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Road to Ruin

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UA is a massive school. It had never really hit Midoriya just how absolutely huge the most prestigious hero school in Japan was until he found himself standing in front of it, fiddling with the straps of his yellow backpack and shifting back and forth. Crowds of third-year middle schoolers push by him, rushing into the various testing segments in an attempt to not be late.

Midoriya stands still as they pass him, worrying his lip in an attempt to keep from mumbling his thoughts out loud. He knows without checking his phone that he’s got 18 minutes until the practical, the last part of his entrance exam for this school, begins. They had taken the written portion of their exams two days ago, and the results had yet to come in, though Midoriya was certain he’d passed. Giran would have his head if he didn’t at least make it into General Studies.

The thought of Giran sours his expression, a reminder of why he’s here in the first place. When he was younger he’d dreamed of this day, of taking his first steps towards being a hero. Now that he was actually here, though… Well, he’d given up on that dream long ago.

Someone like him couldn’t become a hero, yet… here he is.

At UA.

God, he thinks, nose wrinkling, I hate irony.

He steps forward, his shoulders stiff as he does, but stops just as quickly. Bakugou is behind him, approaching with a frustration not aimed at him. His footsteps are loud in Midoriya’s ears, and Midoriya turns to meet him.

Bakugou starts, and Midoriya is reminded once again that not everyone can pick out their childhood friend’s footsteps from fifteen feet away in a crowd. Midoriya raises a hand and waves, smiling softly, and Bakugou takes it as an invitation to put his glare back on and stomp over.

“The fuck, Deku?”

“Good morning to you too, Kacchan.” There's a moment of silence before Bakugou roughly puts a hand on his head, pushing him down and ruffling his hair semi-affectionately. It’s affectionate by Bakugou standards, at least.

“I’m guessing you figured something out if you’re here, then?” Midoriya opens his mouth to answer, but Bakugou is already leaving, less aware of the time than Midoriya is (17 minutes until the exam), and less willing to actually get dragged into a conversation this early in the morning. There's a quiet sort of murmuring from someone, asking something about a sludge villain, and Midoriya resigns himself to following behind Bakugou once more.

A split second too late, he realizes that he’s stepped wrong. The ground rushes to meet him and at least five people look over to watch the impending disaster. Midoriya attempts to right himself, throwing one hand forward as he tries to untangle his feet. One of the bystanders suddenly appears next to him, and the next thing he knows, he’s weightless. His head turns to the left, taking in the girl next to him (pads on her fingers, touch-activated quirk, rosy cheeks) as she sets him down upright, releasing her quirk.

Her face twinges, smile tightening for a second before it falls back to a gentle one. Midoriya files that away as a possible backlash from her quirk. She presses her fingertips together, laughing a little nervously as she does.

“Sorry for using my quirk on you without your permission! I just figured that it would be bad luck to trip right before the entrance exam, right?” There's a pause and her eyes nervously flit towards the entrance, then towards Bakugou. Midoriya hums to himself (she doesn’t know that they still have 16– no, 15– minutes until the exam starts), tilting his head with a gentle smile.

“It’s okay. I appreciate the save! We’ve got about 15 minutes until we have to be in the exam room, so you can calm down.” The girl blinks, then laughs a little bit. She tugs at the scarf around her neck, fidgeting in embarrassment.

“Was it that obvious? I don’t have a very good sense of time when I get nervous, so I was hoping to get to the exam room early and just avoid the possibility of being late altogether.” Midoriya blinks, his eyes catching on the way her eyebrows twitch before he glances at Bakugou. His old friend has since stopped, glaring at the two of them as if they’ve personally offended him, and Midoriya lets out a breath from between his teeth.

Don’t tell anyone your name unless you have to, kid.

“My name’s Midoriya Izuku,” he finally says, ignoring her semi-rhetorical question altogether. He knows he isn’t supposed to reveal this kind of information to anyone but, well, Giran just didn’t want him making friends, right? What’s so wrong with exchanging pleasantries? Almost as an afterthought, he sticks out a hand for her to shake, smiling half-heartedly. “Pleasure to uh, stumble into your acquaintance…?” That finally gets a laugh out of her, and she grabs his hand with her own, lifting her pinky (definitely touch activated, all five fingers like Shigaraki’s).

