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At the age of three, Izuku learned that all men aren't equal.

At the age of six, however, Izuku learned that miracles exist.


Age five

Stumbling upon All Might on his way home was not what Izuku had wished for that day. He had long since given up on a chance encounter with his favorite hero. After all, celebrities don't just walk around the street all day waiting for a quirkless nobody to request an autograph. But here he was, in all his glory, All Might stood in the middle of a crowd of admirers, looking more terrified of the notebooks and phones and gifts being thrust at him than he had ever been in front of villains.

Thanks to his small frame, Izuku crawled his way through people's legs with slight difficulty and soon made his way in front of his idol. Now that Izuku was mere feet away from All Might, he was astonished at the man’s extreme physique that was kinda hard to tell across the monitor. Being next to him made Izuku feel so small and insignificant. But the overwhelming height of the man only brought him a feeling of protectiveness, like being under a shielding giant tree on a rainy day.

Trembling from excitement, Izuku bounced up and down as he pushed his notebook up as high as possible, hoping the popular hero would choose his notebook amongst the many that was offered to him. "A-A-All Might!" He yelled, his voice breaking. "C-Can I get an autograph!?"

The second surprise of the day came when All Might heard his pitiful squeak among the clamorous chatters and gladly took the offered notebook. "Of course! What's your name, boy?"

"M-Midoriya Izuku!"

All Might signed the notebook with a flash, his signature smile on his face as he returned it to Izuku. It was incredible how he was capable of looking so cool while doing something so mundane. Izuku mused as he thumbed over the page where All Might’s glorious signature carved its way to memory. All Might, the greatest, legendary hero, the Symbol of Peace, protector of the country, the most amazing person alive had been holding his notebook… His notebook.

Izuku broke out of his musing when he saw All Might bent his legs slightly, a sign his years of observation helped him notice habitually before the man jumped. All Might was leaving. His first encounter with the legendary hero was about to end in less than a minute with a few insignificant exchanges of words that most likely won't be remembered if he was to think back on it years later.

He couldn't just end it like this. He wouldn't.

"C-Can... Can someone without a quirk become a hero!??"

Before the man could leave his sight, Izuku spluttered out a question that had been clogging his mind for years.

All Might stood with his back faced towards the crowd, who was starting to get impatient with Izuku getting all the attention. Slowly, he replied in a low tone, "I'm going to be frank with you. Heroes deal with life and death situations on a daily basis. It's not something to be taken lightly of. If a quirkless hero was to participate in a hero fight, without any power to defend themselves, they will only be a hindrance to the other heroes and give the villains an advantage. Even with the help of gadgets and equipments, they will still be the weakest link of the heroes. Plus, hero equipments are hard to come by and are a big investment. A group of heroes is only as strong as their weakest member, and the addition of a quirkless hero would greatly reduce the chance of successful captures. Which is why a quirkless person has never passed the hero license exam."

There were many words that Izuku didn't understand at the time, but one thing he knew was that being quirkless equals to no hero.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but I don't want you to waste your life working towards an impossible goal. it's better to give up early than regret later on." All Might's stern face fell when he turned around, beaming, "That's all!"

Izuku didn't hold him back this time, letting his idol jump out of sight. The disappointed crowd dispersed, with a few lingering people throwing dirty looks at the small boy who was lucky to be blessed with All Might's attention, even for a few minutes.

That day, Izuku's dream was totally, completely, and utterly shattered into pieces. Not a single scrap remains.

The next day, he went through school without his usual vigor. He sat quietly in class not participating in any of the class discussions. Everything around him seemed to blur out and the noises seemed to fade. Izuku was in his own little world, a dark vast empty space with a small ball of flame lighting up a path that led to infinite darkness. During lunch, he sat alone as usual as he watched his classmates with all their amazing quirks laughing and fooling around.

As school came to an end, Izuku packed up quietly, hoping to return home as soon as possible so he could crash onto his bed and just... black out.

But all good things must come to an end, Kacchan appeared next to him with an explosion effect.

"What's wrong with you, Deku!?"

Izuku glanced at him warily.

"It's nothing, Kacchan."

"It's obviously not nothing! You were zoning out the entire day! It took Yama-sensei three times to get your attention! And you didn't even look at me once! What's wrong with you!" Kacchan slammed a hand onto his desk, causing Izuku to flinch.

Kacchan was right. What was wrong with him? Well, for one, he didn't have a quirk, yet he dared to dream about becoming a hero. Then, he even had the nerve to speak to All Might. Someone like him... An extra like him...

"Come!" Kacchan yanked his arm and dragged him out of the classroom. School had ended for a while and the hallway was nearly void of students. Good. No witnesses. Perfect timing for Kacchan to torment him. Even if someone did see the way Kacchan was treating him, they would probably dismiss it as Kacchan being his usual aggressive self. Izuku's mind spun wildly as memories of past encounters flashed across his mind.

Izuku sneaked a glance at Kacchan's face. As expected, Kacchan was seething like he wanted to murder someone. Great, today he probably won't let Izuku off the hook so easily.

Was it too much to ask to just leave him alone? He just wanted to go home.

Kacchan kicked open the door to the roof. For some reason, it wasn't locked. He pulled Izuku near the railing and let go of his arm, looking away and grumbling something underneath his breath. Izuku rubbed his sore wrist where Kacchan had grabbed as he watched on with confusion. What does Kacchan want with him now?

"Look! You know I hate your guts, right!??" Kacchan spat, face red with anger. Small explosions danced on his sweaty palms.

"I know... You don't have to remind me everyday, Kacchan..." Izuku bowed his head, ashamed. He knew Kacchan never saw him as a friend. He'd known it since he first met him. But it hurt even more to hear it from Kacchan.

"You're a worthless, useless, stupid quirkless Deku! I...I...I hate you! You can't even defend yourself yet you want to be a hero? Don't make me laugh! What're you gonna do when you face a villain, huh!? Throw your damn notebook at it? The villain could kill you in seconds! If you want to die so badly then just jump off the roof! It'll save you the time and effort!"

Kacchan rambled on, fingers clawing through his messy hair as if frustrated that his words would never get through Izuku's thick skull.

"You hear that!? What I'm saying is that..." A series of small explosions spooked Izuku. Kacchan looked so mad. "H-H-Ha... Ha... Dammit! Stupid, shitty Deku!" With that said, he ran down the stairs, leaving a trail of smoke behind him.

This was the last straw. Izuku knew how useless he was, but he always pushed down those negative thoughts and focused on the positive emotions. He continued to dream on and wish for a brighter future. He hoped one day he’d meet someone who'd support him no matter what, who'd stay by his side and urge him on, who'd tell him, "You can be a hero." Yesterday's meeting with All Might crushed those hopes. And today's meeting with Kacchan even more so extinguished that small flame of ambition inside his heart.

Izuku stepped closer to the railing, watching the students trail out of the school gate, a blond pomeranian head standing out in the crowd. Some students remained on the field due to club activities. There was a group of students standing on the baseball field, not doing anything— No, they were discussing something.

Izuku squinted his eyes. Something was off with the field. There were some charred grounds all over the baseball field. They seemed to form something...

"O... O... No, is that a D?" He pushed himself forward, leaning against the railing. "That's definitely an E... And then K... And the last one is...V?" Izuku frowned. Whoever was fooling around would probably get in trouble tomorrow when the teachers caught them. It wasn’t Izuku's job to worry. Beside, he didn't care anymore. Whatever that'd happen to this world, to other people, to the heroes, to the villains... to himself.

Izuku placed a hand on the railing, drumming his fingers on it as he walked along the borders of the roof, stopping when he reached the back of the building. Underneath the railing was the backgate of the school that was mostly used by teachers and the likes. It was a shorter distance to the building than the main entrance. Izuku could see some people walking past outside of the locked gate.

He wasn't thinking when he pushed himself over the railing. His mind was blank as he stared down his feet, at the hard cement ground that seemed suddenly so close to him. His vision swayed and he felt like he was falling forward...

The cold metal under his sweaty palms snapped him out of his trance. His hands tightened painfully around the railing, sweat caused his palms to become slippery. The realization of what almost happened got his heart racing.

What was he thinking? Was he really going to kill himself? Why?

His obedient mind began replaying all the rejections he had received.

"I'm so sorry... Izuku," as his mama cried.

"You're a worthless, useless, stupid quirkless Deku! You should just die!" screamed Kacchan, red-faced.

"It's better to give up early than regret later on," said his hero, All Might.

Maybe it was better to die. Maybe he'd be born with a quirk in his next life.

But as he was contemplating, his mama's face appeared in his mind. Her crinkling eyes when she found him during Hide and Seek, her soft laugh when she played Heroes vs Villains make believe with him, her warm smile when they watched hero movies together, her beautiful, glowing emerald long hair under the sun, her awkward pose as Izuku fumbled with the camera during their visit to All Might Amusement Park.

All those happy memories surged up all at once. As Izuku thought back to how much his mama treasured him, how he was everything she had, his grip on the railing tightened. He couldn't do it. Not when he imagined how much pain it would bring to mama, how much she'd cry in his absence, or how she'd sit on the couch alone in the dark, with the tv's dim light dancing off of her dull, blank eyes that used to be so remarkably bright.

How could he possibly hurt mama like this? How selfish was he, to only think about his own pain and problems, and not spend a penny worth of thought on his mama? What kind of son was he?

This was stupid. He shouldn't do this. He'd just be a cop... or something. No matter what, he had to keep on living. For his mama's sake.

Izuku didn't even realize he was shaking until he tried to get himself over the railing. The severity of the near death situation just downed on him and all those fears that was absent turned out to be merely delayed. He couldn't bring any power to his hands and the railing was too high for him to simply jump over. He couldn't stop trembling no matter how much he tried. He regretted doing this. He was so stupid. If he hadn't done this in the first place... then...

Then he wouldn't be falling off the roof right now.


School just ended. It was a fairly normal day for Tobita. He didn't pay attention in class but instead doodled his hero costume in his elegant pocket notebook. Teachers yelled at him, and he just tuned them out as usual. Takeshita, the best student in the hero course, was popular with the girls as always, and according to the rumors, he had already been accepted to a hero agency. Tobita had sat aside and watched with masked disinterest and slight, suppressed envy as he ate his bento. Talking about bentos, his mom had been slacking off while making them. They used to be so aesthetically beautiful; now, he lost his appetite whenever he looked at it. Well, at least it was still wrapped perfectly in his favorite furoshiki. 

One thing that made today slightly different was the parent conference in the principal's office. That arrowhead principal once again ranted about his behavior issues, but this time in front of his parents. Tobita had seen the gleeful looks in the man’s eyes when his dad glared at him and his mother began crying in distress, and he didn’t like it. It was a look full of mockery and superiority barely kept hidden behind fake pleasantries and professionalism. It was obvious that the principal had already given up on Tobita and lost all hopes of him ever achieving something remotely satisfactory. Arrowhead's mask had crumbled for a second when he mentioned how expulsion was a possible ending if Tobita didn’t up his game, but it was quickly replaced with a concerned smile before his parents caught onto it.

He thought that threat was enough to waver Tobita’s determination? Well, it would take more than that. Tobita wasn’t going to give up his hero dream if that was what he was planning. His optimism was his best weapon and he would continue fighting for a bright future.

However, his grades indeed needed some polishing. Judging from the heated glares his father had been shooting him with, he won’t be getting away scot free this time. He would have to put more effort into his school work, but how do the teachers expect him to become a hero if they don’t give him more opportunities to do actual hero stuff? Experiences were a necessary requirements when applying for hero agencies; thus, Tobita continued actively searching for opportunities to save people.

And that led him to a crowd of people gawking at something high above them. Tobita glanced out of curiosity and found a glass cleaner panicking on the suspended platform that was barely connected to the building, wire ropes snapping apart.

It was his chance!

Tobita grinned. He'd show them how heroic he was. He would save that man!

The moment the last wire rope snapped, Tobita rushed forward, creating air cushions to launch himself towards the falling man. In his hurry, he didn't notice a hero rushing to rescue.

The scene seemed to be going in slow motion. The man was falling, falling, and he was getting closer, closer...

Then someone rammed into his barrier.

Tobita gaped in shock as another man dressed like a pro hero frantically found his footing and jumped towards the fallen man yet again, but the encounter delayed his rescue and the man fell onto the ground in a sickening crack, the perfect sound effect of the current state of Tobita’s heart.


Later that day...

Today was a horrible day, Tobita decided when he was finally released by the furious hero and the police. His mother stayed back, still apologizing profusely as the police reminded her repeatedly the severity of her son’s actions. This incident would be brought up to the principal, and with his already low reputation, expulsion seemed like it wasn't outside the range of possibilities. Great. Just great.

The sun was setting and the road home seemed longer than normal. Tobita shuffled his feet, staring hard at the stubborn ground. How he wished for the ground to open up and swallow him whole, right here, right now. Maybe life would be better if he lived in a hole. The world was too cruel for him. Heroes saved people, but where was his hero?

His mind was a mess. Terrible thoughts of what was to be expected bombarded his bursting head. How would his parents react if he was actually expelled? How would his classmates react? Would he still be able to go to school? Was his parents going to kick him out? Could he still be a hero?

The last question drifted a while longer in his mind as he took in his surroundings. He had walked upon the elementary school he always saw on his way home. Today was no different. The backgate was locked. The guard was snoring. A cat was stealing the fish off of his bento. The school was nearly empty. The roof was... Wait. Is that—!

Tobita couldn't believe what he was seeing. He rubbed his eyes, then pinched himself just to make sure. A boy was standing on the edge of the rooftop, outside of the railing!

He couldn't see the boy's face from afar, but judging by his slouched posture, it seemed like this was a suicide situation.

For a moment, Tobita contemplated turning away and continuing his miserable life. His earlier incident was a clear indicator that he wasn't hero material. He had also failed the provisional hero license exam four times. He had faced rejections all his life and his attempts to help someone almost always ended up biting him in the rear. Why would this time be any different? It wasn't like saving one person would make him a hero anyway...

But when he saw the boy attempt to climb back over the railing, but slipped and lost his footing, Tobita moved, his mind suddenly clear.

Who cares if no one believed in him?

Who cares if no one appreciated his help?

Who cares if he'd be expelled tomorrow and his hero dream was likely crushed for life?

If he was going to watch a child fall to his death without doing something to help, when he had the ability to do so, then he wasn't even a man! Let alone a hero!

"Gently Rebound!" Tobita jumped onto the elastic barrier and launched over the locked gate; the guard remained asleep. He repeated the technique and another aerial cushion appeared underneath the falling boy. Tobita prayed silently as he watched the boy land on the elastic, stretching it a little, and bouncing back up. Tobita was already in position and he caught the boy's small body without much effort.

All the energy seemed to vanish and Tobita fell onto his knees, his bangs drenched with sweat. Perspiration mixed with gel slid down his cheeks, making its way very uncomfortably into his uniform. That stubborn little curl once again escaped his gelled rest of his hair and flopped against his forehead. His heart was racing so fast he was sure the boy was able to hear it. Well, when he came out of the trance, that was.


When his feet slipped and his grip slackened, Izuku was so sure that today was the last day of his life. As he was falling down, he didn't panic. It actually felt quite nice to be in the air, not restrained to any surface. He wondered briefly if anyone would save him. If All Might would... No. He clenched his eyes shut. All Might had no reason to show up at an ordinary elementary school. He was probably busy fighting villains on the street. No one was going to come to his rescue. 

The school was nearly empty. Most teachers already left. Nobody knew he was on the roof, except Kacchan, who had already left the school. Izuku was going to die. His head was going to hit the concrete so hard it shattered to pieces, much like the state of his hero dream. No one would save him... No one—

Izuku hit the ground. But he didn't feel any pain.

The ground was surprisingly soft, and it seemed kind of... stretchy. Like rubber, Izuku thought as his fingers made contact with the ground, Soft, slimy—but not wet—rubber. Izuku felt his body sink in, then bounce up, right into a pair of strong, steady arms.

The world stopped spinning and all movements stilled. Izuku felt the silky smooth texture of clothing rubbing against his cheeks. He could faintly hear the beating of a fast thumping heart. He cracked open an eye slowly, the concerned face of a stranger filled his vision.

Unable to believe what just happened, Izuku had to ask to make sure, "Did... you save me?"

The stranger let out a chuckle, sighing deeply, "Seems like you’re okay." He bent down and allowed Izuku to stand on his own. "Can you walk?"

Izuku tested a few steps. His legs felt like jelly. "Yeah—”

"No, you can't." The stranger interjected. He bent down, back facing Izuku. "Get on, I'll carry you."

"I-I can't trouble you. You already saved my life! T-that's more than enough—"

"That's not enough!" The man gently took Izuku's hand and placed it on his shoulder. "You're probably still terrified of what just happened. I'm not leaving you to deal with the aftermath by yourself."

Izuku got on his back reluctantly.

"Where do you live?"

"xxxx"

"Okay, hang on tight." The man shifted Izuku so he could sit more comfortably. "So tell me. What happened?"

Izuku bit his lips. It was a mistake in the first place, and now that he thought back to what he had tried to do, his face heated up and he tightened his clench on his savior’s silky suit. He didn't want to tell the man who just saved him... That he had tried to kill himself merely because nobody told him what he wanted to hear. It would sound like he was just seeking attention. He was afraid the man would regret having saved him, after knowing he was just stupid, quirkless deku who couldn't do anything right but still wanted attention when he didn't deserved them.

"Hey." The voice snapped Izuku out of his thoughts. "I can't help you if you don't tell me your problems. People want to end their lives for all kinds of reasons. I am sure that whatever problems you are facing, there is someone in this world, right this moment, that's having the exact same problem as you are. So there’s no need to feel embarrassed. Problems cannot be solved if they remain hidden, you know?"

"Um..." Izuku started. The man's words hit home. Was there really someone who'd also gone through what he had? Who knew what he was feeling? How do they overcome it? How do they deal with it? He wanted to know. "I... I'm quirkless."

There was no visible reactions from the man.

"A-and... I want to be a hero. But... everyone told me I can't do it. Even my mama, even my best friend. Everyone laughed at me. I mean, I get it. I have no power so there’s no way for me to become a hero. Heroes' job is dangerous and if I do become one, I'd only slow everyone down. B-but... I just can't help it! I want to be a hero so bad! I think about it every day! Everything I do is so I can become a hero! Without that... If you take that dream away from me, then I..." Izuku's voice cracked, unable to continue. Streams of tears rolled down his cheeks, blurring his visions. He wanted to bury his face into those broad shoulders, to seek comfort, and to cry to his heart's content. But he didn't want to cause the man any more trouble.

The man stayed silent after Izuku's confession. Izuku waited, panicking. Did he say too much? Was the man mad at him?

"Hey..." the man started. "You don't get to choose what you yearn to be. Sometimes, your heart's words don't match up to what your logical mind's telling you. You know that it's impossible for a quirkless person to become a hero, but your heart only speeds up to the idea of becoming a hero. That cannot be controlled, or suppressed by any means. Doing so would only cause you pain."

"If I can't stop that, then what can I do so I don't feel anymore pain?"

The man turned his head and Izuku was shown the brightest smile he has ever seen. It wasn't the confident, victorious smile All Might symbolically held on his face everywhere he appears. It was the smile of someone giving their all to overcome the obstacles thrown at them. They may not win, but they were trying, and wishing with that hopeful smile on their face, that everything would be all right, that they would win in the end.

"Do what your heart tells you."

"But... But I can't become a hero! I'm quirkless!"

"Other quirkless people may have failed to become a hero. But you're not them. They failed to do so, doesn't mean you will also fail. Many factors lead to failure. Who's to say those factors also apply to you? It's not always the end result that matters; it's the process. If you still failed to become a hero after giving it your all, you can at least look back and say, Hey, I've done everything I can to achieve this dream, but I still failed. So it's not my fault. I've given it my all. You would have no regret. But if you were to give up now, then when you're older, you would look back and think, If I haven't given up back then, maybe... just maybe... I would have achieved this dream. It's my fault for not even giving it a try. Remember. Even if there’s a very small chance of success, it's still a chance. You can't say something is 'impossible' without taking every opportunity to give a go at it."

Izuku didn't know if the man did something with his quirk, but these words were like magic, suddenly clearing up his troubled mind and lighting up his path. All the uncertainty, anxiety vanished from his mind. This was the first time... someone told him...

"You can become a hero."

Izuku's world stopped.

"Believe in that. Give it your best. And see where that leads you. Life is filled with miracles and mystery. If you failed in the end, then oh well. At least you tried and have nothing to regret. If you succeeded, then... You'll be able to prove everyone wrong. You'll show them that the boy they looked down upon is now a hero. They'll have to rely on you to watch their backs. They'll look up to you, admire you, appreciate you... You'll be at a place so high up those bullies can't even reach the bottom of your shoes!"

As the man said this, his entire frame trembled. There was a determined grin on his face, and it lit up that flame of ambition that momentarily disappeared. Izuku shuddered as the infectious smile brought a wave of excitement coursing throughout his body. This was the first time in his life he felt like... He could actually do this! No, he would become a hero, and no one, not even Kacchan, or All Might, could stop him!

Izuku was burning with passion on the rest of the ride home. He opened up to his savior and told him his name, his hero All Might (and how this man was now his new hero), his best friend Kacchan and his explosive personality (of which the man questioned, That doesn't sound very heroic to me... Are you sure he didn't misunderstand the word 'friend’ and ‘hero'?), his favorite person in the world—mama, and pretty much gave the man an autobiography on himself. He also asked the man his name, which the man replied, “My name is Tobita, but call me Gentle! I am aiming to become the Gentle Hero, someone who can save the spirits and heart of the victims with his mere presence and the mention of his name!"

Izuku was surprised to find out that the man was still in high school. He looked much older, or perhaps it was just due to the suit. In response to Izuku's confusion, the young man sheepishly admitted how he did poorly in school and had to drop back two grades. It was like a dam being broken. Many more embarrassing admissions flowed out of his lips. Izuku listened quietly as the young man recounted his life. How he got into a normal school with an okay hero course, but didn't work hard enough and failed all his classes. How he failed the hero license exam four times because he didn't put enough effort into it. And now, all those failures led up to him failing to save someone earlier the day, and was likely to be expelled.

"It's embarrassing, telling you to give it your all, but not staying true to those words myself," Gentle said, letting out an awkward laugh.

"But you saved me."

Gentle seemed to have forgotten that he indeed had just saved Izuku's life, as he perked up with a "huh?" 

"Even after failing so many times, you still didn't give up your hero dream. It's thanks to you that I can live on and give my hero dream a try. Thank you, Gentle. You're my hero."

There was a long silence after that. Izuku cocked his head side ways, and saw a streak of tears on Gentle's cheeks. His expression frozen, eyes widened, lips parted slightly in shock.

"G-Gentle?"

Izuku held onto Gentle's shoulder when the teenager let go of one hand to wipe away his tears.

"It's the first time... first time ever..." Gentle choked out, his voice trembling. "S-see...? I can be a hero, too. I saved someone's life... I'm a hero!"

Izuku wasn't sure if Gentle was still talking to him, but he responded nonetheless.

"Yeah, you're a hero, Gentle!"

You're my hero.

Chapter Text

For the first time Izuku didn’t want to enter his house.

“What’s wrong?” Gentle watched him with a gleeful smile. “Do you need a save? The Gentle Hero is here for your convenience!”

Izuku laughed at the flashing pose Gentle striked. Ever since he told the teenager how he was now Izuku’s favorite hero, the older boy didn’t stop gloating over his confession. Gentle had probably gone through a lot more than what Izuku had, so to hear someone tell him all his efforts weren’t wasted and that he was actually a hero must have felt pretty good. Izuku himself felt like he was sitting on clouds ever since Gentle told him he could become a hero.

“I have been saved enough for the day,” Izuku chuckled. “I can’t just sit and wait for heroes to save me every time I’m in trouble. I need to start saving myself and other people, because that’s what a hero does!”

Gentle’s expression softened upon hearing those words. He crouched down and ruffled Izuku’s fluffy curly hair.

“Nicely said, kid. Now get inside that house and stop making your mom worry, because heroes don’t make other people worry about their well-being.” Gentle took out a pocket-sized notebook with intricate designs, looking as if it came right out of a medieval fantasy world. He scribbled something onto a page near the end and ripped it out, wincing slightly, as if it caused him physical pain to hurt his notebook. “Here. This is my phone number. Call me if you need Gentle the Hero. And about what I said earlier, I too need to stop making people worry about me. I promise, next time you see this face, I will be a whole new Gentle! I will be a hero worthy of your admiration!”

Izuku took the slip of paper and carefully tucked it inside his pocket. “I’ll be waiting!” He walked up to his door and slid his keys inside, unlocking it. He glanced back; Gentle stood there with a soft smile, making sure he made it inside his house safely. Izuku waved at him, grinned, and closed the door behind him…


Something exploded in his face, followed by a shower of glitters.

Izuku stood bewildered as the scene played out.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! IZUKU/IZU-CHAN(Deku)!!!”

His mama, Kacchan, Kacchan’s mama and papa were standing at the doorstep, holding party poppers. Confetti fell all over Izuku and splayed in a mess on the ground.

“What took you so long!? I got here an HOUR ago!” Only Kacchan would talk to him like this on his birthday.

To be honest, that massive blow to his confidence yesterday had totally erased his birthday off of his mind. He should have realized yesterday when his mama told him to come home by himself for these two days because she got some errands to run that something was going on. Her overprotective nature would never let Izuku walk home by himself when he was still this young.

Kacchan’s mama, Mitsuki, whacked Kacchan on his head.

“Dumbass!” She ignored Kacchan’s papa, Masaru’s whispers, language, Micchan! “I told you to walk home with Izuku! What happens if a villain wants to eat some children today and snatches one of you!??”

“I did wait! That idiot never showed up! So I left by myself!”

No you didn’t wait. Izuku wasn’t gonna call him out on it, though, since he could understand where he was coming from. Kacchan would never allow himself to be seen walking home together with Izuku, like they were friends.

“Annnnyway, why don’t we keep the scolding for tomorrow? Today is a day of happiness and celebration! Let’s start by exchanging presents!!” Izuku wondered why his mama looked more excited than he, the birthday boy, was. That thought was thrown to the back of his mind, however, as the two families situated themselves in the living room. At the foot of a big All Might poster was a bunch of presents. Izuku couldn’t sit still. He jumped up from his seat next to Kacchan (who looked annoyed) and bounced excitedly.

“So which one first? Which one first??”

“Hmm? Which one do you want to open first?”

Izuku plunged into the pile of presents, feeling and shaking all of the unmarked boxes. He chose the smallest box in the end.

“I’ll open this one first!”

Kacchan tensed up.

For the past few years Kacchan didn’t get him anything, which always resulted in a heavy head-bashing from Mitsuki the next day. Perhaps Kacchan did it this year to escape his mama’s fist? Izuku wasn’t sure, but he was eager to see what Kacchan had gotten him.

He pealed the horribly wrapped box carefully, so slowly Kacchan had to yell, “Hurry up! I don’t have all day!” And got another whack in the head.

He didn’t know what to expect, but he definitely wasn't expecting a small device designed and colored like the face of All Might with a strap connected to it and a hook on the end. On the strap were red, blue, and yellow beads that spelled out DEKU.

“This is a security alarm for kids. Katsuki spent months saving up his allowance to buy this little thing. He said, and I quote, ‘Deku needs someone to look out for him and I can’t be there all the time.’ He even sold some of his valuable hero collection cards to earn money.”

“Shut up! Shut up you old hag!” Kacchan was blushing furiously. He kept punching his mama in response, which was pretty much the most he would do when it came to his mama. He would never in his life use his quirk and attack her for real.

Izuku rolled the security alarm around in his palm. It was small, lightweight, and easily accessible. He pulled the strap just to test it out. As soon as the strap disconnected from the device, a shrill screeching cry emitted from it, halting all movements in the living room. Izuku hurriedly plugged the strap back in and the cry stopped.

“I-Izu-chan?” His mama started, voice hesitant. “Don’t do that again, o-okay? Unless it’s an emergency.”

“O…okay, mama. Sorry.” Izuku was the closest so he received the worst from it. He definitely wasn’t doing that again unless it was a life and death situation. He turned to Kacchan and gave him his biggest smile to showcase his appreciation. “Thank you so much, Kacchan! I’ll treasure this!”

“Hmph. Whatever.”

Next up, Izuku picked out Mitsuki’s gift. It was a dozen round rubber balls that would explode into a blinding light if certain conditions were made. Mitsuki got him six that explodes on impact and six that explodes six seconds after the initial impact. They were the child toy version of the flash bombs some heroes (and villains) used.

“You’re turning six so these numbers should be easy to remember. I thought you might need something to delay your bullies so you can run away!”

Mitsuki later apologized for accidentally making it 666, the devil’s number.

Masaru’s present was an All Might themed bicycle. Kacchan couldn’t stand Izuku following him around riding a tricycle designed for babies, so he took it upon himself and taught Izuku how to ride without the supporting wheels. It may have taken almost half a year and Kacchan’s almost giving up over a dozen times, but eventually Izuku was able to ride a normal bicycle and Kacchan’s ego was boosted incrementally after that.

Next up was mama’s present. It was a thin envelope.

“I couldn't think of anything else to get you since you pretty much have all the All Might mercs you wanted, so I got you that…”

Now that got him curious. What else did he want that he hadn’t gotten yet?

Izuku teared the envelope and and shook out the content. It fell onto the carpet ground soundlessly. With trembling hands, Izuku held up a golden badge with the letters “Y.H.P.” engraved across the bottom. “Is… Is this—!”

Izuku’s hands trembled as he held onto the crest he had only seen been worn on other, older children’s proud chest.

“You’ve been accepted to Youth Hero Program, Congratulations!” Mama said in her best broadcaster voice, making everyone laugh.

“I-I-I love it! Thank you Mama!” Izuku dived into his mama’s open arms and smothered her with wet kisses, earning more laughs from the family.

Last but not least was the biggest box from papa, even bigger than the box for the bicycle. Izuku unpacked it, only to see another box inside. He cut through that, only to see another slightly smaller box under it. He continued killing boxes for at least thirty minutes until he finally got to the surprise.

It was a game disc.

What a surprise.

If the game had been packaged normally, Izuku would be excited to play it. Now, he along with everyone else were so hateful of the dozens of unnecessary boxes that he simply set the game aside and grumbled, “Stupid papa.”

The game disc was given the silent treatment for the rest of the party. Izuku had a lot of fun and he believed it was sufficient to say that today was the best day in his life! He not only met the one who believed in him, he also received numerous awesome presents (even from Kacchan!) including the news of his enrollment to YHP!!! That was probably the best gift he had received!

By the time the day was over, both families were exhausted. The Bakugo family had to drag an unwilling Kacchan away from mama’s home-made spicy popcorn. He only stopped yelling at the top of his lungs when mama packed the rest into a ziplock bag and let him take it home.

Izuku helped mama clean up the haywire resulting from Bakugo’s presence then he took a shower while mama did dishes. He had to get a good night’s sleep considering he had school tomorrow. But when he passed the living room and saw the game disc, he hesitated. After all, it was still a birthday present and birthday presents were supposed to be opened on the day they were received.

After getting the permission from Mama to only check it out, Izuku raced upstairs into his gaming room and inserted the disc into the console. As he waited for the game to load, he scrutinized the case. The cover was black with only the words “Game of Life” written on it in sketchy, messy scrawls. There was nothing else in, or on, the case. No brand name, summary, game type, no nothing. Izuku wondered what papa was thinking when he bought this game…

The game had finished loading. The startup screen was suspicious as well. It was a completely dark screen with the sentence:

“Click any button to continue.”

Izuku did, and led to the next screen. The same background, but more sentences.

The top was a quote:

“Life is a game. In a world where 80% are VIP players, being quirkless means your Game of Life will be more difficult than the others. No matter your difficulty level, this is the one game everyone has to play. Game Over or refusal to play means the end of your life. Every choice matters. Make your choice wisely.”

[PLAY] (Difficult) Normal Easy
[EXIT] (Death)

Despite how sketchy this game was, there was something about it that made Izuku want to know more. His finger hovered over the confirmation button, the the top choice highlighted. Izuku had almost died, twice, today. He knew how much he valued his life and there was no way he was going to even risk the chance of losing his life again.

He pressed [PLAY].

The screen blacked out, then, as if Izuku had just put on his 3D glasses, the black screen wiggled out of the tv screen and paddled on thin air using its two lower corners. It stopped a few feet away from Izuku, and, with a glass-shattering visual and sound effect, the black rectangle crumbled into tiny pieces, leaving behind a RPG player profile screen with blue tinted letters, much like what one would see with VR goggles.

The bluish screen enlarged and Izuku could see five tabs on top, with the current display being the first tab, PROFILE. Underneath it was a hologram of him wearing a shirt and shorts with slots surrounding him. Next to it was a game-like stat sheet:

Name: Midoriya Izuku
Title: none
LV: 1 EXP: 0/100
HP: 100/100 (0.05/s)
MP: 100/100 (0.05/s)
Age: 6
Quirk(s): none
STR: 3 (5 being average for your age)
DEF: 4
SPE: 4
DEX: 4
LUCK: 8 (changes everyday)
REP points: 0
Techniques: none

Izuku wasn’t sure how long he sat there, just staring dumbly at the screen. The controller had long since fallen onto the ground. It wasn’t until he heard the shower turn off in the bathroom when he snapped out of it. In a rush, he left the game disc inside the console when he shut it down. He made it safely to his bed before mama checked on him. He had promised to go to sleep before she finished showering, and he didn’t want to be scolded on his birthday.

Lying on his bed, Izuku finally accepted the situation. He wasn’t even sure what to accept. That he could now see a VR screen without VR goggles? That he was playing some sort of game that turned his physical body characteristics into stats? He had to look more into this.

The screen had disappeared. Izuku thought back to it, wishing for it to appear, and it did, floating yet again in the air in front of Izuku.

This time he noticed a banner at the bottom of the screen.

"Tutorial: A brief explanation of the control panel."

[CHECK IT OUT]
[CLOSE]

Izuku thought about pressing the first option. But before his finger touched the screen, the option was selected automatically, as if it could be controlled with his mind. Even better. This way Izuku wouldn’t be labeled as the ‘quirkless freak who tried to touch air’.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, master.” A metallic sphere popped into existence. It had a slit across the middle that revealed a wide terrifying eye, and a smaller slit beneath it as a mouth with jagged teeth. It continued in its monotonous voice. “I’m GOLA1412 here for your service. Feel free to call me GOLA!”

“Can I call you something else?”

“No!”

Wow. Its hardheadedness rivaled the hardness of its shell.

Izuku was a little creeped out by the freaky eye that bored into him, unblinking, but he stood his ground. He was aiming to be a hero. He could handle this.

“Now, let us continue. There are five tabs. The first one, PROFILE, shows your profile, obviously. You have to be a complete retard to not understand it.”

Izuku felt a little insulted. Pouting, he glared defiantly at the cyclops creature.

“The second tab, QUESTS, shows the status of your quests, which you don’t have any currently. Quests can be obtained in many ways. They often give satisfactory rewards so make sure you complete as many quests as you can find. Even the side quests can prove beneficial in the long run. You never know when you’ll need a strand of hair from All Might or a catnip.”

Izuku had an urge to protest, but he stuffed it down not wanting GOLA to throw any more casual insults around.

“The third tab, BAZAAR, has five categories of items that you can purchase with your reputation point, which are gained by being known. They are Gadgets, Costumes, Disposable Items, misc, and last but not least… Drrrruuuuumrrrroooooll!”

A fast rhythmic beat echoed in his room. Izuku wondered if he was the only one who could hear it seeing how his mama didn’t barge in panicking.

“QUIRKS!”

“WAIT, QUIRKS!?”

Izuku slapped a hand over his mouth when he let slip a shriek.

“Master, you can talk to me telepathically. I can hear your thoughts.”

“S-s-so you’re saying that… that I can actually buy quirks? Any quirk? Can I have multiple quirks?? What kind of quirks are there??”

“Master, you will be able to unlock the bazaar once you earn a reputation point. But to do that, you’ll need to complete quests.”

Before Izuku could ask more, GOLA continued, “Next tab is MAP. It will show nearby quests and your current location. And the last tab is INVENTORY. You currently have five slots available. More will be unlocked as you level up. It allows you to store and retrieve non-living objects. Same objects can stack. This concludes the tutorial. Do you have any questions, Master?"

“Yes!” Izuku excitedly waved his hand! “So about the quirk!! How do I get a quirk??”

“Master, there're many ways. You can buy quirks in the bazaar for 10,000-100,000 points each. Some rare quests may reward you a quirk upon completion. You can also choose a free quirk every ten levels you level up. Any other questions?”

“Umm… about the inventory…”

Tsk.” GOLA clicked its tongue like it was annoyed. It did a very obvious eyeroll, not even attempting to hide its annoyance.

Izuku gulped. Now he felt bad.

“Last question, I promise! So how do I put stuff into the inventory?”

“Fairly simple. Just put your hand on it and visualize the item inside a slot, it will appear inside. Is that all, Master?”

“Y-Yeah—”

GOLA vanished, its body breaking down into cubes which proceeded to crumble into smaller cubes. Soon, the cubes became as small as air particles and couldn’t be seen by the naked eye.

Izuku lay back down onto his soft pillow. He grabbed his All Might watch from his night stand and tried putting it inside the inventory. It worked on the first try.

“Wow!” He gasped in awe, ogling at the small watch icon in the slot. “Cool!” He whispered. That night, Izuku played around with the inventory for a long time until he finally fell asleep. In his dream, he saw himself getting into the best hero school, UA high school, and meeting many popular heroes. He made many friends, became popular, and even talked with All Might again! The dream ended with him saving All Might’s life and being hailed a hero by the public.

The next morning, Izuku woke up to All Might’s shouts of “I’m here! I’m here!” He turned off his blaring alarm in a swift motion and rolled out of the bed. Tiny feet made contact with the cold floor, making him shiver.

As he was getting ready for school, he spotted the presents he received yesterday. It was definitely a smart move to carry a security alarm on him at all time, but he didn’t want to risk the strap accidentally disconnecting and causing a false alarm. Therefore, he stored it into a slot in the inventory (1/5). Next up, he stored the 12 mini flash bombs, taking up two slots, with one being those that exploded upon impact (2/5), and the second being those that took six seconds to explode (3/5). Then Izuku saw the bike. It would be convenient to have a transportation tool wherever he went, but its disappearance would cause his mama to panic, so that was a no-go. He looked around his room, and at last decided to store all his hero analysis notebooks in the inventory. They all took up one slot because they were the same type of items (4/5). Those were his treasures and losing them would be painful. Izuku left the last slot empty for emergencies.

During breakfast, Izuku couldn’t stop wiggling in his chair. On one hand, he desperately wanted to tell his mama what happened last night. But on the other hand, he was afraid of her response. His mama was an easily scared person. It was very likely for her to react negatively to the Game of Life. Maybe she’d even think something was wrong with his head and take him to the hospital. Or scold him for making things up. But again, she was the most important person in his life. After everything she’d done for him, he felt like she deserved to know.

“Is something the matter?”

Izuku twirled his spoon absentmindedly.

“No…not really. I’ll tell you later, mama.”

Now wasn’t the time. He’d tell her when he had everything figured out. It was still possible that somebody was playing a trick on him.

When he finished eating, he waited by the entrance as he watched mama take out her bicycle from the backyard. Mama always took him to school on a bike, but today, Izuku wanted to try something different.

“Mama! Can I ride my new bike to school?”

Mama bit her lips, frowning. “Okay, but mama’s riding with you. And we’re not riding on the street. It’s too dangerous for you.”

“Yeah!”

After getting her confirmation, Izuku eagerly brought out his new All Might bicycle. The red, blue, and yellow glowed under the morning sun, much like All Might’s presence in the face of danger.

“Do you have your security alarm on you?”

Izuku pushed his hand into his pocket, retrieved the item from inventory, and brought it out. “It’s in my pocket!”

“Good boy.” Mama smiled. She got on the bike, and Izuku did the same alongside her. “Izuku, you ride in the front, so mama can keep an eye on you.”

“Okay!”

The ride to school was a totally different experience. Walking was too slow, sitting in a car made it too fast. Bicycling was just the right pace to have a good look at the surroundings before the scenery changed.

School wasn’t very far from their house, so even with Izuku riding in a slow speed for safety reasons, they arrived at the school in less than ten minutes. Perhaps it was his imagination, but Izuku felt like everyone was watching him…no, staring at his bike, when he entered the school, his mama waving goodbye by the entrance.

For the first time, Izuku didn’t cower under the stares. He felt powerful. Just like whenever he dressed in his mini All Might one-piece, he felt motivated and that he could succeed in anything. The bike seemed to have the same effect on his spirit.

The day went by in a flash. Izuku had his entire mind on the YHP that he barely caught onto what the teacher was saying. The Game of Life screen also kept him distracted during class. After flipping through the dictionary, he decided to call it 'Digitalization,' which was, and he quote, 'the process of converting information into a digital format'. There was no better name for a game that turned his entire life into…a digital game.

As it turned out, Izuku could use Digitalization to observe other people’s levels. It occurred when he stared at Kacchan and wondered what Kacchan’s level was.

“You have learned [Technique: Observe Lv 1]!”
Bakugo Katsuki Lv 1

Izuku was surprised to find that Kacchan was the same level as he was. Perhaps a person’s level was determined by their age? Or their grade in school? To testify his hypothesis, Izuku used Observe on the rest of his classmates.

[Observe] +1!

The notification popped up every time he used it, and soon Observe had reached level 2. As it turned out, everyone in his class was level 1. It made Izuku feel a little bit better, that quirk didn’t play a role in a person’s level.

Just for fun, Izuku also observed his teacher, Yama-sensei, a bald, middle-aged man with a triangle shaped head. His features were all crumbled together and he made grumpy frowning faces at everyone, as if everyone owed him money. His quirk allowed him to blend into the mountain upon contact. He turned out to only be at level 5.

Izuku continued playing around with Observe for the rest of the day. Kacchan didn’t seem to pay him any mind, and he didn’t actively try to initiate a conversation either. Kacchan seemed to be in a bad mood after their homeroom teacher scolded him early in the morning for something Izuku was unsure of, and that caused him to literally explode every time someone talked to him. Everyone could sense his bad mood and stayed out of his path for the rest of the day.

When school ended, Izuku met Kacchan’s mother, Mitsuki, at the gate who was there to pick up Kacchan. When she saw Izuku and his mama getting on their respective bikes, she complimented them on how it was a good exercise and a good bonding time between family members. She wished she could do the same with Kacchan, but that was even less likely than his being nice to her for once.

That night, Izuku barely got any homework done because he was so excited for YHP tomorrow. He couldn’t even sleep. So he reread all his superhero comics until sleep took over him.

The next morning, Izuku woke up to his mama tickling his feet. He dodged and pushed her hands away, giggling, but in the end her flimsy fingers always wiggled their way to his ticklish spots.

“M-ma… mama… s-stop…” Izuku laughed so hard he was crying. While avoiding those menacing fingers, he accidentally kicked mama in the face.

“Now I got you, little devil,” Mama faked an evil laugh. It was such a bad imitation Izuku almost burst out laughing again, and he did when mama tickled his captured feet continuously until he surrendered.

“Im up! Im up!” Izuku sat up, clenching his stomach and wheezing. His cheeks still had tracks of tears on them, and his mouth was so sore from smiling he swore he would never do this to anyone, not even someone he greatly disliked. It was too cruel.

Aside from waking up, Izuku did everything else as fast as possible. He brushed his teeth at a flying speed, splashed water on his face, wiped them dry, and rubbed lotion all over, making a mess of his face and had to have his mama fix it all up. He got dressed in his favorite All Might t-shirt and a pair of dark green shorts. As he wolfed down his cereal, Izuku asked after swallowing his mouthful.

“Is Kacchan going?”

“Unfortunately no, honey. Mitsuki signed him up for drum lessons on the weekends. Katsuki-kun asked for it himself, actually. He said it’s a musical instrument befitting of his quirk and personality.”

“Oh.” Izuku resumed eating. He didn’t like the feeling of satisfaction that rose within him upon hearing that Kacchan wouldn’t be accompanying and tormenting him in YHP too. It made him feel guilty, like he’d done something wrong.

The rest of the breakfast was filled with Izuku bouncing around in his seat in excitement and his mama smiling softly. When the two were ready to leave the house, his mama paused in front of her bike, and gave him a serious look.

“Izuku. You know… Mama is very sorry. I’ve said something very awful to you back then. I gave up on you when you needed me the most. I was afraid to let you pursue your dream because I think it’s too far out of the reach of a quirkless boy, and that fear of mine dragged you down. I should have been there for you, supporting your dream, giving you the push on your back you desperately needed, like a mother should do. I’m so sorry for realizing that too late. But starting now, you have mama’s support no matter what. Mama has faith in you. Izuku, you can be a hero. Can you forgive mama?”

Familiar burning returned to his eyes. Izuku didn’t say anything; he simply ran into mama’s open arms and hugged her with all his might, breathing in her scent, mesmerizing in her touch, not wanting to let go. He thought back to how he had wanted to end his life, yet here mama was supporting him deep inside, and he never knew. He was so glad Gentle had saved him yesterday. Otherwise, what would happen to mama?

“I forgive you, mama.”

The ride to YHP was silent. He caught mama sneaking glances at him, and he just grinned, pressing a fist to his chest, eyes determined. As they pulled up to YHP, there was already a teacher at the entrance. She was a young woman with brown hair wrapped up in a loose bun. Her large, soft caramel eyes were clear like the cloudless sky.

“Welcome to Youth Hero Program. I’m Shimura-sensei. You must be Midoriya-san and Izuku-kun!” Shimura-sensei said with a big smile.

“Nice to meet you, Shimura-san. I’ll be entrusting Izuku to you.” Mama turned to him as he got off his bike. “Now, go become a hero, Izuku!”

“Just watch me, mama! I’ll be the biggest hero you’ve ever seen!” With one last hug and kiss from mama, Izuku walked his bike towards the kind lady, watching mama speed away into the distance.

Chapter Text

Y.H.P. was the acronym for Youth Hero Program. It was an after-school program designed for children who dreamed of becoming a hero. It began many years ago when All Might made his debut as the Symbol of Peace. His debut inspired many people to become heroes, and the nation was in desperate need of an institution to satisfy those children’s hero dreams when too many children got injured while attempting to commit heroic acts in public.

And thus, YHP was established to take in those children and teach them how to use their quirks accurately, how they can be applied to save and rescue missions, and to give them a taste of the job as a hero by allowing them to commit heroic acts under safe conditions and pro heroes’ supervision.

Over the years, rate of illegal public usage of quirks had decreased. Although the police couldn’t punish the children for committing that offense, they could gave warnings to the parents, but that often didn’t do much. Illegal use of quirks wasn’t an extremely severe crime, unless the offender had caused serious injury to people and/or the environment. The most they would receive was a verbal warning and probably a negative counseling on their first attempt. If they were a student, the school they attend may choose to suspend the student if they felt necessary.

However, if destruction of property, and/or injury or even death to another individual was factored, then the minor would be placed in juvenile detention center for up to a year and their school could choose to expel them. If it was an adult, they would be in prison for up to three years, depending on the severity of the crime.

YHP had also taught many current pro heroes. Their reputation was fairly high in the public and was wildly registered as “the program you must send your kids to if you want them to become heroes.” There were many Youth Hero Programs all around the nation to make up for the high registration rate. Each installation only had thirty or so children in the program at once. And as the oldest children (age 12) leave the program, the youngest ones (age 6) would be accepted into the program.

YHP consisted of one big classroom and an indoor pool. The staff consisted of roughly three teachers and three heroes. Pro Heroes were often invited to gave speeches, classes, and demonstrations, and to supervise students in activities. They were paid but many refused and instead did it for free.

Izuku paid close attention as Shimura-sensei gave him a quick tour of the place. He noticed the map tab of the screen now displayed a perfect 3D map of the schoolhouse. At the end of the tour, Shimura-sensei led him to the classroom, “And here’s where you’ll meet your friends for the next six years. Are you ready?”

Izuku nodded, swallowing thickly.

“Oh, and put your badge on. It’s identification that you’re now officially a part of the YHP program.” After Izuku proudly pinned the badge onto his shirt, Shimura-sensei gave him a confident smile and a thumbs up. “You’ll be fine, Izuku-kun. They are all very nice children.”

Izuku nodded meekly and braced himself as Shimura-sensei opened the door… to a sunny green field full of laughing children running around. Izuku froze. He cranked his neck to check the ceiling, which was a cloudless sky so real you wouldn’t think there was a ceiling at all.

“Genji-sensei, the new student’s here!” Shimura-sensei called out to a male teacher standing on a swing attached to a giant oak tree. Many children surrounding him were trying to drag him down from the swing. Genji-sensei perked up when he heard his name, then he snapped his finger, and the room returned to an ordinary classroom. “Wait here,” Shimura-sensei whispered to Izuku as she shut the door.

Izuku paced back and forth outside the doorway, wringing his hands together nervously as the reluctant shuffling of the children and the sound of chairs scraping the floor filled his ears.

“Now now now. We’ll continue after we introduced the new student,” came Genji-sensei’s voice.

“New student is here!??” One kid shouted.

“I heard it’s a boy!”

“I heard it’s a girl!”

“Is he cute? What’s his quirk? Can he fly? Ohhhh I wanna see someone flyyyy!!”

“Class, calm down. You’ll see in a second.” Shimura-sensei called out in Izuku’s direction. “Izuku-kun, are you ready?”

Izuku nodded despite having no one around to see it. He took a deep breath as he placed his hand on the door handle. With heart pumping loudly against his chest, he slid the door open and stepped through the door with straightened back and head held high. Mama always told him that no matter how scared he was, if he walked like he got this, he would succeed.

He made his way to the blackboard with his eyes staring directly forward. Without looking at his classmates, he turned around and scrawled his name on the board.

“Why don’t you introduce yourself? Anything you want the class to know about you.” Shimura-sensei said when he finished.

“O-okay,” Izuku squeaked as he faced the class. “M-my name is——”

His voice got caught up in his throat when he took a good look of his classmate.

GOLA… What is this?? He thought.

“This means these people have quests to offer.” GOLA's voice replied in his mind.

Izuku stared wide-eyed at three of his classmates who had an exclamation mark floating above their heads.

“How to I accept these quests?”

“The quest notification will appear when you near them.”

“Izuku-kun?”

Shimura-sensei’s voice snapped Izuku out of his thoughts.

“A-ah, I’m sorry! I-I spaced out!” The class giggled at Izuku’s frantic stuttering. His face burned in embarrassment as he finished his introduction quickly. “M-my name is Midoriya Izuku. I’m six years old and I'm from Aldera Elementary School. Um… My favorite hero is All Might, b-but my idol is Gentle.”

The class murmured, “Who’s Gentle? Never heard of him.”

“Gentle is the hero who saved my life and gave me hopes for my dream.” Izuku explained. And here came the bomb. “I… I’m quirkless.”

Izuku had to force himself not to look down in fear of rejection. The class looked surprised, but they didn’t look at him with pity in their eyes, or contempt. It was just slight surprise. That was it.

“Everyone told me I can’t be a hero because I’m quirkless, but Gentle was the first person who told me I can and I will. He made me feel powerful. He gave me confidence and a reason to live. That’s why he’s my hero.”

The class was quiet and there was understanding in some children’s eyes. After a moment, Shimura-sensei coughed, “That’s great to hear, Izuku-kun. I’m glad you’re able to find that person in your life. The one who inspires you, motivates you, and is the reason behind your strength. Now, is there anything else you’d like to share? Like hobbies? What do you do in your free time?”

Izuku felt his face heat up when he realized he had been talking about Gentle the entire time, and not a single thing about himself. “A-ah, I’m sorry!” He scratched his head awkwardly as the class laughed, not a jeering laughter, but a light-hearted laugh. “My hobbies are collecting hero cards a-and catching bugs. T-that’s all.”

“Thank you, Izuku-kun. Your seat is between Henshin-kun and Manami-chan.”

There was only one empty seat. A boy with short orange hair and large, curious eyes was on the left of it, and a girl with messy hair hiding her face was on the other side. Interestingly, she had an exclamation mark above her head.

To be safe, Izuku observed as he made his way down the rows

[Observe] +1
Namamono Henshin Lv5

[Observe] +1
Aiba Manami Lv8

When he settled himself in between the two of them, he received the quest notification.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: A Precious Smile]

Description: Aiba Manami is a girl with lots of issues troubling her. Be a hero to her and make her smile.
Time Limit: none
Reward: 100 EXP, 1 reputation point
Failure: (A hero should never allow themselves to fail!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

This was the first quest Izuku received; of course he had to accept. The first option was selected as soon as his thought was received by the system.

Aiba’s head was bowed, but Izuku could see her peaking at him through her bangs. When she was caught staring, she quickly smoothed out her hair in an attempt to act casual and cover up her eyes in the process.

“Hi, I’m Izuku. You must be Ai—I mean, Manami-chan.” Izuku quickly corrected himself. He wasn’t supposed to know her full name yet. “Nice to meet you.” He offered a hand, which Aiba took in a loose grip.

“Nice to meet you,” she whispered.

“How old are you?”

“…eight.”

No wonder her level is so high, Izuku wondered. But then how come Yama-sensei’s level is only five?

“So I guess you’ve been here for a while! I hope we can be friends! Maybe you can tell me what YHP is like later…” Izuku added when she didn’t respond, “if you feel like it.”

After a while, Aiba nodded. Izuku felt a tap on his shoulder. Namamono took back his hand and whispered, “Don’t mind her. She’s always like that. She’s also quirkless.”

Izuku paled, a horrible feeling rising in his stomach. He thought of all the times he tried to make new friends, and would later see someone telling them he was quirkless. Later, the new friend he made would stop talking to him. He hated when people tell others that. Especially people he was trying to be friends with. It made him feel like they were trying to say, “He’s quirkless, so don’t be friends with him.”

Before he could hold back, Izuku blurted out, “It’s none of your business. If Manami-chan doesn’t want me to know, then she won’t tell me. It’s rude to speak for her.”

Izuku was inwardly freaking out as Namamono’s face turned red, then paled. He rarely, if ever, talked to someone like this. The few times he tried standing up to Kacchan always ended up with him being a crying mess by the end of the day. He should have watched what he say, especially to someone he met for the first time. A quirkless kid like him shouldn’t act so snarky towards someone with a quirk.

Fearing Namamono’s reactions, Izuku avoided looking at anything but the blackboard for the rest of the class.

After the teachers explained to them their schedule for the day, their break continued. Genji-sensei, whose level turned out to be twenty-five, turned the room into nature once again. As soon as words of permission left Shimura-sensei’s lips, the active ones broke into a run across the clear horizon. The more reserved ones stayed in their own little groups, while the remaining children were by themselves.

Izuku hurried after Aiba who sat down on one of the swings. He flopped down on the swing next to her and began, “Hey.”

Aiba didn’t respond.

“I’m… really sorry for what Henshin-kun said today. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. So… don’t take it to heart.”

Aiba was fiddling with her hair as she kicked the swing into motion. After a while, she murmured, “I’m used to it. He’s just an idiot. He always says things without thinking. See?” She pointed at something, someone. It was Namamono. He rushed at them with both hands behind his back.

Izuku stilled, hands clutching the ropes tightly. His fear grew with every step the other boy took towards them. For a moment, the image of Kacchan overlapped with Namamono. Their form enlarged and their mouth cracked into a gaping, thirsty grin.

Izuku shut his eyes when the beast arrived.

“Um… Manami-san…”

He heard. It was a timid, shy voice. The completely opposite of what he had envisioned.

“I’m sorry for being so rude to you.” Izuku snapped his eyes open in surprise. He wasn’t expecting an apology of all things. “I wasn’t thinking when I said that. I didn’t mean to offend you. P-please forgive me.” Namamono bowed low, body quivering slightly.

“What is it this time?” To Izuku’s surprise, Aiba sighed. “It better not be your lunch. Your mom’s meat buns sure are delicious but I’m not eating your lunch again and leaving you to starve. Stop punishing yourself physically every time you offend someone.”

“That’s not it.” Namamono straightened himself and brought his hands to the front, opening his palm carefully, revealing a four-leaf clover. “It’s my treasure. I’ve had it for years and always kept it beside me as a lucky charm. I’m giving this to you to prove it to you that this will be my last time offending you.”

“Don’t give it to me.” Aiba glanced at Izuku. It was the first time Izuku saw her eyes. They were large, beautiful pink eyes with ringed pupils. “It’s our new student who you angered today, not me. So if you want to apologize, go to him.”

Izuku suddenly grew anxious when the attention shifted to him. Before his imagination could run wild with this situation, Namamono bowed low and presented the four-leaf clover to him.

“I’m sorry, Midoriya-kun! Please forgive me! I promise I’ll think before I talk next time!”

“Y-you don’t have to—!”

“Just accept it.” Aiba shook her head and actually chuckled. “He won’t leave you alone unless you accept his apology.”

“O-okay then…” Izuku let out a dry laugh and took the four-leaf clover.

“Ping!”

“You have received [Four-leaf Clover] (LUCK+4 for 30 min). Simply store the item into the inventory and equip it to use it.”

All the noise dimmed as Izuku focused on the notification that popped up the moment his fingers touched the plant.

“I thought I can only put non-living items inside?” Izuku thought. GOLA’s voice replied instantly in his head.

“Yes, but this item has a special effect, which makes it a Disposable Item. That means it’s something you can use once and throw away. Any items in the four categories, costume, gadgets, disposable items, and misc can be stored inside the inventory.”

Izuku willed the notification to close then examined the little lucky charm. It was amazing how something so small and easily overlooked could be this powerful. He marveled at it for a couple minutes more, then shoved it into his pocket, hiding his hand from plain view and storing it into his inventory to conserve its condition.

“So…” Aiba began.

“Yes!!” It was then that Izuku noticed the absence of Namamono.

“That Gentle hero you mentioned earlier… You said he saved you and supported your hero dream.”

“Yes he did! He didn’t even know me, yet he put his believed me that I can become a hero!”

“Can you tell me…” Aiba began fiddling with her hair again. She bit her lips, hesitated, then said in a voice so quiet Izuku almost didn’t hear it. “Where do you find someone like that?”

“Someone like… Gentle?”

“Yeah. Someone who tells you ‘You can become a hero’, ‘I believe in you’, things like that. Where do you find such a person?”

Aiba tilted her head and Izuku got a clear view of her face. Her watery eyes were filled with uncertainty and hopelessness as they fixated on Izuku with an insurmountable amount of force and resolution. Her entire body trembled and her grip on the ropes attached to the swing tightened.

“I…” Izuku didn’t know what to say. He had met Gentle by chance. Was there a second Gentle in this world? If there was, how to find them?

The silence dragged on as Izuku wrecked his brain for something to say. Anything.

“I… I’m right here.” Somehow those words were able to form from his blank slate of mind. “I will be your Gentle.”

“What do you mean…”

Izuku placed a hand on his chest, unwavering gaze meeting Aiba’s eyes. This was the only thing he thought of and he just had to go with the flow.

At this moment, Gentle’s voice whispered in his ears, and Izuku let the words flow out of his lips.

“Manami-chan. I believe in you. Whatever dream you have, I believe you can achieve it. Don’t ever stop trying. Remember. Even if there’s a very small chance of success, it's still a chance. You can't say something is 'impossible' without taking every opportunity to give a go at it. You have to believe in yourself and tell yourself, ‘I can do it.’

Aiba’s eyes was overflowing with tears at the end of Izuku’s encouragement. He couldn’t find a Gentle for her, but he could become her Gentle. Just like what Gentle did to him, he would now pass down the wise words that motivated him to another quirkless person in need.

“N-no, you’re lying. Why…” Aiba’s body shook violently with each sob that escaped her quivering lips. “You don't even know me. Why would you…”

“Because you look like a hero to me,” Izuku whispered, “And I’d hate to see you give up your dream.”

“T-t-thank you…” Aiba choked out as tears streamed down her face. She covered her face in her hands, head bowed low so her hair could cover her tears.

Izuku thought back to yesterday, when he wanted to bury his face into Gentle’s shoulder and cry to his heart’s content. Aiba must be feeling the same way. The fire that burned in the pit of his stomach, the way his heart sped up at the words and his vision brightened, the adrenaline that coursed throughout his body and made him feel like he could punch through a wall if he wanted to, and the urge to hold onto someone and bawl his eyes out.

So he rose from his swing and knelt down in front of Aiba. He touched her shoulder gently, to make sure he didn’t scare her and that she was alright with physical contact, and wrapped his arms around her, letting her bury her face into the crook of his neck and allowing her sobs to be muffled by his shirt. After a while, the sobbing girl hesitantly wrapped her arms around him.

They stayed like that for a while, not caring what others would think if they saw the scene. Izuku had dealt with worse kinds of reactions, so this was no biggie. He supposed Aiba had too, judging from her reactions. When the scenery around them returned to their normal, spacious classroom, signaling the end of break, Aiba loosened her hold and Izuku leaned back. She glanced away when Izuku asked, “Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah…” Her voice was a little rough. “Thank you, Izuku. Thank you for being there for me.”

A warm feeling blossomed in Izuku’s chest, causing his lips to upturn involuntarily. “You’re welcome.”

“You don’t mind me calling you Izuku, do you?”

“Nonono, I don’t mind! What about you? Do you mind me calling you Manami-chan?”

“No,” Manami smiled. It was a beautiful smile, like the first rays of sunlight that peaked through the curtains on an early morning.

“Not at all.”

[Quest — A Precious Smile — completed!]
[Leveled up!]

Reputation Point +1
[The Lover] title has been unlocked. More information can be found on the Titles/Achievements page.”

Chapter Text

During the next class, the teachers showed them a documentary on heroes and quirks. It was a film Izuku had watched so many times if he watched any more he was sure his eyes would bleed.

While all the other students were giving their full attention to the screen, Izuku chanted GOLA’s name three times in his mind. On the third time, the metallic little cyclops popped into existence, the bacon hanging out of its wide mouth inches away from Izuku’s nose.

“WOAHHH!” Izuku jerked back in his seat, arms flailing and hitting the boy behind him. The wolf-eared boy hissed at him as he clutched his bleeding nose in pain. “I-I-I’m s-so sorry…” The boy ignored his profuse apology and stormed his way out of class.

The murmurs died down when Shimura-sensei made her annoyance shown.

GOLA had a nasty smirk on its face when Izuku glared at him.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, master.” It sneered, and Izuku wanted so desperately to punch that fa—no, what was he thinking? That was something Kacchan would do. He had to control himself.

“Do you even need to eat?” Izuku grumbled instead in his mind.

“Do humans need cookies to survive?”

“No?”

“Then why do humans eat cookies? Why do humans sing, dance, watch movies, do so many things that aren’t necessary for survival?”

Izuku had no answer for that.

“The answer is because it brings them joy.” Another slice of juicy bacon materialized in thin air and GOLA snatched it inside its mouth with its long tongue. “If humans are allowed to do things for their enjoyment, why am I not allowed? Why do I get questioned for enjoying myself? Don’t you think that’s unfair?”

“Ugh. Yeah. You're right. Sorry.” Izuku bowed his head in shame. The conversation curved downward so quickly he couldn’t react in time. He could only go with what GOLA said.

“C’mon master. Don’t look so down. You just made your first achievement! You should be proud of yourself! Look!” The profile screen appeared and GOLA tapped a crown icon next to Izuku’s name (that wasn’t there before). A new screen override the first one, showing a bookshelf with dozens of locked trophies. The first one was unlocked and the name plate said “The Lover”.

“Cool!” Izuku marveled at the sight. The trophy looked so real, almost like he could touch it. “What does it do?”

“Each title comes with a quirk. You cannot use your unlocked titles and quirks until you die and restart from a save point. At that moment, you’re allowed to choose a title and when your game restarts, you will be gifted with that quirk and any additional effects that comes with it.”

“So what’s the quirk for The Lover?”

GOLA tapped the trophy and a description popped up. It read, “‘The Lover’ can be unlocked by charming a person. It comes with the quirk: Charm (anyone who sees your face will fall in love with you and do anything you say. It doesn’t affect those who’re already in love with you)”

“Fall in love? Ewww…” Izuku pouted. Whenever someone mentioned love, there were always kissing and touching in inappropriate places involved. Izuku found them gross. He didn’t want to taste other people’s drool thank you very much. “No thank you.”

“Are you sure? You can gain your first quirk this way.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Plus,” Izuku frowned. “I can only use it when I die, right? I really don’t wanna die…”

“Okay. Whatever you say, master. I do agree though. No kissing. It’s gross having to taste other’s blood.”

Izuku glanced at GOLA’s sharp gleaming teeth. Yeah. He could imagine why.

“So how to I make a save point?”

“Master, just simply call me and I will save the game for you. Game is saved automatically after quest completions and achievements.”

“Oh, okay. Also, I gained a reputation point! Does that mean I can open the bazaar now?”

“See for yourself, master.”

GOLA selected the bazaar tab and a wide range of items displayed:

Quirks Costumes Gadgets Disposable Items Misc
One Punch 100,000pts Digital Goggles 7000pts Devil's Mask 50,000pts (changes appearance at will) Cataclysm 100,000pts (destroys this planet) PS4 1000pts
Timetravel 70,000pts Invisible body suit 5000pts (swim SPE +6) Time Travel Microwave 30,000pts Death Note (x1 page) 50,000pts Fake ID 500pts
Shapeshifting 70,000pts SmashGuard Steel-Toed Running Boots 3000pts (SPE +3 STR +4) Elmore Ghost Motorbike 10,000pts Remover Round (x1) 1000pts Petit Fours (x1) 300pts
Shadow Manipulation 50,000 pts SAP Defense Gloves 3000pts (STR +4) Pistol: Beretta M9 5000pts Red/Blue Potion (x1) 500pts (restore half of HP/MP) Toothbrush 10pts
Mind-reading 50,000 pts Airwalkers 2000pts Portal Sticker Set (PSS) 3000pts Voicechanger Bubblegum (x1 piece) 200pts Lifesaver candy (x1) 1pt

And there were much more. The only thing Izuku could buy with the one point he had in his possession was a piece of lifesaver candy. Even a regular toothbrush that didn’t have any unique attributes cost 10 points. Izuku could only exit the page with a disappointed sigh. Well, at least he now knew that helping people solve their emotional problems could earn him reputation points.

Before Izuku closed the screen completely, he checked his profile stats:

 

Name: Midoriya Izuku
Title: none
LV: 2 EXP: 0/200 (required EXP doubles every level)
HP: 150/150 (0.05/s)
MP: 150/150 (0.05/s)
Age: 6
Quirk(s): none
STR: 3 (5 being average for your age)
DEF: 4
SPE: 4
DEX: 4
Attribute points: 1
LUCK: 5 (changes everyday)
REP points: 1
Techniques: Observe Lv 2 (78/150 EXP): observe other’s stats.
MP usage: 5MP per use
(More information will reveal as this technique levels up.)

Izuku noticed that his luck had gone down from eight to five. Nothing horrible had happened today so he guessed five meant average. He hoped he would never go under that. Who knew what could happen.

He also earned one attribute point, which he added to STRENGTH without hesitation. On the inventory page, an extra slot appeared, making it 5/6.

Izuku then closed the screen and spent the rest of the films chatting with GOLA. Apparently GOLA had a lover who was the GOLA for another Digitalization. When Izuku asked if there were other people in this world with Digitalization, GOLA replied with “Only one Game of Life is allowed per world, otherwise it’ll mess up the equilibrium.” Izuku didn’t know what that last word mean, but when he was about to ask, the film was over and it was lunch time.


One of the highlights of YHP was that they allowed students to experience real-life hero work and use their quirks in public under the supervision of pro heroes. Every week, they allowed students to form into groups and walk around the street, searching for opportunities to help people, with or without the usage of their quirks. They could also buy lunch if they haven’t brought any.

“To become a hero, what do you have to do?” Shimura-sensei cupped a hand around her ear.

The class sang in unison, “A good deed every day!”

“That’s right! You don’t have to fight villains to become a hero. There’re many types of heroes, and most heroes deal with search and rescue missions. Many more deal with every day issues. A hero isn’t measured by age, experience, or appearance. It’s by what you do, and how you do it. As usual, today we’re going to separate you into groups of five! Each of you will be led by a clone of Ectoplasm-sensei!”

The door opened and a tall, slender man walked in. He had a scary appearance. Large, soulless blank eyes behind a pair of glasses, exposed teeth, and arms so thin his skin appeared to be tightly wrapped around his bones with no flesh in between, very much like a skeleton that walked right out of a horror movie. His legs appeared to be prosthetic, making Izuku wonder about what he had been through.

When the man’s blank eyes glanced at Izuku, he couldn’t help but cower into his seat.

“Don’t be afraid of him,” Namamono whispered, leaning into Izuku's personal bubble. “He’s as soft as a puppy. You should have seen that other time we caught him singing in the showers. It was—”

“Namamono Henshin.”

Namamono flinched. He backed away from Izuku inch by inch until his head was back in his personal space, then he squeaked, “Yes, sensei?”

“Perhaps you’d like to accompany me next time I go to karaoke. I’m sure we’ll have a splendid time pouring our souls into songs.”

“N-no, thank you, s-sensei.”

Namamono made himself as small as possible, refusing to meet Ectoplasm's eyes.

“No, no, I insist.” Ectoplasm gave a crooked grin. Even those used to his presence involuntarily shuddered. If possible, Namamono curled even more into himself.

“Stop messing with the kids, Ectoplasm-sensei,” Shimura-sensei laughed and hit the bony man lightly on the shoulder. “Anyway kids, today we have invited a new hero to tag along!”

This got the class into a heated chatter. Izuku imagined All Might walking through the door. He knew it was very unlikely, since they couldn’t have a famous hero walking with them on the street. That was just begging to be ambushed by fans and calling for the media’s attention. So it must be an average hero, like the Waterhose couple, or a new hero.

“Let us welcome Eraserhead-sensei!”

The door slid open slowly and a young man around Gentle’s age dragged his body through the door. He had shaggy dark hair that fell slightly over his dark eyes and was dressed in all black clothing. Strange white strips of fabrics wrapped around his neck like a scarf. All the students hitched a breath at his grim appearance. Izuku had never seen a hero looking so gloomy before.

One student tried to break the silence. “I know! It’s called being emo! I read it on the internet!” He exclaimed, jumping out of his seat and floating in the air.

The hero, Eraserhead, responded by glaring at the boy. As if an invisible wind was blowing at him, his hair began to float, every single strand sticking up against gravity. His eyes also started glowing red.

The boy who was floating previously suddenly lost control of his quirk and dropped onto his seat heavily. The class went dead silent. Even a pin-drop could be heard.

Eraserhead was the one who broke the silence. “My quirk allows me to temporarily erase other’s quirk,” he drawled. “If I see any of you brats using your quirks inappropriately, or using them for something that can be accomplished without the need to flaunt your powers, then I won’t hesitate to erase your quirk. Are we clear?”

No one made a sound. Everyone simply nodded.

The tense atmosphere lasted until everyone was separated to their groups. Some complained about not being with their friends, some didn’t care. Izuku was in a group with Manami, a pink girl, and, fortunately for him, the remaining two of his quest targets. They were a blond dazzling kid and a purple-haired boy with bangs so long they covered his eyes completely.

When Izuku circled up with his teammates, he received the quest notification.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Fear of Quirk (Aoyama Yuuga)]

Description: Aoyama Yuuga has some traumatizing experiences with his quirk. Help him get over his fears of his quirk.
Time Limit: none
Reward: 200 EXP, 1 reputation point
Failure: (A hero should never allow themselves to fail!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Fear of Quirk (Shinsou Hitoshi)]

Description: Shinsou Hitoshi sees his quirk as a dangerous, evil power. Help him realize that his power is nothing to be feared of.
Time Limit: none
Reward: 200 EXP, 1 reputation point
Failure: (A hero should never allow themselves to fail!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

Izuku accepted both quests without hesitation.

“Alright everyone! Now that we’re a team, we should get to know each others first! That’ll make us easier to work together,” the pink girl started. Aiba tucked a strand of hair behind her ears so her vision wasn't blocked. Aoyama rested his chin in both hands as he fluttered his long eye lashes. Shinsou wasn’t looking at anyone in particular, not that Izuku could tell. “I’ll go first! I’m Ashido Mina! Just call me Mina! My quirk is acid! It’s really strong and can melt your skin, so be careful not to be too close to me when I use it!”

Everyone in the group shuddered at her description.

“You’re next, new kid!” Mina pointed at Izuku, who jumped out of his seat when his name was called.

“Y-yes! Um… My name is Midoriya Izuku, and I’m quirkless. But I’ll do my best to help!”

As soon as he finished, Aoyama began in a flippant tone, “Bonjour. My name is Aoyama Yuuga. My quirk is Naval Laser and I can shoot laser out of my belly button☆~!”

Izuku had to hold back his urge to flash out his notebook and jot down all the possibilities of such a quirk be traumatic.

It was Manami’s turn next.

“I’m Aiba Manami and I’m quirkless. But I’ll try my best.”

When it was the turn of the last member of their group, Shinsou merely murmured, “Shinsou Hitoshi” before turning away, not looking at them.

“What’s your quirk?”

“…Brainwashing.”

“What does it do? Can you, like, control people?” Izuku asked.

“Pretty much.”

Izuku understood why he would think of it as an evil power. After all, it was the type of power a villain in a superhero manga would possess. Izuku could imagine the type of comments others had made regarding Shinsou’s quirk, and these must have given the other boy a negative view on it.

Sure, his power was evil, but it could also be used in many positive ways. Like in a situation where someone was about to jump off the roof, Shinsou could easily control them to step down then talk them out of it when they were no longer on the verge of death.

A power like this could minimize so much damage in the usual hero fights and save the heroes so much time and money. How could Shinsou not realize it?

Izuku had to let him know. Even without the quest, Izuku would make Shinsou realize that his quirk wasn’t evil. Like with Aiba, Izuku would hate to see Shinsou become a hero and yet still not using his quirk. The heroes would lose a major advantage if that happened.

But now wasn’t the time, Izuku would just have to wait until they have a time to themselves so he could have a one-on-one conversation with Shinsou.

Everyone was given five minutes to get to know their group, then they were led onto a bus parked by the entrance. According to Shimura-sensei, they would be taken to a more peaceful part of the town for their activity.

The bus ride was short and anything but quiet. Izuku noticed Eraserhead rubbing his temples in desperation. Of course, a moody, dark, and 'emo' (whatever that meant) person wouldn’t enjoy such clamor.

While they were on the bus, Izuku received another quest notification.

Quest alert!
[Daily Quest: Daily Good Deed]

Description: No matter if you’re the Symbol of Peace, or the Big Bad Boss, everyone has to start somewhere. Begin your first step to a hero by doing something good each day!
Status: 0/1 completed
Time Limit: 11:59:59
Reward: 100 EXP
Failure: (You’ll never achieve your dream if you don’t make daily commitments!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

He was given twelve hours, which was until midnight, to do something good. That shouldn’t be too hard. And even though there was no reputation point rewarded, Izuku wasn’t disappointed. Because he didn’t want to be a hero for rewards, he wanted to become a hero like Gentle, like All Might, who saved people simply because they needed help, not because they would be rewarded for saving that person.

When they arrived, Ectoplasm created six clones, one for each team.

While the teachers were huddled together discussing plans, Namamono’s group went up to Izuku. One of the kids, the wolf-eared boy who sat behind Izuku, snickered.

“I can’t believe it! Two quirkless kids, two with dangerous quirks, and a nobody with a useless quirk all in one team? You guys are in for a hell of a day!”

“Hey! Ahogami*! Stop insulting my team!” Mina was quick to defend them. “Besides, your werewolf quirk is just as dangerous as mine!”

“At least I can control who I bite, but you can’t control who you accidentally splashes your acid onto!”

Mina wasn’t backing down. “Oh yeah? Is that a challenge!?”

The werewolf boy crouched down, baring his canines and growling. Mina slouched with hands positioned like claws in front of her chest, hissing.

At that moment, a vein-throbbing hand landed on their respective heads. Shimura-sensei popped in between them with an angry look.

“Stop fighting this instant or both you and your teams are staying on the bus while everyone else participates.”

Mina and the werewolf boy didn’t say anything but they straightened their postures. When Shimura-sensei left, he threw Mina a dirty look and stalked away. Namamono hurried to apologize.

“I’m so sorry for what he just did. Ogami just has a habit of insulting everyone he meets. He didn’t mean it!”

“Hey! It’s fine! Don’t worry about it!” Mina grinned and patted him on the back. “We aren’t affected by it, right guys?”

Everyone nodded. Izuku said, “Yeah. We’re all good. No harm done.”

Namamono looked relieved. He apologized once more before returning to his team. Ogami stuck out his tongue at them before wrapping an arm around Namamono, jokingly giving him a headlock.

“Ahogami’s always making fun of people. Everyone’s already used to it and no one took his insults seriously. So just ignore him and you’ll be fine.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Izuku nodded.

“Besides, there’re a few more quirkless kids in our class who’re friends with Ahogami. He’ll be nicer once he gets to know you. I’m sure we’ll do just fine, right?” Mina asked casually. “Like sensei said, there’re tons of ways to help people without using our quirks!”

At this time, the teachers were done with their hushed whispers. Clones of Ectoplasm went to their respective groups. Izuku was amazed at Ectoplasm’s hero costume. He looked hulky… and nothing like his original self, except his exposed teeth.

To his surprise, Eraserhead also came to their group.

“What’re you doing here, Eraserhead-sensei?” Mina wondered.

“To keep an eye on our new kid here.” Eraserhead groaned. “Please stay out of trouble to the best of your capabilities and make my job easier.”

“I-I-I promise I won’t cause trouble!” Izuku insisted.

“I’ll see to it.”

The groups were then led to different sections of the area. It was lunch time so the streets were filled with people, but not crowded enough for everyone to have a hard time keeping up.

Class session officially started. Izuku’s group began on the lookout for potential targets. Mina walked in the front, loudly describing her past experiences in different types of situations, Izuku and his other three teammates trailed after her. The two pro-heroes followed behind them in a distance, watching their backs and making sure nothing went wrong.

As they were searching, the four YHP kids all took out their respective lunches. Izuku paused with his lunch box in hand.

“Ahhh… Bad idea, Midoriya-kun,” Mina gave a nervous laugh. “We don’t stop to eat, so we always bring something simple like riceballs or sushi.”

Izuku felt his anxiety hit him again. He panicked, almost dropping his lunch box. “W-w-what do I do??”

“Here,” Mina handed Izuku one of her riceballs. “You can have one.”

Before Izuku could accept or refuse, a half of a yakisoba bread was pushed onto his hand. “Sharing is caring,” Manami mumbled with her mouth full.

Seeing the girls taking the initiative, the boys weren’t far behind. Aoyama gave Izuku a cheese stick. “It’s very healthy ☆~”

And Shinsou offered Izuku half of his tuna sandwich. “You’re not allergic to fish, are you?”

To be surrounded by so much kindness, Izuku felt that undeniable warm feeling in his chest once again. His eyes got a little teary but no one commented on it.

“T-thank you, everyone,” he mumbled, voice dry.

