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He was found by a man with dark hair and yellow eyes. He stared at him with his bright, cold eyes and looked his malnourished form up and down, taking in his dirty face and hands. He turned to another man beside him, speaking to him in a firm, commanding tone in a language he didn't recognize. The second man nodded before turning away, disappearing out of his line of view.

He didn't know what to think. He had been curled up beneath a small bridge that was built over a creek for weeks now, and the last thing he expected was a man with pale skin and a lean frame to approach him. The man ducked underneath the lip of the bridge, crouching next to him. His canary yellow irises seemed to lock him in place despite the fact that his fight-or-flight instinct was screaming at him.

The man said something, though he didn't know what it was. He didn't speak this language, though he so dearly wanted to. He furrowed his eyebrows, though, because the man had a certain accent that he could recognize anywhere. The man waited a few more seconds before speaking again, though his tone wasn't nearly as gentle as it had been before. His eyes were narrowed dangerously, and his throat seemed to radiate a heat that he could feel from where he was. Before he could stop himself, his mouth opened and he spoke.

"I-I'm sorry," he whispered, "I don't k-know what you are saying."

The man blinked in surprise before the anger melted away from his features. "You speak Japanese?"

He didn't respond, instead pulling his scratchy blanket tighter around his shoulders and trying to make himself as small as possible. The man seemed to understand, however, and he continued to speak.

"My name is Midoriya Hisashi." The accent seemed so much more fitting now. The shaking in his hands started to calm at the strange familiarity to it. The man looked him over again before nodding to himself. "I want to help you. Do you have a name?"

He blinked, wracking his brain for an answer before slowly shaking his head. "No," he said quietly. He tensed as the cold air grew thicker, a faint smell permeating the oxygen he breathed in. Immediately, his nerves were tingling and his mind shot warnings to the rest of his body. He wanted nothing more than to run but those yellow eyes that reminded him so much of a snake's kept him still.

Hisashi hummed. He grabbed something from the pocket of his suit, which happened to be a clear, curved piece of glass outlined by a thick piece of plastic and a rubber band. It took him several seconds to realize what it was.

"I'm sure we'll find some name for you another time, then," Hisashi said as he pulled the mask over his face. "I apologize for doing this to you."

It didn't take him but two seconds to jump to his feet, a hand over his mouth and nose to block out the contaminated air, and he turn around to make a break for it. He ran face-first into the chest of the other man Hisashi had spoken to, whose broad shoulders and bulging muscles kept his collision from fazing him. The male grabbed him by his thin wrists, holding him in place, even as he kicked weakly at his strong legs.

The air grew thicker, and he tried not to breathe in the fumes as his vision slowly grew darker. It was a lost cause, and soon he felt his head loll against something warm. Big arms held him close to a chest, and with the last slips of consciousness he heard a name that would be burned into his mind for years to come.

"Ignition."

=====

His new name was Izuku. That's what his caretaker, Midoriya Inko, said anyway. Inko was a gentle woman who carried with her a terrible amount of anxiety and stress. She fretted over him many, many times, and she was the one who cleaned him up of all dirt and grime while he was still unconscious. She was the one who taught him because he was behind in his education. She was the one who let him watch television and dissect heroes and villains. She was the one who demonstrated how to make different arts and crafts. She was the one who let him be a little kid.

She was also the one who left for weeks on end for him to take care of himself because she couldn't take Hisashi's screaming.

Midoriya was hiding in his bedroom, listening quietly as the argument from downstairs continued to get louder. He was currently drawing the R-Rated Hero: Midnight in one of his notebooks, trying to fix her waist which didn't seem to cooperate with him. He finally managed to get it just right when a loud booming sound echoed throughout the house, and he flinched, his fingers trembling. He didn't like it when Hisashi used his quirk—especially when it was aimed at him. The way that his stomach churned and his nerves spiked in pain would always be burned into his memory as his skin was charred.

He took in a few deep breaths before continuing his notes, jotting down the advantages and disadvantages of revealing so much skin and cleavage. The heroine was a bit of an enigma to him-just the thought of showing off so much of one's body made him shudder-but she was definitely capable despite all the criticisms she received. While her quirk was no doubt capable and extremely useful in many cases, Midoriya mostly admired her for her ability to essentially fight quirkless in cases where using her quirk was detrimental. And while she was, in many situations, viewed as sadistic and unsuitable for hero work around kids, he could see the way her smirks would melt into sweet and gentle smiles as she helped those around her.

He replayed the video in front of him, analyzing her swift and fluid movements that worked well with her whip. Sure, most of her popularity and fan base were made up of sexual individuals, but he could see the love and care in her eyes as she saved others. While she seemed to be a hero mainly for the fame, Midoriya could see right through the facade.

And then, faintly, he wondered why she would even wear that facade in the first place. He tapped the end of the pencil against his lip, bringing up a video from when she was in her early twenties. Perhaps she used to be fame-driven when she first started her hero career, but as she grew older she grew out of her alias? It would explain why she was acting. Maybe she wanted to instill the idea into villains that she was still fearsome and powerful despite the fact that time affected her too and her age continued to climb?

Of course, this wasn't to say that she didn't like the fame that she earned through perfectly-timed poses and revealing costumes. She just seemed to have matured in her hero career in the most recent years, and while Midoriya wasn't a hardcore fan by all means, he could find it in himself to respect her.

He should've known better than to click on more than one Midnight-centered video, though. For weeks to come, he would be suffering from video recommendations with thumbnails of female heroes who flaunted their bodies. And for a ten-year-old that was the last thing he wanted.

He quietly shut his notebook after finishing his last note, rubbing his hands together as if to ease the pain that radiated through them. He loved taking notes and drawing, and it helped him understand more of what was happening around him, but the soreness in his hands were a grim reminder that he was still a little kid.

"Shh, you're going to be okay, my little echo."

He ended up hiding his notebook beneath his covers before withdrawing a different one. While the other notebook had been labeled Hero Analysis for the Future No. 4, this one was a little bit different. He didn't label these ones with anything but a number in fear that anyone found them. 

In fear that Hisashi found them.

His hands were shaking as he opened the book, fingers trailing over the words that he had written down. He glanced up to the picture above the words he had written, something he had spent hours on making sure every detail was drawn. He flinched as another loud bang reached his ears, and he quickly closed the book before slipping out of his bed, his bare feet touching the cool wood of his bedroom floor. He padded over to his door, opening it as quickly as possible to prevent it from squeaking. He quietly moved down the hall, now able to clearly hear Inko and Hisashi fighting. He curled up into a ball near the top of the staircase, listening in to the argument.

"He's just a child, Hisashi."

"And? Inko, I've finally figured out his quirk!" Midoriya's stomach dropped down to his feet. "I don't think you realize how much potential he has."

"So what if he has your so-called potential? He's only ten, and I doubt he wants anything to do with your organization."

"I don't need you to defend him. He's not even yours."

"Well, he might as well be! I've taken care of him for two years now after you decided to bring a random, homeless, eight-year-old kid from Brazil here of all places!"

"Inko, you know as well as I do that there's more to him than what he seems. He had these energy levels-"

"Enough, Hisashi."

"What? Don't you think that it's suspicious that a kid who can speak Japanese is all the way in Brazil? He didn't even understand Portuguese for crying out loud!"

"So? He might have gotten in an accident with someone who has a teleportation quirk or something."

"So why doesn't he have a name, huh? Why hasn't anyone been looking for him? Why doesn't he have a family, Inko?"

Midoriya held his hands over his ears, trying his best to block out the sound. The whimper that escaped him was the closest you could get to silent, thank goodness, but he wished that he could block out what he just heard. He curled tighter into himself, pressing his hands harder against his ears, but even that could only do so much. As the yelling continued to grow louder, the words became more clear until—

"You'll traumatize him, and I won't stand for it."

He stood up and rushed back into his room, shutting the door and curling back into bed. He grabbed the seven-year-old laptop Inko planned on throwing away and pulled it into his lap, typing in a simple phrase and clicking on the first video that popped up. He had to pause it for a second to grab and untangle his headphones, which took a while from the shaking in his hands and fingers (and his continuous flinching as the fight below refused to peter out) before he was finally able to put in his earbuds and insert the cord. He quickly pressed the play button, letting the tenseness in his shoulders unwind.

"Can you see that?" It was a voice full of desperation, but also hope, and Midoriya couldn't help but close his eyes and think about the faith that sparked in the man's eyes. "He's already saved a hundred people!"

He tried to think about that. Tried to think about the masses of people he saved. Tried to imagine All Might, someone so amazing and strong and capable. He felt his heart flutter at the images he saw, and a deep longing in him grew to be almost unbearable.

"That's crazy! It hasn't even been ten minutes!"

Midoriya's face scrunched up, and it pained him to hear all of the praise. "That's crazy!"

Laughter echoed in his ears, a palliative sound that drowned out the happenings below.

"He's laughing!" came the voice of the dumbstruck man. His fingers, which were tightly gripping the sides of the laptop, loosened considerably as he listened to the voice that followed.

"It's fine now. Why?"

Midoriya closed his eyes. "Because I am here," he mouthed in time with the recording. He leaned his head against the top of the laptop screen, listening as the last of the recording finished. He grabbed the two notebooks on his bed without looking, pulling the one with a single number on its cover open. He looked at the drawing of Hisashi, with his narrowed, snake-like eyes and inky black hair.

Because you never were.

=====

Midoriya was sitting on his desk, leaning the side of his head against the cool surface of the glass window. He watched as his neighbor, a boy with spiky blonde hair and blood red eyes, stomped out of his house and down the sidewalk to go to school. The boy's hands sent out small pops and crackles, which Midoriya had long since recorded as explosions.

He hadn't slept in a while—a most recent villain's attack encouraged an entire riot from several bands of underground thugs, and it took two days for the siege on the city to be put down. There were a lot of casualties, but more than that, several high-ranked heroes were put in the hospital with how bad it had gotten. Because of it, he had stayed up for as long as he physically could to record everything that was happening and to make sure that things were going to end up okay. They did, and it left behind a tired eleven-year-old who wanted nothing more than to take a nap. 

After he watched his neighbor disappear from view, he closed his eyes. Sleep started to crawl into his consciousness, and while he knew that he would have to make up his self-teaching later, he needed to rest. As his eyes fluttered shut, he thought about the sinking feeling in his stomach that alerted him of deep dread. 

He appeared in a hallway. The lights were off and the shadows dark, and he could feel the silence worming beneath his skin. He took in a deep breath, releasing it shortly afterward, only to find that it was cold enough that he could see it. A chill burrowed into his small frame, hovering over him as he looked at his surroundings. He felt it, though-a gentle tug pulling him along.

He reached out to the wall beside him, resting his fingers against the smooth surface as he walked forward. The friction warmed his fingers the slightest bit as he came across a door, cracked open just enough to let light out. He looked inside, the sliver of light pressing a perfect line down his face and neck before it hugged the folds of his clothing. He heard the sounds of a woman groaning and gentle reassurances that followed.

"You see so much."

He didn't respond to that, waiting until he heard the sound of wailing-to which he pressed gentle fingers to the door, opening it just a crack more, and just a little more until he could let himself in. None of the inhabitants of the room noticed him-they never did. He focused his gaze on the woman, who was sweating and panting on the hospital bed. Her eyes were squinted as she stared at the bundle being handed to her by the whispering doctors.

"Am I hallucinating?"

"What kind of freak mutation is that?"

"I've never seen anything like that."

The woman with curly red hair and dark eyes stared at the child in her arms in shock before a loving expression passed over her. Her eyes watered with happy tears as she pressed a kiss to the newborn's glowing body.

The Shining Baby.

"Such a domestic scene," the voice whispered again, "for a beginning like this. For this to lead to something so tragic."

Midoriya walked forward as the baby started crying, and he pressed gentle fingers against his forehead. His expression could only be described as forlorn and at peace. The child couldn't feel him, of course, nor could anyone see him, but he felt at home here. He felt like he could live this moment and truly belong.

Though he didn't. He didn't belong anywhere.

He turned to the person standing in the hallway. The man also didn't belong here, though he could if he wanted to. He looked at the man's lithe figure and gentle eyes. He felt his eyes burn as he looked at him.

"Can I?" he whispered. "Can I save them?"

The man looked up at him and smiled. "You'll find a way."

He woke up to find that the glass has frozen over and that it was snowing out. His neck had a crick in it, and his arms and legs were sore and refused to move. That's what you get for falling asleep on your desk, he supposed, but he didn't regret it. He popped his joints and picked up his books before curling up under the covers of his bed. He started his online course and worked his way through teaching himself more about European history before the time of quirks and how the Reformation affected religious power.

He got about halfway through when Hisashi knocked on the door.

The man opened it seconds later, and he raised his eyebrow when he noticed the specific book that was in his lap. "I thought that you were going to finish that class this morning," he drawled, looking at Midoriya with narrowed eyes.

He flinched and hunched his shoulders, still not used to talking with Hisashi one-on-one. Not that he would ever get used to it, but the man carried with him a dark sense of foreboding that sent off warning signals in his head. It was a little better when Inko was around, even if he couldn't see her, but she had left a few days ago to take a break and wouldn't be back for another few days or so.

"I slept in," he said quietly, diverting his gaze as he looked down to the thick textbook he was reading. It was terribly difficult to dissect already—English was hard enough, but the vocabulary usage and grammar was kicking his behind—and with what little sleep he got plus the time limit forced on his shoulders, he was struggling immensely. He'd have to work extra hard to make up the time he lost both this morning and the previous days.

He frowned as he realized that he was behind schedule in a lot of ways. His hands itched to create a list of sorts as he suddenly became conscious that he hadn't stretched in a while either, nor had he looked at any new hero debuts, and he still hadn't finished researching more into that underground hero....

Crap. He really was behind.

Hisashi shrugged, not seeming to care about the wave of panic that internally seized Midoriya. Instead he jerked his head to motion into the hallway, where Midoriya was first starting to notice the sounds of men laughing. "Put your contacts in. We have guests."

Midoriya immediately felt a surge of curiosity and fear go through him. He grabbed his left hand with his right, gently cradling it to hide the trembling of his hands as he slipped out of bed. Hisashi scrutinized him for a second before speaking again.

"I change my mind. Take a shower and then get dressed into something reasonable. They're gonna be here for a while." His tone, which was firm but gentle, turned into a hiss. "But don't you dare forget the contacts."

Midoriya nodded quickly, shuffling into the bathroom in the hallway and locking the door behind him as Hisashi walked down the staircase. It took him a few moments of fumbling with the knobs before he could get the water the right temperature, but he eventually got it right. He didn't dare take long, even if Hisashi said that the guests were going to stay for a while.

And then came the contacts.

"Izuku?"

It was Hisashi, with his gentle smile and his welcoming eyes. He grabbed him by the waist, pulling him closer. "Daddy got you a present."

He felt his lower lip quiver as he stared at the small box. "What's the present?" he asked, quiet and scared and in a voice so small Hisashi could barely hear him even though they were right beside one another.

The man smiled, and his eyes practically glowed. "Something very, very special," he promised. He nudged the wooden box, a deep brown that had worn edges and was smooth from years of use, into the boy's small hands. He took it, and with careful guidance from Hisashi, he opened the lid.

He was confused by what he saw.

"Why are there eyes looking back at me?" he whispered, but he had a deep, sinking feeling that he knew what they were.

"They're called contacts, baby," Hisashi replied, pulling one of them out of the silk confines. "They're colored ones, specifically made just for you." He placed it in his free palm. "They look just like your mother's, don't they?"

He nodded, unsure of what he was supposed to do with these Inko-colored eyes.

"You put these on your eyes," he explained, ignoring the way he seemed to flinch and stared at him. "They don't hurt, but they feel a little weird. Though, you'll get used to them in time, I promise you that." He plucked the contact from his hand and placed it back into the box before closing the lid. He took his smaller hands and wrapped them around the box, which he then covered with his larger, warmer hands.

He never felt more intimidated in his life as Hisashi smiled adoringly at him.

"Whenever someone comes over, you can wear those, all right? That way when people look at you they'll go, "Hey, look at that kid, doesn't he look just like his sweet mother?" They'll love you if you wear them." When he didn't receive any feedback from the silent eight-year-old, who was still staring at the box wearily, his grip on his hands tightened considerably. His voice remained sweet as the spoke, but his tone hid venomous snakes and poisoned apples waiting to be fed and preyed on. "Right, Izuku? They'll love you, won't they?"

He let out a small whimper before nodding.

Hisashi chuckled before ruffling his hair.

"You're so cute, Izuku."

He didn't want to wear them. He practiced using and wearing the contacts for days, for weeks, just to get comfortable with using them. He forced himself to use them for a few hours a couple times a week, but he hated it. He hated seeing green eyes in the mirror compared to his natural eye color. It was like Hisashi was trying to form him into someone else, and he wanted nothing to do with those physical changes that distracted him from who he was.

(That was a lie—seeing himself in a different way in the mirror made him feel almost giddy, and that terrified him more than anything else.)

He took in a few deep breaths before opening the small wooden box that laid innocently on the desk he fell asleep on that morning. Taking the left one of the pair first, he pressed the contact along his eye. It took a couple tries but he ultimately succeeded, and he managed to get the right one in within one go.

He stared at himself in the small mirror that sat across his bed.

He looked just like Inko.

He made his way downstairs shortly afterward, suddenly feeling self-conscious about his appearance. He was wearing small cargo shorts and a simple white t-shirt, and he eventually decided to grab a hoodie two sizes too big (it enveloped him like a warm hug) last minute. He brought a hand up to the right side of his neck, the tips of his fingers ghosting over the marred and bumpy skin. The nerves had been damaged severely, so he couldn't feel the fingers on his neck, but that didn't make much a difference in his life. He had it for a long time, and it didn't really bother him anymore.

But he couldn't say the same about it while he was participating in social activities.

Keeping his hand glued to his neck, he peered around the bottom of the staircase, the full blast of the raucous laughter hitting him. He wanted to shrink into himself by instinct, but Hisashi had already made eye contact with him and curling up on the floor like a cat was probably the worst thing for him to do at this moment. The man himself shot a charismatic smile to the man beside him before standing up, instantly appearing at his side. His hand was gentle on his back, welcoming in all sense of the word, though he gently peeled his own hand from his neck.

"Don't be shy," he whispered in Midoriya's ear. He carefully pushed him forward to the men and women at the table, who each already had a bit of alcohol in their systems.

"Eh, who's this cutie, Midoriya-san?" the only woman there drawled, her lips curled into a gentle smile. She was looking attentively at him, and he froze, wondering if he was supposed to speak. It took him a second to realize that she was speaking to Hisashi. 

"Izuku," said man responded. He pushed Midoriya even further into the spotlight, and he hunched his shoulders. "He's my son." 

There was a gasp of utter delight from the woman, who immediately stepped out of her chair to stand across from Midoriya. She took his hands into her own as she crouched so they were eye level. (Midoriya didn't like to admit it, but he was small, and she was a giant in comparison. She had to be, at the very least, a foot taller than Hisashi, and he was tall enough as it was.) 

"You're such a precious Schätzchen," she cooed. She kissed the top of his head before turning to Hisashi. "You've raised him so well." 

Midoriya didn't know what to think about that. Hisashi wasn't around that often, and he rarely told him anything except that he had to stand still and let people do whatever they wanted with him unless Hisashi said otherwise. Was there something he was missing? 

Hisashi seemed to get it though, and he chuckled as he placed a hand on his head. Midoriya looked up at him, blinking his wide eyes as he nervously grabbed onto Hisashi's pant leg. He didn't do much more than that, even as much as he wanted to hide behind him, and he knew that he was already pushing his luck as it was. But Hisashi didn't seem to mind at all, and just seemed to soak up with attention and squeals that accompanied such action. 

It was then that he noticed that he recognized these voices. He had seen these people before, heard them, but he never got to meet them. Then again, they were usually whispering in hushed voices and serious tones, not drinking and having fun. Perhaps something good had happened, and Hisashi decided that now was a good time as ever for his colleagues to meet him? 

He was so lost in thought, he didn't notice that everyone got up from their spots and were chatting happily with Hisashi. He glanced to each of their faces, taking in their loopy smiles and slurred words as they expressed themselves heavily. Their scars were out in the open for the world to see, and Midoriya's eyes were glued to each and every one of them, the puzzle starting to piece together for him. 

They had gotten into quite a few fights. And partying? 

Midoriya remembered the riot that had just taken place not too far from here. He remembered the news articles warning people to be careful of any high-ranked criminals that were trying to start up trouble. He remembered a police officer saying in an interview that the uprising wasn't just a coincidence, and that there were people pulling the strings in the background. 

He remembered All Might punching a man with a deep purple mask in the face. 

The man standing next to Hisashi had a dark bruise forming in the exact same spot. 

He paled. 

Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder. He instinctively flinched, his grip tightening on Hisashi's pants as he whipped around to face the owner of the hand. It was a male with bright, pale eyes and dark skin. He was attractive and a little older than Hisashi, it seemed, though not by much. 

Midoriya didn't like it. He didn't like him

The man, whose name he would later find out was Disaya, trailed his fingers against the damaged side of his neck, mumbling quietly. "That's quiet the scar you have, Izuku." He seemed deep in thought as his hands wandered, gentle cupping his face and running the pad of his thumb over his cheekbone. "And freckles, too," he mused to himself. 

He was being too soft. He was being too ambitious. Midoriya didn't like the way that the man was touching him and inspecting him, almost as if he was a small mouse being stalked by a snake. The man's hand moved away from his face to the collar of his jacket, and he shuddered as the male reached his fingers underneath the warm layer and his shirt. His fingers were cold as ice, like metal that had yet to encounter any warmth. His grip on the fabric of Hisashi's pants tightened even further as he froze. He scrunched his eyes shut as memories started to overcome him of deep chuckles and whispers of you're alright, echo, you're alright, you're alright, you're alright, I'll take care of you, and he felt himself shudder. 

The hand was suddenly gone, and Midoriya peeked his eyes open to find that Hisashi was no longer smiling. All conversation ceased as everyone stared at the attractive man. Hisashi's yellow eyes were staring at the man's, his mouth set into a firm line. 

Silence followed, and for a tense ten seconds no one said anything. The gigantic woman took his arm and brought him to her chest as she stepped away from the two men. The man with the bruise on his face brought his hand to his waist, and Midoriya realized with wide eyes and a jump that he had a holster on his belt. 

The dark black sheen of a gun caught the light as he stared at it. He was sure that his face was ashen white as Hisashi spoke up. 

His voice was quiet. 

"What did you think you were doing?" 

Disaya flinched as Hisashi clenched his wrist harder. His smile was awkward and wobbly at best as he spoke up. "Just admiring."

Hisashi's throat gained an orange hue as he growled. Small sparks erupted from between his lips, and a deep orange-red infiltrated his yellow irises. "Admiring," he repeated. "You decided to admire my son like an object."

Disaya spluttered and tried to come up with some excuse, but the hatred that oozed from Hisashi's pores was unrelenting. Midoriya made a small noise of fear at the man who called himself his father, and he buried himself deeper into the woman's giant form. Sure, Disaya wasn't someone he recognized as well as the others, but Hisashi had still known him for at least a year. 

Hisashi would turn on someone who he had been close allies with for over a year if it meant shielding him. 

Midoriya didn't know what to think of that. 

=====

They locked him in the basement. 

Midoriya liked to hang out with all the other men and women—or woman, for that matter—and though they were a little scary at first, they were nice. But the threatening aura they held around themselves and the hint of alcohol that was in their breaths and on their clothes was enough for him to be wary. 

The worst of it was when they decided to finally get to work, however. Hisashi gently sat him down on one of their couches, a few rooms away from the entrance to the basement. Midoriya was never allowed down there, but he really didn't mind. It was creepy enough to keep him from doing any exploring.  

Now he was starting to realize why they prohibited him from it in the first place. 

He and the female giant were watching TV. She had one of her large hands on his back as he tried to finish his portfolio on a new hero debut around two days ago. She seemed to take a deep interest in his notes, and when he asked her why she said, "You're going to grow up to be someone one day."

He didn't understand, exactly. His mind was still frazzled from hearing the tortured screams of the man below. After almost ten minutes of the same horrid sound, he was shaking like a leaf. He could barely still his hand enough to continue his notes on a hero named Present Mic (he had finally finished the other hero's who he was supposed to do long before he got distracted) whose radio show was just starting to hit a peak in its popularity. 

A particularly bad cry for help shot through the tense atmosphere, and Midoriya actually jumped and twisted his head around. His notebook and pencil hit the floor as he shuddered, holding his arms around his body. He couldn't take it anymore, couldn't take the screams for help. He wanted to help, he wanted to save the man that was suffering even if he did something wrong. 

He wanted the pain to stop. 

There were tears in his eyes as he took in a deep, shuddering breath. The woman from before (he was pretty sure she was German, now that he thought about it) grabbed his forearm and pulled him back onto the couch. She ran a hand through his hair and pulled him closer. "Shh, shh," she said as she wrapped her large arms around him. He was curled into a tight ball, arms around his folded legs as he tried to escape the horrific reality that was happening just a little bit away. "Don't worry, everything's going to be fine, Kindlein." 

Everything's going to be fine, echo, don't worry. I'll be here to protect you. 

It wasn't. 

He ended up bursting into tears as the minutes trickled on, and the woman pressed her large hands over his ears and rocked him side to side. He watched through blurry vision as the Number 04. Hero, Best Jeanist, smoothly took out each and every villain on the screen. The reporter on screen was smiling as she spoke golden words about him. 

"He's saved so many people!" came the muffled voice from the TV screen. 

He's saved so many. 

So why can't he save me?

Midoriya felt his chest heave as another wave of sobs broke through. 

Why can't any of them save me?

=====

He was sleeping on the couch when he heard the voices grow louder. They had been there for a while, just barely buzzing at the edge of his hearing. His contacts were sitting on the coffee table not too far away, and the television had been cut a while ago, as had the screams, leaving Midoriya with nothing to do but fall into a fitful sleep. As footsteps neared him, he shot up, but a large hand on his back gently pushed him right back down. 

Hisashi, he realized. It was Hisashi. 

Everyone else was either out of range or had left, but all that Midoriya knew was that they couldn't help him now. 

Shaking underneath Hisashi's steady palm, he let out a small whimper as Hisashi brought a hand to the side of his face. "You've been crying," he noted quietly, touching the skin where tear tracks remained. 

Don't touch me, is what he wanted to say, but all he could force out was a small, choked whine. There was blood on Hisashi's face, and on his clothes, and on his wrists, and on his neck, and there was so much of it get away from him

There was a groaning sound from the ground in front of him, and he flinched. It sounded so familiar, and the sinking feeling in his gut sent a tumble of memories flooding back to him. Hisashi made a motion with his hands, but Midoriya couldn't tell what he meant. He squeezed his eyes shut as tears threatened to leak out of his eyes. 

"Give it to him," Hisashi ended up growling to the man on the floor. "Give it to him, Disaya."

The man on the floor hesitated, and Hisashi kicked him in his stomach. Disaya yelped and went into a coughing fit as he shakily got on his hands and knees. Hisashi held Midoriya down by his hip with one hand as he forced one of his arms out. The limb was shaking as the tortured man grabbed his outstretched hand. 

Midoriya's vision turned white. 

He didn't scream. Pain had been a faint memory for him his whole life. 

But it hurt so, so badly. 

"What are you doing!? He doesn't belong here—"

"He gave you everything—"

"This child will be our downfall—"

"This is what happened. You're only alive to—"

"You look nothing like him, don't listen to them—"

"Vas a estar bien, mi eco pequeño." 

He found himself sitting on a bench. A small breeze gently tugged at his hair. The bench was mostly overgrown with vines, but it escaped the heat and scorching rays of the sun by sitting under the canopy of leaves of the tree. The small height he was given allowed him the view over the small beach below. The glistening waters calmly rose and fell along the sand.

Prevent it, prevent it, prevent it, prevent it, preventit, preventit, preventit, preventit preventit preventitpreventitpreventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit preventit—

"You have to save them."

Flashes of fire and flames cross his mind, burning his skin and making his eyes water.

He was probably there for hours, not that he minded. Clouds slowly formed over the sea, one after the other until the entire sky was covered in a light gray. He watched as the calm breeze grew stronger into harsh winds, and then as lightning started to dance between points in the sky. Thunder rolled against the harsh waves of the sea and echoed up to his perch.

As large droplets started to fall and hit the leaves of his canopy, lightning began to strike closer and closer. A part of him was terrified, but another part of him welcomed it. Puddles formed at his feet, the water rippling as it grew bigger. He watched silently, shoulders hunched, as the beach was swallowed by bigger and bigger waves.

A large flash of light swallowed his vision for a moment as a boom rang in his ears. The lightning's getting closer, closer, closer

He felt his toes grow cold, and he looked down to see that the puddle reached his feet. He flinched as he saw his marred reflection staring back at him. His eyes bore into him, bright without his contacts.

Lightning flashed again, just briefly, though it was dull. The thunder that accompanied it was muffled. He brought a shaky hand to the side of his neck, watching the skin move and pulsate underneath his fingers. He retracted them immediately as they came into contact, the skin burning the tips of his fingers.

But no, that wasn't right...

He flinched as his neck smarted from his fingers' touch. They both ached, though it was different for his hands. It felt like they were being heated up continuously, growing hotter and hotter with each passing second. It burned, and he felt his eyes water as his palms started to release waves of heat, turning more orange by the second.

A stray droplet of rain hit his hand, and it hissed before steaming. It provided little relief to the ache in his hands that was growing by the second.

He looked back into his reflection in the puddle, watching as his mirror image faded in and out of view before disappearing altogether. A small lull in the storm followed as he tried to find himself but couldn't when—

Lightning struck the tree beside him, sending a loud clap that sent his hearing into silence except for a faint ringing sound. He jumped up, pushing off the bench with his melting hands, scorching the wood as he tripped over himself and fell. He curled into a tight ball as the ground trembled, the tree falling opposite his direction and rolling down the hill. He smelled burning wood and swamped grass as he trembled. He flinched as another lightning strike hit the bench, and he cried out in shock as splinters flew at him. Getting his hands and feet underneath him, he tried to move only to find them sinking into the dirt. Steam rose as he burned his way further and deeper, trapping himself.

He coughed as he struggled to get himself free. He had to get away, he had to save himself, he had to leave before the lightning struck him too—

A fire burned deeply through him, sending painful shocks against his skin. His palms and feet felt like they were melting as his lungs constricted.

He screamed. 

=====

"A high fever," came a gentle voice. "He's sick." 

Midoriya recognized it. He couldn't quite place from where, though, but it was real and he needed them to be right by him. Whispers followed their declaration, though he couldn't decipher what they were saying. He caught certain phrases, such as "fever dream" and "screaming", but everything else faded and blurred together. He felt a drop of sweat roll off his neck, and he shuddered as his face grew hot and nausea crawled up his stomach and squeezed it in a strong grip. His throat felt tight, and he worried as his eyelids flickered that he was going to puke. 

He managed to swallow the bile that entered his mouth, but the action hurt. His tonsils felt like they were swollen, which were probably the cause of it. 

He managed to fall back into a fitful sleep afterward to the sounds of near-silent conversation, surfing between wakefulness and unconsciousness. He wasn't sure how much time had passed; by the time he was coherent enough to comprehend what was happening around him, he had been moved to his bedroom and moonlight poured through his blinds. Groaning softly as he pushed himself up, his thick covers slipped off his shoulder before resting at his waist. He clumsily pulled it down the rest of the way, swinging his legs off the mattress and onto the cool floor. His short height forced him to stretch his legs so he wouldn't fall flat on his face, and he had to grab onto his nightstand to help with his balance. 

His legs wobbled as he walked down the hallway, a headache pounding through his head. He was about to head downstairs when he heard voices, and he paused. Straining his ears to hear what was going on, he felt elation go through him as he realized Inko was home. 

It turned to dread a second later. 

"I told you I wouldn't stand for this," she hissed. "I told you you'd traumatize him. Never again, Hisashi. I'm never dealing with this again." 

Midoriya pressed himself against the wall, leaning his weight into the immovable fortification. Did that mean that the torturing would stop? Did that mean Inko was going to stop Hisashi from bringing those terrible people to this house?

By chance or by an unlucky streak, Hisashi looked up at that moment to where he was standing. His scowl turned into a sugary smile as he waved Midoriya down. "Oh hey, Izuku! Are you finally feeling better?"

Midoriya pursed his lips as he walked downstairs. He nodded, since he probably was feeling better, though he'd be lying if he said that he was feeling okay. Hisashi didn't seem to question his answer though, too concentrated on glaring at Inko. He waved Midoriya over, and though he didn't know why, he listened to the silent command. Once he was in arm's reach, he pulled him forward, squeezing him to his side. Inko, who had been sitting on one of their armchairs, stood up as if to stop him, but she froze as Hisashi glowered at her. 

Sending another fake smile to Midoriya, he dropped to one knee so they were around the same height. The man was carrying most of his weight since he was still feeling awful, but he didn't acknowledge it. "Izuku, my son—" Midoriya flinched. "—don't you love me?"

Love. 

Midoriya had heard that word so many times he felt like he could throw up. He instead remained silent until Hisashi's smile cracked and his eyes flickered with orange and his throat glowed and no his hands were burning and the lightning was going to hit him and he would be in so much pain and stop it stop it stop it make it stop

"Yes," Midoriya blurted out. And then, seeing an indescribable expression cross Inko's face, he added, "I love both of you." 

Wrong answer. 

Hisashi's eyes turned red. Inko's hands were trembling. A thick silence fell over them, coating every surface and wiggling itself into every crevice available. Hisashi's grip on him loosened before increasing tenfold, the urge for Midoriya to squirm accompanying it. Inko saw this and shot forward, resting a hand on Midoriya's shoulder. 

"You should go to bed," she said through clenched teeth, her furious stare locked on Hisashi. Midoriya felt like he would catch on fire if it was aimed at him. "It's late."

Hisashi glowered right back at her before releasing Midoriya. "Yes," he growled. "She's right. It was your bedtime a long while ago." 

Midoriya didn't question the sudden, intense hatred that seeped from the two. He turned around and zipped his way back upstairs, crawling into bed. 

That was the last time he ever eavesdropped on them. 

=====

He was sitting in Inko's lap, paying half of his attention to the news that playing on the television. (For some reason, his father and all of his colleagues liked to constantly have the news playing, as if they were waiting for something. He wasn't quite sure what.) The other half of his attention was focused on finishing the drawing he started.  

Hisashi had left that morning, leaving the two to do as they pleased. It had been a tense week, and school did little to ease the painful knot in his chest. (He was enrolled into a private school not too far away two years ago, around a year after being in Inko's care. However, Hisashi was odd about him being there—he was absent almost as many days as he was present, which led to a lot of questions from his teachers and the principal. They had long grown used to setting aside a set of notes for him to learn from, though, and they didn't seem to mind as much since he always brought back assignments before or when they were due. Sure, it was a little bit of a hassle to deal with at times, the principal learned the hard way that Hisashi and his "son" weren't to be questioned or messed with.) 

Midoriya wished he could go outside and do something, even if it was as little as laying in the grass or making snow angels. Hisashi made it clear that he wasn't allowed to, however, and the last thing that he wanted was for him to get mad. (Oh, but how he wished to go and play with the other kids. The kid with the blonde hair and the red eyes seemed mean, but maybe it was a facade. Maybe they could be friends too. All the students at his school ignored him or purposely avoided being around him, and he was lonely, so so lonely.) 

He stretched his sore fingers as he switched his pencil from one side to the other. He started shading the picture, careful to make sure he didn't smear anything. Inko continued to run her hand through his hair as she hummed to herself. Midoriya was happy with the contact, glad that she wasn't as hesitant and skittish when it came to physical touch. 

When he finally finished the picture, he turned and showed it to her. Her eyes, heavy with sorrow, lightened as she saw it. "It looks amazing, Izuku," she said softly. "I love it." 

Midoriya tried not to flinch as she said the word. It sounded too wrong. He looked back at the picture to distract himself. Sure, it wasn't his best work—landscapes weren't his forte—but he hadn't thought that it would look as good as it did when he first started. 

Inko smiled and kissed his forehead. "You should add yourself to the picture," she whispered teasingly to him, as if she was sharing a funny secret. 

Midoriya blinked. "Why's that?" 

Inko giggled as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Because you'll be out there too one day." 

Midoriya looked back to the picture, imagining himself leaving behind footprints in the snow. He imagined the cold, fluffy substance that would melt in his hands. Maybe he could build a snowman, and give him stick arms and a carrot nose with buttons for eyes. Or maybe he could make a snow angel.

Someday, maybe. 

He was brought back to real life as a loud bang came from the television. Inko reached for the remote to mute it, but Midoriya was concentrated on something else. 

All Might. 

In all his glory he stood, fierce with a calming smile weak weak, weakened by him, weakened by him, weak weak as he saved the day once more. He didn't waste a single moment to save all the civilians in the park and defeat the villain who was shaking in his boots because he knew that he was screwed. 

"Inko?" It was him that asked that, he realized too late. 

"Hm?" Her arms wrapped around him loosely, her chin resting on his head. "Something the matter?"

He hesitated. "Do you think I can help people someday?"

Inko fell silent. She pulled herself away from him to look him in the eye. The small spark in her eyes sputtered and disappeared. Her lips pursed before she abruptly stood. 

"Inko—" Midoriya started, only to get cut off by the woman in question. 

"It's time for bed, Izuku." 

Midoriya frowned. "But Inko—" 

"No buts," she snapped, and Midoriya reeled back. All of his complaints died on his tongue as he remembered what position he was in. He ducked his head as he quickly walked behind her, letting her lead him to his bedroom. He still hadn't had his shower or brushed his teeth either, and he felt totally unprepared as she shut the door behind him. He sighed, a deep feeling of misery blooming somewhere close to his heart. 

He ended up staying up most of the night watching a few documentaries on the beginnings of quirks and about the Underground to distract himself, a platform where horrific villains roamed and schemed. 

The Underground. 

Every bit of what he heard stuck with him. It was fascinating, without a doubt, and he recorded what stood out to him and what he already knew about several underground heroes. A part of him wondered if he would ever get to meet one, and then a thought hit him. He blinked as the urge to suddenly search up a specific person's hero name shot through him. He didn't, and instead forced himself to finish that stupid European History course (with so many distractions and setbacks, it took him that long to catch up.) 

By the time he finally slept and woke up again, it was ten in the morning and the house was very, very quiet. 

He walked down to Inko's and Hisashi's bedroom. The bed was empty, signalling to him that Hisashi was still doing business. But... Inko?

He walked downstairs, roaming every room. Fear gripped him as he moved faster and faster. 

"Inko?" he called. He pursed his lips as he moved to the living room, looking for their home phone. He noticed as he walked past their coffee table that his drawing was gone, though he was pretty sure he left it there last night. He punched in Inko's number when he finally found the phone and waited for the rings to sound, but...

"I'm sorry, this phone number has been disabled at this time. Please call again another time. If you would like to leave a message—"

Midoriya hung up. 

"Inko?" he called out again, though silence was the only thing that greeted him in return. 

Something was wrong, terribly wrong. Inko would never leave if Hisashi was already gone. So why?...

"I told you I wouldn't stand for this. I told you you'd traumatize him. Never again, Hisashi. I'm never dealing with this again." 

"Mom?" he whispered. 

Silence. 

He'd wait another day for her to come back. Hisashi had arrived home by then. He asked him where Inko was, but he didn't have an answer. Hisashi cussed, muttering angrily about how one of their cars was gone. Midoriya flinched at every movement that Hisashi made toward him. 

He waited for her yet another day. And then two. And then four. 

And then a week. 

And then a month. 

He waited a long, long time for her to come back to their almost-home. 

(She never did.)

=====

He wore his contacts more often after that. He got used to seeing viridian green eyes staring back at him in the mirror. 

=====

Some days he forgot they weren't his at all. 

Chapter Text

Midoriya was cradling his left hand, keeping it close to his chest as he struggled to bring his chest to the ground. He was a couple inches off, and though it was better progress than the previous month, he was still frustrated with himself. Mumbling quietly to himself, he face-planted himself, attempting to close the last bit of distance, only to find that his back curved on instinct. 

Dang it. 

He tried to straighten his back but was met with a sting of pain that reminded him to be patient. It was already great that he was flexible enough to do the splits both ways. So what if he couldn't bring his chest to the ground while doing said action? 

But he couldn't help the pang of disappointment that welled through him. He wasn't making progress as quickly as he would have liked. He had been working on his flexibility for almost two years now, and though he would get distracted at times, he was still persistent in at least making progress. He sighed as he pushed himself back up after a minute of contemplating life (you know, wondering if forty-two truly was the answer, as usual.) 

Off to the side, his old laptop (which was on the cusp of dying for good, mind you) was quietly playing the news for him to listen to. It was habit to keep it on low volume, even if Hisashi wasn't home. The man liked his peace and often would grow irritated if even the smallest creak interrupted his concentration. Midoriya didn't really know how to feel about the constant silence that stuffed the house, but it was better than Hisashi's flames, that was for sure.

He glanced over to the computer's screen, which was covered in dust particles that he was sure he'd wiped away just ten minutes ago. Small rays of sunshine filtered into his room, and he watched out his window as several birds with white underbellies and light grey feathers flew across the sky without a care in the world. 

Oh, how he wished he could fly. He sighed again as he rolled onto his back, staring at the smooth surface of the ceiling in his room. Part of him wanted nothing than to take a nap, but another part of him reminded him that he wasn't tired at all and that it would serve to do nothing but make him grumpy and mess his sleep schedule up. (Internally, he asked himself what sleep schedule, since it didn't seem to exist at the moment.) 

He rubbed his eyes tiredly and reached out for his notebook blindly, hands roaming until he managed to find it. He pulled himself up into a sitting position as he opened the cover, flipping through the pages until he found an empty one through squinted eyes. It was nearing the back, he noted, and he realized he was going to have to start a new one soon. 

Which meant another entry on Hisashi. 

It was routine, really. Every new notebook he started, the first entry was Hisashi. It was easier than trying to cram all the information he gathered into his first and second notebook. He frowned as he realized that he wasn't any more knowledgeable about Hisashi than he was when he first started the notebook in his hands. He was a little at a standstill at the moment. A part of him was discontented at his lack of progress, while another part of him tried to encourage himself. He had only started this notebook a couple weeks ago, and he just happened to fill it up really quickly because there was more going on at the moment. 

And yet a faint bubbling insecurity hissed underneath his skin as he stared at his journal in melancholy silence. He was being unreasonable, he knew that, but it didn't help how despondent he felt. You can save them, you can save them whispered in his ear, though he wasn't sure just how true that was. 

He closed his eyes and waited for the moment to pass, taking in a shuddering breath. 

"—olice finally have a lead on the group that has been causing troubles under the radar for years now. Several large groups of high-ranked heroes, including the Number 01. Hero All Might and Number 02. Hero Endeavor, have jumped on the chance to finally defeat this organization of villains. Fierce battles have been fought today, and several will follow. As a warning to everyone, please be careful and wary, and please stay out of the crossfire."

Midoriya's eyes cracked open as he glanced over to his laptop. They narrowed, and all exhaustion and tiredness disappeared as he shot up and threw his notebook to the side. He scrambled to get closer to the electronic device, and he turned up the volume just slightly so he could hear it better. 

He watched as a rerun of the events that happened just a few hours ago (how had Midoriya not noticed sooner?) was played on the screen. A hero, one that Midoriya recognized as Alienation, trapped two men who had little experience with his mental wavelengths, freezing them to the spot. There was another video, one with a woman called Fiendash and her companion—Colonel Sparrow—as they stood back-to-back, surrounded by eight different villains. (The former had a smirk on, her sharp canines on full display as a smokescreen started to ooze from the openings of her costume; Colonel Sparrow's expression was nothing short of blank as his blind eyes wandered to the figures around him, his lethally sharp talons on full display as his suit flickered ominously.) It was followed by a scene with the Nineteenth Grain, (their organic body constantly rebuilding themselves as they decimated groups of people), Monolith (who constructed huge pillars to form her arms and legs as she threw people into the sides of buildings and far away), and Gymnast (who could control his center of gravity to the point where he could never trip or become unbalanced enough to fall.) Then followed Sequence, who could take any word written and transfer it into real life under his command. (No, that did not mean that he could summon another All Might. He could summon, however, the words All Might to strangle someone. It was a little awkward to be squashed by the literal word little, though it had happened once.)

Midoriya watched as clip after clip was shown, and he was barely able to comprehend the words that accompanied it. 

"The alliance continues to fight back, but we are pushing them back. As of today, one of the biggest figures of the organization, Horror's Dove, has been captured and is going through interrogation at this moment." A picture of a man with a purple mask and a holster at his belt was put on the screen. His pale blue hair was pulled into a low ponytail as his light gray eyes and navy blue irises peered behind the openings of his cover. "As you know, this man faced off against All Might several months ago, escaping with nothing short of a few scratches, even as the No. 1 Hero used his full power. From what blood testing has told us, his quirk allows him to transfer his injuries and pain to any doves he is linked to, hence his code name. Of course, there are only so many doves you can have, and so the fight was cut short by Horror's Dove's escape. However, his capture shows us this organization isn't as indestructible as it seems. As All Might says himself, do not fear: we will reach the end of this group's reign of terror."

Midoriya simply stared at his computer screen as it shut off, completely out of battery. He didn't make any move to plug it into its charger, however, and sat there in loss. 

He thought about the man with his hand by his waist as he stared down Disaya, the man who "admired" him, a dark bruise forming along his jaw. He thought about the giant woman who held him carefully to her chest as she whispered gentle words to him. 

Why can't any of them save me? he had thought. 

He bit his lower lip. 

Could they... could they...?

He thought about Inko's face after he asked her if he could help her. He remembered how the light in her eyes died and buried itself deep under years of sorrow. 

He realized, belatedly, that even if Hisashi was gone and he didn't have to be with them anymore, he still wouldn't be saved. 

Hisashi was the least of his problems. 

He sighed and opened his notebook, flipping back to the page where Horror's Dove's description was. He rested his chin in his hand as he added details about his quirk and fixed his status. 

It was just one more disappointment, he supposed. 

=====

"Another day has passed, and another battle fought. However, we are nearing the end. Finally, after years of searching, the police have figured out the name of this organization's leader.

"He goes by Ignition."

Midoriya felt his stomach sink so, so low until he felt like he could float away.

=====

It wasn't something he liked to think about, really. But it was there, and he knew it was always there. Actually using it was a totally different story, something that he never thought would happen. 

It was a backpack. Simple as that. 

Except, not so simple in context. 

He remembered Hisashi always demanding he had it, ready to go. Hidden in his closet, ready to be used. 

And it was being used. 

It held spare chargers, several pairs of clothes, some dry snacks that wouldn't go stale, several books (and journals) he hadn't yet touched to entertain him, and all his previous notebooks that he had already filled to the brim with hero and... other analysis. 

Simple as that.

Except it wasn't. 

Hisashi knew where it was. He checked up on it periodically. As Midoriya grew, he swapped the contents, too. 

But he never thought he would ever use it. 

Hisashi and him were cooking dinner, and though he was eleven and probably shouln't have been trusted with burning pots and boiling water and knives to chop up food, Hisashi showed him how to use them and let him do it anyway. There weren't any accidents, which Midoriya was thankful for, but something seemed odd about the entire thing. Sure, Hisashi wasn't one for cooking or anything, but he was okay at it and told Midoriya that he was going to cook for the two of them for a while now. 

So it was a little odd for Hisashi to try and teach him the past week or so. And it was also a little odd for Hisashi to sneak into his room late at night and add two recipe books into that backpack when he thought he was sleeping. Not that he minded, really—he knew that a warm meal was something not to be taken granted for, and being taught how to cook wasn't really that bad. Odd, but not bad. 

But odd. 

Very, very odd. 

Midoriya frowned as Hisashi asked him to go wash his hands. Also something he knew not to take for granted—running water. But still, it was an odd request. Hisashi wasn't usually this picky, and he had just watched Midoriya wash his hands right before they started cooking. Of course, he'd rather do as the man said and take but a minute to do so rather than get on his bad side. That was something he really, really didn't want. 

Midoriya padded back to the dining room to find that Hisashi had also poured him a glass of... juice. 

Warning bells rang through him. Don't trust him, something deep inside him said. Flee, run, don't trust him, get away

Hisashi gestured to the seat across from him, smiling gently. "Sit." 

Don't trust him, don't trust him, don't trust him—

Midoriya slowly sat across from him. He could feel Hisashi's eyes burning into him as he picked up his chopsticks and started to eat. Hisashi wasn't eating, he noticed, and he had half a mind to ask him why. However, he kept his mouth shut and continued making his way through his meal. 

But something was wrong. His conscience continuously nagged at him, and his hands' shaking got worse as he ate more and more. Anxiety, his mind supplied. His grip on his chopsticks slipped, and they clattered into his plate. He flinched at the noise, immediately trying to recover himself. Hisashi's hand was on his a moment later. His smile was so gentle, as was his hands, and no no nononononononono please no not again not again please I swear, I'll listen this time, I'll listen this time

"It's okay," Hisashi said as he rubbed his hand. "You don't have to eat anymore. You don't usually eat this much anyway." He tilted his head to the side before standing up, his plate and food untouched. He pulled Midoriya toward the living room, snatching the cup of juice off the table and bringing it with him last second. He placed it on the coffee table in front of Midoriya before sitting next to the trembling boy, leaning back on the couch. 

This is wrong, Midoriya couldn't help but think as Hisashi grabbed the remote and turned the TV on. Instead of watching the news, however, as he always did, he turned it to a cooking show. This is wrong. He glanced at Hisashi whose face was illuminated by the light coming from the television screen. His throat felt dry, and he (hesitantly) reached for the glass in front of him to take a sip of the drink. It alleviated some of the pain, at least. 

This is wrong.

Hisashi's arm wrapped around the back of his couch and around his shoulders. It made Midoriya flinch as the feeling of being trapped escalated, but he breathed through his anxiety and pretended he wasn't feeling like crap. He blinked away his exhaustion as he tried to settle his spiraling thoughts. 

Horror's Dove and Hisashi got along incredibly well. 

This is wrong. 

They were incredibly good friends. 

So why? 

Why? 

He goes by Ignition.

He blinked slowly again as the television's sounds became white noise. His gaze flitted at his surroundings. Something felt... off. 

He rubbed his eyes as a sudden wave of fatigue hit him. He takes a large gulp from his drink and sets the glass between his legs. The juice was supposed to help with energy, so why was he so... 

So... 

Shit. 

He slammed the cup down on the table, infuriated with himself. Hisashi made the drink, he put a drug in it, that's why he brought it over, that's why he wanted you to drink it

He was so stupid. He was so, so stupid. He should have known to let his guard down, he knew better, so why was he so stupid?

Hisashi is immediately there, holding him close to his chest. "What's the matter, Izuku?" he murmured into his hair as he kissed the top of his head. 

Midoriya didn't answer. He didn't want to. Instead, he narrowed his eyes and tried to fight back the sleepy haze that was threatening to take over him. He hadn't finished the entire drink, so he was fine. He could just bear through it until the effects wore off. That was it. Simple as could be. 

Yeah, he was fine. 

He was... 

He was... 

He...

Echo, hm? How cute. It fits you so well.

=====

"I-I... no. No, I c-can't. I... Not you too. I can't let you become him. I can't. I can't. I'm sorry, I'm so... I'm s-so s-s-sorry." 

Crying. He was lost. 

"Wha-what's wrong? What did I do wro—"

"No!" She tripped and caught herself on a counter, and a container left on the surface rattled. It should have been put away hours ago. "No, no, no!" She grabbed it in a fit of tears and deep sobs and threw it at him. He twisted to his side, as if to protect himself, but the contents inside the container were little to none, and it only hit the side of his neck. 

It only hit the side of his neck. 

It only...

She lit a flame. 

"I'm so, so sorry."

Kerosene, read the sticker on the container. 

=====

She left him to die. 

She left him to burn. 

=====

Sometimes he wished he did. 

=====

His vision was blurry, and he couldn't make out many details when consciousness started to leak back into his slumbering form. His let out a breathy groan as he tried to adjust himself, and he hissed quietly when he was bumped upward for a moment. 

What...?

Faint flashes of light passed through the open windows in the back. He blinked as he recognized the inside of a car, Hisashi's to be specific, and he curled tighter into himself as cold air rushed into the car, undeterred without the windows rolled up. He had been sleeping along the back seats, and his emergency backpack rested not too far from his feet. 

He blinked again as his exhaustion spiked, and he tried to push himself up. It didn't work very well—the medication was still in full force, and he found himself collapsing back into the leather as his vision swam. He couldn't have been awake for more than a minute before he passed out again. 

So short, in fact, that he didn't remember it when he woke up again, placed carefully and lovingly underneath warm fluffy covers with an equally comfortable mattress. It came with watery eyes and a choked sob as he tried to ease the phantom pain that gripped the side of his neck with vigor, and he tried to massage the pain away with shaking fingers. There was a small clock on the wall opposite that ticked away in the background until Midoriya noticed it, and he shivered as he took in what time it was. 

Two thirty-seven. Probably in the morning, since it seemed to be dark out. 

He had no idea where he was, though memories of the previous night (was it the previous night?) came to him in shifts until it struck him that he was in a foreign place in who-knew-where without any idea of why or how or when. It took him a second to will himself to get out of bed, but he managed to successfully without falling over. (It was an achievement, really. He felt like he could transform into a zombie and there wouldn't be any difference.)

He hesitated when he reached the closed door, but he pushed through and twisted the doorknob carefully. The door unlatched at the movement, and it slowly creaked open. He slipped through the small opening and found himself in a short hallway. It wasn't that long compared to his hom—house, and as he explored, he found that the entire thing was simply more small and quaint. 

It was... refreshing, almost. More homey. Less intimidating. 

It took him a couple minutes of trying to absorb all of the information surrounding him to spot his backpack and a note lying right beside it. Of course, the small island was tall, and he was short, so he was forced to climb on top of it. He hoped that Hisashi wasn't around. He'd kill him if he saw him like this. 

The note was simple. Short(ish). Sweet. 

It made Midoriya want to puke. 

Izuku, 

I'm afraid that Daddy has to go. But don't worry, I've set up everything so all the bills are paid for and you don't have to worry about any expenses. There's also a card in the box off to the side that holds a phone and a credit card already set up for you. Be wise with what you do. I already left a letter with your neighbor, and she'll help take care of you. Just try not to be so conspicuous around her, okay?

Love, 
Dad

Pure panic settled in as a drop of sweat rolled down the side of his face. He immediately dropped down from the counter (and he stuck the landing, surprisingly) before scrambling out of what he assumed was the front door. He was greeted with a floor of other apartments beside his. Judging by his surroundings, he was around the second to third floor up. The town was unfamiliar, and judging by how much time had passed, he was definitely a ways away from where he was living before (though he couldn't tell just how much since he was never let outside.)

Terror struck him repeatedly as he looked down the hallways. No letter was visible. 

He cursed outwardly in English, which sounded alien on his tongue. Hisashi didn't say which neighbor it was, but he took a gamble and moved to the left, peering under the crack of the door. And then the next one, and then the next one. And then he backtracked, and he moved to the right, and he was two doors down when he found it. 

A shadow underneath the sliver of what was visible to him. 

One part of him, far back into the recesses of his mind, noted that it was going to be extremely cold in the winter, and he would have to watch out for any stray bugs trying to crawl under the crack of his door to escape the chill or heat. Be careful of anything that might be poisonous, a friendly, soft voice reminded him. Maybe you should put something there to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Midoriya, for the most part, ignored it as he reached his thin fingers underneath the door and snatched the letter back out. (His knuckles caught on it several times before he managed to get it out, and he was sure that they would be slightly bruised after. He didn't care. It was nothing. Nothing compared to the burning in his lungs and the tears that dried the minute they escaped his tear ducts. Nothing compared to the dry ache in his vocal cords as he screamed and cried and bawled for help. Nothing compared to the pain of fire digging into the side of his neck, growing and growing and getting hotter and hotter. 

At least it was just his neck.) 

He looked down at the innocent white envelope, and he pried it open with careful hands. The last thing he wanted was to rip it open only to find that it was the wrong thing. He pulled out the letter and was relieved to see Hisashi's handwriting. 

He was also disappointed. Afraid. Guilty. He had basically stolen a letter that didn't belong to him. And why shouldn't he receive help from someone else? It wasn't as if they would know the whole truth. Hisashi would have fed the neighbor with white lies and would have guilt-tripped them to no end to help him. 

He was good with words, Midoriya found. 

And then a memory poked him in the side, one of a woman with metal-infused gloves and knee-high leather boots. 

Wavy short hair. A full, blinding smile. 

The guilt remained. The disappointment didn't. 

=====

When he scuttled back into his quaint little apartment, the first thing he did was burn the two letters. 

It was a little difficult without a fireplace. 

Or anything to actually start a fire. 

He organized himself. Found that Hisashi bought quite a few clothes for him and put it in the dresser of his bedroom. He also found a scarf that brought back plenty of repressed memories. It had been crammed into his backpack, the thick blue and green material used to be Horror's Dove before he was captured. He left it behind in their old house.

Huh. 

He bought himself some groceries from a small corner store nearby. (And if he nearly had a meltdown spending that much time outside and checking up all his items, no one bothered to single him out. The cashier gave him a pitying glance when he flinched; it had happened by accident, their hands brushing as he passed over the credit card that was now technically his.) He checked all his recipe books and decided on what he was going to eat that night. And he was endlessly relieved that Hisashi had already stocked the place with all the utensils he needed, because he totally forgot about all of those requirements. 

Making dinner was... eventful. It wasn't bad. He didn't burn it, at the very least. 

He found a long, plastic stopper that had to be cut to put on the bottom of the door, but it helped. Slightly. Maybe. Hopefully. 

Midoriya adapted. It was his job to. But, as his stomach churned, uncomfortable with what it had been given for lunch, he came to the realization that he really wasn't prepared for this. 

But that was okay. He would learn along the way. 

(He'd look back on it one day and realize that, even as an eleven-year-old, halfway to twelve, relief was nonexistent.)

=====

Later, he'll find his notebook that he almost finished before Hisashi drugged him. He'll be pretty sure that he hadn't left it in his backpack before they moved, though, and when he'll open the cover there'll be a post-it note pasted on the first page. 

He will pale and try not to throw up. 

Amazing analysis! it will read. I knew you had some talent in you. Keep up the good work!

It'll almost be enough to convince him not to continue that specific analysis. But then he'll remember the saying that has prevailed through so much time since its beginning. 

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. 

He'll continue his hero analysis. But the only way to be a hero is to know what makes a villain. And so he fills up the last bit of #8. No "Villain Analysis for the Future." No fancy name. It's safer that way. 

And he'll move on to #9. He's only on #5 for hero analysis, and if he'll be honest with himself, he'll have no idea just how he should feel about that. 

=====

Midoriya could go outside. It didn't really hit him for a while, and when it did, it terrified him. What would it be like? Would he meet any heroes? Any villains? 

It took forty-eight hours of tense, anxious internal debate (and not so internal at times when he tried to yell out all the cons of leaving the apartment for reasons other than what was necessity) before he came to a decision. And it was more-or-less "Okay, I'm going to go out there and not have a panic attack because I also need to find some school to enroll in before break is over; if something strange happens I'll just come right back!"

He was trying to reassure himself. Bait himself, even. 

He was halfway out the door when he remembered the scar that covered the one side of his neck. It faded as it reached his shoulder, though faint marks could still be seen down to his collar bone. 

"That's quite the scar there, Izuku." 

He remembered the way the stranger, Disaya, had trailed his fingers along his bare skin. He remembered the way he had said that he was admiring him. And yeah, maybe he was just a creep, but that didn't stop him from grabbing Horror's Dove's scarf and wrapping it around his neck for safekeeping. (The fabric was really pretty anyway.) 

He closed the door behind him and locked it, though he struggled for a minute to actually accomplish said action. The doors overall seemed out of date with the rest of the apartments; they were cheap, and while the rest of the place wasn't much to begin with, at least it was more functional. 

A part of him mused that those in charge of maintaining the apartments probably bought the cheapest doors because they had to continuously replace them, whether that was by the misuse of quirks or crimes that involved knocking the doors off their hinges and demanding payment or ransom. And then, the small rational piece of himself, chided that they were most likely bought because they saved money. Nothing more, nothing less. 

He pocketed his keys before pulling out his phone, looking at the different maps he had already set up. He was determined not to search up anything dangerous on his phone that could be tracked or incriminating—because who knew what kind of bugs and viruses Hisashi put in that thing—but he was assured that searching up different local schools nearby and maps wasn't very compromising. 

... Did normal eleven-year-old kids worry about this stuff? How was he even supposed to know this stuff? Gosh, he had the human interaction skills of a slug. 

No, wait, slugs were miles better than him at this stuff. See, there was one on the pavement right now, just watching its surroundings and fellow biotic organisms that walked past it. All the children and adults that walked a large circle around it made disgusted faces at it, which was certainly more attention than they gave him, another human being.  

Wait. The pavement was baking. The poor slug, was it roasting? Oh crap, was he just going to have to let it die? What was he even supposed to do in this situation? 

He ended up shooting forward and picking up the poor thing, almost falling over in the process. And yeah, he got a few weird looks. But he didn't care. And sure, the slug's texture had to be the most horrifying thing he'd touched to date, but it was also horrifyingly adorable and what the heck was wrong with him. 

The slug liked him though. At least there was that. Because he'd like to have his hands free of slimy creatures, though, he placed the small thing in the folds of his scarf where it could still breathe but wouldn't get burnt to death by the flaming rays of the sun. "No worries, buddy," he whispered to the thing, hoping to any god that can hear him that the slug won't fall out or crawl onto his bare skin. "The sun's out to get me too." 

Yeah. He was officially insane. 

(Someday, in the far future, he would introduce it to a man that he's known almost his whole life, though the same couldn't be said in reversal. And the man would stare at it. And then a small, eerie chuckle would escape him while he grinned.)

The slug (who he eventually decided to call Juni) accompanied him silently as he made his way through town. He walked through a few parks and decided on his favorites, marking them down on a notepad he brought with him. He paused at one when he saw three children walking through slowly. The two youngest ones were excited, constantly barraging and dragging around what was obviously their older sister. She had darker hair and wide eyes, and Midoriya had to hold himself steady against a lonely bench as they called "Tsu! Tsu! Look at this, look at this!"

He felt like he could cry. He didn't. 

Progress on local schools were a little iffier. He tried his best to judge on the exterior and what he could see inside. He looked at students from the windows and tried to see if any of them looked miserable for reasons beyond just having to go to school. He watched as they left to see if any of them immediately jumped up and cheered or if they grabbed a box a cigarettes the second they were off campus grounds and pulled one out to smoke. 

And really, he didn't want to judge a school based on a few individuals and only a few minutes of researching, but it was his only choice. It wasn't as if he could stroll right in and ask to look around the place. He let out a small sigh as he watched a group of kids a few years older talking about drugs (which eliminated that school they came from in a jiffy.) Overall though, most of the schools seemed pretty nice, and though some of them he marked through because he was unhappy with the student body (that he could see of), most of the ones struck through were because of their locations and how extravagant the schools were themselves. It wasn't like he had anything wrong with them, but prestigious schools weren't what he was looking for. 

He stopped in front of the school that he had just ruled out, taking in the neatly trimmed bushes out front and the sort of welcoming feel it had. He was half tempted to put it back on the list, but drugs, whether or not they were related to him, were not something he wanted as a part of his life. And he didn't want to get dragged into anything that made him uncomfortable, for that matter...

He was muttering quietly under his breath, not realizing that he wasn't speaking Japanese until a hand came down on his shoulder. He whipped around to face a woman with hallowed-out cheeks and pale gray eyes. She was looking at him pityingly, and her grip tightened on his shoulder. His heart froze in his throat, a cold rush of panic seizing him as he tried to move away from her ever-tightening grasp. 

"—you okay? You look a little pale, are you lost—" was what he heard before he jerked away and sprinted, ducking his head as he slinked between people in the crowd walking the opposite way. His chest shuddered as he tried to get the feeling of cold, dead hands on his arms and a splintered smile out of his head. "Why don't we add yours to the collection? It would go so well with the rest of them, and I'm sure my apprentice would be very, very happy..." 

He ducked into an alleyway, barely holding his restraint as he puked up what little breakfast he ate that morning. He heaved a few more times, hands over his stomach as his body shook, but nothing came out beyond a few strands of saliva. 

He leaned against the cold stone wall next to him, trying to regulate his breathing as he got his act together. He gripped his left hand tightly, holding it close to his chest as if to protect it. It took him a few minutes to compose himself, and his first thought was oh my gosh did Juni get thrown out with how crazy I was running around—?

The answer was no. He found her just where he put her, and he stared at the small creature that barely made up the size of the end of his finger. It was a little... unnerving, the feeling of the slug on him, but he wasn't lying when he said that it was kind of cute. It had a little circle body and two antennae that held the darkest, emptiest black eyes that stared into his soul. 

... Yeah, it was definitely unnerving. 

Sighing, he gently placed the acorn-looking slug back into the folds of his scarf before scampering out of the alleyway and away from the school he had come across. He couldn't bear the thought of looking at any more schools, and he still felt a little queasy at the thought of doing anything more that could put his stomach at risk. However, the sun was already starting to make its way down, and though he had a couple more hours until sunset, he really needed something to eat, even if it made him nauseous just thinking about it. 

He hadn't eaten much all day despite the strenuous exploration he had, and the last thing he wanted (or needed) was for his health to decline. He rubbed his face as he brought his phone back out, looking up local restaurants and cafes. He noticed movement in his peripheral vision and saw Juni sitting on the very end of his shoulder. "You have any idea what we're going to eat for a late lunch?" 

She remained silent, though her head bobbed slightly. She seemed to be smiling at his pain. 

He sighed for the umpteenth time that day. "Yeah, me neither." After a moment of silence, he slid his phone into his jacket's pocket and decided that instead of becoming a crazy lunatic that talked to slugs for the rest of his life, he was actually going to do something useful. Like head home (on an empty stomach) and decide which school he was going to actually go to.

Which would require paperwork. And parental/guardian confirmation. 

... Looks like he was going to have to forge some emails. Would they believe him if he said that he lived alone with his dad and that he worked overseas for long periods of time? Probably, yeah? 

He asked Juni. She just continued to smile. 

.... Spoiled slug. 

He had just finished narrowing all of his options (which didn't take long, mind you, seeing how he didn't have a very broad selection) to two different schools when Juni twitched on his shoulder. He caught the movement immediately and stopped in his tracks, looking up as he did so. 

He was face-to-face with a small cafe that had a little outdoor area in the front and a quaint inside, warm lighting brightening the inside as waiters and waitresses chatted with their customers as if they were good friends. He glanced warily to the slug on his shoulder. Juni simply looked right back at him, and he swore she looked smug. 

Spoiled Smug Slug. Or the SSS. Either way, that was her official title from then on, Midoriya decided. 

He quietly entered through the front entryway and promptly flinched when the bell above the door tinkled merrily. It... wasn't something he was entirely used to seeing, but he was sure he would be able to get used to it soon. No one spared him a glance, which he greatly appreciated. He made his way to the counter and gripped the small amount of money he brought with him as he looked at all the pastries and sweets and things written on a board behind the cashier. He glanced around him to make sure that no one was going to try and touch him out of nowhere like the woman did before when the woman working behind the counter noticed him. 

"Oh! Hello sweetie!" Midoriya blinked up at her. Usually, a phrase like that would make him flinch, but in all honesty... He appreciated that she didn't speak in a higher voice just because he was smaller and younger. Sure, he didn't know how many people this woman would call "sweetie" if they were her age, but it was the slight tone of her voice that counted. "What can I help you with today?"

She also didn't ask questions, which was nice. 

He rubbed the back of his head as he tried to push down his nerves for being put on the spot. Honestly, he had no idea what he wanted, and he bit his lower lip as he looked at the various items on the menu. Luckily, the woman seemed to sense his hesitation and chuckled. "Yeah, there's a lot of stuff up there. It can get kind of overwhelming, can't it?" 

Midoriya could definitely agree with that. 

"Is there anything you're specifically looking for?" she asked, and Midoriya debated his options before finally responding verbally. 

"Do you... have anything easy to stomach?" 

The woman blinked in surprise, but she nodded sagely. "Oh yeah, I can see why that'd be a problem." She hummed for a second before her eyes lit up. "We have a couple of soups for you, if you'd like. These two—" She pointed to two specific ones on the board. "—are nutritional and they're easy to get down and digest. We have a couple of teas as well that help settle the stomach..." She trailed off, her brows furrowing as she tried to solve whatever was going through her mind. She grabbed a hand menu that was laminated from underneath the counter and pushed it toward him. She pointed to the first soup. "This is a favorite, but I don't think they go very well with any of the teas we're selling here. Or the teas that help with stomach problems, anyway. So, I suggest going with this soup and one of these three teas." She hummed again. "Are you lactose intolerant?" 

Midoriya shook his head, which seemed to narrow it down for her. She nodded again. "I would go with this one then. It's a littler on the soft side and doesn't pack as much of a punch as the others do. Of course, the flavor's a bit diluted, but it's super easy on the digestive system as long as you can handle dairy products. Then it's a nightmare and a half." 

Midoriya nodded, muttering a small "That sounds good" before falling silent. He couldn't help the small smile that twitched on his face, though. He... liked her. It was definitely a change of pace, and he handed her the money she asked for. She sent him a smile and pointed him to a small table not too far away, telling him that his order would be out in a minute. 

(She wasn't lying, but Midoriya hadn't realized that she was being literal at the time.) 

Aside from his soup and tea, a small plate the size of his palm was set out with just the slightest bit of water in the indented middle. He had no idea why it was there until Juni started to crawl down his arm, to which he grabbed her (the poor thing was only halfway there) and placed her in the water. 

She was happy. And definitely smug. 

=====

He placed Juni outside in the shade as he walked back home. "Don't get killed," he whispered to her before arriving at his apartment. His stomach was full and was feeling better thanks to the woman's recommendations. He sighed lightly as he stretched. He took a quick shower and wrapped himself in his blankets before looking at his list of schools. On his phone, reviews that he managed to scrounge up from them were listed. 

He found the school he wanted pretty easily. 

And it was just a bonus that they seemed to take his email and explanation without too much suspicion. 

He fell asleep late despite the fact that he got home around four-thirty. He skipped dinner, too afraid that anything he made wouldn't be as effective as the little cafe he came across. (Though, he was improving a little bit in his cooking skills, which was enough for him.) He had managed to finally get his chest to lie flat on the ground, and he was working on his balance and overall klutziness before he finally stopped and rested. 

He woke up early, bleary eyes taking in the patterns on his ceiling. He listened to the birds chirping and singing, letting it ease some of the tension before he rubbed his eyes and sat up. He glanced over at his clock, which read six forty-five. He blinked, noticing the light chill that made him shiver as he tried to pull his covers back up to his shoulders. And holy cow where was that breeze coming from? He looked back at his clock and then noticed the acorn-like shape on his nightstand. 

Midoriya stared. 

Juni stared back. 

Midoriya glanced up at the window, which was open just a crack (just enough for a slug to slink through), and then back to the slug. "Did you...?" He opened and closed his mouth, trying to come up with words to describe just how bizarre this was. "Wha..." He pointed to the scene of the crime. Eventually he choked out, "How did you open my window?" His voice continuously got higher and cracked on the last syllable. 

Juni just complacently looked at him.

Spoiled-Smug-Snail-that-could-officially-open-windows was her new title, and anyone who said otherwise could take it away from his cold, dead hands if they wanted to. 

So. Juni had a quirk. Which wasn't unreasonable, really, because Midoriya knew plenty about animals having them before. In fact, the world's most prestigious hero school, U.A., was run by an animal-like creature. Who was literally smarter than about a hundred people put together. 

So what if Juni had god-like powers? It wasn't like she was invincible or anything. 

=====

"What." 

He took everything back. 

Juni stared back at him innocently. He was pretty sure she was immortal. She hadn't eaten anything as of recent, was dry as all heck, and he pretty much stepped on her eight times by accident. And don't even get him started on the fact that a frying pan that should have cut her in half (you know, because clumsy him dropped the thing) bounced harmlessly off of her. 

And then his backpack crushed her. Like, right in front of him. And yet she was perfectly fine. 

I thought slugs were supposed to have really weak bodies, he couldn't help but think. All I feel is like she's toying with my very existence and disobeying every rule of physics imaginable. 

And to make all matters worse, she wouldn't blink. 

He sighed and rubbed his face tiredly before he turned from her and headed to his bedroom, looking for his shoes. When he got in the doorway, Juni was right back to sitting on his nightstand. He blinked at her once before looking behind him. The place where she had just been sitting was gone. 

What. 

"You know what?" he said, partly to himself and partly to the disgusting creature in front of him. "I give up. I'm not going to question you. Do as you please. I really don't care." He crouched as he put his shoes on, untangling the laces so he could retie them. It didn't take long, and soon he had his scarf in hand and was ready to go—

He turned around to see that the slug was taking his word and had already grown eight times in size and steadily continuing. 

"Oh godJuni, no! I was being sarCASTIC—!" 

=====

He explored a little further the same day (after convincing Juni that, no, he didn't want a slime hug, thank you very much), taking it easy after yesterday's... incident. He kept his eyes peeled for anything that might appeal to him, though. While it was nice to be out of Hisashi's hair, it also meant that he was alone with too much time on his hands. And no, Juni didn't really count as something to really do, though he supposed her little distractions from how much alone time he had was something he could appreciate. 

But still, recording and analyzing heroes and villains wasn't something he could occupy himself with forever. And while taking extra academic classes and lessons on top of the work he usually got in school helped a little bit, he wanted something that would focus on the physical side of him. A part of him that he never really got to develop, except for the stretches and flexibility work he did. There was a part of him that longed to go out and be fit and physical, but it had been restrained since Hisashi had taken him in. 

And... it left a little hole in his heart that grew and grew as time passed. Not that he had been in the best of shape before he was found by Hisashi, but... 

He sighed before stopping in the middle of the street. He... he couldn't keep doing this. Midoriya knew who Hisashi was, knew what he was capable of... That kind of information was dangerous. He was dangerous. And if he continuously brought up memories of him, he was bound to slip up sometime, and the aftermath couldn't be pretty. 

He thought about the eight entries he had on Hisashi. 

People who deal with trauma tend to suppress their memories of it as a way of not having to relive it, an article he read had said. But he wasn't traumatized, right? He was just... trying to keep his secret safe. 

Yeah. 

Juni looked at him, and if slugs could look sad, Midoriya would think that she would be too. 

=====

"A gymnastics class?" he said aloud as he stared at the poster. Juni looked excited. (While, if a slug could be excited.) "Maybe I should do that," he muttered. "I'm already pretty flexible, so I have some of that down. And maybe they could help me with my balance? That would be pretty helpful." Especially because he was a klutz at heart and soul. 

And so he found himself in the large warehouse-converted-gymnasium sort of building, awkwardly watching as several instructors ordered for different people to do different things. Beginners, it seemed like, were being pushed into their stretches and basic cartwheels. Those taking a more challenging course were running off a sort of ramp before doing several tricks—front flips, back flips, intricate body movements and twists—and landing. Some didn't stick it, and their instructor told them to do it again, while others made it first try, eloquently landing in a pose of grace. Advanced gymnasts were on a balance beam, always one small movement from falling and maybe injuring themselves completely, though they performed without fear. Others were doing whole choreographed dances on the trampolines. 

Overall, he was a little overwhelmed. And slightly, very terrified. Because he was way out of his league. He was about to back away and leave when a voice called him out.

"Ah, are you here for lessons, by chance?" 

Midoriya flinched but prepared himself for contact. All he had to do was make sure he didn't puke all over the floor. That was all. Easy. He turned to the man that was easing his way up to him, a natural smile on his face. Midoriya tried to return one, though he was sure it was weak at best. "A-ah, well, I seem to be a bit behind," he said, trying to scramble for an excuse. "So maybe I'll just join next year." Yeah. That wasn't rude. And if he didn't actually show up next year, well, that was okay too. 

The man laughed, and he seemed a bit embarrassed. "Yeah, our classes usually start together. We began a month ago or so on our newest batch of kids." His embarrassment faded though, and he rested his hands on his hips. "But you shouldn't worry about that. In fact, usually there's a whole group of kids who join in a little late. I'm their instructor until I see that they're at the spot they need to be, and then I let them join the other classes." 

"Oh!" Oh. Oh no. "Well, that's pretty fascinating...? But I-I don't see your class anywhere." Please don't tell me, please don't tell me, please don't—

"Ah, you make a good point. But actually, I only had four students this year start late. Two of them are already in our intermediate class, and the other two had to leave due to their family moving overseas." The man's smile seemed to only get brighter. Midoriya wondered if he was going to have to buy sunglasses to protect his eyes. "If you want to join, it would just be us two working on your skills. One-on-one practice, as much or as many times as you need it. Of course," the man hastily added, "don't feel pressured if you don't want to do it. I know for some people it's just really not their thing." 

Well, great. The guy just made him feel really guilty. And his smile made it hard to even consider refusing. Plus, this was what he wanted: something to distract himself and a good way to stay in shape. It was a double plus, right? 

The hairs on the end of his neck stood up and he instinctively ducked his head as someone neared by. It was one of the louder instructors, a female with hair that could tie itself. She was grinning as she came up, saying something about how the guy in front of him would finally have a student to occupy himself with when she made to clap her hand on his back. 

Midoriya flinched and cowered, though a hand swiftly intervened and grabbed her by the wrist. The man was still smiling, though there was a hidden warning in his gaze, and he looked back to Midoriya. "Sorry," he apologized, and Midoriya kind of hated that he sounded sincere, "she's a bit unconscious of other people's boundaries at times." 

Midoriya stared at the man and the way he was keeping the other instructor from doing anything to scare him off, as if he knew that he had a few problems with touch. And then he took in the man's stance, welcoming and comfortable, with broad shoulders and lean form that he didn't use to make himself more formidable. 

"It's—" He swallowed the lump in his throat. "It's fine. Really." 

The man shot him a sad, small smile. "We have practice two days from now, from two to four. If you want to join us then, don't hesitate to come. You're always welcome." He finally let go of his colleague's wrist, and she seemed to understand. She sent a small wave to him as she mouthed 'sorry' before walking back to her group of intermediate students. 

"Anyway," the man said as he walked over to the front of the warehouse, Midoriya falling behind his heels, "I have a small schedule for the month." He pulled a sheet of paper from a stack that sat in an unused chair alongside several other mounds and folders of paperwork. He handed it back to Midoriya, who took it with hesitant hands. 

"Before you leave, unless you'd like to stay, my name is Hiroji Chikara." The man smiled his perfect, bright smile at him. "Though you may call me just by Chikara. I don't believe that mentor and mentee, should we have that relationship, should have the barrier of formalities." He suddenly paused and glanced around before whispering to Midoriya, "Though don't tell the old man over there I said that. He would gut me." 

And, honestly? Midoriya couldn't help it. A small giggle escaped him as he smiled. "My name is Midoriya Izuku, and..." He paused, and his small smile turned a little hesitant. "I'll definitely think about it." 

Hiroji's face had to have brightened by six notches. "That's very brave of you, Midoriya-kun!" 

As Midoriya left, Juni still curiously watching on his shoulder, Hiroji's smile slowly faded. He sighed heavily. 

"Some days, I wish I could never see a person's mental state," he murmured to himself. "Maybe it would spare me the pain."  

He wasn't expecting Midoriya to ever come back. 

=====

Midoriya mumbled to himself as he walked out of the martial arts building. It was definitely funded better than the gymnastics place had, and it had all sorts of equipment and air conditioning, but the warehouse was a little bit more like home. Then again, self defense was one of the biggest things he wanted to work on, and so he'd have to focus more on that than Hiroji's class.

He honestly... wasn't expecting it to go so well, though. The martial arts teacher was definitely demanding, and he was a lot more rough around the edges than Hijori, but he still had that same spark of kindness in his eyes an a charismatic smile. The man seemed to be a little disappointed when Midoriya pointed out that he wouldn't be able to join on a few days, but he lightened up when he explained the schedule overlaps. 

"My fiancee was actually friends with the guy when they were in college. Really smart dude, but has the heart of gold." And then, "Sure, I don't see what the problem with that is. He's going to push you pretty hard too, so it's not like you're slacking off anyway." 

Midoriya was a little lost when it came to which style he wanted to actually practice in and use, but the man (who simply went by Master Splinter, for whatever reason) pointed out a few techniques that could go well with something gymnastics-related. Most of what he suggested was flowing and dodging his opponent's movements while making quick and sharp retaliations. 

In fact, it all went smoothly until "Master Splinter" asked him what his quirk was. The only thing he could manage was a dry throat and the clenching of his fists as he tried to choke out a few words. The man seemed to understand and simply changed the direction of the conversation. 

Hugging his arms close to his body, he looked both ways down the street. He felt a little relieved, happy that things went as well as they did. He looked to Juni and asked her if she wanted to go back to the little cafe they ate at yesterday.

He took her silence as a confirmation, and halfway through his phone buzzed. He was half tempted to ignore it (because honestly, why should he interrupt his conversation with Juni) but decided he'd rather know what was going on than what wasn't. 

It was an email from the school he had chosen. It was basic, short, and to the point. He had to fill out a few forms, and then he was to tour the school, and then take an exam to see where he stood. 

(The principal, who Midoriya would soon meet, would be nice. Ish. But he would take one look at Midoriya's final test score and accept him in without questioning the reliability of the personal files Midoriya gave him. It would make Midoriya wary, and a little bit suspicious, not that he showed it.)

Midoriya had just finished reading it when Juni reached her small body upward. It was a signal, Midoriya quickly learned, that meant that she wanted him to stop. He peered upward to find a small bookshop. It had a few beanbags in the corners—which were taken up by a few people with their noses in their books—and large, wide windows made up most of its front, letting light in freely. 

He was about to question how his little friend even knew all of these places but decided otherwise when he realized that he would probably look insane. Sighing, he noted it down on his notepad and moved on. He was sure that he was going to come back to it, but he had more important things to think about; that, and he wasn't sure he'd be able to stop himself from checking out so many books that he would get distracted from what his priorities were. 

He had another wonderful dinner at the little cafe. The woman was still there, gentle smile and deep voice and wonderful suggestions leaving him just a little warmer when he left. 

He didn't bother setting Juni outside and brought her to his apartment. Just as he was unlocking the door, one of his neighbors began to leave. She was a woman that seemed to be in her forties or fifties, and her hair was tied into a loose bun, loose strands sticking out and sweeping across her forehead. She smiled, her wrinkles stretching pleasantly as she waved at him. 

She was the one supposed to take care of him. He felt a little less guilty that such a sweet-looking woman wouldn't have to be burdened with taking care of a kid with issues that had nothing to do with her. 

Midoriya's shoulders were hunched, not that he was aware of it. His scarf bunched up loosely around his neck as he send a timid smile in return before promptly shoving himself inside, breathing heavily and heart beating rapidly. He slid down the door and curled up at the bottom, leaning the back of his head against the cool wood. 

Five days. It had only been five days, and in only one he had actually participated in any real human interaction. He thought about the barely-there composure he had and the quiver in his hands. He ran a hand through his hair before standing up on shaky legs. He turned on the TV after a moment of hesitation and listened to the news reporters talk about Endeavor's latest achievements as he made himself a cup of tea with trembling hands. He almost slipped up once, but he managed to keep his grip on it. When he turned around with a cup of hot tea in his hands, he found his notebook and a pencil sitting innocently on the small island. Juni was sitting next to it, and he shook his head fondly as he dragged a chair up to the counter. 

He quietly opened the notebook (Hero Analysis for the Future #5) and flipped to the page where Endeavor was already drawn. He had left quite a few pages blank that he had yet to fill in, though he was a little disappointed when he had a lot of complaints and criticisms of the hero than he did praises. It wasn't as if he had anything to hold against the man, but his ego and general inability to work efficiently without causing much harm to others and his surroundings made it a little hard to favor him. Though it was true that he worked constantly and dealt with more cases than almost anyone else, something about him screamed the word "facade." He tried to remain unbiased, but he could think of many different heroes who could be better suited to the job. 

Sighing before closing his notebook, he reached for the remote controller to the TV and shut it off. He pulled out his phone, hesitated, and then pulled up a website that allowed him to listen to Hero Present Mic's radio show. Hopefully, if Hisashi did leave some sort of bug he would think that Midoriya was just trying to... stake out the competition? Or maybe something like that. 

He allowed himself to relax under Present Mic's voice, listening to him answer his viewers' questions about hero life and mundane things. He said a few inspirational things that made his listeners happy and then moved on to the next topic. Midoriya stared at the small schedule in his hand as he thought about his choices. 

He didn't have to do this, a part of him said. 

Midoriya thought about the man with the kind smile and the bright eyes. He looked down at himself, at his small, frail form. 

"Can I?  Can I save them?"

The man smiled. "You'll find a way."

And, when it came down to it, it didn't really matter what he wanted. He had to do something, and the gymnastics and martial arts class was the closest chance he got. He really shouldn't have a choice. There was none. 

"And if there is anyone out there shooting for a hero school, I want you all to remember our motto!" 

Midoriya glanced to Juni, who was curled up with her eyes wandering, like she was watching out for him. He closed his eyes and rubbed his eyes before shooting the paper in his hands and small, hesitant grimace. 

Plus Ultra it was, then. 

=====

Hiroji was watching over the other instructors start to warm up and call out for their specific groups. He was half tempted to just help his colleagues instead of just throwing out pointers and practicing with those falling a little behind. His friend—the one who he was pretty sure scared off his only hope—was bubbly rambling on about how her niece was doing beside him. He wasn't paying that much attention, to be honest. There were only so many times you could hear about the kid's first time eating ice cream before you clawed your own eyes out. 

He was watching as the old man (that was what everyone called him) started yelling at his students to get in line when he received a blow to his ribs. He coughed and held his arms protectively around him as he whipped toward his friend. "What was that for?" he hissed, only to find her grinning as she pointed somewhere over his shoulder. He followed her, mouth open in surprise as he recognized the fluff of dark green hair and same colored eyes, freckles painfully contrasted against his pale skin. 

He was wearing something a little more fitted to the occasion, and he was wearing athletic shorts and shirt with long sleeves. He still had his scarf around his neck, too (and Hiroji recognized that he probably wasn't going to take it off, seeing how he had purposefully wrapped it tightly around it before tucking the loose ends in.) He seemed a little hesitant, wary even, but a small bit of tension in his shoulders loosened when Hiroji approached him. 

"I must say," he said before he could stop himself, "I really didn't think you were gonna come back. I mean, it's great that you did, and it's a real pleasure, but... well, you know what I mean." 

He swore a little bit of light entered his eyes as he awkwardly coughed. "Yeah..." He scuffed the end of his shoe into the floor. 

Hiroji brushed the awkwardness that came with the still-developing conversation. This was fine. Midoriya was still reciprocating his approach, which was enough progress in of itself. "Here, there's an empty cubbyhole over here where you can put your stuff before we begin. Do you have anything you want to ask before we start?" 

Midoriya seemed to ponder as he placed his few belongings, which mainly included a water bottle, a key, and a slug(?). "Is this... going to require a lot of physical contact?"

Hiroji hummed. "I'll be honest with you, probably more than you might be comfortable with. I don't want you to accidentally break your neck or something else. However..." He tapped his chin. "I think we won't need any in the beginning. Once we get the basics down, that might change, but I don't think you have to worry about it. We can go at your pace." 

Midoriya finally turned to him and looked him in the eye. "Okay." 

"Okay," he echoed. "Ready to start?"

=====

Midoriya was walking down his street when his body suddenly tensed, and he immediately stopped himself from his walk home. He glanced around at his surroundings, quickly finding an alleyway to duck into. He felt a drop of sweat crawl down his neck as he crouched and held a hand over his mouth to muffle his breathing. He stilled as he looked out quietly, tensing as a figure wearing a dark hoodie walked past him. 

The young man was eerily familiar. His unhealthy pallor made him look sickly as he shoved his hands in his pockets. He was muttering to himself as he clenched and unclenched his fists angrily, and Midoriya shook as he heard his footsteps slowly fade out of his range. Terror gripped at him as he struggled to remain aware of his surroundings. He had no idea that he was around here, so why?—

There was a young woman with wavy, short hair and hazel eyes. She had knee-high boots and a great big smile. She tucked him into bed at night and kissed the pain away when the injury on the side of his neck hurt too much to bear. 

"You'll face him one day," she promised him. 

Midoriya walked home, cautious of every hiding spot and dark figures, hoping that he would never run into him again until he was ready. 

"Shigaraki." 

Chapter Text

He got his freckles from his mother. 

She was a beautiful woman. Not that he remembered much of her, nor were her features were ever permanent. Her face and hair color were constantly changing, and even now he wasn't quite sure what she really looked like. The one thing he did know, however, was that she had always kept her freckles. If he remembered correctly, his father liked them too. 

His mother's quirk allowed her to morph her body into any way she wanted it to. Shapeshift, she called it. She changed her hair's color regularly. She slimmed her waist and curved her hips a bit, and she hid the thousands of long, jagged scars that covered her body. Cameras and recording devices all picked up the change. The only thing that kept her original form were mirrors. So, they simply didn't have mirrors in their house. She stayed away from any place that had them on the walls or reflective glass along skyscrapers. 

She hated them. With a passion. His father, patient in all senses of the word, didn't argue. Or, he didn't think they argued. They had some debates, but they were all in kind words and gentle reassurances. His mother was always anxious. She was constantly looking over her shoulder the couple times he remembered going out with her. 

He didn't remember his father very well. He was pretty sure he was quiet. Careful. Understanding. Other than a few select memories, he didn't recall anything about them. 

There was a small memory, where he caught his mom in the mirror for the first time. She looked so, so sad as her scars made patterns in what skin she showed to the world. Her hair was a dark orange, and her eyes were dark black like that of an onyx. Her body was no longer hourglass-shaped and was sort of rigid, her flat chest almost too broad for the feminine clothing she wore. 

She looked like a guy, to be honest. Perhaps she was one before she changed her body. Midoriya wasn't quite sure, but he wasn't really curious enough to find out. 

Another recollection of his was when his mother and father were whispering quietly about Midoriya long after he was supposed to be in bed. Most of the conversation had long since been lost in time, but he faintly recognized the flinch his mother made when his father mentioned the quirk that he would soon manifest when he came of age. 

There had been uncertainty there. Neither of them knew just what kind of quirk Midoriya would end up inheriting. 

And then, his favorite. The one he remembered the most. (Well, almost the most. But not quite. That was reserved for a different memory.)

"There's always a balance. You don't need to listen to people to know who you are. Just look in the mirror. But you don't need to look in the mirror to know who you are. Listen to people. The best kind of person does both." 

His mother was experienced. Perhaps not a genius, or a philosopher, but she acquired skill and comprehension through the darkest corners of life. But everything came at a price, he supposed, and he still remembered the shrieks of terror that escaped her as he accidentally sent her into a panic attack. 

Knowledge was power until the trauma came back to haunt you. 

=====

Midoriya always had troubles with his dreams. It was a blessing if he didn't dream at all, though it only happened on rare occasions. Most nights involved waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweat and nausea, clenching the side of his bedside table with fingers that turned white with the amount of pressure on them. He would gasp for breath and stick his left hand under his shirt, resting it close to his heart to reassure himself. 

Rarer nights included those memories of a man long since dead. The two chatted. They watched the world go by. The man would interlink their hands and reassure him that he would do things as they were meant to be. "You'll find a way," he always said, self-assured and confident in what he claimed was concrete. But he was also a little quiet, withdrawn on his best days. 

Then there were his other dreams. The dreams that he couldn't tell whether he hated or was envious of. 

He was warm in his dream, borderline hot. He was resting somewhat peacefully when dream-him opened his eyes blearily and squinted at the rays of light that peeked between the closed curtains. He had been sleeping on his side, and he could faintly feel another body pressing up behind him, their even breaths just loud enough that he could catch up on it.  

He groaned as he turned onto his other side, pulling the covers higher up his shoulders. He sighed as he recognized the person in bed with him, and he grumbled something unintelligible before curling up into their chest. This wasn't the first time this happened, but the least they could do was warn him before so he didn't accidently throw them off his bed...

The person twitched and circled their arms around his body, pulling him even closer. They hummed before resting their chin on the top of his head.

"I hope you know that everyone's going to act as if we're a couple now for the rest of eternity thanks to you," he said, no bite present in his words.

They hummed noncommittally. A small, comfortable silence fell over the two of them.

"Another nightmare?" he asked.

They hummed again. "Calamari 'sn't here. Didn't wan' wake you up. You don't get much sleep anyway, and you 'eemed peaceful." 

"And so you risked getting your behind handed to you for a rude awakening," he said dryly. The other chuckled, and he sighed exasperatedly at their carelessness. 

"You're a good snuggle partner, Mido."

He huffed, though he hid a smile. "Just go back to sleep."

"Mmm... I can do that." Suddenly, they stiffened. "Wait, no, I can' sleep. I gotta do my essay, Aizawa-sensei will kill me otherwise—"

"Sero." 

"What?" 

"Shut up. You already forced your way into my bedroom, you might as well stick around. I'll help you after." 

Sero hugged him tighter. "Thanks, dude. You're the best friend in the world. Snuggles, educational help, and some sleep? Maybe I should just—"

"Sero, go to sleep." 

He laughed softly before drifting off. And Midoriya joined him not too long after. 

And then he woke up. Alone. Smaller. 

No Sero Hanta in sight. 

He stared at his hands for a long, long time, not in the mood to get up and go to his eighteenth day of school. Juni was there, though, her small body curled up between his hands. She looked at him with careful eyes, reminding him that he wasn't alone. 

So he went to school. 

=====

None of the other students talked to him. They weren't mean, but they weren't nice either, and some of them stared at him as he walked past. One of his classmate's nose wrinkled when he entered the classroom, blurting out "Oh great, the weird kid's here" by total accident. One of the other girls slapped him upside the head and tried to apologize for him, explaining that his quirk allowed him to see how many times a person had lied with a side effect that made him speak his mind without restraint. She couldn't look him in the eyes as she did, and Midoriya felt his heart clench as everyone averted their eyes. 

He didn't know why they did. He wasn't creepy, right? Granted, he was a little rough around the edges when it came to expressing happy emotions, and his smile was always a little contrived, but he wasn't... creepy? There was literally a kid who sat two seats away from him whose skin was constantly decomposing, and often his cheeks had holes in them from it rotting. 

So... what was wrong with him? 

The answer was that he was too quiet, he would later learn from a sympathetic male who knew what was going on. He had nothing to say, his quirk wasn't visible, and he was grossly intelligent, and no one knew how to accept that. He explained that there simply wasn't much else other than that. They weren't trying to be mean, he amended, just weren't used to having new students join. The school was small, and most of them had grown up with each other since they were in preschool. 

So he remained polite. He smiled persistently. It was a little easier to do, but he knew it still came out awkward and forced. He helped his classmates when he had to, and sometimes, if it seemed as if no one else was going to help, he helped when he didn't. And they were polite too. 

The barrier between him and everyone else never cracked, though. It was firm, and as the days passed and the excitement of his entrance faded, it grew. It almost seemed to separate him from everyone else. 

Which was fine. Juni slept in the folds of his scarf, and they sat together, alone, during lunch time. And that was also okay. He didn't need anyone else.

(Someday, lunch would be filled with laughter and deep conversations. Jokes, analyses, and sometimes food would bounce around to each person that surrounded him. And maybe a few "What a mad banquet of darkness"s too, which often sent him into a fit of giggles for no real reason.) 

=====

"I'm going to grab your waist, okay?" 

Hiroji always warned him when they were going to have physical contact before he did anything. It was something that Midoriya had an endless amount of appreciation for, even if it was something as simple as the man putting his hand on his shoulder or catching him when he was about to fall over. The man seemed to always know just what to say and how to react when he shied away from doing any activities that involved touching someone. 

"That's okay," he would say. "We can just do something else in the meantime."

Midoriya remembered how, after a few practices, the two of them planned to finally start on branching out to things past basic rolls, cartwheels, and physical stretches. They had planned to start on front and back handsprings the week after, and he had actually been pretty excited. 

