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A wallflower's thorns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It felt a lot like victory.

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where did he come from?!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What.

Chapter Text


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Han doesn't give up. Izuku does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Han just purrs louder.


-----


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

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

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

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

His foot catches on air.

Fuck.

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

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

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

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

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

"Deku."

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Maybe today will be good after all.


-----


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

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

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

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

"H-help!"

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

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

The bot takes another earth shaking step.

He tries to lift the debris, no luck.

Another step.

He can't get her out.

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

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

One for All.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait, that means-

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

Izuku feels faint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text


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

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

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

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

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

Way to make friends, Bakugou.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And with them?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You shit!"

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

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

Izuku, nursing his broken finger, grins.


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Maybe he's shy." Izuku suggests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chapter Text


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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

"Midoriya, right?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Deku!"

-Or he's dead.

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He has to do something about this. Soon.


-----


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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You stayed rather calm the whole time."

"You were so cool!"

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Good, now try to turn it off."

Izuku blinks. "Huh?"

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

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

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

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

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

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


------


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Izuku blinks. "Really?"

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

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

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

Well, that's one way to describe Bakugou.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Of course, I love you."

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

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


-----


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

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


Received 4:30 pm.
Sender: Uraraka
Hey Midoriya! There's a movie playing at 7 tonight at the mall, wanna come? I'm tryin to get Iida to come too but he's being boooring and saying we see some documentary instead.

Received 4:31 pm.
Sender: Iida
Uraraka has invited me to see a movie with the two of you. I will accept, of course, but I think that watching a documentary will be a much more educational way to spend our free time.


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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wordlessly, Izuku nods, still rubbing his head.

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

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

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

Izuku leans in close, so does All Might.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His phone buzzes.


Received: 12:30 pm
Sender: Uraraka
Where are u?


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


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


Received 12:31 pm
Sender: Uraraka
Ok but why??


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

Han bops him on the nose.


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"See?"

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

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


-----


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But what about Eraserhead?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Midoriya!"

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

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

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

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

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

"But-"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Text

Izuku wakes up in a bed. This in itself isn't out of the ordinary, except Izuku remembers passing out on the USJ floor, exhausted and scared and happy to be alive. Now he's in a bed. Excuse him if he's a bit confused.

"Ah, you're awake." The grandmotherly voice of Recovery Girl says. Izuku cranes his neck to look at her. Bags hang heavy under her eyes, and more than a few strands of hair are out of place. She looks like exhaustion itself. “That’s good. The other teachers were beginning to worry.”

Izuku swallowed, “Am I going to get another lecture?”

Recovery Girl sighs, “I want to give you one, I really do. But if you hadn’t stepped in, there’s no telling how badly Mineta and Asui could have been hurt. Not to mention All Might.” She puts her clipboard down and fixes him with a stern stare, “Just this once, you’re lecture-free.”

Izuku sighs in relief, then realizes part of what the nurse just said. “All Might?” He sits up further despite of the wooziness that washes over him, “Is he okay? Is he in a hospital? Is he-“

A voice speaks up from the bed beside him. “My boy, your worrying is going to wake me up.”

“Sorry.” Izuku apologizes, then realizes that he knows that voice. He turns around to see All Might looking more like a walking bandage than a man. “All Might!”

The hero cracks open an eye to look at him. His mouth pulls into a smirk. “Hello, young Midoriya.” He closes his eye and sighs. “I did a real number on myself back there. How’s it on your end?”

Izuku gives himself a quick once over. His right arm is in a cast, plain white plaster catching in the setting sunlight and making him squint. His legs seem fine though, which’s a miracle in itself, really. He still remembers how it felt to have his legs flop around like his bones were jello. To be fair, with the stunt he pulled he pretty much did turn them to paste. “Uh, not too bad.” He purses his lips, “I can walk?”

All Might puffs out a laugh. “Well, that’s more than what I can say.” They share a weak laugh at that.

Recovery girl looks between the two of them and sighs. “You, mister,” She points an accusing finger at All Might, “are a horrible influence. I pulled up Midoriya’s medical record from before he entered Yuuei. Do you know how many broken bones he had before he came here?”

Izuku probably should save his mentor from the incoming rant, but the dizziness gets to be too much and he plops back into bed. Maybe All Might will avoid it without Izuku’s help. Either way, he listens to the conversation and shuts his eyes. He can’t see anything, but All Might sounds sheepish when he answers.

“...Two?”

He hears the smack of a clipboard hitting a desk. “None! Not a single broken bone! And in the few weeks he’s been here, he’s broken over half the bones in his body!”

Yikes. Izuku hasn’t put much thought into that before. He hopes his mom doesn’t know-

“Mom!” He exclaims as he shoots up in bed. “Does she know-“

“Principal Nedzu called her himself to update her on your condition.” Recovery Girl soothes, guiding him into lying back down with a gentle hand. “It’s almost seven, now that you’re awake, you’ll be able to go home.” She shoots a look to All Might, “I can’t say the same for you, however.”

All Might gives Izuku a weak smile, “I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to our morning training. I’m sorry, my boy.”

Of all the things for his mentor to be worrying about. “Don’t be, you need to recover after fighting that...” his words peter off at the memory of the hulking beast All Might has beaten at the USJ. That thing would’ve torn anybody else limb from limb, it came close to that with Eraserhead. He doesn’t want to see something like that thing ever again. “I can handle a raincheck.”

All Might gives him a strange look. “You’re a good kid, Midoriya.” He makes a shooing gesture when Izuku splutters at the statement. “Go on, your mom must be worried sick about you. I’ll be fine.”

Recovery girl gives Izuku a once-over before clearing him. She hands him a bag of strawberries and tells him to be careful. Izuku’ll have to ask where she gets all the fruit from sometime. For now though, he just smiles, thanks her, and bids the two heroes a good night.

After the general insanity of the day, the walk home is peaceful, eerily so. Izuku keeps expecting someone to jump out and attack him or something. He tries to calm himself down, if someone tried it, he reasons, he could take them, even with his cast. It works to a degree, but he still feels relieved when he spots his apartment complex.

Han’s sitting on the armrest of the couch when Izuku opens the door. He hops off and rushes to him, rubbing against his pants and letting out a loud meow. In spite of the day, as terrible as it’s been, Han makes him smile. “Hey, bud.” He says, crouching down and scratching the cat’s chin. Han nudges at his cast in curiosity, “That’s for my arm, Han, I need it until tomorrow. You’ll get plenty of pets when I come home.” Han doesn’t seem to like the idea of one-handed pets instead of two, but licks the fingers poking out of his cast anyways.

“Izuku? Are you home?” He hears mom come down the hallway and stands up just as she appears. He has two seconds before he’s wrapped up in a hug. He can smell his mother’s shampoo as her shoulders shake. “Honey,” she’s barely holding it together, “tell me you’re alright? Nothing’s hurt?”

Izuku smiles weakly, “I’m fine mom. Besides the cast, I’m fit as a fiddle.” He manages to wrap his non-casted arm around her, “I’m sorry for making you worry.”

His mom sniffles, “You should be!”

Izuku’s the most awful son in the world, worrying his mom like this. The worst part is that he knows he’s going to keep doing it. He can’t just stop now, he’s come too far. Still, he laughs, because no matter what he can always count on her caring about him. “What’s for dinner?” He asks, peeling away from his mom. “I’m starving.”

They haven’t gone on their weekly grocery trip yet, the fridge looks sad when it’s that empty. Mom ends up re-heating leftovers. They eat in front of the TV, some soap opera mom’s been obsessed with lately. He laughs at the funny parts, gasps at the not-so-surprise twists, and in general relaxes after what can be safely considered a shit day. His elbow brushes his mom’s every over moment, and the constant reassurance that she’s there and this isn’t some weird coma-dream he made up in his head is more comforting than it should be.

It’s around ten when he turns in for the night. Han follows him down the hall and makes it into his room right before Izuku closes the door. “You’re going to crush your tail one day,” he tells his cat, “and it’s going to be your fault but you’ll still blame me.” Han gives a single, slow blink before contorting himself to lick his hind legs. “Great. Glad we cleared that up.”

His bed is absurdly comfortable when he plops down on it. He exhales and looks at the ceiling, his thoughts buzzing around in his head. Shigaraki had called him a Rogue, a reference to D&D - which existed before Quirks, and only grew more complex afterwards. Even thinking about the man’s hand-covered face makes goosebumps run down his arm.

He could have died today. His classmates could have died. All Might could have died. But nobody did, well, not yet, Eraserhead’s still in critical condition. He hadn’t been in the infirmary when Izuku woke up — he had to be in a proper hospital. Either that, or the morgue.

Izuku stops that train of thought and sits up with a groan. His laptop’s on the desk, he grabs it and sits back on the bed. The screen almost blinds him when he turns it on, he has to squint until he logs on and turns the brightness down. He clicks the file he has labeled as “Suspicious Things” and scrolls through the many, many subfiles he’s made. He selects on the one he’d made after the security breach at school, the one with the dusty footprints and the alley he’d found them in. He opens a word doc and begins to type.

Things just got a lot more complicated.


——


“That fucking Rogue,” Shigaraki mutters, glaring at the wall, “Has made things a lot more complicated. We could have had All Might’s head on a silver platter, his guts splayed on the floor for everyone to see. But noooooo—“ he throws his hands up in annoyance, “A prepubescent chia pet blasts us across the USJ with a punch. It’s bullshit!”

Everything had been going to plan at first. They arrived, Thirteen was put out of commission, Eraserhead was as good as dead. Then give a green haired brat five minutes and suddenly it all goes to hell. It wasn’t even Shiagarki’s fault! The kid just showed up out of nowhere and decked him. It was a pretty solid hit, too, popping his jaw back into place had hurt like a bitch. The bruise is pretty ugly, mottled purples and angry reds with sickly yellow ringing the borders.

“I was unaware that UA allowed their students to carry tasers.” Kurogiri comments, taking out a bottle of strong alcohol and pouring himself a glass. “Perhaps it would be wise for me to invest in something plastic instead of metal.”

Ugh, the taser. Shigaraki rubs his sore side and growls, the ache of it still lingering. “Kid’s fucking scrappy. If he wasn’t a little goody-two-shoes hero wannabe, I’d think of recruiting him.” And what a sight that would have been. If that kid had been more ruthless, a bit less moral, it would have been game over. The thought makes his fists clench and creak under the pressure.

“No point in thinking of the ‘what if’s.” Kurogiri tells him, “Sensei will want to speak with you about the recent developments.” And with eerie timing, the tv, which the bartender moved to the side of the room, flickers on with a crackle.

“I understand that things went sideways.” A distorted voice buzzes, belonging to the nondescript shadow showing on the screen. “What happened, Shigaraki?”

Shigaraki scrambles over to the TV screen, eager to take in his Sensei’s advice. Sensei will help him fix this annoying Rogue problem. He’ll make everything as it should be, and Shigaraki can go back to killing the symbol of peace. “Sensei, there was a cheater at the USJ.” He bares his teeth, teeth grinding against each other, “He ruined everything! I want his head on a pike!”

Sensei cocks his head to the side, considering. “He? A single person did this?”

Shigaraki nods, “A first-year brat with green hair and a Quirk like All Mights.” He omits how the little bastard got the drop on him and the taser he used. Sensei would be disappointed as it is, the shame that coils in Shigaraki at the thought makes him scratch frantically at his neck. “He ruined everything, Sensei.”

Sensei‘s voice, distorted as it is, takes a pondering tone. “A Quirk like All Might’s, hm?” The shoulders of the figure on the screen begin to shake. Sensei’s laughter fills the bar, raspy and static, with a tinge of surprise. “It appears that you have a new player on the field, Shigaraki. I recommend that you step your game up, or he might overtake you.”

Shigaraki growls at the mere suggestion of it. “I swear, Sensei, I will kill that brat myself.” His lips pull into a smile, chapped skin cracking, “In front of All Might, if I can help it.”

The figure laughs again, more subdued. “Good luck, Shigaraki.” Sensei bids, “I’ll be watching.” The screen flickers off, leaving Shigaraki and Kurogiri alone in the bar.

Shigaraki touches the screen with reverence, pinky raised to keep it from disintegrating. “I wont disappoint you, Sensei.”


——


Izuku goes to the school’s gym out of habit. The sun hasn’t even peaked over the horizon when he arrives. All Might’s still in the nurse’s office, Izuku’d have to be a new level of asshole to expect the man to train him today. Leftover grogginess clings to his eyes as his feet crunch fallen leaves on the sidewalk. He pauses near the gym entrance, surprised to see a familiar face standing at the front doors.

“You were almost late.” Gran Torino huffs, his arms crossed and his lips pulled into a small scowl. “What, you thought that since Toshinori’s out of commission you can slack off?”

Izuku thinks on his answer, eyeing Gran Torino’s walking stick warily. He makes sure to stay out of whacking distance when he says, “No, sir. I wasn’t planning on slacking off. I don’t want All Might to push himself, so I was planning on training alone today.”

Gran eyes him for a moment then scoffs, uncrossing his arms. “Well, at least you got work ethic.” He pushes the door open with a hand, “Get in. You’re training, but it’s not gonna be alone.”

If Izuku thought Gran had been tough in the last few training sessions, he didn’t know jack, cause the elderly hero cranked the usual routine up to eleven. He’s on his feet for fifteen seconds at most before he’s knocked on his ass. Gran is a blur, zipping from wall to wall in bursts of air. It’s stressful the first few times, trying to keep up, but stress turns to frustration soon enough. He’s getting creamed and he can’t even land a hit, much less a decent one.

“Come on, boy!” Gran yells at him, “Get in gear and use that Quirk of yours!”

Get in gear. Gee, why hadn’t Izuku thought of that? No time for snark though, he just barely dodges the next attack. There’s a split second where Gran’s back is turned, his eyes not on Izuku. That’s when notice-me-not comes up and he sidesteps the rebound leap the older hero makes. Gran falters when he can’t see his target but doesn’t stop moving. Izuku can’t help the grin on his face.

“Try channeling One for All into your hand.”

The memory comes from nowhere, a sudden appearance that gives Izuku an epiphany. Keeping notice-me-not up as he charges One for All up is a challenge, like trying to both hold water and let it trickle out without spilling. His unbroken hand starts to hum, and he can see the red veins of pure energy hiding under his skin. It’s nowhere near the amount he feels when he goes all out, not by a long shot, but it should be enough to end the training exercise. His eyes struggle to keep up with Gran, but once he has an idea of where the hero will be next, Izuku rushes forward and throws a punch.

It’s strange to feel how fast Izuku’s fist goes, like it’s lighter than the world around it, but it doesn’t matter. Gran manages to maneuver away at the last second, leaping to the wall across from Izuku. He doesn’t jump back to him, instead, he lands on the floor. “Well,” He huffs, dusting his hands, “took you long enough to figure it out.”

Izuku stays where he is, staring at the old hero while trying to catch his breath. “You were waiting for me to use notice-me-not.” He says, standing to his full height and examining his hand, unbroken, thank God.

Gran doesn’t confirm or deny it, “You’ve got a unique combo of Quirks, kid.” He says, coming towards Izuku and poking him on the chest. “Most of the heroes these days rely on flashy Quirks and heavy hits, but all the power in the world doesn’t mean jack if you can’t even hit your opponent.”

Izuku thinks back to yesterday, when he hit Shigaraki without One for All. He doesn’t doubt that if it wasn’t for notice-me-not, his hand would have been disintegrated for his effort. “I think I understand. You think I should combine notice-me-not and One for All more often.”

His response makes the older man lower his head and grin. It’s one of the few times Izuku’s seen Gran smile. “Well son of a gun,” he chuckles, “He can be taught.” The amusement fades from his voice, “Come on, we’re doing that two more times then getting you to Recovery Girl so you can get that cast off.”

Izuku’s starting to see just why All Might’s afraid of this tiny man. He doesn’t want to earn the hero’s ire though, so he groans and does as Gran says. It’s going to be a really long day.


——


Naomasa’s been friends with Toshinori for a while. It’s a good thing, too, because he’s not sure if anyone else would be able to keep up with the sheer amount of nonsense the hero gets into. Taking down a villain or two? Sure, fine, ok, Naomasa sees that five times before breakfast. Helping an old lady cross the street? Also fine, he’s seen Toshinori spend actual hours of daytime doing that.

Using up his time limit before the school day begins, then using 110% fighting a literal behemoth? Not okay.

“You’re an idiot.” He reminds his friend. The nurse’s office is mercifully empty, no other students to see Toshinori’s true form. Naomasa’s sitting on a chair he’d dragged from Recovery Girl’s waiting room, giving his friend the best unimpressed look he can manage. “A bona-fide, grade-A idiot.”

Toshinori at least has the consideration to look sheepish. “Good to see you too, old friend.” He wheezes, giving an apologetic smile. “If it makes it any better, I only did it because I had to.”

“It doesn’t.” Naomasa replies, “Toshi, I read the accounts the students gave, you were almost murdered. Nothing about that is okay.” There’s been times, in his years of work, where a coworker’s been taken down before his eyes. One moment they’re alive, by his side and ready, then they’re on the ground, loosing blood too fast for the paramedics to save them. He knows all too well what a thousand-yard-stare looks like.

In all honesty, seeing them die isn’t even the worst part, it’s telling the loved ones. Watching the denial spread across their face, listening to the whispered “oh God”s and having only an “I’m sorry for your loss” to offer. Toshinori doesn’t have any family left, not to Naomasa’s knowledge. There wouldn’t be any people to tell. That’s what scares him the most. “You don’t get to risk your life like this every time you fight a strong villain, Toshi.”

“The students could’ve been killed if I didn’t—!”

“—I am not disputing that.” Naomasa interrupts, “But if it wasn’t for your successor, you’d be dead right now, Toshi. I don’t want to have to bury you.” The “too” is left unsaid.