As they continued their search while eating lunch, they found their first target. It was an old lady who dropped her purse, but couldn’t bend down due to her back issues. She was holding a hot pink walking stick that really stood out in the distance. The floating exclamation mark had appeared when Izuku was around twenty feet away and he mentally took note of the required distance. Seeing her struggles, the group rushed to her side but Izuku got there first. He had a feeling everyone else ran a tad bit slower on purpose, in order for him to arrive first.

“Here you go,” Izuku offered the purse to the old lady.

“Ah… thank you.” The old lady accepted her purse with a trembling hand, her other hand on the walking stick. “What would I do without you young heroes… hahaha…”

The old lady chuckled as she patted Izuku on the head. “Well, I hafta go meet up with my granddaughter. See you kids later.”

[Quest — Daily Good Deed — completed. Next one in 11:36:47]
[Reputation point +1]
Note: Continue helping people to earn more reputation point and EXP.

For the next twenty minutes or so, Izuku had earned almost ten reputation points and a dozen EXP by helping people. Many of these situations didn’t have a quest alert, Izuku noticed. Only the more important ones that would take longer to complete would have a quest notification.

Most of the problems his team encountered didn’t require any of them to use their quirks. Once, Mina tried melting down an entire tree to save a cat that was stuck, but was fortunately stopped by Eraserhead, who pointed out the existence of a bird nest higher up in the tree. “Heroes also need a good situational awareness,” he had said. “You don’t want to save someone but have your actions indirectly cause the injury, or worth, death, of another civilian due to your neglect.”

As they walked into a shopping street, Izuku noticed a familiar mop of furry silver hair, twitching wolf ears, and a wagging, bushy tail. Ogami noticed him as well, as he quickly made his way over with a smirk.

“How many people have you helped, I wonder?”

Namamono and the rest of his team caught up with him with an exasperated groan. “Not again,” he mumbled as he ran his fingers through his hair, his neatly trimmed bangs sticking to his forehead with sweat.

“We’ve already helped fifteen people, each with different incidents!” Ogami continued to boast.

Hands on her hips, Mina retorted with her head held high. “So what? That doesn’t make you any better than us! Just because you’ve been in the program a few weeks longer than we have doesn’t mean you can pressure us with your experience!”

Just as another stare-down was about to occur, white strips of fabric shoot out from behind and wrapped around the two YHP students, their limbs locked tightly against their sides restricting their movements. Eraserhead trudged his way over. “Stop this foolish argument. You’re training to be heroes, and heroes don’t fight against each others.”

“But sensei—”

Eraserhead’s eyes glowed red and his hair began to float. The two kids gulped visibly.

A second later, Eraserhead blinked and the effect wore off. He released them, kneeling down and placing a hand on their shoulders. In a softer voice, he said, “Remember. The moment you turn saving people into a competition, you’re no longer heroes. What matters most isn’t how many people you’ve helped, or how much you’ve helped them. It’s the simple fact that you’ve helped somebody in need. That is what makes a true hero.”

Both of them stared at the ground guiltily, and murmured a quiet apology.

Eraserhead stood up and folded his arms. “You two need to learn to get along. Now, as punishments for fighting during a class session, you two and your teams will work together for the remaining of this class period.”

“WHAT!?” A chorus of groans was the response, but a flash of red in Eraserhead’s eyes and the slightest movement of his hair shut everyone up.

Izuku stayed in the back of his team as he observed the two teams’ awkward reaction around each other. Most of them are okay with working with another team; it was Ogami’s scowling face (baring canines) and Mina’s grumpy look (and hands that leaked acid) that put everyone on guard.

Suddenly, something, or rather, someone rammed into Izuku’s back. With an “oof” Izuku fell forward and had to steady himself with Aoyama’s shoulder to not faceplant.

“What was that?” Groaning, Izuku turned to look at the pressure on his back, but only saw…clothes. Floating clothes. With an exclamation mark above it. “Woah!”

Loud sniffling came from the floating clothes and Izuku felt a grip on his shirt. It then downed to him that he was possibly seeing an invisible person for the first time in his life.

“Um… Do you need help?”

“M-m-my grandma’s lost! Wuahhh!” The invisible girl sobbed loudly.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Missing Granny]

Description: Help Hagakure Tooru reunite with her grandmother.
Time Limit: none
Reward: 100 EXP, 2 reputation point
Failure: (A hero should never allow themselves to fail!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

This time Izuku didn’t even pay attention to the notification. He vaguely remembered accepting it as he had his whole focus on the wailing girl.

The two YHP groups gathered around her. The more experienced ones who had probably dealt with this kind of situation began shooting off questions that would help locate the grandma, but they were all ignored by the girl who couldn’t stop crying.

“We… we gotta do something!” Mina exclaimed.

“But what!?” Ogami frowned. He watched as Aoyama handed the girl a cheesestick, which slid out of her slack grip as she continued to cry. Shoving the blond out of the way, Ogami crouched down in front of her with his head bowed. “Hey, look,” his ears twitched. “Wanna feel my hair? It’s pretty soft!”

That didn’t seem to work.

“Maybe she’s a cat person,” Namamono offered. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. His body began to twist and swirl, morphing into a tiny orange cat. Namaneko yowled and padded his way over to the crying girl, and placed a kitty paw against her invisible leg.

The girl stopped crying, and shrieked. She backed up so fast Izuku almost fell over with her steel grip remaining on his All Might t-shirt.

“CATS!” And she continued screaming.

“H-hey, Shinsou!” Izuku called out to the purple-haired boy who was currently petting a content Namaneko. “Can’t you maybe control her and make her stop crying?”

Shinsou nervously rubbed the back of his neck, “My quirk is scary. Instead of helping, it’d probably scare her if I take control of her body. So I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

So that was what he was afraid of.

“Then what else can we do?” Mina grasped her hair in exasperation, her horns knocking back and forth frantically.

Izuku looked around, everyone had a look of uncertainty on their face. The two pro heroes were leaning against the wall a few meters away, watching them silently. Izuku looked back at the quivering floating clothes next to him, and he made his decision.

Gently releasing her tight grip on his shirt, Izuku spread his hands in front of him, palms up. “Look.”

The little flowery headband around the invisible girl’s head tilted downward an inch, showing she was sparing Izuku a glance.

“Nothing’s in my hand.” He squeezed both fist, and when he opened his left hand, a piece of lifesaver candy was sitting quietly on his clammy palm.

The sobbing paused.

Whispers of “go Midoriya” reached his ears as he closed his left hand around the candy, and opened his right hand. The same lifesaver candy appeared on his right palm. He then closed both hands.

“How many candies do you think I have?”

“T-two?”

Izuku grinned. He opened both hands to reveal them empty. “Check your pockets.”

The invisible girl stuffed both hands into the pockets of her skirt and pulled out a handfull of lifesaver candies. “How…”

“Secret ☆~” Izuku teased.

And finally, the crying ceased as the girl giggled.

Chapter Text

Aoyama Yuuga almost killed his father when his quirk first manifested.

He had been standing on a chair and painting on the walls of his room when he felt a strange surge of heat developing in the pit of his belly. It was hot, uncomfortable, and he wanted to get rid of it. His father chose that moment to enter his room. Yuuga, turning to face his father, pushed the energy out of his belly button.

A strong beam of blue laser shot out and hit his father in the stomach, tearing through the flesh and creating a gaping hole that forever haunted the young boy’s mind. The force of the beam also threw the boy backward, slamming his head against the wall and knocking him out.

He had woken up in the hospital with multiple stitches on the back of his head and his beautiful blond hair shaved off. His exhausted mother had appeared by his side the moment he opened his eyes. It took him a while to decipher her frantic rambling and realize that his father had almost died on the surgery table.

His father didn’t blame him for what he had done, but Yuuga, traumatized by the experience, sworn to never use his power again. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, nor hurt himself ever again. His head throbbed in phantom pain every time he thought back to the incident. The scar hidden deep among his thick blond hair forever reminded him of his crime.

For half a year, Yuuga managed to refrain from using his quirk. But the heat in his belly was piling up, making him feel bloated and full. He lost his appetite and couldn’t keep anything down. His weight dwindled significantly and his change in appearance was worrying his parents.

Even the other kids at kindergarten had noticed his shift in demeanor. Yuuga talked less, ate less, sparkled less, and often spaced out during activities. Some nasty kids began teasing him for never showing his quirk. They called him quirkless, loser, nobody…all sorts of names. Yuuga learned to ignore them. But the heat in his belly was getting harder and harder to ignore and the urge to let it all out was eating him away.

Yuuga was a ticking bomb but no one noticed the signs. Every name thrown at him was a second closer to his impending explosion.

And then one day, as to be expected, the countdown reached zero.

When Yuuga came to realization, he was lying face down on the ground, his body covered in cuts and scratches from the force that had apparently flung him backward, and he was facing the destruction of all the trees in a straight-line directly in front of him. There was also a gnawing hunger in his stomach that he hadn't experienced for the past six months.

All the kids around him had frozen in shock. Whatever toys they were playing with clattered onto the ground. Only then did the adults snap out of their stupor and began with the repair. But the damage was done, nobody talked to Yuuga anymore after the incident. They acted like he wasn’t there, like he wasn’t a person worthy of their attention, like he was just a pebble on the street that people either stepped over or kicked to the side of the road.

Yuuga’s parents immediately found out the way their boy had been treated and they quickly pulled him out of the kindergarten. The entire family moved to another city so Yuuga could start anew in a place where no one knew his past and the terror of his quirk.

There hadn't been another incident ever since. Yuuga was still feeling the inflating heat in his belly, but it was easier to control now after his experience with it last time. There were still kids at school who believed the fact that he never showed his quirk must have meant he didn’t have a quirk. Yuuga had learned to ignore them. He still wasn't eating much, so his mother made sure what he did eat had enough nutrition and calories for his entire day.

Things had been peaceful for the next few years. Yuuga turned six and joined the Youth Hero Program with the hopes that the teachers and heroes there would teach him how to control his quirk. The kids there were friendly. There were a few actual quirkless kids, but no one seemed to pick on them (although there was this Ogami boy who handed insults as if they were candies to everyone he comes across).

Yuuga had no issues getting along with everyone. Even though he did get quite frustrated whenever Mina interrupted him when he tried to say something, he had gotten used to it and written that off as her being her usual brash and carefree self. He eventually made a few friends and began to sparkle more, gradually returning to his old self.

Time flew past and soon a new kid enrolled in YHP. Midoriya Izuku, a green-haired bright-eyed quirkless boy. The first thing he did on his very first day was make Aiba smile, a stunt no one had ever been able to pull.

Yuuga continued observing in the back of the group as their lunch activity began. Midoriya seemed extremely eager to help others. Every time he brought a smile to another’s face, an equally bright smile appeared on his own freckled face. His enthusiasm never lessened and only grew as time passed. Ironically, a quirkless boy was the one person in Yuuga’s life that truly sparkled.

Then they met an invisible girl, who later told them her name was Hagakure Tooru. Everyone seemed equally amazed at seeing an invisible person for the first time (Yuuga assumed that it was their first time judging from their shocked expression). Yuuga and the others who had handled lost kids before asked her questions that would help them locate her missing grandma, but all efforts went down the drain as Hagakure couldn't stop crying. She even refused his cheesestick! Yuuga was offended. How could anyone in the world say no to the exquisite delicacy that was cheese and anything made of cheese!?

He felt a bit better when everyone else’s attempts also ended up in failure. And then Midoriya stepped up. Everyone watched curiously trying to see what a quirkless boy can do.

“Look.” Midoriya showed her his empty hands. “Nothing’s in my hands.”

Then he closed both hands and when he opened one, there was a lifesaver candy on his palm. For a second, Yuuga thought Midoriya might actually have a quirk, and from the looks on the other’s faces, they were thinking the same thing. But on a second thought, it may just be a magic trick. After all, many magic tricks were so incredible you couldn't help but suspect that there was quirk usage involved in the act, although there were tricks that actually did have quirk usage involved. Everyday there was media revealing a magician or two lying about “ABSOLUTELY NO QUIRK INVOLVED IN” their “MAGIC TRICKS!” so magicians nowadays had pretty much lost all trust from the public due to how many lies were revealed.

Mina fired questions after questions at an increasingly uncomfortable Midoriya while Hagakure stuffed her mouth full with candies. It was strange watching candies disappear into thin air. If she wanted, she could probably be a great assistant for magicians. She just have to become completely invisible then she can make things float and disappear all she want.

“How did you do that!?” Mina grabbed Midoriya’s shoulders roughly and shook him back and forth. “That’s soooo cool! I thought you didn’t have a quirk!”

“A-a-ahhhh, t-that’s b-b-because—” Midoriya’s eyes seemed to spin as he tried to speak without stuttering.

“Let him talk, Mina,” said Aiba as she patted the pink girl on the shoulder.

Midoriya finally learned how to breath again. He steadied himself as he finally revealed his secret, “It’s just a magic trick. I’m quirkless and for a while I was afraid of people finding out, so I learned magic tricks to hide it. And people thought my quirk is to make things disappear and appear.”

“That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to learn magic tricks! But it never works for me cuz everyone can see through everything…” Hagakure mumbled, depressed.

“You can be a great assistant,” Midoriya offered and gave her a bright smile. Yuuga perked up, surprised that someone else had reached the same conclusion as he had. Usually he would be the only one to notice the things others ignored because he was always observing, staying in the background and watching others interact. And that was another reason many treated him like an outcast, since he always suggested ideas that were so out of the blue, so unusual that it seemed totally impossible at first glance and were often rejected by his classmates.

“Since no one can see you, they’ll just assume the objects are floating by themselves,” Midoriya explained.

“But then it would be cheating! You’re not allowed to use quirks in a magic trick.” Hagakure huffed.

“Magic tricks can’t be done without the trick. It’s either tricking the audience with a trick or with a quirk. Both are cheating. I believe the goal of a magic trick is to make people smile. It doesn’t matter whether you use a quirk or not. My mama said sometimes you gotta make “white lies” that will do more good than bad.”

Hagakure thought about that for a moment before grumbling, “I guess you’re right.”

Midoriya cracked a smile at that.

“Guys, can we stop wasting time here?”

Mina snapped around and rounded on Namamono, angrily jabbing a finger into his chest. “You idiot! Now’s not the time to bring that up! We’re having a serious conversation here!”

Namamono’s shoulders sagged and he mumbled, “So I’m not included in the ‘we’?”

Before Mina can retort, Ogami pushed her away with a glare. “Back off from him, you Alien Queen.”

“Who’re you calling an Alien Queen!?” Mina screeched.

“The one hissing and spitting acid every time she talks to me.”

Huhhhh!?

Yuuga turned away from the commotion and smashed his forehead against the wall. A shadow loomed over his face giving him a sullen look. Grimacing, he prayed for their fight to end quickly and quietly. He hated fights and arguments. He was more of a pacifist and would rather take a step back and apologize even when it wasn’t his fault just so he didn't have to deal with fights any longer.

“G-guys, ummm… hey guys?” Midoriya tried to get their attention. Both heads turned towards him, throwing him a stink eye.

Yuuga was glad he wasn't on the receiving end of it. “Let’s fight later, okay?” With his back towards Hagakure, he nudged his lips towards her discreetly.

“Fine,” Mina spat.

“This isn’t over.” Ogami glared.

Midoriya gave them a pointed look before turning to Hagakure, “Sorry you have to see that. Let’s start searching for your grandma. Do you remember where you last saw—” and he was pushed over.

“Move.” Ogami walked up to the girl. “I have a better idea.”

Aiba moved to help Midoriya get up, who seemed to sparkle as he gave her a bright smile, so bright Yuuga almost saw glitters coating his form.

“You see, my quirk allows me to do anything a wolf can do, which means I have a strong sense of smell. I can find your grandma if you can give me anything that smells like her.”

Hagakure rummaged through all the pockets on her self but couldn’t seem to find anything. “I don’t have anything…”

“Have you touched her clothes? Or held her hand before she went missing?” Ogami tried again.

“No. My grandma needs to walk using a cane. She gets better balance if she doesn’t hold onto me.”

“Wait, is her cane pink?” Yuuga asked the same time Midoriya did.

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“We met her earlier today!” Midoriya exclaimed. “She dropped her purse and I picked it up for her!”

“Ohhh! That means your hand should smell like her purse!” Mina pointed out as she wiggled her eyebrows tauntingly at Ogami.

Ogami made a disgusted look. “I am NOT smelling your hand.”

Everyone snickered at the mental image.

“Stop laughing you bastards!” Ogami’s face went up in flame and his tail swatted around wildly. “And stop thinking about it!”

Shinsou stepped up from his position by the wall and sneered at Ogami. “You can either do it yourself or I can make you do it.”

“Ohoho! So you’re gonna use your evil quirk on an innocent kid huh?”

Someone from Ogami’s team looked around sarcastically, “innocent kid? Where?” and was rewarded with a heated glare from their team leader.

“I will use it if it’s on you,” Shinsou said. “I reserve it for those who deserve it.”

Ogami’s face darkened as he glared, canines baring. Shinsou stood his ground firmly. His messy purple bangs shrouded his eyes but the rest of his face was stoic and indifferent. There seemed to be a sparkling string coming from both of their eyes and connecting in midair with sparks dancing off of it.

Yuuga shook his head to get rid of that image. His mother always said his imagination was his biggest weapon but could also lead to his downfall if overused.

The glaring contest ended as quickly as it began with Ogami reluctantly accepting his fate. Grumbling under his breath the entire way, he stalked up to an antsy Midoriya and yanked his hand up. Ogami sniffed the palm as quickly as possible and threw the hand down, waving at the air in front of his nose as if something reeked.

“So… did you smell anything?” Midoriya asked, hesitant.

“Yeah. Sweat, urine (to which Midoriya spluttered in defense), seaweed, fish, cheese, food…”

“A-and…?”

“And cranky old people.”

Midoriya glowed.

Everyone waited as Ogami spun around sniffing the air. He even got on all fours at one point and sniffed the ground (and gagged). No one commented on that, not even Mina, because they knew Ogami would be so embarrassed he might refuse to help out anymore.

After a while, Ogami pointed at a direction and said, “It’s that way. About 400 meters away.”

The two groups began making their way over. Yuuga caught a glimpse of Ectoplasm and Eraserhead-sensei following them before they disappeared into the shadows.

As they walked, Midoriya and Mina made small talks to Hagakure. Ogami and Namamono chatted in the front of the group while the former sniffed the air every now and then to make sure the grandma didn’t suddenly change directions. Yuuga, Shinsou, and Manami walked in silence between the two groups, and the rest of Ogami’s team was in the very back.

On their way there, the two teams spotted a few people who needed help with small tasks. Mina and Ogami were always the first ones to run up, with Midoriya following right behind them. Ogami helped break apart a dog fight and the two owners thanked him gratefully. Mina helped a man melt the lock of his briefcase open when he lost the key but needed the documents inside for a meeting. Midoriya comforted a kid who dropped his cheesecake takeout and couldn’t stop crying. In the end, the parents of the kid appeared with a new box of cheesecake in their hands and thanked Midoriya before leaving.

Yuuga had to force himself not to drool over that cheesecake. He had wanted to visit that newly opened Cheesecake Factory for a long time, but he lived too far and his parents were too busy with work to take him over. He also didn’t bring any money either, and it wasn’t like he would buy it if he did. Now they had to focus on finding Hagakure’s grandma. Everything else had to wait.

Next to the restaurant was a vacant building for rent. Yuuga briefly fantasized his family moving into this building so he could eat cheesecakes whenever he wanted, and only snapped out of it when everyone else paused to stare at him.

After that little incident, they walked past a subway station and went under a bridge. According to Ogami, they were less than fifty meters away.

Midoriya halted in his steps and pointed at something in the distance, yelling, “I found her!”

Yuuga followed his finger and found the old lady they had helped before struggling to walk with her pink cane, her purse slipping off of her grasp and appearing to be on the verge of dropping again.

Just then a large burly man stumbled around a corner and ran up behind her. He yanked the purse out of her weak grasp, causing her to falter and drop onto her knees.

“Give it back!” The grandma struggled to get up, and a random person next to her helped her stand back on her feet.

The robber was rushing towards the two teams with a sickening grin on his large face. Ogami and Namamono froze up. They were both standing a little to the side of Yuuga’s vision, leaving him directly in the robber’s line of sight.

“Move outta the way you little brats!” The man brandished a knife and waved it around threateningly. “Or I’ll kill y’all!”

Yuuga couldn’t move. He had never felt so afraid in his life. The closer the man was the bigger his form seemed to be. He was so big and tall Yuuga’s height didn’t even reach his waist. His eyes locked up with the man’s, and a wave of cold terror washed over his body. The ghostly sensation left him trembling and gasping for breath. His fear was a living creature, writhing in his chest, clutching at his throat, cutting off his breath.

The man was directly in front of him as he ran, like those trees at that time. If he shoot out his laser now, he could hit the man head-on. It would be so fast the man wouldn't even be able to dodge. But…

The phantom pain returned to the back of his head and Yuuga was reminded of the sensation of his head cracking open and the numbness after the surgery. Memories of the gaping hole in his father’s stomach, the blood all over the ground, and his classmates’ horrified cold eyes flashed before him.

Yuuga just couldn’t do it.

He didn’t want to go through that again. It was bad enough showing his quirk in a classroom setting. He could only imagine what could happen if he hurt someone with it in public where everyone could see it. There would be nowhere to hide from the exposure. Moving away wouldn’t erase the pictures that people would take and the rumors that would surely spread.

But if he didn't do anything, his friends could get hurt, or worse, killed. He was the only one with a long-ranged offensive quirk so he had to do this. He had to use it.

Yuuga tried to concentrate on the heat in his belly but none gathered. They were scattered and refused to ball up at his belly button.

The man was getting closer and there was nowhere to run. Everyone was frozen in fear and because Yuuga was such a coward they were all going to die and be stabbedslashed killedandbloodwouldbe everywhere drippingpooling onthe groundandhis parents wouldbeee sosososososo sadand disappointed andhe wouldn’tbe able to be a hero well howcouldhe whenhe couldn'tevenstand upfor himself andhis friends hewas justaloser acoward a herowannabenobody—

A figure darted past Yuuga and moved protectively in front of Ogami and Namamono.

A flash of green.

Midoriya.

A quirkless boy.

He was shaking from head to toe like an autumn leaf, trembling so much the air around him seemed to vibrate. And yet, he stood his ground. He faced against a man four, no, almost five times his size despite being so obviously terrified. Out of all of them, a quirkless boy was the first to move. He had no power and he knew he couldn’t win, and yet…

A feeling of self-disgust clawing his throat, Yuuga stared at Midoriya‘s back and somehow the small stature of the shorter boy suddenly seemed so much bigger. His shoulders appeared wider and his form gave Yuuga a sense of protection.

And then the man arrived.

The imagery form of Midoriya instantly collapsed under the overwhelming size of the robber. Yuuga, Midoriya, and everyone else could only stood with growing horror as the man drew back the blade—

And got restrained by white bandages.

The fear and immobility remained even after Eraserhead-sensei tied up the robber as tight as possible, making sure his arms were growing purple and he was gasping for breath. In reality, the time it took for the man to get to them was only a few seconds, but to Yuuga, it felt like hours.

When Ectoplasm-sensei asked him if he was okay, Yuuga nodded in response, not trusting his voice yet. His tongue felt thick and heavy and if he was to speak right now, his words would probably come out all jumbled and incoherent.

Their lunch activity ended by the time Hagakure reunited with her grandma. Ogami insisted that the credit should go to him since he contributed the most, but everyone else (Yuuga included) agreed that Midoriya was the MVP today, since if he hadn't made Hagakure stop crying, they’d never get any information out of her.

On their bus ride back, the other teams loudly shared their stories, while Yuuga and Ogami’s team remained silent (except Mina and Ogami who started bickering again). Obviously everyone was affected by the incident. Yuuga wondered briefly what the others were thinking at the moment. They didn’t know the power of his quirk so they probably didn't know he was in the perfect position to shoot the robber. But still, out of everyone, Midoriya was the one who overcame his fear and stood up. The others were probably also thinking how useless they were for being one upped by someone without a means to defend himself.

By the time they arrived at YHP, Yuuga was so deeply wallowed in his self-pity that he didn’t remember how he got off the bus, or how he returned home. It wasn’t until he was relaxing in his sparkling bubble bath with a rubber duck clutched tightly in his hand did he come back to reality.

Lying back in the bathtub, Yuuga closed his eyes as he tried to remember the fear he felt today. He wanted to remember that feeling so he could get used to it and overcome it. That feeling would forever be ingrained in his body, reminding him of how he should start getting his acts together and stop being a petty little loser.

If the heroes weren’t here today, they would have died. And Yuuga would never forgive himself if he let his friends die when he could do something to prevent it.

It was time for Aoyama Yuuga to stop being a coward and start becoming a hero.

Next time this happened, Yuuga would use his quirk.

As he daydreamed about a giant evil villain (that looked suspiciously like the robber) coming up to torment him and his friends and his using his quirk to shoot a giant hole in the villain’s stomach and then being held a hero, Yuuga slowly fell asleep.

(Hours later, Yuuga woke up with a sneeze in a tub full of cold soapy water. Great. Now he was sick.)

Chapter Text

Mama was crying when she picked him up at YHP. The moment they got off the bus, everyone visibly flinched as a hoarse cry split the air.

“Izuuuuuku!” Mama threw down her bike and stumbled towards him with open arms, enveloping him in a bone-crushing hug. “I was t-told that y-you were attacked! Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere? How are you feeling!? Do you need to see the doctor?”

“M-mama…” Izuku’s heart gave a jolt as he took in mama’s face. Her eyes were red from crying, her lips cracked, and snot dripped down her nose and over the curves of her lips. Izuku didn’t care how disgusting her face looked when he hugged her back, because his face probably didn't look any better as he wailed and blabbered gibberish.

After what seemed like eternity, they finally broke apart. A quick glance around showed the other students interacting with their family in a distance to give them some space. The teachers then came up and reassured mama that everything was fine and no one was hurt. Shimura and Genji-sensei apologized over and over again for putting them in danger (Eraserhead and Ectoplasm stayed back to talk to the police about the incident). Mama looked like she wanted to yell at them but she held her tongue and instead forgave them and thanked them for protecting him.

Mama didn't let him ride his bike home that day, because she was worried his legs were still jelly after being so scared by the scary man. She asked him many times what exactly happened in his words. No matter how many times Izuku reassured her she was still worried. It was then that Izuku made his decision.

The moment they arrived home, Izuku sat mama down on the couch as he prepared his words.

“Mama, I have to tell you something.”

Mama froze up like how she usually did when expecting bad news while on the phone. She grabbed his hands with both hands and cradled them gently. “Tell me, mama’s listening.”

And so, Izuku told her everything, leaving out his near-death incident and encounter with Gentle since it would destroy her and Izuku didn’t want her to live with the knowledge that her son had almost committed suicide while under her watch. She would blame herself forever for failing him and not being there for him.

Mama didn’t say a word as she listened. When Izuku finished talking, mama pulled him into a hug. Burying her nose in his fluffy hair, she murmured. “I’m so proud of you, Izuku.”

“Why? I didn’t do anything.” Izuku hugged her briefly. “When he attacked us, I couldn’t do anything. My friends could have died if not for Eraserhead-sensei. If only I wasn’t so weak…”

“Izuku, look at me.” Mama cupped his cheeks tenderly and stared into his eyes. Her gaze was like an arrow on fire that bored into his very soul. In an extremely soft voice, she said, “Listen. You’re not weak. In fact, you’re strong, stronger than anyone I know and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Despite not having a quirk, you still stood up to protect your friends. What defines as strong is being able to overcome your fears, and you did just that. A physically strong person is useless if he can’t be strong in the face of obstacles. Remember, Izuku, no matter how powerful you are, if you can’t use that power during the times of challenging, then you’re as good as powerless.”

“B-but how can I face my fears without power? I need to become stronger! Fast!”

Mama chuckled, leaving Izuku more confused. Did he say something funny?

“Izu-chan. How old are you?”

“Eh. Six?”

“Do you really think this is the type of problem a kid your age should be worrying about?”

“I don’t know?”

“Izuku, you’re only six,” Mama laughed as she caressed his round cheeks, making Izuku pout. Whenever she did this, he always felt like a baby. And Izuku was not a baby anymore. “Normal six-year-olds don’t worry about things like this. Enjoy your childhood, play games, make friends, have fun. Leave the thinking to when you’re older. For now, allow the heroes to do their job and protect you. That’s what they’re there for.”

“But then… How am I going to become a hero if I don’t start now?”

“What’re you saying?” Mama tapped his nose gently, making him go crosseyed. “You’re already a hero to me, Izu-chan.”

Izuku felt heat rushing to his face.

“Besides,” Mama smirked. The evil grin looked so wrong on her face. “I’m sure Manami-chan and Hagakure-chan thinks the same way. I didn’t expect my Izu-chan to be so good with girls.”

“Mama!” Izuku whined. His face was definitely on fire now. “I don’t like them that way!”

“Which way?” Mama looked like a scheming fox.

“The… the… the face-sucking way!”

That sent mama in a round of laughter while Izuku pouted, fuming silently. After a while mama calmed down.

“In all serious—haha—ness though, you have many years to get strong enough to be a hero. With that game thingy you got, you don’t have to go out of your way to become strong. Just go with the flow, do a good deed every day, help people when you can, stack up experience points, and eventually you’ll save up enough reputation points to buy a quirk, or reach level ten and gain a free quirk. No need to rush. Just do it at your own pace.”

The way mama put it made it sound so easy. Perhaps he was overreacting?

“Mama will go with you everyday. One hour of quest hunting! How does that sound?”

“Sounds great!” Izuku cheered, raising his hands high in the air.

“Yay!” Mama slapped his palms gently.


After seeing the last student walk out of the courtyard with their parents, Shimura Aiko stifled a yawn as she stretched, her joints popping sending pleasure down her spine. It had been a long and tiring day at YHP. The villain attack on the two teams of students near the end of the lunch activity brought her a lot more paperwork and phone calls than the usual. Lucky for her, though, she wasn’t a witness and didn’t have to help with the police report.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. Aiko grabbed it and unlocked it swiftly. The groupchat she was in had a few new messages:

YHP Group Chat

ERASED
definitely a bad idea to accept this position
Genjutsu-user
lololololol
AgasaR
poor boi. Come here i’ll give u a hug
ERASED
i politely refuse

Eargasm
Just left the police station. I miss my sun.
AgasaR
mee2
Genjutsu-user
mee3
Eargasm
Eargasm is typing...

Just for the heck of it, Aiko typed:

YHP Group Chat

Ai❤︎CoCo: mee4
Eargasm
Anyone wanna join me and Genji on karaoke?

The chat group was deadly silent for the next five minutes.

Aiko chuckled and tucked her phone away. Just the mention of karaoke brought Ectoplasm’s nightmarish singing voice to her mind. It was like a screeching banshee clawing the ground as she gave birth…while being stabbed repeatedly by a wailing demon.

“Not planning on going?” Genji, aka Genjutsu-user, walked up to her with his phone in hand. He was carrying his backpack looking ready to leave.

“No, not today. It’s our weekly movie night.” As Aiko grabbed her pack, Genji turned off the light and locked the door after they exited the building.

Walking across the courtyard, Genji asked, “How’s Tenko doing?”

“Oh, just the usual, you know. He’s more attached to Tenki than me, and that doesn’t seem like it’ll change any time soon,” Aiko finished with a sigh.

Genji patted her on the back reassuringly. “Hey, kids are always like that. They prefer one parent over the other. He’ll give you two equal treatment once he hits puberty.”

Aiko glared at him without putting much force into the look, “That’s not funny.”

Genji chuckled.

As they began to part ways at the entrance, Genji said, “Well, wish you good luck. I’m about to have my ears abused by Ectoplasm’s singing.”

“Can’t say no to him huh?”

“Yeah, unfortunately. He wants me to change the room into a live concert stage, with imaginary fans cheering him in the audience.”

“Ah man. Poor you. I'm about to enjoy myself over Ready Player One. Let's hope it's better than the book.”

Aiko waved at Genji, who sported a distressed look, as she headed her way.


Shouta hadn’t become a hero for long, and he already hated the police station. Or more specifically, the police’s way of handling things. Just a simple robbery took them hours of investigation. They droned on and on about every tiny little detail about the incident, whether the attack was coincidental or intentional, why the grandma was targeted, the relationship between the victim and the kids, how the kids reacted, how they took down the robber, why they were there, what time, how long…

And THEN they had to stay in the waiting room as the officers spent THREE HOURS writing their goddamn report. Even the ever so collected Ectoplasm began getting impatient as he drummed his fingers on his knees, his humming of some random song starting to irritate the hell out of Shouta.

No wonder the police couldn’t become heroes. Their work efficiency and time management would become their downfall in a villain encounter.

When they were finally allowed to leave, Shouta practically ran out of the hellhole. He had never appreciated the sunlight so much.

“It’s just how it is.” Ectoplasm said as he trailed after Shouta. “They have to make sure they get every detail right. Reports are important after all. You’ll get used to it. That’s why you always bring a book with you to the police station, or download some on you phone.”

Shouta glared at the offending phone waving at his face and decided to turn on his heels and walk away. He wasn’t in a good mood right now and he’d rather return to his apartment and his lovely cats as soon as possible. Ah cats. Just the mere thought of them brought a smile to his face.

“Do you want to go to karaoke with me and Genji?”

“No.”

The older hero stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. Shouta clicked his tongue. “It’s a lot of fun. You look like you can use some music therapy right now.”

“No thank you. I’d rather go home.”

“What’s so fun about home? Karaoke is more fun.”

Shouta whipped around, the word “cats” on the tip of his tongue before he changed it at the last second. “I have an essay to write.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re in college, right? What’s your major?”

Shouta answered as he began to walk. “Teaching.”

“Oh? Why do you want to become a teacher?”

The questions. They just… won’t stop!

Shouta, barely containing his impatience, tried to speak as nicely as possible. After all, despite how annoying this man was, he was still a senior and therefore should be respected.

“Ectoplasm-senpai. I really need to finish this essay. Can we talk at a later date?”

“Sure, I don’t mind.” The older man tapped something on his phone and Shouta’s phone buzzed. “I started a new chat with you. Just reply whenever you’re free.”

Ectoplasm turned around and was about to walk away, before looking back and saying, “By the way, I work as a math teacher at UA.”

Then he left, leaving Shouta deadly still in the middle of the street.

Maybe he should have been nicer to the man…


The week after Izuku’s first day at YHP was fun. Like mama promised, she went with him on his daily quest hunt. Everyday after school they would walk into town and Izuku would complete his Daily Good Deed quest and help a couple more people before his hour was over. Sometimes if their schedule allowed, they would stay a bit longer; and whenever that happened, Izuku always walked with a skip in his step, happy to be able to help more people in need.

When the next saturday rolled by, Izuku had reached level 4 with 634 out of 800EXP. With every level he leveled up, the required EXP doubled. When he became level 5, he would need 1600EXP to level up. Then 3200EXP for level 6. 6400EXP for level 7. An overwhelming 12,800EXP for level 8. And so on. Of course, mama was the one who calculated those numbers. Izuku didn’t understand the bigger numbers, but he knew it’d take much longer for him to level up later on, which meant he wouldn’t be reaching level 10 and getting his hands on a quirk any time soon.

Reaching level four had also gained him two more slots in the Inventory. He now had his security alarm (1/8), mini flash bomb that exploded upon impact (2/8), and that took six seconds to explode (3/8), hero analysis notebooks (4/8), four-leaf clover (5/8), and his bicycle (6/8), which his mama had allowed him to store inside because it would conserve its condition so the bike wouldn’t rust or be bothered by the weather conditions, and not to mention it’d never get stolen (his mama told him to only store it and take it out when he made sure no one was around). He left two slots empty in case of emergencies, like for that lifesaver trick.

After helping an average of eight to nine people everyday with simple tasks, Izuku had saved up 67 reputation points. He hadn’t encountered a situation where he needed to purchase anything, so he refrained from spending a single point (it wasn’t like he needed canned drinks—50pts—or a toothbrush—10pts—or more lifesaver candies).

His observe was now at level 5, and he could now see people’s name and level as well as their age and personality when he ‘observed’ them. He practically observed every single person on the street within his proximity whenever he stepped out of the house to quickly level up, seeing how Observe was the easiest technique to level up. It turned out that when a technique reached level 5, it would gain an upgrade, unlocking more power and lasting longer.

Izuku had also learned a few more techniques.

Name: Midoriya Izuku
Title: none
LV: 4 EXP: 634/800 (required EXP doubles every level)
HP: 340/340 (0.2/s)
MP: 340/340 (0.2/s)
Age: 6
Quirk(s): none
STR: 4 (5 being average for your age)
DEF: 4
SPE: 5
DEX: 5
Attribute points: 0
LUCK: 5 (changes everyday)
REP points: 67
Techniques:
Observe Lv 5 (42/340 EXP): observe other’s stats (name, level, age, and personality).
MP usage: 5MP per use

Search Lv 3 (70/225 EXP): search for your target in the crowd faster
MP usage: N/A (Technique is passive.)

Sprint Lv 2 (68/150 EXP): provide a 25% boost of SPEED when running.
MP usage: 20MP per use. Last 5 seconds.

Jump Lv 2 (23/150 EXP): provide a 25% boost of STRENGTH in your legs when jumping
MP usage: 20MP per use.

He gained ‘search’ during the Hagakure quest. ‘Sprint’ and ‘jump’ were gained while running around during recess. Kacchan had looked at him all strangely when the “useless Deku” started “prancing around like a dog seeking attention,” as he put it. Izuku had bounced around all recess trying to discover more techniques, but in the end Jump and Sprint were all he got.

When he leveled up to level 4 after completing the Hagakure quest, Izuku received two attribute points, which he added to SPEED and DEXTERITY after careful consideration. He had thought about it for a while. Being quirkless, it’d be stupid to fight his opponents face on. Strength and Defense wouldn’t do anything to people like Kacchan, who could burn you no matter how strong your defense was, and fighting him with fists was useless when he could just throw an explosion at you to knock you away. That was why Izuku chose Speed and Dexterity, to gain faster reflex and dodge incoming attacks, and escape faster.

Like mama said, he was still young. There was no need to carry everything on his shoulders. It was fine to share the burden with heroes and run away until heroes come to save him. Childhood was supposed to be enjoyed, not filled with training and fights. There was no reason for him to quickly become stronger. He had lots of time. It was fine to take it slow.

The rest of the week flew past. And before Izuku noticed, Saturday had arrived and he was riding alongside mama as they made their way towards YHP.

Watching the scenery as they flashed past him, Izuku wondered what Gentle was doing right now.


CLASH!

A plate shot past his ear, grazing his cheek and shattering against the wall behind him.

Tobita flinched, squeezing his eyes shut as he felt a line of blood dripping down his cheeks.

“You worthless, useless piece of shit!”

His mother’s shrill cry reached his ears.

Tobita kept his eyes closed, refusing to look at his mother’s terrifying expression.

“I-I’m sorr—”

“Do you know how much we’ve spent on you!? Raising you, feeding, clothing, putting a roof over your head! We don’t care if you become a hero or not! All we ever wanted was a peaceful life without any troubles! And now look at how you repaid our kindness!”

A hand slammed against the table.

Tobita blinked. His expulsion letter lay on the dining table. It was wrinkled with ripped edges. Obviously someone had been squeezing it very hard.

“The fuck you do that for!”

His father, who was sitting with his head down at the table, roared at his mother.

“The hell are you talking about!?”

“You saw me! Sitting here! Right next to you! Yet you slammed your fucking hand right next to my fucking ears! You trying to start something!?”

“Oh yeah and now it’s my fault huh!? It’s my fault for not raising my son better, it’s my fault for not getting rid of that stupid hero dream of his, everything’s my fault right!? Are you satisfied now!?”

“When did I ever say it’s your fault!? Listen you goddamn woman—”

“No! You listen!”

Tobita couldn’t hold it any longer. He ignored his parents’ shouting match and ran into his room. Slamming his closet open, he grabbed a few random clothes and stuffed them in his school bag after dumping out its content. He ripped his charger out of the outlet and threw it inside his bag, along with a few bags of snacks and bottles of water.

As he was about to zip up, his eyes landed on his little notebook. He paused, weighing his chances, and in the end dropped it inside his pack.

He wasn’t giving up yet.

He changed into something comfortable then grabbed his backpack, phone, and wallet before skidding down the stairs. Without looking back, Tobita left his house.

It was already night time.

Tobita stood outside, eying the spray paint of the word “garbage (クズ)” next to the name plate of his house. His heart felt empty as he thought about leaving his home forever. The place he grew up in, where he had his first tea party, celebrating his victory of a calligraphy contest, where his father threw him into the air and dropped him for the first time, where his mother brought him his favorite tea and cakes when he worked past midnight, where he stole his father’s computer to watch youtube videos before receiving his first laptop…

...where he took his parents’ kindness for granted and never gave anything in return.

I will be back.

Tobita forced himself to look away from the house. The normal house that looked just like any other houses on the street. The house no one would give a second look at except him. The house wasn’t anything special, but to him, leaving it was like throwing away a piece to a puzzle.

Tobita dragged his foot along the pavement, half-hoping his parents would notice his absence and chase after him. Seconds flew past. Minutes went by. Their voices diminished and soon Tobita was all alone in the middle of the night on an eerily silent street with nowhere to go and no plans for the future.

He brought his hand up to his cheeks. The blood had dried and left an impressionable mark on his face. He had to get rid of it.

There was a park near his house which should have a water fountain he could use. It wasn’t very far, just about a ten minute walk.

When Tobita arrived, he noticed many homeless people sleeping on the benches, some in the bushes. They looked no different from him at the moment, just a bit dirtied. The thought of himself possibly joining their rank brought a wave of fear over him.

Tobita shook his head, getting rid of that thought. Worrying about the future wouldn’t do anything except slow him down and make him doubt himself. He had to keep being optimistic. Believe that the future was bright and filled with singing birds and sunshine. Besides—

Besides…

Izuku believed him.

He had to live up to his promise and be a hero, even if it wasn’t for him, he'd do it for the boy, his very first fan.

After drying his cheek with his sleeve, wincing a bit as the rough fabric of his jacket grazed the cut, Tobita sat down on an unoccupied bench. The next bench over had a man, around the age of forty, sleeping on it. It was kind of hard to tell, since all the unshaved hair probably added at least ten years to his real age. Tobita shivered as he imagined himself looking like that in a few years.

Suddenly, there was footsteps pounding on the ground.

Someone was coming this way.

Tobita froze, his body on high alert.

Who could it be at this time of the day? A villain? No, don’t jinx it, Tobita! It’s probably a random jogger. Yeah. Probably some guy doing his daily night jogs… Or someone on their way to the convenience store. Or…

The stranger had almost reached the park, their footsteps extremely loud in the silence of the night.

Acting on his instincts, Tobita lay down on the bench, hugging his backpack tightly to his chest. He squeezed his eyes shut as he turned, leaving his back facing towards the entrance of the park.

The person running paused at the entrance. There was a moment of silence before they stepped into the park.

Without hesitation, they began making their way towards Tobita.

Tobita didn’t dare to move, or breath, or blink, or do anything. His entire body was stiff all the way down to his toes. All sorts of terrifying thoughts regarding this situation occupied his mind, thoughts that he desperately wished would disappear at the moment because they were not helping!

The stranger stopped inches away from his bench. They shifted around, then something—Tobita couldn’t see but he felt—moved towards him, which he assumed was a hand. It stopped on the cut on his cheek, rubbing it gently, the soft touches causing goosebumps to form all over his body.

Now the thoughts in his mind were going in a whole new direction, reaching a whole new level of creepiness and disturbance that he didn’t dare to dwell on.

Before he could think of a way to get out of this…this strange situation, the person whispered.

“Tobita?”

The voice was familiar.

Tobita snapped his eyes open to a familiar face.

“Takeshita!?”

“Woahhhh!!!!” Takeshita jerked back and landed on his rear, his eyes wide in shock. “I-I t-thought you were asleep!”

“Ahhh!” Tobita also sat up in surprise, pressing his hand to his chest. “Don’t scream right next to my ear!”

Both stared at each others for a moment, then both laughed at the same time.

“Man, I thought you were some rapist or serial killer. I totally thought I was dead.” Tobita sighed as he relaxed against the bench.

It was nice to see a familiar face after something like that, although the familiar face belonged to the last person he wanted to see at the moment.

“Sorry I scared you. I didn’t meant to do that.” Takeshita rubbed the back of his neck as he apologized. “I couldn’t sleep so I decided to take a walk. I thought I saw you but I wasn’t sure, so I decided to take a look. Sorry, I really didn’t mean to creep you out.”

“It’s fine. You’re forgiven.”

“So…”

Tobita looked away from the curious gaze of his popular classmate, ashamed of being seen in his disgruntled state, especially by the perfect and popular Takeshita. He feared how the popular boy would react to his being a disgrace to his parents and a failure in life. He feared rejections.

“You can stay the night at my house if you want. I live alone.”

“Wha—” Tobita spluttered, shaking his head and waving around frantically. “No, I can’t bother you that way!”

“It’s not a bother. Besides,” Takeshita stopped his waving hand and pushed it down. “I can’t just turn away when a classmate of mine is in need of help. I’m trying to become a hero, and that’s not something a hero would do.”

Takeshita’s eyes were bright and honest, like the brilliant sun that was too far out of Tobita’s reach. It was physically impossible to say no to that look.

“A-alright then. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Chapter Text

The breakfast table was silent except the sound of Hitoshi’s eating. His parents, sitting across from him, were staring vacantly at him, not even noticing their chopsticks were slipping out of their fingers.

CLACK.

The chopsticks clattered onto their plates, slashing food everywhere.

Hitoshi took a bite out of his grilled fish. When his parents still didn’t react, he said, “The soup is dripping.”

“Oh! Oh right!” His parents then jumped out of their seats and scrambled to clean the mess they had made.

Hitoshi chortled. “You look stupid.”

“Toshi-chan~” His mom, Shinsou Kyokan, whined as she dried the stain on his dad’s apron.

His dad, Shinsou Hakka, flushed red in embarrassed and kept rubbing his neck. It was a habit Hitoshi had unfortunately inherited, as he also rubbed his neck when he was embarrassed or nervous.

“So, Hitoshi, did something happen?” Hakka asked. “Aside from the incident yesterday, of course.”

“Hm? Nothing.”

“Really?”

Hitoshi nodded.

“Then why did you slick your hair back like that?” Kyokan asked as she put away the towel and sat back down at the table. “We’ve been wanting to cut your bangs for years, but you keep refusing to.”

“Refusing? More like growling like a hound dog and biting whomever that dares to touch his hair.”

Hitoshi glared at his dad, lowering his head and putting as much force as he could muster behind the glare, trying to look intimidating.

“Jkjk!” Hitoshi growled. “Heyheyhey don’t start biting me now! I’m not a fish!”

“That’s a good one!” Kyokan laughed and slapped Hakka on the back. “But seriously though. Did something happen?”

“Have you heard of a hero called Eraserhead?”

Kyokan and Hakka traded a glance.

“Nope, never heard of him. Maybe he’s a new hero.”

“Well,” Hitoshi munched on the grilled fish, his favorite dish. “He helped out with our lunch activity yesterday. His quirk is Erase and he can erase anyone’s quirk temporarily. His eyes glow red and his hair floats when he uses it.”

His parents traded another glance.

“Stop staring at each other and listen to me when I talk!” Hitoshi pouted, slamming his fist down on the table. Ouch. That hurt. No, keep a straight face. Don’t show it. Be a man and don’t cry…

His hands shook in pain and he hoped his mom didn’t notice that. Her quirk was Empathy and she could feel others’ emotions, but only when she wanted to. Hitoshi could only pray that she wasn’t using her quirk right now.

“Sorry sorry. Continue the story.”

“Anyway, when that villain attacked us, Eraserhead saved us and I just thought he looked really cool with his hair all floated up and all that. So I changed my hairstyle a bit.”

“A bit?” Kyokan cried in mock horror as she pointed at his hair. “You call this a bit? This… This monstrosity! This chicken nest! This… This—!”

“That’s a bit too much. Don’t you think, darling?”

Hitoshi agreed. That did hurt. A bit. He didn’t wake up an hour early to do his hair just to be laughed at.

“I… I can’t stand it anymore!” Seeing Hitoshi already finished with his breakfast, Kyokan grabbed his arm and dragged him to her room. “Come! Let mom show you how it’s done!”

An hour later.

“AHHHH I’m late!”

“And whose fault is that?” Hitoshi grumbled.

Kyokan ran around panicking as she gathered her stuff.

“Need a ride?” Hakka offered.

“No! I’m there to promote my story, not to scare the living hell out of the editors!” Kyokan slipped on her high-heels then looked herself over in the full-body mirror by the entrance. “How do I look? Good? Good. Alright then. I’m off!”

And she left, answering her own question.

“Mom’s story will probably get rejected again.”

“Don’t raise the flag, kiddo.”

“Aye aye.”


Yesterday was the last day of school before the summer vacation began. Kacchan was ordered to go to some type of summer swimming camp to “cool down,” according to Mitsuki. Izuku didn’t have anything in particular planned for the forty days of vacation. To him, attending YHP was enough fun.

“So… the usual lunch activity is canceled today!”

“WHATTT!?”

And that was how their day started.

“Wai— Sensei! What do you mean it’s canceled!?”

“What I mean is…” Shimura-sensei bent down behind the podium and held up a giant poster stand of five pro heroes in their respective, well-known poses. “Today, we’re going to sell Hero Cookies to raise money for the charity!”

“Ehhhh? That’s boring!”

“Can we eat ‘em cookies?”

“I want All Might!”

“Now now, settle down, kids.” Shimura-sensei passed the stand to Genji-sensei, who leaned it against the blackboard. “Being a hero isn’t all about helping people in need. You also need good communication skills! And selling cookies to the public is a great way to practice that skill!”

“Shimura-sensei is right! Besides, the money we collected will be donated to Shinsekai (New World) Charity, who then allocates the donation for various circumstances, like survivors who lost their homes in a disaster, or medical fees for victims of villain attacks, and the such. You’re still helping people, just in an indirect manner.”

Izuku had heard of Shinsekai many times on the news. Apparently it was the largest charity in Japan. Anyone who publicly donated to Shinsekai would immediately gain popularity and their reputation would instantly skyrocket.

Truth be told, he was a little disappointed that he didn't get to help people today. Helping people was fun. It made them happy and seeing them happy made him happy. The EXP and reputation points were just a bonus. But like Genji-sensei said, donating to charity meant you were doing something good right?

His mama had never donated money before but that was because she was already in a pinch raising him by herself with what little income she earned. His papa never helped, always sending them useless strange things (one year it was a candle holder shaped like All Might’s face that spat melted wax out of its mouth). But mama did donate his baby clothes and toys, saying they would go to the babies who lost their home in disasters.

Not donating didn’t make you bad, but donating definitely made you a good person!

After a brief explanation of the event, they were placed into a team of five again. This time, Izuku was placed with Aiba, Aoyama, a kid he’d never met before, and…wait—

Shinsou!?

“W-what happened to your hair?”

“I felt like doing something different today,” Shinsou replied as he ran his fingers through his messy purple hair that was slicked back, (finally) allowing his beautiful purple eyes to be seen. They were big and pure and a deep shade of purple that reminded Izuku a lot of grapes.

“Your eyes are very pretty!” The compliment slipped out of his lips before he could run it through his brain-to-mouth filter.

“O-Oh.” Shinsou’s face turned three shades of red in a split second. He ducked his head and rubbed his neck, which was also flushed red. “T-thank you.”

“Wow! It’s my first time seeing your eyes!” Namamono came up and leaned close to Shinsou, inspecting his eyes. Shinsou stepped back from the eager boy a bit uncomfortably. “Don’t they remind you of grapes? Your eyes look delicious! Makes me wanna eat th—ack!”

Namamono stumbled forward, a footprint on his rear. Ogami stood behind him with his hands in his pockets, frowning.

“Don't be a creep, Mamo. Let’s go, our team’s waiting for you!”

Namamono was dragged away from Shinsou’s “delicious grape” eyes while Manami shook her head with a sigh. He just never learned, did he?

“W-well, that’s that.” Izuku chuckled nervously. He turned to the kid he’s never met before, and introduced himself, “We already know each others from last Saturday, but we don’t know you yet. I’m Midoriya Izuku. What’s your name?”

[Observe] +1
Nekuro Mansa Lv 7
7 y/o
Quiet, reserved, pessimistic

“Nekuro Mansa. Also quirkless. Nice to meet you.”

Nekuro had a gloomy appearance. His hideous dome of black, dry hair matted over his face like a seaweed. Ladybug eyes bulged from his sunken face. His lips were dry and cracked, as if he hadn’t drank a single drop of water for a day. His body, pale skin and jutting bones, made people worry about his home situation.

When asked, Nekuro said that was how he looked like when he was born.

On one hand, Izuku was happy to find another quirkless kid. On the other hand, he felt bad for Nekuro.

The groups chattered for a bit before they were ushered onto the same bus from last week. The bus ride was just as loud as the first time. The outgoing kids laughed and bickered. The more reserved kids kept to themselves.

Shinsou was sitting alone when Izuku decided to pop next to him.

“Hey!”

“Hello.”

“So I’ve been wondering about your quirk!”

“What about it?”

Izuku scooted closer to Shinsou.

“You said Hagakure-chan would be afraid if you used your quirk, and that got me really curious. Can you show me your quirk? You can use it on me! I promise I won’t be afraid!”

“No.”

“Why!” Izuku groaned. “You were gonna use it on Ogami last week!”

“That…” Shinsou turned away and glanced out of the window, rubbing his neck absentmindedly. “That was just a bluff.”

“A bluff?”

“Yeah. I wasn’t really gonna use it on him. I was just scaring him. Cause I know if I use it you guys would all hate me…”

“I would never!”

“You would,” Shinsou turned around to look him into the eyes. “The moment I use my quirk, you, along with everyone who sees it, will hate me and think I’m a villain, just like everybody else. You’re just like them. So no, I’m not using it, ever.”

That stung. Shinsou’s words cut through him sharper than any of Kacchan’s insults had ever done. The fact that Shinsou thought that he was so blind and ignorant like all those other kids were…offended him. It was like saying Izuku was no different from Kacchan, from everyone who had ever mocked him for being quirkless. He knew nothing. He had no idea what Izuku had gone through. How could he assume Izuku was that type of person without knowing him first?

“I-I.. I’m not like them! Why would you say that!?”

Tears pricked his eyes and Izuku stood abruptly, staggering to the seat he shared with Manami without waiting for Shinsou’s reactions.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Izuku wiped away his tears and forced a smile to his face. He didn’t want Manami to worry. This was his issue. He could deal with it himself.

“Alright then. But if you ever want someone to talk to… I’ll always be there for you.” The shorter girl smiled and comforted, just like Izuku had done to her.

“…Thank you, Manami-chan.”

The bus slowed to a stop near the entrance to Quirky Lake, a famous tourist spot. Many years ago when quirk first manifested, there was a huge battle between the quirkless and the quirk users, who, at the time, were called “Super Humans.” A large crater marked the end of the battle. Over time, the crater became what was known as “Quirky Lake.” There were rumors that skeletal remains of the fighters remained buried deep in the lake. Some said they caught human bones while fishing. Izuku didn’t know, and didn’t want to know, if the rumors were true or not.

Once everyone gathered in front of the bus, the teams were led away by Ectoplasm clones with a couple teenage volunteers carrying the equipment and poster stands for each team. Izuku’s team was followed by a preteen boy with wings who manipulated his feathers to lift the equipment into the air. Their location was by the little convenience store that sold fishing gears among many other things. As they set up their tables next to the shop where shade was offered by an overarching tree, a quest notification popped up.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Selling Cookies]

Description: Heroes can’t be afraid to speak to strangers! They also need to be convincing in certain situations! Sell cookies to strangers to practice these two skills!
Status: 0/50 boxes sold
Time Limit: 00:59:59
Reward: 300 EXP, 10 reputation point
Failure: (A hero should never allow themselves to fail!)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

Izuku banished the window by selecting the first option. Now he had four ongoing quests: Shinsou’s and Aoyama’s, the Daily Good Deed for the day, and this cookie quest. After the talk on the bus, Shinsou had avoided looking or interacting with him. Izuku had never dealt with this type of situations before since he never had any friends other than Kacchan, and when Kacchan was pissed about something, he showed his emotions through fists and curses, instead of clamming up and ignore the other like Shinsou did. Since Izuku had no idea how to go about it, he decided to set Shinsou’s quest aside for now.

The other target of his quest, Aoyama, was currently organizing his boxes of hero cookies by arranging them into five by six rows neatly with their front side facing up. The hero he got was Ironman, a popular hero in America. Izuku got All Might, but not before blabbering on and on about his obsession and all the All Might merchandise he owned and documentaries he’d watched and annoying everyone into surrendering. Shinsou got Jacky Chan, a quirkless hero from China. He didn’t look too happy, but ever since Izuku met the purple-haired boy, he’d never seen him smile. Manami got Sombra, a hacking hero in Mexico who was mostly active on the internet. Apparently Sombra was her favorite hero, seeing how she literally fell onto her back giggling as she threw her hands into the air. And last but not least, Nekuro got Deadpool, an immortal hero from Canada.

Izuku dragged his cardboard parcel of boxes next to Aoyama, mumbling an “excuse me” to Nekuro who was next to the blond boy.

“Hey Aoyama-kun!”

Aoyama perked up with a dazzling smile.

“Ah! Bonjour☆! Monsieur Midoriya!”

“Bon…jour?”

“That means 'hello' in French! Monsieur means 'mister'!”

“Ah! B-bonjour… You can just call me Midoriya!”

“Alright then. Midoriya-san!”

“That’s better!” Izuku took some boxes out of the parcel and began arranging them the same way Aoyama did. "So, um, I've been wondering your quirk. You said you can shoot laser out of your belly button?"

"Oui! That's correct☆!"

"What can it do?"

For a split second, Aoyama's expression turned forlorn but it was gone as soon as it appeared and was replaced by his trademark dazzling smile.

"Maybe one day you'll see."

That marked the end of the conversation.

By that time everyone had finished setting up the boxes. Ectoplasm and the winged boy stood on the side, watching as their first customer walked up to them. A boy about a few years older than they were pulled his father over their direction while pointing at the poster stand of the five pro heroes. They were both carrying fishing rods and a container for lures. The boy didn't even hesitate, immediately running over to Izuku.

“All Might! Dad look! It’s All Might cookies!”

The father picked up a box, looking it over.

“How much is this?”

“I-It’s only a hundred yen Sir! But you can give more if you want to! All the money will be donated to Shinsekai!” Izuku gestured to an empty box labeled “100YEN.”

“Alright. Here.” The father took out two a-hundred yen coins and dropped it in the box. “I’ll take one box. Thanks kids. Keep up the good work.”

The boy grabbed the box out of his father’s hand, ripping open the packaging and began pouring All Might into his mouth.

Izuku let out a breath he didn't even realize he was holding. Talking to strangers wasn’t his forte. The teachers were right; he did need to work on that.

Time passed by quickly as everyone lost themselves in the sell. All Might was sold the fastest. Second was the American pop hero, Ironman. Third was the Chinese hero, Jacky Chan. By the time Izuku had sold all thirty of his boxes, there were five Ironman left, ten Jacky Chan, and seventeen Sombra. As for Deadpool, only three boxes were sold.

Nekuro hunched over in his chair sullenly, his seaweed hair casting shadows over his eyes.

“Nekuro-kun?” Izuku moved his chair next to him. “Let me help you!”

“You can’t do anything about it,” Nekuro mumbled. “No one likes Deadpool. They don’t even let us kids watch his films, so he must be an unpopular and bad hero.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Izuku retorted. “If he’s unpopular then they wouldn’t have put his picture on the cookie box. I see people talking about him all the time on the internet, and they seem to like him. So there must be another reason why no one buys them.”

As they talked, a mother-son pair walked up to them. The boy glanced between the boxes, unable to decide. The mother picked up Ironman and said, “Look at this. Isn’t he cool?”

“I don’t like him. This guy's cooler!” The boy grabbed a box of Deadpool cookies, and the mother immediately paled.

She yanked it out of his hand and placed it down. “No, we’re not buying that.”

“Why not!?”

“Ken, why don’t we buy something else? Jacky Chan seems pretty cool.”

“No! Tell me why not! I like Deadpool!”

The mother sighed. “Deadpool isn’t good for children. He’s… not appropriate for your age.”

“So what? You always say that but from the clips I’ve seen he’s hella cool!”

“Ken! Language!”

At this point, Izuku decided to interject.

“Ma’am.” Both heads turned to him. Izuku, standing up, resisted the urge to fiddle with his fingers and spoke. “I-I… um… I understand where you’re coming from. I mean, my mama tell me not to watch Deadpool because he’s bad. So I never did. But from what I’ve seen of him, he seems like a good person. He may not be appro…appropriate for children but he’s still a hero and he’s doing good things!”

“Yes, he may be a good hero, but he’s not a good person. There is a reason why your mama didn’t let you watch his films.” The mother tried to reason with Izuku, but he wasn’t buying it. He didn’t know much about Deadpool, but no matter how bad a person he was, he was still a hero. And at the end of the day, that was all it mattered. Heroes saved people, and that made them a good person.

“B-But this is just a box of cookies!” Izuku grabbed a box of Deadpool cookies and pushed it in front of the mother. “This isn’t a Deadpool film, or Deadpool himself. It’s just a box of cookies! It’s just snack, food! Eating this won’t make you bad! I promise!”

The mother didn’t speak, but instead glanced down at her son.

“Look!” Izuku ripped open the packaging and stuffed a Deadpool cookie in his mouth. “See? Nothing happens. It’s just a cookie, ma’am. Please, give us a chance. Give Deadpool a chance. We’re not doing this for our sake. All the money goes to Shinsekai. Please help us, help the people in need, by buying a box of Deadpool cookies.”

The mother looked a little convinced. Her eyes darted back and forth between Deadpool and the other heroes. Then she asked her son, “Ken, what do you think?”

The boy, Ken, accepted the Deadpool cookie Izuku offered and chewed slowly. “It’s delicious, mom. It’s just a cookie. You should try one.”

Izuku gave the mother one. She ate it, swallowed, and sighed.

“Fine. I’ll buy a box of Deadpool cookie.” Ken let out an excited yell as his mother took out her wallet and dropped a five-hundred yen coin into the coin box. Izuku was gonna hand her a new box, but she insisted on taking the one he already opened.

“T-that went well…” All the energy left his legs and Izuku collapsed onto the seat, his body turning into mush and sliding off of it.

“That… was amazing,” Nekuro gawked at him. “How did you do it?”

“I don’t really know. It just… happened.” Izuku tried explaining. “I just feel kinda bad for Deadpool, to be judged like that. And I really hate being judged… so…”

“Me too. I hate when people judge others based on what little they know about them.”

The two boys shared an understanding look, and both cracked a smile.

The next few customers were also easily convinced just like the mother. Izuku managed to help sell nearly twenty boxes of Deadpool cookies in around thirty minutes. At this rate, he would reach fifty in no time.

“Only eight left!” Izuku exclaimed. “We’re almost done here, Nekuro-kun!”

Nekuro didn’t respond.

“Nekuro-kun?”

The seaweed-haired boy was arching over the table clenching his head so tight veins bulged from his pale skin. Brows knocked against each other and eyes squeezed shut, Nekuro hissed through tight lips, “M-my… head hurts.”

“W-what’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure… It feels like… something’s clawing in my brain… and...” He shivered violently. "I'm s-s-so... cold..."

“Wait here! I’ll go get Ectoplasm-sensei!” Izuku darted towards the lake where he last saw Ectoplasm and the winged boy.

“Ectoplasm-sensei! Ecto—”

His cry for help was cut short by a terrified scream.

Ectoplasm and the winged boy were backing up slowly, cautiously staring at something… that was crawling out of the lake. It… appeared to be a human—Izuku was a little too far to see—and had badly ripped clothes on, but—

“Oh my god.” Izuku halted in his tracks, eyes widened in realization.

The people around him also noticed the being, as they began running around screaming and panicking.

Underneath the ripped clothes was a bare, ghastly white rib cage. The bones clacked with every movement it made, the end of the bones rubbing against each other and causing ear-splitting noises of nails on a chalkboard. The worst part was the head—no, it couldn’t even be called a head. Now, it was just a skull.

“E-Ecto…plasm… sensei…”

Someone collided into Izuku roughly, sending him sprawling on the ground.

“Move out of the way and run for your life, idiot!”

The person ran off, not even bothering to apologize.

Izuku pushed himself onto his knees, his hand scraped raw from the fall.

More and more skeletal creatures crawled out of the lake. The Ectoplasm clone was having trouble fighting all of them on his own. The original Ectoplasm was probably on his way here, but Izuku wasn’t sure if he could make it in time.

“Hey, you! Get up!” A hand grabbed his bicep and yanked him up. Izuku stared, shocked, at the winged volunteering boy. “Now’s not the time to lose in your thoughts. Hurry up and let me get you guys out of here!”

“O-okay!”

The winged boy looped an arm around Izuku’s midsection and flapped his wings. Izuku marveled as his feet slowly lifted off of the ground.

“Hold on tight.”

“Okay!”

With a strong flap of his wings, the duo soared through the sky. Izuku’s body felt like nothing, as if he was a mere feather gliding along the wind. In a few seconds, they arrived above the tables, and the scene they saw alarmed them.

A horde of skeletons had surrounded the remaining four children. Manami, Shinsou, Aoyama, and Nekuro were huddling together against the overarching tree, trembling in fear as the otherworldly beings closed in on them.

“Shit.” The winged boy cursed, scowling. “How do you expect me to not fight in a situation like this?”

Izuku bit his lips.

Before the winged boy could come to a decision, a skeleton stretched a bony arm towards Aiba.

“Dammit—”

A few feathers fell out of his wings and shot straight towards the skeleton. But before they could reach it, the creature was blasted away by a bright, blue stream of laser.

“Aoyama-kun!?” Izuku gasped.

The blond, dazzling boy was standing in front of the others with his arms stretched to his side defensively, his face set in a determined grimace. After the blast of laser shot out of his belly button, ripping a hole open in his dress shirt in the process, his body flung backward and smashed into Manami, who was caught by Shinsou and Nekuro. They all seemed unharmed, much to Izuku’s relief.

“That kid has some talent,” the winged boy chuckled as the feathers he controlled shot through the remaining skeletons, demolishing them in a second. He then descended and set Izuku gently on the ground. “You guys okay?”

“Um…yeah. Thank you.” Shinsou said. Manami and Nekuro were gaping at the winged boy, while Aoyama appeared to be lost in his thoughts.

“Come on. Let’s get you guys out of he—”

“Hey you!”

A gruff voice cut through their conversation. Everyone turned to look at a group of armed police officers charging towards them. The one in the lead, a big and fat and angry-looking officer was yelling at them.

“Me?” The winged boy asked.

“Yes! You! Do you know that public use of quirk is not authorized!?”

“The pro hero Ectoplasm gave me permissions to use it to get them out. We’re with YHP.”

With a swipe of his arm, the angry officer sent his team over to assist Ectoplasm while he made his way in front of the winged boy. With his hands on his hips, he leaned over, a menacing aura radiating off of his postures.

“But did he tell you to fight?”

“No,” the winged boy shrugged. “But what else do you expect me to do in a situation like this? Just watch them being attacked and not do anything? That’s pretty inhuman, dontcha think? I may have wings and I may have been called a bird or a chicken many times, but I still see myself as a human and I’d rather not be described as ‘inhuman’.”

“Laws are there for a reason. And laws are not meant to be broken!”

“Really? I’ve heard the opposite quite a few times.”

While the officer and the winged boy bantered, Izuku inched over to Nekuro.

“Pss. Hey. How're you feeling?”

“Much better.”

“Oh. That’s good.”

“All of you are coming with me!” The angry officer cut them off roughly and ushered them to a police car parked nearby.

Izuku stared longingly at the leftover boxes of cookies before Manami pushed him forward. “Let’s go before he gets even more mad at us.” He could only sigh as he dismissed the notification window with a thought.

The quest was a failure.

Chapter Text

Yuuga was still in a daze when he got into the police car. Squeezing in between Midoriya and Shinsou, he stared vacantly at the bars separating the driver and the backseat as he thought back to the rush of adrenaline that coursed throughout his body when he shot his laser.

He did it.

He actually did it.

He had used his quirk without hurting anyone. He was caught by his friends and didn’t hurt himself either.

So he could use his quirk without getting hurt!

The revelation downed on him like a drop of water dripping into a still lake forming ripples across the surface. Yuuga felt his entire world lighting up. Finally his hero dream didn’t seem that far out of his reach.

“Why are you still here!?”

Yuuga jerked back to reality and saw a large pink face inches away from his own.

“Get. Out. Of my car.” The police officer seethed and practically kicked Yuuga out of the car.

Yuuga stumbled a few steps to steady himself then looked around. The officer had dropped them off at the entrance of the lake.

There were ambulance and paramedics around helping people who were injured. Midoriya was talking to a paramedic who was bandaging his hand while Nekuro stood next to him as another paramedic checked his temperature. Shinsou and Aiba were sitting on the grass next to the YHP bus along with all his other classmates and the volunteers. No one looked severely injured, which was a relief. 

Yuuga headed over to the bus and sat down next to Shinsou and Aiba.

“Shinsou-san, Aiba-san,” he started. “I want to thank you for catching me earlier. If you haven’t, I would probably have hit my head on the tree and get hurt. So… Merci beaucoup☆.”

“It’s no biggie. You fell back so I caught you. It’s nothing special,” Shinsou waved it off casually.

“What he said.” Aiba shrugged. “Plus all I did was act as a body pillow between you and him, so you don’t need to thank me.”

“Non non!” Yuuga wasn’t having it. “You still protected me from the tree even though it was unintentional, so I owe you my thanks.” He crossed his arm and pouted, as if he refused to leave if they don't accept his gratitude.

Both of them shared a glance, then sighed in reluctance.

And Yuuga beamed.

He proceeded to make small talks to the other two kids. He chose his wordings carefully making sure not to offend anyone on accident. The two of them were both quiet kids, and so it was a rare occurance to have them actually join in on a conversation. Not only that, never had anyone actually paid attention to what Yuuga said. To be able to finish what he said was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and Yuuga couldn't help but take advantage of this chance.

By the time they had warmed up to each others, the teachers have returned with Midoriya. Ectoplasm-sensei had stayed behind with Nekuro to speak with the police for some unknown reasons. When asked, Shimura-sensei just waved off their concern and told them not to worry, and that Nekuro wasn't in trouble. Of course, that didn't stop everyone from gossiping about it on the ride back.

Yuuga sat with Midoriya on the bus. As soon as the other boy's bottom touched the seat, he launched into an array of compliment about Yuuga's quirk.

"I think you have a really awesome quirk and you should use it more! I bet others would like it, too!"

"Merci, Midoriya-san." Yuuga couldn't keep the grin off of his face as each compliment lifted off the weight on his shoulders little by little. The radiance of Midoriya's smile never wavered throughout the ride. It was as if he...actually meant what he said. Was Yuuga's power really not terrifying, or dangerous, or bothersome? Was it really likable?

These questions clogged his mind as he followed the rest of the students off the bus and into the classroom. Genji-sensei then turned it into the familiar field once again. The cookie sell ended sooner than the teachers expected, so they gave everyone an hour of free time before their parents would arrive.

In the past during free time, Yuuga always sat on the side and watch the others play (and show off) their quirks.

But today, Yuuga would join them.

Midoriya had begged him many times on the bus to show him his quirk again and Yuuga eventually gave in under the boy's powerful puppy eyes. When free time started, Midoriya immediately pulled him to the side with many trees and eagerly waited for him to begin.

With his back against one tree, Yuuga focused the energy to his belly button. They gathered without resistance and he pushed them out in one go. The beautiful sparkling blue beam of laser shot straight through the opposite tree, the force pushing Yuuga back but the tree he was leaning against stopped him from going back further.

Excitement bubbling in his chest, Yuuga couldn’t help but let out an excited cry. Before he could see if Midoriya shared the happiness, a foreign voice put a dam on his excitement.

“Woah!”

Yuuga whipped around in surprise. There standing behind them was Namamono wearing a disbelieving look.

“That’s so cool! I Why didn't you show your quirk earlier!?” Namamono clasped his shoulders and patted it for good measures.

“M-merci,” Yuuga coughed out. He wasn’t used to be touched so nonchalantly, but he didn’t want to brush him off and risk offending the other boy.

“Do that again!” Namamono urged, letting go of his shoulder and taking a few steps back. “Come on I wanna see it!”

“Ok…” And Yuuga did so. Another hole formed on the opposite wall. Some sparkles remained in the air after the blue laser disappeared. But this time, a cramp also formed in his stomach.

“Woahhhh!” Midoriya and Namamono were awed. Seeing their amazed face made Yuuga feel giddy. Knowing he and his quirk, the power he and his old classmates were so afraid of, was being praised and liked by others made him happy.

“That. Is. So coooool! Do that again! Pleeeease!

Yuuga was about to refuse, but he was afraid that if he said no, they might be mad and lose interest in him. And he didn’t want that. No one ever gave him any attention, so Yuuga would do anything to be noticed, to gather people’s interest. And if he had to continuously use his quirk, then so be it.

"Wait, are you sure—"

"It's fine, Midoriya-san. I can handle this."

And so Yuuga did it again. And so the cramp got worse. The pain was dulling his senses, and Yuuga bent over slightly, face scrunched up in pain. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead, and the familiar clogging sensation returned to his throat and Yuuga swallowed thickly.

"Hey Aoyama-kun, are you sure you're okay? You look like you're in...pain."

"I-I..."

Before Yuuga could say anything, Namamono interrupted him.

“That's amaaazing!!! Wowww! Do that again! One more time!”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea☆…” Yuuga murmured through tight lips, his breathing becoming shallow. But the excited boy didn't seem to notice it.

“Oh come on! Don’t be a spoilsport! Just one last time!”

“Last…time?”

“Yeah!”

Yuuga's visions were swaying and he had to lean against the tree to not faceplant. The bark digging into his spine painfully, he made his decision.

“Alright then☆.”

"Aoyama-kun!"

Despite the warning bells ringing in his ears, Yuuga ignored Midoriya's cry and struggled to gather the remaining energy. The cramp grew worse the more energy he tried to gather, as if someone had grabbed a hold of his intestines and twisted and tied them into knots. As he readied himself to shoot out what little energy he could gather, bile rose to his throat.

“Here…we go☆.”

The laser shot out.

Along with Yuuga’s last restraint.

“Pwahhh!”

In an instant, the foul odor of bile filled his lungs. Bending over a growing pile of his breakfast and lunch, Yuuga gasped as he tried to breath through his clogged nose and throat. More and more vomit escaped his mouth and some even made its way to his nose. Tears blurred his visions. He couldn't breath; he couldn’t see. What was going on?

“Holy-! What the hell, Aoyama! That’s disgusting! What's wrong with you!?”

That sounded like Namamono.

Yuuga blinked away his tears and glanced to the side, his eyes widened.

It was those eyes again.

Those fearful, alarming eyes. As if he was a freak who was so different from everyone else.

Now it was even worse.

There was also disgust.

Why was it so difficult? He just wanted to be like everyone else. He just wanted someone to spare him a glance… and treat him as if he mattered, as if he wasn’t any different.

He had worked so hard… He thought he could finally use his quirk without hurting anyone now… He thought people would finally accept him now. But that wasn't enough. It was never enough. Why did he have a quirk like this? Why did it have to be him?

Why was he so different?

"Aoyama-kun! I'm....I'm gonna go get the teachers! S-so, Namamono-kun! Please take him to the restroom!"

"Ehhh? Why me!?"

"Please! Aoyama-kun’s my friend and he needs help!"

"Fine then..."

Someone, presumably Namamono, grabbed his arm and hooked it around his neck. Yuuga flinched on reflex and tried to push him away, but the stronger boy kept his hold and walked him out of the classroom. Yuuga kept his head down the entire time, refusing, or rather, afraid, to acknowledge Namamono's presence. He didn't even need to ask to know what the other boy was thinking.

Disgusting. Scary. Freak.

It was getting too predictable.

Tears filled his eyes to the brink and Yuuga let them fall over the threshold willingly. He bit his lips to contain his pitiful sobs. He didn't need anymore harsh mockery, or pity, not that he expected any from someone who was friend with a big bully like Ogami.

At least, that was what he thought before—

"I'm sorry."

He received an apology out of all things, from the person he least expected it from.


A crowd had gathered around the scene when Izuku arrived with the two frantic teachers on his heels. Aoyama and Namamono were already gone. Hopefully the latter would realize his slip of tongue and apologize for not thinking before speaking once again.

"Everyone calm down!" Shimura-sensei bellowed. "Yuuga-kun is fine, and I'm sure he wouldn't want everyone to worry. Leave the rest to us teachers and go back to whatever activity you were doing before."

The crowd began to scatter but some remained around the scene. One girl scrunched up her face in disgust as she exclaimed in a mock, high-pitched voice, "Ewww disgusting! Aoyama smells!"

Another sniggered, "Pffft what do you expect? He's always making a fool out of himself.”

Izuku felt his face heating up in fury. Anger boiled inside of him and just when he was going to lash out—

“Shut up all of you!”

The voice surged over the whispers like a high tide in the low hours.

All eyes turned to the purple-haired boy glowering with his purple eyes ablaze. Silence only lasted a mere second before mock laughters crept up again.

“Why are you defending him anyway?” One girl scoffed. “It’s not our fault he always…pff…embarrasses himself.”

“Shut up… just shut up!”

The girl suddenly snapped her mouth shut, her eyes staring into space and her entire body frozen.

“You have no idea how painful it is to be different! Don’t talk about what you don’t understand!”

This time the silence lasted until Shimura-sensei coughed behind her fist.

"Hitoshi-kun, I'm glad you stood up for Yuuga-kun, but it's not right to use your quirk to attack another classmate like this."

The girl who just fell out of Shinsou's control puffed out her chest in pride, but then—

"And you too, Sakura-chan. A hero trainee should never make fun of other hero trainees. That's not only very unheroic, but would also create a barrier between you and your comrades. You may think it's no big deal, but small things like this can be used by the villains to weaken you down. You need all the help you can get as heroes. No hero fights alone; even All Might has a team supporting him from the shadows. So it's incredibly stupid of you to push your future hero comrades away from you."

Sakura blushed furiously in humiliation. Ducking her head down avoiding everyone's eyes, she ran off not looking back.

"The rest of you, go enjoy the rest of your free time. When Yuuga-kun comes back, please don't bring this up again. The poor child already had enough. He didn't need more rejections."

Receiving permission, the kids all ran off to play with a few remaining with the teachers volunteering to help clean the mess, including Izuku and Shinsou. Sound of the wet mop sloppily wiping the ground, to which Genji-sensei had turned the small patch of grass back, was the only noise in the clearing besides the artificial cicadas chattering in the trees. Izuku kept stealing glances at the other boy, but ever since Shinsou used his quirk on Sakura, he had his head lowered and a gloom casting shadows over his face.

“Shinsou-kun?”

Izuku shuffled closer to the other boy, his mop creating a wet stripe across the wooden classroom floor.

Shinsou stilled for a second, then turned his back to Izuku and continued mopping.

“Hey, I think that it’s very heroic of you to stand up for Aoyama-kun!”

“So?” Shinsou still didn’t turn around, so Izuku walked around to face him.

“So I think you should use your quirk more!”

