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Words as Weapons

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Five Years Ago

 

 

Father still isn’t back yet.

 

“I’ll just be gone for a few hours, a day at most,” Father had assured him before stepping out in the suit he saves for special occasions.

 

Izuku knows that oftentimes, his father lies, but Father has never before been gone longer than a day.

 

It’s been over a week.

 

Izuku could be worried, but instead, he finds himself filled with a sort of sick hope. He knows he shouldn’t, he knows that he should want his father to come back. But he just can’t. These past eleven days have been the calmest of his life. There’s no one telling him what to make or eat, no one proofreading every piece of his homework, no one taking him into the basement for all sorts of training at all hours.

 

It’s just Izuku and whatever Izuku wants to do.

 

He makes himself meals his father would never approve of. He eats desert without Father’s permission. He watches hero cartoons on the television instead of the news Father always puts on.

 

Despite the comfortable haze Izuku settles into, he always dreads coming home from school. What if today is the day he comes back?

 

A couple nights, Izuku doesn’t go home. He sleeps in the park on a bench or with a sleeping bag in an alleyway. He could be scared but, honestly, nothing scares him anymore. Nothing but Father.

 

On the eleventh day, Izuku goes home after school. He’s had enough restless nights outside that his back is starting to hurt. If Father is here, then Izuku might as well deal with him now rather than later.

 

He steps up to the door and silently turns the key. It swings open with less sound than Izuku makes breathing.

 

Father’s shoes are there, scuffed and so worn they’re barely usable anymore, but they’re there nonetheless. Izuku’s blood runs cold but his face doesn’t show it. He enters, closes the door, and switches into his slippers.

 

“Father!” Izuku calls. “I’m home!”

 

Silence. Nothing.

 

Izuku’s fingers twitch, nervous energy needing somewhere to go.

 

Where’s their routine? Father is supposed to respond with, welcome home, Izuku! Then, once they’re in the same room, they’ll engage in a safe conversation about how each other’s days were.

 

But, Father doesn’t say welcome home .

 

He doesn’t say anything.

 

Izuku debates, for a moment, ignoring the fact that his father should be here and just continuing on with his day. But then he considers the hours of chastising he’ll likely get later for not properly greeting him and Izuku goes in search of him.

 

The first thing he notices is the beeping. He can hear it from the hallway. It’s not particularly loud, but accompanied by the rhythmic heavy breathing, it’s sufficiently unsettling. Izuku knocks on Father’s door twice, like he always does.

 

“Izuku?” asks a voice that isn’t his father’s. It’s rough and quiet and broken and half-air and lacks the confidence Father’s voice has.

 

Izuku doesn’t want to open the door.

 

“Izuku,” the voice says again. “Come in... please.”

 

He opens the door anyway. Izuku doesn’t recognize the room. He isn’t sure how it was remodeled so quickly, but then he remembers he hasn’t been home in three days.

 

Right.

 

The wall of bookshelves has been replaced with a pair of bulky machines, both spewing an uncountable mess of tubes and wires leading into the wall and the bed. The bed, which had once been covered in a comforter and a mass of pillows, now has nothing but a sheet.

 

And a man.

 

The man is hooked up to many of the wires and tubes, but Izuku’s eyes don’t stay still long enough to catch what is leading where. The man wears an oxygen mask, which is likely what dulls his voice. Above the mask lie bandages which fit tightly against the entire top-half of his face and over his hair--or, based on how tight it is, maybe he doesn’t have any hair. Izuku’s eyes linger on the bandages, on the fact that they cover his eyes , but there’s so much new information in this room alone that Izuku can’t process everything.

 

“Where were you last night?” the man asks in that half-choking voice of his.

 

Izuku grips the doorknob a little tighter.

 

“Where’s my father? Midoriya Hisashi?”

 

The man’s entire body tenses and the beeping speeds up for a moment before settling down again.

 

“Izuku...” he sounds sad, dejected, but Izuku is the one who doesn’t know why this injured stranger in his house.

 

“Who are you?” Izuku asks, trying to hide his fear.

