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Us Against The World

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Izuku doesn't remember his father a lot.

 

And that's mostly due to the fact that the man was never home.

 

Hisashi Midoriya was always a busy man. From his early morning commutes to his late night arrivals, not much time was left for Izuku to truly bond with his father. To Izuku, the man was always associated with something akin to a mystery.

 

Don't get him wrong, he loved his father....but he barely knew him. Or even got to see him for that matter. But he loved his father and he liked the matching curly hair he got from him and the peppered freckles splattered on both of their cheeks. And Mommy liked it too because she always told him so.

 

"Your hair is so untamable- just like your father's."

 

"Oh, Izuku! You got dirt all over your face; I can barely see your freckles. You know, your father had freckles too when he was younger..."

 

And he loved it when she said that. It was the only reminder he had of the man he never saw but loved nonetheless.  However, the day his father walked out that door one night in the dead of night, Izuku didn't feel sad or upset.

 

He felt nothing.

 

Mommy had dragged him out of bed and him, being groggy and half-asleep, did nothing but let himself be manhandled. She steered his stumbling feet towards the hall, where he blinked his half-lidded eyes at the man standing beside the door, suitcase on the ground next to him.

 

Years later, he'll know that those heated arguments his parents quietly shared when they thought he was asleep was a clear sign something was wrong and that the disagreements over the smallest of things were becoming too much for his mother to bear.

 

But right now, at this moment, Izuku doesn't know that- or to put it in another way, he doesn't understand- and he wouldn't for a long time. But what he does know now, even with his semi-conscious brain, is that Mommy is upset. Terribly so.

 

Her hands had been shaking by her sides as he had clung to her nightgown.

 

“I don’t understand why you can’t just work from home?” Inko had said, a final protest that was destined to fail before it was even uttered from her lips. “I know things have been difficult for us lately, but that doesn’t mean you should just up and leave like this. How do you think this will affect Izuku? Or me? Please. Don't go.”

 

But you see, it was already too late.

 

It turns out, his mother never knew Hisashi had agreed to the job long before the prospect of said job even brushed past her ear. And so she had no choice but to watch him pack his bags and open the door.

 

“I’m sorry,” It was a cheap apology, and one that hardly mattered to Inko. “But I already agreed to this and besides, I’m only a phone call away.”

 

“But Izuku-“

 

“-Will be fine,” He had told her, so nonchalant despite the growing concern that Izuku might not even remember him much if he left so soon. “Right, champ?”

 

Something warm and large ruffled his soft curls and Izuku looked up to meet his father's small smile. He stares back in return. He knows it's rude to not reply but Izuku was too tired to care. He just wanted to go back to bed.

 

Drowsily, he watched his father squeeze his mother's hand goodbye and dissappear out the door.

 

And that was that.

 

No kiss on the cheek. No wave goodbye. Not even a glance back.

 

Did his father even notice how desperately Mommy was staring at him? Izuku doesn't think so but he doesn't think too much about it before he's drifting back to sleep.

 

In the future, many years away from that fateful night, Izuku will come to learn that what transpired that night would be the very thing that broke his mother's heart. Not their arguments or the odd tensions that had been growing between them, but the fact that his father left them for a faraway country and didn't look back.

 

But that was then and this is now. For now, it had currently been a month since his father had left for a distant job and in that time, Izuku hadn't noticed that much of a difference in his daily life.

 

Mommy still cooks him breakfast, takes him to preschool, and plays heroes with him. To him, nothing had changed much- but for his mother, everything had.

 

Izuku may not know why Mommy fiddles with the ring on her finger a lot or why she looks at the phone so much, but what he does know is that she's sad and very, very worried.

 

By now, at the age of five, he knows that Mommy worries a lot. Like just yesterday, he had scrapped his knee on the sidewalk and she had practically turned him into a mummy with the amount of bandages covering his knee.

 

And that's okay, it just means Mommy loves him so much.

 

But it's also not okay because Izuku doesn't like it when Mommy worries, and she's been doing that a lot lately. Sometimes he wonders what she's worried about, mostly because he thinks there is nothing to worry about.

 

There are a bazillion superheroes saving people every day and what's more is that All Might is out there saving the day. To him, there's nothing to fear- so why is Mommy always upset?

 

It's a question he asks himself every time he sees Mommy curse at the phone in her hand and it's a question he asks himself now, as he watches his mother pace the living room floor. He doesn't know who she's calling but they never pick up.

 

Izuku had been coloring while Mommy had been cooking dinner. The All Might drawing he was working on was a mess of yellows and blues but Izuku thought it was amazing and was so excited to show Mommy- when he heard the monotoned call of a voicemail.

 

In reality, the voice wasn't much louder than the tv but to Izuku, but he turned around anyway. His mother was leaning forward, her head resting on the kitchen countertop. The phone was gripped tight in her hand. There had been a fight playing on the television but it's become mere background noise as the voicemail came to an end.

 

Then it was silent- save for the sizzle of the pan and the explosions coming from the tv- and Izuku watched. Watched as his mother rubbed her face. Watched as she hastily made her way towards the sizzling pan- but not before he sees the expression plastered across her face, the same look she makes all the time she thinks he can’t see; her eyes get glassy and the corners of her mouth curl down into a frown, but what’s more noticeable is the way her hands unconsciously fiddle together- something he does too. It’s something he does when he’s scared or nervous or worried and the only reason he does that is because he’s seen Mommy do the same thing.

 

Izuku knows a lot at the age of five. He can count, read his books all by himself, and write his own name. But Izuku doesn't know about this.

 

Sometimes, late at night and past his bedtime, Izuku will sneak into the kitchen for a snack to find Mommy messing with a phone in her hand. She’s always whispering so quietly that Izuku has to be closer hear her but he can’t do that because if he does, then she’ll know he’s awake and get mad and then he’ll get in trouble. Izuku doesn’t want her to be mad at him; she looks mad enough as she harshly whispers words he doesn’t understand yet.

 

It’s times like those that Izuku doesn’t need to understand big boy words to know that Mommy’s mad at the person on the phone. But the thing is, he doesn't know why his mother argues with someone on the phone late at night or why she sometimes stares off in a daze with bags under her eyes.

 

Either way, Izuku doesn't like it when Mommy is mad but he hates it more when she is sad.

 


 

 

It's been five months since his father had left hallway across the world but to Izuku, it still felt like he was there.

 

When his father was home- those rare times on a blue moon- it was always tense, like waiting for a hero and a villain to fight. Izuku never knew what the odd tautness in his home was about but whatever it was, it was suffocating. Izuku had more than enough nightmares about a villain stealing him from his bed, only to wake up to Mommy and his father arguing in the living room.

 

And they did that a lot: argue.

 

But when his dad left, Izuku wondered if this weird feeling would leave. So he waited. And waited.

 

But the tense, imaginary bubble enclosed around their home still remained. It was like glass hanging above their heads. Like a dark raincloud that never rumbled- and it was worst whenever Mommy tried calling someone, only to receive silence on the other end. She stopped smiling for a while after those times.

 

It was hard for Izuku because he wanted to help Mommy. He wanted to make her happy as she did for him whenever he scrapped his knee or cried at the mean word Kacchan called him.

 

He wanted to make her smile the same way All Might did for him whenever he saw his hero on tv.

 

But, as the five-year-old he was, Izuku wasn't sure how to do that.

 

It was even more confusing to not know what to do about the frown Mommy seemed to constantly wear most days. The phone was practically glued to her side, her eyes constantly darting to the blank screen.

 

Izuku wasn't sure why she always did that; maybe she was waiting for someone to call. It makes him sad thinking about it because they never answered and Mommy always got sad everytime they didn't. She had started doing that daily as soon as his father had left for his job. It's been five months since then.

 

And so, as Mommy lifted up the watering tin, he was trapped in that wave of helplessness a child like him should never feel when he caught sight of the eyebags under his mother's eyes. It was confusing- these new and overwhelming emotions.

 

"Do you want to water them?"

 

Izuku looked up.

 

Mommy was smiling today; not a big smile but she was smiling and that was very startling to Izuku. It had been a while since she'd last smiled.

 

Izuku tilted his head and looked over at the blooming pink flowers perched on the balcony. Well, they would have been pretty- if they weren't nearly wilted. When he had first seen them in the window of a flower shop, half dead from the relentless sun, Izuku knew he had to get them. 

 

He begged Mommy to save them. Mommy hadn't been as distant that day and with his puppy-dog eyes, it had taken all but five minutes to convince Mommy to buy them, as wilted as they were.

 

"Yeah!" He beamed, hastily grabbing the watering tin with eager hands and all but dumping the water onto the poor flowers.

 

"Now, hang on there," Mommy chuckled and it was music to his ears. She hadn't laughed in a while. "You don't want to drown them."

 

Izuku pouted but relinquished his hold on the watering tin. Mommy reaches over and with a gentle wave of her hand, the watering tin was slowly floating towards Mommy. Izuku watches, memorized. Mommy did this a lot at home but still, it never got old.

 

He had asked how she did it once; how she used her quirk- becuase if she could do it, maybe he could too

 

I let my quirk guide me," She told him. "And all I do is pull it towards me." It didn't make much sense but oh well, it was still pretty cool. 

 

"There," Mommy said when she finished watering the plants. "Now they're all nice and fed."

 

Izuku peered at the flowers, still wilted but colorful. Brighter almost. "I think the flowers are happy." He said cheerfully. Mommy looked at him with a tenderness in her eyes.

 

"What makes you say that, Izuku?"

 

Izuku shrugged. He wasn't sure how to explain the weird sensation he felt whenever he watered the flowers. How they seemed to call to him whenever he was near.

 

Izuku reached over and touched a petal. It was wrinkly yet soft and it felt warm under his finger. "Do you think they're happy?" He asked.

 

Mommy ruffled his hair again. "Of course." She said simply, smiling.

 

Izuku couldn't help but grin back. This was nice, watering plants with her. Mommy hadn't played with him much all week; she just kept staring at old picture books all day.

 

Izuku didn't know what was interesting about them. When he looked inside, all he saw were people in fancy clothes, dancing and laughing.  No words. No colorful pictures. Nothing but boring old pictures.

 

Mommy was sad those days.

 

He never liked it when she was sad.

 

"Izuku," He perked up at his name and turned his gaze away from the flowers. She was staring at him, her smile still there but less...happy. "I have exciting news to tell you."

 

Oh? A grin broke out on his face. What was it? Did she have a surprise for him? He loved surprises. Maybe he would get another All Might toy! Or a new comic book! He wasn't sure what the words said yet but he liked the pictures. Or maybe it was-

 

A giggle broke him out of his head and a hand ruffled his hair again. "Not that kind of surprise, sweetie." Mommy laughed and Izuku flushed. "It's a different surprise."

 

"What kind of surprise?" Izuku murmured, his ears still red from his accidental muttering. All the kids at school always said it was weird so he tried not to do it as often but sometimes he couldn't help it. It just came out!

 

"Well, " Mommy kneeled down. "It's a special doctor's appointment-"

 

“For what?” He asked, his tongue sticking out as a thought pops in his head. “Am I going to get another shot? Ew!”

 

"No. This one is a bit different."

 

Izuku blinks at Mommy. “Then what’s it for?”

 

He sees the unconscious twitch of her fingers and frowns. What was wrong?

 

“It’s- it’s a quirk appointment.”

 

The worry melts, morphing and solidifying into something else: excitement. It practically glows in his chest, so much so that Izuku’s sure he’ll burst with happiness. The wide grin he beams at his mom shines with intense emotion and tears prickle at the edges of his eyes but it’s not sad tears, it’s happy tears.

 

He finally gonna find out about his quirk!

 

Everyone at school had theirs and now it was his turn!

 

 

"My quirk?" The words practically burst out of his mouth. “That's so cool! Oh! Oh! Do you think I’ll get a quirk like Best Jeanist? His quirk is weird but cool! I saw him on TV the other day and he took down this huge villain with a shark quirk without even moving! He went like “You’re under arrest, villain!” and then he went Wam! He didn’t even need to move to save the day! Oh, oh, do you think he can control any fabric? Because my shirt says it’s made of cotton and my shorts are made of something called denim? I don’t know what that is but still-  can Best Jeanist really control any fabric or just certain kinds? What if the villain has no-"

 

He doesn’t notice the lingering gaze set upon him and he misses the wobbly smile on his mother’s lips. There are tears prickling at the corners of her eyes too but they aren’t about happiness, they’re about worry; a never-ending spiral of thoughts she can’t help but ponder over.

 

What if....

 

What if-

 

No!

 

She can’t bear to even hint at the single possibility that he might not even have one because if she does, then that lone thought will rear its’ ugly head and Inko doesn’t the mental capacity to think that saddening and horrific possibility.

 

The possibility that Izuku doesn’t even have a quirk at all.

 


 

 

The doctor's appointment couldn't come faster.

 

The week seemed to drag on and on and as the days passed, Izuku grew more restless for that fateful day to come.

 

"Oi, Deku!" Kacchan had snapped at him once during recess time. "Stop talking. We're trying to play over here and you're being annoying."

 

Another day, Izuku would have cringed and apologized weakly but today was a special day. Today was the day of his quirk appointment!

 

"Sorry, Kacchan!" Izuku grinned. "I'm just excited. I'm going to the doctor's today. They're gonna tell me about my quirk!"

 

Kacchan blinked at him. And then laughed. "Like a Deku like you could get a quirk."

 

Izuku opened his mouth, ready to say that he wouldn't be a Deku for long- when Kacchan turned back around and continued playing.

 

He tried not to let it make him sad. Tsubasa and Yasutora would call him a crybaby again and he didn't like it when they called him that.

 

Luckily, his downtrodden mood didn't last long fore before Izuku knew it, Mommy was taking him to the clinic.

 

It takes a while to get there- longer than Izuku likes- but when he sees the sign that says “Clinic” hanging above a very shiny door, he races over to push it open for Mommy.

 

Mommy says thank you and smiles at him, which makes him feel warm and fuzzy inside, and then he rushes inside to meet the doctor.

 

Except it turns out he has to wait even longer to see them and Izuku is not really happy about that.

 

“Don’t worry, sweetie,” Mommy whispers in his ear as he pouts. “We won’t have to wait very long.”

 

And lucky for him- and his mother's sanity- they don’t have to wait long and it’s not even five minutes after they’ve come that the doctor calls them inside.

 

Once they’re inside, Izuku tries his best to sit very still while the doctor- woah, he's old- performs his checkup. The doctor even takes some of his blood- he makes sure not to cry because he’s a big boy and big boys don’t cry- before the doctor says it was time to wait for the results.

 

By now, Izuku can’t help it anymore and ask the old-man doctor about his quirk. Mommy looks like she wants to say something but then the man actually laughs.

 

“Well sonny,” The old man chuckles. “It’s nothing too flashy and it’s more suited to the medical field more than hero work. Basically, I can see how injured someone is, whether it can be a paper cut or a broken arm. I won’t lie when I say it does get confusing at times; it’s hard to tell when the injury is serious or not, especially with internal injuries.”

 

Izuku grins gleefully at the doctor because that is so cool! He can tell if someone is injured or not and they would be great help in disaster situations like floods or earthquakes or-

 

Mommy taps him on the shoulder and Izuku ducks his head bashfully. Oops. He started mumbling again.

 

Surprisingly, the doctor doesn’t mind and, wow, that’s weird because Kacchan hates it when he talks like that and so do his friends so he tries not to do it that often. But he did and he feels really bad about doing that since Kacchan had called it an-oy-ing once and he doesn’t know what that means but it must be a bad thing and bad things are mean and Izuku doesn’t want to say anything mean to the old-man doctor.

 

However, Izuku doesn’t dwell on that for long because the results are here. It’s tucked inside an envelope that Izuku wants to rip open because he can’t wait anymore.

 

Izuku is practically bouncing in his seat now, his green curls swaying with his eccentric movement. His legs are swinging wildly at his growing impatience.  The clock on the far side of the room ticks on and on and Izuku tries- he really does- to hold in his question but the doctor’s taking too long so he opens his mouth… and stops because someone had taken it upon themselves to ask- but it wasn’t Izuku.

 

“So,” Inko blurts out and Izuku can feel her hands shaking. “What is it? What did you find out?”

 

The doctor stared at Mommy and she stared right back.

 

It was silent in the room and Izuku didn’t like it. He felt uneasy as he shifted in his plastic chair, his nerves growing into a gnawing anxiety that only happened whenever he didn’t feel like playing during recess or at lunch. His chest was beginning to feel tight and the urge to movie his hands was strong.

 

Finally, after two tortuous seconds passed by, the first sign of emotion broke through the lens of the old doctor’s glasses and he heard Mommy stiffen at the smile the old man gave them.

 

“Well, Mrs. Midoriya, I have good news for you-“ The tension drained out of the room- “It looks like your son has the ability to develop a quirk!”

 

Izuku couldn’t help the giant grin spreading across his face.

 

Absentmindedly, he hears the doctor's rough voice say something else but by now, he's not listening anymore.

 

He has a quirk.

 

He has a quirk!

 

A grin splits out across his face and he’s so happy and he can’t wait to tell Kacchan and Tsubasa and Yasutora and maybe they won’t make fun of him anymore! He can’t wait to tell Daddy when he gets home. He hasn't heard from Daddy in a while and Mommy was getting sad again...

 

But anyway- he’s gonna get a quirk!

 

He's gonna be a hero! 

 

He doesn't stop smiling for the rest of the day and by the time dinner comes, the giddiness over the good news hasn't stopped. His cheeks hurt from smiling so much but Izuku can't stop. He's just so happy!

 

Mommy is happy too and that makes this day all the better. They have katsudon that night in celebration and chocolate ice cream for dinner. Everything feels normal and good and nice and Izuku never wants this feeling to end.

 

And it stays that way too- until later that night.

 

“Sorry,” The phone seems to say. “But I can’t pick up the phone right now. Try calling again later or just leave a voicemail. I’m pretty sure my secretary can get it later. Bye.“

 

The phone beeps as the voicemail ends and Izuku removes the phone away from his ear.

 

“He didn’t pick up.” He mumbles, head hanging in a way that has his bushy green hair covering his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I’m pretty sure he’s just busy with work right now. His job makes him very busy and-“

 

“-Work a lot, I know.”

 

There's silence settling into the house and the tension that had been hanging around their home for months now crackles in the air. Izuku lifts his gaze from the ground to stare at Mommy.

 

Her lips are drawn into a tight frown, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears. The smile she had been wearing all day is gone and the happiness Izuku had been feeling dissipates at the sight of his broken mother.

 

He desperately wants to do something- make her smile- and he doesn't know how.

 

The confusion pains him as he sits back down to eat his ice cream.

The tension stiffening Mommy's shoulders makes his stomach queasy and Izuku can't help but push the now soupy slop around in his bowl.

 

Dinner ends on a bitter note and the once happy day ends on an even worse one.

 

Izuku presses his head against his bedroom door and listens.

 

“I-I know you've been busy these past few months but you can't even spare a few moments with your- No, no! It was his special day and you took that away from him! He was so excited to tell you and you didn't even have the audacity to call back?-  I- How dare you!“

 

Izuku sucks in a breath as the air seems to crackle. It feels like something is splintering, breaking, but he doesn't know what it is.

 

"You can't keep doing this! To us- to him."

 

There's a crack in Mommy's voice, a wobble in her tone, followed by a harsh sniff. Izuku can't bear to listen any longer.

 

He dashes towards his bed and scrambles for the covers. The plush blankets don't stop the shrill voice yelling outside his room but they do block out the light seemingly glaring at him from beyond his door.

 

There's a sudden shout of indignation and Izuku cowers in the covers, wishing it would swallow him because he doesn't understand. A whimper escapes his mouth and he crawls deeper and deeper into his blankets for an escape- then something bumps against his leg.

