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Mind(Reader)

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Izuku Midoriya’s discovery of his quirk, ironically, was brought about by its hiding.

Though the issue came to a headway around three weeks into spring, the problems really started after the first of the children in his class’s quirks had manifested while he himself had nothing. Most parents give three weeks after their child’s 4th birthday for their powers to show before taking them to their local quirk specialist to make sure nothing was wrong, but with their own son being a summer child, the Midoriyas allowed more leeway on their end. Izuku on the other hand, was eager to see what sort of powers he’d develop and spent every waking moment trying to see what would appear, from trying to move spoons from far away to blowing on his food in hopes of flames spurting forth.

“I’m sure you’ll get your quirk soon Izukkun.” his mother smiled encouragingly as she watched him make another failed attempt to move the couch (yet another test for potential object attraction), “Just give yourself some time. Now come on, it’s almost time for lunch”

Izuku pouted, upset that his attempts bore no success and that he was forced to stop, but obeyed his mother none the less.

The months passed, slowly but surely, as still no quirk appeared. But still, the Midoriya family all waited despite their thining patiences. Most of those in his age group were still waiting on their own quirks too, so they figured it to simply just being that their son needed more time is all.

“So kiddo,” His father grinned from the computer screen, “Who’s quirk do you want more – me or your mommy’s”

Izuku, sitting comfortable in his mother’s lap, scrunched up his face in concentration as he tried to think over his father’s question as best as his young mind could manage. On the one hand, Fire Breath was rather amazing and a very hero-like quirk – and what child wouldn’t love to have the ability to melt down things in a single breath (Though his father’s version was more akin to a small lighter). On the other hand, his mother’s Object attraction was great for helping people by grabbing things, and it’d make cleaning up his toys much easier.

“Hmm….” He frowned, squirming in his mother’s lap until he finally brightened up “All Might!”

Both parents blinked in surprise, staring at their smiling son, who looked as though he had given the most amazing answer ever. A few more quiet moments past before the two burst out into good-natured laughter. They knew their child had become obsessed with the number one hero as of late, but not to such an adorable extent.

“Well geez, can’t compete with that can I!” the man chuckled while his wife poorly suppressed her own giggles and his son stared at their mirth in confusion, “Well, I’m sure whatever quirk it is, it’ll be amazing!”

The waiting nearly rounded to a year before they finally allowed their anxieties to be acknowledged; The excuse of “He’s just a few months late on his quirk” can only go so far for so long before even you stop believing it yourself.

So they made arrangement for a trip to the free quirk clinic sometime later the week after with Dr.Arata Tsubasa of Mutsafa General. Hisashi had assured his nervous wife and child that Izuku’s quirk was just taking its time to appear and the good doctor would say the exact same thing.

Izuku was fine and having Dr.Tsubasa look him over would just end with him telling them exactly what they already knew.

 


 

It was in the middle of his quirk examination, that little Izuku’s eyes had begun to hurt. It had started out as just making them feel itchy and uncomfortable, and he hadn’t said much about it. When they were halfway near the end though, the pain had become excruciating enough to drive him to tears and forced Dr.Tsubasa to stop just to figure out what was wrong. Several nurses were even called in to help make the child settle down so he could examine his eyes and his mother came close to breaking down the room doors twice when his screaming reached the halls after being rushed out the room.

Izuku wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it was at some point that the itching had thankfully stopped. However, when the doctor pulled away and allowed him to sit up, he had seen something –

It was these tiny little lights, flickering over the man’s bald head. At first, he thought it was just left-over glare from the flashlight used on him, but a quick rub and a few blinks disproved that. They were difficult to see and trying too hard to focus on them made his eyes hurt even worse than before; But every time he looked away, they would twinkle in the corner of his eye and draw him back. It almost looked like something, but he couldn’t tell what exactly it was.

The man turned back towards him, “Are your eyes still hurting?”

Izuku, being caught staring, flushed “It’s…um, the lights.”

The doctor looked up at the lights illuminating the exam room, the lights over his head flickering even faster. “Oh, do you want me to dim them?”

“No, the other ones.” He tried to explain, pointing to the spot above his head.

Suddenly, the lights stopped flickering and had begun to throb and shift, as if someone was readjusting a TV set. They were turning in strange little shapes he could barely make out.

S---a-ge

E-es S-ill –a-at-d

Q---K?

“Wow…” he whispered, eyes twinkling with glee at the sight. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but it was stunning to look at it for the young boy. He wondered what the letters were supposed to mean...

Then he remembered where he was.

The doctor stared for a few moments, and Izuku covered his mouth, wondering if he said something wrong. His teacher had often scolded him for speaking aloud without permission, and he was expected the same to happen here.

Instead however, Dr.Tsubasa knelt down towards him, face passive yet radiating immense curiosity.

“I see.” He mused,“The lights – Can you describe them to me?”

So Izuku, as best his limited five year old vocabulary could, explained the little lights, what had happened, and what he could see now.

Dr.Tsubasa said nothing during this, only making a few no-comital noises here and there until he finished, then stood.

“Thank you Izuku.” He said, heading for the door “I’m going to send in a nurse to stay with you to make sure you’re okay before I prepare for your other tests, is that okay?”

Izuku nodded and watched him leave, staring as the lights stretched and twisted, forming what he could barely make out as very large words in neat, slim print –

Interesting

Tell Client-

But the door shut before he could read the rest.

 


 

The taxi ride back home had been hauntingly silent. Neither mother or child looking each other in the eye.

You should probably give up”

The both of them sat there in full shock, his All Might action figure falling to the hospital floor with a deafening clatter. His mother doubled over, silent tears dripping from her long lashes as Izuku stared out blankly at the man before him.

Quirkless. He was quirkless.

He couldn’t have a quirk, because he was quirkless.

He didn’t have an extra toe joint, because he was quirkless.

He wouldn’t be able to pull things off the shelf with the flick of his hand, or toast thing with just a single breath, because he was quirkless.

He was quirkless.

He was never going to be -

Izuku left out a whimper and rubbed his eyes. The cab driver says nothing as he turn back to the road, but the lights above him flicker into words of concern that he dares not bring up to either of them.

The lights he was seeing – the same ones blinking above the driver and his silent mother’s head, were something called “Synesthesia”. He didn’t fully understand what it was but from the bits and pieces he gleaned from Dr.Tsubasa’s talk with his mother, a wire in his head was crossed wrong, and now he was seeing words and lights he shouldn’t.

“It’s not a detrimental disorder nor will it affect his life much. I do ask that you call in if he starts saying anything worrisome or out the ordinary...

When they got home, the first thing out of his mouth was to ask his mother if she could set up the computer so he could watch All Might’s debut video – the one he watched so many times he could actually quote it word for word without help and caused his mother constant worry over him going half-blind sitting so close to the screen. Both parents often joked that he most likely made up a good 2/3rds of the view count.

No such jokes were made, as she solemnly led him to the small little room that acted as his father’s study when he was home to visit, set up the video, and let it play before leaving – most likely to call his father with the news of their son’s diagnosis. She had not even remembered to turn on the lights in her rush.

Though in fairness, Izuku never made a move to remind her either.

[“Can you see that,”] the recorder shouted, pointing at the flaming wreckage [“he’s already saved a hundred people! It hasn’t even been 10 minutes!”]

So there Izuku sat in the dark, watching the large blonde man in red, white, and blue spandex who would some day become the national symbol of Japan’s heroic’s system, emerge from the burning remains of a fallen plane with swathes of injured people draped over his form.

[“That’s crazy – He’s actually laughing!”] Another witness cried as laugher cut through the horror and smoke like a well-forged blade

[“It’s fine! Do you know why?”] He bellowed with a blazing smile as hot as the fire around him, causing the despair in the crowd’s eyes to wash away as the light of hope shined through [“BECAUSE I AM HERE!”]

You should probably give up”

Without a quirk, could he do something so amazing? Could he save people with only just a smile? Could a boy with only the shining words he saw above people really, truly become a hero?

The door to the room opened, and they both already knew what was to come next.

“…Mommy” Izuku shook as he turned away from the video, tears spilling from his eyes in wet globs, “Ca-can I be like that too… can I still be a hero?”

His mother responded with a sudden hug, the lights above her head bobbing and shifting like a dying candle as she sobbed a sorrowful apology to her son –

My fault

Hopeless

I’m sorry Izukkun

Neither understanding the what the other actually meant, they sat together in the dark, with nothing but their tears and their regrets.

 


 

When it came time to deliver the news, the teachers had promised that Izuku would be treated no different than the other children (Izuku didn’t believe them, not with the way their words of pity shimmered when they turned to look at him). They would do their best to teach him well and explain to the other students as best they could.

Unfortunately, children being who they are, acted accordingly when the announcement hit; avoiding him, or mocking him with insincere pity, or pretend not to hear when he asked if he could play. But the words above them were all the same when it came to it-

Quirkless

Worthless

Don’t want

Everyone seemed to turn on him – all except his friend Katsuki of course. “Kacchan” had taken the news of Izuku’s quirkless status as nothing really interesting in the sort. To him, it was just a confirmation of what he already knew – that Izuku was weak, useless “Deku”, only now with science to back up the claim.

So he let Izuku still follow him around, still let him to praise the living daylights out of him, still allowed him to play Hero and Villain, and ultimately acted like nothing had changed.

And Izuku, despite himself, could not see fit to leave Katsuki’s side. Because even if he saw him as a Deku, he at least saw him as something, and being looked down upon was a much easier bitter pill to swallow than not being looked upon at all...

Izuku wasn’t entirely fine with everyone else being so far ahead, but the last thing he wanted was to be left behind by the one person who noticed him long enough to let him catch up.

(And he was happy, for the small moment, that nothing had changed)

 


 

“What the heck’s wrong with you Deku!” Katsuki hissed, letting sparks dance threateningly around his open palm “I told ‘ya to get lost, so why don’t you! I don’t need a quirkless wimp like you around!”

But nothing ever stays the way it was, not even relationships.

Izuku had no clue what had occurred – they were fine a few weeks ago, running around the park playing “Follow the Leader” as they always did during the summer. Now suddenly Katsuki wanted nothing to do with him, shoving him away for his other friends, yelling at him for calling his name, just all around being angry at him for having dared even exist in his presence.

Katsuki had gone from tolerating to outright detesting him, and Izuku could not understand why. What had he done wrong? What could have happened to make Kacchan so utterly hateful towards him.

"Kacchan," he cried hopeless, tears stinging the burns littering his arms "Why are you being so mean!"

Blocks of lights flashed and shimmered above Katsuki’s head, and Izuku squinted to try and make them out –

Scary

Won’t leave

Don’t understand

Katsuki followed his gaze and sneered, “What the heck are you looking at nerd!”

And Izuku, being raised an honest forthright child, immediately told him what he saw.

And Katsuki, being a self-assured child constantly told how amazing he was, now being told he was apparently scared of his seemingly quirkless former-friend, immediately responded with an explosion to said former-friend’s face.

The latter years were met with more of the same – Izuku would see what sort of words the lights would make, people would ask what he saw, and when he told him, the results were anger and pain, usually in that order. Even with the excuse of his Synesthesia, a lot of children did not like being told about Izuku’s magical glowing words that only he could see; It made them upset, it made them uncomfortable, and a few even cried when he told them.

Eventually, he learned the best way to avoid this was to keep his mouth shut and his eyes down. Didn’t work all the time, but it made the beat downs unrelated to his quirkless status less frequent.

His mother would watch him come in day after day, rubbing at hurts that he’d claim came from rough-housing with Katsuki (who he hadn’t played or spoken with since a morrow ago) or tripping on a staircase coming home, unable to speak the words that buzzed around her head like mad fireflies -

Is hurt

I’m sorry

My poor baby

But the last thing either wanted was to address the quirkless elephant in the room, so they proceeded forward the only way the Midoriya family knew how – tenacity and denial.

So Inko pretended not to notice when he deflected the conversation away from his many bumps and bruises that (to her) seem to accumulate out of nowhere, and Izuku pretended not to notice her pretending not to notice, and both worked hard to try and get through the rest of the day with as little issue as possible.

A delicate yet flimsy system, but a working one none the less.

 


 

When he’s 8, his condition changes.

It’s during class, and his teacher introduces daily journals to everyone – Something to encourage expressing their feelings and helping with developing their writing skills. For three weeks the teacher would give them a subject and they would write whatever came to mind, before allowing them to continue filling in the notebooks on their own.

Izuku opens his own and looks at the teacher, waiting for instructions.

Then it happens

The words above her head glimmer and shoot towards him. He lets out an inaudible gasp as they lay themselves on the pages, forming longer and more elaborate sentences than they once were, line by line –

Ugh, this is so stupid! Who the heck came with this dumb assignment anyways – Not like any of these little brats have anything interesting to write about. Why couldn’t I have been assigned to the 6 th graders? At least I could have been spending more time with Junsuke! Ahh, damn he looked nice in those tight-

He shuts the notebook with a loud snap that has everyone in the room looking towards him, staring.

“...I thought I saw a bug.”

Izuku decides not to tell his mother about what happened when he comes home.

 


 

Izuku’s life falls into an easy rhythm – School, home, quirk studying, and the occasional visit to Dr.Tsubasa’s ward for yearly check ups(the doctors who worked under him were all very nice, even if they were a tad strange). Lunch and recess were filled with isolation and dinners as home were filled with silence, but all in all, nothing much changes.

But oh, how they both wish it did.

One day, Inko Midoriya dreams that her son will make kinder friends, and enter a world more accepting to him, so she could see that dazzling, hopeful smile of his once again.

One day, Izuku Midoriya dreams that he’ll have the chance to become a hero, so maybe he won’t have to see his mother’s sad, flickering words when he brings it up.

 


 

Those dreams came true around his 10th year.

It had been a small, silly thing – Izuku had gotten a flu shot and had a bad reaction to it, so around his annual checkup a few extra tests were added. Usually they went to Doctor Tsubasa’s ward for this, but the man had been called always last minute for something important and the other doctors schedules were too filled up, so his mother changed there destination to a small clinic closer to downtown. Blood was draw, lollipops were given, and then a trip home while they awaited the results. Simple.

Then a call from the clinic showed it was not.

{ “We were concerned, as one of the blood tests showed the presence of a quirk factor despite his file labeling him as “Quirkless”. We attempted to contact the doctor who made the original diagnosis, but…” }

So a trip to another hospital was made (“Just in case.” His mother says, as the words above her flicker in concern), for tests and exams interviews and whatever else the doctors could come up with to figure out how a they could have missed something so important.

“You Know, I have a daughter who’s just about your age.” One of the nurses said, tightening the cord around his arm, “We thought she was quirkless for a while too, until she used it on her babysitter by accident. Some quirks tend to be harder to see than others, so there’s nothing wrong finding out about yours a little late.”

For once, people wanted to know what the glowing words said and what they meant – he was told to speak them aloud, to write them down, to point them out when he could. Every day was a different question: “What number am I thinking?” “What letter is that?” “Can you understand this man’s words?” “What font does that woman have?” “How many words was that?” “What color do they come in?”

Days passed in slow, painful agony in wait of news as the tests, the words, and his own confused frustration melted together in an untamed haze. What did this mean? What was happening? What was it that everyone was avoiding explaining to him?

Finally, they were finally called in and sent to a small little office, not unlike the one Doctor Tsubasa had back at his hospital where he gave Izuku’s dream its death sentence.

“Your son has a quirk.”

The both of them sat there in full shock as Izuku’s notebook fluttered to the floor, barely making a sound.

He couldn’t remember which of them spoke first.

“How?”

“It looks like he has some form of mind reading.” The doctor answered, flipping through his charts. “Seems to manifest visually – the “glowing words” he said he’s been seeing, which is unusual for mental quirks. The standard tests for this type of quirk weren’t used either, which might be why his previous physician ended up misdiagnosing it as Synesthesia.”

The words above his head glinted impatiently in the bright office lights -

Embarrassing mistake

Avoidable

No one knew?

“Still, the way your son described his symptoms should have tipped someone off that that wasn’t the case, or at least gotten him another Quirk Exam. If that clinic hadn’t run that allergy test, we would have never caught the error.”

His mother sat hunched over, tears silently spilling forth. She could barely suppress the astonishment from her voice, “I can’t believe it…all these years and I…I-“

She turned to Izuku, who was still staring at the doctor, slack-jawed and still processing events. Mournful words of apology flickered above her head, but he barely even registered them.

“Well,” the doctor said, smiling at them both, “Now that we know it’s there, we can get started on helping him learn how to better control it and adjusting to having it.” His words shimmered with encouragement as he spoke. “Six years is a long time to lose out on practice, and it won’t be easy. But if we work hard and take it step by step, we can help get him up to speed to where he needs to be.”

After officially registering him in the national quirk registry, it was like a switch was flipped – Kids suddenly acted like they wanted to be around him again (except Katsuki – there was still that undercurrent of fear in his words, now layered in anger over the news), teachers payed more attention when he participated in class or came in with a bruise, the other adult’s looks of pity washed away into faces of joy and pride. Suddenly, the glowing words of disgust shifted into words of praise, of joy, of belief.

For the first time in years, people believed him when he said he wanted to be a hero.

It was everything he wanted and more.

 


 

“Mom,” Izuku asked, eyes glued to the space over his mother’s head “Can I become a hero now?”

It had been four weeks after that fateful visit, and Inko Midoriya had just finished cleaning out her husband’s study. He son seemed to have had appeared out of no where and startled her with that sudden question alongside that dreadful feeling of déjà vu.

It happened like this last time too, didn’t it?

Last time…the last time he asked that question, she –

I’m so sorry, Izuku.”

She shut her eyes furiously. No – this time she was going to handle it properly, this time she wasn’t going to pretend there was nothing she could do, this time she wasn’t giving into her despair.

This time….this time she was going to be on side for once.

So Inko, eyes glistening with pride and joy, smiled as she looked at her son and let the words she couldn’t bear to voice six years ago form in her mind.

Izuku stared, eyes hardened, as the words he dreamed of for so long shimmered into view.

 


 

And that was the last time Izuku Midoriya called Inko Midoriya “Mom”

Chapter Text

In the heavily trafficked intersection of downtown Musutafu, chaos had erupted. A man with a transformation quirk had robbed a nearby liquor store and was going on a rampage after getting cornered by the police and turning into a 10 foot creature. Several heroes had been called on scene to deal with the damage and evacuate civilians, but so far none of them could really handle the man's quirk.

Just when all seemed lost, a lone figure leapt over the watching crowd – dressed in a navy blue jumpsuit and wooded mask. He slowly made his way over, causing the crowd to relax in his presence. They all recognized him as Kamui Woods, a hero who had made his debut recently and had taken Musutafa’s hero scene by storm. At this point and with the way the crowd was cheering, you’d expect him to start bowing and blowing kisses out to the watchers.

However, his priority at the moment was dealing with the villain occupying the roads and blocking traffic.

Good, he hasn't caused too much damage yet. If I can distract him long enough and keep his attention from the crowd, I can just bind him with and let the police handle the rest.

“Assault, Robbery, and illegal quirk use during traffic hours–” He announced, causing the giant scoundrel to turn towards him as Kamui jabbed an accusatory finger in his direction. “You sir, are the incarnation of pure evil!”

He drew his arm back as his opponent turned to charge at him, small branches growing out of his arm. He needed to have a big enough wind up to be able to surround his target properly as well as avoid his branches getting caught in any loose spaces and aimed at his target only. Now if he could just remember the-oh right!

Preemptive Binding Lacquered Chain Pris-”

However, just as he was about to finish calling his attack, a large blonde woman in a purple and orange jumpsuit jumps out of nowhere and literally smashes her backside into the charging villain.

CANYON CANNON!!” She yelled, and the man went flying, crashing into the pavement bellow. The watching crowd and Kamui all stared slack-jawed at the unfolding scene as the woman stood to full height – towering over everyone present.

Alright Yu, you got the villain and their attention! Knew patrolling around this area was a good idea! My grand debut splash is all set to proceed. Now, like you practiced – hair flipped, ass out, aaaaaannnnnd-

“Howdy, the name’s Mt.Lady,” she winked, coyly brushing her hair away. “Nice to make your-” and stuck her rear-end out for all to see, “Ass-quaintence!”

The arriving paparazzi and lingering witnesses clamored around with cameras and phones out to get in their “money shot” of the new hero – all but forgetting that their recent rising star Kamui was still there, staring at the empty space where he was about to capture his target.

 


 

Deep in the crowd, a young boy with deep green hair was nose-deep in his notebook as the scene unfolded, scribbling in a light blue notebook with the words “Hero analysis for the future” written in neat, black ink. On the left page was standard analysis – thoughts on quirk capability, technique, assumed power-level, potential weakness, everything the boy could glean from watching their battles.

On the right page however…

“Kamui Woods was immediately focused on accessing the damage caused by the villain and assuring he didn’t accidentally cause any causalities through capture. Expected, considering he’s been official for a month or so, so he’s got plenty of experience.” the boy mumbled, green eyes twinkling in thought. “If he hadn’t gotten so caught up in memorizing his attack name, he would have likely captured him quicker. Meanwhile, Mt.Lady’s sole focus was stealing the spotlight and hadn’t put any thought into assisting Kamui, though made sure the villain was not only farther away from the crowd, but recalibrated her strike so he’d be both incapacitated and unable to move. She’ll probably grow out of the attention-seeking, seeing as it is her first day, but hopefully it’ll happen sooner rather than later...”

“You a hero fanboy son?”

The scritch-scratch of pencil on paper stopped as the boy turned to see a large bald man smiling down on him as the police shuffled away all the looky-loos from the scene to keep them out of the way of clean up.

He flushed, embarrassed to be caught redhanded, and pressed the notebook against his face. “W-was I that obvious?”

The older man’s grin widened and gave a hearty laugh. “Saw you eying that villain fight like it was free chicken dinner!” he teased, “Plus you were mumbling the entire time.”

This caused the freckled youth to blush even harder and mumbling out something about “being more aware of surrounding” as the man’s eyes fell onto the notebook’s name. “‘Hero Analysis for the Future’ eh? You looking to becoming a prohero, fanboy?”

The green haired boy’s eyes flickered upward, as glowing words unseen by all drifted into view above the smiling bald man’s head –

Bright kid

Bit of a nerd

Would be fine hero

Izuku Midoriya smiled back, and shut his notebook with a gentle clap.

“You could say it’s something like that.”

 


NAME: MIDORIYA, IZUKU

AGE: 15

ADDRESS: XXX-XXXX

QUIRK: MIND-READER

DESCRIPTION: The quirk give the holder the ability to view the thoughts of other people by manifesting them as visual script. They are only visible if the holder is looking at his target(s).


 

Inside a classroom at Orudera Middle school, a teacher attempted to get his excitable class settled so he could get on with his agenda.

“As you are well aware, we’re in the final semester – which means preparing for your high school exams.” a few groans escaped from the rows. “Now, now, no whining! This is an important next step in planing your careers after all. It’s getting time to start thinking seriously about your futures!”

Everyone in the class reluctantly nodded in agreement as their teacher continued, mouth pulling into a small smile. “Now, I was supposed to hand out these “Future Career” surveys to you all, but..”

With no other forewarning, the teacher threw the papers into the air as his smile bloomed into a full blown grin, laughter ringing through the room. “I already know what your plans are – you all want to be heroes!

The statement was met with cheering students proudly throwing around their quirks as confirmation. Fire, water, rocks, and extended limbs launched into the air along with the discarded forms.