“Uraraka Ochako,” she responds, smiling behind her scarf. Midoriya hums, his smile still feeling tired and plastic as they shake hands. There's a brief moment after they drop hands where Uraraka looks like she wants to keep talking, but Bakugou chooses that moment to decide that their pleasant conversation is taking a little too long, and he whirls around on his heel, glaring.

“Deku, come on! We’re gonna be late!” More people stop, turning to watch the conversation with a sort of bored fascination usually reserved for watching the end of a villain fight, the quiet moments of cleanup and arrests. Midoriya rolls his eyes, gestures for Uraraka to follow after him, and then turns towards Bakugou, raising his voice just enough to be heard across the distance.

“Kacchan, really? You should know better than anyone that I’m never late! We’ve got 13 minutes to find our way to the examination area.” He stops, momentarily, stepping over a suspicious puddle left by someone’s quirk, before continuing at his leisurely pace, never quite catching up to Bakugou.

Bakugou, in response, merely huffs something about how early is on time and begins trudging towards UA’s entrance once more, two feet ahead of Midoriya, parting the seas with the sheer force of his glare alone. Uraraka’s footsteps behind him sound hesitant, following the path they’re carving but less certain of following Bakugou specifically. Midoriya can tell the exact moment that she decides to stop following behind them, heading towards her seat in the auditorium, assigned via ID number and based on Junior High.

This means that Midoriya and Bakugou are right next to each other, which comes as no surprise to either of them.

Present Mic begins informing them about the types of robots they’ll be fighting, but Midoriya finds himself tuning out the lecture. Instead, he bites his lip as he quietly takes in the examinees within the room, guessing their quirks, figuring out who to stay out of the way of. Knowledge is power, after all.

The more you know, the more power you have. The less they know, the less power they have. Got it? Learn all you can and give them nothing in return.

Midoriya doesn’t realize that he’s started murmuring about quirks, his teeth no longer tugging at his lip, until Bakugou subtly nudges him. He goes right back to biting his lip, tapping his fingers against his arm, and bouncing his leg to get out any nervous energy. There’s too much information to take in. Present Mic is still displaying the screen with the robots (one-pointer two-pointer three-pointer all different strengths avoid zero pointer at all costs), and he can hear the girl a couple of seats down shifting nervously in her seat (tap tap tap on her thighs, uneven pattern, nervous tick?), and his brain was still pointing out who would excel at this test and who wouldn't (a boy with a tail would do excellently, the girl whose hair was changing color not so much), and there’s a boy standing ramrod straight, one arm pointed directly at him, a glare on his face, and Midoriya realizes that he’s been addressed and, to his horror, he has absolutely no fucking clue what’s been said to him. The room is silent save for a couple of examinees shifting in their seats, and Midoriya’s throat tightens.

Bakugou is no help, taking one look at Midoriya’s face and snickering at his plight, leaning on his hand in amusement. Midoriya opens his mouth to say something and, to his utter dismay, the words “I’m sorry?” come out, sounding somewhat hysterical.

The glasses-wearing examinee seems to take that as his answer, as he huffs and sits back down in his seat, leaving Midoriya to lean back in his seat with a breath of relief. Bakugou breathes out what could almost be considered a laugh, crossing one leg over the other as Present Mic continues with the instruction, explaining the Zero-Pointer by referencing an old game series that Midoriya’s never even heard of, and judging by the confused whispers that burst out around the room, neither has anyone else. At least everyone is equally confused on that front.

Remember, the Zero-Pointer is an absolute behemoth of a robot. Our sources say that it’s at least ten stories tall, likely more. The only way that thing can be of use to you is if you score rescue points.

