“Let’s get on with the first battle in this tournament!” Present Mic shouts over the loudspeakers. “First up, they made a big impression in the first round, and then maintained first place throughout the second round! From the Support Course, Midoriya Izuku!!”
Izuku steps up into the ring as the crowd cheers. They're still in awe that there are people who would cheer for them, but they don’t have time to think about it right now.
“And the challenger! Well, he was on Midoriya’s team in the second round, but other than that I don’t think he’s done anything interesting. From the General Education Course, Shinsou Hitoshi!!”
“Wow, thanks,” Shinsou mutters, standing across from Izuku now. “I’m flattered.” (Of course, he says this in the flattests voice possible).
“You ready?” Izuku asks, giving him a discreet thumbs up.
Shinsou lets out a small huff of laughter, and gives a small thumbs up back. “Oh, definitely.”
From a podium to the side, Cementoss announces, “The winner can be decided in a number of ways! If you step out of bounds, you are out of the round; If you are unable to move, you are out of the round; And lastly, if you simply say that you give up, you are out of the round. Now then, let’s begin. Three… Two… One… Go!”
This is going to be ridiculous, Izuku thinks to themself as they and Shinsou walk up to each other.
Then, as loud as they can, they both yell, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, I DECLARE A THUMB WAR! FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, WHO CAN KEEP THEIR THUMB STRAIGHT?!”
"…Wait what.” Present Mic speaks first. “What. What are they doing.”
“ Obviously ,” Aizawa says, “It’s a thumb war.”
“…I don’t get it. Why though?” Present Mic asks, bewildered.
“Honestly, it’s about the best they can do with what they’re given,” Aizawa reasons. “Shinsou’s quirk is far more effective when fighting an enemy that doesn’t know about it. Since they were on a team together last round, it’s easy to assume that Midoriya would know about Shinsou’s quirk, putting him at a disadvantage. With Midoriya’s gadgets, if those were involved, the battle would be incredibly one sided. Then, taking into account Midoriya not using their gadgets, and Shinsou not using his quirk; neither of them have been in a Hero Class, and so it’s likely that neither has practical hand to hand combat training. So, instead of both of them doing something they have no experience in, which would get them injured very easily, they chose to do the thumb war.”
“…It’s still a little anticlimactic though,” Present Mic mumbles.
“Anticlimactic or not, I’m sure Recovery Girl appreciates this approach,” Aizawa mutters back.
“How do we even commentate a thumb wrestle, though? We can’t see their thumbs!”
If Izuku is honest, they're pretty sure that both they and Shinsou are dragging on the thumb war just to hear their reactions.
“This is great,” Izuku says under their breath, barely keeping themself from laughing.
“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Shinsou mutters.
“If you want to, you can just beat me up and I’d be too thrown off to retaliate,” Izuku shrugs.
“Where’s the fun in that though?”
For a second, Izuku manages to pin Shinsou’s thumb down, but then Shinsou clenches his hand just enough for his nails to dig in. Izuku’s thumb slips and Shinsou is free again.
Izuku frowns at him. “Using your nails as weapons is cheating.”
“All is fair in love and war,” Shinsou mutters back, without blinking an eye. “As stupid as this is, I’m not just going to let you win easily.”
“Of course not.”
They (well, their thumbs ) continue dodging around each other.
At some point, Shinsou manages to hold Izuku’s thumb down for a second, and in a moment of panic, Izuku steps on Shinsou’s foot.
“Ow,” Shinsou says it more in surprise than in pain. “And you wanna tell me about cheating. I’m pretty sure stomping is against the rules.”
“There are no rules.”
There’s another long span of silence while they thumb wrestle, but both are focusing more on dodging than attacking, so not much is being done.
“Okay, rule change,” Izuku mumbles. “First person to hold down the other thumb for three seconds wins. We can’t let this go on forever .”
“Agreed. Additional suggestion; we both stop dodging, because nothing is getting done.”
“Fair. Okay, on three,” Izuku says. “Three… two… one!”
At the same moment, both of their thumbs strike out against each other. One pins the other, and three, two, one-!
