“How did you do it?”
“That’s the wrong question. You should be asking ‘why.’”
His alarm clock blared at him, the red numbers glaring into his face as he turned with a groan. He weakly hit the snooze button, stretching out in his bed as he closed his eyes again. He could hear his mom downstairs, the clinking giving him a soft background noise that he could fall back asleep to.
“Good morning!” His mom’s voice rang out from the doorway suddenly, startling him back awake. She laughed cheerlily at his reaction as he almost fell out of his bed.
“Mo~om!” He rubbed his eyes with a yawn, legs tangled in his sheets.
She flicked on his lights, her soft laughter still filling the room. “Come on, Izu. You have to get ready for school, honey.”
Izuku peeked at her from under his blankets, hiding from the blinding light. “Do I have to?” He couldn’t keep the small smile off his face at how happy his mom looked.
“Yes, honey. You have to get your education.” She made her way over to him, gently tugging on his blankets until he relented and allowed her to pull them off. “I made breakfast,” she said softly, reaching down to smooth his hair back affectionately.
His stomach growled, letting him know that it was a good idea. “Alright…” He yawned again, smiling up at her. “I’ll meet you downstairs."
Inko leaned down to kiss his hair, pulling back a moment later. “I’ll be waiting.” With that she left the room, closing the door behind her so he could get ready for school.
He got out of bed lethargically and began making his bed with the same listlessness. Then Izuku made his way to the bathroom, taking care of his business in there and splashing a handful of cold water on his face in order to wake himself up. His school uniform was laid out on his chair where he had put it the night before. The scratchy material grated on his skin and made him wince slightly. Izuku searched his room for a moment before his eyes landed on his All Might backpack near his desk. He grabbed it and rested one of the straps on his shoulder as he made his way down the stairs.
His mom was in the kitchen, and the smell of breakfast hit him as he entered the room. He smiled at her, setting his bag down near the front door where he could grab it as he left. When he returned to his mom the food was sitting on the table, two plates and glasses of juice near it.
“I see you’re finally awake, Izu. I was worried that I would have to feed a zombie this morning.” Inko teased, sitting down at the table and patting the space he usually sat. “Come eat with your mother.” She doled out food onto both of their plates as he sat.
He smiled and clapped his hands, saying “itadakimasu” before he dug in.
Inko did the same over her own meal and ate slowly as they talked a little more. Finally she said “So my little man is turning eleven tomorrow!”
Izuku’s face turned red. “Y-yeah.”
His mom smiled softly at him, trying to relieve his embarrassment. “Is there anything special you’d like for dinner tonight?”
The answering grin was almost enough of a response. “Katsudon?” He asked, though he was already certain she would agree.
Inko laughed. “Of course. Anything for you, Izu.” She faced her son more fully. “Will you be helping me with dinner again?”
“Of course! I love helping you out, mom.” It was rare that he didn’t help. It mostly happened if he was busy with schoolwork, but he tried to make the time to cook with his mom as much as possible. His mom always spoiled him the day before his birthday, taking him out wherever he wanted to go and doing as many things with him as possible. Afterwards, they would have a special dinner the night before his birthday and the cake and presents on the actual day.
“I’ll need you to grab some groceries on your way home, then. I’ll text you a list later, and I’ll give you some money before you leave.” They both smiled excitedly at each other.
They finished eating quietly, only breaking the silence with the sound of their utensils on their plates. Once their plates were empty, they both clapped and said “Gochisosama.” Izuku stood afterward and helped his mom clean up before he double checked that he had all his supplies for school. He was almost out the door when his mom stopped him, and he could only smile as she gave him a kiss on the forehead. “Have fun at school, Izu.” She ruffled his hair just one more time and pinched his cheeks while he whined about being late, and waved to her son as he went out the door and trotted down the street.
As Izuku got to school there was still some time before class started, so he made his way to his usual spot under a tree. It had been there since his mom had gone to school and it was the only one in the yard that gave him the privacy he wanted. He sat down in its shade, taking out his notebook and writing his thoughts and analysis on the most recent up-and-coming heroes as the rest of his classmates arrived at school. His notes in the current book were mostly on Muscleman and Hacker. They were the two newest heroes and he absolutely adored their work; Muscleman had the ability to lift up to six times his weight (though the man was surprisingly small for his name) - while Hacker is able to control any and all electronics in their vicinity. After a while of getting lost in his notebook the warning bell rang, bringing him out of his writing. He scrambled to repack his stuff as he made his way to the classroom, bracing himself to face the day.
The homeroom teacher, Hata-sensei, greeted the class from the chalkboard as the students entered the room. “Good morning, everyone!” He said, his grey and squinty eyes glanced around the room as the last student entered.
