Midoriya had been sure when he left the letter in Todoroki’s shoe locker that he was ready for the outcome, whatever it might be.
He was a meticulous person by nature, after all. He followed meal plans, training regimens and kept his days plotted out neatly on his hanging All Might winter charity calendar. On the shelf beside his bed was a stack of 17 notebooks filled to brimming with information on heroes and hero potentials – quirks, weaknesses, histories, statistics, best counters and potential areas of growth. Two weeks ago Aizawa had handed him back a densely packed essay on hero teamup trends and told him to lose three pages.
Given the amount of time he’d spent agonizing over confessing in comparison, Midoriya had been positive he’d dreamed up every rejection Todoroki could possibly concoct.
He’d planned for the worst of course; that Todoroki might be disgusted, or to laugh at him for ever thinking he had a chance with someone who was so clearly out of his league. It felt unlikely (or at least Midoriya hoped it was). While he could certainly be standoffish or rude when he wanted to be, Todoroki wasn’t the kind of person who enjoyed needless cruelty. Midoriya liked that about him.
But if there was one thing middleschool had taught Midoriya, it was that even people who seemed nice could be hurtful when feelings were on the line and reputations at stake. He might not like it, and it would certainly showcase an ugliness in Todoroki that he hoped didn’t exist, but he had to be ready for it if it happened. Pain hurt the most when you didn’t mentally prepare yourself for it: middleschool had taught Midoriya that too.
Much more likely (he hoped) was a kind, but uncomfortable, no. Todoroki awkwardly avoiding his gaze for the agonizing weeks or months it could take them to find a new armistice in the wake of Midoriya’s confession. Not the ideal answer, but one where they could come out of it still friends. Midoriya had practiced to death his speech about how he really wasn’t expecting anything – being friends was enough. He only wanted Todoroki to know how he felt. He hated feeling like a sneak every time he looked a little too long or sat a little too close. He just needed closure.
He’d fantasized an embarrassingly long time about the slim possibility of his confession being accepted. He’d warned himself obsessively that Todoroki might be unsure; he might have to wait until he was ready, and that he could handle that.
But he hadn’t been ready for whatever kind of half-assed answer this was.
Cherry blossoms hung in the air between them, drifting on the wind and painting the small hills behind the schoolbuilding in pink. The way the pedals fell around Todoroki was picturesque, like in one of those silly television dramas Midoriya’s mom had always loved.
Todoroki had only grown more handsome in the two years that Midoriya had known him. He’d always been striking to look at, but now he stood taller and broader than ever. His two toned hair mixed together poetically in the wind and his mismatched eyes were as captivating as they’d always been. He was the perfect cliché in his school uniform, wearing the same heartbreaking mask of indifference he’d had on when they first met.
“What am I supposed to say to that?” Midoriya whispered past the lump already forming in his throat. Todoroki continued to stare him down, flawless and unmoved. Midoriya’s eyes were burning and he hated the way his vision was already swimming together, soft pinks melting with red and white. He hated the way Todoroki stood there like he didn’t care at all even more. “What does that even mean?”
Todoroki’s voice gave as much away as his face did. “You don’t have to say anything. I’m sorry I’ve distressed you.” He bowed in half; it was a stiff, formal, apology. “But I couldn’t lie to you, even though my answer is unfair.”
Midoriya’s jaw protested as he ground his teeth together. “I don’t understand.” He said and he balled his trembling hands into fists; glaring at Todoroki even as the tears started to fall and Todoroki stood up again. “If you feel the same way I do then why…?”
“I don’t think heroes should fall in love. Or at least, I don’t think they should have relationships.” Todoroki said simply. It was an echo of his earlier answer. “Our job is dangerous enough without having such an obvious weak spot. Even if it wasn’t, people’s lives are going depend on us doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. We have to be fully dedicated to this; romance is a luxury we won’t be able to afford.”
Midoriya had no response prepared for that. No backup plan for this. It wasn’t as though Todoroki was talking complete nonsense – there was nothing but logic to what he was saying. Yet something instinctual in Midoriya riled against it, screaming at him that it couldn’t be true.
But how was he supposed to put that feeling into words? No matter how he tried to think of it, it sounded stupid and emotional next to Todoroki’s impartial logic.
Todoroki sighed as he plucked a sakura pedal from the white half of his hair, letting the wind take it from his fingers. “We’re both aiming for the top, Midoriya-kun. If I want to be the number one hero, then I can’t be held back by anything. I need to be at my best. I can’t do that if I let my judgement be clouded by feelings. No matter how much I might care for you, I know I can’t let myself to be…distracted by it.” Todoroki looked him over and Midoriya hated the way his heart still fluttered. “And you shouldn’t let yourself be distracted be me. You’re smart, if you let yourself think about it rationally you’ll come to the same conclusion.”
“No. I won’t. Because you’re wrong and you know it.” Midoriya hissed and Todoroki looked away with a wince, his first expression since he’d visibly shut them down after Midoriya’s confession. Midoriya felt as horrible as he did vindicated. “If you don’t like me that’s okay! I can take that. You can just tell me. But this is…that’s-!” He struggled again to find the words, coming up with a blank when he tried to arrange his swirling thoughts into something concrete. He shook his head violently. “It’s just an excuse!”
There was a moment of silence after that, while Midoriya wiped his face on his sleeve. When his face was clear, he looked up to see Todoroki unballing his hands with a deep breath. His face was as placid as an untouched lake.
“I’m alright with it if you want to believe that.” Todoroki said softly. “And I really am sorry. I hope we can still be friends.”
Midoriya wracked his brain for something, anything, to say to that.
He was still trying and failing to come up with a response while Todoroki bowed once more, then turned and walked away.
“I’ll beat him up!” Uraraka declared furiously, balling her fists together in front of her like she was going sock Todoroki that very second. She looked over at Iida, her eyebrows drawn together dramatically. “I mean; we’ll beat him up! You’ll help, right Iida-kun?”
“I most certainly will not! As class president I cannot show favouritism nor allow attacks on our fellow classmates, regardless of their callousness.” Iida directed a harsh glare and stern chop in her direction. Uraraka had to lean back to avoid getting clipped. Midoriya’s dorm room wasn’t any smaller than the rest of them, but there still wasn’t all that much space for three people to sit crosslegged on the floor. His friends had decided to join him there after they’d come in to find Midoriya at a low he’d hoped never to sink back into: on the floor, hugging his pillow and crying.
To be fair, Midoriya had predicted it might end up like this. Every other confession he’d made had ended in a pretty similar outcome. He just hadn’t counted on actually being seen by other people or asked about what happened. He especially hadn’t counted on not understanding it himself. He wondered if Todoroki would be mad that he’d told their friends about it, but then he was the one heartbroken so shouldn’t he have the right?
When Iida looked at him, the confusion and pity in his expression made Midoriya feel a little sick on top of everything. His nose hurt, his eyes hurt, his chest hurt and now Iida was looking at him with worry in his eyes and shaking his head sadly. “But I don’t understand,” He said, “I was absolutely certain Todoroki felt the same way about you. He said…” Iida paused and made a face. “I shouldn’t reveal what he said as it was spoken to me in the strictest confidence, but it left little doubt in my mind as to his feelings for you.”
Midoriya sighed down at the pillow in his lap. All Might smiled back up at him. He told himself sternly that he needed to stop crying and get back to smiling again. Just like he’d always done. All Might wouldn’t sit around crying just because he’d been rejected (even though he was pretty sure no one would reject All Might).
