Izuku Midoriya remembered coming across a checkbox calendar online one. It followed through each day of the year, like a graph the way it was formatted, and to its side was a color indicator; a list of colors representing an emotion or outlook on experiences. People were meant to fill in the boxes with the color that best represented their day, and apparently it was to motivate them to work on making bad days followed by better days until those were what remained. Izuku decided to download it to his computer, mainly out of sheer curiosity if it could work for him, and for about three weeks he got a good sense of how to use it.
That wasn’t a good experience, by any means of the imagination. Too many of his days ended up mediocre at best, and downright awful at worst. Red and orange dictated almost the whole column of the month of June, and he was about ready to just give it up. It wasn’t that he wasn’t trying hard enough. It wasn’t that he put in no effort to make his days better. No one would let him make his days better. Namely, Kacchan wouldn’t let him better his days.
‘Not all men are created equal’ was a line Midoriya got tired of hearing, because the reality of it was much less dramatic on his life than the spun everyone took on it. For the most part, it was right; people are not created equally. Not in the sense that they all had to be born looking and averaging out the same as a new born, but that some babies were born with differences. Some babies were born without the luck to grow up healthy from a birth deficiency given to them in their mother’s womb. Some didn’t get to grow up. Then there were the people like Izuku.
Izuku, by no stretch of the imagination, thought he was worse off than the people who were born with illnesses and disabilities, but he was certain everyone tried to make him think as such. Not a day went by that a voice didn’t call out to him just to ridicule him. Not a day went by when someone didn’t remind him of how useless he was as a quirkless. Not a day went by that Kacchan wasn’t there to make him remember his place in the world.
And he hated to think about that. He hated to think about Kacchan’s voice, playing in his ears as the two students ‘talked’ at the end of class, and the one with a quirk capable of generating explosions from the palms of their hands telling the one without a power to swan dive off a roof top and die and hopefully find a quirk via rebirth. With the window in front of Izuku wide open, as the green haired teen stared down in despair at the hero notebook scorched and landing in a fish pond, the blond still had the nerve to yell it to him.
And Izuku listened.
And Izuku rejected.
Izuku was, by no stretch of the imagination, smart. He was a capable kid, exceeding in his academics in school and holding positions in the top five on every subject with his peers. Even if Kacchan was the one sitting at the top of their grades, he wasn’t about to start taking any advice that advocated suicide and distraught. The amount of damage that would do to not only Izuku, but his mother and the school and Kacchan and the Katsuki family wouldn’t have been worth it.
So Izuku ignored the voice of Kacchan echoing in his ear to take the jump and took the stairs down instead, recovering his notebook for what it was worth and leaving the school grounds to go home.
Only he didn’t make it home. It seemed Death was dead-set on taking Midoriya’s life and, seeing as how the teen wouldn’t take it away himself, sent someone else to do it for him. In the form of a sludge quirked individual, Izuku found himself suffocating under a stone bridge, trapped in a gooey body with the slime form forcing itself into his body for control. And Izuku cried, as loud as he could with sludge in his mouth deafening his screams and tears mixing in to the green liquid down his cheeks. He thought he would die.
And the instant he had lost hope, Pity entered the scene, shining under the sun in the form of All-Might himself, the number one hero in all the world, and capturing the slime villain in two empty soda bottles. Izuku was alive, but struggling to breathe, and several minutes with All-Might’s assistance to give him air and make sure he was at least mentally okay to not need a visit to the hospital helped him get back on his feet again. He even got All-Might’s signature in the ruined notebook.
But Izuku wanted more. He needed more, and when All-Might took a leap to leave, Izuku latched on to his leg and followed. The two landed atop a building, and there Izuku dropped the question of his future into the pro hero’s hands: “Can I be a hero despite not having a quirk?” Maybe the weight of the question was too much to bear on his shoulders, and All-Might transformed in a puff of smoke into a figure not at all tall or muscular or smiling to give hope. His words had no hope to give. A ‘no’ could summarize the talk the hero and student had, before the two parted ways on a sour note.
