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Jade Lightning

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"Even without a quirk, can I still be a hero, like you?"

 

Midoriya Izuku, a quirkless teenager with seemingly no other special skills other than hero analysis, almost couldn't comprehend how the situation turned out like this. He had a really shitty day, no thanks in part to his childhood friend-turned-bully, Bakugou Katsuki, telling him to end his life if he so desperately wanted a quirk. Then, he was almost killed by a sludge villain on his way home.

 

Just when he thought that his life was coming to an end anyway, his childhood idol, the number one hero in the country, All Might, came to his rescue. What should have been the end of that did not, as in desperation, Midoriya latched onto the hero's leg as he took off into the air, throwing his life into a second near-death experience in less than five minutes.

 

For both of their safety, All Might landed on the roof of a building in the downtown core, and to Midoriya's shock, deflated into his true, emaciated form as Toshinori Yagi. Shock aside, realizing that he might never get another chance like this again, Midoriya asked the number one hero the question that has been plaguing him since his diagnosis as 'quirkless'.

 

The answer that came would forever alter his life.

 

"I'm sorry kiddo, you can't be a hero without a quirk."

 

You can't be…a hero…without a quirk…

 

You can't...without…quirk

 

You can't…

 

You can't…

 

You can't…

 

Those dreaded words, said with pity, repeated themselves over and over in Midoriya's head, long after he excused himself from All Might's presence and left the building. His own childhood idol, the Symbol of Peace whom he had looked up to ever since he was a toddler, had destroyed his dreams, with such audacious pity that it made Midoriya nauseous, although that could also be attributed to the loud, heaving sobs that wracked him when he numbly found himself at a small park and sat himself down on a bench.

 

It would have been heart-wrenching for anyone to hear such sobs, and indeed it was. For Midoriya, the world had collapsed all around him. The one hope that he had for his dream had been severed. There was nothing left. All Might was just another figure, part of a long line of people who had shown him pity, or worse, disgust, for not having a quirk.

 

There were three that stood out in prominence.

 

" I'm sorry, but with the extra toe-joint, it's irrefutable that Izuku would never have a quirk."

 

That was his family doctor, stoic and professional, diagnosing him as quirkless.

 

" I'm so sorry, Izuku!"

 

That was his mother, the only family he had left after his father left without a word, breaking down in tears when he, amidst his own tears, asked futilely if he could be a hero like All Might after that fateful medical appointment. He still remembered his mother embracing him as they both cried in his darkened bedroom, the only light coming from the computer screen featuring a smiling All Might.

 

" If you're so desperate for a quirk, useless Deku, go and take a leap of faith off the roof. Hopefully, you'll get a quirk in your next life!"

 

That was Kacchan, or Bakugou Katsuki. Childhood friend-turned-bully. The explosive blonde had been the source of many more insults and physical attacks, those of which Midoriya had already forgotten in an attempt to numb the pain of daily life. But those two sentences, spoken just hours before with such cruelty that it was almost impossible to believe that a human could possess such levels of malice, remained crystal clear in Midoriya's head.

 

And now, All Might had joined the list.

 

Pain. Unbearable, agonising pain. That was what Midoriya felt now. He was bleeding out, emotionally, as if he had been stabbed a thousand times and left to die. Indeed, he felt like he was dying, everything that meant his very existence had been destroyed. There was nothing left to help him become the person he wanted to be. He was just Deku. Useless, quirkless Deku.

 

Amidst his sobs, a scream retches out of his throat as his emotional casket explodes. It dies away into more hiccupped sobs, as the rush of emotion ebbs away, leaving behind an empty void never to be filled again.

 

Slowly, the sobs too fade away as the green-haired teen ran out of tears to cry. He sits for a while more, heaving deeply to replenish the oxygen that he had been slowly depriving his lungs of from his sobs. Only when his breathing stabilises, does Midoriya attempt to stand back up. He wavers, his legs numb from the lack of movement. Once he steadies, he looks up to the sky.

 

What should have been the blue sky of the early evening with a smattering of yellows and orange from the setting sun was instead an ominous dark grey. The wind was picking up, as the clouds seem to roll above the teen. A thunderstorm was coming, courtesy of a quick flash of light amidst the clouds, followed closely by a low rumble.

 

Midoriya felt a strange crackling in the air, his curly locks unknowingly rising and standing on end.

 

'Gosh…I better get back before I-'

 

He was unable to finish that thought, for all of a sudden, there was a flash of blinding light.

 

And then…pain.

 

Midoriya felt his entire body seize up, followed by an ear-splitting scream. He didn't know it at that moment, but that scream was ringing from his own mouth. All he could see was white – a glaring, blinding white light. The pain was excruciating; it was like as if a thousand knives were stabbing at every inch of his body. Every nerve ending seared as if they were on fire, just as physical fire began to erupt from the seams of his gakuran and the tips of his hair. Midoriya felt his heart go haywire, beating faster and erratically, as his lungs felt like they were going to implode.

 

It was an eternity of agony, when it had happened almost instantaneously, and ended just as quickly. Time appeared to slow, amidst unbearable pain.

 

Suddenly, the white light vanished, leaving behind a vision of blurred, merging shapes and colours.

 

Then came the seemingly slow descent towards the ground.

 

Midoriya felt many things as he keeled over. He felt his lungs collapse and his breathing fade. An incessant ringing in his ears. His vision becoming blurrier and darker. The small flames that singed his hair and uniform. The leftover pain that still coursed through his fried nerves. His heart reaching breaking point, pulse fluctuating madly, before it slowed, and…stopped.

 

That was also the same moment his body hit the ground with a dull 'thud'.

 

And not a moment later, came the rain. First a droplet, then two, and then three, followed by more. Within seconds, a deluge of water poured from the heavens, splattering on Midoriya's body, now riddled with Lichtenberg scars running all over, criss-crossing and branching all over, from throughout his face to the tips of his fingers. The small flames that singed his hair and clothes fizzled out, defenceless against the watery onslaught.

 

There he laid, prone against the rain, unnoticed by anyone as they rushed for shelter underneath umbrellas, newspapers or bags. A minute passes, and there was another rumble of thunder.

 

Followed by another flash of light.

 

Midoriya's body involuntarily jerked as a second bolt of lightning struck him, directly over his silent heart. Thunder followed, almost instantaneously, with a deafening crash and roar.

 

The noise faded, but the bolts of electricity from the second strike didn't.

 

It crackled wildly within him, centring on a certain spot in between his lungs, where a dull mass of energy laid. Sparking with the currents, the mass glowed, losing its dull shade for brightness. The electricity then shot towards his heart, before spreading along the silent arteries and veins of his body. Every organ, muscle, bone, nerve and tendon were all enveloped by the electricity. Midoriya's brain, the last remaining organ to have not yet shut down from the fatal first strike, was the last to be taken over by the crackling bolts.

 

All the while, green bolts of electricity pulsed and crackled all over his prone form, the Lichtenberg scars glowing a jade-green colour, starting from over his heart, traveling along and ending at the tips of his fingers and toes.

 

The electricity inside of him continued to pulse, getting fiercer over his heart, body, and mind. His chest started rising and falling slowly, oxygen steadily returning into his system.

 

Then, all of a sudden…

 

…Midoriya's eyelids snapped open, revealing blank, dull eyes.

 

The irises were no longer their forest-green colour. Instead, like the light pulsing along his scars, they were a jade-green. A vibrant, beautiful colour, but at the same time, de-saturated and faded. As if there, but at the same time, not quite there.

 

Still crackling with green electricity and glowing jade from his scars, Midoriya slowly picked himself up from the wet ground. He stepped over to where his bag lay, abandoned and drenched, picked it up, and slung it over his shoulder.

 

And, with the rain still pouring down around him in torrents, Midoriya sauntered out of the park, as if he hadn't been struck dead by lightning and revived by the same force of nature less than a few minutes ago.

 


 

 

Midoriya finally reached his apartment block. Heaven knows how much longer he took to make the journey thanks to the rain and given the fact he sauntered all the way. During that time, he was struck by lightning again, no less than five times.

 

But these strikes were different. Far different.

 

Midoriya felt nothing whenever the lightning hit his body. Maybe the electricity coursing over his exposed skin and singed gakuran and seeping into his body, but no pain or anything uncomfortable.

 

Alright, feeling the electricity being absorbed into his body was something he was unfamiliar with, but it wasn't bad per se. It was just unusual, but not unpleasant.

 

Midoriya finally reached the front door. He pressed the doorbell, inadvertently draining the battery of its voltage into his system as he pulled his finger away, cutting the chime off halfway.

 

He waited impassively as hurried footsteps raced for the door. It was quickly pulled open by his frantic mother, Inko.

 

"Izuku! Oh my goodness! Where were you?! I tried calling you multiple times, and the storm outside was so ferocious, and-"

 

Inko's words died in her mouth, as she finally noticed the scars on her son, glowing green. Her eyes widened.

 

"I-Izuku…w-what happened…to you…?"

 

The teen replied stoically as he raised a hand, crackling with green electricity, "Honestly…I don't know. But Mom…this feeling…"

 

There was a beat of silence, raising the tension.

 

"…I've never…felt so alive, Mom."

 


 

 

To Be Continued.

Chapter Text

Midoriya Inko was worried.

 

It was a quarter to five. Her son should have been home more than an hour ago. But there was no sound of the door bell ringing, no shouts of “Mom, I’m home!”. And even if her son was going to be late coming home, he would have called her immediately. But no calls came, and all calls to her son’s phone went unanswered.

 

Furthermore, the sky had turned ominous by mid-afternoon, with the occasional flash and rumble in the distance. While Inko was sure Izuku had an umbrella in his backpack, that didn’t stop the worry that continued to eat at her the longer time passed, with no sign of her son returning home evident.

 

When it began to rain heavily, and the lightning and thunder getting stronger, Inko had half a mind to call the police to report her son’s disappearance. But she stood fast to her belief that Izuku is capable of taking care of himself, and was making his way home as she marinated her worries.

 

The doorbell suddenly ringing snapped the tension within Inko. She rushed for the door, not registering that the chime cut itself off before it could finish.

 

Quickly peeking through the peep-hole, Inko felt her heart settle seeing her son standing outside. She threw the door open, meeting a soaking-wet Izuku.

 

“Izuku! Oh my goodness! Where were you?! I tried calling you multiple times, and the storm outside was so ferocious, and-”

 

Then, Inko noticed the glowing green Lichtenberg scars running all over her son’s face. Her words died in her mouth.

 

She stared in shock, ““I-Izuku…w-what happened…to you…?”

 

Inko watched her son raise a hand, green bolts of electricity crackling and running up and down from his fingers and lower arm.

 

“Honestly…I don’t know. But Mom…this feeling…”

 

Her son trailed off, while her own eyes trailed over his singed gakuran and hair, both drenched from the rain.

 

“…I’ve never…felt so alive, Mom.”

 


 

Midoriya could tell his appearance short-circuited his mother’s brain. He didn’t blame her; he was just as unclear as she was. But nothing was going to get cleared up if they were going to just stare at one another, unmoving, not doing anything.

 

“Mom…I’m soaked. Let me shower first, I’ll explain what happened afterwards.”

 

Still stunned by the proceedings, Inko could only silently nod, moving out of the way to let her son enter the apartment.

 

Midoriya sauntered towards the bathroom, leaving Inko behind and a trail of wet footprints, each crackling with a tiny bolt of electricity. Several moments passed, before the cogs in Inko’s brain started working again.

 

“I think…I’ll make a cup of tea for Izuku…and myself.”

 

Her mind set, Inko hurried to the kitchen to get the kettle going. However, just as she started the stove and placed the kettle on the ring, there was a loud boom. Inko jumped away from the stove on instinct. The loud noise was followed by something metallic banging against something, then what sounded like electricity going off.

 

And then, the kitchen – no, the entire apartment, plunged into darkness, the fire in the stove ring extinguishing itself at the same time.

 

Momentarily stunned by the sudden loss of power, Inko quickly reached for the drawers, rummaging through them for a torchlight. Finding one, she turned it on, a single beam of light piercing the darkness.

 

“Sorry.”

 

Inko spun around, aiming the torchlight at the monotonous voice. Against the beam of light, stood her son, dripping wet, scars still glowing over his exposed body, electric bolts crackling like nobody’s business, and a towel wrapped around his private areas.

 

“Should have known taking a shower while still pulsing with electricity was a bad idea.”

 


 

Once Midoriya had dried off, put on some fresh clothes, given rubber kitchen gloves to wear as precautionary protection by his mother, and the electrician called to come down and fix the blown up fuse box, mother and son sat in the living room, still without power, the only source of light coming from the window, where the rain still poured beyond.

 

A few moments passed in silence.

 

“Izuku…what happened?”

 

Midoriya glanced at his mother stoically, her irises reflecting the low light from the window. He could see all kinds of emotions in those forest-green pools – worry, fear, confusion being the main ones.

 

“Let me start from the beginning, Mom.”

 

Midoriya recounted everything, starting with the attack from the sludge villain (which horrified Inko), All Might rescuing him (here, Inko was surprised that her son’s idol had saved him), his second near-death experience clinging onto the number one hero’s leg as he took off into the air (this horrified Inko, again), and All Might telling him that he couldn’t be a hero without a quirk.

 

Hearing this, Inko’s expression fell, her eyes becoming watery, “Izuku…I’m so, so sorry…”

 

Nonplussed, Midoriya continued, “There’s more.”

 

Wiping away the tears in her eyes, Inko listened as her son carried on. She was left speechless with horror when Midoriya described getting struck by lightning after retreating to a park to cry, recounting the unbearable pain and the surreal feeling of his body shutting down, one organ after the other.

 

“Then…how were you revived, Izuku?”

 

“I think I was struck by a second bolt,” Midoriya replied, “I felt the impact, but it was…different. I felt the electricity seep into my body. Something opened up inside me, and then, everything began to lighten. Suddenly, I could breathe again…and then my eyes opened.”

 

A moment of silence followed. Only the rain pouring outside provided some ambience.

 

“How do you feel…now?”

 

“Honestly…I feel normal,” Midoriya replied, “Like the electricity has become a part of me. I can’t control it…but it’s there.”

 

Again, silence followed. Inko, in all honesty, had no idea how to go about this. Her son had just been killed, then resurrected, and now possessed what could be electric or lightning quirk. Things happened one after the other, so quickly. It left her no chance to make head or tail of things.

 

“I think…we should go see a specialist,” Inko suggested, “Maybe we can find some answers from them.”

 

“If that works,” Midoriya shrugged, “But what about the electrician?”

 

“He can only come tomorrow,” his mother replied, “Let’s go, dear.”

 

Inko got up from the sofa, her son following immediately. Suddenly, the teen stopped.

 

“Actually Mom, there’s something I need to say.”

 

“You can tell me as we go, dear,” Inko replied as she grabbed her purse, “What is it about?”

 

Here, Midoriya hesitated, eyes glancing downwards for a moment. Steeling himself, he continued, “It’s about Kac- I mean, it’s about Bakugou.”

  


 

 

It was a miracle that Midoriya and his mother were able to get to the hospital in one piece.

 

Why? Because while on the road, Midoriya spilled the beans on all of the bullying, insults, physical abuse and ostracising he was forced to endure for the past ten years at the hands of his former childhood playmate and his lackeys, all because he was quirkless. He even confessed how Bakugou told him to kill himself if he so desperately wanted a quirk.

 

His mother, expectedly, flew into a shocked outrage.

 

In part due to the rain, they had several near-accidents when Inko’s disbelief and fury made her almost lose control of the wheel. Would-be collisions, rear-ends, and side-swipes with other vehicles, trees, lamp posts, pedestrians and the like were barely avoided as the car swerved and braked through the wet streets.

 

Midoriya was able to talk his mother down from an interrogation until they got to the hospital, which ensured their safe arrival.

 

Now, after registering, mother and son sat in the half-filled waiting room. And the expected interrogation, albeit hushed since they were in a public place, began.

 

“How long has this been going on?”

 

“Since the diagnosis that I was quirkless, Mom.”

 

“Didn’t you tell anyone? A teacher?”

 

“I tried. Nobody listened. Nobody cared.”

 

 

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

Here, Midoriya hesitated. His brow furrowed slightly.

 

“I didn’t wish to be a further burden.”

 

It was a clichéd answer, when victims of bullying are asked why didn’t they go to their parents or adult figures for help. But Inko understood it just as well as any other reason. Things hadn’t been smooth since her husband walked out on them when her son was diagnosed as quirkless. Between raising her son and working to keep them afloat financially, she couldn’t be there for him all the time. Furthermore, Midoriya had always been an independent child, always wanting to take control of the situation himself without any help. It made sense that Midoriya kept this terrible secret hidden for so many years. But at the same time, it broke Inko’s heart to hear of the pain her son had to go through alone.

 

“I’m so sorry, Izuku. I wish I could have been there for you more often.”

 

“It’s not your fault Mom. The world isn’t perfect. We can’t have everything that we want.”

 

Hearing her son speaking in such calm tones temporarily abated the barely-repressed urge to storm to the Bakugou household and literally tear apart that piece of explosive shit for harming her son for so long. Brutal revenge aside though, the main priority was her son, and how they were to go about the current situation.

 

The number on an overhead LED screen flashed Midoriya’s number slip. The door to the specialist’s office opened. A middle-aged man with receding hair poked his head out into the room.

 

“Midoriya-san?”

 

Mother and son got up from their seats. The specialist opened the door wider, letting them in and closing the door behind them.

 

“Now, what seems to be the matter?”

 

Inko needed no further prompting, “My son appeared to have developed a quirk quite suddenly.”

 

“Really?” the specialist, a Dr. Kajikura, started writing on a pad as he turned to Midoriya, “How old are you?”

 

“Fifteen.”

 

“That’s extremely late,” Dr. Kajikura remarked, “Could you tell me what happened?”

 

Midoriya repeated the story, save for the emotional bits. The more he recounted, the higher Dr. Kajikura’s eyebrows rose. By the time he had finished, the good doctor was left completely floored.

 

“Remarkable, extremely remarkable.”

 

“What is it, Kajikura-san?” Inko asked.

 

“By all accounts, your son should have been dead. But instead, he is alive and well, and the lightning has given a quirk through external means.”

 

“Has this happened before?”

 

“Yes, but extremely rarely. There have been a few recorded cases of people getting their quirks from external circumstances rather than the usual manifestation at the average age of four. But these are usually man-made events. Your son could be the first case where the external manifestation is from nature itself. This, Midoriya-san, is unprecedented, and if I have your consent, I would like to perform a few tests with your son to determine the nature of his quirk.”

 

Inko hesitated, glancing at her son, who just shrugged nonchalantly.

 

“Alright, you have my consent.”

 

What followed was a series of practical and medical tests to determine the nature of Midoriya’s new quirk. The practical tests were…painful, not for Midoriya, but for Dr. Kajikura, as the teen had no control of his new quirk when the gloves came off. However, it was the medical scans that provided the most shock. After nearly electrocuting the doctor over a dozen times, Midoriya underwent a full-body x-ray scan, which left Dr. Kajikura stumped. Further tests like pulse measurement and reflex gauging exacerbated the man’s bewilderment.

 

“I’m at a loss for words, Midoriya-san.”

 

“What did you find?”

 

“Your son…is living off electricity.”

 

There was a beat of silence.

 

“Living off…electricity?” Inko repeated.

 

“Yes,” Dr. Kajikura nodded, “The x-ray scan showed the inside of your son’s body to be completely filled with electrical currents. As you can see here,” the doctor pressed some keys on the keyboard attached to a screen, which popped up a video feed of Midoriya’s insides, “the currents are running throughout his body.”

 

“But what has this got to do with Izuku living off this electricity?” asked Inko.

 

“This is where things venture into the unheard of,” Dr. Kajikura zoomed in on one of Midoriya’s arteries, “you can see the red blood cells moving as they would normally do, if you ignore the smaller bolts of electricity coursing through as well, but…” he zoomed out and focused on Midoriya’s heart, “as you can see…your son’s heart is not beating.”

 

 

 

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“Your son’s heart is completely still. No pulse, whatsoever. In normal circumstances, he should have been dead. But it appears as if the currents are acting like a pacemaker, manually taking over the function of his heart. My guesses are that all of his other bodily functions, like breathing, and even his mental functions,” here Dr. Kajikura moved to the feed of Midoriya’s brain, which was completely enveloped in crackling electricity, “are also being stimulated by the electricity.”

 

Something clicked in Inko’s mind, and she paled slightly.

 

“So…you’re saying…”

 

A grim look flashed over the good doctor’s face, “Your son will need to be careful. Although I am uncertain of the odds, if the electricity within your son’s body were to run out, be it from quirk overuse or other means, his body would have no means of support to stay functioning, and he could die.”

 

Utter silence.

 

“How can we prevent this?” Inko asked, with a hint of desperation.

 

“Short term-wise,” Dr. Kajikura replied, “Your son will need to have a constant supply of electricity or a voltage source to replenish any electricity that he uses. However, that is not viable long-term. At the same time, if we can look at this…”

 

The doctor moved the feed downwards to over Midoriya’s chest. He pointed to an area in between his lungs, where it appeared to contain a glowing solid of energy where a good chunk of the electric bolts appeared to be coalescing within, before spreading out to the rest of his body.

 

“The scan was just barely able to pick it up. Judging from how the electric bolts are behaving, I believe this is the core where all the electricity is sourced. Now, we have had cases where a core is central to a person’s quirk. Unfortunately, no two cores are the same, so we don't know much about them. The only defining characteristic that applies to all cores is that the more it is built, the stronger it becomes. I think in this case, building up the core is the only long-term plan to ensure your son’s survival.”

 


 

The car ride home was a sombre one. It was still raining, although the lightning and thunder appeared to have ceased. Traffic had gotten worse with the wet weather and the evening rush home, reduced to slow-moving congestions with horns blaring constantly.

 

In contrast, all was silent with Midoriya and his mother. The older woman drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, while the teen stared off into space, glancing downwards.

 

Dr. Kajikura’s words hung heavily on them both. He had spoken about other things about what the electricity had done to Midoriya’s body. But those paled in significance to the fact that the teen’s body was now running literally on nothing but electrical currents.

 

Inko, naturally, was in the midst of an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand, she was ecstatic that her son finally had a quirk to call his own. However, that joy was overshadowed by the worry that her son’s life now depends on electricity, fear of what would happen should that electricity run out, and the underlying anger at a certain Bakugou Katsuki for being the catalyst for this entire debacle.

 

Midoriya, on the other hand, was in deep thought. He was definitely unnerved that he was basically running on a finite reserve, like a human battery. But the notion itself didn’t scare or intimidate him. On the contrary, it fascinated him that he resembled Frankenstein’s monster in terms of function, using electricity to come alive.

 

But unlike Frankenstein’s monster, this electricity was now his to possess. He still had no idea how to control it, but wasn’t that a possibility that could open so many doors for him? He could imagine, how much he could do if he bend the electric currents keeping him alive into an immense power?

 

Could…could he be a hero now, then? Was the possibility now within reach?

 

And yet, Midoriya felt something was not quite right. He couldn’t put his finger on it, the feeling of unsettled emotion that was out of place amongst his rationalised thoughts.

 

Midoriya looked up, and did a double take.

 

The suburb they were driving through was unfamiliar. This was clearly not the way home.

 

“Mom? Where are we?”

 

“We’re going to see Auntie Mitsuki,” Inko replied, eyes never turning away from the road, “I need to have a word with her about Katsuki.”

 

Ah…so that’s what it was. That’s what was unsettling him.

 

Midoriya stayed silent for several moments, before turning to his mother.

 

“Mom, pull over.”

 

The car stopped. The rain continued to pour outside, hitting the windscreen and getting swept away from the wipers.

 

“What’s the matter, Izuku?”

 

“There’s no need to make a scene there, Mom. Let’s go home.”

 

“What are you talking about? What Katsuki did is beyond reprehensible. He shouldn’t be allowed to continue going about unpunished like this,” Inko countered with a mixture of surprise and annoyance.

 

“I know, I’m not refuting that,” Midoriya countered stoically, “But I have a different approach to this, and I wish for you to hear me out, Mom.”

 

Inko went silent, waiting to hear her son’s reasoning.

 

“Bakugou is the kind of egotistical arsehole who does not get affected by scoldings or rebukes,” the teen explained, looking out of the windscreen, “Getting Aunt Mitsuki or yourself to scream at him will not do anything. He is so convinced that he is right, that he will never believe that he could be wrong. No, what is needed to punch a hole through his thick skull is something even more traumatic.”

 

Midoriya turned back to his mother.

 

“Earlier today, he told me to kill myself if I wanted a quirk. I’ve decided, I’ll give him what he wants.”

 

Inko’s eyes widened.

 

“I-Izuku, you c-can’t mean-”

 

“Not in that sense, Mom,” Midoriya interrupted, “But first, can I ask you…”

 

Relieved her son was not going to do anything rash, Inko waited for his question.

 

“…what was your maiden name before you got married?”

 


 

 

To Be Continued.

 


 

 

 

Chapter Text

The rain lasted through the night, only stopping with the dawn of the new day, a Saturday. But the sky remained grey and ominous, casting a sombre gloom over the suburbs. Midoriya got up as he normally would, but he knew this Saturday was far different from past weekends.

 

Change was the in the air. The status quo was about to be shaken up.

 

Breakfast was a standard affair. But what should have been an entire day filing through blogs, videos and social media following heroes and jotting furiously into notebooks, Midoriya had places to be.

 

First, his middle school.

 

It was admittedly a bit strange to see how empty the school was during the weekend, save for the administration staff who came in for a half-day of work. Yet that little detail had no hold on the green-haired teen, who with his mother, had a last-minute appointment with the school’s principal concerning his enrolment.

 

Basically speaking, Midoriya was pulling out of school.

 

The meeting was short and impersonal. Save for a question about his scars from the principal, for which Midoriya quite pointedly replied, “Considering how you never bothered to ensure students like me are safe from bullying and ostracising, I find it quite surprising that you bothered to take an interest in my wellbeing just as I am planning to pull out of your God-forsaken school”, which pretty much summed up the entire purpose of their visit, no further questions were asked. Midoriya’s name was removed from the school’s database, and he was officially no longer a student.

 

Leaving behind a rather scandalised principal, mother and son left and went on to their second destination, the citizens’ registrar office. Two hours later, Midoriya emerged with a new legal identity.

 

Akatani Mikumo

 

Quirk: Green Lightning

 

“Akatani” was his mother’s maiden name, and “Mikumo” came from a moment of inspiration sparked from a stock image of a thunderstorm over a turbulent ocean that randomly popped up with an online ad the night before.

 

The process was swift and efficient, as with his withdrawal from his former school. And Akatani left the office with a new ID card and passport.

 

But as with tropes, a new name must come with a new look. So it was to the hair salon after lunch. There, forest-green gave way to a royal-purple, and one hair-dyeing procedure later, Akatani returned home a different person.

 

Now, he could get to planning.

 


 

 

There were three main priorities on Akatani’s list.

 

One, learn to control his quirk and expand on its uses. Two, build up his body strength, stamina and agility. And three, pass the U.A. entrance exam.

 

And he had ten months to accomplish all three.

 

Akatani devised a simple timetable to organise his plan for the entrance exam. Three days, he would research on the abilities of electric-quirk users, hero and villain; find out how to build up his core, apply theoretical knowledge into practice, and hone up until both his quirk and core become second-nature and an inseparable part of him. The remaining four days, exercise and workout, hard.

 

His theoretical study commenced the moment he came home from the salon. He holed up in his room, listing down the names of every hero, pro and underground, and known villains who possessed electric-type quirks or quirks of a similar nature. After dinner, he went back to those names, and broke down and analysed the properties, strengths, weaknesses and application of their quirks, organising his notes into notebooks dedicated to common details.

 

It was long past midnight when he finally convinced himself to go to bed.

 

The next day saw Akatani make a trip down to the local library, bag filled with empty notebooks and a holder bursting to the brim with pens and mechanical pencils. He spent the entire day within the air-conditioned reading rooms, going through book after book on the history of quirks, research studies on electric-type quirks, and informational books on various martial arts, offensive and defensive styles, and how to combine one’s quirk with one’s fighting skills.

 

Akatani was, unfortunately, forced to leave when the library closed for the night. But that didn’t mean he was going home empty-handed. He loaned out the ten books he hadn’t been able to cover during the day, and went home with a much heavier bag.

 

While it certainly was a struggle for Akatani’s scrawny frame, it did make him think about the best places for him to work out and build his muscle mass. Gym memberships were expensive investments, and he didn’t want to add another financial burden on his mother.

 

So what could he do?

 

The bus Akatani was on took a left turn. He looked out the window. And the answer was right there, rushing past him.

 

A beach.

 

Well…if one was being generous. And decided to ignore the fact that it resembled more of a landfill with mountains of garbage than a beach.

 

But for Akatani, this was the perfect place.

 

The bus passed a moss-covered, weather-beaten wooden sign. Dagobah Municipal Beach Park. He’d better take note of the name, Akatani thought to himself.

 

For the day after next, he’ll be back.

 


 

But before he could take on Dagobah beach, there was one more important thing Akatani had to begin focusing on.

 

His core.

 

It was the very reason why he was alive today. It was therefore imperative that he find out everything he could about quirk cores, for not just his future, but also for his very survival.

 

Several of the books he brought back from the library were on quirk cores – or, whatever recorded information anyone has about cores, beyond what Dr. Kajikura had already mentioned.

 

One book told of a legend that the first-ever quirk user had a core. Another listed the individuals who were said to possess cores, and what great (or terrible) deeds they went on to make. A lot of theories overlapped, supported or refuted one another. Some cores were benign and gentle, others were more violent and volatile. But there was widespread agreement on one thing – there was occasionally a core that gave its host an almost divine-like power. The sheer magnitude of such power was unimaginable to most, only described through the actions of the person who wielded them.

 

But while this knowledge was good and all, what Akatani was looking for was information on how to control his core, integrate its power into his body and quirk, and be able to call upon it at will.

 

That came from the last book in the pile, covers littered with crease lines and pages yellowed with time. Akatani began reading.

 

The first exercise involved having first contact with one’s core. Without this starting point, establishing a connection with it would be next to impossible.

 

Easier said than done though, since the instructions merely said, “Open your heart, open your soul. Be one with what defines you. First contact with your core will be within reach”.

 

And when one gets vague instructions, you get a lot of failed attempts.

 

Akatani tried all manner of means to open his heart and soul. Sitting in a lotus position, sitting in a lotus position under the running showerhead, lying down on his bed with eyes closed, lying prone with eyes closed, standing dead straight with even breathing. All he felt was darkness, discomfort, mattress and getting drenched. Nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

‘I’m doing this wrong,’ he thought to himself as he stared up at his bedroom ceiling, ‘But what is it?’

 

Seconds ticked by. Birds chirped outside the bedroom window. Akatani raised a hand over his face. A crackle of jade-green electricity bolted across his arm to his fingertips, before disappearing.

 

 

 

 

Maybe?

 

It was worth a shot.

 

Akatani relaxed his entire body as he laid back against the mattress. He closed his eyes, evened out his breathing, and tried to visualise the electricity coursing through him.

 

For several minutes, nothing happened. But Akatani persisted.

 

Finally, after fifteen minutes of darkness, a small crackle of jade-green electricity dances across the void.

 

Akatani mentally cheered, before relaxing himself again. He had to repeat it, multiple times, until he got the hang of it. He tried again. The same crackle of electricity manifested itself again. He kept going, trying to expand the mental connection. Slowly, a second crackle joined the first, then a third, then a fourth. Akatani kept pushing, and eventually, the entire void was teeming with crackles of electricity, big and small. The field of electrical power seem to expand bigger and bigger, until suddenly...

 

…it went supernova.

  


 

 

For an undetermined amount of time, all Akatani could see was white. It persisted even when he opened his eyes. His room had vanished, only white as far as his eyes could see.

 

Akatani realised he was lying on a hard surface, though it appeared to be nothing, just white. He slowly picked himself up, and tried to orient himself with this unfamiliar realm he had just entered.

 

‘What is this place?’

 

He took a step forward, feeling the hard surface underneath. Then another step. He was soon walking, but to where, he didn’t know. He knew he was moving, but his surroundings remained the same, white all around, uninterrupted.

 

Akatani didn’t know how long he walked. But suddenly, he stopped.

 

Something, in the distance, interrupted the vast white.

 

It looked like a green dot.

 

Akatani sped up his steps. The closer he got, the bigger it became. At a close enough distance, he could make out what it was.

 

It appeared to be a sphere made out of some clear, gelatinous-like substance. It was enveloped in a field of jade-green, cracking electricity, sparkling underneath it. It hovered at about Akatani’s chest level, unmoving.

 

There was no doubt about it. This was his core.

 

Akatani was enthralled by the sheer beauty of it. He reached out to his core, wanting to touch it…

 

…only for the sphere to start trembling, the electric currents crackling sharply.

 

Akatani pulled his hand back, just as the sphere began shaking wildly, and the electric currents shooting out in all directions. There was a bright flash, and then…

 

…his eyes flew open, and he was back in his room again.

 

For several moments, he laid still on his bed, breathing hard from the rush that was now slowly leaving him like water flowing down the drain. He glanced about, checking to see if he was really back in the real world, before summoning the energy to sit up.

 

He turned to the instructional book, lying idly on the floor beside his bed. Akatani picked it up, and flipped to the next exercise.

 

First contact will be volatile. Unfamiliarity remains dominant. Practice makes perfect, so too will the connection become.

 

 

 

 

“Well, looks like I have another reason to head down to Dagobah beach tomorrow.”

 


 

 

The sun hadn’t even begun to rise over the horizon into the new day, but already, a lone figure had gotten off the first bus at the stop closest to Dagobah beach.

 

In the silence of the early morning, Akatani hurried towards the polluted beach, backpack filled with packets of rubbish bags and rope. The sound of waves crashing against the shore and mountains of garbage greeted him as he arrived, seagulls cawing overhead.

 

The teen stared at the years of accumulated waste and pollution in front of him. This was going to be a herculean task, even more so since he only had ten months to clean up the entire beach, and he wasn’t the strongest person on the block.

 

But if he wanted to get into U.A., he had to do it.

 

Sliding his backpack off, Akatani pulled out the first packet of rubbish bags. It was time to get to work.

 

He started off with the piles furthest away from the water. Now, it would have been child’s play to pick out the objects that were small and light. But Akatani wanted to test out a technique he learnt from his research.

 

Electro-telekinesis, or the ability to pull objects to him using his electrical currents.

 

Many attempts followed, all unsuccessful. Sometimes, nothing came forth. Other times, only a crackle appeared. And a few times, the burst of electricity threw him backwards, but otherwise did nothing to the garbage. Akatani groaned, occasionally of pain, but he picked himself up after each failed attempt. He had to get this to work.