 

The man takes a moment to just breathe--because he needs to consciously think about the action--and then says, “ I am your father, Izuku. I am Hisashi.”

 

Izuku bites his lower lip. “You’re not,” he whispers. “You can’t be.”

 

“Here--” the man reaches out his hand slowly, the process obviously measured. “--I’ll prove it. You don’t have one right now, do you? I’ll give you one... Which do you want? Air Walk? A strength enhancer? Pull? I’ve been gone far too long. You can pick whichever you want.”

 

Izuku lets out a breath.

 

The choice.

 

His father rarely lets him chose which quirk he gets and he already knows his answer--of course he does.

 

“Pull,” he announces, trying to sound confident. “I want Pull.”

 

The man-- Hisashi? --smiles behind the oxygen mask and curls his fingers in a beckon for Izuku to move closer. “Come here and I’ll give it to you.”

 

After a moment of hesitation, Izuku lets go of the door handle and steps into the room. It smells like a hospital, which Izuku only recognizes from the time Father got paranoid over a simple cold and they went to the emergency room.

 

“You don’t have to be scared, Izuku.”

 

Izuku takes a deep breath and reaches out his hand.

 

As soon as they touch he feels it, the power which constantly buzzes under his father’s skin, the myriad of quirks which are so close but never within Izuku’s own reach. And then, like a chill running over his entire body, a part of that power transfers to him. A single quirk. More than Izuku himself has naturally, but just a fraction of his father’s power.

 

He feels the already familiar tug of Pull, his favorite quirk out of all the ones he’s tried so far.

 

“Believe me?” his father asks, withdrawing his hand.

 

“Yes, sorry, Father.” Izuku glances up at his father’s face but can’t bring himself to look for longer than a second.

 

“There was a villain attack,” Father supplies, “on my way home from the meeting. They got the car and... before I realized what had happened...”

 

Izuku swallows. In the silence all he hears is medical equipment and Father’s heavy breaths.

 

“I was in the hospital,” Father continues. “And... this had happened.”

 

“How long ago?” Izuku asks quietly.

 

“What?”

 

“How long ago did you wake up?”

 

Father cringes and looks away. “Two days ago.”

 

Izuku flinches, but keeps his voice carefully even as he says, “I see,” and leaves the room.

 

 


 

 

Present Day

 

 

“Since you’re all third years, now, it’s about time we discuss high school aspirations,” their homeroom teacher announces. There’s a moment of silence before he continues, “Who am I kidding, you’re all looking to become heroes!”

 

The class erupts into excited chatter and cheer.

 

“Midoriya-kun and Bakugou-kun,” the teacher begins, quickly getting their attention. “You’ve both already decided on trying for UA, correct?”

 

Katsuki just grunts an affirmative.

 

“Yes!” Izuku answers cheerfully, pumping a fist into the air. He deflates after a moment. “Is it just us who are applying?”

 

The teacher scrunches up his nose. “Ah, yes, as far as I know.”

 

Izuku frowns. “Why isn’t anybody else applying?” He turns to the classroom as a whole, and they know someone will have to answer.

 

“We don’t, uh, have suitable quirks, you know?” a boy answers, rubbing the back of his head.

 

“Nonsense!” Izuku answers with a clap of his hands. “First off, it’s not just the quirk that makes the hero. Secondly, all of you have quirks that could be used for heroics if you tried!”

 

They’ve all heard this speech before, but none of them interrupt him.

 

They know better.

 

“Yes, Midoriya-kun, you’re quite right,” the teacher states after clearing his throat. “Now, let’s get back to class, everyone.”

 

 

Izuku walks home alone, like he does every day. Once, many years ago, Katsuki had tried walking home with him, seeing as they only lived a block away from each other. Izuku’s father hadn’t approved and they never did it again.

 

So, Izuku walks home alone, earbuds playing energetic classical music. He takes the slightly longer route. He likes this way better; it’s less direct and more scenic. His class got out a bit early, anyways, so he can spare the extra minute.

