In hindsight, that was the day everything started. Not that the green haired boy on the playground knew that at the moment. He had only realised it a few months later when it was too late to fix it. Right now, the boy was hugging his knees, sobbing under the trees.
The kids were so mean, they had always been mean. He would have a Quirk, he knew he would. And it would be awesome, it would be strong, and powerful, the Quirk of a hero.
(The same boy would spend the next decade telling everyone he was quirkless.)
Izuku flexed his small fingers, seeing the first shades of bruises creeping slowly on his pink skin. Rough housing was fun, playing was fun. Three Quirked kids against one wasn’t. Kacchan was mean. That wasn’t really a surprise, he was always mean. But he was so cool! He was so strong, so powerful, so confident. He always said he wanted to be a hero and, with a Quirk like his, Izuku was sure he would be one some day.
Although....at the moment, the green-haired boy found it hard to picture his friend as a hero. Weren’t heroes supossed to protect people? Weren’t they supossed to be good and kind like All Might? He knew that they couldn’t be all like All Might, All Might was unique, he was the best and the greatest, and Izuku would be like him one day (even if Dad said he had to be his own hero).... but the others could at least try. Kacchan wanted to win. But wasn’t he supossed to also protect?
(Not all heroes think like that)
Izuku wiped his tears and got up. He would protect the poeple Kacchan couldn’t save. He would make sure he saved everyone. He would make sure that his friend became a great hero. He streched his limbs and squinted as the sun entered his eyes. It was late, and Mom would be worried. He didn’t want to worry Mom. The park was empty, which was odd. The other kids probably didn’t want to anger Kacchan after is outburst. But he couldn’t let his friend bully that boy.
That boy left soon after and didn’t look back. He didn’t come back to help him after the other boys left him bruised and battered on the ground none of the others did.
Many people want to be heroes, but not everyone has te heart for it. Dad was right. Then, he would just have to make sure he had the heart of one.
Determined steps kicked the ground behind him and Izuku turned to face his angry-looking friend.
"Kacchan, what are you doing here? You’ll miss lunch!" Izuku was worried. If Kacchan missed lunch, he would be cranky and if he was cranky there was a bigger chance of attaching other kids.
"Don’t tell me what to do!" he barked."I came back because those stupid extras couldn’t make a decent villain. You’re the only one who knows how to actually monologue, so come. I wanna kick your ass."
Izuku pouted."But I don’t want to be a villain!"
(I’m not a villain)
Kacchan frowned."Fine, next time you’ll be the damsel! Now come, we don’t have all day."
"But I don’t want to play!" Izuku said, standing his ground, for the first time without tears in his eyes. He was dirty, and tired, and hungry and didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in the sun.
Kacchan glowered."Come already, you stupid Deku" he said it in a low, dangerous voice, a voice that promised burns and bruises and hours of tears in the dark, sobs quiet enough to not wake his parents.
The blond got mad."When I tell you to come, you come!" he yelled as he roughly grabbed the smaller boy and started dragging him away. Small yet merciless fingers burned his skin. Izuku was scared, cold sweat down is spine. Why was his friend attacking? Why was he hurting him? Izuku grabbed the chubby childlike wrist and tried to pry it off.
"Let go!" he screamed. Tears prickled at the corners of his eyes, but he wouldn’t cry, he couldn’t cry. What kind of hero would he be then?
Kacchan turned around, wild, eyes filled with fury. He lifted his fist, small sparks in his hands."Shut up you stupid Deku!" he tried to punch the younger, but Izuku caught his fist. The moment his fingers made contact with the blond’s wrist, Izuku felt something. It was like thread, strong and hot and angry somewhere inside the blond. As he was trying to fight off the boy, he instinctively reached for it. It felt foreign yet right. He tugged once.
It was strong, but not permanent. It felt like a thread of hair, holding tight but ready to fall when pulled hard enough. He tugged again and the thread snapped. Something snapped inside Katsuki too.
