"Oh, hell no ."
The Heroes HQ cafeteria was buzzing with chatter but it was Kaminari Denki's voice that caught Midoriya Izuku's attention as soon as he arrived. It was three in the afternoon. Izuku was returning from patrol duty and was on a one-hour break, after which he had paperwork to file. But not before a snack, of course.
The cafeteria was fairly crowded, which was rare. Most of the time, it was packed and bustling with boisterous laughter, almost like a tavern. But now, it was fairly empty enough that Chargebolt and Pinky—or basically just Kaminari Denki and Ashido Mina to Izuku—had a table to themselves as they each enjoyed a burger, fries, and what seemed to be tall glasses of orange juice.
It's been five years since their class graduated from UA. They were now serving as licensed Heroes but it wasn’t just them that changed. Society had been, too. After much issue and debate about the flaws and misgivings of the previous Hero system, it became obvious that an overhaul was in order. So the government decided to take the lead by communicating with representatives from different sectors of society to find a solution that worked for the greater good.
One of the proposals was to rework if not totally abolish the rankings. The goal was to avoid discrimination among the heroes so they could focus on working together towards a common goal. There was a call to unite under a single banner. All Heroes would register under one organization that would be independent from any political and business ties.
Part of the forefront of this reform were Todoroki Shouto, Yaoyorozu Momo, and Iida Tenya who were met with multiple adversaries on many different levels from many different factions. Those from the private sector were particularly unhappy, as a unified Hero banner would mean abolishing private Hero agencies. To this date, Izuku had no idea how his classmates managed to push through with most of their reforms but he was proud of them. Getting reforms through was just the beginning, after all. There was still much to do. The current system was still imperfect and in-progress but, hey, rarely anything in this world was easy. What mattered was that they were moving forward.
"So then what happened?" Kaminari was saying now, listening eagerly. They seemed to be engaged in such deep and important conversation that none of them noticed Izuku pass by. He headed towards the vending machine nearby, pulling out his hero license (that now doubled as a payment card) as he waited for his turn. He wondered if he should get an energy drink and maybe a sandwich. The cafeteria counter seemed to wave at him from the side of his eye, making him think if perhaps he should get a proper meal instead.
But then Ashido slammed her palm on the table, making Izuku gasp in attention.
"What happened was shit. Went. Down." Ashido hit the table and leaned forward with every word. Kaminari’s eyebrows raised in some form of suspenseful surprise but didn't interrupt.
Wow. What intense topic were they talking about?
"So Bakugou blew up everything way past his limit that he lost one arm and—"
"Kacchan what!?" Izuku exclaimed loudly from across the room, earning startled glances and murmurs from the other Heroes. Izuku fidgeted again, mumbling apologies to both everyone and no one in particular. He’d probably apologize for two more minutes but Kacchan lost an arm, okay? So Izuku strode quickly to where his two friends were sitting, forgetting for a while that he needed food. Kaminari and Ashido blinked dumbly at him. It seemed they weren’t aware that his outburst was caused by overhearing their conversation.
"When was this?” He mumbled as he rested his palms on the table, unsure what he was feeling because there was no single word that summarized worried, sad, frustrated, angry, and confused. “Who was Kacchan fighting? Is he okay? Why didn't anyone—"
"Yo, yo, yo, settle down, childhood friend." Kaminari waved at him. Ashido giggled. Izuku opened his mouth to say something along the lines of no , he wasn't going to shut up because Kacchan lost an arm and he was only finding out now . From overhearing . He didn’t get the news from Kacchan or Kacchan’s mother or Izuku’s own mother or… or… or…
"Hith’s noth rir." Kaminari’s jibberish ended Izuku's train of thought amidst the sound of his loud chewing.
"It's not real?" The green-haired boy tilted his head. Part of him wanted to comment on the french fry that was sticking out of Denki’s mouth.
"Nope. Not real." Ashido spoke, mouth full as she casually chewed on her burger.
Wait, what ?
His confusion must have shown on his face because Kaminari started to explain.
"See, Ashido here had discovered this thing they call fanfiction ." The blonde Hero scooted to his side to make space on the bench as a silent invitation for Izuku to sit next to him. "You know what that is, don't you?"
