Everyone died eventually.
Death, the end of everyone, will always be an unavoidable destination that awaited them, and him. That was fact. That was logic. That was how the world worked.
But he couldn't think about these things now. He had a life to live, a mother to come home to, and a task to fulfill. No matter how weak or useless he was. He had things to hold on to. He had a goal: to become a hero. His dream was his life raft that prevented him from sinking into his own misery.
Sure, the odds were against him, but he couldn't give up before even trying. He wanted to be a hero, a brave hero who saves people with a smile on his face. Despair was eating away at him, but he couldn't let that bring him down.
He tried to stay positive. He truly tried. But it was hard when everything around him seemed so negative.
Katsuki Bakugo, his old friend, made sure his life was a living hell. Izuku had lost count on how many times he'd ended up in the nurse's office because of that hot-tempered blond. The physical injuries where the least of his concerns, though. The words thrown at him were deadly arrows, sharp and painful and managed to dig deep into his bones. There weren't any Band-Aids suitable for those wounds.
He could deal with cuts and purple marks on his skin.
He could handle a black eye and scraped knees.
"–can't do anything, you're Quirkless!"
He could wash away the dirt out of his hair and treat those burn marks just fine.
"Just give up, dude."
"Look at things realistically, stop fantasizing! You can't be a hero."
"You don't have a power. You can't do anything !"
He couldn't, however, cover those words up.
"–You can jump off the roof and hope you get reborn with a Quirk in your next life."
He wouldn't do that.
He wouldn't. He…
Well… he shouldn't.
He had to keep trying! He had to work hard, harder than anyone else, to get to where he needed to be…
But after hearing what his idol had to say – "Pro Heroes put their lives at risk every day. And some Villain just can't be beaten without powers. So no, I don't think you can become a hero without a Quirk." – his hopes went downhill.
…Jump off the roof, huh?
He had never thought he'd ever consider such an option, but as he walked home after his encounter with the sludge villain, he realized why it felt like he was sinking. His life raft was gone. They'd been right. Kacchan had been right. He couldn't become a hero. Even All Might said so.
Even after trying to save his bully from the slime suffocating him, he hadn't been able to do much. Kacchan would've been killed if All Might hadn't stepped in.
Useless. Quirkless. Good for nothing.
Home at last, he found himself engulfed in his mother's embrace. He was out of energy, and despite how much he loved her, he couldn't get his arms to lift up and hug her back.
"Mom…" he managed, he voice worn-out from the events of the day.
"Izuku, baby!" she wailed into his neck, her chubby fingers brushing through his curly hair affectionately. "I was so worried when I saw the news!" Her fat tears dribbled down her face, his black school uniform absorbing the wetness.
He was too tired to care. "I'm sorry, mom…" His eyes were glazed over from fatigue.
She pulled back and checked him over, worrying and fretting over every scratched he'd received from the sludge villain encounter. The more scratches she found, the more tears fell from her already wet face. The major wound had been patched up by the medics who'd been at the scene. His ruined school uniform made him look worse than he actually was, but the force from All might's punch had sent debris flying everywhere, and of course Izuku managed to get hurt, but Katsuki looked almost unharmed. That boy was praised, but Izuku got scolded.
It was always like this. He always had the worst luck. Born Quirkless, useless, worthless, lonely, clumsy, small, timid, plain, below average.
What had he done to make life so angry at him?
All he ever wanted… he just…
I just wanted to help people.
His mother gently guided him to the sofa. Her shiny eyes sweeping over his face as she gently tilted his head up and carefully began to clean his dirtied cheek and forehead. He was silent.
"Let me take that, sweetie." Inko unbuttoned his uniform jacket and he leaned to help her slide it off his shoulders. The ruined jacket hung from her arm. She gave him a kiss on the head.
"You must be so tired," she said sympathetically, because that, and the villain attack, had to be why her cheerful boy was so quiet. She couldn't blame him for being affected by what had happened.
His mind was fogged up. He kept his head down and shoulders hunched, his hair shadowing his face. At least he still had his mom… right? Because what else did he have?
His hands tightened, fisting his black pants in his hands.
His childhood friend hated his guts. His classmates always took Katsuki's side. He was Quirkless. He was alone. He was empty inside. He was Deku, the useless, good for nothing, Deku. He couldn't do anything. Katsuki told him so. His classmates told him so. His doctor told him so. His teachers told him so. His idol told him so.
What was left of him, then?
Why did he exist? What was his purpose in life? Why did he live? Was this it, just breathing and eating and hurting and nothing else? Was he supposed to keep going until it was time for him to die?
Inko placed her palm on his back. "Izuku, do you feel like eating, sweetie?" she asked gently.
He knew she was just trying to make him feel better, trying to ease some of his pain.
He gave her a tired, fake smile. "Thanks, mom, but I… I think I just want to sleep…"
She gave him a nod. "Okay, baby." She said softly and planted another kiss on his cheek. "If you get hungry, let me know, okay?"
"Yeah, mom. Thanks…" He stood up and readjusted his backpack. He felt guilty for worrying her. That was all he ever did; worry his mother. Not only was he useless, he was also a burden.
He stopped just in front of his bedroom door. The All Might themed nameplate seemed like it didn't belong there anymore. Sighing, he removed it from where it had hung on that door for so many years. Stepping into his room, he dropped his backpack by his study desk and collapsed on the bed.
He couldn't be a hero. That realization made him want to vomit and cry. His life raft had disappeared, just like that. He felt stupid for not seeing things realistically sooner. Instead, he had kept dreaming, dreaming and aiming for the impossible. Everyone had warned him to back away from that fantasy. But, being the stupid, useless Deku he was, he had ignored them.
He was an idiot.
Why did he have to be born Quirkless? If only he was like Kacchan; brave and strong and unbeatable. He had an awesome quirk, too. And because of that, he had friends, he wasn't useless like Deku, no one bothered him at school, and Kacchan knew how to defend himself and fight.
If only Izuku was Kacchan. If only Izuku was someone else. If only Izuku wasn't Izuku.
He slept over the covers, still half dressed. His lights in his room were still on. He didn't have the strength to go and turn them off. However, in the morning, they were off. His mother must've checked on him and at some point. He didn't feel like going to school, and Inko didn't force him.
"It's okay, Izuku. You had a hard day yesterday," she told him sympathetically, seeing as he hardly touched his breakfast. "You don't need to go today if you don't want to."
"Hmm." He nodded, showing her he'd heard her. She deserved a better son than him. She deserved one who could make her proud, not one that kept making her cry and fret over him.
She deserved better.
What kind of son was he?
"I…" he gave her the most convincing smile he could manage. "I love you, mom."
She blinked in confusion at first, then smiled back. "I love you too, sweetie." Her smile was forced. He could tell she was worried. She reached across the table and touched his hand. "If there's anything bothering you, you can talk to me, baby."
"Sure, mom." He tried to keep the smile on; but it was hard, knowing what his mind had settled on.
He'd have to worry her again, but at least then he wouldn't be around to burden her any longer.
For once, he was taking Kacchan's advice.
Ochaco hugged her mom and dad for the last time, bittersweet tears clouding her eyes. Her bulky father chuckled and patted her head playfully.
"I'm gonna miss you guys…"
"Come on now. Show me a brave face," her father said light heartedly.
Moving away from the embrace, a wobbly smile appeared on Ochaco's teary face, her fists tight and ready.
Her father chuckled and placed his large hand on her head. "That's my girl!"
People moved about at the train station, dragging their luggage behind and texting family and friends and coworkers. Her parents had business to attend to, and she had to get settled far away from them, mostly to get everything ready and prepare herself for UA's entrance exam. She wanted to get accounted with her new environment and explore. She doubted she'd be able to study for the exam if the stress of resettling slowed her down, so she was prepared to leave early. She wanted to get everything out of the way before the big day.
"I'll call you guys!" she promised her parents.
"We know you will," her father assured her with a kind smile. "Good luck, Ochaco."
"I'll do my best!"
The train was visible from afar. It wormed its way closer to its stop point. Ochaco quickly hugged her parents one last time.
"I love you," she whispered, her eyes squeezed shut and face pressed between her parents, each of her arms around one of them.
They hugged back firmly. "We love you, sweetie," her mother said into her ear.
The train rumbled the ground and slowed to a stop. With a few last cheek kisses and goodbye waves, Ochaco dragged her orange luggage bag with as she left them behind.
She waved goodbye again through the window by her seat as the train started to move. They disappeared from view, leaving the girl to stew and think of what awaited her in her future. She was on her own now. She didn't have her family's comforting arms anymore. She needed to get into UA, study, train, become a hero, raise money, and then finally, she would be able to give her parents the life the deserved. It was going to be hard, but she was determined.
UA, wait for me.
She had to do it, for her parents.
Her apartment was tiny, but to her, it was just right. She just needed a place to live, that's all. This wasn't her forever home, and it was only her here, so this was enough for now. Once she becomes a hero and gets the money, maybe she could help her parents find a bigger home in a nicer city. They could go on vacations, the three of them. They could have nicer things, more space, and more time to themselves.