The celebration was interrupted by a taunting snort, and a spiky blonde haired boy sitting in the forth row dragged his leg onto his desk as he lazily regarded his audience.

“Don’t lump me together with these extras, sensei.” he huffed, letting a few explosions light up the center of his palm. “Unlike these losers, I’m actually destined for greatness!”

The teacher ignores the protests of his annoyed classmates and hummed approvingly at Katsuki’s declaration, “Oh of course Bakugou-san, you’re planning on attending UA aren’t you? With your grades and quirk, you’re a guaranteed shoe-in! UA would be lucky to have someone of your talents in their student body.”

The blonde snorted at the hollow praise, but made no move to dispute it. No one could – He got excellent grades, his permanent record was squeaky clean, and he aced almost every quirk assessment the school threw at him along with the mock exam. Katsuki’s admittance into UA was practically written in stone as far as everyone was concerned, himself included.

“That’s right, I’m the only person here going to UA!” He announced boldly, “I’ll surpass All Might and become the number one hero – no, even higher than that! You extras couldn’t even dream of fucking touching me!”

In the midst of Katsuki’s bragging the teacher suddenly frowned, and looked down at his clipboard, flipping through a few pages.

“Hmm, actually...now that I think about it,” he squints at the form, then turn’s his gaze to the far back of the room. “Midoriya-san, you said you wanted to go to UA too, didn’t you?”

The classroom went silent, and all eyes turned to the boy in question, who flustered under the sudden attention and tried hiding behind his notebook.

“Th-that’s right.” he answered awkwardly, not even attempting to make eye contact with the class. “Umm, I’ve always wanted to be a hero, and UA’s been my dream since forever. I know it’ll be difficult, es-especially with my quirk, but I’m want-no, I’m absolutely determined to go.”

The teacher nods amicably at that. “Of course, Midoriya. You’re a hard-worker, and some of your other teachers have complimented you on the work you’ve done in their own classes. UA’s certainly not an impossibility if you plan on going.”

The boy beamed shyly at that, and few classmates nodded in enthusiasm at their teacher’s compliment of their classmate, and some even found their own goals of heroism bolstered by his claim alone. Aiming for UA was like aiming for the moon – not impossible, but you’d definitely die trying. Midoriya might get average grades and wasn’t the easiest guy to pick out of the room, but they couldn’t deny his intellect or his determination. If he wanted to go to UA of all places, he was going.

The rest, however, stared ahead in abject terror, because they all knew exactly what was to come right after that kind of declaration.

If there was a contest for fastest time to get out of a chair to threaten someone, Katsuki Bakugou would have been the contending world champ of three years running. One minute he was sitting, seething over hearing that dumb Deku was having fantasies of attending his first choice, the next he was in front of the green-haired boy, leaving scorch marks on the desktop as his quirk popped and blistered around his hands.

“NO FUCKING WAY!” He screeched, leaning in. “Forget dumb quirks, yours is the shittiest out of all these other bottomfeeders! Do you honestly think it’s even good enough that you can face off against me, let alone get into UA?”

Izuku’s shy smile didn’t fade, but the pleasant, determined gleam in his eye turned cold right quick as he met Bakugou’s burning glare. “‘Facing off’ requires an actual fight Bakugou.” he says, tone unamused. “I’m not trying to challenge you, I just plan on attending UA and trying for the heroics program, nothing more.”

“Bullshit!” Katsuki’s palms hissed loudly as he pressed harder onto the desk, “Like I said, I’m only person in this shitty school who’s going to UA! No way I’m letting a shitstain like you jeopardize my perfect debut!”

Izuku’s smile drops at that.

“Last I checked, I don’t remember any of the UA staff announcing they were making a ‘one person per school’ policy.” he replied blankly, further stoking the fire of the blonde’s rage “Me applying for UA isn’t going to hurt your chances that badly – You have nothing to be so scared about.

Katsuki actually took the moment to laugh, harsh and feral.

“You really think I’m scared of you, Deku?”

Izuku’s eyes move upward, and the words above Katsuki’s head whirl and glimmer in fearful, angry spurts –

Scary

Challenging me

Stop Mocking Me

Don’t Understand

“You’re not acting like you aren’t scared, Kacchan.” He smiled pleasantly, as the blonde’s upper lip curled at the sound of that over-familiar nickname, “A not-scared person wouldn’t think another person being interested in UA too was a problem for them-”

Izuku then stood, forced to look up as Katsuki still had a few feet on him. Not unless, of course, you think it might be?”

Katsuki’s snarled, and dug his fingers into the desk in response, explosions increasing in volume and brightness. No one could even breath as the scent of burnt wood filled the air and waited for...well, something to happen.

The teacher suddenly spoke up, “Now now, that’s enough of that.”

Both boys broke out of their staring contest long enough to give him their attention again.“We still have lessons to go through. Bakugou-san, Midoriya-san, if you could return to your seats please?”

The words above him stuttered in rage, and Katsuki leveled one last venomous look Izuku’s way before heading back to his seat, kicking the other boy’s desk leg in spiteful retaliation. Izuku remained standing for only a moment more before sitting back down as well, eyes returning to his notebook.

 


 

As expected, once the bell rang, Katsuki was ready to make a straight line for Izuku’s face with his fist for his backtalk this morning. Was bad enough for the nerd to mouth off to him, but to do so in front of witnesses, and even going as far as accusing him of feeling scared! That was beyond the pale and would not go unanswered.

However, even in his anger, he was smart enough to know he had a better chance at giving Izuku a more thorough “punishment” with less witnesses about –So instead he stayed cloistered near the door, flanked by two of his followers (remnants of the Katsuki hype train in their class – While the rest of the school still suffered under Bakugou fever and thought rather highly of him, being forced to spend an entire year with the explosively vulgar blonde was enough to wear out his welcome for the rest of his classmates real quick, even if they were too scared of retaliation to say so out loud) as the rest of the students all scrambled out of the way and out the door to avoid being the radius of Hurricane Bakugou’s nuclear blast-zone. Though a few might have a soft spot for the green haired boy, none of them weren’t crazy enough to put themselves in the way of Katsuki’s wrath for their own grandmothers, let alone their sort-of-friend/aquainted-classmate

Izuku had put away the last of his things before taking out a worn green notebook, edges curled and torn at by constant use over the years. He opened it up to scrolled though the pages and then turned his eyes towards Katsuki, allowing Mind Reader to make his thoughts envelope the empty pages he stopped on -

Damn fucking Deku thinking he can go around challenging me. Where where fuck does he get off thinking he has the fucking right to intervene with my plans on becoming number one ? What if he...No, don’t be ridiculous. The fucker nothing, a useless pebble in my path and nothing more! Dumbass shitty nerd’s just forgotten what his goddamn place is, and looks like I’m gonna have to remind him where the fuck he actually stands!

He sighed, and closed the book, watching the words shatter into golden bits of light.

“Should’ve know...”

Despite himself, Izuku had suspected this was how things were going to go down even before the teacher purposely announced his plans for UA to his classmates (And he had done it on purpose – thinking of it as “encouraging healthy competition” between students when he knew exactly how Katsuki would take the news). Everyone knew how important being “the one and only UA hopeful” was for Katsuki, and that anything threatening that position was anathema in his eyes and would be immediately marked for death without hesitation.

After all – Katsuki was the best of the best, the king of the mountain, absolutely ruler and unopposed ruler. And because he was best, that made Izuku the worst of all the worsts, a pauper, a piece of trash that belonged on the way, way bottom of the ladder below everyone else, specifically Katsuki.

And the last thing trash should be doing is announcing that he had plans for UA as far as he was concerned. He could have his one chance at success be “threatened” by the likes of Izuku after all.

(Not that he’d even admit it, mind you. Heavens forbid Katsuki have to admit stupid little Deku was enough to make him worried about something, let alone be a threat.)

“Deku,” Katsuki growled, stomping over to his desk as the last of their classmates filtered out. “We need to talk.”

“No, we don’t.” Izuku countered, not even turning to look at him. “You just want to pick a fight so you can better convince yourself you’re not feeling threatened.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed, and Izuku found himself knocked to the floor from an exploding punch as Katsuki’s posse hooted and hollered in glee.

“There you got again, spouting weirdass shit that makes no sense!” the blonde snarled,“I said it before and I’ll say it again – There’s no fucking way I’m scared of your shitty nerd ass!”

“And like I said,” He began, doing his best to keep his tone even and face neutral as he pulled himself up. “You sure as hell aren’t acting like it.

Katsuki shoves another explosion his way and he finds himself on his ass again.

He takes a breath – Don’t react, it’s what he wants. Keep calm and you keep control. “Why do you even care that I’m going?” Izuku asks, glaring coldly up at him. “I thought I was just a pathetic Deku who couldn’t dare match up to you? Why am I suddenly a threat?”

Katsuki’s fists shook in fury as he glared down at Izuku blank stare -

Fucker

Challenging Me Again

Not A Coward

“You fucking know damn well why!” the blonde bristled, baring his teeth in frustration. “All the great heroes, from Endeavor to Captain Celebrity, have one thing in common, one single thread - They all came from some no name middle school, before making their debuts as heroes, literally diamonds in the rough that forced the world to see them shine." 

He then threw his arms out majestically, as if posturing for a phantom crowd. " And that’s exactly where my grand legacy lies. UA is going to be the first stepping stone in my story of how I became the number one fucking hero. It’s my dream, my purpose– hell, my fucking fate to surpass everyone, even All Might himself! Becoming the number one hero has been my dream since I was fucking born

He walked over and jabbed a finger the downed boy’s way, red irises flashing triumphantly. “And a worthless pebble like you has no place in it!”

Remind Him

He’s Below You

He’s Worthless

Just a useless Deku

Izuku blinked, and carefully pushed himself off the ground. “So basically, I have to sacrifice my higher education because you want to have something to brag about to your future coworkers?”

Katsuki sent another explosion his way, only this time he had the sense to actually stumble out of the way.

“Of course a loser like you wouldn’t understand!” He huffed, rolling his eyes at the other boy’s like he had just explained the most simplest thing in the world. “I’ve spent years preparing for this day, and the last thing I need is you fucking it up! I’m the only person here who needs to go to UA, understand?”

Flunkies 1 and 2 stepped forward, sensing it was their time to back up their illustrious leader.

“He’s right you know? UA only takes the best quirks, and yours is the worst of the litter! A useless wimp like you wouldn’t even be allowed to go pass the front gate.” the first smirked, sneering boldly from the sidelines.

“They’d never let a loser like you in. Better just give up now and save yourself the embarrassment!” the second added with a laugh.

“Your quirk’s completely too pathetic for them anyways” Katsuki says, grinning at the tremor that shook through Izuku’s shoulders. “It’s shit for fighting, it’s barely useful – You didn’t even know it was a quirk until the doctors realized they fucked up your exam! You’re no better than a fucking quirkless person!” he jabs a finger into his chest, “And you say you want to become a hero? Don’t make me laugh! Pick some other trashy school to fuck around in, you’d be better off for it!”

He sucked in a breath, gritting his teeth. While one of the benefits of knowing Katsuki for so long is that he knew exactly what buttons to press to push him over, it came with the downside of Katsuki knowing what buttons to press to push Izuku right back.

Keep yourself steady, don’t take the bait, don’t play his game-

“You know, There’s a girl in 3B who said she wants to go to UA too,” Izuku says, bunching his hands against his uniform’s pant leg. “and I’m pretty sure I overheard some second years talking about taking extra lessons to prepare for the exams next year. There are plenty of other kids in this school who have their eyes on UA like the both of us

He looks Katsuki right in the eye, not even flinching at the hardened stare. “And yet, I don’t see you threatening them too? Why is it that only I need to learn my place? Why am I the only threat to your amazing grand vision. What are you so scared is going to happen if I get in?”

Katsuki’s arrogant grin grew wider, and a few explosions escaped from his flexed palm. “Will you get the fucking wax out of your ears, I told you I ain’t-”

Won’t back down, Stop challenging me, don’t understand, scary.” He listed off, and Katsuki’s smile dropped into a thin-pressed line, “You can lie all you’d like, but you know you can’t hide anything from me, Kacchan.”

That one earned him an actual punch, no explosions.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve, acting like you’re even worthy of being on the same level as me!” He roared as the green-haired boy rubbed his now-bruised jaw. “UA is for the elite, the best of the best!”

Before he could even stop him, Katsuki snatched his notebook away, bending the spine in his iron grip. “And last I checked, that didn’t include you.”

Izuku’s eyes widened as he leapt up to grab it, the blonde’s smirk return as he skillful dodge the other boy’s rather poor attempt at getting his item back.

Don’t get upset, it’s what he wants, remember – You’re in control if you remain calm.

But it’s hard to remember, not with the way Katsuki grins and his words sparkle smugly over finally getting Izuku’s eyes to grow desperate, flunkies merrily egging him on with each swipe he evades.

“You can only read people’s minds if you use this, right? How exactly do plan on fighting villains with a fucking book?!” Katsuki asks mockingly, keeping the journal just out of reach. “And I took it so easily from you too – all anybody needs to do is knock it out of your hands and you’re practically helpless! You’d be nothing but a fucking burden on the battlefield.”

It’s getting harder to breath, from both the running and his rising anger. He almost doesn’t notice they’ve have switched positions since the start of their little dodging game – now Katsuki’s standing with his back to the window and Izuku’s right in front of the entrance. If he wanted to, he could easily blindside the other two and run out, grab a teacher or someone happening to be listening in on the commotion in the classroom. Whether or not they’d believe him, Katsuki would have to back down in the face of an authority figure, no matter how unlikely he’d think that they’d go through with reporting the event (Because even if they can’t allow their golden meal ticket Katsuki to be caught in any controversies, they had to at least take actual reports semi-seriously. They could get away with playing ignorant to a hallway scuffle or two, but with the school’s reputation and graduation being so close, actively lying about a harassment complaint was social suicide).

But they both know he won’t.

Don’t get upset, he knows you’re right.

Izuku laughed, actively pushing down a stutter that threatened to come out. “Better a burden than a cowardly paper tiger.”

Katsuki’s eyes twitched, and Izuku literally had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out over his journal getting battered by explosions between his tormentor’s palms before unceremoniously being tossed out the window.

“Dumbasses like you have no right trying to be main characters.” He scoffs coldly as he slams the window shut and walks past, ramming his shoulder into the freckled boy for extra indifference. “So do us both us both a favor and stay out of my way!”

Izuku had to start breathing through his nose, fearing he would not be able to keep his voice steady. Don’t get upset, it’s what he wants. You’re winning, you’re actually winning, he can’t make you stop and he knows it, just don’t show you’re-

“I’m going to become a hero Bakugou,” He wheezes through gritted teeth, hands shaking violently and eyes stinging with familiar tears he was desperately trying to keep in. “You can’t stop me.”

That actually makes Katsuki halt his exit, if briefly.

“...You want to be a hero that badly?” He asks, and Izuku can almost see the spiteful grin he was making behind him. “Then take a swandive off the roof and pray you get a better quirk in your next life!

All the oxygen in the room seem to evaporate in that moment

Katsuki hadn’t meant it – even if the words over his head told him that much, they both knew he hadn’t really meant it. Katsuki was (and became) a lot of things over the years since their childhood friendship had fractured, but even he wasn’t enough of a bastard to say something that like with any real, meaningful intent. He wanted to be a hero after all! He knew Izuku wouldn’t actually do it. He was just trying to get a rise out of him, hurt him badly enough to get some form of victory out of this dumb spat – Because Katsuki has to win, always has to have first place, even if it meant saying something like that in the heat of the moment.

But still...

“Okay.”

Katsuki’s head turns with eyes widened as Izuku headed for the window, and the lackeys guffawed at poor little Deku, throwing a tantrum over getting his feeling’s hurt – what a baby!

He opened the window, and the laughing stopped.

Izuku looks over to sees Katsuki has turned his back on him again while the other two paled and poorly tried to laugh off the scene. They obviously hadn’t expected events to turn out this way, thought it was just going to be another fun day of watching their grand leader torment his favorite toy while they waited in the wings, cheering on his cruelty.

“Dude, come on.” the first flunky (...what was his name anyway? He only ever heard Katsuki call him “dumbass” or some other insult, and he hung out with no one else except Katsuki and his fellow bully….was actually kind of sad when he thought about it) said nervously, obviously unnerved by how close he is to the window. His partner’s words flutter in a hazy panic, concerns of repercussions if Izuku was really was going to take the blonde’s word to heart. Seemed a tad late for concerns, if he was honest.

But still...

“What kind of quirk do you think I’ll get after this – Regeneration? Flying? Adaptability?” He asks loudly as he stuck his head out, trying to be heard over the nonexistent traffic. “Frankly, I’m kind of hoping for strength enhancement, seems much more useful for hero work. Or maybe I’ll get a water quirk – the koi pond’s right there after all.”

Katsuki still hadn’t turned around, so Izuku pulled his head back in before turning to sit up on the window sill, admiring the view. Their classroom was on the third floor behind the school, overlooking a small koi pond and the surrounding neighborhood. A lot of his classmates complained that the view was dreary and confining, but he thought it was pretty okay, even if his own desk was too far center to really appreciate it.

The lackeys shook, saying that he was bluffing. No way a chickenshit like Deku would even think of taking him seriously. He knew they were joking.

Izuku smiled, “Bye Kacchan!” And leaned back, letting go of the-

 


 

The classroom door slides shut, and Izuku is coldly reminded that the window is still closed.

 


 

The journal is ruined.

It’s spine is bent, and though it’s thicker cover had protected it from the water, it did nothing to save the pages from becoming waterlogged nor from warping under the heat of Katsuki’s palm (which has now left five fingerprints on each side - one on the back and four on front).

({It’s a journal}” the voice on the receiver says as he eagerly tears into his present, staring wide eye at the journal’s olive green cover. “{Your mother tells me you’ve been writing a lot more in your notebooks lately, already on you 5th one even. You can use it as a more...personal book, you know, to focus your thoughts.})

“That’s not food, stupid fish.” he grumbled, retrieving his soaked item. Part of him tells himself it isn’t so bad – some time with his mother’s hairdryer, a bit of glue, and it’s usable again. Nothing he can't can't fix

Another part is screaming vengeance, wanting to find Katsuki and smash his ruined journal into his face. He knows it will earn him a true pummeling, that all the calls of cowardice in the world won’t protect him but it would be so wonderful to have the first punch for once.

But he can’t (Because he’s just as much of a coward as Katsuki claims himself not to be).

So instead he clutches it to his chest, taking deep, heavy breaths as he tries to keep the world from crumpling into his small frame, the familiar sting of tears pricking his eyeballs

You don’t care, don’t let him win, you don’t care, don’t let him win, you don’t care, don’t let him win, you don’t care, don’t let him win, you don’t care, if you get upset now it’ll just prove him right, don’t let him win, you don’t care, don’t let them win, you don’t care

The empty street seemed to roar violently behind him even though he was the only one there.

 


 

You don’t care….

 


 

With everything said and done, Izuku attempts to make his way home as quickly as he can, not wanting to spend even a moment longer on the school grounds. He decides to cut through the old bridge downtown, as it’s the quickest route to the train station and then home, where he can decompress and hopefully forget about his awful encounter and the building anger itching at the back of his brain. He’s so cluttered with repressed disappointment at himself and self-pity he almost misses the sound of the manhole cover ahead of him shifting.

Almost.

With a quick backtrack, Izuku quickly hides behind the wall of the underpass entrance just as a goopy river of murky green sludge slinks out of the sewer drain, two panicked jaundiced eye balls floating on the surface alongside a set of cracked, yellowing teeth.

“Shit, that was close!” the living sludge swore, the words stiff print flashing above seem to match his apparent unease.

Got away!

Can’t let him catch me!

Fuck!

He stared as the sludge seemed to move around the underpass hurriedly, obviously trying to figure out where to go from here. Had he just escaped from somewhere? His Hero News app didn’t go off though, and he hadn’t heard any police sirens pass by, so maybe it was still in progress or something? But that brought up the question of what he could have possibly done that required fleeing like that? The underpass was pretty far off the beaten path too, so he probably traveled quite a ways away to get all the way here in the first place….Which means whatever or whoever he was running from, he was that desperate to get away from (a feeling Izuku could unfortunately relate to) that swimming through miles of raw sewage just to escape. His quirk obviously helped matters, as it appeared to make him viscous enough to glide through out the sewer and across the ground with ease, with enough strength to just push the manhole cover off with little issue. Now that he thought about it, he had heard some mutation quirks did come with slight strength enhancement-

The words above the villain’s head shifted as he vibrated with terror, slamming a fist(?) against the ground.

“Damn, it was just supposed to be a simple purse snatching! How it’d get to this?!”

Easy job!

Heard No Heroes.

Why All Might?

Not fair!

That makes Izuku’s eyes light up with curiosity – None of the hero forums he frequented said anything about All Might being in Musutafu, though there were a few claims of sightings that were believed to just be viewbait. Still though, the number one ranked hero being in the city was a major thing, and it shocked him no bystanders or media hounds were making any noise about it. Was he keeping a low profile for some reason? Is he on a special assignment or covert business? He assumed he had to be because All Might was...well, All Might. You can’t be All Might and enter a city like Musutafu without alerting someone, right? The most excitement they’ve had is that time Marukane held a concert to open up one of their new specialty stores, this was-

Ahh, the slime’s moving again. He makes a frustrated gurgle as he slinks around, trying to figure out a proper escape route it seems. His options are pretty limited though – the moment he leaves the underpass, someone will spot him eventually thanks to the lack of cover, and going back down into the sewers isn’t really an option as there’s no telling where the next manhole opens out to. It’s either wait to be captured or risk getting caught leaving.

Need to escape.

Must hide.

Can’t Get Caught!

Gotta make plan!

It’s at that point that the boy remembers that he really should be calling the police (Honestly, he should have done so the moment the slime came of the sewer). He shifts back to his hiding spot and pulls out his phone, quickly typing out the number for emergency services. It shouldn’t take them too long to get to his location, he just had to be quiet and hold out for their arrival.

It rings twice before he suddenly hears light footsteps coming from on the other end of the underpass, and a feminine voice echoes against the walls.

“[Oh god, am I still lost?]”

Izuku blinks (It’s...English right? He’s watched enough herotube videos of All Might’s interviews from his time in the US to at least recognize it), and feels his stomach tighten as the footsteps get closer.

Someone was here? Why was someone here?! Almost no one comes to this place if they can help it unless they lived somewhere in the area – too out the way from any hero agencies for some peoples liking. Did she get lost? Was she heading to the station like he was.

He peaks out quick enough to get a glimpse of the villain’s new thoughts, eyes flashing in wild panic at the slime’s gaze turning predatory.

Someone’s coming?

...Perfect!

Free new meat suit!

The word “Meat suit” has Izuku’s stomach churning as the slime man presses himself back down into the manhole cover he had exited from just moments ago, sliding the cover back over just enough to hide his presence while also making it quick easy for him to pop back out and surprise his new guest.

Izuku’s chest tightens – what does he do now? Does he warn her, tell her to turn around? But then the villain will know he’s here (and had been watching him) and might come after him. But that’s a lot better than him attacking some stranger, and he couldn’t live with himself if something happened he could have prevented. But he’s not confident he can even fight the villain on his own long enough for her to get away if he did get caught, and there weren’t any houses for miles, so calling for help was out of the question too. Maybe if he’s fast enough, he could go around to the other side and lead her away? But his English isn’t really all that good (He can say “How are you”, introduce himself, and ask for the bathroom, but that’s about it), and he’s bound to freak her out just popping out of nowhere like that. Maybe he should just wait till he gets connected with the police, but by the time they get here it-

The sound of the receiver clicks against his ear

“{Hello – this is 911, what is your emergency?}”

The girl takes a step forward

And Izuku takes one as well.