Midoriya’s eyes watered as soon as he started speaking anyways.
“Todoroki said,” His voice sounded ragged even to his own ears, “Th-that he doesn’t think heroes should fall in love.” Numbness spread through his chest even as he started crying again for what must have been the hundredth time that night. “He said he’s liked me since our first year b-but that he wants to be the number one hero so he can’t be ‘distracted’ by me.” Midoriya hugged the pillow tightly to his chest. “And he doesn’t want an ‘obvious weak spot’.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Uraraka crossed her arms and glared at the door, as though Todoroki were liable to burst through at any moment. “His dad is the number one hero and he’s married! Todoroki talks about his mom all of the time and we saw his sister on parent appreciation day. Todoroki comes out with us and we aren’t swarmed by villains. It doesn’t sound like anything horrible has happened to them yet!”
Midoriya winced at her choice of words. He was glad when Iida answered for him. “Todoroki’s family life is more…complicated than that. You know that.” Iida adjusted his glasses thoughtfully. “But perhaps that is why he feels so strongly about this. He may not have said it, but growing up with a hero family affects your view on these things. Particularly one like his.”
It made sense. The thought had certainly occurred to Midoriya that the reason Todoroki was so against heroes in relationships was connected to his family. How could it not, with his family history being what it was? But things had also changed so much in the Todoroki household recently that Midoriya couldn’t be sure.
The hows and whys weren’t something he was privy to, but after their first year Endeavor’s attitude had taken a dramatic turn. He’d backed off of Todoroki to the point of almost not being involved in his hero training at all, and the majority of their interactions now gave off the impression of a tenuous - if bitter - truce. Whether that was because Endeavor was really attempting to change or because he was too preoccupied with his new position and the League of Villains, Midoriya didn’t know. But he did know that Todoroki no longer spoke of his father one way or the other, and that his mother was no longer in the hospital. He also knew that she had at least talked to her husband without incident on a few rare occasions. Though whether that spoke of her own development or Endeavor’s, again Midoriya couldn’t be sure.
Todoroki had changed a lot over the years too. He didn’t fuel himself on spite anymore, finally growing out of defining himself by what his father was or wasn’t. Midoriya had watched him become a man in his own right, one who based his decisions on what he felt was right as opposed to what he felt made for good vengeance.
It was part of why Midoriya had fallen so hard for him. Midoriya had always admired people who stood strong and stayed righteous no matter how difficult things got. He was enthralled and inspired by the kind of inner strength it took to withstand hell and come out the other side still wanting to fight for good. With every step Todoroki took towards shedding his past and becoming a better, kinder, person, Midoriya’s feelings for him had only grown stronger. From friendship and pride to a warmth that radiated in his chest when he thought of him and left Midoriya feeling boneless and giddy.
But none of that meant that Todoroki’s past had been erased, or that Endeavor hadn’t done the things he’d done. Todoroki’s past would always be a part of him, and it wasn’t very hard to connect it to what he’d said. The way Todoroki had talked about love itself had just felt wrong. He hadn’t said it in so many words, but the implication that love was weakness had hung over his speech heavily. It was clear that he thought romantic feelings would hold him back. That was the kind of philosophy Midoriya would have expected from Todoroki’s father far more than from him.
But even though Midoriya knew all of those things, even though he could guess at all of those feelings, he still hadn’t been able to stop Todoroki from walking away.
“It doesn’t matter, does it?” Midoriya finally said. He sunk the side of his face into the pillow and clung to it even tighter. He could feel the familiar sting in his eyes and rattling in his lungs that signaled another wave of tears were on the way. “I got rejected. That’s th-that. It’s not like I thought I had a chance anyways. So I just need to-to g-get over it, I guess.”
He thought he’d been prepared for rejection. It wasn’t like it was the first time, and he’d broken every bone in his body and sprung back from that like it was nothing. It couldn’t be worse than that. But it hurt so much more than rejection ever had before, and a kiss from Recovery Girl wasn’t going to make it go away.
Maybe Todoroki was right. Maybe it really was a weakness.
His thoughts raced together in a jumble until Uraraka laid a gentle hand on his arm. He looked over at her and she smiled back comfortingly at him. He felt a sudden rush of gratitude for her, and for Iida. Not all that long ago Midoriya hadn’t needed to worry about being caught crying alone in his room, because he hadn’t had friends to catch him. But the moment Iida had heard him sobbing he’d pounded on the door relentlessly until Midoriya had eventually given up and told him to come in. The moment Uraraka had seen him she’d gasped and knelt down beside him, demanding to know what happened and pulling him into a hug when he told her.
Crying alone wasn’t new, but having friends to comfort him afterwards was. He was so lucky to have them.
“Oh, Deku-kun.” She said sadly and moved her hand to his back, rubbing in a gentle and soothing circle. “I’m sorry.”
Iida placed a firm hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “You’ll be alright, Midoriya-kun.” He assured him with a tentative smile, “We’re here for you.”
Midoriya nodded until he couldn’t hold the tears back anymore, then he buried his face back in the pillow. They were right. He knew they were, even as he shook with silent sobs. He would work this out and he would be okay. Best case scenario: he and Todoroki would move on from this is a week or two. Worst case: he still had two amazing friends. He still had a quirk and he was still going to be a hero. He really couldn’t ask for any more than that.
He would be alright.
But for the moment, all he wanted was to be sad.
All Might’s intense blue eyes narrowed and he bent down to Midoriya’s eye level. Midoriya stared back for a moment while All Might’s gaze bored into his. What he was looking for Midoriya wasn’t sure, but he’d apparently found it, standing up abruptly after.
“All right, that’s enough!” All Might barked, a frown on his hollowed out face. Against the backdrop of the wooded area near U.A. where they frequently trained, it was easy to see how scrawny and pale All Might was. None of that made him any less intimidating as he pointed a finger down at Midoriya sharply. “We can’t train when you’re distracted like this!”
“No! I’m not distracted!” Midoriya lied and waved his hands around in front of him, resolving immediately to pay more attention. Three years ago he would have committed serious crimes for the opportunity to train with All Might, it was unbelievably selfish of him to throw it away now because he was mooning over some boy.
What had All Might been telling him? Something about Midoriya trying to do everything by himself and letting his quirk do work for him. At least that was what he thought All might had been saying. Lately All Might had taken to being even more cryptic in his training advice in order to force Midoriya to make connections on his own. He was being especially roundabout about it today and that was around when Midoriya had started to tune out. His mind wandered to the upcoming festival, wondering who he would have to fight in the third event and if he would end up going against Todoroki.
(He knew he would. He could just feel it.)
All Might crossed his arms and shook his head disapprovingly, which was the worst. “I just mentioned an experimental technique that I used for a brief period of time in America but which was never caught on camera, and you didn’t even ask one question. I know you better than that, Midoriya-shonen!”
Midoriya shot up from the log he’d been sitting on. “Wait, what!?” He shouted, suddenly snapped back into reality. He cursed himself doubly for being so busy moping about Todoroki that he’d missed out on such an important All Might fact and a potential use for One for All. “I-I swear I’m listening now, All Might!” He clapped his hands together in front of him, “Please tell me again!”
“No. I won’t.” Midoriya’s stomach dropped in horror before All Might’s expression and voice softened. “At least, not until you tell me what’s going on.” Midoriya sat back down on the log as All Might continued. “You’re distracted, and it’ll do us no good until we get to the root of it. Don’t even think of denying it - your performance has been off all week. I didn’t miss it when you nearly lost control of your quirk against Bakugou-shonen yesterday.”