Izuku didn’t pay attention to his friend falling to his knees, panting heavily and clutching his chest. He couldn’t. He was overwhelmed by the sudden surge of warmth and power, power, power. White hot power racing through his veins, from the top of his head to the tips of his small fingers.
Kacchan got up, more angry than ever. He jumped at the grenette, hand ready to blow him up. Izuku held up his hands, ready to take the blow.
But the blow didn’t come.
Opening a lid first, then the second, Izuku watched his friend staring incredulously at his fingers. His palms were up but no explosions came, no spark, no smoke.
"Kacchan?" Izuku said but regretted a second later when the blond turned his red angry gaze to him. But this time it was different. Different from the other times, different from usual. Because, behind the anger, behind the confidence and the power, there was now fear. Pure, feral fear.
"What. Did. You. Do?"
"Nothing!" he lifted shook his hands in a useless attempt to appease him. This new power was building up in his throat and beneath his skin. It was suffocating and it wanted-needed-to get out. So, when the explosive blond lounged for his throat, he let it go.
It wasn’t much. Really, it, was almost nothing compared to other things but, on the sweaty surface of his palms, small angry sparks erupted. They were loud, like the firecrackers kids throw to scare cats or unsuspecting adults, but both boys stopped.
Red, horrified eyes looked at him in fear.
"You stole it!" he whispered in shock."You stole it!" he yelled this time louder, but his voice was trembling.
"I... I, I didn’t... I"
"You stole it, you stole it, give it back!" tears were streaming down the blonds cheeks.
No, that couldn’t be right, Kacchan was strong, he never cried.
(But he did)
Kacchan kept yelling, kept crying, but didn’t get any closer.
(He did, and you made him cry)
Izuku took a few steps back. E didn’t steal it, did he? He, he couldn’t have stolen it. Stealing was bad, and he wasn’t bad. Heroes didn’t steal. Only villains ever stole. Only villains ever hurt people and made them cry. And.. and he wasn’t a villain...
(I’m not a villain)
Izuku turned around and ran. He ran as fast as his small feet could carry him, he ran until his mom opened the door and hugged the distressed boy while trying to understand the mash up of words trough his sobs.
He ran that afternoon away from his friend, away from his Quirk.
(And he kept running ten years after).
Izuku tried to ignore the chattering of his colleagues, choosing instead to stare out the window. Unfortunately, a boy with horns was blacking the view. The teacher was talking about their next high-schools.
"But you all wanna be heroes anyway" he said and the class erupted in an amalgamation of people using their Quirks. Izuku rolled his eyes and kept doodling, since it was obvious he couldn’t stare on the window,
"Don’t lump me in with these extra, Sensei, I’ll be the number on hero while you side characters will end up sidekicks to some R-rated loser at best!" the explosive blond of the class said and Izuku sank in his chair, trying to stay out of his radar. Of course he would brag and boast, he was one of the few people who actually had the chance of becoming heroes...
"Now that I think about it, Midoriya wants to go to U.A. too." there was exactly one second of silence, one agonizing tick of the clock before laughter filled the classroom. Izuku let out a long-suffering sigh before ignoring them and going back to doodling.
Thank you very much, Sensei.
"How can you be a hero, you don’t even have a Quirk!"
Yes, I do and if you knew you’d wish I hadn’t.
"You can’t get in on good grades alone."
Two calloused hands slapped o his desk and he jumped back, his chair collapsing under the sudden change in balance. Everyone just laughed harder but Izuku’s gaze was trained on the explosive blond looming over him.
"What the fuck are you thinking, you fuckface! Are you challenging me, you think you’re better than me?" he yelled.
"No" Izuku said. He was tense and guarded, waiting for any sign of the next strike. Laughter and taunts were surrounding him, fast, strong and merciless, but he only payed attention to his childhood friend. He was the closest thing to a threat in here.
He knew he wouldn’t attack him. Kacchan hadn’t touched him in almost ten years, but explosions could be used for long range hits. Even in class, he knew it wasn’t very probable for the teacher to stop him.