“RUN!!”

But the warning comes to late, and the slime villain is upon her, enveloping the girl in its gelatinous form

“Hold still, it’ll only take a few minutes!” the living sludge laughs crudely as the girl writhes in his grasp. “Really thought I was really screwed for a minute there! Good thing this free meat suit came waltzing out of nowhere! I really owe you one girly – you’re my hero!”

Logically, he should have just told the operator what was happening, followed whatever instructions he would be given, and hoped for the best. His quirk, no matter how he felt about it, would do nothing against a man twice his size and ten times as strong.

But he didn’t – Because even though he couldn’t see her, he could see her sleek words shining bright over the slime like a beacon -

Can’t breathed!

It hurts!

Someone help me!

Izuku ignores the yells of confusion from the operator and instead rushes forward, phone forgotten as he tugs off his backpack and throws it as hard as he can. The Slime villain is startled for only a moment as the contents spill out, allowing the green haired boy to swiftly grab hold on the girl’s one visible flailing arm and begin tugging with all his might. The person, a blond girl with tearful blue eyes in a pink and grey sweater, looks upon him in shock as he pulled.

The slime villain however, recovered from his sudden bludgeoning, looks over at the boy futilely trying to free his prey and lets his eyes winkle with mirth “Oho? Another meat suit’s appeared? Well this just gets better and better!”

The sludge moves towards him, crawling over his limbs, and Izuku realizes he’s done the most stupidest thing he could! Instead of getting help or ensuring the police knew what was going on so they could arrive to save them, he literally ran into the villain’s grasp with no plan or exit strategy, effectively sealing his and the girl’s fates.

He then spots his All Might pencil roll by along with his other school supplies (that’s gonna be a hell of a mess to clean up, provided he lives to do so), then turns his gaze back to the villain’s eyes, floating aimlessly through his syrupy form.

This was a worse plan than his early one, but at least it was something

Izuku lets go of one of the girls hands (her eyes shrink in terror before he squeezing the arm he’s still holding, assuring her he’s not leaving her) and begins reaching out, fingers brushing past the pencil. The villain luckily doesn’t seem to notice, preoccupied with taunting his hostages and bragging about how hard it will be to pick which of them to “ride”.

(Was that how his quirk worked? He called them both “meat suits” so that means it must require physical contact with his victims, with the implication being that he has to have access to-stop that, there’s no time!)

On his third try, the pencil is finally in reach, and Izuku looks over to the girl, who looks back in a mixture of panic, confusion, and exhaustion (she looked close to passing out actually – shit, that’s bad!).

With a valiant and desperate scream, Izuku stabs downward wildly onto one on the villain’s eyeballs, immediately sickened by the squelching sound of the tip piercing the iris. The villain screeched in pain as it finally released his hostages, allowing Izuku to craw away while dragging the girl behind him.

“Go, now!” he screams over the slime’s rattling cries. The girl looks like she’s about to argue, but Izuku ignores her protests and instead shoves her ahead of him – just in time to suddenly lose his footing as his legs are swept from under him

The villain looms over him as Izuku’s dragged forward, his pencil still in the stabbed orb that bleeding and mixing into the slime man's grimy viscous body.

“YOU FUCKING BRAT!” He screeches, and Izuku feels the sludge surrounding him convulse wildly as the villain’s words flare with his growing rage

MY eye!

Hurts!

Fucking kill you!

Panic overrides his senses and he futilely kicks his feet out as the slime continues to engulf and compress him. Another squeeze forces Izuku’s mouth open and slime pours down his throat and covers his nose, blocking any oxygen from reaching his burning lungs. Someone was screaming and he couldn’t tell if it was him, the girl, the villain, or all three of them but it’s making his ears ring. His heart hammers and the world darkens, the villain’s thoughts the only source of light-

Kill you

Kill You

Kill You

KILL YOU!

Before he could even begin accepting that those where the last words he’d ever hear – a familiar boisterous laugh echoed throughout the underpass, distracting the villain from his murder attempt.

“HAVE NOT FEAR – FOR I AM HERE!”

The last thing Izuku saw was the villain suddenly being flung away from him.

Chapter Text

When Izuku finally comes to, he immediately rolls over onto his knees to vomit out the excess sludge occupying his stomach, cheeks stinging as he tries to take desperate sputtering breaths. Oh god, it was disgusting! As you’d expect from someone who had spent god knows how long slicking around the city sewage pipes. It was going to take him forever to rid the taste out of his mouth. But at least, to his enormous relief, he can breath again.

An unknown shadow blankets over him.

(I KILL YOU)

And he whirls to get away, frozen as he finds himself staring up into the face he’s only had to pleasure of seeing on tv and newspaper clippings.

“Good, your awake!” The large blonde man said as the boy blinked owlishly at him, seeming not to notice his rescue victim’s paling face “Had me worried for a second there!”

“Y-you, you’re, you are, you-” Izuku stuttered through his trauma-and-fanboy fueled stupor, trying process the sight of the number one hero of Japan towering over him, and in casual wear no less!

The man laughs, tossing his head back before striking an impressive dynamic pose.

“Yes, it is I – All Might!” He announces boldly before handing Izuku his backpack back (Well, more like tossing), words above his head flashing just as dramatically.

Smile Big

Is probably still shaken

Show him there’s no problem

“I must apologize for what happened,” he says apologetically “I had been chasing that villain earlier when he ducked into the sewer system. Had I caught him sooner, you two would have avoided being placed in any danger...”

Despite the slight distraction of how...simplistic All Might’s mind font was (he expected something a bit more "bolder" from Japan's number one hero), the mention of another person immediately reminds Izuku exactly why he was almost dead, and his earlier panic resettles itself.

“That girl – Is she okay!?”

All Might stares for a moment, startled by his outburst, then laughs, “Yes, she’s perfectly fine.” He points down back at the bridge “I asked her to wait back while I checked on you! She’s very grateful that you came in to try and help her by the way – even went as far as to call you her hero! As a pro, I must commend your bravery in face of such a terrifying ordeal!”

Izuku squirmed over the praise, and felt himself flush. Even though he was still jittery from earlier and his main priority had been the girl’s safety, it made him feel a little embarrassed being told by the top pro hero he had done a good job.

“However,” He adds, grin turning stern.“As a pro, I must also tell you what you did is very reckless! I can understand it being an emergency, but the last thing you should ever do as an untrained and unarmed civilian is directly confront a villain!”

“Oh,” he mutters, his small bout of pride deflating just a bit. Any other time, he would have been a little miffed he was being scolded for trying to help someone, especially since they were in such an isolated area to begin with that waiting for help that probably wouldn’t have arrived in time seemed a lot worse than running up to a villain who would have killed you without even giving it a second thought (He can feel his neck burn from how tight it was gripped and how fast the slime pushed through his esophagus).

But…

My fault

Civilian Was harmed. Melissa almost died.

Should have been more careful

Got too sloppy

It’s rather obvious he’s got other things on his mind aside from Izuku’s (questionably) reckless heroics, so he’d bite his tongue for now (and ignore wanting to ask how he knew the girl personally).

“Um, sorry.” Izuku says carefully, letting his gaze move down “I really couldn’t think of what else to do. I just saw she was in trouble and...ran in.”

All Might nodded, thoughts relaxing just a bit. “Understandable, I imagine anyone in your position would have a hard time staying put! Still, these rules exist to protect you both. The next time something like this happens, contact the proper authorities first!”

I did though, he thinks huffily, but says nothing and instead takes the scolding in stride. Everything worked out, so best not to get hung up on semantics and what not

“I meant what I said though” The hero adds, grin seeming to stretch wider, “the girl truly does consider you a hero. You should take pride in knowing your action’s help prevent a henious crime from being committed. Markings of a good hero in the making!”

Izuku grip on his backpack tightens, the hero’s words settling warmly in him. He’d never imagine hearing All Might of all people telling him he showed “Markings of a good hero in the making”. Hell, he didn’t even expect to even run into him today! He was expecting the day to end on a sour note, but with such encouragement from the number one hero, all the dread and anger from this afternoon had buried itself into a deep unreachable place where it could no longer touch him. He couldn’t think of anything that could ruin his happiness now!

“It’s good you didn’t use your quirk to fight him though, otherwise I would have had to take you to the station too! Quirk regulation laws and everything, you know.”

That took the wind out of Izuku’s sails quite quickly though.

Right, his quirk.

The one that hadn’t really helped as much as it did when he thought about it. Sure, he was able to read the villain’s mind to figure out why he was running, but it did nothing to stop the girl from showing up and being attacked. Or kept him from being nearly choked out…

(Another squeeze forces Izuku’s mouth open and slime pours down his throat and covers his nose, blocking any oxygen from reaching his burning lungs. Someone was screaming-)

He shook his head clear of that thought and focused on his current dilemma – All Might didn’t know about his quirk. He was saying all these nice things because he hadn’t told him about Mind-Reader or his using it on the villain. He doesn’t know what really went down before he showed up. If he knew about his quirk, knew about how useless it was…

(“Then take a swandive off the roof and pray you get a better quirk in your next life!”)

He bites his lip anxiously – All Might’s the number one hero, he probably hears this question all the time from every fan he runs into on the street. Too many times to count even. He’s said it in enough magazine articles and tv interviews that Izuku could probably riffle through one of those for an answer if he needed one so badly.

But...but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him (hell, for anyone), and if he didn’t do something quick, it’d be gone forever and he have nothing to show for it except a memory and Katsuki’s cruel taunts ringing in his head.

Besides, it couldn’t hurt to ask, right?

Before he can even begin thinking of the question though, All Might is already walking past him back towards the bridge. He turns quickly, small stumbles barely keeping up with his titan-sized strides.

“Wait, where are you going?!”

The hero stops to look at him, forcing Izuku to stop. “I’m going to take the girl to the police station to make a report while I drop off the villain.” he explains, holding up two soda bottles filled with familiar looking green sludge and a deaden eyeball floating alongside it’s still-functional twin. “You can get home by yourself right? While you seem fine, I would suggest perhaps stopping by a hospital on your way back. You never really know. I do hope you take my words to heart and execute more caution in the future – farewell!”

Izuku watched him turn, realizing he was actually leaving.

“But I-!” He cries, scrambling for an excuse to keep him longer. “Um, oh – C-can I have an auto-”

All Might points to Izuku’s backpack, not even turning around. “Already done!”

Izuku scrambles though his contents and pulls out his Journal-

“Other one young man.”

He stops, wondering how he even knew as he instead grabs his hero notes, eyes widening as he flips it open and sees All Might’s name scrawled across two empty pages in black ink. He can practically feel his heart swell with joy, quashing any mild irritation his analytic side probably felt from losing out on page space. He’d probably end up needing to clear space in their curio shelf to make a family shrine for such a treasure!

“Now then!”He says as he continues on his way, breaking Izuku out of his excitement and reminding him of the task at hand. “As much as I would love to stick around longer, I must hurry to the police station.”

“Bu-but,” Izuku stumbles, seeing the man get further away. He realizes he would have to think fast if he wanted him to stay long enough to even get a word in edgewise. He goes for his phone in an attempt to ask for a picture when he feels nothing and remembers-

“Wait, I called the police already!”

Unexpectedly, All Might jolts at that, stumbling as he comes to a complete stop.

“Y-you did, did you?” He asks, trying to sound as calm as possible as he whips around at surprising speed. The words above him flickered from concerned to anxious.

Shit!

Didn’t contact Tsukauichi yet

Melissa didn’t say anything

The boy files away the other name for later and tries to keep his gaze leveled as he spoke. “I...was calling earlier when Me-that girl showed up. I didn’t get to finish though – b-but I didn’t hang up, so they must have tried to ping my location! I’m sure they’ll be someone here soon! I could call them, just to make sure.”

All Might nods slowly, thoughts still scrambled. “How…proactive, a very wise decision young man! However, it is my duty to assure this criminal is processed accordingly. I’m sure it’d be no issue for me to simply drop the villain off myself. In fact, you can tell any officers who arrive I’m handling the situation personally. I’m sure they’ll understand.”

“...Isn’t it against the law to do that though?” He counters quickly (and thanks god Orudera made Hero Civics mandatory for third years aiming for hero schools) “Article 539 states that if the police are on their way to a villain attack, any heroes on scene have to wait for them to arrive to process the suspect. Taking him in by yourself is against the law unless there’s an officer’s on scene to contact their superiors to give you permission or the crime’s still in progress.”

“Ah-M-my goodness, you’re well informed aren’t you!” The hero chuckles nervously, obviously not expecting the response, “While you make an excellent point, this villain is...high priority, yes, that’s it! After all, he escalated from purse snatching to attempted-murder in a single afternoon! Plus these bottles might not hold him for long – best to just get him over to the station than risk him escaping, you know?”

Izuku stares, somehow simultaneously unimpressed and amazed at the verbal and mental gymnastics the man was putting himself through – Just what was the problem? All Might shouldn’t be this worried about the police showing up to pick up a criminal, or resistant for that matter. If anything, it would make things easier and cut out the issue of having to hop to the nearest station. He can understand being being a rush to detain the villain, but it’s ridiculous how far he’s going to make excuses to leave (and yes, Izuku sees the irony quite well, thank you). Honestly, it’s almost like…

Like…

“Why don’t you want the police to see you?” he asks, barely masking the confrontation tone his voice held.

All Might, to his credit, manages to keep his response much more restrained this time. “As I said, this is a dangerous criminal and the girl needs to make a report. It’s best he be turned into the proper authorities as soon as possible. The police work with pros long enough to know we have our own way of doing things. I just wish to get this mess settled as soon as possible and let you kids get back to your day!”

Izuku frowns, eyes narrowed. He might not be that perceptive, but he’s experienced it enough times to know when an adult’s trying to give him the brushoff.

He’s trying to get rid of me

But the real question is why? What is All Might (is it All Might? Now that he thinks about it, it’s strange the symbol of peace would be just randomly strolling around in casual clothes and not alert anyone of his presence.) in such a hurry to do he’s twisting basic hero-police procedure just to get Izuku to back off and head home. Pros are busy people, he knows that, they have duty to protect the peace and the last thing he should be doing is holding up one to bother him with such a silly question. Any other normal person would have just chalked it up to the man just being in a rush and leave it at that.

However, there’s a difference being in a rush and wanting to get rid of someone and right now All Might’s leaning heavily in the latter category. There’s also the fact he’s trying to get rid of Izuku specifically. He seems to have no issue with the girl Melissa (who he knows and is doing his damnedest to make it look like they’re complete strangers) tagging along to wherever he’s going.

Izuku could respect wanting to keep a secret, but this was beyond suspicious.

“Well, I must be off! Take care young man!” All Might says stiffly rather than answer him, readying to leave.

Izuku’s gaze shoots up, all attempts at secrecy discarded –

No time!

Have to leave.

Time limit’s almost up.

Can’t maintain longer.

He doesn’t understand what the words mean, but he knows that All Might’s not going to stick around for long unless he says something stupid and bad enough to make him feel he has to stay.

So...Izuku decides to say something stupid.

And bad, in retrospect.

“What do you mean by time limit?”

The man pauses in the middle of making his leap, shoulders tensed. Above him, his words flashed in panic –

What did he say?

Did he notice?

When?

Izuku questions how important this secret is that All Might (?) had such a reaction and how much he should give away about what he knows. If he pressed too hard or said the wrong thing...

“You...you said you’re time limit was almost up,” a half-truth it is, because he did say it (just not out loud) and it’s vague enough to not lead to more questions. “What does that mean? Are...are you-”

All Might is already upon him before he can finish, and he’s sorely reminded of how big the Symbol of Peace is. In the heat of rescue, Izuku would have seen his giant frame as a welcoming sight, a sign that his troubles where over and put his fears to rest. But here alone, under the shadow of the bridge and the hero’s warning glare, it made his feel weak and small, like the wrong word would lead to him being left in the alleyway forgotten with his neck-snapped.

(He digs his nails into his palms to keep from reaching for his neck)

“How much did you hear?” he asks, earlier amused tone now layered with a sharper edge.

“Ah.”

“Well,” All Might pressed on “you wanted to have my attention – now you have it. Explain.”

He gapes wordlessly, wholly unnerved by the fact that he even had All Might’s full attention after that stunt. He had half expected the man to just brush the comment off – It’s what most adults did (even before the mistake with his quirk was discovered). He honestly wasn’t prepared for him taking him seriously, or for the secret to be so important that the number one hero’s barely contained fear is coming off in such heavy, terrifying waves?

(He knows he’s not trying to scare him, he’s just wants to know what he said, is worried he let something important slipped but he's scared I’m sorry I promise I didn’t mean to see it-)

“I, I just want to know,” He stutters, trying to reorganize his thoughts. He’s not going to hurt you you’re fine! “D-do you think someone with a useless quirk can be a hero?”

All Might looks (and is) rightfully confused at the sudden switch of topics, and at any other time Izuku would have gladly explained himself more properly and apologized, but right now he needed answers that only the Symbol of Peace could provide and he was going to take them however he could.

“You know... a lot of people have quirks that aren’t, well, practical for heroism. L-like, being able to adjust your height slightly, or changing your hair color, or even being able to, I dunno, know people’s thoughts by looking at them? You know, silly quirks that really don’t seem like quirks, or are basically just like being quirkless...

Izuku holds up his now autographed notebook, seeing the pages glow below him out of his peripheral while the words above All Might’s head flickered around in a frenzied dance. “A-and my quirk’s sort of like that, and because of it everyone keeps telling me I shouldn’t be a hero. It didn’t even help me fighting off that villain. But, well, you’re always saying on TV how anyone can be a hero! And...and that that must mean people with quirks like mine, right? I mean, just because it’s not flashy doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. I-I'm sure, somehow, my quirk could save someone – because that’s the kind of hero I want to be! So I was wondering...could, could I become a hero, like you, when my quirk isn’t all that strong or useful?”

Izuku told himself not to look up, or down while All Might spoke. He didn’t want to know, he couldn’t know.

He couldn’t know what his hero truly thought of his dream.

For once, he wanted to enjoy the fantasy he crafted for himself, to live in the world he built around his silly, childish hope.

For once, he wanted to think someone believed in him.

 


 

But try as he might, poor foolish Orpheus turned to look anyway,

and truly knew despair as his dream turned to ash before his eyes.

 


 

Inko Midoriya is worried for her son.

The police called to tell her he was involved in a villain attack (no one was harmed, thank god!) and taken to the station to give a statement, and now required her to pick him up.

It had been a stressful wait – the police wouldn’t tell her anything beyond that they needed to ask Izuku a few follow up questions about the attack, and the only company she had to deal with the building distress was the tall gaunt fellow she met and spoke with in the lounge. He said he was the temporary guardian of the initial victim, who was visiting from America for a scholarship of some kind. Apparently, she was staying at a hotel until they could finish moving her stuff into his apartment and was supposed to meet up with him when he had finished with work, but went out earlier to look around the area and got lost, only to get attacked by the villain (Such an awful way to start out her time in Japan!).

“You don’t know how grateful I am to your son Midoriya-san!” he smiles, “Melissa's father is a very good friend of mine, and I think of her as family. If something had happened, I couldn’t bare to look him in the eye again!”

Inko gave an easy smile despite herself. “I’m just glad no one was seriously hurt – to think something like this could have happened.”

The man nodded, face turning grim “That’s just the kind of world we’ve come to live in I suppose. They were rather lucky the police arrived in time to detain the attacker.” He then turned his gaze back to the double door leading to the interview room, “You...should probably talk to him about all this afterwards though. While I am grateful to him, jumping into the middle of villain attacks like that is rather unsafe behavior for a fourteen year old. Be bad if he started making too much of a habit out of it and something worse than today happen.”

Inko lets out a snort she meant to hold in, and has both the courtesy and decency of mind to look scandalized at herself before answering, “Y-you make a good point...um…?”

The man, realizing they’ve been talking for hours without him even introducing himself, smiles bashfully at her, “Yagi, Toshinori Yagi.”

She smiles back. “Yagi-san then. You’re not wrong – it’s dangerous behavior. But...I doubt I could discourage him, even if I tried.”

The man’s brows rightfully furrowed in confusion. Before she could start explaining though, the police had exited with her son in tow along side a rather tall-looking blonde girl with glasses following close behind.

Guess that must be the Melissa girl, she thinks as they’re brought closer. The girl looks their way (and Inko has to take a quick double take – Are they really not related? Blonde hair and blue eyes are rare, even with appearance altering-quirks), and waves politely at the both of them as she’s escorted over.

Izuku, on the other hand, is quiet as the dead when she sees him.

Not that that’s isn’t unusual for him – Izuku has never been a talkative child (Outside of the subject of heroes and quirks of course), even back then, and his quirk hardly encourage socializing in the first place. While Inko was no Chatty-Cathy herself, she often had to get creative to keep conversations going, if she could even get one started with him in the first place.

Not to say they didn’t talk – oh no, they said a lot of things to each other, like “Good Morning” and “I’m leaving” and “Dinner’s ready” and “Is it garbage day?”. They weren’t that detached from each other!

They just...didn’t talk all that much is all. Izuku had become...more closed off since his quirk was discovered, especially after-

(“Izukkun, I’m sorry”)

Point was, talking wasn’t common in the Midoriya household. Izuku enjoyed his peaceful silences and Inko respected that.

This was different than that though – It was like he wasn’t registering her presence at all, or anyone's for that matter. He just allowed her to pull him into a hug with no resistance and then be tugged away as she fretted over him like a limp ragdoll. The only show of awareness he had made the whole time was the police telling them they’d call if they had more info or needed testimony and the girl Melissa thanking him for helping her.

“I was so shocked when you showed up out of nowhere and started trying to pull me out!” she says graciously, taking Izuku’s hand into her own. Inko can’t help but note that her Japanese isn’t all that bad. “I’m really grateful you came to my rescue – thank you so much!”

Izuku doesn’t even quirk a smile or even look at her, answering so softly Inko near misses it. “...I didn’t do anything – my feet just moved on their own.”

The girl seems to miss his dead tone, and just beams brighter. “Then I’m glad they were moving in my direction then!”

Yagi had finished with the officers and turned to face them. “Well, we should be going, it’s rather late.” He then gave Izuku a rather strange look before schooling a much more cheerful expression. “Thank you again young man, you truly are a hero.”

Inko isn’t sure what expression her son had made at the compliment, but whatever it was made Yagi spit blood (or maybe that was just something he did – Inko had go through five entire boxes of tissue provided by the officers to help clean up the two times he had done so during their conversation) and hurried himself and Melissa out the door.

 


 

The cab ride back was as dreadfully quiet as the wait at the station. No matter how hard she tried or how many thoughts of concern she sent his way, Izuku just wouldn’t speak to her, not even small talk.

When they finally got home, he immediately rushed for his bedroom, not even stopping to hear her tell him she’d have dinner ready in a moment.

For a while there was no noise, and that just makes Inko’s anxiousness over the whole incident spike up again as she tried to get herself to focus on the rice cooker. It was nothing – the officers said no one was hurt, and Izuku hadn’t said anything to her (You know why he hasn’t. You know exactly why he wouldn’t tell you if something happened. You know why and you’re ignoring it-). If something had happened, he would have told her. It’s been a long exhausting day for everyone and Izuku’s probably tired from spending all day stuck in a tiny room speaking to people he didn’t know after being attacked by a villain. She just had to make dinner, get him to come out to eat, and everything would be-

The sound of Izuku’s room room door slamming shut is enough to make her realize she’s stirred the soup for longer than the recipe stated and that the timer for the cooker went off ages ago. So with a heavy sigh and worry nipping at her heels, Inko turns off the stove and heads straight for her son’s room.