Midoriya looked away in shame. That hadn’t been his finest hour. They’d been doing training that involved hunting down a villain who was running away with a hostage. Naturally, because his life was a mess, the hostage had been Todoroki and the villain Bakugou. He’d been determined to go through with it anyways. Things had been going fine until Bakugou had grabbed Todoroki by the hair and slammed his face against the wall in an attempt to stop him from escaping. Todoroki screamed in pain and something inside of Midoriya snapped. He’d only meant to kick the air hard enough to throw Bakugou off of Todoroki, not hard enough to send Bakugou flying out of the window and shatter every other window in the building.
Everyone else seemed to think it was intentional, that Midoriya was simply taking things too far again. Bakugou had just used his explosions to get back in through the window without and Todoroki had used the time to escape. But Midoriya had seen a look in All Might’s eyes afterwards that said he knew Midoriya had lost control during the exercise.
And now this.
All Might knelt down on one knee so that he was on Midoriya’s level. The gentleness of his expression touched Midoriya, just like it did every time he saw it. He was reminded again of how unbelievably lucky he was and silently ordered himself not to cry. He’d cried more than enough for the whole year at this point. It was hard though, when All Might laid an overlarge hand on his shoulder. “Tell me what’s wrong, Midoriya-shonen. This isn’t like you.”
He already knew for a fact that he was not going to be able to lie to All Might. He’d tried to do it once before and the guilt had eaten him alive for weeks on end. But Midoriya also knew that he would die before he confessed to his mentor and personal hero that he was sucking in class because he was sad he’d been shot down.
He stared at All Might and it occurred that it might be an opportunity to ask something else. Something that had been eating away at him far deeper than not being able to look at Todoroki for longer than a few seconds without wanting to hide or yell or cry. The question that was actually keeping him up at night.
“Do you think heroes shouldn’t fall in love?” He asked finally, searching All Might’s face for the answer. “Do you think it stops us from doing our jobs properly? That it makes us…weak?”
All Might jolted back with a startled noise and narrowly avoided coughing blood on Midoriya. “Oh! Then this is about-!” All Might paused and composed himself, wiping the blood from his face. He rested his other hand on his chin after and shook his head with dignity. “Ah, I see. So it’s love troubles, then. I suppose you are still in the springtime of your youth.”
Midoriya felt his face get hot and the uncomfortable urge to squirm came over him. “It’s just something that, um, someone said to me and I’ve been thinking a lot about it is all.” He bit his lip as the same thought he’d been agonizing over for days came to mind.
All Might had never dated anyone in the time that he’d been an active hero.
If Midoriya wanted to be like him, to be the number one hero and symbol of peace, then was dating ever even an option? He’d never actually thought about it before, so caught up in his dream. Three years ago if he’d been told romance was out of the question, he wouldn’t have cared. And, even if it was the truth now, he knew he would still pursue this dream anyways. But when he thought about the floating high he’d felt when he’d made Todoroki really laugh for the first time, or the warm syrupy feeling he’d got when Todoroki quietly confided in him, he didn’t want to let that go either. He didn’t want to live with those feelings just a finger-length away for the rest of his life.
“Romance has always been a difficult subject for heroes.” All Might’s voice brought Midoriya back to reality. “Our lives are dangerous and our jobs have to come first, we can’t change that. But nor can we change what our hearts desire.”
Didn’t Midoriya just know that. His heart sank at the implications of All Might’s words. “So you think we shouldn’t.”
“That isn’t what I said.” All Might stood up again, dusting off knobbly knees with bony hands. “I will tell you something that my mentor once told me when I was young. She said ‘All true heroism born from love’. I didn’t believe her then, but I do now. It may not be romantic in nature, but it is our love of others, of our country and our people, that drives us.” Midoriya nodded and All Might looked off into the forest. “I have many regrets in my time, but few that I feel as strongly as not allowing myself to love.”
“All Might,” He whispered, his mind reeling at the implications. “You-”
“Indeed.” All Might looked back at him, true blue eyes ablaze. “I feared, as I feel you may, that my feelings could be used against me. I was afraid that I might go soft or that my sentimentality might be seen as a weak spot. I have seen many heroes hurt in the name of their love for another.”
Midoriya swallowed and looked down at his scarred hands. He understood that too. He’d thought a lot about it over the week. “But there is something more that I realized just recently.” Midoriya looked back up at him, hope starting to stir in his chest. “Only now can I see that for as many people as I have seen hurt in the name of love, I have seen twice as many saved. I finally understand what Nana was trying to tell me that day, when she said those words to me. Love is our ally, not our enemy. It always has been. Love is the force that drives us as a hero, it’s our strength in our darkest hour. When we are pushed to our very limits it picks us back up and it keeps us going.”
The fight with Muscular came to mind. That monster of man crushing down on top of him, the unbearable force that he was sure would kill him. He had been ready to die, probably would have, if it hadn’t been for Kouta. He knew he couldn’t die when he still needed to protect Kouta from the same fate. It had driven him beyond what he’d ever thought possible, given him a strength beyond anything he’d ever known.
And not just Muscular; he had stood face to face with the monster that was Overhaul and overcome Sir Nighteye’s unchangeable fate, all because he’d sworn that he wouldn’t let Eri suffer for even one more moment. He’d watched the force of La Brava’s feelings revive Gentle and it had been his promise to Eri that had helped him overcome them. His feelings had been what kept him standing in those fights, harnessing a fire within him that he’d never even known was burning.
“As I told you, when I fought All for One I was certain my time had come.” All Might clenched his fist in front of him dramatically. “If not for the bond that we share as a mentor and student I would have allowed it to happen. But I knew I could not. I needed to come back; to scold you and to teach you. I couldn’t die there.” Midoriya nodded fiercely, noting that he’d also clenched his hands into fists without noticing. His heart thudded heavy in his chest as he felt himself unconsciously matching the fervour of All Might’s words. “I found a strength that not even I knew I had within me and here we stand, both alive and fighting fate itself. What is that if not love, Midoriya-shonen? What is it that allows us to go beyond and to reach Plus Ultra, if not love?”
He jumped to his feet again, and Midoriya could feel the passionate tears stinging in his eyes. “All Might!” He cried and All Might grinned at him.
“The path we walk will always be a deadly one and there will always be a chance that those we care about may be hurt along the way; I am not so naïve as to think otherwise. But whether or not they are willing to face that danger is a decision we must allow them to make on their own.” Steam coalesced around All Might and in an instant the All Might of Midoriya’s posters and fantasies was in front of him, a grin on his face and his fist outstretched. His voice boomed through the trees. “Never fear that love will make you weak or that it will stop you from being the best! It will only serve to make you stronger and drive you to Go Beyond!”
“Plus Ultra!” Midoriya screamed in response, caught up in the passionate speech, even as All Might’s muscular form vanished in a wave of smoke.
“That’s the young man I know.” All Might declared still grinning. “Now, we only have two short weeks left to train for the Sports Festival. It will be your last chance to carve your mark into U.A. before you move into the world of pro heroing! It could not be more vital that you succeed. Let’s get back to work, Midoriya-shonen!”
Midoriya nodded and bowed sharply, “Yes, All Might! Thank you All Might!” He shouted, “Please tell me about the secret technique that you tried out when you were young, All Might!”
Although All Might’s speech had emboldened and impassioned him, Midoriya quickly realized it had offered little in the way of concrete advice.