A heavy sigh. “I lose, then.”
Very confused, Cementoss announces, “The winner is… Midoriya Izuku, I guess?”
The crowd breaks out into confused cheering.
“That was… an interesting match, no question!” Present Mic announces. “Um. The next match begins in five minutes.”
Shinsou and Izuku walk off together. “…Good game, Midoriya.” Shinsou says.
“You too!” Izuku cheerfully says back, although, after a second, their smile drops. “Except, um… I am sorry about the fact that you can’t move on. I wish things could have been different.”
Shinsou sighs. “Well, it wasn’t up to us, so I don’t blame you. I guess from now on, all I can do is cheer you on from the sidelines.”
“You’re taking this very well.”
In response, Shinsou shrugs. “I’ll get bitter about it later. For now, I’ll just settle with being happy for you. You deserve to be in the Hero Course just as much as I do.”
When Izuku starts making their way up to the stands to watch the other matches, the first person they run into is Kirishima.
“Heey! Midoriya!” Kirishima waves. “Yo, that match?! Hilarious!! Oh man, you really are a riot!”
“Ah, thanks,” Izuku accepts the praise awkwardly. Suddenly, the events from right before the match flash in their mind and they decide to ask, “Hey Kirishima-kun, do you know what happened with Orenji-san right before the match?”
Kirishima freezes. “Ah, well… yeah.”
“…Well?” Izuku pushes. “What happened? I ran into her and she seemed so upset…”
“She… she got in a… let's say, argument with Bakugou.”
“Bakugou?” Izuku repeats. It’s not surprising that Bakugou would be one for an argument, but Orenji seemed like a reasonable person when they met her, so why would she get in an argument? “What did they get in an argument about?”
Kirishima hesitates for a second, then mumbles, “…It was about… about you, actually. Bakugou was saying some pretty… harsh stuff about you being quirkless and all. And Orenji… well, because she developed her quirk late, she was functionally quirkless for most of her life, so she kind of took it… sort of personal. They argued, Bakugou said some pretty mean things to her too, and then she ran off.”
Now Izuku feels guilty. She’d gotten so upset because she was trying to stick up for me…? “…Do you know where I can find her?” Izuku asks after a second.
After a moment of consideration, Kirishima suggests, “She might be in the Class A waiting room right now. She probably wants to be alone, and we’re all out here watching the other matches, so it would be empty…”
Izuku nods to him. “Thanks. I’ll see you around.”
“You too! Good luck!”
Kirishima waves at them again as they walk away.
When they get there, they see Orenji sitting at one of the tables. Her eyes are red from crying, she’s still sniffling a little, and she’s typing something into her phone furiously.
“Orenji-san?” Izuku calls softly, hoping not to startle her.
Her head snaps up. “O-oh, it’s you,” She mumbles, turning off her phone and setting it aside. She quickly rubs at her eyes to try and get rid of any more tears, but she’s not crying anymore, so it’s more out of habit than anything. “Sorry, I… I just, um…”
“I heard what happened,” Izuku says. “Bakugou can be pretty…” they trail off, unable to think of a good enough word to describe it.
“He was just,” Orenji murmurs, “He was saying such awful things, and I couldn’t stand it.”
There’s a pause. “Um, I wanted to say thank you.”
Orenji looks over to them curiously. “For what?”
“Earlier, in the cavalry battle. Your team helped out my team. And I didn’t get to thank you for that.”
She shrugs. “It wasn’t much. You probably could have handled it.”
“…Anyway, I’m sure it’s almost time for the next match by now.” Izuku sighs. “We should head back out there so we can watch it.”
“We?” Orenji echoes, surprised.
“I don’t think I should just leave you here. It must be really lonely.”
Orenji doesn’t answer for a moment. Then, quietly, she says, “Okay. Let’s go.”
Shouto walks down the hallway, making his way to the stadium.
Midoriya's words echo through his head with every step. Don't do something purely out of spite, huh…?
Just then, he feels the temperature rise, and immediately he tenses.
"I have to get to the stadium," He cuts in. "Wouldn't want me to be late, would you?"
