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Heroes by Choice

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“Why are you being so mean?” Izuku was shaking as he stood between the crying child and his former friend. “You’re making him cry, Kacchan! If you keep on hurting him...” He brought his trembling fists up in front of him. “Uh, I’ll uh, I’ll stop you myself!” Izuku had found Bakugou beating up a kid in the park who was on a piece of playground equipment that he wanted to use.

 

Bakugou looked smug, a cruel grin growing on his face.“You wanna pretend to be a hero?” He smashed his fist into his open hand, sparking an explosion. “You don’t stand a chance without a quirk, Deku.”

 

“I-I do have a quirk!” Izuku shot back, his voice unsteady. “I just don’t know what it is!”

 

“As if!” Bakugou laughed. “Your birthday was more than a month ago!”

 

Izuku gulped. “M-my mom says that they don’t always come right as you turn four! Dad says that if I didn’t have a quirk, I wouldn’t have fangs!”

 

Bakugou scoffed again. “That’s just them trying to make you feel better, Deku. Here, if you have a quirk, prove it!” He ran forward, ready to give Izuku his daily beating.

 

He was lucky that Bakugou’s normal lackeys were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he stood a chance.

 

Izuku’s knees started shaking even harder as Bakugou closed in, smoke rising from his palms. His eyes squeezed shut out of fear and he held his hands out to protect himself, desperately praying that Bakugou would just stop. Izuku waited for the hit to come.

 

It never did.

 

“W-what?” Bakugou sputtered.

 

Izuku dared to slowly crack one of his eyes open, peeking out at the blonde. His other eye flew wide as he saw Bakugou… frozen in front of him.

 

Not literally frozen, but it seemed like his body wasn’t responding. His fist was held back and his face was contorted in anger, but he wasn’t moving. His arms and legs trembled slightly, as if he was fighting against some invisible force that was holding him still.

 

Izuku realized that he… felt something, like there was a connection of some sort between him and the boy in front of him. His red eyes stared into Bakugou’s, not exactly sure what was happening. His vision moved down to his hands, which were the focus of this new feeling.

 

He turned them over and felt the power shift.

 

“Let me go!” Bakugou shouted as Izuku heard the child behind him stand up and run away.

 

Izuku was more curious than scared at this moment, and moved his hand to the right, causing Bakugou to lurch in that direction. Izuku shouted in surprise and the connection snapped.

 

The blonde stumbled to regain his balance. No longer was there any trace of cruelty or derision in his face, his smirk replaced by pure rage. Bakugou lunged forward again, looking to really hurt Izuku this time.

 

Izuku panicked and reached out again, causing Bakugou to freeze once more. He moved his hands to the left, spinning Bakugou around before letting the connection snap away again.

 

Bakugou stumbled and tripped onto the ground, but quickly scrambled back to his feet. He looked over his shoulder at Izuku, his eyes filled with frustration and the smallest hint of tears before he bolted, running back across the park to where Izuku assumed his mom was.

 

Izuku stood there like a statue, trying to figure out what had just happened.

 

“Is this… my quirk?”

 

His eyes lit up and he ran off across the park. Sitting on a bench near a creek was a short woman with light green hair and a tall, muscular man with light gray hair and two small tusks sticking out of his mouth: his mother and father.

 

“Mom! Dad!” Izuku yelled, waving his arms above his head.

 

His parents stopped their conversation and turned to look at him, clearly curious about what had gotten him so excited.

 

“My quirk! I got my quirk!”

 

Their faces lit up in surprise and joy. “Oh, honey, that’s great!” his mother, Inko, cooed.

 

His father, Sekijirou, smiled down at him. “Do you want to show us?” He had a slight speech impediment due to his tusks, but Izuku never had any difficulty understanding.

 

Izuku nodded furiously. “Yeah yeah! Okay it’s—uh, woah…” Izuku suddenly felt exhausted and was having trouble keeping his eyes open.

 

His father chuckled as he bent down and scooped Izuku up in one arm. “I’m not surprised. Let’s get him home and he can show us after a nap.”

 

Inko reached up and ruffled Izuku’s hair as the boy’s eyes closed and he fell asleep.