At this, Shinsou dropped his mop and retorted, “Did you not see their faces when they saw me control her!? They were afraid of me! Of my power! It was a bad idea to use it!”

“Why do you care so much what they think?” Izuku spread his hands out as he argued. “You used it to help Aoyama-kun! It doesn’t matter what others think of your power. You did it for something good, something heroic, and that’s what’s important above all else.”

“Even if I used an evil quirk to do that?”

“I don’t think your quirk is evil, Shinsou-kun.” Izuku picked up his mop and handed it to the other boy. “It’s not like you did anything evil with it. Sure, you controlled her, but that’s no different from having, say, a rope quirk and tying someone up with it. It’s only evil if you did something evil with it, and I know you would never do that, right?”

“Of course not!” Shinsou declared.

“Then what’s there to worry about? If others think you’ll use your quirk for evil, then just prove them wrong! Use it for good, to save people and do other heroic things! Eventually, they’ll see your effort and their opinions of you would change!”

“What if they never see my effort?”

“Well,” Izuku smiled. “I’ll always be there to see it.”

Silence fell over them as Shinsou stared at Izuku with a rising blush on his face.

“Are you really not afraid of my quirk?”

“No!”

“What if I use it on you?”

“Still, I won’t be afr—”

Izuku’s body froze up and he felt his consciousness falling to the back of his mind, as if someone else had taken over it.

“Turn around three times.”

Izuku saw his body follow obediently, then as soon as it was done, his consciousness returned to its original spot and the world became wider, as if he had just taken off his glasses.

Shinsou waited with obvious anxiety for Izuku to react. He probably expected him to act different now that he’d been on the receiving end of the stick. If he thought Izuku would turn on his friend for something stupid like this, then he couldn’t be more wrong.

“I felt like a puppet.”

Shinsou snorted, a twitchy grin on his face. “That’s the first thing you say?”

“Well, that is the first thing I thought of.”

“And how do you like being a puppet?”

“It’s nice to just sit back and relax as someone else pull the strings for you.”

Shinsou’s shoulders shook with barely contained laughter. He shook his head, perhaps for having his belief turned over, or maybe he just found Izuku’s reaction funny. Either way, the fact that the sheen of ice barrier he coated all over his body was gone probably meant this was a good thing.

“So? Are you going to use your quirk more now?”

“You wish.”

Izuku smirked when Shinsou turned around to continue mopping. Despite what he said, Izuku knew it was just a bluff. After all, Digitalization had just proved him wrong.

[Quest — Fear of Quirk (Shinsou Hitoshi) — completed!]
[Leveled up!]
Reputation point +1


Aoyama was hugging a tiny orange cat when he returned from the restroom with a smile on his face. It took some while for Izuku to recognize the cat as Namaneko. That realization bought a fit of laughter to him. Clenching his stomach and wheezing, Izuku shook his head with a soft smile and mouthed, “I’m fine” to the human-cat duo who threw him concerned glances. Whatever had happened in the restroom, Izuku didn’t know, but apparently it had served to bring the two closer to each other.

[Quest — Fear of Quirk (Aoyama Yuuga) — completed!]
Reputation point +1

By the time the parents came to pick up their child, Nekuro and Ectoplasm still hadn’t returned. Izuku and the others would later learn that Nekuro had quit the program since the incident. The teachers refused to tell them what exactly was the cause, but a kid with an expendable ear quirk eavesdropped on them and found out that Nekuro was a late boomer and the skeletons were actually due to his quirk’s manifestation. The class had mixed reaction on this matter. Some were terrified of his quirk, some were glad he had quit, while the quirkless ones were motivated to see Nekuro who used to be a part of their little group now joining the 80% of the world with quirks. This showed them that late boomer wasn’t impossible and they do have a chance to get rid of the quirkless title.

Izuku’s mama was about to throw a fuss when she heard him getting involved with “dangerous stuff again,” but he quickly explained to her that it was just Nekuro’s quirk causing the scene and she gradually calmed down. Izuku could tell that mama was still worried from the creases on her forehead and the frown that she tried to hard to hide, but this was the road he chose and he’d go down with his decision. Even if his path to hero was filled with deadly vines and creatures, Izuku believed, with his loved ones by his side and Digitalization, he’d one day be able to fulfill his dream. True, it may be dangerous and mama would worry, but Izuku couldn’t turn back now.

Thankfully, nothing truly dangerous happened in the following weeks. Izuku studied hard at school, went on daily quest hunts with mama, had fun with friends in YHP, slowly stacking up EXP and REP points… Things were going just fine. He had became closer friends with Aoyama, who explained to him about the nature of his quirk and how it was hard to control and caused him pain if he used it for more than a second. Izuku didn’t like seeing his friend in pain, or rather, he didn’t like seeing anyone in pain. So he promised himself inwardly that one day, he would save up enough reputation point to buy Aoyama a gadget that would help with his quirk. The bazaar in Digitalization had everything he could and couldn’t think of. Surely, there would be a gadget that would help.

And just like that, time past, days flew by, months, years… And soon, two years had passed since Izuku first received Digitalization, and he was close to reach level ten and getting his first quirk.

Chapter Text

Shimura Aiko had been a teacher at the Youth Hero Program for almost five years now. She had seen students grow and mature and had her fair share of tear-jerking farewells with some memorable students, but never had she ever seen a boy like Midoriya Izuku who went after troubled individuals like a beast. He was a fairly normal boy when she first met him, but recently he had changed.

The moment they got off the bus for their usual lunch activity, his bright green eyes would sharpen and dart around frantically searching for even the tiniest signs of distress. When a cry of help split the air, he would rush there so fast it was almost as if he had a speed quirk. He could always come up with the fastest and most efficient way to help others, and immediately after the individuals said thanks, he would run off for the next one. It confused her to no end how Izuku was able to locate all those people in need without actually searching for them. It was like he had a GPS in his head tracking down all their locations so he knew them beforehand and exactly where to go to find them.

Aiko was the type of person who couldn't let go of something once it took root in her mind. Izuku's situation had been stressing her day and night. How could a quirkless boy possibly track down people so fast? What pushed him to this extent? What was his motivations? Aiko thought about it when she taught, when she ate, even when she was with her family. It bothered her so much that she couldn't help but eavesdrop on Izuku one day during lunch when their activity was canceled due to the rain.

"Watch this!"

Midoriya Izuku and Aoyama Yuuga were sitting together next to Namamono Henshin, who crouched slightly with his eyes shut and teeth bared. Placing his fingers into a cross symbol in an imitation of a certain fictional character whom Aiko swore she had seen somewhere, he inhaled and growled, "Henge!"

His body twisted and pulled like it was been sucked into a vortex. Colors blended together forming patches of orange and stripes of black. His form cowered and shrank, his limbs shortening and a tail emerging at the base of his spine.

"TA-DA!" The cat exclaimed, but no one seemed to share his excitement.

Yuuga smiled, "That's a cat☆."

"It's nyat! It's a tiger!"

Izuku smiled, "No, I'm fairly sure that's a cat."

"It's nyat!"

"Mamo." Yuuga lifted the cat off of the ground, ignoring his frantic scrambling, and brought him to the edge of the lake by the clearing they were gathering at. "Look, you're a cat."

Henshin stared into the water for a long, reflective moment before hanging his head in disappointment and morphing back to his human form.

"Maybe a tiger's too much for you. Why not try something smaller?" Izuku unwrapped his bento and Aiko stifled a giggle at how cute it was. It was an All-Might printed lunch box containing riceballs, squid sausages, rabbit apples, and broccoli monsters, definitely the type of bentos his mother would prepare. Aiko had met Midoriya Inko about a dozen time in the past two years. The woman seemed like the quick-to-worry and happy-go-lucky kind of mother. She was the kind of mother who would join her son in video game tournament and throw huge birthday parties for her child, the exact type that Aiko wished to be but could never be.

That thought brought a frown to her face. Aiko was married and had a son named Tenko. She wouldn't consider herself a bad mother, per se. She did everything she could to teach her son the clear line between right and wrong. But when her husband was the type of cool dad who would let his son ride around the yard on the lawnmower or trash the house when she wasn't around or maybe both, right after they had spring-cleaned the house the day prior, the child more often than not would prefer the dad over the mom.

Aiko had pondered every time Tenko looked down guiltily when she scolded him. Was she being too strict on him? Did she need to be more of a mother than a teacher? Was she doing her job properly?

Aiko snapped out of her thoughts when someone shouted.

"Smaller animals aren't intimidating enough. I need something like a tiger or a lion that's strong and fierce and scary! Big is power! Small is cowardice!" Henshin took a big angry bite out of his apple and chewed with gusto.

"Where you get that from..."

"Anyhow! I'm going to the zoo with my parents next week. Hopefully after seeing a tiger for the first time, I'll be more familiar with its form and can get a better grasp of it."

"Have fun☆," Yuuga said as he cut his cheesecake into three slices, offering one to each of his two closest friend. Aiko was still amazed at how fast children made friends. All her years of experience showed her that children weren't good at holding grudges. Take Aoyama Yuuga for example. She had witnessed the brutal verbal abuse other children put him through that day two years ago when he had puked. But immediately a week later, he was getting along just fine with the rest of the class. Yuuga even became best friends with Henshin who—she later found out—contributed the most to his breakdown.

Children... Aiko shook her head. She could never understand these adorable little creatures.

"You know, I still can't believe you sold your soul for a box of cheesecake." Izuku stuffed the entire slice into his mouth.

"Hey that's mean!" Henshin pouted. "What do you mean sell his soul? I didn't bribe him or anything!"

"Well, the main reason I became your friend is due to that cake." Yuuga hummed in relish.

Henshin sighed. "I was trying to make up for making you puke, and I saw you staring at the Cheesecake Factory so I thought you might like it. I wasn't trying to bribe you and force you to be my friend. I'm not that despicable."

"I know, I know. I'm just joking, mon ami ☆."

As Yuuga and Henshin began another round of bickering, Aiko simply made herself comfortable in the bushes and enjoyed the show. Ever since the incident two years ago, Yuuga and Henshin had gotten closer, so close that they went everywhere together. No one ever found out what happened between them in that restroom. But the week after that, Henshin surprised Yuuga with a box of cheesecake and immediately they became attached at the hips. Yuuga even started calling him by his nickname, Mamo, which was only used by his former best friend, Ogami Gin.

On the other side of the clearing under the shades of the trees, a roar of laughter exploded from a friend circle. Aiba Manami was lying on her back laughing so hard she was crying, while her other friends were staring bewildered at her strangeness.

Two years ago Manami was still a shy and reserved girl. But ever since she became friend with Izuku, she had opened up more and was no longer afraid to openly express herself. She was accepted for who she was, allowing her to do what she wanted to without letting others' opinions stop her.

Many children who interacted with Izuku ended up becoming more confident at socializing. Izuku was like a beacon, prominent amongst others of the same age and drawing them towards him almost magnetically. Even without a quirk, he would definitely have a bright future. Aiko could see it. The boy had it in him to do something great in the future. If he keep it up, he might even become an icon, a symbol, someone who would be marked in history. All the great people in history had been either praised for their talent or ostracized for being different. But one thing they had in common was that they naturally stood out in a crowd.

A few minutes later, Manami's laughter finally died down. She sat up, clenching her stomach, traces of laughter still visible on her face as she turned around and happened to meet Izuku's eyes. Then she blushed.

......

...Huh?

What was that?

Before Aiko could dwell more on the sight, Manami whipped around, her twin pigtails swinging and almost slapping one of her friend on the cheek.

Was that what she thought it was!?

"And see this?" Yuuga lifted the hem of his dress shirt and pointed at a circular pad on his stomach, a gel-like sticker on his skin that didn't seem to hurt him or cause him any discomfort. "A mysterious sender gifted it to me on my birthday this year. He said it's called PSS, Portable Sticker Set. It helps me control how much laser I push out and now I can use my quirk without hurting-"

"Hey, hey guys..." Izuku whispered, cutting him off. "What... What does it mean when a girl blushes when she looks at you?"

"She likes you." Both replied simutaneously.

"Huh..."

"Did our dear Izubaby get an admirer?" Henshin snickered.

"Wha- No! I... I don't think so?"

"Ohhhh?"

Both Henshin and Yuuga were grinning gleefully at him. Izuku swallowed thickly and looked away.

"Okay then, I won't ask. But tell us if you ever get a girlfriend!"

"Or a boyfriend ☆." Both stared incredulously at Yuuga, and Aiko spluttered, ducking further into the bush to hide her presence. "What? The power of love is strong enough to break through than any gender barriers. There's nothing wrong with being gay. My uncle at France was married to a man and his life couldn't be any happier☆."

It was good to be so open-minded, Aiko thought, still recovering from the shock, but she wouldn't deny that Yuuga did have a talent at surprising people with surprising information at the surprising moment—

"Chirp~ chirp~"

And at this exact moment, her phone buzzed with a new message alert.

"Dammit!" Aiko hissed, shoving her hand into her pocket and ripping out her phone. She unlocked it with a swipe of her thumb, effectively shutting it up, then dared a peak through the cracks of the bushes and was relieved to find the boys still chatting. Thank god her notification ringtone was the sound of birds chirping.

Aiko jabbed the message app so hard the screen protector nearly cracked. The few seconds it took for the app to load felt forever long as she lay there flat on the grass, her other hand tapping the ground impatiently as she silently cursed the asshole who sent her a message at a critical moment like this.

When the chat finished loading, the newest message stared blatantly at her.

YHP Group Chat

ERASED
mic n ill b starting the writing exam now n no comm devices r allowed if theres anything urgent plz contact Ectoplasm
MIC
WISH US LUCK!

Aiko could never get herself to dislike the scruffy man, despite how lazy and disorderly and unprofessional he could be at work, she had to admit that he was a good teacher. He was strict like her and almost never showed affection towards the students, but there was something about him that made him a likable person.

If it was anyone else who sent the message, Aiko would probably be sending them death threat emoticons right now. But since it was Aizawa, she just couldn't gather herself to do it. And so she settled with:

YHP Group Chat

MIC
WISH US LUCK!
Ai❤︎CoCo: Good luck and hope both of you make it into UA! You're both great teachers here so I have no doubt that you'll do well on the exam!
MIC
THANKS!
ERASED
thx

It was just like him to send a one word reply to a long, two-sentence text. Aiko could only smile softly as she put her phone away and picked herself up.

Lunch was about to end.


The rain was still pouring down mercilessly when YHP ended that afternoon. Children were told to stay inside the classroom while Aiko and Genji shared funny stories with them as they waited for their parents to arrive. One by one, the children began to leave. If there was any children whose parents didn't come, Aiko and Genji would take them home themselves.

When a fancy car pulled up near the entrance, all the remaining children pressed their cute, chubby faces against the window trying to see whose parents were this rich. Aiko didn't recognize the car. And from Genji's facial expression, it appeared that he didn't either.

"That's my parents."

Everyone turned around to the source of the voice.

Shinsou Hitoshi.

The least person they expected to secretly be a rich boy.

"They agreed to drive Izuku and Manami home. Is that okay?"

"Of course. Stay dry, okay? See you guys next week!"

The three adorable children smiled and waved at Aiko before bringing out their umbrellas and stepping out into the rain.

By the time all the children had left, the rain had died down to a drizzle. An umbrella wasn't even necessary, but Aiko used it anyway because why not? It was like what Aizawa loved to say, "If you can sit, then don't stand. If you can lie down, then don't sit." If she could stay dry, then why should she get wet? Even slightly so?

"No karaoke today?"

Genji shook his head as he locked up the classroom. "Nah. I have a high school reunion dinner at six. I'd rather not attend looking like I'd just been assaulted over and over again by a giant ten feet monster. Plus, the class president is paying so I'd rather spare my appetite and take good advantage of that. My wallet is borderline underweight now and it needs immediate medical attention." He chuckled dryly.

Aiko snickered. "Wanna be my sugar baby then?"

"Only if you don't tell your sugar daddy." Genji winked.

Aiko faked a disgusted face and hit him lightly. "You wish."

Genji broke out into laughter, and Aiko also cracked a smile.

They parted ways at entrance, each going their separate ways.

The way back home always felt a little lonely, even during the days when the sun was shining casting a warm glow over her. The rain didn't make the loneliness go away, but instead made it a lot worse. With the umbrella tilted down to cover her face, Aiko trained her gaze at the ground to make sure she didn't accidentally step into any puddles or slip and embarrass herself.

Plop... Plop...

Small drops of water hit the puddles. Swishing... swashing... and then, as if her body had just sunk into a tub of ice water in the middle of a blizzard——

Aiko froze.

Goosebumps danced across every inch of her exposed skin and she couldn't hold back a violent shook that rocked her body.

She cranked her neck, the movement strangely sluggish and difficult.

Fear gripped her chest as her body turned with the motion.

Her eyes dilated, afraid of what she was about to witness.

Would it be a serial killer raising a knife high in the air ready to stab her a thousand times? Or maybe the gaping mouth of a monstrous villain ready to swallow her whole?

Slack jawed and ready to scream any moment now, Aiko took in the scene.

No one was there.

Was it just my imagination…?

Nothing revealed signs of another presence in the street with her, but as she walked, the horrible feeling followed her all the way to the train station. It wasn't until she got on the train when the feeling disappeared.

Even when she was pressing tightly against the other passengers around her as the train sped through the underground tunnel, Aiko continued shivering to the lingering sensation of being watched. Cold sweat clinging to her back, she whispered quietly to herself.

"It's okay, nothing will go wrong. Everything's going to be fine…"

Eventually she was lucky enough to find an empty seat. After sitting down and relaxing for a few stops, the chill gradually dissipated. Nothing was out of the ordinary as she approached her house.

"I'm back!" She announced as she entered. A movie's opening sequence was playing in the living room when she passed, with three cans of unopened soda sitting on the table. "Tenki? Tenko?"

"O-over here…honey…" came her husband's strained voice. Fear twisting her guts, Aiko rushed towards the source.

"Are you ok— oh."

The scene was a nightmare. Her husband, Tenki, and her son, Tenko, were sprawled out across the kitchen tiles holding their heads down in fear. Charred popcorn filled every inch of every square tiles on the floor as if her husband's quirk had gone haywire again, just with popcorns instead of rain. The microwave was busted open with charred hinges and the smell of something burned reached her nose.

Aiko saw red and raw anger burned inside her chest. Her husband cringed, readying himself for the storm to appear.

"TENKI! TENKO!" Tenki stood up lightning fast and gave an army stance, hands flat against his trouser seams while Tenko hid behind his father, eyeing Aiko fearfully.

"Y-yes ma'am!"

"EXPLAIN. RIGHT NOW!"

"It's not papa's fault," Tenko whispered, refusing to meet Aiko's eyes. "I'm the one who caused that."

Tenko's soft, sugary voice immediately melted her heart. All her anger vanished and Aiko crossed her arms, sighing. "Tenko, you should know better to be careful with popcorn. This isn't the first time this happened. Do you how long it'll take me to clean up this mess?"

"Sorry..."

Aiko just couldn't stay mad when faced with those adorable puppy eyes.

Children.

They truly were the spawn of Satan.

Wait——

Wouldn't that make her the...

"And Tenki, I told you to look after him. Why didn't you do your job properly?"

She ignored Tenki's "ehhh b-but I tried!" and walked over to Tenko, crouching down and patting him on the head, running her fingers through his soft, light blue locks. Tenko stared up at her cautiously, the avoidance in his gestures gave her heart a squeeze. It pained her to see him so distanced with her. She had never raised her voice at him, not even when she got mad at him. Never once did she lay her hands on him. When she scolded him, she always did so when her anger had gone away so she could have a clear and focused mind and wouldn't accidentally say things she didn't mean.

So what was the cause? Was it because the way she acted towards Tenki scared him? And he feared she would one day do the same to him? If only he could tell her, she would fix herself. She hated seeing her family like this, a perfect image with cracks forming in the background.

"Tenko. Is everything alright?" Tenko nodded. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"

Tenko nodded once more. "I'm fine, mom," he managed a small smile.

Seeing him reluctant to say more, Aiko merely smiled and gave him a comforting squeeze on his shoulders before standing up. She knew what pressuring children to spill their real thoughts could lead to, so the best course of action in this situation was to stop pushing and wait for them take the step themselves.

"Now, you two clean up this mess while I go take a shower. Tenki? The kitchen better be immaculate by the time I'm done. And Tenko? Please don't eat the popcorn off of the floor."

Tenko stopped with a charred popcorn midway to his opened mouth. He frowned, and pushed it a bit further into his mouth, testing the limits.

"No, Tenko. A no is a no."

The popcorn dropped onto the ground as Tenko pouted, his big red eyes expressing the complaints he refused to put into words.

Aiko had to force herself to look away from those adorable eyes and walk upstairs. As she walked, she heard Tenki whisper, "Hey… hey Tenko. You can eat it now I won't tell mom." And then came the sound of chewing and a gleeful humming.

Sighing, Aiko pushed open the door to the master bedroom she shared with her husband. She dropped her backpack on the drawer and took out her phone. There was a dozen more text in the groupchat from Aizawa and Hizashi. Apparently, they'd passed the written exam with flying colors and were now waiting for the practical portion. Aiko sent a quick thumbs up before placing the phone on her bed.

Gathering a change of clothes, Aiko stepped into the bathroom. She laid down the clothes then turned on the water. Hot, steaming liquid flowed into the tub. The water was crystal clear, translucent enough for Aiko to see the bottom of the tub. After removing her makeup and wedding ring, she started undressing, humming a song to herself as she did so. The sound of the stream of water roaring out of the faucet and slapping against the water bank continued resonating in the small enclosed space.

Aiko washed her body as she waited then turned off the faucet when the tub was full. She then felt the water, testing its temperature, before stepping in and immersing herself into the heavenly sensation.

"Ahhh!" She let out a content sigh and leaned back. Her head hit the soft cushion she placed on the back of the tub. It was so relaxing she could even fall asleep right here, right now.

The water was no longer transparent and now had a green tint to it. Had it always been like that? Aiko couldn't remember. That didn't matter right now.

But somehow it caught her attention. She kept staring into the water. Had it just gotten greener or was it just her imagination? She was pretty sure it was just a light green a while ago, but now it was forest green.

Then she felt a slimy substance entangling her legs, and what appeared to be an eyeball swimming around in the substance.

And she screamed.

She jumped out of the tub and threw a towel around her body as she kicked the door open and ran right into Tenki's broad chest.

"Aiko!? Aiko what's wrong!?"

Aiko had never heard him sound so concerned.

"T-t-there was s-someone… inside… t-the w-w-water!" She cried, broken words trickling out of her trembling lips. Her wide eyes darted around frantically and caught sight of a frightened Tenko hiding behind the staircase.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it." Tenki's voice was strong and steady, as if nothing could break through its walls. He patted her on the back before telling her to stay outside the bathroom, then he stepped inside, a kitchen knife in his hand as he approached the tub.

Aiko watched with dread as Tenki placed a hand in the water and splashed it around. Every motion he made had her imagining hundreds of possible danger lurking in the corners.

After a minute, Tenki turned around, the hand holding the knife dropping to his side. "I don't see anything. Are you sure—"

The water rose into a wall of green slime behind Tenki. Two large eyeballs swam around and a wide, open-mouthed grin split across underneath the eyes.

"—you saw something?"

Everything happened so fast. Aiko and Tenko could only let out a terrified wail before the slime smothered Tenki.

The knife clattered onto the ground. Aiko and Tenko stood scarily still as the slime completely submerged a struggling Tenki and tried to stuff itself into his mouth and nostrils. Aiko was the first to recover from the shock.

"Tenki!"

"Gugh!" Tenki clawed at the slime in vain. His fingers sank into the substance not being able to grab ahold of it. His face was starting to turn purple from the lack of oxygen and his eyes, wide and fearful, glanced at Aiko.

"Get away from him!" Aiko charged towards the villain and threw a power punch into Tenki's gut, punching the air out of his lungs. Some of the slime was coughed out but they immediately went back inside.

"You little bitch… you get the fuck away!" The villain hollered as a slimy appendage shot out slamming into Aiko, sending her flying into the door of her room headfirst.

"Mom!"

Aiko barely registered Tenko's voice on her position on the ground. The towel had flown off of her naked body but that was none of her concerns at the moment. The safety of her family came first.

She forced herself onto her knees as the sound of tiny footsteps ran towards her. Tenko dropped down next to her and he placed a small, soft, warm chubby hand on her bleeding forehead. There were tears in his eyes as he pleaded, "Mom, please don't die. Mom!"

Aiko forced a smile onto her face. "Don't worry, Tenko dear. Mom is fine." She wiped off the blood with the back of her hand and stood up shakily, using the wall as support. The door had broken off the hinges from the force and the object on her bed was in full display. Her head spun and her vision wavered from the injury. She couldn't walk straight and the blood flowing into her eyes really wasn't helping. She wiped it again.

"Now… what's this? Let's see let's see…"

Came the villain's voice.

Aiko barely made out Tenki's slumped form when she stepped out of her room. The villain had almost completely overtaken her husband's body. His body was enclosed in the substance with only his head showing. The lower half of his face was now a grotesquely oversized mouth, the carbon copy of its original on the villain's body.

"Interesting… interesting indeeed. Let's try it out shall we?"

The fusion form raised their hand and a lightning bolt came striking down the roof and shooting through the floor. The lightning bolt almost hit her if not for her legs giving up on her. Casting a shaky glance down the hole, Aiko could see another hole in the carpet in front of the tv in the first floor living room.

"Weather… is it? Very powerful… amazing quirk. This is the perfect host!"

The monster made her husband raise his hand again, and this time, hailstones, lightning, thunderstorm rained down from the sky like meteors, hitting their house with perfect precision. Screams filled the house along with the maniacal jeering of the monster. A piece of the flooring crumbled as each stone and bolts hit the ground. They were running out of space to dodge.

Aiko lost track of Tenko during the devastation. When she saw him again, her heart leapt to her throat.

"Tenko, NO!"

Her boy, her precious little boy, was rushing towards the gigantic creature blocking the bathroom with a battlecry while he barely held onto the fallen kitchen knife.

"You think that can harm me? ME? YOU THINK YOU CAN CAUSE ME INJURY!?"

Aiko moved to drag her boy back, but she was too late. The same slimy appendage that sent her flying crashed into Tenko's small, frail body, wrapping around his mid-section and flinging him out of the bathroom window.

On the second fucking floor.

"TENKO!"

A raw, bloodcurdling scream cracked the air like a whip.

For a split second, Tenki cracked an eye open, just in time to see Tenko's body shattering the window. Somehow, he managed to move his body despite the slime coating his form. He shot forward and grabbed onto Tenko, who was hanging outside the window.

"Hold onto me!" He shouted. Aiko couldn't see what was going on, but as soon as he said that, he fell backward clutching onto his bleeding… missing hand.

Then there was a sickening crack outside.

Aiko paled.

"Is that… Tenko…"

The thought brought bile to her mouth.

"What a pity… I gave you control momentarily but you still couldn't save your kid… what a pity…" The slime uttered, each word was like an invisible hand grabbing and twisting her guts in the most painful way possible.

Tenki slumped over. This time, he didn't move. The villain controlled his body to pick up the fallen knife. It looked at the weapon, then a twisted smile ghosted over its lips.

"I don't need you. So die."

The villain began striking her continuously with the knife. Aiko had taken some martial art classes but still could barely keep up with the speed. Her headache was getting worse and her vision kept swimming, knocking her sideways. It only took one foot misplacement for the villain to cower over her with the knife raising high above her.

"Prepare to die… beautiful." It stared down at her naked body with a wanton grin, the large, gaping slit it called mouth extremely disturbing in the form of a smile.

But before it could make its move, for a split moment, light returned to its eyes.

Tenki spat, "I… won't let you… touch my wife!"

And he slashed the knife across his throat.

Aiko froze, not yet registering what had just happened.

The slime's disgusting round eyes glanced down at Tenki's stilled body, then they glazed over, as if distracted by something, and it slowly began seeping out of his mouth and nostrils.

Leaving a quiet curse, it slid past a frozen Aiko and downed the stairs.

When the slimy squishy sound vanished, Aiko snapped out of her stupor and finally took in the scene.

"T-tenki…" She crawled towards his body, and placed a hand on his chest.

It wasn't rising.

She pressed two fingers against his neck.

It was faint, but there was still a pulse.

She stared into his eyes.

He stared back.

"You'll be fine, Tenki. I won't let you die."

She cradled his face with all five fingers and activated her quirk.

The spot where his hand was missing began sprouting bones and flesh; one of her hands cradling his face began disintegrating bits by bits. The wound on his neck slowly sewed together leaving no scar; on her neck a giant slash ripped open her skin, allowing blood to gush out.

Tenki gasped and his eyes snapped open while Aiko slumped over him. He rubbed his neck with his newly grown hand, dazed, then noticed her.

"Aiko! Aiko! Wake up!"

His frantic voice was growing faint.

"Did you— oh my god… why do you—!"

She felt her energy leaking out along with the blood. With a last bit of strength, she uttered, "S-Save… Tenko… Be a g-good dad…"

"No… Aiko…"

"Make s-sure… he eats properly… a-and…" She coughed out blood, darkness chewing away the edge of her vision. "D-don't let him… p-play games… too late… s-s-sleeeep… early…"

"Aiko…" Tears fell onto her face. Were they Tenki's?

"A-an'… don' eat… charred p-popcorns… off of the g-ground… don't m-make 'em… b-buy 'em…"

"No!" Tenki's voice was growing faint. They echoed in the space around her, as if she was submerged in water.

"I-I'm sorry… I couldn't keep o-our promise…"

Tenki's hand shook as he grabbed her hand, squeezing it as if he was trying to provide comfort.

"I… I love you two."

"AIKO!"

And she let out her last breath.


The house was deadly silent when he entered. He carefully closed the door behind him and stepped inside, his well-polished shoes clacking against the ground rhythmically like the requiem of death. As he approached the living room, his pawn slid down the stairs. The sludge caught sight of him and quivered, causing a wave-like pattern to spread across its liquid surface.

"S-sir, y-you're early." The pathetic thing stuttered. "I only m-managed to kill two… but if you give me more time I promise—!"

"No need." The man raised a hand effectively shutting it up.

A scream came from upstairs.

"I'll take care of the last."

He began making his way up the stairs. The slimy thing got out of his way by rolling over the railing and landing soundlessly. The first thing he saw when he made it to the second floor was the slumped form of a man weeping over a dead, naked woman.

Pathetic.

He couldn't understand why anyone would bother crying over the death of someone. Death was inevitable. It was just another stage of life. It was common sense. They should have prepared themselves for separation when they fell in love.

Not to mention a dead body was no longer a human. It was just a stack of decaying flesh that served as food for the insects and animals. Why would humans cry over things like this remained a mystery to him.

The weeping man turned around when he heard the footsteps. His face was a disgusting mess of tears and snot. The weeping man was instantly on guard upon sight of his overwhelming stature, turning around fully and shielding the decaying corpse with his own body.

"W-who are you! What do you want from us!?"

"Us?" The word was chewed and savored slowly in his mouth. "I don't see a 'us'. You're the only alive human being I see here. It should be 'me', not 'us'."

"I don't fucking care!" The pathetic man scrambled to grab ahold of a kitchen knife and point it at him defensively, as if a mere knife could hurt him. "Did you cause this!? Tell me!"

"And what if I did? What are you doing to do?"

The man's eyes widened almost comically, then rage burned in those eyes, his lips curling into a sneer. "I'm gonna kill your ass!"

He threw the knife towards him and raised his hand. Thunder clapped in the sky as lightning bolts began raining down the sky at an alarming speed.

"Well, I suppose this would be considered self-defense."

In the next instant, what remained of the house collapsed, crushing anyone who wasn't preparing the annihilation into a grisly death.

The front door that was barely rooted to the ground swung open and the suited man walked out with grace and poise unfitting of such a sight. After the sludge also squeezed out of the narrow doorway, he gently clicked the door shut.

"So… um… sir? About my pay…"

"Go ask my assistants."


When Tenko crashed through the window, he honestly thought he was about to die. And so he didn't stop to think when his papa grabbed his arm and shouted at him to grab back. The danger of this situation grabbed the logical side of his brain and completely threw it out of the window.

And so, he grabbed his papa's wrist with all five fingers. And so, his papa's wrist disintegrated, causing his hand, and Tenko, to drop from a two-story high window. Tenko remembered landing on his side, a loud crack telling him his arm, and most likely some of his fragile ribs, were broken. The pain that wrecked his body knocked the wind out of him. He opened his mouth wanting to scream but no sound came out.

Sitting against the wall in the alley behind his house, Tenko clutched his arm in pain as he pleaded someone, anyone, to save him. He was in so much pain, and his parents, oh god his mom's head was bleeding, so, so much blood, and his papa was overtaken by that monster and his hand…

Tenko saw the fallen hand next to him and snatched it, clutching it to his chest and reveling in its remaining heat.

Would papa be mad at him? He promised to never use his quirk ever again after he accidentally killed their pet parrot Tengu. Would he be disappointed? How was papa going to live on without a hand? Was he still alive? Was anyone going to help him?

Some people walking past the alley spared him a glance and gasped. No one approached him; they all stood at a safe distance and either walked away or called the ambulance. No one came up to help him.

"P…please… help me…" his voice cracked.

Some of the people stared at him sympathetically, some replied, "I'm sorry but I can't do anything. The heroes will come. Heroes will save you. So hang in there, okay?"

But no one helped him.

Tenko didn't understand. Why was no one helping him? Why were people just looking at him, staring at him with those pitiful eyes and snapping pictures of him and apologizing, but refusing to help him? It hurt. His body hurt so much, and he wanted to cry, to scream, to scream all his anguish and pain away.

Click... click...

Tenko looked up when he heard a rhythmic sound. The crowd began to disperse and a stranger, a tall, very tall man dressed in a fancy suit walked up to him. Each step he took seemed to echo in the space around them. Although there were still people around them... Although other people were walking, too... Strangely enough, Tenko only heard his footsteps echoing in his ears. They were confident, strong, and steady strides. Just hearing the beats made him feel safe, like nothing could ever touch him again.

The man stopped a few feet away, and said (and Tenko would never forget these words), "No one came to save you. You must be in a lot of pain, Shimura Tenko. 'Heroes will come. Heroes will save you.' Everyone says that and no one comes to help you. Whose fault is it that society ended up this way? You did nothing wrong. And you will be fine because I am here."

The man's words were strong yet soft. His presence was oppressive yet comforting. And Tenko allowed himself to be taken into the man's strong arms and towards a safe haven.

Chapter Text

It was near ninety degrees and Shouta questioned yet again why he had put himself through the torture that was kneeling on the scorching ground for over five minutes already while being barbecued by the glaring sun.

"Meowww"

And just like that, all his self-doubt disappeared. No matter how much he was sweating or how uncomfortable the way his suit was clinging to his body, as long as Shouta was in the company of cats, that was all it mattered.

With an indifferent face, Shouta wiggled the crested dogstail hoping the adorable cat would fall for it.

"Come on... just a little closer..."

The cat followed the plant's every movement. Slowly but surely, it began coming closer...

"Yes... come on..."

Shouta had a hand out ready to pet the cat when he heard a rustle behind him. Before he could stop the idiot, Hizashi jumped out of the bushes.

"BOOOOO!"

The cat screeched, all its hair sticking out like a pomeranian, then it dashed away.

"Hiiiiiizaaaashiiiiiii."

"EEK!"

Seeing his best friend slowly backing away from him as if he was his worst nightmare brought a sense of satisfaction within him.

"Sorry! I didn't mean it!" Hizashi clapped his hands together and bowed his head, his expression truly remorseful.

Shouta sighed. He dropped the dogstail and stood up, swaying slightly when the extent of the heat finally hit him.

"Shouta, you okay?" Hizashi rushed to support him.

"I'm fine." Shouta pushed him away gently and started dragging himself towards the auditorium. The moment he pushed open the door, cold air brushed past him ruffling his hair and he let out a content sigh.

"That's why I told you not to go outside in this heat. What if you passed out? You would've failed the examination!"

"You would have woken me up with your scream before they would fail me."

"...uh. Fine, you win."

The auditorium was filled with applicants applying for the teaching positions. UA rarely, if ever, fire its teachers because they were all picked after careful considerations, so it was also extremely rare for it to have a spot open, hence why so many people came all the way here in this blazing heat just to have a chance at it.

Shouta and Hizashi sat down against the wall with two applicants next to them. Together they formed Group C. The written exam was already over and now was time for the practical portion, and then came the interview. It was common knowledge that most people were eliminated during the practical portion. Apparently, they would be given some type of scenario and they would either pass or fail according to the actions they took. The scenarios differed for each group so no one could cheat.

Group B had already entered the examination room, which was soundproof for obvious reasons. Very soon it'd be their turn.

"Do you think Ectoplasm would be one of the examiners?" Hizashi nudged him slightly.

"I don't know. I didn't think about it."

"Well, think about it then."

"It doesn't matter. It's not like we'll get an easy way in if we knew one of the examiners. UA isn't that type of school. And Ectoplasm isn't that type of person."

"You're right."

Both of their phones buzzed at the same time with a new message alert. Shouta took out his phone with a lazy glance, and instantly tensed up and widened his eyes when he saw the content.

Ai❤︎CoCo: Help!! viklain aftackmy housr?!!

"Shit." Hizashi cursed. "What should we do?"

Shouta didn't speak. He continued staring at the words, letting it sink into his head, rereading it as if that would change what it said.

"Shouta?"

Shouta exited the app and dialed Shimura Aiko's phone number. Once... Twice...

"She didn't pick up?"

"It says she's in a call right now."

"Call her again, then!"

Shouta waited, then called her again.

In a span of five minutes, he had called her over ten times, but—

"She's still in a call."

Hizashi jumped, hands waving around frantically. "We gotta do something! What if she's hurt? Or worse! What if she's dead!?"

Shouta clicked his tongue, rubbing the bridge of his nose with a frustrated sigh. He glanced at his phone again and, after a moment of contemplation, shoved it in his pockets.

"I'm going to check on her. You stay here."

"What!? No! I'm going with you!"

"There's no point in both of us failing together, idiot. I thought it's your dream to be a teacher at UA."

"But there's no point being a teacher at UA if you're not doing it with me!" Hizashi huffed, crossing his arms and glaring defiantly at Shouta.

Shouta face-palmed. "Fine, then. Your choice."

The duo ran out of the auditorium, gathering many curious glances as they passed by. The humidity hit them the instant they left the building. Heat filled their lungs with every breath they took.

"You got the address?"

"Yeah, I have it saved up in my pho—"

"Where are you two going?"

A voice halted both in their tracks. They turned, stupefied, as an old man walked towards them from behind the building while carrying a can of coffee.

"I asked you a question." The old man repeated, "Where are you going?"

"We… We are going to check up on a friend… yeah!" Hizashi declared.

The old man didn't look convinced, so Shouta stepped forward. "My friend is in danger and I can't just sit here doing nothing and knowing she could be dying right now."

"What about the examination? If you leave right now, you'll fail. You do know that, right?"

"Yes, but I'd rather fail the exam and save my friend's life, than pass it and have to bear the guilt for the rest of my life."

With that said, Shouta turned tail and ran out of the campus with Hizashi closely at his heels, not knowing this conversation would mark the turning point of their lives.


Medical and the law enforcement were already there by the time Shouta and Hizashi arrived. Due to their status as pro heroes, they quickly got a brief overview of the situation. Two dead and one missing. Villain attack was probably due to revenge, or some other personal reasons, since no jewelry or money had been taken from the house. Other than the obvious evidence of a fight, the house remained untouched.

Shouta had to look away when Aiko's covered body was placed into a black bag. To see someone, especially a friend he had known for over two years, who was so alive and well earlier this week turn into a cold, dead body in just a few days was like a nightmare—no, it was even worse than a nightmare. Shouta never imagined a civilian teacher like Aiko would be attacked, and murdered, by a villain. Unlike heroes who had tons of enemies and the likelihood of one of them holding a grudge was incredibly high, it was almost impossible for a kind-hearted person, not to mention a youth teacher, like her to do something that would piss off a villain to the point of murdering her entire family except—

Wait.

"Any lead on the kid?" Shouta pulled an officer aside who had just finished questioning a witness. "The villain must have a reason to kidnap him, and only him. I assume they won't kill him before they get what they wanted. There must be something, some connection, that the villain has with the Shimura's."

"I thought so too." The officer with the head of a cat agreed. Shouta glanced at his name tag, which read Officer Tamakawa. "From what we can gather at the moment, the Shimura's is a pretty peaceful household. The neighbors all have good impressions of them. They never had any enemies or confrontations with anyone that can result to this… They have no living relatives so the suspect isn't some vengeful family member either. Of course, a more detailed investigation might prove me wrong. But with the information we have now, the suspect is more likely to be someone from work that they've interacted with... By the way, don't you work at YHP too?"

"I volunteer there from time to time, to help supervising the kids and sometimes giving classes. Hizashi, too, goes there often." Shouta nodded his head towards the blond hero, who was staring sullenly at the body bags.

"Is there anyone there who you think could be a suspect?" Officer Tamakawa flipped his notebook to a new page, pen ready to take notes.

"No."

"…okay."

Shouta inwardly cringed when the conversation was cut off so abruptly. His bluntness had brought him many embarrassing awkward moments in the past and even after he became a pro hero, it still followed him everywhere he went like an annoying mosquito.

He thought about adding more to his answer. But before he could, the officer continued, "Now, one last question, Eraserhead. Where have you been and what have you been doing for the past two hours?"


Thirty minutes later, Shouta arrived at UA in a police car along with Hizashi. The examination had already ended. A few people in the auditorium were putting away the chairs while being yelled at by the old man from earlier.

After Shouta pointed him out, the officer went straight to the old man. "Mister, may I have a moment?"

The old man who was yelling at a young lad turned around with a grumpy look. He glanced at the name tag then gave a dry chuckle. "Officer Tamakawa, eh? Never seen you around. I assume you're new?"

"Yes, you can say that."

"Heh, good… good." The old man turned to the young lad and yelled. "Just put the broken ones aside and deal with them later!"

"Y-yes sir!"

"Hmph." The old man then plopped onto the ground and patted the wooden floor. "Come on! Sit! No need to be so uptight!"

"No, mister, I can't—"

"Yes, you can! A man should never say no! Now, now, you wouldn't want an old man to stand during questioning would you?"

Officer Tamakawa appeared to be conflicted.

Shouta could relate to him so well. He remembered coming across similar situations when he first began his days as a pro hero. There were so many rules on the Dos and Don'ts. And as always, when there were rules, there would also be loopholes. And these loopholes were what threw him into a dilemma every. Single. Goddamn. Time. In the end, he had learned to not give a fuck no more and just do what felt right to him. To hell with the Hero Rulebook and customs and courtesies.

And that was exactly what the officer did. He threw away all his etiquette and situated himself across the old man, crossing his legs and looking a bit stiff in his postures, while Shouta and Hizashi followed suit. The questioning only lasted a few minutes at most. The old man, whose name turned out to be Gran Torino, didn't ask what warranted the interview but instead answered all the questions skillfully with precise statements that left no place for further questioning.

Shouta and Hizashi were quickly cleared off of the suspect list. He doubted Officer Tamakawa even suspected them in the first place. He probably went through the process just because it was part of the procedures. And if this case ever went to court, he would have the necessary information to back himself up. After all, lawyers were nasty beings who would poke into every hole they found. A case could be completely overturned by one tiny loophole in the investigation and that was how many infamous murder case suspects were able to get away scott-free.

When the officer left, Shouta went up to the old man and thanked him.

Gran Torino simply waved it off like it was nothing. "No need to waste your breath on this. I don't need thanks. If you really want to thank me, then stop wasting my time and get on with it."

"Right," Shouta nodded and began heading out with Hizashi.

"Where are you doing?"

Shouta stopped in his tracks, causing Hizashi to bump into his back with a yelp. "We're going back home."

Hizashi groaned, rubbing his reddened nose in pain, "Yeah, I mean, we already failed the exam so there's no point staying here further."

"Who said you failed?"

"Huh?"

Shouta blinked. Even Hizashi stopped moaning in pain.

"You two have good judgement. You know what your priority is, and that's an important trait we need our teachers to have, because they need to know how to react under dire situations and make the right choice in the split of a second. Your putting your friend's life before the UA exam shows you have what it takes to pass the practical portion. So..." Gran Torino paused on purpose, his eyes glinting mischievously.

Shouta and Hizashi both held their breath.

"Congratulation. You've passed."

"YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

The entire building rumbled. Ground shook and windows shattered causing glass pieces to rain upon the unlucky ones nearby. Chairs sprinted across the auditorium as if they had grown a mind of their own. The lights flickered rapidly before going out all together.

When the earthquake finally stopped, the terrified occupants raised their heads cautiously, unsure if the threat was really gone.

Being the closest to Hizashi, Shouta and Gran Torino received the worst of the blow. Shouta was already used to it (though not to this extent), but the tremor still left him frozen, rooted to the ground. The old man, on the other hand, appeared to be paralyzed by the shock. His eyes had rolled back and his mouth was opened as a line of drool dripped down from the corner of his lips.

When Shouta tapped his shoulder just to make sure he was still alive, Gran Torino fell back stiffly like a statue and landed heavily on the ground.

"GRAN TORINOOOOOOOOO-SANNNNNN!"

The old man cracked open an eye, glaring at Hizashi while tripping over his words, "I-I... I may be rethinking my decision..."

In the end, Shouta and Hizashi had to clean up the mess all by themselves before they were allowed into the interview room. Albeit they passed with flying colors (by Hizashi's standards), Gran Torino didn't let them leave until he made sure Hizashi was repenting and reflecting on his actions. By the time they arrived at their shared apartment, it was already ten o'clock at night.

Both were utterly exhausted that they immediately passed out on the bed.

But one question lingered on their mind.

How the hell were they going to explain this to the kids at YHP!?


All Might had just saved a kid from committing suicide when he received a call from Chief Inspector Tsuragamae. The moment he heard that single, dreaded name, he vanished from the top of the rooftop. The kid's excited scream could be heard from miles away as he leapt from rooftop to rooftop, rushing towards the Police Station.

He made a beeline towards the Chief Inspector’s office when he arrived. Tsuragamae was rummaging through some paperwork in his drawer with his beagle head down. He shouldn't be able to see All Might, but he apparently did as he said, "You're finally here, woof. I've been waiting."

All Might sat himself down on the rolling chair next to the desk, his weight causing the chair to squeak in pain. "You said you might have a lead to All For One?"

"Yes. Look." Tsuragamae placed a document in front of All Might.

"Murder... Out of the three victims... Two were killed while one was kidnapped... Shimura Tenko... SHIMURA!?"

"And here's more, woof."

All Might had to suppress his shock as he continued reading. "Evidence of DNA in the trachea... possibly left by the attacker... DNA profiling... I-I-Is that-!"

"Only one suspect turned up from DNA profiling." Tsuragamae angled the monitor so All Might could see what was on the screen. The picture of a disgusting, slimey creature was pasted under a name. It appeared as though the picture was taken with a phone, seeing as how it was a blurred photo of the creature sliding past the photographer. "The gang we took down last month revealed their informant to be a green, slime-like creature, woof. They said he was their only means of contacting All For One. And with the victims of this murder case being the Shimura family along with his involvement, woof, there's a high possibility that All For One has something to do with this."

"All For One... that bastard." All Might crushed the documents he was holding as an intense aura radiated off of his person.

"Killing my master isn't enough... And now he has to come and destroy her only remaining family..."

"Calm down, All Might. Getting worked up over it now won't be of any help."

"You're right." All Might squeezed his eyes shut, frowning as he took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."

"You're good. Right now we need to focus on finding this suspect, woof. He can lead us to Shimura Tenko, and, ultimately, All For One himself. And one last thing," Tsuragamae pushed a sketch across the table. "This is a sketch of the man who was last seen interacting with Shimura Tenko, according to a witness report, woof. We suspect him to be All For One, but seeing you're the only one who has ever caught a glimpse of him, we want you to confirm whether or not—"

"It's him." All Might murmured, his eyes trained on the image. From the build to the suit to the face to the hair... There was no mistake. "This is the man who killed my master."

"Great, that'll make things easier, then. We'll focus on tracking down these two villains, and hopefully we can find them before anything happens to the boy, woof. Who knows what they want with him."

All Might left the station with more questions than he had before. The main issue he had was...

What did All For One want with Shimura Nana's grandson?

"Whatever it is... I'll stop you before you can taint him with your filthy hands." All Might vowed with silent fervor. "I will stop you this time, All For one."

It was a promise to All For One. To his master. To Shimura Tenko. But moreover, it was to himself.


Due to the fact that the most wanted criminal in Japan was possibly involved in this case, the Chief of the Police threw all the available man-hand into the investigations and all other cases were put on a hold. Efficiency sure skyrocketed when everyone was focusing on a single task, especially when said task was personally assigned to them by the Superintendent himself. In less than a week of time, they had gotten a possible location of the Sludge’s hideout.

All the evidence pointed at a run-down house near the edge of the city surrounded by abandoned factories. There were reporting of suspicious gooey noises and a blob of moving shadow in the back alley near a convenience store a mile away. The task force had then investigated every suspicious location, including the sewer, and ultimately found their way to the house.

Units were dispatched to nearby observation locations to keep an eye on the hideout twenty-four seven, while taking shifts of course. The planned attack was scheduled to be six pm sharp, which was the time reported for the suspicious sightings. They couldn't engage the Sludge while the possibility of the kidnapped boy was kept in the house remained. The boy could be used as a hostage, or worse, be injured from friendly fire. So their best bet was to have a team watching the convenience store for any suspicious movements while another raid the house.

Most of the manpower stayed with the team that would raid the house, including the number one hero, All Might, and a few other pro heroes. Most officers weren’t disclosed of the relationship between All Might and the Shimura family, only Chief Inspector Tsuragamae knew the significance of saving Shimura Tenko personally to All Might.

They still have yet to find any traces of All For One’s activities, but they believed that if they were to save Shimura Tenko, the man would definitely show himself. If that didn't work, maybe they could get something out of the Sludge when they caught him.


Crouched on the rooftop alongside a police unit, Shouta had his goggles lifted over his head to act as a hairband as he swiped through the photos in his phone taken during his time at YHP. Aiko was in almost every single one of them, smiling warmly, laughing with the children, eyes crinkling in mirth, arms around an uncomfortable Shouta and a cheerful Genji. She had always been the sun in YHP, casting warmth to everyone she interacted with and pulling them together by the strings of their hearts.

And now that she was gone, it was as if something was missing. Her absence was like a hole in his chest, reminding him constantly that something was amiss.

But it would all be over soon.

She could rest in peace because today would be the day her death would be avenged.

"All units status check," The commanding officer of this operation ordered through the radios.

As the units all rogered in precedence, Shouta cast one last look at the photos before stuffing his phone in his pocket and pulling his goggles over his eyes. When it was their turn, an officer beside him murmured, "Control west window. Everything code 4."

And with that, Operation "Avengers" began.


The dim television screen was the only source of light in the room. Light bulbs had ran out of battery a long time ago, and the owner of the house didn’t bother to fix it. It had been a while since the owner returned. The only occupant was the boy currently tapping the video game controller rapidly without the use of his pinkies. His dull, empty eyes were staring at the flickering tv screen unblinking, not reacting even as he set off a massive explosion wiping out a quarter of the characters in the market. Terrified screams of fictional characters echoed around him but the boy didn’t even flinch as he took down the guards, one after another, that tried to come after the protagonist.

With the aid of the darkness, the Sludge poked his head out of the drain and peaked from inside the sink, taking note that it had been ten hours since the boy last drank a drop of water. He knew Sir wouldn’t be happy with this information, not because he was worried of the boy’s health, but rather he needed the boy alive. The Sludge couldn't care less if the boy died, but he needed the boy alive to get his money. Because he had failed to eradicate all the members of that family last time before Sir arrived, his pay was pushed back until after he completed the next task.

The thought of that pissed him off.

Not just the pay—well, he did want his money—but rather the way Sir’s assistants acted pissed him off. All the money matter was handled by those two assistants. Even his pay. Sir didn’t say anything about docking his paycheck or pushing it back, but when he asked them for the money, they dared to tell him no. And when he complained to Sir about it, Sir didn’t do anything and simply let those two arrogant motherfuckers do whatever the fuck they wanted. The Sludge would have killed their asses if Sir allowed him, or if he knew what they looked like. The only way to contact them was through the VoIP phone in the house and the phone number he was forced to remember (Sir only said it once). The Sludge had tried, and unfortunately, no other phones could reach them.

No matter how much he despised those two assistants, he could only keep his anger in check and wait for his paycheck. Once he got his slimey appendage on that money, he’d get the hell away from the boy who forgot how to act like a normal human being and the Sir who was never a normal human being to begin with, not that the Sludge was any more normal himself, appearance-wise.

The Sludge knew Sir wanted to act as the man who saved the boy from the evil villain, which was him, the poor Sludge, and so letting the boy catch him wandering around the house was a big no-no. Staying out of sight was incredibly easy, since the boy wouldn’t look away from the screen once he started playing the game, no matter what happened. Once the Sludge tried overflowing the sink and letting the water flood the room, but even when the boy was knees high in the water, he still didn’t even bat an eyelid. In the end the Sludge had to drain the water slowly out of a hole in the floorboard.

It had been almost a week since he was tasked with this babysitting job. All he had to do was endure until this Sunday, then he’d get his money. For some reason, the assistants only worked on Sundays. Perhaps they’d get more freedom once they worked alongside Sir long enough. The Sludge didn’t know, not that it mattered to him since he couldn’t stand Sir’s overwhelming presence and wasn’t planning on staying any longer than necessary.

Now he just needed to focus on keeping the boy alive for two more days.

The Sludge squeezed down the pipe and landed into the sewer, making a splash of the nasty, foul-smelling sewer water as he moved with the water current, the green slime that made up his mutant body blended in perfectly.

About a mile ahead was a convenience store.

Time to steal some dinner for the boy.

Chapter Text

It wasn't until the sound of gunshots was no more did Tenko notice the thirst that had been trying to grab his attention for the past few hours. Leaving the controller on the couch, he made his way towards the sink, climbed onto a stool, and poured himself a bottle of water. The only container was an empty Dr. Pepper bottle on the counter.

It had been roughly six days since Tenko followed his savior to this house. He had noticed the destruction of his original house as he passed by. Nothing needed to be said. It was obvious his parents were dead. And yet. No heroes came.

The man had told him that he would be safe if he stayed here. Everything would be fine, and the sludge that killed mom and dad would be dealt with, so there was nothing to worry about. The man was never around, but even so, he would bring him food three times a day. They were just cheap convenience food, but they were able to sustain Tenko.

With enough food and water, and the newest inFamous game and console, Tenko was having a blast living in this shabby house. True that he missed his parents, but he was even more mad at the people who didn't help him when he was injured. His anger pushed his sorrow to the back of his mind as he unleashed his rage upon the innocent civilians in the game every day.

"Please don't hurt me."

"I don't want to die!"

Watching the civilians cower in fear as he shot past them and seeing them begging for help before he executed them always brought a sense of satisfaction within him. "Scum," they would call him; "hope you die in hell," they would say, but none of that fazed him. They'd be dead the next second anyway.

The water from the faucet tasted a little weird, but it was enough to sooth his dry mouth. Tenko took a gulp, kept it in his mouth, letting it soak his tongue. His mom had told him that when he was thirsty, the best way to get rid of the thirst quickly wasn't to take big gulps of water, but rather to take a gulp and just hold it there, letting the water moisturize his mouth.

Thinking of his mom brought tears to his eyes once again. Tenko willed them away, licking his dry lips as he took the bottle with him towards the couch. The best way to forget about her was to drown himself in the game.

As he picked up the controller, getting ready to kill some activists, he heard a noise by the entrance. And the next thing he knew, dozens of armed police officers barged through the door, pointing their weapons at him.

"Wha-"

A single sound uttered out of his lips before it was crushed by an officer barking orders.

"It's the boy! We found the boy!"

One of them lowered his weapon and ran up to him, looking as if he was about to grab onto Tenko.

Tenko shrieked, backing away to the other side of the couch and waving his hand wildly. "Get away from me! Don't touch me!"

"Be careful!" Another officer yelled. "He'll disintegrate you if he touches you!"

The first officer lowered his hand and glanced at Tenko with a look as if he was a criminal, a dangerous beast, an animal who should be kept in the zoo. That look brought up the anger within him, overriding his sorrow. Tenko got off the couch and hunched slightly, glaring defiantly at the armed officers.

Before either side could make a move, a familiar voice spoke up from the corner of the room.

"What an awful thing to say to a child. Don't you agree, Shimura Tenko?"

All the eyes in the room landed on his savior who emerged from the shadow. Tenko watched in confusion as terror fell on the faces of the officers the moment they caught sight of him. What were they so afraid of? His savior was the good guy here. Why were they pointing their weapons at him as if he was the villain?

"Stay back! Don't come any closer!"

His savior continued walking towards the police while Tenko stood there, unsure of what to do.

"It's a pleasure meeting you, Shimura Tenko." His savior said as he passed him. "You've served your purpose and I don't have use of you no more."

Before Tenko could voice his questions, the window behind him exploded as a flash of red, blue, and yellow burst through, enveloping him in a hug before any sharps could harm him and, in the blink of an eye, reappearing outside the shack where dozens of police officers and a couple heroes stood.

The number one hero, All freaking Might, set him down on the ground with a gentleness uncharacteristic of his statute, patted him on the head with his bright, signature smile, and dashed inside the house moments before an explosion rocked the compound.

"Be careful!" A female officer rushed towards him, trying to grab onto him.

Tenko pushed out his hands in reflex, his fingers almost touching her wrist before—

He actually touched her wrist.

And her skin didn't disintegrate.

What in the world was going on here?

"Thank god you're here, Eraserhead!" The officer let out a sigh of relief as she smiled at a man with floating hair who was boring his red eyes into Tenko. "Come on, let's get you out of here."

Too confused to argue, Tenko allowed himself to be dragged away and pushed gently into a police car.

The last thing he saw was the house going up aflame as two contrasting individuals went up against each other in a heated exchange of attacks before the view disappeared over the horizon as the police car drove away. As he sat next to the hero named Eraserhead while clenching his father in his pocket, one thought stood out in his mind above all others.

He forgot to save the game.


"Mom! How much longer?"

Inko replied without turning around. "Just a few more minutes!"

"Hurry up mom! I don't wanna be late! It'd leave a bad impression for Toshi's parents!" Izuku exclaimed as he bounced up and down on the couch, occasionally jumping from one couch to another. Normally he wasn't this hyperactive. Today was just a special occasion.

"I'm sure Kyokan-san and Hakka-san already have a good impression of you. After all, you've known Hitoshi-kun for over two years already." Inko turned off the stove and flipped the pancake onto a plate. She then proceeded to cut the pancake into the shape of a cat's face. "Izu-chan, I know Hitoshi-kun likes cats, but are you sure he likes sweets as well?"

"Yeah, I'm sure! He asks me for candies every day!"

That last part was not completely true. What Izuku didn't tell her was that Shinsou, along with everyone else at YHP and elementary school, treated Izuku as a candy vendor. For one, he had unlimited number of candies of all types and brands. And secondly, he would sell them for half the price on the market, or he'd give them out for free in return for a favor. For those who didn't like candies, Izuku had other treats like chocolates, soda, and even those cans of coffee that adults banned them from due to their young age. Everyone was already very familiar with Izuku and his magic backpack that contained every treat they could ever imagine. No one would be surprised if Izuku magically pulled out a frozen ice-cream on a hot, sunny day.

Of course, it wasn't actual magic that helped him pull his tricks; it was Digitalization. After two years of stocking up reputation points, Izuku had thousands saved up with no place to spend. He had used up 3000 rep points to exchange a gadget for Yuuga over half a year ago and didn't give it to him until his birthday around two months ago. Izuku had mailed the package to his friend anonymously with the help of GOLA not because he wanted to play mysterious, but rather because it'd be troublesome if words got out and he was questioned the source of the gadget.

So far Inko was the only person Izuku had spilled his secret to because he knew he could trust her. Digitalization was too powerful of an ability to share with just anyone. Not only could you commit theft, smuggling, and many similar crimes with the inventory, you could also buy dangerous items like Death Note that could kill anyone whose name was written in it and Cataclysm that could destroy this planet. Just imagine the chaos that would ensue if this got into the wrong hand. Maybe Digitalization couldn't be transferred to another person, but that didn't mean others would stop trying. Izuku could very well end up having his head plastered on a wanted poster in the black market with hundreds of criminals on his tail. Not to mention mad scientists and quirk specialists who would want to dissect and experiment on him to see the extent of this power.

If Izuku wanted to live a normal life, revealing Digitalization to others would be the stupidest thing he could ever do. Pulling sweets out of his bag could be seen as a magic trick. Suddenly having a quirk (when he reached level 10) could make him a late boomer. But for a quirkless eight-year-old to have a hero gadget that rivaled the capabilities of those currently on the market would definitely rouse suspicion of the many, hence why Izuku was forced to give Yuuga PSS anonymously.

Before spending 3000 on Portable Sticker Set, Izuku had already spent a thousand buying himself a new PS4 (the Digitalization disc was stuck in his old one and no matter what he did, he couldn't get it out). Inko had volunteered to purchase it for him so he didn't need to spend his rep points, but he turned down her offer. The purpose of earning rep points was to use them for his benefit. There was no point saving up tons of points and never using them. Plus, every year he would earn around 3000 point so whatever he spent would soon get replenished.

After that, he still had a couple thousand left, and so the candy business began. The inspiration came from the magic trick he performed for the invisible girl, Hagakure. She was so happy after seeing his "magic" and a simple piece of candy was all of a sudden so much more magical when given out like that. Izuku thought that if a simple magic trick could make someone smile like that, couldn't he also use it to make friends?

That turned out to be an excellent idea. With candies and magic trick as enticement, even a quirkless kid like him was able to quickly rise in popularity among his classmates. His being quirkless made his tricks more authentic, because they were bona fide skills unlike many magicians out there who used their quirks to perform fake magic acts. Those who used to mock him along with Kacchan were now hanging out with him every day. Even Kacchan bullied him less. He stilled laughed at him for being quirkless and how Izuku would never be as strong as he was, but he didn't make any negative comment about the tricks. Izuku caught him staring once when he was selling candies, and when Izuku volunteered to perform his iconic disappearing act, Kacchan simply grunted in response and stormed away.

Selling candies didn't use up a lot of reputation points. After taking out those spent from the total he gained every week, he was still making profit (not to mention actual money, too).

While waiting for Inko to prepare the pancake, Izuku pulled up his profile.

Name: Midoriya Izuku
Title: none
LV: 9 EXP: 15555/25600 (required EXP doubles every level)
HP: 3375/3375 (0.9375/s)
MP: 3375/3375 (0.9375/s)
Age: 8
Quirk(s): none
STR: 8 (8 being average for your age)
DEF: 8
SPE: 10
DEX: 10
Attribute points: 1
LUCK: 6 (changes everyday)
REP points: 4658
Techniques:
Observe Lv 10 (42/1687 EXP): observe people [name, level, age, personality, and status (level 10 upgrade)] and items' stats [title, description, durability, and ability (level 10 upgrade)].
MP usage: 50MP per use

Search Lv 5 (356/510 EXP): search for your target faster, taking in more of the surroundings faster (level 5 upgrade)
MP usage: N/A (Technique is passive.)

Sprint Lv 7 (987/1022 EXP): provide a 25% boost of SPEED when running, use 25% less stamina (level 5 upgrade)
MP usage: 100MP per use. Last 5 seconds.

Jump Lv 6 (700/715 EXP): provide a 25% boost of STRENGTH in your legs when jumping, can now jump as high as your physical height (level 5 upgrade)
MP usage: 100MP per use.

Izuku took out a pencil and a notebook from his inventory.

"25600 - 15555 = ......" He wrote. "26000 - 16000 = 26 - 16 = 10"

"So I need about 10,000 more EXP points to reach level ten... to gain my first quirk..." Izuku sighed. That would take quite a while. Now that his level was higher, the rewards he earned from quests were much higher than they were before, but no quests would reward him ten-thousand EXP all at once. Recently during lunch activity at YHP he would use all the time he had to ravage quests like crazy, even others had noticed his urgency and questioned him his behavior. He couldn't help it. He had waited his entire life and now he was finally so, so close to getting his first quirk. Mere words could not describe his excitement.

“Izu-chan, the pancakes are ready!”

“Coming!”

Izuku hurried to the kitchen where Inko was carrying a box of pancakes, smiling.

“Thanks mom!” Izuku placed a hand on the box and it vanished, reappearing in his inventory, which now contained his security alarm (1/13), bike (2/13), notebooks (3/13), candies (4/13), ice creams (5/13), four-leaf clover (6/13), flash bomb 1 (7/13), flash bomb 2 (8/13), a bag of cat food (9/13), a bottle of milk (10/13), a bowl of cereal (11/13), complete set of 100 eating utensils (12/13), and the pancakes (13/13). Throughout the year he had earned all sorts of weird things from quests. Some came and went, but he had never found the instances to use the cat food, milk, cereal, and eating utensils. If one day he needed more slots, he would trash these items, but for now he decided to leave them there. They might come in handy one day, who knew?

“Wow. No matter how many times I see you do that trick, it’s still amazing.”

“Heehee,” Izuku giggled. He grabbed his magic backpack and pulled his bike out of the inventory. “See you tomorrow, mom!”

“Be careful! Make sure you ride on the sidewalk, be nice to the Shinsous, and wake up on time tomorrow morning.”

“I will, mom!”

The door closed gently behind him. Izuku scrunched his eyes up when sunlight shone directly at them. The sun was setting and very soon it’d be too dark for a young kid like him to walk the street alone.

Hitoshi’s house was about a ten minute ride from his house. Izuku had only been there once and that was when they accidentally switched their identical water bottles. He had marked the house on his map before he left so he would know how to reach Hitoshi next time something happened. With the map virtually showing a flashing dot representing his current location, Izuku sped down the street heading towards his destination.

The agreed time of arrival was six-thirty pm. Izuku didn't want to be late so he left the house at a little past six. He was pretty sure he would make it on time.

Just as that thought entered his mind, an exclamation mark popped up on the map along with a series of loud explosions in the area to his right.

Izuku’s bicycle gave a long screech when he sharply pulled the brake. He tapped the exclamation mark mentally and was astounded by the information he saw.

Quest alert!
[Main Quest: Killing All For One]

Description: All For One is the most dangerous villain in all of Japan and he is currently fighting All Might. Help All Might defeat All For One. If not, the future may be jeopardized.
Time Limit: 00:04:59
Reward: 10,000 EXP, 100 reputation points, The Punisher (skill)
Failure: All Might could die.

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

Izuku was completely immobilized, shocked beyond belief and filled with uncertainty and dread.

Never in his two years of using Digitalization had he ever seen a main quest, or any quest that gave out a skill and ten-thousand EXP all at once! Not to mention such an ominous quest that actually encouraged him to k-k-kill someone. Sure villains were evil, b-but they didn't deserve to be killed!

Time was ticking and Izuku knew he had to come to a decision soon. Could he really kill someone? Did he have the capability of killing someone? He was just an eight-year old kid. What could he do!?

3:56…3:55…3:54…

B-but if he didn't do this, All Might could die! He may have spoken some harsh words to Izuku but he didn't deserve to die! No one did!

3:20…3:19…3:18…

But he had to choose! Either the villain die, or All Might die!

2:44…2:43…2:42…

And this may just be his short-cut to quickly reach level 10. If he let this opportunity slip, it would take at least a few months for him to level up and get his first quirk!

1:38…1:37…1:36…

The answer was obvious.

1:20…1:19…

Izuku accepted the quest and roughly manhandled his bicycle around the corner and into an alley that led him onto a path of total destruction. Debris and collapsed buildings blocked the road and Izuku was forced to jump off his bike and sprint his way across.

0:59…0:58…0:57…

[Sprint lv 7] is activated. Remaining seconds 5…4…3…”
[Sprint] +1

Finally, after climbing over a flipped-over remains of a wrecked truck, Izuku saw a lone figure standing proud and tall on top of a pile of rubble in the distance. Two strands of blond hair barely sticking up on his forehead, a fantastic mix of red, blue, and yellow making his costume the most iconic uniform in Japan, and a tired frown straining his face… All Might was breathing heavily as he looked down at the suited man lying by his feet. He stood there for a couple seconds before turning his back towards the man and squeezing his eyes shut as if the sight pained him.

This scene should mean only one thing:

0:29…0:28…0:27…

All Might had won.

0:18…0:17…

So why…

0:14…0:13…

Why was the timer still going!?

0:11…0:10…

In the next second, faster than Izuku could track with his naked eye, the suited man sprung up and lunged towards All Might’s back with a glowing hand.

0:08…0:07…

A sinister vortex of dark red colors swirling in his palm, he aimed that thing at All Might’s exposed left side——

0:06…0:05…

Izuku had no time to think. He had to do something! But what!?

0:04…

His eyes landed on the first item he thought of and he yanked it out of his inventory.

0:03…

He hurled it towards the villain…

0:02…

But he underestimated his strength and the flash bomb dropped right by his feet.

0:01…

“Your luck has changed to 8 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

It exploded on impact.


All Might’s eyes glazed over as his rage slowly dissipated. It was then when he finally took in the damage they had caused around them and reality finally downed on him.

It was his first time truly wanting someone dead.

All those years he had spent enforcing justice and ensuring the peace of the city, and now he himself lost control of his emotions and went on a rampage. How was he any different from the villains and criminals? How would the citizens think if their Symbol of Peace, the number 1 hero everyone looked up to, had tried to kill someone? What about the kids who saw their personification of justice committing murder? They would think killing another human being was perfectly justified!

If there was anyone who should never kill someone, it should be All Might. He held too many influences over the citizens. People looked up to him and followed after his footsteps. One mishap could have an incredible amount of negative influence over the adolescents. All Might was a God, a Symbol, the pillar of justice who could do no wrong.

Yagi Toshinori, on the other hand, was a human who had no image he needed to maintain. He could make mistakes with less severe consequences. It was fine for him to let his emotions get the better of him, but that wasn’t the case for All Might.

All Might turned his back to his fallen foe, unable to stare at the sight any longer. He couldn't be any more thankful that no one was around to witness him killing All For One, especially someone like…a child. All the other heroes who participated in Operation Avengers with him were either severely wounded and unconscious, or ambushing the convenience store. He had to quickly get them immediate medical attention, deal with All For One’s corpse, and see how Shimura Tenko was doing——

A rustle. The sound of air being sucked into a vacuum.

All Might noticed too late. When he realized the targeted spot, the mad sphere of pure evil energy was inches away from his exposed left side——

Then a loud bang tore both of their attention away momentarily. And that one milli-second of distraction was all he needed to narrowly dodge the attack, grab All For One’s arm, and thrust the evil energy directly into his unprepared abdomen.

The man only had the time to let out a single, choked noise before his body swirled with the crimson energy and got sucked inside the vortex, vanishing with a crack.

Time seemed to have stopped as blood flowed to his head and all he could hear was his heavy breathing and the abnormally fast beating of his heart. His hands still outstretched, fingers weakly grasping the air where that crack in space resided, All Might waited with bated breath as if expecting All For One to pop into existence with a deadly jump scare.

His breathing and heart rate slowly returned to normal. All Might withdrew his hand and clenched his fist, letting out a long sigh. He then turned to the source of the bang and froze on the spot.

There standing in midst of the dispelling cloud of dust was a very familiar boy with that almost as iconic as his design green fluffy hairdo and round and hopeful jaded eyes. As All Might watched the boy cough profusely while attempting to clear the dusts with his other arm covering his eyes, his inner was in turmoil.

Two years ago he had said some harsh words towards the kid when he first met him, telling him a quirkless person couldn't become a hero and should give up early. Yet, here he was now having his ass saved by the very boy of whom he had denied the dream. All Might didn't want the boy to get hurt during his pursue but if he told the boy the same thing now, he would just look like an asshole and a hypocrite for turning a blind eye to his achievement. But if he was to eat back his words and tell him to go for it, he would look like an idiot and lose all credibility.

All Might was still conflicted, but staying in this staring contest with the boy wouldn’t do either. He had to thank the boy properly… and perhaps…apologize.

In one single leap, All Might landed in front of the boy, the tremor causing the rubble he had been standing on to collapse into one scattered heap.

“It appears that we have met again, young man,” All Might greeted with a cheerful grin as if nothing was amiss.

“A-A-All Might!” The boy stuttered, just like he had when they first met, but something was different. The inundated admiration overflowing from his glistening eyes were greatly lessened.

He probably hates me now for ruining his dream… All Might grinned warily.

“I must thank you for what you have done. That stunt you just pulled have possibly saved my very life. However—” All Might bit his cheeks as he prepared his words. “What you just did was incredibly dangerous. You could have gotten yourself killed! Flash bombs aren’t something to just wave around like a toy. Those may be the children’s version, they’re still a weapon nonetheless. When you hear the sound of a battle, it’s not a good idea to go investigate, especially when you lack any quirk to protect yourself.”

The smile faltered before it could fully emerge. The boy nodded, gazing downcast sullenly. “I’m sorry…”

That look shot through All Might, cracking his facade into bits and shedding him down until all that remained was the unbearable amount of guilt. All Might tried, “I’m not trying to chastise you. I’m just concerned for your safety. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Its fine, I understand, All Might. I’ll be careful next time.”

That smile the boy showed him was painful to see. The boy saved him, yet what did he receive? A flimsy thank you and a rebuke.

I have to thank him properly.

“I apologize if I seem too harsh, but I—”

“It’s fine, really.” The boy interrupted softly. “I understand how dangerous it is for a quirkless person to deal with villains and perform heroic acts. I’ve been in enough situations to realize that. I’ll try to stay away from dangerous things and only be a hero when I know it’s safe, but enough of that. All Might, what… What happened to that villain? Did you kill him?”

All Might opened his mouth but couldn't get any words out. ‘No, I didn’t kill him,’ he wanted to say. ‘Killing is bad after all,’ he should be saying, but he just couldn't lie to the boy after everything else he had done to him. It wasn't like he could just say ‘the villain ran away’ either. The boy would be wondering why the hell was the Symbol of Peace chatting with him so casually instead of chasing after the villain.

All Might had no other choice but to tell the truth, that he, the personification of justice, just killed someone on his own accord. No need for excuses. Killing was killing. Nothing could glorify it. It didn't matter if it was for the sake of self-defense. At the end of the day, All Might had willingly plunged the vortex of energy into his opponent’s body knowing the danger of it.

“Yes, I killed him.”

The boy widened his eyes and his lips parted slightly as he let out an “Oh.”

Silence drifted between the two as neither knew what to say. All Might stared at the boy. And the boy stared back.

“I know killing another human being is an awful thing to do, but sometimes it’s inevitable. I may be the Symbol of Peace, but in the end I’m still a human. Yes, contrary to the public’s belief, All Might is not a God. He’s a human just like everyone else.”

The boy gawked with his jaws slack as if his religion had just been deemed false.

“Humans make mistakes and I do, too. Humans have emotions and sometimes you can't help but let your feelings overrule your logic. Everyone are bound to have instances like that. If you don't, then you're not human; you're God.” All Might sighed, “No one deserves to be killed no matter how much villainy they have committed. In the end, it all comes down to whether you believe their death would be beneficial or meaningless.”

“And you killed him because —”

“This villain is called All For One. He has been around for generations causing mayhem in this country. Almost every single crime can somehow someway be traced back to him. He, is the mastermind behind everything. Bringing him down can greatly dwindle the crime rate.” For the next part, All Might had to choose his words carefully. He envisioned Gran Torino lecturing him on this topic. What would he say?

“I have a personal grudge against him and during our fight I failed to keep my emotions in control and tried to kill him. That last attack he aimed at me was the last draw and before I realized, his existence has been erased from this world. I have done something horrible, but his death is definitely beneficial to this country. All For One has the power to steal others’ quirks permanently. If he’s locked up, he may have a quirk that allows him to escape and wreck more havoc. In the end, though cruel it may be, death is the best way to deal with him.”

All Might finished fully expecting the boy to bear a look of betrayal. But during his explanation, the boy didn't show any signs of detest and instead had a look of understanding.

“I get what you mean, All Might. If you don't kill him, he would have killed you. And I’m sure the entire Japan would agree that it’s beneficial for you to stay alive than him. I don't like saying this, but I’m glad he died.”

“Y-Y-You… Really?” All Might spluttered. This reaction was not even close to what he expected. And he had come up with dozens of scenarios of how this talk would turn out.

“Yeah.” The boy had a look of pure bliss as he smiled. “No matter what you do, to me you’re still All Might, the Symbol of Peace. I won’t ever lose faith in you. Plus, I don't think you necessarily did something wrong. After all, killing him can mean saving many innocent lives that might be lost otherwise in the future.”

“T-thank you.” All Might didn't know what else to say. “Thank you for being so understanding. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for not hating me after the cruel things I’ve said to you. What’s your name?”

“Midoriya Izuku.”

“Young Midoriya, I can see you becoming a great hero.”

“Really!?” Midoriya perked up.

“Yes, you have what many don’t have: the ability to view things on a gray scale instead of the inborn black and white. You may not have a quirk, but the attitude you showed me just now is something only the best of the best heroes have. You were able to distinguish the gray area between good and bad. You understood that killing someone doesn't make you evil, when many pro heroes fail to understand that. Not all killers are bad guys, and your acceptance of that fact makes me believe that you have the potential to be an amazing hero.”

“Y-you really believe me?”

“Yes, I do.” All Might crouched before Midoriya and placed both hands onto his shoulders. His large hands barely fit on these tiny shoulder blades. “Midoriya Izuku, I have faith in you. So please, forget what I said the first time we met. I was being an idiot. Don't give up your dream. You have what it takes to do great things.”

Midoriya’s eyes watered but he tilted his head up to hold in the tears. After a moment of sniffling, he looked back down with tears all gone and brought him yellow backpack to the front. He rummaged around for a while then pulled out a notebook and a marker.

“All Might, can you write all that down along with an autograph please? I wanna remember those words forever!”

All Might accepted the notebook and marker with a low chuckle. After everything that happened, the boy still remained as a fan.

He took back his words.

Midoriya definitely had what it took to do great things.

Chapter Text

Gran Torino didn't believe him when he revealed All For One's death to the old man. Not because All Might wasn't credible, but rather the villain was infamous for being manipulative and sly. Faking a death wasn't outside of his realm of possibilities. All Might himself wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen All For One leaving this world with his own eyes. He didn't have any concrete evidence that the man was dead, so the police couldn't put it into their report yet until they had confirmed after a thorough investigation.

After reporting the result of this fight, All Might asked around for Shimura Tenko and an officer kindly pointed him towards the direction of the break room. Gran Torino was already there when he arrived, standing outside the door and frowning at the loud crying and screaming that came from inside the break room.

All Might immediately asked, "What's going on here?"

"The brat's being a pain in the ass that's what," Gran Torino grumbled.

All Might pushed the door open slightly and peaked through the crack, immediately wincing as a strange, awful smell hit his sense. Ashen remains of the fridge and spilled food and juice carpeted the ground. Some food were rotten, presumably forgotten by their owner after being left there for so long. Tables were flipped over. Even the sink was overflowing with water. The only standing furniture, the couch, stood in between the two glaring individuals.

"I said, put it on!" The officer growled, circling around the couch and waving a thin roll of bandages.