Todoroki was the kind of person who was stalwart in his beliefs, he always had been, and Midoriya wasn’t sure that anything he said would change his mind. Even if it could, Todoroki had been avoiding Midoriya like the plague ever since he’d confessed. Despite saying he wanted to stay friends, Todoroki was the first out of the classroom every day and he casually slipped out of the common room the moment Midoriya entered. He’d taken to eating his lunches outside of the cafeteria, though Midoriya wasn’t sure where. He started avoiding Uraraka and Iida as well; which, considering Iida’s relentless determination, was no small feat.
It was fine, even though it hurt. Midoriya told them not to bother him and stayed seated while Todoroki brushed past him. If Todoroki wanted space, then Midoriya would give it to him. Though he liked Todoroki in other ways, first and foremost they were friends. He would accept the rejection, he had to accept it, if their friendship was ever going to be repaired. He reminded himself of that every time he thought of cornering Todoroki and shoving his words back at him and every time Todoroki packed up his bag one minute early, just to beat Midoriya out of class.
Midoriya could do this.
He would just focus on the festival until Todoroki was ready.
Focusing on the festival wasn’t as simple as he’d hoped it would be. Even ignoring the dull heartache that lay in every glance at the back of the class, there were plenty of other obstacles in his way.
They were third years now and, sports festival or not, Aizawa wasn’t letting them off that easy. The rest of their teachers followed suit in varying degrees and there was a plethora of readings and assignments to finish before the week was up. That alone kept everyone holed away when they weren’t training.
And finding a place to train was no breeze either. Unsurprisingly, with the sports festival so close, the gym was constantly filled to bursting with students. Midoriya’s fighting style wasn’t best suited to practicing in a crowded room full of people he didn’t want to hurt. He would have gone out to the wooded area surrounding the school, but naturally Bakugou had decided to go to Midoriya’s favourite spot and start deforesting it. He had come to some variety of half-truce with Bakugou but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be a fight if tried to train there anyway.
It didn’t leave Midoriya a lot of options. He couldn’t go anywhere crowded, the USJ was too far for regular training and even the TDL was proving too full.
Midoriya had no clue if the roof of the 3A dormitory would be any good or not considering its slightly weird structure, but it couldn’t be worse than accidently kicking some poor second year across the gym and into four other students. He just needed a place where he could be properly alone and let loose without someone getting in the way.
He was only a few steps from the top of the rooftop stairs when he saw the door was already cracked open. Light spilled down the stairwell from outside and gave him pause, but it was the voice from outside that made him freeze completely in place.
“-ring yourself like this!” It was Yaoyorozu. She sounded the kind of frazzled that usually meant she was annoyed but not sure what to do about it. “You say it’s about not being distracted, but you’re distracted now, aren’t you?”
This was clearly a serious conversation. Midoriya slowly moved to take a step back down, resigning himself to having to find another place.
He stopped again when he heard Todoroki’s voice. “You don’t understand.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” Yaoyorozu huffed. Now that he was looking he could see just the hint of a silhouette through the door crack. “I just feel like you’ve…I don’t know.” She sighed with frustration. “You’ve come so far, Todoroki-kun. I didn’t expect to hear you talking again about how feelings make you weak. Of course I’m not going to agree with something like that. You’ve made so many friends and-”
“And this isn’t about friendship.” Midoriya knew right then and there that he should leave. He should turn right around and walk away, because they were almost certainly talking about him. And yet, he was desperate to know what Todoroki was going to say. It was killing him not knowing if Todoroki hated him, if he’d lied when he said he felt the same way and had been forced to keep it up. If that was why he kept avoiding Midoriya at every turn. Or if he’d told the truth; if he really did feel the same electric current between them that Midoriya did.
“It isn’t a fairytale, either.” Todoroki continued while Midoriya stayed frozen. “I don’t get to ride off into the sunset with him and everything will work itself out magically because I want it to. If Midoriya won’t think this through then I have to be the logical one. I can be the bad guy if I have to. I already have been. I-” Todoroki cut himself off, but Midoriya didn’t miss the way his voice wavered, or the choked off sound he made. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I already wrecked our friendship; he can’t even look at me. But what else was I supposed to do? Should I have lied to him? Would it have been better if I just told him I didn’t like him?”
“Oh, Todoroki-kun.” Yaoyorozu breathed softly and Midoriya’s chest ached at how lost Todoroki sounded. The shadow in the doorway shifted slightly. “You haven’t wrecked anything. And we both know lying wouldn’t have made anything better.”
“There’s no perhaps. You would have ended up right here saying the same thing.” She scolded him gently. “This doesn’t have to be so hard. I know Midoriya-kun doesn’t want to end your friendship like this. Come on, it’s Midoriya! This is the guy that still thinks of Bakugou as a friend after everything he’s said and done.”
“You didn’t see his face.” Todoroki said back, voice hollow.
“Alright, I didn’t.” Yaoyorozu admitted. “But I know him and I know how much he cares about you. Even if he was mad at you, he’s had plenty of time to cool off. You just have to give him a chance to say it. And, I know I already said it and I know you don’t want to hear it, but I honestly don’t see a reason not to try if you like him and he likes you.”
The shadows shifted again and Midoriya’s heart stopped when he heard footsteps, sure he was about to get caught. Todoroki was going to walk out into the stairwell and catch Midoriya eavesdropping.
There was no good way for that to end.
But the sound of footsteps receded and when he heard Todoroki again it was more distant than before. “There are so many reasons. What if someone hurt him to get at me? What if a fight between us put someone’s life at risk? What if I didn’t preform my best because he was in danger, or I was worried about him, and someone else suffered for it?” Inwardly Midoriya bristled, wondering bitterly if Todoroki really thought of him as being so weak or so unable to handle his emotions. “And can you honestly say we’ll have time to be going on dates when we’re running our own agencies? I’m going to be the top hero. I won’t drag someone into a relationship where I only use them for my own selfish needs and I won’t have time to be there for them.”
“You’re talking like we’re already full fledged heroes with our own agencies!” She protested. “We’re not even twenty, we’re just starting third year.”
“One year.” Todoroki said icily. “So you think that me stopping this before it starts is ‘torture’ but putting myself in a relationship for a year only to call it off when we enter the pros isn’t?”
“That isn’t what I meant and you know it.” Yaoyorozu’s voice also grew quieter, she must have followed after Todoroki. “I’m not going to pretend I know the answers to all of those questions, but I do know how much your friendship means to both of you, and I don’t want to see you lose it. Stop avoiding him and give him a chance to talk to you, as a friend if nothing else. I really don’t think he’s as mad at you as you think he is.”
Privately, Midoriya thanked Yaoyorozu for her backup. He was glad that Todoroki had someone reasonable to talk with, stubborn as he was.
There was a moment of silence before Todoroki spoke again, his voice even. “Thank you for the advice, but I’d rather not talk about it anymore.”
“It’s not going to go away just because you don’t like it.” Silence followed her statement until she huffed an exasperated sounding. “Fine. I’ll leave it alone.”
Trying to make as little noise as possible Midoriya walked back down the stairs, his mind spinning as he tried to process everything he’d overheard.
The next morning saw Midoriya eating his breakfast in the common room as he resolved to figure out how to handle the Todoroki Situation. Even though he knew he had to maintain his calorie count he found himself forcing every bite of tomago-gohan. He sat on the windowsill ledge, pushing the rice around his bowl and staring out at the rising sun blandly.