 

As walks under the overpass, he doesn’t hear the sewer cover slide open or the animate slime crawl out. He isn’t even aware he’s in danger until he can’t breath. Liquid slides past his earbuds and into his ears, his nose and his mouth. He struggles, bites down, claws, tries to hold his breath, but there’s only so long he’ll be able to last.

 

His current quirk, Pull, is useless in this scenario, and he’s fully aware of this fact as his vision wanes and all he can hear is his heart beating much too quickly in his ears.

 

And then it’s over.

 

The villain bursts away with a gust of wind.

 

Izuku drops to his knees and tries to breath. Someone hits his back and he coughs up remnants of the slime until his lungs are free. Izuku blinks away tears and sees none other than the Number One Hero.

 

“All Might,” Izuku breathes.

 

All Might smiles down at him with the same smile Izuku has seen everywhere--the news, the internet, posters, t-shirts--except it’s here, in real life, and it’s directed at him. Izuku can’t help but smile back.

 

“How are you feeling, my boy?” All Might asks, voice echoing against the walls.

 

“Great!” Izuku answers as he pushes himself to his feet. “Wow, I seriously can’t believe you’re All Might. You are All Might, right?”

 

All Might laughs. “Of course I am! However, I am in a hurry, so if you’re alright I must be going.”

 

“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m totally fine!”

 

All Might furrows his eyebrows. “If you’re so sure,” he mutters, but still louder than anyone’s natural speaking volume. “Please get checked up at a hospital just to be safe.”

 

And then All Might leaves in a flurry of movement that Izuku’s eyes can’t track.

 

Izuku smiles at the memory of All Might and searches the underpass for his backpack. It’s soaked and a little slimy, but otherwise the contents are relatively fine. He immediately calls his father.

 

“Izuku?” his father asks, a semblance of concern riddling his voice. “Are you alright?”

 

“I’m running a few minutes late,” Izuku says, already walking. “I’m totally fine. I’m not hurt at all. I just got in a little altercation with a villain.”

 

“Really? What happened?”

 

“I’m not entirely sure myself. I can explain once I get home. I’m ten or fifteen minutes away at this point.”

 

“Alright,” his father says, not sounding very convinced. “As long as you’re safe.”

 

“I am. Love you. See you soon.”

 

“Love you too.”

 

 

Izuku doesn’t expect to encounter another villain on his walk home, but he does. So, he does what he always does when he comes across a villain attack on his walk. He texts his father he’ll be a couple extra minutes late, and steps forward to watch.

 

He knows he’s more than a bit hypocritical as he judges the civilians gawking at the event, doing nothing more than gossip and complain. He tries to convince himself that he’s different, that he’s observing for analytical purposes, to learn something, but it doesn’t work.

 

He weaves through the crowd, already making observations. The smell of smoke. Unusual silence. The heroes are normally louder, flashier. A reporter is narrating but it’s hard for him to understand over the hum of the crowd. When he finally breaks through, he realizes what’s going on before the reporter says it.

 

“The heroes are unable to interfere with the situation until someone with a more suitable quirk shows up.”

 

Unable .

 

The word weighs on Izuku, pushes him down until he can barely breath. Because there’s a victim, right there, suffocating like Izuku was just minutes before, and no one is doing anything because the heroes have unsuitable quirks. Because the risk is too high. Because the victim is fighting back the only way they know how.

 

Their eyes meet and the victim is no longer a victim, but Bakugou Katsuki.

 

Izuku is moving before he realizes it, the previous weight propelling him like a spring.

 

His father’s words echo around him, surrounding him, “Heroes are naturally selfish, Izuku. They’re only it in for the money or the fame."

 

Izuku knows the limits of his current quirk. He knows it isn’t suitable against a liquid pile of slime. But Izuku goes anyway, running past the reporter and the couple of heroes who try to stop him, reaching out with Pull and finding the villain’s two eyes. He doesn’t stop running even as he takes them in his grasp and Pulls them towards him.

 

He only tertiarily registers the villain’s screams, more focused on Katsuki. Izuku wishes he could Pull bigger things, just Pull Katsuki himself out. But he can’t. So instead he reaches out with his hands, ignoring the blistering heat, ignoring the slime tugging at him.

