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Can a Devil be a Hero?

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Can a Devil Be a Hero?

A My Hero Academia Fan Fic

By Egg Emperor


'The Interlogue before the Prologue'

Interlogos I:

Il paradiso dall'inferno ?

 

– What is Evil without Good to Confine it?

What is Good without Evil to Malign it?

Good is that which is not Evil,

Evil that which is not Good;

Light & Darkness

Black & White

Life & Death

Day and Night.

Many view the World this Way

But Some, instead see shades of Gray

Ambiguously the Truth does lay

Up to Us to Find it,

An’ in our Actions;

Define it! –

 

 

Dagobah Municipal Beach Park: Friday July 28th, 2276 CE – 8:43 PM

 

On the seaboard of Musutafu Japan, one of the many small cities that ring the Tokyo megalopolis, lay a certain beach.

Once a beautiful spot where young lovers would go to watch the ocean, it had long become strewn with an avalanche of trash; garbage dumped into the water for miles around was brought here by the winds and tides where it washed up covering the once white sands in filth.

Or at least it was, recently it had been cleaned nearly clear in the span of two months. There were now only a few objects left, mostly the odd paint can or soda bottle, yet to be piled into a trash bag.

A single old industrial refrigerator was the only large item to remain.

Against the derelict appliance, a tall, tan and well-built young man laid in the sand, his arms splayed to the side, it could almost be called lounging, if not for obvious the discomfort of his chosen rest.

As it were fifteen-year-old Izuku Midoriya was watching the sun set and thinking over the past two months and the batshit fucking insanity that had become his life.   

 

We live in a Superhuman society, long ago the world changed, the Supernatural became the totally normal, dreams a reality…

 

“Yeah, no fucking shit!” the tan teen half laughed, half spat, slamming his right fist into the soft sand.

It was the intro to “My quirk and Me” a series of quirk educational materials for children – books, videos, interactive games, the whole works.

Izuku had hated it, the wording was intended to make kids accept their quirks as special and unique gifts, perfect for them alone so they wouldn’t compare it those of other kids and feel inadequate.

But for a kid who had no quirk and would never have one, those words of encouragement were a stab right in the heart, each verse about “how lucky you were to have your quirk” another twist of the knife.

“I wonder what they would say if they knew just how Supernatural their world really was? That along with their reality of pretty little dreams came fucking nightmares that they could scarcely comprehend!” he hissed darkly, his body temperature soaring.

That there is a lot more to worry about that simple Villains.

That tangible, supernatural evil exists, more monstrous than anything man can devise.

That monsters are real and walk the night, looking for people to corrupt, kill and devour. His hand was glowing red hot.

That God and His Angels in Heaven don’t care about humanity. The sand sizzled and crackled under his palm.

“And that right below us is an endless hoard of demons waiting for someone stupid enough or insane enough to set them free, so they can devour every living thing on Earth!” he growled inhumanly, slamming his fist down again only to have it stick in a taffy of molten glass.

Starting in surprise, he blinked owlishly at the molten mess.

“Oops…” he snickered, the sheepish realization breaking him from his tirade, and allowing him to simmer down his quite literally flaming temper before it ignited his clothes.

Control was something he hadn’t fully got the hang of, especially when he got emotional, hell he was still occasionally tripping over his own two feet, he was still so unused to them.

At age fifteen, he, Izuku Midoriya was in the rather unique position of having to get used to simply being himself.

Then again, he thought looking at his reflection in an old discarded cookie sheet.

“I don’t exactly look like myself, do I?”

Even now he half expected to see a pale soft face, rounded with baby fat, cheeks dusted with light freckles and an average nose overlooking a painfully bright smile filled with glossy teeth. Equally wide, innocent and curious eyes should have stared back him, topped by bushy brows and an unruly mop of curly moss green hair, with black lowlights.

Instead what greeted him was a deeply tanned, sharp and somewhat angular countenance, his angular cheekbones were covered with coppery red freckles and the sharp “perfect” nose overlay a mouth that was better at frowning than any other venture; and whose attempts at smiling returned smirks, sneers and a series of grins that given their host's sharpened teeth were better suited to instill terror than convey joy. “Predatory”, piercing red-eyes glittered like intelligent rubies, enclosed by tattoo like under-eye "bruises” that appeared almost drawn on. Above were a pair of sleek and hawkish eyebrows and a spiky midnight-green and black nest of hair that his mother now compared to an angry, squashed artichoke – much to his dismay. His once soft looping curls were now forced point up or out, his sideburns curved back under his ears.

His teeth had changed, becoming something fitting a carnivore, his canines had all sharpened into fangs and his other teeth were far more pointed than they should be.

Overall, he looked like some sort of “slightly off” male model according to the local gossip. He was apparently attractive, very so, he had plenty of people tell him that. But at the same time, he’s heard the whispers, he seems to be just slightly sinister, that he’s uncanny, there’s an eeriness to him, that he puts the dark in tall dark and handsome, the bad in bad boy.

Which makes sense, now that he thinks about it, with what he is, there’s probably some sort of subconscious cue or group of traits that causes him to affect people.

They might not know what he is, but they can feel it, feel that something is off, and somewhere deep in the reptilian brain, that feeling translates to danger and makes them feel slightly ill at ease, makes him feel off to them.

His face of course wasn’t the only thing that had changed since that night.

He sighs, loud, harsh and deep.

Since the night he wandered aimlessly, morosely in a haze of shattered dreams after being rejected by All-Might, wandered right into the hands of a bunch of insane as fuck demon worshipers who used him and D... several other poor bastards as human sacrifices to summon the legions of hell to…

“What the Hell were they planning on doing exactly?”

He never really did figure that one out, destroying the city, mass murder, mayhem and general pandemonium probably.

At any rate their crazy magic worked, and a bunch of demons ripped open a hole from Hell or wherever and started eating people, possessing people and just making the most nightmarish scene possible.

Tied up and gagged, there was nothing he could do when a monstrous entity drove right into his body; the pain was indescribable, everything went black. He never expected to wake up again, which considering his shattered dreams and worthless life at the time, wasn’t really that big of a deal when he considered it.

He sure as fuck wasn’t expecting to wake up in the body of a twelve-foot-tall hulking monstrosity of a demon and be in full control, well almost full; he was so freaked out and disoriented that it was mostly auto pilot and instinct that was killing the hell spawn, while his mind was preoccupied with a panic attack and figuring shit out.

After that it took hours for him to revert to a human form and then another two days to figure out how to use that shapeshifting ability to transform his new body into something that resembled his old one, so his mother would actually recognize him.

As it was he scared the poor woman half to death, if he hadn’t got back when he did, she probably would have found a way to call President Kirk and have him send the Marines.

He was just glad his transformation worked. Still he hated being in that cramped little form, it felt like being squeezed into a way too small suit but worse and everywhere both inside and out. It was uncomfortable in a way he couldn’t really describe. But he needed to do it, he couldn’t have just shown up like he was.

Instead he played a gamble, he slowly let the transformation come undone, making it look like he was still rapidly but believably, transforming, changing and growing.

After the first week, it was noticeable enough that his mother took him to a parade of doctors. They all diagnosed an almost impossibly late delayed quirk emergence, a conclusion that Izuku was in no hurry to disabuse them or his mother of. She was ecstatic, if a bit jarred at both the physical and mental changes that he quickly underwent.

Looking over himself, he could understand if she was ultimately shocked. He was still getting used what had happened/was happening.

As to what that was he could only guess, but he suspected that that big demon had tried to possess him, and something went wrong, for the demon at least. From the few books and esoteric sites, he could find that seemed to know what they were talking about - and they were few and far between - it seems that instead of devouring Izuku and walking around in his body, somehow the opposite happened, somehow, he had eaten the demon and ended up with this fucking sweet new body, supernatural powers, and an altered mental persona in the process - the last of which he was still coming to grips with.

As he slowly reverted the transformation, he grew eight inches taller over the next two months.

As his frame stretched out he gained an impressive gymnast type build, with a large chest, upper arms and legs and defined waist and abdomen– the eight pack he now sported had to be due to his supernatural nature, because there was no way he could keep that naturally with how he was eating now.

All and all he had increased his weight by over a third, to 178, adding nearly 70 pounds of muscle to his now 6’1” frame and requiring the expensive task of purchasing a whole new wardrobe, something he actually felt immensely guilty about.

And speaking of, his height wasn’t the only thing that grew by eight inches.

He couldn’t stop the smirk, he really couldn’t, he should it was completely perverse, the old him would have looked like a tomato with how red his face would have been.

Lately though Izuku had reasoned to himself – with the help of his demonically enhanced hormones – that he had taken pride many things before what happened; his notes, his ability to study and identify quirks, his encyclopedic knowledge of heroes and villains.

Back then his body wasn’t anything special, but now it was something to be admired, something he could be proud of, so long as the changes stopped soon, which was concerning, because so far, they hadn’t.

He was still growing taller, still adding more pounds of muscle and …inches; his new form had been 6 inches taller and… longer, when he first got it, the extra two were added over the intervening two months, and while he could deal with being somewhat freakishly tall…

There was a difference between being impressively large and being so large to elect the response ‘How the Hell do you think that’s gonna fit?!’

He groaned to himself, that really had the potential to put a damper on his currently non-existent, but hopefully soon to be extensive, sex life.

His libido was to put it tactfully sky-high. Before the beginning of Summer vacation, Izuku had never even talked to a girl – or guy – in that capacity, had jacked-off twice in his entire life and the idea of watching porn probably would have made him spontaneously combust on the spot.

Nowadays hitting on good looking people, ‘mostly’ unintentionally, was as natural as breathing, he watched more porn then even someone his age should, and he had to masturbate constantly to avoid a repeat of the ceiling incident – which according to every book he’d read in his terrified panic, and the internet should have physiologically impossible.

He moaned to himself, his cheeks red with embarrassment. “It was a miracle mom didn’t notice the stain before I could repaint the ceiling.” He muttered under his breath.

As it were, as much as the idea still made him blush, the red-light districts were becoming an increasingly attractive, if not potentially necessary possibility.

Yeah, he was fifteen, he shouldn’t be planning something like that, a normal fifteen-year-old boy might be a bit sex obsessed, but then again, he wasn’t exactly a normal fifteen-year-old boy anymore; hell, Izuku was pretty sure he wasn’t really human anymore after that night.

In truth, real reason was that even between his computer and his right hand, he was having trouble keeping edge off - and he was secretly terrified that repressing it might lead to a similar result to what happened when he tried to repress his more violent tendencies instead of finding and outlet.

Just thinking about the possibility makes him want to throw up.

In the end, he had gone from Izuku Midoriya purest innocent to Izuku Midoriya threat to the virtue of good looking teens…

Good or bad, it was just part of who he was now…that and a lot more.

As the Sun began finally dip below the horizon, dying the ocean scarlet, Izuku grimaced gritting his teeth;

Once his personality finally stabilized he was forever changed.

He now peppered his speech with swears, something he’d have never done before. He had gained an aggressive streak that rivaled Kacchan’s, and a love of violence that was frankly unsettling – even to him at times.

Which being who he was – or at least who he thought he was – he tried to repress it… unsuccessfully.

He thought he was doing well until one day he went looking for and beat up the local group of delinquents, not strictly because they had been tormenting the local little kids, though that was part of it – and it probably was what set him off – but because he wanted to, no, needed to beat the ever loving shit out of someone before he completely blew a fuse, and they were the perfect targets, worthy of his rage – and the resulting loss of teeth they incurred.

What he did to the gang notwithstanding, he had also begun to find particular enjoyment in both – his demon hunting, infrequent that it was – and in the most bloody and gory Hero/Villain fight footage he could get his hands on, something that worried his mother greatly.

After one particular incident where she caught him laughing at an accidental decapitation; it became a part of himself that he now desperately tried to hide and repress as much as he safely could.

The look of horror her face and the shock of guilt and disgust that ran through him all the motivation he needed.

As it were, there were too few demons around to keep his…bloodlust, in check.

Despite his regular nighttime prowls around Musutafu he had only managed to find and kill five in the past two months. And while worrying in its own right – considering how many those fucking cultists actually summoned – it was something he would have to deal with later.

Ultimately Izuku’s solution ended up having to be creative; he checked out every book he could find on the most violent martial arts around and began practicing on makeshift dummies made of beach garbage.

He sighed, closing his eyes.

It lacked the visceral satisfaction of fist against flesh, or in the case of demons, claws against throats, but it was enough to take the edge off, and keep him from being a ticking time bomb.

A few weeks in, his minor bouts of cleaning for his impromptu training area had come to the attention of the parks department and ultimately led him to get a part time job cleaning the place up – which he had nearly finished – and which helped with his new found, insatiable carnivorous appetite.

*Urrrrrrrrurph*

“Damn it, I really can’t take a break from you even for a few hours, can I?”

Another loud rumble of his gut is the only response he receives.

Getting to his feet Izuku dusts off his pants and shirt before looking around. The sun has completely set at this point, it’s getting pretty dark. He looks over the beach, now almost completely clear of all the debris.

“I’m almost done here anyway, I might as well get this done before going home.”

As quick as he can without being too obvious about his powers he gathers up the remaining small debris and throws them into the dumpster before setting his sights on the fridge.

With a quick glance around to make sure no-one is looking, Izuku hefts the thing up on one shoulder and quickly deposits it beside the dumpster, almost tripping when his stomach growls again, this time loud enough to have sounded abnormal if anyone had been around to hear it.

“All-right Damn it! I’ll eat in a few minutes, fuck!” the tan teen swears exasperatedly at his own body.

Stretching out the kinks in his back and he sets about making for home at a quick jog, letting his muscle memory and reflexes guide him while his mind remains occupied with his musings.

His mom had been able to keep up with him in that regard to a point – comments of growing boys and a quirk to fuel becoming common place – but Inko was having trouble keeping up with a boy who could down five tonkatsu cutlets, associated vegetables and four bowls of rice and still be famished.

The job paid enough that Izuku could use some of the money to feed himself all the beef, pork and chicken he could stomach from local food stands, while giving the rest to his mother, which he hoped she used for things like all his new clothes and the rent rather than squirreling it away in a savings account for him like he suspects.

As he sped through markets and beach streets he began to think on what he always felt was one of the more worrying aspects of his changed personality; the sudden loss of several prevalent moral compunctions that should have disturbed him far more than it actually did – it was the fact that his newly acquired sociopathic tendencies didn’t tend bother or guilt him, that freaked Izuku out the most.

He used to have major issues with lying, not only was he a terrible liar, but if he actually managed to get away with it, it wouldn’t be long before the guilt would eat him up and he’d spill the beans.

Now he was perfectly capable of twisting the truth anyway he wanted and not batting an eye; he could look his own mother straight in the eyes and lie to her face about where he was during one of his nighttime demon hunts, where the money from his job came from – she thought he worked at the local library – or the fact that he had applied to UA while he was still quirkless and feel no guilt what so ever.

Then there was the complete change to his original, almost pacifistic mindset. As a child he avoided hurting others when at all possible, even if that meant sometimes getting hurt himself. In the eyes of a young Izuku it was never good to stoop to the low of another. Retaliation – which his child-self had confused with justified self-defense – always felt like something villainous, you shouldn’t hit back his mother always had said.

Though now…

“Screw that, if you hurt me or anyone I care about, I will take everything you’ve done and return it double, postmarked to your face.” He muttered to the wind

Okay, he mentally walked back, maybe that was a little much.

Really, his thoughts now ran more along the lines of self-defense, measured retaliation, an eye for an eye, and even potentially swift and overwhelming preemption to protect what was important to him. So long as you were human that was…

Demons…his eyes narrowed, teeth shifted, sharpening even further… gave no mercy or compassion to humans, and in turn got none from him, only swift annihilation. 

Shaking his head to clear the bloodlust, he raced onward towards home

Some of his new reasoning was probably because of his newly acquired aggression – and the fact that demons abhorred being dominated, something he somehow instinctively knew. The other part might have something to do with the Japanese translations of Vom Kriege and Sun Tzu’s opus currently sitting on his desk; both found in his search of the library for martial arts books.      

Either way…

“Bakugou beware.” He chuckled with grim amusement as he practically danced, racing through the more affluent suburbs towards the center of town, no longer paying any heed or concern to the use of his powers as he became almost a blur, the darkened tree branches and leaves casting running partners for him in the light of the rising full moons.

Lastly and most disturbingly – at least a first – was the sudden and inexplicable narrowing of his previously near universal compassion.

Heroes – who pre-transformation, he based his entire damn moral structure around – were pillars of Justice the young Izuku thought, there was no room for cruelty, or spite, even towards the most heinous of villains. And ‘like’ his idols - "how naive" - the younger him could find good in and feel for about almost everyone.

It’s probably one of the reasons he let Kanchan get away with all the shit he pulled. Even now there was a small twisted and abused part of him that still thought of that asshole as a friend, still made excuses for him, even though the truth was, that with a friend like Katsuki Bakugou, Izuku didn’t need enemies.

That empathic streak had probably been more of a hindrance than help, even still the fact that it had vanished, and he hadn’t even noticed gave him the second biggest breakdown of his life.

A few weeks after he had changed, he remembered grinning so hard his teeth creaked – and his smile was assuredly no longer human – when the news broke that America had finally had enough and the State of New Jersey announced it was going to put that cackling psychopath down for good.

He also remembered thinking it was too little too late, considering the thousands of deaths he was responsible for, and the fact they were just going to either kill him with an overdose or shoot him.

The monster should have to die the same way his victims did, face stretched into a grin so huge that it tore, laughing so hard and long that he either suffocated or his lungs exploded.

