had never heard him that angry before, but you simply shook your head.

“Entertainer is already dead,” you responded. “My father killed him. My father freed me and tried to escape with me, and fought against All for One for me.”

“Yes, I saw his battle with the other villain at the ruins of the Nomu warehouse,” Todoroki said. “But wasn’t your father the one who had captured you at the forest camp?”

“He gave me his memories, and died while protecting me,” you said. “I saw all of them and experienced all of them as he had experienced them. Briefly, it was as if my heart and his were one, and I experienced all of the emptiness, happiness, and sorrow he had experienced.

“He didn’t want to leave me at all. He only returned to All for One’s control in order to protect me, and he made my mother and my uncle swear to not tell me. All for One had been mind controlling him ever since. Only yesterday, he finally broke out of it. And he saved me. And died protecting me.”

You took another deep breath, steadying yourself before you continued.

“When I first started at UA, I wanted to become a hero mainly because I wanted to get revenge on him. I had thought that he was simply a villain who had used my mother and me, and I hated him with all my heart.

“Perhaps I was just using it to distract myself from my failures, that night nine years ago in the alleyway. Perhaps I was using it to distract myself from how I wasn’t strong enough to fight back against the Woman in Black, or to stop the Awakening. So I blamed him. For all my failures. I needed something to blame. Something to hate. So I blamed and hated him.”

A pause. You swallowed, closing your eyes for a few moments before opening them again, focusing your sad, sad gaze into his own.

“In his last moments, as he protected me from the hit that would have ended my life, he said that I was his little Princess,” you muttered, lip trembling.

“Then he must have truly loved you,” Todoroki said quietly. “Even until the bitter end.”

And that was it. A crack appears in the restraint that you had used to encase your emotions. Your eyes prickled as tears welled up and gently spilled out.

You broke away from the eye contact, now glaring at a spot on the side, trying to hide your wet eyes from him as shame and frustration swelled up inside of you. You were supposed to be strong. You had spent the past nine years training yourself to be strong, and yet here you were… crying in front of Todoroki again.

What a disgrace, you scorned at yourself in self hatred and humiliation, gritting your teeth. How pathetic.

You shut your eyes tightly, teeth digging into your bottom lip, trying furiously to bite back your tears, and still, more squeezed through between your closed eyelids. You could feel Todoroki watching you, and you wanted desperately to hide, to disappear. He didn’t need to see this. He didn’t need to see how absolutely disgusting and weak and hideous you were.

And suddenly, you felt the lightest feather like touch on your cheek. Curiously and cautiously, you opened your eyes, and saw that Todoroki had lifted his hand to your face, delicately wiping at your tears with his thumb. Above all, you noticed that he wore such an expression on his face. An expression that showed nothing but affection and adoration as he looked at you.

Just like that, the emotional hurricane inside of you broke through, crashing through any restraint that you could have possibly possessed, breaking it into tiny pieces. You threw your arms around him, your head in his shoulder, and you let out a wail, desperately clinging onto him.

His arms wrapped around you, their strength and warmth holding your pieces together as the knot around your heart unraveled and you shattered from the inside out. Wails and cries violently escaped your lips as the dam holding back your grief crumbled to nothingness. You let yourself become undone in his arms. Broken. Cracked. Shakened. And he accepted you just the way you were, set to stay by your side in your time of need. His grasp only tightened around you as you cried your broken, shattered heart out. His fingers gently and tenderly ran through your hair. His palm softly and delicately rubbed your back as he whispered words of comfort in your ear.

That night, the two of you stayed in that position. For how long? Who knows? He held you, keeping your pieces together as you broke apart and cried yourself out. Eventually, gradually, your sobs turned into small hiccups, which softened into faint sniffles. And finally, even the faint sniffles stopped, but your hands still clung onto his shirt, and your head remained tucked in the crook of his neck.

“[First]?” Todoroki whispered into her ear after a while, gently nudging her. “[First]?”

No response. He loosened his grip on you, slowly pulling you back so he could look at you. With the back of your head now resting against his bicep, he saw that your eyelids were closed, your eyelashes wet with the dew of your tears as you softly breathed through your nose. Todoroki confirmed his suspicions. You had cried yourself to sleep.

