It had all been leading up to this.
Izuku, with his completed One For All, facing down All For One. The man who terrorized the world for centuries. The quirk thief of the underworld. The reason One For All was born and cultivated all these years.
Not so long ago, All For One had escaped from prison and revealed his hand. He had killed All Might, not in a glorious or fair fight, but a surprise attack. He’d ripped out the heart of the man who Izuku considered a father and whispered those dreaded words that would haunt Izuku for the rest of his life.
He was All For One’s son. The thing that All Might had stolen that earned him such hatred was Izuku and his mother. The chance to live normally with his family.
And now, All For One wanted Izuku back. He’d given an ultimatum. Countless lives spared in exchange for one boy.
Izuku had no illusions going into this. While he’d been initially crushed by All Might’s death and the horrible revelation that the father who abandoned him was the worst villain in history, Izuku still had his friends and family looking out for him. Any self-doubt or insecurity that could have worked into his head was swiftly snuffed out by the endless support he received from his classmates at UA, his teachers, and his mom. His real family.
It was almost funny, how all the little moments added up in his heart;
His mom entering an almost frothing rage at her husband being a murderer, the man who’s been endangering her son’s life. She never doubted Izuku and made it clear that she would never regret having him. He was her son and her hero. She would always be behind him no matter what.
Kacchan starting a screaming match that turned into a fistfight because Izuku was looking too dull and weak. Telling him that the way Izuku was acting wasn’t the Deku he came to respect. Promising in his own way that they’d kick All For One’s ass together. That they’d always be side by side.
Ochako, taking his hand and reminding him that he was the Deku who could do it. That he’d always be her hero. That he was her source of inspiration, the source of so many people’s inspiration. That All For One couldn’t take what Izuku’s done for all of them away. That she’d always be supporting him.
Shouto, reminding him that blood wasn’t what determined who a person was. It wasn’t what who determined who the father was either. Smiling as he said without hesitation that he was right there first year when he said All Might was his dad. All Might was Izuku’s real father, blood or no blood. Reminding him that if anyone who can beat All For One or change his mind, it was Izuku. Reminding him that he would always have his friendship.
Tenya, determined in his own way to keep Izuku’s head on straight despite the wild, near vengeful emotions Izuku was going through. Telling Izuku what their friendship meant to him. Telling Izuku what he admired and aspired to be based on Izuku’s example. Telling Izuku that he was looked up to and would let people down if he acted too rashly. Telling Izuku that he could always rely on him.
Eri’s opinion of him staying exactly the same. The now-ten-year-old solemnly reminding him of his solemn wish. To help people. To be a hero. The fact that he was her hero and always would be. The fact that she would always believe in him.
Countless other moments were exchanged with his classmates and teachers. Careful eyes watched him. Snacks and tiny gifts were constantly being given to him or put in his vicinity. Hugs and whispers and love. They were things that Izuku never would have expected three years ago. Even when he had dreamed of being a hero, it was with the expectation of standing alone.
But Izuku wasn’t alone.
Even now, he wasn’t alone, he reminded himself as he approached the ultimate enemy, his father.
All Might’s faith, love, trust, advisement. They were with him too. Izuku was still grieving, but they had known this was coming. All Might had given all he could to Izuku. He’d left notebooks, telling him stories, leaving advice, expressing pride and care in every word. Little nicknames, little personal messages only for Izuku. He left all he owned to Izuku and the school and charity. He’d left him his agency. In the months leading up to his death, All Might had spent as much time as he could watching over Izuku, training him, passing on his wisdom, and just being a father. Izuku remembered the rough hand ruffling his hair, the reassuring squeeze on his shoulder. The smile that was so much warmer and gentler than the one he gave the world.
All Might lived on inside Izuku. Not only through his quirk, but through Izuku’s values, Izuku’s fighting style, Izuku’s smile. All Might was with him even now.
So despite everything, Izuku wasn’t afraid.
“Izuku,” the man said, opening his arms as though for a hug. His voice was as silky and deep and cold as Izuku remembered. He’d arranged everything to be like this. The noumus, new and improved, holding the city captive. Shigaraki and the rest of the league attacking UA like there was a war on. His friends held up there. The heroes held up with the noumu.