"Yeah. I've heard of it." Izuku nodded as he sat down, forehead wrinkled in curiosity. "What's it have to do with Kacchan's broken—Oh my god , don't tell me he got pissed at a story and—"
Ashido Mina literally choked on her burger in laughter. Izuku panicked for a while, hurriedly trying to make her drink some juice to wash it down had she not been dying of laughter. Kaminari was no help either. The blonde electric Hero also burst out laughing right before he could chomp on his burger. And, thankfully, too, because Izuku did not want to deal with two choking adults who favored comedy over their lives.
"Your reaction is understandable, but, no, no, no. Bakugou isn’t pissed at a story." Mina said as she calmed down, wiping her tears, and morsels of food from the side of her lip. "I meant in a story. He’s in a story." She took a deep breath, giggling a bit before sipping more of her juice. "There's fanfiction written with us Heroes in it."
Izuku felt dumb for not connecting the dots immediately. It's just that the possibility of Kacchan losing an arm thanks to his rage wasn't really in the realm of impossible. Even if Kacchan—or Ground Zero, as he'd like to call himself as a Hero—Even if Kacchan was talented, experienced, smart, and just downright amazing fighting-wise, Izuku could not help but worry that his temperament would one day make him lose a limb. Sure, he had toned down considerably, but he still had fits of rage every now and then. It didn't help that his quirk had drawbacks that risked shattering his arm, too. Izuku quietly thought back to a practical exam they had against All Might where he had to use one of Kacchan's grenade bracers. The recoil was insane.
"Ashido found a really good one with our entire 1-A class in it." Kaminari said, waking Izuku out of his small flashback. "Like mostly about us in the class except Pro Hero version. Way cool."
Ashido giggled again but waited to swallow her food before she said anything. Thank god .
"Mmmhmm! It's six chapters in and—” She leaned to her side to take a sip from the straw of her orange juice, “—Hooboy, it's a ride! I told Kaminari to read it but mister Chargebolt over here doesn't have enough electrons to read it ."
"It's a lot of words, okay?!"
"Hey, first of all, an average of three thousand words per chapter is not long, you hear me!?" Ashido groaned, rolling her dark eyes as she scratched her hair like a very disappointed mother. "Some authors have, like, an average of eight thousand per chapter! You don't know what a long chapter is, you casual !"
Casual? Izuku could feel his face warp into confusion. What exactly was a casual ?
"Eight th—!” Kaminari sounded outraged. “What person does that !?"
Does what? Write eight thousand words or injure Kacchan’s arms in a story? Did that say anything about the writer? Izuku wondered. Why would anyone write about gravely injuring a real person? Was this any grounds to judge? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. After all, people had been enjoying many forms of media that involved violence, gore, and other themes deemed disturbing on regular circumstances. Fiction was fiction.
Except Kacchan was a real person.
“—have to use so many words to destroy a fucking arm !” Kaminari ground the words out his teeth, returning Izuku to the realm of not-mumbling.
“Um, guys…” Izuku tried interrupting as timidly as he could because what did he know about the importance of word counts and being casual or formal and whatnot? "S-so… So why did Kacchan lose his arm...?"
Sudden pause. Kaminari and Ashido literally stopped mid-motion, mid-conversation to look at him. For a second, it felt strange until it felt creepy . Was there a reason Ashido’s face was starting to warp into the expression of a devil that was just about to lure him with sin and temptation into the depths of hell?
"Aaaaaargh!” Kaminari burst out. It made Izuku jump slightly, knee hitting the table, causing the food to jump and almost spilling the juice. “That'll take us back to chapter one, Midoriya! Come on! "
Ah! Ah! Did he ask something bad?
Judging by Ashido’s smile, not really.
"Okay, okay...!” She shifted excitedly in her seat, leaning forward like she was gearing up for something very, very important. “”So it all starts with—”
“You were in the middle of telling me about chapter six , god damn it!” Kaminari complained as he leaned back and kicked his feet under the table.
“Oh my god , don’t be selfish, Kaminari!” Ashido hissed, yanking him by the hair. The blonde retaliated by reaching for Ashido’s antenna but she quickly leaned back and out of his reach.