 

Izuku blinks despite seeing nothing but darkness and reaches around for the culprit. Something hard and pointy pokes his hand and Izuku pulls the object closer to him.

 

It's his All Might toy, red and blue and vibrant despite the glooming darkness engulfing him. Izuku holds the toy closer to him in a desperate attempt to ignore the yelling outside his room, eyes focusing on the bright smile painted on the action figure.

 

It's no secret that Izuku admires All Might because how could he not? All Might was the coolest, strongest, and greatest hero in the whole world. With his super strength and speed, there seemed to be nothing All Might couldn't do. He always saved people with smile and Izuku wanted nothing more than to do the same.

 

In the darkness of his bedroom, hidden in the covers of his blankets, Izuku whispers, "I want to be a hero like you. I want to make Mommy smile too."

 

The toy doesn't answer back and Izuku is alone with nothing but a dream.

 


 

Izuku is tired.

 

His eyes are heavy, his shoulders keep sagging, and all he wants to do is lay down on the soft grass. The sun above him is warm and tempting but he doesn't want to sleep; sleep is for nighttime and the sun is a clear reminder that is it not nighttime. Besides, he'd rather play than sleep.

 

Except his body says otherwise. A yawn tries its' best to crawl out of his mouth and Izuku combats the urge down. The stick he'd been using as a personal makeshift shovel sits loosely in his hand.

 

 He's been sleepy ever since he woke up; he couldn't sleep last night, not with Mommy and Daddy fighting again. But he knows he's not alone.

 

Izuku can tell Mommy didn't get a lot of sleep too because she yawned as many times as he had during breakfast.

 

Even from across the playground, Izuku could see that Mommy hadn't gotten any better. Then again, neither had he.

 

A yawn escaped Izuku's mouth as he absentmindedly rubbed his drooping eyelids. Immediately, he covered his mouth and glanced shyly back, hoping Mommy hadn't seen.

 

Luckily, she hadn't and Izuku let out a small sigh of relief.

 

If she saw him yawn, she would drag him back home for a nap and Izuku did not want a nap. He'd rather much stay at the park with his friends.

 

He really liked playing in the park. He liked how soft and prickly the grass felt on his skin and how warm the sun was. And the best part? You never knew what to find out here.

 

Just last Saturday, Kacchan let him go bug hunting with him and Tsubasa and Yasutora and they found a beetle.  It was brown and ugly and the coolest thing ever! Izuku was happy he was able to tag along because Kacchan never let him play with them that much but that's okay! It was just cause he can't play as many games with his friends since he doesn't have a quirk.

 

Yet.

 

Izuku was really excited to get his quirk. He wonders what it will be.

 

Maybe something cool like Kacchan's explosions, that way he could defeat bad guys. Or maybe something like Mommy's quirk. It would be pretty cool to be able to pull things towards him and he could help a lot of people get to safety. But what about breathing fire like Daddy? It would be neat to be shoot fire out of his mouth. Or what about super strength? Then he could be super strong and save people by lifting rocks and stuff.  Or what about-

 

“Oi, Deku!” Izuku jolts away from his thoughts at the sudden shout. Kacchan was standing a few feet away, a ball tucked under his arm.

 

"Oh. Hi, Kacchan," Izuku greets halfheartedly. A yawn tries to sneak out but he stubbornly stifles it with what he hopes is in a discrete way. "Did you need something?"

 

Izuku crosses his fingers for that something to be an invitation to play. 

 

It'd been thirty minutes since he and Mommy had arrived at the park and in the time that he'd been here, Kacchan and the other boys played with a ball while Izuku played with a stick. He tries to not be hurt when they exclude him; it's just until he gets his quirk. Then they won't exclude him anymore and they'll want to play with him!

 

But until then, none of his friends will let the quirkless boy play with them, and seeing Kacchan frown like that, he knows today is no exception. Guess maybe crossing his fingers didn't work.

 

“You're muttering again,” Kacchan says and it doesn't take a genius to hear the annoyance in his tone. Izuku tries not to flinch.

 

"Sorry, Kacchan. I'll try to be quieter next time." And Izuku really does try but sometimes the words just... spill out. It's hard to control something you don't even realize you're doing until people look at you funny. Which happens a lot.

 

Kacchan snorts. "You better, Deku. We're trying to play kickball over here and you're muttering is ruining the game for us. Besides, no one wants to hear you mumble again. It’s annoying.” He hears Kacchan grumble and something inside him shrivels up at the comment.

 

Izuku looks down. "Sorry."

 

The sound of crunching grass is how Izuku knows his friend has left. He lets out an audible sigh and goes back to playing with his stick.

 

He doesn't like how mean Kacchan can be but the explosive blonde is his friend and friends forgive each other. Maybe when he gets his quirk, Kacchan won't be so mean to him anymore.

 

Izuku absentmindedly pokes the dirt with the stubby stick. The sun was warm today and he's starting to get a little sleepy-

 

 A blast of yellow and orange flashes next to him, brilliant and bright. A boom resonates in his ears, filling his brain with the thundering echo that's loud, loud, loud. The smell of smoke obstructs the air and a thin cloud of grey swarms in front of Izuku's vision. Izuku coughs at the stench.

 

It smells like those brownies Mommy tried making that one time, smoky and burnt, along with a faint lingering sweet odor. And it's overwhelming, clogging his nose until all he can think of is a burned-down candy store.

 

Behind him, someone roars with laughter and it's shockingly distinctive despite the ringing bells in Izuku's ears. Izuku careens away from the smell and the sounds, coughing and covering his nose as he turns to stare at his intruder.

 

"Ka-Kacchan," Izuku manages to stammer out. "That was mean!"

 

Kacchan huffs and smirks. "No, it wasn't, you big baby. It was funny. Besides, it wasn't even a big explosion."

 

"But that wasn't funny-"

 

"My Mom told me I had to play with you," Kacchan interrupts and the invitation slams Izuku to a screeching stop. "I told her I didn't want to play with a stupid Deku but she said she would ground me from tv if I didn't and that I would make Auntie sad so-" A ball is thrown at Izuku's face and he barely has enough time to awkwardly catch it before his friend walks away "-come on, I guess. We need equal teams anyway so that means you’re going to be on my team. Not that I need you, of course.”

 

Izuku, still pale, is slow follow. 

 

He still thinks that hadn’t been funny at all.

 

Once they reach the playground, the two boys that had been waiting immediately grinned as they saw Kacchan- but when they caught sight of Izuku, they frowned.

 

“Hey, Katsuki! Why’s Midoriya playing with us?” Yasutora grumbles as soon as the boys reach them. A frown pulls at his mouth as he points his long fingers at Izuku. “He's no fun. ”

 

“Yeah,” Tsubasa says out loud, his wings flaring behind him. “He always cries.”

 

Something inside him curls away at the words and his face heats up. Izuku turns and looks away. “I’m not a cry baby.” He mumbles softly.

 

Sadly, either the boys don’t hear him or don’t care because their attention is back on Kacchan and the ball. It was like he wasn't even there.

 

Izuku tries to not be hurt by it and he tried much harder to not cry. His friends can be mean sometimes.

 

But it's okay. They're his friends and Izuku forgives his friends. He's sure they didn't mean it anyway.

 

Within seconds, the three boys are running off, jeers and taunts passed between them. Izuku, noting he’s being left behind, runs over to catch up.

 

His friends are kicking the ball by the time Izuku catches up. Breathless and tired, Izuku can only watch as the ball bounces between his friends. He's pretty sure he'll get a chance to kick it too.

 

And it seems like his wish will be granted because suddenly, the ball soars high above his head. So high, in fact, that the light from the sun disappears for a moment as the ball blocks the sun.

 

It lands a little to his left, on the opposite side from the other boys. Izuku doesn't hesitate to run. The others haven't noticed where it has landed yet so he has a head start. He smiles to himself.

 

This is his chance!

 

 He’s getting closer to it now, his feet scrambling over the crunchy material laying across the playground. He's getting closer and closer and- now!

 

Izuku rears his foot back and a cry of triumph resonates from within him.

 

“I got it-“ The words crash and burn at the harsh shove that sends him sprawling on the ground. The sound of a grunt and bouncing ball reaches his ears and Izuku blinks his eyes open to see what happened.

 

The sunshine blinds him for a moment and Izuku puts a hand against the sun’s rays to block the light. The ball he had intended to kick is soaring through the air now, his chance at getting a hit lost as Kacchan runs past him.

 

Kacchan looks over at Izuku as he passes. A snarky grin is pulling at his lips with mischief clear on his face. He doesn’t even stop to help Izuku up- not that the green-haired boy expects him to- as he runs off after the ball with a laugh.

 

“Better luck next time, Deku,” The blond calls out to him and Izuku sniffs, already feeling the tears prickling at his eyes. He bits his lip and squeezes his eyes shut.

 

He hates this. He hates how mean his friends are. He hates how tired he is. He hates how Mommy and Daddy fight. He hates how he doesn't understand why. And he hates that it makes him feel sad. It makes him feel weak.

 

The boys are all the way across the playground now.  Their laughter sounds far away but it's crystal clear in his ears.

 

They don’t even notice he’s not even playing anymore.

 

Loneliness burns at him but it doesn’t feel hot, only cold and numb as he pushes himself off the ground. Specks of wood chips cling to his arms like burs and his side hurts from the elbow Kacchan had shoved into his side.

 

As he stands in the middle of the playground, the echoing sounds of laughter ringing in his ears, tears clumps together in the corner of his eyes and he wipes them aggressively.

 

He’s not a crybaby.

 

He’s not a crybaby!

 

But the tears keep coming and coming, flowing down his face like a river.

 

“Look! Deku's crying!”

 

"What a crybaby."

 

Startled, Izuku looks up and sees three blurry figures standing before him. He hastily wipes at his eyes to cover up his tears. It doesn't help.

 

“'M not a crybaby,” Izuku manages to mutter despite the blurriness in his vision. He doesn't dare look up; he doesn't want to meet their boring gazes least they make fun of him again because of his watery eyes.

 

“Are too,” Tsubasa calls out as he points at Izuku’s face. “Your eyes are all red.”

 

This bit of information has his nerves going from a simmering to boiling and Izuku squezes his eyes shut.

 

“N-No, I'm not!”

 

“Are too! We should call you crybaby from now on. That fits you much better than Deku.”

 

“Stop it!” Izuku cries out, ripping his hands from where they shook by his side and gripping his head to cover his face. “I’m not a crybaby!”

 

“Crybaby! Crybaby!” The words ring in his ear, engrave itself into his brain, and sear and burn into his flesh. Izuku’s face feels hot and he lifts his hands to clamp over his ears in order to block the mean words. It doesn’t help much.

 

Ears burning red and tears blurring his eyes, Izuku spins around and runs away. But no matter how fast he runs, their words are as clear as the sun is bright.

 

Izuku is still rubbing his eyes when he reaches Mommy and by then, the bees buzzing under his skin prickle along his arm and all over his body to the point where nothing, not even running can bring this level of heightened awareness down. Even now, he feels the stares of his friends scorching his skin. The thought makes a shiver run down his spine and Izuku clamps down over his ears harder.

 

His fingers burrow into his skin, clawing, digging as he tries to shut the sounds out, eyes squeezing shut so he doesn't have to see their mocking grins. But he can still hear them and it makes his tummy feel bad. He doesn’t like this ugly feeling that makes him want to barf. He doesn’t like the buzzy bees tingling under his skin. And he doesn't like how he can still hear his friends laughing.

 

'I need to find Mommy,' He thinks. 'She always makes me feel better.'

 

And it was true. This wasn't the first time his friends had made him cry but whenever he did, Mommy was always there. She always there to comfort him and make him smile again and he desperately wanted that comfort now.

 

Yet, just before he reaches Mommy however, laughter rings through the air. It sounds like chiming bells. It sounds like music to his ears.

 

"Oh, Mitsuki!" Mommy giggles, her back to Izuku as she talks to Kacchan's Mom. "You can't be serious-"

 

Izuku halts and stares. Past the constant tears and running nose, Izuku watches his mother laugh. It makes him pause, his heart tight in his chest, because when was the last time Mommy laughed?

 

His hands drop to his side, hands unclenching as he stares at his mother's wide smile. The dark bags under her eyes are still there and the ring she constantly fiddles with sits preciously on her finger and yet Izuku hasn't seen his mother this happy- this carefree- since... since...

 

His father left.

 

Suddenly, Izuku doesn't think he should go to Mommy right now...

 

"Izuku?" He hears his mother call and Izuku hastily scrubs at his face. "Is that you, sweetie?"

 

"Yeah," He tries to sound happy, he really does, but Mommy must have heard something wrong because suddenly, she's there, kneeling down beside him on the grass.

 

"Hey, sweetie. My, my, someone looks like they've played too much. Are you feeling okay?" She asks and Izuku tries to not stare at the dark circles shadowing her eyes.

 

He really wants to say yes. He wants to go home and take a nap. He wants to watch tv. He wants to draw in his journal and play with his action figures.

 

He wants to ask her why his friends are mean sometimes. He wants to ask why she and Daddy fight. He wants... a lot of things.

 

But Mommy looks so tired, like someone who skipped too many bedtimes and from the frequent late-night phone calls he hears when it gets really dark outside, Izuku is probably right about that.

 

And it's because of this that Izuku starts to debate all his wants.

 

Mommy seemed to be having a good time with Kacchan's Mom while everyone else was playing. Sure, Izuku wasn't having a good time anymore but she was. He didn't want to ruin her day just because he didn't want to be here anymore.

 

"Nah," He says cheerfully, ignoring how wrong it feels. "I'm fine."

 

He waits with baited breath for her to say something; for her to see past the lie. But Mommy merely ruffles his hair and Izuku briefly regrets how easy the lie slipped past his lips. 

 

She smiles at him and he smiles back. It's easier than he expected and he feels awful because of it.

 

He knows it's wrong to lie to Mommy. He knows it's wrong to hide things from her but he doesn't want her to worry anymore or be sad or upset. He just wants to help her smile. So he ignores the ugly clench in his gut. He ignores how tightly his hands are clenched.

 

He ignores a lot of things.

 

Even the strand of grass leaning towards him.

 

And he misses the many more that follow.

 


 

In the future, years from now, Izuku would wonder when the lies began. During that day at the park? Later that night as Mommy tucked him into bed?

 

Izuku doesn't know, just that they were so easy to tell. Especially the first lie.

 

It was easy to brush aside any lingering guilt eating him alive as he told Mommy all the fun games he and his friends had played that day- but that was a lie because he hadn't had fun that day. It was easy to force a smile when all he wanted to do was cry- he wasn't a crybaby- as he told her a fabricated lie woven from a longing wish that his friends would be nice to him.

 

He knew lying was bad, Mommy always told him so, but seeing the smile on her face as she listened eased the guilt.

 

What he doesn't know- what he'll learn years from now- is that Mommy lies too.  And who knows, maybe she even knew he was lying as well.

 

Either way, wasn't it was funny how doing something so simple as smiling could hide the hurt inside?

 


 

Later that night, after Inko quietly leaves her son's extravagant bedroom, she wonders where she went wrong.

 

"Sixteen missed calls," Inko croaks as she paces the kitchen, the phone illuminating the kitchen from where it sits on the kitchen counter. "It's his day off and he doesn't even have the time to pick up the phone."

 

The phone screen shines brightly in the dimly lit room, the mocking text glaring at her from the depths of the phone. A sigh, tired and weary, leaves her lips.

 

She must sound so selfish right now; her husband was halfway across the world providing money for his family and all she couldn't think about was just one phone call in the midst of his very busy schedule.

 

But still, he could at least answer one phone call; text messages were nothing compared to hearing her husband's voice.

 

She should have fought harder to make him stay. God, why did she agree with that stupid business trip again? She should have argued more, told him to wait, made sure he was never sent so far away but it’s too late. What's done is done.

 

Her husband is across the sea and she is here, standing in the middle of her gloomy kitchen, wallowing in self-pity of missing her husband.

 

Oh, her neighbors must think her mad. It's the middle of the night and she's having a nervous breakdown over something that was more than out of her control.

 

A bitter laugh tumbles past her lips. If Hisashi were here, he would tell her to not think too much. I'm only a phone call away, she can hear him say, as distant as a whisper and as soft as one too.

 

Inko twists the wedding ring sitting loosely on her finger. If only she'd made him stay.

 

Then again,  would life be the same as it was before Hisashi left?

 

It's funny when she thinks about it. Their marriage was on the brink of falling apart, arguments sparking whenever they were in the same room, and yet she still loved him. How could she not when all she could remember was how nice it had been in the beginning?

 

Sometimes during those rare moments when her boy is too engrossed into the television to notice his mother isn’t listening to his rants anymore or when she’s all alone in the house- Izuku having been dropped off at daycare- it's s simple to become lost in the ghost of memories from long ago. Good memories, great ones even; ones that made her think “What went wrong?” when she imagines the loving embraces and enjoyable conversations play out in memories in front of her.

 

It hurts her inside when she’s stuck in these small moments; unable to take her mind away when she’s anchored into the past by the pain in her heart. And what’s worse than the heartbreak?

 

The realization that she misses him. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise- Hizashi is her husband after all- but still… even with the heated arguments and crushing self-guilt over not knowing what to do to fix the growing tension blooming between them, she finds that she misses the small things that still existed between them.

 

Oh, how she wishes he was here...

 

Inko looks at the phone sitting on the counter. She looks at the clock that reads ten o'clock. Should she try?

 

Well, he had said he was a phone call away.

 

But he never picked up, why wouldn't he pick up, and maybe he will pick up this time and-

 

Inko picks up the phone and dials.

 

It rings, once, twice, and Inko feels a smile bloom across her face because he's finally answering- finally, after all this time! Any other time and she would have been furious about their rare phone calls but for now, she relishes in the fact that he actually answered.

 

Oh, there's so much to tell him. There's Izuku's doctor's appointment and her brunch with Mitsuki and the cute cat Izuku doodled for her and-

 

The call connects. Inko opens her mouth.

 

"Hisashi." Something rustles from somewhere on the other end and Inko waits, waiting to hear her husband's gruff voice tell her good morning and-

 

“Hello?” A feminine voice that is not Hisashi answers. “Who's this?”

 

The smile falls from her face and the world freezes.

 


 

Clang.

 

Izuku wakes up to darkness. His room is shrouded with black, the only light sources coming from the moonlight streaming through his curtains and from his All Might nightlight glowing dimly in the corner of his room.

 

Groggy with sleep, Izuku wonders what woke him, eyes sluggishly roaming around his bedroom. The numerous posters on his wall give him no answer. He brushes it off,  about to go back to sleep when he hears it again.

 

Clang.

 

Startled, Izuku shoots out of bed. The drowsiness that had clung to him dissipates as he stares at his bedroom door.

 

The sound had come from outside his door.

 

Fear bubbled in the pit of his gut, hot and boiling as he stared at the dim light glowing beyond his door. He should go open the door. He should go see Mommy- Mommy made everything better. But he was so scared.

 

But heroes don't get scared, He tells himself. Heroes are brave and cool and never afraid.

 

So with shaking hands and stiff shoulders, Izuku slowly lowered himself onto the ground. The cold wood floors caused shivers to race down his spine.

 

Izuku waited for something else to happen- someone jumping from the inky darkness? Another sound to make itself known from beyond the door?- and when nothing did, he continued creeping forward.

 

It was hard to navigate in the darkness and his nightlight barely lit his way so it was hard to tell what was in front of him. So when something hard and small bumped into his foot and Izuku jumped and tensed. But nothing happened.

 

Cautiously, he picked it up to see what it was. It was All Might, grinning back at him.

 

Everything is fine, The doll seems to whisper. I am here.

 

Timidly, Izuku glanced up at the door again.

 

He can do this.

 

When he finally arrived at his door, All Might clutched in his hand, Izuku stood there, unsure of what to do now.