"Now, now, don’t do that in class, fix your problems in your own free time" the teacher said, although he didn’t seem too keen to intervene. Better late than never, although Izuku knew both of his parents would have had something to say about the how little that intervention actually helped. Thankfully, Kacchan only scowled and walked back to his seat.
Izuku got up from the ground and brushed the dust and whatever could be found on the floors of a public middle school and sat back in his chair. The teacher kept talking, but Izuku was ignoring him in favor of trying to keep from scratching the phantom itch on his wrists. He gave in and offered a little bit of relief to the scars beneath his uniform. He knew though it was only psychological. He had completely lost feeling on the two hand-shaped patched of angry red skin.
The doctor had said he had been lucky. Tenth of an inch deeper, and on the right he would have had permanent nerve damage. The doctor didn’t say it but Izuku knew the chances of using a pen would have been close to zero with damaged tendons.
The bell rang and Izuku started to gather his things. He prepared to pack his notebook when he found his desk empty. Said notebook magically materialised a second later in the hands of his self-proclaimed arch-nemesis.
"I’m the only one from this shitty school to go to U.A., you hear me?"
"It’s not a competition, I’m not challenging you. We can both go there." he said keeping the tremor out of his voice as fear spiked deep in his gut. He knew Kacchan hated it when he looked innocent, but he couldn’t really manage a poker face right now. Kacchan growled.
"Give up, already, you and I both know you’ll never be a hero."his fist clenched around the notebook, crumbling the cover.
With your Quirk being so much of a villain’s remained unsaid. It was true and none of the two need to say it out loud. Izuku’s face darkened.
"That’s for me to decide. Now Give.It.Back" he extended his hand towards the notebook.
It wasn’t just a request. It was a challenge. The words from long ago rand between them in the silence. Wether there were still people in the class or they were alone, he couldn’t care less. It could’ve been a volcano or an abandoned planet for all it mattered. In that moment there was nothing besides the two boys and the wall of memories between them. It was also an unspoken threat.
Katsuki seemed at loss o f words before growling and throwing the notebook at the smaller teen. Izuku caught it right before it smacked him in the face. Bakugou and his lackeys left the class and the grenette gathered his things and walked the different route home. He didn’t feel ready to face the blond once again.
Dread raced through his veins the moment he stepped under the bridge. A clanking of metal on concrete and he suddenly couldn’t breathe.
"Invisibility cloak, medium size" a slimy voice said. Green, cold mud started rolling on his skin, down his throat and into his nostrils. He moved and trashed, lungs begging for air, but nothing happened.
I’m gonna die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.....
"Quit struggling, it will only take forty five seconds at most" the thing said. His thread was as liquid as his exterior. Izuku tried to grab it, but it was slipping through his fingers. His vision was turning blurry.
I don’t want to die, please, please, someone, I don’t want to die...
His eyes were closing, his limbs were getting numb. The villain was saying something, but Izuku couldn’t hear it anymore.
A blur of gold, a rush of air and darkness.
The faithful moment of awakening came with someone not really gently slapping his chin.
"Kid, kid, you alive?"
Izuku slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by a face he would slap himself for not recognising, since it was plastered all over his walls.
"All Might?! What are you doing here?!". The hero wasn’t wearing his costume, but normal clothes.
"Yes, my boy. I was doing my groceries when I saw this villain wreaking havoc. He managed to get away, but I found you before it was too late!" he said in a boisterous voice.
"Can you sign my notebook?!" Izuku pulled out his notebook and saw the huge signature already written on the pages. "Thank you, thank you, tank you, I will trasure it for the rest of my life!"
"That’s the spirit! Now, excuse me, I have business to attend to.." he turned to leave.
"Wait! I have so much to ask you...."
"You can send it on my fan page!"
The man was going to leave fly, to leave Izuku to his own devices. Izuku was never going to see him again, never going to know.
Sorry, but I can’t let that happen.