Todoroki felt glad that at least you could get some rest now. Getting rest would certainly help you heal, and he decided that he’d do his best to take care of you. He concluded that he also should stay the night, in case you woke up and tried to do something stupid. He uncurled your hands from his shirt, and hooked his other arm under your knees, taking care to be as gentle as possible as he lifted you off the couch, carrying you like how a prince would carry a princess in your childhood picture books.

He took you to the bedroom and set you down onto your bed. He rested your head against a pillow, pulled the covers over you, and slowly brushed your bangs out of your face. His fingers grazed against your forehead, against your cheek. He rested his palm against your soft skin, his thumb against the edge of your lips. His gaze, tender as ever, watched you, confirming to himself that you were ok as he put you to bed.

He stayed like that for quite some time, sitting on your bed beside you, basking in the warmth that your presence alone made him feel. His heart was squeezing and pounding so much. He wondered how one person could feel so much, all at the same time.

“Goodnight,” he whispered, but he found that he didn’t have the heart to leave you. He stayed right beside you, listening to your steady breathing. His thumb started to brush against your bottom lip in gentle strokes. His other hand found its way to yours, the unwounded one, and he intertwined your fingers, noticing how your small hand fit snugly against his larger one.

Almost in a daze, he brought your hand up as he leaned towards it. With your fingers still intertwined, he rested his cheek against the back of your palm, and quietly breathed out. Your skin was so soft. He breathed in, and your sweet scent filled his lungs.

He couldn’t help himself. He brushed his lips against the back of your hand. His heart was racing. He did it again. He didn’t know if this was his imagination or not, but he felt the feelings coursing inside himself almost purr in approval. He did it again, brushing his lips against your hand, and pressing a soft kiss against your skin this time.

His gaze fell onto your lips, against which his thumb was still resting, and a thrilling idea sprouted in his mind.

He lowered your hand back onto your bed, keeping your fingers still intertwined with his, as he slowly leaned towards you, his half lidded eyes locked onto your lips. His chest tightened, constricted, almost suffocated with all the emotions he felt for you. Subconsciously, his hand tightened against yours, as if holding on for dear life. In this moment, it was as if he were entranced, as he acted on the desire burning in his chest as he leaned in closer, and even closer.

His forehead lightly leaned on yours, his nose nudged against yours, and his long eyelashes swept against yours as he closed his half lidded eyes and his mind fogged up with thoughts of how sweet your lips would taste and how soft they would feel against his own.

“Please...” he heard beneath him, your lips so close that they almost, almost brushed against his as you spoke. Your voice was just a murmur. He leaned in closer…

“Don’t.” This word from you was clear. He stopped in his tracks, and his eyes flew open as that one word snapped him out of his imagination and the reason side of his mind took control once again. Horrified at his actions, Todoroki quickly pulled back, away from you as feelings of self disgust flowed through him. He mentally scolded himself. How could he be so selfish and only think about himself, when you needed him right now? How could he take advantage of you like this, especially after you had gone through so much trauma over the past few days?

You were evidently still asleep, but your sleeptalks have certainly woken him from his inappropriate thoughts. He noticed that your brows were furrowed as a tear squeezed through your closed eyelids. Before it could roll down your cheek, he wiped it away with his thumb, and then rested his palm softly against your cheek. His heart ached for you. How could he even think about romance when you were still suffering like this? You were much too important to him, and the last thing he wanted was to force himself onto you. He pushed his passionate feelings for you down, as now was not the time for them. Now was the time to look after you and take care of you.

Like before, he once again brushed away your bangs that had fallen against your face, but this time he kept his feelings in check. He leaned towards you once again. His heart panged against his chest, but he contented himself with a kiss on your forehead.

“Goodnight,” he told you again, before he got up, walked out of your bedroom, and closed the door behind him to ensure that he wouldn’t be tempted to do anything else that night.

After he cleaned up the broken cup and mopped up the spilled tea in the kitchen, Todoroki plopped himself onto the couch in the living room. Meanwhile, fast asleep in your bed, you once again began mumbling. You tossed and turned, eyebrows creased as your lips moved, finishing the sentence that you had tried to say before.

“Please don’t leave me.”

