Izuku Midoriya was born in the wrong era.
The threads of time are all mixed up and nonsensical. That has to be the reason why a quirkless young man exists in a world where the god like characters that linger in comic book pages are real. To have power has become commonplace and anything else is mocked from kindergarten to high school, up until the point where you reach your twenties, are in college, and learn to deal with being quirkless by loading up your schedule to the point of exhaustion.
At age four Izuku had hoped for a miracle, body small and hands lacking the explosive energy of the boy he admired — and later loved.
At age fifteen he’d given up, freckled face washed with a curdled acceptance as the hero of all heroes spoke the truth he’d known since childhood. It was a chance encounter that failed to be the heroic origin story Izuku had wanted for himself.
Now he’s attending a well respected university. It’s not a hero school or agency, but he’d like to think his stellar GPA means something to someone. He’ll get a degree and a job. In what field? Who knows. Maybe a fresh semester of heavy math courses will help him figure it out. Science was fine last semester, but he’s not really digging the periodic table — even if he’s got it memorized.
“Oi. Are you spacing out again?”
Izuku looks up from his place behind the counter. It’s summertime and he’s making extra money at a comic book shop so small that it might as well be a hole in the wall. Places like this are a rarity these days. Why pick up a book about fictional heroes where real ones buy their groceries at the local market? Seriously, he swears he saw Eraserhead buying tea the other day, muttering about wanting to be in bed but, ugh, someone’s throat was sore from excessive yelling — what an annoyingly noisy quirk.
The comic book shop really has no business being open. At most they get random kids ducking in to beat the heat or a straggler who swears this is where the coffee shop’s supposed to be — it’s not, it’s at the end of the block, people get the six and the nine mixed up in their addresses. Sometimes, someone will give the comics an odd look, make a comment about them being quaint because, wow, can you imagine a world where only one hero existed?
“You’re doing it again, kid.”
“Huh? No, sir, I’m not.”
Izuku’s lying through his teeth. There’s a comic spread open on the counter in front of him that he’d been completely engrossed in. Some story about a man of steel who doubles as a reporter? He reminds Izuku of All-Might — smile big and warm like apple pie — but he’s got way too many quirks. Even compared to the other heroes he comes across he’s overloaded. Izuku supposes it comes with an easily exploitable price, though, whatever Kryptonite is. It’s interesting seeing what society thought quirks would be like before they emerged.
It’s interesting to see quirks from the perspective of being utterly impossible.
“I swear you do more reading than actual work,” the smaller man says. A retired hero that no one’s heard of, he goes by Gran Torino and owns the shop because, well, he can. He’s got nothing better to do with his time and has fond memories of reading these stories in his youth.
Izuku can’t blame him. He loves these books, too. They're more hopeful than the reality he lives in. Hell, too many quirks man ends up working with a quirkless billionaire who beats villains with, get this, his brain, gadgets, and combat training . Izuku still remembers getting scolded for the one attempt he made to play hero even if it had helped in the long run. Had this bat-person seen it, he would’ve made him his sidekick.
“Actually I alphabetized the back issues.” Izuku nods over to the drawers of comics. “I was taking a break.”
Gran Torino lifts his cane and shakes it at Izuku. “Don’t sass me,” but there’s an amused look on his face because he knows damn well that there’s no work to be done around here, but it doesn’t stop Izuku from inventing tasks for himself. Seriously, aren’t college kids supposed to slack off over the summer? Or get a job somewhere fun like an amusement park? “I’m gonna go grab lunch. Want anything?”
“Oh, sure,” then Izuku adds, “Make sure you grab yourself actual food and not just pastries.”
“Quiet you! Or you’re fired!” He’s not serious. He never is. Izuku gives the shop a warmth that hadn’t been there before — the wonders of having someone else to talk to during the day.
Izuku just smiles and says, “Get me the usual,” then goes back to reading his comic.
A few minutes pass and Izuku’s lost in the pages, seduced by this interpretation of heroes. They’re valued, but misunderstood. Still, the world eventually comes around, more importantly, the quirkless are able to really connect with heroes. Normal people, just like Izuku, are able to befriend them and help them in their own way — even love them if the mood is right, give or take some hardship. Izuku knows there’s no chance he’ll ever have a quirk, but being seen as, at least, capable would be nice.
The jingle from the front door breaks Izuku out of his thoughts but he’s not greeted by the smell of freshly fried food. He’s a little surprised to see a customer, of all things, but he puts on his best customer service smile and prepares to tell him that the coffee shop is down the street. “Good afternoon! Welcome to-”
“Empty the register, kid!”
Izuku blinks startled green eyes at the man. He’s a large, bulking figure who looks like he could punch a mountain into submission. As if confirming his suspicions, the veins of the robber’s arms pulsate an angry red, the lines coming together to create a grotesque blob of muscle. “A-all right,” Izuku says to the sandy haired blond. If he wants the measly few dollars that badly he can have them.
The low amount of cash irritates the man, and he responses by smashing his fists into the register, breaking it. “Really?! This all you got?! You got a safe somewhere?”
Izuku takes a shaky step back. It’s a selfish thought, but he wonders why, out of all the stores on this block, this villain had to walk into this one. “I-it’s on a timer. It takes ten minutes to-”
“Damnit! Heroes could be here by then!”
Right. Heroes. Not Izuku, but heroes. He’s not supposed to feel that surge of pain in his heart. He’s in his twenties now, goddamnit, and he knows that his comic book dreams aren’t real. Quirkless means you stand there, watch the robber storm out of the store, and stuff the cash in his pocket with a pissy little huff. With any luck he’ll run into Gran Torino and the old man will run circles around him before the proper authorities show up. It almost seems pointless to call them in, though. The only thing damaged is the register, Izuku’s pride-
And whatever gets caught in the explosion that suddenly rattles the ground outside. It’s such a powerful force that a couple of comics fall onto the floor, Izuku having to press his hands against the counter in an attempt to keep his balance. He can hear people coming together on the sidewalk, trying to get a look at the source of the explosion. Curiosity gets the best of Izuku — though he’s not sure why , he hasn’t rushed out to see a hero take on a villain in years. He steps outside the store in time to see the villain who’d robbed him in the middle of the street, trying to stand up but he’s obviously taken a huge hit from-
So that’s why there was an explosion.
“Look! It’s Ground Zero,” because of course someone has to announce it, as if the villain’s singed skin isn’t enough of an indicator. As Izuku watches the hero face off against the morbidly muscular thief — whose entire body looks like its been turned inside out, thumping like a beating heart — he realizes that this is exactly like the scene from a comic.
Because he’s standing there, watching a hero in action.
A hero who happens to be his ex-boyfriend, the Kacchan he loved from childhood through his entire high school career.