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It's not really a quirk (but yeah sure let's go with that)

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Izuku Midoriya, 5 years old

For years, Izuku Midoriya will dream of the day it all began, the day where the whole world seemed to open up into something bright and new, something terrible and secret. For the rest of his life, he will be forced into secrecy, into telling half truths and trying his best to avoid outright lies. His desire to be honest and true will be at perpetual war with the code and the price unknowingly placed on his head.

The lies will forever center on what he discovered that day.

And it’s not like it was a quirk, really. He had an extra toe joint, so he couldn’t have a quirk, not like Kacchan. The doctor had warned his mom that it would be impossible for him to develop a quirk. It didn't matter how much Izuku wanted one, the many nights he lay in bed dreaming, the way he would watch his peers with wide eyes and catalog how they'd first discovered their new ability. It didn't matter how prepared he was, or hopeful, or kind, or good. Izuku Midoriya would never develop a quirk, and that was that. His mom had apologized, as though it was her fault that he was broken.

Why hadn’t she warned him? Why hadn’t she confided that, even if he never gained a quirk, he would eventually be able to do things to help people, with abilities that none of his friends even knew existed? 

If only she told him where she had come from. If only she warned him not to worry about quirks or powers because he was sure to get something, someday. Instead, Izuku spent much of his time as a child wondering what was wrong with him and berating himself for something that wasn't his fault. Useless. Unimportant. A nobody. Izuku could remember Kacchan's face when he picked up that pail, and he'd thought he was just joking around. 'Izuku... you really can't do anything, can you?'  But he could, and he knew he could, and he couldn't understand why Kacchan had started trying to put him down all the time. 'You can read the characters for 'Izuku' as 'Deku', and 'Deku' means someone who can't do anything!' 

And that had only driven Izuku's desire to gain a quirk. He wanted to prove himself to Kacchan, to show that he could do anything, that they could still become best friends and eventually heroes together. But all the other children seemed to be transforming before his eyes while Izuku stayed the same. That one kid had been born with his wings, but each year they grew larger. Another kid could stretch his fingers longer and longer each day, and this other boy could remove his own eyeballs. The girls in class ran around in groups, blowing papers off the wall with gusts of air or controlling the shape of their ponytail. Izuku would stare around his elementary school, figuring out what everyone else could do and wondering what he had to change about his body or do with his arms in order to make his quirk appear. The teachers had told him not to force it, but he was the only one who hadn't discovered his quirk yet.

He just wished his mother had told him. But he'd learned long ago, back on that day, to be careful what you wish for. He'd always remember how it felt, standing alone in the attic with nothingness breathing down his neck. He would remember trying to take deep breaths like his mom had taught him, anything that would make it so he didn't have to turn around. Everything in him had been screaming that, if he turned around, then something bad would happen.

He was five years old; he knew that monsters weren't real. Kacchan had told him all about it.

But Kacchan was wrong about that, too. 

“Mom?” Even now, he could remember how young he sounded in that attic. Something about those vaulted ceilings made his voice echo, made the nothingness seem larger and more dangerous. The sound of his voice bouncing off the walls used to be something he enjoyed, spinning in circles and shouting at the corners of the room. The attic had been a room of discovery and fun and laughter, somewhere he and Kacchan could play without worrying about knocking anything over. It hadn't been this. “Mom, what’s happening?”

“Izuku, go downstairs!” His mother had stood tall in the attic doorway, her hair up in a bun, holding a glass of water and a plate that must have held his lunch. The hallway light had been shining behind her, and her face looked so stern. His mother was never stern. She was always bright and happy, surrounded by the smell of cinnamon cookies and autumn leaves.

But she was shouting at him, and his young body was hesitating, joints locking in place. The darkness stretched further behind him, looming, decaying whatever joy it touched. He remembered being so scared and not wanting to turn around. Something seemed to whisper in the darkness behind him, but he couldn't seem to move away. He’d been standing in the attic for five minutes too afraid to move, and he hadn't known why. He'd looked up at his mom, eyes wide and hands shaking. Back then, he used to cry when he was scared. So did his mother.

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

He could remember her shaking her head while she continued staring at something above him. “Izuku, go downstairs, now!”

He’d never thought of his mother as brave before that day. Kind and gentle and caring, but not brave. She wasn’t a fighter. She wasn’t someone who stood up to danger. She didn't know how to punch invisible bad-guys like Kacchan; she didn't have a strong quirk; and she didn't even like to watch hero fights on the news. Plus, whenever Kacchan came over to play Hero Saves the Day, she refused to play the villain, always saying she was the victim, the innocent bystander, the one that the two of them would be saving in the future. Because they were going to become heroes together, they'd promised.

But something weird was happening, that day in particular. Whatever it was, his mother wasn't willing to play the victim. Izuku could sense something radiating from her, but he didn't have the vocabulary at the time to describe it.