Well. Almost everyone. Midoriya is, for all intents and purposes, ahead of the others knowledge-wise. One-Pointers are quick but ultimately easy to break. What they have in speed, they lack in defense. Two-Pointers are more well-rounded, slower than One-Pointers, but with higher defenses. Three-Pointers are the “tanks.” Slow and less mobile, but more dangerous and harder to destroy. Of course, all three have hidden ways to shut them down, meant to allow students with less destructive quirks a chance into the hero course, and Midoriya has the skills to pick them up in an instant.  Technically, if he immobilizes the robots they’d be counted as his win, but that would be significantly harder for him than just using the agility he’d earned and his own brain to find the veritable kill-switch and be on his merry way. After all, his quirk isn’t exactly designed for destruction or immobilization.

You’re our thinker. Overly aware of everything and with a brain meant to take in that information. If I didn’t know your quirk already I’d assume it was intelligence based. Use your brain to your advantage, Midori.

Yeah, Midoriya thinks to himself, standing from his seat as Present Mic dismisses them to get changed and head to their testing areas. My knowledge is power. I can use that and my quirk to my advantage. Biting his lower lip, Midoriya makes his way to the locker rooms, taking his backpack with him. He’s a step ahead of everyone else on the playing field. The UA entrance exams are usually very shrouded in mystery, but Giran is successful in the underground for a reason . He knows people, knows how to get information.

Let’s just hope that the entrance exam hasn’t changed in the past two years.

Standing outside his area, Midoriya idly lets his mind go blank, observing the people around him. Obviously, Bakugou is in a different area than him, as they go to the same middle school, so Midoriya has to get a feel for the quirks of those around him as best he can. To his immediate right, there was a blond boy with a belt around his waist, reflective surface shining in the early afternoon light (something to do with his quirk, focuses power? Impossible to tell without a demonstration). Behind him is a tall boy, shirtless, with at least six arms, connected by a thin membrane (simple mutation quirk? Possible augmentation of strength, avoid if possible). Midoriya’s eyes skip over a couple more participants (black-haired boy with sharp teeth hardening his skin, transformation good for tearing and defense; pale young woman stretching her arms before letting them collapse back, transformation not very useful for destruction; tall boy with engines in his legs-- oh that was the boy who said something to him in the auditorium; mutation designed for speed) when he spots the girl from earlier, Uraraka (zero gravity, causes nausea, ideal for taking out large groups of robots if she could handle the weight). Her eyes are closed, and she’s carefully breathing in and out, one hand over her chest.

He thinks for a second if he should go say good luck, but the moment he shifts his weight, the tall boy’s eyes shift to him, narrowing slightly as he stretches his legs. Midoriya turns his eyes away. He doesn’t want a confrontation right before the test starts. He tugs nervously on his gloves, adjusting them around his fingers. The tight material should work double duty protecting his fingers and making it easier to grip onto the robots, if Giran came through again. The tips of the gloves are covered in a rough metal, meant to pull and snap wires if it comes down to it. The fingertips had tiny metallic hooks that won’t do much more but scratch the surface of the robot, but have the potential to do some minor damage if used against a person.

Hopefully, Giran was right, and the robots would have a control panel he could find easily enough. It’d be a waste to expend all this energy just to end up in General Education. That would make his life that much more difficult.

From high above him, Midoriya hears Present Mic yell to start. His feet burst into action, and he finds himself running into the city alone, as other contestants process what had just happened. His head start only lasts a few seconds before he’s overtaken by the tall boy, his engines noisily passing him by. Midoriya lets out a careful breath, listening.

Robots will inevitably sound different than humans. Listen for the different sounds, Midori. Follow them, and you’ll find the robots.

From his right, he hears an odd sort of scuttling, and he finds himself changing direction almost immediately, turning a corner sharply, coming face-to-face with a One-Pointer. His eyes flick over the robot, breathing shallow as he keeps his ears and eyes open (faster, less defense, jointed neck, where is it where's the panel) and sure enough, he spots a slightly raised panel under the robot’s “head.” Ducking under one arm as it swings at him, Midoriya shoves his fingers into the panel, curling them so the hooks can find purchase, and yanks the panel open, seeing it swing on a nearly invisible set of hinges.

