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Erased Potential

Chapter Text

Aizawa Shouta valued his privacy above almost everything. As a consequence, he also valued his role as a low-profile hero. Sure, heroes like All Might inspired people in droves, but Aizawa never felt comfortable in that kind of position. He would much rather stay in the peripherals, help people without really being noticed, and then move on with no one the wiser. His quirk relied on his ability to go unnoticed. It was something he was good at. Which is why this latest turn of events was throwing him for quite the loop.

Nothing had seemed out of the ordinary when he left Yuuei’s campus. A few brave students waved good-bye. Aizawa had nodded in response and continued on his way. No one had been there when he left through the back gates, and he had walked quickly to the train station for a jump farther into town. Maybe that was where he had picked them up? Although he felt sure he would have remembered seeing them, that hair color was distinctive for all that the rest of him wasn’t. The fact that he wasn’t sure unsettled him. After exiting his train there was only another short walk to his apartment complex, up a few flights of stairs, and down the hall to his door. Of course, it would have been a short walk if he didn’t have to take round-about paths to trip up any followers. Privacy and all that. He was sure his little stalker hadn’t gotten his room number from any of the building’s staff. He had chosen the place specifically for their ability to keep their mouths shut and their noses out of other people’s business. Which means that he had to have been followed, either from the school or from the station.

He had just put his bag of papers to grade down on the table and moved to throw himself near the closet comfortable surface for a quick nap when there was a soft hesitant knock at the door. Aizawa stopped, one of his cats coming to twine its way around his legs, but he didn’t make to open the door. He hadn’t been expecting guests, and anyone who knew the location of his apartment knew him well enough to know that he didn’t appreciate unannounced guests. The knock came again, a little louder this time but just as hesitant.

Marlo looked up at him, tilting his head. Are you going to answer that? He seemed to ask, and then decided to make the decision for him by darting to the door and dragging his nails down the polished wood. With a heavy sigh, Aizawa moved his cat out of the way and opened the door. “Whatever you want, you have the wrong-” His voice cut off as he realized who was standing at the doorway.

A kid-probably no older than a second year in middle school-stood in front of him, looking up at Aizawa nervously. His green hair stood out in uncontrolled curls, freckles decorating the bridge of his nose. Everything about him from his appearance to the clothes he wore seemed ordinary. Plain. Average. Aizawa probably wouldn’t have noticed him standing in a crowd, but with only a foot separating them in his apartment corridor, the look in the boy’s eyes was unmistakable. Aizawa saw that same look in his students’ faces every day.

“Um.. Er...Eraserhead-san” The boy stammered. Aizawa’s eyes narrowed, watching his movements. This boy knew who he was. Not only that, but he knew about his apartment. Knew where to find him. Who was he?

“I think you’re mistaken. Go home, kid.” Aizawa could be intimidating to even some of the pro heroes, and from the boy’s anxious demeanor he expected him to be no exception. He made to close the door again only to have a foot stuck hastily in the way. “Kid. I mean it.”

The boy looked up to him, meeting his gaze with a steely determination that didn’t match the nervous edge to his voice. “I know you’re Eraserhead. I’ve spent weeks tracking you down.” It was clear the kid wasn’t leaving so, after a quick glance down the hallway to make sure they weren’t overheard and another heavy sigh, Aizawa gestured for the boy to enter. The smile that lit up his face at not being turned away was almost too much.

“Your name.” Aizawa grunted, leading him to the living room. His nap may have been interrupted, but he wasn’t going to stand around while they talked. Marlo jumped into the boy’s lap as soon as he sat. Damn cat.

“Mi-Midoriya Izuku.” His name was as plain as his appearance.

“Well, get on with it.” Aizawa leaned back in his airchair, keeping his eyes on the boy, Midoriya Izuku. He didn’t get the impression that the kid was there to harm him, but one could never be too careful.

“Right. The reason I came here is..” Midoriya paused, brushing a hand along the cat’s back. “I’ve wanted to be a hero for as long as I can remember-”

“I have nothing to do with admissions to Yuuei, kid.” Aizawa cut him off. Maybe this wasn’t going to be worth his time after all. “You want help getting in, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

Midoriya looked insulted at the insinuation, but he continued without comment. “I’ve wanted to be a hero for as long as I can remember, but I’m quirkless.”

Well. That had been unexpected. Aizawa raised an eyebrow. “And this has to do with you just showing up at my apartment because…”
“Because I want to be a hero even though I’m quirkless. And I thought that you would be the person to talk to.” Midoriya continued to pet Marlo, but the look he set on Aizawa was hard.

“I have a quirk.” He said.

“Yes, but erasing other people’s quirk doesn’t completely stop them. It’s not like a physically manifested quirk that can be used for offense and defense. I’ve watch videos of your fights, the few of them that exist. You nullify people’s quirks with your own, but everything else? The way you fight them? That’s something that you had to learn. Something that you need in addition to your quirk, right? So you could technically say you fight them quirkless.”

Midoriya had obviously put a lot of thought into this. Analyzing his approach, finding his apartment. Aizawa would almost be impressed with him if he wasn’t getting the feeling this whole conversation was going to give him a long term headache. “That would be correct, I suppose.”

The boy’s smile got even brighter and god was he taking lessons from All Might because only the number one hero had a smile that hopeful. “Looking at it that way, it should be possible for me to still be a hero even without a quirk. I may not be able to erase people’s quirks in the same way you can, but something I’m really good at is analyzing them. Breaking them down and understanding them.” Midoriya reached into his backpack and spread ten well worn notebooks across Aizawa’s coffee table, flipping one of them open so that Aizawa could see the notes that he had written. Even from a glance, he could tell they were well done. “If i can nullify people’s quirks by figuring out how to counter them, then I can still be a hero right? All I need to do is get better at analyzing. And learn to fight. And that’s where I thought you came in.”

“You want me to train you?” His blunt words and flat tone caused Midoriya to flinch slightly, but he didn’t break eye contact and for that Aizawa was a little grateful. It made his decision easier.

Midoriya fidgeted in his seat, Marlo pressing a paw against his hands to get him to stop moving. His words didn’t betray his nerves though. “Yes. I want you to train me. I found you, after all. You can’t say my potential is zero.”

Aizawa stared at the boy, too young to know what he was really asking, for a long time without speaking. Midoriya squirmed in his spot again, but he still didn’t look away from the intensity of the hero’s gaze. “It’s not going to be as easy as you think. You have a huge disadvantage you have to make up for, whether it’s your fault or not.” Midoriya started nodding excitedly. Aizawa continued before he could interrupt. “This will not be pleasant. It will not be fun. If I at any point decide you can’t handle it, we stop and you don’t bother me about it again. I don’t make a habit of sending kids into danger I know they can’t be prepared for. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Eraserhead-san! Understood!” Midoriya bowed low from his seat, and Marlo meowed loudly in protest before hopping down and running out of the room.

“And Midoriya?”


“My name is Aizawa. Use it.”

“Yes! Aizawa-sensei!”

Aizawa sighed again. A very long headache indeed.

Chapter Text

Aizawa sat in his living room long after Midoriya Izuku had left. Midoriya knew how to make an impression, he would give him that. There was no better way of grabbing his attention than proving to him that his privacy wasn’t as absolute as he liked to think. From a quick glance through the notebooks he asked Midoriya to leave behind, he could tell that the kid had a talent for observation. The drawings, while not the most artistic, were clear. And his analysis of their quirks? Midoriya could have only seen glimpses of fights in person or short, repeated clips that aired on the news, but his explanations of their quirks were concise and, as far as Aizawa could tell, accurate. If that skill was developed… Even if he didn’t make it as a pro hero himself, he could be of a lot of help.

There had never been a quirkless student accepted into Yuuei before. Not in the Gen Ed course, and definitely not in the hero course. But that didn’t mean there never could be. Could Midoriya be the first? Aizawa didn’t know, but he couldn’t write him off yet. He had had a good point about Aizawa’s own quirk, after all. Blocking people’s ability to use their quirks really only put Aizawa and his opponent on an even playing field. Without their quirk, people had to rely on whatever other training they may have had. But that only worked with people whose quirks didn’t manifest in some kind of physical change. Most people didn’t put much effort into learning how to fight without their quirks, and that put Aizawa at a clear advantage. But quirks that developed as extra arms, horns, things like that? Aizawa could admit that he did essentially fight quirkless, for all the good his quirk did him.

And Midoriya had figured that out. Midoriya had watched the very few videos that existed of Aizawa fighting, put together how he used his quirk, realized how Aizawa could help him, and somehow tracked him down to his apartment-an apartment that only the staff at Yuuei knew he had. Not zero potential indeed. Aizawa needed to speak to Midoriya’s mother and soon. He had been right about the boy’s age. Just starting his second year of middle school. That meant he had two years to get Midoriya where he needed to be if he was serious about being a hero. For such an unorthodox method of fighting the kid needed to be at Yuuei where Aizawa could continue to keep an eye on him, where the teachers were skilled enough to give him his best chance. But none of that mattered if Midoriya’s mother didn’t give her okay. Aizawa wasn’t about to go and train a kid, someone who wasn’t even technically his student, without their guardian’s okay. Parents who sent their kids to Yuuei knew the risks that came along with being a hero, knew somewhat what they were getting themselves and their children into. Aizawa would afford Midoriya Inko the same respect. If she said yes, Aizawa would take on his little headache of a student. It might even be worth it in the end. Marlo mewed his agreement, ducking his chin under Aizawa’s as the hero pulled out his phone and texted Midoriya his request.



He couldn’t believe it. During the weeks it had taken him to track Aizawa Shouta down, Izuku had refused to allow himself to hope. Yes, it would be amazing if the hero agreed to train him, but how likely was that to happen? He had been told for years that he couldn’t be a hero because he lacked a quirk. Been laughed at and ridicule every single time he talked about his dream. Nothing was different this time, and knowing that nothing would probably come from it, Izuku had still spent every free moment figuring out where the elusive pro hero lived. Even if Aizawa slammed the door in his face, Izuku needed to prove to himself that he could do it. That all the time he had put into gathering information on heroes and their quirks hadn’t gone to waste. And then the impossible had happened. Aizawa agreed to help him.

As long as he got his mother’s permission first.

Izuku didn’t know which conversation he had been more nervous about. He would almost rather face Eraserhead’s glare again than tell his mother what he had been up to. But he felt that that was almost the point. He had agreed to do what Aizawa said, and Aizawa wanted to meet his mother. If Izuku couldn’t fulfill this simple request, how could Aizawa trust him in the future? So he had gathered his courage, sat his mom down, and told her what he had done. She had cried at first, both proud of him for continuing to chase his dream and angry at him for doing something like that without talking to her about it. Once she had stopped crying, Inko had pulled him into a tight hug and didn’t let go. Ultimately she had agreed to meet with Aizawa though, and that was how Izuku found himself sitting next to his mother, Aizawa sitting across from them in the small living room of their apartment.

Izuku fidgeted in his seat as Aizawa stared at him. Was he expecting Izuku to speak first? What was he even supposed to say in this situation? Yes, this is the hero I basically stalked for over a month so I could find out where he lived? Introductions had happened as soon as the pro hero arrived, Izuku hovering nervously as his mother had taken in Aizawa’s grungy looking clothes, his long hair in disarray, the scarf wrapped multiple times around his neck, before she had smiled widely and thanked him for coming with a small bow. At Inko’s suggestion they had then moved to the living room where they could sit and talk more comfortably, but they had been sitting for almost five minutes without a single word. Both Izuku and his mother were nervous people by nature, but she didn’t seem bothered by the silence like she normally would, taking the opportunity to look over the man who had agreed to train her son, leaving only Izuku to sit uncomfortably as the silence wore on.

“I’ll cut straight to it.” Aizawa said, his expression giving nothing away. “Your son has potential, even without a quirk. But I won’t train him unless you give your approval.”

“Y-You think he can be a hero?” Inko asked, wringing her hands. “You aren’t just saying this because he asked?” Izuku wanted to protest, but he held back. His mother wasn’t trying to hurt him. He knew that. She worried that he would get himself in over his head, that it would be too dangerous. He didn’t blame her for being concerned. Her lack of faith, like always, still hurt though.

“Like I told him, I don’t make it a habit of dragging kids into situations they can’t handle. He has potential. As for whether he can be a hero? That’s up to him. And things outside of his control.” Aizawa answered honestly. “He has a talent for observation. Picking apart the quirks of others to know their weaknesses. If he can get into Yuuei, that’s his best shot at making this work.”

Inko’s face turned serious. “And you can help him get in?”

“I won’t pull any strings at the school, if that’s what you’re asking. But I can make sure he’s prepared for the exam. Trained for the kind of situations he would face if he got accepted.” Then he turned to Izuku. “I don’t believe in lying to my students. This is going to be the hardest thing you have ever done. No one without a quirk has been accepted to Yuuei before. You would be the first. A lot of people are going to make assumptions about you. Judge you. Can you handle that?”

Could he handle being judged for being quirkless. Izuku would have laughed if he knew how Aizawa would react. “I’m already judged for that, Aizawa-sensei. I don’t let it define me anymore.”

Something shifted in Aizawa’s eyes that Izuku couldn’t read before it was gone, his face expressionless once again. “Here are the terms. I have a gym I train at in my time off. We will meet there twice a week to start. You will tell no one where it’s located. In addition to those face to face sessions I will give you a training menu to follow. You will not deviate from this menu, is that understood?” He waited for Izuku to nod before he continued. “I will make sure it’s at the appropriate difficulty. I also want a weekly update on your grades and schoolwork. If your grades drop, we’re done.” Inko sat up straighter at that condition, looking at Aizawa approvingly. “You seem to me like someone with an obsessive nature, but all this training won’t do you any good if you can’t pass the Yuuei entrance exam. Your schoolwork is important too, so don’t ignore it. You fail to follow my instructions or give me reason to think you aren’t taking this seriously, and we’re done. Does that sound reasonable to you, Midoriya-san?”

“It sounds great to me.”

“Thank you, Aizawa-san. I won’t let you down!”

Aizawa took in the determined look in Izuku’s face, the eagerness in his voice. “You better not.” He said, not unkindly. “I don’t waste my time.”

It took a moment for the complement to register, but when it did Izuku’s smile grew even wider.


People were often shocked to discover that Aizawa actually enjoyed teaching for the same reasons they found it difficult to understand his relationship with Hizashi. Aizawa appreciated his privacy, his solitude. He had a dry sense of humor that tended to go misunderstood, and he generally seemed disinterested in the politics of the pro hero community. But Aizawa loved teaching. He felt that it wasn’t even too much of an exaggeration to say that he was good at it. Maybe that was why he was so frustrated with himself over what to do about Midoriya Izuku.

Midoriya Inko had agreed to let Aizawa train her son, and so Aizawa wouldn’t hold back. He couldn’t. Not if he wanted Midoriya to be ready for the entrance exam in time. An entrance exam that would require him to fight giant robots without a quirk. This was exactly why Aizawa had tried to tell them the exam needed to change. Sure, it was a fine way to test the strengths of students whose quirks manifested in some physical way, but for those that whose quirks didn’t? There was almost no way they could pass that test without prior knowledge and training. Training that Yuuei itself was supposed to provide. His own journey to the hero course had been longer than it needed to be because of that oversight. How many potential heroes were turned away because of an ill designed test? Aizawa would continue to advocate for changing it, but he had been outnumbered in that argument so far. There was no guarantee it would change before Midoriya took the test in two years. He would have to fight those robots on his own, and given his age and the fact that he wasn’t a Yuuei student, Aizawa’s normal methods weren’t available. He would have to improvise, find some other way to push his student to his limits. And who knew, he might not even be working with Midoriya anymore by the time that exam rolled around.

Aizawa’s phone vibrated in his pocket, the sensors alerting him that someone had crossed onto the property of the warehouse he used as his gym. A few minutes later the door slid open, the grating sound of metal on metal echoing in the open space.

“Aizawa-sensei?” Now that Midoriya had gotten Aizawa to agree, it seemed that he had remembered he was supposed to be intimidated by the hero. Aizawa could see him shaking from across the room.

“Over here, Midoriya,” Aizawa sighed. While he couldn’t say that such a reaction from his students was uncommon, he had thought that given the way Midoriya had shown up at his apartment, had invited him over to speak to his mother, that they would be able to skip this part.

Midoriya made his way to where Aizawa stood in front of a series of padded mats laid out on the floor, a stiffness in his movements that didn’t bode well for their training session. “IamsogladyoumessagedmeaboutmeetinghereyesterdaybecauseIhadstartedtogetconcernedthatyouhadchangedyourmindand-” His words ran together as he spoke, his voice barely louder than a mumble.

“Was there an actual sentence in there somewhere?”

“I-” Midoriya stopped and then, with what looked like a conscious effort to speak clearly, said again. “I’m so glad you messaged me about meeting today. I was worried you had changed your mind.”

“I’ll work with you until you show me there’s no point. Continue to give your best efforts, and that shouldn’t be a problem.” Midoriya nodded so quickly, Aizawa thought he might hurt himself and gestured for him to join him on the mats. “Now calm down. We don’t have a lot of time, and you aren’t going to learn anything if you are so worked up you can’t even walk normally.

Once again, it took Midoriya a moment to settle himself, but he took a deep breath, that determined look returning to his eyes, and moved to stand across from Aizawa. “Before we do anything,” Aizawa said slowly, “I need to know what kind of experience you have. I’ve been through your notes. You’ve clearly improved in you analysis as time has passed, but there are still a lot we can work on in that regards.”

Midoriya’s answering nod was more controlled this time. Now that the lesson had started his restless energy seemed to have shifted from nervous to excited. Aizawa would have to remember that for their future lessons.

“How much experience do you have in actual fighting?” They would start at square one anyway, but Aizawa needed to know how many bad habits he was going to have to spend time breaking. He tugged at the scarf wrapped around his neck absentmindedly. Something else to think about as well.

“Ummm. Not a lot?” For someone who seemed to understand the value of information, Midoriya wasn’t giving him much to work with.

“Kid. Do you know how to take a punch?”

“...I’ve been punched a lot. Is that the same thing?” The innocence and seriousness of that question. What had Aizawa gotten himself into.

“No. No, that’s not the same thing. Why?” From what he could tell Midoriya wasn’t the type to pick a fight. If something had happened he wasn’t the one to instigate it. Aizawa had a feeling he knew, unfortunately, but he wanted to see if Midoriya would tell him. When the boy shrugged in response, Aizawa dropped it. He would do something about that if it continued to be a problem, but for now he would have to trust Midoriya to let him know if it continued to be a problem.

Izuku was just coming to terms with the fact that training with Aizawa was going to mean a lot of silent pauses when the hero launched himself at him. Flinching back, Izuku almost lost his balance and flailed to stay upright, but the hit never came. When he opened his eyes, Aizawa’s hand was a few inches from his face.

“Flinching like that is a natural reaction for a reason.” Aizawa said when Izuku turned his attention back on the hero’s face. “It’s generally a helpful response when something is flying at your face, but for seeing what’s going on? Focusing on what you need to do next? Not so much. That’s what we’re going to work on first. Now, four times around this room is a mile. Run six miles. Then we’ll get started.”


Izuku had died, or at least, what he felt now was how he imagined dying felt like. His mother had taken one look at him when he got back to the apartment after his first training session with Aizawa and told him to go take a bath while she finished his dinner. All Izuku wanted to do though was sleep, but Aizawa’s instructions included a strict order not to skip meals. He knew it was going to be difficult. He had heard the rumors about Aizawa from some of his Yuuei students while he was tracking down the hero’s apartment. There’s a difference in hearing about what a tough teacher he is though, and actually living it. The rumors didn’t do him justice. After running six miles, Izuku already felt like he was going to collapse, but Aizawa was just getting started. He had Izuku go through all of the normal P.E fitness tests, Aizawa taking careful notes of his results the whole time. Then they had moved back to the mats where he then walked Izuku the correct way to throw a punch. Once Izuku had that down Aizawa had told him to try to hit him, and that was where the real training began. Everything hurt, and Izuku knew he would be sore in the morning when he got up to run before classes.

He had done it though, and Aizawa had scheduled their next session, meaning Izuku couldn’t have disappointed him too badly. For the first time, Izuku felt like he actually had a chance. He could be a hero, quirkless or not. And it was all thanks to Aizawa Shouta.

Chapter Text

There were a lot of things about Midoriya Izuku that pissed Bakugou off. He hated the earnest look on his face. The way he always seemed to be there to witness Bakugou’s weakest moments with a smile and a helping hand. How he had clung to his dream of being a hero after he should have come to terms with the fact that he was quirkless years ago. In all honesty, Bakugou didn’t need to have a reason to be pissed at Deku, but he liked to have one anyway. And today that reason was dumbass Deku’s bag.

Since their first year in middle school Deku had always carried the same stupid bag, the red, blue, and yellow of All Might’s color scheme clear from where Bakugou sat across the room. It had been a limited release-Bakugou knew because he had tried and failed to get one when they came out- and the hero obsessed loser had used it every day, mocking Bakugou with his failure whether he was aware of it or not.

But that wasn’t the bag he carried anymore.

His new bag, black with a white stripe along the bottom and a pair of what looked like yellow goggles in the middle, looked familiar. It had to be related to some pro hero, but Bakugou couldn’t place which one. That fact added to his already simmering anger, but if it had been just the bag Bakugou might have been able to ignore it. Something had changed about Deku in the last few weeks though, and whatever it was Bakugou didn’t like it.

The dumbass had always been upfront about his intentions to still try to be a pro hero, despite how useless he would be without a quirk. It got him a lot of flack from teachers and students alike, but he had always reacted to it with a wobbly smile and meek protest. Deku would shift uncomfortable at the attention, mumble something about there being nothing stopping him from trying, and wait until whoever was confronting him grew bored and moved on. Even in the face of Bakugou’s own abuse Deku never really fought back, letting Bakugou and his friends push him around. That pissed him off too, the way Deku never stood up for himself. He could hold onto his dream in the face of everything telling him to give it up, but he wouldn’t stop people from pushing him around.

Until whatever happened that made him change his bag. Bakugou had no proof the two things were linked, but he knew that they were, and it was all because their teacher brought up high school applications.

“I know that you all are only second years,” Yoshida-sensei said, standing at the front of the room, “but that doesn’t mean that you can put off thinking about high school until next year. You need to have your top choices narrowed down by the end of this year so that you can spend next year studying for your entrance exams and preparing your applications.”

After taking a look around the room at all of the student ignoring him, Yoshida-sensei sighed. “You need to take this seriously. The high school you attend will have an enormous effect on your potential job prospects post graduation. Especially those of you who are planning on trying to become pro heroes. Don’t cut yourself off from opportunities because you wasted time and didn’t prepare. Now I want all of you to stand up and tell me which school would be your top choice if you had to decide today. Let’s start with you, Miyamoto, and go in order.”

This was a stupid exercise, Bakugou thought, ignoring his classmates as they started to list off their top schools. Whatever schools they chose, it didn’t matter to him. Bakugou knew where he was going, had known where he was going since his quirk manifested. He would be the only person from this crummy old school and-

“I am going to be in Yuuei Academy’s Hero Course.”

Bakugou had to have heard wrong. He was the only person who would be going to Yuuei. The only person who could. And those words sure as fuck hadn’t come from him. A mop of curly green hair stood a few desks away from him, his back straight as he looked at Yoshida-sensei. “Deku,” Bakugou growled, and he watched as Midoriya tensed at the sound of his voice but didn’t turn around. Laughter and whispers broke out around the room as Yoshida chuckled nervously.

“I know that I said your top school, Midoriya, but by that I meant a school you could feasibly be accepted into. Yuuei is the most competitive hero school in the country and well.. Midoriya you don’t have a quirk. It would be impossible for you to be accepted at all, let alone for the hero course.” Laughter filled the classroom once more.

Bakugou could see the stress in Deku’s shoulders, the way he shook as the class laughed around him, but he didn’t sit down. He didn’t fold in on himself like he always had before, but continued to stare straight ahead, his face adopting an emotionless expression that didn’t seem to fit Deku’s normal nervous energy. Bakugou’s eyes narrowed.

“This is why I wanted us to have this discussion,” Yoshida made a sweeping gesture at Deku. “You need to know, given your grades and what profession you want to be in, which schools are most appropriate. Having dreams is fine, but when it comes to your education you need to be more realistic. Choose another school, Midoriya. You have great grades. You’re intelligent, but that isn’t enough to get into Yuuei. It isn’t enough to be a hero. It’s unfortunate, but as your teacher I need to make sure you are prepared for your future and-”

“It isn’t impossible,” Deku said, loud and clear for the entire class to hear him.

“I- What?” Yoshida looked stunned. Midoriya Izuku had interrupted a teacher, and the entire class was frozen.
Bakugou leaned forward in his seat, eyes trained on his old friend. Deku hadn’t stuttered. He hadn’t mumbled. He just stared at Yoshida with that blank look that seemed so out of place, his emotions hidden behind a wall that even Bakugou couldn’t see through despite how well he knew him.

“I said that it isn’t impossible. You are right that there has never been a student without a quirk accepted to Yuuei before, but just because there isn’t a precedent for it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. There is no rule that says a quirk is a prerequisite for admission, meaning that I have just as much of a chance of getting in as any other person who applies. To be accepted you have to pass the exam. I can pass the exam without a quirk.”

“Midoriya there may not be a rule against taking the exam without a quirk, but that does not mean you have the same chance of getting in. Please be reasonable. This is your future we are talking about.” Yoshida pleaded, still too caught off guard by being interrupted to punish him for speaking out of turn.

“My future is at Yuuei.” Deku responded calmly and sat.

The class erupted.

What the- What the actual fuck? Bakugou shut out the chaos around him. He didn’t need to listen to know that Yoshida wasn’t regaining control of the class anytime soon after that, and honestly he didn’t care. Because where the hell had that come from? Deku had never given up on being a hero over the years-that had always been true- but that composed, collected attitude? He had interrupted a teacher, a teacher who had already shut Deku down about being a hero multiple times in the short period they had been in his homeroom, and he did it without fidgeting or mumbling or stuttering.

Small explosions burst from his hands, but Yoshida was still too preoccupied getting the class in order to pay him any attention. Not that Bakugou would have listened if he had because that fucking idiot Deku was trying to take his chance away from him, Bakugou was supposed to be the only student from their school trying for Yuuei. Bakugou was supposed to be the only one to have a chance at being a pro hero, and quirkless Deku not only still believed that he could be a hero, but he thought he could get in Yuuei as he was? Only the best of the best got into Yuuei, and that meant Bakugou and Bakugou only.

No. Something was definitely wrong with Deku, and Bakugou would get to the bottom of it eventually.

When Izuku sat back down it felt like his brain had short circuited. He couldn’t believe he had just done that, but he also couldn’t bring himself to feel bad about it either. Izuku had listened to people tell him for years that what he wanted was pointless, that there was no possible way he could ever live up to his dreams. He had tried to ignore them, to focus only on why he wanted to be a hero, but over the years their words had slipped through the cracks in the walls he tried to build around his resolve, resurfacing every time he started to doubt himself, whispering all the reasons he would fail. No one had ever told him he could be a hero.

No one until Aizawa.

Aizawa believed that he could make it into Yuuei without a quirk, believed it enough that he had agreed to train him, and if Aizawa believed in him then Izuku could believe in himself just a little more. Doubt would linger, of course it would, until Yuuei officially accepted him. But Izuku had told Aizawa that he didn’t let being quirkless define him, and he refused to make himself a liar by letting Yoshida tell him to give up without even trying. Izuku would get a lot of criticism for being a quirkless student at Yuuei. Aizawa had warned him. So maybe now was the time to start figuring out how to take it.

He could feel Kacchan staring at him the rest of class, but he didn’t turn around. The moment class ended he grabbed his bag and was out the door. He had stood up to one person today. Kacchan could wait.

When he got back to his apartment his mother greeted him from the kitchen. “I’ll bring you a snack in just a few minutes! Do you have a lot of work to do today, Izuku?”

“Just some stuff for Aizawa-sensei before our session tomorrow,” he answered. “He gave me a few more profiles he wanted me to look over.”

Barely two weeks had passed since he had started training with Aizawa, but Izuku could already tell that tracking down the elusive hero had been the best decision of his life. They had only met four times for three hours each session, but on days they weren’t meeting Izuku followed Aizawa’s instructions to the letter. The tasks outlined for him to complete alternated between physical and mental exercises and all of them were designed to push him to his limits. He felt exhausted, collapsing into bed the moment he finished each night, but he could tell that he had improved, the challenges getting just a little bit less challenging each day.

He had always wondered what made Yuuei the best, why it consistently had the most graduates become pro heroes. Other schools had pro heroes as teachers too, after all. Two weeks with Aizawa had answered that question. If Yuuei students had an entire staff of teachers like Aizawa, teachers who seemed to know exactly how to pull the best out of each student, how to push them without breaking them, it was clear why they always came out on top. It made Izuku excited to think about where he would be when it came time to take the entrance exam.

Keeping in mind they had an actual training session the next day, Izuku’s work for the day had been light- a six mile run before school and a mental exercise to do after. On the days he had a break from physical training Izuku always did the same thing. Aizawa would send him short descriptions of quirks current students at Yuuei possessed, making sure not to include any names. This list would usually include fifteen to twenty quirks, with the amount of information given varying from quirk to quirk. Izuku would read each description and then have thirty seconds to record himself saying everything he could about the potential strengths and weaknesses of that individual quirk.

“When you are confronting a villain” Aizawa had explained the first time he had given Izuku the assignment. “You aren’t going to have endless amounts of time to make your observations. You need to work on processing a lot more information a lot faster, learning what information is important and what you can ignore. The less time you have to spend figuring out their quirk, the sooner you can find a way to stop them. Your goal needs to be to find their weakness and exploit it before they even know you’re there.”

Making voice recordings of his observations also meant that he couldn’t go back and fix his mistakes because “You need to learn how to make them and move on from them. Mistakes happen, but it’s your reaction to them that’s going to make things easier or harder in the long run.” The first night had been a disaster. He’d stumbled over his words, mumbled a little too quietly for the mic to pick up, and at one point completely forgot how to speak he was so nervous.

Like with the physical training though, the recordings got easier. He still ran out of time before making all of the connections he needed to, but Aizawa hadn’t seemed disappointed in his progress. Izuku found some reassurance in that, and each night he went back over the profiles adding all of the information to his journals, making note of what was essential and what he could have left out. He had never thought to time himself before, never had access to so many different quirks. All in all it was the perfect training for him. Tomorrow though, he would be starting something new.

Aizawa had been shifting his training just enough as time passed to keep him from becoming too comfortable, and he had finally deemed Izuku good enough at the most basic hand to hand fighting to add something else to his menu. Tomorrow they were going to talk about what Izuku could add to his arsenal to help even the odds when it came to fighting without a quirk. While Izuku had been right about Aizawa basically fighting quirkless, it was because of his quirk that he and his opponent were put on a more even playing field. Izuku couldn’t nullify other people’s quirks, so he needed another skill to be able to compensate.

He knew he should be nervous, but he felt too excited. Izuku trusted Aizawa, but the pro hero had made it clear that he would only teach him as long as he continued to prove that he had potential. Every new task, every new skill. They were all tests. Pass and the training continued. Fail and Aizawa might decide that Izuku wasn’t worth his time anymore. Izuku didn’t want to think about what would happen then, so he pushed the thought firmly out of mind.

There were a lot of things about Midoriya Izuku that Aizawa didn’t understand. When he first agreed to train the kid he knew he would be an interesting student. He couldn’t be anything other than interesting after that kind of introduction. He knew he was dedicated, determined, that he had initiative, but Aizawa hadn’t been sure how all of this training would pan out. Determination can only get you so far, after all.

It would be nice if determination and hard work were all it took to be a pro hero. If that were the case then every graduate from Yuuei would be successful, but unfortunately that wasn’t how it worked. Somethings, maybe most things that were lofty enough goals to be considered dreams, required a little something extra. An innate talent that can’t be taught, a drive that exceeds simple determination. The kind of thing that you either have or you don’t, and no amount of work can make up for it.

Aizawa hadn’t know Midoriya long, and already the kid was giving him pause. It was too early to tell, he had only just started, but with each passing day Aizawa felt an instinct he had grown to trust over the years telling him that Midoriya might just be that kind of hero.

And then there was the fact that he actually, genuinely seemed to like him. Aizawa knew he could be intimidating. It was an opinion he didn’t care enough to dissuade. If his students were intimidated by him then they might just listen to him a little more carefully, and who knew when that would save their lives? Yes, Midoriya acted nervous often, but Aizawa got the feeling that that come more from the fact that he had basically stalked the hero. And weirdly held Aizawa in high regard. Midoriya had tried to hide it, but he wasn’t that great of an actor. Not yet at least. Aizawa had never been someone’s favorite before. Maybe he should ask Hizashi for advice…

No. Midoriya was Aizawa’s student not a fan. Only if his admiration interfered with his training would Aizawa broach the topic with his friend. He had told no one he was training Midoriya and he wouldn’t mention it unless absolutely necessary. Although not technically not allowed, Aizawa would rather not deal with Nezu’s prying or the other pro heroes who would demand they meet Midoriya. Better to keep the kid away from that mess at all costs.

In the meantime, Aizawa needed to figure out what he would suggest to Midoriya the next day. The kid still needed a lot of work on the basics-he had only started fighting two weeks ago after all- but he trusted him enough to up the difficulty level just a bit. The easiest thing to teach him would be the same technique Aizawa himself used with his scarves, but that would draw too much of a connection between the two. Aizawa’s style was unique, and if anyone else showed up using scarves the way he did they would know Aizawa had trained them.
Midoriya needed to make his own way, succeeding or failing based off his own talent. When he made it into Yuuei people would be looking for ways to tear him down. He didn’t need anyone saying he only got in because of favoritism. Not after all of the work he would be putting in.

“Are you sure about this, Rave?” A quiet voice asked, looking over the plans laid out across the table. “Eraserhead… There’s no going back from this, you have to know that.”
The room had grown dark as the sun set, the papers spread out around them barely visible in the dim light. Rave didn’t need to see the pages to know what was written there though. Hours of pouring over the information again and again had guaranteed he would never forget it. “I’m very aware of what we’re doing, Asahi. It’s necessary.”

“But murder? We kill a pro hero and we’ll have every hero in the city after us. Are you sure you can handle that?”

Rave stood, the sound of his chair crashing against the floor echoing in the empty room, paper flying as he brushed them off the table. “It’s Eraserhead’s fault, Asahi. It’s his fault she’s dead. We can’t just let that go. He thinks he can just kill someone and get off free because he’s a pro hero? He’s got another thing coming.”

“I’m not saying that he shouldn’t pay! But there has to be another way. Some way that doesn’t make us targets to every pro hero in the prefecture. He has to have some weakness, something we can strike at that’s not so direct.”

“ Make him suffer like we did and then we kill him.”

“That-That’s not really the point of what I was saying.” Asahi sighed. “You’re really set on that part aren’t you?”

“We find his weakness. We take them out. And then we kill him. Simple as that.”

Chapter Text

Izuku couldn’t decide whether he was more nervous or excited for his lesson with Aizawa that day. Knowing that Aizawa trusted him enough to allow him to add another element to his training comforted him, but he had no idea what to expect. Aizawa had given him no hint at what this additional training would include other than that it involved an unspecified weapon and that he needed to let his mother know he would be staying an hour later than usual.

The entire walk to the old warehouse, making sure that he took the route carefully outlined by Aizawa on the chance he was being followed, Izuku wondered what the hero had planned for him. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t imagine himself fighting the way Aizawa did. The scarves fit him in a strange way, but Izuku knew that they wouldn’t be right for him. Not when he couldn’t eliminate quirks in the same way as Aizawa. There would be times when Izuku wouldn’t be able to avoid fighting against villains whose quirks he couldn’t figure out in time. Whatever Aizawa had planned, Izuku knew he would have chosen it with that limitation in mind.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa started the moment Izuku entered the building. “Do you know what your greatest advantage is going to need to be as someone without a quirk?”


Aizawa’s responding grin was full of teeth and wide eyes. It would have been intimidating if Izuku hadn’t gotten to know the hero over the last few weeks. “Good guess, but not quite. Knowledge is important, but it means nothing if you can’t do anything with it. What you really need is options. And that is what our focus is going to be on today. I’ve started you with some basic hand to hand techniques, but you’re going to need as many other tricks up your sleeve as possible if you’re going to make this work. Today we’ll be starting on another one.”

Reaching into his bag, Aizawa pulled out two metal rods and placed them on the table in front of him. “Have you ever heard of a martial arts style called Eskrima?”

Eskrima? Why did that sound so familiar? And the rods…”A comic book?” Izuku mumbled to himself.


“I think I’ve heard of it before, but I don’t remember the details. Something from an old comic book?” Izuku stared at the rods, struggling to remember. “Definitely an old one… a series from before quirks appeared. Why can’t I remember?”

“You read comics that old?”

Izuku laughed nervously. “The ones published before quirks had heroes who didn’t have any special powers or abilities. Superheroes were just in fiction then so…” He explained, rubbing at the back of his neck as he avoided looked at his teacher. “Stories like that stopped being published when people gained actual superpowers though. I didn’t read a lot. They’re really hard to find, hardly any of the stories can be found whole, but there was one I liked...His uniform was blue and black? He fought with weapons similar to those.” Maybe he should try to track down those old comics. There might be a few other things he could take some inspiration from.

Aizawa held back a sigh. Of course his hero obsessed student had read those old comics, trying to find himself in fictional character while everyone was telling him his dream was useless. That gave him a thought, but he pushed the idea aside for the moment.

“Eskrima is a weapon based style of martial arts originally from the Philippines. I started studying it before I attended Yuuei. As you know, I eventually decided to change to my current tactics because of the limitations of my quirk, but I still kept in practice.” Aizawa explained. “Knowing what you remember from those comics and looking at these tools, why do you think I chose this style for you?”

Izuku looked at the rods again for a moment before answering. “The distance your scarves allow you works primarily because you can nullify that person’s quirk. I can’t do that, and I can’t counter their quirk with my own. When dealing with some quirks, emitter types especially, the only way I can effectively deal with them is to get in close. Also, those don’t look heavy, but they’re solid. Training with them would help improve my general upper body strength which would help when I have to fight without them. It will also make sure I’m just as coordinated with my left side as my right?”

Aizawa nodded. “That is true. They also allow the wielder to have greater control for more precise movements. You have the potential to be fast, Midoriya, and that will work in your favor if you continue to improve.” Izuku beamed at the hero’s praise. “We won’t be stopping your regular hand to hand sessions, but will work on incorporating this as well. Each method will benefit from your knowledge of the other, and when you’ve got a solid basis on this we’ll see about what else we can add to your arsenal.”

He would have to do some more research when he got home, but Izuku could see why Aizawa thought this would be a good fit for him.

“Also,” Aizawa said, making sure that Izuku looked at him before he continued. “I am adding another condition to these sessions. No more chasing after villain fights.”


“No.” Aizawa said firmly. “I talk to your mother, Midoriya. She tells me things. I’m not teaching you so you can go off and be a vigilante. If that’s what you want, these sessions end now.”

