I want to believe that there's more.
That we could be more.
Hell, we could be heroes.
Midoriya Izuku wants to be a hero. Anyone can tell you that. It's all he ever talks about.
Midoriya Izuku wants to be a hero. He keeps countless journals on heroes, writing down their quirks and the specifics of it. It has always been a belief of Kacchan's that heroes with more powerful quirks are more likely to be successful. Which is, Izuku has to admit, true. But he knows a lot of heroes who has saved countless people with a quirk that isn't quite flashy nor suited for hero work. He has seen lesser known heroes, has even searched up on the dark web info on underground heroes whose quirk makes them practically quirkless in combat.
I'm so sorry, Izuku.
Why? Why are you sorry? You didn't do anything wrong. It's not your fault. Why are you crying? Stop.
I'm so sorry.
Midoriya Izuku wants to be a hero. Even when his doctor looks at him with pity. Even when his mom cries, blaming herself. Even when she doesn't think to encourage, doesn't tell him he can become a hero. Even when Kacchan knocks his hand away and screams at him, even when the ridicules and insults bury themselves deep under his skin and make a home for themselves. Even when his very own father turned his back on him and left them all alone. Even when the whole fucking world has given up on him.
Midoriya Izuku wants to be a hero.
Izuku's short legs don't carry him fast enough as he dashes down the streets, on the verge of being late for school. It's not that he had woken up late—no, he got up at the exact same time he always did, got dressed in record time, ate breakfast leisurely with his mom, and left home on time sharp. Earlier, he had passed a kid who dropped her pocket money she was going to save up down the drains on the streets, so Izuku managers to pull the gratings out and climbed in to grab the soaked piece of paper for her. So now he's running to school late with his shoes soaked in dirty water.
He slows down at the crossing, a junction with three roads that usually is more crowded later on in the evening when everyone is going out for the Friday night. An old lady pushes her cart of takoyaki, though it seems to be stuck, unable to get out of the crossing and up onto the pavement. Without any hesitation, Izuku throws all thoughts of going to school on time out of his head and head over to her.
"Good morning, auntie!" He calls out to her, already yanking the front of her cart onto the pavement. He adds, to be polite, "Can I help?"
Without waiting for an answer, he moves around to the other side, pushing the cart and lifting it with all his five-year-old strength onto the pavement when the wheels hit the elevated path. He bows to the old lady and runs off in the direction of pre-school. "Have a good day, auntie!" Izuku calls back.
As Izuku dashes around the corner, the woman sighs, shaking her head fondly, "Hard to find kids like him, these days."
Izuku ignores the squish, squash, squish of his shoes. His breathing comes hard and uneven as he forgets to fit his small, weak body with oxygen. When he finally reaches the nursery, he puffs up his chest, and walks inside. He sneaks over to a corner, unnoticed by the other children playing in their small classroom. His Hero Analysis journal is taken out and placed onto his lap, scribbling away on theories and such.
He doesn't know how long has passed when he hears the pitter patter of rain on the glass doors.
Izuku doesn't flinch. He doesn't react negatively. He looks up and smiles. He isn't going to give that bully the satisfaction.
"Wipe that shitty grin off your face," Kacchan snarls. It seems he's updated his vocabulary a little bit more in the past week, taking it from Auntie Mitsuki.
"Ah, Kacchan," Izuku perks up, beaming so bright Kacchan blinks in his bright expression, "Did you catch the hero fight with Ingenium?"
Kacchan looks at Izuku for a moment before huffing and turning away. Izuku guesses it's his lack of reaction to Kacchan's very obviously hostile tone, as the boy is used to getting all the weaker kids to cower before him without even lifting a finger. It's a classic case of a child's quirk being so much better than the people around them that they grow an overinflated ego, so much so that when they're convinced they can be a hero, they fail with no understanding as to why. Usually, the shock of not always being the best sends them into a NEET mode, and if not handled correctly, will hurt their future as it would be too late to change the beliefs they grew up with. But damn if Izuku isn't going to save his best friend from the fate that lies in wake for the boy dreaming to get into UA.