“G-guys… I…!” Izuku wasn’t sure what to say. “Well, I could read it myself if—”
“See!?” Kaminari clapped triumphantly. “He’s—”
Whatever that sentence was, Ashido was obviously not interested judging by how she quickly grabbed Denki by the jaw to immediately shut him up. Her eyes were wide and focused on Izuku like she was assessing him.
Oh- kay ? Why was she looking at him like she was about to snare him into a web from where there was no return?
“Midoriya.” She began. Voice flat. All he could reply was a high-pitched cross of “Yes” and “Hiiie”, which was basically, “Hiiieeesss!”
“You wanna read fanfics?”
Izuku slowly opened his mouth to make it look like he was going to answer because he didn’t have an answer. He didn’t really want to read fanfics, he just wanted to read that particular fanfic. He was curious about the kind of story that Kaminari Denki seemed to be invested in already. And he was also curious about what kind of situation someone thought Kacchan would lose an arm in. But by the way Ashido was staring into his eyes like she was going to steal his soul if he gave the wrong answer, Izuku wasn’t sure what he wanted anymore.
“Ah!” Izuku fidgeted in his seat again and just spat out the first thing that came to mind. “Yes, mam! Yes, mam!”
And perhaps that was the right answer. Ashido squealed in excitement as she turned to her phone, quick fingers swiping and tapping as she giggled.
“Oh my gosh , wait ‘til I tell the girls!”
Tell the girls? Wait, what? Was this an achievement of some sort? A life event?
“I posted this on our Facenook group before but it got drowned out by the guys’ back-and-forth wrestling thread." Ashido said, pouting mid-sentence before sighing as if to dismiss whatever thoughts she had. "Anyway, I’ll send you the link.”
“A-ah! Okay! Th-thank you!” Izuku blinked and pulled out his phone. He still didn’t know what he was getting into. It seemed to be a trivial thing but Ashido’s actions made it seem like it wasn’t. Strange.
“You are absolutely going to like this, Midoriya.” She giggled again amidst the chiming of Facenook messenger’s alert. “I mean, you're really cool in it, you know."
"Just tell him it’s Todoroki-centric already." Kaminari sounded bored. Ashido rolled her eyes away.
"It's in the damn tags, Kaminari.” The girl looked up from her phone so she could glare at him. “The author literally said she would kick a puppy for Todoroki. At least learn to read the tags. My god ."
“I told you , it’s too many words!”
“And I told you you don’t know what long is!”
Izuku smiled faintly at the exchange before turning to his phone to see the link his friend had sent. It’s just a story, right?
So why did this seem to be a strange idea?
Six chapters and seven one-shots into his new discovery was all it took for Midoriya Izuku to decide that fanfiction was amazing . It was like seeing the Hero world with a different set of eyes. He’d read through Ashido’s recommendation earlier today and wow . Just wow . It was set ten years into the future and had quite a rocky, questionable start, but it picked up.
The story began with—guess who— Todoroki Shouto driving home, pondering how he felt bad having to dump another woman (what?). As he drove by on his shiny red Namborghini with white accents (eh?), he noticed a group of thugs seemingly mugging an innocent citizen. Being a Hero that he was, Todoroki Shouto stopped his car—or, more accurately, made it drift towards a proper parking space (huh?)—stepped out of his vehicle and dealt with the thugs. Again, more accurately, he threw ice roses at them and made them run away (um?).
The victim, on the other hand, turned out to be a young man claiming to be from another dimension. He was here on a mission to save the humans because a couple of entities from his world were aiming to harvest people with Quirks to become sources of power. The thugs were really his pursuers that he’d been trying to run away from but his journey had been far too long and difficult. He was too weak and got cornered. Todoroki asked him what he could do to help. The stranger hesitated and apologized before he—Izuku choked on his own saliva at this part—he kissed Todoroki Shouto— kissed , oh, god, he read that right, didn’t he—and was now, by some sort of foreign technique, linked to him as a source of energy.