The option. It all stops if Izuku comes to him. Sacrifices himself for the greater good. Here in Kamino Ward, where the monument to All Might had stood, now demolished.
Izuku knew his friends would have stopped him. Would have come with him. Would have found another option. But Izuku also knew this was what he had to do. Izuku was the closest thing to a weakness AFO had, and if Izuku could use that, if he could break through to him somehow…
“All For One.” He said. His face was dry. His posture was strong and confident. A familiar smile pulled at his lips.
“You were very brave to come here,” the villain said with fondness. “And very foolish.”
All For One approached him slowly, arms still open, unthreatening. Izuku remembered how he had met All Might here. Calm but threatening. Matching him blow for blow, putting on a show for the world how weak All Might had become. To show the world that there was a villain as strong as All Might.
Not it was just the two of them. No one to perform for. The only person to prove a point to being Izuku himself.
“That’s the problem with being a hero, Izuku,” All For One said, finally reaching Izuku and pulling him into an uncomfortable hug, drawing back enough to put his hand on his cheek. “You’re always the one who suffers in the end. Selflessness doesn’t pay. You give and give, and for what?”
Izuku glared up at the man. “Something you’ll never have.” He whispered. He felt All For One’s grip tighten on his shoulder.
“We’ll agree to disagree,” his father said tightly. “We’ll see what you have left after this. You agreed by coming here, after all. You won’t fight.”
All For One’s hand moved to Izuku’s forehead, a facsimile of a father ruffling his son’s hair. Izuku took a deep breath and let it out. “I won’t fight.”
He closed his eyes, and he felt the pull.
Suddenly Izuku was in the head-space, the dream world he’d come to associate with the eight previous holders. Silhouettes stood around him, familiar friends now.
“You can still reach him, Izuku,” the first user of One For All said solemnly. “You’ve done more than anyone else. You can finish this. I’m glad it was you.”
Then he faded away.
“You’ll get ’im yet, kid! You’ve been so brave. It’ll take more than this ass to knock you down,” the second said, fading away.
“I’m sorry we have to leave you like this, Izuku. Stay firm in your resolve.” The third one faded.
“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders; if anyone can think their way out of this, it’s you.” The fourth faded.
“Fate has coalesced to bring you to this point. Embrace your destiny, boy.” The one-armed fifth faded.
“Your heart’s in the right place, kid, always was.” The loud-mouthed sixth started to fade. “Give him hell.”
“Yagi couldn’t have picked anyone better. I never doubted either of you for a second,” Shimura Nana, the seventh, said as she too faded. “Tell Tenko I’m sorry for me, would you?”
And then there was only All Might, Yagi Toshinori.
“I couldn’t be prouder of you, son,” he said, eyes shining, the smile he only gave to Izuku on his lips. “Remember, quirk or no quirk, you’re going to change the world. You’re a hero, Izuku. I love you, my boy. my brave, brave man.”
And then, like all the others before him, he faded to nothing.
Leaving Izuku empty and quirkless, the villain’s hand still resting in his curls.
Izuku fell to his knees, feeling utterly broken by the loss. His body trembled as unbidden tears fled from his eyes. He sobbed roughly.
“Very good, Izuku,” the villain said warmly. “If you’d have fought me, you would have ended up a broken doll, like that Mandalay hero you knew. I’m glad you could see sense.”
Izuku’s breaths raked the inside of his chest, hard and painful. “S-so you’ll call it off, then? You swore. No more fighting.”
“Oh, Izuku,” the villain said, tilting his head as if speaking to a child. To him, that’s all Izuku would ever be. “I swore that I wouldn't hurt another person with my invasion. I said nothing of Shigaraki and my noumu.”
Izuku’s fists clenched in the dirt. “ YOU BASTARD!”
“Think of it as a lesson in naivete.” All For One smiled, unrepentant. “Kurogiri,” he said to the air, “take him home.”
And Izuku was teleported before he could throw a punch.
It didn’t take long for Izuku to realize that All For One wanted to keep him like a pet. The cage he was put in was gilded, comfortable, and stocked with all the video games and toys a child could want. It didn’t matter that Izuku was nearly eighteen, or that Izuku had given up playing with toys outside his All Might collectables years ago, he was still an infant to the two hundred year old man. It was child-proofed, even, not a knife or sharp tool or battery in sight. Even the sockets had covers.