“I wanted to gather data on their quirks,” Izuku said softly, “that’s all.” Aizawa talked to his mother? Izuku had no idea they had talked since the day Inko had given her permission for him to train, and the thought made him suddenly anxious.

“If you want to watch their fights, I can get the video for you. But running off every time there’s an attack isn’t safe. What did I say about sending kids off into situations they aren’t prepared for?”

“That you don’t make a habit of it?”

“You’ve gotten better in the last few weeks, but you aren’t ready for that. The goal here is to get you into Yuuei. Until then I don’t want you going anywhere near a villain unless you just happen to be there, and if that’s the case you leave as soon as it’s safe for you to do so. If you feel like you really need something else to occupy your time, I can always assign you more work. Got it?”

“Understood, Aizawa-sensei!”

“Good. Then we can get started.” Carefully placing the metal rods back in his bag, Aizawa pulled out two sets that were nearly identical to the first except for the fact they were made of wood.

“Catch.” He said simply before tossing a pair to Izuku.

Thanks to his previous lessons Izuku managed to grab them without fumbling, a definite sign that his hand eye coordination had gotten better at least. Testing their weight, Izuku couldn’t help but grin. Something about this just seemed right to him, like a puzzle piece had suddenly clicked into place. Their lesson hadn’t even officially started yet, but Izuku could tell that Aizawa had made the right decision.

“Move over to the mats, Midoriya, and let me see your grip.”

For the next half hour, Aizawa slowly worked Izuku through the basics, explaining how to properly hold the sticks and correcting his positions as Izuku went through the stances he had already learned.

“It’s important to remember that these are weapons,” Aizawa said when they were finished. “If you aren’t careful you’re just as likely to hurt yourself as you are whoever you’re fighting. Learn how it feels to hold them. To move them. You need to get comfortable enough with them that they feel like extensions of yourself. Figure out what feels awkward and what feels right.”

“I think I’m going to like this.” Izuku said, his voice quiet. Despite meeting with Aizawa several times over the last few weeks and all the training and studying that came with it, it seemed to finally be sinking in that he was really doing this. Aizawa believed in him, that Izuku had known before. It had been the added boost of self confidence he needed to stand up for his dream at school, after all. But this…

Izuku’s grip tightened on the rods. It felt like he was taking his first true step towards being a hero today. One more trick up his sleeve, Aizawa had said. One move closer to Yuuei.

“Copy me through this next sequence.”

“Yes, Aizawa-sensei!”

It wasn’t until the lesson ended that Izuku remembered the other reason he had been worried about their training session that day. “Um..Aizawa-sensei?”

Aizawa glanced at his student to see him pulling restlessly at the straps on his backpack. A backpack Aizawa was surprised to notice wasn’t the red, blue, and yellow one he had grown accustomed to seeing Midoriya with. Was that.. Was that bag supposed to be based off of him? When had Midoriya gotten it? Aizawa hadn’t even known there was merch modelled after him. The other big heroes, sure, but Eraserhead? He certainly wasn’t popular enough to warrant that kind of thing, and that was the way he liked it.

Oblivious to the shock he had just given the pro hero, Izuku continued. “M-My mother was wondering if you would like to have dinner with us tomorrow?”

Aizawa blinked slowly, reminiscent of a cat, before repeating, “Dinner?”

“You don’t have to,” Izuku said, his words blurring together as he continued to pull on his bag. “No pressure, or anything, but we’re having dinner-well we have dinner every night- but um… do you want to come eat dinner with us?”


“Um.. Good! I’ll let her know! What’s your favorite food, by the way? I’m sure she’ll want to know.”

“Katsudon.” Aizawa answered with the first thing that came to mind.

“Great! See you tomorrow, Aizawa-sensei!”
Aizawa stood alone in the warehouse long after Midoriya had left.

“He changed his bag,” he said to himself, and the words seemed to echo in the empty room.

Bakugou was pissed and once again stupid, useless, quirkless Deku was the cause. When he realized that something changed with Deku, Bakugou felt confident that it wouldn’t take him very long to figure out what exactly had happened. It was Deku. How complicated of an issue could it be?

To his frustration, finding out the truth turned out to be harder than he expected. His first attempt-outright asking the dumbass what the fuck was going on- had failed spectacularly. Deku had stuttered nonsense that meant nothing to Bakugou, and rushed into the classroom where he couldn’t be interrogated. Eraserhead had been the only word Bakugou could pick out of his garbled mess, and he had zero clue what it meant. It had to be a hero name, he guessed, but it didn’t belong to any hero Bakugou was familiar with. What kind of name was Eraserhead anyway? Surely if Bakugou hadn’t hurt of him, he wasn’t anything special. And Deku had chosen him over All Might.

The next attempt had been to try to follow him. Normally, Bakugou didn’t like sneaking around. His quirk was loud, and Bakugou’s volume tended to match it. Asking Deku clearly hadn’t worked though, and he needed answers. So stalking the hero obsessed loser it was. He watched as Deku gathered his things after classes and headed down the street and quickly ducked after him, making sure he kept out of sight.

Only Deku managed still managed to ditch him in their neighborhood- something that shouldn’t have been possible since Bakugou knew those streets just as well as he did. Deku had done it on purpose too. It was obvious the moment he realized he was being followed, a quick pause in his steps as he attempted to act normal, the fact that he started walking just a little bit faster.

Bakugou had accepted, reluctantly, the fact that he would have to try again now that he had been made, but he turned the corner after Deku and his classmate had been gone. How he had pulled that off, Bakugou had no idea, but it pissed him off just thinking about it. If he needed more evidence that there was something going on, that was it right there.

If only he could figure out what it was.

Aizawa stood wrapped in his sleeping bag, bored, as his homeroom started. The current batch of first years he had been assigned were all around unimpressive, and it would have made things a lot easier for himself if he had just expelled them all the first day. Not to mention safer for those idiots.

Excepting a few, most of this group seemed to view the exam as the hard part and were content to sit back and relax. No matter what he did he couldn’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that being a hero was danger. There were consequences for having that much responsibility.

“I’m giving each of you a profile on your quirk. Given you’ve had your abilities most of your life, and my consultant only had a few minutes you should already know all of this. If there’s information new to you, then you better rethink your priorities. You have five minutes before we leave for your next practical. Don’t waste it.”

The exercise, as expected, was a complete disaster. None of these students knew how to work together, and they couldn’t get over their own egos to figure out how to do it. They had potential, they wouldn’t had gotten into Yuuei if they didn’t, but they had refused to live up to it. Aizawa needed a break. After dismissing his students for the day, all he had to do was grab his stuff from the staff room and drop by his apartment before going to dinner at Midoriya’s.

“Hey, Shouta!” A loud voice called behind him.


“Excited to see me as always, huh Shouta,” Hizashi said, slinging an arm over his friend’s shoulder. It was a sign of their friendship that Aizawa didn’t immediately shove him off.

“Highlight of my day,” Aizawa responded, but his tone lacked its usual biting edge. Hizashi grinned.

“So what’s this I’ve heard about you getting analysis from a consultant?”

“That class is so unprepared. Thought it would knock some sense into them if they realized they didn’t know everything. Didn’t work. Those kids think so much of themselves they aren’t willing to listen.”

“But still, a consultant? Where did you even find one?”

“Can’t tell you that.”

“But Shouta! I’m curious!”
“Maybe I’ll tell you eventually,” Aizawa allowed, finally shrugging off Hizashi’s arm.

Hizashi sighed, holding up his hands as he shrugged. “I’ll hold you to that then. Now, super secret consultants aside, I’ve just gotten the newest season of that show I wanted you to watch. Want to come over tonight? We can marathon it! Bring Marlo!”

Aizawa knew Hizashi would overreact to his next words, but his friend knew him well enough to know when he was lying. “I can’t. Plans.”

Hizashi stopped, grabbing Aizawa and pulling him to a halt as well. “Plans? What kind of plans? Oh, Shouta! Are you going on a date?”

“Not a date.” Hizashi was never going to let this go. “I have...a meeting with that consultant. They owe me a few more profiles.” Technically true. Midoriya did have a few assignments due that night that Aizawa was going to pick up while he was there.

Hizashi pouted. “You need to do something fun every now and then, Shouta! This weekend we’re having that marathon.” He pointed at Aizawa sharply. “Don’t make me call and leave a message on your machine! Marlo’s a smart cat, he knows my voice. If I can’t bug you enough to agree, you know he definitely will of he doesn’t see me.”

“This weekend.” Aizawa agreed.

Hizashi shot him a thumbs up. “I’ll let you get going for you meeting then.”

“Was this really a good idea, Mom? Inviting Aizawa-sensei over for dinner? I mean, I really appreciate what he’s doing, but I don’t want him to feel like he has to come over.”

“I don’t think Aizawa-san is the kind of person to agree to something he didn’t want to do,” Inko said soothingly, as she finished getting dinner ready. “He likes you, Izuku. He wouldn’t have agreed to train you otherwise. Besides, I’m sure he could use a good meal. All of his hero duties, teaching at Yuuei, training. He’s a very busy man. The least I can do is offer a small comfort as repayment.”

“I just-”

Inko smiled, giving her son a gentle hug. “I know, Izuku. You take after me in that we both tend to worry about things outside of our control. I haven’t know Aizawa-san very long, but he’s a good person. He isn’t going anywhere, and it’s about time we get to know him better outside of being a pro hero. I have a feeling that he’s going to be around for a long time.” She kissed the top of his head. “Now go set the table. Aizawa-san should be here any moment.”

Izuku gathered what he needed, pausing at the kitchen door. “Thanks, Mom.”

Still smiling, Inko turned back to the stove. Yes, she had to get to know the man who had inspired such confidence in her son. Inko hadn’t seen Izuku so happy in a long time, and she would never be able to repay Aizawa for being the reason.

Asahi tapped the communicator wrapped over his ear, turning it on. “Rave?”

“Did you find something?” His brother’s voice came through muffled by static. Asahi had been trying to follow Aizawa for weeks with no results. Knowing the he worked at Yuuei had helped, but their security system was too good for Rave to crack, and Aizawa’s paranoia about being followed made it difficult for him to be… well… followed. It’s not paranoia if it’s true and all that.

The hero had finally made a mistake though, and Asahi had tracked him down to a set of ordinary looking apartments. Aizawa paused outside the doors, waiting for a minute before a middle school aged boy with green hair appeared to let him in.

A kid. Aizawa was meeting a kid?

“Rave, I think I’ve got it, Eraserhead’s weakness. You aren’t going to believe this.”

Across town Rave smirked as his brother relayed the news. With Eraserhead’s weak point found, it was finally time to move forward with their plan.

Chapter Text

Midoriya was late.

If this had been his students at Yuuei Aizawa wouldn’t have been concerned. They were rarely on time, rarely prepared. He thought giving them Midoriya’s notes would help. Show them that they didn’t know everything. If someone who had never met them, who had never even seen their quirks in actions, was able to to pick apart their strengths and weaknesses, they would realize what could happen against a real villain. What would they do if a villain analyzed their quirks the way that his “consultant” had? It hadn’t changed anything with the class though, just served as a reminder of how special Midoriya really was.

Midoriya had never been late before.

Every other session the middle schooler had arrived at least ten minutes early, a mixture of excitement and nerves. Midoriya was always ready to learn, and he focused on everything Aizawa had to say with an attentiveness that the pro hero wished he was used to, not only taking in the information but immediately trying to apply it. He had grown so much in the few weeks they had been meeting, and Aizawa continued to find himself surprised by the boy who had shown up at his apartment out of nowhere ready to prove himself.

Today though, the minutes had ticked by and Midoriya never showed. Aizawa had no real reason to be worried. Midoriya was still a student, after all, it was possible he had just been delayed after class by a teacher or another student, but he couldn’t shake the feeling, and with every minute that passed without Midoriya’s sudden appearance his dread grew. He had just started reaching for his phone when it rang, the low beep he had set for Midoriya Inko echoing in the empty warehouse.

Inko spoke the moment he picked up. “Izuku!” She said hurriedly, her voice watery. A hand tightened around Aizawa’s heart. “Izuku’s been kidnapped!”

Aizawa’s students liked to joke that their teacher had no emotions, but the look of fury that twisted his expression at Inko’s words would have had them cowering. “You know for a fact he was kidnapped?” he asked, his tone a calmness he didn’t feel.

“They-They left a note and-”

Aizawa gripped the phone tighter as Inko’s voice broke.

“Aizawa-san it’s addressed to you.”

One Hour Earlier

Izuku should have known that nothing good would come from Kacchan’s attention. There was always a tension between the two ex friends. Too much had happened for them to not be constantly aware of the other’s presence. Izuku knew Kacchan would deny it, but there had been a time-before quirks and pride had gotten in the way- that they had been inseparable. Izuku understood Bakugou Katsuki in a way that no one else did, and although the status of their friendship might have changed that fact remained the same.

Of course that meant Kacchan knew Izuku just as well.

A lot of their classmates tended to write Kacchan of as an idiot. He was loud, a bully. He always seemed to act first and think about the consequences later. They heard the angry words he said and assumed that was all there was to him. It didn’t matter that Kacchan consistently ranked number one in their class. Izuku knew better though, and so he should have known that if anyone was going to notice that something was going on with him it would be Kacchan. He was too observant to miss Izuku’s change in attitude and the fact that he tended to disappear immediately after school now.

When Kacchan first confronted him about it, Izuku panicked. He stuttered, the words making no sense even to him, before blurting out Eraserhead’s name and running. He had kicked himself as soon as he got back to him apartment for telling Kacchan the hero’s name, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it then. All Izuku could do was hope that Kacchan would drop it all the while knowing that wasn’t going to happen.

Then Kacchan attempted to follow him to one of his meetings with Aizawa, Izuku had never been more grateful of the roundabout routes the pro hero had given him to the warehouse. It had been easy to give his classmate the slip. Far easier, he noted, than it would have been before his lessons with Aizawa started. That didn’t solve the original problem though.

Kacchan knew something was going on with Izuku, and he wasn’t going to stop until he got an answer he was satisfied with. If there was one thing the two boys still had in common it was that they were stubborn to a fault. So yeah, Izuku should have known that things would escalate quickly when Kacchan didn’t get the answers he wanted. He wasn’t a patient person in general, and even less so when it came to Izuku himself.

The next confrontation came quickly and painfully, and Izuku found himself still on the school grounds long after he would have normally left, trying to clean the blood off his face. There would be no hiding the spreading bruises from Aizawa, but at least he wouldn’t get as many stares on his walk to the warehouse.

School had been out long enough that once Izuku got off the main road the streets were empty. Already running late, he paid no attention to the person walking towards him until he stopped right in Izuku’s path, almost knocking him off balance.

“I’m so sorry!” Izuku said, righting the bag on his shoulder. “I should have been paying more attention to where I was going. Are you okay?”

The man was dressed casually, his hands tucked in his pockets. Izuku felt sure he had seen the man before somewhere, the orange shade of his short cropped hair hard to forget, but he couldn’t place where. “I’m fine, Midoriya Izuku, but I’m afraid I’m going to need you to come with me.”

Izuku took an immediate step back, glancing over the man again warily. His eskrima rods were tucked into his backpack. Aizawa had wanted Izuku to get use to the feel of the real ones, but there was no way he could reach them in time. Not when he had no idea who this man was or what quirk he had.

The man smiled crookedly. “You really don’t have a choice here, I’m sorry, but if you come without a fight I can promise you won’t get hurt.”

This couldn’t be happening. He already knew his name, must have known where he went to school, but why would someone do so much research into him? He was just a normal middle schooler as far as anyone knew. He hadn’t told anyone about his lessons with Aizawa and as far as he could tell Aizawa hadn’t told anyone either. This man, whoever he was, had to know though. Maybe not the exact circumstances, but he had to know there was a connection between Izuku and the pro hero. There was no other reason anyone would want to kidnap Izuku.

“If you think I’m just going to go with you, then you’re an idiot.” Izuku said, backing away slowly. He had gotten a lot faster since he started training with Aizawa. If he could just double back, make it to the school grounds...It all depended on whether on not this man was working alone or not. One person Izuku might be able to outrun, but two?

The man sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I told Rave this was a bad idea. Going after a pro hero is dangerous enough without dragging his kid into it too.” Izuku didn’t have time to worry about the man’s mumbling, but he tucked the name “Rave” away in the back of his mind incase it became important.

“Now don’t try to run, kid, I don’t want to have to use my quirk on you. It’s not a pleasant experience from what I hear.”

This was the kind of situation he and Aizawa had talked about. He knew nothing about this man’s quirk, and that didn’t leave him a lot of options. If he ran then he might leave himself vulnerable. The man wanted to capture him, so turning his back on him might just be the opportunity he needed. The only other option was to fight though, and could Izuku really handle that yet? Less than a month of training and he was already being confronted by a villain with a grudge against a pro hero.

He needed to stall. That was the best option. Stall long enough to figure out what to do next. “Why are you after me?”

“Honestly? This wasn’t my idea. I wouldn’t even be involved in this part if my quirk wasn’t so ideal. I have nothing against you personally, kid, but Eraserhead? I’ve got a lot of issues with him. My brother seems to think that the best way to get to him is through you. So here we are.”

“Your brother?”

Footsteps sounded behind Izuku, and the man tensed, cursing. “I should have just grabbed you and left.”

Izuku grinned. “Probably should have.” Someone was definitely coming, and as long as Izuku wasn’t the center of the man’s focus he would probably be able to get them both away. As long as-

“What the fuck is going on here?” Kacchan asked, finally rounding the corner.

Izuku stared. “Kacchan! Stop! We need to-”

“Was what I just heard right?” Bakugou demanded, turning towards the man. “Did you just say you were going to kidnap him?” His hands crackled as small explosions went off. The man eyed the fire with a wide-eyed panic.

Izuku tried to pull Bakugou away, but the other boy just shook him off, glaring. “What the fuck have you gotten yourself into, Deku, that someone’s trying to kidnap you?”

“Is now really the time, Kacchan?” Izuku snapped, “We need to-” The words stopped as a sickly sweet smell filled the air around him.

“I’m sorry boys, but this has gotten out of my control.” Asahi said, rolling his sleeves up.

Izuku could just barely focus on the gas that seemed to be coming from his skin before his vision blurred. Kacchan seemed just as affected, wavering on his feet.
“What the hell?”

The words were barely out before he and Izuku both crumpled to the curb. Asahi sighed again, pulling out his phone. “I’ve got him, Rave. Another boy showed up. They seemed to know each other, so I had to use my quirk. We’ve got plenty of time before they wake up.”

As soon as Aizawa had assured Inko that he would be over to their apartment as soon as he could, he hung up and immediately made another call.

Aizawa wanted to throw something with each unanswered ring, but losing his temper wouldn’t solve anything now. He needed to see that note and find whoever had taken Midoriya. Everything else would have to wait.

They finally picked up on the last ring. Aizawa cut in before they could even say hello. “Emergency. Meet me at this address.” He carefully listed out the Midoriya’s apartment before hanging up without bothering to wait for a response. He would come, Aizawa knew, and now all he needed to do was get there as fast as possible.

Whoever had taken Midoriya was going to realize just what a mistake they had made, of that Aizawa was sure.

Inko answered the door the before Aizawa even knocked. “Please, Aizawa-san. Please find Izuku.” She had been crying, but her voice was steady when she spoke. Aizawa had never been more grateful of his ability to keep his face expressionless than in that moment.

“We’ll find him, Inko-san.” There was no other option.

She led him into the living room. “This man says he’s with you?”

Hizashi was already seated at the sofa, a glass of water in hand. Leave it to Inko to still worry about the comfort of a guest when her son had been kidnapped. It was easy to see, in that simple gesture, where Izuku got his strength from. “He’s with me.”

“Yo, Shouta. What’s going on?” Hizashi asked, glancing between Aizawa and Inko. Hizashi had never heard Aizawa mention the Midoriya’s, but he wouldn’t have called him if it wasn’t serious. The tension in his friend’s face, only obvious to Hizashi because of how long the two had known each other, made his blood run cold. Aizawa’s expression hadn’t been that grave in a long time. “Midoriya-san said it would be better for you to explain.”

“For the last month I’ve taken on training a second year middle schooler, Midoriya Izuku,” Aizawa said. “He’s got a lot of potential in terms of his observational skills, but he doesn’t have a quirk.”

“You’ve been training a student outside of Yuuei?” Hizashi said, stunned. “And he’s quirkless? What did he do get your attention?” With how well known Aizawa’s high standards were, this kid had to have done something really impressive to garner that kind of reaction out of him.

“He showed up at my apartment.” Hizashi let out a low whistle.

Aizawa moved on quickly. Hizashi would have to be filled in on everything later. Aizawa didn’t have time for that now. He would have prefered to keep him from knowing about Midoriya until after his student had taken the entrance exam, but he couldn’t risk Midoriya’s safety when he didn’t know what he would be walking into. Backup was a necessity, and there wasn’t anyone Aizawa trusted with this more than Hizashi.

“You said on the phone they left a note?”

Inko nodded, holding out the crumpled paper in her hands. “Someone slid it under the door while I was out. All it has is your name and an address.”

“Who else knew that you were training with Midoriya?” Hizashi asked, leaning over to see the writing over Aizawa’s shoulder.

“I didn’t tell anyone.”

“Izuku didn’t either.”

Hizashi hummed. “They must have been watching you. Saw the two of you together somehow. Whoever took him, it’s clear they want a fight.”

“That’s fine then,” Aizawa said, turning to reassure Inko. “If it’s just about getting to me they have no reason to hurt him.”

“But, Aizawa-san, will you be alright?” Aizawa was often thrown off by the way the younger Midoriya cared for him, but the worry in Inko’s voice-this time for his sake- still caught him by surprise.

Hizashi threw an arm over Aizawa’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Midoriya-san. I’ll be there to make sure they both get back okay.”

Tears welled up in Inko’s eyes again. Aizawa looked away. “Thank you. Thank you both.”

“Of course, Midoriya-san.” After all, Hizashi wanted to meet the boy who had inspired such a reaction from Aizawa himself.

When Midoriya woke the first thing he realized was that his hands were tied behind his back. His head throbbed, and he struggled to focus through the fog. Kacchan, already awake, struggled beside him.

“Fucking hell, Deku.” He growled. They were situated close enough together that Izuku could feel the heat from the small explosions Kacchan set off as he spoke, but whatever their binds were made of must have been fireproof. His quirk seemed to have zero effect. “I’ll say it again. What kind of shit are you involved in that someone would want to kidnap you.”

Izuku ignored him, trying to take in their surroundings. They were in a warehouse much like the one he and Aizawa trained in, but he could tell from the size and the color of the wood that it wasn’t along the same area of buildings. Boxes lined the walls, filling the open space like a maze and making it impossible for him to see more than a few feet in any direction. Plenty of places they could hide until they found a way out.

It seemed like the people who grabbed them had also neglected to go through their things. His bag sat not far from where they were tied. All they had to do was get free before the man and whoever that person he had mentioned, Rave, returned.

“Oi, Deku. Don’t fucking ignore me.”

Getting free might not make a difference though if they were caught before they got out, hiding place or not. That man’s quirk. Izuku had seen quirks like that before on the news, the most famous being the pro hero Midnight. It had been so fast acting, the moment he realized the gas was there he was already falling asleep. There had to be limitations on what he could do with it, but prolonged exposure wasn’t an option. Maybe the gas was less effective after each use. Maybe he couldn’t control it in a large area like the warehouse.

The unknowns weren’t things Izuku could plan around, and they could make the difference between whether they escaped or not. At least Aizawa would know he was missing. The moment Izuku didn’t show for their sessions the hero would have to know that something had gone wrong. With no way to tell how much time had passed since he and Kaachan were taken, Aizawa could already be well on his way to finding them.

The blast of a much larger explosion ripped Izuku from his thoughts. “Kacchan! You’re going to bring them back!” He wondered for a second if Kacchan had thought about where that explosion would hit him or not, but dismissed it.

“I want answers, Deku. What. The fuck. Is going on.”

Izuku opened his mouth to answer, but an unfamiliar voice spoke instead.

“Asahi wasn’t supposed to take you too.” A different man than before said, coming into view. Though taller than the man from before(Asahi?), they were clearly related. The bright shade of his air vibrant even in the dim light. “He should have just used his quirk and gotten it over with.”

“Who the hell are you?” Kacchan demanded, pulling harder to get his hands free.

“Doesn’t matter. What’s important it what I want. Eraserhead. Dead.” He stepped forward, crouching down in front of Izuku. “He killed someone very important to me, Midoriya Izuku. I hate dragging kids into this mess as much as Asahi, but unlike him I’ve accepted that it’s necessary. You’re dad has to pay for what he did, and if taking you is the only way to see that he does then so be it.”

Izuku had a retort ready, but the words died as what Rave said registered.

“I’m sorry. My what?”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry. My what?”

Rave, because Izuku had to assume that this was the partner the man who abducted them had mentioned, rolled his eyes. “Don’t try that with me. I had Asahi followed Aizawa as best he could, that hero is good at keeping to himself I’ll give him that, but he messed up. Made a mistake when he went to visit you. I did my research. Midoriya Izuku. Second year middle schooler. Quirkless. Father mysteriously out of the picture.”

“You couldn’t have done a lot of it. My father is Midoriya Hisashi.” Izuku couldn’t believe he was having to argue this. “He works overseas.”

“I’m sure that story works nicely with everyone else, but I’m afraid I’m not buying it. Eraserhead’s ability is nullifying quirks. It isn’t really that hard to believe that he might have a quirkless child as a result. The genetics of quirk heritability are still being studied, after all.”

“What the fuck are you on?” Bakugou snapped.

“Aizawa-sensei isn’t even old enough to be my dad! He’s what? Twenty-eight?” Izuku said, exasperated. And this was the person who had kidnapped them. He couldn’t even do something as simple as basic research, and yet he had been able to knock out both Izuku and Kacchan because of a well used quirk. Had that just been luck or was Rave smarter than he appeared? Izuku had to wonder how well thought out the villains plan was if he had messed up a detail so important.

Rave hummed but didn’t look convinced.

“You still haven’t told us why you abducted us yet, asshole.” Kacchan fumed, tired of being ignored.

Rave turned to him with an air of indifference. Kacchan’s expression twisted further. “Like I said before, he was never supposed to take you. I only needed to one hostage after all, so don’t worry. You’ll be free to go after Eraserhead is dead.” He looked back at Izuku. “As for why to all of this in general,” he said, gesturing to the warehouse around them. “Eraserhead killed someone important to me. I’m here to make amends.”

“Eraserhead is a hero.”

“He was supposed to be, yes.” Rave turned away from both of them now, walking back down the path he had come from. “And he should here soon. I was kind enough to leave him an address, so if you’ll excuse me I need to make sure everything's in order. Just sit tight, and it’ll be over with before you know it.”

It was after the echo of Rave’s footsteps had faded that Izuku finally turned to Kacchan. “Did he seriously just tell us to sit tight?”

“What. The. Fuck. Deku.” For a moment Izuku was glad their hands were bound because the explosions Kacchan set off weren’t able to hit him directly. The heat still burned, and Izuku moved carefully away from him as Kacchan tried to once again to get free. “Why does the dumbass who kidnapped us think that some pro hero is you dad? I’ve met your dad, and he’s about as far away from a pro as you can be.”

Izuku sighed. There was no way he would be getting out of this explanation, but on the bright side at least it meant Kacchan wouldn’t be stalking him after school anymore. He would deal with whatever other consequences came from his revelation later.

“Aizawa Shouta, Eraserhead, has been training me.”

Silence. And then-

“Training you. Training you for fucking what?” Izuku could barely understand the words through the grinding of Kacchan’s teeth.

“He teaches at Yuuei.” Izuku said, bracing himself for the inevitable reaction. “He’s teaching me to fight without a quirk so I can pass the entrance exam.”

Izuku refused to let Kacchan make him feel bad about his decision. Yuuei had been his dream long before he knew he would never have a quirk, and nothing Kacchan said would change the fact that Aizawa believe that he could do it enough that he had taken him on as his student.

That didn’t stop him from flinching when Bakugou made to lunge in his direction only to be stopped by the fact that his hands were still bound awkwardly behind his back.

“How long?”

“Almost a month.”

Bakugou huffed. “I knew something was going on. What did you do to get him to agree to that? Doesn’t he know you’re quirkless, Deku?”

“He knows. And why he decided to train me isn’t any of your business. I’m only telling you about it at all, because it’s my training that got us wrapped into this.” Izuku stopped. “Why were you on that street, Kacchan? You know why I was late, but you should have been long gone by then. Were you trying to follow me again?”
“What? No. Don’t be a dumbass, Deku. What do you mean it isn’t any of my business?”

“We don’t have time for this. We need to figure out how to get untied before Aizawa-sensei gets here. That quirk that knocked us out is dangerous enough, and we still don’t know what exactly Rave has planned or what his quirk is.”

Izuku was prepared for Kacchan to argue but instead his expression shifted, focusing on the way Rave had disappeared. “Let me out of here! I don’t need some dumb pro hero to save me. I’ll kick his ass myself! Any hero who would agree to train a quirkless idiot like you can’t be that great!” Kacchan continued to rant, pulling at the binds but having no success.

Bakugou Katsuki would be a great hero one day. Izuku didn’t doubt that. But even after his short time with Aizawa, watching the hero, learning more about how pro heroes actually operated, Izuku knew that there was so much more to being a pro than people thought. Kacchan was used to being the best, to being the only one in his group of followers with the ability to lead. He didn’t know how to work with others. He didn’t know what it was like to have to rely on someone else, and as a result he tended to run into situations guns blazing.

Not to say he wasn’t smart or didn’t strategize-he wasn’t top of their class for nothing- but when Kacchan believed something he committed fully and right that moment Kacchan seemed to believe their captors were incompetent. The second he heard Rave claim Izuku’s father was Eraserhead he had dismissed them. His face had made that obvious.

No, as much as he would need Kacchan’s help to get out of the warehouse it would be up to Izuku to get them free from their binds. Kacchan’s explosions had no effect, and he wasn’t calm enough to think of another way. His eyes landed on his bookbag.

Maybe these villains were a little bit incompetent after all. Izuku wouldn’t underestimate them, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t take advantage of their screw ups. The bag sat not too far away, and while their hands were bound they were actually tied to any grounded fixture. If Izuku moved carefully enough…

His shoulders ached as he pushed against the ties flattening his palms against the ground. Levering his weight, Izuku inched forward. He knew it had to look ridiculous, dragging himself across the short distance with his feet, but in seconds the bag was within reach. The only problem was how to get what he needed.

Finding the zipper when he couldn’t see what he was doing was harder than he had expected, but he managed, pressing the bag against the wall as he pulled. Easy part over with. Because Izuku. Izuku kept a lot of stuff in his bag. There were the books and notes he needed for school, the current notebook he had been filling with quirk notes (vol. 12), his eskrima rods, snacks, his phone, loose pens and pencils Headphones. Izuku cursed, promising himself he would clean everything out when they got out of this mess.

Finally, after several minutes of digging and ignoring Kacchan’s complaints and the distant smell of smoke, Izuku found what he had been looking for. The small collapsible pocket knife-well under the six centimeter limit- had been added to his bag as a precaution. A much needed one it seemed. It was possible it wouldn’t work. Whatever their hands were bound in had withstood the force of Kacchan’s explosions, but it was the only option they had, short of trying to find their way out with their hands behind their backs.

Izuku positioned the knife carefully, rolling it over with the tips of his fingers. Simply unzipping his bag had been difficult with his hands as they were, but this? Position the knife wrong, and Izuku could end up cutting himself and making the situation a whole lot worse than it already was.

“Shitty Deku, what the fuck are you doing now?”

“Not now, Kacchan, I’m trying to-” There was a thunk as the blade extended.

Rubbing at his wrists to get the circulation back, Izuku turned back to his bag, hesitating for a moment before zipping it shut. As much as he would have loved to put his new skill into practice it wasn’t the time. He hadn’t been training with the rods long enough to know what to really do with them, and their two lessons had only used the wooden replicas. Better to stick with what he was best at.

“Let me cut you free, Kacchan.”

“ Fuck you. I can get out on my own. I don’t need help your help.” He grumbled.

“You kind of look like you do,” Izuku answered, reaching down carefully in case there was another explosion- accidental or on purpose.

“Shut up. You had a knife in your bag this whole time?”

“Lucky for us, I did. And lucky it worked.”

Kacchan didn’t thank him, and Izuku didn’t expect him to.

When he started off in the direction Rave had gone Izuku grabbed his arm, pulling him to a stop. Kacchan turned, glaring at him as he jerked away from Izuku’s grasp. “What the hell, Deku?”

“We can’t just go running off! We don’t know what they have planned or where they are. We need to be careful and think this through.”

Grudgingly accepting that Izuku was right, Kacchan asked. “He said that Aizawa guy was on his way. Do you have any ideas of how he would handle something like this?”

Izuku grinned. “I have a few.”

Even with Hizashi’s car, the drive to the address Aizawa had been left was half an hour. Half an hour of sitting and trying not to think about what these villains, whoever they were, had been doing to Midoriya in all the time they had him.

Part of being a pro hero is the ability to separate yourself from the tragedies that occur in the line of work. To look at the events unfolding around you, think critically about the solutions, and enact a plan with almost clinical efficiency when needed. Major villains didn’t surface every day, but they happened enough, and the better you were at what you did the more often you were called in for those kinds of situations. Aizawa had been called in on many hostage situations before, times when his quirk nullifying abilities quickly ended a standoff that could have easily turned deadly.

In each and every one of those calls he had appreciated his ability to emotionally compartmentalize. His quirk- and the fighting that he sometimes had to do when it didn’t work- required concentration and focus. He wasn’t good to anyone if he couldn’t maintain the calm needed for his ability to be the most effective. Get too nervous or distracted, lose sight of the villain, and it was all over.

Aizawa had never had difficulty maintaining that distance from a mission before, but for the first time his patience began to fray as the drive continued on. Midoriya had been taken, and Aizawa didn’t know what he would do if the boy got hurt because of him. Yes, he was training him to be accepted into Yuuei, training him to be a hero, but Midoriya hadn’t been accepted yet. He was just a thirteen year old kid who wanted to learn, to help people, and while Aizawa knew that one day Midoriya would have to learn about the true danger that came along with being a hero, Aizawa thought that he would have had time to prepare him.

He had told Inko that he didn’t make a habit of sending kids into situations they weren’t capable of handling and some villain with a vendetta had turned him into a liar. Aizawa would never forgive himself if Midoriya wasn’t okay.

“We’ll get him back, Shouta.” Hizashi said, not looking away from the road.

There was a reason Aizawa had decided to call his friend. Aside from not knowing exactly what these villains had in store for him, Aizawa couldn’t trust himself to make the most rational decisions at the moment. If he did lose focus he needed someone there he could count on, and there was no one else Aizawa would trust Midoriya’s safety to besides Hizashi.

“Drive faster please.”

“Of course, of course.”

Hizashi, for his part, had never seen his friend this out of sorts. Aizawa had gained a reputation for being a tough teacher for a reason. He expected a lot of of his students, and as a result there were very few he connected with on a personal level. He didn’t hold the record for most expulsions for no reason, after all. But something about this kid, this Midoriya Izuku, had resonated with him. The more he watched Aizawa the more he wanted to meet this kid.

When they finally reached the address that had been left at the Midoriya’s they found a large warehouse, not unlike the one that Aizawa and Midoriya trained in. It had clearly not been taken care of though. The paneling, bleached and peeling, looked ready to cave in. Hizashi parked a short distance down the road.

“This is where they’ve taken him?” Hizashi asked, adjusting his collar.

“Plenty of space for them to set up a trap,” Aizawa said.

“It’s your call, Shouta. What do you want to do?”

“They know we’re coming. There’s no point in trying to sneak in.” These warehouses all had the same basic layout, but there was no way of telling what had been done to the inside from where they stood. The only way to know was to go in.

“Lead the way, Shouta.” Hizashi placed a hand on his shoulder. Aizawa would have to remember that he owed his friend as many marathons of that stupid series as he wanted after this.

The room they entered was dark, the dust covered windows blocking out what little light was left from the setting sun. Boxes lined the walls, but the majority of the expansive room sat empty. Aizawa could see a door at the other end of the room, but he and Hizashi made no move towards it.

Around the ceiling of the room, mostly hidden by shadows, ran a metal walkway. The thud of footsteps echoed, and Hizashi and Aizawa turned back to back as they tried to find where the sound came from.


Aizawa felt Hizashi flinch behind him and looked without turning around completely in time to see him pull a small dart from his neck.

“What the hell?”

“Present Mic!”

A voice crackled through an intercom system, reverberating through the room. “Welcome, Eraserhead!” Aizawa had hoped that he would recognize the voice, that it would give them a clue as to who and what they were dealing with, but not such luck. “I hadn’t expected you to bring Present Mic along, but this might work out for the better. A little demonstration of my quirk before things really get started.”

“What have you done to me?” Hizashi asked. “And what have you done with Midoriya Izuku?”

“Eraserhead’s little protègé is fine, although unavailable at the moment. I needed him ready for the main event. As for you? That was just a little bit of my blood. Necessary for activating my quirk, I’m afraid. A downside I’ve learned to deal with.”

Aizawa scanned the railings, trying to find where their attacker stood, but it was too dark to see more than a little of the metal. He and Hizashi exchanged a look as Hizashi dropped the dart to the floor.

“I had planned on using young Midoriya as my example, but this works out just as nicely. Gives you an understanding of what’s to come.” The voice laughed. “You see all it takes is a drop of my blood and.” he stopped.

“Present Mic, are you-?”

Hizashi turned, and Aizawa, stunned, could do nothing as he yelled, knocking Aizawa off his feet. He skidded across the floor, the rough concrete tearing at his skin.

“It’s unfortunate that my quirk can only be activated if someone’s been infected with by blood, but the benefits more than make up for it.”

Aizawa pushed himself up, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. He didn’t need to look to know that he was bleeding. Hizashi stood rigid across from him, the dead look in his eyes so unlike his friends usual exuberance.

“Hizashi!” Aizawa said, even though he knew it wouldn’t work. Whatever had happened, Hizashi wasn’t in control now. Aizawa felt his hair rise as he activated his quirk. Hizashi would forgive him for restraining him. He wouldn’t want to be used as a weapon for some villain.

But once again he felt stunned, unable to do anything as another yell ripped through the air. Aizawa barely had time to react before he slammed into the wall, boxes crashing around him. His quirk hadn’t worked? He struggled to think through the pounding in his head. He and Hizashi didn’t train together often, but his quirk had always affected the hero before, simply enhancement quirk that it was.

“Giving someone my blood gives me full control of their body, including their quirk.” Hizashi’s mouth twisted at the words as the words come through the muffled static of the loudspeaker. “I’m afraid that also means that you’re quirk will have no effect on poor Present Mic while I am in control of him. You want Midoriya Izuku back? Fight Present Mic. Because the only way to me is through him.”

Chapter Text

Bakugou grumbled as he followed after Deku. Stupid, useless Deku. Deku who, Bakugou had to grudgingly admit, seemed to know more about their situation than he did. Because that secret that he had been trying to figure out? The mystery behind Deku’s sudden change in attitude? The idiot had been training with a pro hero for a month, and while granted, it wasn’t a pro Bakugou had heard a lot about before, it still make him furious.

