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Trick of the Light

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“Without a power can one become a hero? No, I should think not.”

Midoriya’s world stood still. He could hear a ringing in his ears. This was it. The answer he’s been looking for since he was diagnosed, delivered from his idol, The Number One Hero, All Might.

But it was all wrong. Even All Might was all wrong. The man that was standing before him was thin like a twig, his body all but wasted away from a villain attack, his eyes sunken and hidden in shadows. This man didn’t deal in reassurances, speaking only of harsh truths. And he wasn’t smiling.

Midoriya was standing in the middle of a roof, gripping a bottle filled with the Sludge Villain. He remembered grabbing it on instinct after it nearly slipped out of All Might’s pocket. For a brief time it took them to land, he wondered if he will impress his idol with this pointless feat, ignoring the fact that he was probably the reason it nearly fell in the first place.

But in the end it didn’t make a difference.

“If you desire to help people, becoming a police officer is always an option,” the man kept talking, seemingly unfazed by Midoriya’s blank stare. “Those villain custody officers are often mocked but that too is admirable work!”

He was barely listening at this point. This couldn’t be it. The end of his journey as a hero, before it even began. Suddenly everything started blending together and he was drifting into a dreamlike state, his eyes unfocused, his sight obscured by unshed tears. He wanted to be alone, he wanted to go back in time and never meet All Might at all. Midoriya felt his face burned with embarrassment. How could he have even asked such a thing. How could he think he could get into UA, the school most people with Quirks couldn’t get into. How could he waste his hero’s time. He wanted to apologize to All Might. He wanted to apologize to Kacchan. He wanted to apologize to his younger self for failing to meet his expectations.

Midoriya saw the figure of All Might advancing towards him, every step looking as though it caused All Might pain to move at all. Maybe it did. Midoriya closed his eyes and felt long bony fingers brushing against his own, taking the bottle out of his hands. He shuddered, involuntarily. It was hard for him to admit it, but the grotesque appearance of his idol made him feel uneasy. He found himself with a burning desire to immediately leave this man’s presence, even though he kept reiterating in his mind that it was in fact All Might and judging someone like that was incredibly shallow. He couldn’t help but see this man as a parody of everything All Might, the hero, stood for. This shadow of a man was cruel and dismissive, his face in a permanent grimace, so different from his usual - apparently fake - smile. He still stood at a massive 7’2” but somehow before his height seemed comforting. It made Midoriya feel protected. Now the towering figure was more akin to a spider, cutting off any escape possibility for its prey.

“It’s not wrong to dream,” said All Might, his voice becoming distant. “however, you need to be realistic, kid.”

The door to the rooftop opened and then slammed shut. Midoriya opened his eyes. He was alone.

When he was in a tight spot in his life he liked to think about Kacchan. They weren’t friends for years now, but there was nobody else he knew that he admired to this degree. Kacchan’s words came back to him:

“If you think you will get a Quirk in your next life… Go take a swan dive off the roof!”

He looked at the fence at the edge of the roof and sighed. Midoriya didn’t believe in reincarnation. He decided he wasn’t interested in religion very early on, when he realized most religious folks were convinced his Quirkless nature was a punishment for something he did in his past life, or a punishment for his parents for their sins. It was slightly different from one religion to another and obviously not everyone shared this belief, but it was enough to deter him.

Maybe it was a punishment after all. It felt like one. Especially when according to the one person he admired most he wasn’t worth a second glance.

He waited for a minute to give All Might enough time to descend the stairs, so that he wouldn’t have to pass him on his way down. He propped himself up on the rooftop railing and stared into the distance, he felt the tears spilling onto his cheeks.

Midoriya thought of Kacchan again. What would he think about this All Might? If he knew the truth would he still admire him? The Kacchan he knows admired only the strong. The people who “always win”. This All Might could barely descend the stairway.

He wasn’t sure how he felt about that either.

Maybe he will have to find a new, more realistic idol. He could probably look up some famous lawyers. Or policeman. Or park rangers… Whichever has the highest possibility of never seeing All Might again.

Midoriya gathered his things and walked down the stairs. He stared longingly at the burned notebook in his hand. Midoriya wished he was still in the reality where only one person he admired put down his dreams.

