Izuku Midoriya had been four years old when their hopes had been shattered at their feet for the first time.
In a world where almost every person had a super power, a quirk, they were quirkless.
And according to literally everyone, apparently, you couldn’t be a hero if you didn’t have a quirk.
Even if being a hero was all that Izuku had ever wanted.
At the time, Izuku had shrunk in on themself and instead of giving it up, they only became more enamored with heroes. The heroes of modern times, and… the heroes from old comic books, back before quirks, too.
Superhero comics from back before quirks emerged were hard to find nowadays, and even when you could find them, the way the stories depicted the heroes was noticeably different from how modern heroes worked now.
But, a hero is a hero, and so Izuku loved them anyway.
And… inevitably, of course it was a comic from before quirks had appeared that was the one that gave them the answer that they needed:
A hero that, instead of fighting with a superpower, used complex gadgets and technology.
Izuku was still young then; they didn’t know exactly what they would be getting themself into by doing this. But that didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that they had their hope back.
"A gigantification quirk…" Izuku mumbles to themself, quickly scribbling down as many thoughts about it into their notebook as they can. "Depending on how exactly that works, it could offer a lot of interesting battle strategies. Is the size controllable? Is it possible to shrink instead of grow? What about…"
After writing a few more thoughts, Izuku quickly switches notebooks. “Would it be possible to replicate a gigantification quirk though? Probably not literally, but it could be possible to fake it. Villains might be intimidated by an enemy that looks larger…”
This is how Izuku takes their notes, and it has been that way for as long as they remember. First, taking notes on the quirk and hero themselves, and second, taking notes on possible ways that they could recreate the quirk or its effects.
Sure, by this point their shelves are becoming a bit cluttered with notebooks, but it’s manageable. They probably could have stopped taking physical notes a while ago but… something about seeing all of the notebooks together on their shelf fills them with a warm feeling. They suppose, in a way, it helps them feel more confident.
They have actual concrete plans for how to be a hero.
…Even if almost no one else wants to believe in them.
Izuku finishes writing and snaps the notebook shut.
I can be a hero, even if the only one who believes in me is me.
Their day at school is… less than stellar, but honestly, isn’t it always?
It had been more stressful today, though. The class was talking about all their plans for the future, and well.
No one would hesitate to tell Izuku that they couldn’t be a hero, especially not Bakugou. (The teacher hadn’t said anything about it, but only because he had given up trying long ago.)
Once the class was calmed down, they were happy to ignore them, though. It seems they only care that they're there when they want to remind them that they can’t be a hero, that they're quirkless, that they're useless, that they're just Deku.
...Izuku shakes their head. It doesn’t matter what they think. It’s never mattered.
They open their notebook to write down a few more notes that they thought of during class-
And the notebook is suddenly snatched from their hands.
Izuku looks up to see Bakugou holding the notebook, a scowl on his face. ...Ah.
“We’re not done talking yet, Deku.” He growls.
“Can you please just give me the notebook back?” Izuku asks quietly. “I get it. You don’t think I can be a hero. There’s nothing to talk about.”
Apparently, this is the wrong thing to say. Bakugou claps his hands together on the notebook, and it explodes. Izuku yelps in surprise.
“Hey- you can’t-!”
Ignoring Izuku’s protest, Bakugou throws the now-scorched notebook over his shoulder and out the window. At this, Izuku lets out a wordless cry of dismay.
Bakugou grabs Izuku by the shoulder, and leans in closer, an intense glare on his face. “The problem here, is that you still think you can be a hero.”
“There’s no rules that say I can’t be a hero,” Izuku protests meekly.
The hand on their shoulder gives a small explosive pop, and Izuku bites back a hiss of pain. Bakugou leans in even further, and Izuku flinches back.
“Listen, Deku, very carefully. Don’t. Apply. To. UA. Got it?” Bakugou says, and the ‘or else’ is very strongly implied.
Izuku doesn’t want to agree with him, because that would make them a liar. They have no intention of ever giving up on applying to UA. But they don’t want to flat out say ‘no’ either, because that… that never ends well. So instead, they look down, away from Bakugou’s glaring eyes.
Finally, Bakugou lets go, pushing them back as he does so. Izuku still doesn’t look up, but they hear Bakugou’s footsteps go further and further away. They hear the door open.
“Y’know,” Bakugou says, “if you want to be a hero so bad, then maybe there is a solution. You could take a swan dive off the roof, and pray that you’re born with a quirk in your next life.”