In fact, following the news bulletin he had spent nearly thirty minutes imagining up and filling a new notebook with fitting horrific tortures to subject various wanted villains to before he realized what he was doing and dropping everything.

He ran to the bathroom, his blood turning to ice in his veins as he seemingly vacillated between either throwing up or laughing hysterically in horror; in the end he settled for hyperventilating and crying on his bed.

As his tears fell, he had become more and more convinced that not only was his physical humanity likely forfeit, but that he was probably slowly turning into a monster. Lately though, much to his relief, he had become more and more confident that at the very least some measure of his humanity remained and would continue to do so.

He could still laugh and smile, he still found joy in things that didn’t involve graphic mutilation or violence. He still loved his mother. He could still cry and feel the pain of others; every week just to make sure he could still feel something, he looked up a series of heart wrenching videos from the internet and always found himself bawling, first from how fucking tragic they are, then in relief that he’s still not completely heartless.

Only for the wicked, seemingly, is his empathy now void.

As he raced through downtown, he jumped on top of a building and then from roof to roof to avoid awkward questions. During his exercise in parkour, his thoughts shifted to how his more narrowed empathy had changed his view of the world, heroes and his future.

He realized that while maybe far from saintly, overall, he didn’t think it was completely evil to want to see evil and those who commit it punished by the measure of their crimes, even if that would require the infliction of cruel and unusual suffering.

With that kind of mindset, he might not be particularly heroic anymore, or especially good either; but he sure as fuck wasn’t evil and he considers himself firmly on the side of good despite his morally ambiguous nature.

It took a while to admit it to himself but as he saw it, it was now quite apparent that at least when it came to evil, he had become quite vindictive, vengeful even.

He always wanted to be a Hero, he wanted to save others, to help them.

But if a Hero couldn’t be vengeful, if they had to feel compassion for them, at least on some level…

If you had to have sympathy for “devils” …

“Then I’m not sure I can or even want to be one...”

The revelation was shocking.

He always wanted to be a Hero, for as long as he could remember. Even when he learned he was quirkless, when that dream should have died, and its ashes scattered on the wind, he kept it alive and close to his heart.

But if a Hero need to be that pillar of Justice, needed to be like …Him… and most of the rest…

Once long ago he wanted to nothing more to be him. Now he wanted to be anything but…

He couldn’t do that, he couldn’t feel anything for someone would willing use their gift to harm another; and while he was fairly certain that with Heroes like Endeavor, and aspirants like Kacchan, the Hero world was far grayer than most would think, he wasn’t sure if he could – or would want to – hold back if he were faced with a “demon” in human skin.

Somehow, he thought, castrating a rapist or breaking a murderer’s back before handing them over to the detention squad, would probably be frowned upon.

Maybe, maybe he could find some kind of balance or just learn to control himself, given time and mental training.

He wouldn’t know if he didn’t try…

And there it was…the current question of his life.

Slowing down to a jog as he reached the bridge in the center of town, which would take him towards the blocks of apartments where his own was located, he focused on the most pressing matter at hand, the question that he had been agonizing over for the past two weeks.

Morality, vengeance, demons, cults, and everything else aside; Did he want to try? Did he still want to be a Hero?

He had applied for the U.A. entrance exam months before his meeting with All-Might, subsequent rejection and then his rebirth that night.

The Exam was tomorrow, and he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to go.

It was the chance of a lifetime, and now, now that he had more power than almost anyone but All-Might himself, he would ace it no problem if he put any kind of effort at all into it.

But there were dangers. His drastic transformation, covered by the flimsy lie – as far as Izuku knew, and he knew a lot, quirk emergence never altered the mass, body type and apparent age of the subject so drastically, let alone their personalities like what happened to him – of an impossibly rare delayed emergence at nearly fifteen years of age was already suspicious and his former childhood hero would be doubly so given their conversation, assuming he remembered it.

If anyone ever found out what he actually was, there might literally be hell to pay, his own safety aside, his mother might be in danger as well – the thought of which nearly made him transform in a rage.

Then there was the potential for his presence to draw the remaining demons towards the school and endanger everyone there.

He had absolutely no idea if quirks could even hurt a demon, it wasn’t inconceivable that his powers alone – being demonic themselves in origin – along with the powers of other demons and angels were the only things capable of slaying the legions of Hell.

If that was the case, then he’d be leading a group of nigh unkillable psychopathic monsters into a group of lambs. He could probably take care of even a dozen them with few to no casualties, but he’d certainly be exposed in the process.

Again, something to avoid at all costs.

His registry paperwork only listed him as having super-strength and speed, there was nothing about his ability to transform or shapeshift, or any of the other circus of powers and abilities he was packing – the full extent of which he didn’t even really know himself.

If he went tomorrow, and for the rest of his time at UA he had to be careful. His changed physical appearance would probably lend itself to people thinking he was a mutation rather than an emitter like most quirks similar to his powers, so if he had a small slip, like his claws, it might be recoverable.

Coming to a stop in front of his apartment complex, he laid out the mental list of restrictions that he would have to be under for the duration if really wanted to go to U.A. – at least while he was at school.

It would mean no heat burst - projected or otherwise - and no wings, claws or transformation of any kind; just his super strength, speed, reflexes and senses. Already that was pushing it, it was more than what he put on his “quirk” registry, but those were all constantly on, he couldn’t really turn them off if he wanted to, though thankfully they weren’t something anyone could just look at him and see either. 

It would also mean that he would have to control himself, probably more than he was already. Something that he was still unsure he could keep up for long.

Because ultimately the “New” Izuku was an addiction, something he's has never felt before that night two months ago - something probably no one has ever felt before. Who he is now is like a never ending high - he is power, he is sex, he is swagger, he is sickening, uncanny, perfection.

He is a demon.

He is everything that comes with that, the amazing body, the powers, the endless confidence, the almost instinctual mannerisms and actions that have everyone so far falling at his feet, it’s a dream born of a nightmare, a Heaven from Hell.

He huffs in derision; “If I knew that getting possessed was my ticket out of being a “quirkless” loser I would have gotten kidnapped by cultists a long time ago.” Izuku half jokes to the night air as he bounds up the stairs to the apartment where he and his mother live.

...

“You know what? Screw it!”

Yeah, he’d do it.

Tomorrow he’d go to U.A. and fucking ace that exam, if only to see the horror on Bakugou’s face Monday morning, first when he meets the new me and then learns we’re both going to U.A.

The image of Kacchan’s face warped in a mixture of horror, disbelief and fear at what had happened to his favorite punching bag served to help Izuku sleep very well that night; even as his dreams played over the day when everything changed, the day and the night when his life literally, when to Hell.

Teaser

The next ≈ 8 chapters will be:

Prologos I: Agnus Dei – Which will cover the altered canon prologue and Izuku’s capture.

Prologos II: Zoroaster – Vaḍā Dastur: Ahura Mazda - Covers the direct aftermath of Izuku's capture and a special meeting in the dungeon.

Prologos III: Die illa Transfiguratio – Covers the dark “sabbath” ritual/the summoning of the demonic hoard and Izuku’s rebirth as “Devilman” – and potentially him working out what has happened, figuring out how some of his powers work and getting back home. (Has been split now the 4th chapter overall)

Prologos IV: Deceiving the Sage of Kos – Izuku begins to let his artificial transformation slip and change. Inko takes him on a whirlwind tour of doctors who arrive at a conveniently incorrect diagnosis and Izuku deals with various facets of demonic puberty as it were, and his changing attitude - just where did he pick up that mouth?

Prologos V: A Day in the Life of a Teenaged Devil – Izuku works on his growing powers and body, reads a few books, chases down some delinquents, makes a mugger soil himself and fights his first demon, plus so much more.

Chapter 1: Advent of the Marquis – Izuku arrives at U.A. to take the entrance exam, has an awkward first meeting with Uraraka, and even more disastrous first impression with Ida, avoids Bakugou and poises himself to show the watching All-Might just how wrong he was.

Chapter 2: Arieh Yehuda – Or Deku no more – which will cover Izuku returning to middle school after passing the U.A. entrance exam and Bakugou, Cronies and everyone’s general reaction to the new Izuku and his getting into U.A.

Chapter 3: Waltz of the Marquis’ Enmity – Covers the first day of class, meeting with the other characters, the introduction of Aizawa and potentially All-Might, both who will learn quickly that even the nicest demon doesn’t like being humiliated and boy can he carry a nasty grudge…he might even pout a you!

Chapter Text

Option B: Stay the Course; A Healthier All-Might and No Successor IT IS!


 

 

Can a Devil Be a Hero?

A My Hero Academia Fan Fic

By Egg Emperor


Prologos I:

Angus Dei

 

 – Puppets; We guide their strings, our joyful self creations,

These Simulacra; We watch their Strives to ignore, Our Tribulations.

And yet despite the casual theory, simple, seeming sound,

 What We, the Real, Desire, is not Happiness Unbound.

No; We shun the Joyful, deride the Happy End,

We seek out Angst and Suffering,

We drink a Darker blend.

αω

We take Our pleasure Dimming, the Bright Scripts of One-Another;

Their Effigies, Facsimiles, We Torment for our Brothers.

Cruel and Fickle Gods are We,

Fearsome, Loathsome, Scribes,

Our Marionettes, on the Coals;

We Bid them Dance and Writhe.

Thus, shared are We, in destiny, capricious fellow Scourges,

And thus, for You I do present, a Timeline that Diverges.

ωα

One to Another, Eight to Nine

Was how it went,

The Grand Design,

But deep within our Twisted Mind,

A small idea,

It blossomed.

Transmute the Light to Darkness make,

Fuse Two Worlds and Fate Forsake,

From a Hero,

 A Demon shape,

For Our Brethren’s entertainment.

So here you go, my Baleful Host,

My fellow Demiurges!

Drink Deep an’ Toast with me, this offering to Our Urges!

~

Sacrifice! O’ Sacrifice!

Behold the Lamb we Offer!

Sacrifice O’ Sacrifice!

His Hopes and Dreams we Proffer!

Sacrifice O’ Sacrifice!

Upon our Graven Alter!

את

Gleaming Future now Undone!

Fated Destiny Unspun!

Threaded Tapestry a Shamble!

Altered now the Great Preamble!

Strike our Chorus!

Now Abhor us!

O’ This offering we Bring!

To the Darkness that we Sing!

On this Lamb we lead to Slaughter;

Muse we do, we think and ponder,

On this Fate allowed to wander

This gravest question Asked.

תא

A Single dodged Punch was all it took,

 To change Our beloved Story Book;

And make Destiny unwind.

So now the Query that we Pose,

What other Changes to the Prose,

 Have our Machinations wrought?

Just Wait and See and hold Your glee

This Tarnished Tale, Begins! –

 

People are not born equal…  That’s the hard truth Izuku Midoriya learned at the age of four. He intended that to be his first and last setback… 

And in theory it should have been… 

His destiny was to be a bright one, a shining Star of Hope for all the world, a Hero of Heroes, vanquisher of the last tendrils of darkness the institutions of Villainy could muster.

But something strange happened; Fate already mercurial and capricious somehow changed from her determined course.

 

 

 

 

Five years ago, during their climactic battle, All for One and All-Might fought with unspeakable brutality. At the climax, a pair of devastating punches should have been exchanged, crippling both men almost completely; instead for whatever reason these crucially important blows did not fall.

For some reason, strange and unknown, instead of shocking All-Might with the sordid details of Nana Shimura’s death and striking another hit, All for One chose to escape, preserving more of his waning vitality and sparing All-Might a catastrophic injury.

 

In that moment, the very foundation of Izuku’s destiny was shattered beyond any recognition. 

But Fate is a fickle being, what she breaks, she also repairs, just never in the way you might suppose.

Instead a very different destiny awaits our young hero, the beginning of a long hard road, one that leads deep into the darkness, and may or may not, lead back into the light.

___

Musutafu City, Edge of Downtown: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 7:43 AM

 

People are not born equal…  That’s the hard truth he learned at the age of four.

It was his first set back.

“It’s going to be my last set back.” He whispered to himself, a daily mantra he repeated to himself.

Today was no exception, as he walked towards his middle school 14-year-old Izuku Midoriya had his head held high, backpack clinched securely around his shoulders as he repeated his daily declaration and made his way past the center streets on the edge of downtown towards the location of his school, all the while ruminating on his past and his future.

Yes, he learned very early in that life was unfair, that the strong would often prey upon the weak.  Maybe that’s why he gravitated so strongly to heroes, people who made it their life’s mission and dedication to protect the weak from the strong, from the cruel people who abused their quirks, the people known as villains or better yet simply bullies.

Long before he even learned of his “condition”, he had begun writing notes on heroes, villains, and their quirks, on everything he knew about them. After the diagnosis his pace picked up, and he never slowed down.

Even with all the heartache, all the cruel off hand comments, all the taunts, the bruises, scrapes and even burns; even still Izuku was determined to persevere.

He filled volume after volume, All-Might, Eraserhead, Midnight, Ectoplasm, Ingenium, Endeavor, Gang Orca and hundreds of others. Even Kacchan and his other so-called friends had their own pages, detailing everything from their deficient personalities, to how their quirks worked, their strengths, and of course their weaknesses – though he was too timid to actually try putting the knowledge in the last category into practice.

This was more than just his hobby, this was his passion, his life, the way he somehow maintained the tiny little spark in his chest, the desire to be a hero. The want to save others, to dedicate himself to justice and peace; even the desire to be admired and adored, but not because he was a hero but because he saved others, he wanted to be loved for what he did not what he was.

He stood strong even as throughout the years he took a beating; from the ridicule and cruelty of his so-called friends, to the clinical and dispassionate dismissal from most of the adults in his life.

Hopeless, weakling, quirkless, worthless – buzzed Kacchan’s lackies.

Confused, selfish and unrealistic – droned all manner of therapists and guidance counselors.

And of course, by far his least favorite, Deku, a perverse alternate reading of the characters of his name, literally turning or making Izuku, into, useless.

It was pretty much the sole way that Kacchan addressed him after they’d turn five. It was something he put up with, bore for the memory of the boy who was his friend.

As for the rest the world, there were his peers who tossed around childish insults and the other adults, who though probably well-meaning, hurt him their attempts to steer his thought processes onto – what were in their minds – more reasonable or obtainable objectives.

Others mostly older peers but even sometimes adults were blunter with their attitude and words: foolish, give up, impossible or even delusional were thrown around with some regularity.

Still despite all it all he kept on going, he kept on writing in his journals he kept filling them, pages after pages of heroes and villains, of analyses of their quirks and hypotheses of everything unknown detail that he could make out. 

Finally, in the last 6 months he put the final steps of his plan into action. He would be a hero, quirk or not. And he knew exactly how to make it happen.

He swept through his notes like a tsunami, condensing, reanalyzing, expounding and correcting, categorizing and finally extracting. From his library of over 100 books he took the salient points he needed.

Hero’s, Vigilantes, Villains, the source in the end didn’t matter, anything and everything that could be useful to someone without power was collected: every move, every tactic, every weapon and support gear. Izuku compiled their skills, their techniques, their attitudes, their victories and losses, their potential strengths and their weaknesses.

All of it was processed, condensed down and placed into his greatest, most important work.

Book No. 13: Hero Analysis for the Future

The thirteenth book of the year, and his masterpiece.

Through it, he silently and meticulously, ever so carefully planned that at end of Junior High he would apply to U.A. High school, by far the greatest hero school in Japan and one of the greatest in the entire world. It was there he thought, that he could prove that he could be a hero even without a quirk.

That was months ago, the application was in, his councilor had taken pity on him – or had finally acquiesced simply to make him go away – and signed off on it.  All that was left now was to get through today and he was home free! The entrance exam was to be the on the second to last day of Summer Vacation, by the time he was back here again for the last few weeks of third year, there would be nothing Kacchan or anyone else could to stop him – assuming he got in of course.

He suddenly looked up from his musings.

“And I mumbled that out loud like a total weirdo and people are staring.” He nervously stammered at the odd looks he was receiving.

In hopes of avoiding further embarrassment, he increased his pace to a brisk jog towards the next left that he needed to make.

Quickly tuning the corner at a jog to pass by the train station, Izuku was shocked open mouthed at the scene he came to.

Humans are not innately good, and in a world filled the super humans, there will of course be those who use their powers to commit crimes and acts of violence against their fellow man. If heroes exist, then so do villains. Izuku, because of his “hobbies” probably knew that better than most.

Even still watching a dreadlocked mutant with a face and build similar to a rhinoceros and girth roughly twice that, destroying the train station after a failed purse snatching was something that took getting used to.

A voice rang out over the square

Izuku watched as Kamui Woods, a relatively new superhero with the power to control the wooden material of his body arrived on the scene.

He didn’t have much on Woods given his relatively recent debut, and while it was apparent from his arrival alone that he did significantly rely on his quirk, his stance and movements seemed to indicate he had at least a moderate proficiency in some sort of fighting discipline, which could prove helpful to someone quirkless.

The moss haired teen quickly pulled his notebook out, barely containing the fanboy glee that screamed at him to forget the notes and just watch the fight.

“Pure evil,” the hero had called the rampaging thief, something that on reflection, Izuku fan of heroes that he was, found a bit much.

“Petty larceny and destruction of property in a tantrum aren’t exactly Arch-Villain level actions, selfish and petty perhaps, evil possibly, but pure evil? No.” he muttered darting his eyes back and forth between his notebook, the crowd and the scene, in a brokered compromise of his desires. He was soon near to the point either giving himself whiplash from his darting gaze or yelling himself horse in excitement.

