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More Than One Hero

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Mitsuki will always be eternally grateful that her son inherited his father’s personality instead of hers. An explosive temper mixed with a literal explosive quirk? It was a headache just thinking about it. She thanked whatever deity had made it so that Katsuki was more like Masaru.

He was a quiet child, preferring to let the other children invite him to play, rather than actively starting any games. He liked helping people whenever he could; helping children find their lost toys, fetching or delivering items when people asked, or even just giving someone a listening ear. That didn’t change when his quirk manifested. She had been worried about it, not because he had a quirk—but because everyone else made such a big deal about it. She had never seen adults and children alike gush about someone’s quirk like that.

“With your son’s quirk, he could be a great hero!” One of his teachers had said during a parent-teacher meeting. She remembers having Masaru squeeze her wrist softly as a warning just so she wouldn’t lash at him, physically or verbally. Just his quirk? She had wondered bitterly. That’s the only reason why he’d be a great hero? Not his kindness, or willingness to help others, or even his intellect?

“Was it like that, when we were kids?” She grumbles when they go home. “Fuck’s sake, we didn’t even talk about grades,” she huffs. “If he had kept waxing poetic words about Katsuki one more time, I’d have gotten a restraining order—so fucking creepy.”

“There were a lot more passive quirks our time,” Masaru says, he gestures at her and then gestures at himself for emphasis. “And a lot more quirks that weren’t very useful in combat or rescue.”

“If everyone’s future was based on how heroic their quirk was—I’d have insisted on being a hero myself,” she snorts. She puffs up her chest and puts her hands on her hips. “The slippery hero, Slip n’ Slide!” She laughs.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Masaru says. “A beautiful woman in a tight bodysuit, fighting villains while her skin glistens with oil?” He smiles, deceptively innocent. “I would have definitely rooted for her.”

She punches his arm in retaliation.

Later, they have a talk with Katsuki. How heroes were more than just their quirks, and how his quirk didn’t necessarily mean he should be a hero—despite what people say. Katsuki will smile and nod, saying he already knew that.

“It’d be cool though,” he muses quietly, after they’ve had that talk. “To be a hero, I think it’d be less lonely.”

“Lonely?”

“There’s so many heroes now, not just one,” he murmurs. “And there’re schools for it too, nobody would have to be lost and confused.”

She feels like there’s a deeper meaning to that, something old and bitter.

 


 

They find out that Katsuki does have his mother’s temper and mouth.

He’s five years old and is glaring at his teacher with so much anger and disgust that it shocks her. He’s holding another boy’s hand, one that she recognizes as Inko’s son, Izuku (yeesh, of all things he had to get from her, it was the intense waterworks). There are three other boys in the room, looking like they’ve just had dodging practice with a pitching machine and failed miserably.

They’re called because Katsuki had beaten them up in class. The teacher explains that her son had given the boys black eyes and bruises, and lectures them that this was not acceptable behavior. The boys' parents will be hearing about this.

She’s still confused on why Izuku is here, as he neither looked injured nor seemed to have been in the fight.

Katsuki tugs at her blouse, and says quietly, “They were being mean to Deku, and he did nothing but watch.”

Mitsuki doesn’t know the whole story, but she remembers teachers gushing about their students' quirks. Remembers how everything else often took a backseat. How even Masaru had gotten sick of hearing the same quirk-related praises the school feeds them about their son, again and again.

Remembers how Inko had confided to her that she was worried about her son being quirkless.

If a kid having a “heroic” quirk would get so much one-sided praise, how much more if a kid had no quirk at all? It was a question that she never bothered asking, a question that never popped up in her mind.

She doesn’t like the answer.

 


 

“K-kacchan, maybe y-you should stop being so mean to t-them,” Izuku says one day, looking at the ground. He’s trying not to look at his (only) friend. “M-maybe you s-should hang o-out with other people? I saw t-them being mean to you too,” he adds quietly. “I-it’s not really w-worth-”

He gets a soft bop to his head.

“When they stop being an ass to you, then I’ll stop,” is the blunt reply. “And I’ll be friends with them if they stop being an ass to you.”

Izuku looks up at that, gasping scandalously.

“Kacchan! No swearing! Your parents—!”

Kacchan gives him a look.

“… Okay, they wouldn’t, but you might get into trouble again!”

Kacchan shrugs.

“Kacchan!”

Kacchan huffs, shaking his head, “Deku,” he says. “If everyone had a fairy and I didn’t, would you still be my friend?”

“H-huh?” What did fairies have to do with this?

“If everyone had a fairy,” Kacchan repeats, shoving his hands into the pockets of his shorts. “And I didn’t, would you hate me for it?”

“No?” Izuku answers, confused. “That’s a stupid reason to hate someone.”

“So you’d still want to be my friend even if I never get a fairy?”

“Yeah?”

“Even if there are other people with fairies?” Kacchan tilts his head. “Why? People with fairies are much cooler.”

“You’re not my friend because of some fairy!” Izuku protests. “You’re nice and smart and cool, you don’t need a stupid fairy for that!”

Kacchan smiles. “Then why should I stop being friends with you?” He asks. “Even if you’re fairyless?”

Fairyless? What did he-?

… Oh.

… Oh!

“I’m beginning to wonder if you actually have a quirk,” Kacchan muses, looking up at the twin water geysers that burst out in front of him in fascination. “Because I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible to have that much tears.”

 


 

“It would be nice to have a fairy though,” Izuku sniffles, wiping away his tears with his shirt.

“Maybe you will, just later,” Kacchan says, mentally noting that he should start bringing a pack of tissues. “Or maybe you’ll get something else, something just as good.”

“Like what?”

“An imp or a talking hat,” Kacchan shrugs. “Or a talking sword or a shiny golden hero that’s usually a skeleton.”

Now it's Izuku's turn to give him a look. “Kacchan, you’re weird.”

 


 

While Mitsuki and Masaru definitely dodged a bullet with Katsuki’s mild temper (unless someone hurts Izuku), he was still without his quirks—erm, oddities (sometimes Mitsuki wonders whose bright idea was it to name quirks as quirks—and why the rest of society agreed to it).

Such as his love for exploring and hoarding.

A lot.

In extreme levels.

He had the odd habit of searching and peeking into every nook and cranny of any place he was in, going so far as to use his quirk to dig holes or create tiny child-size caves when they were around things with soil and rock. The first time he’d done that, she nearly had a heart attack.

Mitsuki had pinched his ears when she saw him surrounded by holes at the edge of the creek near his school. Masaru had just stood there, looking amused, the fucking asshole.

“Why the fuck were you even digging holes?” She asks, looking at her son’s destructive masterpiece in horror and awe. “Just—why?”

“Kacchan and I were treasure hunting!” Izuku says (she mentally forgives Inko that Katsuki will probably corrupt her sweet and cute son with his stress-inducing ways—she knows Inko gets stress ulcers a lot). He drags his All Might-themed wagon and shows off said treasure. There were a few empty bottles (surprisingly not broken), a wooden slingshot, a huge amount of seeds, and a muddy glass ornament. “He said it was a good trait for a hero!”

“You won’t know when you need them,” Katsuki agrees, tone ridiculously solemn. “A hero is always prepared.”

All in all, it was just junk—the only thing that seemed treasure-like was the heart shaped glass. If it were cleaned, it’d probably be a pretty paperweight. She looks at Izuku’s earnest face and Katsuki’s relaxed stance and sighs. It’s pretty rare to see his son having so much fun with another kid, and Izuku deserves every little bit of happiness with the amount of shit that’s been pelted at him recently.

“You’re filling up those holes afterwards,” she orders. “And explosions are only allowed if it’s small, outside, and on natural ground.”

“How about if it’s on natural walls?” Katsuki asks, eyes mischievous.

“And is small like Kacchan’s explosions now or last week?” Izuku asks, genuinely concerned. “’Cuz they were bigger last week, and it was bigger last-last week! It was so cool, Kacchan blew up this rock and we found this cave and-”

Yeah, fuck this. “Masaru, stop laughing and deal with your sassy child!”

She hopes he grows out of it.

(that never happens, the best she can do is tone it down—she swears if it weren’t for her and Masaru, he’d probably be destroying pots, crates, and even plant life for the sake of his hoarding)

 


 

“You can keep the slingshot and container,” Kacchan says, giving said items to him. “You found them, so you keep them.”

“Are you sure, Kacchan?” Izuku asks. The slingshot looked cool, and he supposed his mom would like having the heart. It was pretty, now that Kacchan wiped it with his shirt.

“Yeah—oh, that’s right, you don’t know how to use a container, don’t you?”

“Um, the heart?” He gets a nod. “I was gonna give it to kaa-chan.”

Kacchan snorts. “I mean, you could, but it’s also useful for being a hero, you know?” He taps at the glowing heart. “You use it and it makes you stronger.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, think of it as increasing your HP.”

“That’s so cool,” Izuku whispers, not hesitating to believe his friend’s words. He learned later on that Kacchan always said weird things, but they were always true. Like the time he showed him the tiny people in the library, or the time he played a song in his recorder that made it rain the whole day. He looks down at the glass heart in awe. “How do I use it?”

Kacchan looks away and mumbles, “It’s fucking gross and weird, but it works, okay?”

"You shouldn't swear."

"You want the heart or not?"

Years later, Izuku will look back at his childhood and will wonder if it was preparation for this day at Dagobah Beach. To desensitize him from seeing, experiencing, and consuming a lot of, pardon using Kacchan’s language, weird shit.

As he stands in front of his idol, who was offering a strand of his hair, he thinks it probably was.

Well, at least this was easier to swallow than a glowing beating heart.

 


 

“What’re you gonna do with the seeds?”

“Plant them in kaa-chan’s backyard and get more seeds—maybe even some nuts.” Kacchan offers a handful of the seeds, Izuku takes them, letting out an inquiring sound. “You can use them as ammo for your slingshot, they’re better than rocks.”

Izuku tries them out, getting pointers from Kacchan on how to shoot better. The seeds are light and small, but they’re also incredibly hard. He tries out some small pebbles near the creek, just to test out different possible ammo. He finds that Kacchan is right—the seeds are better. The pebbles are too heavy and slow for him. He wonders if he can use it with any kind of seed.

“Any seed would be shit, those are the best,” Kacchan says. “They’re deku seeds after all.”

Izuku beams.

 


 

“Katsuki, why the fuck does this plant have a face? And why is it smiling at me?”

“Oh,” her son’s head pops out from the door, glancing at the new sprout in her garden. “It’s not the mutant flytrap, that’s good.”

“That neither explains it nor comforts me in the slightest.”

 


 

They find out about the games when Inko buys her son a new game console for his birthday. It comes with a few games, and Izuku drags Kacchan to his home just to play this one game he really wants to try with his friend.

“They have all the heroes of other games!” Izuku gushes, turning on the console and giving his friend a controller. “And the stages are so cool!”

“You tried this first because it had the word ‘Smash’ in it, didn’t you?” Kacchan asks dryly, Izuku pointedly ignores it.

The opening sequence is pretty cool, and he wonders why Kacchan twitches at one scene. Izuku explains the rules of the game, and then they’re selecting characters. They play a few rounds, Kacchan mostly silent beyond responding to Izuku’s questions. His friend selects a different character each game, while Izuku leans towards one character—switching from either the adult or toon version of him. Kacchan notices this and asks why.

“I like him, he’s my favorite,” Izuku explains, gesturing at the blond man with a green outfit standing on his side of the character select screen.

“He doesn’t seem as versatile compared to the others,” Kacchan comments quietly. “Or that strong or fast.”

“He reminds me of you,” Izuku says. “So I like him.”

It was the first time he won against Kacchan.

 


 

He buys the games with that character out of curiosity and loves them. And being the info geek that he was, he researches fervently about it.

“The titles are like that because it’s based on some ancient journals they found written by a queen of the same name,” he huffs, feeling oddly put-out and defensive for the protagonist of a bunch of fairytales. They’re in Kacchan’s home, studying for exams. Supposedly anyways. Kacchan’s mom came in to give them a tray of snacks, and he’s munching on a bowl of peanuts while sharing his findings to his friend. “Which is still stupid, shouldn’t it start as ‘Legend by’ instead of ‘Legend of’?”

“It doesn’t sound as catchy,” Kacchan points out.

“Then they should have just said ‘Legend of Link’ instead of Zelda,” he grumbles. “That’s way catchier, and at least it’s fair—Link’s the hero after all.”

“Mn,” Kacchan looks away and starts to fervently read his book, which Izuku knows it means he's embarrassed.

“And I look nothing like a deku scrub,” he adds.

“I never said you did.”

 


 

Over the years his classmates have stopped bothering him. Kacchan looking them in the eye, raising his hands, and letting out a few small ominous explosions while saying nothing can be very good motivation to, as Kacchan often says, not be an asshole to him.

It doesn't get worse, but it doesn't get better either. Nobody wants to befriend the quirkless kid. The best classmates he can get are people who can tolerate him. Only Kacchan has remained his friend, and only he has remained Kacchan’s friend. The blond won’t give the time of day to anyone who doesn't want to be friends with him. He feels guilty for being the reason why Kacchan doesn’t have friends who he can hang out with at the end of class. Why Kacchan only visits his apartment during weekends, and not anyone else's.

He feels guilty but he can't help feeling relieved too, because he’d expected to live life a little lonelier and harder the moment his doctor said he was quirkless. Being quirkless was so rare, he’s never met another person in his life who was quirkless. And always, life never missed the opportunity to point out how his dream seemed impossible. His mother never answered his question, his classmates made fun of him for wanting to be a hero, and his teachers practically discouraged it by looking at him with pity.

Kacchan had just looked at him oddly and said simply, “Well, you won’t be a hero if you don’t start.”

“Start?” Izuku had repeated, wondering if Kacchan was mocking him too. Start what? Getting a quirk? Giving up? “How?”

“Dunno, it’ll happen as long as you don’t stop—fighting, living, doing things, collecting items,” he scratched his head. “Just… start on your adventure, don’t do bad things, and everything else will happen…?” Kacchan looks unsure himself, his face looking like he was reflecting his life choices and staring at them incredulously. It's something he sees in Kacchan’s parents sometimes.

It was a half-baked explanation, too vague and too much like a corny line you’d find in a fortune cookie. But it made Izuku happy, because it had nothing to do with quirks. There was no mention of working harder, or it will be difficult with your disadvantage, or you’d need to compensate—you’re smart so maybe you can be in support, or even the blatant you can’t be a hero without a quirk.

“I can’t be a hero without an adventure,” he had murmured. And it made sense. Even heroes like All Might had to have gotten their experience from somewhere, right? That’s why hero schools exist. “H-how do I start?”

Kacchan blinked.

“An adventure,” he had said, clenching his fists. “How do I start?”

Kacchan hummed, tapping his chin. “Wanna go treasure hunting near the woods? You’d be surprised how much shit there is in tall grass,” he tilted his head. "Then we can help that old lady who runs the tea shop."

“Kacchan, don’t swear!”

"I'm not as bad as before, you know."

 


 

Izuku meets All Might by nearly suffocating via random sludge monster. It’s a pretty good first villain encounter in his books, and he’ll take every bit of advantage in not dying. That’s what Kacchan always told him.

“Luck is a thing everyone gets,” he had said. “Knowing that it’s luck and milking it for all its worth is the difference.”

Izuku is lucky to be alive, is lucky to be alive and meet All Might (and get his autograph, oh god, this will be a family heirloom), and he sure as hell will push his luck even further.

He grabs All Might’s leg as he jumps, he discovers a secret, and he gets his heart shattered. His idol, his inspiration for wanting to be a hero, tells him he can’t do it. Try another occupation, something safer and possible.

He wonders if he misinterpreted this, that this was unlucky instead of lucky. It feels like it.

He doesn't have time to ponder this as he finds that the sludge villain escapes and has taken Kacchan as hostage. He wonders why Kacchan isn’t doing anything besides making explosions because he knows his friend has a lot of things for every—his bag is far away and he can’t move, that’s why. Oh god, this is his fault, isn't it? He made All Might drop the bottle when he tackled his leg.

He runs.

Don’t stop.

He pushes through the crowd, frantically looking in his bag for his slingshot. His mind quickly scans through his mental notes of his journals. Find weakness, exploit weakness, get Kacchan out. He doesn’t have to defeat the villain, but nothing will happen if nothing is done.

He’s out of the crowd and rushes towards the villain.

Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop.

He loads his slingshot with seeds and fires at the villain’s eyes. The villain howls in pain, momentarily stopping his suffocation hold on Kacchan. He grabs some deku nuts from his pocket and aims at the ground near the villain. There’s a flash and the villain is paralyzed, though only temporary.

“Kacchan!” He gasps, trying to dig out his friend from the layer of oozy gunk covering him. “D-don’t worry! I’ll get you out—this is so gross, ohmygod,” how thick was this sludge? How does this quirk even work? He throws another nut as he notices the villain starting to wiggle.

“Least you didn’t fucking eat it,” Kacchan rasps, trying to pull himself out. “How many-?”

“I dunno,” he throws another nut to keep the villain in place. “I lost a few when I, uh-” clung onto All Might like a koala. “-fell.”

“You what? What happene-nevermind, get out of here! It’s dangerous!”

He throws another nut. “Like I’d leave you here!” He shoots back, pulling out more chunks of sludge. “What kind of hero would I be if I just stopped helping people in front of me?!” Almost there, almost there, he just needs a few more seconds and Kacchan could probably free his arm and blast himself out. Ah, the villain is wiggling again, he reaches for another nut and-

Finds his pocket is empty.

“Shit,” he hisses, pulling at Kacchan. The villain roars, free from the paralysis, and aims his sludge at him. He keeps pulling and digging, even when he’s smothered by sludge and all he sees is darkness. Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop, d-

“DETROIT SMASH!”

 


 

Kacchan drags him away once he’s done giving his statement, the heroes scolding him sputter as he shoves them.

“C’mon, Deku.”

“Now wait a second, we’re not done-!”

“No, you’re not done,” Kacchan gives them a blank stare, red eyes cold and unforgiving. “But we are, go bitch somewhere else.”

There’s more sputtering, but Kacchan ignores it. He grabs his hand and tugs. “Let’s go, Deku.”

“Y-yeah.”

 


 

“You know they did their best, right?”

“I know that, it’s the bullshit they spewed after that pisses me off,” Kacchan huffs. “They were gonna praise you, y’know? I saw it," he shakes his head. "Then you said you were quirkless and it was like you killed a bunch of puppies, fucking hell, they should make up their mind.”

Izuku remembers his conversation with All Might, the pain and exhaustion in his face as he showed his scar. “Maybe they were-”

He doesn’t finish his sentence, as the man himself literally slides in front of them.

“I AM HERE!” He declares loudly, grinning.

“A-All Might?!” He exclaims, backing away. “How are you here? How did you escape the reporters?” He sputters. “Why are you here?”

Kacchan just stares, Izuku immediately translates it as I should be more freaked out but I’m just mildly surprised and that worries me.

All Might laughs, strikes another pose and jovially explains that he can escape reporters easily. Why? Because he’s—suddenly deflated, spewing out blood, and looks like he’s about to keel over any second now.

Izuku screams, panicking as All Might coughs up more blood and also at the realization that another person knows his secret.

Kacchan stares again, looks up and takes a deep breath, looks back down and rummages through his bag, frowns, then sighs—disappointed at not finding what he wanted. He gets his box of tissues and offers it to the coughing man.

 


 

Explanations about his appearances are given to Kacchan. Hesitant in All Might’s part, as he hadn’t expected Izuku to be with someone. But Izuku insists that Kacchan can keep a secret, is in fact, one of the best people who can keep a secret. So the man decides to trust his word and tells Izuku the nature of his quirk, a brief history on its users, and his decision after seeing him rescue his friend without hesitation.

“You can become a hero,” All Might finishes, and Izuku believes him. Despite what he had said just a while ago, about the dangers of hero work and how he couldn’t say with full heart that he could become a hero even without a quirk. Despite having his idol break his hopes and dreams, he believes him. Because the blue eyes staring at him has a familiar look to them, one that his best friend had given him long ago. Eyes that told him that it was possible, that he had potential, that he can do it. Just as long as he didn’t stop.

Kacchan is behind All Might, giving him a thumbs up. He's a trustworthy guy, his expression says. So take the chance, go for it, do it.

He slumps to the ground and clutches his chest, alternating between sobbing and laughing so loudly that it’s too much.

This is his start, isn’t it? His real start to becoming a hero, his big adventure. 

Chapter Text

Toshinori will admit that his way of choosing his successor was not the most organized (it was a clusterfuck that transformed all the bullshit into solid golden turds, is what a future student will say). Midoriya was an unexpected, yet very pleasant, surprise. He had nearly died from a sludge monster, he had followed and clung to him through sheer force of will (and fear of falling down to a painful death), he had asked a question that struck him deeper than anyone will know (a quirkless boy who dreams to be a hero, what were the odds of that?), and had nearly died a second time from the same sludge monster to save his friend. Despite all appearances, nothing about Midoriya is average.

The same thing can be said (should be said) to his childhood friend, Bakugou Katsuki.

 


 

His first impression of Bakugou is that he’s quiet.

While the boy had encouraged Midoriya to accept his offer, smiling and patting Midoriya’s back as he kept bawling his eyes out, he was a blank slate for everything else. He had been there when they met at Dagobah Beach, offering no explanation as to why. Looking more like Midoriya’s personal bodyguard than his friend; he hovered near his friend, who was going about carrying piles of junk to the other side.

No comments, no expressions, not even a twitch when Toshinori had crushed something into oblivion during his explanation.

At some point, Bakugou joined him on sitting on top of a broken refrigerator and observing Midoriya upend a pot, double check if it was empty, and tossing it to a rusty basket he had found a while ago. Toshinori had tried to start a conversation while assessing Midoriya (he’s more athletic than he thought, has more stamina—this is good), both to pass the time and as a chance to get to know the boy better. The boy was frugal with his words as much as he was frugal with his expressions. 

You and Midoriya are very close, aren't you? "Friends since we were four."

Oh? Do you aspire to be a hero as well? "Yeah."

What schools have you applied to? "U.A."

Any others? “No.”

You have a very versatile quirk, my boy, what is it exactly? "I sweat and it explodes."

Any attempt of a conversation always descended into pitiful creeping silence. He tugs on his bangs, fumbling on what else to talk about (this would be so much easier in his other form). Maybe he can ask about his hobbies? What school is like? Why he wants to be a hero? Ah, but that could be awkward for Bakugou, wouldn't it? He doesn't seem to enjoy answering his questions (too personal, perhaps).

Maybe they can talk about a common topic? Bakugou must have some level of interest in heroes. But it would be awkward for him, he doesn’t really see heroes in the same kind of awe as civilians, not for a long time. And, well, most people talk about All Might before anyone else. So it would be incredibly awkward and weird for everyone involved.

Toshinori is saved from this dilemma when Bakugou decides to go to the convenience store to buy some food. He hops off the fridge and turns. "What do you want?" He asks, then elaborates when Toshinori blinks. “For lunch.”

"Ah, thank you, my boy, but I'll pass," he replies, shaking his head.  

Bakugou crosses his arms and gives him a flat look. “If it’s money, then you can pay me later.”

“It’s not that,” he smiles. "Store bought food tends not to sit well with me." 

He gets a frown for that. "You didn't bring anything," Bakugou points out, looking at his incredibly loose shirt and pants. No bag in sight, he’d only brought his phone, keys, and wallet. "And you were here earlier than me and Deku, you haven't eaten anything since this morning."

