In the beginning, it was an accident — something Izuku’s frantic mind conjured up on the fly, when the pressure on his lungs became too much for him to handle, and his knees began to buckle. He stumbled forward in the gravel and ducked behind the slide as he noticed the ground becoming closer. It was a quick decision, but it wasn’t quick enough.
“We know you’re down there, Midoriya!” One of the kids shouted, close enough to make him wince. Izuku panted and pulled his knees up to his chest, squeezing his eyes shut as he tucked his forehead between his legs; there was no where for him to run, now.
The claw-like fingers that dug into his shirt as he was forcibly yanked out from his hiding place prompted him to release a breathless shriek, and he soon found himself atop the slide. He was surrounded, the other five kids looking down at him with expressions ranging from disdain to unrestrained glee. It was the latter that frightened him the most.
“C-Cut it out, you guys—” He tried hesitantly.
“Oh, you want us to stop?” The boy in the center asked, his lips stretched out in a grin that never quite met his pale, grey eyes. “That’s funny.”
The sun shone down upon his head, casting sinister shadows on his face to go with the cruel smile he sported. The boy leaned in further.
“Maybe you could use your quirk on us,” He taunted. Izuku clenched his jaw, his eyes beginning to water. “Huh, Midoriya?”
“I— You know my quirk hasn’t… m-manifested yet, and—”
“Oh my god,” one of the other kids groaned. Izuku’s gaze snapped over to him just in time to see him rolling his eyes behind his thick, round glasses. “Give it up, Midoriya. It’s been two months since the last kid in class got their quirk. You’re the only person who hasn’t gotten theirs. You’re quirkless. Accept it.”
“A-Am not!” Izuku clenched his fists, anger bubbling to the surface.
“Then show us,” the grey-eyed boy piped up again. “C’mon, Midoriya. Show us your quirk. Give us one reason not to wail on you right now.”
And in that moment, something happened. It was as though a cog had suddenly clicked into place. Izuku felt movement inside of him where there previously had been none, and he was sure his heart skipped a beat. The words left his tongue and touched the air before he, himself, could even understand them.
“Kacchan will be mad at you.” He stated, his tone firm and steady, if only for a moment.
The surrounding children gave him some odd looks.
“‘Kacchan’? Who the hell is that?”
Yes, Izuku. Who is that? He thought to himself, somewhat bitterly. The conscious part of his mind was quickly entering a state of panic, and yet somehow, some where, the words kept coming — conjured from the aether.
“K-Kacchan’s my best friend!” He shouted back. “He’s really strong! Stronger than all of you!”
The boy with the glasses raised an eyebrow. “Well, where is he, then?”
“He’s—” Izuku hesitated, swallowing the lump in his throat. “He’s at his house right now, but— but you’ll regret it if you do anything to me. Kacchan will make you pay for it!”
For a moment, it was silent. The bullies exchanged amused and bewildered looks with one another before proceeding to erupt into bouts of unrestrained laughter.
Izuku felt his anxiety about the situation growing exponentially. Still, he stuck to his guns, yelling Kacchan this, Kacchan that.
Kacchan will not be happy about this.
Kacchan will make you sorry.
Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan.
But the kicks and punches still came, hitting him from all sides for what felt like an eternity. Izuku kept on shouting, even as the bruises bloomed all across his skin. Izuku kept shouting, until the name ‘Kacchan’ engraved itself into his mind, and every word he cried rang true inside his soul.
During the days that followed, Izuku felt the idea of ‘Kacchan’ rooting itself within his brain, and rapidly growing into a full-blown obsession. Journals intended for schoolwork began to flood with drawings of boys with spiky blonde hair and sharp, red eyes. Various pieces of information about him were scrawled in the margins of his assignments, and, if he were to be honest, he knew it was strange.
Izuku was aware of imaginary friends as a concept, but prior to Kacchan, he couldn’t say he’d ever had one. And yet, though he couldn’t explain why, whenever he thought about him, he got this warm, pleasant feeling deep inside, as if some unknown force from within was actively nurturing his obsession, encouraging him to let it grow. So he did.