 

He can hear muffled voices now, audible but just barely. It kind of sounds like...

 

"Mommy?" Izuku whispers. What was going on? Why was she up so late?

 

Clang.

 

Izuku backpaddles away, startled at the sudden sound. Now that he's here, sitting behind his door, he can hear a chorus of sharp bangs and thumping noises accompanying the weird thunk.

 

Mommy's voice gets louder. And now that he's not so far away this time, he can hear what's being said.

 

And he doesn't understand.

 

"I've tried my best to support you!" He hears. "I've done all I could do as your wife! I let you work at your dream job far away from here without complaint and this is what you do to me as your wife! As the person you married? I thought you loved me? I thought we could make things work!"

 

His body begins to tremble.

 

Mommy sounds so mad.

 

Why was she so mad?

 

There was static gibberish coming from the depths of the tense silence. He couldn't hear what was being said. But Mommy could.

 

“You and I both know that woman isn't just some secretary!" She hisses. "I may be oblivious to what you do over there but I'm not an idiot, Hisashi!"

 

There's silence. More gibberish.

 

Mommy is quiet. Then she sniffs.

 

"I knew we always didn’t see eye to eye on many things, including matters on Izuku but-“ She says with a wobbly voice. Another sniff. “-I thought, with the distance and everything, that we could get better.”

 

The choked sob wrenching itself out from Mommy has Izuku backing away from the door again. He feels lost and dazed and confused because he doesn't understand.

 

What was going on?

 

What was happening?

 

Why was Mommy crying?

 

The pit in his stomach grew and his breath halted. His palms were getting sweaty and his knees were shaking but he didn't dare move from his place by the door.

 

"But still," Mommy continued and Izuku could hear the crack in her voice. "I thought- I thought we could make things work and I thought we were! I thought you loved me but then… then… you sleep with-"

 

A sniffle.

 

"I loved you. He loved you. We both loved you. So why… why…why weren't we enough?"

 

Something clatters to the ground with a soft yet loud thud.

 

Izuku doesn't remember opening the door nor does he remember dropping All Might along the way. But he does remember the pots and pans rattling erratically from the cupboards and the potted plants and dishes falling off the counters. He remembers the phone lying in a broken mess.

 

He remembers hugging Mommy, the feeling of her arms circling as she hugged him tightly.

 

And then, everything grew quiet and the house returns to normal. The pots stop banging and the potted plants and dishes stop moving. Everything feels normal and yet nothing feels the same.

 

All at once, it dawns on Izuku that the tension that was once there, suffocating their home and confusing him for days on end, was shattered on the ground. Something was torn and sprawled on the floor like the dirt from the flowerpot. Like the pieces of a broken phone.

 

Something was different.

 

And he didn’t understand.

 

But he knew what to do for Mommy. She didn’t even yell at him to go to bed when he hugged her, only cried louder into the empty and cold house with only the fluttering broken flower petals as their company. Mommy cries to the night, to the stars and the moon, for something he doesn’t understand.

 

Her heart breaks, smashed to smithereens like the flowerpot, and all Izuku can do is hug tighter.

 


 

 

After that night, something changed in Mommy and in their house.

 

For one thing, the pictures hanging from the wall were different. Daddy's face displayed anymore. Izuku had thought about asking about why but he didn't want to upset Mommy.

 

He thought he hated it when Mommy was upset but he hated it more when she was sad. He still remembers her crying; of her sobbing on the kitchen floor.

 

He would do anything so she wouldn't be sad anymore.

 

 She hasn't called Daddy in a while after all. He wondered if she missed him.

 

Sometimes, he missed Daddy too and wanted to try to call him but one look at Mommy’s sorrowful face and he went back to coloring.

 

Another thing that was weird, there are a lot of boxes standing in the hallway. Izuku doesn’t know what was in them but he thinks he saw one of those old photo books Mommy loved so much inside.

 

He may not understand what was going on but what he did know was that something had happened to Daddy. He just didn't know what yet.

 

And then the other thing, Mommy stopped wearing her wedding ring. It happened a week after the phone call, after the boxes were packed up and all of the pictures were long gone from the wall. Izuku didn’t know what the ring meant but he knew you gave it to someone you loved. Maybe Mommy didn’t love Daddy anymore, but that doesn’t seem right.

 

She kept the ring on top her dresser after all.

 

And then another thing happens. It starts like any other morning. Izuku wakes up early, eats breakfast with Mommy, and then before he knows it, they're standing outside of Kacchan's house.

 

His backpack, filled with clothes and toys sits heavy in his hand. All Might is clutched in his hand. Confusion is worn on his face.

 

Kacchan's mom opens the door and without another word, she whisks Izuku inside. He turns to face Mommy with a clear question.

 

"I have to go take care of something for a few days," Mommy says with a small smile. It still looks sad. "Mitsuki here is going to take care of you while I'm gone. Is that okay, sweetie?"

 

And Izuku, not understanding what was going on but trusting his Mommy came back, nodded. "Okay. Bye, Mommy."

 

He rushes forward to hug her and she immediately hugs him back. He can feel her shoulders shaking. "I love you too." Mommy sniffs.

 

Kacchan's Mom and Mommy share a look and it makes Izuku wonder if they talked beforehand before the door is shut and Mommy is gone from view. Just like that.

 

Being with the Bakugo's wasn't so bad though.

 

Sure, Kacchan was being mean for the most part but his parents were nice. They let him watch superhero movies and eat ice cream after dinner and, best of all, they let him stay up and listen to the Present Mic talk show! Mommy only let him do that on rare nights.

 

And speaking of Mommy, he hadn't seen her in a few days. He was getting kind of worried but Mrs. Bakugo said she was going to be back any day. That made him smile and he immediately rushed off to tell Kacchan.

 

Kacchan didn't seem to care. Then again, he didn't seem too worried. He'd pushed Izuku away and told him "Of course she's coming back, Deku! What are you, stupid?"

 

Izuku... decided to ignore that other part. He knew the blond didn't mean it; they were friends and friends forgive each other. Besides, Kacchan was going exploring today and Izuku didn't want any sour mood to bring him down when he tagged along.

 

Sadly, there wasn't much to see and even littler to find- Kacchan's Mom told them to not to wander away from the park but Kacchan did it anyway- so it wasn't long before the blond gave up. And focused his attention on something else.

 

Small candle-like sparks illuminated the cloudy day as Kacchan smacked the ball out of the other boy's hand, his quirk activating on accident. Internally, Izuku cringed. Kacchan was still learning to control his quirk but he wasn't going to let anyone know that- well, Izuku already knew but that wasn't the point.

 

"Ow!" The other boy cried, his scales changing from green to orange. He fell onto the soft grass, tears welling in his eyes as he stared up at Kacchan. Izuku could see a small red patch already blooming on the boy's arm.

 

His hands ghosted over his own arms, very much aware of how painful Kacchan's quirk could be.

 

"Hah! That's what you get for playing with my stuff." Kacchan snickered, an arrogant grin stretching across his face as the boy on the ground visibly trembled.

 

Another time, seeing his friend stand so confident and strong would have formed a picture of a hero in his mind. But looking at the boy Kacchan stood over, shaking and crying over their burned arms, made Izuku think otherwise.

 

And surprisingly enough, it was something shocking to five-year-old Izuku because Kacchan always said he was going to be a hero- a hero that always won and was strong and was going to be the best, like All Might- and Izuku couldn't help but see just like everyone else did. But not now. Not when Kacchan was hurting someone, towering over them with crackling fireworks sparking from his sweating skin.

 

Because all Izuku saw when he stared at the crying boy was his mom. His mom crying on the kitchen floor-

 

"Hey, Kacchan?" Izuku called out from his spot by the steps. "Maybe you should stop hurting him. It's not very nice."

 

The blonde scoffed and Izuku could practically feel that burning gaze scorch his skin like the blond's quirk. "Whatever, Deku. It's his fault he was playing with my stuff."

 

"B-but you didn't have to hurt him-"

 

Kacchan turned away from him, already casting him aside as he turned on his latest victim. Izuku's teeth snapped shut as soon as he saw that he was being ignored, a feeling deep in his gut whimpering at the obvious disregardance. He stared down at the steps, green curls falling in front of his face.

 

Izuku heard the sound of a ball bouncing on the sidewalk as he heard his friend snicker. "I'll teach you to mess with the future number one hero."

 

The boy whimpered, the sound echoing the feeling resonating inside and Izuku... Izuku didn't like this. Because he wanted to be a hero as much as Kacchan and he knew this wasn't what heroes did; this isn't what heroes do. Hurting others was wrong. What Kacchan was doing was wrong.

 

And Izuku wouldn't forgive himself if he didn't try to at least stop it. Isn't that what heroes do after all? Help others.

 

Even if the person hurting them was a friend.

 

Izuku rushed forward, hand grasping at the black sleeve of Kacchan's shirt, and pulled. "Stop, Kacchan!" He yelled despite knowing that he wasn't supposed to yell in the park. Mommy said so. "Stop! You're hurting him and that's not right!"

 

Red eyes seared into his own, a burning anger Izuku had seen all too well. The blonde tried ripping himself out of Izuku's grip but he held on fast. Behind him, the scaly boy hurried to his feet and dashed off, scales turning from orange to red. But Kacchan didn't care.

 

"What was for, Deku?" The explosive blonde snapped, annoyance clear on his face.

 

Izuku suppressed the urge to lower his eyes as he cowered away from those burning eyes. "You-you were hurting him, Kacchan. Didn't you see how scared he was? Heroes...heroes don't hurt people-"

 

"Shut up, Deku!"

 

Kacchan slapped his hand away and a brilliant white flash engulfed his vision. A familiar heat edged close to him and Izuku could do nothing but stand there and take it.

 

This was nothing new. Kacchan had a bad habit of losing control of his quirk when it was hot. And whenever he felt like using it- which was usually whenever Izuku was around. Izuku was always fascinated by Kacchan's quirk but after the first few times, he stopped wondering how hot Kacchan's explosions could get.

 

He'd been hit with one plenty of times now. Today was no different.

 

Except it was.

 

Izuku watched through unblinking eyes as the explosion seared itself into his skull, burning the image of white stars into his eyes until it was all he could see.

 

He let out a yelp, stumbling back on the rough heels of his shoes. The strong stench of smoke and sweetness filled his nose, reminding him of a burned marshmallow. He coughed, hands covering his nose as he tried to step back-

 

His shoes slid out from under him and Izuku fell.

 

The world tittered on its' axis, nausea filling the pit of Izuku's stomach as his vision shifted from the smoky cloud surrounding him to the cloudy sky above. The sun shined down on him and for a moment, he was weightless. Like a bird in the sky. Like All Might flying through the air.

 

The wind whistled in his ears, a soft cooing sound that soothed the heat he felt eating his arms alive before it was gone.

 

Then it happened.

 

Something hard and sharp rammed into his head and Izuku forgot about the sun, about Kacchan, and about Mommy as his world was torn from him and all that was there was agony.

 

And it hurt! It hurt and he wanted Mommy because she always took the pain away and it hurt so much and he couldn't get up and someone was screaming and it felt like someone was hitting his head with a hammer and-

 

And then, there was nothing. No agony. No scorched arms. No falling. No movement.

 

Only Izuku and the hot sun staring down at him.

 

He lied there, confused and dazed as he stared at the giant star above him. Izuku thinks he's hurt because he can't move but he feels nothing. His arms don't sting anymore and his head feels woozy but there's no more pain.

 

Maybe that means everything's okay. He wasn't hurt quite as much this time so he might be able to hide the burns from... from... who? What...what was he thinking about again?

 

Something clogged the back of his throat and Izuku coughed, instinctively hacking the warm liquid out of his mouth. It dripped down past his lips and the taste of metal filled his mouth. Izuku gasped, lungs suddenly desperate for air, but the liquid kept coming and coming. His chest felt tight.

 

He.. didn't feel very well. Where was he? Where was.. Mommy?

 

Something moved in the corner of his vision, a blur of yellow with eyes like fire. Izuku latched onto it- or tried to- because he couldn't move his head.

 

"Ka!" Whatever name he was about to call out died as he coughed out the warm liquid filling his mouth. There was so much. But he was too tired to care anymore. He stopped trying to breathe anymore. The tightness in his chest grew.

 

Was he sick?

 

There was someone gripping his shirt now. Shaking and yelling something but Izuku was too tired to respond. Was he able to talk? He forgot. He was getting sleepy.

 

Very...

 

Very...

 

Sleepy...

 

The bright light in the sky dimmed. The blue of the sky disappeared. Izuku sunk down into the darkness enclosing in on him and let himself dream.

 

And down, down, he went into the black abyss below.

 


 

 

Izuku doesn't know what kind of dream this is.

 

The world around him is dark. There's nothing to the side of him and nothing below him. The only thing he can make out is the dim light shining down on him. It reminds him of the sun but he doesn't feel any warmth coming from it.

 

What a weird dream.

 

He thinks it's cold but he can't feel anything. No warmth. Nothing.

 

He misses the sun and its warm rays. It reminds him of... someone but he can't seem to think properly.

 

Izuku doesn't like this dream. It's lonely.

 

Usually, when Izuku dreams, he dreams of heroes. He dreams of the reoccurring fights he's seen multiple times on T.V. He dreams of All Might, of meeting the number one hero and becoming something he's always wanted to be. He dreams of becoming a hero himself and saving the day. He dreams of getting his quirk and finally, finally being accepted. He dreams of things warm and hopeful.

 

But this dream is anything but that. He's alone in this black sea, floating in nothing.

 

Izuku wonders if he's lost in this dream. If he is, maybe he should try to find his way back. But where? There's nothing here. He can't see anything or hear anything and he can't feel-

 

Pull.

 

Something chimes to him, distant and far away but there.

 

Pull.

 

It calls to him and Izuku can't help but reach out. There's a tightness in his chest he's never felt before and he can't begin to understand what it exactly is but the simple feeling it brings. An urge to grasp something out of his reach; a yearning to find something he's never known before. A beacon in the night. A nail to a magnet. A wanderer longing for home.

 

Izuku reaches out, like a fishing rod casting out at sea, and chases this urge like a hook chases a fish. It was distant yet so close, and he could hear it calling to him, around him, in his head.

 

Pull, the dark sea seemed to resonate in his head, familiar and soothing. It was as if the word was whispered by the wind. The word held a soft tone yet broken and foggy; escapable from his grasp.  I let my quirk guide me... and all I do is pull it towards me.

 

Izuku did so.

 

He couldn't see what he was reining in this black sea of nothingness but he could feel it, warm despite the absent sensation of touch, coming closer. It was like tugging a fish to shore.

 

And as it floated towards him, he found out what it was.

 

It was warmth, pure and gentle, like sunshine on a bright day. Light like no other radiated from this foreign warmth like a star, bright and radiant despite the lack of sight in this black sea.

 

What a weird dream.

 

It was nothing like his hero dreams but he found he didn't mind it.

 

Izuku pulled the light towards him once more and felt the warmth as it brushed up against him. And then it went inside him.

 

It all happened so fast.

 

Izuku thought he could feel the whole world inside him. He could feel the sun shining down on him. He could feel the cool breeze caress his skin as it passes by. He could taste the water drip down from the dark clouds above. Everything felt so simple yet so intense. It was like he was swimming inside of a star...

 

Then it was gone.

 

The warmth withdrew. The light dissipated.

 

 And the world exploded.

 


 

 

Izuku snapped his eyes open.

 

The first thing to greet him from his nap was the dark clouds. His skin was clammy, cold but not damp. Huh, what was going on? Why was he lying on the ground?

 

Uh, he felt sick. And cold. Why was it so cold? Where.. what... where was he?

 

Groggily, Izuku tried to push himself up on shaky arms. Immediately, he felt lightheaded, cotton stuffed in his head and static in his ears, so he laid back down. Something wet and warm coated his arms as he slumped back on the concrete. It felt sticky but he was too dazed to find out what it was.

 

Something moved in the corner of his eye. Blond hair. Red eyes.

 

"Ka-Kacchan," Izuku fumbled out. His tongue flopped uselessly in his mouth. He never knew speaking could be so hard.

 

Kacchan was sitting somewhere far away... he was too blurry to see clearly. Izuku's head hurt. His ears were ringing.

 

He could hear something beyond the static though- huffing? Like someone had played tag for too long. Was that Kacchan? He tried to see but it was like looking through water; everything as blurry and contorted.

 

"Ka-" Was all he managed to say. Something warm and wet was filling his mouth again. His vision kept swimming but his eyes caught red on Kacchan's blurry form.

 

The ringing was getting louder in his ears. Izuku groaned and closed his eyes. Cold rain dripped down onto his face as thunder roared in his ears. It was too loud.

 

Izuku thought he heard someone yelling but he was too confused to care. Where was he again? Why couldn't he see clearly? His head kept swimming. Maybe he should go back to sleep...

 

"Don't close your eyes!" A feminine voice snapped and Izuku cringed as something plush was pressed on the back of his head. It hurt.

 

"No, no, don't do that, Izuku! You hear me! Don't move! Keep your head still! Oh my god, there's too much blood... Katsuki! Go get your father! Now! Don't stand there- Go!" A warm hand was patting his cheek. "Come one, Izuku. Stay awake. Inko is coming back tomorrow. Don't you want to see her? Stay awake- no! Izuku, keep your eyes open! Izuku-"

 

His eyes closed and he fell into the dark sea again.

 


 

 

Izuku doesn't remember what happened next.

 

Everything was a messy blur. Lights danced before his eyes at rapid pace and voices muttered, muddled and distorted. It sounded distant, as if he were underwater.

 

He doesn't remember who the voices belong to nor does he know what's going on. But he finds that he doesn't really mind; he's too tired right now. Maybe later.  He'd rather sleep right now.

 

It feels like he's floating sometimes, during the moment where he thinks he's asleep yet awake, head still underwater. In a way, it's as if Izuku is still dreaming, still in that dark sea that seems so empty yet full of stars.

 

Izuku hears voices but can't hear the words. He sees blurry colors yet he can't see who it is. He feels a familiar warmth enveloping him but he can't tell where it's from. Izuku experiences all these things.

 

 And then he wakes up.

 

Izuku's eyes fluttered open. The first thing to greet him was the sunshine streaming through his windows. It was warm, as warm as the blanket covering him was.

 

He sits up, groggy and dazed. Sleep still clings to his eyes. He yawns.

 

Something tight and constricting is wrapped around his head. Izuku lifts up a hand and touches the constricting bindings holding his head prisoner and... it's bandages? Why was his head wrapped up in bandages?

 

He tries his best to remember but everything's too fuzzy and something must have happened because his hands start twitching when he thinks of red eyes and smoke clogging his nose-

 

His hand brushed up against something soft. Izuku blinks away from his thoughts and looks down to see green bedsheets. Wait, green bedsheets?

 

Confused, he swerved his head around. It hurt a bit but not too much. The first thing his eye caught was All Might lying on his nightstand. Was he...in his room? When did he get here?

 

"Hey, kid." Izuku whipped his head around to see Kacchan's mom standing in his doorway. Her expression was guarded and hard to read. What was going on?

 

"You gave us quite the scare," The blonde says softly as she leans against his doorway.

 

Wait. "Us?" Izuku whispers, confusion evident in his voice.

 

"Izuku!"

 

His head snaps up, eyes wide and hopeful, as his mother rushes into the room as if the devil were on her tail. Her eyes are dilated and wide, dried tears leaving tracks down to swollen red lips that look like they've been bitten too many times. Her ponytail, always so neat and up, is half hanging out and half tucked into a tangled mess. All in all, his Mommy looks terrible and guilt begins to worm its way into the pit of his stomach but he missed her.

 

Izuku can't remember where he got these bandages or why he's lying in bed or when Mommy got back but what he does know it that he missed her. Missed her reassuring smiles and warm hugs like he missed the sun on a rainy day.