That was the most words he had said in one go. "I'm fine as long as I don't do anything physically taxing," not a lie, but not the entire truth either. Toshinori should eat when he can, his body needs the energy and nutrients, but he had forgotten to prepare anything besides his usual breakfast. He'd been too excited to start Midoriya's training as soon as possible, they didn't have much time before the U.A entrance exams after all. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d skip his meals to be honest.

The frown deepens. "Is fruit okay?" 

"Hm?"

"Is fruit okay?" Bakugou repeats. "The store sells fresh fruit, nothing prepackaged or preserved. Is that okay?"

"Really, my boy, you shouldn't bother with-"

"So it's okay?" Bakugou leans forward, staring at Toshinori.

"Uh," Toshinori coughs, leaning away. He wipes the spatters of blood from his mouth. "Yes?"

Bakugou nods and walks away, leaving Toshinori sitting alone on a rusty broken fridge.

"Kacchan!" He hears Midoriya call out, running towards his spot. He was holding out something, happy and excited despite being completely drenched in sweat. "Check out this-oh," Midoriya looks around, gasping for breath. "He left?"

"He went to buy food," Toshinori answers. "What is it you have there?"

"Oh, this?" Midoriya shows him. It looked like a tiny harpoon with a handle. Its body wrapped with a thick blue metal tube that Toshinori suspects hides the inner workings of whatever it was. The tip looked sharp. There was no sign of rust or tarnish. “I found it in a chest over there,” he points at a pile of junk and lo and behold, there was an opened chest at the top. One that looked like the stereotypical treasure chests in pirate movies, Toshinori squints his eyes, he could swear the chest had shining rays behind it. “It doesn’t look broken or rusted,” he turns the item to inspect it. “So I was thinking of keeping it.”

“Keeping it?” That was a little odd. “Whatever for?”

“If it’s not broken, then keep it,” Midoriya says, sounding like he recited this several times. “You don’t know when you need it, a hero is always prepared!” He finishes, smiling widely, then widens his eyes and sputters as he realizes who he just said that to. “N-not that I’m saying you’re not prepared, All Might! It’s j-just a thing Kacchan likes to say a lot when we find stuff,” he twiddles his fingers. “We l-liked playing, uh,” he laughs. “Hero as kids, going on adventures, treasure hunting, doing errands and pretending they were quests… those kinds of things.”

Toshinori’s lips twitch upward, that sounded adorable.

“Kacchan’s pretty blunt, so if he says something then he means it, and he always says stuff about what a hero should be. At first I thought he was just saying these things to cheer me up, but then I found this mask that was lodged between the roots in one of our school’s trees, and Kacchan told me I should keep it,” he perks up, drawing a figure on the air. “The mask kinda looked like that? Anyways, when we were walking home—we’re neighbors so we walk together—I heard a man talking about how he lost the mask he made for his fiancé, some kind of obscure tradition in their town apparently, and then I figured it was the mask I found! So I gave it to him and he was so happy and it made me feel happy too—like I was helpful, I did something good, and… ah,” he scratches his head, a blush dusting his freckled cheeks. “I’m rambling again, s-sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Toshinori waves away his concerns. Midoriya looked younger, eyes lighting up and gesturing excitedly as he told his story, it was endearing. “Talking about something you’re happy about is not a bad thing, my boy.”

“I-I guess,” Midoriya gives a hesitant smile.

“You and young Bakugou are both so different in that aspect,” Toshinori muses. “Your friend seems intent on keeping everything he says short and sweet, he’s very quiet.”

Midoriya chokes, nearly dropping the item as he processes what he just heard. “I… I mean, sure?” He snorts, lips twitching. “It’s more like he doesn’t talk to people that,” he hums, twirling the item as he finds the best words to fit his friend. “He doesn’t like, or something like that. Thinks it’s a waste of energy. He’s actually pretty talkative once he likes you, swears a lot too.”

“Oh,” Toshinori droops at that, then did that mean-?

“Not that he doesn’t like you, All Might!” Midoriya adds quickly, arms flailing. “When I mean he doesn’t talk, he really doesn’t talk! Like he’ll ignore you! You could have a voice quirk and he’d still refuse to acknowledge you said anything!”

Toshinori blinks.

“I saw him talking to you,” Midoriya adds. “He’s probably just getting used to you,” he grins. “He’s far from quiet, even when he’s not talking.”

“I see,” he really didn’t. “Well, I suppose we can start with your cool down exercises while waiting for young Bakugou to come back.”

“What? B-but we still have lots of time!” Midoriya sputters. “I’m not that tired! I can do more!”

“My boy, it’s your first day and you’ve been carrying heavy items since five in the morning,” Toshinori chuckles, ah, to be young and full of energy. “While running, I’ll add. I approve of your drive and motivation to work, but not at the expense of your health,” he pats him on the head, ignoring the voice in his head saying he should practice what he preached (and ignoring how it sounded like Recovery Girl). “Your load will increase as time passes, don’t worry. We still need to discuss your training schedule and diet, so time won’t be wasted. There’s no need to pout.”

“M’not,” Midoriya sulks (pouts) even harder.

“Alright, alright.”

 


 

Toshinori’s first impression is immediately shattered on the second day of Midoriya’s training.

“Young Bakugou is not with you?” He asks, finding Midoriya waiting at the beach alone.

Midoriya shakes his head. “He says he has a side project to finish, it might be for the exams,” he shrugs. “I’m pretty sure he can ace them, but he likes being prepared for the worst case scenario.”

“I see,” he doesn’t, it was an exam, not an invasion. “Well, the beach won’t clean itself! Warm up then start hauling, my boy!”

“Yessir!”

The second day starts like that. With Midoriya lifting and wheezing, and Toshinori alternating between giving advice and shouting encouragements (and occasionally taking pictures). It had been late in the morning when he met Bakugou again.

He feels a tug on his shirt and turns to have a glass bottle of liquid shoved to his face. He sputters in surprise, feeling the familiar copper taste bubbling up his throat. He goes a little cross eyed from staring at the bottle, it was a very round bottle, with a large cork sealing it. He then looks down to whoever is holding it.

“Bakugou, my boy, what are you doing here?” And what are you doing in general, he silently wonders.

The boy wasn’t wearing his jogging attire or his school uniform. Instead, he was wearing a white kyudogi and red hakama of all things. His hair was tied in a loose ponytail, the messy bangs and fringes were left untouched. He was equipped with archery gear; dark leather arm and chest guards, a quiver filled with arrows attached to his hip, and a long recurve bow on his back. The only thing out of place was the forest green shoulder bag he had, it had a yellow triangle-themed symbol on its flap and a keychain of a red bird on one side. The bag was so full it looked like it might burst in any moment.

“Milk,” Bakugou states, pushing the bottle closer to his face.

“… I see,” very clearly, and very closely. A little too closely. He holds up a hand to stop the bottle from touching his nose, using his other hand to wipe the blood off his chin. “What are you-… are you giving this to me?”

Bakugou nods. “Something to drink after breakfast,” he says. “People who’ve undergone gastrectomy can drink thirty to sixty minutes after meals, right?” He nudges it further, tiptoeing a bit. Toshinori may not be as bulky in his true form, but he was still just as tall. “Take it, it’s good.”

Toshinori assesses the intense glare the boy’s red eyes were giving him, debates whether it’s worth refusing the milk, decides it’s not, and gingerly takes the bottle. “Thank you,” he says, smiling a bit. Quiet, rude, and pushy, but with a good heart, he was glad Midoriya had a friend like him. “You shouldn’t worry about this old man, my boy. I can take care of myself.”

“You’re not that old,” Bakugou denies. “And I’d be a pretty shitty person to not worry about someone who coughs up blood and skips meals,” he narrows his eyes. “I’ll be fine as long as I don’t do anything physically taxing, my ass.”

“You shouldn’t swear, my boy,” Toshinori scolds. “It’s unbecoming of a hero.”

Bakugou gives him a look.

“… You shouldn’t swear out loud,” he amends.

 


  

Bakugou leaves right after delivering the milk, saying he has something to do.

He drinks the milk seconds later, cold milk is better than lukewarm one after all, and gives the empty bottle to Midoriya by his request (he’s confused as to why). Toshinori recalls the outfit Bakugou was wearing and wonders what kind of project he’s doing that he has to dress up as an archer.

He forgets about this when Midoriya decides to make him die from a heart attack (good grief, as if he hasn’t had enough damaged organs as it is). How? By shooting himself up a towering pile of trash like Batman with his grappling gun, except unlike the fictional hero, the teen neither has the grace nor skill to land cleanly on the top and not shake the foundation of the junk. He plops awkwardly, the pile shakes, he loses his footing, yelps, and then falls. The possibility of him hitting the ground painfully while being buried by falling trash? Very high.

Toshinori activates One for All and dashes towards the boy, grabbing him before the pile collapses. He jumps out of the way.

“You might be the death of me, young Midoriya,” he coughs, putting Midoriya down. He poofs back into his true form and sighs. “Please try not to jump on tall, dirty, and dubiously steady piles of trash, my boy,” he raises his hand and bops the top of Midoriya’s head (his hair is ridiculously soft). “You’re here for bodybuilding, not parkour.”

“S-sorry,” Midoriya scratches the back of his head, looking sheepish and guilty. He has a few scratches on his arms and Toshinori thanks himself for bringing a first aid kit along with his snacks. Infections and tetanus are not something he wants the boy to have. “I saw something interesting at the top and I wanted to try my hookshot.”

“Hookshot?”

Midoriya shows him the tiny harpoon device he found yesterday. Right, hookshot. He named the thing, why not. “And what was so important that you had to reach that thing on top right away?” He puts his hands on his hips, giving Midoriya a disapproving frown. “Instead of diminishing the pile bit by bit, like you should have been doing?”

Midoriya shrinks, looking down and twiddling his fingers. “I want to prepare for U.A,” he mumbles. “Every second counts and I shouldn’t waste it, that means practicing any useful skills I can gain.”

Toshinori sighs. This boy might have more determination (a voice suspiciously like Gran Torino says bullheadedness) than he did when he was his age. “That’s why we have this training regime, my boy.”

Midoriya looks up. “No! I mean, yes! I mean-!” He lets out a string of unintelligible angry noises, pulling his hair in frustration. “I want to be a great hero like you, All Might,” he says at last. “And that means I can’t aim on just passing, not forever.”

Toshinori blinks.

“I would have aimed for U.A even without a quirk, no matter what people said,” Midoriya admits (and Toshinori feels a twinge of guilt as he remembers the words he told him). “I didn’t have a quirk, but I still had my mind and body. So I had a… rough plan on what to train, to improve on. Keep my mind sharp, gain skills, condition my body,” he brings up the hookshot, determined. “Gather tools. Any loopholes and allowances in U.A, I would milk it. I know they allow additional equipment during the entrance exam as long as we send the school the forms and it’s been approved, it’s a similar rule they give to the students during the sports festival—I looked it up.”

“But you will have a quirk,” Toshinori reminds gently. “You’ll inherit mine once your body is strong enough to withstand it, I promise.”

“I know, I trust you, it’s just,” Midoriya looks at his hands. “Among people who’ve had their quirk since they were kids? Who know the ins and outs of it like the back of their hand? Whose bodies won’t break down easily because they’ve had years to get used to it? I’ll just be passable,” he shakes his head. “Maybe if the ten months were about using my quirk, I’d be fine—but I’m training just so I won’t die from using it. If these were stats, my quirk one would be incredibly low. I have to compensate by increasing everything else. My health, my stamina, my equipment, my skills, everything else should be beyond average. A hero isn’t just about their quirk after all.”

Adventure, preparedness, kindness, and so many things Kacchan had told him. Izuku clenches his fists. Maybe they did start as a way to cheer him up, to make him forget his quirklessness. But it didn’t matter anymore, because there had always been a ring of truth to them. In Kacchan’s ever ancient eyes, in the happiness he had given to other people, in All Might’s approval.

He looks up to find All Might staring at him, face blank. He feels his face heat up. “U-uhm! I’m really sorry, I must sound so ungrateful!” He babbles, wishing he could be buried in the trash right now. “N-not that I think your quirk isn’t good enough! Or I think this training is useless! I just-! That is-!” He takes a deep breath and, “Shiiiit,” he whispers as he covers his burning face with his hands.

 “I’m not angry, my boy,” Toshinori smiles, walking towards Midoriya and gently bopping his head again. The boy looks up. “I’m just surprised, you always seem to exceed my expectations.”

Midoriya goes even redder. Toshinori laughs. “Now let’s leave,” he gestures at the boy’s arms. “I won’t let you work in the dump with untreated wounds, no matter how small they are. You can do your cooldown once we’re out. Besides, it’s about time we have lunch.”

 


  

They pack up their things, Toshinori double checking if he missed anything while Midoriya was stuffing whatever new items he found in his backpack.

“You seem to like collecting things, my boy,” Toshinori notes, remembering how Midoriya emptied any kind of receptacle he found before dumping it in his makeshift basket wagon if he was unsatisfied. “I understand the reason if it’s to get tools like your hookshot, but what about everything else?”

It was fascinating to watch. Midoriya had a quick system of look, peek, and break—either by kicking the thing until it opened or cracked, or hurling it on a hard surface so that it would shatter. And if whatever he found satisfied him, he’d put it in his “keep” pile, everything else was in the “trash” wagon. He’d push the wagon once it was full, humming an upbeat tune as he jogged.

Throwing and kicking things multiple times was a good workout, so Toshinori didn’t stop it. It didn’t make it any less odd.

“Sometimes I use them,” Midoriya explains, squeezing in a heart shaped glass ornament. He zips his bags and pats it proudly. “And sometimes I trade them.”

“Oh? You sell them?”

“No, I do actual barter,” he elaborates. “Like a person will be grateful for me giving them a specific item they needed so they give me a gift, and then I give the gift to someone else because they need it more and I get another gift, and then I give that one to someone else, and so on. Until I find nobody wants the gift I currently have, so I keep it,” he scratches his head. “It’s more of a chain of fetch quests, but you get the idea.”

“I see,” Toshinori really doesn’t.

Midoriya then begins to tell him a story of his childhood as they walk. Telling him how he’d gotten most of his pro-hero figurines by trading his enormous collection of blue shells to a man who created small items using his quirk. The man liked shells so much that he’d apparently commissioned a gachapon machine that accepted shells as payment. Inside the toy eggs were figurines he made himself. Most of the figurines were pro-heroes, but Midoriya said he occasionally got a character from a video game or anime.

“So when I found out about this man’s store, I rushed home and looked for my box full of shells,” he says. “They were mostly blue shells I found whenever Kacchan and I were playing in the park.”

A blink. “Don’t you mean beach?”

“No, I always found the blue shells in bushes and tall grass, sometimes in pots too,” Midoriya tilts his head, considering something. “I guess I found them in the beach? It was rare though.”

Toshinori has nothing to say about that.

 


  

“Holy shit, another heart container!”

“Midoriya, my boy,” Toshinori gives a disapproving frown. “That’s inappropriate language for a hero to shout.”

Midoriya frowns back. “I heard you say ‘shit’ that day.”

“I whisper, my boy, I don’t say it out loud.”

 


  

Bakugou finds them when they’re about to eat. Toshinori already packing away his first aid kit and Midoriya looking for his bento in the endless void that was his bag.

He’s still in his archery outfit, though the white kyudogi was speckled with dirt and the red hakama was stained with mud and had small twigs and leaves stuck to the bottom. The arrows in his quiver were reduced to half its original count. He smells faintly of smoke and looks just as tired as Midoriya, if not more so.

“Here,” he places an item on the bench they chose, it was something wrapped in a large leaf. “Food for you and Deku,” he unwraps it and the scent of something wonderfully warm, sweet, and earthy fill the air. On the leaf were several rice balls arranged in two lines. “This one is mushroom,” he points at the brown rice balls. “And this one is meat,” he points at the white ones wrapped in seaweed.

Midoriya grabs a meat riceball and takes a bite. “It tastes familiar,” he chews a bit. “You went to Akara?”

Bakugou nods, glancing at Toshinori. “Looking for something,” he picks up a mushroom rice ball and offers it to Toshinori. “Eat,” he demands. Toshinori shakes his head and shows his own bento, the boy really shouldn’t put all this effort to give him food, especially since he’d pack his own this time.

He doesn’t relent, just scowls and pushes the rice ball further. “Stop being a stubborn shit and take the ball, it’s not store bought.”

“Fresh from nature,” Midoriya pipes in, not helping whatsoever.

“I have my own food, my boy,” Toshinori protests, putting his hands up to shield him from the rice ball being shoved at him. “You really shouldn’t-”

“It’s my food so I can do whatever the fuck I want with it,” another push. “And I say you eat it,” the scowl is deeper and the red eyes narrow dangerously. “Eat it or I’ll shove it down your goddamn gobber myself.”

Good lord, he was worse than Recovery Girl.

He feels a pat on his back and turns to find Midoriya giving him a look of exasperated understanding. “When Kacchan wants to do something, nothing will stop him,” he says. “It won’t hurt to take it, Kacchan’s a really good cook.”

He looks at Midoriya, then looks at Bakugou, then sighs. He takes the rice ball, at least it fit with the maki rolls he made.

(it was pretty good)

 


 

The food becomes routine, no matter how much he protests.

Every morning, without fail, Toshinori receives a bottle of milk from Bakugou (how the boy figured out his morning jogging routes is something he’d rather not know).

On weekends he gets random encounters of him giving him snacks. Hot buttered apples, fried bananas, rice balls of different flavors, skewers of roasted meat and vegetables, and candies. He never seems to run out of food to give him, the amount always large enough for Midoriya to snack on as well.

He’s worried that the boy is spending too much money and effort (they all looked homemade) on these snacks.

Midoriya waves those worries away with a, “He likes cooking, so it’s not a problem, and he forages most of the stuff anyways.”

“Forages,” Toshinori repeats.

“Yeah.”

“… Apples, bananas, pumpkins, and different kinds of game,” Toshinori says, because he’s traveled and he’d gone camping plenty of times. He knows there’s a problem here. Are there wild apple trees and pumpkin fields in Japan that he missed out on when he was a full-time pro hero? A lake filled with fish right next to it? A banana vendor settled in a cave?  “In a short span of time?”

“It’s not like he gets all that stuff in one day!” Midoriya laughs. “He stockpiles them in his fridge, he likes collecting stuff as much as I do.”

“Oh?” He didn’t look the type, he would have thought it would be too much energy for the boy.

Midoriya gestures at his “keep” pile, grin sheepish. “Where do you think I learned it from?”

 


  

Toshinori adds basic hand-to-hand combat into the training for the safety of his student.

The stray thought of maybe giving him something to do starts when Midoriya finds another hookshot. He decides to try and reach various places by using two of them. Inspired by Spiderman, it seems. Except unlike Spiderman, Midoriya’s hookshots do not have the quality of adhesive and he does not have the sticking spider grip of the fictional teen hero. Nor does he have his healing factor. 

Midoriya falls, tries to recover by shooting the other hookshot and misses, and then continues falling until he catches him again.

The stray thought transforms into an actual plan when Midoriya finds another item he deems useful. He was going to teach him when he got One for All, but he changes his mind when the boy also finds a boomerang and is shooting hookshots and flinging his newly acquired flying deathtrap the next day. 

“No hookshots on unstable surfaces and no boomerangs in crowded places,” he lectures firmly. “Unless I’m around and give the okay,” he adds, seeing a gleam in Midoriya’s eyes. “You can experiment with them in U.A’s training grounds once you’re a student.”

Midoriya blinks. “U.A has training grounds where I can use it?” He asks.

“My boy,” Toshinori grins. “U.A has training grounds for everything.”

Midoriya likes to keep busy, and he’d rather the boy practice on punching and kicking rather than throwing weapons of small destruction. 

They start with some simple moves, basic punches, blocks, and kicks. He tries to emulate an incredibly mild Gran Torino with low violent tendencies. Considering Midoriya hasn’t vomited in any of their sessions and uses his new moves to break things open (instead of swinging disastrously like George of the Jungle), he’d say it’s a success.

(hm, maybe he should use this method for his future classes in U.A)

 


 

It’s on the ninth month of the training that Bakugou gives him a bottle filled with something that is most certainly not milk.

“My boy,” Toshinori starts calmly, staring at the small blue eyes blinking up at him. “Why does this bottle have a small child inside?”

“She’s not a child, she’s a fairy,” Bakugou corrects, pointing at the glowing wings on the little child’s (adult’s?) back. She was wearing a simple white dress and had long flowing blond hair, just a shade paler to Toshinori’s. “Take it,” he brings it up to his face.

Toshinori is not sure how to react to the fact that his successor’s friend may have kidnapped someone with a minification quirk. He backs away a bit, looking a little green. “I’d rather skip this time, my boy.”

“You’re not drinking her,” Bakugou huffs, amused. “You open the bottle and let her out.”

“I see,” he really fucking doesn’t. “Then why didn’t you do it in the first place, my boy?”

“Because that’s not how it works,” Bakugou explains patiently. “There are rules for this, and I’m not the one who needs a fairy,” he holds up the bottle again. “Now open the bottle, she’ll do her thing then leave, and you won’t feel awkward,” he nudges it up. “Win-win for everybody.”

There are many things wrong with this scenario that Toshinori wants to list, but as he looks at the small being inside her glass cage. He decides to postpone it for freeing the child (adult?) in the bottle.

He pulls the cork, three things happen.

The first is that the child-adult-fairy person zips out of the bottle and zooms around him in a trail of glittering dust.

The second is that he feels warmth spreading into his body, from his feet flowing up to his face.

The last is that one moment there’s a tingly sensation on his scar, and the next he rushes towards one of the beach’s trash cans and hurls.

Bakugou blinks. “I didn’t expect that,” he looks at the fairy, who is floating beside him and is giving the vomiting man a thoughtful look. “It’s that bad?”

The fairy grimaces, giving a so-so gesture. Quirks makes it tricky, and he’s missing organs.

“Good point,” he brings out another glass bottle from his bag, this time filled with water. “He’ll probably need water.”

 


  

Vomiting aside, Toshinori feels better than he’s ever been since his injury. He’s still missing a lung and stomach, the hollowness he feels from the lack of them hasn’t abated. But his side doesn’t throb as much and his body feels much cleaner. It’s easier to breathe and his joints don’t ache as much. He feels charged up, like he could run around in his hero form for more than three hours and still feel great.

Which is why he knows this isn’t normal.

The child-adult (fairy?) doesn’t leave, she plops on Toshinori’s head and is content with napping—using his hair as a bed.

He looks at the two boys in front of him. Midoriya fidgets, Bakugou stares back.

“You two have some explaining to do,” he points at the snoozing fairy on his head.

Midoriya and Bakugou look at each other, Bakugou shrugs. “It’s not really a secret.”

“It’s crazy though,” Midoriya says.

“Crazier than people who can shoot fire, grow the size of buildings, and can bench press a truck?” Bakugou snorts. “He doesn’t believe us, big deal. Kaa-chan and tou-chan don’t either, and I bring a lot of weird shit home.”

Silence.

“U-uh,” Midoriya twiddles his thumbs. “D-do you know any video games?”

Chapter Text

The next day is a week day, which means training doesn’t start until after the boys' last class is dismissed.

