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Strength of a Hero

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It showed us the grim reality of change. It reminded us that we are all human. It allowed us to learn and grow as a person, and could even give us the newfound confidence to take on the cruel world ahead of us. It was a concept universally known to the race of men.

Izumi Midoriya, nicknamed 'Deku' by her playground bullies, was barely seven years old when she had learned what true suffering was.

It was a cold winter night in December, the time that was meant for celebration and joy, where she would have all the time in the world to cuddle up in her beloved mother's embrace. Instead, it would be the coldest winter Izumi could ever remember in her entire life. Where the warmth she was so used too was gone.

She ran, bare-feet leaving a thin trail of red on the freshly fallen snow behind her. The sound of the crackling flames growing more distant with each passing step, ignoring how her lungs burned from inhaled smoke and exhaustion.

Izumi had barely escaped, running past a blur of freshly splattered crimson, wincing as she sped past the ferocious flames licking at the walls, before collapsing on the ground in a heap away from it all. The rush of adrenaline, the very thing that kept her body moving faded away into the unforgiving winter night; the air chilling her body.

Izumi squeezed her eyes shut, giving out an ugly choked sob when she recalled the memory of her mother as the frost slowly biting her skin. Her mother's long blackish-green hair, her beautiful and kind face, her smile and laughter, her mother. Izumi would never hear her voice again, she would never see that warm radiating smile ever again, she would never feel her warm hug ever again.

Izumi's small frame trembled as she curled in on herself, tight into a little ball, teeth chattering from the frigid winds that struck her face. The falling snow melted in her hair as it simultaneously stung her skin.

Her home was gone, having most likely been consumed by the flame, but she did not need a house to feel warm. No, all she really needed and wanted at this moment, was her mother's everlasting embrace. In Inko's arms, there was no such thing as the bitter cold, only comfort that a mother could give.

Now, now Inko Midoriya was gone, having died in order to protect her worthless Quirkless child. Izumi was left all by her lonesome for her entire life.

Izumi shuddered as her small mind processed the reality of her situation, her body crumpling further into the ground— where was the warmth? She could not remember what such a feeling felt like, and the possibility of life itself crossed her mind.

Alone in the December's wind and snow, she laid on the ground, losing letting her mind wander into the uncaring embrace of darkness and the nightmare that beckoned.

Her home was consumed in the vivid sea of reddish yellow, and orange. The strange flickers licking along the once pristine floorboards and walls around her. As if the colorful display was merely playing a child's game, with every vicious pop and crackle signified the burning of another of her beloved possessions, forever lost in the blazing heat.

Izumi trembled, ambling further back underneath her bed, hearing strangers' voices draw near. Harsh and unfamiliar, these mysterious voices all but a buzz as the crackles and pops rang throughout the house, but to her innocent and imaginative mind, the voices were eerily similar to what she believed the sound of the monster that hid in the closet would be like.

"Where is she!? Find her!" one shouted.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are, little brat," another hate-filled voice said.

The sound of metal hitting something made of flesh sent a small terrified whimper out of her trembling lips. Within the madness going on around her, she heard heavy footsteps echoing ever closer toward her room, accompanied by barely-heard heavy and wheezing breaths when they stepped over the threshold of the doorway.

"Izumi!" an angelic voice called to Izumi.

Inko had sprinted into her daughter's room, having come to a rapid stop as she stood in Izumi's bedroom, panic etched onto her face.

"Oh thank god!" Inko cried as she spotted her daughter's small body peeking out from under the bed.

Inko's expression untensed for a moment as relief washed over her as their eyes met. Inko dropped a dented frying pan down from her shaky hands in favor of scooping up her terrified child.

"Come here, honey" she whispered, voice tinged with fear. Her eyes swept across the room and widened as the flames grew.

She pulled her daughter closer, pushing herself into a corner in which a wardrobe stood adjacent to the bed. Grabbing the small All Might themed blanket and wrapping it around her daughter, hoping to comfort her, if only a little bit.

"Mommy…!" Izumi wobbled, as she clutched tighter onto her mother.

The distant sound of a violent string of curses from down the hall alerted Inko of the danger that neared. The flames were burning hotter all around them, but miraculously ignored the small spot they occupied.