When she shouted the second time, there was something in her voice and her posture that had Izuku scurrying to obey, nearly tripping over his feet in his haste to fly towards the attic door, feet suddenly unstuck from the creaking floorboards. As he flung himself through the doorway, he'd heard a haunting screeching sound, a dull roar and crashing glass, before the hallway lights flickered out and plunged him into darkness. He'd stumbled down the stairs, finding his way through the dark, and headed toward his bedroom before barricading himself in the closet.

Izuku could remember putting a hand over his mouth and trying to listen over his panting breath and frantic heartbeat for anything happening outside the door. The silence seemed to echo and made everything seem still. He had been worrying about his mom, wondering whether he should go back upstairs because he wanted to make sure she was okay. She had told him to run… but Kacchan wouldn’t run. Heroes helped people! And he was going to be a hero... 

Obedience had warred against duty in his mind, his small form trembling as he covered his eyes with shaking hands. He hadn't known what to do.

And then the bedroom door had creaked open from where he’d slammed it shut, and he was trying to hide his gasp behind trembling hands. Scooting backwards, he had curled into a ball and tucked himself into the back corner of his closet, behind his old worn All Might plushie that he'd refused to let his mom throw away. Something solid kept nudging his hip as he squinted through the dust mites falling into his eyes. The bright light of his bedroom could barely be seen through the crack beneath his closet door. At some point, the lights in the house had turned back on.

“Come here, sweeetieee,” a voice had cooed, much higher pitched than his mother’s own.

Izuku hadn't known what to do; he didn't know where to move or how to get away. He wanted his mom to come save him. He wanted his dad to come back. He wanted All Might to appear. He wanted to not be trapped in his closet, with someone on the other side he didn’t know, with his mom too far away, and what could she do anyways, and how were you supposed to call the heroes on the telephone to come save you when you couldn't get out of your closet because someone was out there and they were...

“Come out, come out, little Midoriya-kun.”

He could remember pressing his lips together to keep from making a noise and pushing the leggings of his All Might onesie in front of him, the bulk of the body hiding his head from where it hung above him. The material of the onesie had been so soft, and the voice had been so scary, and he'd been so confused...

And then there had been noises of rustling around in the other room as his heartbeat sped to a frantic pace. It had gotten harder and harder to keep quiet, to make sure he wasn’t found. His lips had been shaking from where he continued to press them together, breathing shaking inhales through his runny nose. Tears were trailing down his cheeks, but all he could think about was his mom, wondering where she was and whether she was okay. The computer in the room was still playing a looped version of the All Might theme song that he had been listening to before he went upstairs. He always forgot to turn it off when he left the room. The rustling and ripping got louder, soft thumps like pillows being thrown. He could remember gritting his teeth, afraid he would scream, and pressing his face further into his All Might onesie.

Out of nowhere, the voice murmured, “Or maybe you’re in the closet, hmmm?”

He'd shut his eyes tight, willing the voice to disappear.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are…” He could remember a giggle, slightly crazed, and a large thump on the floor.

Izuku had shut his eyes even tighter.

“You can’t hide forever, and if you try, I can always burn this whole place down around you. Would you like that, Midoriya-kun? Have you ever smelled the perfume of burning flesh? It can be so sweet...”

The voice kept getting closer and closer to the closet, and Izuku opened his eyes to look around for anything he could throw or use to get past her if she opened the door.

“I’m going to find you… right… now!” At her last word, the door was flung open, shining the bedroom light into the closet's darkness. 

Izuku would never have words for that moment. The terror of being alone, of his mother not coming to find him, of there being no heroes to save him because this was happening inside his home and not out on the streets. Every time he'd cried from a scraped knee or gotten scared by the sound of a cat in an alleyway, every time he'd been left alone because Kacchan and the others had run ahead and he couldn't keep up, even that time where his mom had forgotten him in the playground and it had gotten really late and it was dark and he couldn't see and he was alone... none of that compared to this day. None of that compared to the terror he felt when some creepy lady who liked burning people opened the door to his closet, and all he had were his hands. And what could his small hands do against an adult? They'd never done anything for him before, not even when Kacchan would push him down sometimes. Izuku's hands had never stopped anything.

Until they did.

Izuku threw his hands out in front of him, half to hide his eyes from the glare of the room and half in a desperate hope to ward off whomever was searching for him. And through some luck of gods or genetics or fate, he'd succeeded.

All of the sounds in his room stopped. The All Might song was silenced; the woman was frozen in place.

The closet door remained open, a tall dark figure blocking the way out, with waist-length hair and glowing red eyes. But she wasn’t moving, not her hands or her body or her eyes. Nothing was moving. Could she even see him?

Slowly, breathing deeply, moving forward an inch at a time, Izuku could remember the feel of the wooden floors beneath his hands as he crawled underneath the woman’s legs and out into the room. He hadn't seen any movement in there, either. Even dust mites hung suspended in the air. He'd sucked in a shaky breath, looked around with wide eyes, and wondered if he had made this happen, somehow. If he'd stopped time or maybe paralyzed everything in place.