Tenko dodged the offending hand and scurried around to the other side. "No! I said no!"

"Um... What's going on here?" All Might intruded.

"A-All Might-san!" The officer complained, "I was ordered to wrap up his fingers so he doesn't hurt anything, and god forbid any person. But he keeps on refusing and throwing a tantrum."

"I'm NOT throwing a tantrum!" Tenko fumed.

"Why don't you let me have a talk with him?"

The officer nodded so quickly his bobbing head formed a blur. He gave the roll of bandages to All Might and hurried out of the door, glad to pass on the responsibility of such a tedious task.

"Now," All Might clicked the door shut gently and sat on the couch, patting the space next to him gesturing for Tenko to sit. "Would you mind telling me why you refuse to wrap up your fingers?"

Tenko eyed him suspiciously and didn't accept his offer. "My mom said not to wrap up my fingers."

"And why is that?"

"Because my quirk is dangerous and strong."

All Might tilted his head, not sure he understood the logic here.

"But humans are stronger and we shouldn't become enslaved to our quirks. My mom wanted me to be in control over my quirk, instead of letting it control me. She said I shouldn't be afraid of it and wrap up my fingers to protect myself. Instead, I should live alongside danger so I can get used to it and learn to adapt and overcome."

"That's... very deep. You had a great mother."

Tenko bit his lips, his eyes glistening with tears. "Yet, you let her die."

"Tenko-kun..." All Might hesitantly reached out a hand.

"Don't call my name!" Tenko growled, slapping his hand away carefully avoiding using all his fingers. "You're the Symbol of Peace aren't you!? So why weren't you there protecting my parents!? Why did you let them die!?"

"I..." All Might was speechless. He could only— "I'm sorry..."

"Yes, you should be sorry. It's all your fault they're now dead! Why didn't you do your job properly!? Why..." Tenko whimpered, wiping away his tears furiously. "Why weren't you there!?"

For a moment, the only sound in the room were Tenko's sniffling and the click of the door as Chief Tsuragamae poked his snout in questioning if everything was all right with a mere gaze. All Might sighed as he rubbed his face, suddenly feeling like he had aged at least ten years.

"Young Shimura, I'm sorry for not being there when your family was attacked. Your parents were great people and they didn't deserve to die. I was too late to save them. But rest assured, we've defeated the villain ultimately responsible for the death of your parents—"

"You mean the man who saved me when no one else did," Tenko sneered.

All Might winced, feeling a migraine growing.

"Indeed, he was the one who saved you. But he didn't do so with good intentions. He was simply using you to lure me out so he could kill me." All Might continued when the boy's expression didn't change. "The villain is named All For One. He's the one who made the Sludge kill your parents. He's also responsible for the death of your grandmother, Shimura Nana."

"And how do I know that everything you said wasn't just a lie?"

"I have proof if you need them," barked Tsuragamae as he pushed the door open the rest of the way with Gran Torino trailing after him. "I have his criminal record right here, woof."

"Please show us, if you don't mind," All Might urged before Tenko could voice his opinion. He stood up, allowing Tsuragamae to spread out the documents on the couch.

Tenko hesitantly touched a sheet of paper with his pinky lifted, paused as if waiting for any negative reactions, then proceeded to read through them. When he frowned, Tsuragamae would explain the difficult jargons and characters that a kid his age had yet to learn. Tenko read very thoroughly, stopping every once in a while to ask questions. When he finished the last page, he looked up and pointed at Gran Torino.

"So you were friends with my grandma."

"That's correct."

He then pointed at All Might.

"And you were her student."

"Yes."

Tenko's expression twisted into one of fury. His finger shook as he yelled, "So you should know that she had a family. If nothing else, you should be the first one to know when we're in danger. You're a hero! Shouldn't you keep an eye on those you know and make sure they're not in danger!?"

All Might flinched. Each word shot through his heart, hitting him in his vitals. Today just wasn't his day, was it? First he had to commit murder in front of a kid; second he had to eat his own words like an idiot and explain to a kid why sometimes killing was okay. And now, he was been berated by a ten-year-old for failing his master. Shishou would be so disappointed in him. She had given her son away so he and his family would be safe, not so All For One would hunt them down and kill them all, right in front of her grandson's eyes.

All Might knelt down in front of the boy who was glaring at him with so much sorrow and said, "I'm sorry. You're right. I should have done better as the Symbol of Peace. I should have taken care of your family after my master passed away. But what has happened cannot be changed. What I can do, however, is try my best to make up to you. Please tell me what I can do to make it better."

Tenko mumbled, "Give me my family back."

All Might shook his head, "I'm afraid I can't revive the dead, but I can give you a new family—"

"I don't want to live with some random people!"

His words were cut off sharply by Tenko's sudden hostility and All Might was a little taken back.

"I didn't mean the orphanage. I was thinking of taking you in." Finally, the boy's furious expression was replaced by one of shock. "Young Shimura, how do you like to live with me?"

"Toshinori!" Gran Torino interjected, grabbing his shoulder. "Are you sure about this? Do you really think you're ready for a child?"

"I have to even if I'm not ready. I can always learn along the way. That's what Shishou would have wanted me to do. Beside, his quirk is too dangerous for him to just live with any random families."

"Of course," Tenko murmured, slouching with a vacant expression. "Cuz I'm too dangerous to live with—"

"That's not it!" All Might interrupted before the boy would get the wrong idea. "It's not you that's dangerous. It's the bad people out there who would be a negative influence to you and take advantage of your quirk. In other words, I want to protect you from the villains by staying close to you, and make up to you for not being there for your parents."

All Might then turned to the Chief. "There wouldn't be a problem with me adopting him, would it?"

"No, there shouldn't be considering you're the Symbol of Peace and your track record is clean as sheets, woof."

All Might turned back to the boy. "So, what do you think?"

Tenko was quiet for a moment as he contemplated over the idea. All three adult occupants waited patiently for the boy to come to a decision. "Fine." He eventually agreed. "But only on one condition."

"Yes! What is it?"

Tenko brought up his hand and pointed at the roll of bandages with his other. "I'm not wrapping up my fingers."

"That's fine. I won't force you to."

Tenko stuffed a hand into his pocket and clenched something that was causing a visible lump and had All Might wondering exactly what was the boy hiding that required him to constantly keep one hand in there, but he didn't ask because he knew Tenko wouldn't answer him when their current relationship was fractured like this. Tenko bit his lips, looking as if he wanted to say something else, but what came out was, "Ok. Fine, but that doesn't mean I've forgiven you."

Hearing the words he had been hoping for since he first received the news of the boy's kidnapping and the death of his family, All Might let out a smile very much like his iconic one but more genuine. It was a smile that rose from deep inside his heart, not the trademark grin that he practiced in front of his mirror at least ten times every morning and was always ready to be brandished whenever the situation demanded it.

Tenko immediately looked away when he smiled, and All Might could only shake his head and gaze into the distance with a faraway expression, knowing changing the boy's opinion of him wouldn't be easy.


At the same time, the units lying low at the convenience store were getting impatient. More than thirty minutes had passed since the estimated time of arrival, yet the Sludge never showed up.

Unbeknownst to them, at a corner store miles away in the complete opposite direction, the Sludge slid out of the back storage room with a box full of food engulfed in his slimy body. His large orb-like eyes darted around cautiously before he quickly slipped down the drain, blending into the sewer water and heading back towards the house.

It would be a long time before they realized that a villain surely would know that stealing from the same store over time would rouse suspicion. But by the time they got there, the Sludge would already be back at the house, or rather, the remains of it, and be left wondering why ambulances and heroes were everywhere as he peaked out from the sewer lid.

On the other hand, it would also take a while for the Sludge to realize that his boss was dead and his paycheck had yet again escaped from his grasp. And the culprit behind it all?

The goddamned All Might.


The doorbell chimed and minutes later the door swung open revealing a doe-eyed woman with long, purple hair tied up in a loose ponytail. She was wearing an apron stained with various discolored smudges and carrying a ladle still dripping with what looked like curry.

"Izuku-kun! Welcome!" Shinsou Kyokan greeted with a warm smile as she ushered Izuku in. "Toshi-chan has been waiting!"

"Ah, um, thanks! This is for you." Izuku brought out the box of pancakes from his magic backpack and presented it. "Thanks for inviting me here."

"No need for such pleasantries!" Kyokan chuckled as she accepted the gift. "Toshi's friends are always welcomed! Go ahead, Toshi-chan's in his room with Yuuga-kun and Henshin-kun. I still have to prepare dinner but I'm sure you remember where it is?"

"Of course! Don't worry about me. I know how to get there!"

"Good! Well, have fun! And if Toshi-chan bullies you, make sure you let me know so I can kick his ass! Okay?"

"O-Okay." Izuku gave a weak smile, waving as the cheerful mother winked and ran back to the kitchen, curry dripping everywhere. When her form disappeared from view, Izuku let his smile fade. He tightened his grip on his pack and began making his way to Hitoshi's room.

The design of the house gave off a warm and cozy feeling. Pictures of the happy family were captured in frames and hang on the wall. Izuku paused deliberately to look at a photo of baby Hitoshi trapped in a fish tank with a heavenly smile and surrounded by adorable multi-colored fish, while mama Kyokan and papa Hakka had a look of utter horror as they plunged their hands into the tank to save their baby from drowning.

Walking past the living room, Izuku noticed some of the newest, recently released video games laying around the floor. It appeared that Hitoshi's parents spoiled him just as much as Izuku's did.

As Izuku made his way up the stairs, his mind wandered to the event that had occurred not even ten minutes ago. He absentmindedly pulled up his quest completion screen and stared blankly at the reward.

The Punisher (skill): rips open a crack in time and space. Whatever beings and objects that're hit by this attack will be sucked into another dimension and gone from this universe forever. Single use only. No MP required. The crack will seal shut after five seconds.

It instantly made sense how the villain, All For One, had disappeared when the effect of the flash bomb was over, instead of lying on the ground, dead. It was also why Izuku had accepted All Might's explanation so soon. He understood that the blond hero did it in self-defense. On top of that, if this villain really was the biggest villain in the history of Japan and his existence meant many others' lives were at stakes, then he deserved to die by All Might's hand.

Izuku still didn't like the idea of killing another individual, but if the Number One Hero said that killing someone was a form of saving others, then it couldn't be wrong.

On a side note, he was now less than a hundred EXP points away from getting his first quirk! He could reach it in like two days of time! The idea of no longer being quirkless rejuvenated Izuku and, with a bounce in his steps, he ran the rest of the way up, barging into Hitoshi's room with a loud "Fear not! For I have arrived!"

The three occupants of the room jerked around in surprise, two pairs of purple eyes and one pair of orange eyes locked onto him, surprise evident on their face. Hitoshi recovered the quickest. He looked around feigning surprise.

"Wait! Is there a villain here that I don't know? Where? Wheeeere!? Do you see it?"

Yuuga winked, sending sparkles everywhere. "Even if there are, they're too afraid to show their faces because my sheer awesomeness is blinding them☆."

Izuku pouted, slumping onto the carpet and collapsing against a giant cat plushie. "You guys are so mean."

Namamono cried, "Hey! I didn't even say anything! Don't lump me together with them!"

"Annnnyway, what are you guys up to?"

Hitoshi held up a CD case that featured four guys dressed in black outfits stained with what looked like blood and wearing scary makeups, pointing at the music video playing on his laptop, grinning. "I'm converting you guys into Killers!"

"Killers!?" Izuku yelped.

"Not that killer, idiot. I meant Killer as in fans of my favorite band, "One Shot One Kill"! It's our fan name!"

"I don't think I get it."

"It's okay Izuku." Yuuga placed a hand on his shoulder, staring at him intently. "I don't get it either☆."

"You guys just don't get metal!" Hitoshi pressed a key and the music video began playing. Instantly, the loud punk-metal rock music, or whatever that genre was (Izuku had no clue considering he had no interests in hearing people scream for half the song), filled the room, causing walls to moan, furnitures to dance with the beat, and band posters to faceplant. "Listen to this!"

Izuku could only make out "blood", "death", and "escape" before his eardrums couldn't handle no more and he had to launch himself at Hitoshi and pause the video.

The trio then spent the rest of the time showing Hitoshi (and each other) "good music", which ended in a dispute between Yuuga and Namamono about whether Jazz and Blues were one and the same, before the last invitee, Manami, arrived.

"Sorry! I got lost!" Manami gasped as she hunched over with her hands on her knees. She held up a phone, A PHONE, that showed a map screen with a dot that kept darting around. "My map malfunctioned and it misled me many times."

Hitoshi began saying how it was fine and she didn't need to worry about being late while Izuku tuned out the conversation, unable to wrap his mind around the fact that Manami, who was only two years older than they were, already had her own phone.

On their way up the stairs, Hakka called to them from the living room. The man with messy, dark blue hair and heavy eyebags was lying on the couch lazily with one arm dangling off of it and the other holding a controller.

"When you guys come down for dinner, would you mind bringing me my USB drive containing all the movies I've downloaded? It should be on my desk in my study."

Hitoshi grumbled, "Lazy bum," but agreed nonetheless.

When they've reached the top of the stairs, Namamono piped up, "I gotta pee! Where's the toilet?"

"I'll take you there," Hitoshi offered. "You guys go wait in my room. I'll be right back."

"Okay." Izuku and the others nodded as they sank once again into those soft beanbag chairs.


The dim light in the hallway casted a shadow over Hitoshi's face. He was leaning against the wall by the bathroom with his arm crossed and a mischievous smirk adorning his face. Shinsou Hitoshi may look like an ordinary eight-year-old who invited his friends over for a sleepover, but in reality, he was a man with a mission, and this was all a trap for a target he had set his eyes on a long time ago.

His target was currently washing his hands in the bathroom. Very soon. Very soon. Hitoshi would get his answers.

The door swung open and a satisfied Namamono walked out, wiping his hands on his trousers and sighing in relief, only to squeal in surprise when he came face to face with Hitoshi.

"W-What are you doing here? I thought you already—"

"I have a very important favor to ask."

"O-Okay? What is it?"

Hitoshi stepped forward and Namamono backpedaled until his back hit the walls. The orange-haired boy darted his eyes nervously, staring at anything that wasn't Hitoshi.

"I want you to sleep with me tonight."

"Huh?" Namamono said smartly. "Why?"

Hitoshi scratched his cheeks, his smirk slipping off of his face as he explained with a faint blush. "The thing is, I love cats but my parents are allergic to them. And my biggest dream is to cuddle with a cat one day. So..." He trailed off. What was left unsaid should be obvious enough without him having to outright say it.

"Ohhh." Namamono nodded in understanding, rubbing his chin in a thinking posture. "So you want me to morph into a cat and cuddle with you tonight?"

"Yeah. If it's alright with you?"

"Of course not!" The orange-haired boy exclaimed, flailing his arms around and almost hitting Hitoshi in the face. "Boys shouldn't cuddle! My mom said cuddling is too girly and if you do it then you're a pansy!"

The rejection was to be expected and Hitoshi already had a Plan B ready for this circumstances.

"I'm not telling you to do it for free." Hitoshi pulled out something he was hiding behind him and showed it to Namamono. "If you sleep with me, this is yours to keep."

"A-A-A-Are you for real!?" Namamono made a grab for the object but Hitoshi dodged easily. "I'll do it! I'll do it everyday if I have to!"

Hitoshi curled his lips as he took in the enthusiasm in Namamono's actions.

It was too easy.


When dinner time rolled by, Izuku had finished reading all the superhero comics Hitoshi had to offer. The five of them left the room and were about to head downstairs before Hitoshi remembered the USB. He was about to get it himself and let the others go downstairs before him, but they were all way too curious of what the study looked like to pass off the chance.

"Woahhh," Izuku gasped in awe when he took in the massive shelves of thick hard-covered books and the triple-monitored computer setup. "That's so cool!"

"Yeah," Hitoshi said absentmindedly as he searched for the USB.

Although the study seemed fairly spacious at first glance, it suddenly felt so much more crowded once all five of them settled inside. Manami went straight towards the cool computer setup while Namamono immediately dived for the trophy cases displayed on a glass shelf, ogling at the well-made figures and mimicking their various poses. Yuuga even took a book out of the shelves and began reading it out loud, in French.

"Hmmm."

"What's the matter, Toshi?" Izuku went up behind him and found Hitoshi frowning at two identical USB on the desk.

"I'm not sure which one is the one with the movies. Stupid dad didn't label them." Hitoshi plugged one of them into a port. "And the computer's locked."

"Try your birthday!" Namamono suggested with one eye closed and his hands positioned straight out in front of him as if he was holding a gun.

Incorrect. Remaining attempts 2.

"What about your mom's birthday?" Yuuga wondered as he flipped to the next page.

Incorrect. Remaining attempts 1.

"What would happen if you fail it three times?" Izuku asked and Hitoshi responded with a shrug. "Well, why don't we try—"

"I have a faster method." Manami held up her phone and a phone cord she picked up from the desk with a smirk. "If you allow me to do some tampering with your dad's computer, that is."

"Would it harm the computer?"

"No, but it might invade your dad's privacy."

"I don't mind."

"And I obviously don't," Manami said as she plugged one end of the cord into the phone and the other end into the computer. Izuku watched with utter confusion as she tapped some app on her phone, typed something, and the computer screen blacked out, revealing strings of text running across the screen line by line. They quickly filled up the entire screen and proceeded to drag the screen up. When they stopped, they were prompted to choose an option, then another, then...

"It's done."

Izuku dropped his jaws and almost forgot to pick it up if not for Manami giggling at him. H-How? What just happened!?

"What was that!?" Izuku asked the question that must be on everyone's mind at the moment.

"This is called hacking, which is basically when a person bypasses a computer's security system and breaks into it."

"Cool! That's so cool!" Izuku exclaimed and Manami blushed. "Isn't this what that Mexico Hero does? Somba? I think her name was?"

"It's Sombra. And I'm hoping to become a Hacking Hero just like her."

"That's a great dream!" Izuku gave her a big thumbs up, noting how her blush deepened. "I'm sure you can do it!"

Now her whole face was beet red. Manami covered her face with both of her pigtails and turned back to the computer. In the corner of his eyes, Izuku caught Hitoshi grinning and Yuuga winking at him. Namamono, however, was just like him, looking utterly confused at the turn of event.

"A-Anyway." Manami coughed into her fist. "Here's the content of this drive."

She opened up the unnamed drive and an endless list of folders appeared. The scroller on the right side got so tiny Izuku almost couldn't spot it.

"That's a lot of movies☆," Yuuga breathed.

"Is this the one you wanted?"

Hitoshi scratched his head. "I'm not sure. Dad's the one who deals with the computer stuff. He always asks me what movie I wanna watch and he'll find it for me. I've never seen what's inside this USB."

Manami clicked on a folder, then a folder, then a file. The document opened up, revealing an excel spreadsheet filled with numbers and words that were too difficult for them to understand. The only words they could understand was the title, "Shinsekai Charity Donations".

"Wow, your parents really donate a lot to charity," Namamono marveled.

"Yeah," Hitoshi agreed. "They said since it starts with 'Shin', it has a connection with us which is why we don't donate to any charities other than Shinsekai."

"Well then, obviously, this isn't the USB we wanted." Manami closed out the folder and ejected the drive. She was about to return the computer to normal with her phone when she paused the pointer on a file on the desktop. "What's this?"

Hitoshi leaned forward to take a look. "Ah, that's the story my mom's writing."

"'How to Become a Villain for Dummies'?" Izuku laughed. "You mom's funny!"

"Yeah," Hitoshi grinned. "It's supposed to be a comedic story but publishers kept rejecting it without even reading it thinking it's actually teaching people how to become villains."

"I can see where they're coming from," Namamono laughed nervously.

Now that they knew which USB was the correct one, Hitoshi marked the one with the movies "Movies" and the other one "Charity".

Dinner was spent playing with food and watching movies. By the time they had finished three movies, everyone was so exhausted they could barely drag their bodies into the bathroom for a shower before going to bed. When they were done, Kyokan had already placed four futons in Hitoshi's room. Izuku plopped down in between Yuuga's and Namamono's futon, burying his face into the pillow and breathing in the clean breeze scent of the detergent.

That night, Izuku slept soundlessly.


In the middle of the night, Hitoshi felt a shift on his bed. He cracked a tired eye open and smiled when he saw the tiny orange cat curling against his chest.

"Thanks, Namamono."

"Just go to sleep," Namaneko mumbled.

"Aye aye." Hitoshi pulled the blanket over his head and wrapped his hands around the small furry being, nuzzling against the protesting cat. His whole body practically melted as his fingers sank into the softness and he couldn't help but let out a coo.

"Go to sleep!" The cat hissed.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s dream was ripped into shreds by a scream the next morning. His eyes shot open and he scrambled to untangle himself from the blanket.

The source of the commotion was, surprisingly, Hitoshi who was up against the wall looking as if someone had just burned all his cat merchandise right in front of him. Izuku had never seen him show an expression other than the usual aloof, tired, and the occasional anger. Yet, here he was with a gobsmacked look accompanied by a string of noncoherent stuttering and a shaking finger that was pointed at a groggy Namamono, who was curling up against Hitoshi and blinking blearily.

“Why did you change back!?” Hitoshi shrieked.

“Huh…?” Namamono propped himself up, dazed. “Oh, I can’t maintain the form when I’m asleep.”

“You should have told me beforehand!”

Unable to process the situation, especially when it was so early in the morning, Izuku lay back down and pulled the blanket over his head. A few minutes passed as he simply lay there letting his screaming friends finish with their ruckus. Footsteps pounded all around him. There was a yelp as someone tripped over his legs and fell onto Yuuga’s futon. Manami was throwing pillows and blankets everywhere (one pillow even hit Izuku in the head) as she complained about her missing phone. Hitoshi and Namamono were still arguing and Yuuga who tried to conciliate them was hit with something causing him to go “Oof” and stumble into Namamono, who shrieked as he fell onto Hitoshi, knocked him against the wall. And according to the loud bang that brought a pair of angry footsteps towards their room, Hitoshi had hit his head pretty hard.

“What’s the meaning of this!”

The room went dead silent as Kyokan and Hakka barged through the door, with the former, the more tenacious of the two, angrily demanding an explanation.

While each of his friends struggled to find an excuse to get themselves out of trouble and shift the blame onto the others, Izuku was telling GOLA to create his daily Save File. Save Files were generated automatically after quest completions and title achievements. But Izuku also made a habit to create a Save Point at the beginning of every day so in case something went wrong, he could just restart that day. He had unlimited empty Save Slots so he didn’t need to worry about running out of space, but Izuku still deleted the days when nothing happened, just to make it easier to locate specific Save Files in the future.

The parents had already left the room when Izuku pulled the blanket off of him. His friends were all doing their things silently with their heads down guiltily.

“Toshi, is your head okay?” Izuku asked, breaking the silence.

“It’s no big deal,” Hitoshi grumbled as he trudged out of the room, with the other three following suit.

Manami was offered the opportunity to do her business in Hitoshi’s parents’ bathroom, which was attached to their master bedroom, while Izuku and the boys were assigned to the one in the hallway. The small bathroom wasn’t big enough to contain all three of them, especially with Namamono prancing around gelling Hitoshi’s hair to look like someone named Sasuke and Yuuga twirling around and making poses at the mirror. Izuku had to brush his teeth while cowering over the tub due to the limited space.

Finally, after a long and painful restroom session, the children made their way downstairs. Kyokan had already prepared breakfast for them and was waiting by the dining table while typing something on her phone. Hakka was walking back and forth holding his phone by his ears.

“He’s not picking up.” Hakka sighed as he ended the call.

“He’s not replying either.”

Hitoshi sat down in front of his set of dishes as the others followed suit. “What’re you talking about?”

“Remember Old Man Nanba?” Hakka sat down next to Kyokan and placed his phone in his pocket.

“Your friend who owns a publisher? Yeah. It’s been a while since he talked to us though.”

“We’re hoping he’ll publish the story since all the other publishers rejected it. But he’s not picking up. We’ve even tried texting him on Line with no response.”

Kyokan locked her phone and put it away. “Usually when we call him, he’d respond back within an hour. But we’ve tried calling him last night and then this morning, and still he didn’t call back.”

“Hmm… That’s weird.”

Hakka sighed as he clapped his hands together. “Anyway, let’s forget about that for now. It’s time to eat!”

When everyone was finished with breakfast, they all volunteered to help clean up the dishes, partly because it was a polite thing to do, and partly due to the racket they caused this morning. Kyokan was smiling gratefully when she put the last plate in the cabinet and told them to get ready for YHP.

Izuku had come downstairs with his magic backpack so he was all ready. While waiting for the others, he went up to Manami who was sitting on the couch playing with her phone and sat next to her, making her jump in surprise.

“Hey, Manami-chan.”

“Y-Yes?”

“Can you help me with something?”

“Anything.” Manami set her phone down on her lap and looked ready to listen.

“Remember that Gentle hero I told you about?” When she nodded, Izuku continued, “I’ve known him for quite a while now, but I’ve only called him. And when I ask to meet him, he kept on refusing. I don’t know his address so I can’t seek him out either. So I’m hoping you can use your super hacking skill and help me locate his house, if that’s not too much to ask?”

Without hesitation, Manami nodded once more. “I can do that. You have his number?”

“Yeah, it’s right here.” Izuku took out the slip of paper Gentle had given him years ago and passed it to Manami. “I have it all memorized so you can keep it.”

Manami accepted the paper, staring at the elegant designs on the edge and rubbing her finger over the patterns etched into the material. “Give me a few days and I’ll get back to you.”

“Great! Thanks!” Izuku grabbed her hands and shook them excitedly. “You’re a godsend!”

A heavy blush crept up to her face and Izuku remembered the conversation he had with Yuuga last week.

“Hey… So you said that Manami-chan likes me, but I don’t feel anything towards her. Is this normal?”

Yuuga leaned towards him, “This, mon cher ami, means you’re gay.”

Izuku didn’t think he likes boys either. He had even asked Kacchan.

“Kacchan?”

“What do you want!?”

Break had just started and Izuku wanted to get this over with before his classmates would crowd him.

“Do you think I’m gay?”

Kacchan stared at him like he’d just developed a quirk and suddenly stood up. He stormed up to Izuku, who was a little intimidated by the sudden aggression, yanked him up by his collar, and kissed him on the mouth.

Izuku pretty much lost all mobility as he stared into Kacchan’s red eyes. Sharp intakes of breath could be heard from all around them.

Not even a second later, Kacchan pushed him off, wiping his lips. “Feel anything?”

Izuku could barely talk, still shellshocked. “N-No, nothing.”

“Then you’re not gay, dumbass,” Kacchan grumbled and sat back down, propping his feet onto the desk and kicking his chair back idly.

Izuku didn’t understand why Kacchan did that, but it wasn’t the first day Kacchan did something strange (like that one time he ate a bug because of a dare). Izuku had long since gotten used to Kacchan’s eccentricity——

“Is everyone reaaaaady?”

Hakka’s loud voice pulled Izuku back to the present. Manami stood up and pocketed her phone. “You ready, Izuku-kun?”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Izuku followed her and they settled into Shinsou family’s fancy car. Izuku was wondering why Manami decided to sit in the front seat but his question was quickly answered when the girl immediately striked a conversation with Hakka about computers as soon as the man sat on the driver’s seat.

When Yuuga, Hitoshi, and Namamono were all seated next to him and everyone was buckled up, Hakka started driving. Yuuga was checking his reflections on the window, brushing a strand of hair away from his eyes, while Hitoshi and Namamono were talking about games.

“Hey, wanna do that again?” Namamono was asking.

“Sure, any time, but I’m not paying you again.”

Namamono pouted. “I have to buy all my games with money I earned because my parents are so stingy with their money they never give me any allowance. I never thought I’d be able to play InFamous: Second Son when it was just released. If only I was born into your family…”

“What’s so great about this game anyway? Is it really worth you going against what your mom said?”

“You don’t know!?” Namamono frantically pulled out a game from his old messenger bag that looked a little faded in colors as if it was washed too many times. He turned the game around so the back was facing Hitoshi. “In this game you can choose to be either a superhero or a supervillain. The choices you make determine your path. And different paths also come with different power sets! Not to mention the choices of quirks are so unique and interesting! Look at this! He gets a neon quirk and his entire body can turn into neon light! He can move in the speed of light and run up buildings, and can even use a sword made out of neon! He also gets a video quirk and can have these digital wings and can fly and can summon pixelated angels or demons to fight for him! This quirk can even create a virtual reality and pull people into it but you’re not strong enough to use it to its full potential but it’s still freaking awesome regardless! Not to mention he can even turn invisible!”

“Hmmm… not my type,” Hitoshi concluded, causing Namamono to nearly choke on his words. “I like FPS and battle royale games more.”

“What’s so fun about guns when you have quirks?”

Izuku completely agreed with Namamono on this one. Quirks had more variety and were more entertaining when compared to guns. The game premise did sound interesting though. Izuku would have to check it out when he had the time.

The two of them were still talking about games when they arrived at YHP. Hakka kissed Hitoshi on the forehead when he was about to leave but the purple-haired boy was too embarrassed to kiss back, especially with his friends all staring at him with a strange, knowing smile. He simply settled with a hug and waved goodbye as his dad drove away.

Genji-sensei was already there when they arrived, and that was the first sign of anomaly. Usually Shimura-sensei was the first to arrive, yet today she was nowhere to be seen.

“Genji-sensei.” Izuku questioned, “Where’s Shimura-sensei?”

A strange look flickered over his face but it was gone before Izuku could catch onto the meaning behind it. Genji-sensei knelt down and patted Izuku on the head, smiling. “Shimura-sensei has to quit this job due to family reasons. Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to say goodbye before she had to go. I know you’ll miss her but I’m sure you’ll be able to meet her again someday in the future.”

This was also what he told everyone else when class began. Izuku was by no means a rebellious and unreasonable kid. He understood that a sudden job change was inevitable and life didn't always go the way you wanted. He accepted what he was told and didn't think too much about it, as do the rest of the class. They were all sad that their teacher had to go but they all knew they wouldn't be able to stay with Shimura-sensei forever. One day, they'd grow up and have to leave her.

Beside, with the lunch activity coming up Izuku was too busy pondering over the possible quirks he would get to care about anything else. Would it be a mutant quirk? If so, how would he explain to others? Was it an offensive quirk like Kacchan's or some other types? How would he use it to its full potential? What kind of costumes and gadgets should he purchase? How would his mom, his friends, and Kacchan react? How would Gentle react?

Sitting on a closed toilet lid in the restroom of a cafe, Izuku dismissed the level up notification and scrolled through the choices of quirks he could choose.

Like he expected, less than ten minutes into the activity and Izuku had already reached level ten. Using a restroom break as an excuse, Izuku locked himself in a stall and eagerly tapped open the description of each quirk. He rubbed his palms together as he read through them all, sparks of excitement dancing under his skin as if every cell in his body was jittering with adrenaline. How long had he been waiting for this? To finally gain a quirk just like everyone else and be on equal footing with them. To be accepted by Kacchan and have a chance of become a hero.

He had never been so glad that Gentle had saved him that day. It was thanks to him that Izuku was able to live on and see himself gaining a quirk. If he had actually died that night, Izuku would be drowning in regrets by now, not that he'd be alive to experience it.

Despite being excited about getting a quirk, when it was actually time to choose, Izuku hesitated. The quirk he chose would stay with him for the rest of his life. He had to choose it carefully. This was no joke. If he chose the wrong one, there would be no going backs (unless he killed himself and loaded the save point he created that morning, which wasn't an option because the idea of suicide terrified izuku).

Izuku's finger hovered above each quirk, unable to decide between the three.

Teleportation: You can teleport to any place you've been to and can accurately visualize in your mind. Any objects or persons who're in contact with you will be teleported as well.

Bubble: Encase yourself in a protective bubble that shields you from all corporeal and abstract outside forces. Anyone in touch with you will also be enveloped in the bubble.

Metal Control: You can move any metal objects you see with your mind.

All three were great quirks. Teleportation could be used as both offensive and defensive, but it would require Izuku to have some actual fighting skill if he wanted to use it as the former. Bubble was mainly a defensive quirk. But if he was able to move around while being in the bubble, he could charge at enemies head on knocking them out. Metal Control could be very versatile, but he didn't know the extent of the power. How did the control work? Did he need to remain eye contact? How long did it last? Was there a limit to the size and weight of the metal object?

So many questions and no answers. With the limited information he had now, there was no way Izuku could make a decision that would shape the rest of his life at this moment. He would need to do research, have a talk with GOLA and see if he could make it spill some Intel, experiment, and consult with his mom. Not to mention his team was already impatient seeing how they had been banging on his stall for about a minute now begging for him to get out.

Izuku swept aside the notification and flushed the toilet just to keep up the act. Unlocking the door, he was bombarded with complaints as his grumbling teammates dragged him out of the cafe. For the rest of the activity, Izuku wasn't as enthusiastic as he was weeks ago when he was struggling for level ten. There wasn't a need to rush now that he had reached his goal. He could just take things slow and enjoy the experience.

Everyone was heaving and soaked in sweat by the time the activity was over. The Summer heat was implacable, overcooking the earth and evaporating their sweat into a cloud of awful odor that drifted amongst them. The moment everyone stepped into the classroom, a chorus of sighs filled the air conditioned room as the children collapsed onto their chair. Many students came up to Izuku and purchased a few popsicles from him at the low cost of fifty yen a piece. Even Genji-sensei, Eraserhead, and Present Mic each bought one.

Izuku’s “part-time job” as a Sweet Vendor took place at YHP as well. It could help him make friends so why not? Very soon, Izuku had earned two thousand yen (some students bought seconds). After everyone made a disgusting, sticky mess all over their hands and cleaned themselves, Genji-sensei clapped to get everyone’s attention.

"Everyone, good job today. You all did very well. As a reward, you may use the pool for the rest of the day. However!" Genji-sensei raised his voice, cutting off the cheering. "I have something to announce before that. Don't worry. It's good news."

Everyone quickly straightened their backs and began listening obediently.

Eraserhead and Present Mic entered the classroom with a stack of paperwork and called for a few volunteers to pass them out, Izuku immediately raising his hand.

"Every year we YHP conducts a field trip near the end of the school year. Last week, we made everyone participate in a poll of your preferred destination for this year’s field trip which will take place next weekend. Before I reveal the result, however, I want to hear from everyone why you think it’s necessary to have field trips.”

“Because we can have fun and learn stuff at the same time?”

“Close! Anyone else?”

Izuku transferred the stack of paperwork onto one arm and raised his other. “It allows us to experience and learn new things that aren't taught at school!”

“Very close! Let me ask you this: How many of you start playing video games right after arriving home every day?”

A few hands raised accompanied by abashed grins. Some raised theirs halfway before pulling it back down. Izuku raised his hand proudly. He didn’t play video games when he arrived home. He played it every second of the day.

“You can't become a hero by holing up in your room all day. You have to feel, see, touch, and even taste the real world around you. A hero’s job is to protect the citizens. How’re you going to do that if you don't even understand the world outside of your room and the classroom?

“Educational field trips put you in a new environment and that helps with getting out of your comfort zone and bonding with your fellow classmates. Comradery is very important to heroes. The friends you make right now can possibly work alongside you as heroes in the future and can even save your life one day. Don’t underestimate the power of friendship.

“Being put in an unfamiliar terrain can also broaden the way you think and give you new ideas for the future. You might find a new interest, which can even be the turning point in your life. And that's something you can only get from a field trip.”

Izuku nodded in understanding and glanced at his friends. They were glancing at each others as well.

“Now, let’s reveal the poll result.”

Present Mic went up to the podium with a sheet of paper. He cleared his throat and announced, “In fifth place with two votes is a visit to Academy City! In fourth place with four votes is a tour of Mecha City and Watching the Robo-wres! In third place with six votes is participating in the demonstration of the virtual reality game Cocoon! In second place with eight votes is I-EXPO on I-ISLAND! And last but not least… in first place with ten votes is All Might Amusement Park!”

The class all jumped out of their seats and cheered to various degrees of excitement. Izuku too was ecstatic. He loved AMAP and was always ready for more. He guessed the reason why everyone voted for AMAP was that All Might had announced last month that he would participate in a stunt show at the amusement park next week. Who in their right mind would pass off a chance to meet the number one hero face to face?

Izuku gave the remaining stack of paper to Genji-sensei, who explained, “The paper I’m passing around is a permission form for your parents to sign. Like every field trip we’ve done in the past years, we’re required by law to receive consent from your parents before we can take you on a trip. Tell them to sign the bottom portion and cut along the dotted lines. Bring me the signed form next Saturday along with the list of recommended gears and we’ll depart from YHP at nine in the morning. If your parents refuse to let you go, then unfortunately, it’ll be a normal YHP day for you.”

Some kids groaned. The others looked at them in pity.

“Now that’s said and done, I know everyone's hot and tired, so go cool down in the pool and have some fun. Everyone has done well today so this is my reward to you. Please don't make me regret it—"

Of course, no one waited for him to finish talking. Everyone rushed out of the room, hollering as they went to the indoor pool. All the girls jumped in with their clothes still on while the boys stripped into their underwears then dived straight into the pool as soon as it came into sight. The teachers hurried after them. Poor and ignored Genji-sensei was twitching profusely.

"I'm serious. Safety first. Please don't do something dangerous and make me regret—"

Once again he was interrupted as Namamono yanked him by the foot and pulled him into the water. Everyone laughed when Genji-sensei resurfaced with water flowing out of his eyes. He quickly dog-paddled to the edge and crawled over to the two pro heroes who were simply watching the scene with an amused smile on their faces, complaining about being bullied by the children and wanting to exact revenge.

Eraserhead wanted to stay out of Genji-sensei's petty revenge plan, but he was forced to participate when Present Mic jumped the chance to have some fun.

And the fun turned out to be a full-blown water battle.

The battle ended rather quickly after Eraserhead accidentally got splashed in the back by Genji-sensei, who gulped and called the fight to an end before everyone would suffer the wrath of Eraserhead. Izuku had seen it once. An angry Eraserhead wasn’t something he’d want to see again.

When Inko picked up Izuku at the end of that day, he was dripping wet. At first, she was shocked by his appearance and thought he was bullied and had dirty water dumped on him, but then she saw that all his other classmates were in a similar state and stopped panicking.

For the next few days Izuku delved into his research of the three quirks. He filled up an entire notebook of strengths and weaknesses for each quirk and costume ideas. He imagined himself having each of these quirks. How would he use them in a fight in different locations and situations? It wasn’t easy to brainstorm especially when he hadn’t experienced these quirks personally. He could only base his research on the quirk title and description. He had asked GOLA but the little metallic cyclops refused to tell him anything, saying “What’s the fun if I just tell you everything? It’s more fun watching you choose a quirk you later on regret mwahahaha!”

On Tuesday when Izuku arrived home from school, his mom showed him a message from Manami’s mother. It seemed that Manami had kept up her promise and located Gentle’s address for him.

His mom was curious as to who this Gentle was. Izuku didn’t tell her the details and simply said, “He’s just a friend! He moved and I forgot to ask where his new house is. Manami-chan knows so I asked her to send you the address. I’m going to visit him now! I’ll be back soon!”

The address was less than a mile away. It took Izuku only a few minutes to ride there. He hid behind a trash can and stored his All Might bicycle into his inventory, then he looked around, making sure no one had seen him.

The sun was starting to set and Izuku needed to hurry if he wanted to get back home before it got dark. He followed the address and found his way to a house with the name plate “Takeshita”.

“Who’s Takeshita?” Izuku wondered.

He jumped when the door was suddenly shoved open and scampered behind a light pole, hiding from view. Izuku didn’t know why he felt the need to hide. He just acted on his instincts and did it for some reason.

The man that came out of the house was definitely not Gentle. Disappointment rose inside of him but was quickly pushed down by relief when Gentle appeared right after the man, who Izuku assumed was Takeshita.

They hadn’t noticed him yet and were talking on the porch.

“I’ll pick you up when my class ends,” Takeshita said as he opened up the garage revealing a Toyota Car. “Usually meetings like this would end quickly if the company isn’t interested in your offer. I don’t know much about the Matchan Tea Company—well, I’m sure you know more about it than I do, but I know that this meeting will be a success.”

“How can you be so sure?” Gentle asked. He was dressed in a fancy suit very much like when Izuku first met him. His white hair was also combed back stylishly. “I’m just an average college student who’s about to meet the CEO of a well-known tea company. How can you be so sure that they’ll accept my proposal?”

“Because you’re not average, Danjuro. You may think you’re because you’ve failed many times, but so what? Everyone fails. I failed the provisional hero license exam on my first try, too! It’s a matter of whether you’re able to stand back up or not.” Takeshita placed a hand on Gentle’s shoulder. “You, my friend, never give up and are always trying, breaking every obstacle that’s ever stood in your way. That’s why I know that this meeting is going to be a success and so does your business.”

“No, it’s our business—”

“It’s yours, Danjuro,” Takeshita said sternly. “I’ve only given you some pointers and tips. You’re the one who came up with the idea and put the idea into action. Plus, it’s called ‘Gentle Trampoline’ for a reason. Anyway, let’s get you over there. Can’t be late for the meeting, you know?”

Takeshita pushed Gentle gently onto the passenger seat while he sat on the driver’s seat. Izuku hid further behind the light pole when they drove past him. Watching the car become smaller and smaller until it completely disappeared in the distance, Izuku felt a weight lifted off of his chest.

All those years he had wanted to meet Gentle because he was worried. He had never met his hero again after that day. What if Gentle had forgotten about him? What if Gentle was in trouble? Was that why he refused to meet Izuku face to face?

But this conversation changed his mind. Gentle didn’t give up after he was expelled from school. He had continued fighting, finishing high school and now attending college. He was even starting a business to earn money to support himself.

Like what he had said when he gave Izuku his phone number, "I promise, next time you see this face, I will be a whole new Gentle! I will be a hero worthy of your admiration!"

Gentle was working hard to better himself and become worthy of Izuku’s admiration. He refused to meet Izuku not because he was in trouble and didn’t want Izuku to see him in a disgruntled state, but rather because he wanted to wait until he was successful and had become a “whole new Gentle”.

The least Izuku could do was carry out Gentle’s wish and wait patiently for the man to seek him out himself.

Chapter Text

Izuku swore to God he didn't do it on purpose.

It was an accident. After the visit to Gentle's house, he felt like whatever that was weighing him down had finally been lifted, and he had never felt so relieved before. In a rush of adrenaline, Izuku rode his bike extremely fast, turning a blind eye to all traffic order as he sped down the street without stopping at every intersection to look left and right.

It ran out too fast for Izuku to pull the brakes on time.

When he came to, he was lying on the ground face down, pain all over his body and a warm liquid touching his lips. He stuck out his tongue in reflex and licked it.

Blood.

He was bleeding from a wound on his forehead.

Everywhere hurt. Large patches of skin on his limbs had been shaved off by the pavement. A searing pain shot up his spine when he tried to move them. Something was constricting his lungs, making it hard to breath.

Izuku took a shuddering breath, his entire body rattling with exhale.

"Help..."

He thought.

"Your health has reached below 50%. Would you like to seek help?"

[YES] GOLA
[NO] RIP

"Help me...please"

In his blurry vision the notification vanished and a dot appeared. Then more dots popped up, grouping together, stacking on top of each other, forming a circular shape that floated in the air.

"You want me to save you, master?"

Izuku couldn't read GOLA's expression. Its voice was monotone, lacking its usual sass.

"Please..."

A rectangle appeared before Izuku. He squinted his eyes, sharpening his sight. It looked like...the bazaar page?

A bottle-shaped item fell out of its diagram on the screen, much like how magicians pulled a burger straight out of the menu. The bottle floated towards Izuku, its cap popping off and allowing Izuku to see the color of the content.

Red. Like blood.

But he knew it wasn't blood.

"Drink it," GOLA ordered.

The bottle tilted, the red potion dripping over the rim and into Izuku's mouth, then it leaned back when Izuku had a mouthful as if it could read his mind. This repeated until the whole bottle was empty.

"Tastes like strawberry..." Izuku murmured, wiping his with his sleeves before he realized. "Ah, I can move now."

His vision cleared and Izuku skimmed over his body. All the injuries had disappeared, his skin unblemished like that of a newborn. Izuku swung his arm in wild circles, testing his movement. He could move it just fine.

"Thanks GOLA!"

GOLA turned away, the metallic color of its surface had a red tint to it. "D-Don't thank me. I'm just doing my job."

Before Izuku could respond, he heard a soft yeow behind him.

"Meow..."

A cat was lying a few feet away from Izuku. Its limbs were twisted in ways that turned Izuku's stomach upside down and its dirty white furs were smeared with blood.

Izuku rushed next to it. He placed a finger before its nose. Its breathing was shallow.

"GOLA, can I use the potion on others!?"

"Yes master, you can. Anything in the Bazaar can be used on other living beings, like that gadget you bought for your friend Aoyama Yuuga."

Izuku brought up the Bazaar page and purchased a red potion. Not even paying attention to the amount of reputation points deducted from his total as he uncapped the bottle and gently poured the liquid into the cat's mouth. Its tongue twitched, then began lapping up the liquid eagerly. Some spilled out of its mouth but most of it wasn't wasted.

Izuku watched in awe as its mangled limbs fixed itself back into a normal angle and the cuts all over its body closed in and disappeared altogether. The cat snapped its eyes open and upon seeing Izuku's round face up close, it shrieked and scrambled a fair distance away, knocking over a trash can in the process and hiding underneath the trash that spilled all over it.

"Ah! Um..." Izuku scratched his head. "Are you okay...?"

The cat remained still.

"I can see your body through the trash, you know."

It didn't even twitch.

Izuku sighed and ran a hand through his hair, feeling like an idiot talking to a cat. He must be out of his mind. When had animals ever talked before?

Seeing the cat still reluctant to move even as an unfinished can of soda lay on top of it spilling its content all over its dirtied furs, Izuku decided to just leave it be and picked up his bicycle. He waved a hand over it, casting an observe on the object.

[Observe] +1

Name: All Might Themed Bicycle
Owner: Midoriya Izuku
Durability [FIX]: 4/20 (the lower the durability, the lower the worth)
Worth (can be sold to the Bazaar): 7000 yen
Description: A limited edition All Might themed Bicycle for kids that was released two years ago. Now it doesn't worth as much as before, but if you save it for a hundred years I bet you it'll worth more than ten times the current amount.

"The Durability is four already?" Izuku gasped. "Last time I checked it was still 15."

Well, if the crash had gotten his HP down to less than 50%, then it wasn't really a surprise that his bicycle was this broken.

Izuku tapped the "FIX" option next to "Durability".

"Do you want to spend 50 REP points to fix the Durability to 100%?"

[YES] [NO]

"YES" obviously.

"Loading... Durability is now 20/20. Do you want to spend another 10 REP points to customize this object's colors and size?"

[YES] [NO]

Izuku was satisfied with the All Might colors, after all that was the whole point of having a bicycle like this. As for the size, he would have to change it later when he had grown taller and the bicycle no longer fit him.

He selected "NO".

The screen vanished and Izuku looked over his bike. "Good as new!"


The next morning…

"Are you kidding me...?"

The first thing Izuku saw when he exited his house was the dirty cat sitting obediently by the front door.

"Meoooow~"

"You followed me all the way here?"

"Meow!"

Izuku frowned. "I can't take care of you. I have to go to school."

"Meow..."

The cat went up close to him and nuzzled its cheek against Izuku's pants leg just as an idea came to him.

[Observe]+1

Shiro Lv 1
2 years old
Clingy, shy, fidgety
Status: Starving

If it had a name, did that mean it was a stray cat?

"I would love to find your owner for you, but I have to go to school right now. So… you know what?" Izuku took out the bowl of cereal and bag of cat food from his Inventory. He peeled the plastic lid off of the bowl and poured the cereal into his mouth, munching quickly and swallowing. Then, he dumped a mountain pile of cat food into the bowl and pushed it closer to the cat. "Here, eat this. I'll help you find your owner after school's over. Don't run off. Okay, Shiro-chan?"

Shiro didn't answer him but instead rushed to the food, burying its face into the food. Hearing the sound of soft chewing, Izuku smiled softly and stored the half-full bag of food into his inventory.

Like he promised, the moment school ended, Izuku threw all his belongings into his magic backpack, keeping them out of sight and storing them into his Inventory, and pedaled home as fast as possibly. This time, he made sure he stopped at every stop sign.

He almost had a panic attack when he found Shiro not where he left it this morning. But then he realized… Shiro would obviously get bored and wander off. Anyone would if they had to stand at one spot for over eight hours, even a trained soldier would! It didn't take long for him to locate it. Its white furs poking out of a pile of trash was easy enough to spot.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Locating Shiro's Owner]

Description: A famous saying goes "Never leave a cat behind!" Heroes don't just save humans; they save animals as well. Help Shiro by finding its owner!
Time Limit: 7 days
Reward: 300 EXP, 2 reputation point
Failure: (If you failed this, how are you gonna help missing children in the future?)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

Finding a missing cat's owner was too big of a task for one kid. You need the help of a cat expert, like one Shinsou Hitoshi.

"Hello?"

"Hey Toshi! It's me! Izuku!"

"I can tell." Hitoshi chuckled on the other end. "What do you need?"

"Don't you know lots about cats? I found a stray cat yesterday and I need your help locating its owner!"

"Uhhh… Now? I'm kinda busy."

"With what?"

"Manami's coming over soon."

"For what? You never really hang out with her much."

"I want her to teach me hacking. I thought it's pretty cool."

"Oh. Well, you can bring her, too! It'll be faster if all three of us work together!"

"Ok, fine. I'll ask her about it. See you at the park in ten."

"See yah!"

Hanging up, Izuku left his mom a note saying he's going to the park and will be back soon.

The park was about five minutes away from his house. There were already a few children playing around on the playground when Izuku arrived with the cat on his tail. He sat down on a bench and placed the empty bowl on the ground. Shiro immediately went beside it, staring up at him with hungry eyes.

"Okay okay, I know you're hungry, just give me a minute."

Izuku brought out the bag and emptied the remaining content into the bowl. As he watched Shiro eat, he reached out tentatively and placed his hand on its head. When it didn't react, he started petting it, letting out a pleasing smile as he did so.

Five minutes later, Izuku was bored. He had poured a bottle of milk into the empty bowl after Shiro finished eating, and now it was lapping up eagerly. He had enough petting to last a long time, and now he wanted to do something else.

Looking around to make sure no one was paying attention to him, Izuku got up and knelt down behind Shiro. Pressing his cheek to the ground, he squinted at the cat's butt…

"What're you doing?"

"Hieee!" Izuku yelped in surprise. He turned around, waving his hands frantically. "It's not what you think it is! I-I just wanna check whether it's a girl or a boy!"

Hitoshi brushed past him and crouched beside Shiro, who had already finished with the milk and was staring at Hitoshi curiously. He petted it gently and, when it didn't reject his hand, he picked it up.

"It's a girl," Hitoshi declared. "So this is the missing cat? Where did you find it?"

"Um… Let's just say we had a fateful encounter…" Izuku chuckled nervously. "Where's Manami-chan by the way?"

"She's on her way."


Aiba Manami was in love. She had never felt this feeling before, not for her neglecting parents, nor for anyone else. Midoriya Izuku was the first person she had felt this kind of emotions towards, and she was confused at first as to what this emotion was called. It took some googling and asking people on reddit to find out that this unexplainable feeling was called love.

Manami was terrified when she found her answers. She didn't tell anyone, especially Izuku, in fear of destroying their friendship. What if he didn't like her back? What if he didn't want to be friends with her anymore after this?

She had to keep this feeling as a secret. It was painful, but for now, just being next to him was enough.

It was with this thought in mind that Manami made her way over to the park. Hitoshi and Izuku were already there when she arrived. She hid behind a tree, not wanting to interrupt them with her presence.

"When...find...her?" Hitoshi was saying.

Find who?

Curious, Manami shifted closer.

"She...following me…"

Manami froze, a cold chill running down her back.

Could Izuku be talking about...her?

"Don't...what...do…" Izuku continued. "...find…I...hate..."

Hate.

Izuku was talking about her following him.

He had already found out about her love.

And he hated it.

Manami trembled, her legs failing her and she collapsed onto the grass. Covering her mouth to suppress her cry, she allowed tears to flow down her face.

She couldn't be his friend anymore.

He hated her after all.


"Nothing!" Izuku gasped, wiping sweat off of his forehead.

"Me too." Hitoshi sighed.

For the past two hours they'd been running around the neighborhood asking everyone in the area, even knocking on very house. But in the end, no one knew about the cat.

"Do you think maybe it's not a stray?"

"No, it definitely is. Look." Hitoshi pointed at the tip of Shiro's ear. "See that ear? The tip of that ear has been notched. It means she has been spayed. It's a necessary surgical procedure for all pet cats."

"Cool! I didn't know that. You really are the cat expert, Toshi!"

Hitoshi lifted his chin and stroked Shiro behind the ears, grinning. "Look who you're talking to."

"So…" Izuku sighed and began to walk back towards the park. "The only thing we can do now is make posters for her. I'll get started on that right away, and print them out at school tomorrow. Then we can meet up after school and post them on the street. There's bound to be someone who has seen—"

"Shiro-chan…"

Someone said from ahead, stopping Izuku and Hitoshi in their tracks.

It was a very familiar man dressed in what looked like pajamas and flip flops. His unruly hair was even messier and he had stubbles all over his chin. Izuku had never seen him so messed up. It was as if he was up all night and day looking for his missing cat…

Oh.

"You cat thieves…"

[Side Quest — Locating Shiro's Owner — completed!]
Reputation point +2

Later on Eraserhead spent an hour checking over Shiro making sure she hadn't been bullied by them (as he glared at the two boys). He thanked them afterwards for caring for Shiro and making sure no harm had come to her (at this, Izuku looked away nervously) before he left.

Manami didn't show up even after Izuku and Hitoshi parted ways at the park. Perhaps she had other things to do and couldn't contact them since they didn't have a phone. Izuku didn't know and he didn't bother to ask. It wasn't a big deal anyway. Shiro was returned to Eraserhead safe and sound and everything was good. Besides, Izuku would be meeting her this saturday anyway on their trip to AMAP.

Talking about AMAP, he should start getting ready.


The moment Toshinori stepped into the house, he nearly puked as a heavy stench hit his senses. He had to cover his nose as he struggled to take off his shoes with one hand, leaving the door wide open.

"Young Shimura!" He called as he stumbled to the boy's room. The door was locked, like always. "I need to, ahem, talk to you."

"Go away!" Came Tenko's voice from inside.

The pressure in his lungs forced Toshinori to inhale. The smell got in his throat and he could almost taste it. The closer he was to Tenko's room, the stronger the smell.

It was a few days ago when Toshinori found out about the hand. It started out with a strange smell in the background that brought up some bad memories in his mind. Toshinori had dealt with dead bodies before so he knew what a rotten body smell like. He thought it was perhaps a dead mice at first, but after flipping the entire house over and finding nothing, he turned his suspicion to Tenko.

The boy had been hiding inside his room since he arrived. Food were all delivered to his door and Tenko would only come out and get it when Toshinori had left. The only time he had seen the boy was when he used the toilet. He even went as far as to choose the time Toshinori wasn't around to take showers.

Toshinori had expected the boy to be evasive and antisocial, but he didn't know things would be this drastic. He had faked leaving the house and was instead hiding beneath the table waiting for Tenko to come out. When the boy opened the door with his showering supplies, that was when Toshinori saw the rotting hand wrapped up in a plastic bag and realized what was going on.

He had confronted the boy right away, imploring for an explanation, but all he received was a door slammed in his face.

He understood Tenko's need to have something remember his father by, so he didn't tell Chief Tsuragamae about this, yet. Eventually, he would have to, but if he did it now it would only serve to further distance his relationship with Tenko and make the boy hate him more. He had to take it slow.

But it was hard to take things slow when his house smelled like rotting corpses everyday. It wasn't as strong as the smell of a full corpse, thank god, since it was just a hand. But the smell still lingered in the background, reminding him every once in a while that there was a rotting human hand in his house.

"Young Shimura. I know I haven't been around much since I was busy at work, so I'm thinking maybe we can go out this weekend and have some fun together. You know, bond with each other a little. Have you ever heard of All Might Amusement Park? Funny name, I know." Toshinori chuckled. "It makes me feel so proud of myself."

Tenko didn't say anything.

"You see, last month I received an offer to participate in a stunt show at AMAP. I do that usually once every month. And according to schedule, I have some free time on my hand this Saturday, so I agreed to participate. What do you think? You wanna go?"

Still nothing.

Toshinori sighed. "I'm really sorry for lying to you and invading your privacy. I just wanted to know what that smell was. I really don't have any ill intentions. Please believe me."

"How about... No."

A long silence passed before Toshinori decided to end the conversation. It was going nowhere.

"If… If you ever change your mind, I'll be leaving for AMAP at around nine o'clock. So… If you want to go, just… be ready by then."

With that said, Toshinori walked away from Tenko's room. He was trying his best to make this adoption work. And according to 4chan, taking your child to an amusement park was the best way to further a relationship. He could only hope Tenko would change his mind because the next step in his "Ten Ways To Make Your Child Feel Special" book was to kiss them on the cheek every night and Toshinori was more than certain that he would get his face disintegrated if he tried that.


No matter what she did, she couldn't tune out Shouto's screams of pain.

Hiding under her quilt with her pillow muffling her ears, Fuyumi squeezed her eyes together and tried her best to ignore the screaming from the training room.

Every night the entire Todoroki household would be forced to stay awake because Endeavor wanted to train Shouto past midnight. Her younger brother's training sessions were getting longer and longer and he was starting to sport dark shadows under his eyes from lack of sleep. Sometimes, he would even lose his balance when he walked, looking as if he was going to faint any second.

Everyone was worried, except Endeavor.

But no one could do anything. The last time someone talked back to Endeavor, they were slapped in the face so hard their cheek was swollen for a month.

Endeavor was the dictator of the household. Everyone else was his pawns and had to cater to his every whim. No one could save Shouto from this monster. No one.

Fuyumi knew that. She knew she wouldn't be able to do anything, but that didn't stop her from getting off her bed and heading towards the scream. She had to take a look and make sure nothing too horrifying was going on.

The darkness in the hallway together with Shouto's screams and Endeavor's growls gave her shivers. Fuyumi tightened her hold on the hem of her pajamas and tensed up when she heard a particularly loud thud. When she reached the training room, she stayed by the door and peeked through the crack.

Endeavor was holding Shouto up by his neck against the wall.

Shouto was clawing at the vein-throbbing hand and kicking around desperately, his mouth opened to a silenced scream and his eyes rolling back.

Fuyumi gasped out loud, her entire body frozen and refusing to move.

Move!

She yelled in her mind.

Move! Shouto's going to die!

But she couldn't. The terror was like an invisible beast made of shadows, strangling her and weighing her down. Her heartbeat was pounding so fast she was sure Endeavor had heard, which explained why he had let go of Shouto and was now making his way over to the door.

She had to run. She had to get away.

Hundreds of muddled thoughts accelerated in her mind.

Fuyumi's vision swayed, her breathing becoming erratic.

The door slammed open.

Endeavor stormed out and glared down at her with those penetrating blue eyes. The pure dominating power in that single glare was enough to drain all her energy, making her collapse onto the ground. She stayed in that position, all the while maintaining eye contact with this man. Fuyumi was wholeheartedly ready to be murdered when Endeavor turned and went to his room.

She waited for his heavy footsteps to disappear before she rushed to Shouto's side.

Even after she helped clean up his injuries and bandaged him up, that powerlessness inside her remained. She was so weak. She couldn't do anything but stand there and watch as her younger brother almost died. What kind of sister was she? A sister's job was to protect her siblings. Yet what did she do? She let that man walk all over them.

This couldn't go on anymore. She had to be stronger. Stronger than Endeavor so he could no longer bully their family.

It was this day that Fuyumi decided…

She was going to become a hero.

Chapter Text

Fuyumi had a head of pure white hair when she was a baby. Her mother was delighted when she found out, but her father wasn't. The only interaction she had with him was an exchange of look when he passed by her crib. He had glanced at her with cold eyes void of all emotions except disappointment, like her birth was a mistake and she wasn't good enough for him.

Touya was already born by the time she received her quirk. Endeavor wasn't around at the time, perhaps he could foreseen what her quirk was. That was also when streaks of red magically appeared in her hair. The moment her mother realized what was happening, she immediately pulled her daughter into a room and warned her to never show her full quirk in front of Endeavor.

Fuyumi didn't understand what was going on. So, being the good girl she was, she heeded Rei's advice and registered her quirk as "Ice."

A few years later, Natsuo was born around the same time Touya's fire quirk manifested. Her newest brother had a head full of white hair just like she was as a baby. As expected, his quirk turned out to be "Ice."

It was only then when Fuyumi realized what was going on.

Her siblings' hair color matched their quirks, and that was how Endeavor was able to predict what quirk they would get.

He was disappointed at them because they didn't match the criteria.

Until Shouto came to existence.

His hair color was split symmetrically down the middle, red to the left and white to the right. As expected, his quirk turned out to be "Half Hot Half Cold," the exact quirk Endeavor was aiming for. There was no hiding it. It was too obvious what his quirk would be.

The moment Endeavor set his eyes on Shouto, a maniacal grin split his face in half and his eyes glinted with glee.

That was the beginning of Shouto's condemned life.

Every time Fuyumi saw him shuffling in the hallway with bruises littered all over his body and dried tear marks on his cheeks, she would feel a pang of guilt in her chest. Every time she bent down to hug him, she would notice their height difference and realize what a failure of a sister she was. She was so much taller than he was because she was a teenager who could, and should be able to, handle more than he could Yet, she saw his suffering and did nothing. She was supposed to share his burden, yet all she did was stay in her comfortable little circle and watch as her youngest sibling was tortured every single night by that monster like it was some comedic drama.

She was reminded of her selfishness everyday when she looked into the mirror, the glaring red streaks in her hair mocking her, taunting her, daring her to do something. She could have saved Shouto any time, but she was too afraid of herself receiving the same treatment that she never willed herself to do it.

She wanted to become Shouto's hero, but did she really have the gut to do it?

Blowing a strand of red hair away from her eyes, Fuyumi double-checked herself in the mirror to make sure she looked good before leaving her room. When she passed by Endeavor's room, she opened the door a crack to take a look. Her father had already left for work it seemed.

When she reached downstairs, her mom was preparing bentos and snacks for the trip.

"You're up so early, Fuyumi!" Rei gasped upon seeing her.

"It's my birthday after all."

"So, how did you sleep last night?"

Fuyumi clenched her fists, a dark look flashed across her face before she relaxed her tensed body. "Not bad, could be better."

Rei smiled. "I didn't have enough time to prepare so everyone's eating cereal this morning." She gestured towards the bentos she was packing with a laugh. "Can you go wake up your siblings? Thanks, honey."

"Of course, mom."

Getting everyone ready took another thirty minutes. Fuyumi woke Natsuo up first since he took the longest. When he realized he was the first one been woken up, he went right back to sleep followed by a "It's not fair! Go wake Touya-nii up first!"

Touya was the easiest to wake up. Fuyumi simply slipped an ice cube down his back and he jumped right out of his futon, landing on Natsuo with a cry.

Two down, one to go.

Fuyumi rapped on Shouto's door with her knuckles, saying "Wake up, Shou-chan" as she welcomed herself in.

To her surprise, Shouto's bed was already made and he was in the middle of getting dressed.

"Morning, Yumi-neechan," Shouto said as he finished fiddling with the last button on his collared shirt. "And Happy Birthday! I have a gift for you!"

He knelt by his futon and pulled out a drawing from underneath it. "I drew this for you. I hid it under the futon so no one would find out. I hope you like it!"

It was a colorful drawing of himself holding hands with Fuyumi, Rei, Natsuo, and Touya. A big smile on their faces as they sat on the purple grass under a green sky. Endeavor was nowhere to be seen. On the top were the words: "Happy Birthday, Fuyumi-neechan! I hope we can stay together forever! From: Todoroki Shouto, your brother."

Fuyumi accepted it with trembling hands. Her eyes flickered to the bandages around his fragile neck that hid the marks he received last night and she couldn't help but let out a choked sob.

"Nee-chan?"

"I'm okay." Fuyumi swallowed the bitterness clogging her throat and plastered a big smile onto her face, matching the one on her drawn counterpart. "Come on, let's go downstairs. We're eating cereal for breakfast today."

"Ehhh… No soba?"

It took another ten minutes to get everyone seated at the dining table.

"Stupid Sis, here," Touya grumbled as he handed Fuyumi a gift bag.

Fuyumi was already used to Touya calling her names. It was his way of showing that he cared.

Inside the bag was a neatly wrapped square box. Fuyumi peeled the wrappings off carefully. The box contained a necklace with a string of beads that read "TO MY GULLABLE STUPID SISTER." The beads were all stuck together with hot glue, as if a certain someone didn't want her to get rid of the beads she didn't like or rearrange them.

"Happy Birthday."

Fuyumi's lips twitched. But she still put on the necklace.

"Thank you, Touya."

"Mom!" Natsuo popped up from his chair. "Can we get the cake now?"

"No, honey. That's for dinner."

Natsuo slammed his head onto the table. His cereal bowl tipped over, spinning once, twice, then settling back onto the spot. "Unfortunately, Yumi-nee, you'll have to wait till dinner to see your present then."

"That's fine. The longer I wait, the more anticipated I am. Isn't that great?"

"Hell yeah!" Natsuo ignored Rei's angry yell about his language and continued, "Prepare yourself cause you'll see how my present is wayyy better than Touya-nii's!"

"Talk shit, get hit."

Natsuo rounded on Touya. "What did you say!?"

"Boys! Stop! Do we have to do this on your sister's birthday?" Rei folded her arms. "Especially on a day when your father isn't home."

At the mention of Endeavor, everyone quieted down.

"Let's just enjoy this day off, shall we? Be nice to each other. It's not often we get to have some family bonding time, so cherish this day."

Fuyumi glanced at Shouto, who was poking around the cereal and stringing the Froot Loops onto his chopstick like a skewer. To say it wasn't often was a huge understatement. Fuyumi had forgotten the last time she got to spend some time with Shouto. Not seeing him in the morning or passing by him in the hallway, but actually going out and having fun with her youngest brother. Endeavor had done everything in his power to separate Shouto from the rest of his siblings, calling them a "bad influence" to him.

"Mom…" Shouto began in a shy voice, his hands twirling the skewer of Froot Loops nervously. "What… What if father finds out? I think it's better if I don't go…"

"Don't worry about that, Shou-chan." Rei grabbed his hands with a fond smile. "I won't let him do that. You deserve some time off. Do you know what happens to a computer if you never turn it off?"

Shouto shook his head.

"It breaks." Rei patted his head. "And I don't want that to happen to you."

"Mom is right." Fuyumi cut in the conversation. She clasped her hands together and pouted. "Plus, I want you to be around for my birthday. Can you grant me this wish, Shou-tan?"

Shouto chuckled, covering his mouth. "Of course, I'll grant you any wish, neechan!"

"Now, now, stop talking and start eating." Rei stood up with her empty bowl and placed it in the sink. As she began washing the dishes with her back turned towards them, she scolded, "Natsuo, stop throwing cereals at Touya."

"Wha— I wasn't—"

"And Touya, don't pour your milk into your sister's glass. You're the one who needs to grow, not her."

"Hmph. In a few years I'll be taller than her."

Fuyumi poured his portion back into his glass with a smirk.

"And Shouto? If you're not going to grill your cereals, don't act like you will."

Shouto slid the Froot Loops off of the chopstick begrudgingly and began eating them one by one, very slowly.

Fuyumi glanced at the clock. An hour had passed since she woke up and her family was nowhere near ready to leave. At this rate, it'd be lunch time when they arrived at All Might Amusement Park.

As she was thinking, a Froot Loop hit her cheeks.

"Natsuo!"

"That wasn't me! That was Touya-nii!"


The moment Izuku woke up today, he realized something was very wrong.

Every morning, aside from creating a Save File, he would check his profile habitually because of the one thing that would change daily.

And that was the Luck.

His luck had never gone below a 5, which Izuku guessed was the average. A five meant a normal day and nothing particularly good or bad would happen.

Yet, today when he checked his profile…

LUCK: 4 (changes everyday)

The number glared at him as if it was daring him to partake on a venture to challenge its authority.

"Why does it have to be today of all days?" Izuku groaned.

Today was the day of the much-awaited field trip and the day Izuku planned on coming to a decision about his quirk. A week had passed since Izuku reached level ten and he had done everything he could to decide on a quirk. He had an extensive talk with Inko, showing her his notes and ideas for each quirk. She had nodded along and offered her own thoughts, providing him suggestions but not forcing her ideas onto him. Ultimately, the choice was in his hand. And Izuku already had an idea on which quirk he wanted.

Yet, the number next to "Luck" was making him doubt his decision. Was it truly wise to pick a quirk on today of all days? How would his "bad luck" affect it?

Izuku didn't know and had no way of knowing until he had gotten through the day.

He would have to cross his fingers and wait for the day to end calmly, and then choose a quirk by the end of it, hoping all the bad luck had passed.

So far, everything went smoothly.

Izuku woke up early and stuffed his magic backpack with snacks. Now that the bowl of cereal, bag of cat food, and bottle of milk were gone, he had three empty slots that could be filled with food and drinks for the trip.

He kissed Inko on the cheeks as he waved goodbye at YHP.

He gave the permission slip to Genji-sensei and got on the bus with all of his classmates, happy to see that no one's parents were cruel enough to deny their child this trip.

They arrived at All Might Amusement Park safely. No traffic accident or bus hijacking.

Could he be over thinking it? Maybe Luck: 4 was also within the average range?

Izuku jumped out of his seat when a hand clasped his shoulder.

"What're you muttering about? Let's go. Everyone's off the bus already." Hitoshi grabbed his arm and dragged him out of his seat none too gently.

The rest of the kids had already formed a school circle around the teachers and the chaperones of this trip. The staffs that participated in this field trip were Genji-sensei, two other teachers from YHP of whom Izuku had seen a few times in the past two years, and seven pro heroes. Like the first time they met Eraserhead, the pro heroes weren't exceptionally popular. They were all middle-tiered pro heroes.

They got to choose their own teams of four.

Like always, Izuku stayed with Hitoshi, Yuuga, and Manami.

Everyone seemed perfectly fine with the decision, except Manami who couldn't stop fidgeting and staring at the ground. And when Izuku asked if she was okay, she merely nodded timidly and shied away.

The pro hero assigned to their team was the female member of Water Hose couple, with her husband being the chaperone of another team. Her individual hero name was "Water Girl." The pro hero had shoulder-length brown hair and an unwavering, determined smile as she introduced herself to their team.

"You're on your own from now on. Meet back here with the rest of your team at sixteen thirty. Make sure you stay with your team wherever you go and don't lose sight of any of them. If you need to go anywhere, tell the chaperone first," Genji-sensei was saying. "Now, those of you who has been on a field trip with us should already know how the badges work. If this is your first time, then your chaperone will explain it to you. Free time starts now!"

Everyone rushed towards the end of the line at the entrance, waiting for their tickets and bags to be checked. As Izuku's team waited, the Water Girl asked, "Does everyone know how to use the badges?"

"Yeah! This isn't our first field trip!"

"Can you explain it to me how it works then?"

Izuku took off his badge and flipped it so the back was facing his team members. The back of the small badge had a dial around the pin, a button to the left of the dial, a tiny dial on the top right, and two sections with tiny holes in them.

"So basically, the YHP badge is equipped with a tiny walkie-talkie on the back and can send out a signal to specific cell phones. Genji-sensei said the staff members' phones can be used to track down the badges so they'd know where we are if we went missing." Izuku pointed at the dial around the pin. "You turn this to different dots and they'll connect you to different badges. I've already set the first dot to Toshi, second to Yuuga, and third to Manami-chan. I just need to set the fourth one to you."

"Very good." Water Girl clapped her hands. "Go on."

Izuku pointed at the section on top. "This is the mike. You push this button to speak into it. And this bottom section is the speaker where the sound comes out. You can control the volume with this tiny dial." He then ran his finger along the top edge of the badge, stopping when he found a bump and pulling out the antenna. "And this sends and receives signals."

"Good job! Wow, someone has been paying attention during class." Water Girl applauded making Izuku blush and scratch his head. She then took out her own badge and connected with everyone's. "Is everyone good?"

All four gave her a thumbs up.

"Perfect!" Water Girl spun around when the previous person in line went through the gate. "And it's our turn, too. Just in time."

"Hello," greeted the employee by the table. "May I see your bags please?"

"Of course."

Water Girl didn't carry a bag with her hero costume so she waited by the gate as Izuku and the others offered their bags to be checked. Izuku had taken out some snacks from his inventory and left them in his magic backpack so as to not rouse suspicion.

When everyone had passed through the security check, Water Girl gave their tickets to the employee by the gate, who scanned it through a machine and let all of them pass. As each of them went through the turnstile, the employee gave them a card with square tiles on them. On top was the sentence: "Gather all the stamps and you'll receive a mystery present when you leave!" The back of the card was a picture of all the staff members and heroes taken in front of the main gate.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Scavenger Hunt!]

Description: Collect all the stamps to get a mystery present!
Time Limit: None
Status: 0/10 collected
Reward: 500 EXP (You're already getting a mystery present and you're still asking for more?)
Failure: None

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

"Wow!"

Izuku breathed as he took in the courtyard with the souvenir shops and the concession stands. Everything was in bright happy colors, with most of them being red, blue, and yellow. The moving robotic trash cans even had the same markings as did All Might's costume, including the two strands of bangs that stood up on the lid. The smell of hot-dogs and pretzel was in the air, making Izuku's stomach growl even though he had just eaten breakfast.

Shadowing over them was the tracks for a roller coaster ride. The thick clanking of the ride passing over their heads, the shuddering of rails and tracks, and the screams of the passengers were extremely loud from their position underneath it.

As everyone moved from the courtyard onto their first theme land—Princess Bubblegum's Candy Kingdom, they could now see people floating and bouncing around in giant pink bubbles and the huge candy castle from which children were climbing on top and eating out of.

Izuku let out a grin so wide his cheeks hurt.

This was going to be fun!


"I'm really glad you decided to come with me."

Tenko didn't respond and continued staring at the scenery outside the window as the car sped on the highway. His hands were clenching the plastic bag that contained his father's rotten hand inside his pocket. It was probably the world's stupidest idea to let a kid bring a rotten human hand to a place full of other people and attractions that turned the passengers upside down. If someone found out, the result wouldn't be just a simple scolding from the police and almost getting killed by Gran Torino. Toshinori knew that and he was fully prepared for the consequences.

He was against the idea in the first place, too. But as if knowing Toshinori wasn't a good disputant, Tenko insisted he would only go if he could bring the hand with him. After a long dissension which ended with Toshinori's giving in, Tenko finally let out a smirk and did a victory dance, throwing the plastic bag high into the air and catching it.

"I know I've said this before, but I just want to say it again so you—"

"I know I know." Tenko groaned, annoyed. "Don't take out the hand. I get it. I'm not deaf."

Toshinori gave a dry smile. "Ok, just making sure."

As they neared the entrance of AMAP, the side of the road started to have signs and banners and more and more cars were beginning to slow down the traffic. Driving in the left lane, Toshinori was never so glad he had ordered tinted window films a while ago which he used to hide his identity when driving.

Toshinori followed the car in front of him until they reached the parking lot. He then turned the wheel to the left, taking the alternate route which was used for staff members only. There were no cars in this path. All the staffs were probably already at work.

When they reached the security guard, Toshinori rolled down the window just enough to show his face and slipped his hero license through the gap.

"Heya All Might! It's been over a month since I last saw you!" The security guard greeted cheerfully, lifting his cover and cocking his head sideways as he looked into the car. "Is that your son? I didn't know you have a son!"

"Haha… Yeah, I just recently—"

"I'm not his son."

Tenko interjected before Toshinori could say anything. The sudden interruption surprised both adults. The security guard stared at the two, expression frozen, while Toshinori wanted to bury his face into his muscles and hide away from the rest of the world forever. Screw the responsibility of the number One hero.

"Uhh well, I hope you'll have a good day."

Toshinori accepted his hero license with an apologetic nod and drove away in a burst of engine.

Neither of them spoke a word. Tenko continued to stare out the window while Toshinori drove through the staff entrance, following the path that went around the entire amusement park. They drove past a Ferris Wheel, then a three-story high haunted mansion, then a construction zone where they could hear multiple voices shouting at once. And finally, they reached a parking lot with about a dozen cars parked next to a building.

"We're here," Toshinori announced after he parked the car. He purposely didn't bring up what happened earlier. "This is the manager's office. I need to talk to the CEO of AMAP real quick before I take you out to play. Are you okay with that?"

"Whatever you do is none of my business." Tenko didn't even look at Toshinori as he spoke. He unbuckled the seatbelt and left the car, slamming the door.

Toshinori stared at the closed door and shook his head, slouching slightly as he stared down at his hands. They were calloused hands covered in scars and cuts and visible veins with the capability to hold up buildings and carry ten people at once, but they couldn't provide comfort to the one person that mattered.

Unbuckling his seatbelt and turning off the engine, Toshinori got off the car, locked it, and made his way towards the building. Tenko was staring at the colorful walls of the construction zone, which was right next to the building. The walls were designed like the layout of a manga panel, with nothing drawn in each panel.

"Young Shimura. Do you want to come with me?" Toshinori called out to the boy who merely ignored him.

Opening the door, Toshinori was greeted with a bespectacled man in his mid thirties dressed in a fine-tailored suit and pink, slicked-back hair.

Upon hearing the bells ring as the door swung open, the man turned around, immediately beaming as he caught sight of Toshinori.

"All Might, my old friend! Finally you're here! How have you been?" The man laughed jolly, rushing to shake Toshinori's hands. His hands were bony and hairless with long, agile fingers and well-manicured nails.

"Not bad, not bad." Toshinori laughed good-naturedly. "Just the usual, you know. What about you? How's your park going?"

"All good! Never better! You see that zone over there?" The CEO dragged Toshinori to the window and pointed at the construction zone. "We're adding a new hero theme land. Ever heard of Mangaka?"

"Of course I have. He's the one who drew the most popular manga series currently ongoing! I'm a fan of his 'My Hero Aca—"

"Yes, that's him!" The CEO interrupted him. "And guess what? He's also the hero Mangaka who recently entered the Top Ten! His popularity instantly skyrocketed when the paparazzi revealed his alternate identity! It was all over the news! How did you not know!?"

Toshinori responded the over-enthusiasm with a lukewarm reply. "Well, I'm not as invested in celebrity gossip as you are, Hatsu—"

"Anyway," Hatsume interrupted him again, turning back to look out the window with his hands clasped behind his back. "We're working on creating his own theme park and hoping to open within a year. Mangaka's quirk is perfect for a theme park. Since his blood consists of a special ink that can make anything drawn with it come to life, we've created markers—"

"But wouldn't that hurt him?"

"No, no." Hatsume wigged his index finger, winking. "This man suffers no pain when he bleeds. Plus, he can replenish his blood any time by drinking normal ink. We've already talked this over with him and he has agreed to donate his blood for us to create markers. We're thinking of giving a marker to every visitor entering his theme land so they can draw using that special ink and see their drawings come to life. Isn't that a great idea? The kids will love it!"