He walked in that day for practice, ready to puke and cry. He had a particularly bad string of nightmares, and he accidentally bumped into someone which sent him to the ground. He panicked and found himself late to class, hiding in the bathrooms to wash away the taste of puke from his mouth with the grimy tap water. Almost immediately upon walking into the warehouse, Hiroji sat him down and gave him a little bit of water. They did a few stretches, and Hiroji showed him a few techniques to release the tension and soreness in his aching muscles that he hadn't yet picked on. Then the man asked him to walk across the balance beam several times, just enough so that he could grow a bit more comfortable before the got into it. 

Midoriya asked him why he decided to put it off when the man dismissed him early. He simply smiled and said that he thought it would be best to wait another day. 

He had gymnastics two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were dedicated to his martial arts class. The weekends were left to him, which he did on purpose. It allowed him to have free time to settle himself and ease the tension the week continuously built up. He and Juni would often sit on the couch, a cup of tea in one hand and a pen in the other, recording any new hero debuts and updating information on both heroes and villains that he already made bios for. 

It was pleasant. 

Hiroji and Midoriya were standing on one of the trampolines already, and the latter was eyeing Hiroji carefully as he nodded to the man's hidden request. The man gave a reassuring nod before he was standing to Midoriya's side. They had been on the trampolines only three times now, though the two stayed long after most people did and worked sometimes three to four hours at a time, so the material wasn't too foreign underneath his feet. Midoriya felt a little guilty at that since he paid the organization by the amount of practices he went to (and so he was basically getting more than what he paid for with Hisashi's money), but the man waved him off.

He took a shaky breath, feeling Hiroji's fingers grazing his stomach and back before he jumped and used his momentum to flip backwards. Immediately, strong hands tightened around his middle and twisted him the rest of the way, landing him back on his feet. "Remember to jump upward, not back. That's how you end up head-first into the ground," Hiroji reminded him gently. "Again?" 

Midoriya nodded, and he bounced back up, going through the exact same motion. He knew that he twisted a little bit too late, but Hiroji's arms saved him the pain of landing awkwardly on the ground. The man smiled. "Better," he said before gesturing for them to do it again. And again. And then they switched to front flips, which were marginally easier to do. And then they practiced some more, until Midoriya was sure that he was going to have the imprints of the special trampoline's cords permanently ingrained into the bottoms of his feet. He felt his thigh and calf muscles strain under the pressure of having to do any more jumps when Hiroji finally ceased practice, ending with a small collection of different stretches so he wouldn't be as sore for his martial arts training the next day. The man shooed him off shortly after, locking up the doors since they were the last ones to leave. Before they parted ways, he brought up a little bit of a concern. 

"I don't mind you wearing your scarf, Midoriya. But It scares me, what might happen if one of the ends comes undone and you end up really hurting yourself. Could you maybe think of something else to use that might make you comfortable?" 

Midoriya blinked but nodded silently. He understood and turned to leave, slowly making his way home. He stopped by the grocery store before he arrived at the apartment, toeing off his shoes and leaving them by the entryway as he carried the bags in. Juni was sulking because she didn't get to be spoiled as she did when she was at that little cafe, but she soon cheered up a little bit and watched with fascination as he cooked himself something new from his recipe book. He was getting better, he knew that, and he could actually say that the meal was enjoyable. 

But it had yet to reach the point of actually being impressive. (Of course, that could also just be the fact that he couldn't eat as much as he would have liked to, which also warped his vision.)

He sighed as he rinsed his plate, letting his hands stay under the warm water for a bit before he moved on to the pan beside him. Juni was sitting on top of the tap, occasionally dipping herself into the water when she thought he wasn't looking. Or maybe she knew he saw her, she was just unbothered about any consequences that he didn't have the heart to put on her. 

Sassy-Spoiled-Smug-Slug-Can-Open-Windows, also known as the SSSSCOW, had him wrapped around her little antennae, and they had only known one another for a few weeks at most. Which was both disconcerting and partly a relief, since he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to trust anyone anymore. He sighed quietly as he placed the last fork into the dishwasher, pulling out some dish soap to pour into the container. He then capped the bottle and put it away, flipping the lid on the small box as he went before shutting the dishwasher with his foot. He reminded himself to put dish soap on his grocery list since he was running low as he picked up Juni in his hands. 

Part of him wanted to go to sleep, but... 

He sighed and placed Juni on his shoulder as he picked up his scarf from the back of his couch. He wrapped it around his neck loosely before slipping on a pair of shoes, heading outside. Immediately he shuddered at the cold wind, and he walked quickly back inside to grab his biggest hoodie and throw it on himself to keep him warm. His scarf was trapped underneath the big piece of clothing, but he supposed it could be worse. He grabbed his keys from the counter (of course he nearly forgot them) and placed them in his pockets before heading out, managing to lock the door behind him without too much problem. 

Small, sparse droplets of rain hit his skin, and he winced as he realized that he had yet to actually buy an umbrella yet. He supposed that that was something he could do while he was out. 

An eleven-year-old walking in the dark raised a few eyebrows at him, but he was happy to see that he was practically alone at every corner. His surroundings seemed to a nice mix of quiet but busy, which was helpful in cases where he needed to blend in. He hummed lightly to himself as he walked down another sidewalk. His hands were starting to grow incredibly cold, and his breath was visible in front of him. He shivered and picked up the pace as the wind grew stronger, flinging pellets of water at his face. He blinked them away as he finally found a small shop at the end of the block, and he welcomed himself in with a sigh of relief. He felt his scarf shift as Juni poked her head out before disappearing back inside. 

The bell attached to the door rung, and he flinched. It was a deeper sound than the one in his favorite cafe's bell, though the sound was almost indistinguishable. The store was small, and one of the overhead lights was flickering, but overall it had nice quality items and a variety of things to choose from. He quickly walked over to one section of the store, finding different umbrellas, coats, and windbreakers lining the walls and racks. He held his hands together behind his back as he looked between all the different choices. Eventually, he turned to the small blob in his scarf and whispered to Juni. 

"Anything you like?"

Juni popped her head back out, eyes wandering as she drank in her surroundings. Midoriya blinked, and she appeared on one of the racks holding a few copies of the same jacket. He nodded as he picked out one just a little bigger than his size (he wanted to grow in some of these) and ran the dark maroon fabric between his fingers. It was good quality, so it would last a while, which was good enough for him. He looked up to find that Juni was sitting patiently on another rack, one that held a dark gray windbreaker that had four thin lines running up the sides of the sleeves and down the shoulders, before ending in the middle of the neck. (He tried to ignore the fact that the colors were gold, red, blue, and white, otherwise known as All Might's colors.)

Juni didn't like any of the umbrellas though, which was a shame, because it seemed like it was really starting to rain harder outside. He sighed as he realized that he was probably going to have to make use of his windbreaker as the whistling sound of the air current against the windows grew louder. It took him half a minute to attract the attention of the woman who was supposed to be working behind the counter. She narrowed her yellow eyes at him, her droopy ears twitching angrily. He floundered a bit under her gaze, reminded of bright sunny eyes that, when clouded with rage, turn into a fiery orange. 

He was quick to get out of there, to say the least, just barely remembering to rip of the tags before he left. He shrugged on his windbreaker, trying to ignore the freezing cold that seeped through his two layers. The small pocket of his shirt was soon filled as Juni burrowed herself inside to escape the cold; he had to scold her slightly because her slime was a job in of itself to get out of his clothes, but he didn't pull her out. Lightning flashed silently as he ran further into the heart of the city, his one arm still tightly holding his jacket as his other hand—his left one—tried to regain some warmth by hiding in the pocket across his stomach. 

He had to duck into an alleyway as a few shady-looking people walked the opposite way, toward him, and he heard a few of their slurred voices over the pounding of the rain on the asphalt. Mentions of burglary and Missionary Banks immediately drew his attention; he pulled his phone from outside his pocket and took a few pictures of them. He wasn't the definition of inconspicuous, but he was sneaky enough and they were tipsy anyway. 

He narrowed his eyes at the pictures he took, a little disappointed that most of them were blurry when he settled on the final one. Lightning just flashed, giving his phone more lighting to pick up on as the group turned the corner, catching most of their features. 

Bingo. 

A soft, deep rumble echoed in the gray and black clouds, and he flinched. Instinctively, he pulled his arms over his head, shutting his eyes tightly as the sleeves of his jacket came loose from where they were neatly folded and hit his forehead. 

Hope you had a nice week. It's been a little stormy up here. I would've come sooner to let you go, but...

Midoriya took in a few deep, desperate breaths before calming himself. He stood back up slowly, wincing at the pain that jolted from his knees before he slowly left the alley. He was getting closer to his destination, though, and he picked up the pace as he pocketed his phone. Lightning flashed, and a loud bang followed, and Midoriya couldn't keep the loud whimper that escaped him as he ducked his head. The wind was fierce in this direction, and it sent needles of cold, sharp pain through his cheeks that left his teeth chattering. He avoided the deep puddles that continued to grow as the rain filled them, though some were inescapable unless he wanted to run into the road, which sounded like an awful idea at best. He found his shoes and socks thoroughly wet by the time he was in front of the mall. He sighed as the automatic doors let him through, wincing at the feel of his shoes squelching as he walked. Immediately, a man by the entrance popped in front of him. 

"Hello, young sir! Would you liked to be dried off?" 

Immediately, Midoriya's eyes narrowed as he took a small step back. (Which may or may have not caused the automatic doors to open back up.) He looked at the man's attire and his work uniform, his name tag glinting in the overhead lights. So, presumably, he worked here, which was a great marketing technique, really. Just have the guy come in whenever it was cold or rainy, and people would be much more willing to go out to the mall for a bit. 

"What do you mean by that?" His voice was quiet and a little bit scratchy.

The man sent a simple smile his direction. "My quirk allows people to warm up at a certain temperature that dries off all the water on them and their clothes," he explained in a high-pitched voice. Midoriya slightly perked up at that. That didn't seem so bad—

"I just have to touch you for that while!"

Midoriya felt his hopes shrivel up as his eyes darted around the man. Being soaked and uncomfortable sounded like a much better alternative than having any skin contact. But then he thought about the poor people who had to constantly clean up the messes from people with odd quirks, and a little flower of guilt bloomed, its colors waned and its petals dim. Would he really want to add onto that? 

And so he, hesitantly, held out his arm. The man smiled and gripped the limb without care, oblivious to the way that Midoriya flinched and shrank into himself. His grip was too tight, nothing like the careful and firm hold of Hiroji or the gentle, fleeting touches of the cashier at his favorite cafe. 

He finally let go as a warmth grew underneath his skin and clothes and a cold hand dragged his stomach down to his feet. "There you go, buddy, all better," he said in a sugary voice. He quickly moved his attention from him to the next group of customers, and Midoriya bolted. He felt like bugs were crawling, itching their way across his skin. He shuddered as he tried to find his way through the mall without bumping into anyone else, his nerves jumpy and radiating with fear at the slightest noise. 

He hated contact with strangers. Oh, how he hated it. 

Somewhere or another, things blurred together until he was in the family bathroom, locking the one-stall room's door behind him as he crouched. He didn't sit down, knowing that the last thing he wanted to do was pick up all sorts of germs, but he leaned against the door nonetheless. Juni poked out from her place in his scarf, watching him silently as he brought himself farther and farther away from a frenzy. 

Juni's calmness helped a little, too. 

He was greeted when he opened the door with a woman who had a cigarette in her mouth. She looked up to him and tutted disappointingly as she puffed a bit of smoke from her mouth. "Great, another girl dressing up as a guy. I can't believe even the young kids are doing this now." 

... The fuck?

"I'm a guy...?" he said after a moment of hesitation, though he knew it was more of a question than a statement. He also knew he could just ignore her and move on, and he was half-tempted to. However, the assumption was just so out of place that he was actually more curious about why she even thought that in the first place than his hatred to speaking. 

The woman snorted. "Sure you are," she said in a tone that said the exact opposite. She wasn't even looking at him, instead scrolling through her phone. "Though your hair says otherwise." 

Midoriya blinked. And then blinked again. And then it hit him like a glacier. 

He hadn't had a haircut in a long, long time. The last time he had a haircut was a little after he joined the Midoriya family, and Hisashi had shown outward disapproval, so they never did that again. Inko occasionally trimmed it herself whenever his bangs got too long or his loose ends were split, simply because she couldn't mess up that up too much. 

But oh my god when was the last time he actually had a haircut? And why hadn't he noticed it before? Oh shoot, short hair for men was the trend nowadays. How had he forgotten that?

A part of him just wanted to curl up and die of utter humiliation as his face flushed. Embarrassment wasn't a common emotion for him, but now he felt like just never existing. The woman rolled her eyes at his red cheeks. "God, you little girls are terrible liars." 

Midoriya didn't correct her. He didn't really feel the need to. 

As he hid his face in his scarf, Juni appeared by his shoulder. Ignoring her attempts at trying to make him feel better, he found himself in the winter isle once again. He sighed as he looked at the different umbrellas, and Juni caught his eye before pointing(?) at a dark blue one. It was small and portable, which was good enough for him, and he reached on his tippy-toes to grab it off the shelf. Holding it close to his chest, he was about to leave when something caught his eye. 

He paused. Juni did, too. 

And then, without thinking, he grabbed the pair of gloves with the leather outsides and pulled them on. They were thin but warm, and not clunky overall. He didn't have any need for them, but...

Why don't we add yours to the collection? 

He shuddered and took them with him. 

=====

Later, while walking through one of the isles specified for quirks, he would find a small slip of fabric that was geared toward people who released pheromones at their neck. The fabric covered the entirety of his scar and then some, zipping up in the back. It reminded him a bit of a choker, to be honest, except it was too big for that. 

After looking through the different options, he settled on a thin black one. It was stretchy but tight, meaning that it wouldn't come loose, and he added that to his pile as well. 

He would miss his scarf, but it was more functional. (And if it made Hiroji smile, well, that made it all the better.)

=====

Tsukauchi Naomasa wanted a normal day without weird happenings going on in his office. 

For example, someone getting access into the camera footage of the building he worked in, looping said footage, getting inside without setting off any alarms or attracting the attention of anyone else, and then putting a letter on his desk. 

And then leaving. Without a trace. Which really peeved off Tsukauchi, because he really wanted to give the person a piece of his mind. And it didn't help matters that, despite looking for any kinds of DNA left behind on the letter or the seal, they were left with nothing. No fingerprints. No saliva. 

And it was driving him insane.

The contents of the letter wouldn't reveal anything either, except for a small note and a couple of pictures that happened to be laminated. 

Heard from these guys that they were planning on committing robbery at Missionary Bank. Thought I'd let you know, though be aware that that could just be the alcohol talking. 

He stared at the small handful of pictures that were left behind, most of them fuzzy except for the last one. Tsukauchi sighed as he recognized several men that he had already arrested on multiple occasions. 

Dang it. This warning actually had some credibility. 

He sighed again and tried to ease his headache by rubbing the bridge of his nose. 

(Ten hours from then, after he called for patrol around the area to be doubled, a few heroes would catch the men in action. Standing alongside the crowd, his face hidden partially by his hoodie and his scarf, Midoriya Izuku would stand, feeling more alone than ever before.)

=====

"Do you think I should cut my hair?" is what Midoriya ended up blurting to Hiroji one day. 

The man blinked. He ran a hand through his hair as he exhaled sharply. "I dunno, kid. If I'm to be honest, I think it looks good on you. I mean, you might want to get it shorter than it is now if it's a hassle to deal with, but I think it's nice." He chuckled and gave him an honest smile. "But if you want to cut it really, really short, then you do you. I think anything would look good on you, really." 

Midoriya pondered over it. "We'll see," he compromised, because he wasn't quite sure himself. 

=====

The hairdresser he went to said the same thing as Hiroji did. 

So he pursed his lips and made up his mind. 

He left, his hair several inches shorter than before. It was just long enough that he could almost put his hair into a ponytail, but most of it would fall out seconds later. 

Hiroji's eyes would light up and he'd ruffle his hair. 

"It looks amazing," he'd said. 

And that made him feel amazing, too.

=====

It was two months later that Midoriya ducked under a roundhouse kick, sending the heel of his palm in a quick strike into his opponent's side. The girl hissed in pain before she attempted to punch him, her attacks clumsy at best. 

Martial Arts was a little... unfulfilling when compared to real fights, but he chalked it up to him being younger than most. Still, he had been hoping for some serious progress before he joined—

The girl sent another kick at him, and he jumped over her, using her shoulders as a springboard as he twisted himself in the air to face her back. Landing smoothly on his feet, he swept his leg underneath hers and she tumbled to the ground, hitting hands and knees first onto the mats below. She winced and rolled onto her back, whining about something not being fair when "Master Splinter" called the end of the fight. 

He felt a little bad for her, honestly, but he couldn't help himself. The only way he was able to convince himself to make any contact with another person was by imagining them as villain versus hero. It didn't necessarily matter who was villain or who was hero, just that one needed to defeat the other without hesitation. And often, in that mindset, he found himself not holding back as much as he would like to. Not that he was full-out beating the crap out of people, because one: he wasn't that strong, and two: because he was still coherent, dang it. He knew from all the whispering and rumors that people thought that he went into a fit of insanity and ruthlessness whenever he was against someone, but when it came down to it, his fights were the least messy. One of the older kids even kicked another kid's tooth out, for goodness sake. 

Or maybe it was because of his age. He wasn't the youngest kid there, far from it, but he was younger than most of the people "Master Splinter" put him up against. He explained that he was a quick learner, and that's why he was always against kids older than him, but those kids just despised him with a passion. Maybe it was a pride thing? Midoriya didn't quite understand. 

He sighed internally and did his best to smile as he held out a hand to the girl, who looked up at him with a mix of barely held rage and humiliation. (He could tell. Her eyes changed color according to what emotion she was feeling, and they were a mix of lime green and lava red.) Something flickered, though, and they turned a soft blue (thankfulness) as he pulled her back up. They bowed to one another and then stepped off the mat, leaving it to the next pair of kids. 

He felt a little out of place, honestly. It wasn't that the kids weren't putting effort into it, because they were, it was just... not their full effort. They weren't leaving class with sore muscles and a shattered pride, with a goal to beat something that was leagues above them. They weren't pushing themselves to use every minute available to overcome something that threw him into the ground. 

And that was a little bit of a disappointment.

(The next day, Hiroji would patiently explain to him that most kids didn't have that drive. Didn't have that mindset. And Midoriya knew that, for sure, but that didn't make it any better.) 

Class finished a few minutes late, and parents stood by the doorway, waiting to pick up their kids. Not for the first time, those with guardians coming late asked him where his were. He blinked and told them that his dad was running late. Kids whose parents always came a little late because of work raised an eyebrow at him or sent pitying glances. He pretended not to notice them. 

He zipped up his backpack, pulling the strap over his shoulder before turning around. The last kid was finally hand-in-hand with his mother, and Midoriya was close behind. 

"Hold up, Midoriya. I want to talk to you." 

He froze, turning to Master Splinter. He hummed his question, unable to bring up a smile to match his curiosity. 

The man was rolling up the mats as he seemed to ponder what he wanted to say. After a minute of silence, he finally spoke. 

"You seem unhappy." An observation. 

"I'm not," Midoriya replied. He wasn't. He knew what unhappiness felt like. 

Master Splinter sighed and shook his head. "Fine. You're not unhappy. But you want something." He turned to Midoriya, the look in his eyes immediately shutting up anything Midoriya had to say. "You're a smart kid. Smarter than most I've ever met. Maybe even the smartest. You need to do something, and I'm not letting you do that. So tell me what you want."

And Midoriya didn't know how to think about that, except that he really, really liked him. He adapted. He made changes for a weird kid with a need to cover his neck because he was different from anyone else. He taught him how he knew best, letting him win time after time after time until he was stronger than before, until he was on his way to becoming the best in the class. 

But... 

"I want to lose, sir." 

Master Splinter stared at him for a long, long time, eyes searching and mouth stretched into a thin line. Apparently, he found something, and he chuckled before shaking his head again. 

"You're the craziest kid I have ever met. Sure, I can set that up for you." 

=====

"The kid wants... to lose?" Eishun Akihito stared at his old Master. 

Master Splinter laughed at his expression. "Yep." 

Eishun blinked before rubbing the back of his head nervously. "I mean, that sounds like a terrible idea. The kid is, what, eleven? Are you sure he won't just leave after?"

Master Lee (Eishun's current master) looked at Master Splinter skeptically. "I know you said you had high hopes for the kid, but I'm not sure this is a good idea. My class is mostly made up of teenagers who've had a lot of experience. He'd be like a lamb thrown in to the wolves." 

Master Splinter shrugged. "So? Best way to learn. And it seems as if the kid wants it." He turned to Akihito. "At least try to fight him, eh?" 

Akihito felt his pride get attacked by the statement. "Try? Trust me, I'll wipe the floor with him."

He couldn't help the sinking feeling in his stomach as Master Splinter grinned at him devilishly. 

=====

Master Lee stood at the front of his class. Next to him was a kid about half his height, who Akihito took to observing. 

He had longer hair than most kids his age did, and its dark green curls shone in the light as the kid pulled it into a small ponytail low against his neck. His eyes were the same shade, but they seemed to hold worlds of knowledge, almost as if he had seen and knew more than any kid his age should have. He had a small piece of black fabric that fit tightly around his neck, and part of him wondered if it was a part of his quirk or if he thought it simply looked cool. 

(And yeah, it did kind of look cool, but he didn't say that.) 

There wasn't much to say about him. He was a little plain looking, and the only notable thing about his features was the freckles that dotted his cheeks and what was visible of his shoulders—the over-sized shirt and the fabric on his neck did a good job of hiding them. Overall, Akihito was a bit let down. He was expecting someone that looked older than an eleven-year-old, someone with a quirk that let them build muscles faster than any man should. What he was greeted with was a kid that could pass for a tall nine-year-old if he wanted to. 

He sighed. He really wanted a challenge from all of Master Splinter's bragging. Though he shouldn't have really expected much, since the guy told him he had only been practicing for three months. 

Master Lee said a few words which ran right over his head, started their exercises—which left him surprised when the kid actually managed to keep up—and then set up the mats. He said something about being respectful as Midoriya and Akihito stood face-to-face. 

It wasn't as if this wasn't common. Because it happened, at least four times a year. Master Splinter would find someone he thought that might have potential, and he'd ask them to fight against someone from Master Lee's class, who was technically superior by skill and age. Anyone that graduated from Master Splinter's class came here, which meant that if Master Splinter chose you to fight up against the upper class, you were guaranteed a place there. 

The problem with that was that the kids weren't ready for it. All of them either thought that the entire thing was rigged and threw a fit, or they used the excuse that they couldn't learn anything from getting your behind whooped in order to save their pride. There was the occasional person who refused kindly because they were too nervous to join with people who were way older than them—or their parents didn't want them to because their "injuries" were more severe (the worst they had was a sprained ankle because someone thought they were a ninja and fell wrong)—so honestly, he wasn't expecting much. Maybe the kid would take the beating quietly. 

So color him surprised when the kid ended up being faster than physically possible what the bloody heck. 

Sure, the kid's attacks were a little off kilter, but he was fast and he was flexible. Balance was something the kid excelled in, and leaning at an almost impossible angle with only one foot made him really hard to hit. Plus, he had really strong legs...? Akihito pretty much sent a full-powered downward kick to his thigh and, while he faltered, he still stood. 

So maybe he was starting to see why Master Splinter was bragging. 

Akihito stepped back and panted. How long was this fight going on for? He wasn't quite sure. Not long, he knew, because he had been in fights much, much longer and harder than this. This was nothing. Taking in a deep breath, he looked down to see that Midoriya was also panting, his arms in a defensive position in front of him. If he were to be honest, Akihito had never seen the kind of movement and defensive position Midoriya was in. It was effective, and it allowed him to smoothly move from one hit to the other, but he had no idea where he learned it from. And yet it seemed like second nature to him. 

Which was another weird thing. The kid was good, and yet he had only been training for three months? 

Something about that... didn't exactly match up. 

"He wants to lose."

Akihito clenched his jaw as he remembered Master Splinter's words. 

Fine. I'll give you a loss. 

Without thinking, he pounced forward, hand outstretched to hit him in the throat. Clearly that was the kid's weak point, more so than others. Something akin to fear flashed in his eyes, and his legs tensed. 

The next thing Akihito knew, he was staring at the ceiling. He rolled back up to his feet, his vision swimming and his legs wavering. He stumbled on his feet but regained his balance. 

Okay then. So the kid just threw me onto the ground Black Widow style by wrapping his legs around my neck and... swinging me to down?... which landed him in a crouch. Seems legit. 

Welp, clearly I need to stop underestimating eleven-year-olds. Because they might just be the work of Satan and kiss my—

Midoriya aimed a high kick at his chin; he grabbed his ankle and twisted it, throwing him to his hands and knees before ending it with harsh knee to the back of his head. (It was something he'd apologize profusely later for, earning him a small smile that almost reached the kid's eyes.) He ended it with his leg around his neck, holding him tightly in his grip. 

The kid coughed a few times before he finally called uncle, and Akihito released his hold on him. Midoriya would rub his neck a few times before facing Akihito, bowing to him. "Thank you," he said, his first words for the class to hear. Akihito bowed in response, and that was that. He couldn't help but shudder, though, at the knowing gleam in the boy's eyes and the way he seemed just that more knowledgeable. As if the entire thing just put him at a higher advantage than before, even if he had just lost. 

The kid would stick with them for the rest of the practice. Akihito would suffer a little bit of teasing from his friends, who laughed at his failure at beating a kid three years younger than him with ease. "He was a difficult opponent," he tried to reason, but they just laughed some more. 

At the end of class, the boy approached him again. And Akihito accepted. 

And when Midoriya whooped his ass, well, that certainly stopped all the teasing. 

=====

Midoriya raised his arms high above his head and stretched as he walked, earning him a satisfying pop and an unintentional sound of happiness escaping him. Juni sat on his shoulder, happily sunbathing without care in the world. It was still a little chilly out, enough to wear his jacket, gloves, and scarf without too many weird looks, but the sun helped warm people up. 

Perfect weather, in his opinion. 

He relished in it as he walked, knowing that soon February would end and March would begin, letting him claim the title of a twelve-year-old. His birthday was on (July 15th) March 12th—or, that was what Hisashi claimed. Midoriya was almost positive that he just got an online randomizer and picked one that called out to him. 

Whatever. It didn't really bother him anyway. 

He found himself standing in front of the bookstore Juni pointed out a long time ago, and he made his way inside. There was no bell on this door, which Midoriya appreciated, and the door was well oiled that it barely made a sound. It made sense—college students and those who wanted a nice, quiet read probably didn't want to get interrupted all the time. He sighed before making his way to the front desk, pulling out the four books he finished reading and setting them on the table. A young girl, either in her late teens or early twenties, smiled at him with her metal teeth and rang them up. She nodded to herself. 

"Anything you'd like to pick out today?" 

Midoriya tapped his chin before nodding. "I think I wanted to read that English poetry book you showed me a while ago. Out of the Dust, I think you called it."

The young woman nodded before handing it to him. "Had it set out for you in case you wanted to check it out," she explained, seeing the questioning look he sent her. "You seemed a little bit interested last week, anyway. Anything else? This one is a quick read, seeing how fluent you can read in English." 

Midoriya felt his face flush as he rubbed the back of his head. He muttered a small "thanks" before answering her question. "I was thinking of indulging myself in a bit of science. Anything on time travel or the beginning of quirks?" 

A smirk made it onto her face. "I can get you both." 

Midoriya returned her smile. "Well then, I guess I'll be checking out three books then."

She chuckled before disappearing into the back room, reassuring him that she'd be out in a moment. 

He left with his bag just a little bit heavier and a curiosity a bit brighter. It wasn't even noon when he stopped by the cafe he always went to, picking out a simple tea to drink while he read. 

"You sure you don't want a pastry?" the woman by the counter asked. "I can get you one. They're the best around." 

Midoriya hesitated. "I'm really not supposed to eat that many sweets," he admitted. 

"Bah!" she said. "One won't kill you." 

He looked into her begging eyes and sighed. "You pick one out for me, and I'll eat it," he said. 

She grinned at him, told him it was on the house—to which he protested profusely, though she refused anything else—and then shooed him to his favorite corner outside. It was set off from the rest of the tables, and it was half-hidden underneath the shade. It was also smaller, but he didn't mind since he always sat alone. 

The same woman approached him later, a nice cup of steaming tea and a fluffy pastry, baked and warm to the touch, on a plate that she sat on his table. He thanked her, and she just winked to him in response. "Of course, hun. Gotta spoil my favorite customer, you know?" 

(Yes, he flushed and mumbled unintelligible things after. Leave him alone.) 

He started Out of the Dust first. It was interesting. The main character, Billie Jo, was a talented piano player. She lived in the Midwestern area of the United States during the Great Depression. Nothing was growing on their farm, and they suffered from little food. It was a little depressing, to be honest. The poetry wasn't complicated at all, though. He could easily read it like any other book. 

And then Billie Jo's father left a pail of kerosene on the counter. Billie Jo's mom thought it was water, so she poured it to make coffee, and then fire struck. Billie Jo ran inside the house to stop their house from burning down, and, heroically, threw the pail out the window.   

Right back onto her pregnant mom. 

She was on fire. 

Billie Jo suffered from third degree burns as she tried to put out the flames with her bare hands. 

Billie Jo's mom died in childbirth not too long after. The baby died, too. 

Billie Jo couldn't play the piano without her hands hurting her. 

And Midoriya cried, because he could feel his neck burning from the kerosene, just like Billie Jo's hand's did.

And Midoriya cried, because he wondered if his mom felt so much despair when she burned him, too. 

=====

Billie Jo got better, Midoriya thought as he finished the book. 

She even got to play the piano again.

=====

March the twelfth came a little too soon. He woke up to the smell of food, and he was surprised when he entered the kitchen to find a small plate of pancakes made just for him. Steam rose off them, and he looked to the small slug that was curled up on his alarm clock innocently. 

Guess he was going to have to say thanks to her later. 

The food was delicious, though he couldn't eat all of it. Which didn't seem to offend Juni, who appeared not much longer. In fact, she just bounced a little bit before poking at a letter he had been ignoring until she was there to see him open it. He was careful, trying not to rip the envelope as he pulled out the small piece of paper. A long note written in fancy calligraphy (Juni had really good handwriting???) explained how happy Juni was to have met him and such, and he smiled and held her close. "Thank you," he whispered, and she seemed to croon under his touch. 

School was nice. The vice principal told him happy birthday. 

He arrived back into his apartment with little trouble, a bag of groceries in hand. He had about an hour until his lessons with Hiroji, so...

He set out the materials he needed. He had already practiced this a couple times on his own, so he knew what to do and was confident that he wasn't going to burn anything. Usually he did this when one of the people in his martial arts class had a birthday, but he never actually tried them out for himself, so he was just relying on the fact that they all claimed that they were really good. 

But hey, it was nice to finally make them for his own birthday. 

It wasn't long later that he pulled out several trays of cookies from the oven (though they looked a little too good, and he wondered if Juni did anything to them) and set them out on a cooling rack. He was going to have to wait a couple minutes for them to cool, so he'd be a bit late to gymnastics practice, but he was sure Hiroji wouldn't mind. He was usually early every day since there wasn't much else to distract himself with, so he could be late one day, right?

Apparently not. When he walked in, Hiroji was panicking and was squawking about how he had no idea what happened to him. The other instructors looked a little panicked at how to deal with him, and the one whose hair could tie itself immediately saw an out when she spotted him. 

"Look, he's here now, so stop acting like a clingy bitch!"

Hiroji responded to her by sending her the middle finger and appearing right by Midoriya's side. 

"Are you okay? I wasn't expecting you to be late. Are you sick? Did you run into a villain? Did something come up with your family and—"

Midoriya shook his head. "Chikara-senpai, please calm down." He wanted to raise his hands in a sign of surrender, but his hands were currently full with the tray of cookies. Tinfoil covered the surface to keep any bugs out, but overall, it was still warm. (Which may or may have not been done on purpose.) 

"Eh? What's in your hands?" It was the woman with the hair-related quirk. There were a couple other instructors too, though most were getting back to their groups. 

Midoriya sighed and pulled off the tinfoil, letting the cookies go on full view. "I made a batch," he said tonelessly despite seeing the sparkles in their eyes. "I thought I'd give some of them away since I wasn't going to eat all of them." 

"Oh my gosh you're my savior thank you so much—" was what the woman said before she stole one. "Oh fudge, they're still warm." 

One of the older instructors, another woman with green bobbed hair, took a cookie and moaned. "God these are good." 

"I know right? I feel like I'm getting spoiled." 

"What's the occasion, anyway?" Hiroji said as he took a bite of one. 

"Oh, it's my birthday today." 

Everyone froze. 

"Kid, what the heck. We're eating your birthday cookies. This is a crime.

Midoriya snorted. "Sure, whatever you say. But seriously, I don't mind. They probably would have just gone stale anyway, I don't eat many sweets." Hiroji opened his mouth to protest, but Midoriya cut him off. "And anyway, seeing you guys happy makes me happy. So... think of it as a birthday gift." 

"Hiroji, how the hell did you of all people manage to pick up the cinnamon roll of the world?" 

The man shrugged helplessly. "Don't ask me, I have no idea." 

Everyone burst into laughter around Midoriya, who stood there, trying to figure out what the heck cinnamon roll meant in terms of people. Maybe he'd look it up later or something. 

"Anyway, I'm buying you a present, and you can't stop me," Hiroji said. "If you're going to spoil us, I get to spoil you." 

"Please don't." He had no idea what else to say, since that determined gleam in the man's eyes seemed to strengthen with every passing second. 

=====

The next time he came for practice, Midoriya was handed a small metal bracelet. On its front, I AM ENOUGH was written carefully. 

Midoriya liked it. A lot. (He had a sneaking suspicion that Hiroji's quirk was geared toward mental stability; neither of them brought it up, though, despite the curiosity each of them had for the other's mysterious quirk.)

And if he wore the bracelet every day, well, that was only for him and Juni to know. 

=====

"Problem Child." 

Midoriya looked up into the man's tired eyes. The threat of tears in his eyes made his vision go fuzzy. 

"Please. I want to help you, but I can't if I don't know what's going on." 

He burst into tears. The man's eyes widened. "I can't," he said. "I can't, I can't, I can't." He hiccuped as he buried his head in his arms. "I can't," he said again, his voice muffled. 

He felt a chair being pulled up next to him. 

"Yes, you can," came his reassurance. There was a hand on his back, slowly rubbing circles with their thumb. "I know you can." 

Midoriya woke up, vision swimming and cold sweat rolling down his neck. He rolled over and, in a burst of speed, made it to the bathroom. He managed to only knock into one wall before he was puking in the toilet, bile revolting his taste buds as he shuddered and another round of puke escaped his lips. 

Juni was there, beside him, probably bigger than a dog and letting him lean up against her. 

And he let himself hover in and out of consciousness before Juni finally woke him up again. He went to school, which was boring. Barely any real studies. Little to no homework. 

Nothing to distract him with. 

=====

Piano keys felt nice under his fingers, he decided one day when there was nothing else to do.

=====

He made a passport. He got a few suspicious looks out of it. He also knew that he was going to have to do it eventually, so better to do it then than later. 

He also added more information and corrected a few things on his personal files of informaion. Hisashi had faked most of them—though he had forged sources to prove them from people that were indebted to him—and so he just picked up the rest. It wasn't hard, really. 

He did leave the page for his quirk registration blank, though. 

Walking home after that drained him of what little energy he had left, however. He decided to do all of it after another rough day of martial arts class—seriously, was Master Lee trying to kill him?—and so he was ready to go straight to bed and sleep. Halfway through, though, he felt his legs almost give out underneath him, and so he stopped by a park nearby and sat on the bench. 

He sighed and let his head droop back, watching the stars overhead twinkle. 

It was nice.

=====

He woke up to someone poking his side. He blinked and looked up, neck sore from the position he was sleeping in, to see a young girl no older than seven with glasses on her face. Her eyes literally glowed, like spotlights. She gestured something with her hands, though Midoriya had no idea what she was trying to say when he saw the devices on her ears. 

Deaf. 

He felt a pang of guilt go through him as he reached into his pocket for his notepad. He struggled to find a pen afterward, but eventually Juni handed him one and he, in turn, gave it to the girl in front of him. She seemed a bit surprised but took it, writing quickly with one hand. 

You were sitting here out in the dark. That's dangerous. Momma told me to wake you up instead because she looks scary in the dark, but she wants you to be safe. Bad people come out in the dark. 

Midoriya felt his chest warm up as he read it. He glanced to the side, seeing a dark figure with lines of neon red running up their body and shimmering slightly. He turned back to the girl and wrote his own response. 

Thank you. 

She smiled and made a gesture with his hands, which he assumed was your welcome before she hopped away. 

Sign Language. Huh. 

Looks like he had another thing to look forward to over the weekend alongside piano lessons.  

=====

When Midoriya finally arrived home, it was around two in the morning. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, grimacing at how long it was getting. Another haircut was in store for him, then. 

He was about to open his door when his foot came in contact with something heavy. He looked down curiously and picked it up. In the faint light from the lamppost he saw that it was a box mailed to him. 

He felt his stomach tie itself into knots. Few people knew his address, and only one of those would send something to him. 

He unlocked his door and walked inside, double checking that the lock was turned all the way before he made his way to the living room. Juni turned on the lights for him as he took off his shoes, and he sat on one of the small couches with the package in his lap. Juni gave him a pair of scissors, which he handled with shaking hands as he cut through the tap and opened the flaps of the box. 

Inside was a small wooden box, dark and worn around the edges from use. It looked so, so familiar, but this one had carvings in the wood, lined with silver that shone and glimmered in the faint light. He pulled the smaller box out and opened it with shaking hands, his eyes concentrating on the small note that was inside. 

A little bit of an upgrade. Hope you like them! 

MH

Tearing the note away, he was met with two green contacts sitting innocently on a velvet cushion. 

They were a lot easier on the eyes than his last ones. 

=====

He dreamed of a woman with short, wavy blonde hair and brown eyes. She liked headbands since they kept most of her hair out of her eyes, and she wore dark leather boots that came to her knees with buckles on each side. She was smart. She was sweet. She was strong. 

She was also a really good liar. 

Midoriya didn't know that, at the time. Not when she held him in her arms, not when she promised him everything would be alright, not when she told him that all the mean people who wanted him dead were keeping him safe. 

She was like a second mother to him. She would kiss his neck when it burned with phantom pains. She would tuck him into bed. 

Sometimes, her and his mother's faces would overlap. Sometimes, they looked like the same person. 

Because they were both meant to take care of him. 

They both stabbed him in the back. 

But he still loved his mother. 

He still loved Maiko. 

Sometimes, he would forget. 

Sometimes, he would remember. 

Those were the days where anything in his hands burned. 

He wished he could burn them, too.

But then he would berate himself. 

Because the only reason they did what they did was because he caused them to. 

Because he existed. 

And that really made it hard to get up in the morning. 

=====

Summer break. Most kids were going to visit family, or relax at home, or do normal things. 

Midoriya was taking a plane, by himself, to a place far from home. Adults questioned where his parents were. Guards were extra careful to check if he had anything on him that could warrant danger. They didn't find anything. And his passport matched up, too, which further cemented his identity. 

His backpack didn't have much, but it was enough. He had several changes of clothes, his phone, a couple of books, his jacket and windbreaker, his umbrella, and his wallet. He brought his credit card with him, which also raised eyebrows, but damn it he was a capable twelve-year-old and he knew what he was doing. 

It took him too long to get on the plane. He got a window seat, which both terrified and exhilarated him, and he watched for hours out the window, seeing the stars above him and the clouds below. He listened to music on his phone, let it settle him into a sense of rest even though he didn't actually sleep. The entire flight was over twenty-one hours, but it was worth it. He finished reading three new books he checked out just for this purpose, and two of the harder ones still lied, untouched, in his backpack. Which was great, because he wanted to read those on the way back. 

By the time he landed, he was ready to jump out of his seat. He left the airport—but not before he converted his money into the new country he was in—and then waved down a taxi. The driver looked at him funny for being alone, but asked him where to go. (The only reason he knew this was because he taught himself a little bit of the language before he left for his trip.) He asked for the hotel closest to a specific city, and the man nodded. 

The drive was an hour, and he paid the man well for it before entering. The person at the desk also looked at him oddly, but he showed her the money and she gave in. He set down his backpack in the room he was assigned to and sighed in relief. 

He wished Juni was here, but he left her at home. He knew she would get stressed out on the trip, and she was much more comfortable staying at the apartment and making sure nothing bad happened to it. 

He slept for several hours before waking again. He wasn't fully rested, but it would have to do. He stood up, looked through his bag for his certain pair of shoes and clothes before leaving. 

He ran several miles in the cold. People continued to give him odd looks until he finally reached the edge of the city. At the entrance of the abandoned park sat a small booth with pamphlets. He grabbed one and turned to the map section. 

Sure, he couldn't speak Portuguese well, but he knew how to read it well enough. He was here for several months before Hisashi took him in, anyway, and the place smelled like home. 

It also smelled like an illegal dumping spot, but that was beside the point. 

It took him two hours of trekking before he found the bridge he lived under. Home sweet home, he thought sarcastically. Oh, but if only Hisashi had explored the area just a little bit more thoroughly before he took him. It wasn't just him that had those "strange wavelengths."

Midoriya jumped into the small creek, feeling his shoes start to soak up the water as he rested the palm of his hand against the rocks. He whispered something into the water, waiting quietly until something in the back of his mind twisted and the ground opened up beneath him. Little bits of water drained into the opening, and he reached inside to pull out a briefcase. He felt the tell-tale signs of distortion in his senses as the hole closed back up. 

Traveling all the way across the world, just to get a case. It almost made Midoriya want to laugh, except it really wasn't funny. 

A shower sounded nice after spending several hours walking around in a garbage dump. It was exactly what he did when he got back, and he sighed in relief at the clean clothes and socks he wore. He was about to take another nap before heading to the airport again when his phone vibrated. It was a random number, and he was about to ignore it when he noticed that the same number called him eight times already. His eyebrows raised, he answered it. 

His blood turned cold when he heard a familiar voice. 

"Why the fuck are you in Brazil?" 

Midoriya's grip on his phone tightened. He had no idea what to say, or how to respond to that. Think with your feet, it always leads you somewhere, Hiroji had said. 

"Business, dumbass," he told Hisashi before hanging up. He stared at his phone. 

Well, that confirmed his theory that Hisashi had been stalking him. At least now he could say that all those months being cautious came into good use. 

Without thinking about it, he went over to the small balcony that overlooked the streets. Seeing no one in sight, he dropped his phone over the railing, watching it shatter as it hit the ground. The broken remains glinted in the setting sun. 

Guess he had an excuse now to buy a new phone. 

=====

Storms pounded the airplane that Midoriya took on his way back from Brazil. He was exhausted, the briefcase at his feet weighed him down by eight tons, and his body felt sore all over. The lightning and thunder wasn't helping any, either. 

It wasn't like he hated them. They always fascinated him, really. But they were terrifying to be in, especially a bad one where you had no cover and you were left to hope you didn't get hit. It was the entire reason he sat under a bridge for several months at a time. It wasn't the most glamorous place out of those that he chose, but it was enough to keep him safe. 

He flinched as more lightning struck. 

He wrapped his arms around his trembling figure. 

He wanted Juni. 

=====

Home was a small apartment with a slug and tea and the smell of baking cookies. Home was the warehouse or the martial arts building. Home was fighting, stretching, moving, burning. Home was the small bookstore with the big windows. Home was the big cafe with the woman and her deep voice. 

Home was not Brazil. 

Home was never Brazil. 

"How was your trip?" Hiroji asked. 

Midoriya looked to him. "I'm glad to be home," is what he said instead. 

Even if Midoriya couldn't put it into words, even if he couldn't convey it, Hiroji understood. 

He always did. 

=====

Midoriya would never admit it, but Hiroji was becoming a sort of parental figure to him. 

And that scared him so, so much. It was bone-deep terror. He had nightmares of Hiroji betraying him too, of him pouring kerosene on his face or selling him off to a group of villains. 

Those were the only dreams he woke up screaming to. 

=====

Midoriya had a small laptop in his bag and a new phone. It wasn't the incredibly expensive, newest models or anything, but they were functional and he appreciated that. Birds were chirping above him as he started drawing a new figure for Ragdoll, a hero who was a part of the Wild, Wild, Pussycats. She had just recently created a new outfit, and he decided that it was better to just create a new bio for her rather than erasing the old one since she had grown a lot. 

He just finished when the waitress from before gave him another set of tea and a small plate of macaroons. He tried to protest since he hadn't paid for it, but she just patted him on the head before leaving, which was enough to shut him up. 

And anyway, he appreciated the gesture. Hopefully it would take the edge off of depressing matters. 

Ragdoll was great and all, and her quirk was really cool, but the only reason he did her first was because of the tragedy that happened not too long ago. The Water Hose Duo died protecting a bunch of civilians from a guy named Muscular. Midoriya had already finished the bio on Muscular, which sickened him to no end and left him with little to no appetite. The man was beyond a lunatic. 

The Water Hose Duo had a son, though. Which made Midoriya want to punch the guy in the face even harder. Midoriya knew it had to be hard on the kid. 

The Water Hose Duo were intelligent, attractive middle-aged heroes with hearts of gold and smiles of silver. Several times Midoriya had to distract himself with cat videos to finish their bios. He kind of wished that he did them earlier and didn't focus on them so much until after they died. Someday, though, he would be able to record all the heroes known and present to this date. 

He sighed again before closing his notebook, looking up. 

Only to come face-to-face with a girl with long, dark hair and fair skin.

... Okay then. 

The girl seemed to notice him staring at her, because she flushed deeply in embarrassment. "I apologize, but apparently I came to eat at a very busy time. I was going to leave to go somewhere else, but the nice lady at the counter said that you wouldn't mind if I sat here. Of course, if this isn't true—"

"It's fine," he interrupted, feeling a little bad about it immediately after. He coughed awkwardly. "I haven't seen you around here...?" he prompted, and the girl's eyes lit up. 

"Ah, well, my parents have some work to do in this city. They thought it would be good to get me to... ah, "explore" a bit," she said nervously. "I heard this cafe was the best of the best, so I thought I'd try it out... once again, I apologize for the intrusion." 

Midoriya blinked and narrowed his eyes. Something about her seemed familiar... "No, you're fine, really. And I'm glad you stayed, this is the best cafe in the city." He tilted his head. "How long are you staying?" 

The girl smiled. "A week. Maybe two if things take longer than expected." 

Midoriya nodded to himself. "If you're a reader, there's this nice bookstore not too far from here." He pulled out his notepad and started writing down all the places he had been to. "There's a couple of nice parks as well. This place is the best for food, and they have the greatest variety, so I don't think you could get sick of this place. Especially since they continuously change and add to the menu. However, there are two other nice places, though the quality isn't as great and it's more expensive. There's also a gift shop on the other side of the city that's really nice. I don't know how much wealth you hold to your name, but there's plenty of stuff there, if only a little overpriced. If you want to go window shopping, there's this whole block—" He pulled out a map from his pocket (thank god for Juni) and laid it out on the table, circling with a red pen a certain area. "—that sells all sorts of really pretty things. It's mostly paintings and art, though there's also a few clothing and jewelry shops as well." 

The girl looked a little overwhelmed, and he didn't blame her. He folded the map and ripped the slip of paper from his notepad, laying one on top of the other as he handed it to her. "I'd be careful, though. We don't get much crime, but you're pretty and guys can be really weird about stuff like that. Not saying that you can't take care of yourself, because you probably could if your parents are okay with you wandering around, but still." 

The girl took the map and the paper from his hand, eyes roaming over the names of the places and the addresses. "Thank you," she said, though a nervous glint came to her eyes. "Though, I'm not sure I..." She seemed to struggle. "My parents are really protective over me," she explained, "and I haven't really been given many self-protection lessons..."

"I can come with you, if you'd like." He wants to hit himself the moment the words are out of his mouth, because seriously? He just met the girl and he had no experience with human interaction and what the heck was he getting into?

The girl's eyes lit up again. "That would be amazing! Though..." She rubbed the back of her head. "It's not a date, right? I mean, you called me pretty, but..." 

Midoriya blinked. "I'm, like, eighty-three percent I'm aromantic. Or seventy-three percent, really. I haven't quite figured the whole thing out. But anyway, no offense, but I've just met you and I already have no human social skills, so getting into a date would probably end up being both of our worst nightmares."

The girl stared at him before bursting out into laughter. She took the notepad and wrote her number on it, sliding it back to him. "That's my number. Think we could go "exploring" tomorrow?" 

"Sure," he agreed. After a moment of hesitation, he held out his hand. He hated touching strangers, and he'd rather die six times over, but... 

Something about this just seemed a little bit different. A nice kind of different. 

"My name's Midoriya Izuku," he said, and she smiled and took his hand. 

It occurred to him a second after just who he was looking at before she even said her name. 

"It's nice to meet you, Midoriya. My name is Yaoyorozu Momo." 

Chapter Text

Yaoyorozu Momo:
I'm sorry, Midoriya, but I'm afraid  that I'm going to have to move our meeting until the  day after tomorrow. 

Midoriya was surprised the girl was even awake, seeing as it was eleven at night—it was still the same day he had met her—but he supposed that he really shouldn't judge people's characters so soon. 

Midoriya Izuku: 
It's fine. Something come up?

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Do you remember when I told you  that my parents are extra protective of my safety?

Midoriya Izuku: 
Ah. So they've been looking into  my  personal files and have been trying to find a  way to arrest me through suspicious activity. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
???

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
I mean, yeah, but how'd you even  know?

Midoriya Izuku: 
I have my ways.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Well that isn't ominous at all.  

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
But you aren't freaked out or  anything? I was expecting even a little bit more of a  reaction from you. 

Midoriya Izuku: 
I mean, they shouldn't find anything?

Midoriya Izuku: 
And anyway, I guess that just means they  care in their own, unconventional way.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
I... haven't thought about it like that?

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
But thanks, I guess. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
What are your parents like?

Midoriya blinked. Hisashi and Inko weren't exactly the best of examples... But his real parents were criminals at the moment for trying to kill their own child. 

Or, they would be, if they were even on record. Unfortunately, they didn't exist to anyone anymore. 

Guess he was going to have to go with another white lie. 

Midoriya Izuku: 
I kind of live by myself. My mom  travels a lot because she doesn't like staying in one  place, and  my dad works overseas. He doesn't  come  home often.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Oh... I'm sorry. 

Midoriya Izuku: 
It's not your fault? I don't  really mind it anymore.

Midoriya Izuku: 
I'm sorry, I'm a little too honest  sometimes. It makes things awkward. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
No no, you're fine. It kind of  makes sense as to why you were out by yourself  and didn't have any doubts about showing me  around. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Who takes care of you while  your parents are gone? 

... Oh. Uhm. 

Midoriya Izuku: 
My neighbor did for a while. I tried  to learn to be self-sufficient though.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
That's cool. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Heyyy, you play the piano?

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Wow, holy crap, that's actually  a lot of hobbies. You take gymnastics too? And a  martial arts class? 

Midoriya Izuku: 
I suddenly have the feeling that   what your parents are doing isn't legal.

Midoriya Izuku: 
But yeah, I do. It keeps my mind   busy .

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Ehhh, that's so cool. Do you  do any art clubs or anything? I saw your drawings  of those heroes today, and they were really good.

Midoriya Izuku: 
Thanks? But no, I don't. I couldn't   handle paint if my life depended on it.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
That's too bad, we could've  been art buddies. :/

Midoriya Izuku: 
Yeah, I guess we could.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
:(

Midoriya Izuku: 
rbaeukdiebwpbfueipw

Midoriya Izuku: 
Eeeegghhhhhhh

Midoriya Izuku: 
Please don't do that, you're making   me feel guilty.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
(I^I)

Midoriya Izuku: 
fueobfuepwqbufbew

Midoriya Izuku: 
rhieoabfiewbofuqbffu feuiqbueudpewfewbufewuipfewfoebwiqbyfbewlqfe  

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
(T^T)

Midoriya Izuku: 
Fine, fine, there's this place nearby the  gift shop that does free art classes.

Midoriya Izuku: 
We can be art buddies. But just this once.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Yay! 

Midoriya Izuku: 
why do I get the feeling that there's   literally sparkles surrounding you?

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
It's my quirk. :D

Midoriya Izuku: 
I thought your quirk was Creation.

Wait. Wait. WAIT. NO. ABORT MISSION. HE DID NOT JUST MISTAKENLY TYPE THAT. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
???

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Omg what the heck dude

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
I swear you're an all-knowing  god or some bullcrap

Midoriya Izuku: 
It's my quirk. :D 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Are you for real tho or are you  just mocking me

Midoriya Izuku: 
Just mocking you.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
asdfghjkl

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
You are one intelligent kid. 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
How'd you even know, though?

Midoriya Izuku: 
Those are my secrets to never tell. :)

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
feubiqsofuiowq

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
That practically seeps creepiness

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Hold up one sec

Yaoyorozu Momo has changed Midoriya Izuku to Knows Too Much

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Like it?

Knows Too Much: 
I find it amusing.

Knows Too Much has changed Yaoyorozu Momo to Sparkle Emitter

Sparkle Emitter: 
Fair enough. XD 

Sparkle Emitter: 
Anyway, I have to go. My  parents have found enough information on you  to deem you safe anyway. 

Knows Too Much: 
At least there's that.

Knows Too Much: 
Thanks for texting me.

Sparkle Emitter: 
:)

Sparkle Emitter has left the chat 

Knows Too Much has left the chat

=====

Once upon a time, there was a Man. He was born with a strong power that gave him prestige among those that were scared of these abilities. He was intelligent, and he learned how to use his words wisely. They were deep and thick of knowledge, like honey, though his hands were leeches that sucked away a part of his victims. 

"I will rule the world one day," said he. "And every person with a power at their fingertips will look to me for guidance." 

Those that saw differently tried to go up against him. 

"I will defeat you!" said his own sibling. 

"We will destroy you."

"You will not cause any more damage to our society!"

"You scum! You won't live much longer!" 

"This is for all the pain you've brought upon us."

"I hope you're ready to die now."

"You will rue the day that you ever thought to go against us!"

And yet the Man continued to thrive. He continued to grow more powerful, and his mind brighter, and his words more alluring. He was ready to do more, to take the first step toward his goal. 

And then a man with lies in his smile stood up to him. And the Man lost. 

"I must come back one day, though," said the Man. "I must complete my goal." 

And the Man recovered, slowly but surely. Not entirely, never entirely. He raised and taught a boy that he looked at as his son. And he watched as the flower bloomed largely in the midnight moon. 

The Man said, "Let me fight him again, let me fight against the man with lies in his smile." 

His protege said, "But of course! You'll beat him, I know you will." 

And the man with the lies in his smile and the Man fought once more. 

The Man won. 

"My enemy is gone. Now, I must rise," spoke the Man to his protege. 

War followed his conquest. Years upon years of bloodshed took company with it. 

And then the Man stood up from his throne, his fingers tinkling with his power. He looked over the sea of people around him, the sea of different cultures united under one empire. 

"I am the ruler of the world," he said to himself. "But that is not enough. I must be God." 

He watched, sitting on his throne, as the sea of people rose and fell. People died. People birthed. People murdered. 

He watched under a calculating eye. 

His reign never ended. His power grew stronger, as did his honeyed words. 

One day, he met a fair, young lady with a beauty flaunted on her features. She had the power to heal, but only with shared love. 

"If I can trick billions of men and women alike to dutifully call me their god, their religion, their salvation, then I surely can do the same to myself," said he. He hadn't realized his love had already been set in motion. 

The Man and this woman fell into the deep, dark, cold of the abyss of love. And since they both loved one another, she could heal him whole again, and he faced his people as if he had never suffered an injury or scar in the first place. 

The Man's wife grew a stomach so round and stretched as their child grew that she cried one night, "Oh, 'tis but an emperor at birth!" 

The Man cried for the first time in his life when he was told that the love of his life had died during childbirth. 

"Your son is all that remains, my sir." 

The Man watched as his son grew up. When no powers were in sight, he took him by the hair and let his power run through his fingers, crackling like electricity. The son screamed as blood spattered. 

The son, in defiance, would reject the title of emperor. 

"If I cannot change my fate in succession, than at least I can become empress," said he. "That is the only good thing this power you forced on my shoulders can do for me." 

The son ran away two years later, leaving the Man with nothing. 

"I shall track her down and kill her," his protege said. "He always wanted to rip his sex from the mirrors. Your son will be she now." 

"If her blood taints your hands, you may take the title of the world from my hands," said the Man. He watched the sea of people rise and fall. People died. People birthed. People murdered. 

People saved. 

"My wife, my child; their lights have flickered out of my life. They have no flame any longer. If only I could protect the fire that drove them to the living," said the Man. He watched under a calculating eye as the sea of people rose and fell. 

Rose and fell, rise and fall, rose and fell, rise and fall, rose and rise, fell and fall, rise and fell, rose and fall, falling, falling, falling. 

Over. And over. And over. 

=====

"Chikara-senpai, I need some help." 

The man seemed surprised, his eyebrows raising in mix of concern and care. "Yeah, something up?" 

Midoriya hesitated, wondering if what he was about to say was really a good idea, before he just let his question slip between his lips. 

"So, I met this girl a couple days ago—" Hiroji's eyes got a mysterious glint in them. "—and she was new to the town, so I decided that I'd show her around. And, in all honesty, the whole conversing thing doesn't seem to be working out in my favor, and while I appreciate the whole "think with your feet, it always leads you somewhere" tip, that also leads to me with my foot in my mouth, and I really don't want to screw this up because she seems to be really nice and I kind of want her to be my friend, which isn't to say you aren't like my friend or anything, it's just that it would be nice to have a companion my age and all, and sure, the people in my martial arts class are closer to my age, but they're still older by a few years, and back to the point at hand, I really don't know how to do this human interacting stuff, I mean, I can barely talk to you and I've known you for almost six months now, and by the way have I ever told you that I'm really thankful for you being so nice, and you're the best, I really appreciate all you've done for me, and also I'm a little scared that you're going to put me with the rest of the students after you catch me up and could you please not do that because I really feel like that is a terrible idea—"

"Okay kid, breathe before you run out of oxygen and faint." 

Midoriya immediately felt his face flush as he ducked his head. He hadn't meant to say that last bit, and that was definitely overstepping his boundaries. Sure, the two were close, but this was Hiroji's job. This wasn't something that he could just take advantage of just because he didn't want to leave Hiroji. 

He flinched as large, warm hands were placed on his shoulders, but he didn't squirm out of the man's grip. It was the first time Hiroji touched him without a warning. 

"Hey, Midoriya... look at me, please." Midoriya winced but did as he was told. Hiroji's eyes were soft as he leaned forward so their foreheads were touching. For a few seconds, they just listened to each other's breaths. 

"You don't do well in crowds, but you can handle it reasonably well," he recited, almost as if he was stating that the sky was blue. "But things are different when the attention is on you, right?" 

Midoriya fidgeted but gave a small nod in response. Hiroji's voice was soothing as he spoke. "Even if this is just a gymnastics class, I'm not going to force you into something that makes you uncomfortable. I will never make you to join one of the other classes if it means that you can be happy. Alright?" 

Midoriya nodded again. He sniffled slightly and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt as he avoided looking at Hiroji. The man squeezed his shoulder with little force before he stood back up to his full height. 

"Now then, what were you saying about this new girl? And can I be expecting a present? I've always wanted grandchildren." 

=====

Sparkle Emitter: 
So, wait, can you do backflips?? 

Sparkle Emitter: 
Because that would be so cool. 

Midoriya felt his face flush deeply as he thought about what Hiroji said. And though the man got it entirely wrong—he had no attraction to the female beyond being friends—he still couldn't help but hide his face as he tried to stamp out his blush with Hiroji smirking at him knowingly in the background. 

=====

Midoriya put his charger in his phone, then setting it on the top of his dresser before he stumbled over to his bed. His shirt slipped over one of his shoulders, and he pulled it back up before he peeled back the covers on his mattress and sliding inside. Juni was already resting on his alarm clock, as she always did, keeping a close eye on his as he slept. 

He yawned, the corner of his eyes watering before he turned the lamp off. He pulled all of his blankets up to his chin, closing his eyelids and letting a small period of quiet wash over him. It took him a while to get to sleep, it always did, but he made sure to at least get a few hours of rest, even if he wasn't technically sleeping. 

Nights like this one were long, though. 

Nightmares plagued him as he sifted in and out of consciousness, letting his mind wander into places that were filled with quicksand. By the time four-oh-eight rolled around, Midoriya felt like he would have done better if he hadn't slept at all. He turned over in his sleep, trying to make out Juni in the darkness. 

"Juni?" 

Oh. There she was, those small antennae glowing in the light from his digital clock. He didn't know what compelled him to ask, though. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, or maybe he was desperate for answers. 

"What even is your quirk?"

Juni stared at him for a long, long time. Then she turned, almost as if telling him to wait until the morning. 

=====

There once was a man who turned himself to womanhood. She ran away from home, wanting nothing to do with her father.

One day, she met a man who could take and give memories. They fell in love.

"Oh," said she, "but I once was a man, my darling. You cannot love me. The mirrors say so as well."

The man replied, "But you're a woman now, aren't you? That's what your powers do. What holds us from our love?"

"But the mirrors—"

"Then we'll get rid of the mirrors, my wife!" the Husband replied.

"But the Man, my father—"

"Do not worry about him. We can disguise ourselves. And we'll cover those horrific scars of yours."

And so they hid themselves in the sea of people, fading in between the waves.

=====

My quirk allows me to alter reality. It was how I could "change size," how I could "teleport," and how I survived all those accidents miraculously. Because of my quirk, I have been able to gain the intelligence of that of a human as an effect of being able to live longer than any slug should. One downside of my quirk is that I remain a slug, no matter how much I try to change myself. Forever to be quiet with no voice to speak of. 

In other words, I could save thousands of people. But people despise slugs. So I can't. 

Using my quirk more than a couple times a day causes bouts of amnesia. (In fact, I'm only supposed to use it once or twice a week at most, even with little things like moving a few feet.) When first meeting you, I couldn't help myself, but by the end of the day I couldn't remember who you were or why I was sitting in your scarf. (In fact, the only reason I know now what I did was because you reminded me unknowingly.) Using it continuously sends me into a catatonic state in which all of my cognitive functions can't process for a period of time, usually anywhere from a week to a month. 

That was the note Juni left on the counter when he finally got ready to go to school. He wasn't sure he had ever felt more guilty in his life. 

"Guess we both have pretty messed-up quirks, huh?" he asked her quietly.

To say the least, Midoriya made sure she didn't use her quirk more than she had to from then on. There was a lot more attempted pointing rather than teleportation, and they played charades rather than her writing notes. A bunch of fun games where they could learn one another a little more thoroughly (like the minuscule differences in Juni's expressions) was used instead. 

And it was effective, to say the least. Juni didn't have to use her quirk more than once every two months. 

(But that progress hadn't happened quite just yet. Midoriya woke up that morning, read the note, and swore to himself that they'd be better about it. And then, Juni hidden in his scarf, he walked out into the warm sun, birds chirping and trees swaying in the slight breeze. And then Midoriya walked toward the cafe he always loved, his phone heavy in his pocket as he brainstormed the best way to say hi to his new friend.) 

=====

Sparkle Emitter: 
You almost here? 

Knows Too Much: 
Yeah.

Knows Too Much: 
Gosh, I'm so nervous. Which doesn't  make much sense, but that isn't the point.  

Sparkle Emitter: 
Pfft, nah, I understand.

Sparkle Emitter: 
But don't worry about it, it's just   me. We can be nervous buddies together. 

Knows Too Much: 
I thought you wanted to be  art buddies. 

Sparkle Emitter: 
Shush, don't point out my flaws. 

Knows Too Much: 
:P

Knows Too Much: 
Okay, I'm two minutes away. 

Sparkle Emitter: 
Yay! Where do you want to go first?

Knows Too Much: 
This is your adventure, it'd probably  be best if you decided; plus I live here already. Also, weird question, but is it weird that I have a pet slug?

Sparkle Emitter: 
That's a good point. And yeah,   it   kind   of is, but I can actually imagine you having  one for some   strange reason. 

Sparkle Emitter: 
What's its name? 

"Her name is Juni." 

Yaoyorozu nearly spilled her cup of tea when she heard the voice come up right behind her. She whipped around to see Midoriya with the same scarf he wore the day before, the slightest tilt of a smile on his face. It was a bit odd to hear his voice—it was a little... stilted? He had the faintest accent, and though he spoke Japanese fluently and easily, there was something about his slight pronunciation that threw her off. 

It took a moment for the statement to sink in, and when it did, she smiled. "That's a great name."

Midoriya's smile grew just a tiny bit bigger at that. "Thanks. It's good to know that an on-the-spot name didn't fail me now." 

Yaoyorozu let out a snort as he took a seat in front of her. "I already ordered for you," she began to explain, hoping that he wouldn't be too upset. This kind of gesture was either well-received or hated. "The nice lady at the front said you had a few favorites, and so I just let her decide which one you would get." 

Midoriya nodded. "She usually does that every time I order." His eyes narrowed shortly after. "Though, you didn't have to do that for me."

"I know I didn't," Yaoyorozu said in response. "And that's exactly why I did it."

When it came down to it, Yaoyorozu had no idea what to think of Midoriya. He was sweet, and he was actually pretty funny when it came down to his utter honesty, but moments like these reminded her that Midoriya was an unknown factor with a brilliance that almost scared her. His eyes bore into her as he rested his chin on interlaced fingers, and a calculating look trickled into his eyes, which was only broken by a waiter setting out their orders. "Thank you," he said quietly, wrapping his gloved hands around the cup of his tea. He lifted it up to his lips and took a small sip; a look of contentedness passed over his plain features as he drummed on the side of the porcelain cup with his fingers. 

"Usually these kinds of actions are used as kind gestures, but—forgive any of my accusations if they may be innaccurate—I believe there's something more to this than simple kindness. Not that you aren't a kind person by definition, Yaoyorozu. I just find that the certain way you phrased your response was... intriguing." 

Yaoyorozu had to keep herself from letting surprise melt into her expressions as she watched him carefully. She had no idea what he exactly meant by it, but his entire character changed in an instant... Immediately from a kid who talked about slugs for pets to someone much, much older. 

"To not have to do something, and yet to do it anyway... It reminds me of the philosophy of a hero, just on a much, much smaller scale. I apologize if I'm wrong, Yaoyorozu, but the idea had been in my head for a while..."

Yaoyorozu thought about the notebook full of different bios of heroes. She thought about the title, which said that he was on his eleventh volume, and she imagined the other ten books full of hero knowledge and analysis. 

He had an eye for those kinds of things, she realized. 

She took a sip of her own tea as she tried to find a way to word what she wanted to say. "You enjoy thinking about heroes?"

He shrugged. "I enjoy thinking about those who save those in need." 

Yaoyorozu smiled at him. She knew it was more genuine than before. "I've wanted to be one for a while now." 

Midoriya nodded as he drummed on the side of his cup again. He seemed to ponder something, his lips pursed in thought, but they finished the rest of their meal in silence. And then, as they left the premises of the cafe, he finally spoke. 

"I think we both know what it means to be a hero, Yaoyorozu." His eyes were very far away as he spoke. "It's a dark job. It's messy. It breaks people apart."

Yaoyorozu huffed, feeling a sharp pang of sadness go through her. "We're both twelve. Won't you at least let me dream at my age?"

Midoriya glanced sharply back at her. "Why dream when I know you'll be the real deal?"

And that changed Yaoyorozu's view of Midoriya forever. Because, yeah, his hair was a little longer than most boys', and his scarf and gloves were odd things to wear in the middle of summer break, and his plain appearance made him forgettable, but...

He was honest. And if the guy who seemed to know everything said she was going to be a hero, well, why couldn't she be?

=====

"Is something the matter, Midoriya?" Yaoyorozu asked. He seemed a little off, and sometimes he would stare off into space if he wasn't focusing on something important. 

"Hm?" he said, jolting out of his far-away look. 

Yaoyorozu sheepishly smiled at him. "I dunno if this is normal, but you're getting a bit lost in your thoughts a lot. I was just wondering if you were okay."

Midoriya blinked his wide green eyes at her as the tips of his ears turned pink. "You want me to be honest, or do you want to save us the embarrassment of falling into an awkward silence that will probably last an eternity?"

Yaoyorozu blinked. "Honesty?" she said, hesitant. 

Midoriya nodded, though she noted that his face was a little more flushed than before. "So, I have this instructor of mine... you know, for my gymnastics class?" At Yaoyorozu's nod, he continued. "Well, he's a bit... of an interesting character. He's nice and all, but he can say a few things that normally wouldn't come to people's minds? Anyway, he told me that..." At this, the flush of his cheeks grew deeper. "—well, that he'd like to see what our kids looked like."

Yaoyorozu stared at him, and then a snort escaped her. And then, suddenly, she was in a fit of uncontrollable giggles. "He thought—he said—but we're just friends—" Her face was getting increasingly red as she tried to keep her laughing to a minimum. However, she couldn't control it anymore, and with a snort she was laughing hard enough that they had to stop so that she could lean on him. She held a hand over her stomach as she wheezed heavily. 

Her laughter was contagious, and soon Midoriya found himself laughing as well. 

When she wiped her eyes, getting the last of her giggles out, she glanced at him shyly. "You have a nice laugh." 

Midoriya felt the corners of his lips twitch up higher. "Thanks," he replied as he pulled nervously at his scarf. "You do too." 

They continued their way down the street after that, the flush still present on Yaoyorozu's cheeks from her boisterous laughter. She had quite a powerful voice, he noted internally. Without warning, a smile came across her face, and she grabbed his wrist (he flinched slightly, and his stomach lurched into his throat, but he kept himself from jerking away despite the million warnings ringing in his head) and pulled him down the street at a speed that made him stumble. 

Yaoyorozu was half a head taller than him though, maybe more, and he struggled to keep up with her. His long legs helped pick up some of the slack, but it was still somewhat difficult as she dragged him up to the front of a building. 

... Was she emitting sparkles?

"Look, Midoriya, it's the art place that you were talking about!" She was rocking back and forth on her feet, her smile brighter than the sun. 

Maybe he could ask her to make him a pair of sunglasses. 

He sighed through his nose and shook his head. "You're really excited about this," he said to her, watching as her eyes grew brighter. 

"I love arts and crafts! Of course, reading is my favorite thing to do, since it helps with my quirk," she said. 

Midoriya glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. "It does? I didn't know that." 

Yaoyorozu blinked in confusion. "Eh? I thought you knew what my quirk was..." Her lips were in a small pout as she looked at him with bewilderment. 

Midoriya rubbed the back of his head. "I know that your quirk is Creation, and that you can create objects, hence the name... though you have to know about them well enough? I don't know the exact specifics or the drawbacks of it."

Yaoyorozu looked at him curiously before nodding. "Yeah, that's exactly it. I have to know their molecular structure well enough to create it, and whatever I create comes from my fat cells. It's why I ate a lot more this morning than most people would."

Midoriya thought about the large meal she ordered while he was still making his way to the cafe, and then remembered her bashful smile. It explained a lot, really, and it filled in a lot of the holes that he previously had within his knowledge of her quirk. 

"But..." Yaoyorozu was staring at him, her brows furrowed as she looked at him worriedly. "—how, exactly, did you know about my quirk? And the fact that you didn't know everything about it..." 

Midoriya looked away from her pointed gaze as he turned to the front of the store. He pursed his lips as excuses ran through his head, before he finally he rested on what Yaoyorozu said before. 

Honesty. 

"I didn't do anything illegal, if that's what you're wondering. And—" He paused at this, taking a shuddering breath before continuing. "And I'll tell you about it. I'll explain it to you in full, everything. One day." 

Yaoyorozu's eyes searched him, trying to find any lie. Finally, a small smile made its way onto her face. 

"One day," she echoed before grabbing onto his hand. He flinched, and his hand trembled as she slipped her hand into his and squeezed. It felt nice, though, and he let it stay there as she pulled him inside. 

The bell tinkled above them. 

=====

"I'm pretty sure this looks like a deformed duck."

"Eh... I was thinking it looked more like a dog with two heads, but that works too."

"I told you that I was terrible with paints. Look at me, I'm literally covered in it. There's more paint on me than on the canvas."

"I thought that if we both worked on the same painting, it would end up better, but I guess I just made the entire situation worse...?"

"Clearly." 

"Okay, I'm sorry. But hey, we can still fix this. See, here, let's add a little paint here, wait, the green one dang it not the purple, and then we can add a black dot there..."

"..."

"..."

"It looks like a tree who stuck feathers on its bark and is trying to blend in with a pack of wolves."

"Wolves."

"Yeah, these things."

"Those are clouds."

"Am I the only one who is seeing this?"

"Midoriya, what the actual heck is wrong with you? Those are obviously clouds."

"Okay, maybe we should add lightning then." 

"..."

"Oh my god we just made this so much worse, what have we done, Zuku." 

"..."

"..."

"I like it."

"What, this mess?" 

"No. Well, yes. But I meant the nickname." 

"Oh. Oh, you do?"

"Yeah." 

"... Can I keep on using it?"

"Mhm."

"... Then you can come up with a name for me."

"... Yaochan?" 

"I like it."

"The painting, or the nickname?"

"Both."

And they shared a smile. 

=====

There once was a man that turned himself into a woman with a quirk that never belonged to her. 

She fell deeply into love with a man who protected her. His charming voice always calmed her when she sided with panic.

His quirk allowed him to receive and give memories.

"Let me understand your pain as my own," he asked her, and so she did.

He still did not leave her. And deeper in love they fell, when finally, a joyous day came.

"I'm pregnant," the woman said.

And he smiled.

"I cannot wait to see my child for the first time!" he exclaimed. "Oh, and how I hope he has those same freckles you do!"

And he did.

=====

Midoriya was friends with Eishun Akihito. 

He hoped they were, anyway. They seemed to be friends, at the very least. 

Eishun teased him every now and then, but he was incredibly supportive and defended him from those that were much older than him. 

"We're all family here," he said. "And I gotta protect my younger siblings, right?"

Eishun didn't mind that he was smaller, or that he wasn't the strongest opponent. In fact, physically, he was one of the weakest in his class. He made up for it in skill and tactics that, as Eishun claimed, was the equivalence to that of Black Widow and was totally unfair. 

(Midoriya had to search up the character himself, and, after some searching, he found himself immersed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Juni seemed to be more into the Hulk, which was an interesting choice, but he couldn't really blame her. It was just another thing that separated the two of them.) 

He was about to leave said class when Master Lee asked him to stay and help push up the mats. He got a small sense of deja vu before he agreed. They worked in silence, as Master Lee always did. He was a silent, brooding man, much more serious than Master Splinter, who was always a little more happy and cheerful. He wasn't Hiroji happy, but he was self-confident and had an air of calm merriment that followed him wherever he went. 

"Midoriya, where are your parents?" 

Midoriya winced as he glanced up at Master Lee. The man was always straight to the point, never sugar-coating anything. When he wanted something, he got it. 

"I'm sorry, could you say that again?" he asked politely. 

"Your parents," Master Lee repeated. "You never talk about them. They never show up to pick you up after practice. You have no guardian. The only sign I have of them being around is that they signed your permission form to let you participate and sends their checks on the due date, via you. So where are they?"

Midoriya blinked. "I'm afraid I don't understand." 

Master Lee shook his head. "Children without the guidance and/or without a parental figure in their life can go down roads that should have never been built. I take child abandonment seriously, Midoriya. So answer the question." 

Midoriya glanced at him from the corner of his eye. "My father works overseas," he said. "And my mother travels a lot, as a mix between her job and because it's something she loves to do. She hates being cooped up for long periods of time." 

"And so she doesn't bring you with her?" he asked. 

Midoriya narrowed his eyes as he wracked his brain. "I don't know the full reasons myself, but she says that she wants to make sure that I grow up in a stable environment. She planned on taking me on a few vacations, though, so I could experience more life outside of Japan, but she wanted me to live somewhere quiet with a few constants. Her trips are also a part of her job, and me being there makes it a hassle and hampers her ability to do her work. She sends postcards all the time, though, as well as letters. My father works overseas, as I said, in a business firm. He comes home any time he can, though he's often tired. Usually when he arrives, he comes in around the morning, so we decided that he would sleep until school and practice were over. That way, when I came home, he would be well rested enough that we could actually hold a decent conversation and have a little family time until he had to go back. He checks in all the time, usually by phone calls, though sometimes he sends text messages."

Midoriya started to zip up his backpack and get all his stuff piled together. "I don't have to do much, really. They set everything up so it's all done automatically, and my neighbors sometimes help me out. My parents encouraged me to sign up for a bunch of different hobbies to entertain myself and help me grow while they're gone; I still receive important lessons from adults and people older than me, even if they don't realize they're giving them to me. I'm fine, Master Lee, sir. My parents haven't abandoned me." 

He thought about Inko, who practically disappeared off the face of the planet. He thought about Hisashi, with his goodbye note left behind. He thought about his mother, screaming and crying with large tears running down her face. He thought about his father, calm and collected, always and forever as he turned his back. 

No. Not abandonment. They were just... trying to find better lives for themselves. That was all. 

Midoriya bowed to Master Lee as he turned to leave. The man's scowl had lightened considerably, though the suspicion was still deeply embedded into his eyes. 

"And the paint, Midoriya?" the man called. 

Midoriya glanced to his gloves and arms, which were covered in flecks of dry paint. 

"A friend, Master Lee," he responded. 

(And yes, that was a small smile on the man's face, though he would deny it as such on any other occasion.) 

=====

"I'm sorry, Yaochan, I'm afraid I have to leave soon."

"Oh yeah, martial arts practice, right?"

"On the dot."

"Well, I'll text you later, then. Maybe we should go to the bookstore tomorrow? That way I can rent a few books to read while you're off with all of your hobbies."

"Sounds good. And maybe we can drop by the gift shop later, and then the day after we can catch a train to explore that whole block dedicated to window-shopping?"

"Mmm, sounds like a plan. And then, maybe, we can go by those parks? I think that could be a pretty relaxing day."

"Gotcha. See you later."

=====

Midoriya was walking down the street when his phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled out his phone to see a text message from Yaoyorozu. 

Sparkle Emitter:
Ok, so why don't we get up extra early and go to the cafe around... let's say eight? And then we can eat some food then. 

Sparkle Emitter:
Afterward, we can go to the gift shop and buy a couple of things there. Then we can head to the window-shopping block and explore there for a while. You have to be back by around three-thirty, so the rest of the time we can use to head to the bookstore and pick out a couple of books. 

Sparkle Emitter:
The day after that, I was thinking the parks. Maybe just a few calm hours of stuff. Perhaps we can drop by any other good places with food, and just eat, drink, and read there. In the sun. 

Knows Too Much:
S ounds good to me. But what's with the changes in plans? I'm not sure we'd want to cram so much into one day unless we have something else to add in. 

Sparkle Emitter:
There's this museum a couple hours away by train that I want to go to, if you're willing. 

Knows Too Much:
. .. Are you talking about the chocolate museum?

Sparkle Emitter:
...

Sparkle Emitter:
Maybe

Knows Too Much: 
E h, why not. Sure, we can go there. 

He was about to add another text message when he heard a small noise. He froze, his fingers pausing over the screen of his phone. Glancing around warily, he listened out for any stray noises. There was a faint gurgling sound, but it didn't sound dangerous. 

And yet...

Midoriya felt the hairs at the nape of his neck stand on end as he turned around in a full circle, eyes wandering for some kind of movement. He jumped six feet in the air when the metal cover of the manhole popped out of its place, and he stared with wide eyes at the object as it circled on its one side, around and around and around until it clattered to the ground. His head whipped from place to place as he tried to find something to spot. 

What had caused that? Something in the sewers? 

Another gurgling sound followed, louder this time, and he took a step back. 

It occurred to him too late that he was entirely alone. He looked down to his phone and frantically pressed the call button on Yaoyorozu's contact. Immediately, she picked up. 

"Something up, Zuku?"

He swallowed the lump in his throat as he tried to breathe evenly. "Yaochan—"

It happened without warning. His breath was taken away as something dangerously sticky and cold surrounded him, and he choked on the something that was keeping him from breathing. He felt the same solution start to trickle into his mouth and down his throat. 

Faintly, he realized that Yaoyorozu was frantically calling his name from his phone, which was lying innocently a few feet away. His lungs burned, aching for oxygen that wasn't there. Tears shone in his eyes, and he clenched his eyelids tightly as one escaped and rolled down a freckled cheek. 

He whimpered as he dug his fingers fruitlessly into the goop that covered him, though the sound was muffled through the slime crawling into his ears. His chest shuddered as he gasped, a large amount of slick muck crawling into his mouth and seeping under his tongue and along his gums. Something heavy slipped down his esophagus, and his stomach lurched as he attempted to puke up whatever it was in reflex. 

"You're going to be a good body for me," a voice said. It was dark and bubbly, almost acidic as its muffed words reached his ears. 

Dark splotches appeared in his vision as he tried to stumble forward. The slimed figure didn't seem to care, and so he took another step, closer, closer, closer. 

He choked again, and he stumbled again his vision swam. His knees hit concrete as the slime continued to push itself into him. 

"Why are you heading away from the street with the rest of civilization?" Midoriya didn't listen to the mocking voice, instead reaching out to the metal manhole cover. His fingers brushed it. He didn't know what to aim for, who was attacking him, but he clenched the piece of metal and hoped. 

Oh, how he hoped. 

Wavy blonde hair, hazel brown eyes, knee-high leather boots, and metal-infused gloves flashed in his memory. There was that lying smile on that face of that excellent woman. 

Damn you, Maiko. 

And then he felt the metal under his hands grow warm as his (h_e+)**r) quirk activated, a crawling sensation exploding under his skin. 

And then the black splotches grew bigger and bigger until there was nothing left. 

=====

Back when he was still with his parents, Midoriya had a cat. The cat had a quirk that allowed it to jump extremely high when it was surprised. The cat hated the quirk, hated that it could jump high enough to hurt on landing whenever it was shocked. 

It wasn't a rare quirk by any means, but it still annoyed the cat to no end. It wanted to get rid of it. 

When Midoriya turned four, he could do just that. 

His mother watched him do it. Her face paled considerably, her cheeks pallid as her lower lip trembled. 

"Mom?" he asked. "Mom, what's wrong?"

"I-I... no. No, I c-can't. I..." Tears streaked down his mother's face as she mindlessly rambled. "Not you too. I can't let you become him. I can't. I can't. I'm sorry, I'm so... I'm s-so s-s-sorry."

He was so lost, unaware that his mother's thousands of scars were burning.

"Wha-what's wrong? What did I do wro—" 

"No!" She shrieked as she tripped. She caught herself on a counter, and a container left on the surface rattled. It should have been put away hours ago. "No, no, no!" She grabbed it in a fit of tears and deep sobs and threw it at him. He twisted to his side, as if to protect himself, but the contents inside the container were little to none, and it only hit the side of his neck.

It only. 

"I can't let you end up like him," she hissed, all of her humanity evaporating in her eyes. "I have to, I have to do this. I have no choice." 

She lit a flame.

"I have to. I have to. I have to, I have to, I have to I have to I havetoIhavetoIhaveto—"

She burned him with the intent of killing him. 

And then she tried to burn their house down, too.

Midoriya didn't judge her for it. She had her own problems. 

She never should have had a child, though.

=====

He woke up to a soft voice trying to wake him up. He blinked his eyes sluggishly as he pulled himself up. His vision swam—and something was terribly odd about it as a red, yellow, and blue hue took over—and he found himself coughing up the remnants of whatever was in his stomach off to the side. It took a few minutes for everything to settle, and he blinked up at the figure crouching beside him. 

"Are you alright?" they asked. "That was a terrible villain there." 

Midoriya rubbed at his eyes before he focused on the hero. He stared at his reflection in their helmet, their large, white suit making them appear bloated and almost like a teddy bear. 

"Thirteen?" he blurted. They nodded in response. 

"I'm sorry I didn't get to you sooner." They tapped the container on their leg. "I'll be taking him to the police station. Are you okay? Any injuries? Do you need me to take you to your hospital and wait for your parents to come pick you up?"

Midoriya let the questions sink into him before he responded. "I think I'm okay," he slurred. He stood up with some difficulty, though Thirteen had to help balance him. "My apartment's nearby. I can get home easily," he lied. 

"Alright. Make sure to go and get help if you're feeling bad though, okay? Here's your phone," they said, and they handed it to him with care. "Oh, that was one impressive quirk back there. I hope to see you again someday, yeah?" 

Thirteen turned to leave, and Midoriya watched as they went their separate ways. He looked down at his phone, seeing a bunch of missed calls and unread texts of Yaoyorozu. Shakily, he sent a text to her explaining that he got caught up with a villain, but was okay now. 

Pocketing his phone shortly after, he slowly made his way home. He threw up twice more, completely emptying his stomach as he shakily made his way to his apartment. The first thing he did was take off his contacts, and he sighed in relief as his vision returned to normal. He took a long shower, almost falling asleep in the scalding hot water as he scrubbed all the slime off his body. He managed to curl up into bed without too much trouble as he pulled the covers far above his head.

He slept for a long, long time. 

=====

The first thing he did when he woke up was pick up his contacts from the counter he set them on. He twisted them in his hands, and he put one of them back in. 

Yep. The red, orange, yellows, and blues were still there. Though he had no idea why. 

Pursing his lips, he set the two beside one another before heading back into his room. He opened his closet, and he glanced around at all the stuff piled inside. He started to push things aside as he picked his way through until, finally, a familiar briefcase came into view. He had to stand on top of his tippy toes to grab it from off the shelf, but he pulled it into his arms. (He was thankful he had better balance, or he wasn't sure he'd still be on his two feet.) 

Sighing through his mouth as he tried to ease the headache that was starting to pound at his skull, he flipped the locks over and opened it with ease. He glanced at the rest of the items inside, carefully counting them to make sure everything was there before he grabbed one that was inside the zipper on the head of the case. Rolling the small object in his hands, he closed the case back up and stood. 

In the corner of his eyes, he saw Juni (who was sitting in his scarf at the time of the attack—and was, luckily, unharmed—and now was on his alarm clock) looking at him curiously. He hesitated, wondering if showing anyone what he was about to do was a good idea, before he picked her up and held her in his other hand. Walking back into the kitchen, he placed Juni on the counter as he picked up one of the contacts. He rolled the small stylus-like object nervously between his fingers before he pressed a tiny, round button. 

A red graph appeared as it scanned the contact, and he waited nervously. It processed for a second before beeping, and a small popup appeared. 

He read through it quickly before waving it away. He sat down on one of the stools and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to ease his panic. 

On the wall, the hands on the clock continued to tick away. It was four in the morning. 

=====

Hisashi recorded his blinking patterns when they were together. He wasn't quite sure how. Maybe he used his older contacts to record what he did.

But the man managed to find it out. And, in his newer contacts, he added an effect that would activate whenever he was in extreme panic. 

Heat vision. 

"Juni?" The snail looked up at him curiously. 

"Should we move away?"

The snail blinked. 

"... No. That would make more problems than it would solve." 

Midoriya rubbed his eyes and breathed shakily. 

"No. We shouldn't." 

Why did Hisashi scare him all the time, even if he was never there?

=====

Waking up in the wee hours of the morning left him exhausted. Yaoyorozu noticed it immediately when they met up again.

"You look terrible." She was frowning as she fixed a stray piece of hair out of his eyes. "You sure you don't want to take today off? We can change our schedule around a bit."

"It's fine," he replied as he tucked his hair behind his ear. He didn't look her in the eyes as he spoke. "The villain just scared me a little, that's all. It wasn't that bad." 

He thought about the slime that choked him, attempting to drown him and take him over. 

She looked at him suspiciously. "Alright," she eventually agreed. "I picked up our painting from yesterday. It finished drying, thankfully... Do you want it?"

Midoriya shook his head. "No, you should keep it for yourself." 

Yaoyorozu narrowed her eyes but nodded. "Alright." A silence fell over them, but Yaoyorozu eventually changed the subject. "So, you said that you had a pet slug? I never got to see her."

Midoriya glanced up at her from where he was picking at his food. He nodded before reaching into the folds of his scarf, gently picking her up and setting her on the small table they were sitting at. It was raining outside, so they took a table inside that day. 

Yaoyorozu blinked curiously. "She's a lot smaller than I thought she'd be. And cuter, too."

Midoriya breathed sharply from his nose, almost a laugh. "Yeah, most people don't think of a slug being cute. But—" He rubbed his index finger along her head. "—she's grown on me."

Yaoyorozu smiled. It was a little forced, he could tell, but she didn't seem to mind Juni that much, which was a win in his book. 

"Now then," she said, clapping her hands together, "let's hurry up and eat! We can't be late if we want to fit everything we're doing today in!" 

Midoriya smiled to himself as she started to shove whole spoonfuls of food into her mouth. He started to eat his own meal, and as the waiter came over he slipped him their payment. Yaoyorozu had paid for the last one, and he wanted to make it up to her.

They soon left, umbrellas drawn, and Yaoyorozu stayed close by his side. He was sure that she noticed by now his aversion to physical touch, and she rarely touched him aside from when they linked arms in crowded places so they wouldn't get lost. He appreciated it, and was glad that she could notice the signs quicker than others could. 

They took a train to the other side of the city, and Yaoyorozu shared headphones with him to listen to music. It wasn't exactly his kind of thing, but it was catchy and he hummed along with her to the beat. 

The station was warm, and leaving into the cold rain was a change that had him shivering, but he soon grew used to the freezing temperatures and walked with Yaoyorozu to the small gift shop. He stood by the doorway as she went further in to check out the items. It didn't take her long to find what she wanted, though he stared at her back suspiciously as she hid the items she bought. 

Back outside and in the rain, she pulled one of them out and handed it to him. He took it from her with care, and he looked at its dark eyes. 

"A bunny," he said, deadpan. He looked at the small green bunny keychain in his hands. It was really cute, he had to admit, but... "You really didn't have to do this, Yao-chan."

She was grinning at him. "Yeah, but I found one that I liked and I thought I could buy one that matched." She pulled out another keychain, though this one had a snowy owl on it. 

"It matches you well," he commented as he looked into its yellow eyes. She giggled. 

"Yeah, I thought so. Though yours just screamed "you." I couldn't pass the chance up."

He smiled lightly as he put it in his pocket for safekeeping. "Thanks. I'll keep it forever."

She turned her face away from him, though he could see the small blush on her face. 

Yeah. Human interaction wasn't either of their forte, apparently. At least she was better than him at it. 

They started their walk down to the metro station, and they waited quietly on the benches for their ride to roll in. As it did, they stood up simultaneously and watched as the doors opened back up. The cars were mostly empty since it was raining, and they both took seats that were beside the other. Conversation sprung upon them as Midoriya pulled up his phone and showed her a new hero debut. They talked about his quirk and overall lack of other capabilities, which made him effective in only certain scenarios. 

"I think that he's an amazing hero, no doubt. His quirk gives him a lot of power as a hero. He's a valuable ally," Yaoyorozu said. 

"I agree, though he's bound to stay in the background until he gains a few more tricks up his sleeve. He isn't very strong physically, and since his quirk can be dangerous in many circumstances, I think that he can easily be taken advantage of by villains. I hope he'll grow, and sooner rather than later." He knew his hero nerd side was coming out, but he didn't mind. Yaoyorozu didn't seem to, either. 

"Hmm. You make a lot of good points. But heroes always have time to learn." Something flashed in her eyes. "Correction: they have a lot of scenarios to learn from. They don't always have enough time." 

Midoriya looked at her, head tilted, but he didn't say much otherwise. 

A few minutes passed before Yaoyorozu broke the silence. "Hey Midoriya, you'll tell me if I'm doing something wrong, won't you?"

Midoriya rubbed his hands, gripping his left tightly (a habit she noticed he did often when he was nervous.) "Not sure what you mean by that." 

She looked away from him for a second, instead focusing on her wet shoes. Sometimes, although rare, his green eyes unnerved her. They looked... wrong, almost. As if they didn't belong. "I want to be a hero too. I want people to tell me if I'm doing something wrong. If they don't... well, that means they've given up on me, right? They don't think I can learn from my mistakes."

Midoriya stared at her, gears turning. "You're smart, Yao-chan. I'm sure you'll be great hero. Just have a little more confidence in yourself, you know?" He leaned back in his chair. "I haven't seen you in action, so I'm not sure how I can help in that way. Just... listen to yourself. Trust your decisions, even if they aren't thought-out. And don't let anyone else tell you what's wrong and what's right if you know better."

Yaoyorozu seemed to digest that information, and she breathed deeply. "Thanks."

He smiled at her before looking away, leaving her to her privacy to think. 

That was when he noticed the guy looking at them curiously. He was pretending to look at the roof of the compartment they were sitting in, but Midoriya could tell that he was looking into the distorted mirrors that sat above them. He wasn't sure if he was looking at Yaoyorozu or him, but he was staring, and it made his skin crawl. 

The rest of their time was spent in a thick silence, Yaoyorozu unaware of Midoriya sitting tense beside him. 

The second that their stop was called, Yaoyorozu stood; Midoriya made sure to stay sitting. 

The man stood up as well. 

Damn it. He wanted her. 

It would have been different if he was after him. He could tell Yaoyorozu to continue on and leave him behind for another stop so that he could lead the man away. Then they could text one another and then meet up later. Sure, the plan had holes, but Yaoyorozu could stay in a place with a bunch of people—witnesses—and he could relax knowing that she was safe. 

Quickly making it to her side, he followed her outside. She was relaxed, which made Midoriya feel guilty. He knew he was going to have to break that tranquility. 

"Could you make me a mirror?" 

Yaoyorozu looked at him with raised eyebrows, but she nodded and created a small hand-held mirror from the palm of her hand. She handed it to him, and he took it before tilting it in the direction so that he could see behind him. 

The man was following them, shouldering through crowds as he made his way toward them. Midoriya narrowed his eyes as he grabbed Yaoyorozu by the hand. She yelped as he pulled her into a direction that lead them further from the block they were heading toward. The rain fell harder against their umbrellas, and he quickened their gait. She was blubbering in surprise, not used to him first making contact—she was always the one to initiate it. 

"Zuku, what's—"

"Someone's following us," he interrupted quietly, feeling bad that he had to cut in on her when she didn't know what was going on. "He'd been staring at you the entire ride."

Her eyes widened. "W-wha—I didn't notice that—" she stammered, her face growing pallid in concern. 

"Look, don't freak out. The last thing we want to do is alert him that we know," he said to her in what he hoped was a reassuring tone. He thanked the rain, glad that it made a good excuse to walk quickly and covered most of their conversation as long as they were quiet enough. "We're going to stick to the most crowded areas where there's enough people as we make it to the block we were supposed to be at. I want you to make something that can protect ourselves in the meantime. A net, stun gun, a flash bomb, I don't care." 

She nodded, her expression growing determined as her hand glowed again. She hid whatever she created in her pocket, and the two continued down the streets. Several times they had to skip a street that was empty of all people, but they made pretty good progress as they finally arrived at the block they were supposed to be window shopping at. Midoriya looked back into his mirror again, expecting to see the man there. And he was, except...

There was suddenly a hand on Yaoyorozu's shoulder, and she jumped around in surprise. Midoriya noticed that she reached into her pocket, and he instinctively turned and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him. He was shorter than her, so the action was a little awkward, but he wasn't going to have any bastard try and manhandle her. Good luck trying to beat her after getting through him, though. (Seriously—the girl was someone not to mess with; if they went head-to-head, she could probably floor him with her brains and quirk alone. Now, if quirks were eliminated from the equation, he couldn't say the same about the result, but she'd probably still give him a hard time.) 

The man refused to look at him. The stubble on his chin moved with his smile as he shone his brilliantly white teeth off to her. "You need some help getting around? You seem to be lost."

Yaoyorozu's eyes flashed with fear before they hardened considerably. Her grip on her umbrella handle tightened until her knuckles turned white. "We're right where he need to be, thanks." Her voice was cold, and Midoriya was thankful that she was strong even as someone as young as she was. 

The man's smile faltered. "Really? You're supposed to be here?"

"Yes," Yaoyorozu replied shortly. 

The man opened his mouth, but Midoriya cut him off. "As she said, we're fine. We know what we're doing. So, unless you want me to call the police, I'd suggest you get your hand off her shoulder and leave us alone." 