"Oh, did you not?" Izuku questions, to which Kacchan snaps back bitingly:
"Huh? Of course I did! Who did you think I am, shitty Deku?"
"Ahh..." Izuku smiles serenely, "As expected of Kacchan. I think keeping up with all the latest news on villains and heroes is what would make a top hero later on!"
"But Ingenium was so cool right? Apprehending the villain all alone."
"Tch." Kacchan turns and stalks away, leaving Izuku hanging.
He looks down at the page he was writing on, tapping his pencil to the dirty paper covered in smudges of graphite that stuck to the side of his hands. He had left off on an extensive analysis of Ingenium's abilities and what the limits of it were. By now, after almost three years since the hero's debut, he managed to find a list of limits to the hero's engines, how long he can use them for on an extended period of time, and how fast the engine can take before overheating per second. Though he's also got a good grip on Ingenium's moral compass, how far his justice goes whilst observing how he deals with hostage situations—
"The villain was weak, that's all." Kacchan's voice snaps him out of his trance of mumbling, causing him to look back up sheepishly. The boy plops down in front of Izuku and throws some sheets of paper on the ground.
"But if he used his head, his quirk could be extremely useful!" Izuku reasons.
"Yeah, well, it's not like he can teleport that far," Kacchan's voice doesn't lose its intensity even when he looks down at his hands and starts balling the paper up.
"True," Izuku taps his pencil on his chin, looking up as he leans back on the wall. "I estimate he can teleport about twelve meters, or more, at a time."
Kacchan snorts, resisting the urge to raise a brow, impressed by Izuku's thorough, almost obsessive observations. "Yeah, like I said—weak. I bet I could beat him up right now!" He covers the ball with another sheet of paper, twisting it around at the end.
"No, but what's impressive is that, if you look closely, Ingenium is moving before he even teleports! He gets to where the villain teleported the moment he appears, almost like he knew where the villain will teleport every time! So cool!"
"No way!" Kacchan shouts, looking up for a brief moment as he starts to draw All Might's face on the paper with a black marker. "I bet it's just his quirk."
Izuku laughs, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, I notice that kind of stuff, cuz without a quirk, when I become a hero I would have to rely on my—"
In a split second, Kacchan's demeanour changes. He drops the paper and pen he was holding and lurches forward. Izuku winces, a gentle cry leaving his lips as smoking palms burn a brand into bare skin.
"You still haven't given up yet, useless fucking Deku?" Katsuki screams into face something not befitting for a six-year-old.
"I—I—I—" Izuku feels a tightness in his throat, feels the uncontrollable trembling threatening to tear open his skin and show the world just how terrified he is right now. "I can still—I can still be—I can still be a hero, K—Kacchan."
"Speak up, shitty Deku!"
His smile comes out crooked and more of a grimace if anything. "Um, it would—uh, I think—I think that it would be—um, it would be symbolic to have a—for a—for the number one hero—"
"To—to have a, uh, to have the first quirkless hero—as his, uh—as his sidekick. You know?"
"Tch," Kacchan drops Izuku from the tight position he was being held in, falling into a slouch that seems even more intimidating than him standing at his full height of three feet and nine inches. He turns and walks away, but not before grabbing his Teru Teru Bozu. Izuku looks down and sees the extra paper Kacchan brought for him scattered on the floor.
Izuku pauses before the messy, handwritten poster on the telephone pole. On it is a crayon drawing of what looks to be a brown-spotted drawing of a... dinosaur? coupled with what seems to be a red collar with the kanji for dog on it. Below are more letters, saying, last seen near Dagobah beach, if found please return to Hana, though he just barely makes it out. In the corner of the paper, in much neater handwriting, is a number and name. Izuku jots in down in the back of his hero notebook, which is filled with similar information.
After peering into a ramen place for a quick look at the clock at its back wall, Izuku decides he doesn't need to be home till late and his mom will probably assume that he's at the playground with the other kids. He runs as fast as his tiny waddling legs can carry him, off in the direction of Dagobah beach. He knows he should probably tell someone, but he has to finish this before dark. The sun is still high in the sky when he reaches the waterside.