Chapter Text

Breathe in. When you regained consciousness and turned over to your side, you felt the soft mattress of your bed shift under you. Hmm, that was strange. You didn’t remember climbing into bed last night.

Breathe out. The window beside you was open, and you could feel a pleasant breeze brush against your cheeks.

Breathe in again. You could hear the birds chirping happily outside. Your left hand was also stinging a bit and felt like it was wrapped in something. You really didn’t remember much of last night. You could also taste your morning breath.

Groggily, you blinked open your eyes and did your best to rub the sleep out of them. You sat up, pushing the covers off yourself. You examined your left hand, and found it covered in white bandages. What on earth happened last night? Deciding that your morning breath wouldn’t go away by itself, you swung your legs off the bed, got up, and made a beeline to the bathroom.

You took one look in the mirror and confirmed that you looked like a mess. You breathed out quietly, then took a few minutes in the bathroom to make yourself look and feel somewhat presentable. You brushed your teeth and used your washcloth to scrub your face. But no matter what you did to freshen yourself up, your eyes stayed red and puffy, and the bags under them were so large and swollen that it looked like a bee had stung the skin there.

As soon as you exited the bathroom, you tensed up. Sounds were coming from the kitchen, as if someone was rummaging through pots and pans. You listened quietly, alert for any clues that would hint at who the person may be and what the person may be doing. Straining your ears, you heard what sounded like a light crack, which was then followed by sizzling sounds.

As quietly as you could, you snuck into position, lining yourself against the wall beside the kitchen entrance. You curled your (uninjured) fingers into a fist, ready to disarm the intruder and stop whatever they were doing. You breathed in, readying yourself for the attack.

“[First], I know you’re there,” a very familiar voice called out to you. Right away, the surprise of hearing his voice disarmed you, and you all but stumbled out of your hiding place and into view at the entrance of the kitchen. There he stood, one hand gripping a spatula, the other hand holding onto the handle of a pan.

“Todoroki, what are you doing here?” you yelped, but right then, you noticed the vase full of flowers on the tabletop, with Reggie the Teddy Bear sitting beside it. Right away, the events of the previous night became crystal clear to you, and your face went slightly pink.

“I stayed the night in case you woke up and decided to do something stupid,” he answered calmly, and then added, “I’m making breakfast.”

He tilted the pan to show you the contents. Two eggs were happily sizzling beside each other.

“Did you sleep alright?” he asked you as two pieces of toast popped out of the toaster.

“Todoroki, you’re doing too much work for me,” you muttered, a bit embarrassed. He gave a small sigh.

“It’s nothing,” he said, then added softly, “And remember that you can call me Shoto when we’re alone.”

“Right, I forgot, sorry about that,” you said quietly, hanging your head to avoid his eye contact.

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” he responded, and a small pause followed as he looked at you.

“I’m sorry that you had to see, uh, that yesterday … I lost myself,” you said awkwardly, wringing your hands guiltily as you stared at your feet. “I had a meltdown and you had to basically clean up after me.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” he repeated firmly to you, turning to face the stove again as he flipped the eggs over with his spatula. “You can sit down at the table. The eggs are almost ready.”

“No, I’ll help,” you said.

You took two plates off the drying rack and placed a slice of toast in each before you lay them on the table. As you set the table, the vase of flowers and the toy bear sitting there caught your eye again.

“I didn’t really thank you yesterday for coming here, did I?” you asked.

You recognized the bear as the one you had fawned over, back when Class A went to the shopping mall. Some things never change, and even now, you felt yourself warm in contentment as you brought Reggie into your arms, just like how you felt nine years ago when your uncle introduced you to Reggie for the first time. After all these years, you still found the toy bear adorable, with his signature blue overalls and little red hat that covered one ear and his shiny, black button eyes. You raised the bear up, held the bear to your chest, and half buried your face into the fuzziness of his head, which tickled your cheek a bit.

“You don’t need to thank me,” Todoroki replied simply, watching you fondly from the corner of his eye. As he looked at you, he couldn’t help but sigh. Despite your red eyes and the dark purple bags under them, you were still so breathtakingly beautiful to him. You held the bear close to yourself, and it felt like his stomach did a backflip when he saw the corner of your mouth raise slightly.

He didn’t tell you this, but seeing you smile again after so long was enough to make his day.