 


 

It was a brisk November morning when Izuku found himself back at the same park. He was playing quietly by himself when he heard someone yell ‘ouch!’ nearby. Izuku stood up immediately, hurrying over to see what the commotion was.

 

On the other side of a bush, he saw a girl about his age pulling herself up off the ground. She had short brown hair and her big, brown eyes were slightly wet as she sniffled. What stuck out to him the most was the small pair of black horns that stuck a few inches out from her hair, heading backwards and her black, leathery tail that hung about six inches down off her backside. “Ow…” she repeated, holding her freshly-scraped knee.

 

“Are you okay?” Izuku asked, causing the girl to jump slightly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

“I’m—” She sniffed again. “I’m okay. Just a boo boo.”  

 

Izuku came a little closer. “That looks like it hurts, you must be tough to not be crying!”

 

“T-thanks,” she said with a smile, rubbing her nose. “I gotta be tough if I wanna be a hero some day.”

 

Izuku’s eyes lit up. “You wanna be a hero? Me too!”

 

“Really?” Her own eyes sparkled as she seemed to completely forget her pain.

 

“Yeah!” Izuku returned with an eager nod. “I wanna be a hero like my dad. Oh! Uh, I’m Izuku Midoriya, what’s your name?”

 

“I’m Ochako Uraraka, but you can call me Ochako.” She sat down on a rock nearby, patting the spot next to her. “I’m new around here.”

 

Izuku obliged, happy to have someone that Bakugou hadn’t turned against him yet. “I live near here. Did your family just move or something?”

 

She looked away, thinking. “Not really. My momma is sick and had to be put in the hospital and my dad works a lot so they sent me to live with my auntie until momma gets better. She lives here.”

 

“Oh.” Izuku’s mood dropped. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

 

She smiled back. “Daddy says she’ll be okay. The doctors say she’ll get better, but it’ll just take a little bit of time.” She looked down. “Oh no! I got blood on my coat!”

 

Izuku hopped up. “Oh, I can fix that!” He held his hand out and felt him connecting with the small amount of blood on her clothes and pulled, the red liquid flying out and coalescing into a small drop a few inches in front of his hand. He pushes the blood a little ways away and let go of his quirk, letting the blood fall harmlessly to the ground.

 

“Woah…” Ochako gasped. “That’s your quirk?”

 

Izuku nodded, rubbing his head. “Y-yeah. Have you ever heard of Vlad King?”

 

“The pro hero?” Ochako tilted her head. “I see him on the news sometimes when my daddy lets me watch. He says the violence is too scary for me, but I want to learn! He’s the one who uses his blood to fight, right?”

 

“He’s my dad!” Izuku declared proudly.

 

“Woah! That’s so cool!”

 

Izuku beamed. “My mom has a simple telly—telki—” Izuku furrowed his brow in frustration; he always had trouble with that word. “She can make things move without touching them. So my dad’s Blood Control and my mom’s tele—uh, her quirk, combined to make mine! I can control blood.”

 

“Woah…” Ochako looked star-struck.

 

Izuku smiled bashfully, not used to this praise from anyone but his parents. “So uh, what’s your quirk? I like your horns.”

 

She blinked and reached up and touched the small, dull protrusions. “Thanks! I, uh, I don’t know. My momma says I’m still too young to have it yet.”

 

“Hmm, those horns and tail…” Izuku rubbed his chin, pretending he was his favorite detective from television. “What do you think it might be?”

 

“I hope it’s a dragon quirk!” She hopped up and bared her teeth in a mock roar.

 

Izuku laughed, but then his eyes landed on her teeth. “Oh, you have fangs!”

 

Ochako closed her mouth. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare—”

 

“I do too!” Izuku opened his mouth to show his elongated and sharp canines.

 

“Woah!” she repeated again. “Uh, you don’t have a tail, do you?”

 

Izuku giggled. “No, just the teeth.”

 

“Well, good!” She put her hands on her hips. “I didn’t want you to have my quirk anyway!”

 

They both started laughing.

 

She rubbed her nose again. “Thanks for makin’ me feel better.”

 

“That’s what heroes do, right?” Izuku responded, puffing his chest out. “Why do you talk like that, though?”

 

Ochako flinched a little. “Oh, my momma says it’s called an accent. She says people from different places talk different sometimes.”