Taking in the control panel, Midoriya licks his lips, taking a second to let out a breath as he searches for the button he’s looking for (maintenance panel, light test, ammo) before slamming his hand on the “emergency off” button, ducking to the left as the robot crumples forward with a strange noise, dropping to the ground with a crash (that belt boy was watching, only for a second, before he ran off for more points), and Midoriya files away the information for later. One-Pointer panels are beneath the head, the power button is the large blue button on the right.

Without another moment of hesitation, Midoriya darts off further down the road, listening for the sounds of metal scraping against concrete. Half a minute had passed.

Three-Pointer panels are on the front of the “torso,” but the control set up is the same. The robot itself is tougher and the panel opens with less ease than the One-Pointers do, probably to offset the Three-Pointer’s lack of speed. Midoriya figured that is was to discourage those using his tactic from for Three-Pointers exclusively.

Six points. Two minutes have passed.

Midoriya finds himself having the most trouble with the Two-Pointers. Faster than Three-Pointers but harder to open than One-Pointers, they have a tendency to try and jerk away while he’s trying to get a grip on the panel, made even worse by the fact that the panel is on the Two-Pointer’s very prehensile tail. He tried to avoid them as best he could, focusing instead on Three-Pointers and One-Pointers.

Ten points. Three minutes have passed. Difficulty with well-rounded enemies.

His first potential rescue point came in the form of the black-haired boy he’d seen earlier. The boy landed awkwardly after landing a hit, unable to plant his foot, and tripped right as a Two-Pointer turned and locked onto him. Midoriya saw the boy freeze, hesitating just long enough for the Two-Pointer to begin skittering towards him, and Midoriya seized the opportunity, running in just in time to grab the boy by his collar, dragging him out of the way of two shots in quick succession.

That seemed to be the moment the boy needed, as once Midoriya got him back on his feet, the boy immediately pushed Midoriya behind him, crossing his arms as the tail came down, enduring the blow before running forward and shoving a hardened hand into the body of the robot. It shuddered, then collapsed with a groan as the boy yanked his hand out, jumping back to where Midoriya was still standing, fascinated.

The boy nodded, said a quick thanks, and then darted off in the direction of a One-Pointer.

Thirty-two villain points, ?? rescue points. Seven minutes have passed.

At a certain point, it became more and more difficult to gain villain points. However, rescue points were becoming more viable. A girl hit in the head by some shrapnel dragged out of the way, her wound minor enough to leave her in a hidden location. Some kid with a half-shaved head who didn’t hear a Three-Pointer approaching, protected as Midoriya jumped in to drag them out. Some boy with a telekinesis quirk overusing it, his nose bleeding a worrying amount, led out of the line of fire by Midoriya.

When it comes down to it, kid, you may have to rely on rescue points to get you by. You’re going up against kids with highly offensive quirks here, who will be able to dispatch robots much quicker than you. If you see someone you might be able to help, then help them. They’ll reward you for that.

“Thirty-three villain points,” Midoriya gasps out eventually, leaning against a wall near the central plaza. Some odd rescue points he adds to himself, and he looks up suddenly. There are only one and a half minutes left. Where’s the Zero-Pointer? There’s not much time left in the exam.

As if on cue, a massive robotic hand grasps a building on the edge of the plaza, and the students go silent in horror as the Zero-Pointer, twelve stories tall, pulls its way into the plaza, destroying a building as it does. Rubble crumbles to the ground in massive chunks, and as one, students begin to move. Midoriya curses, pushing himself up as he stares down the massive “gimmick,” as Present Mic had put it.

“Shit, Giran, that’s bigger than you said it would be,” Midoriya whispers, the sound lost to that of the Zero-Pointer grabbing another building. Midoriya remembers what Giran said, about the Zero-Pointer only being useful for rescue points, and his eyes flicker across the ground in front of the Zero-Pointer, looking for anyone who may have needed help.

His eyes fix on a muscular figure, struggling to stand with both legs caught underneath a piece of rubble the length of a car. The boy looks back at the Zero-Pointer, fear evident in his wide eyes, and it isn’t until Midoriya catches sight of broken glasses dropping off the boy’s face that he realizes it’s the boy with engines in his legs. The boy who’d called him out in the auditorium.