And then he'd had enough childish wherewithal to realize 'Wait, I'm in danger, and I need to get out of here', which allowed him to make a break for it while he could, scrambling to his feet and bolting out of the room. In the hallway, he'd looked frantically left and right, not knowing where to go, not knowing if his mother was okay. He'd wanted to go up to the attic to find her. He'd wanted to leave the house. He'd wanted to know that his mom was okay and that time had stopped and no one else was going to be coming after them. He'd wanted to escape this room and this house and find a hero to save them. Heroes always helped people...

Before he was aware of what was happening, his feet were following instinct and flinging him to the left, down the hallway, and out of the house. He'd shoved the front door open and been blinded by the brightness of the sun, making him raise his arms to shield his eyes.

Everything outside was moving. There were a couple of adults across the street, walking hand in hand; a car passing by across the road; the sounds of traffic in the distance. Izuku hadn't understood. Nothing here was stopped; everything was moving. From back in the house, he could remember hearing a shrill scream of rage and vague growling. He'd run down the stairs, face pale, hands clammy. Despite his clumsy tripping legs, he didn't stop until he reached the bottom.

“Oh, Izuku!” His mother was shouting at him, and Izuku would never forget that moment of relief (she was okay, she wasn't hurt, they were going to be fine) when he turned to where they would usually take the bus together. She was standing there, waving him over, her eyes wild and filled with tears, hair frazzled out of her bun. But she was okay, and that crying concern was a much more familiar sight than her firm stance and stern voice from earlier. “Come quickly, we need to go!”

It seemed like an odd twist of fate that a bus arrived exactly at that moment, pulling up to the stop, as Izuku ran for his mother. He could remember thinking that she must have called the heroes, that maybe they were told to evacuate and get as far away from the intruders as they could, just like he'd been taught in school.   

“Everything’s going to be okay, I promise, just get on the bus right when it stops, alright?” Izuku had nodded quickly, his heart still beating at a rabbit’s pace. He can remember reaching her, the firm warmth of her hand on his shoulder as she slid a backpack onto him and caressed his mop of hair. He had wanted to ask her more questions, what hero agency was on their way, who were those people, how did they get in... but her head was shaking before he could get the words out. “Once we’re safe,” she had said, and Izuku had nodded his head. He remembered thinking that, whatever was happening, they just needed to get out of there first, and then everything would be fine.

Luck was on their side that day. The monsters came, and Izuku and his mother got away in time. But no heroes arrived at the scene, and the house would lay abandoned for years.

Later, his mom would tell him that they were drawn to him. He had been practicing in the attic trying to force an ability to appear, hoping that the doctor was wrong and he wasn’t really quirkless. He’d tried shouting and holding his breath and focusing really hard; he tried jumping and running and snapping his fingers and flinging out his hands. He had done this before, but somehow on that day, something he had done must have worked because from far away, a demon and a warlock were able to sense him. They were able to sense his magic.

Because, as all tales of all Izuku Midoriya’s lives begin, Izuku was born quirkless. But in this specific world and this specific life, Izuku Midoriya had something about him that was special, and it wasn't just the goodness that radiated out of his heart. Izuku Midoriya had magic. Just his luck, though, there were demons and warlocks that had similar abilities, and they would stop at nothing to find him.

 


 

First Day at U.A

For the first time since he was five, Izuku woke up in a bedroom that would remain his own for the next four years of his life. He and his mom had been traveling around, never staying anywhere for more than three to six months, since he was a kid. Part of that was keeping demons off their trail. Part of it was never having enough money and always needing to travel somewhere else to support themselves.

The end result was him sitting in his bed, finally about to go to a school for the first time since he was five years old. He was fifteen, and while he wanted to be looking forward to his first day of school, he ended up finding himself carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Or maybe that was just the weight of the secrets his mom insisted they had to keep.

Making new friends at school was going to be hard. He wondered if anyone was going to ask about his life and where he’d been, why there were only the barest of formal records, why he had these scars or even the scales on his arm. If he was going to be changing in a school locker room, he really needed to think of some excuses before someone asked a question he couldn’t answer. Izuku didn’t want to lie. He hated lying. Maybe he would just… shake the questions off somehow? That might be best.

His mother knocking on the door distracted him from his thoughts, her soft words echoing through the wood. “Izuku, dear, I made breakfast for your first day of school.” There was a pause. “I… I’m so proud of you. I’m worried for you, of course I’m worried, but… you’ll be fine, won’t you? You're my strong little boy.” There was silence, and he heard a sigh before her footsteps signaled her walking away.

Yeah. Yeah, he’d be fine. It was just school, after all, and they were going to teach him how to be a hero.

He hadn’t been to a school since he was five, only showing up for official proctored exams so he could get good enough scores to apply to U.A.. He’d been dreaming of going there since he and Kacchan knew what heroes were, and that dream had never left him—to be a hero, to stop villains that put innocent lives in danger, to make sure that normal people could walk around and feel safe—although it had changed.