He shook his head. He had to think about this reality. It was no use dwelling on the past.

‘Time to get realistic, Izuku’, he thought. There was one more thing he had to do before doing that, however. He looked around. There was a small trashcan next to the exit. Perfect.

Midoriya glance at the notebook one last time and sighed.

Hero Analysis for the Future vol. 13. The last volume.

‘Reality,’ he reminded himself quickly. And with that he let the notebook fall into the can. Midoriya blinked away the tears that were threatening to spill again. He didn’t want strangers to worry about him.

He just needed to be alone.

***

All Might found himself coming back to that encounter many times in the years to come. Maybe he could’ve done something different, did something to reassure his young fan things would end up different. And he wouldn’t feel… so guilty.

Looking at that boy he felt uncomfortable. All Might wanted to run away, to push the child away so that he would stop looking back at him with these big, hopeful and innocent eyes…

It was like looking in the mirror.

If, of course, said mirror was also capable of showing him the reflection of himself from the times long gone. When he still believed that all it took to become the Symbol of Peace was a dream. He knew better now. And he didn’t want to lead this boy who was so much like himself down the same road, to the same mistakes.

All Might raised his bony hand up to the scar on his chest and dug his nails into the tissue under his white t-shirt. He found himself doing that a lot after the accident. In the early days doing so would make the wound re open and cause a lot of pain in the process. Nowadays his body was mostly numb in that area. Sometimes he thought it was a shame.

“Your ID, sir?” The clerk at the bank asked, with a bored expression. All Might realized he zoned out.

“Of course…” He placed a card on the counter and pushed it forward, to the other side of a glass partition, separating him from the bank employee.

He didn’t like using his civilian ID card. All Might hated looking at himself on that photo, hated his name. He wasn’t Toshinori Yagi, after all.

Toshinori Yagi for him was the bright eyed, Quirkless boy, running after a Pro Hero to explain his dreams. Toshinori Yagi was the UA student who lied on the floor, crying after his master died and left him alone in the world.

Toshinori Yagi was weak and useless. Pathetic.

And with One for All’s flame dying within him, he had to make peace with the fact that he will have to become Toshinori Yagi again. Weak. Powerless. Unable to save others.

He did his business and turned to leave the building, eager to be home. Yagi walked only a few steps, before coming to a stop. A tall figure entered the building, a woman wearing a hoodie, that looked as though there was something constantly moving just under the fabric covering her head.

She reached the center of the room and stopped. She looked around, pulling her hands out of her pockets.

“Everybody on the ground,” the woman yelled, pulling her hood down. “This is a robbery.”

As soon as she did that her long green hair spilled down onto her back in what looked like many thick braids. However on closer inspection Yagi realized they weren’t hair at all… Instead in place where hair should be, this woman had a nest of green snakes, hissing and slithering around her shoulders, their flat heads turning towards people around her in a threatening manner.

People who were close to the door started running, hoping to get out before the situation gets out of hand, but before any of them managed to reach it, the door opened again.

A strange man stood in the doorway. He was wearing wide mirror shades that were taking up most of his face. Yagi could see him grinning, the man’s yellow teeth on display. Yagi saw a small logo on his jacket, depicting what appeared to be the face of the mythical Gorgon, with snakes coming out of her head and wings on both sides. A member of a gang for certain.

“You heard Euryale,” he said sliding the sunglasses down on his nose. “Freeze.”

Suddenly Yagi could feel a sweeping coldness coming over his entire body. He could see the man’s eyes glow yellow and that’s when everything stopped. His limbs hung uselessly in the air, his hair not moving in the wind of the opened door. Even his face was motionless.

“Thank you, Medusa,” the snake woman said, addressing the newcomer. Then she turned around, her voice sounding more distant than before. “Put the money in the bag. Just make it quick.”

Yagi could hear the woman walking towards the counter and talking, he could see the man in front of him smiling smugly. But it was all becoming a blur. The only thing he could think about was how this man took all of his fears and made them real. He was powerless. He couldn’t help. For the first time he heard a cry for help and knew that All Might wasn’t coming.

Was this a glimpse into his future?

