In one universe, Izuku turns right to head home to a wet-eyed mother who fusses over his bruises and attempts to save his now waterlogged notebook. He ends up passing under a bridge where he is attacked by a villain and saved by a hero in the same breath, and has his heart break under that hero’s words. He’ll prove himself to be brave if not clever by rushing in to save his schoolyard bully, and have that same hero mend his broken heart with words and a declaration under a setting sun.
This is not that universe.
Izuku pauses at a crosswalk, knowing he should head home but reluctant to see his mother’s watery smile, hand still clutching at his notebook but knowing without much doubt that it’s a lost cause. Most of the back half of it is a solid wet mass of pulp and running ink.
He turns left instead, heading to an internet cafe he’s been to once or twice that he knows won’t look too closely at his singed sleeves and mottled bruises. It’s cheap, has a decent internet connection and rentable computers, and it’s close enough to the main streets that it wont give his mother a heart attack when he says he’s going to stay a little late.
And it’s there that the two worlds’ differences truly shine.
TooTiredToFunction: bad day?
AllMightAllTheTime: You could say that. Bad week more like. At least I got to see Mt Lady’s debut
TooTiredToFunction: heard about that. she’s the one with the growth quirk, ye?
AllMightAllTheTime: Yep. Really interesting too, I don’t think she can control how much she grows and shrinks, it’s more like an on off switch. Which is too bad, it’s a lot more limiting that way, especially in the city. Unless it’s to fight a kaiju, she’d probably be more effective as a disaster relief specialist working with collapsed buildings and stuff. Although I guess it would be difficult for her to know where people are trapped, unless she has a sensor quirk sidekick, and so it would be hard to prevent accidental injuries, plus being a combat hero is always more marketable and she seemed like the type to really play into the crowd and im rambling again aren’t I
TooTiredToFunction: it’s fine, it’s always interesting to hear your take on new heroes compared to the hero net news
AllMightAllTheTime: To be fair, Hero Net doesn’t really take into account a lot of things outside of popularity rankings
TooTiredToFunction: you mean they’re hacks
TooTiredToFunction: they’re hacks. say it with me
AllMightAllTheTime: Hey do you think if Ectoplasm gets a cold his clones do too? Would he accidentally make clones by coughing?
TooTiredToFunction: don’t change the subject SmallMight. you know as well as I do that there’s very little actual good analysis for heroes out there because everyone treats it like a reality tv show
AllMightAllTheTime: Technically it is reality tv
AllMightAllTheTime: Also these are important questions that need asking, and usually you’re the one to text me at four am with them. Aren’t you still haunted by wondering if Gun Head has bullets for eyes.
TooTiredToFunction: Those are important questions and I still demand answers at all times of day. the truth never sleeps. hence why you should agree with me that we could make a better hero analysis show with duck tape and my cousin’s video camera
SharkTrain2000s: So you keep saying, and yet I don’t see either of you making one
TooTiredToFunction: yet, you mean. if SmallMight would get over his respect for hacks over at hero net we’d be in business. no way im doing it on my own
SharkTrain2000s: what would you even call it lol. Two Nerds Talk A Lot?
TooTiredToFunction: sounds like heretics. im in
fringinfrackle: what about Ana-Ro? Analytical Heroes
Izuku leans back from the uncomfortable office chair and finds his eyes drifting to the still-soaked notebook slowly drying on some paper towels next to him. The idea of a longer form analytics project has come up before, and it’s honestly something he feels like he would be interested in. There’s only so many notebooks he can go through, and he knows there’s stuff he’s missing that would be helped by debating things with other fans. He’s just always hesitated to go the extra step and actually do it. Part of it feels like a concession: it would no longer be some nebulous training for the future, it would be proof that he’s just another fan with a big mouth.
There’s the faint sound of a ding coming from his phone.