“Good morning!” Izuku repeated with the rest of the class as he made his way to his seat, setting up his notebooks and pencils as the bell rang for class to begin. Hata-sensei did roll call and each student responded in the affirmative. When it was Izuku’s turn he could feel a pair of eyes on him, the hair on the back of his neck standing up as a shiver coursed through him. He glanced in the direction of the glare and his eyes caught those of his childhood friend: Bakugo Katsuki. When roll call finished, the class burst into subtle noise as the teacher started his lecture. Izuku kept his head down and silently, diligently, took notes in order to avoid Kacchan’s eyes.
Later when almost everyone left the room for lunch, Izuku took out his hero notebook, wanting to write more about the newest heroes. He was so absorbed in his writing that he didn’t notice the bully come up behind him, allowing Katsuki the chance to ignite his Quirk right next to Izuku’s face. As the skin of his ear seared, the loud sound made him nearly jump out of his seat. Katsuki’s other hand grabbed his notebook from his desk before he could recover and held it out of his reach.
The mocking voice was startlingly loud in the relatively quiet classroom. “The fuck is this? ‘Hero analysis for the future?’” Katsuki laughed in his target’s face, and Izuku watched as it morphed into a sneer. “What did I tell you about you becoming a hero?” His face darkened further as he took a threatening step towards the green haired boy. “That’s right, shithead; you can never become a hero. And yet here you are, with a book ‘for the future.’ Useless Deku. You’ll never have a future as a hero. Might as well make it easier to let go, huh?”
“Wait, Kacchan, please-” Izuku didn’t get to finish his plea as the other boy set off his Quirk. He heard the crack of explosives before he saw the book go up in flames, destroying his work. His eyes widened at the sight, his heart nearly stopping and body shaking with held back tears.
Katsuki tsked, annoyance stretching across his face. “Get the fuck outta here, shitty Deku. You’re an ugly-ass crier and I don’t wanna have to watch that shit.” He shoved Izuku out of his chair, using his Quirk to give the boy a jolt and searing his school clothes a bit.
Izuku scrambled to pick up the remains of his hero analysis book but didn’t dare open it for fear of it falling to pieces right there. He didn’t say a word as he grabbed his backpack and hurried his way out of the room, his ear still burning from where Kacchan’s Quirk had hit him, laughter following his retreat. His eyes brimmed with unshed tears.
He kept his head down and eyes on the floor as he trudged along the hallways. There was still a few hours left in school so he knew he wouldn’t be able to leave quite yet, but there weren’t any rules that said he couldn’t go outside at lunch. Izuku made his way to the tree he had sat underneath at the beginning of the day and let himself fall to the ground. The notebook was gently set on the grass before he wrapped his arms around his knees and pressed his forehead to the hard surface of his kneecaps. He sat there for a good few minutes, trying to calm down and think things through. Eventually he was able to pick his notebook back up and opened it gently. The front and back covers seemed to have taken the brunt of the damage, and a good portion of his notes were too illegible to read. The middle section was unscathed luckily, so he would only need to try to remember some of the notes, while the ones he still had could just be transferred to a new notebook.
The relief that flooded through him at the fact that not all of his work was gone was almost as overwhelming as the feeling that had chased him out here. He gently put the notebook into an isolated pocket of his bag for later before taking out his lunch. His stomach was still tied in knots from earlier, but even so he managed to choke down what he could. Izuku tried to think of ways to avoid Kacchan for the rest of the day, as well as trying to find a way to put his usual smile back on his face, while he ate.
He packed up his stuff and stretched out right before the warning bell for classes went off. The halls on the way back to the classroom were filled with students and Izuku could feel their eyes on his back, their judgemental whispers and mocking tones following him the rest of the way. The classroom was no different from the hallways. Everyone watched as he got into his seat and set up his belongings, keeping his hero analysis in his bag this time. Izuku knew what they were thinking. He also knew that only one person had the ability to say it out loud: he was Quirkless and he wouldn’t amount to anything. Even though the other students never said it, their looks spoke volumes. It got to him sometimes; the fact that no one believed in him.
It wasn’t long before Hata-sensei got the attention of the students once again and began his lesson. It took very little time for some of the other students to get bored and start talking amongst themselves, though not loud enough to warrant a reprimand from the teacher.
The rest of the day moved by slowly, the times in between the next few classes were spent trying to avoid Katsuki and his group. When the day finally ended, Izuku packed his bag as quickly as he could, fearing the worst if he took too long, and sped out of the room. He could feel his phone buzz in his pocket, signaling a message that he assumed was from his mother, but didn’t slow down until he was out of the school and down the road.
After a moment, he read the text and saw that it was indeed the list that his mother had told him she would send. The thought of her waiting for him at home made him smile. She always knew what to do to make him feel better, even if she hadn’t been able to do so when he had found out he was Quirkless. He couldn’t wait to get home and just pretend his days at school never happened.