It was nothing. He was probably just tired and she was fretting over nothing, as usual. It’s nothing.

She makes it two feet to the door before she sees it.

A box had been left outside, and it had been filled with all of Izuku’s All Might merchandise – His toys, his collectables, even his posters (some had gapping tears on the side and corners, likely from the haste of getting them down from his wall).

Inko remembered taking him to buy these, how his eyes lit up when he held the toys in his hands and played hero, or asked for her help putting the posters up in his room, struggling to keep them straight and making sure the gum-tacs didn’t damage them. It took her hours cleaning his room because he spent half that time carefully moving every doll from his shelf and refused to let her do anything until they were all accounted for (“What if the vacuum eats them up! All Might’s strong but he can’t fight su-su-vacuuming powers!”)

Even his All Might nameplate’s in there. She had wanted to write it for him, but he insisted he was a “Big boy” and had to write it himself. Got more ink on his hands than on the tag. He looks so proud of himself when they hung it up.

With unsteady hand, Inko lifts a hand to lightly knock on the door.

“Izukkun, sweetheart?” She asks politely, “Can you open the door please.”

Silence prevailed until she heard the sound of feet shuffling against the wooden floor. There was brief pause before the door creaked open, and her son blankly peeked out at her. He looks rather worse for wear (or maybe he had looked this way coming home and she hadn’t noticed.)

“...Yes?”

“Um,” she begins to uneasily wring her hands. This was harder to do than she thought. “Are you hungry? Dinner will be ready soon.”

Izuku stares, eyes moving slightly. “...A little.”

Inko smiles, secretly relieved. He said “A little”, that means something! Not much, but it’s a start. “Oh, that’s good! I’m trying out a new recipe I found online – miso chicken and vegetable soup. I had to substitute a few things but I think you’ll like it!”

Izuku nods slightly and Inko feels her tense shoulders sag. Okay, this is good, he’s actually responding. Whatever mood he was in at the station was lifting, or at least weighing less heavy on him.

But that doesn’t help with the real issue.

She tentatively eyes the box once more, struggling to keep her newfound determination from clumsily tipping over.

“That box...I noticed your All Might toys are in it.”

Izuku flinches angrily at that and she flinches at his flinching. Not good, She should probably back away, he’s obviously upset about it and she shouldn’t press. She could wait until dinner when he’s relaxed and feed. But she made it this far, and he hasn’t closed the door so he must want to talk about.

Maybe if she just...eased into it. Slide into the discussion slowly.

“Are you cleaning your room?” She asks, ignoring the way her son’s eyes narrow as they move upward. “Do you need me to-”

“Get rid of it.”

Inko blinks, unsure if she heard correctly. “I-I’m sorry?”

Izuku doesn’t answer immediately, just tightens his grip on the doorway. Another look over him makes her realize his eyes are puffy and wet (Had he been crying. Was that why he had been so quiet this whole time?).

“Just...just get rid of it.” he repeats, voice shaking. “Sell it, burn it, throw it in a river somewhere – I don’t care! I just...”

He chokes mid-sentence, eyes tearing up. Before Inko could ask more, the door to his room shuts close in her face and Inko is left outside feeling dread pile up in her stomach.

It was worse than she thought. Izuku was always a crier but...She knows she should ask what’s wrong, that something must have happened! Whatever occurred with that villain, or at the police station before she arrived, it was bad enough to drive Izuku to throw away his prized possessions like this (To make him cry like that).

She opens her mouth-

(“Don’t ever talk to me again.”)

And takes a shuddering breath.

“Do...do you want me to call you when dinner’s ready?”

As expected, she gets no response. So Inko takes the box, hefting it up slightly to make it easier to carry.

“A-alright,” she says lamely, earlier resolve now broken and scattered about her like a block tower. “I’ll come back later, just...just in case.”

Whatever it was that was bothering him, she’d have to hold off on getting answers. Because she is too cowardly to talk to her own son can see her child’s upset and needs some time to himself. Izuku would come to her with it eventually, Inko just had to be patient for now.

So until then, she’d just hold onto all his things until he felt happy and comfortable enough to take them back. The last thing she’d want to do if toss them out and not have them on hand when he needed them most.

Besides, he obviously hadn’t meant what he said.

It was probably nothing.

 


 

Poor kid. There’s no way he’s going to become a hero if his quirk can’t even be used to defend himself, let alone help people. It’d be too dangerous, for him and others. He’d most likely end up like I did after fighting All For One. If I hadn’t managed to make it in time, he and Melissa would have surely-no, no thinking like that. They’re both safe now, that’s what’s important. You can worry about One for All and your impending retirement later, right now you need to deal with this kid.

I’ll just...tell the boy what he wants to hear, for now. The last thing the Symbol Of Peace should be doing is destroying some child’s fantasy, no matter how unrealistic it is. He’ll figure out the truth on his own eventually.

After all, It isn’t bad to dream.

Chapter Text

Izuku ends up not leaving his room

He spent so much time ridding his room of all that person (He knew it knew there was no fucking point but it’s not fair why why why-) and exhausted by the whirlwind of emotions he was tumbling through that he just threw himself onto his bed and laid there for the rest of the night.

He was just...tired and wanted to sleep.

 


 

Sleep did not come easy though.

 


 

The hands are wrapped around his throat and he can’t get them off he’s trying but his hands are too small they can’t get a grip and keep slipping through the flesh like water he can’t get loose even as he desperately struggles to get away and why can’t he breath!

The hands tighten and slowly branch out, digging their roots into his skin.

Flaming goldfish come flying out of his mouth as a soundless scream rips through him They buzz around him like angry wasps, whispering in his ear

I KILL YOU

I'M SORRY IZUKKUN

I KILL YOU

BENEATH ME

KILL YOU

KILL YOU

.

.

.

When he finally escaped the nightmare, it was 11:30 and silent gasping sobs were escaping from his mouth.

Izuku launches himself up into a sitting position, digging into his arms You’re fine you’re fine you’re fine you’re fine yourefineyourefineyourefinetheyarenthereyourefinestopcryingyour-

A light knock on the door pulled him out of his panic

“Iz-izukkun?” the quiet voice of his mother-(don’t call her that. She doesn’t deserve it, not after-) pierces through the thundering of his heartbeat. “Are you awake yet?”

Izuku takes another steadying breath (You’re fine you’re fine) “Ye-yeah, I’m awake.”

There’s nervous shuffling behind the door, like she expecting more. “...Um, okay then. Well, I’m going shopping and do a few errands. I put your breakfast in the fridge, it’s labeled – Oh, there’s leftovers from yesterday you can warm up for lunch as well.”

Izuku’s stomach gurgles greedily at the mention of food. Right, he had skipped dinner last night… “Okay then, thank you.”

An awkward silence filled the space between the two of them. Izuku wasn’t sure exactly what else to say to her, especially since he was still somewhat reeling from his nightmare. He just wanted to lie down and why is he still shaking-

“I...I’m going to head out now.” she finally responded, taking his focus off his white knuckled hands “Call if you need anything, okay?”

Izuku nods despite the fact the door is closed and she can’t see him, “Sure thing.”

He hears her begins to step away from the door slowly, as though she was expecting him to rush out and stop her, or.

Her footsteps stop halfway though

“O-oh, I called the school to let them know what happened. You should be fine missing class today.”

(Then take a swandive off the roof and pray you get a better quirk in your next life!)

His shoulders arch on instinct. “Oh, um, alright.”

There’s another hesitant pause before the sound of footsteps fade from the hall. He waits until he hears the front door clicks shut and before flopping back down into his bed, clenching his sheets.

Izuku knows he should get out of bed, knows he needs to head for the kitchen and eat something.

And he’s sure he will, when his skin stops vibrating anxiously and his breaths have finally slowed.

 


 

Katsuki is irritated, and as always – the blame lies solely on Deku.

When he arrived at class, the little green shitstain was nowhere to be seen. At first he assumed the dumbass was ducking him because of their “talk” yesterday (he burns up the image of the stricken look on Deku’s face before it could fully materialize. He deserved it, he deserved it, you didn’t mean it anyways-), until their teacher came in and announced he had gotten attacked by a villain after school and staying home to recover.

The extras did their thing and parroted dumb useless words of concern on cue, crying about how awful it was something like that had happened to their classmate and how lucky he was to be alive even though it did nothing and he knew for a fact none of them gave two shits. They can crow about wishing him a quick recovery all they’d like but at the end of the day they were just playing it up for the cheap seats to feel good. The teacher was no better, babbling about how they needed to always be cautious and be prepared and always contact the local authority if they’re in danger or feel unsafe and blah blah blah just regurgitated shit of stuff their parents repeated just as mindlessly.

That wasn’t what had Katsuki all in a twist though.

“It’s really cool that Midoriya went up against a villain like that!” a random extra with veiny pink hair droned, bouncing on her heels anxiously. “If it was me, I would have ran! He’s so brave!”

“I just hope he feels better soon,” clucks some chicken-headed loser in response, patting her shoulder “It’s must have been really scary for him. He really is fortunate to have gotten away without a scratch.”

Katsuki pays no heed to the ridiculous praise while the two numbskull toadies sitting next him waste their time glaring enviously.

“Man, it’s totally unfair,” Numbskull one cried, slumping back into his chair, “Midoriya didn’t even do anything cool and everyone’s acting like he walked on water!”

Numbskull two nodded sympathetically at his fellow dumbass’s complaints. “I know right? How’s a loser like that get popular for just getting his ass kicked?”

Katsuki snorted but made no comment, taking a bite of his lunch. While he usually found their whining annoying (and still does. Only reason he doesn’t blast them to kingdom come is that the teachers like how “sociable” it makes him look to being shadowed by the dweebs and sociable looks good on a school resume), he had agreed with the sentiment – Villain attacks happen every fucking day, yet he never heard any of these fuckers throwing a parade for those victims quite like they did for Deku. Just didn’t make any sense to make such a big deal of something so stupid! Wasn’t like the fucker had died or anything (He’s staring at him horrified, teeth clenched but eyes wide with hurt-Stop it! He started it, it’s his fault! He was just playing you like always-), and it was his own fault for being stupid enough to try and fight the villain on his own like a dumbass when he knew he was too weak and pathetic to even do anything. He’s lucky the police even managed to show up in time to save his ass!

There was no reward in praising something so minimal effort.

All these extra’s were doing was worthlessly fawning over a fellow idiot for the same reason the numbskulls were complaining – they all knew they wouldn’t have faired any better, would have done and gotten off worse, so they’re all leeching onto Deku’s stupid stunt so they can feed off his self-generated drama and all feel better about how useless they are.

It was pathetic, and so were they.

(Not Katsuki though. If it had been Katsuki, that fucking villain wouldn’t have even dreamed of touching him. He’d have that trash burned to ashes before it’d known what happened and the police would sit there in amazement of this amazing future hero rather than wandering around dumbfounded at how they allowed a fucking useless Deku do their jobs for them)

However, bothersome as it was, Deku’s undeserved praise wasn’t causing him that much irritation either. In fact, after about four days the fawning had died down and everyone went back to focusing on actual important shit.

No, what had really gotten his goat was what happened afterwards.

 


 

“Why the fuck are you here!” He hissed as his mom rung the apartment doorbell for him. “The teacher said De-Izuku was fine and I need to leave the packet, we don’t need to go see them!”

His mother responded with a slap against his noggin “I told you brat, I’m here for moral support! Poor Inko’s probably really stressed, it’ll help to see a friendly face – and watch your fucking language!”

He grits his teeth and bites back a curse. He really should have expected that the old hag was going to drag herself along with him to Deku’s house after he told her about the teacher asking him to deliver the work he missed (because it was apparently “Everyone Suck On Deku’s dick” week and Katsuki missed the memo). Despite how far the two have come to drift apart, their mothers were still thick as thieves since the day they meet on that stupid neighborhood playdate. It made the whole trying to avoid Deku thing a lot more tougher than it was supposed to be early on when the woman's first go to for his obligatory playmate was that shitty bigmouthed nerd, though eventually she seemed to get the hint and stop putting them together. Unfortunately, that didn't stop him from being in regular contact with the Midoriyas every chance she wanted (and what Mitsuki Bakugou wants, Mitsuki Bakugou gets).

Which now left him here, outside the home of the last fucker on earth he wants to see because his bitchy hag of a mother wants to play “concerned citizen” too for some fucking reason.

The door opens at the second ring and Aunty Inko pops out, looking all sorts of surprised at their presence.

“M-mitsuki? And Katsuki-kun, what are you doing here?”

“Just wanted to make sure you were fine.” She says, pinching Katsuki’s back as he rightfully snorts at the polite plastic smile she put on, “I know we talked about it on the phone, but I just wanted to be sure things were going well. How’s Izuku holding up?”

Aunty Inko’s eyes dim at the mention “Oh, he’s...fine. I-We just finished dinner and now he’s resting in his room.”

His mom smiles on, but there’s a sharp glint in her eye that catches on to the hesitation in the smaller woman’s voice as Katsuki has. “You mind if we come in?”

“Oh, I couldn’t dare bother you.” She says, even though they’re the ones intruding on her (and unannounced no less.) “We really are fine, no need to trouble yourselves!”

“Don’t be silly,” His mom replies smoothly, taking Aunty’s hand. “You know you’re never a bother to me.”

And so Katsuki found his quick delivery turned into a stupid house visit, stuck sitting on an arm chair with warm tea in hand while his mother made empty small talk. A repeat of school, only Katsuki can't simply drown it out by focusing on schoolwork or calling for everyone to shut their traps already.

So he focus on his environment instead. The apartment really hasn’t changed since the last time Katsuki’s been here, which feels like ages ago. A few more memorable pieces of furniture are missing and some new unfamiliar ones, but there are still little things, like the picture of them from the first day of Preschool, and the badly hidden stains in the carpet from a poorly planned game of tag in the living room, and dent in the wall they left when Deku wanted to see if he had gotten his mom's quirk and convinced him that throwing a baseball with assistance of his own was the best way to find out.

He mentally kicks himself before getting dragged too far into the nostalgia, before he drags up worse memories and (his eyes are wide, staring at him as if to ask why stop making that face I didn't mean it i didn't know that would happen-)

After what feels like an eternity later, his mother subtly glances his way and levels him a look that basically reads: “Scram, the adults need to talk and you’re being an eyesore”

And Katsuki, being a spiteful bastard, would have happily ignored the signal and continued his unsubtle fuming on the armchair because the old bat had taken over the entire fucking point of this trip from him but the last thing was was willing to let her steal was his sulking.

But then he sees Aunty Inko, sees her hands shake as she hands them snacks, watches her squint her puffy red eyes, push back another loose strand pf hair yet miss several others. She looks so worn and tired, like even the smallest breeze will snap her in two.

So he excuses himself, grabbing the packet from the table as he heads down the hall to Deku’s room. It’s irritatingly surprising that he automatically knows where to go despite not visiting for so long.

When he gets to the door, an immediate sense of wrongness hits him like a freight train as his eyes scramble to figure out what’s so out of place that it has his senses raised to “search and destroy what the fuck ever’s freaking him out”

It takes him only a second to realize what’s wrong is that Deku’s stupid All Might nameplate isn’t there.

(He remembers because he was so used to seeing it so many times when he used to come over, before their quirks came in, before the anger that bloomed at the sight of each other, before he found out Deku for the fake sack of shit he is).

He goes for the door and leaves the packet laying against the door frame – it’s why they came anyway. The quicker he does it the quicker they can leave and he can stop being assaulted by this building unease and the blurring image that stupid hollow smile at those confused, hurt eyes (It's not my fault didn't want that to happen don't feel bad that's how he got you last time he lied first not you)

He turns to head back, only for noise from the living room area to gets his attention and keep him frozen in place.

(Katsuki’s not one to snoop, because that’s a cowards move to just fucking hide and listen into shit that’s none of your business, but the talking’s loud enough to draw him in anyways.)

“I just don’t know what to do Mitsuki!” Aunty Inko sobbed, voice thick with worry “Something obviously happened, but he won’t tell me!”

He hears his mother move from her spot on the sofa, “Maybe it’s just shock – that happens a lot with villain attacks doesn’t it? Maybe he's still processing it.”

“But it’s not just that!” There’s the sound of tissues being pulled “I thought it was fine, ‘He’s just tired, he just needs rest’. He’s always been careful about villains, so I figured everything was okay. I mean, he’d tell me if it wasn’t, right?”

The sofa shifts again and a desperate sniffle follows the movement. “But it’s been days and he still won’t leave his room! I can barely get him to eat anything, or even talk to me! I’ve never seen him like this!”

“Inko...”

“What if it wasn’t just a fight? What if the villain did something to him and he’s too scared to tell me! Wha-what if, what if it...”

The rest of the sentance is lost to the sobbing and the thundering of blood rushing passed his ears. Katsuki is feeling too many things from this conversation that he doesn’t understand but what he does understand is that the source is only a step away from him.

Katsuki doesn’t stay to hear the rest, just marches over to the room, teeth clenched and hands popping with violent sparks desperate for kindling. He’s not sure what he wants to say but his mouth is already moving despite nothing really human sounding coming out of it-

“Katsuki – we’re leaving!”

Katsuki hesitates, fist raised as he stares down the bare door and wonders about his next act. He should do it, he should just bust in and smash dumb Deku’s face in and ask him what the fuck he’s doing – Putting poor Aunty through, this acting like a goddamn baby just because a his feathers got ruffled a little? He doesn’t understand, Katsuki’s knocked Deku around plenty and he’s never reacted to it, but he’ll buckle and tuck his tail between legs over trash that couldn’t even handle him and a fucking background character (Is he weaker than some trash villain to him then)? How fucking weak was he if one fucking villain derails him so easily?

(How can you say your going to fucking beat me and then lost to one shitty villain?)

“OI BRAT, DID YOU HEAR ME!”

Katsuki turns on the dime, eyes still flaring red with hate and conflict. “I HEARD YOU HAG, I’M ALREADY ON MY FUCKING WAY!”

He ignores his mother’s screech over his cussing (with cussing of her own, mind you), and levels the door one last look.

“Fucking pathetic.” He spits harshly, “And to think I was about to take your challenge seriously. What a fucking joke.”

He walks away before he can even hear the lack of a response.

 


 

Izuku sits in his room, staring at the bold, striking words decorating his 13th hero journal. His mother has gone out shopping again, so he’s just alone with himself and his thoughts.

Now that he’s getting a better look at it, he realizes how sloppy the handwriting is – like it was done in a rush with very little care for legibility, yet enough practiced ease you’d never even notice.

He must be used to it Izuku thinks, blankly following every stroke. He’s the number one hero after all, thousands of people have probably asked for his autograph, enough so that he probably does it on instinct at this point. He’s surprised he even came to the conclusion that Izuku even wanted one (and he would have wanted one, enough to sell his kidney and half his liver for it). Then again all his stuff had the hero’s face on it and was laid out in that tunnel for all the world to see, anyone would have thought so. God, he must have looked so-

(Fucking Pathetic.”)

He throws the notebook in anger (an action he’ll definitely regret later but right now he’s to wound up to care about future him or his feelings at the moment) and screams into his pillow for what feels like the 100th time. Ever since that stupid incident in the tunnel with All Might and the Slime villain there’s been something thrumming under the surface of his skin, something that was constantly prickling at him and leaving him frustrated and exhausted, and Katsuki’s little “visit” yesterday had somehow made it worse.

He’s just so...mad

Mad at Katsuki (It’s not fair why did you come here to gloat why you don’t know you didn’t see that glare see the threats see the sea of slime and he’s drowning drowning someone help-)

Mad at his mother (Why did she bring them here why did she let them in she knows she knows how he feels why why why!)

Mad at All Might (Don't saw his name liar liar you looked me in the eye you smiles while you did it how could you your supposed to a hero right)

Mad at his stupid, useless quirk (Tell him what he wants/Can’t get him mad/He’ll tell /He’ll tell everyone.)

He removes his face from the pillow and lays on his back, staring at his ceiling. His eyes sting from overuse, unable to produce any tears because he already cried himself dry this morning

He’s mostly mad at himself though (“You’re certain to become a wonderful hero”) – for being so stupid, for thinking he could fight a villain when he could barely face Kacchan even on a bad day, for foolishly thinking that maybe it’d be different, for hanging his hope on such flimsy thread that the fact that they took so long to snap despite the years of fraying was a miracle in itself.

For believing, even hoping for even a moment that anyone would take his dream seriously.

Did he honestly think things would be different? Did he really think if he kept asking for belief he knows he won’t receive (and that he’s too cowardly to even give himself) that it would just plop into his lap one day?

Why ask a question he already knew the answer to?

Why put himself through the charade of playing the bright eyed, bushy-tailed boy who could read minds and would receive the noble blessing of his hero to become one himself?

Why was he so weak, so cowardly, that he needed someone (his hero his friend his mother), anyone to give him permission to seek out his dream?

He hates it, hates this stupid heavy weight on his heart, hates this hopelessness, hates that he’s so-

(Fucking Pathetic)

He’s clicks his tongue furiously, also hating that, unfortunately, Katsuki is right – he’s being pathetic, hiding in his room like this. It wasn’t the first time he’s had a close call with a villain, a natural casualty to be expected of someone who made a habit of running towards the flames and screaming to watch heroes and their enemies fight it out in broad daylight. Once or twice a battle got too heated or containment took too long and Izuku found himself in near peril, but it never was that bad.

(But those villain have never been that close before, never touched him, he can still feel the slime crawling down his throat he can’t breath help me-)

The buzzing under his skin increases full force and causes the inside of his mouth to burn, so Izuku forces himself up and begins to wander his room with no real destination or goal except to avoid keeping still because that seemed to be the only thing that made it bearable.

He needs to do something about it soon, because he’s not sure how much longer he can keep it at bay (or how many more days of school he can miss before it starts piling up)

He circles pass his desk for the umpteenth time when he finally stops to stare at his calendar. It was the only piece of All Might(LIAR!) he had left in his room. He rips it down to flipped through the pages and lands on August, eye zeroed in on the date circled with red ink.

 


 

Inko Midoriya sits calmly in her kitchen, thoughts cold and muddled.

She thought when Izuku stopped locking himself in his room, that things were going back to normal. It made her sick she couldn’t do anything to help Izuku those past four days (As always, you wait till the problem solves itself instead doing something), but she was happy her son was okay now. He was finally going to class to catch up with his studies, holding down his meals, going out more – he even started exercising recently, saying it was training for the UA entrance exams (The conversation went no further after that. UA was a touchy topic for both). Inko honestly though things had gotten better.

As of two months ago, that was no longer the case.

She’s no sure when it started, but as the days passed Izuku’s started coming home later and later, bruises and scrapes littering his knees(and this time there are no half-baked stories of roughhousing from neighbors and children to explain them away). He’s also been staying up more, and getting dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep.

He’s gotten more clumsy too, bumping into things right in front of him, tripping over his own feet, dropping things after being handed them.

The worst of it though is the growing absentmindedness. Day after day his mind seems to wander further away from everything – his teacher called with complaints about him zoning out in class, and he’s become so forgetful, leaving behind his textbooks, his lunch, even his backpack at one point! Yesterday at dinner she had to use her quirk to rip his knife away from him because he came too close to chopping off his fingers without realizing it!