Katsuki “Kacchan” Bakugou was an idea inside Izuku Midoriya’s mind that he contemplated into tangibility. A six-year-old boy who stood a few inches taller than Izuku and always seemed to wear the same cocksure smile — a sort of confidence that resonated in every step he took.
Kacchan was everything Izuku needed him to be. Strong and confident where Izuku was weak and insecure. Fearless and aggressive where Izuku was anxious and and submissive. He was the sort of person who could walk into a room and instantly take up ownership of it — a natural leader with an explosive personality, and a quirk to match.
The visage of Kacchan saturated Izuku’s brain and the pages of his notebooks. Rarely did a minute pass by whilst Izuku was idle that he did not think about him, and so, perhaps he should’ve seen it coming when it happened — when the other kids began to take notice of it.
“Midoriya.” The sound of his name made Izuku jolt in his seat, and he looked up to find the grey-eyed boy standing beside his desk, his gaze burning into him.
“U-Uhm,” Izuku started, clutching his closed journal tight to his chest. “Yes? What—”
“—What the are you up to?” He cut in.
Izuku blinked, then narrowed his eyes in confusion. “‘Up to’?” He cocked his head to the side. “I’m not sure what you’re—”
“—Yeah, you are.” The boy interjected once more, placing his palms flat on the desk as he leaned toward him. “You’ve been writing in that stupid journal non-stop for the past week. What gives?”
Izuku blinked a few times, processing. The question seemed to activate something in him. It was some distant portion of his mind that he couldn’t quite pin down, but the odd, defensive feeling that overtook him was jarring, and the resulting glare on his face made the grey-eyed boy’s eyebrows raise. Izuku opened his mouth, and—
“That’s none of your business.” He hissed, and the words came as a surprise, even to himself. For a moment, the other boy simply stared at him, his gaze wide and searching as his body went tense. Izuku looked off and away, only glancing back at him every now and then. After a moment of silence, the boy’s hand suddenly shot out toward him, and Izuku just barely managed to lurch away before he could grab his journal. He stumbled out of his chair, grabbed his backpack, and hastily made his way out of the classroom.
He’d take a different route home that day, he decided.
Izuku could feel the tension rising with each passing day. Felt the way the grey-eyed boy’s gaze shot through him from across the room the day after the incident, and the way the other kids’ seemed to follow. The weight of their eyes on him grew heavier every second.
He found solace in the evenings, when he was free to draw and write about Kacchan in peace. The day of the encounter, some strange, inexplicable impulse had possessed Izuku to tear out twelve pages of blank notebook paper and line them up on the floor the moment he got home. He sat there for hours, as dozens of crayons became scattered across the hardwood.
He did his best to keep all the pages matched up as his drawing progressed, gradually taping each piece up on his wall until the visage of Kacchan became clear. It took a week, but once he had finished, he could rest easily knowing that Kacchan, in all his full-color glory, now hung from his wall, his confident gaze watching over him, and silently promising to keep him safe.
He’d gotten used to his new route home, as well. The path was winding at the start, and it was time consuming to have to take so many odd turns, but it was worth it, so long as it served its purpose. So long as it kept Izuku from being followed.
And strictly speaking, his plan had worked. On his way home from class, Izuku was not followed.
He just hadn’t anticipated his bullies meeting him at his house.
A few days after Izuku had completed his ultimate Kacchan, as he referred to it in his mind, he rounded the final corner on his path, only to come face-to-face with the grey-eyed boy. The other four meandered about a few feet back, and the shift in the atmosphere was palpable. Within a second, all eyes were on him.
In his panic, Izuku made a choice. Not trusting that he’d be able to break past the other kids, he instead chose to turn around and sprint back the way he’d come. It only took a few seconds of running for him to realize that this probably hadn’t been the best plan; if he could’ve just made it inside his home, it would’ve been over. Now, he was running at full speed, his backpack making his movements awkward, with five other kids rapidly encroaching on him.