In hindsight, grabbing the foot of the number one hero before he took flight was not the brightest of his ideas. He could hear his mother’s voice scolding him and his father saying that he didn’t deserve that big brain of his. He knew that if they knew, he would be grounded for the rest of his life.
But All Might landed them on a roof, so no harm done, right?
"Geez, kid, that was risky. What have you been thinking, you could’ve died!"
Izuku panted as he was sitting on all fours on the concrete."Sorry, sir, I find it really hard to take no for an answer..."
He couldn’t finish the sentence, All Might was suddenly surrounded by smoke. Izuku stared at the unnatural phenomenon until the smoke cleared. And his jaw slacked.
Ten minutes later, after a story and some close calls heart-attacks, Izuku stood in front of the skeleton who had been (was) All Might. The man turned to leave before the teen yelled the one thing he desperately wanted to know since he was four years old crying in his room with bandages around his hands.
"Can I be a hero with an evil Quirk?!"
All Might sighed, as if he’d heard this question many times before."Kid, there is no such thing as an evil Quirk. Is only what you do with it that makes you a hero, not anything else. Whatever destruction or mind reading Quirk you have, there are always ways to use it for good."
"It...it’s not that. My Quirk is not just dangerous, it’s amoral." Izuku looked down, not meeting his favorite heroes eyes.
"Come on, kid, it can’t be that bad." All Might looked almost sympathetic.
"Believe me, it is."
"What is it?"
"I can steal other peoples Quirks."his voice was low, ashamed, afraid of the hurt and rejection heard many times before.
A pin might’ve dropped on the other side of Japan and Izuku would have heard it. When the silence stretched too much, the boy lifted his head to see the Number one hero in the world staring at him with an expression of mixed confusion and horror.
"See!? Even you think it’s evil!" he cried, feeling tears clouding his eyes" I don’t use it, I never use it. I tell people I’m quirkless, because the moment people know about it they run, they stay away. They’re afraid of me." a tear rolled down his cheek."I don’t want them to be afraid, I only ever wanted to be a hero. So" he sniffled "Can I be a hero with an evil Quirk?"
The silence stretched and the man seemed to ponder. To think, to rationalize. He seemed to be dealing with an existential crises. Izuku’s heart thrummed irregularly, waiting for the final verdict. In the end, the man said.
"There are powerful villains out there. Fighting them without a Quirk is impossible. But the only way you could defeat them is by taking another person’s Quirk. Though there are no laws against that, you said it yourself that it was immoral. Taking someone else’s power and using it for your own benefit will only make you a villain, no matter the end result. So, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ll never become a hero."
The boy felt the distinct moment his heart broke. It was painful. The shards of his last hope were grinding like glass against his ribcage with every tear that escaped his eyes. He swallowed and got to his feet. Tears were streaming doen his cheeks, but no sounds left his throat.
"Don’t look so down kid, you can still help people." All Might tried. Shut up. "You could become a policeman. They are not so popular, but..."
"All Might." he interrupted the hero, something he wouldn’t have dared to do fifteen minutes ago. The man stopped."I appreciate the effort, but please stop." his voice was dead and he didn’t even look at the man as he left the roof. If he had, he would’ve seen the broken expression on the man’s face and how his hand was stretched as if he wanted to say something.
Five heroes. Five. Five people trained to save people against one villain and no one did anything.
Izuku could no longer hear the crowd, the shouts, the fires. He could no longer hear the heroes screaming at civilians to stay away. His hearing disappeared, replaced by the sense of dread as he saw his childhood friend suffocating. His airwaves closed on his own and his heart was pounding in his chest.
No one was doing anything. They all just sat there. The blond was looking left and right, searching desperatly for a way out. His eyes were filled with bitter tears.
I would’ve died if All Might didn’t come. But All Might wasn’t coming. He said so himself. He didn’t have any time left. And neither did Kacchan. It was barely a moment, but his eyes locked with the blond’s. For the first time in years, they weren’t filled with rage, or disdain. They were filled with fear.
Give it back!