"That does sound interesting…" Toshinori murmured, rubbing his chin in contemplation. "Maybe I can get Young Shimura to try it and he might even like me after—"

"Anyway!" Hatsume clapped his back, barely moving him an inch. "Let me introduce you to the stunt actors who will work with you today. Come on in, guys!"

A door on the opposite side of the room swung open and in walked about twenty people dressed in civilian attire. None of them showed surprise upon seeing the number One hero.

One of them, a teenage boy, went up to Toshinori and held out a hand as he grinned with recognition in his eyes. "It's been a while, All Might! Remember me? I worked with you last month!"

"Of course I do!" Toshinori accepted the handshake with his signature smile. "You're the one who kidnapped Princess Bubblegum and tried to feed her to the dragons and ultimately got defeated by me!"

The boy smiled sheepishly. "Yeah, that's me."

The rest of the stunt actors followed suit and greeted Toshinori, shaking his hand. When he reached the last person, Hatsume explained.

"Ah, this is our new addition. Renta-kun called in sick yesterday so we had to find a replacement for him. Surprisingly, he's able to memorize all the lines and learn the moves within a day!"

"Really? That's amazing!" Toshinori went up to the last person and held out his hand for a handshake. "It's nice to meet you. I'm All Might."

The large, bulky man with short, spiky blonde hair accepted the handshake with a toothy grin. His handshake was firm and never had Toshinori met anyone with such a heavy grip.

"Nice to meet you All Might. I will be acting as the villain boss in this show. Please call me Muscular."


The gondola where he resided was empty.

The Sludge poked his head out from under the seat and peaked out of the window. The gondola had reached the top of the Ferris Wheel and he could get an entire view of the Amusement Park from this position.

He had been spying on the passengers for over an hour now and so far he hadn't come across any individuals with interesting, powerful quirks. He wasn't worried, however, since he still had about two more hours until All Might would make an appearance. He just had to find a powerful host to takeover and use their quirk to wreck havoc. All Might wouldn't be able to save anyone since he'd be occupied with fighting Muscular.

When the other heroes arrived, they would focus on limiting the casualties and dealing with the aftermath of his destruction instead of supporting All Might. By the time he had completed his reign of terror, Muscular would have done a good deal of damage on All Might already. Then, it would be his time to shine and kill All Might once and for all.

No one messed with his money and got away alive.

Look at Sir! He refused to pay the Sludge, and what happened to him now?

He was dead! DEAD!

Ha!

The Sludge was so close to getting his money! So close! Just two more days!

And yet, his money ran away.

Because of that goddamned All Might.

But today… Today, the hero would meet his demise.

Today, the Sludge would get his money.

Chapter Text

Tenko was starting to regret not following All Might into that building.

It was hot outside. He was bored. The grating noise from the construction zone was annoying. And there was nowhere to sit.

But he couldn't give into his desire.

There was nothing to compete over, but Tenko still felt like if he went to that building now, he'd lose. He knew it was just his stubbornness making this harder for him, but he was the one who made the choice in the first place. To turn back and go against his words would be humiliating. And Tenko didn't feel like being laughed at by All Might today.

"Hey kid! Watcha doing here?"

A man waved at him from the entrance to the construction zone. He had light brown hair and was dressed in clean, casual clothes, unlike the other construction workers around him.

When Tenko shrugged, the man passed the clipboard he was holding to a worker next to him and jogged over.

"Why are you here alone? Where're your parents?"

Tenko bit his lips and hesitated before speaking. "He's in that building."

"Oh, and he left you out here all by yourself? What an awful father."

"You think so, too!?" Tenko exclaimed, jumping onto the chance to badmouth All Might. "He's truly horrible!"

The man laughed. "You're a funny kid, huh? I'm Uraraka Juryoku. What's your name?"

"Shimura Tenko."

"Pleasure to meet you, Tenko-kun." Uraraka took out a marker from his trouser pocket and handed it to Tenko. "You must be bored waiting out here all by yourself. Here, take this."

Tenko accepted it meekly. "What is this?"

"It's a magical marker!"

"Magical… marker?"

"Try drawing on this wall." Uraraka pointed at the wall that surrounded the construction zone. There were blank manga panels covering the entirety of the wall. "And something magical will happen."

Tenko gulped, his hand tightening around the marker. Pushed by curiosity, he uncapped the marker and drew a sloppy stick figure onto the wall.

"Ah!" He yelped when the stick figure peeled off of the wall and stood in the air with its feet. It circled around Tenko, did a somersault, and returned to the wall. "How— How did—"

"Cool, isn't it?" Uraraka grinned, his eyes crinkling in delight. "You can keep that marker. It contains a special ink that can make anything drawn with it come to life. It doesn't matter what surface you draw it on."

"Thank… you."

Uraraka ruffled his hair. "I'm going back to work. I will be here until this afternoon so just call out my name if you needed anything."

Tenko stared after Uraraka as he ran back to the construction zone. A ghostly sensation of the touch lingered on his hair and Tenko touched the spot briefly, musing what it'd be like to have that man as his father.

He quickly slapped his cheeks to get rid of the thoughts, though.

While waiting for All Might to come back out, Tenko drew a dog, or rather, a strange four-legged creature that he called "a dog". The being fell out of the wall and pranced around him, wagging its tail happily and licking his hand with an inky tongue, leaving a trail of ink in its wake. When it returned to the wall, the ink stain also disappeared.

Tenko then drew a few more things: a soccer ball (he could actually kick it around), a banana (he peeled it and there was nothing inside), a phone (that wouldn't turn on), a skateboard (he could actually ride on it!) and a bottle of water (Uraraka stopped him before he could drink it, saying it would be filled with ink. When Tenko scowled, the man ran back and brought him a bottle of water, a real one).

By the time Tenko had filled the entire wall with his doodlings and was in the middle of drawing an elephant on the other end of the wall, All Might left the building, chatting animatedly with a pink-haired man. The hero was followed by a group of people, including a man with short blond hair who smiled at Tenko when he passed, but somehow the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. When All Might saw Tenko, he explained how he had to do a rehearsal for the stunt show and how he would try to be back as soon as possible.

Tenko didn't even bother telling All Might how he was soaked with sweat in this sweltering heat, or how he noticed the rotten smell emitting from the hand in his pocket for the first time, or how he had already drank three bottles of water and he still felt thirsty, or how his lungs felt as if they were on fire with every breath he took. No, he didn't bother telling the man any of that. He simply nodded and went back to his art.

There was no point.

He wasn't important after all.

"Have some fun together my ass." Tenko glowered. "The number One hero has better things to do than spend time with some orphan."


"That. Was. AWESOME!" Natsuo jumped in excitement upon getting off the boat.

Shouto quickly hid behind his sister to avoid getting water all over him.

"Natsuo! Take off your poncho before jumping around!" Fuyumi held him down and wrestled the poncho off of him. Only then did Shouto dare to step out of Fuyumi's protection.

They had just gotten off the water coaster and collected their sixth stamp. The final drop turned everyone's stomach upside down, and no one felt like eating anything for the next few hours.

Shouto had never been to an amusement park before so he was relatively new to this experience. He didn't like the feeling in his stomach but he did enjoy the way his heart skipped a beat when they dropped from thirty feet high into a pool of water, splashing water all over their prepared ponchos.

When he was in the air, he felt a sense of freedom and liveliness he had never felt before in his life. His days had always been training, training, and more training. Never had he gotten a chance to see how small people looked when he was thirty feet in the air, or how reachable the sky seemed when they were climbing up the tracks.

Today, he felt like he could forget about training and Endeavor and the responsibility as his father's "masterpiece". Today, Shouto could be Shouto.

"Guys, let's go check out that Haunted Mansion!" Natsuo suggested after Rei had packed all the ponchos away.

"Does it have ghosts?" Shouto asked, grabbing Fuyumi's hands tightly.

"No, but it has something even scarier." Natsuo leaned up close and pulled a scary face. "A serial killer who, according to rumors, has made even All Might scream in fright!"

Rei smacked him lightly on the head with a fond smile. "Stop scaring Shouto. What kind of brother are you?"

"Awww." Natsuo groaned. "Aw fine. It's not much of a haunted house, per se, more like an escape room."

"What's that?"

Touya looked a little pale, probably still affected by the ride. "It's the kind of games where you're trapped in a room and have to find a way out. That haunted mansion is called the House of Doom. You start the game locked in a room with a flashlight almost drained of battery. You have to find a way out of the room and escape the mansion while looking for spare batteries scattered around and avoiding the serial killer."

"It's not as hard as it sounds. And not that scary either." Fuyumi reassured. "Last time we went there, the staff who acted as the serial killer wasn't even as tall as I am. And he was super skinny, too, like he could fall in one push. Plus, I've memorized the route to the exit so don't worry about getting lost."

"Last time we went there…"

So this wasn't their first time coming here…

Shouto stared down at his toes, suddenly realizing how different he was from his siblings. Endeavor was right. His siblings were a part of a totally different world, a tight circle with no room for him. Could he ever squeeze into their relationship? Was there even a spot for him in the first place?

"Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!" Natsuo urged on, and the Todoroki family started making their way over to the next attraction…

...only to be greeted with a height requirement stand by the entrance.

"This wasn't here last time we came," complained Natsuo as he kicked the sign.

A worker hurried over when she saw him abusing the sign. "This is a new regulation enforced this year," she explained. "Last year we had a boy who embarrassed himself after receiving too much shock in this attraction. His family was so furious they made us choose between enforcing this regulation or seeing them in court. And in the end, this is what the CEO decided."

As she spoke, Shouto went up and stood with his back against the sign, placing a hand flat on the top of his head and shifting it back until it hit the board. He then stepped away to see his hand placement.

It was an inch below the line.

"I'm very sorry but we cannot let you enter this attraction without meeting the requirement." The worker bowed and apologized even though it wasn't her fault.

"It's fine," Shouto said. He really was fine with it. He didn't like ghosts or scary stuff in the first place.

"Awwww, but I wanna go!" Natsuo stomped his feet.

Touya kept staring at the mansion as well, obviously interested.

"How about this? I'll stay with Shouto and find something fun to do," Fuyumi suggested. "While you three go to this haunted house? We can keep in contact via phone."

"Are you sure you two will be okay?" Rei asked, uncertainty visible in her eyes.

"Yes, mom. I can handle him. Don't worry."

Rei was still worried but she eventually agreed after a long annoying pestering session from Natsuo and Touya.

Fuyumi and Shouto stood by the entrance and watched as the other three members of their family entered the huge door with two roaring lion heads as the door knobs. When the heavy door slammed shut, rattling on follow through, Fuyumi turned to Shouto.

"Let's go somewhere fun."

"Okay."

Shouto thought about heading towards the next station on the stamp card, but decided against it when he took others' feelings into consideration. If he was in their shoes, he wouldn't want to be left behind. He wanted to collect all the stamps with everyone and get the mystery present together. He wanted to share the joy, not hog it all to himself.

"Yumi-neechan," Shouto called out as he squeezed Fuyumi's hand to get her attention. "Let's go to the Ferris Wheel."

"Sure. I love Ferris Wheels!"

Before they head out in the direction of the Ferris Wheel, they turned left towards the construction zone and purchased two ice cream cones at the vendor nearby. Walking to the Ferris Wheel would take about fifteen minutes so it was a good idea to have something to do (eat) while they walked.

Shouto was amazed at the variety of flavours he could choose from. The only ice cream he had ever tried were the ones Rei bought back from the food stores. And they were always either vanilla or strawberry flavors because his family loved these. He didn't know charcoal ice cream existed, or lobster ice cream, or cheetos ice cream!

In the end, Shouto decided to give charcoal ice cream a try.

"Pff."

A farting sound came from his sister. Fuyumi was giggling uncontrollably, her entire body shaking with laughter that seeped through the hand covering her mouth.

"You… You need to look at your face, Shou-chan." Fuyumi held up her phone with a shaky hand. The camera app was pulled up and it was set to selfie mode.

Shouto grabbed the phone from his sister. Her hand was shaking so much he couldn't see a thing.

He looked into the camera, and gasped.

"My mouth! My teeth!" He cried. "It's all black!"

Fuyumi was still laughing, clenching her stomach and bending over.

Pouting, Shouto spooned a scoop and rubbed it onto her face.

"Hey!"

Shouto dashed off in the direction of the Ferris Wheel with an angry Fuyumi on his heels. An eight-year-old obviously couldn't outrun a teenager. Soon, he was caught by his sister who dumped the rest of the ice cream all over his face.

"It's all your fault," Shouto grumbled when he stepped out of the restroom. His hair was slightly wet and messed up after washing his face.

"Sorry." Fuyumi grimaced as she reached out to fix his hair. "Let's just go to the Ferris Wheel before the others are done and want to meet up."

"Alright."


Shouto took a step back, and another, then another.

"It's huge." He marveled.

"I know right?"

The Ferris Wheel didn't look that big from a distance. But when Shouto stood directly under it, he could then recognize the spinning monstrosity that was the Ferris Wheel. The contraption was so huge he couldn't even capture its entirety in his vision. Seeing how it loomed over him blocking the sun with its overwhelming height made Shouto slightly afraid of riding it.

"Come on, don't be scared." Fuyumi urged him when it was their turn. "I promise it'll be fun."

Shouto gripped his sister's hand tightly as they entered their gondola. They sat on the same side, the door clicked shut, and they began ascending.

Shouto squeezed his eyes shut until Fuyumi patted him gently on the back.

"We're almost at the top. Take a look. It's beautiful."

Shouto opened one eye, then the other as he took in the view.

"Wow."

"Beautiful, isn't it?"

Their gondola was about a quarter way up. They hadn't reached the peak yet, but Shouto could already see why Fuyumi encouraged him to give this a try.

Being so, so high up in the sky, he could see all the rides and the scale of this entire park. He could even see the prominent skyscrapers faraway into the city.

Seeing all the tiny people gawking at them from below gave Shouto a sense of pride and accomplishment. He felt powerful being above everyone else. They were so small he felt like he could crush them with a pinky. No one could belittle him anymore. No one could step on him and call him a failure anymore. Because up here, he was the biggest of them all.

"I like this feeling." Shouto admitted, "Father can't reach me up here. Here, I'm truly free. Here, I can be myself."

He looked up when he felt a touch on his head. Fuyumi was smiling at him softly while running her fingers through his hair. At this exact moment, the sun shone through the window, hitting her in the back and basking her in its rays. Her form glowed, her white hair becoming almost transparent as sunlight seeped through the strands.

For a second, Shouto wondered if this was what angels looked like.

In the next second, the world turned dark.

Disgusting wetness shrouded his body and something slimy pushed against his lips.

Shouto pursed his lips as tight as possible, but he was forced to open up letting a slimy thing slither down his throat when something wrapped around his neck, choking the air out of him.

He tried to breath through his nose, but his nostrils were soon filled with the slime as well.

He couldn't see. He couldn't breath.

His head started to spin as the pressure in his lungs increased.

Shouto clawed at the slime surrounding him desperately.

He tried using his quirk, but his fire was smothered by the slime and his ice wasn't strong enough to break through the slime.

Endeavor was right.

Shouto was too weak.

For the first time in his life, he wished he had worked harder during training sessions.

If he was as strong as his father, he wouldn't be in this situation right now.

"Shouto!"

Light pierced through the darkness as shards of ice ripped through the slime clouding his face, striking the window behind him and shattering it. Shouto took the chance to wiggle his mouth free from the restrain but he only had the time to take one breath before the slime shoved itself down his throat once more.

"Get away from him, villain!" Fuyumi shouted as she blasted shards at it, each piece avoiding Shouto and hitting the slime coating his form with precision.

"Never would I expect to meet the number two hero, Endeavor's kids on today of all days. It's just my luck!" The villain that was suffocating him tightened its choked hold on his neck.

Shouto frantically grabbed and kicked at the slime to no avail. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes as his face went numb and his head felt like it was about to explode. He tried to scream for help, but he couldn't get any air out.

"Be thankful of your parents that you didn't get your father's quirk." The villain sneered at Fuyumi. "Because otherwise, I would have to take over your body."

The voice was growing faint.

Shouto's vision went dark.

He didn't know what was going on around him.

But one thing he did know was that his left side was burning up like never before. The intensity of the flame that poured out of his body was too strong for him to handle, just like Endeavor's flame whenever he was assaulted by it. Shouto could feel himself overheating and he desperately wanted to use his ice side to cool down but the slime was rendering him incapable of doing anything.

Before Shouto could think of anything else, he heard a huge explosion that seemed to happen right next to his ears and the next thing he knew, his body started falling down the sky at an alarming rate.


[Pistol Marksmanship] +1

You have reached level 5 in "Pistol Marksmanship." Level 5 upgrade "50% chance to get a +25% Accuracy boost on every shot" unlocked!

Bang!

Bang bang!

[Side Quest — Failure to Stop — completed!]

Izuku let out a sigh of relief as his grip slackened against the pistol. The crowd who had been watching him level up his marksmanship for the past twenty minutes erupted into cheers.

"Wow, you did it," Hitoshi observed, clapping along with everyone else. "But how much did you spend?"

Izuku accepted the highest level of prize from the owner of this carnival game and presented it to Hitoshi. "The newest android phone currently on the market. The market price is 100,000 yen. And I got it for 20,000 yen."

"Oh, good for you. Must be nice to have a phone when most of your friends don't," Hitoshi said sourly.

"Hey I didn't mean to—"

"Relax, I'm just joking." Hitoshi bumped him on the shoulders, chuckling. "Come on, let's see how the others are faring."

While Izuku took his sweet time killing paper targets, the rest of his team except Hitoshi had gone to the next booth over to watch others get a taste of defeat. Water Girl was watching a couple kids attempting to throw ninja stars, that looked like the ones used by Edgeshot, at balloons attached to a sticky wall, while Yuuga and Manami were having what seemed to be a serious conversation beside her.

"Sorry for the wait." Izuku scratched his cheeks with a sheepish smile. "But I finally got what I wanted."

Water Girl turned towards Izuku and gasped at the phone he was holding. "You actually got it?" Her expression suddenly turned into that of a stern mother. "How much did you spend, though?"

"Not too much." Izuku quickly shook his head and waved his hands around. "Only about twenty-thousand yen. And considering this phone costs a hundred-thousand yen, it's a win for me."

Water Girl placed a hand on her forehead as she shook her head. "I'm not even going to ask where you got your twenty-thousand yen."

Today was her first day volunteering at YHP so obviously she didn't know about Izuku's part time job as the sweets vendor.

"Anyway, the stunt show starts in ten minutes. Is everyone ready to go?" Water Girl asked around.

Izuku and Hitoshi nodded while Yuuga and Manami jogged over to them.

"What were you two talking about?" Izuku asked when they neared.

"Secret☆," Yuuga placed a finger against his lips and said with a mysterious smile.

"Secret... huh?" Hitoshi wiggled his eyebrows as if hinting at something. As for what that something was, Izuku had no idea. His friends were always talking about stuff he didn't understand. Sometimes he did feel a little excluded, like they were all in onto a secret except him, but on the other hand, he was also keeping a secret from them, a BIG secret, in fact. So they were even, he guessed.

Many people were already there by the time they arrived. The crowd murmuring excitedly below the stage thronged the area. There were security personnel directing traffic, waving their wands around and guiding people off the road and towards the side of the stage.

Izuku's group was led to the left side of the stage. In front of them was a thick wall of people. Even Hitoshi, the tallest amongst their little group, aside from Water Girl, couldn't see past the swarm even as he tiptoed and jumped.

"It's hot☆," Yuuga declared with a strained smile.

"Must be the passion." Izuku grinned as he wiped a drop of sweat off of his forehead. "Everyone's heated excitement is leaking out and affecting the others. It's contagious! I can literally feel it drifting all around me!"

Yuuga watched as Izuku swung his arm around feeling the air as he said, "I think I'm infected as well."

"Right?"

"But still, it's hot☆. I really want some ice cream. Do you have some in your magic backpack?"

"I do, but why don't you try the ones from that ice cream truck over there? They have all kinds of flavors!"

Yuuga squinted at the direction Izuku was pointing. "I don't see anything."

Izuku glanced at his All Might watch. "We have a few minutes before the show starts. We can make it." He grabbed Yuuga's hand and was about to lead him away from the crowd when more people sandwiched them from behind, pushing and shoving, hoping to get as close to the stage as possible. In the midst of the disturbance, Izuku lost his grip on Yuuga's hand and was knocked around by the spectators. He lost track of his team and could only scream out a "I'll be back soon" before he tumbled out from the back of the crowd.

As he made his way towards the ice cream truck, Izuku took out the phone he won earlier and cast an observe on the object.

[Observe] +1

Name:  Sharp L2 Android
Owner: Midoriya Izuku
Durability: 20/20
Worth (can be sold to the Bazaar): 100,000 yen
Description: The newest release of the Sharp android series. It's fully functional underwater up to 500m and its shock resistance is 20 meters!

To be quite honest, Izuku had half a mind to sell it to the bazaar and use the money to play that game and earn more phones. That was a multi-million business idea right there.

Before he could dwell on that fantasy, another alert popped up.

"An integratable object has been detected. Would you like to integrate this?"

[YES]
[NO]

"GOLA?" Izuku called in his mind. "What does it mean by integrate?"

GOLA's voice responded in his head immediately. "Some technologies can be integrated into the Game of Life system. If you integrated this phone, you'd be able to access all functions by using Game of Life."

"Does that mean I can make phone calls and watch movies and play games using Digitalization? I mean, like having an invisible screen in front of me showcasing my phone screen!?"

"That's correct."

That would certainly bring endless possibilities. For example, if he were kidnapped by villains and got his phone taken away, he could just use Digitalization to call for help without the villains' noticing.

Izuku had to put his conversation with GOLA on hold when he arrived at the ice cream truck. The huge menu poster decorating the truck had more than forty ice cream flavors. He couldn't even read all of their names in five minutes, let alone trying all of their flavors, which was why Izuku had made it a personal goal to taste-test all forty ice cream flavors. He even had an ongoing quest for this with an unlimited time limit.

So far, he had only gone through eight.

Browsing through the choices, Izuku got himself a squid ink ice cream and Yuuga a blue cheese caramel swirl. He wasn't sure what a cheese-flavored ice cream cone would taste like, but he was sure that Yuuga would want to find out himself.

"And that's all, thanks." Izuku passed the correct amount of coins to the old man working inside.

He almost dropped the coins when the next alert popped up.

"Your luck has changed to 3 due to a decision you've just made."

Excuse me, what?

"Do you want to buy it or not?" The old man groused, eyeing the coins Izuku was still holding onto.

"Ah! Ah yes, I'm sorry." Izuku quickly passed the coins to the old man and moved out of the way.

"What's going on!?" He thought to GOLA as soon as he was out of sight.

"Your Luck can change based on the different decisions you—"

"I know that! But— I mean, what— I don't understand! Why is it going down!? I only bought some ice cream!? Why is that affecting my luck!?"

"Master…" Izuku could almost see GOLA shaking its circular head right now. "C'est la vie. You never know what will happen. Tiny changes can make big differences. Have you heard of The Butterfly Effect?"

"No, what's that?"

"In simpler terms, it basically means a simple movement like a butterfly flapping its wings can give rise to a tornado somewhere else. You never know how killing an ant when you're five might lead to someone holding a grudge and trying to murder you thirty years later."

"That makes no sense at all!"

"I agree, master. Nothing ever makes sense. Just like how you haven't heard the old man calling you for the past few minutes is beyond me."

Izuku turned around. Indeed, the old man was holding both of his ice cream cones with a murderous look on his face.

Izuku gulped.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner!?" Izuku thought as he scuttled over to the truck, almost tripping over his feet in his haste.

The old man didn't say anything, merely glaring at him as the ice cream dripped onto his gloved hands.

"I'm so, so sorry." Izuku apologized, bowing frantically as he accepted his ice cream cones.

"Your luck has changed to 2 due to a decision you've just made."

"GOLA!" Panic-stricken, Izuku shouted out the name as the ice cream cones slipped from his grasp. He completely ignored the baffled look on the old man's face as he begged, "Please tell me what's going on!"

"Master, I told you, it's just—"

"Please." Izuku was suddenly all the more aware of the sweat clinging to his skin, the throbbing in his eyes, and the thumping of his heart against his chest. His breathing quickened to an unnatural pace and Izuku knew he was about to have a panic attack. He curled his hands into fists, nails digging painfully into his palms as he gritted out, "I don't want to die."

"Death is a part of life, master. You can't escape death."

"I don't want to hear that right now!"

Followed by his cry was a loud explosion that turned all the heads in the proximity towards the Ferris Wheel. Silence swept over the area as the ferocious attraction dislodged from its stand and crashed onto the ground. Fire skirted it, causing mechanisms to explode and setting gondolas aflame. Some of the passengers who were caught on fire jumped out of the window in panic, while others plummeted into the ground as their gondolas fell from their support, landing in the carnival game area down below and spreading fire throughout the booths.

The silence lasted for a minute until everyone came to their senses and began screaming and scampering around like headless chickens. It was like the Quirky Lake incident all over again. People screamed, cursed, stumbled into each other. Some took out their phone and started videotaping the incident. A couple children stood alone in the middle of the street, crying, as people navigated around them. No one stopped to help them and lead them to the safe zone. Food and drinks were spilled, causing the unfortunate ones to slip and fall against one another like dominos.

The Ferris Wheel was directly in line with Izuku and the ice cream truck. Due to the slight slope on the road, it began rolling down towards them.

Izuku couldn't even hear his own rapid breathing above all the screaming. All he could focus on was the 300 feet tall monstrosity that was speeding towards where he was standing. His mind was filled with only one objective: to stay alive.

He couldn't die. Not just yet. Not after everything that had happened.

Izuku was so close to getting a quirk and becoming a hero.

He couldn't die.

He was Gentle's first fan and he needed to keep up the promise.

He couldn't die.

His mom needed him.

He couldn't die!

"You can always use the four-leaf clover you friend gave you." GOLA's voice reminded him in his mind.

Right, he still had the four-leaf clover Namamono gave him that could provide a Luck +4 boost!

Izuku hesitated, then took a trembling step back. "No, I won't use it. Because I'm not going to die."

Legs still shaking, Izuku took another step, then another, and then he was full on sprinting away from the Ferris Wheel.

He had never ran so fast in his life, not away from Kacchan, not from anybody.

Izuku dared a glance back.

The Ferris Wheel rolled past where he stood earlier and crashed into the construction zone.

He did it!

He was safe!

"Your luck has changed to 1 due to a decision you've just made."

"Move out of my fucking way!"

That was the only warning Izuku received before something rammed into him from behind. He heard an audible crack as his entire world twisted and turned and swirled. He felt weightless, like he was flying in the air. All the bones in his body seemed to have shattered into thousands of splinters. The excruciating pain numbed his senses, making it hard to wrap his mind around what had just happened.

And then he caught a flash of the colorful ice cream menu before he slammed into the hard, concrete ground, his head cracking and his brain matter splattering everywhere.

Crunch.

"I-IZUKU!"

Chapter Text

Water Girl had been a hero for over seven years. She may not be one of those high tier heroes, but she still knew her jobs very well and had enough experience to react in the nick of time during critical situations. So when the first explosion hit the Ferris Wheel, while the rest of the crowd was stunned, she immediately located the kids, grabbed them, and ushered them off to the side of the street to avoid being trampled by the panicking crowd.

"Is everyone ok—" Her throat clenched shut when she looked over them.

Yellow, purple…

Where's green and red!?

"Have you two seen Izuku-kun and Manami-chan!?"

Yuuga raised his hand hesitantly, like he was in class and he was unsure of his answer to a question. "Izuku went to buy some ice cream—"

The ground rumbled as the Ferris Wheel dislodged from its stand and rolled down the street...

"—and Manami chased after him..."

Heading straight for the ice cream truck at the other end of the street, the one that had always been there since Water Girl was a little girl.

The entire world seemed to have silenced itself as the wheel wriggled down the street like a predator destroying everything that stood in its way.

Water Girl swallowed thickly as she stumbled after the wheel.

Please let me make it in time!


Izuku's mind was completely blank as he hit the ground. Everything happened so fast, not giving him any time to react and prepare himself.

"[The Protagonist] title has been unlocked. More information can be found on the Titles/Achievements page."
"[Les Misérables] title has been unlocked. More information can be found on the Titles/Achievements page."

When he came to, he was staring at his own mangled corpse as a distraught Manami vomited nearby upon seeing it.

"Manami-chan…" Izuku murmured as he reached out towards her reflexively.

She didn't react.

Izuku looked down at his hand.

It was transparent. He could even see the ground through his hand.

He then looked at the rest of his body.

It was the same, transparent and weightless, his feet floating off of the ground.

GAME OVER!

The world around him exploded into thousands of broken shards that sprinkled down on him like a shower of sparkles, revealing the complete darkness that shrouded him. Words blasted in a splash of blood in the space before him.

It wasn't until now that reality finally sank in.

Ah… Izuku realized. I'm dead.

"You have chosen the path: "HERO". Here are your ratings according to this path.

Emotional support for:
Tobita: +100 points
Manami: +100 points
Hitoshi: +100 points
Defeating All For One: +10,000 points
People you've helped: +1,000 points
Precious people lost: -10,000 points (1 person)
Total: 1,400 points

With every rating, his surroundings shifted into the corresponding memory, playing until his accomplishment and then cutting to the next one. When the precious people rating came up, the scenery shifted into a collapsed house with a green, slime-like monster and the familiar suited figure of All For One leaving its remains. Through a crack in the debris, Izuku could see the crushed head of Shimura-sensei. Her eyeballs had fallen out of their sockets with only a string of nerves connecting them. Her jaw was completely detached from her face, leaving the entire upper row of her teeth visible.

Stomach churning with the urge to vomit, Izuku bent over and hacked, but he couldn't get anything out.

Fear, disgust, and remorse hit him all at once. His eyes stung, but the familiar, hot tears refused to spill. Izuku clawed at his eyes but his hands only passed through the mist that made up his body. He screamed, screamed, and screamed until his throat was so raw all that came out was a weak cry.

He had failed. Utterly and undeniably. His teacher was murdered by All For One and he didn't even know. He even hesitated when he received the quest to kill All For One, a chance to avenge for her.

He could have done better. He should have done better.

He should have realized that something was amiss when Genji-sensei hesitated before he spoke about Shimura-sensei's quitting the job. He should have… done something.

"GOLA…" Izuku croaked out.

"I'm here," responded the circular metallic cyclops as it popped into existence.

Izuku had never found its monotonous voice so comforting before.

"If I was to choose a save file before Shimura-sensei's death to go back to, would I still be able to access all my future save files if I die again?"

"No. Once you select a save file before you current time slot, all save files made after that will be deleted."

Izuku murmured, "Oh."

A few seconds of silence later, GOLA sighed. "I wouldn't recommend going back to fix her death. Because one, you haven't reached level ten at the time so you don't have a quirk. And two, you have seen what All For One was capable of. He needed All Might to defeat. Do you really think you're able to save Shimura-sensei when the criminal mastermind himself was targeting her?"

Izuku shrugged. He knew the answer, but he just didn't want to admit.

"Master, you can't save everyone. That's what heroes are for. There's not one hero saving everyone, but multiple heroes because one person can't save everyone. Sometimes, you just have to let it go."

"B-But... "

"Master… If you had the capability and opportunity to save her, I would have definitely encouraged you to go back and do so. But you do not. The best course of action right now is to use this failure as fuels for you to do better next time."

In other words, he was too weak.

If only he had a quirk…

Izuku jerked up and slapped his forehead, his hand passing through.

He was so stupid.

He should have chosen Teleportation.

That way, he could have avoided the truck and—

Izuku shuddered as the feeling of his spine breaking, his head cracking, and a two ton truck running over and crushing his body returned to him. Izuku knew it was just a phantom pain, but it felt so real. He could accurately recall the way his flesh and bones melted against the ground after his entire body was almost flattened by the truck.

"You're right, GOLA. I'll do better next time," Izuku said in a determined voice. "I won't let my precious people die again if I can help it. I won't die again either. I'll have a quirk. I won't die."

A sentence appeared word by word at the bottom of his ratings.

Would you like to exchange 1,000 points for a chance to spin the Wheel of Fate?

"...Sure?"

The screen with the ratings shifted to the side as a Wheel of Fate took over. The choices on it were so small there was at least a thousand on there, with most of them being a red slot with the words "TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME."

Before Izuku even had to ask, GOLA explained, "Spin the Wheel of Fate for a chance to win anything in the bazaar. The more an object costs, the lower the probability."

Izuku wasn't hoping for anything in particular when he spun the wheel. He just wanted to hurry up and leave this space. It was too quiet and cold and empty it made him feel uncomfortable.

It didn't surprise him when the pin stopped at a red slot, considering the red slots took up more than half of the entire wheel.

The Wheel vanished as another screen took over.

Titles/Achievements:

The Lover
-Activation Requirements: charm someone
-Quirk: Charm: Anyone who sees your face will fall in love with you and do anything you want. Won't affect those already in love with you.

The Protagonist
-Activation Requirements: die once
-Quirk: Regeneration: All injuries heal instantly, in other words, you're immortal and won't ever die or be able to go back to another save point and choose another title

Les Misérables
-Activation Requirements: reach Luck 1
-Quirk: Misfortune: Curse anyone with misfortune. Last 24 hours. One person at a time. Can't take back the curse once you've cast it.

Next to each title was a selection choice. Izuku supposed this was where he could choose a title and its accompanying quirk before he choose a save file to go back to.

"The Lover" was definitely out of the questions. Making people fall in love with him wouldn't help him in this situation. "The Protagonist" also wasn't a valid option. Being immortal may help him survive the ice cream truck accident, but that also meant he would never die. And if he never die, then he couldn't go back and fix his mistakes. And that was a huge no-no. "Les Misérables," whatever that meant, wouldn't work either. He was already unfortunate; making others unlucky wasn't going to make him lucky.

Maybe he'd choose a title in the future when he had more to choose from, but for now, Izuku was skipping this page.

The next screen showed the list of Save Files that had been created or auto-generated after quests and achievements. The newest one was created automatically right after he completed the "Failure to Stop" quest where he got his phone.

Selecting the most recent Save File, Izuku faced an alert.

Are you sure you want to choose the selected Save File? (Note: All items and save files gained after this save file will be deleted.)
[YES] [NO]

Izuku chose "YES."

The screen vanished along with GOLA. The darkness that surrounded him started having smatters of colors sprinkled here and there. The colors danced around him, connecting and mixing with each other until they gradually began to form the view of the carnival game booths and the giant Ferris Wheel nearby. Sound of people chattering, birds screeching, wind breezing by, and roller coaster thundering across the tracks began to fill in the background, making the world more real.

When the painting process was complete, a Quest Alert popped up.

Quest Alert!
[Main Quest: Survive AMAP]

Description: Stay alive for two hours starting now.
Time Limit: 1:59:59
Reward: 20,000 EXP, 1 attribute points
Failure: Try again during your next revive.

[ACCEPT]  [DECLINE]

Izuku accepted the quest and pulled up the quirk selection screen, choosing Teleportation.

"—uku? Izuku!"

"Huh! Wha— what!? Who's talking!?" Izuku jumped, quickly turning to the source of the voice.

"Me, of course. Who do you think?" Hitoshi grumbled, crossing his arms and nudging his lips at something to his right. "You might want to take that before he change his mind."

To his right was the owner of the shooting booth holding Izuku's prized phone with a strained smile. It was the type of smile Kacchan loved to wear before he punched Izuku in the face.

It reminded Izuku strongly of the face the ice cream vendor had before he ran him over with the truck.

He quickly took the phone and apologized.

"You okay?" Hitoshi asked him in concern as they made their way over to the others in the next booth.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Don't worry." Izuku flashed a smile hoping to reassure him. "Just remembered something I forgot to do."

"Well, whatever that is can wait. We're at AMAP now so let's enjoy it while we can."

"Yeah..." Izuku whispered. "While we can..."

Izuku tried acting normal as they met up with Water Girl, Yuuga, and Manami. He forced a smile onto his face as he listened to his friends chatter on their way towards the stage for the stunt show. He wanted to believe that everything was going to be fine, after all, he had a quirk now. He wouldn't die like last time. He shouldn't worry about it.

But even so, his smile was slipping as anxiety wrecked his mind. Fear engulfed his conscience, knocking all other thoughts aside. What if he failed again? What if he died? What if...? What if?

Just like last time, his group was led to the left side of the stage by the security personnel. In front of them was a thick wall of people, even Hitoshi, who tiptoed and jumped, couldn't see past it.

"It's hot☆," Yuuga said.

Izuku merely nodded.

"Yeah."

He had too many things on his mind to engage in a conversation right now.

When more people sandwiched them from behind, Izuku managed to stay in the crowd in midst of all the pushing and shoving. He ended up right next to Hitoshi who grabbed onto Izuku when he saw him struggling.

"The show's starting!" Hitoshi nudged him when an actor jumped onto the stage.

Even though Izuku had been waiting for this show for ages, the fear of death lurked in the back of his mind as All Might fought villains after villains in order to protect Princess Bubblegum. Izuku just couldn't bring himself to focus on the show and enjoy it. Last time he could feel the heated passion drifting amongst the crowd before the show even began. This time, all he felt was a disconnection from the rest of the crowd, like he was in his own little world and no matter how bright All Might's grin was, the brilliance wouldn't reach him.

Despite being prepared for it, Izuku still jumped when the first explosion hit the Ferris Wheel. All Might had stopped in the middle of his fight against the blond villain in surprise, but the villain didn't. He continued attacking All Might as if he was so engaged in the show he didn't even notice the explosions.

The crowd was silent for a second before panic broke out. Water Girl reacted immediately, gathering everyone together and making sure they were okay. It was only then when they realized—

"Where's Yuuga-kun!?"

Gathering on the side of the road to avoid being trampled were only Izuku, Hitoshi, Manami, and Water Girl. Yuuga was nowhere to be seen.

"He said he's going to buy some ice cream..." Manami murmured, trailing off as Izuku's face paled.

"Why didn't he ask me!?" Izuku cried, horrified.

"He said you looked like something's bothering you, and he didn't want to interrupt your thought process…"

"That's—"

Just then, the ground shook as if an earthquake had hit. Everyone watched in terror as the Ferris Wheel dislodged from its stand and rolled down the road.

No…

It rolled past them.

No no no…

Heading straight for the ice cream truck…

"No!" With a cry, Izuku darted towards the street, ignoring Water Girl's frantic yell as he activated his quirk.

"Your luck has changed to 3 due to a decision you've just made."

In the blink of an eye, his surroundings shifted and Izuku dropped onto the middle of the street. He stumbled a few steps then continued running.

The Ferris Wheel had already hit the construction zone. The walls were destroyed and multiple buildings collapsed.

His heart was beating so fast he could practically hear it echoing above all the chaos. Running towards the path he had gone last time, Izuku felt his heart skip a beat when he saw the dreaded scene.

Yuuga was running away as the ice cream truck charged straight towards him.

"Yuuga!"

Izuku activated Teleportation again, appearing right by his friend and grabbing onto him.

"Your luck has changed to 2 due to a decision you've just made."

"Move out of my fucking way!"

Izuku activated Teleportation again while maintaining a firm grasp on his petrified friend. But…

"Your luck has changed to 1 due to a decision you've just made."

The surroundings didn't change.

"Why—"

Crunch.


"Ahhhhh!"

Phantom pain flared up from his abdomen where the truck had run over. Izuku keeled over and wrapped his arms around his midsection, squeezing his eyes shut and gritting his teeth as he waited for the pain to pass. A second later, his body relaxed and he finally remembered to breath again.

Izuku waved an arm through his body.

Yup, definitely dead.

A feeling of bile rose to his throat as he looked around at the crime scene.

His body had been severed in half from his waist after the truck had run over it. His inner organs had fallen out, making a tangled, bloody mess all over the gray concrete.

Yuuga was lying not so far away in a similar state.

Izuku had failed yet again to save someone precious to him.

GAME OVER!

Just like last time, the world around him exploded into thousands of broken shards that sprinkled down on him like a shower of sparkles. Words blasted in a splash of blood in the darkness surrounding him.

"You have chosen the path: "HERO". Here are your ratings according to this path.

Emotional support for:
Tobita: +100 points
Manami: +100 points
Hitoshi: +100 points
Defeating All For One: +10,000 points
People you've helped: +1,000 points
Precious people lost: -20,000 points (2 people)
Total: -8700 points

Izuku wanted to cry.

He tried to fix things, but all he did was make things worse.

Why did this happen?

What had he done wrong?

Izuku clicked through the screen, skipping the Titles/Achievements page and selecting the most recent save file. But when the alert popped up, he hesitated.

Are you sure you want to choose the selected Save File? (Note: All items and save files gained after this save file will be deleted.)
[YES] [NO]

His finger hovered above the "YES" option as uncertainty clouded his mind.

What if he failed again? What if he continued to make things worse?

Who would die this time? Hitoshi? Manami? The Water Girl?

Izuku didn't want to die again. He was terrified of the pain. The feeling of his head cracking and cold air seeping into his brain, the pain of being crushed into a pile of mangled flesh, the horror of seeing his severed lower body next to him as he died…

No, Izuku refused to go through that again.

So he chose "YES".

Immediately after the world had been reimaged, Izuku accepted the survival quest and selected the quirk, "Bubble."

Bubble: Encase yourself in a protective bubble that shields you from all corporeal and abstract outside forces. Anyone in touch with you will also be enveloped in the bubble.

This way, he could protect his friends from all outside forces. No one would die again.

Izuku finally let out a relaxed smile.

This could work.

"—uku? Izuku!"

"Yes!?" Izuku jumped, quickly turning to the source of the voice.

"You might want to take that before he change his mind," Hitoshi grumbled and nudged his lips at something to his right.

Just like last time, the owner of the shooting booth was holding Izuku's prized phone with a strained smile. The type of smile Kacchan loved to wear before he punched Izuku in the face.

Izuku quickly accepted his phone with a meek smile.

Some things never changed.

When they reached the thick wall of people, Yuuga said, "It's hot."

"I know right?"

"I really want some ice cream. Do you have some in your magic backpack?"

"Of course!" Izuku responded with more enthusiasm than necessary. He swung his backpack off of one shoulder and unzipped it. "Which type do you like? I have green tea mochi, Pino, vanilla Coolish, sakura Häagen-Dazs, Gari Gari Kun, MOW, watermelon bar, coffee jelly, tofu swirl…"

"I'll take the Pino, merci." Yuuga took out 100 yen and gave it to Izuku.

"Nonono it's fine." Izuku pushed his hand back. "Today is a special day so you're getting it for free!"

"If you say so…"

Izuku felt his eyes water as he watched Yuuga peel open the box and place a piece of chocolate-covered ice cream into his mouth, humming happily. Just moments ago his friend was lying on the ground, bloodied and messed up, and now he was all alive and happy and enjoying his life.

Yuuga didn't deserve what happened to him, and Izuku would do his very best to prevent that from happening again.

"Yuuga, grab onto me, 'kay?"

Yuuga nodded, a bit confused, as he grabbed Izuku's hand.

The group from behind showed up exactly when Izuku expected it. But this time, he stayed close to Yuuga, their hands clasped together tightly. Immediately after they settled down, Izuku searched for his other teammates.

Hitoshi was to their left, a little to the side of the crowd.

Manami and Water Girl were in the front, slightly to the left.

No one was missing.

Izuku smiled softly.

No one was going to die.


"No! Give it back!" All Might cried as his quirk left his body and was captured in the capsule floating in the sky. Steam rose around him, obscuring him from the audience. When the smoke cleared, there was a skinny blond man kneeling on the ground with his hand outstretched towards the capsule that slowly flew into the villain's palm.

"You're not the hero you once were no more. Now, you're just a weak, powerless old man." The blond villain barked a laugh as he popped open the capsule and inhaled the ball of power. He closed his eyes, expression relaxed as he moaned. "So this is the power you've been hiding from me, my dear brother. No wonder you refused to tell me. If I had such amazing power," he slammed his fists together, the resistance from the air in between bringing a loud 'whoosh' sound, "I would also keep it all to myself."

"D-Don't…" All Might coughed, his skeleton-like body quivering with each cough as if they couldn't handle the strain. "You don't know what you're dealing with!"

"Oh really?" His brother barked out a laugh, spreading his arm and flaunting his muscles as if trying to show how rugged he was comparing to the current All Might. "I may be the younger brother but I'm not weak," he spat, a venomous look on his face. "If you can handle it, then I can handle it."

"No, you don't understand!" All Might pushed himself up, his arms quivering with effort. Without the quirk, he was so weak he could barely stand. "That quirk… It eats away your energy… Eventually, you'll—"

"Oh, shut your trap." The blond villain interrupted, turning his back to the brother who was desperate to save him from making the same mistake. "And watch me become a better hero than you'll ever be. Oh, and I'll be taking your hero name as well. 'All Might'... How fitting of my form." He cackled as he walked off of the other side of the stage.

The lights dimmed until All Might was the only one in the spotlight. Energy left his legs and he collapsed onto the ground, suddenly looking so small and fragile as if a mere push could hospitalize him.

"I… I have to stop him… Before the power kills him…" All Might murmured as the spotlight casting over him shrunk until all that left was complete darkness on the stage, giving the stage crew the chance to change settings.


To be quite honest, Izuku was a bit surprised with how the show turned out. Every year the script changed, but even so, the formula always remained the same. All Might met a girl he liked, the villain captured the girl, All Might defeated the villain, and lived with the girl happily ever after. Like everyone else, Izuku enjoyed watching All Might beat up villains and win in the end. But after seeing similar plots year after year, he began to lose interest in the show.

This year's plot, however, surprised him. Of course, All Might still had to save a girl, who was, as always, acted out by Princess Bubblegum. But this time, the villain was his brother and the main focus was on All Might's quirk.

Two brothers grew up quirkless and one of them received a mysterious quirk that granted him overwhelming strength, immense speed, extreme durability, and boundless stamina at the cost of his own spirit. He became the number one hero in society, earned fame, wealth, love, while his younger brother was left in the background with nothing. Jealous, the younger brother teamed up with all the villains who bore hatred of the hero and kidnapped Princess Bubblegum in an attempt to lure out All Might and steal his quirk.

Nobody probably ever considered stripping All Might of his quirk and see where the story would go from there, since people came here to watch All Might, not some skinny old actor wearing a wig to make him look like All Might. But this year someone tried it, and the result was spectacular.

As darkness enveloped the stage where faint silhouettes were shuffling around, Izuku was then reminded that he wasn't here to just enjoy the show, but to also protect his friends' lives.

He quickly looked to the side, breathing out a sigh of relief when he saw Yuuga right next to him chewing away a dollop of Pino. He then looked ahead and saw Water Girl giving Manami a bottle of water. Good, they were safe, too. He then looked to the left, and his heart leapt to his throat.

Hitoshi was missing.

Chapter Text

"Toshi…" Izuku whispered in horror, whipping around and grabbing Yuuga by the shoulders tightly, startling him into dropping the Pino. "Yuuga, have you seen Toshi!?"

"Isn't he over there—" Yuuga paused when he saw the place where Hitoshi occupied was now empty. "Ah, where did he go?"

Nonono… This can't be…

"I'm going to look for him, you stay here!" Izuku added for emphasis. "And please don't go anywhere!"

Pushing his way through the throng, Izuku unclipped his YHP badge from his shirt and turned the dial so it connected to Hitoshi's badge.

"Hello, hello!? Toshi, can you hear me!?" He yelled when he heard static from the other side. The hissing noise started to clear out as children's laughter and balloons' popping noise rose above it.

"Izuku?"

"Toshi! Where are you!?"

"I'm… at the carnival area. Listen—"

"No, get out of there! Quick!" Izuku shouted as he stumbled out of the crowd. The people he had shoved past were throwing nasty glances at him. If this was any other day he would have bowed and apologized for being so disrespectful, but this wasn't the case today.

Izuku glanced at his watch.

They have about five minutes before the first explosion hit.

Images of his past deaths flashed before his eyes, his body shuddering as it remembered the pain it had gone through. Izuku clenched his stomach as he ran towards the carnival area, gritting his teeth and eyes more determined than ever.

He would not let another one of his friends die.

[Sprint lv 7] is activated. Remaining seconds 5…4…3…”
[Sprint] +1

His body suddenly felt ten times lighter and the pressure on his lungs lifted, allowing him to breath evenly and dash across the street at a faster pace. Footsteps pounding on the ground with a rhythmic beat, Izuku rounded the bent in the path and ran even faster when he saw the colorful booths ahead of him.

Five seconds passed and the familiar pull of gravity returned to his body. Izuku continued sprinting.

[Sprint lv 7] is activated. Remaining seconds 5…4…3…”
[Sprint] +1

His surroundings blurred as he darted his eyes across the area frantically, searching for that familiar mop of wild purple hair.

[Search] +1
[Search] +1
[Search] +1

Purple skirt, purple backpack, purple fur, purple balloon, purple hair… There!

"Toshi!"

Hitoshi swirled around at the sound of his name. He was crouched behind the Edgeshot booth, hiding in the shadow of an artificial rainbow-colored willow tree.

"Oh, hey, Izuku…"

"What were you thinking!?" Izuku clenched his shirt and got into his face, dilated green eyes meeting confused purple ones. "Why did you leave by yourself!? Do you know how worried I was when I saw that you were gone!?"

"Sorry…" Hitoshi scratched his hair, eyes downcast as he gestured at something he was holding onto. "I saw this wandering around and I just couldn't help but follow it…"

A cat was curling against his chest, nesting in his hold and meowing softly.

"A cat…?"

"Yeah… You know I like cats. I just can't help it whenever I see one. There's like this magical power pulling me towards it and a voice telling me to 'Go, go get 'em!'"

Izuku loosened his hold on Hitoshi's collar and took a trembling step back, wiping a hand across his face. "I can't believe you…"

"I'm sorry… I should have told you but I saw that you were really enjoying the show and I didn't want to interrupt you. I mean, I know how much you like All Might…"

"No, no it's fine. At least you're safe." Izuku let out a wary grin. "Let's just get you out of—"

His words were caught in his throat as a deafening blast of explosion threw him off guard.

It's happening…

The motor in the Ferris Wheel exploded as fire skirted around it, lighting up the gondolas and the passengers within.

"Oh my god…" Hitoshi tightened his hold on the cat, fear etched into his face as he stumbled back.

All at once, people began screaming and running away from the carnival zone.

It's happening...

"Run!"

Izuku didn't know whether Hitoshi pulled him first or it was the other way around, but both of them scrambled away from the willow tree, clumsy hands grabbing ahold of each other's arm in an attempt to feel safe.

“Your luck has changed to 3 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

A lit up gondola fell from the Ferris Wheel and crashed into a booth behind them. The unfortunate ones who were nearby were instantly squashed into a bloody, meaty pulp. The others who had dodged the gondola couldn't escape quick enough before they caught on fire and became a human torch. Their screams were nothing Izuku had ever heard of, agonizing and shrill to a point of almost impossibility.

People began to fall off of their gondolas, raining down the sky like a hail of human beings. One of them managed to shroud herself in an iceberg before hitting the ground, her shield of ice shattering upon impact but it managed to protect her from the plummet.

"Izuku, what's going on!?" Hitoshi exclaimed as he ran as fast as he could, one hand grabbing Izuku's sleeves and the other barely holding onto the cat.

"I don't know but I think you should drop the cat!"

"I can't do that!"

"It's slowing you down! Do you want to die!?"

"Of course not! But saving a cat isn't going to kill me!"

Izuku pulled his hair, hard.

"No, you don't understand! You— I mean, you all are going to die today! I don't know why but something's causing you guys to die! If there's a way to increase our chance of survival then we need to take it!"

"What are you even talking about!?" Hitoshi cried. "Izuku, you're not like yourself today!"

He was right. Normally, Izuku would never tell someone to drop a cat in the middle of a scurrying crowd where it could get trampled or killed by the fire. But today, he had had enough of himself dying and seeing his friends die and people dying in general he just wanted to live for once. If sacrificing a cat meant he and Hitoshi could survive, then so be it.

"In the end, it all comes down to whether you believe their death would be beneficial or meaningless."

The cat wasn't a villain, but the same concept still applied. In this case, its death would definitely be beneficial to Izuku and Hitoshi.

With the additional weight of the cat, Hitoshi was slowing down and since he was grabbing onto Izuku, Izuku was slowing down as well. Seeing people after people rush past them, and even a kid near their age had managed to outrun them, Izuku was at his limit.

He grabbed the cat by its neck and tossed it onto the ground, ignoring its shrieks as he pulled a stunned Hitoshi out of his oblivion.

"What the hell was that, Midoriya!?" Hitoshi yelled, his face reddening with anger. He shoved Izuku roughly, almost sending him staggering to the ground. "What's wrong with you!? It could have died! Do you know how painful that would have been!?"

"I know! Okay!?" Izuku slapped his hands away when Hitoshi moved to shove him again. "I know it hurts to die! I freaking know that! That's why I don't want us to die! Why don't you understand!?"

"Why don't I understand!? No! Why don't you understand!? I thought you're better than this! What the hell happened to you!? Why're you so cruel and inhumane!?"

Those purple eyes were filled with anger, fear, and disgust, like its owner was staring at something revolting, something that would ruin their appetite with just one glance. His gaze was sharp, intense, and penetrating, shooting daggers through Izuku and hurting him from the inside.

Izuku never knew words could hurt this much.

Before he could retort, a loud crash came from the side when a gondola tumbled down the street and smashed into a vending machine right next to them, causing it to fall forward onto the duo.

Acting purely on instincts, Izuku pushed Hitoshi down and activated Bubble. A pink sphere formed around them, protecting them from the heavy machine.

“Your luck has changed to 2 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

Crouched above Hitoshi with his hands on either side of his head, Izuku gritted his teeth when the weight of the machine became too much to handle. The strain from the bubble had a direct connection to his body, his head throbbing in pain and his back aching the more pressure the bubble received. The bubble began to bend out of shape as an immense force pushed down on Izuku's back, immobilizing him.

Hitoshi was so shocked he just lay there with his mouth agape and eyes widened.

Izuku smiled tiredly.

Cruel, inhumane… It doesn't matter what you call me. I'm still going to save you.

The bubble finally cracked under pressure.

"Run!"

“Your luck has changed to 1 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

Hitoshi scrambled out of the bubble just in time before it shattered into tiny fragments. Without the support, the vending machine slammed onto Izuku, crushing his small body against the sandy ground.

Izuku felt the familiar sensation of his skull cracking and air seeping through his brain. And he smiled.

At least I managed to save my friend this time around.

"[The Lifesaver] title has been unlocked. More information can be found on the Titles/Achievements page."


GAME OVER!

"You have chosen the path: "HERO". Here are your ratings according to this path.

Emotional support for:
Tobita: +100 points
Manami: +100 points
Hitoshi: +100 points
Defeating All For One: +10,000 points
People you've helped: +1,000 points
Precious people saved: +10,000 points (1 person)
Precious people lost: -10,000 points (1 person)
Total: 11,400 points

Would you like to exchange 11,000 points for 11 chances to spin the Wheel of Fate?

"YES"

While the wheel spun, Izuku cupped his cheeks, frowning, as he pulled his legs up into a sitting position, his ghost-like body swaying slightly in the air.

Compared to his last revive, he definitely did better this time. None of his friends died, and he wasn't killed by the ice cream truck. But now a new problem had arisen. How to stop Hitoshi from running off and getting himself in harm's way?

And what to do after he figured out how to save Hitoshi without dying? This time he saved Yuuga, and Hitoshi almost died. So what if he saved Hitoshi and someone else died? Like Manami? Or Water Girl? How would he know? Was there any way to predict who would die next?

"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"Congratulation, you have received [Dragon Ball] x1! Collect seven to make a wish!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"Congratulation, you have received [A Pile of Poop]! Whose poop is it? That remains a mystery!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME!"
"Congratulation, you have received [Pokemon: Caterpie Egg] +1! Walk 4111 steps to hatch it and feed it candies for it to evolve! At Level 4 it will turn into [Metapod] and [Butterfree] at Level 10!"

Butterfree? Butterfly?

Something clicked in his mind and he remembered what GOLA had said before he died the first time.

"C'est la vie. You never know what will happen. Tiny changes can make big differences. Have you heard of The Butterfly Effect?"

"No, what's that?"

"In simpler terms, it basically means a simple movement like a butterfly flapping its wings can give rise to a tornado somewhere else. You never know how killing an ant when you're five might lead to someone holding a grudge and trying to murder you thirty years later."

"That makes no sense at all!"

"Tiny changes... can make big differences..." Izuku murmured. He felt like he was catching onto something. "Tiny... changes..." He jumped up, slapping a fist through his other hand. "It's the changes I make! I just need to stop making changes!"

It's so easy! Why haven't I thought of it earlier?

Yuuga went to buy ice cream himself instead of asking Izuku, like he did the first time, because Izuku looked like something was bothering him and Yuuga didn't want to interrupt his thought process.

The next time around, Hitoshi was left alone because Izuku decided to stick together with Yuuga, leaving him near the side of the crowd where he was lured away by the cat.

All he needed to do was to stop making changes and stick as close to the original timeline as possible. That way, he would know what would happen, and there wouldn't be any big differences.

It would work!

Save Files gave him knowledge of the future. What an idiot he was to not use that to his advantage?

Revitalized with hope, Izuku tapped the "Collect All" option with more force than necessary, his finger slipping through the screen easily. In a flash, the screen changed to his inventory and the three items he won had now been stored in it. The Dragon Ball had an icon of an orange ball with a single red star. The Pile of Poop had the icon of a cartoonish pile of poop drawn on it. And the Pokemon: Caterpie Egg was a cream-white egg with pale-green spots.

Izuku tapped the Dragon Ball.

"An ultra-rare item that will cost an insane amount of REP points to buy! Currently locked in the bazaar because you have not reached the prerequisites. Collect seven of this and you can make a wish! Any wish, and it will come true!"

To say Izuku was excited would be a great understatement. No one could refuse the temptation of a wish come true. But like the description said, it would cost an insane amount of REP points to purchase it, not to mention he didn't even know the prerequisites to unlock it yet. Now wasn't the time to drool over the possibilities this could bring.

Seeing the Dragon Ball, though, gave him confidence. If he could win an ultra-rare item out of hundreds, thousands of items, that must meant he was pretty lucky, right?

He skipped the Pile of Poop and went straight to the Pokemon. What was he going to do with a pile of poop anyway?

"Pokemon, short for pocket monsters, are creatures that can become your pet, companion, and bodyguard. Hatch them, play with them, train them, and they'll evolve to become stronger so they can protect you. Caterpie will hatch once you've walked 4111 steps. It will evolve into Metapod at Level 4 and Butterfree at Level 10!"

Like many other boys his age, Izuku had played games where you had loyal animal companions, also known as "mounts," to fight for you. The idea of getting an actual mount in real life was both exciting and unnerving. For one, it was a caterpillar. Izuku had had pets before, like a rabbit and some fish, but never a bug. He was terrified of bugs. He couldn't even touch them, let alone keep them as pets. For two, how would a caterpillar fight? And lastly, what exactly were Pokemons?

"So are Pokemons regular animals or are they magical creatures?"

GOLA responded flatly, "They're Pokemons."

Silence.

"So they're magical creatures?"

"They're Pokemons."

Raising both his hands, Izuku surrendered, a grumpy look crossing his face as he groaned in annoyance.

"Fine, I knew you wouldn't give me a straight answer."

He would find out sooner or later.

That was, if he could survive today.

Closing out the Inventory screen, Izuku moved onto the Titles/Achievements screen.

The Lifesaver
-Activation Requirements: save someone's life
-Quirk: Final Destination: can see the death of anyone you touch with all five fingers.

More death.

Definitely not an option.

Izuku was sick of the word "death."

Are you sure you want to choose the selected Save File? (Note: All items and save files gained after this save file will be deleted.)

[YES] [NO]

Before making a choice, Izuku took advantage of the silent environment and focused on remembering everything that had happened during his first life.

“You have learned [Technique: Memorize Lv 1]!”
[Memorize] +1

"Oh, good for you. Must be nice to have a phone when most of your friends don't," Hitoshi said sourly.

[Memorize] +1

"Sorry for the wait." Izuku scratched his cheeks with a sheepish smile. "But I finally got what I wanted."

[Memorize] +1

"Secret," Yuuga placed a finger against his lips and said with a mysterious smile.

[Memorize] +1

"I do, but why don't you try the ones from that ice cream truck over there? They have all kinds of flavors!"

...

"Alright, let's do this."

Izuku tapped the save file automatically generated right after the Failure to Stop quest and took a deep breath as he waited for the world to finish reimaging. He clenched his fist and relaxed them repeatedly, feeling of death returning to his body and he couldn't stop thinking of the worst case scenario. This was the only method he could think of that might help him survive. If this didn't work, he really didn't know what else he could do.

He felt a pull in his feet, his vision blurring and in the next second, he was back in his original body, the steel grip of the gun clenched tightly in his clammy hands. He let out a sigh and his grip slackened as the crowd surrounding him erupted into cheers.

"Wow, you did it," Hitoshi observed, clapping along with everyone else. "But how much did you spend?"

The owner of the booth handed him the phone and Izuku accepted it immediately. Every second counted. Maybe even a slight hesitation could be considered as a "tiny change."

He turned around and presented it to Hitoshi, putting a bright smile onto his face. "The newest android phone currently on the market. The market price is 100,000 yen. And I got it for 20,000 yen."

"Oh, good for you. Must be nice to have a phone when most of your friends don't," Hitoshi said sourly.

"Hey I didn't mean to—"

"Relax, I'm just joking." Hitoshi bumped him on the shoulders, chuckling. "Come on, let's see how the others are faring."

Izuku accepted the survival quest and chose the third quirk, Metal Control, as they made their way towards the Edgeshot booth where Water Girl was watching a couple kids throw ninja stars at balloons while Yuuga and Manami were having what seemed to be a serious conversation beside her.

And this is when I said…

"Sorry for the wait." Izuku scratched his cheeks with a sheepish smile. "But I finally got what I wanted."

Water Girl turned towards Izuku and gasped at the phone he was holding. "You actually got it?" Her expression suddenly turned into that of a stern mother. "How much did you spend, though?"

"Not too much." Izuku quickly shook his head and waved his hands around. "Only about twenty-thousand yen. And considering this phone costs a hundred-thousand yen, it's a win for me."

Water Girl placed a hand on her forehead as she shook her head. "I'm not even going to ask where you got your twenty-thousand yen."

Izuku let out a shaky breath as Yuuga and Manami went to them.

So far, so good.

"What were you two talking about?" Izuku asked as he walked side by side with Yuuga and Hitoshi towards the stage.

"Secret☆," Yuuga placed a finger against his lips and said with a mysterious smile.

"Secret... huh?" Hitoshi wiggled his eyebrows as if hinting at something.

Everything had happened exactly the same way so far, and that was a very good sign. If Izuku could keep this up, he would be able to survive the ice cream truck attack and protect everyone.

"It's hot☆," Yuuga declared with a strained smile when they had gathered at the left side of the stage.

"Must be the passion." Izuku grinned as he wiped a drop of sweat off of his forehead. "Everyone's heated excitement is leaking out and affecting the others. It's contagious! I can literally feel it drifting all around me!"

He almost forgot to wave his arms around, feeling the air, but he managed to do so before Yuuga said, "I think I'm infected as well."

"Right?"

"But still, it's hot☆. I really want some ice cream. Do you have some in your magic backpack?"

Izuku tightened his jaw.

Here we go…

"I do, but why don't you try the ones from that ice cream truck over there? They have all kinds of flavors!"

Yuuga squinted at the direction Izuku was pointing. "I don't see anything."

Izuku glanced at his All Might watch. "We have a few minutes before the show starts. We can make it." He grabbed Yuuga's hand just in time for more people to sandwich them from behind. Amidst the shoving and pushing, Izuku let go of Yuuga's hand on purpose and pressed his body against the crowd, taking every available gaps in between the heated bodies to force his way through. When he finally stumbled out of the other side, he was so sweaty steam was practically rising from his head.

As he made his way towards the ice cream truck, he couldn't shake off the feeling that he had forgotten something. He thought back to his first life and everything he had done and said, and realized with a hitch of breath that he didn't yell out "I'll be back soon" to his friends before he leave the crowd.

A wave of coldness washed over his body.

Izuku shuddered and fastened his pace, suppressing the feeling to the best of his ability.

He was fine. It was only one line. He was already more than halfway there; he couldn't start doubting himself now. He just had to hold onto the hope that this "tiny change" wasn't enough to cause a big difference, and that things were still going as he predicted.

As the ice cream truck came into sight, Izuku slowed his pace so he had time to observe the phone.

[Observe] +1

Name:  Sharp L2 Android
Owner: Midoriya Izuku
Durability: 20/20
Worth (can be sold to the Bazaar): 100,000 yen
Description: The newest release of the Sharp android series. It's fully functional underwater up to 500m and its shock resistance is 20 meters!

After this should be…

"An integratable object has been detected. Would you like to integrate this?"

[YES]
[NO]

Izuku merely slid the screen to his side so as to not block his vision. He didn't make a choice the first time, so he couldn't make one now. It would have to wait.

Standing in front of the ice cream truck, Izuku roamed his eyes over the colorful menu while counting seconds in his head, replicating the time it took him to decide on a flavor.

As he made his orders, the old man inside the truck smiled sweetly at him. It disgusted Izuku how a smile so compassionate was merely a facade that hid a creature so merciless he was willing to run over a child just so he could get away from the Ferris Wheel.

But on a second thought... Wasn't Izuku just the same? He made Hitoshi drop the cat in the middle of a rushing crowd so both of them could live. He was willing to sacrifice a cat, while the old man was willing to sacrifice a child. A life was a life regardless of whoever it belonged to. He only felt like this because he was on the receiving end of the treatment. In the end, he wasn't all that different from the old man—

No.

Izuku cut off that train of thoughts sharply.

I'm not like him. I'm nothing like him. He ran over me to save himself. He's selfish, and I'm not. I did it to save both Toshi and me. It's different.

The twisted contortion of the old man's features before he ran over Izuku flashed across his mind.

I would never kill someone for my own sake.

The promise remained on his mind as he held out his hand with the change over to his murderer, pausing deliberately when the notification regarding his decrease in luck popped up and only handing it over when the old man groused, "Do you want to buy it or not?"

"Ah! Ah yes, I'm sorry." Quickly dropping the coins into his hand, Izuku moved over to the right side of the truck, sitting on a bench as he waited for his order to be ready.

"Hey kid!"

Out of the corners of his eyes, he could see the old man gesturing wildly while holding onto his ice cream, trying to get his attention. But Izuku ignored him.

He waited, and waited, and only when the ice cream had dripped onto the old man's gloved hands did he scuttle over and apologize frantically as he accepted his melted ice cream.

“Your luck has changed to 2 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

"GOLA!" Izuku yelled and dropped the ice cream on purpose. "Please tell me what's going on!"

"And… I suppose you'd want me to go along with this? Okay then: Master, I told you, it's just—"

"Please." Izuku clenched his hands into fists, digging his nails painfully into his palm. "I don't want to die."

"Death is a part of life, master. You can't escape death."

"I don't want to hear that right now!"

The explosions occurred right after he said this, just as Izuku had predicted. Silence swept over the area, lasting only for a minute before people started screaming and scampering around with no particular destination in mind.

"You can always use the four-leaf clover you friend gave you."

GOLA seemed to remember its lines very well.

Izuku took a trembling step back. "No, I won't use it. Because I'm not going to die."

He took another step, and another, and then he was full on sprinting away from the Ferris Wheel.

But this time, he ran towards the opposite direction.

Last time he picked the direction of the House of Doom, and ended up getting run over by the old man who happened to pick the same direction he did. So this time, he chose to run towards the stage directly across from the House of Doom, away from the old man, away from his death.

The Ferris Wheel had yet to hit the construction zone, which meant he still had about half a minute or so before the time of his death—

“Your luck has changed to 1 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

"Move out of my fucking way!"

No…

Izuku glanced back.

The lethal ice cream truck was charging straight towards him.

Nonononono this can't be happening!

Izuku swerved sharply to the right, and the truck also veered towards the right.

It must be that tiny change I made, when I forgot that line...

Dammit!

Izuku forced himself into a stop, faced the truck, and pushed out his palms, activating his quirk.

Smooth, coldness brushed over his fingertips, spreading across his palms and running up his arms. He pressed his palms against the texture, taking a step back as he put as much weight as he could into his arms and pushing back against the truck.

Come on… Move!

Biting his lips so hard he could taste blood, Izuku took another step back, his red shoes digging into the dirt. Veins were making themselves visible on his neck, looking extremely out of place on a child's body. Izuku's face was turning red from how much he was struggling and his arms trembled like a tower of cards before its collapse.

His quirk wasn't working, and Izuku knew exactly why it wasn't.

When people receive their quirk for the first time, they didn't instantly become powerful and proficient with it. It took time to get used to the quirk, train their body to grow accustomed to it, and practice until they had a better grasp of it.

When Kacchan's quirk first manifested, he was only able to produce small, exploding sparkles in his palms. But after four years of practice, he could now dent the wall with his explosions.

Izuku could teleport himself just fine, but his quirk failed him when he tried to teleport himself and Yuuga at the same time. That was because he wasn't powerful enough to teleport multiple people.

The bubble did its job protecting him and Hitoshi. But due to lack of practice, it couldn't handle the weight of the vending machine and ended up cracking down under pressure.

Izuku had hoped that Metal Control would be different, that he would immediately be able to move all metal objects despite their size and weight, but that turned out to be a fool's dream.

What an idiot he was to wish for the impossibles.

His hands slowly began to drop to his sides.

The truck was mere feet away from him.

"I guess I failed again—"

"I-IZUKU!"

A broken cry reached his ears.

Mana...mi?

"DON'T DIE!"

“Your luck has changed to 7 due to a decision you’ve just made.”

All of a sudden, an unknown surge of power forced its way into his body, from the crown of his head to his hands to the tip of his toes. It ran in his bloodstream, jumping from cell to cell and stimulating each one with a tiny zap. Those that were incited sped throughout his body in a speed Izuku could practically feel from the way he no longer needed to step back against the pressure and could now push it back, easily.

The air between him and the truck exploded, blasting the vehicle backward to the middle of the street. Izuku caught a terrified look on the driver's face in a fleeting moment before the Ferris Wheel crashed into the truck, killing him instantly. The truck served as an obstacle in its path, off-balancing the Ferris Wheel and causing it to turn slightly towards the left. It ended up crashing into the construction walls and tipping over, landing on the corner of the walls and sending a wave of tremor in the ground.

"Izuku!" Manami raced towards him, her face ashen and her fingers cold when she pulled him into a hug. Tears dripped onto his shirt as she cried, "I-I-I thought you were g-going to die!"

Izuku patted her back, his motion a little jerky considering how he still couldn't believe what had just happened.

"How did you know... that I was here?"

"Yuuga told me—"

Before he could hug her back, Manami dropped her hands and jumped back, holding her hands awkwardly in front of her chest as a faint blush crept up her neck.

"I-I'm so sorry for hugging you like that, a-and ruining your shirt with my tears. I-I was just so worried—"

"H-Hey, it's fine." Izuku clasped her shoulders and said softly, "It's no big deal. It's just a shirt. I have dozens of shirts just like this one."

"Y-you're not mad at me?" Manami asked, wiping her eyes. "You don't… hate me?"

"Of course I don't! What— How did that thought even cross your mind!?"

Manami's eyes widened as she registered what he had just said. She then smiled, and giggled, and laughed. "I guess it's just a misunderstanding then."

"What're you talking about?"

Before Manami could reply, Water Girl raced up to them and enveloped the both of them in a bear hug. Tears flew everywhere as she told them how her heart literally stopped when she witnessed Izuku almost getting killed, and how her mother instincts kicked in forcing her to rush towards them as fast as her legs allowed her.

Yuuga and Hitoshi ran up after her and jumped into the group hug.

It ended up as a massive tear fest.

But even as they cried, everyone had a relieved smile on their face.

Because they were all alive at the end of the day.

And that was what mattered.


While Izuku was enjoying his time with his team and breathing in the air of living, Tenko was not having such a good time.

Lying on the ground with debris all around him, he screamed in agony of having his legs crushed under the colossal Ferris Wheel.

But nobody came.

No one ever came for him.

Chapter Text

All Might knew something was off about the blond villain. Ever since he shook hands with him, the buff man had been eyeing him strangely while bearing a suspicious, knowing smile. Years of experience of dealing with villains allowed All Might to see all types of smiles, and this type was usually from people who were hiding something and couldn't help but feel giddy and superior for knowing something no one else knew. And that 'something', more often than not, was a devious plan.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the rehearsal. The blond villain, Muscular, acted out his part perfectly. His acting was so on point he could have convinced an ignorant bystander that he was a villain and they would have believed him and called the police.

Even though it was his first time performing in front of a live audience, Muscular didn't appear nervous at all. He acted just as well as he did during the rehearsal, almost as if he wasn't acting, but was just being himself.

Then came the scene with him fighting All Might while using the quirk he stole. Muscular's quirk, Muscle Augmentation, was perfect for the story. All Might's younger brother stole and absorbed the quirk, but it was too powerful for his body it literally gave him so much muscles they couldn't be contained by his skin. The final fight went just like they rehearsed. They had practiced beforehand what percentage of All Might's power could be used on Muscular without injuring him while giving the audience the impression that they were.

All until the explosions on the Ferris Wheel. Like everyone else, All Might paused to stare at the attraction in shock, but he didn't expect Muscular to continue attacking him as if nothing happened.

"H-Hey! What are you doing!?" All Might blocked the attacks that suddenly seemed much more powerful than they were before. "Stop! Something's going on— I think it's a villain attack! Now isn't the time to continue acting—"

"Acting?"

That smile again.

Muscular licked his lips, throwing another heavy punch at All Might.

"I was never acting."

The series of explosions that followed sent all the audience screaming and scattering. Security guards were trying their best to maintain order and direct the terrified guests to a safe zone. Children were crying and getting lost. People were tripping and trampling over each others. From the corner of his eyes, All Might could see the carnival zone going up aflame as gondolas crashed into the area one after another.

People were dying and they needed All Might.

"I need to—!" He was stopped once again by another punch that was thrown at his face. All Might dodged, the unexpected gust of wind that resulted from the force threw him off guard.

"All Might, All Might, All mighty All Might." Muscular sing-songed as he jumped, and in a second he was in front of All Might kicking down at his head. All Might leapt off the stage to gain some distance, eyes widening as the fragile stage he was just standing on was smashed into smithereens. The entire structure, curtains, floorboards, decorations and all crashed down like an unstable Jenga tower. "Respect your opponent. Have you never been taught that?"

The replacement, the smile, the acting, the power… It all made sense now.

Muscular was a real villain.

And he was working with the bomber, distracting me so I can't save those in need of help.

How despicable!

"Respect is earned, not given." All Might growled as he blocked a kick with one hand (that… actually hurt) and punched Muscular in the stomach with his other. "If you want my respect then you shouldn't have picked a fight with me when people are suffering and need my help. I can see what you're trying to do. Distracting me so your accomplice can cause chaos."

"You're wrong, All Might. That hideous excuse of a human is no accomplice of mine. I merely worked with him so I can get the chance to kill you myself!"

Jumping back to avoid a punch that formed a crater on the concrete, All Might threw his hand back, power gathering around his fist as he smashed into the layers of muscles.

"DETROIT SMASH!"

Wide eyed, All Might gawked when the force only pushed the villain back a few feet. The muscles retracted, revealing Muscular's taunting grin.

"No matter how strong a punch is, nothing can ever get past my ultimate defense!" Muscular boasted as he headbutted All Might, causing the hero to stumble back in surprise.

All Might blinked, quickly refocusing and countering Muscular's attacks with his own. They traded blows for at least ten minutes. All of All Might's smashes were deflected by the layers of muscles, while Muscular's punches all met skin. They were almost as powerful as All Might's own attacks, making the hero grit his teeth in pain.

I have to find an opening and get inside his defense...

A bitter taste formed in his mouth when he caught sight of the flaming attraction crashing into the construction zone. At first, all he could think of was how he had failed to evacuate the construction workers and how they might be injured, but then a scene surfaced in his mind.

Tenko drawing at the corner of the walls and ignoring him when he called out to him before the rehearsal.

Don't tell me…

All Might froze, alarm ringing in his ears.

"What're you stopping for, hero!? Give me your all!"

All Might leaned back just in time to avoid the fist that narrowly grazed his nose and swiped Muscular's feet from under him, causing him to land on his back with a heavy thud. The hero darted forward, taking the chance to aim a Texas Smash at the stomach.

What he did not expect was the visible layers of muscles unfurling and snaking around his fist, locking it in tightly within the muscle fibers.

Tenko's face flashed across his mind. A mixed look of sadness, disappointment, and rage. All Might crouched slightly, the muscles on the arm that was stuck bulged as power gathered in it.

"No one can stop me from saving my son!"

Muscular cried out in surprise when All Might lifted him off of the ground with the arm that was stuck, and punched in the direction of the side of the road. The muscle fibers clenched tightly around his fist but gave in in the end and slackened, causing Muscular to fly off into an empty area. Not giving him a chance to react and put up his defense mechanism, All Might launched himself forward. The villain only had the time to guard his face with his bare arms before a "UNITED STATES OF SMASH" broke down his weak defense, causing them to flop limply to his sides.


How long had it been? Tenko didn't know.

All he knew was that it had been so long he couldn't even feel his legs anymore, let alone move them.

An embarrassing whimper escaped his lips. Tenko shifted slightly, crying out when white-hot searing pain dulled his senses. He managed to touch the heavy metal that was crushing his legs with all five fingers and disintegrate the structure before the pain overwhelmed him, revealing the mutilated mess that once was his legs. Blood, chunks of flesh, and pieces of bones were everywhere. Some of the bones had been shattered with so much force they had turned to ash.

Tenko quickly averted his eyes, bile rising to his throat and he let them out. Puke leaked out of his mouth and onto the ground, staining his neck, shirt and giving off an awful odor that made his stomach churn in disgust. Tears of pain dripped down his cheeks, mixing with some puke that leaked out of his nose in the form of snots.

Without the ability to move, Tenko couldn't even move his head from the vomit that was inches away. His vision swam. The sun suddenly seemed so bright, forming spots in his vision. There was a black dot in the distance, moving in and out of the spots. Tears blurred the details, but it looked vaguely like... All Might?

"Young Shimura!"

The figure dropped down in front of him and cradled his face, lifting it off of the puke. Hands stained with vomit but the hero didn't seem to care, he placed a finger under Tenko's nose.

Relief filled his mind upon seeing his rescuer, but it was soon overtaken by rage that burned in the pit of his stomach. Why couldn't All Might come sooner? Why didn't he protect him? Why wasn't he there!?

The world had been tilting for the past few minutes and Tenko's consciousness was ebbing away, darkness clawing at the edge of his vision. He blinked when he saw wet spots form on the ground, as if it was raining. Using the last bit of his energy, he cranked his neck up, almost forgetting how to breath when he saw glistening drops of tears and that foreign expression on the face.

All Might was... crying?


Tenko blacked out after that.

He found himself in a dream state, except he could see and hear what was going on around him but couldn't wake up and talk.

"...bone marrow messed up...ligaments torn and completely separated from the bones..."

A doctor wearing a laboratory coat was talking to All Might in a white room.