Toshinori always meets the boys at the beach. Midoriya would greet him and start warming up, while Bakugou would give him the Snack of The Hour and glare at him until he took a bite. The blond boy would then leave to do whatever project he was doing. It's become a routine now.

He looks down at his watch. They're a little late today, but this doesn't worry him. They often stay in school for a while to finish an assignment or complete a task. He hears someone shout his hero name (he should really tell them his actual name some day) and sees Midoriya waving at him. He's changed his clothes at least, wearing a plain T-shirt and a pair of jogging pants.

Beside him was Bakugou and-

Oh, my goodness.

“You know, I’m beginning to wonder if you have a secondary quirk,” Bakugou comments, adjusting his veil. He eyes the red geyser in front of him warily. “That much blood going out of you isn't healthy.”

“W-w-wh-!” Toshinori chokes. “My boy, what are you wearing?!”

“Dancer clothes,” he replies, puffing out his chest. Toshinori wants to remove his shirt and put in on the boy, his scar be damned. That top cuts off way too high and those poofy pants are hung too low. He’s showing way too much skin and this is hardly appropriate attire for a middle school student and it’s not exactly summer anymore, and… and what the hell is this boy thinking? In general? Seriously? “Or a Jasmine costume, could be either one. I found it in kaa-chan’s old stuff, don’t I look great?”

“You look like your mom except younger,” Midoriya points out. “It’s kinda weird.”

Toshinori thinks that’s not the problem here.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he grins. “This is exactly what I needed! I look like a convincing girl, right?”

Toshinori thinks there are better outfits that could be convincing, ones with more fabric on it.

“It is impressive,” Midoriya admits, giving him a once over. “I mean, you still look flat chested and you have broad shoulders, not to mention your muscles, but… it works?” He’s looking at the whole ensemble in horrified fascination. “How?”

These are not the questions that should be asked, in Toshinori’s opinion.

Bakugou gives a little shimmy, which makes the tiny golden bells on his belt sash jingle. “I have the best hips.”

Toshinori sits on a nearby bench, hunches over, covers his face, and groans. He wishes he could just throw his hands up, say fuck this, and leave this to another responsible adult to handle. Unfortunately, he is the only adult within the vicinity.

Bakugou takes pity on him and pats his shoulder. “It’s nothing illegal,” he offers.

“That neither explains it nor reassures me, my boy.”

Chapter Text

Izuku feels like he’s going to vomit everything he’s eaten since he woke up, his new quirk included.

“Don’t tell me you’ve been standing there since I texted you.”

His red shoes look like a very enticing target right now.

“For fuck's sakes, Deku.”

He can’t stop trembling.

“Calm down,” Kacchan murmurs to him, bopping his head. The view of his shoes shake a little. “You spent ten months training for your quirk and years studying for this exam, you’ll do fine.”

“I’m going there with a quirk that I’ve never tried once,” Izuku realizes, trembling harder. “I’m going there with a quirk I got by eating hair.”

“You’ve eaten worse.”

Well, that’s true. But. “Everyone’s going to go there with quirks and experience,” he babbles. He was feeling woozy, probably from all the constant vibrations his body was making. “They’re all going to be stronger than me. And yeah, I ate the hair—oh god, I ate All Might’s hair—but did I really get his quirk? I don’t feel any different and there are probably going to be people as amazing as you and they’ll have amazing quirks and-”

He feels someone pinch his ears and tugs, stretching them. “Shut up, you’re going in fucking circles,” Kacchan orders, letting his ears go. “Even All Might believes in you, why can’t you do the same?”

Quirkless, useless, hopeless. Weak, stupid, naïve. In denial, what a pity, why even try. These were words that always bounced in his life despite his friend’s efforts to shield him from them. “It’s… it’s hard,” Izuku admits, rubbing his ears. “To believe I’m even here, to have you guys-” he bites his lip, staring at the ground and gripping the straps of his backpack.

To have All Might train him for ten months, almost a year, and to have him give his quirk because he believes he can be a hero.

To have Kacchan as a friend.

“I feel like I’m cheating,” he says at last, a repeated phrase from this morning. Prickles of tears are threatening to leak out. He’d cried earlier, when All Might had praised him, and he thought he was over that. Guess not. He was always a huge crier. “To have-… to have two heroes teach me,” he sniffs. “I’m too lucky. I know you said I should take the luck I can get but-”

“This is different.”

Izuku twitches. “You didn’t get this because you were lucky,” Kacchan says, and he feels a hand bopping his head again. “You got this because you’re worthy.”

Something that you receive because you’re lucky, All Might’s words echo. And something that you’re given because you’re recognized are different in essence.

“You worked hard for this, Deku,” Kacchan continues. “If you don’t believe me then believe in All Might, you’re always willing to listen to his words, you hero fanboy,” he snorts. “So why not now?”

This is power that you earned because of your own effort.

“I… yeah,” Izuku clenches his fists. “Yeah! I’m different from before!” He’d done ten months of grueling training; he’d even been taught how to fight. He can do this, he will do this! He takes a deep breath and grins. This will be his first step on becoming a hero-

His foot gets caught on his other foot, because life hates him.

He trips, because life still hates him.

His fall stops midway, maybe life doesn’t hate him that much.

He sighs in relief. “Thanks, Kacchan.”

“Not me,” Kacchan sounds like he’s a few seconds away from laughing.

Izuku blinks and finds that nobody is actually touching him. He’s floating. “How…?” He turns his head to see a girl looking at him worriedly.

“Are you alright?” She asks. She holds his wrist and bag and pulls him upright. When he’s standing firmly on the ground she smiles sweetly. “It’s my quirk, sorry for using it without asking first,” she claps her hands. “But it’d be bad luck if you fell, right?”

She’s very cute, Izuku thinks faintly. With her soft brown hair and her rosy cheeks, she looks like she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

“T-thanks,” he stutters.

“It’s no problem! You’re nervous, right? Me too!” She laughs, light and airy. “I’m kinda jealous of your friend, he doesn’t look nervous at all,” she giggles. “He’s even dressed up for the occasion!”

Izuku blinks, he hadn’t been paying much attention to anything after meeting with All Might. He’d been too nervous and anxious, trying (and failing) to clear his head. What did she mean by dressing up for the occasion? He looks at where Kacchan is and chokes on his spit.

“Kacchan,” he says blankly.

“Yes?”

“Kacchan, no,” he declares. He draws a line, and that line is when he has to be there to feel the second-hand embarrassment. That line is when he’s taking the exam for his dream school.

“Kacchan, yes.”

The girl covers her mouth, desperately trying to muffle her giggles.

“No.”

“Yes.”

No,” he states firmly. “Is that actual chainmail?” He looks at his friend’s face, jaw dropping. “Where did you get the ears?”

“I got it commissioned,” Kacchan says, striking a pose. “Don’t I look heroic?” He turns his head to the side, making his windsock of a cap flap dramatically.

“I’m designing your hero outfit,” Izuku deadpans. “I can’t trust you with that much power.”

“It’s very nice,” the girl says. “I love playing the games, my dad's a fan too.”

“Don’t encourage him,” Izuku warns.

“Please encourage me,” Kacchan requests.

“I’m buying only PS games starting now,” Izuku declares. “Legend of Who? Nobody cares, it's the wrong name anyways.”

“I’m hurt.”

“You’re stupid.”

The girl clutches her side and laughs loudly, a few tears leaking from her eyes. Izuku huffs and shakes his head, he starts to laugh as well.

“Told you it’s heroic, I saved you from shitting your pants,” Kacchan grins cheekily and gives a wink. “You’re not as nervous anymore,” he smiles at the girl. “Having another person feel better is a plus.”

“Your friend is funny,” the girl says after her laughter has died down.

“You mean he’s ridiculous,” Izuku corrects.

  


 

 When the exam orientation starts, Izuku trembles again, for a completely different reason.

“It’s the Voice Hero, Present Mic!” He whispers excitedly, shaking Kacchan’s arm furiously. “Oh my god, Kacchan, are you seeing this? It’s actually him! Wow, he doesn’t even need a mic—he’s using his quirk! That level of control is amazing! I listen to him every week on the radio, he’s so good. It’s mostly light hearted skits and music, but there are times he interviews other heroes and discusses serious topics, he’s even interviewed All Might!” He squeals. “To think that he’s also a teacher, just… wow! He has to juggle being a pro hero, a radio host, and a teacher—I just, Kacchan, I can’t-”

“Calm down,” Kacchan says, raising an eyebrow. He holds Izuku's arm to stop him from shaking. “You won’t be able to survive U.A if you’re like this. You do realize they most likely have pro-heroes in their faculty? I don’t want you dying of fanboy stroke just by seeing your homeroom teacher entering your class on the first day.”

Izuku pulls down his windsock. “Let me die happy.”

“No,” Kacchan bats his hand away. “And stop pulling.”

“You’ll all be conducting ten minute mock battles after this! Check your cards to see where you’re assigned!” Present Mic says, the screen behind him shows him the different meeting points each applicant has to go to. He grins. “Okay?” He booms out.

He gets no reply, the man looks bummed out by the silence.

“So they won’t let you work with anyone you’re familiar with,” Kacchan muses, looking at his card and then at Izuku’s. “I bet most of the applicants in the same school will be in different areas.”

Izuku looks at his card. “You’re right,“ he reads the area he was assigned. "I’m in B and you’re in A,” he says.

The screen shows a cartoonish drawing of a city and three silhouettes of what looks to be robots.

“In each area, there will be a number of robots posing as faux-villains—each robot has points,” a number pops up beside the silhouettes. “The higher the points, the more difficult the robot!”

The screen shows a pixel sprite of Present Mic destroying waves of the mysterious robots in the city. “My dear listeners,” Present Mic spreads his arms. “Your goal is to destroy these robots and earn points,” he wags his finger. “Of course, attacking other examinees and any other unheroic actions are prohibited!”

“So we’ll be fighting robots,” Izuku gulps. “Sounds difficult.”

“But not impossible,” Kacchan bumps his shoulder. “Robots follow patterns, they’re predictable.”

“R-right.”

A boy two rows below them stands up and raises his hand. “May I ask a question?” He says loudly.

Present Mic points at him and a spotlight appears on the boy. “Sure!”

The boy adjusts his glasses and brings out the handouts that were given to them when they entered the room. “There are four villains printed out here,” he points at the pictures. “But you just showed us three! If this is a misprint, then U.A, the most prominent hero school in Japan, should be ashamed of that foolish mistake!”

“He could have been getting to that, though,” Kacchan comments dryly.

“We examinees are here because we wish to be molded into exemplary heroes!”

“I feel like ‘calm down’ is the phrase I said the most today, with an additional ‘fucking’ for this guy.”

“In addition,” the boy turns and points at Kacchan. “You over there! The one dressed like Peter Pan!”

Kacchan points at himself in inquiry, Izuku covers his face with his hands and groans. Can it be called second-hand embarrassment when the person in question feels none of it?

“You and your friend have been mumbling and whispering the whole time,” the boy narrows his eyes. “And the fact that you’re dressed up as some Disney character-”

“It’s Nintendo,” Kacchan corrects.

“It’s distracting!” The boy finishes, glaring at him. “If you’re here just for fun, then leave immediately!”

Izuku is about to stutter an apology but Kacchan beats him to it.

It’s neither apologetic nor remorseful. “If a bunch of mutters and clothing distract you so much that you wanna bitch about it,” Kacchan raises an eyebrow and crosses his arms, unimpressed. “Then how much more a bunch of robots about to kill you? What’re you gonna do then? Bitch on them too?”

The boy sputters. “Such language-!”

“I think it’s you who should either shut up or fuck off.”

“Kacchan!” Izuku hisses, tugging at his friend’s tunic.

“Kindly shut up or fuck off, please,” Kacchan rephrases.

The rest of the examinees laugh.

“Okay, okay, that’s enough!” Present Mic says. “Examinee Number 7111, thanks for your question,” he gives a thumbs up at the boy. He points at Kacchan. “Hero of Twilight, no swearing.”

Kacchan shrugs.

The screen shows the silhouette of the fourth robot, with the point value zero right next to it. “The last one is worth zero points,” Present Mic explains. “Basically this guy’s an obstacle.”

The screen shows the Present Mic sprite walking around the city and encountering the zero pointer robot.

“Each battle center has this, an obstacle that will go crazy in narrow spaces,” he continues. The Present Mic sprite immediately runs away from the robot. “It’s not impossible to defeat, but there’s no reason to defeat it either,” he grins. “I suggest that you avoid them, dear listeners.”

The boy thanks Present Mic and sits down.

“So it’s like the obstacles you avoid in video games, huh?” One examinee says to his friend.

“The whole thing is like a video game,” his friend observes.

Kacchan chuckles.

 


 

Kacchan brings his bow and arrows for the exam, along with some food he made this morning (he had given All Might a bottle of milk before they entered the building). He gives a few riceballs and a bottle of milk to Izuku.

“May the goddess smile upon you,” he murmurs, and Izuku smiles. That was always Kacchan’s way of saying good luck.

“You too,” Izuku replies.

They leave.

 


 

Hookshots? Check.

Boomerang? Check.

Slingshot? Check.

Seeds and nuts? Check.

“Alright,” he pats the utility belt he’s wearing. He looks up to the tall metal gate looming over him and the examinees. There were urban buildings peeking out from the wall. “This is… big.” So this was what All Might meant when he said he could practice in U.A.

He clenches his fists, staring determinedly at the gate. Right, it’s time to analyze his situation.

The goal of this exam was to get as many points as possible, and the only way to do that is to defeat the robots. Straightforward and simple enough.

“Factors to consider,” he mutters. “The time limit and the space; it’ll take time to find the robots, especially with a large city like that,” he crosses his arms. “Not to mention the time it will take to defeat them,” he taps his arm, frowning. “Can’t use my quirk, the possibility of being out of the fight once I do is high. Maybe as a last resort, when there’s only a minute on the clock. What can I do, though?”

He remembers what Kacchan said. Robots have patterns, they’re predictable.

“They have to have a weakness, everything does,” he murmurs. “There are four types, three if I avoid the zero pointer. So three patterns to figure out in less than ten minutes, but once I figure it out… all I have to do is wash, rinse, and repeat,” he wishes he brought his notebooks. “I have to be fast, there are the other examinees to consider.”

So he needed a way to find robots fast, to observe all their sides as quickly and efficiently as possible, and lastly, he needed a way to attack that wasn’t time consuming nor reliant on his quirk.

He looks up at the buildings one more time. He had a lot of strength and stamina thanks to the ten month training, and the fighting lessons gave him a decent sense of balance. All he had to do is put all of that into practice.

Nobody would be there to catch him this time.

“Sorry, All Might,” he says, holding one hookshot on each hand. He was glad he invested on gloves, he was still nervous—which meant sweaty palms. “But at least this isn’t dubiously stable piles of trash.”

 


 

Katsuki was adjusting his bow, making sure it was in top shape. It was a new compound bow his parents bought him as a gift for passing the U.A written exams. It was heavier than his recurve one, and bulkier to lug around—but it was powerful. The arrows that came with it were pretty good too. He bought as much as he could. It was pricey, but he could afford it.

He's sure to lose plenty of them today, which means he'll probably have to buy more soon. Maybe he should get a part-time job? 

“That’s the weirdo who came into the gates in cosplay, isn’t it?” One of the examinees comments. “What the hell, he’s really going to fight wearing that?”

“His friend is also the one that almost tripped at the gates too,” another snickers. “How lame is that?”

“It was pretty manly when he was talking back to the glasses guy,” someone muses.

“That just means he’s shameless,” a snort. “Think he’s really taking this seriously, wearing that?

“Well, it’s one less rival for us,” the first who mentioned Katsuki says, shrugging. Many of the examinees looked at him and grinned, thanking every god there is for giving them the luck of having one less person to worry.

They blinked as the same boy rushes past them and enters the city.

Wait, he entered the city.

The gates were open.

Silence.

“IT’S STARTED ALREADY?!” Was the scream that echoed in Battle Area A.

 


 

Aim and release, aim and release, aim and release.

“Calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down,” Izuku repeats, aiming his left hookshot and pulling the trigger. When he feels the bite from the hookshot, he releases the other one, immediately pulled away from one building to another. So far so good. “It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fiiiiine—oh god, I can’t believe I’m doing this.

He’s glad that All Might wasn’t seeing this.

Or his mother for that matter.

 


 

Izuku’s mother may not be seeing this, but Toshinori definitely is.

“You guys seeing B?” Present Mic’s gleeful voice calls out in the speakers. “That green-haired kid’s crazy!”

If the teachers weren’t proctoring the mock battles, then they were here in the board room watching live feed of each area. They were currently looking at one window that showed Midoriya quickly pulling himself from one area to another using some kind of grappling device.

Toshinori covers his face and groans, “Of course he brought them.”

He hears tiny giggles above him. Nestled comfortably on his head was Helia, the fairy that decided to be his companion after she healed him (“She likes you enough to stay, that’s rare,” Bakugou had said). She was also watching the battles in fascination.

A one pointer robot bursts out from a building and blocks Midoriya’s path. The boy yelps, eyes wide as he freezes in shock and terror. Then he shakes his head and sets his mouth to a determined line. He releases his hookshot and aims at the robot’s torso. The tip sinks in easily, and he’s immediately tugged right into the one pointer.

The robot stares at the boy, who is smiling uneasily, it then aims its guns at him. Midoriya dodges quickly with his other hookshot. Tugging himself to another direction. The robot is not so lucky. It shoots its own torso with both its guns and explodes moments after.

Midoriya’s eyes widen at that, and Toshinori can see him mumbling something rapidly.

“Impressive reaction time and quick thinking,” Midnight comments.

“That was incredibly risky though,” Eraserhead says. He raises his eyebrows as the boy runs back to the carnage and quickly searches through the junk. He puts two robot parts in his knapsack and goes back to using his grappling device to search for more robots.

Interesting.

 


 

“Sometimes broken parts are better than whole items,” Izuku mutters, sprinting on the rooftops and scanning the area below for robots. Aim, shoot, tug—he was at the next rooftop. Aim, shoot, tug—ah, he spots a two pointer. Twist, aim other hookshot, shoot, release after feeling the bite. He reaches for one of the robot parts he shoved in his pack—the one pointer’s gun components, he doesn’t know what it is exactly, but he does know it has a big boom. “Target your opponent, find a weakness.”

The two pointer was most likely just as predictable and stupid as the one pointer, except with stronger defenses and weapons. So it was possible that it would shoot itself for the sake of eliminating its target. Now it was just figuring out the sweet spot, the place where it would explode the biggest.

Izuku aims at the neck and pulls himself to the robot. He taps on it and sings a loud yoohoo to get its attention. The two pointer’s optics glows an ominous red, declaring an “I will kill you!” as it spots him. He shoots his other hookshot to another direction once its tail aims at him and begins to load, dropping the part he was holding as he pulls himself away.

The tail shoots a barrage of bullets on itself. It consequently hits the part he dropped and creates an explosion.

“Not in the neck,” he notes, going back to the carnage and quickly picking up the two pointer’s parts that he wants. He goes back to using the hookshot. “It’s likely all the robots use gun-based weaponry, so I can get plenty of explosive parts.”

He thanks Kacchan and his fiery love for anything explosive that he recognizes the smells coming from the robot parts.

Okay, he’s getting the hang of this. He just needs to be quicker in attacking and searching. The one pointer’s sweet spot is at the torso, now he just needs to know the other two.

He wonders how Kacchan is doing.

 


 

Katsuki drops the charred remains of the one and two pointer robots and walks towards the three pointer that just broke down.

One pointer’s torso contains its energy source and is susceptible to explosion. The limbs of the one and two pointers are thin and vulnerable, separating them and ripping its heads off makes them as good as useless—make sure to damage the wheels to make them immobile after.

He pulls out the arrows from the three pointer robot and puts them in his quiver.

Three pointers are larger and have more weapons, but they’re incredibly slow compared to one and two pointers. Separating the limbs is inefficient as they still have the weapons on their torso and shoulders. It’s possible to clog the holes from their gatling guns to make them implode. Their energy seems to be around the middle bottom, so surf underneath them with a makeshift shield and aim an explosion there.

There should be around six minutes left, he thinks. He shouldn’t waste time.

Katsuki spreads his hands behind him and activates his quirk. He blasts himself high up and searches for more robots in the air.

He notices the robot targeting a purple haired boy, one who’s too busy evading another two pointer robot to notice. He frowns, that’s not good.

He loads an arrow, takes a deep breath, and focuses.

Sounds are drowned out, his muscles are stiff and steady, his eyes unblinking. He sees everything in front of him with inhuman clarity, his mind working hyperdrive to make sure he doesn’t miss a single detail. The robot slowly edges towards the boy. Its shining red optic is in view. He pulls the string, just a little more.

Not yet, not yet. Wait for it to move just—there!

He fires.

The robot’s head jerks back as his arrow hits its optic dead center. He lets out a breath, his muscles relaxing and the sounds slowly coming back. The red glowing orbs of all the robot types are vulnerable as well, blinding them effectively. It won’t destroy them, but it will weaken them—and that’s better than doing nothing. The boy can exploit this if he has half a brain. The two pointer lets out alarming beeps, alerting the boy.

There’s still the other one.

He’s still in midair as he loads another arrow, only two seconds have passed. He takes another breath and focuses; he has enough stamina for another flurry shot. But he’ll need to rest a bit after. He doesn’t have any more food to restore him.

 


 

“I want him in my class.”

“Snipe, just because he’s good at shooting it doesn’t mean it’s his quirk,” Thirteen sighs. “He blew up two robots with his bare hands minutes ago.”

“Does it look like I care?”

“He doesn’t use guns,” Midnight points out.

“Does it look like I care?”

“You’re not a homeroom teacher,” Eraserhead says flatly. "You don't have a class."

“Does. It. Look. Like. I. Care?”

“Either way, it’s still my decision on where the new students will be assigned,” Nezu concludes amiably. “So it doesn’t matter if you care."

Toshinori chuckles, shaking his head at the antics of his new colleagues. He feels a tug on his bangs and looks down, Helia is fluttering near his chest.

‘You should take note of the examinees too,’ she chimes, her bubbly voice echoing in his head. He’s still isn’t used to that. ‘You’re going to be a teacher, right?’

“I wouldn’t know where to start,” he admits quietly. She has a point though, he shouldn’t just focus on Midoriya and Bakugou.

‘You taught Izuku,’ she tilts her head. ‘That’s a start.’

He shakes his head. “I only taught him basic combat and physical training.”

‘Being able to fight and being physically fit is foundational for a hero, isn’t it?’ She giggles, tugging on his hair some more. ‘That’s still a start in my book.’

 


 

“That’s about twenty points, I think,” Izuku pants, wiping away the sweat on his soot-covered forehead. He was incredibly thankful for All Might’s training, he didn’t think his old self would be able to keep up with this plan for so long. When he wasn’t high up in the air from using his hookshots, he was running, and when he wasn’t running then he was tricking robots to destroy themselves. Wash, rinse, and repeat indeed. Stamina was something he had before, but not strength. And this? It demanded a lot of upper and grip strength.

He looks at his trembling arms and twitching fingers. He’s near the limit of using his hookshots, and he’s ran out of Kacchan’s food as well—he can’t replenish his stamina or heal the numbness in his hands.

“New plan,” he attaches his hookshots to his utility belt and grabs his boomerang. “Blind and attack.” He pulls out a metal plate with a sharp edge from the robot debris he’s surrounded in (the examinees don’t waste time, do they?) and sprints to find another robot. He could aim his boomerang at the red orbs and damage the robot with his makeshift bombs and this plate. It’d be slower than his hookshots but there’s nothing else he can think of besides using All Might’s quirk.