"We're not done with our discussion from earlier-" Endeavor growls.
Shouto pushes past him and walks down the hallway faster than before. “Yes we are.”
“You need to stop being so selfish,” Endeavor continues anyway, “This childish tantrum has gone on for long enough!”
Shouto doesn’t reply. He focuses on the end of the hall ahead of him.
“Are you even listening to me?! Shouto!”
He grits his teeth and presses on forward. Shut up. Just shut up.
“Fine! I’ll let it slide this time, because you have a match to get to. But we will finish this conversation at some point, Shouto!”
No, we won’t, He thinks bitterly.
Shouto doesn’t even notice, but any thought of listening to Midoriya’s advice is gone from his mind.
Izuku and Orenji separate once they get to the stands. Izuku invites her to sit with them and the others, but she politely declines (“I think I’ll go sit with my friends. They were probably worried about me, so I should reassure them”) .
Just in time for the match, Izuku sits down with Shinsou, Hatsume, Natsuki, and Sora.
As soon as they sit in the chair, Garby uses everyone’s shoulders as a bridge to get to them.
Hatsume pouts. “I wanted to snuggle him longer…”
Izuku shrugs. “Sorry. Guess I’m just a Garby magnet.”
The little screen on Garby’s forehead shows a large smiley face.
With that, everyone turns their attention to the area below as the announcements start.
“Next up! First we have a student who came in on recommendations and has maintained a respectable second place so far in the festival! It’s Todoroki Shouto from the Hero Course!
“And for the challenger- Sero Hanta, also from the Hero Course!”
“I like how he pointed out that I hadn’t done much,” Shinsou mutters, “But when it’s a kid from the Hero Course, oh no, it doesn’t matter if he hasn’t done much, does it?”
“Someone sounds bitter,” Sora says. “…You’re not wrong though.”
“Would it kill them to at least pretend not to have favoritism?” Natsuki mumbles. “It’s very unprofessional.”
They fall silent as the match starts.
And for a moment, the fight almost seems fair.
As soon as Cementoss declares "Go", Sero instantly lashes out and traps Todoroki in tape.
I hope Todoroki wins, Izuku thinks to themself absentmindedly. It would be a shame if he was trying so hard to win, only to get out in the first round-
A literal glacier forms in the center of the stadium. Sero is completely trapped in ice.
"Um…" Shinsou mutters, "You know what? I'm not that sad about losing to you anymore. Have fun with that."
"It's been nice knowing you," Hatsume says.
"…Oof." Is all Sora says in reaction.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Izuku mumbles. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go scream into the void."
"We'll have another five minute break-" Present Mic announces, but is interrupted. After a moment, his voice returns, "And, um. If anyone happens to see… a weasel? Could you please report it to the main office…?"
Everyone looks over at Garby. Garby's screen continues to show a smile, but it now it's definitely a smug one.
"…He's a ferret, not a weasel," Izuku reasons.
"Wh…" Natsuki mumbles, confused, "What did he even do?"
"Nothing that I'm not proud of," Izuku smiles.
"Well," Hatsume stands up, "I have to get ready for my match! See you all after!"
She skips off.
"…I get the feeling she's planning something devious." Shinsou observes as they watch her leave.
"Couldn't be any worse than planning out a thumb war with your opponent," Sora shrugs.
"I mean, I'm on Aizawa's side for that one," Natsuki reasons, "It was pretty much all they could do."
"I'd say it was half logic and half spite," Shinsou says.
Izuku is only half paying attention to them as they chat away. For the most part, their attention is elsewhere. Elsewhere, in this case, being the stadium below them.
Todoroki is melting away the ice that he created.
And, though Izuku isn’t sure why, something about the situation makes him seem incredibly lonely.
Mei skips down the hallway, on a hunt.
Iida Tenya was the name, right…? Mei hums to herself. He was one of the ones on Team Todoroki…
She continues wandering for a while, until-
"Excuse me!! Hello!!" She calls, jogging to catch up to him.
Iida stops and turns around, confused. "Ah, hello…?"
"You're Iida Tenya, right?"
Mei points a thumb to herself. "I'm Hatsume Mei! Your competition in the next match!"