Something flashed in the man's eyes, and his smile disappeared altogether. "I'm sorry, but don't you think that's a little extreme for someone just trying to help?"

Yaoyorozu was about to spit fire. It wasn't an expression Midoriya was used to seeing. "If you don't leave us alone, I will get my parents to reign hell on you. And if you don't know who they are, then you need to pick your victims better."

The man stumbled backward, his eyes wide, sweat rolling down the side of his face. "I-I don't know what you're talking about," he defended. "But whatever. I'm gone." He held his hands up for emphasis, and he scurried away. When he was out of sight, Yaoyorozu breathed a sigh of relief as Midoriya looked at her. 

"How'd you manage to do that?"

Yaoyorozu shot him a shaky smile. "I recognized him. He used to work for my parents, though he was fired because they found him doing drugs. We have zero tolerance policy for that, so he was gone, stuff thrown out to the curb and locked out..." Her smile became strained. "Guess he was aiming for me because of my parents' business."

Midoriya huffed. "Bastard." He moved his arm away from her, shaking his head. "You were great back there, though. Nice job, thinking on the spot." 

Yaoyorozu nodded. "Thanks. I... never thought I'd actually have to get your help when you said that there'd be weird guys here." 

Midoriya, after a moment of hesitation, pressed his hand against hers, linking their fingers. "And that's exactly why I didn't leave you behind this morning." Her squeezed her hand. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you, Yao-chan." 

There were tears in the corners of her eyes, and she was sniffling, but she nodded. "Thank you," she murmured. 

Midoriya let silence hang over them for a moment before he opened his arms wide. "Hug?" 

Yaoyorozu's smile shook as she pulled him against her. She was awkwardly holding the umbrella above them as he rubbed her back, her shoulders shaking lightly. "Th-thank you for being such a great friend, Zuku." 

Midoriya didn't respond. He had no idea how to. 

=====

"That took a lot shorter than we thought it would." Yaoyorozu was holding a stack of books under her arms. 

Midoriya nodded. "I guess so." He looked at his phone, which said that it was only one in the afternoon. They were supposed to get back at least by three-thirty so that Midoriya would have time to get ready for his gymnastics practice, but being followed by a man made it so they hadn't wanted to be out in the open for too long in unfamiliar territory. 

"Wonder what we're supposed to do in the meantime," Yaoyorozu mused. "Maybe we should just end it early?"

Midoriya was about to respond when his phone went off. He blinked in surprise, not used to getting any notifications or calls from his phone. He pulled it out of his pocket, surprised to see that it was an alarm that he had set. 

Oh. 

Oh. 

"What is it?" Yaoyorozu asked, looking concerned. 

Midoriya shrugged. "I have a hair appointment. In half an hour." 

Yaoyorozu's eyes lit up. "Can I come?"

... Gosh, he would feel so bad to reject her when she was making that face. He sighed before nodding. "Yeah, come on." 

=====

"You should cut it like this." Yaoyorozu had a certain hairstyle pulled up on her phone and shoved it in his face. He took it from her, glancing over the details. 

It was layered a bit more, and it had more bangs, though it wasn't that much different from the hairstyle he usually got. "Sure. Don't see why not." 

She squealed and skipped ahead of him as they approached the barber shop. They entered a few minutes before his appointment, and the woman at the desk gave them a heartfelt welcome as they were ushered in. The specific hairstylist he requested was waiting for them as they approached. 

"Ah! Midoriya, it's good to see you again. Did you like the last style we did?" 

He nodded, and the woman smiled at him. "Are your parents busy again? I would love to meet them, you know. They raised such a fine gentleman." 

Midoriya was half-tempted to curl into himself and clam up while the other half of him was blushing to the tips of his ears. "They're busy with work. Maybe next time, though," he said quietly. Then he gestured to Yaoyorozu, who was still emitting sparkles. "This is my friend, though."

"Aw, that's so sweet!" 

Yaoyorozu showed her the picture that she wanted, and the woman nodded, fiddling with a pair of scissors. "Looks great! It'll look amazing on you."

Yaoyorozu was smiling and waving at him like a giddy child on Christmas day. 

=====

They fooled around for a little bit, and Midoriya was frazzled when he arrived at his gymnastics class two minutes late, wearing clothes Yaoyorozu made for him.

"It looks amazing on you," Hiroji said.

Midoriya smiled. 

=====

Midoriya trudged home, looking over his shoulder periodically to make sure no villains were out an about. That was the last time he was going to go out and about without being careful. He let out a sigh of relief as he arrived at his apartment, and he reached into his pocket to unlock it. 

His brows furrowed when he realized that it was unlocked. He was sure that he locked it before he left early that morning, so why...?

He opened the door cautiously, and he prepared himself for some kind of attack when he found that the lights were on. 

Nothing. He closed the door silently behind him, balling his fists as he quietly moved around the corner of the hallway and into the living room. 

He paled. 

There was a man sitting in his kitchen, sitting by the island. He had a cup of coffee in one hand as he read a stray magazine. Midoriya's movement caught his eye almost immediately, and he looked up, tilting his head to the side. He placed the ceramic cup on the counter languidly, taking in a deep breath as he looked him up and down. 

"You've aged." 

Midoriya didn't humor him with a response. Instead he bowed his head and looked at his shoes, clearing his throat and pulling at his scarf nervously. He could feel his heart beat frantically in his ears as his mouth went dry. 

The man sighed heavily before standing up, the legs of the chair making a loud screeching sound as it scraped across the floor. His footsteps were heavy as he made his way over to him, and he stared at Midoriya with a piercing gaze. 

"I wish you'd look at me, Izuku." 

Midoriya flinched. A large hand ran through his hair, and he shuddered as a small whimper escaped him. Before he could ease away from the touch, the hand gripped his head tightly, and he let out a short cry as it started to pound at his skull. Instinctively, his hands flung up to try and pry the hand off his head as tears sprung in his eyes, though the grip was relentless. 

"Did you really think that I would leave you to do as you pleased, 'Zuku'?" 

Midoriya let out a small, shuddering moan as the fingers digging into his skull only increased in force, sending tears from his eyes. Leave him to drown and get taken over by a slime creature, fine—but not this. Anything but this. 

Suddenly, the hand receded, though a pounding headache remained as he fell to the ground, shivering with his arms over his head. A boot crashed into the back of his neck, forcing his face into the ground as he cried out in pain. The pressure was increased, and he sobbed as his oxygen intake was reduced dramatically. 

"You will never be able to change what's coming," he hissed. "I hope you remember that." 

Midoriya wasn't sure how long he was there for, curled into a ball and trying to ward off the panic attack that he was bound to fall into. Juni was sitting by his side, but she couldn't do much to help him. 

He let his tears hit the floorboards. 

Why do you always do this? Why do you always haunt me, Hisashi? 

=====

He checked the briefcase he opened not too long ago, pulling it open with shaking hands. 

Everything was there. Even the suit.

=====

Yaoyorozu and Midoriya met up again. They took an easy day, and they walked through the parks slowly. Around noon they found a quiet place in the sun and laid down to look at the clouds. The two of them made several shapes out of the fluffy, white material before Yaoyorozu grew bored and they continued exploring. The two talked about a few flowers they found in patches, and Yaoyorozu explained a few of them and their history. Midoriya wasn't the type to be incredibly interested in the subjects for long periods of time, so they found themselves moving quickly. 

Yaoyorozu seemed to notice that he was on edge, though. 

"I'm fine," he reassured her for the millionth time. 

She sighed heavily, and Midoriya flinched as he remembered Hisashi sighing before he stood to greet him. She raised her hand, as if to place it on his shoulder, but he moved away frantically before she had the chance. Her lips pursed, and a flash of pain and sadness crossed her features as she moved her arm back to her side. 

"Zuku..."

"Please," he pleaded, his eyes watering as he looked away from her, "just leave it alone. I-I can't..." 

After a moment of silence, they moved on. Yaoyorozu ushered him back to their favorite cafe after—she looked incredibly guilty for all the times he flinched when a person spoke too loud or when a fellow customer bumped into him—and they ate in relative silence. Finally, Yaoyorozu suggested that they end their day early, explaining that she wanted to finish those books she checked out before she left so that she could return them. Midoriya nodded along with her, relieved to escape any sort of human contact.

"Just... remember you can talk to me, Izuku," she said quietly. "No matter what happens, I won't judge you." 

He nodded before scurrying away. 

And he hated it. Hated the hurt look on her face. Hated that he was so upset over something that wasn't her fault. Hated that the day before he was content with hugging her, and yet now he couldn't stand the thought of her even touching him. 

He hated Hisashi, so, so much. 

And he couldn't stomach any of those thoughts, nor could he stomach any food; he grew to hate mirrors as they revealed the bags under his eyes and the scars on his neck, and soon his undernourishment to boot. 

Juni tried to get him to eat. But he couldn't. 

He shivered in the middle of the night, pulling his covers tighter around him. 

And he cried. 

=====

Midoriya was at another gymnastics practice with Hiroji. The man seemed to notice his relapse, and he made sure not to touch him at all without warning him several times. Even then, Midoriya still squirmed under the exposure. 

Hiroji watched him as he walked across the balance beam once again. Months upon months of walking across the beam allowed him to do it with ease, and the continuous practice guaranteed that he'd soon be able to do actual tricks on it aside from simple walking. Midoriya knew his mind wasn't in the right place as it wandered from topic to topic, until finally settling on one thing. 

You have a lot of hobbies. 

"Can I ask you something?" 

Hiroji seemed surprised, but he nodded. "Sure, what's up?"

Midoriya thought about what he was about to say carefully before he let it out loud. "Is it... is it bad if someone were to take up a bunch of hobbies to, say, distract themselves? To kind of... detach them from a situation?"

Hiroji blinked, and suddenly his expression grew solemn. "That depends."

"On?"

"Whether those hobbies are allowing the person to not get help." There was a pause as the man got his words together, and he crossed his arms over his chest. "Hobbies are a great way to help someone who is suffering from trauma to... keep their mind from wandering. To give them something to do. But," his tone grew sharp, "using those hobbies to ignore their problem is detrimental to that person's help. They're refusing to acknowledge the cause of their pain, and nothing good can from that." 

"I see," Midoriya said monotonously. 

"Why ask me of all people?" Hiroji asked, hands moving to his hips. 

Midoriya shrugged. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have a... mental quirk, right?" His eyes zeroed onto the man's expression, which revealed nothing. "Something that deals with a person's psychological being." 

Hiroji hummed noncommittally. "And if I did? It doesn't make me a professional."

"You're the only person I have." 

Hiroji looked at him for a long time, face unreadable. And then, finally:

"My quirk allows me to see a person's mental state." His statement was unusually blunt. "You've been getting extremely worse these past few days. Is there a reason why?"

"No." There were two reasons, not one; the slime villain and Hisashi. 

Hiroji sighed. Midoriya flinched. 

"Okay," he said, though Midoriya knew that he didn't believe him.  

Midoriya looked down at his hands. He thought about the slime around him, going down his throat and into his ears and choking him to death. He thought about the metal underneath his skin, and the way his quirk exploded into hot bursts. 

"My quirk can only activate when I have skin contact with metal," he lied. "It allows me to summon an infinite amount of chains, which I can control as long as that contact remains."

Hiroji seemed surprised. "That's... not a quirk I expected from you." 

An image flashed in Midoriya's eyes. Wavy blonde hair, hazel eyes, knee-high leather boots with buckles and metal-infused gloves on her hands; that was what described Maiko. She had a smile that always lied and a heart that should have never pumped blood. 

"You're right," Midoriya said. "It shouldn't be mine." 

And it's not. 

Or, it wasn't

=====

There was once a woman with bright onyx eyes and dark black hair. 

"Look at him," she told the Husband. 

"He's beautiful," he responded. 

And they both smiled. 

=====

Midoriya was sitting by the piano at a music store not too far away from his apartment. Technically, he shouldn't be playing it like it was his own, but the store was selling it and they didn't mind if he used it, so he grabbed his piano sheets and brought them with him. 

He sat down on the small, wooden stool and took in a deep breath. 

All Might won another battle today. Of course he did. He always did. 

He rested his fingers on the keys a bit, pressing lightly on a couple as he adjusted himself to the sounds. He flinched as lightning struck, and the rain hit the glass harder. 

He started to press down on the keys, letting his hands glide over them as the notes came together, weakly strewn together to form a soft music. The lightning faded out into nothingness as the music grew louder, and he forgot the stinging of his neck and the soreness in his eyes from crying. 

It was nice. Really nice. 

A few lone customers watched him for a few minutes, though they never stayed too long; they all had places to be. He wasn't sure how much time passed until the tight knot in his chest eased, letting him breathe easier. Maybe it was just a few minutes, maybe an hour. He couldn't tell anyone if they asked. 

He thought about the blonde man with the powerful muscles and the height that put him at twice Midoriya's height, maybe even three. He thought about that endless smile full of white lies and fearless expressions that hid the anxiety roiling in his electric blue eyes. 

He thought about the small bit of blood that escaped his clenched teeth. 

You will never be able to change what's coming. 

And Hisashi was right. How was he supposed to save them if even All Might, the strongest person known to man, couldn't?

You can save them, the man from before said. 

Midoriya stopped pressing on the piano keys, letting the music come to an abrupt stop. How, though?

How was he supposed to save Eraserhead's Class 1-A?

=====

The woman born by the Man, All for One, looked to her Husband. A newborn child rested in her arms, his freckles shining in the overhead light. 

"His name should be Daizō." 

=====

Midoriya had a real name. 

It was Kimoto Daizō. 

And he hated it. 

Chapter Text

:Knows Too Much
?Do you have any allergies

Sparkle Emitter:
No, why?

:Knows Too Much
.No reason

Sparkle Emitter:
???

Sparkle Emitter:
Should I be scared?

:Knows Too Much
.Depends

Sparkle Emitter:
Oookkkaaayyyy

Sparkle Emitter:
I'm just going to hope that you don't try to poison me. 

:Knows Too Much
(:

Sparkle Emitter: 
fyeialfbyiewbqpfuehfueabbewpfbufepbgubgup9o hp2nf hhpn

=====

"Here." Midoriya shoved a box into her hands, and he twitched nervously. "I thought you'd like them, Yaochan, but you don't have to have them if you don't want." 

Yaoyorozu blinked as she took the box into her hands. She smiled as she noticed the small bunny keychain on his backpack from the corner of her eye, but her curiosity overshadowed her happiness. She had no idea what was in the box... 

It was sweets. And baked goods. Oh my god. 

"I love you," Yaoyorozu blurted out. "I am adopting you and we will be family forever and you can't escape me."

Midoriya stared at her. And then, much to her surprise, he nodded. "If it makes you happy, Yaochan." 

And Yaoyorozu smiled brightly. 

=====

"So the chocolate museum was a bust," Yaoyorozu lamented as they walked away from said building, "but it could have been worse, right? And at least we got free chocolate."

"Mhm," Midoriya said, moving not too far away from her. 

Yaoyorozu skipped along before suddenly, a thought occurred to her. "Hey, what lessons do you have today?"

"Japanese Sign Language," he responded. "Not sure you'd want to be there, though. It's a useful thing to learn, but it's kind of boring if you don't know what's going on." 

"True," Yaoyorozu admitted. "But you play the piano, right? Do you have one at your house?"

Midoriya shook his head. "It's too expensive. I'm saving up a little bit each month to buy one, but it'll probably take me a couple years until I can actually get the one I want."

Yaoyorozu hummed a cheerful tune. "And if I could get you one today?"

Midoriya paled. "What do you mean by that?" 

Yaoyorozu sent him a Cheshire grin as she winked at him. "My treat."

=====

"I am almost positive that this is illegal." 

"Quirks aren't allowed to be used on public property; private property is free game. And don't worry about it, I'm not messing up the economy or anything too much."

"Not messing with it too much?"

"Yeah. Now, if I was giving several people a free piano, that would be different." 

"Oh my god, Yaochan, are you sure we should even be doing this?"

"Yep! Now help me out—it's gonna take a while to assemble all these parts. And then we're going to have to tune it as well after we're done, and we want to get it finished in time for your sign lessons!"

=====

"It's very beautiful," Midoriya admitted. 

Yaoyorozu let a small smile light up her face. "I'm glad." She looked down to her feet, scuffing her toe on the floors. "I wanted to give you something nice, for helping me out this week..."

Midoriya turned to her, suddenly aware of the day. There was a sinking feeling in his gut, and he tried not to let his disappointment show as he suppressed a dark feeling of regret. She hadn't been here for long, so why? Why did it have to be so soon? "You're leaving soon?" he asked, his mouth dry, though he already knew the answer. 

Yaoyorozu flinched. He sounded like a kicked puppy, and she felt guilt bloom in her chest. "Tonight," she said. "That was... that was why I wanted to do this for you." 

Midoriya frowned. "I wish you didn't have to go," he said. He meant it, deep down in his heart. It didn't matter that he was uncomfortable with people, it didn't matter that he hated physical contact. He wanted her here, where he knew she would be safe and where they could talk face-to-face. 

Yaoyorozu nodded, and she wiped her nose on the back of her sleeve. "Yeah," she laughed sadly, "me neither. But we'll meet again sometime, right?" 

"Yeah... yeah, of course we will," Midoriya said, trying not to let the toxic feeling in his chest grip him too tightly. 

Yaoyorozu sent him another smile that shook as she struggled to keep her tears at bay. "Yeah. I'm going to go to U.A. and become a hero." Another small chuckle escaped her. "And then you can see me on TV and stuff, and you can reach out to me and we'll meet again. And then you can help me out and give me a bunch of pointers and crap, because you're amazing at it, you know?" She sniffled again, and her voice was thick with tears. "And then I can show you off to all my friends, and we can trade stories about all the stuff we've done and act like little kids again."

"Of course," Midoriya said softly. "And I'll get you a box of sweets when we do."

Yaoyorozu exhaled shakily in what he assumed was meant to be a laugh before she held her arms wide open. "Hug?" she asked, and there was something desperate in her eyes. 

Midoriya thought about Hisashi's hand in his hair, gripping him tightly. And though bile rose into his throat, he fell into her arms. 

"Hug," he echoed. 

And they stayed like that for a long, long time. 

=====

He played her a song on the piano. He slipped up twice, but she didn't even notice. 

He wished she did. Maybe she'd stay a little longer to hear him play it until he got it right. 

=====

"Come on now, Daizō," All for One said to him. 

Midoriya trembled as he gently tussled his hair. He was sitting on his hands and knees, tears and blood covering his face. He felt his body pang with a deep ache, the wounds in his shoulders and back stinging relentlessly. Chains were wrapped around his ankles and wrists, digging into the skin and leaving him with what he knew were blisters. 

"Daizō, Daizō, Daizō," All for One tutted. "Did you really think that you could defy me?" The man was whispering to him, and Midoriya whimpered as he patted his head. "Here I thought that you would be better than my daughter. What a surprise that my grandson is just as bad as her." 

The man sighed heavily as he stood, his joints creaking as he moved, leaving Midoriya to shiver and tremble on the cold stone floor. "I rule the world, Daizō. It may have taken me several hundred years, but I did it." 

Midoriya glanced up to look at him from underneath his long bangs. All for One looked back to him in turn, his face clean of any injury that he used to have from his fight with the man with lies in his smile all those centuries ago. 

"That pathetic group that calls themselves a revolution will be squashed under my boot. And if it means using you to do it, well..." His statement unfinished, he turned back to the doorway. His footsteps where heavy and echoed around the barren room, which was covered in a thin layer of blood and gore with just the smell to match it. Just as he was about to exit through the small arch, however, he paused. "You know, Tomura collects hands. Guess you could say it's part of his costume." A small smile lit up his face. "Why don't we add yours to the collection?"

Midoriya felt his stomach drop to his feet as a cold pit of dread overcame him. The man continued, oblivious to Midoriya's swelling fear. 

"It would go so well with the rest of them, and I'm sure my apprentice would be very, very happy..." 

The small tilt of his lips would have seemed ostentatious in any other situation; his stone cold expressions characterized his public image, but it was clear that he was enjoying himself now in the rare moments where he found happiness after the supposed love of his life died. 

"Of course, we have a healer on standby that could regenerate your hand, but you'd still go through quite a bit of torment. Maybe it'd teach you a lesson about opposing me." 

He turned to the guard. "Take his left," he said in an amused tone as Midoriya started to struggle against his chains, his throat clenched painfully tight. 

"No," Midoriya hoarsely whispered. "No, no, please no—"

"I'm sorry, Daizō. Maybe next time you'll think twice about trying to kill me." His smile grew bigger now as he went to close the door behind him. "And anyway, call this... a repayment. A hand for a hand, right?"

He left through the doorway, the metal locks slamming into place and echoing through the room. He whimpered and struggled desperately as the guard walked forward, and he fell onto his back as he pushed himself into a corner. 

The guard was unsympathetic as he drew a dagger. 

"No," Midoriya begged as the man grabbed his arm forcefully. He kicked fruitlessly. "No, no, no, please don't do this," he sobbed. "Please don't do this, please!" He felt his chest seize as he struggled to croak out the words. 

The pain hit him instantly. Blood spattered. 

He screamed. 

And then he woke up. 

=====

Making a cup of tea at two in the morning wasn't an unusual thing for Midoriya. It happened more often than he'd like to admit, and while he knew the best thing would be for him to attempt to sleep more, he was afraid of the monsters that lurked under his bed. 

As he waited for the water to finish boiling, his hands trembled furiously. He rubbed his left palm with cold fingers and cupped it near his chest, trying to regain the feeling in it. It was entirely numb now, and that scared him to no end. 

Regenerating hands wasn't an easy thing to do, and there were times where Midoriya was slapped in the face with reality that reproducing a body part did not mean it was going to be perfect. More often than not he lost the feeling in them, and on occasions it would cramp up and hinder him from using it at all. It forced him to learn how to use both his hands for whatever he did, and though it was yet another useful skill to have, he wished he never had to learn it in the first place. 

He flinched as the whistling of the teapot shattered the silence, and he quickly moved over to it so he could shut it up. The sound frayed his nerves, pulling at the strands and slowly unraveling it with each passing second. 

He swallowed the bile that was rising in his throat as a stray thought came to mind about the new hand that rested on Shigaraki's shoulder. 

His hand. 

He shuddered and poured the hot water into a cup, watching absentmindedly as the steam rose from the coloring liquid. He let the teabag seep for a few minutes, mind wandering to any corner or crook that relieved him from thoughts about anything macabre. He assumed Juni was still in his bedroom as he turned on the radio, setting it to a certain station that he often listened to to calm down his anxiety. The white noise washed over him harmlessly, and he took in several deep breaths as his shaking hands raised the cup to his lips. The liquid burned his tongue, and it was bitter without any sugar, but he couldn't care less. 

Time. That was what he needed. Time. Time to unwind. Time to relax. Time to plan. 

He needed time. 

=++++=++++=

When he glanced up at the clock several hours later, it said that it was one in the morning. 

He rubbed at his forehead, trying to ease the headache and the pain that came with it. 

His (not his) quirk was getting out of control. 

Again. 

=++++=++++=

There was was a Man who ruled the world. His wife died, and his daughter ran away. 

He did not care for either, however. His heart turned to stone and his daughter was finally dead. 

Rumors said that she had a son, though. And the Man was scared. 

"Had that filthy wave of resistance finally taken my only hope?" asked he. He watched under a calculating eye as the sea of people rose and fell, but a small wave in the background, moving against the tide, caught his eye. 

"A revolution," said he. "How dare they try to revolt against my rule?"

"They took your grandson," his protege said. "They've taken him and are going to try to use him to defeat you." 

The Man paced. "I must destroy them," said he to no specific person. "I must destroy him. I must make him my own." 

And the protege smiled. "Let me have his hand, Sensei. Let me have his hand." 

And the Man laughed. 

=====

Hiroji grabbed his arm without much warning that day. Midoriya panicked. 

(Later, the man would gently explain that he went into a full-blown panic attack. Midoriya hated to think about that.)

The entire situation was blurry. He faintly remembered the man ushering him to his apartment after getting a few instructions from him. 

"Where are your parents?" he asked frantically. 

"Not here," Midoriya replied. They don't exist. Not yet. 

The man ran a hand down his face as he sat him down in the living room. Some minutes later, he handed him a cup of tea. Midoriya let the warmth seep through his gloves and into his hands, distracting him from the barrage of thoughts and feelings clouding his mind. "Drink," he ordered, and Midoriya followed it. 

Silence fell. 

"Midoriya," Hiroji said, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do. You need help. You need a psychiatrist. You need someone. Please, Midoriya, you need therapy. Your mental state is something I have never seen before." 

Midoriya froze and shook his head frantically. He hadn't realized he was crying, but Hiroji was shocked beyond anything he had seen before as he tried to reassure him. "No," Midoriya said. "No, I can't. I can't. I can't get help." He buried his face in his hands. "I can't do it. I can't. Please, you can't make me go there. Please. They won't know what to do with me." 

Hiroji sighed. He stood up for a second, calling out to him that he'd be right back before he left the apartment. Midoriya tried to calm himself as the seconds ticked by, and he felt his stomach curl into tight knots that made his throat clench and his face grow hot. His hands shook, and he struggled not to spill the tea that Hiroji was so careful for making for him. 

The man was quick to return. In his hands was a small journal and a ball. Immediately, he handed both to Midoriya, who had to set down his tea to do so. Hiroji explained immediately. 

"The ball is meant to relieve stress. If you're ever in a tough situation, or when with other people, you can use that to help. The journal..." He fell silent before sighing while rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Part of a way to help with traumatic experiences is to write down how you feel. Like a diary, almost. It's really effective among heroes who had to suffer from... life-threatening injuries or psychological torture. If you're not going to get therapy, this is the best I can do for you." 

Midoriya stared at the brand-new journal, letting the tips of his fingers trail over the cover. 

"Izuku." Midoriya's head snapped toward Hiroji. "... If you get any worse, I'm going to find a therapist for you." His gaze was unusually solemn. "I thought... I thought you were finally getting better, you know? And you were, but this past week..." He sighed and ran a hand through his locks. Midoriya felt shame crawl up his chest as he remembered that Hiroji had to suffer as well. 

"Chikara-senpai—" he started, only to stop when the man held a hand out. 

"Don't worry about it, okay? I just want you to get better. Take this week off. Just... play the piano. Don't stress yourself. Have some alone time. Take a few sick days from school. Hang out with Juni. I don't care as long as you can keep yourself together, alright?"

Midoriya swallowed heavily as the man sighed for the umpteenth time. He walked away from Midoriya, and he wasn't quite sure what he was doing until he came back with a pad of paper and a pen in hand. He wrote something down and placed it in front of him before he eased himself into the couch. 

"My phone number," he explained. He rubbed his eyes tiredly before looking around. The two fell into another silence, and Hiroji took that as his sign to leave. 

"Oh, and Izuku?" Midoriya looked up to Hiroji. The man had his hands in his pockets as he frowned. "I won't hesitate to call in child services and get you away from this place if your situation deteriorates. You don't deserve this shit." 

And he left. 

=====

Midoriya did as the man asked. He took a week off and gave himself a bit of time to just relax. 

He started writing in his journal. He wasn't sure how to go about it, but then he realized that writing his problems down would leave evidence behind. And so, instead of writing it in Kanji, he wrote it in his native language. 

Which didn't exist. (Yet. And hopefully, never.)

=====

Translation: 

She nicknamed me echo, you know. Maiko, that is. She's the woman with the blonde hair and brown eyes (her quirk is called Chain Conjuring). She was the one who convinced her unit to take me in when they found me in my mother's house. 

Ah. Another thing. Maiko was a leader of one of the units of the organization that was rebelling against my grandfather's rule. The organization had a council made up of around sixteen representatives that ruled the place. Maiko was looked down upon because she was in charge of the units that went outside their hidden base to pillage and secure important information for the organization. It was a little unfair for her, since she was good at her job and she was one of the most important people there, but her job was hated amongst the people. She was the one who lead men and women out to what was viewed as a death arena. All those that died were blamed on her. 

As a result, when Maiko brought me to their base, I wasn't... well received with the other people and the council. They hated my guts, especially since I was their greatest enemy's grandson. 

Maiko helped raise me, though, you know? She was really the only one who cared. She was like a... second mother, almost. She helped me learn Japanese, too. 

Granted, it wasn't perfected, and the language had long since faded out of use since the entire world was converted to a single, secular language, but it was better than nothing. Even though now I know that several things I was taught are wrong, I got most of the basics, which was helpful. 

That was where she nicknamed me echo, actually. When she was teaching me she would use all these hilarious voices, and I would try to copy her exactly. She said something about me being an echo of her, and it just kind of stuck, I guess. 

My little echo, she used to say to me. Or mi eco pequeño. It depended on what kind of mood she was in. 

Spanish was... strangely prevalent, even after All for One took over. I don't know how it survived so long, but even then it was petering out. 

Anyway, I guess... Maiko is one of the problems I have to tackle first, right? I mean, All for One and Shigaraki messed me up quite a bit, but... I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about them yet. 

Or maybe I should start with my real mother? And start from the very, very beginning. When I first manifested my quirk, yeah?

Yeah. 

I call it Recipience. That... just about sums it all up. 

My mom suffered a lot from my grandfather, you know? She had a terrible case of PTSD, (not that any case of it isn't terrible) and seeing my quirk... well, it's not the exact same as her father's, but it was close enough. I guess she just... didn't want me to end up like him. Her solution was just to get rid of me from the equation, which is pretty messed up, but I guess I see where she came from. 

I just wonder sometimes if we could've been a family, you know? It probably would have been a bit on the dysfunctional side of things because of all the trauma my mother had, but we might've been happy(?)

I don't know. She had a few things wrong with her, and when she saw my quirk, she just snapped, I guess. That bottle of kerosene just happened to be there at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

You know she tried to burn the house down shortly after, right? Yeah. She was... really messed up in the head, now that I think about it. I think she and Dad fled a little after? I don't remember. I can barely remember their faces. 

I do remember Maiko's, though, when she first found me. When she rescued me from that fire.

At the time, she was my hero. Now, I just wish she left me to die. Maybe then I wouldn't have to deal with her smiling as she condemned me to hell. 

God, that woman was so manipulative.  

=====

There once was a woman with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She smiled in the face of death and frowned in the hatred of man. She entered the building alight, her fellow allies close behind her. They had approximately two minutes before the fire department arrived and wiped out the scene from existence. 

"All for One's daughter and son-in-law are gone," one of them said to her. 

The woman, Maiko, tutted when she heard a cry of pain. "Oh my!" cried she when she found a small child. He was crying. "We must save him!"

Her allies protested. "We cannot. Look at what our technology claims his quirk to be—he will be our greatest enemy."

"Nonsense!" said Maiko. She picked up the child into her arms. "This little Daizō will never harm us. And I shall raise him as if he were my own!"

And so Maiko did. She masqueraded as an adoptive mother to the solemn child while, beneath her smile, a snake's tail rattled dangerously. 

Neither Daizō nor the council of their organization knew any better.

It would lead to the deaths of thousands.

=====

Translation:

I don't... Maiko is... 

I don't know. 

I loved her, you know. She would tuck me into bed every night. She would read me bedtime stories, and every time I had a nightmare, she would come and sing me to sleep. 

You know she was the most talented person I ever met? It felt like she could do anything, really. She even taught me how to fight. That's where most of my previous fighting skills came from. I got a little rusty over the years when I was with Hisashi, but it didn't take too long to get back into the groove. 

Maiko was very... protective over me? To put it into context, I'd have to explain the whole revolution thing. You could say that it was less of that and more of a whole society with how populated it was; it was like a hidden world that resided under the radar of the empire of him. Most people were born and raised under the council; very few, if none, had been a part of it since the very beginning of its formation. And really, most of those people had age-defying quirks. 

For a time, this "society" was doing really well. The revolution seemed to be making good progress, but then there came a point where things started going downhill. Rations were constantly applied, and they were getting smaller and smaller with each passing year. Medication for the sick was out of stock, so a lot of kids and adults died of illnesses and other diseases. 

Since Maiko was part of the council, and she treasured me, I didn't really... suffer as much as others did. I guess you could say that I was unaffected, if only a little undernourished. And a lot of people took offense to that, so...

Yeah. Let's just say that there were a few people who tried to kill me. 

The council, from what I heard when I was eavesdropping, thought that it was reasonable. That I should have died. I didn't... well, Maiko was pissed, for one thing. And because of it, the rift between her and the other council members kinda grew. At the time, I thought she was angry because she cared about me, but...

Well, that wasn't exactly her reasoning. 

You know, she was really smart. She figured out everything that she needed to do, know, and say down to the smallest details, and it worked out in her favor, in the end. 

Or not. Depends on the way you look at it. 

It's a little unnerving to think that everything she told me, everything she made me think and believe was just part of a plan. A plan that ended up getting her killed in the end, mind you, but she wasn't alone. She brought down hundreds of thousands of lives with her. 

Maybe that was part of what she was going for? I'm not sure, even now. I despise her, though. A lot. 

And I love her, too. I can never decide which one I'm leaning toward. Maybe I'm suffering from a case of Stockholm Syndrome. Not that it really matters anymore, now does it?

I was... just part of her master plan though. Just a pawn in a game of chess. Just something to be used. 

You know, she wanted me to

=====

He realized, with a start, that every class/hobby he took up forced him to interact with another human being when it came to the learning process. 

And while that was part of the reason he did it in the first place—human interaction was inevitable, and learning how to cope with it was something that he'd rather learn sooner than later—he also needed something to do that could keep his mind off things without the contact. Writing bios about heroes was a good hobby to have, but he was sure he was going to rip his eyes out of his skull if he had to add one more criticism of Endeavor. 

(Seriously, for the second ranked hero in Japan, he could go dunk in waste. Or a trashcan. Or both.)

So, he started another language. (He was sure that he was going to drop it within a week, but screw it. Might as well add one more thing to stress over.)

He had been debating between French and German, and he decided on the latter. Which lasted about a day before he realized that hey, remember that giant woman that worked for Hisashi way back when? Yeah, she spoke German too. 

... So he may or may have not taken up French. 

"I have no idea what the heck you're saying," Hiroji deadpanned. 

Midoriya smiled at him. "Not sure you want to." 

=====

Knows Too Much:
Yaochan help

Knows Too Much:
I started muttering in a different language in class today, right? while i was asleep, cause I didn't get much last night

Sparkle Emitter:
t he fuck


Knows Too Much
Yeah, I know

Knows Too Much: 
So anyway, I wake up and everyone including the teacher is just staring at me, right

Knows Too Much:
And one of my classmates just says "The hell were you saying"

:Sparkle Emitter
reasonable reaction

Knows Too Much:
And so I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind

:Sparkle Emitter
Oh god 

Knows Too Much:
Which was "Damnation awaits those that make the same mistakes"

:Sparkle Emitter
WHAT THE HECK DUDE

Knows Too Much: 
I KNOW????

Knows Too Much:
Anyway, now everyone is terrified of me and think I'm some sort of demon spawn from hell

Knows Too Much:
I have no idea what to do

Knows Too Much:
Help me, Jesus

:Sparkle Emitter
I dunno what to tell you man

:Sparkle Emitter

"The only thing that comes to mind is "The power of christ compels you

Knows Too Much:
...

Knows Too Much: 
I feel as if that reaction is much deserved

:Sparkle Emitter
D:

=====

Translation:

Sometimes I miss Maiko. I can still hear her laugh, and her joyful eyes are always so hopeful. I can hear her soft voice as she sings a melody that is foreign but welcome all the same. She would hug me, and she's always so warm and soft and such a great person to hug. 

I miss her. Why did she have to do this to me?

=====

He got better. Hiroji was happy with the advancement, and he pulled him into a hug one day. 

"I care about you so, so much," he whispered, and Midoriya believed it with all of his heart. 

They practiced in silence. But that was okay, because it was comfortable. They didn't need conversation to pass the time. 

Finally, Hiroji spoke up. 

"There's a new kid transferring in." His eyes were trained on the ceiling. "I know that you won't get along with them, so I'm going to get you ready for the uneven bars and the balance beam so you can practice on your own. I'll have someone keep an eye on you to make sure you don't get hurt, but we're going to aim for simple things for now, like being able to run across the beam and then twist on the bars. Sound good?"

Midoriya nodded. "Yes sir."

Hiroji smiled lightly at him. "Then we better get started then, right? You've mentioned several times about wanting to increase your balance anyway—I'm sure the beam will help tremendously."

Midoriya nodded and fidgeted with the cloth around his neck, pulling it off the side of his sweaty skin to let air in. He let the elastic snap back into place, the nerves too damaged to feel the pain, and followed the man to the beam. 

He tripped three times when he tried to walk briskly to the other side. Hiroji just encouraged him as the weeks passed, and then he was able to do said action with ease, and then he was running—

=====

Midoriya was almost thirteen when he performed his first choreographed dance in his Gymnastics class. He had practiced for hours upon hours, though his stomach felt like a group of fluttering butterflies burning his confidence away as he watched the other participants do their own. He was terrified, really, even though Hiroji was encouraging him thoroughly. 

He was sure that he was going to slip and fall like one of the other guys did. His hands and knees were shaking terribly, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to support his weight. 

He had to take a few breathing exercises before he started. He managed to calm himself long enough to make it out onto the floor, where everyone before him had performed already. He waited for the music to start up, and then he moved. 

He didn't slip up. Which was gratifying, really. He could tell that it surprised a few teenagers who were expecting him to blend into the background because it was his first performance, though he merely smiled shakily at them in response. Really, the only reason he was doing so well was because of Hiroji's teaching—he was the best of the best. 

(Off to the side, the gymnastics instructors all were talking. A little bit of gossip here, a little bit of actual conversation there. "Hiroji," said one, "you're so lucky. Your student is doing so well."

Hiroji would smile. "It's 'cause my student is the best of the best.") 

Midoriya felt his face flush when he was called up to the stands. He thought that he was finally done being at the center of attention, but when he was rewarded second place and a fake, plastic medal, everyone was looking at him again. A girl a couple of years older than him was standing in first place, her smile blinding. She was the most experienced when it came to dance routines, and her music choice was excellent. Midoriya was surprised he could even be compared to her when she was so talented. 

"Midoriya Izuku, right?" the girl said to him just as he was leaving. 

Midoriya nodded. "Yes ma'am."

The girl shot him a pair of thumbs up. "You did good today. When you're finally comfortable around us, why not join with our instructor?" Seeing Midoriya's curious glance, she elaborated. "We have the old man." She jabbed a finger over her shoulder. "He's a bit of a jerk at first glance, but he loves all of us. Really."

Midoriya hummed to himself. It was true that he was fine in a class when he was in his martial arts lessons, but that was different. There, he could essentially pretend that he was in a real fight, that it was a necessity to be in a group, which fended off most of his problems. Gymnastics? Eh, not so much. 

"I'll definitely think about it," he promised. "I'll have to get to you later, though."

The girl nodded. "Sure thing." Her smile turned soft as she stretched her hand out to him. "My name's Hiroji Aika. I'm your teacher's daughter." 

Midoriya blinked in surprise. Because that was the last thing he was expecting, really. "Nice to meet you, Hiroji-chan." 

The girl shot a smirk to him. "Dad's basically adopted you already, so you can just call me Aika. I don't mind." 

And Midoriya nodded again, dumbfounded and brain dead as the girl skipped away. 

=====

—and then he was jumping—

=====

After a lot of hesitation, he decided that he'd participate in Aika's class every other lesson. The girl was sweet, though she had a bit of a fiery temper on her to match. She never hesitated to use her sharp tongue to tear anyone to shreds if they so much as looked badly in her father's or his direction. 

So yeah. If he had to have a sister, she would definitely be one. 

=====

—and then he was hopping on one foot—

=====

Knows Too Much: 
Mom, help

Knows Too Much:
What are vines

:Sparkle Emitter
ohohohooo

:Sparkle Emitter
let me show you the world, child

=====

—and then he was cartwheeling—

=====

"Turtlenecks aren't too girly, right?" he asked Juni one afternoon. They were in the mall, and Midoriya was peering at a rack full of warm, fluffy turtlenecks for the colder months and light, thin ones for the hotter parts of the year. 

Juni didn't make any specific reaction that he could tell of—the whole expression-reading thing was still a work in progress—but it wasn't a negative, so he pulled several of the softer-looking pieces of clothing from the rack and into his arms. Oh yeah, they were really, really soft. And they covered his neck too. What more could he want?

Turned out, Juni liked them too. Which was just a bonus, in his opinion. 

=====

—and then he was walking across it with his eyes closed. 

=====

Hiroji stood off to the side, grinning. He held out his hand for a high five, and Midoriya grinned back as he reciprocated the gesture. 

"Just think about it—three years ago you tried to walk across it somewhat fast and tripped three times," he said. 

Midoriya laughed. (It was something he grew more comfortable doing around Hiroji.) "I'm just going to ignore the fact that you remembered what twelve-year-old me did better than what I could've recalled."

Hiroji tussled his hair gently. "Yeah, well, you're constantly doing so much crap that I'm not surprised that you can't remember your own childhood. Seriously, do you even remember that time you did our practices with that darn scarf on? Or the time you baked us cookies on your birthday?"

Midoriya scoffed and pointed at him with fake annoyance. "Excuse me, I'll have you know that I bake you stuff at least once a month nowadays. I swear, you're a spoiled brat."

Hiroji pretended to take offense to the statement, but he quickly shrugged it off as they walked shoulder-to-shoulder toward the entryway. Midoriya was still relatively short, but it felt weird to think that several years ago he was barely up to his chest. "Anyway, you have a nice day, Izuku. You've made a lot of progress these past few years."

Midoriya smiled and waved as he left the warehouse, backpack in hand and scarf thrown precariously across his shoulders. Juni could faintly be seen on the fringes of the silk material that was started to fray at the ends from so many years of use. 

Hiroji sighed longingly as one of his fellow instructors approached him. "They grow up so fast," he muttered. 

The man laughed. "Just adopt the kid already, would you? It's painful watching you two play father and son. And he's already, what, fifteen? You only have three years left."

Hiroji sighed again, though this time a little sadder. "Yeah, I know."

(Deep down, he wished that he could just take in Midoriya legally. He still never got to meet his parents, and he had a feeling that they weren't the most pleasant company around. Well, if they were ever going to be around, that was.)

=====

"Mido, would you let me kick your behind for one moment so I can actually impress the new girl?" 

Midoriya rolled his eyes as he pulled a bruised Eishun Akihito to his feet. "If you deserved to win, I might let it slide."

Eishun held a hand over his chest in mock upset. "Are you saying that I'm not worthy, your Highness?"

"Yes," Midoriya replied bluntly. Being called girl-like for his hair so many times had immunized him against any offense that would come with those comments originally. This wasn't to say that it didn't annoy him, because sometimes it did, but he found that it was easier to roll with the joke. "So bow down to your queen or actually get your head straight long enough so I don't have to fight a lovesick puppy. It's pitiful."

Eishun groaned and rolled his eyes but got back into position. "Can I just, like, forcefully apply you to Yuuei several years early? So I don't have to deal with you surpassing me in every way, shape, and form?"

Midoriya blinked. "You're at least ten times better than me at socializing."

Eishun rolled his shoulders. "Well yeah, you have a pet slug for goodness sakes. Clearly that information is obvious." 

Someone winced in the sidelines, and another person backed further away from the sidelines. "Dude, you did not just insult Juni..."

Eishun paled as he waved his hands in front of his face, trying to ignore the dark smile frozen on Midoriya's face. "Mido, I was not slandering Juni I swear please believe me—" His voice was getting increasingly higher pitched as he continued talking. 

Midoriya just continued smiling innocently. "Of course not." 

The girl ended up asking Eishun out anyway, even though he was dragged through the dirt after Midoriya wiped the floor with him. Eishun sent Midoriya two thumbs up, as if it was all some part of some master plan. Knowing Eishun, it probably was. 

"Did you mean it?" Midoriya asked Eishun later. It was a little odd for Midoriya, sometimes, to talk to the man. He was almost getting ready to move out and start his own life as an adult, and Midoriya kind of missed the blubbering fourteen-year-old that continuously called him Black Widow. 

"Mean what?" Eishun asked curiously. He was grinning, still on a high from the promise of a date his new girlfriend gave him. 

"The Yuuei thing," he said quietly as he raised his arms over his head, stretching his back pleasantly. He could see the surprise on Eishun's face at the question. 

"Kid, you are the most talented guy I've met at your age. If you wanna go to Yuuei, than I say go for it. Shoot for the stars." After a moment of contemplation, he added, "Don't worry about needing validation, boyo. You're going to do great things when you grow up."

Midoriya's chest felt warm. He smiled.

=====

On the way to school the next day, Midoriya watched with a blank expression as Mt. Lady slammed a villain into the ground. He swore he could hear his groan from where he was standing. 

"Don't worry about needing validation, boyo."

Yeah, right... that's a bit hard with a quirk like mine.

=====

Midoriya knew he was getting better. He just didn't know how much better he was. 

Hanging out with the same people until he was comfortable with them was fine. It was helpful, really. But sometimes he forgot just how long it took to get that relationship to where it was. Most of them took years. Scratch that, all of them took years. 

It always hurt a little, when he got caught off guard and had to take a moment to calm himself. 

For example, there was this boy with sharp teeth and dark, black hair that was tied into a ponytail. He was riding his bike, and he didn't seem to live in the specific part of the city they were in. He was exploring, apparently, and he bumped into Midoriya and asked him for directions to a certain area. Midoriya stuttered through the whole explanation, and though the boy was nice, patient, and smiled encouragingly at him whenever he trailed off into silence, Midoriya still felt like throwing up. 

"Well, it was nice meeting you!" the boy said, and Midoriya drank in the happiness in his red eyes as he pedaled away. 

Midoriya wrapped his arms tightly around himself, digging his fingers into the meat of his forearms. He wished he has his stress ball on him so he could squeeze it instead. He took in a few deep breaths, letting years of experience with human interaction slowly wash over him. Yeah, he was fine—maybe not okay, but he was fine. 

Huh. He looked a lot like Kirishima Eijiro. 

But didn't he have red hair?

=====

Translation:

Disaya. That's the guy that... kind of was a pedophile? The one that Hisashi beat half to death?

I saw him on TV today. He committed suicide, but in the most bizarre way possible that it drew everyone's attention to him. 

I think he did that on purpose. As if he was calling out to me, "Look at what you've done."

It... sucks. Because it wasn't his fault, for what happened to him. I mean, sure, he was a bit of a creep, but really? Hisashi... Hisashi took it too far. 

I guess he was just... really into the "parental figure" idea, and protectiveness was seen as a necessity. Though, I'm not quite sure I'd describe what he was as protective. 

I wish I could give it back to him, you know. What Hisashi made him give. 

And... it really messed me up too, you know? I remember just... someone did that to me before, once upon a time. He didn't want what he had, didn't want the responsibility, so he forced it on me before jumping off a roof. 

And since he's gone, I can never give it back. I can never return it to its original owner. 

Damn it. Why did it have to be me?

=====

Once upon a time, Daizō asked Maiko why he was training. 

Maiko smiled. 

"Because we're going to 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End. 

=====

When Yaoyorou texted him, confessing how terrified she was of the U.A. entrance exams, Midoriya went into a panic. Because wow, the U.A. exams were coming soon, weren't they? And time flashed by way too quickly for his liking. 

One of his terrible habits he had (or maybe not so terrible in certain situations) was noticing anything else that wasn't relevant to what was bothering him. Maybe it was just a tactic his brain used to cope with everything that happened to him. Or maybe it was just something that everyone did? Maybe he'd ask Yaoyorozu. 

Maybe that was why he noticed that Hiroji didn't have a ring on his finger. Of course, it could have just been chance—or maybe his instructor just never wore it during practice to keep it protected. He wasn't quite sure, but what he did know was this:

If he had a ring, he never wore it. Ever. Not once had he accidentally left in on his finger. Not once did he leave it in his cubby shelf. And Hiroji never, ever mentioned having a wife (or husband, if he swung that way). Which was odd, because Midoriya knew that, if he was happily married to someone, he would probably talk about them. A lot. 

Midoriya glanced to Aika, Hiroji's daughter. She had a few of his features, though she mostly looked like—what he assumed anyway—would be her other parent. He looked at the small, star-like scars on her shoulders and neck, which were visible from her gymnastics outfit. It made him a little sick to think about, so he tried to push it to the back of his mind. 

He failed and ended up with two more things to worry and stew over. Hiroji's curious looks weren't helping any, either. 

=====

Translation:

You know, Shigaraki wouldn't have been such a pain in the behind if All for One didn't give him that stupid anti-aging quirk. To be frank, if I didn't have any self-restraint, I would probably go find his base right now and stab him in the throat. 

(Fun fact: I did that once. The only reason I even find it funny nowadays is because he also had a damn regeneration ability, and he healed almost immediately. [Future technology allowed him to receive all these quirks with a fraction of the pain and backlash.] So no, he didn't die. But hey, apparently the move was so radical and insane that it humored the guy. He didn't even punish me. 

Honestly, I'm not sure what that says about me.)

=====

"You want to get into U.A.?" Hiroji asked, surprised. "I mean, I think that's a great idea. It certainly explains why you're so nervous, though. Aren't the entrance exams next week—"

Midoriya promptly shushed him. "We do not speak of such horrors."

"Yeah, Dad," Aika chimed in, "don't freak out the smol bean. You'll scare him away."

"I still have no idea what that means," Midoriya deadpanned. 

"It's a slang term," Hiroji explained. "I'm not fully sure myself, but I don't think it's anything bad." 

Midoriya sighed and rubbed a hand down his face. "Okay. I'm going to trust you."

"I wouldn't do that," Aika said, "the last time I trusted him with anything, he managed to do the exact opposite of what he was supposed to do and shattered everything."

Hiroki paled. "I still have nightmares from all the yelling you did that day."

Aika rolled her eyes. "Stop being such a drama queen, dad. We get it, you're the supreme ruler of the monarchy, whatever. Leave my dictatorship alone." 

Midoriya snorted loudly and slapped a hand over his mouth as he tried to suppress his giggles. It wasn't necessarily hilarious by any means, except it totally was for a history junkie like him, but Aika—once again—caught him completely off guard. Hiroji seemed a little surprised at his fit of giggles, but he smiled openly. 

"Well, that's besides the point," he said. "I think you'll do fine, Izuku. And I know you've been working extra hard these past few months. Yes, I noticed, don't think you can get away with that kind of stuff."

Aika smirked and leaned down so they were shoulder to shoulder, holding her hand over her mouth as she whispered to him. "He says that, but he's really the most oblivious guy in the world."

"Hey!" 

Aika laughed and skipped away, doing a few handless cartwheels as to show off. "I call that we get celebratory smoothies!" She cackled as she sprinted toward the entrance. 

"Is she always like this?"

Hiroji sighed and facepalmed. "I love her, but unfortunately, yes."

Midoriya snorted again as he followed her out the door. "Well, it looks like Aika and I are going to go skip practice. Hope you don't mind."

Hiroji seemed to melt in horror. "Aika has rubbed off on you way too much," he whined. He shook his head before chasing after them. "Let me at least join you two, I don't want you getting hurt."

Aika turned around, fake surprise plastered on her face. "But Daddy, you can't skip work. You'll get in trouble."

"But—"

"And can't I have some free time with my brother?" At this, Aika wrapped her arms around Midoriya's limp form, his expression blank of any emotion. 

"Well—"

"Midoriya's been taking martial arts lessons since he was super little, Dad, and he can protect me if it comes down to it!"

Hiroji looked a mix between utterly depressed and mortified. From his open mouth poured stuttered words and his spiritual self. 

As Aika turned around and dragged Midoriya away by his collar, he waved to him. "Don't worry, Dad, we'll buy a smoothie for you, too." He tried his best to suppress a grin as Hiroji fell to his side, twitching uncontrollably as he stuttered out excuses. He laughed quietly as Aika pulled him far, far away. 

(He felt a little twitchy himself; while Aika's hold was fine, it still made his skin crawl nauseatingly.) 

One of Hiroji's colleagues laughed at his broken, pitiful form. "Dude, you are so smitten."

Hiroji didn't humor them, instead muttering something that sounded quite a bit like, "Those brats better be thankful that I love them so much." 

But yes, they got him a smoothie. Strawberry-flavored with just a little bit of whipped cream and two cherries, his favorite. And if Midoriya and Aika got the exact same order as a "sign of family," as the latter proclaimed, well...

That was a secret for them to share. 

=====

Recommendation students had a different exam than those that entered U.A. publicly. Due to the nature of the two events, recommendation students took their exams just a few days before others did. Yaoyorozu, who happened to get a recommendation from a family friend who witnessed her potential by accident, was an absolute mess. 

And she hated that she was a mess. Because she had been preparing this for years now, getting ready for the moment that she would enter U.A. high school as a student. She had the talent and the quirk to do it, and she was prepared to get in with some of the highest scores. 

Of course, she didn't think that she'd be getting in on recommendations instead, and suddenly the stakes were much higher. Talent didn't matter anymore, nor did quirks. What mattered on top of that was skill. Tactics. Analyzing. 

And that meant that Yaoyorozu had no idea just how talented everyone was going to be compared to her. At least with the original exams she had a chance. She knew that the biggest challenge was fighting different kinds of robots and getting points, almost like a game—and that was something she could prepare for. 

This? Not so much. 

She sighed and rubbed at her face, trying to withhold her panic and tears. She took in a few deep breaths, letting a weak, false streak of confidence overshadow her utter panic before it shattered into small fragments. The temptation to just not show up at the exam was heightened now more than ever before, but she knew that she was going to have to go through it. At the very least, she had to try. She made a promise to her friend, and she couldn't let him down now, right?

Just as she was thinking that, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She reached for it and turned it on, biting her lower lip as she looked at the time. Only a few hours to go, now. It didn't take her long to notice the notification that she received, however, and she quickly unlocked her phone to open up her messenger app. 

Knows Too Much:
Hey, Yaochan

Knows Too Much:
I know you're freaking out

Knows Too Much:
And if you aren't, well, that sucks for me

Knows Too Much:
But, if you are, I want you to know that you're going to do fine. 

Knows Too Much:
Just remember to be confident in yourself, alright?

Knows Too Much:
And, when it comes down to it, think on your toes.

Yaoyorozu couldn't help the small smile on her face. Midoriya, as odd as he may have been, was a good person to talk to. Especially in situations like these. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sparkle Emitter:
Thanks.

Midoriya sent a smiley face in return before the conversation ended. Yaoyorozu sighed again before standing up. She was still nervous, there was no helping that, but it had died down slightly enough to be bearable. Enough, at least, so that she could acually head to the high school without devolving into an anxiety attack. 

Midoriya had sent her a playlist full of calming instrumental music as she climbed into the back of her family's limousine. She inserted her earbuds and let the notes distract her from the weight of what was soon to happen before it overwhelmed her. She gazed at the dozens upon dozens of unique individuals that passed by her windows in a blur, recording each to memory the best she could. The drive didn't take nearly as long as she hoped it would, and she swallowed heavily as she thanked her driver and pulled the door open. She swung her legs out the side and stepped out, taking in a few deep breaths to calm herself before she slammed the car door closed. She didn't look back as she walked under the intimidating archway with the symbol of U.A. placed in the middle, too scared that she'd chicken out and run back to the car. 

She clasped her hands behind her back as she entered through the bottom floor, and she was quickly greeted by a heroine with long, dark hair and striking blue eyes. She had on a skin-tight outfit made of some kind of white fabric, which was partly covered by a pitch-black corset-esque suit that wrapped around her thin waist. Her leggings were held up by a belt that hung low across her hips, and a whip was curled at the leather accessory with dark boots to top off the look.

Right. She was called the R-rated hero for a reason. 

The hero's lips curled into a seductive smile. "You must be Yaoyorozu Momo," she said, licking her lips. "My name is Midnight. The rest of the recommended students are in a room not too far from here. You're a bit early, though, so there's only a few here at the moment." The woman's smile grew bigger as she looked Yaoyorozu up an down, and, as if satisfied by what she saw, she twirled on her heel and walked down a hallway. Her pace was surprisingly quick, and Yaoyorozu struggled to keep up without jogging. She eventually stopped in front of a large doorway, and she rested her hands on her hips as she turned to the younger female. The older woman winked to her before swinging it wide open, ushering her in before she even recognized what was happening. 

Yaoyorozu tensed as she felt a pair of eyes on her. She glanced to her left, and she caught the gaze of a boy with a bright smile on his face. He was immediately by her side, and she blinked in surprise at his immense height. He bowed extremely low, yelling something about it being a pleasure to meet a fellow recommendation. Yaoyorozu bowed back, mostly out of respect. 

"I'm quite glad to have been acquainted with you as well," she said. In all honesty, it was the only way she could respond after being shocked with the dramatic entrance. 

The large boy grinned at her before his attention became divided, and he patted her on the shoulder before zipping away to a new person entering through the door. 

Yaoyorozu shook her head as she tried to ease her racing heart. Glancing around at the rest of the teens in the room, which served as her competition, her eyes caught onto a boy standing by himself. He had a pained look in his eyes that was covered in layers of apathy, and Yaoyorozu might've approached him if he wasn't seeping waves of anger. He turned slightly in her direction, perhaps a nervous tick, and Yaoyorozu flinched as his dual-colored eyes locked onto hers. His hair, which was parted evenly down the middle between white and blood-red, partially hid the marred and burned skin that covered his left eye. 

Yaoyorozu's breath caught in her throat as she averted her gaze, not wanting to look at those eyes that seemed so spiteful. So full of hatred. So...

Afraid. 

She tried to ignore the fact that they reminded her so much of Midoriya's. The only difference here was that her friend's eyes were filled to the brim with anxiety and deep sorrow. Not only that, but... 

Midoriya's radiated pain. 

=====

=====

Translation:

Hey. So, I heard from Yaoyorozu today. She said that she isn't quite sure how well she did on the test, but I'm pretty sure she did okay. She'll pass. Of course, this means that now have to pass the public exams that U.A.'s holding.

I didn't tell her about this. I didn't want to bring her hopes up if I can't make it.

I'm getting a headache now, and I kind of don't want to write any, but I know it helps. It kind of... puts my impossible life into a few words. And it just simplifies it into a couple of symbols.

I guess it helps to wrap my head around it. Not that I hadn't already understood what happened to me, but... it's just easier, somehow? It's not like the burden has changed, really. It's still just as heavy as ever. But I suppose that, now that there's more space for the weight to go to, it's grown to be more bearable. There's more parts of me holding it up than just my head. Or my mind, in this case.

Sometimes I forget, you know. It was never meant to be me. This was never my role in this world. It was supposed to be someone else, someone more capable of fixing this mess, but...

It's like I said. He couldn't take the burden, and so he passed it on to me. In my sleep, no less, when I had no idea what was happening and couldn't resist. I was actually the one who found him, you know. He had been dead for a while; the height he jumped from was pretty high. I wouldn't be surprised if he died on impact.

A part of me hopes he did. He suffered, just like I had, and a quick death would have probably been nice. Even though it wasn't his place to force all his problems onto me, I hope he got to see the afterlife, if there even is one. And I hope that, above all else, he got peace. Who knows? Maybe he actually managed to walk again after Maiko paralyzed him from the waist down.

Of course, Maiko didn't actually do that.

Not directly, at least. Though she was the reason behind it, and she was the one who ordered them to do it.

So I guess it is her fault, isn't it?

I guess it makes sense though, her intentions. Maiko was constantly going on and on and on about "protect this" and "protect that" and "protect those" and "protect these." I can't believe I hadn't seen it coming, really. Of course he wouldn't be the one to protect them. Not when Maiko was the one pulling the strings in the background, not when she was planning for me to save them instead.

But I didn't want it.

God, Seiya, I didn't want your quirk. Why did you have to give it to me? Why me?

=====

"Inko, I've finally figured out his quirk! I don't think you realize how much potential he has."

"You know as well as I do that there's more to him than what he seems. He had these energy levels-"

"What? Don't you think that it's suspicious that a kid who can speak Japanese is all the way in Brazil? He didn't even understand Portuguese for crying out loud!"

"So why doesn't he have a name, huh? Why hasn't anyone been looking for him? Why doesn't he have a family, Inko?"

=====

Another bad habit he often performed under stress had to do with his contacts. It had taken months to get the "stress pattern" right, and a year before he finally perfected it, but he managed to find a way to activate the heat vision at will. Turning it on and off would usually leave him with a headache, but it was fascinating and he loved it. Most of all, however, it distracted him.

Which was exactly what he did as he waited for the minutes to pass. He knew he should get some rest, or even take some medication to help him sleep, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. His nervousness ebbed in his stomach, and he twisted underneath his many covers as he tried to find a comfortable spot. The U.A. entrance exams were the next day (or today, seeing as it was past midnight) and Midoriya was terrified for many, many reasons.

His grip on the fluffy blankets increased tenfold as he realized what would happen if he failed the exam. What he'd lose. What the world would lose. 

He pressed his lips into a thin line as he pushed the covers off of him, standing on unsteady feet. He was blind in the darkness, but he had long since memorized his room for it to be too much of a hindrance. It didn't take long for him to find his phone, and he turned it on without too much thought. He had to blink several times as the furious glow made his eyes water, but he wiped the tears away and unlocked it with one hand. It took him a second to remember where the messenger app was—yes, he was that tired—and he pressed on his most recent chat. 

Problem Child #2:
Hey, so.

Problem Child #2:
I know you're not up.

Problem Child #2:
But I kind of need help calming down.

Problem Child #2:
So when you do wake up, can we talk please?

He was about to abandon his phone when it buzzed in his hand, and he felt a jolt of surprise go through him. 

:Flippy-Flipper
?On the contrary, I am up

:Flippy-Flipper
?What do you need, Izuku

:Flippy-Flipper
.I can come over if you'd like

Problem Child #2:
I don't think that's necessary. 

:Flippy-Flipper
I think it is necessary - Aika

:Flippy-Flipper
.She's right, you know 

Problem Child #2:
I'd rather you not, Chikara-sensei. 

:Flippy-Flipper
?You don't have to use the sensei, you know, right

Problem Child #2:
Yes. 

:Flippy-Flipper
?Okay... so what's the problem

:Flippy-Flipper
?Oh right, it's the night of the U.A. exams, right

:Flippy-Flipper
.Kid, you're going to be fine. Don't worry about it, really

Midoriya licked his lips nervously. It wasn't exactly helping his nerves at all. 

 :Flippy-Flipper
.If it makes it any easier, you should know that you can still get into the Hero Course even if you don't do well on the entrance exam

 

 

 

:Flippy-Flipper
Those that look to have potential are placed in General Education. If you do well in a few other events, I've heard that they can move you up into the Hero Course

 

:Flippy-Flipper
.Heck, I have a friend who did that

 

:Flippy-Flipper
.Well, not friend. More like colleague. Or acquaintance

Problem Child #2:
Who???

 

 

 

:Flippy-Flipper
Just some guy with a quirk that wasn't suited for the entrance exams. I used to work in the police force for a couple years, and I met up with him on a case 

 

:Flippy-Flipper
He had this awesome quirk that could erase other people's quirks as long as he could look at them. He was an amazing guy, through and through. He was extremely dedicated to the hero job

Midoriya was pretty sure he was going to have a heart attack. 

 

 

 

:Flippy-Flipper
.Though, I must say, he had the worst dry eye problem I have seen to date. I don't think he ever got sleep, either

 

:Flippy-Flipper
?Promise you won't be like that when you become a hero

Midoriya felt something warm tug at his chest. 

Problem Child #2: 
Are you, by chance, talking about Eraserhead?

He knew that he was ignoring the question, but that was alright. It could be worse. 

:Flippy-Flipper
...

:Flippy-Flipper
.Figures you'd know one of the most secretive heroes to date

Problem Child #2:
You know he works at U.A. now, right?

:Flippy-Flipper
.Chikara.exe has stopped working

:Flippy-Flipper
?????HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW ALL OF THS STUFF

Problem Child #2:
Hm... Can't say. 

Problem Child #2: 
Thanks though, that helped a little bit. 

:Flippy-Flipper
?Of course. I hope you don't mind if I walk you to the high school

Problem Child #2:
Sure, that's fine.

The conversation was quickly dropped after that. Midoriya sighed again before curling up into bed, pulling the covers high over his face. 

He got a few hours of sleep that night. 

=====

"You're going to be fine," Hiroji reassured as he walked beside Midoriya. As for him, he was halfway between puking and smiling excitedly at the man. 

Knowing him, he was probably going to do both. 

Hiroji showed him a few cat videos to make him feel better as they walked toward their destination. They were already starting to see crowds of students around Midoriya's age walking in the same direction, which alerted him that they were getting reasonably close. They still had a ways to go, and with their current pace, he knew they were going to be pretty early. 

As time wore on, Midoriya became more nervous. Eventually, talking seemed too hard to do, and conversation fell flat. Hiroji's presence was still comforting, though, which Midoriya was thankful for. 

Midoriya fidgeted with the scarf on his shoulders, poking at the blob inside to make sure she was still there. She moved under his fingertips, which was a comforting (but also gross) thought. His stomach reeled slightly, though it wasn't aching in hunger, at the very least. He ate just enough to cover him, but not enough that he'd end up throwing up from nervousness. Clasping his hands in front of him, he bit his lower lip as he tried to think of what to say if he made it into U.A. Yaoyorozu would probably be happy to see him, though he had no idea how to show that he was happy as well. A simple hug probably wouldn't cut it. 

Yaoyorozu blinked as she opened the box. It was sweets. And baked goods. "I love you," she blurted out. "I am adopting you and we will be family forever and you can't escape me."

... Maybe he could bake her cookies? Yeah, that sounded like a good idea. Yeah. He could do that. 

Midoriya didn't even notice it when Hiroji stopped, and the man had to grab him by the arm to keep him from walking further. 

"We're here, Izuku," the man explained as Midoriya flailed slightly. 

Midoriya blinked and looked up to the entrance of the school, paling at the sight of the building. "Oh," he said lamely. "We are." 

Hiroji's mouth quirked up into a smile as he shook his head fondly. "Well, you're around ten minutes early, but don't slack off and be late. I don't think they take those kinds of people kindly. And remember to not freak out, okay? You'll do great."

Midoriya nodded mindlessly, letting his words wash over him. The man pulled him into a tight hug, tucking him underneath his chin and rubbing his back. They stayed like that for a few seconds before Hiroji let go. Midoriya didn't really want him to, but he knew that it would be better for him; that, and if he could have what he wanted, he would make it so that the man would keep him there until the exams were over and he couldn't participate. 

Midoriya nodded to him and sent him a feeble wave as he went underneath the archway, counting his breaths as he walked forward. Hopefully he wouldn't have to talk to anyone else in the exam—that would be disastrous. Wait, what if that was part of the exam? Oh god, part of being a hero was the ability to talk down people from panicking. But panicking was all he did. What was he supposed to do no—

Something bumped into him, hard, and he stumbled. He managed to keep himself from falling, thankfully, but only just barely. 

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!" 

He turned, wide-eyed, to see a girl around his height blubbering in embarrassment. "I totally wasn't watching where I was going, and I know that was really stupid of me, but I'm a little nervous and common sense has evaded me like the last of my brain cells." 

Midoriya blinked as the brown-haired girl continued to blabber on, her cheeks flushed a slight pink. 

"Um," Midoriya said intelligently, "you're fine. Really. I do worse things all the time. I'm klutz. Wait, no, I'm klutz. Klutz isn't my name, I swear. Well, sometimes I'm a klutz. Not always. It usually only happens when I'm exhausted. Or maybe that's just something that everyone does when they're tired? I don't know." At seeing the girl's expression, he clammed up. "S-sorry. I'm just going to leave now." He twisted on his heel, ready to forget the interaction ever happened, when the girl called out to him. 

"Oh, okay! It was nice meeting you! Love your hair, by the way!"

Midoriya hunched his shoulders as his ears turned pink. He was wondering if she even realized he was a guy. Maybe that was the reason she looked so surprised when he spoke? It wasn't like he looked particularly feminine, but his hair and clothing choice sometimes threw people off. (Or maybe it was the baby blue and mint green scarf? He didn't know. Perhaps it was a combination.)

He still stood by the fact that turtlenecks weren't female clothing. Guys could wear them too, dang it. 

He let out a feeble "Thanks" to the girl before fleeing into the room. He found a seat and slipped into it, trying to ignore the looks he got from other people. He waited impatiently for the minutes to tick by, and finally the doors closed as a hero with blonde hair gelled up took the stage. 

Present Mic. 

The man's quirk, which allowed him to increase the volume of his voice, deeply interested Midoriya. He partly wondered if the man had resistance to his quirk, which kept him from going deaf, or if he had to have hearing aids. Or, perhaps, he knew someone that had a quirk that allowed him to regain use of his hearing (if he even lost it in the first place?) 

He was snapped out of his thoughts as Present Mic started talking about the exam. He explained that it was a point-based exam—points were earned by defeating robots. There were three kinds, and you earned points depending on their level of difficulty. The weakest gave you one point, the second gave you two, and the strongest gave you three. Simple as can be. 

And then a boy stood up. He had dark blue hair and glasses, along with a broad build. He was kind of intimidating, to be honest. If Midoriya wasn't so frazzled, he might have paid a little more attention to exactly what he was saying. The most he got was something about there being four robots on U.A.'s website instead of three. 

Present Mic laughed, though he looked a little uncomfortable. "Yes, there is one more robot. It's worth zero points—meant to be a distraction more than anything else. You'd best run away from it than try to fight it!"

Something about that... didn't seem right. Midoriya narrowed his eyes. U.A. was known for not wasting any of their resources; if they added a robot that meant nothing, than there was a reason for it. 

Huh.

"Remember that there's the written portion of the exam after the practical! So, if you decide to break a few bones, get ready to have to deal with the consequences and sit through it in pain!"

He saw several faces pale. "B-break a few bones?" the boy beside him muttered shakily. 

Midoriya shook off his worry as he clenched his fists in his lap. He waited, still, until Present Mic exclaimed for them to take their places in the specific field they were assigned to. Midoriya stood up with everyone else, and he waited patiently to climb into the bus that would take him to that sector. 

He sat near the front, and he tried not to pay attention to the temperamental teen with ashy-blonde hair and red eyes. He was cussing angrily under his breath, brow furrowed as small explosions were formed in his palms. 

... Was that Bakugo Katsuki? 

Was that his old neighbor? 

How had he not connected the dots sooner? Of course his neighbor was Bakugo. They looked alike. Explosions would make sense with his personality and the circumstances. 

But he didn't know what Bakugo's quirk was. He knew that he had some kind of heat-related one, but that was the extent of his knowledge. He had no way of realizing that the boy he watched from his window and Bakugo Katsuki were the same person. 

He'd have to keep an eye on the explosive male and make sure that he didn't remember him. Not that it was likely that he would, but there was always a chance. 

He jolted as the bus came to a stop, and everyone filed out to step in front of the city. He winced as he was jostled around slightly, though he ignored the crawling of his skin. He noticed the girl with the brown bobbed hair, and he was half-tempted to thank her. If he wasn't so sure he'd throw up the moment he opened his mouth, he might. 

Then, suddenly, without warning, Present Mic's voice came through the speakers. 

"START!" 

Everyone stopped and stared. 

"What? Life doesn't have countdowns, kids!"

Wait, what? He understood, sure, and it was good lesson to learn, but testing people on their ability to react quickly in situations without prior practice was asking a little much. Of course, maybe this was their way of weeding out the "weak," if anyone here was really even weak, but really—

Midoriya blinked and, ignoring his confusion and shock, sprinted forward. He wasn't the only one who recovered quickly. In fact, Bakugo and the boy with the blue hair and broad shoulders—wait, was that Iida Tenya?—soon surpassed him. He looked at the direction they both took, and broke off from them. It would be much easier to go into a quieter area where he wouldn't have to compete for his points.

Just as he turned a corner, he was met with a two-pointer whose guns immediately raised to meet him. He cursed under his breath, ducking into a roll to dodge the bright blast that was flung toward him. The impact on his shoulder was dulled with the movement, but it still smarted and stung. He didn't have much of an idea what to do. He had brainstormed about what would happen when he was greeted with the robots, but he still had no clue as to how to defeat them. All in all, the easiest thing he could do was to... well, that was the easiest thing now, but there was no telling how difficult it would be later.

He winced as the concrete and small pieces of gravel dug into his hands, and he pushed himself up to his feet. After a moment of contemplation—because, really, what he was about to do was insane—he ran toward the machine as it slowly turned toward him. He slanted backward into a slide, yet another shot flying over his head. His slide put him underneath the machine, and Midoriya was greeted with a large tile on the machine's belly. Wracking his brain, he pulled the metal off to be greeted with wires and metal. He pursed his lips when the robot started to move forward, which would not be good for him. At all.

He pressed a few fingers into the inside of the lip of the cavern, watching as chains the same color as the metal burst forth. Controlling the individual chains was a pain and often left him exhausted, so he aimed them all at the wires and hoped for the best. Immediately, the robot stopped as sparks flew, and he rolled out from underneath the machine. He looked back to see that it shut down, its "eyes" darker without the light behind them.

Within anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, the chains would meld back into the metal on their own. This meant that no evidence of his quirk would be left behind, which was a risky move for him to take, especially if they thought that he brought an unregistered item to the exam, but he also didn't want to reveal all of his cards yet. And, perhaps, it would raise suspicion against him, but he'd deal with it when he got there.

Of course, there was also the chance that if he continued to use this tactic, he'd end up electrocuting himself, but details, right?

He shook his head and continued down the street he was taking, pulling his scarf tighter around himself. If worse came to worst, Juni could always gain someone's attention. Yeah. Because slugs were great at that and all.

He remembered to count his breaths as he ran, not wanting to waste his energy and grow too tired. His feet ached against the cement as he continued to jog, and he looked from side to side in something in a sort of desperation. He could hear the sounds of explosions to his right, so he took a turn in the opposite direction. He found a one-pointer this time, in the middle of the street, and he managed to get under it and back out quicker than the last. Whether that was because the robot was weaker or because of him, that had yet to be determined. He saw another two-pointer, and then a three-pointer (which was incredibly difficult to get under). It didn't take long for him to get into a rhythm, though, and he strained his ears for the sound of cogs whirring or the clanking movements of the metal. There was barely a minute left when he heard it.

A scream. A blood-curdling, heartbroken scream that echoed through every corner of the field. Midoriya froze and turned to where he thought the source came from, eyes wide. A sinking feeling in his gut overpowered his sources, and something akin to terror shot through him. His left hand grew numb, and he failed to notice that the robot not far away from him was remotely shut down.

Before he could sort his thoughts, he felt his legs push him forward. He ran toward the origin of the shriek, a drop of cold sweat rolling down the back of his neck and disappearing into the folds of his scarf. His feet pounded against the concrete, and he moved past several robots that he knew hadn't been taken out by force. He passed street after street after street, and nearly skipped one until he noticed the crowd of onlookers. He skidded to a halt and burst forward, shouldering through the participants of the exam to get a look at the scene. There was a hero there, one that he recognized as Recovery Girl, an elderly one with a white coat and gray hair. She had deep wrinkles and eyes full of pain as she looked over—

Midoriya's breath caught in his throat. There was a bob of brown hair curled around a pale face, and the cheeks that he noticed had been pink were now pallid.

Tears sprung in his eyes as he noticed the pool of blood around her body and her malformed legs. He looked up to see the zero-pointer hovering dangerously above. The damn robot was bigger than any of the buildings around it, and it too was shut down. Midoriya clenched the front of his shirt tightly, feeling his heart shrivel up as Recovery Girl attempted to do CPR on the girl whose body was limp. Her hand was outstretched, to the crowd, as if asking for help.

Uraraka Ochako had died at 4:27 pm.

=++++=++++=

Daizō couldn't find Seiya anywhere. 

"Maiko," he said, "I don't know where he is. Can you help me find him?"

The woman blinked her hazel eyes. "Of course I'll help you." 

And they found him. Or,  Daizō found him. Maiko was on the other side of the block. 

He screamed at his pale face, which was partly hidden with his brown hair matted with blood. Red covered him head to toe, and his legs were bent at an odd angle. His arms were twisted in an unnatural manner, his fingers crooked. 

Daizō let out a guttural sob as he grabbed Seiya's corpse by the front of his shirt. "Seiya, no, please no," he cried. His shoulders shook as the blood, which had partly dried in some places, soaked his hands. He fell to his knees, and he ducked his head as his tears mixed with the dark red liquid. He thought about the fingers carding through his hair, he thought about the gentle hugs and the sleepovers they had. He thought about the icy blue eyes and crooked smile and sharp chin. 

He cried. And he cried. And he cried.

And the sea of people rose and fell, rose and fell, and Seiya fell, fell, fell.   

=====

Uraraka Ochako lived at 4:27 pm. 

It was thanks to the boy she bumped into before the exam started, the one with the long-ish green hair and freckles. Trapped underneath a slab of concrete, with no one willing to help her, she was fully convinced that she was going to get crushed under the zero-pointer. 

And then he came, sprinting down the street with a purpose that she didn't know a person could have. He ran through and past the crowd, shoving people out of the way in the process, before skidding to a stop in front of her. He struggled to push the piece off her back, but after a few moments of grappling, he managed to push it over her. He then picked her up firefighter style and ran with her in his arms. His size led her to believe that he wasn't capable of such action, but he proved her wrong in that moment. 

"Oi!" he exclaimed, and she was surprised by the amount of anger in his voice. "Exploding kid! Instead of rolling your eyes and acting like an asshole, why don't you actually beat the shit out of the goddamn robot!?"

Cussing didn't really suit him, but holy crap did it work. The boy with the ashy-blonde hair, who was grumbling about no one being able to help themselves, cussed angrily at him before flying up with his explosions, obliterating the head of the robot into a mess of wires and stray pieces of shrapnel. He used his explosions to balance himself as he fell back to the ground, though Uraraka noticed the way he winced when he landed, immediately massaging his hands. 

The boy with the green hair sighed before placing Uraraka down onto her feet. She looked incredulously into his eyes when she noticed a pain in them that wasn't there before. Maybe because he thought she died or something?

"Thanks for saving me," she said, rubbing the back of her head. "I guess I owe you twice now, right?"

He blinked before sighing, his shoulders sinking with too much weight for the situation at hand. "If you can keep yourself safe, Uraraka, that's enough payment for me." 

Something about that phrasing sounded wrong, but she nodded anyway for the sake of being polite. 

=====

Later, she'd realize that he couldn't have known her name. She never told it to him.  

=====

Quirk ― Recipience: The ability to receive quirks with the original owner's full consent; can GIVE quirks received, but only back to their original owner.

Warning: Consent can still be achieved forcefully through torture, as seen by example three.

Quirks Received:

#1: (XXX, Seiya): ???
#2: (XXX, Maiko): Chain Conjuring—with skin contact, can summon chains; also controls their movements until contact is relinquished
#3: (XXX, XXX): ???

*Note: One quirk that had been received was a vaulting-type quirk from the user's cat. This quirk was given back to its owner after an incident with the family.

=====

The problem with his quirk is that no one wanted to get rid of a piece of themselves. Even if they were on their deathbed, almost no one was completely prepared to give up something that had meant so much to them.

Even though it was a problem, however, he also found it relieving. It meant that he could never become his grandfather. But it also meant that he was going to have to work extra hard to pick up the slack that his quirk developed. 

And a part of him was terrified that he'd never be able to defeat All for One because of it.

=====

Once upon a time, there was a woman with blonde hair and brown eyes. 

"Seiya has given Daizō his quirk," said she. "Daizō now has the power to stop you." Maiko smiled. "But don't worry. I'll keep him from doing anything rash against you." 

She turned to the man by her side. "Right, All for One?"

=====

Translation:

Sometimes, I still have nightmares about you. 

You'll smile at me, with blood coating your teeth and slipping from your lips. 

"It was worth it," you'll rasp.

Was it worth it, though? Was it worth betraying the entire revolution to All for One? Was it worth watching All for One's nomus slaughter our people? Was it worth forcing me to watch it all? Was it worth the screams of agony, the blood and snapping of bones? 

You betrayed the rebellion twice. You sold out our location, forcing us to move to a weaker spot. Half of our people were killed. Seiya was tortured and forced into a wheelchair. I was taken, and for a year I was stuck in All for One's hands, suffering the days away until you finally saved me. I came "home" to see that the revolution was a fraction that it once was. I saw that Seiya, your only hope to prevent this from ever happening, was paralyzed from the waist down and wanted nothing more to end it all. I saw crying children and hopes dashed and starving people. 

And then you did it again. A second time. And you made it public, for everyone to know. And when all was said and done, when everything you did was at its closing point, when the revolution was replaced by rotting corpses, you stepped up to All for One. 

"You can't kill Daizō," you said. "You can't kill him." Your reasoning?

Because I was going to stop him. Because I was going to stop All for One. 

All for One stabbed you through the abdomen himself. Took joy in watching you die. 

And yet, still, you'll smile at me and say, "It was worth it."

You pretended to be a part of the rebellion. You pretended to be a part of the council. You pretended to be a villain. You pretended to be a spy for All for One. 

You were none of those things. 

You were my aunt. You were my mother's twin. And, above everything else, the only thing you wanted from the world was for me to go back. Not Seiya, no. Me. It had to be me. Because you thought that it had to be done right, because you had no faith in Seiya. 

And so you caused the deaths of thousands. You tortured millions. 

All so I could be the time traveler you wanted. 

So, Maiko. 

Was it worth it? 

Chapter Text

Quirk ― Recipience: The ability to receive quirks with the original owner's full consent; can GIVE quirks received, but only back to their original owner.

Warning: Consent can still be achieved forcefully through torture, as seen by example three.

Quirks Received:

#1: (XXX, Seiya): Time Manipulation—can manipulate time at will on both objects and self; stress can cause it to activate; will sometimes replace dreams with visions
#2: (XXX, Maiko): Chain Conjuring—with skin contact, can summon chains; also controls their movements until contact is relinquished
#3: (XXX, XXX): ???

*Note: One quirk that had been received was a vaulting-type quirk from the user's cat. This quirk was given back to its owner after an incident with the family.

=====

If anyone had to ask, Aizawa Shota was tired as hell. He always despised the time of the new year when he was forced to dedicate his sleeping hours to looking through file upon file upon file of applicants.

At the moment, he didn't have much to look at. There was the two recommendation students' files he kept for himself a few weeks back, and he was definitely looking forward to them in his class. They had the potential to be great heroes with a little polishing, and that was fine by him.

Todoroki Shouto and Yaoyorozu Momo. Both were in excellent shape physically, and the two had quirks that would come in handy in the hero business. He was a little worried by Todoroki's behavior—being Endeavor's son, he had been expecting a brash, maybe prideful attitude. Aloofness and cold, but cautious, was what he was greeted with. It was, no doubt, a better alternative since he didn't have to deal with any long monologues founded on ego alone, but it still concerned him slightly. Yaoyorozu was intelligent, and though she wasn't very confident in her abilities, she wasn't shy and was respectful of other people's boundaries. She would be a pleasant addition to his classroom.

As for a few he was on the fence about, there was a guy and a girl—Ashido Mina and Tokoyami Fumikage. Both also showed signs of heroism; Ashido saved quite a few amateurs from three-pointers with her acid quirk. Tokoyami, with his sentient shadow quirk, managed to crush whole groups of robots with what he called Dark Shadow. Ashido seemed a tad too cheerful for his liking, but that could be toned down in a few months under his teaching.

There was also Kirishima Eijiro. He got in second place in the exams, and he had almost an equal amount of villain and hero points. He had just a little more of the former than the latter, but his balanced personality would serve well.

There was one that he knew he should add to his class, but really didn't want to. This was otherwise known as Bakugo Katsuki. The kid was strong, powerful, and didn't need to be reassured every other step that things were going to be okay and that he could be a hero. On the flip side, the kid was strong, powerful, and too damn confident in himself and he was going to give Aizawa hives from the amount of pride that seeped from his pores.

Maybe he could get away with shoving the kid into Vlad's class. That wouldn't be too hard, right?

He was about to take a ten minute nap afterward when Yamada Hizashi, or Present Mic, jumped into his face. "Shouta, Shouta, you have to see this!"

"What." Of course the buffoon would try to show him something with his loud, obnoxious voice the minute he tried to get some relief from the universe. Of course.

"So, remember the zero-pointer that nearly killed that participant?"

"Wish it did," he muttered, though Yamada ignored him.

"Well, there's this kid there—"

"Bakugo Katsuki, I know. I've already seen his profile."

Yamada's face brightened. "Oh, so you have seen it! Well then, you should know that that's not the the kid I'm looking at."

Aizawa glanced at him with one eye opened. "And which one would you be alluding to?"

Yamada grinned at him. "Well, first off, Uraraka Ochako—the victim in this case, if you can even call it that. Her quirk is well suited for being a rescue hero; anything she touches will have its gravity negated. I think you should look at her to put in your class."

Aizawa raised a brow. "But?"

Yamada grinned at him and shoved a vanilla folder into his hands. Aizawa recognized it as one that he pushed away into his "Not Worth My Time" pile.

"I'm not doing this one," he said bluntly.

"Eh? Why not?" Yamada whined.

Aizawa sighed and opened the file, pointing angrily at one of the requirements which was left blank. "It doesn't have a word about his quirk in here. If he couldn't put the time to name his quirk and describe it in a sentence or more, I'm not going to waste my time on him."

Something in Yamada's eyes shifted. "Then maybe you should take a look at the video recordings we captured," he said. Aizawa noted the serious undertone to his voice. "I honestly think the kid has potential. There might have been a reason he didn't explain his quirk."

Aizawa watched as Yamada smiled and then bounded away to leave to his own classroom. He sighed and rubbed his face tiredly, irritated beyond relief. He hated it when the man was so cryptic.

He placed the folder off to the side. He would get to it later. Or tomorrow. Or never. Really, it depended on how much his curiosity got to him in two in the morning.

=====

At two in the morning, six days later, Aizawa grumbled angrily to himself before snatching the folder off his counter and grabbing his old laptop. He was supposed to go out on an assignment tonight, but it turned out that some newbie let their status slip; now, he was dealing the consequences of the villain group slipping away, again, and he had nothing to do while the police force tried to find out where they could have gone. He had asked to help out, explaining that he wasn't inept when is came down to chasing criminal organizations, but guess what they police said?

No.

Goddammit. Where was that one officer—what was his name again?—when you needed him? The man didn't underestimate him and always let him do as he pleased. He even gave him coffee every time they met up.

Aizawa sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose before he pulled up the recordings from the entrance exam. It said that Midoriya Izuku—the boy Yamada was determined to put in his classroom—was in field C. Great. Now, if only he could find the kid...

Ah. There.

Aizawa watched with barely contained disinterest as the kid slipped underneath the robots to do... something. According to the report, the robots' wires were broken and their innards shattered, but they didn't know how. Which was both a little concerning and, much to Aizawa's distaste, it piqued his curiosity. He watched as the kid continued down the street, defeating seven robots with the same tactic. Aizawa didn't really see the point in continuing the video when the kid stood.

And he just froze. For a second, his limbs locked and his determined expression flashed blank before it morphed into something entirely different. It was barely discernible in the camera's footage, but Aizawa leaned close to catch the kid's countenance, which was one of pain and heartache. He glanced up at the time counter in the corner, and he narrowed his eyes. That was... approximately thirty-seven seconds before he reached Uraraka. Before she almost got crushed.

... Shit. Yamada might have been on to something.

Aizawa rewound the video, watching his expression over and over again. Seeing the haunted look just screamed wrong to him. He had seen that look on older heroes wasting away, he had seen it on the faces of loved ones who watched the people they cared about die, he had seen it on criminals who didn't know better. But never a teenager. A teenager should not have that facial expression.

Something deep inside him twisted uncomfortably. He pulled up a fresh tab on his computer and pressed on his Gmail account. Ignoring the emails that he knew were important and yet he refused to open, he created a fresh one and sent it to an acquaintance he hadn't seen in a long, long time.

=====

Hiroji blinked in surprise as he stared at his phone. From the corner of his eye, he watched as Midoriya and Aika performed a few back flips in perfect sync, and he suppressed the urge to stare at Midoriya.

Hiroji Chikara,

I know it's been a while. It's Eraserhead. I wanted to ask you for your help. There's this kid, Midoriya Izuku, who participated in the U.A. entrance exam, and three fourths of the way through he looked like someone died. I need your expertise.

Aizawa Shouta

What. The. Fuck. Were. The. Chances.

Hey Aizawa,

It has been a while, hasn't it? Well, I'm going to get straight to the point because I know you don't care for long emails. Midoriya is my student at my job—I work in a gymnastics program, by the way—so I understand your concern. Midoriya is... an interesting character? He's a genius, and he knows things that he probably shouldn't. I'm not saying this to dissuade you, because he's great. He has a heart of gold, and he's grossly intelligent; he might just be your favorite student.

However, I am going to be completely honest with you. Detaching myself from the situation and pretending I'm not close to Midoriya, I will tell you that, if you decide to teach him, he will be difficult. I'm not sure myself of his situation, but he suffers from trauma. The intense kind. It's even worse than from the time Aika was living with her mother. I've managed to ease some of it these past few years, but if you're not willing to take up the challenge to teach him, I would let another teacher take care of it.

He told me about his quirk; I think I remember him saying that he hadn't filled that part out in his file. I would tell you about it, but I honestly think there's more to it than he led me to believe. I dunno. He kind of acted like he hated his quirk, like it wasn't something he deserved or something.

If he was honest about his quirk, though, I will tell you that it's suitable for hero-ing. It's effective, and great for both immobilizing the enemy and for rescue operations if using correctly.

Tell me if you want to teach him, though. I can give you a list of things to be wary about.

Hiroji Chikara

Satisfied with the email, he sent it and hid his phone as Aika rushed up to him, Midoriya closely following behind. "Dad, Dad, tell Midoriya that he did great on his exam, please, his worrying is killing me."

Hiroji smiled and ran a hand through both of their hair. "You guys should focus less on freaking out and more on completing the uneven bars choreography. How else are you going to beat me?" he teased.

Aika huffed. "Daddy, please, I can wipe the floor with you already."

Hiroji grinned. "You bet?"

=====

Sometimes, the two forgot that Hiroji was still a professional gymnast.

=====

Aizawa stared at his email. And then he groaned and slammed his forehead against the desk.

"Lord save me," he muttered harshly to himself.

Fuck it, Midoriya was going on his roster. Screw sleep, it was for the weak anyway.

=====

Midoriya was paranoid when the letter from U.A. arrived. He holed himself in his living room, Juni by his side, and just stared at the envelope for hours. Maybe he could open it with his eyes or something.

He flinched when his phone buzzed beside him, and he turned it on after a moment of hesitation. Hiroji texted him, asking if they could call one another. Midoriya sighed before complying.

"Hey. Stop panicking."

"How do you even know I'm panicking?"

"You say this like I haven't known you for the past four years."

"I suddenly understand the universe."

"Good. Now open the letter."

"How do you even know that Yuuei sent a letter?"

"That's a good question that I refuse to answer. Now open it."

Midoriya sighed as he moved the phone so it was trapped between his shoulder and ear. "I'm just going to hope that you didn't do anything illegal."

"Can't promise you anything, but if the police come to your house, don't mention me, all right?"

Midoriya paused and narrowed his eyes. "Usually I would wave this off as a joke, but I'm actually worried for you, Chikara-sensei."

Hiroji laughed. "Just open the letter."

Midoriya nodded, though he mentally slapped himself when he remembered that Hiroji couldn't see it. With cold fingers, he opened the seal carefully on the letter. He was expecting a letter, but instead he pulled out a small black disk. He set it down onto the coffee table, and he was about to ask Hiroji what the heck it was meant to be for when a huge hologram popped out. He barely suppressed a scream as he yelped.

"I am here!"

Midoriya blinked. Was that... All Might?

"Midoriya Izuku, you scored twenty-seven points in the exam! Unfortunately, this isn't enough to carry you into Yuuei's hero course." Midoriya felt his stomach drop down to his feet. Bile rose to his throat.

"That is, if those were the only points rewarded!" What. "Hero points were also rewarded for helping another participant." A picture of the girl with brown bobbed hair and eyes popped up on the hologram. "You received fourteen more points for helping Uraraka Ochako." All Might's smile brightened. "You passed with forty-one points! Welcome to your hero academia!"

Midoriya stared for a second as the hologram turned off. He felt his shoulders shake slightly.

"Izuku?" Hiroji sounded worried as Midoriya's sobs carried over the line.

"I made it," he said with a watery laugh. "I made it."

And they celebrated.

=====

According to the letter, he placed fourth in the written portion of the exam. Out of the ninety-two problems, he only missed five. Midoriya was glad that he spent several years taking up extra online courses so he was ahead. It made it so much easier instead of cramming all of it in the last few months.

As Aika and Hiroji waved goodbye to him, he smiled lightly and bid them goodnight. They had a nice night of cake and cookies and too many sweets that left his stomach aching as he laughed. It was worth it though, and he was too happy from passing to care.

He let out a happy sigh as he crawled into bed, and he closed his eyes to go to sleep. And, of course, the one night he wanted sleep was the night he couldn't get some.

A side effect of Seiya's quirk was visions—it overrode his sleep so he wasn't technically sleeping any longer, though, from an external viewpoint, it seemed that way. If he slept while stressed, he would usually get dreamed of the future that could (not that it was guaranteed to) happen. If he was emotional, he would get warped into a scene from the past.

So, of course, he was emotional. And so, of course, he got warped to the past. Again.

Midoriya sighed as he came face-to-face with dark, run-down buildings and decrepit roads. He walked over to an empty bench, sitting down with a grunt. He watched as small leaves flew across the cement and nearby his feet.

"So we meet again."

Midoriya looked up to see a man with a lithe figure and gentle eyes. "So we do," he replied. After a moment of silence, he patted the space next to him. The older man took his spot next to Midoriya, and they sat together, watching the leaves.

"Did you get in?" the man asked.

Midoriya felt a small smile crawl up his face. "Yeah," he muttered quietly. "I did."

The man nodded. "Good." He elbowed Midoriya gently. "Don't worry, I know you can do it."

Midoriya hummed. "I'm getting there." His small smile faded. "But it's getting extremely close now. I have no idea how much time I have left before the day comes."

The man sighed. "When All for One comes?"

Midoriya nodded sullenly. "When All for One comes."

The other shook his head in pity. "I wish you didn't have to face him."

"He's weak now, though," Midoriya pointed out.

"Yes, but for how long?" the man countered.

Midoriya remained silent.

The man let out another sigh. "All for One is powerful. Even if he's weak now, he'll regain his strength eventually. You know this from experience after he managed to rebuild himself stronger than ever before."

"So I'll take him down for good," Midoriya said.

The man shrugged. "You can do that. Or," he paused, "you can let someone else do it for you."

"Who?" Midoriya asked. "Who would even try to take All for One now?"

"The present user of One for All, of course," the man replied.

Midoriya wracked his brain before he remembered. "All Might."

The man nodded. "All Might," he echoed.

Midoriya sighed. "I'd like to let him do it, but he died in the rematch against All for One. There's no way that I'm just going to leave it to him."

The man remained quiet for a moment before he spoke up. "You simply being here has changed so much." He glanced to Midoriya. "So, think about it this way. Your job is to make sure that All Might and Class 1-A survive. Leave the taking down of All for One to Time and her changes."

Midoriya watched as a brown leaf flew up, disappearing into the smog. "I want to listen to you, but getting help from a dead person is a dangerous idea."

The man smiled. "Really? I think Death has made me more..." His smile gained a sharp glint as he started to fade away. "Experienced."

And the dream warped out of existence.

=====

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Daizō. "Maiko?" asked he. "Maiko, what is Seiya supposed to do?"

A woman with blonde hair and hazel eyes smiled. "Prevent U.A.'s Judgement Day, of course!"

"U.A.'s Judgement Day?" asked Daizō.

Maiko's smile disappeared. "Well, that was when all of U.A. was slaughtered. It started with the death of the man with lies in his smile and then Class 1-A. Seiya's meant to go back in time and prevent All for One from killing the class, since we believe that that incited everything else to happen. That's how All for One took over."

"Oh, joy!" said Daizō. "Seiya's gonna save the day. But what am I supposed to do, Maiko?"

And Maiko grinned.

=====

Translation:

Sometimes my priorities get all mixed up. I forget that I'm the new Seiya, and I'm supposed to be protecting everyone, not taking down All for One.