Midoriya couldn’t lift that, but he knows someone who could. His eyes flick across the plaza, catching sight of her attempting to run through her nausea, and he sprints, racing towards her.

“Uraraka-san!” The girl whips her head around, just as Midoriya catches up to her, and before she can even ask what he needs, he points to engine-boy. “Your quirk has to do with making things weightless or affecting the gravity on them, right?” She nods, looks to where Midoriya is pointing, and her eyes go wide. Her mouth opens, but then she snaps it shut, fierce determination taking over.

“If you can drag him out as soon as I lift the concrete, I should be able to release it without vomiting immediately,” she offers, already turning and running back to the trapped student, Midoriya close on her heels. The Zero-Pointer is uncomfortably close, and Midoriya feels his heart leap into his throat as they run right towards it. There should be some failsafe to avoid permanent injury or death but for once, Midoriya can’t think faster than the situation happening around them.

He shoulder-checks the boy with black hair on accident, throwing out an apology seconds later, already crouching down beside the tall, previously bespectacled boy. Uraraka presses her fingers to the rubble, goes a little bit pale, and Midoriya immediately works to drag the other student out from under the rubble, pulling him out of the way half a second before Uraraka releases the rubble, breath hitching in a way that doesn’t sound good.

Midoriya can tell just looking at the boy’s legs that he can’t walk properly. The engines in his legs are, luckily, not crushed, but the bone directly beneath them looks broken. Midoriya forces one of the boy's arms around his shoulders, all but dragging him as quick as he can away from the Zero-Pointer. Uraraka follows behind them and suddenly the load is lighter, and Midoriya looks to the other side to see the black-haired boy from earlier holding up engine-boy’s other arm. They nod at each other, and rush as fast as they can to an area out of the Zero-Pointer’s path.

Thirty-three villain points, ?? rescue points. Less than 30 seconds remaining.

The side street they duck into is shaded, and out of the Zero-Pointers path. Carefully, Midoriya and the boy with sharp hair set the much taller boy against the wall, careful to position his legs comfortably, trying to keep from jostling the injury too much. Uraraka positioned herself at the mouth of the alleyway, double-checking that the Zero-Pointer wasn’t headed their direction.

“Thank you for the rescue,” the boy suddenly says, looking solemn. Midoriya just hums, while the other boy grins, showing off his teeth, and energetically says that it was no problem.

Times up.

“Times up everyone! Start making your way back to the locker rooms!” Midoriya releases a sigh, his shoulders relaxing minutely as the tension rolls out of his body.

“I’m sure they were watching for the most major injuries, trying to figure out where to send Recovery Girl first. Uraraka-san, do you happen to see her?” Uraraka peeks out of the alleyway, hums, and responds in the negative. Midoriya bites his lip, trying to keep from muttering as he forces himself to relax and stop noticing every little detail.

“Okay,” he says finally, turning to the injured boy. “Are you okay if we pick you up again so we can start walking you towards the entrance?” Upon receiving a nod in response, Midoriya and the black-haired boy both help him up, putting his arms over their shoulders. They begin moving steadily, Uraraka taking point to help find the best path through the destruction left behind by the entrance exam. They walk in silence for a bit, before the black-haired boy clears his throat, smiling.

“My name’s Kirishima Eijirou! My quirk’s called ‘Hardening,’ and it’s pretty much exactly how it sounds. How about you guys?” Midoriya blinks, not expecting the sudden introduction, but thankful nonetheless. Having a name to put to the faces makes things much easier on his brain’s ability to compartmentalize.

Uraraka is the next to introduce herself, throwing a cheerful grin to them as she starts walking backward. “I’m Uraraka Ochako! My quirk is ‘Zero Gravity,’ which makes anything I touch with all five of my fingers float! It makes me really nauseous though.” She turns around quickly as she suddenly stumbles, and pays more attention to where she’s walking.

“I am Iida Tenya, and my quirk is called ‘Engine!’ It’s rather self-explanatory. I have engines in my legs that allow me to be incredibly fast.” Midoriya nods, suddenly even more glad that Iida’s engines had been spared the crushing weight, even if his bones hadn’t. That kind of injury could be crippling for life.