 

So he holds out his arms and smiles. "Mommy!" He cries, quite literally when he feels something prickle in the corner if his eyes.

 

Mommy gives him all but one second to finish those words before she's launching herself at him and wrapping her arms around his fragile body.

 

"Oh, sweetie," he hears Mommy whisper into his soft hair. "Don't you ever scare me like that again. Do you hear me? When Mitsuki called I-I- Oh, my sweet boy, I'm so glad you're okay! If anything happened to you, I don't know what I'd do! I'm so glad you're okay."

 

"Inko," He hears Kacchan's Mom sigh. "I know you were worried sick about the bugger but at least give him some air? Poor kid looks like he's suffocating."

 

Izuku pouts from where he's encased in his mother's warm hug. He's perfectly fine where he's at-

 

Mommy laughs. It's soft and light and it sounds happy. Mommy was happy.

 

Izuku blinks. He hasn't seen her happy in a while. He hasn't heard her laugh in a while.

 

Does this mean her and Daddy made up?

 

"Sorry, Izuku," Mommy mumbles as she pulls away. He notes how she keeps her hands on his arms, as if he'll disappear if she lets go. "It's just... when I got a call saying you were in the hospital, I didn't know- I just- I wanted to make sure you were okay. Oh, I love you so much. Do you know that Izuku? You're all I have left. If anything were to happen to you-"

 

Mommy lays her chin on his head and Izuku leans into the touch. His head still hurts but that's okay. Kacchan's Mom lays a hand on Mommy's shoulder and she takes a deep breath in.

 

"I'm glad you're okay," Mommy mumbles before she leans away from Izuku again. She looks him in the eye, giving him a closer view of the redness in her eyes. "The doctors said you took a nasty fall to your head so you might have trouble remembering things or concentrating. You got hurt real bad, sweetie, but the doctors fixed you up and you're all better now. And that's all that matters. You were in the hospital for a while. Do you remember?"

 

Izuku tilts his head.

 

A question lingers on the tip of his tongue. Confusion swims in his head. Hospital? Did he fall? When was that? He doesn't remember much during his stay at Kacchan's house.

 

He tries his best to remember but everything's too fuzzy and something must have happened because his hands start twitching when he thinks of red eyes and smoke clogging his nose-

 

"Do you remember what happened, Izuku?"

 

-it smells like a burned candy store. Like a roasted marshmallow, sweet and smoky. It fills his nose and his mouth and burns his arms. Fire dances in front of him, fiery and sudden, and then all he sees are red eyes. Red. Red. Red like the blood-

 

Izuku looks down. His hands are shaking. He doesn't remember.

 

"No," He mumbles. "I don't."

 

And that's the truth. He's not lying this time. He really doesn't- couldn't- remember. His head hurt whenever he tried.

 

He knows Mommy is looking at him, eyes practically boring into his skull, even though his head is bowed down. But he does see Mommy's hands drift to each other in a fidgety manner. Guilt churns in his stomach and he doesn't know why. He's not lying this time so why is was Mommy worried?

 

Izuku doesn't understand.

 

He's unable to grasp the conflicted reality of his world, from his relationship with his father to the confusion over why he's here, lying in bed with bandages wrapped around his head. Maybe in the future, he will understand.

 

He'll look back and see with clear and understanding eyes why his mother cried when his father never answered her calls. He'll understand what the tension clouding his childhood was. He'll know why his mother looks at him with worry as he struggles to remember just how he got hurt.

 

But that time is not now so Izuku looks up at his mother and does what his All Might does for him. He smiles at her.

 

"But I'm okay," He assures her with all the power a five-year-old like him has. "My head doesn't even hurt."

 

Mommy looks like she wants to say more but instead, she smiles before ruffling his hair. "Get some sleep, okay?"

 

He does so, wondering when he became so tired. As he drifts off, he can't help but catch those last few moments of reality before sleep claims him again.

 


 

"I don't understand," He hears Mommy say. "The doctors said nothing about memory loss. I thought- how does he not remember anything? Doesn't he remember seeing me at the hospital? They said he was hurt so bad but I didn't expect.. his skull was split open-"

 

"I know," Kacchan's Mom says, voice low. Mommy sniffs. "Maybe its just the medicine kicking in. The doctors said there were some side effects. It's okay, Inko. He'll remember sooner or later."

 

"I know... I know...but- I just want to know how he ended up like that? Has Katuski said anything?"

 

There's silence and Izuku drifts off to sleep again.

 

"Nothing." He hears before he pulled down. "Nothing at all. He won't even let me touch him-"

 

And then he's gone, victim to sleep once more.

 


 

 

After a few days of constant sleep and nasty medicine, Izuku feels a lot better. His head doesn't hurt anymore and the random bouts of dizziness become nonexistent. He starts to eat more, something that makes Mommy smile, and before he knows it, a week has passed. Izuku doesn't need to take as much medicine as before and that makes him happy. He hates medicine.

 

After another week, the bandages come off and everything feels normal again. Yet, there's one more thing that's not quite normal.

 

His quirk appears. It's sudden and Mommy screeches when she sees the flowers move towards him as he reaches for the watering tin beside them.

 

"Izuku!" Mommy shrieks. Izuku drops the watering tin in surprise. "You-you're moving the flowers!"

 

He looks down at his hands, bewildered, and wonders when that happened-  he tries his best to remember but everything's too fuzzy and something must have happened because his hands start twitching when he thinks of red eyes and smoke clogging his nose- but honestly, he doesn't care.

 

He's just happy he finally got his quirk!

 

They celebrate with katsudon and old superhero movies that night and Izuku wouldn't stop smiling. Mommy didn't stop smiling either and Izuku couldn't be happier. Maybe Mommy was finally getting better. He hopes so.

 

After another week of constant naps and medicine, Mommy eventually lets him go back to preschool.  She seems hesitant to do so but one look at his pleading, puppy-dog eyes and she relents.

 

He couldn't wait to tell Kacchan and the others! Just watch, when he comes to school tomorrow, they'll see his quirk and see he's not a Deku anymore. They'll let him play with them and go bug-hunting with them and be his friend! He couldn't wait to go back to school!

 

Izuku beams at her and impatiently waits for tomorrow morning.

 

By the time the next day arrives, the sun barely up, Izuku is already out of bed and ready to begin the day. He eats breakfast with Mommy- well, more like inhaling his breakfast- gets dressed for school, and stands by the door as he waits for them to leave. But then just before they leave for preschool, Mommy stops him with a hand on the shoulder.

 

“One second, Izuku,” She says, soft and hesitant. Izuku turns around to face Mommy and is surprised to see tears welling up in her eyes. Mommy pauses, kneeling down before him as she struggles for words. Her hand leaves his shoulder and fiddles with the collar of her shirt. Her ring isn't there anymore.

 

“I have something very important to tell you. I know it's been a bit sad with...Daddy so far from home and I know you must miss him very much- and I.. I do too. But things change sometimes and... from now on, it’s just going to be us from now, understand?””

 

“What about Daddy?” He asks, curious. The question had been eating at him for a long while now. The boxes in the hall are long gone and there are no more pictures on the wall. And he doesn't know why.

 

Mommy looks at the ground for a moment. A single tear drips down her face. “Daddy and I… don’t love each other anymore. He… he… you won’t see him anymore.”

 

Izuku doesn’t really but he nods anyway. He should be sad. He should be crying- but he’s not.

 

For one thing, he never really knew Daddy, much less saw him. And that was okay because he had his mother.

 

It was her that made him yummy breakfast every morning. It was her who hugged him goodnight before bedtime. It was her who read him bedtime stories. It was her who watched superhero movies with him.

 

She was all he needed and that was okay.

 

“It’s just going to be us,” Mommy says again before they leave.

 

Just us.

 

Izuku’s okay with that.

 

At least, that’s what he thinks before he goes to school.

 

It’s been a while since he’s been to school ever since his accident so he’s excited to be back. His head feels a bit fuzzy sometimes when he thinks too hard but Mommy says it's nothing too serious.

 

"The doctor said it's just your head still healing, sweetie," She had told him. "You took a nasty fall and your head is still a little sore from your accident."

 

But it had been a while since his accident so the headaches were almost nonexistent now.

 

So when he walks into class that day, he's surprised to feel a slight headache when he sees Kacchan playing in the corner, slouching and barely messing with the blocks. Izuku ignored the somewhat painful throbbing in his head and grins when he sees the blond, immediately running to the boy with excitement.

 

“Hi, Kacchan,” Izuku yells but lowers his tone when he sees Kacchan flinch. Huh, he must have scared Kacchan.

 

Except, Kacchan doesn’t seem to acknowledge him, much less seem to hear him. Izuku pouts.

 

“Come one, Kacchan,” Izuku whines as he plops down next to the blond “Don’t be a meany. I have something cool to tell you. I got my quirk!"

 

Izuku waits for a reply- a response- but it never comes.

 

Izuku tilts his head, a puzzled noise coming out of his mouth. Had Kacchan not heard him?

 

"Kacchan?"

 

Kacchan still doesn't look at him.

 

Huh, that's weird. Maybe Kacchan hadn't heard him?

 

Confused, Izuku goes to tap his shoulder.

 

Just a tap, nothing too harsh- but then something weird happens. Kacchan cringes and was that a whimper coming from him- there’s a hand in front of his face and Izuku has only a second to process what’s happening before heat sears his face and forces him to stumble to the ground.

 

Izuku opens his mouth, in and out, but the smoke clogs his lungs and Izuku can’t breathe. He looks up, shaken and confused but Kacchan’s not there when he does so. No, he backing away from him, shaking and sweating and there’s a faint smell of something sweet in the air.

 

“Stay away from me, you stupid Deku!” Kacchan screams before he runs away to the other side of the yard. And Izuku can do nothing but sit there, shaking and gasping, and stare at his friend's back.

 

His cheek still stings, red and prickly and painful but oh, so normal for him but the fear is new. This isn't the first time Kacchan- his friend- had unleashed his quirk onto him but it's the first time Izuku had trembled at the sight- the smell- of it. And what's worse is that he doesn't know why, only that his headache hurts a lot more when he thinks of red eyes and smoke clogging his nose and-

 

His lungs clench painfully in his chest and Izuku finally remembers to breathe, oxygen coming in shakingly at the lingering stench of sweetness still in the air.

 

Mommy said things would change but Izuku- trembling on the ground- doesn't know anymore.

 

Izuku had always been Kacchan's friend but he's starting to realize that while Izuku was Kacchan's friend, the explosive blond wasn't his. And that maybe he never was.

 

'Just us,' Mommy had said. She said the words like it was the start of something new but it’s not until right now that he notices that she was wrong.

 

Nothing had changed. Everything felt the same- because it was. His father may have left but it still felt like he was there sometimes; the tension that used to hang over Izuku’s head every time he came home had never left. His mother was still sad sometimes. His friends were still mean and no quirk was going to change that.

 

Just us.

 

Mommy made it sound like a promise of something new but in reality, it was the realization that nothing had changed. That life, in general, had always been this way.

 

Just us.

 

Izuku never realized how alone he was until now.

Chapter Text

It was dark. The sky was grey. He knew it was raining, cold droplets drenching the clothes clinging to his body and yet, it felt distant; a foreign change of temperature that seemingly hadn’t clicked yet.

 

He was lying on the ground, the grass brushing up against his skin and despite not really seeing the greenery, he knew it was there. Like the trees in the distance; no matter how blurry the greens and browns seemed to be. It was as if the world was filtered in through a wall of water in a way; everything morphed and distorted into a hazy mess of green and grey.

 

He breathes, expecting the rich, crisp smells of grass and dirt and rain, but something’s different. Or more so, something smells different.

 

He breathes in once more, trying to distinguish past the earthy musk of the dirt and the crisp coldness of wet grass when it hits him. It’s sudden and vague but overwhelmingly strong; the aggressive stench of smoke assaulting his nose. He coughs, trying to clear his senses of the aggressive smell but somehow, that makes it worse.

 

The smoke takes the chance to swarm his mouth, assaulting his taste buds to the point where he can practically taste it. Heat with a mix of sweetness. It makes him think of a burnt marshmallow, strong and smoky.

 

The rain is colder now, the chilliness sinking into his bones and the distant blurs of green and brown wash away in the rain. All that’s left is the infinite grey world around him. All that’s left is the smoke choking his lungs as he tries to breathe.

 

He coughs and gasp at the same time, his lungs desperate for air but all he gets is the tang of smoke rushing to the back of his throat. He feels it, hot and clogged in his airways so he coughs, the warm liquid spurting out of his mouth in a red shower. After that, he can’t help but keep coughing.

 

He coughs and coughs the smoke and red liquid, ignoring how the cold seems to disappear or how the greyness of the worlds washes away to black. All he sees, hears, smells, feels, tastes is red, red, red and the smoke clogging his nose like- like-

 

 


 

 

 

Beep! Beep! Beep!

 

Izuku’s eyes fly open as he lets out a startled gasp. He jolts out of bed, limbs frantically shoving the blankets off his body. He feels his hand hit something hard, the sudden throb of pain, and the tell-tale sign of something heavy clattering on the ground before the shrill beeping stops.

 

Izuku takes in harsh gulps of air, his heart beating frantically in his chest like a drum, as he inhales and exhales each shaky breath. His eyes, wide and disoriented from sleep, dart around the room in quick frantic movements that easily make his head swim and vision blur. Beads of sweat dripped down his face as he rubs his eyes with shaky hands. There’s sweat coating his arms, palms cold and wet, and his shirt sticks to his chest.

 

Izuku lets his hands drop and his eyes slowly creak open.

 

Sunlight filters in through his curtains; bright, golden rays warming the floorboards and banishing the darkness of his room with its’ warm glow. Birds tweeting in the distance, soft and melodic in the wee hours of the morning. All in all, the morning looked peaceful- all but Izuku.

 

Tension still coiled in his body. Air still heaved in his chest. And his legs were still trapped in a labyrinth that was his blanket.

 

Izuku sighed.

 

Guess he had another nightmare. Again.

 

Izuku glanced down at the alarm clock on the ground and contemplated getting up from bed. He could always just lay back down and try- *try* being the keyword here- to get five more minutes of sleep. But then he really didn’t want to be reminded of that nightmare again- not that he really remembers anything; just the phantom fears that told him that he had a nightmare.

 

Of course, nightmares were nothing new to him. He was used to them by now. Still… they bothered him. Made him wake up in a sweat. Made him panic. Made him feel trapped. Made him breathe like he hadn’t had air in a year. Made him feel like he was missing something…

 

A knock raps on his door.

 

“Izuku, sweetie,” His mother calls. “Time to get up. You don’t want to be late for school, do you?”

 

Sure, he wouldn’t mind. But his Mom didn’t need to know that.

 

 “Yeah, Mom. I’ll be out in a sec.” He called out, a bit reluctantly. He hopes his Mom didn’t hear that.

 

And, luckily, his prayers were answered.

 

“Alright, breakfast will be ready in a moment, by the way.” He mother adds cheerfully. Too cheerfully.

 

It is morning after all.

 

Going about his daily morning ritual felt sluggish. Brushing his teeth, changing into his uniform, fruitlessly ignoring the handprint bruise smackdab on his upper arm, and making sure his homework was in his bag should be muscle memory by now. But the remnants of his fear-fueled dream still cling to his sleep covered eyes and his muscles move as though through molasses. 

 

As he prepared to leave, hand on the door knob, Izuku paused and gave his bedroom one last glance.

 

The nightmare was over. Done with. He should brush it off now like he always did. But he can’t help the trepidation still clinging onto him. He can’t help the slight tension that seems to root itself into his bones. 

 

He hears his mother call for him again, her muffled voice snapping him out of his daze, and he reluctantly opens the door.

 

Time to start another day.

 

He walks into the kitchen.

 

The T.V. is the first thing to greet him, a news channel blaring in the living room. The smell of rice and egg are the second thing to greet him before the overwhelming smell of fish hits him. He breathes it in and the tension in his shoulders eases. There was nothing better than his mother’s home cooking after all. If only he had the stomach for it this morning.

 

Nightmares always ruin his appetite for some reason. Maybe it was the anxiety that always lingering afterwards. Or maybe it was the fear he knew he felt but never understood why.

 

Either way, his stomach was not looking forward to food this morning.

 

“Oh, Izuku! You’re up, and just in time too,” Mom says from the kitchen. “Breakfast is ready.”

 

It smells great, it really does. The fish, while overpowering the smells of the egg and rice, also somehow merges in with it as well, filling the house with not the smell of fish, egg, and rice but the smell of good food. It’s obviously mouthwatering to anyone with a nose but in Izuku’s case… well, his stomach certainly has other ideas.

 

No food, Izuku can hear it screaming from the depths of his intestines but he accepts the food anyway with a small smile. His Mom would want him to eat so he’ll try- for her.

 

“Thanks, Mom. Looks great.” He says as he slides into his seat. 

 

Mom smiles at him joyfully as she slides a plate in front of him, an eager light in her eyes at the prospect of someone enjoying her cooking. It’s a look that makes him feel happy… and sort of guilty.

 

There aren’t many people his mom can share her cooking with. The only people who ever visit their home is Mitsuki and that’s about it. There used to be kids in here years ago, small ones that loved to make a ruckus and color all over the walls. But he’s not a kid anymore and his old friends…. He doesn’t like to think about that.

 

Izuku picks up his chopsticks to dig in and of course his stomach- and every fiber of his being protest in eating at the moment but you know what? His mother made this for him and if he has to stomach eating of all things to make her happy and not worried, he’ll do so. Guilt is a strong motivator after all.

 

Breakfast looks tasty today. The fish is grilled to perfection and the egg just a tad runny- just how he likes it- and the rice smells great. All in all, his mother made an amazing breakfast like always. If only he could actually enjoy it.

 

He knows it taste good but all he can taste is a mouth full of nothing. Still, guilt is a great motivator- the one of the century- so he eats breakfast and makes sure to tell his mother what an amazing cook she is.

 

It makes his Mom’s cheeks turn red. “Oh, stop it you!” She bashfully abolishes him. “You know I love cooking for you. Besides, if I didn’t cook for you, we would have takeout 24/7, and what kind of mother would I be if I let you eat all that!”

 

“I don’t see a problem with that,” He mumbles to himself; his own sad attempt at joking. But his mother hears him of course and she playfully ruffles his hair before serving herself some breakfast.

 

“Speaking of problems,” She says as she sits down. The food is steaming still steaming despite serving Izuku only a few minutes prior. “Have you seen he news lately? What’s happening… that poor girl…”

 

He hadn’t been paying attention to the news- something he doesn’t normally do- because, well, of his current dilemma with the food in front of him. So he look, glances at the T.V. screen to see what’s going on.

 

The first thing he sees is a little girl with bright blonde hair and a decorative rainbow pin in her hair. She’s smiling in the picture, a look of sheer happiness that conflicts with the word “Missing” plastered just below her.

 

Oh, he remembers hearing about her. The little girl that had been kidnapped about two weeks ago and so far, no one had been any close to finding her. It wasn’t known why she was taken but it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. A number of kids had been taken in the last few months and it was getting worrisome; the public was getting antsy and the police still had no leads. And what was even more strange was that..

 

“I can’t believe the police aren’t doing anything about this yet. Isn’t it terrible that quirked kids are being taken from their homes?” Mom mumbles, worry evident in her tone. “I can’t help but wonder how her parents feel. How they sleep at night?”

 

“Yeah,” He says more out of obligation of conversation than anything. Even he doesn’t know what to say about this whole thing, Because it is worrisome and it makes Izuku can’t help but hope they find her soon.

 

“Also speaking of sleep,” Mom says, her attention on him now. “I heard a noise in your room.”

 

Izuku busies himself with his rice. “It’s fine. Just knocked over my alarm clock this morning.”