It's a mess, the trash-filled beach. But Izuku's mind focuses on his thought that a dog could only have so many places to hide.
"Inu!" Izuku shouts as he pads down to the first pile of rubbish. He climbs onto a broken washing machine, grabbing onto a ledge of metal when his foot slips on the creaking door of it. He assumes the dog is literally called Dog as the collar stated. "Inu!"
He jumps onto the roof of a half buried car, stumbling forward but catching himself before he falls into a face-full of broken clothes-hangers. He kneels down on the rusted roof, wrapping his fingers over the window frame without the actual window of the car in it. Holding tight, he lowers his head so that he's peering into the car upside-down.
Izuku yelps and loses balance, falling forward face-first into the sand. He manages to not break a neck doing that and groans. He pulls himself up, dusting the sand from his clothes and pulling his backpack onto his back again. Luckily nothing's fallen out when he flipped on his back. Izuku walks forward and crouches before the rusty car, studying its inside.
A boy is lying in the back seat, his legs crossed and his eyes staring at Izuku amusedly. He doesn't seem to need a cushion to rest his head on the metal door on the other side of the car, instead propping himself up with a pair of huge, deep red wings.
"Hi," Izuku says, unafraid of the stranger who only looks to be about six, maybe seven years older than him. "What are you doing in there, Onii-san?"
The boy hums. "I could say the same for you, squirt."
"I'm doing hero work!" Izuku replies, unhesitant as he pokes a thumb into his chest.
The boy relaxes back into his wings. Izuku can't help but feel this spot is a bit dangerous, considering he could get stuck in the windows as the door is trapped by the huge mass of sand half-burying it, even spilling some into the interior of the car itself.
"Ah!" Izuku remembers why he's here. "Have you seen a dog with brown spots around here? Red collar with the word dog on it? Responds to Inu, probably."
Onii-san seems to contemplate something for a moment before he kicks his foot out, causing the passenger seat to bounce. There is a high-pitched noise and a blur of white and brown darts out from the front of the car onto Onii-san's lap. A dog with a red collar bounds around, seemingly excited for no reason.
"Inu!" The dog responds and tackles Izuku, pushing him onto his back as it licks his face furiously. Izuku looks at the collar and below the kanji inscribed on it is a number, the very same one on the poster. He smiles, but it falls in a moment.
"Why didn't you return him to the owner?" Izuku asks the Onii-san. He frowns at the older boy's nonchalant expression.
"Well, it's too much hassle," he says, shrugging and not meeting Izuku's eyes.
"A hero would help anyone no matter the hassle!" Izuku shouts.
Ah, whatever," Onii-san's face contorts into an irritated one, as if someone woke him from a nap. "I don't wanna be a hero, either way. Too much work."
Izuku crosses his arm and huffs, letting go of Inu, the small dog yapping rapidly as it runs around in circles. "You say that," Izuku pulls up his best impression of Auntie Mitsuki giving a lecture to a misbehaving Kacchan. "But if people like you actually help instead of lazing around, then there wouldn't be that much work for heroes to do!"
Onii-san puffs out a breath of laughter, bemused by where Izuku's train of thought arrives at. He replies, "Well, squirt, just one person isn't going to make a difference."
Of course not. Izuku deflates. If someone like All Might can't even make a difference alone, then what use would a useless, quirkless kid be to the world? All he's doing is existing, and occasionally helping people under the pretence of actually achieving his goal of becoming a hero, impossible as it may be. He's just a waste of space, really—one day when he faces his Maker, he will have to dig up the little acts of everyday heroism that will undoubtedly not count for much when he has to justify if the Maker made the right choice in allowing Izuku to exist at all—
"Okay—alright!" Onii-san tries to wave away the heavy pressure on his chest, a guilt with no source nor reason. "I'll help!"