Yagi could see the terrified faces of other people all around and for the first time he knew really how they felt. If his expression could change in this frozen state, he imagined it would mirror theirs. And there was that noise…

“Stop fucking crying!” The man before him was no longer smiling. Instead he was looking at someone in front of him, a small child, who’s mother shared Yagi’s fate. “Come here, you--”

Medusa reached for the little boy, but before his hand could even touch him it stopped mid-air, as though it was met with an unexpected obstacle, that he couldn’t see.

“What the hell…” The criminal stood there, confused. His hand hovering in the empty space. “Who’s there?!”

With this the man pushed his hand forward slightly, Yagi could hear a faint grunt coming from the empty space.

“I see… an invisibility Quirk… You made a mistake, picking a fight with me, Invisible Man… I--,” but before he could finish his sentence, his head was thrown to the side by an unexpected blow.

Yagi felt pride at the civilian’s bravery mix with the shame he felt, faced with his own inaction.

“You little…” Medusa swung his big hand, until he encountered the invisible barrier again. When that happened, his eyes lit up with glee and he closed his massive hand around the invisible person’s neck. “Hey… I wonder… Would my Quirk still work on you? With you being invisible and all. I can paralyse people, you see. The only catch is that I have to look into your eyes.”

The villain moved his hand above his head, picking up the invisible person by their neck. A sound of choking rang through the silent lobby. Medusa stared into what he assumed was his captive’s eyes.

“Huh?” Medusa said. “I guess it doesn’t work… Well, that’s alright.”

He brought the hand that was gripping the invisible person closer to his face, speaking directly into their ear.

“I can just beat you until you’re paralysed.”

The villain brought his other fist up and brought it down on the other person’s face. But the sound of bones breaking under the villain’s blow was drawn out by a much louder one. At the same moment the window behind Medusa shattered to pieces.

***

Some people were not born to be heroes.

It wasn’t something anyone liked to say, but it was true. People with weaker Quirks, or no Quirks at all could only dream about getting into hero work.

Chiyori “Pressure Point” Himura was one of these people. They were fragile, sickly, thin like a stick and no matter how much they tried, they couldn’t build significant muscle mass. But they were also very determined.

And sometimes being very determined leads you to throwing a brick at a bank window.

“The Gorgon Robbers,” Himura said. “But only 2/3. What happened?”

“Ah, I see we got ourselves a fan,” Medusa said, mockingly. “So who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”

Himura stiffened, their expression neutral, their eyes shut tight to avoid this man’s Quirk. This was their debut. The first time anyone asked their name. Himura rehearsed for this exact moment a million times in front of a mirror, but was still very nervous when they replied:

“I’m Pressure Point! A hero and a QA member!”

Pressure Point tried to assume the most “heroic pose” they could muster, realizing they looked pretty much like every other citizen without their vigilante suit. Knockout said it would be ready “any day now”, but Pressure Point wasn’t about to be hindered by such a minor inconvenience.

Suddenly there was a burst of laughter coming from Medusa.

“What’s so funny, huh?” Pressure Point said. They were never really good at public speaking. But they were never so openly laughed at, not since high school...

“You’re with the QA? The Quirkless people playing superhero?” Medusa said, mockingly. “And you wanna fight me? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.”

“Why don’t you prove it then,” said Pressure Point, slowly becoming more agitated.

“I usually prefer a fair fight,” Medusa said, shrugging his shoulders and turning away.

Pressure Point stood in place for a moment, confused, feeling the anger bubble up inside of them. They knew this was probably going to happen, but hearing someone disregard them so openly.

“You’re still here?” Medusa said, turning around. “You’ve got guts…”

Medusa lunged towards Pressure Point, punching them in the stomach, making them stumble, wind knocked out of them. Their lean build unfit for taking many blows.

If they just waited for that vigilante costume… It was supposed to come with a bit of armor to protect the sensitive places.

Pressure Point decided to think about that later, focusing on listening for Medusa’s movement. They could hear another punch coming and raised their hand to protect themselves.

“You really shouldn’t have come here,” Medusa said. He kicked out his leg, aiming for Pressure Points knees. They buckled under his strength. But they couldn’t lose. This was their time to show everyone what they’re made of...

Pressure Point pushed through the pain and lunged forward, striking the confused villain’s arm with a series of well placed blows, that appeared to have been delivered using only their fingers.