Inko keeps telling herself to say something, to sit down with him and ask what’s going on. Exercising can be brutal yes, but not to the level her son’s seem to have taken it.

But every time she gets close she falters, she hesitates, she makes excuses (“He likes his privacy” “I don’t want to seem overbearing” “I’ll ask when he gets back”).

Now she was sitting in the kitchen, listening to her son shuffle around in his room for his books (It’s Sunday, so he’s heading to the library for studying), preparing for a conversation she has no idea how to start.

Just ask him to take the day off. She hisses at herself as she hears the door to his room close. One day, just tell him to stay home for one day and get this over with!

Izuku barrels out into the hall, a mess of curls and a sloppy hoodie he’s still trying to put on as he mumbles something about...Quirk Ethic laws in the prefecture.

She calls out to him, breaking the spell and allowing her to get an actual look at him – the poor thing’s barely keeping steady, his socks are mismatched, and his hair's a bigger birdsnest that it usually is. She’s surprised he hasn’t collapsed in on himself yet.

“I...” She begins, heart pumping as she steels herself. She knows she can do this, knows she needs to do this. For both their sakes she needs to power through

Then she makes the mistake of staring to her son gaze (his wild, dissecting gaze. Always searching, always trying to see something), and panics – She can’t do this he knows he knows She can’t say it she knows she needs to They need to have this conversation look at him he’s skin and bones his eyes are bloodshot and bumped into the doorway when he came in you need to say something tell him-

“I noticed you hoodie was on backwards. You should fix that”

Izuku has the decency to flush before righting his clothes, then sweeps past her, stooping down to put on his shows.

She knows she needs to call out to him again

She knows she needs to stop and tell him whatever he’s doing is no good

She knows she needs to find out what’s wrong

She knows she needs to stop being a coward and say something.

So she instead sits back down and sighs, growing more frustrated with herself and the situation as the door closes with a solemn click.

 


 

He always had close calls with villains. It came with being a hero fanboy who liked to run up to hero battles and get a front row seat of the action. Those times were plenty scary too, but he always got over it, just like he’ll get over this.

He just needed something to get his mind off it, and training for UA seemed like a perfect distraction. He should have been preparing ages ago anyway, he only had eight months and he wasted a near week of one moping around.

(Izuku wasn’t even sure why he put it off for so long...)

The most stablest of times in Izuku’s life (sadly) is when his routine fell into patterns, so patterns is what he relied on. He starts by jogging, a little light work out that started around his neighborhood block and expanded itself street by street as the months passed by. He started putting more work into his studies, surprising his teachers as his average grades slowly but surely rose. He started learning English (and this time not just to spout out heroic catchphrases alongside the tv), he slowly added weights to his regime, updated his hero notes every chance he got, looked up videos on self defense (Despite how much he would have liked real legitimate lessons, he realizes his deadline way too narrow and his current schedule too packed to fit them in or get him where he needs to). If he lagged behind or missed a day, he’d put double into the next one, then triple into the one after, then quadruple into the rest.

And every time his hands shook, every time his neck burned, every time his caught Katsuki’s hateful eyes and angry words, every sight of that mocking grin and whisper (killyou) in his dreams that tried to pierce his skin, he’d masterfully smothered with a new hobby, a new skill, a new lesson.

(Anything to push the buzzing off into the back of his mind)

It all worked out pretty great – until he collapses in the middle of his run about four and a half months into his training.

 


 

(He’s not sure what happened. He was doing fine, making his fourth lap when his body just suddenly quit on him. His chest seized and his legs turned to jello, tangling around each other as he hit the ground with a wet, painful thud and blacked out)

 


 

Izuku bobs in and out of consciousness during the time, limbs heavy and head throbbing. Voices pierce the veil a few times, but overall it’s all quiet and he feel oddly at ease with himself in the darkness.

Then he feels something wet and slimy touch his neck.

(KILL YOU)

He jumps to his feet and scrambles away, heart leaping into his throat. Where is he he was outside now he’s here he doesn’t understand what happened where is he don’t hurt me please-

Hands slip into his and he grips them like their anchors, certain he’ll be pushed away by the roaring tide of his panic if he doesn’t.

“Breath with me.”

He tries to do as the voice says, but his lungs are moving too fast, his skin is thrumming again and he can’t-

Something cool and soothing rushes through his veins, like small little ice cubes are being dropped into the hollow of his bones one by one.

All of a sudden he’s slowing down. He can actually feel his heartbeat fall into a calming, steady pace, echoing terror dying out long enough to let him focus and get his bearings.

He’s in a break-room of some kind, siting on a rather small couch, being blankly stared at by a dark haired girl with swirling mint eyes who looked to be only two years his senior, dressed in a white dress shirt and black slacks.

He also realized there’s a bandaid plastered to his forehead and a bloodied towel on the floor.

“What-”

“One of the regulars saw you brain yourself outside,” She answers coolly, releasing his hands in one quick motion. “so we brought you into the backroom till you came to. Feeling alright?”

“Ye-yeah.” he slurs out, flinching at he numbly catches sight of the deep red divots his fingernails have left on the brunette's hand.

She notices, the delicate formal script above her head twinkling with concern. “That’s good. Sorry for using my quirk on you, it looked like you needed help calming down.”

Izuku shakes his head, “No, It’s fine. I mean, p-probably good you did. I...” He carelessly ripped his hand away from his neck when he realized it was moving too close. His mouth feels dry and those bleeding crescents seem to be staring at him judgingly. “I...would like to know what you’re quirk is? It seems pretty amazing.”

If she catches his wandering gaze again, she makes no effort to call him on it.

“It’s called “Synchronicity”.” she explains, “Lets me make people match my body’s rhythm – sort of a “my pace” quirk, I guess. Only really works if I'm touching them though.”

He nods, brain greedily latching onto the info so it can explore every amazing and powerful avenues it can form with the ability so Izuku can stop staring at the slow trickle of red coming off her pale hands.

Once they’re cleaned and bandaged, Izuku’s handed back his workout supplies and she catches his shoulder (gentle and casual, she makes sure to ask and confirm he can see her hand).

“You’re not the first,” she says gently, in a tone he would have found somewhat comforting if not for circumstances, “Gotten way worse than a few fingernail marks for the same. Don’t worry about it too much.”

His eyes almost trail over to her hands again when he sees her words flash out of the corner of his eye-

He feels bad

Probably a relapse

Don’t let him dwell

So Izuku does his best to keep his eyes forward (and wonders, truly how often the girl has to force icewater down people's veins for their own sakes)

 


 

They exit from the breakroom into a bar-area of some kind.

Or at least, he thinks it's a bar? It’s rather brightly decorated in honeyed golds and blacks, with a kitchenette and delicate little display cases showcasing food on the far left while the two-thirds of the back is occupied by a bar lounge with tables interspersed in between. It feels more like some Diner/Cafe/Bar hybrid more than anything, like the owner couldn't decide what direction to go with it and just put whatever they could in.

It looks like they’re getting ready for closing it seems (the girl taps his shoulders “It was a slow day, you didn’t interrupt anything”) and he spots a tall looking woman with bright orange hair putting away an instrument while talking to a scruffy looking older mantis person leaning on some boxes.

“Hey boss, sleeping beauty’s awake.” The girl announces loudly, and Izuku can’t help but squirm at the dissecting gazes being leveled at him.

“Um, he-hello.” he manages to mumble “I’m, ah, sorry I passed out in front of your...establishment.”

The ginger haired woman snorts, visible golden eye twinkling with hidden mischief, “S’fine, so long as you don’t make too much of habit of it. It’s pretty lucky one of the nicer one spotted you though – everybody else would have left you out there to get mugged.”

Izuku forces out a rather awkward laugh at the blunt teasing. (Her words, despite their rather twisted font, seemed sincere in their relief)

“Hey, don’t tell’im that!” cried the mantis, scythe-like hands waving around in a scolding fashion. “Don’t want’im thinking eve’ybody in the hood gonna jump'im when’is back’s turned! Folks here’re a lot nicer than dat.”

The brunette rolls her eyes.“Don’t take it too seriously. If it helps, you’re a common sight around the block someone would have picked you up and brought you here.”

Izuku blinks. He’s only added the area to his run about a month prior, he didn't really expect to seen as a community fixture so fast “Really?”

“Yep, everybody’s kind on made a game of trying to spot you on you route.” The ginger haired woman grins, hand cupped over her hand as she staged whispered at them. “Poor scissor-hands there almost fainted when he heard about your face plant cause he had money riding on when you’d make it past Karui’s store today.”

If Mantises could blush, they’d be ashamed that they couldn’t achieve the color this man did “OI!”

 


 

He leaves after being insisting yes, he did not need to be helped to the train station or have anyone called, being handed a doggie bag that he fails to give back or pay for.

“Consider taking it your way of apologizing for almost bleeding all over our floors.” They say, and shut the door before Izuku could even think of giving it back.

When he does get home (fails to avoid being spotted sneaking back into his room to hide the giant bandage), he opens the bag to find a box of peppermint tea and a package of rice crackers with a little note:

=Moderation is key=

He falls back into his desk chair with the snacks in hand, stomach protesting the thought of food despite running on empty the entire day. He ends up ripping open one of the packages anyways, scarfing down the crackers with unrestrained fervor.

 (They're honey-flavored, giving it a nauseatingly sweet aftertaste. He still finishes the whole bag.)


 

The day for the UA entrance exams comes quicker than Izuku expects. He dons a thick winter coat and an even thicker scarf and rushes out into the cool late august air to head for the train station, surrounded by thousands of other equally tense and excited hopefuls awaiting the place that would soon cast judgement upon them and the dreams they've been carrying for six long months.

He feels the train ride needs to be longer but also wishes it would never end.

“You’re fine, you’re fine.” Izuku whispers, clutching his backpack close to his chest. He heaves in a breath, feeling the telltale sighs of prickling buzz flaring up under his skin. He curled into himself, heart beating violently against his rib cage as every nerve in his body struggled to settled on being nervous of the coming trial ahead or paranoid over an invisible danger her couldn't perceive.

He was fine, things were going to be fine, he was going to get through this and be fine.

He’s just being pathetic, as usual

 


 

Inko Midoriya sits in the kitchen, nursing a warm cup of tea. Her son has just left for his high school entrance exams and she hasn't any errands to run, leaving her with the house to herself and a lot of time on her hands.

I'm going. I'll call after it's over.

She takes another sip. It’s rather delicious. The box Izuku gave her says the brand comes from a store in Shizuoka.

(Shame she couldn’t get him to drink any. He always rushes out the door before she can offer to make him some.)

Chapter Text

Izuku pours over his hero notes for what feels like the hundredth time, barely even skimming over the words as phantom pins needled him all over.

It had started on the train ride over to UA’s campus and hadn’t stopped the entire time. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong – the train itself was adequately heated, nothing and no one wet was touching him or his neck, he had a good night’s rest, he actually stayed to finish breakfast, what had he done wrong? He thought he was getting better at this, after two weeks had passed and the prickling hadn’t occurred. Thought that he had finally killed the beast who’s sole purpose seemed to be to sneak up upon him and peck at the back of his brain with this painful anxiousness that wouldn’t tell him what there was to be anxious about.

“You’re fine, you’re fine...” he repeats to himself, rereading a line about potential temperature limits on Endeavor's quirk, hoping that if he keeps his mind on anything else, the pricking will go away again. He couldn’t afford to fall apart now, not when he’s so close, not after all the work he put in, not when he’s so close.

Not when this is his only chance to finally give his dream flight

 


 

The buzzing doesn’t stop, despite his best efforts.

He manages to make if off the train and into UA as quickly as he can, muttering a quick apology to the girl he accidentally rams into on the way over. Once he’s inside, he heads for the nearest seat and plants himself there, teeth gritted as he grips the seat arms for dear life.

You’re fine You’re fine What wrong with you There’s nothing wrong Why are you acting like this Nothing’s happened So why won’t it stop You need to make it go away Make it STOP-

An unknown hand touches his shoulder and he smacks it away hard, looking up with sudden unexplainable hostility that was pouring out of his every pore.

The fuchsia haired girl with pigtails stares at him stricken as she cradles her hand and it’s in that snap second of allowed clarity that he’s able to realizes oh, she just wanted to see if he was okay and oh, there are more people than before and oh – they’re all staring at the both of them, all confusion and disapproval.

Izuku stares wide eyed, trying to come up with an excuse, an apology of some kind. It’s the least the person deserves. She was trying to help him after all. But his mouth is bone dry and his voice is trapped in his throat, like thick layer of liquid is filling the inside and pressed against it say something you need to apologize what’s wrong with you why can’t I breath-

“Jeez, well sorry for bothering you.” she sniffed, words seething in luminous fury as she storms away to another section and Izuku is left with the last residues of his abrupt irritability being drowned in ice cold shame and guilt.

(It makes him barely notice that the buzzing ceased and that the uncomfortable sting of goosebumps was slowly going numb.)

After some time has passed, the auditorium lights die down, leaving the only sources of brightness the stage-lights below and the tiny twinkle of thoughts belonging to every student present. It’s honestly a little blinding for him, so he tries to keep his eyes on the podium as none other than famous voice hero President Mic appears on stage.

“GOOD MORNING LISTENERS!” The lanky blonde man shouts, all good cheer and smiles “ Welcome one and all to UA’s entrance exam – Can I get an “Oh YEAH”!”

A few students managed to humor the man’s request and whopped loudly while the rest flinched at the volume or stared blankly ahead, deep confused at the fact that the start of their exam intro was being treated like a concert opening.

“Whoa whoa WHOA, hold on a minute there!” He pouts, grabbing the microphone and strutting out boldly from behind of the podium. “Don’t tell me y’all are gonna leave me hanging? Now I know you little listeners got more “Plus Ultra” than that!”

Another beat of awkward murmuring passes before his grin grew wider, “Alright, now let’s take it from the top!” He says, and shots a fist towards the ceiling. “GOOD MORNING LISTENERS, AND WELCOME TO THE UA ENTRANCE EXAMS – CAN I GET AN “OOOOOOOOHHHHH YYYYYEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH~”!”

This time everyone joined in, some a little less enthusiastically than asked (mostly because most wanted to move on already), but they still managed to at least put some soul in it.

“That’s more like it!” He laughs, “I know y’all came a long way and it’s way too early, so sit back and relax while I give you the ditty on what you’ll be expecting for this little test of ours.”

Mic begins going over the basics – the entrance exam is 50/50 for each section, and earning enough points on both would guarantee them a spot in the department of their choice. The written portion will be about 3 and a half hours long (which seemed excessive in Izuku’s opinion, but it was UA after all and they’re nothing if not overtly excessive). They would be given and directed to a randomly assigned classroom for their tests before being given a short break in the cafeteria (Snacks would be provided of course, courtesy of UA’s own kitchen staff). Afterwards, the secondary portion would begin: Those who were enrolling in the General Education department would return to the main classroom for another test; Those aiming for Support would be herded to UA’s patented labs, where they would turn in their work portfolios before being given a practical exam overseen by the head of the department; the UA’s Business Course hopefuls would go to the third year’s floor for a rather lengthy and in depth interview. Rather overwhelming, but over all simple tests necessary for showing off how much they deserved being made part of the student body and their respective departments.

The hero course exam, however, apparently required a bit more in-depth explaining – students where to go to the fields before being split into groups and sent to UA’s artificial city, where they’d be going face to face with robots specially designed for their test to allow them to show off the destructiveness of their quirks and the skill directing them. There were to be three robot types (Four actually, according to the display board) released into the city for them to fight, each assigned with a different point value. The more you destroy, the higher your score, and you would do good to aim to get as many as possible.

Izuku leaned back, biting his nails as he mulled over the information. He figured it wasn’t going to be easy, but he didn’t think he’d being given such a huge handicap – his quirk was at a complete disadvantage and despite all the working out he had done in the past 6 months, he doubted he’d be able to land a punch strong enough to even put a scratch on any of them, or could outrun one if necessary. There’s also the issue of the fact that they weren’t telling them what the point cut off was (most likely to encourage them to gain as many points as possible). That meant Izuku not only had to find a way to damage them significantly enough to count, but find a way to do so repeatedly enough he could pass. There was also the issue of avoiding getting ganged up on, if he couldn’t use his quirk to predict his opponent’s movements then-

“EXCUSE ME!” Cries a lone voice from the third section, breaking his concentration quickly enough for him to see a rather well-built blue haired boy with glasses in a rather prestigious looking school uniform rise up amongst the crowd “But I noticed a mistake with your explanation – you claim there are three types of robots to get points from, but there are four on display! I do not wish to believe an illustrious academy like UA would make such a grievous error.”

Everyone turned to whisper to their neighbor – they had noticed too, and few felt it was a bit odd. But they figured they’d wait until President Mic had gotten to that point of the lecture to explain it.

Apparently, the blue haired boy was not as patient.

“And you,” the dark haired boy continues, stiffly pointing in Izuku’s direction “You’ve been muttering this entire time! It’s rather disrespectful to be talking during the introductory lecture, not to mention disruptive! If you aren’t going to take this seriously, then I highly suggest you leave!”

Small pearls of stifled laughter echo throughout the auditorium, but any embarrassment he should have felt from hearing them or realizing he had been talking out loud was bypassed by the angry tone tickling at something familiar in the back of his head (painful fearful shameful) that mixes in with the left over smoldered embers of his irritability from before, especially when he sees how the boy is glaring down at him. Before he could even tell himself that he was taking it too seriously (that that red piercing glare was just his imagination, that there was no blonde hair hidden that sea of indigo), Izuku’s already sharply turning his head, teeth bared and ready for a battle that’s not even occurring-

“Hey now kids, save that fire for the practical!” Mic cuts in, putting the growing hostilities on ice real quick. “Now, to answer your question listener number 7111, you’re right about there being four types up here - The fourth is called "the Zero-Pointer", which will appear in each battle quadrant. As the name states, it ain’t worth any points – So while not impossible to beat, it’s best y’all not to waste your time and just ignore it when it shows.”

The bespectacled boy bows, satisfied that his question’s been addressed, and seems to level Izuku one last look at before sitting down while the other turns his gaze away from the whispers of the crowd as the rest of the exam lecture continued.

(Izuku spends the remained forcing that ice-cold shame from earlier to return, to make him acknowledge what he was about to do, to make him remember he had no clue where KacchanKatsuki was sitting.)

 


 

As expected, UA does not work in half measures, especially when it comes to their written exams.

Everyone receives their assigned classrooms alphabetically, and each group is ushered into a classroom down in the south wing of the school. The rooms are all overseen by an instructor, who tells them the test will consist of three packets to fill out. The test shall be covering a variety of subjects, from Arithmetic to the Heroics Zeitgeist, and includes a lengthy essay. Yes you are allowed to skip questions, yes bathroom breaks are allowed, yes the test really is three and a half hours, and no, they aren’t joking. No speaking is allowed once the test starts, all eyes are to be kept on your test packets, and remember that the instructors have been throughly informed of the quirks of the applying students, so no forms of cheating (Physical or quirk-like) will be tolerated.

(The seriousness of this threat is made abundantly clear 40 minutes in when a boy with an Xray quirk is caught attempting to see through his neighbor’s back to look at their test sheet. One quick “You’re done” and he ends up “escorted” out of the room.)

The first hour goes by in a slow unending blur of bubble sheets, calculations, and historical speech translations. Once or twice a student gives a noise of hopelessness and frustration, but they power through. The next hour moves just as snail-paced, with the steady sound of pencils and breathing being the only sign that anything’s happening. No one attempts to ask for erasers, no one stands to stretch, no one stops for anything. A student abandons their test 15 minutes into the third hour and ignores the instructor’s calls for them to return to their desk as they slammed the door shut, and still no one moves. This test in their only way into the haven of UA, into the place they spent a good six month bleeding, sweating, and crying over to get to the first stage for. They aren’t ready or willing to risk it for any reason.

Eventually Izuku ends up getting close enough to done that he decides to take a quick bathroom break.

He pops his limbs and moves down the hall as quickly as he can, attempting to remember the instructor’s directions while he takes a moment to settle his brain (The phantom buzz under his skin hasn’t made a reappearance yet, but he can’t help but feel anxious about it, worry that it will reappear when he’s least able to defend against it).

He gets passed a corner when he spots a grey haired boy in a rather oversized school cardigan standing nervously in the middle of the hall, words flickering with worry over searching for something. He looked rather confused and he had all his stuff with him...

“Did you finish early?” he asks, catching the boy off guard and causing him to quickly stand at attention.

“Oh, y-yes...” He mumbles quietly, running a finger nervously though his rather long bangs. “I was going to head to the bathroom first, but I...got lost.”

Izuku’s eyes move upward. The boy’s font is surprisingly smooth and direct despite how quiet the boy himself was (Izuku could almost barely hear him when he spoke).

Oh gosh!

Saw me just standing there!

Looked so stupid!

“You didn’t look stupid.” Izuku answers automatically, and the boy looks ready to die on the spot as his thoughts flutter and blink in bewildered embarrassment while he himself flinched at his own tactlessness. What was wrong with him? He should know better (know not to answer a stranger’s thoughts like that). “I mean, I don’t think you look stupid. Y-you know, as a thing.”

The boy doesn’t respond, tugging his bangs even harder than before. “...”

Izuku panics, tries to recover himself. “S-sorry, I just-my quirk showed me you were worried about looking stupid, and, um, I wanted to tell you you shouldn’t be worried about it – Which I just did, because I didn’t want you feeling bad about being lost, n-not that you should, just that, well, you shouldn’t have to feel you should, you know?”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“...”

Izuku sighs, “...Do you want to just, um, follow me to the bathroom, it’s where I’m heading anyways.”

The grey haired boy nods, and moves aside as Izuku leads the way. The entire trip is filled with a rather awkward silence that never really gets filled, despite both their best efforts to form a conversation.

Izuku’s quirk didn’t help either– he could see how uneasy and jumbled the boy’s thoughts were, and it made it difficult to engage with him when he knew he was directly contributing to the socially-stifling atmosphere with no clue how not to. Furthest they got to anything remotely conversational was acknowledging how gargantuan the UA campus was and how it would have been more helpful to have provided them with maps.

Once their business if taken care of, they exit the bathroom hastily, avoiding eye contact as Izuku checked the time. He still had 24 minutes left, should have enough time to get back to the testing room and finish the rest of his test.

“Um,” Izuku begins stiffly, rubbing his arm awkwardly “I’m...going to head back now. Ah, good luck on the rest of the exams.”

The boy nods, shuffling about as equally uncomfortable, “Th-thanks, you too.”

The meeting ends just as briefly and awkwardly as it began, and both split apart.

 


 

The designated break period was a godsend to the gathered students after spending so much time hunched over a desk for three plus hours straight. Everyone dug into the handed out miniature box-lunches with the intensity of starved men who had just escaped from the Sahara, barely caring for manner or dining etiquette as they stuffed their faces and filled their stomachs. The meal was light, but god was it filling to those who had been forced to forgo breakfast to avoid being late to the earlier orientation.

Besides, most there understood why they had kept the meal so small – the second part of the gauntlet couldn’t be faced properly on a full stomach.

Once the teachers had announced that the break had ended, the students all stood with their empty boxes in hand, eyes burning with blinding determination.

It was time to face their goliaths.

General Education course applicants tensely headed back for the main hall, where they’d be splintered off again for yet another round of tests.

Support course applicants were sent off to the eastern side of the building, portfolios in hand and eagerly awaiting the practical they’d receive.