It didn’t hurt, the idea that Izuku could try to become something else that was meant for helping people, like a doctor or a police officer. That wasn’t why the ‘no’ hit him. The ‘no’ hit him because it was a cherry on the top of the pile of ‘no’s he had heard for years, many of which were directed at him with harmful origin and malice. A pro hero had added himself to the list of people telling him he could not become what he wanted to be, what he dreamed to be, and was better off letting the world decide his place in society. Had told Izuku to give up and submit to the cruelty he faced, even if the hero didn’t know that was what he faced.
Sorrow hung over his shoulders and followed Izuku, or he may have been the one controlling where Izuku walked. He was uncertain himself why he had chosen not to head home straight away, but the universe was supposed to have a plan for everyone. And that day, its plan was to lead Izuku back into the clutches of the slime man. Or really back in close range to it, leaving Izuku to watch from the crowd as it aimed to do to Izuku on someone else, in the middle of a burning shopping district, with heroes on either side standing by unable to do anything to save the boy in its grasp.
To save Kacchan.
So Izuku took control of his body again, and in doing so darted pass the crowd and the heroes and straight for his classmate/bully and the monster of a person trying to suffocate the blond menace. But Izuku could do nothing to stop them and free Kacchan. Only for a moment could he stun the foe by knocking them in the eye, but it only lasted for so long before a whip of slime collapsed to Izuku. It never met with the boy; it never hit his skin. But it did meet skin. Specifically All-Might’s, as the hero stood over the green haired boy to protect him and, with a single punch, saved the two boys and incapacitated the villain from attacking anyone else on its way to prison.
Shame took a minute to step up, fueling the words of the heroes to make Izuku feel such, for stepping into the fray and nearly getting himself killed (for the second-third-fourth – Jesus – time that day). Not one acknowledged him for stepping up when the heroes refused to. Kacchan took not a single look in his direction for stepping in to help. And a brief glimpse over his shoulder from All-Might did nothing to help him feel good about the day or anything he had done.
Izuku didn’t have to go to the hospital – the first responders to the scene deemed him stable enough to head home with a warning from the heroes to stay out of trouble – and when he left he left with Sorrow, Regret, Sadness, and Anger haunting him. The feelings in his stomach were unsettling to move with, but Izuku didn’t want to stop and hurl them into the nearest trash can. He just wanted to get away from everyone, if no one was going to step in to be with him. He could go to his mother, the only person who was on his side even if she didn’t believe in his dream like everyone else, but with the way he was feeling and felt he was looking the last thing he wanted to do was just worry her from the day he’d had.
So Izuku walked away, sending quick text sent to his mom telling her he would be home a bit later as he lied about going around town for a bit to study some heroes on their daily patrols. He walked out of the city, the tall buildings and towering businesses full of people that gave him no sense of safety, and traversed through a housing district beside it. The silence was the most comfortable aspect of his surroundings, but even it was haunting the boy’s mind. For a while, aimlessness was all the boy had for supporting company, until a scent and sound washed over him from just a few blocks away. He diverted his attention and direction to the beach calling out to him, disturbing the silence and unease over his shoulders as he approached.
A hollow laugh found its way out of Izuku’s mouth as recognition took his eyes, and the beach covered in trash became more obvious. Takoba Municipal Beach Park; he knew the place. Trash occupied the beach more often and in a much larger group than people ever did, enough to the point where people wouldn’t visit at all if it wasn’t to drop more trash. The place had turned into a dumping ground as the tide pulled up waste that no one made the effort to remove. Or at least a good quarter of it had turned into a mountain of trash, with little specs making their way down either end of the beach. That didn’t make it any less abandoned, and it didn’t make anyone who lived nearby interested in coming over to fix it.
If Kacchan was around, the explosive blond probably would have congratulated Izuku on making it home.