But yeah, that was why the council kept me around. Because, if Seiya failed, they wanted to use me to kill off All for One. Present (Future?) All for One, that was.

I guess I still have to figure out which one I'm going to do. Am I going to protect the class, or am I going to defeat All for One?

I'm not sure. And I don't have much time left to figure it out.

=====

Daizō was six and was playing with Seiya. The older boy and him had already tired out Hide and Seek, I Spy, and Simon Says. Now, they were simply dancing. Daizō giggled as Seiya twirled him around.

And they continued dancing over and over again, until even Daizō's clumsy feet could get the moves right. They laughed, they smiled, and then their feet hurt so bad that they had to plop on Seiya's bed to relieve the pain. Seiya's long legs took up most of the bed, but Daizō liked them. They were long and gangly and he reminded him of a gazelle, long and fast but sleek and nervous. Seiya was always comparing Daizō to a parrot, always repeating what was told to him exactly how it sounded.

"I'm a fluffy parrot," Daizō countered. "I'm a soft one with bright colors."

And Seiya laughed but nodded. "Of course you are."

They giggled and shared stories about what happened to them the other day, though it was the same thing that happened every other day. Repeating them was the only thing they could do for entertainment nowadays, however. Daizō's eyes felt heavy, and he closed them after a moment of silence. Seiya chuckled, saying something about a cat nap before they both dozed off.

And then, Daizō felt it. It was a rumble, deep in the heart of the building the were in. Daizō and Seiya shot up, and Seiya paled considerably.

"Stay here," he ordered, and he shoved a squirming Daizō back onto the small bed. The teen ran over to the door, and he turned back for a second. "Don't make a sound, and be careful." His expression was serious, his eyes dark and heavy before he slammed the door behind him. Daizō felt fear grip him as the building shook, and he stumbled slightly.

He looked around the small room, trying to find a place to hide. His eyes locked on the closet, and he flung those thin doors open before cramming himself inside. Even as tiny as he was, he could barely fit himself inside. He pressed his hand against his mouth, trying to keep himself from breathing too loudly. As the seconds wore by, he noticed how the loud trembles and explosions seemed to grow shorter and shorter until a thick silence fell.

Daizō continued to remain silent. He breathed lightly, afraid that a single sound would alert anyone to his location. A part of him wondered what happened to Seiya and if he was alright.

And then he heard the door creak open. He tensed, his body growing rigid and his eyes widening. The hand on his mouth clenched tighter. He held his breath.

Footsteps. They were loud. He watched as two feet-shaped shadows moved underneath the crack of the door. The moved closer, closer.

And then they moved farther away. They left.

And Daizō let out a sigh of relief.

And then the closet doors slammed open, and Daizō shrieked as a hand grabbed him by his hair. He clawed at the hands as they pulled him out of the closet and forcefully shoved him into the floor.

"Got him," Shigaraki said.

He was grinning.

=====

Daizō was tired and a year older. His left hand was numb and his eyes were dark.

He stared at the huddled groups of men and women and children, trying to get some remnants of warmth from the controlled fires spread out along the field. Maiko's hand was resting on his back. It was grounding, almost.

She led him into one of their few buildings. At the bottom floor, he was greeted with a familiar face, who was stuck in a wheelchair. Seiya looked up at him with sorrow-filled eyes, dark bags hanging underneath.

"I tried," he whispered. "I tried so hard, Daizō. I went back forty-three times before I finally blacked out for good." He looked down at his hands in his lap. "I went back until... until this happened." He waved to his legs with one hand.

Daizō stared at his paralyzed limbs. "Can't you go back and fix them?" he finally asked, throat sore and dry enough that it cracked in several places.

Seiya shook his head. "I can barely use my quirk anymore," he admitted quietly. "I don't think I'll ever be able to use it again unless it's for Yuuei. Maybe not even then."

Daizō stared at the boy that once reminded him of a gazelle, sleek and sharp and quick. He thought about himself, a colorful parrot with soft feathers.

Daizō turned away. No reunion hugs. That could wait for another day.

For now, the gazelle was broken and the bird shot down. 

=====

Daizō was still seven when, several months after he returned from All for One's clutches, Seiya made up his mind. The two always shared a bedroom, and Seiya maneuvered himself into his wheelchair before pushing himself to Daizō's bedside. He looked at the small boy, his hair gleaming in the moonlight and his expression solemn, even while sleeping.

"I'm sorry," Seiya said. He placed light fingers on Daizō's forearm, watching as the skin lit up beneath his touch. Daizō didn't so much as twitch as the transaction was completed.

Seiya sighed, ready to turn and leave when he paused. He looked back to Daizō, who was curled into a small ball with the covers down at his waist. Seiya felt his eyes water as he pushed himself back, and he pulled the thin blankets back up to Daizō's hunched shoulders. And then he kissed him lightly on the forehead.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered again. And then he turned away, leaving the room behind him.

He took the ramps up to the roof level. He let the chill create goosebumps along his skin as he stared up at the moon, the pollution hiding all the stars from view. He let a gentle breeze flow through his hair. 

He pondered.

Did he really want to do this?

The answer was yes, he did.

He hoped that he'd find relief from all this suffering, even if there wasn't such a thing as the afterlife.

=====

Midoriya hummed a tune to himself as he set the timer on the oven. His hands were covered in cookie dough, but he supposed it could be worse, all things considered. After washing his hands at the sink, he leaned back onto the island counter.

"What should I make my costume be?" he mused. He looked to Juni, who was curled up on the windowsill, sunbathing. He was half-tempted to put something random down when an idea hit him.

Oh. Heck yeah.

He pulled out his sketchbook, already forming the details. It came rushing at him like a tidal wave, more information flooding his brain than going onto the paper. He smiled.

Thanks, Eishun.

=====

He proceeded to panic the morning of his first day at U.A. Waking up at five in the morning, he stared at the far wall in blank horror.

Yep. Today was the day he was officially going to screw himself over.

He managed to dress himself reasonably well. He hoped he didn't look too shabby, though that may just have been him. He wasn't sure. His nerves were probably just getting to him.

He made sure to make himself a cup of tea before he fell too deeply into a panic mode. It helped a little, though he wasn't sure how long it'd last. He counted his breaths, and when he looked up to the clock to see that he still had forty minutes before he had to leave, he sat himself down by his piano. He let his fingers run over the keys freely, not caring too much about the actual sound than the practice itself.

When he still had ten minutes until he had to leave, he stood up abruptly and grabbed his bag and phone from the kitchen counter. Since he wasn't too fond of the idea of arriving early, he thought about stopping by the cafe he always liked for a small bite to eat. Yeah, that sounded like a good idea.

He picked up Juni from her place on one of the piano keys, tucking her into the folds of his scarf. She didn't squirm or move, perfectly content with her spot, and Midoriya counted that as a good sign. He was soon out the door—though he picked up one last bag he prepared and let it hang on his forearm—and he locked it from behind him before he started to jog. The cafe wasn't too far from U.A., but it was slightly off course and he really didn't want to be admonished for any late activity.

His entrance didn't surprise the girl at the counter. She was semi-new, though she had been working for several weeks at least. She was nice, but Midoriya preferred the other woman who had worked there. He was glad, though, because she didn't drag things on for longer than they had to. He soon left there within three minutes, smaller bag in hand. It contained a few pastries that were baked to perfection, and he felt his mouth water.

God, he was such a sucker for sweets.

=====

Entering through the U.A. barrier was slightly surreal. He had been imagining this for what seemed to be forever, but actually doing it was kind of... terrifying? Yeah, that was it. It was terrifying.

Also fun fact: U.A. was a labyrinth. It took him ages to find his classroom (holy bejeezus, he made it into the Class 1-A what the actual hell) and he blinked at its first impression. Which was the door. Which had to be eight times taller than him. With a giant red A on it, too. Which was a little over dramatic, but he supposed U.A. and dramatization were synonyms in the dictionary, so it really shouldn't have been a surprise.

After a moment of just staring, he finally convinced himself to push the door open. With a little difficulty, of course, but overall he managed to do it just fine without making a fool of himself. A few pairs of eyes glanced at him, but they soon went back to where they were before. Midoriya was a little thankful for it, because he wasn't sure what he'd do if someone tried to talk to him.

Large windows covered one side of the wall, letting in large amounts of light. The room was large in size, and the ceilings were even taller than the door was. Rows of desks were lined in perfect rows. He glanced around the area, trying to find the one person in mind when long, dark hair caught his eye. It was spiked up in a ponytail, its voluminous waves somehow defying gravity.

Well, it certainly looked nice on her.

At first glance, she looked entirely similar to the girl that Midoriya met several years ago. Except she wasn't; her face had thinned and grew slightly sharper, and her body was leaner than before. Her hair was longer, too, and her hips were slightly more curved as well. So basically, puberty.

She was sitting in the back row, looking down at her phone as she rested her chin in her hand. She seemed to be texting someone, and Midoriya would feel bad for interrupting if it weren't for the fact that it had been years since they had last seen each other. Honestly, he didn't give a crap.

He pulled out the chair from the desk in front of hers, sitting in it backward so he could rest his arms on the back. He plopped his backpack by his feet, as well as the other plastic bag he brought with him, and then resorted to staring at the top of her head.

"I'm not interested," Yaoyorozu almost immediately said. Midoriya remembered all the complaints she had because a bunch of guys would ask her out on her looks alone—it made him a little sad that that had become her automatic response.

"Good," he responded. "Because neither am I. I'm sixty-three percent sure I'm aromantic, remember?"

Yaoyorozu paused in her typing before her head shot up. Her mouth opened and closed for a second as they locked gazes, and her eyes widened. "I thought you were seventy-percent sure," she finally blurted out.

Midoriya shrugged. "And I think that I promised you baked goods," he said nonchalantly as he pulled a small box from the plastic bag and placed it on the desk. "Anyway, hi, Yaochan."

Yaoyorozu blinked. And then she blinked again, before she finally stood up and circled around her desk to catch him into a hug. He returned it fiercely.

"Hi, Zuku," she whispered. She separated their contact and sent him a bright smile. "It's so good to see you again. You look so different!"

Midoriya smiled lightly. "You do too."

"Aww, this is so cute! I didn't think we would get any reunions in this class!"

Midoriya and Yaoyorozu looked over to see a girl who... wasn't there. Right by her side was a taller female with pink skin and hair; the scleras of her eyes were black instead of the usual white, and her irises were a bright yellow. She was bouncing up and down. "Yeah, I think that's really cool! So, you're like, best friends or something?"

Midoriya froze as all the attention was focused on them two. Panic started to seep into him, and if that couldn't get worse, yet another voice was aimed at him.

"Oh hey, you're the boy from the entrance exam!"

Midoriya felt his eye twitch as he shakily looked to the girl with the brown bobbed hair. She looked a little sheepish.

"I'm sorry, I never got your name. I felt super bad after you helped me out there, and I wanted to give you a thanks, but I couldn't find out from anyone who you were, so..." Uraraka rubbed the back of her head. She had a small smile on her face, one that made Midoriya cringe as a memory of a pale hand reaching out came to mind. Suddenly, a familiar face butted into the conversation. 

"Saved you? Him?" His face was red with rage as a few pops emitted from the palms of his hands. "Who the hell destroyed the zero-pointer? I was the fucker that saved you, what fucking kind of Alzheimer's do you have if you couldn't even remember that shit?" Oh, that was Bakugo. And now there were even more eyes on all of them.

Oh. Oh no. Midoriya felt his face pale and his hands jerk underneath the desk. He bit his lower lip, not ready to deal with so many new faces at once. Especially when they were aimed at him.

"Shut up, all of you."

Almost immediately, all chatter and noise silenced. Every pair of eye snapped to the owner of the gravely, exhausted voice, which turned out to be a man with long black hair and ashy skin. He was curled up in... a bright yellow sleeping bag? 

Midoriya almost immediately recognized him as Eraserhead. Granted, he was a bit more interesting than what he remembered he was told, but he supposed a lot of things surprised him. Say, for example, one of the students in the practically worshiped Class 1-A was an utter jerk. It was a bit disappointing, but Midoriya had to remind himself that they were just teenagers without a clue as to what was going to happen. That, and there were hundreds of years worth of time between now and when he was told this information—inaccuracies and bloated facts were bound to happen. 

The older man stood up slowly before unzipping the inside of his sleeping bag, speaking all the while. "That took you too long. It shouldn't have been more than a few seconds." He made his way to the podium, and he glanced around at their class. He's analyzing us, Midoriya's mind supplied. At first glance, it seemed as if the man's eternal exhaustion would keep him from noticing any of them in great detail. But Midoriya noticed the small narrow of his eyes and the way he lingered on some of them more than others. 

He also noted that he didn't look at him at all. 

"My name is Aizawa Shouta," he said tiredly after the few seconds of examination. "I'm your teacher." 

That statement immediately raised eyebrows, but no one had the confidence (or the stupidity) to outright mention their surprise. Instead, a thick silence remained. The man didn't seem to care and pulled out a stack of clothes. 

"Here," he said, passing it on to the first person in his reach. "You have ten minutes to get dressed and by the field. If you don't make it in within the time limit, I'm expelling you." 

... Say what? This was new. This was definitely new. Midoriya knew the man had little to no patience for people's bullcrap, it was blatantly stated in the way he stood and spoke when he was on the job. Even the few blurry videos that had been posted online had enough evidence to support that the man didn't care for slacking off. But he wasn't expecting this. 

And honestly, that both unnerved and excited him. But mostly unnerved. And his excitement was slowly edging away into terror. 

Dressing into the P.E. clothes was a little awkward to him, to say the least. He wasn't used to being so exposed to other teenagers his age, and the changing room was filled with jokes and little teasing remarks. There weren't any accidents though, at least, and he was glad that he remembered to put on the piece of cloth around his neck (he had no idea what the thing was even supposed to be called) before he left for school that day. 

He was one of the first few out, and he was left to awkwardly scuff his foot at the ground as he waited for the rest of the students to pile out. He had his arms crossed to hide the few scars that covered the skin of his arms. Maybe he'd ask for a long-sleeved jacket. Or maybe if he could wear a shirt underneath instead? 

He was broken from his thoughts when Aizawa threw a ball to Bakugo. The boy caught it with ease as the man explained shortly. 

"In middle school, you were given physical tests without the uses of your quirks. Bakugo, how far could you throw a ball then?" 

Bakugo smirked. "Sixty-seven meters." 

Aizawa's expression didn't change. "Then add your quirk to the mix." 

If Bakugo was surprised, he didn't show it. Instead, his grin grew as he bounced the ball into the air a few times, catching it before shooting it up again. He pondered for a moment, then took one step back as he swung his arm back. 

"DIE!" he yelled, and explosions blasted the small thing far into the air. Midoriya winced as his hair blew back, a few strands getting into his eyes. His quirk was incredibly powerful, no doubt, and it definitely surprised him how easily the strength behind his explosions came. It wouldn't surprise him if he got into quite a few fights, which would make sense with his low fuse. People served as the best practice for quirks anyhow. 

Aizawa displayed the screen of the tracker, which said 705.2 meters in clear letters. 

"Quirk ability is the most rational way to form the foundation of a hero," he finished blandly as he lowered the device to his side. "We will be performing a quirk assessment test to apply your skills." 

"Oh man, this's so cool!" said a boy with canary-yellow hair that had a black, lightning-shaped streak along his bangs. Kaminari Denki. 

"Cool, huh?" Aizawa said, his eyes glinting dangerously. Midoriya felt his blood grow cold. "All right. Whoever comes in last place in all eight tests will be judged to have no potential and will be punished with expulsion." 

And Midoriya felt his face grow pale. Because there was no way that he was passing. 

=====

Daizō watched as the sun started to rise. It was slightly foggy, though the temperature was nice and it wasn't raining. He had already stayed for a few hours longer than everyone else had. Their speeches, long and full and gentle, had been read until they were out of words and tears. 

Each of the council members left behind a flower on Seiya's shallow grave. Each one left after their parting words. 

And Daizō watched, silent all the while. 

When he was finally alone, and when the last person had left to return to life, he finally approached the tombstone. He watched as small droplets of dew formed on the gray stone, and he traced his fingertips along the cool surface. He thought about him, covered in blood and contorted in all the wrong ways. And then he thought about him before the attack, with a half-smile and brown hair and blue eyes. 

He could run fast. He always ran fast. He was like a gazelle; when the sun came up, he was running faster than the fastest lion. But then the lion caught up to him, and broke his legs and left him behind, to suffer in agony. And when the sun came up, he was no longer running, but he was counting the time left inside him. 

Daizō turned his head toward the rising sun. When the sun came up, all of them were running. When the sun came at its center, they were all cowering in fear. When the sun started to set, they all faced the repercussions for their actions. And when the sun disappeared completely, they all reminisced on the previous day, which was so much better for them, and the previous day, which was even better than that. 

Daizō thought about Seiya, with his long legs that ran whenever the sun came up. 

He turned back to the grave and left a wilted flower with only two petals left, one right beside the other. 

"I hope you can run, wherever you are," he said. No fancy speech. No dramatic ending. Just running. 

They were always running. 

=====

Midoriya tied for last place with his classmate Mineta Minoru. Yaoyorozu was giving him nervous glances, though he refused to return them. That would just make him fall apart, and he knew it. 

"What can you do?" Aizawa asked Mineta. The boy blinked before brightening. 

"The balls on my head can stick to anything for up to twenty-four hours, maybe even longer when I'm stressed enough. I'm smart too, and a hit with the ladies!" He winked at that. Aizawa didn't seem amused, though it was hard to tell with him. Midoriya wasn't too happy with the kid either, to be honest. He had ogled at the girls multiple times, and it reminded him too much of Disaya for him to be comfortable. Aizawa finally sighed through his nose, and then he turned. 

Away from Midoriya. 

"No one's getting expelled this time. I've decided otherwise," he said without care. 

And Midoriya was utterly confused. Because not only had the man blatantly ignored him, but he didn't even question his potential level. Which was, frankly, terrifying in his situation. Because he had no idea how to go about this. He could tell that other students were whispering about him, just as confused about the whole ordeal as he was. A part of him told him to drop it, to let it go, but another part of him wanted answers. 

And that latter part of him was much stronger. 

"You're Eraserhead, right? The underground hero." Aizawa stopped, and for a second Midoriya didn't think that he'd humor him when the man turned around. His eyes were blank, without any hint of emotion or surprise. No confirmation was present, just silence, even from his now-classmates. 

Midoriya sighed. "Look, I don't want to seem crude or anything, but I'm afraid we're kind of lacking in the conversational department. You've been ignoring me this entire time. Which is great and all. Seriously, I don't mind it. But I don't know if that's something that you want or if it's another one of your tests." When Aizawa made no sign to respond, he continued. 

"So, as much as we both probably hate the whole, "Let's use our vocal cords to make noises like the pre-humans did to tell their other pre-human friends the difference between 'Let's go smash rocks together' and 'Oh shoot, that's a predator about to kill us'," I think it's a valuable resource. Because I cannot read you for the life of me, and I'd rather learn how to be a hero than constantly step on your toes because we can't talk like functional human beings." At a glance at the man's expression, he corrected himself. 

"Well, semi-functional human beings. Becoming an underground hero condemns you to a life of constant work with little relief. So anyway, that was my long version of me requesting you to either explain what you want vocally or tell me if you're just going to expel me already." 

Aizawa blinked. To his credit, he didn't seem that surprised or offended, if just a little caught off-guard. "Hm. So you do speak." He turned back around. "I was going to expel you if you seemed too complacent with sliding by, but since you confronted me about it, I guess that's not required anymore. Which is great; I'd rather not have any wasted potential. " 

Oh. Midoriya felt like he was about to die. Wait, no, there went his soul. Guess he was already dead. 

However, the entire thing set him on edge. Aizawa purposely singled him out with a little test for him separate from everyone else's. The rest of his class relied on their ability to use their quirks, and yet he hadn't even used his and yet passed without much trouble. 

That was... concerning. Aizawa was smarter than he looked, that was for certain. 

Midoriya sighed in relief, his shoulders sagging. All confidence he had prior was totally lost, and he felt the urge to die and curl into a small ball grow stronger than ever. 

But hey, at least he passed the first test. 

=====

Lunch rolled around, and Midoriya was content with sitting by himself when a familiar warm voice greeted him to eat at her table. He thought about her empty brown eyes and felt guilt warm in his chest, and he slid into the chair opposite of Uraraka. Beside her sat the boy named Iida, who was surprisingly humorous in his strict attitude. Iida had actually been the one to initiate conversation with Uraraka before, and they hit it off quickly. 

Shortly after, Yaoyorozu plopped in the chair beside Midoriya's, giving the three of them her winning smile. No one stopped her from letting her stay.

"I must say though," Iida started as they ventured into today's events, "I wasn't expecting Aizawa's hidden trick. I was appalled by your manner when you first spoke, but to think that he would have actually responded in kind..." 

Uraraka pursed her lips. "Yeah, that is kind of weird. And to think that you were the only one he tested that way, huh?" 

Yaoyorozu wiped her mouth with a napkin. "Maybe because you have a mental quirk, and the physical tests would have proved useless?" 

Uraraka's eyes lit up. "Wait, I didn't know that you had that kind of quirk!" 

Midoriya sighed. "I don't. Yaochan is just grasping at straws."

The teen in question pouted. "Oh hush, that had to be a reasonable prediction."

"If I may ask," Iida interrupted, "is it not odd that you have known one another for years, and yet you have not shared such information with her?" 

Midoriya sighed, picking at the food in his small lunch. "I'm not comfortable with using or talking about my quirk," he admitted quietly. "I was hoping that I could overcome that and help people out with it." 

A moment of silence followed his statement. 

"I think that's very admirable," Yaoyorozu said. 

"Yeah!" Uraraka followed. "Plus, that's super great how you're working to get over your fear. I think that's really inspirational and all."

Iida adjusted his glasses. "Indeed, you are setting a good example to those who follow you." 

And Midoriya let a small, sad smile overtake him as he continued to look down at his food. 

It was great, really, to have friends. 

(Were they friends?)

=====

Midoriya planned on walking home alone that afternoon, but Uraraka, Iida, and Yaoyorozu surprised him with their appearances. 

"We wanted to walk to the train station with you!" Uraraka exclaimed, excited as always. Midoriya agreed with little hesitation. He wouldn't mind the company. 

Uraraka and Yaoyorozu were the main source of conversation, though Iida jumped in every once in a while to give his own opinion. It bounced around a few times, going from random topic to random topic with ease. Midoriya listened in curiously but quietly, taking in each fact that was passed. 

"So, when did you and Midoriya meet, Yaoyorozu?" Iida finally asked.

Yaoyorozu laughed bashfully. "We met at this highly-rated cafe, actually. I arrived at the height of business time, so I was forced to share Midoriya's table. I had been sitting there for about five minutes before he finally noticed me. He was too busy drawing some kind of hero bio at the time. And then we just... awkwardly talked, you could say? Since I was visiting the area, he recommended a few places around and offered to accompany me." 

"Aww," Uraraka said as she clapped her hands on her cheeks. "That's so cute! You guys are, like, the definition of what it means to be best friends." 

Iida nodded, though he seemed to take notice to a different detail. "I hadn't realized you were so artistic, Midoriya." 

And he really couldn't help it. He snorted, remembering the painting that he and Yaoyorozu attempted to do and failed miserably. He coughed to cover it up, though the damage had already been done. "I wouldn't call myself artistic. I can draw people, which is just about as far as my ability goes. Everything else? You might as well tell me to draw the Mona Lisa and then call the result "modern art," otherwise known as a white rabbit in a snowstorm." 

Yaoyorozu smiled. "Really, most modern art is just preschool-level art skills thrown on a canvas. What happened to the Renaissance art, or the Baroque art eras? Such artistic skill was highly refined back then."

Uraraka laughed. "Yeah, I know what you're talking about. But I have seen a couple that are... somewhat worth the title, yeah." 

Iida sighed. "Yes, but for paintings easily accomplished with little skill and talent involved, I find it unnatural for its worth to add up to the hundreds of millions in yen." 

Midoriya hummed. "Maybe we should sell that painting we did those years ago, Yaochan," he said. "We could get plenty of money out of it. It'd be a profit."

Yaoyorozu shook her head. "Zuku, my family is already financially well off. I don't need it."

Midoriya crossed his arms. "Well, then we could give the money to those in our class that need a little bit. U.A. is expensive, even if they cover almost all of the costs." 

"But it's already in my bedroom, hanging on my wall and everything. And I kind of like it."

"... Great, now I'd feel bad if I tried to convince you." 

Uraraka laughed. "I think that's the point, Midoriya." 

He sighed. "You're a manipulative beast," he said as he pointed at her in mock anger. 

The three of them laughed. He smiled. 

=====

Classes felt a little boring after Aizawa's little stunt. Of course, Midoriya'd rather take the boring over the chance of getting expelled, but sometimes he found himself drifting off. He'd always snap back to attention before he could go too far into nap mode, but it was still hard. 

It was after lunch of the second day, though, that interested him. Foundational Heroics. He had a faint idea of who was teaching it, but his knowledge had already been proven wrong on multiple occasions. Assuming what was going to happen before he knew for a fact that it would was a dangerous move from now on. 

As he waited for the minutes to crawl by, he let a few thoughts wash over him. He knew that the League of Villains attacked the class. He knew this, and he was totally aware of it. When was the question. 

From what he was told, the first invasion happened around three quarters through the year. Another happened in the beginning of the second, and then another shortly after. But Midoriya had no idea if this was true or not. For all he knew, his appearance could have caused a butterfly effect where everything was changed. At the moment, this didn't seem to be the case, but... 

He didn't know. He was going in mostly blind, hoping for the best. 

What if U.A.'s Judgement Day happens earlier than before?

And that was a terrifying thought. 

"I am here, coming through the door like a normal person!" 

Midoriya's head snapped up. All Might, in all his glory and height, was there, smiling with his never-ending smile. Seeing him in person was kind of intimidating, and the man was a lot taller in person than he could ever seem on TV. 

Midoriya flinched as everyone burst out into chatter, though he remained mostly calm. Of course, everyone would freak out. It was the number one hero, who wouldn't?

You. Shigaraki. All for One. 

Hm. 

All Might pointed to side of the classroom where briefcases shot up from the wall, numbers on each side. The man mentioned that they were to get their respective cases with their costumes inside before following him. Midoriya felt a combination of both nervousness and dread come over him as he thought about his quirk. Now that he was thinking about it, his design was probably terrible. Oh god.

That was the last time he was going to use Eishun as a reference.

=====

Jirou's classmates had great costumes, but the one that attracted her attention the most was the green-haired fellow who tied for last. Honestly, she was kind of jealous of his choice, and holy crap it looked good on him? 

She was pretty sure that only he could pull it off. And he pulled it off well. 

Now, don't get her wrong, she wasn't attracted to the male in the slightest. She meant the entire thing platonically. He was a pretty cool classmate, and he was smart too. But dang could he wear the suit. 

Compared to everyone else's, his was more functional, though it had its own sense of style. He was wearing a green jumpsuit with a collar that went several inches up his neck. It was tight in some areas, though looser in others so movement was easily and fully achieved. He kept the fingerless gloves he always wore, and on top of the suit was a gray vest that protected his chest. A dark red belt (with pockets and storage!) hung at his waist comfortably, while matching colored combat boots went halfway up his calf. He had a few highlights and little design additions to add a bit more color—and there was also a small face mask that hung around his neck—but other than that, there wasn't much to look at. 

Except for the sheaths he had strapped tightly along his upper legs. She had no idea what was inside, but it looked pretty cool. 

She approved. 

A part of her wondered if he had some kind of quirk that wasn't useful for heroics. It would explain Aizawa's reasoning from the previous day, and with the amount of stuff it looked like Midoriya was lugging around with ease, it seemed that he was sacrificing looks for practicality. Like it was required, almost. And that made her a little disappointed, because she had full confidence that his costume could have looked even better if he wanted it to. 

Though the Black Widow theme going on was undeniably attractive. 

=====

"Oh my god," Yaoyorozu breathed. "Midoriya, you look amazing." 

Midoriya glanced at her direction, looked her form up and down, and then nodded to her. "You do as well. I'm guessing the lack of fabric is so you can make items more comfortably?"

Yaoyorozu smiled awkwardly. "Yeah, but it's also to get me used to putting so much on show. I know that if I try to stay with a more conservative costume, chances are it'll get ripped and I'll be caught off-guard. Getting used to it now is preparing me for the inevitable, I suppose, until I can find a fabric that won't rip when I create stuff." 

Midoriya nodded. "I see what you mean. And this allows you to practice in a controlled environment." He looked awkwardly down at his own suit. "Mine's not so... creative, I guess." 

The girl with the pink skin—Ashido Mina—butted in. "I think it's cool! It's so much different from everyone's." Her expression grew determined as she faked a few punches in the air. "Plus, it's like you're going out to war, where you're going to kick everyone's butts!" 

Midoriya sweatdropped. Oh, if only you knew. 

It was a bit odd, seeing all of them in their colorful attires. They also seemed so... carefree. And it both pained him and made him happy. It was something that made him feel a little lighter too, though it also sent sharp waves of sadness through him as he thought about how much pressure would go on them soon. 

"Right, everyone, pay attention!" All Might called. Midoriya stopped himself from replying to the female, if only to give the man some time to finish getting his words out. "Today, we're going to be simulating criminal experiences. One thing that many news reporters and casts fail to mention is that most crime doesn't happen out in the open. In fact, a huge majority of it happens indoors, where criminals and villains are more likely at an advantage, or where they're less likely to get caught." 

Midoriya tilted his head as he spoke. The man was doing well for his first day of teaching. From what the rumors he heard said, the man was supposed to be a little lacking at the skill. He guessed he was wrong. 

"Sir, what activity are we going to do to today?"

"What are the rules?"

"How are we going to split up?" 

"Isn't my cape fantastic?"

All Might looked overwhelmed. 

... Yeah, he was starting to see where the rumors were coming from. 

"Please wait until I've finished speaking before you ask questions!" he stated, flustered. "The game is played with a pair of villains and a pair of heroes each. I will be splitting you twenty students into groups of two by drawing from a hat. Then each match up will be decided by the two groups I pick after that. Anything else?"

"Yes!" Iida raised his hand. "Should we really pick them at random? I think assigning roles according to our skills would be much more efficient." 

"I agree with you, Iida," Yaoyorozu interjected. "But the fact of the matter is, we don't know our skills or limitations quite yet. Going with a simpler design allows us to decide what we have and how to move on. Had this been on a later date, I think that would be a good choice." 

There were a few nodding of heads, though Midoriya frowned internally. 

"Actually, I disagree." And now all the attention was on him. Great. Why did he open his mouth? Of course he had to open his mouth. But why did he have to open his mouth like an idiot. "While assigning specific roles for us would give us a challenge to learn from, the basic lesson we're supposed to learn in this simulation is different. In almost all cases where heroes have to team up, they don't get to choose who accompanies them or who they're with. More times than not, you're going to be with a person you either don't know or don't care for."

"So you have to learn how to be a team player," a boy with red, spiked hair said, connecting the dots. It was Kirishima. "How to utilize what you have and what you don't to save the day." 

Sato Rikido spoke up. "Oh yeah, I remember this one time a hero got into an argument with an experienced one and caused them to fail their objective. It resulted in a few people getting killed, and it took the guy years to rebuild his reputation..." 

"Indeed!" All Might cut in, a mix between relief and desperation on his face. "This exercise is supposed to teach you how to be quick on your feet and improvise, how to work with advantages stacked against or with you by pure chance, and to push your arguments off to the side when on the field. Thank you, Young Iida, Yaoyorozu, Midoriya, Kirishima, and Sato! Your input is all greatly appreciated." 

From the corner of Midoriya's eye, he could see Kirishima blush to his roots and bream. 

All Might then started to pull out names. (Midoriya assumed that he had already prepared it beforehand.) "The first group is Ojiro and Koda. The second is Todoroki and Uraraka. Third group is Ashido and Hagakure. Fourth is Yaoyorozu and Denki. Fifth is Iida and Sato. Sixth is Midoriya and Tokoyami. Seventh is Bakugo and Kirishima. Eighth is Aoyama and Mineta. Ninth is Jirou Kyoka and Asui Tsuyu. Tenth is Shouji and Sero!" 

Midoriya blinked as his name was called out. Tokoyami Fumikage. He glanced around, and spotted a boy with dark feathers along his head. Tokoyami's red eyes looked slowly toward him, and he caught Midoriya under a tense gaze. 

"Now then, the first teams will be fighting in a specific building of my choosing not too far from here. Inside the building, a bomb is placed in a random location. Heroes will have fifteen minutes to find the bomb and touch it, a sign of deactivation. Villains will try to protect the bomb. Both sides can eliminate their targets by using their capture tape, removing them from the exercise. The rest of us will be watching and observing elsewhere. Remember though: if you go too far, I will stop you, and the practice will be canceled." 

When he received confirmation, he continued on. "Now then! First, the hero team: Yaoyorozu Momo and Kaminari Denki!" Yaoyorozu startled at her name, but she quickly schooled it into a professional expression. "And then the villain team: Jirou Kyoka and Asui Tsuyu!" 

Midoriya swallowed thickly. Was he coherent enough, he might have uttered a "good luck" to Yaoyorozu before she left. 

=====

Midoriya watched carefully as the fight continued on. Yaoyorozu and Kaminari entered through the front, Kaminari twitching with excitement while the former already had a small flash bomb formed in her hand. Yaoyorozu talked with Kaminari carefully, presumably explaining that Jirou's quirk would render a sneak attack useless. The boy nodded along, expression determined. 

Midoriya knew the battle was going to be hard. Asui and Jirou seemed to be formidable opponents. Jirou's sound-based quirk would definitely cause problems, while Asui's strength would be valuable in protection. Meanwhile, Yaoyorozu was adaptable, and had plenty of plans up her sleeve. Kaminari had a lot of power in his hands, literally, though Midoriya had no idea how well he would work in this kind of environment. 

Yaoyorozu's team barely managed to get the win, just ten seconds from the end of the time period. She managed to create distraction after distraction with gas bombs, sound disruptors, and darts. Jirou's sound amplification from her boots had caught Yaoyorozu off guard long enough for Asui to grab her around the waist with her tongue and slam her into the ground. Luckily for her, just before the girls wrapped the capture tape around her wrists, Kaminari jumped down from the vents in the ceiling and placed a hand on the paper mache bomb. It was a close call, but they won. 

Ojiro and Koda were the next villains, up against Hagakure and Ashido as heroes. Hagakure managed to capture Koda, who didn't notice her because of her invisibility. He was on an upper level to try to get a few birds' notice, away from his teammate. Meanwhile, Ashido fought with Ojiro in a back-and-forth fight. Ashido's maneuverability saved her from getting knocked out by Ojiro's powerful tail as she lured him into an intersection of a hallway. Hagakure, just arriving from her capture of Koda, managed to get behind Ojiro and tackle him. Ashido captured him right after as Hagakure kept him down. 

Bakugo and Kirishima were heroes after, and they faced off against the "villains" Iida and Sato. Bakugo, who ran ahead of Kirishima, sent an unassuming Sato through the outermost wall with a well-timed explosion as he was patrolling the floor. Sato got back up after some difficulty, and he swallowed several packs of sugar to gain muscle. They went into a full on brawl, knocking down several support systems in the building. At the same time, Kirishima found the bomb and approached Iida, though he couldn't get to it with Iida running it around. Eventually, though, Bakugo defeated Sato by exploding him several floors up and through the ceilings. Kirishima used the distraction to drag Iida away from the bomb. Kirishima called for Bakugo to touch the bomb so they could end the exam, but the ashy blonde refused. They got into a small, desperate argument as the two heroes started to get up; finally, Bakugo listened to the redhead and ended the exercise. 

After that, Aoyama and Mineta stood up to become the next heroes. Todoroki and Uraraka were the villains. 

It didn't last long. Todoroki ordered Uraraka to make herself float before freezing the entire building solid. The other two had barely enough time to even step inside before they were frozen, captured, and their turn was over. It was a stark contrast to the previous battle with its vicious and brutal fighting. 

And then the last game. Midoriya felt his nerves spike. 

"Heroes: Shouji Mezo and Sero Hanta!" Midoriya clenched his fist. 

"Villains: Tokoyami Fumikage and Midoriya Izuku!"

"Are you ready?" a voice came from beside Midoriya. He flinched before he looked to the owner, and his heart beat in his throat. 

"I'll try to be," he responded weakly. 

Tokoyami nodded shortly. "Do not worry. If our efforts are at our hardest, then that is surely a win nonetheless the results. If we fail, then we will learn. There is nothing but advantage coming from this." 

Midoriya breathed deeply. "So you're saying that if we fall, we can pick ourselves up, then."

"And flight will be ours," Tokoyami added. 

"Or we could run," Midoriya added. The other titled his head in question. "When you fly, you're out in the open. Ready to be shot down." Midoriya sighed lightly before twisting on his heel, heading toward the doorway. 

"Instead of wasting your feathers, run faster than the fastest predator."

Tokoyami, surprisingly, seemed to understand. 

=====

Midoriya and Tokoyami were standing in front of the bomb.

"I do not wish to underestimate your strength, but I do not think our combined power is enough to go head-to-head with the heroes," Tokoyami said with his arms crossed. "Shouji is a daunting opponent."

"Agreed." Midoriya reached inside his vest, pulling out a few slim objects of the same size and shape. He ran his thumb over the surface of one. "And Sero is a great fighter as well, if not for support alone. We need to separate them."

"Am I wrong to assume that you already have an idea?" Tokoyami asked.

Midoriya looked down at the small items in his hand. "No, you're not." He headed toward the doorway, his pace quick. "In case I don't make it back in time, protect the bomb. In the meantime, I'm going to set up what I have in mind. I'll fill you in while I work." He pointed to the earpiece they shared.

Tokoyami nodded. "Of course. You'll be swift?"

Midoriya smiled. "Swift as a rabbit," he promised, and then he was running down the hallways.

=====

Sero stood beside Shouji. He was a little intimidated by the taller male, but he didn't let it show as he smiled up at him. "Hey man, it's great to be working with you."

Shouji nodded. "And you as well."

Sero looked down at the floor plan. "Honestly, I'm a little worried about our competition. Tokoyami has the quirk with the shadow thing, right?"

Shouji nodded. "Yes, though I am not fully aware of its capabilities as of yet."

Sero sighed. "So don't do something stupid around that, and assume that it has a mind of its own and is ridiculously powerful."

A moment of silence fell over them.

"Midoriya is a wild card," Shouji finally said. "We don't know what he's capable of. He's already made himself to be an outcast among the rest of us with his reactions from our teachers alone. There's nothing wrong with him as a person, but I still have no idea why he was allowed into U.A. if he refuses to use his quirk; the specific treatment just raises questions."

Sero shrugged. "From what I heard from a few of my friends, not even he knows why. He's just been going with the flow."

Shouji hummed. "Whatever the case, don't let your guard down. Perhaps he has other skills where he shines in, and U.A. decided to take in a new kind of student." He faced toward the smaller boy. "My arms can warp into different body parts, such as eyes and ears, which I'll use to listen and look out for anything. My extra arms should also come into handy with physical altercations."

Sero nodded. "I can make a bunch of tape from my elbows. It's super durable and sticky."

Shouji looked at the boy's elbows, which were wide and oddly-shaped. "That should come in handy." Before he could continue, however, All Might's voice could be heard over the radio, indicating to them that the exercise had started.

"You should probably stay in front," Sero said as they entered the building. "You're bigger than me, and chances are you can see anything that attracts your eye better than I can."

Shouji nodded and listened to his teammate, forming a protective barrier in front of the smaller boy as they quickly moved forward. "I can hear some movement on the fourth floor," Shouji reported. After a moment of hesitation, he spoke up again. "There's more. It's quieter, though. They're either on the second or third, I can't tell."

"Maybe it's on the staircase?" Sero spoke up.

"Perhaps," Shouji said as they rounded a corner. "But what use would that be?"

Sero shrugged. "I'm not sure."

Silence fell over the two as they continued to make their way through the building. Most of Shouji's arms were used for hearing, both to listen out for any sound from their opponents and to use the echoes of their feet to maneuver around. They got to the first staircase without any trouble whatsoever.

"I'm going up first," Shouji said. "I want to make sure that there's nothing up here."

Sero nodded and stood at the base of the staircase while Shouji walked to the top.

"Something's wrong," he called after a moment of silence. "I can hear a faint... ticking. Somewhere beneath me." One of Shouji's arm peered over the railing, looking down at Sero and around the area.

Sero leaned forward to look up at Shouji. "What do you think it could—"

The eye in Shouji's arm widened. A loud beep sounded. Sero cut himself off, looking down at the stairs. And there, hidden behind a wooden panel jutting out ever so slightly, was a small, black object. A red dot glowed in the middle.

And then it exploded.

=====

"Sero and Shouji are separated," Midoriya reported over the comm as he looked at the small device on his arm. He left a few hidden cameras around the area, which took the form of small bugs. At first and tenth glances, you wouldn't be able to tell it was anything else otherwise. He watched as Sero coughed and hacked, waving the smoke from his face as he pushed himself up from off the ground. He stared in horror at the rocks and debris that covered the entire entryway from top to bottom.

Shouji was also surprised, though he didn't look as frantic as the other did. The two talked over their ear pieces, but soon Shouji left, going deeper into the building. Sero went the opposite way, starting to wander aimlessly.

"Are you almost done setting up the last of your preparations?" Tokoyami asked.

Midoriya looked up at the camera that the rest of his class was using to see the action from his crouched position. He frowned. "Yes. I'm on my way to the bomb now."

"Alright. I'll be back as soon as my duel is finished." The comm cut off, and Midoriya sighed shakily as he stood up. That first trick had very little chance of working, but he was happy that it did. It simplified things by a huge amount. He had set bombs on every one of the staircases in hopes that, if the first didn't work out, he'd be able to separate them then. And for... other reasons.

He sprinted with light feet back toward the room with the bomb inside. When he entered, he noticed that Tokoyami was gone.

Good.

Midoriya opened the front of his vest, looking over all the items stashed on the inside for the umpteenth time. He wanted to be prepared for when battle approached.

And then he stood in the middle of the room, waiting as the seconds passed with his heart beating in his ears.

Eleven minutes.

Ten minutes.

Nine minutes—

Heavy footsteps reached Midoriya's hearing. Shouji had arrived.

=====

Sero was biting his thumb as he ran through the hallways. He cursed as he came across yet another dead end. There was no helping it; he had already wasted several minutes, and he had no idea how much time he had left. At this point, he wasn't even going to be able to help his teammate win the game.

And if they lost because of him...

Sero twisted around, ready to run back down the hall. He froze.

Standing a few meters in front of him was none other than Tokoyami, arms crossed with dark red eyes scrutinizing him. Sero gulped as he noticed the calmness of his gaze and the darkness of his feathers. He hid his fear behind a smile, though, and raised his elbows.

"Eh, I was wondering if I was going to get any action today," he said, just to test the waters.

Tokoyami had the smallest smile present on his face. "Good. Because so was Dark Shadow."

Sero's blood ran cold, and he barely jumped away in time to dodge the huge, moving shadow that pounced where he just was. He felt his heart leap into his throat as the shadow crashed into the floor beneath him, splinters flying in all directions. He cursed internally.

Dark Shadow will be a problem. But if I can get Tokoyami!— He immediately jutted his elbows out as he landed, feeling the long strips of tape shoot from within his skin. They were just about to wrap around Tokoyami's chest when the sentient form cut straight through them, leaving them to flutter to the ground.

Sero cussed inwardly again, though he kept his smile bright on his face as he leaped forward, sending another barrage of tape. Tokoyami ducked under it this time, meeting him halfway as Dark Shadow swiped at Sero's body from the side. Sero hissed as the shadow's attack made contact and just barely managed to miss the punch that Tokoyami threw. He rolled back to his feet, knees protesting against the action as he stumbled in the motions. The scratches weren't deep, but they were painful enough to sting and make his smile grow weaker.

He straightened, ignoring the pain that radiated from his wounds. "You're going to have to do a little better than that," he taunted. In reality, he was just trying to buy himself a few more seconds to get his thoughts in order, but he hoped he wasn't so transparent.

Tokoyami stared at him coolly. "I hadn't been planning otherwise."

And Sero finally let his smile drop into solemn determination.

=====

"So you've arrived," Midoriya said.

"I'm going to assume that there's a reason you're not attacking me," Shouji ventured cautiously.

Midoriya plastered a smile onto his face as he raised his arm. In his hand, a small controller sat. Shouji's eyes widened, and he made to move forward as Midoriya pressed on one of the buttons. He was too late to intercept, however, and he braced himself as the building shook tremendously. Dust fell from the ceilings, sticking to their hair. It took several seconds for it to pass, and he glared at Midoriya.

"All the staircases have been destroyed," Midoriya explained as he pocketed the controller. "Don't worry, I didn't blow up any of the floors. Not yet, anyway."

Shouji's eyes narrowed. "What does that mean?"

Midoriya's grin grew wider. (It was an act, but that was part of the role of being the villain. Inside his chest, his heart beat frantically; all he wanted was for Shouji's eyes to get off of him and to escape somewhere quiet.) "I've set up dozens of bombs around the buildings. Try to move the bomb behind me, and you'll set them off automatically." He titled his head to the side as he rested a hand by his hip. It was the easiest way to ward off too much suspicion while getting the closest he could to the hostler attached to his belt. "Your ally is still stuck on the first floor, unfortunately. Even if you wanted to commit to some heroic action, he'd be stuck in the crossfire. The building would collapse on top of him and kill him as well."

Of course, this wasn't actually true. If Shouji went to move the bomb, it wasn't like everything would explode, even though he did set up fake "bombs" around the area. (He asked for some in case he would have to bluff his way through an altercation, not that it would work very well as a hero.) But, they were assuming the role of villain and hero, and that went beyond the simulation and the exercise. They had to pretend that that was a part of the act.

Shouji understood this as well. "If that's the case, then you and Tokoyami would die as well. I doubt you'd want that."

Midoriya tutted, and then he ran pinched fingers over his lips, pretending to seal them shut before locking it. "I don't think you understand villains, Shouji. Some will cry and bawl the minute a finger is raised against them." His grin grew devilish. If he was asked if it didn't bother him, he would be lying when he said no. "Others will go through hell and back if it means that nothing, not even the name of the group they're associated with, becomes known. It's part of the contract."

Shouji set his jaw, and he seemed to ponder for a moment. Midoriya hoped that he would surrender; then it would be left to Sero, who wouldn't be able to get him the win. Not to say that he couldn't defeat Tokoyami, because he could, but even if he did it would be useless. The timer would run out before Sero could find a way inside the room. (Hopefully. Unless he tried to crawl outside the building and through the window or through the vents into the room.)

Which would guarantee them the win. Shouji understood this as well.

Shouji stepped one of his feet back, flexing his arms with his movement. "Sero already told me that he'd be willing to be eliminated from the exercise if it came down to winning or losing," Shouji said.

Midoriya swallowed the bile that was rising in his throat, trying to block out the thundering in his ears as he copied Shouji's stance. Sero probably said it over their comm system when they were separated. "Judging by your position, I'm going to guess that you're not going to leave me unscathed."

Shouji's reply was to rush forward, and Midoriya had barely any time to duck as one of Shouji's fists came flying at his face. Despite his size, Shouji was remarkably swift, and Midoriya winced as Shouji swung another arm at him; it barely missed his jaw by a few centimeters. He slid backward, coming ever closer to the bomb as he bent his knees and dug his heels in. The friction quickly stopped him a few meters away from Shouji.

He couldn't let the other boy get any closer to the bomb. If he did, chances were that he would just touch it and end the exercise instead of fight with Midoriya; even if Midoriya said that he set up a trap, Shouji could pretend to deactivate them. He gritted his teeth at the thought before withdrawing the two cylinder-like weapons from the holsters on his thighs. He twirled the two in his hands, getting the feel of them before he actually tested them out. He was tempted to use the weapon at his belt, but he had a feeling that he'd use it for later instead.

Glancing down just long enough to set the electricity function on a mild shock—it was previously at one that could probably knock a person unconscious—he looked back up to duck beneath another swing and roll to the left to avoid two fists coming for his abdomen. He retaliated with a few sharp butts with the end escrima sticks, occasionally shocking Shouji lightly. He faked a swing to counter Shouji's punch so he could jump atop his shoulders. He knew that the boy had too much weight and muscle mass for his own body to have much impact, but he still used the surprise to kick him directly in the jaw before twisting back onto the ground behind him.

Unfortunately, since he couldn't stomach the thought of using Maiko's quirk, most of the fight was going to rely on hand-to-hand combat. It was most likely that the timer would run out before either of them made much progress on the other. While Midoriya wasn't nearly as strong as Shouji, he still had the speed and maneuverability to counteract that. And while Shouji was a powerhouse, the use of his arms was still a little clumsy—just enough that Midoriya could take advantage of it.

Once again, Midoriya leaped at Shouji, slipping between his outstretched arms as Shouji attempted to hit him. He landed a few more shocks but had to block with the weapons in his hands when Shouji tripped him up. Midoriya hissed as Shouji landed a punch on him, and he slid back with a closed eye. His first impulse was to cradle his arm over the wound, but he knew that that would cause him to reveal weakness—one that Shouji would most definitely take advantage of.

It was probably going to bruise and hurt later, but at the moment it was merely a dull throb—which was most likely due to the fact that the adrenaline was still kicking through him. He'd definitely regret further aggravating it later, though, and that was something he was not looking forward to.

(A part of him whispered that it wouldn't hurt so bad. Not nearly as much as other pains he went through, anyway.)

"You're still standing," Shouji stated. Midoriya wasn't sure if he was supposed to be surprised or if it was something else, but Midoriya went along with it. Anything to stall and let the clock count down.

"People are always making comments like that. I wonder if it's my small stature."

Shouji stretched his arms, moving them around him in a way that made him seem bigger. An intimidation factor. "Partly. But I think it's because you look like a wind could blow you over."

Midoriya clucked. "Fun fact, there's this place in the Hawaiian islands where winds get up to sixty miles per hour, sometimes seventy, every so often. I'm sure you'd be surprised how often people get knocked over."

Shouji, to his credit, didn't even blink. "Of course you'd somehow be able to turn it back into your favor," he muttered. Midoriya opened his mouth to make a reply, but Shouji ran back at him. His teeth clicked as he shut his mouth quickly, and he took a few steps back because Shouji was moving really fast now, and wait, was he even slowing down?

A tackle.

Shoot.

Midoriya gritted his teeth as he tightened his grip on the escrima sticks. His hands were sweating beneath his gloves, but he ignored the sticky feeling as he bent his knees. Shouji would probably push him into the ground, which was something he'd rather avoid, but...

The bomb was only a few steps away from behind him. Okay. So no dodging. Steeling his resolve, he locked himself into place as Shouji swung an arm at him, and Midoriya ducked—

Shouji sidestepped Midoriya, easing past him as he continued to run. Midoriya watched with wide eyes. Shit. He twisted the metal piece in his hand and jutted it into Shouji's side, who stumbled. Shouji turned back to him, panting.

One, Midoriya counted as Shouji's upper left arm shot out toward him. Five. He slid back to avoid it. Six. Four. Two. Midoriya used his escrima stick to block those arms, then twirling them in both hands. Shouji's barrage left him open, so—

Wait. Where was the third arm?

Midoriya was about to turn his head when a blinding strike hit the side of his skull. He went tumbling, crashing to the ground and rolling several times until, a few meters away, he stopped. His tongue, which he accidentally bit, started to ooze blood into his mouth as he held a shaking hand to his head. His vision swam, everything woozy as vertigo struck. Stars bounced in his eyes, and he fruitlessly tried to blink them away.

Judging by Shouji's expression, he hadn't meant to hit him that hard.

He tightly held onto the side of his skull as he shakily pushed himself up with a trembling forearm. He felt himself sway to the side as he watched Shouji turn.

"Shit, I have to end the exercise," the boy muttered. 

Midoriya blinked blearily. Removing his hand from the side of his head, he placed it at his belt. Hesitation overcame him as he tried to sort through his muddled thoughts, which made it increasingly hard to understand what was going on. It took him a second to come to a decision, and he opened the flap at the holster on his belt with uncooperative fingers. He slid the gun-like piece of metal (though, if he were honest, it looked less like a gun and more like a barcode scanner) from it and aimed it at Shouji. It was supposed to help with his aim, though that was slightly difficult with his hazy vision. He narrowed his eyes, trying to steady his aim as Shouji reached to touch the bomb.

The contact with his hand would allow him to create chains from the metal. As long as he concentrated, the chains would burst from the front instead of the handle, though it only worked because the item was metal throughout.

Except...

"It was worth it."

He couldn't feel the tingling in his fingers.

He couldn't do it.

And then the window shattered. In came Tokoyami and Dark Shadow, the latter flying toward a paralyzed Shouji as Tokoyami ran toward the doorway, where a panel of controls sat beside it. He flicked off half of the lights with one swipe of his hand. Immediately, the room was cast in long, dark shadows as Tokoyami's quirk grew in size. In the shadow's hands was the capture tape Tokoyami had on him, and Dark Shadow wrapped it around Shouji's arms.

For some reason, the latter seemed oddly complacent. Almost as if he wanted the exercise to end as soon as possible.

Tokoyami was there, too. He immediately put himself at Midoriya's side, taking his head in his hands so he could peer at the wound. "How perilous." He knocked Midoriya's weapon out of his grasp gently before taking one of his hands with his own (which was incredibly warm) and placing it on the side of his head. "Keep your hand there."

Midoriya blinked slowly. He didn't understand, everything was too blurry and he had no idea why he would even say that. Somewhere, in the background, he heard All Might announce that Shouji was captured and the exercise was over. "I thought 'ou're only suppose' to put pressure when there's 'lood involved."

Shouji winced. "Yeah, well, there's blood involved. A lot of it."

Tokoyami glanced back at him. "In what circumstances could this have happened?" As he spoke, he positioned Midoriya so he was sitting with his legs splayed. Midoriya felt arms slide under his shoulders and knees, and then he was rising from the ground.

Shouji frowned. "He managed to keep up with all of my arms in our fight. I had to push myself to go faster so I could land a hit, but I hadn't expected that one to actually land."

Midoriya blinked. Shouji sounded incredibly guilty. He prepared to reassure him that he was fine, but a wave of nausea came over him and he had to clamp his mouth shut. Tokoyami said something to him, but it was muffled and he couldn't make out anything more than "Don't... that."

He was half-tempted to tell him to let him down, to at least let him walk on his own. He was definitely nauseous, and he did not want to throw up on either of them. Of course, walking on his own would definitely cause even more problems; he'd probably get lost if Tokoyami wasn't willing to help him out, and he'd be slow getting to the entrance.

Speaking of help, why was Tokoyami helping him? Was it because they were teammates, and it was an obligation? No, wait, this was probably a morals thing, right? Help out the weak and those that need it? Yeah. That was probably half the reason why his classmates were even trying to become heroes. Of course.

"Is it normal for people with head injuries to mutter like this?"

"My knowledge hasn't compassed such information. My assumption is going to be yes, but the context of his muttering is what worries me."

"You can understand him?"

"No. I believe he's speaking in a different language."

"I wasn't aware he was bilingual."

"Neither was I."

A sudden, bright light hit Midoriya's eyes, and he groaned as he squinted. The light burned his eyes, and it made them water.

"Sensitivity to light. He probably has a concussion."

"Dark Shadow, hover over him."

There were blurred shapes now. Colors invaded his vision and blended together in huge swirls of messy pictures. Were those people? His vision warped even further. 

Oh yeah. He was definitely going to throw up. 

=====

When Midoriya woke up again, he was sitting in a bed with pristine white sheets and bandages wrapped tightly around his head. Stray pieces of hair fell into his vision, and he attempted to blow them out of his face. He was only slightly successful, but it was good enough. 

He moved his head slightly, testing to see how much pain he was in. There was a small ache there, though it was easily bearable. He glanced at the elderly woman at a desk in the room, humming lightly to herself as she filed out some paperwork. Her graying hair was pulled into a tight bun, and her wrinkles were in full show. They weren't as deep as the time of Uraraka's... death, but they were still there. She looked tired. 

He was about to shake his head to ward off those thoughts, but stopped himself last second. Yeah, that didn't sound like a good idea. Instead, he pulled his arms so they were closer to his chest and then pushed himself upward. His head pounded with the movement, but it was very minimal pain. It was probably due to Recovery Girl's quirk. It was some kind of healing-based one, right?

"What on earth do you think you're doing?" 

Midoriya blinked and glanced over in the woman's direction, who somehow managed to appear by his bedside without his noticing. "S-siting up?" he said weakly with wide eyes. 

The woman huffed and shook her head. "You kids are so reckless these days," she muttered. Then, louder, she said, "You got a head injury in the exercise. Luckily for you, there was no permanent brain damage, though the trauma to your skull left a bruise on the bone. Shouji's punch was relatively weak, but be glad that he and Tokoyami rushed you here. Any later and we might have had problems." 

She turned and waddled away from him. "You were bleeding a bit from the head, but we didn't have to give you a transfusion since the blood loss wasn't terrible. However, your teachers will report to me if they think something is off, and we will give you one then. Capeesh?" 

Midoriya blinked but nodded. He immediately stopped when his injury throbbed. "Yes ma'am." 

Recovery Girl grumbled something under her breath. "Good. You're going to be a little tired. My quirk speeds up the natural healing processes of the human body, though it zaps your energy. Tell your friends or teachers if you need a snack or something." She waved her cane. "Now get out before you miss anymore class. And don't you dare think about skipping." 

Midoriya wanted to nod so, so badly. Instead, he murmured a quick "Yes, thank you" before standing up. His legs were sore, but it wasn't too bad to put his weight on. He shuffled toward the doorway and opened it, ready to faceplant into his bed as soon as possible and take a nap. 

Except there were people sitting outside the room. 

Specifically, Shouji, Sero, and Tokoyami. 

Sero noticed him first, and he leaped up from his chair. "Oh gosh, you're awake! Are you okay? Are you feeling all right?"

Midoriya felt his shoulders tense up as his ears flushed pink. "Yeah, I'm... fine." 

"Are you sure?" It was Shouji speaking now. "I hit you pretty hard, which I must sincerely apologize for. I hadn't realized how much strength I was putting in my punches until it was too late." 

Midoriya felt his face burn as he turned away. There were too many people radiating kindness, aimed at him, at one time. "Y-you're fine. I-it wasn't your fault."

Shouji seemed to want to argue, but Tokoyami placed a hand on his broad shoulder. "If you're sure," he interjected. "For now, shall we proceed back to class? We wouldn't want to miss anymore than we have to." 

"Oh yeah," Sero said, his grin growing strained. "Do you think Aizawa is going to be mad at us?"

"That would depend on the circumstance." 

Midoriya tried to smile. "Maybe I can convince him?" he asked softly. 

Sero stared for a second before turning to the other two. "I think that he could convince anyone to do anything." 

Tokoyami seemed solemn as he nodded. "Dark Shadow has already taken a liking to him. I wonder if he will leave my soul for his." 

Midoriya paled. "Y-you're joking, right?" 

Tokoyami didn't say anything after that, instead turning on his heel. He walked toward their classroom, Shouji beside him while Sero stood by Midoriya's side. The lanky teen helped him whenever a spell of dizziness came over him, and they finally made it to the door with the huge red A on it in one piece. 

(Midoriya tried not to let his cheeks redden as he remembered his dream from so many years ago, where Sero snuck into his bedroom and slept with him. Although it was a friend thing, he still couldn't look the other male in the eye. They were barely acquaintances, and yet the urge to do the friendship things was incredibly strong. 

Well, that just made him sound weird and pathetic.) 

When they opened the door, Midoriya was immediately crowded by his classmates. 

"Jeez, you were so cool back there!"

"Yeah, and you didn't even use any quirk or anything, just your skills!"

"Unless he did use his quirk and it was just unnoticeable." 

"But you were so cool with those weapons! What are they called, escrima sticks?" 

"Yeah, where'd you learn to fight?" 

Screw embarrassment. He glanced over at Yaoyorozu, who was close by him. "Mom, help," he begged with wide eyes. 

Yaoyorozu let out a sharp exhale, as if laughing, and tried to suppress her grin as she stepped away from the group and stood in front of him. "Please give him some space. Your volume isn't helping his head injury." 

"Oops," Kirishima said. "Sorry, Midoriya. Hope you feel better! You were super manly out there." 

And then the crowd sort of dispersed, and Midoriya held onto Yaoyorozu's arms tightly from behind her. He peeked out from over her shoulder. "Thank you." 

Yaoyorozu laughed. "You're entirely welcome, Zuku." 

Off to the side, Tokoyami stared at Midoriya, something hidden roiling in his gaze. 

=====

"Midoriya, stay. I want to speak with you." 

This had to be the third time that this had happened, and Midoriya was washed with a sense of repetition. Was every teacher going to do this to him? 

Midoriya stayed, however, just like Aizawa asked. He watched as his friends left the classroom, closing the door behind them. Yaoyorozu sent him a confused look just before she went, but he shook his head. He had no idea. 

When it was just them two, Aizawa sighed. He pulled up his sleeping bag, stepping one foot inside it before he began to speak. "I didn't expel you because I know there's something about your quirk that's different from anything I've seen," he started. "And you're talented. I saw your battle with Shouji today. You're off to an excellent start." 

So where's the but?

"However..." 

Oh. There it is. 

"I am not going to train someone who is not willing to use their quirk." He began to zip up the yellow sleeping bag while staring at Midoriya in the eye. "You're good, but you're not great. Were you hero material already, I would have been fine. But you're not, and weaknesses—such as your unwillingness to show me your quirk—will be taken advantage of in the field." 

"And what if my quirk's unsuitable for being a hero?" Midoriya asked. 

Aizawa tilted his head. "I think you'd be surprised how many uses a quirk can have," he finally said. "And anyway," he stated as he turned away, "I doubt it's "bad" at all. A colleague of mine told me the exact opposite." When Midoriya made no comment to that, he sighed. "You have until two days from now to tell me what your quirk is. It'll be at the end of our field trip. If you can't tell me and prove to me what it is, I'll expel you. Understood?" 

Midoriya nodded. "Understood." 

Aizawa didn't respond to that, instead curling up into his sleeping back and hiding beneath his desk. Midoriya turned to leave, though he let a little smile appear on his face. 

This was a man who expelled an entire class within the first day because he didn't see any potential. And yet, here he was, getting a second chance. 

That felt... kind of nice. 

But a field trip, so soon after school started? That sounded pretty cool. Most likely, Aizawa wouldn't announce it until tomorrow, either early in the morning or right before school ended. 

Huh. He wondered what it would be like. 

(Terror. Pain. Fear. And agony. Lots and lots of agony.)

=====

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Maiko. She watched as her father tortured her sister. She listened as everyone praised her for her quirk. 

"You will be the next king," said her father. 

And Maiko hated it. 

She bid her time, however. She let the seconds wash by and age her bit by bit. She waited patiently for her time to strike. 

She infiltrated the rebellion with the help of All for One, though he did not know her true intentions. 

No one did. 

No one ever would. 

She found Daizō. He had brilliant bright eyes and a small light in his heart. He was warm, so, so warm. 

"Maiko," said Daizō, "why are we training?"

She cried herself to sleep when she answered him. 

She kneeled and took his hands into hers. "You're the only thing that matters, Daizō." 

She cried when he grew cold, cold, cold. 

"Maiko," said Daizō, "I'm not a bad person, am I? The council says I'm a bad person." 

Maiko smiled and tried not to let her tears fall. "Of course you're not, don't listen to them. You're definitely not a bad person." Not anymore, at least.

And she cried, and she cried, and she cried. 

You're the only thing that matters. 

She watched as the rebellion was cut down. She raised it, fed it, let it grow, almost like a pig getting ready to be slaughtered. 

It was for the better, though. 

No one knew her intentions. 

No one ever would.

Ev

e

r

yt

hin

g

i

s

m o

r

eth

a

ni

tse

ems.

=====

Once upon a time,

Maiko was the good guy. 

But how is this possible, 

When she was so diabolical,

In 

E-very 

Way?

=====

Translation:

Usually, when I use Seiya's quirk, I get headaches. Terrible ones, really. I also get rashes along my arms, which will itch terribly. Creams and water doesn't help, either, which really sucks. But it's weird, because...

Because I didn't get a headache this time. 

In the time that I'm using his quirk, my stomach does some kind of... flips? No, that's not right. How else would I describe it without it being entirely unsettling?... It kind of feels like someone's grabbed my stomach by both ends and is continuously twisting it; the farther I use it, the tighter it gets, and eventually it just rips and that's that. I can't use it anymore in that one time period. 

And I got that feeling, just a bit ago. It was milder than usual, and the pain seemed distant. But it didn't make any sense whatsoever, because I didn't get any headaches. I didn't use it. Time didn't change at all for me. Which... doesn't add up. Why would I feel as if I was going through time if I didn't experience the symptoms? 

Hey, idiot, this is future-you speaking. God, the answers are right there.  If time changed, and yet you didn't go back in time, then it obviously had to be someone else. 

So who's the someone else?

(I know the answer to this one, too. And trust me, it's a fucking trick question. Who the hell would guess                    )

Chapter Text

Translation: 

You know, I really liked Seiya. Which sounds kind of obvious, I know, but he was such a great person, and he had so much character. I remember when we were little, when I was around five or six, I found a single daisy by his "house." It was the first flower I had ever looked at in my life, and it enamored me. God, it was just so beautiful to me; I had never seen one before. 

I remember I picked it up, and I ran to my bedroom and set it in a glass I found in our small kitchen. (I lived with Maiko at the time.) Everyday, I would sacrifice some of my rationed water to try and give it a fresh cup. Maiko eventually found out, and she told me to put my needs first. 

But I didn't really care. I loved that flower so much. 

When it started to wilt, I called Seiya over and told him about it. I was super sad, because I wanted it to last forever. And Seiya, being the best person in the world, plucked the flower out of the glass and held it in his hands. And I watched in awe as the browned petals turned back into its pale white, and the stem grew lighter and stronger. 

Despite Seiya's quirk having terrible backlash—he got a serious nosebleed from doing even simple things like that—he still did it for me. And he did it for me everyday, turning the flower back to when it was at its full bloom. 

When he died, I... I tried to save the flower, you know? But, eventually, I decided that it would be better not to. In time for his funeral, I pulled the flower out of its glass and waited for everyone to leave. I set it on his grave, and, by then, only two petals were left. 

I'd like to think that they represented us two. Just the both of us, sitting next to one another, waiting for the time where we would fall. 

I said my goodbyes and left. I tried to ignore the pain and his absence for a long period of time. It took a while to recover. And when I came back a few months later, there were three daisies there. 

All of them were in full bloom.

=====

Midoriya knew that love wasn't a bad word. He used it himself periodically, and sometimes even flippantly. 

But other times, the word made him cringe. Hisashi's words would come to mind, and he would shudder. Some days, the word felt like nails down a chalkboard. It would usually be because of some kind happening through the day. Maybe he'd read a part of a book where a character reminded him too much of Hisashi, or maybe someone with yellow-orange eyes would bump into him. Or, perhaps, he'd see a villain fight where loved ones were hurt. Sometimes, it was simple things like seeing a heart carved into locket, or someplace where all eyes could see it. 

And then there were the times where he simply woke up and hated the word. He'd get himself prepared to go to school, listening to Present Mic on the radio when the word would come up. A song choice, perhaps, or maybe Present Mic would be gossiping about the latest hero couple. And Midoriya would turn right around the shut the radio off, continuing his routine in silence. 

"Love" wasn't an appealing word to him. 

Safe was another word he despised. This one came from his birth mother, though. He could sometimes hear her whisper into his ear, as she cradled him in her arms, "We're going to be okay. I'm going to keep you safe."

He hated that word. He hated how many times he was lied by it, how misleading it was. He hated that every time it was spoken, every time it was a promise, his safety was ripped from his hands and torn to pieces. 

But most of all, he hated protect. He loathed the job, the assignment, the duty he was chained to. Protect them, protect them, protect them, protect them, their protection means more than you, you have to protect them or you're nothing—

Midoriya felt the ceramic cup in his hand crack. He sucked in a deep breath, trying to calm the waves of detestation that burned in him. He set the cup down, letting both his hands rest on the side of the counter as he set his forehead on the cold surface. He counted his breaths, holding every third one to calm down. He was alright. He wasn't angry. He was fine. 

He was a little late for his piano lessons, but the woman there didn't seem to mind too much. If she noticed his shaking hands and constant slip-ups, she didn't comment on it. 

She also refrained from using the word love. He wondered when she managed to figure that one out. 

=====

There were news reporters crowded around the entrance to U.A. Midoriya swallowed the bile in his throat, clutched his stress ball tightly, and dove into the group, pushing people aside as gently as he could. They didn't reciprocate his carefulness, however, and more times than one they roughly grabbed a hold of him by his arm or shoulder. 

His skin crawled. His hand was starting to grow numb, and he could barely twitch his fingers as he shuddered. There were too many people here, too many crowding around him—

There was a microphone shoved into his face. 

"Is it true that All Might is teaching your class?" 

Midoriya felt the urge to throw up. His face felt hot while his throat was tight, and his stomach curled nauseatingly. There was a burning feeling in the back of his throat, refusing to be relieved by weak swallows. 

Another microphone was placed directly in front of his mouth. "What is All Might like as a teacher?"

Another microphone. "What kind of class does he teach, exactly?"

Midoriya's vision began to swim. The urge to vomit was greater than ever before. 

"Forgetting everything about him being a teacher, what is he like as a person? Does he have any particular hobbies that you might want to share?"

His heart pounded in his ears. 

"Is All Might going to move farther away from heroics and into the teaching job?"

His throat tensed. 

"Do you think that U.A. has been on his mind for a period of time, now?" 

He puked, directly over the microphones. There was a moment of silence before some of the news reporters shrieked, and some dropped the devices before holding their hands out in disgust. Others made guttural noises of revulsion. One man in the background turned and held a hand over his mouth, trying not to get affected at the scene. 

Midoriya felt his ears burn as he looked away from the scene while simultaneously trying to ignore the taste in his mouth. Everything was still unclear, however, and he felt himself sway slightly. Even more of the attention was on him than before. 

He was about to turn around and walk right back home when a hand rested on the back of his shoulder. (Midoriya liked that hand—it wasn't sitting on top his shoulder as if to push him down, but rather along his shoulder blade with a gossamer touch; part of Midoriya wondered how the person's grip could be so feather-light when he seemed so gruff.)

"You should all be ashamed of yourselves," Aizawa growled dangerously. "Stop acting like whiny, spoiled brats who wanted a phone and didn't get the exact version you wished for. Ask for All Might on your own time or when you seem him, but don't you dare corner Yuuei students. Especially not first years, who are dealing with their own problems." 

His glare was more than venomous. In fact, Midoriya would've thought that his quirk was heat vision with how heated his gaze was. (Pun?) 

Aizawa sent them one last sneer before lightly pushing Midoriya along with him, and the crowd parted like the red sea. Once the two crossed the U.A. barrier—which those without passes were excluded from—Aizawa turned to another student who Midoriya hadn't noticed before. 

"Kirishima, take him to Recovery Girl's office," he said. "Stop by the class on your way there; tell them I'm going to be a few minutes late. Put Iida in charge, and then tell the rest of your classmates that they ought to listen to him or face the dire consequences that is my wrath." 

At Kirishima's nod, Aizawa started to walk away, though not before Midoriya caught him muttering something along the lines of "stupid press can't keep to their damn selves." 

"You okay there, dude?" Kirishima finally spoke up as he pressed his hand fleetingly against his arm. 

Midoriya looked away, hiding further into his scarf. "Yeah, I-I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to bother you, I just... get really nauseous when I'm under a lot of stress." 

Kirishima sent him a bright grin. "Nah, it's all good! And really, I don't blame you for any of that. Those reporters were being kind of unmanly like that, you know? They shouldn't be putting that kind of pressure on some of us. And most of their questions were ridiculous." 

Midoriya sent him a weak smile. 

Most of their walk was spent in silence, even after the huge uproar that occurred when Kirishima relayed the rules to the class. Kirishima did strike up a few conversations, though they ended awkwardly when Midoriya had no idea how to respond. 

Recovery Girl wasn't too happy to see him there again so soon, but she was slightly more sympathetic to his cause when Kirishima came to his defense and explained the ordeal about the press. She shook her head and clicked her tongue before handing him a glass of water and a small pill. 

"It should help calm down your stomach and make you feel a little better. Don't chug the water, though, okay? We don't want you to throw up again."

Midoriya wanted to tell her that she didn't have to get him a pill, that he could bear through the first few hours, but he had a feeling she wouldn't let him go. Kirishima watched as he swallowed his pill with water, and then he proceeded to wash his mouth out in one of the bathrooms. The red-headed male continued to smile brightly the entire way. 

"Here," he eventually said when they were getting close to the classroom, "it's my phone number. I wanted to exchange numbers with you before, but I couldn't get you alone, so..." He rubbed the back of his head before handing it shyly to Midoriya, whose cheeks turned pink. 

"O-oh, here," he fumbled as he tried to find his phone. He stumbled in his typing as he made Kirishima a contact onto his phone before sending him an experimental text message. Kirishima's phone vibrated, and his face brightened. 

"Thanks so much, Midoriya!" he exclaimed. "Now, how about we get to class before Aizawa-sensei kills us?" 

(Turned out that Aizawa's "quick talk" with Principal Nedzu went on for much longer. Though the man had hoped it would be for only a few minutes expressing his concern about the press, the mouse-bear-rodent thing decided to make it an entire lesson. Honestly, he should have known better.)

=====

"Today we're picking class representatives." 

Midoriya had approximately two seconds to cover his ears before his entire class burst into cheers, everyone trying to one-up the other. There were several exclamations of those who wanted to become class president, and Midoriya shrunk into himself as the noise grew steadily louder. 

"Everyone, please quiet down!" Iida was standing up as well, his arms moving up and down robotically. "I believe we should make a vote!" 

Asui placed a finger by her chin. "But we barely know one another, kero. We'd all vote for ourselves." 

"That's true," Iida said, "but that just means that whoever gets the most votes made an impression on everyone!" 

Yaoyorozu hummed. "Well, maybe we should at least spend a little more time getting to know one another. At least with what little time we have left of this class period, if that's okay with Aizawa-sensei?" 

A small noise came from the yellow lump at the front of the classroom. "I don't care. Just get a move on with it and tell me the results when you're done." 

Yaoyorozu brightened, and she clapped her hands. "Well, it would be best to move out chairs in a circle, correct? That way, we can all look at one another and speak freely." 

"That sounds like a great idea, Yaoyorozu!" Iida said, and he immediately started to push the desks off to the side of the room. A few jumped in on the chance, and Midoriya squawked as someone moved his desk out from underneath him. Without warning, Shouji picked up his chair—with him in it, mind you—and placed him in an empty spot in the forming circle. 

He was a little frazzled at it, and he thanked every god above that he had enough balance to not fall off. Soon, he was joined with the rest of his classmates who sat in their respective chair. 

"Well, I suppose that we should start off with introductions, shall we?" Yaoyorozu said. "We'll go clockwise. My name is Yaoyorozu Momo, and my quirk is Creation. I can create objects using the fat cells from my body." 

Ashido, who sat to her left, continued. "My name is Ashido Mina, and my quirk is Acid! It's exactly what it sounds like!" 

Then it was a boy with an oddly-shaped head next. He seemed incredibly nervous as he began to sign in letters quickly, and a little sloppily from his apprehension. Silence followed him. 

Yaoyorozu, with her brows drawn, turned to Midoriya, who hunched his shoulders at the sudden attention. "Do you know what he said?" 

Midoriya blinked and then shook his head. He turned back to the anxious boy and signed, carefully, "Can you repeat that, slower this time?"

The boy's face brightened immensely. "My name is Koda Koji. My quirk is Anivoice. It allows me to communicate with animals." 

Midoriya translated it orally, before adding to him, "It's nice to meet you, Koda." 

Koda smiled shyly back at him. 

"Todoroki Shouto," another boy said monotonously. His hair was split down the middle, white on his right with red on his left. His left eye was a bright blue, while his right was a steely gray color that showed no emotion. "Half-Cold, Half-Hot." 

Kirishima was after him, though he was much more excited than the previous two. "My name is Kirishima Eijiro, and my quirk is Hardening! My skin can become so hard that I can break through concrete! It's a pleasure to meet all of you." 

"My name is Hagakure Toru!" She waved her arm from side to side, though Midoriya could only see it because of her uniform. "My quirk is pretty self explanatory. It's Invisibility!"

"Shouji Mezo," the many-armed male said next. "My quirk is called Dupli-Arms. The tentacles attached to my arm can replicate any other part of my body. They look like extra arms from a distance." 

Another female was next, and she had shorter hair with chopped bangs. "My name is Jirou Kyoka. My quirk is called Earphone Jack, which allows me to pick up vibrations and sounds. They can also channel my heartbeat into plugged objects, which can deal an immense amount of damage to them." 

Next was Satou. "I'm Satou Rikido, and my quirk is Sugar Rush! The more sugar I eat, the more muscle mass I produce! Afterward, however, I crash and get super tired." 

Ojiro sent them all a smile. "My name is Ojiro Mashirao. My quirk is Tail, which is a powerful extra limb that can take out grown men or women easily." 

Bakugo was after, though he rolled his eyes. "Tsk. I'm Bakugo Katsuki. My quirk's Explosion." 

"Oh, how do you create them?" Yaoyorozu asked, excited. 

Bakugo growled. "Why the hell would you like to know? It's none of your damn business!" 

"He sweats nitroglycerin," Midoriya and Kirishima said at the same time. They looked at one another in surprise before Kirishima burst out laughing. Midoriya hid his face in his scarf, trying to hide his smile from view. 

"The fuck!?" Bakugo said, seething. Everyone ignored him, however, and continued with their explanations. 

"My name is Asui Tsuyu, though I would like it if you all called me Tsu," she said. "My quirk is Frog. Basically, I have all the characteristics of a frog. I can jump extremely high, and my tongue can stretch long as well. Also, I'm able to spit out a mild toxin, while I can throw up my stomach." 

This got a few looks of both awe and disgust, though Midoriya was leaning much toward the former. As he looked up at the ceiling, he let the words slip from his mouth. 

"Can you throw up at will, or is it something that has to be forced to be done? And how high exactly can you jump? And is your tongue durable, or is it as sensitive as others might be? Using your tongue to capture or grab onto things is incredibly useful, but if you're not tolerant to pain, you lose a lot of ability. And why is your quirk so diverse? I've never seen anything like it. And your quirk can't be based on one frog breed, because then you wouldn't have all of those skills. So do your parents both have different frog-based quirks? That would make a lot of sense, right?" 

"Zuku." Oh, that was Yaoyorozu. 

"Hm?" he said, still not looking down. 

"I love you, and all of those questions are very interesting. But let's wait until everyone else gets finished, alright?"

Midoriya sighed and finally looked down, ignoring how everyone was staring at him. He pretended that he wasn't currently the center of attention. "Okay," he said dejectedly. 

"Well, I suppose that I am on stage next, hm?" A boy with light blonde hair stood up. "Bonjour, mes amies. My name is Aoyama Yuga! My quirk is the magnificent Navel Laser. I can fire sparkly laser beams from my stomach, which is controlled by my belt!" He bowed before taking a seat. 

After him, Uraraka smiled and spoke. "I'm Uraraka Ochako! My quirk is Zero Gravity. Anything I touch will have its gravitational pull removed. I can remove the gravity of an object up to two tons in weight." Someone whistled in surprise, and she rubbed the back of her head abashedly. "Whenever I use it too often, though, I get super nauseous." 

Iida stood up after her. "My name is Iida Tenya! My quirk is Engine; it allows me to run at an incredible speed." 

A small boy spoke up next, and he stood... on his chair. "I'm Mineta. Mineta Minorou. My quirk's Pop Off, which allows me to—"

"Yeah, okay, we heard you at the beginning of the year," Kaminari interjected. "You can create sticky balls, whatever. I'm Kaminari Denki, and my quirk is Electrification. I can emit up to 1.3 million volts, though my wattage limit causes me to go into a haze after." 

Afterward, Sero was up. He sent a brilliant smile to everyone in the room. "I'm Sero Hanta." He jutted a thumb in his direction. "My quirk is called Tape. From my elbows, I can release large amounts of sticky and durable tape." He winked at everyone. "Call me if you need a fixer-upper. My quirk has even held a broken-down car together."

This got a few chuckles from everyone. 

Suddenly, all eyes were on Midoriya. He coughed awkwardly before speaking. "My name is Midoriya Izuku." He felt an awkward pause where everyone was expecting him to explain his quirk. He took in a deep breath. "I have a metal-based emitter quirk." 

This got Yaoyorozu's—and anyone else who paid attention and knew that Midoriya's quirk was unknown to even the staff at U.A.—scrutiny. She looked at him for a second before clearing her throat, nodding to the boy sitting next to Midoriya. Which happened to be Tokoyami. 

He seemed a little uncomfortable with everyone's gazes on him, but he continued on with little hesitation. "I am Tokoyami Fumikage." He pointed to the shadowy form hiding underneath his chair. "That is Dark Shadow, coincidentally the name of my quirk. He is a sentient form that does as he pleases, despite my many justifications why he mustn't perform any practical jokes on others." 

Dark Shadow groaned. "You're so mean. I just did one prank. One."

"And you terrified a group of small children into wetting themselves," he countered. "And who got in trouble for that?"

"Oh come on, it was funny!" 

"I have my reservations." 

Yaoyorozu chuckled before taking the stage again. "So, what would we like to ask next?" 

"Oo, oo!" Hagakura jumped up. "We should ask each other why we want to be heroes!" 

Midoriya felt his stomach clench as the idea was agreed upon by many. He listened on with nervousness as people exclaimed why they were at U.A., and what made them want to do this job. Some of them were less selfless as others—Bakugo wanted to be "number one", while Mineta wanted to gain enough popularity to find a girl he'd like. 

Others warmed his heart, like Uraraka, who wanted to help her parents out, or Iida, who wanted to continue his family's legacy. There was Hagakure, who wanted to help people understand that even those that can fade into the background are important too. There were a few who wanted to fight against mutant discrimination, while others were solely bent on helping and saving others. Sero surprised everyone with a solemn speech about wanting to encourage those with medical conditions as a hero and gain enough money to donate it to charities. 

"I had a cousin who died because of an illness," Sero admitted. "She wanted one last wish, which was to see her favorite hero. We managed to contact him and he agreed to come over. She was so happy, and she told me that she was content she got to experience something so amazing, even if she was going to miss out so many things in life." 

It was... a heartwarming, but bittersweet, thought. 

And then the attention was back on him. Midoriya swallowed thickly, trying to wrack his brain for some kind of idea. 

He bit his lower lip as he held both his hands in his lap. Honesty, Yaoyorozu said. I want you to be honest. "I want to be a hero because I can be one," he finally said. He didn't look up from his palms. "There are plenty of people out there who want to be a hero so badly, and are willing to work so hard for it. And yet there are many that are never given a chance to be one. There are people who are discouraged from it because of who they are." His grip on his hands tightened. 

"And I want to change that. I want people to know that they can be a hero, no matter who they are or what challenges hold them back. I want minority groups—those that are deaf, blind, mute, (at this, Koda straightened) mentally and physically prohibited (traumatized, he mentally counted)—to be given a chance. And I want to stand for that, you know? I want people to know that others can't be judged on quirks and personality alone." 

There was a moment of silence before someone squeezed him. Tightly. Midoriya felt his cheeks warm as he realized that yes, that was Sero, and yes, this was the same boy who literally invaded his bedroom. 

"Stop being so amazing for once, will you? You're making us all look like trash." 

Midoriya sputtered. "W-what do you mean, I thought all of you had very inspirational reasons for everything—" 

Sero placed a hand over his mouth. He smelled faintly of eraser shavings and lilacs, an odd combination. "Shh shh, hush, child." 

He felt his cheeks flush a deeper shade of red, because he was very close. Very, very close. And this hug was very awkward. 

"Tokoyami, continue?" Yaoyorozu asked, looking mildly disturbed.

Tokoyami shook his head. "Don't think I could, even if I wanted to." 

Iida stood. "Well, now we should take a vote, shall we not?" 

Yaoyorozu stood as well, already forming slips of paper and pencils in her hand. "And so we are."

=====

Yaoyorozu was elected president. As for vice-president...

"Why," Midoriya said, distraught. His fists shook as he stared at his desk. "Why did you condemn me to this hellish torture." 

Sero was snickering from somewhere in front of him. "Next time, think about whether or not you're going to make an inspirational speech if you don't want the position." 

Yaoyorozu chuckled before pulling him out of his seat. He stood at the front of the room next to her, and Aizawa stood up with little interest. "These are the results." 

Yaoyorozu got four votes. Midoriya received three. 

(Later, he'd found out that Uraraka and Iida, alongside himself and Yaoyorozu herself, voted for the creation-user. Meanwhile, Sero, Tokoyami, and Shouji voted for him.

It definitely explained the glee on Sero's face as he smirked at him.)

=====

Yaoyorozu Momo added Sero Hanta, Iida Tenya, Uraraka Ochako, and two others to the group chat.

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Hello, I created this chat because I became aware that not all of us know one another as well as I would like. I thought it would be nice to hang out with one another sometime?

Iida Tenya: 
Ah, so we can get to know our classmates better? I think it's great! Does anyone have a free day we can meet up?

Uraraka Ochako: 
oooh

Uraraka Ochako:
yeah, I think I'm free today, later in the afternoon if everyone else is.

Kirishima Eijiro: 
Dude, that sounds great!!!

Uraraka Ochako: 
Oh, Kirishima?

Kirishima Eijiro: 
Yep, that's me

Sero Hanta:
I think that's an amazing idea too! count me in

Kirishima Eijro:
Sero, my man!!!

Sero Hanta:
Oh, hi Kirishima!

Iida Tenya: 
Okay, so are we on agreement that we'll meet after school today?

Yaoyorozu Momo:
I think so. Uraraka and I are free then. Is everyone else?

Iida Tenya:
Indeed I am!

Sero Hanta:
yep! can't wait

Kirishima Eijiro:
Same

:Midoriya Izuku
.I am as well

Kirishima Eijiro:
Buifbew hrcwoqn

Kirishima Eijiro: 
I didn't even realize you were here

Sero Hanta:
Wait since when were you in this chat

Sero Hanta:
FoR HOw lONg

Uraraka Ochako:
What the heck

Midoriya Izuku

:)

Yaoyorozu Momo:
Izuku.

:Midoriya Izuku
.See you soon

Yaoyorozu Momo: 
Izuku.

Midoriya Izuku has left the chat.

Iida Tenya:
... Is he normally like this?

Sero Hanta:
fueowneoc iqhnowpcq

=====

There was a woman there, scowling with her arms crossed against her chest. Daizō was staring in horror at what she was showing him. 

She was a part of the council. Her quirk allowed her to teleport a certain amount of people to any place of her choosing. At the moment, the two were standing in the ruined remains of U.A.'s campus. Large vines ran up and down the sides of the buildings, growing through the cracks of the glass. Birds' nests took up several nooks and crannies around the area. 

The woman grabbed onto his arm, dragging him toward one of the fields where the students supposedly practiced at. She pointed toward a specific place of one."There's the place where Class 1-A died," she said, letting her hand fall back to her side. She sighed as she glanced around, shaking her head. 

"This is what happened," she explained, annoyed and saddened and desperate, all at once. She looked down at him. "You're only alive to get back at All for One. I hope you know that."

At eight years old, Daizō knew what a meaningless life meant. 

"I know," he whispered. And then, again:

"I know."

=====

Translation: 

It's a bit taxing to see Uraraka. Not that I don't like her or anything, no, she's an amazing person. She's funny, kind, and though a little too hyper and touchy-feely for my liking, she's a great friend to have. 

But it hurts, sometimes. In the original timeline (the one I wasn't in), Uraraka was crippled by the zero-pointer. She couldn't use her legs by herself (though U.A. paid for all of her medical bills and managed to create a customized mechanism that would allow her to walk, albeit slowly.) Of course, U.A. still got in a heap of trouble, though Uraraka forgave them. Which I still can't believe to this day. Even though her parents were furious, she still found it in herself to give them a second chance. And with that kind of attitude?

She'll be a great hero. There's no doubt about it. 

(I just wish that I could get her dead body out of my head.) 

=====

Kirishima bounced on the balls of his feet. He was super excited to meet up with his new friends. He had been worried that his class would be incredibly serious and that he wouldn't be able to fit in, but lo and behold, there he was, waiting for his five new buddies. 

Iida had arrived at their meeting point a little bit before he did, and the two of them waited patiently as Yaoyorozu arrived next. Midoriya was walking side-by-side with her, and they were already in a deep conversation. Their sibling-esque relationship reminded him much like Mina's and his—they had been good friends in middle school—and it was great to see that they weren't the only ones who knew one another before U.A. 

Of course, their friendship was a bit different than Kirishima's had been. From what he heard, the two had only met for a little while, and they mostly stayed in touch via text. So the reunion had to be pretty cool of them. 

(Though he didn't get half of their jokes. Especially the ones about baking goods for Yaoyorozu and Midoriya's sixty-three percent surety that he was aromantic.

"Hey, Zuku," Yaochan had said as they passed Kirishima. She had pointed to one of their classmates, which happened to be Todoroki. "You sure you're sixty-three percent sure? He's pretty attractive." 

Midoriya had made a groaning sound. "All of my classmates are good-looking," he had bemoaned. "I swear I'm only fifty-three percent sure now."

Yaochan had laughed as she shook her head, skipping ahead of him.) 

Uraraka came soon after, while Sero arrived two minutes late, panting and sweating. "I-I'm so sorry," he stuttered, trying to straighten the folds in his shirt. "I started our homework that's due tonight and I totally forgot about the time." 

"It's fine, dude, really," Kirishima said before Iida could scold him. "You're not that late, anyway." 

Midoriya looked up at the sky, blinking as he stared at the sun. "I don't think we have that much time before it gets dark," he stated. "We have a few hours at best." 

"Well, we should make the best of it then, right?" Yaoyorozu smiled softly at all of them. She was wearing a red cocktail dress, and a small purse rested at her hip. Out of all of them, she was wearing the nicest clothes. Midoriya almost looked shabby next to her with his dark green turtleneck and usual scarf. 

Kirishima sent the two a blinding smile. "Then let's go!" He pumped his fist into the air. Sero and Uraraka followed his movement, while the other three smiled. 

=====

It was almost funny how much Midoriya liked animals. They all went to the mall, and one of the few stores was an adoption center where customers could look at dogs and cats through glass walls. 

They stayed there for at least half an hour, looking at the cute animals and cooing at them. Midoriya planted himself in front of one window, and immediately he was met with several puppies pawing at the glass. Midoriya murmured a few sayings under his breath as he rubbed the glass. 

"I want them," he said to Sero, who watched him, bemused. "I want all of them. I want to hug them and squeeze them and call them my very own." Sero laughed, and Midoriya pouted. "Look, they could fit in my hands! What more could you want!"

Sero just shook his head as he grinned. "Your hands are too tiny for them, dude." Sero grabbed Midoriya's wrists and held them in front of his face. "Look at them; they're like little baby hands." 

Midoriya frowned. "Are you calling my hands fat?"

Sero choked on his spit and coughed. "I-I didn't mean it like that, I swear!" he stammered as he let go of Midoriya's arms. 

(Kirishima noticed that Midoriya's fingers twitched, and he looked vaguely relieved that he was no longer in contact with the other. Kirishima almost wanted to ask him why he was so nervous about physical touch, but then he berated himself. Midoriya was clearly not comfortable with human proximity.)

Yaoyorozu ended up dragging Midoriya out of the store when he refused to leave a small teacup puppy. "I want him," he said sadly. 

Yaoyorozu sighed and handed him to Uraraka. The brown-haired female held onto him after making him weightless, and they moved onto the next store. And the next. And the next. 

"Hey, Midoriya, how long have you had that scarf for?" Sero was looking at his dingy piece of clothing, which was fraying, with barely hidden distaste. 

Midoriya hummed before shrugging. "Maybe around four years or so?"

Iida scrunched his nose up. "Perhaps you ought to replace it? Clearly, it is not doing its purpose to keep you warm as much as it should."

Kirishima pointed to a store across the mall. "I saw that they sold a few scarfs over there! Why don't we get you one now?"

Uraraka's eyes lit up. "Oh yeah, and we can pick out the perfect one for you!" She threw him over to Iida, who spluttered before catching him. He was about to yell at her about safety issues when he caught her sprinting toward the store. 

"Don't run in a public place, Uraraka!" he shouted as he adjusted an expressionless Midoriya in his arms. "You'll get yourself hurt!" 

"Eh," Midoriya said monotonously from his position. "Iida, not to be offensive, but are we getting married or something? I wasn't aware of this advancement in our friendship." 

Sero snorted and covered his mouth as Iida's face flushed red. The blue-haired boy cleared his throat awkwardly. "I have to apologize, Midoriya, but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to reject this proposal of yours, pun not intended." 

Sero was holding his arms over his stomach now, still laughing as he followed Uraraka. Kirishima patted Iida's back as he followed Sero. "Have a nice wedding," he said, ignoring Iida's response to Midoriya. "Make sure to invite me sooner or later, 'kay?" 

Yaoyorozo waved to Midoriya. "And do have a nice honeymoon for me, all right? I want to know all of the details." 

Iida looked vaguely horrified. "B-but it's not p-possible for us to get married, we're too young!" he stammered. "And we barely know one another. Right, Midoriya? We're not even on a first-name basis!"

Midoriya looked up at him without a single shred of sympathy. "Really? That's funny, I was going to ask you to call me Izuku." 

"Midoriya!" 

=====

The shopping trip wasn't anything special, really. Only a few of them actually bought anything, but it was still fun. They all got ice cream (Midoriya got strawberry and mint chocolate chip), and all of them picked out a scarf for him. It was dark green, and it apparently "matched his eye color" as Uraraka put it. 

He almost said that his eye color and the scarf actually clashed in color, but then he remembered that he had his contacts on. Uraraka must've noticed his sudden stop as he spoke because she raised a brow at him. He pretended he didn't notice it. 

They soon separated as the sun began to finally set. Goodbyes were exchanged, and Midoriya gave them his best smile before heading home. It was nice to hang out with his friends (they were definitely friends, he knew now) without worrying about them. And it was nice to be with them. Iida almost reminded him of some kind of modest, overbearing sibling. 

He was halfway home when his phone vibrated, and he pulled it out of his pocket. Hiroji was calling him. 

"Hey," he said as he answered the call. "Something up?" 

"Not really," Hiroji said. "Not on my side, at least. I was just wondering how things were going on your end." 

Midoriya hummed happily. "Well, things are pretty great. I made a few new friends." 

Hiroji laughed. "Was that before or after you threw up on live TV?"

Midoriya felt horror strike him as his face went bright red. "Oh shit, you saw that?"

Hiroji chuckled. "First of all, language. Secondly, yes, Aika and I saw it. Trust me, though, from what I've heard from everyone, no one blames you. You're a little bit of a joke at the moment, but the media and the reporters got a serious backlash from it. A couple of them actually got fired because of it." 

Midoriya sighed in relief. "Does that mean they'll back off of it for a while?" he asked earnestly. 

"Perhaps. I'm hoping so, anyway. They're such a pain in the ass. I still hate them from my time as an officer." 

"I bet that sucked," Midoriya agreed. "Also, what did you say about language?" 

Hiroji sighed dramatically. "Hmm, sorry, can't remember." Before Midoriya could respond, he spoke again. "Also, I'm giving the phone to Aika. Have fun!" 

There was a moment of silence as muffled sounds of movement came over the phone before Aika was there. "People are making memes about you, I hope you know this." 

Midoriya sighed. "Oh god, lord save me." 

Aika snorted. "No really, I'm being serious. I've already seen several things where they post the words "life" over the microphone, "me" over your face, and then your puke has the words "my hopes and dreams." It's hilarious when the microphone is shoved in your face and you just throw it all up." 

Midoriya groaned. "That does not make me feel good about myself. At all." 

Aika laughed. "Ah, but it's so amazing though. I already have several of them saved to my phone. You know, when you become a hero, I'm going to show this to all your friends, all right? Or, better yet, I'll release it when you become No. 1. "This is what my brother was like when he was a nervous emo wreck," it'll say." 