“Get back here, Midoriya!” They called after him, shouting insults with voices that grew closer every time. Izuku panted heavily, blood rushing in his ears. He kicked over a trash can, hoping to slow them down if only a little bit, as he darted into an alley.
But in his desperation to get away, he’d lost sight of where he was going.
Izuku crashed into a chain-link fence at full speed, grunting at the impact. A glance over his shoulder showed that the bullies were, indeed, set back by the trash can he’d knocked over, though it didn’t take long for them to get their bearings and round the corner as well. Izuku made a high-pitched noise of distress as he looked back and forth between the fence and his pursuers, and with no other choice left, he started to climb.
He’d never scaled a chain-link fence before, but the adrenaline helped him move relatively quickly.
It was nowhere near quick enough.
He learned that, when he felt a pair of hands grasping his ankles, and yet another grabbing his backpack. His arms were forced to let go of the fence as the backpack was ripped from his shoulders, and he cried out in pain as his bony spine hit the concrete.
It took him a couple of seconds to get up after that, but he was relieved to note that he hadn’t hit his head.
As Izuku stood up, he looked over and found the grey-eyed boy rifling through his bag, and for a moment, he was confused. It was only after he pulled his hands out and revealed one of his Kacchan journals that everything clicked for Izuku.
“Number three?” The bully snorted, looking at the cover. “You have three of these?” The other kids laughed.
“Give it back!” Izuku shouted, lunging at the boy. Two of the others grabbed him by his arms and held him back, while two more continued to ransack his backpack. A couple more journals were withdrawn.
“Lemme see,” The grey-eyed boy said, sneering as he examined the other two journals — number two and number four. “Oh my god, four. Seriously, Midoriya? four? Is there an fifth, or—”
“I said, give them back!” He yelled, struggling against the steel grip that held him to no avail. The other kids seemed to collectively roll their eyes.
“Yeah, right.” The main boy scoffed. “Let’s see what you’ve got in here, huh?” Izuku’s eyes widened as the grey-eyed boy opened the notebook.
“What the hell is this?” He narrowed his eyes. “ ‘Kacchan’?”
“Wasn’t that the name of his so-called ‘best friend’?” One of the kids restraining him, the boy with the glasses, chimed in.
“Oh, yeah! I remember.”
Izuku watched, angry tears welling up in his eyes as the boy started flipping through the pages, an ominous grin steadily growing across his face as he did. Izuku wasn’t certain about what exactly was written in number three, but he panicked at the possibilities of what it could’ve been, swallowing down the metallic taste that coated his tongue.
“This is so creepy. If this ‘Kacchan’ guy’s actually real, I almost feel bad for him. Maybe we should show this to him.” The grey-eyed boy looked up at him quizzically. Izuku glared intensely, tears threatening to spill, but he didn’t say anything.
“But he’s not real, is he?” The bully stated, tilting his head. “You just made him up.”
“Just give that back, you—!”
“That makes sense, though.” He continued, laughing. “For a dumb, quirkless kid like you, I mean. Of course your best friend’s imaginary.” He sneered, stepping closer. “Of course your only friend is imaginary.”
Izuku continued to struggle, furious tears now streaming down his face as the grey-eyed boy grew closer to him. He flinched when the bully carelessly dropped the notebook, its spine hitting the concrete and causing it to fall open on one of many sketches of Kacchan. Izuku stared at the page with a sort of desperation, and when the bully took notice of the direction of his gaze, he scoffed.
“What was it you said back then? That ‘Kacchan’ would make us ‘pay’?”
Izuku clenched his teeth.
“Hate to break it to you, Midoriya, but ‘Kacchan’ isn’t even real.” He laughed, raising his fist. Izuku saw it happen, as though in slow motion. “Your stupid imaginary friend can’t help you.”
Izuku’s eyes squeezed shut, as he felt the telltale disturbance in the air that always proceeded the first punch. He kept his eyes closed, his chin lowered and his teeth gritted as he awaited the inevitable.
But it never came.
Suddenly, from his right side, there came a strong gust of wind, accompanied by a whirring noise that seemed to mute the voices around him. The hands that were holding him abruptly let go, and he took the opportunity to lurch away, moving toward the wall.