 

His eyes are glues to his food but he can still feel his mother’s inquisitive gaze burning his skin.

 

“You sure? I…It sounded pretty loud. And I heard…. It’s just…. You haven’t had a nightmare in a while.”

 

If only that were so. “Yeah.” He can’t help but add uncertainty.

 

Mom pauses for a moment. “You barely ate breakfast. It’s your favorite.”

 

“I know.”

 

He hears the implication of her words, his own mind buzzing in panic. He keeps his gaze down and tries too busy himself by taking another bite. He doesn’t taste it.

 

“It was nothing, Mom. I just knocked over a clock, that’s all.” He can feel the tension coiling inside him again, a snake rattling in his bones. His hands start to feel clammy. The food sits like a rock in his stomach.

 

“Anyways,” He sits up suddenly. The moment he so desperately tried to hold onto, the peaceful morning before the hectic storm, dies away. His hands flex at his side, fingers itching to pull something in reaction to his discomfort. A habit of his quirk. “I better get going. I don’t want to be late for school.”

 

“Alrighty.” His mother says and her tone screams reluctance. “Well, have a good day at school then and I love you.”

 

“Love you too, Mom.” He says as he heads for the door, dropping his half-full plate next to the sink.

 

“Bye, sweetie!”

 

He slips on his shoes and picks up his backpack. “Bye.”

 

He opens the door. Time to face the day.

 

 


 

 

 

The train ride today is packed- as it always is- and while Izuku has had many years to get used to the horde of strangers fighting over seats, it’s never easy. Stampedes of people board the train, the synchronized stomping of feet overpowering the drone-like tone of speaker spewing out God knows what in the crowded train. Seats are taken left and right and Izuku- somehow, someway- manages to claim a seat in the corner seat all to himself. A lucky spot really; a space not too crowded and not too peoply.

 

Sadly though, his corner seat does nothing to save him from the loud, loud chatter suffocating the narrow fit of the train. It’s loud, it’s collective, and it never ends. It’s a drowning sea of sounds; the words falling out of everyone’s lips enough to fill an entire ocean alone and then some lakes and ponds after.

 

Good thing he brought his earbuds today. Ah, his saving grace.

 

But he doesn’t plug them in right away. Instead, he just mindlessly twirls the wire between his fingers.

 

He feels a bit guilty about this morning. Okay, he feels very guilty about this morning.

 

He knows his mother means well- she loves him after all- but if he can divert the problem and never see it again, he’ll do it. Besides, he’s gotten used to the nightmares by now; he knows how to brush it off like they were nothing, forget the remnants swimming around in his head, and go about his day. He knows how to forget about it- because he never remembers it.

 

He’s not sure what the nightmares are about but when he was little, they were bad. Like, medical bad. He had wet the bed four days a week when he was a kid, unable to handle the nightmares repeating themselves night after night. And then his mom took him to a doctor and it helped… a bit.

 

And that’s okay. He’s fine now so there really wasn’t any need for his mother to worry herself over something as small as a nightmare. He ate breakfast this morning so he’ll count that as a win. Besides, she has enough on her plate as it is.

 

She won’t tell him what exactly it is- she never does, something they both have in common- but it’s almost become second nature to him to read his mother. Learn the small things she does and understand them.

 

Fiddle with her hands? She’s thinking about his father. Use her quirk spontaneously around the house? She’s upset. Talk about her day enthusiastically? She’s happy. Cook an excessive amount? She’s stressed. And while his mother has only made breakfast, he had seen the still-full pot sitting on the stove. He knew what that meant. She was stressed, and when she stresses, she cooks. Or bakes. Or both.

 

Izuku sighs. He’s overthinking this again. Mom seemed fine this morning; she made a lot for breakfast, sure, but it’s not like he ate much anyways.

 

His stomach grumbles, almost as if on cue, and Izuku grimaces against the queasiness that pains his insides. A product of a nightmare he could never remember but still kept thinking about despite it all- a useless tactic on his part.

 

What was the point into trying to remember something he never could seem to grasp? Maybe it was the burning question of what exactly had his stomach clench. Or maybe it was the slight tension he felt whenever he tried to remember. Or maybe he just couldn’t help it because in the back of his mind, it was important. Almost like he was missing something…

 

Was he thinking too much again?

 

Sigh. Of course he is.

 

He should really stop overthinking every little thing. Because if he starts, he won’t be able to stop thinking about it and he would very much like to have some control over his excessive amount of thoughts, thank you very much.

 

The chatter drifting in the train is getting loud again so he plugs in his earbuds and pressed play on his phone.

 

The first sound to grace his ears is a cheery tune; an intro that could be from any one of the many podcast he currently has on his phone. Sure, it takes up more space than he currently has but honestly, he couldn’t go through his day without them. The constant noise of people drains away and he hears nothing but the podcast as the intro music plays and then…

 

Hello out there, listeners!” A small smile worms its way onto Izuku’s lips. He hadn’t known which podcast would play but if the voice was any indication… “Welcome to the Present Morning Podcast! I hope everyone’s having a good morning so far! I’m your host Present Mic and today we have some very exciting things to talk about!“ 

 

Izuku smiles as he listens on. Podcast were his favorite thing about the mornings- well, besides eating breakfast with his mom despite what happened this morning. It was rather soothing to hear someone talk about any numerous of topics; topics he loved like the Fundamentals of Quirk Theory and the Present Representation of What Makes A Hero. It was rather interesting to hear what people talked about- and it didn’t hurt that it added a bunch of different perspectives into his notebook.

 

Usually he listened to one on the train ride to school and while his dally pick was something along the lines of informative, anything with Present Mic was allowed a pass.

 

 Besides, he’s going to need all the optimism he’s going to get before, well, school.

 

 “…so you’re saying you took down the villain “Earth shaker” in a matter of moments? That’s incredible! Tell the listeners out there for me, how do you do it as the number one hero?” Present Mic’s charismatic voice drones on in his ear and Izuku latches onto it.

 

Suddenly a booming laugh fills Izuku’s ears, the sound boastful and light. An infectious smile quirks on the edges of Izuku’s lips, instinctual as it is infectious.

 

Oh! Now he knew which podcast this was! It was one of his favorites!

 

I’m just doing my job, Present Mic. As heroes, it is our job to protect the citizens of the world and it’s a job I relish in. There are many villains out there these days and as hard work as it is, there’s nothing I’d rather do than fight for the people!”

 

“Wow, All Might- Love the energy! And that’s right, Listeners! Being a hero, as hard as it is, is rewarding in its own way.

 

A bark of a laugh. “Exactly, Present Mic. Being a hero is tough and as a hero, there are many things you must be prepared for- including that fight with Earth Shaker. Before I got there, some of the surrounding building had, ahem, collapsed. I stopped the villain, yes, but I failed in my job as a hero: saving people. And yes, even me- the number one here- can fail. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try as heroes to save everyone we can. And that goes for everybody. To not try is a guaranteed failure. After all-”

 

“- what else is there to do but to try with every ounce of your heart?”

 

The train rolls to a stop and Izuku looks up to see that it’s his stop. A feeling of morbid reluctance washes over him. With a sigh, he pulls out his earbuds and stuffs them in his bag.

 

Train rides over. Time for school.

 

The train is a madhouse as he worms his way towards the exit.

 

He keeps his eyes glued to the ground, down at the many shoes covering the floor. Since his earbuds were in his bag now, there was nothing to hide the sheer collective noise of the passengers behind him, around him, before him. It’s loud; a growing buzz in his ears that seems to multiply the deeper he goes into this sea of a crowd. He hears sighs and mumbles and chatter and yelling and Izuku can’t help but move a little faster. Push past a little quicker. Bump his shoulder into people’s bodies a bit clumsily. Can’t help the stutters that find their way past his lips.

 

Finally- finally- he finds his way out past the crowding sharks and into the vast sea of streetlights and wandering passersbyers. He breathes- in, out- before speed walking out of the shaky waters and into rushing currents.

 

All around him, people hustled about their day.

 

If the train ride to school was his favorite part of the day then the walk the rest of the way was his least. And it wasn’t hard to see why.

 

It was always intimidating to see people all around him. It made him feel small and helpless, like an ant in the presence of towering shoes. In his mind, rooted deeply into his nerves, it was as if the crowds were just waiting to crush him like the small insect he was. Like a fish in the presence of sharks, fins long and wide and ready to swat at the slightest inconvenience to them.

 

Izuku huffs in slight discomfort. His fingers twitch at his side and the slight urge to use his quirk adds to his discomfort. He ignores it, a habit to add to his other many habits, and keeps walking.

 

Shoulders hunched, Izuku continued on his way to school. The sidewalks were crowded, swarms of sharply dressed people swinging their briefcases and purses this way and that. Izuku gripped his backpack and managed to dodge the briefcase dangerously near his face. But he did terribly in actually stopping himself from bumping into the person walking behind him.

 

There was a grunt and then an annoyed huff from behind him. Izuku snapped his head around as the words poured out of his mouth. “Uh, sorry,” He said instinctively, the words abnormally uncomfortable in his mouth. “I didn’t see you there.”

 

He didn’t stay to hear what the woman had left to say- or if she had anything to say at all- because Izuku willed his feet to slip between the closing gap in front of him to escape staying in that situation anymore. His thoughts weren’t so lucky though.

 

He could still see the woman’s face; the slight sneer adorning her painted lips, purple eyes narrowed and plucked eyebrows furrowed in distain. He wiped his sweating palm on his pants, embarrassment still lingering in the back of his mind. His ears burned unconsciously as he trudged on towards school.

 

The rest of the walk is, thankfully, uneventful. Well, aside from a.) getting smack by swinging bags and b.) people stepping on his heels. Other than that, he makes it through the stream of people and mentally gives himself a pat on the back.

 

It wasn’t long before Izuku was standing before the school, it’s tall, rather boring, architecture looming over him.

 

He won’t lie when he seriously considers just skipping school and heading home because holy hell, if just the thought of going to school makes his heart sink lower than an anchor at sea then Izuku would truly pick his poison and dip.

 

However…. His mom wouldn’t be too happy about that. And then she’ll start asking questions. And then she’ll worry.

 

Izuku doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to his mother worry over something so stupid and childish as skipping school because then she’ll ask questions and she’ll worry even more and Izuku knows she has enough on her plate already and she shouldn’t waste any time worrying about him when she should worry about more important things.

 

He can feel the sweat beading on the back of his neck, his palms clammy. The wind, as draft as it is, gives him no solace from the whirlwind in his head.

 

“Here goes nothing,” Izuku mutters under his breath. Be it in encouragement or optimism, he’s not quite sure but the bell rings in five minutes and Izuku would rather not be late. Sure, going in early means crowded hallways but that also means he’ll be getting to class today uneventfully. Which would be a good thing.

 

So, he’d best be going now.

 

Nervousness makes its’ home in the pit of his stomach as he takes a step forward. His fingers twitch in their death grip and Izuku wonders if maybe he’s instinctively crossing his fingers for good luck. Or if he’s just that anxious today. Maybe it’s both.

 

Here goes nothing. The words play in his head, a mantra of desperate encouragement that do nothing to still the urge he has to bite his lip of the automatic slouching of his shoulders. He breathes- in, out- and readies himself for another day.

 

If he said the walk here was his least favorite part of the day then he was lying. School was his least favorite part of the day. Worst then the nightmare. Worst than the suffocating crowds.

 

 


 

 

 

School is, and always will be, something scarier than a nightmare.

 

There are bodies everywhere, leaving nothing related to personal space in the early morning crowd. Students hustling to class, teachers storming down the halls, the ever-present chatter of everybody-student and adults alike- echoing through the halls.

 

Honestly, walking down these halls feels more like a landmine than an actual school. Just the slightest misstep and you’re either bumping into someone or someone’s bumping into you. For Izuku, it’s usually the latter. Like right now.

 

“Hey, watch it!” He hears someone shout behind him.

 

Izuku freezes, feet startled to a stop at the sudden shout. Wait, what-

 

Before he can move, a harsh shove knocks him to the side.

 

Izuku careens to the side, a shout of surprise escaping his lips as his face contemplates meeting the floor. Luckily, he’s able to stop himself before that can happen. As soon as his balance- and therefore dignity- is lost to him, he whirls around to see a pair of kids run into the crowded hallway, lost to his view within seconds.

 

And that completes his perfect picture of a chaotic morning. Great way to start off the day.

 

Sighing a bit to himself- mostly to himself- Izuku begins making his way through the halls. It’s loud, as per usual, and his ears catch the early morning gossip drifting around. It’s random conversations: Who’s dating who, who’s quirk caused what, ect. It’s nothing too special and before he knows it, he’s almost to class.

 

A flare of hope sparks to life within him. He’s actually going to make it to class without anything major happening-and then a hand lands on his shoulder and that hope dies.

 

“Hey, look who’s here?” He hears to his left and crap. There goes his hope.

 

He knows that voice and whatever that voice what’s could never amount to anything good. Mentally, Izuku is screaming because a.) he really doesn’t want to talk to them right now and b.) he really doesn’t want to talk to them right now.

 

He shifts in his spot, realizing how he’s standing in the middle of the hallway like an idiot. Luckily, no one gives him much attention but they do give him lingering glances that makes the discomfort shudder through his body. His fingers grip his bag even tighter and the familiar feeling of his quirk flares up inside him.

 

Better get this over with.

 

“Hi, uh, Yasutora.” He turns and tries for a normal smile. It feels awkward and not at all normal. Great start. “Um, lovely weather we’re having?”

 

Is it too late to just leave school and never come back? Better yet, jump into the nearest ocean so he can join the fishes because wow, he really wished he kept his mouth shut.

 

Yasutora, luckily, doesn’t acknowledge his question, choosing to look over his shoulder at someone behind him.

 

“Hey,” He calls. “He’s here.”

 

There’s a snort. “Damn, the weirdo finally showed up? Took him long enough.”

 

“Just at him? Please, that guy’s mad at everyone- all the time. He practically fights everyone who even looks at him funny. Remember last week-“

 

“Um, Hi Tsubasa.” Izuku greets meekly, cursing himself for interrupting. “I-uh- Good morning?”

 

“Hey, Izuku.” Yasutora’s greeting sounds as pleasant as it is unwanted. “Hey, buddy. Hey, Pal. How was your morning?”

 

“Good….” Izuku answers hesitantly. Alarm bells ring in his head. Something’s going on here. Yasutora never greets him like this, much less Tsubasa, and- wait..

 

“I don’t have any money, Yasutora.” And that’s not a lie but Izuku still beats himself up internally for saying that anyways. He already knows that’s not the answer Yasutora wants to hear and the evidence of that comes not too long after that. The hand on his shoulder stretches and morphs to clamp down harder. Nails digging into his collar bone and he tries his best to hide a wince.

 

“Come on, Midoriya,” Yasutora says with a tone practically oozing niceties- but Izuku knows better. He’s known him since he was four after all. “We’re friends, aren’t we? And friend help each other out, right?”

 

Friends? Izuku’s not too sure about that.

 

Yasutora hasn’t been his friend since he was four- and even then he wasn’t the nicest to him. The only reason he ever tolerated Izuku was mostly due to the fact that Kacchan tolerated it. Unluckily for him though, Yasutora has grown out of being Kacchan’s follower and what he grew into wasn’t that much better.

 

Where Yasutora used to insult people when he was little, now he uses it as a weapon of sorts. Often times, Yasutora reminds him of an actor of sorts; manipulative and able to disguise a threat as politeness.

 

Tsubasa on the other hand isn’t much for talking as Yasutora is. Where Yasutora uses threats to get what he wants- usually money- Tsubasa uses his stature; with large wings and broad shoulders, it’s hard not to be intimidated by him.

 

They are, after all, known by all the kids in school. Whether it be by reputation or having been in these situations as Izuku is in, it’s safe to say that these two are at the top of the food chain here. But of course, they’re not really.

 

No, that spot is dominated by someone else….

 

But either way, because Izuku knows all this- and it doesn’t help knowing these two for most of his life- he knows just what to do in this certain situation.

 

It is, after all, best to stay quiet when push comes to shove. When you’re quiet, situations don’t get worse. When you’re quiet, no one gets mad. When you’re silent, no one notices you. 

 

When you’re quiet, you’re invisible to the world. And if you’re invisible, well, then nothing bad  happens.

 

So Izuku stays quiet. Clamps his teeth down on his bottom lip. Darts his eyes down to the ground. Does his best to slouch his shoulders, makes himself just a tad bit smaller, so Yasutora and Tsubasa can see the effect they have on him. It’s an act; a performance on a live stage, but one that is more real than fake. Because, in a sense, he is a bit nervous about why  Yasutora and Tsubasa decided to gang up on him just as he arrived at school rather than in class, like they usually do.

 

But he doesn’t ask, not when everything feels like a bomb about to go off. When it feels like the honey dripping off of Yasutora’s words will morph into some sticky weird snake and bite him. So, he stays quiet and waits for the teeth to sink in.

 

“So?” Izuku can practically hear the purr in Yasutora’s tone. ”What do you say, pal? You got any money to lend to a friend?”

 

There’s that word again. Friend. Izuku has known Yasutora since he was a kid- and even then, Izuku knew something was off with their friendship. It was like trying to find your place as a piece in a puzzle that you never fit in. 

 

Socialism was always a challenge but even mores when it felt like the world was out to get you. In a way, he felt like a newborn fawn taking it’s first steps. Wobblily and awkward and not right. But for him, it’s never ending; he’s the fawn that still hadn’t learned to walk and he wasn’t sure when he ever would. He was a tiny kitten surrounded by full grown dogs. He was a fish in a sea of sharks.

 

The grip on his shoulder tightens again and the fire ants that have long since made their home under his skin swarm up in anxious jitteriness. His hands grip the straps of his bag with a white-knuckled tightness. The teeth are waiting to strike; a taunting jeer just waiting on the edge of Yasutora’s tongue. The wait is always maddening.

 

Izuku looks down at the ground. His red shoes glare at him obnoxiously. “I already told you, I don’t have any money,” He mumbles, looking away from his friend. “My mom hasn’t given me an allowance this week and the bills have been kind of high this month and-“

 

“Come on, Midoriya,” The purr in his tone is gone, replaced by a harsh persistence. “I know you’re lying. You always got some cash on you- how else could you keep getting those stupid notebooks every week?”

 

Because he saves. Because Izuku is actually smart enough to leave his money at home rather than have to taken by Yasutora. But they don’t need to know that. Besides, he needs that money to but another notebook soon. His old one’s getting filled up…

 

“Look, class is about to start and I don’t want to be late.” Izuku says softly, half out of desperation of getting out of this and half out of nervousness of what will happen if he stays any longer. The fire ants are gnawing at his skin and the palms are threatening the burst with sweat.

 

There’s a moment of silence, a moment Izuku can’t help but fill in. “So, I should get going.” He adds. The words feel as awkward on his tongue as it does trying to move away from Yasutora and his crushing grip on his shoulder.

 

Yasutora doesn’t move to stop him luckily, glaring at him with barely contained annoyance. Tsubasa stands behind him, bored but still looking quite intimidating with his large wings behind him. But even when he’s halfway across the hallway, he can still feel their gazes bore into him.

 

He makes it to class without incident and thankfully, the room is practically empty. He slides into his seat and almost immediately, he pulls out his phone.

 

It’s become somewhat of a habit to check the news whenever he has a moment of peace. Especially when he needs to take his mind off certain things.

 

There’s always something new to find; some low rate villain trying to rob a bank, a thief reeking havoc on a busy street. Today rewards him something special and Izuku’s eyes glow when he reads about a new hero with a quirk that can cover their entire body in hot lava.

 

Woah. They can cover their entire body. In hot lava. That… that sounds awesome! And notebook worthy.

 

Another habit comes to light as Izuku pulls out his trusty notebook out of his back. Its edges are torn and curled with the cover degrading to a faded green. There are some scratches and a few small burn marks but other than that, the bold Heroic Analysis for the Future #8 stares back at him.