Pressure Point stood still for a second, breathing deeply. Did it work?

“What the fuck did you do?” Medusa’s voice didn’t sound as self-assured as it did just a minute ago. Pressure Point chanced a glance at his lower body and as they expected - his arm was dangling uselessly by his side. “You have a Quirk, don’t you? Answer me!”

“It’s Dim Mak,” Pressure Point said, the corners of their lips turning upwards.

They positioned themselves in the right fighting stance, putting one foot backwards, stabilizing themselves. But that didn’t last long.

Suddenly they felt something creeping down their arms, scaly and slick vines, wrapping around them like ropes, binding their movements, tightening around, in a painful way.

“Get out of here, you Quirkless disgrace,” someone behind them said, her voice calm, almost a whisper or a hiss of a venomous snake. Pressure Point, in their attempt to focus on the fight, completely forgot about the other villain.

Pressure Point only had a few seconds to realize what was happening, before Euryale used her snakes to lift her opponent in the air. They could hear Medusa approaching them, his footsteps echoing in the lobby.

“You know, because of your “QA” antics the whole vigilante scene has been disgraced. People laugh at you on TV… Nobody cares about your pathetic initiative and the only reason your buddies didn’t get arrested yet is that you don’t even have powers so you don’t count as “vigilantes”. You’re just clowns.”

Pressure Point heard Medusa lift, what they assumed was his still working arm, bringing it down on their face. There was a sound of their nose breaking, blood gushing down their face.

“Remember this, and tell your friends too,” Medusa said, raising his hand again. “Quirkless people can’t be heroes.”

He punched Pressure Point in the stomach again. After that he backed away, slightly.

“Throw them out. I’m not gonna waste more time, before the real heroes get here,” he said addressing his partner in crime.

Pressure Point felt themselves being moved in the snakes’ iron grip, they were manhandled, until they felt someone’s breath on their face. They only had a second to think before they, seemingly on instinct, kicked their leg out, crushing it into what they assumed must’ve been Euryale’s face. The moment they did that, they felt something sharp pierced their arm.

The snakes.

“Feisty…” Euryale said, as Pressure Point felt their head starting to spin with what they assumed was snake venom. “Yes, he’s right. You’ve got guts... but now they’re spilled!”

Himura was not made to be a hero. But they were also determined.

And sometimes being determined leads you to be poisoned and thrown out of a window.

Himura decided to pick up their hero costume the same day.

***

The last thing Yagi remembered before succumbing to a dreamless, Quirk-induced sleep was a female figure with black hair and a revealing outfit stepping into the bank.

That must’ve been Midnight.

But after he woke up, she wasn’t there anymore, no doubt went with the police and the apprehended criminals. He saw that the window to the bank was shattered and there was a tall person lying among the garbage, being helped by the police. Yagi recognized them as Pressure Point - the QA member who was beaten down by the villains before he was put to sleep by Midnight’s Quirk. One officer was giving them a dropped notebook, while they were trying to get away, saving face. Which he thought wasn’t really possible at this point.

This is what happened when people were told they can fulfill their unreasonable dreams. They put themselves in danger like this person. All Might could at least tell himself that he spared that faboy the same fate. Then why did he felt so bad...

But who called the Pro Heroes? Yagi was in the middle of waving off a few police officers if he was ok, when he noticed the emergency exit door open on its own, linger for as long as it would take a person to go through and then close quietly. He almost forgot.

The Invisible Person.

Yagi looked around. Nobody really seemed to notice them leaving. He shrugged and after a second of consideration, followed through the emergency exit.

He found himself in a dark alley between two buildings, with walls covered entirely by graffiti and in some places white paint, that was no doubt supposed to cover more graffiti.

"You’re the person who rescued that child. And you called the heroes," Yagi said, hoping the person was still there. Otherwise he’d feel rather foolish, talking to an empty back alley.

“Uh, yes I did..." A small voice answered. Then it quickly grew panicked. “But I'm not with the vigilantes, I swear! I don't want to get in trouble!"

The invisible person came forward. And Yagi knew she did, because this time she was wearing clothing which appeared to be floating in mid air, supported by and invisible frame. He tilted his head to the side and smiled in a reassuring manner.