The battle volleyed back and forth for about a minute, each combatant trading blows before Kamui decided to use his wood-based powers to imprison the villain in some sort of cage…

Only for an enormous scantily clad woman to come out of nowhere with a flying roundhouse kick, sending the villain crashing into the ground and doing considerable extra damage to the train station in the process.

Turning around to face the crowd, she struck a rather suggestive pose and introduced herself as Mount Lady, announcing that this was her Pro-hero debut.

Izuku stared in dumbfounded shock while everyone else gazed with a different set of emotions in mind, the realization of which made Izuku go tomato red with just the thought. 

The villain was knocked out cold and then quickly apprehended, locked in a bizarre series of chains and cuffs; it seemed the crisis was over a least for the time being. Noting this, Izuku quickly jotted down what he could observe of the newest hero, in his notebook and then quickly dashed off to school, he was late and besides he felt a little bit uncertain about the slightly crazy gleam in Mount Lady’s eyes as she posed for the press.

 

As he ran down the block he looked down.

In his hands was Notebook 13.

Cradling it in his arms, Izuku smiled and felt a surge of warmth in his chest as he ran down the walkway to the entrance of Aldera Junior High.

Someday that would be him in front of the press, he silently declared, his hand tightened on the journal.

This book now with the added observation of the newest heroes and his plans for U.A. contained with would ensure it. Even as the last day before summer vacation began, his class in an uproar, he silently and carefully added to it. Two months from now would be U.A’s entrance exam, and a month and a half after that would mark the beginning of classes of first his year of high school. If all went the way he wanted it to, it would be at UA, and his dreams would be ever closer to reality. 

 

Aldera Junior High Classroom 2A: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 11:43 AM

 

It was the last day before summer vacation, the entire class was burning with both excitement nervous energy.

From his desk at the front of the room their teacher grasped the top sheaf of the stack of papers holding them in his hand, before tossing them into the air.

“You’re all at the end of your third year!”, he practically shouted.

“In theory should all be filling out these career forms, but of course, let me guess”, he slammed his fist on the table right as he actually shouted,

“You all want to be heroes, right!?” he yells in a sarcastic manner that only long years of teaching can inspire.

The classroom exploded with cheers and laughter, quirks of all types and shapes on display.

“Of course, you do”, he half snorted half sighed

“Yes, yes, you all have magnificent and wonderful quirks, and may I remind you that using them in school is against the rules.” He intoned the timber and register of a man who has given up all hope on the subject.

Izuku is subdued and silent throughout most of this huge spectacle, he barely raised his hand preferring to go unnoticed as he continued to work on his precious notebook.

But of course this happy ruckus did not stay so for long.  He practically expected it at this point and when it finally happened, well…

…Kacchan.

“Come on sensei, don’t lump me in these losers, as if I had anything like their stupid crappy quirks!”

Someone in the room yelled something to be effect of “Get over yourself!”

It only resulted in a reply of “Extras should act like Extras!” from the pyromaniacal blond. 

Musing on the matter, the teacher was quite thankful that he wouldn’t have to deal with such a troublesome student for very much longer.

“Ah yes, Bakugou, you of course must be aiming for U.A. high school, correct?” that time could almost be classified as directly sarcastic, but the teacher kept just enough sardonic tone out of his voice to avoid being called out on it.

The statement itself simply resulted in a vast eruption of further jeers and chaos as the whole room dissolved into near anarchy.

Mutterings went back and forth about the about the difficulty of U.A.’s rigorous entrance requirements, test scores and an incredibly low acceptance rate.

All the while the Izuku shrunk more and more into himself, trying to make himself as small as possible and desperately hoping in his head that no one noticed him.

‘All I have to do is just keep my head down stay quiet and don’t let anyone notice me,’ he thought.

‘If I can just get through the rest of today, everything will be fine. The entrance exam is over the break, by the time Kacchan and his classmates realize what happened it’ll be too late. I’ll be in and there will be nothing they can do about it.’

All while his internal turmoil boiled; Katsuki Bakugou was continuing to inflate his ego evermore, eventually declaring that he would surpass even All-Might himself.

Unfortunately for Izuku his teacher would unknowingly blow his entire plan to smithereens both figuratively, and with Bakugou assisting soon to be literally!

“You’re also going for U.A, aren’t you Midoriya?” The tone was light, for once Izuku thought his teacher really wasn’t out to get him, he had no idea of the massive fuse he had just lit.

It was the calm before the storm, Izuku twitched and then…

The shock wore off and the room erupted into snorts and calls of laughter; good grades weren’t everything, dreaming and delusional were tossed around, jeers and taunts flew like birds until it all was silenced with literal explosive violence…

As his desk exploded into shards of wood at Bakugou’s hand, Izuku nervously stammered, trying to explain himself. 

“Forget the crappy quirks, you’re totally quirkless!”

“And you think you can rub shoulders with me?!” the blond sneered.

“No wait, ah…  Kacchan!” Izuku nervously tried to stammer, backing away from the smoldering figure that was his ersatz friend.

“I mean… no I know I can’t, I’m not trying to compete with you Kacchan, but …”

“But?” was hisses back like an angry kettle.

“This has been my dream forever, ever since I can remember, I mean you were there!” he gets out, pallidly refusing to look up at the explosive boy.

“And, you little loser? Were we’re kids, I got a quirk, you didn’t! You’re not like me, you never were, and you should have understood that, given up and lived your quirkless life!”

“Still…There’s no harm in trying…?” Izuku spouts nervously.

“Try WHAT? The EXAM?! You’re taking it to TRY?” The ruby eyed blond erupted with rage, his palms smoking and sizzling in fury, the rest of the class gazing on, doing nothing as the arrogant boy’s ego driven anger is focused onto their classmate.

Izuku takes a chance, a mistake, and stares up into the fiery gaze of his attacker and the glares, stares and judging looks of his classmates and teacher. 

“What can you even DO?!”

“Deku!?”

Jeers and spiteful laughter fill the room.

 

Musutafu City, Downtown: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 11:53 AM

 

The streets of downtown Musutafu were packed with people going about their daily business as well as throngs of salary workers out for a quick lunch. Among the hustle and bustle of the city Toshinori Yagi sipped from his chain store coffee as he walked along the streets, carefully watching the daily goings on. He made sure his eyes didn’t connect with those of other people and kept moving to avoid drawing suspicion as he keenly observed the city and the people around him.

He was exhausted, he had been awake for over 3 days straight at this point, fighting villains and criminals as he had come to them, signing autographs, dodging news crews, finding a lost child, and getting four ungrateful cats down from trees; all while running himself ragged looking for a lead on the recent local disappearances.

A few hours ago, the combination of mental and physical stress taken its toll and reduced him into his less stunning and more importantly less recognizable, depleted form.

Amazingly he had in the past 5 hours got more done in than in the previous 50 combined.

Sometimes he mused, this effect actually proved useful. As All-Might in his full Glory, he couldn’t simply walk among the streets without being mobbed by fans and reporters, attacked by overconfident villains or roped into some other crisis, he’d never get the kind of investigative work he needed to do now done – as he had just learned first-hand over the past 72 hours.

A tall, decently well-built, blond man in slacks and a casual shirt on the other hand, was non-descript; even if the bags under his eyes probably stood out, he looked no different from any other beleaguered office worker with a gym membership.  

He chuckled under his breath “If only there was a way for me to control the switch in both directions, it could prove itself much more useful and less detrimental.”

And he silently added he wouldn’t have to bear the brunt of absolute physical exhaustion and mental haze in order to use it for investigative purposes.

Sometimes he missed the days before All-Might was a household, worldwide name. It was at times like this he could fully understand Shouta’s extraordinarily dislike of the limelight.

Eraserhead’s vehement dislike of reporters, disdain for fame in general, and thus his resulting anonymity, allowed him to move and act in ways that more popular heroes couldn’t.

He really didn’t want to have to pull others besides his mentor into this to debacle, but if it was as he and Gran Torino feared; that All for One was really back and up to his old scheming, then this city, its neighbors and potentially the entire country or even the world itself could be in grave danger.

The ancient Arch-fiend’s machinations were vast and protracted but when they came to completion and finally struck the results were always nothing less than absolutely devastating.

For the sake of millions of innocents, that monster could not be allowed the time to scheme, his raw power was dangerous enough on its own.

In their last battle they both had pummeled each other severely, raining down devastating blows. The very fact that prolonged and extraordinary exertion would temporarily reduce All-Might to a form not dissimilar to how he looked in his late-twenties and bereft of most of his power, was the result of the damage he had incurred during that skirmish.

Ultimately, when Toshinori assessed his recollection, All for One was definitely the worse off of the two them, probably the reason he ended the battle and escaped instead of continuing it as a fight to the death.

It was naïve but for a while he hoped that All for One had either died from his wounds or had potentially gone to ground to heal them for maybe an indefinite length of time.

Admittedly the latter option wasn’t exactly good, but a break from its first Super-villain would likely do world some good, and by then One for All would have advanced several more generations, at that point in time it might only take a single punch or two to send the fiend back to hell where he belonged.

As he crossed a busy street he began to think on really how naïve those thoughts were.

Unfortunately, his hopes dimmed three years ago when people began to vanish from cities and towns all across the greater Tokyo metro area. Some of them turned up again, completely bereft of their quirks and with little to no memory of what happened to them. Nine months in, two dead bodies were found in remote industrial areas within a week of each other, both so horribly mutated and disfigured that bone marrow samples, facial age progression/recognition software and a week’s time on Tōdai’s Citadel Supercomputer was required to make positive identifications. A third body was still being analyzed manually, mainly because the computer’s AI threatened mutiny if they made her work on something so horrendous ever again.

The rest of the missing… were never seen again.

Over three years, there were at least 228 potential victims: 111 stripped of their quirks and suffering amnesia for the time they were missing, three horribly disfigured bodies, one of them still unidentified and 114 missing – and for those in the know, now presumed dead or worse.

In the beginning, the disappearances had no real pattern – much to his frustration – they were spread all across the enormous Tokyo Megalopolis Prefecture – the only place they seem to avoid was the core 10 of the 23 wards of the old metro proper, the outer 13 and later addition wards, satellite cities and other incorporated metros and subdivisions were fair game.

After about 14 months though, the disappearances became mostly concentrated in the south and southwest centered on the cities of Musutafu in Greater Tokyo District, Genosu ward city in Kawasaki District City and Kamino ward city in Greater Yokohama District. Both he Gran Torino took this to mean that All for One’s base of operations – or at least one of them – must be centered somewhere within the geographic scope of these three adjacent cities.  

Deciding on how he wanted to investigate – which was not his strong suit to begin with – took some time to plan. As All-Might his movements were heavily and precisely tracked by the news media and thus relayed to pretty much everyone in Japan, hero, villain and civilian.

Moving from his agency in central Tokyo, even for a brief amount of time would cause an uproar, and rampant speculation that would easily hamper any investigative venture on his part and likely that on the parts of the police and local heroes.

On the other had going incognito wasn’t practical and ultimately wouldn’t be helpful anyway; the moment he moved All for One would know it. Even now he it knew it was highly likely that centuries old psychopath knew that All-Might now had strong suspicions of both his survival and his general whereabouts.

No what he needed was an excuse, a believable if not conditionally factual reason for him to be in the general vicinity of the parts of the megalopolis where the abductions were occurring.

His solution came in the form of a letter from Nedzu, Principal of U.A Heroics Highschool and a close personal friend.

The hyper intelligent little mammal had sent an out of the blue inquiry as to whether Toshinori would be willing to perhaps take a semi-sabbatical of sorts from Pro-hero work to be a teacher at the school for 3 years.

It was so perfect that the result had left him disturbed. He had contacted his mentor to see if he had mentioned anything to Nedzu or Chiyo and was quickly told he had not.

It was then easily apparent that Nedzu had seen around him the signs of All for One’s possible return just as he and Torino did and predicted that Toshinori would be soon looking for a way in. One he was all too happy to provide.

All-Might was grateful and bewildered; frankly the man, whatever his actual species was, was sometimes just frightening in his perceptiveness.

He accepted the offer as quick as he could, the fact that, his old alma mater was located in Musutafu, provided him many opportunities he would not have had otherwise.

It provided the perfect excuse for him to hand off his agency in Central Tokyo to his seconds in command and take the teaching post U.A. so he could closely surveil the region – and the potential activities of All for One – without drawing too much attention overall; a well-established hero taking some time off to teach at his old school was not something that was at all unheard of. Indeed, for a hero of his caliber and age range it was almost something that was expected.

Another benefit was simply that the school was a bastion of heroes; many of whom actually continue to work as pros to varying degrees concurrent with their jobs as teachers.

And while Toshinori really didn’t want to drag anyone else into this war, given the danger the enemy posed; it was that very level of danger, and the simple scale of the death and destruction that could result, that eventually might force him to requisition help from his colleagues – his heart seemingly gyrated in his chest at the thought. Simultaneously soaring at the heroic selflessness of the help his comrades would without a doubt provide and plummeting at the knowledge of the danger they would be exposed to. 

As it were Nedzu, his friend and the Principal had already long been informed the situation. As for the others time and how things played out would ultimately tell.

There was one though; as much as his relationship with Aizawa was a strange and bizarre thing, almost existing on the borders between rivalry, begrudging respect, and genuine friendship, he would likely tell the underground hero fairly soon.

One last thing that made him accept the invitation without a thought was that Toshinori was deeply concerned about the safety of U.A. itself.

As the most prominent hero academy in Japan by far and one of the most prominent in the world as a whole, even the average student in the General Education department usually possessed an above average quirk, to say nothing of the students in the Heroics course. The fact that Musutafu, the location of the school was part of the area where the disappearances have become concentrated over the past two and half years could very well mean that the students themselves were in danger.

The school’s rigorous selection process itself might had done much of All for One’s work for him, selecting and gathering together many of the most powerful quirks in the area, ripe for the picking. And while U.A.’s defenses were strong, numerous and state of the art they would provide little in the way of protection from a man who could level an entire prefecture if he really put his mind to it. The potential that the school might be attacked and so many young potential heroes violated, deprived of their quirks and possibly their lives, filled Toshinori with a mixture of stomach churning fear and heart pounding rage.

As the only person he knew of that actually managed to cause All for One lasting if not potentially debilitating damage, he hoped his presence at the school would at least make the fiend think twice about targeting it, at least directly.

All-Might promised himself that he’d end the bastard if he so much as tired.

Tossing his empty cup into a trash can, he began to pass through one of the many Parks that dotted the downtown area, the shade provided by the trees making the area cooler under the sweltering summer sun.

Spotting an unoccupied bench, he sat down.

Enjoying his brief respite in the shade he stretched and sighed, popping a few kinks from his back.

“I’m getting too old for this kind of stress”, he muttered.

It was true; at 52 he was getting on in years for hero – especially one with an offensive quirk – and while One for All kept him young to an extent, his inability to continuously harness its full power, the injuries he sustained from the battle with All for One that caused that, and the simple march of time would eventually force him to retire in another 10 to 15 years. At that point or maybe shortly thereafter – or maybe even a little before – he would have to decide on a successor if he decided to have one.

But that was a whole other can of worms for another time.

Taking down All for One and stopping him from doing any more damage was his first priority – well that and teaching.

Stretching, he got up from the bench and continued his perambulatory musings, emerging back onto the streets in the middle of a shopping district.

As he walked into the crowd of people moving along the street, a scream suddenly erupted.

“Thief! Someone stop him!” someone yelled from up the road.

An instant later a humanoid and apparently villainous blob of slime careened down the lane shoving its way through the throngs of people, carrying what looked like a purse.

“Catch me if you can!” it gurgled out as it raced by Toshinori and a crowd of onlookers.

“It’s always something,” one man muttered,

“This morning’s incident probably encouraged it,” another said.

He acted almost on instinct before he remembered his situation and environment.

It was risky, he was sleep deprived and mentally and physically exhausted, over his limits in every way possible. He had maybe 3-4 hours tops before it caught up with him – and there was no guarantee that he wouldn’t run across something more serious later.

But at the same time, he was All-Might, the Symbol of Peace, he would not and could not let a villain committing a crime right in front of him go unpunished.

Toshinori quickly gazed around, making sure that all eyes were well and truly locked on the spectacle unfolding in front of them before he mentally reached into his chest for the blazing sun of One for All and pulled it to him, transforming himself into All-Might once more.

“They’re everywhere, there’s simply no end to them,” a third said.

Pitching his voice resonant so it would carry, Toshinori put a grin on his face.

“Yes, there is!” the crowd turned and gawked,

“Because…”

“I am here!” he proudly proclaimed.

 

Aldera Junior High Classroom 2A: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 3:32 PM

 

It was the end of the day and things we’re finally starting to calm down at least somewhat.

The teacher finally took pity on Izuku and told Kacchan and the other students to stop, either that or perhaps he just finally became cognizant of the fact that letting Bakugou rampage: demolish more school property and potentially harm another student, might cost him his job.

‘Was probably the latter’, Izuku bitterly thought to himself, beginning to wonder exactly when he had become so critical of other people’s intentions.

“Probably when it became clear that they didn’t care about me one way or the other,” he spat under his breath.

As the final bell rang and he got up from his desk, he looked over his phone, cheering up when he saw that the morning’s incident he had watched on his way to school was now all over the news and social media.

With all that information now floating around out there he could really finish organizing his notes on today!

Humming happily, he was about to close his fingers around his notebook when it was snatched from his grasp.

“We ain’t done here, Deku.”

He turned around to see Kacchan glaring down at him, and the notebook flopping in his left hand.

Several of their classmates approach the pair, most of them Bakugou’s so called friends.

Bakugou showed them the notebook triggering jeers and laughs.

“For my future? Seriously Midoriya?” One scoffed.