The fight fizzles out of Toshinori, leaving him laying in his bed with a tired look in his eyes. “I’m sorry, old friend.”

“Yeah,” Naomasa sighs, “I’m sorry, too.” They both look to the door when they hear a knock.

“All Might?” The voice is juvenile, a tad nervous. “Are you in here? I need to get my arm fixed.”

Naomasa looks at Toshi with a strange expression. His friend motions for him to open the door. He does, but makes sure that he blocks the sight of his friend with his body.

It’s a first year, one with green hair and a nervous set to his mouth. He’s in damp gym clothes and has a bag strewn over his shoulder. He stiffens when Naomasa opens the door, “Uh, hello. R-recovery Girl told me to come in before school so I could get this cast off—“ He interrupts himself, realizing something, “Uh, is there anyone else in here with you? Because I don’t know if you’re allowed—“

“It’s fine, my boy.” Toshinori says from behind Naomasa, “He’s an old friend. He knows.”

The way the kid’s shoulders droop is almost comical. “Oh. Er, may I come in?”

Naomasa steps to the side. He watches the kid walk in with interest, categorizing the little details out of habit. The kid’s small, but not the smallest high-schooler Naomasa’s seen. The shoulder-strap bag has a uniform peeking out, wrinkled, but clean. There’re bags under his eyes, dark, but not dark enough to indicate insomnia. All in all, he wouldn’t stand out much amongst other students, but something was eerily familiar.

Naomasa pulls a chair up to Toshinori’s bedside, letting the kid take a seat. If he’d had his hat on, he would have taken it off to introduce himself. “Hello, I’m Tsukauchi Naomasa, and you are...?”

“Midoriya Izuku.” Midoriya sits down and leans forward. “How do you know All Might?”

The kid sounds like he’s a father interrogating his child’s boyfriend, Naomasa wants to laugh but refrains. “I’ve known Toshinori here,” he nods in his friend’s direction, “for about ten years, over half your lifetime.”

“He’s a detective,” Toshinori adds, “You were unconscious, but he was there at the USJ.”

It clicks in Naomasa’s head. He’s seen Midoriya before — bloody, bruised, and three limbs looking like skin was the only thing keeping them from leaking goop. A day later and the boy sits in front of him, relatively intact and chatting with Toshinori.

Recovery girl comes back in, brightening when she sees Midoriya. “You’re right on time, dear. Come, come,” She motions for the boy to come over, “Let me heal your arm, then we’ll get that cast off.”

Naomasa couldn’t hope to hold a conversation over the the buzz of a saw cutting plaster. “I’ll tell you more when you get out of here.” He says to Toshi, grabbing his hat from the hat rack and giving a nod to the other occupants of the room. “It was nice seeing you again, Recovery Girl. And Midoriya—“ the kid looks up with wide eyes, “—try not to break any more bones this week.”

Midorya gives a weak smile in response. “No promises.”

Naomasa manages to exit right as Recovery Girl devolves into a rant about developing a sense of self-preservation. He and she both know it won’t work, people like Midoriya and Toshinori just can’t stand by when people are in trouble. In all honesty, Naomasa’s a tad relieved his friend has someone equally reckless invested in his wellbeing. Either they’ll help each other stay out of too much trouble, or they’ll end up enabling each other. For the sake of Japan, Naomasa hopes it’s the former.


——


Notice-me-not is a godsend sometimes. Right now, navigating through a crowd of students to reach his class on time is one such instance. He ducks and weaves and dodges until the classroom comes into sight. After that, it’s a clear shot to the door.

Izuku looks at the door like it has teeth. “Okay,” he whispers, “no notice-me-not. No notice-me-not. Gonna walk in and just...let myself be seen.” Easier said than done. He shuts his eyes tight and pushes the door open, holding his breath as he passes through the doorway.

He spends approximately point-five seconds in the classroom before Uraraka turns, sees him, then barrels into him. “Oh my God!” She cries, spinning Izuku around until he felt dizzy. “You’re okay!” She lets go to clasp him on the shoulder and announce, “Guys! He’s okay!” The resulting swarm makes Izuku wish he’d forsaken his resolution not to use notice-me-not.

Kirishima is at the forefront of the crowd. He grins and gives Izuku a thumbs-up. “Hey, man! Good to see you, you know, conscious!”

“Yeah,” Izuku laughs nervously, his hands are shaking, he puts them behind his back. “I’m glad to be conscious, too.” The people around him laugh like he’s said something funny.

Kaminari slides up next. “Jeez, Izuku, you’ve been holding out on us. Tasing a villain?” He puts his hands on his hips and shakes his head, “I didn’t think you had it in you, but damn did you prove me wrong!”

Izuku swallows, “H-how do you know that?”

Uraraka, who hasn’t left his side, raises her hand with a sheepish expression. Izuku stares at her in disbelief. “Everyone was scared for you.” She explains, “I thought if i told them what you did they’d feel a bit better.”

Kamrinari nods vigorously, “Yeah. They had to take you in an ambulance, man. Your legs were...not good. But hearing what you did?” He holds a fist to his chest, “A badass like that can’t stay down for long.”

Badass. Of all the things for his classmates to call him. Still, Izuku needs to get to his seat. “I’m sorry guys, can we talk about this later? Class is about to start.” It gets him a few grumbles, but to his relief, everybody listens.

“I think you were really brave.” Uraraka tells him as she takes her seat next to him, “I was too scared to do anything, but you...you kept your cool.”

Izuku thinks back to every fight-or-flight instance in his childhood. Over time, he had learned to stop freezing entirely. It’s helpful, he won’t deny that, but he wishes the circumstances for the skill weren’t what they are. “I’ve had a lot of practice in tense situations.”

Uraraka sighs, leaning her head on her hand and looking forwards, “I wanna be like that, too.”

In a moment of pure daring, he reaches a hand forward to pat Uraraka’s shoulder, “You’ll get there. We’re all still learning.” The grateful smile he gets in return is more than worth the anxiety.

The class door opens, revealing a man covered in casts. Izuku wouldn’t be able to tell who it is if it wasn’t for the capture tools wrapped around the man’s neck and the still visible messy hair. His stomach twists at the reminder of yesterday, how his teacher’s head sounded being slammed into the concrete. He possibly wouldn’t have an arm right now if Eraserhead hadn’t stopped Shigaraki, and this is the result of his actions.

“Morning, class.” Aizawa says, he sounds like he’s speaking through a pillow. “I understand that many of you were concerned for me after the USJ, but I am perfectly capable of teaching you in my current state.”

Izuku doesn’t want to doubt the man who saved his arm, but he‘s skeptical that Aizawa can reach the top shelf right now, much less keep sixteen-plus teenagers in line. He’s proven wrong when the class falls silent at a single look. Good to know that even ninety-percent covered in bandages, Aizawa is still as nerve-wracking as usual. Izuku jerks in surprise when he feels a piece of paper bump into his back. He turns to see Todoroki, holding a piece of paper out with his usual blank face. The teen pokes him with the paper again, and Izuku takes it.

It’s a flashcard, pristine and white save for the blue pen writing “are you okay?” On the top right.

Izuku stares at the words and swallows. Nervous, he pens a reply. “I’m fine, how are you?” Jesus, he’s making small talk of a villain attack. Izuku holds the card behind his back before he can regret writing back. The weight vanishes from his hand for a moment, then is returned.

“I’m fine, too. Why do you keep breaking your limbs?”

It’s so blunt Izuku stares at it, trying to form a response. “I’m a late-bloomer,” he eventually writes, “I haven’t had a lot of time to practice with it, so there are a lot of accidents.”

The note’s passed, and then it comes back.

“If you define that as an ‘accident’, I’d hate to see what you describe as a disaster.”

Izuku snorts and is in the middle of his reply when Uraraka peeks over his shoulder. “Watcha writing?” She leans back when Izuku jumps in surprise.

“N-nothing!” He whispers, covering the flashcard with his forearm. “Just practicing...calligraphy.”

“But I saw two different handwritings.”

“I’m comparing it to my usual handwriting.” Izuku lies hastily, growing redder and redder the longer Uraraka stares at him. He feels dread form when she smiles, coy.

“Oh, I get it.” She winks and turns back to her notebook, “Good luck.”

Izuku turns scarlet and sighs, leaning on his hand and scratching his head. Well, at least she’s leaving him alone. He uncovers the flashcard and finishes what he’s writing.

“Total disaster would be me talking in front of a crowd. I’m nervous just writing it.” He hands the note to Todoroki then flinches when a paper ball collides with his head.

“Stop fucking passing notes.” Bakugou growls, “This isn’t elementary school.”

Yeah, because in elementary school Bakugou made a game of hunting Izuku down. Still, Izuku doesn’t take the flashcard again, not even when Todoroki presses it against his back like before. He shuts the sensation out and focuses on his notes, not the embarrassment of being called out by the blond.

First period shifts into second, then third, then fourth, until the lunch bell rings and everyone stands up to leave. Uraraka pokes Izuku’s shoulder as she throws her backpack over her own. “Man,” she says, walking down the hall with him, “You were in a note-taking zone.”

“Yeah,” He agrees without thought, “I guess I’ve had practice.”

Iida’s already at their usual spot when Izuku and Uraraka arrive. His lunchbox is placed politely in his lap as he waits for them to sit down. “I didn’t have the chance to ask,” he begins, “But are you okay, Midoriya?”

“Uh, yeah. Recovery Girl healed me fully before class started.” Izuku holds his now cast-free arm up for inspection.

Iida shakes his head, “That is not what I was asking about.” He adjusts his glasses and clears his throat, “You see, my brother is a pro hero himself, and in my time living with him, I have noticed that certain events leave...impressions on people. So I was not inquiring on your physical health, but rather your mental health.”

“Oh,” Izuku blinks, “well, I guess it hasn’t really hit me yet that I could have died.” It took a week the first time, after the slime villain. He’d been training with All Might, swimming laps in the local pool. Having his head submerged, unable to breathe? It brought up some bad memories. All Might had to spend thirty minutes calming him down on the bleachers. ”So much was happening at once, there wasn’t any time to worry about it.”

Iida nods, satisfied with the answer, “Well, when it does ‘hit you’, please let someone know. Becoming a hero doesn’t only mean you have to build up you physical state, but you mental fortitude as well.”

Izuku hesitates before nodding, “Yeah. I will.” He smiles, “Thanks, Iida.”

Uraraka interrupts them by elbowing him in the side. “Look! Todoroki’s coming over here!” She hisses, pointing a subtle finger at the incoming classmate. And indeed, Todoroki is heading their way.

Izuku gulps and focuses on his food. Maybe Todoroki isn’t heading their way at all, maybe he’ll change course. Maybe—

“May I sit with you?”

Welp, toss that assumption out the window. Izuku looks up and accidentally meets Todoroki’s eyes. The other boy is composed as always, lunchbox in hand and an indifferent expression on his face. Izuku thinks he can spot apprehension in Todoroki’s posture, but that has to be him projecting...right?

Uraraka answers for them all, giving Todoroki a winning smile. “Feel free!” She scoots to the left, leaving a space between her and Izuku. This freaking traitor, Izuku sends a quick look of betrayal her way, but she just gives him a thumbs up.

He shuffles his food to the side, letting Todoroki put his own lunchbox down. He takes a seat and suddenly Izuku’s entirely too self aware of where his limbs are, how close they are to Todoroki’s own. Come on, Izuku, pull it together. He swallows to wet his dry throat. “That looks good.” He comments, referring to the bento Todoroki pulls out of his lunchbox. It’s very neat, the rice modeled to look like a snowman and a piece of seaweed acting as a scarf. An egg is placed to the side, as is a note reminding Todoroki to have a good day. It’s signed by someone named Fuyumi.

Todoroki looks at the bento, considering what Izuku said, “My sister makes them for me.” He says, grabbing his chopsticks, “She’s a teacher, I guess the habit bleeds into her cooking.”

Izuku takes a bite of his sandwich and makes a weak sound of agreement. His entire body feels like nervous energy, buzzing and itching to do something. He gives in and takes out his sketchbook. A piece of his sandwich still in his mouth, he takes out a pencil and starts doodling. The feeling of graphite on paper soothes his nerves, and he doesnt realize what he’s drawing until Todoroki comments on it.

“That’s very realistic.” He says, looking at the cartoonish face of Bakugou with explosions for eyes, sharp teeth, and spitting fire.

Uraraka laughs, “You should see the drawings he actually spends time on.” She tells him, “He has this one of a bird, it’s one of my favorites.”

Iida, not one for talking with food in his mouth, finishes chewing before he adds his piece. “Personally, my favorite is the cat.”

Todoroki cocks his head, “Cat?”

“Oh yeah!” Uraraka lights up, “Midoriya likes to draw this cat with one ear like, all the time.”

“He’s my cat.” Izuku explains, cheeks burning, “Han, he likes to sit around my room for hours, it makes him a good muse.”

Uraraka claps her hand together, the sound makes Izuku start a little. “You use your cat as your muse,” she says, “that’s the cutest thing I’ve heard.”

Todoroki ignores her, “Is it the same cat from the hero fight?” He asks Izuku.

“Y-yeah. He follows me everywhere.” Han also has a habit of laying on his face when he’s sick, but Izuku isn’t telling anybody that. Holy crap, Izuku realizes he’s having a conversation with someone who isn’t Iida or Uraraka. He’s not stuttering too much, either. Today just might make the history books.

The four of them keep talking for the rest of lunch. Whenever there’s a lull, Uraraka is sure to fill it. Iida always has something to say, no matter the topic. Izuku and Todoroki seem to be the only ones content to observe, only sometimes adding their own thoughts.

The bell rings and they all start packing up. “This was fun.” Uraraka states, looking between all of them, “You should join us again, Todoroki!”

Todoroki’s face remains impassive as always. Izuku wonders if he ever smiles. “I’ll think about it.”

They’re all heading back inside when Izuku hears Todoroki say, “Midoriya.”

Izuku pauses, looking at Todoroki nervously. “Y-yes?”

He doesn’t respond at first, just looking forwards to the open sky. “It was nice, eating with you all.”

The fluttering in his chest has no business being there. Izuku smiles anyways, “Yeah. They’re loud, but it’s a good kind of loud.” He closes his eyes and bites his tongue. God, “a good kind of loud”? How did that make any sense?

But wonder of wonders, Todoroki nods along like he gets it. “I see what you mean.” He adjusts his bag and resumes walking. “Come on, we’ll be late if we don’t hurry.”

Izuku stares at the back of Todoroki’s head. Had that really just happened? He doesn’t have time to think about it, Todoroki’s right, he’s going to be late. He hurries after his friends, the tiniest smile on his face.


——


The streets are just as shady as they were last time. The only difference is that Han isn’t on his shoulder. Izuku’s sneakers don’t make a sound as he walks down the tenth dark alley that day. He holds his breath, but once he sees that no one’s around, he exhales and continues.

“No signs of people being here recently.” He mutters, scribbling a tiny x over this alley on his handmade map. “No cigarette smell, no alcohol, no piss. If anything it smells too...” he goes quiet. This is one of the more back-alley places he’s been to so far, so why does it smell clean? Pocketing his notebook, Izuku creeps forward.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing obviously damming like a bloodstain or bullet marks on the alley walls, but if he looks at the ground he can see scuff marks from a broom. He follows the sweeping patterns, careful not to step on any of them. They lead him to a dumpster. “Ugh!” He pulls his shirt over his nose at the offensive stench. Even then, he gags at the smell of rotten food and sulfur. He takes a handful of steps back and stares at the source of the stench. “Oh, I’m going to hate this.” He mutters, rolling his pant legs up and walking back to the dumpster. Throwing the lip up, he peers inside.

As he’d expected, he sees rotten food, and, he’s disgusted to note, some mold. “Why hasn’t anybody thrown this out yet?” He wonders, leaning on the edge of the dumpster. That turns out to be a mistake, the wheels aren’t as rusted as he thought.

“Shit!” His chin almost becomes intimately familiar with the concrete, but he manages to catch his fall. His palms burn from being scuffed so hard, but Izuku’s too thankful for his reaction time to care. He groans, sits up rubbing his hands together, and stares. “Well,” He says, staring at a staircase going to some sort of hidden basement. “This is horribly video game-esque.” And what luck, he happens to be looking for a maniac with the tendency to use video game metaphors. Before he does anything else, he takes his notebook back out and changes the x mark to a circle, writing “secret base??” To the side.

“This is a horrible decision.” Izuku tells himself, staring down the door at the end of the staircase. “This is a horrible decision and I’m going to get killed by a villain or tetanus.” He still goes down the stairs. It’s a last minute idea to pull his hoodie up in an attempt to hide his defining features. He raises his hand, ready to twist the knob, but he hears muffled voices.

“Why should I listen to you?” A familiar. whining voice says, “Sensei said this is my operation.”

“Because, Shigaraki,” a hauntingly refined voice replies, “it’s too brash. Yuuei’s on high-alert after such a recent breach in security. You wouldn’t get within ten feet of him without getting swarmed by pros.”

Izuku can guess who they’re talking about. He takes a step back, letting his hand fall to his side as he stares at the door. “Holy shit.” He whispers, “I found their base.” Or at least one of them. Of all the things to find tonight, he stumbles across the League of Villains by almost falling off a dumpster. Because this is somehow his life now.

He takes a step back, then another. He whips around and bolts up the stairs the moment his heel bumps against the first step. “Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit-“ he’s down and out of the alley before either Kurogiri or Shigaraki can see just who was at their doorstep moments ago. He doesn’t stop running until he’s four blocks away, and even that doesn’t feel far enough. It feels like he just lost five years of his life out of sheer fright.