"Ah, yes, I remember." Iida nods. "Did you want anything…?"
"Well, ya see…" Mei mumbles, trying to keep a convincing act. She feels a little bad about deceiving him, but hey, she'll let him win afterwards.
It's a win-win!
"Now then! Time for the third match!" Present Mic shouts through the loudspeakers. "First we have a contender from the first place Cavalry Battle team! From the Support Course, Hatsume Mei!!"
"I feel like Present Mic just hates me," Shinsou mutters.
"Why would he hate you?" Hikari asks.
Shinsou shrugs. "…might be bad at English class. Not important."
"Then… huh? What's this?!"
Hikari pieces together Hatsume's plan the instant Iida steps on stage.
"Oh dear," Midoriya echoes right afterwards.
"Iida Tenya!" Present Mic shouts, "Why are you wearing a bunch of support gear?"
"It was given to me by my opponent!" Says Iida, covered from head to toe in all kinds of gadgets. "She claimed that the fight would be too unfair if I didn't have support gear as versatile as hers. Why? Is there a problem?"
"The rules state that you need to have paperwork beforehand to use additional gear."
"What?" Iida gasps, surprised. "I did not know! I'm very sorry. I shouldn't have forgotten something as important as that; I was just so moved by my opponent's sportsmanship…"
Cementoss considers it for a moment. "…I'll allow it for this one match!"
"Fantastic!" Hatsume shouts, and…
Shinsou squints. "Is… is that a microphone?"
Hikari and Midoriya share a look. "Yes, it is."
A whole fifteen minutes later, Hatsume steps out of the ring. "That's all the support items I needed to show off. Goodbye everyone!"
"I can't believe we just watched an entire ad campaign." Shinsou mutters, looking more tired than ever.
"On the contrary, I'm not quite sure what else Hatsume would have done," Hikari sighs.
"That was a completely Hatsume-chan thing to do," Sora shrugs.
Midoriya nods. "Not surprised at all."
Actually, Hikari had found Hatsume's… advertisement to be quite fascinating. She has no idea how someone could develop that many gadgets in such a short amount of time. On top of that, Hikari definitely wants to ask Hatsume how some of them even work…
"So far we've had a thumb war, a match that lasted three seconds, and an advertisement. Hopefully, the next match will actually have a fight?" Present Mic sighs.
"I don't know what you're complaining about." Aizawa comments. "Isn't it more original than just fighting? Besides, I think Recovery Girl would be thrilled."
Present Mic doesn't respond for a while, and Hikari can only imagine the expression he's wearing.
"…Next match will be in five minutes."
The next few matches pass rather uneventfully, but Izuku doesn't mind much.
Ibara beats Kaminari in seconds.
The fight between Yaoyorozu and Shoji goes on for a while, but eventually Yaoyorozu creates a bunch of tape and binds Shoji's limbs together, immobilizing him.
In the next match, Uraraka almost immediately sends Kirishima floating through the air. Izuku can't help but feel that was a bit of a bad match-up for Kirishima, but they're still glad that Uraraka won.
In the match between Asui and Ashido, Ashido holds off her opponent for a while, but eventually Asui manages to grab a hold of her and toss her out of the ring.
Now it's time for the last match before mine… Izuku thinks. Absentmindedly, they go through a process of elimination, trying to figure out who goes next.
Well… the two that haven't gone yet would be-
It hits them like a bolt of lightning.
No, it can't be…
"Now! With the second highest score in the entrance exams, we have Bakugou Katsuki from the Hero Course! Versus! Orenji Ketsueki, also from the Hero Course!!"
The whole match is just hard for Izuku to watch. They route for Orenji, but…
Simply put, it isn't a fair match. No matter what Orenji does, her quirk doesn't work well against Bakugou's, especially not in a setting like this. And Bakugou… well… he’s never been one to pull any punches.
Despite their best efforts, Izuku can't help but feel a little bitter about it. They can't even say that it's solely because they wanted Orenji to win, because they hardly know her. Really, on top of that, they had just wanted Bakugou to lose. They knows it's petty and selfish, but they can't help but feel that way. They just want someone to finally beat Bakugou.