TooTiredToFunction to you: hope I didn’t step out of line. i honestly think you could do better than those assholes at hero net
You: Us, you mean
TooTiredToFunction to you: I mean yeah, who else is going to make sure you don’t just ramble on about all might for forty minutes
You: I do like other heroes, you know
TooTiredToFunction to you: sure, SmallMight.
You: I thought you were going to be nice to me now >:C
TooTiredToFunction to you: SmallMight, this is me being nice
Izuku smiles and turns his attention back to the message board. fringinfrackle and SharkTrain2000s are now arguing over show names, so he tabs over to the hero gossip section of the community boards. Most of it is pretty uninteresting: supposed sightings and rumours of scandals that are one step away from being trash magazine titles, but he’s used to that. You can get some good tidbits on hero movements or updates, but most of the time the only reason he reads the gossip section is to laugh with the others over the really weird posts. It’s also helped him determine who the real popular heroes are, outside of the more official popularity ranks. There’s a surprising amount of die hard fans for underground heroes and sidekicks that never get talked about in Hero Net or on TV.
Eraserhead spotted at cat cafe!
He closes that tab too after only a few glances over the posts, navigating over to the fan theory page.
All Might Slowing down? Pillar of Peace’s average down by twenty percent since last year…
Show all comments
LackDaisy: LOL. What are you, one of Endeavor’s stans?
Nekoneko: everyone knows all might is overrated anyways
San2810: you ever learn the difference between correlation and causation? Villain attacks are down across the board, of course All Might is gonna be “slower’
EnDevour: @EndEndeavor: Fuckin change ur name already asshole
FuckingEndEndeavor: @EnDevour: Better? :3
Izuku quickly closes that tab too and sighs, leaning back against his chair as he eyes his notebook again. All Might has been less active than past years, but it’s not just a case of less villain attacks. He’s been less active in his philanthropy work too, cutting down hospital visits and charity events as much if not more than his hero work. As far as he can tell the hero has compensated by upping monetary donations, but that’s not necessarily sustainable. Heroes are paid by what amounts to a bounty system after all.
He doesn’t know what it means, and he doesn’t like thinking about it, so he turns back to his notebook and tries to see if anything is recoverable. There’s not a lot, unfortunately, and he feels an echo of that desperate fear and rage from earlier in the classroom. He can hear Kacchan’s words ringing in his ears.
AllMightAllTheTime: ok i’ll do it.
BadBarkie: wait you can’t be serious, i thought u two were joking
BadBarkie: fuck off
TooTiredToFunction: fucking finally. you’re the best SmallMight, i’ll get my cousin’s camera next week
AllMightAllTheTime: I’m going to have a lot of free time soon, but I’ll send you my schedule anyways
SharkTrain2000s: I feel like we’ve just witnessed something. maybe not something great, but something for sure
memmmmmmme: i’ll prep your funeral arrangements for when you inevitably piss off a villain….or a hero
TooTiredToFunction: ha ha
There’s another buzz of his phone.
TooTiredToFunction to you: you sure about this?
You: Not really but I’m tired of losing notebooks. At least it should be harder to lose something online?
TooTiredToFunction to you: did you decide on whether you wanted to go the podcast or youtube channel?
You: I like the idea of the podcast because it makes it seem more anonymous, but I don’t know
TooTiredToFunction to you: we could always use masks if you’re worried about people recognising us
You: Really? Wouldn’t that be pretty suspicious though?
TooTiredToFunction to you: only if we’re dumb about it
Izuku glances up quickly to make sure no one is paying any attention, even though there’s really nothing to pay attention to in the first place. A habit from school, mostly.
You: My time is almost up at the cafe and I should be getting home soon anyways, but if you want we can meet up at the regular spot and hash things out more?
TooTiredToFunction to you: sure, sounds good. Let me know when you get home safe, there’s reports of a villain attack nearby
Izuku glances quickly at the TV in the corner of the room, which sure enough is broadcasting a live feed of some sort of attack. He can barely make out the villain involved, some sort of slime creature, and it’s too dark to make out much, but he still recognises the street.