Ignoring the taunt he made in the back of his head, Izuku pushed onward onto the beach, easing himself down to the shore and joining the piles of trash flanking either side of him. His bag dropped to the sand behind him, and soon he followed suit, folding his arms over his legs and watching the sea as the sun shone in the sky behind him. The tide was calm, rising lightly onto the shore meters away from him, and the sound of the wind passing it by was calming, soothing, needed. Izuku closed his eyes with a deep breath and relaxed in his seat in the sand. That was what he wanted. Peace, and nothing but peace.
Izuku rolled back into the sand and stared into the sky, watching the clouds roll by with his thoughts. No one believed in his dream. Not his classmates. Not his teachers. Not his peers. Not other heroes. Not All-Might. Not his mother. Maybe he didn’t either. He wanted it to happen, more than anything as far as he could remember, but believing it would happen was a whole new stretch of land entirely untouched. There seemed to be no truth to it other than him already existing for it to be considered, much less plausible. So what could he do? What was he capable of?
Izuku kicked up his feet and crossed them over one another. Maybe he could be a police officer. The profession would keep in contact with heroes all the time, or at least most of the time. Their freedom in tackling villains and situations more suited for heroes wasn’t as free as a hero had it, but they had just as much responsibility at keeping people safe, only in different ways.
His shoulders rolled as his hands cupped beneath his head. What about being a doctor? The profession was about equal to if not more gruesome and graphic than being a cop; the situation was very much, well, situational. He’d have to really regulate himself to the sight of injuries far greater than he ever suffered if he wanted to work in that field, but the reward of being able to save people in far greater danger than being in the presence of a villain (also situational) would be worth it.
Izuku frowned in a similar fashion of the cloud passing overhead, judging his choices as he did. He could very well go into those professions, but that wasn’t the deal. The problem was the people around him, getting a reward out of their treatment of him in seeing Izuku give up the dream he had to do as they ordered him to. He’d only be making the bad people around him feel good about their actions. He couldn’t do that, and by extension, couldn’t run away to those jobs. He had to try to become a hero, if only to prove everyone wrong as they needed to be.
But how would he ever accomplish that? He had no powers, no physical mutation, and no skills. Actually, the last one he could probably work with, given his analysis. If he aimed to be a field hero, he’d have to train and learn to fight, given his pencil of a body and limbs weren’t capable of that kind of action by any means. He could maybe get his mother to sign him up for a self-defense class or martial arts class that could teach him those sorts of things. Would that be enough, just learning hand-to-hand combat? A scoff got Izuku to realize probably not.
What else would he have to do then? Izuku rolled over and moved his head onto the fold of his arm. Maybe he could…take up baseball?
Izuku blinked and lifted his head as he looked over to the pile of trash on his left. He understood the piles contained a lot of useless junk no one wanted any more, and he could see on the surface level of the pile alone that was true. But then why would someone throw away a perfectly good metal baseball bat?
The green teen picked himself out of the sand and inched his way slowly to the baseball bat. His hands eased around the grip of the handle and lifted it from the sand with a fair amount of effort (look back to the line of ‘pencil arms’). His brows furrowed as he rolled it in his hands and gave it a look over up and down; aside from the sand staining the top, the bat was in perfect condition. It had no reason to be with the trash surrounding it.
Izuku looked up to the pile it was leaning against, checking over every object he could isolate from those around them, looking to find anything in as good of a condition as it. But nothing was fine. Most anything with glass was cracked or broken open. Electronic appliances showed no signs of organization, with walls open and wipes pouring out in each and every direction. The closest thing to perfect was a still inflated tire of a truck but even that looked worn out from use. Nothing on the bat was scratches or peeled or worn, not even the wrapping on the handle. It looked brand new.
Izuku turned his body every which way, moving himself about and looking around the piles of trash, looking for anyone else in the area the bat could have belonged to. No one was around. No one but himself. And he saw no one leaving the beach as he entered, and no one was swimming out in the sea before him. He was alone with the bat.