"...severe muscle necrosis...bones broken into thousands of splinters, some even crushed into tiny particles ...like an egg beaten to an unrecoverable state..."

"T-there's no other way..?" All Might's voice sounded so weak and hopeless.

"...we had no other choice but to amputate his legs."


When Tenko woke up, he was in the same white room, lying on the hospital bed with All Might slumped on the chair next to him. His nose twitched when the distinctive smell of iodoform assaulted his senses. The clothes he had been wearing were gone and replaced with a fresh hospital gown. The clean smell of laundry filled his nostrils but still wasn't enough to get rid of the chemical stench. His throat was dry, his tongue feeling too big and thick for his mouth. He started coughing as soon as he inhaled through his mouth, spurring All Might into grabbing a cup of water from the nightstand and carefully placing the straw between his lips.

Tenko drank greedily. Water had never tasted so good before. He wasn't especially keen on drinking water, as shown in his always dry lips. But after this sensation, he might start to drink a little bit more everyday. The liquid alleviated the dryness. His throat finally didn't feel as though someone had grinded a ton of sand with it.

The moment he dropped the straw and moved his body to make himself comfortable, All Might sprung out of the chair and began fussing all over him.

"A-Are you okay? How're you feeling? How're your legs— I mean, do you feel any pain!? Are you hungry!? I-I have some peanuts—" He pulled out a Ziploc bag from his pocket, his hand halting in midair when he saw the crushed peanuts inside.

Tenko ignored him and shifted up so his back was leaning against the pillow, of which All Might quickly adjusted the position when he realized what the boy was trying to do. Pulling the thin cover off of his body, Tenko froze as he stared at the two wrapped up stumps that used to be his legs, his blood turning cold.

"Uh..." All Might looked every bit as uncomfortable as he was. "I was going to tell you this..."

Tenko reached down and touched the stump tentatively. There was no pain, or maybe it was just the anesthetics still in his system. He cupped the stump in his small hand, feeling the shape and squeezing the soft flesh.

His legs really were gone.

Reality hit him all at once.

He lost his legs. He had to get prosthetic. He was now disabled.

He had to sit in the special seat for the special people and bear all those curious and pitied looks thrown at him. Everywhere he walked, people would stare and jeer at him. Everywhere he went, he would be treated differently.

He couldn't run and play like a normal kid anymore. He couldn't make friends like a normal kid anymore.

Because he wasn't normal.

His lips trembled, the first sign of his breakdown. Covering his mouth with his pinky lifted, Tenko stifled a sob as tears welled up in his eyes. He tried holding them back by looking up at the perfectly measured square tiles on the ceiling, but the blinding fluorescent light from the ceiling only served to sting his eyes, causing more and more tears to gather and eventually stream down his face. His entire body shook, his shoulders heaving as he took a deep, trembling breath. Out of habit, he pulled his legs towards him to hide his face, only to fall forward without them to support him, causing even more pain in his chest.

The walls he built up to protect himself finally crumbled pieces by pieces, his defense washed away by those salty tears. Tired of the front he had to put up, Tenko allowed himself to curl into All Might's chest as the hero wrapped his arms around him and kept murmuring "I'm sorry... I'm sorry" over and over again. His cries muffled by the fabric, Tenko clenched the hero uniform tightly with four fingers as he hid his face from view, the strong, rhythmic beating of All Might's heart soothing his rapidly fast one. He wanted to push the hero away. He wanted to yell at him, punch him, blame him for being late to save him once again, but he couldn't gather the strength to do so. All Might's crying face stood out in his mind vividly. The fact that the number 1 hero, the toughest man Tenko had ever known, broke down crying in front of him because of him, a mere orphan, stirred something within him.

All Might may not always be on time. He may not be the best dad, but he cared. He really did care about Tenko.

After a while, the crying stopped. Tenko broke away from the hug and wiped his eyes, sniffling. All Might quickly passed him a tissue from the nightstand and he blew his nose, loudly. The sound especially loud in the empty room, kind of like blowing a trumpet, Tenko mused.

"I-I'm really sorry… Young Shimura." All Might began, his eyes reddening as he gripped the edge of the bed so hard the metal was bending. His voice was so weak, void of his usual optimistic drive. Without meeting Tenko's eyes, the hero continued. "I've failed you again. I should have defeated the villain sooner— No, I should have stayed with you. It was a terrible idea to leave you alone. I'm sorry. This trip was supposed to be fun and enjoyable for you, a-and to improve our relationship. I should've focused on you and spent more time with you. Maybe… Maybe it was a terrible idea to bring you here today…"

"No, it's not," Tenko refuted, his voice cracking. He stared dead at those haunting blue eyes as he continued. "An attack like this could've have happened anywhere and you'd have no way of knowing beforehand. At least AMAP was fun. I especially like the magical marker. So, I don't regret coming here."

"Y-You don't blame me?"

"I do blame you." At this, the hero's face paled even more if possible. "Because you weren't there to protect me, I could have died. But… What mattered is that you showed up to save me in the end, unlike last time. Even though you were late, at least you made it. You remembered me and came to my help when there's a lot more people waiting for your help at the time. You… You cared about me. Thanks… dad."

"Wha— What did you just call me?" All Might stuttered, flabbergasted. His mouth opening and closing like a stupid fish.

"Dad." Tenko repeated, taking pride in being able to render the Symbol of Peace wordless. "Thanks for saving me, dad."

"Y-Y-Young Shi-m-m-mura…"

"Call me Tenko."

"T-Tenko."

All Might stared at him for a moment and then suddenly stood up, the tiny chair clattering onto the ground. Tenko jerked back in surprise.

"AH! YOUR HAND! THE HAND! YOUR FATHER'S HAND! I JUST REMEMBERED! IT GOT CRUSHED ALONG WITH YOUR LEGS AND THEY TOOK IT!"

Tenko rubbed his abused ears, frowning. This was something he'd have to start getting used to.

"It's fine. I don't need it anymore." He grabbed All Might's big, calloused hand and held it with his pinky lifted. "My father's hand is right here."


Izuku still couldn't believe he was alive. Everything that happened after the group hug went by in a blur. He vaguely remembered heading over to the House of Doom, a safe zone for everyone in the area, and meeting up with the rest of the YHP students. A family stood out in the background, a mother with white hair pulling back her two sons, a whitehead and a redhead, by the back of their collars.

"Mom, we have to find Yumi-nee and Shouto! What if they're hurt!? Or worse, killed!?" The boy with white hair yelled as he struggled against his mother's grip in vain.

"You told us to grow up and protect our sister, so why don't you let us do it now!?" The other boy yelled.

Their mother bonked them both on the foreheads. "Yes, I did tell you to protect your sister, but I didn't tell you to put yourself in unnecessary danger while doing so! You don't even know where they are. How are you going to find them when villains could be anywhere!? I don't want you both to hurt yourself! Please, let's just wait here. I believe they'll make it back. Your sister and Shouto are both very strong-willed. They will make it."

The boys gave in afterwards and the family went to sit by a sign next to the front door of the mansion.

All the YHP students were sitting together on the grass in front of the house, supervised by a few anxious chaperones. The pro heroes like the Waterhose couple had left right after making sure everyone was present, heading towards the carnival zone to help with the fire. About fifteen minutes later, everyone in the area cheered when a streak of red, blue, and yellow zipped past them, also heading towards the disaster.

All Might was here.

There was nothing to worry about now.

Izuku could finally relax and sort out the situation. Materializing a notebook onto his hand, he began writing down everything that had happened today.


The scorching heat that engulfed the left side of his body forced him wake. Shouto's first instinct was to scream, but his control slipped out of his grasp when he remembered what had caused him to faint in the first place. The slime villain had taken control of his body and caused fire to spread all around the Ferris Wheel. He remembered seeing the gondola they were residing in snap off of its support, falling, and a slimy tentacle wrapping around the metal structure of the Ferris Wheel to save his body from falling to its death. But unfortunately, his sister had fallen with the gondola, crashing onto the ground. The horror of witnessing her presumed death together with the slime clogging his trachea and depriving him of oxygen forced his brain to shut down on its own.

The scene he woke up upon was something straight out of a disaster on television. The closest thing he could think of was the video of All Might's debut, where he carried more than a dozen people on his shoulders to safety and saved over a hundred people within ten minutes.

The sky had turned a grayish red due to all the smoke and flames polluting the air. Pained groans and the crackling of fire went on and on. Burning buildings and charred corpses laid down the path where he stood. Shouto tried looking away from the bodies, but he couldn't even control his gaze let alone turn his head. His body felt stuffed, like he was filled to his throat with slime. The familiar smell of burning fabric and wood overwhelmed his mind, but that wasn't the worst of it. The smell that truly traumatized him was the smell of burning flesh, which was exactly the same as the aroma of grilled pork. And Shouto absolutely hated himself for the way his stomach growled when he inhaled the scent.

"Wonderful… Absolutely wonderful." His mouth moved. It took him a second to recognize the deep, raspy voice as his own. "Ah, you're awake. I must thank you for lending me your body. It hosts the perfect quirk to cause damage." His left hand raised by itself. "Muscular should be done by now. About time for me to show up. Hu...hu...hu… The hero would never expect me to use a kid's body."

Fire poured out of his left side at a constant rate, continue burning his surroundings until they turned to ash. When the villain looked down, Shouto could see his exposed skin turning red from overheating.

All of this... was caused by father's Fire?

No…

My Fire. It came from me. I was the one who used it.

My Fire had caused... all this?

Disbelief filled his mind which soon turned into cold terror when a body lying on the side of the road twitched. The man couldn't move, his legs stuck under a billboard sign. Upon seeing Shouto, he stretched out a hand and murmured, "Help…"

No! Don't!

The villain didn't listen. A stream of fire later the man had been cremated, his ashen remains dispersing with the wind. An alive human being... was gone. Just like that.

My Fire… killed people. I… killed people.

"Look how powerful it is." The villain was saying, and Shouto tried his best to block out the sound. "Imagine me taking over Endeavor's body. I'd become invincible!"

Father… a hero… someone... help...

"What have you done to the boy!?"

Shouts came from the distance. The villain looked up. A mass of people dressed like pro heroes were charging towards him. Two heroes dressed similarly began shooting water at the fire, trying to suppress it. A woodman shot out his wooden arms and wrapped around two victims who were barely alive after a muscled hero lifted the debris off of them. The others tried to capture him with their respective quirks, nets, hands and fists, ropes, cloth, and an array of equipment, but none worked. A wave of his arm sent a surge of fire burning everything to ash and blocking their path.

"We need someone with a water quirk!"

"Waterhose! Get rid of this fire!"

"There must be a way to capture him!"

"Make sure the boy stays unharmed!"

Shouto fought for control, but the slime villain stayed within his body, refusing to come out. As long as it was inside, he couldn't do anything about the villain's actions. He could only watch with dread and horror as his quirk caused so much pain and trouble for the heroes who were trying to save him— No, more like trying to stop him. Because all of this was his fault. The damage, death, disaster were all caused by his quirk. If only he didn't have such a quirk… If only he was like Fuyumi who was born with only his mother's Ice quirk…

Yumi-neechan…

The memory of her falling onto the ground from hundreds of feet high resurfaced in his mind.

I need you… neechan...

"Shouto!"

The ring of fire encircling them vanished as a familiar figure charged through, leaving a trail of ice behind her. White hair with red streaks, glasses, blood dripping down her forehead and arms, staining her white blouse and blue jeans…

Yumi-neechan!

A wave of relief washed away all other negative thoughts when Shouto saw his sister coming to his rescue. He wanted to tell her how relieved he was to see her, how terrified he was, and how much he missed everyone. He wanted to smile and cry and hug her, but all he did was increase the temperature and sent a torrent of the fire that killed so many innocent people towards his very own sister.

"R-R-Ru…" Shouto had never been so desperate to talk. He thrashed wildly, causing some slime to leak out of his mouth. A second of control was all he needed to shout out, "RUN! NEECHAN!"

But she didn't stop.

Slime filled his airway yet again, cutting off his words.

"Thanks, Shouto. But I'm not running away this time." Fuyumi wiped off the blood that was leaking into her eyes, knocking her glasses askew. "I've been running away my entire life and I'm tired of it! It's time for me to fulfill my duty!"

She swiped her arm in front of her. The path connecting her to Shouto instantly turned into ice, crawling up his foot and immobilizing him.

"Did you forget what quirk your brother has!?" The villain mocked as his left leg burned with fire, melting the ice coating his feet.

"His Fire may eventually be stronger than mine… but don't forget…" More ice spiked up around him, entangling around his feet, legs, running up his torso and arms. "He's just a child. And right now, my Ice is stronger than his Fire!"

Shouto could tell the villain was struggling from the way his left side burned like never before. But even when the fire pouring out had gone well over the peak temperature his current body could handle, the ice restraining him refused to melt. The villain roared in anger when more ice climbed up his body, adding another layer to the ice straitjacket. He was glaring at Fuyumi with such intensity for a second Shouto was convinced that his left eye would start shooting out fire.

Everything below his neck was completely frozen. Shouto felt his lips curl into a scowl as ice ran up his neck and up his face.

"I'm sorry, Shouto. This is the only thing I can do right now."

This was the last thing he heard and saw before ice covered his head, layers on top of layers. Outside noises dimmed and his own eyes stared back at him. The villain didn't give up, continued forcing fire out of his body to no avail. There was no space between his skin and the ice for fire to exist. The moment a flicker appeared, it'd get vanquished by ice.

Eventually the villain gave up, stepping back and returning control over to Shouto. The feeling of ice on his overheated left side felt so comfortable Shouto closed his eyes and allowed his mind to drift off into a blissful sleep.


All Might showed up not long after she trapped her brother and the villain in ice. Per his request, she melted her ice using her fire side and he quickly grabbed onto Shouto, punching the air past him and blowing the villain out of his body.

"You're like a hero." Shouto told her when he was finally free as he hugged her with all his might, burying his ice-cold face into her warm body.

Heroes immediately circled around them, guiding them towards the House of Doom where Rei, Natsuo, and Touya bombarded them with questions and concern upon seeing the team of pro heroes flanking them. Fuyumi explained the situation to them as quickly as possible while the medical personnel checked over Shouto, making sure he was okay. Thankfully, he ended up with only a minor fever and light burning on his left side, which could be healed rather quickly with a few days of rest and some burn treatment ointment that they had stocked up inside their house.

Shouto didn't talk much on the way home. He merely clung onto Fuyumi's arm as if his life depended on it and curled next to her in the backseat, the seatbelt being the only thing separating them. Natsuo and Touya, for once, kept quiet and gave him some space. The silence lasted until they arrived home and opened the front door, revealing Endeavor's large, burly body blocking the entrance.

"Who told you you can go to amusement parks with them?"

The question was directed towards Shouto.

Her brother tightened his grip on her sleeves and cowered behind her, fearful eyes avoiding their father's furious ones.

"You think I wouldn't know? It's all over the internet! Your embarrassing defeat against that weak villain, who All Might defeated in a single punch! A mere villain was able to use my power better than you can, which just shows how much training you're lacking! And yet, you thought it was a good idea to go off with these… these failures and play instead of train!? You should feel ashamed!"

Shouto flinched with every toxic criticism, his small body continued shrinking behind her legs until only the white half of his bi-colored hair was visible. Fuyumi gritted her teeth and took that extra step needed to completely shield him from the view.

"Stop it, father."

Endeavor turned his burning gaze to her, and Fuyumi fought so hard not to flinch. This was the second time her father stared at her right in the eyes ever since she was born. How long had she been hoping he would direct his attention away from Shouto and onto the rest of his siblings? To look them right in the eyes because they were his children andthey existed, too. But this wasn't what she wanted. The rage and disappointment in his eyes weren't what she wished for.

"Move." He shoved past her and yanked Shouto, thankfully, by his right arm. "We're going to train, now, to make up for all the training you missed today. Your loss against the villain showed just how weak you are, and how you need to train much more than before. If you can't even defeat a weak villain, you'll never be able to defeat All Might."

"No! Father, stop!" Shouto gripped her sleeves with as much strength as he could muster as Endeavor dragged him into the house. His entire body was shaking, tears flowing freely down his cheeks as he screamed his throat raw. The fear in his eyes were much, much worse than when he was taken over by the villain. Natsuo and Touya stood there, probably too afraid to do anything. They'd most likely never seen Endeavor like this before. Rei stepped forward trying to stop Endeavor, but Fuyumi beat her to it.

Warmth covered her from head to toe as thousands of images raced in her mind. From the villain attacking Shouto, to her falling down the Ferris Wheel, to her crawling out of the iceberg with fresh cuts all over her body, to the burned corpses and fallen buildings surrounding Shouto... All of this was her fault.

"Be thankful of your parents that you didn't get your father's quirk. Because otherwise, I would have to take over your body."

If only she had made it known what her quirk was... If only she had stopped hiding a long time ago... This wouldn't have happened. Shouto wouldn't have suffered for so long in her stead…

Fire suddenly burst out of her body, shocking everyone present.

Shouto had to see his own power become the cause of so many death and destruction. He had to watch the villain commit murder using his quirk while not being able to do anything to stop it. Fuyumi herself almost puked upon seeing the charred corpses and smelling the burning flesh; she could only imagine how much worse Shouto had had it. That hopelessness and trauma must have still remained within him. And yet, Endeavor wanted him to train his fire side after everything that had happened... To remind him of what his quirk was capable of…

Unforgivable.

In the next instant, Endeavor was forced to let go of Shouto's arm as a torrent of blue and orange flame engulfed him. Fuyumi quickly pulled Shouto behind her, her gray eyes darkening when she saw the bruise in the shape of a hand on his arm.

Endeavor appeared unfazed after he covered the fire with his own. Getting over his initial shock, he snarled, "You think this can harm me—" before cuts appeared all over his body, blood staining his clothes. "How—"

Ignoring him, Fuyumi turned to Shouto. "Shou-chan, I'm sorry you had to suffer because your sister was a coward. You don't have to be afraid anymore, because I will be taking back my own burden."

"How did you do that!? You're not supposed to have Fire!"

"But I do." Fuyumi calmly stated, turning to Endeavor. "I've had Fire ever since my quirk first manifested when I was four. You weren't there to see it, because you assumed my quirk would be Ice due to my hair color. After that, I wasn't important to you anymore because I was a failure, which is why you ignored me and didn't notice the red streaks that appeared in my hair after I received my quirk."

Endeavor didn't say anything, merely listening to her with surprise evident in his heated gaze.

"Mom told me to keep quiet about my real quirk because she knew what you were looking for: a child with both Fire and Ice to keep both side balanced. And she knew what you'd do to that child once they were born."

Endeavor glanced at Rei with betrayal, his lips pulled down into his signature frown.

"Touya was safe, so was Natsuo, but not Shouto. It was too obvious what his quirk would be and there was no way to hide it. And so, Shouto became your masterpiece and was subjected to the harsh training no child should ever go through. If only I had revealed what my quirk truly was..." Fuyumi's eyes stung but she held back the tears. "Then he wouldn't have had to suffer so much. It's all my fault. Every night I hear his screams, the guilt in me would increase by tenfold. If only I took responsibility of my quirk and revealed it sooner, Shouto wouldn't have had to go though what happened today."

"Yumi-neechan…" Shouto poked his head out from behind her, but Fuyumi simply pushed his head back, away from their father's conflicted gaze.

"As you can see, both my Fire and Ice are currently stronger than Shouto's. Eventually, his Fire might surpass mine, but his Ice never will. Even so, my experience and time in training would make up for that. All my life I've been training my quirk in preparation for this reveal. My technique in using Fire and Ice is far advanced than Shouto's at the moment, as shown in the fact that I know how to hide ice spikes in my fire without melting them. When he finally catches up to me, I'd already have obtained my hero license and started working as a pro hero."

"Fuyumi, but you wanted to be a teacher!"

Fuyumi turned around and smiled at her concerned mother and her shocked siblings before turning back to Endeavor with eyes hard as steel.

"Father, leave Shouto alone, and let me be your masterpiece."

Chapter Text

What ended up happening was Endeavor didn't agree, neither did he deny. Instead, he made a bargain.

If she could get accepted into UA, he would allow her to take Shouto's spot.

Fuyumi was already fourteen. In less than half a year, she would graduate middle school and become a high school student. She wasn't given much time to prepare. But fortunately, with her good grades, she only needed to work on her quirk and physique in preparation for the UA entrance exam and the tough training that followed. Getting a recommendation letter from one of her teachers would also help. All of them were shocked at first to see the diligent student who expressed no interest in becoming a hero suddenly changing her top high school choice on her future career form to UA High School, Hero Department. But they quickly accepted her change in mindset, probably comparing her to Endeavor in their minds and thinking how the daughter was merely following her father's footsteps.

While she was working on her UA application, Endeavor had agreed to leave Shouto alone for the time being. Seeing him going to the therapist and coming back with a smile every week, Fuyumi felt like everything was worth it.

Hero was a dangerous job. Injury and death were everyday occurrences. But if her sacrificing her dream and becoming a hero could make her youngest brother smile, then she would do it.

No matter what awaited her in the path ahead, she would grit her teeth and walk it heads on.


Police and ambulance arrived shortly after All Might dashed towards the disaster site. Since pro heroes had to deal with the aftermath, Genji-sensei and the rest of the civilian chaperones brought everyone back to the bus while Waterhose and a few others with hero licenses stayed back. As an apology for the incident, all the guests were given the option to choose a mystery present on their way out, despite not having completed the scavenger hunt. The options were PussyCats' kitty paws, All Might's cape, Gang Orca's whale plushie, and Edgeshot's ninja stars.

As expected, Hitoshi chose the kitty paws. He wore it the moment he received it, waving it around and snarling like a wild cat. Yuuga picked All Might's cape and couldn't stop making poses as they walked towards the bus. Manami couldn't decide between the kitty paws and the plushie, so Izuku chose the kitty paws and gave it to her so she could have both.

Due to the interruption, Izuku wasn't able to finish the scavenger quest. But since it had no time limit, he could just finish it next time he visited AMAP.

On the bus ride home, everyone except Izuku fell asleep, exhausted from the event. The rattling of the bus whenever it hit a bump in the road and the soft snoring (loud snoring, when it came to Genji-sensei) filled the small, humid interior of the vehicle. Serenity was hard to come by in YHP where dozens of boisterous children participated. Instances like this should be well taken advantage of.

Shifting slightly into a more comfortable position, Izuku pulled up his profile page to check the stats. He currently had 21400 EXP, which came from the AMAP survival quests, missing cat quest, failure to stop quest, and the daily quests he completed for this week. Talking about daily quests, he had totally forgotten about it today. After everything that had happened, he supposed he deserved a break.

Izuku couldn't help but chuckle giddily when he saw "Metal Control" next to the word Quirk. He was finally one step closer to his dream.

He continued scrolling down. Two attribute points, his luck was seven, and he had 4751 REP points including a…

"GOLA? What's a negative REP point?" Izuku pondered when he saw "+1 negative REP point" in parentheses.

GOLA popped into existence as soon as his thought was registered. Chewing away a slice of juicy bacon, it explained, "Right, you haven't learned about that yet. So basically… Negative numbers are numbers that are smaller than zero. So it goes five, four, three, two, one, zero, and then negative one, negative two...etc."

A mental picture formed in Izuku's mind. A straight line with zero in the middle, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to the right, and -1, -2, -3, -4, -5 to the left.

Izuku scratched his head.

"But it has the same sign as subtractions! Does that mean a negative REP point takes away a positive REP point?"

"No, it doesn't."

"But why not? It's a subtraction sign isn't it? So how come I don't lose anything?"

GOLA's features scrunched up together as if it was constipated. Izuku wondered briefly where all that bacon went after entering its mouth. Did it even digest?

"You know what? Let's forget about the negatives. All you need to know is that a negative REP point is earned from nega— I mean, bad reputation. Bad reputation isn't any less than good reputation. Reputation isn't on a scale of for example one to ten. Gaining a negative REP point doesn't decrease anything. It's on two different scales, good and bad. And when you become more and more famous, or infamous, your number on either scale will rise. All the REP points you've earned so far are by helping people, which brings you a good reputation. What you did today, accidentally causing that bus driver to die, made him hate you in his last moment, which granted you a bad reputation point from him."

To die…

Right. He died because of me.

Izuku clenched his trousers, biting his lips as he trembled in… fear? No, disbelief? Sort of. Or was it maybe regret?

...No.

It was definitely not regret.

That old man killed Izuku twice and almost the third time if not for his quirk. He had to die in order for Izuku to live. Yes, he may be a nice ice cream vendor, but Izuku had seen how dark this old man could be. He had died over and over again trying to protect his friends and survive, all because this old geezer wanted to run him over with that goddamn truck.

Like All Might had said, no one deserved to be killed, but sometimes death was inevitable. In the end, it all came down to whether he believed their death would be beneficial or meaningless. All Might killed All For One because otherwise the villain would have killed him and caused more chaos. The old man had to die because otherwise he would have killed Izuku.

It made perfect sense.

Izuku did nothing wrong.

Swiping that memory to the back of his head, Izuku turned his attention back to GOLA.

"So does this mean that helping people isn't the only way to earn REP points? And you've said before that there are many more Digitalizations out there, in other worlds. Has it ever happened before where a… villain got their hands on Digitalization and earned negative REP points by… doing bad things?"

GOLA took a while to answer. "Yes, it has happened before, many times. Game of Life is a neutral system that chooses its master on random. Anyone could have gotten it. All Might, All For One, your friend Hitoshi, or even that ice cream vendor. You have chosen the path of Hero, but others may not have. It's possible to walk the path of villainy with bad reputation and use those negative REP points they've earned to become even more powerful."

"B-But that's bad! What if they earned enough REP points to buy things like… like Cataclysm that destroys the entire planet!?"

GOLA sighed. "Then the villain will either die and restart, or decide that they've had enough fun for the life time and die once and for all. In that case, I'll fly off to the next world to look for my next master."

For a minute, Izuku just sat there staring at the metal cyclops with a dopey look, letting the information sink in. As the bus hit a particular bump in the road, Hitoshi, who was asleep next to him, slumped forward and would have hit his head against the seat in front of him if Izuku didn't pull him back so he could lean against his shoulders. Absentmindedly playing with Hitoshi's purple locks, Izuku rested his head against the head cushion as he thought about GOLA's words.

He knew how dangerous the items in the bazaar could be, and how terrifying it would be if it landed in the wrong hands, hence why he took extra precautions to ensure no one discovered his secret. But not once did he think about the possibility of Digitalization going to someone else initially. It had been two years since his life had been turned into a game. He had long since gotten used to this and felt like Digitalization was an unparalleled part of his life, like it was his friend. To think that it could have easily become a villain's felt… like a betrayal.

"What about you? You're not going to stop them?"

GOLA rolled its eye. "Nah... My sole purpose is assisting my master in utilizing the Game of Life system. I am not allowed to interfere with their personal life. That would be against the rules. And too troublesome."

GOLA disappeared after saying this, as if it was tired of the infinite questions Izuku asked.

After checking his stats, Izuku pulled up his inventory, which contained his security alarm (1/14), bike (2/14), notebooks (3/14), pencil box (4/14), four-leaf clover (5/14), flash bomb 1 (6/14), flash bomb 2 (7/14), complete set of 100 eating utensils (8/14), dragon ball (9/14), pile of poop (10/14), caterpie egg (11/14), and phone (12/14).

The Caterpie egg was only at 423/4111 steps. At this rate, it would hatch tomorrow at the earliest.

And finally, he pulled up the integrating notification for his phone and accepted it.

Immediately, a phone icon appeared in the corner of his vision, almost invisible if he didn't pay attention to it. Izuku tapped it, opening up a transparent screen identical to his android screen. He tried a few icons, including some built-in game apps. They all worked. The only downside was that if others saw him, they'd think he was out of his mind for tapping and swiping at air.

"This can be controlled with your mind as well," GOLA informed him conveniently.

"Nice!"

Izuku then spent the rest of the bus ride getting used to the controls. Restart, lower volume, zoom in, exit, increase brightness, switch apps, split screen...etc. At some point, Hitoshi woke up and groggily asked him why he was poking air. Izuku was then forced to use his phone to control the transparent screen, which also worked. The only app he couldn't use at the moment was the browser due to lack of wifi connection or cellular network. He would have to wait until he registered his phone and purchased a phone plan. GOLA also informed him that once he reached level 20, Digitalization would upgrade to Level 2, which would unlock many more capabilities, including the ability to connect to any cellular network within the vicinity and orbiting satellites at the cost of reputation points.

Everyone were barely awake when the bus arrived at YHP. They trudged through the gates like zombies, their movement lethargic and their eyes barely opened. Many parents were already waiting at the entrance, including Hitoshi's parents in their fancy car. When they caught sight of their son, they immediately ran over and embraced him, having heard the news of the AMAP attack. Kyokan continued murmuring "I'm sorry" over and over again. Whether it was due to granting him the permission to visit AMAP, where he was put in danger, and feeling guilty about it or something else, Izuku didn't know. But if he had to guess, it was probably the former, as Inko did the same when she picked him up.

"Izu-chan!" She cried as she hugged him. "I'm sorry for letting you go on this trip! I didn't know the villains were going to attack! Are you okay? You're not hurt, are you!?"

Seeing the fear and guilt in her eyes, Izuku just couldn't bring himself to tell her the truth. She would definitely blame herself for signing the permission slip which consequently led to his suffering in the time loops.

"Don't worry, mom! I'm not hurt!" Izuku broke away from the hug and put a big, reassuring smile on his face as he jumped up and down. "See? I'm fine! And guess what? I also won a phone and got my quirk today! Look!"

He pulled out his phone and made it fly around in the air.

That only caused Inko to break into a teary smile as she almost crushed him with her bear hug.

The teachers apologized profusely to the angry parents before they left. This wasn't the first time the YHP kids were put in danger, and the parents demanded an explanation. Inko was disappointed as well, but Izuku managed to reassure her that the teachers were doing their best, that no one could have foreseen something like this would happen, and usher her away from the other angry parents.

Izuku excitedly showed her his quirk the moment they arrived home. He explained how he thought for a week and finally decided upon "Metal Control." It was the most versatile and best for both offense and defense. After testing out a bit (while Inko watched with curiosity), he found out that at his level, he could only move small metal objects like silverware, scissors, keys, and kitchen knives. He could almost move a pot, but his control slipped and it would have broken if not for Inko's pulling it towards her at the last minute. Now that he realized how much training he was lacking, it really dawned on him how stupid he was for attempting to stop that truck with a quirk he had just received.

To celebrate his receiving his quirk, Inko decided to take him out for dinner. On their way to the buffet, they stopped by a service provider and bought him a phone plan. Izuku wanted to chose the cheapest plan since he was just a kid who didn't really have anyone to call, except Manami, the only one who had a phone out of all his friends, and if he needed to use the internet he could just use Inko's computer, but Inko decided against it and bought a family plan, saying how they lived in the information age where a phone would be useful regardless of his age.

After that, they went to the buffet which costed six-thousand yen for adults and four-thousand for age twelve and under (toddlers were free). It was ridiculously expensive, but Inko didn't even bat an eye as she swiped her credit card, saying how he deserved it and what else should she do with her money? Leave it in the bank to rot?

That got Izuku laughing as they each picked up a plate and began piling food onto it.

Dinner was spent stuffing their mouths with food and brainstorming ideas for Izuku's hero costume and signature moves. He had created tons of ideas growing up, but now that he had a quirk, he would have to tweak them to fit it. Izuku also declared that he wanted to apply for UA High School when the time came. He had talked about it many times before, but this time he was serious. And with a quirk, he felt like his goal wasn't out of his range. Inko merely smiled as she voiced her encouragement. She even offered to sew him his desired hero costume if he made it in, as an incentive.

That night, Izuku went to sleep with a content smile on his face and a bright future in his mind.


"Your luck has changed to 1 due to a decision you've just made."

Vrrrooooom…

"Move out of my fucking way!"

Crun—

"AHHHHH!"

His bedroom door burst open, light filtering into his room and piercing through the darkness. Tangled in his comforter, Izuku writhed and gasped as phantom pain knocked all other thoughts aside. Tingling sensation spread all over his body. His midsection felt as if flame had licked over it and his head felt as though something was crawling inside it. The ghostly touches caused goosebumps to erupt all over his skin as the old man's sickening voice echoed in his head, nonstop.

"Izu-chan! Are you okay!?"

A warm hand touched his forehead then pulled his small body out of the comforter and into a warm chest. Izuku opened his eyes when he felt hair prickling his cheeks. Pressed tightly against his mother, he started to weep. Inko patted his back while whispering soothing words to his ears, even though she herself was trembling with unease.

He stopped crying when the cold, cruel voice quieted down, but he didn't break out of the hug. He needed his mother's warmth right now.

"Izuku… Do you want to… talk about it?"

Izuku hid his face into the crook of her neck, grasping her shirt tightly. It would be nice to have someone to talk to after everything he had gone through, but he didn't want to worry her or make her feel guilty. Worst of all, he didn't want her to think YHP was a dangerous program and make him quit. He loved his friends and he wanted to stay with them. None of them went to his school so YHP was the only place he could meet them at. He did have their contact information, but hanging out after school and on the weekends was different from being heroes together.

What he had just experienced was just a simple nightmare, nothing more. Izuku had plenty of nightmares before, and they all went away after a few days. Inko was well aware of that. There should be nothing to worry about this time.

"I'm fine, mom." Izuku sighed as he pulled away from the hug, wiping away the remnant tears and forcing a smile onto his face. "I just had a nightmare about what happened today. But I'm sure it's fine! It'll go away very quickly!"

Inko wanted to press on, but Izuku reassured her that everything was fine and he was too strong to be defeated by a simple nightmare. In the end, she didn't ask any more questions but she did make him sleep with her for the rest of the night.

The next morning, Izuku woke up a little sleep deprived. The nightmare didn't haunt him after he went back to sleep again, but he still couldn't shake off the strange tingling sensation and the old man's words continued ringing in his head.

Hoping a little heroic work would make him forget about the AMAP incident, albeit temporarily, Inko took him on a daily quest hunt early in the morning. Izuku missed the one yesterday, so he worked extra hard today. They spent three hours hunting and only stopped when lunch time hit and both of their stomachs were grumbling in protest.

Three hours of walking around town had earned him more than enough steps for the egg to hatch. On the pokemon icon in his inventory was the timer 5:00. Izuku sat on the couch in the living room tentatively while his mom prepared lunch.

Rrrrriiiiinnnnnng!

Izuku jumped, scouring around the living room looking for the source of the noise only to find nothing. He only came to realization when Inko didn't react to the noise and noticed the phone icon in the corner of his vision had turned red for the first time. It was almost transparent which was why he had overlooked it many times.

He tapped the phone icon and selected "answer call" on the alert that popped up.

"Hello?"

"Izuku! It's me, Manami!"

"Manami-chan? How did you get my number?"

"Your mom gave it to me. Anyway, I need to ask you something." Without waiting for Izuku to respond, she continued in a hurry. "So I just came back from my monthly check at the doctor and they said that extra joint in my toe is gone! According to them, that means my quirk must have already manifested but I don't know when! The doctor asked me if I experienced anything strange in the past thirty days but I don't remember anything like that! Izuku, have you noticed anything weird about me?"

"I haven't but…" Izuku suddenly remembered the strange power that coursed through his body when he attempted to use Metal Control for the first time. He never understood why his power suddenly increased; he just assumed it was because he was in a pinch and he experienced what many called the 'adrenaline rush.'

"Something weird happened to me yesterday. My quirk actually manifested when that truck was charging towards me. It's Metal Control, and I tried to move that truck with it. But I couldn't. It was too heavy for me at the moment. And then suddenly, after you yelled out my name, I feel a foreign power enter my body and then I can move the truck! You saw what happened! The air between me and the truck just exploded! I'm not sure if this would help but I hope it would! Maybe your quirk has something to do with your voice?"

"Hmm… I dunno, but I'll ask the doctor about it! Thanks Izuku!"

And she hang up.

Alert!

"Your [Pokemon: Caterpie Egg] will hatch in less than 30 seconds. Please make sure you've taken out the item before the countdown reaches zero!"
30… 29… 28…

Slamming down the receiver none too gently, Izuku flopped down onto the carpet and materialized the egg into his hand, almost dropping it in surprise.

The egg was larger than he imagined, oval shaped and around the size of a volleyball. It had pale green spots scattered over the shell and felt slightly warm in his hand. And if he wasn't mistaken, he could feel something move under the surface.

This was supposed to be a caterpillar, right? So why was its egg so… abnormally big? How big would the caterpillar be?

Izuku could already see a giant green slimy caterpillar crawling out of the egg like a scene from some R-rated horror movie trailer.

Suppressing a shudder, he gently placed the egg onto the carpet and added a sheet of paper towel underneath it as an afterthought.

5… 4… 3…

Izuku hitched his breath, eyes wide and unblinking, his palms sweating against his trousers.

2… 1…

A crack formed on its shell, branching out into spiderwebs and covering the entire egg.

Crack.

A piece chipped off. Gel-like liquid oozed out of the hole.

Squelch.

A flash of green in the sea of darkness.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Two red antennae wiggled out, followed by two bulging black eyes around the size of an a-hundred-yen coin. Its body, green and shaped like a string of beads, squirmed out of the gap. Yellow rings rimmed its bland eyes and decorated each respective segment of its form. Looking closely, Izuku could see tiny furs covering its skin, slick with the fluid that filled the egg.

With a quiet plop, the Caterpie tipped over the egg and landed on the paper towel, soaking it slightly. Thankfully, the paper towel was thick enough to absorb the fluid so it wouldn't touch the precious carpet underneath.

Caterpie blinked dazedly, then looked around as if it were confused with its surroundings. After a moment, it looked up at Izuku, large watery eyes glinting with curiosity.

Pulse racing with excitement, Izuku bent down at eye-level with the bug and goggled at it in all directions. He was surprised to find himself not afraid or disgusted by this giant caterpillar. Izuku was always squeamish when it came to bugs, especially soft-bodied bugs. He was okay with beetles and the likes since they looked cool, with those hard shells and whatnot. They were like armored warriors. But soft, wiggling bugs like worms? Maggots? Caterpillars? Yuck.

He thought having a giant caterpillar as a pet would creep him out, but he was wrong. Staring at the foot-long green-and-yellow Caterpie that continued to blink cutely at him, Izuku only had one thought in mind.

He wanted to cherish it.

A strange, foreign feeling bloomed in his chest, something akin to his love for his mother and his fondness for his friend, but also slightly different. He felt like he had known it for years, like it was his siblings, his family, like it was blood-related to him. He wanted to protect it, and anyone who mess with it would be messing with him. He wanted to smooch and cuddle with it so tightly they would be together forever and ever and nothing would come between them.

Almost without thinking, Izuku reached out his hand and caressed Caterpie's head, squealing out loud when the soft, smooth texture melted his heart.

Caterpie squeezed one eye shut as it whined softly, more like a child's whimper than anything Izuku had ever heard of coming from a bug.

"Hi." Izuku said as he continued stroking its head gently, "I'm Izuku. And you'll be Catty."

Instantly, Caterpie's eyes narrowed. A foul, spoiled cheese odor permeated the air as pink wisps of smoke dispersed from its glowing antennae in loops.

It wasn't until many hours later after Izuku and his angry (how rare!) mom had done what they could to rid the smell and calm down Caterpie enough so it would begrudgingly stop puffing out smoke did he cast an observe over the bug.

Oh.

It was a male.


Turned out that fondness he felt for Caterpie, who he now named Pie, was due to the master-pet relationship tying them together. All pets that he hatched would be tied to him like those blood bonds in games. He couldn't sell them, trade them, or give them away. They were like his children and they saw him as their parent.

Pie still seemed angry hours later during dinner. It barely touched the leaf Izuku placed in front of it, taking only a few bites in contrast to what its description entailed: "Caterpie has a big appetite and can eat up to 100 leaves a day."

And when Izuku tried to pet it, it avoided the hand with a sulky look in its eyes and dashed up the wall, clinging onto the ceiling using those suction cups on its feet. Inko thought it was cute and couldn't stop taking pictures of it, but Izuku could only sigh and stare at the inadequate stats.

Name: Pie
Title: Caterpie
Species: Worm Pokemon
Level: 1
Affection level: 0 (1 point required to level up)
Fullness points: 0
Enjoyment points: 0

Feeding gained Fullness points. Petting gained Enjoyment points.

Collect points to level up Affection. The higher the Affection level, the more love Caterpie held towards him.

And when Affection reached level two, he could start feeding it candies to level up so it could become stronger and evolve.

But first, he needed to figure out how to get it off the ceiling.

After dinner, he helped Inko clean the dishes. By the time he was done, Pie had gotten down the ceiling and the leaf was gone. When Izuku moved to wipe away the bit of leaf hanging out of its mouth, Pie turned its head away with a soft "hmph."

"Come on, let's get you washed up." Izuku picked it up gently and cradled it like a baby. Its skin was still sticky after hatching and there was no way Izuku would let it roam around the house getting slime everywhere. As he made his way towards the bathroom, he petted Pie while carefully avoiding its antennae. Pie's large black eyes were barely open, its whole body relaxing and practically melting in his arms. Izuku smiled fondly. "Hey, don't fall asleep yet. Just ten more minutes, 'kay?"

Pie mewled and nuzzled into Izuku's chest, its eyes almost completely shut. Reaching the door, Izuku nudged it open with his foot and placed Pie into the bathtub. He climbed onto the edge of the tub, holding the wall for balance as he pulled the shower head off of its holder. A heavy steam of water splattered onto the ceramic tiles as he turned the dial. The bottom of the tub quavered, causing Pie to jerk awake and curl into itself. Izuku quickly pressed the diverter, turning the dial on the shower head to the misting spray selection.

He washed away the sludge coating Pie's body as fast as he could after realizing it was afraid of the sound. Pie was already sound asleep when Izuku dried it with a towel and proceeded to carry it onto his bed. At that moment, Inko poked her head into his room.

"How's it doing?" She said as she came up to him, kneeling next to the bed and staring dotingly at the caterpillar, who was fast asleep on the red, blue, and yellow colored comforter.

"I don't think it likes me yet, but I'm working on it." Izuku glanced at its stats. "So far, I only earned one Fullness point, which leveled its Affection up to Level one. It may not be much, but at least it's eating and not starving itself. That makes me happy."

Inko ruffled his hair. "You're doing a great job taking care of it so far. Keep it up. It may be a bug, but it's still a part of our family. Be nice to it."

"Of course!"

Izuku blinked when two hands came up to his face and pinched his cheeks, stretching them slightly so as to not hurt him.

"But before taking care of others, first you need to take care of yourself." Inko let go of his cheeks and placed her hand on his back, gently nudging him towards the door and chuckling. "Go take a shower. You reek."

"Mom!" Izuku whined but did as he was told.

That night, he cuddled Pie as he slept. In the darkness, the smooth, squishy body of the caterpillar was his only comfort. Izuku held it against his chest but not too tight so he wouldn't cause it any discomfort. The hug was heavenly, warm and cozy, like the feeling of home and love and sunshine. Even as flashes of death tore his mind apart and pain flickered all over his body, the warmth seeping through his skin was enough to shove all that sensations away.

The nightmares may continue to haunt him, but as long as he had pie, everything would be okay. Together, there was nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. Because together, they were the strongest.

Chapter Text

Sunlight pierced through the opened window, providing the students with another source of vexation on top of staying in one spot and listening to their teacher's wearisome voice for an hour. Izuku lay his head on his folded arms, adjusting his position so the student to the left of him would block the incoming sun rays. Making sure Yama-sensei had his back turned towards the student as he wrote three English sentences on the board, Izuku pulled up his inventory and made a piece of Dippin Dots appear right inside his mouth.

The ice cream dot melted as soon as it touched his tongue. Mouth hidden behind his arms, Izuku kept his face passive as he swirled his tongue around his mouth before swallowing. He felt the coolness immediately, sliding down his throat and spreading throughout his body. He let out a content sigh.

Yama-sensei continued droning in the front of the classroom, not noticing a thing.

Kacchan continued glaring at him from a distance away, hopefully not noticing a thing.

And Gamu kicked his chair lightly from behind.

"Psst! Psss! Izuku!" He kicked the chair again. "Hey!"

"What?" Izuku hissed, barely moving his lips and keeping his eyes trained on the teacher.

"Give me some Dippin' Dots too. It's hot."

Izuku felt a finger poke his back. He reached out discreetly and accepted the a-hundred-yen placed on his palm. He closed his hand around it, and when he opened his hand, the coin was gone and was replaced by a bag of frozen Dippin' Dots.

"Nice." His friend grabbed the bag as swiftly as a cat would steal away its food. Moments later, Izuku could hear quiet munching noises from the seat behind him and he smiled.

Gamu was one of the classmates who befriended him after he started his part-time job as a Sweet Vendor. Perhaps it was due to his being the son of Princess Bubblegum, he had a pink, puffy, bob hairstyle and loved gum as much as Izuku loved Pie. He chewed gum during class every single day, no matter how many times he got caught and his hero mother was called into the school to be notified of his actions, he continued his belligerent behavior. Eventually, the teachers stopped calling him out. Whether because they were tired of having their class sessions interrupted every day and knew the boy would never change, or because Gamu's skills in discrete chewing had gotten higher, Izuku didn't know. But he did know that selling gum to Gamu would earn him money, even if those gum often ended up exploding and sticking to the back of his head.

As the person who could make all types of gum appear in his hand magically, without a doubt he became Gamu's best friend. The boy stuck to him like a piece of gum, following him everywhere he went, even to the restroom. It became a little annoying as time flew past, especially recently when he had stuff to do during break.

Swallowing another piece of Dippin' Dots, Izuku glanced at the inventory and winced when he saw the Caterpie icon quiver violently.

Three days had passed since Pie had hatched. In these three days, Izuku had managed to earn twelve points including the one Feeding point he earned on Sunday night. On Monday morning, Inko took him to see the doctor and confirm his quirk. He fed Pie before they left, only to find the house shrouded in foul, pink fog when they returned. Pie didn't like being left alone in the house, but they had no other choice. So when Izuku went to school, he would store it in his inventory and release it during breaks. Pie was still grumpy, as shown in the way its icon quivered like it was having a seizure, but it was starting to accept its new lifestyle and only quivered when break was near.

As predicted, the bell rang minutes later, signaling the end of class and the beginning of lunch. Yama-sensei let out a long sigh and trudged his way out of the door, grumbling about getting some coffee and painkillers.

Izuku grabbed his box lunch and made his way towards the door, intending to find an isolated spot to release Pie, only to halt when a figure skidded to a stop before him.

"I saw it!" The boy yelled, gold eyes flashing with amusement. He wiped away a strand of black hair that fell into his eyes from the speed of his movement and pointed his finger at Izuku, then at Gamu. "You gave him ice cream during class!"

Izuku stared at him for a while longer to remember his name.

Black hair, gold eyes…

Electricity.

Raiden. He remembered. That was the boy's name. Gamu's other best friend, local troublemaker, can shoot out tiny bolts of electricity from his fingertips, loves to zap people for fun. He was more Gamu's friend than Izuku's, but Izuku still maintained a healthy relationship with him.

"If you don't want me to tell Yama-sensei, then give me some for free," Raiden quipped, a smirk playing on his lips.

"Same to you," Izuku replied. Raiden blinked confusedly. "The principal's still looking for the culprit who killed his fish. I remember seeing a certain someone sneak into his office when he was away and messing with his fish tank—"

"Ahhhhh shut up shut up shaddup!" Raiden waved his hands around frantically, his face instantly turning ashen. "W-What are you talking about! Aha...haha I... I have no idea what you're talking about. Uhhh... I have to go, yeah, I gotta go!"

Izuku and Gamu laughed as Raiden bolted away, brushing past Kacchan on his way out of the classroom. Even though Izuku didn't interact with the boy much, every interaction they did have always ended in a mirthful manner.

Their laughter was cut short when Kacchan stormed up to Izuku with his hands stuffed in his pockets, scowling and slouching like a delinquent.

"Deku!"

"Yes!" Izuku responded, his body straightening up almost in reflex. Kacchan had been a little nicer to him ever since he started selling sweets and became the center of attention in his class. And after Izuku revealed his quirk to the class after his clinic visit on Monday, Kacchan talked to him even less, only glaring at him from afar.

"I heard about last Saturday."

"O-Oh?"

...Oh.

Kacchan paused for a minute at least, his features scrunched up like he was having an inner conflict. "So you finally got a quirk, eh? Metal Control? Lame. Not flashy at all. With a quirk like that, you're still weaker than me, Deku."

Out of the corner of his eyes, Izuku caught Gamu clenching his fist and lips curling in fury.

"How did you get your quirk, I wonder? What exactly happened to you at—"

"Kacchan." Izuku grimaced. "I don't want to talk about that right now. If you're just here to insult me, then can we do it later? I'm busy."

"I'm not here to—"

Izuku tuned him out, standing up and walking past Bakugo, leaving the classroom.


After making sure Gamu wasn't following him, Izuku stopped by the side of the school building where many bushes resided. He glanced around just to be extra cautious then dived into the bushes, releasing Pie.

"Pff~" It released a small wisp of pink smoke as soon as it got out. Already expecting this act of rebellion, Izuku held his breath and jumped back, waiting for the odor to clear. Few seconds later, he exhaled heavily and picked up Pie, who squirmed slightly in protest.

"I know, I know. Sorry, you know I can't leave you at home or let you roam around by yourself. It's too dangerous. What if someone finds out?" Izuku soothed in a soft voice as he petted its head. Pie nuzzled against his hand, eyes closing in bliss. "I can't have you get hurt. You're important to me, Pie. So please just endure this. I promise I'll feed you your favorite vermilion flower sometimes, maybe this weekend. I'll get you as many as you want, but in return, you'll have to stay still during my school hours. Deal?"

"Coo~"

+1 Enjoyment Point

Seeing that cute smile always warmed his heart. Izuku brought it closer to a bush with large leaves and set it on the ground. "Here you go. There's your lunch. Eat as many as you want. Make sure you're full." As Pie dug its head into the leaves and started chewing away, Izuku sat down next to the bush and opened up his own box lunch.

Lunch was quiet and peaceful, just the way Izuku liked it. He missed his friends' chatters at YHP, but eating by himself sometimes wasn't so bad. The side of the school was shaded by the building that blocked the sun. Cool breeze ruffled his hair, sneaking into his shirt and puffing it up slightly. Izuku closed his eyes and embraced the wind that whistled past his ears. He took a deep breath that smell like trees and nature and freedom, and let it out slowly, all his stress seemed to exit through his mouth along with the air. It was instances like this that made Izuku wish he had a quirk that could freeze time. Maybe he could get one in the future. Maybe.

Glancing at his watch, Izuku began packing away the lunch box at a moderate pace. He had ten minutes before the end of lunch. He could make it.

"Pie? Pieee? It's time to go."

Few seconds later, Pie wiggled out of the bush, small pieces of leaves hanging out of its mouth. Izuku chuckled as he helped wipe them away.

+1 Fullness Point

"Come on, let's go." Izuku held out his hand, but Pie shook its head, staring hard at the ground with eyes that seemed to be tearing up. Izuku tried again. "Come on, we made a deal, remember? I'd buy you vermilion flower if you behaved. We only have a few hours left. I'll try to release you during break between the classes. So come on, time to go into the Inventory."

Still hesitant, Pie shuffled forward begrudgingly. It almost touched Izuku's hand before a yell came out of nowhere, causing it to jerk back.

"HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT MONSTROUS THING!?"

Izuku immediately recognized the voice. How could he not, after all these years of hearing insult after insult from that voice? He could feel his heartbeat picking up as he turned and yelled, "No, Kacchan—"

It was too late.

"Get away from that monster, Deku!"

Izuku didn't expect the intensity of the explosion that was thrown at him. Kacchan had tried to intimidate him with explosions before, but those were all small blasts and sparks. Something like this—Izuku could feel the rush of heat assaulting his skin before it even hit him—was done with killer intent behind it.

Izuku rolled out of his way in reflex, only realizing after he had dodged that the explosion wasn't aimed at him. Kacchan didn't like him, but he would never kill Izuku. There could only be one target.

Alarm ringing in his ears, Izuku sprung onto his feet, breath hitching as the smoke cleared, revealing the charred ground before him. His body turned cold, limbs stiffened, noises muffled, and his gut churned as the metallic smell of blood reached his nose.

Chunks of green and red decorated the scorched ground like some kind of sick, Christmas joke. By his feet lay a segment of Pie's separated body, staining the grass. Its eyes, wide with the fear of its final moments, bore unseeingly into Izuku, as if questioning him, why didn't you save me? Why did you leave me here?

Izuku's hand shook. He almost touched Pie. He could have saved it. But he didn't. He only cared about himself and didn't bother bringing Pie with him when he dodged.

Crack.

Something inside him broke. The sound of glass shattering echoed in the dark corner of his mind. His vision turned red, like blood. The grass, the sky, the remains, all stained with blood. Pie's blood.

But in a second, everything turned back to normal. And then… Again. For a second. His world was stained with blood and continued switching back and forth like a glitch in the game.

A notification popped up and Izuku dismissed it without even reading what it said. His gaze trailed from the blood on the ground to the culprit behind it all.

Something roared inside of him like a raging beast, thrashing against the chains that kept it contained, hungry for destruction. Anger boiled in his system, as hot as lava, causing blood to rush to his head and building up a heavy pressure between his pounding eardrums. His feet turned cold, his hands twitching violently like a lunatic itching to wrap his fingers around that pale, fragile neck and squeeze it until his anger ran out.

Izuku didn't know how many minutes he had spent just standing still, staring at the murderer with ashen blond hair, a gleeful smirk on his face, and taunting red eyes, burning it all to his memory and not leaving out a single detail. His vision continued to flash in shortening intervals, faster and faster. And soon, the world was completely red.

More notifications popped up and Izuku dismissed them as well and instead focused on suppressing his anger. He was fully aware of the dozens of dark thoughts whispering in his mind and the repercussions of him acting upon those voices. He could end up saying things he didn't mean or doing stuff he had been fantasizing for years. It would feel good, but surely, he would regret it later on.

"What are you looking at, idiot!" Bakugo's bitter voice jerked him out of focus. The raging waves of anger came rushing back at full force. "I just saved your life! Do you know what would have happened if a bug that big bites you!? It was so close to your hand! You should have been more careful, Deku! Like I said, even if you have a quirk now, you're still weaker than me! How would you defeat that with Metal Control, huh? Pull down an airplane from the sky and smash into it!? Don't make me laugh!"

"Bakugo…" Izuku whispered, his body trembling like never before. He clenched his hands into tight fists, not even feeling the pain as his nails broke skin. The red darkened. Morality and heroic qualities thrown out of the window, only one thought remained on his mind.

He wanted this person to feel pain.

"Eat shit, asshole!"

"The f—!" Bakugo began but was silenced as a Pile of Poop landed right into his mouth.

Ignoring the retching sound from his currently most hated person in the entire universe, Izuku took out the security alarm from the inventory—the first birthday gift Bakugo had ever given him—and threw it at Bakugo with as much force as he could muster before running back to the school, stepping into the classroom at the same time the bell rang.


Bakugo didn't come back to the classroom. Yama-sensei asked if anyone knew where he was but no one spoke up. Gamu nudged Izuku with his foot, saying how he was pretty sure Bakugo followed him out of the classroom, but Izuku merely shook his head because he didn't trust his voice at the moment. He was trying his hardest to hold back his sobs, and if he were to speak right now, tears would probably flow out along with his words.

He kept his head down as class began. The ringing in his ears was gone and his vision stopped flashing red. The anger dissipated and only then did he feel the pain when his nails broke skin. Not wanting to cause a scene, he merely licked the wounds and bandaged them with a few band-aids from the bazaar. The blood tasted like metal and reminded Izuku of that times when he had to get his teeth pulled at the dentist. He swallowed thickly and washed down the taste with a few mouthful of water, but the saltiness still remained.

Izuku pulled up the notifications he dismissed earlier and glanced at one of them, trying to read what it said but somehow the words couldn't reach his brain. By the time he had read the same sentence three times, he gave up and folded his arms on the desk, hiding his face behind them.

Thousands of emotions ran through him, but the one that stood out was disappointment.

Ever since he first met Bakugo, Izuku thought the blond, daring kid was cool, and amazing, and strong, like a hero. He could do so many things little Izuku never dared to do, like standing up for himself when confronted by a group of older kids. Bakugo was strong and he always won, just like All Might. When Izuku thought of victory, he thought of All Might's signature grin and Bakugo's confident smirk. Izuku wanted to be just as strong as Bakugo. He looked up to him, befriended and followed him around, hoping that one day he would become just like Bakugo and be one step closer to reaching All Might.

Bakugo was as strong as a hero.

But he was no hero.

And Izuku was disappointed at him for not inheriting heroic qualities. He was also disappointed at himself for choosing the wrong role model.

Half way through the lesson, Bakugo barged through the door with enough force to topple a bull. His head was tilted down but his furious, red eyes were glowering straight ahead with so much hatred and fury behind them, scowling at the class and settling down on Izuku. Bakugo gritted his teeth as smoke seeped out of the hand that was clenched onto the door frame. He was seething as if he were about to start a fight with Izuku right in the middle of class before turning to Yama-sensei as if he just realized the teacher was here.

"Bakugo-kun, please go back to your seat. You're already late. Don't interrupt the class and get yourself in more trouble," said Yama-sensei in his usual, dull voice. He didn't seem to like Bakugo very much.

Bakugo glared at the teacher for a few second before slamming the door shut and marching back to his seat. As he stormed past Izuku, Izuku could smell the distinct odor of feces in the air and he had to suppress a giggle. Revenge was sweet.

The class session continued in this tense atmosphere. Everyone was visibly rigid and afraid to even move a muscle, as if the tiniest little sound would tick off Bakugo.

When class ended, Yama-sensei collected his stuff and told Bakugo to meet him in the staff's room before exiting the classroom.

The moment the door slid shut, Bakugo jumped out of his seat before anyone could make a move and charged towards Izuku, grabbing his collar and lifting him off of the ground before he could make an escape.

"Deku! What the fuck's your problem!?" Bakugo screamed in his face.

Their noses inches apart, the foul smell of feces was even more obvious. Izuku held his breath so he wouldn't inhale Bakugo's breath, but that turned out to be the wrong move. Bakugo noticed, and his face darkened even more if possible. His eyes narrowed into slits, his lips curling into a twisted sneer.

"You dare to hold your breath, huh!? Whose fault is this!? I tried to save you and you—"

"Back off!"

Bakugo was suddenly pushed off of him by no other than Gamu. Pink eyes glaring straight at red eyes defiantly, Gamu stood his ground in front of Izuku like a bodyguard, as sturdy as a statue, while chewing a piece of gum.

"Take your disgusting hands off of him, Bakugo." Gamu spit the name as if it tasted awful in his mouth. "By the way, has anyone ever told you that your breath reeks?"

"You little shit…" Bakugo glowered, a cruel smile climbing onto his face as he pulled back his right arm.

"Watch out!" Izuku cried in surprise before the explosion slammed into Gamu's face, the force shattering the window behind them but, to his surprise, Gamu stood unmoving. Guarding his face was a pink net made of bubblegum, which had taken the full blow of the attack.

"It'd take more than that to harm me," Gamu taunted as he chewed the gum a few times before blowing a big, pink bubble and merging it into the net, adding on to its elasticity and strength.

"Move out of my fucking way. This is between me and Deku!"

More and more explosions hit the net but none could penetrate it. Some even got deflected back to Bakugo and the rest of the class, turning the classroom into a warzone. Students screamed and duck beneath their desks. Some cowered in the corners and some ran out to call the teacher.

Being shielded by Gamu, Izuku didn't need to hide. His current spot was the safest location in this classroom.

It didn't take long for the teachers to arrive and stop the fight. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Bakugo was the perpetrator and Gamu was only defending himself, thus he was only asked a few questions as Yama-sensei tried to figure out the situation before he was let off hook. Bakugo, on the other hand, was yelled at harshly by the usually calm and collected Yama-sensei and the Principal and was then jostled —as he writhed in the hold— into the staff room for further reprimanding.

After he left, classmates crowded around Izuku eager to find out the reason behind this pandemonium. The moment the words "He killed my pet" left his mouth, tears started streaming down his cheeks like a waterfall, hitting the desk with enough force to topple it over. At first he clamped his mouth shut, but soon a sob escape his tightly sealed lips, then another, and before he realized, he was bawling his eyes out in front of all his classmates. Heat rushed to his cheeks in embarrassment. There was a dull thudding in the back of his head, as if a hammer was slamming against his skull. His vision swayed, toppling him off balance.

He was caught by Gamu who rushed to his side, followed by the rest of his classmates. Multiple voices surrounded him, trying to comfort him and make him feel better. Some even suggested to beat the living sunlight out of Bakugo for committing murder. Feeling a little claustrophobic being surrounded by so many people, although he felt warm inside hearing all those comforting words, Izuku excused himself and left the classroom, hoping to collect himself in the infirmary.

The nurse ended up excusing him for the day. Izuku rode his bike home and ran up to his room, jumping onto his bed and muffling his sobs with his pillow. Inko was at work so the house was empty, allowing him to wail as loud as he want. He cried and cried until he couldn't produce any more tears and slowly fell asleep with saltiness in his mouth.


School was over. Teachers and most of the students have left the school, but one class remained seated in their respective seats. All the students had a livid expression, barely suppressing their wrath.

In the front of the classroom stood a boy with a pink, puffy, bob hairstyle and pink eyes. He scanned his eyes across the faces of every individual classmates, save for one Izuku and Bakugo.

Closing his eyes, Gamu took in a deep breath before declaring.

"We're going to make Bakugo pay."

Chapter Text

Rain splashed onto his cheeks, seeping down his neck and disappearing into his dirtied uniform. Dirty blond hair whipped around with the wind, Katsuki stood on the outer edge of the railing, unfocused eyes staring past his toes at the hard cement so, so far away. He clenched onto the wet railing tightly, fingers going numb and teeth clattering in the cold. He wasn't afraid of height, but on a stormy day like this where he couldn't produce any sweat to fuel his explosions, a slip of foot could end his short, unsatisfying life.

Trembling hands fumbling with the grip as he turned so he was facing the railing. Katsuki closed his eyes and took in a deep shaky breath to mentally prepare himself. As the rain continued beating down on his back like some kind of lashing, he opened his eyes...

And let go.


Katsuki didn't hate Deku. Many people seemed to think the opposite, including his two sidekicks.

He met Deku when he was three. Their mothers were great friends and they went to the same preschool. So as a result, they met and became friends. It was fun at first. Deku agreed with everything he said which did wonders to his ego. Deku also sucked at everything Katsuki could do, which made him feel even better about himself.

Then they turned four and Katsuki got his quirk. It was an amazing, powerful quirk perfect for a hero—everyone said so. He was destined to become a strong hero and no one could deny that. Deku, however, never received a quirk. He still followed Katsuki around and remained as an ego booster, but slowly his presence started to annoy Katsuki.

Katsuki had no intention of hanging out with a quirkless loser. He wanted to become strong; how could he do that when he let a weakling tag along everywhere he went? He couldn't become stronger by hanging out with weaklings. They would only drag him down as deadweight. It was the nature of survival.

He started ignoring Deku, hoping to get his point across without having to outright say it. When Deku still followed him around with that stupid, hopeful smile like a loyal puppy dog, Katsuki started vocalizing his thoughts. He taunted Deku, insulted, and intimidated him, hoping this would end this meaningless friendship. But no matter what he did, he couldn't get Deku off his tail.

Then something happened. Something obviously happened to Deku. Because all of a sudden, he sat up straighter, talked with his head held high, and wasn't afraid to voice his opinions during classroom discussions. On top of that, he could do magic tricks. The useless Deku that he knew of would never be able to learn magic tricks and develop that charisma which he used to bewitch everyone in the class to becoming his friend. This social butterfly couldn't be Deku.

Katsuki felt betrayed. Deku was supposed to be his loyal puppy dog, yet now he wouldn't follow him anymore. That nerd didn't even have to move or speak to make people flock around him like flies begging to see more magic tricks and buy sweets from him. Deku wasn't a follower now; people followed him.

On top of that, what truly pissed him off was the fact that his two sidekicks also joined in this absurdity and no longer listened to what he had to say. When he tried insulting Deku like normal, they would stand on the side and look away, and sometimes they even dared to step in and tell him to stop.

Whatever that happened to Deku had turned his whole class against him. Katsuki was frustrated and wanted answers.

Since then, he would constantly watch Deku, trying to figure him out. He knew if he outright asked the nerd, he wouldn't get any answers, or rather, honest answers, so he would observe from the back and wait for Deku to slip up.

But before that could happen, he heard from Mitsuki that Deku was at AMAP when it got attacked. Katsuki had watched it on the news and could tell the severity of the attack without having to be there physically. Even now, he couldn't get the terrified cries of the burning humans out of his mind. He could only imagine what it'd be like for timid little Deku.

On Monday, Deku wasn't at school in the morning and Katsuki instantly began panicking. What if a villain got him and he was severely injured? He may think Deku was an annoying loser, but he still grew up with that nerd and—no matter how much he tried to deny it—would definitely be affected if something did happen to him.

And then Deku showed up during lunch waving around a quirk diagnosis paper and yelling about how he had a quirk now. When he turned and beamed at Katsuki as if saying "I have a quirk now, sucker," all concern Katsuki had ever felt for him vanished without a trace.

He felt like an idiot for worrying about Deku when all this time Deku was laughing and celebrating his quirk manifestation. He should have known the nerd would be fine. A loser like him would run away at the first sign of danger. Him being severely injured was just absurd.

But despite his denial, a small part of him that saw Deku as more than a mere loser still held onto that string of concern. And that led him to noticing the tight-lipped smile when his classmates asked Deku about the incident, and the averted gaze when he was encouraged to share his story behind his quirk. Something definitely happened to the nerd at that amusement park, something that led to him developing a quirk.

But what was it? What happened to Deku on Saturday? Why was Deku hesitant to explain the situation that led to his quirk manifesting? And what exactly happened to Deku that caused him to change so drastically?

Katsuki was desperate for answers, so desperate to the point where he thought about asking Deku directly, even if the answer may not be genuine. He just wanted to get something out of the nerd.

But he didn't have a chance. Whenever break hit, Deku would either be flocked by his classmates eager to see his quirk (even some from the other classes joined in wanting to see the quirkless kid's quirk), or he would have ran off somewhere by himself.

So Katsuki waited, and waited... Wednesday hit and everyone's curiosity finally died down, and he finally found his opportunity.

It was lunch time and Deku was talking to gold-eyes and pinkhead. No one else. Perfect timing.

Katsuki stormed his way over when gold-eyes ran away yelling about fish or some bullshit.

"Deku!" He yelled and Deku instantly responded like a well-trained soldier. "I heard about last Saturday."

"O-Oh?" Deku looked down and began fidgeting with his hands. He was nervous.

Katsuki paused deliberately, thinking his questions over in his mind. If he asked too directly Deku might not answer, so he had to be discreet, and roundabout. He finally decided on his usual insults, to let down Deku's guards first.

"So you finally got a quirk, eh? Metal Control? Lame. Not flashy at all. With a quirk like that, you're still weaker than me, Deku."

Deku showed no visible response, so Katsuki continued probing in his condescending tone.

"How did you get your quirk, I wonder? What exactly happened to you at—"

"Kacchan." Izuku grimaced. "I don't want to talk about that right now. If you're just here to insult me, then can we do it later? I'm busy."

As he expected, Deku avoided the subject. Dammit, was that still too direct?

"I'm not here to—"

He tried explaining and getting Deku back out of his shell, but the nerd just stood up and walked out of the classroom, not even sparing him a glance. The nerve of him!

Kasuki immediately ran after him but was stopped by a hand on his arm.

"What do you want with him?"

Katsuki glared at pinkhead and shrugged off the hand, snarling, "Mind your own business, loser."

The loser glared back as if that would stop Katsuki from chasing after Deku.

Katsuki then spent the entire lunch period searching for Deku. He went to all the usual spots but the nerd was nowhere in sight. His stomach grumbled in hunger but he didn't stop for a lunch break. Concern and curiosity gnawed his mind more than his need for food.

Katsuki hated not knowing things. Not knowing meant he couldn't be prepared, and he was the type to prepare meticulously before each event so he wouldn't risk not knowing something he was supposed to know, or not bringing something he was supposed to bring. If there was one thing Katsuki couldn't stand, it'd be humiliation.

He needed to know what the hell happened to the nerd for the small part of him deep down that still held onto a fragment of friendship throughout these years, and for the sake of his curiosity. Katsuki was never good with questions. If he didn't know something, he would figure the fuck out. Bottling up his curiosity was just not his thing. Only a coward would be satisfied with not knowing because he was too afraid to ask.

He found the nerd ten minutes before lunch would end. Deku was hiding next to the side of the building where many bushes resided.

Katsuki's first instinct was to mock him for failing to escape from him, and then his eyes fell on the monster.

That thing had to be at least a foot long. Standing up, it could reach Deku's fucking knees. It was a giant, flaccid, squirmy green caterpillar. When it moved Katsuki could clearly see the way each segment of its body shifted against each other like a perfect cogwheel interlacement.

He shivered, goosebumps erupting all over his skin in disgust. His body turned cold with horror when that monster inched towards Deku's outstretched hand. Instincts took over him and Katsuki moved before he even realized what he was doing.

"HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT MONSTROUS THING!?"

Deku yelled something but the explosion had already left his hands. It hit the monster head on, and Katsuki let out a victorious grin when he saw its body blowing into pieces.

Anyone who messes with Deku is messing with me. Only I can mess with him.

The huge explosion had taken a toll on him. Katsuki had never tried an explosion to this degree and his hands shook from the lasting effect it had on him. He could feel the sharp sting immediately after the explosion left his hands. Numbness spread from his palms up to his elbows, kind of like how he sat on the toilet for too long and his legs went all numb. And then add a colony of fire ants to that. This was a thousand times worse than when he and Deku went out exploring the forest and accidentally stepped on a fire ant hill. Ah. Good times.

Gritting his teeth in pain, Katsuki dropped his arms to his sides and turned his attention to Deku.

The nerd was staring at the ground in total loss like he was betrayed by the world. Yeah right. As if he would know what betrayal felt like.

He then stood up, hunched back and swaying slightly, and shifted his gaze onto Katsuki.

And Katsuki had to force himself not to flinch. He had never seen Deku show even a tiny bit of hatred towards anyone, not even when some dumbass middle schoolers mugged him of his precious hero collection cards back when they were four. Yet, in those eyes that were burning through his flesh, the hatred and raw anger were so strong and terrifying if he didn't know Deku he would've believed they belonged to a vindictive serial killer.

When Deku didn't speak but continued drilling into his souls, Katsuki finally found his voice and broke the silence.

"What are you looking at, idiot!" Deku blinked. "I just saved your life! Do you know what would have happened if a bug that big bites you!? It was so close to your hand! You should have been more careful, Deku! Like I said, even if you have a quirk now, you're still weaker than me! How would you defeat that with Metal Control, huh? Pull down an airplane from the sky and smash into it!? Don't make me laugh!"

"Bakugo…" Deku whispered, his whole body trembling like a druggie's addiction kicking in.

Katsuki waited. He wasn't expecting a thank you, considering the way Deku had just looked at him for the past minutes. But of all things he didn't expect Deku to burst out in profanities.

"Eat shit, asshole!"

That naive, cowardly, weak little Deku just fucking cursed!?

"The f—!" Katsuki began but was silenced as something landed right into his mouth.

The foul smell hit him immediately and Katsuki doubled over, spitting out the shit along with everything in his stomach.

What the fuck?

What the actual fuck!?

Tears glazed over his eyes as he vomited until he could taste stomach acid in his abused throat. He then fell back and backpedaled from the disgusting pile of... grossiness. He breathed through his mouth heavily, the taste of shit remained, making him want to kill himself right there and then.

Disgusting.

Utterly disgusting.

Katsuki fucking hated the smell of shit.

He didn't know what the fuck Deku did (probably some freaky magic shit) but he was so fucking dead. Katsuki wanted answers. And he wanted them now.

Powered by rage and an urge for revenge, Katsuki picked up the thing Deku threw at him without identifying it and sprinted into the school, noting how the hallways were empty as he locked himself in a restroom. The bell must have rang a while ago when he was retching. Fucking Deku. It was all his fault. And now Katsuki had a mar on his perfect attendance record. Fuck.

He rinsed out his mouth using some handwash, gargled, spat out, and repeated the process. Thirty minutes later he finally deemed his mouth clean enough (though the taste lingered in his mind) and ran back into the classroom.

The entire class paused to stare at him. He glanced around until his eyes landed on Deku. The nerd was back to that innocent and ignorant look, wide eyed and feared expression and all. The toxic hatred from earlier was gone from his clear, emerald eyes. Now, he looked like a poor lamb waiting to be slaughtered by big bad Katsuki.

Katsuki wanted nothing more than to beat the shit out of the nerd at this moment but his violent urges were halted by the presence of their homeroom teacher.

Begrudgingly, he went to his seat and proceeded to glare at the back of Deku's head for the remainder of the class.

Time went by excruciatingly slow. Katsuki found himself glancing back and forth from Deku's head, to the clock, to Baldie-sensei's bald spot, to the black board, and back to Deku's head.

Finally, after he couldn't help but accidentally singe the edges of his textbook due to the heavy grip he had on it, the bell rang signaling the end of this torture session.

The moment Baldie-sensei left after telling him to head towards the staff room—that fucker—Katsuki sprang out of his seat and appeared in front of Izuku, grabbing onto his collar and screamed, "Deku! What the fuck's your problem!?"

Then that fucking nerd dared to puff out his cheeks holding his breath—how fucking dare he!—and Katsuki felt all the emotions he had been holding back blow up in his mind, his face burning up in embarrassment and a sneer marring his face.

He tried making Deku see reasons but then that pinkhead just had to interrupt him. Whatthefuckever was his problem, always stopping Katsuki from getting his way. What was his name again? Gum? The loser who always followed around Deku and loved to interrupt the class with his annoying chewing.

"By the way, has anyone ever told you that your breath reeks?"

Katsuki's face reddened even more if possible.

How dare he... embarrass me like this...

"You little shit…" Bakugo growled and pulled back his right arm, ready to punch his face in and then we'll see who's boss. Heh.

To his surprise that pink bastard turned his bubblegum into some kind of net and shielded himself from the explosions. That only made Katsuki even more furious as he released explosions after explosions, completely forgotten about the fact that he was still at school. None of his attacks could penetrate that blasted net and instead rebounded back towards him. He dodged, letting most hit the classroom while some inevitably hit him, scorching some of his clothes and skin. Panicked cries of his classmates reached his ears but Katsuki couldn't care less at the moment. He just wanted to wipe that annoying, haunty smirk off of that pinkhead's face and get him out of the way so he could speak with Deku.

Katsuki wasn't surprised to find himself restrained by two teachers few moments later. He had expected it but didn't think they would come so soon. Having his arms held behind his back by an obviously struggling baldie-sensei, Katsuki thrashed and growled as he was forced into the staff room. He knew this incident would ruin his perfect school record, but his perfect attendance record was already broken which meant his chance of being accepted into UA had just dwindled significantly, so why not just go all out and destroy everything? Katsuki was tired of constantly bottling up his emotions and dealing with all those losers he couldn't give two shits about. It was about time he lashed out and showed them who's boss. To hell with his record. He would find another way to get into UA.

The teachers yelled at him for who knew how long and then jostled him into the principal's office so he could receive even more yelling while they waited for his parents to arrive; Katsuki ignored them the entire time and instead found the dead fish floating in the fishtank rather entertaining to watch.

About half an hour later, his parents barged through the door, frantic eyes quickly landing on him. Katsuki didn't know what to expect. The only other time he got in trouble and his parents were called into the school was back when he was in kindergarten and accidentally set Deku's hair on fire. His parents didn't seem very mad at him, only a slight scolding and an apology to Deku and his mother, then he was let off the hook. Easy peasy.

It shouldn't be much different this time. He would just tell them how Dek— Izuku made him eat shit (of course, he would make it sound less awful) and he was just getting revenge, and that pinkhead refused to move out of his way. His parents should defend him. He had faith in them.

Katsuki remained in his spot, sitting on the fancy couches in the principal's office, as he watched his parents make their way over to him. It should be about now that his mom slapped him in the head for causing a scene and then started defending him while rubbing the spot she just hit...

"We're so sorry."

What!?

Katsuki widened his eyes. The expected slap didn't come.

Mitsuki and Masaru bowed low and apologized towards the principal, who began blabbering about how Katsuki was the worst student he had ever seen, how he had caused trouble for his class, how he would not accept this kind of behavior no longer, and how as parents they needed to educate him better.

That fucking bastard.

Who the fuck did he think he was!? Educate him!? That shitty excuse of a principal was in no place to tell his parents how to educate their son.

"That's not what happened!" He ended up yelling and interrupting the rant. Katsuki jumped out of the couch and tried explaining to his parents. "I didn't attack my classmates on purpose! It's all De— Izuku! It's all his fault! He made me eat—"

"Katsuki."

Came Masaru's stern voice. The serious look his dad threw him ate all his unspoken words. Katsuki froze in his spot. He had never seen his gentle and forgiving dad look so... grim before. And to be honest, it scared him.

Katsuki kept his mouth shut for the rest of the conversation. He merely watched with tightly clenched fists as the principal continued badmouthing him and his parents apologized and took the insults to their faces. He didn't like seeing his parents act so cowardly and bow like they were peasants and this principal was their king or some shit. It annoyed him to no end. But he knew now wasn't the time for him to argue, not when his mom had thick, dark circles under her tired eyes looking as if she would keel over any second, or when his dad was clenching his trousers so hard his knuckles turned white as he endured the shameful insults.

He was quiet the entire way home. They got off the car in silence. He and Mitsuki entered house first while Masaru went to park the car.

"Mom..." Katsuki said once the door clicked shut. He looked up at his mother; her haunted, ghastly eyes stared back at him. He wanted to explain to her what happened today, but first thing first. He needed to know what happened. "Mom, is everything oka—"

SLAP!

The force behind the slap caused his head to snap sharply to the right. Katsuki gasped as he staggered, using the wall for balance in order to stay on his feet. His cheeks stung and he gingerly touched it, the skin flaming hot under his fingertips.

"You stupid brat! You just had to pick today, don't you!" Mitsuki screamed, her features contorting into a face that reminded him strongly of a cartoon villain who used to give him nightmares when he was really, really small. Her lips was pulled down into a deep frown, wrinkles gathering around her mouth making her age and stress even more apparent. Without waiting for his reply, she raced upstairs and locked herself in her room, slamming the door close.

Few moments later, Masaru entered the house. He saw Katsuki holding his cheeks standing still by the doorway and he sighed.

"You okay, son?" He asked softly, ruffling Katsuki's fuzzy blond hair.

Katsuki snapped out of his daze and nodded silently.

"Let me see."

His dad pulled his hand away gently and observed his swollen cheek. He sighed again and gestured for Katsuki to follow him into the living room. Sitting down on the couch, Katsuki waited for his dad to come back with an ice pack. Idly swinging his legs, he kept his eyes trained on the photographs framed on the wall directly across him. That was taken about a year ago when Deku came over for his birthday party. He had brought a giant marshmallow castle (gods knew where he got that) and tripped over a bump in the carpet, falling onto Katsuki and causing hundreds of marshmallow to land on them. After a messy clutter of limbs, Katsuki managed to stand up only to step on a squishy marshmallow and fall on top of Deku in return. That got everyone laughing and Mitsuki snapped a picture in midst of the mayhem.