He headed into their usual store, greeting the cashier by name. “Hi Satou-san. How’re your cats doing?” He asked politely, glad to see it was his favorite sales clerk.
After a quick conversation with the old woman, he purchased the food and began his trek back home, a happy smile on his face. The sting in his ear had dampened during his time in the store, and was now just a dull ache. Izuku felt his phone buzz in his pocket again and he stepped off to the side of the walkway to check the message. He had an app on his phone to let him know when hero fights were happening, so when he got the notification letting him know there was a fight nearby, he couldn’t help his large grin. Maybe if I get home quick enough, I can ask mom to let me go check out the aftermath at least. It is my birthday after all. He could feel the bounce to his step as he once again started walking home.
As he rounded the corner to his street, the first thing that caught his attention was the rows of people. He was short so he was unable to see above the rest of the crowd, but he could certainly hear the noises of a fight. Izuku made his way through the people who had stopped to watch a hero fight, trying to get to the front. It hadn’t even occurred to him that it was happening right there on his own street. Upon closer inspection, he could tell it was Endeavor facing off against an unknown villain. The man was the number two hero for a reason - he wasn’t as good as All Might. Izuku still had quite a few notes on the man, though. He was always out and about, making a name for himself. Even so, he reached for his hero notebook, only to remember its state.
Izuku tried to remember whatever he could see from the pro hero, noting the downsides to his Quirk as well as his strengths. It seemed the villain was giving him a run for his money - with her apparent fire suppressing Quirk. He had yet to figure out exactly what it was that she could specifically do, but he was certain it wouldn’t be long before he would be able to figure it out. Time seemed to slip by as he watched, and his phone buzzing in his pocket didn’t register until he saw the apartments on the street beginning to catch fire. Izuku paused, watching distantly as - one after the other - the residencies began to heat up. His mind was jumbled, and only brought back to reality as his phone buzzed again. He quickly took it out of his pocket and felt his heart jump to his throat once he caught sight of the missed calls and texts from his mother. There were a few voicemails, but most were texts trying to get his attention.
Izuku, where are you?
I’m worried, Izu! Please respond.
There’s a fight outside the apartment. I can’t get out.
Please text me back, hon. I want to make sure you’re okay.
Izuku! Please reply! I need to know you’re okay!!
Honey, don’t come home. Whatever you do, don’t come home, please.
There were many more just like that, and Izuku could feel his throat constricting more as he read each. He tried to reply to the messages, but his hands were shaking too badly. He had finally noticed that his own apartment complex was up in flames, and based on what his mom had texted him, she wasn’t able to get out. He glanced up at the fight, horror dawning on him. Endeavor was still battling the villain, not noticing the devastation that his Quirk brought upon the apartments. Izuku didn’t even notice that his feet began to move until he felt a hand keeping him back.
“Wh-what-” he turned back, eyes catching sight of another hero with their hand on his shoulder. It took a moment to recognize them in his haze, but once he did, he realized it was one of the newer heroes, Muscleman.
The hero looked down at him, keeping him from running off. “Don’t be reckless kid. You’ll get hurt if you go in there.”
“But… My mom-” Izuku said, his eyes starting to water.
“It’s going to be okay, kid. I’m sure she’ll be fine.” Muscleman interrupted him and gently squeezed his shoulder, trying to push Izuku back into the crowd.
“No! She - she texted me a few minutes ago. She said she couldn’t get out! She’s in one of the apartments! Please, you have to save her!” He yelled out, feeling tears fall down his cheeks as he struggled against Muscleman’s hold.
The man frowned, looking between Izuku and the fight in front of them. “I’m sorry, kid, there’s nothing I can do right now. There’s too much going on at the moment, and I don’t have the Quirk to get past the fire.”
Izuku was bawling by that point, his sobs making his words hard to understand. “No- but you can’t- she needs- she needs help! Please!” He hiccuped harshly, fingernails scratching at the arm holding him back. “I need to save her!”
“Woah, hold on there,” Muscleman held onto him tightly, refusing to let the young kid run headfirst into danger. “Other pros will be here soon, okay?”
“No! I need to see her now! She’s worried!” He was still attempting to pull away from the hero, tears streaming down his cheeks as he looked between the hero holding him and the apartment building where his mother would be. “She could be hurt!” Izuku sobbed out, his heart beating quickly at the thought of his mom in their small apartment, alone and afraid.
Muscleman picked Izuku up off the ground to keep the kid from continuing his efforts to get away. “I know it’s hard. They’ll be here soon, I promise.”
‘Soon’ wasn’t quick enough in Izuku’s mind. He kept struggling against the hero holding him, kicking and screaming. “No! They’ll be too late!”