 

Izuku pulls it out and flips to a new page. A new clean, somewhat crisp, blank page greets him and quickly grabs a pencil from his horde container.

 

Magmatic: The Volcanic Hero.

 

Quirk: Hot Lava.

 

Okay, hm, next is the possibilities you can do with a quirk that covers the user in lava.

 

Well, there’s a lot of things they can do with that; create barriers for civilians, warn of villains with a glob of molten lava, burn any projectile thrown their way. The options could be limitless- well, there are a few cons with that sort of quirk so there could be some limitations to having lava as a quirk. Like the cool time or how fast the molten rock can travel and how far. And that’s just naming from the top of his head; there could be some serious altercations with that sort of quirk. Hm… and with those cons in mind, there has to be some sort of pro to counter that. Like.. like…. Staying in a close distance to villains perhaps? And keeping civilians afar? But that requires control and sometimes, heroes can’t control what villains do. But the hero can throw his lava as well so there’s that to think about-

 

Bang.

 

A hand slams on his desk, loud and sudden.

 

Izuku jumps up from his seat, startles out of his mind. His heart, beating like a drum in his chest, practically leaps out of his throat in surprise. He stands there, soul almost startles out of his body, for a moment before the unmistakable sounds of snickering catches his attention.

 

Yasutora is standing before him, Tsubasa not too far behind. They’re wearing matching grins, unconcealed laughter coming from their mouths.

 

Wait. When did they get here?

 

“Sorry there, Midoriya.” Yasutora apologies but it sounds anything but. “Didn’t mean to startle you. We were all just wondering what you were talking about?”

 

And that’s when Izuku finally notices. And hears it.

 

People are laughing, muffled and quiet but there. And… shit. There are people. In class. The class is full of people. Laughing. And if there are people in here laughing, the that means the bell must have rung. And if the bell rung then…

 

Crap, he must have been mumbling again.

 

Izuku slaps his hands across his face to hide the his now-red cheeks- and possibly his face, if he could - mortification and sheer embarrassment quickly flooding his body. But those two aren’t a good combination so really, he’s drowning.

 

 

Because everyone is staring at him. Laughing. At him. Is it too soon to skip school now? Because anything- anything- is better than being laughed at and he wishes more than anything for the ground to swallow him whole. Or maybe this can be the nightmare he is still haunted by.

 

Izuku shrinks in his seat and tries his best to cover the cocktail of emotions affecting his body; from the redness of his face to the discomfort he felt boiling under his skin. It was maddening to be under such stares. Relentless in their gaze and it unnerves him even more to see- unable to look away- all the kids in class just. Looking at him. Laughing at him and the sound grates against his ears.

 

It’s times like these that Izuku really wishes he had a quirk that could make the ground swallow him.

 

“Hah! Oh my God. The weirdo’s back at it again.”

 

“Man, he’s talking to himself again? That’s kind of sad.”

 

“Yeah. And it’s upper creepy too. I mean, do you hear the kinds of stuff he says? It’s kinda creepy.“

 

Students are laughing again, whispered comments under there breathe, and Izuku can’t take it anymore.

 

Izuku tears his eyes to the floor, unable to meet any of his fellow classmates stares any longer. Discomfort hums under his skin and Izuku can’t help but shift in his seat. His fingers flex automatically and Izuku forces down the presence of everyone around him.

 

Sure, it doesn’t help with the relentless stares he still feels burning his skin but it’s the thought that counts, right? It’s mortifying enough to accidently mumble in class. It’s even worse when the class is full of people. Damn it; he thought he got this whole mumbling thing under control.

 

Mom likes to say how cute it is that he mumbles- something about doing it when he was a kid too- but it’s not. Not to others at least.

 

When he was little, he learned first hand what others thought of his cute quirk. They laughed at him, mocked him, and most of all, stared at him. And if there’s anything Izuku doesn’t like, its attention on himself.

 

It unnerves him when people stare at him too long. It makes his skin crawl, like there’s something contagious in their stares and he can’t shake it off. It’s like there’s a fire in their eyes and Izuku’s the gallon of gasoline. Each lingering gaze is like a spark near it and put enough in and that fuel will explode in fiery shame. Combust. Fiery. Burst into the sky like a sad attempt at a firework.

 

And that’s how he feels right now. His face, tinged red and warm in sheer embarrassment. His eyes, slightly watery from the pathetic nerves currently living inside him. And said nerves, frazzled and tense because he’s weak being affected like this and his quirk was definitely not helping in this situation. But he can’t help it; it’s unnerving and uncomfortable and way beyond pure awkwardness now.

 

His hands clench at his side, knuckles tense and pale white. His eyes narrow in on a spot on the floor and he wishes. Urges. Pleads. That the ground hurry up and just swallow him already. Like now.

 

But nope, guess no one upstairs is listening today. Because the ground is closed. And not ending this humiliating moment for him. Wow, what a terrific start to his day.

 

And as if his day couldn’t get any better, stomping footsteps makes itself known. Like thunder in the rain, the noise is loud and sudden and it grabs everyone’s attention. All eyes turn away from him and it’s relief. Sweet, sweet relief.

 

That he only has one moment to revel in before someone comes storming into the room.

 

Red eyes gleam from fiery eyes, the color vibrant and alive against the person’s pale complexion. A bag is in tatters as if it’s seemingly meaningless; carelessly thrown over their hunched shoulders. But the person standing in the doorway is anything but.

 

Yasutora is the first to speak up.

 

“Hey, Bakugo. What took you so long?”

 

Kacchan huffs, his red gaze sliding over to stretchy-limbed quirk user. “None of your fucking business.”

 

“Aw! Come on, Bakugo! Don’t be like that. What’s got your panties in a twist today?”

 

“Your fucking presence, that’s what.” Kacchan flippantly shots back, crossing across the room to get to his seat.

 

And just like that, everyone’s attention is Izuku is gone and he’s back to being a nobody in class. It’s a relief really; no one’s making fun of him anymore. No one whispering about him. No one’s even looking at him anymore.

 

Because now, everyone’s looking at someone else and while the kids in class didn’t even bother to hide their amused and mocking stares towards him, the way they all look at Kacchan is a completely different story.

 

There’s admiration shining in their eyes; starstruck awe in the way everyone follows Kacchan’s form as he makes his way to his seat. It’s a look that speaks of the depth in which everyone preserves him as. A look that, without a doubt, screams how high in the food chain Bakugo is at this school. 

 

While, Izuku’s little- ahem- moment was a small joke on stage, Kacchan is the play; a whole 3 hour session- intervals and all. Izuku drew in a few moments of everyone’s time but Kakugo’s demands it. And Izuku can’t blame them for that.

 

Because despite how gruff and, well, ill-temptered the ashy blond-haired boy can be, there’s no denying the power he holds. Bakugo may be slouching when he walks to his seat but no one can deny the strength they see in his shoulders. Or the muscles in his arms despite the shirt sleeve covering his entire forearm. Or the veins popping across his hands like spiderwebs. The signs are there but not quite- hidden away but still there to anyone who has eyes- but they are there, and they draw up the only thing anyone ever thinks when they see Bakugo.

 

He’s strong. Stronger than anyone at this school- and that says something when quirks are as vast as they are. But that wasn’t it; that wasn’t what made people shower their attentions onto him so freely and quickly.

 

Kacchan wasn’t just strong, he was smart too.

 

Izuku wonders how many people see the way his eyes seem to glow red when he’s faced with a problem; the way they sharpen in raw intensity over the smallest squabbles at lunch. Maybe it’s just him that notices- but then again, you don’t have to observe someone you’ve known your whole life to see how powerful they are.

 

It’s just there and the mere presence alone is enough to see. See that Kacchan’s strength promises that he’ll make an amazing hero.

 

Yasutora grins from his place beside Izuku’s seat, brushing off the insult with little more than a chuckle.

 

“Wow, someone must have pissed in your cereal this morning. Did your hot mom yell at you again? Or did you ruffle someone up? I sure hope it was the latter but I won’t mind hearing how your mom is doing.”

 

Kacchan rolls his eyes as he plops into his seat. “The fuck’s wrong with you? That’s my mom you’re talking about there.”

 

Yasutora laughs this time and leans even more against Izuku’s desk. He seriously wonders of the guy’s doing this accidently or on purpose. Hell knows the guy likes to mess with Izuku more than Bakugo does. “Relax. I’m kidding.”

 

Though the grin on his face says otherwise.

 

The way Kacchan’s eyes narrow tells Izuku he sees it as well. “Hmph. My train was late. There. Happy? So what were you doing besides being a damn nuisance to my morning?”

 

Once again, Yasutora grins. Izuku wonders if he’s aware he’s being insulted or if he doesn’t care. He can’t tell if it’s the former of the latter. “Well, I was going to ask Izuku here if he had any money…”

 

And to make today even better, all eyes are on him and this time, another pair of eyes join in on the frey. Red meets green and Izuku can’t help the shiver that runs down his arms.

 

There’s a fire in those eyes, a fire that makes the blood in his veins boil and the soul inside him shrivel up. Instinct scream at him to shrink, to make himself as small as possible and it’s hard to ignore, especially when the sweet scent of burnt marshmallows heightens into existence in Izuku’s awareness. Burnt marshmallows and… something else. Something smoky and…

 

Izuku looks down.

 

The fire ants are back, crawling over his skin with knife sharp needles. There’s millions of them crawling over-under- his skin and he can feel them all. He can feel the cold sweat forming on his forehead. He can feel how moist and prickly and shaky his palms are. He can feels their stress- everyone’s. Can feel them boring into him. Can feel those red eyes burning into him.

 

He feels. He feels… a lot.

 

But.. he can do this. Sooner or later, everyone will stop looking at him and he can get back to being nobody and write in his journal again without anyone bothering him.

 

It would be okay. It would be okay. It would be fine. It would be manageable- if it weren’t for the owner of one of those eyes. Fiery red staring him down.

 

It makes him feel like he’s under a heated lamp. Scratch that- a hundred heated lamps. Ones that leave your skin boiling under the heat, cracking and driving out any and all traces of feeling but the contrasting and conflicting feeling of ice cubes running down his back. Maybe that’s just sweat. Or maybe that’s just his internal panic come to life.

 

Yeah, the latter sounds about right. No need to think about sweat running down his back. Who knows what his shirt looks like underneath his uniform.

 

Hopefully the sweat won’t transfer to his uniform. But it’s a black uniform so there’s a less likely chance that anyone will notice. And judge him.

 

Finally, after what feels like a million years, Kacchan speaks up. “If he had any money, he would have given it by now. He’s a fucking coward.”

 

Yasutora hums under his breath. He stops leaning against Izuku’s desk. Tension Izuku hadn’t known was there eases away. Just a tad. “Hm, you’re probably right. Even if he did have anything on him, it’s not like he’d fight for it anyway. His quirk’s weak so there’s not much he can do against us. Heck, he’s practically quirkless.”

 

Everyone laughs like it’s the funniest joke in the world. Everyone stops looking at him. And Izuku… keeps his head down.

 

His hands are clenched. His jaw twitches with the urge to clench his teeth. Something inside Izuku had look up at Kacchan’s words against the chaos happening inside him. It’s fierce and bitter and maddening and the words are hot coal on his tongue- but he pushes it down. Shoves it away. Closes a lid on it until he can’t feel it anymore.

 

It wouldn’t be a good idea to talk back. No need to start something. Especially with Kacchan.

 

He feels the remains of the hot coal and he breathes. He’s fine.

 

I’m fine, He tells himself. I'm fine.

 

And he is. He is.

 

He just. Needs a moment.

 

“-anyways, Mito gave up his share rather quickly.” He can hear Yasutora say but he can’t really hear. He’s too busy looking at his notebook. His notebook full of heroes and their amazing quirks. Heroes powerful and cool. Like Kacchan with his explosion of a quirk-literally. Because he was going to be a hero one day, Izuku could already see it and maybe, he can too.

 

But then his eyes wander over to his hands. His plain, normal- slightly shaking- hands; skin unmarred of any childhood scars or quirk mishaps. Of any evidence of strength or power. The perfect example of a weak nobody with a useless, weak quirk.

 

“His quirk’s weak so there’s not much he can do against us. Heck, he’s practically quirkless.”

 

And Izuku wishes he could argue against that but… he can’t. because even he doesn’t know what to do with his quirk- if he could do much with it.

 

There’s a reason he doesn’t like thinking about it- or arguing against it. It’s because, well, there’s not much he can think of using it for. When he was little, he liked his quirk. He was happy he got one. He liked pulling the flowers this way and that and making them dance for his Mom. He liked pulling bugs out of the grass for fun. He liked that it was like his mother’s: Object Attraction.

 

But it wasn’t at the same time, this quirk he oh, so originally called Life Attraction. Where his mother could pull small objects towards her, all Izuku could do was.. pull small living objects. Like grass or flowers or bugs. Something small and only small.

 

And Izuku… wasn’t sure what to make with that sudden revelation.

 

When he was little, a quirk was all he could think about. He would spend days daydreaming what it would be and when he got it, he was happy. But then he saw what he couldn’t do and suddenly, his dreams seemed much farther.

 

But it was still there. His dream of being a hero was still there despite it all. Sure, he didn’t know what to do with it know but he’ll find something practical and useful for it. And yes, everyone else might not think it was much but it was something to him, despite how fundamentally weak his quirk was.

 

So he dug his nails dig into the flesh of his palm. Felt the hot coals sat on his tongue, words just begging to be let out. That- no- he wasn’t quirkless. That he had a quirk. That his quirk was just as unique as Yasutora’s limb dexterity. That he could do something with it and that it wasn’t useless no matter what they said.

 

If only he had the courage to stand up for himself. To tell them all of his unspoken intentions but...

 

The door slamming open as Izuku breaking away from his thoughts. He looks up.

 

The teacher’s standing there, looking like the picture perfect symbol of giving up. Clothes ruffled, hair messily slicked back, eyes tired and almost dead-like.

 

In other words, Mr. Kaneshiro didn’t look like he was ready to start the day.

 

“Alright, everyone. Get in your seat. I may have missed my train this morning but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.” The teacher says with as much energy as he can manage- a nice word for, well, none.

 

With great reluctance, everyone does so.

 

Class begins- more like continues- and ends the same, fast and forgetful. The next thing Izuku knows, it’s lunch time.

 

By the time Mr. Kaneshiro stands, everyone is already out of their seats and talking. Frankly, it’s a madhouse with how abrupt the change of control has shifted. And with the look of defeat already present of his teacher’s face, Izuku can tell Mr. Kaneshiro sees that too.

 

“Okay everyone,” Mr. Kaneshiro says, tiredness and stress in every inch of his expression. “Quiet down now. It’s lunch time. You know what that means so, please don’t cause a ruckus.”

 

Even with his plead for tranquility, it goes unnoticed, ignored, and shoved under the rug in one go as everyone continues on with their conversation. Needless to say, there’s no improvement in the rowdiness.

 

Well, Izuku can’t blame Mr. Kaneshiro for trying- as futile as the attempt was.

 

Luckily- and a bit sadly- this is a normal occurrence in this class so his teacher takes it into stride and all but eats his own lunch without another word.

 

Izuku eats his own lunch bit by bit, too focused on writing in his notebook. Usually during lunch, no one messes with him- including Yasutora- and Izuku’s perfectly fine with that.

 

No one really gives him a second glance; everyone is usually so engrossed in their own little bubbles to even notice what he’s doing in his own. Not that they really talk to him but that’s okay in Izuku’s case. He’s fine with being alone; it gives him time to write in his notebook- mostly reminders to do research for a particular quirk.

 

So, after making sure to stuff his pen cap in his mouth *just* in case of a muttering spell, he picks up his pen and-

 

“Oi, get your fucking hands off me!” An explosion rockets through the room as a yell pierces the air. A bright flash of light erupts a few seats in front of Izuku and he only has a couple of seconds to see a head of ash blond hair before the room is flooded with smoke.

 

Almost immediately, a smoky and sweet scent barrels into Izuku’s nose and he coughs harshly against the stench. It smells faintly of caramel. Sort of like a burnt marshmallow.

 

“Bakugo!” The teacher calls halfheartedly, hand raised over the cloud of smoke still flooding the room. “Keep it down, will you. We’re still in school, in case you haven’t noticed, and in school-“

 

“Yeah, yeah!” Izuku hears Kacchan yell in return. “I know the fucking rules.”

 

And just like that, everyone goes back to their conversations like nothing happened. And quite frankly, it kind of was. With a temper like Kacchan’s, there was bound to be a few outburst. A few accidental explosions.

 

But what everyone doesn’t know is that with Kacchan, there are no accidents. With the amount of power Kacchan has packed into his explosion quirk, there’s just as much control as well. Which is why Izuku can’t help but peek over his notebook to see what was going on.

 

“Calm down, Bakugo,” Yasutora says. His hands are raised in mock defeat. “All I did was give you a pat on the back. Aren’t friends allowed to do that?”

 

“Not when they know what happens if they do,” The sneer only makes Yasutora laugh though Izuku does see Tsubasa slowly back up a bit.

 

He sees Yasutora sneakily reach over to touch Kacchan’s shoulder. Sees as Kacchan growls and slaps the hand away. Watches Kacchan’s hands twitch as soon as his skin makes contact with Yasutora’s.

 

There’s a not-so-secret secret known by all the kids in school: touching Kacchan is a death sentence.

 

It’s not really known why exactly that is; some say it has something to do with his quirk. It resembles nitroglycerion so touching it must be dangerous. Some think it’s because Kacchan is so above everyone else, surely he doesn’t think anyone is worthy of touching him. There’s even a few that say he has a phobia of dirt.

 

But Izuku… isn’t so sure of that.

 

When you know someone or most of your life, you kind of know everything about them. Like how Kacchan still likes rice balls since he was four. How he still slings his bag over his shoulder. How, when Kacchan was little and they were still friends, he could copy all of All Might’s punches perfectly.

 

But Izuku doesn’t know what this is.

 

Touching, as far back as he remembers, hasn’t been a problem for Kacchan. Whenever he picked on someone at the park, shoving was always the first thing he did. Now, Kacchan barely slaps anyone with the palm of his eruptive hands. And when anyone does, well… it doesn’t end well for them.

 

“Oi, who the fuck do you think you’re looking at?” Izuku blinks back into reality to see red eyes glaring into his own green. It’s a sudden and jarring sight and just the right one to have him stiffening in his seat.

 

If there’s one word to describe Kacchan and Izuku’s relationship into one word, it would be this: complicated.

 

It’s no secret Izuku has known Kacchan for most if his life- and vise versa- and, quite honestly, that just makes things a bit more weird. Usually knowing someone so personally was what you called a friend. But Kacchan doesn’t see him as one and Izuku isn’t so sure himself.

 

But what he does known is that Kacchan unnerves him. Maybe it was because it those hands that had pushed him around when he was little. Or maybe it was because those hands had burned his skin all those years ago. Or maybe it was because those red eyes used to glare down at him when he fell into the first.

 

Well, whatever the reason is, Izuku does know another thing: when Kacchan turns his red eyes towards you, it’s for a reason.

 

And Izuku’s reason is that he was, well, staring. Openly. Like an idiot.

 

“N-nothing,” He says but it comes out broken and jumbled. Like he said, Kacchan somewhat unnerved him.

 

Of course, as if waiting for the moment, Yasutora takes the time to speak up. “Yeah right. I bet you’re writing in your notebook. Don’t tell me you’re writing about us?”

 

“A-actually, it…it’s about Magmat-“

 

A bang echoes through the room, a small plume of smoke curling up around Izuku’s face as he watches- feels- his notebook fly out of his hands and out of sight. There’s a clatter, of something hitting the wall, but Izuku doesn’t look. He doesn’t think he can.