“What time is it? I hope I didn’t sleep in too late,” you said as you parted with the bear and set it down onto the kitchen counter.

“It’s two in the afternoon, but I didn’t want to wake you up because you needed your rest,” he replied, and then said, “You still look pretty tired.”

“Is that just the nice way of telling me I look like a mess?” you asked, smiling as you pulled the vase of flowers towards yourself.

“Yes, it is,” he replied jokingly, watching you lovingly as you picked a daisy out of the collection. As you held the stem of the flower, the petals started moving by themselves.

“You know, I still don’t know what your favourite flower is,” he commented as he turned off the stove. He carried the pan of eggs over to the table, and carefully flipped them onto the plates.

“Daisies… ” you said quietly. The flower’s white petals opened and closed, dancing around the golden middle. “They remind me of when I first developed my quirk. My mother was so happy when I made the daisy move for her.”

“I’ll keep that in mind the next time I get you flowers,” Todoroki said as he placed the pan and spatula into the sink. You dropped the daisy back into the vase, and the two of you sat down at the table.

“Thanks for making breakfast,” you said as you picked up your fork and carefully slid the egg onto your slice of toast before you took a bite. “But can we still call it breakfast if we’re eating it at two in the afternoon?”

“We can call it lunch or afternoon snack if you want,” he said after he swallowed a mouthful of toast, and then asked, “How are you feeling?”

You swallowed as well and began to think about your answer. It was undeniable that yesterday, when you had your mental breakdown and cried into Todoroki’s shoulder, was your lowest point. But now, you found that you didn’t feel nearly as horrible as you did yesterday.

“I’m fine,” you answered, and when you said those words this time, there was no odd emptiness that rang within your voice.

“Good.” Todoroki, who was studying your face as you replied to him, gave an approving nod when he detected no lies.

“You said you stayed the night, right?”

“Yes, and I used one of your new toothbrushes since mine is at home. I hope you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all. Thanks for being there for me yesterday,” you said genuinely.

“You don’t need to thank me,” he repeated.

A comfortable silence fell, and the two of you finished the breakfast/lunch/afternoon snack. Without the need for words, you both got up, headed towards the sink, and washed the dishes together. While Todoroki ran the soapy sponge across each item, you rinsed every dish and lined them up on the drying rack.

“Would you like to sit down?” Todoroki asked once you two were done.

“Sure,” you said. You turned around and put a hand on the back of the nearest chair, about to pull it out. You were a bit confused that Todoroki would ask you such a strange question. Before you could pull the chair towards you, Todoroki rested a warm hand over your own, stopping your actions.

“I meant together … on the couch … ”

Oh. He meant together, you thought. Slowly, a bit shyly, you nodded your head, and you saw the corner of his mouth raise slightly in a small smile. He took your hand and led you over to the couch. After he sat down and sank into the cushions, he gently pulled on your hand, asking you wordlessly if you would like to join him. Slightly pink now, you nodded again, and you let yourself be taken into his arms as you wrapped yours around him as well.

“Thank you,” you said again, tucking your face into his shoulder. “Thank you for yesterday. As much as I wanted to be alone last night, what I really needed was someone to be there with me as I … ” you cleared your throat, “ … cried and lost myself. And you gave me that. You were there for me and held me as I broke down. Thank you.”

“[First], I told you already that you don’t need to thank me,” he reminded you gently.

“If I were to describe it, I’d say your presence kept me anchored and gave me a solid foundation to rebuild myself. I have found myself again,” you said, words from the bottom of your heart. “Thank you for being there with me as all this happened.”

“For your sake, I’d do anything,” he said, offering his own heartfelt words in response, making you turn even more pink.

Just like yesterday, the two of you stayed holding each other on the couch. Resting your head against his shoulder, you breathed in his scent, relaxing in his presence that soothed you and made you feel secure. Soon, it was getting harder and harder to keep your eyelids open after each blink, and you stifled a yawn.

“Hey, are you tired?” he asked, nudging you a bit. “Do you want to take a nap? I’ll carry you to your bed if you want.”

“Can I use you as a pillow here instead?” you asked, your voice small and sleepy as you peeked up at him through your eyelashes.

A pause. And then an “Alright.”