And that was a last resort.

He notices someone familiar in the chaos of rampant quirks and murderous robots. “Ah, it’s the nice girl,” he blinks as he sees her running and touching four robots. They slowly float up, the girl squeezing her eyes shut in concentration as she keeps them floating. She drops them once they’re in a certain height, and the robots fall, breaking apart on impact.

“T-that’s t…twenty eight,” she heaves, her face having a sickly green tinge.

Izuku gapes, he needs to keep up.

 


 

“This year’s group has a lot of potential,” Midnight comments, glancing at each screen. “There are even ones who look promising even without their quirks.”

“We shouldn’t pass judgment yet, the real test starts now.”

 


 

The ground shakes.

Everyone stops what they’re doing to look around and figure out why.

The tremors get stronger. Izuku turns to see great clouds of dust rise from crumbling buildings. He hears glass breaking from the windows, concrete cracking beneath him, and a rumbling sound that was getting louder and louder and louder.

He wonders why it’s so dark now, it should still be morning.

“This… isn’t night time, isn’t it?” He slowly looks up.

And up.

And up.

And up.

 


 

“That,” Katsuki starts, looking at the gigantic robot in awe and horror. “Is one bigass obstacle.”

It was taller and larger than any of the buildings here, dwarfing everyone near its vicinity.

The red orbs on the zero pointer light up, looking down at the panicking examinees. Katsuki swore and started to run as well when he saw it bringing a fist up. He was on a rooftop of a relatively low building, but he’d rather not find out how powerful a shockwave can this robot’s punch make—and if it’s strong enough to bring a building down or fling him away from the resulting wind.

He finds out anyways.

The zero pointer aims its fist on the ground, ridiculously fast for a thing its size. Katsuki didn’t have time to descend using his quirk, the wind pushing him so strong that he’s flung to another building rooftop with flying debris as company.

He grunts in pain as he lands hard on the concrete surface, he cries out when something hits his lower leg harder. He twists and turns to glare at the culprit, finding a broken chunk of some building’s pillar sitting innocently on his foot. Luckily enough, he can blast it away.

Unluckily enough, it fucked up his ankle.

“Shit,” he hisses, slowly trying to stand up. The zero pointer was coming here, and while he believes that U.A would never make anything that would intentionally kill children, he’d rather not test it out first-hand. A sharp pain flares on his ankle and he slumps back on the floor with a wince. All he has to do is stand for a few seconds, that’s all he needs.

He’s never had an incredibly high pain tolerance like Deku, but he can do this. He grits his teeth, standing up and willing himself not to fall down again.

“I really need to stock up on healing items,” he mutters, aiming his hands down and blasting himself as far away as possible. He’s not sure if his arms can handle the strain and pressure for long.

 


 

“Less than two minutes left!” Present Mic’s voice echoes loudly in the city.

Izuku pays no mind to it, staring at the gigantic robot in horror. There’s no way he can defeat that, he doesn’t think anyone in the group can. Retreat is the best option, especially since that robot gives no points at all. He turns to run, wondering if he’ll be able to find another robot to increase his points.

He hears a cry of pain that makes him pause. He looks back to see the nice girl, the one who stopped him from tripping and laughed at Kacchan’s antics, lying on the ground, her leg stuck under large piles of rubble. She tries to pull herself free, but it’s obvious that she’s too weak to make any progress.

Quirk exhaustion, his mind supplies. She must have been using her floating quirk non-stop and is at her limit, that’s the only reason why she hasn’t bothered to make the rubble float. How many robots has she used her quirk on?

He doesn't have time to ponder on these questions, behind her was the zero pointer, slowly getting closer.

 


 

Katsuki lands hard on the ground, his arms shaking from the force of his blasts.

“Fuck,” he pants, he can’t even clench his hands. The examinees around him are still running away, so the robot isn’t that far. He’s at his limit. No choice though, he grits his teeth and stands up, aiming his hands towards the ground and is about to propel himself.

A hand gripping his wrist stops him from creating another blast.

He’s pulled, someone crouches under him. He blinks as he’s lifted on someone’s back. He doesn’t think he knows him, he’d remember someone with hair that shade of purple, and that messy of a hairstyle (it does look vaguely familiar though).

The person runs, carrying him all the way. It’s rather impressive, he knows he’s not the lightest person.

“This is what you get when you hang around rooftops and shoot things, you Zelda wannabe,” the person grunts, shifting his weight.

“Zelda’s the princess,” he corrects idly, glancing behind him. They were pretty far now, the zero pointer was thankfully only fast with its punches.

“Accurate,” the person snorts, not slowing on his running. “Considering you’re being carried and saved like a damsel.”

“This isn’t the first time,” he admits, memories of the sludge monster comes to mind.

 


 

Izuku turns back and runs, he equips his hookshots on each of his hand and fires—ignoring the pain crying out from his arms.

Aim and release, aim and release, aim and release.

He’s in front of the robot’s head. He raises his arm. “Please,” he whispers, clenching his hand into a fist (it hurts, it hurts, but he endures). “Make this work.”

Remember what All Might taught you in punching; put weight, put technique, put power—never tuck your thumb inside. His arm glows, the skin turning a pale bright yellow and the veins glowing a sparkling red. The sleeve of his jacket disintegrates from the amount of energy emanating from it.

He grits his teeth. Remember what All Might said about activating One for All. Squeeze your buttocks and yell this inside your heart-

“SMASH!”

He punches the robot’s face as hard as he can.

 


 

“You could leave me here,” Katsuki suggests. They’re not running anymore, the person is walking towards the gate in an almost leisurely pace. “You still have time to bash some robots.”

The person lets out a sharp bitter laugh. “I didn’t expect to get a single point, much less four,” he shakes his head. “No, I think I’m done. And you need to get checked anyways, looking at your arms makes me wince in pain.”

Katsuki hums, letting himself be carried in silence. He observes the slight tremors from the person’s arms and listens to the ragged breaths coming from him.

“You need to work out,” he says after a while. “You get winded too easily.”

“You’re welcome, princess.”

“Just saying, the fuck kind of hero are you that you can’t carry people to safety?”

 


 

The whole head shatters into pieces, the force of his punch topples the robot backwards. Explosions start to burst out in every part of its body.

Izuku lets out a shaky laugh, surprised and relieved that it worked. His arm is in even more pain, every muscle and bone screaming in protest as he uncurls his hand and shifts it to his side. It doesn’t matter though, because he did it. He actually did it! He has a quirk, he just used his quirk! He’s-

“One more minute left!” Present Mic’s voice booms.

He’s on air.

Falling.

He screams, looking down at the ground in horror. It was getting close fast, too fast. He has to get his hookshot, change his trajectory to a high building, he searches frantically for it with his good arm.

He pats on empty space.

His stomach drops, he searches the other side. Nothing, he must have shoved them thoughtlessly while prepping for his punch. They were long gone by now.

“Don’t panic, Izuku,” he says, mind zipping through any possible means of not being a bloody pancake. “I have All Might’s quirk, landing should be easy.” All he had to do is augment his legs to handle the force.

He glances at his injured arm. The skin was mottled with ugly bruises, some areas were swollen. His hand was twitching even more, it took effort to move and bend his fingers and joints. He’s not even sure if the bone was left unscathed, while his arm wasn’t bent oddly or flapping uselessly like a piece of chewed raw meat—it felt like the blood in his marrow was wailing in agony.

All Might had warned him about this. That he was trained to handle this quirk in a hurry, he was a rushed job. This was his first time using this quirk. He’s surprised he even has any bones left at this point.

Would his body be able to handle another use and handle the force of landing?

If he does this then he won’t be able to walk. He’ll be stuck with just twenty points.

He has no choice, this is his best bet. He forces himself to stand upright, feet facing the ever approaching ground. He concentrates, making the power flow into his legs and strengthening them. He has to keep it like that, not letting go. He can’t put too much power or it might harm his legs. Balance, he needs to balance this.

Focus, focus, focus.

He can do this.

Only a few seconds left. He closes his eyes and grits his teeth, keeping the power flowing in his legs.

Just a bit more.

Any minute now.

He has to brace himself.

He can do this.

He can do this!

He can… do this?

He doesn’t feel the cold wind slapping his face, nor does it feel like his feet have touched anything. He opens one eye and gasps as he finds himself floating a few inches above ground. He cancels the energy on his legs and flails.

“Hrgk!”

On his right was the nice girl, her body sagging on a large floating robot part. She was sweating bullets, staring at him in concentration. She brings the tips of her fingers together and gasps, “Release!”

They both fall harmlessly on the ground.

He lets out a shaky breath, trying to calm his thumping heart. He hears a groan and sees the girl vomit, her face greener than before.

“Are you alright!?” He scrambles up and runs towards her.

“Sh-shouldn’t… I a-ask that?” She croaks, wiping her mouth. “Your… arm… d-doesn’t look t-to gooooo—oh god,” she turns away and vomits again.

He’s unsure what to do, reaching out and rubbing the girl’s back in soothing circles with his good arm. Their best bet was to wait for the proctors or something, there’s bound to be a medical team on standby.

“TIME’S UUUUUUP!” Present Mic shouts, it’s the loudest its been this morning.

“Ah, damn,” he sighs, his shoulders slump. “I hope twenty points is enough.”

Chapter Text

Izuku was sitting next to the nice girl, rubbing her back in circles as they waited for the next phase. She finally stopped vomiting, but she was still slumped on the robot part and didn’t seem keen on getting up soon. He swings his legs, glancing at the mess of debris and murmuring examinees around him, why were they all looking at them?

The nice girl groans again and Izuku checks his belt and pack for anything useful. There were only the robot parts he salvaged among the wreckage in his pack and his belt had lost other things besides his hookshots, the only things left were his seeds and nuts. He sighs, he should probably invest on a better quality belt. He could ask his mom for some money, but he didn’t want to burden her. The sports equipment and his diet were too much as it is.

Come to think of it, his mom’s scent inhaler, that stick she smells whenever she feels dizzy or nauseous, would have been useful now. Maybe he should have some healing stuff on hand? Patching up wounds was something a hero would do, right? Kacchan always brought his special food and All Might usually has a small first aid kit in one of his gigantic pants pockets.

Hmm, more things to consider for the future, maybe he should get a part-time job? Or ask Kacchan how he always cooked things that had literal magic on it?

“Okay, good work!” A voice says cheerily. “Good work! Good work! Here, here, have some gummies!”

“Uh… thank you…?” A younger voice replies, confused.

Izuku turns to see a small old lady giving a bemused examinee a handful of gummy bears. She smiles and starts walking towards them. He squints his eyes, something about her seemed familiar. Her medical coat, her pink headgear and boots, the syringe-shaped hairpin and walking cane.

It clicks. “That’s the Youthful Heroine, Recovery Girl!” He snaps his fingers then winces. Wrong arm to use.

Many of the examinees look at him, then look at the old lady who was giving away candy.

“There’s nothing youthful about her,” someone snickers, he would have started listing off reasons on why that was her title and why she deserved it but someone else beat him to it.

“You shouldn’t disrespect her,” a blond boy with a large metal belt scolds, Izuku remembers his quirk was some kind of navel laser. “That mademoiselle is the backbone of U.A. If not for her power and skill, events like this,” he gestures at the broken robots and destroyed city. “Would be unfeasible, almost impossible.”

Recovery Girl stops in front of the robot part Izuku was on “Young boy, be a dear and come down?” She asks. “It would make my job easier.”

“A-ah, of course!” Izuku hops off, he kneels down so that she could get a better look. “Sorry,” he scratches his head then winces. Injured arm, he has to remember that.

Recovery Girl frowns, assessing his injuries. He has a few scratches and burns alongside that mess of an arm. “Oh dear, you worked yourself too hard, didn’t you?” She murmurs. She wasn’t a teacher, so she usually stayed in the infirmary or medical tent for the practical exams, but she didn’t need to see the live feed to know someone who’d work their body to the ground.

Not only did he show signs of overloading his quirk, but also exhaustion and muscle strain. She tsks, shaking her head. It was an annoying trait in many good heroes, their lack of self-preservation and their overwhelming need to work hard. Well, time to do her job. She puckers her lips, aims at the boy’s forehead, and gives him a big fat kiss.

Everyone gapes in horror.

Izuku yelps, jerking back. “U-uh, wha-?” He feels warmth flowing in his body, not too different from when he eats a heart container. The more the soreness and pain ebbed away, the less his arm looked like battered meat. He was feeling tired though, he never felt tired when he was being healed.

He raises his newly healed arm and clenches his hand into a fist. No pain whatsoever. The trembling in his other arm has stopped as well. If it weren’t for the fact that he had the urge to take a nap, he’d have said he was never injured at all.

It was an odd kind of healing, there’d never been any price to pay whenever he consumed healing items. Except for the time and effort it took to find them (even Kacchan had a hard time creating his food, the ingredients were hard to get).

He wonders if that made him spoiled.

“Alright now, dear?” Izuku nods, Recovery Girl smiles. She rummages through her coat pocket and offers some candy to him. “That’s good, have some gummies.”

He takes the candy, mumbling a thank you as he pops one in his mouth.

She turns to look at the other examinees. “Is anyone else injured?” She asks loudly.

He chews on the soft candy, savoring its tart flavor. He was in Battle Area B, Kacchan was in A. Did that mean his group had already been taken care of by Recovery Girl?

He hopes Kacchan wasn’t seriously hurt.

 


 

“Hey there! Green dude!”

Katsuki blinks, glancing left and right. Nobody there, he looks at his companion in question.

“Don’t look at me, princess,” the purple-haired boy shrugs. “Why would I shout at you when you’re right next to me?”

Katsuki hums, point taken.

“At the back!” The same voice shouts, it sounded closer now. “Behind you!”

They turn to find a boy running towards them. Almost the same height as Katsuki and surprisingly built for his age, almost rivaling Deku’s, he was bulkier than Katsuki’s leaner physique. He stops in front of them, gasping for breath. Katsuki stays still and looks at the newcomer bemusedly, the purple-haired boy looks like he wants to leave as soon as possible. Now would be great, is what his tired stare is trying to convey.

“You’re the archer, right?” The boy asks. He grins when Katsuki nods, his teeth incredibly sharp—almost shark-like. “Awesome! I saw you a few times shooting those bots, you were so manly!”

“Manly,” The purple-haired boy repeats, sounding very done with everything.

“Incredibly manly!” The boy agrees, pumping his fists. “Anyways, sorry if I’m bothering you, I just wanted to give you back these,” he removes his backpack and brings something out.

“Oh,” Katsuki perks up, taking the items. “My arrows,” he smiles. He had his arrows, not all of them; but considering he had been shooting non-stop since the start of the test, it was a lot. They weren’t bent or damaged in any way too. “Thanks.”

“No problem! I picked them up whenever I saw them, they didn’t look cheap. I was planning to return them to you, or ask the proctor to do it,” he laughs. “Name’s Kirishima, by the way! Kirishima Eijirou!” He gives his widest grin, turning to one side and putting his fist up—showing off his biceps. The two boys swear they saw his teeth glint against the non-existing ray of light.

“Bakugou Katsuki.”

“… Shinsou Hitoshi.”

“Those are awesome names!” Kirishima enthuses, smile never wavering. Shinsou feels tired just by looking at him, he feels more exhausted when the boy changes his focus to him. “And you, I saw you carrying him and bringing him to the gate! That was so-”

“Manly?” Shinsou guesses, lips twitching to a smile despite his flat tone.

“Heroic!” Kirishima corrects, he tilts his head. “And also manly,” he adds. “You helped him with no hesitation, dude! Everyone else near him left him, didn’t even bother to slow down,” he shakes his head. “I saw you, you weren’t near him at all, but you still bolted towards him and—and—!”

It seems he has no words to describe the manliness he had witnessed.

“It’s not a big deal,” Shinsou brushes off, leaning away as Kirishima looks seconds away to another emotional outburst, or a breakdown. He wasn’t sure. “My quirk was never suited to this test,” Katsuki frowns as he laughs that bitter laugh again. “Nothing would have changed either way. I just thought I might as well-”

Shinsou tenses as Kirishima gets closer, giving him a hard stare. He clutches his shoulders. “As long as you have a manly spirit,” he starts, his tone deathly serious. “Then quirks shouldn’t matter,” he grips his shoulders. “And you have one of the manliest spirits I’ve ever seen!”

“Uh,” Shinsou blinks.

“Take the compliment,” Katsuki shoulder bumps him, grinning as Shinsou gives him a glare. He wonders if everyone in U.A was going to be like this. People with good hearts and better eccentricities—if so, then he and Deku made a right choice.

(it would be a welcoming kind of familiar)

Shinsou looks back at Kirishima. “This is the weirdest compliment I’ve ever had,” he states frankly, giving lopsided smile. “But thanks.”

“Your hair’s pretty cool too,” Kirishima comments, observing said hair better now that he was closer. “Did you choose that color to match your eyes?”

A beat.

Shinsou raises an eyebrow. “It’s natural.”

A second beat.

“Ah,” Kirishima laughs sheepishly, letting go of his shoulders and taking a step back. “Man, I’m kinda jealous! You two have awesome hair right off the bat and I’m stuck with a normal black,” he grumbles, fiddling with one of his dark locks. “I was thinking about dyeing it soon, it looks too plain.”

“Shades of violet wouldn’t suit you,” Shinsou yawns, his tense posture relaxing into something more laid-back. “And blond would make me hurl, you’re bright enough as it is—your choice though, I don’t really care.”

“Red is good,” Katsuki says.

Kirishima perks up at that. “Like the Crimson Riot?”

Katsuki hums, giving the boy a considering look. “No, I just think it would suit you,” he insists. “Like seeing something bright and vibrant after being drenched in an endless storm filled with thunder, after hours of climbing up wet terrain and fighting harsh enemies—seeing red after only seeing cold blue can be a balm for any weary heart,” he nods. “Red is perfect for you, a warm color for a warmer personality.”

Another beat.

“Dude,” Kirishima breathes, eyes wide.

“That is incredibly poetic for someone who said ‘shut up and fuck off’ an hour ago,” Shinsou agrees.

 


 

The bus ride going back U.A had an easygoing atmosphere, for Hitoshi anyways. With Kirishima never running out of things to say and Bakugou’s silent but calming presence, it was a far different experience from the stifling nervousness he felt earlier.

They were good people. Incredibly odd, but good people nonetheless. It made Hitoshi less sour at the fact that they’ll obviously pass the exam and enter the heroics (he definitely won’t).

He came here expecting very little (despite his hope that maybe, just maybe, he could be a step closer to his dream). He’d been surrounded by people who looked full of themselves (sure of themselves), confident of their flashy (heroic) quirks.

Despite passing the written exam, he expected the practical would bite him in the ass. And bite it did. Robots were useless on his quirk, completely and utterly useless. The best he could do was run away and survive the ten minutes with his dignity intact.

He never expected to have a chance in destroying a single robot, much less two, in one go. But he did, all because of two arrows destroying the robots’ optics effectively. Tricking them to destroy each other had been easy after that.

It didn’t take long to figure out who was behind the arrows, that examinee had made his impression since the orientation. He was the only one who had a large quiver filled with arrows. It was easy to track down a glimpse of green and see a volley of arrows flying in random directions.

Hitoshi had scoffed at him, wondering if greed and arrogance is why he was wasting so much effort, why would an examinee shoot so many robots even if it wasn’t destroying them? Did he think he’ll get partial points for it? Gain part of the glory? Have an easy score? Show off his quirk?

Those bitter thoughts festered even when he was carrying him. Ugly phrases like “serves him right” and “this is what you get” echoed in his mind through the whole run. But he didn’t let go, nor did he leave him—even when the blond himself suggested it. There’s having ugly feelings and then there’s giving into them, and he wouldn’t stoop so low as to let them control his actions. Especially when he saw the bleeding arms and twisted ankle, he wasn’t cruel.

He glances at Bakugou, who was explaining to Kirishima the parts of his bow and what each of it did. He knows better now. The blond who can wax poetic or profane words (depending on his mood) seemed more like he just wanted to help anyone who needed it. Even if it meant wasting his expensive equipment and injuring his arms, and that was exactly what happened.

“-how about you, Shinsou?”

Hitoshi blinks, Kirishima was looking at him expectantly. “What?”

“Your quirk,” Kirishima answers, grinning. “What is it? Mine’s hardening,” he raises his arm and activates his quirk, showing the rock hard skin. “It’s not as flashy as Bakugou’s though.”

“It’s not flashy,” Bakugou says.

“Dude, you make explosions,” Kirishima disagrees, he turns to Hitoshi. “So what is it?”

Ah.

He’d almost forgotten about that.

It’s been a long time since he’s met people who didn’t know about his quirk. All of his classmates second-guess him half the time, most of his family is wary of him, and don’t get him started on his teachers. How long has it been since he’s had a conversation as free and casual as this?

Life must like him today, because the driver announces that they’re here and the bus stops. Hitoshi doesn’t sigh in relief, but it’s an almost thing (and if Bakugou gives him a look that says he’s not fooling him, then he can be willfully ignorant).

Everyone starts to pack up and wait in line to exit. Kirishima forgets his question, focused more on asking for their numbers. He insists that it would be horrible if three manly dudes like themselves didn’t hang out, an affront to chivalry.

Hitoshi doesn’t know what that means, he suspects Bakugou is only nodding just to be nice.

 


 

Hitoshi walks home alone (nothing new).

He looks at his hand.

He remembers the powerful way Bakugou moved and fought before he was injured. Rushing towards the city with no hesitation and destroying the first robot that appeared by slicing its limbs ruthlessly with his shield. It broke after that merciless onslaught, but it was impressive and terrifying to witness. Many of the examinees wasted time by gaping at the brutality that was the cosplayer they mocked moments ago. If Bakugou wasn’t exploding robots with his bare hands, then he was using some random thing he grabbed (at some point, he had lifted a broken mailbox and hurled it at a robot), and if he wasn’t doing that then he was shooting arrows like some high elf warrior in a Tolkien novel.

Bakugou was strong, even without his quirk.

He thinks of how Kirishima was so amazed at a simple act of human decency, how much positivity and sincerity flowed out of him. He remembers how easy it was for him to get pulled into his sphere, one conversation after another. How easy it was for him to grin and smile. He imagines him picking up any arrows he can find just to return it to a stranger, worried about someone he never met.

Kirishima had the friendliness and energy he often saw in popular heroes.

“A manly spirit, huh?” He murmurs, remembering the enthusiastic words thrown at him. Quirks shouldn’t matter as long as you have that, Kirishima had said.

It’s too optimistic, shallow words said from someone who was already blessed with a heroic quirk.

(and yet)

He clenches his hand. It will hurt if those words are wrong, disappointment is something he eats everyday but he’ll never get used to the taste, but he’s always been an optimistic fool too.

Why wouldn’t he be, with a dream like his?

 


 

Nine days later he gets his letter, two days late from the promised deadline. 

When the one week passed and there was still no sign of U.A’s reply, Hitoshi had thought that was it. He had failed, they must not bother sending letters to those who wouldn’t attend the school anyways.

Now that he has it, the worry and anxiety hasn’t abated in the slightest.

It’s a simple little thing, a plain white envelope sealed in red wax—sitting innocently on his desk, begging him to open it and face reality. It makes the dinner he just ate writhe and curdle.