 

All he can do is look straight into Kacchan’s red eyes. The world freezes for a moment, the air holding its’ breathe, as ice crawls up Izuku’s spine. His neck stiffens. His back stiffens. His hands grow still. His eyes don’t waver.

 

And Kacchan stares right back.

 

It’s like staring into fire. Raw and fiery flames trapped insides of eyes. It’s strangely hypnotic and yet his blood runs cold under that burning stare.

 

Finally, after what seemed like years, Izuku looks away. His eyes dart to the side, mind frazzled in the tangle of nerves currently running haywire inside Izuku’s body.

 

“Hmph,” He hears Kacchan huff. Something about it sounds rough and wrong. But he’s too busy clenching his own shaking hands to think much about that right now.

 

“Bakugo, what did I say-“

 

“Fuck off, teach. I heard ya.” Footsteps walk away from him but Izuku doesn’t look it. He thinks is breathe is stuck inside his lungs. His throat feels tight. His hand still shake no matter how hard he digs his nails into his skin. His quirk still flares to life and it makes his chest tight.

 

“Ha! Damn that guy’s pathetic. It’s no wonder his quirk’s so lame.” He hears Yasutora say. He sounds far away. “I mean, have you read some of the crap in here? Talk about weird.”

 

This time Izuku snaps his head up.

 

Yasutora is holding his notebook. Tsubasa is leaning over his shoulder. He’s reading it. They’re both reading it.

 

“Magmatic? You’re writing about Magmatic? Ha! That guy’s just as lame as you! He can’t even defeat a low rate villain without a support crew to help him out. And you say you’re going to be a hero with this?” Yasutora hold up the notebook like it’s trash. Izuku’s heart leaps into his throat.

 

“Wai-“

 

“He’s not.” Izuku snaps his head around to see Kacchan eating his lunch. He’s not even looking at them… “With his weak ass quirk, what can he do? Nothing.”

 

Izuku goes into overdrive.

 

The coal burns bright again. The gasoline floods his blood. The fire in his heart roars to life. Words spark to life on the tip of his tongue and all at once, something deep inside screams to be let out. Words he’ll never have the courage to say and yet they spark to life nonetheless.

 

The coldness that had once been there burns away and Izuku feels. Feels the anger. Feels the bitterness. Fees the same. Feels the determination and it’s like an inferno. A typhoon of fire waiting to be let loose and-

 

“Yasutora, return to your seat. Lunch is almost over.” Mr. Kaneshiro says and the fire dies. The coal burns out. The gasoline drains away. The coldness comes back and it stays there long after he picks up his notebook. As he sits down for class. As he goes through the rest of the day.

 

He never notices the burning eyes that follow him all day.

 

“Alright, everybody. Settle down. It’s time to start class again, which means it’s time for you to pull out your math book. Turn to page 64-“

 

By the time class ends, Izuku is all but ready to head home.

 

He feels tired, a bone-deep fatigue that makes every step he takes out of class as sluggish as he feels. His backpack feels heavy and it’s an odd feeling because he barely took any notes after lunch. Not like he did much anyways.

 

What happened between him and Kacchan had left him strangely empty; tired and drained despite not doing anything besides sit in class all day. And isn’t that odd? To feel like you’ve been pushed against the world, run six marathons, when in reality, all you’ve done is sit there doing nothing.

 

Because, in a sense, that’s what he had done: sit there and do nothing.

 

Do nothing as Yasutora had mocked him. Nothing as Tsubasa had shoved him out of the way. Nothing as everyone had laughed at him. Nothing as Kacchan had scorched his notebook and called his quirk weak. Called him weak.

 

But, then again, what could he do? Everyone was right after all; he couldn’t fight back like Kacchan could. Couldn’t use it as efficiently as Yasutora. Couldn’t even intimidate anyone like Tsubasa could with his large wings.

 

And yet he hadn’t done anything still; hadn’t spoken up for himself. Was he a coward for not doing anything? Was it such a bad thing to brace himself and take cover rather than fight back? To turn the other check because he really didn’t want to start anything?

 

He’s out of school now, barely ten steps out before his lungs feel like collapsing. His hands feel clammy. His heart thumps madly in his chest.

 

Breathe. He just needs to breathe

 

Breathe in.

 

And out.

 

In.

 

And out.

 

The air catches in the throat. His chest is starting to hurt, his lungs screaming of suffocation. It feels like the world is on his shoulders, heavy and taxing. Like a weight pulling down to the bottom of the ocean. Like he’s drowning.

 

Breathe in, breathe out.

 

In.

 

And out.

 

Izuku lets in a quick inhale and it stutters out. Frustration bites at his insides and he bites his lip in retaliation. He’s on the train now, the low hum of mechanics rumbling underneath him. There’s people on the train and it makes his head spin when he tries to see how many.

 

He tries again, letting the air fill his lungs- “Don’t bother with him, it’s not like he can do much anyway.” -and lets it stutter out. He seethes, teeth grinding to the bone, and tries again.

 

It hurts sometimes, this façade of normality- or ignorance- he plasters on his face everyday just to get through school. He doesn’t like how Yasutora mocks him. How Kacchan looks down on him. He doesn’t like how no one can *believe* in him. Because he can become a hero even with the limited quirk pumping through his veins. He can become something only his dreams can imagine.

 

He can be a hero- like All Might.

 

He can. He can! And yet… and yet..

 

Red eyes boring into his own. Mouth twisted in a slight grimace.

 

Izuku’s hand clench at his sides. A heated fire burns across his skin, his cheeks growing hot under the memory.

 

You know what? It’s doesn’t matter what Kacchan thinks or what Yasutora thinks. Izuku can become something. He can be useful. He can be a hero. No- he will be one.

 

Just… just watch. He’ll show them.

 

Shoulder hunched and energy spent, Izuku leans back against the back of his seat. His body and mind may be tired but his spirit is anything but.

 

Because he will be a hero. Just watch him.

 

 


 

 

 

As soon as he steps through the door, the sound of clattering pots reaches his ear. Some of the tension leaves his shoulders. It’s tiring to act as if nothing happened, to play this act, but he has to. For his mother.

 

 He slips his shoes at the door and calls out. “Mom. I’m home.”

 

The reply is instantaneous.

 

“Izuku!” Mom says as she pokes her head out of the kitchen. “Welcome home- and just in time too. I think I have something new for you to try.”

 

Oh?

 

“Really? What is it?” He ask, curiosity piped. His eye lids feel like lead. His stomach is in knots. But he pulls himself together. For her. “Please don’t tell me it’s octopus again.”

 

Inko laughs and some of the tension soothes at the laughter. “No, sweetie, not today. That’s next week’s dinner. And don’t worry, I think I got the recipe right this time.”

 

Izuku smiles and shakes his head. “Well, whatever you make is bound to be good.”

 

“Oh, Izuku!” His mother’s voice drifts in the small house. “You flatter me- but I’m far from good.”

 

Izuku strolls into the living room and flops on the couch. The T.V. is turned on, a commercial playing.  His backpack drops to the ground and he hears the telltale sign of escaping pencils rolling on the floor. He’ll pick that up later but for now…

 

Izuku sags on the plush sofa, head leaning back onto the heavenly pillow. He lets out a sigh as he sinks down into the plushness. He feels tired; bonelessly hollow on the inside. A drastic replacement for the jittery, energetic nerves that makes him like shit since, wow, his body feels like it’s been actually shitted on.

 

In front of him, the T.V. The news is on and Izuku stares at the screen blankly. He thinks it’s about that missing girl again but he’s not sure. Everything feels slippery, his attention slipping through his grasp as he keeps staring at the screen.

 

“Izuku?” Mom’s voice drift over from the kitchen and Izuku begrudged tears his eyes away.

 

What? Had he missed something?

 

“Hm? Sorry, did you need something?” He asks, head tilted.

 

“Nothing it’s just….” Mom pauses from her perch beside him, leaning heavily on the arm of the couch. She looks hesitant, eyes focused intently at him and it’s makes his heart skip a beat unconsciously and a chill settle on his skin for whatever reason that he doesn’t know since that’s his mother, not the other kids at school. 

 

Izuku is about to ask what’s wrong when he stops.

 

A gentle hand brushes his cheek, so soft and hesitant that Izuku’s brain crashes its’ thoughts. The gentle caress moves up for a reason Izuku doesn’t know until a thumb brushes the skin underneath his eyes.

 

“You’ve got eyebags again.” It sounds like a question but Izuku knows better. “You- You’re sure you’ve been getting enough slee-“

 

“Yeah,” He blunders. “Yeah, I have, don’t worry. It’s just….. test.”

 

It’s a meek response but one he think of on the spot.

 

He can tell his mother doesn’t believe it too; he watches as the emotions play across her face, undefinable to even him. And dammit! He hadn’t wanted her to worry. Her expression smooths down into something similar to reluctancy. She sighs, heavy and full of tension that Izuku doesn’t even know where to begin to comprehend.

 

“Alright,” she says reluctantly. “Well, try not to push yourself too hard. You know I worry about you… so…” She pauses, hesitance clear on her face. “… come to me, when you need help, or when you’re tired, or anything. Can you promise me that?”

 

Promise me.

 

Those words.

 

Just us.

 

Two words. They’re just two words and yet there’s something powerful in the meaning. To anyone else, maybe they would have heard differently but to Izuku, it was a promise. A promise he remembers from all those years ago, during a time that he can’t quite remember from a ripe age of 5 years old but the feeling resonating from those memories- the unmasked emotions so easily felt when he looks back at those times.

 

Just us.

 

Words that melted into his core, a representative of a childhood filled with an anxious mother, an absent father, and a confused child. Just us, he remembers his mother saying all those years ago; words spoken so soft and hopeful that Izuku couldn’t help but believe it.

 

But he’s 14 now.

 

He knows better. He knows that while he trust his mother with his life, he can’t trust her to know about it. To know that he still has no friends, and that maybe he never did. To know that he hates the route to school because of the crowds. To know that he has trouble sleeping and that most nights, he just stares out the windows at the stars.

 

Izuku loves his mother with all he has but he knows that if she knew what his life was like on a daily basis, she would never forgive herself. The anxious worry he’d seen growing up would come back- and he didn’t want that. His mother didn’t deserve that, not again after all these years.

 

So if lying to her to make her at ease was the cost, then he’ll gladly take it.

 

“I promise,” He says softly, ignoring the way the words roll of his tongue. Slow and sticky and so much like molasses.

 

Immediately, his mom brightens up before him. Her eyes shine with a glow behind her dark emerald eyes. Her smile perks up, like a flower in the sun. The world seems to brighten, and the illusion of lightness seems to take the weight off the world. But not Izuku. Never Izuku.

 

To him, it’s just another stone to add to the pack; another weight to hold up. Another break in his heart.

 

His mother sighs, but it’s lighter this time and much more enthusiastic. Already the words seem to take effect on her as she turns back around to cook whatever concoction her mind had conjured up. It makes Izuku happy to see her happy.

 

“The food will be ready in a minute,” Inko calls over as she busies herself with pots and pans. “I hope you don’t mind waiting.”

 

Izuku smiles, ignoring how heavy it feels on his face. Already the need to bite his lip gnaws at his insides. “Not at all.”

 

“If you say so,” She waves a ladle in her hand, back still turned to him. “Oh! I almost forgot- do you mind watering the plants really quickly? I forgot to earlier and I know if I don’t do it know, I’ll forget it later.”

 

“Sure, Mom,”

 

“Thanks, sweetie,” She calls after him as he makes his way towards the balcony. 

 

The sun is warm on his skin as he steps outside. It’s not an unbearable heat by any chance but it is appeasing one; the sunrays seem to cascade over him, washing his skin with the warmth that Izuku wishes he could grab and tuck into his pocket.

 

Outside, under the warmth of the sun, Izuku lets himself sink into that moment, lets himself just exist in nothing but a blanket of sunshine and the flowers as his only companions. It’s nice. He takes a deep breath and the sweet smell of flowers fills his nose.

 

“Alright” He mumbles to the leafy plants. “Who’s hungry?”

 

It wasn’t really meant to be a question but In Izuku’s own mind, it’s an impulse to make it so. When his days are mostly filled with nothing but mockery and jeering laughs, it’s something of a rarity to actually talk to someone- or in his case right now, something.

 

Is it kind of sad? Yes.

 

Does he mind? He used to- and he still does- but it’s hard not to see something alive in these flourishing flowers when he can practically feel the glow of need the flowers exhibit.

 

Lifting a hand, Izuku motions his hand towards the side and watches in fascination as the pink, bushy flowers follow his movement.

 

You know, it’s funny. Despite everyone else telling him how weak his quirk is, he can’t help but be fascinated by it. It’s weak and not as strong as his mother’s own pull but it’s his. His quirk that’s moving the flowers. His quirk that lets him feel his mother’s presence in the next room. His quirk. His and his alone.

 

It’s not as strong as an explosion quirk or as useful as an object attraction quirk. But it’s his. And while it may not be as powerful as many heroes quirks are nowadays, Izuku- for all his study into other peoples quirks- has learned on thing.

 

Quirks don’t make a hero, they help make a hero because, in the end, it’s the person that’s the hero, not the quirk. All Might might have a super amazing quirk but there are heroes out there, heroes like Magmatic, who don’t have that advantage. And besides…

 

Whoever said you needed a powerful quirk to help others?

 

Izuku pours the watering tin over and watches as the water sprinkles down onto the flowers. It cascades down and sinks into the dry dirt. He can almost feel the flower below preening in happiness. Or as happy as a flower can get.

 

As he moves onto the next flower- a plush, blue one this time- he can’t help but pull the flowers towards him and wonder, just wonder...

 

Magmatic uses his quirk in support of heroes. All Might uses his to take down villains and save others in one fell swoop.

 

What role can Izuku use his own quirk for?

 

When Izuku goes back inside, he’s greeted by a rather surprising sight.

 

 “Oh dammit,” Inko mutters over from her spot in the kitchen. The pots in the sink nearby rattle at her frustration.

 

“Mom?” Izuku ask, closing the balcony door. His mother doesn’t acknowledge him. She’s too busy looking for… something. “Mom, is something wrong?”

 

“Oh, uh, nothing to worry about, sweetie. I just forgot to buy rice this afternoon because we had run out and now we don’t have any for dinner and-“

 

“I can get some,” The store was only a few blocks away. He could be out and back in only ten minutes. “It’ll be no trouble..”

 

Mom looks hesitant though. “Are you sure? It’s almost dark and I don’t know how I feel about you being out at this hour.”

 

Izuku looks outside and sees that, yes, it is sunset. But still, the store was only a few blocks away. He can make it to the store and back easy peasy.

 

“It won’t take long. I’ll be back before you know it. It’s not too far away.”

 

Mom sighs. “Well, alright. If it’s not too much trouble. Just… be safe and don’t talk to strangers and don’t-“

 

“I know, I know. I won’t do anything reckless. Like I said, I’ll be back before you know it.”

 

Mom still doesn’t look sure but she still rummages in her purse and hands over a couple of coins.

 

“Stay safe and hurry home.” Mom calls as he slides on his shoes.

 

“I will. “ He calls back before he shuts the door.

 

 


 

 

 

The night sky grows darker by the minute Izuku is out here; the sun seemingly swallowed up by the night’s eternally depth black sky. It’s somewhat morbidly fascinating to watch the sun’s eternal bright light shrink and shrivel away at the infiniteness of the star-dappled black sky.

 

But, despite the pretty view above him, the moon and stars do nothing to help illuminate the sidewalk before him. Luckily, he lives in a city and streetlights are a thing.

 

It makes him feel better, in a sense. He’s by no means scared of the dark but it is sort of unsettling to be out during dark.

 

It’s an odd feeling; a foreign sensation. Like spiderwebs crawling all over your skin. Like a lamp burning your back. Like eyes following him, always following him. And it’s not to say there isn’t anyone there but still, Izuku can’t shake the blaring alarms in his head screaming at him, hey, idiot, someone’s there. And he knows no one’s there but the thought sticks to him like a stubborn burr. A wad of sticky taffy that always gets stuck in your teeth and no matter how hard you try, there’s always a piece left behind to annoy you even further into thinking there’s something there.

 

It’s… an overwhelming feeling, to say the least. Darkness can do funny things to you. Or maybe that’s just his anxiety talking.

 

Yeah, it’s probably just his anxiety.

 

He reaches the small corner store easily and fast. Buying the rice is easy enough but ringing it up is, well… let’s just say people are not his forte.

 

‘That’ll be 300 yen,” The old lady says, somehow still sounding chipper despite the fact that it’s past 8 at night.

 

“Oh, um, yeah. Right. One second,” Izuku manages to say. A sheepish grin overtakes his feature as he politely tries to pull the money from his pocket and not spill it on the ground like a fool. After a few failed attempts, he finally manages to pull the cursed money out of his pocket and gives it to her. “Here you go.”

 

“Thank you and have a good night.” The old lady says as he leaves the store.

 

“Alright, will do." Is the last thing he says before the doors close on him and he’s left in the blissful silence of the night.

 

He’d only been in there for five minutes and already his social interaction has reached the limit for the day.

 

“Well, that went well,” Izuku mutters as he adjust his hold on the bag. “Totally.”

 

Totally indeed. He really was the embodiment of social interaction. Totally.

 

A rumble of thunder roared in the distance. Izuku looks up, surprised to see rainclouds. Wow, he hadn’t realized he’d been out this long. He best get home before it starts raining. He moves to leave. Something rustles in the alleyway next to the store.

 

He stops.

 

Almost automatically, Izuku looks over at the alleyway. It’s dark and it’s impossible to see what’s there but as soon a sound quietly calls out to him, he knows who it is.

 

"Meow."

 

“Hey there,” The corners of his lips lift up as he turned to face the newcomer. “How have you been today, buddy? Catch anything lately?”

 

The cat, of course, didn’t respond. But it does butt its’ orange and white head against into Izuku’s pants, a purr vibrating from the depths of the tiny frame. Izuku couldn’t help the smile that creeped on his face.

 

“Okay, I get it. I know what you want,” Izuku chuckled. “One second.”

 

Gently putting the bag down, Izuku dug into its’ depth, searching. The cat watched as he dug into the bag, amber eyes never wavering until….

 

A purr resonated from the cat at it stared at the bag of chips in Izuku’s grasp, eyes dilated in what Izuku could only determine was glee.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Izuku said as he opened the bag. It hadn’t been a spur of the moment when he grabbed these before cashing out after all.

 

It was almost five months ago when he met a stray, boney kitten hanging outside the store. It was pitiful; ribs poking out of it’s patchy mess of fur, eyes wide as he snacked on a chocolate bar. Of course, he wasn’t just going to walk past someone needing help- because that’s what the kitten needed: Help.

 

Two months were spent gaining the kittens’ trust, which was a very challenging task. Every time he tried to get close or pet it’s fluffy head, a swipe of claws would immediately meet his assault. But before long, it was eating out of the palm of his hand- with the occasional scratch of course- and Izuku learned a lot about the feisty ball of fur currently walking up to him.

 

Like that it was a she and that she liked chips and that, as gross as it was, she liked to give in gifts in the form of, well, rats. Not his favorite gift but one appreciated to a certain extent. At least the rats were alive, in other words. 

 

Izuku sighed as the cat kneed on his pants. It’s tiny claws were digging into his skin but Izuku was long used to pain by now. “I feel like you like my chips more than me sometimes, Chip.”

 

Chip merely glanced at Izuku before letting out another meow.

 

“Alright, alright. Here.” He placed the chip on the floor and no sooner that he did that did Chip zoom in on the food.

 

Izuku looked on fondly as the cat munched on the chip. Sure, he wasn’t the best at names but that was the only thing the cat responded to. As he munched on his own chip, a sudden bought of sadness brought his smile down again.