"I hope you know that I'm face palming right now." 

"All the more reason for me to post it!" 

"I'm not sure whether to call you amazing or a terrible human being." 

"Well, I'm a dictator, so I'd prefer the latter, but if you want the former, that's fine by me. I will accept both." 

"This is why it's so hard to insult you. Anything I say bad about you, you take as a compliment. And complimenting you just defeats the purpose." 

Aika laughed. The meaningless chatter continued on until Midoriya arrived at his apartment. They soon bid one another goodnight as Midoriya began to peel his clothes off for his shower. Juni continued to sleep inside his new scarf, which was sitting at the foot of his bed. 

He glanced at himself in the mirror for a second—he flinched as he noticed the burn scar on the side of his neck—before scuttling into the shower. He turned the knobs, letting the water run for a second before it grew warm enough for him. (He liked the water hot. Cold was bad. Cold was really, really bad. He hated the cold. He hated it, hated it, hated it—

Tomorrow was their field trip. Midoriya had mixed feelings on it. He was excited, because there had to be some kind of new experience. It'd be a nice change of pace from how things were going now, and he liked to learn what U.A. had to offer. But he was also nervous because he'd have to tell Aizawa his quirk, which he had been putting off for a while now. 

He sighed as he placed his forehead against the tiles of his shower wall. It was fine. He could figure it all out. And anyway, he was just telling the man Maiko's quirk, it couldn't be all that hard. 

Right?

=====

Translation:

I'm in a hero school, and yet I'm not here to be a hero. Which puts me out of place, really. I'm an outcast. 

But is it wrong of me to actually want to be a hero? 

I know it's not why I'm here. I'm meant to protect my class. (Which technically makes me a "hero" when you think about it, but I'm talking about the literal thing.) And I know that I shouldn't be distracted from my goal, which has been drilled into me since I was young. 

But damn, I want it so badly. Maiko would tell me stories all the time about heroes and the world nowadays, and how they fought All for One tooth and nail. How they rose from the ashes every time he beat them into the ground, how they sent wave after wave after him. And the idea of being able to help people and do it for a living, to help people because you want to, and to be able to do it all the time... 

God, I've wanted it for so long. I wasn't lying when I said that I wanted to be a hero because I can and because I wanted to represent the ones that couldn't. I've heard from so many people in the rebellion about becoming heroes, about saving the day and giving the world the savior they needed. About becoming the new Symbol of Peace.  And it hurts every time, because I know that they all died then, in that second invasion. 

But here I am, in a hero school, learning how to be a hero. And I'm so, so close. 

So why does it seem so far away?

=====

Translation: 

Is it wrong of me to want something that I can't have?

=====

Daizō had been hiding in the closet when Shigaraki found him. He was grinning. 

"Kurogiri," he called, and the man with mist for his body walked forward. "Teleport him to home base. And put him in my room after he sees him, okay? Sensei promised that I'd get to play with him.

Daizō was crying as Kurogiri approached him. He hiccuped, and he squirmed in Shigaraki's grip. (He noticed that the man had only four fingers on his skin; he faintly remembered that Maiko told him how his quirk, Decay, worked when all five of his fingers were pressed against an object. He shuddered.) 

He wanted Seiya. He wanted Maiko. He wanted anyone but them, even if it was the council that hated him. Anyone but them. 

Kurogiri hummed in confirmation, his echoing voice deep with little tremors. Before Midoriya could protest, a cold feeling seeped into his pores and into his pores. He gasped at the feeling of beung paralyzed before the sensation disappeared from around him. Blinking his eyes as he tried to reorient himself, he was about to move when powerful hands grabbed him by the arms. Immediately, they started to drag him off through the hallways, and he struggled fruitlessly. 

He was about to yell out and protest when a blinding pain shot through him, and a short scream escaped his lips. Stars bounced in his vision as he shivered, his senses growing faintly numb for a split second before bouncing back with nerves tingling. He let out another hiccup as his body twitched involuntarily. 

There were more hands on him, now, dragging him into a room that was darker than the rest. It was a cell, and chains hung from the walls, dark and shining in the small light that escaped through the door. The person shoved him to the floor, and he groaned as he hit the cold stone head-first. He was going to try to push himself up when the same hands grabbed him again, and then there was cold metal wrapping around his wrists and ankles. He thrashed, but the person there was out of reach, and he watched their back as they left, slamming the door behind him. 

After a few seconds of nothing, he pulled at his chains. Hard. Nothing gave, though, no matter how much force he used. He tried again this time, but pulled even harder. Maybe if he did it continuously, he'd be able to get fre—

A large wave of pain overcame him, digging its harsh nails into his senses as he shrieked. He could barely see as it clouded his vision, and it hurt, it hurt, it hurt so badly, please make it stop, it was burning and aching and it was so painful please please make it stop, please make it stop he swore he wouldn't do it again—

=====

He couldn't look Kaminari in the eye the next day. The faint warning of electricity still rang in his ears.

=====

Translation: 

It's too early, it's too early, this wasn't supposed to happen, I was supposed to have another year, why did this happen, why did it, what did I do, what did I do?

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?????

=====

Translation: 

im so sorry

=====

"All right everyone," Aizawa said, deadpan. "Get onto the bus." 

Iida stood outside as he ordered everyone into a straight line. Midoriya and Yaoyorozu, as Vice President and President respectively, stood outside and watched them enter. The two had agreed that Iida would serve as their unofficial "executive officer." It was a great deal of help since the boy loved to do it, and Midoriya was too shy to speak up. Yaoyorozu and him would take care of the more important matters, if they ever came up. 

The three entered last after everyone else, and Midoriya took his seat near the end. Aizawa sat in his own bench near the front. There were a few words tossed back and forth, though Midoriya didn't listen entirely as he leaned his head back. Thoughts trickled from one to another, and he lingered on a few before moving onto the next. 

He spoke up when Kirishima mentioned his quirk, and how he probably wouldn't be as popular because it wasn't as cool-looking as other emitter-types were. 

He poked at the skin that Kirishima had hardened. "I think that it's a great quirk," he mumbled as Kirishima stared at him. 

Kirishima sent him a blinding smile. "Thanks, dude! I'm glad you appreciate it."

Midoriya responded with his own smile, though it was probably weaker than his. His nightmares were still haunting him from the back of his mind. 

(Kirishima noticed. He pretended not to.)

=====

Daizō was strapped to a metal chair, his wrists and ankles burning against the indentations of the metal shackles. They dug into his skin as he moved, tearing off chunks and created long, jagged cuts and blisters that would probably scar. He had been sitting there for over two days now, no food or water given to him while he waited. His stomach gnawed into itself, aching for some kind of substance. 

He looked around dazedly, blinking lethargically as he breathed unsteadily. His vision was blurry, and his throat was dry. He swallowed thickly, but it only served to burn his parched mouth. He threw himself into a fit of coughs, and he pathetically tried to regain his breath as his chest shuddered weakly. 

He rolled his head onto the back of the chair, blinking as the bright light invaded his sight. It was exceptionally bright, and it made his eyes burn. Faint tracks from his tears were visible on his cheeks, but he had no more tears to cry anymore. 

He took in another shaky breath, wondering if he was going to be left to starve to himself. After they gave him a small meal back in his cell (which had been drugged to knock him out) he woke up here, shivering in the cold and tired. 

A face entered his vision, one with brown hair and blue eyes, and Daizō felt his lips move against one another. "Seiya?" he croaked. The face continued to move in and out of blurriness, before it faded entirely. 

Hallucinations. 

Daizō blinked as he heard the door open, and he tried to quickly move his head upward. The action was still slow, however, and the person who entered had already reached him by the time he could see them. He narrowed his eyes, trying to focus his attention on them, though they doubled and tripled several times before he could see straight. 

And when he could, his blood ran cold.

He took in another shuddering breath as the man pressed the back of his hand gently against his cheek. He tried to turn his head away from the touch, but he only managed to corner himself as his touch lingered. He released a shaking, breathless sigh as the man's other hand tilted his chin so he was looking right at him. With both hands on his face, Daizō looked on as the man smiled. 

All for One. 

"How precious you are," he whispered, and Daizō could barely grasp what he was saying as the words meshed together. "It's such a shame, really, that that council can't see how much good is in you." 

Daizō hiccuped again before scrunching his eyes up weakly. All for One placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, which was trembling from silent sobs. All for One gently shushed him as he undid his shackles. Daizō fell limp into the man's chest as his restraints were gone, and the man picked up his thin, shaking form with his large arms and pulled him into his broad chest. Daizō whimpered as All for One held him closer. He felt his body succumb to sleep, begging for the sweet relief of sleep. As his eyes closed, he heard All for One speak. 

"Good night, my little echo. That is what they call you, right?"

=====

Aizawa tried to ignore the haunted look that appeared in Midoriya's eyes as he stared at nothing. 

=====

There once was a woman with blonde hair and brown eyes. Her name was Maiko. 

She looked at the sleeping form of Daizō as he slept. The boy was still recuperating from the injury his mother placed on him for him to show the world. 

She looked at him with sad, sad eyes. 

"Please let me fix this," she had whispered to the faeries and the wind. "Please let me fix him." 

Because Daizō was destined for terrible things. 

=====

"You're the only one that matters, Daizō." 

======

Midoriya got a glimmer of something that echoed in his mind. It had come out of nowhere, like a flash of lightning from clear blue skies. It happened as he was leaving the bus. 

"All for One didn't invade U.A., Daizō. He didn't cause U.A.'s Judgement Day. 

"There's a reason we sent you."

But that couldn't be right. Midoriya was sure that that was in Maiko's voice, and he never remembered that. 

(He never had any memories of that conversation happening.)

=====

Once upon a time, the Husband of the Man's shapeshifting daughter was approached by Maiko. The two talked, and the Husband sighed. 

"You'll take care of Daizō, won't you?" he whispered. 

Maiko smiled. "Of course I will." 

The Husband held his hand out. 

"Then you may have my quirk." 

=====

Daizō's father's quirk allowed him to share, give, and take memories. 

=====

"Welcome to the Unforseen Simulation Joint!"

Midoriya flinched as he was greeted with a familiar hero. Uraraka gushed excitedly at the rescue hero, her awe clear on her face as she spoke. Midoriya too let a warm feeling overcome him as he recognized Thirteen.

They led the group of students inside, accompanied by Aizawa and All Might respectively. The dome was massive, holding five completely different areas and zones, each with different rescue possibilities and scenarios. All Might held up one finger to the other teachers, one that raised a series of questions in Midoriya's head. He had half a mind to interrogate the man and ask what he meant when Thirteen delved into their own speech.

They explained a little about the usage of quirks. At this, several students' expressions turned serious as they continued with what they said. "We all have quirks that can be dangerous, if even lethal, at times. For example, my quirk is Black Hole. I can use it to suck up debris and dangerous objects, but I could also use it to easily kill someone if I so wished." Most of their expressions had sobered by now.

"Many quirks can be used in the wrong way, in a direction that can harm and kill. That is what I am here for—to teach you how you can use your quirks effectively to save people instead of maim them. You have already gotten a handle of the power of your quirks from Aizawa, and you have already learned what it means to use them against others. Now you will be using your quirks to help people, and help them only. I hope you can do well in my class!" A few of the students clapped.

It was nice.

Thirteen led them down the stairs as they entered the flood zone first. They split them into groups of four, and Midoriya was teamed up with Asui, Mineta, and Tokoyami. The latter nodded to him respectfully as they all waited for their own turn to work together.

"Since there are people on the sinking ship," Asui stated, "we should have a few people rescuing them and placing them on the water. Someone should be in the water and bringing them to shore."

"I can climb up the sides with my sticky balls," Mineta chimed in.

"Perhaps I should go with Mineta," Tokoyami stated. "Dark Shadow and I can get the people on board to shore, or at least to the water safely. My swimming abilities are less than lackluster, and having me swim back and forth would merely serve to hinder us."

Asui nodded. "That sounds like a good plan to me. I'm a fast swimmer with my quirk, so I should be able to transport them to the shore as well."

"I can help you, Asui," Midoriya added. Though he wasn't the fastest when it came to maneuvering underwater, he still wanted to help the female so she wouldn't be too overwhelmed.

"Yeah, and when we're done on board, we can help you after!" Mineta said.

It continued like that, each of their groups—which was shuffled after every time—completing their zones. Each time, the teachers would explain what they did wrong and how to grow. More times than not, Aizawa had to rope in a screaming Bakugo as he raged about his classmates' "stupidity."

(Kaminari flinched at that word. Midoriya had a sinking feeling why, but he didn't say anything to the blonde.)

The colder zones put him more on edge, especially the windstorm area. He managed to keep his grimace almost to himself, though his partners (Jirou, Satou, and Kouda) could see his apprehension.

They were in the last zone when Thirteen finally spoke up.

"Midoriya, wouldn't now be a good time to use your quirk?" they asked. Aizawa glanced at her curiously.

"You know what it is?" he asked, and Thirteen flinched in surprise.

"Well, of course. I rescued him from a villain attack a few years ago, and I saw him use it then." Their tone turned worried. "Does he not use it?"

"No," All Might butted in. "He does not."

Thirteen went silent. No one said anything for a while after that. Midoriya ignored the stares on the back of his neck as he continued to pull someone into the "safe zone."

He felt his cheeks light up. (He was ashamed.)

Midoriya simply didn't fit in with most of the exercises. He was always in the lower quarter of the students, no matter which zone he was in. It was fine, really; he didn't mind it too much since he got to know his classmates better, and the experience itself was worthwhile.

Overall, it was a pretty fun field trip. He'd had to act as a victim several times, and he managed to get Ashido to laugh. He had hidden under a piece of rubble. When she found him, he waved to her and, with a deadpan tone, said, "Hey. I'm dying." She snickered before picking him up with little strain. Satou had mentioned how she had managed to keep up with him in strength, which was admirable.

Aizawa pulled him aside as everyone else headed for the doorway. As Midoriya and him stood by the fountain at the middle of the dome, everyone else stopped by the entrance. Midoriya swallowed painfully as Aizawa looked out at the zones, ignoring the other. A thick silence fell over the two.

Midoriya coughed awkwardly. "So, you want me to explain my quirk now, right?"

Aizawa looked back at him. "Would there be any other reason?"

Midoriya sighed silently before steeling his nerves.

"Well, my quirk is—"

=++++=++++=

Shigaraki hummed as he played with the roots of Daizō's hair. "It's so soft and fluffy," he murmured in Daizō's ear, letting the strands fall over the tips of his fingers. "I wish that I had your hair."

Daizō shuddered as Shigaraki continued to run his hand through his curly locks. 

"But you know what would look better?" Shigaraki said as he kneeled so they were face-to-face. He grinned eerily at him.

"Your hand."

=++++=++++=

"Would there be any other reason?"

Aizawa waited as Midoriya sighed silently. The boy opened his mouth, ready to speak when his eyes dulled. His body grew slack for a moment, nothing visible in his expression when his eyes lit back up. His face grew pale, and his hands twitched toward the sheaths on his legs.

"They're here," he whispered, and Aizawa tried not to let his confusion show too much.

"Who's here?" he mumbled, mostly to himself, when the lights overhead flickered. Aizawa's head shot up, and he immediately tensed. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

Around them, a dark mist of purple and blacks melded together, expanding from the front of the fountain. It continued to grow, dark threads of shooting outward. From the shadowy mesh, dark figures appeared, walking through the film of mist. Dozens of them, one after the other after the other. Aizawa shot in front of Midoriya, holding his arm out.

"Get upstairs," he hissed. He felt Midoriya move closer to him as they stood back-to-back.

"That might be a problem," Midoriya replied, a small hint of fear in his tone, though he hid it well. 

Aizawa looked back to see that the group of villains had already blocked Midoriya's way out. Shit, Aizawa thought. We're surrounded. He heard the snickering of the villains as they prepped themselves for a fight. Aizawa felt his heart beating in his eardrums as he thought about the implications of Midoriya being stuck in the battle. He growled as he pulled his goggles up to his face. Where the hell was All Might? 

The one at the front chuckled, and he could see Midoriya flinch from the corner of his eye. The man had shaggy hair, and hands gripped different parts of his body. He let out an airy chuckle that bounced around in the air, and Aizawa felt his shackles raise as the broken sound reached his ears. The man peered down at the two, his grin visible behind the hand on his face. 

"A hero and his little sidekick, eh?" he said, awe lacing his words. He let out a little giggle as Midoriya stepped further back into Aizawa, the villains pressing in. The man held out his own hand in front of him, waving Aizawa on. "You know, I was hoping I'd get to face the final boss right away. It's such a shame that I'm going to have a little warm up instead." 

His grin grew wider. "But first," he motioned to the big, black creature beside him, "let's see how much you care for your student, Eraserhead."

 

Chapter Text

 "Oh Maiko," All for One said. "To think that we have almost the same quirk." 

Maiko rolled the metal pen between the tips of her fingers. She frowned before looking up to her father. 

"Yeah," she said quietly. 

(She hated it.) 

=====

She stole her first quirk when she was seven years old. 

It was called Chain Conjuring. 

(She loved it.)

=====

Midoriya felt panic grip him as he glanced at the villains surrounding Aizawa and him. His muscles were sore from all the exercises they had done just before, and his knees protested as he bent them into a fighting stance. He felt his left hand grow number with each passing second, his fingers unwilling to cooperate with him as he pulled out his dual escrisma sticks. He tried to erase the face of Shigaraki from his mind, but his giggles still rang in his head. 

He was terrified. Mortified, really. This wasn't supposed to happen for another year or so, so why... why now? It had only been a few days at most, the League of Villains shouldn't be attacking now...

Aizawa's hair was already floating above his head, his eyes glowing behind his goggles. Two villains leapt at his teacher, and Midoriya instinctively reached his two sticks out. He felt his power bubble beneath his fingertips as thick, dark chains burst forth from the metal covering and wrapped around the two villains. He pulled sharply downward, abruptly changing their course and shoving them into the ground. He heard their faint groans over a huff that came from Aizawa. "Why couldn't you have used that before..." he muttered under his breath before going into the action. 

Aizawa ducked beneath a villain's swipe of their claws, kicking him hard enough to be sent flying. He wrapped his scarf around another thug's waist and threw him into a group of others, sending them into the ground. At the same time, Midoriya upped the electricity factor on his weapons before sending two men to the ground with a well-timed hit to the head and shock; they coughed and groaned as they hit the floor. Midoriya sent another wave of chains toward a woman with a fire quirk, who attempted to burn him alive with flamethrowers that tipped the end of her fingers. He used the force of his chains to send her flying into the flood zone. 

"Midoriya!" His head shot up as he glanced toward the entrance, where Yaoyorozu was standing, a horrified look on her face. The rest of the students looked terrified as well, and he grit his teeth in apprehension. He was about to turn back to his own fight to stay alive when something caught his eye. 

Mist. 

His eyes narrowed as he swung his escrisma stick into the head of another villain before reaching it out toward his classmates. He aimed, stilling the shaking of his hands before firing two lone chains at Kurogiri. He watched as he chains neared the flickering body, close to wrapping around him. The villain didn't even flinch as it created two portals on either side of it. The chains disappeared one end before going out the other, harmlessly avoiding him. 

Midoriya gritted his teeth but imagined the chains to fling back toward him, melting back into the metal covering of the weapon. He cussed under his breath when a thug took advantage of his stillness to knock him in the stomach and throw him back, and he coughed up a glob of spit at the impact. He slid, barely regaining his footing before sending a double roundhouse kick to the face of a man with a rock-like body. He twisted around and butted the end of his escrisma stick into the side of a woman trying to sneak up on him from behind. He watched from the corner of his eye as Aizawa punched a man in the face, sending him to the floor. 

The ground beneath him shook slightly, and Midoriya glanced over to see that All Might and the black creature-like thing—a nomu, his mind supplied, and he refrained from shuddering—were trading blows. Shit. It didn't look like All Might was doing too well. 

Midoriya clenched his teeth as he ducked beneath the punch of another woman, grabbing onto her forearm and flinging her into a group of other villains. He heard it again this time, a shriek of panic. 

"Midoriya!" 

He turned. 

Shit. 

=====

Yaoyorozu was prepared to leave. In fact, all of them were. Her classmates had started climbing the steps toward the entrance, most of them complaining about how sore they were. She reached the top of the staircase, stretching her arms as she walked. Today had been a great experience, and she already had a few things planned out to learn from. While her combat experience wasn't lacking, her on-the-spot thinking creatively was less than spectacular. She knew that she could do more with her quirk, but the few ideas that popped into her head simply didn't seem logical or wasn't something that she could effectively pull off yet. 

She glanced behind her to see that Midoriya and Aizawa were still standing near the center of the platform below, a few meters from the center fountain. She was worried about the usage of his quirk and if he was going to get expelled for it or not. She knew that Midoriya could be a great hero, but if he didn't use his quirk, it was likely that Aizawa wouldn't have patience to keep him in his class. Biting her lower lip, she watched as they exchanged a few words when Midoriya suddenly froze. 

And then they appeared. 

Yaoyorozu felt her stomach turn to lead as she inhaled sharply, watching as a dark portal appeared around the two. It stretched long and wide, and out walked a single figure. And then two. And then four. And then nine, and then sixteen, and then there were enough to have the two completely surrounded, and the number just continued to grow, grow, grow.  

"Wh-what the hell is going on?" Kaminari said, his eyes wide with panic. 

Yaoyorozu's eyes widened in turn when something occurred to her. 

Midoriya, Uraraka, Iida and her were sitting at lunch. Midoriya asked Tokoyami to join their table, and he agreed without much hesitation. Chatter followed, though they were interrupted halfway through by a piercing alarm. 

"Someone's broke into U.A. security systems!" someone said, and chaos ensued. 

Yaoyorozu was pressed against the glass window, Midoriya curled up beside her. He was shivering, his arms tightly pressed around himself as his eyes gained a faraway look in them. 

It was the press, Iida explained as he jumped onto the exit sign. Everyone calmed down. 

And yet Midoriya's face was pale. 

"What's the matter?" she asked him. "Is something wrong?" 

Midoriya flinched. "Someone just looked familiar to me, that's all," he mumbled. 

She couldn't get anything out of him after that. 

Had these people used the press break in to their advantage? Yaoyorozu turned to Thirteen. "Sensei, are those villains?" she asked, her voice wobbling despite her trying to put on a brave front. She was president, dammit, she had to at least act like she had everything under control. Panicking was not an option. "What happened to the trespasser sensors?" 

"We have them, of course..." Thirteen trailed off. 

Todoroki picked up Thirteen's statement. "Did they only appear here, or around the whole school?" He paused as the attention was moved onto him, and he watched with a careful eye as the villains pressed in toward Midoriya and Aizawa. He felt a pang of something flash through him, something that told him that he had to act, now. 

"Either way, if the sensors aren't responding, that means they have someone with a quirk that has prevented such." His frown deepened. "An isolated area separated from the main campus during a time when a class is supposed to be here—they might be fools, but they're not dumb." He narrowed his eyes and felt his right side cool considerably. Aizawa flung a man into three others with his scarf, knocking them unconscious with practiced ease. "This surprise attack was carefully planned with some sort of goal in mind." 

Yaoyorozu let out a noise of frustration. "Kaminari, can you attempt to reach the school with your quirk? It's possible someone with a radio-wave quirk is interfering." 

Kaminari let out a small confirmation as he pressed his fingers against the radio receptor on his ear. 

Thirteen turned to All Might. "You've used up your time," Thirteen hissed as they watched All Might crouch. The man turned and shot them a smile. 

"Don't worry. I shall take them out in a flash. Thirteen, you must take the students out of here and to safety. I shall get Young Midoriya and Aizawa as soon as possible." He sent them a thumbs up before jumping toward the fountain, and Yaoyorozu watched in amazement at his speed as her bangs whipped in her face. The amount of force that all of that had to take... 

Her awe turned to horror as the black creature, which stood beside the man with the shaggy hair and hand-covered body, crouched as well before shooting up from the ground. Its trajectory was almost parallel to that of All Might's, and she felt her body freeze as the creature swung a clawed fist into All Might's stomach midair. The two hit the ground and rolled, tearing up concrete and dirt from the landslide zone. All Might soon got to his feet a little ways away from the monster, though she noticed the blood trickling from the side of his mouth. The thing got to its feet as well, almost mechanically as its expressionless eyes bulged. 

It said nothing, even as it ran toward All Might. Yaoyorozu wanted to continue watching, if only for the sake of knowing if the man was going to be all right, when Iida grabbed her arm and tugged her toward the entrance. A glance showed her that she wasn't the only one frozen in place. But no, she couldn't leave, not when... 

Not when... 

"Midoriya!" she yelled, and the boy below glanced up at her. He was too far away to actually see his expression, but she could see him pause. He whacked another villain upside the head, sending him sprawling before he suddenly reached his weapon upward. She had no time to react as something metal was ripped from the surface and whizzed by her face. She could feel the air move past her face, not as violently as All Might's jump had been, but quick all the same. 

Were those... chains? 

She watched as the linked metal parts shot toward the mist villain she hadn't noticed was there. Situational awareness was another factor that she'd have to do better on, apparently.  

The villain merely avoided it with his mist, the chains disappearing inside before safely leaving on the other side. She looked back to see Midoriya say something before retracting the metal, and she hissed as one of the thugs sent a kick to his gut. 

She turned around, ignoring the burning sensation in her eyes as she did so. This wasn't fair to him, he shouldn't even be in that position... 

"I'm afraid that I can't let you leave," the mist villain said in his echoing tone. "I won't let you." 

(At the bottom, Aizawa punched another man in the face when he noticed the dark shape in front of his students. Shit! I just blinked once and he got away! He turned toward the staircase, as if to run up it, when more villains blocked his way through. Off to the side, Midoriya was panting as he slung a man to the ground with his legs alone.) 

"We are the League of Villains," the villain continued. "It may be presumptuous of us, but we have invited ourselves into the home of the heroes, U.A. High School, in order to have All Might—the Symbol of Peace—take his last breath." Yaoyorozu froze as the words comprehended in her mind. She felt her breath get knocked out of her by the words alone. 

Kill... All Might? 

She thought about the black creature which had pummeled the No. 1 hero from the air. Was that... was that how they were going to try...? But they couldn't! All Might was leagues ahead of all of these villains. His immense power brought down buildings, created craters with a single punch... 

Her mind was whizzing a mile a second as the mist-like villain spoke again. "It's my pleasure to say that this will be an effortless ending for all of you..." His smokey body shot outward. "—since no one will be able to save you." His voice grew darker. "This is my role to play." 

Thirteen unlocked one of the caps on their fingers, ready to point it at the villain when Kirishima and Bakugo stepped forward, simultaneously striking against him. Smoke erupted from Bakugo's explosion, sending smoke billowing between them. Yaoyorozu coughed as she held a hand over her face, trying to see through the smokescreen Bakugo created. 

Did that... did that even work?

She squashed down her hope before it could bloom. She didn't want to lead herself into a false trap that would end her worse off than before. Gritting her teeth, she looked ahead, listening to Kirishima boast. 

"Did you even consider that you'd get beaten by us before you did it?" he asked, arms crossed in an "X" shape as his arms hardened. Bakugo stood beside him, stance at the ready as he smirked. 

They waited for a second, the smoke still heavy as no sound prevailed. 

"Oh dear," the deep voice echoed ominously, "that's dangerous." His tone had a slight tilt to it, as if he was mocking them, but Yaoyorozu heard the faint apprehension in his voice behind the pounding in her ears. The smoke swerved outward from the dark gas body as a glint of metal became visible. "That's right. Even if you are students, you are excellent golden eggs." The floating golden of his eyes narrowed as they formed back into place, stray tendrils of light seeping from the corners of his slitted eyes. 

"No!" Thirteen shouted. "Move away, both of you!" 

The villain ignored them. "My job is to scatter you all—" A thick mist seeped from his body and shot toward them, surrounding the group they formed at the center of the entrance. The dark purple pulled and twisted around them, swirling in between each of their figures and pushing them with an unknown force. "—and torture you to death!"

Kirishima could be heard from where Yaoyorozu was, just barely over the swarm of gaseous particles that created a low hissing sound. "What the—!?" he choked out. From beside her, Yaoyorozu felt movement, as if someone was pulled out of the cloud twisting around her. She held her arms in front of her face, her hair blowing in the wind before the cold strings of the mist curled around her and pulled. She looked back, just in time to see All Might between the slits of purple gas as he punched the black creature from before. The mindless monster shrieked in pain as it flew backward, and—

"Midoriya!" she shrieked again, because the boy was right in the line of getting crushed by it. 

The boy turned to him, eyes wide. Sweat rolled down the side of his face as he panted, and a fearful expression came over him. 

And then the black consumed her entirely. 

=====

Todoroki felt the coldness seep into his body, swallowing him whole. He bared through it with a scowl, burying his discomfort before the feeling ended. He was dumped legs-first, and he winced as his knees stung at his not-so-graceful landing. Before he even had time to turn around, there was a villain running up to him, trying to decapitate him with a club. 

Todoroki ducked under it, glaring at the woman as he sent a wave of ice at her. She shrieked at the freezing temperature as he twisted his torso around, sliding his right foot into the ground. Ice sprung across the floor, freezing several more solid within seconds within the landslide zone. 

"It's pathetic," he started, "to lose against a single child." The frozen villains' teeth chattered noisily as he glared down at them. 

(Mocking opponents when they were beneath you; it was pretty effective to lower their morale into the dirt. It was too bad that his father used it as well.) 

Todoroki scoffed. "'Scatter you and kill you,' huh?" He exhaled sharply, his breath visible. "I hate to say this..." He looked at all of them without a shred of sympathy. "... but you just look like guys with quirks they didn't know what to do with." He stepped smoothly through their frozen forms, walking past all of them with ease. He didn't humor the man who whined in pain. 

"Th-this guy... the instant we warped here..." one stammered. "Is he really a kid?" 

Todoroki ignored what they had to say as he made his way down the landslide. Killing All Might... At first glance, I thought they had gathered all their elite and would overpower him by numbers... 

A man with a green bandanna around his eyes leapt out from behind a rock, aiming to hit him with a dagger. Todoroki shot a wave of ice at him, freezing him solid at the same time he moved slightly to the right. A spear missed his head just slightly, which came from another man trying to sneak up on him from behind as the other attacked. He grabbed onto the metal handle with his right hand. Immediately, the handle turned to ice, freezing the man thoroughly. 

The two men stared at one another, shocked that they could both be shut down in less than five seconds by the same boy. They made choked sounds as the ice cooled them considerably. 

... but a closer look shows that the pawns they prepared for us were just a ragtag bunch of thugs. 

He pulled the frozen spear from the man's iced body, letting him fall to the ground face-first without any way to protect himself. 

From what I saw, there were only four or five truly dangerous people. He looked upward, toward the plaza in the center of the USJ building. If that's the case, then the next step I should take is... 

His smile hid something dangerous as he looked to the man in front of him, who was still standing. "Hey," he said, ignoring the bitter taste in his mouth as he let his smug tone seep through. "Just so you know, that ice is colder than what you might expect it to be. At this rate, your cells will slowly die." The man's expression grew tearful as his eyes widened. The one on the floor let out a pitiful whine. "I want to be a hero," Todoroki continued, his smile disappearing from his face altogether. He turned to the man fully, letting his blue eye stare the man still standing down. "I would like to avoid something so cruel if possible." 

He stepped closer to the man, ignoring the tears pooling in his eyes. Raising his right hand up to the man's face, he let a cold burst of air run from his palm directly to him. The man let out a small, pathetic sound of distress. Todoroki stared down at him, his tone growing dark and frosty. 

"On what basis do you think you can kill All Might?" His eyes narrowed as the tinkling of ice rung in his ears. "What's your plan?" 

======

Bakugo yelled angrily as he sent an explosion to a villain's face, knocking him back. He was standing back-to-back with Kirishima as they were surrounded with villains. Hidden deep within the collapse zone, the two began to fight tooth and nail. 

"Keep up with me, why don't you, shitty hair!?" the blonde spat as he sent an explosion over the hardening user's shoulder, pushing another villain through the wall. 

And Kirishima grinned. "Aren't I?" 

=====

In the mountain zone, Yaoyorozu blinked open her eyes and paled. The thugs were everywhere, too many to count. Jirou and Kaminari stood behind her as she pulled a metal pole out from her arm, gripping it tightly with two hands. She grimaced as she attempted to put on a false mask of determination, and she pushed away her fear. 

God dammit. She knew being a hero had its bad sides, but to meet villains now? When they were only a couple days in? 

A villain ran up to her, and she swung the pole around before jabbing it straight into his forehead. He collapsed to the ground, and Yaoyorozu turned to the next, her anger rekindling. 

Like hell I'm going down today. 

("You guys can't count on me! I can't do anything with my quirk at the moment except let electricity flow around my body! All of my other abilities are useless!" 

"Fine, then I'll use you as a human stun gun!" 

"Seriously!? Idiot— Oh, it's working. I'm strong! You two can count on me!"

"Please take this more seriously!") 

=====

In the fire zone, Ojiro fell into a fighting stance as his tail vibrated. In the squall zone, Kouda and Tokoyami stood back-to-back.

And in the flood zone, Tsuyu and Mineta hid on the boat, trying to wrack their brain for any sort of idea. 

=====

The fear was starting to become overrun, Sero noted. He didn't bother even trying to keep up his smile as he clenched his fist, trying to calm the seething rage that bubbled in him, hiding just beneath the surface. He hissed as he stared down the mist villain, his elbows twitching at the urge to use his tape. 

How dare they... how dare they attack us... 

His fist tightened even further. 

How can people be so... so... 

He looked at the huge half-sphere of dark mist that covered his classmates. He gritted his teeth as he heard the cries of shock and fear from them before they altogether disappeared, the dome collapsing into itself. Sero shut his eyes tightly, trying to get the image out of his head before he snapped his head toward the villain. 

Inhumane!? 

He watched as Uraraka and Ashido got up onto their two feet, the former helping Iida as well. Sato cracked his knuckles as he move to the middle of the entryway, gaze hardened and jaw tight. Sero positioned himself so they were standing side-by-side, Thirteen not too far in front of them. 

"Shouji," Iida started, "is everyone here? Can you check?" He was tense as the other male's tentacle arms began to turn into extra eyes and ears, searching for their fellow classmates. 

After a moment of hesitation, Shouji responded. "Everyone's scattered, but they're all in this building," he replied. 

Their makeshift group sighed in relief, and Sero glanced back to see that Mina and Uraraka were standing behind him. His comfort immediately turned back to worry and upset, however. The fact that they were all separated, stuck with several villains... 

Who knew what could happen? 

"Damn it," he said, "physical attacks can't hit him, and he can warp things..." Sero gritted his teeth as another curse escaped him. "His quirk's the worst!" 

A moment of silence followed his exclamation as they all stared at the mist villain. In front of him, Thirteen tensed before turned slightly toward them. "Iida?" they asked. 

Iida looked surprised as he glanced up. "Yes?" 

Thirteen let out a small sigh before speaking again. "I entrust this duty to you." They shifted again, moving one step forward. "Run to the school and tell them about what is happening here." Shock warped over Iida's features as they continued to speak, alongside a hint of denial in his eyes. "The alarms are not sounding, and our phones don't have signal. The alarm system is based on infrared rays." Thirteen's tone turned morose. "Even though Eraserhead is erasing people's quirks left and right, they are still not working, which means they must have someone with an interference quirk who hid right when they arrived." 

Thirteen ducked their head slightly as the mist villain took form again. "It would be faster for you to run than for us to find that person." 

Sero gulped as he thought about that responsibility. Iida was strong, but to know that you had to run in order to save everyone... and to know that, if you didn't run fast enough, someone could get hurt, or worse, killed. 

Iida immediately interrupted. "But it would be a disgrace to leave everyone behind—" he started, indignant. 

"Go, Emergency Exit," Satou cut off as he moved in front of the runner, almost no room for argument in his voice. "If you can get outside, there'll be alarms." Sero took a deep breath before joining Satou, brows set in a determined angle. "That's why these guys are only doing this inside, right?"

Sero picked up from where he left off. "As long as you go outside, they won't follow you!" He felt his tape stirring in his elbows as he glared at the mist villain. It was a hard responsibility... but Iida was strong. Iida could do it. He could get them help, he could save them. "Blow away this fog with your legs!" 

Thirteen turned to him, fingers raised for their quirk. "Use your quirk in order to save others," Thirteen reminded him in their staticky voice. "That is what it means to be a hero. That is what our quirks are meant for!" 

Shouji stepped forward as well, muscles flexing. Uraraka spoke up from behind him. "Please, Iida," she said. "I can support you just like that time in the cafeteria. But you have to run!" 

Iida frowned, his brow furrowed. He turned toward the entrance, a whirlwind of emotions in his eyes and his jaw clenched. There was a flash of pain in his eyes, though, hidden behind the bright glare of his glasses as his engines began to heat up. 

"Even if you have no other choice," the mist villain began, "are there really idiots who talk about their plans in front of the enemy!?" 

"We did it because it doesn't matter if we're found out!" Thirteen rebutted, holding up their finger higher than before. As the mist began to spread upward, Thirteen began to suck in the gas. "Black Hole!" they yelled. 

And it didn't take but half a second for it all to go wrong. 

"Thirteen..." the villain said. A short sound that almost seemed like a chuckle came from him as his body twisted. Suddenly, a dark portal appeared right behind Thirteen, taking their winds and throwing it right back at them. Sero felt his stomach drop down to his feet, his body frozen despite his mind screeching for him to do something. 

Do something. Do something. DO SOMETHING!

"A warp gate!" Thirteen exclaimed breathlessly as Iida reached forward instinctively. The mist villain's eyes slimmed with smug glee as the back of Thirteen's suit began to shatter and crumble. They stumbled as their quirk came to a halt. Thirteen gasped for breath, shuddering as the back of their suit was left wide open. Sero felt bile rise into his throat as dark particles began to taint the edges of the torn fabric. "H-he got... me..." they mumbled as they tilted forward. 

"Sensei!" Ashido cried, tears forming in her eyes. She caught the falling hero, gently placing them onto the ground. Sero felt his own tears forming in his eyes as he looked away, the burning in his chest growing with each passing second. These... these people thought that they could do whatever they wanted... Sero's brow twitched as he kept himself from running at the villain without second thought. 

What kind of person could maim another and laugh at it? 

A single tear fell from his eye. 

What kind of person... could... could find enjoyment in the pain of others!? 

Sero felt his anger flare, brighter and hotter than ever before. Vigilantes were one thing, because they sometimes fought for reasons more than greed and selfishness... but for people to attack innocent lives just because they wanted to... 

It pissed him off!

Iida stood, staring in silent shock. Satou was the first to react, and he placed a hand on Iida's arm, his eyes pleading. "Iida, run!" he said, his grip tightening, and he pushed the engine-quirk user closer to the doors. "Hurry!" 

Iida set his jaw as he looked toward the doorway. He still looked split, still not sure of himself. 

"Go, Iida!" 

Iida's head snapped toward Sero, whose expression was dark, fury hidden in his eyes. "We need you more then ever before. We need you, Iida! Our classmates need you!" He let out a choked sob that he was obviously trying to suppress as he ducked his head. A shadow fell over his eyes. "You have to help all of us. You have to run!" 

Iida pressed his lips together, but he finally nodded. "Alright," he said, his determined gaze holding more steel than before. 

Sero let a smile finally don his face, though anyone could see the pain and ire in it. He let out a shaky sigh before nodding to Iida. "Ashido," he called while he still faced the mist villain. He bent his knees as he formed his fighting stance, his arms in front of his face. "Aim your acid at him to distract him." His eyes narrowed. "I'm going to wrap my tape around that body of his that he's hiding like a fucking burrito." 

The villain tensed. "How did you—?"

Iida burst past him. Uraraka, floating above the unsuspecting villain, pressed her five fingers together. Her face was green, even as she sent a hard kick to the mist guy's head. The villain hissed as he moved further away from her. "Pretty obvious," she growled, "when Bakugo and Kirishima attacked you. I saw the glimpse of your body then." 

"Which means—" Ashido cried angrily as she slid around him, hands raised and acid flying, "—you're not as indestructible as you made yourself out to be!" She growled, her golden eyes glowing. "This is for hurting my teacher!" She yelled as a massive burst of acid erupted from her palms and toward the villain. He shot upward, avoiding the attack as his golden eyes widened. He looked up, finding Iida already halfway to the door. 

"No!" he cried, trying to move past the two girls when Sero's tape wrapped around his middle. Uraraka pressed her hand against the metal covering, and Sero broke off his piece of tape to hand it to Satou. As Shouji handed a fierce punch to the mist villain, Sero let his smile grow into a grin. 

"Let 'em rip." 

Satou's eyes widened for a second before an equally determined smile came onto his face. "Of course," he said as he grabbed onto the tape and began to swing it around, watching as the mist villain twirled in large circles. Just as Satou was beginning to feel his head spin, he let go, watching as the mist villain flew into the middle of the dome before disappearing. 

Behind him, the door was cracked open, light spilling through. 

=====

Midoriya kicked a woman across the face, pushing her back as he ducked beneath a punch that was sent for the back of his head. Grabbing the forearm it belonged to, he twisted his weight and pulled them over his shoulder, slamming them onto the ground. As they gasped for breath, he grabbed the metal piece from his belt, letting three thick chains wrap around the four sprinting toward him. They all were pulled together into a furious bundle, and one of the girls huffed and complained when an arm was knocked into her face. He pulled them forward before sending one to the ground with a high kick, the other three following his movement. The four were stuck on the ground, making snarky comments to one another. 

He didn't bother to hear their argument as he punched a woman smaller than him in the throat. She made several gargling sounds as she fell to her knees, clutching where he hit her. He would feel bad if she wasn't trying to stab him with her blade-tipped hair.  

Wiping a bit of blood from his split lip, he tried to ignore the pounding of his head. He wasn't injured terribly, but several times he was hit by stray attacks that he hadn't seen coming. Taking in several deep breaths as he tried to regulate his heartbeat, he looked over to Aizawa, who had just knocked out two more villains. He was also breathing heavily, though he hid it better. 

Midoriya winced as he moved his shoulder wrong. He placed shaking fingers over the wound. 

"Midoriya!" Yaoyorozu shrieked. He looked up to see her expression; she was looking horrifyingly at something behind him. Instinctively, he dove to the side, but not before something scraped against his shoulder blade. He hissed as he brought a hand to the wound while still on the ground, watching with wide eyes as the Nomu and All Might flung past him. Aizawa was by his side, pulling him to his feet. 

"Don't die," he ordered before swinging a man into the air and throwing him into the flood zone. 

Midoriya brought his hand back, clenching his teeth at the sight of blood coating his fingers. All Might had disappeared into the flood zone at the order of Aizawa to get Asui and Mineta to safety. 

"I can't let this creature hurt you or anyone else," he had said as his shaking arms held the nomu's in a sort of arm lock. 

"And I can't let my students die," Aizawa had snapped back. "It's only going after you, and you're wasting your time trying to defeat it! It'll stay here if you aren't there to fight it!" He punctuated his sentences with a blow to a villain's face. "Save my students first. Then worry about it for fuck's sake!" 

All Might had hesitated but nodded, jumping around the dome as to confuse the creature that couldn't compute well enough.

Midoriya tried not to let his pain grow so visible on his face as he glanced toward Shigaraki. His left hand twitched as he tried to clench it to little to no avail. The man had a much smaller frame than when he remembered, and his hair fell in shaggy waves down the front of his face and around him. A hand rested, perfectly sculptured to fit on his face. One red eye peeked out from the cold fingers. 

Midoriya felt his heart skip a beat when he noticed that there weren't any hands that resembled his own. Bile rose in his throat. 

Without warning, Shigaraki leaped forward, moving quickly at the still form of Aizawa. He aimed several punches and strikes at the man, who ducked lower to the ground. Aizawa dodged them, elbowing Shigaraki in the stomach as he was left wide open. Shigaraki coughed, the breath knocked out of him, as he twisted to the side so he was facing Aizawa's back, gripping the end of Aizawa's elbow. Midoriya's heart went into his throat as he sprinted forward. A small chortle escaped Shigaraki. 

"Geez, Eraserhead. You're so cool," he said. His grin widened, the tilt of his lips visible on either side of his mask, and Aizawa tensed under his hold as his jacket sleeve began to break away, and then those dry fingertips were touching the skin of his elbow, and then Aizawa felt a tingling, numbing sensation as his skin began to crack. His eyes widened as they began to crumble away, and he tried to jerk away from him; Shigaraki's grip was strong, though, and it only continued to grow tighter with each passing second. 

Midoriya hunched his shoulders and ran forward, knocking Shigaraki with his whole body weight, who wasn't expecting the attack and was caught off guard. He was sent rolling, and the man pressed his hands into the ground to slow his movement. The man growled lightly under his breath as he pushed his arms from underneath him, forcing himself back up. 

He swayed on his feet before lurching back forward, aiming a hand right at his face. Midoriya ducked, grabbing onto the outstretched arm and holding Shigaraki still for just long enough that he could send a high kick up to his chin. Shigaraki groaned at the impact, but he landed his other hand on Midoriya's shoulder. Midoriya's eyes widened, and he yelped as he felt the cloth of his vest and then his jumpsuit start to turn to dust. Grabbing the wrist, he twisted it until the man let go of him, and he pedaled backward to put some distance between the two. 

Shigaraki made a guttural scoffing sound as his nails found the part of his neck that wasn't covered in hands, and he scratched deeply. Aizawa took a step back, pulling Midoriya even farther with him. 

"You kids," the unstable man muttered. His scratching dug deeper into his skin. "You're all so annoying. All I want is to kill All Might, and yet you keep on getting in my way—" He stopped scratching as he glanced over to the side, at the edge of the platform, where All Might was setting down a nauseous-looking Mineta and a pale Asui. There was blood in the latter's hair, and pink, blood-tinted water rolled down the side of her face. 

"Ah," he said, a smile appearing on his face. "There you are." He giggled. "Go, Nomu." 

All Might didn't even hesitate to reciprocate the challenge, and he dove right back in with a punch to the nomu's head. A blast of air pressure sent Midoriya's hair swirling around his head, and he blew some of it out of his face as it covered his eyes. Aizawa suddenly grabbed him by his arm, pulling him to the side where Asui and Mineta were. "You and those two need to go and get out of here, now," he ordered. 

"You need to go, Midoriya," Aizawa said, looking into his eyes. "Go by the entrance. All Might and I have it taken care of." His grip tightened before he released him. Midoriya stood, frozen, before nodding. He turned and ran; he sprinted up the stairs. If he could stop Kurogiri, that would solve many of their problems—

He heard crunching. Midoriya paused as he turned. 

Blood on the floor. Blood in the nomu's hands. Blood on Aizawa. 

The nomu grabbed his head and shoved it into the ground, another loud crunching sound reverberating around the room. 

...

 

Aizawa's brain trauma was too severe. He didn't make it.  

Midoriya dug in his heels. He whipped his head around so he was facing the man, panic in his eyes. He felt his breath hitch as the possibility arose again. Even if these were at totally different times, the fact still remained that Aizawa wasn't ready and he could be killed and no, no, he couldn't let that happen! "I can't leave you alone with them," he hissed. "You'll die out there." 

Aizawa snarled back at him. "And what am I supposed to let you do, get yourself killed? This is not your job, it's mine. I'm meant to protect you, not the other way around, and I'm not going to let a future hero get himself killed." 

CRACK!

Midoriya had tripped. Aizawa had to save him. The thug snapped his back. 

He didn't make it. 

"And what is that future hero supposed to do without his teacher, huh?" Midoriya snapped back. "What about the other nineteen people in my class who need you?"

"There are more teachers than heroes," Aizawa retaliated. "I can be replaced. You can't." 

"Oh really?" Midoriya barked. "Then tell me, Aizawa-sensei, how many new-time heroes die a year because their teachers fed them lies? Because they weren't prepared for the job?" He could feel his eyes tearing up as his voice turned into a hushed, venomous whisper. "And how many have died early after you taught them? Our class doesn't need a replacement, they need Eraserhead." 

Aizawa's grip on his arm tightened considerably. "My teaching skills is beside the point," he replied. "Don't argue with me, Problem Child."

Midoriya felt a pang of hurt go through him at the familiar nickname. 

"Don't... die," Aizawa choked out. "... damn... Problem Child." 

He didn't make it.

"You—"  

"It doesn't matter about me!" Aizawa snapped loudly. "Your safety is what I care about! So stop worrying about me and worry about yourself!" He pushed him toward the other two students, who were already heading toward the entrance. (Asui was swaying, though, and Mineta had to help keep her up.) 

"How touching, Eraserhead." Aizawa zipped around, and Midoriya instinctively pulled out his escrisma stick. He shot out a single thick chain that wrapped around Shigaraki's ankle, pulling with what little strength he had left in his arms. The man stumbled slightly, but he pulled back equally hard, barely affected by Midoriya's intervention. 

"Go!"Aizawa hissed, his hair already floating above his head and his scarf growing lighter in weight. Midoriya hesitated. He didn't want to go, not when Aizawa had died so many times already. The last thing he wanted was for him to get hurt again. But, if he stayed, then chances were that Aizawa would get distracted with his attention split. If he got caught up with Shigaraki, then that would just make everything worse than before. 

But he didn't want to leave him. If Aizawa died... then what? He was just as big a piece of Class 1-A as the class itself. What would happen if he was killed? Would a replacement really fix things? 

He ducked his head in frustration but nodded, and he turned to face the stairs and ran. He got halfway there, panting as his tired legs pushed him to go further. His adrenaline was starting to wear off when the sounds of explosions caught him off guard, and he slid to a stop before twisting around. Bakugo had Kurogiri pinned down on the ground, smirking, while Kirishima pounced on Shigaraki. Todoroki was just running from the last part of his zone, which seemed to be the landslide area. 

Kirishima sent a wide swing of his fist toward the man's face, wearing his smile all the while he shot punches. Kirishima then, with some stroke of confidence, jumped on top of Shigaraki, sending him to the ground as he wrapped his hardened hands around the man's wrists. Aizawa was shouting something at the redhead—likely telling him to get out of the fight—when Shigaraki yelled out for Nomu, who was staring back at a panting All Might. 

"Nomu! Get this thing off of me!" 

No. 

Kirishima paled as he looked over to the nomu, eyes wide. "Huh?" slipped from his mouth. 

Midoriya blinked once. 

K̵i̵r̴i̷s̶h̵i̷m̸a̴ ̵w̴a̶s̷ ̸a̴s̴ ̶r̵e̷d̸ ̵a̸s̷ ̶h̵i̷s̷ ̴h̷a̸i̵r̷.̷ ̸.

=++++=++++=

"Nomu! Get this thing off of me!" Shigaraki yelled. 

Without thinking, Midoriya aimed the ends of both his escrisma sticks at the dark hulking figure. He felt his skin burst into tingles as nine thick, dark chains whipped around the nomu's open chest and abdomen. The nomu instantly looked up to him. It raised its hand, pulling against the chains as it grabbed one and squeezed. Its muscles tensed as it continued to try to break the link, but the metal stayed and refused to bend under its will. 

Midoriya clenched his teeth as the nomu tried to pull out of his chain's grip, and he dug his heels into the ground. Even so, he felt himself moving forward, his strength little compared to the creature's. Nomu's hand remained tightly around one of the chain links, squeezing it harder, harder, harder—

Midoriya felt white take over his vision. He gasped, feeling like something deep inside him had snapped and left him thoughtless. All comprehension fell out the window as a period of blank nothingness came over him. Before he could even see again, his head pounded angrily, a stabbing beat of constant pressure. He let out a small noise of pain as he blinked, trying to refocus his vision. When everything stopped spinning, he made out the broken chains on the ground and the saliva and blood at his feet. He tasted a slight tang of iron on his tongue as something trickled from the corner of his mouth. 

So he got backlash if the chains broke. Good to know. 

Stumbling as he tried to regain his balance, he blinked around at his surroundings. Kirishima was standing behind Aizawa, who was pale. 

But where was the nomu?

Midoriya felt static ring in his ears for a second, the sensation familiar. It reminded him of when Kurogiri's quirk was activated, when it made the hair on his arms stand up. Midoriya blinked as something cold centered near his back, and he tensed. 

His felt his eyes grow blank with shock. 

Todoroki turned to stare at him. His lips parted as something akin to dread flashed in his eyes. His right foot immediately sprung up ice, the cold, sharp texture crawling along the ground and closer toward him, but it was too slow. Aizawa was there, just a feet away, and Midoriya glanced toward him, terror thrumming under his skin. Even more static piled in his ears, in his eyes, and he felt his left hand grow still. 

I'm not going to let a future hero get themselves killed. 

Aizawa's goggles had been partially broken. Midoriya wondered when that happened. He also wondered why that red eye was so horror-stricken. A shadow fell over him, blocking out the lights from the top of the dome. 

Time travel, he frantically thought. Use it. Use it now. Use it now, now, you have to use it now—

He could feel his stomach twisting as Todoroki's ice came within a few meters from him. But it took time to successfully travel back, several precious seconds that he usually always had. 

You have to use it, you have to use it, faster faster faster faster faster

There was no way he had enough time. He didn't have enough time. He didn't have enough time. 

The nomu's shadow grew even longer as it finally exited the warp gate completely. Its clawed hand grabbed onto his shoulder, which smarted slightly from his wound. He wanted to look back, he wanted to fight, but the creature was so fast and he couldn't see and why wasn't his body moving any quicker than before?

It took the nomu a tenth of a second to appear behind Midoriya. Midoriya felt his eyes grow wide in stupor at the speed, not able to comprehend the hitch in his breath as he slowly turned his head. His heart was low and almost still in his chest, beating faintly and with hours in length between them. He glanced upward, feeling his shock just start to bleed into the beginnings of panic, but he needed time to actually feel something, and he didn't have that time. He looked at the thing in the eye, watched as its arm reached back, watched as its muscles stretched taught, watched as he felt his eyes continue to widen. 

Three more tenths of a second passed. 

Hurry up and move, change time, don't let him hurt you don't let him hurt you, don't let him hurt you, you're going to be okay stop please stop please stop stop stop stop stop stop

He felt ice underneath his feet as the nomu reared its arm back. Its muscles were stretched taught as it reached the end of its range. And then it came flinging back as if it were a boomerang, and Midoriya watched as it came ever closer, closer, closer. 

He exhaled. 

A blinding pain erupted from his side. He felt his feet lift off the ground as cold, frigid air rushing past him. Oxygen refused to refill his lungs as he flew backward. From the corner of his vision, he saw the man with the blonde hair next to the nomu, arm reached out as if to stop the attack from happening. 

He was too late. 

Your safety is what I care about! 

Midoriya glanced to Aizawa, who was frozen still. They locked gazes. Midoriya felt tears forming in the corner of his eyes. 

Sometime, somewhere, his back finally hit a wall. His head snapped back, causing a harsh impact to the base of his skull. Stars danced in his eyes as he slumped over. He felt lightheaded. 

Colors meshed into a swirl of pictures that didn't add up. He blinked several times to clear it, but he only found himself nodding off. There was an acorn-shaped blob in the corner of his vision. His eyes closed.

Don't die... damn... Problem Child. 

=====

"You're the only one that matters, Daizō." 

=====

Midoriya is curled up next to a man with long dark hair. The two are watching a movie that Midoriya had never seen before. Squished between the two of them, a small gray cat purrs happily. There are ungraded papers sitting on the coffee table in front of them, but neither of the two pay attention to it. 

The man brings an arm around Midoriya's shoulders, bringing him closer. "I promised I'd keep you safe," he says suddenly, breaking the silence. "I plan on keeping it." 

Midoriya nods. 

(He believes him.) 

=====

It was a tense three-day weekend. U.A gave the students an extra day off as they recovered. Yaoyorozu had to stop by Recovery Girl's office. She had used a lot of her extra fat cells in the exercises they did previous to the attack, and creating even more objects to use against the villains just exacerbated her condition. By the time the entire thing was over, she was a lot thinner than she usually should be. She was joined by Asui, who suffered a bleeding head injury while she held off several villains from the flood zone until All Might arrived. 

The two remained silent until Asui finally spoke up. 

"You look sad, Yaoyorozu," she said bluntly. 

Yaoyorozu rubbed her arm. "I suppose I am, Asui." 

"Call me Tsuyu," Asui corrected. "And, if I may ask, is this about Midoriya?" 

Yaoyorozu flinched. A memory of blood and a limp form being carried on a stretcher flashed through her mind. "That is correct," she said quietly. 

Asui stared at her for a long moment before she turned away. "Don't worry," she said. "He's strong. And I'm sure you'll be able to see him in no time." 

Yaoyorozu nodded, though she didn't feel any more relieved. "Yeah..." 

As they approached the gate, Yaoyorozu looked up at the sky. For all that happened, it was a clear day with little to no clouds. She blinked as the sun burned her eyes for a second. They watered, and she did her best to blink it away as she headed home. 

She unlocked her phone, ready to ask Midoriya if they could talk—if he could help her out because terrible things happened that day. 

And then she remembered what happened to him. Her eyes began to water again, though for an entirely different reason. 

And she burst into tears, letting herself sob as tears hit the screen of her phone. 

=====

Tsukauchi Naomasa came for a statement later that day. She said very little words. 

She didn't cry at all. 

(She didn't have any tears left.) 

=====

Translation: 

It's weird to say this, but... I'm forgetting a lot of the little details I remembered when I was younger. I guess it's a combination of all the past years and new experiences. Recently, I've just been writing whatever pops into my head, but I guess I should actually put everything into order, you know? At least that way, when... if I don't make it, and when if I leave this for someone to find, they can decode what I'm writing and make sense of it. And like I said, I'm forgetting the details, so I should probably write this sooner rather than later. Maybe I'll leave it behind for Nedzu, yeah? He's smart enough to figure out and translate what this all means. 

Anyway, I should start with the original timeline, I guess. Before I actually time traveled? 

From what I know, Class 1-A was entirely the same, except Uraraka was crippled from the entrance exams (as I've previously mentioned), and Monoma Neito was in my place. Shinsou took Monoma's place in Class 1-B, though I guess he's in General Education now. 

At the end of Class 1-A's first year, the League of Villains attacked. I'm not sure where, though I think it was during an exercise where everyone was spread out in U.A.'s different training fields. I can't be for sure though, but this is what I remember what I was told. The League attacked two more times, though it was at the beginning of the second year. 

After those three attacks, All for One lead an army of hundreds of nomus into U.A.'s campus, which was later called U.A. Judgement Day. Supposedly. But just recently, I got a... flash of a memory? I don't remember ever having this conversation, but I hear Maiko's voice speaking to me... and she's saying that All for One wasn't the one to lead the invasion? Which leads me to believe it was someone else, but I have no idea who'd it be. But then she added that there was a reason I went back. Maybe the person who led the invasion has some sort of relationship with me? I'm not sure. Anyway, during the attack, All for One and All Might supposedly had a confrontation. The latter was killed, and All for One successfully massacred all of U.A.; apparently, that was when One for All was cut off and its legacy ended, though rumors have been spread about it continuously being passed down in secret. Class 1-A (then Class 2-A after they moved into their second year) put up quite a fight, or as much of a fight as you can get against All for One. They were the first to encounter him and the last to go down, even including some of the present third years. There was some talk about how it would be different if the last batch of third years, including someone named Mirio Togata, hadn't graduated yet. 

After U.A. and All Might fell, All for One then started to wipe out heroes. It was individual hits against heroes who were lower in the rankings, but they eventually took their toll. Heroes up to the new number one were run into the ground, and eventually the biggest were taken out. The ranking system fell into shambles, and Japan's government collapsed. The police force were nothing against the League of Villains. Meanwhile, thousands of people flocked to the group. Even everyday people joined, smart enough that they knew they would get special benefits if they just surrendered. A lot of those families continued to stay in power down the road, but at the time, many were just tired of the constant bloodshed and wanted some kind of peace. There were a few debates that, if all of Japan unanimously attacked the League of Villains, it could be destroyed. However, All for One was nothing but good with his words, and so Japan crumbled. 

Other nations started to grow worried, and so they sent their own heroes and supplies to the country and police force. There was already a shortage in other countries of heroes, however, and just left even more open holes. It took a few years, but All for One managed to take over Japan and started rebuilding it, fighting back against other nations that continued to try to overthrow him. As he waited for Japan to get its feet back underneath it, he began to teach the new generations about what honor it meant to be under his rule, and what was expected of them. 

(Like I said—he's really good with his words.) 

At the same time he waited for Japan to regain its strength, he... uhm, he created a "breeding ground." He'd find people with excellent quirks, sometimes even young teens, and force them into... into procreating. At the time, he was trying to find enough effective age-resistant quirks that he could gift to Shigaraki and his highest followers (like Kurogiri and Dabi and such), but there weren't many of them. The quirk was highly sought after and rare, and so he had to find a more... efficient way of getting them. The program wasn't known to the public, and the family and friends who knew the person selected would often be paid or fed lies about what kind of... role they were fulfilling. Once his successor's life and ability to reign was established, he moved on to other kinds of quirks, such as powerful emitter-type ones or regeneration kinds. He also created a different program to figure out how to give someone multiple quirks without the backlash. It was rough for the first few years, and they just barely managed to give Shigaraki and everyone else their age quirks. After centuries of studying, they found several new techniques and such, which eventually led to the improvement of nomus. So they were... stronger than before. 

Anyway, back to when Japan was regaining their strength, All for One sent Shigaraki and his League to take over parts of Asia, or areas close to it. While Shigaraki wasn't as good of a speaker as All for One was, he still was extremely effective and brutal in planning effectively. Shigaraki took, if I remember correctly, parts of Korea and Taiwan. Then they struck the Philippines, Indonesia, and huge chunks of China and Mongolia. Within thirty years, they had become a huge threat to the rest of the world—and even more so to the nations when the sort of "utopia" that All for One created drew in a lot of support. People from all across the world came to Japan and Shigaraki's strongholds, asking to help their cause. All for One's grand influence was even stronger because of the tensions between countries and the people. With so much battling going on, there were huge repercussions to the economy. Overall, the people were worse off than they had been in decades. Twenty years later, Shigaraki had doubled the amount they had taken in before. And then, like some kind of explosion, they managed to take over all of China and India and half of Russia in seven years. It's known in the history books as the Domino Revolution. They named it that because the following countries after that fell faster and faster, each battle next fought over land less like a battle and more like a massacre. I guess it's supposed to be named after the domino effect. 

The last two countries to go down were Mexico and Brazil. It took centuries to fully gain control of them, even after they surrendered. And even then, All for One's power and influence over the people there were restrained. People lied to the troops that came into the country about their quirks, they would disappear off the map before launching attacks on them, they refused to obey to several policies that were passed... Though both were equally resistant, however, Mexico had a lot more power than Brazil did. Unlike Mexico, who fought in clustered waves and in the shadows, Brazil made it clear that they'd rather die than be under All for One's rule. They openly fought tooth-and-nail against All for One's troops, and half the population was slaughtered. Because there weren't as many people there, their power was simply weaker than Mexico's was. So, the rebellion, which hadn't yet conformed into one group, were placed in Mexico. 

This became extremely ironic after a few hundred years and after the rebellion formed together; All for One's wife was a Spanish woman herself. Her family was a huge resistant force against All for One's rule, though they were all killed before she truly had any understanding of what was going on. She was too young. She grew up in Central America, Guatemala. All for One, who still suffered from the scars from his first battle with All Might, decided to try to use her quirk (which allowed a person to recover completely from anything as long as they truly loved her) to his advantage. He hadn't actually expected to fall in love with her, but he did; a lot of people were unhappy with his marriage, including Shigaraki. If they had a child, then he wouldn't become the next successor to the throne, whenever All for One decided that time had come. 

Anyway, All for One was completely healed and stronger than ever before. The Spanish woman, my grandmother, gave birth to my birth mother and Maiko (they were twins; however, the world only knew that my birth mother existed, and had no idea that Maiko did as well.) My mother was quirkless, while my aunt, Maiko, was not. All for One forced a shapeshifting quirk onto my mother, and then she eventually ran away in her teens. Around the same time, Maiko asked for permission from All for One to infiltrate the rebellion. She did successfully, and was soon placed on the council for her prowess. Once again, around the exact same time, my mother and my father met. They eventually had Kimoto  Daizō, me, on July 15th, 3019. 

My mother, who I wish I knew the name of, had burned me in 3023, approximately. I used my quirk in front of her on our single cat (it had a vaulting quirk or something and hated it with a passion) and she freaked out. Reminded her too much of All for One. My mother and father fled. Maiko found me, took me into the rebellion, and from here on out is what my entries are usually based on.  Addition from Future-Self: Maiko and my father met up. They had some sort of conversation, and my father gave up his quirk, Memory Exchange, to Maiko. Maiko's quirk, Contaminate, allows her to link a person's quirk of her choosing with herself. After a period of time, the person's quirk will start to grow unstable. The person's body or mind will reject the quirk, and it shuts down, degrading itself until there's nothing left. At the same time the quirk is leaving the person's body, it is building in hers.

While I was there, I made friends with Seiya. (Quirk: Time Manipulation.) He was assigned the duty of turning back time to prevent All for One from killing Class 1-A. I was assigned to kill present All for One if it didn't work out correctly. Maiko leaked our base's coordinates to All for One when I was six, which was placed in Mexico. That was where Seiya was paralyzed from the waist down, and where I was captured by Shigaraki. A quarter to a half of our people were killed, and we had to flee to Brazil for a new base. For a year I was in their hands... so yeah. Maiko and the council eventually managed to launch an attack on the headquarters of All for One and get me back. It was a huge blow to All for One's power, who was having a literal ball in his capital for the nobility. And... it was kind of epic? Not going to lie, I was practically the court's jester as I stood by All for One the entire time, getting laughed at and petted like an animal. And then the windows just burst open, and in they came, wrecking fucking havoc. I was over the moon that they managed to get me out of there. 

But back to the subject at hand. When I came home, things sort of settled down, even after Seiya committed... committed suicide and gave me his quirk. The rebellion got a little bit of support after their little stunt. Things actually seemed to be getting better, and we were gaining a little strength. (Though the first few months were slow, and a lot of our people starved to death from how little food we got. It took around a year before this incline of support actually happened, so I was around eight.) Some of the council members were actually confident that we'd be able to do something—

And then Maiko betrayed us for a second time. She... it was a mess. It was like U.A. Judgement Day all over again. There were hundreds of nomus again, ones more powerful than you'd ever seen. Shigaraki and All for One were there too. Maiko and I hid, and we just... watched. It was horrifying. And then, when Maiko took a stand against All for One... 

Even after all she did, watching her die was awful. 

The thing with Seiya's quirk, though... well, it's odd about these kinds of things. Using it in any other circumstance, I could and can only use it for a few minutes at best, maybe a few hours if I'm lucky. And using it more than three times in a short period of time hurts like a bitch. But... I guess when you're super emotional and stressed, or when you loose everything, it makes it easier to use. I myself have no idea how the hell I managed to travel back all those hundreds of years, but dammit I'm not complaining. I did it, even if it was shitty to get to that point. 

Anyway, with Time Manipulation, my body doesn't move back; my mind does, however. For example, if I were to go back eight years ago, I would have the body of a fifteen-year-old in a seven-year-old's body. If my body did go back, you'd have a seven-year-old me staring up at an older version of myself, wondering where the hell I came from. This is also why during the entrance exam, I didn't suddenly disappear from fighting robots to appearing where the zero-pointer was supposed to show up. Instead, my mind traveled back, and so I was in the middle of fighting robots, froze, and then had less than thirty-seven seconds to get my behind over to where Uraraka was. 

This is a long explanation to basically say that, hey, I don't have a body in the twenty-third century. So, in order to preserve myself from basically disappearing into thin air, I had to break the "Universal Strings" (Seiya called them that) instead of just following them backward. So hey, if shit hits the fan because I did that, well shit! Oops! My bad! Sorry guys, that was my fault. But anyway, that was why I was stuck in Brazil for a while. So... yeah? For a couple months I hung out under a bridge when Midoriya Hisashi (Quirk: Fire Breathing; Alias: Ignition) found me. He named me Midoriya Izuku, gave me the birthday of March the twelfth, and then we were done. 

Eventually, Inko, who couldn't handle Hisashi's bullshit, left. And when Ignition and his infamous organization was revealed, he put me in a random apartment somewhere far away and then disappeared off the map as to not get caught. How did he find me in the first place, however? Well, when I broke my "Universal String," I sent off a lot of wavelengths that his group picked up. (He had his own small stronghold and business in Brazil as well.) He spent years trying to figure me out, but none of his calculations were working out. When he realized that the core of his problem relied on the fact that I was in Brazil despite my obvious relation to Japan, he managed to narrow down the possibilities. Though he'll never be able to fully understand the concept of time and how to warp it himself, he managed to find similar readings with other experiments; this includes the time when, in space travel, time moved at different speeds. 

Of course, the bastard never could've figured it out if it weren't for his buddies, but whatever. He eventually managed to connect the dots that I had to do something, though I don't think he knows what that something is. 

Damn, that was way too fucking long. My hand hurts so badly. I thought this was going to a simple explanation, not a freaking history lesson. What happened to not writing essays for journal entries??? Anyway, as of right now, I have nothing else to say. Except for the fact when I felt time changing. It wasn't me. But, now that I've mentioned it, I feel like some Universal String snapped. 

Which really worries me, because nothing changed on my end. So they couldn't have gone further back than my time period, or else I would've known if something changed. Maybe? Hopefully. Or would I even feel the Universal String break if it already happened?

Why is time so damn confusing????????

=====

Midoriya Izuku was a bit of an anomaly. That, Todoroki Shouto could admit. Did he support the boy? No, not really. Was he hostile toward him? Again, no. Midoriya simply existed, just like the rest of his classmates did. 

And then Todoroki watched as Midoriya, who he had never seen use his quirk before, trap the anti-All Might with his power. Though the villain's weapon had escaped from Midoriya's grip, the boy still had managed to delay him, if only slightly. (Todoroki still couldn't get the blank look on his face out of his head as he whipped around, only to be sent flying like a limp doll. His impact in the wall farthest was painful to the ears of everyone who saw it happen, spiderweb-like cracks forming around the area he hit.)

Midoriya spent four hours in surgery as they gave him several blood transfusions. It would be longer, but U.A. had a contract with a hospital that specialized in the injuries of heroes. Several of its most effective doctors had been in working hours at the right time, and Midoriya was in some of the best hands in the country. Recovery Girl had arrived later, speeding the process even further. 

He spent another day and then some in a medically-induced coma. They just took the last of his sedatives off, waiting for him to finally wake up from the last effects of the medication. They left him on his pain medicine, though, most likely because he would be in pain when he woke up. 

Todoroki himself didn't know the full extent of his injuries. His stomach and lungs suffered some damage, which was to be expected. He had bruised at least half of his ribs on the side he was punched in, and a few had even shattered under the pressure. Luckily, his spinal cord didn't snap, and his skull hadn't fractured either. 

However, he suffered some serious bruising to the the side of his head, and the doctors apparently said that he shouldn't move his neck too much after he began his recovery. Plus he would suffer from a lot of headaches from the head wound, and that someone should keep an eye out on how much pain medication Midoriya took. (Todoroki had a feeling that they believed he would try to take more than he should and get addicted to it.)

It took Todoroki a lot of cautious working to get all of his answers. Because Endeavor was the No. 2 Hero, and his son was in Midoriya's class, he was privy to much of the information that was gathered. He had to constantly toe the line of his father's patience to get them. As a result, training with him was even harder than it could have been if he kept his mouth shut, but it was worth it. Though the old man growled at him, calling Midoriya a weak chain in their class if he couldn't even protect himself, Todoroki knew better. There were some things that people simply weren't prepared for. 

It wasn't until his third day off that he finally got the courage to leave outside. While it was unlikely, it would be dangerous if the villains decided to attack each student individually instead of altogether. Todoroki was confident enough in his abilities that he knew he could defend himself long enough for help to arrive, but he'd rather not have his father get irritated with him because he was caught off-guard. (He also would rather not get hurt, either; he had enough pain to deal with, thank you very much.) At the moment, however, Endeavor had been called out to a job somewhere far away, and he wouldn't be back for another few hours. 

Todoroki left with a goodbye from Fuyumi and a promise to not get hurt. She watched his receding form with worry, but she didn't try to stop him. She knew how important and precious time alone meant to Todoroki, especially if it meant time away from his father. Though it was cold out, Todoroki had little to worry and didn't bring a jacket. While he hated using his fire, his body would subconsciously heat his right side up when he was cold. 

Though it was only a few degrees, or even less so, it was still enough to balance out his temperature. (However, he'd always be warmer on his left and colder on his right, not matter how hard he tried otherwise. He always had to be careful which side he used when he grabbed something, especially another person. Several times he had slightly burned Fuyumi when he used his left rather than his right; she had a slight sensitivity to hot things because of her quirk.) 

Todoroki sighed as he passed a bakery. The smell that wafted from the open doorway made his mouth water, though he refused to stop by it. He remembered having pastries as a little kid, but food like that was unhealthy to his diet. So Endeavor, of course, prohibited him from eating anything like that. (Natsuo sometimes snuck some in for Fuyumi and him, though, and he couldn't deny his brother then. Not when he gave him those puppy dog eyes.) 

The day was reasonably nice, not that he really paid any attention to where he was going. Which was maybe why he found himself subconsciously walking toward the hospital Midoriya was at. Maybe. Kind of. Perhaps. 

He sighed as he recognized the sign above the entrance of the sliding doors. Of course he came here of all places the day he was trying to relax. It wasn't like talking with people stressed him out or anything, no. He was just awful at it and it made him cringe. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he entered through the doorway, walking into the heated room. Almost immediately he could feel his right side cooling himself off so he wouldn't get too hot. He stood there awkwardly for a few seconds as several people glanced up to look at him before going back to what they were doing. 

Todoroki sighed again as he made his way to the desk. The man who sat behind it was humming lightly to himself as he tended to another patient. He waited patiently (okay, so maybe not that patiently, but he knew that it was disrespectful to speak out and demand attention when clearly there were people who needed this more than he did.) As the two talked, he looked around the lobby for a moment, which almost seemed overdone with how extravagant it was. Of course, U.A. had a little bit to do with it, so it was expected. 

The woman who was talking with the receptionist finally nodded before saying a quick "thanks" as she walked away. Todoroki was then put in the spotlight of the man's smile. 

"How may I help you today, sir?" he asked, bright as always. Todoroki noticed the way his eyelashes almost seemed to flicker in and out of focus as the light hit it. 

Todoroki leaned toward the man, resting his crossed arms on top of the desk. 

"I was wondering if you could tell me which room Midoriya Izuku is in."

=====

Midoriya wasn't expecting any visitors. His parents obviously weren't going to be there, and none of his classmates were allowed to come in. Tsukauchi had entered the room when he first woke up, asking him a few questions then, but he left as soon as he came. 

From what he heard, Aizawa was in the room across from his. He wasn't sure what kind of injuries he received. He had asked the doctors and nurses that had stopped by to check up on him about his condition, but they refused to say. Apparently, the man had went as far to tell the staff to not say a word about it to Midoriya. (It was annoying how Aizawa seemed to know what he was going to do before he did it.) He had also tried to ask them about his classmates, but they too refused to say a word. 

He was pretty sure it was because they didn't want to worry him. If anything, it was annoying. How was he supposed to even rest if he didn't have any idea what was going on? He was wasting time as he waited. If someone had died or received permanently damaged, he could rewind time and fix it. But the longer time passed, the harder it would get to go back that far. 

(He was also tempted to rewind time to keep himself from getting hurt in the first place, but decided that he'd rather not risk someone else getting killed, assuming that no one did. On top of that, that would just be selfish of him; while recovery would be a pain, it was just that—something that he could recover from. To use it to his own advantage... (He was terrified that he'd become corrupt and use it for worse things than he was meant for.))

It took him a few minutes to sit himself up. His side hurt like hell, even with the medication, and several times when he tried to push himself up he fell back down, panting as he struggled to breathe properly. With the help of a nurse, he managed to get his back against the headboard, leaning against several fluffed-up pillows. 

He liked the nurse. His name was Alex, and he was born in the USA. He was pretty sure the man said he was from North Carolina, or maybe it was Virginia. He wasn't positive. The man had chatted with him for a little bit when he was free, and he managed to slip him a book to read. 

"It's my favorite," he admitted. "It's a little hard to read, though." 

Midoriya recognized the title. To Kill a Mockingbird. The man explained a bit of its background to him. When Midoriya didn't know a word, he would mark its place with a sticky note and ask the man when he stopped by. They chatted in a mix between English and Japanese. Midoriya, whose pronunciation was mediocre at best, spoke in English as the man talked him through it. Alex would speak in Japanese, and Midoriya would give him a few tips as well (though Alex needed very little of it. He had lived in Japan for almost seven years now, so it was mostly little things.) 

Alex was nice though. Midoriya appreciated it a lot, especially since he wasn't so bland and obviously faked like others were. Though all of the nurses were kind and respectful, very few were as bright and bubbly as Alex was. (Although, Alex was a bit of a mess. Several times he walked in, blinked at Midoriya, and then devolved into a fit of sobbing as he proclaimed that he forgot to pick up what he was meant to give to him. Or that he forgot to give a patient something.) 

Midoriya finished the page he was reading within a few minutes. He marked two new words before writing them down on a notepad to his left, which had definitions written on it for him to use as he read. He turned the thick page, cheering to himself as the chapter was almost over. The last page was only filled halfway with words. 

He was about to start it when there was a knocking sound by his doorway, and he lifted his head toward the noise. He made sure to keep his movements slow, lest he hurt or aggravate his wounds. 

He was greeted with white and red hair. Midoriya blinked in surprise before he shut his book, setting it on top of his notepad on the bedside table. He waved the boy in with his hand, clearing his throat as he tried to raise his voice over the humming of the oxygen tank beside him. Though he was starting to breathe easier, they still wanted to keep him on it for another day. The doctor gave him permission to take it off for a few minutes if he wanted to talk, and so he pulled the mask from his face as he dragged the straps along the back of his head downward so it rested around his neck. He brushed against the bruises along his head, and he flinched slightly, though the pain was manageable. 

"I'm surprised you're here," he said, wincing as his voice cracked slightly. "I didn't think that anyone but family was allowed clearance."

Todoroki awkwardly took a seat by his bedside. He cleared his throat and refused to look directly at him. "Being the son of the number two hero has its perks, I suppose." 

Midoriya snorted, ignoring the slight twinge of pain from his side. "That explains a bit," he agreed, before his face turned solemn. Silence came over them, a sort of tense kind since neither of them knew what to say. Finally, Midoriya spoke up. "The staff won't tell me anything that happened," he said, rubbing his hands together. "Can you... tell me if everyone's okay?" 

Todoroki nodded. "None of the students got too badly injured except for you. Yaoyorozu overworked her quirk, though, so she had to stop by Recovery Girl's office. One of the other girls had a minor head injury." He shrugged after. "All the other students only got minor scratches or bruises." 

Midoriya sighed in relief and let the tension in his shoulders go. "And the teachers?" he asked, hopeful. 

Todoroki cocked his head to the side but spoke either way. "Aizawa got both his arms injured by Shigaraki, the hand villain. I don't know when the first arm happened, but Shigaraki got his second arm by the mist villain. He used a portal to separate Aizawa's top half from his bottom, and Shigaraki managed to hold him down that way. Took advantage of him too, and injured his left eye pretty badly. I doubt it was enough to make him go blind in that eye, but it was enough." He frowned. "All Might sent the "last boss," as Shigaraki called it, through the top of the dome." 

Midoriya's eyes brightened. "Through the roof?" he asked. 

Todoroki hummed in agreement. "Shigaraki got knocked around a bit, and he was shot several times by Snipe when reinforcements arrived. Nowhere lethal, of course, but still. Mist villain was barely hurt, and he and Shigaraki used his quirk to escape. The anti-All Might had frostbite and was beaten heavily." 

Midoriya raised an eyebrow. "Frostbite?" 

Todoroki looked away, a bit of color filling his cheeks. He coughed awkwardly. "I stuck him in a glacier after you got hit." 

Midoriya stared blankly at him. "You know, if I could laugh right now without hurting myself, I'd be in a fit." 

Todoroki looked faintly alarmed. "I'd rather you not." 

Midoriya snorted again. "I'll do my best." 

Todoroki shook his head but continued. "Anyway, after I froze the thing, All Might managed to easily take care of it. Aizawa... well, the best way to describe it is a rampage. Practically broke Shigaraki's face in." 

Midoriya sighed. "I will never be able to understand that man," he lamented. "But everyone's doing all right?" 

Todoroki hesitated. "I don't know. Physically? Probably. But whether or not they're okay mentally is up in the air. I don't think they were ready for this." 

Midoriya was quiet for a moment before glancing at him. "But you were?" 

Todoroki shrugged. "I wasn't not prepared." 

"And is that why you were able to immediately react when you saw the nomu?" Midoriya asked.

Todoroki tensed. "I wasn't fast enough." 

"Neither was All Might," Midoriya replied. He turned his head so he was facing the wall in front of him, his neck starting to ache from looking at Todoroki. More pieces started to click together. There was no reason that Todoroki would bother himself and try and strike up a conversation with Midoriya unless there was a reason. "Is that why you're here? To apologize?" 

"I could've saved you," Todoroki said. 

"And you could've saved yourself," Midoriya replied. "But you didn't. You joined the fight." 

Todoroki's hands clenched tightly into fists. "I didn't do it to save anyone. I did it to stop the villains." 

Midoriya played with the back of his hand. "And yet you still tried to save me anyway." 

Todoroki let out a long sigh. "'Tried' doesn't cut it." 

Midoriya hesitated before placing a hand on Todoroki's shoulder. His own stung slightly from the movement, but it was dulled and easy to ignore. "'Tried' is better than nothing, Todoroki. You were faster than Bakugo and I. Neither of us moved at all to stop it." 

"You didn't even see it coming." 

"I should've." 

"How?"

Midoriya froze and let go of Todoroki, looking away from him. That was a good question. How? Well, if he had a better grasp on his Time Manipulation, then he'd be able to slow time around him long enough to get his wits about him. Or, at least, long enough to have a knee-jerk reaction and protect himself. But that wasn't something he was about to tell Todoroki; that secret was dangerous, and he was just speaking with his classmate for the first time. There was no way that he could trust him with that just yet. 

Maybe another day, then. 

(He then remembered his promise to Yaoyorozu that he'd explain everything to her. He planned on keeping that promise, but he had no idea when.) 

Todoroki seemed to notice his stillness and changed the subject, though it wasn't that much better. "Your burn scar..." Midoriya flinched as Todoroki looked at the side of his neck, which was on full display without anything to hide it. "... I'm guessing that's why you wear scarfs all the time. That makes sense." 

Midoriya looked back at him, eyebrow raised. "But...?"

Todoroki seemed uncomfortable as he spoke. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought you had green eyes." 

And Midoriya felt his stomach drop low, low, low. 

=====

Todoroki would never admit it, but it was weird seeing Midoriya with light coppery-orange eyes. Not that it was bad-looking, just... different. When he pointed it out to him, the boy paled before flushing from the tips of his ears down to his chest. 

"O-oh," he squeaked. "I wear contacts is all! M-my dad thought I-I suited my m-mom's eyes more th-than his!"

(Unbeknownst to Todoroki, Midoriya lied. It was true that Midoriya got his eye color from his real father, but it was Hisashi—his "adoptive" father—that asked for Midoriya to wear the contacts. And they were Inko's eyes' color, not his birth mother's, whose eyes were onyx black.)

Todoroki hummed. (He still didn't understand why his parents weren't even there.) 

=====

"Aizawa, are you sure that you want to teach tomorrow?" It was Nedzu speaking. "Perhaps you ought to take a day off. We want the best experience for our students, and your health is important to their education!" 

Aizawa grunted. "I'm fine." He didn't elaborate any, and kept his words straight to the point. 

It was something that Yamada could appreciate, really. While he himself always had to keep a smile on his face and his energetic persona up, sometimes he found himself wishing to just be... normal. And, as a host for a radio show, he also had to sound animated and always be ready to give people some love. He was approached by many people and heroes during his time on and off duty, and many used fancy words to express themselves. And sometimes, he couldn't keep up with what everyone was saying when they continued to ramble on and on. Were they trying to be mean? Were they being nice but just sounded gruff? While he prided himself in being a good friend to everyone, he was known not to read a situation or a person very well. 

Which is why he enjoyed Aizawa. He said what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted, and meant pretty much every word of it. He was blunt and to the point, and Yamada, while he often didn't listen to the man, understood every word of it. 

(But he also knew that Aizawa was not fine, and that he was actually in a lot of pain. He didn't say anything about it, but the thought was still there.) 

"Are you sure?" Midnight asked. It was one of the few times she actually outwardly expressed concern. She had to keep up her persona, after all, and sadistic women like her couldn't be doting on her friends like a mother hen in public. 

"Yes, I'm sure," Aizawa snapped back, and everyone's arguments disappeared from the tips of their tongues. Aizawa sounded tired and ready to punch someone in the face. He had bandages covering both his arms and a brace around his left ankle from falling awkwardly while in Kurogiri's portal. He also had several casts on his fingers—many of which had been broken somewhere somehow. Aizawa refused to mention where he got most of his wounds, only explaining that Shigaraki messed up his right eye, which was covered in bandages that wrapped around his head. 

Yamada sighed but cleared his throat. "So, you called for us for a reason in this meeting, Principal Nedzu?" 

Nedzu pressed his paws together. "Ah, indeed I did!" His smile, though ever-present on his face, had a dark undertone to it. "First of all, the elephant in the room: the USJ attack." There were a few flinches in the room. "A breach in our security, and a failure on Yuuei's end. Already we are receiving backlash for what happened, especially because of the severe injuries that one of Class 1-A's students had gotten." The principal rested the end of his snout on his two paws, the usual glimmer in his eyes long since petered out. "As a result, we have much to discuss on both upcoming events and the stability of the students harmed." 

Snipe leaned forward in his chair. "Does this mean we're gonna skip the Sports Festival? That would be another blow to Yuuei's reputation. We're on thin ice as it is now." 

"But should we really put so much pressure on them when such an event like this has happened?" Midnight countered. "While the mind is a flexible thing, they are still knew to the idea of heroics. At this time, they should be worrying more about showing off their quirks instead of the holes in hero protection. Putting too much strain at on time can make them break." 

"Or it can make them stronger," Cementoss said. "Bouncing back from things like this is part of being a hero." 

"But they're not heroes," Yamada butted in. "They're little kids who aren't supposed to even be seeing this kind of stuff until their second or third year. First year is meant to ease them into the idea of heroics and getting all the basics lined out. It's about understanding what kind of hero you're going to be and how you're going to be it. This is not one of those skills." 

"But it happened," Vlad King stated. "And now we have to teach them so they can become prepared." 

"Is a sports festival really the way to teach them this skill, though?" Yagi asked. "And is it the right way to go, where they'll be under the pressure of thousands of people watching?" 

Midnight grumbled under her breath as she crossed her arms. "And we still have Yuuei's reputation to worry about. It's true that this could help us recover from the negativity from the attack." 

"If we're going to do the sports festival," Aizawa finally interjected, "at least give the students time to prepare. Give them a few weeks to steel themselves." 

Recovery Girl huffed. "And give your students a lesson about self-preservation, please. I don't need them overworking themselves just because." 

Nedzu laughed, a chipper sound that didn't reach his eyes. "Well of course, Recovery Girl. If we postpone the Sports Festival for a few weeks, would everyone reach an agreement to let the event happen? Of course, in order to add a little bit of flair, we'll have All Might hand out the awards while Midnight will serve as the announcer. Present Mic, you'll be our commentator."

There was hesitation, but everyone in the room eventually nodded. "Good! Now then, to my next point." 

Next point? 

"It is Yuuei's duty to create a new batch of heroes that people can look up to every year. However," he added, "we also have the assignment of protecting our students' safety. Though hero work will never be safe for anyone, we have to create an environment where our heroes-in-training can learn without getting permanently hurt." Nedzu pulled a few papers from who-knew-where and placed them on the table. "That is why I am suggesting a new idea to protect our students, and to keep them from harm. Any other suggestions are welcome, but I've gone through most of them, and each are ineffective at best and are little help to our current situation." 

The mouse-bear-rodent creature handed the papers, which were blueprints, to Cementoss. He didn't show any outward reaction, though his voice showed a slight surprise at what he saw. 

"A... dorm system?" 

Nedzu smiled. "Well, of course!" His smile grew wider. "I had been planning to send out forms and requests this coming week. While you, Cementoss, would be building all of the dorms within the weeks leading up to the Sports Festival and during said event, I will let parents and guardians give their own responses. Even if some refuse, it would be vital in securing the well-being of most of the students."

Aizawa seemed tense. "And when would the dorms be opened to the students?" 

"Glad you asked!" Nedzu said. "I had planned the students to view and move some of their necessary items into the dorms before their internships. After the internships are over, they would be required to completely move in." 

"Would parents be willing to give up seeing them so early on in their high school years?" Yamada asked.

"We would have to create some kind of visiting system," Midnight agreed. "Or something of the kind where students can go back home over the weekends." 

"Of course, of course," Nedzu said airily. "I can easily sort that out within no time!" 

Right. Yamada forgot that the creature was smarter than eight humans combined, maybe even more if he wracked his brain hard enough. 

"Is that all?" Vlad King asked. 

"I believe it is, Kan," Nedzu said as he stood up on his chair. "Thank each and every one of you for coming to this meeting. I will call you again if adjustments are required." 

There were a few confirmations, and most of the teachers stood up when Aizawa suddenly spoke. "Nemuri, Hizashi, stay please." He hesitated before adding, "You too, Yagi." 

Kayama Nemuri, or Midnight, blinked but smiled. "Of course," she said, and she plopped back down into her chair. Yagi hadn't even stood up yet, and so he remained right where he was. Yamada moved so that he was sitting closer to the remaining group. 

"Hmm." Nedzu pressed his paws together. "This must be pretty important if you of all people want to talk about it," he stated as the rest of the teachers left the room. "I hope you don't mind if I stay; it would make things much easier." 

Aizawa still seemed tense but nodded. "Of course. That might just make things easier, actually." He pulled the stack of files that he had with him so it would sit directly across from him. He usually always brought notes or papers with him that he was too lazy to put away before he came to the meetings. (He was always at least two minutes late every time.) 

Yamada had no idea what Aizawa was trying to point out as he pulled out Midoriya's files, however. He also pulled out a few laminated pictures and some records, though it didn't seem to make sense.

"I'm... confused," Kayama admitted as she stared at the pile of paper growing. 

Aizawa ignored her. "In all the time I was in the hospital, there was one thing that struck me as odd." He pointed to a packet of paper, and Yamada recognized it as registered visitors who came into the hospital. "As of right now, Midoriya has gotten two visitors: one from the police, and one of his classmates." 

"And...?" Kayama said, raising an eyebrow. 

Aizawa was... oddly patient with these kinds of things. It was why he was such a good teacher. He was strict, and he required a lot of effort in his class, but he was patient beyond words. "Tell me this: where are his parents in the picture?" 

Silence. Yamada had a sinking feeling in his stomach. 

"I did some digging these past few days," Aizawa added. "His father, Midoriya Hisashi, apparently works abroad. His mother, on the other hand, has recently fell off the map. She was reported as missing, but several of her friends that were interviewed always said the exact same thing: she wanted a new name, and she wanted a new life." 

Aizawa placed a picture on the table, which was of a woman with wide green eyes and matching hair. He tapped the side of the picture as he continued to speak. "It was also recorded that she filed a restraining order against him around the time that Midoriya was eleven before she promptly moved out and divorced him." 

Yamada started to bite his fingernails, a bad habit he had picked up during fighting. "Are you saying that Midoriya Hisashi is abusive?"

"Perhaps," Aizawa said. "It can't be ruled out. However, that wasn't the only odd thing I found." He pointed to yet another stack of files. "Midoriya Hisashi rented an apartment for him and Midoriya Izuku. However, I've received the same response every time I questioned a neighbor or the receptionist at the front desk: "Midoriya-kun is a quiet but sweet boy. I've never me the father or mother, though." The owner stated that he'd met the man once, when they were first moving in, but that was it." 

"Abandonment," Yagi breathed out. Nedzu remained ever silent. 

Aizawa nodded. "All the bills are automatically paid by a bank account under Midoriya Hisashi's name, though that same account has little to no connections. It gets restocked once every month. Enough money is always set out that everything required can be paid. Extra money is spent through a credit card, also under Midoriya Hisashi's name." 

"Does that mean we can track him down through his purchases?" Yagi asked. 

Aizawa shook his head. "No. I got a search warrant, and the purchases were being made by my student, not Midoriya Hisashi, through a credit card I'm guessing he left behind." 

Yamada crossed his arms. "Are we sure though that we aren't making a huge mistake? Maybe this is just a misunderstanding." 

"True," Aizawa admitted. "Or it would be, if I hadn't found this." He pulled out a plastic bag from inside the vanilla folder, which the corners were peeking out just slightly before, and inside was a phone. He let it sit on the table. 

"A phone?" Kayama asked. "What does that have to do with anything?" 

Aizawa leaned back in his chair. "Tell me, Nemuri, what is Midoriya Izuku's emergency contact number?" 

Her lips pinched as she glanced at Midoriya's files. "Shit," she cursed under her breath. "They're the same, aren't they?" 

"On top of that," he added, "I've interviewed anyone he's spent time with the most. He's been taking classes for years with certain instructors, and each one of them have all told me that they've never met any parental figure of his." He pulled out two last documents. "And, if that doesn't convince you, I'm hoping this does." 

He set one on the table. It was simple, really. It was Midoriya Izuku and Midoriya Hisashi's signatures on forms that both guardians and future students were required to sign. It had to do with honor code or something. 

"At first glance, it isn't obvious that Midoriya Hisashi's signature is forged. Both my student's and his are in different colors, different penmanship, different size, etc. However, that still doesn't account for this." Aizawa placed yet another document on the table. "This was something that I managed to scrounge up with the help of a few underground heroes. This document was signed somewhere in Beijing, China, four months ago, by none other than Midoriya Hisashi." Aizawa adjusted the two so they were sitting side-by-side for a comparison. 

"They're different," Yagi said. "Neither of the two look alike, at all." While the forged on was more curled and "loopy" as Yamada would call it, the second was tiny and in harsh strokes. 

"Shit," Kayama cursed again. 

"Shit indeed." Everyone's attentions turned back to Nedzu, who hadn't spoken at all during the conversation. "Midoriya had suffered terribly in the attack on USJ. To think that he cannot even receive support to heal from what happened to him..." Nedzu sighed and shook his head. "This is why I cannot stand you humans. You have no compassion for your own borne." 

Kayama shut her eyes and rubbed her forehead. "It's dangerous for him to be out on his own," she said quietly. "He can reside at my place in the meantime, if you want. Child abandonment is unacceptable, and if we have to bring Midoriya Hisashi to justice, well..." She reached for the cup sitting in front of her, taking a sip of water from it to clear her throat as Yagi spoke. 

"Are you sure that you don't want to put him into foster care?" Yagi asked. 

Kayama slammed the cup onto the table, and she glanced toward him with cold eyes. Her grip on the cup tightened before she breathed in deeply. She snatched her hand back into her lap. "Foster care isn't like it used to be in your time, All Might," Kayama said frostily. "That is the last place he should go." 

Yagi seemed surprised. "My apologies," he said softly, and she nodded stiffly. 

Yamada cleared his throat. "We're still forgetting that Midoriya hasn't agreed to this," he said quietly. "If he's... supportive of his parents, he may try to stop us." 

"Then we should ask him. Tonight," Aizawa said. "The longer he's alone, the more damage he suffers from."

"But there's also the fact that we'd have to interview him ourselves to see if there really is something else going on," Yagi said. "While the evidence is overpowering, there might really just be some kind of mistake." 

Yamada sighed. "Of course. When will he be released from the hospital?" 

Aizawa grumbled. "Tonight." 

Kayama's head snapped towards him. "That's impossible. His injuries were too severe."

Aizawa shrugged. "From the reports I collected, Midoriya has been hiding a little secret from us. Her name's Juni, apparently—she's a slug that hides in Midoriya's costume and scarf." 

Yamada blinked. "What." 

Aizawa rolled his eyes. "Don't ask me. The slug supposedly has a quirk that negated almost half the damage done to him by the anti-All Might. It also helped a little with his recovery by closing up some of his wounds. They're not sure of the specifics of the quirk, but some testing revealed that it can tweak and adjust the world around it." 