It all depended on her.
After setting up her things, she turned to her calendar and marked the important day.
"Alright," she huffed in determination. She had time, so she needed to pull every bit of her strength into studying and training until then. She prepared a daily schedule, using colorful highlighter pens to keep things organized. Late at night, she worked on the schedule by her desk lump. After finishing up and rubbing the sleepiness from her eyes. She checked it over one last time before setting some of the more important dates into her phone to remind herself.
She hung the schedule on the board.
She'll definitely become a hero. She had to do it.
She had to do her best!
Katsuki hadn't expected that kind of news. After his mother had told him, the blond hadn't moved from where he sat by the computer. He kept glaring at the door with his mouth hanging open, even after his mother left. He kept staring at nothing as his mind translated her words into understandable information.
He was still in a trance when he walked into the living room and heard his mother talking to Inko over the phone. He could hear the other woman's voice from where he was standing by the doorway.
"… I… I'm a bad mother–" Inko was crying. She sounded heartbroken and torn apart from the inside.
"No, you're not!" Mitsuki yelled at the phone. She hissed at her own outburst and tried to use a calmer voice. "Honey, listen to me, this wasn't your fault."
"He… He tried to…" Inko hiccupped. She could barely get a word out. "He was hurting and I didn't help him and now… he… Izuku…" she cried his name; a painful wail from her raw throat.
"Inko, honey, stop blaming yourself, right now," Mitsuki order harshly. "You did everything you could. I know you love little Izuku. Don't say you're a bad mother for loving him. Nobody knew what that kid was planning to do."
"I… I let him down… H-He kept saying he loved me over and over and… I knew he was distressed and he was trying to reach out to me… He left a note for me and… oh, my poor baby!"
"Get a hold of yourself!" Mitsuki snapped, before talking normally again. "Izuku's still alive. He still needs you, Inko. Izuku's a tough little boy. He'll make it through. Right now, he needs his mom more than anything else."
There was the sound of Inko blowing her nose and sniffing. "You're… you're right. You're right."
"Of course I'm right! Now hold on, we'll be on our way there, hon. Just sit tight." With that, she ended the call and turned to her son. "Get dressed," she ordered sternly. "We're visiting Izuku. And you better behave yourself at the hospital, brat."
His mind was still in shock. He wanted to throw his computer chair at the wall. He wanted to break something. He'd already punched the bathroom mirror, leaving behind spider web cracks, and bloody lines running down his pink knuckles. He'd gotten an earful from his mom for hurting himself and breaking the mirror while his dad helped stop the bleeding and bandaged his hand up.
The news was still drilling painfully into his mind.
Izuku had tried to jump to his death. The fall hadn't killed him, however. He was in a coma, unresponsive, with multiple sprains and fractures. Recovery and Healing nurses had to treat him slowly for the past few weeks to not drain his stamina.
He had tried to kill himself.
Deku. That useless dweeb, had tried to fucking die. Just like that.
He wanted to be a hero, and then he went ahead and tried to kill himself? The fuck?
"– You can jump off the roof and hope you get reborn with a Quirk in your next life."
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
Why the fuck – why would he – fucking hell! Deku never listen to Katsuki before. Deku hadn't listened when he'd been told he couldn't be a hero. Deku hadn't listened when he'd been told to stay away from him. And yet, out of everything he'd been told, he decided to take Katsuki seriously now.
That fucking idiot!
And Katsuki was a fucking idiot as well. Why the fuck had he thought that was okay to say? He'd almost killed someone.
His heart almost froze over at that thought. He'd almost killed him. He'd almost killed Deku, because that stupid dipshit actually took his words to heart. Katsuki, who was aiming to be a hero in the future, had almost driven someone to their own death.
Anger swelled within him. He threw open his door with such force, the door slammed against the wall and bounced back, leaving a crack on the wall.
"Katsuki, stop breaking everything, you little shit!" his mother shouted as she continued to hurriedly get dressed. During the car ride, he kept tapping his foot. Something strange was coiling in his gut. He wasn't sure what to call it, but it was fucking annoying and painful and terrifying and it was eating him alive.
Deku's failed attempt had been a few weeks ago, but he wasn't allowed visitors until the Recovery nurses managed to fix most of his life-threatening injuries. And even then, only family members were allowed to see him. They'd just given him one final checkup before allowing other people to see him.
Katsuki had no clue what to do.
Did he even deserve the privilege of visiting the guy? He was still in a coma, which meant he most likely had no say in who he wanted to see. If he were awake, how would he react to seeing Katsuki again? Would he pretend like he wasn't involved at all? Or would he keep silent because the meeting would just be too awkward for the both of them?
Inko was hysterical. She should've acted sooner. She was a failure. She had failed her baby boy, and now he was in a hospital with both his left arm and left leg wrapped up, and a few healing scars from his surgeries. They weren't even sure when he'll most likely wake up. Her poor baby… Her poor Izuku…
She knew something had been so wrong when she noticed he'd removed the nameplate from his door, and noticed how withdrawn he had been after he'd come home all disheveled. She'd thought it was his way to cope with stress from what he'd witnessed that day. He'd faced a villain up close and personal, so she wanted to give him as much time as needed for him to recover.
She should've known he was planning something else. She was a bad mother for not noticing. He'd dealt with bullies most of his school life, and unfortunately, he tended to deny or hide any evidence of harassment from her view. His typical "I just fell," or "It was an accident, mom, really!" weren't convincing. She hated herself for it. It felt like her son didn't trust her enough to ask for her help, but she knew her son wasn't like that. He most likely didn't want her to worry. That was how her Izuku was.
Her little boy would rather suffer on his own than make her worry. He'd been hurting, hurting so much, hurting to the point where he wanted to just end it and finally be free of pain.
Guilt nibbled at her heart.
She had so many chances to reach out to him. He lived with her, ate with her, and slept just a room away from her. She should've gone to him. She should've grabbed him and hugged him and loved him and never let him go. She should've.
He deserved a better mother. He deserved so much better than… this.
Sitting by his hospital bed, she brushed his messy hair back and ran the back of her hand over his freckled cheek. His skin was cold to the touch, soft and familiar. He was still so young, her little boy. He was such a fragile child, sensitive and loving and just so Izuku. She sniffed and wiped away tears before kissing his cheek again. I love you. Please wake up, baby.
She'd cried for hours when they'd operated on him. She'd fainted and collapsed on the hospital floor twice. Her beautiful little boy had tried to willingly kill himself. She kept remembering his wide, childish smile and his little cute blush and his happy voice. Now he was in a cold hospital bed.
"Izuku…" She held his good hand and stroked it lovingly.
Why him? Why'd this had to happen to him? He was a good boy. He was such a sweet, golden-hearted child. He didn't deserve to be so sad. After his hospitalization, she'd cried every day. She doubted recovery – mental recovery – would be easy for him. Sure, his physical injuries would heal, but what would happen to him then?
There was a knock by the door. A nurse peeked in, smiling kindly. "Friends are here," he informed.
Inko wiped at her wet face. Keep it together Inko. She sighed heavily, bracing herself.
"Okay. Okay. Thank you," Inko said to the nurse. He moved away as Inko got up from her seat and greeted her longtime friend. "Mitsuki…"
"Inko, hon, come' er," Mitsuki roughly pulled the chubby woman into a well-needed hug.
Masaru stayed just a few steps away to give the two women some space for their emotional reunion. Katsuki stayed just behind him, hands stuffed in his pockets, a blank look on his face as he watch Izuku's mother breakdown in tears, his intelligent red eyes scanning the chubby woman's face. Her eyes were red around the edges where she'd been rubbing at them; the end of her nose was also pink from how many times she'd blown into tissues. She cried into the taller woman's chest.
"… He'll be okay," Mitsuki told her. "If you ever need help, just call me."
"T-Thank you… I… I don't know what to do…"
Katsuki looked away. He'd rather look at the white hospital wall than that. He'd rather look at anything but that. He'd done that. While it was Deku who screwed up, he wouldn't have if Katsuki hadn't opened his big fat mouth.
"We'll be with you if you need help," his father told Inko, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's going to be okay."
Katsuki had screwed up big time.
His bandaged hand itched as his fist tightened in his pocket. Why did stupid Deku have to be so weak? Why did Deku have to listen to him now? He hadn't before, so why now? Why the fuck was he so much trouble?
How the fuck was he supposed to fix this mess?
Ochaco looked at the price tag, debating whether or not she actually needed a new jacket. Sighing, she put it right back. She needed to focus on what she needed, not what she wanted. She readjusted the strap over her shoulder, her bag shifted with the movement.
She needed to head back soon. The schedule in her room had been very helpful, preventing her from wasting time but still giving her enough to do normal teenage girl things. Sadly, she'd been so preoccupied with preparations and studies that she never got to truly meet people. Sure, she'd met her neighbors, they were very nice, but she didn't get to make friends with someone around her age just yet.
Heading outside to catch the bus, she quickly pulled out her phone. The lone crack across her screen split the sentences on the screen, but she was used to ignoring that line by now. Her phone also tended to be slow, the buttons slightly delayed and taking a few seconds to send or type anything. It was fine. The phone still worked like intended. It wasn't about comfort, but necessity.