Midoriya takes a little too long to realize that it’s his turn to introduce himself until Iida clears his throat right as Kirishima leans forward and asks “what about you, bro?”

“Oh, right, sorry,” he says, blinking and pulling himself out of his head. “My name is Midoriya Izuku—oh we should stop here Recovery Girl is just around the corner—and my quirk is called ‘Hyper-Awareness.’”

Try to keep your quirk under wraps for as long as you can, unless you have to tell someone. That kind of information gap can only benefit you. Your enemies will be more cautious around you if they don’t know what you can do.

Shit. Midoriya presses his lips together, only remembering Giran’s instructions once the words slip from his mouth. Already fucked up that rule, too. He pauses as he and Kirishima once again carefully lower Iida to the ground, propping him up against a building.

“Hyper-Awareness?” Uraraka asks as they lower Iida, blinking in surprise. “What’s that like?” Midoriya hums, putting his hands on his hips as he thinks.

“I have heightened sight, hearing, and smell,” he finally decides on, ticking off the senses on his fingers. “Additionally, my visual and auditory speeds are significantly higher than most people, allowing me to take in a greater amount of information at once.” He smiles and turns right as Recovery Girl rounds the corner. “It also makes me near impossible to sneak up on,” he finishes, bowing to Recovery Girl immediately after.

“Hello there kids, is anyone besides the one on the ground hurt?” She approaches Iida and, upon checking his legs, brushes back his hair and give him a kiss on the forehead. Iida visibly relaxes as his legs straighten, eyes closing and a sigh of relief escaping him.

“I’m all good, ma’am,” Kirishima confirms, grinning. Uraraka shakes her head, rocking on her heels, and Midoriya has to do a quick check before he can tell her that, at most, he has some scrapes and bruises.

“That’s good. You there.” She points a finger at Iida, frowning. “Take it easy for a couple of days. I may have healed your legs, but they’ll still be sore. As for the rest of you, have some gummy bears and head back to the locker rooms!” She pulls out a couple of mini packets of gummy bears with a kindly smile, passing them around to each of the teenagers before she shoos them off towards the entrance. As they began heading that way, Midoriya glances back to see Recovery Girl pull out a small device (pager? Phone? Probably how she figured out who was injured and where they were), checking it before heading further into the testing area.

The next couple of minutes consisted of helping Iida, who was unfortunately blind as a bat, back to the locker room so he could get his spare glasses, which was quite the hilarious venture. Midoriya found out that Kirishima had a loud laugh, that Iida was funny without trying, and that Uraraka’s smile was perpetually gentle but genuine.

The entire time they were headed back to the locker rooms, Midoriya tried not to let his unease show on his face as he watched the three of them interact.

For all of your sakes, he thinks, left hand tightening into a fist, I hope none of you make it into the hero course. It’s only when he turns back to his locker, checking his phone and slinging his backpack onto his shoulder, that he lets his expression drop, eyebrows furrowing.

You guys are too good to be anywhere near someone like me.

Turning on his phone revealed a single message, blinking ominously on his home screen. He didn’t have the number set as a contact, but he could bet it was another one of Giran’s burner phones. He already knew exactly what it said if it was a message from Giran. Midoriya’s shoulders tense as someone passes too close behind him, and he carefully opens the message, shielding his screen with his body.

Of course, you shouldn’t have any plans after the exam, so I’ll send you a location for us to meet up so you can tell me how it went. If you think you made it in, we’ll start planning from there.

Unknown Number

Here’s the meetup. See you soon, Midori.

[Location sent]

Midoriya licks his lips and swallows, mouth suddenly feeling dry. He needed to text his mom that he’d likely be late coming back after the exam, needed to get moving so he could catch the next train across town. He needed to get off UA’s campus before Bakugou decided to walk with him to the train station they both used to get home.

The text could wait until he actually got on the train, Midoriya finally decides, closing his locker and leaving the locker room with a speed he usually reserves for quick getaways, avoiding the students he’d met during his exam. He couldn’t risk one of them asking him for his number.

He’d messed up enough today just by talking to them.