"Dang," Yamada murmured. "So he's really leaving tonight?" 

"With how successful his recovery was, he could've left this morning. The doctors just kept him for a while to make sure he was going to be okay." Aizawa crossed his arms. "He'll be required to be checked up on by an official doctor at least once every two days to see how he's doing, and he'll have to go through physical therapy. But they're hopeful that he can get back on his feet by the Sports Festival." 

Kayama sighed. "Thank goodness for people like Recovery Girl." 

"But that raises another question," Yamada said. "When are we going to address him? We can't just walk up to his apartment and say, "Hey, pack your bags, you're going to live with the R-rated Heroine for a while." That's suicide." 

Silence followed his remark. 

"Actually..." Nedzu's eyes gleamed. "I think you're onto something, Hizashi."

=====

Midoriya wanted to sleep. He had already finished a cup of tea as he and Juni watched a cringe-worthy TV show about superpowers that had been created before the development of quirks. The last episode finally ended, and in its place was a movie about a heroine called Wonder Woman. 

The beginning animation scene was just starting to begin when a knock was heard on his door. Huffing, he pushed himself off his couch, feeling himself sway slightly. Though his stomach protested any movements, he managed to shuffle over to the entrance. (His side hurt slightly from drinking the tea—though he was cleared to drink liquids, it still sometimes hurt to stomach anything. He was going to be drinking pretty much everything in replacement for food for a while.) 

The person at the door knocked again, and he grumbled. "I'm coming, I'm coming, Jesus, give me some time—"

He flung the door open to find a bandaged Aizawa, a smiling Yamada, and a grim-looking Kayama. He blinked thrice. 

"Not to be rude," he stated blandly, "but you guys chose the worst possible time to come over. I am the literal definition of a mess at the moment." 

Yamada rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Sorry bud, I thought that your parents would answer the door, not you. Are they here, by the way? I- we would like to speak with them." 

Midoriya felt his stomach turn to ice. "They're... not here. They work abroad, and Dad hasn't gotten the chance to come home." His mouth tasted bitter at the word of his missing parental figure, but he did his best to ignore it. 

"So it's just you at the moment?" Kayama sounded incredibly sad. 

"U-uh, yeah, it is..." He trailed off when the three passed knowing looks. 

"So," Aizawa started, "when's he coming home?" 

"I'm not sure," Midoriya said slowly. "He didn't specify. Just said that he'd come home as soon as he could." 

Aizawa hummed, and there was something about that look that made Midoriya feel like he was transparent. "Oh really?" 

Midoriya swallowed heavily. "Y-yeah," he squeaked out. "I-I can call him again, if you'd like?" He was sure that he'd left "Hisashi's" phone on the table (which is what he used to put on his emergency contact files.) Plus, he always kept it on silent, so it wasn't as if they could actually hear it, right? 

Yamada sent him a smile that almost seemed sad. "Sure, you should do that, kiddo." 

Midoriya was... terrified. And suspicious. But mostly terrified. He grabbed his phone, and old version which was battered around the edges—though he hadn't cracked the screen yet—and unlocked it. It took a few seconds before he found "Hisashi's" contact, and he pressed on it before holding it to his ear. Obviously, "Hisashi" wouldn't be able to pick up, but he could blame it on the fact that Hisashi was always busy—

Midoriya heard buzzing. His face paled. 

"Sorry," Aizawa said, "that's mine." And he pulled something from his pocket, a familiar phone that Midoriya recognized, because of course he recognized it, he bought it and that was his emergency contact phone and shit! 

Aizawa slid his finger across the screen and held it to his ear. He stared Midoriya directly in the eye. "So," he said, and it was odd to hear him both over the phone and face-to-face at the same time, "may we come in? We have quite a bit to talk about." 

Chapter Text

Aizawa knew that he was going to have to step carefully in the upcoming talk. The minute he pulled out the phone, Midoriya had grown extremely jumpy and quiet. He ushered the three of them inside his small apartment, leading them to the tiny living room near the kitchen.

He could tell that Midoriya had just been sitting there before they interrupted him-there was an empty mug on the small coffee table alongside some open journals. He noticed that the pages were written in a language that he didn't recognize, which he stored away for later. The TV was playing some old show that he couldn't care for. Clearly, Midoriya didn't care for it either, seeing how he turned it off immediately when they were all situated. Or maybe he just wanted his full concentration on the subject at hand.

Midoriya was sitting in the only armchair, leaving the long couch to the other three. They just happened to be situated across from one another, which made it easier for Aizawa to read the boy. (Not that the boy had ever been particularly easy to read. Emotions such as embarrassment or shy and timid were obvious, as the times when he was overwhelmed. But other emotions of his were hard to dissect, especially when he was lost in thought. There were too many things going on in his eyes at once to make out anything.)

Midoriya was obviously in a little bit of pain, and that made Aizawa feel slightly guilty. The teen was carefully slow as he moved, and he winced as he sat down in the chair with an almost-silent grunt. The boy's shoulders were tense, and he was sitting rigidly as he rubbed his hands together nervously. Aizawa was about to begin speaking when a beep could be heard, and Midoriya flushed.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled as he made to get up. "That's the chicken broth I was making."

Kayama laid a hand on his shoulder gently. "I'll get it," she promised before moving into the kitchen. "What's it for?" she called over her shoulder.

Midoriya cleared his throat awkwardly and ran a hand through his hair. (It was getting pretty long, and it almost reached his shoulders.) "I can't eat any solids for the next few days. It hurts to stomach it. The broth was my best idea for a pseudo-dinner instead of just drinking a bunch of juice."

Kayama nodded and came out of the kitchen not but half a minute later, a steaming bowl in hand. She set it in front of him, and he uttered a quiet "thank you" before she sat back down. Aizawa only just noticed the brown blob on Midoriya's thigh-Juni was the slug's name, right?

Midoriya started fidgeting with the scarf around his neck. "If I may ask before we start," he said quietly, "how did you get my phone in the first place?"

"Search warrant," Aizawa said. "I called the number from your emergency contact list and it buzzed. I bagged it and took it with me as evidence."

Midoriya swallowed heavily. "I see." His voice warbled slightly as he rubbed his palms around his knees. "I-I suppose you had some kind of... suspicions if you thought to do that."

"I had a feeling," was all Aizawa allowed himself to say. Midoriya continued to squirm underneath his gaze as another pregnant silence fell over them.

Kayama cleared her throat. "Would it be easier for us to ask questions, and then you answer them? Or perhaps you want to say something before we begin?"

Midoriya evaded her gaze as he shuffled his feet. "Questions, please."

Kayama nodded. "First of all, we wanted to clarify something." She took in a deep breath. "Your quirk obviously has to do with metal and chains, though we don't know the specifics." Midoriya grew even tenser, if that was possible. "However, your parents' quirks include fire breathing and mild telekinesis. No other family members of yours have quirks that resemble yours." Kayama clasped her hands together. "We were wondering if you had been adopted, or if your quirk was a mutation that caused this to happen."

Midoriya fidgeted slightly before speaking. "Y-you're right about me being adopted," he finally admitted. "I don't remember much of my childhood before them, though... I lived out in the streets." He cleared his throat again. "My quirk is called Chain Conjuring. It allows me to create chains from metals with skin contact. I can control their movement as long as physical touch remains. They meld back into the metal after a period of time."

Kayama nodded. "Thank you."

Aizawa crossed his arms over his chest. "Your official documentation says that you were born in Tokyo by Midoriya Inko. Obviously, the latter part of that isn't true, but are you from Tokyo?"

Midoriya shook his head. "Like I said, I don't know much about my background before they took me in, but... I lived in a Spanish-speaking country before we even met."

Well, that explains the slight accent.

"And is there a reason that they randomly decided to take you in?" Aizawa asked.

Midoriya flinched. His eyes turned stormy, full of emotions and a jumbled mess of explanations before stilling. "I'm... not sure myself," he said quietly. Half-lie. "I think... he mentioned something about a... a successor, but..."

"Did he have a company?" Yamada asked. "A business?"

Kayama leaned forward. "Or was it something illegal?"

Midoriya seemed to curl up even further into himself. Aizawa placed a hand on Kayama's shoulder, firm enough to get his message across. Don't overwhelm him.

"I-I-" he started. "I don't... know. I... He had a group of friends that he would hang out with all the time... and sometimes I'd hear them- planning? Yeah, I think that's what they were doing..."

Aizawa looked over to Yamada, his queue to ask a specific question. Kayama didn't have much tact, and Aizawa would say it too bluntly. Yamada, who was experienced with asking these specific questions, nodded back.

"We found some evidence that Midoriya Hisashi may have been in contact with a villain named Ignition," Yamada started slowly. Aizawa watched as Midoriya's left hand, which had been trembling, stopped moving altogether. The boy froze. "Had it ever occurred to you before that he could have been involved with activities not particularly legal?"

"No." Lie. "I never thought that... I mean, it would make sense... He was gone for long periods of time, you know? Up to two to three months before he finally reached out to us."

"So he doesn't work overseas?" Aizawa said. Midoriya's wording was too off for his liking, and he made it seem like his disappearances weren't for work—or, at least, the kind of work that he claimed it to be beforehand.

Midoriya shook his head. "I don't think so."

Hm. Midoriya Hisashi already had several run-ins with the police, though he was never caught or charged with anything illegal. However, it seemed like he was up to more than what he seemed and would have to go under further investigation. Now if only they could find the bastard, especially if he had contact with the infamous Ignition...

Kayama tapped the side of his wrist, a sign that he was supposed to be asking questions. It was supposed to be Kayama this time with these certain ones, seeing how she would do best with this kind of topic, but he could tell that she was on the verge of hurting someone and would lose her grip.

Aizawa stopped himself from sighing last second. He couldn't very well just ask him upfront how his parents treated him—Hiroji, someone he'd interviewed first when he was released from the hospital, said that Midoriya often downplayed things to an extent. He explained that it was mostly due to the fact that he wanted to get over it and try to forget it as soon as he could, which ended with mixed results. Sometimes it helped, other times it added fuel to the fire.

"Your mother," he began, "Midoriya Inko." It was a simple statement, but he watched as Midoriya flinched. "Was there a reason she left when she did?"

That wasn't the right question to ask, apparently. Shit.

Midoriya looked down at his lap and pursed his lips. Aizawa watched as his eyes watered. "I..." A shadow fell over his eyes. "I scared her off."

"How?" Kayama spoke this time. Her voice was carefully neutral, though Aizawa could see the anger flickering in her eyes. She clearly didn't believe him.

"I just..." He took in a shuddering breath. "I kept asking questions, kept pushing her about things that she was clearly suffering from... She was always suffering at his hand—"

"So he was abusive," Kayama said. Aizawa wanted to hit her upside the head.

"Y-yeah, to her—"

"And did he hurt you?"

Midoriya flinched. "N-no, not really—" Lie.

Kayama opened her mouth again, but Aizawa gripped her arm. Tightly. "Midoriya." The boy didn't respond. "Please understand me when I say that Inko made a mistake."

Immediately, Midoriya's face whipped upward. He glared at Aizawa, though it was weak and there were conflicting emotions in his eyes. "She left because she had to."

"And yet she didn't alert anyone else about you?" Aizawa shot back.

Midoriya's eyes narrowed, even as his lower lip began to tremble. "Hisashi would have hurt her. He told her not to."

"Clearly, she didn't care what Hisashi had to say though, did he?" Aizawa said. "Whether or not she was your birth parent, she took you in. It was her job as a parent to protect you, even if her own husband was the cause of your problems."

"She didn't decide to take me in, that was all Hisashi—!"

"Does it really matter, though?" Yamada interjected, his voice softer than either of theirs. "She could have easily alerted the police, a hero, anyone about you after she left. Any one of them could have helped you out of that situation. Instead, she refused you help for her own needs."

Midoriya's hands tightened into fists. "She cared about me," he said in a hushed tone. "She took care of me the best she could, she protected me from-from—" Midoriya's frown deepened as he cut himself off. 

"Hisashi," Kayama finished. "She protected you from Hisashi." She clasped her hands tightly. "But who protected you from her?" 

Midoriya opened his mouth, ready to snap back when Aizawa cut in. "Hiroji Chikara. He's your gymnastics instructor, correct?" Aizawa didn't even wait for Midoriya to confirm it when he continued speaking again. "All parents are different in how they raise their kids, but Hiroji is the core of what a parent should be." Aizawa leaned forward. "He's dependable. He's always open to question. He respects you." 

Yamada cleared his throat. "What he's trying to say—" 

"—if you replaced Inko with Hiroji," Kayama said, "would the circumstances be the same?" 

Silence followed their statements. Midoriya clamped his mouth shut. Aizawa took over the flow of the conversation again. "We're asking you to accept our help. Whether or not they held some semblance of love for you, the outcome is still the same. They abandoned you, left you to fend for yourself, and never reached out for someone to help you." 

Aizawa was expecting a lot of things to come out of his mouth as the boy's jaw clenched. Maybe he'd reject the statement, or maybe he'd put the blame on Hisashi again.

"Just- just stop."

"Midoriya—" Kayama started.

"I don't get it," he said, his voice once again growing small and wobbly. "I don't- I don't get it. Just—why? Why are you... why are you doing this? Why do even care?" His shoulders shook as his voice grew tight. "I don't—I've been li-living with myself for years now, so why—?"

Shoot. I forgot that he's still a fifteen-year-old kid. This is not the same person at USJ.

"We're heroes, Midoriya," Aizawa said patiently. "It's what we do. But even above that, we're your teachers. This—" He pointed to the empty apartment around them. "—is not okay. And we're here to help you because we care about you."

Midoriya ducked his head, and Aizawa watched as his shoulders shook and splotches of tears hit the back of his hands.

=====

At the end of the day, they didn't find much more about Midoriya's predicament. Aizawa showed him everything that he gathered while he was stuck in the hospital and after he was released, and Midoriya confirmed all of it. They had to lightly reprimand him for forging Hisashi's signatures, but it was halfhearted and it was obvious that they didn't care.  

Aizawa had a feeling, though, that Hisashi was more than just "someone who dabbled with crime."

=====

"So, your name's Daizō, huh?"

The aforementioned boy was curled into a small ball in the empty hallway, arms wrapped around his legs as he tried to keep warm. Or rather, the hallway was empty, but there was a new visitor there. Daizō glanced at the man who sat beside him, his crazy, wild hair spiked up around his head. He had dark scars that covered his lower jaw, parts of his chest, and his arms. His baggy clothing probably hid more, but Daizō couldn't tell from where he was sitting.

The man sighed as he pulled one of his legs up toward his chest. He rested his elbow on his knee, staring off into a place that Daizō couldn't see. "That's a nice name. Yeah, I think I like that."

Daizō pursed his lips as he stared at the man's bright blue eyes. "Are you... are you Dabi?"

The man's eyes snapped down to him, and he stared at him for a long moment before he eventually sighed. He leaned backward until his back hit the cold stone wall behind the two of them. "Dang. I didn't think that my reputation would spread this far," he muttered. Then, louder, "Yeah, that's me."

Another silence fell over the two as the seconds ticked away. As night time fell and the hallways began to get ever so slightly colder, Daizō shivered. He was wearing light clothing despite it being in the middle of winter, clothing that Shigaraki had given him after his last got ruined.

Dabi huffed as he noticed. "Shigaraki's an asshole, isn't he?" he said as he brought an arm around Daizō. He flinched at the movement, but Dabi was gentle as he brought him closer to his side. He was oddly... warm. "My quirk causes me to release more heat than the average person," Dabi explained. As an example, he held his other hand out in front of Daizō, letting a small blue flame flicker in his palm.

Daizō bit his lower lip as he wracked his brain. "People tell me that you're supposed to be harsh and cruel," he whispered. His lips were pulled into a frown as he shrunk into himself, obviously scared of the man's reaction from beside him. 

Dabi hummed. "Of course I am. I'm always scaring others." 

"You're not scaring me," Daizō said quietly, mostly without thinking. Dabi glanced at him with his electric blue eyes. 

"That's because I don't want to scare you," Dabi said as if it were obvious. He twirled the flame around in his palm so that it created a small sort of tunnel-like figure, almost like tornado. 

"But why not?" Daizō asked. "Why don't you want to scare me?" 

Dabi was quiet for a while. Eventually he spoke, though the gruffness of his words softened. "I have a few regrets I have to pay back." 

Daizō tilted his head to the side. "What kind of regrets?" 

Dabi clicked his tongue. He was scowling now, and Daizō was pretty sure he was stepping over lines that never should have been crossed. "I failed a person who should have been close to me." 

Daizō frowned and, despite his better judgement, asked his bugging question. "Who?" 

A sigh escaped Dabi's mouth. The flame in his hand flickered out, stray tendrils of smoke climbing through the air. Those cobalt eyes flickered with an emotion Daizō had never, ever seen on a villain before. 

"Someone I should've helped," fell from his mouth, and Daizō took it in quietly. He pursed his lips as he glanced away. He felt the heat continue to warm his side as he wracked his brain. And then those dark scars caught his eye again, and he felt a question burn at the tip of his tongue. He had a feeling that Dabi wasn't going to answer it. 

"Where—" Daizō began weakly. He cleared his throat as his voice cracked. He looked up into Dabi's eyes.  

"Where did you get your scars from?" 

=====

"Would you like to see anyone else before we go to my place?" Kayama asked quietly. The atmosphere was tense, and Midoriya had been silent the entire time he was in the passenger seat. 

Midoriya was silent for a second before he finally nodded. Kayama felt torn between relief that there even was someone he wanted to see and sad that he clearly didn't want to leave his apartment and go to hers. 

"Do you know where they live?" Kayama prodded gently as she started the engine of her car. 

Midoriya nodded. "Yeah... Just take a right here—" 

=====

Hiroji and Aika were cooking dinner with one another. Aika giggled as Hiroji threw a chunk of bread into the air and tried to catch it in his mouth. He almost missed, but he managed to get it. Aika giggled and shook her head. 

"I don't know how you do that," she admitted. "Every time I try, I end up missing... or almost choking when I do get it." 

Hiroji laughed and patted her on the back. "Practice makes progress, girly." 

Aika laughed but rolled her eyes as she knocked the side of her hip with his. "What happened to perfect?" 

Hiroji ran a hand through her hair. "You're already perfect." 

Aika smiled brilliantly as she tucked a piece of hair behind her hair. "Not as perfect as you," she whispered before standing on her tiptoes, kissing his forehead. Hiroji chuckled. 

"If you say so." 

Before Aika could say something, the doorbell rang. Hiroji blinked in surprise before setting the spoon in his hand into the pot over the oven. He wiped his hands on the apron that said "Hug the No. 1 Dad" and kissed Aika's head. "Make sure nothing burns, all right?" Aika nodded. 

Not bothering to take his apron off, he made his way to their front door. He looked through the peephole to see—

Hiroji swung the door open, blinking at the two figures standing there. There was Midoriya, whose eyes were red and puffy as if he'd been crying. And then there was Kayama Nemuri, also known as the R-Rated Heroine: Midnight. He hadn't seen her in years since he retired from the police force. 

"What happened." He knew that he was being too demanding in this situation, but then he remembered Eraserhead speaking with him a few days back, and he couldn't help the worry building in his chest. The man had asked him all sorts of questions, from what he liked to do in his free time, the hobbies he had taken up, and what kind of home life he lived in. The man claimed that he wanted to know his student better, but Hiroji had a sinking feeling that Eraserhead had more things up his sleeve. The man was all about practicality, and he had no care for social repercussions because of it. Why was he trying to "get to know his student" so much? 

Kayama placed a hand on Midoriya's shoulder, her hold gentle. "Midoriya wanted to see you before he moved in with me," she explained. 

"Moved in," Hiroji echoed. "What—?"

"Is something going on, Dad?" Hiroji turned to see Aika there, her hair pulled up into a messy ponytail. She blinked. 

"Izuku?" Her brows furrowed. "What are you doing here?" 

"He's moving in with Kayama-san," Hiroji relayed to her. 

Aika blinked. "Eh? But why?" 

Midoriya flinched. He still had yet to say anything. Kayama sighed lightly through her nose. "Unfortunately, I cannot say unless I have Midoriya's permission—" 

"They want me to stay with a hero because my parents aren't around." 

Hiroji glanced toward him. "Because... the USJ attack?" he asked weakly. 

Aika's voice was frosty as she spoke up. "How long have they been gone for?" she asked, ignoring Hiroji's question. 

Midoriya frowned. A few seconds of silence passed before he finally spoke. "Years." 

Aika's eyes watered. She clenched her jaw and twisted on her heel, storming back into their house. 

"Aika—" Hiroji started. 

"Shut up!" she hissed. "Goddammit, just shut up and let me get the fucking ice cream!" 

Hiroji sighed as she disappeared from his view. Aika had her own problems with her mother, and he couldn't even imagine how she felt knowing that Midoriya, someone she was incredibly close to, also had family problems. "Shut up and let me get the fucking ice cream" was their code for "I need a minute to relax and sort this through and eat my problems away until I'm calm enough." 

Hiroji felt his stomach turn into knots as he turned back toward Midoriya. The boy refused to look at him, his gaze frozen on his shoes. Kayama looked incredibly solemn, but there was also a hint of protectiveness and disapproval in her eyes. Hiroji felt his mouth grow dry as the realization crashed into him. Was he happy that Midoriya was finally getting help, or was he bitter at the fact that the abandonment was true?

"Why don't you come inside," he offered softly. Midoriya nodded, and Kayama, clearly looking hesitant at the idea, gave a hum of confirmation. He was sure that she would have dragged Midoriya away if he hadn't agreed. Hiroji gently ushered them inside, where Aika was scooping large amounts of ice cream into two bowls. She stomped over to the three before shoving one of the bowls into Midoriya's hands. She stabbed a spoon into the mound of frozen milk fat. 

"Eat the fucking ice cream," she snapped at Midoriya's bewildered face before aggressively sitting on the couch. Hiroji noticed that she had already taken the pot off the top of the oven and had moved it to the side, ready to be served. 

"Ice cream is our way of making us feel better and to show our compassion," Hiroji explained as he gently steered them toward the other couches. "Stay here, I'll get you something to actually eat." 

Midoriya seemed too numb and shocked to say anything or protest as Hiroji shuffled into the kitchen. Aika was eating her ice cream like her life depended on it. Midnight was sitting awkwardly off to the side, though she seemed a bit more comfortable than before. 

By the time Hiroji appeared back into the living room, bowl in hand and the contents steaming, Aika had Midoriya in a bear hug as they were curled on the couch. Hiroji shook his head as he set the bowl on the small coffee table off to the side. He sat on Aika's side before pulling the two of them into a hug. Midoriya huffed as he was squeezed tighter. 

Midnight, after a little bit of convincing, joined in on Midoriya's side. 

It was nice, if a bit clumsy, all things considering. 

"We're going to have more ice cream parties after this," Aika declared later. "And you better visit me, Izuku, or we'll have grave problems."

Midoriya just smiled lightly. 

=====

Translation:

So... things have changed around here a bit. I packed my bag with all of my necessities the night that Aizawa and the other teachers visited. They promised that they were going to come back with me later over the week to help me move whatever else I wanted to bring. I don't really have anything I want to bring other than my piano, but I'm not sure I'll be able to fit it in Kayama's apartment. 

Of course, I'm a wreck at the moment, so it was a bit awkward trying to get all of my stuff. Especially so because of my injuries, and the process was super slow. They were nice about it though, and they took up my offer of making themselves tea while they waited. Yamada-sensei also made a bit of food from my leftovers for the other two since I explained I didn't want too much of what I bought to spoil. He's a pretty good cook, by the way. He just gets distracted a lot.

I moved in with Kayama-sensei. I still remember when I first did her bio all those years ago, and when I tried to decide if she was really as sadistic and sexual in her personal life as a hero. It's a bit weird seeing that she had indeed somewhat grown out of her younger phase of life, one where she happily flaunted herself. I guess that's the price of becoming a hero like that-you have to stick with the gig, even after you grow older.

Kayama-sensei wears a lot of conservative clothing, actually. She likes turtlenecks too, which is a surprise. She says that it helps her blend into the background when she's off duty, but she also admitted that the clothes are more comfortable.

Kayama-sensei's apartment has an extra bedroom that she was more than willing to give up to me. I felt bad because she had obviously been using it as a storage room, but she waved it off. She said something about her needing to clean it out anyway, which was meant to make me feel better. I guess it kind of did, in a way.

Uhm, so... I had a nightmare about the nomu attack. It wasn't... bad or anything. It just sort of scared me a little. I'm assuming it reminded me of the nomu invasions from back when (forward when, since it's the future?), and I guess I made some kind of noise because Kayama came in. Maybe it was her reflexes as a hero or something, and she's a light sleeper? I don't know. She helped me through it until I fell asleep again. She told me a few funny stories about the time when she, Aizawa, Yamada, and Iida's older brother, Tensei, were friends in U.A. Some of the things they did were utterly ridiculous, and it's no wonder that our class gets away with the stuff we do.

Speaking of Aizawa and Yamada, I was totally surprised by the fact that they live together. Apparently Aizawa didn't get paid a lot at first for being an underground hero. One, because he wasn't public, and two, because he was a solo hero. Yamada was in a slightly better condition at the time, though he was struggling too because his radio show was just starting and hadn't had many listeners. Since Aizawa almost starved his cats on several occasions because he was so busy, Yamada decided to ask Aizawa to move in with him. That way, they could share rent and Aizawa wouldn't end up killing the cats (or himself, really) from lack of care.

Aizawa was going to move into his own apartment a couple years ago when Yamada took in a kid from foster care, and Aizawa decided to stay. Mainly because, as Kayama said, while Yamada was a great guardian to have, he wouldn't have the guts to reprimand his "kid" and teach him good from bad properly. And so Aizawa stayed to make sure Yamada wouldn't fuck up. I would almost feel bad for the kid, except the dynamic is actually... really exceptional? Though Yamada and Aizawa are total opposite ends of the spectrum, the two of them work together nicely. I'm sure the kid learns a lot from the two. Though I wonder which guardian he takes after the most?

(It's Aizawa. Definitely Aizawa.)

=====

It was a bit awkward to see Midoriya sitting in her living room at six in the morning, quietly reading a book that he had brought with him. She was used to the solidarity that accompanied her every time she walked through her apartment, and so seeing the boy there was a surprise.

Was it a bad surprise? Not necessarily. She was just caught off-guard; she had thought the boy would be sleeping in after his nightmare, but he looked... normal.

Okay then. So he knew how to deal with nightmares easily already. That was... an uncomfortable thought.

She cleared her throat, and he jumped in surprise. "Shouldn't you be in bed right now?" she asked, her hands on her hips.

He blinked at her owlishly. "Isn't it Monday?" he asked, confused.

He... what? No, he cannot seriously be thinking about going to school today.

"Don't you think your injuries would bother you?" she said instead, raising an eyebrow at his wide-eyed stare.

He bit his lower lip. "Uhm, maybe a little? I'll be fine, though."

She stared at him. "Okay," she said suspiciously. "But you'll tell me if you're in pain, right? I can bring you back here any time."

Midoriya nodded. "Of course, Kayama-sensei."

She squinted her eyes at him but sighed. "All right." She turned to go make herself a little bit of breakfast, humming quietly to herself as she entered the kitchen. Her worry didn't fade any, even as she distracted herself with cooking two eggs for herself. She handed Midoriya a cup of yogurt and a spoon as she walked by him with her own plate. "See if you can eat that, yeah? And if you have problems still, we'll move to smoothies." 

He seemed a little surprised as he took the two into each hand. He pursed his lips, thinking, before he nodded. He peeled the lid off the container, and he began to spoon small amounts into his mouth. They ate in relative silence, just verging on uncomfortable enough to seem awkward but not enough to try to break it with small talk. Such as the weather. 

Kayama turned on the TV as she ate, crossing her fingers that villain activity hadn't spiked since the attack on USJ. The police force had doubled their efforts ever since the confident leap the villains took into the heroes' lives. Speaking of the police force, they just reported to Nedzu that they had yet to find any clues on Hisashi's location. The man was as slippery as an eel, and the only recent piece of evidence they managed to scrounge up was the paperwork Hisashi had signed four months ago in Bejing—but that still left four months of unaccounted absence, and no one had a clue as to where he could have gone to. 

The only idea that came to mind was their Ignition theory, that Hisashi worked closely with the man and was high up in his favor. Which gave Kayama hives just thinking about it. Ignition was a terrifying villain, one who forged an entire underground organization that eluded the police for years with almost just his words. He killed and tortured to make a statement, taunted heroes with lies and truths that were too much to bear, and gleefully led innocent bystanders to their deaths for his own amusement. He was cold, vicious, and outright cruel. The only thing that matched his brutality was his utter brilliance. 

Of course, they managed to uncover the organization a few years ago, and they caught most of Ignition's most valuable allies. Horror's Dove, his right hand man, was one of those people. Though Ignition himself had disappeared through the cracks, and was no doubt trying to regain his power now, it was a huge blow to the villain community. The organized crime rate peaked slightly before plummeting down to almost a third of what it had been before. The fact that Hisashi was a follower of ally of Ignition was worrying, however, seeing how the man's influence was starting to spread to lower families. After all, the only thing worse in the world's eyes than being an ally of Ignition was the man himself. 

Kayama sighed as she recognized the headlines that cross the bottom of the TV screen. Midoriya hummed from beside her. "So they're making this into a political battle?" he asked quietly, gesturing to television. 

Kayama finished chewing before she answered. "Yeah. They keep on focusing more on U.A. than the actual villains themselves. And we already learned our lesson, really." She began to move her food around her plate, an expression of unease flitting across her face. "We're already making the necessary adjustments to make sure you guys are safe and that nothing like this happens again. But to think that the news is more interested in further pushing us into the ground rather than talking about the actual problem itself..." She sighed again and shook her head. "It's nothing, though. Don't worry too much about it, we've got it handled." 

Midoriya was quiet for a few minutes before he spoke up. "What if something like this happens again? What then?" 

Kayama paused. "What then?" she echoed to herself. "Well, that depends. That means that the League of Villains is a growing threat." She pointed at him with her chopsticks. "One that we'll take care of." 

Midoriya stared at her for a long, long time before he finally turned back to his breakfast. She had hoped that she was reassuring, but he just looked even more worried than he had before. 

=====

"Who do you think we'll get for our substitute?" someone asked. 

Sero wracked his brain for any hero that might make sense. He hadn't thought about their teachers being absent, now that he thought about it. For example, what if one of them got hurt off-campus due to a villain attack they were on the scene for? Or what if they got sick? Sure, they were heroes and put up with a lot of pain, but surely even they were human. Something that a majority of them forgot often, really. 

Sero opened his mouth to say something along the lines of "Maybe we'll get someone nice, like All Might" when the door creaked open. Everyone fell silent until the form of a bandaged Aizawa walked inside the classroom.

"Aizawa-sensei!? Shouldn't you be resting!?" 

"Are you okay? You took quite a few bad hits back there." 

"I'm pretty sure what you're doing is not good for your health, sir." 

Aizawa growled. "Quiet, all of you. I have—" 

The door creaked open again, and Sero glanced over to see—

"Oh god, not you too!" 

Sero stood up in shock. "Midoriya, what are you doing? Why aren't you at home!?"

"Yeah, dude, you got fricken' pummeled!"

Midoriya blinked at all of them, face blank before he turned away to face Aizawa. He ignored all of their protests. "Sorry I'm late," was all he said before he walked over to his desk, slowly sitting down. 

"What is up with you two and not getting any rest?" Sero heard Ashido mutter. "Do you have a death wish or something?" 

Sero couldn't find it in himself to respond, even though he so badly wanted to. Because she was right, how could they even think about going to school with those injuries? USJ was horrific, and the two of them (minus Thirteen) had suffered the most wounds. Midoriya himself had to be carried out on a stretcher, his still form covered in blood as they shoved an oxygen mask on his face—

Sero shook his head to wipe the thought away. He focused on Aizawa, who was shuffling papers in front of the class. 

"The annual Sports Festival will be coming up in two weeks," he said, also ignoring the shocked looks that were passed between the class. "You will be competing against one another to show off your powers. This is one of your best chances to show yourself to the world and gain interest from different agencies. You only get to do it once a year." He cleared his throat. "It isn't just hero agencies, either. These Sports Festivals replaced the Olympics years ago with the rise of quirks, and most of Japan will be watching your abilities. The rest of the country that doesn't watch it will definitely hear about it from others." He looked up to all of them, his glare increasing tenfold. "So don't screw up." 

Sero frowned. The Sports Festival... so soon after the USJ attack? He knew that U.A. was crazy with the way they pushed their students, but to think that they would even ignore—

No, a part of his mind interjected. There's no way they're ignoring this. I bet you this is their way of saying, "You may have caught us off-guard, but we're not going to stay down" to the villains. And what better way to keep the Sports Festival? Even if it's a bit much, they're still giving us time. It's not like it's in two days or anything. And plus, the entire event has to cost a bunch of money. Imagine trying to postpone it... 

Sero smiled as whoops and excited cheering broke out. Though it hurt his ears a little, he kept on smiling anyway—it wasn't too bad to deal with. Ashido began shaking him, and Kaminari leaped on top of him, to which he grunted in surprise, laughing all the while. 

And he kept on smiling. 

(He was always smiling.)

=====

Translation: 

Yeah. I think I'll give this to Nedzu. Maybe I should start directing my entries towards him, huh? 

Well, Nedzu, first of all, I think you might need to up your security. Say Juni was a villain who had a transformation quirk, who later managed to cling onto me as I was walking to school. She could then hop off of me and then find a good hiding place until she made her move. Think about it—all the information in U.A. was at her fingertips. 

Also, I hacked into your security system anonymously this weekend. Of course, I lied low and didn't really do much other than enter the system itself, but still. It only took a few (dozen) tries. 

Or maybe that's just me. I don't know, we learned a lot of tips back in my time period, and they were for technology that had only the tiniest chinks. You'd be lucky to get a little string of coding after four days of attempted hacking without break. 

Speaking of technology, Nedzu, did you know that they had fully-fledged artificial intelligence networks then? I think it'd be cool to see you and an AI go head-to-head. Who knows? Maybe you'd actually be able to defeat them in a battle of knowledge. 

Excuse me if I sound rude, but I think the AI would win, personally. Don't get me wrong, you're probably the smartest person I've seen. But the first fully self-sufficient AI was created in 2786, and let me tell you something: that one has had centuries to learn and grow. And you want to know something?

The newer models were eight times more superior to the last. 

It's a terrifying thought, really. 

=====

Translation:

Nedzu, 

I've been wondering about this for a while, now. After all, the rumor of this never quite died, even when I was born eight hundred years later. 

Do you think there's a traitor among us? 

... I hope it's not true. 

(I especially hope they're not in Class 1-A.) 

=====

"You want... group training?" Yaoyorozu asked. She was sitting next to Midoriya, their arms interlinked. (She had been worried sick and had wanted to hug him, and yet his injury made her too nervous to do so; he humored her by letting her link their arms as they walked toward the lunchroom. She had yet to let go, even if they weren't walking any longer and the position was awkward.) Midoriya himself was slumped over, forehead placed on a pillow the creation girl had made for him. He was breathing softly as he napped, too worn out from his injury and medication to stay awake much longer. 

Kirishima and Sero stood by their table, and they were the ones to bring up the topic. Iida and Tokoyami (a new friend who joined shortly after the hero vs. villain simulation) had obvious mixed views. Dark Shadow hovered over Tokoyami's shoulder, staring at the redhead and tape user with bright yellow eyes. 

Uraraka seemed open to the idea. Beside her, Asui—yet another new friend who sat with them after she became friends with Uraraka, who had helped tend to her head injury at USJ before the reinforcements arrived—didn't have any expression at all. She simply let out a small croak. 

Yaoyorozu tilted her head toward the two boys. "Is there a specific reason why?" she asked. "I mean, I understand it's for the Sports Festival, but for what reason would there be to train with one another?" 

Kirishima placed his hands on his hips. "Well, I find that it's too easy to give up when there's no one else around you to cheer you on or challenge you, you know? But when someone else is there, you have to push yourself to be as good as them. It's a great way to get really strong!" He punched the air with his fist. "Plus, it's super manly to help your friends out so they can get stronger as well. Dual purpose, right?" 

Asui placed a finger by her chin. "You say "manly" a lot, don't you?"

Kirishima stuttered to a stop as his cheeks grew warm. "Well yeah, I think it's a great adjective. But I'd like to put a new meaning to the word, you know?" He smiled brightly at all of them. "Manly is usually meant as courageous and strength and stuff, but it's normally only used with men. I want to change that and use it for all genders, you know?" He flushed as he rubbed the back of his head. "I guess what I'm trying to say is to not take offense when I call you "manly" or whatever. It's a compliment." 

Uraraka's eyes glittered as she punched the air right back at him. "Well I think you're manly too, Kirshima! Heck, all of us are!" 

There was a groan, and all eyes were glued onto Midoriya, who looked up from his nap. "Manly? No, I'm queen dammit, get it right," he mumbled before falling face-first into the pillow, almost immediately falling back asleep. 

Sero snorted before laughing, while Tokoyami stared at Midoriya as if he'd seen a ghost. 

Yaoyorozu herself laughed before she smiled at the two boys. "Well, I think I'd love to join you." 

"Count me in!" Uraraka said. 

Iida sighed. "I suppose I should join you as well. It'd be a good bonding exercise for us as well." 

Tokoyami nodded. "I believe it would be a great experience," he said. "Especially to learn how to fight without my quirk." At this, Dark Shadow sent him his attempt at puppy dog eyes, curling up next to Tokoyami's side and pouting. Tokoyami did not seem amused. 

"I'll come too," Asui said. 

Midoriya grumbled into the pillow. "Me three. Four. Five. Whatever number this is. Someone has to make sure none of you get killed." 

Sero's brows furrowed as he looked at the green-headed teen. "Are you sure? I don't think you should really be exercising at all after..." He didn't continue, but the mood had already dampened severely. 

Midoriya moved his head up from the pillow, opening one eye to glance at Sero. "Like I'd actually be stupid enough to go full out with you guys. No, I'll be doing my physical therapy exercises I got from my doctor and then doing a few extra stretches." 

Uraraka sent him a pitying glance. "Are you going to be able to participate in the Sports Festival?"

Midoriya nodded. "Yeah, I'll be fully recovered by then. Maybe a few days earlier with how my recovery is going, so I might be able to cram in a little bit of work before the actual event comes." 

"I find it odd that you'd be able to recovery from your injury so fast," Asui said. "Perhaps you know someone who's been saving you time?" 

Yaoyorozu frowned. "Well—" Her eyes widened as she cut herself off, and her head shot toward Midoriya's. "Wait, you told me—Juni—" At Midoriya's nod, she fell silent, staring at her food with wide eyes. 

"Am I missing something?" Iida asked. He pushed his glasses further up his nose. "I don't know who this "Juni" person is..." 

Midoriya sighed before reaching into the folds of his scarf. He placed hand back before slowly opening his palm. 

Sero shrieked. Uraraka grew green in the face as she saw it. 

"I-I-Is that a slug!?" Kirishima gasped, reeling backward. 

Midoriya's face grew guilty as he looked down at the brown blob. At first, Yaoyorozu thought that he was going to respond to them, but instead, he spoke to her. 

"I'm sorry Juni," he said, "I didn't think that they'd react this way, promise." 

Yaoyorozu was sure that she was seeing things when Juni the slug waved one of her antennae in his face. His eyes watered. Definitely the medication. It had to be the medication. He pet her back, running the pad of his finger along her back. 

"Oh, don't be like that, I didn't mean—" Suddenly, Yaoyorozu's chopstick flung upward from its position laying across her bowl, and it whacked him directly in the forehead. He yelped as his hand flung up to his head, massaging the tender skin. "Juni!" he cried out. 

"Wait, it—she—whatever can understand you?" Sero blurted out. 

Midoriya opened his mouth to answer when Dark Shadow leered over the table. "Mm, looks like a good snack to me." 

Juni turned, and a small glow ran over her body before she began to swell. "Juni," he hissed. "Don't you dare." Whatever it was, however, she refused to listen to him. Midoriya dropped her onto the table as she grew bigger and bigger, now the size of a watermelon rather than a penny. Dark Shadow's eyes grew wider and wider, slowly disappearing beneath the table. As Juni finally stopped growing, he gulped and chuckled weakly. 

"Eheheh, I think I'm good. Thanks for clearing that up, yep." 

Midoriya was flushed pink. "Juni, you can't just do that, especially at school," he scolded. Juni tilted her head. "Yes, I understand, Dark Shadow was threatening you. But do you really think I'd just let him eat you?" Juni's "head" drooped. "No, you can't do that, I'm sorry. And please stop giving me that kicked-puppy look." He sighed heavily. 

"Wha-what even is its quirk?" Uraraka stuttered. "It can't both change sizes and fling stuff around..." She gestured to Yaoyorozu's chopstick, which was sitting a ways away on the floor. 

Yaoyorozu took over the explanation as Midoriya coaxed Juni into a smaller size. "She can alter reality, though only small bits every so often before she hurts herself." She glanced toward the slug, which was now near her original size. "Using it too often makes her loose her memory. Or, what little bits of it she can have as a slug." 

"But..." Sero waved his arms around. "How can she even understand us?" 

Midoriya shrugged. "She can understand little bits and pieces the rest together. I'm sure she's lived a very long time with her quirk, since she can make it so she doesn't die of old age. I wouldn't be surprised if she was hundreds of years old, to be honest." Juni apparently made a face at him, and he scrunched up his nose. "Well I'm sorry for revealing your age, Juni. Nobody cares if you're an old lady—" Yaoyorozu's second chopstick shot at his forehead, and he screeched. "Would you stop it—!" 

"Anyway," Yaoyorozu stepped in, "I'm guessing that Juni used her quirk to help heal his injuries, which is why we got into this whole mess in the first place." 

Midoriya clicked his tongue as he rubbed his forehead. "Yeah, she did. Which was nice of her, though every time I try to compliment her, she just—" Uraraka's chopstick was snapped against his forehead. He winced. "That. She does that." 

Yaoyorozu frowned. "I thought you said that she could only use her quirk a few times a week at most before she began to shut down?" 

Midoriya blinked before he actually smiled. "A couple of years ago that was true, Yaochan. But we began training so she could use her quirk more often." 

"Training?" Kirishima's eyes sparkled. 

Iida coughed awkwardly. "Not to be offensive, but I can't think of any way you can efficiently train with a..." He waved vaguely in Juni's direction. 

Midoriya shrugged. "It's a different kind of training than you'd think." Midoriya picked Juni up with his fingers—earning a few shudders from the grossness of it all—and then...

"Don't tell me you're going to throw her across the room," Tokoyami said, actually looking slightly nauseous. 

In response, Midoriya threw her as hard as he could, watching her little form careen through the air. Seconds later, she plopped onto the desk, sliding slightly as she shivered. 

"She can't enjoy that," Uraraka said in horror. But then Juni perked up, sliding back toward Midoriya's hands. 

"She enjoys it," Asui confirmed. 

"Lemme try this," Kirishima said, reaching his hand out to her. 

"Oo! I call next!" Sero exclaimed. 

They just barely remembered their plans for group training by the time lunch ended. 

=====

Translation: 

Apparently, Juni likes the thrill of flying through the air. After everyone at my table (including Kirishima and Sero) had gotten over their disgust, they began to participate with "Juni Training," or where we basically throw her through the air. She has to teleport back before she lands, and if she can't, then she hardens the outer layer of her skin so she doesn't get hurt on impact. 

Usually when that happens, that means she's too tired to do it anymore. 

But anyway, she was very happy today. She was tired too, exhausted even, but I usually don't get to throw her around as much like that. And usually not in large, open places like the cafeteria. Sometimes I go to the park to throw her, but it's rare. 

Honestly... this kind of sounds horrifying, now that I think about it. But it's just something we've always done, you know? 

Uh, shit. Nedzu, you're going to be reading this and asking what the hell's wrong with me. I forget that you're technically an animal. Which is not an insult on my part, really. 

But if you do doubt me, ask Juni. She'll definitely say that she enjoys it. (Hopefully. She's the one who recommended the exercise in the first place, so...) 

=====

Apparently, Midnight had alerted all the teachers to the fact that Midoriya was probably going to fall asleep during class. She explained to just let it happen, especially because she had full faith that he could catch up later. That, and she knew that coming to school was really pushing himself already. 

So, she basically told the teachers that they were lucky he came to school and their class at all, and that they should be thankful and if it happens, leave him be. 

(He slept for one and a half classes straight without interruption. It was awkward to wake up to have yet another pillow underneath his head and blankets pulled around him.

"You are the cutest sleeper ever," Uraraka later gushed to him. "You were totally dead to the world.")

He was awake, thankfully, for their hero class. Obviously, he wasn't allowed to do anything, but it allowed him a chance to start on his classmates' bios. He got the basic layout for all of them (miraculously), leaving spare pages between each for their own information. He cringed at the sight of only having a few pages left in his notebook due to the amount of space his classmates took up, and he reminded himself to start on his teachers and the staff in his next book. He had managed rough outlines of each of their bodies when class was called to a close. 

All Might told him that he'd mostly be doing stretches and little things as they waited for him to recover. He would be largely participating during discussions and observations, but, for now, there was not much else he could do. He'd probably be finishing their bios the next few days, or, at the very least, the basics of them. He didn't know a lot about them and their strengths and weaknesses, other than most of the obvious ones. For example, Bakugo was too prideful and angry to accept help, Todoroki refused to use the fire side of his quirk, Hagakure was still not as strong as she could be to make up for her quirk (though she was strong, and she could defeat most of the boys like Kirishima and Satou in an arm wrestle). 

Just as All Might had called everyone back into the observation room for discussion, Midoriya stood up, closing his notebook as he rose. There was a moment of awkward silence before All Might cleared his throat, still facing the screens in front of him. Midoriya was standing just a few meters away from him to his southeast. 

"Are you all right, Young Midoriya?" 

Midoriya blinked. "I'm fine, thank you for asking." He kept his tone polite, though he wasn't sure how successful he was when All Might frowned. "Is there something wrong?" 

All Might seemed surprised that Midoriya asked. He had a feeling that the man didn't participate in conversations more than "Oh, you're All Might, please sign my book!" and "Well of course!" or "You'll be okay, just don't panic!" Not that the man was particularly bad with holding a conversation or anything, he just didn't pick up on social queues as much as any human being really should. 

"Of course there's nothing wrong," All Might said. "Why would there be?" 

"Is that why you're here? To apologize?"

"I could've saved you."

Midoriya frowned as he glanced away for a moment. "All Might—" he began, only to get cut off when the door opened. In piled several students, all laughing or, in Bakugo's case, grumbling about something that happened. Midoriya closed his mouth, looking away from All Might's back altogether. He didn't pay attention to what All Might said as he corralled the students, or the breakdown of what happened after. Several thoughts swirled around in his mind, trying to find some kind of ground to work on. One rang in his head like a light tinkle among low rumbles, and he latched onto it. 

Could All Might... be guilty for not saving me? 

=====

"You guys ready?" Kirishima asked, a fierce glint already in his eyes. 

Beside him, Uraraka was bouncing on her feet. Sero was stretching his arms, and Ashido and Kaminari (who were last-minute joiners to their group) were running around in circles. Yaoyorozu and Iida were chatting amiably. 

Tokoyami felt like he was a third wheel, to be honest. Or eighth wheel. He didn't fit in with this group very well. Midoriya helped blend the lines between bright as the sun and energetic as puppies and tranquil as the swans and dark as the midnight sky. 

And Tokoyami was the midnight sky. And, to be honest, he was the only one here like that, other than Dark Shadow. But the two of them didn't necessarily mean as much as his other friendships at the moment. Not that he didn't care for his quirk, because they both did; they were practically long-lost siblings. But even Dark Shadow admitted that Tokoyami needed a good, sturdy friend to rely on. 

While Midoriya wasn't the definition of "sturdy" (Shouji fit that role better), he was still kind and sweet and cared for him, so it was good enough. Even if Tokoyami didn't share chemistry with the rest of his friends, it was good enough because Midoriya made everything easier, really.

Tokoyami knew that that easiness would disappear and the hardships would hit tenfold when that look in Midoriya's eyes came to light. Tokoyami promised himself that he'd be there when that time came, but he grew worried. Would Midoriya really feel better in his presence? He had always been told that he was a little intimidating, if cold and hard to speak with with the darkness around him. He wouldn't know for sure unless Midoriya came to him. 

Speaking of him, Yaoyorozu had said that she received a text message from the boy telling her that he'd be late. Apparently, he had some business with Midnight that had to be taken care of. 

Tokoyami followed their large group into the gym from behind, Kirishima and Uraraka in the lead. They were all already in their athletic clothing, and Kirishima waved them toward an open spot in the gym floor that no one was using. They began with simple stretches, Ashido showing off with doing most of them while in the splits. Tokoyami was pretty sure she said she took dancing classes ever since she was a little girl, so that would probably explain it. 

Then they did Kirishima's version of jogging, which was literal hell. Tokoyami was not weak, and he was actually very fit. But Kirishima was the definition of "I'm working you dry on the easiest things and I don't even realize it as I laugh and smile." Iida didn't even seem drained, nor did Asui or Ashido. Yaoyorozu was breathing heavily, but overall she seemed mostly untouched. 

Tokoyami hadn't realized how much work he needed to put in to catch up with his classmates until now. 

At least he was better than Kaminari, who was on the floor, pretending to be dead. Or dying. Maybe that was why he was groaning like he was in pure agony. 

Then they did weight exercises, which, surprisingly, Yaoyorozu won. She explained that she'd done a lot of muscle workout after an event several years ago when I guy tried to track her down while she was with Midoriya. Neither of the two were quite sure what he actually wanted with her, other than it was something probably bad due to the fact that the man was fired from her parents' company. So, in order to protect herself, she picked up weight lifting in her free time. 

And, in Sero's words, she was "hella strong." (He shuddered, unable to even fathom the idea of saying such slang terms.) They moved onto sparring with one another since they didn't get to focus on it as much in heroics training. You learned a bit each time during training, but it was mostly learning situational occurrences an how to deal with them. 

Each of them shone in their own way, though. Iida was a great runner, obviously, Yaoyorozu with her strength, Ashido with her flexibility, Asui with her great stamina, Uraraka with her pure willpower, Kirishima with his inspiration and power, Sero with his rounded abilities (he didn't quite excel at specifically anything, though he was good at everything), and Kaminari...

Kaminari was just an unexplainable factor. He wasn't bad, per say, but he just... didn't have anything really special to say about him. Well, excluding the sudden bouts of passion he'd have and the excellent skill of noticing things on the spot that others didn't. It was an interesting development that Tokoyami hadn't expected at all—the boy would suddenly look up and say, "Right, forgot, Yaoyorozu, you might want to adjust the way you hold onto the weights. You could sprain your wrist that way if you're not careful." That, or some kind of feedback like, "Ashido, you're going to hurt yourself like that, and you should've moved right, not left, you cornered yourself," or, "Iida, you're going to break your ankle if you keep on ducking to the side like you're doing now." 

It wasn't something that Tokoyami had expected from the boy, if he were to be honest. Especially because the blonde was awful when it came his turns in the spotlight, where he seemed to forget everything he told his classmates. He was reckless, didn't think out what he did, and often was slammed into the ground groaning. 

It was kind of... weird, to be honest. 

"Hey, does anyone know when Midoriya is gonna arrive?" Sero asked. 

Asui blinked. "Oh," she said. "He came in a while ago. He's over there." She pointed toward the uneven bars in the corner of the gym, which was usually used for pull ups. Instead, there was Midoriya, who was—

"What the actual hell," Kaminari said. Tokoyami couldn't blame him. 

Midoriya had pulled himself up on the highest bar and pushed himself above it. His arms were barely straining as he held his body perfectly perpendicular to the bar. His legs, however, were in a full split in the air. 

"He looks like a statue," Sero said. 

"Oh my god," Ashido gushed, "a fellow flexi-friend!" 

"I thought he was supposed to be taking it easy?" Uraraka asked worriedly. 

Asui shrugged. "It's probably his definition of easy." 

Yaoyorozu knocked her fist on the bar lightly to get his attention—also, when had she walked over to his side? He opened his eyes and smiled at her, slowly swinging himself around so he was hanging down from the bar. Tokoyami realized how careful he was with stretching his wound, and he murmured quietly to Yaoyorozu. The girl nodded, and he let go of the bar. Yaoyorozu caught him easily in her arms, and they grunted at the sudden change in weight. 

Yaoyorozu carefully set him down onto the ground, and he smiled brightly at her. Tokoyami was pretty sure he gave her a thanks before he was practically pounced upon by Ashido, who barraged him with questions about how he managed to get so flexible. 

Tokoyami felt a twinge of guilt go through him as Midoriya inconspicuously held his arm over his side. The minute the two girls turned away, a pained look flashed across his face. 

"He hurt himself," Dark Shadow said quietly next to him. 

Tokoyami nodded and averted his gaze.

=====

"You're Yagi-san, aren't you?" Yagi's head shot up from the papers in his lap and onto the boy standing just a bit away from his side. Yagi was sitting on a bench on U.A.'s grounds, getting a bit of fresh air as he looked over the work that his students' had completed.

He had asked for an analysis from each of them on a fight that had taken place not too long ago. It wasn't a big assignment, and he asked all of them to spend roughly ten minutes on it at most. The entire idea of it was to see what his students could see in a fight and where both heroes and villains went wrong. While analysis was often downplayed, it was the most effective tool in a fight. Though All Might himself didn't have much tact in that area of expertise, long since growing out of it with his immense power alone, he knew what a good strategy could do—and how damaging it could be. 

"Yes," Yagi said slowly. "I am. And you're Midoriya Izuku, correct?" Of course, he already knew his student well, but not in this form. In this form, he was mostly clueless about All Might got up to other than what the man supposedly told him. 

Midoriya nodded. "I'm assuming that you know me from being All Might's... assistant, right?" 

"But of course." Yagi gestured to the bench. "Why don't you sit down? I don't bite, I promise." 

Midoriya seemed to hesitate before he sat to Yagi's right, leaving about two feet in between them in space. Midoriya was quiet as he looked out over the small pond, fat koi fish swimming in the clear water. 

"It's a nice day, isn't it?" Yagi asked.

Midoriya hummed. "It is." 

"Well then, why are you here?" Yagi asked. "You should be out of school, having fun, playing games..." He gestured to the campus around him. "Why stay here? School had to have been let out half an hour ago." 

Yagi took notice of the light quirk of Midoriya's lips. "Actually, I'm in Kayama-sensei's care at the moment," he admitted. "I live alone, and due to my—" He faltered for a moment. "... injury, U.A. thought it would be best to have someone keep an eye on me. And since Kayama-sensei is a teacher, she won't be leaving until another hour or so." 

Yagi digested that information for a moment. He hadn't been aware of that. Or, rather, no one told him that. This had to have happened recently if it was the case. "Well, is your injury doing better?" he asked, crossing his fingers for good news. 

Midoriya shrugged. "The pain is on-an-off," he admitted. "But Recovery Girl thinks that I'll be mostly recovered enough by mid-next week. So that's good news." He huffed. "It'll scar, but at least it's better than All Might's injury, you know?"

Yagi froze. He felt his blood ran cold as his eyes widened. And yet Midoriya continued to stare off at the pond, watching the fish swim without really seeing. The boy raised a hand to his side, dropping it a second later. 

"All Might lost his stomach in that fight, didn't he?" Midoriya murmured. He rested his elbows on his thighs as he brought his hands together, interlacing his fingers into a tent-like shape. His chin leaned on his fingers as his eyes gained a faraway look to them. "All for One really is a pain, isn't he?" Midoriya slowly glanced toward Yagi. "You know, All Might mentioned something about time to Aizawa during the USJ fight" He tilted his head. "So, is this the form you take when you've run out of said time?" 

Yagi blinked. He wanted to make some excuse, some kind of surprised reaction that would try and protect his identity, but it died on his tongue when he saw the certainty on Midoriya's face. He cleared his throat awkwardly. "Yes," he finally said. "I have a three hour time limit. But how—?" 

"—did I know about it?" Midoriya finished. There was a moment of silence before Midoriya turned away completely. A sigh escaped him. He pushed himself upward, exhaling heavily as he got to his feet. "I heard about All for One. By accident." He paused. "I'll explain it. One day." He turned and bowed toward Yagi. "Thank you for answering my questions. That's all I wanted to ask." 

Midoriya glanced one last time toward the pond before he turned and began to walk away. Yagi was soon left alone as the boy approached Kayama, who was nothing but a small dot in the distance as she stood by the entrance gate to U.A. Yagi was left to his own thoughts, nothing but the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the wind left to accompany him. 

Thank... you? 

Yagi glanced down at the papers in his lap. He shuffled them until Midoriya's was on top, and he glanced over the neatly written kanji that took up most of the page. 

Why are you thanking me? 

=====

"I'm super sorry about this," Kayama said. "But I'm going to be gone all afternoon for hero business. You won't mind if I drop you off at Aizawa and Yamada's apartment, will you?"

Midoriya shook his head. "Of course not." He hesitated. "Stay safe, okay?" 

Kayama smiled. "Thanks, kiddo. Now," she pointed her fist outward and posed, "let's go!" 

Midoriya felt a smile quirk his lips. Aizawa's apartment was barely a block away, so the walk was extremely short. Kayama rang the doorbell, waiting as she bounced on her feet. The door flew open to reveal Yamada with his hair pulled into a messy bun. His eyes brightened. 

"Oh, hey you two!" he exclaimed. "Come on in, Midoriya, we'll be right with you." 

Midoriya fidgeted awkwardly as he stepped in. The smell of something cooking permeated the air. Soft pop music was playing in the background—presumably for Yamada. Off to the side, Midoriya saw Aizawa. He had stack upon stack of papers in front of him. At the moment, it looked like he was grading their most recent essays. 

The man... looked like he was on the verge of death, really. The bags beneath his eyes were even darker than usual. Aizawa looked up toward him. "You're not where you need to be," he stated. 

Midoriya ignored the statement's blunt rudeness and sat across from him. "In what?" 

"Health," Aizawa said as he looked back down at the paper in his lap. He circled a word in red pen and wrote something off to the side. "You're too thin." 

"I can't eat much due to my injury," Midoriya replied. 

"What can you eat?"

Midoriya shrugged. "I'm eating soft things, like yogurt and mashed-up fruits. Smoothies on occasion." He pondered for a moment before continuing. "I've been eating noodles here and there." 

Aizawa hummed. "Okay. Then let me rephrase what I said before." He placed his papers off to the side. "You weren't where you needed to be before the attack, and now you're worse." 

Midoriya frowned. "What makes you say that?" 

Aizawa rolled his eyes. "You were thin enough as it was. I hadn't said anything before because it could have had to do with your quirk, but clearly that isn't the case. So I'm asking you to put on a bit of weight." 

Midoriya pursed his lips before glancing away. Aizawa noticed. He sighed. "Are you starving yourself?" 

"No." 

"Do you forget to eat when you're alone?" 

"No." 

"Then why were you so thin?" Aizawa asked. 

Midoriya pressed the pads of his fingers together nervously. "I... get nauseous at the thought of food sometimes. I throw it all back up when I try to ignore it and eat anyway." 

Aizawa's nose scrunched up for a second. "When does this happen?" 

Midoriya hesitated. "Nightmares, usually. The really bad ones." 

Aizawa hummed. "Go talk to Recovery Girl tomorrow. I'm sure she can give you some medication for that." 

Midoriya blinked. "What?" 

Aizawa grumbled. "You heard what I said." He handed out a paper toward Midoriya. 

Midoriya frowned but took it, blinking when he saw the essay he wrote just a few days prior. "Why are you giving this to me now?" 

Aizawa sighed. "Makes it easier on me. Plus, I don't have time for one-on-one explanations on what you need to do and how. I don't plan to tell your classmates where I live, either. So take it and if you have questions, ask me." He twirled the red pen in his hands. "Now shoo. I have to fix Ashido's essay, and who knows how long that's going to take." 

Midoriya blinked and looked down at his own. A big ninety-four was written at the top. "Thanks." 

Aizawa didn't respond, just waved his hand. Midoriya stood up and was greeted by a loud Yamada, who ushered them further into the house. 

"I hope you don't mind meeting my foster kid," Yamada exclaimed. Even if Midoriya said no, it was obvious that he would be dragged in anyway. 

Midoriya swallowed nervously as they stood outside the bedroom of the kid. Midoriya tried to clear the itchiness in his throat as Yamada knocked on the door. The jittery man rocked back and forth on his heels, clearly excited. The door creaked open, and Midoriya blinked as wavy purple hair came into view. 

"Heya, Hitoshi!" Yamada chirped. "Midoriya's here now, as you can obviously see. Think you guys can hang out until Midnight comes back thank you!" 

Before Midoriya could comprehend what was happening, he was shoved forward and into the room. Hitoshi didn't even blink as Yamada slammed the door behind the two of them. 

"Is he always like that?" Midoriya asked. 

The other boy shrugged. "You get used to it after a while." There was a moment of awkward silence before he spoke up. "You're Midoriya Izuku, right? I think I remember you. People had a lot to say about USJ." 

Midoriya flinched but tried not to humor it. "Yeah. That's me." He cleared his throat. "And you?" 

The boy huffed. "I'm Shinsou Hitoshi." He turned away from Midoriya, walking further into the room. A few cats curled around his feet as he avoided stepping on their toes. 

The name rang a bell in Midoriya's head. He blinked in surprise as he recognized the boy, whose hair waved around his face as if it was wind-swept. He had large bags under his eyes that were almost identical to Aizawa's. "You're from General Education, right?" 

Shinsou froze momentarily before he replied. "Yeah." 

Midoriya crossed his arms awkwardly. "Aren't you the one with the Brainwashing quirk?" 

Shinsou stopped in his tracks completely. There was a moment of complete silence before he spoke up. His voice was quiet. "That's me." 

Midoriya clicked his tongue. "Shame." He saw Shinsou flinch from the corner of his eye, apparently ready to take whatever he said negatively and with a grain of salt. "You would have done well in one of the Heroics classes." 

Shinsou remained still for a moment before he turned around. There was a hint of surprise in his eyes, though he coughed to cover it up. "Uh, thanks, I guess," he muttered. 

Midoriya hummed. "Not that I really know anything about human interaction, but I don't think you're supposed to be unsure of a simple compliment." 

Shinsou snorted softly. "Well, that makes two of us, I guess." He looked up toward the lights embedded into his ceiling. "All I know how to do is talk about cats." 

Midoriya let a small smile onto his face as he sat down onto the floor. A few of Shinsou's cats came up to him, sniffing his fingers. "Well, I think that's something I can talk about too." 

Shinsou, after a moment of hesitation, sat down in front of him. "Well," he started, "the cat licking your fingers is Penny..." 

=====

Kayama was giggling as Yamada steadied the phone in his hands. "Come on, take a picture before they wake up," Kayama hissed as she tried to hold in her laughing. 

On the floor of Shinsou's room, he and Midoriya were laying on their backs, fast asleep. All three of Shinsou's cats were curled around them, though a fourth of Aizawa's had slipped into the room, and he laid across both of the boys' chests. 

"This blackmail is going to be amazing," Aizawa admitted quietly. 

Yamada giggled as he stuffed his phone in his pocket. "Come on," he whispered, shoving the other two out the door. "Let's go, let's go!" 

Kayama shut off the lights. "Goodnight, boys," she whispered before the door shut behind her. 

=====

Midoriya tapped his bottom lip as he looked between the two boxes of noodles in front of him. He and Kayama were cooking together tonight at Midoriya's insistence. He felt bad that she had to cook for him every night without him doing anything but twiddling his thumbs, and so they finally reached an agreement to cook together. 

Kayama had asked him to buy a few more ingredients that they didn't have on hand while she prepped everything else. At the moment, Midoriya was debating on which kind of noodles to buy—Kayama had a specific kind written down on the shopping list she gave him, but the brand sold two different kinds... and he was still debating which to buy. 

He sighed as he picked one up, reading the back. He didn't have many allergies to speak of, though he wasn't quite sure about Kayama herself. She didn't say anything about the subject, but he honestly couldn't be sure. It would be easier to text her and ask her, but he forgot his phone at Kayama's apartment. 

From beside him, a voice spoke up. "I'd just get the original, if I ask you. The one with the flavor tastes artificial, in my opinion." 

Midoriya felt relief wash over him as he turned to the owner of the voice. "Thank you—" All of the relief that came over him disappeared instantly. He felt himself freeze. The box in his hand dropped to the ground. 

The woman glanced toward him in surprise. "Something the matte—" She cut herself off as well as she stared at him. Her dark brown eyes, holding hints of amber, widened considerably. Her short blonde hair fell around her face in soft waves, a few bangs gracing her right brow. Her knee-high leather boots came up to her knees, and they had silver buckles that lined the sides. 

"Shit," Maiko said. "Fuck." Her hands flew up to her temples as another slew of cuss words escaped her mouth. "Daizō, fucking help me," she hissed as she paled even further. 

Midoriya opened his mouth to respond. Why on earth would I want to help you? a part of him wanted to ask. Another part of him was screaming, what the hell are you doing here!? and I thought you were dead!

"Oh, deary me," another, familiar voice called out. Midoriya froze before whipping around, still too shocked to even let words come out of his mouth. The boy standing there had dark hair and tanned skin with pale orange-coppery eyes. Freckles dotted his cheeks. 

"What an odd circumstance," future-him said. He was smiling lightly as he spoke. He seemed amused. "I never would've thought that this could have happened." 

We both went back, Midoriya realized. It was both of us. It was Maiko and me. But how—

Why!? Why both of us!? 

Why am I trusting her!? 

Future-him just chuckled. "I guess now's better than ever, huh?" he said. "It would be too hard to give you these later." 

"What—" Midoriya stumbled over his words. "What later? What—how—why—?" 

Future-him just kept on smiling as he reached a hand out toward him. Midoriya stumbled back as he felt everything slow down to a snail's pace. I'm not doing that. 

"Don't worry," he said. "̶Y̵o̷u̶ ̸w̴o̷n̸'̶t̵ ̷e̵v̸e̴r̴ ̵r̶e̶m̶e̷m̸b̸e̷r̶ ̷t̶h̵i̷s̸.̶"̵

Midoriya felt his skin heat up beneath future-him's touch. 

It was both. 

It was both of us. 

We both went back. 

why did the both of us team up? why did we do this

why? why? whywhywhywhy?

whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whybothwhyboth whyb̷̝͝ö̴̡ţ̷͑ḧ̸̜́w̷̦h̷̰͑y̶̗͆b̴̻͝ỏ̷̜t̷̿ͅh̷̢̔w̷͇͘h̵̝̚ẏ̷ͅb̴̭̔o̶̘͆t̶̳̆ḧ̵͔w̶̌͜ḧ̷̢́y̵̩͝b̷̈ͅo̷͍̾t̶̖̔ẖ̸̃w̶̯̑ḫ̵̕y̵͙͒b̷͊ͅǫ̸̛ț̸͛h̴̩̎ẅ̷̩h̶̢̔y̸̠b̸̏͜o̵̹͗ţ̷͗h̷̤̕w̷̼̔ȟ̸̪ý̷̤b̶̯͝o̷͕͐t̷̤̅h̵͙̀w̷̧͛h̸̯͗y̸̭͒b̷̼ơ̵̻t̷͓̀ḥ̶͂

B̸͎̀O̴̫Ṫ̸̹H̸̛̺

B̴͖̀́O̶̬͆Ṭ̵̲͘H̶͉̞͋͆

B̵̜͓̒̋Ọ̴̱̈́͛T̸͉͠H̶̡͈̊́

=++++=++++=

"My little echo."

=++++=++++=

Midoriya looked between the two boxes of noodles. Kayama had written the specific kind that she wanted, but the brand sold two different types. He had no idea which to pick, and he sighed. He wished he remembered his phone—maybe then he could text Kayama which one she would prefer. 

Both! 

Midoriya blinked as the thought zipped through his mind. "Both, huh?" he muttered to himself. He shrugged to himself and grabbed one of each of each kind. "I guess it wouldn't hurt." He picked up the basket at his feet, placing both boxes carefully inside. 

He felt his stomach growl, and he held a hand over the desperate organ. Dang, I'm starving. 

Letting out a puff of air, he readjusted the basket's handles on his arm. He would have to eat a lot tonight if he was going to be prepared for tomorrow. Which was the day of the Sports Festival, something that he was definitely not ready for.

As he was checking out, a pair in the corner of the store caught his attention. One, presumably a female, had a hoodie pulled over her head as she stifled giggles. She was wearing boots. The boy beside her was whispering something to her. Midoriya couldn't really see much of his face, since he was turned away. 

Huh. 

They seemed familiar. 

Chapter Text

The night of the Sports Festival, Midoriya dreamt about a hill and a vine-covered bench and a large oak tree with a large canopy. He dreamed about the sea and its soft waves and the swirling clouds. He dreamed about the clouds growing darker, darker, darker, and lightning flashed, and thunder boomed, and the waves of the sea crashed angrily.

In his ear, the wind and shadows whispered quietly.

i'm here, i'm here, why can't you see me?

oh daizō, oh  daizō, please look! you must, you must

you see, little echo, there's a traitor among us

Midoriya watched as lightning flickered, closer, closer, closer.

my  daizō, my  daizō, they are circling now,

oh  daizō, my  daizō, they want to take you away!

oh  daizō, your parents' plan is underway!

Midoriya felt a blinding pain shoot through him as lightning struck. He shot up in his bed, panting, a small ache in his head and deep in his bones.

He was sick. He knew he was.

But the pain was oddly dulled.

=====

Quirk ― Recipience: The ability to receive quirks with the original owner's full consent; can GIVE quirks received, but only back to their original owner.

Warning: Consent can still be achieved forcefully through torture, as seen by example three.

Quirks Received:

#1: (XXX, Seiya): Time Manipulation—can manipulate time at will on both objects and self; stress can cause it to activate; will sometimes replace dreams with visions
#2: (XXX, Maiko): Chain Conjuring—with skin contact, can summon chains; also controls their movements until contact is relinquished
#3: (XXX, XXX): ???
#4: (XXX, XXX): Pain Concentration-naturally lowers the amount of pain the user goes through
#5: (XXX, XXX): Faerie Whisperer—will hear messages in inner ear canal, often warnings; the more wind and shadows present, the more frequent and clear the messages are; user can sometimes control what they wish to hear

*Note: One quirk that had been received was a vaulting-type quirk from the user's cat. This quirk was given back to its owner after an incident with the family.

=====

Midoriya splashed cold water on his face as he tried to ignore the heat emanating from his flushed cheeks. He was obviously coming down with a fever, but today was too important to give it too much notice. Scrounging around the bathroom, he found a bit of medicine that would hopefully help him ignore most of the effect.

todoroki, todoroki, fire fire fire

todoroki, todoroki, will you use yours?

d aizō,  d aizō, more, more, more!

Midoriya shook his head to get rid of the words and tinkling in his head. He had absolutely no idea where they came from, other than it had to be a quirk. His dream from last night was almost always the same as the ones he got whenever he received any. But when? When had he been given any quirks? He hadn't remembered anything.

Both!

Midoriya hissed under his breath as he rubbed his eyes harshly with the palms of his hands.

What the hell did both mean?

XX==XX==XX

"You look awful," Maiko said as she stared through the window. Beside her, Daizō sat upright and rigid. The two were looking at his younger self carefully, both on guard. "Seriously, you look like you haven't slept in eight days."

Daizō sighed as he pressed the tips of his fingers against the glass. "Tomorrow's the sports festival," he reminded her. "Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm still recovering from the nomu attack."

Maiko huffed sharply through her nose as she turned away from Midoriya's sleeping form. "Right. Forgot that happened."

Daizō raised an eyebrow. "How could you even forget about that? We were both there when it happened. You literally made us invisible as we got up close and personal."

Maiko jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow, earning a soft yelp from the boy. "Oh, shut up. Says the one who forgot that you were living by yourself for four years."

Daizō stuck his tongue out at her. "I didn't forget that, dumbass. It slipped my mind one time." He rolled his eyes.

Maiko side-glanced him. "Yeah, and you also forgot to mention to me that we were going to meet your past self in a damn grocery store."

"What do you mean!?" Daizō whisper-yelled in an attempt to not wake up the boy in the room they were watching. "Your future self wiped my memory as well when it happened to me, how was I supposed to know that that was going to happen!?"

Maiko hummed, unimpressed. "In the noodle section."

Daizō groaned. "You are damn impossible, woman."

Maiko laughed. "Sure thing, eco pequeño. Let's ignore the fact that you were an utter asshole to your past-self back there."

Daizō sighed. "Woman, I was not being an butthole, jeez louise."

"Yeah? So what was that whole, "Oh deary me, don't worry, you won't remember any of this," huh?"

"I panicked!"

"And so that was the first thing that came to mind?"

"Well what else would you have said to a smaller version of yourself!? "Hey dude, we're just here to make sure you don't off and kill yourself, watch out for your parents by the way, they're insane and they're going to try to kidnap you in a few weeks!" Because yeah, that sounds brilliant!" Daizō exclaimed, throwing his hands up in aggravation.

Maiko tutted as she shook her head. She peered back into the room, cupping her hands around her eyes so she could see better. "Just be glad that I was able to erase his memory with your father's quirk," she said. "If I hadn't had it, we would've been in a heap of trouble."

"No kidding," Daizō grumbled. A moment of silence fell over the two as Daizō adjusted himself so he was more comfortable. As Maiko continued to peer into the bedroom, he looked outward and around the block. They exchanged a bit more of harmless banter to pass the time as they stood guard. While they weren't expecting anything tonight, there were a few close calls that they couldn't ignore. Close calls that would have caused huge amounts of changes, enough to completely alter the flow of time.

Turning back to her, he knocked his head against the stone behind him to gain her attention. She looked up at him. "I'm going to do a few rounds," he explained as he pulled out a small device from the inside of one of his pockets at his belt. He pressed the two small buttons on either end of it, and adjusted his grip as it expanded in size rapidly until it formed a mask. Made of thick metal with seemingly no holes for the eyes. Pulling it over his face, he watched her nod as he adjusted the settings on the goggles built within it that allowed him to see. It grew blurry for a few seconds as it tried to focus while he stood. As soon as it was clear, he shot up from the fire escape and onto the roof, landing almost silently.

danger? he asked quietly under his breath. any danger to speak of?

There was another moment of silence before the ringing in his ears grew.

come come, right right,  come face our light,

the stars are bright,  and so are you,

and the shadows are hiding tonight

careful, carefully, step step step,

their agreement must be kept

Daizō waited for anything, any extra rhyme that could be of use. When none came, he slunk across the roof, careful not to make a sound. He had long since learned to take what was said to him to heart. His soft footsteps were drowned out by the whispering of the wind. He jumped from the lip of the roof to another, quickly crossing that one as well.

they're coming.

Daizō faltered for a second. His mouth went dry as he froze before his body went into overdrive. Cursing silently, he he tripled his speed, hopping from one place to another, leaving nothing but a faint echo in his wake. His sharp, deep breaths as he ran were the loudest sounds that came from him, rivaled only by the frantic beat of his heart. Whether or not he was using his time manipulation to his advantage was debatable, but not impossible.

(After all, Daizō was seventeen now. You could learn quite a bit in two years—even mastering a few unruly quirks here and there.)

=====

Shigaraki swirled the dark liquid in his cup around in slow circles as he thought. He was sitting by the booth of the bar, resting his chin on his upright while Kurogiri stood on the other side. The mist villain was cleaning a glass cup with a rag even though it was already spotless. The man-if you could even call him that-was a clean-freak, no doubt. Shigaraki was also guessing that it was Kurogiri's way of passing time, or perhaps a nervous tick. He watched from the corner of his eye as he placed the cup he had just been wiping into one of the cupboards before picking up another.

Definitely a nervous tick. Kurogiri was probably stalling to tell him his two cents or something.

Shigaraki sighed as he downed his drink, the cup hitting the counter with a loud clink. From behind him, the TV was playing quietly. The Sports Festival was today, and it was the perfect way for Shigaraki to gain more intel on Class 1-A and U.A. as a whole. While it was true that the nomu Sensei created hadn't been able to defeat All Might, it was also clear that the hero's victory was partly due to the students. They were a pain in the behind, especially the one with the green eyes; Shigaraki was sure that he could have disintegrated Eraserhead's arms if it weren't for the brat.

He smiled to himself as he remembered the look on the kid's face when the nomu appeared behind him. It was priceless, seeing the pure terror in his eyes. Shigaraki would have replayed that scene several times just to laugh at it all.

His hands twitched as he barely refrained himself from scratching his neck. And yet, facts were facts, and they still lost. He wasn't planning on it again, and he was going to use every chess piece on the board to his advantage.

Including one from the other side.

Kurogiri seemed to read his mind and finally brought up the reason for his nervous fiddling. "I must say, I do have concerns about this plan that you have, Shigaraki," he said. "Having a traitor who isn't loyal to us will surely cause complications down the road."

Shigaraki clicked his tongue as his irritation spiked. It was just like Kurogiri to state the obvious. "Oh shut up," he snapped back. "You don't think I haven't thought about that already? Why else would I have threatened his family, for my own amusement?" He tsked. "You really look at me as a child, don't you? I'm not an idiot, no matter what conceptions you may have about me."

"My apologies," Kurogiri said. "But what will happen when he eventually betrays us? That outcome is inevitable, I'm afraid."

Shigaraki huffed in laughter. "What will happen?" He squeezed the cup tightly between his fingers and watched with glee as the surface cracked like spiderwebs. It collapsed into dust on the counter. "I'll kill his family and force him to watch it as I do it. I'll ostracize him at U.A., where he will no longer be welcome." He twisted around in his chair, pointing lazily at the TV screen. The boy in mention was shown on the screen as he walked past the camera. The Sports Festival was just beginning. "And then I'll torture him slowly, on and on for hours or for days until he begs to die."

"And then?" Kurogiri asked. To his credit, he didn't seem all that horrified or scared at Shigaraki's rant. He continued to be level-headed, even though Shigaraki noticed the small hesitation he had before speaking up.

He snorted as he stood up, careful not to press all five of his fingers on one surface at a time. Ignoring the way his bullet wounds, still healing, ached and smarted, he approached the television. He took a moment to try and find the boy again in mention, eyes scanning the large crowd of U.A. students ready to participate in the upcoming events. When he did, he pointed at his face. "And when all's said and done, I'll send the remains to U.A." He smiled.

"It wouldn't be fair for them to have a funeral without the body."

=====

Midoriya was nervous as he and Kayama ate breakfast together. The latter seemed to notice the bags under his eyes but didn't comment as she tried to ease the obvious tension.

"Don't worry too much about the festival," she said calmly. "Heck, I never really did that well in them at all. The first events would always make my quirk useless in assisting me, and it wasn't until my third year that I was strong enough to make it to the final rounds. Of course, with the one-on-one battles my quirk was effective as all hell, and few managed to rival against me." She took a sip of water from her glass. "And yet, despite my first failures, here I am, a successful hero with nice pay and thousands of followers."

Midoriya looked up at her from where he was picking at his food nervously. "Do you like what you're doing, though?" he asked.

She blinked. "Hm? Of course I love being a hero, why wouldn't I be?"

Midoriya shook his head. "I didn't mean it like that, I know you enjoy it. But do you enjoy the sadistic, "sexy" persona you usually take up?"

Kayama smiled softly as she placed her chopsticks on the table. "Well..." She paused. "It's not like I don't enjoy it, really. I do. It's a part of me that I relish in, and one that will always be a part of me." She reached her hand across the table and ruffled his hair. "But you're right, sometimes I appreciate the calmer, more modest points of life. Ones that being the R-Rated Heroine can't provide."

Midoriya nodded as he ate another small bite. Kayama stretched her arms far above her head.

"But anyway, as I was saying, don't worry about a thing," she said. "You'll have another two chances, and it's not like it's the end of the world if you don't end up impressing everyone who sees you." She grinned up at him. "And anyways, you'd make me proud no matter what place you get! Just keep on shining, you know?"

Midoriya felt his cheeks flush as he ducked his head. It was so cheesy and stupid, but he couldn't help the smile that crawled onto his face. He felt his chest flutter with barely-suppressed happiness.

"Okay," he said. "I will."

Kayama smiled brightly. It was on of her "Momnight" smiles, not her Midnight one.

It looked pretty on her, if he were to be honest.

=====

Most of the time before the Sports Festival officially began was spent clinging to Yaoyorozu's side as they both attempted to calm their racing hearts. The two exchanged stories and memes and vines, anything to keep their minds off of the upcoming event.

Class 1-A was the first to be called out by Present Mic. 1-B was shortly after, and then the other classes. There was the business class, the support class, and general education classes. Midoriya spotted a head of purple hair in the crowd, and he sent the boy a small wave. Shinsou simply raised an eyebrow in return.

Bakugo was called to the stage shortly after. Standing up on stage already was Midnight in her hero outfit. He preferred it when she was wearing her hoodie with the puppy on the front. It was two sizes too big on her, and it went down to her upper thighs. She always wore sweatpants with them. (She bought him a matching one that was also too big. Aizawa barged in one day to ask if he should push the due date for a project since his class was complaining about Midnight's workload already. He found the two when they were both wearing their respective hoodies, and he asked what the hell was wrong with them.) 

"I'm going to win," was all he said for his speech. In all honesty, Midoriya wasn't expecting much more from the cocky male. It wasn't like Bakugo wasn't capable of making a better one, because the boy was a lot smarter than people took him for. But the size of his ego practically cut his likability into quarters. Heck, if his quirk was any worse, Midoriya was sure that he would have been expelled by now. But that was the thing—Bakugo knew his quirk wasn't worse, and so he didn't care to be kind. At all. The students from the other departments, however, were clearly pissed and sent out scathing remarks to Bakugo, who looked like he was listening to a bunch of dogs barking angrily.

Hm.

Midnight seemed a little surprised at the "speech," but to her credit she quickly recovered. Midoriya wondered how many kids she'd seen before that had to be debunked from their high perches with the word humility. 

She cleared her throat to silence the crowd and the students. "Now then!" she announced into her microphone, her voice echoing loudly. "The first event will soon be beginning. I hope all you chitlins are ready!" She snapped her whip toward the screen behind her. "A randomizer will pick our first event!"

Midoriya bit his lip, pondering which event would be chosen. He was pretty sure that they did an obstacle course in the original timeline, but maybe it would be different? He watched as the wheels began to spin, faster and faster before coming to an abrupt stop. Midoriya had no idea what was on the side shown, other than the fact that it was a picture and it clearly wasn't descriptive. Midnight grinned as she saw it.

"And here we have it: our first event!" Midoriya crossed his fingers, hoping against hope that it would be an event he could do well in. A moment of complete silence fell over the arena as Midnight geared up to yell out the event.

"I hope you're ready for The Floor Is Lava!" 

What.

Loud cheers burst from the crowds as Midnight's grin grew even larger, if that was possible. "The rules are simple," she said as she pointed around the arena grounds. "Music will be playing in the background as the event begins." At this, Present Mic played a small clip of some kind of catchy music... was that the chicken dance song? Midnight began to speak over the tune. 

"However, the music will cut shortly before I call "The Floor is Lava!" You have five seconds to get into the safe zones that appear around the area before you burn in the pits of hell." She placed the back of her wrist against her hip. "I don't care if you have a quirk that can make you fly or get several feet off the ground, if you're not in or directly above the safe zone, you're dead meat." At this, Uraraka grimaced, and a boy that Midoriya was pretty sure was from Class 1-B looked incredibly disappointed. 

She then pointed to the box at the back where Present Mic and Eraserhead were sitting. "After each round passes, the amount of safe zones will decrease. Each safe zone may only hold up to seven people at a time; it's first come first serve, and anyone who thinks they can shove another person out of the safe zone will be killed by a random stray burst of lava, no questions asked. No quirks are allowed to be used offensively against another while in the zones. Present Mic will be watching all of you carefully, so don't even think about it." 

Midnight winked at the crowd. "While the music is playing, obstacles will take form and aim to keep you down until the floor "becomes" lava. When that happens, they will temporarily pause. Use your quirks against one another and them to rise up on top; it's all free game." Her tone suddenly changed. "However, there's a catch: you're not allowed to use your quirk more than three times. For mutant quirks, that means not using those extra parts of your body. If you do, you'll be frozen to the spot for the rest of the event. Good luck trying to last for very long—the safe zones' placement are randomized every turn." At this, the entire student body winced collectively, except for a few here and there whose quirks weren't very useful in the event. 

She cleared her throat into the microphone as the chicken dance music began playing louder in the background. "Any questions?" When no one said anything, her smirk grew till it nearly split her face in two. "Good! The first forty-two people remaining will move on to the next round. Now," she snapped her whip downward, and the music cut abruptly, "The Floor Is Lava!"

=====

Daizō bit his lip as Toga bounced around him eagerly. "Oo!" she said. "Maybe we should put him into a dress! He'd look cute in that, right?" She leaned forward, inches away from his face as she pinched his cheeks. He held still despite his urge to flinch back—although they weren't very visible, the woman had several knives hidden beneath her skirt. 

"Like hell he's going to wear a dress." Leaning against the wall, bored out of his mind, Dabi stood. He clicked his tongue in annoyance as Toga pouted. "As if it would go well with the Boss if we dressed him up like that. You know he asked for Daizō to be in a suit." 

Toga whined. "But look at his slim figure!" she griped. "It would look so good—" 

"Enough, Toga," Dabi interrupted. Toga sighed in disappointment. She grumbled as he went back to the clothing racks, searching for one that would match Daizō without taking too much away from the makeup he had on his face. 

(Fun fact: eight hundred years does a lot to fashion. And a huge chunk of men wore makeup on occasion. While they still wore significantly less than women did, who would sometimes color their entire faces, men still used light and neutral colors, mostly on their cheeks and eyes. 

And goddammit, it was painful to wear. Daizō hated it with a passion, enough so that Toga had to give up after using foundation to cover his minor scars and a soft pearl-color eye shadow for the lids of his, well, eyes. She had wanted to put lipstick on him, but Dabi, who still never wore any kind in his life, lit the tubes on fire before she could open them. Daizō was just happy that the man stood up for him.) 

Dabi rolled his eyes before walking over to her side, shoving her out of the way. She yelped and then started to yell at him in anger, though he ignored her in favor of pulling out a simple black suit. Throwing it over to Daizō, who barely managed to catch it, he effectively cut off any of her arguments. "There," he drawled, "decision made. Now let's go." 

He turned on his heel and stalked out the door, Toga following him as she grumbled. As she went to close the door behind her, she twisted back to throw a smile at Daizō. 

"Remember to smile when you come out!" she reminded him. "You want to impress the crowds at the ball for your first appearance, don't you?" She winked before slamming the door behind her. He could hear her giggles through the thin door as she, presumably, skipped away. 

Daizō was left in a silence. He peered down at the uncomfortable suit he was soon going to have to wear. It was plain and simple, the way he liked it. 

Off to the side, a red and white full mask sat innocently on the table in the dressing room. Hints of silver and gold lined the ornate designs on the front. He swallowed thickly as he looked away from it, eyes watering slightly. 

All for One picked it out specifically for him. Daizō shuddered as he remembered the man's fingertips gently swiping the skin beneath his eyes in a sign of gentleness and care. He gripped the fabric tightly in his hands as they trembled slightly while his heart thudded loudly. He knew that he should wear it, but...

He glanced over to the one that Dabi left behind before he left. It was a half-mask; the bottom curved gently into the ends, which were blunted tips. The top was heart-shaped, and along the edges of the mask were lines painted white. Around the holes for the eyes, simple carvings were delicately embedded. The color of mask itself was a dark evergreen, the same shade of his hair. 

Dabi said it suited him better, that the other one made him look too angry. 

Biting his lower lip, he reached out to grab onto the side of the half-mask, lifting it so the light hit the polished surface. His eyes softened as he ran the pad of his thumb along the cheekbone of it. Sighing, he placed it back onto the dresser as he started to unbutton his dress coat. He tried to ignore the scars that he could see from the corner of his eyes on his shoulders and along his arms. He peeled the cloth off and let it hit the floor as he fumbled with the pieces of clothing. 

As he finished getting dressed, he looked between the two masks. Adjusting the collar so it sat flat, he pursed his lips. His brows furrowed as he gently picked up both. Both were nicely made, though the one Dabi had picked out was thinner.

You'll wear this one, won't you? You'll impress Grandpa, won't you?

Daizō frowned as he blinked tears away. The fear gnawing at him won out, and he placed the green one back where it was. He looked away, ignoring the pang of remorse that went through him as he slowly made his way to the door. He swung it open, greeted by Dabi's still form. He looked up at him with lazy movements. Daizō saw his gaze zero in on the mask in his hand. 

Dabi cleared his throat as he looked away. "Come on," he said stiffly. He pushed himself off the wall as stalked down the hall, leaving Daizō behind. 

He ducked his head. The red mask was heavy between his fingers. 

=====

Midoriya blinked as the words registered. A half-second of nothingness passed before the air suddenly changed in temperature. Crackling filled Midoriya's ears as he leapt upward, heart in his throat, avoiding the crystallizing ice that rapidly spread throughout the entire arena floor. His breath came out in a mist as the chill almost immediately burrowed deep down into his skin. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see several students frozen up to their knees, eyes widened in shock.

Todoroki.

Midoriya hit shoulder-first into the ground, the breath getting knocked out of him painfully. He hissed as he stumbled to his feet, teeth clenched tightly. He dashed to a convenient safe zone not two feet away from him—also collapsing the minute he crossed into the light—and he heard struggled movement from behind him. (He could tell what the zone was because the circle had a bright green ring around it and emitted a soft light directly upward, almost like a spotlight.) He had less than a second to catch his breath before the sounds of what was supposedly lava filled the stadium from Present Mic's speakers. There was a loud cheer as the audience crowed. A few groans were also heard. 

Breathing heavily, his heart's pounding still ringing in his ears, Midoriya stood up shakily. It seemed that over a quarter of his competition was already wiped out. A few unfamiliar figures frozen to the spot got lucky, and underneath where they stood was a safe zone. In fact, most of the safe zones closely surrounded the group of students. It was probably to start the event off and get them time to actually adjust before they threw them off to the sharks. Midoriya glanced around him as he panted to see that people like Yaoyorozu and Uraraka already had a grimace on their faces.

"Hohoho!" Present Mic yelled. "Already we've gotten off to a frosty start! Todoroki has eliminated a third of the competition with an underhanded ice-attack, freezing his opponents to the ground!" Midoriya made sure to pay extra attention to Present Mic's words, hoping the hero would reveal any more information. "On top of that, he forced most of the remaining participants to use their quirks to escape! What a brilliant tactic!"

Ah. That explained the looks of pain on half his classmates' faces. They probably weren't expecting to have to use up their precious chances so early on in the game.

Midoriya listened as the same chicken song came up. He winced as those that had already been knocked out were dragged out of the arena. Some looked visibly upset, while others were resigned. He felt bad for them—Todoroki's attack was abrupt and not easily evaded if you didn't have split-second reactions. 

Several robots that Midoriya recognized from the entrance exams started to roll out toward them, their surfaces gleaming. Brand-new and slightly upgraded from the entrance exams, they already locked onto several targets, shooting quick bursts of lasers at the remaining crowds. Midoriya felt worry start to bubble in his gut as a few rolled closer to him. Those things were difficult to take on in large numbers, and he remembered the close calls he had with several of them. Most of the other students recognized them as well, and several began to clump up as they backed away from them. 

Midoriya froze as he heard the sound of a foot twisting against the ground. It ended almost as soon as it started, and he glanced back slowly to see that a small dust cloud had risen in the wind. Tense breathing appeared from somewhere on his six, or maybe seven. It was hard to tell with the way it swayed from side to side. His muscles pulled taught as he waited with baited breath for yet another movement. 

He knew that most of the students would team up until later on, where the more reliant ones would be weeded out, leaving the independent and strong. When that happened, fights between the remaining would surely spark. However, that didn't mean that it was unlikely for confident and brash students to attack sooner, ganging up on others in the midst of the panic while others still tried to gain a rhythm. 

Midoriya ducked into a crouch as a flying kick was sent his way, aiming for the side of his head. He stepped backward a few times, his steps slow, trying to regain his balance as he faced his opponent. She was tanned, with bright red hair. He raised his hands up to his face, bending his knees slightly, attempting to calm his racing heartbeat. The girl smirked. "Not bad, green bean." 

Before he could retort, two arms snaked underneath his armpits and around his arms, pinning him to... whoever's chest this was. Midoriya felt trapped, caged; he gritted his teeth before stomping on the person's foot and snapping his head back. He felt satisfaction spread through him as a loud crunching sound resounded and the person's grip loosened considerably. Grabbing them by the arm, he flung them toward the girl. She barely blinked before her hair, stretching like a rubber band, grabbed onto the boy's waist and twisted him away from her. She remained untouched as the boy flew into the side of a robot not too far away. He yelped as the robot began to shoot lasers at him. 

She smiled, unbothered that she just abandoned her ally. "Jeez, you're stronger than you look for someone so small." She copied his fighting stance, eyes glimmering with amusement. "But no matter; I'll still crush you. Let's see if you're still worthy of being in the heroics department when I'm done with you." She sprinted forward, hands outstretched, ready to pounce on him with the wrath of a thousand cats—

Midoriya roundhouse kicked her in the face. She let out a sound comparable to a dying dog as she dropped like a bag of rocks. He winced. Oops. "S-sorry," he stammered before twisting on his heel and sprinting away from her. He had no idea how to respond to her screams of "Get back here!" other than to sprint away even faster.

Midoriya ducked and rolled away from a robot that attempted to shoot him with its lasers—it was a horrific deja vu moment to his experience with the entrance exams, and he tried not to shudder. He didn't need to think about Uraraka when something more pressing was going on at the moment. 

As he continued to sprint in a random direction, he stumbled across the aforementioned girl. She was hiding behind a broken-down robot, trying to avoid the others that circled around the area. He slid in beside her, panting as she whipped around to face her. 

She blinked. "You look like you just died inside," she said honestly. She looked up from him as the words "GET BACK HERE YOU SON OF A BITCH, I'M NOT DONE WITH YA!" rang through the arena. 

Midoriya gulped. "That may or may not be the reason for me dead-inside-ness," he replied as he sunk lower to the ground. 

She gave him a nervous smile. "Haha, yeah, you're not alone..." She trailed off as she looked away, rubbing the back of her head. 

Midoriya blinked. "What did you do." 

Uraraka waved her hands in front of her face. "I didn't mean to!" She looked away, her smile growing strained. "See, I went to go use my quirk on a robot and release it so it would crash onto the ground, yeah? Well, I pressed onto the side of it when Bakugo tried to explode it..." She laughed nervously. "So he more or less missed when it lifted into the air and wasted one of his chances to use his quirk..." 

"So now you have Bakugo on your tail?" Midoriya said incredulously. "How are you even going to survive through this game?" 

Uraraka puffed up her cheeks. "Hey, I can beat him if I wanted to!" She crossed her arms. "Don't say you think I'm weaker than him, huh?" 

Midoriya hummed. "Well, I think that he's a very powerful opponent to go against," he said truthfully. "He'd probably beat most." He looked away from Uraraka's disappointed expression. "However, I think you'd be able to come up with a good strategy to rival up against him." He smiled back at her. "And then you could floor him, yeah?" 

Uraraka's disappointed expression morphed into one of... frightful excitement. "Oh, I'd floor him all right." 

Midoriya sweatdropped as she suddenly whisked her hand upward. The redheaded girl from before leered over the piled remains of the robot, and Uraraka grabbed tightly onto her collar before pulling her head-first over. She slammed her harshly into the ground, and she groaned as she twitched in pain. Uraraka shot up and held her hand out to Midoriya, who looked (frankly) terrified. 

"Come on!" she said. "We should start moving. I think this area was a safe zone last time, so it probably won't be used next time." She tugged him up, and Midoriya nodded numbly. 

"Hold up," he said quietly, and Uraraka raised an eyebrow as he pulled out a panel from the robot's side. Her mouth formed an 'o' shape as she realized what he was doing. 

"It's for your quirk, right?" She nodded to herself. "That makes sense." 