Things had gotten far more complicated than he’d ever meant for them to. He’d assumed his confession would either make or break his friendship with Todoroki, not put them in this strange limbo.
The first problem he had to deal with was that Todoroki apparently thought Midoriya was angry at him. It wasn’t a crazy leap of logic for Todoroki to make; Midoriya certainly had been angry at the time. In a way, he still was. But now he could see that he’d only made things worse by not seeking Todoroki out. Todoroki had been avoiding him not out of a need for space, but because he thought he’d ruined their friendship – ironic when Midoriya was afraid of the same thing. It was a comfort to know that at least Todoroki didn’t hate him.
It was kind of haunting to know that Todoroki really did like him back, though.
Therein lay the second problem. Even though Midoriya would certainly try to repair their relationship, there was bound to be an undeniable strain between them. There was no way things could go back to being the same, not when both of them knew they had feelings for each other. And, when he was being honest with himself, Midoriya knew he was still bothered by the things Todoroki had said. For all that he’d chided Todoroki for being stubborn, Midoriya had things he couldn’t accept either. He refused to think that the future Todoroki had laid out for them was the only possible one. But trying to change Todoroki’s mind on the issue would only lead to either a repeat of the confession with Todoroki brushing him off, or an argument that was unlikely to change anything. Yet, ignoring his feelings on the issue would only serve to make things more strained.
He was so caught up in thought that he didn’t notice when Yaoyorozu walked into the common area, or when her eyes landed on him. He did, however, notice when she sat down at the table next to him. He shut his thoughts away quickly while she set down her plate, as though she would be able to hear them. His eyes were drawn instead to the plate of perfectly stacked pancakes - doused in syrup and served with strawberries, a pile of bacon and at least six slices of toast. Briefly he wondered about the calorie total, he’d always been curious about her exact caloric intake for her quirk, but when she turned to face him panic overtook all rational thoughts.
He looked back at her in a way that he desperately hoped didn’t convey ‘I eavesdropped on your private rooftop conversation’. She smiled tightly down at him at and he couldn’t tell if he’d succeeded.
Yaoyorozu Momo had always been intimidating in a lot of ways. Her height, her beauty, her wealth, the plate of food she’d brought in with her, all of it was so perfect and so grandiose. She towered over him even with the added boost of the windowsill and Midoriya couldn’t help once again feeling awkward and nerve-addled in her presence. Yaoyorozu had claimed her spot at the top of their class academically for a reason, and now that she’d gained more confidence in her abilities she made for a rather terrifying opponent. He just couldn’t tell if they were on opposing sides this time.
“Hi, Midoriya-kun. You’re up early.” She said warmly as he shoveled rice into his face with anxiety fueled vigour. “How are you doing?”
“M’good! You?” He replied too quickly, mouth still full. Considering how properly Yaoyorozu was raised, she probably thought he was disgusting. But if so, her face didn’t indicate it.
“I’m good.” She said back and then glanced out the window. “It’s a nice morning.”
“Mmhmm.” Midoriya agreed and swallowed the food in his mouth – probably more painfully than was necessary. “Yeah, it is.”
The conversation went astonishingly smoothly after that. He was afraid she would bring up Todoroki but instead she made a bit of small talk about the time and then asked what he was doing for their Heroes and the Law assignment. Surprised, but always willing to talk about a hero, Midoriya told her he’d be doing the infamous Best Jeanist vs Lepidoptera fight that had gotten him charged with public indecency. She was doing the Hawks rescue where a victim had sued him for breaking his arm while catching him from a 30 metre fall. It was so mundane Midoriya almost forgot about the day before.
The conversation hit a lull and then, after a moment of silence, her face fell and she looked down at her now empty plate. She fiddled a little with the fork, drawing the tips through leftover syrup as she spoke. “It’s probably not my place to say it, but if he’s not going to then someone has to. You know Todoroki-kun still wants to be friends, right?”
Midoriya nodded solemnly. Even if he wasn’t sure quite how to mend things, he wasn’t willing to throw away their friendship either. “I still want that too.”
She whipped her head around to face him, exasperation written all over her expression. “See, I’ve been trying to tell him that all week, but he won’t listen to me!” She sighed and clicked her fork and knife together, placing them in the middle of the plate with exaggerated primness. “He’s being stupid about it and I don’t know why, but I know he cares. It’s just when he thinks he’s right it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say, because he’s right and he’s the only person in the world who can be logical about anything. It’s like words don’t get through to him when he’s like this.”
Yaoyorozu was obviously just venting her own frustrations, but her words hit a chord in Midoriya. He was struck vividly with the memory of Todoroki leaning down to light a fire in their first year, looking up at him with curious eyes and choosing his words carefully.
‘Words alone have to be pretty meaningful to move someone.’
Epiphany slammed into him like a tidal wave, washing away all of the doubt before it.
Yaoyorozu blinked at him in surprise when Midoriya shot up from his seat and thumped his empty bowl down onto the table beside her. “You’re right.” He said to himself more than anyone else. Of course Todoroki wasn’t listening, none of them were speaking to him in a language he could trust. “Words aren’t enough to get through to someone like Todoroki-kun.”
Hadn’t Todoroki told him it himself? Actions were what mattered.
And, really, hadn’t Midoriya known from the moment the words left Todoroki’s lips that he couldn’t accept an answer like that, no matter how hard he tried? It was why he was still struggling so hard when the answer should have been so simple. But the way Todoroki had spoken, as cold and emotionless as when they’d fought two years ago, and the way his voice had wavered on the roof - those weren’t the kind of things Midoriya could ignore. He wasn’t the kind of person who could stand by and watch Todoroki close himself off again without saying anything. The thought of that was just too sad.
But he also knew Todoroki, knew what he was saying wouldn’t change his mind even as he’d tried to. Todoroki wasn’t the kind of man to be swayed by empty words. He didn’t believe in intangible things like that.
“Are you okay?” Yaoyorozu asked hesitantly.
Maybe it was stupid. If it didn’t work he wouldn’t pester him further, but Midoriya had to at least try. He had never expected his admiration for Todoroki to keep blossoming into something beyond friendship the way it had, but it had. The boy who had declared war on him in the changing room had thawed into someone he couldn’t help but fall for. Brave and gentle, a little too naïve in some ways and a little too cynical in others, but with a moral compass that always lead him to try and do the right thing. Midoriya wasn’t ready to let go of the warmth he felt when he felt when he watched Todoroki soften around his friends, or the excited thrumming of his heart when he watched Todoroki stand unbreakable in the face of danger. He wasn’t ready to give up yet.
Todoroki believed in action. Then Midoriya would show him unequivocally that there was no weakness in having feelings. Even if it had driven Midoriya to tears, All Might’s speech wouldn’t move Todoroki. But that didn’t mean it’s message wouldn’t if it was delivered in a way that even Todoroki couldn’t deny. Midoriya couldn’t just challenge Todoroki to a match, of course, he’d made a promise to Aizawa and he wasn’t keen on breaking it again. But the sports festival was just over a week away. There they wouldn’t need to hold back.
He grabbed his chopsticks and bowl off of the table and moved to take them to the sink. He paused mid-step, looking over his shoulder with a smile, “Thank you, Yaoyorozu-san!”
Her eyebrows knit together in confusion. “It was…nothing?”
The week before the festival passed like a fever dream.