He focuses on the sidewalk as he puts his hands on his knees and pants. The position doesn’t do anything for the nausea, but nothing comes up, so there’s that. “I’m never doing that again.” He tells himself, knowing full well that he’s going to break that promise within a week. “I am not voluntarily coming close to the guy who almost turned my arm to dust.” Lying’s always felt strange to him, lying to himself is even stranger.

His mom’s asleep on the couch when he gets back home. Han looks up from his position curled on her stomach when Izuku opens the door. Trashy TV plays at a low volume, casting the living room in a blue light. Izuku takes one look at his mom and sighs. She has a habit of kicking her blankets off, tonight isn’t any different. He pulls the blankets back over her, tucking them in at the shoulders to make sure they stay in place. He pauses, brushes a stray hair back into place, and heads to his room. His night is still far from over.

Han meows as Izuku enters his room and books it for his computer. “Sorry, buddy.” Izuku tells him, scratching the cat’s head without thought. “Something happened, tonight — something big. I don’t have time to give you ear rubs.” Han seems to take personal offense to that and meows louder than before. “You’ll live,” Izuku replies, rolling his eyes and muttering, “baby.”

The map he looks up is detailed, listing most of the major areas in the area Izuku had been investigating an hour ago. Now call him presumptuous, but Izuku has a feeling that a place hidden by a dumpster isn’t going to be on any tourist map. The internet isnt going to be of any help here, he needs firsthand accounts. Which means he’ll be talking to people who might just shank him first and take his wallet later. Joy.

Izuku doesn’t know how he keeps getting into these messes. He scrubs his face and makes a note on his computer before closing it and heading to bed. Han curls around his head, a soothing rumble coming from his throat. It relaxes Izuku enough to close his eyes and let sleep creep up on him.


——


“You look even worse than yesterday.” Uraraka tells him, “I didn’t know that was possible.”

Izuku yawns, “I know.” All Might had spent fifteen minutes of morning training to interrogate him about it. “It was a long night.” Understatements, apparently, were becoming his go-to reply.

“You should invest more in a proper sleep schedule,” Iida tells him, not looking up from his notes. “You won’t be doing your best in school if you’re this tired.”

“Oh, my bad, guys,” Izuku wants to say, “I stayed up until two in the morning so I could hunt down the villains who almost killed us before. My bad.” He yawns again and wishes Han were here, the cat would make today a lot more tolerable.

Iida looks up from his notes and offers Izuku an apologetic smile. “Well, Midoriya’s sleeping habits aside, my brother reminded me of something. The Sports Festival is coming up.”

Ah, yes, the Sports Festival. The modern-day equivalent of the olympics. Where literally thousands of people will be watching. The wave of dizziness at the thought disorients Izuku for a moment.

Uraraka gasps, “Oh my gosh, you’re right! They’re in, like, a month, right?”

Iida nods, “Aizawa will probably announce it to us today. My brother told me they always give the students a month to prepare. Usually, people do not pay much attention to the first years, but given recent events—“ He coughs at that, “— it’s reasonable to assume more than a few eyes will be on us.”

Great. Izuku closes his eyes and sets his mouth into a line. In the past few months, he’s grown more than he’d ever thought possible, but large crowds still have the same nauseating effect. Here’s hoping nobody really focuses on him. Then again, with the commentators and the crowd, the odds of him being able to activate notice-me-not is slim to none. If getting into the Heroics division was stepping into the light, the sports festival is going to launch him into it at high velocity. No pressure.

School starts and right off the bat Aizawa proves Iida right. The Sports Festival is indeed in a month, and given the recent press coverage of the USJ debacle, everyone’s eyes are on them. Not only that, the festival doubles as a platform for hero internships. As far as Izuku can understand it, the event is a marketplace, and it’s up to each of them to sell themselves as much as possible. Performance, sportsmanship, finesse over your Quirk, all that and more is what a hero agency is looking for in an intern.

Looking at his track record with One for All, things aren’t looking too good in the finesse department. Performance? Probably better, but unless he gets a grip on whatever he did against Gran Torino yesterday, he can’t use One for All unless he’s fine with not using that limb the rest of the festival. Could he mitigate the damage by using his fingers? It’s worth considering.

“It’s concerning how casual you talk about breaking your bones.”

Izuku looks up to see Todoroki standing in front of his desk. Uraraka’s next to him, so is Iida, they’re all holding lunchboxes. Izuku blinks, “Oh. Is t lunch already?”

Uraraka reaches over and pulls him out of his desk. “Yep, you’ve been zoned out the whole day muttering stuff.”

“I made sure to take detailed notes for you.” Iida adds, “I will send pictures of them so you can copy them down. Though I hope this won’t become a trend.”

Izuku hurries to pack his things. Shoving everything into his bag with little fanfare, he stands up with his backpack strewn over a shoulder. “It won’t.” Izuku promises, “Let’s go eat lunch.”

Uraraka and Iida agree without question, it’s Todoroki who stays behind, looking at Izuku with an indescribable expression. “Midoriya.”

Izuku swallows, “Er, yes? Is something wrong?”

Todoroki shakes his head, “No.” He pauses, like he’s choosing his next words carefully, “You have a shadow to outgrow, too, don’t you.”

It’s the way he says it, posing it as a statement rather than a question, that makes Izuku stumble over his reply. “What do you mean? I don’t have any shadow, and if I did it wouldn’t be big enough to—“

“It’s in everything you do.” Shouto interrupts, “Every day, it’s like you have something to prove. You take more notes than anyone, and I know that you train in the morning. You chose to break your finger rather than risk expulsion, broke your arm in the practice fight, and put your life on the line for everyone else when they were too scared to act at the USJ. Why would you put in that much effort if you didn’t have an end goal in mind?”

Izuku stares at Todoroki in open shock. He’s never considered how his actions appear to someone else, he just does what he feels he needs to do. Which is kind of Todoroki’s point, now that he thinks about it. The laugh that comes out of him is too nervous to come off as casual. “I guess you’re right.” He admits, rubbing his arm, “No one really believed in me until a year ago. My mentor, he—“ How is he supposed to describe everything All Might’s done for him? “— he told me I had potential, even when everyone else said I couldn’t. So I can’t do anything but my best, I can’t waste his efforts. I won’t.”

Todoroki leans back, appearing satisfied by the answer. “A word of advice,” He makes it sound like he’s departing something that will save Izuku’s life, “don’t put too much stock in how your ‘mentor’ perceives your progress.” He leaves for the door, pauses, and turns back to add, “You should spend the next months learning control. Not many hero agencies are looking for someone who breaks themselves every time they use their Quirk.” Then he’s gone, leaving Izuku standing alone in the classroom like a goddamn fool.

Somewhere in him, Izuku knows Todoroki is right. He’s a glass cannon right now, and with notice-me-not probably out of commission during the festival, he can’t rely on any sneak attacks. He resolves to work on it and follows after his friends.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, Izuku has to be patient. With the League planning who-knows-what, everything’s in the air. But he can’t do anything about that right now, what he can do is better himself, and consequently, make things a hell of a lot harder for them. Izuku’s a lot of things, anxious being the first on the list, but he has a track record of being a pain for people. Now he has a chance to be the biggest thorn in the side for these villains.

For all of his meekness, Izuku’s never shied away from standing up for what’s right. Shigaraki wants to play? Fine, Izuku’s playing. Game on.

Chapter Text


He needs to tell someone. He knows that like he does any other universal law. Light takes seven minutes to reach Earth, matter can’t be created or destroyed, and he needs to tell someone he found the base of the League of villains. Thing is, Izuku doesn’t have any complicated equation or list of instructions to tell him how to do it. What he does have is his notebook detailing exactly what he’s been getting up to, and oh boy is that going to be hard to explain. He can see it in his head: “Oh, I got all that information by walking around dark alleys and eavesdropping. By the way, I found the lair by almost falling into a dumpster.”

Yeah, he’d prefer not to explain. Not only would his mom ground him for life, he could get into real trouble with UA. The staff finding out he messes with villains in his spare time isn’t going to put him in their good books, that’s for sure.

He doesn’t have to tell someone right away, does he? He wasn’t seen...and he didn’t leave any indication he was there...he has time, right? It doesn’t matter, the thought of delaying this any more than he has sits wrong with him. Besides, he’ll only cause more questions withholding this any longer than he has. Knowing his luck, it would probably turn him into a suspect.

The entirety of this internal debate occurs as he’s eating imitation brand cereal with a pink plastic spoon. It’s been two days since he booked it the hell out of that alley, and while he’s resolved to tell someone, that creates a new question: who the hell would believe him? He’s a first year high school student with social anxiety and a growing tendency to break his bones like they’re kit-kats.

All Might? No, Izuku wouldn’t be able to withstand the disappointment that would follow the man’s surprise. Gran Torino? Double no, the retired hero would hit him over the head and then complain to All Might about “suicidal students that don’t know when they’re in over their heads”. He sighs and hangs his head, spoon drooping in hand. He stays like that until the electricity of an epiphany jolts through him.

The day after the USJ, there was a man in Recovery Girl’’s office, a man All Might knew for years. What was his name? Naomana? Maka? No, it was Naomasa, Tsukauchi Naomasa. He’s a policeman. It wouldn’t be hard for Izuku to drop in an anonymous tip, especially with notice-me-not. His plan, having existed for only half a minute, is nearly foolproof — Nearly, the police department will have security cameras, there’s no doubting that. The robots in the entrance exam could see him, even with notice-me-not up, it stands to reason that any recording of him would wipe away his Quirk and leave evidence that he was there.

The problem lasts for all of a minute before he gets another epiphany — only this one is because of Han. The cat’s playing with one of the potted plants mom leaves near the kitchen window. the edge of one of the leaves covers Han’s face from view. Izuku’s seen him do this a thousand times — and that’s a weak estimate — in the past few months. It’s only in this context that Izuku can see his cat’s genius.

“I’m starting to think you have human intelligence.” He tells his cat, putting his spoon down and placing his bowl in the dishwasher. Han meows when Izuku reaches over to pluck him up and away from the plant, but settles in his arms with nothing more than a brief growl.

Izuku opens his room and sets Han loose on his pillow covers. The cat takes a running start and leaps onto his bed, kneading the pillow with his claws out. Izuku shakes his head and throws open his closet. “I know I still have it.” He mutters, rifling through the clothes until he finds a box near the far end. On it, marked in large black sharpie, reads “halloween costumes”.

“Yes!” He drags it out and pops the lid off. He feels like doing a jig when he pulls out the cheap, mint green medical mask. Now all he needs is something to hide his hair...

He stares up at the three different All Might hoodies, each one mass produced and not at all distinct, hanging overhead. Izuku’s grin almost splits his face.


——


When Naomasa was little, his grandmother would sit him down in front of the tv and play old law-enforcement dramas. His father had hated it, kept saying “You’re gonna poison his head with crap like that!”, but it never stopped her. No, she smiled and nodded, let his father think that was the last of it. Then, when his father turned in early, like he always did, she would sneak Naomasa out of bed to turn on the tv. She died six months later, and while it hurt to remember, Naomasa holds those dear memories close to his heart. His life would have been wildly different had he never known his grandmother, he wouldn’t have watched those tv shows and learned his passion. He wanted to help people like the officers on screen did, he wanted to stop criminals, he wanted to make his home safer.

What the Tv shows conveniently didn’t tell him was how much paperwork was involved in being a detective. He’ll admit, it was a bit of a shock at the beginning, but Naomasa did what he did best and rolled with it. Now, he’s among the best in his department, and while it’s a far cry from those shows he used to watch in the pitch dark of his living room, the smell of his grandma’s perfume beside him, he’s happy.

That doesn’t mean the job doesn’t have it’s moments of mind-numbing boredom, though. Because it sure as hell does. If Naomasa were to draw any glaring differences between real policework and the stuff they showed on tv some one hundred years ago, it’s that heroes didn’t exist back then.

Nowadays, if they need to apprehend a serial killer or some other, just as dangerous criminal, they call in the heroes. Most of the public see the police as second-best, and most of his jobs are thankless ones, but none of it deters Naomasa. He joined the police force to help people, and that’s what he’s doing. There isn’t more to it.

He’s at his desk, staring at the screen of his computer with glazed eyes when Sansa walks up. Leaning against the cubicle, the Cat-headed Officer peeks over Naomasa’s shoulder. “Anything on the League yet?”

Naomasa grunts and takes a sip of his coffe — which has turned into cold sludge while he was distracted. He downs the rest of it anyways.

Sansa clicks his tongue, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

“Nothing.” Naomasa pinches the bridge of his nose, sighing, “We’ve tried every contact we have in the underground, and not a single one of them has any kind of information on the League.”

“Maybe they’ve been scared into silence?” Sansa suggests. Naomasa isn’t facing the direction of his coworker, but he can still tell that he’s shrugging.

It’s an entirely plausible idea, the most likely by a large margin, but Naomasa’s been a detective long enough to know that the most likely explanation isn’t always what’s true. He has faith in his instincts, and they’re telling him he doesn’t have the whole picture.

Were it any normal case, he would approach the situation with a calm detachment. Getting emotionally involved puts the entire investigation at risk, but these villains attacked and nearly killed his friend — who happens to be the “symbol of peace”. Naomasa always knew that title would get Toshinori into more trouble than it was worth.

“Hey, Naomasa!”

He shoots his head up at the mention of his name, looking at the desk attendant peeking over the wall of his cubicle. “Hm?”

The attendant holds something up, a small manilla file with papers sticking out of it. “Someone left this on the desk for you.” They tell him as they hand the file over. Indeed, it did have a sticky note on it reading “for detective Tsukauchi Naomasa”.

The file feels new in his hands, crisp. The thickness of it is almost insubstantial, just a few 11-by-8 printed papers packed inside. Naomasa doesn’t know to expect when he opens it, but what he sees has him slapping the folder shut again. “Did you see the person who dropped this off?” He demands, standing up. The file bends under the force of his grip.

The desk attendant takes a step back, raising their arms, “N-no, I just looked up and it was just...there— wait!”

Naomasa‘s stepped out of his cuticle and hurried past the attendant. He only has eyes for the lobby, but he’s aware enough to know the attendant is following him. No one looks up when he arrives and scans the room.

Everyone’s at their respective seats, typing away at the computer, talking on the phone, filling out paperwork. Not a thing is out of the ordinary. No indication of tampering anywhere he can see.

Sansa pauses beside him, “Oí, oi, Tsukauchi, what’s the rush?”

“Sir!” The attendant catches up, frazzled by Naomasa’s reaction. “Is there something wrong?” A few heads look up at that.

Naomasa shakes his head, “No, nothing is wrong.” His coworker’s heads go back to what they were doing at the reassurance. He turns to the attendant and smiles, he hopes it’s enough to calm the man down. “If it’s alright, could you pull up the security footage of the last ten minutes and send it to me?”

The attendant hurries to reclaim his seat, “O-of course, detective.”

Naomasa bows, “Thank you very much.” He rights himself and walks back to his office space. Sansa fallows him.

“What was that about, Tsukauchi?” The policeman asks, leaning against the cubicle again, watching Naomasa take his seat and log back onto his computer. “You were acting like you expected to see a villain back in the lobby.”

Naomasa doesn’t reply verbally, instead, he pushes the folder in Sansa’s direction. When he hears the sound of it being opened, it’s only a few seconds before Sancha whistles. “Damn.”

Naomasa opens his mail and waits for the video feed to come in. “Yeah. I don’t know who could get that much information on the League while we were pulling blanks, but right now, they’re our only tangible lead to anything about them.” The file finally loads, he clicks on it and scrutinizes the image that comes up. It’s a bird’s-eye-view of the lobby, no one has come in through the door yet. Naomasa adjusts the speed to go three times as fast and waits.

“There!” Sansa leans into his personal space to pause the video and point. Indeed, there’s the shadow of a figure near the entrance. Naomasa slows the video down and watches with a keen eye.

“Well, someone’s a fan.” Sansa jokes when the figure enters. They’re wearing an all might hoodie, hood drawn up to hide their hair. In hand, they’re holding the manilla file. The angle makes it hard to see their eyes, and a cheap medical mask covers their face. They took pains to hide any defining features, Naomasa can’t spot a single thing that could be used as a descriptor in a warrant.

The suspect walk in, no one looks up. Not even when he comes to the desk and puts the file down. But something strange happens after that. The figure reaches out to knock over the attendant’s pen container. The man looks up in surprise, but his eyes don’t focus on the suspect, who’s standing in front of him not five feet away. No, instead the attendant rights the pen container, and notices the file. Naomasa can piece together the rest of what happens and pauses the video.

“He came and left without anyone seeing him...” He says in wonder, “That has to be a Quirk of some kind, being able to go unseen.” A terrifying ability, if in the wrong hands.

Naomasa looks at the file, flipping through it with a careful eye. Everything in here, from the main notes to even the smallest margin, are vital clues. The papers aren’t the original notes, just photocopies, taken with a phone-quality camera and printed out. The picture’s expose nothin of note, either, they show what they need to, no more, no less. He notices something on the last page, a small arrow on the bottom right corner. He flips the page around and huffs.

“Your friend, Wallflower.” He reads, leaning back in his chair. He looks at Sansa, “Get a squad over to where this map depicts, let’s see if ‘Wallflower’ and his information are legitimate.” He says, handing the file over.

“Yes, sir.” Sansa snaps a quick salute and hurries off. Naomasa watches him leave, waiting for the man to round the corner before slumping in his seat and sighing. Word does have it’s boring moments, but they’re almost preferable to when the office gets cases like this.