Midoriya let out a hum of agreement before they started to jog away from the limp form of the girl. Uraraka was panting slightly as they picked up the pace, scurrying away from more hordes of robots and other obstacles. Apparently, a few mines were set up here and there that would randomly activate unless stepped on beforehand, which would set them off. They were weak but effective, though not quite enough to physically harm someone. 

He felt a drop of sweat roll down his neck as Bakugo's screaming grew closer and closer. He saw Uraraka start to push herself even further, and he had to hold a hand over her shoulder awkwardly to reassure her. "You don't want to burn yourself out," he explained. 

She seemed hesitant but nodded, and they slowed down slightly. 

"The Floor Is Lava!" 

Well, looks like they were going to have to sprint again. Midoriya quickly glanced around him for any safe zones, but there weren't any nearby. He felt his breath hitch as he panicked—were they really going to be able to squeak by this round—

Uraraka grabbed him by the neck of his jacket. "Hold your horses dude! We're already in a safe zone!" 

Midoriya blinked before looking down to see the tell-tale glow from beneath his feet. "Oh," he said lamely. "We are." 

Uraraka laughed. "I guess we got lucky, huh?" 

Midoriya nodded as the lava sounds faded and the chicken sound came back to life. He noted that almost half of their students were gone now—between Todoroki's attack at the beginning and the seemingly endless waves of robots, many had been wiped out by surprise. Midoriya noted that the second round's safe zone number had decreased dramatically, most likely to keep up with the lack of students remaining. 

Uraraka turned to him, mouth opened as she was about to ask for something. Midoriya felt fidgety—the robots were starting to close in, and Midoriya wanted to save his quirk chances in case something popped up. Hoping that whatever she had to say was quick and that they could leave soon, he leaned toward her. 

In the background, a piercing shout caused warning bells to set off. He had no time to react accordingly, though he so badly wanted to. 

A large explosion hit him at point-blank range. 

=====

Daizō felt shy as he walked through the large doorway, shoulders hunched slightly. Immediately, several eyes latched onto him. If it weren't for the large mask he was wearing, Daizō was sure that he would have frozen on the spot and remain there for the rest of the night. 

Dabi accompanied him toward the main attraction of the night—All for One—before immediately slipping away, leaving him to his own devices. Daizō swallowed the lump in his throat as he approached the man, who noticed him almost immediately. 

"Ah, if it isn't my grandson," he said. Daizō noticed that he spoke particularly loudly—most likely to alert the others that he was important and to not ask questions. His free hand made its way toward his upper back, and he pushed him with feather-light touches until he was standing directly beside him. "Gentlemen, ladies, I'd like you to meet Kimoto Daizō." 

One of the men, wearing some kind of blue face paint, was staring down at him. "Eh, he seems a little young to me, hm?" He took a sip from his glass of wine. The cup had swirls of what was probably a stuffed snake around the handle and the tip of the glass. "You sure he's up to staying here all night?" 

All for One smiled politely, though Daizō could feel the commanding aura around him as he pressed his fingers harder into Daizō's back. "Well of course. These young ones are spriteful and so full of energy. I have no doubt that he'll be lively through the ball." All for One tilted his head toward him. "Isn't that right, Daizō?" 

Daizō felt small as he cleared his throat. "But of course, Grandpa." He hoped that his voice wasn't too wobbly, and he crossed his fingers that it was the right answer. It seemed to pacify the others, though All for One gained an unreadable look on his face. 

"See?" he said to the others. Daizō tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach as he recognized the undertone in his voice—he was hiding anger. 

He had no idea what he even did. 

All for One glanced at his expensive, worn watch. It was an old device that most people didn't use nowadays. Often, they'd ask their handheld electronics the size of pennies everything they needed to know. Understanding time was an inconvenience at best. 

"Ah," the man said, "I suppose I should get ready for my speech." He sent the others a winning smile. "I shall be as swift as a rabbit when it's over. In the meantime, treat my grandson right, yes?" Before they could respond, he took a step back, tilting his head in their direction—his false respect for them. He was off then, his speedy walk taking him across the room quicker than what he thought was possible. 

Daizō felt dread overcome him as he turned back toward the group of men and women in front of him. He knew his smile was fake and timid and weak as they collectively returned their own versions of their smiles. 

"So," one of the younger men started, "what'd you have to do to get the nice suit?"

One of the women elbowed him in the gut. He hissed. "Shut up," she growled to him. 

A man with blonde hair rolled his eyes. "Oh shut your trap. We all know what happened to the last one that courted Shigaraki." 

Courted...? But...? 

A woman with magenta eyes held a dark fan up to her mouth as she giggled. "He took advantage of him so many times." 

Yet another voice spoke up. "Y'all are idiots. The boy's, what, six? Seven? Stop putting your feet in your mouths, it's disgusting." The man sniffed. "You're all pathetic. Shigaraki couldn't get away with that, even if he wanted to." 

The woman with the magenta eyes sighed mournfully. "It's no surprise." She flicked a bit of her drink at Daizō, who flinched and moved away. "He's hideous, anyway." 

The man who asked All for One if he could stay up through the party sighed as he turned away. "Agreed," he said. "Just send him to the Breeding Program—that seems to be the only place he's useful, anyway." 

Daizō felt the small, shattered remains of his self-esteem crumble. He tried to hold what was left of it close to his chest, but it slipped from his fingers and hit the floor. 

He wasn't sure when all of them left—just that they did and he was left behind in the silence. Bodies dressed in frilly, ostentatious clothing moved around the room like clockwork, the music echoing throughout the room as the tune hitched and fell to a deep growl. He felt numb as he watched hundreds of men and women dance freely, laughing and happily drinking the world away. 

He blinked back tears. He couldn't cry. He didn't dare cry. He didn't dare take off the mask that sat on his face, stuffy and heavy and uncomfortable and hard to breath in. He watched silently as the girls and boys his age ran around, tugging at their parents' skirts and pants. He watched as the flames on the chandeliers flickered, causing the stained-glass windows to glimmer and shine. 

Daizō felt numb as All for One took to the stage. 

=====

Midoriya wasn't quite sure when Bakugo decided to sneak up on them and revenge-blast him and Uraraka. But Bakugo did just that with the idea in mind that it'd knock them out of the competition. 

And if it weren't for the fact that both he and Uraraka were insane and weren't stopping for anything, it might just have. Uraraka held an arm underneath his body as he struggled to stand up. There were scratches all over her face, and there was a red burn spot along her cheek. Otherwise, she looked pretty fine to him. 

"How do I 'ook?" Midoriya slurred. Already a bad sign. 

Uraraka sent him a pathetic smile. "You're bleeding from your forehead. So sexy, I suppose?" she joked. 

Midoriya laughed painfully, devolving into a fit of coughs as they moved forward. Bakugo already turned his back to them, apparently not waiting to see the damage. 

It was... pretty bad, if Midoriya was honest. There were burn marks all around them, and several robots that had been rolling not a few meters away were burnt to a crisp. A few's heads had melted into the wiring inside, and some sparked dangerously. 

Midoriya faltered for a step, and Uraraka grunted with the exertion of holding him up. "Sorry," he murmured as he steadied himself. 

"You're fine," Uraraka said breathlessly. Midoriya noted the pained look in her eyes and the scratches that were deeper than he originally thought, and a few drops of blood began to pool from the wounds. "Don't worry about it. We only have two more to go, yeah?" 

Midoriya looked around at the remaining groups. She was probably right—very few students remained now. Just like he previously thought, most of the independent students were aiming against one another now. And that meant that they were easy pickings. 

A mop of dark hair appeared from the corner of Midoriya's vision, and he tensed, ready to be on guard. He still held the metal panel between his arm and his side, which was miraculously unharmed. He supposed it was part of the angle Bakugo shot his explosion at. Either way, he had a weapon to protect himself, and he wasn't going to hesitate to use it if it came down to it. 

And yet... 

"You guys look like crap hit the fan," the person said as they approached them. Midoriya blinked as they came into view. 

"Jirou?" Uraraka asked, incredulous. 

The girl with the choppy bangs shot them a smile as she placed her hands on her hips. "Yeah, Yaomomo and I heard word about you guys getting exploded the hell out of. Thought we could lend you a hand." 

Midoriya blinked. "This is a 'ompetitive exercise. Why would you wan' to help us?" 

Jirou snorted. "It's not as if we're actually ranked." She squeezed in between the two and replaced Uraraka as she held up Midoriya. Uraraka looked grateful without the extra weight. "If we were, that would be different. But no, it's us against the other classes—they all hate us by the way. Since they're collectively aiming for us, we're grouping together so we can all make it past the next rounds." 

Jirou began to walk over to a figure with dark spiked up hair. Midoriya was pretty sure that that was Yaoyorozu from what Jirou had stated, but he couldn't be sure. 

"How'd you figure out our situation out so quickly?" Uraraka panted. "We were attacked, like, half a minute ago."

Jirou rolled her eyes. "More like three minutes, actually. You were on the ground for a long time." Jirou glanced around at her surroundings. She grunted as she injected one of her jacks into the port by her leg, and she sent a loud stream of blasts toward a few robots coming their way. It destroyed at least nine within one use. "Damn," she muttered. "There goes my last one." Turning her attention back to them, she said, "Also, Koda's been helping keep watch. He asked a few birds to keep in touch with him about what was going on in the arena. They told him not too long ago about what happened." 

Uraraka smiled. "Koda's nice," she said. 

Jirou shrugged. "I mean, yeah, I guess." She huffed as she had to reposition Midoriya's arm around her shoulders. "Damn, I can't believe Bakugo did this to you. What an ass." 

Midoriya hummed. "He can be, sometimes, but he's not dumb..." He trailed off as he struggled to keep his eyes open for long. "Though he does get fed up over revenge and his anger a lot..." 

Uraraka sighed. "I'd like to give that boy a piece of my mind," she grouched as they finally made their way to Yaoyorozu. 

She smiled when she looked up toward them, but it soon vanished as she saw their states. "Oh heavens, just how hard did he hit you with that explosion?" She ushered the three down into a crouch. They all hid behind a wall constructed by one of the General Education students. Apparently, that was part of his quirk. He abandoned the structure soon after, leaving others to take advantage of the sloppily-made formation. 

Beside her, Koda was sitting, already waving his hands around. The timid boy had to repeat himself several times before Midoriya could effectively scramble the fast-paced and hurried gestures, but once he did, he sent a small response in return that basically said he was okay. While Koda didn't seem entirely convinced, he was placated for long enough for another plan to be constructed. 

"Okay," Yaoyorozu started, "I can't make any more medical items for you, so I'm sorry about that. But I'm sure we have enough manpower to get to the safe zones in time." She bit her lip. "If Bakugo finds out about you two still being in the exercise, he might try and attack you, so we'll have to keep an eye on him. Most of the robots are wired so they target people that haven't used their quirks as often as others have. However, since a majority can't see us, we should be fine." She pointed around the area. "So far, no safe zones have really appeared around here, so I think that we're in good shape." 

Midoriya raised an eyebrow. "I thought tha' the safe zones 'ere randomized." 

"That's what they said, yes," Jirou said. "But we're almost positive that, while it's mostly random, they also won't pop up in the same areas they've already appeared in. A way to keep from people trying to stay in one place, I guess." 

Uraraka nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense. I noticed that too—" 

"The Floor Is Lava!" 

Jirou cursed as she shot up, bringing Midoriya with her. The nearest safe zone was a ways away.

Almost too far away. 

Shit. 

Jirou started to run, though Yaoyorou and Koda quickly surpassed her with ease. She wasn't going to make it. Suddenly, she felt her weight decrease dramatically, and abruptly she was being pulled along and into the spotlight—just in time for the countdown to end. Yaoyorozu and Koda were beside the two, on their knees, gasping for breath. 

Jirou turned to see that Uraraka was looking slightly green in the face. "Thank you," Jirou said, breathing a sigh of relief. Uraraka nodded, though she was continuously looking more nauseous as the seconds passed. 

"Uhm," Yaoyorozu said, "you should really release your quirk now, lest you throw up." 

Uraraka took in a shaky breath. "I don't think so," she said. "I only have one more use of my quirk, and it'd be more effective to just keep them weightless." 

Their group seemed nervous about the idea, but Midoriya quickly changed the topic. "There was definitely less 'ime between rounds." He rolled around in the air so he was hanging upside down. "I thin' there must be a lot less people." 

Koda signed an affirmative. 

Yaoyorozu sighed. "Hold up one second, I have to take care of these robots." 

"Hol' up," Midoriya interrupted. "'ich ones?" 

"The ones surrounding us?" Uraraka stated queasily. 

Midoriya huffed. "Uno momento," he grumbled as he adjusted the metal panel in his arms. He laid his hands flat on the surface. 

Yaoyorozu twirled the baton she had created beforehand in her hand. "Midoriya, what are you—"

Chains erupted from the sides of the panel, shooting out in a sudden star shape as the ends ripped through their metal heads and out the other end cleanly. Several dropped to the ground, ineffective and red eyes dulled.  

"That... works too," Jirou said. 

Midoriya was about to say something when a sudden pain erupted in his ears. High pitched noise stung his inner ear canal, ringing noisily and loudly. He could faintly hear Uraraka ask him what was wrong, but it was weak at best. He could taste iron in his mouth, and he felt something dribble from his nose. 

He opened his eyes slightly, only getting them into small slits as he looked around. Jirou was suffering from the same thing he was, and there were tears in her eyes as she gasped for breath. 

Koda was pointing to something, or someone, rather. Midoriya could make out an unfamiliar figure—perhaps she was from Gen. Ed? Or the support course? 

Whomever she was, her dark blue hair was writhing like snakes as her hands, raised toward them, emitted a soft red light. Midoriya felt a huge, high-pitched screech that could be compared to the feedback in a microphone hit him, and he let out a small whimper as something wet trickled from his ears and to his hands. 

Yaoyorozu had to have said the most polite curse he'd ever heard from her when a blinding pain hit him in the stomach. All the breath was knocked out of him as he was thrown out of the way, Jirou still gripping his arm. He heard Koda gasp and Uraraka scream—and when he opened his eyes, he knew why. 

Jirou and him were still weightless. In the air.

And the were very high up. And they were continuously going higher. 

Oh no. 

Midoriya tried to ignore the ringing sound as his stomach twirled in his gut. He was starting to see why Uraraka got nauseous all the time, and this height was terrifying. 

The sound in their ears cut short as Yaoyorozu pounced on the girl with the slithering hair. As for the one that hit the two in the gut... 

The redheaded girl from before with the hair quirk was smirking as she twirled her locks around like battering rams. Of course she got back up after Uraraka slammed her into the ground. That was just his luck. 

Midoriya winced as he looked around at the arena. He was still upside down, which partly sucked but was also helpful, even if it made his stomach twist into several uncomfortable knots. He cleared his throat and craned his neck to look at Jirou, who looked like she was ready to stab a man. Or girl. Or girl with red hair and glimmering eyes. Or girl with red hair and glimmering eyes and hair that shouldn't move like that.

Midoriya grunted as he readjusted his hold on the metal panel in his arms, which he still managed to keep a hold on. It was surprising, really. 

Of course, then his butterfingers thought it would be nice to come back and bite his ass, and so as he tried to turn it around in his arms, it slipped through and out of reach. 

Midoriya cussed foully. Jirou turned to him, eyes wide and pale. "Where's the apocalypse?" 

"I dropped the metal panel." 

"... Shit." 

Midoriya hissed. "Yeah, I know." He watched as it finally reached the arena floor. He could hear the clanging up from where he was. Midoriya turned to Jirou, who was obviously trying to hide disappointment. "Well, there goes our only chance of safely getting to the next—" He froze, his eyes gaining a curious light. 

Jirou blinked. "What's the matter? Did you think of something?" 

Midoriya tilted his head. "Kind of." 

"Kind of?" Jirou raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, 'kind of'?" 

Midoriya furrowed his brows in thought. 

"What metal are your earrings made out of?" 

=====

Daizō wasn't really hearing anything as All for One made his speech. He knew he should be paying attention, but he couldn't—there was so much white noise in his ears that any concentration he usually had flew out the window. 

He looked around the room, seeing nothing but wonder-filled gazes and hawk-like concentration. They were all mesmerized by seeing him, his every movement, every sound that fell from his lips, every motion he made with his hands. Hypnotized by every part of him, they were all practically bent over backward to make it seem like they were paying the most attention to him. To put them higher on his list, he supposed, and yet Daizō couldn't bear to look at the man's smile. It still reminded him of all the times the man found enjoyment in his suffering. 

Daizō held his breath as he tuned back into his speech. All for One said a few words about thankfulness, and he was sure it was about to end any time now. Dabi said that All for One used the same speech over and over again and often cut out more lines every time until there was no speech left. Then he would create a whole new one before repeating the process. It was apparent that All for One had already spoken this one multiple nights before. 

Daizō was betting that All for One was on his last line. The audience clapped and cheered, and All for One bowed. Simple, simple, simple—

"I would now like to introduce my grandson onto the stage." 

Daizō felt his stomach drop to his feet as a million eyes centered on him. He tried to ignore the lump in his throat as he shuffled forward quickly, slipping through the crowd and apologizing every time he accidentally brushed against them. He fumbled slightly when he got to the stage, but no one noticed too much—they were still so focused on All for One, it was almost like he wasn't even there.

He stood next to the man, who sent him a smile. Daizō did his best to stop the tingling feeling in his stomach. 

"All of my guests," he said, "I'd like to introduce you to my successo—" 

A faint rumbling sound cut him off. He fell eerily silent as the rumbling ceased. All for One glanced around the room. Daizō swallowed thickly. Another faint rumble, louder this time, gently shook the building and through the floor. Daizō felt the trembling underneath his feet halt. 

There were a few whispers exchanged through the crowd. The murmuring grew louder until yet another boom echoed through the room. 

Silence. 

All for One turned to the guards that had stepped closer to him in fear of his safety. "Find out what's going on, would you?" he said quietly to the woman nearest him. 

She nodded. "Of course, sir," she said before tapping at the comm in her ear. "Squad Beta, please make your way to corridor eight, I repeat, please make your way to corridor eight as soon as possible—" 

A rumble, loud and suffocating and too close centered from nearest the room they were in. Daizō felt his throat clench as he tried to ease the panic creeping up his spine. He shivered despite himself, and his eyes darted around the room. He looked toward the stained glass windows, peering outside. Rain pummeled the outside of the surface, the dark clouds flashing with lightning strikes as the hard rain crashed against any opening it could find. 

A hand rested on his shoulder, and Daizō flinched. "Come on," All for One said. "We should get going. You're looking a little tired, are you not?" 

Daizō nodded his head mindlessly. Anything to get away from the sounds. All for One's grip tightened for a second before he cleared his throat, regaining the attention of the crowds. "It seems as if we're having a few difficulties. No worries though, it is merely a part of the storm. We'll get it all fixed in the meantime." His tone remained light, though Daizō could hear the hurriedness in his voice. "Now then, before my successor heads off to bed, I would like to introduce him to—" 

Without warning, a loud squeaking sound reverberated through the room. Daizō's head whipped upward to see the bolts keeping one of the chandeliers up was coming undone. There was a moment of silence as everyone held their breath before the chains keeping it up came undone, and then the candles flickered out. It tilted to the side before losing all of its support, and it crashed toward the ground. 

Panicked screams shot through the air, and the crowd swarmed the sides of the room like a school of fish. Chaos wrecked the audience, throwing them into a frenzy. All for One tried to speak over their screams, but the sounds of even more chandeliers crumbling to the ground ensued more noise. All for One gripped Daizō's arm tightly, dragging him off the stage when the windows suddenly cracked and caved in. Hundreds of people flew through the openings, one landing their motorcycle with ease, even with the screeching of the wheels. They paused, motorcycle tilted to one side with their foot on the ground as they searched the room. It was hard to tell what they were looking for with the helmet on their head, effectively blocking their eyes. But, presumably, when they landed on Daizō, they revved up the engine. 

All for One growled under his breath as three random attackers sent out a huge wave of smokebombs, and Daizō heard him cough into the sleeve of his suit. The sound of the engine came closer until a sudden force pulled him out of his grandfather's grip. He felt weightless as he was pulled through the air until the same person who grabbed him plopped him on the seat behind them. 

"Hold on tight to me!" the familiar voice called, and then the wheels were screeching again as the motorcycle powered through the broken-down doorway leading outside. The cold air whipped past Daizō as they flew through the empty streets, zipping through and between different alleyways as several airborne vehicles flew over them. The rain started to drench Daizō's form, making him shiver in the cold. The only reason he was able to see at all with the thick rain was because of the mask, which provided enough protection for his eyes that the pellets of water couldn't fall into them. The engine was emitting a little bit of heat, though it was loud and noisy and it hurt Daizō's ears. 

"What the heck is going on!?" he yelled at them, struggling to be heard over the pounding rain and engine. "Who are you!?" 

The person driving took a sharp turn, and Daizō had to hold especially tight around the person's middle as he felt like he was about to fall over. They laughed. 

"Don't you recognize me?" The person took one hand off the handlebars, grabbing onto the bottom of their helmet before pulling it straight off. The wind carried it out of their hand, and Daizō heard it clunk behind them as it hit the ground. The person's hair whipped outward in the wind as they turned toward him. 

"I came to save you, my little echo." Maiko smiled. "You really didn't think I'd leave you behind, did you?"

=====

"Are you sure that this is going to work?" Jirou said. 

Midoriya shrugged. "Not particularly, but I'm going to try anyway." He had an earring in each ear, ones that Jirou had been wearing during the exercise. He was desperate to win this, and he was going to try everything he could. 

"Okay, but where are we even supposed to be headed?" Her lips were pursed as she twisted around in the air. "In order for this to work, we need time. But we only have five seconds after "the floor is lava" is called. How are we supposed to make it in time?" 

Midoriya released a shaky breath. "Okay, so you know how you said that the safe zones weren't as randomized as we thought it to be?" 

Jirou raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, of course. They don't appear in the same places because otherwise, it might be too condensed and boring. Why?" 

Midoriya sighed. "Well, that got me thinking... If they're already altering the safe zones, then what if they're not randomized at all?" 

Jirou blinked. "What? Why would they lie to us?" 

"To make it more confusing." Midoriya held his hand up to his chin. "By realizing the fact that it's not randomized, there must be some kind of pattern. For example, Present Mic might make it so that safe zones are spread far apart, and that none of them overlap."

Jirou crossed her arms. "Cool, but how can you prove that?" 

Midoriya wracked his brain. It hit him like a shot of lightning. "Wait, do you remember at the beginning? When Todoroki iced everyone? Remember where the safe zones were?" 

Jirou twirled one of her jacks around her ear. "They were—" Her eyes brightened as she realized it. She face palmed. "They were directly around us. All of them were close enough to get in because we were all scrunched together. I'm such an idiot." 

"Right," Midoriya said. "And don't you find it weird that the safe zones usually appear nearby large groups of people, but not around those who are by themselves?" 

"So they're picking us off, a couple at a time," Jirou added. "I guess that makes sense—it makes the entire event more exciting, rather than wiping out large groups at a time by the whole "safe zone thing." It's much more interesting when people are knocked out of the competition by fighting rather than getting to the zones in time." 

"But pure fighting would take too long," Midoriya concluded. "So they had to add a way to eliminate some of the competition each time." 

Jirou nodded. "Okay, I get that. But how does that help us?" 

Midoriya smiled at her. It was an odd sight to see, seeing how he was upside down while she was right-side up. "Well, let's think about it this way: Present Mic and Aizawa are manipulating where the safe zones appear. So they have control over what goes where—but this is Aizawa we're talking about. He has input. So what would he do?" 

"Troll us," Jirou said, deadpan. 

"Exactly!" Midoriya replied brightly. 

Jirou blinked. "Wait, what? I was kidding." 

"And I wasn't," Midoriya said. He twisted himself so he was facing the area where Midnight was standing, her hip cocked and grin still present on her face. "By now, everyone should have come to the same conclusion we did—the safe zones won't appear in the same place they have before. And it was a good answer, but we're partially wrong." He pointed to Midnight, and Jirou followed it until they were both looking at the older heroine. "Kayama-sensei stated one thing that has bugged me for a while. She said that, if we used our quirk more than three times, it would be impossible to move—but she didn't say it was impossible to pass the next rounds without moving. Unlikely, but not impossible." 

Jirou paled. "Don't tell me..." She trailed off. 

Midoriya smiled. "Aizawa is always telling us to look at the entire picture. And almost every time I've looked around for nearby safe zones, one is always nearby Kayama-sensei's perch. I brushed it off, but if what she said was true about not being able to move and yet it still being able to pass, then there must be a loophole that Aizawa and Present Mic created." 

Jirou frowned. "So there's always a safe zone in the exact same spot..." She readjusted herself so she was parallel with him. "But where exactly is it? Nearby Midnight-sensei?" 

Midoriya grinned as he grabbed onto Jirou's shoulders. Pushing himself upward so he was in a split, he tucked the earrings into the top of his socks. The metal was cool against his skin. 

"Not nearby," he said. "On." 

Jirou blinked. "What the—" 

Midoriya felt the skin around his ankles burst with feeling until a group of small chains appeared on either side of his legs. From those small chains sprouted partners, until there was a thick branch shooting out on either side of the open ceiling arena. Hitting each side with a thunk, Midoriya leaned down to grab onto Jirou's hands. 

"Holy shit, we must look like crazy people," Jirou said as their supports grew thicker with each passing second. Midoriya's hands clasped around hers tightly. 

"Probably," Midoriya said. Jirou wondered how it felt to be strung into a perpendicular line. 

Jirou laughed. "At least we're weightle- oh HOLY FUCKING LORD SHIT SHIT!" Both of their weightlessness disappeared, and Jirou screeched as Midoriya's grip tightened considerably. She swung her legs back and forth, trying to ignore the way both of their hands were already sweaty. 

"Hey, hey, hey," Midoriya said, trying to gain her attention. "Don't worry; calm down, I've got you!" Jirou heard the slight panic and pain in his voice as his supports strained under their sudden combined weight. Uraraka must've seen them and released her quirk, or maybe she accidentally released it. "Look, don't worry, I can catch you with my chains if you fall, okay? Just don't look down." 

Jirou was trembling, though she nodded. "Yeah," she said breathlessly. "Yeah, got that." She took in a few deep breaths as she tried to calm herself. "At least you're doing better, yeah? You're not slurring anymore, and the bleeding's stopped." 

Midoriya could tell that she was trying to distract herself. He played along. "Yeah, it doesn't hurt as much as before," he said. "I'm doing so much better." He breathed deeply as he looked around at where Kayama was. "Okay, so, we're going to have to do a bit of maneuvering to get over to Kayama-sensei, alright? So I'm going to pull you up. Sound good?" 

Jirou nodded. "Yeah, yeah..." She blinked lethargically. "I'm gonna wrap myself around our support, hope you don't mind." 

"That's fine," Midoriya said. "Whatever you're comfortable with." He squeezed her hands. "Okay, so we're gonna go in three, two, one—" Midoriya hefted her up, grunting at her weight as she pulled herself around so she was wrapping her arms and legs around the trunk of the chains. She was gripping onto it for dear life. 

Midoriya reached over to the earring on his left leg, pulling it out of its spot. He wrapped his free leg around the chain to balance himself as he brought the earring—and the chain with it—over to his right side. He did the same with the other side before clamping the two earrings down with a few chains; they wrapped around them perpendicular to the long line that he and Jirou were clinging to. 

"Will those stay?" Jirou asked as she watched Midoriya crawl up behind her. 

He was pale. "I hope so," he said truthfully. "Otherwise, we might be in a bit of trouble." If the earrings came loose from their bindings, then they would shoot outward, back toward the side of the arena they were linked to. With their support sufficiently snapped, they would fall unceremoniously. He sent her a weak, trembling smile that moved with his body. He was just as terrified as she was, if even more so. He couldn't believe she calmed down as quickly as she did when she was a grip away from falling to her death. "I'll pay you back for them, by the way." 

"D-don't worry about it," she stuttered. She cleared her throat and put on a brave face, hiding the panic that was previously obvious in her expression. "Okay, so our little chain bridge goes right over Kayama's head, which you probably aimed for. So we should really start moving, and quickly. We don't want to have gone through all of this only to lose the round, ya?" 

Midoriya laughed painfully. "Oh, that'd be so bad." 

=====

Todoroki had easily passed the first game. 

He knew he would—the minute Midnight had explained the game, he understood just what it entailed. He also knew that there would probably be loopholes for people to follow—and for people to fall into. 

He had foreseen many things. Bakugo would be at his tail, trying to trip him all the way, while others would try to gang up and attack him. It was why he started off the event with the long-ranged ice attack—he wanted as little inconveniences as possible. As expected, Bakugo breathed down his neck the entire time, except for the moment when the two were passing by Midoriya and Uraraka. The boy took a detour and sent a huge explosion at them when they weren't looking. 

It was kind of cruel, to be honest. But he could see why Bakugo would want revenge, even if it was mostly unwarranted. Uraraka was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

There was another reason Bakugo attacked the two, however. 

Uraraka and Midoriya were strong opponents. By eliminating them in the first round, Bakugo could potentially gain an advantage later on in the upcoming events. And while Bakugo often liked to fight people he deemed capable of facing him head-on, this was also a tournament where anything could happen—and if Bakugo didn't make it to the third event, then he wasn't even coming close to his promise from his opening speech. 

So he understood it. Would he do it himself? Perhaps, though probably not. He was careful in how and where he used his quirk. The first time was logical, and it cut his competition majorly. Though all his classmates managed to evade it, the ones who merely cluttered up the arena were taken out. His second time included when he was surrounded by thirteen or fourteen robots—once again, he made sure to make his attack as broad as possible to make is effective. He took out around eight more people then. 

The third time ended up being in the final round, when Midnight called the last "The Floor Is Lava!" Todoroki was alone, too far away from a safe zone, and desperate. He used his ice to propel himself across the grounds and get to one in the nick of time, though it was close and he could practically feel his father's eyes burning into him in disappointment. 

A real hero would have prepared himself to get into the zone immediately. 

Todoroki scoffed. Yeah, and a real hero would have "used his fire," old man. I practically know you like the back of my hand. 

Just as Midnight promised, the remaining forty-two students passed. 

Present Mic called out all the names of those that would move on to the next event. However, he paused after calling out the name "Shinsou Hitoshi." 

"Uhm... we're missing two people? Midnight, where are they?" 

Todoroki looked over to Midnight, who was grinning. She pointed upward. Todoroki followed to where she was aiming, and—

What. 

"What's this!? Jirou Kyoka and Midoriya Izuku squeaked by the last round in the air!" 

And once again, Midoriya managed to floor him. How the heck did the two even get up there? 

=====

Cementoss managed to get the two down to the ground. Midoriya fell face-first into the floor, trembling from head-to-toe. Jirou was practically crying from joy. 

"I've seen God," she said hysterically. 

Midoriya let out a muffled groan. 

"I'm so sorry!" Uraraka cried. "I thought you guys were safe, and I really couldn't keep it up any longer... I had no idea you guys were up there!"

"It's fine, really," Jirou reassured, though her voice was wobbly. "You couldn't have known." 

Midnight cleared her throat, gaining the attention of the rest of them. The crowd fell silent again, much quicker this time than previously since their number had been cut incredibly short. She went to go on and say that the next event was going to start soon. They had already decided on the second event before the festival started, so there weren't going to be any surprises. 

As ranking was taking place, Recovery went around and handed out gummies while healing those that had injuries. Midoriya, Jirou, and Uraraka were included in the minority. Before long, Midnight took the stage again, explaining how it was a cavalry battle. A team was set up of three to four people, while each person was assigned the amount of points depending on the rank they got. Their rankings were determined by creativity, the amount of times they relied on their quirks, and how many obstacles and students they took out.

The person in last place was granted five points, the second to last ten, and the next fifteen, until second place. 

And first place was the odd one out—one million points. 

So of course Todoroki got first place. Of course he did. 

Jirou got in second, while Bakugo got in third. Midoriya got forth, probably for his little stunt. Yaoyorozu got fifth, apparently since she only used her quirk once, and then Todoroki stopped caring and didn't look at the remaining people. He heard from Midoriya not too far away that everyone from their class passed, which was a relief. That meant that he knew a majority of everyone's quirks beforehand. 

It turned out that not many people wanted to join him. It was no surprise. There was a girl named Hatsume Mei who approached him, asking to join his group. He might have turned her away any other time, but he didn't have much support and she was strong in her own way. And her mechanics would come in handy against the others. 

"May I join you?" a voice said from behind him. Todoroki turned to see Yaoyorozu. 

"You're not joining up with Midoriya?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. 

She smiled nervously at him. "I wanted to gain a different experience," she said honestly. "And I thought I'd be a good help." 

Todoroki didn't even have to think about it as he nodded. Yaoyorozu was brilliant, and her quirk was just as useful. "Of course. We should probably get one more person now." 

"I think I could fill that role." 

Todoroki glanced back at the person. "And why would I pick you?" 

They smiled. "I think you'd be a little surprised, son of Endeavor." Todoroki gritted his teeth as they smirked at him. "You won't be able to pass without me." 

Todoroki narrowed his eyes. "Start talking." 

=====

Midoriya watched as Bakugo, Kirishima, Kaminari, and Ashido team up. Aoyama, Tokoyami, and Shouji were talking not too far away from them. Asui was standing beside the three quietly. 

Midoriya turned back to see that Jirou was still standing by his side. She smiled back at him when seeing his questioning expression. 

"I was hoping that we could team up," she said nervously as she rubbed the back of her head. "I hope you don't mind being paired with number two." 

Midoriya smiled up at her. "I should be the one asking you," he said. "But of course we can team up." He looked around at the different stray students. "You might want to find any others you want to team up with before we get surrounded—as number two, they'll be attracted to you." 

Jirou nodded as she tapped her lower lip with the end of her jack. She was surprised she even got so high on the charts, though that could have been due to all the robots she destroyed with her amplifiers and Midoriya's creative stunt. 

Before she could say something, a someone tapped on her shoulder. Jirou turned to her, blinking her eyes as she took in the girl's appearance. She had vines sprouting from her head as her hair and dark eyes. She held herself with elegant poise, as she smiled at the two of them. 

"If I may ask, would you be so kind to allow me to accompany you?" 

Midoriya peered around Jirou. "I don't mean to sound rude, but may I ask what your quirk is first?" 

The girl nodded as she held her hand over her chest. "My quirk is called Vines—I can grow, control, and detach the vines from my head at will. My name is Shiozaki Ibara." 

Jirou smiled at her as she reached her hand out. "My name's Jirou Kyoka. My quirk is called Earphone Jack. I can hear things better by embedding my jacks into objects, but I can also release sound from my amplifiers." She pointed to her ankles, where they sat innocently. 

"I'm Midoriya Izuku," the boy beside her said. "My quirk is called Chain Conjuring—I can create chains from metal if I have contact with them. As long as it's still touching me, I can control their movements and from where the chains grow." 

Shiozaki gave them both a smile as she took Jirou's outstretched hand. She shook it. "It's nice to meet both of you." 

Jirou grinned back at her. "Welcome to the team." 

"Hey, hey, hey, can I join too?" Midoriya turned to see Sero running toward their group. 

Shiozaki blinked in surprise. "Oh, and who might you be?" 

Sero laughed as he placed his hands on his hips. "I'm Sero Hanta! My quirk's called Tape. I can shoot, well, tape out of my elbows. It's super sticky!" 

Jirou nodded. "He'd be a useful addition." 

"True," Midoriya said. "You okay with that, Shiozaki?" 

The girl seemed caught off-guard, but she nodded and smiled. "But of course." 

"Heck yeah!" Sero said, pumping his fist up in the air. "That's awesome!" 

"But now we're mostly long-ranged attacks," Midoriya said. "So it might be difficult to make our formation." 

Jirou twirled her jack around her finger. "Well, I think that I should be the main horse." At the others' gazes on her, she continued. "My jacks can be used to attack people, and they're super durable. They'd be helpful for short-ranged attacks. However, I don't want to be the rider, because then I'd hurt you guys when using my sound attacks, which are most effective against large groups of people." 

Sero clapped his hands together. "Well, then I guess you're being the rider then, Midoriya!" 

Midoriya blinked. "Huh." 

Shiozaki laughed lightly behind her hand. "Well, you seem to be the lightest out of the rest of us, yes? That would make it easier on Jirou, who will be protecting you from people attempting to steal our bands." 

"Plus, me and Shiozaki's quirks are great for long range, and they're not as finicky as yours is," Sero added. "If someone knocked your piece of metal out of your hands, you're done for, and we're weaker as a whole." 

"And Sero and Shiozaki's quirks are great to keep others as far away from us as possible, yeah?" Jirou said. 

Midoriya scratched the side of his cheek but nodded. "I-I mean, I guess so. Are you guys okay with that?" 

"But of course," Shiozaki said. 

Midoriya smiled at all of them brightly. 

Sero tried to ignore the way it made him feel warm.

=====

Five hundred and twenty-five points. 

That was Jirou's team's point worth. Technically, if they wanted to, they could probably skip out on the entire event and play defense. However, they decided that they'd go on the offensive for a little while and steal more bands, if only to get more points in case something happened. 

And that was how they came across the infamous Monoma Neito. 

"Eh, Shiozaki? What are you even doing with these Class 1-A idiots?" He smiled. "Don't tell me you were converted into their idiocy?" He began to laugh like a madman. "Oh my god, now you're turning us too—" 

Shiozaki slammed a wave of vines into his face before they sprinted away. "Sinful buffoon," she muttered under her breath. 

Midoriya really had no idea how to react. To think that the male, who used to be in Class 1-A until he took his place, hated their class so much... 

Midoriya shook his head as his group entered the middle of the boxed-in area. They had only thirteen minutes left. As they passed another group full of Class 1-B kids, Sero swung a wad of tape around one of the horses. Their entire group was yanked backward, and Midoriya slipped his hand beneath the rider's band and pulled lightly. It came off with ease, and Midoriya pulled it around his own neck. 

One hundred and seventy more points. They were in second place. 

"Think we can keep this up?" Jirou called up to them. 

Midoriya smiled. "I think we should turn up the heat." 

=====

Aoyama wasn't responding. 

No matter how many times they yelled down to him, he wouldn't move. They had to stay still while Tsuyu and Tokoyami used their quirks to get their bands. 

Shouji covered him with one of his many arms to try and hide their obvious weakness in their third horse. 

Aoyama's eyes remained misty. He was glassy-eyed. 

And they had no idea how it happened. 

=====

Kirishima was Bakugo's main horse, while Mina and Kaminari were their side ones. The three of them were standing across from Todoroki's team. 

Bakugo screamed as he launched himself up and toward Todoroki, hands reaching out to grab his band. Yaoyorozu launched a net at him, and he had to blast himself back in order to not get captured. He growled under his breath as he landed back on his horses. 

The Hatsume girl was obviously their defense. Yaoyorozu was their backup, though she also served as a great attacker. She was their main horse, which impressed Bakugo. She didn't even seem fazed by Todoroki's weight. 

But that left the last member. Bakugo narrowed his eyes as he peered the boy down. He was unfamiliar, and he hadn't seen him before. 

He tsked as he couldn't find out what his quirk was from looks alone. "Oi, Todoroki!?" he spat. "How long are you going to play hard to get? Quit being a scardy-cat!" 

Todoroki sniffed. "At least it's better than being an angry Pomeranian." 

A tick mark appeared by Bakugo's head. "The fuck did you say!?" 

Todoroki glowered at Bakugo. "I said," he said, speaking slowly as if talking to a kindergartner, "you're acting like a little dog."

Bakugo was seething. Before he could respond however, Todoroki nudged the pink-haired girl. She smiled and mentioned something about "babies" before she pressed a button on her controller. Suddenly, the four shot upward and were flying through the air. 

Bakugo cursed before he shot himself back upward, explosions rocketing himself as he chased after them. Todoroki didn't even seem surprised as he lifted his right hand, sending a burst of cold air. Bakugo dodged it, though he lost some of the ground he made as Todoroki started to head back toward ground. 

"Nice shot," Yaoyorozu complimented. 

Todoroki exhaled sharply through his nose. "Thanks—" He froze as he felt something whiz directly beside his ear. His eyes widened as something started to move around his head, slipping underneath his headband—

Instinctively, Todoroki raised his left hand and sent out a huge burst of fire. The thing receded immediately. 

It was a vine. 

Todoroki whipped around as his team touched the ground. Standing there was Midoriya, sitting on his horses of Jirou, Sero, and a girl he didn't recognize. She was the ones with the vines, and she had a grimace on her face as the burnt plant curled itself into the area around her neck, where it would be protected from any further attacks. Midoriya and him made eye contact. 

"Are you all right, Shiozaki?" the boy inquired, though he was still staring at Todoroki.

The girl nodded. "I'm fine. It's nothing more than a small burn." 

Todoroki might've been offended if he wasn't too concentrated on the tingling in his left hand and the look on Midoriya's face. It was one he'd only seen once, and that was when he and Shigaraki faced off. Even then, he'd only gotten a glimpse. 

"Todoroki," Midoriya started slowly. His voice was frosty. "How on earth do you think you're going to keep up with us?" 

Okay, now Todoroki was offended. "Excuse me?" he snapped back. "What does—" 

It was quick, sharp, and Todoroki had no time to react as two of the four bands around his neck was snapped away from him. They landed in Midoriya's waiting hands. 

Had Midoriya aimed for his right side, Todoroki might have frozen those chains in place. But he didn't. He aimed for his left side. 

Midoriya's frown deepened. "That's what I mean." 

Todoroki gritted his teeth. Midoriya hadn't even bothered aiming for the one million. He could have taken it right then and there, or tried to, at least. But he didn't. 

He was using him as a message. 

Todoroki balled his hands into fists. Behind him, more footsteps were heard. There was Kirishima, Ashido, and Kaminari, all ready for an attack. A look around told him that Bakugo was still in the air. 

They were surrounded from all angles. 

=====

"Come on," Kirishima taunted. "Aren't you gonna fight back? Because that one million is looking like an easy catch at the moment." 

The unfamiliar boy twisted to face him fully. "Oh really?" he asked. "And, pray tell, how are you going to do that?" 

Kirishima grinned. "Well, I can't reveal my—" 

Static. Kirishima felt his body grow lax. 

The boy with the purple hair and deep bags smiled. 

Stay put. 

Kirishima felt like cotton filled his ears and mouth and nose. Someone said something to him, though he couldn't hear it. He tried to fight against it, really. 

He heard Bakugo's screams. There was arguing. 

And more arguing. 

And more arguing. 

And silence. 

=====

Todoroki smiled despite himself. "There goes one team's main horse," he said. While Bakugo would still be troubling, he was in the air—

Yaoyorozu sent another net at the boy who was trying to dive straight toward them. He cussed loudly before evading it. And then again, he tried, and again, and again. Todoroki did his best to ward off the multiple vines, strings of tape, and chains that tried to go for his million-point headband. For several minutes, it stayed in that standstill—never making any progress, never finding an opening. 

"Six minutes left!" 

Yaoyorozu frowned before creating something in her hand. Immediately, Midoriya screeched "CLOSE YOUR EYES!" 

She threw the weapon down, and Jirou could see the bright light through her closed lids as a wave of heat came over them. Cracking her eyes open a second later, she growled at the sight of Todoroki's team back in the middle of the arena. Todoroki looked back to Midoriya before creating a wave of ice, building a huge wall that separated the first half of the area from the second. 

"Dammit!" Bakugo cursed from above. "Shitty Hair, get through to the other side!" he ordered before disappearing over the wall. Ashido winced. "How are we supposed to get him to when he's not responding to us?" she asked Kaminari. 

The electric boy was biting his lip in worry as he gripped Kirishima's arm. He could shock him, maybe, but would that really break him out of it? Kaminari shook his head. "I don't know." 

Midoriya felt guilt overcome him as he looked at the two. He had no idea how to help them, though, and turned away as Jirou ran toward the wall. 

"Shiozaki, I need you to help break through the wall," Jirou ordered as she stepped one foot forward. Almost immediately, a high pitched sound shot through the air, hitting the ice formation repeatedly. The vine girl nodded, and her hair extended as they pounded against it in fierce strikes. Midoriya gripped the two pieces of metal in his hands—Shiozaki found them for him from the last event before the battle started—and watched as several more chains burst from the pieces. He shot them toward the wall, and he helped the best he could. 

He ignored the pounding headache that he had. It had steadily grown worse over the events, now a pressed clamp around his head that made him woozy. He wanted nothing more than to sleep his obvious illness away, but he had more important things to focus on. 

Like taking down this damn wall. 

"Sero," he called down toward the boy, who was fidgeting slightly from not doing anything, "could you stay on guard? Who knows what attack they'll have prepared for us." He was breathless from exhaustion, but he didn't dare let it show. 

The boy nodded, a look of determination crossing his features. "Of course." 

Midoriya froze as a whisper invaded his sense of hearing. 

todoroki, todoroki, flame, flame, flame 

unstable,

unable, 

he'll blame, blame, blame, 

don't get caught in this fable 

or you'll be strung like cable 

and cooked over the fire for dinner 

The wall cracked and collapsed. 

fire, fire, 

fire

fire

fire 

fi

i

iiiiiii

rreererrree

f

f

f

f

f

f

fi

fi

ffi

fi

fir

fir

fire

fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

endeavor?

"—riya? Midoriya!" 

Midoriya blinked frantically. His hands were clamped tightly over his ears, and he felt something trailing down from his nose. The chains he created were dragging along the floor. 

A... nose bleed? 

"I'm fine," he said. "I'm sorry, I didn't- how much time do we have left?" 

Jirou exchanged a glanced with the other two. "We have two minutes." 

"We just finished taking down the wall," Sero jumped in, placing a reassuring arm on Midoriya's arm. "Look dude, if you're not feeling well, we can call it quits. We've got enough points anyway." 

Shiozaki nodded. "We're in third, if I remember correctly." 

"And anyway," Jirou interjected, "Bakugo and his team finally managed to get Kirishima to snap out of it. They're also going for the one million. It'd be difficult to even try getting the points." 

Midoriya rubbed his head with one hand. "I'll do whatever you want to do. If you want to continue, that's up to you." 

Shiozaki smiled up at him. "I feel as if it would be best for you to merely wait out these next few minutes." 

Jirou nodded. "Yeah, that sounds fair. I don't think we'd make much more of an impact, anyway." 

Sero hummed in agreement. 

Midoriya sighed. "All right," he conceded. 

Suddenly, Shiozaki sent out a wave of vines at something behind them. Midoriya turned to see that Monoma had attempted to sneak up on them. 

"Now is all right," Shiozaki said as she smiled. 

=====

Todoroki's team remained in first place. 

Bakugo's came into second. 

Midoriya's came into third. 

Asui's came into fourth. 

Uraraka's team, which consisted of Iida, her, and Kouda, was close behind.

Midoriya was proud of his team. Even though they moved down a place, they still managed to gain more points than they had originally. Those moving onto the third event included Todoroki, Yaoyorozu, Hatsume, Shinsou, Bakugo, Kirishima, Kaminari, Ashido, Midoriya, Shiozaki, Sero, Jirou, Shouji, Tokoyami, Asui, and Aoyama. 

They were the remaining sixteen, and they'd be participating in the one on one battles. 

Midnight snapped her whip. "Any questions before we move onto a one-hour break?" 

There was a moment of silence. And then—

"I'm sorry," a voice called out. It was small, almost ashamed. Midoriya turned, surprised, to see Aoyama with his head bowed. He looked up, and Midoriya was shocked to see it without a smile. He looked... sad. 

"I'm dropping out of the next event," he said clearly. Midoriya's stomach turned to ice as he bowed. "I did not do anything for the entire cavalry battle. I was under a person's spell, and..." His voice cracked. "I believe someone who worked hard to pass, and yet couldn't, should take my place. That is why I'm asking you now to let Uraraka replace me in the upcoming event." He came up from his bow, and Midoriya saw the tears in his eyes. "Mademoiselle helped me out in the first event, and I feel like this is my only way to repay her." He shot Midnight a shaky smile. "After all, how can I shine in the spotlight when I did nothing on the stage?" 

Silence overcame the entire group. Midoriya felt his eyes water slightly. And then—

"Me too."  Midoriya whipped his head around to see Kirishima, whose usual smile was pulled into a frown. "I would like to give my place up to Iida." Kirishima's voice wavered as he continued to speak. "As someone who passed, I should be proud of how I got here. I should have won it fairly." He swallowed. "But, instead—" He stopped himself and took a shuddering breath in. He clasped his hands together. "I did nothing. My teammates carried me throughout the whole round. And it's not manly to claim something for myself when I don't deserve it." 

Kirishima bowed, a shadow falling over his eyes. Aoyama stared at him before bowing beside him. 

"Please consider my request, Midnight-sensei," Kirishima croaked. 

Midoriya felt his stomach churn uncomfortably. He was about to step toward them when a hand wrapped around his own. He looked back to see Sero smiling sadly. "Please don't," he whispered to him. Midoriya glanced away. 

Midnight was quiet for a moment. She stared at the two of them before looking to Uraraka and Iida, who looked just as shocked as everyone else. "Would you two be willing to take up the challenge?" 

Iida was the first to react. He cleared his throat and adjusted his glasses. "If that is what they so wish, I would be honored to take Kirishima's place." 

Uraraka nodded. "But only if you're sure!" she said, waving her hands back and forth. 

Midnight hummed to herself before smiling. "Well then, of course! What beautiful and respectful youth!" She snapped her whip once more. "Kirishima Eijiro, Aoyama Yuuga, you are dismissed from the upcoming tournament. Uraraka Ochako, Iida Tenya, please take their places!" 

Kirishima and Aoyama stood before turning, shaking the hands of their replacements. They both had relieved looks on their faces, but Kirishima's smile was trembling so hard that it looked like it'd snap any second. Midoriya turned away, unable to look any further. A deep disappointment struck in his gut, because they'd done so well

Midoriya wiped his tears away, trying to hold back any more that'd fall. They deserved that win. They deserved to move on. 

They deserved it. 

=====

Midoriya didn't participate in the games during intermission. Instead, he excused himself, got a little something to eat to carry him though the next hour or so, and then scurried to Recovery Girl's office. He told her that he wanted to sleep because he didn't get much last night. She didn't question him too much. He slept for about half an hour before he gave up on the endeavor. 

The first match was between Kaminari and Shinsou. The second was Shiozaki and Hatsume. Iida and Ashido were after. Then it was him and Todoroki. Asui and Tokoyami were after. Shouji and Jirou were next. That left Sero and Yaoyorozu, and then—

"I'm actually against Bakugo," Uraraka whispered. She frowned. "That's gonna be tough." 

Midoriya winced. "Yeah, I'm against Todoroki..." 

"Indeed you are." 

Midoriya turned to see the same boy was behind him. "Oh, hi," he said. "I wasn't expecting you here." 

Todoroki stared at him unnervingly. "Can we talk?" 

Talk? He glanced toward Uraraka. He probably means privately. Looking back toward the taller male, Midoriya hesitated. Did he really want to speak with the boy now? They only had around twenty-five minutes left before the first match. He bit his lip but nodded. "Right. Of course." 

Midoriya wanted to believe that Todoroki seemed a little relieved, but his mask was still firmly in place. "Come on, then," he said. He twisted and stalked down a corridor. Midoriya hesitated again, but he followed after the boy. He waved toward Uraraka, who awkwardly returned it. 

Midoriya bit his lip as they continued to go farther and father away from the rest of the crowds. Silence prevailed. 

Midoriya didn't want to break it, too afraid that it would shatter their already-strained relationship. 

Todoroki paused when they reached a secluded wing. 

"Todoroki?" Midoriya asked to the boy's back. "... Todoroki, what did you want from me?" 

The boy tensed before he sighed. He glanced back toward the smaller male. "Can I ask you a question?" 

Midoriya blinked. "Sure, I guess..." 

Todoroki was silent for a moment as he shoved his hands deep into his pockets. 

"Where, exactly... did you get your burn scar?"

=====

Midoriya was told not to get attached to the people he was saving. 

But he couldn't help it. 

And now, he was on the floor, curled up in a small ball. Todoroki's words about an abusive father and a broken mother rang through his head. He felt his chest ache for Todoroki. He felt his chest ache for Aoyama and Kirishima. 

He felt his chest ache for everyone. 

And he cried. 

(And he cried some more.) 

=====

Uraraka almost asked why Midoriya's eyes were red and puffy when he came back to the stands. 

Sero placed a hand on her shoulder and shook his head. 

So she didn't. 

=====

endeavor, endeavor, 

a lover, a lover,

a lover of hate 

hate 

hate 

hate 

 

 

 

 

 

 

welcome to our flames, 

endeavor, 

we hope 

you

burn

=====

Kaminari listened to the cheers of the audience that filled the stands. He remained as still as he could until Present Mic finally called him up to the battle arena. 

Kaminari tried not to spark when he saw Shinsou. 

"Why?" Kaminari asked as he grabbed Kirishima's wrists. "Why did you- Kirishima, it wasn't your fault—" He felt tears start to well up in his eyes again. "You- you promised me, Kirishima. You promised me that we'd make it to the very end, and that, when the time came, when one of us had to face Bakugo, the other would be cheering our hearts out." He felt his chest shudder as he struggled not to cry. "Why, Kirishima? Why'd you give that up?" He felt a sob wrack through him. 

Kirishima grabbed onto Kaminari's arms. "I couldn't live with myself if I moved on, Kaminari," he said, though he could hear the wobble in his voice. "I wouldn't—" 

"I swear to god, if you say that y-you wouldn't be manly, I-I will punch you in the face. It's not all about being manly, Kirishima—" 

"I wasn't about to say manly," Kirishima interjected. Kaminari clamped his mouth shut. Kirishima had tears escaping his eyes now. "I was going to say that I wouldn't be able to be your equal." Kaminari didn't reply, though he hiccuped as he wiped his face. "Kaminari, I wanted to face you as your opponent. As a friend." Kirishima's voice trembled. "I was su-supposed to go all out against you, you know? Just us two, gi-giving it our all, trying our hardest..." He sniffled. "How was I supposed to do that if I hadn't even participated for most of the second event?" 

Kaminari ducked his head. "That's not fair to you, Kirishima. That's not fair." 

Kirishima laughed hoarsely. "I know, Kaminari, I know." He placed his hands on Kaminari's shoulders. "But it's okay. Because you're going to do great out there, right?" He gave him a weak grin. "You're going to beat him! P-plus Ultra!" 

Kaminari gave him a wobbling smile in return. He punched the air weakly. "Plus Ultra." 

As Kaminari made his way to his side of the arena, he could see Shinsou smirking up at him. It got under Kaminari's skin, made his blood boil and his broken heart ache. 

The two stared one another down as the clock counted down. "START!" came from Present Mic's speakers, and Kaminari instantly started talking. 

"Don't you care what you did? That you forced them out of the tournament?" 

The boy with the purple hair rolled his eyes. "Am I supposed to?" He sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "And anyway, I didn't force them out of anything. They were idiots and backed out themselves. They could have stayed if they really wanted to." 

Kaminari gritted his teeth as he stepped forward. His hands were balled into fists. "You're the reason why I want to be a hero," he muttered harshly under his breath. 

Shinsou raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me? I couldn't hear that." 

Kaminari felt his composure snap as he sent a wave of sparks at the boy. "I said, you're the kind of person that made me want to be a hero, you asshole—!" 

Kaminari watched as something unreadable flashed in his eyes when everything turned to static. Kaminari felt his muscles slump. It reminded him of how he felt when he overused his quirk and went into his "idiot phase." It was cold, blinding, and uncomfortable. He felt trapped in his own mind as disconnected thoughts ran through his head. 

"Turn around and walk off the field."

The order rang clear in his head. He felt his body twist and his legs move. 

The sounds of the audience gasping or booing didn't reach his ears. It was silent, silent, silent. 

He could practically feel Kirishima's eyes on him as he crossed the line. 

He heard a whistle, and then everything cleared. 

You're going to do great out there, right? You'll beat him! Plus Ultra! 

He felt something wet rolling down his cheeks. 

=====

Hatsume and Shiozaki's round was a joke. 

Todoroki couldn't even bear to watch it as Shiozaki struggled to win the round with all of Hatsume's devices moving her around. The latter even commentated the entire round, explaining all of her creations in full details. 

Shiozaki was clearly upset. 

Iida and Ashido were after. Iida eventually won. He was slightly faster than Ashido with his Recipro Burst, which he used for the firs time. Ashido put up a fight though, tooth-and-nail, and she actually ruined most of Iida's clothes with her acid. The ground too suffered from deep gashes, and they had to take a ten minute break for Cementoss to fill in the gaps. 

Todoroki was heading toward his first battle—which was up against Midoriya. He would arrive around five minutes early, but that was okay. At least it could be better than arriving late. That, and he'd hopefully evade his father from attempting to interrogate him. While speaking with Midoriya helped some, he was still seething at the fact that his father continued to breathe down his neck about every little thing he did. 

Unfortunately, as he turned a sharp corner, his luck was proven to be nonexistent. Standing rigid and frowning in the middle of the hallway was Endeavor himself, his flames licking at his face. 

"Shouto." 

"Endeavor," Todoroki replied. "My match is coming up. Please move aside. I don't want to be late." 

Endeavor exhaled sharply through his nose, clearly not taking his easy lie. "You can wait a moment. You still have time." 

Todoroki narrowed his eyes. "What is it?" 

Endeavor crossed his arms as he looked down at Todoroki. "You know as well as I do that you won't win this tournament if you don't use your left side." 

"I don't need your fire," came Todoroki's automatic response. "I can do it with just Mom's power." He attempted to shove his way past Endeavor, who let him pass. 

However, he didn't leave without the last laugh. "You say that, Shouto, but let's remember where she is right now." Todoroki froze. "I'd recommend you fix that attitude and teenage rebellion. Open your eyes—using just your left side will leave you like her: broken and useless." 

Todoroki felt his anger spike as he remained glued to the spot. However, he didn't dare attack his father. Instead, he continued making his way down the hall and toward the wing where he would remain until his match started. He felt frost start to crackle and harden against his skin. He did his best to suppress it. 

He didn't do very well.

=====

When Todoroki was called to the stage, Midoriya was already there. He wasn't wearing any shoes or socks, and a panel of metal was placed beneath his feet. 

Of course. It was probably to help his quirk. Todoroki barely managed to keep himself from lashing out then and there, waiting impatiently as Present Mic called out their names and introductions. His own was long, mostly because he came in first in both of the events. 

As he focused on Midoriya, whose eyes were red and puffy, he couldn't help but feel bad. 

He wouldn't have any idea what hit him. 

Once again, Present Mic called for the fight to start. Almost immediately, the panel beneath Midoriya's feet burst to life—chains shot toward Todoroki, wrapping around his waist and pulling him outward. Others burrowed into the ground around the panel, effectively grounding it and Midoriya as a result. 

"What a brilliant tactic!" Present Mic screamed. "Who knows, maybe this might even be the thing that ends the streak of Todoroki Shouto!" 

Todoroki huffed as he neared the line. "Sorry," he murmured under his breath as the air around him suddenly grew cold. From beneath his foot, ice began to form, slowing his movement to a stop before it tore through the air. Ice began to pile on one another, growing stronger as it hurtled toward Midoriya. 

Todoroki watched as Midoriya's eyes widened before a tidal wave hit him, encasing him in the ice completely. And yet it kept going, up, up, up, until the tip of the ice attack he sent swept high above the top of the arena. The ground shook, almost causing him to tumble to the ground. He felt frost and ice form over himself as the ice permeated a terribly chill in the air. He did his best to hide his shivering as he waited for Midnight to speak. She herself was covered half in ice. 

She cleared her throat as she spoke into her microphone. "M-Midoriya, we cannot t-tell if you're able to move. If n-no changes take place in the next twenty seconds, we will end this round with Todoroki as the winner." 

Present Mic's voice was shaky over the speakers. "T-Todoroki shoots a massive glacier attack... leaving us all shocked and rooted to the spot." He sounded dumbfounded. "Does Midoriya even stand a chance?" 

Todoroki closed his eyes as he sighed. Ten seconds already passed without action, and there was still no sign of him moving. He counted down in his head as the audience waited with bated breath. 

Ten. 

Nine. 

Eight. 

Seven. 

Six. 

Five. 

Four. 

Three. 

Two. 

One. 

Nothing. 

Todoroki sighed and began to walk toward the ice formation. He would most likely have to find and break Midoriya out before he got frostbite. 

Midnight swallowed thickly. "There is no reaction from the other side. This round is over—" 

A loud snapping sound echoed through the arena. Todoroki froze as a crack appeared in the large structure. It was large, expanding across half of the surface. And then another crack appeared, branching off the first, and then another, and then another. 

"Wh-what's this? Has Midoriya found a way to get out?" Present Mic rambled. 

And then the side of the structure exploded. A thick cylinder of hundreds of chains wrapped around one another burst through the side, red hot as steam poured from the opening. A second group burst from the other side, and then two more—one directly from the top, and the other straight forward. The base of the ice structure caved in, sending ice fragments flying through the air. Huge chunks of ice rolled off the surface and collapsed against the ground, sending huge gusts of winds at Todoroki. 

His bangs flew upward, and his hair whipped backward as a huge cloud of steam poured in from the empty cavity. The four thick columns of chains rose up and melded together, forming a writhing body that could be compared to that of a snake. They were red hot, and Todoroki could feel the amount of heat emanating from them from where he stood. The chains made soft clinking sounds as they rubbed against one another. 

As the snake-like formation twisted in the air, its eerie melody of clinks following it, the steam cleared somewhat enough for a small shadow to become visible. Standing in the mouth of the giant crater was Midoriya, his expression like that of stone. 

Todoroki's eyes widened as he saw that Midoriya was practically untouched. He heard Present Mic stutter as he spoke. 

"Wh-what the-!? Since when was Midoriya able to do that!? He just broke through Todoroki's ice attack like it was butter!" 

After him, a deeper, more gravely voice spoke into the mic. "Heroes often hide tricks up their sleeves until it becomes inevitable to hide them any longer. For them to both use an all-out attack like this..." On the screen above Present Mic's box, it displayed Todoroki and Midoriya's current states. "It's not just terrifying, it's also a huge warning to the other contestants. "This is who you will soon face." It's an intimidation factor." 

There was a pause as Midoriya stepped forward, leaving the orifice in the giant ice structure behind. The ice chinked as Midoriya stepped on them, leaving shattered remains behind. 

"And it's definitely working." 

=====

Quirk ― Recipience: The ability to receive quirks with the original owner's full consent; can GIVE quirks received, but only back to their original owner.

Warning: Consent can still be achieved forcefully through torture, as seen by example three.

Quirks Received:

#1: (XXX, Seiya): Time Manipulation—can manipulate time at will on both objects and self; stress can cause it to activate; will sometimes replace dreams with visions
#2: (XXX, Maiko): Chain Conjuring—with skin contact, can summon chains; also controls their movements until contact is relinquished
#3: (Disaya, XXX): Heat Conductor—can release heat from the bottom of feet and palms up to 2,400 degrees Celsius; can distribute how hot it gets on objects freely
#4: (XXX, XXX): Pain Concentration-naturally lowers the amount of pain the user goes through
#5: (XXX, XXX): Faerie Whisperer—will hear messages in inner ear canal, often warnings; the more wind and shadows present, the more frequent and clear the messages are; user can sometimes control what they wish to hear

*Note: One quirk that had been received was a vaulting-type quirk from the user's cat. This quirk was given back to its owner after an incident with the family.

=====

Midoriya had the panel slipped into his jacket so it touched his skin directly. It was strapped to his back, held in place by more chains wrapped around his middle and shoulders. Even as he walked, it barely seemed to bother or hinder him in any way. 

"You said you'd only use your right side," Midoriya commented, loud enough to be heard by Todoroki. "But you're not the only one holding yourself back." 

As Midoriya took a step forward, Todoroki took one back. 

"So I made myself a deal." He held his arms out, letting the huge moving beast slither closer. "If I won't do it anymore, then maybe I can convince you to stop too." He narrowed his eyes. "So, Todoroki—just how long are we going to do this for?" He tilted his head upward. 

"How long will it take to get you to use your left side?" 

Chapter Text

Sero stared, wide-eyed and mouth open in shock. Their entire class's eyes were bulged out of their skulls, excluding Bakugo—but he didn't count.

"H-holy shit," Kirishima cursed from beside him.

"Lesson learned," Hagakure said faintly. "Don't piss Midoriya off."

How... since when could he even do that?

Sero gulped as his throat went dry. "Bloody hell," he muttered to himself. He watched in awe as the large serpent-chained-creature-thing slithered upward into the air, the faint sounds of the chains knocking against one another echoing throughout the arena. Sero felt his breath get taken away at the amount of control Midoriya had over its every movement.

Sero knew from the first time he saw Midoriya that he was something different. His peering eyes and ever-knowing gaze never failed to send a shiver up his spine. Midoriya was something, something that held so much more raw power than what could be seen in the naked eye.

And for the first time, Sero felt like he finally understood why.

As he leaned over the railing, breath showing in short bursts of mist from the palpitating temperatures in the air, he watched as Midoriya spoke to Todoroki. The dual-haired boy said something back, and Midoriya sighed. The boy seemed disappointed as he raised his arm, and Sero choked on his own spit as the chained creature unraveled, swirling upward into a huge wave of heat and metal. Climbing higher than where the student body was seated, the moving surface of the huge wall shuddered and swayed as it grew even taller. Sero felt like he couldn't breathe if he wanted to.

Silence fell over the entire audience as everyone held their breath. And Sero, straining his ears, caught the last words that Midoriya spoke before hell broke loose.

"Fine. The hard way it is, then."

=====

Todoroki peered up at the giant tidal wave. He felt a drop of sweat roll down the back of his neck, sticking a few strands of hair to his skin uncomfortably. In front of him, Midoriya was frowning. 

He didn't know why. Midoriya had randomly told him to use his fire side—and why? Why would he ever break his vow? He made it clear that he'd never use it again, and it'd been years since he purposely tried to... 

So why now? Why was Midoriya so damn focused on it? 

If Todoroki's eyes could grow any wider, he was sure they would at that moment. Even with his head craned all the way up, he still couldn't see the top of the wave. Perhaps, maybe, that was for the best. Maybe he'd freak out more if he could. It blocked out part of the sun's rays, enough to cast a sharp black shadow on the ground. Even so, the light that bounced off of the metal burned into his eyes, and he winced as they watered. 

Yet he couldn't bring himself to blink. There was this terrifying thought that the moment he did, those same chains would be wrapping around his throat, throttling him as he struggled to fight back. 

(A small voice in the back of his head whispered that that would never happen. Midoriya was kind, and he wouldn't even dream of hurting any of his classmates. He looked at them with so much care, like they meant the world to him, and beating them up for his amusement wasn't anywhere in his character.

Todoroki broke that voice in his head. His mother was kind too, and she cared about him. Did that necessarily stop her from burning him? No. 

And then another small voice in his head cried that it was his father that drove her to do that. His mother still cared about him, Fuyumi said so herself. 

He broke that voice, too.) 

"Shame," Midoriya said as he sighed. "Fine. The hard way it is, then." 

And then he snapped his arm down, and the tip of the tidal wave curved before it began to make its descent toward Todoroki. He cursed as he moved his right foot forward, summoning all his willpower to freeze the area around himself faster. The creaking and clanking of the chains as they came crashing forward at a speed inhumane was deafening, only barely muffled as a dome made of thick ice surrounded him. He watched through the translucent layer as everything around him grew considerably darker. Todoroki breathed out for a second, seeing his breath as it rose from his mouth. 

Silence. 

And then the dome was hit by an onslaught of the metal links, and the ceiling crashed to the ground in an instant. Todoroki hissed as ice fragments flew toward him and embedded themselves deeply into his arms, which were covering his face protectively. He ignored the pain that followed and created a layer of ice that rose up from the ground, almost like a bridge. Chains flew across the ground, the layer so thick that little to no openings to the floor revealed themselves. When they did, they lasted but a few seconds before they were swallowed up by more metal. 

Sliding swiftly through the air as he began to get some altitude, he winced as the ringing in his ears grew louder. His feet started to burn through his shoes as he slid across his own ice—while he did his best to make the surface of his bridge smooth, the speed he was crossing it allowed little imperfections and bumps to add up. He went in a zig-zag pace, doing his best to mislead the boy beneath him while he evaded the chains that swirled back around like a boomerang. 

Simultaneously using his ice to freeze small pairs of chains to his bridge and to give him another burst of speed, he skidded quickly around the arena, careful not to step out of bounds. Even as he did his best to take the chains out little by little, he heard the tell-tale signs of hissing, alerting him that they easily melted out of their binds. Out of breath as Midoriya continued to push him upward, higher into the air, he shivered. He was slowing down from the constant use of his ice, and he knew he was—the best he could do was to take random turns and hope that he could throw off Midoriya. 

"Even now, when you're being backed into a corner, you refuse to use it!" Midoriya called up to him. His voice was strained as it struggled to carry over the distance between the two. 

He felt a wave of defensiveness surge through him. "Shut up!" Todoroki snarled. He sent a wave of ice down at the boy with a swing of his hand. It was a futile attempt, and a wave of chains took the brunt of the attack. "What, did Endeavor set you up to this!? Is that it!?" 

If Midoriya wasn't pissed before, he definitely was now. Todoroki almost froze on the spot as a cold expression passed over his face; his eyes were chilly, without a single shred of warmth they usually held. 

Or maybe that was the fact that frost was almost covering his entire right side. 

"I couldn't give two shits about what your father wants!" Midoriya snapped back. His voice was definitely filled with more ire than before. 

Todoroki was about to reply, but the chains trailing him were starting to gain on him with his lack of attention toward them. He felt something graze his back, sending chills up his spine as the heat caused him to flinch. Cursing as he frantically moved abruptly to the side, his bridge curved with him as he almost (almost) made himself sick. The loop caused some gasps to erupt in the spectators, but they barely penetrated the white noise in his ears. 

And yet, the chains still continued to remain on his trail. 

Todoroki gritted his teeth as he arched his bridge upward. The chains had to have a limit to how long they could go, right? Or maybe it'd tire Midoriya out more. He was already at a ridiculous altitude, but maybe he could gain enough height that Midoriya would waste too much of his energy. If he went too high, it would be difficult to send his own attack back down, but it wasn't impossible. All he had to do was go higher—

Without warning, a streak of blue and green whizzed past him, and Todoroki stumbled and froze in his tracks as the person came to a stop in front of him. Crouched low to the ground, they dug their fingers into the bridge beneath them. They stabilized themselves before they stood up on the thin layer of ice, turning to face Todoroki. 

He grimaced as he came face-to-face with Midoriya. Chains wrapped around his shoulders and chest, presumably what carried him off the ground. "Would you just leave me alone about it!" Todoroki hissed. He slid his right foot backward, sending a huge blast that froze the chains sneaking up behind him. He didn't dare take his eyes off Midoriya, though. Not when he was in such a close range. Todoroki knew that that was the first mistake to make in a situation like this, one that would end him ungraciously defeated.  

"Leave you alone!?" Midoriya echoed. Todoroki couldn't help but notice the slight red that flushed his cheeks and the tip of his nose. His freckles were almost buried under the crimson, and his eyes were rimmed with pink, like he had been crying. He laughed hoarsely. "Right, that sounds like a grand idea! Let's just leave you to roil at your own mistakes," he said harshly. 

And Todoroki could see it—the pain swimming in those eyes, muffled by the extra layer his contacts provided. He didn't understand why he wore those green-tinted contacts, why his father had been so adamant that he wore them. His coppery-orange irises, pale and gentle, weren't filled with bright, glowing fire. Even now, with the red hot links surrounding him, curling around his arms and neck, they seemed almost dulled in comparison. 

And yet they still held that ache, as if he was staring at something he understood. As if he was staring at a mirror of himself. 

"I'm not making a mistake," Todoroki snapped. He was angry, pissed, even, but his words were bitter in his mouth. He didn't want to hurt the person in front of him. He didn't even understand why the boy was so pushy about this. He seemed so respectful of his boundaries, and yet here he was, trying to bash his way through them. "And you need to get that out of your head!" 

Attacking Midoriya straightforward was not a good idea, not at this height. But he couldn't very well escape backward, not with his only exit being blocked by the wave of chains behind him. And so, without waiting for Midoriya's response, Todoroki prayed that he wasn't making a stupid decision from his own lightheadedness and jumped off the side of the bridge. 

He heard the chains break free from his ice again as his stomach flew up to his throat. His heart beat loudly in his ears, drowning out any other sound other than the whistling of the wind. Hair whipping around his face, Todoroki felt his left side grow even colder as ice formed beneath his feet again. He heard Midoriya curse loudly from his perch as he slid back down to the ground safely. Adrenaline pounding through him, he brushed away the spiked surge of panic that had run through him, calming his nerves the best he possibly could. 

There was a small seed that remained though, no matter how hard he scraped and pulled away at it. It seemed to bloom and whither in time with his racing heart, mocking him with the voice of his own father. You're weak, it said. You're weak and pathetic and you're being cornered so easily, get up, get up, GET UP—

"So what!?" Midoriya shouted after him. The same chains that had been wrapped around his body slowly dropped him to the ground like a marionette. That's all his chains seemed to do, really—it controlled him, strung him around, made him out to be nothing more than a puppet while its puppeteer laughed and giggled. It made Todoroki wonder how much is he like me? How many times have I looked at him and seen someone with a bright smile, only for it to be all a lie? His landing was much more graceful than Todoroki's was. "That's it!? You're just going to throw it all away!?" 

Throw it all away. 

It's a part of you you'll never be able to escape, Shouto. You'll never be able to escape me

"What am I throwing away if I don't even need it in the first place!?" Todoroki replied as he raised his right arm. He winced as it struggled to make it all the way up—his muscles were so cold, he could barely bear through the pain as he moved them. Sharp aches wrought through his tendons, and he wanted desperately to thaw the pain that was building in them. 

Midoriya beat him to the punch, and with a swipe of his own arm, his chains swirled into formation. Clink, clink, clink repeated endlessly in Todoroki's brain. Shadowing a giant's hand, it grabbed a hold onto one of Todoroki's own bridges, its fingers wrapping tightly around the frozen surface. Thin cracks appeared along the impact, and Todoroki winced as a wave of glittering fragments poured down on him. With a pull that sent a loud groaning sound reverberating through the arena, a huge chunk of ice broke away and was slammed into the ground where Todoroki stood. 

Dust exploded up and outward from the attack, billowing close to the ground, and Midoriya held a hand over his mouth as he coughed. His eyes watered from the dust particles, and his throat itched terribly. His nose burned. More parts of the never-ending bridge shuddered before collapsing as well, no other support there to hold it up. A huge branch of them fell onto other parts of the structure, breaking it further, until the entire thing dropped to the floor, sending pieces of ice along the ground as the crack! made Midoriya's ears ring from the intense volume. 

"Ehhhh!?" Present Mic's voice was loud over the cheering of the spectators. Midoriya winced as it burned his ears further. He hadn't been paying attention to him this entire time, too focused on what was going on at hand. Maybe he could ask Uraraka what he had been saying throughout the battle."Was that the last attack to make Todoroki—" 

"You might want to take a better look." Todoroki's voice was loud and clear as he spoke. He didn't even sound intimidated, instead as calm as he always was. It almost made Midoriya jealous. He might have been good at hiding his pain, but fear was always an emotion he struggled to mask. And he knew that hiding fear was practically the number one common rule amongst heroes. So why was he so bad at—

You're not here to be a hero, dumbass. Get that out of your head. You're here to protect the class, nothing else. Stop daydreaming. 

Midoriya flinched as the dust cleared. The bridge was centimeters from the boy's head, but a thick layer of ice was starting to cover the twitching chained hand. He hadn't kept the heat up during his attack since he didn't want to melt the bridge, but of course Todoroki noticed that and would use it to his advantage. Midoriya licked his lips as his muscles trembled. It was getting hard to keep up the formation with the hand, and his stomach felt like it was being compressed, almost as if someone was putting a light pressure on it with their hand. 

A sudden spell of dizziness hit him, and he did his best to retain his balance without creating too much of a scene. The heat in his cheeks and head was starting to get unbearably hot, and he felt like any second would pass before he fainted. Of all the times he had to get sick, of course it had to be right before the Sports Festival. 

Todoroki huffed, his breath clear in front of him as he bent his knees. "You're looking a little feverish there, Midoriya." He tilted his head. "If I remember correctly, you weren't feeling well, were you?" 

Before Midoriya could respond, Todoroki shot toward him, arm pulled back and ready to deliver a punch. Midoriya froze at the familiar posture, and dark black skin and empty eyes and a deafening cry filled his ears as a memory flashed through his mind. His side suddenly flared up with unbearable phantom pain, like claws digging into his skin, and he barely snapped himself out of it in time to lean to the side. However, Todoroki's fist was covered in sharp spikes of ice, and Midoriya let out a noise of shock when they scraped into his cheek. 

It was a movement burned into him, repeated hundreds of times when he was a child and still learning how to fight. His opponents always aimed for the face, always, and it took too many black eyes and bruises and broken noses before he found his way out of a pummeling masked as a fair fight. And so, with a fierce retaliation, Midoriya opened his hand until the bottom of his palm jutted out, and he slammed it into the other boy's throat. As he choked on his own breath, he kneed him, hard, into his gut, until he was left wheezing and struggling to regain his breaths. 

So many times had Midoriya used that underhanded tactic, if you could call it that. But he more than appreciated it, because it took at least five seconds to get themselves back into control. Five precious seconds that could end a fight in an instant. 

But he wasn't aiming to end this fight. He wasn't even aiming to win it. 

Well... not everyone else's version of win, anyway. 

Midoriya skidded away to put some room between them. Panting heavily, Midoriya wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. His illness was starting to finally catch up with him, and he struggled not to cough as the dust in his throat continued to burn. He felt hot, from head-to-toe, and it clashed angrily with the chill that covered the entire area, clashed even more fiercely with the hot pockets of air left over from his first attacks. Todoroki turned back toward him, massaging his throat, eyes still faintly watering. 

"If you think a little sickness is going to stop me, then you have another thing coming," Midoriya replied, ignoring the pounding in his head and the heat in his cheeks. It was a lie, an obvious one, a cracking mask that wouldn't hold up much longer. How much longer was this going to go on for? 

Forever, and ever, and ever and ever and ever until we can convince him, and ever some more. 

The boy tsked. "You just won't give up, will you?" Another wave of ice formed underneath his foot, shooting toward him. If possible, the cold surrounding them got even worse, and Midoriya shivered, even as his body felt hot, hot, hot. 

Midoriya's eyes widened fractionally, but he brought his arms in front of his face as it flew toward him. He felt his stomach clench uncomfortably as another wave of chains rose up in front of him, swirling as it formed a protective barrier around his front half. The clinking was gentle and faint in the roaring of the incoming ice. Midoriya grunted as it slammed into his makeshift shield, putting an unbearable pressure on his muscles as they felt the backlash of the attack. Immediately, the movement of his chains paused as they were frozen solid. Even so, they refused to let any get through to the person behind their barrier. 

"You keep on saying that you want me to use my fire side," Todoroki growled, "and yet you can't even handle my right!" 

Midoriya clenched his jaw as the ice began to push him back. He did his best to dig his heels in, and the bottom of his feet stung as the rough ground blistered the skin. Todoroki's ice pushed him closer and closer to the line, and Midoriya instinctively formed a barrier of chains behind him. As he did, he noticed that the panel strapped to his back was hanging on precariously. There was no doubt that, if Todoroki aimed for it, he would be in severe trouble. 

He needed to get out of this trap. Now. 

He pressed his palms against the wall in front of him, and, against his better judgement, he let the heat of his palms transfer into the chains. Immediately, his vision swam, and he struggled not to puke as the progress the ice made slowed considerably. Steam rose from the other side, a hissing sound reaching his ears. The chains' texture were rough against his hands. 

(Heat Conductor was an interesting quirk. With it, his palms and the bottoms of his feet were practically immune to being burned, though the same couldn't be said for the top of his hands and feet. It was almost annoying, except Midoriya rarely ever turned up the heat on those parts of his skin. 

But what made the quirk really unique was its ability to control the heat's distribution. As long as heat was already in the object at hand, Midoriya was able to distribute and concentrate where and how hot the heat of an object would get. If he wanted to melt a circle into the wall, for example, like all the cliches in the universe, he could press his palm to the wall and concentrate the heat into his little circle. By creating enough heat until it went past the wall's melting point, the part of the wall in his circle would melt and create an opening. 

Ta da! It was honestly no surprise that Disaya had been one of Hisashi's favorites and stood by him, even if it was only a year before he messed up and was forced to give it up. Midoriya was sure that Disaya was an excellent addition to get them out of hairy situations. 

Too bad he was a creepy pedophile.) 

But the ice had not slowed enough, apparently, because Midoriya felt his back hit the chains behind him. His arms trembled as he struggled to keep the wall from crushing him, his muscles still sore and aching from a lack of rest. Midoriya felt bile rile up in his throat as he forced the other end of his barrier into the shape of a drill, just as he did before—back when Todoroki first froze him in that dang glacier. Feeling the metal heat up even more, he heard the ice begin to crack before it shattered again. 

Midoriya fell forward, gasping for breath. His lungs felt weak and shriveled up in his chest, too pathetic to correctly inhale and exhale properly. Ahead of him, his shield unraveled like a piece of cloth whose stray strings had been pulled. The strands shot back toward Todoroki, who dodged them clumsily. He was getting slower, though it wasn't really any improvement—they both were, and so they continued to remain evenly matched. 

Midoriya felt his throat burn again, and he turned before hacking into his elbow. Something stained the sleeve of his jacket, though he ignored it as he sprinted forward. Todoroki wasn't expecting him to recover from his attack so soon, something that had Midoriya both wincing and internally cheering. As he jumped in the air to avoid another attack from Midoriya's chains, he grabbed Todoroki by the meat of his forearm, slamming him into the ground. Todoroki coughed as the air was knocked out of his lungs. But it must have been a normal thing for him, to be out of breath, to be forced into the ground. And so he growled as he kicked upward with his right foot, and Midoriya's head snapped back as frost spread over his jaw. 

It hurt. Midoriya would have liked to say that it helped numb the pain from the cuts in his cheek, but all it seemed to do was aggravate it even more. And, if anything, it just brought his unwanted attention to it, the biting cold biting into his skin. 

Todoroki rolled back to his feet as Midoriya opened his mouth to speak. "You want to ignore using your fire," Midoriya said, "but what happens when you're a hero, huh?" Midoriya pressed the back of his hand to the side of his face, and he smelled iron in the air. If his hand came back tainted red, he didn't mention it. "What happens when there's a little boy who's crying for help, hoping to be saved!? What happens when your ice isn't enough!?" 

He saw it strike a cord with the other male. Perhaps it struck too close to home. It did for Midoriya. 

"Shut up," Todoroki muttered as another, thicker layer of ice began to coat his right side. A shadow fell over his eyes. 

The chains surrounding Midoriya flickered. He felt his frustration spike. He thought about himself, hiding in the small closet in Seiya's room. He thought about the pounding in his ears, the pain in his skull when Shigaraki grabbed a hold of him. He thought about the sadness welling up in his only friend's eyes when they reunited, his frown permanently etched into his face and over thirty different versions of the same event cycling through his head. 

He thought about the smaller version of himself, curled into a ball, delirious from lack of food and water as he was strapped to a chair, throat burning and dry and too, too tight. He thought about himself, curled into a ball, bawling his eyes out as blood coated his chest and hands and stomach and legs as he desperately held the stump of his left wrist to his chest, and there was so much blood, so much blood, and he wished so much that there was someone who could save him, someone who could save him, someone with enough power who could save him—

He didn't realize that his eyes were burning, that his scar was burning, that his hand was aching, aching, aching, aching. "When will you realize that people out there need you with your fire!?" People like me?

"How exactly... did you get your burn scar?" 

"My... burn scar? The one on my neck?"

"..."

"... It was just... an accident." 

"Shut up!" Todoroki repeated, though it was louder, and in pain, in so much pain

Another huge wave of ice leapt forward, fangs bared, ready to pounce on its next victim. Midoriya raised his arms to create another shield, but the wave crashed into it when it was only barely formed. He almost went flying into the air as he fought to keep his feet on the ground. He pressed his hands against his shield, his feet dragging back through the ground as he did everything he could to keep the ice back. 

"How many, Todoroki!?" he rasped behind his shield. His arms trembled something fierce. "How many pleas for help will you be unable to answer!? How many people have to die before you realize it!?" 

Without warning, his shield cracked, and he let out a choked gasp as he was slammed back into the wall he left behind him. He felt his body freeze against his chains, the metal cool against his back. He was inches away from being out of bounds, a distance too small for comfort. Midoriya tried to heat up his hands and feet at risk of being discovered, in too deep to care any longer. Freezing spikes circled his neck, and he struggled to breath as he twitched. Todoroki began to make his way up the ice that he formed.

Todoroki seemed to falter at the thought, though he soon continued his way toward his frozen form. "No one is going to die on my hands. And I don't know how many times I have to freeze you to get that through to you." 

Midoriya let out a short, weak laugh. "We'd be doing this forever, Todoroki." He hissed as spikes around his neck dug into his skin. His voice was raspy as he spoke, filled with quiet determination. "I'd do it again, and again, and again, and again, on and on for eternity, and you wouldn't be able to do anything to stop me." 

"You're a fool." Todoroki raised his right hand up to Midoriya's face. 

In a whip of action, the ice around one of Midoriya's arms cracked from the pathetic heat he was emitting, and he snapped his hand up to grab onto Todoroki's. It hurt, and he was shivering from the cold. His fingers felt too numb to move, and they ached in hunger for warmth. "A fool?" Midoriya echoed, his voice a low hiss. "The only fool here I see is you. What happens when the deaths of those you could have saved are hanging over your shoulders, all because you refused to use everything you had? Even now, when everyone else is trying their hardest, using one hundred percent to become a true hero, you're only half-assing it." 

It burned his tongue to say it. He didn't want to say anymore, because it hurt, it hurt, and he was no better than Todoroki was. How was he to berate Todoroki when he was no better? 

He was no better. 

Absolutely no better. 

Did that make him the bad guy?

... 

Was he the bad guy?

He narrowed his eyes as the chains behind him began to shudder. His grip on Todoroki's forearm tightened. And his tongue, it stung, and his words were like poison on his taste buds, and he hated it, hated it. "For someone who claims to want to be nothing like your father, you seem to radiate him perfectly." Todoroki froze, his eyes widening. Midoriya could see it, the pain, the horror, the utter agony of being compared to the man he hated the most. Being compared to the man who drove his wife into hurting him, who burned him, who hurt him. "Both of you—arrogant, looking down on others... pushing parts of yourselves away for what you believe is the better good." His fingers gripped Todoroki's muscle tightly, his nails digging into the skin uncomfortably. "How many lives will be cost because of your pettiness, huh?" 

Behind him, his chains vibrated as they heated up. Todoroki's hand started to form ice as he realized that Midoriya wasn't done, but he didn't have time to react before the ends of the metal links slammed into his stomach. 

Midoriya winced as he used his distraction to melt his way out of the glacier he was stuck in. He wasn't sure how much more his knees could take when he glanced over the edge, seeing the immense height that separated him from the ground. 

But he wasn't done. He still had more to say. He still had more to do. So, he sucked in a sharp breath before letting himself fall to the floor, his knees shooting sharp pains up and down his legs as he landed it. 

Ouch. That hurts like a truck. 

Midoriya winced as his freezing feet struggled to keep him up. He really shouldn't have gone barefoot, and yet he did, and he was seriously starting to regret it. He regretted a lot of things, now. He wished he noticed it sooner. Why didn't he notice any of these things sooner? How many years had he been studying these nineteen kids, wondering, pondering, hoping, never realizing?

By the time Midoriya focused back into the fight, Todoroki had already recovered, and he was staring him down. But the latter saw it in his eyes—the slight conflicting emotions that battled their way through. Midoriya took a deep breath as he forced his voice over normal volume. It hurt, it hurt so much, and he hadn't hurt like this in a long, long time. But he supposed that it could be worse, and that this hurting was worth it in the end, and so he ignored the pain and the ache and the tears and he screamed: 

"You fool!" He was starting to get incredibly light headed as his chains circled around his feet. "You don't want to be like your father? Well here's my response!" He bent his knees as he made sure he was as loud as he could possibly be. And it hurt, but that was okay, because heroes were born to hurt, and villains were bound to pain. "It's not his power! It's yours!" He swallowed thickly before the next words tore from his throat. "So what about that is so hard to understand?

"It's your power, isn't it!?" 

=====

It was so hypocritical, it almost made Midoriya want to cry. 

Almost. 

(Instead, his chest grew lighter as his own words rang in his ears. 

It was a little freeing, almost.

Almost.) 

=====

Midoriya remembered the way his chains wrapped around the nomu's chest, tugging, trapping, protecting. He remembered his gritted teeth, he remembered the burning in his hands as he struggled to keep his sweaty grip on his escrisma sticks. 

And then he remembered the nomu's hands, clenching those metal links, tighter, tighter, tighter...

And when they snapped, Midoriya remembered the way the world seemed to turn on its side, the way the bile instantly rose from his throat, the way iron gently graced his taste buds. 

And so when the burning light burst from Todoroki's left side, he could help but feel his stomach sink low, low, low, even as he smiled. 

Because there was one, teeny tiny problem. 

His chains' type of metal took after the source they originated from. And one of the problems with the panel strapped to his back was that it was a metal with a very, very low melting point. One that could barely take the heat that he sent through them before. 

And so, when Todoroki's flames shot toward him, and he sent his measly wall of chains up, the links began to melt. 

And he cried from the pain. It hurt so, so much. But that was okay. It was worth it.

It always was. 

=====

Maiko stood in front of All for One and his army of nomus. Surrounding them, dead bodies of their revolution littered the ground. Blood caked the floor. It stained the small group of flowers that sat not too far away. It stained Maiko's jacket and pants, and her arms too. Daizō wasn't covered in red, though only because Maiko had herself curled around him. 

"You're not going to win this battle, Father," she said. Her hazel eyes were dark and stormy. "Don't think that you will." 

The man in front of her was clearly angry. His voice was cold as he spoke. "So you're a traitor," he said. "Not only to your own people, but to me as well." 

Maiko worried her lip for a moment for speaking. "I'm not a traitor to anyone. I serve the good for humanity, and that only. Nothing else matters." 

All for One was quiet for a very, very long time. When he finally said something, his tone was as soft as it would ever be. Daizō had to strain his ears to hear him. "If that is what you truly believe, my daughter." 

If Daizō had been faster, then maybe he could have stopped it. 

Just maybe. 

But he wasn't, and so his eyes widened as All for One suddenly appeared in front of Maiko. And he felt all the air rush out of him as the dark blade appeared from the skin of his arm. And before he could say anything, before he could finish reaching his arm out toward her, the blade slid right through her stomach. There was a sound of breaking flesh and bones as the end appeared from out her back. 

Maiko made a small choking sound as she blinked. Her eyes were hazy as she breathed short gasps, and blood dripped out of the corner of her mouth, and with shaking hands, she raised them to rest on the blade peeking out from her abdomen. Red crawled up her stomach, up to her chest as it stained the floor. There were tears forming in her eyes as a pathetic, wobbly smile tilted her lips. 

"Damn you, Father," she whispered. She brought a bloody hand up to place it on his jaw. She let out a choked laugh, almost comparable to a sigh. "It was worth it, though. No matter what you say." And then her eyes trailed from his face, glancing over to where Daizō was crouching, a hand clamped tightly over his mouth and tears in his eyes. "It was worth it." 

All for One tutted before swiftly pulling the blade back out of her. She made a low grunt as the last of her support disappeared. She fell to the ground, a whine of pain making it past her lips, and she gasped desperately for breath as she held a hand over her side. Blood pooled around her, and some dripped from the tip of All for One's blade. 

He sighed. "I was really hoping you wouldn't say that." And then he raised his blade back up, and Maiko closed her eyes and laughed. 

"Do it, bastard." And then she closed her eyes, preparing for the pain. She'd been waiting her entire life for this moment. This was no surprise. 

And then the blade came swinging down, and Maiko clenched her eyes tighter, and the pain would come, any second now—

She heard a soft sob. It never came. And then she opened her eyes blearily, and there, standing in front of her was Daizō. There were tears running down his face, and his arms were raised over his head, and his eyes were clenched tight. She exhaled shakily as she stared at the blade that was mere inches from his face. 

"You fool," she whispered softly as she grabbed onto the small boy's arms. She pulled him back toward her, even as her side protested, and she wrapped him up in bloody arms. She swore that he'd never be harmed, not now. Not until he was older. And while she may have failed when they kidnapped him, she would never let it happen again. 

From the corner of her eye, she watched as All for One sighed. It was sad, as if he actually cared. Maybe he did. They were both his flesh and blood, daughter and grandson—and all that remained of their family. 

But this was All for One. And he did not spend eight hundred years of working on his empire for it all to go to waste. And so the blade, covered in Maiko's blood, shot upward again. And Maiko turned away so his back was toward him, because dying an honorable death was meaningless if it meant that Daizō would be hurt. And so she held a sobbing Daizō in her arms. She was lightheaded, and she felt like any second she would pass out, and her body trembled as she lost more and more blood. 

But that didn't matter. It never did. And she placed her cheek against the top of Daizō's head, let a small tear escape her eye, and smiled. 

"You little, little fool," she whispered. And she felt Daizō hiccup, and then the pain struck. Eyes closing, she heard Daizō shriek in pain. Not physical pain, perhaps, but the ones filled in sadness. 

And then, she felt a sudden twisting in her stomach, a fierce one, and then her arms felt so, so empty. 

He did it. 

She hit the floor, alone, bloodied, and cold. 

=====

"Holy shit is he okay—" 

"Oh my god, is he even breathing!?" 

"Move out of the way—" 

"—happened at USJ, didn't it?" 

"Recovery Girl's coming—!" 

=====

When Midoriya woke up, he felt numb. He felt bandages, wrapped tightly around his arms and legs and chest and head. There was a cotton ball taped to his cheek. They were almost constricting, almost, but they were expertly tied so they gave him enough breathing room and didn't cut his circulation off. 

There was pain there. It was hovering around him, but not quite where it should be. It was dulled, perhaps a mixture of medication and something else. There was an IV in his arm, and a heart monitor off to the side. However, his face was bare of an oxygen mask—a lucky thing, really. 

He glanced over to his side to see someone sitting there. White and red hair were burned into his brain, and he blinked lethargically. 

He huffed softly before pushing himself slightly upward. Almost immediately, Todoroki's head snapped toward him, and he leapt from his seat. Midoriya felt his chest warm as the boy helped him into a sitting position, his eyes taking on a whole new light from before their battle. 

"I'm sorry," Todoroki confessed as they made themselves comfortable. 

A rush of deja vu overcame Midoriya as he smiled. He placed his hand on top of the other boy's. "You fool," he said fondly. 

It was enough of an answer for the both of them. 

=====

It took a bit for Midoriya to finally get out of bed. Apparently, he didn't miss much—Todoroki and him had effectively ruined the arena, and it took over an hour and a half to repair all the damage. 

Asui and Tokoyami's battle took place after that. 

Uraraka's voice was hoarse after their battle. It took ages to finish. While it wasn't as glamorous as Todoroki and Midoriya's was, it was still incredibly long. It took twenty-five minutes—which was almost twice, maybe three or four times as long as all the other ones. While Kaminari's was the shortest, probably not lasting more than a minute, everyone else's were around five to ten. Shiozaki's was long because Hatsume went on and on and on about her "babies," but it still didn't go on for longer than fifteen minutes. 

And yet, the two of them, both powerful forces to reckon with, went at one another until they were covered in dust and dirt. Over and over again, when one would get close to the line, the audience would cheer their brains out, screaming until they lost their voices—only for them to save themselves and get away from the out of bounds. 

It was only due to a misplaced jump that Asui lost. Her plan was brilliant, and she was going to get high enough so Tokoyami couldn't reach her, but Dark Shadow was one step ahead. He slammed into her while she was in midair, even as she tried to protect herself with her tongue, and she went flying out of bounds. 

There were just as many groans as cheers. But the crowd was definitely impressed with the both of them. As Asui said when she arrived back, "While I may have lost, I tried and did my best; that's all I could ask for today." 

Uraraka was still in tears, but Asui's smile eased her disappointment. 