A white-haired man tripped in front of her.
"Wah!" She instinctively reached out to tap him, canceling his gravity before he could face plant. "Oh, I'm sorry. Are you okay, mister?" she fussed over him.
He chuckled. "I'm fine. Just dandy. Thank you for that." He rubbed the back of his head. His long-collared jacket and long hair hid his face.
"Again, thank you." He bowed and turned to leave.
"Oh, no problem. Stay safe!" she called, waving to him. She felt a surge of pride flutter in her chest. Saving a person from falling wasn't much, but it felt good, knowing she'd done well. Helping people; that was her future job, and if it felt as satisfying as this, then she couldn't wait to be a hero.
The bus came into view. She took a step forward to get ready to get on, only to step on something flat on the ground.
"Huh?" Lifting her foot, she saw a wallet on the ground. Panic struck her. She quickly picked it up and looked around. The only person around was that white-haired man walking away. Was it his? Feeling slightly guilty for invading other's privacy, she opened the wallet and searched for any contact info or identification.
The picture on the ID was of the white-haired man she'd helped. She gasped and ran after him.
"Excuse me!" She panted. "Excuse me, sir! Wait – you dropped this!"
He finally stopped and turned around. He had dark bags under his eyes, but he looked down at her fondly as she bent over her knees to catch her breath. Ochaco extended her hand, holding out the wallet.
"You… You dropped this, sir."
He took it back without a word, glanced at her, then proceeded to check inside the wallet. She held her breath. Did he think she stole it from him? Was he checking if his money was missing? She just hoped nobody else had picked it up before she had.
Surprisingly, he chuckled. "Thank you again. And your name is…?" He extended a hand.
Relieved, she smiled brightly and shook his hand. "Ochaco Uraraka!" she said, blushing at being thanked personally.
"Hachirou Yamato. Thank you for your help, Uraraka. I do wish you a good day."
"You too!" She beamed. "Have a good day, sir!" She heard the bus she'd been waiting for slow to a stop. "Ah, I need to go. It was nice meeting you." She bowed and quickly ran for the bus, missing the man's intelligent eyes examining her. He looked down at his hand, the eye in his palm blinked at him.
I hope you like your new friend.
The day went by. Ochaco made sure to go jogging every day, preparing for the physical part of the test. She wasn't sure what UA had in store for her, but she wanted to be prepared. And so, she worked on her stamina. She'd get home and study. Her books would be scattered about on the floor and on her desk, her highlighter pens half dry, and a poster of a cartoon cat with a speech bubble over its head saying 'You Can Do It' was taped to the wall as motivation.
It was only when taking a shower did she notice the mark on her palm.
"Eh?" She scrubbed at the tiny wing-shaped mark. It was like a birthmark had suddenly appeared. Had she touched something that ended up printing onto her skin by accident? She didn't pay it much attention. She had other things to worry about.
Getting dressed, drying her hair, and sending a final text to her parents, she finally settled beneath the covers, sighing in relief. She snuggled into her pillows and turned on her side, feeling her heart beating in her chest. She fisted her clothes in her hand, grabbing at the part right over her heart. Maybe she was just nervous? Maybe she was homesick? She didn't know. She had to stay strong. She'd chosen a difficult path, and she was ready to go through with it.
No turning back now.
Ochaco slowly, ever so slowly, opened her eyes. She was greeted with white and blue colors. There was a prickling sensation around her body. She wasn't in her bed, but lying on grass outside. Alarmed, her eyes immediately widened and she lifted her head to look around.
She was in a field, covered in white grass. The trees around had grey bark and white leaves, standing out against the bright blue sky. Tiny white leaves sailed across the sparkling blue lake.
Where was she?
She sat up, and only then did she note her clothes. She was in a white dress that reached above her knees. The tall white grass tickled her bare legs.
"Hello?" A boy's voice echoed. He sounded far away, as if he lived in the sky. "Is… is someone there? Can you hear me?"
Ochaca suddenly perked up. "H-Hello?" she gasped, testing, waiting to see if she could actually interact with this voice. Was she dreaming? Most likely. She'd fallen asleep, and that was the last thing she remembered doing. She had no recollection of this place.
"… Oh! You can hear me? I'm so glad. I heard breathing but you didn't answer me for a while. I'm so glad you're okay."
"I'm okay, I'm okay!" Ochaco assured him. It was strange, talking to a voice without a body. It felt awkward, talking without looking at someone's face. It also occurred to her she was talking to a made up person. She was actually impressed at the fact she managed to know she was dreaming. She was aware of her state, which had never happened before in her life, if she remembered correctly. She was never in control in her dreams. Here, she could think clearly, feel the grass and the cold breeze as if it were all real.
"I've… never heard you before. How'd you get here? Do you know where we are?" the boy's voice asked.
She looked around. Aside from the blue sky and the blue lake, everything else was white, almost like snow. "I'm dreaming? At least I think it's a dream," she admitted, rubbing the back of her head.
The boy chuckled. He sounded young and cute. "Yeah, that's what I thought, too. I'm Izuku Midoriya, by the way. What's your name?" he asked kindly. He was talking as if this was a normal conversation, ignoring how they couldn't actually see each other.
She sat up and folded her legs, getting comfortable. "I'm Ochaco Uraraka. Nice to meet you!" She was facing the lake, because he sounded like he was in the sky somewhere.
It was weird. Had her brain made up that name? It didn't seem familiar, so how had she come up with it? Oh well, maybe she'd heard it somewhere and her brain unconsciously held on to it.
"Can I ask where you are? You sound everywhere," he asked uncertainly.
She gasped. "Same here! I hear you everywhere and…" She stood up, the grass brushing beneath her bare feet. The white field stretched far. "Umm… I… I don't know where I am, really. It… It looks like a grassy place in winter, but there's no snow," she tried to explain, her hand unconsciously messing with her hair. "Umm…"
"Ah! We have to be close, then," he mumbled.
They didn't need to speak loudly in order to hear each other. It was as if they heard each other's thoughts.
"Do you see swans near you?" he asked timidly.
Ochaco tilted her head. Swans? "Uhh…" The lakes were clear, aside from the white tree leaves scattered about. "No, I don't see any."
"Oh." He sounded slightly sad. "We'll think of something. Uraraka, right?"
"Yup!" She said brightly. He sounded friendly; imaginary, most likely – but still friendly.
"So… umm… Sorry, I'm not very good at conversations…" he admitted shyly, laughing awkwardly at himself.
Amused, Ochaco sat down and leaned back, giggling slightly. "It's okay. Here, I'll start first. How old are you?"
And so it went. Imaginary or not, he was a nice boy. She didn't care if he most likely didn't actually exist. He was good company. They exchanged a few words, switching from questioning to answering. She found out he was her age, his birthday was on the 15th of July, and he lived somewhere in Musutafu.
He also mentioned other things. He liked his mother's Katsudon. He had attended Orudera Junior High School. His mother could attract small objects, while his father was a fire breather.
Just how did she come up with this imaginary boy's profile?
"UA?" he asked in surprise. "You're going to UA? That's so cool!" he sounded so excited, Ochaco couldn't help but blush at his almost childish voice. It had a nice ring. It made her feel happy.
"Yeah, I'm getting ready for it. I'm really scared but… but I'll do my best."
"You can do it!" he encouraged her. "I've only just met you, but you sound like a strong person, Uraraka. I'm sure you'll make it through!"
He sounded so confident of her. She laughed shyly. "Thanks. I'll do my best!"
"Good luck!" he sounded so happy. "I'm sure–"
His voice faded out as the world blurred.
Her alarm had woken her up from her nice dream. Groaning, she reached over to shut off the noise. She was back in her tiny bedroom. She felt slightly disappointed. That boy had been very nice. It'd been a while since she'd had a friend. She missed the girls from school.
Stretching, she sat up and yawned tiredly. It hadn't been an eventful dream, but she felt like she didn't want to forget it. Scooting off of her bed, she went over to her little rainbow notebook. Grabbing a multi-colored pen, she wrote down her dream, along with parts of their conversation she remembered. She didn't understand why she felt the need to remember this, but something in her gut – and her heart – told her it was important to not forget.
Satisfied with her work, she placed her things away and started her day.
He could see the cars drive across the streets below from the hospital window. Katsuki let the curtains fall back when he heard the door open. Mitsuki kept walking in and out, possibly to ask her husband to bring them a few things, and possibly because she was such an active person it was hard for her to stay still.
Katsuki remained seated next to Izuku's hospital bed, Inko sitting next to him in another chair. They hadn't spoken much. It was mostly Mitsuki who did most of the talking. His father would occasionally give Inko some advice and gentle words. Inko was still traumatized by the state of her son. Deku was still a vegetable, and Katsuki had no flipping idea how to react to all of this. No matter how many times they visited this hospital, nothing seemed to change.