"If you aren't a vigilante and you aren't a hero then what are you doing, saving people? Shouldn’t your first instinct be to call and not run at the villain?"

"Um... I... I know... it sounds dumb but I just.... I couldn't just sit there and do nothing... I am training to become a hero and I thought... What is all that training for if I'm just gonna stand there and do nothing! It was like my legs..."

"Your legs moved on their own?" Yagi proposed. "You’re training to become a hero... I see. So... you're a student at UA then? That’s what the local hero school is called after all."

"W-what?! No, no... I mean I would like to go there but honestly I don't think I have much of a chance, they only take the best of the best, after all!" The invisible person blurted out in one breath. "But... I might be one next year."

"Oh? Well, I think you would fit right in," said Yagi, giving the startled youth a thumbs up. "And I would know. I'm going to be a teacher there after all! Haha!"

"Oh my gosh! And honest recommendation from a UA teacher!"

"I’m not a teacher there yet!" said Yagi a little flustered by their excitement.

"Sorry!" The invisible person said, sounding more than apologetic. "My name is Tooru Hagakure, by the way."

"Toshinori Yagi."

"I thought only pro heroes teach at UA though," said Hagakure, looking in his direction, curious. “No offence.”

"Ah, well. I'm... retired," Yagi stuttered out. "I thought it might be a way to... Continue being connected to the hero society."

He looked down at his hands. It was a lie of course, but it made him feel a bit uneasy when he thought about how it might become a reality for him very soon. He moved to take his hand into the other in a nervous gesture, but before he could do that, his right hand got caught by something invisible. Two gentle hands, much smaller than his own.

“Thank you for your service then! It would be an honor to learn from someone this experienced!”

Yagi looked up at the floating clothing. Tooru Hagakure. His mouth slightly open in surprise. Was she really this excited about being taught by a has-been?

She was a lot like the other aspiring hero he met today… But that was different. He didn’t have a chance to pass the UA exam without a Quirk.

But somehow the kid keep coming back to him. Every time he could only think of one thing - how similar they were and how much he didn’t want anyone to be similar to him. He couldn’t bare someone else ending up the way he did.

Suddenly the warm hands retreated, its owner backing away slightly.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so forward,” the invisible girl folded in a deep bow.

“No, it’s alright, young Hagakure!” He said, taking a step forward. She has misinterpreted his surprise as displeasure or anger… That wouldn’t stand. “I just wanted to thank you! For your actions inside... Nobody else realized you were there and I thought you deserved credit. So... I’m here.”

***

Hagakure looked up to meet the disheveled man’s gaze. She straightened up. And for a moment she didn’t know what was she supposed to say to that admission. She never really did things for recognition. And that’s because deep down, Hagakure knew hoping for recognition when she couldn’t even be seen by the human eye was just an idle daydream. But this stranger did. And he thanked her.

Hagakure felt tears threatening to spill from her invisible eyes.

‘You had the prettiest blue eyes,’ she remembers her mother saying. But she was never sure if that was true. Maybe they changed since she went invisible. Nobody could really tell.

“I hope to see you at UA next year, ok?! Promise you’ll do your best, young Hagakure!” Yagi said. He smiled at her in a way that made her feel warm. It was strange how a ghastly figure like him could have this type of calming aura. It made her want to follow the stranger, just to stay in the positive energy he emanated.

‘Maybe that was his Quirk?’ Hagakure thought. She realized that the stranger was still waiting for her answer.

“Ah, I… I don’t think I can make it to UA. I read about the entrance exam and… it feels like it wasn’t designed for someone with my set of abilities,” she said, looking away slightly. “I don’t want to promise something I can’t… do.”

Hagakure felt her face heat up in embarrassment. Yagi’s face fell. There it is.

“I see,” he said. She could tell he was thinking about something, but she wasn’t sure exactly what was on his mind. “Tell me, young Hagakure. You said you were training to become a hero, yet you are so easy to dismiss your own abilities. Do you think your training is insufficient? And if you think that is the case why do you continue with it? Why are you trying if you think you’ll fail?”

Yagi’s voice was harsher now. But in a way that made him sound more like a disappointed parent, than a rude stranger or a strict teacher.