Oh, who is he kidding, this is exactly what he signed up for. Naomasa stares at the paused video of the self-proclaimed “Wallflower”. This person had no reason to drop their information off, yet they walked right into the lion’s den. That speaks of confidence they wouldn’t be seen, and going by their garb, they know and compensate for the weaknesses of their Quirk. “I hope you’re on our side, Wallflower.” He says, “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”


——


“Holy shit.” Izuku whispers, changing out of his All Might hoodie and sweatpants to don his regular training clothes. “I just became an anonymous informant.”

Choosing the name Wallflower had been a last minute touch. He had to give them something to adress him by, or they’d make up some ridiculous name for him, and considering notice-me-not, the name fit too well for him to discard it. So, he turned in what he knows and no one knows it’s him — mission accomplished.

Han is getting so many head rubs for this.

He arrives at the gymnasium before either All Might or Gran Torino. The sound of his backpack dropping to the floor echoes through the empty space. Beams of sunshine filter in through the windows near the ceiling, Izuku’s standing in one of the splotches of sun as he stretches. The adrenaline still in his system makes him looser than he would be normally at the beginning of a stretch. He’s sitting on the floor, in the middle of putting his forehead against his knees when the gym door opens again.

All Might perks up at the sight of him, “Ah, young Midoriya!” He lifts a bag up with an arm, “I didn’t know if you had breakfast yet. Go on,” he prompts, handing it over to Izuku.

Izuku peeks into the bag, “All Might, what—“

The hero looks away, scratching his cheek. “You always get here so early,” he says, “I was, ah, beginning to worry you weren’t eating breakfast.”

Izuku takes out the to-go container of cereal, along with the milk carton. He stares at the two items like they were given to him by a god, “Th-thank you for your consideration, All Might.” Izuku says, still looking at the milk and cereal. He’d eaten this morning, but the stress of the whole police station debacle burned up more energy than he thought. His stomach rumbles at the sight of food, loud enough to be heard.

All Might coughs in the silence, “Well, I’m glad I brought it in today.”

Izuku’s cheeks are burning. He puts the milk and the cereal to the side, “I’m just gonna...save this for after training.”

“Probably for the best.” All Might acknowledges with a nod. “What are you planning to do for a warmup?”

Izuku gets to his feet and starts to swing his arms back and forth. “I’m planning on pushing myself a bit harder now.” He says, starting to jog in place. “I’m able to channel maybe one or two percent of One for All as it is. If I build my strength and endurance up, then maybe I can up that to five before the sports festival.”

“Pushing yourself as always.” All Might mutters, shaking his head, “Your class won’t know what hit them.”

Izuku smiles weakly, “Thanks, All Might.” He hops from one foot to the other, shaking his hands loose. “Okay,” he tells himself in a breathy voice, “focus. Focus.” He can’t remember what image he thought of last time, it worries him for a split of a second, but then the energy of One for All is buzzing through him and he can’t afford to overthink it. He stays in place, checking to see is anything broke without him knowing. When he comes back with a clean bill, he exhales. “Okay, five laps around the gym at two percent.”

All Might’s procured a stopwatch from somewhere in his baggy clothes. “On your mark.”

Izuku nods to himself and behind to count. “Three...” The energy is coursing through him like electricity, maybe that’s the way he could think about it? A current he turns on and off? “Two...” Or maybe he could think of water? They both flow. “One...” Or something he already does without thinking... his eyes widen, and before he can try to talk himself out of it, he takes off. “Go!”

The gym’s polished wood floor blurs under him. His feet eat up the length of the gym — as long as a professional soccer field, easily — like he’s taking a stroll across his room. The air rushes past his ears, tousling his hair and enticing a laugh out of him.

“Go, young Midoriya!” All Might cheers from the side. Izuku can’t turn his head to face him, but he knows the hero is grinning like nothing else. Izuku makes a sharp turn and keeps going.

Five laps feels like nothing, and soon enough he’s skidding to a stop in front of his mentor. “How...was that?” He pants, placing his hands behind his head and breathing deeply.

All Might pushes the stopwatch towards his face, “One minute and twenty-five seconds.” The hero laughs and ruffles Izuku’s hair, pride shining through in every action. “Well done, my boy!”

Izuku ducks his head at the praise, “Thank you.” He looks up and starts to rattle off his analysis. “I managed to run a little more than one mile in that time, meaning that I’m at a speed higher than trained track runners that don’t have speed enhancement Quirks. Most fo them are able to run a mile within five minutes, the fact that I managed it in one minute and twenty-five seconds means I’m faster than them by seventy-five percent. And there’s no telling how this plays in with the strength enhancement aspect—“

“Careful,” All Might warns, “You’re going to fry your brain, thinking so fast.”

Izuku shuts his mouth, “It’s a habit. Sorry.”

All Might waves the apology away, “No, no, it’s for the best that you’re like that.” The hero takes a seat on the nearby bench, leaning back with a sigh. “I relied on too much brute strength,” he gestures to his side, “It’s the main reason I got this. I...wasn’t thinking clearly when I was fighting, and it almost got me killed.”

Izuku’s mouth goes dry, “Was the villain you were fighting really that dangerous?”

“Midoriya,” The man’s blue eyes bore into his, “the villain I fought would have destroyed Japan if given half the chance.” He sighs, “But I’m not going to scare you by talking about him. Come on, you haven’t eaten yet.” He smiles teasingly, “Aizawa would have my head if he found out I got in the way of his student’s development.”

“But, I haven’t finished—“

“You can train after you’ve eaten.” All Might tells him, brokering no room for argument. “Going to school on an empty stomach will do you no favors.”

Izuku doesn’t have much of a choice but to take the offer and sits down. The milk is still cold, and the cereal is one of the healthier brands. He opens the package, pours the milk in, and takes a spoonful. Izuku’s never had a teacher that gives a damn before, it leaves him at a loss for what to do, but it’s also nice.

“You have a shadow to outgrow, too, don’t you.”

He frowns at the memory. “Hey, All Might?”

“Yes, my boy?”

“What do you expect from me?”

All Might stares at Izuku, he can see the hero’s mouth moving over words, testing them. “Where’s this coming from?”

Izuku shrugs, “Dunno, I was just wondering.”

All Might raises his eyebrows, but doesn’t push, “Well,” he punches his chin, “it’s not really an expectation, but I would like it if you got a grasp of One for All before your second year.”

Izuku looks down at his lap, “Oh.”

“Though, that’s just because I don’t want Recovery Girl on my case.” The hero laughs at Izuku’s surprise, “Is that really so shocking? My boy, I may not be a good teacher, but I’ve been around other people long enough to know everyone grows at a different pace.”

“But you said I was your successor, doesn’t that mean I’ll have to... well... pick up where you left off?”

All Might sighs deeply. “Midoriya... You of all people know I’m not perfect. I mean, my teaching skills are goddamn horrible. But we’re different people.” All Might pokes Izuku’s chest in the center, “What’s in here is different from what’s in here.” He points to his own chest for emphasis, “You’re your own person, young Midoriya. I’m not too good at mentoring yet, but I’m going to do nothing but my best to help you, not mold you into another me.” The hero smiles again, “Frankly, Japan doesn’t need a second All Might. A young Midoriya, however...” he bumps Izuku’s shoulder with a fist, “I’m sure there are crowds waiting for him.”

Izuku feels relieved at his mentor’s reply. All Might isn’t aiming to keep Izuku in his shadow. He isn’t even sure why he was worried, but the look in Todoroki’s eye...that spoke of some really big shoes to fill. “Thanks, All Might.”

“Anytime, young Midoriya. Now get up!” The hero stands, motioning for Izuku to do so as well, “You’ve still got some more training to do before first period!”

Izuku hops off the bench with a grin, “Yes, sir!”


——


It’s been a bad couple of days, Kurogiri is willing to admit. It started at the USJ, and that was a disaster in it’s own right. They were underprepared, laughably so, with a basic plan and unreliable lackeys. The only things in their favor had been Kurogiri, Shigaraki, the Noumu, and the element of surprise. Yet even that failed in the face a teenager with a police-grade taser and the propensity to break limbs like he was cracking a knuckle.

So yes, Kurogiri knew the next few days were going to be annoying. Because he’s been tasked with watching over the growth of Sensei’s successor, a literal man-child with no ability to separate video came concepts from real life. Were it not for the respect he had for his boss, Kurogiri would have asked the man to reassign him long ago.

Then he sensed a presence near the entrance of their base not three nights ago. He could have imagine it, but imaginations don’t move the dumpster concealing their hideaway. The only reason Kurogiri is still alive is because he trusts his instincts, so he doesn’t think twice about contacting All for One and getting the green light to move everything. But of course Shigaraki has to be a brat about it.

This is the third time he’s had to sweep dust off the floor in the last two days. Kurogiri takes pride in running a clean establishment, and every new pile of dust whittles away at his considerable patience.

“It’s not fair.” Shigaraki bemoans, leaning back on the stool and staring at the ceiling. “Sensei said I’m the one that’s supposed to call the shots.”

“You won’t be able to call the shots in prison, Shigaraki.” Kurogiri reminds him, being sure to not take his charge’s complaining to heart.

“Sensei wouldn’t let that happen.” Shigaraki mutters, still staring at the ceiling.

“He would if he thought you’d learn something from it.” Kurogiri sighs and shakes his head, “It’s no matter, we still have the security cameras up in the old base. We’ll see soon enough if we were right to move.”

Shigaraki leans forwards, lacing his fingers together on the table. “Everything’s wrong.” He snarls, “Ever since the USJ, everything’s been messed up. That fucking Rogue’s been a wrench in the game.”

At least on that, he and Kurogiri are in agreement. “You’re going to have to make new plans, anticipate his interference.”

Shigaraki ignores him, but Kurogiri’s used to that. “I hate him. He’s ruined everything. With his stupid strength. He’s just like All Might.” The man straightens up, his hands separating to curl into fists. “It’s always All Might that gets in my way. Even his stupid students are messing things up. Yes...the Rogue will die, he has to. He’s too much like All Might to live.”

It’s in these moments that Kurogiri’s reminded that Shigaraki is All for One’s heir for a reason. He’s petulant, and often a brat, but there’s the occasional flash of calculating coldness that is entirely learned from All for One. Given enough time and motivation, it’s possible that the man in front of him could be worse than any villain he’s seen - outside of All for One. “So what do you plan to do?” He prompts, ignoring the unease settling in the small of his back.

“This society is a piece of bad programming,” Shigaraki mumbles, “the only way to fix it is tear it down and start again.” Skin flakes onto the bar when the man scratches at his neck, “Killing All Might would be the first ‘virus’, it’d make the programming unstable.” He cocks his head, “What do you think would be the breaking point?”


——


No matter how many times Izuku does it, walking into the police department is a harrowing experience. Sure, logically he knows that he wont be seen by anyone, and his disguise keeps him from being identified on security feed, but the little voice in his head always whispers for him to be careful.

The automated doors open with a swoosh, Izuku follows the officer walking in and is quick to sidestep him. As usual, no one looks up at him. That’s fine, though, Izuku’s not here for pleasantries anyways. His feet move on memory towards Tsukauchi’s cubicle, peeking in to see if the detective is there.

Indeed, the man’s sitting at his desk, clicking away at the computer with his eyebrows drawn tight. There’s an officer five feet away from Izuku, leaning over Tsukauchi’s shoulder. In spite of his nerves, he smiles at the sight of the cat headed officer. Sansa may not know about Izuku, but Izuku’s seen him enough to know the officer is a good one.

“The base Wallflower gave us was empty, but there were clear signs of use.” Tsukauchi says to himself, tapping his finger against the folder marked with Izuku’s pseudonym.

Ah, Izuku had worried about how that worked out. Maybe he should have expected it, but the disappointment still stings. If he had gotten the information in sooner, maybe the League would have been caught.

“Everything else checked out under cross-referencing.” Tsukauchi spins in his chair to look at his coworker. “What do you think?”

Sansa hums, “They seem to be on our side,” he admits, pursing his lips in thought, “and the information they give is legit. I don’t see any reason to not trust their info.”

How convenient that Izuku’s listening in, then. The new file is clutched in his hands, noticeably thicker than his first one. Carefully, he squats down to leave the file on the floor. On the cover, he’s drawn a blue Hyacinth — meaning sincerity. If he can’t gather the courage to talk to Tsukauchi verbally, maybe he can convey his intentions another way.

He stands up and readjusts his hoodie, making sure it’s still covering his hair. Looking to the right corner of the room, he sees a security camera. It’s a split moment of playfulness, but Izuku raises his hand and gives the camera a peace sign. By the time he hears Sansa ask “What’s this?”, he’s already past the door.

“Good luck, detective.” Izuku whispers, “I hope I helped.”

“Wait!”

Izuku freezes, craning his neck to look behind him. Tsukauchi’s ran out of the department, Izuku’s latest file clutched in his hands. Izuku checks on notice-me-not and sinks in relief when he can still feel it buzzing through him. No matter how hard Tsukauchi looks, his eyes pass right over Izuku, never seeing, never aware. Izuku vanishes down the street before risking letting his Quirk fizzle away.

“Sorry, Tsukauchi.” He says to himself, taking the lid off one of the trash cans. Sure enough, his backpack is still there, same with his exercise bag. Taking both out, he changes into his workout clothes, muttering, “Maybe next time.” Though not if Izuku can help it. Shouldering his workout bag alongside his backpack, Izuku sets off for school. It’s six thirty, the sun is beginning to detach from the horizon, he has ten minutes before All Might gets to the gym.

The hero ends up getting there the same time as him. “Ah, good morning, Midoriya.”

Izuku stifles a yawn, “Good morning, All Might.”

“Are you ready for training?” The hero asks, holding the door open for Izuku and stepping in once he passes.

“I kinda forgot what sore muscles felt like.” Izuku admits, rolling his shoulder after putting his bags down. “Ever since your ‘American Dream’ plan, nothing seemed to make me sore.”

“Well, that just means you’re pushing yourself.”

Izuku nods, “Yeah.” He goes straight into his stretches, groaning at the way his muscles protest. “I’ve still got three days, though. Still time to improve.”

He hears All Might clear his throat, “I actually forgot to tell you something.”

Izuku touches his toes, wincing at the sudden rush of blood to his head. “Hm? What is it?”

“Well...” The hero’s voice stalls, “You are aware that you scored the highest out of everyone in the entrance exam, yes?”

It’s been almost two months since that, Izuku’s kind of surprised All Might brings it up. He finishes stretching and rights himself, taking in his teacher’s pensive expression. “Yeah?”

All Might clears his throat, “Well, it appears that it’s in Yuuei’s tradition to have the highest scoring student speak before the beginning of the sport’s festival. I know you prefer to avoid crowds, but they were rather insistent about— Midoriya?”

Izuku’s covered his mouth with a hand, closing his eyes against the wave of cold panic washing over him. “Is there... any way I could get out of it?” He asks weakly.

To his dismay, All Might shakes his head. “I’m afraid not, my boy. I tried to convince them otherwise, but Nedzu decided that it would be a,” the hero raises his hands to make bunny ears around the quote, “good chance to ‘get out of your comfort zone’.”

Of course. Yuuei’s always been about ‘plus ultra’. Izuku would have appreciated it if they’d worked him up to it, but apparently the school’s modus operandi is throwing students into the deep end and watch them sink or swim. Great. Just...great. “Are they expecting me to say anything specific?” He manages to ask.

All Might puts a comforting hand on Izuku’s shoulder, “Just say something along the lines of ‘good luck to everyone’. That’d be good enough.”

Four words. Izuku can handle four words. Four words in front of thousands of people, and that’s not even counting the people watching from home—

Izuku feroces himself to stop thinking about it. He’s going to puke if he does a second longer. Even then, something wiggles in the back of his mind, trying to get his attention. He ignores that, too. “Well, at least I know now.“ He tries to sound chipper about it, he’s not sure if it works. “It would’ve been a lot worse if I was put on the spot.” Puking on live television wouldn’t be very good.

All Might pats his shoulder encouragingly, “That’s the spirit!” He removes his hand to jerk a thumb over his shoulder, “Do you wan’t to train anymore? There’s no shame in taking a break.”

Izuku chews the inside of his lip, “Ah, I think I’ll try using One for All at 5% to run my laps.”

All Might nods and take a seat on the bench, rustling through his pocket to pull out the stopwatch. “On your mark.”

Rushing through his laps, electricity sparking off of him, Izuku wonders how Iida and Uraraka have been holding up in their training. Uraraka’s been looking more tired lately, she’s been pushing the weight limit of her Quirk. Iida’s a tad harder to get a read on, but Izuku knows he’s trying to get faster, maybe increase the time between required engine cooldowns.

As for Todoroki... Izuku isn’t sure if they’re even friends, but something’s been souring the teen’s mood since the festival announcement. He hasn’t sat with them since everyone began to train in earnest, and Izuku swears he’s seen the teen wince once or twice when he bumped into something, but Todoroki never speaks to him, or passes notes, or even looks at him anymore. The bags under his eyes have gotten darker, shade by shade with each passing day. He’ll look like a raccoon at this rate. Izuku doesn’t have all the details, and he’s too scared of crossing boundaries to ask, but he hopes the other teen feels better soon.

Finishing his final lap, Izuku dials One for All down to 2% and does two cool down laps before slowing to a stop. He wipes his hair away from his eyes and looks at All Might. “Time?”

“One minute for the mile, twenty seconds for the cool down.” All Might tells him, squinting at the stopwatch. “You’ve definitely improved.”

Izuku smiles without thinking about it. “I guess I need to get ready for class.” He says, looking down at himself and his sweaty clothes. “The locker room is open, right?”

“Third door to the left, I think.” All Might confirms, standing up and stretching. “I’ll see you in class, young Midoriya.” The waits for Izuku to grab his bag and head to the exit before doing so himself. They split at the hallway, Izuku heading west, All Might heading east.