Though he tried to present a calm exterior, internally Izuku was frantic, that book represented months of work, all his plans and strategies for the U.A. entrance exam, everything he had built up over the past year in his quest to be hero despite having no quirk; all of it was within that notebook.

“C-come on, give it back!” he begged.

There was a sudden loud explosion, the book now lay charred and smoldering in Bakugou’s hands.

With the dismissing snort, he threw it out the window.

“Why…” why would you do that Kacchan the green haired boy mentally finished, on the verge of tears.

“Let me tell you something Deku,” he began stalking towards the meeker boy.

“The best heroes out there, they showed signs of greatness even as students.”

Leaning close into the petrified boy, he continued.

“Let me make this clear, you’re nothing and you will always be nothing.”

“I’ll be the first and only hero from this crappy public middle school! The first to win the honor becoming a student at U.A. High.”

He placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. Radiating heat, it produced curls of smoke as he singed his victim’s jacket, and then just to reinforce what he was saying he gave the brightest smile he could as he delivered his ultimatum.

“In other words, … Don’t you DARE get into U.A. nerd!”

Actually frightened, and utterly unable to speak in his defense, Izuku simply shook and stared down at his hands.

Bakugou’s cronies laughed.

One of them even called on him to say something; whether it was because he was actually feeling guilty and wanted the boy he sought tormented to stand up for himself, or just because he wanted a chance to strike another blow, Izuku didn’t know.

Responding for him, Bakugou laughed,

“He can say anything, he so lame even as a third year, he still can’t face reality.”

“Oh, wait, you know what?” his voice his pitch to be as mocking as it possibly could.

At this point, Katsuki likely wasn’t thinking of the ramifications of what he was actually about to say nor on the potentially catastrophic impact it could have, nevertheless he delivered his final, most lethal barb.

“You wanna be a hero so bad? I’ve got a time saving idea for you. Why don’t you go take a swan dive off the roof! If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll have a quirk in the next life!” he sneered.

Izuku was shocked, his chest went cold and something inside his heart broke, he whipped his head around to glare at the blond, tears spilling from his eyes.

“Yeah?  What?” his so-called friend responded, with the glare far more vicious.

Izuku couldn’t say anything, he just stood there in the middle room, shaking, tears running down his face as his classmates just left him there.

After the person he had long – and certainly at this point he knew, undeservedly – called his best friend, just told him to commit suicide.

It was fleeting, just a moment, a few seconds, no more than that he promises himself and the universe, that he entertains the idea.

He doesn’t allow himself to think or dwell on revelation that the very fact he considered it, no matter for however briefly, likely meant that something somewhere within him was very broken.

He slunk down the stairs and outside, the schoolyard was completely abandoned, all the other children having long since dashed home to start their summer vacation. He found the remains of his notebook, burned and scorched, floating the cistern below the window.

He worked to fish the notebook out, gritting his teeth and mentally berated Bakugou, for his callous and unthinking cruelty. Really what had Kacchan been thinking?

“Idiot! if I actually done it, do you really think you would have gotten into U.A. after that? There would have been an investigation, our classmates are scared of you Kacchan, but they’d be more scared of the police, they would’ve told, and you…  Any chance of a career as a hero would have been over for you, at very least.”

He looked down at his scarred and soaked notes, thoughts turning to when he was first told that his hopes and dreams would remain just that.

___

 

Izuku Midoriya was born on July 15th, 2261 CE.

From the moment he could see and hear, probably before he could truly ever understand them, Izuku loved heroes. It was true that over the centuries since the first quirks, they had become the world’s preeminent celebrities; and of course, like most little children, Izuku loved them for their flashy costumes, powerful quirks, and their loud declarations of justice against those who would use their quirks for evil.

But as he grew older he also came to love them for what they stood for, they were pillars of justice and security, symbols of peace, they are what everyone – save for those who would call themselves villains – aspired to be, young Izuku included.

Perhaps it was no surprise then, that he thought the sun rose and set on All-Might, Japan’s greatest, strongest, most passionate, and radiant hero.

To Izuku, All-Might embodied everything that a hero should be: just and fearless, strong and determined, powerful, undefeated and most of all kind.

All-Might may have been a media sensation, but it wasn’t because of his power but because of the strength of his dedication to the people. One could see it every one of the videos that Izuku watched, for All-Might, every single person he protected, every person he threw himself in front of was important, he sweated and strained, bruised and bled so they would not have to, he was more than just a hero, he was a protector to every single one of them.

Izuku wanted to be, no, would be a hero, one just like All-Might, he just knew it.

And then he turned four and life was never again easy for Izuku Midoriya.

Over two centuries had passed since the first person was born with a quirk, and since that time the number of people born with powers has increased exponentially; likewise, the number of people who ended up powerless decreased to the point it was nearing zero.

By the time Izuku was born, generations had come and gone and his chances of not developing a quirk were roughly 1 in 10,000; sadly, it seemingly was only here, where Izuku defied the odds.

The Doctor was blunt, “No hope for him,” he said, the diagnosis he gave Izuku at four and a half fell with the impact of a meteor,

Quirkless.                           

His mother had sobbed and apologized, cried over and over about how terrible a parent she was and that if she was a better mother then perhaps Izuku wouldn’t have been condemned to such a fate.

In the end though, his mother didn’t say the one thing that Izuku really needed, “Yes you can still be a hero!”

He understood on the surface, that it was the end of his young dreams at the very least.

As such should be no surprise that those videos of All-Might, his fights, his heroics, his kindness, his smile and his mannerisms were possibly the only thing at the time that kept Izuku’s broken little heart from completely crumbling to nothingness in the wake of his diagnosis.

The videos were a sort of balm, an escape, they helped the hurt in his small heart. His mother, once she had gotten a handle on the diagnosis herself, promised him that eventually the sadness and pain would go away, that the worst would be over.

He believed her.

They both were wrong.

Young and kind that he was he was ill prepared for the, speed, viciousness and vehemence at which his childhood friends turned up on him.

His best friend, Katsuki Bakugou, had developed a quirk that let him to generate nitroglycerin from the sweat his hands. When the truth got out, it wasn’t long before he turned that explosive power against his erstwhile and defenseless “friend”.

Izuku never understood and what has made Kacchan suddenly turn on him – he had no reason to bully anyone Izuku thought – the boy always looked to have more self-esteem than he knew what to do with, he was a strong passionate leader among their little group and the other kids always followed him - Izuku included – his brilliant and seemingly infinite confidence was shiny beacon to his peers.

Unfortunately for Izuku, that confidence combined with the incredible power and amazing potential of his quirk, quickly mutated into arrogance, disdain and finally cruelty.

Whatever the reason the other kids followed him like they always had, spending their day and play tormenting Izuku as well as any other unfortunate kid they deemed weak. Many burns, scrapes and bruises Izuku acquired were from defending others from Katsuki’s constant and often unpredictable temper.

Back then he had always simply brushed it off and continued to call them friends. 

As he came out of his musings, on the path to the pedestrian tunnel that would lead him home, he came back to the startling and sickening epiphany he had when Bakugou suggested he kill himself.

Katsuki Bakugou was never his friend, he may have acted like it when they were still pre-quirkers, but the fact that Bakugou proceeded to turn on him like a rabid dog the moment he got his quirk and Izuku didn’t, proved that the other boy felt nothing for his “friend” then, and his actions today proved he felt nothing now.

Now Izuku wonders if the explosive teen can feel anything at all, besides rage and arrogance.

Ultimately, though he concludes that he himself bears some responsibility for his own torment, if only because he was almost pathologically averse to acknowledging it as such. 

With hindsight, his blind to near irrational refusal to see the reality of his situation and correct it by avoiding Bakugou and informing adults who could actually do something resulted in over ten years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of a heartless egotistical bastard. Of course, most to blame was said bastard himself, followed by the adults – such as his later teachers – who enabled him by doing nothing to curb his sadistic and cruel behavior, nor stop the other children who egged him on.

In the end it was a clash of two different personalities, Izuku had too much compassion, was too forgiving, and had an unfortunate desire to try to care about everyone around him. Bakugou on the other hand, had no compassion, preemptively attacked and “punished” others for things that had yet to happen and loved no one but himself.

Entering the darkness of the tunnel, paradoxically, it was now so very clear, with his mind and emotions free of that Stockholm haze, how their “relationship” existed and how it would end up if he allowed it to continue.

Bakugou would continue his cruelty, ripping Izuku’s heart and body to shreds, and Izuku would keep on forgiving him over and over until finally he didn’t have anything left in him. It was like a Star and a Black Hole, the Black Hole would rip and pull on the Star, devouring its gas and plasma, it would take and take and take, until the Star was either completely consumed or left as nothing but a dying, burned out cinder.

That was not going to happen to him!

He refused to be plaything of someone who despite have a phenomenal quirk, athletic body, and mind as sharp as his tongue, had to torture someone completely unthreatening and defenseless in order to appease his unfathomable ego.

‘Long ago I decided to not care about what others say to always keep my head held high and my feet moving forward, from this point on I will add to that’

“Never, never again will I allow another person to use and abuse me for their own selfish desires!” he loudly declared, his voice echoing off the tunnel’s walls.

Unfortunately, Izuku quite quickly found his new confidence and righteous conviction fleeing in fear as a wet almost gurgling chuckle answered his words.

“Are you so sure about that kid?” the slimy, wet voice asked, amid a disturbing gurgling and squelching sound.

“A medium sized body to hide in, how lucky for me!”

Izuku wasn’t even fully able to turn around before he was completely engulfed, by what seemed to be a sentient mass of slime.

His mind filled the rest of the gaps ‘a villain?!’

In less than a few seconds the moss haired teen was almost completely wrapped in the viscous goop that made up the villain’s body.

The man – Izuku was fairly sure he was male because of the voice, although with mutation quirks this severe one could never be completely sure – chuckled and gurgled, talking all the while as smothered the teen.

“I’m saved, you’re a real hero,” the blob mocked,

“I never thought He’d show up in this town! Don’t worry kid! I’m just hijacking your body, calm down!”,

“It’ll only hurt for about 45 seconds…  Then it’ll be all over.” The creature, it was more monster than man, said almost cheerfully, as if murdering another human and wearing their body as a suit was par for the course of a Friday afternoon.

Completely and utterly terrified at this point, Izuku frantically tried to pull the monster’s slippery mass away from his face, to no avail.

“Sorry kid, no point in trying that. I’m a fluid, I can slip through even the smallest of cracks and openings.”

Izuku couldn’t breathe, he was suffocating.

“You know? I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you better and all kid, you know since I’m going to be wearing your body; well at least I will be for the next week or so until it rots, but by that time I’ll be home free so thanks again Kid!” The slime villain let out a laugh that sounded more like a wet series of hacking coughs as he began to completely smother the boy and force his way into his body.

Izuku’s mouth and nose were completely covered, slime was forcing its way in. His body was beginning to weaken, his vision was starting to dim. His frantic thoughts consisted of disjointed calls for help in the terror of what he was certain was his impending death, as well as the briefest acknowledgment of some small tiny dark sliver of his being that seemingly didn’t care.

Fortunately for the young teen, his departure from the mortal coil was halted in a relatively spectacular an unexpected manner.

With an impressive bang the manhole cover with in the tunnel was blown aside, and a large hulking figure burst forth, his resonant voice bellowing out.

“Fear not kid, I am here!”

Before Izuku’s stunned and disbelieving eyes appeared All-Might himself, who pulled back his right hand…

“Texas…”

Izuku’s thoughts quickly went from disbelieving elation to somewhere more along the lines of ‘Oh Shit’. In the brief moment before impact, the teen acknowledged that blob currently trying to turn him into a corpse suit probably was having similar thoughts. 

“…Smash!!”

The impact was something like Izuku had never experienced before, it was deafening and, in more ways, than just sound, it was like if you took the words blinding and deafening and applied them to all of your senses and all of your body.

And mind you Izuku thought, he wasn’t actually struck by the punch, merely caught in its wake. The skin of his face briefly rippled in the direction of the impact, similar to the experience of an astronaut riding in a G force test machine.

He had seen it on TV and in internet videos, but to see All-Might’s power up close, truly demonstrated how utterly staggering it really was.

Dizzy and still oxygen starved, Izuku blacked out.

___

Toshinori gave his quarry a moments glance, judging the unconscious looking puddle down for the count, before turning around to look for the boy.

Seeing the youth lying on the ground his heart skipped a beat until he saw that the kid was breathing, letting go a small sigh of relief

‘Still I should probably check on him,’

This had been a disaster, chasing the criminal through the sewers had wasted more energy, forfeiting 3 more hours precious time onto his days of sleepless nights and exhaustion.

Then he nearly arrived too late, the boy had almost been suffocated and worn as a disguise by the disgusting villain, who proceeded to attempt to use the boy as a shield.

‘So dishonorable’, he grimaced.

‘I barely had time to change the angle on that punch, if I hadn’t noticed or noticed too late, then the boy would have…’

He shuddered.

Kneeling by the young man, he gently tried to shake him awake, praying that the villain’s attack hadn’t done any lasting damage.

___

 Izuku retuned to consciousness after a few moments to All-Might’s gentle and worried prodding.

“Thank goodness!” the Number One exclaimed.

“My apologies, young man, getting a young civilian such as yourself caught up in a villain chase was very unprofessional on my part, I hope you’ll forgive me!” The man extended his hand to the dazed teen lying on the ground.

Izuku’s brain was malfunctioning, it had already been deprived of oxygen and now he was face to face with the greatest hero in the entire world; his idol was actually offering him his hand to help him up!

This was amazing!

It took quite literally every working neuron he had, but he shakily extended his arm and grasped All-Might’s hand, trusting the hero to help him to his feet.

He was about to use what little brain power he had left to thank the No. 1 hero for saving his life when things went decidedly pear-shaped.

In Izuku’s mind, theoretically that single shot should’ve been the end of it and Izuku briefly considered allowing himself to fall into a fanboy coma of stammered thankyous and apologies, before a wet, wheezing and hacking laugh alerted him to the fact that he was not quite yet, out of danger.

___

“Well I’ll be! You actually tracked me down All-Might, and right just as I was about to have a perfect disguise too.” The sentient mass of muck taunted.

The Number One hero himself was slightly stunned, even with how much he had to pull that punch, it should have been more than enough to down the average criminal.

Seeing the confusion on the great hero’s face the villain laughed, a horrible hacking sound.

“I’m a liquid All-Might, 98% water, I don’t compress or have any hollow internal cavities, besides my eyes I don’t even have any internal organs to concuss or rupture, and there are no bones for you to break. I’m basically an enormous shock absorber!”

“And of course,” he gurgled.

“You had pull that punch at the last second when I moved the brat, otherwise you would have taken his pretty little head off and made a real mess!” he wheezed.

“That’s the difference, right there, had you been willing to follow through, I wouldn’t be standing.”

The Number One narrowed his eyes at the audacity of the fiend, he was as monstrous as he looked, Toshinori thought to himself as he watched the blob gather itself a dozen feet in front of him.

Turning his head briefly to the young man he had rescued, he fixed him with the calmest forceful stare he could muster and spoke.

“Kid, you need to get out of here, I have no doubt that this cur is no match for me, but I will likely have to use more of my power than I originally thought to bring him to justice.”

More likely that another few full power punches like that would finally drain him completely, until he could eat and get some actual rest, he’d be pretty much powerless. As long as the rapscallion went down, it wouldn’t really matter, but he couldn’t have someone, even someone as dedicated to All-Might and heroes as the could sense the boy behind him was; discover his secret weakness. No, the young man could not be allowed to see him transform, the knowledge would put him in danger.

“This area will become quite dangerous, you should move to a safer distance.”

Toshinori reached into the remaining reserves of his power taking hold of the last bit of strength he has to pummel the ruffian into unconsciousness, so he could put the depraved body snatcher behind bars where he belonged.

___

As soon as he heard All-Might’s voice the second time, Izuku snapped out of his stupor and locked eyes with his idol. All might’s face was stony and serious, but his voice was warm but firm.

He needed Izuku to retreat from the battle area, so he could use more dangerous techniques; Izuku could do that.

Parts of his mind screamed at him, abandoning a chance to see All-Might in action, live and close up; still he obeyed the command and continued his backpedal into the tunnel, eyes never shifting from All-Might or the Villain who just moments before had tried to murder him.

He backed away until suddenly his right foot went out from under him, he was falling, and it seemed to take ages before his backpack and then his head hit the ground.

Everything then happened all at once and yet very slowly.

There was a deafening, pulsing pain and ringing in his ears, blackness around the edges of his vision.

Then a gurgling cry of triumph and a loud “NO!” before a yellowish blur covered his dimed field of vision, then was then a rushing, slithering sound and the blur was quickly swept away.

Then an almighty bang that echoed through out the tunnel accompanied by the sounds of spalling stone, a deep, pained grunt, and a later a groan followed them. Then Izuku again became unknowing of the world.

____

‘Thank god the boy complied’, the Number One thought, catching the kid backing away into the tunnel in the corner of his eye as he turned to face the smirking mass of sludge.

He bent his legs to ready a dash and began to cock his arm for another and final – he would make sure of it – blow when the clinking of glass and a yelp reached his ears.

In the farthest fields of his vision, head turning to the noise, things happened quickly, in the back of one eye he saw the boy go down, his foot slipping a on a carelessly discarded bottle, head and back striking the ground in a daze. From the other Toshinori saw the villain pounce, springing forth like a muddy spear intent on impaling the teen.

He moved without thinking, throwing himself in front of the young man as a hero must. The impact was tremendous, he had taken much greater hits before of course, but to his utterly exhausted body that was of little solace, he was swept up thrown against the side of the tunnel with a great crash, he could feel the concrete breaking, shattering, under the force of the impact, shards digging painfully into his back, as his headache went supernova.