Midoriya stepped back to his stuff, swinging the bat weakly in his grip as he walked. His body swayed after it until he reached his bag and raised the bat to line up with his body. It was pretty thin for a bat, especially for its length, but it held its weight in his hands. For a moment he stood still, staring at the warped reflection of himself on the bat in his silence until a click rung in the back of his head to widen his eyes.
What else would he have to do to become a hero? Just using his hands wouldn’t be enough. Just his regular human strength would only get him so far. His smarts were good, but they wouldn’t always be helpful on the field if his body wasn’t there to back up the actions he would have to take. He would need something else, something to help him accomplish more. Could a baseball bat do that?
Izuku dropped into the sand again as the bat feel from his hands and he dug them through his back, pulling out a cleaner notebook that he used for class instead of the hero notebook in ruins. A baseball bat: what could he do with it? The object itself was basically used for swinging and hitting in a sport, but so could most anything of its shape and size, say a pole or a stick of wood. And there were weapons like that, poles of metal and wood using in martial arts from what he could remember off of action movies and the heroes he’d studied. They didn’t always have to be used for just attacking; they could serve a purpose of blocking and disarming too. He’d seen people use various items made of metal to crack open locked doors, stick between closing doors to allow people to keep passing through, used with restriction in battle to only knock people out instead of bludgeoning them violently. If people could use long sticks and discs to fight people without acting out violently and in unwarranted ways, he could use a baseball bat made of metal.
Besides, it wasn’t like using a weapon was out of the question to being with. Many pro heroes used tools and objects to fight off villains and robbers and really and bad person disrupting peace and lashing out at others. Their powers themselves were regulated and heavily lawed by the governments around the world, but heroes like Snipe with his revolvers and pistols and Midnight with her whip and, when he racked his brain hard enough to remember him, an underground hero by the name of Eraserhead using a tool akin to rope were allowed to fight without known quirks that enhanced their bodies. If they could get away with it, why couldn’t he?
Izuku smiled and curled in on his book as he wrote away on the bat, and as his mind drifted to everything he thought he would need to do to make his dream of being a hero come true. He had something to work with, now he just needed to make sure it would work. He needed to make sure his own body would work too. He’d have to train extensively – Yuei’s entrance exam would be in March, about nine to ten months away – but he could go online and find a workout routine or something to follow to get his body into shape if he couldn’t find a fitness class for his mother to let him attend. That meant he would have to change his diet too, start eating foods that would help his body grow faster and stronger to get the strength he needed to be a hero and to use that bat. And speaking of the bat, he would have to learn how to fight with it, not just using it as a bat like he was a baseball player but using it in every way conceivable that could be used to fight villains and protect innocent people and himself. Maybe he could treat it like a staff or a sword, its shape already edging that of the other weapons. If he really couldn’t get into a martial arts class, he could probably go online and find articles and videos to go off of and learn by himself. He’d been alone most of the time to being with, so it wouldn’t be anything new.
Izuku took in another breath as his back straightened out and he looked to the page of notes he was beginning to make for his dream. He could help but let a smile pull on his lips or his hands from shaking in excitement. It took more proper thoughts on how he could be a hero, maybe thanks to all the heroes around him telling him no and giving him a reason to reflect on what made them heroes. But he had something to work with. Plans to follow and ideas to cultivate and shape into a reality and a profession and a future. Maybe he could become a hero.
The smile across his face lifted Izuku’s head high, and his eyes were caught by the rays of the sun closing in on the buildings across from him. The day was getting late into the evening. His mom would be expecting him home soon. His body jerked from the memory and started cramming everything back into his bag as he stumbled back onto his feet. He darted across the sand and back up the steps before lagging at the top and running back down. He made way across again, heaving the bat out of the sand and into his arms before taking leave once again from the beach.
Izuku Midoriya breathed out at the top of the steps, taking a turn on the balls of his feet to the shoreline and the trash hills once more with a smile he didn’t want to fade away. He could be a hero. There was hope for him yet.