"The next match is on in five minutes!" Present Mic's voice rings through the stadium again.
Izuku sighs. "Guess it's my turn now, huh?"
"Good luck," Shinsou mutters. "Try not to die."
"I'll see what I can do," Izuku mumbles. They stand up and hand Garby off to Hatsume. "Can you watch Garby again? And make sure he doesn't get away. I don't want Endeavor to fry him."
"Why would Endeavor want to fry your ferret?" Natsuki asks.
"Don't worry about it," Izuku says, and leaves before they can question them further.
For a second they think about going to the waiting room, but they don't really want to. They doubt they could just sit somewhere without wanting to get up and move again. They're too nervous.
For now, they stick to wandering around (though, they're still conscious of staying close enough to the stadium so that they can get there when they needs to). In the back of their mind, they hears footsteps behind them, but they choose to ignore them at first. Anyone could be wandering around-
"You," A voice growls.
Izuku turns around and nearly jumps out of their skin.
Endeavor is standing there, and he's… well, just about as angry and unfriendly looking as normal. (Izuku almost wishes Garby was here to scratch his face up again.)
"What do you want?" Izuku asks eventually, when they find their voice.
"Drop out of the tournament," Endeavor says simply.
Izuku is almost sure they've misheard. "I'm… sorry, but what?"
"I said, drop out." Despite the fact that they hardly even know each other, Endeavor's tone is commanding, almost even threatening.
"And why should I do that?"
"You already beat Shoto in the previous two rounds, which was bad enough," Endeavor growls, "but if you beat him again now, he really will be out. Even if it's because of his own stupid stubbornness, I can't let my son get beaten by some… some-"
"Some quirkless nobody?" Izuku repeats what the "hero" had said earlier before they can think better of it.
"Exactly," Endeavor agrees, as if completely disregarding that it could be considered hurtful to say such things.
Of course he doesn't care, Izuku thinks.
"…I'll consider it," Izuku says, turning away.
"You had better. Or else."
"Or else what?"
"You don't want to know."
Endeavor stalks off before Izuku can even think of doing something that they might regret.
Izuku considers what Endeavor said for approximately half a second before immediately tossing it in the metaphorical trash bin. It doesn't matter what Endeavor wants, they're going to fight Todoroki fair and square, and the best of them will win.
Strangely, they almost feel more determined now. …Spite is fine as a motivator as long as it's not the only motivator, Izuku reasons.
Oh, yes. Spite is definitely not the only motivator here.
“…Okay, but really.” Hitoshi says, now that Midoriya has left. “What did Garby do? ”
“Well, let’s look at what we know.” Sora reasons. “We know it was something that pissed off Endeavor, because Endeavor apparently wants to fry him, and we know from that, that the person who asked for the announcement earlier was probably Endeavor too. Whatever Garby did, Midoriya is proud of it. And lastly. Garby is a little shit.”
They all sit around contemplating.
“I got nothing,” Hatsume shrugs.
“On the other hand,” Natsuki says, “I wonder what the heck Endeavor did to make Midoriya so angry with him.”
“What makes you think they're pissed off at Endeavor?” Hitoshi asks.
Natsuki holds up her phone. It’s pulled up to the group chat;
[Support Group For A Reckless Vigilante Idiot]
Reckless Vigilante Idiot:
[Image attachment] (The image shows a picture of a burning trash bag)
Hey look, it’s Endeavor.
“…Okay, first off, that’s hilarious, and second off, they're not really wrong?” Sora laughs.
Natsuki’s phone buzzes, and a new message pops up.
#1 Support Course Student:
yoooo is it endeavor hating hours, lads???
Hitoshi glances over at Hatsume over Natsuki’s shoulder. “You’re literally sitting right here next to us and you’re texting in the group chat?”
“I may be here, but Midoriya-kun isn’t.”
Natsuki’s phone buzzes again.
Reckless Vigilante Idiot:
It’s always Endeavor hating hours, lads.
“Okay yeah, I see your point now, they're definitely pissed at Endeavor.”