When Izuku Midoriya was four years old he learned he could raise the dead.
Looking back on it now his quirk became apparent in an almost comically mundane way. With him being entirely oblivious to the ripples it would cause in the cosmos and the great beings in stirred, some in fear and others in hope. A merciful ignorance he would remain nearly drowning in for years, until the bars he had imposed on his own mind had shattered when he tried to wield the truths he had fruitlessly tried to protect himself against.
Marching along behind his childhood friend as they made their crusade through a forest of mortal trees in the height of summer. In this universe they never anything but equals, perhaps it is due to the following moments that the resentment and superiority never grew to be more than a quickly squashed ember. The things that can be changed by a rock rolling under a shoe and a trip onto hard dirt.
Izuku didn't cry or react other than placing a small hand on his skinned cheek. Even as a child he knew pain was only temporary and tears helped no one.
The childhood friend that would never cease being a loyal companion paused, hearing the boy he affectionately called 'Dekiru' gasp and the thud as he tumbled into the soil. He turned with an exasperated expression although his voice held no malice, “Oh come on Dekiru! You’re so clumsy!”
That expression of joking annoyance transitioned to one of frozen horror as it beheld the figure currently extending a rotting hand to help Izuku back onto his feet.
Izuku, still slightly stunned from the fall, was about to thank the kind stranger for their gesture. Then he saw her face he had to stifle a scream. Or rather its face. Do the dead reserve the right to be humanized with pronouns?
It was a mess of cold blue-grey skin with patches of tissue missing and rolling glazed over grey eyes. Lanky pale hair was barely holding onto a scalp of peeling and rotting flesh. The corpse gave a twisted imitation of a smile that more of a hate-filled baring of yellow teeth than any form of kind grin. She impatiently gestured for Izuku to take her hand in a robotic gesture like a marionette being pulled on invisible strings.
He was too afraid to do anything other than comply.
When he was back on his feet, his emerald eyes wide and with a slight tremor wracking his body, he stood firm. Some instinct telling him to not to show the corpse even the minutest sign it had any power over him. For a few tense milliseconds the corpse’s dead eyes bored into his, filled with a raging bloodlust and not an ounce of mercy. After finding nothing other than a slight hint of fear it realized nothing could be gained and sank into the ground in a puddle, leaving not a trace of its existence.
Five feet away Kacchan looked terrified for perhaps the first time in his life and Izuku was just as shaken, letting out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. Unaware the corpse would be the tamest and kindest thing in his life in future years.
Something horrible was slithering in his stomach and he did not want to try and understand. In that moment he placed those wretched mental lies that made the beasts of old cry in anguish. In that moment, he foolishly prayed to the chorus of gods he had just abandoned that he was wrong. In their bitterness they let his prayers go unanswered.
When Izuku Midoriya was nine he learned he could kill.
Five years ago he had received his quirk, much to his distress. They had dubbed it Necromance. Jesters in the court of mortal kings unable to realize it was so much more. They said he could only raise the dead and keep them in the mortal plane for as long as he wished. If he wanted he could never make them return to their graves. Something the fallen pleaded at every moment.
Their screams were eternal echoes in his head that only grew in viciousness and angry as he aged. They planted indescribable nightmares, the worst that mortals could create. Weak as those night-terrors were, to a child they felt life-threatening.
He had begun training restlessly along Kacchan, both trying to master their quirk. Kacchan’s grew to be an offensive power, unmatched by nearly everyone in the area. A power recognized by everyone from their classmates to their elderly neighbors with applause and open arms. Izuku’s, however, was only met with disdain, its lack of obvious useful abilities appalling.
After some time it soon became apparent that he could bring back people in two states. The first was in the ghosty rotting form that he had first conjured. They were significantly easier to resurrect and control due to their mere hints of personality and lack of a fully formed train of conscious thought. Husks if you would.
The second type was a form he had still had difficulty conjuring at that age and even a harder time returning to the claws of death. They could pass as living and had unique dispositions that mirrored who they had been when they had been alive. A select few even held onto memories of their past lives. As vengeful and barbaric as their weaker counterparts and harder to control. Dangerous as a viper and more bloodthirsty than a villain. Although everyone quietly omitted these facts from memory once word had gotten out that he could bring back the dead. The begging of loved ones soon joined the wails of the dammed, refusing to believe the fact that the people they had loved so dearly in life now wished the world to splinter and humanity to die.
At least that was until he was kidnapped.
Well, almost kidnapped.
He had been walking home from school when he was suddenly pulled into an alley with a cloth that made him dizzy with fumes over his mouth. It was one of the rare occasions when he wasn’t accompanied by Kacchan because he had been sent home early for fighting one of Izuku’s bullies. A useless endeavor but one he still valiantly kept.
Thrashing and kicked in a wild panic he called on the dead to assist him but for the first time, none had come to his aid. Instead, it was his kidnapper that melted into the pavement.
The noxious aura of death floated around where his kidnapper had just stood, leaving no room for him to imagine that he hadn’t just dammed another human’s immortal soul.
He had run crying home and into the arms of his mother. When he told her of what had just transpired she made him swear to never tell another soul of what he had done.
She didn’t want him to be isolated and cast out by his peers more than he already was.
It was too bad it wouldn’t matter.
Ever since that day death clung to Izuku like a gauzy shawl that made people cross the street when they saw him. The requests to bring back loved ones stopped.
To his benefit, Kacchan never abandoned him. They remained inseparable and defended each other from the sharp words of the world. They both wanted to become heroes and they swore to each other that they would become the very best.
So they practiced.
Izuku had kept Kacchan’s pride in check so he was not blinded by his arrogance and Kacchan had kept Izuku from believing the whispers of freak and villain that followed him like the screams of the dead.