The room had no window. The room had no door. It was a bunker, essentially. Izuku knew nothing that lay outside the walls.
But it had plumbing.
Izuku had only been there for five minutes, and he was already using his considerable quirkless strength to pull the toilet off the wall and punch a hole through the floor beneath it. The sewage smell reminded him of the day he first met All Might, but Izuku carefully compartmentalized that thought like he did all the other feelings and fears roaring in his system. Right now, he had to keep moving. Right now he had to get back to his real home, his real family.
It was rather stupid of the villains not to strip him of his hero costume, Izuku thought, putting the most recent version of his mouth gaurd on his face. It gave him the ability to breathe just about anywhere, thanks to Mei. It even had its own small reserve of clean air. Three small canisters of refills were in one of his many pockets, too. Izuku would owe her a guinea pig day for this one. He pulled on his goggles and hood, activating the infrared vision.
Without hesitance, Izuku jumped into the dark sewage-filled hole and started crawling his way to freedom. It’d be another twenty minutes before anyone had a free moment to check in on the quirkless prisoner and raise the alarm that he’d escaped. Really, they should have known better than to leave him alone.
The students of UA had their backs against the wall. The teachers had been called to fight the noumu all throughout the city, and now the only people defending their home of three years were the students themselves. The third years were leading the charge.
Shigaraki had destroyed the entire city block surrounding the UA gates in one fell swoop. Now the lead villain was engaged with Bakugou Katsuki, and it was a blood match for the ages.
Both were surprisingly evenly matched. Both were nearly frothing at the mouth in rage at the other. Neither were landing solid hits despite the range of their attacks. It was something spectacular and horrifying to witness. Many could easily believe that Bakugou would make good on his long-time claim of being the number one hero. Many would say Shigaraki was making good on his claim to be the ultimate villain.
“Has anyone found Deku yet?” Uraraka Ochaco asked breathlessly as she finally knocked out Toga Himiko. The fight she’d had with the girl was drawn-out and bloody. She knew the blonde’s delighted smile would haunt her nightmares.
“I haven’t seen him,” Kirishima said in distressed voice as he dispelled yet another of Twice’s clones. He’d been talking with the villain as they fought, and Twice was now having a heated argument with himself over whether they really wanted to hurt Kirishima, when the redhead was so cool and manly. Kirishima and Twice were on the same page about protecting their friends, and Twice and his various clones were starting to tear each other apart.
“You don’t think he’s--” Uraraka said, fear in her voice.
“I don’t know,” Kirishima said, sounding equally worried. “But even if… Deku has to have a plan. He always does.”
Uraraka nodded to herself. She trusted Deku. She’d always trust Deku.
Meanwhile, Shouto was holding his own against his brother, Dabi. It turns out Izuku wasn’t the only one with villains in the family. They were surprisingly evenly matched. Shouto’s ice was melting almost as fast as he could form it, but his training to withstand higher and higher heats as he learned his father's moves gave him an advantage over Dabi’s more fragile constitution.
The heat was unbearable, and they were both breathing heavily.
The real battle was happening in the venom Dabi was spitting. He kept bringing the conversation back to Endeavor and how Shouto was following in his footprints, becoming the perfect little follower that daddy always wanted. Worse, even, because Endeavor was at least his own person.
Three years ago it might have stung more, but as it stood, Shouto had time to come to terms with what his father did to him, to them. He’d had the opportunity and support he needed to grow past that. He had friends in his corner and his own identity. He was the hero Shouto, protector of children.
“I’m not the one living my life to spite that bastard,” was all Shouto said on the matter. The battle picked up, Shouto having hit a nerve.
They were both tiring. But even if it melted, Shouto kept regulating his temperature with his ice.
The exchange of blue and orange fire continued until one of them finally dropped to their knees, coughing painfully and glaring bitterly.
“You could have joined us, you know?” Dabi rasped ruefully, glaring up at his brother. “All For One would have taken that bastard’s quirk away. You could have been like Mom. You could have been free.”
Shouto stood before his brother, grounded and eyes burning. “It’s my quirk,” he said before punching the man out.
It had always been his.