U.A has several courses, all based on their departments, and students can choose one when they apply. He chose heroics, with his second choice being general studies.  He knows he did well in the written exam, good enough for any of the other courses. But to get into heroics you had to pass the practical exam as well, and he doubts his four points was enough.

“I suppose general studies won’t be bad,” he sighs, he gives the envelope one more stare and picks it up. He holds his breath as he opens it, expecting to find a formal letter giving him a polite message of his failure.

He gets a small circular disk instead.

He blinks, turning the disk from side to side. “Am I supposed to press something or-?” The black center of the disk lights up and a high-pitched “HELLO!” rings in his ears. He yelps and drops the disk in shock, it lands on his desk. Spewing up a face that was smiling at him.

The small disk was a projector, showing him a holographic screen.

A glowing little girl’s face covers the whole screen, her blue eyes twinkling in mischief. “Hello!” She chirps again.

He blinks some more.

“Ack, Helia! Don’t block the camera!” An incredibly familiar voice flusters.  The girl turns, facing the owner of the voice. Her pale yellow hair and shimmering wings blocking whoever she was laughing at. “We shouldn’t waste time as it is!”

The girl laughs again and flies away, revealing who the owner of that voice is.

Hitoshi’s dinner may have shot up and dislodged his throat, because he’s pretty sure there is a holographic projection of All Might in a gaudy, bright-colored stage in his dim bedroom.

Holographic All Might coughs, apologizing to the crew and giving the floating ball of light (was the girl really that tiny?) a disapproving stare, he then looks at the camera and flashes his familiar smile. “I am here as a projection!” He declares, hands on his hips and chest puffing out, inspiring and upbeat music begins to play. “Hello, young Shinsou!”

Right, okay, that happened. Is happening. What is happening?

“Your assessment took a lot longer than the others, which is why your letter came late,” All Might explains, bowing apologetically. “For that, I’m sorry. You were probably worried these past few days.”

He wonders if there’s a pause button in that thing because his brain can’t keep up.

“I’ll get straight to the point,” the tone sounding both cheerful and serious at the same time, Hitoshi was impressed. “Your score in the written exam was exemplary, but that means nothing if you scored low on the practical. And you're aware on how that went."

He winces.

“With these in mind, that means you didn’t pass.”

“The Symbol of Peace doesn’t pull his punches, huh?” He chuckles hollowly, looking down. Of course, of fucking course, why did he hope otherwise?

“If that was all there is to it!”

He stiffens, replaying those words in his mind. He looks up with wide eyes.

“In most cases, you would be put on your second choice,” All Might continues, brandishing a remote. The ball of light twirls around the hero’s body as he points the remote on a TV screen. “But you impressed many in the faculty with these actions! Take a look at this video compilation!”

The screen blips to life and he’s treated to a bird’s eye perspective of everyone running away. “This was when the the zero pointer appeared,” he comments, quirking a brow. Just how many cameras were there? And how the hell did they stay intact for that whole fiasco of a test?

The scene changes to Bakugou crumpled on the ground, struggling to get up. Small spatters of blood stain the concrete beneath him, his face scrunched up in pain. Behind him were many of the other examinees, running away and paying him no mind.

It changes again, this time to Hitoshi’s own face—dirty and exhausted—looking at something (or someone) with wide eyes. The Hitoshi in the screen growls and sprints towards to whatever (whoever) he saw.

He’s back to the bird’s eye view, this time it’s obvious where his past self was—as he was the only person running to the opposite direction. Zigzagging this way and that to avoid the panicking stampede. He lunges towards an injured Bakugou, one who looks like he was about to activate his quirk.

The scene changes and it’s him grabbing Bakugou’s wrist and pulling him closer. He crouches low, shifting and turning his body to catch a surprised Bakugou on his back. He grunts, adjusting his grip on Bakugou’s legs, and then he runs.

The rest of the clips are just him running while carrying a Legend of fucking Zelda cosplayer. The whole thing looks so odd and surreal when seen it in a third person perspective.

He really needs that pause button now.

Fortunately enough, All Might does it for him. “And your heroic deeds didn’t stop there,” he says, pressing a button on the remote. The video changes to another one, a minute before the test officially ended. It was him trying to make a makeshift splint for Bakugou’s ankle. It lapses to another scene, where it’s just him and Bakugou sitting on an intact park bench and waiting for Recovery Girl to arrive.

“What kind of exam for heroes would just be about defeating villains?” All Might asks. “How could we reject a person who saved someone and did the right thing? Here’s a fact that has always been true since the time I entered U.A: the exam does not only consider villain points!”

His heart beats loudly.

“Is it stupid of us, considering it seems like it was only sheer luck that gave you those points? Crazy ramblings? Lip service?” All Might questions, shrugging and shaking his head. “If that’s the case, bring it on! You have three years to prove that score wrong!”

His eyes don’t leave the projection.

“These are words coming from one of the teachers themselves,” All Might presses another button on the remote, and the screen shows a list of names. It scrolls down and down. “Low potential does not mean zero potential—and while your villain points are low…”

It stops on his name.

“Your rescue points are far from it!”

 Hitoshi Shinsou  |  Villain: 4  |  Rescue: 45

Forty-five points.

He covers his face with his trembling hands, biting his lip to keep the laugh (or sob or anything really) from escaping. His cheeks felt wet and his heart was still beating loudly, but the rhythm wasn’t filled with nervous energy like before.

He did it.

He actually did it.

As he tries to keep himself together, he hears the voice of All Might continue on—gentler this time. “Good work, my boy, this is the start of your hero academy.”

He wonders if he’ll be classmates with Kirishima and Bakugou.

Chapter Text

One of Helia’s favorite places in Toshinori’s house was his garden.

It’s nothing extravagant, nothing compared to the fancy ones she’s seen whenever she ventured out of the forest. There were no artistic cobblestone tiles or wide flat areas that consisted of neatly trimmed grass or carefully spread gravel. There were no outdoor fixtures besides the wooden chairs and round table in one side. There were no ponds with a bamboo shishi odoshi to give the occasional wooden beat.

It was far simpler than that, going to Toshinori’s garden was like a short trip to the market.

There were several herbs on wooden containers, all of them placed around a small rectangular plot of fertile soil. The only herb Helia recognized was lavender (as her siblings often grew it around the forest). The plot had vegetables planted neatly in three straight rows. At the front of each row were signposts with hand-drawn caricatures of the crop, making it easier for her to identify them. The first was a radish, the second was a carrot, and the last was a lettuce leaf.

It wasn’t small or ugly in any way, but it wasn’t large or extravagant either. If Toshinori was in hero form, this garden would dwarf in comparison—it would look too plain for the shining symbol that was All Might.

But this garden was for Toshinori in his true form, and Helia thinks it suits him well. The plants were healthy, their leaves green and lush. The ground was teeming with life, moist and soft. The herbs gave enough color so the garden wouldn’t just be a sea of green and brown, they also added a calming fragrance in the air. The tiny signposts were a cute touch.

The garden was loved and cared for, filled with Toshinori’s unique gentle energy. As if he had crooned every leaf and root with a soft and loving lullaby, giving them light and life.

‘I’m still surprised that you like gardening so much,’ she admits, peering out of Toshinori’s messy hair. The man was harvesting a few of his herbs, trimming a few stems and putting it all in a bowl. ‘Doesn’t it take a lot of time?’

“Before my injury I only had a few houseplants indoors, those peace lilies in the living room were my first one,” Toshinori replies, counting the leaves in the bowl. “After that, there was a limit to how much hero work I could do.” He cuts a few more. “That left me with a lot of free time.”

‘Three hours isn’t a whole day,’ she agrees. ‘And even the paperwork and the consulting you do with that detective friend of yours doesn’t take that long.’

“Mm.”

‘Why gardening though?’ She tugs on his hair. ‘There are other hobbies that don’t need you to move.’ He’s told her that he used to live in an apartment once, then he decided to move out—he had wanted a large enough backyard for a few more plants.

“That’s not why I moved,” he chuckles, standing up. “I wanted a house with more privacy and bigger space for my training equipment—going to the gym was… well,” he sighs. “And I needed a change, I suppose.”

He walks back inside, the bowl tucked safely under his arm.

Helia flies up, circling Toshinori’s head and then flying towards the bowl. She lands softly on the thick pile of leaves, inhaling its fresh scents.

“I need those,” Toshinori scolds, shaking the bowl a little. Helia giggles, her small body bouncing up and down for every jostle. “Get out of there, I’ll be cooking them.”

‘Cooking them?’ She repeats, looking up. ‘You’re not using it for tea?’ He usually does.

“No, these are for my new colleagues that I’ll meet tomorrow.”

‘Oh, for the teachers in U.A!’ She perks up at that, flying up. They were in the kitchen, a few ingredients were already put out. A bag of nuts, a few blocks of unsweetened chocolate, a carton of milk and eggs, and a large cup of sugar. ‘What are you making?’

“Chocolate bars, nothing really fancy,” he laughs, scratching his head. “I wanted to make a good first impression, I know my addition will be a surprise—and the media will be a nightmare after they find out my new job,” he cringes, placing the bowl on the counter with the rest of the ingredients. “Just a small gift for each of them, I hope it’ll make us closer.”

He frowns. “Will they like chocolate?” He wonders. “What if one of them doesn’t? What if one of them is allergic to nuts?” He tugs on his bangs, looking at the counter anxiously. “Should I make another thing just to be sure?”

He looks at the fairy. “What do you think, Helia?”

There are times she wonders if she’s dealing with an adult veteran hero or a young blushing maiden.  

Chapter Text

Today’s his first day of school.

“Do you have tissue?”

“Yeah,” he wonders what his classmates will be like. He already knows he and Kacchan are in the same class (the blond had commented if he had a voice quirk to accompany that tear quirk because he swore he heard him bawling that night they got their letters).

Maybe he’ll meet the interesting people Kacchan mentioned.

“And your handkerchief?”

And All Might was going to be a teacher.

“Izuku? Your handkerchief?”

He can’t wait.

“Your hanky?” His mom frets, hovering over him. “You brought one, right?”

“Yes, kaa-chan, I did,” he huffs, lifting his bag. “I’m gonna be late, so I have to leave now,” he stands up and walks towards the door. “Bye!”

“Izuku!”

The door’s halfway open when he hears his mom calling him again. He sighs and turns. “What?”

His mom is smiling at him, tears threatening to escape her eyes. “You’re really cool,” she says, clutching her chest.

He blinks, his cheeks heat up as he processes what his mom just said. He gives her a wide grin. “I’m off!”

 


 

Katsuki and his mother are having an intense stare-off, two pairs of vibrant red eyes glaring at each other. His father is sitting at his place in the dining table, drinking his coffee in a leisurely pace.

“He’s going to be late, dear,” he comments after a sip.

His wife ignores him, too focused on their hoarder of a son to be worried about trivial things like that.

“Quiver,” she demands, stretching out her hand.

Katsuki pouts.

“That shit won’t work on me, no matter how much you got my good looks,” she snorts, her hand making an insistent “give or else” gesture. “I’ve dealt with Izu-kun, give me the quiver,” she points at the side of his hip. “The bow,” she points at his hand. “And the shield,” she points at his back. “Now.”

Katsuki holds his bow protectively and backs away, she wonders how he fooled everyone into thinking he was a serious and mature boy. “What if I need it?”

“It’s school.”

“It’s hero school,” Katsuki corrects. “What if I need it for combat?”

“You can make explosions with your hands,” his father points out, placing his coffee cup down and reaching for the newspaper. “You scored the highest in the U.A entrance exams. And you said you fought killer robots in the practicals.”

In that brief moment, both parents wondered why they weren’t as worried as they should be.

“That’s only good for close and mid range combat,” Katsuki protests. “I have to cover all my bases.”

“Maybe invest on smaller projectiles,” his father suggests, turning a page. Hm, an ancient temple was discovered near Akara. Interesting. Oh, All Might closing down his agency? Was he retiring? “Doesn’t Izuku use a slingshot?” He turns another page. More rumors of seeing All Might in several cities, now they’re just making him sound like some kind of bigfoot sighting. What was the term people used? Cryptic? “How about darts? Needles? Shuriken? Kunai?”

“Where would I get that?”

“Your mother and I are still wondering where you get your shields.”

“Both of you are covering all my annoyed bases,” she snaps, she gives a pointed look to her son. “Now fork them over or else I won’t let you eat Inko’s cooking later—you know she and Izu-kun are visiting tonight.”

Katsuki gives his bow a hesitant glance, he then looks at his father for help.

His father turns another page, unfazed as his son gives him a kicked puppy look. “I love you,” he states. “But I also love Inko’s food.”

That’s a no.

Katsuki sighs, letting go of his bow, unfastening his quiver, and removing his shield. At least he could bring his ocarina. “I’ll be off.”

“And don’t start breaking any shit again!”

“I haven’t done that since I was fucking ten!”

 


 

“Hey dude!”

Hitoshi turns to find a red-headed boy waving at him, jogging towards his direction. He squints his eyes, wondering if they’ve met before. Maybe he was mistaking him for someone else.

The boy grins, his sharp teeth glinting against the sunlight. It clicks. “Kirishima?”

“Shinsou!” Kirishima laughs, stopping in front of him. “You’re in 1-A too?”

Hitoshi nods. “Just got here,” he looks at the door. “That’s pretty big,” he observes. It was twice his height.

“Probably for those who are larger than average,” Kirishima deduces, looking as well. “There was a student in my year that couldn’t fit in the doors without crouching, I’m glad U.A takes that into consideration—I wonder if they have custom tables and chairs for stuff like that too?”

“If they can afford to build robots and miniature cities, then they can afford to make school chairs,” Hitoshi says, taking a deep breath. He reaches for the handle, this was it.

He slides the door open.

And finds a green haired boy with glowing arms; holding up a table that had a tall stack of books, which had a Bakugou Katsuki tiptoeing and reaching in an opened part of the ceiling. Only his lower half was seen, the rest was up in the hole, doing does-he-want-to-know.

Hitoshi and Kirishima stare at the green haired boy.

The green haired boy stares back.

Bakugou is too busy doing he-really-doesn’t-want-to-know to join the staring match.

“It’s not what it looks like!” The boy says quickly, not sounding out of breath despite carrying a table, books, and a person for who knows how long.

“I don’t even know what it looks like,” Hitoshi replies. “Please elaborate.” He hopes they don’t.

“Quirk practice,” is the muffled reply of Bakugou, who was still doing he-still-doesn’t-want-to-know. “And treasure hunting, lot of Minish here—not surprised, heroes demand a lot of help, the school is teeming with hidden items.”

“I understood those words but not in that order,” Hitoshi states, regretting coming to school early.

It gets worse when a dark-haired boy with glasses walks by and sees them.

He really shouldn’t have come here early.

 


  

“Defacing school property is unbecoming of a hero!” The boy with glasses lectures, hands chopping the air wildly. “It’s disrespectful to the ones who worked hard to construct this room!”

“I put it back didn’t I?” Kacchan asks, pointing at the section where he had been moments ago. “Looks good as new.”

“That isn’t the point! You shouldn’t have done it in the first place!” The boy denies. “And put that chest back, that’s stealing school property!”

Kacchan looks down at the small metal box he found hidden in the ceiling. “You realize I’d have to ‘deface’ the ceiling again, right?”

The boy with glasses jerks back, his face scrunched up in agony as his mind takes that into consideration.

Almost all of the students were here, looking at the two boys like they were an intense quirk-allowed tennis match.

“I am so sorry,” Izuku sighs to nobody and everybody.

“What was a chest even doing up there?” A student wonders, scratching his blond hair in befuddlement. “How did he know it was there?”

“I don’t want to know,” the purple-haired boy who talked to him earlier says, looking more tired than he already was. “This was the guy who came to the exams in cosplay, I really don’t want to know.”

The boy with glasses seemed to have heard the last part, as he points to Kacchan dramatically. “That was you!” He accuses. “Peter Pan!”

Wrong, but okay.

“It’s Zelda,” the purple-haired boy corrects incorrectly.

That was on purpose, wasn’t it?

“It’s Link,” Izuku corrects back, exasperated.

“Is that what Present Mic meant by hero of twilight?” The red-haired boy asks.

“Wait, that was him?” Someone behind them says.

“I’m Bakugou,” Kacchan tells all of them. He gives the ranting boy an annoyed glare. “Geez, can you stop bitching for one second?” He grumbles. “And what the hell’s your name? You keep yapping and you never even introduced yourself, fucking rude.”

“Pot meet kettle,” someone mutters.

“Such language!” The boy gasps. “First destroying property, then stealing it, and now swearing! Do you truly want to be a hero?”

Kacchan shrugs. “If nobody wants it, why not take it?”

“That’s villainous thinking!”

“H-he’s not really that bad!” Izuku defends, bringing up his hands in a placating gesture. “K-Kacchan doesn’t mean any harm, he just likes exploring new places—and this is the first time we’ve been to U.A,” he struggles for something to say. “Uh, I’m Midoriya Izuku!” He introduces quickly, hoping that would change the subject. “And you?”

He thanks the gods (and goddesses) that it works.

“My apologies, I really was rude,” The boy bows. “I’m Iida Tenya, from Somei Private Academy.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Iida-kun,” Izuku smiles. It was rare for Kacchan to be this talkative. Despite his sour words, he seems to like Iida (or he finds his reactions amusing, it could be both).

“Midoriya-kun,” Iida says, looking at him intensely. “You realized there was something more to that practical exam, didn’t you?”

“Huh?” Izuku blinks.

Iida gestures wildly and looks away. “I didn’t realize it at all,” he says. “I misjudged you! To think you knew the deeper meaning of the exam!” He clenches his hands and bites his lip, he looks back at Izuku. “It’s frustrating, but you’re better than me!”

There was silence.

Izuku stares blankly at Iida.

Iida stares back.

Kacchan looks at them in amusement.

The purple-haired boy glances at all three of them. “You didn’t realize anything at all, did you?” He asks flatly.

Izuku says nothing.

“He didn’t,” Kacchan answers. “By the way, that’s Shinsou Hitoshi—he rescued me in the exams, very heroic,” he adds. Shinsou looks at him, wondering why he was giving such an odd introduction. “Kinda like what Izuku did,” he smiles sweetly, Izuku wonders why he was using his actual name. “Their scores were pretty high in the rescue portion, maybe you should discuss it with them.”

He doesn’t mention that his rescue points were high as well, rivaling Izuku’s and dominating Shinsou’s.

Both Izuku and Shinsou look at him in slowly dawning horror.

Iida turns his head so fast that everyone in the room wonders if his quirk was owl-based, Kacchan quickly goes back into his seat as the boy targets on someone else besides him. Looking like a picture perfect model student. The red-haired boy looks at him, then back at them, then hesitantly goes to his seat as well—giving both of them an apologetic look.

There are times Izuku admires Kacchan’s quick-thinking mind, this is not one of them.

 


  

They brace themselves for what Iida has to say when they are thankfully saved by an angel in the form of the last student.

“That curly hair! You’re the plain-looking one!” A voice exclaims, distracting Iida. A girl enters the class and smiles widely as she looks at Midoriya. “It’s just like what Present Mic said, I’m so glad!” She jumps in place and punches the air several times. “Not that I doubted it, you were so cool! Punching that huge robot like that!” She punches the air some more, shouting “Break!” for every punch.

Huh, that explains why he wasn’t tired after carrying all that. His quirk must be a strength quirk.

Midoriya stammers, his face turning a beet red. “I-i-it was nothing!” He exclaims back, waving his arms. “A-a-anyone would do the same thing! You helped me too! Even when you were so exhausted!”

“Of course!” She says, surprised. “I had to try didn’t I? I couldn’t just leave you!”

“I couldn’t just leave you too!”

“So everyone else but me realized the meaning of the exam?” Iida whispers, looking down at his hands.

“I don’t think that’s what happened,” someone comments.

“I’m ashamed to call myself a student of U.A!” Iida wails.

“That’s… that’s okay, man,” the same someone tries to comfort. “We’re all learning here, right?”

“That is true!”

“Is everyone going to be this energetic?” Hitoshi asks himself tiredly. “Is our homeroom teacher going to be like that too?”

“God, I wish,” an equally tired voice says below him, slicing the cacophony of voices like butter. Everyone goes silent, wondering where that came from. The voice sounded too low and gravelly to be a student. “The four of you, get back to your seats.”

Midoriya glances down and lets out a tiny squeak, pointing at the floor frantically. Hitoshi blinks, then turns and looks down—Iida and the bubbly girl follow suit.

There is a gigantic yellow caterpillar in front of the classroom’s entrance.

Hitoshi would like that pause button now.

“This is the hero course,” the caterpillar says. Upon closer inspection, they all realize that the yellow body was a sleeping bag—and the one talking was a scruffy-looking man inside it. “And if you’re all just going to play with your friends, then leave.”

The strange man wiggles and brings out a juice pack, he takes a long sip from the straw.

Hitoshi is beginning to wonder if seeing all kinds of odd things was a norm in this school.

They all back away as the man stands up, unzipping the bag and revealing himself. Unlike his bright yellow sleeping bag, the man wore a dark jumpsuit—the only thing bright on him was the long grey scarf wrapped around his neck. “Right, time is limited,” he says. “We wasted enough as it is, you kids aren’t very aware with your surroundings.”

Hitoshi blinks, could this man be their homeroom teacher? It’s around this time that homeroom should start, and he was the only adult around. Judging from his outfit and the way he appeared unnoticed (students or not, it must take skill to sneak here looking like that), he must be a pro-hero.

Why did he look so worn out though?

“I’m your homeroom teacher, Aizawa Shouta,” the man continues, verifying his thoughts. “Nice to meet you.”

Everyone murmurs in surprise, whispering to one another.

The man pulls out a blue and white tracksuit from his sleeping bag. “Put this on and meet me in the field,” he instructs. “We’re going to have an exercise,” he shakes the tracksuit some more when he sees that nobody has moved an inch. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

As Hitoshi joins his new classmates in rushing towards their lockers, he wonders why this feels ominous.

 


 

One of the things Helia doesn’t like about Toshinori is his insistence on using his hero form as much as possible.

‘Power down,’ she demands, hands on her hips. Her voice hard and unyielding, so very unlike her usual chirpy tone. ‘You don’t need your hero form to spy on Izuku’s class,’ she floats in front of him, glare never wavering. ‘In fact, that is the opposite of stealth, you big oaf!’

“But-”

Nope, she’s having none of it, even if Toshinori looks like a kicked bunny.

‘Listen!’ She zips up to his face. ‘You have three hours in that form, and another hour tops before you undo my healing. You need to use it wisely,’ she points at him. ‘Don’t forget I know your body inside out, mister. Teaching is stressful as it is, but with you holding that form while doing it? It will take more than me and blessed food to help you recover—so save your strength for something more drastic than your fretting over Izuku on his first day!’

If anyone were present in the hallways, they would have been treated to the odd sight of a tiny ball of light cowing All Might to submission.

 


 

 Hitoshi wonders if life just loves rubbing it in on how cursed his quirk was.

“A quirk assessment test?!” Everyone exclaims in disbelief.

“What about the entrance ceremony?” The bubbly girl asks. “The orientation? Why are we doing this? Shouldn’t the exams be enough?”

He’s pretty sure the man doesn’t care.

“If you’re going to be a hero, you don’t have time for such leisurely events,” their homeroom teacher says. “U.A is unique because of how unrestricted its school traditions are,” he glances at them. “And that also reflects on the teachers.”