Inko's eyes shone with resolve. Without hesitation, she came out of her hiding spot and turned to the wardrobe. She pulled the door open before thrusting her only child into the confined space. She held the entry open for a moment, both mother and child looking into each other's eyes.

"Stay in here, Izumi. No matter what happens, you mustn't leave till I say so!" Her mother urged, tears glistening in her eyes with a sad but determined look on her face.

The sound of glass shattering from somewhere in the direction of the living room made both of them flinch.

"I promise I'll be back. Then we'll find someplace safe, just stay hidden until then. Alright?" Inko's voice was calm. She didn't want to scare her daughter any further, her little girl was already terrified as was.

Izumi nodded despite the tears running down her cheeks, a thin strand of snot trickled from her nose. She clutched the blanket tighter as fear gripped her heart. Why was this happening? Why was the world around her suddenly coming to a standstill?

"I know this is hard, but you must listen to me, understand?" Inko said, before taking a brief moment to pull her daughter into another unyielding hug. "Mommy needs you to be brave right now, alright? Just like All Might. You can do that for me, can't you?"

Izumi nodded again. In her naive mind, she believed that if she did as her mother said everything would be alright in the end. That is all Izumi cared for.

Inko pulled away with a great deal of reluctance, looking to Izumi's face with a strange mix of agony and grief and seemingly choosing her next words very carefully. "Count to thirty, and if I don't come back, then I want you to run like the wind, get out of the house, and never look back."

Izumi felt her world fall apart from underneath her tiny feet. The hastily shut wardrobe shrouded her in darkness, with only the subtle flicker of the flames seeping through the opening between the wardrobe's lids.

Izumi did as her mother told and started counting almost immediately, though her voice was shaking as the numbers left her throat.

"One… t-two…"

Izumi could hear her mother taking off from the room, running down the hall. A couple of shouts followed, the voices of her mother and strangers' mixing in the chaos of sound.

"Th-Thirteen….F-F-Fourteen," Izumi sobbed as the shouting began to change tone.

A bloodcurdling scream rocked Izumi to her core, then silence.

Little Izumi continued counting.


"Hey, kid!" a voice called to Izumi.

Struggling to open her eyes, Izumi wondered when exactly had she fallen asleep?

A stranger was shaking the greenette's shoulders frantically. The warmth of this person's hands was sending sparks throughout Izumi's small body as she felt the smallest bits of fleeting heat re-enter her body.

"Mo...m…?" Izumi rasped.

"Oh my god-... she's bleeding ...medics!...Rumi, get-... on…!"

Voices, one male and another female from what Izumi could tell, faded in and out of her earshot.

"Hey! Hey! Stay with us kid!" a new voice chided.

When she finally garnered enough strength to forcefully open her eyes, Izumi saw the most peculiar of sights. A bird? The person had wings from the looks of it. Was it a Quirk?

"I'm too young to be your mom, just stay awake, okay!?" the male huffed out. He whipped his head around and gave a shout to the odd rabbit-looking person behind him. "Hey, Rumi!"

The voices became warped and distorted, barely even registered by Izumi in her barely-conscious state as a pair of arms scooped her up, shielding her from the elements. Falling into the darkness frightened her, for all the darkness showed were the nightmares.

Waking up came slowly to her; having been the second time today for such a thing to occur from what she could remember. The first thing she felt was the soreness on her back. Her whole body ached, but it was her throat that hurt the most.

Distantly, she could hear a faint thrum in the air, like a thousand murmuring voices welcoming her home.

The light was blinding in her head.

A ghastly voice pierced the area around her, it sent an odd shiver up her bones. Instinct bid her to open her eyes.

Bright light flooded her sight. Its radiance seared the eyes and forced them closed once more. They were stinging in pain, and the bare skin of her arm could feel the wetness that covered her freckled cheeks. It was likely that she was crying in her sleep, it happened to her before.

"She's awake!" a voice suddenly cried. "Quick, someone go get one of the doctors! Hurry!"

Voices she did not recognize, and in fright, she clenched her eyes more tightly shut. A few precious seconds ticked by before she dared to chance a glance, peeking through the slightest opening of her eyelids and saw concerned faces peering down at her. The light was still blinding overhead as she closed her eyes in addition to other layers of shielding.

Izumi let out a pitiful groan. "Please…." she croaked, her voice weaker and raspier than ever. Her throat was tight and raw, likely from hours of crying. "Please…."