Izuku flinches backwards at Bakugou’s harsh words, but they keeps their gaze glued to the floor. Let him think he’s winning. Just let him think he’s winning, and he’ll stop.
Seemingly satisfied, Bakugou leaves the room, slamming the door behind him. Izuku finally looks up.
First, they glance out the window that Bakugou had thrown their notebook out of. They find it, floating at the top of a pond.
Izuku lets out a heavy sigh, gathers their stuff and heads down to get the notebook.
It isn’t all bad, Izuku tries to tell themself, like they always days when things get to be like this. Mom still believes in you.
At first, when Izuku had been diagnosed as quirkless, their mother was about to give up right along with everyone else. But then, when they had come up with an actual way to be a hero, she had supported them completely.
She worries for their safety sometimes, though. Izuku knows that. They promise her they’ll be careful, and while Izuku isn’t necessarily sure she believes them when they says that, she lets them continue anyway. For that, they're grateful.
They're lost in thought as they pass underneath a bridge (though, it’s more like a tunnel honestly).
Izuku contemplates whether they should head home right now, or if they should mess with their gadgets for a while. They would go out and mess with their gadgets after getting home anyway, but part of their mood makes them want to do it sooner rather than later.
Messing with their gadgets always cheers them up whenever they're upset-
They're broken away from their thoughts by a sudden crash from behind.
Izuku whirls around. Is that… a villain…?!
It was a villain.
If that had been the end of it, Izuku would definitely, without a doubt, say that this was probably one of the worst days of their life.
That had not been the end of it though, and their day went from “worst of their life” to “best of their life” so fast it almost gave them whiplash.
“You’re All Might!” Izuku squeals in awe.
… Izuku had been saved from the villain by All Might, the number one hero, and Izuku’s all time favorite.
And All Might had given Izuku his autograph. So. Sounds like a best day, there.
“Well!” All Might says, “Now that I’ve finished dealing with that villain, I’m afraid that I must take my leave.”
“You’re… leaving already?” Izuku can’t help the disappointment that leaks into their voice. The meeting feels so… short. Realistically, they suppose, of course All Might doesn't have all the time in the world but… already?
“Afraid so! Heroes are always fighting time as well as villains,” All Might tells them apologetically.
“Can I ask you a question, before you go? I’ll make it quick, I promise,” Izuku pleads desperately.
All Might hesitates. “One question. All right kid? Just one.”
Izuku takes in a deep breath. I need to know. I need to know if he would believe in me… “Do you think that someone who is quirkless could be a hero?” They ask.
For a long moment All Might says nothing, and just stares back at them.
“I’m… I’m sorry, kid. But… being a hero is dangerous work. I cannot simply tell you that you could be a hero without a quirk.”
It almost physically hurts Izuku to hear those words. It’s like a sting, right in their heart. “But, I… There are plenty of heroes who rely on support gear more than they do their quirk, so if I just…!”
“I’m sorry, my boy, but it’s still too dangerous.” All Might says softly, apologetic. “Heroes get hurt all the time. Even me. Fighting villains without a quirk will just get you hurt.”
Izuku looks away.
“…That was one question, so… I have to go now. I’m sorry,” All Might apologizes one last time before taking off into the sky.
Numbly, Izuku watches him fly away.
He doesn’t believe in me.
Just like everyone else.
He doesn’t believe in me.
Something tells them that this day is now plummeting the list of “best days ever”.
Izuku stops by their home first, but as soon as they drop off their stuff and change out of their school uniform, they head down to Dagobah Beach.
Dagobah has… an infamous reputation. The beach had always seemed to be a place where garbage ended up flowing to, but then the locals had to use it as a dumping site for all of their garbage as well. So now, instead of a nice beach, it’s mountains and mountains of garbage.
For Izuku, though, it’s like a perfect building ground.
People say that if you look hard enough, you can find just about anything in the garbage on Dagobah Beach. Well, Izuku can agree with that statement; the garbage is where they find almost all their parts for building new gadgets.
And not only is the beach a good place to find new parts, it’s a good place to test out their gadgets too. Plenty of potential targets, and no one ever comes snooping around so they don’t have to worry about anyone messing with their stuff.
Izuku reaches the beach and they make their way through the maze of garbage piles, already knowing the way to their spot by heart.