Although Midoriya went through the motions of training, sleeping, going to school and then training some more, it all blurred together when he tried to remember any of it. His mom called on Thursday to tell him she’d managed to get herself a ticket to the festival this year and would be there cheering him on in person. All Might snuck him into the TDL after hours so they could go over everything he’d learned. Aizawa was at least kind enough to put their homework on hold, but he still ran them through their paces and back during class time.
Todoroki continued to avoid him completely.
Midoriya refused to let it hurt.
He had always been a very goal oriented person. Now that he had a goal in mind he was able to pour all of his nervous energy into training towards it. If his feelings didn’t get through this time he would have to let it go, but at least he would do so knowing that he had done all he could.
He was sure Iida and Uraraka thought he was training harder to try and forget Todoroki, and Midoriya was content to let them think that.
It wasn’t as if he only had Todoroki on his mind. This was his third year sports festival, his last chance to impress the people he would be looking to for work. He had to make it in the pros or everything he’d done the past three years would mean nothing. He needed to win - for himself and for All Might as much as for anything else. This was a huge stepping stone towards his dream, towards filling the unfillable shoes All Might had left for him. Midoriya was not going to throw it away, no matter what. He would show Japan that he was worthy of the power bestowed upon him. He would prove to All Might that he had made the right choice that afternoon when he had chosen to raise Midoriya from his own ashes.
All Might had commended him on his focus and redoubled their training efforts in a fit of passion and inspiration when he’d seen Midoriya practicing on his own before class.
The night before the sports festival Midoriya had been ordered, by All Might, by his mother and even by Iida, to take it easy. They all let him know that he wouldn’t be doing himself any favours if he was exhausted from training the previous night (as if he didn’t know that himself). So he lounged around in the recreation area on the far seat, trying and failing to pay attention to Jirou curb-stomping Kaminari in a fighting game. It was hard for any of them to concentrate on the match, or anything else for that matter. Even Jirou only seemed half into it, and there were few things that got her more riled up than winning against Kaminari.
Todoroki walked into the room as she won for the third time in a row, his schoolbag still slung over his shoulder. It looked like he’d come through from the outside doors, which he’d been doing pretty often of late. Midoriya was sure he was training at the Todoroki residence. His eyes scanned the room, quickly landing on Midoriya.
Locking eyes with Todoroki was always an intense experience. Besides there being so much to look at, and besides him being the kind of handsome that made people like Midoriya sweat, Todoroki’s stare was intimidating in and of itself. He looked at people with the sort of focus that made them feel like they were under a microscope. Midoriya had come to appreciate that intensity, the way it felt like Todoroki really gave you every ounce of his attention when you had it. This time when their eyes met it felt different. There was something there, less intense, hidden under an impassive mask.
Midoriya stared back, raising his chin slightly. Todoroki looked away and silently walked to the elevators as Midoriya stared after him. He didn’t know what it had been behind Todoroki’s eyes, but he desperately wanted to. It was fine, he reminded himself, forcing his body to stay glued to the couch.
He would find out tomorrow.
If Midoriya were the kind of person who was capable of getting cold feet after he’d set his mind on something, the crowd probably would have given him pause.
The sports festival had always been big, and attracted a big crowd, but this time it was massive. The stadium was at least double the size of the one they’d competed in last year. With it being the third year event, consistently the most popular, the production around it had increased tenfold. They’d all needed to push their way past screaming reporters in order to enter the stadium and then again to get to the changing rooms. The boys buzzed about it as they changed into their gym uniforms, ribbing each other on who got the most screen-time. They only stopped when Bakugou got fed up with it and yelled at them to shut up because the media was only there to show them all losing to him. Iida then lectured him for demoralizing the class before such an important occasion.
Only Shouji, Koda, and Todoroki stayed out of the affair. Midoriya changed silently as well, unable to focus for long on anything but what was coming. His fingers trembled while he pulled up the zipper of his gym jacket, but he couldn’t tell if it was apprehension or excitement.
A hundred more conflicting emotions all warred for control while the class marched out in slow and deliberate formation. The sun beat down hot and the stands stretched on forever. A deafening roar surrounded them on all sides.
He searched the stands as he waited for the rest of the classes to take their places, trying to find his mom. It wasn’t easy, even with her in the friends & family seating. There were just so many people, and they were all so diverse. The person with the obviously avian head had to be related to Tokoyami, and he spotted Tensei sitting near the front. He found his mom just as the final business class took their place. Without One for All he probably never would have been able to pick her out; she was leaning over her seat, furiously waving a tissue and it looked like she was already crying.
Behind her, in the very back of the reserved seating, stood Endeavor. He would have been impossible to miss, even if he wasn’t on fire. He just had that kind of foreboding presence. His arms were crossed and even though he was too far away to actually know, Midoriya felt like he could still see the judgemental look in those eyes.
Snipe took to the podium on the field and explained the basics of the sports festival, rules they all knew by heart. Everyone knew it was only a formality for any new spectators and to clarify the rules, only Iida paid rapt attention. Two people to his right Bakugou yawned and didn’t bother to hide it. Midoriya smiled at his mom and waved as much as he dared, hoping it might reassure her a bit.
As the winner of the second year sports festival, it was Todoroki got the honour of giving the Class A speech for the third year’s sports festival.
It was certainly a change of pace from the speeches (declarations of war) Bakugou had given the last two years. If Todoroki was bothered by the endless sea of people watching, he didn’t show it. There was no emotion on his face as he bowed humbly and gave a short, but Iida worthy, speech on how everyone would do their best to give their all this year and how honoured they all were to be able to participate.
When he’d looked up from his second bow, his eyes focused on Midoriya’s again, but the blank look from last night was gone. This time his eyes were filled with fire and Midoriya’s heart skipped a beat. He’d always liked that passionate look, even if now wasn’t the time.
Todoroki made his way offstage and Aizawa walked up the stairs to take his place, stopping in front of the microphone standing in awkward silence. After a moment of rustling, Principal Nezu popped out of his scarf with a grin. The principal used his added height to grab the microphone from the stand, but continued to hang from their homeroom teacher, one hand grasping onto his bandages and the other the microphone.
“Hello everyone! It’s the wonderful creature that you all know and love - not a bear or a mouse or a dog! What is it? Why, it’s the principal of course!” Midoriya could see a few eye rolls from the other students at Nezu’s usual antics. “Lately, with all of the commotion happening around Japan, I’ve noticed that my fur has going dull with stress. It’s been quite a problem! But just seeing how many of you have taken time out of your busy lives to come and support our students, I can feel it’s lustre starting to return to me at this very moment! On behalf of all of U.A.’s teaching staff I would like to thank you for coming to see the sports festival this year!” Cheers went up around the stadium and Midoriya finally managed to spot a lanky figure a few rows above and to the right of his mom, with bright blonde hair. All Might looked like he might be smiling, but it was hard to tell.
The large screen behind Nezu and Aizawa lit up and began to cycle through a list of potential sports events, moving too quickly to read. “I know Snipe has already explained all of the boring rules to you,” He said into the microphone, “So I’m sure you’re ready for us to get to the first event!” The crowd screamed in response.
There was a large area of the stadium that was blocked off by metal walls. They were disproportionately tall, and completely obscured off the area. It all but screamed ‘the first event is here!’. “The first event this year is…” Everyone’s eyes turned to it. Nezu gestured enthusiastically with the microphone and the screen behind him stopped scrolling as the metal gates dropped below the stadium floor. “…last man standing!”