The noise that came out of Midoriya Izuku was a cross of a snort and a whine. Kaminari was a hundred percent spot on with how the story was Todoroki-centric. He was basically written as All Might 2.0 if All Might was an overly charming, smart, rich, and handsome male protagonist from a soap opera. He was very cool. Too cool , in fact, and not the ice kind of cool. He was too suave for his own good, too dignified, too always-knew-what-was-right-from-wrong. And all the girls were in love with him. Heck, everyone was probably in love with him. Even one of the villains begame so obsessed with him that she tried to tear off his clothes every time she saw him. Good lord.
Izuku found himself in the story, of course… As Todoroki’s super best friend who basically was a sidekick in all but name. He didn’t know why but he was. The author did mention that she took a lot of inspiration from “the very first UA sports festival they had prior to becoming a hero”. So maybe that had a hand in how Deku was a sidekick? But, hey, he was cool in his own right. He did like the part where he parkoured the living hell out of three golems to beat them with agility and quick wits. But then the golems multiplied!
...And then Todoroki came in and froze them all.
So beyond all the Todoroki fanservice, everything was great. Some of them were out-of-character, in Izuku’s opinion, but that was perhaps because the author didn’t really know them personally. Forgivable flaws aside, Izuku thought it was an amazing story in the works. In fact, he didn’t really notice that he had spent over two hours sitting on his bed reading through six chapters on his phone. Three thousand words per chapter didn’t seem like much when it was well-written. What was more amazing was that it was about him and his friends. Hopefully, the author would update soon. He even subscribed to the story so he’d get an e-mail alert when the new chapter was up.
Oh, and kudos. Mina said feedback was important but Izuku was holding off commenting until he was given enlightenment on fictional Kacchan’s arm. He didn’t really lose an arm, but it was implied that he did while he was fighting one of the enemies that tried to harvest him for his Quirk. Izuku was still holding on to the possibility of Kacchan actually being okay or getting his arm back. He wasn’t even going to consider how Kacchan went flying aimlessly into the air after the explosion and getting caught by—guess who— Todoroki Shouto.
Wanting to explore more fanfiction worlds, Izuku decided to try searching for others. It was a bit confusing at first with all the terms but most of them were self-explanatory.
Izuku managed to find fanfictions that were good, bad, and then… some that he didn’t know what to feel about. Like the one where Todoroki split into two. Ice Shouto was an quiet and insecure. Fire Shouto was dominant and upbeat. Due to a strange turn of events, Ice Shouto cast an eternal winter everywhere and locked himself up in an ice castle so now it was up to Fire Shouto had to get him out. Izuku had a nagging feeling that he knew this story was from somewhere as soon as he read Ice Shouto tell Fire Shouto that “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
Okay, not to hate on his friend, but why were there so many Todoroki-centered fics? It wasn’t a secret how popular he was but… But there had to be a limit somewhere , right? There were nine thousand stories of him on this site.
Hoping to read more of people who weren’t Todoroki Shouto (again, no hate), Izuku tried a more refined search. That was when he found something interesting under the relationships tag:
Oh, wow ! So there were fics that had him and Kacchan as main characters !? Like heroes and sidekicks!? Or a duo!?
That was all it took for Izuku to query without hesitation and with all the excitement of a five-year old on Christmas.
The page was already loading when he remembered that, ah, he had Hero duty tomorrow. Izuku glanced at the clock. Ten-thirty in the evening. Hmm.
Well, it would be nice to see what people thought of us. Izuku thought. He and Kacchan hd been through a lot together. To say they had to tread rocky paths to get to were they were was an understatement. Both of them had their own struggles and insecurities, which they managed to deal with, one way or another. And while Kacchan still had that harsh, competitive aura to him, his hostility had dialed down a lot. Izuku took pride in being the person who understands him the most. He liked to think that Kacchan thought the same. Perhaps the entire HQ did because they were often assigned together—whether to deal with certain incidents or to go on patrol on seasons when they were required to do rounds in pairs. They made a good team.
So, yeah. It would be interesting to find out how complete strangers saw their dynamic.
“Just one story.” Izuku mumbled, puffing up his pillow so he could lean on it properly. “Just one story and I’m going to bed.”
And off to the first fic he went.