Management course applicants shuffled off heartily to the northern staircase to head for the third floor, excitedly wondering who would be handling their interview portion.

The hero course applicants grew quiet however, nerves tightened and hearts steeled as they threw away their plates and made their way outside.

 


 

The Artificial Cities were special training grounds owned by UA that were used for heroics training by the already enrolled students. They were built in concert by a famous hero agency architecture firm, several construction companies, and pro hero Cementoss, with the idea being to create something that could help students learn more about urban battle tactics. There were about 12 sectors in total, with each “city” ranging to about 19,842 square-kilometers (that slowly expanded by the year as the heroic’s program evolved) and designed to perfectly mimic a real life cityscape. Rumor has it that it even rival Tokyo’s metropolitan area in size.

Izuku was unable to take in and admire any of this, however, as he was doing his best to wade through the gathering students and their near-blinding waves of nervous thoughts. After he and the rest were speedily brought to off campus changing rooms (Hero course applicants were informed ahead of time to bring a change of personal gym clothes with them for the second half), they were split into several groups and taken by bus to the Artificial Cities arena for the second half of their exam. Izuku’s group was dropped off at City D, only given instructions being that they were to remain in the area until the start of the test was announced.

(A bit vague and frustratingly unclear, if he was being honest.)

All the students present in his group had begun to do warm ups or chat with each other, but it did nothing to dim the growing unease they were all feeling as they fretted and worried over when the test was starting, how they would fair against the robots, how big of a point dock did the written portion have? And poor Izuku was in the thick of all that worry, near blinded by the intensity of their anxiousness. He at least near bumped into someone trying to get away from it all and find a place to clear his head and his line of sight.

Izuku finally managed to find an open space where he could stretch and think for a minute, wondering how he’s going to handle the issue of his quirk

“I could use the environment to my advantage,” he mumbled, calculating all the various potential sharp corners, uneven ground, and narrow alleyways he could use to damage or slow down his robotic opponents. There was also taking advantage of the various building and open window stores to escape one’s he’s having trouble dealing with...

He spots a few students staring in his direction, scaring them off as he turns their direction. It makes him realize that he doesn’t know a single person in the area, or recognize them from anywhere.

(A small part of him is relieved that Katsuki is no where in sight and no where near him. That’s the last thing he needs right now.)

...Maybe I should try talking to someone. He thinks, pushing down the embarrassing hallway encounter before it could rear it’s ugly head. It would be nice to have a warm up partner, and it definitely wouldn’t hurt to try speaking to someone, establish some form of early friendship so he can shake off this growing unease and do some damage control for what happened during the introductory assembly.

Izuku looks around and spots an orange haired girl with a sidetail in a teal top, doing arm stretches. She seems approachable, and her thoughts are squarely focused on her warmup, so he doesn’t have to say any stupid and look socially inept or mentally invasive.

(When he looks back on the memory, when he pulls back the haze of panic and anger, he honestly wished he had handled it better)

He turns and takes two steps forward-

A hand tightly clamps onto his arm, pulling him back slightly and a cold, accusatory voice rumbles behind him.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

(“Where do you think you’re going, Deku?”)

(Kill you)

Izuku’s brain stops and he freezes, not even listening to the rest of the words blowing onto the back of his head as his body sends ten-thousand different messages to itself.

Run away

Hide

Stand your ground

Get away

Let go

LET GO!

He rips his arm away like it’s being burned (and it feels like it, like there’s some unseen heat building up under his skin), turning around and ready to yell at Kacchan to leave him alone already it hurts-

Except it’s not Katsuki, but the bespectacled boy from the assembly behind him, now dressed in what looks like a custom-made blue and black running suit (and expensive too, if that elastic sheen is anything to go by), staring down at him like he had just caught him trying to stab someone.

His eyes drift over other surrounding students who are making passing glances at them.

Weirdo from the assembly

Look how he flinched

Shaking like a leaf!

Looks like less competition

“I asked you what you’re trying to do?” The boy repeats sternly, and Izuku’s attention moves back as his mouth rushes to make an apology he’s not even sure he even needs to make – say no, that was the last thing on his mind, that he just wanted to say hello and make a friend and that was it (to please stop staring at him with those cold, doubtful red amber eyes).

Then he looks up at the boy, passed the disapproving from, passed the eyes coldly narrowed at him in suspicion, passed the overlapped phantom blond hair fading from the dark blue, to the shimmering words above-

Trying to sabotage someone?

Such shameful behavior

Unfit for UA

He doesn’t hear the boy repeat his question, or the watching students whispering, or even the sound of his own breathing – Just the word’s “Unfit for UA” echoing against the hollow of his skull, loudly, hissingly, cold and cruel and digging into every part of his brain.

(And last I checked, that didn’t include you.”)

“Just shut up.”

It takes a few hushed gasps from the crowd that’s gathered around them to make him realize he said this aloud.

The taller boy is taken aback, and sputters in alarm “I-I beg you’re pardon! How utterly rude!”

A small part of him is screaming at himself to apologize, to explain, but it’s being drowned out by that grating echo and the loud beating of his own heartbeat. The scratching from the assembly returns, digging at that familiar feeling that has him suddenly feeling too much all at the same time and overclocking every braincell.

“No,” He bites, and nearly inwardly bristling at how cold yet strained his own voice sounded. “Rude is yelling about someone talking under their breath when you were being louder than they were!”

The other boy’s eyes narrow sharply at that as he takes a step back, and Izuku’s mouth’s already moving before his brain can have a chance to run interference “Tell me, are people aiming to be heroes suppose to make a habit out of harassing people they don’t even know?”

The boy looks alarmed at that, and Izuku hates he’s taking some small satisfaction from it, that he’s thinking good, be shocked, you deserve to feel embarrassed Kacchan!

(Wait, that isn’t right, Katsuki isn’t here, he doesn’t even know where he is)

However, just like before, President Mic’s voice cuts through the coming reply like a hot butter knife as a rather loud buzzer rang through the air

“HEY THERE LISTENERS!” the cheerful MC’s voice cried from the speakers stationed throughout the city “IT’S TIME TO BEGIN THE SECOND HALF OF UA’S ENTRANCE EXAM~!!”

Every stops whatever exercises or conversations they’re in the middle of as they leapt to their feet, limber and ready for their second step in becoming heroes to begin. All the eyes on the confrontation turn to search the rooftops for the speakers, silently waiting with baited breath for further instructions.

“...What, you waiting for a countdown?” Mic’s voice responded bluntly, “Ain’t no starting call in a real battle kiddos – better get a move on, cause the test has already begun!

With that they realize the second half was already underway, and everyone scrambles out into the city to regain their missed headstart.

The boy levels one last withering look at Izuku before speeding off ahead in a flurry of dust, leaving Izuku to stumble slowly behind to catch up (just like he always is)

.

.

.

As Izuku expects, he’s doing absolutely terribly.

The robots are a lot bigger in person than they are on screen, and hit a lot harder than he predicts. The first one he runs into is a Three-pointer, standing four times his height and armed to the teeth. He only barely gets near it before being immediately knocked off his feet when it strikes the ground to get at the one of the other examinee students. He barely recovers in time to see a pink-skinned girl with some sort of acid quirk leaps out of nowhere and melts her hand through its head.

“Yes! That’s 6 points now!” she cheers, words glinting victoriously as she jumps off the downed machine and runs off to find the next one. He and the rest don’t even give themselves a moment to be stunned before running off to find another robot to fight. Lightning, fire, rocks, drill hands, spikes, gasses, and every quirky element possible were flying through the air alongside broken machine parts as students rushed their metal foes and attempted to rack up points.

Parts that barely benefit him, as none of the pieces are big or sharp enough to do him any good, and the ones that are end up too heavy for him to lift or carry for too long.

What was the point of working out for 6 fucking months if I can’t even lift a stupid piece of scrap metal! He cries as he hopelessly pulls at part of the halfway detached shell of a Two-pointer, unable to even pry it away from it’s now lifeless host. He nearly loses his fingers when his grip falters, and eventual forces himself to move on.

All around him students are effortlessly destroying robots with their quirks and Izuku lets a twinge of childish envy sliver into his mind. Robots don’t have minds to read or thoughts to pick apart, they’re souless wires and gears that act on pre-installed inputs that were near impossible to predict unless you were given enough time to observe their patterns. If he was facing off against people, if the test involved using his notebook, if his quirk actual went beyond simple things like mind reading…

No, don’t get distracted – focus on the exam and earning points!

He dives through one of the alleyways in hopes of it getting him to the next block over quicker where the sounds of fighting are loudest.

(He does his best to push down the memory of cold slime running up his arms and legs as he runs through the narrowed, trash covered path.)

 


 

President Mic calls the ten minute mark only three minutes ago as Izuku slides into the empty downtown shopping district and runs into a One-pointer. Unlike the Two and Three-pointers, this one was more closer to human size, though still reasonably big enough to require actual care and caution when confronting. Also unlike the others, Izuku is actual fully prepared and focused when he finds it rolling through the streets alone and unguarded, allowing him the perfect opportunity to strike it down and finally earn a point.

Earlier, he found the broken arm of a two-pointer that was actually light enough to carry around as a club. He lets it follow him a few blocks, keeping enough distance to be grabbed yet still be close enough to make his move. He gets in close and gets it to follow him, waiting for them to be some distance away from the center streets before sliding under its windy arms, gripping the arm and tilting it towards its head (He’s proud to have fallen back on some of the baseball skills he forced himself to pick up during his “hobby hell”). His foot slides out and his arm moves back in a sloppy arc, swinging out fast and against the side of its monitor.

The “club” is made immediately useless once smashed against the head of it’s lesser-point kin, breaking into shards of metal and wires. The attack is equally as useless, only serving to scratch off some of the paint and damage the large red lens acting as it’s eye, thus causing it to flail helplessly before tripping Izuku by sweeping under his feet. He desperately crawls away, eyes glued the the raised claw (slowly turning translucent green in his blurring sight)-

It doesn’t even get a chance to strike before being blindsided by a boy with gleaming metal skin that comes out of the street corner screaming while Izuku wasn’t looking. It happens all too fast in Izuku’s panic-muddled thoughts – the robot was looming over him, bringing too many buried nightmares back to the surface they had been banished from, before a roaring battle cry comes out from behind and it slumps over before him. The boy stands proudly over his kill, pulling his fingers apart from the hammer strike he formed them to make.

Someone's here

Don't look hurt

Should warn him

“Careful buddy, almost hit ya there!” He calls out, then darts off to the next street and disappears behind the grocery store.

Izuku doesn’t watch after him, drowning to deep in his self made silence. He can still hear it, the noise of the ongoing battles and the robot’s dying sparks, feel it dig it’s nails into his skin. So he grabs onto it and pull, let it tug him back on solid ground before he falls too deep. Focuses on the now totaled one-pointer, at the large cracked dents in the metal the boy left in comparison to the small scratches and the cracked lens he himself had made. His brain is struggling to stop estimating the density of metal he’s probably made of, to stop comparing the potential metal types of him and the one-pointer, yelling for him to stop and look – Look at the small hairline fractures of the glass, at the barely visible dip in the metal ring holding it, at the small pieces of red only now flaking off onto the ground because that other boy’s punch shook them loose. Look at it Izuku. Look at what you did. Look at the “damage” you did. Look at his enemy you were so sure you could handle on your own, that you needed someone else to destroy for you.

All that trouble, all that strength, all that practice and training and exercising and – and you didn’t even break the goddamn lens.

(Izuku doesn’t even notice he’s thrown the remains of his impromptu weapon until he finally back on solid ground in time to hear the sound of the jewelry store’s window breaking on impact.)

 


 

Time passes, and still Izuku has barely gained any points. Every time he found a robot, either another student swooped in to take out his target, or he was just too weak to actual face off against it and forced to flee. Now he’s low on time and the amount of opponents has now dwindled to the point that everyone of the similar position is running around like spooked chickens, trying to desperately seek out a lone robot that hasn’t been felled. At this point it probably wouldn’t matter, but they’re all desperate and they all realize their chances are slowly being slimmed.

One point! He thinks as Mic calls out the 5 minute mark. I just need to find a robot and get one point!

Just as he stops to consider going back around the marketing area, the ground begins to rumble, nearly knocking him off his feet and startling everyone else around him into halting and trying to discover the source of the tremors. They all turn to the far north of the streets, and out of the city horizon comes the Zero-Pointer.

As like before, it’s larger than it is in person, damn near engulfing the entire skyline with it’s presence as it slowly drove through the city and over the buildings unlucky enough to be in it’s path.

The sight of it alone is enough to make the wandering loiterers decide it’s time to abandon any dreams of last-minute point collecting and book it to the furthest end of the city, with the following 2 minute call only serving to make them move even faster.

Izuku broke out of his shock just in time to notice almost everyone had left him in the dust, and he began to turn to join the other fleeing examinees until a distress sound coming from ahead made him pause once more.

One of the students, a blonde boy in a black t-shirt, was limping around in a daze behind everyone else, with not a single person passing by stoping to help or get him to start running. While too far away to read his thoughts, they’re glowing as sluggishly as the boy’s moving, and he seemingly paying no attention to his surroundings – including the slowly but surely approaching Zero-pointer, that’s mercilessly crushing a streetlamp underfoot with little effort.

His eyes scope out the area again, conflicted and terrified – there’s no one nearby that he can ask for help from, and he doubt’s he could take the robot on himself, even if his quirk were more battle-oriented. The robot’s getting closer and the boy is only now stopping to notice that the ground is moving wildly beneath him.

(He’ll hate how stupid he was about this.)

Izuku doesn’t even remember telling himself to stop, that logically speaking, UA isn’t negligent or reckless enough to let a robot crush a potential student, no matter how rigorous and dicey their entrance exams appear to be. He just...ran forward and tackled the boy into the adjacent empty building, dust and darkness falling over them both as they went tumbling across the ground and the giant treads smashed through the front half they were luckily not anywhere near. It was deafening and terrible and all he could do was press both their heads down and pray as the building shook and the windows in front of them imploded on impact with the tremors.

Izuku laid there for what felt like forever, covered in cement flakes and drywall dust and glass and a cold naked fear that hardened his limbs and kept him there shaking and crying as he flails against the weight that’s dragging him down down down...

You’re fine you’re fine everything’s fine you’re okay you’re not there stop being pathetic you’re fine stop it...

It feels like it drags on for hours as he warbles his way back to reality, but it’s only after a blink or two that he’s back in the artificial city, and hears that fateful buzzer ring.

 


 

It’s only a week later that he finally gets the letter from UA.

His mother nearly falls over herself to deliver the envelope, eyes and words bright with the same anticipation that Izuku was doing his best to keep fastened down as he took it to his room, promising to tell her the results before locking the door behind him.

The inside is not a letter, but a thick metal disk and instructions explaining how to turn it on. He sets it on his desk, fiddles with a few buttons, and watch it blink to life.

His hands clench at the sight of All Might appearing digitally from the display, dressed in a rather blinding yellow striped suit.

(Even though it was a hologram, the bitterness of the memory held fast.)

[“Greetings young Midoriya!”] He grins, waving nonchalantly at the boy he had only encountered months ago as if they were old friends. [“I am here as a projection! I bet you’re pretty shocked to see the number one hero speaking directly to you, and probably a little confused. You see – I’ll be joining UA’s faculty this year, so they put me in charge of delivering the news for incoming students!”]

Izuku hums thoughtfully as All Might spoke on about how he was sorry for surprising him and that he needed to keep his new job under wraps – which was strange, because you’d think UA would be singing from the rooftops that they had the number one hero coming to their school as a teacher, especially since something like that was bound to increase their already high pedigree. Not to mention that something like that would (and should) be near impossible to keep a secret for too long. All Might had (likely) been in Mutsutafu for months, yet not even the darkest deepweb forums had spoken about it or given any hint they had a clue about any rumored sighting being related to a potential teaching job.

In fact, no one seemed to even know he was here at all. While he was still spotted doing patrols and the like, no one really mentioned him frequenting the area enough to be suspicious or make not of it. It was like the man had vanished into the city’s shadow, only choosing now to reappear and assure the world he was still alive.

“...is that why the police told me they wanted to keep news about the slime quirk user limited.” He mumbles, spiraling so deep into insurmountable theories that he almost missed the hologrammed hero finally moving on to the real purpose of the message

[“But enough about that, let’s go over your scores! On the written portion, you managed to score rather high, ranking 9 in the top 10 students for the section – an excellent job and a good show of intelligence! You definitely made an impression on the graders!”]

Izuku blinked, staring blankly at the hologram as he tried digesting the information. He had been so stressed over his physical exam he hadn’t even thought about how his paper exam was being graded. He mostly just wanted to get a high enough grade to make the cut off and avoid losing his spot because of it. There had been so much emphasis on the second half more than the first anyway that it had practically slipped his mind. He hadn’t known anything about UA ranking their test scores, let alone considered he’d get placed in the top 10 spot!

[“Now, for the physical exam,”] He stiffens at the mention, ears perked and eyes widened. He had known how badly he had done during the second half, failing to destroy a single robot and getting himself trapped in one of the destroyed buildings near the end before he could even look for more robots to earn points from (They sat there for what seemed like forever after the buzzer, Izuku completely shellshocked and the blonde boy with him mumbling nonsensically(his words equally scrambled), until a few students came by with Recovery Girl to help get them out of the damaged building). While Izuku didn’t regret stopping to help the other boy (and even if he got the chance to redo it he’d probably do the same thing all over again), a small frustrated part of him still felt he could have still done something, grasp one remaining thread left over that could have earned him a chance to get his foot in the door.

But the time had passed, and now he was about to receive judgement for his actions.

[“While it’s true you didn’t earn any villain points at all during the entire exam,”] All Might bluntly states, causing the boy to unconsciously flinch. [“There were other things from the exam the screening panel was looking out for asides from raw strength.”]

The projection of All Might phases out, changing into an overhead video of the testing grounds – and right in the corner was Izuku, looking like a goddamn lunatic as he ran towards the blonde boy whom he ended up tackling into the building.

[“You see,”] All Might begins as his image returns, tone remaining surprisingly upbeat [“There is another set of scoring criteria used alongside the villain bots, completely unknown to the students, known as “Rescue Points”! Part of a heroes job is to help those in need and bravely risking their lives for others, and we look for that same sort of valiant altruism in our students, awarding them additional points for assisting fellow examinees and rescuing those in peril.”]

The hero’s projects pauses for dramatic effect, rubbing the bridge of his nose and humming approvingly [“You yourself showcased such attitude in saving this young man from the Zero-pointer with your quick thinking, though it seems he doesn’t really remember you assisting him...In any case, you earned about 5 rescue points for that amazing show a bravery!”]

He leans back, breathing stilled and eyes watering slightly. Something warm and bright blooms in his chest and begins to spread. This whole week he had despaired over failing to score anything during the exam, angry at himself, at the circumstances. Feeling he had wasted his one chance at showing his childhood dream was more than silly, childish talk. But now he learns he was unknowing given another chance to prove himself, and succeeded. He earned points, he had gotten noticed, he had helped that boy (despite how ridiculously close to death he had almost put the both of them anyway)...

His stupid, reckless stunt had meant somethin-

[“Unfortunately,”] All Might cuts in somberly, stomping down the blooming joy with his next words, [“Amazing as your actions were, it was not enough to qualify for our heroics course. In the end, your inability to defeat any of the test robots made it clear Heroics and the sole five point you earned did not meet the school’s requirements. However, because of your excellent test grades and how well you did in the written exam...”]

Izuku doesn’t hear the rest of the message.

Doesn’t hear that he’s getting dropped into General Education because of his test scores.

Doesn’t hear about all the wonderful opportunities the section will provide himself.

Doesn’t hear how he did his best, that he showed promise, and that it was such a shame he hadn’t made the cut.

(Doesn’t hear All Might, smile disgustingly melancholic and kind, whisper lowly [“I’m sorry, Young Midoriya.”])

[“You’ll receive your uniform come next January, along with your class assignment,”] the hero finishes, giving a farewell salute, [“Congratulations young Midoriya, and welcome to UA!”]

The disk beeps twice and shuts off. Izuku picks it up and rises from his chair, staring at the device like All Might will pop up again and tell him it was a joke, that he is going to be part of UA’s heroics department, that he didn’t waste an entire week stressing and panicking (having nightmares about never being found, buried under rubble and his heavy cold fear, or of not making it in time and watching that boy crush like a grape, only for himself to be flattened next with no one coming to his aid either) just to be told he had lost before he even tried.

That he didn’t hand him his one small hope just to see them crush it to dust while he sat watching it fall apart.

(All Might stands before him near the mouth of the tunnel, grin strained as he quickly spewed out false hope to a desperate child that neither believed.)

He almost throws the projector in his frustration and grief, desperate to see it, the All Might hologram, and it’s horrible message all smash into a million little pieces that would never come back together.

(“I’m sorry, Izukkun Young Midoriya.”)

But instead he collapses to the ground, heart shattering at the realization that all those months of hard work and training and suppressing have been for nothing.

“It’s not fair.” he whimpers on the floor, curling into himself and clenching the device so tightly he was certain it was cracking under his grip. “It’s not fair...”

 


 

All across Japan, various children clung to their parents in despair and disappointment, drowned in bitter tears of misery as their dreams died with nothing more that an apology and a golden smile.

(It’s not fair.)

 


 

Inko silently shakes as she looks at the scene in her living room.

Izuku is siting in the living room, reading over a rather thick looking book (Inko can only see part of the title – something about Quirk Sequences?) while curled up on the couch.

Normally, such a sight wouldn’t be concerning. She has rather fond memories of Izuku doing similar when he was younger, eagerly going through the books in the house and coming up to her or Hisashi when he had trouble reading a word or needing help reaching one from the higher shelves.

None of the books around him are ones they own, and they’re all vastly different subjects – sewing, fencing, geology, music history, magicians, chemistry, quirk biology, biographies, autobiographies, historical records, encyclopedias, movie analysis, too many to even count! If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought her son had cleaned out an entire library of it’s stock.

“I-izukkun.” She calls softly, and Izuku’s head snaps up, eyes settling from their sudden panic to an obviously practiced neutrality.

(It’s be reassuring, make her believe she was imagining it all, if he wasn’t still flipping through the pages while his eyes were on her)

“Oh, do you need something?”

She knows the answer, but asks the question anyways. “A-are you studying for something?”

He flips to the next page unseeingly, “No.”

"Oh." Is all she can manage to say, and Izuku returns his attention to the book in front of him. She’s certain he doesn’t notice or care that he’d lost his place already.

Ask him, she hisses at herself Something’s wrong. This isn’t right, this isn’t normal! He’s hiding something, you need to ask him what’s wrong!

She tries to ask again, to get his attention, but her throat becomes paralyzed, trembles at the idea (He's staring at her, heartbroken, like the entire world is falling apart and she has no clue how to put it back together for him) I can't I can't I can't do this I'm sorry-

You have to!

But some frustrated and hopeful part of her threw itself forward, and pushed the real question locked in her heart to center stage.

“Then why?”

Izuku freezes, nearly drops the book in seems like shock but is far too deep and desperate to be close to it.

(She’ll never forget it – that frightened, lost look her son gave her before finally answering her)

“I just...wanted to give myself something to keep busy.”

 


 

Inko Midoriya falls asleep to the memory of sitting across from her son’s bedroom door, listening mournfully as his desperate wails echo through the halls. She rushes to get in, to save her baby from his despair.

She reaches for the handle-

I hate you.”