What was revealed looked like a scene from one of Kirishima’s outdated Kung Fu movies. Dozens of massive wooden poles stood at least 10 metres tall, explaining the insane height of the metal gates. Each pole looked like it was only just wide enough for one person to stand on comfortably and the space between them was small enough it would be an easy hop from one pole to another. A safety net ran between them about a quarter of the way up. Bright red tape marked a rectangular border around the area.
“The goal is simple!” Nezu declared with delight, swinging on Aizawa’s bandages, “Be the last one to be eliminated and you win! Only the last 42 people remaining will make it to the next round. If you exit the area marked in red, you lose! If you touch the net or the ground, you also lose! Once you’re out you’ll have to leave the area immediately for safety reasons. All quirks are allowed, of course, but keep an eye on how you use them. For those of you with quirks that connect to your body, we will consider those touching the net or ground while still attached to you as a loss as well. And because you’re all third years, this time we’ll even allow for the destruction of property! Just make sure you keep it in the designated area or I will be forced to sue you.” Nezu laughed and the crowd, who probably thought he was joking, laughed too.
“You’re almost heroes now, so you should know what you’re doing. That’s why I won’t be accepting any questions.” In front of where Midoriya was standing he saw Iida lowering the hand he’d been just about to raise. “After all, a hero doesn’t always know everything that will happen when he’s on the job and will be forced to adapt. I want to see your resourcefulness and zeal truly shine though! For you students who are about to enter the world of heroes, this is your last sports festival! All of Japan, including the Pros, will be watching you so I want to see every single one of you go beyond!”
“Plus Ultra!” Midoriya shouted in tandem with the rest of the stadium.
Midoriya couldn’t be happier for all of the balance and flexibility training he’d done with All Might. This was a trial of so many abilities that went beyond punching; if he lost his balance at any moment the festival would be over for him.
And the first few moments of the match were going to be chaos.
Everyone started off on their own pole, but more importantly every single pole was occupied. There were more students than ever before, presumably students from general, support and business classes who chose the final year to participate. It made for a claustrophobic area, with everyone surrounded on all sides.
It also meant the only way to move was to make an area to move to. Once the whistle was blown people would immediately begin to fight their neighbors. It was too risky to do, especially when Midoriya’s quirk and limitations would be so well known to his opponents.
To his right was the horned exchange student from Class B and to his left Testutestu. Neither he wanted an immediate hand to hand fight with. Behind him was Aoyama, who was a nice guy and someone Midoriya liked to count as a friend. He just wasn’t so nice that he wouldn’t blast Midoriya to hell and back if it meant getting to the next round. Iida was in front of Midoriya – too fast to predict where he’d go, or to catch right off of the bat.
There was only one option. A sharp whistle signaled the start of the match and Midoriya jumped, trailing green sparks as he leapt up – Nezu hadn’t put a limit on how high they could go after all. It turned out to be a good move; a glittering laser hit Tsunotori as she jumped to Midoriya’s pole, horns first.
But he also wasn’t the only person who had taken to going up.
In front of him a plethora of students rose into the air. Hatsume shot upwards with a rush of fire streaming from her elbows and feet, screaming the whole time. Shouji intercepted Monoma, who was floating in a way that looked reminiscent of Uraraka. Tsuyu swung around to his right, tongue wrapped around a pole.
“Deku!” Midoriya turned around midair to see Bakugou blasting his way across the stadium, face contorted by his trademark grin. “Get over here so I can finally murder you!”
Just as Midoriya hit the peak of his jump, and Bakugou was within reach, a massive shadow came between them, knocking Bakugou out of the air violently. “If I can take you out in this round, it will be easier for me later.” Tokoyami said as he followed, Dark Shadow’s momentum propelling him through the air. Even as he spoke Bakugou was already exploding his way back into the fray, coming just shy of the red marker for the boundary.
“Haaah?! You too scared to fight me properly?” Bakugou shouted back. “Cowards like you shouldn’t even get to enter competitions!”
Midoriya didn’t have time to see where their fight went from there, he was out of Bakugou’s sights for the moment and falling, fast. He aimed his body at the nearest pole, somewhere near the middle of the area. It was occupied by what looked like two fighting support students. He silently apologized as he aimed a kick in their direction. The resulting wind threw them both off of the pole just in time for Midoriya to land on it.
“Oh my!” Present Mic screamed over the intercom with delight. He was commentating the third year events this time. Midoriya wasn’t sure if it spoke to their rising popularity or Present Mic’s. “Already a quarter of the students are out! What a brutal battle for the top!”
Already a quarter? That had been even faster than he thought. Things were certainly looking a lot sparser, though. There were enough empty poles to freely move around, which of course only meant that the most dangerous players would have more freedom to fight in their chosen style.
Midoriya quickly tried to take stock of where the biggest threats were. Todoroki was to his right, and easy to spot. He had frozen his legs to his pole and the eight poles surrounding him all burned. He would be too difficult to approach at the moment.
And, unlike Tokoyami’s approach to Bakugou, Midoriya very much wanted for Todoroki to make it through the round.
Iida looked like he was playing the avoidance game, using his impressive speed to move from pole to pole and outrun any attacks. He was probably going to avoid fighting until only a few people remained, letting them take out each other. Midoriya couldn’t underestimate him, but for the moment he wouldn’t be a threat. Tokoyami and Bakugou were still engaged in battle overhead, now with Shouji also attacking both of them and flying away. Midoriya couldn’t see Uraraka, hopefully she wasn’t out already.
Midoriya made his way to the left and away from Todoroki. He had to stop abruptly when, in front of him, the pole Mineta was clinging to suddenly began to topple, taking out Jirou and Kendo who had been fighting over the pole next to it. Attached to the stump Midoriya saw Ashido grin, until she quickly realized she’d trapped herself down there, only a few metres from the net.
The pole beside Kirishima was unoccupied. He was still violently defending the pole he’d started on, a feat in and of itself. Taking him out in this round would be a relief; winning pure hand to hand fights against him usually took a lot of endurance. If he had to fight Kirishima early in the third round, it would be a hassle. Midoriya jumped to go him, but before his feet could touch the pole, he felt the familiar sensation of bandages wrapping around his body and trapping his arms at his sides. These weren’t quite like Aizawa’s wraps, however, they were sticky.
He was yanked sharply backwards, in an arc that would end on the ground. He followed the line of tape down to where Sero had taped himself around the waist to the middle of a pole. Even from this far, with One for All coursing though his veins like fire, Midoriya saw his grin and heard him call out “Sorry, but I don’t feel like losing again!”
Midoriya aimed his hand down towards the ground, pressing his thumb and index finger together, letting the power concentrate there.
Like a cup of water in a microwave, he reminded himself as he hurdled towards the net, his hand stinging with power. Hot, hotter, hotter than boiling.
He snapped his fingers at 70% and a wave of relief crashed through him when the bones didn’t shatter. But there no time to relax. He flew up sharply and the tape that held him connected with Sero started to tear Sero away from where he was taped to the pole. Sero let the tape from his arms go and the pressure that had been holding Midoriya’s arms tight went as weak as paper. He ripped his arms free from his sides, shredding the tape in the process and dropping into a free fall.
“Another 20 gone already!” Present Mic announced, “I hope you’re keeping your eyes glued to the action everyone! Almost halfway there and things are only getting hotter by the minute! Who will be victorious?!”
There was more talking over the action, Aizawa and Nezu’s voices, but Midoriya had more important things to worry about. The pole he had landed on was empty, but the one beside it burned. Through the fire he saw Todoroki raise his left hand, determination etched into his features. He wasn’t going to take it easy on Midoriya, no matter what round they were in. Midoriya jumped to the side just in time to avoid the jet of fire, but it caught a line of three poles in its wake. He punched the air in the direction of his friend. Four of the poles surrounding Todoroki went out, but the ice around his legs kept him rooted to the spot through the blast.