What could someone like Deku, someone who didn’t even have a fucking quirk, possibly have done to get personal training from a pro hero who worked at Yuuei? And Deku’s ridiculous “I don’t owe you an explanation.” response. He had gotten kidnapped because of that shit, and Deku didn’t think he deserved an explanation? He was going to find out how this had happened when they finally got out, and if Deku wasn’t going to be the one to tell him then he would just have to ask the pro himself. They owed him at least that for getting him caught up in some revenge scheme.

And surely, once he met Bakugou, this pro would realize what it would be like to mentor someone who actually had a shot at getting admitted to Yuuei. Deku had always spent his time writing up his notes on quirks and strategy, but that could never make up for not having a quirk no matter how hard he trained. Bakugou was the one with the quirk perfect for being a pro. Whatever potential that hero had seen in Deku, he had to recognize that Bakugou could be so much more.

Until they escaped though, Bakugou would at least listen to what Deku had to say. He knew what the pro might be planning, and Bakugou couldn’t ignore information that important even if it had to come from Deku. And just listening to what he had to say didn’t mean that he had to do a thing the dumbass said if he didn’t think it was the right decision himself. It didn’t matter what kind of training Deku had gone through in the last month. The only person Bakugou trusted to get him out of this mess was himself, and that wasn’t going to change.

“We should be okay here while we figure out a plan,” Deku said, slipping into a narrow space between two stacks of boxes. It had grown dark outside while they were asleep, the shadows enough to keep them hidden long enough to make a decision. “We should still be close enough to hear if anyone comes back for us.”

Bakugou stepped in after him, huffing as he sat down, but managed to exercise enough self control not to set off another explosion despite how much he wanted to. The warehouse seemed to trap the heat, and the added stress of being kidnapped didn’t help matters. Resisting the urge to wipe his hands off on his pants- the last thing he needed was to accidentally set his clothes on fire the next time he needed to use his quirk- and turned to Deku.

“Eraserhead. You have his number?”

Deku stared at him, his eyes wide. “Oh my god, I’m an idiot.”

“No arguments from me,” Bakugou said, watching as Deku dug around in his bag again. “Why the fuck do you have metal rods in your bag?”
“Not important right now.” Deku answered, not looking at him as he quickly scrolled through his phone and held it to his ear. “Please pick up, Aizawa-sensei.”

“The hell it is-” Bakugou started, grinding his teeth.

“Kacchan.” Deku said firmly. “I promise I will explain everything when we get out of here. Aizawa-sensei didn’t pick up, but if Rave was right he might be here soon. They took me for a reason, and they’re bound to notice us missing. We can’t just stay here until Aizawa-sensei gets here.” Aizawa didn’t know that Kacchan had been taken as well, and Izuku had to wonder if Kacchan’s mother had noticed he was missing yet. He thought about sending his own mother a text to let her know that he was okay, but decided against it. It would probably worry her more to get one text and then no more.

“You know him, apparently. What’s he going to do?” Bakugou knew that people tended to say that he had an anger problem, but he didn’t think that they gave him as much credit as he deserved. Considering he felt angry ninety percent of the time, the fact that he didn’t act on that anger more than he did should have been acknowledge for the accomplishment that it was. Take now, for instance. If he were to act on his anger then Deku would have gotten an explosion to his face, but because Bakugou had such impressive control over his emotions he settled for growling at him instead.

Deku seemed to realize that Bakugou’s patience was running short and spoke quickly. “Aizawa-sensei is definitely not coming here alone.”

“And you know that how?”

He shrugged. “He doesn’t know who took me, but according to Rave he knows where we’re at. If they gave him an address, then he’s going to know this whole thing is a trap. Whatever their reason for wanting revenge, they were willing someone who wasn’t involved to go through with it. Aizawa-sensei’s number one rule is to never go into a situation you aren’t prepared for if you can help it. Since he doesn’t know what they have planned or even how many people were involved, there’s no way he didn’t call in backup.”

“And his quirk?”

“Basically, he can nullify other people’s quirks. That’s why he’s called Eraserhead. It doesn’t work on quirks that actually change someone’s physical appearance though, which is another reason he would have brought someone else with him. Aizawa-sensei usually works by taking out his opponent before they know he’s there. That’s not really going to work when they know he’s coming.”

Nullifying quirks. No wonder Bakugou hadn’t heard much about him then, especially if he worked the way Deku said. Bakugou’s favorite heroes tended to be flashier than that, heroes who had a huge presence and were seen in public a lot. Like All Might. Heroes directly involved in the action. How had Deku become involved with someone like that?

“Any idea who he might bring?”

At that, Deku seemed to hesitate. “I can’t be sure about that. I don’t know who he’s told about our lessons, or who would have been available, but if I had to pick anyone it would probably be Present Mic.”

Present Mic, Bakugou had definitely heard of. With a quirk like his, it would have been hard not to. Were they friends or something? He was about to ask when a shadow appeared, blocking out what little light had filtered through the windows.

“Excellent deduction, kid.” the man who kidnapped them said, standing at Deku’s end of the row. “Kudos on getting free. Rave’s not going to be happy about that one.”

Aizawa might not have been able to erase Hizashi’s quirk, but he still expected their fight to be resolved quickly. The villain might be in control of Hizashi and his quirk, but Hizashi had years of training to maximize his ability that the villain wouldn’t be able to replicate. They had trained together enough that it should have been easy for Aizawa to pick apart his weaknesses. And it would have been had Aizawa’s head not collided with the wall with a resounding crack.

He had had enough concussions over the years to know what one felt like, the ringing in his ears drowning out anything the villain was still saying. Dazed, Aizawa braced himself against the wall, pushing himself to his feet. The world tilted as his stomach immediately rebelled against that decision, and he cursed as he tried to regain his balance. He would have to see Recovery Girl as soon as he got Midoriya and Hizashi free, but he couldn’t afford to worry about that now.

Hizashi took a deep breath, preparing to yell again, and Aizawa just barely managed to trip out of the way of the oncoming blast. Each movement felt like forcing his way through gelatin. He needed to end things and fast, but he could barely keep up with Hizashi as disoriented as he was let alone get the opportunity to use his scarves.

As the ringing in his ears died down Aizawa could hear the villain speaking through the loud system again. “If this is the best that you can do, it’s not surprising that people have died on your watch. How did you ever become a pro hero?”

Aizawa would have liked to see the villain try to fight under the same conditions, but he kept his comments to himself. If he could just keep the villain distracted… “Is that what this is about? The reason you took Midoriya? Because I can guarantee I haven’t killed anyone.”

Hizashi froze in the center of the room, his expression twisted in a frown Aizawa had never seen on his friend’s face before. Aizawa staggered towards him again as he tried to stand up straight, a quick flick of his wrist loosening his scarves. Unless the villain had studied the way they looked, they wouldn’t notice the subtle difference in the way they laid around his shoulders.

“You may not have done it yourself, but the blood from her death is still on your hands. You were the one called in, and it was your quirk failing that got her killed.”

And just like that, Aizawa knew what incident the villain was talking about, and his blood ran cold. This was the lesson he had been trying to get his overconfident students to learn, the thing that made him believe that none of his current first years would ever make it as a pro. They saw the glory and the fame, but couldn’t understand that there were actual consequences for their actions. That real lives could be at stake every time they responded to a call, and all it took was a moment for a situation to spiral out of control.

“Ito Atsuko. You’re doing this because of Ito Atsuko?” It wasn’t uncommon for Aizawa to get called in on hostage situations, his quirk was ideal for resolving things without conflict, but that didn’t mean that everything always went as planned.

“Good. You remember her. Does the guilt from knowing you caused her death keep you up at night, Eraserhead? I hope it does. It’s the least you deserve for what you did.”

Aizawa’s grip on his scarves tightened. “What happened that day wasn’t anyone’s fault except for the villain who killed her. Pro heroes can’t control everything that happens. Villains are unpredictable. There was no way for us to know that would happen. I’m sorry about Ito-san’s death, but the person responsible for that has already been caught.”

“If you had gotten there sooner, that never would have happened.” The voice crackled through the speakers. Hizashi swayed where he stood, the movement making Aizawa’s already dizzy head spin. He stumbled again, the floor feeling like it was shifting under him, as he inched closer.

“I came as soon as I got the call.” Aizawa said, his words forced out between heavy breaths. “I’m sorry about Ito-san’s death, but there was nothing we could do. There was no way for us to know his quirk had already compromised the system.”

“Not good enough.”

The second Hizashi moved, his chest lifting as he prepared to take a breath, Aizawa reacted, his scarves quickly closing the distance between them. The villain, unable to take advantage of Hizashi’s usual reaction time, did nothing and in seconds Hizashi was bound, the bands criss crossing over his mouth.

Aizawa almost lost his balance again as he rushed forward to catch Hizashi before he hit the ground. Footsteps echoed on the overhead ramp again, the villain running now that his distraction had been cut short. Hizashi still seemed out of it, but overall he seemed to be unharmed, and Aizawa moved him carefully to the side of the room, leaning him up against the wall. He wasn’t sure whether Hizashi would remember anything that happened when he woke, but at least the fact that he was wrapped in Aizawa’s scarves would keep him from panicking. No one else could figure them out but him.

With Hizashi secure, Aizawa headed towards the door at the other end of the room. The floor still felt as though it was shifting under his feet, the pain in his head increasing with every second, but he couldn’t stop to catch his breath.

Midoriya was waiting for him.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” the man said, which Izuku thought was pretty ridiculous of him considering he was the one who had knocked them unconscious and kidnapped them only a few hours earlier. He said as much.

“That’s fair, I suppose,” he replied. “My name is Asahi, by the way. And like I told you earlier, I didn’t want you to be involved. Kids being in dangerous situations is what started this whole mess, and unlike my brother I can see the hypocrisy in what we’re doing.”

“Do you mean that, or are you just saying that because your quirk won’t work as well on us a second time?” Kacchan asked, and Izuku looked at him surprised. He had guessed that that was the case- a quirk like that had to have some kind of limit- but he hadn’t expected Kacchan to pick up on it as well. Kacchan saw his surprised reaction, glaring at him as he snapped, “I notice things!”

“I mean it. I never should have told Rave about Aizawa meeting with you. It’s not your fault Rave blames your dad for Atsuko’s death.”

“This again, seriously?” Kacchan said.

“Then why go along with it?” Izuku asked, speaking over him. He didn’t drop the stance he had taken at the man’s appearance, and he could feel Bakugou standing behind him, still just as tense.

“Because Rave has a reason to be angry, and if I didn’t go along with his plan he would have done it anyway. At least this way, I have some way to minimize the damage done to people who aren’t involved.”

“And Eraserhead?” Kacchan asked. “You have no problem with him trying to kill a fucking pro hero? Are you stupid?”

“Watch your fucking language, kid.” Asahi said, pointing at him over Izuku’s head. “And didn’t I just say that Rave has a reason for being angry? He didn’t just up and decide to target Eraserhead one day.”

Kacchan gritted his teeth, and Izuku knew he was second away from firing off an explosion at Asahi whether Izuku was in the way or not. “Are you going to tell us what the hell his problem is, or are you going to keep dancing around the subject? Because if not you need to get out of our way.”

Asahi sighed. “What do you think I’m doing? Now shut up and listen.”

Bakugou and Izuku exchanged a look. Did they want to know why they had been taken? Yes. But in the long run, did it really matter? No. It wouldn’t change the fact that they had been kidnapped, and knowing the reason they were trying to kill Aizawa wouldn’t stop them.

“We had gone to the mall together,” Asahi started, looking away from them as he remembered. “Me, Rave, and our younger sister, Atsuko.”

Izuku trusted Aizawa, and nothing Asahi could say would make him change his mind.

“We had just gone to get coffee, catch up-”

Asahi’s words were cut off as Izuku darted forward, and in what seemed to Bakugou as one smooth movement his fist collided with the older man’s throat as he was knocked off his feet.

Bakugou stared. “What the actual fuck, Deku?” He asked. The hit had come so quickly Bakugou had barely realized what was happening before it was over. Asahi laid on the ground at his feet, his hands at his neck as he coughed, gasping as he tried to breath.

Izuku turned to him then, the fierce expression on his face stopping him in his tracks. “We don’t have time for this. We need to find Aizawa-sensei, now.”

Bakugou was still looking at him wide-eyed, his mouth hanging open in shock.

“Kacchan!” Izuku said.

A crash, the grinding sound of metal on metal.


Izuku couldn’t see him, but he would recognize that voice anywhere.

Aizawa Shouta had arrived.

Chapter Text

Piles of boxes stood between Aizawa and Izuku, but just knowing that his teacher had arrived allowed the tension he had been feeling to lift. “We’re over here!” Izuku called, Aizawa finding them faster outweighing the risk of Rave knowing where they were hidden.

Bakugou moved quickly as Izuku spoke, binding Asahi’s hands behind his back with the gym shirt he had taken from Izuku’s bag. It wouldn’t last long, but they only needed time for Aizawa to make his way across the room. As soon as the villain was secure, the boys took off towards the sound of Aizawa’s voice. Rave was still somewhere in the building, and if Aizawa had heard their response then Rave mostly likely would have as well.

“Hurry up, Kacchan!” Izuku said. They rounded another corner, and Izuku hoped that they were taking the same path as Aizawa, but they couldn’t afford to stand around with Rave still out there.

“What was that, fucking Deku?” Came the reply, but Izuku didn’t answer, stopping so abruptly that Bakugou slammed into him sending Izuku sprawling across the hard concrete floor.

Rave stood in front of them, blocking their only path forward. Aizawa was nowhere in sight. “Ah, Midoriya-kun. And the extra.” His voice wavered slightly.

“Who are you calling an extra, asshole?” Bakugou huffed, as he pulled Izuku roughly to his feet without looking at him.

The villain looked different from the last time they had seen him. His skin peaked, his hair in disarray, Rave looked nothing like the confidant man who had stood before them only an hour ago, boasting about the plans he had made for Aizawa.

Izuku did nothing to stop the grin that spread at the sight. Aizawa had clearly gotten to him, somehow. Rave was beginning to understand the magnitude of the mistake he had made.

“Eraserhead is here. You should give up now, before you make things worse.” Izuku knew what he sounded like, repeating words that he had heard so many times in old superhero movies, but just behind Rave a shadow seemed to move.

With Asahi, Izuku had needed him to shut up. Rave needed to keep talking.

“Why would I give up?” Rave countered, the low light glinting across his face. “This was what I had planned all along. One pro hero out of commision, the other severely injured. I admitted that I had only counted on one hostage, but all plans must have a flaw somewhere.”
One hero out of commision. What exactly did he mean by that? It couldn’t be Aizawa, they had just heard his voice. So did that mean that Izuku had been right and that Present Mic had come along too? And severely injured? Maybe Rave was just exaggerating, trying to unsettle them, but Izuku felt his stomach drop at the words all the same.

“Let him fight.” Bakugou said, glancing at Izuku. So he had seen it too then. “We don’t need some pro hero to save us. Way he looks now, one explosion and I’d have this whole thing taken care of.”

“I don’t know, Kacchan.” Izuku replied slyly. If Aizawa really had been injured, the only thing he could do to help was keep Rave distracted. “I think he could take maybe two. At the most. If they were small, of course.”

Rave opened his mouth to speak, sneering, but Izuku continued.

“Aren’t you concerned about your brother? He tried to stop us a few yards that way,” Izuku said, pointing over his shoulder. “Tried to tell us your villain origin story. We didn’t get to hear the whole thing, but what ever happened I’m pretty sure it doesn’t justify kidnapping and attempted murder.”

“Oi, Deku.” Bakugou’s hands started to smoke as he spoke. “You got to take out the last guy. This one is mine.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourselves, boys. I’m still the one in control here.” Rave snapped, lifting a small tube to his mouth. Did that have something to do with his quirk? Izuku couldn’t be sure but he readied himself just in case. “I had planned on waiting for Eraserhead, but it will be so much more entertaining to use this now. He may have had no problems fighting against Present Mic in the end, but I don’t think he’ll have the same resolve fighting-”

Scarves shot from the shadows, cutting Rave off as they circled over his mouth before criss crossing their way down until he fell to the floor with a thud.

“Aizawa-sensei!” Izuku said, and rushed forward as his teacher stepped into the light.

“Midoriya, are you okay?” Aizawa asked, glaring down at the bound villain with disdain.

Instead of answering, Izuku threw himself at the pro hero, wrapping him up in a tight hug. Aizawa stumbled as he looked down at Izuku in shock, his arms hanging awkwardly at his sides. What had happened while Midoriya had been captured for him to greet him like this? And more importantly, what was he supposed to do know?

The longer Izuku hugged him, the more Aizawa felt like he needed to do something in response, and so he slowly lifted his arms to return the hug. Izuku’s grip tighten, and then suddenly he was letting go, filling Aizawa in on what had happened while they were held hostage.

“Are you okay? Rave said you had been hurt badly.” Izuku fretted, looking over his teacher in concern, reminding Bakugou once again how similar Izuku and his mother really were.

He watched them from a few feet away, his eyes narrowed at the scene. So this was the hero that had been training Deku? He didn’t look like much, but from what little he had pieced together during this whole mess, that might have been the point. If Bakugou had passed him in the street out of uniform he wouldn’t have paid him a second glance.

Aizawa Shouta looked scruffy and tired, dark bruises highlighting his eyes. He wavered on his feet as Deku spoke to him in a quiet but excited voice, glancing quickly at Bakugou as Deku talked as if he were making sure that he was also unharmed.

Whatever Bakugou had been expecting from Deku’s secret teacher, Aizawa wasn’t it.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa said slowly. “You and…”


“You and Bakugou need to head back to the room at the other end of this hall. Present Mic is there tied up in one of my scarves. You need to get him loose and let him deal with the villains. He should be well enough to help now.”

Izuku frowned. “What about you?”

“If he doesn’t remember what happened, tell him I hit my head. I’ll explain later.”

“Aizawa-sensei?” Izuku asked, his voice cracking in his panic as the hero slumped over unconscious. “Kacchan, help me!”

“Can’t handle something like this one your own?” Bakugou snapped, although he moved towards them, pulling one of Aizawa’s arms over his shoulder. “I thought that was what all that secret training was about? You can punch villains in the throat, but not take care of someone who passed out? Fucking useless as always.” But his words lacked some of their usual bite.

Izuku rolled his eyes. “Just come help me. Hopefully Present Mic will be okay like he said. We need to get Aizawa-sensei to a doctor.”

Present Mic had recovered from whatever Rave had done to him by the time they managed to shuffled to the other room, Aizawa propped up between them, although he hadn’t been able to get free of Aizawa’s scarves’ hold.

Izuku struggled with the bands, his hands shaking as he tried to get them untangled, sending Aizawa nervous looks whenever his hands would falter. He had been calm throughout the entire ordeal, through kidnappings and villain attacks, but the sight of his unconscious teacher had him more rattled than anything else. A

Aizawa had passed out, and Izuku might not know a lot about medical things, but he knew that that couldn’t be good. Blood had dripped from the pro hero’s face onto Izuku’s shoulder as he and Bakugou had carried him. It was only then that he had noticed the smear of red across Aizawa’s face, the blood matting his hair. Head injuries were serious on a normal basis, but if Aizawa had actually fought like that? No wonder he had passed out, and the sooner they got him to a doctor the better.

Which meant that Izuku needed to get Present Mic free.

“Oh, let me do it, stupid Deku,” Bakugou said, pushing him out of the way before grabbing a handful of the the scarves’ overlapping bands where they were the thickest across Present Mic’s chest. Hizashi’s eyes widened, still unable to speak, as he waited to see what the middle schooler was going to do.

“Kacchan, I don’t think-”

“Just let me handle this!”

Izuku didn’t have time to protest further as the smell of smoke rose and the echo of an explosion filled the room. Wincing on instinct, he waited for Present Mic’s reaction, but nothing came.

Bakugou held the remains of the strands in his hands, and Present Mic, uninjured from the blast, pulled at the material covering his mouth.

“Thanks for that, kid!” He said, shooting him a thumbs up when he fabric finally came free. “And you must be Midoriya Izuku! Nice to finally meet you! But what happened to Eraserhead?”

Present Mic moved to stand uncertainly, the feeling slowly returning to his legs.

“Do you remember how you got tied up?” Izuku asked.

“I remember us getting here. There was a villain somewhere in the upper railing? But then nothing after that.” He had been trying to figure out why he had been bound in Aizawa’s scarves since he woke up, but everything that happened once they entered the warehouse was blank.

“Aizawa-sensei said that if you didn’t remember to tell you that he hit his head and that he would explain later. One of the villains is tied up a few yards away from here. The other is a little ways further back.”

“What first aid I know isn’t going to go make a difference here. We need to get him to Recovery Girl.” Kneeling beside Aizawa, Present Mic turned to Izuku. “You said both of the villains were tied up?”

Izuku nodded quickly, hovering over Aizawa.

“I called the police on the way here to explain the situation. They should be here any minute. You two stay here, watch over him. I’ll go grab those villains and bring them in here. If the police aren’t here by the time that’s done well… We don’t have the time to hang around. I’ll shoot them a quick message before we head out, let them know it’s an emergency.”

“And Midoriya-kun? He’ll be okay.”

The police weren’t there when Present Mic returned, but he didn’t seemed concerned about that as he helped Izuku carry Aizawa to his car.

“Happens all the time in more remote areas,” he explained. “I made sure that both of them were secure. They aren’t going anywhere until the police get here, and Shouta and I can submit our reports later.”

There wasn’t room for both of Izuku and Bakugou in the front, so Izuku volunteered to sit in the back, Aizawa leaning up against him. The bleeding had stopped finally, but Aizawa still hadn’t woken yet, and the more time that passed the more nervous Izuku got.

“What if the injury is too severe? He had been bleeding a lot, but head injuries always bleed a lot. Should he have been unconscious this long? I don’t know how long it’s been since he passed out, but he probably has a concussion, and I think I read somewhere that you aren’t supposed to let someone with a concussion sleep for a certain period after? Why didn’t I think to read more medical books before now? Injuries happen all the time as a pro hero. I need to be able to handle the most basic things at least, although this isn’t exactly a simple injury.”

Present Mic turned to Bakugou as Izuku continued to mumble. “Does he do this all the time?” He asked.

Bakugou twisted in his seat to glance at Izuku. “Every single fucking day.”

The corner of Present Mic’s mouth twitched. “Huh.”

The ride from the warehouse back to the main part of the city seemed much longer than Izuku had expected, although he didn’t know whether to contribute that to the fact that he and Bakugou had been asleep for the first trip out or because of his concern for Aizawa he didn’t know. Present Mic already drove faster than the speed limit, and yet Izuku wished he would go faster.

“That had to have been the worst revenge plan I have ever seen,” Bakugou said, his voice dripping with annoyance. “I didn’t even get to do anything.”

“You should be glad for that, you know.” Present Mic responded. “Even though it was resolved fairly quickly, Shouta has a serious head injury, and I can’t remember anything that led to it. It could have been a lot worse than it was. I noticed that one of the villains was tied up in a t shirt. How did you stop him?”

“Deku punched him in the throat while the asshole tried to tell us he was justified in kidnapping us. Didn’t even let him finish talking,” Bakugou grumbled. “Should have just let me take care of it, the idiot.”

“I handled it just fine!” Izuku protested.


“He means me,” Izuku said with a sigh. Even after all those years, the nickname still stung every time he heard it.

“Interesting choice for a hero name, but I guess it is a little ironic. Proving everyone wrong by becoming a hero anyway.” Present Mic allowed.

“It’s not really-”

“Where are we going to take him?” Bakugou interrupted.

“Recovery Girl should still be on campus. She stays late incase anyone getting in after school training gets hurts. Taking him to Yuuei will probably be the fastest way to get him help.”
Izuku fidgeted in his seat. He had dreamed of one day setting foot on Yuuei’s campus. Of walking through those gates and seeing the place that had been responsible for teaching so many of the country’s most successful heros. No one outside of students and staff were allowed on campus outside of the sports festival, and Izuku knew he would never be able to get one of those heavily sought after tickets. He had long ago resolved himself with the knowledge that if was ever going to get a firsthand view of the famous school it would only be as a student, and yet here he was.

He wished it could have been under any other circumstances but this.

The image of the school appeared as they turned another corner, the two tallest building just visible over in the distance. A warmth spread in his chest at the sight. This was what he was training for. This was his dream and-

Aizawa stirred, and Izuku’s eyes dropped to his teacher, worried, but the pro hero still didn’t wake. They crossed onto campus through the back gates, Present Mic passing Bakugou his phone.

“Call Recovery Girl. Speed Dial 2. Tell her Eraserhead is hurt and to hurry.”

It was only now that they had reached the school, hearing the distress in Present Mic’s voice, that Izuku realized just how much the hero had been holding it together for their sakes. For Izuku’s sake. But now that they had arrived, help just moments away, the he couldn’t stop his own worry from showing as he fumbled to get out of the car when they parked.

“Midoriya-kun, help me carry him towards that door. We aren’t far from Recovery Girl’s office. She should meet us on the way with a stretcher.”

Izuku did as he said without comment. How could he have been so insensitive? Here Izuku was worrying over Aizawa, and he had only really known him for a month. It was obvious to anyone who paid attention to Aizawa-and Izuku had done his research before he approached him- that Present Mic was the man’s best friend. Of course he would be worried about him just as much, if not more so. Izuku would make it up to him when he got they knew that Aizawa would be okay.

Just as Present Mic had said, Recovery Girl met them not long after they entered the building. She took one look at him, and then gestured for them to put him on the stretcher hurriedly. “What happened?”

“We don’t know exactly, but he said he hit his head.”

“That much is obvious.” Recovery Girl replied. “Are any other rest of you injured?”

“No.” Izuku said. Bakugou shook his head.

“I’m having a bit of a memory problem, but I think it’s the side effect of a quirk. Take care of Shouta first.”

“I’ll be looking over all of you when I’m done with him,” Recovery Girl huffed as they followed her into her office. “This shouldn’t take me long. Wait out here until I’m done.” She started off towards her surgical room, but stopped at the looks on Present Mic’s and Izuku’s faces. “And you did good getting him here when you did. He’ll be okay. Just give me time.” And then she was gone, the door closing loudly behind her.

Izuku, about to collapse into one of the waiting chairs, froze when he heard a voice he wasn’t familiar with speak from across the room.

“That will give us a little time to talk then.” It said, and Izuku turned. He had never seen the person sitting at what must have been Recovery Girl’s desk in person before, but it would have been impossible not to recognize him.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Midoriya Izuku,” said Principal Nedzu, his hands folded neatly in front of him. “I’ve heard nothing about you.”

Chapter Text

“Do you drink tea, Midoriya-kun?”

Izuku jumped at the question, turning towards Present Mic as if he had the answers before stammering,“”

Nedzu laughed, the sound edged in steel, but his eyes didn’t move from Izuku’s face. “That wasn’t a trick question, Midoriya-kun. I seem to have a weakness for it myself.” He made a sweeping gesture at the seat in from of Recovery Girl’s desk. “Why don’t you have a seat and share a pot with me.”

Aizawa had seemed intimidating the first time Izuku had shown up at his door, but that was nothing compared to the feeling he had as Nedzu watched him, waiting for him to answer. His skin crawled, the feeling that Nedzu was somehow able to pick him apart with just his stare and a smile increasing with every second that ticked by.

“Shouldn’t you wait for Shouta to have this conversation?” Present Mic asked, the waver in his voice doing nothing to calm Izuku’s own worries.

“I have some things I would like to discuss with just Midoriya-kun first,” Nedzu responded just as calmly as before. “But don’t worry. Aizawa-sensei and I will be have a conversation of our own once Recovery Girl has cleared him, and he’s gotten some rest. Head injuries are nasty things, and we wouldn’t want to do anything to disrupt his recovery. Now while Midoriya-kun and I are having our discussion, why don’t you take Bakugou-kun to the teachers’ lounge. There should be some leftover food there, and he can call his parents and let them know he’s okay. I’ll see about getting them home as soon as we’re done here.”

It was a testament to the finality in Nedzu’s voice that Bakugou didn’t argue with being sent away. He simply shot Izuku another look, letting him know that he wouldn’t be forgetting that Izuku had promised a better explanation, before allowing Present Mic to lead him from the room without a word.

When the door clicked closed behind them, Izuku turned hesitantly towards Nedzu who was still watching him, hands crossed, at the desk. “Now why don’t you take a seat, Midoriya-kun, and we can get this over with. I’m sure your mother is very worried about you. The sooner we have you back home, the better.”

“Yes, sir,” was all that Izuku could say under the weight of Nedzu’s stare and he moved slowly towards the chair. Nedzu didn’t speak when Izuku sat, and he shifted in his seat as the principal turned away from him at last to prepare their drinks, his movements slow. Deliberate. It was almost as nerve wracking as his stare, and by the time Izuku had a steaming cup of tea in front of him he felt like the nerves building in his throat would choke him.
Nedzu wrapped his hands around his own cup, his gaze shifting back to Izuku. “You are in your second year of middle school, are you not?”

“How did you know that?”

“The teachers here sometimes forget, but because they aren’t active heroes full time I am made aware anytime one of them is involved in an incident,” Nedzu paused to test his drink, his face scrunching when he decided that is was still too hot. “I can a call the moment the police were informed about your kidnapping.”

“They thought Aizawa-sensei was my dad,” Izuku found himself saying. “That’s why they took me.”

“Not all villains can be evil geniuses.” Nedzu replied with a shrug. “And a good thing for the pro heroes that they aren’t.”

Izuku twisted his cup on the saucer. “That’s what Present Mic said.”

“He’s a smart man. There’s a reason I recruited him to teach here, after all. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Are you going to tell Aizawa-sensei that he can’t train me anymore?” Izuku asked, surprising himself with how flat the words sounded when he spoke. His grip on the cup tighten. Izuku knew that Aizawa hadn’t advertised the fact that he had taken on a student outside of Yuuei, but he had never really sat down and considered what would have happened if he had. He hadn’t known Aizawa very long, but he trusted him. Respected him. What would he do if he couldn’t see the hero on a regular basis anymore?

The time before his training with Aizawa began seemed like a lifetime away. Incompetent though they were, Izuku had been kidnapped by villains and escaped, had fought one of them and won. His dream wasn’t the unattainable thing it had been before he decided to find Aizawa, and with each training session, with each skill he added to his repertoire, he felt closer to making that dream a reality. If Nedzu put an end to their sessions, would Izuku be able to adjust to the way things had been before? He didn’t want to know the answer either way.

“I should. You aren’t a student at Yuuei, and you’ve already been target by villains because of your association with Aizawa. As the principal of Yuuei, it is my job to take responsibility for my teachers actions, and yet I had no idea that you even existed until tonight.” Nedzu paused to pour himself another cup of tea. “For all of these reasons, I should stop this before it gets out of hand.”

Izuku opened his mouth to protest, unsure of what exactly he could say to change Nedzu’s mind, when the principal’s wording caught up to him. “You should?”

“Drink your tea, Midoriya-kun,” Nedzu said in answer.

Izuku hurried to drain his cup, the liquid burning down his throat. Nedzu poured him another cup as well.

“Right. I should. But I’m curious.” Nedzu’s eyes narrowed in Izuku as he leaned forward. “You are quirkless, are you not?”

“I am.”

“Hmm. And do you know anything about Aizawa-sensei’s reputation here at Yuuei, Midoriya-kun?”

Izuku shook his head. “I heard that he was a tough teacher, and he is, but I spent more time tracking down his apartment than I did talking to his students.”

The calm expression on Nedzu’s face slipped. “Tracking down his apartment?”

“That’s how I was able to ask him to teach me,” Izuku explained.

“We’ll...We’ll come back to that,” Nedzu said finally, taking a long drink from his cup. “What I meant by that was, do you know the reputation Aizawa-sensei has for expelling his students?”

“He has a reputation for expelling students?” Aizawa expected a lot from his students, and when they had first started meeting he had made it clear that if he ever felt Izuku wasn’t working to his full potential then the sessions would end, but Izuku had thought that was only because he wasn’t one of his students at Yuuei.

“In the time he has been a teacher here, Aizawa-sensei has expelled over one hundred students. In fact, he just put in a proposal for the expulsion of most of his current freshman homeroom. Now we don’t just expel these students because he asks, of course. Each case is reviewed by myself and several other teachers before going through, but not a single recommendation made by him has been overturned.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Izuku asked.

“Because I want you to understand that I trust Aizawa-sensei’s ability to see potential or lack thereof in his students. In each of those cases, Aizawa-sensei was right. Those students were not taking the program as seriously as they should have. It would have only been a matter of time before their actions led to injuries to themselves or their fellow students. If he sees enough potential in you to train you himself then I will trust his judgement. And that is why, although I should put a stop to these lessons, I will allow them to continue.”

Izuku had been so sure that Nedzu would tell them to stop that when he didn’t Izuku wasn’t sure how to respond. He stared at Nedzu open mouthed as he struggled to find his voice.

“Of course there will be paperwork that needs to be done, but we can worry about that once I have had my talk with your mentor. Now let’s back up here for a moment,” Nedzu said. “You mentioned going to Aizawa’s apartment.”

“Like you said, I’m quirkless, but I still want to be a pro hero,” Izuku answered slowly. “I like to keep track of people’s quirks. Outline the mechanics of how they might work, their strengths, their limitations, things like that. When I was looking at how Aizawa-sensei fights I realized that, in a way, he was like me. His quirk puts him on an even playing field with his opponent, and at that point it’s a matter of who has better training outside of their quirk. I might not be able to nullify other people’s quirks the way he can, but I thought, if I could take what I already did analyzing people’s quirks and get better at it...If Aizawa-sensei could teach me how to fight like he did…”

“You could still be a hero,” Nedzu finished. “I have to say, I’m impressed with your reasoning. I hadn’t looked at his quirk like that before.”

Izuku shifted in his seat at the praise, looking away from Nedzu’s sharp gaze. “I knew that I needed to do something big to make sure he didn’t say no before I could finish my pitch. So I showed up at his apartment.”

“His apartment that no one outside of a few trusted friends even knows exist,” Nedzu laughed. “Yes, I can see how that would keep him from simply slamming the door in your face.”

“And then I showed him the notes that I kept and he agreed.”

Nedzu picked up his drink again, still chuckling. “I think we can expect great things from you, Midoriya Izuku. I look forward to seeing what you can make of this opportunity.”

Izuku didn’t get to see Aizawa again before he left.

“He’s asleep right now, and I’m not planning on waking him until I have to,” Recovery Girl said when she returned just as Izuku was finishing his second cup of tea. “I’ll need to keep him here tonight, but he’ll be free to leave in the morning. I’m sure you’ll hear from him then.”

There had been no arguing with the stern set to her eyes, and Izuku had allowed himself to be led to the teacher’s lounge where Present Mic and Bakugou were waiting. After a quick scan, Recovery Girl cleared them to leave, and Present Mic had volunteered to drop the boys off. Nedzu had seen them off with the promise that he would be sending the paperwork Izuku would need to fill out with Aizawa in the morning.

The moment they were back in the quiet of the car and leaving Yuuei’s campus, Bakugou turned around in his seat to glare at Izuku. “Answers, Deku. Now. I want an explanation.”

“Not now, Kacchan,” Izuku answered without looking at him. Now that he knew that Aizawa would be okay and that Nedzu wouldn’t be ending their training sessions all Izuku wanted to do was get something to eat and go to sleep. “It’s a long story and I’m tired. I’ll tell you later.”

“You promised me answers,” Bakugou growled. “I did just get kidnapped because of this.”

“I never said when,” Izuku yawned. “And you got to fight a villain. Really, you should be thanking me for the opportunity the threat to my life gave you.”

Present Mic hummed from the front seat. “I’m beginning to see why you and Shouta get along, Midoriya.”


“Let him rest until we get back to your street, Bakugou-kun,” Present Mic interrupted. “You two have been through a lot tonight. Answers can wait until you’ve both had a good night’s sleep.”

The rest of the car ride passed in silence, Bakugou grumbling but not arguing with what the pro hero had said. When they pulled up in front of his house Present Mic got out to walk Bakugou to the door. He must have taken Nedzu up on the chance to call his parents because the door swung open when they were only halfway up the steps, and Bakugou Mitsuki tackled her son, ignoring his struggling as she pulled him in for a hug. Izuku could see her say something to Present Mic, and then the hero was smiling, making his way back towards the car.

Izuku moved to take the now vacant seat in the front, and then they were pulling away, Bakugou still fighting his mother’s hold on the front stoop.
“Izuku!” He barely had the door open before he heard his mother’s voice and found himself wrapped up in a hug of his own. “Are you okay? What happened?”

“I’m okay, Mom,” he said, returning her hug as Present Mic stepped in behind them.

“The people who took him have been turned over to the police. It seems Bakugou Katsuki was also taken, but neither of them were hurt, and I’ve dropped Bakugou off at his house already.”

“And Aizawa-san?” She asked, not letting Izuku go.

“Minor concussion, but Recovery Girl took care of him. With her quirk he’ll be fine by the morning. He’ll probably come straight here once he’s given the okay to leave.”

Inko released Izuku long enough to pull Present Mic in as well. “Thank you for saving him.”

“No thanks necessary,” he said, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I’m glad I finally got to meet Shouta’s student, although I wish it could have been under better circumstances. We’ll have to talk again later, kid. I’ve got some stories about Shouta’s early hero days that I’m sure you’ll appreciate.”


“Of course!” Present Mic winked. “But if he asked, you didn’t hear them from me! Now I’ll let you rest. I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.”

When the door closed behind him Inko dragged her son to the kitchen, pushing him towards a chair while she fretted. “I’m sure you’re hungry. I mean I know it’s late, but you missed dinner, and then there was the stress from everything that happened! I was so worried, Izuku! So worried! Tell me everything that happened while you eat! Unless you don’t want to eat, I’m just assuming that you’re hungry. Are you hungry?”

“Yeah, Mom,” Izuku answered, smiling as she hurried to put something together. “Dinner sounds great.”

Aizawa arrived early the next morning, a cup of coffee in one hand, a thick stack of papers in the other. It was only that fact that kept Izuku from tackling him again the moment he realized who was at the door.

“I can’t thank you enough for going to save him, Aizawa-san,” Inko said when they were all seated at the kitchen table just as she and Izuku had done the night before.

“They were after me in the first place,” Aizawa answered, pulling at the scarves that were once again wrapped around his shoulders. “I should be apologizing for getting him involved. If I had been more careful-”

“It was not your fault.” Inko’s voice hardened. “And I don’t want to hear you blame yourself for what happened again. Everyone’s okay now, and they were arrested. Do not put that burden on yourself.” She glanced at Izuku and then back to Aizawa, smiling. “The way I look at it, you’ve probably kept him out of danger these past few weeks by keeping him from tracking down villain fights on his own. Let’s just leave the blame with the people actually responsible.”

Aizawa looked away. “If you’re sure-”

“I am.”

“Right.” Aizawa cleared his throat, gesturing to the stack of papers laid out on the table in front of him. “I hadn’t mentioned that I was training Midoriya at Yuuei because I wanted his accomplishments to be his own, but now that Principal Nedzu has been made aware of the situation if these lessons are to continue we need to make them official.”

“If?” Izuku asked. Did Aizawa not want to teach him anymore after what had happened?