You pulled away briefly from him as he lay himself down, his back against the couch. You crawled over him, laying down as well. You settled your head against him, ear against his chest, listening to his powerful heartbeat. His strong arms wrapped around you, holding you to him, securing you to him. Lazily, your eyelids slowly drooped closed. Your head rose and fell slightly with every one of his inhales and exhales.

With him, time always seemed to fly.

When had you started falling for him? Was it when he had taken the time to walk you home that day? Was it when you had slightly opened up to him, after the Sports Festival when you two were going to get your medals? Was it when you realized that the two of you were the same and had suffered the same pain, back in the beginning when you were paired together?

***
You woke up in gentle comfort. You hadn’t even noticed that you fell asleep. You weren’t sure how much time had passed, but one glance through a large window told you that the sun was going to set soon. Beneath your ear, you could still hear the faint thumping of Todoroki’s heartbeat as he rested below you. His arms were still wrapped around your waist, holding you to him. You slightly lifted your head, timidly sneaking a glance up at Todoroki’s face.

You couldn’t help but softly sigh to yourself as you saw that he was asleep too. He looked so relaxed and handsome as he was resting. Taking care to not disturb him, you slowly shifted yourself up to get a better view. Your body rested in line with his, and through the thin material of your shirts, you could feel the fine muscles lining his abdomen and the ones making up his hard chest. With his eyes closed, with his chest rising and falling slowly, he looked so peaceful.

Bringing your forearms up onto the couch, one on each side of his head, you rested your weight on your elbows. Your hands found their way to his hair. As your left hand subtly tangled itself into his smooth hair, you slowly combed through his bangs with your right, and you started to explore further. Your knuckles brushed against his forehead. Your breath caught in your throat. He was so beautiful. You couldn’t fathom how you had not noticed sooner. Your gaze then fell on the mark. The red mark that he has had since his childhood, since the incident with the boiling water.

“His scar...” you whispered to yourself, your innocent curiosity and temptation telling you to run your fingers against the burn on his face.

“No, I shouldn’t,” you said, restraining yourself. You shook your head. You shouldn’t intrude on him like this, you told yourself.

Once again, you busied yourself with combing your fingers through his soft red and white hair. Everything about him was so beautiful. You sighed in contentment, admiring how his strong chest rose up and down peacefully, and how cute his nose was. And finally, your gaze trailed to his eyes, those pretty grey and aqua pools in which you could get lost forever.

Wait… his eyes are open…

You blinked as you realized. You squeaked.

“H-how long have you been awake?” you shakily whispered, blushing pink with embarrassment as you were caught red handed.

There was a pause as Todoroki stared at your face, which had flushed red with colour and looked more and more like a tomato by the second.

“It’s ok, I don’t mind,” he said, lifting his left hand. He held yours, which was trembling beside his face in your temptation earlier. “You can touch it if you want.”

With his palm resting on the back of your hand, he closed his eyes again, slowly leaning his face into your touch. You held your breath as your fingers grazed against the mark on his face. Your thumb felt against his burn with feather-like, gossamer-like touches, and you realized that the skin was smooth and soft like the rest of his face. You heard the faintest sound come from Todoroki’s throat, which reminded you of a purr that would come from a cat.

“I trust you,” he murmured, eyes closed, lips brushing against your skin as he spoke, as he leaned more and more into your touch. And then he pressed a kiss against your palm.

You felt like melting. You got off him and sat up. Todoroki leaned up with you, keeping your hand against his scar. He pressed another kiss against your palm. His eyelids slid open halfway, and he looked at you in such a way that made your mind spin as you stared back into those gorgeous eyes.

“[First],” he mumbled, and his lips felt so soft as they brushed against your skin.

Something was swirling in the pit of your stomach. A feeling that you had never felt before. A feeling that compelled you to lean toward the male in front of you and …

As you stared at him, your gaze dragged from his pretty eyes, down his beautiful face to his lips, which were still brushed up against your palm. You glanced back up into his eyes, and from the way he looked at you, it was clear that need also shined within his mismatched pair. The feeling swirling within your grew stronger, filling your body up. Strangely, you were not nervous at all, as if the feeling, the instinct within you guided you. Scarcely breathing, eyes all but closed now, you asked your question.