Midoriya moved out of his range and towards where he could see Tokoyami clinging onto a pole. Dark Shadow was cowering around the edge, subdued by the bright electricity surrounding Kaminari’s pole. In first year he never would have been able to electrify something so big without frying his brain, but it didn’t seem to be a problem for him now. It was a good chance to go after two big players while they were distracted.
Two things interrupted Midoriya before he got there; an explosion from a canon on his left and an explosion from his childhood friend on his right. The only way out, considering the fires blazing behind him, was forwards. He leapt towards the electrified pole and heard Bakugou cry out as he was hit squarely in the chest with a cannonball, courtesy of Yaoyorozu. Kaminari looked up as Midroiya flew towards him and reached out with both hands. The electricity around his pole died and came to life between his hands only for him to be tackled from the side by Dark Shadow. The force knocked him out of bounds and Dark Shadow hovered on top of the pole, obviously ready to take on Midoriya now as well.
He angled his body slightly downwards, aiming for the middle of the pole. Dark Shadow realized his change in trajectory too late. All he needed was his feet on the pole. It was enough to kick off and send him racing towards another pole. The pole he jumped off of toppled into Tokoyami’s but Midoriya didn’t have time to see if it had taken him out. He wrapped his arms and legs around the pole he nearly crashed into. It wobbled violently but stayed upright, and Midoriya thanked god for that.
At least until he looked up and saw a vicious grin directed his way. Bakugou laughed manically as he pointed both of his hands down and yelled “DIE!” at the top of his lungs.
He didn’t have time for anything else. Midoriya dug his left hand into the wood of the pole and raised his right hand, thumb and finger together. His fingers sparked green and he hoped desperately that he wouldn’t blow the pole he was clinging to apart in the process.
Bakugou’s hands glowed orange hot but the expected blast but never came. A pink string – no, a tongue - wrapped itself around Bakugou’s midsection and pulled him away in a high arc as he screamed his protest.
It was good to know Tsuyu had survived so long.
Midoriya scrambled to the top of the pole as quickly as he could; there was no time to relax. He had to get back in the fray. Thusfar he’d only run – it was past time to prove himself.
The area was a wreck. Poles were toppled, the net was broken and ripped all over and fires burned all around them. Tsuyu was expertly hopping from pole to pole to avoid Bakugou’s enraged explosions, which weren’t helping.
“Can you believe it?” Present Mic screamed in English and then switched back to Japanese, “Three quarters of the students are out now! Less than 60 remain! Somewhere in here is the winner of the sports festival! Who will it be?”
Midoriya finally moved to the empty pole in front of Kirishima. Kirishima grinned at him, his features warped and hardened by his quirk. “We gonna do this like men?” Kirishima asked, raising his fists, “Then let’s do it!”
Kirishima’s wide stance took up the full diameter of the pole, and didn’t give Midoriya any room to join him. He had no choice but to hit him and bounce back to get a foothold on another pole. It didn’t help that fighting Kirishima was a little like punching a brick wall that could punch back. He was tough as nails against brute force. For all that Kirishima groaned under the pressure of Midoriya’s hits, he they weren’t wearing him down any.
He took a breath and reminded himself that he didn’t need to do this Kirishima’s way, he just needed to win. Punching Kirishima into submission would take too much time and energy - pushing Kirishima 30cm back was a much more achievable goal.
Midoriya jumped up high and came down at Kirishima at an angle, feet first. Kirishima grinned as he raised his arms and withstood the pressure. The smile dropped off of his face when he realized that he’d slid backwards so that only the balls of his feet remained on the pole. Midoriya dropped down and readied a punch. With both feet on solid ground it didn’t take much to spend Kirishima flying off of the pole and, heavy as he was when hardened, he dropped like a rock.
“We have the final fourty two!” Nezu’s voice trilled across the stadium just moments before Kirishima hit the net. “Congratulations to everyone still remaining, you’re all going to the next round! But who among you will come out on top? Just like in the real world, there are advantages to be had by those who prove themselves even among the best! Don’t give up now; fight on until the bitter end!”
Midoriya grinned and jumped to an empty pole. Or, at least he had thought it was empty. When he landed he pushed against something soft, but solid. There was a high pitched scream and Midoriya saw the net under him bounce. “Sorry, Hakagure-san.” He said before quickly turning his gaze back to the battle.
Now that they had all made it through there was nothing holding him back.
In the end Bakugou got his wish. With only four people remaining on the field he came up behind Midoriya and landed an explosion dead into the middle of his back. Midoriya saved himself from a nasty fall by cushioning it with a tornado kick, but he wasn’t able to get high enough to grab onto any of the remaining poles. Todoroki shot down the balloons keeping Yaoyorozu afloat with a concentrated stream of fire quickly after.
Then it was only Bakugou and Todoroki remaining, leaving twin trails of destruction in their wake. Todoroki had long been forced to abandon his pole and they were leaping around and wrecking the last remaining five footholds. The game of cat and mouse couldn’t go on for long, and ended with them both of them sharing the final pole. It didn’t have room for two, but both refused to move. Todoroki reached out at the same time Bakugou, ice clawed its way down Todoroki’s leg and the pole, their hands came together and a resounding boom echoed across the stadium.
Bakugou went flying backwards. He tried to save himself with another explosion, but it was too late. They had been too close to the border, and Bakugou had been flung out of bounds.
He couldn’t be sure, but Midoriya’s guess was that Todoroki had lit the nitroglycerin on Bakugou’s hands before Bakugou’d had the chance to do it himself. Without getting to prepare himself, the force of the explosion had been enough to send Bakugou flying. Todoroki had used his left hand after all, and it would explain why he’d frozen himself to the pole.
Midoriya waited for the end of the match to get called as Todoroki freed himself. But even after ten seconds passed it didn’t happen. Neither Present Mic, Nezu or Aizawa said a word as murmurs rose from the crowd. Which meant that Midoriya had been wrong – there had to be someone else left in the match.
But that didn’t make sense, Hakagure was already out. Midoriya’s eyes scanned the ground in confusion, but he didn’t see anyone there either. He looked up but he couldn’t see anything other than a small dot in the sky. He squinted, and it looked a tiny bit bigger.
His jaw dropped as it hit him. It was impossible. It was brilliant.
After all, hadn’t his first thought been that Nezu hadn’t put a limit on how high they could go?
The dot began to take shape as it grew larger and pride swelled in his chest. Midoriya couldn’t stop himself from grinning and cheering as Uraraka came into view, falling at a breakneck speed and slamming down onto the pole Todoroki was on. Todoroki only realized what was happening at the last moment, he’d still been busy icing over the pole to try and catch the other person.
Todoroki tried to raise his right arm to stop her but it was already too late; her feet shattered through his last minute ice shield and crashed into him. Todoroki went flying off of the pole, shock etched onto his face as he tumbled onto a shredded net and then fell to the ground. Uraraka’s face splitting smile was plastered all across the stadium screens. She floated above the wreckage and pumped one arm up into the air triumphantly.
“Unbelievable! Who could have seen this coming?” Present Mic was barely audible over the screaming crowd. Midoriya screamed with them. “The winner of the first event of the third year sports festival - with a use of her quirk that is out of this world - is Uraraka Ochako!”