Everyone used to say he couldn’t be a hero because he was quirkless and you needed a quirk to become a hero. But he’d had these abilities for nearly a decade, and they didn’t feel much different than he imagined quirks felt. They had downsides, just like quirks, certain times when you could and couldn’t use them, laws that shouldn’t be broken, people who never appeared but were always watching to make sure you stayed inside the lines the rules gave you, those who misused their abilities and the consequences. It was just like having a quirk, only instead of “not being allowed to use strong quirks in public” because of normal city-wide regulations to protect against accidents and lawsuits, he wasn’t allowed to show anyone because they weren’t supposed to know that magic existed.

But how would he be able to fight villains with powerful quirks without using his abilities? He did well enough on the entrance exam, but he was lucky no one noticed and he got the circle set up in time. At school, someone was bound to notice him throwing stones around at some point, but he needed those in order to—

Izuku knew he either had a time limit until people at U.A. discovered that his abilities were more than just a quirk, or he was going to have to change how he fought. He already knew a lot of judo and savate, and of course he had learned to be faster than his pursuers from all that time sparring with werewolves. Still, while he knew going to U.A. wasn’t going to be easy, there had to be a way to hide what he was and still become a hero. There had to be. His mother wouldn’t have allowed him to go if he hadn't promised to find a way. She still might take him out of school if he couldn’t manage to stay hidden, as well, or as hidden as a future pro-hero could be.

Izuku turned over to look at his wall of posters—well, three posters, he wasn’t used to living anywhere long enough to decorate. The fewer things he owned, the easier it was to run away if demons found him and his mom again. And that was usually his fault, being found. He couldn’t stop himself from using his powers sometimes, if he was in trouble or if someone was in need. Whenever he used his powers without a circle, demons and warlocks could sense it. He remembered how he used to call anything that came after him “the bad men” in his letters to Kacchan when he was younger.

He stopped sharing information about them a while ago, his mother’s scolding shaking him to his core. He wondered if Kacchan even remembered all the things he'd told him or if Kacchan thought he was crazy or something. Izuku would understand; it had been years since they had seen each other, after all, and months since Izuku had received a letter back.

His Eraserhead poster glared down at him, the largest poster of the three, with a picture of the hero jumping away into the darkness of an alley. 'Keep yourself secret,' it seemed to say. 'Don’t let anyone know what you can do. No one can stop you if they don’t know you’re coming.' The poster had taken him months to track down after the hero’s 'debut' (he was never a highly publicized figure, after all), but Izuku looked up to him as a symbol of what kind of hero he could become, how he might be able to still protect people with powers like his.

His All Might poster served as a dichotomy to the first, the hero standing proud with a smile, saving everyone, being a symbol to humanity that allowed everyone to feel safe because he existed and could protect them. But how can you be a symbol and keep a secret like this safe? Maybe Izuku’s primary ability could be passed off as a quirk, but its power was two-fold, and he had other spells he could use that acted like some citizen’s quirks… those definitely had to remain secret if his primary ability became public.

“Izuku!” he heard his mom yell from down the hall.  

Right, he should probably get up. As Izuku started getting ready, washing his face, brushing his teeth, slapping his cheeks to wake himself up and make his mind focus, he began running a mental tally of everything he needed to have for school. He had already packed his bag the night before and—he checked the list on his desk—yeah, he checked off all the boxes for what forms and clothes and such he needed to bring. That just left him getting together some lunch, eating breakfast, and putting on his shoes before he left. He had roughly thirty minutes to get that all together and leave, so he should be fine. Right?

Forty-five minutes later, he was cursing his luck. What use was a familiar who didn’t come when you called them and got picky about your hairstyle right as you were trying to run out the door? And he meant ‘picky.’ His neighbors probably thought he was some sort of freak, now, with a raven pecking at his hair and him waving his arms around above his head like a crazy person. He just knew this was going to be one of those days.

“Popsicle, stop it!  Go hang out with Avis if you’re going to be prickly!”

Stupid bird. How did he even end up with a familiar that was a bird? Weren’t most familiars cats?

“Stop talking back to me, and leave my hair alone. Picking at it isn’t going to help anything! Ow!”

Popsicle must not have liked his shouting, because Izuku’s scalp ended up stinging all the way to the train. He wondered if any of his future classmates actually lived near his neighborhood or even in the city. Surely everyone came from all over. It would be nice to walk to the bus with someone, though. Aaaand yeah, there went Popsicle, right on time to dodge the bus. Friggin’ psychic.

With the timing between Popsicle’s pecking, the bus route being on time, and his rather frantic walk-jogging pace toward the gates of U.A., Izuku managed to make it to his classroom door with over two whole minutes to spare. Sweet. Okay, now he just needed to go in and maybe chat with people if there were time or… wait a second, were there raised voices inside? And didn’t that voice sound like...