Of course.

This was the school that used killer robots for their exams.

Of course it was like this, why did he expect anything else?

“You kids have been doing these since junior high, right?” Their teacher brings out his phone, showing an app that listed down the usual physical fitness tests given in his old school. “Ones where you weren’t allowed to use your quirks.”

Hitoshi clenches his hands, trying to make them stop shaking.

“The country still uses averages taken from students not using their quirks.”

Was this a pattern that’s going to continue? Was there some deity who hated him?

“-inshou.”

His whole life his quirk was called villainous.

(dangerous, scary, evil, stay away)

“Shin-…”

Now though.

“Shinsou.”

Now it was just completely and utterly useless.

(useless, weak, pathetic, unheroic)

Someone pats his shoulder.

“Shinsou,” Bakugou says firmly. He blinks, surrounding him were Kirishima, Midoriya, and the bubbly girl—all looking at him worriedly. “Do you need a breather? You can sit on the benches.”

“No, I just,” he sighs. “I’m fine, it’s fine.”

“You looked like you were on the verge of a p-”

“It’s fine,” he presses on.

Silence.

“It's really not,” Bakugou states after a while. “Is this about your quirk? You were uncomfortable with Kirishima’s question when we were in the bus.”

“He was?” Kirishima asks, horrified. “Dude, I’m so sorry! I know it can be a sensitive subject and—oh man, I must have sounded like an ass-!”

“It’s fine,” he insists. “It’s fine, it’s nothing… it’s just-” He takes a deep breath. Might as well get it over with, Hitoshi—rip it like a band-aid, a very sticky and large band-aid. “My quirk’s brainwashing,” he says, looking at all of them warily. “I can control people when they respond to my conversations.”

The reaction from the girl wasn’t anything new (the flinch and wariness in her eyes), but her shaking her head and pumping her fists quietly was.

(she’s trying hard not to flinch, and there’s determination smothering the fear—he’s not used to that)

He figured Bakugou would be odd, so him humming, tilting his head, and saying casually, “Ah, that’s why you said you didn’t expect to have one point, much less four.” Wasn’t surprising.

He nods.

“Mind control quirks wouldn’t be effective with robots,” Midoriya muses, not looking scared or disgusted at all. Then again, he was friends with Bakugou. “But it would be effective with living beings, and all villains are living beings—… unless one of them has an undead quirk or something. Brainwashing a villain before they can do anything would lessen casualties tremendously, and imagine stopping civilians before they could hurt themselves! Oh, oh! Imagine just telling a villain to confess and they do! Now that I think about it, the practicals don’t take many quirks into consideration, do they? The city didn’t have much organic material for someone who had a, say plant controlling quirk or an animal calling one. Robots aren’t a good real-world hero scenario—unless something like Skynet happens, which would be bad-”

“Time limit, Deku,” Bakugou chides. “Prioritize and focus.”

“Ah,” Midoriya blinks, then laughs. “Right, sorry,” he looks at him. “Are there limits to your quirk, Shinsou-kun?”

“External force on the,” not victim, don’t call them victims, he’s not a villain. “Affected person snaps them out of it. The weakest has to be like… a bump, enough to feel a little jerk.”

Midoriya purses his lips. “That’s a troublesome limit.”

Hitoshi gives a surprised laugh. Most would say it’s relieving, that there’s a blaringly obvious and easy weakness to use against his quirk.

“Bakugou,” their teacher calls out. “You’re first, step forward.”

“Why do I feel that was deliberate?” Bakugou asks himself, giving the man a raised eyebrow. He looks back at Deku. “Seems I’ll be first, so brainstorm without me.” He nods at Midoriya and pats his back.

Kirishima, Midoriya, and the bubbly girl huddle around him—like this was a secret last minute meeting for a game.

“You don’t have to,” Hitoshi hisses. “Worry about your own, this isn’t your problem.”

Kirishima hits his shoulder. “Dude, you’re our friend,” he whispers. “And friends help each other.”

“I… what?” He didn’t, they never… they only met once! Was he for real?

“Anyone who’s friends with Deku’s friends is my friend too!” The bubbly girl cheers quietly. “I’m Uraraka Ochaco, by the way!”

“What?” Hitoshi asks.

“Deku?” Midoriya repeats.

They jump as they hear a loud echoing boom in the field, they glance back to find Bakugou on the pitching circle. His arm stretched out and smoking.

“Not much time,” Kirishima says. “Look, any ideas would be great!”

Midoriya looks at all of them pensively, tapping his cheek. He surveys the field, sparing each area a short glance. He looks at Uraraka, then at Kirishima, then at his own fist.

“How much control do you have on people?” Midoriya asks. “Can you make them use their quirks?”

That was a common question that he heard, and he usually deflected it with a change of subject. If the one asking it didn't sound scared, then they would sound gleeful (almost greedy).

Midoriya asked as if it were something mundane, like cooking rice or feeding a cat.

“I don’t know,” Hitoshi admits. “I rarely use it, and when I do, it’s only for a few seconds.”

It’s not something people liked, much less encouraged.

“Try it on me,” Kirishima says.

“What? No.”

“What, yeah,” Kirishima shoots back. He looks at his face and smiles, demeanor softening. “Look, dude, I trust you—try it on me.”

It’s a little sad that this is the first time he’s heard that.

It was always questions, always assurances that he wasn’t using his quirk now, always a person nearby who would tap their friend just in case. Always wary and careful. Trust is only given to him when the prefix "dis" was added. Even the friendliest people he had would joke about them being brainwashed and not realizing it, that maybe he was tricking all of them.

(it hurt)

He didn’t blame them, he’d probably act like that too if he were in the same situation.

(would he?)

He bites his lip, looks at Kirishima, and sighs. “What’s your name?” He asks, allowing the power to flow out of his voice.

“Kirishima Ei-”

(haha, there, do you trust me now?)

(please do, I’m sorry)

The blank look doesn’t suit him. Bakugou was right, he really was a vibrant and energetic character. Get it over with, the sooner this was done, the sooner Kirishima was back to normal.

“Harden,” he orders.

Uraraka chokes.

He gives her an odd look, why would she-oh. 

Wait, no.

Midoriya coughs.

No, no, no, that's not what he meant. Stop, rewind, undo, pause.

“You arm!” He adds quickly. “Harden it with your quirk. That’s what I meant. Nothing else besides that.” Please.

He hears snickers from the other two and pointedly ignores them.

Much to his relief (and surprise), Kirishima raises his arm and hardens his skin. He lets go of his hold on him. Kirishima blinks, deactivating his quirk and giving him a thumbs up. “It works!” He laughs.

He wasn't mad? Or wary? Or anything? He's just going to act like it's normal? Just like that? 

“Give me a short rundown on how your quirks work,” Midoriya demands. “I have an idea."

Chapter Text

Katsuki tosses the ball several times.

“Use my quirk to throw,” he murmurs, taking note of the wind and getting the general idea of the ball’s weight. He eyes the circle around him. He can do anything as long as he’s within the area, is what his teacher said. It would be easy to get a high score.

He looks at his classmates, who were all waiting for him to pitch the ball. He looks at Deku, who was huddled with Kirishima, Uraraka, and Shinsou. They were discussing what they could do with Shinsou’s dilemma.

Physical tests were all about getting the highest score.

But that wasn’t the point of all this, was it?

He looks at his new homeroom teacher, deceptively weak at first glance. The tiredness wasn’t faked, but it veiled his ever observant eyes. His loose jumpsuit made him look average, normal and boring, but he moved like a skilled fighter—confident and alert with every step he took. His lackadaisical attitude gave him the air of someone who could care less about anything or anyone, but the brief glances he gave to Shinsou when he looked panicked and anxious told otherwise.

He reminds him of someone, one he knew long ago. Silent, shadowy, and swift—wearing a cold emotionless mask to hide his heart, never revealing his true intentions, no matter how noble they were.

(his memories aren’t solid, he doesn’t think he could stay sane if he remembered every single thing from every single life he has lived, but there things that have impacted his entire spirit, people too precious and important to forget)

The games were wrong in their interpretation of that man, so very wrong. He would have hated being called a princess (would have grimaced at anyone calling him with his old name). It didn’t matter whether he was garbed in the beautiful dresses he never liked or skulking around in his dark bodysuit and armor, he had always been a warrior. Powerful and brutal. Fighting dirty when he needed to, lying if he had to, pushing people to their limits if he deemed it necessary.

Their new teacher gives off that feeling; dangerous, unyielding, but trustworthy.

(the long scarf wrapped around the man’s neck doesn’t help in this impression, all he needed was red eyes and the image would be permanently stuck in his brain)

This wasn’t a test, not quite.

He puts the ball in his pocket, aims his hands on the ground, and activates his quirk. He blasts himself up in the air, as high as he could.

This was a lesson.

He gets the ball in his pocket and focuses. He was hyperaware of the crisscross stitches of the ball, the ringing in his ears have muffled—replaced by the steady beat of his heart. He sees the end of the field and mentally maps its distance. No, the ball would break if he aims past the threshold, he’ll have to choose a smaller distance. He gathers his sweat in his palms, his arm tense with restless energy.  Angle not too high, that would be a waste, take advantage of the lack of wind.

High scores didn’t matter, their teacher had already given a clue by saying that the school reflected the faculty. They were unique, not normal. Points were a plus, but it wasn’t the main goal—U.A’s exams already proved how fickle they can be with points.

He lets out a loud sharp cry as he throws, adding a powerful blast the second he releases the ball. It shoots out from his hand like a fiery missile, leaving a trail of flame and smoke. He lets himself fall, aiming his arms down and letting out a blast to soften his landing. He exhales, letting his smoking arms rest.

It takes a while before the ball finally lands.

Everyone gapes.

“First, you have to know your maximum limit,” their teacher glances at the ball and taps a few things on his phone’s screen. He turns to the class and shows the final distance. “That’s the most rational way to form your foundation as a hero.”

In large blue digital font was a number: 1500.7.

“What the hell, that score is ridiculous!” Someone sputters.

This wasn’t a test, it was a puzzle.

How you solved it determined whether you stayed or not.

 


 

“I’m gonna puke,” Midoriya declares.

“Midoriya, you are next to a girl who gets nauseous using her quirk and a guy whose quirk is useless in physical tests,” Hitoshi deadpans. “If anything, we’re the ones who should puke.”

“Who’s puking?” Bakugou asks, walking back to them after his explosive pitch.

“Nobody,” Hitoshi glances at Midoriya, who was staring at his shoes and mumbling gibberish non-stop. “Possibly somebody,” he takes back. “Why’s he so nervous? His quirk is strength augmentation, right? He should be fine.”

The mumbling gets louder, sounding more like an ominous curse from a deranged spirit than the nervous chatter of a teenager.

“He’s not very good in controlling it,” Bakugou says. “He has someone teaching him, but it’s,” he raises his hand and gives a so-so gesture. “Doesn’t suck, but doesn’t rock either—hence the quirk practicing you saw.”

Uraraka blinks. “What quirk practicing?”

“What do you mean he doesn’t rock?” Kirishima asks.

“And why is he like that?” Hitoshi jerks his thumb at the muttering mess that was Midoriya. “He was fine spewing one idea after another for me, but now he thinks he can’t do it?”

“He carries heavy things using his quirk and holds it for as long as possible,” he tells Uraraka. “He hurts himself using his quirk,” he tells Kirishima. “He tends to think of the worst possible scenarios when it comes to him,” he tells Hitoshi. “His teacher calls it going to his nonsense kingdom.”

Hitoshi raises an eyebrow. “As opposed to what he did awhile ago?”

“Oh, that’s different, that’s Deku going to his happy kingdom.”

“Can someone pull him back?” Kirishima edging away from the gloomy aura. “Like now?”

 


 

The first test is the 50 meter sprint. Uraraka and Kirishima are called first. Uraraka lightens her clothes and shoes to increase her speed, while Kirishima does nothing. Only stretching a bit and crouching down in starting position.

He still outran her.

“You should really start working out,” Bakugou comments, looking at the next two people. A girl with an invisibility quirk and the blond boy who wondered why there was a chest hidden in the ceiling of their classroom, they crouch in position. “And your quirk, I heard from Deku that you rarely use it. If you’d have practiced with your body and quirk, you wouldn’t be in this much shit in the first place.”

“You’re just a ball of sunshine, aren’t you, princess?” Hitoshi glares.

“As harsh as he was, I have to agree with Aizawa-sensei,” Bakugou admits. “Good intentions are important for a hero—but it means fuck all if you’re not skilled,” he tilts his head towards the invisible girl running. “Look at her, she’s practically quirkless, but it’s not a problem. She’s faster than blondie.”

That she was, easily outrunning him by a few seconds.

“Still,” Midoriya glances at Hitoshi then at Bakugou. “Getting expelled for something like this… I think that’s too much,” it could have been him, if he didn’t have help from other people.

“There are worse things.”

“Like what?” Hitoshi snorts.

He gives them an undecipherable look, something haunted and old. “Death,” he answers simply. “You two saved me, imagine if you didn’t,” he looks at Midoriya. “Because you weren’t used to strategizing.” He looks at Hitoshi. “Or because you were too slow to reach me, or too weak to carry me.”

They say nothing, waiting for Uraraka and Kirishima to come back.

“Bakugou and Midoriya, you’re up next,” their teacher says.

Bakugou sighs. “I’m not trying to be an ass,” he looks frustrated, trying to find the best way to explain this. “It’s just—look, luck is something you can take advantage of, but those moments are so fucking rare, it’s not something you want to rely on—you can’t,” He groans. “You wanna be less of a noodle-y wimp, right? I know a place, a dojo where I used to practice sword fighting—I think it’d be perfect for practicing your quirk too.”

Hitoshi blinks.

“Think about it,” Bakugou says. “I can give you the address later.”

He leaves.

Midoriya stays a bit, giving Hitoshi a worried glance. “Kacchan means well,” he tells him. “He’s just not very good at saying what he wants.”

 “I didn’t know he could fight with a sword,” Hitoshi says. “He didn’t bring one in the exam.”

“Oh, that’s because it’s illegal—a sword’s a long bladed weapon, after all,” Midoriya explains. “He tried wooden swords but they usually shattered after a few swings, and his mom didn’t want him looking like a delinquent, carrying a melee weapon all the time.”

He finds it worrying that he’s not surprised by that.

 


 

Izuku gulps and crouches to starting position.

“Focus,” he murmurs. “Imagine heating something in the microwave and trying not to burn it.”

He remembered that day.

He had met All Might a day after he got his letter. The hero had congratulated him, assuring him that he was not one of the judges. Helia had given him a gentle headbutt, telling him he looked very cool in the videos—and that All Might looked ready to have an ulcer when you brought out your hookshots, it was hilarious.

“I lost them in the exams,” he had bemoaned. “They were so useful too.”

‘You can ask the support department to make you some!’ Helia had said, her voice like tiny bells in his mind. ‘You started with your hero outfit designs, right?’

“I did, Kacchan’s too since—ack, my quirk!” He had yelped. “I need to attach my quirk records with the designs! What do I send to the school? I’m registered as quirkless!”

He had panicked some more as he realized he hadn’t told his mom anything about his new quirk either.

“You can update your records every year,” All Might had assured him. “The forms can be printed online, I can help you fill them up—I’d forgotten about that, sorry.”

‘That seems like an important thing to forget, Toshi,’ Helia had rebuked, frowning. ‘You should try to think about these things for Izuku.’

Izuku remembered blinking and staring at his idol in shock. “Your name is Toshi?”

Silence.

‘It’s Toshinori, Yagi Toshinori,’ Helia had corrected, she then turned to All Might and gave him a sweet smile. ‘So what other things have you forgotten to think about for your student? Besides helping him register the quirk you gave him? Or giving your own name despite teaching him for almost a year?’ She looked and sounded so happy and innocent. ‘Did you forget his quirk training too?’

More silence.

All Might fiddled with his bangs.

‘Toshi, I was just joking—did you really forget to think about Izuku’s training?’

Needless to say, Helia had proven to be a tiny glowing ball of terror and fear when she wanted to be.

“Channel the energy, just do the same thing you do in spars,” he says, staring determinedly at the finish line. They had gone back to their usual training schedule under the angry insistence of the fairy (‘Do you know what a disaster it would be to leave him that untrained!’ She had looked ready to explode. ‘This would have been unacceptable with my family!’). With the difference that the training focused more on fighting and quirk control, rather than bodybuilding.

All Might was more of a learn-as-you-do kind of teacher, it didn’t help that he had controlled One for All instinctively. Metaphors on eggs and microwaves could only get him that far. All Might and Helia had discussed endlessly on what to do, and when Kacchan appeared (with his usual bottle of milk to deliver), he had given them suggestions as well.

He could augment parts of his body without harming it, though it was incredibly weak compared to All Might’s. And if he lost control and put too much power, he’d injure himself again (he was guilty that Helia had to heal him so much). It took a lot of focus and it made him less fluid in moving because of the mental effort it took to keep that control, which was why All Might had started making him hold the energy on his arms or legs during spars, and why Kacchan had started making him do heavy lifting with his quirk, and why Helia had insisted on doing meditative exercises every day. They were hoping practice made perfect.

It was overwhelming, the amount of support he had.

(he wants Shinsou to have something like that too)

“Okay, running, I can do this,” he narrows his eyes as the robot on the finish line starts counting down. His legs begin to glow. He remembers how Iida used his quirk, using the engines on his legs to give him a speed boost. He could do something like that, strengthen his legs and letting out bursts of energy.

“GO!” The robot squeaks.

Both he and Kacchan dash. Kacchan puts his hands back and creates one explosion after another, propelling himself quickly to the finish line. Izuku’s legs sprint faster than he’s ever done, there was a bit of pain, but nothing he couldn’t handle—nothing bad enough for an immediate healing anyways.

He pumps more energy.

He passes by Kacchan easily, running past the finish line in a few seconds.

And the robot.

And his teacher.

And the track in general.

He pumped too much energy.

He yelps, arms flailing as he tries to stop. He miscalculated how fast he was going and slowed down too late, he’s still not stopping, he closes his eyes and braces himself for impact on the ground.

Several strips of hard cloth wrap around his arms and torso tightly and pull him back before he hits the ground. The tug reminds him of his hookshots, and in that moment he bemoans their loss again. He finds himself held by strong muscular arms. He blinks, looks up, and sees his teacher’s tired (and worried) face. He’s put down, and he takes the chance to observe his teacher some more.

His eyes were glowing red and his hair was standing up, swaying to and fro like he was submerged in water. His scarf was unraveled, floating around him lazily, revealing a pair of yellow goggles hidden around the man’s neck.

He’s seen those goggles before.

“You’re Eraserhead!” He blurts out, eyes wide. That’s who their teacher was? The underground hero who could erase other people’s quirks with just one look? They were going to be taught by him? They were going to have homeroom with him? Oh, the floating scarf and hair! Was that a secondary quirk? Did that activate when he used his erasure? Did he use that quirk to control the scarf and grab him? A secondary quirk that had so much power was rare! Was it a mild telekinesis one like his mother’s? It looked like it.

Everyone takes a moment to witness the sparkling freckled glory that was an excited Izuku.

“And there’s the happy kingdom,” Kacchan comments, lips twitching upward.

 


 

Both Toshinori and Helia breath a sigh of relief as they see Midoriya getting pulled back.

“We really need to work on that,” he mutters, scratching his head. Maybe he could do simulations that involved running, it would be good for the rest of the class too. “I don’t want him slamming himself on random things because he went too fast.”

‘That Eraserhead was pretty cool,’ Helia comments. ‘He reacted really quick, as expected from a pro-hero.’

He lets out a noise of agreement. “He’s good in what he does, teaching and hero work,” he says. “I wish we could get along. While I think he’s too harsh on his students, I can understand why he does it.” He remembers the first conversation he had with Midoriya, how he explained the dangers of hero work. This profession demanded a lot of skill and grit, and would punish you severely if you couldn’t keep up.  

‘I don’t know, I think you’re getting there,’ Helia pats his cheek. ‘He accepted your gift, right? That’s progress.’

“Hm,” he tugs on his bangs again. He’s pretty sure the man accepted the gift out of pity, he had offered the chocolate while in his true form (Helia can be incredibly snippy when it comes to him being in hero form when there was nobody in need of saving). Thin, gaunt, and sickly. Drowning in clothes far too big for him, all while coughing from time to time—he must have been a sight. Pathetic and weak.

Helia pats his cheek again. ‘Hey, no going to nonsense kingdom,’ she scolds. ‘Practice what you teach.’

"It's preach," he mumbles.

'Same difference, start practicing.'

 


 

“This is what I meant by knowing your limits,” their teachers says, deactivating his quirk. His hair flops down and the scarf wraps around his neck gently. “Not just with your physical and quirk limits, but also everything else. Creativity, strategy, skill,” he gives Midoriya a pointed look. “Control.”

“S-sorry,” Midoriya scratches his head. “I-I’ve only used it for punching and kicking, not really for running.”

Their teacher sighs. “Now you know, try better next time. I don’t want to use my quirk more than necessary,” he looks at the crowd and points. “Shinsou and Todoroki, you’re next.”

Hitoshi stiffens.

“You can do it, man!” Kirishima slaps his back. “Just as we planned, we’ll be right behind you!”

He looks at them, then at their teacher who was waiting for him, then at his classmate who had the strangest hair color he’s seen. “Do I have to say that out loud?” He asks, almost whining. “Can’t I just say it in a relatively normal volume? Does it have to be shouting?”

“Yes,” Midoriya replies firmly.

“Why?”

“Because it’s manly!” Kirishima whoops.

“Because it’s cheerful!” Uraraka exclaims.

“Because it’s hilarious,” Bakugou admits.

“Because we have to show that you’re using your quirk and not cheating,” Midoriya says, giving all three an exasperated look. “If sensei can see that you’re using it and we’re not just helping you, then it should be fine.”

“Should be fine, he says,” Hitoshi mumbles.

“I mean,” Midoriya shrugs. “He let a girl use a bicycle for the sprint, so it’s probably fair game as long as it’s your own quirk?”

“Shinsou,” their teacher calls again, sounding impatient.

“If my classmates won’t hate me, then they’ll laugh at me,” he grumbles. “Might as well get over it.”

Bakugou pushes him. “Stop bitching and do it.”

“Shut it, princess.”

He walks to the starting line and stops before it, he turns to his—friends, should he call them that?—and sighs. Really, why did they pick that phrase for this? Why couldn’t it be something normal like asking their names or something? The color of the sky? The name of their school?

“Todoroki, right? Don’t say anything,” he tells the boy beside him. “I’ll be activating my quirk and I don’t want you affected.”

Todoroki nods.

Deep breath. Let the power flow, and shout it quickly before the regret hits you full force. “PLUS!”

His classmates blink, their teacher looks like he knows where this is going and is torn between amused or done with it all.

“ULTRA!” His friends—and yes, he’s pretty sure people who are willing (and very enthusiastic) to be brainwashed by you deserve to be called friends—finish loudly, all of them punctuating that word with a jump and a punch in the air. He feels the bonds snap into place. They all stand still, staring into space blankly.

His classmates start to murmur in confusion, he ignores them.