“I… My training puts emphasis on me becoming a stealth hero. Someone shrouded in shadows, but… the true heroes are visible. They don’t hide, they are beacons of hope, keeping evil at bay just by the way they smile in the face of it. That’s the kind of hero people want… And that’s the kind of hero UA hopes will pass the test, that was designed to favour strength enhancing Quirks… And while it is my dream to pass the test… I sometimes think it’s unrealistic, Mr. Yagi,” Hagakure dropped her gaze. This all sounded pretty pathetic, when she said it out loud.

“Did you tell that to the person who’s teaching you?”

“I did. But he said that I have to be more realistic… play to my strengths. And that with my Quirk I should probably apply to General Education first and then transfer…”

“It is true that you should always adapt your fighting style to that what will give you the biggest advantage,” he said. Hagakure hung her head. “But if your teacher thinks that you’re not strong enough to make it to the Hero Course…”

Yagi put his hands on her shoulders.

“You should fire him.”

“What? No, I couldn’t!” Hagakure took a step backwards, as though the mere thought terrified her.

“Listen, young Hagakure. This world is full of dreamers, but only a few of them have the potential to fulfill their dreams. And you are one of them. How else do you explain what you did today?”

Yagi stepped away and smiled at her, a spark of determination in his blue eyes.

“Hire a new teacher. And see you in a few months.”

He turned around and started walking away. Hagakure weighed her options in her head for a second.

“Wait!”

Yagi stopped and turned around. Hagakure dropped onto her hands and knees on the hard concrete, in a dark alley between a bank and a sushi restaurant.

“Please, teach me.”

***

Near Midoriya’s school there was a small playground. He used to come here often with his mother when he was just a small child. It was after all, a perfect place for kids to discover their Quirks and try to use them in a safe environment.

He remembered Kachan coming here often. It was him who was probably responsible for the broken equipment on the east side of the playground. But Kachan, just like the other children stopped coming a long time ago. When they felt secure enough in their Quirks they used any excuse to test it outside of the safe environment.

But Midoriya never stopped coming here. Maybe deep down he believed that somehow he could still discover himself here. That one day he will develop a Quirk that he could test here.

But he knew this wouldn’t happen.

Midoriya sat down on a swing in the middle of a lonely playground, looking down at the ground.

He knew that he should just go home, perhaps rethink his life, but he found himself gravitating towards this place. A place where his peace couldn’t get disturbed by other people. Or at least not usually.

Suddenly he could see a big shadow on the ground, indicating that someone is standing over him. Midoriya looked up, startled. Was he not supposed to be here?

“Midoriya Izuku?” Someone was standing behind him.

A tall person with neat black hair, wearing, what appeared to him to be a hero uniform with a big QA logo printed on their chest stared at him with curiosity written all over their face. Midoriya wondered if he did anything bad enough for a hero to be looking at him like this.

‘Maybe All Might told his hero friends about how I tried to be a hero and they came to reprimand me…’

“Y-yes?” He stuttered haplessly.

“I found your notebook,” they said, not paying attention to Midoriya’s panicked expression. Only then the boy notices a slightly burned “Hero Analysis for the Future vol. 13” in their hand.

“Oh… I thought it was… In the garbage,” he said, hanging his head.

“That’s where I found it.”

“Um, then you can… put it back. I don’t need it anymore.”

“You can find a lot of interesting things in the garbage, you know,” the stranger said and slammed the notebook on the bench. “It says ‘volume thirteen’ on the cover. Is there more?”

“What are you saying?”

“I want more of this. This hero analysis - it’s very good. I didn’t see anything so in-depth since the hero wiki got taken off the internet.”

Midoriya remembered the hero wiki, of course. It was a shared effort of a team of American hero enthusiasts, who analysed footage of fights they filmed to document Pro Heroes’ techniques, weaknesses and strong points. It was shut down after the American government decided leaking sensitive information that was so detailed could put the heroes at risk, possibly helping villains.

After that debacle one of them put out a series of videos that was supposed to teach other people how to analyse advanced hero techniques on your own, but they were way less popular than the site. Midoriya, of course, watched them all.

“It could use a bit polish, but I think you could be a pretty good analyst/ To be honesI thought you were a bit… older.”