“Don’t put your legs on the desk! Think of how disrespectful that is to your classmates. And to the school!  It’s school property! These hallowed halls have had famous pro-heroes—”  A stricter voice seemed to be talking emphatically. It sounded familiar, although Izuku couldn’t place where he had heard it before.

“Disrespectful to my classmates? Why the hell would they care? Tch, what kind of middle school were you from, you two-bit extra?”

Izuku’s heart stopped in his chest. It had been years since he heard the voice, but wasn’t that… Kacchan? Izuku began reaching for the door, hearing the other person continue from inside.

“I’m from Sumei Junior High School. My name is Iida Tenya.”

“Sumei? Well, aren’t you an elite? Guess I have a reason to end you after all.” That had to be Kacchan’s voice! Was he really going to be that lucky, to be in the same class as him?

Izuku opened the door to silence. Everyone else in the room seemed to turn in unison toward the open doorway, where Izuku stopped frozen. Why was everyone so early?! Was this a school thing? Were you supposed to get to class more than two minutes early?  Looking up, Izuku’s eyes met Kacchan’s scowl. Despite himself, Izuku’s lips twitched. He was here. He and Kacchan both made it in, just like they promised as kids. They were going to be classmates!

“Oy, you…” Kacchan seemed to be snarling the words at Izuku, his eyes as sharp and piercing as they used to be. Izuku gulped. Was Kacchan happy? Upset? It had been years since Izuku had to interpret Bakugou’s behavior, and his facial expressions never really matched up with the typical range of human emotion, anyway. Izuku would not have to pressed hard to admit he missed it. Hell, he’d probably shout it from the rooftops. Kacchan Kacchan Kacchan!

The other boy talking with Kacchan seemed to shift gears, straightening his back and striding over to Izuku. “Greetings! My name is Iida Tenya. I look forward to having you as a classmate.”

He was very loud and overwhelmingly emphatic. Izuku didn’t know how Iida made him feel. Slightly threatened, maybe. That was probably why he felt suddenly bashful. Izuku wasn’t shy, necessarily, but he hadn’t made new friends or talked to others his age in a while. Besides, he never was any good at introductions, and this guy was definitely intense. The last time he'd been taught how to make an introduction, it was with the werewolf pack.

“Uh… hello, I’m Izuku, uh, Midoriya.” He grinned slightly, ignoring Iida’s outstretched hand, and leaned forward to brush his nose against the other boy's neck.

Iida's body tensed up, his hands falling to his side, his mouth dropping open. A voice could be heard from one of the seats saying 'What just happened?' while two people laughed. Another person asked if that new kid sniffed Iida.

Izuku stepped back and looked up at Iida from beneath his curly bangs, biting his lips and half-whispering, “Um, sorry about Kacchan's behavior.”

Like I'm the one acting weird? What the fuck. “Oy, Deku, I don’t need you stepping in while I’m putting someone in their place. He’s the one rambling and butting in where he doesn't belong; needs to learn to shut his mouth.” Bakugou slumped further in his seat, jostling his feet on the desk. “Besides, this is my desk now; it needs to be worn in.”

Bakugou threw a smirk over Izuku’s way, and Izuku found himself smiling so hard it reached halfway up his face. He probably should be upset with Kacchan for being mean to others, but everyone here was training to be a hero. They could stand up for themselves. Plus, Iida seemed like he was ready to go off on him again, anyway.

Shuffling away from the door and toward the empty chair behind Bakugou, Izuku shrugged his backpack off his shoulder. Looking down along Bakugou’s feet to where his head was leaning back against the top of his chair, Izuku made sure to catch his old friend’s eyes. “I missed you, too, Kacchan,” he said softly, walking past the scowl growing even larger on his friend’s face and snagging the seat behind him. He leaned forward to nuzzle his nose into Bakugou’s neck in greeting. Bakugou froze in his seat.

“Deku…” Bakugou growled, turning around so Izuku could see his burning red eyes. Izuku had missed red eyes indicating friendship. They usually meant someone was out to kill him.

Izuku continued on oblivious to Bakugou’s glare. “So what do students usually do on their first day of school? It’s been awhile since I…”

“What the hell were you… with my neck for, Deku?!” Bakugou interrupted him, voice beginning to sound strained. He definitely skipped a couple of words in the middle of that sentence.

Izuku blinked up at him. “Uh… s-saying hello? To my… friend?” From Bakugou’s expression, he might not have made a normal social interaction. Izuku bit his lip. How else was he supposed to greet someone? Maybe like the tengu? They nodded their heads...

“Were you raised by fucking wolves or something?” Bakugou snarled back, and Izuku hoped that he was kidding. He knew about the werewolves, didn’t he? Izuku had written to Kacchan a lot about them.

Izuku stared at his friend in confusion. "I mean, I was raised with them...?"

There was a sudden noise at the door.