He just managed to glimpse the villain’s form as he dove back into the sewers before his and body mind surrendered to the pain and exhaustion.

___

Toshinori Yagi, All-Might, startled awake with a groan, he felt as if he had been runover and his head was pounding something fierce, his body ached and beneath that was a predictable, telling soreness.

He didn’t even need to look at himself to know that steam was rising from his body, that he had seconds before he transformed into his weaker, “civilian” form. Shaking the cobwebs from his head and mindful of the potential that he could be injured, he gingerly began to pull himself from the indent in the wall his body had created on impact.

As he did so, the movement dislodged broken shards of concrete, the fractured scree tumbling to the ground with a predictable clatter.

He had almost make his way clear of the rubble, when the sounds of crashing loose cement, elicited a groan further up towards the tunnel’s opening.

All-Might turned, and saw dazed emerald eyes glance up at him, fogged by a haze of pain. It was at the exact moment, when those green orbs locked with his own glowing blue, and started to glimmer in recognition, that his body finally gave out.

With a loud pop and a hissing rush of steam, All-Might turned back into regular old Toshinori Yagi.

___

Unlike last time, Izuku didn’t come awake all at once. His awareness came in stages. First was the uncomfortable feeling of pressure and fuzziness, like his being was swaddled in crushing cotton wraps. Then the notion and the feeling of being in physical space came back, his back from his heels to his head was lying on something cold and hard. Next came the global feeling of soreness, the feeling a few days after having gone three rounds protecting some defenseless kid from Kacchan’s temper, the other pains then arrived, the headache the worst, rising the most over the background chatter of bruises, scrapes, aches and the general wash of unpleasant pangs. Sound and vision came last and together, the rattling tumble of falling rocks snapping his vison back online, the gray, obviously concrete celling offering no greeting.

A particularly loud crash of stone jumpstarted his actual thinking and though still filled with fuzzy gaps enough of his neurons were firing that he could recollect that he was potentially in danger, though the actual reasons and reasoning why currently eluded him.

Groaning he tried to get up only for his body to refuse to fully comply. Emotions – and thus fear and panic – had yet to be restored and allowed for a dispassionate, clinical assessment. It seemed that more complex motor functions especially for the lower body were still offline – he could feel and wiggle his toes, so paralysis was unlikely – so he would have to improvise. Turning his arms and torso he partially flipped himself on his stomach, ignoring the slight twinges of pain in favor for using his new-found vantage to gaze in the direction of the sounds.

A large blond man in a very stretched, partially torn yellow T-shirt and ripped beige slacks was in front him, curiously, vast amounts of what looked like steam was wafting off his body. Their eyes connected, Izuku’s green to the man’s near glowing blue.

The fog began to clear from Izuku’s mind…It was All-M…

There was a loud hissing pop and a flash of steam that quickly dissipated. Where All-Might had once stood was another, different man, tall but shorter by at least a foot, muscular but not insanely so, blond but messy, all together he was only about a third the size of All-Might but had nearly the same eyes only they seemed not to glow.

With a start Izuku’s brain returned back to active duty. Examining every fact available to it, and, finding a contradiction in the fabric of reality, it promptly crashed. In the words of many three century old memes; Izuku.exe had stopped responding.

“WHHHHHHHHHAAAA…

___

…AAAAAAAATTT?!!?”

Toshinori winched, at the both the volume and the circumstance. It was over, the boy had seen him transform, he had been found out, and not by some nefarious villain or associate of the Arch-Fiend responsible, but by a civilian, a child no less!

‘This is an absolute disaster’ he thought grimacing to himself. He couldn’t just run away; the youth had seen everything, plus the child had been attacked and Toshinori was uncertain of his injuries. He was going to have to explain and hope the boy was trustworthy enough to keep his secret. And that no-one ever suspected the boy somehow knew a potential weakness of Japan’s Number One Hero.

A secret people would torture and kill for.

As the boy’s outburst died down and he seem to gain some manner of control over himself, Toshinori walked forward.

The boy scuttled back at the motion and came to rest in a sitting position against the left. Noting his anxiety Toshinori held up his hands.

“Who…Who are you?” The boy’s voice cracked.

“Wha… What happened to All-Might?!” His eyes were comically wide.

Clearing his throat, Toshinori thought of where to start.

“My name is Toshinori Yagi, you know me better as All-Might.” He replied, his voice softer and rougher from the stress of the day.

‘Perhaps not the best way to start’ he thought looking at the disbelieving reaction, but it at least dispensed with the niceties and cleared the air at the heart of the situation.

“That’s…That’s Impossib…” The boy stuttered before the man interrupted him.

“It’s not impossible, it’s common knowledge that if the body gets damaged severely enough, it will never be the same, never as strong, the quirk itself is just the same, if the quirk or the parts of the body involved in generating or maintaining it are damaged then the result is something like this.” He commented, gesturing at himself, as he walked toward the kid.

“But…How…Your… Quirk was damaged?”

Toshinori was about to respond when the boy’s hand went to his chin and then…

“How?... I knew that injuries could prevent… cause problems with utilization… but the quirk itself? … a quirk is a nebulous intangible object… a name given to a series of adaptive functions…the resulting singular categorical phenomena is the quirk…which beyond the limitation of one to every person and average age of emergence have no commonality… their striking differences… to do damage to it…that would mean…are quirks more than just extended applications of existing functions?!... that would imply that a quirk is…a…physical object!? … not just a phenomenon resulting from united biological processes…it would be… a physical entity to its own! … conceived as separate from its creating process…like an organ system… no like the nervous system and or … or the brain … the brain and consciousness itself! …but that…”

All-Might looked at the youth like one might a sudden gift from Aizawa, surprised, shock and with more than a little trepidation.

‘What on earth is this?’ he thought, his eyes widening.

The chorus of mutterings was expanding in volume and pace; deductions, connections and leaps of logic and intuition flying past like swarms of verbal locusts. It was disturbing and more importantly irritating.

“YOUNG MAN! STOP!” he raised his voice, perhaps too much, causing the green haired youth to jump.

Toshinori sighed as he slid down the wall opposite the boy, coming to rest in a sitting position mirroring the youth’s own.

“I will tell you, but you must never speak of it to anyone else, no posting it on forums or telling your friends.” He said much more reservedly, continuing when the kid vigorously nodded his ascent to his terms.

“Five years ago, I was involved in a pretty nasty fight with a villain,” gesturing to himself, “This was the result of that battle, If I overburden myself and use too much power, fight for too long or simply run myself into exhaustion, the stress on my body becomes so great that my quirk basically shorts out for a while. Normally it’s not a problem, I can fulfill my duties just fine, but lately I’ve been involved in series of widely spread connected crimes, between that case and my normal duties I haven’t had any time to rest in many days, this is the result of such overwork.” He continued, glancing down at the bright intelligent eyes studying him.

“Five years ago? That wouldn’t be the Venomous Chainsaw fight? Did he do this?” The boy quired in disbelief.

For the second time in as many minutes Toshinori was surprised. He had suspected from the boy’s mannerisms that he was a hero fan, and potently astute, but he would have never thought him this intelligent or knowledgeable from first glance.

“You really know your stuff,” he sighed, “No, that guy was tough, but I’m a lot tougher, someone like him? Couldn’t even scratch me.”

“No, this fight,” his voice turned darker, heavier, the boy’s eyes narrowing, face shifting to a frown in response.

“No one, or nearly no one knows about it, it would be too dangerous for it to go public, I worked to keep it off the news and, made sure it remained a secret. The one who did this, was as strong or even stronger than I am. We nearly destroyed each other in that fight.”

“Stronger than you…How is that…?” Izuku began only for his thoughts to jump to an even more terrifying notion.

“Is he still…!?”

“No…” Toshinori smoothly lied, “It was truly a fight to the death that one,” He grimly continued, “Though neither of us beat the other, I was certainly the victor in that fight, he was far, far more heavily injured than I when he made his escape; he almost certainly perished from his wounds, and even if he did not he would be completely crippled, unable to menace even a mosquito.” It was a falsehood, almost galling in it’s scope, but this child had no need to know that All for One was still very much alive and still very much a threat.

The look of awe and praise on the boy’s face made the lie he had just told only hurt worse.

___

Izuku was completely astounded to learn of a Villain that by All-Might’s own admission may have been stronger then he was. Even more amazing, All-Might still had beaten him! He admittedly endured some bad injuries, but ones that really didn’t even impact him except under very unlikely conditions. He had protected the world, from someone so terrifying, and forsook all fame and glory of that win, just to protect the people.

All-Might was just the COOLEST!

He jumped up, pain forgotten, feeling suddenly light. Izuku knew that there were stars in his eyes, that he was completely unconstrained in his adoration right now, but he didn’t care, the Number One Hero was right in front of him, his hero, his idol, the person he most wanted to be like in the entire world, had shared with him a secret that almost no-one knew, had thought that he would not let him down, so much so, that he had trusted him with something so great and important.

Then…

‘If All-Might thought enough of me to tell me all that…maybe… maybe I should ask him what he thinks, maybe he can give me pointers!’ the teen thought, his sprits soring, ‘if anyone knows what it takes to be a hero it’s All-Might!’

Turning around and looking up at the now standing Number One, Izuku gathered his nerves and took the plunge.

“All-Might…” he began shyly

___

Toshinori stood up dusting off his ruined slacks and then looked at the boy. His energy, the sparkle in his eyes had not diminished even a bit, if anything it was growing in it’s intensity with every passing second.

He knew people put him up on a pedestal, something that he understood and even encouraged to a degree – no matter how much he might privately dislike it – the Symbol of Peace had to be paraded for all to see for it to be effective. Putting up with and allowing undeserved adoration, was part of Job of keeping the peace. Even still…the boy was practically floating on air, bouncing on his red shoes with excitement.

‘This is slightly disconcerting, this kid’s not putting me on a pedestal, more like a shrine!’ he felt his cheeks heat slightly in embarrassment, he looked away to avoid that earnest gaze; 35 years of Pro-work and he still hadn’t fully gotten used to this.

He knew the kid was a hero buff, but it looks like Toshinori might have actually run into his greatest fan.

“All-Might?” the voice was soft, shy…just how young was this kid?

He looked back down, the kid’s head was tilted his curly green locks hiding his eyes. He was dragging the toe of his right shoe along the concrete, the sole leaving faint circle marks on the pavement.

‘Oh, God…’ Toshinori’s eyes widened, this kid was nothing short of adorable, he was going to ask for his autograph and even though he shouldn’t, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to refuse.

“Can I ask you something?” he looked up.

Fixed with fawn like eyes, Toshinori gave in to the inevitable.

“Sure kid, I’m going to need some paper and a pen, what is your name my boy?” he responded only to see the boy start.

“No…I mean, yes…No…Er…,” the youth stammered, “I mean, I would love your autograph, but that’s not what I wanted to ask you. And my name, it’s Izuku Midoriya.” He got out.

Toshinori was now at a complete loss.

“What does it take to be a hero?” The boy began.

“Ever since I was little, that’s all I ever wanted…to be a hero, to help people, to be out there and protect the world from those who would do harm.”

Toshinori’s eyebrows again raised; it wasn’t exactly a rare question, but it wasn’t a frequent one and was for sure not what he was at all expecting from the boy in front of him.

“I’ve researched: heroes, villains, quirks, tactics, maneuvers and gear since I was little, writing down everything I came across, all trying to prepare for this goal, this dream. I’ve applied to take the U.A. entrance exam in two months, and I’ve been doing everything I can… but…I’m worried I won’t make it.”

The boy was old enough to start High School?

‘There’s no way I would have guessed he was around fourteen, twelve maybe, but fourteen…’ Toshinori mused

He could see why young Midoriya was concerned, he was small for his age, and physical training could only do so much, especially with such limited time.

“So, what do you do when people tell you your dream is a fantasy…”

‘A fantasy? What does he mean by… why would?’ The hero wondered, smile narrowing into something more neutral.

“I can understand your concern, my boy, but with the proper training and exercise of your quirk…” the Number One trailed off, caught in thought, what was the child’s quirk anyway?

He didn’t seem to try to use it to escape the villain’s attack, though he could have been taken by surprise or it could be something passive or mental, maybe some sort of analysis quirk? It would certainly fit the bill given how sharp he was. It would also explain his worry and the statements of those around him.

Unfortunate and unfair that it was, the Hero Community, both in Japan and Globally, had significant overrepresentation in physical and offensive quirks. Passive quirks, especially defensive and supporting type quirks, like those of Eraserhead, Mandalay, Sir Nighteye, and Ragdoll were rare among big name heroes, often being relegated to associates in smaller agencies or serving as side kicks to junior partners and associates in larger firms.

Shouta was sort of an exception and, “got away with it” in the sense that his quirk basically tilted the field in his favor, removing the powers his opponents likely always relied on to fight and exposing them to his brutal hand to hand and acerbic wit.

Other exceptions to that bias were potent “status” quirks like Midnight’s and of course healing quirks like Chiyo’s, were extraordinarily coveted and equally as rare – indeed of all the major classifications only the bizarre and often dangerously potent and difficult Space-Time quirks were more uncommon.

IF the boy did have a simple support quirk, people might have tried to dissuade him figuring that he either would be disheartened by the result of toiling as a thankless lacky or simply not pass any major academy entrance exam, all of which were heavily geared towards offensive powers.

Unfortunately for Toshinori, that wasn’t the case.

“See…um that’s sort of the … that’s the problem, I don’t have one…I’m quirkless. So…can someone like me, someone quirkless become a hero?” The boy stammered out, looking up with the brightest most painfully hopeful gaze and then swiftly looking to the side at the ground, clearly embarrassed.

Quirkless. The boy was Quirkless.

Toshinori’s eyes widened in shock and dismay, his heart fell into his stomach and both then plummeted.

‘Quirkless, at his age? The odds would be astronomical, most of the quirkless were over 50, the number under 35 was probably less than 5% of the total. With Japan’s birth rate as it was, barely breaking even; even fourteen to fifteen years ago, only a handful, 4 or 5, quirkless children would be born a year. To grow up quirkless in this day and age, to be quirkless and still so adamantly want to be a hero so long after the diagnosis. No wonder everyone is so concerned.’

This, this changed everything.

‘Sensei help me, what…what am I supposed to do here?’ He called into the ether, not surprised when there was no response from his mentor, the previous holder of the power he now commanded.

Toshinori’s mind was racing, he had to answer… but what could he say? His heart hurt.

His mind was torn in so many directions it was dizzying.

Between…

What he wanted to say.

What he would have wanted someone to have said to him 48 years ago.

What he knew the boy wanted him to say. And what he knew he could not.

What he should say.

What he needed to say.

There were many parts of the Job of a Pro-Hero that Toshinori hated, things that stuck with him, chased him in his nightmares. Nana Shimura’s, his sensei’s death at the hand of All for One was a big one. The loss of a close mutual friend of his, Yamada’s and Aizawa’s long ago was another, a third, not noticing that his and Enji’s rivalry had – at least on the side of the other man – turned into anger and bitter resentment until it was far too late.

The villains that got away, the people he couldn’t save. Some cases were horrendous, serial murders and rapists, act of mass murder that left areas devastated and strewn with bodies, kidnappings and acts of torture. Natural disasters senseless and blameless, that rent the earth asunder and left hundreds dead, thousands injured and millions in mourning.

But the worst were the notifications, having to tell families, that their loved ones were not coming home, that they had made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Sometimes the families were fellow heroes, people he knew, it was heart wrenching how they broke, sometimes sobbing, sometimes nothing, sometimes anger and everything in between.

But this, this of all the things, would probably be the worst thing Toshinori had even done, had ever had to do. What he was about to do would surely haunt him for the rest of his life, weigh on his soul in ways nothing, not even his mentor’s death had.

Nana Shimura was at peace, knowing that gave Toshinori some comfort.

But this, from this there would be no respite, afterwards there would still be a life left to live, a life after the dream had died and reality had set in; he was about to shatter a young man’s dreams, destroy his hopes and goals in the name of his safety and the safety of others.

As a hero the young Midoriya would be in danger. No, cruel as it was, without a quirk, without power, he’d be a danger himself, a liability.

It was going to be the cruelest thing Toshinori had ever done but allowing the boy to continue to hold false hope would be even crueler. This would leave behind a deep wound, it would heal in time – though it would certainly scar – and the child would be better for it and think better for it.

Clinching his hands for strength, Toshinori prepared to speak.

Years from now young Midoriya would look back on this with only a little pain and realize that he had always had other better option; corporate, economics, teaching, sciences even medicine or law.

Yes, the future Izuku Midoriya with that incredible intellect and sharp eyes would look back no matter the course he took eventually realizes that he had only need to prune the one unclimbable tree in front him to see the entire forest just beyond. He would realize that everyone around him had had his best interests at heart, that they didn’t want him to chase un-reachable dreams but the goals that he could meet.

But that was the future, years, decades away.

What solace could he offer the boy in the here and now?

He could suggest the police force, with his eyes and intelligence, quirk or no he would make a great detective. It was close to heroics and he would be able to work with heroes closely.

And of course, by the time he graduated from a normal secondary school and was old enough to enter the academy his heroic aspirations may well have vanished, and he would be free to pursue new interests, ones that were achievable, ones where he could do great things.

He started to address the boy, his voice firm but not unkind.

___

Izuku watched as almost a thousand emotions and feelings seem to flicker over his idol’s face, his anxiety suddenly rising as the man’s look became more and more grave, his smile disappearing into a thin line.

All-Might spoke, his voice was, solemn, contrite.