“I told you before we began that we would only move forward with your mother’s permission,” Aizawa explained. “Given the incident yesterday and this paperwork, I need to make sure that you are still okay with this, Midoriya-san.”

Izuku turned to his mother, eyes wide. He had seen how nervous she had been last night. If Izuku continued with his training and got accepted to Yuuei he would be in a lot more dangerous situations in the future.

“You don’t have to look at me so concerned, Izuku. I know this is your dream. I may not like the fact that you could get hurt doing this, but it isn’t my place to stand in the way of something that means so much to you.” She gave him a watery smile. “Of course you may continue learning from Aizawa-san. Now what kind of paperwork has Nedzu-san sent us?”

“Recommendation registration of Yuuei happens much earlier than normal registration, and all of the first year slots for Midoriya’s year have already been filled, but Principal Nedzu has decided to create another one. One this paperwork is submitted, he will be conditionally accepted to the hero course, giving me permission as his mentor to train with him outside of my role as a teacher at Yuuei. When the official entrance exam rolls around he will have to pass the academic part as well as attend a demonstration for Nedzu and a few other teachers on the admissions board.”

Izuku had to have heard that wrong. There was no way. “Recommendation?”

Aizawa shrugged. “I was going to ask anyway, but whatever you said to Nedzu impressed him. He made the suggestion before I could.”

“Izuku!” His mother cried. “How exciting!”

“We still have a long way to go with your training before then, so don’t think that you can slack off because of this. The acceptance is only conditional. You still have to pass the final demonstration, and I won’t have some slacker get in under my name. We have a lot of work to do still, Midoriya.”

Izuku grinned. “When can we start?”

Bakugou hadn’t wanted to hear anything but an explanation from Deku when he approached him, but the message his classmate had brought him from the pro hero that had come to save him made him pause. Deku had seemed happy as he passed along the note, not at all like someone who had finally realized the uselessness of his goal. Maybe knocking that Asahi guy out had gone to his head, or maybe he was too stupid to realize what the pro hero meeting with Bakugou meant, but either way he didn’t care.

Eraserhead wanted to speak to him, and Bakugou wasn’t about to let a chance like that pass.

The warehouse he had been directed to sat at the edge of the city, and from the outside it didn’t look like much, old but well maintained siding making each building as forgettable as the next, and the doors screeched a high pitched metal on metal sound as he slid them apart to step inside.

Along the far wall sat several exercise mats, a rack of weights, and a row of other equipment. He could see where the room split off into another part of the warehouse down the hallway, the set up just like the one at the warehouse he and Deku had been taken to just a few nights before. Aizawa wasn’t there. Maybe he would just poke around a bit, get a hint at what Deku had been up to here, and-

“Don’t touch my stuff.”

Bakugou spun around at the hero’s monotoned voice, arms flailing as he tried to keep from falling over. “Deku told me you wanted to see me.” He said calmly, trying to maintain whatever impression the pro had of him before he almost fell on his face.

“Deku?” Aizawa repeated, and for a moment Bakugou felt sure that his eyes had flashed red. “I’m not familiar with that name.”

“Uh-” For once Bakugou was speechless as the slow realization of the mistake he might have just made crept up his spine. “I mean-”

“Have a seat, Bakugou,” Aizawa said. “I think it’s time we have a talk.”

Chapter Text

Bakugou prided himself on that fact that he wasn’t easily intimidated. Why would he ever give that kind of control over himself to someone else? He was a future pro hero, the best in his school. He had no reason to be afraid, because no matter what happened, no matter what kind of trouble he found himself in, he wouldn’t lose.

That being said, the look Aizawa gave him from across the lone table in the warehouse made his skin crawl.

His first impression of the pro hero had been right, it seemed. The scruffiness that Bakugou had assumed had been a result of the fight Aizawa had been in along with the severe concussion remained, the dark circles lining his eyes just as dark. Scarves that Bakugou had last seen wrapped tightly around the villain who had kidnapped him were draped loosely around his shoulders.

All in all, he didn’t look like much. Surely not like the image of pro heroes Bakugou had created in his head over the years. Heroes like All Might or Endeavor who wore their strength for the world to see. So why did Bakugou want Aizawa do something, say something, anything other than continue to stare at him, eyes narrowed, from across the table? Why did he feel frozen in his seat under the pro hero’s icy gaze?

“I asked you to come here because Midoriya said he promised you an explanation, and I owed you an apology for your involvement with those villains.” Bakugou wished he could say he didn’t start at the sound of Aizawa’s voice. “But you have reminded me of another issue that needs to be addressed.”

Bakugou huffed. Of course Deku would somehow manage to ruin his opportunity to talk to a pro hero one on one. There were so many things he wanted to ask- about training, and Yuuei, and what it was like to be a pro- and here they were talking about Deku. Fucking typical.

“Do you have a problem with that?” Aizawa asked, an eyebrow lifting at the question.

Bakugou shook his head quickly.

Aizawa leaned back in his chair, arms crossed in front of him. “You don’t understand why I agreed to train Midoriya, do you?” He asked.

“He’s quirkless.” Bakugou answered, swallowing the insults that threatened to slip out. No matter what else Bakugou thought of his classmate, the fact that Deku didn’t have a quirk should have been explanation enough. No matter how much time Aizawa wasted on him, no matter how much training Deku got, he would never be better than Bakugou. He would never be able to become a pro hero.

Deku spent so much of his time hunched over those stupid notebooks of his, writing down every single thing he could about quirks, deluding himself into thinking that he could make up for what he lacked in physical abilities if he was smart enough. It was ridiculous to think otherwise. If Deku were to really try to be a hero without a quirk he would alway be struggling to keep up, putting out ten times the energy as someone with a quirk to accomplish the same thing and still falling short of their results every single time.

Bakugou couldn’t understand why a pro hero would waste his time humoring a useless student who was doomed to fail before they even started.

“Hm. Bakugou had you heard of my work before this incident?” Aizawa asked, his blank expression unchanging.

Thrown by the question, Bakugou answered without thinking. “No. I hadn’t.”

“And do you know why that is?” Aizawa reach up to pull on the goggles that hung around his neck. “Because I don’t want them to. My quirk erases the effects of other people’s quirks, but only while I’m looking at them. In order to be an effective hero, I have to maintain a low profile. Rely on skills other than just my quirk. And Midoriya Izuku noticed that.”

What was Aizawa saying, so what Deku noticed him? Noticed how he fought? Bakugou could feel the tell-tale tingling on the palms of his hands, the start of an explosion waiting to spark, and he struggled to pull his quirk back under control, seething. “What does that have to do with Deku?”

Aizawa’s mouth twitched at the word, but he continued without comment. “It matters because Midoriya was right when he said that I essentially fight without a quirk. I can stop them from using their abilities, but at that point it becomes a matter of who the better fighter is without their quirks. Midoriya may not have a quirk, but he that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the potential to be a hero. He notices things about people that no one else does, and he has an analytical mind unlike any other student I have ever taught.”

As Aizawa spoke, Bakugou burned. How did he not understand? He was a pro hero! He shouldn’t be saying this! Of course Deku’s potential as a hero was zero. Everything that happened at the warehouse with Rave and Asahi flashed to the forefront of his thoughts. Sure Deku had managed to take out Asahi, but the villain hadn’t even used his quirk then. He had just been talking, and Deku had taken advantage of that. That didn’t mean he could be a hero, fighting against villains with quirks a hundred times more dangerous than a stupid gas that put people to sleep.

“In a fight with a real villain, Deku wouldn’t stand a chance!” Bakugou snapped, his chair tumbling to the ground behind him with a crash as he stood. “No matter how much he trains, he won’t ever be a hero. It’s not possible!”

Bakugou expected some kind of reaction from the pro. A change in his expression, anger, maybe to say that everything had been a joke, that he had just been messing with Deku this whole time by acting like the other boy’s dream was something achievable. Instead Aizawa looked from Bakugou’s smoking hands to the chair on the floor and sighed.

“Do you want to spar, Bakugou?”

Once again the words were so expected, delivered in such a bland tone, that Bakugou’s anger slipped in his surprise. “What?”

“I pulled your records, kid. You aren’t an idiot. Do. You want. To. Spar?”

He had never backed down from a challenge before, least of all a challenge for a fight, but something about the wide eyed grin that replaced Aizawa’s blank stare at the question almost made him hesitate.

“You’re on, old man.” Bakugou said, returning Aizawa’s frightening grin with one of his own.

“I’m only twenty-eight, brat. Get to the mats.”

When they reached the mats Aizawa stood in front of him, hands at his side, an air of indifference in his every movement. “Whenever you’re ready, Bakugou.”

He moved before the words were finished, closing the distance between them in seconds. Bakugou’s hands sparked, an explosion roaring to life, just as Aizawa’s eyes flashed red. The explosion fizzled out.

“I told you about my quirk. That’s not going to work.”

Aizawa was in his face before he could respond, his eyes glowing. Bakugou took a step back, his foot meeting a stand of the pro’s scarves, and the world tilted as he tripped, stumbling as Aizawa pulled the band out from under him. The mats did nothing to stop the breath from being knocked out of him when he landed hard on his back.

Scrambling, Bakugou pulled himself to his feet, anger and embarrassment coloring his cheeks in equal measure. Aizawa stood at the other end of the mats again, looking just as uninterested as before. “If all you rely on is your quirk, you’re in for a rude awakening one day, Bakugou Katsuki. Quirks are not all there is to being a hero.”

The words were delivered flat, matter of fact, and Bakugou saw red.

Quirks were everything to being a hero! You couldn’t be a hero without a strong quirk like Bakugou’s, a quirk that meant he was destined to be a hero. If quirks weren’t the most important thing, then what was?

“Then train me!” Bakugou burst out. “You said you pulled my record. You know how great my quirk is. I have so much more potential to be a hero than Deku!”

Aizawa’s eyes flashed red again. “You aren’t listening to me. I’m not going to train you. Not now.”

“Why not?” He would train Deku, but not him? What could stupid Deku have that Bakugou didn’t? He would show him. Convince him that the only student he needed was standing right in front of him.

“I don-”

Bakugou lunged, right arm swinging. He was the best. Everyone had told him so ever since his quirk manifested. All he had to do was prove it and-Aizawa caught his fist and twisted, spinning Bakugou around and pinning his arm to his back.

“I’m not saying this to hurt you,” Aizawa said behind him as Bakugou struggled to wrench his arm free. “Or because I like to beat of kids in my spare time. I’m sorry that you got dragged into that villain fight. That doesn’t mean that either Midoriya or I have to justify his training to you.”

Aizawa let him go and Bakugou stumbled at the loss of support, turning to face the pro, eyes wide.

“You think that Midoriya can’t be a hero because he doesn’t have a quirk?” Aizawa asked, the anger twisting his expression into something so unlike the blank look Bakugou had become used to. “You want to call him useless every chance you get? He can last almost five minutes at the same level I just fought you.”

The words hurt like a physical blow. “But-”

“You have potential, Bakugou,” he said, and the sudden gentleness in his voice stung almost as much as the anger. “You can be a great hero one day. But you need to learn that quirks aren’t everything. They’re abilities just like anything else, and they aren’t infallible. You’re quirk gives you an edge, but it also comes with a level of responsibility that you don’t seem to understand.”

Aizawa sighed. “Midoriya hasn’t told me a lot about his relationship with you, but it was enough that I can connect the dots. Despite all of the bullying he’s endured at your hand over the years, he still cares about. And that’s why I’m going to offer you this advice. You have a year and a half until the Yuuei entrance exam. Use this time to think about what it means to be a hero. You’ve had power over Midoriya since you were five years old. I want to to think about how you’ve used it.”

When Izuku opened the door to Aizawa, he didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t their usual training day, but Aizawa hadn’t mention anything about going to the warehouse. Apparently his homeroom had been cancelled? Aizawa hadn’t offered any details, and Izuku hadn’t asked, but given what Nedzu had told him he had a feeling he knew what happened. He wasn’t sure that made him more nervous to continue training or less.

“Would you like something to drink, Aizawa-san?” Inko asked, coming up behind Izuku. “I was just about to make tea if you have time for a cup.”

Aizawa ducked his head. “Midoriya and I have an appointment to keep, Inko-san. But I appreciate the offer.”

“And appointment?” Izuku asked. This was the first he had heard of any appointment. What kind of training were they doing then?

“It’s a surprise,” Aizawa responded, and Inko smiled softly looking between the two. She had been worried that, despite the new official status of their mentorship, Aizawa would react to the kidnapping by trying to push Izuku away. Inko hadn’t known the pro hero long, but enough time had passed for her to have learned that he didn’t always know how to handle emotional situations. Thankfully, that didn’t seem to be the case.

“Well, I’ll expect you to stay for dinner then. Yamada-san has already said yes.” Once again her tone left no room for arguments. Izuku’s chuckle cut off as Aizawa glanced his way.
Inko waved them off, and the door closed behind them leaving Aizawa with the feeling that his young student was more like his mother than he realized.

They were out of the building before Izuku spoke again. “H-How did your talk with Kacchan go?”

“I think I got through to him in the end.” Bakugou had heard him, at least. When Aizawa finished speaking, the boy had grumbled under his breath but hadn’t outright argued. Aizawa had sent him home with the promise that if Bakugou continued his treatment of Midoriya he would hear about it.

And that Bakugou had too much potential to waste because he refused to grow up.

He hadn’t been happy about it, but he had left without another word, and Aizawa had to hope that his words had some effect-both for Bakugou’s sake as well as Midoriya’s

Aizawa glanced at his young student. Izuku was looking away from him, hands in his pockets as he frowned.

“Did you do the homework I asked you for, Midoriya?” Aizawa asked, breaking through Izuku’s musing before his thoughts could drag him under.

“Of course!” Izuku responded immediately.

“And what did you find?” They turned the corner at the end of Izuku’s block and started down the next street.

“The versions I found were all fragmented, conflicting storylines that didn’t add up.”


“I’m still not sure why these comics are so hard to find. The ones without any kind of powers, sure, but plenty of the heroes had some kind of ability like a quirk. Those were definitely the easiest ones to track down, although those stories don’t match up either. I wonder if they were rebooted often? That would explain why different stories I had had different characters or powers. Or, I guess it could be that I’m just not reading it in the right order. There’s so much missing, and the records aren’t well preserved. Even the so called experts don’t have a full understanding of the complete storyline.”

The corner of Aizawa’s mouth twitched.

“While I couldn’t find a lot of information on the quirkless heroes, luckily there were a good number of the team up arcs saved, and I was able to piece some things together from that. Some of the weapons aren’t possible, of course.” Izuku continued, not seeing the smile his mentor struggled to hide as he rambled. “But even those gave me some ideas that might work outside of fiction.”

“Good. And the second part?”

“I looked into the other courses that Yuuei offers. Besides Gen Ed, both the business and support courses are extremely important after graduation. And Gen Ed students aren’t stuck in that course once they are accepted. Plenty of students have moved from one that course to the others. Even the hero course, although that’s only happened four times since Yuuei was founded. In all of those cases they had quirks that were great for hero work but weren’t really compatible with the entrance exam’s format. I wrote all of it down, and I can give it to you before you leave tonight.”

“It sounds like you spent a lot of time on it.”

Izuku bounced in place next to Aizawa as they stopped at a crosswalk, the count down flashing at them from across the street. “I know you said it’s a surprise, but can’t you give me a hint? Does it have to do with that assignment? Are we-”

“Midoriya,” Aizawa interrupted. “Let this be a surprise. Trust me.”

Turning to his mentor, Izuku’s smile once again reminded Aizawa of a certain pro hero.

“Whatever you say, Aizawa-sensei!”

They continued to walk, Izuku chattering happily about the comics he had read about, the characters he wished he could have found more information on. “Especially the one in black and blue! I saw him in a team up I found, but his name was never mentioned.”

Aizawa stopped in from of a small, brick building in the middle of the street and Midoriya, still rambling, didn’t notice until Aizawa grabbed his arm and pulled him back. The building was old, and there was no sign outside marking its purpose. Izuku stared it at in awe. The outside might have looked rundown, but if they were there instead of training than there had to be more to the building than there appeared.

“This is where our appointment is?” He asked.

Aizawa nodded, heading up the stairs, and Izuku hurried to follow him. “We’re meeting with a Yuuei alum. She graduated from the support course top of her class.”

“The support course!” All that research Aizawa had made him do on the comics and the other courses, surely they weren’t here for…The door swung open and they stepped inside. The interior looked just as dated as the exterior, but every available surface seemed to be covered in different appliances and projects. Replicas of support items used by current pro heroes hung from the ceiling, and the walls were lined with photos of the same woman smiling as she handed off gear to a bemused hero.

Suddenly a pair of neon green eyes peered out at him from a bronze face. Izuku screamed, tripping over his own feet as he tried to move away, and only Aizawa’s arm kept him from crashing into the display behind him.

“Hatsume-san. Do you have to do that every time I come by?” Aizawa asked, sighing into his hand.
“Ah, but Shouta!” The bronze masked stranger said laughing. “I’ve never managed to get you! And look! He’s such an easy target!”

“Hatsume-san. We have an appointment.”

“Fine, fine,” came the reply as Izuku attempted to breathe normally again. The mask lifted, and Izuku was faced with a woman who appeared to be the same age as his mother. Her bright pink hair was piled into a messy bun on her head, and her eyes flashed at him as she smiled, hand on hip.

“I’m Hatsume Natsumi. Welcome to my shop, little Hero-in-Training-kun.”

Chapter Text

“We can talk in my back room,” Hatsume said, still smiling at Izuku. Izuku smiled back. “Follow me, and be careful not to knock over any of my babies. I have a lot of works in progress through here, and I don’t have the time to start them over.”

Izuku quickly nodded his agreement, but following Hatsume ended up being more difficult than he had expected. The room she lead them through was a maze of tables and stacked equipment, half built tech spread out over every available surface. Hatsume danced through the stacks with ease, leaving Izuku and Aizawa to trail after her, trying to copy the path she had taken through the disarray.

The attempt was doomed from the start, but somehow Izuku made it from one end of the room to the other without destroying anything. He could count that as a win, at least.

Hatsume’s office ended up being only marginally less cluttered than the rest of her shop, and she hurried to move papers out of the two chairs in front of her low sitting metal desk before taking her own chair, spinning in it as she sat.

“Sit! Sit!” Hatsume said, leaning forward on her elbows as she looked between the pro hero and his student. “Let me see what I have to work with today.” Her eyes seemed to glow a brighter green, and Izuku shifted under her stare, his eyes cutting to his mentor to see how he was reacting to the excited gleam in Hatsume’s eyes.

Aizawa had slid down in his seat already, his scarves coming up to cover his mouth. When he spoke his words were muffled. “Is this really necessary, Hatsume? I told you all the details you needed to know when I made this appointment.”

“Spoil sport,” she responded. “I wanted to see what made the reclusive Aizawa Shouta accept a student on his own. In all the years I’ve known you, you’ve brought a student here a grand total of zero times. Excuse me for being curious as to what made little Hero-kun over here special.”

“Hatsume-san’s quirk allows her to see the general state of a person’s physical condition,” Aizawa explained, tugging on his goggles. “Although why she thinks I would choose a student based on that alone, I have no idea.”

“I had to check anyway,” Hatsume protested. “You know that.” Her next words were directed back to Izuku. “Everyone thought I was going to end up a doctor with a quirk like mine, but inventing has always been my passion. People never understood how the two things were related.”

Her eyes cut to Aizawa before sliding back to Izuku, a slow smile growing at the corner of her mouth. “Can to take a guess at why?”

Thrown by the sudden question, Izuku bit his lip. “Some of the support items heroes use could do more harm than good if they aren’t in the right physical shape to handle them? So by using your quirk you can determine what kind of restrictions need to be put in place? There are a lot of safety protocols in place around the kinds of things heroes are allowed to use, but-for example- if a certain support item put added stress on the user’s back it wouldn’t be good to give that item to someone who would be more likely to suffer the effects from it. Is that right?”

Hatsume clapped, pointing a finger at Izuku. “Right in one. It also gives me a little information on a person’s quirk-basically whether they have one or not.” Her eyes narrowed on Aizawa. “You didn’t mention that your student was quirkless, Aizawa-san.”

Izuku should have been used to that reaction by now, but he had grown used to the way that Aizawa didn’t treat him any differently because of his lack of quirk. There were no pitying looks from the hero, no comments about how unfortunate his situation was if he wanted to become a pro. Even Present Mic had reacted to the news as if it were no big deal.

“You didn’t ask, and I didn’t think the information was necessary to share at that moment.”

“Of course it’s necessary information!”

He should have known, should have prepared himself for this kind of reaction again. Aizawa had warned him when he first started training him that the comments targeting his quirkless status would only intensify when he got accepted to Yuuei, and yet Izuku had already grown so used to his mentor’s casual indifference to the situation that Hatsume’s offhand comment stung more than it would have a few weeks before.

“This makes this an even higher priority, you idiot.”

Izuku’s mental rambling faltered. She-she wasn’t going to refuse to help him? And had she just called Aizawa and idiot? He didn’t know which one was more baffling.

“Oh, I knew this was going to be an exciting request the moment you called, but this makes it even better.” Hatsume’s grin turned sharp as she leaned back in her chair, eyes gleaming. “I can see why you would come to me then.” She had pulled out a pad and pen, chewing in the end as she continued. “What kind of self defence are you teaching him? I’ll need to know to best match the items to his style.”

“A mix of aikido, jujutsu, and boxing. I’ve also got him started with escrima.”
Hatsume hummed, her attention focused on the paper in front of her. The switch from her gentle teasing to serious inventor had happened in a moment, although Izuku could still see the excited glint in her eyes as she scribbled down her notes.

“And have you given any thought to what exactly you want, Hero-kun? There will be some limitations on what I can give you since you aren’t officially in a school’s hero training course yet, but we can always talk about things for later. You’re getting in on recommendations, right?”

“Yes,” Izuku answered, almost choking on the word. He still couldn’t believe that that was happening, either. While he and Aizawa still hadn’t discussed the finer details of what recommendations really meant-his teacher saying they needed to focus on making sure he had the skills to back the support up- it still seemed too good to be true.

“Paperwork turned in and approved?”

Aizawa levelled her with a glare.

“Right,” Hatsume said around her pen. “Dumb question. This makes things easier. There are still some stuff I’m sure you’re going to need that I can’t give you until you start at Yuuei-restrictions on items that could cause lasting harm and all that- but being on the track to get in on recommendations opens up a few other options for us. Did you have anything in mind?”

“Well,” Izuku started hesitantly. “I’ve been reading some old comics from before quirks manifested, and there were some heroes that didn’t have powers…”

“Did I mention that I like this kid?” Hatsume asked, pointing at Izuku again with the end of her pen. “Because I like this kid. You would get along great with my daughter, Hero-kun. She loves taking inspiration from whatever scraps of those series she can get her hands on. What did you have in mind?”

“I know that this is just fiction, so a lot of it isn’t feasible, but something that I noticed was that most of them had a belt of some kind? To give themselves more options during different situations they needed to have everything close at hand. I thought that would be something I would eventually end up needed. Especially since I won’t always be able to just carry my escrima rods around.”

“Good start,” Hatsume said, her pen back on her paper. “I would have suggested something like that if you hadn’t. Since you don’t have a quirk giving you items that can be used in multiple situations is key. Give you as many options as possible. What else?

Izuku’s eyes cut to Aizawa.

“Go ahead, kid. I know you’ve thought about this.”

“Would you be able to add an electric charge to the rods?”

Hatsume hummed again. “That’s definitely doable, but unfortunately falls under the category of things I can’t give you until your first year starts. I like the way you think though. I’ll make a note to have that ready for you, sounds good?”

Nodding absentmindedly, Izuku ran through all of the heroes he had read about and what he knew about how support items worked. With the restrictions Hatsume had described, the simpler his requests the better. What could he ask for that he wouldn’t have to wait to learn how to use?

“Are minor explosives included in that category?” He asked.

Aizawa coughed, and Izuku turned to look at him, but his face was still tucked under his scarf.

Grinning, Hatsume spun in her chair. “Depends on the strength of the explosives and what you’re using it for.”

“Nothing huge, just something I could use as a distraction? Set off by either contact or remotely?” There would be times when Izuku wouldn’t be able to get the information he needed about someone’s quirk quickly enough, times when he wasn’t going to be prepared for the situation he had run into. Especially at the beginning. Having a way to buy himself more time or get away would be essential, not to mention all the ways they would be useful in an actual fight.

Years of being around Bakugou had taught him how impactful even a small explosion could be.

“That..would actually be okay. I can up the strength later if you needed it, but I can give you some of both kinds to practice with for now so you can get a feel for how they work. I can give you some smoke pellets too. Some similar effects, but less noise and less damage.”

“Those were actually one my list too,” Izuku admitted, and then hesitated.

“Go ahead, Midoriya.” Aizawa sighed. “You won’t know if it’s allowed until you ask.”

“Yes, go ahead, little Hero-kun,” Hatsume echoed. “If you aren’t sure about it, then that must mean it’s good!”

“A grappling gun?” He asked, his voice breaking on the last word.

“A grappling gun,” Hatsume repeated.”

Izuku rushed to explain. “Well, I was just thinking that since I don’t have a quirk, mobility is going important, and this would be one way to improve my options. I’m getting faster, but for someone whose quirk enhances their speed that’s not going to matter. If I needed to get from one location to another, this could make a difference, and it’s not really a gun so it should be allowed right? I could also use it to pull things towards me? Like say we were fighting in that warehouse again, I could have used it to pull some of those boxes down and-” He cut himself off, realizing that he had been rambling again, and ducked his head.

“Fight in a warehouse?”

“It’s a long story,” Aizawa said. “But he does have a point about the support item. Would that be something he would be allowed now?”

Izuku’s head jerked up at Aizawa’s response. It had seemed so comic book-esque that Izuku hadn’t been sure about asking for it, but Aizawa had taken his explanation seriously.

“Normally, no, but this is one of those things that would be allowed since he’s getting in on recommendations,” Hatsume explained. “Since the gun itself can be powered by compressed air, as long as the hero mentoring him is present when he uses it there’s not a problem. You aren’t planning on leaving him alone with it, are you, Aizawa-san?”

Aizawa didn’t dignify her question with a response. “Go on, Midoriya.”

In the end, Izuku described a few more ideas he had to Hatsume, and she sent them off with the promise that she would get in touch as soon as she finished getting everything together. “It’ll be about a week, maybe a little longer. Don’t hesitate to call me again if you get any more ideas, Hero-kun. Like I said, I like the way you think.”

“Thank you for your help today, Hatsume-san,” Aizawa said as he stepped out the door.

“Always a please, Aizawa-san. I’ll have to make sure Mei is here next time you stop by.” Hatsume’s grin promised trouble. “She would love to talk shop with someone who’s just as inventive as she is, even if their areas of expertise differ slightly.”

“Bye, Hatsume-san! Thank you!”

“Thank you, Hero-kun,” Hatsume responded with a wink. “You’ve given me the most fun I’ve had on a project in a while.”

Embarrassment, Bakugou thought, was a stupid fucking emotion that he never wanted to feel again for the rest of his life.

He had gone to his meeting with Aizawa expecting to come out of it with a promise to be trained by the pro hero, and instead he had been humiliated on every possible level. Compared to Deku, beaten in a fight, had his future as a hero put in question. Every single word out of the hero’s mouth had been a blow as painful as any of the physical blows he had been dealt.

Bakugou had left the warehouse at the pro hero’s dismissal without a fight, without a single word in response, and he couldn’t even find it in himself to be angry about it, the fury that always simmered beneath the surface suffocating under the weight of his mortification. The fact that he couldn’t get angry made him want to be more angry, and the cycle continued.

Think about what he had used his power for, Aizawa had said. There’s more to be a hero than their quirk.

What the hell kind of advice was that? The only thing he had used his strength for was to show everyone what they already knew-Bakugou Katsuki was a force to be reckoned with. He was the best, and he had made sure that everyone had know it. There couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with that, right?

And Deku...Aizawa’s face at the nicknamed flashed to Bakugou’s mind. The pro hadn’t liked that name, that much had been clear, but Bakugou had called him that for years, ever since his quirk manifested and the other boy’s didn’t. Surely, if there had been something wrong with the name someone would have said something about it years ago. How many people had heard that nickname and not commented on it? And yet one glacial look from Aizawa Shouta had a fragment of doubt curling in the pit of his stomach.

Doubt was just as bad as fucking embarrassment, but the feeling refused to fade.

People underestimated him all the time because of his anger, his volume, but Bakugou wasn’t stupid. When he couldn’t shake free from the hold Aizawa’s words had on him, he decided he would find out why. Why had he reacted to his accusations that why? Why had he given up the fight? Why had what Aizawa said resonated with him in such a way?

Aizawa had wanted Bakugou to think about what he had done, what it meant to be a hero, and that was exactly what he planned to do. He didn’t need some hero to give him the answers. He was Bakugou Katsuki. He would find his own answers.

Principal Nedzu like to think of himself as a reasonable person. He had to be to keep a school as complex as Yuuei running efficiently. Putting that many teens with powers together in one place, adding the stress of normal school, more difficult classes, and practical hero training all in one place, and it was a recipe for disaster, a bomb always seconds from going off. He managed problems by stopping them from becoming problems in the first place.

When he got the call that one of his teachers had been specifically targeted by a pair of villains he had been a little concerned but not truly worried. His teachers were all pros. They could handle themselves in rough situations, and Aizawa was smart enough not to go into something he couldn’t handle. The fact that Aizawa’s student, a middle schooler Nedzu hadn’t even known existed, had been taken too-that part had been the troubling bit.

Nedzu understood why Aizawa hadn’t mentioned it. The hero liked to keep his privacy, and there was no rule stating that he had to report that he had been training a student as long as that student planned to enter an official course, but the fact that Nedzu hadn’t known about it still bothered him. Hearing that the child was quirkless had only deepened that worry, and he had had every intention of requesting that the lessons be put to an end.

And then Midoriya Izuku had opened his mouth, and everything changed.

A quirkless hero.

The idea that would have seemed ridiculous only moments before sounded less so when explained in the rambling words of Aizawa’s student, and Nedzu found himself agreeing to letting the lessons continue, offering to let the boy in on recommendations. There was something about Midoriya that Nedzu couldn’t quite put to words, something in the determined set to his eyes as he casually mentioned finding Aizawa’s home on his own that made Nedzu want him to succeed at the impossible.

Nedzu kept control of the school by stopping problems before they became them, before they could upset the fragile balance that kept Yuuei at the top. By letting Midoriya Izuku continue down the path he had started on, would Nedzu be ending a problem or creating one? Instincts had told him to give Midoriya the chance, but logic told him that things would never be that simple.

A test, that was what Aizawa’s young charge needed. An opportunity to prove himself to the principal before the demonstration. Looking at the files spread across his desk, Nedzu smiled. Yes, a test was definitely in order, and he knew just the thing.

Chapter Text

They had made it a few blocks from Hatsume’s workshop when Midoriya asked the question, eyes overshadowed by his hair as he looked anywhere but at Aizawa.

“Do you really think Hatsume-san will introduce me to her daughter next time?” The hesitance in his voice, striking at Aizawa like a physical blow, rang heavy with every word. How much had it taken from his young student to ask him that? To force the words past the anxiety that Aizawa could see in the rigid set of his shoulders?

Had Aizawa been anyone else he might had mistaken the question for something else, confused the twisting of Midoriya’s hands as they walked for another kind of nervousness. Knowing the root of the issue and knowing what to say about it were, unfortunately, two different things, and Aizawa found himself thrown off balance once more.

Time and time again he had told Midoriya that he didn’t send his students into situations they weren’t prepared to handle, but he had never stopped to consider whether he was holding himself to those same standards. As a pro hero he didn’t always have the luxury of being prepared for the crises he found himself in. Every pro tried, of course, but sometimes circumstances just didn’t allow it. Fights were time sensitive, people were in danger. You acted and hoped that you were good enough, could think far enough ahead, for everything to work out.

As such, Aizawa hadn’t stopped to think about whether or not he was fully prepared for everything that came along with mentoring a student outside of the confines of Yuuei’s hero course. Could he teach Midoriya how to fight? How to read a situation, analyze his options, make decisions in the heat of the moment? Yes. The way that Midoriya had acted during the kidnapping incident had proven that, and he continued to make progress with every meeting.

But at Yuuei, Aiawa was never the sole teacher. He had his homeroom, and while he tried to get to know the students in his care well enough to help them reach their potential, in the end he wasn’t the only pro hero they had to rely on. He helped them train and study, but he never got close to them.

Aizawa kept himself far away from his students’ personal matters as possible, and that was the way he like it. He hadn’t stopped to think about whether his situation with Midoriya would be any different, hadn’t stopped to consider that he might have to help Midoriya with things that didn’t have to do with fighting villains or self defence.

Struggling to keep his expression blank, Aizawa bit back a sigh. Hizashi would be so much better at this than him. His friend would take one look at Midoriya, hear the unspoken question in his voice, and know exactly what to say to make things better. Aizawa on the other hand…
He hadn’t been lying when he told Bakugou that Midoriya hadn’t told him much about their relationship. He had danced around the question, his familiar nickname for the other boy coupled with the way he seemed to flinch at the prospect of explaining saying far more than he probably realized. It would have been enough for Aizawa to get a decent picture of the situation had Inko not stepped in with the words that Midoriya had refused to voice himself.

“I had hoped that Izuku training with you would be the last push Katsuki needed to stop but…” Inko’s words had trailed off but her meaning was clear. She had tried to shield her son from the cruelty that came from his classmates for being quirkless, but she couldn’t be with him every moment of the day. There was nothing she could do when the school and the other children’s parents did nothing to curb the bullying that Inko knew had to be going on but never witnessed.

Aizawa had been friendless himself until he had met Hizashi, and while he wouldn’t say that time in his childhood had been pleasant he knew that it must have been very different for him than it had been for Midoriya. His isolation had been, in part, self inflicted, and he had never been bullied, his classmates too afraid of his reaction to try anything.

Midoriya though-he had wanted that close friendship more than anything and had every door slammed in his face because of something he had no control over. Children could be cruel, but only because their parents were incompetent. Things would only get worse when he reached Yuuei, parents lashing out at the quirkless boy who had gotten in on recommendations while their children had tried and failed. Other students taking their lead, angry at their own deficiencies.


More time had passed since Midoriya had spoken than Aizawa had realized. They were almost back to the apartment now, Midoriya staring up at him, embarrassment coloring his face.

“I’m sure she will, kid.” Aizawa answered.

“It-It would be nice to talk to someone else about those comics. I don’t know anyone else who knows about them.”

Aizawa hummed his agreement. “Do you know what we’re having for dinner tonight?”

Midoriya brightened at the distraction, launching into an explanation of all the food his mother had planned on making, his smile wide in the fading light.

Midoriya would meet Hatsume Mei, Aizawa decided. Even if it meant he had to arrange the meeting himself.

Yamada-san beat them to the apartment.

It had been strange at first when the pro hero had insisted on being called by his name when he wasn’t at Yuuei or on duty, but seeing him sitting at their kitchen table out of costume, his long hair pulled up in a messy bun, made the shift easier for Izuku.

Aizawa wore the same thing pretty much every time they met, the differences between his casual clothes and his hero uniform nonexistent. The contrast between “Present Mic” and Yamada Hizashi, on the other hand, was striking. Izuku almost didn’t recognize the pro hero the first time he had come home to find Yamada-san talking to him mother about a mystery series they had both read. Each subsequent visit had made the image sit a little more comfortably in his mind though, until coming home to spot one hero or the other at their table had lost all novelty.

He should have known his mother would make a habit of adopting pro heroes.

“Shouta! Izuku-kun!” Yamada’s voice boomed as Izuku toed off his shoes. “I didn’t think that you would be back so soon! Did you have fun at Natsumi’s shop?”

“It was great!” Izuku answered, making his way into the kitchen to hug his mother. Aizawa followed slowly, taking the mug of coffee Yamada offered with a nod before joining him at the table. “Hatsume-san said that she would try to finish everything up in the next week so I could start practicing.”

Inko picked up her own drink as she stirred a pot on the stove. “I trust Aizawa-san’s judgement, but Izuku you will be careful with all of this, won’t you? Promise me?” Although Izuku hadn’t know that they would be making a trip to a support shop so soon, he had shown his mother the list he had come up with for his assignment. He didn’t blame her for being worried.

“I’ll be extra careful, Mom. I promise.”

“He won’t be touching anything until we’ve gone over how to use Hatsume’s inventions safely, Inko-san. And we won’t be adding them to his training menu all at once either.”

Smiling softly, Inko set her tea down and turned back to the counter. “I know my son will be safe in your hands, Aizawa-san. Now why don’t you go wash up and help me with these vegetables? I need to keep an eye on the oven.”

“While they’re doing that, let’s go to the living room, Izuku-kun,” Yamada suggested. Izuku knew he was trying to whisper, but the words came out just barely lower than his usual volume. “I brought those pictures I told you about last time.”

Aizawa had already started to stand following Inko’s instructions, but he froze, head snapping in Yamada’s direction as his friend’s words registered. “What photos?”

Izuku watched, eyes wide, as Yamada laughed, waving Aizawa’s question off with an exaggerated shrug. “Just some old photos from our Yuuei days. Nothing important.”

“Hizashi-” Aizawa started, taking a step towards them.

“Aizawa-san, if you don’t mind hurrying. I do need those vegetables soon if I’m going to finish this soup in time for dinner.” Inko’s voice cut through, back still turned towards them. “Izuku needs to stick to that meal plan you assigned, after all.”

Aizawa looked from Yamada to Inko, suspicion clear on his face, but he sighed, running a hand through his hair as he glared at Yamada. “Of course, Inko-san.”

The moment Aizawa turned away from them as well, Yamada shot Izuku the victory sign. “All in a day’s work.”

“What was that?” Aizawa’s voice fell flat over the sound of the tap.

“The vegetables, dear.”

Aizawa sighed again, but didn’t say anything else as Inko gestured them towards the door.

Izuku struggled to hold back his laugh, biting his lip at the scene. Yamada didn’t even bother trying, leading Izuku into the next room shaking.

“If only his students could see that!” He laughed. “They wouldn’t be so afraid of him then.”

Izuku sat at one end of the sofa, Yamada moving to sit beside him as he reached for the photo album on the end table.

“Principal Nedzu mentioned something about that. His students aren’t really scared of him, are they?”

Yamada traced the letters on the front of the album. “He’s a tough teacher. You would know that better than most, Izuku-kun. And he has a well deserved reputation for expelling students that don’t meet his standards. The students who don’t like him because of those actions don’t seem to realize that he only pushes them so hard because he cares about their safety, and since he doesn’t care much about their opinions of him as long as they stay safe he doesn’t do anything to fix that perception.”

Izuku could understand that. Aizawa wouldn’t waste time worrying about whether or not he was liked when he had things he thought were more important to take care of, but it still didn’t sit right with Izuku that almost none of his students appreciated the chance they had been given by being in Aizawa’s class. Izuku had only been working with him for a few weeks in hours crammed around school and already he had so much progress.

Aizawa’s students at Yuuei spent more time with the pro than he did. Why couldn’t they see what Izuku saw?