The nice girl whom he had saved from the zero-pointer robot during the entrance exam was squealing as she pointed at him. Bubbly and loud, he heard her exclaim, “Oh, it’s you! Curly-hair kid!”

How she found him so quickly in his seat behind Bakugou, he wasn’t sure. Was he that easily recognizable? That wasn’t good. He subconsciously moved to flatten his hair. Why was it always the hair that got him in trouble?

“I’m glad you made it. I mean, Present Mic said you would but… I wasn’t really sure what happened, I mean everything around us just seemed to stop and… huh? What? Are you okay?”  

Izuku was trying to hush her with eyes and facial expressions as much as possible, paranoid and highly aware of the room full of potential classmates and friends who were still sitting in utter silence around him. He couldn’t believe she actually saw what was happening! But didn’t he manage to affect her with his power as well? Before she could continue revealing one of the three things he was absolutely trying to keep hidden from his classmates—of all the things to happen on his first day!—another person interrupted them from the hallway behind her.

“Go somewhere else if you want to make friends. Not in the doorway, and not on my time. Honestly, you kids…” the person speaking seemed to be covered from head to toe in black and had just unzipped themselves from a sleeping bag, which was settled on the floor.

Where had this guy even come from? More importantly, was he capable of walking in a sleeping bag? That was a cool trick. Izuku stared down at the discarded bundle of fabric. It looked rather high-quality and seemed to have two separate zippered folds, perhaps an extra layer for colder environments?

“And if you’re quite done wasting my time…”

Izuku gulped and raised his eyes to quickly meet his… teacher’s? The guy seemed older with black shaggy hair down to his shoulders and suspiciously sparse facial hair; he also looked vaguely familiar. Maybe he could only grow a moustache? He also has weird white wraps around his neck in the shape of a scarf. Is it a scarf? The ribbon is rather thin for providing sufficient warmth and seems to be made of a strange material and, if anything, would be more useful as an accessory for detaining—

“It took you all eight seconds to quiet down. Not off to a good start.” The teacher finished slipping his sleeping bag behind his desk. “My name is Shota Aizawa, and I will be your homeroom teacher this year. I want you all to leave your bags and materials here. There are gym clothes in the locker to my right. Grab them, get dressed in the locker rooms a few doors down, and meet me out on the Training Fields. If you don’t know where that is, try reading your handbook. I expect you there in fifteen minutes, or you’re expelled.”

Wait, what?

Silence met his proclamation, although Izuku was pretty sure he wasn’t alone in his dumbfounded reaction. Three full seconds passed before everyone was suddenly rushing out of their seats toward their lockers, which seemed to be labeled by and keyed to their student IDs. Trying not to get in anyone’s way (but still having trouble because he seemed to be smaller than at least half of his peers), Izuku managed to unlock his locker, get the assigned clothes (they didn’t have size labels but seemed to be his size?), and followed Bakugou who was storming down the hallway. He’d bet all of Popsicle’s hidden candy stash that Bakugou had already memorized the school layout and knew exactly where the gym changing rooms were.

          They were all changing in the locker rooms when he heard a Whoa, hey, what’s that on your arm?” from a handsome boy with spiky red hair and red eyes.

          And of course Izuku was incapable of keeping cool. "Oh, uh, this? Um, nothing. Just a… skin thing.” Caused by mermaids. Who enjoy killing people like him or otherwise dragging them down to their early underwater graves.

         “Well, it looks cool!” Oh spirits, his smile was the friendliest row of fangs Izuku had ever seen. Was this kid real? And did he have a preference for eating meat, because biologically speaking sharp fangs are most often evolved for—

Soon enough, and within the time limit set by the teacher, all the students were outside at the Training Fields, most of them shuffling around nervously while others seemed to keep their stoic cool. In particular, Izuku eyed a kid with two-tone hair (red on one side, white on the other, how on earth do these quirk genes work) and another who seemed to have the head of a black bird and the body of an otherwise normal boy who was about Izuku’s height (he looks like the tengu I lived with for a couple summers! I want to be his friend! I wonder if he likes poetry).

Aizawa stood in the middle of the field near a circle on the ground. Once everyone was within earshot and relatively settled, he spoke out. “Alright, now that we’re all here, we are going to be doing a quirk apprehension test.” He paused, non-plussed, as a hand rose in the air and stared at the attached student. “Yes?”

It was the nice brown hair girl again. “Um… aren’t we supposed to have orientation at 8:40?”

Aizawa’s face didn’t seem to change facial expressions as he continued in a similar tone as before, if not slightly more exasperated, “You’ll soon find there are very few events at this school that are absolutely necessary for you to attend, and I’m not going to waste either of our schedules on the sentimental drivel the orientation offers. Everything you could learn there is in your handbook. Or do you want us babysitting you?” There was another pause as he seemed to both try to insult his new students and challenge them… or maybe he was just contemplating which of them would actually need babysitting. Izuku had gotten to babysit a few times for people he and his mom were staying with. It never ended well. He blamed the demons. His mom blamed Izuku’s hero complex. So it was 50/50, really.