The locker room is indeed the third door on the left. White porcelain tiles shine under fluorescent lighting, giving off a hospital kind of look. Izuku can hear a shower running. He sets his uniform on the bench, grabs a towel and heads towards the noise. He’s not sure who he’s expecting, but Todoroki isn’t it.

His back is facing Izuku, head ducked to let the stream of water get it thoroughly wet. That’s not what Izuku’s focusing on.

A collage of reds, blues, purples and yellows, bruises in all states of healing adorn Todoroki’s back. They look like they hurt. Izuku’s gotten enough bruises from Bakugou to know that with enough of them, bruises could hurt more than any sore muscles. They ache and sting at the slightest touch. The few winces Izuku’s seen suddenly make a sick amount of sense.

Izuku’s trained with All Might and Gran Torino long enough to know bruises like that don’t come from just training. His mouth works open and closed like a fish, eventually, he manages to make a sound. “Um...”

Todoroki whips around, if Izuku thought his back was bad, Todoroki’s front is infinitely worse. His abdomen is spattered with red bruises — new ones. His chest looks like it took a volley of baseballs, covered in swollen and fading bruises.

There’s surprise in Todoroki’s eyes when he locks onto Izuku, surprise, and a hint of fear. “What are you doing here?” He demands, grabbing a towel and hurrying to wrap it around his waist. “No one is supposed to be in here this early.” It sounds more directed to himself than Izuku.

Izuku’s words decide to work again, “I— I was training. I thought I would take a shower before school—“

Todoroki marches forward, fire sparking in his eyes. “Never,” he hisses, “tell anyone about this.” The flush of his skin makes the faded red of his scar look like blood.

Dumb with shock, Izuku nods. He doesn’t dare to move until he hears Todoroki leave the locker room, the door slamming behind him. Izuku stares at the drain of the shower, tinged pink with blood. Izuku remembers seeing Todoroki with a split lip, like he’d taken a hard fall. He didn’t notice it at first because it’d been cleaned.

There’s nothing else for Izuku to do but do what he came here for in the first place. But even with the water as hot as it can be, the guilt of making Todoroki afraid of him — him! Of all people! — makes him feel cold.

Chapter Text


Todoroki avoids him the rest of the day. He’s not obvious about it, it’s just a matter of Izuku recognizing what he himself does when avoiding someone. The moment they release for lunch, Todoroki vanishes without a word. He never gives Izuku a nasty look, he doesn’t give Izuku a look at all, he’s just... gone. But unlike Izuku, he doesn’t have notice-me-not to assist, Todoroki is just that good. Which leads into another problem. 

 

It’s been gnawing at the back of his mind since the beginning of the year. The hesitance to talk to people, the comfort in being alone, the fear when someone sees his injuries, Todoroki’s actions mimic Izuku’s when he was in elementary and middle school. Thing is, Izuku’s mistreatment stems from his perceived Quirklessness. He doesn’t want to think about what could be Todoroki’s reason, but the other teen is hurting, he’s hurting every moment he sits in that chair and pretends bruised ribs don’t make it hard to breathe. But Izuku doesn’t know what to do, it seems to be the one constant thing about him. 

 

Before this morning, Izuku would’ve dared to call him and Todoroki friends, but where they stand now is anyone’s guess. What he knows for sure is that if he brings this up, alludes to it in any way, Todoroki will tear apart any connection between them, if there still are any. Izuku’s really messed this up, didn’t he? The guilt’s stuck with him since the shower, clinging to him like soot. Which is why when Todoroki vanishes, he doesn’t try to follow.

 

Even with the sun shining on the lunch table, he doesn’t feel warm. Uraraka’s talking to Iida, but their words are muffled compared to how loud his thoughts are. His sandwich tastes bland even though his mom loves to season their food. Nothing’s as it should be. 

 

He jerks away when someone pokes him. 

 

Uraraka retracts her hand, “Are you okay, Midoriya? You’ve been acting kinda weird all day.”

 

“Your behavior has indeed been abnormal.” Iida agrees, his lips pulling into a frown. “Did something happen?” 

 

“N-nothing’s wrong!” Izuku squeaks, “I’m just... er...” the answer comes in a flash of brilliance, “nervous about what I should say for the Sports Festival.”

 

Uraraka blinks, “Oh, is that it?”

 

“Uraraka, public speaking is one of the most common fears.” Iida sighs, putting his food down, “Do you have any ideas, Midoriya? If not, I would be glad to assist you. It’s my job as class president to assure that all classmates are properly prepared and—“

 

Izuku interrupts before Iida can get into the swing of a full on lecture. “T-thank you, Iida, but I have to do this myself. I’ll never learn if I rely on people to do it for me.” The words are truer than Uraraka and Iida can ever know. No one ever tried to help him with his problems or stop Bakugou. The responsibility always fell on him.

 

“Well,” Uraraka tries, reaching out to punch him playfully on the arm, “If you ever need it, we’re here to help!” Iida nods in agreement behind her. 

 

Izuku has to swallow the sudden tightness in his throat. “Thanks guys.” 

 

 

——

 

 

Moonlight filters in through Shouto’s window, landing in a neat little square by his head. He‘s on his futon, staring up at the ceiling and wondering why he cant sleep. His back throbs under his own body weight, he ignores it. His father has never been kind during training, it doesn’t  make sense for him to start now. Still, Shouto can only think one thing: he should’ve never started showering in the Yuuei locker room.

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Endeavor springs morning training sessions on Shouto without warning, leaving him bruised and sweating. It’s a chance of washing off the smell of smoke and leaving the house early, Shouto takes it and runs. Yuuei’s one of the top schools in Japan, it stands to reason that their bathrooms are up to standard, too. The water pressure is perfect, spraying him with lukewarm water hard enough he can feel the dirt washing off on it’s own. Half of the time he takes showering is bathing and the other is just standing under the torrent with his eyes closed. 

 

Today should’ve been no different, but then Midoriya comes in. 

 

Shouto doesn’t know how to feel about the other teen. Scruffy hair, slightly baggy clothes and with the habit of taking his cat to hero fights, Midoriya Izuku, at first glance, is someone people can walk right by without noticing. Imagine Shouto’s surprise when he spots the same boy sitting at one of the desks on the first day of school. Take that surprise and times it by twenty when the Quirk apprehension tests comes and Midoriya breaks his finger to keep from being expelled.

 

The next day, they had the Hero vs Villain fights. Shouto didn’t pay much attention to who he’d been assigned, but Midoriya acted like having to fight Bakugou was a death sentence. Shouto doesn’t like how he recognizes Midoriya’s dread — the dread of fighting someone who’s hurt him before. It had been a spur of the moment decision, but he wished the teen good luck before he and his teammate headed out. After that, all he could do was watch. 

 

“He has good reflexes.” Yaoyorazu commented, watching Midoriya shove Uraraka away from Bakugou’s surprise attack. 

 

“I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Kirishima said, frowning, “Bakugou — that guy’s scary on a good day.” The statement was met with mumbled approval.

 

They all watch Midoriya feed the fire by taunting Bakugou. Kaminari laughed in discomfort, “This guy’s got a death wish.” He said, shaking his head. 

 

Mina slapped Kaminari’s shoulder, “Shh!” The class watched Midoriya round the corner, “What’s he doing? He has to keep running!”

 

“What the hell? Is Bakugou blind or something? Midoriya’s right in front of him!”

 

“Wait! Midoriya’s doing something!”

 

“The costume department gave him tripwire?”

 

“Oh, please tell me that he’s going to trip Bakugou.”

 

Midoriya did, and the way he did it had most of the class in stitches. Shouto didn’t know what an “asshat” was, but apparently it was funny enough for everyone to lose their composure.”

 

“Oh— oh my God.”

 

“Who knew Midoriya had a potty mouth!”

 

“Well, if the shoe fits...” The laughter cropped up again at that. 

 

Shouto may not have understood why it was funny, but he could see the tactics behind it. From what he’d seen, Bakugou used his explosions to propel himself towards an opponent. By getting him mad enough, Midoriya ensured that the blond would forgo that and charge on foot.

 

There was a chorus of cheers when Midoriya managed to tie off the capture tape, then an outcry when Bakugou continued the fight. A good few of Shouto’s classmates were pleading with All Might to call it off, but Shouto’s eyes remained glued to the screen. Midoriya, he wasn’t putting any thought into dodging, every move was pure reflex. It could have been from formal training, but the mediocre punch he threw at Bakugou crossed that off the list of possibilities. 

 

The realization had stuck Shouto with the weight of one of his father’s punches. Midoriya’s ability to dodge was the fruit of necessity.

 

All Might left to break up the fight after Uraraka captured the bomb. He couldn’t know that she and Iida were heading down to defuse the situation between their respective teammates. He arrived just in time to see Midoriya unleash his devastating Quirk. The cameras recording the scene shook with the force of the shockwave. Shouto saw the class wince collectively when they watch Bakugou get thrown into the wall hard enough to crack the concrete. 

 

“I mean,” Kirishima said in the silence, “I’m not saying he didn’t have it coming, but...”

 

“That’s gotta hurt.” Jirou finished for him, crossing her arms. 

 

They waited in tense silence for the group to return, and when the door opened, Midoriya was swamped. Shouto didn’t get much of a chance to see him, but the glimpse he did see made his stomach turn. Midoriya’s arm hung limp at his side, thoroughly broken.

 

That day, Shouto learned that Midoriya might be more like him than originally thought. 

 

Then the USJ happened. Shouto’d been warped by Kurogiri, landing in the wasteland setup on his lonesome. And while the villains stationed there were hardly any threat, Shouto did manage to gather some information on who was attacking them and why. This “League of Villains” had a plan to kill All Might. He’d doubted the claim until he found his way out of the wasteland just in time to witness the hero almost get bisected.  He wasn’t much help besides freezing the monstrous villain and allowing All Might a chance to escape. All he could do was watch the ensuing battle between titans with Kirishima and Bakugou nearby. 

 

“We need a plan.” 

 

Shouto would be lying if he said Midoriya showing up out of the blue like that didn’t startle him, but out of the three, he had the calmest reaction. Midoriya looked different in that moment, assured, confident. It was like he’d been wearing a cloak the entire time and only then let himself be seen in full.  

 

The plan Midoriya hatched was a sound one, and fortunately, they didn’t have to use it. But then All Might was facing off against Kurogiri and the other villain — the one with hands all over his body. there was a blast of wind pressure and Midoriya was gone.

 

“Hey!”

 

Scratch that, Midoriya was hurtling towards the villains with his fist cocked back. It’s a replay of the Hero vs Villain fight. Midoriya throws the punch, and the ensuing burst of air stung Shouto’s eyes. The villains went flying, and the hand covered one said something to Midoriya before Kurogiri warped them away. Kirishima made a move to run over, Shouto held him back with a hand. 

 

“They’re fine.” He looks to the blood trail left by their homeroom teacher. “We’d be more help with the others.”

 

Kirishima looked like he wanted to day something but when Bakugou stalked off with a scoff, the redhead followed him. Shouto turned back to Midoriya, who was still laying on the ground. The teen’s figure was tiny in comparison to All Might’s hulking form, but the sheer amount of strength between them... it could break mountains apart. 

 

Maybe there was more in common between All Might and Midoriya than Quirks. 

 

Then Eraserhead told them about the sports festival. Shouto could have cared less about it, it was just another event for Endeavor to flaunt his so-called “masterpiece”. The training session would grow harder the closer it comes to the festival, Shouto knew this from experience with other such competitions. He couldn’t do much about it besides mental fortification, shore up his defenses and buffer the storm. 

 

He had no idea what came over him to sit with Midoriya and his friends. He’d been content to sit on his lonesome since the beginning of the school year, for all intents and purposes that shouldn’t have changed at he announcement of the sports festival. Yet his feet moved of their own accord and by the time he regained control, he’d already stood in front of them. Shouto may avoid social interaction, but even he knew that just walking away would be rude. Usually, he wouldn’t care about that, but the trace of hope in Midoriya’s eyes had him digging his grave without a thought as to why. 

 

This would be a prime opportunity to learn just what kind of connection Midoriya had to All Might, Shouto had reasoned back then. It would help him better understand the boy who his father would inevitably say was his worst enemy. Gathering information on an enemy was vital to taking them down. Yet the only thing he’d been able to take away from those lunch meetings was that Izuku liked to draw anything from trees to classmates, and more commonly, his cat — the one that caused them to meet all those months ago. 

 

The gist of what Shouto learned those three weeks could be summed up in a sentence. Midoriya Izuku is a boy who loves katsudon, his mom, his friends, and his cat. The fact that he broke his bones every time he used his Quirk didn’t appear to matter to him. 

 

Then today happened. 

 

This morning’s training session was harder than the others. Endeavor’s planning on leaving him alone for the next two days so injuries don’t encumber Shouto in the festival, therefore in his mind that meant ending it on a strong note — in this case, a barrage of blows to Shouto’s stomach when he’d been tripped up.

 

“The moment you lose your footing, it’s over.” Endeavor had told Shouto while he laid on the floor and gagged. The man’s fire crackled and burned, Shouto hates listening to it. “Now get back up and get ready for school.”

 

Entering the shower had been a massive relief, the hot water soothing the ache in Shouto’s frame. But he hadn’t been paying attention, a mistake he paid for.

 

Midoriya saw him, saw every bruise and welt Shouto’s father left. His eyes had been wide, shock and some other indescribable emotion in them. Shouto’s response  had been born of instinct, tearing out of there as fast as he could manage, and for the rest of the day his head is filled with white noise. Will Midoriya tell anyone? No, Shouto can feel the guilty air emanating from the teen. Even so, he avoids Midoriya for the rest of the day. If he can manage it, he’ll avoid him for the next two days, too. 

 

Shouto’s not a coward. He refuses to think that he is scared of Midoriya, what he might say in response to the bruises. Shouto isn’t vulnerable, he hasn’t been in years. Endeavor made sure of that. So why is his first response to seeing Midoriya to turn away and retreat? 

 

Closing his eyes, Shouto comes to a conclusion. It doesn’t matter what Midoriya’s connection to All Might is, Shouto is going to beat him for a different reason. He isn’t vulnerable, and he will prove anyone who even thinks otherwise wrong.

 

 

——

 

 

Shady people, Izuku decides while sitting on the examination table, are the absolute worst, especially when the shady person is Dr. Yogisha. 

 

Said doctor is sitting across from him, legs crossed and his torso leaning forward. “And this ‘notice-me-not’,” God, Izuku can hear the air quotes around his Quirk’s name, “it allows you to go completely unseen?” 

 

Izuku has two options: correct that and elaborate, or just go with it. Take a guess as to which he picks. “Yep.” He pops the ‘p’ at the end. He swings his feet, counting the minutes in his head. Maybe he should be more nervous about a shady doctor asking for details on his Quirk — something he’s spent years keeping under wraps — but he has a speech to prepare for and the longer he stays here the less time he has to work on it. He really shouldn’t have procrastinated. “I can use it anytime, too. Though it’s strength varies.”

 

The overhead lights glint off Dr. Yogisha’s glasses, Izuku’s reminded of a manga villain. “It’s strength?”

 

“How likely I am to be noticed.” 

 

The doctor nods to himself, scribbling away on his clipboard. “I see, I see.”

 

He doesn’t, Izuku just made it up. Still, he has to keep going with it. “Yeah. The whole, er, breaking my bones thing is kinda new.” He shuffles in his seat, a gesture Izuku knows will be read as awkwardness by Dr. Yogisha. 

 

“Yes, your mother was very concerned about that when she scheduled your first appointment. Would you like to hear my current theory?” 

 

Izuku sighs through his nose. “Sure.”

 

“It appears that participating in the Yuuei entrance exam is what triggered this new development in your Quirk. High stress situations tend to do that in these cases. My current theory is that when you use your Quirk, it stores up energy the longer you go unnoticed, and then it releases.” The doctor readjusts his glasses, clearing his throat, “Of course, it doesn’t explain why that energy’s built up enough to break you every time you use it, but it’s a good start, don’t you think?”

 

It’s so far off the mark Izuku almost laughs. “It’s probably closer than what I have.” 

 

The doctor smiles, the ends of his lips vanishing behind his mustache. “Well, that wraps up our meeting today.”

 

Izuku hops off the table. “Thank you.” He says it out of politeness, but the way Dr. Yogisha’s face shifts has his spine tingling. He can’t get out of the room fast enough. 

 

Walking home, Izuku starts to wonder what he could do to stop going to Dr. Yogisha. Maybe he should tell mom about One for All, if she knew, she wouldn’t schedule another appointment. The idea has a hole blasted into it when Izuku remembers how serious All Might had been about keeping it a secret. Izuku will just have to start keeping track of his lies, one slip up and he might compromise himself. 

 

It’s Sunday, one of the few days off mom gets at her job. When Izuku walks into the house, she’s on the couch, watching some soap opera while Han nuzzles into her lap. When the cat notices Izuku’s back, he hops off of mom to bump his shins. 

 

“Welcome back, honey.” 

 

Izuku passes her with a smile, “I’m gonna head to my room and try to brainstorm.” He tells her over his shoulder, Han following him down the hall. “Love you, mom!” 

 

“Good luck, sweetie!” He hears his mom bid from the couch. 

 

Stepping into his room, Izuku beelines for his desk. Opening up one of his drawers, he takes out at least twenty notecards. Staring at the blank pieces of paper, he cracks his knuckles and gets to work. He writes until his fingers, used to the abuse of writing, begin to cramp. He writes and writes and writes, discarding and adding and mixing things until he finds the right words. During the process, his mind is forced to remove itself from thoughts and worries about Todoroki. It’s the first time he’s felt normal since Friday. 

 

Han leaps up onto the desk, rubbing against Izuku’s left hand. “Give me a minute, Han.” Izuku tells him, gently pushing the cat away. “I gotta get this done, my speech is tomorrow.” 