“Is it ok if I kiss you?”

Without him having to say it, you knew what his answer was. He gently set your palm down and intertwined your fingers as you patiently waited for him. Although you couldn’t see him through your now closed eyelids, you could feel his presence in front of you as he leaned in towards you. You felt his bangs brush against your forehead. You heard him quietly breath out and felt his nose graze gently against your own.

“[First], I love you,” he whispered. With nothing to stop you two, your lips connected with his, and warmth spread through your body like wildfire from the point of contact. He was so gentle against you as his lips cradled yours and he put all his love and care for you into the innocent kiss, stealing your breath away.

Eyes still closed, you felt him lift his hand and rest it softly against your cheek. In turn, you slowly untangled your fingers from his, and wrapped your arms around his neck, which earned you a grunt of approval from him as he looped his arm around your waist.

Wanting to get even closer to him, you clumsily inched your way forward. As your mind was all fogged up from how good his lips felt against yours and how safe you felt in his arms, you could barely even think about anything else. You lost your balance, and the two of you toppled over onto the couch, breaking your kiss momentarily.

You were laying on your back, breathing hard as your chest rose up and down. Your eyelids fluttered open, and you saw him looking at you with nothing but love and devotion and desire in his grey and aqua hues. He hovered above you, supporting his weight by resting his elbow beside your head. With your arms still hooked around his neck, you couldn’t help but pull him down, capturing him in a second kiss that was deeper than the first.

The first kiss you shared was all gentle innocence. The second kiss was all fiery heat. With your bodies pressed so tightly against the other, your lips moved so passionately and hungrily together that it was all you could do to hold on to him. You were forgetting how to breathe, and your lungs started to burn.

You broke away, gasping for air as Todoroki took the chance to move down and scatter kisses all over your neck. You squeaked when he brushed against a particularly sensitive spot on your neck, and he stopped in his tracks.

“To-Todoroki,” you gasped out as he pressed a kiss against that spot on your neck again.

“Didn’t I tell you to call me Shoto?” he asked tenderly, lips brushing against your skin as he spoke. As soon as he finished his question, his mouth wrapped around your sensitive spot, earning another gasp from you as he gave an experimental suckle.

“Sh-Shoto … ”

He continued working his hot mouth on you as you continued whispering his name, and the small sounds of thrill and excitement that escaped from your pretty lips only spurred him on. You yelped when he grazed his teeth against you, and your back arched as your arms tightened around his neck, pulling him closer to you in want.

“Shoto,” you breathed out, eyes closed, lost in your pleasure as he grazed your skin with his teeth again. Your insides felt like they were burning up, and every one of your gasps and moans only fueled the inferno inside of him.

Hot. Steamy. Intense. Sensual. A thousand adjectives could describe what Todoroki was doing to you as he sucked on your neck and used his teeth on your sensitive skin and left you as nothing but a panting mess. When his lips finally detached from your skin with a pop, you lay beneath him, gasping desperately for breath.

“Uh oh,” you heard from above yourself. You lazily cracked open an eye, peeking at Todoroki through your eyelashes. His eyebrows were furrowed, and he had a worried expression on his face as he stared at your neck.

“W-what is it?” you panted, trying hard to regain control over your breathing.

“Your neck … There’s a spot … ” he mumbled, somewhat bashfully as he got off you and sat up.

“A … spot?” you repeated after him, reaching a hand to gingerly feel the spot where his mouth had been. When you poked at it with your finger, you didn’t feel any pain. “It doesn’t hurt.”

“It doesn’t look good,” he said honestly. He got off the couch and held out a hand to you. “I think you should take a look.”

You took his hand, got off the couch, and Todoroki led you to your bathroom. The room flooded with light after he flipped the switch, and you saw clearly your reflection in the mirror.

“You’re right, it does look pretty bad,” you agreed with him as the both of you stared at your reflection.

You lifted your hand and poked the spot again, and it was weird that no pain came from it. Well, calling it a “spot” was a bit of an understatement. The mark was three times the width of your finger, and its colour completely bypassed red and was instead a deep purplish black. If an innocent child saw you right now, they’d think you were being abused.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it,” he said quietly, sounding very ashamed of himself.