“My boy… I’m afraid that’s impossible, without a way to defend yourself, without a way to aid your allies…”,

“Without power, can one become a hero? No, I should think not." He finished somberly.

“You could…”

Izuku didn’t hear the rest of the words. They flowed past utterly meaningless as he stared at his hero.

“Oh…” he uttered, blank, unfeeling, his body awash in an icy cold chill, his eyes unseeing finally catching All-Might’s.

Izuku’s entire world had just ended. His spark went out.

___

After delivering the first and hardest blow, Toshinori quickly segued into the police force and other ventures only to be cut off by a single word, the sound almost foreign even if the word was familiar.

“Oh…”

His eyes snapped to the boy’s and it was then that Toshinori realized that he had drastically miss-calculated, that something was utterly and terribly wrong, that this was a situation far beyond the already difficult issue of “simple” quirklessness. He had expected, tears, anger, yelling and all sorts of denial, expected a long-fought battle over an hour or more… he hadn’t expected, could never have even dreamed this…

He could hardly breath, frozen in horror as he watched as the light in young Midoriya’s eyes died. Those emerald orbs, once sparkling and bright, dimed before his very eyes, the life leaving them.

In a snap instant the boy bowed deeply before him, his green curls fluttering at the sudden motion.

He began to speak, and never had Toshinori heard something so lifeless, humanly robotic, devoid of all energy, emotion, and feeling.

“Thank you for being honest. I guess, I guess that makes sense. Only power can fight power, only quirks can fight quirks. For a long time, I…I had been told the same by others, I stupidly fought against that, thinking that I could make something of myself, that I could be a hero, be anything really. But if you, the Number One, believe as they do then there’s no use fight anymore is there?

Which each unfeeling word Toshinori’s anxiety rose. He was surer than ever now that something else was tangled in this mess.

“I was so stupid, all this time, they were right, they were all right. I really am a Deku, aren’t I, useless, worthless, pointless, spineless, quirkless. Then…Then if they were right then was Kacchan also right?”

Each word was a shocking stab to the Number One’s heart, as he watched the teen unravel before him, and realized the truth of just how he was mistaken. How he misunderstood the boy’s words and stepped on a landmine.

‘This, child, this boy has been victimized, bullied, probably relentlessly, probably for most of his life, likely by everyone around him, including adults. They weren’t worried, they were attacking him…’

“I apologize for taking so much of your time sir, thank you for your advice and kind words.” Izuku continued, and then resumed standing, hitching his backpack tighter in the process.

The sudden paleness of his skin and the dullness in his eyes were unnerving.

Giving a last nod to the hero, the boy turned and began to jog towards the entrance, while Toshinori, dumbfounded remained froze to the spot.

At the very edge of the tunnel the boy briefly slowed and looked back over his shoulder, his skin now looked grayish in the light of the sun, his hair darker. His mouth turned up into a small soft smile, maybe in years gone by it was genuine, but now at it’s edges it held a hint of malice.

“Thank you for saving me All-Might!” the boy called back.

It was then, that the realization overcame him. The Number One’s blood ran cold. Those words, unlike the ones before had affect, emotion. It was by far the most disingenuous expression of gratitude Toshinori had ever heard. The boy was not happy, not thankful that his life had be saved, no, on the contrary, he was angry, very much so that All-Might had saved him.

The boy, young Midoriya, wanted to die…

That was enough to shock him to action.

The teen had only gone a few feet from the entrance, all of this tumult, which had felt like years, had actually passed in a but a minute or two.

“Young Man! Wait!” the hero called out, only for the boy to suddenly dash away. Toshinori made to follow him. He might be currently powerless, but this body was that of a physically fit adult, there was no way the boy could out run him.

All-Might took two steps before his left leg collapsed under him, bringing him swiftly to his knees. His hands were scraped on the floor as he caught his fall. Catching his breath, he watched as the young man vanished into the distance.

“Shit!”

His lower left leg was throbbing. Giving on last futile glance to where the boy had gone, Toshinori turned   back to examine his leg, and was greeted by the sight of a small gash in his slacks. Feeling blinding across the back of his leg, his hand came to rest on a what he realized was modestly sized shard of concrete imbedded in his left calf.

“How on earth did I not feel that?” he wondered aloud.

Moving his hand around he gingerly probed the rock, it wasn’t bone at least deep, but it had definitely gone into the muscle, now he just had to pray it hadn’t hit an artery.

He grit his teeth as he griped the offending shard and with a sharp tug extricated it from his flesh, there was blood of course, the gash was deep, but it hadn’t kicked any major vessels, the flow was manageable.

He tore off the left sleeve of his ruined yellow shirt and used the cotton to tightly bind the wound. After a few seconds taken to haul himself to his feet. he said a silent prayer and fished his cell phone from his pocket, by some miracle, likely the hero-tech case it was bound in, the thing had survived without a scratch. Taking a deep breath for the pain, he hobbled towards the tunnel entrance, so he could get a signal. His leg hurt something awful, but the bandage would keep it from bleeding too much. It wasn’t perfect but would hold for thirty minutes, long enough for Tsukauchi to pick him up and drop him by U.A.

While he was at it, it would probably be best to have his friend put out a notice for Izuku Midoriya.

“Damn it!” he shouted, punching the outer wall of the tunnel, feeling the sting as the skin of his hand was scraped away.

He huffed at his outburst and sighed shaking his stinging right hand, ‘I better stop injuring myself or soon Chiyo is going to kill me herself just to get it over with.’ He thought morosely.

‘Still’ he thought, staring out at the path ahead, the boy long since having vanished.

‘How did I miss it? How did I miss something so obvious, something staring me in the face? Izuku Midoriya wasn’t a boy held back by untenable dreams of being a hero, he was a boy clinging to heroic dreams like a life ring in the middle of a typhoon. Something, a lot of somethings had over the years systematically destroyed and eaten away at that boy, until his dreams of being a hero were the only thing he had left, the only thing he had to live for. The only thing that had given him purpose, reason to live, to survive and weather the constant storms of his life.

“And I destroyed that, I carelessly and unthinkingly shattered it.” He spat in disgust.

He had… He didn’t know the boy, but he assumed his experience was similar to his own, some teasing perhaps, but mostly the lonely aimless searching for a purpose while blinded to other options; not clinging to the last thing he had, desperate to keep his head above the emotional tide.

At the time he was only thinking for the boy’s safety, but he wasn’t looking at that safety, nor at the boy himself from all angles, from the right angles. He assumed that the boy had support, that the young man had taken calls to be realistic about his goals as attacks on his dreams.

It never even crossed his mind those vague words he mentioned were truly attacks, that the child would have nothing left once those dreams were gone and that consequently, the greatest threat to the boy’s safety, would be young Midoriya himself.

He dialed the number; the phone began ringing.

The idea of such a consequence, coiled tightly in his stomach like a ravenous constrictor, squeezing him in time with his nervous heart.

He hoped that they still had some time, that perhaps something else might hold back the tide, if only just briefly, just long enough for them to intervene.

Though at the same time there were already parts of him that were preparing for the discovery of the boy’s body in the coming days or weeks.

If that eventuality came to pass, Toshinori didn’t know what he would do. He prayed he would never have to find out.

Every hero has disasters, debacles, mistakes, but this, in his own opinion this was by far one of Symbol of Peace’s worst screw ups. And … if the worst came to pass, it would become by far the biggest of all.

A click, and answer.

“Hello? Toshinori?”

“Naomasa…” His voice was thick with grief.

“Toshi…are you?”

“I fucked up.”

___

Musutafu City, Shopping District: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 4:34 PM

As he ran aimlessly through the streets towards the downtown, Izuku struggled to make sense of what had happened the last few hours.

How everything had come crashing down. How his world had ended. His desires for the future, his plans, his dreams. They were all gone, shattered in the hand of someone he had explicitly trusted, and who ultimately in his own way was likely only trying to protect him. 

He ran from the tunnel, ran from his former hero, ran and ran. He should have been out of breath, should have collapsed by now, but he just kept running, until his legs were numb, instead of burning, his chest was like ice despite the swelter of early summer.

He remembers reading something about a runner’s high, a euphoric pain numbing endorphin release that would occur after a certain point of strenuous aerobic exercise. Maybe that’s what this is, either that or the shock of realizing that he had truly nothing to live for.

Eventually as he reached downtown the run turns to a jog and finally a walk as his legs begin crying for mercy. As he passes through the active heart of the city Izuku watches the people on the streets, sees the signals of the start of Summer break, the children are eating ice cream with their parents, teens in tees and board shorts mill around the streets that serve as outdoor malls. The girls gossiping about the latest summer fashions, bags with new purchases in hand; the boys carousing near the arcade and burger shops.

Izuku ignores them and walks on past, they’re part of completely different worlds. He realizes that now, all of them are normal, they were blessed with quirks. They had friends that liked them, heroes who wouldn’t let them down, people who believed in them. They could do anything they wanted to, like become heroes or doctors, scientist or lawyers and any of the other things that required the power of a quirk in this day and age. He envied them, envied them so much, he didn’t hate them though, no hate was something that was difficult for Izuku to muster even in abject spontaneous fury. Perhaps he felt a little for Bakugou and the adults that belittled Izuku while allowing the bully to run wild. But no Izuku didn't hate them. It wasn't their fault that Izuku was defective, heck it wasn’t even his parent’s fault, though his father being pretty much non-existent didn’t help him in his son’s esteem. No, it was just something that happened.

‘And perhaps, just like any other faulty object, you should be removed from circulation’ whispered a particular bitter corner of his mind.’ He didn’t answer it, even if he found more of himself considering the idea than before.

Musutafu City, “Rust District”: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 5:27 PM

Time passed as Izuku walked further from the city’s center and deep into the disused “rust district” in the north west.

The area was born in the 22nd Century's Neo-tech manufacturing and industrial boom over a hundred years ago. Though the gleaming facilities once attended by workers and researchers were ghost of their former selves, the area and its structures had long since been abandoned and ravaged by time.

The demolition or revitalization of the area was always a local political topic, but in the end discussions always went nowhere, the money was simply better used elsewhere.

Though not exactly off limits, most people avoided the area due to pollution and general structural instability and the villains were kept out by frequent hero patrols, which made the district unsuitable for a criminal hub.

Izuku himself had never been here, his mother having earnestly forbidden it once he was old enough to roam. What little he knew of the place came from a handful of articles and a few blurbs in a history book, in the end it wasn't much to look at, block after block of abandoned labs, factories, plants and warehouses covered in decades worth of grime and rust.

As he walked through desolate "wasteland", Izuku thought the place was less scary or eerie and more just, sad. This place was the ruins of the once bright post upheaval era, when civilization had stabilized and science and industry were just beginning to figure out the amazing ways in which quirks could be harnessed to do the previously unimagined. Once, vast industrial and laboratory parks like this across the world were the nexes of what was assured to be an exciting and bright future.

It didn't last though, continued social unrest, the explosion of supercrime, and rise of the Age of Heroes, brought the era to an end almost a soon as it began. Only decades after they were built, these shining districts were abandoned, victims of old world thinking in face the new one. Industry's Maginot Line. Now all that was left were these faded and decayed remnants, skeletons of a forgotten dream.

The parallels to himself were almost painful, Izuku would have laughed if he wasn't worried he might throw up.

___

“Rust District”: 6:49 PM

By the time the shadows had grown long as the sun dipped; casting the corroded metal world in vermilion, Izuku had long since having lost any sense of direction or care for it for that matter.

Overall, he’s still surprisingly logically and controlled right now, he would have expected that he would have end up in hysterics when the person he most revered in the world stomped on his dreams and heart.

He suspected it was something to do with the five stages, denial might manifest as a sort of numbness, different from depression - he still could be in shock.

‘And yet I’m not denying anything, he and the others are probably right it wouldn’t be safe… and because of that I am useless as a hero.’ Izuku acknowledged.

But still had the goal of becoming a hero, or…

Or at least he used to…

That wasn’t an option anymore. Toshinori Yagi had made that very clear. When it came to heroics, the powerless need not apply.

Kicking a rusted bolt, 'So, what was an option', he wondered?

He could follow what his school councilors pointed out, go to a local public high school, graduate and become an overworked salaryman, abused by people like his classmates for decades on end.

Grimacing at the thought, he suddenly clapped his left hand to his temple as a sharp pain lanced through his skull, probably something left over from all the abuse his poor head had taken today.

As for living as a corporate slave abused by people like his classmates, the answer was suddenly very clear as the pain cleared.

He’d rather die.

The mental declaration caused his brain and feet screech to a halt in a dirty disused intersection, surrounded by old refineries, industrial factories, and vacant warehouses.

‘Did I really mean that, he asked himself, shocked as the pondered the thought.’

Another painful jolt exploded behind his eyes.

‘Yes’

He did.

‘I’d rather be dead than miserable!’, he affirmed as his sudden migraine pulsed once more.                   

Despite the summer heat, Izuku felt an immense cold chill flow through him, as his darker shards were freed from their restraints.

And yet the chill was comforting in a way, a numbness that flowed into his broken heart and took the pain away. He thought about it, thought about it for a long time, and realized that it really was what he wanted.

It was hard to think over the headache but looking back over the day...

He had apparently wanted it for a while now, when he left the tunnel, he was angry at …Yagi-san for saving him, a part of him felt that it would have been better to have died somewhat happy, than to have his dreams crushed and live in misery.

That was the logical conclusion he had reached. To live his life as it was, as it would end up being, would be a fate worse than death.

The pressure in head began to wane.

He didn’t know how to feel; how should one feel when they have not only accepted their imminent death but the fact that they themselves would cause it? Was the serenity and peace he felt above his otherwise broiling emotions part of that, of the acceptance that soon he, Izuku Midoriya would be no more? Did his headache suddenly ease because of his conviction?

Even so, beneath the stillness of his calm there are still fragments in complete turmoil.

There’s the part of him that was fitful and shattered, bawling its eyes out one moment and then next so icy, cold and unfeeling that he felt his whole being would freeze, it was the numbness, the anguish, the hopelessness, it wanted to feel stop feeling, stop hurting.

There was a part of him, one growing weaker and weaker that begged him to reconsider, screamed unanswered that this is not him, this is not how a hero acts. But Izuku can't be a hero, and that was all he ever was, that want and dive. All that was meaningless now, so he silenced it.

The was another part that sounded much like Bakugou, angry, filled with eruptions of rage and hate, it wanted to lash out, to use his own death as a weapon against those who wronged him as much as a way to escape his pain. It suggested following through Bakugou’s suggestion to the letter, diving off the school building on the first day back and leaving behind an utterly damning note, blaming Bakugou for everything.

It was an appealing option, but an unfeasible one, his parting words to Yagi-san had likely alerted the hero to his intentions even before Izuku became aware of his desires, himself. Were he to go home now, there would probably be police and potentially a deflated No. 1 waiting alongside his mother to carry him off to a mental hospital.

Another spike of pain, even smaller, the headache was fading now.

The very thought left a bitter taste in his mouth. He wasn’t crazy, it wasn’t crazy to not want to be in pain to not want to suffer when there was no cure. His problems were systemic, his classmates were literally representative of the population and people like Bakugou were a dime a dozen jerks. He could either die here and now with his dreams or live as an empty tortured shell for 70 years.

He’d choose the first option.

Letting out a sigh, he focused on the hardest part.

There was one thing to consider, his one guilt, his poor mother. She would be devastated inconsolable for perhaps for months or even a year. In a deep twist of irony, she would likely seek comfort from her best friend Mitsuki Bakugou, Katsuki’s mother.

It would break her for a while, though in time, Izuku knew she would heal eventually. Maybe even remarry - this time to someone loyal - and have new children with fantastic quirks. She would always remember and love him, he knew that, but if she moved on like that, had a happy marriage with good kid, who could not say that her situation would be better than it is now?

The pain was gone, he only felt the calming soothing cold.

And there was one way he could ease her suffering, if only artificially. If the authorities never actually found his body, then they couldn’t say with absolute certainty he was dead, his mother could hold out hope in a fantasy that he had simply decided to run away and live new life. He had thankfully long turned off his phone, which meant that it’s tracking function would have stopped in the middle of downtown. There was no way to know he was here...

And he thought looking around at the area he was in, it was actually perfect for that purpose. The rust district was dotted with some three dozen large ventilation shafts that were once used to carry air and exhaust gases to and from the refineries, boilers and furnaces that sat deep below the upper buildings. Those shafts descended 300 feet straight down below the surface. The fall would kill him instantly, the depth of the shaft, the general remoteness of the area and the relative inaccessibility of the lower reaches of the district would ensure his body was never found. It was fool proof.

He looked down the road.

“Bingo…” down a block and to his right, there in a space partially ringed by several buildings was a large almost cylindrical hut like structure. Twelve feet tall and ten feet wide it resembled a massive chimney cap.

It was one of the shafts, specifically it was Izuku’s final resting place. Even from a distance he could see that the mesh around the openings was little more than solidified dust. It would be very easy to create a way in and then jump.

He walked down the street, stopping a dozen yards or so before the shaft to gather his final thoughts.

Taking a deep breath, he made to start forward...  only for his feet to refuse to move…

'Izuku, you know that no matter what, no matter if you have a quirk or not, fight villains or not, you are my hero and I will always love you.' His mother's voice and faced echoed in his mind.

And suddenly… It was as if a surge of comforting warmth moved through him, dropping into a hot bath after a cold soaking walk home.

The pressure in his head faded, suddenly replaced by a body full of aches. His brain rebooted, his "iron clad" conviction vanished like fog in the wind and adrenaline flooded through him.

Izuku's mind was beset by confusion, shock and eventually fear.