“How did you know where to find me?” Midoriya said, puzzled.

“I mean I already had your name,” the stranger said, self assured. “So all I had to do was ask around.”

The stranger sat down at the swing next to him. Midoriya wondered if this was what the after school specials he was forced to watch in Elementary School warned him about.

“So… you want to be a hero?”

“I… no. I did, but… it’s not going to happen,” Midoriya said. “I’m Quirkless.”

Silence fell and the only thing Midoriya could hear was the waves gently hitting the beach. He could feel the other person judging him and almost started apologizing for wasting their time when they broke the silence first.

“I know,” they said finally. Their voice struck a gentler note. Something changed in their eyes. “Me too.”

Midoriya turned to them, his mouth slightly open in shock, his eyes wide.

“But you’re… a hero! I thought a Quirkless person can’t--”

“And who told you that?”

“Well, everyone…” Midoriya lowered his head. “All Might most recently.”

“All Might,” Himura spat out the name like it was a slur. “You would listen to him? That guy is all that’s wrong with the hero society… You know, at least with someone like Endeavour I know what they’re about. All Might… he’s all fake. His smile, his brand, his laugh… It’s all for the camera, kid.”

Midoriya didn’t know what to say to that. He was not used to such open resentment towards All Might, or the superhuman establishment as a whole. Just talking to someone who didn’t disregard him on account of him not having a Quirk was… strange. He looked back on his meeting with All Might. Seeing his broken body, hearing his harsh words…

Fake.

“So you think… I can be a hero?” Midoriya looked to this stranger’s face as though it was a lifeline. His last hope. If at least one real hero would tell him he can be one himself, his dream would be saved.

“I’m a vigilante. Not a Pro Hero,” the stranger turned to him with a somber expression. “My name is Pressure Point. And I didn’t seek you out just because I think your writing is good. I sought you out because of this.”

Pressure Point turned a few pages and stopped at the one on which he drew his own hero costume. There was something written underneath it that made Midoriya feel slightly embarrassed.

Midoriya Izuku - the first Quirkless Pro Hero

They smiled at him and he could immediately tell that this is not an expression that their face took often. It was slightly crooked and would be unnerving if it wasn’t for the words that followed.

“When I saw this page, when I discovered that there is someone who felt exactly like I did when I was younger I had to meet them,” they said with a strange spark in their eye. “Listen. I can’t tell you what you want to hear. I can’t promise anything and I can’t tell you what your future will be like... But I can tell you what my hero once told me.”

Pressure Point stood up from the bench, the sunset illuminating their frame from behind.

“When the world is stacked up against you at every turn, sometimes all you can do is demand the impossible,” Pressure Point smiled, determined, as though they were remembering something. “I can’t give you permission to do it. You have to demand it! Demand it, Midoriya!”

Pressure Point stood there, framed in the fading sun, looking at Midoriya and smiling. And for the first time he understood that this was what he needed. This is what he was barred from his entire life. All he needed was someone looking at him like this. Not like he needed to be fixed, or like he needed their pity, like he was pathetic. He didn’t need to be anyone else to achieve his dreams. Just himself.

Pressure Point looked at him like he had the power to do whatever he wanted. For the first time Midoriya was talking to someone who understood. Who had the same experiences and was willing to share.

He felt the tears spill from his eyes. He always thought that he needed permission to follow them. To be someone valuable. But this person didn’t give it to him. They didn’t want him to ask for it. They wanted him to take it. To make his destiny.

“I want to become a hero!” Midoriya cried.

“But can you become a hero?” Pressure Point looked at him, fire blazing in their eyes, their hand outstretched to Midoriya, prompting him to make his response even more forceful.

‘I’m sorry, Izuku!’ His mother said, crying and hugging him, looking at him as though he was broken.

‘Without a power can someone become a hero? No, I should think not,’ All Might said, looking at him as though he was a nuisance, a dreamer, a naive child.

‘Demand it!’ Pressure Point yelled, looking at him...

Midoriya stood up so quickly that for a second his head spun. But after that passed, he has never seen things as clearly. Pressure Point grinned at him openly now. Midoriya held his head up high and put his fist up to the sky, as though he was challenging some invisible forces.

“I can become a hero!”