You: Awww, you care. Will do! See you later Shinsou
TooTiredToFunction to you: later, SmallMight
Izuku met Shinsou—or TooTiredToFunction—on the online message boards of HeroFanCollective near the beginning of the school year. He’d been doing research—not on All Might, despite what Shinsou keeps saying—and found the semi-obscure group mostly by accident. Although the main pages get a decent amount of traffic, the message boards were a lot more isolated. They ended up being less intimidating to use at first, so Izuku tentatively started to reply to chats and even brought up a topic or two, usually late at night. It was in a specific board named 6AmRambles that he really got his name out.
He’s still embarrassed about the semi-infamous event that led to his current renown in the message boards. He’d been mostly delirious from sleep deprivation from having to redo an important essay the day before it was due, because the first copy was “mysteriously” destroyed at school. As such, after four hours of frantic writing and at least one too many cups of coffee for a pre-teen, he’d started a round of procrastination analysis that quickly spiralled out of control.
Could you determine the number of times it would theoretically be possible to fold Edgeshot in the same way you can a piece of paper? Would it be less or more than seven?
Probably not, but you can write a five-hundred word, no paragraph break and no punctuation, stream of consciousness post about it, and have it then screenshotted and memed across the platform.
Shinsou was one of the rare souls who actually read the thing in entirety, and commented on it, mostly by daring Izuku to do it again. Their friendship only bloomed from there.
Also, the next week Izuku did the same thing again, this time on the topic of All Might and whether his punches could theoretically be used as kinetic propulsion in space. To which Shinsou asked the most important question: If All Might yelled out his american attack names in space, would anyone hear it?
(Naturally that rant was a good two times longer.)
All that to say, when they both realised they lived in the same city—and not that far from each other either—they met up once or twice when the stars aligned. Neither was necessarily great at real life social skills, and their schedules didn’t usually work well together, but they’d gone to one Hero convention together, and met up at a cat cafe a few times.
This would be the first time they’d really interacted for more than an hour or two. And, to make things worse in Izuku’s mind, this would be the first time someone would actually be paying attention and possibly responding to his hero rambles in real life. He knows most people find it off-putting, but Shinsou specifically picked him for the analysis show, so that had to mean something, right?
It hasn’t stopped him from fiddling with his jacket strings, though, as he leans against the stone wall of the cafe. It’s not hard to spot Shinsou as he makes his way over, hair a shocking blast of grey-purple in a sea of colourful quirk-enhanced fashion.
“Yo,” the boy says once close enough, hand barely rising in greeting.
“Hello!” Izuku says, jumping up and forward a little in his haste. “I’ve been looking over my notes for a good hero to start off with, and I think we’d get the most impact with—”
“All Might, right?” Shinsou completes, ducking under the door frame to the cafe.
“I mean, ok, sure. All Might is the most well known, and his name would be a good one to start with. But honestly, there’s so many people talking about All Might all the time, there’s not much else to talk about anymore? It wouldn’t be anything really challenging—ah, thank you—” Izuku responds, distractedly going about sanitizing his hands before the door attendant lets them into the cat room.
“Hmm, true,” Shinsou mumbles, eyes already roaming around for an empty table. It’s not too busy luckily, and he leads them over to a corner next to a frankly alarmingly towering cat tree.
“And I know it might not be as popular, but it might be more fun to do someone a little less well known?”
Izuku sits down and hopes his voice isn’t cracking too much. He has a bad habit of slurring or stuttering over his words when he’s nervous, and he’s not used to having to pay attention to that in person with Shinsou. Online is so much easier.
“Well,” Shinsou drawls—actually drawls, Izuku knows he doesn’t sleep much and has a pretty apathetic attitude, but it’s strange to hear that literally in his voice— “I never suggested this to be popular in the first place. And as much as I know you love All Might and could probably do a whole show just on him—well. Here, look at this.”
