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Drop the Gauntlet

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Story One

Izuku liked to think his notebooks were nothing of note to others. Outside when Kacchan would pull them from his hands and set them alight, no one seem so to even want a glance at his hard work. When they knew it was his at least...

Profiling was a harmless hobby as long as he stuck to the rules laid out by a sleep deprived middle schooler who had spent an entire Summer Break researching the laws and bylaws of information gathering in this Hero driven world.

One. Only make a profile about villains who have broken the law before without getting caught. He knew deep in his bones that Heroes were Human and that surely a few had gone dark without switching from the public favor... But there were surely secret departments in the government for drawing that information out. And as a child still learning the world, to take a Hero and try to smirch their reputation like that... It was too much power.

Two. Never sign his name. The desire for credit was squashed under the ghostly heel of the past experience he'd had trying to share his journals with anyone. Mom, bless her weak heart, had taken one look and cried. The rest scoffed and said he must have taken it from a hero analysis website. Which he would never, not only because the ones allowed to remain up were full of holes, but because this was his hobby! He created this! And without his name, people might believe the analysis. Even a little.

Three. Always do assigned homework first (which mostly led to him completing it in class). If his grades dropped any lower than they had from the regular days of sore arms unable to take notes (for those were the easy places for Kacchan to grab in his temper) he would never get to a good school. So he worked hard. He learned everything in the long hours of school all by himself, determined to have free time to learn even more about the villains that needed stopped.

Four. Format it in such a way it would never, ever be connection to quirkless middle-schooler Izuku's life- and after, One For All High-school Izuku's life. Which meant going to his mom's desktop that was connected to her business computer when she wasn't home and reading the jargon of legalities for hours until the formatting ran behind his eyelids as he slept. These profiles were laid out not unlike medical reports Inko would look over at the local hospital.

And then... And then, All Might happened.

"You can be a Hero!"

Anyone less stubborn than Izuku would have taken those words right there and cast his hobby into the abyss. A Hero! A quirk for him, fostered by his favorite hero and so many generations before! There was no need to worry about every villain running around while he was training physically to get into Hero school and working even harder to get his grades up to snuff. Right?


He studied weeks ahead for all his classes, freeing up those 8 precious hours to watch several live newsfeeds of villain attacks on his phone and scribble his findings in his notebook. The teachers ability to ignore anything involving Izuku works is his favor this time, and Kacchan doesn't notice anything amiss in his own need to get better scores than that Deku.

The Profiler gains notoriety slowly. The first time he hears that name, it doesn't connect. But it's said again and again over villain attacks that he sent in strategy for. Zapnap, Crowler, The Vibrato, Geyser, Fleetfoot- the list grows and grows and Izuku barely has time at the asscrack of dawn to muffle his wail into a pillow. Can't wake up mom, after all. But he doesn't stop sending them in either.

The hero community murmurs where civilians- and thus Izuku- can't hear about this Profiler. There are several suspects, some crossed off easier than others. Villains who look on the brink of swaying from one side of the law to the other. A Doctor fulfilling a childhood wish of saving people another way. Nedzu pulling a prank of his own devices to screw with them all. A Hero course student too worried about being reassigned to the Business department at one of the few Hero Schools near that area- which included of course UA itself.

Izuku has been having just terrible allergies recently. Sneezing every other minute some days! The pollen count says there's nothing he's allergic to in the air though...

He gets into UA by the bruised skin and broken bones of his own body. The extra hours training stops. He has leisure time now that he watches the evening news in and types up more profiles. There's no chance any of UA's teachers will ignore him having his phone out. Even if his class ranking is 4th in the class, and 9th in the First Year courses...

Life goes wildly off course. USJ, Sports Festival, talking to Todoroki and having to hold back because Rule One Says, Stain, Summer Camp, Kidnapping, All Might losing One For All, Hero License Exam-

And then there's his Internship with Sir Nighteye.

"Your previous work placement was with Gran Torino." Nighteye says it without giving Izuku a second glance. Fidgeting crooked fingers, he nods anyway. A sigh quietly leaves Sir's nose. "As impressive as Torino is in combat, he would never thing to teach the finer points of paperwork and accessing the Hero Network. Unless you are already familiar..."

"I have some experience with formal paperwork due to my mother's job and a police gag order after the Stain incident. Though I've never heard of a Hero Network?" Izuku admits with quiet curiosity.

"Gag order..." Sir Nighteye's hands fold together. "Hmm. The basic overview is that the best kept secret of the Hero sector is the Hero Network. A private version of the Internet that can only be accessed with a Hero License, provisional or full both being acceptable. Common uses are to request backup, scout potential partnerships for a case that will need other types of quirks to be successful, and for documenting mission reports that are not public access but can be reviewed by other heroes to share information about villains who may have escaped confinement. Other countries may have their own version but our licenses would not work with them without filing excessive request forms even for the few cases that are worth it."