 

Han “mrrp”s and continues to rub against Izuku’s hand. He’s persistent, if nothing else. 

 

Han.” Izuku sighs, “fine. You win.” He’s got most of it done, anyways, and he hasn’t been paying nearly as much attention to his cat as he used to. He sets his notecards aside before dedicating both of his hands to rubbing his cat. Han’s fur is soft under Izuku’s fingers, and the rumble of his purr does wonders for the residual anxiety buzzing under his skin. 

 

Izuku huffs fondly when Han rolls onto his back and blinks slowly. “I wish I could bring you to the festival.” He tells the cat, “You’d make things a lot less stressful.”

 

Han continues to rub against Izuku’s hand, blissfully unaware of the world. Izuku scoops the cat up and relocates to the bed, where he pulls out his phone and looks up one of the hero sites he visits frequently. With Han purring up a storm in his lap, he clicks the recent posts tab and scrolls. nothing’s too out of the ordinary for the first few posts, but there’s one near the bottom that reads “The Hero-Killer: A Summary So Far”. 

 

Izuku clicks the post out of morbid curiosity. Going by this guy’s title, he knows what he’s doing, but if Izuku learns his methods, then he can start a file and give the police a baseline on how to take him down.

 

The information is somehow grizzly and diluted at the same time. The sheer number of heroes that’ve died or had their careers ended is enough to make anyone feel fear cling at their insides, but there’s no details on their injuries. Any heroes that survived their encounters with this Hero-Killer have had their statements censored by the government on the grounds of “public safety”.  The only useful information Izuku can get is where he’s been spotted the most often.

 

“Hosu, hm?” Izuku reads aloud, clicking his tongue. “That’s a pretty long train ride from here. I guess that means I won’t run into him anytime soon.”

 

Han looks at him like he knows what Izuku’s thinking. The cat swats at his hoodie string, snagging the fabric with wicked claws and gnawing on it. While occupied, Han’s brown eyes fix on Izuku’s, a silent glare telling him to not be stupid. 

 

Izuku traces his fingers over Han’s missing ear, “Don’t worry, Han.” He promises, “I’m not going after this guy anytime soon. If I do, then you have full permission to chew my hoodie strings to ribbons.” Han continues to gnaw on his prize, content. 

 

Izuku manages to read a bit more on the Hero-Killer before his eyes begin to droop. Yawning, he plugs his phone in and adjusts Han so he can lay down. Han grumbles a bit at the manhandling, but curls up in the pocket of Izuku’s stomach with little fuss. 

 

Izuku stares at his splayed hand, “I hope Todoroki’ll be okay.” He whispers. Han shuffles against his stomach, Izuku feels the rumbles of a gravely purr through his sweatshirt. Slowly, he closes his eyes and falls into his dreams. 

 

 

——

 

 

The day of the Sports Festival has Izuku waking up at four in the morning. He knows before he even opens his eyes that nerves won’t allow him to go back to sleep, so he swings his legs off the bed and gets ready early. Han takes over his bed while he gets changes, claiming Izuku’s pillow as his throne. Once he’s in uniform, he gives Han the customary morning head rubs before opening the door and walking to the kitchen. 

 

“Leftover eggs and rice, the breakfast of champions.” Izuku says, taking the food out of the fridge and putting it into the microwave. While it heats up, he fills up Han’s food bowl and turns the tap on. Han leaps onto the counter, sticking his face into the sink and lapping up the steady stream of water. “You’re so weird.” Izuku tells Han, shaking his head. The microwave beeps, Izuku takes his food out and digs in. 

 

By the time he’s finished with breakfast, his phone reads 4:15. Washing off his plate, Izuku puts it in the sink and heads to the living room. The couch’s old springs creak when he sits down but barely budge when Han join him. The news channel the Tv defaults to is covering the weather for the day, Izuku yawns and switches the channel. That one doesn’t have anything interesting, either. Izuku ends up channel surfing for two minutes before finding coverage on a hero fight the other day. Nestling into the cushions, he watches the playback footage and tries to relax. 

 

Six o’clock rolls around without warning. Izuku’s still watching Tv when mom walks in, rubbing her eyes. “Izuku?” She asks, muffling a yawn, “How long have you been awake?”

 

“I woke up at four.” He looks up from the Tv and smiles sheepishly, “I guess nerves are getting to me.” 

 

Mom plants a kiss on his head, “You’re going to do great, sweetie. You’ve come so far already, just... be careful, okay? I worry.”

 

With his new method of using One for All, hopefully she won’t have a reason to. “I promise, mom, I’ll be careful.”

 

She pats his back, “Thank you, Izuku. Now, I’m going to get some breakfast, don’t leave before I can send you off!” Mom pats Han’s head before vanishing into the kitchen, leaving Izuku alone again. She’s not gone long, though. 

 

“So,” She takes a seat next to Izuku, balancing a plate of food on her lap. “What are you planning to do? I don’t think notice-me-not is going to work with so many people watching.”

 

Izuku nods, “Yeah, I’d be lucky to have it up for even a second, and it’d raise too many questions for people watching from their Tvs.” Not to mention Detective Tsukauchi’s probably looking for people that fit his Quirk’s MO. “I was actually hoping I could use the, er, other part of my Quirk.”

 

Mom frowns, just like Izuku knew she would. “Izuku...”

 

“I know that it’s hurt me before.” Izuku says, focusing on how Han’s fur feels between his fingers, “but I really think I’m getting the hang of it. I can use it to win, mom, I know it.” 

 

She‘s not happy about it. Izuku can’t bear looking at her while waiting for a response, so he avoids her sad eyes by keeping his on the Tv screen. The newscasters have moved on from hero fights, now speculating about the Sports Festival and what to expect from the students of UA.

 

“Usually, people don’t expect much from the first years, but I can say with confidence that everyone will have their eyes on this batch.”

 

The anchorman’s partner, a woman with black hair pulled into a painfully tight bun, agrees. “Most definitely, Kagoshima. More specifically, on class 1-A. As you know, the class was the victim of an unforeseen attack at the USJ—“

 

Izuku is very lucky his mom isn’t paying attention to the Tv right now. 

 

“Izuku,” 

 

He whips his head back to his mom, “Hm?” 

 

She’s placed her breakfast on the coffee table. Intertwining her hands and staring down at them, “I know I can’t stop you.”

 

“Mom—“

 

She looks up from her hands, staring him down with green eyes of her own. “Let me finish, Izuku.” 

 

His jaw shuts with a click. 

 

“Thank you, honey.” His mom sighs, “I can’t stop you, but if you’ve already made up your mind, all I can do is be there for you. So...” She draws him into a bone crushing hug, “Good luck, Izuku. I know you’re going to blow everyone away.” 

 

Izuku’s eyes burn as he returns the hug, “I love you, mom.” He kisses her on the cheek before he sets out, giving han one last pat before opening the door. 

 

His morning commute is abuzz with people chattering about who they think will do well in the festival. The bus isn’t too crowded, Izuku’s able to find an empty seat with ease. Taking out his phone, he checks all the hero sites while he waits for his stop. Nothing’s changed all that much, just a new meta-analysis on some heroes, but when he tries to search for the Hero-Killer article the screen reads “the article you searched was taken down on legal grounds, please search for something else”. 

 

Well, isn’t that suspicious. Izuku sighs and pockets his phone, Gran Torino would smack him silly if he was late. Will the older hero even be there? He hasn’t taken any interns since... ever, and the festival’s just a glorified talent scouting event. A tiny part of Izuku wants the grizzled hero to be there, but it’s outweighed by the rational side of him. Torino has better things to do than watch the student of his student participate in a competition. 

 

Hopping off the bus, Izuku draws himself up and stares out at the bustling landscape that is the school’s courtyard. Food stands of all kinds are littered around the open space, the few early spectators congregating around them to grab pre-festival snacks.  He can spot a few pro heroes amongst the crowd, mentally listing their names, ranks, and Quirks more out of habit than anything. It’s after the seventh hero that anxiety begins to stir in his stomach. The festival is a big event, he’s watched it every single year with a borderline religious fervor, but the knowledge that he’s now a part of it, that he has the chance to go out there and make himself be seen, it’s terrifying. 

 

With notice-me-not up, Izuku doesn’t have to worry about any stray reporters spotting him. Weaving his way to the locker rooms is a piece of cake, it’s what waits inside that’s the problem. Todoroki... this’ll be the first time since Friday that Izuku will see him outside of the classroom. There’s no excuses past this door, no reason to avoid each other, they’re both gonna have to face the music today. Or, you know, Todoroki could keep giving him the cold shoulder, but Izuku knows it’s not likely. This tension between them — whatever it is — is going to boil over today. 

 

There’s no way to beat around the bush. Izuku breathes in and pushes the door open. He’s not the first one here, Kaminari, Sato, Oijiro, Shouji and Kouda are all in some state of undress. Izuku hurries to step in and close the door, lowering notice-me-not, he struggles to get more than a weak “hey” out of his mouth. 

 

Kaminari jerks up in surprise, “Oh, hey! I know I heard the door open, but I didn’t see you there for a sec!” The blond shakes his head, “It’s like you’re Hakagure or something.”

 

“Personally, I think he’s more like a ninja.” Sato says while putting his gym shirt.

 

Shouji turns to look Izuku up and down. Staring for another moment, he turns back around. “...cat.”

 

The other boys — sans Kouda, who’s over in the furthest corner, already dressed — howl in laughter. “Holy shit, you’re right! Midoriya’s a freakin’ cat!”

 

Izuku feels his entire face heat up. “I— I—”

 

Kaminari drapes an arm over Izuku’s shoulder, “Hey, it’s okay man. We’re not laughin’ at you, we’re laughin’ with you.”

 

Izuku can feels his skin tingle where the other teen touches him, but doesn’t have the bravery to move. The words stumble out without rhyme or reason, “I’m... pretty sure that I need to be laughing, too, for you to be... laughing with me.” Hey, he managed a full sentence, go him.

 

Kaminari pats him once, “Well, you’re never gonna get chuckling when you’re so tense. Ease up a bit, Midoriya!” 

 

Izuku just wants to hide away, plaster himself to the wall and blend in with the stone. He feels his lips pull into a line as he stands there. God, he’s just standing there, why can’t he move? 

 

The door opens again. “Hey, assholes, you gonna keep standing in front of the entrance like a couple of jackasses?” 

 

It’s the first and only time Izuku feels relieved to hear Bakugou’s abrasive voice. Kaminari lifts his arm, allowing him to slip away and head to his locker with his head down. 

 

“Chill out, man, we were just—“

 

“Save it, fucker. It’s bad enough I had to have this read haired idiot harping in my ear.”

 

Izuku’s already taken his shirt off when he hears Kirishima. “Sorry ‘bout Bakugou, Kaminari, he’s kinda snippy ‘cause he’s not the one giving the speech today.” 

 

“Shut it you fucking—“

 

“See what I mean?”

 

Oh yeah, Izuku’s giving the speech. It’s funny he forgot about that, he’d been so worried about it yesterday. He even made all those cards—

 

The cards, which are on his desk, at home.

 

If he yells “shit” at full volume, all hell will break loose, so instead, he whispers it with such heartfelt fear he becomes aware of the rush of cold panic that passes through him. He’s an idiot, there is no other explanation for him to leave his notecards at home when he has a huge ass speech to give. He can feel how his legs shake when he moves the leave the locker room. The anxiety follows, curling around his stomach with an iron grip. What’s he going to do? What /can/ he do? There’s not enough time to go home and grab them, and the school is definitely not going to allow his phone to be used as a substitute. He can remember the gist of what he was going to say, but without those prompts on those little slips of paper? He’s going to freeze after the “hello”. 

 

Each class has an assigned waiting area. In the midst of his misfortune, Izuku finds the one labeled 1-A and steps inside. It’s a nice room, well lit, with a little snack section and water cooler to the side and tables spread out for student use. One problem, Izuku isn’t alone. 

 

Todoroki’s already dressed for the sports festival, leaning back in one of the chairs with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. Izuku can sense the “do not approach” aura from where he stands and is faced with a dilemma. Everyone else’ll take at least 10 minutes to get here, it’s the perfect time for Izuku to say something, apologize for what happened Friday. On the other hand, Todoroki really doesn’t look like he’s willing to deal with... people in general, if the set of his mouth says anything. Notice-me-not is up, a comforting buzz that fills the background noise, if Izuku doesn’t do anything, no one would know. 

 

He sits at the table furthest away from Todoroki, shame making his ears warm. He’s a coward, hiding like this. It’s not like Todoroki is Bakugou, he won’t get physical because he’s mad... right? He knows it’s his fear talking, but he doesn’t change his mind, he doesn’t stand up and march himself over to ask what‘s wrong, he sits there and doesnt do anything because he is a goddamn coward. 

 

Ten minutes creep by at an agonizing pace, each second more tense than the past. Izuku chews on his lip until all he tastes is copper. The tension eases once someone else comes in, but Izuku still keeps his distance. Kouda‘s a quiet classmate, but Izuku still doesn’t want to risk someone talking to him, so notice-me-not stays up and strong as ever. 

 

Everyone else starts to trickle in, chattering about what they think will be the first event. Based on all the previous festivals Izuku’s watched, he knows it’s going to be an obstacle race, but what kind of obstacles they’ll use is a complete mystery. UA is anything but stale, even if they keep the basic idea the same, they’ll find a way to change it up. 

 

Uraraka and Iida are one of the last people to enter, shoving past a group of onlookers crowding outside the door. Izuku thanks his lucky stars he got in earlier, even thinking about getting past that mass of bodies gives him anxiety. Now that his friend’s are here, he feels confident in lowering his Quirk. 

 

Uraraka perks up like a bloodhound catching a scent, spotting him within seconds of notice-me-not melting away. “Midoriya!” She rushes towards him, unwittingly dragging Iida along by his arm. “I can’t believe it’s finally the festival! Are you excited?”

 

A month of prolonged exposure to Uraraka has, thankfully, allowed him to develop the skill of not tripping over his words too badly. “Yeah, I’m excited, but... a bit nervous, too.” He forgoes mentioning the forgotten flash cards, today’s nerve racking as it is without him verbally confirming his mistake. 

 

Uraraka drapes her arm over his shoulder, “Well, just know we’ve got your back, even if it is a competition.” She winks, Izuku feels himself unwinding a bit at the cheerful aura coming from her. 

 

Iida pulls out the seat next to Izuku. “We have all been training very hard, I’m certain that you will do fine, Midoriya.”

 

Izuku stares down at his hands, “Thanks, Iida.” There’s not much else to say, which is of course when things go to hell. He’s so caught up in Iida and Uraraka, he completely forgot about the very real dilemma between him and Todoroki, who just so happens to be standing in front of him now. There’s a brief flash of terror that flares in Izuku’s gut, but it’s overrun by worry. Todoroki, he looks... exhausted. It doesn’t show physically, but Izuku can see the way he holds himself, the semi-glazed look in his eyes, there’s a bone-deep tiredness clear as a neon sign to those who know the signs. Is this because of what happened Friday? Did izuku have a hand in this?

 

“Midoriya.” Todoroki’s voice is too tired for emotion, the hole in Izuku’s stomach grows wider. “Your Quirk is strong, but looking at things objectively, I believe that I’m stronger.”

 

Izuku blinks, “A-ah, you’re probably right about that—“ 

 

“But even then,” Todoroki continues, “you have All Might watching, don’t you?”

 

Izuku has to physically stop himself from flinching.  “He’s our teacher,” he defends weakly, “he’ll be watching everyone—“

 

Todoroki’s not interested in what he has to say. “I’m going to beat you, regardless of who’s watching.”

 

Well, this is about as helpful as talking to a rock. Izuku wants to say something, but the words get caught in his mouth. Todoroki turns around and walks away, Izuku can only spot it because he’d been looking for it, but there’s a bruise peeking out from the back of the other teen’s collar. 

 

“Todoroki.” 

 

The room is silent, everyone watching this exchange with wide eyes and tense postures. For once, Izuku doesn’t give a hot damn if they stare. Todoroki, he’s... he’s— 

 

He’s like Izuku, in more ways than one. 

 

The first word’s out, it’s the icebreaker for all the others to come rushing in. “You‘re stronger than me, that’s true.” He dares himself to make eye contact, drilling into Todoroki’s surprised eyes with a determined fire, “but don’t write me or anyone else off, yet! We’re all going to try our hardest. And... and if I can, I’m going to try my best to beat you, too!” 

 

There’s a crack in Todoroki’s demeanor, Izuku can spot it in his eyes. A light that wasn’t before, the excitement of a challenge. It’s the first real sign of life Izuku’s seen from him in days. “I’ll hold you to that.” He says quietly, walking off to his side of the room. 

 

Izuku nods to himself and turns around, being greeted by Uraraka’s face alarmingly close to his. “Um...”

 

“That. Was. Awesome.” She whisper-yells, “You really took a stand there, Midoriya!” 

 

Izuku rubs his shoulder, “I just kinda said what came to mind, it wasn’t anything.”

 

Iida crosses his arms, “I disagree. Standing up to a friend like that, it was very courageous.”

 

“And,” Uraraka adds, practically wiggling in excitement, “you didn’t stutter at all!” She punches the air with a fist, “You’ve got this speech in the bag!” 

 

The overwhelming faith in him knocks Izuku for a loop. “I—“ the adrenaline still hasn’t worn off, it’s what allows him to smile at the praise instead of pass out. “Thank you.”

 

An voice comes in from the overhead speakers. “All first-year students, please begin to make your way to the stadium entrance. You will walk out in the alphabetical order of your class.”

 

Uraraka nudges him, “That’s our cue. Come on, lets get going before we’re the last ones to get out.”