“Uraraka, make me lighter,” he orders, the girl walks sedately and taps his tracksuit. “Kirishima, go to the other end and wait to catch me,” the red-haired boy does that. “Midoriya, you’re going to throw me to the finish line when the robot says go—use only two percent,” that’s what Midoriya said, any more and it would be risky. The boy easily lifts him up. “Bakugou,” he pinches the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know why you answered, you’re not part of this.”

He swears he sees the blond shrug.

“Sensei, is that allowed?” A boy with a large tail asks, looking at the setup in disbelief. “He’s getting help from others!”

“He’s using his quirk to utilize their quirks,” their teacher says. “I’ll allow it—now go to the starting line, you’ve had your show.”

He tells Midoriya to step on the starting line.

“A mind control quirk,” Todoroki comments, he steps on the starting line as well. “That’s useful.”

The robot starts its countdown.

“Most people I meet don’t think that,” he says. He wonders if this class will be filled with odd characters, the boy didn’t look fazed at all.

Todoroki crouches down, the air around him drops in temperature. Ice begins to form in his hand and foot. “The people you’ve met never had someone they wished would go away with just an order.”

He blinks.

“GO!” The robot squeaks.

He doesn’t have time to wonder what that meant, as he’s being thrown hard and fast the moment the robot gave its signal. He lands on Kirishima’s chest with a grunt, the force of Midoriya’s throw more than enough to cancel the brainwashing. Kirishima stumbles and lands on his back with a wheeze.

“Midoriya throws hard,” Kirishima gasps, cancelling his quirk. “The heck, and that’s what he calls two percent?”

“Ow, that hurt,” he states, getting up and rubbing his shoulder. He cancels his quirk as well, Midoriya and Uraraka blink. “I think I need ice, because ow.”

Todoroki gives him a chunk of ice.

“Portable ice maker,” he takes it. “That’s useful,” he grins.

 


 

It’s surprisingly not bad after that. While most were shocked with his quirk, and some are a bit sour that his extra help wasn’t considered as cheating, they don’t really react as he expected. The worst he gets is a similar to Uraraka’s reaction, scared but pushing it away.

The tests continue.

With the grip strength test, he made Midoriya hold both their dynamometers and orders him to grip them. Both handles are crushed and shatter into pieces in less than a second.

They bow and apologize profusely to their teacher.

“I forgot to tell him what percent to use,” he says.

“I really have only used my quirk for punching and kicking,” Midoriya reiterates sheepishly.

Their teacher sighs and taps something on his phone. “I’ll put the highest force the meters could handle as your scores, place the broken pieces over there and wait until everyone’s done.”

“Yes, sensei!” They both chime. They walk back to the group. Kirishima gives them a thumbs up while Uraraka waves at them. There were others who were done as well and witnessed the two of them destroying the meters.

“Your quirks are too OP,” the blond from this morning whines, he slumps to the floor as he sees a girl create a clamp for the meter and a boy with six arms display an impressive amount of strength in one grip. “My quirk is useless in these tests unless it’s built around, I dunno, Pikachu.”

Uraraka gives him and Kirishima an unreadable look, she opens her mouth.

He glares. “Don’t.”

She closes her mouth.

 


 

For the standing long jumps, he gets thrown by Midoriya again. This time it’s Bakugou who catches him.

“Deku, we really need to work on your control,” Bakugou wheezes, the brainwashing cancelled the moment he hit his stomach. “Because fucking ow.”

“I second that,” he groans.

“I’m so sorry!” Midoriya cries, looking unbearably sad and guilty.

 


 

The repeated side steps were done normally, much to the disappointment of all his classmates. Midoriya isn’t confident with controlling his quirk after that sprint, especially if he was brainwashed. Side steps were less simple than running and throwing, he didn’t want to risk hurting him.

“Why are you all bummed out about it?” He snaps at his classmates, the pink girl had the gall to pout at him. “What am I supposed to do, make two walls of rubber and bounce against them endlessly?”

“Your part is always fun to watch,” the pink girl pouts some more. “I thought I’d see something cool.”

Everyone nods, unashamed at their admission.

It’s official, his class is odd.

 


 

For the ball throw he picks Uraraka, he tells her to lighten the ball on his hand. He tosses it once she taps it. The ball goes up, and up, and up.

And up.

And up.

And up.

Everyone looks up too.

Still going up.

Not coming down.

He cancels his quirk while staring up in the sky, the ball nothing but a tiny black speck.

At this point, their teacher decides to give both of them the score of infinity.

 


 

Nobody can beat Uraraka’s (and his) score, but they can outshine them in other ways. And by they, it’s Bakugou and Midoriya.

Midoriya impresses everyone with the sheer raw force of his throw, one so powerful that a huge gust of wind follows. He gets 1800.6 meters, the third highest in the throw.

“I only know how to use my quirk for punching and kicking so,” Midoriya looks away from his classmates’ stares, pink dusting his cheeks. He brings up his hand and shows his bruised pointer finger. “I made do.”

“You punched the ball with your finger,” he says blankly, staring at said finger. “While screaming ‘Smash!’ in the top of your lungs.”

Midoriya nods, getting redder by the second.

“Dude,” Kirishima whispers, eyes wide. “That’s so manly.”

Uraraka nods fervently.

“Manly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind,” he sighs. “But sure.”

 


 

For the sit-ups test, he orders Kirishima to guide him up and down.

“He’s not even using their quirks anymore,” another boy complains, one with odd protrusions on his elbows. “Is that allowed?”

“He’s still using his quirk though,” a girl croaks, tilting her head. “So technically, he’s not cheating.”

“You really need to work out,” Bakugou comments from where he was sitting, not letting go of his feet. “Seriously, how fucking wimpy are you?”

“Look, I’ll go check out that dojo after class,” Shinsou huffs. “Just give me the address later, will that make you shut up about it?”

“When you can push a car with no wheels on the sand by yourself in ten months, with a heavy man sitting on it,” was the prompt reply. “Then I will consider shutting the fuck up about your wimpy ass body.”

He gapes. “Give me something reasonable.”

“Deku did it in ten months.”

“You and Midoriya are many things,” he deadpans. “Reasonable is not one of them.”

 


 

He does the same for the seated toe-touch, ordering Kirishima to help him stretch as far as possible.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow,” he repeats as he clutches the handlebar, Kirishima pushing him as low as possible. His legs were on fire. “Ow, ow, okay, can I let go now?”

“Hm,” their teacher gives him a considering look, taking his time to drawl out the answer. “No.”

“Sensei, this is abuse.”

“Stretching is good for the body.”

 


 

He’s not sure if he can survive another throw from Midoriya for the long distance run, especially with a finish line that far away. So he orders Midoriya to run while carrying him in piggyback. It is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, and their teacher has to use his quirk to slow Midoriya down and rein them in with his scarf for the second time.

“I told you not to make me use my quirk so much,” the man grunts, unraveling them from his scarf and giving both of them an annoyed glare. “It’s a literal pain to use, I have dry eyes.”

Midoriya pauses in his verbal apology vomit to process that statement.

“That is such a waste,” he declares, blinking slowly. “Since your quirk is amazing.”

Everyone nods.

 


 

The tests were over, now all that was left was to see the results.

“Your overall score is just a total of all your tests,” their teacher explains. “It’s a waste of time to say your scores one by one, so I’ll show you the results all at once. Here are your rankings.” He taps on something on his phone and a holographic screen appears in front of him.

On the screen was a list of names.

Midoriya gets fourth place and Bakugou gets fifth. Not surprising, as Midoriya’s methods were always either get a high score by showing his impressive quirk or get a ridiculously high score by losing control and forcing their teacher to fix the mess.

Bakugou was a monster in general.

He looks down, Kirishima got ninth place while Uraraka got eleventh. And him, where did he rank? He looks further down the list, trying to find his name. He feels a hand on his chin and blinks as it pushes him to look up.

“You’re no better than Deku when it comes to thinking of the worst possible scenario,” Bakugou laughs. “Your name’s up there, idiot.”

He looks at the start of the list again and widens his eyes. Above Midoriya’s name was his. He was third place.

“What?” He asks himself. “Why?”

“Infinity on the ball throw, highest on the grip strength, impressive long jump, and while not the fastest in the run and sprint—it’s still part of the top list,” Bakugou ticks off. “Not to mention your blatant hacks on sit-ups and seated toe-touch.”

He makes very reasonable points, it doesn’t make his result any more believable.

“No!” A high cry of despair rings loudly.

They turn to see who shouted and find the invisible girl… looking at the results in horror, is what they assume.

“No, no, no,” she whispers, the sleeves of her uniform indicate that she was wringing her hands. “I’m last!”

Everyone winces, looking away as the girl sounds like she was close to crying. Midoriya and Uraraka step forward, both looking like they want to comfort her. Another girl beside her pats her back.

Their teacher turns off the screen, looking at all of them.

“By the way,” he says, expression blank. “I was lying about the expulsion.”

The silence was so thick that a pin dropping would have been the loudest sound right now.

Their teacher grins, his expression filled with nothing but shit-eating glee, it was terrifying with his bloodshot tired eyes. “It was a logical ruse to draw out the upper limits of your quirks.” His tone sadistically unrepentant.

More silence.

And then cries of shock and disbelief beat the silence up and punt it away as the whole class takes that all in. The invisible girl in particular was frozen in place.

“Of course it was a lie,” a girl says. “It should have been obvious if you thought it through.”

Many of them stared at her.

“They didn’t think this through,” Hitoshi translates.

The invisible girl drops to the ground and lets out a huge sob of relief.

“Man, that was a little nerve-wracking,” the boy with the odd elbows sighs. “I don’t think I can handle another thing like that so soon.”

“I’ll take up the challenge anytime!” Kirishima declares, fist pumping. “And also—Shinsou! Look at that, you’re amazing!” He faces his friend and grins. “Third place, dude! That’s manly!”

He blinks. “Ah, it wasn’t really—I mean,” he huffs, shaking his head. “Are you listening to yourself right now? I wouldn’t have done half the things I did if it weren’t for you guys.”

“Aw, dude,” Kirishima looks like he’s on the verge of hugging him.

Uraraka has no verge, the barrier is non-existent—probably floating away in the same void the unfortunate ball she threw was. She spreads her arms and tackles Hitoshi with glee. Giggling as Kirishima joins her, not to be undone on who could be the most positive.

He doesn’t know how to deal with it, he looks at Midoriya for help, who just shrugs at him helplessly.

Bakugou is no use either, he’s too busy staring at the retreating back of their teacher to notice their shenanigans.

“A logical ruse, huh?” He murmurs, looking at the man. He lets out a soft laugh and shakes his head. “I call bullshit.”

He was so similar to that man, from his trickster mind right down to his hidden caring heart.

(and yes, it didn’t help that he has red eyes)

 


 

“I didn’t peg you for a liar, Aizawa-kun,” a voice comments, the tone playful and amused.

Shouta turns to see All Might in his smaller form, looking at him with a wide grin. He chuckles, hands on his hips and aura as energetic and cheery as he would be in his other form—minus all the bombastic pomp he often did. It’s that last fact that doesn’t make Shouta want to turn his nose away and leave as soon as possible. He’s not a stranger to people who like to put on a show, not a stranger to optimism and high energy—but All Might had seemed like an idealistic mask, like he was trying too hard to be something else. That always rubbed him the wrong way despite his respect for the man.

The fact that he was less grating and obnoxious in this form was a small point in his favor.

 Above his head was his strange companion, Helia. Her light wasn’t as bright on a clear sunny day like this—but she still had a pale shimmering glow on her skin.

“All Might-san, Helia-san,” he greets. “Both of you were watching?” He raises an eyebrow. “You have too much time on your hands.”

Helia shrugs. ‘We’re on break,’ she says, projecting her thoughts to him. ‘We were curious about your class.’

“A logical ruse?” All Might asks, blue eyes twinkling. “You may have fooled them, but I saw your records—you punished a whole class last year with expulsion,” he brings his arms down. “You don’t hesitate to expel someone you deem as zero potential,” he shakes his head. “For you to say that it was just a ruse—what changed?”

Shouta says nothing.

All Might looks at him, expression serious, the stare intimidating now that the man wasn’t smiling. The shadows in his eyes made the blue irises sharp and electric, giving it an ethereal light. His tall stature and sharp face made him unnerving; if he stood straighter, with the same confidence he had in his other form (and if he could invest on clothes that actually fit), he could perhaps look less like a pitiful hobo and more like an intimidating noble. Like the cold and prim depictions of magical beings in humanoid form in works of art.

Helia at his side didn’t help the otherworldly aura that All Might had. A tall thin man with glowing eyes and a fairy as his companion? It sounded like the start of an old fairytale.

“There were times that you wanted to use your quirk, but you didn’t,” All Might muses, tilting his head. “You held back, the only times you used your erasure was when young Midoriya was about to hurt himself.”

He stares. “I didn’t think I was obvious.”

“You weren’t, I just know where to look,” All Might gives a lopsided smile. “It comes with experience.”

Right, the man wasn’t just a pro-hero, he was the number one pro-hero. He scolds himself for giving into the assumption that the man was as clueless and carefree as he made himself to be. He had more than just brute strength and charisma.

“Was it because of young Shinsou?” All Might inquires. “You were one of the people who voted yes to accepting him in the hero course.”

He narrows his eyes. “If you’re going to lecture me about favoritism then shove it,” he says tersely. “I already heard enough from the rest of the faculty.” He can imagine the new brand of teasing he’ll get once they find out about how he didn’t expel a single student in his new class.

“I wasn’t going to,” All Might raises his hands, eyes wide. “I think I’d be the last person who should scold you about favoritism,” he laughs, quiet and gentle—nothing like the boisterous laughter he often heard in TV. “I was just curious, that’s all. You have a very strict view of things, so this much leeway is interesting.”

“You mean it fits your optimistic view of anyone can be a hero,” he snorts.

All Might winces. “I suppose that’s true,” he admits, tugging his bangs. “Maybe I focus too much on the good, I do believe anyone can be a hero if they have the heart.”

“Heart doesn’t save you from danger.”

“But why be a hero if you don’t have the heart?” He asks softly. “Skill and heart go hand-in-hand, Aizawa-kun. If they lack skill, then they can get killed,” he touches his side briefly. “But if they lack heart, then they’re nothing but a fierce deity—powerful and effective, but disconnected to the people unless they give them prayers. Controlled destruction at best, a bonus to have and nothing more, that’s not something people need.”

Shouta doesn’t answer, he thinks of the number two hero, the cold—almost cruel—way he finishes his work, and understands what All Might is trying to say.

Still.

“His potential isn’t zero, that’s all,” he walks away. “If he has no drive in increasing that potential, then he has no heart as well—and I will cut down anyone who doesn’t meet my expectations,” he stops. “It’s better to nip a dream in the bud than to let it grow, wither, die, and rot midway.” Especially with their line of work.

He continues walking, ignoring the prickly feeling of those eyes staring at him.

Chapter Text

“I’ll be working here starting today!” All Might says cheerfully. Holding out a box wrapped in bright, almost neon, yellow paper. It was adorned with a rosy pink bow (the only thing that was relatively muted in color) and tacked with a small card that has his name inked in neat calligraphy. “This is a token of goodwill! I hope we can become close, Aizawa-kun!”

He stares at the box, taking in the clear strokes on the characters of his name. Black ink, possibly written with a brush pen (or any writing implement with a soft tip), carefully written. There weren’t any smudges or blots. It was neat, almost artistic. The man had good handwriting when it wasn’t hastily scribbled autographs, the more you knew.

He glances up at All Might, whose smile was beginning to waver the longer he stood there.

He wants to refuse, to turn his head and get back to finishing his lesson plans. He’s not interested in tokens of whatever, he has better things to do. Besides, what was the point? He doesn’t think he’ll stay here for long, so it makes little sense to waste his time and energy in interacting with the man more than necessary.

He’s sure All Might won’t be a teacher permanently. Maybe he’ll stay to complete one school year, but no more than that. Being good at something did not mean being good at teaching it. He may be the number one hero, may have more experience than all of the faculty combined, but it did not mean he was qualified for teaching. That was a whole other profession.

He respects the man for what he’s done as a hero, but he’s doubtful of his abilities to teach.

All Might looks jittery now, his fingers twitch as he holds the box. He suspects that the blond man wants to fiddle with his hair. He always does that when he’s uncomfortable. It’s quaint how the man shows his nervousness—and any other emotion beyond happiness and laughter—so easily here. Is it because he’s in this form? Is it because this place is more private? Or is it because he’s not around civilians?

He doesn’t think he’ll stay for long, so why bother wondering?

“I don’t want it,” is in the tip of his tongue. Curt, cutting, and cold. He’s grown out of his fanboy phase a long time ago, a gift from All Might would be better off with any of the other teachers.

But he sees the earnestness in those eyes, its shine rivaling the glow of his curious companion (he wonders what kind of quirk Helia has, she may even have multiple ones). His smile may be smaller now, tinged with uncertainty and the always present sickly exhaustion, but it was still filled with a kind of enthusiasm that was similar to another blond he knew. Loud and sincere, energetic and expressive, too bright and bubbly for his taste (usually).

Idly, he thinks this would have been easier if All Might was bulked up. His obnoxious aura would have made him go no on the spot, his overly buff body would have smashed any comparisons away. The similarities would have stopped on the hair only.

(it’s not the same shade, not even the same style—still)

“I don’t like this kind of thing,” he sighs, begrudgingly taking the gift. He pretends he doesn’t see the man perk up and his tiny companion do a celebratory somersault. “If you want to be closer, use actions. Even words. You do it easily as a hero,” he snorts. “I’m not interested in frivolous gifts.”

He tucks the box under his arm and leaves, he’ll open it later. At home maybe.

 


 

Later, it’s Hizashi who finds the yellow gift tossed carelessly on their couch. He grabs it and tells him to open it so they can compare, showing him his own box—his was wrapped in bright green (seriously, was the man allergic to darker shades?) and had the same pink ribbon. He lets Hizashi rip open the paper in glee.

It's chocolate bars, homemade by the looks of it. Hizashi’s smelled faintly of mint, while his smelled like lavender. All Might bakes, who knew.

It wasn’t bad, he pocketed a few before he left to do his night job.

It was a pretty good night by his standards. He had nibbled on a few bars when he felt the faint pangs of hunger. He later felt his sleepiness and exhaustion fade away (he wonders how much sugar was in it). The straining pain in his eyes wasn’t as prominent as usual too, that was a plus, he didn’t have the strong urge to use his eye drops the whole night.

Chapter Text

Much to Uraraka’s surprise, there is an entrance ceremony. One that’s scheduled after lunch in order to accommodate Aizawa’s impromptu tests.

“The fact that the school has to adjust around sensei’s schedule,” Kirishima looks at the teachers. All of them were seated on the chairs arranged on stage and were listening to the principal’s speech. With the exception of their homeroom teacher, who was resting his head on Present Mic’s shoulder and napping. “Does he do this every year?”

He doesn’t get an answer, his classmates busy doing other things.

Midoriya seems intent on vibrating a hole from all the shaking he was doing, whispering fact upon fact for every pro-hero he saw in the faculty. Hitoshi keeps nodding his head, eyes half-lidded, he glances at Aizawa and has a look that says he’s down with following their teacher’s example. Bakugou is scanning the area that makes Kirishima wonder if this is how he starts climbing up ceilings and getting random chests. Uraraka looks mildly curious and fascinated (the most normal expression in the group).

He glances at the back. Iida looks like he’s tempted to lecture their teacher at his blatant disrespect for falling asleep, hands twitching and mouth curved to a frown. He’s only a little placated when someone comments that it could be worse, he could have brought his sleeping bag on stage.

Though as time passes, they can’t say they blame him for sleeping.

The ceremony takes the rest of the day because of a speech. Just one speech, by one person. This is the time where the new students discover that the principal is incredibly long-winded. Cute as he was, the novelty wore off the more he kept vomiting word after word.

It’s a relief when the ceremony finally ends. The students rush out, excited to pack up and leave.

Hitoshi joins with Midoriya, Bakugou, and Kirishima as they walk outside.

“It’s finally done,” he yawns, shifting his bag to one side. He rubs his eyes, trying to will himself to have some energy. The nap he had during the ceremony wasn’t enough to remove the exhaustion he gained from Recovery Girl’s healing. He and Midoriya were given a pass to go to the clinic after their teacher’s test, Midoriya for his finger and him for his everything.

Getting thrown around had hurt.

Midoriya frowns. “You’re still tired?” He asks. “You didn’t eat the chocolate Recovery Girl gave you?”

“It’s too cute to eat,” he answers, bringing out the cat-shaped chocolate. Its happy face and whiskers were drawn with white frosting. “And chocolate’s only going to give me a slight sugar boost.”

Bakugou plucks the chocolate from his hands and turns it from side to side. “Not if it has healing properties,” he comments, tilting his head. “Hearty... enduring... mighty... and tough?” He raises his eyebrows. “Where’d she get this?”

“It was a gift, I think,” Midoriya answers. “There was a yellow box filled with more of that on her desk, I saw a card that said ‘You can share these to your patients if you want to!’,” he scratches his head. “It could be from All Might? The handwriting looked similar.”

“I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re that big of a fanboy to recognize the man’s handwriting on sight,” Hitoshi takes back the chocolate. “And ask Bakugou where this dojo he mentioned is.”

“I’m not that bad!” Midoriya sputters.

“You scream ‘Smash’ when punching things,” Hitoshi refutes.

“It helps me focus!”

“Does your All Might phone case and ringtone help you focus too?”

“A phone call is here, a phone call is here,” Bakugou intones, miming unlocking a phone and putting it near his ear.

Kirishima laughs and pats Midoriya’s back, who is stammering and flailing uselessly. “Aw, lay off, there’s nothing wrong with idolizing a great hero!”

Midoriya’s face turns the same shade as Kirishima’s hair. “A-anyways, what dojo is he talking about, Kacchan?”

Bakugou gives him an amused look. “It’s Kururugi Dojo,” he replies.

“Oh!” Midoriya perks up. “That’s a great idea!” He looks at Hitoshi. “Kururugi-sensei’s quirk isn’t similar to yours, but it still has the mind control aspect—sort of—and I bet he’s met lots of people who have mind manipulating quirks, he can probably give you tips! Plus he’s really good in teaching too!”

Hitoshi raises his eyebrows. “You know how to use a sword?”

“Just basics, I don’t really like weapons,” Midoriya shrugs. “Kacchan tried to find one for me, but nothing appealed to me besides my slingshot.”

There are many things that Hitoshi would like to ask, so many things, the first being what weapons were thrown at Midoriya and how did Bakugou even get them. But he forgets about it when someone pats his shoulder. He stops and turns, everyone else stops too.

“Ah,” he blinks. “Iida Tenya, right?”

Iida nods. “Are all your injuries healed?” He asks. “Shinsou-kun? Midoriya-kun?”

Both of them nod.

“Recovery Girl healed us,” Midoriya shows his finger, free of any bruise.

“I’m sleepy though,” Hitoshi yawns. “I might take a quick nap when I get home.”

“You should eat your chocolate, Shinsou-kun,” Midoriya says, frowning as Hitoshi yawns again. “It will help. You had more scratches and bruises than me, right? You’re probably exhausted.”

“But it’s a cat.”

Midoriya frowns harder. “Shinsou-kun.”

It’s adorable and effective.

Hitoshi looks at the chocolate cat sadly, considering he was planning to check on a dojo and not go home and take another nap like planned, it probably was a good idea to have some energy. No matter how temporary. He sighs and takes a small bite on one of its ears.