“What the Hell was I doing!? What was I thinking?! The teen whispered in abject horror, backing far away from the chimney like structure as fast as he could.

‘I’d never!’ he vehemently thought, heart beating his throat.

Yes, he knew that he had implied that he wished he hadn’t been saved to Toshinori when he left the tunnel, but he was angry. The man had just told him to give up on his dreams! He acted like Bakugou and deliver a mean parting shot ... that probably had the man worried out of his mind.

He sighed, As much as he didn’t want to see the man again for a very long time, he owed him a real apology for the panic he was probably in, as well as a sincere thank you for saving his life.

Speaking of which….

“What’s going on here?” he muttered, bringing his hand to his jaw. The adrenaline coxing forth anxiety in the face of his confusion, anxiety which quickly exploded into concern and barely chained fear.

He was just about to kill himself that’s what, but he’d never do that…

It would mean those assholes won. He's not going give them that victory.

But likewise he knows that he was just about to kill himself, by jumping no less…he’s not good with heights, a 300-foot fall…

His blood ran cold…

“How did I know about the shafts? I don’t know anything about this area! I was always told to stay away from it…How do I know there are 36 shafts, where they are and that they are 300 ft deep…” he muttered voice choked with panic, fear off the chain in face of the foreign information in his mind. Izuku knew for a fact that he didn’t know any of that this morning.

All the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end.

His eyes nervously darted from building to building, alley to alley, there was something or someone here with him…

Someone or Something, his brain whispered, that at the very least had the ability to plant previously unknown facts into someone's head and more frighteningly potentially the ability to influence a person's mental state.

'Influence it enough to cause me to nearly commit suicide'

There was a clink of metal, he spun around to empty air...nothing was there.

Though before he could breath a sigh of relief, white hot pain and incandescence arced through the teen's body, setting every nerve alight.

And Izuku knew no more.                 

___

A cruel throaty laugh echoed out from the roof of a nearby warehouse, as the boy’s body convulsed with 60,000 volts and he fell to the ground. A hunched figure cloaked in white and gray was its source.

___

The boy was perfect, Magda thought to herself as her disciples captured him. So full of despair and uncertainty, he was nearly a blank slate, her power was able to completely dominate him, and he didn’t even notice.

She was able to nearly command him to throw himself down one of the shafts with such little prompting. Only the slightest application of demonic power and his devastated and tormented psyche was under her complete thrall.

She was almost impressed, it took work, years of torment, neglect and cruelty to leave a mind this beaten down. Once she had made the boy into the vessel, she might have to seek out the ones responsible, see if they were willing to share their techniques.

As it was their luck was simply marvelous. After all the test runs and delays, the run up of nearly a year’s work and one of the virgins dies on nearly the eve of the ritual. Then not only does a new one come strolling in mere days ago, but a new more manageable vessel comes walking right to their doorstep not a week later.

Oh, she had had so many high hopes for the original choice, he was the perfect body to be the vessel of Lord Ammon, but his mind was too strong; even after months and months imprisonment and torture he refused to break. With his strong will, Magda and her flock simply could not take the chance that he would cause and issue with the summon and binding of Lord Ammon.

The ritual had to occur within the next three day, as such they were cutting it close, they had already been looking into other options when this boy simply walked right into their hands.

Of course, the original choice would still be put to good use, they would hold on to him for something else, his body was strong and his bloodline stronger. Another lord might be housed within when all was said and done.

As she watched the motion of here followers on the ground, the signal was given.

"Perfect," she practically hissed.

The vessel was secure and had passed the test. This young body would be the house of their lord and weapon. In two nights they would summon Lord Ammon and have him devour the soul inside, replacing it. Then she would then bind him to herself and use his power to bind and command the summoned hoards and grant power to her flock. Then they the people of the moons would start their war and punish those who had called them powerless. Yes, they, the exiles in this world of power, the ones with none would gain from the demon lords far greater strength than their so-called Quirks, and with it they would ravage this world that condemned them as Quirkless!

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Can a Devil Be a Hero?

A My Hero Academia Fan Fic

By Egg Emperor


Prologos II:

Zoroaster: Vaḍā Dastur hača Ahura Mazda

 

 – Friendships forged in Fire often last a Lifetime.

Disaster and shared Suffering breed trust like no other.

It is said that in Crisis, true colors are born.

The best comes out in People

They never think before offering their hand,

It’s instinctual, a primal demonstration of Innate Good,

And it creates bonds that would last a lifetime. –

 

 “Rust District” Depths: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 8:21 PM

 

Izuku was nowhere again, and then…

He hurt, he ached everywhere, he had pain in places he didn’t even know existed.

His head was splitting, even the sound of silence was excruciating and then it started.

There was noise, a sound, metal clinking, chiming, flowing over the hard ground.

Coins…?

No why would it be coins? It was dragging, shifting… he knew the sound! He knew it, Damn it! What was it!

In his frustration, his right hand spastically clinched, clasping something cold and filthy… metallic… it was…

Rust, a rusted ring, no rings, ovals… ovals interlocked together.

A chain.

That was the sound, it was chains, chains being dragged along the floor.

“Hey…” a soft whisper.

“Hey” louder, a tap on his shoulder, he winced, his body spasming at the contact.

“Hey…Hey, Kid!” louder still

Izuku groaned trying to scoot his battered body away from the noise.

“Hey, Kid! You, you okay? Come on, say something!” he was shaken, he whined, half curling into a ball trying to get away. It probably wasn’t intentional, but the concerned, touch triggered waves of cramping agony across Izuku’s battered body.

The annoyance persisted.                                                                                                                                     

Finally giving up he opened his bleary eyes and winced giving another high pained whine.

It was dark, only a bit brighter in here – wherever that was – than it was behind his eyelids, but even still to Izuku it was like staring into the Sun.

He felt so pitiful, pathetic, and utterly miserable. What had even happened to him? He couldn’t remember much…

“Kid…? You with me?” the slightly raspy voice, which Izuku had mentally named the annoyance spoke again.

Izuku mustered what little strength he had and turned his head to glare in the direction the annoying perturbance.

He looked slightly over and up into the face of a very dirty and ragged looking young man.

The guy wasn’t what he expected. He wasn’t a teen, he was older, mid to early twenties Izuku guessed. He was truly unkempt in appearance; facial features finer than what his voice would have hinted, were covered with stubble and scruff, his sallow skin and deep eyebags suggested he hadn’t seen the sun or a good night’s sleep in a very long time.

The man snorted, and then finally laughed, slapping the dirty thigh of his tattered shorts with his left hand.

Izuku only narrowed his eyes further and grimaced, which quieted the man down.

“Woah there Kid,” he said, hands splayed back in a universal gesture of peace.

“Didn’t mean to upset you, I’m sorry, really, but that look? It ain’t doing you any favors, trust me, I’ve seen more intimidating puppies. Seriously, keep that up and all you’re going to do is break a tooth.”

At Izuku’s continued recalcitrance, he sighed, running his hand through his, incredibly dirty but still obviously reddish hair. Before fixing Izuku’s glaring countenance with his own, almost surreal electric blue-green eyes. 

“I... look I know I probably ticked you off by waking you up… but I couldn’t just ignore you there lying on the floor shaking with cold, and pain. I… I mean… Hell when the fuckers first dumped you in here 20 minutes ago I wasn’t sure for a few minutes if you were even breathing. I had to at least check on you, I’m not heartless!” His eyes darted nervously away, and he again scratched the back of his head.

A possibly nervous habit maybe, Izuku thought; his mind almost lazily detached by the pain and the repeated traumas of the day.

Izuku, sighed, relaxing his face and closing his eyes, he winced as his chest spasmed, and then a hand was almost instantly at his back, rubbing circles that quickly and surprisingly quieted most of the pain.

When he opened his eyes, the man was sitting cross-legged next to him, a look of sadness and worry on his face. The chains connected to the manacles around his ankles stretched nearly taught.

The cold heavy presence on his own lower legs now made perfect sense, Izuku himself was chained as well.

“You gonna be okay kid?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, I … what ever happened… it did something to me, my muscles keep locking up,” – he grit his teeth through another wave of pain, “I hurt all over and I keep twitching.” He winced at another violent series of cramps wracked his body.

The man grimaced, “Stun baton, or some kind of modified cattle prod, the crazy fuckers are real fond of them, causes near instant unconsciousness and completely incapacitates the target for a long time after with body wide pain and constant muscle twitches and spasms. They should get better the more you move around, and you should be back to normal in a few days…. Though,” he looked to the side, a dark cast moving over his face. “I’m pretty sure that neither of us or anyone else locked up in this God forsaken place actually has that long.”

Izuku barely could string things together here, ‘So I was…electrocuted? And what did he mean by us not having much time?’

The man had since squatted down by Izuku.

“Anyway, let’s get you up, or at least sitting.” He said more cheerfully.

He held out his hand to Izuku, who was reluctant at first, reminded of the last person who held out a hand and then let him fall in the end.

Time stopped. What should he do, what could he do? He was laying on the cold ground, in a completely unknown place. He didn’t know how he had gotten here, other than the man’s mention of a stun baton and a vague “they”. He had nothing to go on, no reason to trust the man.

After all he had ended up in this place in part because of his naïve trust of someone he had really no reason to give such power to. He hadn’t known Toshinori Yagi but had put complete and utter faith in the man regardless, trusted that he would be somehow different from all the other adults who thought his dreams laughable or even dangerous. And with that trust the man had shattered his heart.

Likely not unkindly, no, even in the minutes just after he fled the tunnel, when his mind had first stared to clear, he knew that the hero was simply concerned for his safety; still that knowledge didn’t make the rejection, the heartbreak any less painful, any less devastating. It didn’t somehow build a new path or make a new dream for Izuku.

No matter what it still left a gaping void where his dreams and his future once were.

So why, why should he trust again. Because he had nothing left to lose? Because weird mind control or not, the last time he was awake he was about to kill himself? That if things went badly there really was no lower he could go than that?

He didn’t know.

___

Musutafu City, U.A. High School Conference Room: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 8:24 PM

It had been a horribly long day for Toshinori Yagi, better known to the public as All-Might. He had run himself to the bone over days trying to find leads on the activities of his Arch-nemesis, and in the process over worked his body and quirk to the point of shutdown. Then to make matters worse…

The door opened admitting a tall, younger man in a trench coat.

“You should be sleeping,” remarked Detective Naomasa Tsukauchi, one of the few people who knew both his identities and of the effects his long-ago injuries caused.

The hero only grunts in response.

“You heard what Recovery Girl said, you’re too exhausted to use her quirk on. If you don’t want permanent damage to you calf, you need to sleep so she can use it tomorrow.” The officer remarked.

“Toshi…”

“What’s the word on the boy,” All-Might asked, side tracking the conversation.

“Nothing as of yet. I had a patrol unit sent to his apartment several hours ago, as of 30 minutes ago, Izuku Midoriya had not returned home, something his mother Inko Midoriya is on the record as saying is completely unlike him.” The detective stated.

Toshinori grimaced, crushing the cold coffee cup in his hands.

“Damn it!” the Number One slams the table cracking it slightly even without One for All.

Running his hand over his face, he tries taking a calming breath and then asks,

“What are we telling the mother?”

Sighing Tsukauchi takes a seat, realizing that his friend will not sleep until he at least has some answers.

“Right now, we’ve only informed her that her son had been a victim of a villain attack, and that he was rescued and was last seen healthy and alive, the unit having been sent to confirm the boy was doing well.”

“Ultimately, how long we can keep that narrative in place depends on the outcome, if the boy comes home how do you want to deal with it? Do we tell the mother directly or simply mention it as something deeply concerning the responding hero noticed after the rescue?” The detective asked.

“Considering what I saw and felt we need to make it directly known unless there’s something that blatantly tells us young Midoriya is not considering harming himself. Even then…”

“Toshinori, how much do you want to be involved?” Naomasa queries, stunning his friend.

“I…I…I don’t know. Half of me wants to sit down with the boy and apologize, wants to work with him until he no-longer feels the way he looked at me in the tunnel. The other half is afraid, and also recognizes that interacting with me is probably the last thing the boy wants or needs right now.” The Number One admits.

“Both of those are equally valid desires, but I’d probably say the latter is the better choice, since it leaves it up to the child, if he wants to talk to you, he can let you know.”

“There’s also the other possibility we need to think about, if the boy remains missing or if his body is found how do we spin this.” The officer grimly voices.

“Spin?” The hero asks incredulously.

“Don’t give me that look, I don’t like it any more than you, but the fact of the matter is that depending on how he’s found – or not found – we might be able to suggest it was another villain attack. If it’s obvious it’s a suicide it will be more difficult but we…”

“Naomasa! You can’t seriously be…”

“Toshinori, will you just shut up and listen to me for a moment!” The detective yells, patience at an end.

“Listen to me, and everyone else, Chiyo, Shouta, Nedzu and everyone else who has told you the same thing tonight. You ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE, you ARE NOT AT FAULT! For any of this!”

The detective sighs,

“Listen Toshi, you did nothing wrong, either legally, or morally. You said the right thing, without a quirk that boy would have gotten himself or others who would have depended on him killed as a hero. And if he couldn’t handle that, if you telling him the honest truth drove him to suicide, then there was a lot more wrong with that boy than simply not having a quirk. Dozens of people who know him far more intimately than you do would have to have failed him, people who should have known, should have seen, long before he ever got to you. For him to be hanging onto life by a single thread like that, that your words could have been the final straw, the boy was a timebomb, sooner or later someone would have said something that caused him to go off the deep end.”

“Ultimately, we can’t have you, the Symbol of Peace, indicted in the court of public opinion for something you had no control over. Not only would it be utterly unfair, but it would be a catastrophic blow to the Hero industry." The man finishes.

“I…I know that! I know! It … still doesn’t make it easier, doesn’t make me feel less guilty.” All-Might sighed.

"It never does with any we fail, you know that, I know it and every police officer and hero on the planet knows it. Our nightmares are a laundry list of those we couldn't help or save. That's one of the less glamorous parts of being in this line of work that they don't advertise." The detective bit out.

"..."

"Toshi, what's eating you? Really? This kid, he got to you somehow. Is it because he's quirkless?"

"...No, or rather that's not all of it, the fact that... that he's like me, someone who was born without a quirk is part of it, but it's everything, the hero worship, the earnest almost naive way he went on about things, his enormous desire to make a difference in spite of what should be a crippling handicap. He, he reminds me so much of myself at that age. I just keep thinking back and thinking, that could have been me. Nana could have easily said no to me, just like I did to him, and someone else would be the Symbol of Peace, or perhaps One for All would have died with her that day and All for One could be openly ruling Japan or the World by now." he trailed off.

"You don't know that."

"Just like I don't know what would have happened had I simply avoided the question or told the boy that he could be a hero. Beyond simply the child himself, who's life I may well have destroyed, what if I inadvertently disrupted something, changed something, caused dominoes to fall or set in motion something truly horrible. What if that boy was to be the first great quirkless hero? What if he was to somehow defeat some great evil or give hope to the hopeless and now that evil will be free to do what it wants, and those people will remain hopeless?"

"What if he by being something he should not, caused an accident and the death of dozens of heroes and hundreds of civilians?" the detective countered.

"You can't keep moving in these hypotheticals, you'll drive yourself nuts. There's no way to know what is going to happen for sure, that was something you told Nighteye even in the face of his quirk. Nothing is set in absolute stone. So, you cannot keep second guessing yourself like this." The investigator finished, moving to stand.

“Get some rest, if anything happens, I promise I will wake you up.”

“Fine, Fine” the hero said, rising from his seat.

Naomasa watches the blond leave for the infirmary where a bed waited. He gave a silent prayer that Izuku Midoriya could find something or someone that could make him want to live. The price otherwise was just too high.

 

___

“Rust District” Depths: Friday June 1st, 2276 CE – 8:27 PM

His arm was getting tired.

The kid had been staring it back and forth for several minutes.

He had realized the kid was skittish, had some serious issues – his personal experience actually coming in handy for something other than generating nightmares – someone, had done some serious damage to this kid when it came to trusting people.

___

What should he do. Giving up his musings he looked up.

 

 

 

Izuku stared into his sudden companion’s piercing turquoise eyes, searching his scruffy unkempt face for any sign of deception, well-meaning or otherwise and found none; nothing but a sad, earnest smile and eyes pleading for trust, pleading for Izuku to let their owner help him.

No, the man reaching out to him was completely different from Number One Hero, who while well meaning – Izuku knew that – looked down from a throne of power and only saw a powerless boy who would get himself hurt or worse; not understanding that continuing to exist dreamless and hopeless was a far worse fate than any villain could inflict.

This wasn’t flimsily trust offered in one direction by a fan towards his idol, one sided and weak because of their vastly different understandings and positions.

No, this man, was exactly the same as Izuku, trapped, imprisoned in an unknown place and completely at the mercy of what or whoever had put him here. He was asking Izuku to trust him and he in turn would trust Izuku.

Reciprocation, a two-way street, mutual trust, Izuku could trust him, he needed to trust him, if he wanted any chance of figuring out what was going on.

He mentally took a deep breath and gathered what remained of his emotional reserves.

He could make, one, final, leap of faith.

He grabbed the man’s hand and was pulled stiffly and spasming into a rough sitting position, the chains connected to his ankles clanking and scraping across the floor as his legs were repositioned.

“Where are we?” Izuku asked feebly.

He tried to look around, there was very little light where they were – he couldn’t locate its source. The place itself – his eyes struggled to focus through the pain and dim light - it was brown, black, orangish… rust and oil, rusted metal.

The place was made of wet, greasy, corroded metal: panels, pipes and connectors, small pipes and brackets some warped and distorted randomly dotted the damp concrete floor on… he could hear water… dipping…somewhere.