 

But Akatani wasn’t stupid, or foolhardy. He knew that something was not quite right yet, as he resorted to manually picking up the smaller objects and tossing them into the rubbish bag. Thinking back to the day before, and his failed attempt to connect with his core, he came to conclusion that just like his core, his quirk itself was volatile and unstable. He had to continually use it to get a firm grasp of it, and perhaps along the way, he’ll fully integrate himself with his core.

 

As he set off for home at mid-afternoon, putting away three filled rubbish bags by the collection point, Akatani made a slight change in his schedule.

 

He would devote a half-day to mental and emotional building, cutting back on his workout and cleaning days by the same amount.

 


 

A week later, at last, there was some progress.

 

Akatani’s continuous practice has strengthened his control of his electricity to pick up small and lightweight objects, similar to how his mother’s quirk worked. This advancement had also allowed for him to finally make contact with his core, albeit for only a single second. Nonetheless, it was a small victory, to feel the smooth and crackling surface of his core for that moment.

 

It spurned him further, to become even better.

 

As the days progressed, changes were made to his workout and cleaning routine. Instead of taking the bus, Akatani jogged to Dagobah beach from his home and back. On the second week, a public gym opened two streets away from his home. Akatani would spend two days out of the three and a half days dedicated to physical activity there, following a strict workout regiment he created from researching on the Internet. The remaining time he would spend at Dagobah, moving onto bigger and heavier pieces of junk to clear away.

 

Of course, Akatani wasn’t able to come home completely unscathed all the time.

 

When handling piles of rubbish that were at least twice his height, accidents were bound to happen. From unstable pieces of junk to small avalanches, Akatani had been lucky to come away with only bruises and scratches so far. But unless he planned for a way to dodge falling objects, it was only a matter of time before he would be risking serious injury or even death.

 

And he would have gotten to that point, had his instincts not unlocked another of his abilities in the moment of danger.

 

Akatani was busy moving a broken rack out of a pile when suddenly, he heard things falling and bouncing off one another. He looked up, and almost shit his pants.

 

The pile had become top heavy, the weaker base giving way and crumbling under the weight of the top. Another avalanche was happening, only this time, heavy objects like broken electronics and large-sized items were raining towards him.

 

Akatani felt his entire body seize up, seeing imminent death hurtling towards him. But just as he was about to be crushed from the falling trash…

 

…he felt his feet leave the ground.

 

There was an immense crash as the junk landed onto the beach one after the other. Akatani watched the sand get kicked up in clouds as the rumble echoed out into the coast, followed by the sand-clouds as they billowed out from the impact spot before dying back down, all from hovering several feet above the water, the lower half of his body enveloped in a sparking aura of green electric bolts.

 

 

 

 

Huh.

 

This should be interesting, Akatani thought to himself nonchalantly.

 


 

The weeks bled into months, and many changes were taking place.

 

Dagobah beach was slowly, but surely, being cleaned up. The piles of trash slowly diminished as they disappeared, one by one, opening up the beach a little more with each passing day.

 

Akatani was, by now, noticing the changes months of hard work had done to him. A combination of working out, jogging, pushing, pulling, dragging and lifting trash of all sizes away has built his once scrawny form into defined, strong muscles. Once impossible to lift objects were now as easy to carry as if they were made of air. His stamina and agility had also vastly improved, honed from countless runs from home to the beach and back, dodging falling junk, and practicing martial arts moves at both the beach and the public gym. He let his hair grow out, letting his fringe fall over the right side of his face and tying up the back into a ponytail.

 

He had also made significant advancements with his quirk. The months saw the improvement of Akatani’s current abilities and the unlocking of new ones. He was now able to blow things apart with his electric bolts (though that is currently only limited to soft items like cotton or fabric, hard items like metals were still being practiced), manipulate the force and frequency of electrical attacks (from short bursts to long sweeps), craft his electricity into shapes (Akatani figured a ball shape would be a good attack technique), and he was in the process of working out how to send his electricity to attack a wider area than just in one direction and how to form shields with it, alongside using his electricity to fly, absorbing electricity from lightning strikes and power sources and reining it in so he didn’t give others a nasty shock.

 

But there was also one downside to this period of hard work and determination. Namely, Akatani’s emotions and socialisation.

 

The past months saw him having any meaningful conversation with only one person – his mother. Akatani saw no need for him to socialise with anyone else. After all, didn’t no one want to have anything to do with him because he was quirkless? And even though he had a quirk, why bother wasting time socialising when the U.A. entrance exam was a bigger priority?

 

It may have been mostly logic, with a hint of pettiness, but Akatani closed himself off socially from the world. In turn, his emotions stagnated and froze over, his heart grew cold, and his aura turned distant and unapproachable.

 

But even if Akatani knew he was turning into an ice king, he didn’t give two hoots about it. All he cared about was cleaning up Dagobah, and getting into U.A.

 

Finally, after months of arduous effort and back-breaking work, and only three days before the entrance exam, he was done.

 


 

Akatani moved the last piece of junk, a broken refrigerator, to the trash collection point, just as the sun began to peak over the horizon. Tossing it onto the small pile of trash already there, he wiped the sweat from his brow and turned back towards the beach.

 

It was beautiful.

 

Light glistened against the calm surface of the water, changing shape with the waves as they rolled and splashed onto the shore. The sand sparkled under the same light like diamonds, amidst a vast plain of a light gold. The air smelled of spray and sea salt, no more of the rotting, putrid, foul odours from years of accumulated pollution. This was nature’s creation at its finest, with nothing human to disrupt its beauty.

 

Akatani hopped off the the pavement, sliding down to the sand. It felt clean now, unmarred by the filth that once piled high in this place. He stepped out halfway between the small slope and the water’s edge, gazing silently out into the horizon as the sun continued its rise into the new day.

 

He sat down onto the sand, eyes never leaving the sunrise. He felt…accomplished, elated that he had reached his goal of cleaning up the beach.

 

But he was also tired.

 

He had gotten up in the early hours, when it was still dark, to get to the beach and clear away the last vestiges of garbage in time for the sunrise. Call him dramatic or sentimental, but Akatani wanted to catch the first rays of sunlight dawn upon the beach in its new, clean state, something that had never happened since the last time the beach was cleaned up.

 

He just wanted some scenery, so sue him.

 

Beautiful view or not, Akatani was exhausted. Feeling a bit off-kilter, he laid back onto the sand. No sooner had he felt the shifting granules beneath him, he was out like the light.

 

For several moments, all was still. Then, came a relatively big wave. It crashed onto the shore, racing towards Akatani and splashing over him completely. As the wave receded, a single crackle of electricity jumped from his navel into the centre of his chest where his core lay, followed by another one from his right arm, and another.

 

Within seconds, his form was completely enveloped by crackling electricity, as the world seemed to fade away.

 


 

 

Akatani woke up.

 

Immediately, he knew he was in the mystical plain where his core resided. But there was one crucial difference.

 

All around him, where it should have been white, was filled with crackling bolts of his electricity. And they all appeared to be converging on one single spot.

 

His core.

 

This time, Akatani made no delay as he got up, and followed the direction the electricity was crackling towards. Just as it had been in all the previous times he had travelled into this realm, the sphere that was his core was in the same spot. Only this time, all of the electric currents were converging into a bigger, spherical field around it.

 

He felt completely familiar with the situation. He had lost count already, but at least once a day, he would slide into this plain, and try to bond with his core over and over again.

 

It had been slow-going, but over time, his core had stopped shying away from him and propelling him back into the mortal realm. The connection allowed became longer, and Akatani had been able to hold it in his hands long enough to try and move it, but until now, that was all he was able to do before he was kicked out.

 

Now, after honing his skills and strength for a full ten months, he hoped it was enough for the core to accept him and bond with him completely.

 

Slowly, Akatani reached forward. His hands gingerly passed through the electrical field, and cupped the spherical shape of his core. Just like always, it felt smooth, like he was holding a crystal ball. So far, everything’s fine.

 

Then, he carefully retracted his hands, pulling the sphere out of the field. It phased through with no sudden movements. Once it had cleared through, Akatani hesitated, expecting to get thrown out of the realm, but nothing happened.

 

Releasing a relieved sigh, Akatani stared at the glistening sphere in his hands, and brought it into his chest. The moment it touched his skin, it started to glow.

 

Startled, Akatani almost dropped the sphere, as it, on it’s own accord, phased into his chest. The moment the sphere disappeared into him, the realm started to shift.

 

The empty spherical field where the core once resided appeared to collapse into itself, before bursting out in several different directions as individual electrical currents. They danced around wildly, before converging onto Akatani’s chest, on the exact same spot where the core had phased through earlier.

 

The teen had no time to react, as the build-up of energy exploded in another supernova, tearing the realm apart in a flash of white.

 


 

Meanwhile, the sleeping residents near Dagobah beach were rudely shaken from their slumber, as a powerful burst of electricity exploded from a point on the beach and spread outwards in all directions in a shockwave of disruptive chaos.

 

For several miles inland, fuse boxes exploded, electrical fixtures shattered, appliances hooked up to outlets burst into flames, wires melted, and whole systems like traffic lights went into overload and shut down. For the same radius out into the ocean, any undersea life swimming too close to the surface was electrocuted and killed, their smouldering bodies floating to the surface and becoming the breakfast of thrilled seagulls.

 

The shockwave dissipated, only for mayhem to take over. Smoke alarms went off, confused shouts and screams echoed as power to much of the district went down.

 

Back at the beach, oblivious to the chaos he’d just caused, Akatani opened his eyes, once again breathing hard as the rush from seconds prior receded with the ocean’s waves.

 

Slowly, he picked himself up. Still dripping wet, he stared down at his hands. If what happened back in the realm meant anything…

 

Akatani willed electricity to appear over his hands and arms. Almost immediately, the scars running along his arms glowed green, and crackles of electricity ran up and down the length. He then raised his arms out towards the ocean, compressing the electricity into balls, and on will, fired them out into the horizon.

 

Watching the balls of electricity disappear into the distance, Akatani glanced back down on his hands and arms, still glowing and crackling with electricity.

 

His lips twitched upwards the tiniest bit.

 

He was heading for U.A.

 


 

 

To Be Continued.

 


 

 

 

Chapter Text

The final three days before the entrance exam were spent going over notes and trying to calm his nerves. Akatani might have become ice-cold and unapproachable, but even he wasn’t immune to the pre-exam jitters, as least inwardly.

 

His mother, on the other hand, had no qualms against showing her own jitters, as she fretted over her son continuously, doing whatever was needed to ensure he was ready to take on the exam.

 

Jitters or not, the day of the entrance exam came, and mother and son were having one last conversation before departure.

 

“Just do your best, Mikumo,” said Inko, “I’m confident you’ll pass. And I’ll be proud of you, no matter the outcome, okay?”

 

“Okay, okāsan,” Akatani nodded, “Thank you for your support, I’ll do my best.”

 

They shared one last hug, and with that, Akatani was off.

 


 

The train ride to U.A. station was a quiet affair. Akatani kept his still-quivering nerves down by wiping his mind blank, envisioning a white plain as it appeared in the realm where he bonded with his core.

 

It was when he alighted at the station, and came within view of the towering campus of U.A. High School, that Akatani allowed a tiny bit of awe to seep into his empty emotional state.

 

The colossal buildings that rose over the boundary walls glistened in the sunlight, standing proudly over the surrounding district. Students from all walks of life in different uniforms dotted the gates, waving to one another, chatting, or heading inside either alone or with friends.

 

Akatani gazed upon the towering buildings for just a moment longer. Releasing a sigh, he joined the students heading inside.

 

Until, as he casually glanced back, he noticed a familiar spiky-haired, explosive blonde trudging a few paces behind him.

 

Bakugou.

 

It had been ten months since Akatani saw his former childhood friend. Bakugou still looked the same, perhaps a bit taller, but still the snarling, brash, foul-mouthed bully he had always been for the past decade.

 

It made Akatani’s stomach curdle in disgust, seeing the blonde. Bad memories threatened to flood his clean emotional state. He had to turn away, lest he lose control of his electricity and electrocute everyone along the path.

 

Glancing down, Akatani noticed something innocuous.

 

A broken piece of stonework from the path, large enough to slip someone up if they weren’t careful.

 

 

 

 

Why not.

 

Akatani waited for Bakugou to get close enough. Then, discretely, acting like it was a total coincidence, he kicked the broken piece of stone directly into the blonde’s path, the smooth side in contact with the path. Not a moment later, Bakugou stepped on the stone, his foot sliding forward with the it. And with a surprised yell, the blonde pitched backwards, and fell onto his bum with a loud thud, followed closely by two small explosions when his hands smacked against the stonework path.

 

Screams echoed. People jumped away in fright. Others turned around at the sound of the commotion.

 

Akatani was at the base of the steps leading up to the doors when he heard the explosions. Turning back, he got a good look at the confused expression on his bully’s face, staring dumbly ahead. He had to shove his fist in his mouth to stop himself from laughing. That became a lot harder when the surprised look turned into a snarling death-glare, prompting those close enough to the blonde to flinch away.

 

“WHO THE FUCK TRIPPED ME?!”

 

Cue another set of explosions, and the onlookers stepped away further. Except for one brown-haired girl, who went up to Bakugou, hand outstretched.

 

“Hey, are you okay? Do you need help getting up?”

 

Bakugou took one look at the concerned expression on the girl’s face, before his explosive ire was turned on her. The girl shrieked as the blonde let rip another explosion at her, singing her jacket as she stumbled back.

 

“Like hell I need your help, Round Face!”

 

Just like that, the urge to laugh died on Akatani, replaced by a sigh of exasperation. Bakugou really had not changed one bit.

 

The purple-haired teen watched the blonde pick himself up, shout a “Move it, fucking busybodies!” at the stunned onlookers, and storm his way up towards the doors, not even noticing Akatani standing by the side watching him with withering look. And he wasn’t the only one. Confusion had given way to glares, sneers and disgust among the students who had witnessed the debacle. A few had turned to the brown-haired girl, asking if she was okay or needed to see a doctor. Akatani heard her reassure them that she was fine, but there undoubtedly hurt in her voice.

 

He could only feel sorry for Bakugou, and the path his current attitude was going to push him towards. But that’s if he could, for Akatani had no emotional capacity for sympathy for the explosive blonde in the first place.

 

Turning away from the aftermath, Akatani pushed a door open, and stepped into the campus proper to find the room where the written exam was to take place.

 


 

Two hours later, Akatani emerged from the classroom-turned examination venue a little bit worse for the wear mentally. While he hadn’t received any nasty surprises when the written exam commenced, that didn’t mean that he had a breeze-through with the paper. With everything from open-ended questions to trick ones that sent his brain into a whirl, Akatani got quite the mental workout during those two hours.

 

He would say that he definitely will pass this part of the exam, but wondering how he did was thrown into the backburner when his stomach growled, and he was reminded that he still had the practical exam to take.

 

And so, Akatani joined the flow of candidates staying on for their practical to the U.A. cafeteria for lunch break.

 

A babble of noise greeted the purple-haired teen as he entered the cafeteria. Most of the tables were already taken, and the stalls had long queues snaking backwards by several feet. Akatani got into line, and waited.

 

As he inched forward, he silently listened in on the conversations overlapping one another in the queue and the surrounding room. He picked up snatches of discussions about the written paper, whether how easy or difficult it was, and on a different note, what they would have to face in the practical exam.

 

He heard some think its robots, others thought of holographic villains. One outlandish claim Akatani heard as he neared the stall was the U.A. staff were going to act as villains and they will need to take them down in order to pass it.

 

Whether it was robots or masquerading teachers, Akatani gave little thought to the speculation, ordering a katsudon upon his turn and walking away with tray holding his lunch.

 

Now came the task of finding a place to eat.

 

Although many tables had at least one empty seat, being the ice king he had become, Akatani wanted a private spot for him to eat his lunch in peace.

 

Snaking through the crowded cafeteria, he spotted an empty two-seat table next to a window. He makes a beeline for it, quickly claims the table by setting his tray down onto it, and sitting down himself.

 

As he dug into his katsudon, Akatani observed his surroundings. There were a couple of stragglers like him eating alone, like him. But most were sitting in pairs, trios or quartets, either quietly eating or rambunctiously chatting and laughing at the same time.

 

Akatani never knew what it must have felt like to eat with friends, something he could thank Bakugou for. In his current cold emotional state, he saw interacting with others beyond what is necessary to get the job done as pointless. It was tiresome, sapping away at one’s energy to find the right things to say and keep a conversation going, and to avoid stepping on an awkward landmine.

 

Yeah…he’d rather be alone.

 

But even still, deep down in his heart, where a tiny part of Midoriya Izuku still existed, he wondered what it would be like to have someone to chat with over lunch.

 

“Hey, may I sit here?”

 

 

 

 

He just had to go and jinx himself, didn’t he?

 

Akatani glanced at the person who had just approached his table. It was a teenage boy, slightly taller than him at full height. He had a head of short blonde hair with a tint of orange mixed in, with a black streak that resembled a bolt of lightning running across his left side-fringe. He had matching coloured eyes, and small eyebrows.

 

“I hope you don’t mind, all of the other tables are full,” the teen grinned a little nervously.

 

Akatani moved his glance away from the blonde to the rest of the cafeteria. There were some tables that had one seat empty, but most were full. Now, Akatani might have turned into a frosty ice king, but he still had manners. He wasn’t going to stoop down to Bakugou’s level and tell the blonde to shove off.

 

“Sure.”

 

Akatani figured that as long as the blonde didn’t try to initiate a conversation with him, things will be just peachy.

 

“So, you here for the heroics practical too?”

 

No such luck.

 

Pausing mid-chew, Akatani glanced at the blonde teen across from him, waiting expectedly for an answer.

 

“Mm.”

 

“Not much of a talker, aren’t you?”

 

Akatani raised an eyebrow, feeling the first vestiges of irritation settle in his stomach.

 

“Anyway, I’m Kaminari Denki, by the way,” the teen introduced himself, “What’s your name?”

 

Here, Akatani spoke.

 

“Why do you want to know?”

 

Surprised by the cold response, Kaminari went on the defensive, “Hey man, no need to chew my head off! I was just curious!”

 

Akatani was unrepentant, “Curiosity killed the cat.”

 

“But satisfaction brought it back!” Kaminari countered with a cheeky grin.

 

Akatani felt his irritation growing, why couldn’t this Kaminari person just leave him alone? His patience wore thin with the blonde’s next question.

 

“Whoa, those are some really cool scars there, how did you get them?”

 

Akatani’s irritation exploded.

 

“Is it that difficult for you to let me eat my lunch in peace?” he growled, startling Kaminari.

 

“Hey man! What gives? I just wanted to get to know you better!”

 

“As it never occurred to you,” Akatani snapped, “that some people would prefer to go about their business without annoying pricks stick their noses into places where they don’t fucking have any business with?”

 

Although Kaminari rightfully should have felt insulted at being called a ‘prick’, for some reason, he wasn’t. In fact, it only fuelled his desire to get to know this ice king sitting across from him.

 

“But aren’t you working to be a pro hero? You’ll have to work with others to catch the baddies out there, you know?”

 

Akatani was unfazed, “I have no qualms against working with others towards a goal. But I draw the line at getting too personal with someone. One will only get hurt when they least expect it. I will not be like those sorry fools; I won’t let any backstabbers or superficial fakes hold me down.”

 

The sheer iciness in the purple-haired teen’s last sentence left Kaminari. A moment passes. Akatani snaps the blonde from his stupor by getting up, and taking his tray off from the table. He silently went to return his finished lunch, before making a beeline for the doors. There was to be a briefing in the auditorium before the practical exam, and Akatani took it as the perfect excuse to disappear.

 

Watching him leave the cafeteria, the cogs in Kaminari’s brain began working as he turned back to his lunch in thought. He might not be the brightest kid on the block, but he was able to spot a person who desperately needed a friend in their lives. Whoever this purple-haired teen was, he was in serious need of a friend, despite the seemingly impenetrable layers of ice encasing his heart.

 

As Kaminari continued his lunch (he didn’t want to be late for the briefing, after all), a new goal etched itself into his resolve.

 

Befriend the fuck out of that purple-haired ice king.

 


 

 

The briefing was, honestly, nothing much to go for it. The fact that it was being presented by the pro hero Yamada Hizashi, or Present Mic, made no difference for Akatani, who ten months prior as Midoriya, would have fanboyed at the fact that a pro hero was in the same room as him. Now, the purple-haired teen just listened impassively, as did virtually everyone else in the auditorium, as Present Mic explained the point system from the robots they were to face later on, and how attacking other candidates or other “unheroic actions” would result in immediate disqualification from the exam.

 

Hearing this, Akatani almost smirked. If anything, he thought, Bakugou was the likeliest to commit such “unheroic actions” given his attitude and personality. But realistically, even Akatani knew that the explosive blonde wouldn’t use his quirk on the other candidates just to get the highest score…

 

…unless said candidates were quirkless, that is.

 

The briefing was wrapped up, and the candidates were dismissed to go change into the clothes they intended to wear for the practical. For Akatani, it was a tracksuit with a forest-green top and royal-purple pants.

 

Then, they were transported to the different battle centres they had been assigned to for the exam.

 

Arriving at his assigned battle centre, Akatani could almost feel the tension and anticipation amongst the gathered candidates, which, to his momentary surprise, included Kaminari. Everyone here wanted to come out on top, to be accepted into the most prestigious hero academy in the country. Behind those towering gates, stood that chance, and everyone wanted to be the one who got that chance.

 

The gates opened with a rumble. The candidates readied themselves. Akatani vaguely heard Present Mic speaking in the background, but it came as inaudible jargon due to his focus on the task ahead. Though, he heard one word loud and clear.

 

“START!”

 

Akatani activated his quirk, and with a loud electric CRACK, took off into flight through the gates.

 

Leaving behind the other candidates reeling in the electrical aftershock, Akatani leaned upward, shooting towards the sky to calibrate his bearings.

 

The arena was made up of several city blocks in a grid system, with towering skyscrapers and buildings of various sizes.

 

Akatani looked around, ‘I’ve got to find a cluster of robots together. I don’t know how long I have until the others recover.’

 

Then, down below, along one of the smaller streets, he spots a group of two-points robots, moving about aimlessly.

 

Perfect.

 

Akatani swooped down, channelling his electricity into a ball between his palms. As he got close enough, and the robots finally noticing his incoming form, he forced the ball apart into volatile energy in an attack he dubbed 電界バースト, or ‘electric field blast’. This was one of his favourites.

 

He released the energy field at the robots, the electrical currents overriding and frying their mechanical systems, causing internal explosion. He flew away, leaving the smouldering robots to fall, earning him 10 points.

 

By now, he can hear noises and shouts from elsewhere in the arena. The other candidates have entered the arena. He needed to step up his game.

 

Soaring up into the air again, Akatani spotted a pair of three-pointer robots flying up towards him. Throwing his hands forward, he released a burst of high-powered, high-frequency bullets of electricity at the robots. The bullets pierced through the robots’ metal bodies, tearing apart their insides. Both fell to the ground, crashing into a high-rise building and taking out the top floors with them. That was 16 points.

 

Barely a moment later, Akatani heard something approaching him. A lone two-pointer robot was coming at him, with a deadly looking blade aimed straight at his head. Akatani forced his electricity into his own blade, and charged at the robot. With a powerful swing, he sliced off the robot’s blade, then cleaved it into two from the top down. Still sparking, the robot plummeted to the earth. Along the way, it crashed into a three-pointer that a candidate with a glowing red aura was about to take out, bumping his score to 21. The red-aura guy gave him a dirty look, at which he returned with a nonchalant shrug, before shooting off.

 

“7 more minutes! You’re doing great, listeners!”

 

‘I need to pick things up,’ Akatani thought to himself.

 

Shifting his electric blade into a whip, he shot off into another direction. Spotting a quartet of three-point robots that immediately came after him with machine-gun barrels, Akatani cracked his whip at them before they could fire at him. The robots were knocked away as if they weighed nothing. They were sent careening into a nearby building, crashing through the support columns. The building caved into itself, collapsing in a cloud of dust and rubble.

 

33 points.

 

Flying off to a small plaza, Akatani spotted a mix of one-point and two-point robots, twenty in total, gathered within the enclosed space. Touching down to the ground and hiding behind a tree, Akatani considered his next move.

 

Ah, got it. Another one of his favourites.

 

Dashing out from his hiding spot, Akatani crouched down. With his hands just hovering over the stonework floor of the plaza, he unleashed a wave of super-charged electric currents in a move he called 電気洪水, or ‘electric flood’. The wave caught the robots off-guard, electrocuting their systems and either combusting into flames or exploding into shrapnel.

 

Akatani did some mental calculations. He should be at 64 points now.

 

“4 minutes! Hurry hurry hurry, listeners!”

 

‘No rest for me then…’ Akatani remarked to himself.

 

Taking off into the air again, he pondered his next move. Looking down, he noticed a candidate with hair that appeared to be made of ribbons. She was so busy taking down a three-pointer robot, that she failed to notice a pair of robots, a one-pointer and two-pointer, creeping up towards her with gun barrels aimed at her.

 

His morals kicked in.

 

Swooping down behind the robots, Akatani created two long ropes of crackling electricity. He shot them at the robots, wrapping around them tightly. The ribbon-haired candidate turned around at the same time, just as Akatani yanked the ropes back, pulling the robots away from her. She watched in awe as he threw the robots up into the air, and straight into one another, crushing both.

 

67 points, plus 5 rescue points, totaling 72 points.

 

As the twisted and crumpled remains of both robots fell back down to the ground, both Akatani and the girl made eye-contact. A moment passes, Akatani gave her a small nod of acknowledgement, before shooting up into the air again with another loud CRACK, startling the girl out of her stupor.

 

Akatani spotted a lone three-pointer a moment later. As he decapitated the robot, he wondered why hadn’t there been any zero-pointer robots unleashed upon them yet.

 

 

 

 

What was it with him and jinxing the situation today?

 

The moment he touched back down on the ground to catch his breath, screams and shouts echoed all around as fellow candidates began running away from something. The thing was, what’s got them so frightened in the first place?

 

Akatani turned around.

 

Oh…fucking hell.

 

A gargantuan robot, with a large zero painted on its body, was rumbling towards the fleeing candidates. It towered over the buildings, blocking out the sun and casting its immense shadow over the street Akatani was on. Windows shattered as its appendages smashed through them, and roofs were knocked clean off the tops of buildings, sending debris raining down onto the street and the candidates.

 

Akatani stared at the advancing robot, in awe at its titanic size. Unlike his fellow candidates, he didn’t fear the hulking metallic monster coming to crush them all. In fact, he felt disgust towards the others for fleeing.

 

‘Cowards, all of them.’

 

“Your last two minutes, listeners!”

 

That was Present Mic’s voice, Akatani recognised. Then, came another one.

 

“Help…me…”

 

It was one he also recognised.

 

Looking straight ahead, he noticed someone under some rubble that had been knocked down earlier. It was the source of the cry.

 

And it was Kaminari.

 

The blonde was struggling to pull himself out of the rubble, but both of his legs were trapped. He couldn’t get away, and the robot was advancing forwards. Akatani’s heart nearly stopped, Kaminari was going to get crushed. The first person who willingly approached him and actually had a proper conversation, albeit mostly one-sided, with him was going to die.

 

A crackle of electricity struck his frozen heart. Akatani narrowed his eyes.

 

Not on his watch.

 


 

Kaminari, in all honesty, didn’t expect the situation to turn out like this.

 

He had tried every opportunity to approach the purple-haired ice king from lunch, looking for him during the briefing and when they were getting changed, but to no avail. He appeared to strike the jackpot when he realised that the ice king was assigned to the same battler centre as he was.

 

But just as he was about to approach him, the gates opened, Present Mic yelled “START”, and there was an explosion of electricity.

 

With his quirk composed of electricity as well, Kaminari wasn’t sent reeling like the other candidates. But he had been shocked, nonetheless, as he watched the ice king fly into the arena with a burst of electricity.

 

 

 

 

That settled it. He was going to catch up with this electric ice king, and get to know him.

 

While the others were still recovering from the electric aftershock, Kaminari dashed into the arena in pursuit of the purple-haired teen. But before he could figure out where he had gone to, the robots made their presence known.

 

Kaminari split his efforts between taking down as many robots as possible (without frying his own brain) and looking for the purple-haired teen. Many times, he would witness the latter unleashing attacks against robots, with a quirk that was similar to his own, if one were to multiply the strength and power by at least tenfold, and gave it a jade-green colour.

 

But before he could get close enough to call him out, the electric ice king would fly off to another direction, leaving behind him and smouldering, destroyed robots.

 

This happened frequently, and despite picking up a decent score for himself, Kaminari was frustrated. He just wanted to know the guy’s name, damn it!

 

Finally, after taking down a two-pointer robot, he spotted the ice king land a couple of paces in front. This was his chance! The first word was on his tongue…

 

…when suddenly, all hell broke loose.

 

There was a loud rumbling noise, then followed by a loud CRASH. Kaminari turned around, and nearly shit his pants.

 

A gargantuan zero-pointer robot was advancing towards them. It was destroying everything in its path, sending broken glass and debris raining down from the heavens. Kaminari forgot about his plan to call out to the ice king, and book it like the others.

 

But no sooner had he tried to move, he tripped over a piece of concrete, landing with a painful thud on the fake street. Less than a second later, something heavy fell onto his legs, exacerbating the pain he was already in.

 

Kaminari tried to pick himself up, but found that he couldn’t. Looking back, he reeled in horror, realising both his legs were crushed under a small pile of twisted metal and concrete. He was trapped. And the robot was still rumbling forward, towards him.

 

A single thought flashed in his mind. He was going to die.

 

But he didn’t want to die. He was still too young, a teenager. He never got to see the world, never to start a family of his own…never got to become a pro hero. No…he needed to live.

 

Kaminari strained against the concrete, but effort proved futile. As the robot got closer and more rubble came raining down, he realised he needed help, fast. He saw his chance when through the dust, he spotted the silhouette of a figure. Focusing his energy, he called out desperately,

 

“Help…me…”

 


 

Akatani had one more move in his arsenal, which he purposefully did not use except for in situations like this one. The reason being was that it took out a lot of energy from him, and despite bonding with his core, he was still surviving on electricity. If he used this move more than once consecutively, it would deplete his electricity to the point that his body wouldn’t be able to support itself. He could die.

 

But death from core depletion was far from Akatani’s train of thought. He only thought of saving Kaminari.

 

Akatani raised his hands, and through his will, starting absorbing any and all kinds of electrical energy from the surroundings. The sky above the arena actually appeared to distort, as static electricity was pulled from the clouds. The still sparking remnants of other robots had their remaining electric charge absorbed away. And any electrical systems that were in any of the still-intact buildings were drained of their voltage.

 

Akatani made sure not to drain any electricity from the other candidates if they had any. He was a cold ice king, not a heartless villain who preyed on the souls of innocents. And besides, with this much electrical energy coming from the arena, he didn’t need any human sources to pull this move off.

 

A move he dubbed “雷の神、ファイナルバースト” , or “God of Lightning, Final Burst”.

 

As electrical energy was pulled into his core, his form began to glow, as did his scars with a jade-green colour. He was ready. But first, he needed to get the robot’s attention.

 

Aiming one hand slightly away, Akatani fired a burst of electricity at the robot’s hand, which had been coming down to crush Kaminari, who looked ready to pass out from fear. The electricity paralysed the robot’s hand and arm. Attention distracted, it turned towards the source of the electrical attack.

 

Akatani and the robot made eye-contact. The teen’s eyes flashed.

 

“Surprise, motherfucker.”

 

Akatani unleashed all of the built-up electrical energy in one go at the robot.

 

There was a blinding flash of jade-green. Those candidates who had stopped to glance back shielded their eyes in pain. Kaminari did the same. The light dimmed a little, revealing a giant beam of crackling electrical bolts shooting from Akatani’s hands. The beam shot straight at the robot, piercing through it’s metal body like a hot knife to butter. The high voltage of the electrical currents short-circuited the robot’s mechanical systems, combusting the wires and other components as if they were made of paper. With so many parts combusting, added with the sheer intensity of the electric beam, all contained with a limited area of space, the build-up of energy within the robot’s body quickly became too great to be held back.

 

There was a moment of silence, and then…

 

BOOM!!!

 

Those who were in the centre that day remembered the moment as if a nuke had exploded overhead. The explosion tore apart the robot into shrapnel, sending pieces of wire and metal flying in all directions. Buildings and the street below became targets, as bits of tarmac, glass, concrete and steel were kicked up from impacts with the shrapnel. The shockwave that immediately followed was even more devastating. It raced in all directions like a tsunami, any surviving windows shattering and buildings, whole and damaged, had their supports blown away as if they were made of toothpicks. The resulting collapses rained even more projectiles of rubble down towards the candidates. Those who could still run did so, while others who could make shields covered themselves and others from the deadly downpour of destruction.

 

For the second time that day, Kaminari thought he was going to die. He was the closest to the robot when it exploded, so he felt the brunt of the shockwave. He could see the collapsing buildings, and the rubble falling everywhere. He tried to cover himself from any debris, but at the back of his mind, he knew it was futile. The rubble was still falling; some were going to land on him.

 

He was as good as dead.

 

But suddenly, he was snatched away from death’s cold clutches, as footsteps raced towards him, and a familiar voice reached his ringing ears.

 

“Kaminari! Keep your head down!”

The blonde felt the person crouch over him, protecting him from the falling debris. Glancing up, he noticed the figure lift their hand up. Crackles of jade-green electricity spider-webbed from their fingers, creating a dome that covered them both. He recognised the figure.

 

Then, came the impact.

 

Kaminari flinched as rubble came cascading onto the dome, crashing against it with loud thuds. He quickly realised, however, that the dome was holding up, protecting the both from the onslaught. But the other teen appeared to be straining themselves by this point, the dome appeared to flicker at several points.

 

He had to help.

 

Kaminari discretely raised his hand, and added his own electricity into the dome, creating a second layer that strengthened the protection against the falling rubble, which after several moments, began to subside.

 

Finally, after God knows how long, the rubble stopped falling. The dust clouds still hung around, but they weren’t in immediate threat of things falling on their heads any longer. They survived. They were alive.

 

“Time’s up! That’s all, listeners! You’ve completed the exam!”

 


 

Akatani ached all over. Just as he expected, 雷の神、ファイナルバースト took out a great deal from him. He thanked his lucky stars when the rubble stopped falling, it had been exhausting holding up the protective dome for so long. He appreciated Kaminari for helping him, he wasn’t sure if he could hold the dome any longer given his weakened state without his assistance.

 

As the dust started to clear, Akatani straightened up, and with some careful manoeuvring, he used some of his remaining electricity to push the concrete trapping Kaminari’s legs off.