Aromas burst from the bitten ear, fresh lavender and rich cocoa. Hitoshi chews. “This isn’t bad,” he comments, taking another bite.

If one were focusing on him, they would have noticed the soft bubbles of light that floated around him as he ate.

He looks at the group with half-lidded eyes, then slowly looks at the chocolate cat on his hand. The shadows under his eyes looked lighter, less prominent. Though perhaps that was a trick of light.

“That was faster and more effective than any energy-soda-coffee concoction I’ve ever taken,” he states, looking like he just found the answers to everything. “What’s in this stuff?”

“Magic,” Bakugou muses. “Not normal magic too, only great fairies can give multiple buffs in one item.” He narrows his eyes. “Or... hm, I only knew a few people who could put multiple buffs in one item.”

“Again, I understand those words but not in that order,” Hitoshi says, taking another bite.

Iida looks at all of them in confusion, he opens his mouth to say something but is cut off by Uraraka bumping into him, hard enough to make him flail and topple forward. She’d been running as fast as she could to catch up to them.

Hitoshi wonders if Midoriya infected them with his habit of going overkill in doing things.

 


  

They go their separate ways soon. Midoriya to meet someone, Bakugou to do an errand, Uraraka and Iida to the station, and him and Kirishima to the bus stop.

They were the only people at the stop.

“You live nearby too?” Kirishima asks, breaking the silence as they wait for their respective buses.

He shakes his head. “No, I’d usually take the train. I’m just checking out this place Bakugou wants me to go to,” he brings up a teared sheet of paper, on it was a written address.

“Ah,” Kirishima shuffles his feet.

They were standing in silence once again.

“Hey, Shinsou.”

“Hm?”

“I told you that you’re manly, right?”

Hitoshi blinks. “Yeah?”

“And that I think you’re amazing?”

“... Something similar to that,” Hitoshi replies slowly. He didn’t think he merited an amazing though. It was less amazing and more a desperate scrape to victory. He’s average compared to everyone in his class.

“Because you are,” Kirishima looks at him, intense and sincere. “And I do! You don’t need a flashy quirk to be a hero. You don’t—you don’t need...” His voice gets softer. “You don’t need to be flashy to be a hero.”

He grasps Hitoshi’s hands as he says this, shaking them for every point he makes.

Hitoshi gives Kirishima a long look. His wasn’t a physical quirk, and that made it less effective in battle—it was weaker than his other classmate’s quirks. Not ice or acid or explosions or strength. Not even something simple as-

... Huh.

He doesn’t think it’s just him that Kirishima is trying to convince.

“Neither do you,” he says. “What was it you said before? That all you need is spirit? You have plenty of that already.”

Kirishima blinks, then chuckles. “Heh, you don’t have to make me feel better, you know?”

“I’m just telling the truth,” Hitoshi shrugs.

Kirishima laughs, pink dusting his cheeks as he lets go of Hitoshi and rubs the back of his head.

 


 

Hitoshi is standing in front of a wide building.

“The last one in Korikaka street,” he murmurs, rereading the directions on the paper again. “This is it, I think.”

He looks at the large wooden doors in front of him, not as big as the ones in U.A, but still impressive. He sighs and pushes the door open, maybe he can inquire quickly and leave as soon as possible.

The inside was big, a wide expanse of smooth wooden floors and dark green mats. On the leftside was a long rack of woodenpractice swords,its wall decorated with works of calligraphy. On the right side were a few gym equipment, weights and dumbbells that were stacked neatly on the floor and a few punching bags hanging on the ceiling—all of them had a few rips and slashes.

At the center wall of the large room, in front of a white canvas that had the kanji for youth painted in thick black strokes, was a man sitting cross-legged. Eyes closed, face serene, and body relaxed and still. As they were the only people in the dojo, it was quiet enough to pick up the faint breaths of the man.

Was this meditating? Is this what meditating looked like? Should he say something? Get his attention? Come another time?

Maybe he should leave.

The man opens his eyes and jumps to his feet. “Hyaaa!” He cries.

Maybe not?

“Don’t just stand there, kid!” The man laughs, gesturing him to come closer. He grins, and something about it seems familiar to Hitoshi. “If you’re looking to learn sword techniques, you’ve come to the right place!”

Okay then?

The man tilts his head. “Unless you’re looking for the post office, in which case, it’s the third building behind the dojo.”

“I—what?” Hitoshi shakes his head. “No, I really was looking for this dojo, to—uh,” his voice goes softer, devolving into a mumble. “Someone told me this was a good place to get stronger? And to practice my quirk.”

The man raises his eyebrow, looking at Hitoshi from top to bottom. “Well, you’re not the worst start,” he says. “I’ve had twiggier students. I can train you in fighting,” henarrows his eyes, and Hitoshi feels that insistent tug of dejavu when those coal black eyes assess him. “But quirk practicing? I’m not qualified for that, you’re better off asking your school—your quirk counselor could give better options.”

“Oh,” Hitoshi’s shoulders slump at that. He hasn’t had the best experience with counselors, they were better than his classmates and teachers, but not by much. “I didn’t think there was still quirk counseling in high school.”

It was compulsory for schools to give counseling, but only until middle school.

“For many schools, no, but U.A has always been an exception,” the man smirks as Hitoshi jerks in surprise. “You’re wearing the uniform, and I have a cousin who graduated from U.A. It’s not hard to connect the dots.”

Hitoshi glances at his blazer, the man had a point.

“What’s your quirk?” The man asks. “Why did you think this would be a good place to practice it?”

“It’s brainwashing,” he answers, a little surprised how easy it is to say that. Bakugou suggested this place for his quirk, and even Midoriya agreed. Maybe he trusts them enough to be confident in sharing this? “I can control people when they respond to my voice. A classmate suggested this place for me after he found out I don’t really practice with it.”

The man hums. “It wasn’t a bad idea, losing control of your body is a common sight here,” he points at his eyes. “My quirk is possession, I can possess someone’s body as long as they’re in my field of view. I use it to teach my techniques.”

Hitoshi blinks. “That’s allowed?” There are people who are okay with that kind of teaching style? There are students who are willing to let people control them like that?

“If you have the license,” he answers. “I’m allowed to use my quirk, but you’re not. I know people are lenient to quirk use as long as you don’t commit a crime, but I’m not risking getting you in trouble. Especially when you have a better option.”

Hitoshi blinks some more.

The man gives him a dry look, and he swears it’s really familiar now. “The dojo isn’t certified for quirk use, and I’m not experienced in quirk training,” he explains. “But there is one place that fits those two requirements, and you study in it.”

Oh.

Well.

He was feeling kind of stupid.

“U.A added quirk counseling and training around the time All Might was a student,” the man continues. “Most schools in higher education assume you already have decent control in your quirk, so any training is extracurricular.”

That’s what Hitoshi heard as well, counseling was only mandatory until middle school.

“U.A gives students the option for one-on-one quirk training in their classes,” he sits down, cross-legged, and pats the floor. Hitoshi gets the unsaid message and sits down too. “And I mean beyond hero studies, there are three other courses after all. It’s exceptionally helpful if quirks suddenly mutate and evolve, and for the students who developed their quirks after puberty.”

Hitoshi raises his eyebrows. “That can happen?”

“Late bloomers weren’t that rare when I was your age!” The man laughs. “Not common, but there were definitely more of them before,” he wags his finger. “There was one around All Might’s time in school too! It’s vague, but I remember watching old videos of the sports festival as a kid, kept rooting for that student since he was such an underdog.”

“Huh,” Hitoshi wonders if All Might knew that student. “I wonder if there are some online.”

“Why not ask your teachers for advice?” The man suggests. “It wouldn’t hurt.”

The man has a point, the teachers were probably different from his old ones. Aizawa looked more amused than wary when he used his quirk, even approving. He expects the rest of the faculty wouldn’t be that different.

Studying in U.A should be enough, he has three years to learn.

“I’ll think about it,” he says.

Then again, why should he settle for just enough? With his dream? And his school?

It wouldn’t be very Plus Ultra of him, would it?

“I’m still interested in training,” he adds. “I want to get stronger.”

He didn’t want to rely on his friends all the time.

The man grins, wider and with more manic energy than before. His black eyes gleam with a silent challenge to surprise him even more. “Mah, no time like the present,” the man stands up. “Put your stuff down and get a practice sword.”

Hitoshi stands up as well. “Right now?” He asks.

“That’s what’s usually implied when people say no time like the present,” the man says dryly.

Hitoshi narrows his eyes, now he really felt familiar. He takes note of the dark eyes and hair. He wasn’t scruffy, the hair too silky and his face too clean shaven. He didn’t have the look of someone who needed a century long nap. But everything else was uncannily familiar. The dark eyes, the manic grin, the bland tone when he was sarcastic.

“You said you had a cousin in U.A,” he says. “Is he a teacher now?”

“Hm? Oh, yes, he’s a teacher,” the man grabs a practice sword from the rack. He gets another one and tosses it to Hitoshi. “A pro-hero too, though you wouldn’t know him,” he swings his sword, testing its weight. “Says media attention would get in the way of his work.”

“An underground hero,” Hitoshi catches the sword. “Eraserhead?”

“That’s his hero name,” the man says, and Hitoshi needs a second to pause and take in how small a world this life can be. “You’ve met him?”

“He’s my homeroom teacher,” Hitoshi holds up the sword curiously.

The man widens his eyes. “You mean he still has a class to do homeroom with?” He asks in disbelief. “He didn’t expel all of you on the first day?”

Hitoshi lowers the sword and looks at the man, confused. “Are you talking about the test he gave?” He asks. “The one where we get expelled if we fail? Isn’t that just a lie to motivate us?”

Silence.

The man stares at him.

Hitoshi stares back.

The man blinks.

Hitoshi blinks too.

The man blinks some more.

Hitoshi’s eye twitches.

The man blinks in response.

This was getting awkward.

“Oh, you’re serious,” the man states. “I—okay, something to make fun of when he visits,” he snorts. “Let’s start, shall we?”

Hold on, pause. “He wasn’t really going to expel us,” Hitoshi insists. “... Right?”

“I forgot to introduce myself,” the man says, ignoring Hitoshi’s question. “I’m Kururugi Tesshin, a swordsman and teacher of the Swiftblade techniques.”

“Shinsou Hitoshi,” he replies on reflex. “It was a lie, right? He didn’t expel any of us.”

“Must see something in this year’s batch,” Kururugi mutters, then grins. A little too wide for Hitoshi’s comfort. “Well, that just piques my interest! You have your sword, let’s get started,” his eyes bleed to a dark glowing crimson.

Hitoshi stiffens, not by choice. His fingers move, adjusting his hold on the practice sword. He holds the sword out with a confidence he knows he doesn’t have, arms relaxed and still once they’re in position. His feet spread, his lower body shifts his weight until it’s steady and centered. His eyes don’t leave Kururugi.

“I told you that I use my quirk for teaching,” the man says.

There’s a blanket of unnatural serenity enveloping every inch of himself, relaxing his muscles and calming his mind—keeping him from resisting the liquid warmth entering his body. Touching his bones, filling his organs, flowing in his veins.

In a matter of seconds, he finds that there’s no space for himself. Something else is inside him, making him move.

So this is how possession felt like.

It’s unnerving, to lose control of your own body and witness it move independently from your own mind. He could still feel and see and hear everything with perfect clarity. He could blink and breath like normal. But everything else was disconnected, he couldn’t speak or stop or even wiggle if he wanted to.

Was this how people felt when they were under his quirk?

“Now then,” Kururugi intones, red eyes gleaming. “Let’s start with form one.”

Hitoshi grips his sword and raises it above his head, poised to strike an invisible enemy.

 


 

Toshinori lands on the mat with a grunt, flecks of blood staining his chin. Smoke billows out from his skin as he poofs back to his true form.

Helia hovers above him, healing the small bruise he acquired from the hard landing.

“I’m so sorry!” Midoriya cries, breaking his stance and rushing towards him. Helia flies towards him, staying near his legs. “I didn’t think I’d throw that hard! You were going so fast, and I just reacted and did that move you showed me and—ack!”

Toshinori huffs as Midoriya loses balance and falls from the sweep he does below his ankles. He gets up and wipes his chin, shaking his head as he sees Midoriya sprawled on the mat. Helia flies back, landing on his head.

“What have I told you about apologizing when we spar?” He scolds, offering his hand to Midoriya. “You shouldn’t let your guard down so easily, my boy.”

Midoriya takes the hand and pulls himself up. “S-sorry,” he mumbles. “I’m just really scared of hurting you with y-your—I mean, my?—quirk.”

Toshinori sighs, stamping down the irritation sprouting in him. “I’m not made of glass,” he says. “I know my limits-”

Helia snorts above him.

“-and I assure you that a spar is something I can handle, even in this form.”

Midoriya blinks. “Wha-? I know that,” as nice as All Might was, he was pretty bad at holding back. “It’s just me,” he sighs. “Aizawa-sensei had to stop me two times because I lost control.”

Toshinori blinks.

“I broke school equipment, I got injured,” he looks down at his hands. “And my classmates got hurt because I couldn’t control my strength,” he clenches his hands. “I tried to lower the power but it doesn’t work, I either hurt myself or others.”

He droops. “I can’t control this quirk at all.”

“My boy,” Toshinori places a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve only had your quirk for a month, expecting you to master it in that short time would be ridiculous.”

Midoriya bites his lip. “What if I never master it?” He asks. “What if it’s because I was originally quirkless?”

Much to Toshinori’s dismay, Midoriya’s eyes start to water. “My boy-”

“Maybe it’s not natural for me to have a quirk,” he sniffles.

“That’s not-”

“Shinsou-kun had all those bruises and it’s my fault, Kacchan and Kirishima-kun got hurt too,” he rubs his eyes. “It was my idea and if I had just—if I was better at it then nobody would’ve been hurt.”

“Young Midoriya-”

“You and Helia-san have been trying so hard to teach me and I still can’t do it. What if I hurt someone else? What if I break something else? Maybe it’s me who’s slow,” he hiccups. “Maybe choosing me was a mis-”

Izuku.”

Midoriya stops.

“Izuku,” Toshinori repeats, putting both hands on his shoulders. “I’ll say it again, it would be silly to expect you to have perfect control in a month.”

Midoriya says nothing.

“Heck, it took me a year to have decent control,” he smiles. “And I didn’t have another quirk as a frame of reference either.”

He waits for Midoriya to process his implication. Sure enough, the boy looks up, eyes wide and mouth agape.

“No quirk?” He says softly, like he couldn’t believe it. “You mean you were...?”

“Quirkless,” Toshinori finishes.

If the boy’s eyes were any wider, it would pop off his skull.

“I broke my bones plenty of times when I used One for All,” he continues, giving a crooked grin. “Not to mention the amount of things I destroyed in the first few months was—well, I’m just glad that most of it was junk.”

He’s sure his old teacher still has pictures of the times he was practicing in that abandoned building, clicking away with his camera as he fumbled around. Laughing at him while he whined and complained to her about how mean he was being.

Pictures of times before U.A, before the grief and fear and urgency.

Before she died.

“Just like me,” Midoriya whispers.

Not exactly, he’s still here.

(“For how long?” A voice asks, sounding too much like his old sidekick)

“I’ve made many mistakes in my life, my boy,” Toshinori says. “But choosing you will never be one of them.”

Midoriya hiccups, a fresh batch of tears ready to burst from his eyes.

Toshinori pats his head as he cries again. He’d hoped that saying those things would make him stop crying. Oh well, better happy tears than sad ones.

Honestly, if there’s one thing the boy can improve on, it’s his bouts of nonsense and his waterworks.

“You’re doing well, my boy,” he soothes. “Better than well, I saw your quirk assessment test this morning, you know?”

“O-oh my god,” Midoriya covers his face and groans, his face going red. “That’s the last thing I wanted you to see! I was so embarrassing.”

Helia giggles, leaving Toshinori’s head to land on Midoriya’s. ‘You were not!’ She denies, patting on the forest of soft hair around her. ‘You were very cool! Toshi wouldn’t stop praising you, especially when you did your softball pitch! He even swore!’

“I did,” Toshinori says, amused that even Midoriya’s hands became red as well. “Focusing on the finger was ingenious, maximizing the power and minimizing the injury,” he puts his finger on his lips and hushes. “Don’t tell Recovery Girl I said that, though. I shouldn’t be praising you for getting hurt.”

Midoriya laughs. “She wasn’t happy when she saw me,” he agrees, putting his hands down. He glances up shyly. “... You called me by my first name.”

Ah, that he did.

Toshinori coughs. “Apologies, my boy, I was being rude.”

“No! No, not at all!” Midoriya denies, waving his hands. “I... it’s nice,” he admits. “Nobody’s ever called me Izuku besides Kacchan and his parents,” he fidgets. “And my mom.”

‘And me!’ Helia pipes up from his hair.

“And you, Helia-san,” Midoriya says. “You gave me your quirk and you’re teaching me,” he twiddles his thumbs. “You’ve given me a lot, I wouldn’t mind.”

Toshinori smiles and ruffles his hair. “If I’m allowed to use your name, then you’re allowed to use mine,” he says. “You’ve given me a lot of things too, my boy.”

“O-oh, b-b-but that’s—I mean, y-you’re All Might and-!” Midoriya stutters, waving his arms more frantically now. His face was getting redder and redder as he stammered, looking more like a freckled tomato. “I can’t possibly-!”

Helia leaves his head as he keeps moving too much for her to sit comfortably. She flies towards his face and pokes his red cheek. ‘Just try,’ she says. ‘You need to call him something other than All Might when he’s in this form anyhow.’

“That’s true,” Midoriya mumbles, remembering the times he always called him All Might in the open, no matter what form he was. And that time where people were present and they both panicked. The less risk in revealing the man’s secret, the better.

He takes a deep breath. “C-can I call you Y-y-y-yyyy-ya-ya—”

Helia pokes his steaming cheek in fascination.

Toshinori almost sighs, observing the stuttering boy. Good grief, leave it to the kid to make saying his name a harder trial than cleaning an entire beach. “It doesn’t have to be today, my bo-”

“Yagi-sensei!” Midoriya screeches loudly, making Toshinori and Helia jump back in surprise. “I-if that’s okay with you,” he says in a reasonable volume, looking away. “Y-yagi-san doesn’t seem right since you’re my teacher,” if it were possible, his hair would have gone red by now. “And using your first name would be too... impolite.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Toshinori assures him.

Midoriya mutters something quietly. If Helia hadn’t been near the boy, he probably wouldn’t have heard him say, “Not everyone is American like you, we can’t all be that casual.”

Helia covers her mouth to muffle her snort-giggles.

“I’m Japanese, my boy,” Toshinori says dryly. It always baffled him that the media speculated he wasn’t Japanese, yet at the same vein would praise him for being the top hero in Japan. “Though if we’re splitting hairs on my ancestry, I’m quarter-American and half-British.”

Midoriya stares at him long, mouth opening and closing. He raises his hand as if he were in class.

Toshinori humors him. “Yes?”

“Why aren’t your Smashes named after places in the UK then? And is that why your hero agency runs a charity called Gainsborough Foundation? And built a botanical park called Aerith’s Garden?” He asks. “I always found it odd, the project names didn’t fit your,” he gestures at him. “Er... All American thing going on.”

“I have family in the US, my parents and I used to visit them every summer when I was a child. That’s where I got my inspiration,” Toshinori smiles, remembering those days fondly. “As for the charity and garden, it’s in memory of my mother.”

He thought it was apt to name them after one of the kindest people he knew.

“You never really talk much about your family,” Midoriya mumbles. “Or your life in general. You always avoid those questions in interviews, a lot like when people ask about your quirk.”

“Privacy is a luxury for heroes, and there are risks in sharing your identity,” it was also easier to keep his injury a secret, though that was an advantage he wouldn’t realize until after his first surgery. “If it’s not villains wanting revenge and hurting your family, then it’s the media stalking your every move.”

‘You’d think they’d figure it out by looking at U.A,’ Helia comments. ‘Isn’t the sports festival shown on TV every year? They don’t use aliases either, they announce your real names.’

“School records are protected viciously in U.A,” he explains. “And I doubt many would connect a young teenager with All Might, my hair was more similar to my true form.” Plus he wasn’t as good in using One for All that time.

“You’re built like a brick shithouse in hero form,” Midoriya agrees.

“Young Midoriya.”

“You’re built like a brick shithouse in hero form,” Midoriya whispers softly.

Toshinori opens his mouth, pauses, then shakes his head.

“That’s the best I can ask for, I suppose,” he snorts.It would be hypocritical of him to scold the boy that much, considering he swore many times in both Japanese and English.

“All the blonds I know swear,” Midoriya realizes.

‘I don’t swear,’ Helia disagrees.

Midoriya gives her a look. “Kacchan taught me Hylian.”

‘... I swear occasionally,’ she amends.

 


 

“Mah, that wasn’t a complete dismal performance!” Kururugi claps his hands cheerfully, unfazed at the sweaty lump on the floor that was his newest student. “Well done, my twiggy little student!”

Hitoshi mumbles incoherently on the floor.

“Get up, Shinsou-kun,” Kururugi prods the boy with his foot. “You’re not leaving this dojo until you’ve done your stretches. It wasn’t that bad.”

“Everything hurts,” is the muffled groan on the floor. “My legs, my arms, my fingers. Let me suffer, I am in pain.”

“And you’ll be in more pain tomorrow if you don’t get up and do your cool down,” Kururugi explains patiently. “Now stand up.”

Hitoshi grumbles and slowly stands up. “Can’t you just possess me and do it instead?”

“I only use my quirk to show you my techniques, everything else is all on you,” Kururugi says, putting back the practice swords. “Practice, conditioning, spars, those are things you have to do without my quirk—I won’t hold my students’ hands all the time. Now follow what I’m doing.”

Hitoshi sighs and follows.

 


 

Midoriya stands up after he’s tied his shoes and gets his backpack. “See you tomorrow, All Mi—I mean-!” he laughs shyly. “Yagi-sensei.”

Helia coos.

Toshinori smiles, he could get used to that. He opens the door, intent on escorting him to his gate at least, and blinks as he sees someone near his gate. “Young Bakugou? Why are you here?”

Bakugou holds up a bottle of milk and shakes it for emphasis. “I’m also getting Deku, he’s having dinner with me and my folks tonight.”

“How did you know where All—Yagi-sensei lives?” Midoriya asks, running towards his friend. Toshinori follows.

“What, like it’s hard?” Bakugou snorts.

“Yes?” Midoriya pouts. “I didn’t know.”

“That’s because you have some weird qualms with politeness and shit,” Bakugou says, giving Toshinori the milk. “It’s not like he’s a ninja when going home, though he is better than most, just follow him.”

Toshinori looks pained. “Please don’t make it a habit to stalk people, my boy,” he says. “That’s not something heroes do,” a thought pops up that makes him worry. “That also includes breaking into other people’s homes and trespassing.”

“I wouldn’t break into your house!” Bakugou scoffs, looking insulted.

Both him and Midoriya give him a look of disbelief.

“Unless it’s some life or death kind of shit,” Bakugou adds.

“That’s not very reassuring, my boy.”

“Best you can ask for, though,” Midoriya comments, tugging Bakugou’s sleeve. “Come on, our moms will worry if we’re late. Bye, Al—Yagi-sensei!”

“Have a safe trip, you two!” He calls out. “And I hope you’ll be prepared for your second day,” he says quietly to himself.

He hopes he will too, tomorrow will be his first day as a teacher.