Things were so much fun back then, so what exactly had changed? Why was Deku avoiding him and keeping secrets when he used to follow him around wherever he went? Why was his mom hitting him, like actually hitting him, and being so pissed off at him when he was the one who wanted to cry for having shit in his mouth? Why couldn't things stay the same? Katsuki used to find Deku's constant following to be infuriating; now, he yearned to go back to that time, for Deku to follow him and smile at him again. He didn't want to see anger and hatred in those clear, emerald eyes; he wanted the admiration and compassion to return.

At some point, Masaru returned with a pack of ice and a towel and told him to hold it against his cheek. The swollen had lessened hours later, but the stinging pain still remained. His dad had explained to him the reason behind Mitsuki's behavior. It was this morning when they received news that his aunt, Mitsuki's younger sister, had died in a car crash. Katsuki had only seen this aunt once when she visited them from America, so he didn't know her enough to feel any sorrow regarding her death. But this wasn't the case for Mitsuki. She grew up with her younger sister and she was her only living family member (aside from her husband and son) after her parents passed away. Losing her probably shattered her world.

Katsuki was still a little mad at Mitsuki for hitting him, but he could understand where she was coming from. To receive a phone call about her son causing trouble in school not long after hearing about her younger sister's death probably didn't clash well with her current mentality. That explained why she would lash out and hit him, actually hurting him, for the first time in his life.

By the time dinner rolled around, the swelling had almost disappeared completely. The ice pack he held against his cheek was now warm and completely melted. Katsuki returned it to the freezer and made his way to the dinner table where Masaru had cooked a feast for them. Mitsuki refused to leave her room so they could only eat by themselves and then save her portion for when she regained her appetite.

Masaru was a great cook. Perhaps he hoped some good food could lift up everyone's spirit, he prepared a table full of Katsuki and Mitsuki's favorite dish. But even as a plate full of his favorite Level 8 spicy curry was placed in front of him, Katsuki felt no different from before. The curry was tasteless, the spiciness barely affecting him, if not at all. He couldn't stop his brain from thinking and worrying so he could actually enjoy his food. But seeing Masaru's hopeful eyes glinting at him, he still swallowed a mouthful and praised, "Not bad, dad."

After that, he took a shower and did his homework, stopping by his parents' bedroom before going to sleep. His hand raised to knock the door, Katsuki paused when he heard voices and sobbing from inside.

He stood there for a long time, listening to Mitsuki's sobbing and Masaru's soothing whispers before lowering his hand and returning to his room.

Katsuki had intended to apologize, but he realized that a mere apology probably wouldn't make Mitsuki feel any better. It was times like this that action meant more than words. What his mom needed right now wasn't an effortless apology, but solitary time to herself so she could get over her younger sister's death. The best way to apologize to her was act as a better son and stop causing trouble.

Lying on his bed, Katsuki thought about everything that happened today and closed his eyes. He didn't know what would happen tomorrow, but no matter what, he would grit his teeth and endure it. For the first time in his life, Katsuki was willing to become a coward and give in to whatever that came his way. Because his mom was already stressed enough, she didn't need him to add more aggravation to her day.

Chapter Text

Mitsuki still wasn't talking to him when he woke up the next morning. Usually she'd already be up and either cooking or eating breakfast (depending on whose turn it was to cook this week), but when Katsuki left his room this morning, her bedroom door was still tightly closed and the aroma of fish coming from downstairs told him that it was his dad who cooked breakfast this morning, since he loved traditional Japanese breakfast while Mitsuki loved the western kind.

Breakfast was quiet. Masaru asked him what happened yesterday. Katsuki told him everything, including the possibility of Deku using his magic trick to dump shit in his mouth. His dad stayed quiet as he listened, only speaking up after Katsuki was done talking.

"Izuku's mother called me early this morning. She told me what happened in Izuku's perspective. I understand you wanting to protect Izuku, but your rash tendency caused you to act without thinking. Indeed Izuku shouldn't have... done that to you, but you're also at fault."

Katsuki fumed.

"Katsuki, when you get the chance, make sure you apologize—"

"Why should I apologize first!?"

"Because someone has to start. Inko told me that Izuku isn't feeling so well and he won't be going to school today. His pet just died, Katsuki. That's not so easy to get over with."

"It's just a freaking caterpillar!"

"To you it may be just a caterpillar. But to Izuku it's different." Masaru sighed and placed a hand on Katsuki's folded arms across the table. "Katsuki, please, don't make this too hard on us."

Katsuki shook his head. He was the one who was attacked. Why the hell did he have to apologize FIRST? If someone had to, it should be Deku!

A few minute later, after realizing Katsuki wasn't about to relent, Masaru withdrew his hand and palmed his forehead. "We'll talk about this after school. Just... Go to school now."

Katsuki grunted in response. He finished the rest of his breakfast in a hurry and then grabbed his bag. Before he left, he asked, just out of curiosity, "Are you going to work today?"

"No, there's a lot of things we have to take care of today, like funeral for Aunt Misaki. Your mom hasn't gotten out of her shock yet so I need to stay with her. Make sure you don't get in any trouble today, okay? It won't be pretty for all of us."

Katsuki grumbled, "I know. I won't get in trouble."

"Good." Masaru smiled and ruffled his hair. For once, Katsuki didn't dodge. His dad may not act like it, but he was probably also affected by this whole situation. Katsuki had heard the quote many times, you hurt when your loved ones are hurt. He thought it was bullshit, but his dad believed in it and he was probably hurting right now. If messing up his already tousled hair could make his dad feel better, then Katsuki was willing to sacrifice his hair.

After bidding goodbye to his dad (and a very reluctant hug), Katsuki took out the new bicycle he received for his birthday last year and rode it to school. The early morning tranquility cleared his mind a little, but all that vanished as soon as he arrived at school. Katsuki glanced around cautiously. He had a feeling someone was watching him…

The feeling didn't disappear even after he locked his bike to the bike rack and entered the school building. As a part of his daily routine, he went to his shoe locker to change into his indoor shoes.

To his surprise, his shoes weren't in the locker.

Frowning, Katsuki thought back to yesterday. After the principal let them go, he had followed his parents out of the school after stopping by the locker to switch to his outdoor shoes. The last time he saw his shoes was right here, so where had he gone?

Realization downed on him when he caught sight of two students — they looked kind of familiar... classmates, maybe? —snickering at his expense.

Someone took his shoes.

"Hey!" He slammed his locker close and chased after them, but he was forced to stop when they entered the indoor-shoes-only area. He'd rather not get in trouble again so early in the morning. Glaring at the two assholes sneering at him from afar, Katsuki returned to his locker and, after a moment of decision, went to Deku's locker and grabbed his shoes. They were a size too small but they would do for now.

When he turned around, the two assholes were gone. Smirking in victory, Katsuki made his way towards the classroom.

Whatever they were trying to pull wasn't going to work on Bakugo Katsuki.

Once he entered the classroom, everyone stopped talking and turned to stare at him. The stares felt familiar. He was correct. Indeed it was his classmates who were staring at him and messing with him.

Clicking his tongue, Katsuki slammed the door shut and yelled, "What're you looking at!?"

Everyone looked away, but when he went to his desk, everyone turned to look again.

The reason was evident when he neared his desk.

Cruel, hideous words were drawn onto the wood using permanent marker.

"go kill yourself"

"Bakugo is dead!"

"eat shit haha! XD"

"nobody likes you"

"poop eater Bakugo"

"I'm Bakugo and I like to eat poop :)"

"You're not welcomed here"

"*poop emoji*"

"trash"

"take a shower you smell like shit ^^"

"please die pretty please?"

Just to name a few.

The more he read the more he trembled in rage and humiliation. Katsuki dumped his backpack onto his desk to hide the painful words and dragged his chair out, his face darkening even more when he found gum covering the entirety of his seat. He swirled around to glare at the culprit, but the pinkhead only winked at him and turned away.

"Who did this!" Katsuki yelled. There was no way pinkhead was the only one involved. There had to be more. "Who ruined my desk!"

Everyone turned away from his outburst.

If nothing, being ignored pissed him off even more.

Baldie-sensei picked this precise moment to enter. Seeing the annoyed look on his teacher's face, Bakugo grumbled under his breath as he took out a notebook inside his desk, noting how the pages were slashed into shreds, and ripped out the only intact page. He covered the gums with the page and sat on it, the bumpy feeling especially strange under his butt.

During the entire class Katsuki remained stiff as a statue, attentive to his surroundings. He knew those assholes wouldn't just write some stupid things on his desk and decorate his seat with gum and call it a day, oh and stealing his shoes and ripping his notebooks. Not that those mattered much to him. He had a spare pair back home and a bunch more extra notebooks stacked somewhere in his drawers. If he were to bully someone, he wouldn't stop until he was satisfied. There had to be more those shitty classmates of his had in store for him.

Katsuki was so watchful of his classmates he didn't notice the teacher calling his name until the third time.

"Yes?" He drawled, standing up lazily.

Baldie-sensei frowned at his blithe behavior. "Bakugo, read the next paragraph please."

Shit.

Katsuki clicked his tongue. The teacher knew he wasn't paying attention and did this on purpose.

"Pss." The kid sitting next to him gestured to his textbook and whispered helpfully, "Page 34 first paragraph!"

Katsuki glanced at his opened textbook. It was indeed opened to page 34, which had a diagram in the middle and a paragraph above and below it respectively.

"Bakugo?"

He narrowed his eyes, throwing the kid a suspicious look. When the kid only smiled innocently, Katsuki turned to his own textbook and began reading the second paragraph.

Baldie-sensei didn't say anything and instead told him to sit down after he was finished. Seeing he didn't fall for the trick, the kid turned away with a pout while Katsuki smirked, as if saying, "Is that all you got?"

The rest of the classes went by fairly peacefully. He remained in his seat during break so no one could do anything to his stuff when he was gone. Soon, it was time for PE.

Dressed in gym clothes, Katsuki stood among his peers on the basketball court while waiting for their PE teacher to arrive with the equipment. Today, they were playing dodgeball.

"I'm sure everyone here has played dodgeball before." The teacher, a tall, slender woman whose name Katsuki didn't bother to remember, began and looked around, checking for anyone who shook their head. No one did. "The rules are the same. If you're hit, you're out. If you want to get back in, you will have to run a lap around the court. The winning team is the team with the most people on the court by the time class ends. Target area is below the neck. If you catch the ball, the thrower is out. If you get hit and someone else catches the ball, you're still in while the thrower is out. If the ball bounces on the ground and then hit you, neither you nor the thrower is out. No quirk usage is allowed. If I see any, you're out immediately. Am I clear?"

Everyone nodded their heads. Katsuki had a feeling that last part was directed to him.

The teacher proceeded to separate them into two groups. Katsuki was on Team A.

The atmosphere in the gym was a little heavy and Katsuki had a feelings something was about to happen.

At the sound of the whistle, a dozen dodgeballs flew...

...towards Katsuki.

"What the—"

He should have expected this. Katsuki thought as nearly half of them struck his body, knocking the wind out of him. They gave up on messing with him during class, so obviously the next opportunity would be during PE. But even if he had foreseen this, dodging this many dodgeballs was too difficult even for Katsuki.

If only he was allowed to use his quirk.

"Bakugo, out!"

Fuck.

Katsuki cursed under his breath as he raced around the court as fast as possible so he could get back into the game and get his revenge.

"You're not gonna get me this time," he swore when he stepped back into bound. This time, he was extra careful. He used his teammates as body shields when too many balls were thrown at him, and caught the easy ones, sending them back where they came from and knocking many opponents out of bound using this tactics.

Soon, the other team noticed that this wasn't going to work. Gradually, his teammates began to lessen. Those who were out were practically dragging their feet around the court, slower than a snail. All of them made sure to throw the dodgeball before they were out, causing the opposing team to have all the balls while Katsuki and a few other that were left on his team had none.

Even an idiot would have realized what was going on.

Soon, Katsuki was the only one from his team remaining on the court. All his other teammates were taking their sweet ass time running their lap. The teacher noticed and yelled at them to hurry up, but that didn't work. She wasn't a horseman (or was it horsewoman?). She couldn't just whip them into running faster, no matter how much Katsuki wished she could.

The opponent team exchanged a glance and got in the stance simultaneously. Katsuki lowered his center of gravity, readying himself.

Just like last time, everyone targeted him, except this time it was a lot worse. Last time the opposing team only had half the number of balls since his team also had some, while this time his team had none. All thirty balls were in the other half of the court.

Katsuki swallowed thickly, his eyes glued onto the other team.

You can do it Katsuki, he told himself. They're just some fucking shitty balls. There's nothing to be afraid of.

His eyes were starting to sting from staying trained for so long, so he blinked, opening his eyes to dozens of rubber balls soaring towards him.

Katsuki immediately located the one thrown first and caught it, using it to deflect the ones that came a bit too close. He ducked, caught, dived, even rolled on the ground to avoid the others. Being so focused on his surroundings and making sure he didn't trip over the dozens of balls lying around, Katsuki failed to notice gold-eyes tampering with a ball before throwing it.

The moment that ball came in contact with the one he was holding onto, an electric shock struck his hands, rushing up his arms and down his body. His body went rigid, his vision darkening even though his eyes were still opened.

Why can't I see?

A hard thud brought pain to the back of his head. He knew he had fallen but why didn't he hear the impact?

Why can't I hear anything?

Electricity continued charging through his body like thousand of hot needles pricking through his skin, flesh, and deep into his bones. His muscles tensed up involuntarily, hardening like rocks and out of his control. He tried flexing his fingers to release the source of the pain, but they seemed to be glued to the ball like magnets, ignoring his commands. He couldn't even move his jaws to grit his teeth.

Why can't I move?

How long had it been? Minutes? Hours?

When is it over?

He kept thinking this was going to stop any second, but it just kept going.

But that wasn't the worst. The pain was unbearable and Katsuki felt like any second now he was going to break, both physically and mentally. But true terror began when he lost control of his bladder.

Nononono...

No matter how much he thrashed and screamed in his head, his bladder still betrayed him in the end.

All of a sudden, the pain vanished and his body went limp, melting against the ground.

Katsuki lay face up on the ground, details of the ceiling filling his vision. The vast interior of the gym was dead silent except his rapid panting and the steady sound of urine leaving his body. His hands were still a little numb with the residue of the prickly sensation, but now that he had full control over them, he allowed them to slacken, the rubber ball slipping out of his grasp and rolling away. Only then did his brain start to function again.

A roar of laughter erupted from a distance, causing Katsuki to flush red like a tomato. He quickly sat up, body quivering not in residual pain but in humiliation as he kept his head down and eyes trained at the disgusting puddle of piss he was sitting on.

If there was one thing Katsuki couldn't stand, it'd be humiliation.

A strangled noise escape his lips — wouldn't it be nice to just strangle himself right there and then? — before he scrambled onto his feet and ran out of the gym, the harsh, taunting laughter of his tormentors resounding next to his ears even after he closed the heavy metal door.


It took everything in his power to not cry.

Standing under the shower-head letting cold water seep into his wet clothes, Katsuki leaned his head against the wall and pulled his hair so hard they nearly tore off of his scalp.

"Ahhhh!" He let out a frustrated yell as he slammed his head against the wall. Freezing cold water beat down his back but it was nowhere near the bone-chilling feeling when he got shocked.

That fucking gold-eyed bastard…

Rage and embarrassment flickered in his dilated red eyes. Katsuki breathed in heavily and staggered back, bringing up a trembling hand to caress the lump on his forehead and sliding down to cover his eyes.

Katsuki could handle the pain. He could handle anything except humiliation. What just happened wouldn't even happen in his worst nightmare, and for the first time since he was an infant, Katsuki felt the urge to cry. He never cried, not when he got his ass handed to him when he tried to get back Deku's hero collection cards from those fucking teenagers, not when he fell off a bridge more than three times his height into the shallow river below, hitting his head and receiving a concussion, not even when a neighbor's dog bit his leg and nearly tore off a chunk of flesh. And he wasn't about to cry now.

The liquid flowing down his cheeks was shower water, nothing else.

Letting out a shaky breath, Katsuki removed his hand from his eyes and clenched them into tight fists. As soon as the pain vanished everything was back to normal. He experienced no after effects and felt like he was able to deliver a Texas Smash if he could, but the mental scar would forever remain in his mind. He would never forget the seemingly eternal torture that his body was forced to go through, all because of that goddamned sonnovabitch.

"He's so fucking dead."

The chilling water was starting to get to him. Turning the hot water on, Katsuki began to strip. The wet clothes clinging to his bare skin was getting uncomfortable, especially knowing that his pants was soaked with his piss.

"Click."

Just as he stripped off his underwear, he heard a familiar clicking sound... like that of... a camera.

"Who's there!?" Katsuki spun around too fast he almost slipped on the wet floor. He caught a flash of gold before he had to steady himself with the water hose attached to the shower head. When he regained his balance, however, the other person had already escaped.

"...Damn it," he groaned.


After he scrubbed his skin raw and washed his gym clothes, he put on his school uniform, placed his wet clothes in a bag, and left the boy's locker room. He sneaked to the gym and peaked through a gap in the door; the puddle of piss was gone and his classmates were playing dodgeball happily as if that was how things should be, as if Katsuki didn't belong in this class in the first place.

Ignoring the pain that struck him upon witnessing this scene, Katsuki turned heels and ran to the classroom, where he sat drowned in his own thoughts until gym class ended and his classmates trickled in getting ready for the next period.

Gold-eyes didn't react any differently from the rest of his classmates as if he wasn't the one who freaking shocked Katsuki. He merely plopped down on his seat and gazed at Katsuki in mock-concern as he questioned, "Hey, are you okay? What happened back there? You just suddenly fell down and started convulsing like you were having a seizure."

Katsuki snapped, "What happened? You know what fucking happened! You're the one who freaking shocked me! Don't act like you're innocent!"

"Me? Shock— I would never!" Gold-eyes gasped, eyes widening unconvincingly. He waved his hands around as he claimed, "I didn't do anything to you! Everyone saw it! Right!?"

All those traitorous classmates nodded, staring at Katsuki like he was the one who lied.

"See? Everyone can testify for me."

The way that sonnovabitch looked — phony and full of contempt and spite — pissed Katsuki off.

"Testify your fucking ass!" Katsuki shot out of his seat, kicking aside the desks blocking his path and stopping a foot before gold-eyes. "You know what you did! Don't lie to me! And you'll fucking pay!" He pointed at the rest of the class. "I'll make all of you—"

"What?"

He was once again interrupted by the goddamn bald teacher. The old man leaned against the door frame with a wary look.

"You'll make them do what, Bakugo?" He questioned, more like interrogated, his usually calm and collected gaze now burning with a sense of protectiveness. Of the class, Katsuki told himself, Of this goddamn class excluding of me.

"Are you going to make your classmates cry once again? Are you going to kill their pet, insult their friends, and destroy half the classroom putting innocent classmates in danger?"

"That's not what I—"

"Staff room, after class," was all his homeroom teacher said before the bell rang and class began.

Throughout class all Katsuki could think of was the tired look on Mitsuki's face and her strained posture when she got called in yesterday. He had promised to not get in trouble again so he could lift some weights off of her shoulders, but the way baldie kept glaring at him told him he had failed. He was going to get in trouble for doing nothing this time (okay maybe cussing but adults cuss all the time) and his parents would be called and his mom would be sad and would cry and hit him and his once-happy family would stay broken.

Katsuki should've kept his anger in control. He should've known that this bald asshole hated him and wouldn't play fair and would do anything to get him in trouble. He should've waited until after school to get back at gold-eyes, maybe sneak up to him on his way home and cover him with a bag and beat him up or something. He should've kept his head down especially in a class where no one liked him and everyone was conspired to torment him.

He couldn't take back the words he already said or wipe the memory of him saying those words off of baldie-sensei's mind. The only thing he could do right now was mitigate the consequences.

When class ended, Katsuki packed up his things quietly and made his way towards the staff room, the burning gazes of his classmates following him as he walked. One of them whispered, "Do you smell something?" when he shuffled past. Another covered his mouth, looking a bit green. "Oh my god I think I'm going to be sick. Someone call the ambulance!"

Katsuki merely kept his head down and exited the classroom. Baldie-sensei was waiting for him by the door and was in full view of the situation. He could have given Katsuki detention for simply glaring at those two assholes for all he knew, given his tendency to be unreasonably partial to Katsuki.

Once both of them were in the staff room, baldie slid the door close and sat down before his desk, gesturing for Katsuki to sit in the adjacent chair. There were three other teachers in the room, who only cast them a knowing look before turning back to their respective tasks.

"Bakugo." The old man's groggy voice brought Katsuki's attention back to him. "You may think I'm picking on you," hell yeah you are , "but I'm doing this for your sake. You're not stupid, I can see that from your test scores, so why are you doing stupid things? You said you want to be a hero, so why kill your classmate's pet? Why make Midoriya cry knowing that would put you in a bad spot? Why insult your classmates and look down on them? That's not how you make friends." Like hell I want to be friends with those assholes. "The more you act like you're better than them, the more distance you're putting between you and them. Why ostracize yourself? Do you want to be the outcast?"

"I'm not trying to be!"

"Then don't be. Be nicer to your classmates. Treat them as equals. What would have happened if I wasn't here today? Would you destroy half the classroom just like last time when you attacked Gamu and ended up getting even the principal involved?" Baldie sighed as he picked up the receiver. "I hope this is the last time I'll have to call your parents—"

Consumed with dread, Katsuki shot out his arms and stopped the hand that was about to dial his house's number.

"Wait! Stop!" Baldie stared at him with a surprised and guarded look, but Katsuki didn't back off. "Don't call them." Please. "I... I won't... I'll be nicer so... Don't call them."

Baldie didn't seem to believe him. "Bakugo, this isn't the first time. How do you expect me to—"

"And this will be the last time." Katsuki hoped Baldie could hear the desperation in his voice. He hated having to do this. Bakugo Katsuki did not beg, or plead, or pray. Only cowards did that, and he wasn't a coward. But at this time and place, faced with one of the only authority figures aside from his parents, Katsuki only had one option. "I'm... sorry. I won't do it again. So... please. Don't call my parents."

Baldie-sensei's eyebrows raised so high they almost disappeared in his nonexistent hairline. He probably thought the end of the world would come sooner than Katsuki apologizing. The teacher tugged his arm slightly trying to see if Katsuki would loosen his steel grip. Katsuki didn't.

"Alright." Baldie set down the receiver at last and Katsuki let go. Seeing the area he held onto starting to turn red made him feel giddy. Serves him right for always picking on me.

"I won't call your parents this time, but you have to promise me."

"Promise you what?"

"Promise me you will behave at school from now on."

"Ok, I promise." Sure, he would behave at school, but after school? Oh, he would have so much fun getting revenge.

After baldie dismissed him, Katsuki returned to class, smirking at those classmates who were hoping he would get in trouble and now harboring a disappointed look. The rest of the day went by smoothly. Katsuki held back his anger and bared with everything that were thrown at him. Compared to being publicly humiliated this morning, having gum spit in his hair by that fucking pinkhead like his head was some kind of dartboard was nothing.

After school, he packed up his things swiftly and dashed out of class, making the impression that he was leaving early when in reality he was hiding in the restroom waiting for gold-eyes to leave.

Gold-eyes left the classroom not long afterwards. Katsuki watched from a distance as he waved at pinkhead and went on his way home.

Hiding behind trash cans and light poles, Katsuki followed discreetly as gold-eyes entered a manga net-cafe, coincidentally directly in front of the bookstore where Deku's mother worked at. He waited there for at least ten minutes with no sign of his target leaving the cafe.

How long is he gonna stay here!? Does he not have a home to go back to?

At some point, Deku's mother got off work and came over upon seeing him.

"Hello Katsuki-kun! What are you doing here?" She greeted him cheerfully as if he wasn't the one who made Deku cry and leave school early the day before.

"Um, I... uh... I'm on my way home."

"Oh! Let's walk back together!"

Katsuki could only nod as he fell in step with Midoriya Inko, who began chatting animatedly about... something he wasn't paying attention to.

As he walked, he glanced back at the net-cafe and just happened to stare directly into that familiar pair of gold eyes. The air around him suddenly dropped by at least ten degrees as if the presence of sun was gone. Katsuki flinched, quickly looking away.

Those gold-eyes were cold like the winter gale and sharp as knives. The rage they contained wasn't like Deku's after the caterpillar incident, borderline exploding like a ticking bomb. They were controlled, suppressed, and focused. Those eyes were indifferent and calculating; they knew what they wanted and they were going to get it no matter how high the price or who had to pay the price.

But beneath that, there was fear. Katsuki almost thought his eyes were playing tricks on him, because that hyperactive gold-eyes had never shown fear towards anything. He was a stupid, bold loser who would charge head first into a brick wall. What was he afraid of?

And what was that just now? Those eyes…

It was as if he was a whole different person.


That evening, when Masaru asked about his day, Katsuki simply shrugged, acting casually so his dad wouldn't find out how much of an embarrassment his son was. Mitsuki had apologized to him when they ate dinner. She told him how she wasn't thinking straight yesterday so she just acted upon her feelings, which she was incredibly sorry for. Katsuki forgave her. Well, he didn't like being slapped but hey. That was his mother and she had a special place in his heart. He couldn't stay mad at her forever. He just couldn't.

With their issues settled, the rest of the evening was full of light-hearted conversations and contagious laughter. Katsuki pointedly avoided talking about his school day. He didn't want to tell his parents that his classmates were in some kind of conspiracy to make his life hell in fear of sounding like a weak little crybaby. He didn't like being called the victim. It made him feel weak.

He also didn't want them to encourage him to kick their asses or worse, physically making an appearance in school and talking to the principal about this matter. They may laugh and act like nothing was bothering them during dinner, but Katsuki knew they still had a lot of stuff on their mind. Those issues wouldn't just go away when you laugh and have fun. They were always there, hiding somewhere and waiting to reappear. His parents were busy these days and his mom was emotionally troubled. He didn't want them to take time out of their busy day to deal with his shit. Katsuki could deal with his classmates himself.

The next morning, Katsuki woke up rejuvenated and ready to kick ass.

He ate breakfast with his parents and was about to grab his bike when he remembered he had left it at school yesterday when he spied on gold-eyes. He couldn't bring it with him because it was too big to hide.

Sighing, he began his long walk to school. When he walked past the bookstore Inko worked at, she greeted him and told him she would get off work early today to visit the pet store with Deku. He was still feeling down and she hoped buying him a new pet would help.

After a moment of thoughts, Katsuki told her to leave it to him. He had thought long and hard about his situation with Deku. Sure it was just a freaking caterpillar but there were people who married dogs and considered cockroaches their pets. Weird people with weird hobbies were everywhere. Maybe Deku was one of those weirdos who felt love towards a freaking caterpillar.

Katsuki couldn't understand it, but he admit he shouldn't have straight out killed that monster (where did Deku get a caterpillar that big anyway!?). He should've burned just a part of it instead of the whole thing.

So he decided to apologize first like Masaru told him to, because he was nice like that.

When he arrived at school, he instantly realized something was vastly wrong. Yesterday only the losers from his class stared at him; today, more than half the school were staring at him as he entered the campus.

The fuck are they looking at!?

Katsuki glared back but they only snickered while some shook their head in pity.

Who are they pitying?

The answer became apparent when he neared the glass doors of the building.

Pictures of him stripping off his underwear and exposing his bare bottom were plastered all over the door.

And there was more on the walls of the school and slipped inside random shoe lockers, waiting for its owner to open up their locker and find the surprise.

The teachers were frantically running around taking off the pictures and yelling at students not to stare at them, but of course — no one listened.

Katsuki froze at the entrance, his body turning cold and his eyes starting to sting. All of a sudden, the noises around him magnified as if someone just turned up the volume. Voices, whispers, snickers, sound of shoe lockers opening and slamming close, feet stomping the ground, doors sliding open, teachers yelling... Everything became so loud and intense and overwhelming.

Katsuki slapped his hands over his ears, muffling the noises. His quickened breathing echoed in his ears.

Nonononono this can't be true...

A teacher with a bald and triangular head rushed up to him, staring at him with concern and saying something...

'Are you okay?'

Stop.

Katsuki backed up fearfully, shaking his head rapidly and trying to get away from those reaching hands.

Stop staring at me!

His head felt like it was about to burst with the amount of blood that rushed to it. His face must be flushed red right now. He was so embarrassed he wanted to die.

That was the last thought he had before hitting the ground in a dead faint.


Katsuki woke up in the infirmary. His face had cooled down considerably and the noises had dimmed, but his heart was still racing as he remembered the reason why he wasn't in class but was instead on an unfamiliar bed looking at the worried face of the school nurse.

What just happened was a thousand times worse than the incident yesterday. Today, the whole school saw his... his...

Burying his face in his hands, Katsuki tried to shake off the memory of being the target of those piercing, judgmental stares.

What should he do now? How would he face his classmates now? How would he even go to school now?

Katsuki was by no means a coward, but this was his first time dealing with such a situation. He just didn't know what to do.

For a few minutes he just sat on the bed, ignoring the school nurse's questions about his breakdown until the door to the infirmary slid open, revealing baldie's triangular head. Katsuki immediately lay back down and covered his face with the sheets. He didn't want to his teacher to see how vulnerable he was at this moment.

"Bakugo, how are you feeling?"

"..."

"...I know what just happened is very traumatizing, but I assure you everything will be fine. We teachers are working together to track down the culprit behind this."

The culprit? Isn't it obvious? It's your own goddamn class including that sonnovabitch gold-eyes.

"You... don't look like you want to talk to me at this moment. That's fine. I know listening to an old man talk can be annoying. I find my own voice annoying sometimes too, haha."

"..."

"I'll leave you be for now. If you feel like skipping school today, feel free to do so. I won't give you any trouble. Just tell Kana-sensei right here and she'll write you an excuse note."

Katsuki supposed this Kana-sensei was the nurse.

"Don't worry about homework. Knowing you, you won't have a hard time catching up when you're ready. Well... I have to leave for class. I hope you'll feel better."

There was a pause, and then baldie spoke again.

"Bakugo? I'm sorry for the way I treated you before. I'm just frustrated that a student with so much potential and a bright future ahead has such a shitty personality."

There was a gasp of horror. Whether it came from the nurse or Katsuki himself, he couldn't tell.

"Excuse my language, but I suppose that's the best way to make you understand."

Baldie chuckled. There was some shuffling, chair scraping the floor, and footsteps leaving the bed.

"Be better soon, Bakugo."

The door slid close.


Katsuki ended up staying in the infirmary for the rest of the day. His parents would definitely find out about this if he were to leave school early, and since he didn't want them to, he ended up staying in the infirmary organizing his hero collection cards with Kana-sensei as his only company. She didn't talk much, which was good because Katsuki preferred some alone time right now.

Baldie... Yama-sensei's talk had changed his mind of him. The old man wasn't that bad of a person, but that didn't mean Katsuki liked him... yet.

As he shuffled his cards, he thought about everything he had endured these past two days. The more he thought about it, the more distaste he nurtured towards gold-eyes. Everything was gold-eyes' fault. He was sure that pinkhead was involved, too, including the rest of his class, but the one who embarrassed him the most was gold-eyes. He first shocked Katsuki and made him piss himself like a fucking baby, and then he snapped a picture of him showering and posted it all over the school, making him the laughing stock.

This grudge wasn't going to be easy to get over, and Katsuki had no intention of ever forgetting this incident or forgiving gold-eyes.

That fucker is gonna pay.

He hadn't thought of what he was going to do yet, but he would think of something eventually.

When school was over, Yama-sensei came over personally to deliver him homework and notes for the lessons he missed. That gesture warmed his heart a little.

After making sure all the students had left the school, Katsuki bid goodbye to Yama-sensei and the nurse before leaving. He didn't bring his bike with him because walking was good for clearing one's mind.

He made his way towards the manga net cafe and as he expected, gold-eyes was sitting on the second floor table right by the window with a glass of coke next to him and holding a volume of manga. Katsuki waited there for about an hour (Auntie Inko got off work as he waited and asked if he wanted to walk home together and he refused, saying he was waiting for a friend) and decided to leave when the sky was getting dark and less and less people remained on the street.

He would have to figure out a way to lure gold-eyes away to an isolated spot before he entered the manga net cafe.

One thing that boggled him, though, was the fact that gold-eyes had been reading the exact same manga for the entire hour.

Katsuki wondered why.


He was a block away from home when it happened, the incident that made everything that had happened to him so far seem like a child's play.

Like always, the night streets of Japan were filled with drunkards who either passed out on the side of the road or decided to make life miserable for others in one way or another.

Katsuki was one of the very unfortunates who met the latter.

"Heyyyy kid."

One of the drunkard on the street slurred as he stumbled his way over.

Katsuki did the smart thing and ignored the older man.

"D-Don't hic-hicnooooore meee..."

The old man tripped over his feet and collapsed onto Katsuki, pinning him from the back.

"Get off me!" Katsuki growled, struggling against the heavy weight but his kid strength was no use against a big, fat, and burly drunk who decided to latch himself onto Katsuki like some kind of fat-ass parasite.

The drunk pulled out his phone (almost getting his meaty hand stuck in his pocket in the progress) and, as Katsuki watched in confusion, unlocked it after four wrong password attempts. He tapped the Gallery app and scrolled down, and then selected a picture.

Katsuki had to swallow a scream.

It was the picture of him stripping.

"W-W-Why do you..."

"This... is you... amiriiiiight?" The drunk whispered right next to his ear, his foul breath making Katsuki want to throw up. "I saaaaw it... online... y'know... I never t-told myyy w-w-wife... but...hic... I like kids... I looooove kids."

Katsuki shivered, his eyes darting around in hope of seeing someone who could help him.

There was no one around.

"You're reeeeally sexshyyyy... hehehehic... y'know..."

Goosebumps erupted all over his skin when a hand sneaked inside his shirt, the feeling of callouses sliding across his soft skin incredibly uncomfortable and disgusting. He started panicking when the other hand dropped the phone and started unbuttoning his trouser.

"N-No..." Katsuki whimpered. What to do? What to do? He was scared. He was so scared. What was happening? Could he use his quirk? Would he get in trouble if he did? He wanted to get away. He wanted the drunk to stop touching him. It was disgusting and made his stomach churn. What did the drunk want with him? Why was he touching him so weirdly?

Tears fell from his eyes, blurring his vision.

Stop crying.

Katsuki tried to tell himself.

Stop being a crybaby!

Only cowards cried. Katsuki couldn't cry. He couldn't be a coward.

But the tears didn't stop falling, neither did the embarrassing sound that came out of his lips.

No one could help him. Katsuki had no one.

It was now when he finally realized...

That he was alone.

He was always alone.

In midst of his struggling, he felt something in his pocket.

It's...

Without hesitating, Katsuki grabbed the security alarm Deku threw at him and pulled off the strap. The shrill screeching cry made the drunk stop with his advances, and Katsuki took the opportunity to slip out of his grasp and run towards his house.

Even after he had reached his house, locked himself in his room, and hid under his bed while hugging his All Might plushie, he still couldn't stop himself from crying.

...

I'm such a loser.

Chapter Text

The truck was getting closer.

Izuku glanced away to focus on the dark path before him. All around him were contorted, eerie-looking trees with branches that reached towards him like claws. Ahead of him was infinite darkness with no signs of an end. He didn't know where he was running towards, but he had to keep moving.

One of the branches turned into a withered arm and wrapped around his legs. Izuku fell, and the next second, he was pinned down by the ice cream vendor in a choke hold.

"You murderer! Why did you kill me?"

The old man asked him again and again, his voice becoming louder and more distorted each time. His head swelled up like a human balloon, his eyeballs bulging out like that of a fish, his mouth slitting into a wide, gaping grin. It was like a black hole with no teeth no tongue no nothing and from it spilled out dozens of crimson-colored ice creams cones, burying Izuku underneath them and suffocating him. Some melted ice cream seeped into his mouth. Tastes like blood.

Somewhere nearby a girl's voice yelled out his name. And then he was on the ground, crouching above Yuuga and strangling him with his own intestines.

" It hurts... Izuku."

Izuku woke up screaming and writhing on his bed. His comforter was lying on the ground, kicked off when he was asleep. His bedroom door slammed against the wall hard enough to chip off a layer of paint as Inko barged through, rushing next to his side.

"Izu-chan! You're safe! You're safe now!" She hugged him tightly as if she would lose him if he didn't. She continued whispering next to his ear and gradually he calmed down.

"I-I'm fine now, mom." Izuku pushed her away gently and wiped his eyes, feeling the tear tracks on his face.

"Are you sure? Are you still bothered by the AMAP incident? I'm sorry I really shouldn't have let you go that day. If only I didn't sign the permission slip, you wouldn't have to witness the attack..."

"That's not it. Don't worry. I'm already feeling better. I'll be fine."

"If you say so..." Inko lifted up his bangs and placed a hand on his forehead. "I'm going to cook dinner. I'll call you when it's ready."

"Thanks, mom." Izuku smiled at her as she left her room. The moment the door closed, he collapsed against his pillow, feeling drained.

He hadn't had a nightmare ever since he had Pie. Cuddling with Pie every night was his remedy, but now that Pie was dead...

Izuku tightened his jaws as images of Pie's death flashed across his mind.

It's all Bakugo's fault. I hope he's happy now that everyone in class has seen my ugly crying face.

Thinking of Bakugo made him angry. Izuku didn't like the feeling of boiling anger pumping in his veins, urging him to go break something. He felt unlike himself, and that was a scary thing.

Looking for a distraction, Izuku pulled up the notification screens he had ignored earlier at school and noticed a new, recent one on the very top.

"You have had PTSD-related nightmares twice in less than a week, earning you the status effect: [PTSD]. Since this is your first status effect, you have received [Remover Round] x1! This round removes all status effects when hit."

"PTSD?"

GOLA explained in his mind. "It means you're traumatized from the AMAP incident."

Izuku pulled up the Profile page and next to his name, there was indeed a frowny face icon that said PTSD when tapped and held.

He then opened his inventory and took out the newest object, the Remover Round, that was sitting quietly in a slot.

A golden round appeared on his palm. It was slightly shorter than his pinky and as wide as his thumb. The light blue bullet took up about one-third of the entire length. The tip of the bullet was round and smooth and felt quite nice to the touch. But...

"How do I use this?" Izuku examined the round, baffled.

" What uses rounds?"

"A gun?"

" And this is a 9mm round which is used by pistols."

"Are you saying I need to buy a gun!?"

" I'm not saying it; I'm connoting it."

There was indeed a pistol available for sale in the bazaar. It cost 5000 reputation points, which was about 200 more than his current amount.

If I had known I need this much, I would have bought less candies.

"But... It's illegal to own a gun in Japan! I'd get in big trouble if I'm caught!"

"You can hide it in your inventory."

"But still!"

"Master, do you want to have nightmares like this for the rest of your life? This is your chance to forget about the incident and go back to the way you were before."

Izuku thought long and hard. Nightmares were terrifying. And it'd be nice to not be bothered by his multiple traumatic deaths anymore. But a gun... Like any normal kid, he related guns to crimes and murder and criminals. Guns killed people. Bad guys used guns. Japan's gun laws were extremely strict and nobody was allowed to own a gun. If he was caught with one... The results wouldn't be pretty.

But this was the only way. He had no other choice. If he had to break a law and own a gun illegally in order for him to escape the nightmares, then so be it. He would just have to be extra cautious to ensure it stayed in his inventory.

He currently had 4798 REP points, including 1 negative REP point. He needed 202 more points to afford a Beretta M9 pistol. Today was Wednesday. Usually he earned about 20 REP points on a school day, and doubled that amount on the weekend. Izuku wanted the nightmares gone as soon as possible, and there was only one way to do that.

"Mom?" Sitting at the dining table, Izuku slouched slightly and put on a wearisome face. "Can I not go to school tomorrow?"

Inko looked like she was debating with herself, so Izuku made a few tears drop as he told her everything that had happened today and how much it pained him to see Bakugo kill Pie. When he got to that part, the tears that fell were genuine. He also included the part where he made Bakugo eat poop because he didn't want to lie to her. Inko looked like she didn't know whether she should scold him till the end of the world for committing such a heinous act or praise him for standing up for himself and Pie.

Finally, she nodded.

"Alright, I'll allow you to skip school tomorrow." Izuku had to stuff a broccoli in his mouth to stifle a victorious laugh. "Only because of what happened to Pie."

"Thanks mom! Can I go quest hunting then? By myself?"

"You know that's too dangerous."

"Then can you go with me?"

Inko's lips twitched, her chopsticks stabbing into a piece of karaage chicken. Whenever he went quest hunting, she was always forced to chase after him since he tended to run around in an excited frenzy. If she was one second slower, he'd disappear out of her sight, having gone into an alley because he heard some suspicious noises or climbed up a tree to save a cat. As an ordinary housewife who didn't exercise, Inko obviously didn't like being tagged along on his quest hunts. But feeling obligated to look after him as his mother, she had to do it.

"Alright, alright. We'll go tomorrow. I'll see if I can take the morning off. But make sure you don't start off running everywhere, my legs can't handle the stress."

"That's good exercise for you then."

Inko scowled amusedly. "Don't get cheeky on me."


After dinner, Izuku went through the rest of the notifications while submerged in bubbly bath water.

"[The Madman] title has been unlocked. More information can be found on the Titles/Achievements page."

The Madman
-Activation Requirements: Death of a loved one
-Quirk: Carnage: every non-living object within five meter radius will explode when you scream while in Rage Mode

"You have unlocked [RAGE] by reaching maximum anger. Rage meter will rise when you're angry. When it hits caps, you can choose to activate Rage Mode, which will triple all your stats for however long you can maintain maximum anger, but your logical thinking ability will be hampered momentarily as a result."

This was probably what caused his world to flash red when he saw Bakugo kill Pie.

On the bottom left of his vision, there was a faint, barely visible circular icon with the word "RAGE" in the center. It had a dim orange hue glazing over it, which would probably turn red when Izuku was angry.

Tripling his stats would be awesome, but losing his ability to think logically could be very dangerous, so Izuku decided to only use RAGE in a pinch.

The next notification was a quest alert.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: Poor Pie]

Description: Your beloved pet, Pie, has just been killed. And as its master, it's your duty to get revenge on the killer.
Time Limit: none
Reward: 300 EXP
Failure: (Pie would be sad)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

And it seemed that it was automatically accepted after receiving no reply from him and was marked as complete when he dumped poop in Bakugo's mouth.

Immediately after was another quest alert.

Quest alert!
[Side Quest: No One Likes A Bully]

Description: Bakugo Katsuki is a bully to many people. Be a hero to these people and kick him out of the school.
Time Limit: one month
Reward: 1000 EXP, 50 REP points
Failure: (Bakugo will continue tormenting you and your classmates)

[ACCEPT] [DECLINE]

This quest was practically designed specifically for him. After everything that happened, Izuku would prefer to never see his face ever again.

But how to kick him out of school? Izuku couldn't think of anything he could do alone; he would need as much help as possible. However, this would have to wait until he returned to school, which would be after he earned enough REP points to buy a pistol because that took priority at the moment. He didn't think he could concentrate in school while suffering from PTSD.

At first, he was slightly surprised that the reward was fifty REP points, but it made sense when he thought about it. Not many people liked Bakugo, so if he got kicked out of school, there would surely be many who appreciated it and felt saved as a result.

That was it for the notifications. The bath water was getting cold so Izuku quickly washed off the soap and left the steamy bathroom.

That night, he slept next to his mom. The nightmares still haunted him. But when he woke up screaming and struggling, Inko was right there ready to sooth his fears away. Listening to her soft voices while snuggling into her warm chest, Izuku drifted back to sleep.

It was a restless night.

The next morning, Izuku woke up early (partly because neither could sleep soundly) to go quest hunting. The morning rush filled the streets with panicking students and office workers running towards their destinations and elders taking a relaxing stroll with or without a pet dog. Opening the door, Izuku got a face full of sunlight and the fresh morning breeze. He took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the smell of nature and city pollution. Revitalized inside and out, he excitedly grabbed onto Inko and dragged her towards the busy streets.

Three hours later, they were sitting in a small but cozy coffee shop. Izuku had a cup of warm green tea and a slice of cheesecake, while Inko ordered a cup of coffee and six dainty pieces of Petit Fours, her favorite sweet. According to Yuuga, Petit Four was a bite-sized dessert that originated from France.

"Just one sip, pleeeease?"

"You're too young, Izu-chan. Maybe ten years later." Inko chuckled as she sipped on her coffee and placed it out of his reach.

Izuku lay his chin on the table and his arms across, a grumpy look crossing his face.

"Caffeine isn't good for kids."

"It's not good for adults either."

"But worse for kids."

"But I'm tired~"

"Then drink your tea. It can wake you up faster than coffee can."

Sipping his tea dejectedly, Izuku swore to buy some coffee from the bazaar and drink one every day... behind her back.

The phone icon in the corner of his vision suddenly flashed with a message sign.

"What happened?" Inko asked when Izuku stopped complaining and sat still, staring straight at her.

"I got a text from Manami-chan!" Izuku exclaimed as he thought of a reply, the words automatically appearing on the screen floating between him and Inko. "She said she just got back from a doctor appointment and she has a quirk now!"

"Really? What's her quirk?"

"She didn't say. She just said it can provide a quirk boost to someone. It's still pretty cool! I'm glad she has a quirk now!"

Izuku sent his congratulation, and seconds later Manami replied back with a happy face.

"That's great! We should invite her over, oh and all your other friends, too. And celebrate together."

"Good idea!"

Maybe after everything's settled down, Izuku thought.

After their lunch break, they walked home together. Izuku waited until Inko left for work before he sneaked out of the house and continued quest hunting until four in the afternoon. By the time he hurried home before Inko would get off work and notice his absence, he had earned fifty REP points and his legs were so sore he collapsed onto the couch as soon as he unlocked the front door.

At this rate, he would earn two hundred in no time.


That night they slept slightly better than they did the night before. Izuku still woke up covered in cold sweat in the middle of the night from nightmares, but already used to this, Inko was able to soothe him back to sleep without even needing to open her eyes.

The next day, puppy dog eyes at full force, Izuku managed to skip school again. Inko had to go to work today so she made him promise he would stay home before she stepped out with her bike. As soon as she disappeared from sight, Izuku sneaked his way out of the house and onto a crowded street in the opposite direction from where she was going. He went quest hunting until four in the afternoon and returned home with fifty-two REP points.

On the weekends, Inko didn't have work so she accompanied him on his quest hunts until Sunday when Izuku reached 5000 REP points.

He picked the time Inko was taking her turn with the shower and locked himself in his room. He made sure the windows were sealed and closed the curtains. Then, he took out his phone, went on YouTube, and typed "One Shot One Kill." This was the band Hitoshi loved to listen to and they had lots of punk rock metal whatever-genre-they-were-called music. They were loud and noisy, the perfect song for this moment.

He then went to the bazaar and purchased the pistol.

A Beretta M9 landed on his palm from midair. Surprised by the weight of the weapon, Izuku didn't catch it in time and it dropped onto the ground. He immediately rolled into a ball, hugging his head in fear of getting shot. Then he realized how stupid this was since there wasn't even any rounds inside the chamber.

Still hesitant, he picked up the pistol, feeling like the weight of the entire world was resting on his small, trembling hands. The metal was cool and felt nice in his sweaty grip. An idea suddenly came to him and he tried using Metal Control on the gun.

It floated about a centimeter before dropping back down.

Guess he needed to practice his quirk more.

For the past two days, Izuku had done a ton of research on guns, so much so that if someone ever checked his browser history, they'd think he was planning to kill someone.

Like he had practiced many times, he locked the slide with slight difficulty and dropped the Remover Round in the chamber. He then released the slide and pressed play on the music video, maximizing the volume.

It started with a loud, high-pitched scream, and then the music started, reverberating against his walls and giving him a headache.

Pushed by his urge to pause the song, Izuku moved to take off the safety—

"Hey GOLA. This isn't gonna hurt or kill me, is it?"

GOLA responded in a trembling voice as if it was trying hard not to laugh. "No, it won't kill you, Master."

"I hope I don't regret trusting you."

Izuku flicked the safety off and mustered all his strength to cock the hammer. Beretta M9 wasn't a single-action pistol and therefore didn't require him to cock the hammer before firing, but he would need to apply a lot more pressure on the trigger if he didn't cock it manually beforehand. Since it took roughly six to ten pound of pressure on the trigger to cock the hammer back and release it in a single action and Izuku couldn't do that with one hand, he decided to cock the hammer manually, which reduced the trigger pull to four pounds or less of pressure.

Keeping his finger straight and off the trigger, Izuku raised the gun and pressed the barrel against his temple. He closed his eyes and held his breath, his heartbeat quickening, faster and louder. He could almost hear it above the music and feel it trying to leap out of his chest. Sweat gathered in the center of his palm, forcing him to put down the gun and wipe his hands on his trousers. He licked his lips as he picked up the gun again and placed his index finger on the trigger.

All of a sudden he was reminded of that day when he tried to take his life, except this time he had no Gentle to save him. A gunshot to the head wasn't like crashing into a cat while riding his bike. It was an instant death. No using red potions to regenerate his HP, no asking GOLA for help. If he had messed up somewhere and GOLA didn't tell him, being the asshole it was, he would never see his mom again. No more eating cheesecake with his friends, no more quest hunting and being heroes, no more fanboying over heroes and All Might and stalking Gentle, no more going to cat cafes with Hitoshi. If he died, this was it.

His hand shook, the gun quivering dangerously against his skin.

If he was to die today, he would have lived today differently. He would have spent more time with Inko by going to places she desired and treating her to her favorite Petit Fours. He would have gathered all his friends so he could hear their laughter one last time. He would have visited Gentle and showed him how much he had changed thanks to the rescue years ago. There were so many things he would have done, so many things he would regret not doing, but it was all too late. He didn't realize the terror of holding a gun to his head and having to pull the trigger on himself until now.

But he couldn't back down. He had come this far; if he stopped because he was too scared to shoot himself, all his effort for the past few days would be for naught. Inko would have run around with him for nothing. Izuku wouldn't care if his own time and effort had gone to waste, but he wouldn't forgive himself if someone else had to waste their time and effort for him.

He had to do it. He just had to believe in GOLA and Digitalization that he would survive this putative suicide attempt.

Midoriya Izuku took a deep, shuddering breath and whispered, "I love you, mom."

And then he squeezed the trigger.


Katsuki locked himself inside his room for the entire weekends, only leaving to eat and take a shower. This abnormal behavior made both his parents incredibly concerned. They did everything they could to coax him into leaving the house and hanging out with his friends like what he usually did on the weekends, but seeing Katsuki ignoring all of their attempts they eventually gave up. They still have the funeral to take care of; they didn't have time to bother with him.

When the incident first happened, Katsuki had hid beneath his bed with his All Might plushie. Now, he hid in his closet beneath a pile of clothes while hugging his All Might plushie. He had taken an hour long shower everyday but the sensation of calloused fingers caressing his skin still lingered even after he had scrubbed his skin until it turned red. He tried distracting himself with games, manga, movies, but no matter what he was doing, his mind would wander back to the event and he would once again remember the hot, stinky breath against his ear and the uncomfortable touches.

He feared leaving his room. His parents were running around busy with their own matters and were rarely home. Every time he thought about leaving the closet, he would imagine the drunk breaking into his house when his parents weren't around and forcing himself into his room.

Things didn't get any better when Monday arrived. The newscaster mentioned the possibility of a thunderstorm sometimes today, which dampened his mood even more. He was still terrified, but when his parents asked him for the reason why he didn't want to go to school, he didn't tell them. Hiding in his room already made him feel like a coward, admitting it would hurt his pride even more.

He was in the middle of wrecking his brain for a compelling reason when Mitsuki mentioned.

"Inko said Izuku's feeling better and he'll be going back to school today."

Deku's... coming back?

Katsuki imagined Deku going to school and finding the cruel markings on his desk, the gums on his seat, the trash dumped in his desk, and hearing the sick rumors spreading around about Katsuki. And then he would see Katsuki's absence as proof of his cowardice and think of him as a loser who was too scared to face his classmates face on.

No, Katsuki wouldn't allow it. Deku was the last person he wanted to find out about the situation he was in.

He changed his mind. He was going to school.

But before that, there was something else he needed to do.

"I need some money."


The classroom was empty when he entered. People often come to school later than usual on raining days. Good, as long as he arrived before Deku that was what mattered.

Katsuki went to his seat and did a double take when he saw the brand new desk sitting in place of his old one that was covered in hideous writings. Someone had changed it when he was gone.

Only one person came to mind.

A hint of a smile ghosted over his lips before reverting back to his signature pissed off look. He carefully placed his school bag down on the desk and took out the contents, leaving only a paper bag inside. His chair grazed against the floor as he dragged it out, the sound particularly loud in the empty classroom. Katsuki plopped down and moved to put his feet on his desk before he changed his mind. He didn't want to ruin his brand new desk with his shoes.

He turned to stare at the windows, which were tainted with drops of rain that fell from the grey sky. Katsuki continued staring, mesmerized and strangely hypnotized by the sound of rain splattering over the glass. The classroom was warm compared to the chill weather outside. Without his classmates' presence, Katsuki was finally able to allow his body to relax while normally he had to constantly be on guard, watching out of the corner of his eyes in case they tried something.

The door slid open, breaking him out of this rare moment of serenity. A student walked in, followed by another, and soon, students were trickling through the door like a line of ants, except they were louder than ants. Katsuki winced when the buzzing started and knew it wouldn't cease until Yama-sensei came through the door.

The buzzing suddenly grew in intensity when a group of students came through the door and in the center of them was Deku, being flanked by pinkhead and gold-eyes and the others like he was their queen bee or some shit.

Deku looked over at him as soon as he stepped through the door and Katsuki suddenly had an urge to look away. They stared at each other for maybe a few second before Deku broke eye contact and went straight to his seat without a word.

For some reason, Katsuki felt relieved.

Perhaps it was due to Deku's return, his classmates didn't mess with him for the entire day. The day was practically on fast-forward mode and before he realized it was almost over. During lunch, the rain had stopped so Katsuki went up to the roof to eat lunch in order to get away from the noises his overly-energetic classmates generated as they fussed over Deku. When he returned to class, he found a note in his desk.

"Bakugo, I want to apologize to you for what I did last Thursday. I only wanted to mess with you a little. I didn't think my quirk would have that kind of effect on a human. I still can't control my power very well. I'm really sorry for doing that and I want to apologize to you directly. I noticed you following me after school so I think we should settle this matter once and for all. Please meet me on the roof after school today and give me a chance to earn your forgiveness. -Kamiki Raiden"

The note crumbled as Katsuki crushed it in his hand, his body slightly shaking with rage.

That sonnovabitch thought a simple apology was enough? He thought Katsuki would forgive him so easily!?

Katsuki turned to glare at gold-eyes, who merely smiled apologetically at him.

He shoved the fist that held the note into his pocket and sat down heavily, transferring his menacing glare to his unblemished desk and immediately a feeling of satisfaction cleansed his body. Neatness and organization always brought him pleasure.

As class went on, all Katsuki could think of was how would he beat the shit out of gold-eyes without physically beating the shit out of him. If he actually did so he would for sure get in trouble. There had to be a way to make that asshole eat shit without breaking any rules, or laws.

When the final bell rang, Katsuki packed up his stuff quickly and exited the classroom. He made a trip to Deku's shoe locker and placed the paper bag inside before heading towards the roof.

The door leading to the roof was already unlocked when he got there. Katsuki had to put his entire weight against the door to push it open due to the heavy wind that sealed it shut. The rooftop was empty except for a few crows chattering on the railing. Figured gold-eyes wouldn't be here yet. He was probably still chit-chatting with his friend.

Katsuki stepped through the threshold, allowing the wind to slam the door shut for him. He glanced up at the dull sky covered with massive, dark clouds, completely enshrouding the sun from view.

"It's probably going to rain again soon," he murmured as he stepped closer to the railing and looked down. Among the crowd of students leaving the school, he saw the prominent green fluffy hair walking beside a pinkhead. A smile crawled onto his face when he noticed Deku carrying that paper bag he had placed into his shoe locker.

"Fucking gold-eyes better stop wasting my time and get over here."

Ten minutes later, the school was practically empty and gold-eyes was still nowhere to be seen.

"Fucking gold-eyes! Where the hell are you!?" Katsuki growled as he paced back and forth on the rooftop with hands shoved deep in his pockets.

Five more minutes passed.

"I'm done with this shit."

Katsuki decided and stormed towards the door. He should have known better. This was obviously a trap. Of course gold-eyes wouldn't show up. He never even thought about apologizing.

He placed a hand on the knob and was about to twist it when he heard a click.

It wasn't like the sound from the boys' locker room.

It sounded like it came from the other side of the door.

An answer came to his mind followed by chills that went up his spine.

"Don't tell me..."

He twisted the knob.

It was locked shut.

"Fucking gold-eyes! I know you're here! Unlock this door immediately!" Katsuki howled, banging on the door with his fist and twisting and pulling the knob frantically.

A voice sing-songed from the other side.

"Nopedy nope nope~"

The fucker was right there watching his failed attempts to unlock the door and he was enjoying it!

"You little shit! You're so fucking dead! You know what! When I get out there, Imma—"

"Well, get out here then. I'm right here. Don't you wanna punch me? Hmm, Kacchan? Come on!"

That was the last straw.

BOOM!

Katsuki fired an explosion at the metal door but it didn't even bulge.

"Might wanna practice your quirk a bit more. It's too weak. Would have been nice to have Izuku's quirk right now, dontcha think?"

And he dared to slap Katsuki's face with Deku's useless quirk.

Anger boiled underneath his skin, barely contained by Katsuki's conscience. It burned so bad as if lava had replaced his blood, melting his soul and destroying his very being. All the hate, frustration, and fury he had experienced in the past few days were ready to be unleashed in a long string of all the vulgar words Katsuki had ever learned, but he knew it was pointless. Yelling at a metal door wouldn't help his situation.

Katsuki curled his hands into tight fists and unclenched them, exhaling deeply and forcing himself to calm down.

"What do you want from me? Are you doing this just to mess with me, or are you some kind of sicko who want to see me beg for you to let me out?"

Gold-eyes was silent for a few seconds before he responded in a low voice. "I'm just tired of you following me after school. That's all. I got stuff to do and I'd rather you not get in my way. It will be a bad end for both of us."

"What do you mean?"

His reply was the sound of footsteps going down the stairs.

"Wait! Let me out you asshole!" Katsuki pounded on the door but no matter how much he yelled gold-eyes did not stop.

Soon, the footsteps disappeared.

"Shit."

Katsuki glanced up at the sky. Drops of rain were starting to fall down at a growing rate. There was no cover on the roof. He had to get out of here fast if he didn't want to become wet like a drowned rat.

The door was the only entrance to the roof. If he had rope, he could rappel down the side of the building and jump through an open window. But he had no rope and his uniforms weren't strong or long enough to risk putting his life on the line.

Katsuki trod along the railing until he reached the back side of the school. It was closer to the gate and the security guard shack than the other side was to the front entrance. He gripped the railing and peered down. The security guard was dozing off. That lazy fucker.

"Hey!" He tried yelling to get his attention but the guard showed no signs of having heard him. "Dammit."

Drops of rain had turned into a drizzle and at the rate it was going, it shouldn't take more than five minutes for it to turn into a heavy downpour.

Katsuki sprinted back to the door and pounded against it some more. But either because all the teachers were deaf or have already left the school, no one came to his rescue.

Running out of options, he went back to the railing and looked around. Directly under it was a platform that extended from the top edge of an opened window, but it was about ten feet away and was only as wide as his shoulders, barely enough space to stand on. Could he make it?

Katsuki squeezed the railing, eyes set on his target.

He would make it.

He wasn't the type to sit here waiting for someone to save him like he was a damsel in distress. If he wanted something done he would go hands on and get it done. Change had to start from one's self.


Rain splashed onto his cheeks, seeping down his neck and disappearing into his dirtied uniform. Dirty blond hair whipped around with the wind, Katsuki stood on the outer edge of the railing, unfocused eyes staring past his toes at the hard cement so, so far away. He clenched onto the wet railing tightly, fingers going numb and teeth clattering in the cold. He wasn't afraid of height, but on a stormy day like this where he couldn't produce any sweat to fuel his explosions, a slip of foot could end his short, unsatisfying life.

Trembling hands fumbling with the grip as he turned so he was facing the railing. Katsuki closed his eyes and took in a deep shaky breath to mentally prepare himself. As the rain continued beating down on his back like some kind of lashing, he opened his eyes and let go, gripping the bottom edge of the rooftop and letting his feet hang in midair.

He could feel his fingers starting to slip both from his weight and from the slipperiness. He dared a glance down. His feet were about five feet away from the platform. He had successfully jumped from five feet high before. He could make it.

Time was running out. His body swayed dangerously as wind knocked him astray, his shirt puffing up and revealing his security alarm which he had hooked the strap onto his pant buckle. Ever since it had saved him during that incident, he had carried it every where he went.

Katsuki glanced away to focus on the mission. In his head, he silently counted.

Three.

He trained his eyes on the platform.

Two.

He took a deep breath.

One.

And his fingers slipped.

His feet slammed against the platform and he reached forward to regain his balance. But as if god himself was against him, he lost his footing due to the rain and momentum caused him to fall backward.

"Shit—"

As he dropped past the platform on the second floor window, he managed to grab hold of it. Immediately, a sharp spike of pain shot up his arm followed by a popping sound, forcing him to let go. He knew more pain was coming. In this weather the most he could produce were tiny sparks, nowhere near the power he needed to slow his descend.

The impact came faster than he expected. He didn't even have a second to mentally prepare himself before he crashed head first into the pavement. Pain overwhelmed him and the last thing he remembered were the heavy grey clouds looming over him ominously and a familiar shrilling cry.


Izuku was nervous at first to return to school. He expected his classmates to makes fun of him for crying like a baby last Wednesday, but he received none of that. Instead, they greeted him cheerfully, genuinely glad to have him back. They pampered him and made sure he was fine. They also got him caught up with everything he had missed and let him copy their homework. What truly touched him was the fact that they all avoided mentioning Bakugo when talking, knowing he might be triggered.

Everyone in his class treated him like he belonged, like they really cared about him. It was so different from the way things were back then, when he was ignored just because he was quirkless. But ever since he found Digitalization and changed the way he walked, talked, and acted, everyone slowly changed as well and talked to him more. At first it was only sweet requests, and then they found out he could do magic and begged him to show them. The more they interacted, the more comfortable they felt talking to the quirkless kid. And now, he was friends with everyone in his class and they stuck together like one big happy family. If someone messed with one of them, they were messing with all of them.

Bakugo didn't talk to him at all the entire day. He acted like Izuku wasn't there and even stepped out during lunch as if he was avoiding Izuku on purpose. Inko had told him he should apologize to Bakugo for dumping poop in his mouth, and he admitted it was a low move, but killing someone's pet was a far worse crime. Bakugo should apologize first and Izuku refused to back off this time. He was not the weak, cowardly Deku anymore. He had Digitalization; he had a quirk. And he had friends who supported him. He wasn't afraid of Bakugo no longer.

When school ended, Bakugo was the first one out of the class.

Izuku pouted.

Fine, keep avoiding me then. We'll see who can last longer.

He jumped when Gamu wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

"Hey, let's go to the game center together!"

"Um... Sure."

Inko wouldn't be home for another thirty minutes so he had some time. He could just tell her he was out quest hunting.

"Hey Raiden!" Gamu turned and stopped the other boy who was about to step out. "Wanna come with us?"

"Nah sorry, I got things to do." Raiden smiled apologetically.

"Man, you never hang out with us. What kept you so busy?"

"It's... my dad. He doesn't like me wasting time after school."

"Damn. He's a doctor isn't he? It must sucks having an uptight dad like that. Well, we're gonna go have some fun. See you tomorrow!"

Raiden waved at them with a tight smile before leaving the classroom.

"How do you know his dad is a doctor?" Izuku asked.

"I've known him for a while." Gamu replied as they made their way to the shoe lockers. "And I met his dad once. He looks really strict and tense like someone's gonna jump him any time. Well, he deals with dead bodies every day so I don't blame him. But I just can't stand this weird vibe he gives off. It creeps me out."

"Hm."

They parted ways momentarily as they went to their respective lockers. Izuku pulled open his and was surprised to find a brown, paper bag inside. He looked around. This was his locker right?

Tentatively, he grabbed the paper bag and peered inside. It contained a glass cage that held a—

Izuku almost forgot how to breath.

On the bag there was a note:

"To Deku: It's an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar. I can't find one the same size as your pet and this is all the pet store has to offer. I shouldn't have killed your pet. Sorry. -B.K."

Chapter Text

In the Kamiki household there was a forbidden room, secured with a dozen padlocks. Growing up, Raiden wasn't allowed to walk near it, let alone enter it. Whenever he asked, his father would tell him "I will tell you when you're older."

He was four when he found out what was hidden inside.

His father sometimes would often spend hours in the room after work. Once, he woke up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. While passing by his father's room, he noticed the door was ajar and the bed was empty.

There was only one place his father could be. Driven by curiosity, Raiden tiptoed to that room and as he expected, the padlocks were unlocked. He saw the doorknob turn and quickly dove behind the vase directly across the door.

When his father opened the door, the mystery finally revealed itself.

In the center of the room was a surgical table with a woman strapped onto it. She had blood and injuries all over her. A piece of black cloth was tied over her eyes and in her mouth was more cloth. Her stomach was cut open and seeing the way she thrashed and trembled it didn't take a genius to figure out she wasn't given any anesthetics.

His father was dissecting someone alive.

Shocked beyond belief, Raiden let out a gasp and was caught red-handed by his father.

He thought he was going to get killed, or dissected alive like that woman, but his father did none of that. Instead, he invited Raiden into the room and made him watch as the dissection continued.

"Why're you doing this?" Raiden had asked.

For the first time since he could remember, his father disclosed his past.

His father had been strangely fascinated with the act of cutting people apart since he was young. Every time he saw it in movies he would get excited. Just the thought of cutting through soft skin made him tremble in pleasure. He had experimented on animals but it just wasn't enough.

And so he became a forensic pathologist, someone who cut open corpses for examination purposes. He didn't want to become a criminal and that was the only way to cut people apart legally.

But soon he realized, it just wasn't the same. Cutting up dead bodies wasn't enough. The feel just wasn't there.

He needed a live body.

Working with the police department as a part of his daily job gave him insights to how the police operated. He was able to seize his first victim off of the street easily using that knowledge.

After his first live dissection, he became morbidly addicted to that pleasure and couldn't live without it. He began kidnapping more and more people off of the street, woman, man, old, young, he had tried them all. He never got caught. No one ever found out his secret, until now.

As he told his story, he gave Raiden a scalpel and guided him into slicing up her throat.

"Doesn't this feel great?" He had asked.

Raiden felt gross and sick, but he nodded nonetheless.

"These two are called the carotid arteries. They supply blood to the brain. Blood to the brain is like gasoline to cars. Without blood, your brain can't operate. By cutting them, you cut off circulation of the blood and thus killing your specimen."

The woman had stopped moving.

"See? She's dead." His father had then placed his gloved hands on Raiden's shoulder and leaned down to whisper next to his ears, "Which makes you the killer."

Raiden ended up staying awake the whole night thinking about what had just happened. He knew killing was a crime and in a society where justice triumphed and everyone supported heroes, homicide to this degree would for sure get you a life sentence or even execution. If others found out, even he, who was merely an accomplice, could go to jail. Raiden feared prisons. He would do anything to avoid it.

A few months later his quirk manifested. It was electricity. His father's quirk was shooting little bolts of electricity, yet Raiden could do that and cover his body with electricity. Upon the discovery, his father had told him, "The only reason why I was able to keep my secret for this long was because I stayed low. If you want to live, then remember this rule. Always have something up your sleeves. Don't ever let anyone find out your true power."

The next day they went to the Quirk Registration Office and Raiden's quirk was officially described as "being able to shoot out bolts of electricity," just like his father. He told no one that he could also cover his body with electricity and become a human stun gun, not even to his closest friends at school.

And so his life as his father's accomplice began. His father didn't let him touch the victims any more after that night, which Raiden was grateful for, and instead got him involved with abducting the victims. Raiden would investigate their target and find out their quirk. Once he knew the quirk wasn't harmful to them, he would lure the target away to his home and then shock them into unconsciousness.

Being a cute little boy had its advantages. All his targets would follow him willingly without any suspicion once they saw him crying and lost and desperate to find his parents.

Years flew by as this partnership continued and soon Raiden was eight. His father had just killed his last victim and had his eyes set on a cute, bubbly woman working at a bookstore. Her name was Inko according to her name tag. As always, Raiden had to lure her away and bring her to his house, which should be pretty easy considering her gullible nature.

The first day Raiden tried to kidnap her, he was followed by Bakugo Katsuki and had to stop. To be honest, he didn't hate Bakugo. He was just another arrogant kid who thought the world revolved around him. It had been fun shocking him in gym class and tormenting him together with his classmates. Being forced to participate in so many homicides, Raiden had become filled to the brink with negative emotions he was ready to unleash. And Bakugo just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As a class, they only planned to write insults on Bakugo's desk and insignificant things like that. But needing a target to vent, Raiden had gone out of his way to shock Bakugo and spread his nude photo. His friend Gamu had yelled at him afterwards, saying how he didn't plan to go this far and now he felt bad. But Raiden didn't care. It felt good tormenting someone else and he needed an outlet for his emotions.

After failing to kidnap Inko for two days in a row, his father was getting a little frustrated and ordered him to succeed on Monday otherwise he would see the consequences. It was his first time being threatened, and sensing the underlying fury in the voice, Raiden knew he had to succeed this time no matter what.

And so he wrote the note, lured Bakugo to the roof, and locked him there. He wasn't cruel enough to leave his classmate stranded on the roof on a rainy day, so he left the key at the end of the staircase, knowing a guard on patrol would notice it and rescue Bakugo. The note was made with water-soluble paper and would dissolve as soon as it got wet, so he didn't have to worry about it being used as an evidence against him. Bakugo didn't have a good reputation so no one would believe his words anyway.

After school, he went to the manga net-cafe and picked up a book to pretend he was reading. He waited for about fifteen minutes and finally, Inko got off work and began walking home.

He quickly left the cafe and trailed after her. Knowing her route home, he hid in a deserted alley and cried loudly when she walked past. He also purposely didn't bring an umbrella so he was soaking wet, adding on to her pity.

Hearing his voice, she immediately left the safe, crowded, main street and entered the secluded alley.

"Are you okay? Where're your parents?" She asked as soon as she reached him.

"I-I'm lost!" Raiden sobbed, hiding his face in his hands, his voice breaking.

"Oh no! Do you have a phone number? Or… Or an address?"

With a trembling hand, Raiden took out a slip of paper with his address on it but no phone number.

"How about I take you home? And then we can call your parents and tell them where you are."

Raiden nodded.

She held his hand and leaned the umbrella over heavily to shield him, despite how this gesture exposed her shoulder to the rain. Raiden felt a little touched. This lady would be a great hero, but she didn't have the quirk for it, or luck. She was going to die, painfully and miserably. It wasn't her fault. She was just unlucky.

Ironically, Raiden had the quirk to be a great hero, but he didn't have the heart and opportunity for it. His path was already sealed off.

When they reached his house which was located in an isolated part of the town where many security cameras didn't work, or seemed like they worked but in reality they didn't (according to his father), Raiden unlocked the door and allowed her inside. He let her step in first then he shut the door and raised his hands, ready to shock her into unconsciousness.

"You know, I have a son your age." She suddenly said, making him pause. "I just couldn't leave you alone after thinking of him being lost. I'm sure he would want someone to help him, too."

"Oh, okay," Raiden mumbled. Useless information. He couldn't care less if she had a son.

Sparks of electricity danced across his fingers, ready to be shot towards the poor woman. But before they could, Inko's next word made him freeze on the spot.

"His name is Midoriya Izuku. Maybe you even know him?"

Midoriya... Izuku?

This woman is… his mother!?

All of his plans was thrown out of the window as his mind was filled with only one thought.

Holy shit.

The second rule his father told him was to never target someone near you, knew you, or related to someone near you and or knew you. This way, you wouldn't be noted during the investigation, saving you from a lot of trouble in the future.

Raiden didn't know what to do. Should he let her go? But he had already gotten in contact with her. According to his father, he should never let go of his target once he had his eyes set on them. A good predator wouldn't change their mind. Even if the target become too difficult to prey on, they would overcome the challenge and capture their prey. They would never back down.

Before he could come to a decision, his father came down the stairs, expecting him to have already shocked her unconscious.

Inko looked up at him in surprise.

"Ah! I apologize for intruding, but I found your son lost on the streets and it was raining I just couldn't leave him alone. So I brought him home."

Father's eyes were clouded in anger and confusion.

"Raiden, what are you doing still standing there?" He questioned, completely ignoring Inko's explanation.

At this point, Raiden only had one choice. If he explained the situation to his father, even if he would let her go due to her being Izuku's mom, he couldn't because she would have heard the conversation and become suspicious. If he didn't explain, he would have to shock her. Either way, Inko was destined to become his father's playtoy in the end.

"Raiden," his father warned again. "If you're not going to do it, then I will."

Father raised his hands, ready to shoot out bolts of electricity. His quirk only allowed him to control electricity current that was higher than 1000mA, which could kill someone instantly.

Raiden didn't want Midoriya Inko to die, not only because he genuinely considered Izuku as a friend, but also because of the two rules. If she died, the police would investigate him for sure, and that wouldn't end well. He had to stop his father.

"Wait father—!"

Bolts of electricity shot out of his father's hands but before they could touch Inko, Raiden pushed her out of the way and shot his own bolts of electricity at his father hoping to stop him. In a moment of desperation, he didn't stop to think and instead released as much volts as he could physically endure.

1,000,000 volts!

His own electricity combined with his father's zipped through the air and hit his father right in the head.

His father convulsed violently, bright yellow electricity flashing all over his body and smoke seeping out of his blistered skin. His eyes rolled back and white foam seeped out of his mouth before he slumped onto the ground, charred black and dead.

Raiden fell onto his knees, his hands shaking with some residue currents, but mainly due to consternation. Inko was next to him, having fallen against the wall. She stared at the scene in horror, wide eyes darting between the corpse and Raiden before she screamed.

That snapped Raiden out of his trance. His mind spinning with possibilities, he yanked Inko's arm and pushed her towards the door.

"Run!" He yelled.

She stood there, still stupefied, before coming to her senses and running for her life.

Raiden slammed the door shut and took in the scene.

She was definitely going to call the police. And then they would find out everything and Raiden would get arrested for multiple crimes and go to prison or maybe even executed. Raiden had willingly become an accomplice to his father for all these years solely because he was terrified of prison. Due to the existence of quirks, prisons were also upgraded so even those villains with the most terrifying and invincible quirks would be thrown around like a lab animal. Raiden didn't want to go to prison, and he would do anything to not go there.

Killing off Midoriya Inko was a no go.

So he quickly gathered everything he needed: a bag full of living necessities and important documents, a wad of cash from his father's wallet, a few volumes of manga, a bag of candies, and his piggy bank; his hand hesitated above his All Might figurine before dropping back down. Stuffing all that in his backpack, he then gathered rubbing alcohol amongst many other flasks of chemical liquid from the torture room and spilled them all over the house. Standing outside the door, he threw a lit up match into the house and sprinted away, just in time for the house to explode.

The moment he turned around a corner, he heard sirens heading towards his aflame house from the other direction.

He continued running with no destination in mind. He just picked the isolated alleys and kept running until he either run out of breath or found a good hiding spot, whichever come first.

As he dashed around another corner, he clashed into a figure who was also making the turn. Raiden quickly stuttered out an apology before picking himself up and running away… but was halted when the figure grabbed onto him.

"Why the hurry?" Came a rough voice. It sounded laid back and calm, but there was an authoritative tone to it that demanded Raiden to lay down his life story.

Cautiously, Raiden turned around and studied the owner of the hand that was still grabbing onto his shoulder.

He was a middle-aged man with gray hair, a tiny mustache, goatee, and a missing front tooth. He wore a pair of gray, round glasses, a white button-up shirt, and had a cigarette dangling between his lips. His eyebrows were tilted down, making him look like he was frowning, but he was also smiling...

Raiden shook off the hand and chose to stare at the cigarette instead.

"Who are you?"

"Before asking for someone's name, isn't it common sense to introduce yourself first?" The suspicious man didn't look offended that his hand was shook off. Instead, he placed it in his pockets and inhaled deeply on his cigarette.

"It's also common sense to not talk to strangers," Raiden disputed but didn't walk away. He had just killed his father, burned down his house, and was now on the run from the police. He wasn't afraid of some stranger. Plus, his quirk was powerful enough to help him escape whenever he wanted.

The man choked and coughed out smoke. With tears prickling his eyes, he laughed. "You're a funny one alright. You can call me Giran. Now, may I have your name?"

"Kamiki Raiden," Raiden grumbled.

"And I assume you're running away from home?"

"How did you—"

"You also smell like you've just played with fire. I heard sirens a while ago and even from here you can see the smoke in the air. Look."

Raiden followed Giran's gaze and his heart sank when he saw very visible smoke in the sky coming from the direction of his house.

"Correct me if I'm wrong. You just burned down your house and ran away. People purposely burn down their house for three reasons. One, they want the insurance money. Two, they want to get away from something. Or three, they have something to hide or destroy, like evidence or a dead body. A little kid like you makes me think it's two, but your defensive behavior also makes me think it's three. So which is it? Raiden-kun?"

Raiden forced his gaze not to waver as he maintained eye contact, his hands clasping tightly around his shoulder straps.

"Fine." He sighed and released his grip. "I'll tell you."


"Hmm. I see, so that's what happened," Giran mumbled, nodding along.

They were sitting in the shadows under a bridge. Leaving with no choice, Raiden had told him everything. If this man had ill intention, he would just fry his brain with electricity, erasing his memories of their encounter. If this man was willing to help him, then why not give it a try? Raiden had no other options anyway.

"That surely is tragic, having a father like that. I'd say he deserves to be killed."

Raiden remained silent. The way this man sounded… almost as if he was supportive of murder.

Maybe he can help me.

"So, what are your plans for the future?"

Raiden pondered for a moment before replying. "When I was younger, I wanted to be a hero just like everyone else. But ever since finding out my father's secret, I've thrown that dream away. And now after everything that's happened, there's no way I can become a hero. I was thinking of running away and hiding… for the rest of my life."

Giran had this weird, indescribable smile on his face when he heard Raiden's response.

"What if I tell you that you can still be a hero?"

That got Raiden's attention.

"What? How!?"

Giran took out a business card from inside his wallet, handing it to him.

"Let me introduce myself."

It had a simple design, white background with black texts that said:

Giran
Manager of Shinsekai Charity Organization
Phone number: 70-3248-1412

"I work for the Shinsekai Charity Organization. And I can help you get a new life."

"B-But…" Raiden couldn't wrap his head around this. Charity? But didn't Shinsekai only deal with victims of disasters and villain attacks? "I'm a criminal and a runaway! Why… Why would you help me?"