Iida was agilely dodging out of the way of Kurogiri’s portals as the villain attempted to bisect him. It was taking all his focus to stay ahead of the man, but it was working. He could see the man starting to grow thinner and wispier as he extended more and more of his mist to capture the boy. Iida was running low on energy too, but he was determined to outlast the villain he was set against.
This was the man he had to flee from during the USJ. This was the man who was responsible for the villains escaping so many times before. This was the secret linchpin of the League of Villains, and Iida wasn’t going to let him get away this time.
For a moment, it seemed as though Kurogiri had vanished, and Iida felt true fear. But he returned moments later, all the thinner.
“Someone needed a ride?” Iida asked, scowling.
“Yes, quite,” the well-mannered villain replied. Iida found it honestly unnerving how polite their exchange had been. You’d mistake them for two fellows catching up at a cafe if it weren’t for the life-and-death battle they were engaged in. “A friend of yours, actually.”
Iida’s stomach dropped, a wave of foreboding crashing through him. “Who?”
Kuroguri gave the impression of smiling. “Who else? Your friend was so very cooperative, all things considered. I suppose being quirkless does that to you.”
Hot rage burned through Iida, intense but controlled. Defensive. It appears the time they wasted on niceties was over, Iida thought ruefully as he threw himself at top speed into his attacks, overwhelming the man with kicks and pivots and dodges. The man grew thinner and thinner, his dented neck brace finally crumbling to the ground, a sickly purple ball of flesh tumbling almost wetly out. Boneless.
Iida kicked the brace away from Kurogiri’s apparent body, scowling in disgust. “You’re underestimating him,” he said, having made that mistake before, but being long past it. “That’s why you’ll lose. You’re always underestimating us.”
They were gathering, the hero students, as they finished off their respective enemies. Tsuyu managed to knock Spinner out with a well-placed flying kick. Yaoyorozu had managed to overwhelm and out maneuver Compress. Even Mineta got a few good hits on mustard. Civilians and news reporters started gathering too. They were crowding around the crater at the school entrance where Bakugou and Shigaraki were still fighting.
It remained awe-inspiring, the power and sheer destruction on display. The night air was being lit up by flashes of Bakugou’s quirk even as Shigaraki sent shards of stone and dust into the air, decreasing visibility. They were both taking damage, their energy waning, breathing in the smoke and dust, getting hit with shards of rock, but it remained a battle of who could land the first hit. They were practically dancing, beyond words, just heavy hit after hit. Explosion and decay. A lunge forward for every jump back.
Many of Bakugou’s friends wanted to lend their support, but entering this fray would mean instant death.
There seemed to be no end to the fighting.
Then he appeared.
All For One.
And Shigaraki took his eyes off Bakugou for only a moment to look up to his mentor.
That moment was all it took for Bakugou to press his advantage, pulling the pin on one of his gauntlets and blasting Shigaraki to oblivion.
Bakugou stood, breathing heavily, waiting for his burnt opponent to get up. He didn’t.
A pressure spilled out onto the field, locking all the students in place. Dangerous and suffocating. The aura of a true villain. Whether they were frozen from fear or from some unknown quirk wasn’t clear. What they did know was that they were frightened.
All For One clapped slowly, a mockery of being impressed, and he gracefully floated down the crater wall, approaching the center where Bakugou stood. “Impressive.” His lips twitched into a smile. “Are you sure you don’t want to be a villain, Katsuki-kun? You definitely have the right temperament.” He booted Shigaraki’s burnt body with something like amusement. “And he was doing so well.” He tsked.
“Piss off!” Bakugou snarled, hands clenched into fists and trembling. He felt frozen in fear, too, despite himself.
“I’m afraid I can't do that, Katsuki,” All For One said, taking his sweet time approaching. “You see, I still have some unfinished business with you. Izuku might be stupidly forgiving, but I'm not. Let’s see how you enjoy being as quirkless as that ‘useless pebble’ you despised so much. And don’t worry, I know how you hate to be coddled, so I won’t go easy on you.”
All For One lifted his pale hand.
Bakugou still couldn’t move.
“You swore, All For One!” a scream rang out.
All eyes turned to Izuku, who was stumbling off a motorbike. His costume was smeared in what people hoped was dirt, his green hair wilder than ever. The top half of his hero suit was tied around his waist, his torso covered only by his black undershirt. His eyes were blazing like brands in his skull.