Immediately the atmosphere around them brightens up and Onii-san blinks away the spots in his eyes from the sudden ray of light that originated from Izuku's brilliant smile.
"Great!" Izuku beams. "We'll return the dog."
Onii-san sighs, exasperated. He fishes a phone (Endeavour themed) out of his hoodie (also Endeavour themed) and beckons for the dog to come over. He types in the number on the collar and presses to call out. Izuku crouches before the dog, his hand hovering, dipping close enough for the dog to yap at him before he pulls his hand up higher. It teases Inu, the tiny dog going on its hind legs and nipping at his hand. Izuku keeps an ear on the voices next to him, one belonging to Onii-san and one a muffled voice distorted by the speaker, just as he scratches Inu's belly and the dog rolls over.
Once the receiver clicks, Izuku turns to look at the Onii-san.
"Ahh..." he beckons the younger boy over, "I'll write you the address—I've already got it memorised—I'll write you the address and—"
Izuku cocks his head to the side, studying the Onii-san. "No."
Onii-san pauses, his face frozen. "What?"
"You're taking me to their house." Izuku smiles a sickeningly sweet smile.
"No," Onii-san retorts, "I don't have to."
"But you will," Izuku ends it, picking up the dog. Despite its small stature, its weight almost crushes Izuku as he tries to balance it on his hip before he lets go, the dog slipping on the sand and getting right back up into the giddy bouncing. He looks over to where Onii-san stands up, taking note of the uncontrollable bounding of his leg, the same way he was doing when he was in the car.
Izuku plants his tiny fists on his hips and demands, "Lead the way, Onii-san."
Onii-san makes a pained face, his grimace lasting a second before he exhales softly. A smile is pulled up onto his lips and he picks the dog up, carrying it under his arms. Then, without warning, he grabs Izuku around the waist and hoists him up. Izuku cries out in surprise, feeling something soft supporting his arms and balancing him as Onii-san slung him over his shoulders.
"Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride—" Squealing, Izuku covers his mouth as Onii-san's wings lift and flap once, immediately pushing them into the sky. The ground pulls away from where Izuku stares at it over Onii-san's shoulders.
When Izuku twists on the shoulder, he sees small pointy objects—feathers, he realises—pushing and holding him in the air, shifting to accommodate his new position. Wind whips past his face, stinging his cheeks in an exhilarating way. Izuku lets out a breathless laugh, eyes wide as he feels the ecstatic beating of his heart, the rapid thump thump thumpthumpthump—never-ending and pulsing with the blood in his ears. Like the steady rhythm of music, blood is pumped through his body, faster than fast, a feeling of euphoria grips his hearts. His fingers bunch into Onii-san's school uniform for a moment, as he's scared of falling off. Though his mind is sharp and knows that no matter what, the feathers will catch him, his body knows different and will always fear the tiny slip, the quick passing of buildings below them, close, yet too far.
But the fear is welcome. It's what pumps blood through his veins, what carries the chemical through his body—something Izuku would later come to know as C9H13NO3, and later, adrenaline.
Both Onii-san and Izuku let out a soft sound as they touch down on a lawn. Izuku shivers, not realising that his hands were not holding on to anything for a minute or two already in the fiver minute flight. The feathers compromise around him and let him slide down onto the grass with a quiet 'oomf'. His legs wobble, weaker than he expected, and the pair gives out from underneath him.
Unbeknownst to Izuku, the Onii-san watches him uneasily as the dog slips from his hold and ran up to the house, ducking into the pet door. The younger boy laughs breathlessly as he walks to ring the doorbell, and Onii-san wavers in his decision to join Izuku. When Izuku looked at him so readily and spoke to him with such conviction, chills ran down his spine at the absolute intensity of his stare, whether Izuku knew or not.
This isn't the first heart he's moved. Nor will this be the last.
After all, this is a story of a boy with a fire in his gaze that could warm the coldest of hearts—and sometimes even burn them. This is the story of a boy who could be an angel—yet could readily be the very Devil himself. This is the story of a fall from grace, and the battle to rise again.
The Onii-san sighs.