At Izuku’s spot is a nice little makeshift shed (built from spare parts of course); inside that is a work table, and three piles. Parts to use, gadgets that work, and gadgets that… well don’t quite work yet.
Izuku carefully grabs from the pile of non-working gadgets, sinks into the chair by the work table, and starts trying to turn it from non-working to functional.
The chair is surprisingly high quality- the only reason that Izuku can see for it being thrown out is the red paint splattered on it (and yes, it is paint, they checked that repeatedly). The paint splatterings over the tacky green pattern makes it look like the winner of an ugly Christmas sweater contest, but it’s undeniably comfortable, and Izuku loves it anyway.
Leaning back in the chair as they fiddle with the gadget, Izuku lets their mind wander, thinking.
Thinking about a lot of things, really, but mostly thinking about what All Might told them.
“I cannot simply tell you that you could be a hero without a quirk.” He had said.
...Well, he didn’t outright say ‘no’, Izuku reasons to themself. He just said that it wasn’t a simple answer.
...Oh, who am I kidding. The more doubtful side of their mind mumbles. I even asked him about using support gear to make up for the lack of quirk, and he still said that it would be too dangerous. That I would get hurt by villains too much if I don’t have a quirk.
A small (very, very, very small) part of them wants to be bitter about All Might telling them ‘no’. But on the other hand… All Might had just been worried for their safety. The hero, just… he just didn’t want Izuku to hurt themself by trying to be a hero.
That doesn’t mean I can’t do it though, They mutter to themself. All kinds of heroes get injured while fighting villains. It’s an inevitability.
Besides, what else am I gonna do with all these gadgets?
Izuku has spent almost ten years now, almost an entire decade, learning to make gadgets and then, well, making gadgets. What’re they supposed to do now? Just give up? Throw out all their gadgets- all the things they've learned up until now?
If nothing else, I guess working for a support company could be a secondary career path, Izuku thinks. They're not sure if they're taking that thought seriously though, because they know deep down what they want, more than anything else in the world;
Izuku wants to be a hero.
A small squeaking noise makes Izuku look up from the gadget in their hands. There’s a small white ferret perched on the table in front of them, wearing a small visor with a screen in the front. Currently, the screen is displaying a row of X’s.
“Garby, did you break your visor again?” Izuku sighs, already knowing the answer. Garby chirps in reply. Izuku carefully takes it off of him, and works at fixing it. “You’ve gotta stop breaking this thing. Or, maybe I should make you a new one that’s less breakable, huh?”
Luckily, it’s a very small issue, so it’s fixed in no time. Izuku carefully replaces the visor onto Garby’s head, and the small screen on it immediately displays:
“Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome.”
Garby looks up at Izuku, tilts his head, and the screen blinks and changes;
“What?” Izuku asks. Seemingly in response, Garby sniffs at Izuku’s shoulder- the one that Bakugou had burned earlier, they realize. “It’s okay. It’s only a little bit burned. You don’t have to worry about it.”
Izuku frowns. “What would you know, you’re a ferret.”
Garby chirps in reply, and jumps to their arm before crawling up to perch on their uninjured shoulder. Izuku goes back to fixing the gadget they had been working on before.
They really do appreciate Garby’s company. The ferret had first shown up a few years ago, and at the time Izuku thought it was a little… weird, but after a while Garby grew on them.
Izuku’s not entirely sure how intelligent he is, given that Garby is, in fact, just a ferret, but he seems to understand whatever Izuku tells him.
“You think I got it working this time?” Izuku asks, screwing the handle on the gadget back together. Garby gives a small squeak. Izuku steps outside of their small shack (just in case the gadget malfunctions; they wouldn’t want to accidentally ruin any of the working gadgets in there).
Izuku chooses their target (a small boulder), aims, and squeezes the trigger. A small beam flies from the gadget in their hand and hits the rock, kicking up dust and sand in the process.
The dust clears. There’s a hole in the center of the boulder, about the size of a fist in width and depth.
Izuku frowns at the gadget in their hand. It was supposed to crack the boulder apart. “Guess it still needs tweaking, huh...?”
All Might had said that Izuku couldn’t be a hero without a quirk. But, in all honesty, that was what everyone had tried to tell them all along; and if nothing else, Izuku is determined and stubborn.
They're going to take the UA entrance exam to the hero course. And they're going to try their absolute hardest to pass.
It’s not much to go on, but… determination has gotten Izuku this far already.