“You swore you wouldn’t hurt anyone if I cooperated!”
“I’m a villain, Izuku.” All For One sneered slightly. “When will you learn?”
“What did you do, Deku?” Bakugou shouted, still shaking against his apparent bonds. Izuku moved unimpeded, confident even.
All For One laughed at that.
“Yes, tell them, Izuku, tell them what became of their favorite hero and his precious quirk!” All For One spread his arms wide, gesturing at the frozen crowd. “Tell them the truth of who you are!”
Izuku flinched, shoulders hunching slightly. Izuku remembered the boy he was before All Might, before One For All. Anxious, alone and ashamed. Hoping against hope that somehow, despite everything and everyone telling him that it couldn’t be done, he’d still become a hero.
In some ways, Izuku would always feel like that Deku. No matter how far he’s come and how many people he’s saved, he’s always been ashamed of that part of himself. The part of him that was complacent to his own suffering, the part of him that didn’t know where to begin and was waiting to be saved, the part of him that was scared-- not of other people, but the dark thoughts that came from his suffering. The thoughts would always pass, he’d always push them away, but there were times where that quirkless boy thought about hurting others. He thought about proving himself by tearing everyone else down.
Izuku had never told his friends fully about his quirklessness, about what it meant for him. He never confessed how it made him more like Shinsou or Todoroki than either boy ever imagined. He never unburied the hatchet that Bakugou used to attack him with.
Izuku had wanted to forget the Deku that meant useless.
Izuku remembered. His mother had his back, Katsuki would be fighting by his side, Uraraka would always support him, Todoroki would always be his friend, Iida was someone he could rely on, Eri had faith in him.
And they would always be inside his heart.
“I’m quirkless!” Izuku shouted across the clearing. He heard the gasps, sensed the fear and unease, felt the doubt that washed over the crowd.
Then Uraraka shouted, “So fucking what!”
And the rest of his classmates started shouting agreements, support, reminders. They believed in him. They cared about him. He was never useless to them.
All For One seemed almost surprised by the reaction. “No matter,” he said, ruefully. “It won’t make a difference. You can’t win this, Izuku. You should have stayed in your room like a good child.”
“I’m not a child anymore,” Izuku said boldly. He skidded down the edge of the crater and raised his fists.
“What are you going to do, Izuku?” All For One asked in an amused tone. “Fight me?”
That earned him several incredulous looks. Bakugou squinted at villain. “Have you met Deku?”
Several of Izuku’s classmates made noises of agreement, and All For One scoffed. With a flick of his wrist, Bakugou and Shigaraki were flung out of the crater, both landing roughly. “I grow tired of your petulence, Izuku.”
Izuku smiled. “Yeah, well, I’ve never been good at doing what I'm told.”
And he flung himself at the villain.
Their fight was a lot less balanced than the match between Bakugou and Shigaraki. All For One had endless quirks at his disposal, endless years of experience and fighting. Izuku only had his wits, the strength of his own body, and his three years of training. Izuku recognized that if All For One was actually trying to kill him, he’d already be dead.
But that didn’t stop him from pressing every advantage he had. He used every technique he had observed through the years. Iida’s kicks, Uraraka’s hand-to-hand, Bakugou's heavy hits, Mirio’s maneuverability. He’d learned so much, adopted so much from the people he observed and fought beside. He was never fighting alone. Yaoyorozu’s cunning, Ashido’s flexibility, Tsuyu’s jumps, Sero’s balance, Ojirou’s technique, Aizawa’s reaction time, Todoroki’s breathing, Kirishima’s ability to take a hit. His mother's patience. And All Might, so much of All Might.
When Izuku was knocked down, he’d pull himself back up.
Around him, the crowds were shouting their support. It was reminiscent of Kamino Ward, All Might’s final fight.
Izuku was knocked down again, winded, his arm shattered.
His friends shouted at him.
“Kick his ass!”
“Deku means ‘you can do it’!”
“Come on, Deku! We believe in you!”
“Never give up!”
Izuku pulled himself back up.
He could tell All For One was getting frustrated. “For the love of God, just stay down, Izuku.”