Izuku found himself running before he could properly understand what was happening. But once he did, he knew what he had to do. So, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ll never become a hero.
But I can at least die as one...
The concrete was chipped and broken. The street was empty. Izuku was feeling tired. He barely had the energy to put one leg in front of the other. The heroes had scolded him for saving Kacchan. For saving him. You could’ve gotten hurt..
So could he, you asshole!
You shouldn’t get in the way of the heroes.
Great fucking job there, you were letting him die, you incompetent brute!
Izuku puffed some air as he calmed himself. It wasn’t doing him any good to dwell on those things. They had praised Kacchan for his cool Quirk, not for how he was using it. They yelled at him for wanting to help, but not at the blond for panicking and putting even more people in danger.
They had done this all your life, you can’t expect now to be diffrent.
Feet hit the asphalt in a hurry, steps echoing in the empty street. Izuku turned around and saw a certain blond stopping a few meters in front of him. Speak of the devil. Kaccan was heaving and he looked like he had been running all the way from the comotion here.
"Saving me changes nothing!" he yelled "I don’t and I never needed your help. This won’t make us even, and one act of kindness is not enough to make you a hero. So, when you finally catch up to the fact that you’re only suited to be a villain, prepare, for I will take you down!" he yelled. He finished and turned to leave and Izuku didn’t have enough of a spark left in him to respond.
Let him be, you cannot change his mind.
He watched his friend disappear before a rush of wind hit him in the face. He was met with the smiling visage of his favorite hero.
"All Might?!" he yelled, too surprised to remember he was mad."Weren’t you assaulted by media?"
"A good hero always knows how to escape the media!" he said before he shrunk in a puff of smoke. Seeing it the second time made it no less traumatizing, but Izuku kept his face in check.
"Then why are you telling me this?" he left the affordable amount of bite in his voice and the blond had the decency to look embarrassed.
"Because, young Midoriya, you can be a hero!"
Izuku felt his blood drain his face. No, All Might, please don’t do this, please don’t toy with my emotions....
"But you said..."
"Yes, what I said it’s true and I stand by it, but there is a way for you to become a hero without taking someone else’s Quirk"
"How..?" he asked in a trembling voice, too scared to hope.
But he listened. He listened his hero saying he could achieve his dream. He listened to his hero offer to make him his successor, to train him to become the next Symbol of peace. He listened how the man told him he could become a hero without hurting anyone, without using his original Quirk.
So, when he was offered the choice, he couldn’t say yes fast enough.
"Hey, Mom, I’m home!" he yelled as he dashed for the kitchen and hugged his mom. Inko hugged him back and ruffled the already tangled mess of green curls. The colours may be hers, but the texture, much like his drive, came from his father.
"Aren’t we cheerful today?"
"Mom, I met All Might today and he said I could be a hero even with my Quirk!"
"Sweety, that’s wonderful, I knew you could do it!" she laughter and kissed his forehead.
"Is Dad available? I’d like to tell him too."
"Yes, he is."
"Great!" he rushed in his room, dialing the number he could as well recite from memory. It rang three times before the familiar voice answered.
"Izuku, how was your day?"
"Great, Dad, you won’t believe what happened: I met All Might today and he told me I could be a hero even with my Quirk."
"I’ve been saying the same thing since your Quirk manifested, but you needed a stranger to tell it to you for you to believe it."
"It’s not that" he said quickly, a drop of guilt in his voice."He didn’t say that it was evil or tried to get away. He seemed interested and wanted to know more. Granted, he was a bit wary at first, but he reacted better than the others." the lie felt bitter on his tongue, but telling the truth wasn’t really an option.
"Relax, I’m teasing you." he let out a small chuckle."but are you still sure you wanna be a hero? I support you in whatever you choose, but you could be better in literally anything else."
"Dad, we’ve talked about this, I wanna be a hero."
"And you will be. You’ll be one of the best out there who do it for people rather than money or fame."
"Thank you, Dad"
"No problem, good night."
For the first time in years, Izuku went to sleep with a smile on his face.