 

“Like those people on TV!” Izuku’s eyes were sparkling. “I think your accent is really cool!”

 

Ochako beamed wider. “Thanks!”

 

“Ochako!” a woman’s voice called.

 

“Oh! That’s my auntie! I gotta go!” She ran a few steps before she stopped. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

 

Izuku nodded and waved. “Bye!”

 


 

Over the next several months, Izuku and Ochako met up again and again in the same park; he always looked forward to their meetings. After that fateful day in late summer of the previous year, Bakugou had done his best to turn the other children in their peer group against him. Bakugou had a tendency to attract a following due to his forceful personality, so he had a relatively easy time of convincing the children that Izuku was a villain with a villainous quirk. Those that didn’t actively avoid him took pleasure in joining Bakugou’s bullying, which meant he valued the times he could hang out with Ochako even more.

 

Perhaps he should have expected this day to come eventually.

 

It was a late winter morning when Izuku said goodbye to his mother and ran off into the large park. His father was out doing hero work that day and wasn’t around, which wasn’t unusual, so it was just his mom watching him.

 

That’s when he heard it.

 

“Why are you hanging around Deku? Don’t you know what he is?”

 

Izuku froze. That was one of Izuku’s classmates; who was he talking to?

 

“Who’s Deku?”

 

Izuku blanched.

 

Ochako.

 

“That stupid green-haired villain!” One of the kids so kindly clarified.

 

Another one of kids piped up. “Don’t you know that he can take over your body?”

 

“I heard he made his teacher do his homework for him,” another one said.

 

“I heard he makes his mom buy him whatever he wants.”

 

“Oh, I heard that he makes kids give him their desserts out of their lunchboxes.”

 

“What? That’s so evil!”

 

“I know, right?”

 

Izuku felt tears forming in his eyes. It was this, day in and day out at his school. He hated it. But he had to make sure Ochako was okay, even if she… hated him now.

 

Just like the rest.

 

Izuku turned the corner around the bush and saw Ochako in her puffy winter coat backing away slowly from the four boys crowding her. Her face was full of fear and uncertainty.

 

Izuku took a deep breath. “Leave her alone!” he yelled.

 

They whipped around. “It’s Deku!” one of them shouted.

 

“Run!”

 

The four of them bolted as fast as their legs could carry them, shouting and laughing all the way.

 

Izuku looked over at Ochako with a sad expression. “Are you okay?”

 

She nodded, her eyes wide with fear.

 

Izuku sighed and turned, walking slowly away from yet another person who thought he was a villain just because of his quirk.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Izuku, where are you going?”

 

He jumped a little, turning back to Ochako. “A-aren’t you scared of me now?”

 

She looked confused. “I didn’t believe any of them. You wouldn’t do any of that.”

 

Izuku’s eyes started watering harder. “I-I can’t even do that stuff.”

 

“Well, even if you could, I knew you wouldn’t,” Ochako said without a doubt in her voice.

 

“R-really?” Izuku was full on crying now, tears pouring down his face.

 

“Of course! Who would ever think that?!” Ochako seemed to think this whole thing was entirely unbelievable.

 

Izuku couldn’t help himself. He moved forward and threw his arms around Ochako, who immediately hugged him back.

 

After a little while, they broke apart. Ochako reached over and patted his head. “Are all the kids at your school like that?”

 

Izuku nodded, wiping his nose. “Kacchan tells the others that I’m some sort of villain because of my quirk.”

 

“What? Cause you can make blood move?” she asked.

 

Izuku flinched. “Well, kinda. I didn’t show you all that my quirk could do because I was afraid you wouldn’t like me just like everyone else.”

 

Ochako frowned. “I’m not gonna do that! I like you too much, Izuku!”

 

“Sorry,” he said weakly.

 

Ochako patted his head again. “Don’t be sorry, just show me!”

 

“O-okay.” He took a step back. “This is gonna feel weird.” Izuku held up his hands and reached out with his quirk, taking hold of Ochako’s body.

 

“Woah…” she gasped.

 

He began to move his hands, making her body move side to side and her arms flail wildly.

 

She began to giggle. “This feels funny!”

 

Izuku let his quirk go before he got too tired. Moving people like that took a lot of energy.

