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lost on the road to victory (whatever that may be)

Chapter Text

Izuku lied.

Or, he thought he lied, but was actually telling the truth the whole time.  So he told the truth with the intention of it being a lie?  He was lying to himself about the truth being a lie, but telling everyone else the truth while thinking it was a lie?

He tries not to contemplate it too much; he has the habit of thinking himself in circles.

Izuku can say, at least, that this whole mess started out innocent enough.  It kind of had to, considering he was little more than a toddler at the time.

His mother said that from the moment he had laid eyes on footage of All Might he had wanted to be a hero.  Izuku is inclined to believe her, because if there is one guiding light in his life it’s All Might.  Two, four, eight, twelve, fifteen – an Izuku of any age would agree.  Come on, it’s All Might

So, like all kids that age, he wanted to be a hero.  He’d play around all day with Kacchan and the other kids in the neighborhood, pretending that they were superheroes and believing that they really would be someday. 

He had never doubted that would be the case with Kacchan.  While he’s not All Might, to a lesser extent he’s Kacchan.  All Might is the guiding pillar of the world, but Kacchan is a more local, accessible one in Izuku’s immediate world.  While he’d never say Kacchan could match up to All Might (sacrilege!) it’d be pretty fair to say that Kacchan comes second in his worldview of “unshakable bastions of strength” if he felt the need to analyze himself.

(which, generally, he avoids at all cost)

But while Izuku’s future as a hero didn’t quite have the inevitability of Kacchan’s in his mind, it was never really a question either.  While he saw Kacchan becoming a strong hero no-question and with the enviable ease of slipping into a rightful position, Izuku saw himself struggling and working hard but ultimately reaching his goal. 

Kids don’t tend to dwell much on failure.  Even kids like Izuku, already much too anxious for his age and without the natural arrogance of toddlers that let them believe the world revolves around them.  He was never the main character of their games, or even the main character of his imagined future life.  

(That was Kacchan.  Always Kacchan).

Yet, undoubtedly, he was always a hero.  A hero with a quirk.  Sometimes a strong quirk, sometimes a modest but useful quirk, in the dreams he held closest to his heart a quirk like All Might’s, but always a quirk.  Because everybody knows with every hero comes a quirk.  Always.

So when Izuku is four and everyone in school starts developing different and unique quirks while he develops a weird need to pick up random items and somehow overanalyzes even more than he did before, he begins to feel a trickle of worry.  Kacchan can make explosions from his hands while he’s stuck in his head in a never ending circle of analyzing and anxiety.

He stubbornly believes that his quirk is coming, because being quirkless is something that happens to random faceless non-heroic people, not him.  But in the back of his mind, he starts running through ways and scenarios someone could become a quirkless hero.

But he’s a kid, and being a hero means being larger than life and stronger than God like All Might.  Flashing and gleaming in the light.  He has very little understanding of the actual ins and outs of being a hero at that time, and based on his knowledge, he simply cannot see a way for a quirkless person to be a hero.

Quirkless people are a drab gray with none of the color and verve that makes a hero.  Izuku can’t stand it; to not be able to strive for the thing that he wants most in life sounds unbearable

He gets even more anxious, starts getting stomach aches and more lost in his head.  His natural mumbles become a near constant stream of background sound.  Izuku finds pencils and cups and leaves in his hands with no idea how they got there or why he has them.  Kacchan steadily becomes crueler - calls him “Deku” - the longer he goes without showing a quirk and the worse the outward manifestations of his despair become.

His mother becomes worried, infinitely concerned for her son.  It gets to the point that she can no longer stand by and hope that he will tell her his problems on his own (Izuku has never, ever been the kind of person to share his burdens) and instead sits him down and demands he tell her what’s wrong.

With tears in her eyes.  Let it never be said that Izuku isn’t his mother’s son.

And so all of his worries and fears of heroes and quirklessness comes spilling out of him.  He begins to tell her of how he tried to find a way to be a quirkless hero, how there are none there is no path that way and begins to shake and sob and his vision begins to grey and narrow just like how he is a grey and colorless and quirkless person-

And then his mother envelops him in a hug and it is warm and soothing, and while his mother cannot take the world in her hand and make it perfect for him, he knows she would in she could.  And that helps.

So the green haired mother and son sit there crying and holding desperately on to each other.  From the outside they likely seem like a mess, but their little two person family will always function best when their emotions are out there in the open.  No matter how ugly or messy it might be.  It’s only when they keep their emotions and thoughts all bottled up in their head that things become unfixable.