He places a sheet of paper on the table between them. A cat is dangling one dainty paw from the cat tree about a centimeter above Shinsou’s hair, so it takes a moment for Izuku to register what he’s looking at.
“These are all support heroes or sidekicks?” He asks, sorting through the names. There’s not a ton of them, but it’s obvious that none of them have strong fighting quirks, and combined they would probably still be under the 50th spot in the Hero Rankings.
“Figured it would probably not be a great idea to analyse underground heroes if their work depends on secrecy, so this is the closest I could get,” Shinsou says leaning back.
“To what?” Izuku can feel his eyebrows pull down slightly, but the both of them are distracted for the moment by one of the employees coming by for their order. She’s wearing one of the uniforms of the cafe, but intense modifications have been made to accommodate her disjointed physic and tail. Seems a little too on the nose to work in a cat cafe if you have a cat mutation quirk.
Izuku blinks away his offhand train of thought on whether she can understand the cats or communicate with them and turns back to Shinsou.
“Wait, I think I get it. All of these heroes lack a combat quirk—they’re either search and rescue specialists or they use minimum quirk abilities in fights.”
“I figure we could play to our strengths,” Shinsou shrugs, “plus it would be more interesting. And really. It’s about time some of these heroes got talked about. None of the big names need anymore press, but some of these heroes and sidekicks are living paycheck to paycheck.”
“Would be nice to be able to support some more unknown heroes, that’s true. And I know there’s a few diehard fans of some of these heroes who will watch anything that mentions them just because it’s so rare.” Izuku bites down on his nail and looks the list over again.
“Well, it looks like we had the same thought. Is there anyone in here that you’re leaning towards? I don’t necessarily have more or less information on any of them, we’ll probably need a week or two to research.”
Shinsou shrugs, hands idly going to the back of a cat wandering close by.
“Well, if we wanted to split the difference between popularity and obscurity, there’s always the Wild Wild Pussycats,” he says.
Izuku snaps his head up.
“That’s perfect! They’ve been really quiet lately, but they used to have a big fan base. And they’re not as obscure as some of these, where information would be real hard to find.”
“And, if we want to ease people into the more obscure heroes—or even the underground ones, although I agree we shouldnt go in depth with them for safety reasons—we can always have a mini news section where we highlight one hero. Maybe local ones?”
“Hmm,” Shinsou agrees, accepting the drinks the cat waiter brings by for them.
“Oh, what if we have a segment on quirk law and hero politics? I know you like talking about that stuff more than you like talking about quirk analysis, so that way both of us can have something. Which would be a relief, honestly, I’m not sure how’d I’d feel being the only one talking. Hmmm. Maybe we should have different shows for different days? How long an episode do you think?”
“Twenty minutes or so seems to be the average,” Shinsou adds in the breath it takes for Izuku to pause.
Izuku hesitants, his mumbling cutting off as his brain catches up with his mouth. An orange and white tabby is stretching across his lap and digging tiny points of pain into his legs.
“Why did you want to make a hero analysis show in the first place? I know it’s not your passion, and you’re not, um, you’re not any more extroverted than me. So. Why?”
The other boy eyes Izuku for a long moment, deadened eyes still sharp enough to cause him to second guess his words.
“You know what my quirk is, right?”
Izuku nods. It had come up during one of the 6AmRambles, although he got the sense Shinsou regretted ever mentioning it so hadn’t brought it up since.
“I want to be a hero,” Shinsou continues, slowly, as if gauging a reaction.
“Oh! Me too! You know, a quirk like yours would be really good for hero work, you could calm people down, stop villains in their tracks, get information quickly…Uh, Shinsou?”
The boy is grimacing slightly, although it doesn’t really look like in anger. It takes a moment for Izuku to recognise it as a smile.