 

“You know,” Izuku said as he dropped another chip on the ground. “Sometimes, I feel like… like… you’re my only friend. None of the other kids at school seem to like me and… I’m not sure why. But either way, I guess it’s just nice to have someone there, you know?”

 

Cat didn’t respond, of course, but it did glance up from her snack. Izuku bent down and rubbed her head. Chip purred. It approved. No scratches this time.

 

“You know what’s funny?” Izuku asked, despite knowing full well Chip couldn’t respond back. Or talk for that matter. “I.. I had the chance to stand up for myself and I- I couldn’t do it. I-“

 

Izuku snapped his head up, words halting in their path as he locked on onto the alleyway. Its pooling darkness gave nothing away but Izuku couldn’t look away. A churn of emotions bloomed in his chest, a forbidding feeling. Below him, Chip hissed and Izuku only had a second to sense something was wrong before she bounded away, disappearing across the street. He only had a second to ask, instinctively, what was wrong, before the sound of feet hitting the ground reached his ears.

 

Out of the alleyway, popping out of the darkness, was a girl. A young girl. A girl with blood on her yellow shirt, dirt stained in her white leggings adorned by a torn-up skirt. A young girl with tears in her eyes.

 

A girl with bright blonde hair with a dirtied rainbow pin stuck hazardly in her hair.

 

“Wha-Oof!”

 

A pair of skinny arms engulfed Izuku, small hands gripping the back of his jacket with desperation. Izuku staggered back. The words died on his throat. The girl trembled violently underneath him and he couldn’t find it in himself to look away from the girl’s watery, glossy eyes.

 

“P-please…” She stuttered, her eyes practically begging him with unrepressed emotion. “Please…. Help me… he-help me…..”

 

The words were lodged in his throat. The world was frozen. The sky was silent. All Izuku could see was the girls’ eyes, seemingly holding him in a trance. Feel the way her arms shaking as her fingers dug into the fabric of his jacket. Hear the shakiness n her voice. Taste the fear creeping out of her voice.

 

Izuku swallowed. His throat was dry. “From…. From who-“

 

“Please!” The girl shrilled at him, tears streaming down her face. Her arms tightened this hold around him but Izuku could only take focus of the dried blood caking her nose. “Please! We gotta go! We gotta go! He’s not far behind and-“

 

Izuku felt it before he heard it.

 

A pull. An urge. His chest felt tight. Alarms blaring in his head. A wordless, vicelike grip of alertness alerting him to something in the alleyway, so much so that Izuku tore his eyes away from the girl almost unconsciously to stare at the darkness of the alleyway. And then he felt it.

 

The rubble in the ground. The vibrations coursing through his body; at first, soft hums that made his skin tickle but one that grew and grew to rock his very core. It was like an earthquake was growing inside him; shaking him against his will so much so that Izuku had to take a staggering step back, the girl pulled along with him.

 

And then, he heard it. And then he finally saw.

 

A crack sliced through the air; the sound loud and piercing and oh so familiar as it was vague. Like a rock being ripped from the very ground.

 

And then the sidewalk before him shot up from its’s confides within the ground. The ground shattered before him, like glass on a window, and Izuku had 02 seconds to fall backwards before the concrete below him shot up. Jagged points of rock clumsily impaled the air he had just been standing on.

 

“Well, well, well,” A voice cooed from the shadows of the alleyway. “What do we have here?”

 

The girl’s arms tightened around him, fear coursing through her veins and he could understand way. Their voice-the shadow’s voice- was smooth and course like velvet but just as jagged and dark. Like honey coating a bee stinger. A tone that sounded so much like Yasutora’s.

 

And finally, he saw that it was him.

 

A man stepped out of the shadows, long-limbed and slouched; the very air of laidback radiating from the figure before him. But this person was anything but. Ripped and tattered clothes hung from the man’s body; holes littering the sleeves of the dark leather jacket and dirty, stained jeans. The man doesn’t look like much, harmless really. But the grin on his face makes a chill run down his spine.

 

“Ah, there you are, Yuzu,” The girl flinched at the name and tried to hide her face in the fabric of his shirt. “Got into some trouble, did we? That was a nasty trick you pulled back there- almost took out an eye. But that’s for another time. For now,” The man’s gaze swung towards him. He shivered. “Who do we have here?”

 

Izuku took a step back, hands shaking and throat tight. There was a lump in his throat he couldn’t swallow. This man…. This man….

 

“A… a villain.” The words tumbled out of his mouth, broken and shaky as Izuku felt in this moment. The man regarded him sluggishly, like he was something not worth his time.

 

‘You want a medal or something, kid?” The man stepped forward. Izuku took a step back.

 

The man smiled. “It seems as we’re in some sort of pickle here, don’t cha say? How about this? Give me the girl and I’ll make you’re death quick and painless. You choi-“

 

Suddenly, in what seemed like a fit of panic, the girl moved. She whiled around, tears still streaming down her face, and screamed.

 

“No!”

 

And just like that, Izuku was on the ground, hands covering his ears. There was a slight ringing there, a nagging buzz tearing a hole in his brain. It hurt- a lot- but- but he had to get up. He had to get up.

 

It was hard to lift himself up, and even more so to snake her hand in his. But it was nothing compared to running.

 

“Ah! You little bitch!’ He heard but he didn’t look back. He couldn’t.

 

What was he doing? He didn’t know. He really didn’t. Why was he doing this? Well, he couldn’t just leave her. What kind of hero would do that? What kind of person would do that to her?

 

Her: the girl on the news. Kidnapped by her home and missing for two weeks. A girl lost and afraid and being chased by a villain. And he… just moved and ran.

 

Izuku ran down the street, past the shop, and past the streetlights. The rain pelted down on him as he ran, shoes soaking wet and his clothes drenched. His lungs were dying and his legs were hurting but he couldn’t stop. Not with that man there. Not with the girl still here. He had to get somewhere safe, he had to find a hero. Most importantly, he had to lose the man.

 

He heard the girl losing breath, her breath ragged and gasping. Behind him, he heard the stomping tell-tale signs of their pursuer. Along with something airy… like something whooshing in the air….

 

Izuku ducked, throwing his hand to shove the girl down. A sewage lid flew over their head, skidding across the empty street. Izuku ignored the dent it left in the ground as he pulled him and the girl to their feet and booked it into an alleyway,

 

“Come on,” he gasped. “Come one. We can lose him. We can lose him if we just keep running. We have to keep runnin-“

 

The ground ripples below him. Something moves above. There’s a sound of something tearing, like a cloth of clothing or a rip in jeans. A faint grin appears in his view and Izuku just has enough brain cells to stumble back before debris can come crashing down on him- on them.

 

“Nice try, kid.” A deep voice rumbles from within the shadows; shadows so intense that Izuku has to strain his eyes to see the faint grin on the man’s face. “I mean-“ There’s a chuckle and Izuku hurries to pick himself up. “- Did you really think you’d get far? Did you really expect to get away from me?”

 

Small arms grab ahold of his waist and Izuku jumps at the sudden touch. His hands are shaking now, miniature earthquakes rattling his nerves and destroying any signals of “Move asshole!” Then it comes to him that, yes, he is useless right now. And that he has no idea what to do.

 

The man grins, a wide and terrifying thing to behold, and takes one step forward. Izuku takes a step back. The grin widens.

 

“Aw, come on now, kid. “ The man coos, a tone so disgusting in his ears. “No need to be scared. I won’t hurt you- at least, not in a way you’ll feel if you don’t give me the girl. I got important plans for that girl.”

 

“I-I” The words fail on his useless tongue as he stumbles back, legs back peddling away. Away from this man. Away from this scenario. Away. Away from this-

 

The girl lets out a soft kneeing sound, so shrill and high pitch that Izuku has to remember that he has to get her out. Get her away from this man. He has to try- try and get her out. He has to.

 

“So, what’ll it be?” The man ask, impatience bleeding into his tone as he takes a menacing step forward.

 

And that’s when he sees that this man- villain- doesn’t really look like, well, man.

 

The man’s clothes are in tatters, fabric barely hanging on his body with dying threads. Ripped seams and strings hang are tossed aside, revealing what’s underneath. And what’s underneath is not pretty.

 

Stone as pale as snow and as sharp as a knife prod out from the man’s bleeding skin, jagged rock growing out of the skin like a blooming flower. Blood drips from the openings, flowing down like trickles of water. Now, that in and of itself is terrifying- it’s so unnatural to see a quirk work this gruesome- but that’s not why he’s scared.

 

It’s because there’s more than one. Scattered all over the man’s body are more stone pillars. Jagged rocks spike out from his knees, his elbows, his arms, his body, and even now, Izuku can see the slowly forming horns breaking from underneath the skin.

 

Somehow, the villain grins wider. “So, like what you see?”

 

No. He really doesn’t. He really doesn't.

 

“Heh, you think this is cool? Just watch what I can do with them.” And that’s all Izuku has time to hear before he’s pulled backward just in time to see the stone spikes ram itself into the ground he was just standing on.

 

The rock embeds itself into the ground, concrete flying everywhere. Shards of the stone go flying. It’s a pale color, distinctly off-white and so much like….

 

Bone.” The words gasp out of his mouth, his knees trembling and his hands shaking.

 

The man looks around the bone spikes and laughs. “Heh, so you finally see it, kid? Cool, isn’t it? Good, because it’s the last thing you’ll see as you die. Me- if you don’t give me the girl.”

 

Izuku takes a shaky breath in. The arms around him tighten. His throat closes up. Tears well in his eyes.

 

“Come on, kid.” The villain snaps, ripping his bone out of the ground. Debris flies everywhere. “I don’t have all night.”

 

Izuku swallows the dry spit, his throat a desert. His legs are shaking or maybe that’s the girl. Or maybe both.

 

“Kid!”

 

“Okay…” Izuku fumbles out. “Okay.”

 

Slowly, Izuku reaches down and peels the girl’s hands away from his torso. Of course, she protests, arms fighting against his shaking grip but Izuku quickly twist away from her and turns around, just slightly. He grabs her arm and finally, finally, he manages to tear his unblinking gaze from the man to the girl.

 

Blood still cakes a small stream down her nose but snot dribbles down alongside it. Her hair, a bright blonde looks flat and dead in the dark but her eyes, her blue, blue eyes, stare right into his. She’s scared. Utterly and holy scared and it makes Izuku unknowingly tighten his grip on her because it shouldn’t be like this. She shouldn’t have to be chased down by a villain. She shouldn’t be shaking this badly in his arms. She shouldn’t have to be saved by a weak 14-year-old kid who’s barely keeping it together because she needs him to- to- to what? Save her?

 

It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t.

 

She should be saved by a hero, a brave and effective hero, who can bring down this villain with bones growing out of him much stronger than Izuku ever could and she should be handed back to her family with a smile because everything was okay now and she was safe and back home but no, it’s not like that because all she has is Izuku. And he’s… he’s…

 

Scared.

 

Nervous.

 

Weak.

 

What could he do? How can he possible save her? Him, with his useless life attraction quirk that is even more useless because he can only nudge a living thing out of the way and is leagues away from taking down something as big as this villain in front of him and he can’t win this. He can’t beat this villain. He can’t get them both away. He can’t get her home to her parents.

 

He can’t be her hero.

 

“You? Be a hero? Hah, give it a rest, Deku. Like someone as weak as you can possibly do anything with that kind of quirk.” Yasutora sneers in his ear, a ghost of his words passing through his head. And he’s right. Izuku is weak. His quirk can’t do much and it’s as strong as a newborn kitten. He’s utterly powerless and he can’t possibly believe he can beat this man. If Kacchan were here, he could beat this villain. But him?

 

What can he do? There’s only one option so really, what else is there to do….

 

“It’s going to be okay,” He whispers to her and tries so damn hard to ignore the horrified look dawning in her blue, blue eyes. “It’s going to be okay.”

 

His trembling hands shakingly pull her forward, his other had snaking around to grip the sleeve of his jacket.

 

“It’s going to be okay.” He repeats and he’s not sure if it’s for him or for her, all he knows- hears, remembers- are the words that saved so many others. Words that helped him when he was in the dark. “It’s going to be fine.”

 

What else is there to do…

 

He tugs down the jacket sleeve, harsh and swiftly, until it’s halfway off his shoulder, hanging off his hand like a too-big shirt. His eyes never leave hers. His grip on her arm loosens.

 

“Everything is fine,” Because as useless as his quirk is, as weak as he is- a scrawny 14 year old boy- is, as unfortunate as it is that he was there in her time of need rather than an actual hero, he’s here. He’s here, and despite being weak and useless and a bad replacement for a hero, he can do something.

 

His hands are shaking, his body is trembling, tears are prickling in the corner of his eyes, and his blood is running cold, but somehow-someway- Izuku manages to pull his jacket off in one swift tug. He releases his grip on the girl’s arm and spins around. He can see the exact time the villain’s eyes spark with something, can see the gears turning with a grind in the man’s head, before he reals back his arm and throws.

 

He doesn’t stay to see if he hit his mark or if his half-assed plan worked. All he does is snatch the girl’s arm again and runs.

 

What else is there to do…..

 

Than to try with very ounce of your heart.

 

The girl cries out at the sudden yank and he can tell she’s barely keeping up if the gasping breaths are any indication. Her stride is slow, much less than his, and he yanks her forward again.

 

It’s dark, too dark to see anything. The only light giving him any indication of where he’s even putting his feet are the dim streetlight and occasional lightning strikes from the incoming thundering rain above. The ground shakes, a rumble that shakes his cores, before the most ear-splitting scream shrills past the pelting rain and frantic footsteps. It’s angry. It’s mad. It’s hell in sound form.

 

He chances a glance back- just one- and he immediately regrets it.

 

Behind him, past the curtain of rain and darkness, is the villian. He’s not grinning anymore. The bone spikes are countless on his body as he throws his jacket on the ground, shredded and torn up and fucked up in more ways than one. And the man’s eyes promise the same thing.

 

Izuku’s eyes widen. The man shifts, a crouch in his stance.

 

Oh, fuck.

 

“Run!’ He screams, yanking the girl forward again and shoving her forward. She lets out a pained scream but its’ lost in the rumbles from above. “Run! He’s coming! Run! Run-“

 

Lightning strikes again. Soft pellets of rain sprinkle on his nose. His eyes clear for a split second, as imaginary wind whistles in his ear. His blood runs cold. He looks up.

 

The villain is above them, bones growing on his body, as he reaches forward. His hand is outstretched. Reaching. Reaching for-

 

Izuku’s gaze looks at the girl. She’s stopped running, just for a split second, when she heard the scream of rage and her mouth is morphing into a of her own scream as her eyes lock onto the hand reaching for her.

 

Izuku’s heart stops.

 

No… No…

 

“No!”

 

”Ha! Damn that guy’s pathetic. It’s no wonder his quirk’s so lame.”

 

“Don’t bother with him, it’s not like he can do much anyway.”

 

Mocking laughs. Judging eyes. Eyes following him. Red eyes.

 

“His quirk’s weak so there’s not much he can do against us. Heck, he’s practically quirkless.”

 

Izuku throws his hand forward and reaches. Reaches out and grabs what his eyes can’t see. Grabs and pulls.

 

The villain- are his eyes tricking him?- startles back, jerking to a stop in the air. The confusion is gone in less than a second before the eyes turn on him.

 

“You’re really getting on my nerves, kid.” Is all he hears before the man was standing there one second and the next, something white flashes in the corner of his eyes, and then there’s something embedded in his shoulder.

 

Izuku cries out, hands automatically reaching up to grasp the bone impaling his arm, but it’s useless and the man pushes in further. Agony shoots through his body and Izuku falls to his knees. His vision is going dark and his hands are going weak. His shirt grows warm on his skin and Izuku watches with numb terror as red contrast greatly with the blue of his shirt.

 

He barley feels the tears fall down his cheeks.

 

“So much for trying to play the hero.”

 

He looks up, head lolling to stare at the man’s growing grin and raising hand, and really, that’s all he can do is stare. Stare as the man raises his arm. Stare as the bones grow from the palm of his hand- sharp and jagged. Stare as the girl begins to scream, her blue, blue eyes widening. Stare as the arm comes down.

 

He feels the pain as soon as it happens.

 

Sharp spikes slice across his neck and body and chest, swift and deep in its penetration and it feels worse than any paper cut. The bones dig and dig and dig past his skin and into his flesh and he feels all of it. Feel show it slices into him. How it digs past his ribs and into his throat. Feels it bury itself into his airway that is his throat, pushing down on his jugular with a loud “sheesh.” Feels how the lightning shoots him, how the agony stabs him just as the bones are. It’s like fire baking his skin, pure fire with how it torments you with pain before adding more and more and growing more and more until you’re nothing but the blaze. That’s how it feels when he’s stabbed. That’s how it feels as he dies.

 

The man rips out his bones and Izuku lands gracelessly onto the wet ground. He thinks he sees something warm underneath him but his vision is going dark and he can’t seem to think properly. The rain is a background companion to him, since his constant one in pain. Pain when he tries to breathe. Pain when he tries to move. Pain. Just pain.

 

“No, no!” He hears someone scream, shrill and loud like the buzzing currently growing around him and it causes his eyes to move.

 

The girl. She’s still here. She’s still in trouble. He has to… he has to…

 

He coughs, wet and ragged in his ears, and coughs and coughs and he can’t stop. Air is escaping him and he feels himself growing weak. He feels so weak. And tired. He’s so tired. Perhaps he can just close his eyes real quick….

 

No, no, the girl. The girl. He has to…

 

Has to…

 

His hand twitches before flopping back on the ground. His body feels sluggish. He can’t find the energy to move anymore.

 

Something darts in front of him and his eyes stare unmoving at the small blob hiding underneath the dumpster, in the shadows. An animal? A rat?

 

Maybe he can… He has to….

 

He’s not sure.

 

Breathing is hard now. His chest hurts. Air isn’t coming in. His hand is limp. He stares unblinking at the animal. He has to get up. He has to move. The girl.. she’s going to die and he has to do something. Anything. Something.

 

But his vison grows dim either way and Izuku can’t help it when the darkness pulls him in and down. He’s sinking, sinking into the growing darkness.

 

No, no, he has to get up. He has to move. But he can’t. he can’t and he wants to so bad but there’s no fighting the water pulling him in nor the cold seeping into his bones.

 

But then his chest tightens. Against the ever growing darkness pulling him in, against the numbness crawling up his body, he can feel something. A pressure stringing within him, growing in time with the darkness.

 

His fingers urge to move, a habit but not quite so right now. It feels different somehow, something more than instinctual. More than a habit.

 

He’s still staring at the rat and it stares right back. There’s an urge in his chest, instinct latching on and he reaches for it. But he can’t move. He can barely see. But somehow, his fingers twitch.

 

There’s a squeak, barley audible in the buzz consuming his ears. And then, it doesn’t feel so cold anymore. There’s a tingling in his outstretched fingertips, a warmth settling onto his skin.

 

Maybe he’s dying. Maybe it’s the blood loss. But he can feel something, like how he can feel the pressure in his chest growing.

 

And then, there’s something settling inside him and for a second, it feels like a warm sun. 

 

The cold’s gone. The rain stops. The sounds disappear. It’s only him and the tiny sun inside him. He feels nothing but warmth. And then suddenly, he can feel everything.

 

He can feel the rain dropping down on him, cold and harsh and wet. He can feel the cold ground underneath him. See the darkness surrounding him. Hears the screams and the mocking laughter. Taste the water on the tip of his tongue. Smell the ozone in the air. A concoction of senses, mashing and colliding inside him, trapped inside of him until-

 

The warmth died.

 

And the world exploded.

 

 


 

 

 

On a dark street, in the pouring rain, a girl screamed.

 

 In the shadows of the dark, in the covers of the night, a man grins down at her.

 

 Under the angry clouds, the loud thunder rumbling above, and on top of the blood pooling around him, Izuku opens his eyes.