 

Ochako regained her balance. “They’re scared of you ‘cause of that?” she asked. “That’s dumb.”

 

“You’re the first kid to not be scared of it,” Izuku admitted softly.

 

“That’s dumb,” she repeated.

 

Izuku smiled a little, causing Ochako to smile too. “You still wanna be a hero, right?”

 

His demeanor changed immediately. “Of course! I wanna be a hero like my dad or All Might!” He looked over at her, his eyes glancing over her horns, which had grown longer over the past few months. “I asked my dad if my quirk was a bad guy’s quirk.”

 

“What’d he say?” Ochako asked, rocking back and forth with her hands behind her back, her tail flitting from side to side.

 


 

“Dad! Dad!” Izuku cried as he entered his house, tears coming down his face.

 

Sekijirou stood up from his seat in front of the television as he heard his son’s distraught wail. He ran over to the front door, kneeling down and scooping him up with ease. Izuku cried into his shoulder as Sekijirou looked over at his wife, Inko, who had picked Izuku up from school.

 

She was the love of his life and he wanted nothing more than to protect her and his son, which is why they chose to have Izuku keep Inko’s surname, Midoriya, instead of his own. He didn’t want to bring anything down on his son that he didn’t have to, after all. But in the end, it seemed like he had… by giving him his quirk.

 

“Dad, Dad,” Izuku finally managed to say between sobs. “The kids at school say I have a bad guy’s quirk! They say I’m a v-v-villain!”

 

Sekijirou would have been lying if he claimed that he hadn’t expected something like this to happen eventually. He shot a look to Inko letting her know he had this under control; she nodded and headed off to begin making dinner. He carried his son through the house and down the stairs to the room where he kept his hero gear.

 

Izuku stopped crying as hard as he entered the pseudo-armory, his eyes widening like they always did. Sekijirou sat Izuku down on one of the benches and pulled up a chair so the two of them were almost eye-level with each other. He looked down at his son and smiled kindly, hoping to calm him down.

 

“You know,” he began, “I went through the same thing when I was your age.”

 

“R-really?” His son wiped his nose on his sleeve and looked up at him with his big, red eyes.

 

Sekijirou nodded. “Yep. Kids get scared of quirks. I blame all the television and movies for putting ideas in kids’ heads, even if that makes me sound like an old man. Here’s the bottom line, Izuku: a quirk is what you make of it.”

 

Izuku blinked. “H-hey, All Might said that on TV!”

 

“He sure did,” Sekijirou chuckled, “and he’s right. Quirks don’t make us heroes or villains, our choices do. You have to wake up every day and say ‘I’m going to be a hero!’ That’s the only way to be a hero. You could have the most heroic or most ‘villainous’ quirk in the world and it wouldn’t matter.”

 

“B-but—”

 

“Let’s say a big villain tried to rob a bank,” Sekijirou proposed. “Who would stop him?”

 

“All Might!” Izuku answered proudly.

 

“Right. But what if All Might wanted to rob a bank? Who would stop him?”

 

“All Mi—” Izuku stopped. “Huh? All Might wouldn’t do that!”

 

Sekijirou nodded. “Correct, but he could. The only thing stopping him is his choice to not. A quirk is what you make of it, son. A hero is made by his choices. The only one who can decide if you’re going to be a hero or not is yourself.”

 

Izuku’s eyes were wide as saucers, a trait he inherited from his mother. “So as long as I want to be a hero, I can be one?”

 

“Exactly. Nobody can take your dreams away from you if you don’t want them to.” He put a hand on his son’s shoulder. “There will be people who try to stop you or stand in your way, but if you just keep going, you’ll get to where you’re heading. I’ll warn you: a hero’s path isn’t easy. If you want to be like your old man, you’re going to have to work for it.”

 

“You’re not old!” Izuku exclaimed.

 

Sekijirou laughed. “That’s why you’re my favorite son.”

 

“I’m your only son!”

 

“That too.”

 

Izuku smiled and leaned forward, hopping off the counter and giving Sekijirou a big hug. “Thanks, Dad. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Izuku.”

 

They held the hug for a few seconds before Izuku leaned back. He looked up at his father’s face with a questioning expression.