Aizawa continued once all the students were sufficiently mollified. “Now, this quirk apprehension test will give me a good idea about whether any of you know how to use your quirks, your creativity in how you could use them, and how useful you may be as a hero in general.” He paused and seemed to look at a list in his hand. “Midoriya, let’s start with you. You scored first in the entrance practical exam. Enter this circle and use your quirk to throw this ball as far as you can, no holding back.”

Izuku felt his body still, and goosebumps raised up all over his arms. His… quirk? But his entrance forms definitely verified he was quirkless, and he wasn’t going to lie and say he had something he didn’t. “Uh, um, sir… I...”

Bakugou interrupted before Izuku could embarrass himself. “Deku’s a quirkless freak.” Okay, well, embarrass himself more.

“Uh y-yeah…” Izuku continued, throwing a shaky smile at his teacher.

Aizawa was zero percent impressed and even managed a sarcastic “And I’m sure I saw the zero-pointer get its foot get ripped up just by you standing there” before deepening his no-bullshit stare. He had the strongest ability to make you feel the size of a marble that Izuku had ever met, and Izuku couldn’t help gulping around a dry throat.

“Uhhh...” Izuku managed in response. Well, his first day was definitely going well.  First day at a new school, and he was already managing to piss off his homeroom teacher. Great. Weren’t they supposed to be the students’ support structure in school? Keep an eye on them, ask about their day, make sure their home life was okay? Oh shit, was this going to be his new pack leader?

Aizawa pulled out a phone from one of his many pockets (there seemed to be a lot, but his clothes were black so it was hard to tell). Looking down at the phone, Aizawa announced, “If you’re not willing to take this test, your score will be zero. And just so the class is aware, as an extra incentive to do your best, whoever earns the lowest cumulative score in this class will be immediately expelled.”

The class seemed to tense up in a collective WAIT WHAT reminiscent of earlier, and the nice girl began opening her mouth to protest, so Izuku straightened his shoulders and walked forward. “Um, I can… throw it, sir.” He could do this. He could use his ability if he was called to do it. He just needed to... uh, where were his stones? Crap, did he dig a big enough hole in his gym pants pocket back in the changing rooms? He just needed to slide a stone through the hole and… ah! Score! One stone down.

Izuku tried to nonchalantly walk in a brief semi-circle around the area Aizawa pointed to, dropping all five stones on the ground to serve as the five corners of the pentacle he needed to imagine in his mind. Breathing in deep, he imagined lines being traced in the dirt, connecting the stones, before he activated the lines connecting the stones and the ward of protection they would offer him.

That should be a safe enough radius for him to do this.

Izuku managed to briefly meet gazes with Kacchan while tossing the ball in his hand for a moment, before he reared back his hand for the throw. Just focus on speeding up the molecules of the air behind the ball, just enough force to propel the ball, a small enough sphere of air, focus, focus… small enough sphere... if you focus on the ball, it will explode, so DON'T DO THAT.

Izuku used one hand in a flicking motion at the air behind the ball at the same time as he threw the ball with his other hand. It sailed off into the distance with a pop of sound, the only noise a soft explosion of pure air. No one saw where it landed.

“Whoa… way to go! Now I’m gettin’ excited,” shouted the spiky red-headed boy (didn’t he say his name was Kirishima?) before Aizawa held up his phone. It read 402 meters.

“This is an example of one of the tests I will be putting each of you through. You’ll have no idea what your powers are capable of if you limit yourselves to what your previous schools allowed you to do. No more. Here at U.A., our motto is "Plus Ultra!" We expect you to be able to do more with your abilities each and every day, both with quirks and physical training. Now, show me what you are capable of.”

The class shared a round of smiles as Aizawa stared out over them one final time. He then lead them over to what seemed to be the primary running area.

“First up, the 40-m sprint.”

What followed was pure insanity. After picking up his stones, Izuku tried to watch everyone at once, cataloging their quirks, including strengths and weaknesses.

Bakugou was obviously one of the strongest and most used to his quirk, able to creatively apply it to nearly every situation (how were they supposed to use a quirk to do toe-touches, anyway?).

Some short kid with purple balls on his head, on the other hand, came in last nearly every time except when he managed to quickly bounce back and forth between his balls during the side-step test. The nice girl excelled in anything she could float or fly through, and the stickler-for-rules Iida boy beat pretty much everyone in the speed-related activities.

One kid had a laser that shot out of his stomach of all places that he used to propel himself left and right (at least the central location of the laser beam provided his body stability, whereas lasers from your eyes would have caused a severe head knock-back effect—). A guy with tape coming out of his elbows used them to overextend himself during toe-touches, swing around the softball for a throw, and increase the speed of his sit-ups.