 

A familiar burst of air disintegrates the slime and the shout of, “I am here! ” ends everything.

 

 

“What were you thinking?” Kamui Woods asks him as he sits on the end of the ambulance, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Katsuki is right next to him, getting an entirely different speech from another hero.

 

Izuku drops his head and lets a few tears out. He wraps his arms around his chest. “I-I wasn’t,” he says. “It just--I had--and then I was running.”

 

“Hey,” Kamui says, crouching down, putting his hands on Izuku’s knees. “It’s okay. I’m sorry. We were all just worried for you. What you did was very dangerous. You could have seriously gotten hurt.”

 

Izuku nods and wipes the tears from his eyes.

 

Katsuki scoffs.

 

“I need to--to call my dad,” Izuku says. Kamui stands up and gives him a small smile.

 

“Of course, go ahead.”

 

Izuku takes his phone from his bag, which one of the heroes had placed on the ground beside them at some point, and dials his father.

 

“Are you alright?” Hisashi asks, slightly desperate.

 

Izuku sniffs. “I’m--I’ll be fine. I don’t know how much longer they’ll keep me for so I don’t know when I’ll be able to make dinner.”

 

“Don’t push yourself, please. I’ll order us something. You’ve had a long day.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“And you’re sure you’re fine?”

 

“Physically? Yeah. I got checked out by a medic and everything.”

 

“Just, promise you’ll stay safe.”

 

“Promise.”

 

“I love you. Come home in one piece.”

 

“Love you, too. Bye.”

 

“Oi, Izukun,” Katsuki grunts after the heroes leave.

 

Izuku just hums in response, turning to look at Katsuki.

 

“What was that crying shit about? We both know literally the only thing you do is think.”

 

Izuku snorts. “You know just as well as I do, Kachan.”

 

Katsuki rolls his eyes with enough drama to roll his head with them. “It was one of your ploys, sure, but how does looking like a little bitch help you?”

 

“Kachan,” Izuku begins with a little more condescension than he had intended, “Is now really the right time to talk about this? And why should I just give you the answer, anyway? You’re smart enough to figure it out on your own.”

 

Katsuki snarls and turns away. “Fine. And I hope you’re not expecting a thank you. ‘Cause you ain’t getting one.”

 

Izuku just smiles. “Of course not.”

 

 

He finally leaves after an hour of a police and a hero interview.

 

Less than five minutes into his walk, he runs into All Might again.

 

“My boy!” All Might announces as he skids to a stop.

 

“All Might?” Izuku asks, subconsciously fixing his posture. “What are you doing here?”

 

Before All Might can answer, he erupts into a cloud of smoke. When it dies down, a man with All Might’s height and hair, but who has maybe half, if that, of his weight stands in his place.

 

“Shit,” the man--who is either All Might or some sort of impersonator--cusses before coughing out a spurt of blood.

 

Izuku can’t help but reach out to support him, thinking of his father in perpetual bed rest back at home.

 

“I’m fine, young man,” All Might insists--because by Occam’s Razor he is All Might.

 

Izuku furrows his eyebrows. “If you’re coughing blood, you’re missing some internal organs. You’re not fine. My father has sustained a similar level of injuries and he’s essentially bedridden.”

 

All Might frowns ever so slightly; it’s more like a cringe. “A villain attack?”

 

Izuku nods. “Yes, a few years ago.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

Izuku tilts his head. “Why? It was a villain who injured him, not you.”

 

“I was unable to protect him.”

 

Izuku pouts and is silent for a moment. “I don’t expect you to protect everyone. No offense, but you’re simply incapable of the feat.”

 

All Might jolts a bit and coughs again. “Oh!” he exclaims. “You’re probably confused. About... this.” All Might waves a hand in a gesture at his form.

 

Izuku shrugs. “I mean, no one knows what your quirk is. Mutation, although a rare theory with very little previous evidence, was still on the table.” Izuku knows. He wrote a six page paper on the mutation theory. Although it hadn’t satiated his father, it had entertained him.