Izuku hadn't moved. Not willingly, anyway. The nurses had to tube feed him and keep shifting his body to prevent bed sores. Also, the catheter bag needed to be emptied regularly. How long would he stay like this? Katsuki visited every day, and the nerd was still asleep.
Deku was known for moving about and fidgeting and smiling like the idiot he was. Seeing him so quiet and still was disturbing. He looked dead, Katsuki knew he wasn't actually dead, but he wasn't alive, either. He was just… there; breathing, heart beating, but not functioning. He didn't talk. He didn't blink. He didn't move. He didn't show any signs of communication with the world round him.
He was almost dead, but not completely.
And what if he did wake up? What was Katsuki supposed to say? Was there anything he could say? How the fuck was he going to patch-up this mistake? And yes, no matter how he looked at it, Katsuki was still at fault. He kept remembering parts of his life – parts that involved that curly-haired nerd – and then replayed the events, only this time, removing himself from those memories.
If it weren't for Katsiku, Deku wouldn't have burn marks. If it weren't for Katsiku, Deku would at least have a few friends. If it weren't for Katsiku, Deku wouldn't have jumped. If it weren't for Katsiku, because he had to admit, no matter how he looked at it, Katsuki was the problem.
The day of the exam was getting near, and Katsuki would be the only one from their school to get into UA.
He didn't feel victorious like he had wanted.
Katsuki Bakugo, future hero, responsible for driving a Quirkless dweeb into diving out a window and smacking into the ground like a lifeless doll. He was responsible for that motionless doll in that white bed.
With a scowl, Katsuki sank back into his chair, his legs spread out in front of him, arms crossed and anger boiling.
Ochaco hadn't been expecting that dream again. But, alas, here she was, in the middle of a white field in a white dress. She'd just gone to bed after a long day, only to find herself in the same dream again.
"…U-Uraraka?" the voice called uncertainly. His voice hadn't change. It was comforting, hearing him again. "Are… umm… Are you there?"
"Here!" She giggled.
"Oh! Good. I thought something happened to you. I'm glad you're okay." he sounded genuinely thankful for her wellbeing. "You're okay, right? You suddenly disappeared."
"I'm fine, I'm fine," she assured him hurriedly, her hands waving in front of her. "I guess I just woke up. Sorry for worrying you. I didn't mean to leave you so suddenly." She blushed. It was embarrassing, knowing she'd left him like that. Even if he was a non-existing, it didn't feel right.
"N-No need to apologize – I'm just happy you're okay!" he said quickly. "Are you… umm… are you in the same place you were? You know, the same place as last time, I mean."
Sitting on the white grass, she saw the same view of the blue lake and the few white trees from afar.
"I… think so?" she said, tilting her head.
"…okay. Okay, I'll… I'm going to walk around a bit. Maybe you're nearby. Is it – Is it okay if I ask you to stay where you are?"
He was trying to find her, she realized. It was amazing how this imaginary boy seemed to have a personality of his own.
"Sure!" She shifted into a more comfortable position over the grass. She heard him breathe harder. He was walking faster, perhaps?
"So…" he tried to start a conversation awkwardly. "Is it okay if I ask about your Quirk? Ah – you don't need to tell me if you don't want to, though!"
She giggled at him. Looking down at her palm, she traced the pink pads on her fingertips. "It's Zero Gravity. I can make things weightless when I touch them. I know, it's not a strong quirk, but I'll make it work somehow." She wasn't sure how her quirk would pass as a Pro Hero's. It wasn't strength or super speed, and it wasn't anything like fire manipulation or water creation.
"Zero Gravity… that's so cool!"
Well, she wasn't expecting him to be so excited about it.
"You can make things and people float, so it might be very helpful in search and rescues! You can be like Thirteen!"
She smiled sheepishly. She was a big fan of Thirteen, so of course her imaginary friend would like Thirteen, too. "I really hope so."
"You're going to UA, so you might see Thirteen there. That's so cool." He kept praising her and the hero, huffing as he probably climbed a steep path somewhere. "UA… so you might meet Kacchan there…" he thought out loud.
Ochaco tilted her head. Her reflection in the lake mimicked her movement. "Kacchan?"
"Oh! He's a friend–" he stopped speaking, then corrected himself. "He… used to be my friend, when we were kids."
He sounded sad. She didn't know if she should encourage him to talk about it, or change the subject. She didn't want to make him uncomfortable. "Oh," she said sympathetically.
"He's really strong but… he loses his temper easily," he warned her.
"Kacchan, huh?" She thought about it. "It's cute. Does he call you something, too?"
"…Deku. He calls me Deku. It's… It's supposed to mean good for nothing, so…"
"Oh!" She gasped. Why would a friend call him something like that? That was mean! "It's an insult?"
"Yeah, he…" Izuku sounded uncomfortable. "We don't get along anymore."
She couldn't help but feel sad for him. She'd only talked with him a few times, but she already liked him. He sounded like a nice person. Think of a way to cheer him up. Come on, come on…
"You know," she thought carefully. "Deku sounds like 'do your best!' you know? It doesn't always need to mean something bad! I like Deku." Oh, boy. Did she screw it up? Was that the wrong thing to say? Had she made him feel worse?
"Do your best…" He stopped breathing so hard. Had he stopped walking to think about it? "Okay. I'm Deku, then!" he declared confidently.
Well, that was fast. "Oh, ah, you don't mind being called that?" she asked nervously.
"Why would I? It means do your best, right?" he said happily.
She smiled brightly. Her fists tightened and she brought them closer to her chest, a surge of happiness pulsing within her body. "Then let's do our best, Deku!"
She came to hate her alarm. It woke her up from her wonderful dream. It was amazing how this person in her dream seemed so real. His personality, background, history, and the why he talked… just how had her mind created this boy? And why did she dream of him again?
While this dream made her feel happy in the morning, she couldn't help but feel like she was missing something. It was like she'd just discovered a puzzle, and most of the pieces were missing.
Scooting off the bed, she turned on the lights and fetched her notebook, filling in a few more lines. He felt important. Why? She wasn't sure.
As the days went by, the exam day crawled closer, and with each night, she dreamt of him again. It was always in the same environment, but their dialogue was always different.
She didn't know why she kept having this dream, but she found herself anticipating it every night. He was good company. He was a good listener, and with everything she had to worry about, like the exam and her studies, it was nice to have someone like him to talk to.
"I'm sorry for leaving like that again!" Ochaco apologized once more, sitting in the white field again. She hated waking up so suddenly, leaving him without saying goodbye. It felt rude to just wake up while he was in the middle of talking.
"It's fine, really!" he assured her. It was still strange, hearing him but not being able to see him. "You need to wake up early. You have an exam to study for."
"Yeah. Again, I'm sorry I keep waking up and leaving you like that." She clapped her hands together to show how sincerely sorry she was. Even though he probably couldn't see her, she was still used to moving her hands when speaking.
"It's fine, it's fine!" he said nervously. "Waking up… does that mean you're asleep right now?"
"I…" she thought about it. "I… think so…?" Honestly, she wasn't sure anymore. It looked like a dream, but it didn't feel like one. "I always end up here when I go to bed," she explained, wringing her fingers.
He hummed. "You can only get here when you're asleep, then?" he asked curiously.
Ochaco nodded – forgetting the fact that he couldn't see her. "Yeah…"
"Then… does that mean I'm asleep, too?"
By the sound of it, he didn't seem sure.
"I never wake up like you do, though…"
"Wait… then what do you do when I leave?" she asked, hugging her knees to her chest.
"I wait here. I've… uh… been here for a while."
She felt a little sad. "Don't you… don't you ever feel lonely?"
"Well, I do miss my mom, but I never actually felt lonely. Not like when I was alive, anyway…" he trailed off, laughing awkwardly, as if he just realized he shouldn't have said the last part of that sentence.
"When you were alive – Deku…" She suddenly felt worried. "Deku, are you…? Are you–?"
"Am I dead?" he finished it for her. "I'm… not sure anymore. I thought I was, but now…"
This didn't feel right. Was he an imaginary person? Why did he sound so real? Was he a ghost of a boy who'd died? What was this dream turning into?
"Ah – I'm sorry if I scared you – I didn't mean to sound like that, really!" He sounded flustered. "I should really think before talking…"
"Hey, hey, it's fine!" Ochaco fretted. "It's fine. It just surprised me, is all. It's just… why did you think you're dead?"
"… I…" he was silent for a while, but she gave him time, waiting quietly for him. "It's the last thing I can remember. I remember other things, like my mom, my school, things like that. But the last thing I remember… I… I think I died?"
"I… I thought I was dead the whole time. You know, until I started hearing you. I'm not sure anymore…"
"We'll figure this out, Deku," she promised him. He just sounded so sad and lost and she just wanted him to be happy. "I'll help you! We're in this together, okay?"
"Uh, I'm sorry I roped you into my problems–"
"Don't say that," she scolded him halfheartedly. "I wanna help you. What are friends for?"
"Oh, I, uh… friends…?"
"Yeah!" She gave a firm node, a wide smile on her face. "Aren't we? I wanna be your friend."
It took him a while to answer back. "Oh. Okay. Friends. I'd like that."