 

“Can you walk?” he asked the blonde.

 

Kaminari, who was still a bit dazed at what had happened, merely nodded his head. Akatani, now feeling even more exhausted than before, slowly helped the blonde to his feet. Supporting the slightly taller teen by putting his arm over his shoulders, the pair slowly walked away from the epicentre of the explosion, as the dust finally subsided, revealing the extent of the damage.

 

It was near total destruction for several blocks in every direction. Where there had been buildings before, were now just piles of rubble, broken glass and twisted metal. The other candidates were in slightly better shape, nursing bruises, cuts, or broken bones from the falling debris. Many were staring at the smouldering crater where the zero-pointer robot had once stood, while also staring at Akatani in dumbstruck shock.

 

It was around the same time that Kaminari’s brain started working again. He turned to Akatani, asking a question that was literally everyone’s minds.

 

“Are you a god?”

 

Akatani turned to him, “No, I’m Akatani Mikumo…”

 

He was unable to say anymore, as his body gave out from the exhaustion. Kaminari was just able to stop Akatani’s limp form from smacking face-first into the ruined tarmac.

 

“Medic! We need a medic here!” the blonde shouted desperately.

 

His calls were answered when an elderly voice pierced the silence.

 

“Goodness me, what happened here? Is everyone okay?”

 

A petite old woman with grey hair tied into a bun, dressed in a doctor’s lab coat and using an oversized syringe as a walking stick, ambled up to the candidates. She planted a kiss on those who had injuries, which healed almost immediately, and gave out gummies to everyone, regardless of their physical states.

 

Kaminari, still holding up an unconscious Akatani, called out, “Recovery Girl! Please help!”

 

Said healing hero turned around, “My word, let’s have a look see…”

 

Approaching them, she examined Akatani’s lifeless form. Kaminari waited anxiously for her diagnosis, the other candidates also peering over at the scene, watching with anticipation. After several moments, she straightened, a serious expression on her aged face.

 

“It’s quirk overuse and exhaustion, but a serious case,” she remarked, “Young man, do you know his name?”

 

“Akatani,” Kaminari replied.

 

“I’ll have to take young Akatani to the infirmary for further observation,” Recovery Girl said, before tapping on the pink headset she wore, “Bring a stretcher to battle centre B, we have a casualty.”

 

Within seconds, a pair of medical robots came rushing in with the requested stretcher. Kaminari helped to lift Akatani onto the stretcher, before he was briefly checked over by Recovery Girl. She was about to depart with Akatani in tow, but Kaminari stopped her.

 

“Recovery Girl, wait. Can I come too? Akatani saved me earlier, I need to make sure he’ll be okay.”

 

The old woman pondered this, “Very well, you can come, so long as you don’t get in the way, am I clear?”

 

Kaminari quickly nodded, and hurried after his saviour and Recovery Girl out of the arena, leaving behind the other stunned candidates to slowly talk and wonder about the one who would be dubbed by them as the “God of Jade Lightning”.

 


 

 

To Be Continued.

 


 

Chapter Text

The candidates of battle centre B weren’t the only ones raving about the “God of Jade Lightning” who levelled a whole section of the arena just to rescue someone trapped under some rubble.

 

Some distance away, in a conference room deep inside the campus, the staff of U.A. were in serious discussion over what they had just witnessed.

 

And to say that they had been floored was the understatement of the century.

 

What had started out as impressed remarks at Akatani’s electric start and takedown of the robots turned into gobsmacked low-hanging jaws as the staff watched the teen singlehandedly obliterate the zero-pointer robot and level a significant portion of the arena to nothing but rubble, and come away from it with just a serious case of quirk overuse.

 

The stupor continued long after the exam concluded and the staff had gathered in the conference room to discuss the candidates’ performances and how many points each were to be given. Nobody said anything as Akatani’s exam footage was replayed on a holographic screen, much too stunned to even utter a word as they watched the purple-haired teen take down robots as if they were nothing, and concluding with his destructive finale in rescuing Kaminari Denki.

 

For several moments after the video ending, silence ensued. Only broken by the awed words of the 18+ Only Hero: Midnight, and Modern Hero Art History teacher, Kayama Nemuri, who echoed the thoughts of those who witnessed the event first-hand at battle centre B.

 

“Is the kid a god?”

 

Even if no one said anything in direct response, that was the general consensus of the gathered staff. The only ones who didn’t seem blown away by Akatani’s performance was the school principal, a humanoid hybrid animal (what kind is still a mystery to this day) by the name Nezu, who sported a thoughtful expression, and homeroom teacher of class 1-A, the underground pro hero Eraserhead, Aizawa Shouta, who seemed nonchalant with what he saw.

 

“Akatani-kun’s quirk is certainly unprecedented in its versatility and power,” Modern Literature teacher Ishiyama Ken, also known as Cementoss remarked, “And judging from how coordinated and steady he unleashes his attacks are, I’d say he’s very much in tune with his quirk.”

 

“No kidding!" Present Mic excitedly cut in, “But that explosion at the end though! I could hear and see it from the observation tower. If he really planned to pull it off, he might be really a god!”

 

“Yet Akatani-kun collapsed at the end,” 1-B homeroom teacher Vlad King, or Kan Sekijirou, commented, “The final attack must have consumed a lot of his power, which shows that it is not limitless.”

 

“Still,” Snipe added, “ya’ll gotta admit the kid’s hella god-like. That explosion should’ve killed him, but all he got away with was a serious case of quirk overuse.”

 

“But there is an issue there,” Ectoplasym noted, “While rescuing another candidate is certainly displaying heroic qualities, causing such extensive collateral damage will be devastating in a real life setting. I think it’s even a miracle no one else was severely injured or killed in that explosion.”

 

For the first time, Principal Nezu spoke, “While that is true, I think with the right guidance and training, young Akatani would be able to control the power of his quirk much more efficiently,” then he addressed the room as a whole, “Why don’t we all take a five-minute break to stretch our legs before we tally his score?”

 

Murmurs of agreement came from all sides, followed by chairs moving. Nezu waited for his staff to leave the conference room to do whatever they wished for the next five minutes, before turning to the other person who didn’t get up with the others.

 

This person was a bony figure, clad in a yellow suit that seemed almost too big and baggy for his skeletal form, and rather scraggy blond hair and shadowed eyes.

 

“What do you think, Toshinori?”

 

Toshinori had a thoughtful look, “He certainly has potential, but he already has a powerful quirk. I fear that if he were to take on One for All, his body will be unable to maintain the power of both quirks.”

 

Nezu drummed his paws together, “Do you have any alternatives?”

 

“There’s young Mirio,” Toshinori replied, “At the moment, he is the likeliest candidate.”

 

A few moments of silence follow, save for Nezu taking a sip of tea. Putting down the cup, he continued.

 

“Toshinori, I am concerned for you,” he said, “The reason I hired you was to protect you from the media getting wind of your limited time as All Might. Things will only get complicated if you don’t decide on your successor soon.”

 

The man in question sighed, “I know, Nezu, I know.”

 


 

 

Meanwhile, somewhere else in the U.A. campus, Kaminari was in the infirmary, keeping vigil over a still unconscious Akatani, now lying on a bed being monitored by Recovery Girl.

 

In all honesty, Kaminari felt a bit surreal gazing upon the lifeless, almost vulnerable form of his saviour, when not just an hour prior, said saviour had decimated a massive robot and a good portion of a fake city just to save him from an early death. Furthermore, that, and the peaceful look on the teen’s face stood in stark contrast to the cold, angry ice king that sat across from him in the cafeteria. Akatani could have just joined the others candidates in running away, leaving him to get crushed by the zero-pointer.

 

But he didn’t, and it both intrigued and confused the electric quirk user.

 

Kaminari wondered what was going through Akatani’s mind at the cafeteria and during the practical. The purple-haired teen was an enigma, a contradiction to his own actions. He was curious about the latter’s background and history. Obviously, something must have happened to shape Akatani into the ice king he was now. But Kaminari had no clue.

 

And that became another reason for him to befriend the purple-haired ice king. Kaminari wanted to understand Akatani’s thought processes, while thawing the latter’s frozen heart with friendship.

 

Kaminari momentarily moved his eyes away from his unconscious saviour towards Recovery Girl. She had previously been on the phone with someone whom he believed to be Akatani’s mother, and was now leafing through a clipboard while occasionally glancing at the purple-haired teen. That was the status quo for an amount of time for which Kaminari didn’t bother to check, only broken when the infirmary door opened, and in stepped a petite woman with forest-green hair tied in a ponytail.

 

“Please pardon my intrusion…”

 

Recovery Girl looked up from her papers, “Ah, are you Akatani-san?”

 

“Yes, I am,” Inko replied, closing the door behind her, “You must be Recovery Girl.”

 

“Indeed,” the healing pro-hero got to her feet, bowing respectfully.

 

“How’s my son?” Inko asked after returning the bow.

 

“He’s stable,” Recovery Girl replied, “He hasn’t woken up yet. A serious case of quirk overuse if I say so myself.”

 

“Well, Mikumo’s the kind to overwork himself if not supervised,” Inko sighed with a small smile, “May I see him?”

 

“He’s over here,” Recovery Girl gestured to the bed where the teen laid.

 

Inko nodded in thanks, and walked over towards her son. She immediately noticed Kaminari, who had gotten up.

 

“Oh, and who might you be?”

 

The blonde teen quickly responded with a bow, “I’m Kaminari Denki, Akatani-san. I was in the same battle centre as your son.”

 

“How did you two get acquainted?” asked Inko.

 

“We shared a table at lunch,” Kaminari replied, “And…he saved me during the practical exam.”

 

Inko’s eyebrows rose, “Saved you? Tell me, what happened?”

 

Kaminari was in the midst of giving Inko a rather detailed breakdown of what transpired during the practical, when Akatani’s eyelids flickered. His following grimace got everyone’s attention, as he tried to sit up and fell back onto the mattress in pain.

 

“God…someone kill me please.”

 

“Big mood, man,” Kaminari remarked, “Then again, you look like death warmed over.”

 

Akatani deadpanned at the cheeky blonde, ready to counter with a biting remark when he felt his mother’s presence beside him.

 

“How are you feeling, dear?”

 

“Like a truck ran over me,” Akatani groaned, “How did I get here?”

 

“You passed out at the battle centre,” Recovery Girl came forth, “Your friend supported you until a stretcher could be brought over.”

 

Akatani blinked at the word ‘friend’, before glancing over to Kaminari, who grinned and waved back.

 

“How long has it been?” the purple-haired teen asked, glancing back to Recovery Girl.

 

“Just more than an hour,” she replied, “For such a serious case of quirk overuse, you regained consciousness fairly quickly. From what I was told, you used a lot of energy saving your friend. I expected you to be out for several more hours at least, given the nature of your quirk.”

 

“I expected that,” Akatani commented, “That’s why I toned down the power output for that move. Any more than that and I would have depleted my electrical core completely.”

 

Recovery Girl nodded without further comment, while the opposite could be said for Kaminari, who appeared to have come to a horrifying realisation.

 

“Well, given that you’re awake now and functioning normally,” she continued, “I should be able to discharge after I cover a few things with your mother first.” She turned to Inko, “Akatani-san, if you don’t mind?”

 

“Not at all,” the forest-green haired woman dismissed quickly, pulling away from her son’s bedside to follow the healing-quirk heroine to her desk.

 

Left to their own devices, Kaminari turned to Akatani, “Dude…what happens when your electrical supply runs out?”

 

“Runs out?” Akatani raised an eyebrow as if it was obvious, “If my core depletes, I’ll die.”

 

Having his earlier guess confirmed only short-circuited Kaminari’s comprehension, made worse by the purple-haired teen’s nonchalant tone. His jaw fell open.

 

Akatani grimaces, “Kaminari, please close your mouth. Showing me the beginning of your oesophagus isn’t the most pleasant sight.”

 

Either the blonde ignored him, or most likely, was too shocked from the bombshell dropped into his brain to comply. Akatani sighed. With a low groan of pain, he reached forward, and manually closed Kaminari’s jaw. He laid back down against the pillow, with a slightly exasperated look.

 

“Why are you looking like as if I told you memes were all a lie?”

 

While he was slightly miffed at the insinuation of what keeps him going was nothing but lies, Kaminari was still too shell-shocked to do anything other than reply directly to Akatani’s question.

 

“That’s fucking insane man…”, he breathed, “Are you, like, running on electricity or something?”

 

Akatani shrugged, “I suppose I am.”

 

This did nothing to erase Kaminari’s floored look, “What the heck happened to you? Did you get struck by lightning and somehow gained your quirk that way?”

 

At this point, Akatani saw no other way around this conversation other than to spill the beans, “Technically. I was struck by lightning. Died. Struck again. Revived. And then gained my quirk.”

 

Silence followed. Kaminari stood frozen, jaw falling open again to accompany his wide eyes. Then, the silence was broken by a crackle of electricity flashing over the blonde’s head, followed by another, and then another. Akatani watched, with merely a raised eyebrow, as Kaminari appeared to literally short-circuit before his eyes, and crumple to the floor, still crackling with electricity.

 

Glancing down at his downed peer, Akatani called out in monotone, “Recovery Girl, we’ve got a casualty here.”

 


 

After reviving Kaminari and giving Akatani one last check-over, the healing-quirk heroine deemed them fit enough to be discharged. Leaving the infirmary behind, Kaminari stopped Akatani before they went on their separate ways.

 

“You got a phone?”

 

Akatani became slightly wary, “Yes…why?”

 

“We should swap numbers, obviously!” Kaminari replied.

 

“…why?”

 

“Hey, it’s not everyday that two people survive an exploding robot as a city crumbles to rubble around them while protecting each other. If that doesn’t move us to phone-number buddies, I don’t know what would!” Kaminari explained enthusiastically.

 

Akatani’s wariness did not abate. He was suspicious of people trying to get in too close to his personal bubble, thanks to a variety of reasons already mentioned. But…at the same time, he did save Kaminari when he could have run away from the zero-pointer robot, and Kaminari did stay by his side in the infirmary when he could have gone home.

 

In a way, the electric blonde was right. The robot forged the first vestiges of some kind of bond between the both of them. Perhaps…putting up with Kaminari’s presence may not be so bad.

 

“Okay.”

 

Kaminari’s resulting smile appeared to light up the hallway. Akatani fished out his phone, unlocked it, and passed it to the blonde. Several electronic pings later, both numbers were shared and safely stored in each other’s phone.

 

“Well, I got to get going. Your mom must be waiting for you too. We should catch up sometime, yeah?”

 

This time, there was no hesitation on Akatani’s part. He’d already swapped numbers, so no going back now, “Sure.”

 

Kaminari beamed, and with one final wave, dashed off down the hallway for the gates. Akatani, now alone, released a sigh, before making his way down the hallway himself, catching up with his mother for the journey home.

 


 

 

A week passes while the scores are tallied up and the final decisions of who is to be accepted and the rest rejected are made. In the meantime, Akatani continued his routine of building up his quirk, exercising and hero analysis. Despite not yet been accepted into U.A., he also delved into the first-year curriculum to get a head start once school started.

 

In between all this, Akatani maintained daily contact with Kaminari, through text messages and calls. To his surprise, he found that he rather enjoyed chatting with the electric blonde. It didn’t matter the topic, be it him attempting to calm down a rather frantic Kaminari about whether they will get accepted or not, or aimless texting at 2am in the morning due to an unusual bout of insomnia. There was something about hearing the perky blonde’s voice or reading the emoji-riddled text messages he sent regularly that made the ice-cold Akatani feel a gentle wave of warmth.

 

It was so unfamiliar…yet not unpleasant at the same time.

 

Akatani thought to himself, was this what it was like to have a friend? Could…he consider Kaminari a friend?

 

 

 

 

Maybe.

 

The concept of friendship was a thorny one for Akatani, given his history. Yet Kaminari was an outlier, someone he didn’t expect. He had wormed his way into his heart and stayed there, refusing to be expelled by icy cold. The upbeat voice, the bright disposition and happy-go-lucky aura spread a warmth that thawed a thin layer of ice around his heart. And he welcomed it.

 

So yes, Akatani could consider Kaminari his friend.

 

And it was this burgeoning relationship that saw the electric blonde at the doorstep of the ice king’s apartment, jittering nervously and knocking feverishly on the door, hand holding the envelope containing the results of the entrance exam.

 

They received their results on the same day, and with prior agreement, had arranged to meet up at Akatani’s place to unveil their fate together.

 

Akatani appeared as stoic as ever when he answered the door, but his stomach trembled in solidarity with the shaking Kaminari. With quick greetings, the two friends retreated into the ice king’s room, while Inko, who was also suffering from nervous jitters of her own, went to attempt at making tea for their guest and themselves.

 

Sitting on the bed, both teens opened their envelopes. They pulled out identical disk-shaped objects, which opened immediately into miniature projectors. A holographic screen appeared over both disks. Kaminari’s eyes widened.

 

“No way! It’s All Might!”

 

Akatani stayed noticeably stoic.

 

“Greetings young Akatani/Kaminari! - ”

 

“Let me know when the results actually come up,” the purple-haired teen said, leaning back and gazing up at the ceiling, eyes going blank.

 

“Dude, it’s All Might! Aren’t you excited it’s him?!” Kaminari exclaimed in disbelief.

 

“I don’t give a flying fuck that it’s All Might,” Akatani aloofly spoke, “Besides, he’s just reading off a prepared script. There is nothing personal about this other than our results. I’m zoning out now.”

 

And he did. Akatani blocked out the number one hero’s voice, while a confused Kaminari stared at him with cocked eyebrows. In the end, he didn’t have to gaze blankly at the ceiling for that long. Shaken out of his dazing by his electric friend some twenty seconds later, Akatani turned to the projector, which now displayed a table listing ten names and two corresponding numbers alongside each name.

 

He zeroed in on one particular name. His own. At the number one spot, with 67 villain points and 55 rescue points, totalling 122 points.

 

Akatani stared blankly at his results, barely registering being tackled by Kaminari in an excited hug.

 

“Dude! This is amazing! You’re the top of the list!”

 

Being shaken side-to-side by the proud blonde, Akatani glanced down at another familiar name in the number two spot beneath his.

 

Bakugou Katsuki, with 77 villain points, but zero rescue points. A staggering difference of 45 points separated their names.

 

Still being shaken by Kaminari, a tiny smile crept over Akatani’s lips, “I’m happy.”

 

“You should be! You’re so fucking cool!”

 

The table disappeared, and All Might filled the screen again. Kaminari pulled away to hear the rest of the hero’s message. There was a slight deviation where All Might commented about Kaminari not getting into the top ten and congratulated Akatani for getting number one, but the two messages quickly returned into synchronised wording, which left Akatani’s tiny grin to grow just a bit wider.

 

“Young Akatani/Kaminari, you pass the entrance exam. So now it begins,” holographic All Might stretched out a hand towards both teens, “Come, this is your hero academia!”

 

Akatani found himself tackled again in an overjoyed hug.

 

“We did it, Akatani! We’re both getting into U.A.’s heroics course!”

 

Amidst Kaminari’s whoops and cheers, the purple-haired teen muttered, “Yes…we are.”

 

And everyone better fucking watch out, because we’re turning this shit-show upside down, went unspoken, but nonetheless said in a glimmer in his jade-coloured eyes.

 


 

To Be Continued.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The first day of the school term dawned upon Akatani through the smooth passage of time, as he was rudely awakened from his slumber by his alarm clock blaring its unholy racket in the otherwise silent bedroom.

 

Grabbing the infernal object and throwing it across the room (which destroyed the damn thing, thank heavens), Akatani groaned. He slowly sat up, blinking wearily for a moment to get his sleep-addled brain working for the new day. Letting out a loud yawn, Akatani climbed out of bed, and shuffled sluggishly over to the bathroom.

 

Behind the closed door, several noises could be heard. The toilet flushing, and the tap running. Then there was silence, then a zap, followed by a sharp yelp. It opened, and out stepped Akatani, idly nursing his wrist where a small welt had begun to form. Now completely awake, he went to help his mother make breakfast.

 

After breakfast, Akatani returned to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He then retreated back into his bedroom to get ready for school.

 

He had hung up his new uniform – a set consisting of a grey blazer with forest green stripes on the sleeves and lapels, and matching shoulder straps, white dress shirt, red tie, and forest green pants – the previous night in preparation for today. Gazing upon it for a brief second, Akatani took the set down from the rack. Changing out of his pyjamas and tossing them into a nearby wash basket, he put his uniform on piece-by-piece, finishing off with his tie, which after countless practice, he managed to do it right.

 

Grabbing his yellow backpack, Akatani exited his room, heading for the front door, where his mother awaited.

 

“You’ve got this, Mikumo,” said Inko, taking her son’s hands into hers, “Always know that I’m proud of you, of what you have accomplished now, and what you will achieve in the future.”

 

“Thanks mom,” Akatani replied, “Well then, I’m going.”

 

Sharing one last hug, mother and son bade each other farewell. Inko watched with a warmed heart, as her son departed from home towards his destiny.

 


 

The train ride to U.A. station was an uneventful one. A faceless soul amidst the bustling morning rush-hour crowds, Akatani was a single twig pushed along by the sea of people in and out of the train. Tapping out into the station concourse, he stopped, the flow continuing on around him. He glanced about for a moment.

 

“Akatani!”

 

Ah, there he was.

 

From the crowds, came forth a grinning electric-quirk blonde, dressed in a matching U.A. uniform.

 

“Kaminari, ohayō.”

 

“Ohayō! Ready to go?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

The two friends left the station, engaged in a rather one-sided conversation, where Kaminari did most of the talking, and Akatani nodding or giving short replies in return. Within minutes, the towering buildings of U.A. High School had come into view, and so too were other students from the school.

 

For Akatani, it was one thing to come here as a candidate for an entrance exam, but another thing altogether to come as a student of the school. Despite his otherwise cold demeanour, he felt a sense of anticipation as he stepped through the front gates. His road to becoming a hero began here. And he swore to himself, he will become the hero that saves those who are unable of saving themselves.

 

The poor, the weak…the quirkless, to give them hope and a reason to smile for one more day.

 

“What do you think our teacher’s going to be like?” Kaminari wondered.

 

“No clue, but I heard the staff are pro heroes,” Akatani replied.

 

“Really? That’s so cool! Man, I can’t wait to find out who our teacher is gonna be!”

 

Akatani remained silent on that, but inwardly, he felt endeared towards Kaminari’s excitement. In some way, it reminded him of the time when he was Midoriya Izuku, when anything related to pro heroes would spark excitement within him.

 

Of course, that was the past. He had no concern for what had already gone by. Though, if he and Kaminari were unlucky enough to be in the same class as Bakugou (which was extremely likely, since he was second place in the entrance exam rankings), they would have to put up with a constant reminder of his dark past.

 

And judging from the loud shouts coming from within the classroom that was their assigned class, 1-A, Bakugou was indeed a part of their class, and already antagonising their classmates.

 

“What’s up with the racket?”, Kaminari remarked.

 

Again, Akatani remained noticeably silent, as he slid the door open. His gaze immediately zeroed in on two figures creating the argument. His heart inwardly sank.

 

Sitting at a desk adjacent to the window with his feet propped up, was Bakugou. His opponent in this verbal spar was a tall, muscular lad with an undercut and spectacles, who appeared to be liberal with the use of arm movements and gestures in a manner that reminded Akatani of a robot.

 

In all frankness, the purple-haired teen couldn’t care any less for what they were arguing about, which seemed to be on the line of Bakugou disrespecting their seniors who had used the desk before them by putting his feet up on it. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t starting to get on his nerves.

 

Akatani scanned the room. Most of the desks had already been claimed or occupied. There were only three empty ones left, one behind a student with short blonde hair and a tail with a tuft of matching hair at the end, and two directly behind Bakugou.

 

Well, it seems that beggars can’t be choosers, it seemed.

 

“Kaminari, are you okay with those two seats behind that loud fuckmouth?”

 

“Of course!” the electric blonde quipped, “I ain’t gonna be separated from you for the rest of year! And besides, you can be my sound barrier!”

 

Akatani almost smiled at that.

 

The two friends crossed the classroom and bagged the two adjacent desks. Kaminari picked up his bag and started ruffling through it, while Akatani relaxed into his seat, clasped his hands on the desk, and patiently waited for their teacher to arrive and homeroom to begin.

 

 

 

 

Now if only those two arguing fucktards could just shut the fuck up and not give him a blinding headache before the day had even begun.

 

Akatani felt his annoyance steadily climb the longer the bickering duo in front of him continued their nonsense, which showed no sign of abating. His clasped hands grew tighter, his eyelid twitching. Several tickmarks appeared over his head as his patience finally wore thin…and snapped.

 

Removing one hand from the other, Akatani clenched it into a fist, raised it, and slammed it back down on his desk with all of his pent-up irritation.

 

The echoing BAM silenced all activity in the room. Students who had been idly chatting or otherwise minding their own business turned towards Akatani, including Bakugou and the bespectacled robot-like student. Kaminari merely peeked over to see what was happening.

 

“Has it not occurred to the both of you dumbfucks,” Akatani growled venomously at the previously bickering duo, “that some of us want a peaceful start to the first day of school, and not have to listen to your incessant yapping?”

 

The bespectacled student looked scandalised at being told off, while Bakugou narrowed his eyes dangerously, “And who do you think you are, you fucking son of a bitch?”

 

“Me? I’m Akatani Mikumo,” the purple-haired teen replied, leaning back and folding his arms, “and who are you, by any chance?”

 

A tickmark appeared over the explosive blonde’s head, “I’m Bakugou Katsuki, and you listen here, you fucking extra, if you know what’s good for you, stay out of my fucking way! You may have gotten first in the entrance exam, but remember this, you’re nothing but a pebble in my way of becoming the number one hero!”

 

“Really,” Akatani raised an unimpressed eyebrow, “that’s rich, coming from someone who just oozes with superiority complex and got his ass handed to him by a pebble prior to the entrance exam, and got zero rescue points.”

 

Bakugou’s eyes widened marginally at the embarrassing memory. A literal growl escaped his clenched jaws, small explosions bursting from his palms, “What the fuck did you just say?”

 

“I was there, right place right time,” Akatani shrugged, “And you? The number one hero? Don’t make me laugh. What kind of hero explodes at someone who just wants to help you up?”

 

That got the watching onlookers whispering, while the person in question, who was sitting at the opposite side of the room, blushed slightly at being indirectly mentioned.

 

“Listen Bakahoe,” Akatani continued, leaving no room for interruption, “I may not know you very well, but just witnessing those small moments already speaks wonders about your atrocious attitude and disgusting personality. How you intend to become a hero, I don’t know. But people are not going to take nicely to a “hero” who is arrogant and antagonises those who just want to help. In fact…”

 

Akatani paused in mock thinking, a look of pure condescension blooming over his face as he returned to Bakugou, who looked ready to explode, “I think someone like you is more suited to become the number one villain. After all, you appear to be a petty, tantrum-throwing, hate-filled son of a whore who acts high and mighty to cover his own cowardice and weakness.”

 

Absolute silence followed his cold vitriol. Even Bakugou appeared stupefied at the level of icy malice the attack against his character carried. The silence lasted for a beat or two, broken by Kaminari’s sudden commentary.

 

“Sheesh man, like I know roasted chicken is nice and all, but if you roast it too much, you’ll get only burned charcoal left!”

 

It was terrible. It was unwarranted. It was nonsense. And it was what burnt through the final bit of fuse on what was Bakugou’s explosive ire. The explosions in his palms grew exponentially, as he shot up from his seat, knocking his chair backwards.

 

“I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU, YOU MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A-”

 

Bakugou lunged for Akatani, who merely sat still with his unimpressive, condescending stare. He didn’t need to worry, having spotted someone enter the room during the middle of his verbal takedown, whose scarf (or is it bandages?) had risen up from their shoulders, and swooped towards Bakugou at remarkable speed. The raging blonde suddenly found himself restrained by the scarf (bandages?), the explosions cutting off in the same instant.

 

“First day of the year, and I already have to deal with problem children…” the person muttered, “I’m not paid enough for this job.”

 

The scarf retracted, unceremoniously dropping Bakugou mid-leap. Akatani turned his gaze towards the owner of the scarf, just in time to see their long black hair fall to their shoulders and their eyes to lose their red glow. The person had a rather unkempt appearance, and looked like they needed vast amounts of sleep.

 

“On the bright side, I’ve now got everyone’s attention, at least.”

 

The person (a man, Akatani observed) sighed, ruffling through a pocket for something. He fished out a small bottle of what appeared to be eye drops, applied a bit to both eyes, blinked, before putting the bottle away.

 

He addressed the class, “I’m your homeroom teacher, Aizawa Shouta. Pleasure to meet you all.”

 

‘Sheesh, he doesn’t sound pleased to be here at all, that’s for sure,’ Kaminari inwardly remarked.

 

‘What crawled up his arse and died?’ Akatani wondered at the same time.

 

Aizawa bent downwards behind the teacher’s table, coming back up with twenty sets of some kind of clothes that were of a predominantly navy-blue colour.

 

“Come up here and take your assigned P.E. uniform. Get changed, and meet me at the training grounds in fifteen minutes. Get moving.”

 

With that note of positivity, Aizawa walked out of the classroom without a further word. The students made no move for several beats, before slowly getting up to retrieve their assigned uniform, their names taped to the plastic covers. Akatani found his and tossed Kaminari’s over to him.

 

As they departed the classroom, Kaminari turned to Akatani, “Our teacher’s kinda weird.”

 

“I’m still wondering what crawled up his arse and died,” Akatani replied, “Probably bedbugs, but rather unlikely. I don't think he understands the concept of sleep or beds.”

 

Kaminari couldn’t stop the resulting snicker.

 


 

Fifteen minutes later, the class, all dressed in their P.E. uniforms, had gathered at the training grounds. Aizawa did a quick check to ensure all were accounted for, before addressing them.

 

“Alright,” he drawled, “this morning we are conducting a quirk apprehension test to gauge your capabilities.”

 

Several students glanced at one another, while Akatani stared straight ahead. A single hand rose up.

 

“Aizawa-sensei,” the girl who Bakugou exploded at before the entrance exam asked, “I thought we were supposed to attend the welcoming ceremony? And the guidance counsellor meeting?”

 

Said teacher stared pointedly back at her, “In the field of heroics, you don’t have time for superfluous platitudes.”

 

The girl shrunk back slightly, lowering her hand. Aizawa continued on, “We’ll be covering several stations this morning. First the softball throw, then long jump, 50-meter sprint, endurance running, grip strength, side-jumps, pull-ups, and seated toe-touch.”

 

Aizawa checked the class registrar, “Bakugou Katsuki, you’re up first.”

 

Said explosive blonde trudged off from the class. Aizawa handed him a softball.

 

“Use your quirk, don’t hold back.”

 

Bakugou grunted, and got into position inside the circle drawn into the pitch. He steadied himself, pulling his arm back like the wind-up to a spring-loaded toy. Akatani watched with a uninterested, deadpan gaze as Bakugou screamed a loud, “DIE!”, as he pitched the ball with his quirk at full strength. The resulting explosion rocked the grounds, a shockwave spreading in all directions kicking up dust and gravel as the softball went hurtling towards the sky, disappearing with a twinkle.

 

Aizawa, seemingly unaffected by the explosion, stared down at a tablet in his hands, “705.2 meters,” he read.

 

The class went into uproar.

 

“That’s so cool!”

 

“Unbelievable!”

 

“His quirk is so manly!”

 

Save for two.

 

While Kaminari acknowledged the impressive distance, he wasn’t blown away as his other classmates. Akatani on the other hand showed no reaction whatsoever. He did, however, react when one of their classmates, a girl with pink hair and skin, exclaimed, “This is going to be so much fun!”

 

“So much fun…?”

 

Akatani shifted over to Aizawa, who had gone eerily quiet and menacing. The excited aura that hung over the students died instantly.

 

“Is that what you think you’re going to be doing for the next three years? Having fun?” Aizawa asked unnervingly, his manic grin and bloodshot eyes not helping his image, “Are you lot not planning on becoming heroes?”

 

An unsettling feeling wafted through the nervous students. Kaminari, on the other hand, merely looked curious, if a little apprehensive, while Akatani remained blank.

 

“Perhaps this will make you lot take things more seriously,” Aizawa continued, “I’m implementing a new rule. The one who comes in last place will be expelled.”

 

Cue indignant uproar from the students. Kaminari broke into a nervous sweat, fidgeting slightly until he felt a hand reach around him and gently grip his shoulder.

 

“Don’t worry,” Akatani muttered under the din, “In the unlikely chance you get expelled, I’ll be pulling out and leaving with you. I heard the other hero schools have decent programmes.”

 

Kaminari felt his friend’s hand squeeze his shoulder, and he relaxed. The same could not be said for their fellow classmates.

 

“How can you do that?!”

 

“Preposterous!”

 

“That is unreasonable and unfair!”

 

Aizawa remained unfazed, folding his arms across his chest, “Unfair? The world out there is an unfair place. And it is heroes’ duty to correct that unfairness.” His eyes narrowed, “If you came here expecting to socialise with friends and goofing off, well, I have a news flash for you. The next three years of your education here will push you to your breaking point. U.A.’s motto is ‘Plus Ultra’. You will need your all and beyond to overcome what’s in store for you.”

 

The class went dead silence following this proclamation. Aizawa took this as a sign to continue on with the test.

 

“Akatani Mikumo. You’re up next.”

 

The purple-haired teen nodded. Kaminari nudged his shoulder with a quiet, “You’ve got this.”. He stepped towards Aizawa, impervious to the whispers that cropped up when his name was called.

 

“Who is he?”

 

“Wasn’t he the guy who obliterated the zero-pointer robot and the battle centre during the entrance exam?”

 

“Oui, it is ~. I was in the same battle centre as he was.”

 

“Eh?! Really?!”

 

“No way! That’s him?!”

 

Aizawa passed Akatani a softball, but unlike with Bakugou, he didn’t say anything. Akatani stepped into the circle. He released a breath, and stared ahead. He raised the hand holding the softball. He intended to channel a smaller portion of the energy he used to decimate the zero-pointer robot to blast the softball the furthest he can get.

 

But…something wasn’t right.

 

Akatani knew everyone was staring at him, awaiting how far he was going to throw the ball. But one person in particular stood out.

 

He knew right away that it was Aizawa. Even with his back turned to him, Akatani felt his teacher’s gaze the strongest. He paused. He knew something would happen if he tried to channel his power and blast the ball, and it would be courtesy of Aizawa. Now what was it that connected him to this?

 

 

 

 

Ah.

 

That’s right. He remembered now.

 

Akatani frowned. This would not do. At all.