(a lesson Izuku won’t take to heart for a long while, unfortunately)

After she provides comfort, Izuku’s mother then looks for a solution.  It follows that a few weeks after the meltdown, which certainly gentles her son’s new habits but does not stop them altogether, Inko announces that she has made two appointments.  One for a psychiatrist, and the other for a quirk doctor.

Izuku is not pleased by either of these.  For the first, there is a stigma at any age against needed a psychiatrist.  The other kids would never let him forget it if they found out.  Kacchan would use it as more evidence of his weakness.

(would he be wrong?)

But it is the second Izuku truly dreads.  What if he doesn’t have a quirk?  At this point, he’s actually rather sure he doesn’t.  But hearing the doctor say it would make it final.  It would be official:  Midoriya Izuku is quirkless and will never, ever be a hero.  

So the day before his appointment to see the quirk doctor Izuku is panicking.  He has Kacchan’s voice in his head, taunting him and saying a quirkless “useless Deku” could never be a hero.  He sees All Might’s back in the distance, unreachable, but knows that he is disappointed. 

They are in there kitchen, his mother puttering around to get food ready for lunch.  He is standing behind her, breathless in anxiety.  He isn’t thinking.  He doesn’t think well when anxiety steals across his chest, which only makes him more anxious.  He isn’t thinking anything at all when he opens his mouth-

And lies.

“I have a quirk!”

See, here’s the think about quirks that affect the mind: it’s hard to prove they’re there, but also hard to prove they’re not.

So when Izuku claims to have an analysis quirk?

Well, Izuku has always been smart for his age.  Lately he has been even more introspective than before, muttering nearly constantly about his thoughts and observations.  It’s harder to get his attention and to get him out of his head.

The psychiatrist, when Inko mentions all of this, seems to find it perfectly plausible.  Individuals with quirks like analysis or others that may affect mental processes often have a hard time initially adjusting to the change.  Izuku was likely reacting to the enhanced way of processing information, or even intake if his quirk happens to include analyzing the outside world and not just information already in his head.  Picking up random objects?  Hard to say exactly, possibly a random tic that will go away or even a component of his quirk.  Perhaps he unconsciously wants to get a closer examination of those objects for analysis?  Each quirk can be different, so it would only become apparent as he developed.

Inko is not quite pleased, but relieved.  Not everyone has a rocky first introduction to their quirk, but enough individuals have blowback from initial manifestation that it is fairly routine.  Her son will naturally work through his current difficulties as he ages, and he even has the quirk he so desperately wanted!

Even if it is odd that Izuku’s quirk does not resemble hers or his father’s.  However, random mutations of quirks do happen, even if less often than when they first started appearing.  Unusual, but not completely unheard of.

Izuku never goes to the quirk doctor.  Although he does visit the psychiatrist a few times throughout the years.

Four-year-old Midoriya Izuku is now stuck in a lie the rest of the world believes.  And has no clue what to do with it.

He still gets teased at school a bit.  For all his ticks now have a “reason” to them, they’re still weird and they’re still children.  But having some trouble with his quirk is infinitely better than being quirkless.

Kacchan is never quite as accepting of Izuku as he was before quirks came into play.  Izuku didn’t have the kind of flashy or strong quirks that kids and the media admired.  However, there are still heroes with powers that allowed them to predict enemy’s moves or to be such great strategists that they stymie a villain’s plan before it even happens.  They’re not as beloved or prominent, but they’re there. 

And so even if the nature of their two quirks still makes Izuku the lesser in Katsuki’s eyes, until it is seen just how powerful Izuku’s analysis quirk is (some people think a bigger initial blowback upon manifestation indicates a strong quirk, although there is no proof), there is still a chance that Izuku won’t be completely useless trash.

Izuku’s lie has made his life better.  It’s not the greatest, but it’s much better than it could have been.  He may never be a hero like All Might, but there are still heroes with analysis quirks.  He can be a hero.

Except he doesn’t have a quirk. 

Also, what kind of hero bases their life on lies? 

But whenever he opens his mouth to tell the truth he feels like he’s going to vomit and closes it.  So he is stuck in a conundrum where he now sees his path to becoming a hero, but its light is stained with the darkness of his deception.

And Izuku, as the years go on, finds himself wondering: where do I go from here?