Letting out a shaky breath, Izukus eyes glittered at this new information. A private internet for Heroes? Imagine all that was one there! No wonder it was kept such a secret- if you could access it with a provisional license, then villains could have immense motivation to send their children or even infiltrate the test themselves to get an entry point into the vast archive.

Deep desire cloyed the back of his tongue. All that important information reporters and shaky news footage just couldn't capture. And Sir was saying that with his license he could access it? His analysis could-

No. No, not yet at least. He would have the restraint to wait until after he was taught proper protocol for it. That was one thing Iida and Todoroki had reaffirmed for him on back at the hospital after the Stain attack and it had all come spilling out. He'd never meant to keep the fact he compiled information on villains such a tense secret from his few friends after all.

"Anonymous information about the villains, huh." Todoroki hummed as he leaned back into the hospital pillows. "I suppose my father did mention something like that once or twice. He sounded angry however so I stayed out of his way."

"It's a very chivalrous way of being an unofficial hero, but you are doing this legally right Midoriya?" Iida interjected, free arm chopping rapidly through the air. "Surely you don't want to further jeopardize your chance of becoming a Hero!"

"I spent all of a two week break researching the civilian law surrounding it before I sent my first one in." Izuku admits, a little fuzzy since a nurse had come by with a dose of painkiller. "'S not illegal to provide an anonymous tip about an already wanted villain. There are plenty of reasons why that law was there even before quirks, and that hasn't changed."

"Midoriya... We're not quite civilians anymore." Izuku felt himself wilt at the truth in what Iida said. They were at an odd point of the law- not Civilian anymore, but not full fledged Hero. Or even completely fledglings without a provisional license. The law could take whatever side would punish or reward them as it saw fit... Which made what that dog officer said somewhat full of holes. But still.

"Then what do I do? If I just stop sending the tips in regularly, they may get too curious about my identity. And since I kept sending them in after I started UA..." Iida's face crumpled. Todoroki tilted his head to the side, humming a brief acknowledgement.

"There's probably Hero law for it somewhere in the second year classes. Until you learn it, you can claim ignorance as a civilian as long as you use your regular methods. But you can't use anything from an exclusive to Hero source. Probably." Iida's face lit up at that.

"Yes! Especially since you were raised in a civilian household, there's no way you could have known about the law as it is only taught in Heroic or Law School level classes! And seeing as UA doesn't start those until second year you should be okay."

And that was that.

"Centipeder will show you how to use your access as well as guide you through the process of filing through past reports for information. Once you prove competent at this I will allow you out on patrol with a member of the agency." Sir glanced up to finally look Izuku in the eye. "Research is just as crucial as combat is for this field. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Sir." More than Sir could know.

Hero Network was somewhat like a VPN in practice. Izuku could even access it at his home computer provided he had installed the set browser and entered his identification and it closely guarded his connection to the servers. It was simply put magnificent to see. Except...

"Sir would like to see you compile information on three heroes you believe to be worth a second look." Centipeder was probably referring to in conjunction with Izuku's quirk but that kind of got lost in the excited jitter taking over Izuku's brain as the computer welcomed him to HN. "Please leave your neatly gathered information on his desk. If you have time afterwards, you should familiarize yourself with the filling system two doors down the hall. Here is the key, give it back to myself or Sir before you leave."

Centipeder wanders off to do other important hero work. Izuku is left along with the Hero Network, an analytic mind, and a keen eye for crime. He can't be blamed for scrolling through the most recent reports and finding all the signs of three corrupt Heroes along the way.

He should resist. This was exclusive hero information after all. But. But! He was just turning these in as Izuku to Sir Nighteye as proof he could use the Hero Network efficiently. The reports would be hand written. All he had to do was sign his name and use rushed handwriting to obscure the format he couldn't just get rid of when making a Profile. Nighteye would never think his newest intern was The Profiler and get him in trouble... Especially if the report was about Pro Heroes instead of Villains!

With all these excuses holding back the rules of his own making, Izuku got to work. A couple years practice had his work all done an hour early. Letting out a satisfied sigh, Izuku wobbled into Sir's office and plopped the stack of papers down in the middle of his desk. Sir was notably absent- perhaps in the bathroom, perhaps discussion the end of patrol with Mirio- so Izuku had no reason to stick around. Turning away with eyes still clouded by the visions of a bright new source of information, Izuku forgot a crucial detail of his plan.

To sign his name.

Osamu walks back into his office with Mirio trailing just behind and eyes the stack of papers that suddenly appeared on his desk. Winding around the desk to his chair takes little thought as he continues to keep an ear on Mirio. Picking up the papers he takes a casual glance and tunes his intern out completely by shock.