“Now let’s take a look through this album, Izuku-kun,” Yamada said, drawing Izuku out of his thoughts. “I don’t know how long your mom can keep him distracted, and I’m sure you have questions.

“Is it really okay?” Izuku asked. Aizawa hadn’t seemed happy with the idea of his friend showing those pictures off, and while Izuku was curious it wouldn’t be worth it if it made his mentor unhappy.

“He doesn’t mind,” Yamada assured him, flipping the book over. “It’s not always obvious, but Shouta can be a little dramatic sometimes. If he truly didn’t want me showing you this, he would have said something when I stopped to grab it from his apartment.”

The album spread open between them seemed different in light of that new information. “This is his?”

“He would deny being sentimental about our school days, but the proof is right here, isn’t it?”

The first page had a shot of Yamada and Aizawa standing outside the main building, the UA sign visible high in the background. Dressed in their school uniform, Yamada had an arm slung over Aizawa’s shoulder, a wide grin spread across his face. Aizawa wasn’t smiling in the photo, but he wasn’t pushing Yamada away either, seeming comfortable with the way their shoulders pressed together.

“This was taken at the end of our first year!” Yamada explained. “You can tell because Shouta doesn’t look quite as sleep deprived as he does by the end. I don’t think his insomnia had set in by this point.”

Izuku filed that bit of information away for later. “How did the two of you become friends?” He asked. “If you don’t mind me asking?”

“I would say I’m surprised he hasn’t told you this story already, but we both know he doesn’t like to talk about himself. Which is fine because I get to brag about him twice as much to make up for it.” Yamada looked away from the book, towards the kitchen where Izuku could hear Aizawa speaking softly although he couldn’t make out what exactly he was saying. “We met the day he transferred into the hero course and-”

“Transferred into the hero course?” Izuku immediately felt guilty for interrupting, but the words had slipped out before he could think them through. He knew people could transfer into the hero course from Gen Ed. He and Aizawa had talked about it on the way to Hatsume’s shop. When Izuku had done his research on the other courses at Yuuei he had read about the four students who had transferred, but none of the reports had given those students’ names.

Aizawa had been one of those students?

Startled, Yamada’s attention shifted back to Izuku. “He didn’t tell you that?”

Izuku shook his head. “He spoke a lot about not liking the format of the exam but…”

It was hard to imagine. For so long when Izuku thought of a hero the image that came to mind had been All Might, but now, knowing Aizawa, whenever the topic came up in school his mentor was always the first person he thought of. The fact that someone had once upon a time told Aizawa that he wasn’t cut out to be a pro hero was baffling. Incomprehensible.

“The exam wasn’t exactly the same as it is now, but the basic concept hasn’t changed. Shouta’s quirk isn’t good against hunks of metal, and they didn’t give points then for simply destroying your opponents. They put him in the Gen Ed course until the sports festival. When he made it to the finals of the last event they had no choice but to move him to the hero course.”

“And he was put in your class?” Izuku asked, mind still reeling.

Yamada nodded, smiling down at the photo still open between them. “I was the class representative. They sat him next to me hoping I could help him get adjusted to the new course. I haven’t been rid of him sense.”

“Why didn’t he-” Izuku cut himself off, swallowing the lump in his throat. Aizawa was his mentor, but he didn’t owe him anything beyond that. He shouldn’t expect to be told everything about his life outside of training.

“Uh-uh, Izuku-kun,” Yamada said, poking Izuku in the cheek. “Stop that. I’ve got practice reading people who overthink things, remember? I know exactly what little rabbit hole your mind just decided to wander down. Shouta didn’t bring this up because to him it’s a detail that isn’t important anymore. Words? Those have never been how Shouta has shown he cares. Actions though-Shouta’s actions say a lot more about what matters to him than words ever will.”

Yamada repositioned the photo album, turning the page. “Now look at this picture! I had to sneak it in the middle of class, but it was totally worth it. Shouta napping in class with his eyes open. How could I pass up such an opportune moment for a selfie?”

Marlo sat at the door waiting for him when he got home.

He could see Mochi laid stretched out on his sofa. He could hear Maru or Leo scratching at their post.

But Marlo sat right inside the doorway by his shoes, and that was never a good sign.

In all honesty, he should have moved apartments by now. Midoriya had found it, and Aizawa had never gotten confirmation on whether the villains who attacked them had known where it was. Something had stopped him every time he thought about packing up his stuff though, and the longer he put it off the less he wanted to do it.

“What is it, Marlo?” He asked. The cat in question meowed at him-not an emergency then-and darted into the living room. Feeling better knowing that his life wasn’t in immediate danger, Aizawa slipped out of his shoes and padded after his cat.

The light on his answering machine flashed red, and Aizawa felt his stomach drop. Only two people had his landline number, and Aizawa had just left Hizashi at the station. Which meant Nedzu needed to talk to him, but didn’t want to deal with the fallout of his first reaction.

This was bound to be pleasant.

Aizawa rubbed a hand over his eyes. He had been looking forward to trying to actually sleep that night, but it seemed those plans were about to be ruined. Already cursing Nedzu for whatever news he was about to deliver, Aizawa hit play.

“Good evening, Aizawa-sensei!” The overly excited voice of the principal filled the apartment. Marlo sneezed, running out of the room. “I didn’t want to bother you during your dinner with young Midoriya-kun,” and Aizawa shouldn’t even be surprised at this point that the principal had known where he was, “but I just wanted to call and say that I need you to stop by my office first thing tomorrow morning. It seems that last group of students expelled from your homeroom has been making a bigger fuss about their situation than normal, and I’ve come up with a grand way of killing two birds with one stone, as the saying goes. It’s a bit unorthodox, but I’m sure it will benefit all parties involved greatly! No need to return my call now. I’ll be preoccupied the rest of the night, I’m afraid. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

The machine beeped signaling the end of the message, and Aizawa cursed. Unorthodox solution. Two birds with one stone. Aizawa could see where this was going. Nedzu had made the right decision not calling him on his cell, because right now he wouldn’t have wanted to hear anything Aizawa had to say.

Nedzu was about to throw Midoriya to the wolves, and thanks to that paperwork there was nothing Aizawa could do to stop him.

Chapter Text

“Come in, come in, Aizawa-sensei! I was just about to make a fresh pot of tea.”

Nedzu, in Aizawa’s opinion, sounded far too cheery for the early hour of the morning. Aizawa himself had spent a sleepless night staring at his ceiling, sleep refusing to cooperate as he cycled through the training menus he had planned for his youngest student. The fact that Nedzu’s greeting came in the same chipper tone as always when he knew Aizawa wouldn’t like anything he had to say in this little meeting made his already somber mood that much darker.

“I’m not here for tea, Nedzu-san.”

In a testament to why he was chosen as Yuuei’s principal, Nedzu ignored the teacher’s gruff tone, waving a hand to the chair in front of him. “Nonsense. Discussions as important as this are best had with a warm drink in hand. Take a seat. It will only be a moment.”

Aizawa didn’t move, watching as Nedzu poured slowly poured two steaming cups and placed one in front of the empty chair.

“Aizawa-sensei. Don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be, please,” Nedzu said, voice still upbeat despite the undercurrent of steel that rang through his words. “Let’s have a cup of tea, and I’ll answer your questions. It’s even caffeinated this morning. Just for you.”

“I’ll pass. Thank you.” Arms crossed, Aizawa leaned back against the wall. He had no time to humor Nedzu with pleasantries this morning, and his lack of sleep ate away at the small amount of patience he had to spare. He came to see the principal to discuss whatever challenge he had prepared to throw at Midoriya, and he would not be distracted by Nedzu’s games before he got the answers he wanted.

Nedzu shrugged, still unbothered by the obvious hostility. “Suit yourself. As i said in my message, there has been more pushback than usual from your last group of expulsion.”

“What kind of pushback?” Students had complained about expulsions in the past, but Nedzu had never made a big deal about it before. Complaints usually came from the embarrassment of having to face the fact that they didn’t take the program as seriously as they should have. Unfortunate, but nothing that required Aizawa to give any kind of response.

“I’m afraid that it somehow got out to the parents of these students that you have been mentoring someone outside of Yuuei. They are accusing you of not taking your teaching duties here as a result.” Yes, Nedzu sounded far too pleasant for someone whose school integrity was being put under question.


Nedzu shrugged. “The paperwork has all been officially filed. It’s a matter of public record now for anyone who felt the need to check.” He glanced down at his desk, holding up a piece of paper. “I believe one of the students in question has a parent who works in the Quirk Regulation office. They must have seen the file while it was being processed.”

Aizawa’s eyes narrowed. A logical explanation. One that Aizawa couldn’t question.

“And?” Again, Aizawa couldn’t see what made this case different from the others. He hadn’t neglected his students. All training sessions were recorded for review by the other pro heroes on the staff and in order for Yuuei to maintain their accreditation. A simple look at the film should be enough to refute the parents’ claims of any failings on his part. “I don’t see why Midoriya needs to be involved in this.” Other than the fact that Nedzu seemed to be looking for a reason to throw his student in a fight two years too early.

Picking up his cup, Nedzu didn’t answer immediately. Aizawa’s already short patience frayed further as the seconds ticked by, but he kept a tight lid on his frustration. He had panicked when Midoriya had been taken and had rushed in without thinking, without planning. He had assumed his reaction had been because of the immediate danger. In all the planning he did he never considered that Midoriya might be dragged into a fight before he entered Yuuei.

Yet here he was, about to lose his head again.

Nedzu hummed over his tea. “There are standards we have to meet as a school with a certified hero course, as you know, Aizawa-sensei. And we are very good at making sure that we adhere to all necessary safety protocols while still giving our students the best training possible to prepare them for the harsh reality of work as a pro hero. It’s a very hard balance to find. An almost impossible line to walk. Our ability to do so year after year is the reason we are recognized as the top school in the country.”

“Yes.” His response fell flat, and Nedzu sighed. Aizawa wished he would just get to the point. There were times for Nedzu’s games, but now wasn’t it. Aizawa wasn’t a parent or one of the idiotic pro heroes who believed they could take advantage of him because he sat in an office all day. Nedzu should at least have the decency to not ramble on when Aizawa could have still been trying to sleep.

“I trust your judgement when it comes your students,” Nedzu continued on, hands gripping his cup. “I saw something in Midoriya during our brief meeting that makes me believe that you are right to think that he will become a great hero one day. But others won’t see it that way.”

“Because he’s quirkless,” Aizawa said. Because it always came back to that. No matter how much Midoriya did, no matter how many things he accomplished people would always loop back around to that unimportant detail.

Midoriya hadn’t been concerned when Aizawa had brought up the ridicule his student would likely face for trying for Yuuei without a quirk. At the time he had thought he simply wasn’t bothered by what people said, but he hadn’t know him very well then. The confidence Midoriya had shown in coming his apartment had fooled him into thinking those insults had no effect on him. Enough time had passed that Aizawa knew that wasn’t the case. His student was strong in so many ways, but the weight of those words day after day for years had worn away at a lot of Midoriya’s belief in himself.

He had only just started to regain that trust in himself. Aizawa wouldn’t let Nedzu destroy what progress he had made because of a test.

“Don’t glare at me like that, Aizawa-sensei,” Nedzu’s response came sharply. “Do you think I don’t know how it feels to have the whole world against your success? That’s why this test is necessary. Now. While the situation is still under my control.”

“So you admit this is just a test for Midoriya then? There would be no issue with these students otherwise?” Aizawa asked.

Nedzu rolled his eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled this meeting for so early. Yes. It’s a test. And do you know why? I had to make an additional slot of Midoriya because the recommendation students have already been selected. That has never been done before, and people notice things like that.. All of that public record paperwork I talked about a moment ago? How many calls do you think I’ve already gotten telling me I forgot to include his quirk?”

“The demonstration at the end of his third year should be enough to prove he has the skills to back up this decision. He doesn’t need to fight against students who will do everything they can to bring him down because they’ve already thrown away their shots.” Aizawa argued.

“I’m saying that it’s not enough. The other recommendation students have already proven themselves to heroes besides their sponsors. They’ve shown why they deserve to be at Yuuei. Now it’s Midoriya’s turn.”

“Keeping himself and a classmate safe when they were kidnapped isn’t proof enough?”

“Young Bakugou used his quirk wasn’t he wasn’t authorized, and Midoriya’s actions led to one of the kidnappers having to seek medical attention. While the argument can be made that they did it in self defense, the issue has been swept under the rug for the moment. If you want to use that incident to support his right to a recommendation, go right ahead. But I’m afraid it may result in Midoriya’s friend being questioned for his actions.”

Aizawa dug his nails into the palms of his hands. Bakugou may have made mistakes, but did he really deserve to be hauled into a police station for questioning when he had already been through so much because of that event? Would Midoriya accept avoiding this fight if it meant that Bakugou might suffer for it?

Of course he wouldn’t, because despite everything Bakugou had done to him, Midoriya still wanted- maybe not to be his friend, but to not be on bad terms with him.

“You have an answer for everything, don’t you, Nedzu-san.”

“That is my job.”

Aizawa barely held back a sigh. “There’s nothing I can say that will change your mind?”
“Nothing.” Came the immediate response.

“The details of this test then?” He may not be able to get Midoriya out of it, but he could at least prepare him for what was coming.

“They will be given beforehand, and don’t worry. Your ex students will not be given any additional information either. The test will be held this Saturday night, so you’ll have a few days to prepare.” Nedzu said. “We wouldn’t want to distract young Midoriya from his studies. He does still have to pass the academic exam, after all.”

There was something in Nedzu’s voice that didn’t sound quite right to Aizawa. A layer under the cheerfulness and nonchalance in his words as he his a smile behind his cup.

“That isn’t all this is about though, is it?” Aizawa asked, pushing off the wall and stepping closer. “What are you planning?”

“I see that you are awake after all.”


“I have plans for every student at Yuuei I think can make a real difference. I believe Midoriya is one such student.” Nedzu interrupted. “I will remind you though, that while you are a trusted teacher here, I am still the principal, Aizawa-sensei. Trust that I know what I am doing.”
Aizawa huffed, but didn’t argue further. Nothing he did would get Nedzu to budge on his position. The best thing he could do was make sure that Midoriya was ready for whatever challenge the principal had planned. “I will let Midoriya know,” he said starting to the door.

“I appreciate your cooperation. Also! One last little detail.” Nedzu called out. Aizawa froze in the doorway, head turning back slowly towards the desk. “Because this test is to prove that there was no mistake made in offering Midoriya a recommendation spot, should he not pass I’m afraid his admittance will be revoked. Please make sure that he understands the importance of this exercise.”

“Whoa, Shouta. What’s wrong?”

Aizawa had stormed out of Nedzu’s office, his expression frightening the principal’s poor secretary when she tried to speak to him on his way out. He would make time to apologize to her for later, but for the moment he needed to find a place to be alone so he could calm down.

Most days, Aizawa enjoyed his talks with Nedzu. The man was intelligent, cunning. He understood the importance of thinking before acting. Sometimes Aizawa wouldn’t even mind the mental games the principal played, looking at them as a challenge. A mental exercise he needed from time to time.

Now though, their entire conversation put him on edge.

He could only imagine what his expression looked like as he stalked through the hallway in search of his office. Saturday. That only gave them a week for Midoriya to prepare. A week when they were supposed to have two years. Granted, these were only first year students who had been expelled, but Midoriya had only been officially training for little over a month, and now his entire future at Yuuei was riding on a test Aizawa knew nothing about.

Aizawa felt ready to turn back, to give in to the irrational urge to tell Nedzu what he really thought of this test and his plan, when Hizashi exited the classroom in front of him. He had started to wave when he saw his friend, but his smile dropped when he noticed the anger etched in Aizawa’s face.

Hizashi. Aizawa may be too angry with Nedzu at the moment to think through things clearly- and he would have to examine that carefully later-but Hizashi cared about Midoriya too. He would be more than willing to help him make sure Midoriya was prepared for whatever Nedzu planned to throw at him.

“Are you free tomorrow afternoon?” Aizawa asked.

“Uh-I-Yes?” Hizashi stammered, caught off guard by the question. He leaned forward, creeping into Aizawa’s space to get a better look at his expression. “Is everything okay, Shouta? You look a little red.”

“Midoriya needs some extra help. Care to join our training session?”

Bakugou continued to run long after school ended and clubs were dismissed. The sun had already started to slip down beyond the horizon, but he still didn’t stop. His mother would worry if he didn’t head home soon, but he couldn’t care less about that in the moment. Adrenaline burned through his veins, lungs protesting every breath. He knew he should go home. Should eat dinner. Do the mountain of homework he had been avoiding.

Instead he kept running.

Exercise of any kind always cleared his head, but running especially seemed to help him focus. The extra mental effort it took to keep his quirk in check as he ran reminded him of just how strong he was. Whatever other problems he had were nothing in comparison to that. An hour of running had never failed to solve his immediate problems in the past, but he was already pushing three and nothing seemed to be working as it should.

Stupid fucking pro heroes and their just as stupid advice.

Bakugou should have ignored him. Moved on. And yet here he was still agonizing over what Aizawa could have meant. “Think about the power he had had over Deku and how he had used it.” What did that even mean?

The first part was easy enough to understand. Bakugou had the kind of quirk wannabe heroes dreamed about while Deku was Deku. Quirkless. Useless in a fight. Deku. It was obvious that Bakugou would have power over him. He had power over all of the losers in his class, didn’t he? Deku wasn’t special in that regard.

Think about how he had used that power...That was the comment that had Bakugou stuck. What the hell had Aizawa meant by that? He hadn’t used his strength in any way that wasn’t acceptable. It was the same situation with the nickname. Aizawa had hated him calling Izuku “Deku,” but no one had ever corrected him for it before now.

No one had ever said anything to Bakugou about the way he behaved either. No one but Aizawa. That had to mean something didn’t it? Everyone who had been a witness to their relationship over the years had remained silent. That meant that Aizawa was the one in the wrong. It had to. One voice in a decade of silence.


Bakugou started another loop around campus.

A few words and a fight with a pro hero. That was all it had taken to unsettle him. He needed answers, and it didn’t seem like he was going to be able to find them on his own. Aizawa, the source of all this terrible choking doubt, wasn’t an option. Bakugou couldn’t trust his view given the situation. Likewise, he couldn’t ask any of his teachers. Even if he felt comfortable sharing this bullshit with them, Aizawa’s words had made it so that he couldn’t trust anything they said either. Who did that leave? His mother? Bakugou snorted at the thought.

There was one person he could ask though. One person who knew enough about him to understand what Aizawa had been talking about. One person he could trust to not lie to him.

But did he really want to go that far?

Yes. Yes, he did. Because the longer these questions ate at him the more frustrated he became.

Better to get it over with, even if it meant having to see her again.

When Izuku answered the door to see Aizawa standing there, his expression grim, he had a brief moment of panic.

“We weren’t supposed to train today, were we? I thought we were meeting tomorrow, but I could have gotten the dates mixed up. I am so, so sorry, Aizawa-sensei! How could i have done that? I know you’re probably mad, but please don’t-”

Aizawa normally allowed Izuku to ramble on, but for once he interrupted before he could get himself worked up. “You didn’t miss training, Midoriya. I came by because I have some news.”

Izuku moved out of the way, letting Aizawa step inside.

“News?” Had Hatsume called about his support items already? Maybe she had some questions about the modifications he had mentioned.

“Is that Aizawa-san?” Inko called from the other room.

“It is!” Izuku answered back.

“Your mother should probably be here for this too,” Aizawa said.

So not Hatsume’s inventions then.

Looking over his mentor, Izuku felt his stomach drop. Aizawa’s usual calm expression was gone, his forehead creasing as he frowned.

“Is everything okay?” Inko asked, coming down the hallway and into view.

“Something’s wrong,” Izuku said. “You aren’t ending our training, are you?”

Aizawa’s expression froze, his eyes dropping down to Izuku. “No! Nothing like that. I just spoke to Nedzu this morning, and there seems to be an unexpected consequence from that paperwork we submitted to make our sessions official.”

“Unexpected consequences?” Inko repeated.

Fidgeting under her stare, Aizawa hurried on. “It seems he needs another demonstration of Midoriya’s skills, besides the official demonstration next year.”

“What kind of demonstration?” A demonstration wouldn’t be that bad. Nedzu had offered him the recommendation slot. He wouldn’t offer it and then take it away, right? Izuku would be fine.

Aizawa winced, and maybe if Izuku hadn’t learned to read Aizawa over the last month he wouldn’t have noticed it, but as it was Izuku’s earlier panic flooded back.

“Some of my first year homeroom students were expelled last week. Nedzu has decided that you’re going to fight them.”

Izuku must have been spending too much time around Bakugou, because only one word came to mind in response to that declaration.


Chapter Text

Izuku had trained with Aizawa enough to know that no matter what he did he would never win one of their sparring sessions. Throw another pro hero into the mix, and Izuku should have asked his mother to start planning his funeral before he left the house that morning. Wheezing as he tried to regain his breath, Izuku wondered what kind of flowers his mother would choose. He hoped she wouldn’t pick chrysanthemums. What arrangement could say ‘murdered by mentors’ as cause of death?

For a moment, all he wanted was to sink into the mat, hard behind his back, and take a long nap. Then a hand appeared in his line of vision, and his resolve returned. Grabbing Aizawa’s hand, Izuku allowed himself to be hauled to his feet.

“I think that’s enough for today,” Aizawa said, and Izuku fought to keep the relief from his face. “Good work today, Midoriya.”

It was a rare occasion that Aizawa gave voice to his praise. Izuku bit his lip to keep from smiling as he moved to start his cool down routine.

“Are you sure you haven’t trained with anyone before, Izuku-kun?” Yamada asked, handing him a water bottle when he finished. “ Surely Shouta hasn’t been that great of a teacher.”

Grinning, Yamada skirted out of the way as Aizawa made to elbow him in the side.

Aizawa leveled his friend with an even expression. “Better teacher than you. What was it your student got in trouble for the other day? Oh, I remember now. He-”

“I’m just kidding! Just kidding! You know you’re a great teacher, don’t you, Shouta? Tell him what a great teacher he is, Izuku-kun!”

“Of cour-” Izuku cut off at Yamada’s exaggerated wink, the other pro hero taking advantage of the fact that Aizawa had turned to face Izuku when he started to speak. Izuku changed directions immediately. “I don’t know, Yamada-san. I’ve learned a lot from you today. Maybe you’ve been the secret to Aizawa-sensei’s success this whole time. The hidden inspiration.”

Aizawa looked as affronted as Izuku had ever seen him. “My own student,” he deadpanned. “How will I ever recover from such a betrayal, I wonder.”

“In all seriousness though, Izuku-kun,” Yamada said, grinning as he returned one of Aizawa’s jabs with his own. “You’ve come a long way from where you started from what Shouta’s told me. You should be proud.”

Izuku twisted the bottle in his hands. He was proud. He was. When he made the decision to go track down Aizawa he hadn’t known what to expect. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to find his apartment, maybe he would find it and Aizawa would slam the door in his face. And getting Aizawa to agree to train him? That would be the easy part. Would he be able to live up to the hero’s expectations? Would he get the chance to live his dream only to once again be told that no matter what he did he would never be cut out for it?

Those thoughts had circled around and around in his head as he made the initial trek to the apartment building. One nightmare scenario after another. So, yes, even Izuku had to admit that he was proud of himself for making it as far as he had. But would any of it really matter if he didn’t pass this test?

Aizawa and Yamada both seemed to realize the shift in Izuku’s thoughts, Yamada’s grin dropping. The quiet that hung between them weighed on.

“We should go over what we know about the test one more time,” Aizawa said, tugging on his scarves. “Tell me what we know.”

“Fourteen students from your freshman homeroom were recently expelled or moved to the Gen Ed course because they weren’t taking the hero track seriously,” Izuku said immediately, his tone dropping as he launched into information sharing mode. “Of that fourteen, an unknown number have decided to fight their expulsion or course change. We don’t know which students.”

Izuku could still remember the furious look on Aizawa’s face when he told him that Principal Nedzu refused to tell him which students would be involved in the test under the pretense of “keeping things fair.” The challengers didn’t know Izuku’s quirk-or rather lack thereof. It was only fair that Izuku not know the quirks of the students he would be facing as well.

“What Principal Nedzu doesn’t know though,” Izuku continued, “is that I’ve been doing analysis exercises with your homeroom students’ quirks since we started training. Even if we can’t narrow it down to which students exactly, fourteen profiles isn’t too many for me to study before the test.”

“I still can’t believe that you were Aizawa’s mystery consultant,” Yamada said. “Those breakdowns you did were crazy detailed, kid. Definitely close to being at a professional level.”

“Now that Nedzu knows about you training me, could he guess that I was the one who did the reports for your class?” Izuku asked. “He knows that that’s something I’ve been working on.”
“He didn’t mention anything about them,” Aizawa said slowly. “And I didn’t put them in my official lesson plans. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know. Don’t go into this thinking that you have one up on the Principal.”

“That’s an almost guaranteed way to fall into whatever trap he has planned,” Yamada cut in, throwing an arm over Aizawa’s shoulder.

“These students were dropped from the hero program because they didn’t take it seriously, but don’t take that to mean they won’t try during this exam,” Aizawa said, eyeing his Yamada but making no move to push him back out of his space. “Nedzu has set this up to play on their pride. Failure can sometimes be the motivation people need to get back on the right track. More than one expelled student from Yuuei has gone on to join a hero program at a different school and done well.”

Izuku’s head spun. There were so many things to consider, so many things to plan for. He was supposed to have two more years to prepare for Yuuei, and now his entire future was on the line with only a few days to prepare. He thought that things had worked themselves out when Nedzu had offered him the recommendation spot. That he was finally going to get a break after all of the struggling and fighting he had done to keep his dream alive when everyone told him to give it up. He should have known that his path to being a pro hero was never going to be an easy road.

Aizawa sighed, finally shrugging Yamada off. “I want you to rest tomorrow, Midoriya. No training of any kind. You need to be at full strength for whatever Nedzu has planned for you. Do you understand? Your mother will tell me if you don’t listen to me.”

“Yes, Aizawa-sensei.”

“Good. Now go ahead and head home. There’s nothing else we can do to prepare now.” Aizawa opened his mouth to continue but paused, shooting Yamada a quick look.

“I’m going to… go make sure everything is packed up. Way over here. Where I definitely can’t hear anything you’re saying.”

Aizawa let out a long breathy sigh again as the other pro hero quickly walked away and busied himself with meticulously packing Aizawa’s duffle bag. This time Izuku didn’t try to hide his smile, and when Aizawa turned his attention back towards him Izuku was met with a shaky smile in return. For a moment they stared at each other, neither of them speaking.



They both broke off. Aizawa opened his mouth to try again, but Izuku beat him to it, launching himself at his mentor. Stumbling at the unexpected weight, Aizawa looked down to see Izuku wrap him in a tight hug.

“I’m sorry for joking about Yamada-san being a better teacher,” Izuku said into Aizawa’s shirt. “You’re the best teacher I could have ever asked for. I will never be able to thank you enough for helping me. I won’t let you down, I promise.”

Izuku didn’t wait for Aizawa to respond. Didn’t even wait for him to return the hug. The moment the words were out, Izuku turned and bolted towards the exit. He would see Aizawa again before the test. Both Aizawa and Yamada were coming over for dinner again the next day to go over everything one last time, after all.

Besides, Izuku didn’t need the pro hero to say anything back anyways. Words meant nothing in comparison to what Aizawa had done for him. Now it was Izuku’s turn to show him how much their training meant to him.

“That...Happened.” Aizawa said, still watching the door where Izuku had vanished.

“It did,” Hizashi agreed. “But was it really a good idea to tell him about Nedzu’s condition? That’s a lot of pressure to put on a thirteen year old.”

“I had to tell him,” Aizawa responded. “It would be just like Nedzu to try to use this to throw Midoriya off. Better he finds out now and knows what’s at stake ahead of time.”

“He sounded like you when he started explaining the test. Did you notice? He’s got that tone you use down pat, and I don’t even think he realizes it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Hizashi waved him off. “Sure you don’t. Anyway, if he goes to Yuuei people are going to know immediately that you two know each other. He’s only been training with you, what, a little over a month? How many of your habits will he have adopted in two years?” He asked, leaning into Aizawa’s space again. “Who know, you might even get mistaken for his dad again.”

Hizashi could see it now. Izuku trying and failing to keep his training with Shouta a secret, giving himself away with the starry eyed adoration and unquestioning respect he had for the hero who made it his mission to keep himself out of the spotlight. Hizashi wondered how many comments it would take before Izuku stood up to anyone who criticized Shouta’s teaching methods.

“Midoriya will be going to Yuuei,” Aizawa said, ignoring his friend’s comment. “Whatever the outcome of this test.”

“But didn’t Nedzu say this would count as his entrance exam?” Hizashi frowned. “If his recommendation spot is revoked and Nedzu bars him from the normal exam, he can’t get in the hero course no matter how much he improves between now and then.”

“I didn’t say anything about the hero course.”

“Isn’t this the part where you’re supposed to say that you know he’ll pass the exam no matter what?” Hizashi asked.


Aizawa turned his back to him, double checking to make sure that he had everything together. “I can’t say that. Midoriya has trained a lot. He’s going to be a very capable hero one day. But he’s only been training for a short period of time. He’s only just now finding out ways to get around fighting without a quirk. Even if these students haven’t given their studies their full attention, they’ve still had years to learn the ins and outs of their abilities.”


“I want Midoriya to pass Nedzu’s test. Of course I do.” Aizawa’s voice dropped as he spoke and Hizashi, who had been moving to stand beside him, paused a few feet away. “As his mentor I don’t have the luxury of simply believing in him and dealing with the consequences if he fails later. I made a promise to Midoriya that I would help him become a hero as long as he continued to work hard and listen to my instructions. He’s kept his end of our bargain, and I intend to keep mine. Whether that means preparing him for the hero course or making sure there are other options available to him.”

It made sense, Hizashi thought. He had known Shouta long enough to know that he would want to have a plan ready for everything. Shouta had done everything he could to prepare Izuku for the trial he had ahead of him, made sure his young student knew that he was proud of the progress that he had made going into the test. And if Izuku failed? Shouta would be there ready with a new plan, a new path. Not because he didn’t believe that Izuku could pass Nedzu’s outrageous challenge, but because he believed in Izuku’s future as a hero enough to not see failure here as the end of his journey.

Izuku might not be able to join the hero course if he didn’t pass Nedzu’s test, but that couldn’t keep him from passing the general admission test. His path would be harder, there would be so many other obstacles standing in his way, but students had been moved from the Gen Ed course before. Not many, but enough. If anyone could help Izuku down that road it was Shouta.

It had been hard, but Izuku did as Aizawa had asked and spent the entire day before the test doing anything but training. He could see the hero’s point, but sitting around watching TV or trying to read a book couldn’t hold his attention for long when it felt like his entire future was on the line the next day.

A short reprieve came when Yamada and Aizawa came for dinner. Anticipating his young charge’s nerves, Aizawa had brought Marlo over for a visit as well. Although not happy at having to travel in a carrier, Marlo had warmed up to the new environment, and Izuku had had a few short hours where he could forget about everything. No test, no Nedzu, no challenging first years. Just Izuku, his mom, Aizawa, and Yamada.

Aizawa had ruffled his hair before he left, telling Izuku he would pick him up in the afternoon. Yamada had winked at him before he closed the door. And then Izuku was left alone with his thoughts again.

Izuku had promised that he wouldn’t train, but he couldn’t stop his brain from cycling through the quirks of the students he might be facing the next day. Earth manipulation. Teleportation. Shapeshifting. Flight. Fourteen students who had quirks strong enough to get into the most competitive hero program in the country.

And what did he have? A talent for overthinking and a little over a month’s worth of training.

He just didn’t understand. Every since Nedzu had told him about Aizawa’s reputation, about the reason’s Aizawa’s students were expelled, Izuku had been trying to figure them out. Why would you waste such an amazing opportunity? Here Izuku was, pushing himself to the limit every day to try to get the same chance, and they had thrown it away as if it didn’t matter.
He had tried to put himself in their shoes hoping it would give him some kind of insight into what to expect from tomorrow, but the more he tried the more frustrated it made him.

Izuku stared at his ceiling, trying to will himself to sleep, but now that he had started that line of thought he couldn’t go back. These students had already ruined their chances at being in Yuuei’s hero course. He refused to let them do the same to him.

When Aizawa arrived the next evening he took one look at Izuku’s face and sighed. “Did you get any sleep last night, Midoriya?”

Izuku rubbed at the back of his neck, sheepish. “About three hours?”

“I shouldn’t have expected otherwise, I suppose.”

“Please be careful, Izuku,” Inko said, pulling him into a hug. “And good luck! I know you’ll do great!”

She released him, stepping towards Aizawa, her arms wide.

“What are you-” Aizawa cut off as Inko pulled him into a hug as well.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for Izuku.” She said, quickly moving back out of Aizawa’s space. “I know I’ve said this to you before, but there really is no way I can repay you for what you’ve done for him.”

“You don’t need to thank me, Inko-san,” Aizawa coughed, refusing to meet her eyes. “Midoriya deserves his chance. Now we should probably be on our way.”

The trip to Yuuei passed in silence with Izuku too nervous to speak and Aizawa too unsure of what to say that wouldn’t make the situation worse.

The looming building’s of Yuuei’s main campus usually filled Izuku with a sense of wonder. That was where the best of the best heroes had studied, he had thought, and if he worked hard enough and was lucky he might get to train there too. Today though, the sight of the gleaming buildings twisted the knot in the pit of his stomach. How was Izuku supposed to fight when he felt like he couldn’t even breathe?

They passed through the arched gates, Aizawa leading the way towards one of the simulation fields at the back of the main campus’s property.

“Nedzu sent me the location when we passed through the gates,” Aizawa explained. “If the section he sent me is the correct one then this should be neutral ground. None of my first years have been to this field before.”

“What’s it set up as?” Izuku asked.

“A city. But it’s very industrial. Lots of hanging bars and all of the buildings are metal. It’s basically a multilayered maze designed to look like a city.”

Izuku hummed, his mind buzzing. “It’s hard to strategize even with the location if I don’t know what we’re doing.”

“Just stay calm,” Aizawa said. “You’ve been working on analyzing situations faster. You’ll get a chance to think things through while Nedzu is explaining.”

Izuku nodded, and they fell back into silence.

As they approached the field, Izuku could see Nedzu at the gates along with a small crowd of students. Seven of them. It wasn’t the whole group, but Izuku had been hoping for less. Just as Aizawa had said, Izuku could see uneven pieces of metal sticking out above the tall walls of that surrounded the arena. The walls had to be at least two stories high, and stretched on far into the distance. It was impossible for him to tell from that distance how big the simulation field really was.

Nedzu smiled as they grew closer. “Midoriya-kun! Aizawa-sensei! Now that everyone is here we can go over the rules of this little test.” He turned to face the expelled students. “As you have been informed, Midoriya Izuku is not yet at Yuuei. He’s been studying with Aizawa-sensei recently and has been granted a recommendation spot when he enters high school in two years. Should you win this little challenge I’ve arranged you will be able to stay at Yuuei.”

“And what about him?” One of the students said, stepping forward. His electric blue hair was cropped short, Izuku noticed, but it had the same spiked look as Kacchan’s. The boy’s face twisted in a sneer as he spoke. “What happens to him if he loses?”

Nedzu chuckled. “Well his recommendation spot will be revoked, of course! Now would you like to get on with the details of this challenge?” He waited a moment for the assembled students to nod. “Right then! This will basically be a reverse game of hide and go seek! Young Midoriya here will be playing the villain and will be allowed 15 minutes in the maze to begin with. You may use this time however you would like- map part of the area, find a place to hide, set up traps. Whatever you can think of. With me so far?”

Another round of nods.

“At the end of the fifteen minutes, the challenging students will be released into the area one at a time.Your job is to find Midoriya-kun and bring him back to the exit,” Nedzu smiled. “If you are captured, Midoriya-kun, you are, of course, allowed to fight back. If Midoriya manages to remain free, he wins. If a challenging student is able to bring him back outside the area then they win. Once the last student enters the maze, you have thirty minutes on the clock!”

Just stay free. Izuku could do that. Fifteen minutes wouldn’t give him a lot of time to work with, but he could get in deeper, find somewhere to hide. He might not even have to fight, depending on how good a job he did remaining unseen.

“Well, if everyone understands what’s going on then we might as well begin! Midoriya-kun, you can take your position by the door. The moment you enter the field the timer will begin.”

Izuku turned, looking up at Aizawa.The presence of the hero’s usual blank expression gave Izuku the push he needed. Aizawa wasn’t worried about the test. Izuku couldn’t be either. He nodded at his mentor, and his mentor gave a slow nod in return.

The moment Izuku stepped up towards the wall, a panel for the door slid open, a dark red line marking the starting point between the door frames. The test was straightforward enough. He knew what he needed to do to pass. Now all he had to do was put his knowledge and Aizawa’s training to good use.

Taking a deep breath, Izuku crossed the line into the arena.

Nedzu’s test had begun.

Chapter Text

Izuku ran as the starting buzzer sounded overhead.

Fifteen minutes. He had fifteen minutes to put together a plan.

Metal buildings loomed tall around him, windowless walls surrounding him on all side, smooth pipes reaching out towards him as he passed. Doorways hung open that he could tuck into, simple handholds stuck out from the buildings’ exterior that he could use to climb. Plans flickered to the forefront of his mind, but he pushed them all aside. Would they give him a brief advantage over the Yuuei students? Yes. But they would also guarantee a fight, and that was the one thing Izuku wanted to avoid more than anything right now.

It would be simple enough to hide in one of the closer buildings and count on his competitors to assume he had gotten as far away from the exit as possible, but what if they didn’t? What if they found him straight away and Izuku had to spend thirty minutes fighting at the boundaries, hanging on the edge of having his future ripped out from under him? Aizawa had done a lot for Izuku, had pushed him leagues beyond where he had been before their lessons had started, but Izuku had recognized the students waiting for him outside the field. He remembered the profiles he wrote on them.

Despite the actions that led Aizawa to decide they were no longer fit for the hero course, they had earned their place during the entrance exam for a reason. Their quirks were all the flashy, obviously fit for heroics type of ability that Izuku had spent years wishing for. Squandering their chance to be in the best school in the country hadn’t erased the abilities that had gotten them there in the first place. What could Izuku really do in a head on fight against them with such little training under his belt?

Ahead of him the path split, three different paths glinting in the evening light. Izuku didn’t pause before taking the path on the left, a slow grin spreading across his face as he ran. Adrenaline raced through his veins with every step. No. If he was going to win this it wouldn’t be because of his physical abilities alone. That had never been his strong suit to begin with, had never been the reason Aizawa agreed to train him.

He needed a plan that wouldn’t pit him against his competition immediately. Avoiding a fight the entire test wouldn’t be possible, but if he could delay it, let the clock run down, put the fight on his terms…Izuku stopped running in a relatively open space. Buildings circled around him, paths splitting off into different directions. Plenty of places to hide, just enough space to fight if it came down to it.

Aizawa had done so much for him, believed in him, trained him, become someone Izuku couldn’t imagine not having around him. Whatever Nedzu’s intentions for this test were, Izuku wouldn’t fail. He couldn’t afford to.