 

The hallway they have to walk through is long, and with each step, Izuku can feel Todoroki’s eyes boring into his back. But he can’t worry about that, as much as he wants to. This is the sports festival, everyone is going to be watching, All Might included. This’s his chance to tell the world he’s here, and he’s not going to be ignored. 

 

All the bravado leaks out once he takes that first step into the arena. Roaring crowds nearly deafen him, and when he looks at the big screen, he sees himself looking back. 

 

Present Mic’s voice comes in through the speakers. “Ladies and gentlemen, I can feel the excitement! You know ‘em, you love ‘em, give a ‘hell yeah’ for class 1-A!” 

 

The cheering somehow increases in volume. Izuku can feel his shoulders shriveling in on themselves the longer he looks into the crowded stadium seats. He knew there’d be a lot of people, but... this many... it makes his stomach flip. 

 

Present Mic continues his narration. “As you all know by now, these students are a cut above the rest! Not only did they all score well on their entrance exams, but they took on real life villains and came out on top! Especially the dark horse of the class, Midoriya Izuku, who just so happens to be giving the opening speech!” It’s met with a roar of applause louder than any before. 

 

A jelly feeling’s making itself home in Izuku’s legs, each step feels like they might give out on him. 

 

“I guess they got word of what I told our classmates.” Uraraka says. She pats him on the back, “It’ll be okay, Midoriya.“

 

Izuku wants to believe her. 

 

The other classes are all introduced with a notable decline in excitement. Present Mic’s a pro at working up crowds, but the enthusiasm just isn’t there like it was for 1-A. Izuku makes eye contact with a teen with purple hair and a deadly scowl from 1-C. He can feel the disdain in those insomniac eyes and hurries to look away. 

 

The crowd of students begins to quiet when a female, risqué figure climbed the steps onto the small platform set up in the center stadium. “Good morning, everyone!” Midnight, the 18+ hero, calls out. There’s all sorts of replies, some polite, others.. crude, but quiet enough that she couldn’t hear. “Now, I know you’re all eager to go right into the action, but first, an opening speech by the highest-scoring applicant for the first year entrance exams! Will Midoriya Izuku please come forward?”

 

Izuku can hear himself gulp. When he tries to move, he stumbles, but Iida catches him before he can fall.

 

“You will do fine.” His friend reminds him before gently pushing him towards the front of the crowd. 

 

Breaking ranks from the group, Izuku can feel the exact moment the spectators’ eyes lock onto him, actually feel it. Hundreds of tiny pressures prickling over his back, not painful, but not comfortable, either. “You can do this.” He whispers, closing his eyes as he ascends the stairs with shaky legs. “You’ve got this.”

 

Midnight gives him a semi-reassuring smile before stepping away from the mic with a flourish. “Knock ‘em dead.” She whispers. 

 

“Y-yeah.” He steps towards the mic, feeling his throat get dryer by the second. “H-hello, everybody.” 

 

No one replies. Izuku can feel every stare, each hateful look from the other departments and knows what he’d planned originally won’t get past his mouth. It’s a strike of luck — or misfortune, depending how you look at it — that he spots Todoroki. 

 

The other teen looks the same as he did this morning, cold, horrifyingly cold and dead to emotion. Izuku closes his eyes, counts his breaths, and speaks. His voice is wobbly, he swears the way he shakes is affecting the way his voice sounds, but he doesn’t stop once he gets going. “We—we’re all coming into this with expectations. Some are f-for ourselves, some come f-from others. But... that doesn’t matter, what m-matters right now is trying our b-best. No m-matter what happens, I know that if I try my b-best, I won’t regret a thing, even if I lose. So—“ he exhales, “What I’m t-trying to say is: the only way you’ll l-lose today is if you don’t give it your all.” 

 

Silence, absolute silence. Then, like a spark that ignites the gunpowder, he hears Uraraka yell. 

 

“Hell yeah, Midoriya!” 

 

It’s a chain reaction after that. A large, uncontrolled chain reaction of students from all classes yelling their promises to do their damndest. Izuku’s left standing there in shock, watching the rippling effect his words have on the crowd below him and the stadium around him. 

 

“An incredible opening speech!” Present Mic yells over the speakers, “Yo, Eraserhead! Any words of wisdom for your star pupil?”

 

Wait, Eraserhead’s commentating? Izuku’s head whips up to the commentator stand. Sure as hell, his teacher is sitting in the adjacent seat to the loud hero, still wrapped up like a mummy. 

 

“... I’ve heard worse.” Is all his teacher has to offer. It feels like the equivalent of hugging Izuku. 

 

“Now, now.” Midnight says, gently guiding a still shocked Izuku off the platform. “Everyone, quiet down, I’m about to announce the first event!” 

 

Izuku manages to get back to Uraraka and Iida, but not without some of the other students whispering “Awesome speech, Midoriya.” and patting him on the back. By the time he does reach his friends, the so called “random” selection of the first event is nearing it’s final choice. Izuku isn’t terribly surprised when Midnight announces, “The first challenge will be an obstacle course!” But he is when only a section of the wall behind them opens up. 

 

It’s milliseconds before everything devolves into chaos. Students shove and push each other to get through the narrow choke point. Izuku doesn’t worry himself about it. 

 

At the moment, Izuku can barely handle 4-5% of One for All. The situation could get out of hand fast, making him lose control. For the sake of preventing his limbs from breaking, using 1 or 2% is ideal. Taking a few steps to build up his momentum, Izuku lets the crackling energy of One for All course through him. Leaping up onto the wall is almost alarmingly easy, and reading the other end of it is done in a matter of seconds. Landing back on the ground with a sloppy front roll, he keeps his momentum going and picks a steady pace. 

 

The zero-point robots are as big as ever, but Todoroki unknowingly helps Izuku out by freezing them all in precarious positions. It’s a matter of upping his usage to 3% for a short burst. He clears the danger zone seconds before the robots collapse on each other. Izuku can feel the ground shake under him, and while he doesn’t look back, he knows it’s going to delay most of the other students for at least ten minutes. 

 

So the race starts like this: Todoroki is up ahead, jogging with minimal exertion, secure in the assumption that no one else got past. Izuku thanks his lucky stars Present Mic is too busy narrating the students’ attempts getting past the metal debris to comment on him. He keeps a healthy distance between them, unwilling to have Todoroki become aware of him and possibly freeze him in place.

 

“Deku! You fuckwad!” 

 

1% of One for All is still enough for Izuku to be faster than most of the other students, but Bakugou? Being driven by anger like he is now? He doesn’t have a chance. Peeking behind him, Izuku yelps when he sees the blond hot on his tail. His body forces itself to drop in order to dodge the incoming projectile that is Bakugou. It saves him from being rammed into, but costs him speed and momentum. By the time he gets it back to where he was before, he’s forced to skid to a stop because there is a massive canyon with a few ropes attaching the few dozen rock outcroppings in the middle together. 

 

“... You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He toes one of the ropes, watching it droop a bit before going tense. “Well,” He says, getting One for All ready again, “here goes nothing.” 

 

Balancing on a rope is harder than it looks, and it already looks pretty dang hard. Izuku watches with dismay as students catch up and surpass him using tech and Quirk alike. He can only imagine how this looks to mom, to All Might. By the time he reaches the other side, he’s in twentieth place, but it’s not over yet, there’s still a few more obstacles before the finish line. Izuku can make it, he can and he will because mom’s watching at home and he doesn’t want to disappoint her. 

 

Izuku doesn’t learn what the third obstacle is until a kid in front of him goes flying in a cloud of pink smoke. Some of it gets in his lungs, forcing him to stop and cough it all out before getting a proper look at the scene ahead of him.

 

Dozens of mines litter the field, some have already detonated, others are barely noticeable. Izuku needs a second to take it all in because landmines, they’re actually using landmines in a high school sporting event. But when that second’s over, his mind is already hashing out a new strategy. It’s stupid, it’s reckless, and it’s exactly what he needs to get first place. Crouching into a starting position, One for All at 3% burns through his muscles, snapping like a whip when he takes off. Nearing the first landmine, he takes a breath and takes a longer stride than normal. His heel lands right on the rim, putting enough pressure on it to detonate. The momentum he’s built up already keeps him from toppling over, and the force of the explosion is more than enough to propel him to the next landmine. He zips past the other competitors, leaving them in his literal dust as he cleaves a trail of craters and pink smoke behind him. 

 

Todoroki and Bakugou are now in sight, and for once, Izuku’s luck is on his side, because there are two landmines placed side-by-side coming up. He has to time this right, or he’ll go flying like he should’ve when he stepped on that first landmine. 

 

Wait.

 

Izuku prepares One for All.

 

Wait.

 

Todoroki and Bakugou get closer to the landmines. 

 

NOW.

 

The sudden increase to 6% makes Izuku’s bones creak under the pressure, but the burst in speed in undeniable. He zips forward, ahead of both Todoroki and Bakugou. Then, right as he planned, his feet land on the two landmines at the same time. 

 

He doesn’t try to control how he hurtles towards the finish line, and when he finally touches down, he goes sprawling into the grassy stadium field, tearing up dirt with how hard he skids. He lays there for a quick moment, registering the road-rash (dirt-rash?”) littering his arms and legs. His face, thankfully, is pretty much unscathed. Staring up at the wonderfully blue sky, he finally registers what Present Mic is hollering over the speakers. 

 

“Incredible! Amazing! Astounding! Who would have thought to use the landmines to propel themselves? I can say with confidence that I have never seen such a thing before in my life! Ladies and gentlemen, our first place winner, Midoriya Izuku!” 

 

The cheers are still as deafening as they were before, but Izuku’s still hung up on what the hero said about him. Heh, Eraserhead is going to have him write lines about not being so reckless. He doesn’t care about that right now, a familiar face has appeared in his vision. 

 

Todoroki is standing above him, looking down with an expression that’s a careful blend of disbelief and shock. “You...” the teen says, “just what were you thinking?”

 

The adrenaline high is coming down, leaving Izuku dizzy and kinda giggly. “Oh, you know,” he gives the silliest grin he can manage, “I decided I was gonna go out with a bang.”

 

Todoroki stares. Then, he smiles for the first time since Friday. It suits him, makes his eyes a bit brighter and his aura less dreary. Izuku wishes he would see it more often. 

 

“You are... something else, Midoriya Izuku.” 

 

Izuku laughs, “You don’t know the half of it.” 

 

He’s here, he’s in the middle of the Yuuei sports festival and he is being seen. Thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of people are seeing him for the very first time, and he just gave them all a reason to stay tuned. For once, other people know he’s there and it doesn’t scare him one bit.

 

It feels pretty damn great. 

Chapter Text


Izuku knows he can’t lay on this grass forever, but dang is it tempting. The earth radiates a pleasant heat, clouds blot out the glaring sun, soft grass cushions his head, all he needs to do is close his eyes and he’ll be out like a light. But things don’t always play out like Izuku wants. 

 

Iida comes into Izuku’s field of vision. His expression perplexed, he asks, “Midoriya, are you aware that you’re on the ground?” 

 

Izuku makes eye contact with his friend. “Yes, I’m aware.” 

 

“Ah... do you need any help getting up?” 

 

“Nah, I’m good.” Izuku’s eyes close on their own, letting the post-adrenaline calm  wash over him. “This is actually really nice.” He hears new footsteps and a familiar, feminine voice. 

 

“M-Midoriya? Are you ok? Do we need to get Recovery—“

 

“M’fine.” Izuku says, opening his eyes to look at his two friends. “Just tired.” Extended use of One for All seems to have that effect. He might have to look into more stamina training. 

 

Uraraka blinks, “Oh, okay.” He’s not expecting her to lay down next to him. “Man,” She says, stretching her arms above her head, “this feels nice.” Lifting her head, she gestures to the open space next to her. “Iida, join us.” 

 

“Midoriya, Uraraka, this is hardly befitting of Yuuei students—“ 

 

Uraraka starts chanting “join us”, Izuku joins in after the second chant. By then, his eyes have closed again, but he can feel Iida sitting down through the earth. 

 

“I still stand by what I said... but you were both correct to say that this does feel rather nice.” 

 

Uraraka laughs. “The exam wonder trio, back at it again.” 

 

They sit around like that until Present Mic starts announcing the final students to pass the finish line. His scrapes sting and throb with movement, but Izuku ignores it in favor of looking around. While the power nap was very much needed, it leaves him a tad drowsy. He spots Oijiro, Tokoyami, Bakugou, Todoroki, and... the kid from 1-C who looks like he hasn’t slept a day in his life. He’s making eye contact, staring at Izuku with such hate it leaves him baffled. As far as Izuku can remember, he’s never interacted with this guy, never had the chance to shove his foot into his mouth or make a faux pass, so why is he mad? 

 

Present Mic comes in over the loudspeakers. “And coming in forty-first and fourty-second, Yaoyorazu Momo and Mineta Minoru! Give it up for the students who’ve made it into the second round!” The few jumbo screens placed around the arena start playing clips of the race, starting with footage of Izuku using the mines to laugh himself forwards. 

 

“To recap: coming in first place with a rather explosive entrance, Midoriya Izuku!” A raucous round of applause, “In second, Todoroki Shouto! And in third, Bakugou Katsuki! Give it up for our top three, listeners!” He gives the audience a moment to get their cheering out before continuing. “Now, you all might be wondering, ‘what might be next for our little heroes in the making? Well, wonder no more, Midnight! Do your thing!” 

 

“With pleasure, Mic.” Midnight appears in one of the arena entrances, twirling a microphone in one hand and holding her signature whip in the other. “Now, to recap, forty-two students have made it into the second round. Before we go on, I’d like to—“

 

A hand rises from the crowd. Izuku’s mildly surprised to see it’s Oijiro. “Midnight, ma’am? I don’t feel that I’ve earned my spot here. I’d like to resign.”

 

Muttering erupts around them, curious onlookers trying to speculate. Midnight silences them all with a crack of her whip. “It’s certainly not unheard of for students to drop out, are you certain?”

 

“Yes, ma’am, I am.”

 

“Well,” Midnight looks out into the crowd of students, “would anyone else like to drop? There’s no shame in it.” Only one other student raises their hand. “Well, please join the other students by exiting to your left.” She then turns around to adress the audience. “Let’s hear it for the forty students that have made it to the second challenge!”

 

Izuku stares at Oijiro’s retreating back. He hasn’t had the chance nor the courage to talk to his tailed classmate, but this feels out of character. Maybe Izuku can find him later, ask if he’s okay. Though, considering his track record with other classmates, maybe it’d be better if he kept to himself. 

 

Izuku’s attention is pulled back to Midnight, “Now! The second challenge will be,” Present Mic plays audio of a drumroll over the speakers, “a game of ‘the floor is lava’!”

 

Izuku needs a moment to stand there and register that, because Yuuei — the most prestigious hero school in Japan — is using a child’s game as part of the sports festival. This is his life now. Don’t ask him how it got to this point. But hey, at least he’s not the only one confused, everyone else is in the same boat. 

 

Midnight smiles coyly, “Cementoss, if you would?” 

 

The hero steps forward, placing his blocky hands on the ground. The earth begins to rumble. Izuku watches in fascination as concrete bubbles up from under them like lava, forming a square and building more from there. Structures started to form, platforms, poles, obstacles.

 

Midnight claps her hands, drawing everyone’s focus back to her. “Your goal is to stay off the ground as long as you can! Any contact and you’ll be out! The game will continue until there are sixteen left standing. While teams are not a requirement, they are allowed. You have fifteen minutes to make plans!” A timer pops up on the Jumbotron. A horn blares and the countdown begins. 

 

Okay, fifteen minutes to make a plan, Izuku can do this. He scans the platform and its initial obstacles with a keen eye. If he could manage to keep One for All at one or two percent like he did in the race, he could use his momentum to carry himself onto the higher obstacles. Midnight didn’t mention any rule against sabotage once the game starts, so Izuku’s playing it safe and assuming that yes, he can make people fall off. As for teammates—

 

“Midoriya, maybe I can use my quirk on both of us so we don’t fall?”

 

Uraraka’s on it. 

 

Izuku turns to Iida, who’s been pretty quiet since the announcement. “Iida? Do you want to team up, too?” 

 

Iida’s the class president, he’s spent at least one hour cumulatively lecturing the class on how important teamwork is, which is what makes him shaking his head so shocking. 

 

“I’m sorry,” and to his merit, he really does sound apologetic, “but I feel like I wouldn’t be giving it my all if I teamed up with you.”

 

Izuku’s not too sure how to reply to that. To be fair, he almost never knows how to reply to anything. “Th-that’s fine, Iida. Either w-way, let’s do our best.”  He holds out his hand, because that’s what feels like the right thing to do right now. To his major relief, Iida nods and takes his hand in a solid grip.

 

Everyone else has gathered in little groups, planning initial strategies. Todoroki, Bakugou, and a handful of others stay on their own. 

 

The timer reads 10 minutes, and so far, Izuku’s team consists of Uraraka and himself. It’s a lot better than if he was alone, but if they had at least one more member, it’d be fantastic.

 

“You’ve got a real interesting Quirk.” A voice drawls behind Izuku, making his hair stand on end with the poorly hidden disdain. “Really explains how you even got accepted in the first place, what with all that stuttering. Man, they’ll let anyone in these days, won’t they?”

 

Turning around, Izuku locks eyes with who he recognizes as the blond boy from 1-B. For the most part, Izuku likes blue, it’s a calming color and he loves to see it every time there’s a clear day. This blue, however, the blue that’s boring into him, evaluating him and finding him wanting, makes Izuku want to shrink. 

 

Uraraka frowns, stepping beside Izuku. “Dude, what’s your problem?” 