 

“It isn’t... exactly mutation.” All Might somehow manages to look sheepish, an expression Izuku never would have imagined on his face before. He clears his throat. “Well, I came here today to tell you that what you did earlier was extremely heroic. It’s what spurred me to action! Who knows what would’ve happened if you hadn’t stepped in.”

 

Izuku smiles and tries really hard to bury his paranoia that All Might is just saying that to get something from him. He fails. “Thanks.”

 

“What is your quirk, if you’re willing to share?”

 

Izuku dips his head a little and rubs the back of his neck. “Ah, well, it’s sort of complicated.”

 

All Might raises an eyebrow. “You’re telling that to me.”

 

“Right. It’s weird, some sort of genetic mutation or aberration, they think. The basic function of my quirk drastically changes every six months to a year. For instance, right now I have Pull, but just a few weeks ago it was Fire Breath.”

 

All Might blinks for a few moments.

 

“It’s called Random Quirk Generator, if that helps.”

 

“That’s... weird, but I’m definitely not one to judge.” All Might places a hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “You’re going to be a great hero one day.”

 

Izuku tries not to react, but he honestly isn’t sure if he succeeds or not. The statement is so honest , so pure that Izuku can’t comprehend it.

 

“I’d like to help you, If you’ll let me.”

 

Izuku expertly ignores the offer. “Why do you think I’m going to become a hero?”

 

All Might just laughs, patting Izuku’s shoulder a couple times. “Tell me something--oh, shit, uh.” All Might blushes. “Uh, what’s your--” he clears his throat “--your name.”

 

“Oh!” Izuku smiles. “Midoriya Izuku, at your service.”

 

“Midoriya-kun, sorry. Well, tell me something, why did you interfere with the villain attack?”

 

Izuku furrows his eyebrows. “There wasn't a why . Before I knew it, I was just... there.”

 

All Might’s smile grows. “Every successful hero has a story of how their feet moved before they realized.”

 

Izuku’s eyes widen.

 

“That’s what happened to you, yes?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then you’re going to be a great hero. I’d like to offer you a proposition. My own quirk.”

 

Anyone else would have been surprised at the prospect of one handing off a quirk to another. However, Izuku has grown up with the passing on of quirks as a simple fact of life; the only weird thing about this situation is that it’s someone other than his father—and they’re asking him. It’s his choice. Or, at least, the illusion of choice is there.

 

Izuku swallows and realizes he should be surprised at this offer.

 

“Y-your quirk?” Izuku stutters, raising an eyebrow and doing nothing in particular with his hands. They flounder aimlessly, like flippers or wings.

 

He wonders if he’s going to learn what All Might’s quirk is. If he’s lucky enough to. If, after hundreds of pages of analysis which were all, no matter what, wrong , he’ll finally find out the truth.

 

“Yes!” All Might announces, then takes a moment to swallow. Izuku composes himself.  “You see, my quirk is one which can be passed down, which I myself received from someone before me. It’s called One for All.”

 

Izuku blinks, scrunches up his face in mock confusion. “Passed down... I’ve never heard of a quirk that can do that,” he lies.

 

“Well, my boy! It’s the truth! And I’m offering it to you! You have the personality and makings of a hero!” All Might extends his hand. “So, what’s your decision?”

 

It isn’t a decision. Izuku knows this. But sometimes, his father asks him as well, asks him which quirk he wants like Izuku has any say in the matter. Izuku always answers him because that’s what he wants him to do.

 

“Yes,” Izuku answers, just as much air as words. “My answer is yes.”

 

 

Izuku feels empty, like he won the lottery but he doesn’t have anything to buy with the money. He knows All Might’s quirk-- One for All-- but he doesn’t know what to do with the information. Research? Write another paper? Tell his father? No. He definitely can’t tell his father. That wouldn’t anything accomplish at all.

 

But now... after all those pages he finally has the answer. He doesn’t feel any better for it. If anything, he feels worse.

 


When Izuku gets home, he tells his father an easy lie about how long the interviewing took and doesn’t once mention All Might outside of he saved us .