 

It happened so fast, catching everyone off-guard. There was a bright flash, and a loud CRACK. Everyone (save for Kaminari) jolted as a wave of electricity burst from Akatani and spread in all directions. Those who had been in battle centre B were reminded of the paralysing shock they were subjected to at the beginning of the entrance exam. Even Aizawa, who had been gazing at Akatani, was momentarily thrown off-kilter when the electric wave phased through him, breaking eye-contact with the teen.

 

The wave dissipated as quickly as it came. Everyone reeled and jerked out of control for several moments. As they recovered, Akatani slowly lowered his raised arm, still staring off into the distance.

 

“Aizawa-sensei…”

 

Attention was divided between Akatani, and their teacher.

 

“…or underground hero, Eraserhead. Quirk: Erasure of others’ quirks on direct eye-contact…”

 

The suspense rose steadily. Kaminari knew what was coming, and braced himself.

 

“…could you mind your fucking business and let me do this properly?”

 

A beat of silence.

 

Then…chaos.

 

Scandalised gasps echoed. Horrified whispers broke out. The robotic student started swishing his arms wildly, screeching about the unpardonable offense of cursing out a teacher and for the immediate recantation of those words. Kaminari, on the other hand, sighed with an exasperated grin.

 

Aizawa, though, he appeared as calm as previously. But if one were to look closely, his eyelid was twitching.

 

Akatani continued relentlessly, “I knew you were going to erase my quirk, because you thought that I had no control over it. No doubt you thought that, when you watched me blow up the zero-pointer robot to rescue my friend. Well, I also have a news flash for you too…”

 

He turned back towards the teacher. The other students (save for Kaminari) flinched. Akatani’s eyes were glowing.

 

“This power is mine to wield. I know the ins and outs of it, while you don’t. I know how to control it, you don’t. You might be our teacher, but you have no fucking say over how I choose to utilise it. Also…”

 

Akatani took a breath.

 

“…I would kindly advise you to never attempt your quirk on me again. My quirk is my lifeblood. It is the reason my heart is still beating. It is the reason why the blood still flows through my veins. It is the reason why I can still function as a human being. So, Aizawa-sensei…”

 

The teen’s eyes flashed dangerously.

 

“…unless you wish to have a dead body on your hands, I would suggest that you leave me the fuck alone, and let me do my thing.”

 

The entire class held their breaths. A few admired Akatani for having the balls to cuss out a teacher like that. Some were horrified at the possibility of having such a powerful, yet vulnerable quirk. Some expected an all-out battle to take place between their teacher and Akatani. Others, like the robot-like student, expected Aizawa to expel Akatani on the spot.

 

They were all surprised, and rightfully confused, when Aizawa merely nodded in acknowledgement.

 

“Carry on,” he said, stepping backwards.

 

Akatani turned away, facing towards the distance again. He raised his hand holding the softball towards the sky. He concentrated, channelling his energy towards his palm. The visible Lichtenberg scars running up his arm began to glow, as crackles of jade-green electricity ran wildly up and down the appendage. The growing energy engulfed the softball, and it vibrated rapidly in his grip, as if wanting to escape. Akatani let his power rise a little more, and at the right intensity, he released.

 

With an even louder CRACK, the softball shot out from the teen’s palm like a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun. Some jumped at the sound, others watched with jaw-dropping awe as they watched the ball fly towards the heavens in a beam of electrical energy. Like Bakugou’s ball, it too went so far that it eventually disappeared from sight, but the real surprise came when Aizawa announced Akatani’s score.

 

He didn’t say any numbers, just one word, “Orbit.”

 

Another beat of silence.

 

“Wait…so you’re saying,” a student with spiked-up ruby-red hair chimed in, “Akatani shot the ball so far out that it’s now orbiting the Earth?”

 

Aizawa simply said, “Yes.”

 

Another beat of silence. Then, chaos.

 

“Holy fuck!”

 

“He really did that?!”

 

“That’s so badass!”

 

Akatani paid the admiration no mind whatsoever. He did, however, pay attention to Bakugou’s reaction. And he was not disappointed.

 

The explosive blonde was in a state of total disbelief, torn between denial and shock. He was trembling all over, no doubt from his volatile rage rising to the surface. Akatani could only guess how much his record had damaged his former bully’s ego and pride, and he knew he had dealt a really heavy blow.

 

Well, time to add the cherry on the top, then?

 

Akatani made sure he made eye-contact with Bakugou, and as naturally as he could with his ice-king persona, he huffed condescendingly at him, before stepping out of the circle back to stand with his classmates.

 

The resulting explosion was dramatic, but not unexpected.

 

“YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT?! I’LL FUCKING MURDER YOU!”

 

Once again, Akatani had nothing to worry about the incoming fireball that was Bakugou, having spotted Aizawa activating his capture weapon (his scarf…or bandages) long before anyone else did. Bakugou found himself once again ensnared by the weapon, his quirk erased.

 

“You are really starting to get on my nerves, Bakugou,” Aizawa warned, “This is the second time I had to use my quirk on you, which I can guarantee is not fun for me.” He released his capture weapon, unceremoniously dropping Bakugou onto the pitch, “If I have use it one more time on you, you will be out of U.A. before you can say ‘hero course’, am I clear?”

 

Picking himself up from the ground, Bakugou grunted in response. He glared at Akatani, who returned it with a dismissive gaze. Aizawa took out his eye drops and reapplied them to his dry eyes. Putting the bottle away, he called out the next name.

 

“Uraraka Ochako, you’re next.”

 


 

In the end, Akatani’s record was broken by Uraraka, who had a gravity quirk. She launched the ball so far into the galaxy that her score was an unbeatable infinity. Nonetheless, he was satisfied that he beat Bakugou in this test.

 

Now came the rest of the assessment.

 

Akatani thought he did a relatively decent job with the other stations. His timing in the 50-meter sprint rivalled that of the top contender – the robot-like student with engines in his legs, whose name was Iida Tenya. While he was nowhere near multi-armed Shouji Mezou’s record of 540 kilograms in the grip-strength test, he still marked down a reasonable weight for himself. He cleared the sandbox in the long-jump test, and beat runner-up Mineta Minoru (a pervert who rather unsubtly enjoyed staring at the female students’ bosoms and buttocks, Akatani observed disgustedly) in the side-jumps. For the remaining tests, Akatani clocked in decent scores with the aid of his quirk and months of training.

 

Finally, the assessment was over. The class, exhausted and sweaty, gathered before Aizawa, nervously milling about over who was going to be expelled from the school.

 

“Here are the results,” said their teacher, getting their attention.

 

The eternally-tired man tapped the tablet he used throughout the assessment. A holographic screen sprung up from the tablet, containing a table with a list of names.

 

Akatani had another moment of satisfaction. He was ranked third behind Yaoyorozu Momo and Todoroki Shouto, and ahead of Bakugou, who ranked fourth. Akatani was sure he heard the explosive blonde growl in frustration, and rolled his eyes. Kaminari was ranked 17th, which while not lowest, was in dangerous territory. Akatani made a mental note to help Kaminari train his body and strength.

 

Everyone’s eyes fall on the name at the bottom of the list – Mineta Minoru. Indeed, the grape-head was shaking badly, and for good reason. Akatani waited for the moment that Aizawa was going to kick the disgusting pervert out of the school.

 

“By the way,” their teacher said after closing the screen, “me expelling the student that comes in last, that was a lie.”

 

 

 

 

Wait. What?

 

The grin that Aizawa had could be described as shit-eating, “Call it a logical ruse, to get you all to bring out your best.”

 

 

 

 

For the fourth time that day, the class went into uproar. Akatani, personally, felt irritated at being lied to by Aizawa. While he certainly understood the reason why, this did nothing to improve his position in Akatani’s bad graces.

 

With his mind still fuming, he and the rest of the class were then dismissed.

 


 

The rest of the day passed by relatively quickly. At the last bell, the students of class 1-A departed for home, saying goodbye to new acquaintances and going on their separate ways.

 

Among them, Akatani and Kaminari walked to the station together, conversing about the day’s events.

 

“Man, today was something else!”

 

“Mm, it’s only the first day, but already I’m leaning towards a dislike for Aizawa-sensei.”

 

“He’s hella weird, but maybe things will get better?”

 

“Who knows.”

 

The two continued walking in comfortable silence.

 

“Hey, Akatani?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“What’s the possibility of another surprise tomorrow?”

 

“I have no clue,” the purple-haired teen replied, “For all we know, we could end up with All Might as our teacher.”

 

“Man, that would be a surprise!” Kaminari remarked.

 

As the two friends arrived at the station, little did they both know that Akatani had just jinxed things for the coming day.

 


 

To Be Continued.

 


 

 

Chapter Text

The next day witnessed Akatani follow through the exact same morning routine he underwent the day before, followed by the same commute to U.A. station where he’d meet up with Kaminari. The two friends would then make the short trek to the campus, and slip into their classroom with little announcement.

 

“Oh hey! It’s you!”

 

Though like the day before, Akatani would not find any peace this morning before class started.

 

He barely stifled an annoyed groan as the student with spiked-up red hair – Kirishima Eijirou, if he remembered correctly – slid into Bakugou’s empty seat in front of him and faced him.

 

“What is it?”

 

“You were really awesome yesterday!” Kirishima gushed, “Like, super cool and manly! I didn’t know electricity could be so powerful!”

 

“Well now you know,” Akatani replied coolly, “Now what is that you want? Other than being an absolute annoyance?”

 

Kirishima reeled back, “Geez dude, what’s with the cold shoulder? We already have one ice king with Todoroki in this class!”

 

“Nah, it’s cool,” Kaminari butted in, “You’ll have to excuse my bro here. He is another ice king that threatens to freeze us over, like Todoroki. I’m still trying to thaw his frozen heart to prevent such a fate.”

 

“Well, you wanna get an extra hand in that?” Kirishima offered cheekily, “I’m sure that beneath those layers of ice is a fellow bro screaming to get out and show off his manliness!”

 

Kaminari laughed, as Akatani facepalmed and released that groan that he had been stifling. While he had no qualms against Kaminari making jokes at his expense, he was still annoyed that Kirishima was trying to barge into his social sphere uninvited and unannounced.

 

Dammit, when are people going to understand that he was supposed to be the one to decide who should be let in and who should be kept out?!

 

“Oi! Shitty hair! Get the fuck out of my seat!”

 

And here comes the resident angry child.

 

While Kirishima’s unwarranted presence was annoying, the redhead did not deserve to be subjected to such verbal abuse, thought Akatani. And so, the irritated ice king turned his ire on the temperamental blonde.

 

“That’s rich, coming from the guy who looks like he doesn’t know the existence of conditioner.”

 

Silence followed, interrupted by a snicker somewhere in the class.

 

“He’s not wrong though.”

 


 

Morning classes went by without any major surprises. After homeroom (where Aizawa stopped Bakugou from exploding Akatani’s head off in his rage), the class had English lessons with Present Mic, followed by modern literature with Cementoss.

 

English was pretty easy for Akatani, who was fluent in the language thanks to his daily followings of American heroes on the Internet. Modern Literature was a bit more of bore, but it wasn’t too difficult, on the plus-side.

 

Lunch came after. Akatani and Kaminari bagged a table for themselves and tucked into the food prepared by pro hero and chef, Lunch Rush. And damn, was the food to die for, thought a satisfied ice king as they returned back to class for their next period – Hero Basic Training.

 

The two friends took their seats just as the bell rang. Kaminari took to gazing out the window, while Akatani rested his chin against his palm, the other hand drumming absentmindedly against the desk. Akatani silently eavesdropped on the conversations taking place elsewhere in the room, mostly on about what Hero Basic Training was going to entail, and who their teacher was going to be.

 

Frankly, he had a strange feeling ever since he made that offhanded comment about All Might being their teacher. That just like in previous occasions, he had jinxed the proceedings towards actually having All Might as their teacher for the Hero Basic Training period. But that was unlikely to happen…right? After all, All Might is the country’s number one hero. He wouldn’t have time to be a teacher while being a professional hero…

 

…right?

 

“I AM…”

 

Akatani’s heart sank, ‘Oh for fuck’s sakes…’

 

There leaning through the doorway in his buff, muscled glory, was All Might, dressed in his hero suit from the Silver Age.

 

“…coming through the door like a regular person!”

 

Akatani bashed his forehead against his desk, his groans overshadowed by the excited ramblings of his classmates.

 

“Holy shit! It’s All Might!”

 

“He’s our teacher?!”

 

“That’s insane!”

 

The Symbol of Peace strode up to the teacher’s podium, turning to address the class, “In Hero Basic Training, you will learn the fundamental basics of being a hero through a series of trials. So for today, we will be holding…”

 

Akatani peeled his forehead off his desk, just as All Might dramatically produced a card with the word ‘battle’ in stylised, capital letters.

 

“…battle trials!”

 

That caught Akatani’s attention. Even though he was nowhere near the levels of excited curiosity of his classmates, he did wonder what they were going to be doing in this trial.

 

“Also!” All Might continued, “You will be needing these!”

 

Right on cue with his words, four slots on the wall behind him opened. Each was a cabinet holding five metal cases with a number stamped on the lids.

 

“Your costumes tailored based on your requests and to best suit your quirks!”

 

‘Ah…so that’s why that wanted us to send in the designs,’ Akatani mused as the excitement in the class rose.

 

“The battle trial will be held at Ground Beta,” All Might instructed, “Go and get changed, everyone, and I’ll see you there!”

 


 

“Man! All Might as our teacher!” Kirishima gushed, “Isn’t that something!”

 

The excitement carried on into the changing rooms. Akatani, as per usual, exempted himself from the chatter. Opening the metal case bearing his number, he did a visual check to make sure everything he had requested was included.

 

Akatani nodded to himself. Everything was in order.

 

“Hey my dude, you okay there?”

 

Akatani turned to face Kaminari.

 

“I heard your forehead hit the desk,” the blonde remarked, “it still looks kinda red,”

 

“A small price to pay for making my sentiments clear,” Akatani replied dryly as he loosened his tie and slipped it off.

 

As he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off, someone behind him whistled.

 

“Damn man, you’re ripped! Do you live in a gym and consume nothing but protein shakes?!”

 

Akatani didn’t know if Kirishima was being serious or if he was joking, “No, just simple, hard work of lugging garbage off a polluted beach, regular gym sessions and martial arts sparring.”

 

Silence fell upon the room. The other male students who had been otherwise ignoring the conversation were now staring at Akatani, Bakugou included.

 

Kirishima gaped, “Dude…that is just so…fucking manly!”

 

Akatani deadpanned, “When you put it that way, most of us are “manly” in some way.”

 

He pointedly turned to Mineta, “Except for this bastard. Nothing more than a lecherous pervert.”

 

Turning away from the mortified grape-head, he faced Bakugou, “And this piece of shit. Rotten sewage wrapped in a six-pack. An unfortunate combination.”

 

Bakugou lunged at him, palms bursting with explosions, “WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME, YOU GODDAMN PRICK?! I’LL FUCKING END YOUR SORRY ARSE!”

 

Akatani merely turned away, as intervention came from Kirishima and Iida, the latter screeching about the explosive blonde’s foul language and violent reaction, while making those hand gestures of his. He ignored Iida when he turned his rebuke towards him in favour of slipping off his pants, and folding it alongside the rest of his uniform.

 

Meanwhile, Kaminari discretely stole looks at Akatani’s muscled form, a faint blush dusting his cheeks. His heartbeat quickened as he eyed his friend’s abs that rippled with every movement he made.

 

‘Fuck…he’s hot.’

 


 

Kaminari’s unfortunate situation wasn’t helped by the next sight his eyes were presented.

 

Akatani’s hero costume was eye-catching to say the least. Comprised of a black crop top that hugged his chest like a second skin, an equally skin-tight pair of black leather pants secured by a leather belt with a fierce-looking steel buckle, smaller belts strapped around his arms and upper thighs, a black mask that covered his entire face down to his neck (save for his eyes and hair), a pair of black-tinted goggles, a pair of black leather gloves with tips made from a material akin to steel wool, and steel-toed black combat boots, the costume accentuated his muscles and made Akatani incredibly badass.

 

Poor Kaminari suffered the entire walk to Ground Beta, his blush threatening to become permanent and his heart on the verge of exploding.

 

It was only when he could distract himself with All Might’s instructions was he able to rein in his out-of-control hormones.

 

“The battle trials will see you all split into two groups, heroes and villains, and pitted against each other in 2-vs-2 fights that will take place in indoor settings. Unlike the entrance exams, there are no robots for you to attack.”

 

Then came a barrage of questions from the class.

 

“How will the wins and losses be decided?” Yaoyorozu Momo asked first.

 

“Can we bash the fuck out of them?” that came, naturally, from Bakugou. Akatani rolled his eyes behind his goggles.

 

“Will the worst-performing pair be expelled?” asked a nervous Uraraka. Akatani felt pity for the poor soul who was to be paired with Mineta.

 

“How will we be paired?” Iida raised a hand.

 

“Is my cape flashy or what?” Aoyama asked as he displayed the sparkling piece of cloth to those looking (hint: no one). Akatani groaned behind his mask.

 

“Alright! Alright!” All Might raised his hands, “Don’t rush! I’ll answer all your questions!”

Akatani folded his arms across his chest, as the number one hero pulled out a script that appeared comically small in his large hands, “The villains will hide with a nuclear weapon in an unknown floor of the building. The heroes will have to find the villains, and either defeat them or secure the weapon before the time limit ends. The villains will attain victory if they are able to protect the weapon or defeat the heroes within the time limit.”

 

All Might closed the script, “And now…the pairings!”

 

Lots were picked, and the pairs were decided as followed:

 

Team A: Akatani Mikumo & Uraraka Ochako

 

Team B: Shouji Mezou & Todoroki Shouto

 

Team C: Yaoyorozu Momo & Mineta Minoru

 

Team D: Iida Tenya & Bakugou Katsuki

 

Team E: Aoyama Yuuga & Ashido Mina

 

Team F: Satou Rikidou & Kouda Kouji

 

Team G: Jirou Kyouka & Kaminari Denki

 

Team H: Tokoyami Fumikage & Asui Tsuyu

 

Team I: Hagakure Tooru & Ojiro Mashirao

 

Team J: Kirishima Eijirou & Sero Hanta

 

“Akatani-kun!”

 

The purple-haired ice king glanced at Uraraka, dressed in equally form-fitting bodysuit, knee-boots and helmet.

 

“Let’s do our very best!”

 

“Mm,” Akatani nodded curtly, turning back to watch All Might rifle through two boxes with the words “Heroes” and “Villains” on them. He was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t paired up with Kaminari, but it wasn’t something worth grumbling over.

 

Especially since finding out who he was fighting against was more important.

 

“The first teams to battle are…”

 

All Might pulled out two balls, one black and the other white, with the letters D and A printed respectively on them. Akatani’s heart sank.

 

‘Oh for fuck’s sake…’

 

“…Team D and A! Team A will be the heroes, and Team D the villains!”

 

 

 

‘Fuck my life.’

 


 

The ‘villain’ team were allowed to enter the building where the battle was to take place first. The hero team were given five minutes to come up with a strategy before the test officially started and they were to head inside themselves.

 

Off to the side with Uraraka, Akatani could feel Bakugou glaring murderously at him as he and Iida stepped inside. If his hearing wasn’t wrong, he could have sworn he heard the explosive blonde growling as he went.

 

In typical fashion, Akatani ignored it.

 

“When we infiltrate the building, we need to be careful for Bakugou.”

 

“Why specifically him?” asked Uraraka.

 

“Call it intuition,” Akatani explained, “but judging from his personality, Bakugou will not work with Iida on trying to secure the weapon from us. He is the lone-wolf sort of person, thinking that working with others is a sign of weakness. He will instead try to attack us by himself.”

 

The truth was far from mere intuition, but the purple-haired teen saw no reason to tell Uraraka that.

 

“Okay,” she nodded, “but how do we counteract his explosions?”

 

“Leave him with me,” Akatani replied, “What we both need to do is create distractions.”

 

“Against Iida-kun in my case?”

 

“Yes,” he nodded, “Judging from his personality and mannerisms, Iida is focus-minded and task-driven. His main goal in this test is to protect the weapon at all costs. It is likely he will be impervious to anything else. When Bakugou uses his explosions, you can use your quirk to use any pieces of rubble to keep Iida busy.”

 

“Wow, you’re really analytical about this,” Uraraka remarked.

 

“Some people say brawn is a good way to win a fight,” Akatani said, goggles glinting dangerously, “but add in brains, and you become deadly.”

 

Uraraka nodded, feeling both empowered and slightly uneasy by her teammate’s words.

 

All Might’s voice crackled in the microphones they wore in their ear, “Your time starts now, hero team! Good luck!”

 

Uraraka turned to Akatani, “Let’s do this!”

 

The purple-haired teen grunted in assent.

 


 

 

Infiltrating the building had been easy enough. But now came the harder part of being on the lookout for a certain explosive blonde as the pair traversed the empty hallways. The hallways provided plenty of blind spots and corners for Bakugou to launch a surprise attack on them. They had to be vigilant, on guard for the slightest sound or indication that their enemy was near.

 

A good thing they were, for a mere second later, shit hit the fan.

 

Just as they approached a corner, Akatani’s eyes caught the swift movement of shadow. Out from the corner leaping straight at them, came Bakugou. The blonde pulled back a gauntlet-covered fist, and threw a powerful punch at Akatani.

 

The resulting explosion rocked the hallway, but Bakugou missed his target. With lightning-speed reflexes, Akatani dodged the incoming punch, leaping towards Uraraka and using the momentum to push the both of them away from the impact zone. They landed several feet away, Akatani immediately getting up and pulling Uraraka to her feet.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine, thanks.”

 

They had little respite. The suspended dust cloud dissipated, revealing Bakugou, ready to attack.

 

“Tch, you shouldn’t have dodged,” the blonde clicked his tongue.

 

“That’s kinda the expected reaction to danger,” Akatani countered coolly, “But then again, since you don’t have the basic decency of a human being, I’m not surprised you don’t know how things work.”

 


 

Meanwhile, the rest of the class and All Might were in an observation room watching the action go down across several camera feeds on a giant screen.

 

“A surprise attack so soon?!” Kirishima exclaimed, “That’s cheating! So not manly!”

 

“A surprise attack is also a strategic move too,” All Might corrected, “In a battle, a surprise attack can determine victory or defeat.”

 

“Akatani dodged the blast!” Ashido Mina cheered.

 

“Nice roast there, man,” Kaminari grinned.

 

“Ah, Bakugou is making his move,” Asui Tsuyu remarked.

 


 

Bakugou charged at Akatani, gauntlet raised.

 

“You better get ready, you fucking arsewipe, for you’ll be nothing but a squashed bug under my boot when I’m done with you!”

 

Akatani said nothing, instead rushing straight at the incoming blonde, stopping him in his tracks with a vice-grip on his right arm.

 

“You should learn when to shut your mouth. Idle talk can be dangerous, for you especially.”

 

Standing to the side, Uraraka watched with awe as Akatani shifted his balance, and with all of his strength, tossed Bakugou over his shoulder and threw him to the floor with a sickening crash, knocking the air out of the blonde’s lungs.

 

Akatani turned to his teammate, “Uraraka, go look for Iida! And take as much debris as you can with you!”

 

“Will you be alright?”

 

“I will be! Now go!”

 

The brunette nodded, taking off towards the hole in the wall created by Bakugou’s earlier surprise attack. She touched the medium and large pieces of concrete littered around the spot, the debris losing their gravitational pull and rising upwards. Uraraka then clenched her fists, creating a centre of gravity within herself, pulling the debris into orbit around her. She hurried off down the hallway, the pieces of concrete following her as she went.

 

“Oh hell no bitch!” Bakugou screeched, “You’re not getting away!”

 

The blonde was unable to chase after Uraraka as he was thrown against a wall by a swinging kick to the side from Akatani.

 

“Focus, or this fight might end in your defeat,” the masked teen taunted.

 

Bakugou growled like a feral animal, peeling himself off the wall and charging straight at Akatani with palms exploding.

 


 

Uraraka managed to traverse through the remaining floors, taking breaks in between to settle her stomach from erupting into serious nausea.

 

She finally reached the top floor, where after several minutes of checking through hallways and empty rooms, she came to one that appeared different from the others.

 

Namely, Iida and the weapon.

 

He appeared to be talking to himself, though what he was saying was inaudible to Uraraka’s ears. Yet at the same time, this was good. It meant that Iida was distracted, and hadn’t yet noticed she was there.

 

Uraraka slipped away from the doorway, lining herself against the wall. She now needed to think, plan how she was going to pull this off.

 

The debris she brought with her will no doubt distract Iida momentarily. But she couldn’t risk keeping them afloat for too long without vomiting. And, Iida had his engines. His speed would definitely turn the tables on her and leave her open to his continuous attacks. She wouldn’t be able to hold herself against him for long.

 

She needed another move of attack, one that would leave Iida vulnerable.

 

Then, it hit her.

 

Could she…use her quirk on Iida himself?

 

Uraraka hesitated. She had never attempted to cancel someone else’s gravitational pull before. She had only ever tried it on herself, and while that experience had been a surreal one when she first attempted it, her nausea that day was arguably the worst she ever had. Who knows how bad the blowback would be should she try to make Iida float.

 

She peeked through the doorway again. She’ll get to that bridge eventually, but first, she needed to get Iida’s attention.

 

Which, ironically, he did it for her.

 

“Tremble before me! For I am the feared embodiment of evil! Muahahahahahaha!”

 

Iida’s laughter was immediately mixed with Uraraka’s, as she lost her composure at the doorway. Iida immediately whirled on his feet towards her.

 

“Oh god Iida-kun! You are such a dork!” the brunette laughed whilst clutching her stomach.

 

The robotic teen flinched at the label, before readying himself, “You dare belittle my villainous name! You shall pay the price for your folly!”

 

Iida’s engines burst to life, and he charged straight towards the brunette. Her laughter ceasing immediately, Uraraka floated the debris into place.

 

“Well have a taste of concrete before that!”

 

She pushed out her arms. The pieces of concrete swung outwards. She then released her gravitational hold on the debris, the continuing momentum allowing the pieces to shoot forward towards Iida. Realising he has projectiles coming straight at him, Iida braked hard and dodged the flying concrete, giving Uraraka the window to dash into the room.

 

She leapt over Iida, her fingers touching the airborne debris, pulling them back into her gravitational hold. She released them upon Iida again, but she wasn’t so lucky the second time.

 

“Enough!”

 

Iida swung out his arms, knocking the pieces away. He then dashed for Uraraka, fist pulled back for a punch.

 

The brunette squeaked, quickly touching her arm. She floated up towards the ceiling, narrowly avoiding Iida’s punch as it came hurtling towards her exact spot just milliseconds apart. She released her quirk, falling back to the floor. This wasn’t good. Already so soon in her fight with Iida, and she had to use her quirk on herself. Furthermore, she couldn’t find a long-enough window to use her quirk on him.

 

She needed another distraction to pull this off, and fast.

 


 

Several floors below, Bakugou and Akatani were still battling it out in hallway. Bakugou had gone all-out on the offensive, forcing Akatani to adopt a defensive position, taking hits while getting his own occasional hit in when the explosive blonde was unable to see it coming.

 

All the while not using his quirk. Something that Bakugou picked up on.

 

“What’s the matter, fucker?” he sneered, “Why aren’t you using your quirk?”

 

‘Don’t say anything back,’ Akatani thinks to himself, ‘Not yet.’

 

Bakugou released another exploding fireball, “Think your too good to use your quirk?”

 

‘Distract him.’

 

“What does that say about you then?” Akatani drawled, dodging the fireball, “Think you can just take this battle with your explosions?”

 

Bakugou lands, a vein throbbing noticeably on his temple. But whatever anger the explosive blonde might have had gives way for a feral, almost crazed smile that stretches his lips. He outstretched a gauntleted hand.

 

“Oh…but I can. You see…”

 

Akatani stays silent, but ever ready for what Bakugou was going to say.

 

“…my quirk, Explosion, allows me to sweat a substance akin to nitro-glycerine on my palms and make it explode.”

 

Bakugou pulled a tab, and a grenade pin appeared.

 

Akatani remained silent, ‘Continue talking.’

 

“If the support department made it as I requested,” Bakugou chuckled darkly, “then my gauntlets will store the nitro-glycerine within them, which makes for an even bigger explosion!”

 

‘Got him.’

 

Akatani’s goggles glinted, “I agree, but Bakugou, tell me…”

 

The blonde raised an eyebrow as Akatani outstretched his own hand.

 

“What happens when nitro-glycerine is introduced to a single spark, like…an electrical one?”

 

Bakugou’s eyes widened.

 

Jade-coloured sparks danced over Akatani’s fingers, before shooting forward like bullets. Bakugou had no time to pull the pin on his gauntlet, before the electricity got to it.

 

A split-second of silence. Then…

 

BOOM!!!

 


 

The explosion rocked the entire building. Windows on the floor hosting the epicentre of the blast splintered into glistening pieces against the bright sunlight from outside. The shockwave expanded upwards and sideways rapidly, the floors above and below the blast heaving up and down from the immense force.

 

The explosion was so intense, those on the top floor felt the floor lift from the shockwave rushing upwards. Cracks appeared on the walls, and pieces of the ceiling came raining down. The weapon tipped over and fell onto its side.

 

“What the-” Iida yelled, loosing his footing and falling to the floor.

 

Uraraka, maintaining her balance, remained standing.

 

Then, she saw the window she needed.

 


 

Meanwhile, back in the observation room, a different set of chaos was unfolding.

 

“Holy fuck!” Kirishima and another boy, Sero Hanta, exclaimed.

 

Their words echoed the sentiment of those watching, eyes wide and jaws hanging open. All Might could only stare at the screen in silence. He had been on the verge of getting Bakugou to desist from the move he was planning through the intercom, when Akatani suddenly attacked and set off the explosion. Now, with the fireball blocking the feed, he didn’t quite know what to do.

 

Kaminari was taken aback by the extent of the explosion, captured entirely in high definition on the screen. He was, naturally, concerned for Akatani when fire erupted and obscured the feed, blocking the fate of both students in the hallway. The feed on Iida and Uraraka remained clear, broadcasting their reactions to the explosion.

 

Then, movement on both feeds caught his attention.

 


 

The shockwave might have dissipated, but the carnage it left behind remained.

 

The floor was an absolute wreck. Large cracks and holes graced the walls, floor and ceiling. Fires of various sizes burned freely, and debris littered the floor. Scorch marks were everywhere.

 

But Akatani was unharmed, thanks in part to the dome of electrical energy that protected him from the worst of the fireball and the shockwave. The same could not be said for Bakugou, who looked a lot worse for the wear after being thrown backwards from the epicentre.

 

The blonde was barely standing, his hair and parts of his skin scorched from the intense heat of the fireball. Scratches and scrapes littered the skin that wasn’t burnt. He appeared to be in a daze, ears ringing from the loud burst of sound echoed by the enclosed surroundings.

 

It was the perfect moment for attack, and Akatani took it.

 

The purple-haired teen leapt forwards, his pulled-back foot springing forth and connecting straight into Bakugou’s stomach. The air knocked from his lungs, the dazed blonde could do nothing as he was tossed to the floor. Akatani was on him in an instant, raining blows one after another on his face.

 

Bakugou weakly tried to fight back with his hands, one gauntlet remaining. But Akatani kicked the gauntlet down the hallway, and stamped hard on both hands. The blonde could only groan in agony, as Akatani pulled back a hand, crackling with electricity.

 

His goggles flickered dangerously from the fires burning around them, accompanied by the ominous glow of his jade-coloured irises bursting through the tinted lenses.

 

“Hasta la vista, motherfucker.”

 

The crackling hand slammed onto Bakugou’s chest, the hallway lit up, and the blonde blacked out.

 


 

Meanwhile, several floors above, Uraraka was also making her move.

 

Taking advantage of Iida’s vulnerable position on the floor, she rushed for him, her fingers touching the chest piece of his armour. Before he knew what was happening, he was already floating upwards. He flailed wildly, even as he hit the ceiling.

 

“No!”

 

Uraraka wasted no further time, not when she felt her stomach on the brink of exploding or the bile rising up her throat. She dashed for the fallen weapon, putting her fingers together.

 

“Release!”

 

Her quirk cancelled, Iida fell to the floor with a loud crash, just as she slammed her palms against the surface of the weapon.

 

“Weapon captured!” Uraraka shouted into her microphone.

 

Floors below her, Akatani slowly rose from his position over an unconscious Bakugou, his glowing irises fading back into the black tint of his goggles.

 


 

Back in the observation room, it was dead silent. The rest of class 1-A were staring at the screens utterly stupefied, trying to process what they had just witnessed unfold. Kaminari looked on with pride, delighted at the way his friend took down Bakugou.

 

Asui was the first to speak, “Well, that was certainly something, kero.”

 

All Might, he appeared, booted back from his own stupor, slowly brings the microphone to his still upturned mouth.

 

“Hero team…WINS!”

 


 

 

Hearing All Might declare him and Uraraka the winners, Akatani slowly released a breath. He took a step away from Bakugou’s unconscious form, but stopped.

 

He glanced down at the lifeless body of his childhood bully, all beaten up and bloody. He wondered to himself, is this what it’s like to have the roles reversed? He certainly felt delight that he had beaten Bakugou to a pulp. He certainly felt relief that that years of bullying and abuse has finally been repaid. And he was certainly proud with himself that the hard work he had put himself through has paid off.

 

So no, this was not the roles being reversed, because the circumstances were different. Bakugou was the aggressor, he was the victim. He was just rising up with strength and taking his aggressor down.

 

Yet at the same time, Akatani felt unsatisfied. And for this, he didn’t need to wonder why.

 

Bakugou is a representation of just how fucked up society is, how the evil rise and are praised, while the good suffer and are scorned. But Akatani knows he can never completely eradicate bastards like Bakugou. It’s just not possible, for the world is imperfect. But if he can ensure just one more person like Midoriya Izuku is able to live their lives happy and go one fewer day being subjected to the cruelty of society, he will be their hero, and the judge of those like Bakugou.

 

And speaking of Bakugou, Akatani couldn’t stand staring at him for another second.

 

The purple-haired teen disdainfully cleared his throat, and spat at his tormentor’s lifeless form, the spittle landing squarely on the cheek.

 

Deed done, Akatani turned away from Bakugou, and walked down the burning hallway for the exit, where most likely, Uraraka, Iida, Kaminari, All Might and the rest of the class were waiting for him.

 


To Be Continued.


 

 

 

Chapter Text

Akatani joined Uraraka and a bashful Iida back in the observation room, as Bakugou was carted off to the infirmary to get treated by Recovery Girl. After receiving praises from Kaminari and the more-vocal students, All Might made a declaration proclaiming Akatani and Uraraka to be the MVPs of the trial.