She'd made that statement on a whim, but she didn't regret it. Real or not, she didn't know, and it didn't matter. She liked this boy.
She heard him suddenly gasp. He stayed quiet for a while. She could hear him breathing, his breath slightly cover by the sound of brushing tree brunches.
"Deku? Are you still there?"
"…Uraraka? Can you… Can you turn around, please?"
"Eh?" What an odd request. "Turn…" Looking back, across the white grass, on the other side of the lake, there was a human figure. She felt like she forgot how to breathe. Because of the white environment, his dark green hair and bright green eyes stood out. He had a few cute freckles on his cheeks and his shy smile made her heart flutter with joy.
"Deku?" She blinked, not believing her eyes. "Deku is that you?" Excited, she stood up and waved her arm out.
He responded by blushing and rubbing the back of his head sheepishly, lifting his other hand to wave back in a calmer manner.
"Yeah. It's me," he said shyly, chuckling a little. His voice wasn't all over the place anymore. His voice wasn't echoing in her head. His voice was coming from him now, not emitting from the sky. He was in a white short-sleeved shirt and white pants that reached just above his knees.
Ochaco jumped in excitement, waving her arms wildly at him. "Deku! I see you, Deku!" She couldn't help it. He was right there. She'd never thought she'd actually see him. Ochaco had assumed he was only a voice. But there he was, standing on the other side of the lake. Had he been looking for her this whole time?
He chuckled a little at her over the top happiness. "I'm happy to see you, too. Hold on, I'll get over there…" He studied the lake between them, looking at the sides to see how far the water stretched.
Looking at the distance between them, Ochaco floated herself, testing to see if she could use her Quirk here. She could. Satisfied, she canceled it out, backed up, and ran for the lake. For a second, she saw Izuku wave his hands in front of him, panicking, telling her to hold on.
She activated her quirk and jumped, her bare toes briefly skimming across the surface of the water. She floated over the lake, flaying weightlessly. Unfortunately, she didn't have much maneuverability, so she could only hope to land just right. She kept her limbs as still as possible, not wanting herself to roll in the air.
Izuku hurriedly took a few stepped into the water and held out his shaky arms.
"A-Ah, I've got you!" He was slightly panicking at the way he managed to hold her, his hands under her armpits, a blush burning his face. "I… ah…"
Her face was just as red. He was holding her up, their faces inches away. She could feel him trembling nervously.
"Oh, sorry, I – hold on – release!" Without thinking, she canceled out her quirk. She hadn't thought things through. Her weight suddenly returned, dropping into Izuku. Not wanting to drop her, he hugged her to his chest and quickly stepped back before falling on his back.
He was hugging her to his chest, the tips of their noses touching, staring at each other with wide eyes. He released a sound akin to a squeal. The poor boy slammed his head back against the white grassy ground in fear and his arms loosened their hold around her.
Embarrassed, she quickly scrambled to get off of him.
"Ah! Sorry, s-sorry – my bad!" red-faced and stuttering to get the words out, she pushed herself to the side, lying next to him. "I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
"Y-Yeah… Yeah, I'm okay… I think…" He still looked shocked, his eyes wide, his lips pressed into a thin line.
"Sorry." She laughed awkwardly. "Thanks for catching me, Deku."
"It's… it's no problem." He managed to let the incident slide, smiling lightly. "I'm just glad I found you," he admitted, fiddling with his thumbs. "You look cute–" he choked on his own words, freezing in place. Without meaning to, he glanced at her, seeing how close she was, and that blush on her cheeks…
"I – Ah – not what I meant! I mean… err…" He covered his eyes in embarrassment, his voice cracking over a million times. "You're – you're fine, I mean I – not that you're not cute or anything, you are, I just–" he stopped himself by slapping a hand over his mouth before he could say any other stupid comments.
Blushing madly by his choice of words, Ochaco stuttered as well. "O-Oh, it's fine, it's fine – really! I m-mean, you're cute, too, so…" her voice died in her throat. They stared at each other in silence.
Well, what a nice meeting.
They were both blushing and talking over each other, each side trying to explain themselves.
"What I meant was…"
They quieted down, looked at each other, before bursting into fits of laughter. They both slumped back against the grassy ground. Ochaco wiped away a tear from the corner of her eye.
"Okay…" Izuku managed to catch his breath. "Okay, let's try again. I'm Deku. Nice to finally see you, Uraraka!"
"Happy to see you, too, Deku," she said, giggling at their almost childish way of talking to each other. "How'd you find me?"
"Oh, I've just been walking around. Didn't know where I was going," he explained. He seemed more relaxed now. "I guess I was hoping to find you by chance."
"Well, it worked!"
He chuckled at her. "Yeah, it did."
"I like talking like this," she said, sitting up. "It felt weird, talking without seeing you."
He sat up as well, folding his legs. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I kept looking up at the sky 'cause it sounded like your voice came from everywhere." He looked around, seeing the white trees and nothing more. "Do you keep waking up in the same place?" he asked her, gesturing to the spot of flattened grass on the other side of the lake, where she'd been sitting.
She nodded. "Yeah."
"Then I guess that's where I have to wait for you tomorrow," he said, mostly to himself.
"Wait for me… oh, yeah. You can't leave this place, right?" she asked him, careful and ready to change the subject if she felt like he wasn't comfortable with the conversation.
He sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "Yeah, but… I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." He looked down sadly.
She scooted closer to him, hoping close proximity might give him some sort of comfort. "Do you, you know… like staying here?" she asked him, titling her head to get a better look at his soft eyes.
He hummed, thinking it over. "I… don't hate it. It's better than when I was awake, I guess," Izuku whispered. "I know there isn't much to do here, there aren't places to go and there isn't anyone else until a found you, but… I guess what I'm trying to say is… living here… living here is easier than living there."
Ochaco looked at him sadly. He'd rather never wake up than go back to his old life. Without thinking, she placed her hand over his. He glanced at her in confusion.
"You look sad," she pointed out.
He sighed and hid his face in his arms. "I'm… I feel kinda selfish. Living here might be easier for me but… my mom must be worried." He sighed again. "Maybe… Maybe it's better this way. I always made her worry. Maybe now she doesn't need to cry for me all the time."
"Deku…" She held his hand tighter. "What happened, Deku?" This was just too sad for her. "Are you… Did you really die, Deku?"
He glanced at her, then hid his face in shame. "Maybe. I… I jumped out a window… I don't remember if I hit the ground or not," he said in a low voice, ignoring how her hand over his went still. "I woke up here. Been here this whole time, so… I don't know."
She stared at him, her vision going cloudy. He'd purposely jumped? This sweet boy? No. No, this couldn't be true. But wait… was he even real? "Deku…" She didn't know what to say. What could she say? She hadn't come prepared for this. She wanted to hug him. She wanted him to know why – just why he would do this. She wanted to tell him that it would be okay and that he had her as a friend now. He could lean on her now.
But she just had to wake up at that crucial moment. She blinked at her alarm, feeling lines tickle their way down her cheek. She'd been crying in her sleep. Turning off the device, she tiredly heaved herself up and reaches for her notebook. She filled in his facial and physical description, and then wrote down his last few sentences.
He felt real. So real. What if he was indeed real? Then, perhaps, had she been dreaming of a dead person all along? But then, why her? Why him? Why now? What was their connection? What if he wasn't real? What did it all mean? Was there a meaning at all?
Slapping her notebook down, she looked over at her daily schedule; two more days until the exam. Two days. If she could skip today's regular schedule and push those few hours of studying to tomorrow, she might be able to make it work. It would be rushed and messy tomorrow, but she couldn't just leave this be.
Looking down at her notebook, she decided - screw the schedule.
Stepping off the train, she asked around for where she could find the school Izuku had mentioned to her in one of her dreams. While the idea of the boy being connected to a real person seemed absurd at first, she felt a cold shiver run down her spine after doing a simple Google search.
Orudera Junior High School
She stared at her phone in horror. It was real. She couldn't have made this up in her mind. She'd never been to this area before. This couldn't be a coincidence, could it? She found the connection somewhat creepy.
She wasn't sure what she was planning to find. Evidence of Izuku Midoriya's existence, maybe?
She pinned the location of the school on her crappy phone and trotted forward, her notebook safely in her bag. Reaching the school, she found the gates closed. She hadn't thought things through. She checked the sigh attacked to the brick wall. It was the school, alright.
If Deku was real, and he'd attended this school, then maybe someone in the area would know about him? But… it was such a big area. She couldn't possibly ask each person. Sighing, Ochaco leaned against the brick wall and clicked open her phone. She needed more to work with.
"Come on, please…" She searched for his name. Nothing related to him came up. She did a wider search, looking into news related to this part of the city. She scrolled down, looking for anything – anything that could help her.
She stopped on a news webpage. A video file was attached to the bottom of the article. From what was written, a villain with some sort of sludge quirk had attacked a boy. His friend had attempted to save him, but the two were eventually rescued by All Might. It didn't seem like this had anything to do with what she was originally looking for, but the video became playing automatically when she scrolled down.