There was a loud unidentifiable sound, a bang, clang, something, distant and muffled.

Izuku whipped his head around to try to locate it, and was instantly reminded of every ache, soreness and pain he currently had and then some as his vision went fuzzy.

Izuku’s head spun, now he was dizzy, on top being in full body pain, wracked with cramps and spasms on a minute basis and having what he was fairly certain was a migraine, the combination was breathtaking.

“We’re…” he cut off as he looked down at his young “roommate”, answer forgotten.

“You okay there Kid? You’re looking a little green…” the auburn man chuckled nervously.

Izuku’s stomach twisted with the coordinated assault of pains of all different forms and types, suddenly twisting into a fiery cauldron of nausea and agony.

His body curled forward, spine bending, mouth opening…

His companion’s eyes went wide with surprise and horror…

“Oh shit! Hey! Not on …”

A horrible retching sound echoed across the small room.

“…me.” His attempts to scoot back were too late.

“Okay…um…well I wasn’t really attached to that jacket.” The red head declared as he looked at the bile dripping off the arm of the moth-eaten leather.

He stood up, shucked the soiled jacket and tossed it into the far corner. The poor kid was still wrenching in the background.

Now clad in only his stained and dirty undershirt, he flinched slightly at the sudden exposure of his arms to the cold dank air, rubbing his hands up and down them.

“Ah shit I hate the cold.” He spat.

He turned around only for his eyes to go wide in horror.

___

His mouth tasted of bile and acid, his throat burned, he was so cold and yet his stomach was on fire.

His eyes shifted to the man’s arm, his jacket dripping with the meager contents of Izuku’s empty stomach.

The man got up, Izuku couldn’t make out what he said.

‘Oh, great’ he thought, ‘I threw up on him, way to go you idiot, you probably just alienated the one person willing to help you!’

He heaved again, and again, bring up nothing but spittle. The pain growing with each stomach spasm, till it nearly blotted out all thought, and the collective toll of the day came due all at once.

‘Pathetic’ his nerves ignited, electric pain blazing across them.

‘Screw up’ his stomach was filled with molten metal.

Quirkless’ his headache exploded off the scale it had already broken.

‘Loser’ his muscles seized.

‘Deku’ his vision was blurry, the pouring tears felt like acid against his skin.

‘Can’t be a hero’ his heart was going to explode, he couldn’t breathe, or was he breathing too much…he couldn’t …he couldn’t…couldn’t...

___

‘Fuck! That isn’t good!’

If anyone ever asked him to describe the word ‘meltdown’ as applied to a human; as in ‘to self-destruct beyond all fuckin’ recognition, resulting in terrified hysterical laughter’ this would be it.

He looked like he was seizing.

“Shit…Shit! KID!” he covered the five feet in maybe a tenth of a second, sliding the last three, scrapes completely ignored.

He grabbed the moss haired teen, trying to steady him, slow down the shaking. He was breathing way too fast.

He’s not going to get any air at this rate!’ the older man was quickly realizing just how out of his depth he now was.

“Kid! KID! Listen to me, you need to try to calm down a little, just a little!” the redhead tried to make sure his words were even, belaying none of his near frantic state.

“Kid, you…please you need to breath normally! Damn it!” ‘It wasn’t working! If anything, he was getting faster now, the boy was literally going to die in his arms if this kept up, his body had stopped shaking and now…’

 The teen was weakening, becoming limp.

“Please…”

“Kid…please,”

‘He was begging, so much for calm, he was a wreck, he was crying, on the verge of bawling, all over a kid he didn’t even know. He knew why, never that he had been isolated and tortured, or that the boy was the first human contact he had had in probably six or seven months, he was… if his math was right and hadn’t utterly lost all sense of time down here… the kid would be around the same age as … DAMN IT!’

He took a breath and put all the force and emotion he could into the words.

“Kid…I… I can’t, you … I can’t do this… you have to breathe... I can’t watch a kid the same age as my baby brother die in front of me!” he sobbed, angry tears pouring down his face, a gulp of air, ‘try again, voice steady, firm, last chance, it has to work.’

“Kid, there must be someone… I… if you won’t do it for yourself or for me; there has to be someone out there, someone who cares about you a lot, someone you care about, someone, anyone, who would miss you. For them, live for them, live so you can get out of this Hellhole and get back to them!"

___

Izuku, was…he… hurt so much, inside, outside, his head, mind, his heart.

Everything was pain.

He tried to breath, he kept trying to breath, more and more but he couldn’t get enough air, not enough, no matter how he tried, it was like the air was practically just passing through him.

He shifted, no, what he was on shifted. He couldn’t move his head

The was noise, words, they were muffed, like he had cotton in his ears.

He felt like putty, limp, weak, there was black, black at the edge of his vision… ‘That was bad right?’

And he was cold, so very, very cold. The pain was fading though, the blade in his head had diminished quit a bit. He could think and hear somewhat.

“K…d…p…a…e” ‘still garbled’… there was something on his chest, wet, more sounds… ‘crying?!’

‘Someone’s crying over me?! Impossible, he was …,’ Suddenly the sound became clearer.

“… can’t … this … you … breathe... I … watch … same age … brother die …me!”

Breathe what? Brother…die?... Do I have a brother, Izuku thought, more importantly am I …dying?!’

“… must be someone… won’t do it for yourself … someone out there … cares about you … you care about … would miss you… live for them, live so you can get out… get back to them!"

Someone who cares? Miss me? Back to them?’

‘MOM!’

___

There’s a huge rushing sound, like something was trying to suck the air from the room.

‘It was a wonderful sound’, he thought.

A gasp; a huge, deep, inhalation. The redhead’s own heart skipped a beat at the first sign of hope he had had in what was one the most terrifying minutes of his life.

It was like someone tazed the kid, his back and body arched like a bow, and then curved back in the opposite direction, his lungs drawing long deep gulps of air as he went.

He grips the boy’s right hand with his left, just hard enough be uncomfortable, using his right to slip behind his back and prop him up.

‘He’s still heaving, still, still not breathing right damn it.’

“Kid…can…can you hear me?”, he’s too frazzled to keep his voice from wavering, flipping back and forth between wet, almost choked and his normal baritone rasp, his nerves are shot to … Hell’s not far enough…they’re beyond that, probably beyond any therapist too.

The subtle almost imperceptible nod of a green mopped head is more joyous that anything he can remember. He felt at least a third of the tension in his body drain away,

“Oh, thank Christ!” half his energy gone in the sigh that accompanied the oath.

How did, she deal with this, with everything he did? The specific memories, he actively blocks them out, but he remembers the gist, and now this! One kid like this was fucking exhausting but four? You had to be fucking kidding me! It’s insane!’ He rambled in his head as he slowly rubbed circles on the Kid’s back, trying to calm him down, it was a thing, a memory, knowledge from her, a relic of another time that might as well have been a dream.

He sighed, brushing away his ghosts, he didn’t have time for them now.

He needed to stop the Kid from passing out or worse.

“Kid, you’re still breathing way too fast, you’re hyperventilating, you won’t get any oxygen like that, you need to take slow, deep breaths, calm … that’s it!”

He kept his voice low, reassuring, praised, ‘the kid was doing good’,

“Keep going, that’s it, just try to focus on my voice, slow deep…good, come ‘on keep going!” He saw the winces, the grimaces, but the pain would have to wait,

“I know your chest hurts, but … you weren’t breathing good enough for a little while there”, ‘a massive understatement but he doesn’t need to be told how bad it was right now.’

“You’re doing great Kid, there you go!”, more and more stress drained from him as he slowly coaxed, the teen’s breathing back into the normal range, it took a few minutes before he was satisfied the kid wouldn’t go back to hyperventilating, but eventually…

“Wha ‘appened ta me, las’ think…last thig ‘as ‘owing up, ‘owing up on you?” the voice was horse, from pain and bile, slurred from exhaustion – ‘maybe lack of oxygen’, the redhead’s mind grimly supplied.

It was also timid, and utterly scared.

He looked more closely at the young man in his arms and saw something completely contrary to what he had less than half an hour ago.

When they had first met the kid was a cornered alley cat; defensive, warry and even calculating in his gaze and speech despite his disorientation, it was obvious he had problems trusting, no-one was that on guard naturally, now though…

He was the complete and utter opposite, his emerald eyes were huge and fawn like, wide with unshed tears. He was shivering, skittish looking, his face looked much rounder and his mussy mop of hair stuck up in every direction. He was more the picture of an abused bunny than anything that could actually defend itself.

He looks so young, maybe I was wrong about his age, he couldn’t be in his mid-teens, he had to be 11, 13 at the absolute oldest, doesn’t matter, if reminding me of …him, them, helped me save him I don’t care…those fuckers…why a child?’

He swallowed thickly, this was going to be delicate, he had to be careful not to send the Kid into another attack…one wrong move, one careless word and he could put the boy’s life in danger again.

“First, how do you feel? You’re not lightheaded or in too much pain still? Can you sit up, or should we move against the wall?” He dodged the question, it was completely obvious he had and why he did it but...

Momentarily distracted, the teen turned slightly and looked around, wincing in the process – his neck was still stiff, and he was pretty sore – he was slightly horrified that the older man was in fact completely supporting his weight, something that Izuku was fairly certain still was beyond his capabilities at this point.

“The wal…ah shit my throat hurts!” the pain and the epitaph itself surprised their speaker in that order, maybe the situation and all that time around Kacchan had loosened his tongue so to speak.

The long-haired man barked with laughter, probably a combination of surprise, relief and latent stress, humans weren’t meant to operate like this.

The teen pouted as his amused companion slowly helped him to the nearest wall a few feet away.

                                                                                                ___

Minutes, past like hours, leaning back and letting the wall take most of his body weight Izuku the sighed in relief, the wet and grimy wall may have been disgusting but through his T-shirt it felt heavenly cool …

Wait…T-shirt?!?’ Izuku looked down at himself, really looked down at himself, mind suddenly drawing a blank.

“So, you finally noticed, huh?” his companion offhandedly remarked as he slid down the wall next to Izuku.

The past minutes of confusion over potential death were temporarily forgotten in favor of a new outrage. 

“MY CLOTHES!!”

The furious eruption was, with potentially a few exceptions the loudest sound to ever come from Izuku Midoriya. And his abused throat despised him for it. ‘Well it can go to hell’ he thought as he gritted through the pain, this was simply too much to not be angry at!

At the end of what was certainly now the worst day of his entire life – if it wasn’t yet that back then – he wanders into an abandoned industrial district, his is mind screwed with, and then nothing, then he wakes up in agony in a small, disgusting, nearly pitch-black room. And to top it all off someone had taken most of his clothes! His jacket and overshirt were gone leaving him with just his Tee, and someone had hacked his dress pants into shorts! Those were insanely expensive, they were going to resell them! And his shoes, his wonderful red shoes…gone!

A strange squeaking sound to his right slowly brought him out of his mental indignation.

His companion, the scruffy, ginger long-haired bastard, was biting his fist, likely trying to avoid the laughing fit his eyes could not conceal.

‘Well screw him, I may not have much, but my stuff is at least clean’ Izuku shook his head, still a bit disorientated but no longer overtly nauseous or dizzy. He returned the other man’s mirth with angry pout.

After a few seconds, the red-head managed to get urge to laugh under control and his thoughts returned to their previous more serious discussion, namely the teen’s health.

He wasn’t about to simply let the kid forget that he was basically at death’s door less than ten minutes ago.

“Now from that I know you’ve got at least some spark left in you, though how’s your throat Kid? Can you even talk after that little aria?”

Izuku’s throat was freaking sore and that screaming didn’t help one bit. He was a bit reluctant to try speaking in case it resulted in the sensation of razors across his tonsils but… there was too much he wanted to know, too much he needed to know.

The teen was still shaking on the inside, everything, it was all so much. Still he had no choice, he had to do what he always did, ignore it and push on.

“I…ow…I ah…Ye...ah, I can”, he managed to bite out, the stare and raised eyebrow he was receiving was thoroughly unimpressed though.

“Kid you sound horrible…you…” the response was laughed but with an edge of concern.

“No…ah…yeah, it hurts but, I ah… I can’t…just not talk… you said earlier about there…”, he swallowed the saliva went down his throat like a bead of molten lead.

“You…you said that we might not have much time… ther…there’s a ton of shit that needs to be explained right ...ere right now, because other than waking up in th…is dump, feeling like I …ad…had been run over and then…,” he blinked owlishly, his eyes searching the auburn man’s face.

“Al…almost dying, I think?” the teen managed to finish out, clearing his throat with a wince, flinching when his companion gave an affirming nod.

The older man simply looked at the younger, as he struggled with the hot potato in his throat. The kid was determined, he give him that.

The green haired teen continued “Other…Other than that, I truly an’ utterly haven’t a fucking clue what’s go…going on, t…to the point I’m actually sw…swearing, because I s…so completely fried and out of my depth he…here.” His throat was getting better, it still hurt like Hell, but the pain was dulling the more he used his voice, and his voice was sounding less like a chain smoker and more like Izuku with stutter and a bad cold. 

“First off, Kid, really how are you feeling? You think you’re going to be okay? Because I can’t fucking go through that shit of a kid nearly dying in my arms again.” The teen flinched.

“I don’t know how you can claimed to be anyway recovered from that, when I sure as fuck ain’t! My heart still isn’t beating quite right, my clothes, hair and skin are soaked with cold sweat, my earrings are probably going to corrode from it and all together you probably took ten years off my life!” he glared down, daring the kid to claim he was fine.

There was a genuinely haunted look in the man’s eyes. ‘That, what happened really rattled him…I don’t remember…Just throwing up and then next thing I’m completely out of it and collapsing in against him…’ Izuku thought.

‘Just to get back at him though…’, he put as much energy and sarcasm as he dared into the next sentence.

“That c…can’t have been that bad, you’re like what? 19?” the teen prodded.

“…Hey now! I’ve probably got 15 years on you Brat! I’m 25.” He huffed.

“I’m 14, I’ll be 15 next month.” He replied smugly.

‘That cheeky little…so I was right the first time, the kid is roughly around Sho’s age.’

___

After a few minutes of silence let both men catch their breaths, the teen again presented the question he had asked before being sidetracked.

“So, what ...exactly happened to me? Izuku asks.

A sigh, and the same worry.

“You…you started throwing up, probably from the sensitization effect of the stun baton, a big enough electric shock can cause basically everything to temporarily register as pain, that combined with the spasms, equals pain induced vomiting.”

“Then…I was getting rid of my jacket at the time, so I didn’t see it start, but I think you started to have a panic attack and it devolved quickly…you went into shock.”

“Shock?”

“Yeah, Shock, the medical condition; blood pressure plummets, heart beat goes through the roof, breathing becomes erratic, in your case you were hyperventilating so badly that you basically weren’t really moving much air – honestly at first I thought you were seizing.” He trailed off.

“I know what it is!”

He looked over at the Kid. The snap reply and the slightly, almost petulant pout on his face were nostalgic. This kid really didn’t want to be treated like one. Reminded him of a certain petulant 6-year-old… the memory was so old…it was like it was from another lifetime.

“I was just surprised.” The boy continued.

“So, you could say you were…”

“Don’t…” was practically hissed.

“Okay, Okay!” He held up his palms in the face of an emerald glare.

“Hey Kid?”

“I have a name you know.” Quick and nearly automatic.

‘Sarcastic, yeah the brat is really beginning to perk up.’ The redhead smirked.

“Are you gonna tell me?” the elder volleyed back.

“I…uh…” Izuku’s tongue swallowed his response.

Should he tell his…Partner of Circumstance? Unchosen Companion? Cellmate? Friend? …his name?

The man himself was trustworthy, Izuku had no doubt of that, he could see that much, in how haunted he was about what had happened to Izuku and how concerned he still was. The worry and fear in his eyes were genuine, the kind of worry that he had only seen in his mother’s eyes…and Mr. Yagi’s as he left the tunnel. No, his companion’s worry and the mark it left were real. Izuku also felt it was pretty apparent that he, like Izuku was not here – where ever this was – of his own volition.

But that brought up a whole new set of problems, who put them here, and why were they keeping them here, what did they want? And were they listening?

His…friend…It almost burned him to use given the decades long pollution of the word, but there was no mistake, this man was his friend, perhaps the first real friend Izuku had ever had. He had done more for Izuku over the course of - an hour, two hours maybe – than anyone else besides his own mother had done over his entire life. His friend he could trust, the people listening? No.

“I…”

“It’s okay Kid, we just met, the fact that you’re wary around a guy – a complete stranger – who’s ten years older than you is a good thing, you don’t…”

“It’s not you it’s just…,”

“Deku…call me Deku.” He didn’t know why of everything and anything he could have said it was that, the fucking insult, the thing he hated most…

“Deku?” The red-head snorted, “That can’t be your real name!? Who would name their child Usel…”?     

“Don’t! Don’t finish it. It’s a nickname, a bad one, something that I’ve hated for a very long time, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment.” The teen interrupted almost whining.

“Deku it is, then!” the burgundy headed man clips out.

“SO?” he exhaustedly drags out.

“So” the red head smirks out.

“So, aren’t you going to tell me your name?”

“Ah…Well…” He trailed off.

The older man’s eyes went hard as he frowned, a shadow crossing his normally warm face making it suddenly angry and vicious; then just as suddenly his eyes brightened, and his face broke out into a huge grin.

Were it not for the warmth in his eyes and the softness to the smile the effect might have been eerie or even sinister, as it was it almost looked a bit wistful, as though it, like the rest of the man were relics of once happier days.

He pointed his left thumb to his chest, “You can call me Daki.”