“You would be one of the only ones to think so. I’ve been called a villain for my whole life, just based off this quirk. Society has some pretty fucked up ideas of what boxes people should be put in for their quirks—or their lack of one.”
Izuku flinches back. He’d made sure to not advertise his quirkless status online.
“Um. True. If you have a powerful quirk, obviously you’re pushed into heroics, and everyone else is told it’s impossible. And, uh, it’s not like you can even use your quirk if you’re not a hero anyways, so the only really context people have for them is. Well. Heroes and Villains.”
Shinsou brings his cup to his face and eyes Izuku over it.
“You want to go to UA, right? Their exam is notoriously skewed for flashy, combat based quirks, despite the large swath of heroics that shows you don’t need those.”
Izuku thinks about all his plans up till now for becoming a hero—it’s always started at UA, but if he can’t even get past their entrance exam because he doesn’t have a quirk, nevermind a powerful one, then what really does he have left?
He feels more than a little chagrined to realise he hasn’t even bothered learning any combat skills or anything to prepare, although it’s not like the school clubs would take him in anyways.
“So by researching all these heroes we can maybe learn something to take into the exam? And, um, since almost all of these are UA alumni, there’s a chance we can get our name known beforehand, even if it’s just as two really intense fans?”
“Pretty much,” Shinsou says, leaning forward again to plop his head in his hands. “Plus. Don’t you want to see everyone’s faces when you show up having done what amounts to a full year’s worth of homework beforehand?”
Izuku pauses, feeling a sort of burning sensation rise up his throat. It’s been a somewhat familiar feeling in the past couple months.
Turns out, spite burns the user just as much as it does the target. But by gods does it make a good motivator.
Their first video releases two weeks later. A fifteen minute analysis of the Wild Wild Pussycats that’s filmed just slightly off centre. Izuku looks visibly nervous on camera, even with the plain paper mask of a smiley face overtop. Shinsou looks as calm and collected—bored, even—as usual, although he opted for a frown instead. Contrast, or something.
They film it in the park. Mostly because neither of them have any idea of where they’ll be able to find an empty, free indoor spot to film, and neither of them want to try it at home where their parents might get involved.
It means the audio has a slight static from ambient sound, and the lighting makes a drastic change as they keep pausing whenever someone wanders by.
It should, by all means, be a total disaster.
And indeed, in the first couple days after uploading they get a meager couple views. And then someone notices something strange in the background.
MissMountain @ Sakuraigi
Wait, is that Hawks in the tree back there? @JumboShrimpJuice , take a look at this video, around 4:08 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
6 replies 23 retweets 40 likes
SharkAttack 4 days ago:
wow you two nerds actually did it. masks tho?
Heralytics 4 days ago:
Haha, well, S said I can’t give anyone his secret identity or he’ll have to kill me
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 4 days ago:
I mean ignoring the fact that you two losers look ridiculous, not bad. I think you could have gone through more of their style tho, that’s all anyone really cares about. I think my sister has Tiger’s dress still in her closet
Heralytics 3 days ago:
well tell her to give it back
Heralytics 3 days ago:
MtClimber 1 hour ago:
Jambersclambers 1 hour ago:
Wow you weren’t wrong. That’s for sure Hawks. Wonder what’s he doing.
Last 1 Standing 1 hour ago:
Naw its probably a cosplayer. No ways these nobodies would stumble on a real pro hero
Jan1291998987 1 hour ago:
Hot single HERoes NEAR you!! LINK HERE
grapecandy 1 hour ago:
It’s a lie! My computer got hacked! Nooooooooooooo
No Might 1 hour ago:
Ha serves you right for being an idiot
midnight101thgindim twenty minutes ago:
Can’t be a cosplayer, they made cosplaying as a pro hero in public outside of conventions illegal because it started to interfere with actual hero work
JAXK twenty minutes ago:
Maybe he was trying to figure out what two kids in masks were doing in a park after dark? They do look pretty suspicious imo
HeyGhosts ten minutes ago:
Maybe it’s aliens
Wasted and Alone two minutes ago:
I know everyone is going crazy over the Hawks sighting but can we talk for a moment about the actual video? Concise, well researched analysis about both the history of the group and the current tactics and skills used, as well as a pretty funny banter between the two hosts? Like, that whole “I’m EYE and I’ll be your quirk analysis for today” “And I’m here *slurrrrrrrp*” was both strangely funny and seemingly genuine?