"That is where you're wrong." Giran chuckled, leaning back against the wall and pulling out a cigarette before eyeing Raiden and putting it back. Apparently, he was kind enough not to smoke in front of a child. "We tell the public that we're a Charity who only helps victims of villain attacks and disasters, but that's not completely true. That's what everyone thinks a victim is, but in reality, victim can also mean someone like you who're forced to commit crimes. But in today's society, no one cares about your kind of victims. It doesn't matter why you killed, or kidnapped, or burned down your house. If you've committed a crime, you're a villain and you deserve to be defeated by heroes and go to jail."

He breathed in heavily and continued. "Heroes don't care either. Most heroes are only heroes for fame and fortune. They couldn't care less about the actual victims who need saving. Especially victims like you. They wouldn't risk their reputation and career to stand up for a questionable victim who had killed before. And that's where we come in. We're a Charity Organization that provides aid to all victims. In other words, we are the heroes for the villains. Even if you have killed before, if you're repenting and want a second chance of life but the public and law enforcement refused to grant you, we will step in and help you."

"What if you get caught?"

Giran barked out a laugh. "We have our ways to not get caught. How do you think we have avoided detection for so long?" He exhaled deeply and adjusted his posture so he was facing Raiden. "So what do you think, kid? Do you want our help or no? Do you want to start a new life with a clean slate with no one knowing your past and crimes? Do you want to live?"

The answer was obvious.

"Yes, I do."


Afterwards, Giran brought him to a hotel owned by Shinsekai. Victims who lost their homes due to a disaster would be given a room in this hotel for free until they could support themselves. The Even numbered floors were for them while the Odd numbered floors were for the questionable victims like Raiden.

They entered the hotel through a secret entrance and went directly to the entertainment area designed for the Odds. There, Giran introduced him to the Odd staffs who helped him with his disguise. He first took a shower and enjoyed his time in an indoor hot spring. Then, wearing a bathrobe, he wolfed down a cheeseburger while a staff member cut and dyed his hair and Giran looked over his personal documentations.

"You said you can shoot out electricity as well as cover yourself with it?"

Raiden slurped a can of coke with a content grin. "Yup. But I'm officially registered as the former."

"Perfect." Giran flicked the document. "We will register your new quirk as the latter. And from now on, you will be Kaminari Denki."

By now, the Odd staff lady was done styling his hair. Raiden spun around and almost fell off of his chair in shock when he saw his reflection in the mirror. His shoulder-length black hair was now cut short and dyed blond with a black lightning bolt-shaped highlight, complementing his gold eyes nicely. It was a simple disguise but just enough to conceal his identity.

Kaminari Denki... That's my new name.

Chapter Text

Inko wasn't home when Izuku arrived. It wasn't anything to worry about since he had planned to arrive before she did so she wouldn't discover his trip to the Game Center. But thirty minutes later she still wasn't back, and that was when Izuku started to worry.

He texted her and called her, his heart speeding up when she didn't answer. He called her again - no answer. Again - no answer. Just as he was about to call the police, she finally picked up.

"Mom? Mom! Where are you?"

"I-Izu...chan?"

Her voice was quiet and raspy, like she had just cried.

Izuku felt an invisible hand clench his heart, a sense of urgency rising within him.

"Are you okay?"

"...Mom is at the police station right now."

Why is she with the police!?

"But don't worry. I'm okay. I'm not in any trouble. So just stay home and I'll be back soon. There are some rice balls wrapped up in the fridge. Just heat them up if you're hungry. Love you."

"Wait-!"

She hang up before Izuku could say anything else. The call ended and the call screen vanished before his eyes. Izuku slumped back onto his couch and wrapped his arms around his wobbly knees, his feet turning cold in horror.

Don't tell me… The police found out about the gun...

"No… That can't be right. No one should have seen me. I made sure to lock the door and window and close the curtains… And the music is loud enough to drown out the noise…"

He murmured to himself as he rocked back and forth. It couldn't be the gun. He had to stop imagining the worst. Plus, didn't mom say she wasn't in any trouble? Maybe someone tried to steal her stuff and got caught by the police, so she had to stay there and give her statement.

Yeah, maybe that's it. Stop being so pessimistic, Izuku. Heroes stay optimistic, like Gentle and All Might. You gotta believe that things will get better. Like Gentle has said. Believing is the first step to reaching your dream.

Thinking back to his first encounter with Gentle had calmed him a little. Even so, it'd be hard to focus on his homework when his mom was still with the police. Needing something to do, Izuku heated up the rice balls as he turned on the TV. He switched between the channels, hoping to find something that could take his mind off of his concerns. And just when he thought the day couldn't be worse, he stumbled onto the news channel.

"This afternoon around four PM an unnamed student from Aldera Elementary School fell off the school building. School officials and the police are still investigating the cause of this incident…"

A video was displayed of a stretcher disappearing into the ambulance van. The viewers could only catch a flash of spiky blond hair before the ambulance door closed shut. Others may have a hard time identifying someone based on that small detail, but Izuku, who had known Bakugo for years, recognized him at first glance.

Suddenly all he could see was the ambulance on the screen driving farther and farther away as everything else faded from his senses. He could no longer hear the reporter's monotonous voice describing the incident, nor could he feel the softness of the seat cushion he was sitting on.

He couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing. Bakugo? That Bakugo? Falling off of the school building? Why!? What happened? Was it an accident? It had to be an accident. Bakugo would never jump off a building… like Izuku once attempted to. Bakugo just wasn't that type of person. Something must have happened. And Izuku was going to find out what.

Reality came rushing back when the news changed to something about a burning house. Izuku turned off the TV and went to his school bag, taking out the glass cage that contained the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar, which he had named Pi.

This morning on his way to school, he had prepared himself to ignore Bakugo for the rest of his life unless he apologized first, which was as unlikely as Izuku becoming a villain. He never thought Bakugo would actually admit his faults, let alone compensate for his loss. And now, he wasn't sure what to do with Bakugo. Should he apologize and go back to being friends? Or should he apologize and continue ignoring Bakugo?

Izuku still wasn't sure what to do, but he knew before he could do any of that, Bakugo had to be alive and well. His anger had long since faded and in place of them was concern. He may still be undecided about his relation with Bakugo, but friend or not, he needed to make sure Bakugo was fine.

With the glass cage on his lap, Izuku dialed the number for the Bakugo household but no one picked up. He wanted to rush to the hospital and check on Bakugo, but Inko's situation also concerned him, so he ended up rocking back and forth on the couch and playing with Pi until Inko came home.

She told him she had to give the police her statement because she was the witness of a murder. The entire situation confused her. Izuku was confused, too, upon hearing the story.

"So you helped a lost boy find his home and then he killed his dad?" Izuku's face fell. "Why?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out." Inko's expression was a mix of confusion, worry, and frustration. "But enough about that. What did you want to talk to me about?"

And so Izuku told her what he saw on the news. Inko was horrified. She called the Bakugo household like he did and they didn't pick up once again. Panicking, the mother-son duo called a taxi and rushed to the hospital.


That night, they visited Bakugo along with his parents. He was lying on a hospital bed, dressed in a hospital gown. Izuku had never seen him look so vulnerable before. Bakugo was always yelling, cursing, and sometimes hitting people. Yet here he was, lying motionlessly on the bed, relying on the medical ventilator attached to his mouth and nose to survive. One of his arm was in a cast while the other one had a needle poking through his pale skin. He looked so fragile and ailing as if a single punch could knock him out (of course, Izuku would never say that to his face).

The doctor said Bakugo's condition was stable. He had a few broken ribs, a dislocated arm, and a possible concussion, which they couldn't tell until he woke up. From the medical results, they estimated the fall to be about seventeen to twenty feet, which was about the second floor of the school building. Bakugo had no reason to be there since their classroom was on the first floor. His fall could be an accident or a suicide, but no matter the reason, the police was sure whatever that led him to the second floor was relevant to his fall.

Bakugo's parents looked devastated as they sat beside his bed, wishing for him to wake up. The look on their faces made Izuku's gut wrench with guilt. For some reasons, he felt like this was his fault. Something had happened to Bakugo when he was gone that led to this incident. If he didn't skip school, this wouldn't have happened. He would have noticed what changed Bakugo and stopped him from falling... or jumping.

But a small voice whispered in the back of his mind.

Is this really true?

Would he really save Bakugo?

When Bakugo killed Pie, Izuku was so mad the thought of killing Bakugo actually made him feel an intense satisfaction.

Would he be able to think rationally enough to care about what happened to Bakugo? And if he noticed what might cause the fall, would he be able to get over his rage and step in to save Bakugo?

Izuku told himself that he would, because that was the right thing to do.

But he knew that was a lie.

He was simply too afraid to admit how he really felt, to accept the other darker, unheroic side of him.

Because it scared him. The change, the absence of his forgiving side, the dark thoughts that rose when he was mad, the sick pleasure of seeing Bakugo gag on poop... Izuku refused to accept them as a part of him.

The more he stared at Bakugo's unconscious state on the bed, the more guilty and conflicted he felt. In the end, he voiced his discomfort and dragged his mom out of the hospital.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," Inko said as she hugged him briefly upon stepping out of the sanitary environment.

"It's not your fault," Izuku murmured, shaking his head. She probably thought he felt uncomfortable seeing his friend injured. He didn't bother telling her that they weren't friends anymore and Izuku was more uncomfortable with his own conflicted thoughts than with Bakugo's current appearance.

When they returned home, Izuku locked himself in his room, using his discomfort as an excuse to have some alone time. He hugged his comforter in a fetal position on his bed, not even leaving his room to eat dinner or take a shower as he reflected on himself.

The night went by just like that.

When he woke up the next morning free from nightmares thanks to the Remover Round, Izuku had come to acceptance with himself.

It was okay to have dark thoughts as long as he didn't act on them.

Thinking of doing bad things wasn't a crime. Actually doing them was. Villains were people who kill others, not people who thought about killing others. As long as you were a human, you'd have dark thoughts, like how his mom would say "He's so dead when he's back" whenever his dad send them a stupid, useless gift from oversea. You could think and say villainous things all the time, but as long as they weren't real, you weren't a villain.

Izuku was still on the right path to become a hero. After all, he liked saving people. Helping people made them happy and seeing them happy made him happy. What more proof would he need?

Maybe Bakugo was an exception to his "save everyone" policy. But he was sure if All Might were in his situation, he would be conflicted about saving All For One too, after the villain killed his pet.

At school, everyone was talking about the Bakugo incident. Rumors flew around. Some were ridiculously wrong, like Bakugo being possessed by the ghost of a student who committed suicide years ago, while others sounded quite legit. Izuku briefly entertained himself with the possibility of Bakugo being bullied while he was gone and deciding to off himself, but then he dismissed the gossip as mere hogwash. He was only gone for two school days, and two days weren't enough time to break a person and drive him to committing suicide, especially not Bakugo. He was too strong-willed and prideful for that to happen.

Another topic his classmates gossiped about was the disappearance of Kamiki Raiden. He didn't come to school today, and when the teachers called his house, no one picked up the phone. Yama-sensei told them that he would visit Raiden's house personally after school today to figure out the situation, and until then, everyone would just have to sit tight and wait.

School life without Bakugo was fun, but Izuku couldn't help but miss his presence. Sure, the way Bakugo yelled and bragged about himself was annoying. But without that, school was suddenly so much quieter, and the quiet was a little unnerving. Izuku had grown up with Bakugo, to suddenly have to live without him was like a vital part of his life going amiss. It felt wrong.

After school, he and Inko visited Bakugo again. Mitsuki and Masaru were already there by the bed and greeted them without their usual vigor. Inko placed down the basket of fruit she brought and slipped a get-well card Izuku wrote in between an apple and an orange. They stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. Inko and Bakugo's parents made light-hearted conversation while Izuku did his homework.

Nothing changed for the next few days. Bakugo still didn't wake up, and his parents were getting more and more agitated. Mitsuki especially looked like she hadn't eaten well for a few days. Her wrinkles were becoming more evident and a permanent frown marred her face. Her usually bright eyes were dim as if she had lost all hope in life.

Sometimes she'd blame herself for what happened to Bakugo, saying how she should have treated him better. When that happened, Masaru would hug her and rub circles on her back until she'd calmed down.

No one in school seemed to worry about Bakugo's situation but instead was more interested in Raiden's absence. Ever since his visit to Raiden's house, Yama-sensei had a haunted look on his face whenever a student asked him about it. He refused to say anything about it, and eventually, the students wisely stopped asking.

Even without Bakugo, life went on.

A week later when Izuku and Inko visited Bakugo again, they noticed that the basket of fruits had already gone rotten. While Inko stepped outside to throw it away, Izuku went to use the restroom right after Mitsuki received a call and pulled Masaru out of the room.

By the time all four of them returned, the bed was empty.


Sometimes Katsuki began to believe that the life he had was a mere dream. Nothing was real. He didn't have parents named Mitsuki and Masaru, nor a quirkless, childhood friend named Deku. Even his quirk was fake. Maybe he was actually quirkless as well. Or maybe the superhuman society was a fictional setting made up by some mangaka. The entire world could be fake. His memories, senses, emotions... All that could be fabricated.

Maybe this world was the real one. He had been here for so long he could no longer distinguish reality from hallucination. He didn't know how he got here. It just... happened. When he realized, he was already in this world that looked nothing different from the one in his dream. The only thing that was different was him.

He couldn't use his quirk. He couldn't speak, or smell, or even see. His knew his eyes were closed, but he could still see as if images were sent directly to his brain. He couldn't feel himself breathing, but he was somehow still alive. People were moving their mouth, speaking, but he couldn't hear them. He couldn't feel his body, but he could run.

He thought it was strange at first. Nothing made sense. But after so long, he started to accept this new norm.

Maybe this was how things were supposed to be. Maybe it was normal to be chased by an old drunk for days and days without feeling fatigue.

Every corner he turned he would see the drunk smiling creepily at him. Every alley he ran past he would see the creep waiting on the other end. The chase never ended. Day and night, Katsuki continued running. Sometimes he'd experience a shock, the only sensation he had felt since coming to this world, and then when he "woke up," his scenery would change and he would start running again.

Today was no different—he had lost count of how many days had passed. He ran and ran. The shock came. And then he was staring at white, square tiles. He lurched forward—he wasn't supposed to feel his body, but he did. He could feel the pounding pain in the back of his head, the itchiness of his hair that was wrapped under the bandage, the stiffness of his arm that was in a cast, the strange prickling sensation of the needle inserted into his left hand, and the sharp pain that shot up his bandaged torso when he sat up.

He could feel the air blowing into his mouth from the medical ventilator and hear the chatters outside the room and the birds twittering on the window sill.

Katsuki remained on the bed for a moment as he took in this new development before ripping the IV needle out of his skin and fixing the band-aid so it covered the blood that leaked through the wound. He then took off the ventilator and breathed.

The air smelled like chemicals.

He blinked.

The action felt weird yet somehow familiar to his body.

Katsuki didn't know what was going on but he knew he had to keep moving.

The creep was still coming after him.

Getting off the bed hurt his ribs. Breathing, walking, opening the door, any movement that required effort hurt. But he couldn't stop. The hallway was empty when he stepped out. Footsteps were coming from the right so he decided to sprint towards the left.

His ribs seemed to move with every step he took. He cradled his immobilized arm as close to his chest as possible to limit its movement, and wrapped his other arm around his sides only slightly so he didn't hurt his ribs any further.

Many patients and visitors gaped as he ran past them, still barefoot. Weird. They were actually reacting to his presence?

It was hard to keep up his pace as he ran out of the hospital. No matter how much oxygen he breathed in it never seemed to be enough. Katsuki even began to suspect that the reason why his ribs hurt so much was due to the incredible speed his heart was beating, almost as if it was trying to burst out of his chest and escape.

When he left the hospital parking lot and turned a corner onto a random street, Katsuki paused to catch his breath.

What was wrong with him today? Why was he actually feeling fatigue? And where did all these feelings came from? He wasn't supposed to feel anything.

And where was the creep?

He should have showed his ugly face by now.

Just as that thought crossed his mind, he heard the familiar grisly voice.

"I saw you on the news and followed you here..."

Katsuki whipped around, his breath quickening once again.

Standing behind him blocking his path to the parking lot was the drunk.

Seeing that creepy smile actually made Katsuki feel relieved. At least one thing remained the same.

He turned around and began running again.

The chase continued.

But...

"You can't run away from me!"

The drunk actually talked to him.

This hadn't happened before.

The next instant Katsuki stopped moving.

The drunk had caught up to him and was grabbing him by the collar.

This hadn't happened before either!

What's going on!?

"Let me go!" Katsuki yelled, his voice sounded foreign to his ears.

But the drunk didn't let go. He even wrapped his beefy arms around Katsuki's middle.

This isn't supposed to happen!

The chase was supposed to go on and on with no beginning nor end!

Why was this happening!?

Katsuki struggled with a rising sense of panic and just as those sweaty hands were about to enter his shirt, he heard a voice.

"Hold your breath!"

He complied instinctively.

Purple smoke entered his vision, encircling around them. The drunk cursed before his grip slackened, arms dropped down to his sides, and collapsed onto the ground, snoring loudly.

The smoke dispersed soon enough, revealing a boy with short, wavy, light brown hair. He looked not much younger than Katsuki and was wearing a strange-looking mask.

"You okay?" He asked tentatively, looking Katsuki up and down.

Katsuki nodded, still dazed.

He had no idea what the hell was even happening anymore.

"What happened? Why's he after you?"

Katsuki shook his head.

Wait... Why was he chasing me in the first place?

Why couldn't he remember?

"I... don't know. I need to get away. I have to keep running..."

"Do you have a home?" The boy asked. "Where are your parents?"

Home?

Parents?

Katsuki tried to remember. A long, long time ago, before this eternal chase began, he remembered a life where he had parents... Who were they again?

"I... I don't know. I can't..."

The boy lowered his head, pondering, before grabbing onto Katsuki's arm and pulled lightly. "I might know some people who can help you."

Katsuki allowed himself to be pulled to a vending machine where he stood aside as the other boy tapped on the keypad.

Is he going to buy me a drink?

As soon as the numbers were entered, the machine shook and slid to the side, revealing a hidden door behind it.

The boy then led him through the door into an elevator which brought them up to the fifteenth floor of a hotel... even though the building the vending machine was attached to was an apartment complex and had only two floors.

Katsuki already had too much surprise in one day he didn't even blink when this whole phenomenon occurred. Honestly? He probably wouldn't even bat an eyelid if All Might suddenly appeared in front of him.

As they walked, the boy explained.

"...villains are put on the odd numbered floors. But don't worry! I'm sure they're willing to help after hearing about you!"

"Oh."

They stopped in front of a door — Room 1541, Katsuki noticed — and the boy took out a keycard, swiped it, and walked in.

"This is the room they gave me! This bed is mine, and that other one belongs to my roommate." The boy pointed at a bed with purple comforter on the left side of the room and the other one with black comforter on the right side. "Wait here! I'm gonna tell the others about your situation! I'll be back soon!"

The boy ran out the door. Before the door closed, Katsuki heard.

"Oh hey! Raiden! You're back!"

"Call me Denki dammit! What if someone hears!?"

"Don't worry, no one's around! Oh, by the way! I met this kid..."

And then the door closed and the conversation was cut off.

Katsuki stood in the center of the room that seemed to have suddenly dropped a dozen degree.

Raiden...

The name echoed in his mind.

Why does it sound so familiar?

The name triggered a memory from a long, long time ago, but he couldn't remember the details. As he focused on that specific memory, the pounding pain in his head grew in intensity, but Katsuki bore with it. This could be the answer to all his questions. The reason why he could feel again and the chase ended when it wasn't supposed to end and his world changed the way it did... And what the fuck was wrong with this hell of a day.

Katsuki was almost there. His head hurt so much but it was worth it. He was almost grasping the memory.

And then the door opened.

A person walked in.

And Katsuki remembered.

"Gold-eyes..."

Gold-eyes froze at the doorway, his gold eyes widening in shock and horror.

"Bakugo!?" He exclaimed, equally surprised. "What the-! How do you-! Wait! Mustard was talking about you!? But he said you lost your memories!? How—"

Katsuki let out a long sigh. Having finally distinguished dream from reality, he felt like himself again.

"I never lost my memories, shitface."

"No, how do you even recognize me!?"

That's a good question.

When he was focusing on that memory the two things that stood out the most was the name "Raiden" and a pair of gold eyes. So when he saw those gold eyes, he instantly recognized them as the ones from that memory and realized who the owner was.

"That kid said this is a place for villains, apparently?" Katsuki jeered, ignoring the question. "I never thought you'd stoop so low and actually become a villain. But it's not like I didn't see this coming. The way you acted in school, particularly towards me, just shows how you're the perfect villain material."

Gold-eyes gritted his teeth, narrowing his eyes. They were like a frozen lake, frosty and glazed over but beneath them held an infinite amount of emotions.

"You know nothing about me. I didn't want to be a villain!" He spat, fists curling along his trouser seam.

"But you are a villain. The end result is what matters, right?" Katsuki smirked, seeing the culprit of his public humiliation being cornered brought a sense of guilty pleasure within him. He couldn't help but keep taunting. "I wonder how would everyone think? Our classmates hate me. Imagine their faces when they find out that you're a villain! Now who would be hated more? Huhhh?"

"Shut up! This is not going to happen!" Gold-eyes raised his hands abruptly, his eyes flashing with fierce aggression. "They are not going to know. And you will not tell them! I won't let you destroy my new life!"

Before Katsuki could even blink, at least a hundred bolts of bright, surging electricity slammed into his head.


Mitsuki would have never picked up that phone call if she knew this would happen.

Katsuki had been in a coma for over a week with no sign of waking up. Who would think it would only take a few minute of her absence for this to happen?

When her phone rang showing the undertaker's name as the caller ID, she didn't think much before pulling her husband out of Katsuki's room and into the empty room next door before picking it up. She didn't need to be superstitious to know talking about death and funeral right next to someone in a coma was a retarded move.

The call took about five minutes.

She returned just in time to see Izuku and Inko reaching the door simultaneously.

They traded a glance, smiled, and opened the door.

Time seemed to have stopped as all four of them just stood at the doorway like idiots staring at the empty bed before Mitsuki screamed out profanities.

They searched for Katsuki for hours, practically flipping the entire hospital inside out. But still, there was no sign of him. In the end, they even got the police involved. And for the first time since her son fell into that coma, Mitsuki cried. She thought she had already cried out everything she had when she first heard about his fall, but apparently she underestimated her tear ducts.

From afternoon until night fall, they searched nonstop. Mitsuki ran over a dozen blocks looking for her son. Even when her knees were aching and her foot was swollen after a misstep and spraining it, she still tried to limp and contribute to the search. It took both Masaru and Inko to sit her down in a police car for her to stop hurting herself any further.

It was by pure luck that they found him, or rather, Mitsuki found him. The officer was on his way driving her to her house when she caught a mop of spiky blond hair poking out of those tunnel thingy at a playground. The officer nearly had a heart attack when she screamed next to his ears ordering him to stop.

As soon as the car jerked to a stop, she kicked open the door and limped her way over as fast as she physically could. When the pain became too much, she began jumping on one leg.

The mob of blond hair squirmed before its owner raised his head and crawled out of the tunnel.

Mitsuki practically flew to his side and hugged him with all her might.

"Katsuki! You idiot! Why did you run away!? Do you know how worried we are!?"

When the expected reply didn't come, Mitsuki slowly withdrew from the hug and looked, actually looked, at her son.

Katsuki's eyes were blank and confused, his expression startled and dumbfounded.

He raised his hands... and pushed her away.

And then he said the three words that shattered her heart.

"Who are you?"

Chapter Text

The walls were painted like a child’s drawing, blue sky, green grass, and stickers of iconic cartoon characters plastered across the field. Surrounded by so much immaturity made Katsuki uncomfortable. Just staring at these decoration made him feel like he had lost a few hundred brain cells.

Mickey Mouse... Doraemon… Hello Kitty… You're kittying me. Are you sure this isn't a therapy clinic for babies...?

Katsuki thought grudgingly to himself.

The past few weeks had been incredibly frustrating. He couldn't remember anything. Not his name, or his hobbies, friends, family. Nothing. Even though he could recognize the popular heroes and some car brands and these childish iconic figures, when it came to personal memories, they all seemed to have decided to take a vacation from his mind.

He hated the feeling of not knowing things, especially things he was supposed to know. It made him feel like he was behind everyone else. And the fact that everyone kept showing off the fact that they knew more about him than he did himself was particularly irritating.

Then, the way everyone treated him pissed him off. First, the woman who called herself his mother pampered all over him as if he was a baby who couldn't do shit. Seriously. Just because he lost his memories didn't mean he also lost his ability to survive on his own! He could take a shower by himself thank you very much!

And then there was this green-haired kid who kept on looking at him weirdly. What the hell was his problem? Did Katsuki know him before losing his memories? Were they friends? Enemies? If they were then why didn't he say something? It was frustrating as hell being stared at everyday by those wide, doe eyes. Thank heavens his parents decided for him to transfer schools, saying how they could no longer trust Katsuki to this school. They hoped that moving could help him start fresh. Katsuki didn't care. He was just glad to be away from that green kid.

The doctor in charge of him was also annoying as heck. He insisted that Katsuki had to stay at the hospital for more tests, something about aftereffects of a coma. And when Katsuki was finally let out a week later, he had to go to this Children Therapy Clinic in the new city he moved to weekly so the therapist lady could ask him lots of personal questions and poke her nose where it didn't belong.

Katsuki dreaded clinic visits. He hated the therapists, the immature decorations, and even the round-faced girl currently sitting across from him. She was always here when he arrived for his appointment. Presumably her appointments were around the same time as his. Every time he saw her, she'd have her head down and a frown etched into her round face, her shoulder length brown hair shadowing her eyes. She'd stare at her toes gloomily and fiddle with her hair until they became all tangled and messed up, and then she'd switch sides and fiddle with another strand. Just looking at her made Katsuki sad. She was practically a melancholy doll that spread depression wherever she went.

Hoping to get a rise out of her, he stood up suddenly and kicked the table in between them, causing the puzzles pieces and building blocks to tremble and tumble off the edge.

She didn't react.

"Hmm..."

Katsuki narrowed his eyes and plopped back down onto his seat.

"You know," he spoke. "If you keep frowning your face will get stuck like that."

Round Face snapped up to glare at him.

Katsuki smirked. Finally, she reacted.

"What I look like is none of your business!"

"It is when it starts to bother me."

The girl puffed up her cheeks, fuming.

"Well! Your face isn't any better either!"

Katsuki was offended.

"Hey I'll let you know my face is as perfect as it can get! And it'll probably be the most handsome face you'll see in your life!"

Round Face grinned cruelly, her eyes glinting in mischief. "Sure Mister Handsome who's as handsome as an angry pomeranian."

"Who're you calling a dog!?" Katsuki jumped out of his seat and planted one foot onto the table menacingly. Round Face placed her index finger against her lips and hushed him when they heard footsteps nearing the room.

"Is everything okay?" A woman asked as she cracked the door open slightly.

"Everything's good!" Round Face chirped, then she kicked Katsuki's shin beneath the table.

Katsuki had to bite down his lips to hold back a shriek.

Is her foot made of steel or what!?

He practically snarled with a strained smile. "W-We're good."

The woman glanced between them uncertainly before disappearing behind the door.

"Look," Round Face sighed as Katsuki sat back down, rubbing his shin. "I don't know what your issue is but can you just leave me alone? I don't feel like arguing with you right now."

"How can I leave someone alone when they're infecting me with their depression?"

"It's not like I wanted to be sad!"

" Look ." Katsuki threw the word right back at her. "I don't know what happened to you, but you're at a therapy clinic now, and you will get better. The therapists here, annoying as they may be, are experienced and they will make you better. So stop looking as if someone killed your dad."

To his dismay, instead of brightening up to his words, Round Face's round face crumbled.

"B-But papa is dead!"

Oh crap.

"Shit, I—"

Round Face shook her head, twisting and tugging her hair almost subconsciously. "And things aren't going to get better! Why didn't papa save himself first? Did he not care how we would feel if he dies?"

Katsuki scratched his cheeks, deciding to just let her rant. He was the one who pressed her button; he'd have to deal with the consequences.

"I saw it on TV. If he didn't stay behind to evacuate the other workers, he would have gotten away in time before that ferris wheel hits the construction zone. Everyone’s praising him for being a hero, but I don't care about any of that! I don't want my dad to be a hero! I just- I just want him back!" Round Face wiped her sleeves across her face, smearing tears and snot all over it. Katsuki cringed. "If papa was more selfish, he wouldn't have died."

Her voice trailed off to a whisper, fading into the background as the ticking of the clock and the quiet conversations beyond the door filled the silence.

Katsuki wasn't one for silence. It made him feel all itchy inside, like a cat being forced into a box a size too small causing it to scratch the surface trying to claw its way out. Plus, after that sincere reveal of her tragic past, he would feel bad if he didn't say anything.

"I don't think that's why your dad died."

Round Face fixated her fierce gaze on him, daring him to challenge her.

"He didn't die because he's selfless and stayed behind to save everyone. He died cause he's weak ."

"Excuse me?"

"Take All Might for example. He intentionally charges into dangerous situations to save people, but he always wins, and never even gets hurt. He's selfless too. So what's the difference?" Round Face opened her mouth to say something but Katsuki beat her to it. "Power. That's what. If your dad wasn't so weak, if he was as strong as All Might, he would have survived and won and wouldn't have to leave you."

The door suddenly opened as a woman walked through. Following behind her was a boy about their age with red and white hair, holding onto her hand with a timid smile.

"Katsuki-kun? Your therapist is ready for you." She turned to the boy with weird hair. "Shouto-kun, go take a seat. Your mother is on her way. I'll be seeing you next week!"

The strange boy nodded shyly and sat down two seats away from Katsuki, who got up and went to the woman who was smiling warmly at him. Before walking through the door, he turned to look at Round Face one last time.

"Remember. Being strong is the only way to survive and protect what's important to you." Both Round Face and the strange boy perked up at this. "Also, stop frowning. You look ugly like that."

"Hey!"

Smirking, Katsuki closed the door cutting off whatever comebacks she had in store for him.

That conversation was the most fun he'd experienced since losing his memories. It was nice to have someone who would talk back and argue with him (unlike that green kid who didn't talk but just staaaared ). Katsuki couldn't wait for his next appointment. Maybe he would meet her again?

Damn. I forgot to ask for her name.


The next time he met her, he forgot to ask for her name again.

The third time too, but he did find out her quirk!

It wasn't until the fifth time that he remembered to ask her.

"So, what's your name, Ugly?"

"It's Uraraka!" Round Face yelled, pouting. "Uraraka Ochako!"

"Oh, Uglyraka?"

"Don't call me that!"

"Fine, Ugly."

"Call me Uraraka!"

And so began this quirky friendship.

Every conversation was a banter. Every few sentences there would be an insult. But neither of them felt offended. In fact, both of them loved jibing at each others. It was almost like a competition. Whoever could render the other speechless first would win the fight.

If they were anyone else, they'd probably be hating each others' guts by now. But they weren't anyone else, this unusual duo actually grew closer the more their pride took a hit. You could almost describe them as masochistic, albeit you'd get more than a simple slap in the face if they heard you.

A few months later they'd moved their meetings from the little waiting room in the clinic to each other's houses. Both parents were glad that their child was making friends and returning to their old self (although for Uraraka she had also become more aggressive as well). Friendship turned out to be a better therapy than professional therapy sessions, and soon, both had stopped making appointments with the clinic and were now hanging out on a daily basis.

"I've decided!" Announced Uraraka one day.

She was sitting on the swing in the playground where Mitsuki found Katsuki, immediately jumping out of the swing in midair and landing in the soft sand upon seeing him.

"What," Katsuki asked, a little taken back by her eagerness. Usually when she bounced around nonstop with stars dancing in her eyes, he'd have to prepare himself for either 1) bad news for him, 2) good news for her, or 3) good news for her but bad news for him. "Spit it out."

"I!" Uraraka skipped right up to his face, her eyes sparkling with delight. "Have. Decided!"

Katsuki backpedalled so fast he slipped on the sand and landed on his butt. "What the hell is it!? Just say it already!"

Standing above him with hands on her hips, Uraraka announced, "I'm going to become a hero!"

She stood at that perfect spot between Katsuki and the sun, causing her form to glow like a goddess.

But Katsuki wasn't fooled. He knew she was nowhere even close to being a goddess.

"Really? You called me out here just to tell me this stupid thing? Everyone wants to be a hero, Miss Obvious." Katsuki stood up, brushed off the sand, and began heading back the way he came from.

"Waaait! Wait, Bakugo!"

Katsuki glanced down at the iron grip on his forearm, her five fingertips touching his bare skin threateningly. He sighed.

"What do you want?"

"Practice with me."

"No."

"I need to train my quirk to become stronger, and household objects are too light. I can't practice it on book shelves and cabinets either cuz if I lose control, they'd fall and break. So I think a human is the best training dummy!"

"And what if you lose control and drop me?"

"..." She stuck out her tongue and cocked her head to the side. "Tehehe."

"Don't 'tehehe' me!"

"B-But! Think of it this way! Not many people get to experience what it's like to defy gravity! It'll be fun! I promise!"

"Our definition of fun is not the same."

A smirk crawled onto her face.

"Are you scared, Bakugo-kun?"

Katsuki narrowed his eyes, lips curling into a sneer.

"Scared? Hah!" He grabbed her hand and placed it on his forearm. "Try me."

Me? Scared!? She's lost her mind!

Katsuki thought haughtily to himself. He may not remember who he was before, but he knew he was no coward, sensing the inborn vexation that rose within him upon hearing the accusation.

Uraraka looked a little surprised that her goading actually worked. Her facial expression flashed from shocked, to joy, to glee, and when Katsuki caught the glint of mischief in her eyes, it was too late to back out, not that his pride would let him do so anyway.

"Brace yourself."

That was the only warning he received before all weight vanished from his body and his feet left the ground. Without gravity to stabilize his body, Katsuki found himself tumbling in the air, head over heels, feet over head. The world spun in a strangely familiar way, almost as if he had been in this position before…

“You’re… heavy, Bakugo.” Came Uraraka’s strained voice.

“Are you calling me fat?” Katsuki joked and immediately regretted it as nausea hit him like a brick. Everything he had eaten that day seemed to be doing flip flops in his stomach as his somersaulted in the air, floating higher and higher. He snapped his mouth shut, trying to force down that lump in his throat. Seeing the ground gradually gaining distance from him brought a strong feeling of deja vu along with an emotion he refused to accept.

“Put me down.” Katsuki whispered in a quivering voice.

“What did you say?”

He was now almost ten feet away from her so she probably didn’t hear what he just said.

“I said put me down!”

Weight returned to his body as soon as he yelled, causing him to fall head first towards the sandy ground. Katsuki squeezed his eyes shut, letting fear take over his mind. The feeling of deja vu was getting stronger than ever. This had happened before. He could feel it, but couldn’t remember when. He was falling, falling, and then... what happened?

With his eyes closed, Katsuki could hear his rapid breathing resonating in his ears as air whooshed past him. He waited for the imminent pain but all he received was a slap on the head before his body became weightless again.

“I… I’m sorry!”

Katsuki opened his eyes to Uraraka apologizing with a guilty look on her face. She touched her fingertips together to release her quirk and he landed on the ground without a scratch.

“I didn’t know you’re afraid of height! I’m so sorry! I…”

“I’m not afraid!” Katsuki cut her off roughly. He knew she was right. He was afraid. He, Bakugo Katsuki, was afraid of a little height. How embarrassing would it be to actually admit that? “I’m not afraid of height. So do it again.”

“Huh?” Uraraka bit her lips, hesitant. “Are you sure? If you’re afraid, then we don’t have to do this anymore. I can ask someone el—”

“I said I’m not afraid! Are you deaf!?”

Uraraka perked up an eyebrow at the insult and eagerly reached out her hand.

“Do it again. Keep using your quirk on me until I can stay level-headed in the air.”

Her fingers touched his bare arm.

“If you say so.”


"But for the TCP/IP model, the Network Interface layer includes the Physical and Data Link layer and the Application layer includes the Session layer, Presentation layer, and Application layer from the OSI model. First, let's start with the Application layer."

Quickly jotting down notes, Izuku raised his hand and asked, “But is this really going to help with hacking?”

Manami sighed for the fifth time during this session. “Yes, Izuku. This is just the basics to hacking. I can’t teach you the ‘how’ if you don’t understand the ‘what’.”

Izuku scratched his head with his pencil. “Alright…”

As Manami continued explaining the purpose of each layer, Izuku thought back to his motives for learning hacking in the first place.

Unlike Hitoshi who asked Manami to teach him hacking out of pure interest, Izuku had to do so because he had no other choice.

Many things had happened in the past few month. After Bakugo’s incident and recovery, his parents decided that moving to another city was the best decision. They didn’t tell anyone why, not even Izuku and his mom, despite being in such a close relationship for years.

Izuku had visited them many times, hoping he could figure out his conflicted feelings for Bakugo upon seeing him. But every time he saw Bakugo, he would forget everything he had prepared to say and end up staring at the new Bakugo awkwardly like a creep.

Should Izuku reconcile with this new Bakugo? How would he start? “Hello I’m Izuku we’ve been friends since we’re babies and you like to bully and insult me because I used to be quirkless”? Or “Hi we used to be friends but then you murdered my pet and I made you eat poop and we’re not friends anymore but since you lost your memories I’m hoping we can go back to being friends again?”

Yeah right. Izuku would kick himself in the face if Bakugo didn’t kick it for him after hearing those ridiculous introductions.

The new Bakugo wasn’t much different from the old Bakugo. He still cursed and get annoyed easily, but he was also nicer in some ways. At least he didn’t call Izuku “Deku” anymore. That was a plus. But Izuku had no doubt that Bakugo would get physical if he was really pissed off.

Unsure of what to do, Izuku ended up visiting Bakugo daily and staying in his hospital room only to stare at him awkwardly for hours until Inko decided their visit for the day was over.

It was pure coincidence that Izuku was there when the police visited Bakugo and his parents in the hospital the day before he was released.

Hiding behind the door, Izuku heard many things, like how the security guard was caught sleeping on post and was later fired. The only reason why he got to Bakugo on time and called the ambulance was due to the shrilling screech of the security alarm that detached from Bakugo’s belt upon hitting the ground.

But what caught his attention wasn’t that.

It was the photo the police found on the internet.

The identity of the uploader was still a mystery, but the police suspected that this photo must have something to do with Bakugo falling, or jumping, off of the building.

The day after this meeting, Bakugo was released from the hospital and a week later his family moved to another city.

Izuku had called Mitsuki regarding the photo, but she told him not to worry about it before hanging up. He tried asking the police about the result of the investigation, but they only told him “a very bad person uploaded the picture” before ushering him out of the police station.

Like the police said, this photo may be the only clue to the reason behind Bakugo’s fall. He wasn’t the kind of person to commit suicide, so he must have been pushed off of the building. All of this happened during Izuku’s absence. In other words, if he hadn’t skipped school, this wouldn't have happened.

This mystery was like a fishbone stuck in his throat, its presence constantly reminding him as he breathed and ate and drank that he had indirectly caused Bakugo to fall, which led to his memory loss. Izuku had to figure out what happened before his guilt ate him alive.

The photo had already been taken down from the internet, but Izuku knew which site it was posted to and had the link to it. The only person he knew who could hack was Manami, but there was no way he was getting her involved in this. This case involved a nude photo of Bakugo, and without Bakugo’s consent, Izuku would not spread this photo in any way or form.

And that led him to his current predicament: an hour long hacking lesson with Manami every day.

It was always easy to do something when he had the interest and enthusiasm, like classes in YHP. But at times when he was forced to do something, like school and homework, he often wished to go back to his mom’s womb and stay there forever. No matter how much the doctors prod and poke him, Izuku. Would. Not. Leave. The. Womb!

However, despite how tedious computer knowledge was, Izuku still attended each scheduled lessons in a timely manner. For one, he needed this skill to unravel the mystery of Bakugo’s fall. And secondly…

“...takes data from the Transfer layer and puts them into packets, transferring them to other devices. You can think of it as the post office, taking your mail, packaging it, and delivering to your destinations. If at any point in time the package needs to transfer networks, the router would come into play.”

Izuku glanced at her face as she talked.

Manami usually wasn’t a talkative person. She wasn’t shy either; she just didn’t talk much. This was one of the rare occasions that Izuku saw her talk on and on with an excited grin on her face and eyes that glowed with happiness.

She didn’t have to teach him hacking. It took time away from her own life, not to mention she was also teaching Hitoshi who was on a different schedule. But no matter how busy she was, she still agreed without hesitation.

Because she was his friend and she cared about him.

She was putting this much effort into his request. What kind of friend would he be if he wasted her time and effort by not taking anything away from these lessons?

“Izuku? Are you listening?”

“Switches control the devices, and routers control the switches, right?” Izuku said without missing a beat. “Yeah, I’m listening.”

Manami smiled softly. “Alright. Next, let’s talk about hubs.”

And the lesson went on.


Two years later...

“You sure you know where to go?”

“Yes mom.” Izuku chuckled. “I have the location marked on my Map. It’s more reliable than a GPS so don’t worry about me being lost.”

“Okay, just making sure.”

“Beside, I’ve been there before. I know where it is.” Sitting on the porch, Izuku put on a shoe. It was a steel-toed red running boot with nylon mesh lining and removable polyurethane insole that offered airflow and breathability, keeping his feet cool and dry if water got in, which was impossible considering its ultra hydrophobic coatings.

This SmashGuard Steel-toed Running Boots was bought with 3000 REP points from the bazaar a few months ago. It was automatically resized to fit his feet and was then customized to a color of his choosing, which was red.

He needed a specific type of shoes for a technique he invented, and to his convenience, the bazaar had the exact type he needed.

“When did you go there?”

“When I first entered YHP.” Izuku put on another shoe. “We went quest hunting during lunch and passed by the cheesecake factory. It was right next to it. At the time the building was still up for rent though.”

“So it’s a new trampoline park.” Inko frowned, concerned. “Are you sure it’s safe? It’s only opened for a few years. That’s not enough time to build trust with customers regarding safety concerns…”

“You’re worrying too much, mom.” Izuku stood up, shouldering his magic backpack and giving her a hug. “We’ll be fine. And you can place your trust in Gentle Trampoline because it’s owned by Gentle who’s my friend and… my hero.”

Inko stared into his eyes, holding eye contacts for a few seconds before her features softened and she cradled his cheeks, pressing her lips gently onto his forehead.

“I trust you, and I know your judgement is never wrong, so I’ll trust this Gentle person for now.”

Izuku took out his bike, which now had 17/20 durability after two years of use.

“Be safe and don’t spend too much!” Inko called out after him as he pushed his bike out the front door.

“No worries cause Gentle’s paying for the party!”

"I guess this Gentle person is worthy of my trust" was the last thing he heard before shutting the door.

Chuckling, Izuku got onto his bike and rode away.

Chapter Text

Two years could do a lot to a person.

When Izuku first met Gentle, the young man had nearly given up all hopes of becoming a hero. Two years later, he was in college and had started his own business. And now, four years after that fateful meeting, Gentle's business was thriving, he was almost finished with college, and according to the introduction he had just given the group, he was working as a sidekick in a hero company.

If Izuku didn't know him, he'd never think the graceful man in front of him with the expensive business suit, stylishly combed hair, and every movement that screamed "I'm a gentleman!" was the same person who broke down in tears four years ago due to a compliment from a six-year-old kid.

"Izuku… That's Gentle?" Manami whispered in disbelief, pointing at the stylishly dressed man with a trembling finger. "That's the hero who saved your life… Gentle!?"

She had pulled him aside as soon as they stepped into Gentle Trampoline.

"Uh… huh." Izuku nodded, taking a step back from Manami who now had stars in her eyes. Before he could slip away unseen, Manami spun around so fast her twintails almost slapped him on the cheeks.

Grabbing onto his shoulders with unfitting strength for her size, she gasped out loud. "You never told me he's so… so…" Redness crawled onto her face, extending to her ears and down her neck, making her skin almost as red as her red hair. She quickly slapped a hands onto her cheeks and crouched down, fanning her face with the other hand.

"Is everything alright, Ma'am?" Gentle paused his introduction to the rest of the group who were a few steps ahead of them and walked over to Manami in concern.

That only turned her into a blushing, spluttering mess.

Unlike two years ago, Izuku now had the basic understanding of love and attraction. He may not had experienced a crush yet, but he could tell when someone was in love.

Izuku didn't know whether to smile or cry as he watched Manami's failed attempts to cool down her face.

He never harbored any feelings for her. But now, seeing the girl who was always by his side glancing at another man with love in her eyes, he felt a strange, uncomfortable sensation in his heart. It was the same feelings he experienced whenever Bakugo stole his toys.

Bakugo may be a terrible bully, but Izuku was glad he met him.

If that incident with Bakugo never happened, Izuku would still be trembling in fear whenever he encountered bullies. And he'd never be able to become a hero if he couldn't even stand up for himself without avoiding eye contacts and shaking from head to toe.

Bakugo ended up transferring, completing his quest, and Izuku was able to suppress those memories of pain, suffering, and the rare instances of joy. But sometimes he couldn't help but be reminded of his childhood friend again. Those instances were short and those thoughts were often cut off sharply by...

"Izuku!"

Izuku jolted back to reality. He had subconsciously followed everyone and changed to the proper indoor attire according to the trampoline regulation. Everyone except Manami and Hitoshi were already jumping around the trampoline house where every single object was bouncy, including the walls and air itself. Manami seemed to be asking Gentle to take a selfie with her as she held up her phone, while Hitoshi was nudging Izuku with a knowing look in his eyes.

"What?" Izuku stepped onto an air stairway with a bounce in his steps. "Why're you staring at me like that?"

"Feeling jealous cause your girlfriend dumped you?" Hitoshi smirked, trailing after him.

"She's not my girlfriend!" Izuku shook his head vigorously. "I don't like her that way."

"Really? You looked pretty down back there." Hitoshi hooked an arm around his shoulder and began to talk with a mellow, woeful voice. "Childhood crushes never last. If it makes you feel better, I bet she'll soon dump that Gentle guy as well."

"Don't talk about her like she's seriously considering dating a man ten years older than her." Izuku punched his chest, chuckling. "And who are you? A seventy years old old man?"

"I'm just joking!" Hitoshi rubbed his chest with a fake groan. "Seriously though, cheer up. After today, Manami-chan will officially be finished with YHP since she's already twelve and we'll only be able to see her if we meet up outside of school. So let's enjoy our last day together."

"Yeah, Izuku." Yuuga popped into view, bouncing between two balloons floating in the air. "Cheer up! Watch me, and smile☆!"

He proceeded to grit his teeth with a concentrated look, his body hunched over, and then with a cry of "Here I go~☆", beams of laser shot out of his belly button, palms, and feet. As Yuuga bounced and spun in the air, the successive beams of laser blasted around the room, creating a disco ball-like effect.

"I call it the '☆Navel Laser Buffet☆'!"

"Wow! That's amazing!"

"How do you do that!?"

"It's by using these!" Yuuga canceled his '☆Navel Laser Buffet☆' and jumped onto the staircase before Izuku and Hitoshi, showing them his palms. At first glance, nothing seemed to be out of the norm. But on closer inspection, they could see a transparent gel-like sticker on the palms of his hands. "I got this portable sticker set as a gift from someone years ago. It helps me control my quirk, lessens the recoil, and transports my laser from one sticker to the other. It doesn't hurt to peel off either cause it's made of hydrogel and it doesn't feel uncomfortable at all wearing it."

Satisfaction rose up within Izuku at the sight of Yuuga grinning happily as he showed off his PSS to the other kids who got their curiosity piqued by his '☆Navel Laser Buffet☆.' The 3000 REP points he spent to buy Yuuga this gift was worth seeing that dazzling smile on his face, no longer troubled by his pain-inducing quirk.

"Ah, you smiled, Izuku." Yuuga noticed. He bounced past the kids crowding him and grabbed Izuku by the hand. "I'm glad you seemed happier now. Let's enjoy Manami-chan's going away party with a smile☆!"

Izuku looked around at all the excited kids beaming at him, and he nodded.

"Yeah. Let's get this party started!"


March began a new school year at UA High School and among a group of chattering students at the entrance was Todoroki Fuyumi, swaying slightly with unsteady steps.

"That's her!" Cried one second year student, pointing at Fuyumi and whispering to a first year next to him. "The daughter of Endeavor! She's exactly the same as her dad, cold, ruthless, and aggressive. Once she even gave her classmate a third degree burn during training!"

"What the hell! Who does that in a training to be heroes!?"

"I know right? She's always so serious during our training sessions. No one wants to be her opponent cause once she starts fighting she wouldn't stop unless one of them is knocked out! She treats her opponents like actual villains!"

"Merciless."

"Absolutely insane."

Those words passed through her ears and without even running them through her mind she let them slip out of her other ear. In her past year here she had heard countless insults like such, some even worse. She had long since accepted the fact that her reputation in this school was as low as it could get. Her classmates hated her for taking training sessions so seriously. Her teachers, too, disliked it when she fought seriously and hurt her classmates because they were either too weak or treating this like a game.

Those classmates… those children, didn't experience the same things she did so they would never understand. If they didn't become heroes, they had plenty of other paths to choose. No one would suffer if they failed. No one would be disappointed if they failed.

But if Fuyumi failed, Endeavor would be disappointed. He'd think she wasn't worth his time and Shouto instead had more potential to be his masterpiece. Her dear little brother would have to go back to his days of suffering and she would never forgive herself if she allowed that to happen.

She had to work hard to impress Endeavor. Aside from the mandatory eight hours of school, she spent seven hours of her own time following her father's ridiculously tough training routine and only when she'd met his daily quotas was she allowed to study. If she didn't finish her homework until one o'clock, then she couldn't sleep until one o'clock. She'd be lucky if she could get five hours of sleep on a school day.

Every single day, the pressure of the heavy expectation weighed down on her. Sometimes she'd think she couldn't handle no more. But as soon as that thought popped up in her mind, the memory of Shouto choking for air under Endeavor's heavy grip squashed it like a bug.

He had suffered enough in her stead. This was her life, her destiny. She had to endure it, because she was his older sister and it was her duty to protect him.

But this amount of stress was something no fifteen-year-old should go through. They may be able to handle it mentally, but physically, they would eventually crack under pressure.

Fuyumi had barely gotten any sleep in the last 24 hours. Sleep deprived while undergoing high intensity training caused her appetite to dwindle. Her mother tried to get her to eat, but Fuyumi hardly had any time to talk to her siblings anymore, let alone sit down and have a decent meal.

It was with this state that she welcomed her first day of second year.

While all other students had an eager, excited, or nostalgic look on their face, Fuyumi looked like a thousand-year-old zombie rising from the dead. Her face had lost its healthy pink hue and instead bore a worn, sandy color. Her eyes used to be grey like the clouds that shielded the sun, but now they were grey like the faded white shirt that was washed too many times. Her legs, trembling with muscle cramps, were trying their best to not give out under her. Her arms, wrapped in bandages that covered her burns, bruises, and frostbites, were limp against her sides, swaying rigidly with her movement.

Fuyumi felt like her head was stuffed with clouds, obstructing all logical thoughts from reaching her brain. She was so, so tired, and she wanted to sleep so badly. She couldn't think straight; she couldn't walk straight. Her vision was getting blurry, and she walked right into another student.

"What the-!"

"Ah!"

Fuyumi yelped as she fell back, the external force shocking her brain into full awareness. Instead of falling onto the ground, she fell against another human.

"I'm sorry!" Noticing the pair of hands supporting her shoulder, Fuyumi jumped out of her savior's personal bubble and apologized.

"Are you trying to kill yourself? Stupid Sis."

"T-T-Tou-" Fuyumi felt her heart had just leapt out of her throat. "TOUYA!?"

"The one and only." Touya smirked.

"W-What are you doing here!?" Fuyumi then took a good look of what he was wearing. "And why are you wearing UA's uniform!?"

Touya sighed, crossing his arms. "Ever since you entered UA, you've been pushing yourself way too hard. You rarely talks to us anymore. Of course you wouldn't know my application to UA got accepted."

Fuyumi's face reddened with guilt.

"Shouto noticed your change too and he's blaming himself. Just the other day, he told me he wants to apply for UA, too. He's going to become the Number One hero so Endeavor can, and I quote, 'Stop making my sister cry.'"

"Shouto…" Her youngest brother had really grown, hadn't he? "But why did you apply to UA? You said you have no interest in heroes."

"Stupid!" Fuyumi winced in pain when Touya flicked his finger against her forehead. "If we go to different school, who's gonna take care of you then?"

"I'm your older sister. I don't need you to take care of-"

"Oh really? Who's the one that almost fell, if not for me, and embarrassed herself in front of everyone here, if not for me?"

Fuyumi tried to come up with a witty comeback but for some reason her usually pretty useful brain was completely unproductive right now. She blamed her fatigue and undernourishment.

"But you're right. Heroes aren't my thing. That's why I applied for the General Department. Anyway, eat this." Touya handed her the plastic bag he was carrying. Inside was a tuna sandwich and a bottle of orange juice. "Fish makes you smart and vitamins help you stay healthy. An unhealthy hero is as good as dead."

Fuyumi accepted the breakfast meekly. The sandwich and orange juice were cold to the touch, but they somehow managed to warm her heart. Touya wasn't an expressive person. Hearing him say "I care about you" was as unlikely as him calling her "neechan~." He was the type of person who spoke with actions instead of words.

His words may be snarky and sarcastic, but this was his way of expressing concern.

"Thanks, Touya," Fuyumi said gratefully as they walked side by side, ignoring the curious glances the other students threw at them.

"Mhm." Touya glanced away, the tip of his ears turning as red as his hair. He wasn't used to praises; none of the Todoroki children were. His eyes flickered around and landed on Fuyumi's neck, then he smiled.

"What?"

"Nothing." He quickly turned around.

Fuyumi looked down in confusion, her hands touching her neck and brushing over-

"Ah."

...the necklace Touya gave her for her 15th birthday.

It had become a habit to put it on everyday sometimes she'd even forget she was wearing it.

The accessory may be poorly made, and insulting ("TO MY GULLABLE STUPID SISTER."), and unfashionable, but it was still a precious birthday present given to her by her dear brother. Of course she'd wear it.

While walking Touya to his classroom (since he didn't know his way around), Fuyumi gave him a mini tour of the campus.

"Here's the library, that's the gym, over there are the training grounds. There are more outside of the school but they are for specific simulation training. And if you walk straight you'll reach the cafeteria."

"Meet me here for lunch." Touya said, "I'll make sure you eat-"

"I will eat. Don't worry."

"-something healthy." Touya finished.

Fuyumi wanted to refuse but the seriousness in his eyes shut her up.

Like he promised, Touya was waiting by the entrance of the cafeteria when lunch break began. He pulled her through the crowd of students, noting the choices of food provided and selecting the best one for her. He then sat in front of her with his own lunch and watched her eat, making sure she finished everything he got for her before letting her go.

This routine continued throughout the school year. Sometimes Touya would suddenly show up at her classroom with a bag of food and make her eat them. He would sit there refusing to leave unless she finished them all. Not wanting her brother to get in trouble for interrupting class, Fuyumi always ended up eating all the food provided.

"You're going to make me fat."

She told him one day.

"If you train enough, you won't get fat," Touya refuted.

And now Fuyumi had a new reason to train: so she didn't become obese.


Touya's presence made the rest of her time at UA High School a lot more bearable. Everyone knew by now that she had a scary-looking younger brother who would burn anyone alive who dared to mess with his sister. No one talked behind her back anymore. Not that they had the time to considering ever since everyone became third years, they were more focused on their own future and hero career than to waste time mocking someone who was working hard.

As graduation neared, Fuyumi and most of her classmates had gotten accepted into major hero agencies. Fuyumi, especially, had gotten invitations from practically all the major-league agencies considering her skills, scores, and her status as the daughter of Endeavor.

At the age of eighteen, she had successfully entered the Top 25 Pro Hero rankings under the hero name "Yumi." All her effort had paid off. It was unheard of for a high school graduate to climb up the ranking so fast! Endeavor had to be pleased by this result! This should show him that she was worthy of being his masterpiece!

That was what she thought until she saw the news a few weeks later.

"18 year old Pro Hero 'Hawks' has opened his own agency earlier this year and now, just a few months later, he's already one of the top ten pro heroes! Who is this man and where did he pop out of!? Stay tuned for more details to come!"

There was always someone better than her. If she couldn't even beat someone of her same age, how could she beat Endeavor?

"You know what you need to do."

As she had expected, Endeavor was not happy.

"Yes, father."

"Beat that boy and enter top ten."

"Yes, father."

"You have four years. If you're not in top ten by the time Shouto enters UA, then you have failed me and I will not waste any more time on a failure. Understood?"

She understood it very well.

If she failed, then Shouto would have to suffer.

"Yes... father. I won't fail you."


As soon as she left her father's room, she got manhandled around a corner by Touya who was obviously eavesdropping.

"Don't let it get to you," Touya persuaded, his grip remained on her arm. "It took you only three years to go from a civilian to a rank 25 pro hero. I'm sure you can reach top 10 in four more years."

Touya gazed at her with the unwavering determination she didn't have.

"You don't understand, Touya. It's not that easy," Fuyumi took his hand gently off of her arm. "Anyone can make it to top 25 with hardwork. But to make it to top 10, hardwork isn't enough. You need talent, luck, charisma, and support. You can't just be strong, you also need to be popular, like All Might. I'm never good at socializing and making people like me. I don't even have friends. What makes you think I can gain enough popularity to rise to the top ten? In only four years no less."

"Charisma? To hell with that." Touya cut off her rant abruptly, running a hand through his fiery red hair in a lazy manner. "Look at our shitface of a dad. You think he has charisma? If he does, he'd have fangirls fawning all over him by now. He spends all his time brooding yet he still was able to reach rank 2. Compared to him, you have the look, the appeal, and you being a female gives you a natural advantage he can never have."

"I'm not aiming to become that kind of hero!" Fuyumi cried, blushing and crossing her arms in front of her chest. "I don't want to use my body to attract fans!"

"T-T-That's not what I meant! P-Pervert!" Touya also blushed, spluttering. "I'm saying girls look hot when they're fighting, okay?"

Fuyumi's jaw dropped. "Are you saying I'm hot?"

Touya's face was fired up. "NO! YOU IDIOT!" He spun around and hid his face in his hands, groaning in a very unTouya-like way that made Fuyumi let out a chuckle. She had never seen her brother lose his cool like this and it was quite hilarious to watch.

Touya glared. "Anyway! If that grumpy old goat can do it, you can definitely do it." He took out a folded slip of paper from his backpocket and handed it to her.

"What's this?" Fuyumi asked as she unfolded the paper.

"Go over there this Saturday at this time."

"Why?"

The paper reads: "@9am Saturday be at 'Coffee Prince'"

Touya had a sickly sweet smile on his face as he said, "It's a date."

"DATE!?"

"Yes."

"W-W-With who!?"

"Hawks."

"WHAT!?" Fuyumi felt like she was going insane. Or maybe Touya was going insane. Or maybe both of them were going insane. She couldn't even tell no more. What was even going on!?

"A date with your rival Hawks. As someone once said, 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer.' This is the perfect opportunity to find his weakness. I met him on the internet by chance two weeks ago and have been using your name and picture-"

"TOUYA!"

"-to chat with him and he wants to meet you."

"Why!? What did you say to him!?"

"Nothing really. He just says you're hot."

"Omygosh..." Fuyumi dropped onto the ground, covering her face with her hands in utter loss. She had never experienced a crush let alone dated anyone. And now, she was going on a date for the first time against her will with a guy she didn't even know the real name of for the sole purpose of gaining information and dumping him afterward. What kind of person would date someone just to break their heart? A bitch that's what!

"Don't worry, he's good looking."

"That's not the problem here!"


Little did they know, Endeavor had heard their entire conversation from the beginning to the end. They were only around ten feet away from the room, and they weren't being especially secretive about their conversation either, so Endeavor didn't even have to eavesdrop on purpose to hear what they were saying.

As their talk became more and more awkward for a grown man to listen to, Endeavor's face darkened more and more, reaching its peak when the word "date" entered his ears.

"Someone... dares to date my daughter without my permission?"

Chapter Text

9:10

Her watch read.

Fuyumi swallowed thickly and forced down the urge to up and leave her reserved seat, forgoing this unethical plan of Touya's.

She had arrived at said coffee shop ten minutes early just so she could leave a good first impression on the other hero. After all, she only agreed to this date because she wanted to find Hawks' weakness (despite her guilty conscience telling her No). It was already a terrible thing to do; Fuyumi wouldn't be able to forgive herself if she made him wait for her on top of toying with his feelings.

The justice part of her was the only thing keeping her from leaving the café right here and then, but it didn't stop her from imagining all the possible ways she could use this time efficiently. Like training her physique, for example.

"You must be Fuyumi-chan!"

Came a chirpy voice.

Fuyumi looked up from her half empty cup of coffee and the first thing that caught her eyes was a fiery red and very, very fluffy scarf. From afar that may be all it seemed like, but at a closer look, she could see the thousands of feathers that made up the entirety of the scarf, fluttering with the motion as its owner slid into the seat across from her. Only then did Fuyumi divert her gaze onto Hawks.

Aside from his prominent scarf, Hawks was wearing a simple sweater and baggy jeans with his iconic headphones hanging on his neck. He looked just like an ordinary teenage boy. It was hard to imagine this boy her age was so successful he already had his own agency.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Todoroki Fuyumi."

"Yeah, I know! And I'm Hawks, but I'm sure you already know that." Hawks leaned back and gave her a toothy grin. "Sorry to keep you waiting. I got caught up with something," he said cheerfully not showing any signs of apologeticness.

"It's okay! I-I understand. Being the No. 10 hero must be really busy, huh?"

Fuyumi regretted as soon as the words left her mouth.

Stupid! Stupid me! Why bring up the hero ranking now!? It's too suspicious!

"Not really." Hawks shrugged nonchalantly as he gestured for a waitress nearby. "My quirk practically gives me like a thousand hands and eyes, so things that take seconds for me to do can take hours for others."

Like climbing up the hero rankings.

Fuyumi mused as Hawks gave the waitress a charming smile and stated his order.

"A slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla shake please. Thanks you." He finished with a wink, sending the young waitress blushing and almost tripping over her feet as she stumbled into the kitchen. "Where was I... Oh right. You recently entered top 25 right? Congratz!"

"Thanks. But it's nothing much. Anyone can be top 25." Fuyumi began to stir her coffee to mask her slight discomfort. She wasn't used to compliments after all, especially after being told every day by Endeavor that her accomplishments were nothing and she was never good enough.

"Are you crazy!? Being in the top 25 is a big deal!" Hawks exclaimed, dropping some feathers in the progress. He quickly controlled them before they touched the ground and stuck them back into his scarf. "The top 10 heroes may be more popular but that doesn't mean the rest of the heroes are useless. They're all contributing to the hero society and that's what matters. After all, the purpose of being a hero is to help people. It shouldn't matter what rank you are, right?"

"R-Right." Fuyumi nodded, looking down into the swirl she made in her coffee, a sense of self-doubt taking over her mind.

Am I being a hero for the wrong reason?

"Anyway, you sure looked a lot different in person." Hawks placed his elbows on the table and held his face with one hand, staring at Fuyumi with curiosity glinting in his brown eyes.

"D-Do I?" Fuyumi murmured, shyly fidgeting with a strand of her hair.

Is he saying that I look... prettier in person?

"Yeah, you don't look as fat as you did in your profile picture!"

Fuyumi froze.

The only time in her life where she was fat was earlier this year when she was so busy with her studies and college exams she didn't exercise enough and ended up gaining a little weight due to all the food Touya was forcing her to eat.

"I honestly didn't expect you to be this skinny, considering you said you can eat an entire chicken all by yourself in one meal!"

Fuyumi's face flared up in embarrassment, her fist clenched tightly on her lap trembling with anger.

Touya is so dead when this is over!


Sitting at a table in the back corner and hiding his face behind a menu discreetly, Touya suppressed a shiver.

I have a bad feeling about this...

Looking away from his sister temporarily, Touya fixated his gaze on a certain individual sneaking into the kitchen suspiciously.

I have a bad feeling about that too...


"I don't care if you took his order but I will be the one to deliver this cake!"

The place of cake was grabbed roughly by another hand.

"No! I'm the oldest one here so I will deliver it!"

Another hand yanked the plate.

"I've been here the longest so I should do it!"

A fourth hand pulled the poor plate.

"Enough! I am the one who took his order so I will deliver this cake!" The waitress who almost tripped earlier cried as she pried off all the offending hands. She couldn't understand her coworkers' fascination with that cute boy. Sure, he had a handsome face, a sweet smile, pretty eyes, and a charming wink... But! That shouldn't turn them into thirsty predators who came straight out of the stone age! Where was their dignity!?

Lost in thoughts, she shielded the cake with her arms and turned towards the entrance of the kitchen, running straight into a giant, burly body that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

"Oof!"

The waitress took a face full of muscles and fell into a pair of strong arms.

"I'm sor-" She was halfway into her apology when she came to realization that among the staff in this small café who had access to the kitchen, there shouldn't be anyone who was almost as tall as All Might, and almost as toned as All Might.

"Kyaaa!" As soon as it clicked, the waitress screamed, scrambling backward until her back hit the other coworkers. Only then did she fearfully look up into those intimidating blue eyes that seemed to be burning into her soul. "W-Who're you!? What do you want!?"

"Y-Yeah! This is a kitchen, y-you know! W-We have knives in here! We're not s-scared of you!" Threatened another waitress, but her trembling voice really wasn't convincing.

The intruder appeared unfazed.

Another waitress tried putting up a brave front. "A-And Hawks is right outside! You know! The newest No. 10 hero! He will come to save us if you tried anything!"

At the mention of the name "Hawks," the intruder visibly grimaced, clicking his tongue and glaring at them with increased intensity.

"I will not hurt you." A few awkward moments later, he said in a forced, soft voice that came out more creepy than reassuring. "I am the No. 2 hero, Endeavor."

All of a sudden, flame erupted from his body, forming a fire beard, a mustache, and... an eye-mask (?) on his face.

Unfortunately, that only caused the waitresses to scream even more in fright.

It took ten whole minutes for the ordeal to come to an end and for Endeavor to finally state his business.


"They're sure taking their time," Hawks groaned, nibbling onto the end of his straw and sipping his ice water with a dejected look. His eyebrows were drawn together, his eyes downcast and sullen, even a few tufts of his blond hair that usually stuck up in arcs above his head were now drooping over his eyes in dismay.

Cute.

Fuyumi blushed at the thought.

"I wonder what's taking them so long," she said, trying to divert her attention from the way his pink lips chewed the straw to something more productive, like how it'd feel to have his lips on h-

"AH!"

"F-Fuyumi-chan?" Hawks cried, taken back by her sudden outburst.

"I-I'm okay." Fuyumi forced a smile as she picked her head up from the table, her forehead stinging in pain and her glasses askew. "S-Sorry, I was thinking of something."

"Oh. Ok." Hawks blinked owlishly like a confused baby bird.

Adorable.

Before Fuyumi could mentally put a cork on her thoughts, a waitress appeared with Hawks' chocolate...

...cake?

"I'm sorry!" The waitress bowed as she set down a plate of brown, dough-like substance. The edge of the plate was slightly charred and the dough-like substance had a suspicious fist-shaped dent in it. "I'm so sorry!"

Both Fuyumi and Hawks stared dumbfounded at the cake, not even acknowledging when the waitress ran away before they could demand an explanation out of her.

"She's messing with you." Fuyumi decided after she got over her shock, a feeling of protectiveness washing over her, akin to the emotions she experienced whenever someone bullied one of her brothers. "I'm going to ask them what's going on-" She stood up abruptly and was about to storm into the kitchen when something light and soft touched her forehead.

"It's fine." Hawks chuckled, taking back the feather he used to stop her and cutting off a piece of cake.

Fuyumi stared at him with suspicion as she watched him eat. Hawks was quite a popular hero. Maybe someone who despised him tampered with his cake on purpose in an attempt to poison and kill him...

"Umph! It's good!" To her relief, Hawks did not drop dead or start puking up white foams. Licking his lips, he eagerly cut off another piece of cake. But instead of eating it, his pointed the fork at Fuyumi. "Try it! It's really good!"

Caught by surprise, Fuyumi gaped at the fork, completely ignoring the piece of cake on it.

I-I-Is this an i-indirect k-k-kiss!?

This was her first date after all. A romance noob like her had never experienced any sort of intimacy with a guy let alone kissed a guy (she didn't even have any guy friends!). A situation like this was something that would only happen in fictional stories! Never in her eighteen years of life would she expect this to happen on her!

"Fuyumi-chan?"

"Y-Yes!"

Ahhh whatever! I don't care anymore!

Fuyumi squeezed her eyes shut and ate the offered piece of cake, trying to keep her mind off of the embarrassing thoughts currently running through her mind as she chewed and savored the taste.

"It is pretty good." She decided at last, opening her eyes to a sight that instantly made her heart run like a madman.

Hawks was staring at her as if she were the most precious person in the world. His warm, brown eyes drew her in like nothing before, making her whole body go weak. The intensity of the adoration in his eyes was so overwhelming for a split second Fuyumi even forget how to breath.

And then he smiled.

And her heart stopped.

.

.

It's dangerous.

.

His smile is too dangerous.

.

"Please stop smiling..."

Those words escaped her lips before she could stop herself.

"Why?"

Hawks tilted his head in confusion.

Because my heart can't take it anymore!

Thankfully, Fuyumi was saved from having to answer this question when the waitress showed up with Hawks' vanilla shake.

"S-Sir," the waitress stuttered, her eyes darting around glancing at anything that wasn't Hawks. Fuyumi instantly narrowed her eyes. "Here is your vani- Ah!"

She tripped in a very obviously intentional manner. The drink she was carrying fell off of her serving plate and its content was about to spill all over Hawks when time seemed to have stopped.

The serving plate halted in midair, the vanilla shake frozen above Hawks' head in an upside down position, its content remaining in the glass defying gravity.

"Why're you doing this?" Fuyumi confronted, her voice cold and sharp like her ice spikes.

A blade of ice suddenly shot out of the wall of ice she created to hold up the drink, the tip stopping precisely an inch away from the waitress' eyes.

The young waitress shrieked in terror, her legs giving out underneath her and she fell onto the ground with tears streaming down her face.

"I-I'm sorry!"

Fuyumi moved to grab ahold of the drink but the young waitress clearly misunderstood the action. She scrambled onto her feet and sprinted into the kitchen, no doubt planning on seeking help.

No matter what the reasons were, Fuyumi would not go easy on anyone who dared to attack the people she cared.

Fuyumi grabbed the bottom of the frozen glass that was sticking out on top of the wall of ice and melted the rest of the wall. She then placed the glass upright on the table and melted the ice coating it.

It was only when she sat back down and all the adrenaline vanished from her body did she realize what a scene she had caused and how she had utterly destroyed her image of having a good personality against the guy she... might have feelings for.

"I'm sorry!" As soon as she realized that, Fuyumi stood back up and apologized to the stunned onlookers for interrupting their meal. She had to do it, not just because it was proper manners, but also because she needed to keep up a good image as a pro hero. Being in the top 25 may not be much for Endeavor's standard, but to everyone else, it was quite a feat and "Yumi" already had a small group of fans rooting for her.

After the other customers looked away, Fuyumi sat back down and sighed.

"I love it when you're like that."

Came the unexpected response.

Hawks took the straw from the glass of water and put it in his vanilla shake, stirring it with a soft smile on his face.

"Strong, independent, and honest. Others' opinions won't affect your determination to do what you think is right. I think that's the most attractive aspect of you."

Attractive. The word echoed in her ears. He called me attractive.

"Do you know me?" Fuyumi instantly regretted her words.

Hawks had an utterly confused look. "What're you talking about? We've known each others for weeks."

Right! Touya had been using my name and photo.

"R-Right, sorry, it's just you sounded like you've always been watching me."

"Well, you are the only other person my age to climb up the rankings so fast and make it into Top 25. Naturally, I grew curious of you and looked you up. I saw you during the license exam actually and the way you set the whole place on fire and just walked out of the obliteration without sparing the others a glance was super badass!" Hawks cracked a lopsided grin and winked. And Fuyumi felt it shoot straight through her heart. "You were smoking hot when you're fighting, Fuyumi-chan. Literally and figuratively."

So Touya learned that line from him

Before either of them could say another word, a flame-covered fist came crashing down onto the table, breaking it in half and sending tableware flying everywhere.

"Ah!"

"What the-!"

The customers nearby screamed when splintered pieces of wood flew towards them. All of them were stopped by red feathers before they could harm any innocent bystanders.

"Father!" Fuyumi took a step back, her muscles tensed and prepared to fight or flee.

Hawks, on the other hand, remained seated on his chair with his eyes closed and continued drinking his vanilla shake.

"How dare you."

Endeavor took a menacing step towards Hawks.

"Flirt with my daughter."

He yanked Hawks' scarf and dangled him in the air, his huge physique incredibly threatening when put next to Hawks' relatively small one.

"And wink at her!"

Hawks finally opened his eyes and smirked, staring straight into Endeavor's raging blue eyes without a hint of fear. "I can wink at whoever I want. It's my eye. I can do whatever I want with it."

"You can wink at whoever you want, I don't fucking care." Endeavor spat in distaste, bringing Hawks' face closer to his. "But don't send your disgusting charm at Fuyumi's direction. Your gaze will not land on her without my permission. And you will not make her blush without my permission. Understand?"

"Now you're just being unfair." Hawks pouted, his scarf suddenly dispersing into thousands of feathers that flew onto his back, forming his iconic red wings and causing many bystanders and fans in the café to scream in delight. Hovering in the air, Hawks crossed his arms and rebutted, "Of course I won't do anything Fuyumi-chan doesn't like."

Endeavor grumbled out "Don't call her 'Fuyumi-chan'" but was ignored.

"If she doesn't want to, she wouldn't meet me today. If she doesn't like my flirting, she would turn me down and just get up and leave. Right? Fuyumi-chan?"

Standing right next to her seething father who was glaring at her as if daring her to agree, Fuyumi couldn't do anything except smile hesitantly.

"See? Silence means yes." Hawks smiled back, totally unperturbed by the way Endeavor was scowling at him like he wanted to rip and burn that smile until not even ashes remained. "And if she doesn't want me to wink at her, then she wouldn't blush every time I do."

To prove his point, Hawks winked at Fuyumi as if he were purposely antagonizing Endeavor.

Fuyumi blushed.

Endeavor fumed.

"Silence," Endeavor growled, "does not mean consent. My daughter is innocent. She'd blush if any cute guy winks at her."

"Are you calling me cute?" Hawks yelped, looking quite happy for receiving this compliment from someone who looked ready to incinerate him.

"I!" Endeavor roared, the flames covering his body shot up above his head and scorched the ceiling. "Am saying, my daughter does not like you one bit! She's only meeting you here today so she can rise up in rank."

"Father!" Fuyumi paled in horror.

Hawks suddenly went silent.

"The one talking to you on the internet wasn't her either. It was my son, Touya. Fuyumi never liked you. She only met you so she could find out your weakness and top you on the hero rankings." Endeavor sneered. "Not a bad tactic, I'd say. But too careless and risky. I'd go for the ones close to him first."

Hawks didn't speak for a while. Seconds ticked by as the agonizing silence dragged on. Fuyumi's heart was at her throat ready to leap out as soon as Hawks reacted negatively. Actually, scratch that. Her heart was ready to jump out as soon as Hawks said something.

After what felt like eternity, Hawks lifted his head and looked at Fuyumi. He remained silent, but that one look was enough to express everything he wanted to say.

His lips trembled and opened slightly, only to purse shut as he glanced away.

Fuyumi felt her heart break as she stared at this pitiful sight. She had to do something.

"My father was right." At last, she admitted. The betrayal in Hawks' eyes was hurtful to look at, so she looked down at her hands instead. "I did come here today with the intention of finding out your weakness to use it against you, so I can use you as a stepping stone for my selfish desire to enter top ten. And after that, I would just leave you at your lowest and cut off all connections with you."

It was painful to admit this. Fuyumi had to force the words out of her mouth.

"I was only concerned about ranking and didn't care about being an actual hero and saving people. After all, I never wanted to become a hero. My dream was to become a teacher. But things happened and I'm here now, being in the top 25 and admired by fans when I don't deserve any of that. I'm not worthy of their praises because I'm not who they think I am. I didn't realize this until I met you, Hawks."

"Fuyumi-chan," Hawks murmured, his voice broken.

"You changed my mind. You changed me. I've never liked anyone but today... I-I... like you. I didn't know what attraction is until I met you. I've never had an indirect k-kiss before I met you."

Fuyumi could hear Endeavor's breath hitch at this.

"Hawks." Fuyumi steeled her resolve and lifted her head, looking straight into Hawks' eyes. "I'm sorry for being a horrible person and trying to do horrible things to you. I don't expect you to forgive me. I just want you to know that I've developed feelings for you throughout the course of meeting. My feelings are genuine. It's not a lie this time."

"No, Fuyumi." Endeavor snarled before Hawks could say anything. "You do not like him. You just confused it for love because you've never dated anyone before. You will understand when you're older-"

"I am old enough! I'm eighteen, father! I think I can identify my own feelings!"

"Eighteen is still too young!"

"Oh really? Old enough to become a pro hero but not know what love is!?"

"Anyone can become a pro hero! But not anyone can understand love! Love is a complicated emotion! You're just mistaken! You think you like him when in reality the slightest intimacy will disturb you."

"No." Fuyumi took a deep, shuddering breath. "You're wrong, father."

Before Endeavor could stop her, Fuyumi rushed past him and grabbed Hawks' hand to pull him down onto the ground. She then held his face with both hands and gently kissed him.

Sound of silverware being dropped, camera shutters, excited murmurs, and even someone fainting could be heard, but Fuyumi couldn't care less at the moment. Her senses were too overwhelmed with how perfectly they lips melted against each others and the heavenly sensation it brought to take in what was going in the background.

This is it.

Yes...

This is what I wanted.


Half an hour later, Hawks and Fuyumi were strolling down the street casually laughing when a certain message popped up on Fuyumi's phone.

"tell Hawks he owe me 400 yen for his drink" -father

Fuyumi giggled. "You should have at least paid for your drink before escaping with me."

"What's the fun in that?" Hawks smirked. "Just seeing that old geezer storm around raging makes my day. I live to make his life miserable!"

"You're the worst!" Fuyumi hit his arm playfully.

"And you love me for it." Hawks looped an arm around Fuyumi's waist and leaned forward.

"Wait, people are watching!"

"Let them watch. After what happened in the café, it shouldn't take long for everyone to know that we're dating. It should help you boost your popularity and ranking, too. Isn't this what you wanted?"

"I hate you!" Fuyumi shook her head, laughing, but still leaned in. "I hate you so much."

"I know."


Omake:

"So why're you really late?"

"Your dad was blocking the entrance glaring at anyone who walks past him, so I had to find another way in."

Omake 2:

Seeing Fuyumi forcefully kiss Hawks, Touya quickly sent a message to Natsuo while trying to hide his excitement from showing.

"It's a success. Tell Shouto to get ready for a bird brother-in-law." -Touya

.

Middle school student Shouto who was currently studying in his bedroom received a text.

"Shouto, your new brother is a bird." -Natsuo

Shouto: "??????"