 

Yaoyorozu explained when given the chance, “Akatani-san made use of quite brilliant tactical analysis and on-the-spot thinking when dealing with Bakugou-san, and the latter can be said for Uraraka-san for taking advantage of the explosion and Iida-san’s distraction to secure the weapon.”

 

All Might agreed, “Very true, young Yaoyorozu! However…”

 

The Symbol of Peace turned to Akatani, “Young Akatani, I must advise you to never spit upon your downed opponents again. It is unbecoming for an up-and-coming hero to display such disrespect, even towards villains!”

 

Eyes turned to Akatani, and brows raised. Apparently, it seemed that not everyone had caught the moment where he spat onto Bakugou, if the looks of surprise and disbelief were any indication. Iida, in particular, was affronted enough to open his mouth to rebuke Akatani for his actions, but whatever words he planned to say died in his throat as the temperature of the room suddenly plummeted.

 

A black aura, dangerous and piercing, rose from Akatani’s body, punctuated by flashes of green electric bolts. He stared dead-straight at All Might, who flinched at the sheer hatred radiating off in the swirling clouds of darkness, the nerve-trembling sight made far worse by Akatani’s irises glowing angrily behind his tinted goggles, flames roaring wildly in the pools of jade and emerald.

 

“That’s funny, you say that when so many heroes are no better than villains themselves.”

 

Words chilled to ice struck everyone gathered inside the room. Several shrunk away from the dark being that appeared to possess the purple-haired teen.

 

“Holy fuck man…” Kirishima cowered alongside Sero.

 

“This darkness…” a bird-headed student, Tokoyami Fumikage, shuddered, “...is unbelievable. Such…strong hatred, a heart full of vengeance.”

 

The entire room was on edge, the general consensus hovering over whether Akatani was going to explode and attack All Might, never mind that the number one hero could literally turn Akatani into a bloody pulp if needed. No one dared move a muscle, lest they miss the moment where the prospective free-for-all was to begin.

 

But that moment…never came.

 

Just as suddenly as it appeared, the deadly aura dissipated like vapour. The temperature in the observation room rose back to normal, and whatever tension that threatened to choke all those who had been watching released its hold and disappeared with Akatani’s cloud of hatred.

 

Breaths that had been unwittingly held were let go almost collectively.

 

Akatani stared at All Might a little longer, then wordlessly stepping away from the number one hero and going up to Kaminari.

 

“How did I do?”

 

The blonde snapped out of his daze, “That was so badass man! You took down Bakahoe like he was nothing but a twig!”

 

Akatani inwardly smiled, ignoring the wary looks of his classmates.

 


 

The rest of the battle trials passed with not much fanfare. Compared to the explosive battle between Akatani and Bakugou, the others were significantly less showy. Save for the battle between Team B (Todoroki and Mezou) and Team I (Ojiro and Hagakure), where Todoroki basically told his teammate to evacuate, froze the entire building (and Team I) with his ice, and single-handedly retrieved the weapon.

 

Another moment of notice came when Yaoyorozu quite angrily tossed Mineta out of a window for attempting to grope her, going on to finish the trial by herself. Akatani had no sympathy for the grape-headed pervert, who only survived the fall by using his balls as a cushion.

 

He added another item to his checklist – find a way to get Mineta expelled.

 

Akatani paid close attention when it was Kaminari’s turn. As the trial played out, two more items quickly found their way into his mental checklist – teach his friend on how to use his quirk effectively, and train him to not solely rely on his quirk.

 

The trial had ended in a dead heat. Kaminari panicked when forced to fight against Ashido and Aoyama, discharging millions of volts of electricity indiscriminately. His teammate, Jirou, and the opposing team were electrocuted and quickly knocked out, while the electricity fried his brain, leaving Kaminari incapacitated and giggling, completely useless.

 

While the look of absolute stupidity on the blonde was amusing enough for even Akatani to find it slightly funny, it was also deeply concerning. Kaminari would be liability to those around him if all he could do was discharge electricity indiscriminately. Furthermore, any villains that were resistant to electricity would have his hide within seconds.

 

Akatani knew he needed to help Kaminari as soon as possible…

 

…once he returned to his normal self first, that is.

 

He can’t really do anything when his friend is a brain-dead, giggling idiot, after all.

 

He’ll speak to him after getting fixed up by Recovery Girl.

 


 

The fated conversation spanned over the next twelve hours or so, beginning when classes ended for the day and the two friends were heading home. It carried on into the night through text messages, and picked up again with the new day after several hours on hold due to sleep.

 

Kaminari, while agreeing that he needed training, became nervous when Akatani started planning everything they needed to cover in order for him to hold his own against enemies.

 

This was the first time the blonde watched his friend go into a deeply analytical mode, possible regiments to hone both his body, agility and quirk, weighing the pros and cons of each, all coming out in almost incoherent muttering. It was…intimidating, to say the least.

 

Kaminari just hoped he didn’t die from whatever his friend had in store for him.

 

As they neared the campus gate, a barrage of noise ahead stopped them in their tracks.

 

“What the fuck…?” Akatani cussed in disbelief.

 

Dozens of reporters were crowding around the gate, cameras flashing and questions shouted at the beleaguered students trying to get to class without getting mobbed by the chaos around them.

 

“What’s going on?” Kaminari asked.

 

Akatani’s ears picked up a question thrown by a reporter.

 

“Is it true that All Might is a teacher here?!”

 

Whatever disbelief Akatani had melted away. Of course this would happen.

 

“Kaminari,” the blonde turned to him, “Stick close to me, and don’t answer any of their questions. We’ll be late otherwise.”

 

“O-Okay…!” Kaminari’s answer ended in a squeak as Akatani grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the crowd of reporters.

 

The blonde felt his heart speed up. His friend’s hand was rough and calloused against his own, borne from prolonged training and hard work. It brought flashbacks of seeing Akatani’s sculpted body in the locker room, something that made Kaminari flush all over, as he visualised every detail of muscle he managed to get a peek at the time. Plus, the fact that they were holding hands like a couple made his stomach go all fuzzy, not helping his thundering heart.

 

But at the same time, it was a useful distraction. Kaminari completely ignored the shouting reporters and flashing cameras, too lost in his fantasies about his friend to notice.

 

He only came back to reality when he felt Akatani remove his hand, at which time he noticed they had crossed through the gate.

 

“Let’s get going,” Kaminari barely heard his friend speak to him, “I don't wish to have to put up with Aizawa’s bullshit if we’re late.”

 

“R-Right!”

 


 

 

Thankfully, they arrived at the classroom before the bell rang. And to everyone’s surprise when the bell rang, Aizawa was nowhere to be seen. Ojiro even went up to check behind the teacher’s desk, no Aizawa there either.

 

Kaminari tapped a pen against Akatani’s shoulder.

 

“Hey dude, since Aizawa-sensei’s late, does that mean we can give him bullshit to deal with when he shows up?”

 

Akatani was really tempted to assent to that notion, had it not been for their homeroom teacher to finally appear in the classroom, looking absolutely done with everything.

 

‘So nothing unusual then,’ he inwardly remarked, while whispering to Kaminari, “A bit too late for that, think the reporters already did that for us.”

 

Aizawa let out one loud sigh, muttering something that Akatani lip-read as “fucking nosy reporters”, before addressing the class.

 

“Alright, for today’s homeroom, we’ll be choosing the roles of class president and vice-president.”

 

A moment of silence, before two waves of noise smashed through.

 

The first wave came as whoop of relief that the class was going to do something completely ordinary for homeroom. The second wave, which came immediately after, started with Kirishima quite abruptly standing up, knocking his chair backwards.

 

“I’ll be the class president!”

 

Ashido shot up, knocking her chair backwards, “No! I’ll be the class president!”

 

A chain reaction followed. One by one, many of Akatani’s classmates loudly staked their claim to the prestigious role, while he himself stayed silent, refusing to add on to the growing barrage of noise.

 

“Pick me! I’m the best choice for class president!”

 

“No pick me!”

 

“Me!”

 

“Everyone! Stop this nonsense immediately!”

 

All eyes turned to Iida. Akatani raised an eyebrow.

 

“The role of class president carries great responsibility in representing the class and looking out for fellow classmates! Your classmates will be coming to you for guidance and help! This is not something to take lightly!”

 

Iida took a breath, “We should uphold our values in democracy and choose our president through a vote!”

 

“But won’t everyone just vote for themselves?” Sero interjected.

 

“How do we know who is the most trustworthy?” Asui added.

 

“Then we will see who gets the most votes!” Iida responded, chopping the air with his hand, “Aizawa-sensei, shall we proceed with the ballot?”

 

“Do whatever you want, just get it done.”

 

With that, Aizawa zipped up his sleeping bag and went to sleep.

 

 

The ballot was done, and the results were in.

 

Several had zero votes, others had one each. All eyes were, however, on the top two names.

 

Yaoyorozu Momo: 3 votes

 

Akatani Mikumo: 2 votes

 

Akatani blinked, ‘Well then…’

 

“Yaoyoruzu and Akatani, come up to the front,” said Aizawa.

 

Both students went up and faced their classmates.

 

“The vote has been decided. Yaoyoruzu is class president, and Akatani is vice-president.”

 

Akatani scanned the class, inwardly curious of who voted for him. He caught Uraraka staring off at the wall, drumming her fingers against her desk. His gaze then met with Kaminari, who winked at him.

 

Okay then.

 


 

“Kaminari, may I know what possessed you to vote for me?”

 

Lunch hour came. Akatani and Kaminari shared a table near the windows, digging into their afternoon meals.

 

“Nothing man!” the blonde replied, mouth half-filled with rice, “You just have the vibe of a leader.”

 

“I’ve never held a position of authority before,” Akatani deadpanned.

 

“No time but the present to start, am I right?”

 

The purple-haired teen had to concede that point to his friend.

 

“Good afternoon.”

 

Both friends looked up. Yaoyorozu and Jirou stood by their table, trays in hand.

 

“May we sit here?” asked the newly-elected class president.

 

“Go right ahead,” Akatani nodded offhandedly.

 

Both girls took the seats next to the two friends.

 

“I look forward to working with you, Akatani-kun,” Yaoyorozu turned to her deputy.

 

“Likewise,” came the polite response, but other than a glance to make eye-contact, no further gesture was given to show an indication that Akatani wanted to continue a possible conversation.

 

This was observed by Jirou, who leaned over to Kaminari, “Is he this cold?”

 

“At the moment,” the blonde whispered back conspiratorially, “but I’ve made it my mission to melt that dark and frozen heart of his to get him embrace the light and magic of friendship!”

 

“You know I can hear you right?” Akatani cut in absolutely deadpan, “You speak with as much subtlety as two pots bashing against each other.”

 

Kaminari laughed, while the two girls weren’t quite sure how to react to the unfolding scene. Akatani sounded unamused, which didn’t explain Kaminari’s laughter. Yet Kaminari had the added advantage of knowing how Akatani operated in social situations like this.

 

Yes, Akatani appeared offended, but there was no real bite to his words.

 

But then again, only he was privy to that knowledge, no one else.

 

Luckily (or unluckily, as we will find out later this chapter), a loud alarm halted all activity at Akatani’s table, and pretty much the entire cafeteria. A loud, electronic voice rang over the blaring noise.

 

“Attention students, an intruder has infiltrated the grounds. This is a level three emergency. Please evacuate calmly and quickly.”

 

And evacuate quickly did the students do. Unfortunately, calmly they did not.

 

Pandemonium ignited in a blink of an eye. Screams, shouts and wails echo intermingled as the students rushed for the doors all at once. The stampede created a bottleneck as students got into each others’ way, pushing and shoving in a mad dash to save themselves from the imminent threat.

 

Back at their table, the four 1-A students tried to figure out what was happening.

 

“Is it really an intruder?” Kaminari asked over the din.

 

Jirou hurried to the window, looking down towards the front gate.

 

“It’s just a reporter!” she shouted back.

 

“We need to get everyone’s attention,” said Yaoyorozu, “before someone gets hurt!”

 

Akatani thought fast, and turned back to his classmates.

 

“Guys, get off of the floor! Don’t ask, just do it!”

 

Glancing at one another, the three students quickly stepped up onto the table-top, or in Jirou’s case, a chair. Akatani hurried up to the crowd of frantic students, electricity crackling all over.

 

He then raised a leg, channelling all of the electricity onto the appendage, and brought it down hard.

 

The impact shot the electricity out of his leg and onto the floor. Crackling hard, it burst outwards in all directions, skimming across the floor. His classmates, who were standing on plastic objects, were unaffected. It was another story for the panicking students.

 

The electricity caught everyone by surprise, inducing a mild, but noticeable shock to their systems. All noise was cut off as bodies jerked and shook out of control from the low-powered electrocution.

 

Taking an advantage of the temporary reprieve, Akatani bellowed, “Everyone! Calm down!”

 

All eyes were now on the purple-haired teen.

 

“It’s just a reporter! Not some villain out for our skins!” Akatani continued, “Do not panic, just evacuate calmly!”

 

In the end, evacuation was needless, as another announcement came over the intercom.

 

“Intruder neutralised, level three emergency lifted. All students may return to previous activities, thank you.”

 

Akatani turned to the staring students, “You heard it. Carry on.”

 

With that, he turned on his heel and returned to the table, his classmates climbing down back to their seats. He sat back down on his chair, stared at his food, and turned to his classmates in a beat.

 

“None of you stepped into the food, I hope.”

 


 

With the fiasco over and done with, life carried on once the lunch hour ended. The four students returned to class amidst stares and whispers, namely at Akatani, who merely took the attention as inconsequential as he returned to his seat.

 

He couldn’t, however, avoid the attention from his classmates.

 

“Hey Akatani!” Sero chivvied into his space, “That was really cool, what you did back in the cafeteria!”

 

“Yeah man!” Kirishima jumped in, “You got everyone’s attention just like that! You’re a natural leader bro! So manly!”

 

“I was only doing what could be done,” Akatani replied stoically, “there’s nothing to it.”

 

“It was a little painful though, kero,” Asui croaked at the side.

 

“Actually, there’s something I need to say, Akatani-san.”

 

All eyes turn to Yaoyorozu as she approached the purple-haired teen.

 

“The way you handled the stampede is nothing short of admirable,” the class president said, “as was your ability to take charge of the situation at a moment’s notice. I feel that it’s only right, that you take on the position of class president, instead of just being the deputy.”

 

Silence reigned for a moment.

 

Akatani responded, “I would have to respectfully decline, Yaoyorozu-san.”

 

“Eh? Why?” Kaminari echoed the confused noise those watching made, “Not to insult class prez and all, but isn’t what she said true?”

 

“We mustn’t forget that Yaoyorozu-san has not yet gotten a chance to show that she is worthy of holding such a position,” Akatani pointed out, “Which was also a reason why I voted for her in the first place.”

 

He turned to face the raven-haired girl, “We have only made each others’ acquaintance not too long ago, but already I know that you are more than capable of leading this class. Furthermore, we need more female leaders in such a patriarchal society. That’s why I believe you should hold on to the position, Yaoyorozu-san, and be our leader through the year. I promise, on my part, to do my best to assist you as your deputy.”

 

Silence followed for a brief moment, broken by Kaminari whooping.

 

“Preach man! Give it up for Yaomomo!”

 

This started a wave of applause and cheers for the class president, who blushed modestly at the attention, before composing herself.

 

“Very well, I promise to do my best as class president!”

 

The noise in the classroom went up by one notch, only to come crashing down with one grating voice.

 

“Shut the fuck up, you loudmouth extras!”

 

All eyes turn to Bakugou, who glared back in irritation, feet kicked up on his desk. A moment passed, before the tension was sliced through with the verbal knife.

 

“This is coming from the guy who is nothing but hot air and noise,” Akatani drawled, “I don’t think you have room to open your shitbag of a mouth.”

 

A moment of silence.

 

“Need some of Todoroki’s ice for that burn, Bakagou?” Kaminari snorted.

 

A chain-reaction of laughter followed, continuing even when Bakugou lunged for the still nonchalant Akatani.

 

“I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU, YOU GODDAMN MOTHERFUC-”

 

And just like that, the explosions bursting on the blonde’s palms abruptly died. Akatani backhanded Bakugou to the floor, as attention from the rest of the class quickly shifted towards Aizawa, quirk activated with a no-nonsense look.

 

“All of you, to your seats, now.”

 

It took only a second for those out of their chairs to rush back. Bakugou took slightly longer, pulling himself off of the floor and stomping back to his seat, growling at Akatani’s dismissive gaze.

 

The purple-haired teen was tempted to give the middle finger in response, but he didn’t want to earn a detention because of Bakugou.

 

“For today’s lesson, things will be a little different,” Aizawa began, “We will be heading outside of campus to the Unforeseen Simulation Joint facility, or U.S.J for short. The facility simulates every known disaster or accident, natural or man-made. Today, you will be doing rescue training to learn how to respond to such events.”

 

A hissing sound. The same slots that appeared with their hero costumes during All Might’s lesson opened.

 

“You’re allowed to wear your costumes for today’s lesson. Just be at the car park in fifteen minutes. Get moving.”

 

And move the class did.

 


 

The first few minutes of the journey passed by innocuously enough. Conversations flew from one end to the other while Aizawa took the wheel. Akatani zoned out almost immediately while Kaminari, who sat next to him on his right, leaned over to talk with Sero about something he couldn’t be bothered to find out.

 

He was just slipping into a quick nap when a finger prodded his arm.

 

Akatani glanced to his left, the seat taken by one Asui Tsuyu.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Your quirk is rather interesting, Akatani-chan,” Asui remarked right out of the blue.

 

“So you say, Asui-san.”

 

“Call me Tsuyu, kero.”

 

Akatani raised an eyebrow, that was unexpected.

 

“Very well, Tsuyu-san. Anything else?”

 

Asui tapped her finger against her chin, “You are rather cold and aloof, Akatani-chan. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think your quirk was ice like Todoroki-chan’s, not electricity.”

 

Inwardly, Akatani groaned. Asui had joined the long list of people who made a comment about his cold aloofness. Yes, he understood that it wasn’t beneficial for maintaining positive social relations, but just because he was the protagonist of this story didn’t mean that he was going to spill his tragic backstory to just anyone when asked.

 

Hell, not even Kaminari, the only person he had allowed himself to grow close to, knew his entire history.

 

Kirishima, bless his pure soul, chose at this point to cut in, relieving Akatani of the need to quite possibly lose his cool on Asui.

 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s ice or electricity, Aka-bro’s got a really flashy quirk!”

 

Akatani glanced at the redhead, who looked wistful for some reason. Enough for him to ignore the fact that his name was butchered without his permission.

 

“On the other hand, though my quirk, Hardening, is pretty cool, there’s nothing flashy about it! I can’t see myself becoming popular with the people!”

 

Akatani took issue with that statement.

 

“What are you saying, Kirishima? Your quirk is extremely useful for hero work.”

 

“Yeah, but you, Todoroki and Bakugou have flashiness and awe to go with your strength! Double the advantage, man! You three are definitely going to go far in the polls!”

 

Okay, Akatani really took offense to that statement. Especially with being paired with that explosive bastard.

 

“First of all,” he leaned forward, goggles glinting severely enough to unnerve Kirishima, “the flashiness of your quirk can easily be a bad thing, nothing more than a liability. What you see on TV is glamourized bullshit. How do you think the public would feel about you if when trying to apprehend a villain, you cause so much collateral damage that innocent bystanders are needlessly murdered?”

 

Kirishima flinched, not expecting the rather scathing perspective.

 

Asui added, “Frankly, I don’t see Todoroki-chan or Bakugou becoming that popular with the masses either, kero. Todoroki-chan is even colder that Akatani-chan, and Bakugou is far too explosive, vulgar and angry to ever be liked by decent people.”

 

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY, FROG BITCH?!” said blonde roared several rows behind them.

 

“You’re not helping yourself here, Bakahoe,” Kaminari smirked, “especially with your personality that just smells of rotten dog faeces fermented by the heat of a clogged sewer.”

 

“I WILL FUCKING END YOUR SMUG ARSE, GODDAMNED PIKACHU!”

 

“Everyone, shut the hell up,” Aizawa’s voice came from the front, silencing all noise in an instant, “or else detention for the next person who makes a ruckus.”

 

That got everyone to zip their lips shut. As the bus continued on its way down the road, Akatani sighed in relief. Finally, some peace.

 

Maybe he could snag that quick nap before they arrive.

 


 

Fifteen minutes later, the bus came to a stop at the entrance of U.S.J. The doors opened with a hiss, allowing the passengers to disembark noisily. The noise turned to awe as the students took in the sight in front of them.

 

It was a huge glass-domed building several storeys high, the sunlight glistening off the spotless panes brightly. By the large blue entrance gate, stood a figure dressed in what looked like a spacesuit.

 

Akatani immediately recognised them. It was Thirteen, the Space Hero and expert in rescue situations.

 

“Good afternoon everyone!” the space hero greeted the class warmly, “I’m the Space Hero, Thirteen, and welcome to the U.S.J. facility for today’s lesson on how to respond to disasters and rescue operations. Follow me, please!”

 

The students trooped in behind the space hero into the facility, and were met with an incredibly impressive sight within.

 

To call the interior massive wouldn’t do the facility any justice whatsoever. Akatani noticed two smaller domes (one red and the other blue), two realistic-looking mountainous areas (one with the remains of buildings and the other a rocky terrain with cliffs), a zone with more buildings in various states of ruin, and a man-made lake with a waterslide and a boat in it.

 

All this under one roof. U.A. was certainly pulling all the stops here.

 

“Wow! It’s like Universal Studios Japan!” Kaminari exclaimed in awe.

 

Akatani had to agree with him on that.

 

“U.S.J is equipped to simulate all types of disasters. Here, we have a conflagration zone, a downpour zone, flood zone, ruins zone, mountain zone and landslide zone. Everything is built to scale and realistic accuracy,” Thirteen explained.

 

As his classmates took in their surroundings with various degrees of awe (or none of it, for some), Akatani noticed Aizawa approach the space hero, speaking in hushed tones.

 

He wasn’t able to pick up most of what the teachers were saying, but he did catch ‘All Might’, ‘absence’ and Thirteen raising three fingers. Connecting the dots, Akatani concluded that All Might was supposed to be part of today’s lesson, but had reached his time limit and was unable to make it.

 

He knew what that meant. He hadn’t forgotten that fateful moment on that skyscraper rooftop.

 

And might as well, Akatani wasn’t sure if he could trust himself to be around that smiling Symbol of Peace without losing his shit.

 

“Anyway,” Thirteen got everyone’s attention again, “before we proceed with today’s lesson, there is something you all need to be aware about.”

 

Everyone was all ears.

 

“Quirks are powerful things, and if used wrongly, can cause untold damage and destruction. For example, my quirk, Black Hole, allows me to suck in and destroy any matter that has an atomic structure. While I solely dedicate my quirk to rescue work, you can see how easily it can be used to kill people.”

 

Dead silence.

 

“I hope that you learn that your quirks are not meant for violence, and you will understand your roles as future heroes is to help others, not fight needlessly.”

 

The silence lasted a moment longer, before being destroyed by Iida clapping loudly.

 

“Bravo! Well said, Thirteen-sensei!”

 

The space hero bowed modestly as the class applauded and cheered for them. Akatani joined in on the clapping, though his mind was elsewhere.

 

What Thirteen said made a lot of sense. However, Akatani knew that this important lesson wouldn’t register in the minds of certain classmates of his, if a certain explosive blonde glaring off to the side was any indication. Furthermore, despite making sense, Thirteen’s words left the ground open for plenty of grey areas to form, questions with no easy answers to, debates with no end in sight.

 

Akatani wondered how these issues were to be tackled.

 

The lights in the dome flickered.

 

Akatani snapped out of his musings, eyes staring at the fountain in the middle of the dome.

 

There was a swirling, black mass hovering near the fountain. It grew bigger, and bigger, until it spanned the distance between the flood and landslide zones. Then, from the swirling abyss, outstretched a pale hand, followed by a body, covered in severed hands. Then came more, more, and more.

 

Akatani’s breath hitched.

 

“Is this part of the simulation?” he heard Kirishima ask.

 

No, this was not part of the lesson.

 

“Thirteen! Protect the students!” Aizawa shouted.

 

They were being invaded.

 

By villains.

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

“Thirteen! Protect the students!” Aizawa shouted.

 

Confusion gave way to guarded horror, as dozens, maybe hundreds, of villains poured out of the swirling dark mass like an advancing army and gathered in the central plaza below them, led by the person covered in severed hands, another who seemed to be made of dark mist and had glowing yellow eyes, plus this…hulking monstrosity with an exposed brain with exposed eyes amidst the brain matter.

 

“W-Who are they?!” Kaminari blanched.

 

“Villains, all of them,” Akatani replied, tone deadly serious.

 

“No way!” Ochako gasped.

 

The one covered in severed hands looked around with almost child-like curiosity, “That’s strange…All Might is not here. That’s not right, our information said he would be here today.”

 

The villain turned to the students, and Akatani caught a flash of madness in his exposed eye, “But maybe he’ll come running if we take out his pride and joy…”

 

Aizawa jumped down to face the first line of villains, easily taking them out with his quirk and capture weapon. Thirteen, meanwhile, began herding the students towards the doors, when suddenly, the same black mist materialises out of thin air, getting in the way of the exit and trapping them.

 

The same glowing yellow eyes appeared in the mist, startling several of students.

 

“Good afternoon,” a dark voice echoed around them, “I am Kurogiri, and we are the League of Villains. We beseech your forgiveness in interrupting your lesson, but we came here today to rid the land of the Symbol of Peace, All Might.”

 

“K-Kill All Might?!” Ashido stuttered in horror.

 

The eyes shifted from right to left.

 

“Yet for some reason, All Might isn’t here. Was there a change of plans?”

 

In such a tense scenario, Akatani knew the worst thing to possibly do was to go all Leeroy Jenkins and attack Kurogiri. Unfortunately, a certain explosive blonde decided to be the dumbass (that he was) and lose his cool (as per usual).

 

“You fucking shitrag! DIE!”

 

“Bakugou, NO!”

 

Akatani’s words fell on deaf ears as the blonde (and Kirishima, for some reason) lunged at the mist villain with explosive and rock-hard attacks. As expected, the attacks had no effect on Kurogiri, who merely blinked at the sudden acts of aggression against him.

 

“My word, that was unexpected,” the villain scoffed, “I didn’t expect the next generation of heroes to be so brash and aggressive. So eager to fight.”

 

Akatani didn’t like where Kurogiri was heading here.

 

“Well, I have my duty to perform. And I’m sure our lackeys will be thrilled to fight with you lot.”

 

The mist expanded, and before anyone could react, it had begun to circle around the students and surge into them. Akatani tried to reach for Kaminari, when the ground below them shifted and seemed to disappear. The last thing Akatani remembered amidst the shouts and screams of his classmates was falling through the swirling mist into darkness.

 


 

The darkness gave way to light.

 

Akatani felt himself falling through the air, everything spinning.

 

Then came the impact – the splash – and suddenly, water, everywhere.

 

He plummeted through limply, before coming to a stop, suspended several feet below the surface. It took a second for his senses to come back and get him to notice that he was underwater, with limited oxygen in his lungs.

 

Akatani flailed a little in an attempt to right himself and swim to the surface, when suddenly, something shot past, barely missing him by an inch.

 

The after-burst of water sent him spinning in the wake. Pushing himself upright, Akatani turned just in time to see the thing that almost crashed into him, a figure who looked like an anthropomorphic shark, slide to a halt not far away.

 

Akatani knew he was in deep shit.

 

The shark person charged at him again. Only kicking out of the way saved him from those sharp, ferocious teeth that glistened from the light above.

 

Akatani knew he had to fight back, or else he’d be reduced to a cloud of blood and body parts at the jaws of this villain. But his lungs were beginning to strain from the lack of oxygen flow, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold his breath. The shark villain making his return not helping matters at all.

 

‘Someone…help…me…’

 

Something shot past his right.

 

It struck the shark villain right in the head with the force of a Shinkansen, propelling him away, deeper into the water and out of sight.

 

Akatani, who by this stage was losing oxygen fast and dark spots beginning to cloud his vision, felt something wrap tightly around his waist. The world suddenly began to accelerate as he was bodily rushed up to the surface.

 

Water gave way to precious oxygen with a splash. Akatani took deep, desperate breaths, mind still spinning wildly from the sudden change of pressure and intake of oxygen. Half-dazed, he felt whatever had wrapped around him gently place him on a hard, dry surface, before unwrapping and retracting away.

 

There he lay, on his side, mask down, hacking up water that managed to get into his lungs from his near-brush with death. As he slowly regained the strength to pick himself up, he heard the water break again, followed by a louder, much-harsher thud not too far from his position, and a quiet groan.

 

Akatani realised, as he stood up, he was on a yacht in the middle of the Shipwreck Zone. With him, was a dazed Mineta, and climbing onto the yacht, was Asui.

 

“You okay, Akatani-chan?”

 

“I think so,” he replied, “Was it you who saved me?”

 

“Yes, kero,” Asui nodded, “You were in trouble.”

 

“You have my thanks for that,” Akatani nodded, “But clearly, the shark villain isn’t the only one we have to worry about.”

 

Both students turned to the water. Heads began popping up, one by one, around the yacht. More villains, including the shark one who nearly did Akatani in.

 

“Hehehe…fresh meat!” one that resembled a crocodile cackled.

 

“Easy bait!” another cheered.

 

Akatani raised an eyebrow. Dangerous as these villains might be in numbers, they were just low-level thugs, more brawn than brain. Numbers to intimidate, expendable, mere cannon fodder in the overall plan.

 

Speaking of plan, Akatani needed to know what was going on.

 

“You think we’re just easy pickings? Clearly your leaders didn’t plan this properly.”

 

At the villains’ confusion, Akatani spread his arms wide, “Look around, water as far as the eye can see, suited for your quirks no doubt. But what your leaders didn’t bother to take into consideration…”

 

He pulled his arms in, producing crackles of green electricity. The confused villains immediately blanched in horror.

 

“…that I have an electric quirk.”

 

Akatani inwardly smirked at the terrified villains.

 

“So now, unless you want me to discharge potentially lethal amounts of electricity into the water and electrocute you all into smouldering crisps, you lot better tell me what the hell is going on here, who is that blue-haired hand-covered son of a bitch, and that giant monstrosity with the beak.”

 

“As if we’d tell you!” one foolhardy villain tried to put up a defiant front.

 

“Oh well…guess you really don’t value your pitiful lives then,” Akatani shrugged, the crackling electricity growing stronger.

 

“Wait! Wait! W-We’ll tell!” a villain with a piranha head intervened.

 

Akatani willed the electricity away, and lowered his arms, “Start talking, then.”

 

“The hand-man’s Shigaraki Tomura! He came with this thing called a Noumu to kill All Might!”

 

“And what is this Noumu?” asked Akatani.

 

“We don’t know! Just some genetically-engineered being made to match All Might! That’s all we were told by Shigaraki!” another villain added quickly.

 

Akatani pondered what was said. A genetically-engineered being? And it has the capability to take on All Might and possibly kill him? This was something worth seeing for himself. All Might was the number one hero, but even he isn’t invincible, if his memory as Midoriya on the skyscraper rooftop served him well. By implication though, this Noumu thing wasn’t invincible either.

 

But that later, now he had to deal with these useless underlings.

 

“Your willingness to talk might have just saved your lives, I’ll give you that.”

 

Akatani could almost see the relief wash over the villains’ faces, thinking that they were spared from the pain of electricity.

 

How wrong they were.

 

“Oh, by the way,” Akatani said, catching the villains’ attention, “I lied.”

 

Before anyone could fully compute what he just said, let alone attempt to swim away, he shot his arm out. Electricity crackled, and blasted from his outstretched hand into the water.

 

The screams of the villains echoed around the dome. They jerked, flailed and danced about like stringed puppets as the electricity travelled through the water, electrocuting them and disrupting all basic function in their systems. Asui watched in silent horror as smoke began to rise from the charring bodies, eyes losing the life within them.

 

She quickly rushed to her classmate, grabbing his upper arm.

 

“Please, Akatani-chan! Stop this! This is too much!”

 

On cue, the electricity dissipated, and the purple-haired teen retracted his hand.

 

“Only because you said so, Tsuyu-san.”

 

She turned to the villains with stricken eyes. The villains were floating face-up (or down), motionless on the water’s surface, smouldering and somewhat charred. Some were groaning quietly, others were silent. Several twitched involuntarily from the residual electricity still rattling their nerves.

 

Asui couldn’t believe the brutality committed before her.

 

“Tsuyu-san, we need to go.”

 

She quickly realised that Akatani had pulled away from her grasp. He was by the still-dazed Mineta, dragging him by the ankle. His hand was outstretched.

 

She felt justifiably reluctant to take his hand, seeing how he callously electrocuted those villains not mere moments prior.

 

“I only hurt those who deserve it,” said Akatani, as if reading her thoughts, “You are far from worthy of such a fate, Tsuyu-san. And besides, I only knocked the villains out, they aren’t dead.”

 

It took another moment, but Asui eventually relented. She went forth and took her classmate’s outstretched hand.

 

“Hold on tight.”

 

There was a flash of light, and a CRACK like lightning. Akatani took off from the deck of yacht, Asui in one hand, Mineta by the ankle in the other, leaving behind the lifeless bodies of the villains who stood no chance against the power of electricity.

 

Coming to a landing at the edge of the man-made lake, Akatani tossed Mineta to the ground and gently released his hand from Asui’s.

 

“What now, Akatani-chan?”

 

The purple-haired teen scanned the scene before them. Up ahead, was the Central Plaza, where the villains had first come through Kurogiri’s portal. Aizawa was still battling the low-level thugs by the fountain. Their teacher, despite the multitudes of villains all coming for him, appeared to be holding his own.

 

That is, until he noticed Shigaraki lunge for Aizawa. His eyes went wide behind his goggles.

 

The hand-covered villain grabbed the underground hero’s elbow. Just like that, the fabric of his hero-suit peeled away and disintegrated before Akatani’s eyes. Aizawa’s skin was just beginning to peel away too when he managed to pull himself from Shigaraki’s grip.

 

‘Handy-man’s got a disintegration quirk. Requires all five fingers to be in contact before activation,’ Akatani thought to himself.

 

Any further analysis of Shigaraki’s quirk had to be put on hold when, apparently on the hand-covered villain’s command, the Noumu pummelled Aizawa to the ground, the sound of bones breaking audible to Akatani’s ears.

 

The Noumu peeled Aizawa off the ground by the hair, and slammed him back down again.

 

Akatani’s eyes narrowed. Not on his watch.

 

“Tsuyu-san, stay with Mineta. Hide yourselves, and get ready.”

 

“Akatani-chan, you can’t be serious.”

 

“I am dead serious, Tsuyu-san. I have officially lost my shite on this.”