The camera was shaky, and there was fire everywhere, but she could see the greenish slime monster trying to engulf something. When another boy ran in, throwing his backpack at the villain and clawing at the monster to get his friend out, she almost dropped her phone.
"Kacchan!" the curly-haired boy in the video yelled.
That hair. That voice. And he knew someone known as 'Kacchan'… It was him. That was her Deku. That was Izuku Midoriya. He was real. He was real. The boy she'd been talking to in her dreams. That was him. He wasn't a dream. He was a real person. He wasn't just a creation of her imagination.
Then Ochaco remembered what he had told her: "I jumped out a window." Had he really died? But… what was he doing in her mind? What was going on?
She ended up with more questions than answers that day. If he were just a dream, then she could've just let it be. But now… she had evidence he was alive – or had been alive at some point. Going to bed, it was hard to fall asleep. Her mind kept railing back and forth and coming up with theories because this was just too much!
She was greeted with the familiar sight of white grass. She was on her side, in that short white dress again. Next to her, Izuku was on his back, his arms folded under his head, acting as pillows. She sighed, bringing his attention to her.
"Oh, you're back." He smiled at her sweetly. "Looks like you don't disappear. You just fall asleep. Hey… what's wrong?" His smile slipped when he saw the troubled look on her face. She looked ready to cry.
She told him. She told him everything, what she had thought he was, what she had gone through to figure out the truth. He was real. He spoke the truth, which also meant he was – indeed – most likely dead.
"You looked for me," he asked, making sure.
She hugged her knees and nodded.
"I know I would've done the same. I'm sorry I troubled you like that."
She shook her head no. "I'm happy I met you. I'm happy you're real, but…" She buried her head between her knees. "I don't want you to be dead, Deku…"
"I… You're a good person. You're a good friend. I don't want to believe you're dead. I want to know more about you but… I'm scared now. What if… what if you really are dead? Deku…" She was crying now.
He panicked, his hands hovering over her shoulder, unsure if it was appropriate to touch her. She sniffled and rubbed at her eyes. It was enough for him to try. He gently placed his hand on her shoulder. "Uraraka, we're not sure what's going on. We don't know if I'm really dead… And… and even if it turned out to be true…" He squeezed her shoulder. "I'm glad I met you."
He lifted her head and gazed at him through watery eyes. He lifted his hand to wipe away the wetness from her cheek, but stopped inches away. He nervously thought if he was crossing a line here. Instead, she grabbed his hand and pulled it to her, pressing it against her cheek.
Was this sweet boy actually dead? How many more times would she be able to dream of him? Would he eventually disappear from her dreams?
She didn't know how long they stayed sitting by each other like that. This world was quiet and all white. The only colorful parts were them, and the water and the sky. There was no sun, and the color of the sky never changed.
"Can you do me a favor?" He asked her carefully. "Can you… I'll tell you my address so… can you check on my mom?"
Ochaco's eyes widened, her mouth forming an O shape.
He looked away shyly, his hand brushing through the grass. "It's just that… we're not sure what happened to me, but if I'm really dead then… then my mom must be on her own."
She wiped at her wet cheeks and huffed, feeling a new wave of courage boil through her. "I'll do it."
He gave her a wide smile, his cheeks turning pink. "You will?"
"Yeah. I promise!"
"Thank you. I know I'm asking much, but my mom's a really emotional person. I'm worried about it," Izuku confessed. "I don't know how long I've been gone. She must be really lonely."
"I'll find your mom, Deku."
He told her where he lived, the street number, and the floor number where he and his mother used to live in that little apartment.
"When's your exam, by the way?"
Ochaco twiddled with her thumbs. "I have one more day."
Izuku blinked at her. He suddenly gasped and held up his fists to his chest. "It's the day after tomorrow?"
She nodded. He looked so excited.
"You can do it!" he cheered her on, holding his fist over his head. "You've been preparing, I'm sure you'll make it in. Do your best, okay?"
It was hard to look away from that bright smile of his. He just looked so happy. "Hmm!" She nodded and held up her fist as well, mimicking her friend.
She spent the entire day studying, relaying on takeout food because she didn't have the time or the will to cook. That rainbow notebook sat just by her bed. It was hard to resist opening it and connecting more dots about her friend, but she had to focus on her exam. She was sure he'd ask her about her progress tonight. Before bed, her dad sent her a good luck text, which she responded with a heart icon.
Izuku was sitting next to her on the grass.
"How'd it go?" he asked.
She grinned. "Studied all day!"
Glad, he smiled at her. She didn't know why his smile felt so special. "You'll do great, I'm sure."
They sat by each other for a while, watching the lake sparkle. At some point, they started walking together, side by side. They'd throw random conversations here and there. They began tacking turns throwing small rocks across the lakes, watching as the rocks bounced of over the water's surface.
"You wanted to go to UA, too?" She perked up after learning where he had intended to go.
Izuku looked slightly nervous at that, fingering the white rock in his hand. "Yeah, that's what I planned. I wanted to be a hero and… and save people…" He channeled his frustration into that throw, sending the rock skidding away over the water before finally sinking. He looked down at his open palm sadly.
Ochaco, sensing she needed to keep his focus on something, placed another rock in his hand. He looked at her, then understood her intent. She wanted to know more about him, but she didn't want him to get agitated.
"I guess you want to know if I still want to go?" he asked, making sure.
She gave him a firm nod, ready to take in his words, nut also ready to apologize if the topic made him uncomfortable.
"I…" He made sure to keep looking down at the white rock instead of her. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to focus if he knew she was looking at him so intensely. "I still want to be a hero. It's just that… I'm Quirkless, Uraraka. I can't be a hero." There. He said it. And with all his might, he tossed the rock. "It was stupid of me for dreaming in the first place…" he mumbled sadly, plopping down on the grass, his feet inches away from the water.
"No it's not!" Ochaco almost yelled. He flinched away from her suddenly loud tone. "Oh, sorry. I mean, no, it's not stupid. You want to be a hero. That's a great dream!" she told him, sitting down next to him.
He blinked at her. No one ever told him that. He'd always been told he couldn't do it. "But… I'm–"
"Quirkless?" She finished his question. "So what?" She took a white stick and drew circles on the water's surface with the tip. "I saw the video of you, Deku; the one with the slime villain and All Might." She watched his eyes widen. "You still tried to save that boy. That's what a hero does."
"I… I still couldn't do anything. If All Might hadn't been there…"
She shook her head no. "If you weren't there, that boy would've died before All Might could save him. Deku, you saved him," she said, pointing a finger at his chest. "Having a Quirk doesn't make you a hero. You chose to be a hero. All those people had Quirks, but you were the only one who tried to save that boy. You're amazing, Deku."
He looked ready to cry. "U…Uraraka…"
"Don't care about what everyone else says." She gave him a wide smile. "You're a real hero, Deku!"
His eyes watered. Fat tears threatened to full. He tried to smile for her, but it came out wobbly and awkward. His cheeks turned pink. The tears fell and he used his arm to cover over his eyes. But she could still see the thick tears rolling down his reddening cheeks.
At first, she'd thought she'd managed to accidentally upset him, but then realized those weren't tears of sadness.
Had she been the first to tell him that?
His hand came up to fist his shirt. It almost looked like his heart was hurting him.
"Th… That's…" he sniffed, lowering his head and rubbing at his wet face. "That's… that's all I wanted to h-hear…"
She wanted to hug him. She wanted to cry with him. She wanted to tell him 'don't give up', just like how he always did. She wanted him to be happy, just like how he managed to make her happy.
Dead or not, he was her friend. Leaning against him, shoulder to shoulder, she reached up for the hand that kept squeezing his shirt. She gently coxed it into letting go and she held that hand between hers. He still had his arm covering his eyes as he cried silently, but she felt his fingers curl in her palm. Their imagines reflected over the water like a mirror, both of them colorful against the white background of the empty word around them.
Before and during the writing exam, Ochaco felt like she would faint at any moment. She was competing with so many other students, students with better abilities. But she managed to keep her mind in check.
During the second part of the exam, so many students had opportunities to show off their Quirks. Some had fire powers, some used acid, some had super strength, and some had speed. They could all be suited as Pro Heroes one day, and for a second, Ochaco felt like she didn't belong here.
But then she remembered Deku, that Quirkless boy – that Quirkless hero. He didn't have super strength or acid to save someone. His heroism was all his. Quirks weren't the heroes. People were heroes. Deku was a hero, because he had acted when no one else had.
Panting, she tapped another robot before moving to the next, tapping it as well. She remembered the words of her friend. "Do your best!" She brought her hands together and heard the robots crash into the ground. Her stomach curled and sweat drenched her underclothes. She'd lost count on how many points she'd gathered. She kept going.
She had to do this, for her family, for herself, for the people who needed to be rescued in the future, and for Deku.
She wasn't as strong or as talented as some of the other kids around, but Deku hadn't been either, yet, he was more of a hero than them all. It felt unfair. She had the opportunity to get into UA and become a hero, only for the money. Izuku wanted to become a hero to help people, but couldn't.