The sound of buzzer echoed through the field again. Izuku’s fifteen minutes were up. All he could do now was hope that his plan worked.

Bakugou hadn’t spoken to Midoriya Inko since before he started graduated from elementary school. There had been a time, hazy and hard to remember as it was, where he had been almost a constant fixture at the Midoriya household. He could remember Deku trying to sneak him into his room when they had both been told it was too late to play, the days where he had simply gone home with his former friend when school ended and not left again until school the next morning. Dinners spent making faces at Midoriya Hisashi from across the table on the rare occasions he was there.

That time had ended so long ago it wasn’t worth remembering. Bakugou regretted nothing about the way his friendship with Deku had deteriorated, but somehow that still didn’t manage to stop the wave of nostalgia that rose when he stepped up to that same door, unchanged through the years that had passed since he last visited. He didn’t want to visit, didn’t want to take the time talking to Inko when he had so many other things he needed to be doing, but if anyone would be honest with him about what Aizawa had said it would be her.

He may not look up to her anymore, but he trusted her enough to know she wouldn’t lie to him.

Izuku wouldn’t be there, Bakugou had made sure of that before he decided to visit. He had heard his classmate muttering something about a test and “Nedzu” although why Deku would be talking about Yuuei’s principal in such a negative tone (for him at least) when the entrance exam was still over a year away, Bakugou didn’t know. It had a lot of effort to shove down the anger that had risen up once again at the thought of Deku managing to get another foot through the door on his way to becoming a hero, but he had managed it. Barely.

Bakugou had more important things to think about at the moment. He didn’t have time to worry about whatever trouble Deku had managed to land himself in. He would get himself out of it or he wouldn’t. Either way it didn’t concern Bakugou in the slightest.

Still, he hesitated before knocking, his hand stopping just before his knuckles made contact with the smooth wood. He wasn’t afraid. That would be ridiculous. Midoriya Inko was like her son in a lot of ways. If Bakugou were asked to describe her, intimidating wouldn’t make the list of adjectives he would use to describe her. Gentle, maybe. Plain. Too kind for her own good most days. Nothing that would stop him from achieving what he had come here to do. Refusing to waste another second standing outside the apartment for no reason, Bakugou wrapped sharply on the door and waited for a response.

A voice replied, muffled through the door, and Bakugou stepped back as the seconds ticked by.

“Hello, how can I- “Inko’s words cut off abruptly as her eyes lifted to see Bakugou standing in front of her. For a moment they stood there, staring at one another without speaking.

Bakugou shifted, taking a step towards the door again. “Midoriya-“Her surname was all he managed to get out before Inko startled, slamming the door in his face.

Standing in the empty hallway, staring at the door that hadn’t reopened, Bakugou wondered absently if coming to see Deku’s mother hadn’t been a mistake after all.

Igarashi Tetsurou stood with the other first years, watching as the clock counted down the fifteen-minute reprieve Nedzu had granted the middle schooler. He still couldn’t believe that this was the test the great principal of Yuuei had come up with. A game of what was essentially hide and seek with a little kid.

Tetsurou snorted. What a joke.

“Problem, Igarashi-san?” Nedzu asked, making his way over to the group of students. Aizawa eyed them from where he stood, but he made no move to talk to his former students, fiddling with the end of one of his scarves as he watched Nedzu move closer.

“Yeah. I do.” Tetsurou responded, anger coloring his words as a light wind began to pick up around them.

“Tetsu,” Hana said, pulling at his sleeve, but Tetsurou jerked his arm away from his grasp.

“Well then. Go ahead, Placeholder-san,” Nedzu said, his grin sending a shiver down Tetsurou’s spine. “Please. If you have a problem with this test, feel free to share. This is a learning opportunity, after all.”

“The point of this test is to prove we deserve to be in the hero course, isn’t it?” Tetsurou demanded. “Then why do you have us fighting a middle schooler? He isn’t even in a hero course! I don’t care if he’s on track to get in on recommendations or not, what will put us up against him prove?”

Nedzu may have been several feet shorter than the first year, but the look in his eyes made Tetsurou feel like he was facing a giant.

“You don’t even know young Midoriya’s quirk and already you’ve written him off as not a challenge because he’s a few years younger?” Nedzu chuckled. “We may need to tweak that entrance exam after all, Aizawa-sensei, if students lacking such a basic level of common sense can still manage to pass. There are many points to this exam, almost all of which you seem to have missed entirely. I wouldn’t waste my time personally attending this trial if there wasn’t something of importance for you to learn.”

“You-“ Tetsurou stuttered, but Nedzu wasn’t finished.

“As for Midoriya not being in the hero course, I would like to remind you that at this moment neither are you.” Nedzu shrugged, the picture of indifference. “If you would rather not take this test, and accept your movement to the Gen Ed course that is entirely your decision. Either way, I suggest you find some measure of control over your emotions.”

“I’m taking the exam.”

“Yes, that’s what I thought.”

Izuku crouched behind the edge of a building, peeking out at the path that lead to the arena’s entrance.

“Five minutes, twenty-six. Five minutes, twenty-seven. Five minutes, twenty-eight…” he mumbled low under his breath, but the path remained empty. He couldn’t count on it taking the first years as long to reach as position as it did him.

How would they strategize? Izuku wondered as he waited. He knew what he would have done if he had been in their position. Nedzu had said whoever got him across the boundary would be allowed to stay in the hero course, but he had said nothing about them working alone. If Izuku had been faced with trying to capture a single target whose quirk was unknown and he had the option of working with people whose abilities he was well aware of, he wouldn’t hesitate. Would these students think of that though?

Izuku couldn’t be sure, but he hoped for his sake they didn’t. Working his way around one opponent would be hard enough at his current level. If they managed to outnumber his chances of winning would disappear.

Wind whistled through the alley, rattling the loose metal against the buildings. Izuku tensed, eyes trained on the path leading from the entrance. Igarashi Tetsurou rounded the corner moments later, his stormy expression matching his quirk perfectly. Izuku recognized him immediately.

Tetsurou’s profile had been one of the more interesting ones from Aizawa’s current class 1-A. His quirk gave him the ability to manipulate winds. Basic as far as quirks went, but the simplicity to it gave him so many options. Izuku had spent far too much time on his profile when doing those first homework assignments for Aizawa, it had been strange to finally have a name and a face matched with the ability when his mentor had handed over the students’ public files.

The wind user, much to Izuku’s relief, didn’t seem to see him though, running straight passed his hideout at the building’s edge and down the alley in the opposite direction. As much as he wanted to see Tetsurou’s quirk in action, Izuku could live with not having to fight him.

Izuku could still hear Tetsurou’s quirk shaking the metal, but the howling grew quieter and quieter as he continued to move away from him.

“Six minutes, thirty-two. Six minutes, thirty-three…”

The minutes ticked by, but no one else appeared.

“Ten minutes, sixteen. Ten minutes, sevente-” Izuku’s low words cut off in a cough. Too focused on the path ahead of him, he hadn’t noticed the seeds that had started to drift in the air around him. Like the wispy seeds from a dandelion, they hung around his head clinging to where they landed on his clothes and skin.

“Good job, guys,” a voice said from up the path. “I knew I could count on you!”

A girl, her hair almost the exact same shade of green as Izuku’s, stepped into view where Tetsurou had passed only moments ago. Unlike the wind user though, the girl was looking directly at him.

“Aihara Hana,” she said with a grin. “It’s nice to meet you, Midoriya Izuku. Sorry it had to be under such rotten circumstances.”

Izuku’s eyes widened, swatting quickly at the seeds that stuck to him.

Hana laughed. “Oh, don’t worry about those. Their only job was to find you. Great for searching, not so great for combat. But I see you recognize me.” She pouted, placing a hand on her hip. “No doubt Aizawa-sensei shared our files. Doesn’t seem fair, if you ask me. We got no such introduction on your quirk, after all.”

Crouched behind the building’s edge as he was, when Hana decided to attack Izuku would have nowhere to maneuver. She had long range attacks. He didn’t, at least not yet. Should he try and run or try and fight?

Slowly, Izuku stepped out into the open space. “Did you ask for my file?” Izuku responded, moving until he stood in front of the building. Each second that passed brought him closer to the test’s end. If he could keep her talking, keep wasting time-

“I didn’t. So, I guess I can’t really complain after all, can I?”
Izuku couldn’t understand it. Hana, like Tetsurou, had an amazing quirk. A quirk perfect for heroics. Yet she had been kicked out. Now here she was with the chance to earn her spot back and? She didn’t seem that concerned about it. Was that the arrogance in her own skills that Aizawa had complained about or did she actually not care whether or not she passed the test?

If Izuku had been angry before, now he was furious. Sure, Nedzu might have come up with some other test for him before the demonstrations, but at least by then he would have had more time to train. The only reason his future at Yuuei was at stake right now was because of these students. Nedzu had seen the opportunity and taken it, throwing Izuku into something the principal had to have known he was unprepared for. Maybe the point had been to make him angry. Maybe the point had been to push him to his limits to see what he would do, to see how much he could handle when he was in over his head.

“No. I guess you can’t.”

Hana reached into her pocket, pulling out a small packet. “I really am sorry about this, Midoriya-kun.” With a flick of her wrist seeds littered the ground between them. For a moment it seemed as if nothing would happen, but then the ground exploded as huge, thorny vines broke the surface.

He had only a second’s glimpse of them before they shot towards him, covering his line of sight in a green wave of thorns. Scrambling back, Izuku threw himself to the side as the vines converged, hitting the ground where he had been standing and spilling out in every direction.

Izuku hissed in pain as he pulled himself quickly to his feet. The leg of his gym pants had been torn, blood staining the fabric red where a thorn had managed to catch him before he got out of the way. What would have happened if he hadn’t moved out of the way?

Unfazed by the damage her attack had done, Hana pushed back against another vine, choosing a more precise movement over range.

Once again, Izuku barely had time to dodge as the vine lashed out. There was the sound of screeching metal, and Izuku threw his arms over his head, ducking out of the way just as the pipes that had been sticking out overhead crashed to the ground. Hana’s vine had cut straight through them.

“You can’t win this fight, Midoriya-kun,” Hana said. “I didn’t want to hurt you, but I had to make that clear. Come with me now, and I’m sure Nedzu will let you take the entrance exam with everyone else. I might have let Tetsu drag me down, but I deserve to be in the hero course! If anyone is going to pass this test, it’s going to be me.”

Izuku’s mind raced. The crash from the pipes had been loud enough that anyone close by would have had to have heard it. All of the other first years could be on their way to the clearing, and then Izuku would be outnumbered. Even if he could somehow get them fighting each other instead, someone was bound to notice him trying to get away. He couldn’t fight them all at once. He couldn’t run if they all showed up. Izuku needed to end this fight now and put as much distance between himself and the crash as he could.

His eyes landed on the metal pipe at his feet.

“If I don’t pass, this counts as my entrance exam.” Izuku said. “I can’t try for the hero course.”

“You could always try for Gen Ed, move into the hero course that way,” she suggested, as if she weren’t here fighting to stay out of the Gen Ed course as well. “If your quirk is good enough for Aizawa-sensei to support you on recommendations-“She stopped, her eyes narrowing. “What is your quirk anyway?”

Izuku responded by grabbing one of the fallen pipes and launching it at her head.

Hana knocked the pipe aside easily with one of her vines, but the moment’s distraction was all Izuku needed to reach two other pipes that had fallen a short distance away. They weren’t eskrima rods, but they would do in a pinch.

“Dragging me back to the boundary isn’t going to be that easy, Aihara-san” Izuku said, flipping the pipes in his hands to shift his grip. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Chapter Text

Izuku, at first glance, seemed like the kind of person who would have their life together. He had wanted to be a hero for as long as he could remember. Everything he had done had been working towards that end in some way. The pages he had filled with notes on quirks. The hours he had spent tracking down villain fights to witness the pros in action. Someone who didn’t know Izuku very well might look at all of his work and make the mistake of thinking that planning ahead was also something the hero-in-training excelled at.

Could Izuku gather the information he needed, analyze possible solutions, and come up with viable plans to get himself out of the trouble he had landed himself in? Sure. The problem, though, came in what Izuku considered considered to be valid course of action. As he stood in front of Hana, makeshift eskrima rods in hand, only one strategy stood out from all the others. If it worked Izuku could be on his way to a new spot with half the time remaining. If it didn’t he might be having a conversation with Aizawa sooner than he liked. His grip on the pipes tightened as he faced Hana.

She hadn’t moved since his declaration. Instead she watched him, eyebrows drawn down in confusion.

“Pipes?” She asked, vines twisting like snakes in front of her. “What can you do with a pair of broken pipes?”

Not much, Izuku thought to himself. Nedzu had forbidden him from bringing anything with him (The other students don’t get support items, the principal had claimed. Izuku didn’t buy that excuse for a second.), and the weight of the two uneven pieces of metal felt different from the weight Izuku was slowly growing accustomed to feeling in his hands.

Hana wasn’t done talking though. “You know, I have to say I’m kind of disappointed. When Nedzu told us that we would be fighting Aizawa’s middle school apprentice who had already secured a recommendation spot, I thought this fight would be more interesting. I mean you managed to impress Aizawa-sensei, and I didn’t even know that was possible.”

“Your class must be so talented, if that’s the case.”

The vines between them stopped moving.

“Don’t act like you’re better than me just because you’re Aizawa-sensei’s favorite right now,” she said. “If you’re so great, why haven’t you done anything? You haven’t even used your quirk yet. All that one on one training, and yet you’re too afraid to fight me.”

Izuku smiled, head tilted to the side, a reflection of Hana’s stance. “Who says I haven’t?”

Caught up in her own words, Izuku’s question didn’t seem to register for a moment, and when it did Hana took a step back, startled. Her vines pulled back as she moved, trying to follow, but they stayed rooted in the ground where they had sprouted.


At the stunned question Izuku’s smile grew wider. “I said, who says I haven’t already used my quirk? That’s a pretty big assumption to make, Aihara-san. Are you sure it’s the right one?”

“But you haven’t attacked me. You haven’t done anything!” She protested.

“I can understand why you might have missed it,” Izuku said, lowering the rods to his sides without loosening his grip. “It’s pretty subtle if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But did you really expect anything else from someone Aizawa Shouta agreed to train? Subtlety is kind of his thing, isn’t it?”

Hana’s vines worked best from a distance. From what Izuku had seen and the reports Aizawa had given him she didn’t have the precise control needed to counter a close range attack without putting herself in the way too. All Izuku needed to do was close the distance between them enough to limit her options, and Hana’s question had given him the perfect opportunity. Just like with Rave and Asahi, all he needed to do was buy himself a little time.

His eyes darted to the building closest to them. It loomed over them, windowless like all the others.

“You should be feeling it’s effects any minute now,” Izuku continued, inching slowly forward as he spoke, watching Hana carefully in case she decided to attack again. He looked at his bare wrist and shrugged. His grin turned sheepish. “Nedzu wouldn’t let me wear my watch in, so I can’t be one hundred percent sure how much time has passed. The moment you entered this clearing, though, it would have started to accumulate in your system.”

Izuku had studied quirks enough to know that they could be almost anything. Plenty of quirks took prolonged exposure to show any kind of response from the people affected. Maybe if Hana had taken the time to think the situation through she would have realized that it didn’t make sense for Aizawa, a pro who relied on ending his fights before they could really begin, to train someone who would need to drag his battles out with minimal damage, but Hana’s plan had been derailed at Izuku’s response. She had gone into the test thinking she would intimidate a frightened, unprepared, middle school kid into giving up, and here Izuku was telling her she had walked into a trap.

He edged a little closer as she shook her head, stepping even with her vines again. “I don’t believe you. A quirk that requires that much time wouldn’t be fit for the work of a pro hero. There’s no way Aizawa-sensei would train you if that were the case. You’re lying.”

Izuku laughed, wincing as the sound reverberated through the open space. Every moment that passed meant that rest of his competition was getting closer. There was no way to know how much time he had left before they arrived. “Do you really think you know how Aizawa-sensei thinks? You were moved to the Gen Ed course because you couldn’t follow his instructions and take your work seriously. I don’t think you’re in any position to claim you know what would be best to heroics.”

“This is a waste of time,” Hana said, raising her hand. Izuku lifted the pipes just as she flicked her wrist in his direction again. Just like the first time a sea of green shot towards him, but Izuku was ready. He dodged out of the way as the vines converged, leaving Hana open as they smashed into the ground. Izuku had just started towards her when pain seared through his wrist, one lone vine wrapping tightly around it tightly as the others lay in a writhing mass where they had landed.

“I thought you might try to dodge it again, and I have to say that was a better attempt. Not good enough though, I’m afraid.”

Izuku pulled against the force holding his wrist in place, thorns digging into his skin, but the plant didn’t budge.

Hana moved closer. “I told you before I didn’t want to hurt you. Stop pulling against the restraint, and I’ll fix it so it won’t make that injury any worse, Midoriya-kun.”

Three feet separated them, the space between still open as Hana made no move to recall her plants. “You can’t win this fight, Midoriya-kun.”

“You sound like a broken record,” Izuku snapped, pulling against the hold on his wrist again. “Is that all you can say?”


Izuku didn’t wait for her to finish, didn’t wait for her to close the distance between them anymore than she already had. In one smooth motion he kicked at the ground with the side of his foot, sending up a cloud of dust and gravel into Hana’s face. As she shrieked, waving a hand in front of her to try the clear the haze, Izuku brought the uneven edge of the pipe down in the vine leading to his wrist. Hana might have been able to strengthen them with her quirk, but they were still ordinary vines. Distracted as she was, there was nothing stopping Izuku from cutting right through it and launching himself Hana the moment he was free.

She stumbled as his shoulder collided with her chest, arms flailing as she tried to catch her balance. Izuku stepped around her neatly, using her attempt to help him shove her towards the building beside them. She slammed into the wall besides the door, dazed.

“If you get another chance to be a pro hero, Aihara-san,” Izuku said as he opened the door. “I hope you don’t waste it. But I’m not letting you take this opportunity away from me.”

Hana opened her mouth to protest, but Izuku didn’t pause to listen before shoving her into the building and slamming the door shut behind her with a crash. One of the pipes slid easily through the looped handled, blocking Hana from opening it as she banged against the metal from the other side. With no windows for her plants to break through and no dirt on the inside for her to grow new ones, Hana would be stuck until someone let her out.

One problem solved and, if Izuku’s estimate was accurate, a little over half the time left to go. He just had to make it a little longer. He could head further into the field, away from the exit, and hopefully avoid any of the other first years who might have heard the crash. He could do this.

Izuku picked the path directly across from the one Tetsurou had taken, moving as quickly as he could down the side of the building while still keeping an eye out for anyone coming his way. His wrist still ached from where the thorns had torn his skin when he tried to pull himself free, but the bigger problem came with the cut on his leg from Hana’s first attack. Izuku could feel blood running down his leg, pooling in the top of his sock, and every step felt like a flash of fire shooting up his skin.

He spared a moment to be grateful for the adrenaline keeping him from feeling the full extent of the injury as he rounded another corner. If he had to fight anyone else before the end of the test…

But Izuku couldn’t stop because of an injury, not when he was so close to making it through. He refused to let Aizawa down because his reaction hadn’t been fast enough to stop himself from being hurt. He had just taken another step when the world suddenly tilted. A hole had opened up beneath where he stood, a dark circle of nothingness that appeared out of nowhere. Izuku had just enough time to recognize the quirk before he was falling, swallowed by the darkness of the portal.

For a moment Izuku found surrounded by inky blackness before another portal opened a few feet above the ground. The pain in his wrist and leg flared as he smashed into the ground, stars dotting his vision as he stumbled to his feet and ran to the closest building.

Another portal opened behind him.

Izuku cursed, latching onto a low hanging pipe. If having to fight Hana had been bad, this was the nightmare scenario. The worst possible person he could have run into at that moment.

Hirai Shiro. Quirk: Portals

“You’re lucky you made it out that far, Midoriya,” Shiro said, closing the portal he had come through. Any closer and I would have been able to drop you back outside the arena.

He hadn’t looked around to see where Shiro had deposited him, too concerned with finding something stable to hang on to, but at the first year’s words Izuku looked up and felt his stomach drop. Less than fifty yards away stood the entry gate, the boundary line glaring a bright red even from that distance. Aizawa and Nedzu weren’t standing in view of the gate, but Izuku knew they were there. Watching as the situation fell apart around him.

If Izuku let himself get caught up in another one of Shiro’s portals that was it. Test over. A single mistake on his part and he would fail. All that running, all that effort to put himself as far away from the boundary as possible had been for nothing. Izuku’s grip on the pipe tightened.

From the profile he wrote on Shiro he remembered that, even though he had no size limit on the portal, he could only make one at once. If he opened another one underneath him, Izuku could stop himself from falling by hanging onto the pipe, but there was nothing to prevent Shiro from physically forcing him to let go once he had the portal open.
“Wait wait wait,” Izuku said. Could he stall again? It had worked with Hana but...What should he say? His mind raced, but he came up with nothing. No plans. No distractions. Hana had been caught up in her arrogance and the assumption that she could bully Izuku into giving up. Shiro seemed to be under so such misconceptions, and it was only luck that Izuku hadn’t failed the first time he fell through Shiro’s portal.

He couldn’t let go of the pipe or Shiro would drop him outside the boundary. If Izuku didn’t let go of the pipe he couldn’t fight him. And if he did nothing then he might end up losing anyway. There had to be a solution, but Izuku couldn’t see it. Panic settled in his throat for the first time since the test began.

“Did you have something you wanted to say before you lose?” Shiro asked, making no move to come closer.

“Actually, yes-” Izuku started.

“Well too bad,” Shiro cut him off. “I saw your fight with Aihara. Talking to you won’t get me anywhere. I have better things to do than hang around here.”

At Shiro’s words a portal opened up beneath him again. Quickly, Izuku pulled himself up so that the tip of his shoe barely touched the dark surface. He could only imagine what he looked like, hanging above the portal with only the overhead pipe to keep him from falling. Shiro certainly looked unimpressed.

“You’re actually going to make me come over there and force you to let go aren’t you?” Shiro asked, his voice dripping with boredom. “The whole point of this plan was minimal effort.”

“That might be your problem in the first place,” Izuku commented, teeth gritted as his injured wrist screamed in protest. He forced the pain down, focusing on Shiro. “Maybe you wouldn’t be in this situation if you had been in a little more work?”

“I honestly don’t care what you think,” Shiro responded. “Now let’s get this over with.”

“Hold up, Hirai!” A voice yelled. Izuku and Shiro both winced at the sound.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Shiro said, the portal under Izuku sputtering closed.

Izuku cursed, but didn’t let go of the pipe. How had he gotten here already? The last time Izuku had seen him he had been running even further into the maze than Izuku had gone. Had the path he picked looped back around?

Shiro didn’t look happy with this turn of events either, which did nothing to make Izuku feel better about his chances at this ending any way other than in a fight.

“Thanks for helping out, Hirai,” Tetsurou said, jogging into view. “I think I’ll take it from here.”

Chapter Text

Hindsight, they say, is always twenty/twenty.

Izuku had heard that saying before, but the truth of the statement had never been clearer. Looking back at that moment after the test’s end-Shiro and Tetsurou facing off in front of him. Izuku hanging onto the pipe, the toes of his shoes just barely scraping the ground- all of the possible paths stretched out in front of him. All of the choices he could have made to end with a different outcome.

It seemed so simple then, what he should have done, how he should have reacted to that seemingly impossible situation. But with adrenaline pumping through his veins and the sound of his heart pounding painfully in his chest, all he could feel was panic. This was why he needed Aizawa. This was why he needed training. Because for all his intelligence, for all his talents that led Aizawa to accept his proposal in the first place, when it came down to it Izuku was still just a thirteen year old kid thrown into combat with his future on the line. So there he hung, injured, overwhelmed, with no idea how he was going to get himself out of the mess he had literally fallen into.

It said something that Izuku felt more stressed in a monitored test than during an actual kidnapping, but Izuku refused to consider the implications of that now.

Silence filled the clearing as the first years faced each other, neither willing to make the first move. Izuku tried to push past the fog that had filled his mind while he still had the chance. The impasse they had reached wouldn’t be permanent. At any moment the standstill would break, and if Izuku didn’t act in just the right way the only loser there would be him.

Bluffing had bought him time with Hana, but Shiro hadn’t been so easily goaded. Would Tetsurou fall for the same trick? If Izuku spoke up, tried to play the first years against each other, would it give him the opportunity he needed to escape? No. He couldn’t risk drawing attention to himself when they seemed too distracted by each other. If they decided to work together he was through, and yet no option he could come up with seemed any better.

So many choices, no choices at all. Izuku stayed frozen, paralyzed in his indecision as the seconds ticked by.

“I don’t have to time to tell you all of the reasons why your comment didn’t make sense, Tetsu, and I don’t plan on ever having to see you again. So just imagine the snarky comment I would usually make in this moment,” Shiro said, finally breaking the silence. His back was still towards him, but Izuku didn’t trust that for a second. As soon as he let go of the pipe Shiro could turn and open another portal underneath him. If Tetsurou would just react the right way though…

Izuku ignored the numb feeling that had spread from where Hana’s vines had grabbed him as he held himself up. He might not have been able to see Shiro’s face, but he could imagine the smug expression he must have been wearing. From Tetsurou’s grimace, it had to have been as infuriating as Izuku thought.

The wind user took another step closer, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. With each movement the air seemed to move around them, shifting too rapidly to be natural.

“As you can see, I’m a little busy winning at the moment. I’m sure you can see yourself out.” Shiro’s words seemed to be the catalyst, the last spark needed to set off the catastrophe that had been brewing since Izuku had first been dropped in front of the boundary.

Everything happened so quickly. It should have been impossible for Izuku to remember things as clearly as he did. Adrenaline tends to blur the lines, he had been told, events connected too closely to be picked apart. But Izuku could picture the next few seconds perfectly long after the details should have faded.

The dirt below Tetsurou’s feet wavered, fading as another portal began to open. Slower, it seemed to Izuku, than it had before but still too sudden to avoid if the wind user hadn’t been expected it, but Tetsurou was prepared. The hand that had been closed in a tight fist again opened, sending a steady and explosive burst of air towards the ground right before a circle of inky darkness burst open below him. Another stream of wind rocketed towards Shiro, and the portal closed with a snap as he lost sight of it dodging out of the way of Tetsurou’s attack.

Tetsurou couldn’t hold himself up for long. As soon as his feet touched back down another portal began to take shape. The cycle continued. Shiro would try to trap Tetsurou. Tetsurou would attack back. Shiro would dodge. Their fight continued on, both oblivious to Izuku, too caught up in their own actions. Just like the silence, something would eventually break through, but for now this was the best chance Izuku was going to get. They were distracted, and he only needed a moment. Once he got out of sight Shiro’s quick would have no effect on him, and their fighting would ensure that neither of them would get close enough to catch him again.

Izuku took a deep breath and let go of the pipe, wincing as gravel crunched under his feet. Shiro and Tetsurou paid him no mind as he started to slowly creep towards the building’s edge. Once he made it around the corner he could run. He had lost track of the time after Shiro dropped him in front of the exit, but they had to be close to the test’s end. Just around the corner. He could do that. The first years hadn’t noticed him so far. He would be fine.

He wasn’t fine.

Because almost as soon as the thought crossed his mind, Shiro fell. Izuku could see it out of the corner of his eye, and even though he knew he needed to keep going, needed to be out of sight long before Tetsurou remembered the object of the test, he couldn’t stop himself from turning to watch. Slipping on the loose gravel, Shiro had lost his balance just as another shot of wind raced towards him. There was nothing he could do to move out of the way. The blast collided with his chest.

Izuku knew Tetsurou’s quirk had power. That had been one of the first details Aizawa had noted in his file. Reading about his strength and seeing it were two entirely different things though. The blast that hit Shiro didn’t just knock him off his feet, it sent him flying across the field until he landed, sprawled, just a few feet from the boundary. He didn’t move.

Tetsurou grinned at the sight before turning slowly towards Izuku, still standing at the building’s edge.

“If you’re hoping that another one of those idiots in my class are going to come along and give you another chance to escape,” Tetsurou said, advancing on him, “don’t bother. No one besides Shiro over there is going to be brave enough to challenge me.”

As much as he wanted to point out that Tetsurou wasn’t in any position to be calling other people idiots, Izuku knew it wouldn’t do him any good. The first year seemed completely unbothered by his fight with Shiro, as if the repeated use of his quirk had done nothing to push him towards his limits. Even with Shiro no longer a concern Izuku was in more trouble than he had originally thought. Tetsurou blocked his only path deeper into the field, and although the space around them was large the only thing behind Izuku was the boundary.

“Don’t run, Midoriya. There’s nowhere for you to go.”

Izuku knew it was a stupid thing to do. He could picture the exasperated expression on Aizawa’s face once he realized what crazy stunt his student was about to pull. Tetsurou was right. Izuku didn’t have anywhere to run. He didn’t have any other tricks up his sleeve. But he couldn’t let the test end without trying, without fighting until the very last second, and so he did something no one would expecting, knowing while he did it that it wouldn’t work. Things had to end, but the least Izuku could do was end it on his terms.

“Now I can use my quirk on you if I have to,” Tetsurou said, “but it would be so much easier for everyone if you would just-”

His words cut off as Izuku charged. He had no plan now, no next step. If Izuku could get past him and get back into the maze, then great. If he couldn’t then at least he didn’t give up.

Wind rose and slammed into him with a force he couldn’t have expected. Izuku gasped as he slammed into the ground, the breath knocked out of his lungs. He was still reeling when Tetsurou dragged him to his feet again, and Izuku didn’t know what felt worse-the burning in his lungs, the numbness surrounding his wrist, or the sharp sting that shot through his leg as he was forced to put more weight on it than he should have.

“I guess we’ll do it the hard way then,” Tetsurou grunted, and started dragging Izuku back towards the boundary by his arm.

Stumbling after him, Izuku kicked out at Tetsurou’s leg, desperate to trip him up as the line grew closer. Aizawa had shown him what to do in this exact situation. What to do when captured by someone bigger and stronger than he was. How to use his opponent’s weight against them. He should have been able to get himself free, but Tetsurou danced out of the way of his strike, pulling Izuku off balance once again.

“Stop fighting me, Midoriya.”

Izuku responded by the arm holding him and twisting, digging his fingers into Tetsurou’s skin. The first year howled, loosening his grip enough that Izuku could jerk free, but not before he was pushed forward towards the boundary.

Raising his hands, Tetsurou sent another wave of wind in Izuku’s direction. It wasn’t as strong as the previous one, and Izuku managed to stay on his feet, but he couldn’t stop himself from being shoved backwards. His feet slid across the dirt as the strength of the wind increased.

“I have to be a hero,” Tetsurou said, gritting his teeth, finally looking as if using his quirk was taking its toll on him. “I have to win.”

But why does that have to ruin my chance? Izuku thought as he tried to fight against the wind. He couldn’t break free of the stream, air seeming to push against him from all sides as he inched closer and closer to the boundary. Why was his shot being traded away for someone who had wasted their perfect opportunity? He tried to speak, to yell. Anything that would save him from having to watch his dream die when he had been so close. So close to success. So close to having his dream come true. Before it all vanished out from under him.

His feet crossed the line.

The buzzer sounded.

Izuku had lost.

Aizawa, in that moment, hated Nedzu more than anything.

He had recognized the reckless streak in Midoriya when they first met. An unarmed, inexperienced kid going to the home of a stranger with no thought for his safety. Inko’s stories of her son tracking down villain fights had only confirmed what he had already guessed. When he agreed to take on Midoriya as his student he had accepted the fact that he would have to do something to curb that instinct.

It was all well and good that Midoriya wanted to save people. Injuries were an inescapable part of being a pro hero. But there was something about Midoriya, something in the hardened set of his eyes when he met Aizawa’s challenges head on, the edge to his smile that seemed to cut straight through Aizawa’s defenses. It reminded him of another hero who seemed to radiate the same kind-hearted goodness, and Aizawa had seen the results of that kind of selflessness. He wanted more than anything to shield his young student from the same fate.

Don’t send students into situations they weren’t prepared for.

That had been Aizawa’s mantra from the very beginning, and he hated Nedzu for making him go back on his word. Guilt and anger settled in the pit of his stomach as the test began, and Midoriya entered the arena alone. He could only watch as his charge made his way towards the back of the field and, honestly, Aizawa felt that Midoriya had made the right decision. Hiding did nothing for him if it meant trapping himself in what was essentially a metal box. If Midoriya could recognize that there were situations where avoiding a fight could be the correct response, then maybe Aizawa didn’t have as much cause for concern as he thought.

Then Aihara Hana found him, and that small spark of hope snuffed itself out almost as soon as it had begun. Anyone else watching might have missed it, but Aizawa had spent a lot of time around Midoriya Izuku. A lot of his life the past few weeks had been spent trying to pick the puzzle that was his student’s mind apart. He was overly familiar with the grin that spread across Midoriya’s face, an armor of fake confidence and true intellect woven together so sharply that Aizawa was afraid Midoriya would cut himself with it one day. Another potential danger to keep an eye on.

Yet familiar as it was, it didn’t keep Aizawa from noticing the shaking in Midoriya’s hands as he tried to bluff his way out of that fight. Because if there was anything Aizawa had learned about Midoriya in the time they had known each other it was that for all good reasons the kid had for wanting to be a hero his need for a challenge, that rush of adrenaline, was always lying underneath the surface. It didn’t make Midoriya’s desire to help people less genuine. Didn’t diminish the fact that above all else, Midoriya wanted to help people. If Aizawa were being honest, he wasn’t even sure if Midoriya was aware of it himself.

Aizawa had planned on discussing it later in their training once Midoriya had gained a little more confidence in himself, but circumstances had prevented that. Nedzu had prevented that, and the fact that Aizawa had to watch while his student was put in situation after situation that could have potentially played against every single one of Midoriya’s self-destructive tendencies made him sick to his stomach.

So yeah, the principal was not his favorite person at that exact moment. Midoriya’s fight with Igarashi Tetsurou had only succeeded in bumping up that hatred to a previously unreached level.

Tetsurou yelled, celebrating his victory, but Aizawa’s eyes were on Midoriya who stood just outside the field’s boundary as if he could inch his way back across with no one the wiser. It was moments like these, his student looking as if he were trying to make himself as small as possible, the Aizawa realized just how young Midoriya actually was.

“You’re hurt,” Aizawa said, and Midoriya flinched. Whether from the sound of his voice or his sudden presence Aizawa didn’t know.

“I’m okay,” Midoriya said, refusing to meet his mentor’s eyes as his voice broke. “It’s just a scratch.” Aizawa bit back a sigh. This was just what he had been afraid of.

“I believe I’ll be the judge of that.” Recovery Girl has arrived to the testing site not long after Midoriya entered. She took his wrist gently, frowning at what she saw. “This one wouldn’t have been so bad if you hadn’t pushed yourself past your limits, Midoriya Izuku. When something hurts as much as this must have that means that something’s wrong.” She tapped him gently on the head. “You’re too smart not to know you were making it worse with everything you were doing. And that leg!” She tutted, wrapping a bandage around his wrist. “What was Nedzu thinking, organizing a test like this.”

“I couldn’t give up just because I was hurt.” Midoriya said, still looking at the ground. “Not after everything Aizawa-sensei-”

“Do not put this on me.” Aizawa interrupted, and maybe he should have phrased his response a little better because Midoriya flinched again at his words, but Aizawa had to stop him before he continued on down that train of thought. “Never put anyone’s opinion of you above your safety, Midoriya. Least of all mine.” Aizawa felt fairly certain there was nothing the boy could do that would lower his opinion on him at this point.

Midoriya’s face grew red, but he still didn’t look at him as Recovery Girl began to examine the cut on his leg. “I’m sorry I let you down, sir.”

If Hizashi was there, he would have hugged him. As it was, Aizawa placed a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t remember saying you let me down.”

Finally Midoriya moved, head jerking up to stare at Aizawa, eyes wide as he seemed on the verge of tears. “But I failed-I- After everything you did, all that training, I still couldn’t pass and…”

“And nothing. I would have appreciated you not getting injured, but the responsibility for that lies with the principal. It seems we’ll be adding some discussions on how to deal with injuries to your schedule. I should have addressed that after the warehouse incident. An oversight on my part.”

“Schedule?” Midoriya asked. Recovery Girl swatted at him again as he tried to take a step forward.

“Be still, Midoriya Izuku, or I will drag you to my office myself.”

Midoriya moved back, but otherwise didn’t comment, eyes still on Aizawa. “You mean you’re still going to train me?”

Aizawa arched an eyebrow at him, tugging on his goggles. “Did you really think I would let Nedzu put all our work to waste? I’ve invested a lot of time into you, kid. I plan on seeing things through.”

Midoriya looked like he wanted to throw himself at Aizawa again, but a stern look from Recovery Girl kept him in place. “I-thank you.”

“Hey, Midoriya!”

Igarashi Tetsurou had finished celebrating, it seemed, and had made his way back over to their little group.

“You put up more of a fight than I had been expecting from a middle schooler, but I have to ask, not that it would have made a difference, but why didn’t you use your quirk? You had plenty of chances there at the end. I figured a kid on recommendations had to have something powerful coming, but you never did anything.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” Midoriya said, and although the smile on his face was obviously forced, Aizawa felt a surge of pride for how his student’s voice didn’t waver. “That’s because I don’t have one.”

“You don’t...have one?” Tetsurou repeated, because he had heard that wrong. “You don’t have a quirk?”


“And you were getting in on recommendations? That’s ridiculous! You can’t be a hero without a quirk.”

Aizawa started to intervene, but the words caught in his throat as he saw Nedzu approach, shaking his head with a smile on his face that Aizawa recognized instantly. Whatever Nedzu had planned would be a hundred times worse than anything Aizawa would have come up with in that second.

“Ridiculous?” The principal asked. “What’s ridiculous is have so many students expelled or demoted because they didn’t take a competitive program like ours seriously. But you’ve done it, Igarashi Tetsurou. You have earned the right to take the test to get back in the hero course. You should be very proud of that, I suppose, although you still have a lot of work left ahead of you if you don’t want to fall behind.”

The smile on Nedzu’s face only grew as his words registered with the first year.

“Wait… The right to take the test? I thought this was the test!” Tetsurou looked panicked now, looking at the principal as if expecting him to say that he had only been joking.

“Of course not, Igarashi-san!” Nedzu’s laugh rang with condescension. “Midoriya isn’t even a Yuuei student yet! Did you actually think that redeeming yourself in the school’s eyes after your actions would be that simple? You’ve won your second chance at the hero course, but that’s all it is. A chance.”

“But-” Tetsurou started, stunned.

“I needed footage of Midoriya to show the school board, and you first years provided the perfect opportunity,” Nedzu’s smile turned to Aizawa. “Your student did far better than I had anticipated, Aizawa-sensei. I have plenty of proof now to reassure the board that creating an extra recommendation slot for Midoriya is not a waste of school resources.”

Midoriya found the words that Aizawa couldn’t.

“You lied?” He asked, and the heartbroken tone in his voice twisted something in Aizawa’s chest. “I was never going to lose my recommendation spot because of this?”