By the time they were thirteen, they were the most powerful people in school. Not that it took much.
They had not only unlocked so much more potential for their quirks but they had also trained their bodies. While Kacchan had immediately been drawn to sports like boxing and Jujitsu, Izuku had opted for less shows of brute strength and more technical exercises such as gymnastics and Hapkido.
Izuku never stopped watching heroes and taking notes, filling notebook after notebook of information on even underground heroes. The dead could retell historic battles and certain villains were willing to speak of the ones that had brought them down.
He also learned many more uses for his quirk. As he aged he learned he could detect death, interfering when he could, and not have to fully summon a spirit to talk to them or ask them to do something.
However, he never told Kacchan of the private lessons he held for himself. He never broke his promise to his mother and never told anyone about what happened to his would-be kidnapper. But, he did resolve to learn how to control that part of his quirk.
It started with rats.
He tried to figure out how he had killed that man and after two years of failure, he finally got it. He had to reach into the silver strings of their life-force and pull.
A rat disappearing into the floor, leaving the sulfurous presence of death as the only reminder of its existence.
That, of course, prompted the question if he could bring back what he killed.
He couldn’t at first, but with a few tries, he could summon the rat back from beyond the veil. With some experimentation, he learned he couldn’t control it like he could the others. It remained impervious to his attempts and it was quickly established that it wasn’t living carrion. It was alive again in the fullest sense.
Each death was painless. He only tried to make it painful once, the screams of that rat still haunted his dreams and echoed in his mind.
It continued like this for months. Constantly putting down and putting back life forces of bigger and bigger animals. Only after he successfully brought back a horse did he even consider trying it on a human.
He hid out in an abandoned alleyway and waited for a criminal to pass; if this failed doing it on a low-life would keep him from the all-consuming guilt that would engulf him if he took another’s life.
Soon enough a man dragged an obviously drugged young woman into the alley and Izuku let his quirk search for the glistening strings of life that surrounded him and twisted.
Within moments the spot where the man had stood was empty and shadowed in the presence of death. That was, of course, the easy part. It was almost disturbing how simple it was to snuff out someone’s flame.
He reached down into the realm of death and began the search for the man. The screams here were ear-shattering and made him flinch, the wails and pleas of the dead so desperate that he pause and considered bring them all back.
But that was ridiculous, there was a limit. He was already messing with the forbidden topics and pulling at the fabric of natural order. He had long ago pledged to himself that he would bring back anything he killed and return what he brought back. Nothing more, nothing less.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity he located the criminal in the endless sea of corpses and through sheer will, brought him back to the land of the living.
While it seemed like it took hours, in reality, this all happened in a matter of seconds.
The criminal looked stunned and terrified; time in the realm of the dead did that to a person.
He never even saw Izuku, he just sprinted out of the alley without a second look.
Izuku called the police about the woman and stayed there until they arrived, trying to fight off the bitter triumph and melancholy panic.
Kacchan was Izuku’s first everything.
First friend, first crush, first kiss.
His original nickname had been ‘Deku’ but when they had found out it meant useless they had immediately changed it to ‘Dekiru’.
When he was eleven he realized he had started to fall in love with Kacchan.
When he was thirteen their lips had met under a marigold sky.
When they were fourteen they had decided that they had both fallen out of love. Better friends then boyfriends and they deserved to let a lying relationship go.
They were still the best of friends and those memories were always looked back on with teases and laughs.
Kacchan was probably more prideful than he should be and Izuku woke up much too often due to night terrors and had resolved to only sleep in short intervals.
One time he had made the mistake of sleeping over at Kacchan’s house only to wake up with a scream begging to escape his lips and nails digging into his skin but not really feeling the pain.
Kacchan had awoken to a frozen and traumatized Izuku and had to pry blood-stained nails out of his forearms and even years later there were tiny crescent-shaped scars decorating his arms.
They never discussed it.
Izuku was glad.
Because what he saw would remain burned into his retinas for years to come, as all of his nightmares did.
At school they called him psycho and demon, those jabs were always followed by explosions from Kacchan but Izuku never made any move to defend himself. His quirk was much too dangerous for that. For him, it was either all or nothing.
Years of hearing the scream of the dead and talking to corpses had the effects that one would assume.
By the time for high school arrived Izuku had become torturously apathetic to the world around him. Not flinching at the ghoulish forms his corpses took when summoned or the cruelty of the world. He somehow retained his empathy and kindness, not seeing that it was no longer deserved. He never hated anyone. Not the bullies or the woman who gave him his quirk. No. He never hated anyone other than himself.
His quirk had another drawback that he had grown immune to fairly quickly. When bringing back corporeal forms it always hurt. When he had first attempted he had doubled over in pain, fat tears running down his freckles.
But he had picked himself up and tried again.
Until it was hardly a dull ache.
Summoning a fully fledged human with intact mental processes and body also left some form of a scar on his body to accompany the pain and by the time he was to take the entrance exams for UA, he was a mess of scar tissue. Ranging from tiny nicks on his hands to large scratches on his back. He never wore short-sleeves or shorts but nothing could be done to hide the raised flesh on his face.
They weren’t particularly large but they were noticeable, a slit on his lip, a nick in his eyebrow, an angled scar narrowly missing his left eye, a short scratch by the edge of his hairline.
He had enough physical defects that he was nervous about the attention he would attract at the UA entrance exams.
Kacchan reassured him that he would punch anyone who commented to which Izuku replied to with a sarcastic smile that showed just the tiniest bit of gratitude.
His knight in shining armor.
So now they were here.
At the test that they had both been preparing for a majority of their lives.