(But the door vanishes the moment she reaches for it and she wakes in tears, grasping at the empty air.)

 


 

 

(Izuku wakes up from a dream of sad doubting eyes and being forgotten under a tomb of cement and broken metal, silently reaching out for help that never comes.

He ends up owing the library 2,680 yen for not returning the books he borrowed back in time)

 

Chapter Text

Izuku is a person who can happily say to anyone who asks that his classmates don’t hate him.

Or at leas his classmates this year don't. They are mostly transparent when it comes to interacting with him, as they seem to be somewhat understand that he does notice when they try to softball him – mentally or otherwise. It’s why they always greet him when they see him in the hall, always try to be engaged when he’s talking, always try to be polite and courteous towards him

“I didn’t pass. I ended up the in the General Education course.”

So when his teacher announces to the class that both he and Katsuki had made it into UA and their classmates whoop and holler and gather around him during lunch to be regaled in his tale of passing the UA entrance exams, Izuku decides ripping the bandaid off himself is the more kinder thing to do than slowly wait it out and let his wounded pride fester. They’re all aware he wanted into Heroics, all aware how passionate he was about heroes, already knew how crushed he would be not being able to pass like he hoped. They were transparent with him most of the year, so he owed them the same courtesy.

Everyone responds as he expects they would

“Hey, don't feel too bad, I didn't make the heroics course of my first choice either.”

Knew it

Didn’t make it.

Not surprised

“Well that suck. But hey, look on the bright side – you still got into UA! That’s something!”

Didn’t stand a chance

Thought you might though

Such a shame

Really sorry

“That’s unfortunate, Midoriya-san. I really hope you do well in General Education.”

Too bad

But you tried

Still rooting for you

Izuku is a person who can happily say to anyone who asks that his classmates don’t hate him.

It’s why he almost never heard them ridicule him when he said he wanted to be a hero, never heard them question if he could make it when he said he wanted to go to UA – The fact that he wanted to be in heroics that badly was crystal clear to anyone who talked to him for a minute, and they all certainly believed that he was determined to do it (Few even took his sincerity to heart and applied it to their own goals).

But did they believe he could make it into the heroics course? Through a test with a 5 out of eighty-thousand student acceptance rate? Against thousands of other kids who had stronger quirks than Mind-Reader? Awkward as the relationship was at times, his classmates were never cruel enough to give him that sort of crushing false hope.

(They were always so careful to say, "You'll definitely make it into UA" when he brought it up. Not a word was ever uttered on his chance on making it into the Heroics department)

So they never ridiculed him when he said he wanted to be a hero, and never questioned if he could make it to UA, because the answer was obvious to everyone, and they felt no issue in supporting him to get to the answer with them.

"Th-thank you!" He mumbles, teeth clattering as he forced his mouth into a wide grin "I promise, I'll do my best!"

And they all smile and grin with him as they think about how great it is Izuku's being so understanding, that they're relieved he's not more upset, that it's wonderful he's being so accepting.

And he smiles and grins with them, because what else can he do? What offense could he take against them for a lie he willfully participated in (Because he should have notice, been made obviously aware the moment he told them his first choice was UA. Only deliberate ignorance could explain the shock he was supposed to feel seeing how little faith his classmates really had not being there)

In the end, they were just trying to be kind, because they knew he was going to fail long before he did.

(and knowing is suppose to make it hurt less, right?)

 


 

Inko Midoriya wanders her living room, waiting for her son to arrive home from his trip to school. It’s nothing really bad, just the teachers wanting to talk to him about his attending UA next year. They sounded quite excited about it on the phone, told her that they’d have him home by the afternoon and that she should be proud.

And she was proud, really, she was! How many mothers can say their child is attending the top ranked hero school? How many can say that their child got ninth place in the written exams? How often do you get to brag tell you former friends you ran into at the market how your own son is going to be at the same academy that the Symbol of Peace himself attended and was going to be a teacher at soon, as they gleefully stare at you with palatable jealousy pretend they didn’t once choose to ignore you on sight for so long that you’re only talking on coincidence alone. It’d be a disservice not to be happy about his accomplishments! After all, he –

(Izuku finally drags himself out of his room the next morning, puffy-eyed and shaking. He looks as though he spent the whole night crying rather than sleeping, like he’ll collapse with a simple touch.

Inko knows what happened, knows the reason why he looks so disheveled – but still she offers him breakfast and a bleak smile, because that’s all she has the courage to do, too frightened that if she asks, what’s left of her son will crumble to dust and flit out of her hands.)

Yes, Inko is very proud of her son.

So she’s decided to keep herself occupied by throwing herself into a conversation that needed to happen weeks ago but she wasn’t sure if either was strong enough to handle it’s weight.

“So things are going well over there?” Hisashi asks, his curious voice dragging the stout woman back into their current conversation.

“Absolutely peachy!” Inko chirps with forced cheer and a strained smile both know can’t be seen but in it comes anyway. It was mostly for Izuku’s benefit, on the off chance he wandered in and caught her off guard. She knows she’s not doing anything too wrong, but...Izuku had enough to worry about as it was. She didn’t want him to see her talking with his father on the phone and thinking something bad was happening (to know he was being discussed). “Izuku's keeping up with his grades and his teachers haven't made any complaints. Nothing really much to worry about except waiting for his graduation next month and getting ready for the new school after."

"Everything's already set?"

"They sent his uniform last month and already planned out when to take him school supply shopping, now we just have to save the date!”

There’s the sound of something being moved in the background (A glass?) before he responded, “Just a month left huh? That’s...so soon.”

“I know! It’s like they’re in a rush to get him out the door as soon as possible!” She says, false smile slowly coming apart, “It’s almost feels like no time’s gone by at all.”

It honestly did feel like that sometimes. The entrance exam period had come and gone so quickly and Inko was so busy trying to make sure there was no repeat of last time (actually making sure that Izuku ate, vaguely commenting about next day errands when she realized he was nearly an hour passed his usual bedtime, going by his room constantly and actually forcing herself to knock when things got too quiet) that when she did finally find the time to let herself breath, the year had ended and February was already halfway done.

“You’re telling me! I still can’t believe he’s already about to start high school!” Hisashi huffs comically, chuckles near drowning out the sound of liquid being poured into something (he’s drinking. It’s still early morning where he is though...) “Seemed like just yesterday he was asking me what two plus two was, now he’s getting ready to attend one of the top schools in the country! It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it.”

Inko sighs, twisting a hand through her hair “Sometimes I still can’t believe it myself.” She admitted, leaning back into the sofa, “A few of my friends are still sending letters left and right congratulating him, and I get stopped on the street during errands almost all the time now! I’m worried I might need to start disguising myself every time I need to go grocery shopping!”

That actually manages to get a genuine laugh out of him, “I know the feeling, every time my boss brings in new clients he introduce me as “the guy with the kid who passed the UA exams”! You’d almost think with the way he gets all excited to say it that it was his kid going!”

Inko giggles in response, mood slowly lifting. “Honestly, I’m surprised the media hasn’t broken down the doors yet. I thought Mitsuki was exaggerating about all the attention she and Masaru were getting because of Katsuki getting in, but...”

The discussion continued on from there, the two humorously chatting about their sudden shift to faux-celebrity status thanks to Izuku. Then they moved on to how their day had been to how their friends were doing to what their plans would be like to about any silly little thing they can come up with.

It was honestly somewhat refreshing, really. Conversations like this with Hisashi felt so...rare now-a-days. She remembers the time when they used to talk more, spent every moment they could conferencing and mailing and getting every single precious second in. She’d sit a bouncy Izuku in her lap and they’d lose the time talking to her husband and hearing about how he was handling himself and how much he missed them.

But the years passed and those opportunities dwindled at some point – His job kept him so busy, and she was always so focused on Izuku and maintaining the house. They tried to keep things consistent, had him find ways to make contact over the holidays and his vacations, but there always seemed to be something that got in the way or forced him to put it off. Then things slowed; gaps appeared in conversations, visits got shorter and calls got missed or put on voicemail. He always apologized though, and they never complained about it, even if she can’t even remember the last time he made a video call to them, or sent a postcard from his latest meeting destination, or even popped in on them just to surprise them with a hello...

(Like no time was passing at all)

So being able to talk like this, even over something as silly as comparing lemon prices, was so nice and enjoyable. They never just talked to talk much these days It made her wish this light, bouncy mood could last forever.

You have to tell him.

“S-speaking of Izuku,” She says, forcefully swallowing the lump that settled in her throat “We,um, really should talk about his...situation.”

“...Ah, of course.” Hisashi answered slowly, seriousness bleeding into his mirthful tone, “Is he still upset? You know, about...”

“Oh, u-um,” Inko stammers, grip on the phone tightening as she bites her lip and tries to settle on an appropriate response. “Well, he’s...he’s...”

(Izuku is passed out on the living room couch, dozing away with a book in his lap. Inko found it endearing, the way he looked so at peace. It feels like Izuku spends almost all his free-time on his feet, studying and running and writing in his notebooks, so seeing him asleep so soundly was rather…adorable.

Then she saw the mountains of books (the ones that was steadily growing larger as the days passed, the ones the library kept calling about, threatening to cancel his card over) and the image lost it’s sweetness immediately.)

“He’s getting used to the idea.”

Hisashi’s chair lets out a stiff grunt “That’s...good,” Her husband responds dimly, forced cheer just as evident, “It’s good he’s doing that. It makes me sick I couldn’t talk with him more after hearing he got rejected for heroics, but I'm happy to hear he’s starting to cheer up a bit.”

She doesn’t reply right away, focused on forcing life back though that weakened joy she had grasped moments ago as her eyes fall onto the family portrait from Izuku’s fourth birthday (It’s the few they have where’s he’s smiling so brightly, all teeth and good cheer like he’s ready to take on the whole world with a smile...) “He is! He was...upset about it for a bit, but it really seems like he’s feeling better now – He's started getting more focused on his studies lately, and began taking walks around the neighborhood. And he doesn’t suddenly turn the television off when the news comes on about All Might either! He’s even finally started going over those brochures UA sent him after his letter came!”

She doesn’t tell him about how resigned her looked while reading them, about how she caught him nearly tear out the pages on heroics in frustration, about how both pretended she didn't hear the stiffed sobbing come from him when she went to check on him

“Great!" She hears him reply "That mean’s he must be at least thinking his options through.”

Inko nods, feeling the smiling four-year old’s stare burn into her scalp as she turned away “I’m just happy he’s doing something. I got so worried when just spent the whole week after the exams cooped up in the house, so it’s nice to see him trying to keep himself busy...”

“Of course he is – he’s our kid after all!” Hisashi laughs, a bittersweet undertone tinging his voice “Something like this won’t keep Izu down for long. I know how much he wanted to be in the heroics program, but there’s a lot of opportunities to be had in general education, especially at a school like UA! He’s bound to find something else to focus on and make it work for him.”

She bites her lip, unsure if she should voice disagreement or not. He wasn’t wrong, general education wasn’t all that bad a place to start off in, especially for a child like Izuku. She certainly didn't regret choosing it, even when it meant losing most of her middle school friends who had their eyes set on more loftier goals (in more ways than she could imagine back then). Painful as it would be to admit, he could definitely find plenty of other careers to work towards aside from heroing. It honestly seemed more efficient (and safer) for him to just take what he had gotten and aim for where he had better options better chances

(But still...)

.

.

.

I got placed into General Education”

Inko stares carefully at her son, mug gripped tentatively as she struggles to settle her thoughts, unsure what she can say - what she should say.

She feels awful that he failed, sees the unfairness of it after seeing how hard her son’s been working. Izuku’s has wanted to become a hero for such a long time, spent all this time putting in the extra studying and exercising. He even managed to ask her if she could make adjustments in his meals to help with his work out regime. To tell him all that hard work meant so little would be the worst things she could do as a mother. Inko understood better than most (better than she let on) that there were so few opportunities out there in a world like theirs for her son to get another chance like this!

But...

(Mom, can I become a hero now?)

But...maybe that isn’t a bad thing? Maybe now Izuku doesn’t have to push himself like this anymore. Maybe now he won’t have to come home half-dead on his feet with bruised knees and scrapped palms, bumping into furniture and nearly cutting his fingers on kitchen forks. Maybe now Izuku won’t have to look sheepish as she lets another call from the library go straight to voicemail. Maybe now he won’t have to come up with half-baked excuses they both know aren’t true to explain away sudden dark eyes and leftover tears. Maybe now schools won't be telling her “There was a small accident during the exam” when her son returns home with a thousand yard stare and no one has any satisfactory answers for why.

(Maybe now, when Izuku goes out and Inko hears the phone ring, she won’t pick it up thinking it’s the police again - thinking they’re calling to say they came too late this time, that her son is gone and it’s all her fault she should have said something)

Maybe, just maybe…

The sound of the chair scraping back is all the warning Inko gets too late that she waited too long, lingered too much in her mind, allowed something to slip you did it again

By the time Inko can settle on an response, Izuku has already left back for his room, slamming to door shut.

 


 

Conversations as lively as this were rare in the house, and Hisashi was always so busy they hardly ever had time to talk at all. He worries so much about being over seas making him so removed from Izuku’s life, hated that he couldn’t be there for him like he wanted. The last thing she should be doing was burdening him with more of that sort of thing.

“...Y-you’re absolutely right!” Inko stammers nervously, fiddling with her shirt sleeve. “Our Izukkun’s a bright boy – he wouldn’t have gotten into the school if they hadn’t noticed that! And-and I did hear UA produces a lot of good businessmen and researchers alongside heroes. He might not think it now but...b-but I’m sure he’ll realize this will be good for him!”

She can practically hear her husband bouncing on the other end of the line, “Exactly! The kid got ninth place on the written for a reason! Why I bet by the end of his first year, he’ll have those egg-heads at UA eating out of the palm of his hand!.”

Inko smiles, pushing down the nausea that was building in her as they spoke of all the other opportunities Izuku could take, of the wonderful future in store for him now that Heroics was off the table. It felt easy, it felt soothing, it felt – it felt...felt like-

(You did it again...)

Things will be fine. Izuku is going to attend UA, his dream school! He was going to have all sorts of amazing opportunities for a good career and a stable, brilliant future!

Was it that wrong she felt they should be focusing on that, because isn’t that something to celebrate? To hold in such high esteem?

Wasn’t it a good thing, to look towards the future (however painful it would be) with a smile?

 


 

It was an an hour and a half after their final end of term meeting began, and Izuku found himself sitting uncomfortably in the principal’s office alongside Katsuki, chair cushions feeling like spikes in his backside. They had been called into the principal’s office so the principal and their homeroom teacher could “personally” congratulate them both on passing UA’s entrance exam – and by that he meant they were called over so the principal and their teacher could fawn over Katsuki’s success and pat themselves on the back for helping such an amazing student bring such high prestige to their school by entering UA’s famous heroics department while Izuku was just there to be window dressing with the quiet yet quick acknowledgement that he even passed in the first place.

“I must say, to think one of our students would be accepted into UA’s heroics program – and ranking first in the entrance exam to boot!” The principal smiles as he shook Katsuki’s hands “Congratulations Bakugou-san, we’re all so proud of you!”

Their homeroom teacher nods agreeably with the older man and matches his enthusiastic grin, “I’ve always knew Bakugou-san would get into UA! He's always been such a hardworking and dedicated student, and so talented too! It was only a matter of time before someone noticed the same great potential I had...”

“Of course, of course. With his quirk and prowess, the boy’s sure to make a name for himself!” He croons in response, beaming so bright it nearly outshines his thoughts. “I see a bright future ahead of you young man. We’re all looking forward to hearing of your future success!”

Katsuki makes no effort to acknowledge to the praise directly because of course he won’t – he’s Katsuki Bakugou after all! Only an idiot would be surprised that he succeeded! It’s only natural they’d only focus on such a perfect, obvious achievement!

Izuku stops himself from loudly clicking his tongue out of distaste. He tries to tell himself it can’t be helped, that they weren’t meaning to be  dismissive. Katsuki taking first place is beyond amazing – UA’s Heroics Department had a low acceptance rate for a reason, and Katsuki went and succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations by making the cut anyway. It’s a given the adults would be ecstatic seeing someone with such an impressive quirk not only get the attention of the top hero school of Japan, but also ended up the top of the incoming freshman for the course (he had near beaten Endevour’s own record and earned highest score after him and All Might). After all, they’ve been saying for years that he was a perfect fit for UA, and now they were seeing their golden goose finally come home to roost for them at last! Katsuki was going to a hero – become the stuff of legends! It’s always important to see such a rite of passage come to be.

Meanwhile Izuku’s own admittance to UA was a rather humdrum affair. Sure, UA was the number one school and their General Education program might have been impressive on paper, but in the end it was still just General Education. Every hero school had one and with it came students who either went into it by choice or by virtue of not making the cut for the other programs. No one ever asks about their futures, because everyone already knows what going to happen to them, just as they knew what was going to happen to him: He’d go to UA, vanish into the crowd of millions like him in the General Education course, and then graduate and vanish yet again into the sea of society through whatever job or college he’d settle for. It was a story too lackluster in it’s ordinariness, and no one felt the need to repeat what they’re already certain he's heard before.  Izuku's story was just of many about everyday students continuing to be as they were that distracted them from the masterful epic of Katsuki Bakugou being weaved in front of them! Heroes may come and go, but in the end, a rising star’s success story was a far more interesting thing to talk about than focusing on yet another child on his way to becoming another face in the crowd.

Of course, neither adult says this out loud – What sort of educators would they be if they told a student their achievements were lesser than their peers? That they had seen his future already (and will likely see it again in another future, in another’s face), and decided it so unremarkable that it was of no consequence to anyone to not even comment on it. Why, it’s practically unheard of!

(Which is why they’re so quick to change their trains of thought the moment they finally do notice Izuku looking their way)

“A-and a good job to you, Midoriya-san.” the principal stutters while their teacher adjusts his glasses nervously, “I hear UA’s general education department is said to be quite high end, with many diligent proheroes on staff to work with regular students in their educational pursuits. You’re very lucky to have received such a grand opportunity despite the circumstances!”

It’s a hollow gesture, said more out of obligation that sincerity. They don’t really think he’s lucky to have made it in, at least not in the way one gets aiming for a school like UA (He hadn't considered any other schools, hadn't even considered failing. Anywhere else would have probably booted him for not meeting their heroic’s benchmark, even the more low-standard hero schools, but UA decided it’d be worth keeping him on anyway. His score on the written alone was the only thing that stopped him from falling all the way off to the wayside - and he had stupidly, foolishly, arrogantly looked it over back them, thinking the practical would be his saving grace), but they say it anyway because they have to as his teachers and as authority figures. Because it wasn't their job to believe in him or the words they were told to say - just to say them and hope for the best afterwards.

Just like it was his job to smile and accept the false accolades, because he had to as a student and future graduate, his own regrets be damned.

So he swallows his bitterness down and nods as he forces a painful ill-placed grin across his face

“Thank you sir, I’m honestly still amazed I’m even getting a chance like this. I’m...” He pauses again, pushes the disappointment and bile building in his throat “I’m really looking forward to being in the general education program.”

Katsuki eyes him for that, but ultimately says nothing.

.

.

.

A few more throw away compliments and they’re finally allowed to leave, Katsuki stomping ahead while Izuku is left behind to walk awkwardly in stride with their teacher, neither really trying to look the other in the eye (Izuku out of desperation not to see and his teacher out of desperation not be be seen).

He’s half way there when the man finally speaks.

“...Y-you know, Midoriya-san,” he says hesitantly, as though he was worried his tone wasn’t sincere enough, “UA general education courses are considered very, well, prestigious. Managing to graduate from there is certain to set you up for many opportunities later in life. You...you did well to get in, even unintentionally.”

It hurts. Izuku can see he's trying to mean well, see he probably hadn’t mean for it to come out so backhandedly (“Unintentionally”, like it’s all a happy accident, like he got picked for a raffle without putting his ticket in), but it still hurts to hear these words said so cheerfully to him – that he’s supposed to be happy hearing them and forget his childhood dream of ten years has just been –

([“I’m sorry, Young Midoriya.”])

So he forces another smile and a quiet “Thank you Sensei.”, and lets the bitter realization that his teacher's relieved he's "thinking more objectively now" sink to the pitch black bottom with all the other truths he's been made all too privy to see.

(And he tells himself it can't be helped because of his quirk that he can't let himself pretend he doesn't notice)

 


 

Katsuki doesn't waste any time shouldering passed him once they're outside, thoughts blinking and sparking with irritation and confusion as he glared at him from his peripheral

Don’t Understand

Like at apartment

Won’t fight

Stop messing with me

Won’t let you

"If you have something to stay, just spit it out already." He hissed, and the blond actual stops to stare at him, palms bursting with restrained fire and spark that was desperate for it's favorite kindling. Izuku was certain there were enough teachers on campus to keep Katsuki from turning this into a full-on rampage, but that never stopped him (or them) before either.

It was stupid, trying to pick a fight both knew was pointless and too huge of risk for either of them to engage in (The term might have been ending, but that didn't mean either could get away with anything that would be put on their permanent records, though hero courses tended to be more strict on this type of behavior then general studies). It's stupid and worthless and it's not going to change anything for him but Izuku's skin has started to thrum and his neck feels itchy and he can still feel the prodding from the sofa and the nervous staring and hoping he's saying the right thing while they hope the same that he's happy see Midoriya we're agreeing with you you can see us thinking the same thing you are so that means you should be happy but he didn't want to be happy he wanted to be angry he wanted to scream I want Katsuki to start bragging or yelling why hasn't he said anything why isn't he insulting him telling him he was right he's a Deku and always will be stop staring at him like that and look at me look at me Kacchan what did I do wrong-

They meet each other's eyes, and in a startling upset and sobering minute, Katsuki lowered his hand.

“...This is a fucking waste of time.” was all Izuku could hear under gritted teeth and burnt rage before Katsuki turned his back on him.

As always

You’re fucking pathetic.

Don't know why I bothered...

 


 

He somehow ends up in front of the restaurant again.

He doesn’t remember wanting to head there after he recovered, or even considering it a destination. But he doesn’t want to go home now, not after-

(You're fucking pathetic)

He just... wanted time to himself, and a walk seemed to be the perfect option. Just a simple mindless stroll to get his mind away from everything that was buzzing around in his head and under his skin.

He didn’t even realize where he was until the door opened and he literally runs into the mint-eyed girl from before

He opens his mouth to usher a quick apology, put she holds up a hand to stop him.

“Just get in. You’ve been circling the front for about 20 minutes now and it’s making some of the others antsy.” She says, leading a now flustered Izuku into the building. There are more people inside than he expects, all excitedly chatting away as their words light up the somewhat dim atmosphere. Guess he managed to show up during business hours this time.

“Didn’t expect to see you again.” The girl says, gentle navigating them between the tables

“M-me either.” He stutters,  “T-thank you, um...”

He then realizes he has no idea what her name is. She wasn’t wearing a name tag either, leaving him staring at her very awkwardly while he tried to figure out the politest way to ask her.

Brunette girl notices and smiles slightly, words flashing above her with mirth “It’s Yasumi, and don’t worry about it. Like I said, you aren’t the first.”

Izuku nods slowly, taking in more of the scenery. Now that he was a bit calmer, he can actually get a better look at the place. It still has that weird “one-of-everything” feel, with each aspect clashing with each other in a comedic struggle for supremacy, and most of the patrons being in simple casual-wear just added to the conflict (the place seemed more of a formal setting what with it’s color-scheme). However, the sight of people engaging in cheerful small talk actually adds a bit of odd charm to the whole thing.