 

“What’s for dinner?”

 

Sekijirou laughed again. “Let’s go ask your mother.”

 


 

“He told me that a hero is made by his choices,” Izuku answered. “As long as I want to be a hero, I’m gonna be one.”

 

Ochako cheered. “That’s right! No dumb kids are gonna stop you!”

 

Izuku smiled wide, his tears forgotten. “It’s not easy to be a hero, but I wanna do it. My dad said that no quirk is good or bad, it all has to do with the person. Like if All Might wanted to be a bad guy, his quirk would be super good for that! But he doesn’t want to be a bad guy, he wants to be a hero! I’m gonna be the same way! I don’t want to be a bad guy, so I’m not gonna!”

 

“Yeah!” Ochako pumped her fist in the air. “By the way, can I call you ‘Deku’?”

 

Izuku recoiled. “W-what?! That’s just a nickname that Kacchan gave me; it means ‘useless’.”

 

She kept smiling. “No way! I think it sounds real cute! It’s got that ‘you can do it!’ vibe to it, you know? I think it’s a perfect name for you!”

 

His world was crumbling in the best way. “I-if you want to, you can call me that.”

 

“Alright, Deku!”

 

When she said it, he didn’t hate the name. It sounded… friendly. Affectionate.

 

Izuku was beaming. Ochako may have been his only real friend, but she was a good one.

 


 

Or rather, she was until she left.

 

It was a late spring morning when Ochako and Izuku once again met up at the park again. They played around for a little bit like they always did, running around, jumping over the creek and trying to climb the trees.

 

“Izuku! Five more minutes!” His father called from his spot next to his mother on a bench.

 

Ochako and Izuku sat down under a tree to enjoy the last bit of time they had together. The girl played with her hair a little bit, twisting some of it around one of her horns. “You know, I’m a little worried I still don’t have my quirk.”

 

Izuku looked over curiously. “The teachers at school said it’s normal to not get your quirk until six months or more after your birthday. It all depends on the kid and the quirk, I guess. There are a couple kids in my class who still don’t have theirs yet.”

 

“You’re right, I just need to wait.” Ochako smiled, looking over at him. “I just wish it didn’t take so long!”

 

Izuku huffed. “I know, but everytime I say something like that my dad tells me to treasure my youth or something.”

 

Ochako giggled. “Yeah…”

 

They sat in silence for another minute or so, both children tired from their playtime. Finally, Ochako spoke up again.

 

“H-hey, Deku?”

 

“Yeah?” He looked over at her curiously.

 

“I have some good news and bad news,” she muttered, looking away slightly.

 

Izuku was immediately concerned. “Are you okay?”

 

She nodded. “I’m fine. The good news is that my momma is finally better and comin’ home!”

 

“That’s great!” Izuku exclaimed.

 

“The bad news is that means I’m moving back.”

 

Izuku’s mood plummeted. “Oh. Oh yeah.”

 

Ochako’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah. Auntie says I’ll be leavin’ in a week.”


Izuku was hurt, but he felt worse seeing Ochako sad. All Might said in an interview the week prior that smiling was the best way to deal with fear and sadness; it also had the added benefit of making Ochako feel better. “That means we still have a week to play, right? That’s basically forever!”

 

Ochako smiled. “You’re right.”

 

“Izuku!” his mother called.

 

“Coming!” He turned back to Ochako. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? We’ll finally get up that tree.”

 

She giggled. “Okay!”

 

Izuku didn’t let his smile fade for the rest of the week. On that last day, the two of them shared a long hug, each of them squeezing as hard as they could to the other.

 

Both children had tears in their eyes as they finally broke apart. “H-hey, don’t cry,” Izuku said through his own tears.

 

Ochako giggled and sniffled. “Look who’s talkin’, you big cry baby!”

 

Izuku rubbed his eyes as he laughed. “Promise me I’ll see you at UA?”

 

Ochako nodded, throwing her arms around him again. “We’ll be heroes together. Promise.”

 

They finally broke apart, both of them crying harder than ever.

 

Ochako walked away, taking her aunt by the hand as she turned and gave a final wave. The two of them got into a car and drove away.

 

The car turned the corner and disappeared.

 

Izuku let his smile drop.