This is a Profile. A handwritten one, quite the rarity. A fake perhaps? But no... The writing style is completely to form even if the handwriting itself is a cramped mess. The only difference is these are about Heroes. Bonbonnie who he'd started to suspect of taking bribes is at the top of the stack, with Chameoflag under that for taking Underground Hero's villains and listing them as their own fights to gain more popularity, and...

Endeavor's was the thickest of them all. Flicking through the pages at his best attempt at speed reading only brought more concern- excessive property damage aside, there were mentions of bribes to officials Nighteye had never managed to confirm himself with his paying cases taking precedence, a bought quirk marriage, and physically abusive training with his... Four children? When had that man had four children.

It takes less than 30 seconds for him to ascertain all this. And suddenly the thought comes to him. This profile hadn't been here a minute ago when he'd left to collect Mirio. Chances were the deliver was still in the building. Looking back up at Mirio with steel eyes, Nighteye makes a decision.

"I'm locking down the building."

"Why?" Mirio asks, but stands up straight immediately anyway.

"The Profiler is here. These papers prove it."

Izuku hears the slam of metal doors and the automatic twist of every lock on the windows and doors even from the file closet. A terrible shiver crawls up his spine. He knows what he'd forgotten. There's a moment of stillness before the panic slams down through his head to the rest of his body like the tide.

"That's just Midoriya's handwriting Sir. You asked him to learn about navigating the Hero Network today didn't you?" Mirio chimes in after a brief look at the documents. "Granted these are pretty thick stacks of paper. Way bigger than mine were!"

"This format is identical," Sir insists as he fans the pages across his desk. "You're saying Midoriya has the knowledge to write not one but three lengthy Profiles with the same level of education that would be necessary for many to believe they've graduated Medical School? To get this much information in the matter of two hours?"

"Could've picked it up from his Mom seeing as she works at Musutafu General Hospital." Mirio shrugs. "As for how fast he was... I dunno! He's a big hero fan like you sir. He probably knew most of this prior."

"There is no way he had the records for proving half of this outside the Hero Network. Even then this would have taken far longer if he wasn't used to doing Profiles." Carding through the papers Nighteye points firmly at a new sheet in the middle. "See here? There are references to prove Chameoflag could not have been at the site of three different hero apprehensions in the dead of night within the the half hour period- none of which were told to Reporter's, merely filed for payment via brief reports on the HN."

"Sir you can't really believe Midoriya is the Profiler." Mirio's head shakes a slightly desperate denial. "He would have been so young! Middle-school young!"

Meanwhile the indistinct voices trail down the hallway to a petrified Izuku. His breath rattles through him even though it feels like he's getting no air at all. His hands feel so cold against his face. Trying to breathe in time does nothing as he's lost all sense of it to the yawning void underneath him. Sir Nighteye already had no reason to like Izuku from the start and now he has what might as well be a written confession to using the Hero Network to profile Heroes with ill intent.

He got so excited he forgot why the rules kept him safe.

Knees bending under his own weight, Izuku finds his back against the cool metal of a filing cabinet. It only makes him feel worse. The door to the closet opens and something hysterical in Izuku wants to laugh with what little breath he has left. His eyes vaguely register green-yellow hair and curls inward even further.

Someone shorter with bright yellow hair pushes their way in front of Sir. Mirio?

"Midoriya, can you hear me?" Izuku shakily inhales and nods a little too fast. Wooziness clouds his vision further. "Good. Well, better than it could be at least! I believe you're having a panic attack." Izuku's breath hitches even worse and Mirio lets out a soothing murmur. "Not to worry, Tamaki has them often as well so I know how to help. Do you need my help regulating your breathing?"

"Y-yes," Izuku chokes out, not willing to nod his head in affirmative after the wooziness.

"Alright. I'm going to put your hand on my chest, and my hand on yours. Okay?" He's never heard of that type of help before. Usually mom would count out the numbers in a quiet voice. Does this work..?

"Ok-okay?" Trembles out of his mouth. A large warm hand settles diagonally across where his heart should be. The other guides ones of Izuku's trembling palms over his own to the smooth rise and fall of calm breathing. The chill in his veins thaws slowly inwards. His lungs match Mirio's before he even notices it and his vision swims back in just in time to catch the flicker of concern on Mirio's face as he breaths a final shaking sigh.

"Did that help?"

"Yes." Izuku nods once, just to make sure it doesn't come back. He takes his hands back reluctantly and Mirio slides the hand up to Izuku's shoulder in friendly concern. What had Tamaki called Mirio? The Sun? It seemed so apt right now with how warm he felt. "I'm sorry sempai, I don't know what came over me-"

"Don't you." Izuku felt his spine go ramrod straight and saw Mirio's comforting smile gain an edge as he looked back at Sir Nighteye. Sir took a long pause as he looked only at Izuku. "You're not in trouble yet, Midoriya. For all the curiosity the Profiler has provoked in the hero community you have yet to put a foot wrong legally. The heroes you have given me profiles on however need to be... discussed."