“It’s nothing,” you said right away, turning away from your reflection to look at him. “I’m under house arrest anyway, so I won’t be going outside anytime soon.”

“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I lost myself in the moment. I should have been more careful.”

“It’s ok, these things are normal. These things happen when two people are dating … ” you said, pulling Todoroki into a hug to bury your blushing face into his chest. You then playfully added, “How about you make it up to me by cooking me dinner?”

“Of course,” he said, wrapping his arms around you as well.

***
After you ate your dinner together, night had fallen. You spent another few hours on the couch, just holding each other until Todoroki’s phone buzzed inside his pocket.

“[First], I’ll have to leave now,” he said after he checked his phone. “My sister wants me home soon.”

“Your sister?” you mumbled after him.

“Yeah. I’ll introduce you to her one day, but she’s getting worried right now,” he said, reluctantly pulling away from you.

He stood up from the couch and started towards the front door, with you trailing after him. He found his shoes by the front door where he had left them, and bent down to slip them on.

“Hey Shoto,” you called.

“Yeah?” After his shoes were on, he stood up to his full height again and looked at you, waiting for you to continue.

Feeling a sudden burst of confidence swell up inside yourself, you stood on your tiptoes, grabbed the collar of his shirt, and dragged him down to you as your lips touched his.

Unlike the other kisses you shared together that day, this one was short and sweet, but you still managed to convey all your gratitude and affection for him through it.

“Shoto Todoroki,” you said after you parted, bright fire blazing behind your eyes. “I don’t think I’ve said this back to you, but I love you. I love you with all my heart.”

He was smiling at you as he pulled you into his chest, and he rested his chin on top of your head. Those words from you were the ones that he had yearned to hear all along.

“I love you as well,” he responded, pressing his lips to the top of your head. “So much. You have no idea how much.”

“Are you sure you can’t stay the night again?” you asked with a hint of hope. Your conscience nagged at you that this was a bit selfish of you, but you quickly shoved that voice to the back of your mind.

“I can’t. But I’ll come to visit you everyday until your house arrest is over. Then we can start going out together.”

“Is that a promise?”

“It’s a promise,” he said with another kiss to the top of your head before he let go of you.

“I’ll hold you to that promise,” you said as Todoroki pulled open the front door.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, giving you one last handsome smile. He closed the door behind himself, leaving you grinning giddily to yourself.

***
The next few days passed peacefully and Todoroki kept his promise. Everyday he came to visit you, and everyday he brought you a daisy, which you added to your steadily growing bouquet of flowers.

The day before your house arrest ended, before Todoroki came for his daily visit, you received an envelope.

You found it on the floor beside the front door of your apartment. Someone must have slipped it under your door. You flipped it over and read out the words on the front.

To [First]. From Toshinori Yagi.

Your eyebrows raised. Your uncle usually texted or emailed you if he wanted to contact you. The closest thing to a letter that he had ever sent you was a postcard. You slipped your finger under the flap of the envelope, and carefully broke through Reggie the Bear sticker holding the envelope closed (you then peeled the sticker off the paper, saving it for later). You reached your hand in and took out the two sheets of folded paper that the envelope contained. As you walked into your kitchen, you smoothed the papers out and began to read the first one.

Dear [First],

I hope you’ve been doing alright. I have been discharged from the hospital, but the doctor recommends for me to stay in bed for a few days. I asked Detective Tsukauchi to deliver this letter to you (I gave him my keycard so that he could enter the building). I hope the letter finds you well.

There is another thing that I haven’t mentioned to you yet, but now that you’ve received your father’s memories and know the truth, I might as well let you know about this.

Nine years ago, when I was overseas and helping you pack your belongings so that you could move to Japan with me, I found a letter in your mother’s room. It was tucked away in the drawer beside her bed, and I recognized the handwriting right away. The piece of paper I found that day was from your father, and it seemed to be a note that he wrote to your mother right before he had to leave you two.

I took it with me and kept it in hopes that one day, you would know the truth and I could give it to you. And now the day has come. It is the second sheet of paper that I included in the envelope, and I hope that reading this letter can bring you some closure.

No matter what, I’ll always be your uncle.