The woman from before is there too, sitting on a small platform with a guitar and speakers. She seemed rather focused on the instrument, chords and timings and lyrics effortlessly flashing over her head as her fingers flew over the strings.

“She’s really good” He mumbled, eyes flying between her strumming and her thoughts.

The girl Yasumi nodded, smile growing “She said picked it up around my age for fun, but I definitely think she was aiming to be pro. She’s pretty possessive of it though – doesn’t even let any of us touch it during clean up.”

He hums curiously, giving the sight one last look before they moved on.

Izuku is seated at a table in the far corner by himself. Yasumi walks off for a bit and then returns with a cup of water and a menu, leaving before he can try and tell her he isn’t sure if he can afford any of the food here (or at least do so and still have money left over for trainfare).

(Besides, the punch from Katsuki didn’t really make eating seem like an appealing option at the moment.)

Everything seems so quiet now and a few people have turned to looked his way for a bit but it looks like they’re just curious why he’s here by himself and he can understand how odd that must look to them for a middle school to show up at a place like this (?) in the late afternoon with no chaperone or parent (actually, another look showed that there were really no other younger people there save Yasumi and maybe a few of the other waiters and waitresses) and seeming to at least be casually acquainted with one of the staff members well enough but that’s nothing too suspicious right he’s been in the area on runs they said he was a common occurrence so why does it feel like everyone’s staring trying to figure him out trying to see how quickly they can pick him apart bit by bit-

The buzzing seems to be trying for a round two, so Izuku takes out his notebook and starts writing because that’s the only thing he can think of to focus away from the sudden needling and that still present nausea. There’s a few he needs to update and fix anyway, mostly the ones he left as skeleton pages during the last week before the entrance exam and the ones he realized he missed during his five day reclusive-episode. He flips it open to the page on the hero Edgeshot – there was an old forum discussion that questioned if his quirk could make him capable of surviving getting put under a power presser, and a recent interview had put some credence to the idea.

His pencil hits the paper and he gets to theorizing.

.

.

.

“The heck is that kid’s deal?”

Yasumi turns to their busboy who has stopped picking up plates to join her in watching the green haired boy she’d let in scrawling at his table – mumbling up a storm and looking damn near possessed as he scrolled over the pages with a sudden unexplained fervor. He only ever stopped to either make a new mark or mull over a part of the page every now and then, and hadn’t even touched his his complimentary water since it was placed before him.

She simply shrugs, “Don’t know. Looks like homework maybe?”

“Does he know this isn’t a library?” He asks, to which Yasumi snorts childishly

“No rule against it, and he’s hardly the only one.” she says, pointing out a few of the customers who have files out or are exchanging papers. It got troublesome with serving orders, but was a common enough accordance in the shop that the other employees eventually learned to ignore it, especially since they didn’t really want to get into it with the customers. They only really commented if it was disturbing everyone else (Which didn’t seem to be happening, even if their more introverted patrons had stopped their seclusive whispering to watch the boy work).

The busboy concedes with a nod, “Fair enough.” He then looks over as the boy nearly knocks his glass over trying to rush writing something down. “Still, he should order something – He’s been here nearly an hour and I don’t think I’ve seen him stop to even breath.”

Yasumi doesn’t quip back, just lets her gaze move to his rather frenzied pencil movements. The kid had looked a little frazzled when she brought him in – not as much so as when he came in the first time, but still not looking all that good. She had considered using her quirk to help settle him down like last time but…

(“You’re supposed to help me Yasumi!”)

“He probably just really focused on what he’s doing.” She offers, relaxing herself a bit when she realized her tone had come off a bit more stiff than intended “I’ll go up to him again later and see if he wants to order.”

The busboy makes no response, so Yasumi returns to staring at the kid at he pulls at his bottom lip, trying very hard not to immediately recognize the look of stress-chewed nails.

He was right – this wasn’t a library, or a hostel for that matter. Whatever problems the kid was having wasn’t her business or place to pry into...

But the bags under his eyes look way too dark to be fresh though, and his uniform looks more like it’s wearing him than the other way around. Honestly, it had shocked her no one had stopped him before while he was wandering around outside like that!

“Oi.”

Both bristled before turning to see their manager staring them down, dark eyes narrowed. “If you two have time to fucking jaw like this, then maybe get going on waiting and cleaning the tables like you’re supposed to.”

Both straightened up immediately before giving a quick salute and rushing off.

“Righty-o bossman!”

“Sorry, sorry.”

The two rush back out onto the floor, eyes lingering on the mumbling greenhaired boy one last time.

...Maybe she should send one of the others his way, just in case. Point out the cheaper stuff so he doesn’t worry too much about spending anything.

 


 

Izuku doesn’t remember how many hero pages he’s go through, but he does know he’s somehow started a new page without realizing it. At some point he ran out of edits to make and just kept going the pages to find something to fix, something to go over, something to improve, something -

A foreign finger taps the table and the spell is broken, allowing Izuku to escape from the pages of his notes in time to see that the sky has darken quite considerable and the place is near empty save a few stragglers.

“Impressive.” A distant voice drawl, “I almost didn’t want to break your concentration to tell you we’re closing soon.”

He looks up to see it belongs to the girl Yasumi, who’s eying the page he had been rather sloppily working on alongside a taller boy with burnt red hair who is picking up his (still full) cup.

"Isn't that the one underground hero that helped out suppressing Burnout in Shimane a few months back?" The older boy asked, and Izuku's alighted nerves starting prickling with joy over the fact that someone had actually noticed when his notes were set

“I...yes. He’s apparently still getting really popular in the downtown areas, despite the rumors about him – or at least that’s what people here were saying.” He begins, turning his gaze to the leftover ring as he grips his pencil “He's not actually an underground hero though, he just doesn't get much media coverage because he tends to work lower scale, like handling shoplifters or community work. He's been mentioned a few times in newsletters, but that was about it. In fact, that battle was the first time he's gotten large-scale media coverage. Which is strange because his quirk is honestly pretty amazing though - his body apparently produces these metal plates that he can manipulate at will. They're large enough to cover several vital areas and he can soften them to change the structure and shape of his constructs,  and he can even combine shields to double their size and density. He's got good maneuverability with them, and was able to switch between defense and offense rather smoothly and multitask between containing Burnout and protecting civilians, so he's definitely used to fighting siege battles like Shimane. If I could figure out what type of metal the plates are, I'd might be able to figure out how he's able to manipulate the structure so easily"

"Wrote all that and you don't know?" Yasumi asks, and Izuku flips forward to the next page over, which is covered in crossed out names and chemicals

"Unfortunately no. I've been wracking my brain around it because I can't figure out how his is able to be compress and softened so easily even with it being part of his quirk's natural ability. All metal-production quirks have there, well, quirks - the metals created aren't completely pure, because they're being made from a human body with human chemicals that would alter the metal's own. They're close enough to share enough of the same traits as the naturally occurring equivalent, but there's a big enough difference that you can tell which is from a rock and which is from a quirk. It's actually how a lot of counterfeiter get solved now a days because there are tests to show if jewelry or metal being sold on the black market is artificially made via quirk . But this metal looks and acts like a fully, from the ground natural, from coloration to physical reactions to surface appearance, and I can't figure out how. I do know whatever metal it is is plenty dense and extremely durable, and that it has a pretty high melting-point too, which is why he managed to survive against Burnout's heat output for so long in spite of seeming to be at a disadvantage with a metal-based quirk. I've mostly narrowed it down to something in the platinoid group, but I'm not sure which one. At first I thought it was Osmium, but I realized the color was too dark and the malleability was too high even if it was a less pure version of the metal, so it definitely couldn't be it. There's also the issue of toxicity since natural Osmium oxidizes too easily and he was fighting with Aquaria Rex during the attack, so her quirk would have made his dangerous to use if her water hit them. I know it also can't be Palladium either because they were much too resilient against Burnout's punches..."

He realizes from the sudden silence that he said more on the subject than he meant to and quickly adds with a blush, “O-of course, I'd probably have to ask him myself if I wanted to know what it is! It's all just theorizing at this point.”

Yasumi blinks while the older boy hums, carefully placing the cup into plastic bin alongside some dirty dishes as his word flashing with intrigue.

High school vocabulary

Considered chemical composition

Bit all over the place though

“You got all this based on watching one fight?”

The question’s framed innocently enough but the way his thoughts sparkle make it’s true nature obvious, so Izuku nods hesitantly, forcing his voice to stay steady “I-i went to look up more online after, and I'm still ironing out some details. Like I said, it’s mostly just guesswork at this point...”

The two of them stare, thoughts blinking wildly wondering how old he was and how much had written and how did a middle schooler think about stuff like this-

("How did you know that?")

He quickly pushes himself out of his chair and starts grabbing his things, suddenly feeling sick again “I’m sorry I overstayed, I’m just going to-”

“Hold it.”

Izuku feels his heart shuddering in fear even though he’s not sure what there’s to be afraid of. The girl hadn’t done anything bad to him the first time, and her coworker didn’t seem bad (But isn’t how it always is, he think someone’s being nice to you but he’s making more of it than it is). She’s probably upset that he nearly spent the whole day here without even ordering and was now getting in the way of clean up. He’s surprised they waited so long before telling him to leave.

“I’m so-”

“Are you gonna be okay going home? It’s pretty late.”

He blinks, sudden paranoia thrown off by how...normal the question was. It was a normal question, because it was late and he was still in his school uniform so of course they’d wonder why a middle schooler was staying out on a school night of all things why was he getting so worked up over something so stupid what was wrong with him?

“No,” he says, gripping his notebook “I mean, I can send a text to let her know where I am, a-and the trains are still running...”

Yasumi stares again, words flashing with slight suspicion, and Izuku feels himself begin to squirm under her sharp gaze, shrinking and breaking and chipping away until-

"Wait right here."

Izuku watches as she shuffles off to the woman from the podium, who appears to be in the middle of packing away what's left of her equipment. They're too far to overhear, but their words flash dizzily around them as they talk. Izuku almost makes out a "Forgot to ask" before she sped right back over to them, dull eyes flickering with what he almost thought was determination as she tells herself to calm down.

“What’s your name?”

Apparently he doesn’t hide his surprised as well as he hoped, because she cuts him off at his next attempted apology – “You’re not in trouble, just want your name. Only fair since I gave you mine.”

Izuku briefly wonders if he should just give a fake name to avoid whatever consequences are attached to what’s to come next, but it sadly comes after he states “Izuku Midoriya.”

She’s quiet for a moment, as if she’s trying to digest his name and pull apart every flavor and bit of bone in the letters.

“...Come back here tomorrow.” She finally says, arms crossed over her chest “The place will be closed, but just say you know me and they’ll let you in. You can stay in the breakroom if I’m not there yet.”

Izuku doesn’t move, trying to make sure he heard her correctly while her coworker blinks owlishly at her. He’s certain there are others staring, wondering what the hell was wrong with this kid that he was standing there shooting the breeze with an employee after-hours instead of just taking his things and leaving.

Yasumi tilts her head at him slightly, “Well?”

“O-Oh, sure,” He mumbles, picking at the edge of his notebook “I, I’ll come by, if I can.”

She nods, words alight with joy that contrasted her blank face “Great, now get out of here – the train station managers clock out around this time and I think you remember my boss’s warning from last time?”

Izuku nods back, and quickly gathers his things before rushing outside, heart bursting with surprise and confusion as he stumbles down the street.

(He almost drops his his phone at the amount of missed calls and messages he had when he boards the next train. He’s honestly surprised he hadn’t even noticed any of them...)

 


 

He arrives back to the restaurant (Which he now sees is named “The Open Palm”) as soon as school let out, as promised. Unlike the day before and the last time he was there, the shades have been pulled and a small but neatly written “We’re Closed” sign is hanging on the door.

He clutches his backpack strap before quietly knocking on the door, grazing at the bottom of his lip

You’re fine you’re fine, she invited you didn’t she? That means they want you here for whatever reason and if it’s a joke then you can just go home and feel sorry for yourself being such a huge dope like aways so stop being so antsy and-

The door opens and a lanky gecko man with a tan knit-cap peaks his head out, staring at him with confusion

“Hey kid, the sign says the place is closed.” He says, pointed at the flipped over sign “There’s a cafe a few blocks east if you’re looking for someplace to chow down.”

Izuku stumbles back at the sight of the stranger, nearly forgetting the instructions given to him.

“U-um, I, ah...” He stammers, trying to stuff his heart back into his chest “I, I w-was invited by...um, someone named Yasumi. I-is she here-”

Suddenly the door pushes open and the gecko nearly stumbles over as a rather tall red haired man with slicked back spiked hair and a goatee steps up behind him. He doesn’t look at that happy to see him, if the scowl’s any indication, and the all dark clothes don’t really help either...

He regards Izuku for a moment, eyes twitching slightly as his stiff blocky words come into view

Ah

Kid Yasumi mentioned

Actually showed

“Shidaka’s in the back,” He says grouchily, then jerks his head towards the inside. “Just wait here and I’ll go get her.”

Izuku just heads in without responding, head ducked and mouth snapped shut. The man seems like he’s in a bad mood at he doesn’t want to make it worse.

“Keep an eye on him,” He grunts, and Izuku hears him stomp away before a door clicked open. Even once the foot steps truly vanish he doesn't raise his head, worried that he'd see him thinking, worried that he must had made a mistake, worried that this must have been an elaborate prank on Yasumi's part and fell for it and now he was interrupting whatever work that man and his friend was doing-

"Don't worry about Souga" Izuku nearly jolts when he realizes the geckoman was addressing him "He looks, and sounds, mean, but he’s actually a huge softy! He’s just a bit grumpy ‘cause Tamao told him to wait up here to meet ya after giving Yasumi some stuff to do.”

Izuku’s brain is still (unjustifiably(?)) on red-alert, but he manages to relax himself enough to say “I,I’m sorry, I,um, didn’t mean to interrupt...”

The man’s easy grin spreads as he casually leans against one of the tables “Nah, you’re fine! We’re still setting stuff up and Tamao’s busy moving things around downstairs for later. It’ll be a while before we actually get started.”

Izuku frowns, feeling that cold itch of guilt crawl further up his spine “Will she be okay? I-if she’s lifting anything heavy, she might need help.”

The gecko stares for a bit before laughing in response. It’s not a mean laugh, or at least intending to be, but it makes Izuku’s cheeks burn a bit shamefully for some reason.

“Knowing her, she could probably lift the whole building if she wanted!” He cackles, not even bothering to straighten up when he meets Izuku’s confused stare “She’ll be fine though. Moruyu’s with her and there’s probably not much to move anyways. Souga just gets super antsy when it comes to her during these meet ups even though she tells him not to. We've known eachother for a while so the dude tends to take the mother-henning a little too seriously sometimes, ya know? He was a lot worse with it back in the old days though.”

Izuku doesn't, and the words don't clarify things for him either-

Things different now

Tamao gotten stronger

Promised old man though

Can't be helped

He almost asks why (asks who), but sheer politeness stops him from digging further.

That and the man Souga decides then and there to materialize back into the room to smack his companion on the head.

“Don’t go around saying unnecessary things.” He grumbles as the gecko yelps and rubs his head, then turns and shouts “Oi, Shikada – come pick up your brat already.”

As if on cue, Yasumi drifts in with a quiet hello. Izuku almost doesn’t recognize her dressed in a rolled up mint-blue sweatshirt and grey legging. She waves casually at the two men before motioning for Izuku to follow her, leading him through the door next to the kitchenette they exited from the last time.

The backroom still looks the same as before – but now with the addition of a folding table that’s been brought in. The couch and smaller coffee table have been moved to the left most corner, and the radio has been left on, playing a song from what he thinks is from AZURE’s recent album (He recalls some talk going around in the forums that they were selling out in stores because she was taking a break from singing to focus on heroing again soon).

She starts rummaging through the cabinets while Izuku just stands there, taking in the room. He notices that there are a few posters around too, some from bands he’s never heard of and a few old school heroes (as in even during and before his mom’s time)

“So how’d it go?”

“Huh?” He blinks, turning away from the poster from a huge hero event in Tokyo a few years back

“The entrance exams for your hero school.” Yasumi presses, cutting him off before he could ask, “Only time you see kids running around in gym clothes around here is either volunteer work or heroics, and you only showed up on weekends without stopping anywhere long.”

She quickly pauses her search briefly to point at his backpack “Plus you literally had “Heroic Analysis For The Future” written on that notebook you had with you yesterday.”

Izuku squirmed as she returned to her searching, feeling a tad embarrassed he had been so transparent to a complete stranger. She then scoots away from the cabinet and pulls out a rather worn deck of cards, leaving it on the table before heading towards the miniature fridge in the corner.

“So again I ask-” she hums, words alight with mild-curiosity “How’d it go?”

Izuku felt his mouth dry and looked away, briefly wondering much of his life story he should be telling a complete stranger. It really wasn’t one of his best days (but when are any of them). He really didn’t feel like having his failure dissected by someone for whatever reason. He might have accepted the invite, but didn’t really have to share anything with her, and it really wasn’t her business anyway either...

“You’re right, it’s not.” She responds bluntly, and Izuku cringes at realizing he was talking out loud again “Was just asking cause you seemed really set on whatever school it was with how often you were in the area. If you don’t feel like talking about it, it’s cool.”

He almost refutes her, almost says that's not what he fully meant but-

Should back off

Looks upset

Where are Sunchips?

He picks at his backpack strap as he watching her thoughts shimmer back into the task at hand, She hadn’t taken offense at his refusal. She wasn’t upset about it. It technically wasn’t her business and she knew it. She said he didn’t have to explain if he didn’t want to and he really, really didn’t want to. She understood-

"I mean it though," She suddenly adds, startling him out if his downward spiral, "If there's anything you don't feel like saying, don't. I might have invited you here, but you don't have to...you know, start writing out your autobiography here and now because I'm feeling chatty."

Izuku blinks, staring blankly at the back of Yasumi's head, and the spiral of bright, distracted thoughts blooming from that choppy pond of murky brown hair.

She understood he didn't want to talk about his entrance exams, because he obvious didn't want to talk about them, because he made it obvious he didn't want to talk about them, because, because...

(Don’t Understand)

“...Th-thank you,” He near-whispers with strain, forcing his voice to take another octave when he finally manages to say “For, um, understanding. And, and for inviting me here as well.”

“...It’s fine. And you’re welcome.” She says as she places a bowl of snack-packages on the table, and she seems to mean it. Her words aren’t sparkling with suppressed ire or generated politeness for him (Or maybe it’s only this way because she doesn’t know about his quirk, about how much he can see in her), just quiet acknowledgement of what was said.

It’s...relieving somewhat.

Yasumi finally sits down, picking up the deck again “You know how to play old maid?”

“A-a little.” He stutters in surprise, taking a seat when she gestured to the other empty chair “Why? What is this?”

She cuts the deck a few times before handing him some cards, a small wry smile on her face as she picked up her own.

“A lesson – You really need to work on your poker face.”

 


 

Inko watches her son sit in front of the television, notebook in his lap as he’s watching a news report

(something about a vigilante being sighted in Saitama and helping with a drug bust of some kind). He looked so intent and focused, eyes flickering between the screen and the open pages as he mumbles over a comment over the vigilante’s new costume.

That’s good, it means he calming down now. A few weeks back he would have resorted to watching the reports in his room, pointedly making it clear where he was going and why, even if he didn’t say so out loud (Once or twice he’d even stop watching in the middle just to avoid being in the same room as her). The fact he was sitting out and hadn’t left meant that he was ready to talk again.

(She briefly wonders if it has anything to do with that new hobby of his he’s picked up, that he eagerly leaves for every Thursday with a high head and a bright spark in his eyes she never seems to catch at home)

She bites her lip, rubbing at her wrist as she stepped forward. Izuku makes no effort to move, either too engrossed with his work or too busy trying to pretend he can’t see her.

“...Y-you did your best.” she says quietly, unsure if she was being unheard or ignored “I, I might not have said it properly, but I really do think that. The fact that you tried so hard just proves how much you deserved a chance to be in heroics. I know you’re disappointed, but you...you...”

You don’t need this! You don’t have to be a hero! You don’t have to make yourself fall apart to reach something so...

“You did you’re best,” she repeats, hands clutched tightly together and her eyes burned from tears that she long since failed to stop falling “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that.”

Izuku doesn’t respond, but he does shift in his seat slightly, and surprisingly that’s enough to her for now.

(Not a lot, but enough to know she hasn’t lost him again.)

 


 

Today the radio was set to President Mic’s radio show, where he was explaining to his viewers that his show would be experiencing a mild hiatus next month due to a slight schedule conflict with his job at UA now that the school year was starting again soon.

"So,” Yasumi hums dimly, tapping against the table “How goes hero research?”

Izuku pauses from taking her left-most card, certain it’s the three of diamonds he needs “Why do you ask?"

“No reason” She shrugs, "Just making small talk. School's been kicking my ass and i want to think about something fun."

He nods, frowning slightly when he takes the card and sees it's a nine of hearts "Oh right - Yasumi-senpai's going to be a third year soon, so you have to start thinking about colleges and final exams."

Yasumi groans immediately and flops her head down, nearly dropping her hand.

"Don't remind me." She grumbles moodily, sitting straight back up and stealing away his Jack of Clubs. "Academics are anathema at the moment. Persona-Non-Grata. Any mention of the subject will be subjected to a firing squad."

"Oh, okay then."

"Appreciated."

The game continues in silence for a while.

"...Do you, do you really want to hear me talk about heroes?" He carefully asks, and Yasumi's face perks up at that, "You haven't asked before, so I was surprised."

People don't normally ask him about his notes. Most adults just go "Oh, so you like heroes?" and never go further than that, and classmates that tried to meet him halfway just got frustrated or creeped out when he ended up rambling off topic about minor details with a hero's quirk, and most of the time the initial question was just for helping with history homework or the like. Outside of maybe his parents (and Katsuki, once upon a time), he really never had some ask him about his hero notes just to...hear about them

"Wouldn't ask if I wasn't," she says "Like I said, it's nice to get my mind off things, and I was kind of curious about them before. But if you don't feel up for it, then it's fine."

Izuku just hums noncommittally, and the two falls back back into an easy silence. The radio station changes over to it's soft-rock variety hour by kicking off with a new artist who's first concert would be in two months

Three new cards later, Izuku barely stops himself in time from looking up to see Yasumi's thoughts  "...Are you sure? I might go overboard with it. You won't get annoyed?"

"That's up to me to decide." She finally says with a shrug "Besides, talking keeps be from getting bored from thoroughly trouncing you."

 "I could still win!" He huffs childishly, feeling himself slowly got back at ease again

"Going to to hard with my six cards against your twenty." She points out, and makes an even bigger one by stealing his King of Diamonds next and turning her six to five

"..."

"If your want, we can call this round a wash and start all over again."

Izuku looks away and randomly plucks another card, cheeks heating up "...I have some new theories on Mt.Lady's quirk due to a recent battle she had with a villain uptown - It might explain why she seems to mostly go for already occurring villain fights. It also seems like she and Kamui Woods are teaming up a lot lately. "

Yasumi raised a brow, "Celebrity gossip? Intriguing..."

 


 

And so the game is immediately forgotten as Izuku sits with his notebook out on the table and begins to babble excitedly to his one-woman audience about the potential stamina Mt.Lady size increase might cause her due to the change in size requiring her body to double it's usual metabolizing efforts, cards and coming loss forgotten at the table.