The timer stopped, and her exam ended. She couldn't wait, however. She still had things to do. After getting a few knee scares and a cut on her cheek bandage, she was off to the apartment complex pinned on her phone.
Her limbs still ached, and she really wanted to sit down and rest, but she had something to do. The apartment building wasn't anything special. It was normal. Average. Standing in front of the door, Ochaco glanced down at her phone to make sure she was at the right place. It was. This was where Izuku had lived with his mother. His mother…
No one answered the door for a while. Ochaco waited. She knocked and tried the doorbell again. Still nothing. She then tried the neighbors downstairs. No one answered. She tried the neighbors upstairs, and a little boy answered, claiming his parents were still at work. So she went back to stand in front of the Midoriyas home and waited.
Katsuki had managed to release his frustration by destroying those robots. It felt good. But even after his exam, even after he was sure he got a good score, he didn't feel any sort of achievement.
After the exam was over, he collected his jacket he'd discarded earlier and headed for the exit, his jacket hanging from his arm. He had to take the bus to get to the hospital – the same hospital he had been visiting almost daily.
He wasn't sure why he kept visiting the nerd. Katsuki could just not go. He could just forget about that pebble and go on with his daily life.
But he couldn't.
He couldn't, because that nerd was in that state because of Katsuki's big fat mouth. Deku was still an idiot for taking his words seriously, and he was still an idiot for dreaming big when he was nothing but a Quirkless piece of shit, but Katsuki was the one to pull away the safety net from under Deku's feet when that curly haired nerd needed it the most.
Crossing under a bridge, Katsuki halted when a buff man jumped down from the bridge and landed heavily in Katsuki's path
"I have arrived!" the buff man – All Might – declared loudly.
Katsuki blinked in confusion.
"There you are, young man!" All Might said in a rather loud voice. "I've been wanting to talk to you after the slime villain incident! I humbly apologize for not reaching you in time, and I am grateful to see you have chosen to take UA's entrance exam!" All Might then looked left and right with his hand over his eyes as if blocking out the sun. "Say, do you happen to know where that other boy from before had gone?"
"Other…" Katsuki lifted a brow.
"Ah, yes! The boy who'd helped you before! The one with curly hair."
Katsuki felt a vein pop. "Fucking Deku didn't help me!" He was ready to yell even more, but then the realized something. "…the fuck do you want Deku?"
All Might coughed into his fist. "I… would like to speak to your friend. I intended to do so before, but I haven't been able to locate him." The muscular man clapped his hands together in front of him. "Please, young man, may I speak to your friend?"
Katsuki had so many questions, like why did All Might want Deku of all people, or how he'd gotten into this situation in the first place, but he ended up talking before thinking things over.
Inko expected to see Katsuki again. She sat by her son's hospital bed, reading him a book out loud. She didn't know if he could hear her or not, but she figured it wouldn't hurt to talk to him. Maybe he could actually hear her?
Katsuki never said much when visiting. He'd just sit and do nothing. He'd occasionally play with his phone or look out the window or flip through the TV channels, but he was mostly quiet.
He surprised her when he entered with All Might accompanying him.
"What… All… All Might…? Wah…" she didn't have time to register what was going on.
Katsuki and Inko stared in surprise as All Might dropped to his knees and bowed, slamming his head against the ground. The hospital floor cracked from the force.
"I know this is sudden, but I would like you to know that I deeply apologize for the misfortune and pain that I've caused."
Still stunned by what was happening, Katsuki kept his distance, while Inko panicked, unsure of what to do with this. Why was All Might here? Why was he apologizing? What was going on?
"A-A-All Might?" was the only thing Inko managed to stutter.
"I'm sure you have questions. Please, allow me to explain." And he did. Even after Inko offered him a seat, he kept bowing every few times. Katsuki stood with his back against the wall, arms folded as he watched the number one hero recall the few hours before Izuku's deathly jump. He kept his head bowed down. The room was silent as Inko took her time digesting his words.
"I am truly sorry. I know my words my not be enough, and I am willing to do whatever I can to help," All Might kept his head down. He didn't deserve to sit up. "Your son was reaching out to me that day, and I let him down. He was there to save his friend, when I couldn't get there in time. Your son's a bigger hero than I could ever be."
Inko pulled out another tissue from the tissue box next to Izuku's hospital bed. "It's not your fault," she told him calmly, wiping the silent tears from her eyes. "I'm sure Izuku wouldn't blame you. He… hadn't been doing well with the other kids at school, and I hadn't done much to help him."
Katsuki bit his lip, his fists tightening in his pockets.
"And I only added to his burden," All Might concluded. "I'm truly sorry. I had looked for him that day to thank him personally. I never imagined he'd be in this state." His eyes caught the sight of the motionless boy in the hospital bed, clad in nothing but a hospital gown and a thin white blanket.
That was the kid All Might had been searching for. That kid had the potential, the drive and the need to save others, to become the next symbol of peace, and All Might had contributed to this boy's downfall.
"Thank you," Inko said softly. "Izuku admires you. I'm sure he'd be very happy to know you cared this much for him."
"If this isn't much…" All Might, noticing his time was running out, pulled out a card containing his contact number. "I'd like to visit often. Once he wakes, is it alright for you to give me a call?" He handed her his card. "I would like to speak to him in person, if that is alright with you."
Inko gave him a kind smile and nodded. "I'm sure that'll make Izuku very happy."
"Thank you for your time." He gave her one last bow before leaving.
Walking home, Inko looked at the card again. Izuku had looked up to that man. Did he still look up to him after what All Might had said to him? She then remembered the name plate that had disappeared from Izuku's door. She knew All Might felt sorry, but the parental side of her couldn't help but be angry at the man.
All Might knew he'd made a mistake, and he wanted to fix it. But at the same time, her boy had gone through a lot. He'd endured so much, and she feared for his mental health. The doctor had assured her he'd wake up in his own time, but had admitted he was more worried about the boy's future.
Just because Izuku had failed to kill himself once, didn't mean he wouldn't try again later.
He needed professional help. He also needed her, now more than ever. If he didn't have friends to support him, then she'd be his friend. But… what if professional help wouldn't be enough? What if All Might's apology wasn't enough? What if he continued to be sad? What could she do for him, then?
Izuku was a wonderful boy. He deserved to be happy…
The chubby woman stopped when she saw a girl standing by her home door. It was late, and the sun had gone down. This girl didn't seem familiar. The brown haired girl messed with her phone with one hand, and twirled her finger through her hair with the other.
"Hello there," Inko greeted.
The girl gasped and almost dropped her phone. They looked at each other for a few seconds before the girl smiled nervously. "Oh… I, umm… I was looking for Deku's mom?" she explained, her words jumbling into each other in her hast. "Is this… is this where she lives? I'm sorry if I got the wrong place."
Inko blinked. Deku… that was what Katsuki called her Izuku… wait… "Oh, no, you're at the right place, sweetie. I'm Izuku's mother."
The girl's face brightened. "Oh, good!" She bowed as she introduced herself. "I'm Ochaco Uraraka. I'm Deku's friend!"
Ochaco didn't know what happened. One minute, she was bowing in front of the woman, and the next, she heard the woman wail before grabbing Ochaco in a tight hug.
"I'm… I'm sorry." Inko moved away and sniffed. She fished out her keys to open the door. "Come in, come in."
From the way the woman talked, and the way she cried those fat tears, Ochaco knew this was indeed Deku's mother.
"I'm sorry for the mess. I haven't had guests in a while," Inko said, placing a cup of tea in front of Ochaco.
"It's okay. You didn't know I was visiting. I didn't even know if I got the right address. I asked some of your neighbors, but I didn't get much luck," Ochaco admitted.
"I'm sorry I caused you trouble, sweetie." Inko took a seat, facing the younger girl. Ochaco saw the many similarities this woman shared with Izuku. The green hair, the sparkling eyes, the kindness, and the way the both tended to blame themselves and apologies over and over again.
"I've been spending more time with Izuku at the hospital then here at home," Inko explained sadly.
Ochaco caught on to her words. The hospital? Wait, then… "Is… Is Deku…?" She didn't know how to ask his mother without scaring her. "I mean… I heard what he did but… what happened to him after? Is Deku okay?" That was better than asking if he were dead or alive.
Inko looked down at the cup of tea in her hand. "Izuku's injuries have healed, but he's still in a coma. The doctor says he'll wake up on his own time."
Ochaco felt so relieved, she was ready to cry. He hadn't died. Her friend – Deku – was alive. He was still asleep, which explained why Izuku never left that world like she could. But that didn't explain her connection to him, or why that world existed in the first place.
"Can you… can you tell me which hospital he's at?" Ochaco asked hopefully. "I'm sorry I never got to visit. I didn't know where he was."
"I'm sure Izuku would love to hear from you." Inko smiled. "I'm glad he has a friend. I thought he was all alone. Tell me, how long have you known him?"
"Oh." Oh, great. How could she explain to his mother how she met Deku? "Not very long but… I know he's a good person and…" Ochaco remembered his words clearly: "I jumped out a window" He had intended to die. He felt cornered, and decided he had no other way to go but down. No one had offered to lend him a hand or two. If she had known him back then, would he still have done it?