Shouji and Jirou were after. It wasn't as fierce as the other two battles, but you could see the emotion in both of their eyes. Shouji was powerful, and Jirou—though she was the eventual victor—didn't come out without bruises. Shouji could bear through immense pain, and his strikes were both effective and dangerously strong. 

Midoriya knew first-hand from their heroes vs. villains exercise. As he watched from the television from inside the hospital room, he couldn't help but wince every time the large male landed an attack on her. 

But even so, Jirou wasn't weak, and her sound quirk was an utter bitch to Shouji as well. He was bleeding from the ears, and he had scratches all over him from the ends of her jacks by the time she managed to get him out of bounds. In fact, she used he length of her jacks to push him by the shoulders backward as she sent wave after wave of high-pitched wails from the speakers at her ankles. 

By that time, after a very long lecture from Recovery Girl, he was given the okay to step out. He managed to catch Shouji as he walked through the halls. He gave him a smile and a pat on the arm when the boy noticed he was there. 

"You were great out there, Shouji. Jirou's a strong opponent, and you did well against her." 

Shouji's eyes were wide as he stared at him. He nodded, though he still seemed a little out of it. "Just... as a warning," he said, "be careful with your classmates. They might still be shocked from your display of power, and I wouldn't put it past them if they tried to shake the answers out of you." 

Midoriya's eye twitched. "Oh. Thanks for warning me." 

Shouji nodded before patting his head. "Hope you feel better. You took a huge hit." He turned away, heading toward the stands reserved for their class. Midoriya watched him go. 

Tokoyami would help reassure him, yeah? Yeah. 

Midoriya made sure to go down to the waiting rooms for the next match, however. As he opened one of them, he looked inside to see that Yaoyorozu was staring up at the ceiling, breathing carefully. Her head snapped toward him, and her eyes widened. 

"Hey, Yaochan," he started slowly. "I know I'm not in the best condition, but I wanted to give you a hug and some good luck."

She stared at him for another second before her eyes began to water. Midoriya smiled at her as he let the door close behind him. He hobbled over to the empty chair beside her. He grunted as he sat down, a sharp, brief pain searing through him before it was gone. 

"Are you okay?" he asked quietly. 

Yaoyorozu wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I-I guess so. Not really. Kind of." 

Midoriya took her hands into his own, settling them between the two of them. His knees brushed against hers as he rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand. "You're going to do fine," he reassured. "Don't worry about how you're going to do." He thought about that morning, when he too was nervous. When Kayama had reassured him. "No matter how it turns out, you'll still make all of us proud, you know that?" 

Yaoyorozu finally smiled, though it was weak as she took in a shaky breath. She nodded. "Y-yeah, I know that..." She looked down at their hands, and she squeezed his gently. "I just... don't want to disappoint myself." 

Midoriya sent her a squeeze back. "You won't. I know you won't." He smiled brightly at her. "Now, can you repeat after me?" 

Yaoyorozu blinked, surprised, but she nodded. "Yeah...?" 

Midoriya was really hoping that this was going to work, because the corner of Yaoyorozu's eyes were still wet with tears, and he did not want to mess this up. "Okay. Repeat after me: I'm going to beat Sero into the ground." 

"I-I'm going to beat- wait, what?" 

=====

"Wow," Uraraka commented later. "Yaoyorozu really beat Sero into the ground, huh?" 

Asui nodded sagely beside her. Iida was chopping his hands through the air. "I've never seen that kind of fierce fire in her eyes before! To think that Sero, even with the amount of opposition he put forth, was still beaten so ruthlessly..." 

Jirou was vibrating excitedly beside Asui. "Oh yeah! Now she's gotten me all fired up too!" 

Kaminari was punching the air. "She was like, 'bam!' and 'shapow!' and 'fuck you!'" 

Ashido snorted from beside him, obviously not expecting the last one. She held a hand over her mouth as she tried to stop her giggling. 

Kirishima rubbed the back of his head. "True, but I feel kinda bad for Sero, you know?" He glanced away. "He tried so hard..." 

Asui, as always, was blunt and almost harsh. "We all tried our hardest, ribbit. No offense to Sero, but his best just wasn't enough." She turned her head so she was looking back at Kirishima. "Even you did your best, you know. I don't know why you and Aoyama think otherwise." There was a moment of tense silence before she shrugged at Kirishima's wide-eyed expression. "But I suppose we all have our own reasons for doing what we do." 

Everyone went silent after she finished speaking, even though some of the tension went away. It was broken by footsteps coming closer. No one really paid too much mind to them, until—

"Midoriya!?" 

Everyone's heads snapped toward the green-headed boy, who was hobbling along like an old person. He was covered in bandages, and he squinted at Kaminari, who called out his name. 

"Why am I getting the feeling like everyone's about to burst?" 

"Dude, how the heck did you make that chained beast thingy?" 

"Since when could you make them super hot!?" 

"HoW lONg HaVE yOU BeEn aBLe tO Do tHAt?" 

Midoriya proceeded to stare at them with twitching eyes before turning on his heel. He walked down until he was in the first row, and he plopped himself onto Iida. 

"You're comfortable and warm," he answered immediately before the boy could say anything. "Plus, you're the only one who can protect me from these fricken hornets." 

"Are you calling us bees!?"

"Kaminari, he literally just said hornets, not bees." 

"Does it really make any difference!?" 

Iida scolded them, hands chopping the air as he told them off. There was another moment of quiet, though it was calm. And then—

"What a mad banquet of darkness." 

"Tokoyami." 

"Dude, you've officially betrayed us." 

=====

Midoriya was incredibly thirsty. Which was probably reasonable, seeing how he hadn't actually had anything to drink since his fight. So he soon excused himself, only to find himself in front of the vending machine. As he waited for his bottle of whatever juice he picked (he really shouldn't have just pressed a random button), he looked down each hallway for some kind of TV. 

Bakugo and Uraraka were going to battle. He had hugged her tightly, only to be found by Yaoyorozu and Iida. And when those two saw the situation, they all formed a group hug. 

Uraraka had given them all high-fives before they left, and a good luck to them that they'd move onto the next round. She looked sheepish when she remembered Midoriya, who had already lost to Todoroki. 

"It's fine," he had said. "I've already counted that fight as a win, anyway." Even if he went down in the first round, he was still happy. He'd obviously left his mark, and even if he didn't get very far in the tournament, he at least got Todoroki to use his fire. It could have gone much worse, all things considered. 

Well, it did go worse. About three times, actually. Or four. Or eight. 

Okay, leave him alone, he sucked when it came to words and getting his point across. And he timed trying to speak wrong so many times, he ended up having ice shoved down his throat. Sue him for having to go back because his pathetic being couldn't form a reasonable argument to snap Todoroki out of it. 

Uraraka and the other two seemed caught off-guard, though he was pleasantly surprised when understanding passed through their gazes. "Yeah, you sure did change Todoroki for the better," Yaoyorozu said. "I've known Todoroki for years, and I have never really seen him go full out like that." 

Midoriya snapped out of it as a bottle slammed to the bottom of the vending machine. He didn't even flinch that time. Midoriya crouched, groaning as his muscles burned. He wondered if this was how Yagi felt twenty-four-seven as he reached his hand into the flap. He pulled the drink out to see that he had paid for apple juice. 

He shrugged. It wasn't that bad. Could have been worse. 

As he twisted the cap on the bottle, he mentally crossed his fingers. He hoped that Uraraka would do well. She had been working very hard, just as Aoyama said, though Bakugo was fierce. He was probably one of the best in the class, rivaled only by Todoroki. 

He sighed before bringing the bottle to his lips. He leaned his head back, and the taste of apples and sugar hit his tongue. 

Even if Uraraka lost, though, Bakugo would be facing Yaoyorozu next. And there was no doubt that Yaoyorozu would be raining hellfire on him if it happened. 

It was when he was walking back to his seat in the stands that he paused yet again. 

H̶e̴ ̷b̵l̶i̷n̶k̸e̸d̵ ̸a̸s̵ ̷h̵e̶ ̴r̷e̷c̴o̷g̶n̶i̸z̴e̶d̸ ̶t̸h̸e̷ ̸f̸a̷m̵i̷l̵i̵a̶r̸ ̷g̸a̵n̷g̴l̵i̵n̸g̶ ̴f̵o̵r̵m̷ ̸o̵f̵ ̶Y̴a̷g̴i̴.̶ ̸T̸h̶e̷ ̷m̴a̵n̷ ̸g̸l̸a̸n̸c̴e̶d̵ ̵h̷i̶s̶ ̴d̵i̶r̶e̵c̸t̶i̷o̸n̵ ̴a̴n̸d̴ ̵h̶a̶d̵ ̴a̵ ̵d̴o̸u̷b̵l̶e̴-̵t̴a̶k̷e̶.̸ ̴

"̸̗͛Ơ̸͍h̶̲̔,̶̻̃ ̴̣̉y̸̤͒o̷͋ͅu̴͔̒n̶̲̂g̴̨͠ ̴̖͂M̶̫̒ī̴͕ḍ̶͐ô̷̺r̵̼͗i̵̛̦y̶̧̌ả̷̗!̷̻̄"̶̭͐ ̷͕͋ḥ̴̂ẹ̶͑ ̵͇̎ś̷̡a̴̟͐ī̷̫d̷̳̾.̸̧͗ ̶͙"̶̛̞J̴͔̈u̵̲̅s̵͇͊ť̶̰ ̴̈́ͅt̷̡̿h̸̺͒e̴̠̓ ̷̖̈́p̵͕̾e̶̛̱r̷͓̈́s̷̩̽ǫ̶̏n̷̼̈́ ̷̰̕I̶̢͊'̵̜͐d̸̟̅ ̶͂ͅw̵̠̍ā̷ͅǹ̵͈t̴̻̋e̸̠̚d̴̤̕ ̸͔̄t̵̫̔o̸͂ͅ ̶͎̓s̵̙͛p̵̲͌e̷̻͘a̴̯̕k̴͚ ̶̩͝w̶̘͂i̴̥̅t̶͆͜ĥ̴̻!̷̲̓"̵̜́ ̴̥̌

M̸͇̟͐̈́̍͋i̵͉̤̲̬͗̕͠d̵̰͐͂̾o̶͙͖͋̈́̂ȓ̶͓̞̞͒̊̏ȉ̵̖̖̐̂ẙ̸̥͊͆ā̷͎͊̔̍'̷̨̝͠s̶̛̗͈̰̥̄͝͝ ̷̝̥̩̎ě̵͎̦͓̼̇̕ÿ̴̧̬́̅̈́e̵̟͋͝b̸̛̠̭̏r̸̢̦͕͎̈́o̷̥̎̈́͛w̴̗̹͔̳̋s̶̨̻͖͋̑͊ ̵͖͙̼͋̀̋̽ͅŗ̵̞͙͍̀̀͒̅å̶͙͖̀̔ī̷͙̜s̶̨̱̣̥̅͋͂̌e̵̱͋d̴̖̬̙̭͗͂.̶̘̥̑̆ ̷̧̬͔̎͋̕"̷̳̖̔͒͊͘Ţ̵̡̭͊̾̂͠ā̷͖̓͘l̴̞̒k̶̲͈͐ ̴̥̑́̍w̵̢̤̩͊̈́ȉ̶̼̫͚t̷͍͚̪̹͛̌̃͝h̶͈̪͚̎͜ ̶̯̈́͠m̷̼̗̮̂ę̴̙̥̓͘̕?̵̨̥̤͓͐ ̸̼̆̌̚Ḫ̵͉̩͖̿̄o̸̗̾w̸̤̤̙̿ ̷̬̍͌ĉ̸̛̫̃͂o̸̤̿̆͗͜m̴̩͔̐̊ę̶͚͑̔?̶̧̑"̸̧̤̤̠̿̈ ̴̨̧̠̈̽͝

Y̴̤̺͕͖̔̍̄̾ä̶͉͉́̅̀̏̔̕g̷̖̰̰͍̘̖͔͎͍̓̏i̸͈̳͋͆͝ ̶̨̜̭̹̩̠̓͗̎͜͜ș̸͓̗̤͒̌̄̄̄m̷̨̲̗͈̟̼̽̓̊i̸̧̛͙̖̪͒͊͝l̴̪͗̈́̕͝ȩ̷̛͙͇̹d̵̙̱͕̞̱͓̉̾̿͋̀̿ ̸̨̡̡̢̖͈̳̪̟̿̑̎͒̌̏a̸̩̟̓̀̑̍̐͗ẅ̴̢̝̣̯̜̞̞̠̑͛̓̈́͘̕̚͜k̵̯͙̬̫͐̅̅̋̌͘ͅw̶̗̻̣͕̜̯̠̦̝̋̉͛̐̌̔́̓̽a̶̧̼͎̘̗̒͐r̶͔̮͍̬̎̃̒͠d̴͙̆̎̃͠l̷̞̣̼̭̰͒̔̒͘͝ý̶̨͙̻͂̌̎ ̸͖͍̼͈̹̜̈́a̸̠͖̭͕̞̩̯̠͂͂̃͂̈́͘ş̶̢͈̒̃̄͋̆ ̶̗̔ḩ̵̪̦̪̿̈́͝͠e̴̤̰͆͝͝ ̷̧̡̛̥̫͉̙̤̝̭r̴̡̡̲̹̎͋͝u̸̡̡̙̰̠͍͕̜̍b̸̭̺̺̮̽̽̕͝ͅb̸̧̢͙̪̣̻̬͉͑̓͠ȩ̴̪̳͈̈́̽͜͝d̶̡̞̱̝̗͚̝̮̈̈͂͋̄̓̓̕ ̸̫͇̩̼̑͌͆̑͐ţ̵̠̬̙͕̳̾̓h̵̦̮̥̠̺̥͗̓̈́͐ͅe̶̡̘̱͖̽̈́̎ ̷̢̗̩̯̾̑͠b̵̢͙̺̦͍̔̊̌̈́͜a̷̢̧̛̘̔ͅc̵̖̭̯̲̊͂̌͆ḳ̸̨͇͕͍͙̘̮͆͝ ̸̧́̆͊͋̾͌o̶̡̢̰̤̟͓̅̐̔̄͠͝f̶̡̖̖̜̫̗͍̾͗͗͂̍̅͘ ̷̢̛̘̺̦͚̏̎̑́̑͝h̶̹̣͖̭͇̬̻͕͊̈́͂̆͑̈́͜i̷̢͉̻͓̟̺͂ṡ̴̢͖̞̹͉̬̖͊́͘̕̚͝ ̶̛̙͙̇̉̽̈́͒̒̕h̷͓̳̭͋̏ę̶̙̃͒̈̍̽̏a̵̢̠̞̹̪̬̲̯͛̃̓̒̾̕͠d̷̢͙͍̱̮̟̞̐̈.̸̯̲͌̇͌ ̶͇̎̐"̵̯́͆̿̈́̉̓̚W̶̢̛̰̣̰̻̠̽͑͝e̷͎͑͌̃͐͑̎͛l̸̛̛̲͚̯̫̪̺̲̦̅͒͐͝͝l̸̞͇̂͗̐͂̓̑͌͠,̴̭̜͕̯͗̃̉͊ ̸̧̨̹͚̜̘̓̾̒̑̑͘ş̴̖͙͓̥̓̐e̶̪̳̅͆̐e̴̢̺̻̖̤̦̝͙̒̊̈́͑̚̕,̶̭̩̰̭̳͎̭̄̌̽͘ ̸̥̤̝̰̥̼͈͍͕͂̈̔̈́͛̄Ȋ̴̧͙̮̘̞̫̣̘ ̷̼̫̩̄̎͌̈́̈́͗͜ͅͅw̷̻̭͊̌͂͗̚̕͘̚͝a̸̘̘̹̫̙̫̱͋̉̑n̷̢̗̱̂̈́͊̒͆̿̕t̵̗̭͖͔̣̲̤̘̙̍̉͌͂͘e̴̪̪̋̇͂̽̈̕d̴̲̠̰̹͇̣͎̋͜͠ ̸͔̜̹̀̿͗̓͠͝ţ̷̢̳̦̰̯̙̥̍̈́͝o̴͓̺̟̪̥͠ ̶̡̥̉̍t̵̩̑͘͝a̷̯̱͖̳̯̬̲̽̓̌̒̆̽͝͝l̷̰̰̺̥̱͔̻͛̔̀͜͜k̷̻͉̯̯̻͍͉̇͜͠ ̷̟̬̰̚ẗ̸̳̞̹̘̜͕̅̓̎͆̿̋͜͝ọ̴̬̹̫̒̐̇̆͗͛̚ ̸̹̭̖̫͚̓͊͆̓͒̋͘̚y̶̢͔̖̹̙͍͔̓͛ỏ̸̢̨̰͎̳̳u̴̧͈͋̏ ̸̳̮̰̫̄̈̋̕a̵̡̪̫̍̈́͐̋̾b̷͇̬͍̺̝̟̼͆̊̓̄o̸̪̫̭̎͂ũ̸̥̖̬̼̺̦̰t̵̨͇͈̲͇͍̦̠̗̆͑̒̀̒͒̈́ ̸͈̰̰͔͚̠͈̙̇̓̀̈́̔̋̆̇m̴͈̈́͛͑͊̇̂̔͋ÿ̷͇̪̠̹́͋͗̈́͐̎ ̷͈͇͆͂̚q̸̹̦̇͒͛̕ũ̴̖̾́̕̕i̸̛̩̫͇̻̗̜͒̉̐̚͝r̷̢͑͒̒̽̐̾͝k̷̢͉̣̟͛́̀̾̅̃͒͝͝ͅ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"IF ANYONE HEARS THIS, WE NEED YOUR HELP. WE HAVE A CODE YELLOW —I  REPEAT, WE HAVE A CODE YELLOW.  THIS IS KIMOTO DAIZŌ SPEAKING, FROM ALPHA SQUAD NINETEEN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TIME TRAVEL REGULATION, ACTIVE DUTY. CURRENT TIME FRAME WILL BE ATTACHED IN THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE."

"THIS IS ASAGIRI MAIKO SPEAKING, ALSO FROM ALPHA SQUAD NINETEEN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TIME TRAVEL REGULATION, ACTIVE DUTY. OUR READINGS SAY THAT OVER TWO HUNDRED UNITS HAVE BROKEN THE UNIVERSAL STRING. THEY ORIGINATE FROM THE TWENTY-EIGHTH CENTURY. THEY ARE CURRENTLY RENDEZVOUSING AT TOKYO. WE NEED ALL NEARBY ALPHA AND BETA SQUADS IN ACTION, NOW."

"MAIKO AND I ARE INITIATING CONTAINMENT POLICIES. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT LET THEM GET TO MIDORIYA IZUKU!"

"WAIT, DAIZŌ... WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"

"WHAT THE-  SHIT—!"

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"THIS IS TODOROKI TOUYA SPEAKING, BETA SQUAD ELEVEN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TIME TRAVEL REGULATION, RESERVE DUTY. YOUR MESSAGE HAS BEEN RECEIVED.  BACK UP IS ON THE WAY.

"AND DON'T YOU DARE DIE ON ME, YOU LITTLE BRAT." 

Chapter Text

"WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT GET SEEN." 

=====

There was a faint humming in the background as she listened to the beeping of the machines. It was a dark room, and it was almost as if everything had been placed under a dark film. If she didn't know better, she would have thought that she was wearing her shades, except they were placed on top of her head, not along the bridge of her nose. The only source of light was from the computer, which sat upon a polished wooden desk. 

There was a moment of silence as no one spoke. There were only four of them here—her, the doctor, the mist villain, and the one behind it all. 

She couldn't help but smile as she looked at him. She had admired the man for years, and finally, finally, she was getting to meet him. 

The man in the chair wasn't looking back at her, though. Instead, he continued to stare in his eyeless gaze back at his computer. "And who might you be?" he finally asked, his voice muffled behind the oxygen mask wrapped tightly around his face. 

The woman clasped her hands behind her back as she pushed herself up from where she had been leaning, using only her back muscles to do so. She almost squinted as rays of artificial light from the computer hit part of her face. "Just a stranger." 

The man hummed. "And yet you know who I am." 

"Everyone knows who you are in my time," she answered. She felt her heart flutter when he tilted his head, acknowledging the choice of her words. 

"In your time?" the doctor in the back echoed. "Are you alluding to the fact that you're not of this time?" 

The woman couldn't help but want to bounce on the balls of her feet. Oh, how heart racing this was! "That is what I'm alluding to, yes." 

"And why are you here?" All for One asked. 

Her smile fell as she sighed. "Well, that is the billion yen question..." She felt her shoulders drop as her excitement faded. "It's quite a long story."

"I'm listening," All for One provided. 

She sighed again before straightening herself. "All right then. At the beginning, yes?" She took a deep breath. "Around two hundred different units—we call things or people that travel back that—have traveled back through time to your present. I'm one of those two hundred. We came from the twenty-eighth century, breaking our universal strings in the process in order to give you a warning." 

"Universal strings?" the doctor questioned. 

The woman rubbed the back of her head before nodding. "Yes, the universal strings. We call them that because those are what span our lives. If we go back to a time where we haven't existed yet, then we break our so-called strings." She held a hand up as the doctor opened his mouth to speak. "I'll explain everything. Just give me a moment." Taking in a deep breath, she steeled herself before speaking again. 

"Breaking your universal string is viewed as dangerous. Usually, time travelers aren't allowed to do it, because it causes further complications down the road." She cleared her throat. "But first, you'll have to get an image of what our time model is." She placed her hands on top of one another, palm pressing against the other. "We view time as a layered wave in empty space. Other strings of time fill up that empty space, which are alternate realities, but that's not what we're really focusing on. They run parallel to our timeline." She tried to hide her smile as she noticed how intently All for One was watching. 

"When you break your universal string, it sends out a wavelength, or what we refer to as the Echo. This Echo will shoot out from your wavelength, which is your time." The doctor was starting to take notes. She wanted to slap him. "These Echoes aren't uncommon, but they're unstable. When these Echoes shoot out, they go on and on and on, for eternity—unless they hit something in our "empty space," usually another alter reality, or those parallel strings. This causes a small glitch in that reality, and it's also what causes things such as deja vu and other unrealistic things." She licked her lips. "When the Echo hits these obstacles, it ends up bouncing back toward our wavelength, our time. This doesn't really do much on its own, and Echoes are constantly being pushed out from our wavelength and returning." 

She could tell that the Doctor was starting to wonder why she was telling them these things when they weren't that important. She was ready to throttle him. "However, when these Echoes collide, they create a Wave—a disturbance. Too many Waves at once nearby our time model will cause our wavelength to shift. Eventually, with enough Echoes colliding and enough Waves being created in one central area—" She tilted her joined hands from side to side. "—our wavelength separates into different layers." She separated her hands until they were parallel to one another. "At first, nothing really happens. However, things begin to drift, and some things fall between your layers into nonexistence. Then, your layers collide back together, forming an almost-replica of the timeline, or wavelength, you had before." 

"Almost?" All for One mused. "I'm assuming there's differences." 

The woman tilted her head. "But of course." She sighed as she let her hands fall back to her sides. "For example, you, All for One, might have been killed by All Might all those years ago." She placed her hands on her hips. "Or, perhaps, All Might could have died." She shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe Midoriya Izuku was born quirkless and managed to get into U.A. by receiving One for All. There's no endings to the possibilities." 

All for One tilted her head, a sign to urge her to continue. 

She couldn't help but look away from his face. It was horrific to look at. "But back to the situation at hand. Me and my team have come back in order to create a new world where we aren't restricted in our own bubbles." She tried not to let her frustration seep into her voice as she continued to speak. "With the start of time travelers, rules began to be put into place by what we call the Society of Time. The society is a... platform, I suppose, where time travelers all form together. More or less, they prevent time travelers from growing corrupt, or from stepping too far out of their bounds. As an example, they keep time travelers from aiming for certain controversial events to try and change the result. If we were allowed, someone would go back and try to alter the event because they didn't like what happened, while another group of people would go back to stop that someone because they did like what happened, and then another group would try and prevent the previous group, until so many people were fighting over something so trivial that our wavelength collapsed and time itself ceased to exist."  

The doctor gulped. She was finally happy to be getting her point across. 

"Unfortunately, the Society of Time is ruled by people who want to do nothing more than the bare minimum. Even with the amount of power at their call and beckoning, they want nothing to do with spheres of power of influence." She could tell that a bit of her bitterness was showing through, though she ignored it. "They have so many people from so many different times that make it up, and yet they all spout the same bullshit. Hell, they have about seven or eight different departments dedicated just to making sure that time remains exactly the same." 

"And you want me to make a new kind of society," All for One guessed. 

"Yes, that's exactly what we want," she said. "And we can do it if you can prevail in the upcoming battles." 

"I see," All for One said. "But tell me this: why did you go through so much trouble to launch an attack with over two hundred people if you're just telling me this? Why waste so much energy?"

She rolled her eyes as she sighed. "That's the thing—we're not wasting energy." She rubbed the bridge of her nose as she tried to ease the oncoming headache. "The Society of Time is still powerful, no matter how little they contribute to the actual flow of the timeline. We needed to launch exactly that many units here just so I could relay this to you without being detected. If they found out that I was telling you this..." 

"But why?" All for One prodded. "Why not change it yourself?" 

At this, the woman flinched. "We're going to have to use another model." 

"Go ahead," All for One said. 

She pursed her lips but nodded. "The reason why we can't do anything ourselves is because this period of time is incredibly... sensitive, you could say. Or maybe even delicate." She frowned as she crossed her arms. "Say that our timeline is a tree. The trunk would be around this time era, while everything before it are the roots. The time that passes after this are the branches." She hesitated before speaking again. "This time period cannot be directly interfered with, except for a few small cases. Kimoto Daizō, for example." She knew her voice was filled with distaste, but she couldn't help it. "He's known to be exceptional with these kinds of time manipulation, where you have to be careful with every movement you make. At the moment, he's traveled back to this time period to look over Midoriya Izuku and protect him from any time travelers going back to try and attack him. Which I'll get back to later, don't worry." 

She was about to wave off the mist villain, but he was already speaking before she could decide. 

"Perhaps you're speaking of the same Midoriya Izuku I'm thinking about? The one in U.A.?" he asked. 

She waved her hand. "Yeah, yeah, that's him, but back to the point at hand." She cleared her throat again. "While a few changes to the timeline can be made, they're only done by talented people because, like I said, this time period is delicate. Any time after this doesn't matter. It's like cutting off tree branches, you're not actually hurting the tree that much. But cut down the tree trunk, and the roots will die. That's why we can't interfere directly with people. No touching, no breaking, and no hurting. Those are the rules. I can give you advice, though... hopefully. I'm assuming so, since the world hasn't crashed yet." 

"Can the roots not be targeted?" All for One asked, curious. "Can you not go back farther than this time period?" 

"It's incredibly unstable," she replied. "I can't answer that question, though. No one has the guts to go back, and the only one that tried was torn apart by the seams." She shrugged. "There's rumors that Midoriya was able to recreate scenes from the past in his sleep, but that's nor here nor there." 

And that got All for One's attention, even more than anything else. "Say that again?" 

She smiled. "I'll say it exactly like that in a second, right after I explain everything else." She didn't care that everyone else in the room flinched, almost as if they were expecting her to be killed on the spot. "To explain why our "trunk" is like this, or why this time period is so sensitive, we first need to understand where Midoriya Izuku came from. And though we don't know his real name, we found out that he was related to you, All for One, and most likely either your grandson or great-grandson. He's from the future, around my time, actually. He's gone back to defeat you." 

She brought up her hologram as she searched for a picture of him. They were everywhere, to be fair. "He's what we nicknamed the First Universal Breaker. And because of the fact that he was the first to really change and alter time in a way that never before happened, he created a sphere, a little bubble where his dramatic shifts had taken place. And, like I said, if any of us try to make any changes to what already happened in this bubble, it'll strike back tenfold." When she found a reasonable picture of him, she turned it toward the four of them. Even though All for One couldn't see, she still found it rude to not let it hover nearby. 

"Interesting," All for One murmured. "And why, exactly, are you alerting me of this in the first place, past your own interests?" 

The woman took in a deep breath before unfolding her arms. "Because you lost." 

A tense silence followed her words. She tried not to wince as she continued. 

"What happened that night, in our timeline... Midoriya beat you. Maiko, your daughter, traveled back in time just before your fight. She and him both fought against you, alongside All Might..." She swallowed thickly. "And you lost." 

All for One hummed. "I see." Another moment of quiet. "And so you created a distraction, one that would challenge the Society of Time, and yet would not directly interfere with our delicate sphere... and you came to warn me. So I could defeat Midoriya and... Maiko, as you said. Because you want a better society. Because you want more control." 

"That is what we all want, sir," she said. She loosely threaded her fingers together. "If you could come up with a plan that could change the course of history, none of the other time travelers from the society of time would be able to change what will happen. Other than Maiko and Midoriya, the only ones who might be able to are Kimoto and the Ghost." 

"Tell me about them," All for One suddenly demanded. 

She blinked but nodded. "Kimoto Daizō is one of the most powerful figures and members of our society. He's who people turn to when they have a problem, even with how young he is." She pursed her lips. "We aren't sure where he came from, or what his background even is. We do believe that, while Midoriya was in U.A., he also took the role of a student, though we can't be for sure if he did or which student he was. All we know is that he had some relationship with Midoriya, the two are the same age, and he went back in time when he was seventeen to make sure that no one would attack the boy. If I remember correctly, currently Kimoto is still protecting Midoriya at this moment. While Midoriya was and is the figurehead of our society, after he left, Kimoto was the one that prevailed with his ideas and morals. When people wonder what Midoriya would have wanted, they turn to Kimoto." She hesitated. "He's talented, but I don't think even he could step into the battle if he wanted to." 

All for One nodded. "And the Ghost?" 

At this, the woman froze. She seemed to pale. "The Ghost..." She faltered. "We aren't really sure how he was created," she started slowly. She raised her hands out, palms up as she began to continue her story. "He used to be one of your followers, though we don't know who. All we know is that, when history was being erased after your downfall and being recreated—you had originally taken over the world without Midoriya's interference—something... happened. A shift, like a plate under the earth's crust, for example. Or maybe a Wave or an Echo that hadn't appeared until the wrong time at the wrong place..." Her fists clenched. 

"All we know is that something happened to him, and he doesn't obey the laws of time. Nothing works on him like it would on others, and he never suffers from the repercussions of his time manipulation. And when he does something drastic with time, the timeline doesn't suffer, either." She was no longer smiling. 

"He's called a Ghost because he fades into the background. No matter where he goes, he never really... seems to belong, and yet he does. It's almost as if he and time are one and the same. I'd like to say that he's not anything to worry about, but he cares about Kimoto, and that means Midoriya by default. I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up that night to go up against you." She ducked her head. "He is a fierce opponent to go up against. I wouldn't pick a fight with him, especially because he's known you longer... well, probably longer than you've known yourself, currently."

The doctor finally spoke up since his first interruption. "And does he have any defining features?" 

The woman nodded. "Yeah. They say he always wears a green mask..." 

=====

As the woman disappeared, All for One hummed curiously to himself. 

"You know, I find it odd," he mused to the doctor. "She says that Kimoto and Midoriya are two different people, but..." 

He chuckled. 

"It just seems so out of place, doesn't it?" 

=====

"Touya," seventeen-year-old Daizō said softly. "You're here." 

"You called for help," Touya replied. Most of his face was covered with the hoodie of his dark cloak, which masked his identity. However, sitting carefully on his face was a green half-mask, which had been polished to a shine. It was a quaint design, neither extravagant or overdone. There were small simple carvings around the holes of the mask for the eyes, but otherwise, it was rather plain. 

And that was why it was so beautiful. 

Future Daizō dropped the dagger in his hand, and it clanged loudly as it hit the ground, before rushing over to him. The man caught him as he leapt onto him, and he wrapped his arms around the smaller boy's shoulders. 

Daizō felt like crying. "There's over two hundred of them, Touya, I can't keep up. And they're trying to kill me- not me me, but my younger self, and I have no idea what to do. There's too many of them, and we can't just act like his bodyguards, that'd have too many repercussions on the timeline, and it could collapse—" 

"Brat, hey," Touya said softly, "calm down. It's gonna be okay." He rubbed his hand in circles over the boy's back awkwardly. He wasn't very good with the whole comfort thing. 

Daizō took in a shuddering breath before slipping out of Touya's hold. He looked exhausted, and there were bags under his eyes. 

"How many times have you gone back?" Touya questioned as he looked at his bloodshot eyes. Daizō sighed. 

"Eleven, so far," he admitted. "If even one person sees us, we're screwed." 

Touya hummed before his lips quirked up into a smile. "Perhaps not..." 

Daizō stared at him. And then his face paled. "No..." 

Touya patted his shoulder comfortingly. "Don't worry about a thing, Daizō. While time might break seeing you, it's a different story for me. The perks of being the Ghost, I suppose." 

He grinned. 

"I am so ready to see your past self." 

=====

Translation: 

Hey... it's future self here. 

Hah. It's been a while since I wrote in this, huh? Even though I'm only two years older than the self I'm protecting... 

Look, I know that going back in time to protect my past self was dangerous. But I had to do it. Granted, continuing a time loop was... not the most effective decision in the world. But it's not like I had a choice. 

Back when I was current Midoriya's age, I was protected by my future self. And my future self, when he was current Midoriya's age, was protected by my future-future self. 

And when current Midoriya grows up, and when he turns seventeen, after he meets his version of Maiko, he'll go back. And he'll protect a younger version of himself, until that version can protect himself. And then current Midoriya will escape the loop and move on without looking back. 

Well, that's what I plan on doing. The second my younger version can protect himself, I'm out of here. And I'm pretty sure that every other version of us can agree with that. 

It's been done for... who knows how many loops. It's integrated into this time period. If I didn't go back, then what would happen to the timeline? 

This is the only way to keep it the same. 

This is the only way to make sure that everything goes right. 

And yet... it's not just my younger self that has to do everything perfectly. It's me too. Everyone knows that it's dangerous, highly so, to mess with this time period. It's too fragile. If I mess one thing up, who knows what'll happen.

I don't even know for sure how smoothly it's gone so far. I'm not even sure if this attack has happened in other loops. Maybe it hasn't. Maybe it has. But it's dangerous, and so I guess it really doesn't matter, huh? I have to get rid of it either way. 

I'll be honest with you. When the time comes that my younger self has to fight All for One, I won't be able to step in. People overestimate how powerful I really am. Maybe Ghost might be able to, but that's a different story. 

But here's the basics. 

When Maiko and I get Erased, we come back. It's as simple as that. That's how this loop even exists. But if this attack really changes anything... 

That might not happen. And then what? 

Well, I'll disappear too. And so will Maiko. And because of that, there's no loop. There's no "current Midoriya" to go protect a younger version of himself. 

And if that happens... Our timeline's gone. It breaks. It snaps

And honestly, people, when you put it into perspective, here's how it is: If current Midoriya dies... everyone dies. 

And here I was, thinking exams were stressful. Think about it—all life ceases to exist if you can't stay alive. 

Thanks, universe, and all my past selves who thought that creating a loop was a brilliant idea. Thanks a lot. I'm really feeling that pressure right now. 

(So why am I writing this at the moment? Well... call it an old habit that refuses to die.)

=====

Translation: 

I've been... putting this off, for a while now. 

I don't really like thinking about this, much. But it's fact, and I suppose it just might make everyone's lives easier if I explained this. 

The reason why I'm leaving these books behind... 

Let's just... put this into perspective, yeah? 

I'm Kimoto Daizō. I'm the grandson of All for One. And that's fine, really. I got over that a long time ago. (I think I did, anyway.)

If... If I defeat All for One, then he won't take over the world. He'd probably either be dead or stuck in a prison cell. 

And that's great. Except, he won't fall in love with my grandmother. And he won't have children. And those children won't have children. 

And I simply won't be born. 

We call this Erasure. You simply... cease to exist. 

 

Nedzu? You'll... you'll tell them, if I don't get the chance, won't you? You'll tell them that I really did care for them? 

Because I do. I love every single one of them. 

I... god, Nedzu. I don't want to die. I really, really don't want to die. 

I thought I could handle it, you know? I've been preparing myself for years, but now that I've gotten to know them... 

God, how am I supposed to tell Yaochan? How am I supposed to tell Kayama, or Aika and Hiroji, or Aizawa and All Might? 

Oh shit, how am I supposed to tell Juni? 

=====

She was lightheaded, and she felt like any second she would pass out, and her body trembled as she lost more and more blood.

But that didn't matter. It never did. And she placed her cheek against the top of Daizō's head, let a small tear escape her eye, and smiled.

"You little, little fool," she whispered. And she felt Daizō hiccup, and then the pain struck. Eyes closing, she heard Daizō shriek in pain. Not physical pain, perhaps, but the ones filled in sadness.

And then, she felt a sudden twisting in her stomach, a fierce one, and then her arms felt so, so empty.

He did it.

She hit the floor, alone, bloodied, and cold.

Maiko sighed deeply as she stared out at the ocean surrounding her. Her back and stomach still stung in pang. Her hands felt empty without her Chain Conjuring. But she had given it away, to Daizō, just before he went away.

And he was long, long gone now.

She heard the soft sounds of the sand being pushed on in even strokes. Footsteps, probably. Maiko didn't turn to look as she took in the deep breaths of the salty air. Waves from the calm sea crashed gently against the wet sand as the sun began to rise, its soft rays covered just lightly by clouds. There was a breeze too, one that made the hair on Maiko's arms rise. It was chilly, and it gave her goosebumps.

"Maiko."

She shuddered as a pocket of cold air washed over her. The waves rolled up to her toes. She glanced back to see a man with coppery-orange eyes and windswept hair.

"Hey," she called.

Daizō's father raised a hand in return. He walked up to her so they were standing, side by side. They watched the sun continue to rise. 

Behind them, Daizō's parents' house stood. It was a small cottage, just barely enough room for three adults and a child.

Maiko sighed again as she looked over to Daizō's father. "How's she doing?"

The man shrugged. "Do you mean my wife or my daughter?"

Maiko clicked her tongue. "I don't think I have to specify."

Daizō's father let out a huff of laughter. "You really don't like my daughter, do you?" 

"I don't hate her," Maiko said. "I just find it despicable that you and your wife abandoned your child, burned them, and then decided to have a new one."

"You make it sound like she's disposable."

Maiko rolled her eyes. "Well, you treated Daizō like he was, so I think that's fair. And like hell he knows he has a sister. What the hell's her name again?"

"Nana."

Maiko raised an eyebrow. "Isn't she one of those One for All users or some shit?"

Daizō's father snorted and shook his head. "I swear, we've had to have had this conversation at least a hundred times." 

"And yet I get surprised every time," Maiko replied dryly. "You're not really One for All "hero" material."

Daizō's father sighed. "No, I guess I'm not." He pressed his toes deep into the sand. "The only reason I even got One for All was because my family was desperate to pass it on." 

Maiko tutted. "Well, I have to thank you for your memory manipulation quirk," she admitted as she stared up at the sun. "Came in handy."

"What for?"

Maiko shrugged. "See, Daizō might be easy to manipulate..." Her eyes softened. "But he's a damn smart kid. And he managed to figure out what would happen to him when he defeated All for One."

"And that was?" he prompted.

Maiko sighed. "Well, All for One wouldn't take over the world. He wouldn't fall in love. He wouldn't have children." She hesitated. "And those children wouldn't have his grandchildren."

There was a moment of silence. The waves crashed heavily, and the water reached Maiko's ankles. Maiko pulled her cardigan tighter around herself.

"So he'd cease to exist."

Maiko made a sound of confirmation. "So he would." She stretched her back, ignoring the pain that shot through her. She didn't need the man beside her, or his hospitality, or his fake smiles. She had herself, her quirks, her Second Chance, which is what revived her in the first place...

She had her time travel quirk, too. Got it from Seiya's cousin, which was a weaker version of the same thing. The only difference was that the body went back instead of the mind, which meant she couldn't use it but in special cases unless she wanted to meet herself.

Daizō hadn't been lying when he said that she had been planning this from the very start, and she would see it to its end.

She turned her back to Daizō's father and began walking along the side of the beach.

"There's a reason he has to be erased, Hayata," she called over her shoulder. "You may not see that reason yet, but it's there."

And the sun's rays hit the water. And Kimoto Hayata squinted his eyes as the bright light hit his face. His eyes watered.

When the clouds covered part of the sun again, she was gone. Her footsteps in the sand would be washed away by the waves of time.

She had gone to see Daizō again. 

=====

Seventeen-year-old Daizō felt his stomach squeeze painfully. He glanced over to Touya, who looked barely winded after their small fight, and then his version of Maiko, who looked confused.

"Did someone just go back in time again?" he asked frantically.

Maiko blinked. And then she blinked again. And then her eyes brightened, and her mouth went into a small "o" shape.

She turned to the both of them, giddy with excitement.

"My past self- I just went back into time!"  

=====

Midoriya's stomach had been bothering him for almost half an hour now. And now another pang went through him. In the back of his mind, he registered that yet another universal string had been broken.

Part of him was panicking.

Another part of him was pretending that nothing happened.

(He felt faint fingers brush against the back of his neck. Suddenly, all memories of hundreds of pangs in his gut faded and warped, until he was convinced he was merely having a stomach ache.

Unbeknownst to him, those fingers belonged to Maiko. Time travel police force Maiko, not the one that had just gone back. And she sighed in relief when she saw all the panic ease from his eyes and posture.

"All clear," she whispered into her comm.)

=====

There was a man with gentle features sitting on a bench. Beside him sat Midoriya. The two watched the dark red and brown leaves whip past the empty streets. They were in Midoriya's "dream" again. Midoriya supposed he should have guessed it, seeing how he was knocked unconscious while emotional after Todoroki sent that wall of flames at him. 

"So," the man started, "I'm assuming your fight with Todoroki went well?" 

Midoriya shrugged. "It went as well as it possibly could have." He sighed as he ran a hand over his face. "I just got knocked out, though. I'll probably have to wake up again to see if my words actually meant anything to him." 

The man shot him a gentle smile as he patted his shoulder. "You did fine, I assure you." There was a moment that neither spoke as the awkwardness settled back in. It wasn't an uncommon thing, the two of them having not much to speak about. He leaned back into the bench, his smile fading away from his face. He looked away from Midoriya, eyeing his clasped hands. 

"Is it one of those days?" Midoriya asked quietly. The man exhaled sharply through his nose, though it was gentler than usual. 

"Yeah," he agreed offhandedly. "One of those days." 

Midoriya frowned. He didn't really have anything to say as the man turned solemn. There were days were he was brighter and happy, but more often than not he was serious and quiet. Usually, on those days, they wouldn't exchange any words, instead watching the world pass by. 

"Would you change anything?" Midoriya blurted out. "If you could go back, I mean. Would you be harsher on All for One when he started showing the signs?" 

The man glanced toward him before looking away. His eyes turned somber. "That's a good question." He was silent for a while. After a few minutes, Midoriya was sure he wouldn't answer at all, the silence stretching further and further. But, finally, the man spoke. "I should probably say yes, shouldn't I?" 

Midoriya remained quiet. No matter how much he wanted to respond, it would be best if the man could sort out his thoughts first. 

"I mean," he continued, "he did awful things to me. To a lot of other people. He caused so much pain." He sighed as he turned his head away from Midoriya, so that the boy couldn't see his face. "But..." His voice cracked. "I can't bring myself to want to change it, you know? Even with all the pain and suffering I've caused, I wouldn't..." He chuckled shortly, his laugh pathetic and weak at best. 

"Even if I could go back, I probably wouldn't want to," he admitted. "I wouldn't change anything. Not for the world." His shoulders sagged. "He may have hurt me, but..." 

He trailed off. It took a minute for him to regain his voice. 

"I... could never bring myself to hurt my brother." 

Midoriya blinked the memory away as he recognized the gangling form sitting on the bench right outside Recovery Girl's office. 

"Yagi?" he blurted out, and the man glanced up toward him. He broke out into a smile. 

"Ah, Young Midoriya! What a pleasure to see you again." He patted the spot beside him. Midoriya felt a wave of deja vu overcome him... again. "Perhaps you'd like to sit down?" 

After a moment of hesitation, he nodded. It felt a little odd, to be honest. Once again, he had been injured, and once again, Yagi was opening his arms in kindness. He was careful as he sat beside the male, though he was closer to him than the last time. There wasn't enough bench to put two feet of space between the two. "Is the view in the teacher's box good?" he asked quietly after a moment of silence. 

Yagi hummed. "It's great. We get a wonderful view of you guys. Speaking of which—" He glanced toward the boy. "—you really ought to be more careful. That battle with young Todoroki really scared all of us." 

Midoriya laughed sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I had..." He hesitated. "A few things to accomplish, then." 

Yagi's eyes seemed to fill with a certain amount of curiosity. "I see." He cleared his throat. "Well, despite that, you really should be aware of your health. During the clean up period after, Present Mic was in a panic, and Midnight was about to pull her hair out from worry. You really shouldn't worry your guardian so much." 

Midoriya suddenly paled. "She... worried?" He pressed his palms against either side of his face. "Oh no. I didn't- I mean- oh my god, I'm going to have to apologize to her later." 

Yagi seemed a little surprised by his reaction, though his lips quirked upward into a smile. "Yes, well, make sure to include your homeroom teacher in that apology. While he would never admit it, he was worried about your well being as well." 

Midoriya's eyes widened further. "Aizawa-sensei? He was worried too? But- I don't- huh?

Yagi laughed. "The look on your face is priceless." 

"You're not helping me at all." 

"No," Yagi agreed, "I suppose I'm not." 

Silence overcame them once again. Midoriya glanced down at his hands, trying to ignore the fact that they were sweating. He swallowed thickly as he tried to get past the lump in his throat, the air around them suddenly turning serious again. "May... may we talk about something, please?" 

Yagi tilted his head to the side. "But of course. Is something bothering you?" 

Midoriya nodded. "Two things, actually." He pressed his fingers into the back of his hand. "Your quirk... One for All." Yagi flinched. "You're looking for a successor, aren't you?" 

Yagi was silent for a moment. "I'm going to assume that answering your questions first will be easier than asking you questions." 

"Perhaps," Midoriya admitted. 

Yagi opened his mouth to say something, but he paused as he turned to cough into his hand. After a few seconds, he turned back toward Midoriya. (The boy tried to ignore the way his fist was covered with blood.) "That is true. Why, are you asking for it?" 

Midoriya felt his chest constrict with fear at the thought of One for All being passed down to him. The expectation that would come with it, the responsibility of taking the title and the secret, the power that would come with it... 

And to be the next symbol of peace. To be the next number one hero. 

Midoriya felt nauseous. "No," he blurted out, feeling his skin crawl, his head ache. "No, I... No. Definitely not." 

Yagi raised a brow at his reaction, surprise flashing across his face. "I never thought the day would come when someone would say no to that question, even if I wasn't planning on giving it to them." 

Midoriya grasped his pants. His fingers stung, and a low thrum of pain hung under his skin. "Well, you've never asked me before," he forced out. 

Yagi was quiet. "You didn't hesitate." 

"I don't need to," Midoriya responded. "I didn't ask because I wanted it. I asked because I was wondering if you needed help finding someone." He tried to calm the hard beating of his heart. "A successor, I mean." 

Yagi frowned. "That's not your decision to make." 

"And you're running out of time," Midoriya reminded. "Not that you have to take any of my suggestions. But I feel as if you need a few. You don't seem like you're going to make any decisions any time soon." 

There it was. The nail on the head. Yagi flinched, almost as if the statement had been burned into him—or as if someone had been repeating that to him over and over again. Midoriya frowned. 

"If you already know, why are you procrastinating so much?" he asked curiously. Did the man just not find someone he liked? Or did he not want to give One for All up? Yagi had had it for a very long time. It wouldn't be surprising if the man was a little unwilling to pass it on. He did, after all, pride himself in being the number one hero for a long period of time. 

Yagi coughed awkwardly. "I'm not procrastinating." When Midoriya raised an eyebrow, the man's cheeks flushed as he looked away awkwardly. "Anyway, you shouldn't even know about One for All. Not to be offensive or anything, but that kind of information makes you out to be incredibly suspicious." Yagi interlaced his fingers, his expression growing solemn. "Even if you are a student and merely a teenager, people would kill for that information. And while it would be nice to trust you, it is very hard to bring myself to do it. Hero-in-training or not, you're holding onto information that I've only revealed to enough people I can count on one hand." 

Midoriya glanced toward him. He felt his stomach clench uncomfortably as he tried to find an answer for him. 

When you're stressed, you see a flash forward of the future. When you're emotional, you get warped into the past. 

Midoriya latched onto that thought. And then he took in a deep breath and exhaled shakily. He ran a hand through his hair. "There's... something I haven't really told anyone," he admitted. "I'm not sure if it's a weird part of my quirk, or if it's a mutation or something..." He tried not to feel bad about the lie that was just about to leave his mouth. "But if I go to sleep when I'm super emotional or stressed, my dreams get warped." 

Yagi blinked. "Okay. And this explains that, how?" 

Midoriya licked his lips. His throat suddenly felt dry. "Sometimes, I get... transported, almost, into the past. My mind only, though." He frowned as he looked away. "Usually, I can't interact with anything. But there's a couple people that have died in that time period, or around it, and they sort of... wander. I can speak with them, and sometimes interact with them." 

Yagi's pallor had gone ashy white. "That's an incredible power." 

"It's exactly why I don't say anything about it," Midoriya said as he tapped his fingers together. "Just like how you don't say about One for All." Midoriya cleared his throat. "I managed to figure your quirk out because of a certain person I keep on finding when I go back. He knows about your quirk, and so he's mentioned it to me a couple times." 

Yagi raised an eyebrow. "Who?" 

Midoriya paused. He thought about the older man with the gentle expression and kind eyes. The one that he talked to when he watched the Shining Baby cry, the one that sat with him on the bench as they watched the leaves whisk by. 

The one who suggested to him that he let All Might take care of All for One. 

Yeah. He knew exactly who he was. 

"It's the first user of One for All," Midoriya finally said. 

Yagi spluttered in surprise before he forced himself into a coughing fit. "The first user?" he asked. "All for One's brother?"

Midoriya nodded sagely. "Yes," he echoed, "his brother." He sighed as he gained a far-away look in his eyes. "He talks a lot about him, you know. It's why I know so much about it." 

Yagi wiped the corner of his mouth. "But that doesn't explain how you know about my injury. The first user couldn't have possibly known about it." 

Midoriya shrugged. "I wouldn't be so sure. It seems like the people who I can interact with know more about the world past their time of living." He sighed. "Heck, the guy even said that death made him more experienced." He hummed curiously. "Perhaps he knows what happens to all the future One for All users..." 

Yagi flinched at that. "I should hope not," he said. "Not after..." He didn't finish his statement. There was no need to. He quickly averted from the conversation before continuing to the next. "Well, I appreciate your offer, and for confiding in me. And make sure to be careful with that kind of power..." He winced. "Who knows what people would do with that information." 

"I will be," Midoriya promised. 

Yagi nodded. "All right then. Now, before I let you go to cheer on your friends—" He waved towards the television hanging in the corner of the room, displaying the current happenings of the festival. "—you said that there were two things you wished to talk about?" 

Midoriya blinked. "Oh," he said. "Yeah. Uhm." He pulled the neck of his jacket away from his neck, letting cool air wash over his skin. "I was just wondering something." 

"Fire away," Yagi responded immediately. 

Midoriya bit his lower lip. "Kayama told me that dorms will be finished after the Sports Festival is over. If Todoroki is allowed to live there..." He hesitated. "Will Endeavor be allowed to enter whenever he wants? Since he's the number two hero, I mean." 

Yagi stared at him. A wave of different emotions crossed his face. "I... don't know," he admitted. "I can ask Nedzu, though." 

"Actually," Midoriya said as he stood up on shaky feet, "I think I'll ask him myself. If you don't mind." 

Yagi nodded, though he looked a little confused. "Is there a reason you're asking specifically?" 

Midoriya pursed his lips and shrugged. "Perhaps." 

=====

Kayama liked to believe that she was a hero who could keep up facades. 

But Midoriya was going to kill her. Or maybe she'd throttle him instead. Who knew, who cared? She wanted so badly to cut the fight between Todoroki and Midoriya when things started to get dangerous, but did she? No! 

Why not? 

Because she had a fricken' job to do! 

Did she still want to strangle Midoriya despite this fact? 

Yes! 

Don't get her wrong, she would strangle him entirely out of love. Because she cared about him sincerely. 

Which was why she was on the verge of getting hives when she saw him collapse. Because yeah, they hadn't known one another for long, or that personally, either. He'd only been with her for about two weeks now. But in that time, they'd gotten matching hoodies, they played board games almost every night, they cooked together, they marathoned Disney movies... 

Pretty much, they put aside their obvious ages and acted like little kids. There were times when they had pillow fights because a game of Uno had gotten too competitive. 

Did she care that her image was thrown out the window? No! Why not? 

Because Midoriya was a sweet child. Try and lay a hand on him, she'd dare all of you. 

Was this her momma bear coming out? Maybe!? She didn't know! Usually, they all teased Aizawa because he pretended that he didn't care about his students, even though they all knew otherwise. She wasn't used to being poked and prodded and teased when she mentioned that Midoriya had the cutest laugh ever because have you heard it before? 

She wasn't used to it. The closest kind of figure she got to being was like an aunt. And that was only for very certain students, ones who had certain tastes. Like having their costumes put together so that their bodies were almost on full display. Those kinds of students got close to her because they asked tips from her, like how to seduce someone, or how to get someone to lower their guard. 

She had never ever gotten particularly close to people like Midoriya, conservative in all senses of the word with his turtlenecks and scarfs and jeans and socks with the cat paw designs on the bottom. Which were utterly adorable, by the way, and she searched for hours for a pair to match. And Midoriya was... Midoriya. Kind of shy, but also honest. Hovering like a shadow, like he didn't want to intrude on her too much, but also curious as a little kid in a candy shop. And sometimes she wanted to squish his freckled cheeks because goddammit kid, give her damn heart a break. 

So what were the thoughts going through her head when she was watching the fight?

It was a good question. 

At first, she was disappointed. She thought that Midoriya wouldn't have been unable to get out of Todoroki's humongous ice attack. 

But then he got out. And she was elated. And then the fight continued. 

And everything kind of blurred out from there. The most she remembered thinking was, touch him again, Todoroki, you won't see the light of day. 

Holy hell. So that was why Aizawa was grinning when she firmly repeated that Midoriya would stay with her. He knew this would happen. Of course he knew. Because the exact same thing happened to him. 

Why. Why, Aizawa. Why would you let her get herself into this mess. Being a parental figure was nothing but stress. How was she even supposed to live for the rest of her life like this? 

As Uraraka and Bakugo were called to the next stage, a movement in one of the entryways caught her attention. She glanced over to see—

"Well," she muttered, "speak of the devil." 

Midoriya was standing there, bandaged up, and looking extremely tired. There was still a slight flush to his cheeks—Recovery Girl reported to them that he was sick, and yet had tried to ignore it. Which was yet another thing to panic over relentlessly. Her nails were probably bitten to the quick at this point. 

The boy's expression lit up as she noticed him. He raised a hand, which was shaking slightly, to make a sign with his fingers as he made a few swift movements. Midnight recognized it, after all, people in hero classes were required to know at least the basics of sign language. While it was a skill they learned mostly through the second and third year, some learned earlier. Like Koda, for example, who was selectively mute. 

I'm sorry for worrying you, she roughly translated. While it wasn't word-for-word, she still gathered the basics of the message. And I hope I can make it up to you. 

Midnight smiled at him as she lightly nodded her head. Beside her waist, and hopefully without gaining any attention to herself, she made a simple gesture—It's okay—before turning back to the fight. 

He was so sweet. She wished she could run her fingers through his hair right now. It was fluffy, and it never failed to make her happy. And he liked when she did it, too. 

Which was all she wanted from him, really. To be happy. 

=====

As Mt. Lady walked past the crowds, eyes peering around the crowd, she did her best to look for any suspicious activity. Kids with candy in their mouths ran past her, giggling and smiling as they called out for their parents. Booths sold all sorts of food and trinkets, racking up the cash as group upon group of people stopped by their stands. 

Behind her back, in the shadow of one of the alleyways behind a booth, a man stood. He was gripping the handle of his dagger tightly as he tried to calm his racing heart. He couldn't get found, couldn't—not if he was going to contribute to this distraction. The best way to handle this was to remain in public eye, where they couldn't take care of him. 

He breathed out shakily before he turned to step out of the shadows. However, before he could, a hand was pressed tightly over his mouth while something sharp dug into his side. Almost instantly, his entire body went numb, and he fell limp to the ground. 

He gasped like a fish out of water as he tried to move his body, to no effect. As he glanced behind him, his body went cold. 

A woman with blonde hair and brown eyes stood. She sighed. 

"Asagiri Maiko speaking, part of the nineteenth squad of the department of time travel regulation. Another subject has been found. Moving him to the attached coordinates—please restrain him and lock him up as soon as he appears. He's a bold one." 

He tried to scream as she grabbed onto his bicep, but the muscles in his mouth refused to work. And so he disappeared without a flash, without a sound. 

And no one was any the wiser. 

=====

Uraraka was all nerves and very little confidence. 

"Just do your best," Asui said as she brought her into a hug. "That's all we ask for. That's all any of us ask for." 

But Uraraka didn't just want to do her best. She wanted to win. She wanted to stand against one of her strongest classmates and hold her ground. She wanted to beat Bakugo, to prove that she wasn't weak. That she could become a hero, and help her parents, and do what she's always set out to do since she was little—

But this was Bakugo. Bakugo. 

Uraraka swallowed thickly as he stared her down. There was a sudden seriousness in his eyes. She would be lying if she said that she wasn't intimidated. 

But... she didn't get it. 

Because Bakugo... didn't look mad at her? Well, that was hard to say. He was mad about everything, about everyone. But this time, he didn't look pissed at her. Which didn't make sense. She was almost positive that he would be angry—after all, he attacked her with an explosion from behind, meant to take her out after she caused him to use one of his quirk chances up in the Floor Is Lava event. Midoriya was caught in the crossfire, and the two of them supported the other to get back up. 

So she didn't get knocked out of the event, just like Bakugo had wanted. 

Or, at least, that was what she assumed he wanted. But here he was, looking strangely... calm, in a way. Not peaceful, but calm. 

So... did he really want to knock her out of the event? 

"Die, you son of a—" 

Uraraka blinked. Those were the words that he screamed right before aiming his explosion at them. And maybe he didn't care for the pronouns, but it seemed like he was speaking to a guy. So unless he was indirectly insulting her by calling her a boy, he was speaking to someone else. 

But that would mean he was aiming for Midoriya. 

Why?

Before Uraraka could say anything, Present Mic began introducing them. Uraraka ignored the sweat that was already gathering on the back of her neck and in her armpits. Oh man, she really was nervous. She swallowed thickly before putting on a brave face, her body moving instinctively into a fighting position. She knew it was sloppy, and that she was too rigid, but her muscles weren't working the way she wanted them to. 

Ojiro and Midoriya made it look simple and easy, like they had practiced those movements all their lives. Though their forms were slightly different, it was the same basic principle. 

Uraraka took in a deep breath as Present Mic's last words rang through the arena. And then Midnight snapped her whip down. And Uraraka exhaled, trying to make it last as long as possible. 

And then she sprinted forward, her body low to the ground, hoping with all of her might. 

=====

Midoriya hated cold water. He hated taking cold showers, too. He didn't know why. Well, he did know why, but he didn't quite understand why he struggled so much with the connection. He obviously wasn't there, so he should have been fine. He should have been fine. 

But no. Cold showers still never failed to get a reaction out of him. So no, he wasn't really fine. 

He had a feeling he was still suffering from PTSD from that one event. The others, excluding the hand incident, he was getting a bit of a handle with. Maybe physical contact still made him squirm, but it wasn't so overwhelming like it used to be. 

So he was getting better. 

Well, kind of. 

He still struggled with the hand thing. 

And the other one. 

That was the worst. 

Even at USJ, before the villains attacked, the memories were fresh in his mind. He hated the sight of that huge mountain in the mountain zone, and the downpour zone with the rain and powerful winds. 

All for One and Shigaraki didn't hurt him physically that often—the two merely used force at the beginning so he wouldn't try to fight back as he had previously tried (like stabbing Shigaraki in the throat that one time. Yeah, that was fun, except the man merely laughed at him and brushed it off because of that damn regeneration quirk.) But pain? No, that wasn't a common factor in Midoriya's old life. As surprising as it might be, the two were actually... relatively nice to him. 

Well, define nice

But they treated him respectfully—they asked what he was doing, what he would do throughout the day, what he was going to learn and teach himself. Mostly, if he stayed out of the way, they didn't care what he did. He often found himself reading in the library, hiding himself in one of the corners as he imagined himself somewhere far, far away. 

Of course, there was training. Some of it was mental, others were physical. Some twisted his mind—in this situation, would he kill off several people in order to provide sufficient protection for the rest? Or would he risk thousands of people's lives for the sake of number? 

He could tell that All for One was trying to get him into the habit of thinking like him. He had eternity, after all. Decades of brainwashing were nothing for him. 

Absolutely nothing at all. 

Of course, those ideas hadn't had enough time to be planted into his brain. He was only there for a year. 

But in that year, two large punishments happened to him. 

His left hand. 

And the other one. 

 

He hated mountains. And lightning. And thunder. And ice cold rain. 

And storms. 

He was petrified of storms. 

=====

Shinsou had his hands buried deep into his pockets as he walked through the halls. His second match would be coming up soon, and he wanted to be prepared for it the best he could. However, there was not doubt that Shiozaki probably already knew what his quirk was. So unless he could really anger her and get her to speak that way, there wasn't a good chance of him winning. 

Not that he wasn't going to try, of course. But trying did not always guarantee your success. 

Shinsou learned that a long time ago. 

He sighed as he turned the corner, entering a new hallway that was almost bare of all people. He froze as he noticed the three that were in a small huddle off to the side, however, speaking in lower voices. 

It was Kirishima, Kaminari, and Aoyama. 

He felt glued to the spot as their attentions swiveled over to him. Immediately, Kaminari's somewhat brightened face clouded over. Kirishima and Aoyama seemed to wince. 

"Oh, hey Shinsou," Kirishima said, his voice strained. That was his name, right? He was the redhead with the spiked hair. "Your round is coming up soon, isn't it? I hope you do well." 

Shinsou narrowed his eyes before scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "You do realize that you're cheering on the person who brainwashed you, correct?" 

Kaminari frowned. "It's called he's being polite and kind," he retorted. "You should take lessons." 

Sure, Shinsou thought bitterly. I'm always the one in trouble, the one hated. But when everyone else used their quirks on me as a kid, no one said anything about that, huh? 

But Shinsou could understand how they were feeling. If he were in their shoes, he'd be feeling pretty angry too. But he'd spent years in resentment, in the shadow of others and on his knees just because his quirk wasn't "fair." As if he actually liked his quirk. He'd do anything to trade it in for a different one—though he would admit that it could be worse. He could have eyes that melted in their sockets once a month before slowly regrowing in the following week. (He had a classmate who had to do that. He also had to shed his fingernails.) 

Shinsou exhaled sharply through his nose at the boy's comment. It was obvious the canary-blonde was upset with his results, but blaming it all on him was uncalled for. 

But, even so... 

Even if he wasn't there to make friends, the least he could do was not make enemies. Especially among a future (hopefully) fellow hero. 

"Well," he forced out, "I'm sorry about brainwashing you. I know it's an uncomfortable experience." He cleared his throat the second that Kaminari opened his mouth. "I'm not sorry for the entire "I'm giving up my place in the tournament," though. You're both idiodic. You earned your spots, even if it was by what you would define as luck. You picked the right team, didn't you?" He scoffed as Kirishima and Aoyama's eyes widened. "You're not always going to be able to support your team. Sometimes, you'll even hinder them when you're weakened. But just because it happens once or twice doesn't mean you're not worth being on the team. That means you just have to work harder to make sure it doesn't happen again." He rolled his eyes as he gestured at them aimlessly. "So, as I was saying, you're idiots. I don't plan on apologizing for that. Get a grip." 

And he walked right past their group and out of their sight. 

Perhaps he sighed in relief. He felt better, apologizing for it, even if he called them an idiot in the process. And no, they weren't going to be friends. He didn't come to make friends. It just helped relieve some of the weight on his chest. Nothing more, nothing less. This wasn't the beginning of a friendship.

Green eyes, freckles, and scarred hands cradling a fluffy cat flashed through his mind. He shook his head, trying his best to shake the image away. 

No, they weren't friends, Shinsou chided himself. They weren't. 

Absolutely not. 

=====

"All for One didn't invade U.A., Daizō. He didn't cause U.A.'s Judgement Day. There's a reason we sent you."

 

 

"You're the only one that matters,  Daizō." 

=====

Every time she got knocked down, she came back up. 

She did. 

Every time. 

She used the smokescreen that came from his explosions to her advantage. 

She did. 

She made every kind of debris she could weightless. 

She did.

Every time. 

There were boos in the crowd toward Bakugo. Apparently, he was being too "harsh" on her. Which was blatantly rude. Harsh? Why, so he should just toy with her? So he shouldn't go all out, just as everyone else was? 

Aizawa stepped in and told them off. Bakugo did, too. He said that she wasn't weak. 

That made her a little prouder. But the fact still remained—she didn't want recognition. She wanted to walk away from this battle, victorious. And going onto the next round, where she would be congratulated by her friends, where she could look at her parents and give them the brightest smile she could muster. 

And so she ran forward again. 

And she got knocked down. Again. 

And then she got back up. Again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And—

=====

Midoriya sat outside the door, listening in as Uraraka called her parents. She was crying, and he could feel the disappointment rolling off of her in waves. 

It made his chest ache. He wanted to go inside the room and hug her, because he couldn't stand seeing their class sad. It made him hurt. 

But this conversation was obviously private. And he had no place here. 

And so he waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

And when her sobbing started to cease, and she had hung up on her call with her parents, he knocked on the door. He could hear her hiccups freeze in their tracks, and the scraping sounds of chair legs against the floor could be heard through the door. The door slowly opened a crack, and Uraraka peered through. 

At seeing him, she attempted to put on a smile. Her eyes were pink, and it was obvious that she was trying to give off the impression that she hadn't been crying. "Hey, Midoriya," she said weakly. "What are you doing down here?" 

Midoriya tried to think of something to say. But fancy words didn't seem to be much of his forte, seeing how word vomit was much easier to do. So, instead, he opened his arms wide. "Hugs make people feel better," he explained. 

Uraraka stared at him. And then her smile cracked, and her eyes watered a bit more, and then she fell into her arms. He wheezed as she pulled him into a bone-crushing hug, but he didn't tell her to let go. She deserved this. 

He felt her shoulders begin to shake underneath his fingertips as he wrapped his arms around his back carefully. He wasn't sure what to say. So, instead, he let the silence remain. He heard footsteps behind him grow closer, pause, and then pass. He didn't give whoever it was a look, instead focusing on the girl who was starting to stop crying again. 

He had no idea what to say to make her feel better. You did a good job? No, that was plastic and cliche and meaningless, no matter how true it was. Your plan was amazing? No, that was obvious. Did she even want to talk about the fight? Probably not. 

So, instead, he sucked in a sharp breath and went for the least obvious answer and hoped for the best. "You can call me Izuku, if you'd like. I think Midoriya is a bit too formal, especially since we've been friends for so long." 

Shoot. That's not what he wanted to say. 

Well, at least it could distract her from her loss, right?

Uraraka stiffened in his arms before pulling back. She blinked up at him, staring at him incredulously, before bursting into laughter. "Sure," she finally said as she smiled. "I'll call you Izuku. But only if you can call me Ochako." 

Midoriya felt the tips of his ears turn pink as his face flushed. He hadn't reacted like this when Yaoyorozu asked him to make a nickname for her. Maybe it was because her nickname was still based on her surname? Or maybe it was because he was younger and calling people by their first name didn't seem so special. Maybe? Maybe. 

Or maybe this was puberty kicking him in the gut. Probably. Perhaps. Yeah. 

"I-if you want me to, I mean, I guess," he stammered. He hadn't called anyone but Aika by their first name. And Maiko. And Seiya. But those were a long time ago, back when he hadn't even hit double digits—excluding Aika, but she was practically his sister. Plus, it was awkward to try and call Hiroji... Hiroji, since it was Aika's last name too. But this was different. 

A nice kind of different, but a different all the same. 

Uraraka laughed again at his expression, and she nudged him in the side. "You look like a strawberry at the moment," she said while giggling. 

Midoriya chuckled awkwardly as she spoke. Being compared to a strawberry wasn't something he was really expecting, but it could be worse. His embarrassment was worth seeing her cheer up a little bit. And maybe it wasn't the best way to distract her from the fight, and maybe he really should have attacked the heart of the problem, but Uraraka was strong. And she would get through it, tooth and nail, and would come out stronger on the other side. 

And maybe he admired her for that. 

=====

Shinsou was pleasantly surprised as he walked out of his second round with another win. Shiozaki was strong, though he hadn't expected her to be so quick to respond to him when he brought up the whole "assassin" thing. She had been quick to correct Present Mic when he mentioned it, and so he thought that it was his best bet to bring it back up. 

So when she immediately went to fix his judgement of her, he was internally cheering. He had not expected that to work. At all. 

His next round, however, would be more difficult. It was either going to be Iida or Todoroki, depending on who won. 

He wasn't sure who he was hoping to win. Todoroki was stoic and not easily swayed, but he was also instinctive and even brash in some cases when it came to his foul mouth. Even though he didn't curse like Bakugo did, who was just as bad as a sailor, he was also quick to make snarky remarks and didn't hesitate to speak his mind. 

Then again, Midoriya seemed to make a mark on the boy. 

But isn't he making a mark on everyone? 

Shut up. Midoriya did not make a mark on me. 

Uh huh. Sure. 

Keep your mouth shut! 

But if Iida won, the only thing that Shinsou knew how to say was something about breaking the rules. Wasn't the boy obsessive over those kinds of things? Though, to Shinsou's knowledge, the boy wasn't even class president or vice president. Which was odd. Wasn't the creation girl the president, and Midoriya vice? Or was it the other way around? He couldn't keep track, and, honestly, he didn't really care. 

Okay, he cared a little bit. But not that much. 

Shut up. He was a teenager with conflicting emotions, it was normal for crying out loud. 

The students who made up General Education were all incredibly proud of him. They puffed up their chests and gave him a high five whenever he passed by them. It was both simultaneously annoying but also gratifying, that he had a whole department on his side that was proud of him. The only thing that slightly peeved him was the fact that some of them acted like they earned something as well because of his efforts, even though they were knocked out in the first round. Usually, it was something Shinsou could ignore, but those same people also glared at him not but a few days prior because of his quirk. 

Which was annoying. They only addressed him in a friendly manner because of his accomplishments, and because it looked good on them. But Shinsou was expecting this, so he merely bore through it without looking back. Aizawa had also warned him about it, so it wasn't surprising in any way. 

Did it hurt him slightly, though? Maybe. Just a little bit. 

Shinsou sighed as he looked down at the two boys who were making their way onto the field. He had a feeling, though, that things would go back to normal after the Sports Festival was over. 

He just hoped that he made a good enough impression to make a difference. He wasn't planning on being stuck in General Education for the rest of his time at U.A. Even if he had to work himself into the ground, he was going to get into the heroics classes. 

Even if it was the last thing he'd do. 

=====

Iida lost. 

Midoriya and Uraraka were currently comforting him. Iida had wanted to do his best, to make his brother and parents proud—after all, Tensei had gotten into the final round in the Sports Festival. He wanted to do his best as well, but his classmates were tough. Todoroki was no exception, and he won the battle with a sort of grace that Iida lacked. 

"It's fine, though," he reassured the two as he chopped his hands through the air. "I'll just have to do better next year!" 

Midoriya smiled up at him, the curve of his lips soft and gentle. He had this relaxed emotion in his eyes, and his posture was sloped and comfortable. Iida hadn't seen him this unwound since before the attack on USJ, when he, Iida, Yaoyorozu, Uraraka, Sero, and Kirishima had gone out on their shopping trip. 

Uraraka sent Iida another blinding smile. "I think I'm going to go back up," she said as she motioned to the ceiling above her. The three of them were hanging out in the hallways where the contestants were remaining. "Jirou's up against Tokoyami next, and I want to cheer her on." 

Iida nodded as he readjusted his glasses. "I will join you as soon as I can!" 

Midoriya hesitated. "I'll come up in a minute, Ura—" His cheeks flushed. "—Ochako." 

Uraraka giggled. "Sure thing, Izuku!" She twisted on her heel and skipped down the hall until she was out of sight. 

Iida coughed awkwardly into his fist. "I wasn't aware you two had gotten onto a first-name basis." 

Midoriya squinted up at him. "It's... a recent development." 

"When you were trying to make her feel better?" Iida attempted. 

Midoriya raised an eyebrow. "What are you, a Seer?" He sighed and shook his head. "But yes, that's exactly it." 

Iida smiled down at him. "I try to understand my fellow classmates to the best of my ability. It seemed like the only logical explanation." He winced as his thigh suddenly cramped, sending a jolt of pain up his leg. He looked around for a place to sit, seeing a simple bench not but two feet away. Ignoring Midoriya's questioning look, he sat himself down on the cool surface. The smaller boy plopped himself beside him. 

"Legs hurting?" Midoriya questioned. 

Iida laughed. "Who's the Seer now, huh?" 

The freckled teen snorted. "I feel you. Todoroki wasn't very nice to my legs either." 

"You collapsed."

"And?" Midoriya shrugged. "It still hurt my thighs." 

Iida sighed. "You are going to give our class a heart attack, I swear," he muttered. "But we are not in the same boat, Midoriya. You and Todoroki had a full-on war out there. Everything else pales in comparison." 

Midoriya knocked his shoulder with Iida's—or, he tried to, but Midoriya was much shorter than Iida was, and so he instead hit the side of his bicep. "Excuse me, don't underplay your battle. You put up a good fight. And your Recipro Burst is incredible. If it weren't for the fact that Todoroki clogged up your engines with his ice, I'm sure you would have won." He huffed. "Instead of underestimating yourself, you should be taking what you did right from that battle and propelling yourself forward. You did great." 

Iida was quiet for a moment before he smiled. "Of course, you're right! I'll definitely—" 

He was abruptly interrupted as his phone rang in his pocket. Midoriya looked confused, and Iida could share his reaction. Who would be calling me at a time like this? 

Without thinking, Iida whipped his phone out to see that his mother was calling him. Immediately, he swiped his thumb across the screen and held it up to his ear. "Mom, what's going on?" 

He listened. 

And then he paled. 

And then he stared at the wall. 

"Iida?" There was a hand on his arm. "Iida, is something the matter?" Midoriya's voice was soft and gentle and careful, and his eyes were full of worry. 

The call beeped as his mother ended the call. He stared at his phone for a second before he stood up, the pain in his legs long forgotten. 

"I'm sorry," he said coldly, "I have to go." He stuffed his phone in his pocket and then rushed down the hall. 

He felt Midoriya's eyes burning into his back. 

=====

Tokoyami won. Uraraka patted Jirou's back comfortingly.

"Oh, Midoriya!" she called when she noticed him coming up. "What took you so long? I thought you guys were only going to take a minute." She frowned as she looked around. "Wait, where's Iida?" 

It was then that she saw the concerned look plastered on Midoriya's face. "I don't know," he admitted as he sat beside her. "He was talking with me, and then his mom called him, but..." He shook his head. "I don't know." 

Uraraka felt dread bubble up in her gut. 

=====

Midoriya was right. 

Yaoyorozu really did reign hellfire on Bakugo. 

 

 

 

 

 

It still wasn't enough. 

=====

Shinsou could take third place, he decided. Even if it wasn't the best, he really wasn't expecting anything more. Not when he was up against the son of the number two hero himself. 

He felt awe overcome him as All Might took to the stage. He said a few words to Tokoyami, who shared his place with him. And then he turned to him, placed a metal around his neck, and then shot him a thumbs up. 

"You did well, Young Shinsou," he praised. "But always remember that you're more than your quirk. And that goes for everyone else, too." 

Shinsou stored that knowledge in a place where he would never forget it. He chewed on it throughout the rest of the event. And he chewed hard and long. 

And he was right, he decided. Despite the fact that people often represented a sort of personality that corresponded to their quirks, they were much more than that. And so, when he looked up into the crowds and saw Kaminari staring down at him, he sent him a peace sign. And the boy's eyebrows shot way up, but he reciprocated the gesture. Even though Shinsou could barely see it since the blonde was so far away, it was good enough for him. 

And that was what it was. A peace. An agreement between the two. A realization. 

At second podium, Todoroki stood. He still had that conflicted look in his eye, but it was clearer than Shinsou had ever seen it before. Midoriya really did a number on him, Shinsou supposed. It was certainly showing. 

And on top—at number one—was none other than Bakugo, who delivered on his promise, even though he was chained to a pole sticking upward from the podium. 

Taking All Might's words into account, that meant that there was more than Bakugo than an explosive personality. There was more there than anger and frustration and hatred. 

Shinsou couldn't see it, no matter how hard he looked. 

Perhaps Bakugo was really good at hiding it. 

=====

The doctor was fiddling the the tubes that circled the body of All for One. His fingers were agile and precise, though only gentle when needed. He had no time to waste, even if he made sure he did everything perfect under All for One. He was careful like that. 

After a moment of contemplation, he finally paused in his working to glance at All for One's face. His breathing was even, though he seemed to pause for an extra second before inhaling again, which made the doctor's nerves spike. 

"You want something?" All for One's voice spoke, and the doctor jumped. It was gravely and low, caused by a lack of use. 

"Just thinking," the doctor responded. After a moment of silence when he got back to triple-checking his work, he spoke up once more. "It seems to me like you're wondering about something." 

All for One hummed. "So you say." 

The doctor didn't push the man any more. Not if he still wanted all his fingers intact. While he was no doubt curious, work came first, and the last thing he wanted to was make All for One angry. 

But it seemed as if his gentle prodding did the trick. Before long, All for One's voice rumbled back into action. 

"Kimoto Daizō." He paused. "Midoriya Izuku. His quirk is Recipience. He can accept any quirk with the original owner's permission. He can also return it to the original owner. And what's so odd about that?" 

The doctor paused. He wracked his brain, but nothing came to mind. "I'm afraid I can't say." 

All for One chuckled. "Oh, come on, doctor," he said, amused. "You specialize in the study of quirks. Surely you understand the rule of quirk evolution." 

The doctor pursed his lips, slightly annoyed that he was being talked down. Not that he would ever voice that, because that would mean the end of him. So, by memory and thousands of times of recital before he met All for One, he said, "Of course. Quirks evolve over time to become more powerful than their predecessors. Unless someone's quirk cancels itself out, like Todoroki Natsuo's had, they'll usually always be more advanced." 

It took a second to register what came out of his mouth. And when he did, his fingers paused over the tube, freezing in its place. 

All for One chuckled again. "So you finally understand," he said. 

"If Midoriya Izuku is my grandson, why is his quirk worse in every way than mine?" 

=====

Midoriya was washing his hands at the sink. All the students were making last-minute trips to the bathroom before they got onto the buses back to the school. A few students were only a couple minutes away from home by subway, so those were allowed to go back that way. But most were heading back toward U.A., where they would be picked up by parents or find some other kind of transportation home. 

Midoriya was pretty early compared to the rest of the students. In fact, they weren't going to leave for another half hour, so he had time. While some were waiting to use the bathrooms last, he knew that that would be his doom as he ended up being crammed up against two boys while using the urinal. 

The only reaction that came to mind was haha, no thanks. 

He sighed as he reached for the paper towels, rubbing them against the wet skin of his hands. We watched in mild fascination as the paper soaked up the water in faint patterns. 

The small things in life, yeah? 

He was just about to throw the wet towels away when a voice spoke up behind him. It made him flinch, not realizing that anyone else was in the bathroom with him. 

"You're Midoriya, aren't you?"

He froze. And then, slowly, he twisted his neck to see a man with broad shoulders standing there. He was grinning, his silver teeth gleaming in the light. 

"This is just perfect." He chuckled lowly as he reached for something in his belt. "I was hoping I'd get to corner you." 

Midoriya felt panic bubble in his gut. What the hell? What does this guy even want? 

Instinctively, he took a few steps backward. He felt the side of his hip bump into the sink, and he stumbled. His arms flailed as he caught himself on the side of the offending basin. The ceramic felt cold against his fingertips. Breath caught in his throat, he tried to look for anything to defend himself. 

The man lumbered closer to him, grin widening. "This'll be good," he muttered to himself as he flicked open the device in his hand, the one that had been strapped to his belt. It was a switchblade, and it glinted in the dingy overhead lights. 

Okay, Midoriya fumbled. I can do this. I can defend myself. I just... I just need something metal... His eyes glued onto the faucet for the sink. That. I can use that to get away for just long enough—!

The tension was suddenly broken when the door creaked open. Midoriya flinched before whipping around. 

There was... someone there. Someone with a thick black coat and a hood that covered his entire face. He was more slender than the guy with the switchblade, and he oozed a sort of confidence that the other didn't. It was the kind of relaxed self-assurance that the muscled man lacked—instead, he had a more... violent assertiveness. 

Midoriya heard the man behind him suck his teeth as the door closed behind the new arrival. Whether or not it was from fear or frustration was debatable. 

"Huh," the cloaked figure said. "And here I was, expecting that you guys actually had a few brain cells." 

Midoriya blinked. He regretted it a second later when he felt a powerful rush of air run past him. He twisted back around with wide eyes to see that the man with the switchblade was on the ground, coughing with an arm held over his stomach. He was wheezing for breath as the other man stood high above him. 

"Honestly, you really should have done better." He clicked his tongue. "Izuku over here wouldn't have had any problem taking you out." 

Midoriya had no idea what was going on. What was going on? He was incredibly lost and didn't have a single idea what to say or do. And why was this weird person calling him by his first name?

Without warning, the cloaked man pressed a hand against the other's chest. And, just like that, the man was gone, disappearing without a trace. Midoriya could feel his breath rattling in his throat, struggling to come out. 

"What the hell," he blurted out. It seemed to finally gain the attention of the man in the dark cloak, and he turned around slowly. 

Midoriya felt his mouth grow dry as he saw the mask resting on his face. All thoughts seemed to cease, and he could only cough out a few weak syllables. His heart seized, because really, what was he supposed to say? His stomach dropped low, low, low, burrowing deep into the ground. When he could finally form a single word, his voice came out as a breathless whisper—almost indistinguishable among the pounding of hundreds of footsteps on the floors around them, in the muffled laughter and screams of happiness. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Dabi?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

=====

Shigaraki stared at the picture in his hand. In it was the face of one of the U.A. brats. He recycled his sensei's words in his head, again and again. 

"Midoriya Izuku. In your next attack, I want him. Dead or alive is up to you." 

He huffed before glancing over to the boy sitting at the counter. His shoulders were tense, and he was staring at the counter with a combination of fear and dread in his eyes. But there was a bit of rebelliousness in there too, hidden just beneath the surface. 

Of course. Shigaraki should have known better than to pick one of the hero class brats. 

"Hey," he started, rubbing the tips of his fingers against his neck, "I think you're lying to me, eh?" He waved the picture closer to the boy's face. He flinched. "So I'm only going to ask you one more time. What do you know about Midoriya?" 

The boy winced. "I don't know," he said nervously. 

Shigaraki ground his teeth together. "Of course not," he said softly. And then he stood up from his chair, letting the legs scrape against the floor before he started to make his way out of the room. The boy's eyes widened in fear, and he leapt up from his own chair. 

"Wait!" he cried. Shigaraki paused as he glanced at the boy. His hand, which was outstretched toward him, was trembling. "Wait," he repeated in a trembling voice. "I'll- I'll tell you. But please, don't- don't hurt my family." His voice was quiet at the very end, no more than a whisper. 

Shigaraki hummed as if he was contemplating before making his way back toward his seat. He stared the boy down as he sat down. Sliding a pad of paper and a pen toward him, he growled. "Write. Now." 

The boy's eyes watered as he gulped. There were tears in his eyes, and he looked incredibly regretful and relieved at the same time. Shigaraki watched him like a hawk as he adjusted his hold on the black length. 

And then, with a shaking hand, he began to slide the tip of the pen across the surface of the paper. 

 

Chapter Text

Midoriya felt breathless as he stared at the scarred form in front of him. He didn't know what to say. Dabi? Here? How—? 

"You're thinking too hard," the man said as he sidled up closer to him. "I can hear it from here." 

Midoriya didn't know what to say. He didn't know how to react. "H-how... how is it possible that you're..." He gestured aimlessly at the place around him. 

Dabi sighed as he rubbed the back of his head. "See, you know how you changed the future?" 

Midoriya nodded dumbly. "Kind of. Yeah. Since I joined U.A. Why?" 

Dabi snorted. "Well, crap hit the fan, and something went wrong when the future was being erased and rewritten. Think of it as a glitch. I wasn't erased properly, so now I'm here." He pressed the end of his index finger against Midoriya's forehead. "So, instead of me getting an upgrade, I've been basically transformed to be one with time. Call me a god if you want, but all my friends call me Ghost." 

"Ghost," Midoriya echoed. "And you're here... why?" he asked shakily. He still couldn't comprehend that this figure was back into his life. 

"People are trying to kill you," Dabi said simply.

Midoriya waited for any kind of addition to his response, but when nothing came, he nodded his head dumbly. "Okay," he said, his voice high pitched. "That... makes sense. Totally." He cleared his throat as he pointed toward the doorway. "I'm just... gonna leave now, Dabi. I guess. Thank you for saving me?" He started to make his way to the door, arm at a ninety degree angle backward to make sure he didn't run into the wall as he continued looking at Dabi. "Yeah, thanks for saving me. I think. Not really sure how I actually feel at the moment, so... bye?" 

"Hey, wait a minute," Dabi called. 

Midoriya flinched and froze as the man came closer to him. He was having a bit of trouble comprehending everything that was happening at the moment. First there was a random stranger who knew his name and wanted to kill him, and then there was Dabi randomly appearing, and then there was his random explanation of glitches or whatever... 

He was really struggling to keep up. 

Midoriya tried not to shiver in fear when Dabi came really close to him. And then, without warning, the taller man pulled him close to his chest and wrapped his arms around him. 

It felt... warm. And safe. Dabi was emitting a lot more heat than the normal body would, and it eased his muscles like butter. He had that faint smoky smell that always clung to him, but it was different than usual—before, Dabi also had smelled of a faint caramel mixture. Probably the shampoo that he was required to use. But now, instead, he smelled of pine and dew, if that was possible. 

It was a little weird too. Dabi wasn't a huggy person, but when he did it before, Midoriya had only reached his lower chest. Now, his forehead made it to the curve of his shoulder. 

"I want you to remember this, Daizō," he said quietly. "You may be tasked with saving Class 1-A, but that doesn't mean you can't reach out for help, too." He released the hug, which seemed too soon, and looked him in the eye. "It's okay to put you first. Your life means just as much as everyone else's." His eyes softened fractionally as he flicked his forehead. Midoriya flinched. "And you don't have to wear those silly contacts either. I like your eye color." 

Midoriya stared at him. He opened his mouth to ask something, but he blinked and Dabi was gone. 

Midoriya held a hand up to his chest as he looked away, pondering over what he had said. 

He... didn't really have any idea what to think about it. 

Sighing, he turned away and pulled the door open. He squinted at the overhead lights in the hallway, which had to be eight times more bright than the ones in the bathroom. Ignoring the sweat that trickled down his neck, he put on a face of peacefulness, ignoring the fact that he just met one of his old... acquaintances from eight hundred years into the future. 

His brain was starting to really hurt. 

=====

Todoroki sighed as their class all settled down into their respective seats on the bus. Well, most of their class. There were a few of his classmates that had gone home early, though at first glance, Todoroki couldn't tell who. 

Todoroki was sitting beside Midoriya, who looked... like he was struggling to comprehend the world. He was half tempted to ask him why, but he decided that he would be better off leaving him to figure it out for himself. If Midoriya was confused, he didn't want to know what it was. It'd probably blow his brains out. 

Asui sat on Midoriya's other side. Uraraka sat across from them, as did Yaoyorozu and Jirou. Tokoyami, Shouji, and Kouda took up seats around them. Todoroki stopped putting names to faces after that. Maybe it was because he was still struggling to think about what he wanted to expect from himself from now on. 

Luckily, or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it, conversation struck up around him, easing him away from his thoughts. He listened intently as they talked about their performances in the Sports Festival, some complaining that they were knocked out too early while others were upset that they didn't do better. 

"I think we can all agree that Midoriya and Todoroki's battle took the cake, though," Kirishima said. "That was intense."

"I don't know," Uraraka said, "Yaoyorozu and Bakugo's battle was pretty good too." 

Yaoyorozu smiled. "Don't put yourself down so much. You fought well against him too." 

Midoriya hummed in agreement. "Yeah. I actually thought you'd beat him, Ochako." 

Kaminari smirked. "Already calling one another by first names, huh? I smell romance in the air," he teased. 

Midoriya suddenly gained a very apathetic expression. "I'm forty-three percent sure that I'm aromantic." 

"Forty-three seems pretty low to me," Tokoyami said dryly. 

Midoriya's cheeks flushed as a red tick mark appeared at the corner of his head. It was obvious he was flustered at being called out for it. "Shut up, I was at sixty-three percent at the beginning of the year! It's not my fault our entire class is made up of hot people!" 

Satou, who was taking a sip of water from a canister, spat his water back out. Jirou choked on her own spit, sending herself into a coughing fit. Tokoyami's feathers fluffed up slightly as his eyes widened. 

"Honestly, same," Ashido said as she ran a hand through her short hair. "Everyone here has some sort of attractive feature and I really don't know how to think about it." 

Hagakure waved her arms around. "I'll be completely honest, Yaoyorozu made me question my sexuality." 

"Oh thank god," Jirou said as she held a hand over her heart, finally over her fit. "I thought I was the only one." 

Asui held a finger to her chin. "Did Todoroki turn you back straight, kero?" 

Uraraka interrupted before Hagakure could say anything. "Todoroki, promise me you'll be a model if this hero thing doesn't work out for you." 

The male in question seemed to be slightly uncomfortable at the statements directed toward him. 

Kaminari laughed as he pointed toward the back of the bus. "You know, Bakugo would be a pretty good model if he wasn't so angry-looking all the time. He has the looks, and if it weren't for the crap personality, he'd have girls all over him." 

"What the fuck did you say!?" Bakugo shouted as he leapt up from his chair. 

Kirishima waved his hands around complacently. "Kaminari, please stop teasing Bakugo all the time..." 

Midoriya looked around at the chaos before holding his hands over his head. "What have I done," he groaned. "How did we even get from talking about the sports festival to this." 

Asui keroed. "Speaking of the sports festival, I have a question for you, Midorichan." 

Midoriya glanced up at her. He seemed mildly surprised. "Ask away." 

Asui seemed to hesitate. "I always speak my mind. And I am quite curious—you didn't use your quirk at all at the beginning of the year, which leads me to believe you didn't use it often, and yet you have such a fine control over it. How is that even possible?" 

Todoroki paused as he thought about it. That... did make sense. And why was Midoriya so hesitant to use his quirk? He also didn't use the heat side of his abilities until today, which was odd. 

Todoroki pursed his lips as a thought suddenly struck him. Has Midoriya been forced to train with his quirk? He glanced over at the boy, who was currently tying his hair up in a messy ponytail, his eyes glassed over with thought. Is that why he's so good at controlling it?

"I... don't know how to answer that," Midoriya admitted. He ran a few fingers through his bangs, which were getting long and hanging in front of his eyes. "I mean, my quirk's biggest flaws are its backlash when the chains are destroyed and how you have to always be in contact with metal." His brows furrowed. "But in all honesty, power output isn't really that hard on my body. It's when I have to control individual chains that make it really difficult. It's easier on me when I move all of them in the same general direction." 

Satou leaned forward in his chair. "Don't answer this if it's too forward, but why exactly did you not want to use your quirk in the first place?" 

Todoroki felt it in the air—a shift in energy. The previous lightheartedness was gone, and the atmosphere was tense. He saw Aizawa shift in his seat ever so slightly from the corner of his eye. 

Surprisingly, Midoriya was not the first to reply. 

"He doesn't have to answer shit." 

Todoroki blinked and turned his head so he was facing the owner of the voice, who was none other than Bakugo himself. The boy had the beginnings of a snarl on his face, and his eyes were swimming with untold emotion. 

Midoriya flinched, though Todoroki noted that he seemed just as surprised as everyone else was. "Ah," he started, clearing his throat awkwardly. "Well, I mean... I appreciate it, Bakugo, but... " He seemed to struggle over what he was trying to say. "It's just- how do I say this..." 

"Bakugo's right, if you don't want to say anything, you don't have to," Yaoyorozu said carefully. "If you do, that's a different thing entirely. But you shouldn't be pressured into it." 

Midoriya shrugged. "It's not... really bad or anything." Todoroki caught the slight lilt in his voice. Lie? "I just... had an aunt with the exact same quirk, and she wasn't... all right in the head, I guess." He tapped his temple meaningfully, and Asui tilted her head. 

"Are you scared of your quirk because she did something wrong with hers?" she questioned. 

Midoriya winced and leaned back in his chair. "I... guess you could say that, yeah." 

Kaminari leaned over toward him and shot him a thumbs up. "Well, I think that it's really cool that you pushed past that to do good, you know?" 

Midoriya's face flushed before he sunk into his scarf and mumbled several unintelligible things. It would be nice to understand him, but Todoroki was overwhelmed with the thick accent that Midoriya suddenly layered onto his words. He could barely make out what he was even trying to say. 

Heck, it even sounded like he was speaking in an entirely different language. 

=====

If anyone is uncomfortable with the above passage relating to sexuality, I want you to know that I had this conversation with my friends (who are all as straight as a pole.) I know that it seems like I'm heavily hinting toward them having different sexualities, but this is conversation I've had as a teen even though my friends were (as I've already stated) not bi or gay or any other thing but straight. Teens will say things they do not mean, and as such, this is not me projecting sexualities onto my characters. If you want to imagine them being said sexuality, that is also fine, and I'm not saying you can't do that. But to those who might assume that I am trying to do this, I'm not making it "law" in this storyline. What kind of sexuality they take after is totally up to your interpretation.

I'm sorry, I panic when I see paragraphs that might trigger some people so... here you go. 

=====

The first thing that Midoriya did when he got home was hide Juni in his scarf and go to his favorite cafe, the one he met Yaoyorozu at. Of course, this was after Kayama's permission, who gave it to him tentatively—he could see that she was eyeing him for any of his injuries. She made him promise that he'd save a seat for her, and that he could go early only if he called her immediately if something seemed wrong. He sat at the smallest table outside, the one shaded from the sun by the simple tree that sat next to it. The same woman from years ago came up to him with a smile on her face, and her eyes brightened when she saw him. 

"Ah, if it isn't my favorite customer," she said as she placed a menu in front of him. "It's been a while, huh? I saw you on TV today." 

Midoriya shot her a smile. "Hope I didn't freak you out. And yeah, I really should stop by here more often. Maybe I'll bring a few friends." 

"Oh, you didn't do nothing. And please do, I'd love to see them. It'd be good for business." She winked at him before whipping out her notepad. "Now, anything specific you want to drink or eat?" 

Midoriya hummed. "I think I'm in the mood to be spoiled." He blinked, and then his menu was suddenly gone from his fingertips. 

"Sure thing hun!" the woman said as she twirled the laminated paper in her hands. He really should learn her name. "I have a new surprise special I'd love for you to try." She placed a small palm-sized plate onto the table, and she laughed as Juni poked her head out from the folds of his scarf. "For you, mademoiselle." 

Midoriya shook his head. "Spoil her any further, and she'll think she's a princess," he mumbled under his breath. The woman apparently heard, because she burst into laughter as she twirled on her heel and back into the restaurant.

Midoriya sighed as she disappeared into the building. He stretched his arms high over his head, wincing as his sore muscles burned at the stretch. He was starting to feel a little better, though he was sure that he would fall asleep the minute he flopped into bed. Recovery Girl had healed him right before he left, and he could feel the exhaustion seep deep into his bones. He hoped that Kayama wouldn't mind if he went straight to bed after this. He didn't know how tolerant she was of it. 

Before long, Midoriya managed to spy Kayama. She was wearing form-fitting jeans and a simple blue t-shirt that