The next attack was more brutal than the others. Izuku felt more broken than ever before. The pain was worse than when he’s broken both his legs and his arm. Worse than his muscles screaming during that first year of training on the dump. Worse than getting stabbed, blown up, burned, frozen, dropped, impaled, or any of the other beatings Izuku had taken before. He couldn’t breathe.
“Just give up.” All For One stepped on Izuku’s chest, and he almost blacked out for a few seconds. But he grit his bloody teeth into something like a smile.
“Never,” he hissed, grabbing All For One’s ankle with his shattered, clumsy hands.
The next move was a hundred percent Deku, made up in the moment. Izuku twisted the man’s leg, bringing him to the ground and using the momentum of the villain’s fall to flip him onto his knees. He used the villain’s moment of being winded to crawl forward and pull .
The plastic tube attached to the villain’s throat pulled out easily.
All For One’s eyes widened in shock. “Son.” He wheezed.
“I’m not your son,” Izuku growled back, the memory of All Might’s heart in this villain’s hand all too clear.
Despite that, Izuku still took his hand, the smallest of comfort to a man who was clearly terrified of death. “Two hundred years,” he said with regret, “and you never realized what we heroes were fighting for.”
“Izuku…” the villain, his father, breathed one last time.
“Say hello to your brother for me,” Izuku whispered sadly, “and goodbye.”
All For One breathed no more. The pressure in the crater released, and something else strange happened. It wasn’t so much a light anyone could see, but it was the impression of light, a strong feeling, as something escaped from All For One’s body. Many somethings.
In a private hospital not so far away, a young hero blinked into consciousness, confused but whole once more. She was not alone, many others in similar catonic states blinking awake for the first time in years. The noumu collapsed, dead and free of the hell they’d been forced to endure. Even the corpses of the long-dead and forgotten seemed to settle in their graves.
Izuku felt a familiar warmth and weight settle in his own chest.
Tiredly, Izuku lifted his fist into the air. A declaration of victory that had the surrounding crowd screaming with relief and elation. Cheers echoed around him, even as he passed out.
Izuku was back in the dream space, surrounded by the eight users. Several were crying, everyone hugged him at least once, and the relief was palpable. They were cheering and celebrating. Izuku had finally achieved what they had fought to do for centuries. All Might was smiling that special smile. One For All stood away from the rest of them, shoulders heavy but clearly relieved.
“You’re back?” Izuku gasped happily as someone once again messed with his hair. “But I thought--”
“The effects of All For One’s quirk wore off when he died.” All Might smiled. “You saved a lot of people, my boy.”
“But,” Izuku hesitated and glanced at One For All.
“It became your quirk when you inherited it, Izuku,” he said, his smile reassuring and tired. “We belong with you.”
Izuku burst into tears. “B-but-”
Arms wrapped around him, warm and familiar.
“It’s what I always told you, my prince of nonsense,” All Might said fondly. “You earned this, through your bravery, your dedication, your work. Your heart, Izuku. If anyone deserves to carry One For All, if anyone could turn it into something more than a weapon to defeat All For One, it’s you, my boy.”
Izuku tensed. “But I killed him… I killed someone… my own father.”
One For All moved forward and placed a hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “My brother…” he said heavily, “he was meant to die a long time ago. It was time.”
“Sometimes death is part of being a hero,” Nana said, glancing at All Might with regret. “It’s a risk of the job for both sides. And while I can't tell you not to feel guilty, I can tell you that you did the right thing. You’re a hero, kid. You made the call you had to, and that couldn’t have been easy.”
Izuku shoulders slumped slightly.
“But enough of that,” All Might said, brushing his hand through Izuku’s hair. “Your family’s out there for you, my boy. You wouldn’t want to keep them waiting.”
Izuku woke, unsurprisingly in UA’s infirmary. What was surprising was that he didn’t hurt at all. He glanced around, and spotting a familiar head of white hair, realized Eri must have rewound him.
“That’s two I owe you, little sister,” he rasped, throat dry from sleeping so long.
“Ni-chan!” the ten-year-old squealed happily and threw herself into his stiff arms. He held her tightly, relieved that she’d been unharmed in all the fighting. She pulled back and slapped his arm. “Don’t scare me like that! You could have died!”
“Yeah, sorry, sis.” Izuku grinned crookedly. “I’ll definitely try to avoid doing that again.”