Nedzu chuckled. “Of course not, my boy! I told you that I trusted Aizawa-sensei’s judgement in this matter, but I couldn’t go to the board with something as insubstantial as a gut feeling! I needed proof, and now I have it.”

“You didn’t have to put him through that, Nedzu-san.” Aizawa said, the anger that he had pushed aside to check on his student rising to the surface again. “He would have done his best even without that extra pressure on him.”

“Come now, Aizawa-sensei,” Nedzu said, still smiling. “You know I couldn’t take that chance, not when everyone is ready to tear us down for admitting a quirkless student without a proper demonstration of his skills. It was only, what did you once call it, a logical ruse? Surely you can’t fault me for that.”

Chapter Text

Inko hadn’t meant to slam the door in a thirteen year old’s face, but some things just happened when one unexpectedly came face to face with their son’s ex best friend, current tormentor. Especially when that aforementioned son was currently off taking a seemingly impossible test designed to make him fail while crushing all his hopes and dreams in the process.

Given the circumstances, Inko thought, her reaction could have been a lot worse.

But why would Bakugou Katsuki come to their apartment? His visits had stopped long ago, coming to an abrupt halt the day his quirk had manifested, and he hadn’t been back since. Even the recent kidnapping hadn’t been enough to drive the two old friends back together. So why would he come here now?

Not for the first time, Inko wondered what it must have been like looking in from the other side of their-conflict? Separation? No word seemed to fit their situation and the depth that Katsuki’s decisions had struck at in Izuku. Mitsuki had paid the boys’ deteriorating friendship little concern when they had separated, insisting that they were simply growing apart, but Inko had always known better. It was her son, after all, who had been subjected to Katsuki’s bullying day in and day out. Her friend might not be as blind to her son’s faults as most, but she couldn’t believe that Katsuki would abandon his best friend for nothing. Inko tried to imagine what it would have been like if their situations had been reversed, but the mental image of her kind hearted Izuku as a bully would never form. Maybe that’s what it was like for Mitsuki too.

What was she supposed to do now though? Inko felt fairly confident that she still had a pretty firm grasp on his personality despite the years that had passed since she had last spoken to him. Which meant that Katsuki was probably still standing outside their apartment waiting for her to open the door again, ignoring the seconds that had ticked by as Inko had her own panic that could rival Izuku’s on a good day. She couldn’t just leave him there. He would either start banging on the door or hang around until Izuku and Aizawa returned, and what then? Inko hadn’t wanted to go with them to the test, too worried that her own nerves would hurt Izuku’s confidence. What would Izuku do if the test had gone poorly only to come home and find Katsuki glaring at the door?

No. Inko needed to know why Katsuki had stopped by. For Izuku’s sake as well as her own curiosity. If he had come to cause some kind of trouble then Inko would simply send him on his way, and that would be the end of that. She would give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment, and if the was wrong then at least she could make sure he was gone before Izuku and Aizawa returned.

When she opened the door Katsuki hadn’t moved, still standing in the hallway glaring at the door frame as if it had somehow managed to personally offend him in the ten seconds Inko had left him standing by himself. At the sound of the door opening again Katsuki turned, his sharp look landing on Inko for a moment before he realized he was no longer alone.

“Katsuki,” Inko said, forcing a smile on her face. “It’s good to see you remember where we live after all this time.”

“Like I could forget something so stupid,” Katsuki responded. Inko couldn’t be sure whether Katsuki had ignored the steeled edge to her words or if he just hadn’t noticed it. Either way the sound of his voice grated at her already fraying nerves.

Taking a deep breath, she took a moment to remind herself of all the reasons she couldn’t verbally destroy a thirteen year old boy.

“Izuku’s not here.”

“I’m not here to see De-” Katsuki cut off, glaring at something behind Inko as he started again. “I’m not here to see him.”

Well. That was unexpected. Inko could think of no reason for Katsuki to need to see her. It was possible Mitsuki had sent him, but Inko didn’t think so. Not when she took a second look at Katsuki and realized...was he nervous? Katsuki didn’t show his nerves the same way Izuku did with restless hands and rambling words, but Inko recognized the signs all the same. Time hadn’t been enough to wipe the memory of a younger Katsuki from her mind.

Katsuki didn’t fidget where he stood outside her doorway. His eyes still met hers with unwavering determination. The only sign that there was anything out of the ordinary about his visit-besides the visit itself- was the slight shaking of his hands that he had closed in tight, pale fists. Inko’s talent for observation was as sharp or as practiced as her son’s, but Izuku had gotten the talent from somewhere. As much as Inko wanted to close the door in his face again and get back to waiting on news from Hizashi, she couldn’t let Katsuki leave. Not when something was clearly wrong. No matter her own personal feelings about him, Bakugou Katsuki was still a child who needed help, and Inko couldn’t turn him away when he came looking for it.

Inko sighed. “Come in, Katsuki. I’ll make us some tea while you tell me what’s wrong.” Katsuki started at her words before Inko turned her back towards him, already moving towards the kitchen. So she had been right after all. “And close the door behind you.”

There was the sound of the door closing a little harder than necessary, and Inko didn’t look back to see if Katsuki had decided to follow her to the kitchen. She might not have been able to let him leave knowing something was wrong, but if they were going to have this conversation it would be on her terms.

“Take a seat, Katsuki-kun.” Inko said, moving the kettle to the stove.

Katsuki didn’t speak as he pulled out a chair. No sharp words or barbed insults, just a scoff and the sound of the chair scraping against the floor. Inko didn’t speak either as she went about preparing the tea, trying to calculate how much time she could spare him before she ran the risk of Izuku returning. She would give him half an hour, she decided. Half an hour to get whatever he had come here to say off his chest, and if he still hadn’t solved whatever this problem was that he for some reason had determined she was the solution for then...She really didn’t owe him anything.

Compassion had let Katsuki into her apartment, but Inko would always put Izuku first. If the problem persisted she would call Mitsuki. Let his mother help if thirty minutes of Inko’s time wasn’t enough. But how to address it? Inko knew what she would do to help Izuku, but a hug and a gentle prod at the source of the issue wouldn’t work in this situation.

Placing a cup in front of Katsuki, Inko pulled out her own chair. A gentle approach with Izuku worked, in part, because Izuku was a gentle hearted person. His instinct was always to blame himself for his problems because he assumed the best out of everyone. Katsuki himself being the best example of that, of course. It had taken Izuku years to admit that Katsuki’s behavior wasn’t acceptable, wasn’t his fault, wasn’t the actions of a friend. What would work for someone who was almost the complete opposite then?

Katsuki stared at her. Inko stared back. He seemed in no hurry speak as their limited time slowly ticked by. She had to do something to move this along, but what? Inko waited until Katsuki picked up his mug, grimacing at the herbal smell, to finally speak. “We both know this isn’t a social call, Katsuki. Go ahead.”

“What?” He snapped, slamming the mug back down, tea spilling over the glass’s edge.

“Whatever you need to talk to me about. Go ahead. Believe it or not, I don’t actually have all day to wait around for you to get to the point. Ask what you need to ask or leave.” The words tasted sour as Inko spoke, but she didn’t know what else to try. This was okay, right? Oh no, what if she had miscalculated? Katsuki always acted directly, so Inko had thought that a direct approach would be best but-

“I have the perfect kind of quirk to be a pro hero,” Katsuki started. Inko immediately bit back another sigh. So it was going to be this kind of conversation.

“There isn’t a perfect quirk for being a hero, Katsuki,” Inko replied, frowning down at her own mug. Maybe she had misjudged the situation. If Katsuki came to brag or to complain more about Izuku training with Aizawa, she would have no qualms with depositing him right back outside her door again.

His scowl deepened, and his grip on the mug tightened.. “What makes you say that?” The tone remained the same, still just as biting as if the very thought of him being wrong was ludicrous. But the words themselves gave Inko pause.

“You are right that a quirk like yours is more suited towards being a hero,” Inko allowed, tracing the Yuuei logo on the mug she had gotten for Izuku as she wondered where this conversation was going. “But I wouldn’t say that any quirk can be ‘perfect for being a hero’ as you said because when it comes down to it a quirk is only as good as the person’s ability to use it effectively.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Well, even the most powerful quirk would be no use if you don’t know how to use it properly. If you don’t know how to adapt your ability to your situation, then what is your quirk really worth as a hero?”

Inko had been doing a lot of thinking about quirks and their role in heroics ever since Izuku started training with Aizawa. Looking back at how she had responded to her son’s dream to be a hero when he was younger and learning what it really meant to be quirkless, she couldn’t help but regret the way that she had handled the situation.

Quirks would always be a big part of heroics. There would be no escaping that. Quirks were the only reason that being a pro hero was even a profession. They were incredible shows of power and wonder that so rarely came in a society where super powers were the norm, and people depended on that entertainment almost as much as their own security. The problem came though, when people had started equating quirks with goodness, or usefulness, or the only way to be strong. Inko had allowed herself to buy into that same mentality, and had let Izuku down when he needed her the most. Of course having a strong quirk wasn’t the only way to be a hero. She should have known even then that if anyone could find a way to prove everyone wrong it would have been Izuku.

Katsuki huffed. “You sound just like him,” he said, flicking the handle of the mug. “Aizawa. Eraserhead. Whatever.”

“You talked to Aizawa-san about this?” Inko couldn’t help but ask. The pro hero hadn’t talked much about his brief meeting with Katsuki other than to say that it had happened. Inko would be lying if she said she wasn’t curious about how that conversation might have gone.

“Old man called me out to that creepy ass warehouse of his,” Katsuki said. “Said some shit about a quirk not being all it takes to be a hero. Told me to think about how I used my power over Deku, or some nonsense like that.”

Aizawa hadn’t mentioned anything about that to Inko, but she didn’t doubt it. It sounded like something he would say. Except-

“Deku?” The word sounded flat and cold through Inko’s empty apartment.

Katsuki grimaced. “Aizawa didn’t like it either. It’s just a stupid nickname. I don’t get what his fucking deal is.”

“Yes. You do.” Inko argued. “Lying when you’ve come to me for help isn’t going to do anything for you, Katsuki.”

“I’m not lying!” Katsuki tried to argue, shoving the mug back across the table, but Inko wasn’t having it.

“You started to call him that name when you first got here, but you cut yourself off. Didn’t you?” She countered, her voice just as steady as before despite her words cutting like ice. “If you didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, if it was really just a silly nickname, then why would you do that?”

“That-” But Katsuki’s protest died before it could even begin.

Inko was going to buy Aizawa a present, because the look of confusion on Katsuki’s face was something she had never imagined she would get to see. Not because she enjoyed the struggle Katsuki seemed to be going through, of course, but because she had never thought that a day would come where Katsuki might realize that the way that he had been acting-the way that he had been treating Izuku- wasn’t the right thing to do after all. She had watched for years as teachers and Katsuki’s parents let his behavior slide, never able to do something about it herself.

And all it had taken was one conversation with Aizawa to plant that tiny seed of doubt.

“And have you? Thought about how you’ve treated Izuku?”

The anger drained from Katsuki’s face as he pouted, mumbling just low enough that Inko couldn’t make it out.

“What was that?”

“I have okay!” Katsuki snapped. “I have and it’s bullshit! No one has said anything to me about having power over Deku, or whatever the fuck Aizawa was trying to tell me. We’ve been in school together for years. I’ve called him Deku for as long as I can remember. Not a single one of our idiotic teachers has said a single fucking word to me about it. And why is that! Huh? Because it’s not a problem!”

“Then why are you here, Katsuki?” Inko asked, making sure the younger boy met her sharp gaze. “If you really didn’t think that was a problem you wouldn’t be talking to me for the first time since you and Izuku stopped being friends.”

“I-” But again, his words seemed to fail him. Katsuki seemed genuinely torn. Inko couldn’t imagine what he must be feeling in that moment. Aizawa had somehow managed to shift Katsuki’s world just enough for him to start questioning things he had never considered before, and it had to be terrifying realizing that everything you thought to be true might not be…

“I’m going to be frank with you, Katsuki? Is that okay? Because you came to me for answers, and there are some things you need to hear.” Katsuki might have been an egotistical bully, but he was still a child. An intelligent child who could maybe learn from the mistakes the adults in his life had failed to save him from.

“Whatever,” came the grumbled response. Inko would take what she could get.

“I don’t know what exactly Aizawa-san said to you,” Inko said, taking a sip from her mug as she tried to decide the best way to start, “but I can guess. Like I said before, when it comes to having a versatile quirk and knowing how to use it effectively, you have an advantage. No quirk can be perfect for heroics, but I’m not going to deny that you have a better chance than most. There’s more to being a hero than just being powerful or intelligent, though. And that other element is going to be the thing that holds you back if you aren’t careful and really take this opportunity to think about your actions.”

Katsuki exploded. “Holds me back? There’s nothing that’s going to-”

“Katsuki,” Inko interrupted. “I mean this in the kindest way possible. But you need to shut up and listen to what I have to say. You came here to ask for advice, right? You wanted my perspective. Now respect me enough to not waste my time. If you don’t want to listen to me, then there’s no point to having this conversation. You can go ahead and leave.”


Inko struggled to hide her smile as Katsuki remained in his seat, glaring at the table but making no move to leave. Progress indeed.

“Putting it simply, Katsuki, you’ve been a bully. You’ve belittled others, and dragged their insecurities out for the world to see. You’re quirk gave you a level of leeway with your teachers, and you’ve used the power you’ve been given to make others miserable. You want to be a hero, but do those sound like the actions of a hero to you?”

Katsuki huffed again, but didn’t protest.

“People have let you get away with this behavior for years, and I can’t speak to their reason, but they have done you a great disservice. Maybe if someone had told you know, had stopped feeding your ego, had helped you realize the consequences for your actions you wouldn’t be in this situation,” Inko said, and her heart ache for the struggle that he would have to face, despite how much she hated what he had done to her son. Katsuki was responsible for his own actions, and he would have to deal with the repercussions of what he had done if he truly wanted to change, but that didn’t change the fact that every adult in his life up until this point had failed him.

“I’m not saying this to hurt you,” Inko continued, trying to remain calm as she wondered if she was really doing the right thing. “But if you are serious about being if a hero, you need to examine the reasons why. Are you doing this because you want to be the best? Because it makes you feel strong? Powerful? Or are you doing this because you want to help people, because you want to make the world a better place. If it’s the power you’re after, then I suppose the path you’re on right now is fine. But if it’s the latter? You need to think about how your actions have been counter to that. You have so much potential, Katsuki. There is so much you can do to help others and build a better future, and you won’t be able to live up to that potential if all you do is use the strength you’ve been gifted with to hurt others.”

“Toshinori! You came!”

Nedzu sat with his back turned towards the door, eyes on the papers he had in hand, but Toshinori wasn’t surprised in the least that the principal’s call came the moment he stepped in view of the doors. Knowing him, Nedzu probably had camera’s lined up and down the hallway he had just exited.

“How could I say no when you asked so nicely?” Toshinori replied, pulling out the chair in front of Nedzu’s desk and taking a seat. “But if this is about your offer…”

Turning back to face him, Nedzu waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry, don’t worry. I know when to let things go. For now.” The smile he fixed on Toshinori was anything but reassuring. “I’ll wait to try again next year. Who knows. Maybe you’ll finally say yes.”

“Maybe,” Toshinori allowed, rubbing sheepishly at the back of his neck. “But I don’t really think I would be that great of a teacher. I have no experience, and my situation is a little..unique.”

“Well, we’ll have to see about that,” Nedzu said, moving to pull something from his desk drawer. “But that really wasn’t the reason I asked you here today. How much time are you down to with your quirk?”

Toshinori started at the question. “Three hours. Three and a half max. It’s still decreasing though. Why?”

“Because there’s something I think you need to see,” Nedzu answered, opening a laptop he placed gently on the table in front of him. A paused video filled the screen.

“Meet Midoriya Izuku,” the principal said, still smiling, and hit play.

Chapter Text

Inko sat alone, two empty mugs drying on her kitchen counter, when the sound of the deadbolt clicking sounded through the apartment. Inko hadn’t move from her spot after she escorted Katsuki out of their apartment a little over half an hour ago. The boy hadn’t protested, too shocked by what she had said to put up any real fight, and Inko had gone back to thinking about every single thing that could have gone wrong while Izuku was gone. And now here he was. For better or worse the test had ended. Izuku had returned.

The door had barely opened before Inko was there, slamming into the first body that stepped inside and pulling them into a tight, bone crushing hug. “Oh, Izuku! I’m so glad you’re back! Tell me everything!”

“Mom?” Came the strangled reply. “I don’t think Aizawa-sensei, can um-” Izuku’s words cut off, choking on a laugh. “I don’t think Aizawa-sensei can breathe?”

Pausing, but still not letting go, Inko had to wonder why Aizawa would have a hard time breathing. Had he been injured during the test? But why would he have been injured? Had Izuku been injured? What if- The sound of a throat clearing above her pulled Inko from her thoughts. It was only then that Inko realized that the person she was hugging was not, in fact, Izuku-sized after all.

“Aizawa-san!” Inko stepped back, almost tripping over herself in her hurry to release him. “I’m so sorry!”

Hizashi’s laugh boomed as he stepped into view behind Izuku, clapping a hand hard against his friend’s back. “Don’t apologize, Inko-san! Old Shouta needs all the hugs he can get, and I can’t be the only one making sure he meets his quota.”

Inko still turned, worried, towards Aizawa whose face was half hidden by the scarves wrapped around his shoulders. “It’s fine, Inko-san. I know you’ve been concerned about Midoriya.”

“Izuku!” Inko brushed aside her embarrassment for the moment, her cheeks still burning, as she pulled her son into a hug too. “Are you okay? Were you hurt? What happened?”

“I’m okay, Mom,” Izuku said, returning her hug, and oh Inko should have realized her earlier mistake the moment Aizawa didn’t respond to her tight embrace with one of his his. “It.. It worked out. I think.”

“Don’t be modest, Izuku!” Hizashi cried. “Your son did amazing! Gave those first years a lot to think about, that’s for sure.”

“So you won?” Inko asked, still hugging him. She would never admit it, not after the blow to his confidence she had given him when he was younger, but she had been so worried about how the test would end. Inko would never make the mistake of putting limits on what Izuku was capable again. She never should have doubted him in the first place. But this was still a test that pitted her son against a class of students three years older than him. That placed his two months of training against their lifetime of experience.

Inko didn’t doubt that Izuku would be capable of everything he had dreamed but in that situation? She couldn’t help but be worried.

“Maybe we should go sit down.” Izuku mumbled, and Inko’s heart plummeted.

“Izuku?” She asked, but Izuku pulled away from her without a word. Inko turned to Aizawa and Hizashi as he headed passed her into the living room. Izuku had seemed happy when they had first arrived. If he had really lost his recommendation Inko doubted her accidently hugging his mentor would have been enough to cheer him up.

“Your son is being too hard on himself.” Aizawa huffed. “He should be proud of his performance. But he didn’t win.”

“It was a close thing, really,” Hizashi added, closing the door behind himself. “I was watching from one of the security cams. Didn’t want to make it seem like he had too many pros in his corner in case there was still backlash. One of the first years knocked him out of bounds right as the buzzer went off.”

“Oh, no. Izuku.” If that principal had said that Aizawa couldn’t train Izuku anymore because of that Inko was going to have words with him. Actually, Inko had a lot she wanted to say to him about this whole affair. Only the thought of putting Izuku’s future at risk kept her from taking the first bus down to that school. “So his spot…”

“Apparently,” Aizawa said, the words slow through his gritted teeth. “His recommendation spot was never at risk.”

“I-” Inko bit her tongue around the words she wanted to say, knowing that Izuku could hear everything they were saying from the other room. “He lied?”

Aizawa’s expression mirrored back the anger Inko could still feel rising at the thought of the anguish Nedzu had put Izuku through for no reason at all other than his need to make a point. “He said he needed Izuku to fight as if his future was on the line. To justify his decision to make a fifth recommendation spot.”


“Oh, Shouta will definitely be giving him an earful about that later,” Hizashi said. “You don’t need to worry about Nedzu getting off easy for that. Shouta’s going to make his life a living hell in staff meetings next year, for sure. Retribution will be as prolonged and as painful as possible.”

“How is he going to do that?” Inko asked.

Hizashi’s answering grin had Inko smiling in return on reflex. “He’s not going to stop me from talking when I shouldn’t.”

Aizawa huffed again, not denying the claim, and gestured to where Izuku sat. “Shall we?”

It only took a few moments once everyone had settled in the living room for Inko to be told the whole story.

“You said you were okay!” Inko cried when Aizawa explained how Izuku had been injured. Her eyes darted to the untorn Yuuei sweatpants he had not been wearing when he left the house that morning as Izuku avoided her gaze.

“Recovery Girl helped me. It doesn’t even hurt anymore.” The lie was clear in his voice, and Inko was about to call him on it when Aizawa interjected.

“He’s been ordered to take it easy for three days. No training or exercise of any kind. It wouldn’t have been as bad if he hadn’t pushed himself through it, but that is not something he will be doing again.”

“Shouldn’t I get used it it though?” Izuku asked, speaking for the first time since they had joined him on the couch, his voice quiet. “If I become a hero, won’t I need to know how to push passed injuries? If it’s life or death-”

“I’m going to stop you right there, kid,” Hizashi said, “because it’s not a matter of if, but when. And when you become a hero, it’s not going to be like this. You’re training is going to help you prevent situations like that, situations where you’re outnumbered and outgunned, from happening, and you’re going to have other heroes at your back. As for life or death situations? I’m not claiming those don’t happen because you need to know what you’re signing up for, but pushing yourself past your limits now isn’t going to do you any good. You need to worry about life or death situations as they happen. For now just focus on making sure you’re prepared as you can be. And that means taking care of your health.” Hizashi’s words emphasized by a sharp poke to Izuku’s stomach that had him hunching over. “I swear. You’re going to be as much trouble as Shouta, if of a different kind. I have enough on my plate with him as it is. Let Uncle Hizashi live.”

“Izuku.” Aizawa said, and he waited for Izuku to look up, startled at the use of his given name. “You did well. Stop beating yourself up about it, because no one else thinks it’s a big deal. All you’re going to do is waste time you should be spending on other things. You don’t like how the test turned out? Then work on making sure you’re ready for the next challenge. You have a year and a half until the demonstration. You can either spend that time dwelling on a loss that means nothing or you can use it to better yourself. It’s up to you.”

Izuku stared at him, eyes wide, but said nothing.

“I don’t waste my time on students I don’t believe in. You know that. So I want you to do what Recovery Girl says. Rest. And in three days I’ll be waiting. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Think you can handle that?”

“Yes, Aizawa-sensei!”

Inko and Hizashi exchanged a look over Izuku’s head. “Yuuei isn’t going to survive the both of them, is it?” Inko asked.

“It’ll do the school some good,” Hizashi answered. “It’s gotten a little stagnant as of late. I think Izuku-kun is just the person to shake things up a bit.”

Izuku’s three days of rest passed at an agonizingly slow pace. Aizawa and Yamada had stayed for dinner the night of the test and had managed to keep most of Inko’s fretting at bay, but the moment they were gone there was nothing to hold her back. Izuku spent the entire day of his Recovery Girl mandated rest with Inko hovering around him, making sure he wasn’t pushing himself too hard. Izuku appreciated it, he really did, but by the end of the day the attention was just a little too smothering. The second day passed almost exactly the same, and by the third day he was ready for something, anything, to do to get him out of that apartment.

When the phone rang the night of his last day of rest Izuku jumped up to answer it.

“Midoriya.” Ah. So the use of his given name wasn’t going to be a permanent thing.


There was a hiss from the other end of the line, the muffled sound of Aizawa snapping, “Marlo!” followed by a crash.

“Aizawa-sensei, is everything okay?” Izuku hadn’t spent much time around Aizawa’s cats, but Yamada had told him enough stories for him to know that whatever was happening in Aizawa’s apartment probably wasn’t anything good.

“Don’t worry about it. I was calling about our plans tomorrow. I’ll meet you at your apartment after school. Be ready to go when I get there. We have an appointment to keep.”

Izuku forgot how to breathe for a moment. “An appointment?”

“Hatsume called. You’re equipment is ready. She wants us to stop by tomorrow so you can make sure everything works for you. Unless you have other plans, of course.” The smirk sounded clear through his voice.

“I’ll be ready to go when you get here!” Izuku answered.

Waiting for his three days had been long, but waiting for school to get out the next day felt like forever. Classes passed with little fanfare, Bakugou seeming quieter than usual as he sat in the back of the room. Izuku wasn’t going to complain about being left alone for the day. Especially not when he had so much to think about.

Izuku had given Hatsume over a dozen ideas for support items. Some of them he knew he wouldn’t be able to use until he was officially at Yuuei or got his provisional license, but the others… how many of them would Hatsume have prepared already? Defending himself without weapons, everything that Aizawa had been teaching him-those were invaluable skills and Izuku would need as much training in those areas as he could get to be on the same level as the other students who would be in his class, but having those support items could boost him to a whole other level.

Intelligence. Physical skills. That would always have to be where his strength laid. But just because he could come up with solutions for countering quirks didn’t necessarily mean that he would have the skills to do it on his own. How many other options would he have had during the test if he had had those items with him? Izuku would never know for sure, but he liked to think that the fight would have gone more in his favor if he had been allowed that opportunity.

When the school day finally ended, Izuku was out of his seat and through the door before anyone else could even stand, making the walk back to his apartment in record time. Aizawa arrived to find his young student waiting outside the building just as he had requested, bouncing in the toes of his feet as the pro hero made his way closer.

“You didn’t run home from school did you, Midoriya?” Aizawa asked when he reached the front of their building.

“I waited the three days like Recovery Girl said,” Izuku responded. “And you said to be ready before you got here.”

Aizawa hummed. “I suppose I did.” He started walking in the direction of Hatsume’s shop without another word, and Izuku scrambled to follow.

“What happened last night, Aizawa-sensei?” Izuku asked as he reached Aizawa’s side once more. “I heard a crash in the background when you called me. Were your cats okay?” So far Izuku hadn’t been left alone with his mentor’s cats, but he knew there would be times when the pro hero would need someone to look out for them while he was busy with an assignment or on a job. Izuku wanted to be that person, but Aizawa rarely opened up about his pets.

Covering his eyes his a hand, Aizawa sighed. “Leo ate Marlo’s food, so Marlo found it amusing to trap Leo in a box. Again. That crash you heard was him knocking the box of papers I had idiotically placed on my counter into the floor so he could sit on it.”

Marlo, Izuku knew. The little orange fluffball had been the one to greet him that first day at Aizawa’s apartment. “Which one is Leo?”

Aizawa glanced at him from the corner of his eyes. “The oversized forest cat. That’s four times the size as Marlo. You can see why this would be a dilemma.”

“Well. Food is very important. I can see why Marlo would be upset.”

“Of course you do.”

They walked in silence for another block.
“Do you-” Izuku started.

Aizawa waited, but Izuku didn’t continue. He watched as his student kicked at the ground, his hands twisting together.

“Go ahead, Midoriya.”

“It’s just...Do you think Hatsume-san’s daughter is going to be there today?” The words, just like the first time Izuku had asked after their first trip to the shop, were spoken with a vulnerability Aizawa still couldn’t believe he was allowed to be privy to. What had he done to earn such a level of trust from the boy?

“Apparently one of the items you’ll be receiving today was designed by Hatsume Mei, although her mother was ultimately the one to construct it. Mei has been very adamant about meeting the young hero who will be using her tech.”

Izuku’s small smile made Aizawa’s chest ache.

When they finally came to a stop in front of the familiar brick building that housed Hatsume’s shop, Izuku hesitated in front of the door. The workshop had been impressive the first time, but Izuku had been totally unprepared to appreciate the magnitude of the situation. Here he was. The student of a pro hero. At a support shop to pick up tech that had been made specially for him. All so that he could be prepared for a demonstration because he was going to Yuuei on recommendations. Nothing about this situation felt real, and Izuku doubted that it ever would.

He had just lifted a hand to ring the bell when the door slammed open, crashing hard as it collided with the wall behind it.

“Hero-kun!” A voiced cried, but the person waiting for them in the now open doorway was not Hastume Natsumi like Izuku had been expecting. Instead they were greeted with the sight of a girl who had to have been about his age, her bright pink hair pulled back by thick metallic looking goggles. Yellow eyes locked in on his as a large smile spread across her face. “I’ve heard so much about you!

And then, before Izuku could do or say anything in response, she launched herself at him, draping an arm around his shoulder as she pulled him into a hug that rivalled his mother’s.

“Call me Mei!” She said, her voice bright. “I’m about to be your new best friend!”

Chapter Text

“Mei! Let little Hero-kun go! He’s not going to be able to test out all of the babies we’ve been working on if he’s unconscious.”

Hatsume stepped into the doorway after her daughter, a pair of goggles like Mei’s hanging around her neck. “What are you teaching him, Aizawa? All that work I’ve been doing is going to be for nothing if he can’t even defend himself from an attack by my daughter.”

Aizawa hummed, adjusting his scarves. “Does your daughter attack all your customers, or just the ones her own age?”

“Fair point.” Hatsume allowed, pushing the door completely open behind her. “Come on, Mei. I’ll let you do the honors if you let him go now.”

Mei held on for a moment longer, arms tightening around Izuku’s shoulders, before skipping back to stand by her mother. “We’ll have a lot to talk about once I’ve introduced you to all your new toys, Izuku!” She paused, her yellow eyes glinting as she tilted her head to the side. “Is it alright if I can you Izuku? I feel like we can just skip all of those boring steps and jump right to the good parts of our friendship! Is that okay? You can tell me if it’s not!”

Izuku had never heard someone who rambled as much as he did, and for a moment he understood what it must have been like for everyone around him, the stream of words with no filter hurled at him so quickly he felt almost overwhelmed by the force of Mei’s personality. She watched him closely as she talked, grabbing his hand as she walked backwards into the shop.
Mei was nervous, Izuku realized suddenly. Just as nervous as he had been when Hatsume had first mentioned wanting to introduce them. Could it be that she was just as in need of a friend as he was?

“Same with the babies! My mother gave me the list of items you gave her, but I made a few tweaks here and there. If something doesn’t work for you now or when you try them out later, you can always bring them back. I’m sure you’ll need to make adjustments once we start at Yuuei, but that’s still ages away isn’t it?”

Aizawa followed Izuku inside, and Hatsume closed the door behind them.

Maybe Izuku and Mei had that in common- the struggle of being interested in a subject no one else cared about. The challenge that came with trying to slow down when his thoughts ran ten times faster than he could speak or when he knew he should stop talking but the words kept tumbling out anyway. Izuku had been on the receiving end of glares and bullying for years for oversharing about his interests in heroes and the mechanics of quirks. Maybe Mei had been through the same thing, maybe she hadn’t. But Izuku couldn’t help but do the one thing he wished someone else had done for him.

He smiled. “Izuku is fine. Aizawa-sensei said you designed one of the support items?”

The inside of the shop looked almost exactly the same as it did the first time Izuku and Aizawa had visited. Projects still scattered the room in various states of completeness. None of them seemed like the same ones as before, although Izuku could only guess what the hunks of metal and wires would end up being when they were finished. Unlike the last time though, Hatsume did not lead them through the maze of a room towards her office.

“I have all of your stuff set up in our testing room. Thought you might want to try it out once before you leave, just to make sure it’s what you were looking for,” Hatsume said, gesturing towards a door at the end of the hallway directly across from the front door. “Like Mei said, we can make whatever adjustments you need. Within reason, of course. Nothing that would defy the rules of physics or anything like that. Obviously.”

“Obviously.” Aizawa agreed.

“But Aizawa-sensei!” Izuku said, adding a whine to his voice as Mei pulled him towards the door. “How can I be a hero if I can’t even break the laws of physics?”

Aizawa rolled his eyes as Mei laughed. “If you have to resort to something like that to fight, then I’ll have failed in my duty as your teacher, Midoriya.”

“Besides,” Mei added, opening the door to reveal a set of stairs that led down into what must have been the basement, “that’s what support items are for. We can’t break the laws of physics, but we can definitely bend them enough to put that big brain I’m told you have to good use!”

Reluctantly, Mei let go of Izuku’s hand as they started down, the narrow staircase making it impossible for her to maintain her grip and walk at the same time. Instead she bounced, hands on Izuku’s shoulders, after him as the four of them entered the workshop.

The room must have spanned the entire length of the shop, stretching out at least fifty feet. A long wooden table covered in completed support items ran the length of one of the brick walls while the other was covered in targets and posters of old villains, their faces barely recognizable because of the scorch marks that littered the faded paper. Another table stood just inside the door, covered by a black sheet. Izuku felt his pulse jump.

“That’s exactly what you think it is, Hero-kun!” Hatsume said, slinging an arm over Aizawa’s shoulder which the pro hero slipped out of with barely a movement. Hatsume pouted at him before turning her attention back to Izuku. “Once you left the other day, I had to bring Mei into this. She’s applying to go to Yuuei too, and you need the best of the best if you’re going to be ready for all of the challenges that old bastard they call a principal is bound to throw at you.”

Hatsume paused, glancing at Aizawa. Aizawa stared back as Hatsume’s eyes widened. “What? No protest from the pro? I just insulted that manipulative jerk you all like to defend so much, and not a single comment about respect? Nedzu must have seriously messed up this time if you aren’t stepping up to bat for him. What’d he do, Aizawa? Insult your cats?”

Aizawa didn’t answer, instead glancing at Izuku for a moment before meeting Hatsume’s curious expression.

“Ah. So he did insult one of your cats. The man should know better than that by now,” Hatsume said, reaching out to grab the edge of the sheet. “I’m sure he’s going to regret that decision isn’t her, eh Aizawa?”

When the pro hero didn’t answer Hatsume’s grin grew. “Well then. Let’s move on to the real reason the two of you have stopped by today, although you can guarantee I’ll be asking you more about that situation later. ”

Mei danced around Izuku to stand on the other side of the table, her eyes gleaming. “You’re going to love them, Izuku. And can you imagine? The first quirkless hero using my products! That’s bound to get me some attention before I even set foot in Yuuei!

“Are you ready to see your new toys, Hero-kun?”

Izuku edged closer as Hatsume whipped the cloth off with a flourish, his eyes widening as he saw the objects covering the table, too many for him to even know where to begin until his eyes were drawn to something yellow laying back against the brick wall. “Is that-”

“I took your suggestion about having something to hold all your gear seriously,” Hatsume interrupted, picking up the belt and handing it to him. Izuku took it from her gently, his hands trembling. “The material is lightweight, but it should hold up to almost anything you can throw at it. I got in contact with one of my old Yuuei friends who works on pro heroes’ uniforms, and she said that if you somehow manage to damage that she would treat me to lunch. This was after I warned her about your previous misadventure, so you should be fine there. Once we go through all your other new gadgets you can decide where you want them. Each pocket is also equipped with a fingerprint lock. Doesn’t slow down the time it would take to open it, but this way if you lose it or it’s taken no one else will have access to your gear unless you clear their print too.”

“Impressive, huh?” Mei added, leaning over his shoulder to watch as he turned the belt over in his hands. “As for the color, I picked that out. Thought it would be appropriate, all things considered.”

The belt was, of course, the exact same shade of yellow as Aizawa’s goggles. Izuku looked up at his mentor in awe, gauging the hero’s reaction to the subtle reference to his uniform.

“It’s a good color, Midoriya,” was all the hero said, but the warmth in his voice was unmistakable. Izuku beamed.

“We can put that aside until the end, if you’ll just hand it back, Hero-kun. I’m sure you’ll want to check out the rest of what Mei and I have prepared for you, right?” Hatsume asked. She took the belt back from him, replacing it carefully against the wall before reaching for the next item on the table. “You had talked about wanted something that could create a low level explosion. Something to act as a distraction? Well, this is about to be your new favorite thing.”

Hatsume held up a small container filled with six red balls about the size of coin. “These explode on contact as long as you use enough force. I worked it out so that dropping them isn’t enough to set it off as a safety measure. And the explosion isn’t much. Like I said when we talked the first time, there are a lot of restrictions on items like this if you aren’t in a certified hero course or don’t have a provisional license, but these should get the job done for what you need now. We can always up the strength later if you want.”

She handed that container to Izuku before reaching for two others that looked identical to the first except for the fact that one was a dark purple while the other was a bright, sickly green. “Once I got started on those, it was easy to set these up as well. They’re color coded so that you can keep them separated, and they all work the same way except these are on a short time delay. Just throw them and wait a few seconds for the effects. The purple ones are delayed explosions while the green ones cause a smoke screen.”

“They don’t smell very good either,” Mei added, still looking over his shoulder. “Super helpful against anyone whose quirk increases their senses.”

“Want to test one out?” Hatsume asked, the pointed look in her eyes reflected in her daughter’s face. “Make sure the effects are what you wanted?”

“You just want to watch something blow up don’t you, Hatsume?” Aizawa’s voice was flat, his expression telling Izuku he was already resigned to the situation.

“Well duh!” Hatsume answered cheerfully. “I didn’t get an extra degree in chemistry in order to make explosives just to not watch my products at work, Aizawa-san. We won’t test one of the green ones since I’d rather not have to deal with that clean up today, but go ahead and try the red ones. I have some other packs for you to take with you anyway.”

Nodding, Izuku popped the package open, letting one of the balls roll into his open hand. “It feels like.. Clay?”

“The putty I used is actually pretty similar to the kind kids play with, with just a little extra punch.” Hatsume put her hands on Izuku’s shoulders, maneuvering him until he stood in the middle of the room facing one of the peeling targets before he could say a word. “Don’t worry about hitting the poster. I may have given you the maximum amount of fire power given the circumstances, but that still isn’t a lot comparatively. This is where I test most of my projects. The walls can take it.”

Izuku looked back at Aizawa who still stood by the stairs, Mei grinning smugly beside him. “You don’t need my permission, Midoriya. Go ahead.”

Hesitating for just a moment longer, Izuku shrugged before launching the mini explosive towards the target. Hatsume had said there were restrictions on the support items he could have. Hatsume had claimed that she couldn’t give him anything too dangerous yet.

Hatsume had left him utterly unprepared for the explosion that sounded as the ball collided with the wall, hitting just outside the edge of the target’s circle.

“Yes!” Mei yelled, startling Izuku as he watched the poster sink slowly to the floor, knocked from the wall by the force. “That was awesome, Izuku!”

“What was that?” Izuku’s voice shook as he spoke. The explosion hadn’t been too powerful, if he were being honest. It was nothing like what Bakugou could produce on his own. But it was so much more than anything Izuku had been expecting.

“That was an explosion, Hero-kun! I thought you would be fairly familiar with them by now, what with that classmate of yours.”

“That’s not-I meant-”

“Oh!” Hatsume said, lifting a finger as she suddenly understood. “You were thinking of something that was a little more noise, a little less fire weren’t you?”

Izuku could only nod in response.

“I mean, I can do that if you want, but-”

“No!” Izuku rushed to interrupt. “These are perfect! I just wasn’t expecting it. These would definitely come in handy. Better than what I had been thinking, I just didn’t know I was going to be allowed something like this?”

“It sounds stronger than it really is. You won’t be able to do too much damage with them, but whoever you’re fighting won’t know that until it’s too late. Aizawa? These good with you?”