 

Before Asui could stop him, Akatani hurtled towards the Central Plaza, electricity crackling madly around him.

 


 

Aizawa groaned in agony. Pain threatened to cloud his consciousness. His elbow was damaged by Shigaraki’s quirk, his other arm broken by the Noumu. And there was so much blood everywhere, staining his face and the ground in puddles. More of the crimson liquid flowed, as the Noumu continued to pound him into the forming crater beneath him.

 

Shigaraki was laughing like a child, an insane one for that matter.

 

“You can feel it, can you, Eraserhead? This is the power that matches your precious Symbol of Peace! How does it feel, to be the test-dummy for the weapon that will, once for all, kill All Might?!”

 

Aizawa gritted against the pain. He wouldn’t deign to give this villain a reply. Especially not when the Noumu was raising him up to slam him back down again.

 

Then, there was a loud CRACK.

 

1-A’s homeroom teacher heard Shigaraki yelp, and the Noumu let out an inhuman screech. The Noumu released its grip on him, letting him fall towards the ground like an apple falling from a tree. He then felt a pair of arms wrap around him, another loud CRACK, followed by the sensation of being airbone.

 

The weightless feeling didn’t last long. Aizawa felt the thud of boots hitting the ground, and a familiar voice reach his ears.

 

“Good, I see you’ve decided to re-join the world of the living and become useful for once, Mineta. Tsuyu-san, I need you and Mineta to take Aizawa-sensei someplace safe. I don’t know if anyone has managed to escape yet to call the staff.”

 

Aizawa heard Asui reply, “There’s nothing stopping you from doing this, kero?”

 

“You got that right, Tsuyu-san. Now go.”

 

Before Aizawa could stop him, there was a third CRACK, and Akatani was gone.

 

The underground hero barely heard Asui tell him that they were about to move. His head was spinning from the brutal attack and suddenly being saved by the vice-president of his class. As he slipped into unconsciousness, Aizawa resolved to have a few words with Akatani as soon as this debacle had ended.

 


 

Meanwhile, Shigaraki and the Noumu had recovered from the sudden electrical attack.

 

“What the…where’s Eraserhead? Where did he go?!”

 

CRACK

 

“Oh, you know, someplace safer. Away from low-life bastards like you.”

 

Shigaraki’s eyes widened as Akatani appeared before him.

 

“Who are you?!”

 

“It’s for me to know, and you to find out, handy-man.”

 

Shigaraki growled at the insulting nickname.

 

“What did you just call me?!”

 

“A handy-man,” Akatani shrugged indifferently, “you know, someone who fixes the plumbing and such. Seriously though, you look like you need a hand at personal hygiene. Ever heard of moisturiser and chapstick?”

 

“Noumu! Kill him!”

 

Akatani huffed, leaping into the air just as the hulking monster brought it’s hand down on the spot where he was standing just a moment prior.

 

“Some people are just so thin-skinned,” he rolled eyes, flying out of the way of the Noumu’s other hand as it swung past.

 

Like an annoying fly, Akatani led the Noumu in a game of cat and mouse. He would hover at one point, only to fly out of the way of the monstrosity’s fists at the last moment. He had to admit; this was fun, not to mention adrenaline-pumping. Shigaraki’s frustrated shouts like a stage parent to their child was the cherry on top of this cake of action.

 

But like all fun moments, things got dull very quickly.

 

‘Enough of this game, time to end this,’ Akatani thought to himself.

 

Just dodging one powerful punch from the Noumu, he unleased a wave of electricity, 電気洪水, strong enough to toe the line of lethality at the monster. The wave struck it’s back with a flash, and the Noumu let out a scream, but one not of pain, but annoyance.

 

Akatani’s breath hitched, ‘How the…?’

 

Shigaraki laughed.

 

“You think it would be so easy? Noumu’s skin is impervious to all quirk attacks! Even All Might’s famous punches!”

 

Akatani dodged a swinging fist, the rush of air almost throwing him off-balance. 電気洪水took out a significant chunk of his core reserves. He needed to conserve his power, and find this monster’s weak point before he either drains through his core from defensive attacks, possibly ending in his death from core depletion, or he gets hit and beaten by the Noumu, possibly ending in his death by broken bones, ruptured organs and blood loss.

 

Dodging another fist, Akatani willed a blade of electricity to appear. Hopefully this would work.

 

Sliding between the Noumu’s legs, he swung the blade with frightening speed. This time, like a hot knife to butter, the electricity sliced through the monster’s legs, the sound of skin, muscle and bone severing and blood splashing ringing in his ears.

 

The Noumu screamed, falling to the ground. Akatani just barely got out of the way before it crashed with an almighty boom.

 

Taking advantage of the momentary reprieve, he swung his blade again. The monster screamed once more, as its arms were severed from its body amidst more splashes of blood.

 

But while the amputation of the limbs provided a few precious seconds for Akatani to catch his breath and consider his next move, he quickly realised how short those few seconds lasted. For while the Noumu was immobile following his skill with the blade, right before his eyes, its limbs began to regrow and regenerate out from the bloody stumps.

 

Akatani heard Shigaraki gloat behind him, but paid the villain no attention. Very well, since making the monster immobile wasn’t good enough, he needed to make the immobility permanent.

 

Because for all the Noumu’s monstrous state, it was still human, or once was a human. That probably meant that it needed a heart, lungs and brain to function properly.

 

Right, so be it then.

 

As the Noumu’s limbs finished regenerating and it began to pick itself off the ground to continue the fight, Akatani moved in for the final attack.

 

Jumping up into the air to face the monster as equals, Akatani willed more electrical power into the blade, make it bigger and longer. Dodging one massive hand trying to grab him, he flew closer to the Noumu’s neck. Raising his blade high, with a loud shout, he brought it down with a sweeping swing.

 

Skin tore, muscle snapped and bones shattered.

 

With a splatter of blood, the head came clean off, hurtling off towards the fountain like a baseball.

 

It landed with both a crash and a splash, the immense weight of the decapitated head destroying the fountain’s structure and the blood still spurting from the severed arteries staining the water red.

 

The headless body, meanwhile, had begun to fall backwards. Still airborne, Akatani dove down onto the monster’s chest, right over where the heart was located. Raising the blood-stained electrical blade once more, he brought it straight down into the heart.

 

More blood spurted, some of it splashing onto Akatani’s face. He twisted the blade for good measure to completely destroy the still-beating heart. Pulling the blade out of the flesh, he leapt off the Noumu’s body, just as it crashed to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust that blanketed the plaza.

 

As the dust hovered, Akatani landed, dispersing the blade back into his core. He waited for the dust to settle, and for Shigaraki to come into view.

 

Coughing and spluttering, the hand-covered villain was greeted with an impossible sight. The Noumu, carefully engineered to match All Might in strength and power, was on the ground, motionless, it’s head severed at the neck, lying forgotten at the ruined fountain, and blood pouring freely from the stab wound to the heart.

 

There was no more life. It was dead.

 

Taken down not by All Might, the boss of the final dungeon, but this unknown NPC who shouldn’t have that much power! NPCs are just meant to be sitting ducks, not getting in the player’s way. But this…person, just ruined everything!

 

Shigaraki let out a strangled cry. This wasn’t supposed to happen! Their greatest weapon to kill the Symbol of Peace, cut down by this insignificant brat!

 

Fury soared through his veins.

 

He just wanted to grab this brat’s neck and disintegrate it, so he can kill that gloating, nonchalant look off of his face! Oh yes, give that fucking lowly NPC will die a slow, agonising death for getting in the way and messing everything up! But he saw that blade of electricity, and knew that he’ll be cut to pieces should he try.

 

Can this get any worse?

 

 

 

 

Apparently, it can.

 

A portal swirled into existence. Kurogiri stepped out.

 

“Shigaraki.”

 

“What?!”

 

“We have to retreat. One of the students managed to escape. Reinforcements will definitely be on their way at this rate.”

 

Even with the severed hand covering his face, Akatani swore veins would be popping up all over the villain’s forehead.

 

“No…this can’t…this can’t end like this,” Shigaraki murmured with barely held-back rage, “We were supposed to kill All Might, but he never bothered to show his smiling face and face us. Then our Noumu gets killed by this…this…”

 

Akatani merely raised an eyebrow as hand-villain’s ire was turned on him.

 

“…this NPC! Who should’ve have been killed where you were teleported away!”

 

“Well clearly you didn't do your research,” Akatani drawled, raising a hand that was crackling with electricity, “You shouldn’t have sent a person with an electric quirk to a body of water. I think your lackeys can attest to that…provided they’re still alive that is.”

 

Shigaraki growled, “You ruined everything! If All Might doesn’t dare show his face, we’ll take his pride by killing you instead!”

 

Kurogiri tried to stop him, but Shigaraki was too consumed by rage to be stopped. The hand-villain lunged for Akatani, hand outstretched and aimed for his face. Akatani would have yawned as if bored out his mind if it weren’t for the fact his life was in danger. So he acted as he would usually do.

 

Releasing a jolt of electricity that momentarily distracted Shigaraki, he ducked low, keeping one fist raised to deliver a powerful blow that he swore made the villain’s jaw crack. It also knocked the disembodied hand on his face clear off, sending it flying through the air like the Noumu’s head previously and landing some distance away.

 

As Shigaraki reeled in the pain left by the blow, Akatani swung a leg out and struck the villain at the back, sending him toppling face-first to the ground.

 

Akatani was on him in seconds, his hands pressing Shigaraki’s head into the ground and anchoring the villain’s hands with his boots.

 

Kurogiri meanwhile tried to create a portal to save his comrade. He didn’t get much far when explosions rocked the plaza, and something collided head-on with him, sending him sprawling to the ground.

 

He tried to get back up, only for whoever it was who crashed into him to hold him down and their hand to land heavily on his metal neck-piece.

 

“Gotcha now, mist-face,” Bakugou smiled dangerously, “One move from you, and I’ll blow your neck armour and body sky-high!”

 

If Akatani had been paying attention to that little scene off to the side, it would be one of the (extremely) rare moments where he might consider thanking the explosive blonde for keeping Kurogiri off his back. But he hadn’t, so that thought never crossed his mind. Instead, he focused on dealing with the struggling Shigaraki beneath him.

 

The villain needed his hands for his quirk to work. So why not punish him for the entire debacle on that?

 

Akatani stepped harder on Shigaraki’s hands, applying more pressure as the muffled screams grew louder. Bones creaked and cracked, before the very definitive sound of said bones fracturing punctuated the screams of agony.

 

He would have put in more pressure until the fractured bones had been ground to powder, had he not been momentarily distracted by the sounds of the front door blowing inwards and a familiar trademark catchphrase echo across the dome.

 

“Have no fear! Everything is all right, for I AM HERE!”

 

The star of the hour and original target of this debacle, All Might, has finally made his appearance, Akatani thought sardonically, moments before he was pushed off by Shigaraki.

 

Rolling and picking himself up in one fell swoop, Akatani heard another brief scuffle. This time Bakugou was thrown off of Kurogiri and teleported to the other side of plaza.

 

‘Must have also been distracted, just like me,’ he thought to himself, ‘How careless of me.’

 

Akatani turned to Shigaraki, who looked absolutely gleeful at the Symbol of Peace finally coming to fight them as originally planned. The inside of his stomach curdled.

 

‘God, he really does need that moisturiser and chapstick.’

 

Though whatever glee Shigaraki had quickly died when Kurogiri appeared behind him via portal and laid a misty hand on the younger’s shoulder.

 

“We can’t fight him. Our Noumu is dead. We’ll be wiped out instantly.”

 

Akatani could see the myriad of emotions flashing across Shigaraki’s face. He looked so desperate, like a child in want of a toy. But such want melted away into frustrated resignation.

 

“Fine, let’s go.”

 

Shigaraki took a step, then started.

 

“Wait…”

 

Akatani observed the villain feel his face, noticing one finger from each hand lifted upwards away from contact.

 

“Father…where is Father?!”

 

Akatani raised an eyebrow. Handy-man called the hand that was previously attached to his face ‘Father’? Something must be really messed up in his brain to give names to inanimate objects.

 

 

 

 

Unless…if the horrifying thought that had just flashed into his mind was correct…

 

He turned to the disembodied hand, lying innocently several paces away.

 

His stomach curdled again.

 

Ignoring Shigaraki’s frantic cries, Akatani stepped over to the hand, and picked it up. It was cold to the touch, and the skin was pale, almost snow-white. The flesh was firm and the skin elastic. It was flexible too; the fingers moved easily at the joints, as if the appendage had been severed off from a newly deceased corpse. Instinctually though, Akatani knew that the hand was not fresh. But still, it must have been soaking in some preservation solution like formaldehyde for ages since not even the slightest bit of rot or decay marred the flawless skin.

 

 

 

 

You know what?

 

Despite the uncomfortable churning of his stomach, Akatani figured it would be nice to have a keepsake from this debacle. Plus, judging from how mental Shigaraki was becoming, the hand might be a good send-off for the insane villain.

 

He turned back to the scene, disembodied hand in hand. Shigaraki, as expected, had a look of pure madness, scrabbling about like a wild animal looking for his father’s hand. Kurogiri, meanwhile was trying to pull the frantic villain towards the portal he’d made. To Akatani’s left, he could see All Might running down the stairs towards the plaza.

 

He had to do this quickly.

 

“Oi! Handy-man!”

 

All eyes turned to Akatani. All Might came to a stop.

 

“Looking for this?”

 

He held the disembodied hand into view.

 

Like a firework going off, Shigaraki exploded.

 

“Give it back! Give it back to me! How dare you treat Father like this?! Give it back!”

 

Akatani pretended to think about it.

 

“I think not. It would be an interesting keepsake from this shit-show. And besides, if this is your father’s real hand, then…”

 

Those present watched as Akatani folded the fingers of the disembodied hand into the palm, save for the middle finger, which he adjusted straight up.

 

Once done, he turned the offensive gesture towards Shigaraki, flicking up his own ‘bird’ as he smirked, “…I think this represents how disappointed he would be to see his son become such a disgusting villain.”

 

Shigaraki’s eyes bulged with apoplectic rage, his struggles growing wilder.

 

“HOW DARE YOU?! HOW COULD YOU DEFILE FATHER LIKE THAT?! GIVE HIM BACK! GIVE HIM BACK!!!”

 

Akatani couldn’t resist the smirk that formed behind his mask. Kurogiri was now manhandling a screaming Shigaraki towards the portal. Without so much as a glance on anyone, the mist villain stepped through, taking the hand-villain with him. The piercing wails dissipated with the portal, fading away into nothing.

 

Silence reined for several long moments. No one watching quite knew what to do next.

 

Akatani lowered his raised middle finger, content that this shit-show had finally come to an end.

 

“Young Akatani…”

 

He turned towards All Might, eyebrow raised.

 

“What kept you?” he asked questioningly.

 

All Might couldn’t ignore the disembodied hand giving him the middle finger pointed directly at him.

  


To Be Continued.


 

 

Chapter Text

Shortly after, the rest of U.A.’s staff show up, lead by Iida, who Akatani found to be one to managed to get past Kurogiri and make his escape back to the campus to call for backup. Backup that was ultimately needless, since Shigaraki and Kurogiri had already made their escape, leaving behind a USJ in a mess, and one decapitated Noumu corpse.

 

Damage control and recovery was implemented almost immediately. The police and paramedics had been dispatched, and the staff gathered together the rest of Class 1-A to check them over for any injuries that needed immediate medical attention.

 

Thankfully, besides Thirteen, who had the unfortunate business of getting part of their back destroyed by their own quirk when Kurogiri had used a portal against them, and Aizawa, no one suffered any major injuries aside from a few cuts and scrapes.

 

Kaminari was an exception, having short-circuited his brain discharging his electricity all in one go to defeat the villains in the mountain zone, where he, Yaoyorozu and Jirou were teleported to. As Akatani watched his friend stumble about stupidly giving two thumbs-up, face twisted in a goofy grin and a bit of blood dribbling from his nose, he reinforced his plan to train up Kaminari to prevent yet another situation where his friend could quickly become a liability for uncontrolled use of his quirk.

 

Akatani heard the sirens wailing. Time to move, he thought to himself, as he was herded out with the rest of his classmates by the staff.

 


 

Meanwhile, somewhere else in the city, in what appeared to be a regular well-stocked pub, a portal opened. The once quiet room was filled with screams and wails as Kurogiri stumbled through, still manhandling Shigaraki. Only when the portal close behind them, did the hand-villain finally break out of Kurogiri’s grip, crumpling to the floor in a heap.

 

To the side, was a flat-screen monitor, currently powered-off.

 

But not for much longer.

 

The screen flickered to life, and for a moment, all one could see was static.

 

Then, the image cleared into a silhouette of a man, who spoke in a deep, gravelly voice.

 

“Tomura, Kurogiri, how did it go? And what happened to the Noumu?”

 

The mist-villain, walking to the back of bar counter, replied resignedly, “Dead.”

 

“Dead?” the silhouette repeated, as if not quite believing Kurogiri, “By All Might?”

 

“No…” Kurogiri fidgeted with a glass, “by one of the students.”

 

While the silhouette started at this unexpected information, Shigaraki was going berserk. He threw furniture, disintegrated them and other things around the bar, screaming and fuming in uncontrollable rage. He didn’t care that his hands were fractured, his anger overriding any pain he might have felt.

 

“I’ll destroy his fucking face and tear apart his body! I’ll kill him for taking Father and mocking him! I’ll kill him! I’LL KILL HIM!!!”

 

“Tomura, calm yourself this instant,” the silhouette ordered with no room for refusal.

 

The hand-villain finally stopped destroying the bar, but one could still feel the raw anger radiating off him.

 

“Tell me everything, Tomura, from the very beginning.”

 

Barely holding his flaming temper in, Shigaraki recounted everything, from how All Might was not with the class as predicted, to Kurogiri scattering the students all over USJ. But as he got to the part where Akatani became involved, his already-thinning control over his anger began to fray even more.

 

“…and that fucking NPC, Sensei, with zero importance, just flies up and decapitates our Noumu with his electricity! It’s impossible! Electricity can’t do that! He must have cheated, somehow. He just took it down like a low-level boss!”

 

Shigaraki began to tremble.

 

“Then…he…he stole Father from me! And broke my hands! All with that smug look on his face! He thinks he’s so good, that he’s the MVP, but he’s not! He’s just a cheating NPC! NPCs aren’t supposed to have such power! It’s just…just…”

 

He let out a frustrated scream, disintegrating the bar top, much to Kurogiri’s chagrin. “Sensei” looked thoughtful.

 

“…so UNFAIR! What gives that fucker the right to upstage everything?! Nothing! NOTHING! He deserves to DIE! And I will KILL HIM!”

 

“Tomura, calm yourself.”

 

Halting another disintegrating rampage, “Sensei” addressed Shigaraki, “Come to my room, Tomura, and show me your hands. I also have something to tell you.”

 

With that, the screen flickered out. Shigaraki slowly pulled away from the bar, and went through a door off to the side without a further word. Kurogiri sighed, returning to the glass he had been cleaning. Hopefully, he could get a short while of peace without Shigaraki destroying his bar.

 


 

Back at USJ, the cleanup, recovery and damage-control were still ongoing. With the students accounted for, Principal Nezu, and hero teachers Midnight and Snipe went inside to survey the damage. The police split their duties between questioning the students, removing the decapitated Noumu corpse for study in their forensics department, and rounding up the remaining villains who still lingered in the facility. Paramedics had loaded Aizawa and Thirteen into a waiting ambulance, speeding off with sirens wailing towards the main campus for immediate treatment. Other ambulances were likewise loaded with villains in need of medical treatment themselves.

 

Akatani, as with his classmates, found himself being questioned. But since he was at the forefront of the confrontation with Shigaraki and the Noumu, Lead Investigator Detective Tsukauchi Naomasa took his statement. Tsukauchi then told Akatani, once he had finished, to hand over the disembodied hand that he stole from Shigaraki as evidence. While disappointed that his keepsake was taken away, Akatani took slight pleasure in observing the discomfort that flashed over the detective’s face, since the hand was still folded into the offensive ‘bird’ gesture.

 

After passing the hand to another police officer, Tsukauchi spotted Principal Nezu and the two teachers exiting the facility. Excusing himself, the detective went up to speak to Nezu. Akatani took this dismissal and returned to where his classmates were gathered.

 

He spotted Yaoyorozu and Jirou standing together, and went up to them.

 

“Hey, are you both okay?”

 

“Oh, Akatani-san,” Yaoyorozu turned to him, “yes, we’re both fine. Just a couple of scrapes.”

 

“Did the villains give you two any trouble?”

 

“At first,” Jirou replied, “but Kaminari incapacitated them with his quirk.”

 

“I was able to cover the both of us with an insulating shield to protect against the electricity,” Yaoyorozu added.

 

“I see,” Akatani nodded, “My guess is that Kaminari’s brain is still fried?”

 

Jirou pointed with her thumb over to the stumbling blonde, goofy grin still in place, eyes unfocused and glassy. Both thumbs were up, and he was making weird, unintelligible noises that Uraraka and Asui seem to find funny.

 

Akatani sighed, training it is then.

 

“Excuse me, Akatani-kun?”

 

He turned around. Principal Nezu had come up to him, hands (paws?) clasped behind his back.

 

“Principal Nezu, is something the matter?” asked Akatani.

 

“Nothing big,” the bear (or mouse? or dog?) figure smiled amicably, “I heard from Detective Tsukauchi about what you did. Really brave of you, actually, to take on that Noumu and come away with barely a scratch.”

 

“I did what I had to do,” Akatani shrugged, “It’s either it dies, or we all die.”

 

“Very true, very true,” Nezu nodded, “Still, there are many factors of today that require a second look. In fact, I would very much like it if we could have a private chat in my office afterwards.”

 

Akatani steeled his reaction.

 

“You’re not in trouble, I assure you, Akatani-kun,” said Nezu, “There are things we need to discuss with regards to what you had to do, and how you did it. For greater understanding and clarity, in simple terms, for the both of us.”

 

Said student released a breath. That was certainly more palatable.

 

“Alright, Principal Nezu.”

 


 

 

A final check of Class 1-A’s students was carried out, before they were dismissed and allowed to return to campus. Kaminari eventually returned to the world of functionality just as the class were packing up. Noticing that Akatani was not amongst them, he had asked Yaoyorozu if she knew where his friend was.

 

Being told that Akatani was in a meeting with Principal Nezu, Kaminari staked outside the principal’s office while everyone else left. Hours passed, but the blonde stayed put, sitting down when his legs grew tired from standing. Even nightfall did nothing to sway Kaminari, apart from pulling out his phone to make a call to his mom to let her know he’ll be late coming home, and to play games until his friend emerged.

 

Just as he was tackling the latest match-it puzzle, Kaminari heard incomprehensible voices, followed by the door opening.

 

“I shouldn’t keep you any longer, Akatani-kun,” came Principal Nezu’s voice, “I’m sure your parents are worried.”

 

“It’s fine, Principal Nezu,” that was his friend speaking, “I’m glad that we had this talk.”

 

“It’s my pleasure. You should get going though, you don’t want to keep your friend waiting for any longer.”

 

It was only then did Akatani peek out the door, noticing Kaminari waiting expectantly for him.

 

“Kaminari? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you have gone home first?”

 

“No way man!” the blonde mock-gasped, “I could never leave you to go home by yourself! Plus, it’s super lonely. A bro should never leave his bro all alone!”

 

Akatani’s cold, dead heart fluttered a little.

 

“You have an extremely loyal friend there, Akatani-kun,” Nezu remarked, “Treasure him deeply, you don’t often find such strong friendships nowadays.”

 

“I know, I’ll remember that.”

 

“Well then, I shan’t keep you any longer. Have a safe trip home you two.”

 

“Thanks, Principal Nezu,” both students chorused at the same time.

 

With parting bows of farewell, the two students took their leave. They stayed in companionable silence as they left the campus, entering the lit streets of the still-bustling city.

 

As they approached U.A. station, Akatani broke the silence.

 

“Kaminari, we don’t have school tomorrow, right?”

 

“Yeah, we were given the day off to recover from what happened at USJ,” the blonde nodded, “What about it?”

 

“Do you have any plans?” Akatani asked.

 

“No…why?”

 

“Yaoyorozu-san told me what happened earlier at USJ, how you discharged electricity indiscriminately to take out the villains. While effective in that situation, you can’t expect all kinds of villains to be susceptible to such a random attack.”

 

“Yeah…” Kaminari scratched his cheek, “You mentioned this before.”

 

“Also, it is dangerous to just be reliant on your quirk. If there is a villain who is resistant or immune to electrical attacks, you will be taken down before you know it. You need to be able to attack physically to give yourself an edge. If not, you’re likely to become a liability to other heroes, or unable to hold yourself if alone.”

 

Kaminari’s hand trailed down to his heart, “You’re really blunt, aren’t you?”

 

“I don’t sugar-coat things, as Aizawa-sensei would do,” Akatani shrugged, “Going off-topic for a moment, despite the rather unethical “motivational” method he decided to pull off on our first day at U.A., Aizawa-sensei was right to say that the world of heroics is a dangerous one. Just look at what happened earlier today! Furthermore, you’ve gotta give the man some respect for putting his life on the line to protect us.”

 

Akatani gave his friend a pointed look, “Because trust me, getting your elbow partially disintegrated and your body shattered by a genetically-engineered monster is not fun. Period.”

 

Kaminari nodded, swallowing at the mental image.

 

“That’s why being able to hold out by yourself and getting the upper edge is important,” Akatani said, “And since you don’t have any plans tomorrow, meet me at Dagobah Municipal Beach tomorrow at sunrise, I need to start training you.”

 

“T-Training?”

 

“Yes, training,” Akatani looked at Kaminari dead in the eyes, “To keep yourself and others alive. To save others is the ultimate goal of a hero. But staying alive to save others is on the same plane as that. I’m doing this for the both of us, so that not only will you become a great hero someday, I can sleep a little better knowing the person I care about is able to hold his own in battle and in crisis.”

 

 

 

 

“Kaminari?”

 

The blonde had gone stock-still, eyes wide, mouth hanging open slightly. Silent as a grave.

 

Then, the tears came.

 

“Why are you crying?”

 

“You…you c-care for…me…”

 

Akatani raised an eyebrow.

 

“Of course I care for you. You're my friend.”

 

If anything, his nonchalant response made the tears fall harder.

 

“I can die happy now,” Kaminari happy-wept, throwing himself onto Akatani, “I’ve managed to thaw your frozen heart. I have fulfilled my life’s purpose! Anything is possible now!”

 

Akatani said nothing, even when his friend’s tears began to stain his uniform. He just chalked it up to Kaminari being Kaminari. Waiting for the blonde to stop crying, Akatani nonchalantly patted his back in a half-hearted attempt to soothe him.

 

Eventually, the tears stopped. The pair separated, Kaminari rubbing his eyes.

 

“So, Dagobah beach, tomorrow at sunrise,” Akatani reiterated.

 

“Absolutely! I’ll be ready! Train me until I am sore all over!” Kaminari pumped his fist in the air.

 

“I’ll take your word for that, for I’m not going easy on you.”

 


 

The first glows of sun slowly pushed away the darkness of the night as the new day began. On Dagobah beach, a lone figure, wearing nothing but a pair of sweatpants, stood on the pristine, glittering sand, gazing out to the horizon as sunrise approached.

 

Well…he would have done that, if the sight of litter already beginning to accumulate on the would-be pristine sand hadn’t drawn his frustration.

 

A vein pulsed in Akatani’s forehead. His efforts to clean the beach was starting to become undone by the callous thoughtlessness of others! Gosh did he want to electrocute those imbeciles for ruining his hard work!

 

Turning a hand towards an empty soda can, Akatani released a beam of electricity. It enveloped the can, before spider-webbing out along the entire length and breadth of the beach, hitting other metallic litter. Raising his hand, Akatani levitated the ensnared litter off the sand, pulling them into a coalesced ball, then sending it over to the nearest trash can.

 

“That’s really impressive, Akatani.”

 

Dropping the litter into the bin, the purple-haired teen broke the connection as Kaminari, dressed in exercise clothing and holding a water bottle, made his appearance.

 

“You’re early,” Akatani remarked, “I wasn’t expecting you for another half an hour or so.”

 

“Couldn’t wait, man,” Kaminari replied, “I’m too excited for your training!”

 

‘I’ll see how long you retain that sentiment,’ Akatani thought to himself, “Alright, first things first, warm-up. We’re going to run along the beach from one end to the other, until I say stop.”

 

“Yosh! Let’s do this!”

 


 

Kaminari certainly wasn’t feeling so pumped up some time later, the sun now halfway over the horizon.

 

The blonde’s stamina was paltry at best. They hadn’t even finished the second lap across the beach and he was already dry-heaving for air and stumbling, legs shaking and barely holding him up. Akatani, on the other hand, hadn’t even broken into sweat yet, his breathing still regular and normal.

 

“I take everything back,” Kaminari wheezed, “This is hell!”

 

“You’re just not used to it,” said Akatani, “We’ll have to work on this. But for now, that’s enough. Take a five-minute rest.”

 

Kaminari all but collapsed face-first into the sand. Unaffected by his friend’s dramatics, he electro-kinetically pulled the blonde’s water bottle into his hand, placing it by the still-groaning teen’s head.

 

“Drink up, I don’t want you fainting from heatstroke.”

 

The blonde took the bottle, pulled his face up from the sand, and gulped down the water greedily like a parched man in a desert stumbling upon an oasis. Once his thirst was quenched, he face-planted back into the sand, unmoving.

 

Akatani sighed, turning away from his friend to stare out towards the horizon. The sun had fully come into view, the last vestiges of night being chased away by the rays of orange and yellow. The ocean shimmered under the sun’s light, the waves undulating with sparkling ebbs of brightness.

 

It was a beautiful sight, something Akatani knew Kaminari was missing out because he was still face-down on the sand and snoring.

 

 

 

 

Snoring?

 

Akatani turned to his friend. He realised he wasn’t hearing things.

 

Kaminari had fallen asleep where he laid.

 

 

 

This would not do.

 

Going over to his sleeping friend, Akatani effortlessly picked him up bridal-style, all without waking the blonde up. He then stepped over to the water’s edge, where the incoming wave barely skimmed his shoes.

 

Waiting for the right moment, Akatani heave-hoed, and threw Kaminari into the sea.

 

The blonde hit the water with a splash, waking up instantly. An incoming wave chose at that same moment to wash over him, soaking him completely. Not expecting to be engulfed by water, Kaminari screamed and flailed about, thinking he was drowning. It took him several moments to realise that he was in several centimetres of water, not lost in the vast depths of the ocean.

 

He further realised that he made a complete fool of himself in front of his friend-slash-slave-driver, whose arms were crossed over his bare chest and giving him the most unimpressed look he could describe.

 

“Heh heh heh…sorry?”

 

The unimpressed stare did not let up, “Did you sleep at all last night?”

 

Kaminari glanced downwards guiltily, “A…couple of hours?”

 

Akatani sighed, pinching his nose.

 

“You’re going to maintain an eight-hour sleep schedule every night, or so help me I will break into your home and force you to sleep.”

 

“Y-Yes sir.”

 

Akatani sighed again, walking over to pull a still dripping-wet Kaminari to his feet.

 

“Right, now that we’ve cleared things up, we’re going to start with how to defend yourself. I want you to punch me in the face.”

 

 

 

 

“What?”

 

“Punch me in the face, Kaminari,” Akatani repeated.

 

The flash of horror on the blonde’s face was noticeable to anyone.

 

“Kaminari, I need you to forget me as your friend for this. Picture me as some villain about to kill you. The only way to save yourself is to sock the living daylights out of me, so do it,” Akatani pressed.

 

Kaminari swallowed hard, clenching his hand into a fist. Releasing a breath, he raised his fist. Shutting his eyes, he threw the punch.

 


 

Progress was ultimately slow that morning, but they did get somewhere. Kaminari, when pressed, was able to throw a decent punch, if the bruise on Akatani’s cheek was any indication, along with having to click his jaw back into place.

 

They had then moved towards the beginnings of self-defence, namely how to dodge a punch or blow from the opponent, before throwing a punch yourself. It took many tries, with Akatani holding back his strength in his blows at first. Kaminari was eventually able to dodge while holding himself steady to throw a punch, but not after receiving many a punch to the face himself.

 

By this time, the sun was well up in the sky, and it was starting to get hotter.

 

“Alright, that’s enough for today.”

 

Kaminari was once again on the sand, panting hard, sweating buckets. He was thoroughly knackered.

 

“Get up, we’re going back to my place for brunch.”

 

The blonde shifted, “Could…could you carry me? I…I can’t feel my legs. And my a-arms are jelly.”

 

All was silent for a moment.

 

“Fine, but only this once. You’re expected to pick yourself up after this.”

 

“I know,” Kaminari mumbled, gazing up to his friend with a tired smile, “You’re the best.”

 

Akatani released a breath. Going over to pick up his friend’s bag and sling it across his chest, he went back to the blonde. Crouching down, Akatani took Kaminari’s arm, slinging across his shoulders. With a bit of manoeuvring, he was able to pick his friend up in a piggy-back with no more than a grunt.

 

Everything in order, Akatani trekked away from the beach back up to the road.

 

Walking towards the bus stop, the purple-haired teen felt his friend nuzzle his cheek against the nape of his neck. Unable to stop the soft grin from spreading his lips, Akatani returned the gesture by leaning his head back to nuzzle Kaminari. The grin became slightly wider when the blonde giggled quietly in response.

 

For that exact moment, as they waited for the bus to arrive, Akatani could say that life was good.

 


 

That coming weekend was divided between Kaminari and Akatani training together at Dagobah beach, and getting ahead on their schoolwork, alternating at each other’s homes.

 

Kaminari had asked why the focus on academics. Akatani bluntly responded that despite being a heroics school, it was still a school, so academic learning was still a must. Heroics was not all about fighting and weapons blazing, he added; brains, strategy and learning from history were also important aspects not to be ignored. Plus, the purple-haired teen made it quite clear that he wasn’t going to have his friend flunk his way through his time at U.A. and unable to graduate as a hero. Not on his watch.

 

So the weekend was a busy one for the two friends. But their schedule was about to get even busier.

 

School reopened with the new Monday. The routine to U.A. was no different, though Akatani heard commuters talking about the USJ incident and the statement released by the school. From what he gathered, there was concern about how villains were able to infiltrate U.A.’s security, but there was also boundless relief that none of the students were seriously injured.

 

Meeting Kaminari at the station, there was relief shared between the two friends to see that there was no media frenzy waiting for them outside the gates this time round, allowing them safe, uninterrupted passage to class.

 

Entering the room and reaching their desks, Kaminari turned to Akatani, “Say, since Aizawa-sensei got messed up pretty bad, who do you think is gonna replace him?”