Eri huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. “We both know you’ll find your way into something twice as dangerous next week.”
“You offend me,” Izuku mock-gasped. “I can make it at least a month before something really bad happens.”
The skeptical look she gave him was really telling.
“So the sleeping beauty awakens,” Recovery Girl said, entering the room. She was clearly exhausted, but she smiled at him. “Just this once, I’m going to let your infirmary rule go. But don’t get used to that cushy bed, mister.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Izuku smiled back. Honestly, he was as sick of being in the infirmary as Recovery Girl was of seeing him there. He sat back in the bed, a new wave of exhaustion crashing into him. “Man, did that really happen?”
“Which part?” Recovery Girl asked dryly. “The part where you broke every bone in your body, or the part where you defeated the most powerful villain in history while quirkless?”
“Uhhh… yes?” It sounded a lot cooler and less terrifying when she put like that.
“Then yes,” Recovery Girl said shrewdly. “I should warn you, the media is having a field day with your fight. The others’ too, though yours had the greatest… impact. There’s talk of entering you into the rankings even before you even graduate.”
The look of existential terror that crossed Izuku’s face was also very telling.
For the rest of the day, Izuku’s hospital bed was crowded by his classmates coming in and congratulating him in their own ways. His mother cried over him and hugged him so tightly Izuku thought he was going to suffocate. He was reminded, like always, not to be so reckless. He was thanked for his bravery. And unexpectedly Mandalay, the Pussycats, and Kota visited, thanking him for what he did to restore the hero’s quirk. At the end of the day, the visits were nice but exhausting. When he was released, he made his way back to the dorms, trying to take a moment to clear his head.
Of course Bakugou fell in step with him, scowling slightly. “You’re so annoying, you know that? And a spotlight hog. I singlehandedly defeated the asshole that’s been hunting us for three fucking years, and you have to one-up me. Bastard.”
There wasn’t any venom in his words, if anything this was companionable for Bakugou. Izuku stretched his arms above his head and smiled easily. “If it makes you feel better, I wasn’t trying to one-up you.”
Bakugou rolled his eyes. “As if. Just for that bullshit line, I’m ruining the surprise party that’s waiting for you in the dorms.”
“There’s a surprise party?”
“It’s not a surprise anymore.” Bakugou grinned viciously.
“You’re a monster,” Izuku said dryly, but he was smiling.
Bakugou elbowed him in the side roughly. “I was wrong, by the way. About you being worthless.”
Izuku stopped walking, only lasting a moment before bursting into tears. Bakugou gave another exaggerated eye roll. “And they say you’re going to be number one.” He muttered.
“What?” Izuku blinked. Bakugou walked ahead, ignoring him. “ What!?”
A few days later, Izuku was lying facedown on the coach, groaning endlessly. Recovery Girl had warned him that the media was going to be enthusiastic, but he wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. Apparently fighting and murdering your villain father while quirkless was the kind of story that could be sensationalized beyond all reason. The reality was already unbelievable, now they're turning that up to eleven. Add to that, all the noumu fell and countless catatonic patients awoke simultaneously with Izuku’s final attack, and they were painting him with a sense of mysticism. Look at Izuku! He's a magic boy who can take out people when powerless and cure all the ill! he defeats monsters without even touching them! wow!
It was mortifying.
His friends were no help. “Hey, Number One,” Shouto said, taking a seat on Izuku’s legs and opening a book. “How’s the top treating you?”
Izuku kept groaning.
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Uraraka said, jabbing him in the ribs over the back of the couch with a very sharp finger. “I’d say few heroes get as impressive a debut as you did. And publicity is what you signed up for when you decided to be the Symbol of Hope.”
Izuku just kept on groaning.
“Really, you’re just being melodramatic,” Iida said, entering and putting a bowl of popcorn on the coffee table.
“I think if anyone has the right to be melodramatic right now, it’s Midoriya,” Tsuyu said matter-of-factly.
Izuku lifted his hand and pointed at her. “Tsuyu is my one true friend.”
“Kero,” the girl replied while Uraraka and Iida gave equally offended gasps.
“Whatever you say, Mr. Number One Hero.” Shouto deadpanned.
Izuku went back to groaning.
This is the story of how I became the number one hero....
And my story’s only just begun.