 

“My problem?” The teen laughs like it’s some kind of joke. “My problem is that stuttering messes like him get into 1-A while 1-B gets treated like it’s second-best.” He smiles with nothing but malice in the expression. “Not like it’ll matter. 1-B’s going to show everyone that we’re the best, what better start than taking down their poster child—“ 

 

Izuku dimly registers the orange haired girl coming up while the blond monologues, but he’s still surprised when her hand smacks the teen over the head. The blond slumps to the ground, stunned by the hit. 

 

“I’m sorry for his rudeness.” The girl says, bowing with a weary sigh. “Try not to take it personally, he’s always like this. Though I can say in confidence that none of my other classmates really hate 1-A.” She grabs the blond by the back of his shirt collar, dragging him away while he mumbles. 

 

Izuku and Uraraka stand there, trying to understand what just happened. 

 

“Well,” Uraraka clicks her tongue, “that happened.” 

 

“Yeah, that was...” Izuku breathes out through his nose, “really something.” 

 

Uraraka pats his shoulder, “You okay? He was saying some really mean things.” 

 

Not really. In less than a minute, that kid managed to target his main insecurity and go after it without mercy. Yet the timer reads 8:30 and Izuku can’t afford to waste any more time, so he chooses not to dwell on it for the moment. “Y-yeah.” Izuku lies, “I-I’m good.” 

 

“Good.” Uraraka pumps her fist into the air, “now let’s make some game plans! We gotta kick that guy’s ass!”

 

“I-is that really a good idea?”

 

His friend looks at him with an unreadable expression. “Izuku,” She says patiently, “he just talked smack. Where I’m from, we have a saying: ‘talk shit, get hit’. He just talked to you like you were a stain on his shoe, and you know what? Karma’s gonna smack him over the head—“

 

“—I’m pretty sure his classmate already did—“ 

 

“—And if the powers that be choose you and me to do it, who are we to refuse?”

 

Izuku’s not getting anywhere with this. It would probably be better if he joins in and tries to run damage control. Is this what it’s like to have friends stick up for you? If so, he’s not sure if he can keep up with Uraraka’s surprisingly violent tendencies.

 

Eight minutes and half a dozen plans later, Midnight calls the students to the edge of the concrete arena. Izuku and Uraraka stand side by side. Uraraka, for the most part, is relaxed, a bit nervous, but nothing too obvious. Izuku, on the other hand, feels like he’s shaking so hard he’ll ascend into a new state of being.

 

Midnight cracks her whip, Izuku’s still trying to figure out why administration let her have it in the first place, what with being surrounded by minors. “Contestants, are you ready?” She’s met with the battle cries of 39 teenagers, Izuku tries to join in, but nerves make his vocal cords freeze up. “Wonderful! Now, everyone get onto an object!” She gives them a minute to do as she says. “Now! The second challenge of the Yuuei sports festival begins in five!”

 

Uraraka positions herself behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “We’ve got this.” She tells him.

 

“Four!” 

 

Izuku feels himself gulp, “Yeah.”

 

“Three!” 

 

Uraraka’s tapping a nervous little tune on his shoulder. “You know, my dad had a saying when I was little.”

 

“Two!”

 

“Really?”

 

One!” 

 

“Yeah, ‘if life gives you lemons, squeeze them in life’s eyes’.”

 

Izuku can’t help it, he laughs. 

 

“Go!” 

 

A switch flips between them, swapping their anxiety with cold determination. Tapping herself, Uraraka hops up onto Izuku, wrapping her legs around his torso and clutching his shoulders. The crackle of One for All courses through him, charging his very cells. Leaping to the nearest platform is easy, Uraraka nothing more than a feather on his back. He keeps hopping until he’s near the outskirts of the arena. 

 

The vantage point let’s him see everything going on further in.  Bakugou’s launching himself from platform to platform via his explosions, kicking anyone who happens to be in his way. One of the 1-C kids goes spinning off track, landing so hard on the ground Izuku winces in sympathy. 

 

“1-B kid coming in from the left.” Uraraka whispers. 

 

Indeed, one of the other students is heading their way. Izuku dimly remembers him from the race, his Quirk has something to do with liquefying solids. He can easily make the platforms impossible to stay on, but maybe they don’t have to use them. 

 

Izuku eyes the concrete pole sticking up ten, maybe twelve meters away. “Uraraka,”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Use your Quirk on me when I jump.”

 

“What are you—“ she yelps when Izuku shoots off from the platform, but keeps her wits about her and does as he says. 

 

His stomach roils at the sudden loss of gravity, but it allows him to fly towards the pole with little effort. A jump like this, sans zero-gravity, would’ve taken him using six percent again, and his bones still ache a little from last time. 

 

He grabs the pole with one hand, swinging around it a few times to lose momentum. Once he and Uraraka have slowed down enough, he starts to climb. 

 

Once he’s perched himself on the top of the pole, he feels comfortable enough to say, “Okay, release me.” Gravity makes him wobble a bit, but with Uraraka barely weighing him down it’s easy to regain his balance. 

 

The new bird’s-eye-view let’s him see every part of the arena. The kid who’d been making his way to surprise them is staring at them in shock, his mouth hanging open. He’s too distracted to notice Iida coming up behind him. A gentle nudge, and the kid from 1-B is on the ground and out. 

 

Good to know Iida’s doing just fine. 

 

Tsuyu’s doing a pretty good job at hopping from one platform to the next, but doesn’t counteract Ashido’s slippery acid in time to keep herself in the game. Kirishima’s baiting people to come in close, activating his Quirk just in time to absorb their attack and bodily throw them off the platforms. Kaminari’s short-circuiting people just as they move to change platforms, making their muscles seize up and make them fall to the ground. All in all, class 1-A is doing pretty good. 

 

“Oi! Midoriya!” Izuku looks down on reflex, just in time to see a piece of tape stick to the pole. Sero flies towards them, grinning. “Heads up!” 

 

Izuku hunches over the top of the pole. “Get ready.” He feels Uraraka’s grip tighten on him before he flips One for All on. Squatting, he manages to snag Sero’s tape off off the concrete. He spares a moment to look at his incoming classmate. The adrenaline makes him bold enough to grin, “Hold on tight!” 

 

“What— ack!” Sero’s confusion bleeds into fear when Izuku leaps with the line of tape held tight. The sudden shift in momentum, combined with Izuku pushing on like a demented freight train, makes the tape snap at Sero’s elbow, leaving him in a free-fall towards the ground. He manages to get another line of tape out, and it does slow his fall, but not enough to keep him from landing on the ground with a soft “oof”. 

 

“Yeah!” Uraraka cheers, “Eat it, Sero!” She quiets down while he hops across a few slabs of concrete, but eventually says, “Hey, Midoriya, let’s kick some ass.”

 

Izuku doesn’t know where her competitive streak came from, but it honestly scares him. “H-hey, lets calm down a bit?”

 

“On the left!” 

 

Izuku skids to a halt at the edge of a platform, just in time to see Bakugou blasting towards them. 

 

Izuku can see his demise burning in those red eyes. “Deku!” Bakugou yells, “Fight me, you fucking coward!” Izuku’s forced to go to a previous platform, seeing that Bakugou just destroyed the one he and Uraraka had been on moments before. Being someone with a mostly-functioning sense of self-preservation, Izuku charges up One for All and takes off, leaving a screaming Bakugou in his metaphorical dust. 

 

“Midoriya,” Her voice is jittery from how often Izuku’s jumping, “he’s hot on our tail, what do we do?”

 

Thoughts come and go through Izuku’s mind faster than any percentage of One for All could make him. There has to be some kind of solution, some tactic that’ll surprise Bakugou enough to give them the advantage—

 

“It’s risky,” he says, launching them into the air , “but it might be crazy enough to work.”

 

Uraraka pinches his shoulder, “That’s nice and all, but you gotta tell me first.” 

 

“We have to—“ his foot slips, ending his sentence early with a yelp. He lands on his hands and knees. He’s still on the platform, thank God, but he doesn’t have much time to be thankful. 

 

“Gotcha, damn nerd!” 

 

“Midoriya.” Uraraka babbles, “I hope your plan’s ready, cause he’s—“ 

 

Her voice is drowned out by the sound of crackling. Izuku shivers at the sudden temperature change, watching his breath come out as frost. He scrambles to his feet and stands in awe of what he turns around to. A wall of ice at least ten feet thick separates him and Uraraka from Bakugou. To his left, he spots a head of red and white hair dashing away from them. 

 

Todoroki. Why...?

 

The sound of Bakugou blasting his way through the barricade cuts that thought short. No matter Todoroki’s reasons, he just gave Izuku the perfect opportunity. “Uraraka, get off my back.” He feels her legs unwrap from around his waist. “Bakugou’s blast radius at this power is about five or six feet. Can you see where he’s centering them?” He doesn’t wait for confirmation, “Hide against the wall. He’ll be too busy with me to notice you. After he’s through and in front of you, I want you to use your Quirk on him.” 

 

For once, Bakugou’s prickly personality plays into Izuku’s favor. Everyone’s deemed him the most obvious threat, and as such they do their best to be as far from him as possible. There’s little to no chance of another student coming over and pushing Izuku or Uraraka off. She’s just taken her place when the ice starts showing visible cracks

 

Izuku winces when the ice shatters, sending bit flying in every direction. At the center of the blast as always, Bakugou stands hunched and growling. “I.” He pants, “Am going. To kill you. You fucking. Deku.” 

 

Izuku takes a step back knowing that Bakugou will chase after him. “I-It’s not going to be like when we w-were little, Bakugou.” 

 

“Really?” His palms spark with the promise of pain, “And why’s that?” The feeling of someone touching the back of his neck makes him pause. 

 

Izuku’s lips press into a line that could almost be interpreted as a smile. “Because I’m not alone this time.” Darting forwards, he grabs Bakugou’s arm and starts to spin. Bakugou, now taken leave of gravity, weighs barely anything, and as such, he gains momentum too fast for him to counteract it with an explosion. Izuku winds up the throw, and when he lets go, Bakugou’s sent hurtling up into the sky. He has no delusions, Bakugou’s going to come after him and Uraraka with a vengeance; but, when Izuku looks at the Jumbotron and sees only seventeen people left, he thinks that with a bit of luck they just might live to see the third challenge. 

 

Uraraka cups her hands, yelling, “And stay gone!” With a face-splitting grin. She looks at Izuku, who’s resting his hands on his knees. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah.” He says, “Yeah. I just— we threw Bakugou like he was a discus. Having a bit of trouble processing that.”

 

Uraraka laughs, patting his back. “Take your time.” Once he’s back upright, she throws her arm over his shoulder and makes a sweeping gesture with her hand. “Two-thirds of the exam wonder trio, kicking ass and taking names. God help anyone that goes against us.”

 

Izuku giggles a little at that. 

 

Then, like a church bell, the final buzzer rings. “Aaaand that’s the end of the second challenge!” Present Mic announces, “And now, a quick break for our lucky sixteen to catch their breath! After that, the 1v1 matches will begin! Starting with these matchups!” 

 

Names appear on the screen, Izuku only pays attention to four names. Todoroki’s paired with a kid from 1-C named Shinsou. Hitoshi. Uraraka with Kaminari. Iida’s going against Bakugou, Izuku winces when he spots that. And he himself is against someone named... Monoma Neito. For some reason, the name sparks a feeling of dread.

 

Uraraka looks up at a cursing blond figure steadily coming closer. “I think that’s our cue.” She says, releasing Bakugou and grabbing Izuku’s hand. As they walk off the platforms to the exit, she starts talking. “So, I’m going against Kaminari, huh? Well, at least I know he’s got a limit before he dries his brain. What about you? You know this ‘Monoma’ Guy?” 

 

“I should hope so!” A haughty voice says from behind them. “Because I’m going to be the one who beats you like the sorry wannabe you are!” 

 

Izuku’s lungs freeze up. He turns around and goes face-to-face with the boy from before. The blue eyes are just as hateful as they were last time, possibly even more so. 

 

“Man,” The now named Monoma drawls, “how great it must be, relying on someone else to do your work for you.” 

 

Uraraka grabs Izuku’s arm a bit tighter, pulling him away. “Come on, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” 

 

“You can’t hide behind your friend forever!” Monoma yells after him, “in half an hour, everyone will know what a pushover you are!” 

 

“Don’t listen to him.” She mutters, looking darkly over her shoulder. 

 

Izuku nods. He feels a weight pressing down on his shoulders, almost unbearably heavy. Even the comforting buzz of notice-me-not doesn’t do much against it. He can’t tell if it’s the crowd’s stare or Monoma’s. 

 

The AC they walk into helps cool his steadily heating face, so at least heatstroke won’t be a concern. Monoma has to take a different tunnel to his class’ break room, something Izuku is ridiculously happy for. God, why does he let the guy get to him? Izuku’s earned the right to be here like anyone else. He’s sweat, bled, and cried — good lord has he cried — for months to inherit One for All, to have the chance to be a hero. So why? Why can a few words tear down the meager confidence he’s built up over these months?

 

His pace slows and eventually stops near the bathroom. “Hey, Uraraka?” 

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m just gonna... use the bathroom. I’ll meet up with you later.”

 

Uraraka looks at him with concern, but doesn’t press him. “Okay, Midoriya. See you.”

 

“Yeah,” he murmurs, staring at her retreating back, “see you.”

 

The bathroom is empty. Tile floors and tile walls hold only Izuku’s shadow when he steps in, and careful inspection confirms that he is, in fact, alone. He hurries to the sink, fumbling with the faucet to turn the water on. He stares at the running liquid, putting his hands into the stream and feeling it run through his hands. His face feels too hot, so he splashes himself with a bit of water and gasps a bit at just how cold it is. 

 

“You’re stupid.” He tells himself, staring into the reflection. His eyes are still watery from holding back tears, his lip’s wobbling dangerously and his hair has grass clumps in it still. “You’re so, incredibly stupid!” He slams his hands down on the counter, smacking against marble with a loud wham. He stares at the hairline cracks he made and wants to scream. “What’s the point? What’s the point in having One for All, putting yourself through hell and then some, just to start crying at words?” He covers his eyes with his hands, trying to catch his breath. “You, are Midoriya Izuku” he tells himself, uncovering his eyes and staring back at his reflection. “You’ve done everything to get here. You’re learning how to use notice-me-not and One for All, why does some— some bully’s taunts get to you?” He smiles, it’s wobbly at best, “Bakugou’s ten times the bully he is, and you sent him flying.” The self-administered pep talk starts to work. Izuku can feel his mood brightening, and, just for a moment, he thinks he can do this. 

 

Then he steps out of the bathroom and is confronted with an entirely new problem. 

 

On the opposite side of the hall, Todoroki and Endeavor are having some sort of discussion. Izuku hesitates to call it a real conversation because Todoroki looks ready to spit on the number two hero’s shoes. 

 

It’s a mix of stupidity and curiosity that has Izuku coming closer. Notice-me-not is a light cloak around him, allowing him to get close enough to listen in.

 

“— expected more of you.” Endeavor says with a scowl, “When are you going to grow up and cease this petty rebellion? It’s demeaning, for both of us.”

 

Todoroki’s expression darkens. Izuku can feel the air grow colder — and it’s not a metaphor, frost is crackling on Todoroki’s right side. “What I do with my ice is none of your concern. I’ll win this without using my fire. I’ve renounced your fire for this long, it’s not like it’ll be hard.” 

 

Renounced his fire? Izuku’s only seen Todoroki use ice. Though, considering who his father is, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he inherited a mix of his parent’s Quirks. But there’s something wrong with this entire conversation. Izuku’s never had a conversation with his father, so he doesn’t really have a baseline to speak of, but Todoroki’s posture is too stiff for talking to a family member. His hands are halfway clenched, like he can’t decide wether or not to curl them and settled for something in the middle. Todoroki’s acting like he’s half expecting Endeavor to throw a punch—

 

The bruises Izuku saw in the showers. Endeavor’s hands are big enough to leave those kind of marks. And the burns, oh god, the burns. The pieces are clicking together, showing a picture Izuku never wanted to see. 

 

Endeavor scoffs, his flames crackle a bit louder. “The boy with green hair. I’ve heard his power is awfully similar to All Might’s.”

 

Todoroki’s lips twitch into a frown fro the briefest of moments. “He won’t be a problem.”

 

“I Hope so, Shouto. Don’t forget, you are my masterpiece, your only reason for being in this world is to surpass All Might.”

 

Izuku watches in horror as Todoroki only inclines his head at that. This— this isn’t right. Parents are supposed to love their kids. They aren’t some, some experiment for adults to toy with. Past the fear, past the shock and the horror, Izuku can feel anger stirring. Anger on behalf of his friend.

 

Endeavor turns and walks away from Todoroki, coincidentally, towards Izuku. Notice-me-not is still up, neither of them have seen him, and it’s in the few footsteps of distance between Izuku and the pro hero that he makes a decision. It’s stupid, monumentally so, and on any other day, Izuku wouldn’t have even thought to dare it. But Todoroki’s his friend, and number two or not, Endeavor referred to his own son like he’s subhuman. It’s that thought that allows him to do what he does next. 

 

Pressing himself against the wall, Izuku waits until Endeavor is close enough. Then, with absolutely no one to witness it, Izuku juts his leg out and trips the number two hero in Japan. The man lets out a confused yell, then promptly falls down and acquaints his face with the tile floor. The sound of cartilage crunching makes Izuku wince, but not regret what he just did. 

 

Looking up, Izuku spots Todoroki staring at him with wide eyes and an open mouth. Very, very slowly, Izuku brings his finger up to his lips in the universal “hush” gesture. Todoroki pauses, then nods. While Endeavor’s still picking himself up, Izuku hops over him and hurries past the corner to reactivate notice-me-not. With the pro hero cursing behind him, Izuku books it to the break room and tries his best not to giggle hysterically. 

 

Because for the briefest of moments, Todoroki looked ready to laugh.