 

Akatani glanced to the side. Kirishima was holding a mostly one-sided conversation with Bakugou.

 

“Who knows? But things wouldn’t have gotten so complicated in the first place, if it weren’t for a certain explosive son of a bitch and his masochistic redheaded friend,” he replied a bit louder than necessary.

 

Bakugou whirled around so fast he almost got whiplash.

 

“The fuck did you say?!”

 

Akatani turned to the snarling blonde, undeterred, “If you and Kirishima hadn’t gone all Leeroy Jenkins on Kurogiri at USJ, things wouldn’t have descended into hell in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, Aizawa-sensei wouldn’t have been severely injured then.”

 

Bakugou was ready to lunge for Akatani, only held back by Kirishima.

 

“I know, I’m sorry! It was so not manly of us!” the redhead apologised, “C’mon Bakubro, apologise too.”

 

“Fuck no! I didn’t do shit!” Bakugou flicked the ‘bird’ at Akatani.

 

The purple-haired teen rolled his eyes, “Oh don’t worry, you’re excused Bakahoe. It’s clear that your overinflated ego and inferiority complex prevents you from understanding when you’re in the wrong and having even the slightest sliver of basic decency needed to pull off something as difficult as an apology. So yeah, you can go back to being the piece of dog-shite you are and spare us the agony of having to deal with your general nastiness.”

 

All conversation around them stopped. The latest roast has been dropped.

 

Kaminari snorted, turning around, “Yo Todoroki! Think you could come here and ice the Pomeranian? That burn was intense!”

 

Smatterings of laughter followed the electric blonde’s jibe. Bakugou’s temper, on the other hand, went through the roof.

 

Breaking out of Kirishima’s grasp with an explosion to the face, he lunged for Akatani, screaming with palms exploding, “YOU HAVE A FUCKING DEATH WISH, ARSEHOLE? I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU, YOU GODDAMN SON OF A-”

 

There was a whoosh. To Akatani’s surprise, he recognised that familiar capture weapon wrapped tightly around Bakugou. His eyes led the others to the door, centring on what looked like an ancient Egyptian mummy with their teacher’s messy hair and clothes, one arm in a sling.

 

Silence reigned for a moment, broken by Iida sputtering, “A-Aizawa-sensei…?”

 

A loud sigh escaped from the mummified figure.

 

“Just got out of the hospital, and I already have to deal with the explosive problem child. I feel like this is some overused story trope, which I’m not being paid enough to endure.”

 

The eternally-exhausted man unceremoniously dropped Bakugou to the floor. The barrage of noise came immediately after.

 

“Aizawa-sensei! Shouldn’t you be resting?”

 

“Are you really able to continue teaching?”

 

“You shouldn’t force yourself like this, Aizawa-sensei!”

 

The mummified teacher raised his free, bandaged hand for silence.

 

“Just because I look like some dry, desiccated corpse, does not mean that I am going to shirk my duties as a teacher. If I am able to do so, I will continue.”

 

Akatani raised his hand.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Aizawa-sensei, can you actually see underneath all those bandages?”

 

 

 

 

“Not important, Akatani-kun,” Aizawa replied after a moment of silence, “As I was saying, and as part of my duties as a teacher, today I’m here to inform you that USJ is just the beginning.”

 

Everyone, including Akatani, tensed.

 

“Your journey to become full-fledged heroes will be filled with unexpected curveballs, vast unknowns and danger. What happened at USJ is a prime example of that. When things can go downhill quickly, and you don’t know what is going to happen next.”

 

Akatani wondered where Aizawa was going with this.

 

“Two weeks from now, you’ll be facing yet another challenge in your journey.”

 

The class held their breaths, the tension rising exponentially.

 

“Namely, the Sports Festival.”

 

Akatani immediately puts the pieces together. His eyes widened.

 

“The Sports Festival, kero?” Asui asked.

 

“It’s the greatest annual event organised by U.A., overshadowing the Olympics in terms of scale and spectacle,” Akatani explained, “Us students will be given the chance to show off our very best to the whole of Japan, if not the entire world.”

 

A wave of surprise and awe spread through the entire class.

 

“Furthermore,” Yaoyorozu added, “the pro-heroes will be watching. There’s a chance of getting scouted by them if we impress them with our performance!”

 

The level of excitement just went up by several notches.

 

“What both your class representatives said,” Aizawa affirmed, “This is your single greatest chance of scoring an important boost in recognition and acclaim that could jumpstart your career as a pro-hero. Take this chance seriously, for they don’t come often. Your very future could depend on this.”

 

Akatani could tell his classmates were planning to do just that.

 

“Right, for homeroom, you have fifteen minutes to do whatever the hell you want, just keep the noise down. Oh, Akatani-kun, I need to speak with you outside.”

 

Momentarily taken aback at being singled out, the vice-president of 1-A nodded. As his classmates turned to one another in conversation, he got up from his seat, and followed the mummified teacher out the door.

 

Closing it behind him, Akatani turned to Aizawa expectantly.

 

“Akatani-kun, I honestly don’t know whether to thank you or throttle you for what you did last Thursday.”

 

The student guessed where this was going, but played innocent anyway, “What do you mean, Aizawa-sensei?”

 

“You ignored my orders to escape by getting involved with the fight against the Noumu and Shigaraki. You could have died. Are you aware of the repercussions that will arise from such a scenario?”

 

Akatani stayed firm, “I am aware of what would have happened if I had died that day. But I don’t regret intervening in that fight.”

 

“That is the thing,” Aizawa retorted, “You shouldn’t have gotten involved. As your teacher, I am supposed to look out for your wellbeing and safety, even if I must put my life on the line.”

 

Said student crossed his arms over his chest, “Listen, Aizawa-sensei, I don’t doubt for a second your capabilities as a teacher and pro-hero. But with all due respect, you looked like you needed help then.”

 

Aizawa wanted to speak, but Akatani interrupted, “I can’t imagine how painful it was to have your elbow partially disintegrated and your bones nearly ground into powder. You were in no good condition to keep fighting in such a state. Let’s face it, if I hadn’t intervened, you would have died pretty soon after. And before you go about questioning my capabilities, let me reiterate what I told you during the quirk test on the first day of school. I am fully aware of my abilities and limitations, you on the other hand, are not. If I am unable to help, I would have escaped. But I could fight back, so I did. Furthermore, if I hadn’t intervened when I was able to, and you died as a result, I won’t be able to forgive myself or live with the guilt for the rest of my life.”

 

Beneath the bandages, Aizawa was stunned by his otherwise cold-hearted, deadpan student’s impassioned speech. Plus, Akatani’s argument was solid, nowhere could he refute what was said.

 

The mummified teacher sighed, knowing he won’t be getting anywhere with Akatani, “Just don’t do something as reckless as you did again.”

 

Said student replied, “I hear you loud and clear, Aizawa-sensei, but I can’t promise you that. Sometimes, being reckless means a life is saved. And that’s what true heroes do.”

 

With that, Akatani bowed. Turning on his heel, he slid the door open, and took a step back towards the room. Suddenly stopping, he turned back to Aizawa, "By the way, you might want to consider making some eye holes in your bandages so you can see."

 

The mummified teacher stayed still for a moment longer, as Akatani slipped back into class. Sighing loudly, he too re-entered the room, wondering how he was going to deal with two problem children in his class.

 


 

The general excitement simmered through the rest of homeroom and Cementoss’ class, but things really came to a head after the bell for lunch rang across the school.

 

“The Sports Festival!” Kirishima whooped, “I am so pumped for this!”

 

“This is gonna be so much fun!” Ashido cheers alongside the redhead, “I can’t wait!”

 

Meanwhile, Akatani was chatting with Kaminari on other matters that were of a more immediate need for addressing.

 

“What do you think’s on the menu today?” asked the blonde.

 

“I’m not too sure,” Akatani got up from his seat, “Hopefully katsudon, it’s been a while since I had one.”

 

At the other side of the room, Uraraka and Iida were just about to depart from the classroom for the cafeteria. The brunette pulled the door open, only to be startled by what was waiting for them outside.

 

“W-What is this?!”

 

Eyes were turned towards the scene. A crowd of students blocked the doorway, spilling into the corridor outside.

 

“Excuse me!” Iida piped up, chopping a hand in the air, “What is the purpose of you lot blocking our way to lunch?”

 

“Obviously to scout out the competition, fucking four-eyes,” Bakugou drawled, pushing his way past an indignant Iida.

 

The explosive blonde stomped up to the gawking students, staring them down with a look of pure condescension.

 

“Move it, fucking bugs!”

 

A wave of disbelief swept the students crowding outside the door. Iida went completely ballistic, berating Bakugou for demeaning their fellow schoolmates whilst chopping the air furiously with his hands.

 

Akatani sighed, moving away from his desk to begin the process of damage-control. At the same time, there was a disturbance in the crowd.

 

“Ara…so this is what we’re greeted with when scoping out the students of 1-A…”

 

Akatani, who had come up silently behind Bakugou, peeked around the blonde’s shoulder. Another male student, whose lighter-shade-of-purple hair seemed to be defying gravity and had eye bags which signified a prolonged period without sleep, nudged his way to the front of the crowd.

 

“You’re really cocky and arrogant, aren’t you?” the presumably-insomniac student clicked his tongue, “Are all the students in 1-A as despicable as you are?”

 

Bakugou glared at the insult, while Iida and Uraraka shook their heads and hands rapidly in response to the question.

 

“You wanna fucking die you-”

 

Whatever the explosive blonde tried to say ended abruptly as his body seized up rather comically. The insomniac student and others like him watched with raised eyebrows as green electric bolts crackled all over Bakugou’s body, before disappearing as fast as they came. Bakugou crumpled to the floor, lifeless, hair smouldering.

 

“You have to excuse Bakahoe, his brain cells are dedicated to explosions and being a right douchebag, not towards being a decent human being.”

 

All eyes turn from the unconscious blonde to the deadpan Akatani, fingers crackling with electricity.

 

“Who are you?” someone from the crowd asked.

 

“I am Akatani Mikumo, vice-class president of 1-A,” Akatani replied, lowering his hand, “I’d apologise for Bakahoe’s abhorrent behaviour, but honestly, he ain’t worth it.”

 

The insomniac scrutinised him amidst the amazed whispers, “You appear to be a capable person, so I’ll get straight to the point on this.”

 

“I am here with a declaration of war.”

 

Akatani remained unfazed, even as the rest of his classmates stiffened behind him, “What brought this up?”

 

“The Sports Festival is the ticket,” the insomniac explained, “Students from the other courses are granted a place in the heroics course when they do well in the festival. Furthermore…”

 

Tired, yet fierce eyes connected with deadpan ones.

 

“…I intend to be one of those students who will get into the heroics course.”

 

Akatani nodded, “A truly admirable goal, one I can respect you for. And you’re more than welcome, you’re way more desirable as a student of 1-A than some I had the unfortunate luck to meet. Namely Bakahoe,” he pointed at the still-smouldering blonde, “and Mineta,” then at the grape-headed pervert, who was in the midst of getting smacked by Asui’s tongue.

 

He continued, “But that’s not to say that we’re just going to be mere pushovers. We are 1-A for a reason. We will fight our hardest to come out the very best. So on behalf of my class, I will accept your declaration of war, and return that declaration with full force.”

 

Silence followed Akatani’s speech. The insomniac smirked.

 

“I think I’m going to enjoy this,” he said, “I expect a good fight on the battlefield, to prove you lot aren’t just a bunch of arrogant brats. Until then.”

 

With a wave, the purple-haired insomniac turned around, nudging his way into the crowd. Akatani released a breath, turning back into the room.

 

“Let’s go, Kaminari. All this oratory is making me hungry.”

 

“Ah, coming!”

 

As his friend caught up, Akatani turned to the crowd, “Please excuse us, we need to cut through. Lunch takes priority over fame and glory.”

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

For the subsequent two weeks, all of U.A. was hyped up for the upcoming Sports Festival. Lessons were relaxed somewhat to allow the participating students to use the training grounds and facilities to hone their skills in preparation.

 

Akatani made full use of these two weeks to get Kaminari and himself ready for what awaits them when the whole world turns their eyes on them. Sure, two weeks was not nearly enough for a beginner like Kaminari, but that was what they were given, and Akatani was going to make use of what they had.

 

Their meetings at Dagobah beach became almost daily. Akatani furthered his teachings from just the basics of offense and defence, to include stealth and surprise attacks. While he didn’t know the quirks of everyone outside of 1-A, Akatani was certain that there would be at least one student who had resistance to or immune against electrical attacks. If Kaminari were to go up against someone like that, he needed all the advantage he could use to level the battlefield.

 

Training aside, there was also something else Akatani had to do in preparation for the Sports Festival.

 

One week to the date, Aizawa pulled him aside during homeroom with some unexpected news.

 

“Akatani-kun, as you came in first place during the entrance exam, you are expected to open the Sports Festival with a speech.”

 

The student’s eyebrows raised minutely.

 

“I suggest you choose your words carefully. Everyone will be listening to what you say, and as the saying goes, ‘first impressions matter’. You could make or break your chances of getting scouted even before the events begin. That’s all I need to say, you can go back to class.”

 

Akatani schooled his expression into a neutral one, “I understand. Thank you, Aizawa-sensei.”

 

Inside, he was tad nervous.

 

With an extra duty thrown into the mix, Akatani tried his best to adapt. Any spare time between training Kaminari and the necessary continuation of school was spent planning out his opening speech.

 

He quickly found out that writing a speech was, as many would say, frustrating.

 

It had the whole shebang. Awkward phrasing, pointless segways, inappropriate choice of words, confusing turnarounds, etc. Akatani spent the next six days and nights going through at least fifty drafts, before giving up and deciding he needed his sleep to be ready for the big event the following day.

 

Several minutes passed as the teen lay completely still in his bed, eyes closed. Then, out of nowhere, Akatani rose up off the mattress, bending at the waist, like a vampire. His eyes fluttered open, glowing irises staring into the darkness.

 

“You know what, fuck it. I’m totally winging my speech tomorrow.”

 

Akatani flopped back down onto his bed, eyes closing, and went back to sleep.

 


 

The morning of the Sports Festival dawned upon the world. Akatani prepared to face his next destiny, Inko by his side.

 

“You’ve got this, Mikumo,” the older woman said determinedly, “Show them what you’re made of.”

 

“Thanks, mom,” Akatani grinned, “Be sure to catch it on TV.”

 

“I will, you do your best!”

 

Mother and son shared a hug. Pulling away, Akatani nodded, before bidding her farewell, and stepping out through the door.

 

Already, as Akatani made the journey to school, the excitement for the day’s events was evident wherever he looked. The Sports Festival was the single most heard topic of conversation on the street, the station, and on the train. Some attention was drawn to him, naturally, but he simply ignored the whispers.

 

As per usual, he met up with Kaminari at U.A. station, and the two friends headed off together towards campus.

 

This time, a right hubbub of activity was taking place. The road running parallel to the gates were lined with trucks. People were unloading materials, signboards, boxes, crates, among other things. Others were at work unwrapping and setting up makeshift shops along the pathway towards the main doors.

 

“Man, there’s definitely going to be crowd later!” Kaminari remarked.

 

“Mm,” Akatani grunted, “Are your family coming down to support you?”

 

“Nah,” the blonde shook his head, “They did try though, but seating tickets for the Sports Festival snap up real fast, you know? What about you?”

 

“My mom’s watching from home.”

 

“I see!”

 

The conversation moved on to other topics, as they made their way towards the locker room to get changed. The Sports Festival only permitted the students to wear the school’s gym uniform to ensure everyone was on equal standing with no advantages from their hero costumes. Once done, the two friends made their way towards the class’s allocated waiting room until it was time for them to appear in the stadium.

 

Entering the room, the heads of the classmates who had already gathered looked turned towards them. “Good mornings” were exchanged, before everyone returned to their business. Akatani and Kaminari grabbed seats at a table where Mina and Jirou were sitting and chatting.

 

Fifteen minutes passed. The door opened, and Yaoyorozu stepped in.

 

“Everyone! We’ll be heading out now, so get ready!”

 

On her call, everyone stood up. As a class, they trooped out of the waiting room into the hallway. A right turn here, and left turn there, and finally, straight towards the light and the growing sounds of the world outside.

 

Akatani and Yaoyorozu were the first to step out into the light, leading their class into the stadium. The cheers and shouts of the hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered across three levels was almost deafening, drummed up by the excited voice of Present Mic announcing their entry. To the side, Akatani noticed a small section where the press was allocated, cameras rolling and flashing.

 

Around the stadium, the students from the other classes trooped out of other entrances, and together, everyone gathered in the centre of the field in front of a raised platform with a single microphone on it. The R-rated heroine, Midnight, stepped up towards the microphone. She whipped what appeared to be a cat-o-nine-tails into the air.

 

“Now is the time for the opening speech!”

 

All across the stands, Akatani observed many of the male spectators unabashedly staring at Midnight’s curves and ample bosom. Goofy grins, drooling, dilated eyes, blushes, all signs of lechery was displayed for everyone to see. Akatani inwardly grimaced at such disgusting behaviour.

 

“I find it inappropriate for the R-rated heroine to be here amongst hormone-crazed high-schoolers and people who obviously can’t keep it in their pants,” Tokoyami remarked.

 

‘My thoughts exactly,’ Akatani agreed silently.

 

“Put yours hands together for the first-place holder of the U.A. entrance exam, from class 1-A, Akatani Mikumo!”

 

Cheers, applause and whoops filled the air. Kaminari squeezed his friend’s shoulder, whispering “You’ve got this”. Akatani nodded, moving away from his peers and joining Midnight up on the raised stage. Waiting for all the noise to cease, he stepped towards the microphone.

 

“A very good morning to everyone here today, family, friends, staff, strangers, all of you. It is an honour to be chosen to open this year’s Sports Festival for first-years.”

 

A round of applause. Akatani waited for it to stop.

 

“This year’s Sports Festival is just as much about showing off our very best, as is the message it was intended to show the world.”

 

He took a moment to pause.

 

“That U.A. will not be cowed by those who wish to do us harm.”

 

Immediately, the mood shifted from neutrally-formal to serious.

 

“Just two weeks ago, my classmates and I were attacked by the so-called League of Villains at the USJ facility. It was an invasion like never before, hundreds of villains – thugs, petty criminals – all led by this insane man-child. Our lives hung by the threads, not helped by a certain classmate of ours who till this day doesn’t understand the concept of restraint.”

 

Akatani ignored Bakugou angrily struggling in Kirishima’s grip.

 

“Two of our teachers were seriously injured. And not to be cocky or anything, but had I not intervened, one of them would have died that day. But most thankfully, they have made a full recovery, and the one I saved is sitting in the commentator’s box, wrapped in bandages like an ancient Egyptian mummy.”

 

A smattering of chuckles and claps.

 

“Though to be honest, even without the bandages, he still looks like a corpse that had just given up on the unbearable load that is life.”

 

Much-louder laughter reverberated throughout the stadium. The students on the field were either staring at Akatani in disbelief or trying desperately to hold in their laughs. Midnight too was struggling to keep herself from losing it, though Present Mic had no such qualms, his amplified guffaws joining in at the expense of class 1-A’s homeroom teacher.

 

Said teacher’s voice echoed down, “Get on with it, Akatani, before I assign you detention, or so help me, expel you.”

 

“Duly noted, Aizawa-sensei,” the teen replied, “Oh by the way, did you make the eye holes in your bandages as I advised?”

 

“Will you continue if I said yes?”

 

“I have every intention of doing so.”

 

“Then yes, I have.”

 

“I can confirm that, little listener!” Present Mic added.

 

“Great, thanks, Aizawa-sensei, Yamada-sensei,” Akatani gave a thumbs-up, “Now where was I? Oh yeah, the serious stuff.”

 

Another round of chuckles.

 

“By the grace of all that was holy, we emerged from the debacle relatively unscathed, but the damage had already been done beyond the physical destruction.”

 

The mood shifted again back to solemn.

 

“If the League was able to infiltrate into one of Japan’s most secure locations, it can only be said about their capabilities to do great harm to anywhere and anyone. It would have casted doubt on U.A.’s reputation as the safest hero school in the country.”

 

There was no need for words to echo the agreement to Akatani’s statement.

 

“This year’s Sports Festival is our counterstrike. To show our enemies that we will not be cowed. To show the world that we are still the number one school where the heroes of tomorrow are made.”

 

A string of applause and cheers sweep through the stadium.

 

“And that brings things to us, the students,” Akatani continued, gazing towards his peers.

 

“Our abilities have brought us into U.A., and it is our abilities which will allow us to become the heroes this society needs. However, we must not forget that we are extremely blessed to have been given the chance to do immense good for the people of this land, something I feel is easily taken for granted. It is the dream of many to enrol into U.A. to become heroes, but reality crushes that dream for the vast majority – those with weak quirks, “dangerous” or “villainous” quirks, “useless” quirks, or…”, Akatani’s breath hitched, “…those with no quirk.”

 

He took a moment to compose himself, “These people are beaten down by society, simply because of who they are. Very often, they have no choice but to turn to villainy or a life of crime just to get by everyday. Our responsibility as future heroes is to be there for these people, to give them one reason to smile through hardship, to live on to see the next day. That is what it means to be a true hero. Although…”

 

Here, Akatani pointedly looked towards Bakugou.

 

“…there are a few rotten shite-bags who have deprived someone who is more worthy to be in this institution, and I may or may not be referring to that classmate of mine who has no restraint from earlier and a pervert with grapes for hair.”

 

Akatani again ignored Bakugou struggling to get at him amidst more chuckles, “But for everyone else, today is our next step towards becoming full-fledged heroes. Just as we have proven that we are deserving of a place in U.A., today is the day we prove that we are deserving of becoming heroes. So, to open this year’s Sports Festival, I only have this to say.”

 

The teen shot a clenched fist into the air, “Go beyond your best, and PLUS ULTRA!”

 

A deafening roar of applause ricocheted from the stadium. The masses got to their feet, giving Akatani a standing ovation. His peers were punching their own fists into the air, pumped up by his rousing words, singing his praises.

 

“Hoo boy! What a speech, I’d say! We have a little orator here, just like All Might!” Present Mic gushed, “Give it up for Akatani Mikumo!”

 

‘Please don’t compare me to that son of a bitch,’ Akatani inwardly grimaced as he stepped down from the stage and returned to his original spot amongst his peers.

 

“That was awesome man,” Kaminari said, “Real cool you were up there.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Alrighty then!” Present Mic interjected over the din, “Now with that done, take it away, Midnight!”

 

“Indeed!” the R-rated heroine flashed a bright smile, “It is time for the first round!”

 

Behind her, a screen popped up from somewhere. Every student’s eyes were on the spinning jackpot slot in anticipation.

 

A few tense seconds later, it stopped.

 

“Which is, Obstacle Race!”

 

The screen shifted.

 

“All eleven classes will be taking part in this round,” Midnight explained, “You will run a 4-kilometre course around the stadium. And! Since U.A. is all about freedom, as long as you stay on the course, you are free to do whatever it takes to reach the finish line. Quirks, no quirks, it doesn’t matter! Only the top 42 will advance to the next round though, so do whatever it takes to secure your place!”

 

Across from the students, a set of giant metallic doors parted with a rumble, opening up the way into the course. Akatani grabbed Kaminari’s hand.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

“Ah! Right!”

 

Following their lead, the students rushed towards the doors.

 

“Make sure you stay behind the line, children!” Midnight called out, “Otherwise, you’ll be disqualified!”

 

Akatani and Kaminari reached the line first, the rest of their peers crowding around them. There is some pushing and shoving, as many fought to reach the front. Akatani clicked his tongue disapprovingly as he felt someone push against him, almost sending him over.

 

“Gosh…I wonder what are the obstacles gonna be like?” Kaminari wondered.

 

Akatani looked around. The gateway was quite narrow, now that he looked closely, packing the students quite tightly together. Naturally, when the race begins, there would be a huge bottleneck when all the students get in each others’ way. And knowing a few of his classmates, they were going to use their quirks to halt everyone else in their tracks, giving them the advantage of a head-start.

 

“Thirty seconds to flag-off!” Midnight announced behind them.

 

“Kaminari.”

 

“Eh?”

 

Akatani snaked his arm across his friend, and in one fell swoop, Kaminari was lifted up in a bridal carry.

 

“A-Akatani?!” a blush flashed over the blonde’s face.

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you trust me?” Akatani repeated, staring dead ahead.

 

“Yes…but why?”

 

“Ten seconds to flag-off!”

 

“Just hold on tight.”

 

Kaminari, however unsatisfied and rather unsettled by the vague response from his friend, wrapped his arms around Akatani’s neck. If what he was thinking was about to happen, then he’d better hold on for dear life.

 

Above them, a series of lights turned off one by one, counting down the last seconds. The last light flickered off, and Midnight swung her cat-o-nine-tails down.

 

“Flag-off!”

 

To Kaminari, everything seemed to slow down. First, he registered the surge of bodies as everyone started at the same time. He then heard the first crackling of ice from Todoroki.

 

Finally, he heard Akatani’s electricity come to life.

 

A split-second later, there was a loud CRACK, the sound of others getting electrocuted, and everything sped up again.

 

Even in his friend’s arms, Kaminari felt the rush of the wind as the ground fell away beneath them. It didn’t take much for the blonde to realise that they were airborne.

 

He had only seen Akatani fly once, during the entrance exam. But never in his life has he experienced the flight first-hand.

 

So, he did the one thing anyone new to this would do in such a situation.

 

“KYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

“Kaminari, calm down.”

 

“HOW CAN I CALM DOWN?! OH GOD THIS IS SO COOL BUT SO SCARY! PLEASE DON’T DROP ME AAAAAAAHHHHHHH I’M GONNA WET MYSELF!”

 

“Kaminari…”

 


 

Meanwhile, Present Mic was having a field day back in the commentators’ box.

 

“Holy cow! Akatani-kun from 1-A is pulling off all the stops here, people! He’s flying!”

 

“You saw him fly during the entrance exam, Yamada,” Aizawa reminded tonelessly, “This is nothing new.”

 

“But it’s still exciting nonetheless!” Present Mic retorted.

 

“Everything to you is exciting,” Aizawa shot back.

 

The loud-voiced hero ignored his co-commentator, “And am I seeing this correctly? He’s actually carrying a student in his arms! Aizawa, is he one of yours?”

 

“Yes, it’s Kaminari.”

 

“Wasn’t he also the one Akatani saved during the entrance exam?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Gosh! I’d never expected them to become so close! And they seem to be conversing! Let’s listen in, everyone!”

 

The giant screens zeroed in on the two friends started producing audio, catching the moment when Akatani interrupted Kaminari’s screams.

 

“Kaminari, calm down.”

 

“HOW CAN I CALM DOWN?! OH GOD THIS IS SO COOL BUT SO SCARY! PLEASE DON’T DROP ME AAAAAAAHHHHHHH I’M GONNA WET MYSELF!”

 

A few chuckles from the audience.

 

“Kaminari…”

 

What happened next would silence everyone watching.

 


 

Back with the flying duo, Akatani decided it was now time for his friend to stop panicking.

 

He pulled Kaminari close, cutting off the frantic gibberish. Leaning down, he nuzzled his cheek against his friend’s cheek. As a blush raced across the blonde’s face, Akatani leaned towards his friend’s ear.

 

“I will never drop you. You mean so much to me. We’ll get through this together, okay?”

 

Speechless for a second, Kaminari mustered a quiet “okay”. Tightening his hold on his friend’s neck, he released a deep, shaky breath in an attempt to calm his nerves.

 


 

Back at the stadium, that little moment was broadcasted live for everyone to watch and hear. Even if Akatani had only intended to whisper his words, it was still loud enough to be caught in real-time.

 

Present Mic was speechless, echoing the state of the spectators.

 

“Well…that was something,” Aizawa remarked like it was nothing.

 

“Damn…I didn’t know they were that close!” Mic finally found his tongue.

 

“Don’t curse, there are children watching,” Aizawa snapped, “And frankly, I don’t give a shite about my students’ relationships.”

 

“Hypocrite!” Mic cried, “You just cursed yourself!”

 

The mummified teacher sighed, “The second obstacle should be coming up now.”

 

“Ah! That’s right! Get ready, listeners, for next challenge is up ahead!”

 


 

Kaminari looked straight ahead, and his face paled.

 

“Uh…Akatani?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“We’ve got company.”

 

The purple-haired teen followed his friend’s line of sight, and his eyebrows furrowed.

 

Looming ahead, were the fucking robots from the entrance exam. Only this time, there was more than one zero-pointer robot among the wall of these mechanical harbingers of death blocking their path.

 

“Hold on tight, Kaminari! This is going to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride!”

 

With his friend bracing himself, Akatani zoomed ahead straight into the first wave of robots.

 

The robotic onslaught began immediately. Several with propellers charged straight for the incoming duo. Akatani deftly dodged the flying machines, swooping up and down and swerving around them and occasionally kicking away the one that got too close to Kaminari, usually ending in the offending robot colliding with another robot and exploding into pieces.

 

“Akatani! Look out!”

 

A zero-pointer robot now took it’s turn, reaching out towards them in a manner that made Kaminari flash back to his near-death experience at the entrance exam.

 

Akatani removed his right hand from carrying his friend. Raising it, he willed his electricity to coalesce into blade with immense voltage. Waiting for the right moment, he threw it like a javelin straight towards the zero-pointer’s metallic hand. The crackling blade phased into the robot’s mechanical system, overriding all function with destructive results. The explosion started at the hand, travelling up the arm, before all in one go, the zero-pointer spontaneously combusted and exploded into flaming shrapnel. The pieces, some as being as houses, hurtled in all directions, hitting other robots, smashing into the ground below, and for the other students who managed to get around Todoroki’s ice-trap at the beginning of the race, becoming terrifying projectiles that they had to dodge or destroy to protect themselves.

 

The shockwave that followed the explosion threw Akatani off-kilter as he flew away from the scene. Kaminari yelped as they lost altitude momentarily.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

 

“That was too intense man! Let’s go before they come after us!”

 

“Absolutely.”

 


 

Back at the stadium, Present Mic’s excitement had gone up several notches.

 

“You’re not seeing things, dear listeners! That is the god-like power of Akatani Mikumo you’re currently witnessing! Believe it or not, that was how he came out first in the entrance exam, by blowing up that giant, hulking robot with nothing but electricity!”

 

“Yamada, don’t go spilling school secrets to the world,” Aizawa interrupted.

 

“Oh c’mon Shouta!” the loud-voiced hero whined, “It’s not really a secret when pretty much everyone describes the U.A. entrance exam as ‘fighting giant robots’!”

 

The forever-exhausted, mummified man sighed, “Well anyway, given what the next two obstacles are, I think this round’s winners are already clear-cut.”

 

“Absolutely!” Mic agreed, “In the meantime, let’s check in on how everyone else is doing!”

 


 

“Hey Akatani?”

 

“Mm?”

 

“I saw the robot explode. D-Do you think we’ve accidentally hurt the others back there?”

 

“I don’t think so. And besides, they are more than capable of protecting themselves.”

 

“That’s true.”

 

The pair flew in silence for a moment.

 

“How are you coping with this, Kaminari?”

 

“It’s still surreal, if you ask me…” the blonde remarked, carefully glancing down at the track about a hundred feet below them, “the height is still a bit dizzying, but I think I’ve gotten over the initial scariness.”

 

“That’s great to hear.”

 

They continued flying onwards.

 

“Ah, I think that’s the second obstacle up ahead.”

 

“What is it, though?”

 

They found out soon enough.

 

“Oh wow,” Kaminari breathed.

 

An immense canyon, with plateaus of varying heights separated by a sheer drop between them, all connected by rope, appeared before the pair. As they flew over it, Kaminari glanced down. He couldn’t even see the bottom of the chasm.

 

“I can’t imagine it’d be easy for those who are afraid of heights,” he remarked.

 

“Seconded,” Akatani agreed, “thank goodness for electric flight, eh?”

 

Ah yes, one of life’s many small mercies.

 

Crossing the canyon with ease, they carried down the track. A few moments later, the third obstacle came into sight.

 

Cutting through a section of trees, was a patch of barren earth about a football field in length.

 

“That’s it? Just dirt?” Kaminari asked disbelievingly.

 

They came to a stop over the field.

 

“I don’t think so,” Akatani refuted, “I think there’s something hidden out of sight here.”

 

Shifting one of his hands free, the purple-haired teen willed a sphere of electricity into his palm, releasing it down towards the field of earth.

 

The sphere hit the soil, then…

 

BOOM!

 

Kaminari shrieked, clutching his friend’s neck tighter at the unexpected blast. Akatani quickly pulled his hand back to keep the blonde securely in his grip.

 

A cloud of smoke and dust hovered under them, as the loud sound faded away.

 

“A minefield,” Akatani realised as the cloud slowly dissipated.

 

“And really well-camouflaged,” Kaminari added, taking deep breaths to counter the shock.

 

They took a moment to regain their composures.

 

“Let’s just go.”

 

“Agreed.”

 

Leaving the mines behind for their peers to worry, they flew through the last stretch of track, the stadium coming into view and growing larger as they approached. Akatani flew lower as the finishing gateway rapidly approached. The pair shot into dimness as they entered the corridor, the sounds of the crowd growing louder as they flew towards the light at the end.

 

“This is it, listeners! Our winners are coming through…!”

 

The flying pair burst into the light, and the uproarious cheers of the spectators.

 

“Akatani Mikumo and Kaminari Denki from Class 1-A!”

 

The roar almost blew the roof clean off. People were on their feet, cheering for the victors. Akatani decided to let loose a little and do a victory lap around the stadium. Kaminari waved to the masses liked an excited child.

 

Victory lap over, Akatani descended down to the field. Once on the ground, he slowly helped Kaminari to his feet.

 

“How was the flight?”

 

“Real crazy man!” Kaminari exclaimed, “But fun nonetheless! Maybe we can do it again?”

 

“Not right now, I need to rest,” Akatani replied, looking around, “So…what now?”

 

Kaminari looked up towards the screens broadcasting the progress of his peers, “The others are only just finishing the canyon. Todoroki’s first at the minefield.”

 

“That’ll take them a while,” Akatani remarked.

 

“Yeah,” Kaminari nodded, “so…”

 

Both friends turned to one another. The crowds, having come down from their cheering high, awaited their next decision.

 

“How about cloud-gazing?” the blonde suggested.

 

“Why not.”

 

Much to the bemusement of the spectators and watching staff, the two friends got down to the ground, and laid back. For several minutes, they were still, pointing up towards the sky and making up descriptions of clouds as they went.

 

“That one looks like Kirishima’s head.”

 

“No, no, I think it looks more like Bakahoe. The shape is more roundish, like a dandelion.”