"It's okay," one of the nurses soothed. "You're safe now. The bad people are gone."

"No ...the light….off...too bright… " Izumi coughed.

The same nurse made a soft noise as she heard that.

A moment later, Izumi heard the rustle of clothing, followed shortly by the click of the light switch being turned off. Finally, Izumi removed her arm, squinting and blinking; allowing the last of her tears lingering at the tips of her lashes to fall. She warily took in the unfamiliar surroundings that she now found herself in.

" I...?" Izumi whimpered.

Izumi paused and frowned, flashes of her memory filtering through. Her throat was still unbearably dry and throbbing in pain. "Water…" she croaked.

"Right," another of the nurses squeaked, rushing to stand on the other side of Izumi with a pitcher in hand. The nurse carefully poured a cup of water and offered it to Izumi. The girl took the glass with a grateful look, gulping down as the water quenched her throat.

Once the glass was empty, Izumi heaved a sigh of relief, before offering the nurse a cursory glance. "Thank you."

Instead of offering a smile or responding, the nurse looked uneasy. There was a pity, an apprehensive look on the adult's face. "Are you feeling a little better now?" The nurse asked in a soft tone.

Before Izuku could answer, wanting to ask the whereabouts of her mother more than anything else. The door to the room clicked open-

A tall man with neatly parted gray hair stepping inside, his face lined with wrinkles, a sure sign that he was one of the older members on staff. His dark green eyes immediately swerved to meet Izumi's and she watched his lips set into a thin line.

Izumi quickly found that she hated that look, it gave her a creeping sense of dread settling in her gut.

"How is she doing?" The old man asked.

Before any of the nurses could respond Izumi plucked up whatever fleeting courage she had left in her and asked the question weighing heavily on her fragile mind, "w-where's...m-my mom…?

Silence filled the room. It left Izumi suddenly feeling suffocated to some extent, looking from face to face, for any sign that might instill her with hope. There was none.

It was one of the nurses, the same one who'd asked how she was feeling earlier, who decided to try and answer her question. A small part of Izumi wished she hadn't. She was very much preferring ignorance over the grim, harsh truth she got. "I'm...terribly sorry, but your mother is…" The rest of her words drifted in one ear and out the other, Izumi's mind coming to a screeching halt.

Izumi's body began to tremble. She gasped for air as her mind was assaulted with all these thoughts.

"She's hyperventilating!" one of the nurses cried in panic.

Izumi let out a pained filled scream, trying to shake the memories slowly caging her away, but the nurses stepped in; two restraining her arms, while the doctor rushed in with a syringe in his hand. Izumi could barely feel the sharp pain that pierced her forearm before darkness swallowed her whole once more.

When Keigo Takami, a hero student with the alias 'Hawks', agreed to come and hang out with his coworker/friend Rumi, a fellow hero student alias 'Mirko', he certainly had not expected the night to end with him sitting in an emergency room.

He barely heard the small, stifled whimpers of pain over the harsh wind roaring all around him before he had stepped closer to a dumpster in a back alley. To his horror, he found a small girl with freshly splattered blood dotting on her clothes, her hair covered with the same red blood. She laid near the dumpster, unconscious from the looks of it, and was barely alive. It was unnerving, to say the least, but he was mentally prepared for something like this.

Steering his resolve, he shouted for Rumi to call for help immediately. She, of course, went into a little panic mode the moment her eyes landed on the smaller girl curled up into a ball on the floor, but quickly calmed down and called an ambulance.

Keigo let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, before running his fingers through his hair in anxiety. His feet kept tapping, giving him something to concentrate on and pushed his worry about the little girl away. He was not prepared for something like this, especially on the off-duty. Still, as an aspiring Hero, his instinct quickly kicked in as soon as he saw the first speck of blood on the smaller child's body.

There were no adults nearby looking for their child from the looks of things, not even any indication of the possible villain or assailants that might have attacked her. What else could have left a mere child in that state? Perhaps the most worrisome of all, however, there was no clear indication where this child could have come from.

Keigo pushed the thoughts aside. There was nothing he could do at the moment. His heart clenched thinking back to those oval-shaped green eyes that pierced his soul. A sinking feeling settled in his stomach, a dread that only shook his heart further upon hearing a rise of panicked voices coming in and out of the patient's room that the girl was resting in.

He knew he would be staying here for the night.