MtClimber one minute ago:
Yes! I got distracted by Hawks but the video itself is pretty good, if amateur, and the hosts are pretty cute too! That’s a sub for me
Izuku closes his laptop gingerly as he tries to catch his breath. Someone called him cute online! Also people are talking about the video! Even though it’s mostly all about the figure in the tree that they hadn’t ever noticed until editing.
He’d looked up MtClimber as soon as they commented, at first out of idle curiosity, and then mild panic. They’re a mod for a few Mt Lady communities, that while pretty small and new, meant that when they shared the video, it ended up getting a lot more attention than he expected.
He has no clue how they found it in the first place, honestly. They’d already resigned themselves to the knowledge that the first couple videos would more than likely not reach too many people outside of the HeroFanCollective.
He glances down at his phone, still open from the minor freak out he’d had at Shinsou when the first wave of comments came through. There’s a new message
TooTiredToFunction to you: hold on I have a great idea
TooTiredToFunction to you: image attached (3MB)
TooTiredToFunction to you: you know that old supermarket over by Bespin St? It’s right next to one of the parks
TooTiredToFunction to you: if we filmed on the roof than we’d be overlooking the bigger trees
You: Is that what I think it is?
TooTiredToFunction to you: our new gimmick? Yep
The video starts with a minor burst of static, before focusing on the two figures huddled in frame. Both are sitting on cheap plastic chairs. One has a white hoodie and a large notebook in hand, slightly crumpled paper mask with a drawn on smiley face covering their face. The other is wearing a black hoodie, hands empty, with a slightly less-crumpled mask with a frown.
They appear to be sitting on a low roof. The tops of a nearby building can just be seen out of frame, and the branches of a tree serve as a backdrop. There’s a small chalkboard propped up next to the two sitting figures, that mostly seems to be serving as a prop, styled like a stereotypical crime board with string and post its. The only thing viewable from this distance is a blurry screenshot of the profile of a man, wingtips only faintly visible.
“Welcome to Heralytics!” the figure in white says, hands fiddling with the notebook. There’s a sticker of All Might on it.
“Today we’re doing something a little different! Well, as different as you can get from having only one video. We want to thank our first fan, MtClimber, who was generous enough to share the previous video about the Wild Wild Pussycats—”
“Meow,” the figure in black says, deadpan.
“—And so we figured we would take this episode to talk about one of our newest heroines on the scene in tribute! Mt Lady herself!”
The figure in black leans over and spins the chalkboard, revealing a full spread image of the hero mid battle, patchworked out of what appears to be six standard printer papers. One of them is drooping slightly.
“What do you think, S, do we have enough to go over for a first episode? She’s pretty new.”
“Hmm. New, maybe, but she’s been busy since her debut. Seems to have drive to prove herself.”
The two get to talking, going over the sightings so far, and what is currently known of the new hero. There’s some speculation on her quirk, on ways to make her fighting more effective, a brief segway into why newer heroes have so much PR work when they could be on patrol, and why in particular Mt Lady seems to be trying to appeal to the masses in such a way.
But those of you with keen eyes will instead pay attention to the background, where nestled in the branches of the backdropped trees, a small plush hawk sits. It has sloppily glued safety goggles and a goatee drawn in marker.
At no point do the two figures address it, or talk about why their first video was shared in the first place. At some point, a squirrel climbs up the tree and starts a fight with the hawk, eventually winning by throwing it off the branch with a victorious chitter.
The two figures don’t even pause.