"And…" she continued. "I want Deku to be happy. He… He did this because… because he was really sad and… I want to help him. I know I hadn't known him for very long… but he's a good friend and – and he's hurting and I can't just leave him." She would do everything for him. "I promise I'll help..." She just wanted him to be happy.
Inko reached across the table and held Ochaco's hand. "Thank you, sweetie." The woman had tears in her eyes. "I'm so glad Izuku has you. Please, take care of my son."
Ochaco smiled, swallowing a sob. "I will!"
"I'm alive?" Izuku asked in astonishment.
Ochaco nodded feverishly. "Yeah, you're mom said your all healed up. They think you'll wake up sometime. Isn't that great, Deku?"
They both walked side by side. The dream world never changed. It was always quiet, always white. At some point, they spotted two white swans swimming in the lake. They walked up a steep white hill.
"That's…" Izuku scratched his cheek. "That's great."
Ochaco wasn't fooled. He'd come to understand when he was nervous, shy, sad, and tried to hide it. With her hands behind her back, she tilted her head at him while walking by his side, their bare feet brushing the grass beneath them. "What is it, Deku? Don't you want to see your mom?"
"I do. It's just that… as long as mom is okay, I don't have anything to go back to, you know?"
"But… but Deku…" She frowned. He still didn't have a reason to go back to the real world.
"I know, it sounds stupid, but… aside from mom, I had nothing. I didn't have anyone."
"You have me now, Deku!" She blurted out, surprising him. "I… and your mom… she's really sad you're not with her. She stays with you in the hospital. I know I don't understand what you're feeling, Deku, but I wanna help. You're my friend, Deku! Please, let me help you!" she all but yelled in his face.
He stared into her teary eyes. "Uraraka…"
"Please!" she begged desperately. "If…" She fisted her white clothes, wrinkling the front of it. "If you need someone to talk to… or to listen to you, I'm here, okay? You're not alone anymore, okay?"
He felt himself blush, not believing how far this person was willing to go for him. "Uraraka…" A thank you wouldn't be enough to show his gratitude. All he managed to give her was a nod, and she flung herself at him.
The sudden hug sent him falling backward, taking her with him. While he yelped in surprise, she laughed as they rolled down the hill together, white grass getting into their hair. He hugged her close to his chest protectively, and she only giggled louder as she activated her quirk on the both of them to soften their landing.
They were still rolling while in midair, holding on to each other. When she was on top, she released her Quirk and fell on him. He caught her, just like the first time when he'd managed to catch her by the lake.
She gazed down at him. They both started blushing and giggling like little children.
"Ah… Al – Alright, alright," he laughed. "You win."
"Yay!" Her over exaggerated hype only caused them to giggle again. She rolled off of him, settling by his side. "Will you try with me, then, Deku?" Try to live, with me, for you, and for me.
Their fingers were intertwined. Looking up at the sky, he gave her hand a squeeze. "I'll give it a try again."
Inko guided Ochaco to Izuku's hospital room, when reaching his bed, Ochaco completely ignored the blond who sat by his bed. He looked relaxed, his eyes closed and his mouth half open. It was Deku. It was her Deku.
"Who the fuck is this?" Katsuki pointed a finger at Ochaco. She couldn't talk to him now. She was too busy marveling at the fact that this was her friend – the friend from her dreams.
"That' Izuku's friend," Inko told him calmly.
"What? Bullshit! Deku doesn't have friends!"
Ochaco ignored the commotion happening behind her and reached out to touch his hand. She was ready to cry.
"Deku…" She sniffed loudly, silencing the other two in the room. It was his hand, the same hand she held in her dreams. She turned his hand and saw a tiny wing-shaped mark on his palm, just like the one on hers. She looked down at the mark on her hand, then the one on his. Slowly, she placed her palm over his, holding his hand gently.
She could've sworn she saw light shine from between their fingers.
Izuku suddenly shifted his head to the side. His mother gasped.
"Deku…?" Ochaco whispered, her heart hammering in her chest.
His eyes slowly cracked open. Those familiar green eyes… it was him alright.
"Deku," she called again, tears fogging her vision. Even through the all of that water, she saw his bright eyes.
"U… Uraraka…?" His voice cracked from being unused for so long But he spoke. He knew her. He remembered her.
She suddenly hugged him. "Deku!"
"The fuck… no way…" that boy in the background was completely ignored.
"Izuku!" Inko screamed for him. Ochaco moved just in time before the chubby woman hugged her son. "Izuku!"
"Mom!" He was crying, too. They both were, and Ockaco felt her own tears fell.
Everything went so fast. She and the blond were escorted out so that he could be looked over. The mother refused to let go of her baby. The whole situation seemed so surreal.
"Hey, Round-Face," the blond called impatiently. "Hey, I'm talking to you."
Ochaco turned to face him. He looked… Oh! He was that kid Izuku had tried to save from the sludge villain. "Oh, hi! Are you Deku's friend?"
He looked taken aback by her friendliness. "Fuck no. And it's none of your business."
Ochaco cringed at how intimidating he looked.
"And why the fuck do you keep calling him Deku? Only I get to call that nerd that!" Katsuki pointed out.
"Oh, he let me!" she told him proudly. "Because Deku means 'do your best' now! And I know Deku will try his best." She held up her fist of her head, mimicking the motion of punching the sky. "And this time, he's not alone!"
Katsuki's eye twitched. "Who the fuck do you think you are? Listen here–" he jabbed a finger at her. "–Deku's my problem. Not yours, so stay out of this."
"Nope!" She declared, puffing out her cheeks.
"I already promised I'll help him."
"When did you – fine, but you're beneath me, got it?"
She didn't know what this kid's problem was, but if he was willing to help Deku, then she'd tolerate him.
A doctor passed by, his long hair triggered something in her memory. Where had she seen this person before?
The doctor tapped her. "Good work, kid."
"What… Who…?" Wait… She remembered. He was the guy who'd lost his wallet before. She tried to speak, but she only managed to point and stare like an idiot.
He chuckled, stopped just in front of Izuku's room. "Who? Well, I'm Izuku Midoriya's doctor, of course." He gave her a thumbs-up before pushing the door open and walking in, as if nothing happened. For a second, she could've sworn she saw an eye blink at her from his palm.
"Physical therapy?" Ochaco, sitting in the hospital chair, helped the nurse and Izuku with the food tray.
Izuku nodded. "Yeah. I haven't moved in a while. They want to make sure I'm strong enough to move on my own."
"Did they say for how long?"
"When I'm ready, I guess. Thanks," he thanked them for the food. "I also need to talk to a psychiatrist later. I have a lot of things to get sorted out."
Ochaco helped push up his bed so he could sit up properly. "Take as long as you need. You need time to get better."
"Oh, I forgot to ask. Uraraka, did you get accepted? For UA, I mean?"
"It's still too soon to tell." She spotted a letter by his bed.
Izuku looked at where she was looking. "Oh, that? Kacchan left it."
"That angry boy?"
He chuckled at her description. "Yeah, that's Kacchan. I… I guess he wanted to apologize so he wrote this." He took the letter in his hand. The lines were squiggly and there were ink splatters here and there. It was as if the angry boy at tried to stab the paper with the pen.
She gave him that little head tilt. Please elaborate.
He chuckled awkwardly. "Thanks, for… for looking for me, for finding Mom, for helping me… for everything."
The door opened. Inko peeked in.
"Hey mom." He waved at her.
Ochaco waved, too.
"You have a visitor. Uraraka, honey, is it okay if…?" Inko gestured for her to come over. Oh, so the person wanted to speak with Izuku alone
Ochaco said her goodbyes and promised to be back soon. She hadn't been expecting to see this in front of Izuku's room.
All Might stood strong and tall. He gave her a salute. "Evening, young lady." He stepped into Izuku's room and closed the door behind him. She was sure she heard Izuku stutter the name of the number one hero in front of him.
"It's… it's okay, really! All Might… what… - wait, just hold up! Eh… huh?"
She couldn't hear more as Inko gently led her away. "Come on, sweetie. Let's give them time."
"Ehhhhh? This… what do you mean?" came Izuku's scream, but his mother waved it off. Her son tended to overreact, just like her.
"Was…" Ochaco pointed with a shaky finger. "Was that All Might?"
"Yes, dear," Inko said, smiling kindly, as if seeing All Might there wasn't a big deal. They walked into the courtyard, and Izuku's doctor, Hachirou Yamato, watched from his office window.
Sitting his cup of coffee down, he looked at his open hand, the eye in his palm blinked at him innocently. "Well, turned out you're useful for something after all." Sighing, the white-haired doctor went back to his coffee, the eye closing shut as he held the cup again. "Dream-Linking, huh? Who knew that could save a life." He took a sip from his cup. "Well, he won't be killing himself again anytime soon." Yamato looked out the window. The older woman said something which caused the younger one to blush furiously.
He chuckled. "I hope you like your now friend."
Looking at the boy's mother and his new friend, Yamato knew Izuku Midoriya was in good hands.