 

No one quite knew how to react the pair just nonchalantly chilling on the field, while the rest of their peers picked their way through the minefield.

 

“Well…this is awkward,” Present Mic cut the silence.

 

Akatani glanced at the commentators’ box with a raised eyebrow, “Is there something you want us to do?”

 

“Um…”

 

“No? Then until the others arrive, enjoy the winners of the first round make fun of our classmates through cloud formations.”

 

On that note of finality, the two friends went back to cloud-gazing, ignoring the return of the awkward silence that befell the stadium. Several minutes passed, and finally, did some much-needed action take place.

 

“Oh! Get ready, listeners! The rest of the competitors are now entering the stadium!”

 

The audience clapped, but the noise seemed more stilted than when Akatani and Kaminari clinched the victory. Todoroki was the first to dash into the field, followed closely by Bakugou. The rest of the students came running in moments after.

 

Many were out of breath, some barely standing and others on their hands and knees, clutching their still-racing hearts. Todoroki was breathing hard, but didn’t look worse for the wear. Bakugou was stewing too much to feel tired, frustrated and angry at Akatani (and by extension, Kaminari) for stealing the victory by doing almost nothing.

 

Akatani (knowingly) made the situation worse by making eye-contact with the explosive blonde, and huffing condescendingly at him.

 

Bakugou growled, but by some miracle, held himself back from outright attacking Akatani. It wouldn’t do him any good to make a fool of himself in front of the entire country, after all.

 

“And that’s it, dear listeners!” Present Mic’s voice cut through the stadium, “The top 42 contenders have been listed! For those of you who didn’t make it, no worries! There’s always next time! Now then, take it away, Midnight!”

 

“Thanks, Mic!” the R-rated hero stepped up to the raised stage from earlier, “We’re far from done, children. The Obstacle Course is only just the beginning! Things are only just getting started!”

 

The same screen appeared behind her, another spinning slot coming into display, “And now, the second round is…!”

 

The slot stopped.

 

“…Cavalry Battle!”

 

All ears were on Midnight now.

 

“All of you remaining 42 will be given a headband with a corresponding number of points. The higher your placing, the more points you bear, starting from five at the bottom, and adding five points with each higher placing. You will form teams of four, in horse configuration. How this round works is that you must protect your own headbands, while trying to get more from other teams. Only the top four teams will make it to the final round. So be sure to grab as many headbands as you can!”

 

Akatani could feel the air of determination settle among his peers.

 

“Also! I should also point out the points value of the first-place contender. And since there are two, this just drives the stakes even higher, for the points value for Akatani and Kaminari are…”

 

Everyone held their breath.

 

“…ten million each!”

 

 

 

 

You could have heard a pin drop.

 

“That’s right!” Midnight continued, “That means if you manage to grab either one or both of their headbands, you are almost guaranteed the top spot!”

 

Kaminari broke into a panicked sweat, shivering under the hungry gazes of their peers. Akatani calmly released that breath he was holding, seemingly undeterred that he and his friend were now meat chops for starving lions.

 

But inwardly though…a single thought flashed through his mind.

 

Fuck my life, because this is going to be one hell of a shite-show.

  


To Be Continued.


 

 

Chapter Text

‘Fuck my life, because this is going to be one hell of a shite-show.’

 

Akatani, in his lament against his existence, almost didn’t hear Midnight’s next set of instructions.

 

“You have exactly five minutes to form your teams. Beginning...now!”

 

There was a surge of movement as the remaining students scoped out friends and acquaintances to form teams. All of them quite pointedly avoided Akatani and Kaminari, something the former did not fail to notice.

 

‘Of course, no one wants to team up with the condemned,’ he thought cynically.

 

“W-We’re sticking together, right?” Kaminari asked nervously.

 

The purple-haired teen grabbed his friend’s hand and gave it a squeeze, “Of fucking course we are.”

 

Kaminari may have been relieved for that short moment, but that didn’t solve the problem that they were still two persons short of a team.

 

“Yo! Twenty-million-points!”

 

Until someone came bouncing right up towards them.

 

“And you are?” asked Akatani with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Hatsume Mei, support class 1-H, at your service!” the girl, with pink shoulder-length hair and steampunk-like goggles bowed to the pair, “You two are the ticket to number one, so I’m gonna grab it by joining your team!”

 

Akatani remained unfazed, “And how are you going to help us?”

 

“With my babies, of course!” came the undeterred reply.

 

Kaminari started at this, “Your b-babies?!”

 

“Yep!” Hatsume nodded, oblivious to the blonde’s horrified face, “Like this one!”

 

The eccentric support student tapped her boot-clad foot on the ground.

 

“What does it do?” asked Akatani, ignoring Kaminari’s sigh of relief.

 

“These boots allow me to take great leaps into the air over a distance of ten metres at a height of about five metres! All designed by yours truly!”

 

Akatani rubbed his chin, thinking deeply. He glanced back at Hatsume.

 

“Alright, you’re with us.”

 

“Yosh! Thanks a lot, Mr. Ten-million points!”

 

“Um…don’t you want to know our names?” Kaminari quipped.

 

“Not important now! After we win this round, then we’ll take names!” Hatsume grinned.

 

Akatani just let that slide. They needed a fourth member now.

 

He glanced to his right. A certain bird-headed classmate of his was off to the side, being rejected by Shouji, who already had a full team of four.

 

Akatani waited for the right moment, and went in for the haul.

 

“Tokoyami.”

 

The bird-headed student turned to face him.

 

“What is it, Akatani?”

 

“We need one more member for our team. Will you join us?”

 

Tokoyami eyed Hatsume and Kaminari, both waving back.

 

He turned back to his class vice-president, “Your aura has a certain dark feel right now, like you have a plan for this incoming banquet of madness. It would be foolish of me not to join the safe side from the coming chaos.”

 

Akatani nodded, “Welcome aboard, Tokoyami.”

 

Midnight’s voice suddenly cut above everything, “Times up! Hopefully you lot should be in teams now. The headbands will now be distributed, and the next ten minutes will be dedicated to planning your moves. Get to it!”

 

On cue, a set of robots hovered into the field, each holding four sets of headbands. One robot came up to Akatani’s team with their headbands. As the four members tied their headbands on, Kaminari turned to his friend.

 

“What’s the plan?”

 

“First, formation,” Akatani replied softly, urging his team close, “Kaminari, you’ll be the rider. Tokoyami, you are the head of the ‘horse’. Hatsume and I will be the support, since she has her long-jump boots and I have my electric flight.”

 

“But Akatani, have you tried flying with three other people before?” asked Kaminari worriedly, “And you used up quite a bit of your electricity reserves during the obstacle race. You haven’t been able to replenish your supply yet.”

 

“I know, which cuts short a would-be advantage of just remaining airborne throughout the entire duration,” Akatani conceded, “That’s why I can only use it in short bursts like Hatsume’s boots.”

 

“Our strategy will depend on us having quick reflexes and using feint attacks, not just in avoiding the others, but in grabbing their headbands. We should also include long-range, sweeping attacks. Tokoyami, how well can Dark Shadow spread his range with the current light exposure?”

 

“Dark Shadow can probably cover a third of the field at the most with the current lighting,” the bird-headed student replied.

 

“Good enough,” Akatani nodded, “We will also need to take the others off-guard with distractions. Hatsume, anything to offer?”

“Sure do!” she replied excitedly, “When using my baby here, I’ll kick up a cloud of dust with each jump on this type of terrain. Also, the heels have little vents which release black smoke, since the propulsion requires a fuel source that is combustible.”

 

“Right, so to recap, listen to one another, use sweeping attacks and distractions, and always be vigilant. Everyone got that?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“Then let’s do this shite.”

 


 

Ten minutes passed by in a blink of an eye. The teams dotted themselves around the perimeter of the field, waiting for Midnight’s start-off, eyeing one another with a palpable determination to slaughter the competition and emerge victorious.

 

Akatani calmly analysed the other teams. He spotted Todoroki eyeing him with equally-little emotion. Some distance away, Bakugou was glaring at his team as if they had just insulted his mother (though to be fair, he did insult her on the first day of school).

 

The air was tense, from the field to the stands. Everyone was anxious for the moment that chaos would reign supreme.

 

Midnight, wholeheartedly revelling in the thick antsiness, raised her cat-o-nine-tails, “Every team for themselves! In three…two…”

 

Team Akatani readied themselves.

 

“…one…BEGIN!”

 

Like a great wave rushing inland, the teams broke into a sprint, all converging towards Akatani and his allies.

 

“They’re coming!” Kaminari cried.

 

“Get ready,” Akatani replied.

 

Electricity crackled down to his leg. Raising it, he slammed the appendage onto the field, dispelling the jade bolts in a shockwave that rippled outwards in all directions. Those rushing towards them were instantly electrocuted by the powerful voltage. Only those teams who hadn’t joined in the mad rush for the twenty-million points were spared.

 

“Tokoyami, now.”

 

Dark Shadow was released. As teams struggled to maintain their formations or just fell apart completely, the shadowy quirk swooped through the convulsing students, plucking headbands one after another.

 

“Team Akatani is just picking off the competition without even moving a muscle!” Present Mic’s commentary came over the air, “Is victory in the bag for them so early on?”

 

Akatani grimaced, ‘Yamada-sensei, why do you have to go and jinx things for us?!’

 

Indeed, loud explosions rocked the field, signalling Team Bakugou was on the move, heading straight towards them.

 

“Everyone, brace yourselves. We’re going airborne,” Akatani instructed, “Hatsume, prepare the smoke.”

 

“Gotcha!”

 

Bakugou’s palms were exploding as his team rapidly approached.

 

“Fucking bastards! DIE!”

 

“Now.”

 

The quartet were enveloped in a shining light, crackling with electric bolts, with the sound of Hatsume’s boots whirring to life. One loud CRACK, and they were in the air, just as Kirishima got within an arm’s length from Tokoyami.

 

“Say hello to my baby!”

 

Hatsume pressed a button on her boots, releasing clouds of black smoke that swarmed over Team Bakugou like a dense fog. Coughing, spluttering, and swearing courtesy of the explosive Pomeranian immediately followed. Hatsume took advantage of the distraction to nab Sero’s headband just as they flew past them.

 

“Shit! My *cough* headband!”

 

“You *cough* fucking *cough* idiots! Get them!”

 

That plan was derailed quite quickly when another team accosted them from the smoke. Bakugou’s headband was torn off his head, followed by a condescending laugh.

 

“You know, I’ve always thought that Class 1-A are just a bunch of entitled brats,” the rider, a boy with slick blonde hair and bluish-purple eyes sneered, “And getting attacked by villains? As if that means anything but fodder for your ego. Although, it must be disheartening to always be the victim, am I right?”

 

With a parting laugh, the blonde and his team dashed off. Bakugou literally exploded.

 

“Fucking hell! Shitty hair, forget the purple dumbfuck, we’re going to kill that motherfucker!”

 

“Right!”

 

Team Bakugou sped off. Some distance away, Team Akatani had just engaged Team Shouji. They managed to steal Mineta’s headband (Kaminari grimaced at having to touch the contaminated thing, quickly passing it to Dark Shadow and vowing to wash his hands thoroughly once this was over, and apply hand sanitizer on top of that), but unfortunately losing a low-point headband as they made their escape.

 

Eh, no big loss. They still had their twenty-million points.

 

“Akatani,” came an emotionless voice that was not from either one of them.

 

Right at that moment, Akatani and team cursed the author for jinxing them again.

 

Team Todoroki was rapidly gaining on them.

 

“You’ve held out so far, but I’m afraid I’m going to take the twenty-million points now.”

 

‘You shouldn’t have broadcasted that, you candy cane,’ Akatani sighed.

 

“Go on the defensive,” he ordered externally, “Dark Shadow, intercept them.”

 

Letting out a screech, the shadowy quirk blocked Team Todoroki in their advance. They retreated, dodging the quirk’s attempts to steal their headbands.

 

“Iida, do it now,” said Todoroki.

 

“Right!”

 

As Tokoyami pulled Dark Shadow back, Akatani noticed Team Todoroki’s latest move.

 

“Recipro Burst!”

 

Powered by Iida’s engine legs, the team was racing towards them at lightning speed.

 

There was no time to do a full retreat.

 

“Everyone, pull back!”

 

Everything seemed to suddenly slow down. Team Akatani pulled away, while Todoroki reached forward, trying to nab Kaminari’s headband. The electric blonde shrieked, instinctively pulling his electricity into his hand and throwing it like a ball at his dual-quirk classmate.

 

Todoroki was thrown backwards by the electric shock. He lost control of both his quirks, ice and fire erupting briefly. The inertia from the sudden movement disrupted the team’s formation. Iida, who was still in motion, lurched forward. Uraraka and Yaoyorozu, who had been the supports, stumbled backwards with Todoroki.

 

Everything fell apart in an instant.

 

Taking advantage of the quick distraction, Team Akatani skedaddled away as far as possible.

 

“That was too close!” Kaminari gripped his heart, “Too close, you hear me?!”

 

“What a rush…” Tokoyami remarked.

 

“But that was fun!” Hatsume piped in.

 

“We’re not done yet,” Akatani interrupted.

 

Team Bakugou was coming for them again. Team Todoroki, having managed to reform in record time, charged at them from the opposite direction.

 

“Let’s end this,” Akatani continued, “Everyone, hold on tight. Hatsume, get ready. We’re taking flight in three…”

 

Todoroki’s eyes narrowed in determination.

 

“…two…”

 

Bakugou screamed bloody murder, arms raised with explosions going off rapidly.

 

“…one…”

 

Both incoming teams came within an arm’s length of Team Akatani.

 

“…now!”

 

A flash of light and a whirr of boots. One second they were there, and the next, they were not. The realisation came far too late for Team Todoroki and Bakugou. There was no time to pull the brakes on the inevitable train wreck that was to follow.

 

Five metres away, Team Akatani touched down, just as the collision happened behind them, followed by shouts and screams of pain, explosions, and loud swearing.

 

“Is everyone okay?” asked Akatani.

 

As he received affirmative responses from his teammates, Midnight’s voice cut through the air.

 

“And time is up! Well done, everyone!”

 

Team Akatani sagged in relief, slowly breaking formation.

 

“Man, that was wild,” Kaminari remarked, idly checking his headband was still there. A quick look to Akatani showed his friend also still had his headband.

 

“Indeed, a battlefield consumed by darkness and chaos,” Tokoyami agreed, Dark Shadow nodding its head.

 

“Hope this gets the sponsors’ interest!” Hatsume chirped, as she took off one of the boots and began tinkering it with a screwdriver she pulled from somewhere.

 

“I’m sure they’ll notice,” Akatani replied offhandedly, ignoring the stares from both Todoroki and Bakugou.

 

Midnight interrupted the team’s chatter.

 

“And now for the standings!”

 

The screen from before popped up, letters and numbers appearing in random before becoming intelligible.

 

 

1st – Team Akatani

 

2nd – Team Todoroki

 

3rd – Team Bakugou

 

4th – Team Shinsou

 

“Congrats to those on getting into the top sixteen!” Midnight continued, “As for the rest of you, better luck next year, but no worries, there are plenty of other activities to keep you occupied for the rest of the day, am I right, Yamada?”

 

“Indeed you are, Kayama!” Present Mic came over the air, “Before we move on to the last round, we have a one-hour lunch break to let our top sixteen competitors to recharge, and for everyone else to have fun and grab a bite to eat! Shouta, shall we grab lunch?”

 

“Sure,” came the tired reply.

 

Kaminari was making the same proposal to Akatani.

 

“Lunch?”

 

“Yeah-”

 

“Akatani.”

 

Both turned around. Todoroki had approached them out of nowhere.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Can I speak with you, privately?”

 

Akatani blinked at the unexpected question. Kaminari’s reaction was faster.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa whoa,” the electric blonde got between them, index finger raised and pushed into Todoroki’s face, “whoa. Just what are you planning to do with my boy?”

 

Todoroki batted the finger aside, irritated, “It’s none of your concern.”

 

“Oh it’s very much my concern, candy cane,” Kaminari pushed the finger back into Todoroki’s face, “You’d think I’m just gonna let you take my boy someplace quiet where no one can see what you’re planning to do to him?”

 

The dual-quirk student looked ready to lose his cool, “I. Just. Want. To-”

 

“Alright, alright, enough.”

 

Akatani intervened just before the situation got out of hand.

 

“Kaminari, it’s fine. I am more than capable of defending myself if Todoroki’s intentions are less than noble. Why don’t you go ahead first and grab something for the both of us? And the power banks from my locker. You know the combination.”

 

Under his firm gaze, the blonde relented. But he didn’t part without a final warning to Todoroki, giving him a “I’m watching you” gesture as he left.

 

Akatani sighed, “Sorry about that, lead the way, Todoroki.”

 


 

A short while later, Akatani found himself in some quiet corridor next to an obscure exit somewhere far away from the main hub of activity.

 

“What is it you wanted to talk about?”

 

They leaned against the opposite walls, facing one another. Akatani had his hands in his pockets, waiting for an answer. Todoroki continued to glare at Akatani as if he had just insulted his mother (which he hasn’t.)

 

“I’ve been observing you and Kaminari for a while now.”

 

Akatani would be lying if he wasn’t a little unnerved by that.

 

“You both have similar quirks, and despite such differing personalities, you two get along really well, while you have been relatively distant to everyone else.”

 

‘And you aren’t?’ Akatani raised an eyebrow.

 

“With what I observed, I need you to clarify something for me,” Todoroki continued.

 

 

 

 

“Are you and Kaminari brothers separated at birth?”

 

 

 

 

Honestly, that was unexpected.

 

Akatani had no idea where Todoroki had come up with that conclusion. But he didn’t let his confusion show.

 

“No, we aren’t,” he replied simply.

 

“Well,” Todoroki pushed ahead, “Are you two dating then?”

 

That got a bit more of a reaction out of Akatani, albeit still inwardly.

 

Dating Kaminari? …He would like that, to be honest.

 

It wasn’t his obligation to tell that to Todoroki though.

 

“No, we aren’t dating either.”

 

‘Though I very much wish we were,’ he inwardly added as an afterthought.

 

Todoroki continued unfazed, “Either way, you two share a very deep connection.”

 

“And is this what you wanted to speak to me privately about?” Akatani narrowed his eyes, “Because I am getting hungry, and I need to recharge before the last round. You’re eating into the lunch break.”

 

Todoroki frowned even further than he already was, “I don’t know if you made Kaminari do it during the cavalry battle, but he made me almost break my pledge.”

 

“What pledge?”

 

Todoroki stared down at his left hand, “To never use his fire.”

 

Akatani’s eyebrow was again raised, “I’m going to need some context here, Todoroki.”

 

“Do you know Endeavour, the Flame Hero? Number two in the rankings?”

 

“He’s your father, isn’t it?”

 

The purple-haired teen knew who Endeavour was. He was no doubt a pro hero, but his overall image as a person was something to be extremely desired.

 

“Father is putting things generously,” Todoroki scowled, “He is ambitious, arrogant, and he strives for the top spot.”

 

“Reminds me of a certain someone,” Akatani muttered to himself.

 

“He was never able to clinch the title of Number One, because of All Might. The Symbol of Peace, to this day, is a blow to that bastard’s ego and pride. He will stop at nothing to overthrow All Might, any way possible.”

 

“I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this, Todoroki.”

 

The dual-quirk student stared dead straight at him, “Have you heard of Quirk Marriages?”

 

Akatani’s stomach dropped. If what Todoroki was implying with that taboo subject with his father…

 

No…he couldn’t. He’s the number two hero. Surely he wouldn’t break the law that has been in place for over five decades meant to protect the vulnerable from being forced into marriages against their will…right?

 

“In his goal to surpass All Might, Endeavour desired the perfect heir. A quirk that would complement his fire,” Todoroki continued, clenching his left fist, “When he heard about my mother’s ice quirk, he paid her family for her hand in marriage. A large sum, so much so that her family was immediately sold on the proposal and pushed her into the bastard’s control.”

 

Akatani didn’t know who to direct his growing disgust at. Probably both would be the sensible choice.

 

“He sired four children with her, me being the latest. The first three did not have the balance he wanted, so he casted them aside, as rejects. Then I came along, and my quirk manifested.”

 

Todoroki closed his eyes, “Endeavour finally had his perfect heir, his masterpiece to overthrow All Might. From the moment my quirk came in, I was to be trained by him to surpass All Might, to become the perfect weapon.”

 

The dual-quirk student’s already-closed eyes tightened. Akatani swallowed, unnerved by what he heard so far.

 

“I don’t remember much from those “training” sessions, since that bastard beat me up black and blue until I was unconscious,” Todoroki admitted, much to Akatani’s inner horror, “My mother tried to intervene, but he always raised his hand on her. My memories of her, always show her screaming and crying, especially when that bastard used his quirk on her.”

 

Akatani felt he was going to be sick.

 

“She wasn’t the only one. My siblings tried to intervene at times, but they all earned his wrath too. Natsuo had enough and moved out when he started high school, Touya…he...”

 

Todoroki’s body shook momentarily.

 

“What happened?” asked Akatani lowly.

 

“He was the one who tried the most to intervene, after my mother. Endeavour’s wrath was arguably the worst towards him of all his children. The bastard burned him so badly, I don’t even have a clear picture of what he looks like in my memory anymore. One day, he just disappeared.”

 

“Ran away?”

 

“I don’t know. Endeavour said that he died, to us and to the press whenever they got suspicious. For years I hoped that wasn’t true, that Touya was still alive, somewhere out there. I didn’t want to believe the bastard’s words.”

 

Akatani needed to confirm something, “This Touya…is he the eldest?”

 

Todoroki wordlessly nodded. Akatani filed the information into his mind. He had a strange feeling that Touya was going to pop up again sometime in the future.

 

But more pressing now was the current conversation he is currently having with the youngest Todoroki child, for he appeared to be far from done.

 

“There’s more to the story, isn’t there?”

 

Todoroki continued, “Touya and Natsuo were the first to break. My mother…she lost it not too long after.”

 

Akatani remained silent.

 

“Endeavour’s abuse shattered her. I remember that day, she was in the kitchen, huddled over the stove, muttering to herself. I came in, asking her what’s wrong. She turned to me…and I will never forget that look of absolute insanity in her eyes. She said, “I despise your left side, your father’s side”, right before she poured boiling water over my left eye.”

 

Akatani started at this. That explained the scar.

 

“She was institutionalised immediately after by that bastard, right up to this very day. I haven’t seen her since.”

 

“Todoroki…”

 

“From that very day, I made my pledge,” the dual-quirk student unfurled his clenched left fist, “to never use my left side, his quirk. Today, I will show that bastard I will win with just my ice. I’ll destroy his pride and ego further, I’ll drive my rejection of him home once and for all.”

 

Todoroki released a shaky breath. Akatani stayed silent.

 

“My apologies for eating into the break. But you need to know my intentions before I beat you on the field later on. You are strong, but I will prove to everyone that my ice will be enough to clinch the first place. That’s all I have to say.”

 

With that, Todoroki turned on his heel, and went back down the hallway where they had come from. Akatani was left alone, mind swimming in the aftermath of the literal bombshell that had just been dropped almost out of nowhere.

 

He honestly didn’t know what to think. So many chilling details all lumped together in one tragic and horrifying story. An entire cemetery’s worth of skeletons hidden in the Todoroki household unearthed in a matter of several minutes. This was not something that he expected to have dumped upon him.

 

He wasn’t a fucking psychologist, dammit!

 

Though what was expected, especially after what Todoroki said just before he left, was Akatani’s reaction to his so-called pledge.

 

‘Todoroki…you fucking…idiot.’

 


 

 

“Hey man, you’re back,” said Kaminari as Akatani approached the picnic bench he was sitting at, “So what did candy cane have to say?”

 

Akatani did a heavy sit, “It’s not my place to reveal, but I can tell you it’s some heavy shite you don’t wish to hear over dinner.”

 

“That bad, huh?” Kaminari remarked, pushing over a bento box and five power banks, “Here, you gotta eat and recharge.”

 

“Thanks Kaminari.”

 

Akatani demolished the bento in minutes, no thanks to his hunger. He was just beginning to drain his first power bank of its electric supply when the conversation picked up again.

 

“What do you think the final round’s gonna be?” asked Kaminari.

 

Akatani let go of the USB cable, “Not too sure, but it’s definitely something that is going to pit us against each other. It wouldn’t make sense for them to group us into teams when we already did that during the last round.”

 

“True that,” Kaminari agreed.

 

Akatani went back to his power bank, casually draining away the electric supply while ignoring the strange looks he was getting from other festival-goers.

 

“You know, I’ve never actually recharged with a power bank before,” Kaminari remarked seemingly from nowhere.

 

Akatani had just finished the first power bank, and was getting to the second, “Then where do you actually get your electricity from?”

 

“Oh, you know, the regular power sources, outlets and stuff like that,” the blonde replied flippantly.

 

“So what, you go about sticking metal forks into power outlets with the switch on and electrocuting yourself to recharge?”

 

 

 

 

“You have been doing it all this while, haven’t you?”

 

“Well…kind of…” Kaminari rubbed the back of his head.

 

“And let me guess, your quirk manifested from the first time you thought it would be a fun idea to stick a fork into a power outlet?”

 

 

 

 

“Y-Yes…?”

 

Akatani sighed, “You must have given your parents one hell of a heart attack when that happened.”

 

“Yeah, not my brightest moment then,” Kaminari conceded.

 

Companionable silence befell the two friends.

 

“Anyway, you want to try the power bank?” asked Akatani.

 

“Really? Thanks!”

 

The purple-haired teen passed the power bank over to his friend, then helping himself to the third bank in the stack. The two friends drained the power supplies in silence, enjoying each other’s company and watching the festival happen around them.

 

Fifteen minutes later, all five power banks were drained of their electrical supplies. Akatani certainly felt a lot more energised now with the power circulating through his blood vessels into his core.

  

“We should head back,” he said to Kaminari, “The last round’s gonna start in ten minutes.”

 

“Ah, okay.”

 

Gathering up the rubbish and drained power banks, the two friends headed back towards the stadium. As Akatani paused by a trashcan to throw away the empty bento boxes, Kaminari caught sight of a couple standing by a drinks stall.

 

They were laughing, chatting away like nobody’s business. The young man had a slushee in hand, taking a sip. Kaminari couldn’t hear what was being said, but he did manage to catch the man offer his girlfriend a sip from the slushee.

 

‘Aww…that’s so cute,’ he thought to himself, watching the couple share the drink.

 

Something clicked in his mind at that same moment.

 

Akatani passed him the power bank he had been “drinking” from. And he took it and drained it fully. The USB cable had been in his friend’s lips and mouth, and he went and put the same cable to his own lips.

 

 

 

 

Kaminari’s face exploded in red.

 

‘D-Did I just s-share an indirect kiss with Akatani?!’

 

Impervious to his skyrocketing emotions, the purple-haired teen called out to him, “Kaminari, hurry up! We have to go.”

 

“A-Ah, coming!”

 

The blonde quickly caught up with his friend. Cutting through the throngs of people, Kaminari continued to swim in his thoughts, trying to push the blush out of his face.

 

‘C-Calm down Denki, he didn’t actually kiss you, it was just a friendly gesture, your mind is just toying with you…’

 

He glanced at his friend. Akatani was still a little shorter than him. But he could imagine that within their second year, the purple-haired teen would have shot up past him in height. His muscles would also become bigger and stronger, making clothes fit tightly around him.

 

His mind did the rest.

 

 

He imagined behind pushed against a wall outside of the classroom. The hallway was devoid of people, just him, and the person who pushed him into the wall, hands gripping his wrists tightly.

 

“Denki…”

 

Yellow eyes met blazing jade ones.

 

Akatani towered over him, eyes boring into his very soul, royal-purple curls cut short into a neat undercut. Whatever baby fat he had in cheeks were gone, leaving behind a strong jawline as sharp as a knife. The Lichtenberg scars further accentuated the smouldering, electrifying aura the taller male released in waves.

 

Kaminari was intoxicated by the aura, head spinning, eyes dilated.

 

His breathing hitched when Akatani leaned closer, breath fanning over his skin.

 

“You’re mine…only mine.”

 

Akatani leaned in further, tongue poking out to lick Kaminari’s lips. Just as the blonde’s heart threatened to explode, Akatani closed the remaining distance, claiming his lips in a searing kiss.

 

A hurricane of emotion swirled wildly in Kaminari, as they shared the kiss with ferocity that almost snapped their rational thought for pure animalistic, primal desire. Akatani’s hands slowly released from the blonde’s wrists, shifting upwards to interlock tightly with his hands.

 

The kiss separated with a gasp of breath. Kaminari was almost gone, the sheer intensity clouding his mind. He was given no respite, however, as Akatani yanked his tie off and undid his shirt button in one fell swoop.

 

Distracted, Kaminari didn’t see Akatani dive down into his neck, biting hard.

 

A loud moan echoed through the empty hallway.

 

 

Walking ahead, Akatani hummed a tune, oblivious to his friend behind him. Around them, festival-goers watched them go, wondering why Kaminari had his arms wrapped around his head, red all over, body crackling with electricity, literal steam pouring out from his flushed ears, and muffling his own screams.

 


 

“Welcome back dear listeners! I hope everyone had a great lunch break!” Present Mic came over the air.

 

The crowd cheers the affirmative.

 

“So before we begin with the last round of the Sports Festival, there has been some unforeseen changes that must be addressed first,” Present Mic continued, “During the lunch break, we had a few withdrawals from two competitors who made it into the last round. Let’s hear what they had to say!”

 

The screens in the stadium flickered into a video feed recorded earlier. In it, was Ojiro and Midnight.

 

“Midnight-sensei, I would like to withdraw from the final round.”

 

“Oh? Why is that, Ojiro-kun? You do know this is an opportunity that doesn’t come often.”

 

“I know, but I cannot in good faith continue with the tournament,” Ojiro explained, “During the second round, I was under the influence of someone’s quirk. It isn’t fair that while everyone else worked hard, I didn’t give my all. So please, Midnight-sensei, let me withdraw so I can keep my conscience clear.”

 

“Hm, you make a compelling case, Ojiro-kun. Very well, I’ll let you withdraw from the tournament.”

 

“Thank you so much, Midnight-sensei.”

 

The video feed paused, and Present Mic came back over the air.

 

“Isn’t that chivalrous, listeners? And, our second competitor also had the same noble reason to withdraw!”

 

The feed switched to another video, this time featuring Midnight and a chubby student with ice-blue hair, Shoda Nirengeki from Class 1-B. His reason for pulling out mirrored that of Ojiro on the grounds of not doing his best and keeping a clear conscience.

 

The video then flickered off from the screens.

 

“So there you have it, dear listeners, two empty spots,” said Present Mic, “After deliberation between the teachers, we decided that Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki Ibara from Class 1-B will take the spots. And with that, for those of you who missed it earlier, here are the battle brackets!”

 

The screens flickered back to life again.

 

Group A: Akatani Mikumo vs. Shinsou Hitoshi

 

Group B: Todoroki Shouto vs. Sero Hanta

 

Group C: Shiozaki Ibara vs. Kaminari Denki

 

Group D: Iida Tenya vs. Hatsume Mei

 

Group E: Ashido Mina vs. Aoyama Yuuga

 

Group F: Yaoyorozu Momo vs. Tokoyami Fumikage

 

Group G: Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu vs. Kirishima Eijirou

 

Group H: Uraraka Ochako vs. Bakugou Katsuki

 

“Now without further ado, let’s move on to the first battle!”

 


 

Akatani stood quietly behind the closed gate in the dim light, waiting for the doors to open, signalling the beginning of his battle against Shinsou.

 

He had only just returned to the Class 1-A waiting room with Kaminari when the brackets for the final round were released. His battle was the first.

 

The rest of the class (save for Bakugou and Todoroki) came up to wish him luck. Protocol meant that those not participating in the battle were supposed to go up to their class’s designated seating areas to spectate the fight. Only the participant was allowed to wait in the waiting room until the time came to get ready.

 

The class filed out of the room. But before he left with the others, Ojiro stayed behind to give Akatani advice on dealing with Shinsou.

 

“His quirk is some kind of mind-control quirk,” the tailed student had said, “I think it is voice-activated. So whatever you do, do not respond to him.”

 

Akatani replayed his classmate’s advice while he waited. He could hear Present Mic’s voice and the noise of the crowd, albeit inaudibly, through the metal. He hoped the battle will go smoothly.

 

Then, the doors shuddered, and pulled apart, opening the world to Akatani.

 

“Coming out of east gate is the ace of the heroics course, and the God of Jade Lightning himself, Akatani Mikumo!”

 

‘I wish Yamada-sensei wouldn’t exaggerate things…’ Akatani thought to himself as he stepped onto the field towards the centre circle amidst roars of the spectators.

 

“And coming out of the west gate is the only General Education department student to make it this far, Shinsou Hitoshi!”

 

Oh, now he recognised the person whom the name belonged to.

 

That same guy with gravity-defying hair and really bad eye bags who came with a declaration of war to their class two weeks when the Sports Festival was just announced.

 

“It’s the battle of the purple hair, so let’s hope for an entertaining fight! Take it away, Midnight!”

 

“Thanks Mic!” the R-rated heroine replied, “Now, I want a fair, clean match. Begin!”

 

Akatani braced himself, as Shinsou began speaking.

 

“So I see we meet again, Mr. Vice-Class President. You seem pretty confident about winning this match.”

 

‘I never even thought of that, what is he suggesting?’

 

Shinsou continued, “Then again, I don’t blame you. You have a flashy quirk, a powerful one no less, one that can take on villains like their nothing. One perfect for a hero.”

 

‘I can sense the sarcasm; he’s trying to get a rise out of me.’

 

“Yet you and your class seem to easily forget those who have no such luck. Those with villainous quirks who are treated worse than garbage because of who they are. Who often want to do good like you lot, but are automatically assumed to be villains and cast aside!”

 

Akatani took a step forward, still remaining silent.

 

“Though, that’s not to say you lot don't have your fair share of bad apples, like that explosive, egotistic bastard, that grape-headed baby, or…”

 

Shinsou smirked.

 

“…that useless blithering idiot, Kaminari, I presume? The one who can only electrocute himself and turn into a mindless fool making weird noises?”

 

Akatani’s temper cracked, then exploded. He raised a fist.

 

“What did you call Kaminari, you motherfucking son of a bit-”

 

Akatani suddenly went rigid. His snarl melting off his face and his eyes losing their colour. His raised fist fell limply to his side.

 

Shinsou’s smirk became even more smug.

 

“You heroics students are so stupid, always jumping ahead without thinking. Now, turn around and walk yourself out-of-bounds.”

 

Right on cue, as if listening to Shinsou’s command, Akatani wordlessly turned on his heel, and began walking the opposite direction towards the boundary line.

 


To Be Continued.