The bird kid seemed to have a familiar-type quirk that he used to creatively solve most of the trials, never quite first but nowhere near last, although Izuku’s favorite was when he used his shadow familiar to do pull-ups. There was just something really funny about a shadow bird doing pull-ups. Some girl with a ponytail seemed to be creating stuff out of her body to help her solve each task (and how does she do that? Sometimes, he could swear quirks were based off magic because otherwise the physics just wouldn’t account for the mass allocation—). And so on.

Izuku, meanwhile, was limited to using his ability to times when he could set up a stone circle, which effectively ruled out all the distance running. If the test wasn’t one for pure athletic ability (which Izuku excelled at from prior training and, let's be honest, a life basically on the run), then he would try to find a way to drop his stones and use his ability as subtly as possible. It was well and good for the other students to think he had some sort of ability; but he didn’t want to have to lie and say it was a quirk, and he couldn’t explain to them exactly what his ability was. Every time he tried, something stopped him, a feeling of blood in his mouth and his throat choking on air. He hoped they wouldn’t ask.

In the end, using his magical ability involved blowing up air molecules during the softball throw, to give the ball more force forward; exploding the ground behind him during the long jump to give him more force forward, combining that with a diving forward motion and a forward flip to propel his legs further; and using the concussive force of a parcel of air to speed himself forward at the beginning of the 40-m sprint. Due to his physical training, he was able to reach farther during his toe-touches than 90% of the class and finished sit-ups faster than 70% of them. His grip test wasn’t the strongest in class, but he had been practicing judo for years, so his hand strength in general and gripping ability in particular were definitely stronger than other students who had spent most of their days taking notes during school.

In the end, their teacher put up a scoreboard for the students’ cumulative scores, and Izuku tried to steady his breathing as his searched up from the bottom. Some kid named “Mineta” came in last, then Hagakure, then… the list rolled backward before his eyes until he found his face and name. “Izuku, 8th,” right behind the boy with the squirrel-like tail that seemed incredibly acrobatic during most of the exercises and could use his tail to augment his strength for a lot of the sit-up and push-up exercises. Eighth place, not too much in the spotlight, not enough to be kicked out. Izuku smiled. It was perfect.

“Mineta, go back to the classroom and pack your bag. If you want, you can go to the central office and see if there’s a place in General Studies. Otherwise, head home.”

Silence met Aizawa’s proclamation, to which he turned his flat gaze upon his students’ faces once more.

“We have no place in the Hero Course for someone who can only find one way to excel. The life of a hero is dangerous, and failing to perform your best for even a moment could cost some civilian their life. Think me cruel if you want, but I will not promote fools.” With one last glance, Aizawa started moving back toward the school. His parting words were, “Now, you only have ten minutes to change clothes and return to the classroom. Good luck.”

Once again, they all scrambled to obey.

...

Back in the classroom, Aizawa sighed as he settled himself into his sleeping bag for a few minutes until the students returned. There was one problem removed. What was the kid thinking, using two-use balls to become a pro-hero? Perhaps he could be a useful sidekick if someone needed to climb walls or stick a villain in place, but he didn’t use his quirk inventively enough. The boy didn’t even try.

Aizawa sighed. He probably would have expelled three more of the students, but the Invisible Girl could definitely be useful for surveillance, as could the girl with the earphone jacks. And although his quirk did seem to make him a bit of an idiot when he overused it, the boy with the electricity quirk could certainly be useful in many roles. That Mineta kid just freaked out, complained, and cried the whole time, though.

Aizawa scoffed as he thought about the Midoriya boy from the beginning. “Quirkless? Really.”

Why would anyone want to claim to be quirkless on forms? Having a quirk was basically a social pre-requisite in the modern day, and the boy obviously had something for a quirk. He wondered why it wasn’t registered and if he needed official testing for it. Midoriya's ability seemed to allow him to give force to an object or area, Aizawa thought, reminiscing on the softball throw. But it was able to act on non-solid objects, like the air, just as well as to solid objects, like the ground. Racking his brain, he couldn’t think of a suitable quirk. Perhaps something involving explosive force? A combination of his parents’ quirks might be possible...

Uploading a folder marked “Midoriya - Class 1A” from his phone’s school database, Aizawa read off: “Izuku Midoriya, Parents: Inko Midoriya (Quirk: Attraction of small objects) and Hisashi Midoriya (Quirk: Fire Breath).”

Since fire involved speeding up air molecules, perhaps having that quirk combined with a minor telekinesis quirk, would allow the boy to… speed up the molecules of an object?  It could make a sort of sense. Something still rubbed Aizawa the wrong way about the whole deal, though. Why did his forms insist he was quirkless? And that boy, Bakugou, said the same thing. Why hide your ability like that?  

Aizawa tried to shake off thoughts of government plots and secrecy clearances as he wiped his phone of the data, before his eye caught on one last fact. ‘Former education: None recorded.’

Where on earth was this boy from? And how was he going to teach a boy who’d never been taught?