As his eyes blinked open, his jaw dropped at the sight before him — all five other kids, scrambling to get up from the ground.
They’d been knocked off their feet.
Izuku pushed back his hair as the wind whipped through it, holding it away from his face as he stared, dumbstruck, at the others. It was bizarre, because although the air current was undeniably strong, Izuku felt that he, himself, was in no danger of falling; it was as though the wind had been hitting him from all sides with equal strength, thus keeping him steady. It was as though he were the center of... something.
Whatever that may be.
The grey-eyed boy glared as he attempted to stand, but just as he found his footing, a crack of thunder broke through the air, and the vibrations knocked him down again. Izuku’s heart was beating a mile a minute. He wasn’t sure how long it would last, but he wasn’t planning on sticking around long enough to find out.
Taking a hesitant step forward, he found that the feeling of wind from all sides seemed to follow him. It was strange, to say the least, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it. He was too busy scrambling to grab his belongings — the three journals and his backpack — so he could vacate the scene as fast as possible.
Izuku ran through a world of white noise. A minute after clearing the alleyway, he felt his pocket of stability in the storm beginning to waver, and by the time he got home, the wind affected him just the same as anything else. As soon as he saw the apartment building, he dashed toward the door as quickly as the storm would allow, thunder rattling his ribcage as the lightning flashed above him, like fractures in the sky.
Izuku slammed the front door behind him, and within a second, his mother was calling out to him.
“Izuku?!” She shouted, clearly distressed as she emerged from the kitchen. A look of relief crossed her face upon seeing him, but it didn’t stop her lecture. “Where were you?! I was worried sick!” She told him, kneeling down to pull him into a tight hug. With his head over her shoulder, Izuku did his best to wipe the tears from his eyes before she could see them.
“I’m sorry, mom!” He told her.
“I’ve told you a hundred times to come home as soon as class ends! What were you doing?” She asked, squeezing him tighter against her. “Did you get caught in the storm?”
Izuku said nothing, but a small sob slipped out, and evidently, that was all the answer his mother needed.
“Sweetie,” She said, her voice soothing, if slightly choked up. She rubbed his back in soft, circular motions and told him, “It’s okay. You’re home, now. It’s okay…”
Izuku watched the weather report with his mother, glancing out the window every once in a while at the heavy rain. They said that the storm was expected to last deep into the night, and when darkness fell, they were proven right.
Izuku went to bed a little while after the sunset, feeling warm and cozy in his pajamas, even as the storm raged on outside.
The weatherman said that this was a long time coming. That the thunder, the rain, and the strong winds fell in line with a forecast from five days prior. Everything was as they anticipated, and everything would most likely continue as such for the rest of the night, and all they could do was patiently wait for the storm to run its course.
For a while, that was enough for Izuku. It was no big deal; they’d seen the storm coming. The fact that it happened to hit at that precise moment was nothing more than a coincidence.
Izuku lay awake for a while that night, staring at the ceiling. Lightning illuminated his room, and his gaze was drawn to his drawing of Kacchan for the briefest of moments, before he turned to stare idly out the window.
The moon was obscured by clouds, though when lightning struck, Izuku found that it was faintly visible. As the storm persisted, the raindrops that poured down his window made it seem as though it were melting. Thunder shook his bedroom, and it was only then that things seemed to click into place.
Back in the alleyway, the first gust of wind had come from his right side. He remembered being held there, his back to the chain-link fence. Izuku placed himself in the memory and did his best to recall his surroundings. Then, it hit him.
The wind had come from his right side — the same side where the sturdy, brick wall of a six story building had been. The wind had come from his right side.
Izuku turned over onto his side and watched the blue light flicker in his room at uneven intervals. Another crack of thunder made his bed frame vibrate. He’d never liked thunderstorms, and this one was in particular had been quite unforgiving.
Blearily, Izuku’s gaze once more wandered over to his drawing of Kacchan, hanging innocuously beneath the flickering light. It occurred to him that he’d never felt safer.