I wish you all the best,
Your Uncle Toshinori

You remembered. When you were seeing your father’s memories, you were only able to read half of the note before your father was done writing and he folded the paper up.

With your fingers slightly trembling, you slowly placed the first sheet of paper containing the letter from your uncle onto the kitchen counter, revealing the second sheet. You almost couldn’t believe what you were seeing as you held the sheet in your hand. Compared to what you saw in the memory, the edges of the paper were a bit worn out, and the ink making up the words was a bit faded, but you recognized it right away as your father’s handwriting.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you this in person. I’m afraid that if I said this to you, face to face, I wouldn’t be able to control my emotions anymore. I’m afraid that my emotions will get in the way, and I wouldn’t be able to leave you, even if it is to protect you. Here is where other love letters would say that they'll love each other until the end of time, always and forevermore, or something like that. I don’t have the luxury of saying that. But, before All for One seals away my memories and takes away my humanity, I will say that the brief time I spent with you and our little Princess was what made my life worth living. My time with you two is worth far more than I could ever describe with words, and I am sorry that I will have to leave.

You gave me my freedom. You gave me a home and a family. You gave my life meaning.

Love,
The idiot you saved behind the dumpster that night,
C.

“That was it?” you muttered to yourself, flipping the sheet over in case you missed something, only to find a blank page on the other side. “Huh, that really was it.”

You had not seen clearly how long the letter was in the memory, and you had not expected it to be this short. If this was meant to be a love letter, then it would be lacking by far. But then again, your father was never one who was good with words.

You brought the paper closer to yourself, and you held the letter to your heart. Even though it was short, it was meaningful in its own unique way, and you were incredibly moved by it.

You spent the rest of the day smiling fondly.

Chapter Text

UA High School bustled with activity as students once again flooded the halls. They excitedly exchanged gossip, catching up with friends about what they did during their time off. Summer vacation had just ended and the students had gotten settled down in their dorms a few days ago. Following the Kamino incident and All Might’s retirement, UA protocol changed and students were required to live on campus from now on. And now that the students of Class 1A all lived together in the same dorm building, everyone felt more tightly knit and more like a family than ever.

Presently in the 1A classroom, the girls were gathered around Yaoyorozu’s desk, happily talking about the miniature girls’ get together that they had last night, to celebrate the end of summer vacation.

“I’m glad [Last] is doing well now,” Yaoyorozu said goodnaturedly. “I made her some chamomile tea yesterday and she enjoyed it.”

“Speaking of [First], where is she? She wasn’t at breakfast today,” Uraraka wondered, taking a glance at the empty desk beside hers. “I noticed that she looked like she had something on her mind yesterday.”

“Ribbit, [First]? I haven’t seen her all morning,” Asui said as she looked around the classroom. Just then, their teacher made his way through the doorway.

“Morning,” Aizawa said, and at once the class fell silent and took their seats. He cleared his throat. “Starting today, we will be resuming our regular classroom activities. I know you’ve all been through a lot, but now is the time to renew yourselves. To help you reach your full potentials -”

“Sir, if I may,” Uraraka said worriedly, raising her hand. She continued after Aizawa looked at her and gave her a nod. “Where is [First]?”

“I was just about to get to that,” Aizawa replied, before he focused his attention back to the whole class. “Before we start our lessons today, your classmate would like to announce something.”

As if on cue, the door slid open, and you entered, clutching what looked like a canvas that everyone in the class had received weeks ago, back when the students were deciding their hero names. Aizawa stepped off to the side, letting you gain everyone’s attention as you made your way behind the podium.

She had chosen for herself.

You took a deep breath, then held the canvas up, showing everyone what was written on it. Unlike back then, when you had nervously presented your hastily chosen hero name in front of the twenty pairs of staring eyes, you stood here this time with purpose and newfound resolution.

How to live her life.

“I have decided to change my hero name,” you said, voice steady and unwavering as you faced the class.

To start again, after the world has taken so much.

“The Limitless Hero …” Your eye briefly caught Todoroki’s and, unnoticed by anyone else, he gave you the slightest smile and the smallest nod, encouraging you.

No matter how merciless or cruel the world is, there is always a way forward.

“ … Princess,” you finished, bright eyes staring straight ahead.

And this is her way forward.

The little Princess has grown up.