“I see no problem in Midoriya using those, although we will have to work on your aim,” Aizawa answered. “You were close to the target, but you can’t always count on close being good enough.”

“And there you have it!” Hatsume grinned. “Ready for the next thing?”

“Let’s show him mine next!” Mei said, excitedly.

“I told Mei about your grappling gun idea since you mentioned getting the inspiration from one of those old comics,” Hatsume started as they headed back to the table.

“Which we definitely need to talk about later!” Mei interjected.

“And she was actually working on something similar, although I think her idea was a little too bulky for what you’re needing.”
Mei pouted. “It’ll work perfectly in certain rescue situations, but it won’t give you the freedom of movement you’ll need since you won’t have a quirk to back you up.”

“So we went with this instead. I based it off of Mei’s compression system with a few changes of my own.”

The item Hatsume picked up next was shaped roughly like a hair dryer with thin sheet of plastic covering the end. “It’s in safety mode right now, which is why the window is closed. Press this button,” she explained, showing Izuku a small red dot on the side, “to switch it on. When the button switches to green you know you’re good to go.” As soon as Hatsume hit the switch the color flipped, and the window popped open as the plastic retracted. “After that you just aim and pull the trigger to shoot and flip the lever underneath to pull the hook back.”

She turned it off before handing it to Izuku. “I know we talked about something that could help you move from place to place, but I’m still trying to work out something that meets the safety protocols while not limiting your freedom of movement. It may take some time, but for now you can work with this. It’s perfect for hitting targets, moving objects, that sort of thing. I’m sure that big brain of yours can figure out a dozen different uses I haven’t even considered.”

“High praise, Hatsume-san,” Aizawa said, taking the grappling gun from Izuku and examining it himself.

“Only the best for your student,” Hatsume responded with a wink. “And I don’t need to remind you that this is one of those borderline items. He’s not allowed to use it if you aren’t with him.”

Aizawa looked up from the gun to stare at her, his gaze flat.

“No, I didn’t think so,” she said quickly. “Just making sure.”

“You can test that one later and let us know how you feel about it,” Mei said. “We took it to an training facility to make sure there weren’t any problems, but there’s not really anything in the shop at the moment that would work to test it on.”

“I’m sure you have a better set up at your mysterious training place than we do, right Aizawa-san?”

“I’ll let you know how it goes.”

“Much appreciated.”

“Almost everything else on your list is restricted until we start at Yuuei,” Mei said, “but I like the way you think. Escrima rods with a charge? Grappling guns? I’m going to have so much inspiration thanks to you!” She threw an arm over his shoulder, just like her mother had done to Aizawa earlier. Izuku didn’t brush her off.

“Speaking of, we have one last thing for you today,” Hatsume said, picking up a pair of familiar looking rods. “I know you already have your own, but these have been adjusted to the weight they would be once I add the tech for the charge so you can go ahead and get used to how they feel.” She held up a pair of black gloves as well. “And these will make sure you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself once you get it.”

“I-” Izuku didn’t know what to say. “This is all amazing. Thank you so much Hatsume-san...Mei-san.”

“None of that!” Mei said, poking him hard in the side. Izuku flinched from her touch, but didn’t move away from the the arm still thrown over his shoulder. “Mei. Just Mei. We’re going to be great friends, right? So cut the honorifics out.”

“And there’s no need to thank us. Helping heroes out with their tech is what we do. Just make sure you send other heroes our way when you wow them with what you can do,” Hatsume said. “It will be a pleasure working with you, Hero-kun.”

They only stayed a few moments after that, Mei making sure to plan another meeting with Izuku outside of the confines of her mother’s shop so they could talk about “something other than business” as Mei had said.

Izuku couldn’t stop smiling the whole way back towards the apartment.

“I’m going to take this stuff with me, Midoriya,” Aizawa said when the complex finally came back into view. “I want you to meet me at the warehouse tomorrow after school, and we’ll go over your new schedule and regimen then. I told you before, but I want you to forget about the test. Focus on the demonstration and getting ready for school. If you think I’ve been hard on you up until now, it’s nothing compared to the work you’ve got ahead of you. Think you’re ready for that?”

“Of course, Aizawa-sensei!”

“Now we have some time before Hizashi gets here. I want you to tell me everything you can about the items you got from Hatsume and what they can be used for. We’re going to make sure you understand what you’re dealing with before I let you near those explosives again. Understood?”

Izuku grinned, mirroring Aizawa’s grin.

“Then let’s get started.”

Chapter Text

Ten Months Later

“You’re wrong, Izuku. You’re just wrong! And there’s no other way to say it. Those analytical skills of yours have failed you if that’s what you think happened.”

“But Mei-” Izuku laughed.

“No!” Mei interrupted, pointing her spoon at him, ice cream dripping onto the table between them. “Don’t argue with me, Midoriya Izuku. I may not be the only genius at this table, but I am still smarter than you.”

“Whoa now. That might be taking it a little too-”

“No!” Other people in the cafe had begun to turn towards their table at Mei’s second, much louder exclamation, but neither of them paid the extra attention any mind. After nearly ten months of hosting Mei and Izuku’s weekly Comic Debates the regulars and the staff had long grown used to the their antics. If the two of them hadn’t been asked to leave before, they weren’t going to be worried about it now.

Izuku leaned across the table, journal open between them as he pointed to his notes. His own ice cream sat melting beside him, forgotten in his rush to explain before he was interrupted again. “Just listen, Mei. I know we’re supposed to think he died- and he really might have- but what if-”

“If you’re going to argue that he didn’t die, fine. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt there But you can’t bring people back from the dead, Izuku! We haven’t seen anyone with a power like that.” Satisfied with her argument, Mei dug into her ice cream again, making a show of taking another bite.

“Exactly! We haven’t seen anything like that, but we haven’t seen anything that says it’s impossible either. They aren’t quirks. Who knows what kind of limits there were.” Izuku reached out, pulling Mei’s cup away from her, forcing her to look at him again. “And what about the pit? That one that was mentioned a couple of times in that other series? That could definitely-”

“Midoriya. Izuku. Give me back my ice cream or I swear I’ll sneak in my mom’s shop and swap out the Wonder Balls for something a lot less helpful to your cause.” Mei’s golden eyes flashed in the low light, but Izuku could tell she was trying to hold back a smile.

“One- We are not calling them the Wonder Balls. We’ve talking about this fifty times. Two- You would never do something to ruin the reputation of your products so that’s a horrible threat, Mei, come on. And three- if you would listen to me, I wouldn’t have to steal your ice cream!”

“Well, maybe I would listen to you if your theories weren’t ridiculous!” Mei responded, snatching up Izuku’s notebook and holding it high above her head. “Looks like we both have a hostage now. What are you going to do about it, Hero-kun?”

Izuku frowned. “You know I can’t take you seriously when you use that nickname, right?”

“You know my mom is never going to call you anything else, right?” Mei countered, shaking the notebook a little as she spoke.

“Then I suppose I must do whatever I have to do to ensure the safety of that hostage! Have no fear, dear citizen, for I am hear!” The proclamation was followed by a small bow as Izuku grinned up Mei.

“Oh ho! What’s this? Channeling All Might today?” Mei asked, lowering the book from over her head. “Do I need to tell Aizawa-san that you have a new favorite hero?”

“Aizawa-sensei knows who my favorite is. There’s no way he would miss all the Present Mic merch I have in my room now. Who can resist a pro willing to give you their own merch? No competition whatsoever.”

“I suppose that would shift things in his favor a bit,” Mei allowed. “And it seems we’ve come to an impasse. Truce?”

Izuku placed Mei’s ice cream back down. “I guess we can call a truce. For the good of the cafe, of course.”

“Of course.” Mei handed Izuku’s notebook over as he slid her cup across the table again. Grinning, she took another bite as she asked. “So how’s it going with Aizawa-san’s little monsters? They giving you as much trouble as you thought?”

“Don’t get me started,” Izuku groaned, leaning his head against the table, looking up a Mei with a pout. “He finally lets me watch them, and I regret almost every decision that led to this moment.”

“Except the training, right?”

Izuku rolled his eyes. “That goes without saying. But yeah, they’re great, and I’m glad he trusts me with them. It just seems like they’re testing me? Or maybe just Marlo? It seems like Marlo is testing me. How much nonsense can I put up with before I lose it. That kind of thing. I swear that cat is smarter than any other animal I’ve ever met. I have no idea how Aizawa-sensei manages all of them.”

“Are you sure they aren’t the ones managing him?” Mei asked.

“That-” Izuku paused. “That might actually be a good point. In Marlo and Maru’s case at least. I swear if I didn’t watch Leo he would have set Aizawa-sensei’s apartment on fire by now. I’ve got to head straight there once we leave. Who knows what kind of chaos they’ve created while I’ve been gone.”

“I’m done if you’re ready,” Mei said, her chair scraping against the floor as she stood. “I guess we’ll have to put this discussion on hold until next week. Maybe you’ll have come to your senses by then.”

“I’ll send you the panels I’m talking about, and maybe you’ll see that I know what I’m talking about,” Izuku answered, flipping his notebook closed as he gathered his own trash. Their weekly meetings weren’t the only times he and Mei met up, but it was always at the end of these debates that Izuku thought about how much his life had changed since he met Aizawa Shouta. A year ago he never would have been able to picture himself regularly meeting up with a friend, let alone a friend who loved old comics. Having someone who actually enjoyed listening to him talk besides his mother? Impossible.

Yet here he was.

Hatsume Mei had been an unexpected surprise, and Izuku would never stop being grateful for her. He liked to think that she valued his friendship just as much as he valued hers.

“Are we still good to go to the mall this weekend?” Mei asked once they had stepped outside again. Izuku hadn’t realized how long they had been arguing, but the sun had started to slip below the horizon.

“Yeah, Aizawa-sensei and Hizashi-san are still out of town until the start of next week. He left me some assignments, but I’ll have plenty of time to get that all done before the weekend.”

“Good,” Mei said, elbowing him gently in the side. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to carry all the stuff I need without someone else there.”
“Oh, I see. You just want me there to be your pack mule, huh? Is that how it is?.” Izuku smiled, and he couldn’t help the feeling that came with being able to joke about that when he knew it wasn’t actually true.

“That’s how it is,” Mei agreed, nodding. “But considering I’m using these materials for a test run of a new product for you I thought you might want to come along, help out, but if you don’t want some new toys…”

“I never said I wouldn’t help, Mei,” Izuku said quickly. “You know I don’t mind carrying your stuff. You’ll lose it before you get home otherwise.”

“You know me so well, Izuku.” Mei threw her arms around him, pulling him into a tight hug that he quickly returned. “I’ll see you then! Don’t let those cats push you around!”

“I’ll try, but no promises!”

Izuku might have been exaggerating a bit when he told Mei about Aizawa’s cats, but the basics of what he said had been true. Marlo was testing him, and Izuku didn’t know what to do about it. The fact that Aizawa let him stay in his apartment while he and Hizashi were out of town showed just how much the pro hero’s trust in Izuku-and Inko’s trust in Aizawa- had grown. Izuku didn’t want to let him down.

Marlo seemed to have other plans entirely.

It should have been no surprise that the apartment Aizawa had led him to before leaving for his trip was not the same apartment Izuku had tracked down all those months ago, but somehow Izuku had been thrown when his mentor’s roundabout method of travel ended at an unfamiliar concrete building. If Aizawa hadn’t told him before that they were going to his apartment, Izuku would have thought it was a new training facility.

“There are a few other pros in this building, but no one who likes being in the public eye,” Aizawa had explained, pressing a finger against the keypad. A light flashed green and Izuku heard the click of the lock unlatching. “I’ll need to add your print before we leave, but the rest of the paperwork has been filled out. No one should give you any problems while I’m gone. Anyone living in these apartments knows and values the importance of privacy. Don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.”

That along with a list of guidelines for taking care of his cats were all Aizawa had said about the situation, but Izuku didn’t need words to recognize the monumental shift that had occured for Aizawa to allow him into his personal space like this. The sound Hizashi had made when he heard Izuku would be staying in his apartment for the week only solidified it.

Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door as Izuku turned the key to unlock Aizawa’s apartment. He had only a second to brace himself once he opened the door before Marlo was on him, launching himself off the kitchen counter at Izuku’s face.

He had never been that grateful for the effects Aizawa’s training had had on his reflexes because Izuku just managed to drop his bag and lift his arms in time to catch the cat, narrowly avoiding a face full of cat claws. “Marlo!” Adjusting the ball of fluff in his arms, Izuku shook his head as he felt the hum of the cat’s purring against his chest. “Don’t even start with that, Marlo. You aren’t cute. Uncalled for.”

Marlo ducked his head under Izuku’s arm, stretching as he continued to purr. Izuku opened his mouth to speak again, but cut himself off when Leo raced around the corner, barely slowing as he wound his way between Izuku’s legs.

“See that, Marlo? That’s a greeting. You don’t attack the person coming to see you. Unless it’s a villain. Do you think I’m a villain?” Marlo licked his hand before turning to look up at Izuku innocently. “It’s been three days. Can’t we skip this by now?”

Dropping Marlo gently onto the couch, Izuku went through his nightly routine while pet sitting for Aizawa absentmindedly. The new school year had finally started, and with it came a whole new batch of students for him to profile. Forty new quirks to pick apart and put back together again. The stack of folders sat on the edge of Aizawa’s coffee table, waiting for him to start combing through. Izuku couldn’t wait.

A year. That was how long Izuku had left before he could start at Yuuei. It had seemed like so much time when he had first started training, but now it seemed like no time at all. Aizawa had in no way been taking his training easy, but Izuku knew that the moment his mentor and Hizashi returned that his training would be pushed to an even higher level than before. He only had six months left until the demonstration, and Izuku would make sure he made every moment of it count.

Collapsing on the sofa next to Marlo, Izuku pulled the folders into his lap as Mochi jumped up beside him.

“Alright, guys,” he said, flipping the first one open. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”

The bar didn’t seem like much from the outside but that might have, upon further inspection, been the point. The windows were dark, the door closed and uninviting, light peeking out between the curtains the only sign that there was anyone inside. Kurogiri stood behind the counter, glass in hand as his quirk swirled inactive around him. The bar sat empty aside from him, but that was how Kurogiri prefered it. Owning the bar had never really been about making money off it, and no customers meant no people for him to pretend to pay attention to.

He had just decided to close up for the night when a sharp knock sounded at the door. Kurogiri froze, glass inches from the wooden counter. Maybe if he ignored them they would go away. The door was unlocked. There was nothing stopping whoever knocked from coming in, but maybe they would think the bar had closed.


The silence of the bar shattered as the door disintegrated. Kurogiri could barely wrap his mind around this turn of events when a figure stepped into the light of the doorway. A hoodie covered his face in shadows, the flash of a grin and greying, scarred skin the only thing visible in the low light.

“Hmm.” The stranger hummed. “Not very...hospitable. And here all I wanted was to invite you to play.”

Kurogiri set the glass down, inching slowly around to the edge of the counter. “We’re closed,” he said, and stepped into the empty space at the opposite end of the room. The more room he had available if this turned into a fight, the better. “Breaking down my door wasn’t the best way to offer an invitation.”

“The door was closed,” the stranger said simply, as if that explained everything. “Relax. Relax. I’m not here to fight. Today.”


“Sensei says you’re good,” the stranger continued. “Says you’re just the person I need to make this game interesting.”

“And what is this game, exactly?” Kurogiri didn’t make a habit of conversing with deranged strangers, but there was something about this man that told him that trying to get him to leave wasn’t an option.

“To change the world order, according to Sensei. But me? I want to destroy All Might.”

Destroying the Symbol of Peace? Kurogiri wanted nothing to do with that. Targeting All Might would a one way ticket to having every hero in the country after him. He didn’t need that kind of trouble in his life.

Changing the world order though? You didn’t get to where Kurogiri was in life without being dissatisfied with the world in some way. Still. There was no reason for him to get involved in this. Whatever this was. No reason for him to know more than he already did. But in the same way he knew the stranger wasn’t going to leave him alone, Kurogiri knew that telling him no wasn’t an option either.

Whoever Sensei was, however he knew about Kurogiri and his talents, the choice seemed to have already been made for him. At least for the moment. The words were out of his mouth before he could think about the consequences. “Tell me more.”

The stranger’s crooked grin spread as he tilted his head back, letting the hood slip to reveal his face. Kurogiri barely held back his flinch at the look in his eyes.

“I’m Shigaraki Tomura,” the stranger said, stepping forward. “Game Start.”

Chapter Text

“Shouta. This is supposed to be a vacation. Relax already!” Hizashi lounged sideways across his bed in their shared hotel room, watching his friend type away on his laptop from upside down.

Aizawa rolled his eyes, not looking up from his screen. “We’re here to attend the teaching conference, Hizashi.”

“The conference which ended yesterday! Nedzu gave us the rest of the week off. it would be a complete waste to not take advantage of it! Right? Come on, man, when was the last time we had a break? Six years ago? Seven?” Aizawa looked up at that, opening is mouth to speak, but Hizashi continued on still upside down. “I know you’re worried about Izuku. And rightfully so. The kid is like you in so many ways, including managing to get himself involved in trouble that he probably shouldn’t. But you can’t watch him 24/7. You’d end up killing each other, and I’d be left to deal with the mess. And that’s just rude.”


Hizashi rolled over, looking at Aizawa with his chin resting on the palm of his hand. “Don’t Hizashi me. You have seen that kid almost every day for the last year. Let your son have a break from dear old dad for the rest of weekend. Inko would let us know if anything was going on. What do you think he’s going to do? Burn the warehouse down or something?”

Aizawa closed his laptop with a snap, groaning. “Why would you even suggest that? You do know he’s going to do something so much worse now. You’ve jinxed it. And don’t call me his dad.”

“Believe in superstitions now, do you?”

“I believe in Midoriya’s ability to defy all expectations and his habit for putting himself at risk. He’ll do something extreme now just to prove you wrong.”

Hizashi didn’t look convinced, but Aizawa knew better. He thought he had seen just how little Midoriya seemed to consider his own safety during the exam against his old first years, but the past year had proved him wrong.

There were a lot of things about Midoriya Izuku that Aizawa had learned in the year they had been working together, but his ability to meet every challenge presented to him head on stood out the most. Even if those challenges weren’t intentional. Aizawa had been forced to learn very quickly to be careful in his wording when giving Midoriya criticism. One misplaced comment and he would find Midoriya exhausted and overworked the next day in his effort to fix the problems presented to him.

The first time it had happened Aizawa had sent him back home without a word, thinking that it had been his fault. That maybe he had simply been piling too much work on the middle schooler’s shoulders. He had spent the next week watching Midoriya closely, looking for any signs of exhaustion in his young student. At the first sign of those dark shadows lining his eyes, their schedule would need to be reevaluated again. Days went by though, and Midoriya seemed fine again. Aizawa made a mental note of the situation, but otherwise pushed it from his mind.

Until a few weeks later when it happened again.

They had been going over another series of drills and Midoriya… Midoriya was not getting it. At all. With each passing clatter of his rods to the ground, the tension in Midoriya’s frame mounted. Aizawa blamed himself for what happened next. There had to have been something his student didn’t pick up quickly. Being quick witted with the ability to adapt to situations could only get one so far after all, and Midoriya had no other training to fall back on. There had to be a point when the training got tougher that he would hit a wall. Aizawa should have anticipated it, prepared for it. Like an idiot though he hadn’t, and his breakdown of Midoriya’s faults had been as flat and stark as usual.

Aizawa had gone over Midoriya’s reaction over and over again since then, wondering if there had been something in Midoriya’s expression that would have tipped him off to the growing problem if only he hadn’t been so obtuse he missed it. The next day Midoriya had come to the warehouse, hands blistered and bandaged, eyes bloodshot, and Aizawa had no idea how to handle it. Students looked at their teachers as if they held all the answers. Aizawa wished that were true. He had plenty of experience with students who didn’t put in the effort required, but students who put in too much?

For a moment after Midoriya had arrived they simply stared at each other, Midoriya tucking his hands as close to his sides as possible as if that would keep Aizawa from noticing how badly he had injured himself once again.

“I thought we had talked about respecting your own limits, Midoriya,” Aizawa said. When Midoriya didn’t answer, Aizawa sighed. “Come here. Sit.”

Refusing to meet Aizawa’s eyes, Midoriya did as he was told. When he was within Aizawa’s reach the hero pulled him down until they were both sitting, legs crossed, on the warehouse floor. He flinched when Aizawa reached for his hands, but didn’t pull them back as the hero slowly started to unwind the bandages. Three layers in and Aizawa could already see the hint of blood. He kept going. When the last layer was removed he couldn’t hold back his hiss of shock, eyes flying to Midoriya’s face.
It was obvious that Midoriya had tried to treat his injuries himself without Inko’s help. If his other hand was in the same condition, Aizawa was surprised that he had gotten his hands wrapped at all.

“What did you do to yourself, Izuku?” Aizawa asked, his voice a whisper. Blisters covered Midoriya’s palm, open and raw, his skin swollen and irritated. Injuries like that were common when learning to use tools like escrima rods, but not the the extent that Midoriya’s hands displayed. How long had be gone over the drills for his hands to look like this? Had he gotten any sleep at all the previous night? The look in Midoriya’s eyes made him think not.

“I just wanted to get it right,” Midoriya answered as Aizawa turned his hand over as gently as he could. Cuts covered his knuckles, dried blood spotting his skin.

“You’re smart, Izuku. So I need you to remind me what we talked about after Principal Nedzu’s test.”

Midoriya seemed to shrink in on himself, but Aizawa was having none of that. “Izuku.”

“You told me that nothing worth putting myself at risk like that. That I needed to take care of myself.”

Aizawa lifted Midoriya’s hand. “Does this look like taking care of yourself?”

Midoriya shook his head, eyes still cast down at his lap.

What could he say to this? What was he supposed to say to this? Aizawa’s brain felt frozen, his chest just as cold. “You’re stubborn, Izuku,” he said slowly. “I should have known that this lesson would take more than one talk. Your determination seems to have overcome your good sense in this case, but I want this to be the last time we have this discussion. I will not watch you injure yourself repeatedly in the name of progress. There is a difference between pushing yourself in order to improve and what you have done, and we are not leaving here until I know that you understand what that difference is.”

Feelings, and anything to do with expressing them, were not Aizawa’s area of expertise, but he forced his way past his discomfort.

“Tell me, Izuku. What made you do this? What have I done that made you think this was necessary?”

“I didn’t…” Izuku’s voice trailed off. “I didn’t mean for it to get this bad. I only wanted to practice the drill a little bit more on my own. I thought if I just tried it one more time I could get it right, could show you that I could do it, but…”

Aizawa sighed. “I want you to listen very carefully to what I’m about to say, because this is very important. Are you listening?”

Midoriya shook his head, but still didn’t look up.


Slowly, Midoriya lifted his head. When his eyes met Aizawa’s he was shocked to see tears in Midoriya’s eyes.

“You do not need to prove yourself to me. I’m not going anywhere. Okay?”

Aizawa waited until Midoriya nodded again before continuing. “What we’re doing here? Your training? This is all about learning. Just like I do not expect you to treat every test like a life or death situation I do not expect you to get every exercise right the first time. I’ve been throwing a lot at you, but all of these disciplines take years to master. Like I said before, all I ask from you is that you try your best and pay attention to what I’m trying to teach you. You’re going to struggle with things. You’re going to fail. What you need to do is learn that failure is not the end. It is not a strike against your character. It is an opportunity. This,” Aizawa gestured to Midoriya’s injured hands. “This is letting failure get the best of you.”

Midoriya started to close his hand, but Aizawa caught his fingers before he could do more harm to himself.

“Failure is a teacher you need to take advantage of, Izuku. Learn from it, but do not let it drive you to this point again. I will not watch you do this to yourself. If this happens again we will be taking a long break from your training until I know I can trust you to act responsibly, demonstration and Yuuei be damned. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Aizawa-sensei,” Midoriya said softly.

“Now let’s go,” Aizawa said, standing slowly.

Midoriya followed after a pause. “Go where?”

“First I’m going to fix those bandages of yours. Then we’re going to see Recovery Girl. I’m sure she will want the chance to tell you how idiotic this was as well. She might even heal your hands if you ask nicely.”

Grimacing, Midoriya nodded again.

“After that, we’re meeting Hizashi for dinner, and he’s going to tell us all about his new radio show.”

Recovery Girl was bound to lecture him for an hour after this injury, but at least he would have dinner to look forward to. No matter how long he spent around them, Izuku would never get tired of watching the two pros bicker like they must have been doing since high school.

“And Midoriya?”


“You do know we have to talk to your mother about this right?”

“Yes, Aizawa-sensei.”

“Shouta, come on!” Somehow Aizawa had missed Hizashi standing up, but he was knocked out of his thoughts by his friend jumping onto his bed. “There’s a historical tour this afternoon, and an open mic night at a bar not far from there. When are we ever going to get a chance to just relax like this again? Another seven years? Izuku has managed to go this whole week without getting himself in trouble. And it’s the weekend! He’s probably out with Hatsume’s daughter doing normal teenager stuff and getting into normal teenager trouble.”

Aizawa shoved Hizashi out of his way with his foot. “That’s what I’m worried about.”

“You worry too much. He’ll be fine, and like I said, Inko will let us know if there’s any trouble. I know you didn’t leave Izuku a lot of work. He’s bound to be enjoying his week off. This way you have something to tell him about other than that boring old conference.”

“This conference was important, Hizashi,” Aizawa tried to argue, but he closed his laptop with a snap. “What time does the tour start?”

Hizashi grinned, jumping up and shooting Aizawa double thumbs up. “That’s more like it! Now go get ready! There’s this market I want to stop at on the way-they have these candies that I know Izuku is going to love, and there’s this store that has those dishes that Inko collects and-“
Aizawa fought against a smile. Hizashi never changed. And he was probably right. It was only two more days. Surely Izuku would be fine.


Izuku turned, pulling his earbuds out as he did. “Mei! I thought you were never going to show up! We said we were going to meet up half an hour ago!”

Mei laughed as she stopped beside him, fidgeting with the goggles she always wore sitting on head. “I was working on a project for Mom and lost track of time. Sorry, Izuku.”

“Do I get to at least see this mysterious project you’ve been working on since it kept me waiting?” Izuku asked, elbowing her gently as they started to walk towards the station.

“Maybe when it’s done. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it before it’s ready for its first test run,” Mei answered. “But it should be interesting. Did you realize I’m right yet?”

“I think you mean did you realize that I’m right yet.”

Mei sniffed, lifting her chin. “I see we remain at an impasse.”

“So it would seem,” Izuku answered, adopting her serious tone. The effect was ruined by his grin though.

On the rare occasions Izuku was able to accept the fact that he actually had a real friend for the first time in his life, he was always still amazed at how different his relationship with Mei was from his relationship with Bakugou. He had realized the truth about Bakugou and what he thought of Izuku a long time ago, but he had never had anything real to compare it to. Now he did, and the difference was striking. Izuku only wished that he and Mei already went to the same school. School had been different since the exam, but the fact that Izuku was alone hadn’t changed at all.

Bakugou though...For reasons that Izuku couldn’t fathom, he had stopped interacting with him entirely. He didn’t speak to him, didn’t mess with his stuff anymore, and he must have spread this new order around because none of Bakugou’s normal followers so much as looked at him. It was almost as if they have collectively decided that Izuku didn’t exist anymore. He would have preferred this if it hadn’t been for the fact that he could still feel Bakugou watching him when he thought Izuku wasn’t looking. Whatever was going on though Izuku wasn’t curious enough, for once, to disrupt the peace by asking why.

For weeks after the exam Izuku had been on edge, waiting for Bakugou to strike. It wasn’t like him to keep his thoughts to himself, and Izuku was sure that whatever peace he had gained wasn’t going to last. Weeks turned into months though, and although Bakugou was his usual explosive self around everyone else his attitude towards Izuku didn’t change. Izuku could only wonder how that would hold out once they were both attending Yuuei. There was no doubt in his mind that Bakugou would be there as well. Izuku would simply have to hope that Bakugou wasn’t put into Aizawa’s homeroom as well. If he was, well, Izuku would worry about that when it became a problem. At least he wouldn’t be alone again. Aizawa would not allow any of Bakugou’s nonsense in his class, that was for sure.

Izuku wished that he and Mei could be in the same class at Yuuei too, but that wouldn’t happen unless Mei suddenly decided that she would rather be a hero and an inventor.

“What’s with that expression, Izuku?” Mei asked, slipping her goggles on as she leaned in to look at his face. “Got lost in that head of yours again?”

“Just thinking about somethings. School. Yuuei.”

“Bleh!” Mei made a face. “I’m excited about Yuuei too, but that’s ages away! And it’s the weekend! Don’t waste our precious free time by thinking about stressful stuff like school!”

“I guess you’re right.”

“There, there, Izuku,” Mei said, patting him on the head. “I’m always right. The sooner you learn that the easier this will all be.”

“You know you love me arguing with you.” Izuku brushed her hand off his head she she moved her goggles back to their usual position.

“I do. I really really do. Except when you’re wrong. Which is always. Now let’s get going before we miss our train.”

“Hey, whose fault is that?” Izuku demanded, but he smiled. A day at the mall with Mei was just what he needed. No training, no worrying. Perfect.

He should have known that nothing in his life would ever be that simple.

Chapter Text

Shigaraki was-in a word- unsettling. The moment Kurogiri agreed to hear the rest of their plans, Shigaraki had declared the bar his new base of operations. When Kurogiri tried to argue that his home and business was not going to become the headquarters for a group trying to take down the number one hero the stranger had dissolved a table with a touch of his hand and an eerie smile. It seemed that Kurogiri would have little choice in that decision as well.

Having the villain at his bar would make it more difficult for Kurogiri to get himself out of whatever trouble Shigaraki and his mentor were planning, but the moment the opportunity arose he would take it. Abandoning the bar wasn’t ideal-it was his home after all- but he wasn’t attached enough to it that he wasn’t willing to cut and run if it meant getting away from the craziness he was finding himself dragged into. Kurogiri kept a low profile for a reason. He might have had a history for getting into less that legal situations, but he wasn’t suicidal. Anyone willing to take on All Might had to be either delusional or seriously out of touch with the reality of the situation. Kurogiri wanted no part of it. If he knew without a doubt that he would be able to make it out with no consequences he would have left the moment Shigaraki arrived, but there was only one problem…

Sensei. That was what Shigaraki had called his mysterious mentor.

Calling him sensei implied there was some kind of teaching going on, but after spending a few days in the company of the so-called student Kurogiri still couldn’t be sure if there was any actual learning taking place. Shigaraki himself had said that their goals were different, but Kurogiri couldn’t help but wonder about the person that had sent his unstable student after him.

How could he have even known about Kurogiri to begin with?

Keeping a low profile meant that, however questionable some of the businesses he worked with were, he never acted in a way that would draw attention to himself and his quirk. A quirk as versatile as his would easily be in demand. Having the wrong people know about him would put himself in more danger than he cared to be involved in. As seen by the stranger destroying his bar and demanding his help.

And then there was this Sensei himself. It wasn’t uncommon for villains to choose codenames like the heroes they often went up against, but Kurogiri had never heard of someone going by that call sign before, which meant one of two things. Either he was new enough not to have a reputation yet or he was good enough not to get noticed. Both options were unfortunate for Kurogiri for very different reasons.

Going after a top hero was always a risky business, but if Sensei was new to the scene then it was bound to be disastrous for anyone involved. Considering Kurogiri was unwillingly included in that number he hoped that wasn’t the case. If Sensei has managed to operate without his name getting out though…Kurogiri wasn’t sure if that was better or worse. Someone that smart wouldn’t go after a pro with no plan, but it would make it infinitely more difficult for him to cut ties with the operation. A person like that would have to have an expansive information network to keep their identity from leaking. Kurogiri wouldn’t be able to just skip town if this person had that kind of system at their disposal.

For now he needed information of his own and fast.

“You said your sensei is the one who told you about me?” Kurogiri asked. This was the third visit Shigaraki had made in as many days, although he never did anything other than sit at one of the tables, attention focused on the game in his hand.

Shigaraki hummed. “Sensei thinks you’re the missing piece in his plan.”

Kurogiri did not like the sound of that at all. “And am I ever going to meet this Sensei?”

“Now, now, now,” Shigaraki said, a hand going to scratch at his neck. His eyes didn’t leave the console. “Sensei said you’re what we need, but I’m the one that gets to decide. You don’t get to talk to him until you pass my test.”

“Test?” That sounded even worse. The mist flickered around him.

“We can’t play the game right if we don’t even know what our players are capable of. So a test. A game. Win and you’ll be able to talk to Sensei. Find out what our plan is. Lose? And it’s game over. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?”

“Game over?”

“The game is over when the player loses all of their lives, of course.” Shigaraki finally looked up from his game, glancing at Kurogiri through his hair. His lips cracked around his smile. “How many lives do you have Kurogiri-san?”

Izuku grimaced as they entered the mall. It had been so long since he had been to the mall on the weekend that he had forgotten just how busy the stores could get.

“Aizawa’s paranoia rubbing off on you, Izuku?” Mei asked, slinging an arm over his shoulder. She watched as he fidgeted, leaning into her shoulder to avoid being bumped by the passing crowd.

“It’s not paranoia, it’s caution. Look, Aizawa-sensei has had me analyzing common situations where villains attack as homework for months now, and do you know what a lot of those situations have in common, Mei?”


“Crowds,” Izuku repeated, ignoring the sarcastic tone of her voice. “Shoplifters get caught, panic, lose control of their quirk. Too many people packed in one space and arguments turn to fights. People who want to lash out do it in front of a crowd. Places with large groups of people are where the most spontaneous quirk crimes occur.”

Mei started leading Izuku away from the doors, her arm still over his shoulder. “You know you didn’t have to come with me if you didn’t want to, right? I would have understood if you said it bothered you.”

Izuku shook his head. “No, it’s fine. I’m not going to stop going places just because there’s a chance there might be a villain attack. That would be a little counterproductive. It’s just difficult to stop seeing places like Aizawa-sensei though, once he’s pointed out all the potential dangers of a place. Next time we go on one of our field trips, you should come with us. See what I mean.”

“A field trip with Aizawa-san! My mom would be so jealous.” Mei’s arm slid of Izuku’s shoulder as she started pulling him towards the other end of the mall.

“She’s going to give you something to prank him with isn’t she?”

“Oh, definitely.” Mei grinned. “The only question is whether or not Aizawa-san is going to kill her when he finds out.”

Aizawa and Izuku had made several trips to Hatsume Natsumi’s shop over the last year for adjustments and refills of Izuku’s supplies. Hatsume had not let a single trip pass by without trying to mess with the pro hero in some way. Izuku didn’t see the appeal. While pulling one over on Aizawa was most definitely a challenge, the consequences that would inevitably follow wouldn’t be worth the effort.

“Now what did you say we were here for, exactly?” They had turned down a thankfully less crowded portion of the mall. Izuku glanced down the row of shops lining the hallway, looking for anything that would have materials Mei could need for a project.

“I didn’t. Don’t think you can trick me into telling you about this one before it’s ready. We’ll stop there last. I’m sure you don’t want to help me lug all of my stuff around while we look.”

So maybe this wasn’t going to be a quick trip after all.

“How much stuff are you planning on getting?”

“Not too much. Only five bags worth. Probably. Maybe six.”

“You really did bring me here to be a pack mule!” Izuku accused, poking her in the side. Mei dodged out of the way, laughing.

“Which is why I’m about to buy you ice cream!”

"I guess,” Izuku said, thinking about it for a moment. “If it’s for ice cream.”

For the next hour they wandered in and out of stores. It had been so long since Izuku had last gone to the mall with anyone other than his mother- had been so long since he had been to the mall at all- that he had forgotten how fun it could be. Once he had pushed his worries out of his mind.

“See!” Mei said, gesturing to the bags Izuku was holding. “This was a good idea. Crowds aside, look at all the cool stuff you can find when you get out!”

“Don’t say it, Mei. Do not say it.” Izuku kept walking, refusing to look at her.

“Say what, Izuku?” Mei grinned, bouncing in her step to catch up with him. “What would I say in response to being right?”

“Let’s just go get some food, and then we can go get your stuff. Okay?”

“Sure thing, Izuku,” Mei said, tone amused. “Although I did tell you so.”

Izuku groaned.

“You know I had to say it. I had to! That’s the rule.”

“Well, if it the rule, I-” Izuku cut off, turning to look behind them.


“Did you hear that?” Izuku asked, taking a slow step back the way they had come.

“Hear what? There’s a lot of people around, Izuku. What did you think you heard?”

Later, Izuku would think about how grateful he was that Mei had taken him seriously. Despite the fact that she had been teasing him about being paranoid on their way to the mall, the moment that he acted as though something was actually wrong she didn’t argue with him. Now though, Izuku felt a chill settle over him. Something…Something was about to go very, very wrong, and Izuku couldn’t quite figure out why.

“Izuku?” Mei asked again, pulled on his arm where he stood frozen. People continued to mill about around them, shooting them sharp looks are they blocked the way, but Mei paid them no attention, eyes focused on her friend. “Izuku, what’s wrong? You’re starting to freak me out.”

“I don’t…I don’t know, Mei. I just thought I heard…” Izuku trailed off because he wasn’t sure exactly what it was that made him think that their nice, relaxing trip to the mall was about to be ruined. He only knew that there was a sinking feeling in his stomach that Aizawa had trained him to tune.

A high-pitched laugh sounded, cutting clear through the hum of voices around them.

Izuku’s heart stuttered to a halt. He reached out blindly, finding Mei’s hand in one of his while tossing his bags to the side with the other.

“What are you doing? Izuku?”

“Supply closet,” he answered shortly, already pulling her through the crowd. “Come on.”

“Izuku, you know I trust you. But what the hell is going on.”

“I’ll explain when we’re clear.” Izuku didn’t turn back to look at her, just kept walking until he found a closet tucked into a corner. They were both inside with the door closed tight before Mei could protest again.

“Again. What is going on, Izuku? What did you hear?”
Izuku took a deep, shaky breath. “I wasn’t sure. I thought I heard…that laugh. It’s-”

Mei shook her head, leaning against the door, but making no attempt to open it. “You aren’t making any sense.”

“There was a case a few years ago. Three siblings who would take over malls, theatres, subway stations- fairly small places that had a lot of people. The media called them the Terror Twins.”

“First off, that’s a dumb name. Didn’t you say there were three of them?”

Izuku raised his hands. “I didn’t come up with the name. Anyway, that’s not important. The siblings made a lot of headlines because even though they’re related, their quirks are all over the place. It’s rare, but it happens. The oldest brother? He goes by Ancile and he’s got some kind of shielding quirk. He throws it up around the building to keep heroes out. Then there are the actual twins- Sans and Kell. Sans can turn anything she touches into an explosive and Kell-he has a kind of teleportation quirk. That’s how they always got away. Ancile makes sure no heroes can get in to stop them, they use Sans quirk to terrorize the people they take hostage, and then Kell makes sure they get out before.”

“But you said this was years ago, right? Shouldn’t they still be in prison?” Mei asked, her expression closed.

“They should be,” Izuku agreed, pulling out his phone. “And there’s no news about a break out but… I recognized that laugh. They must be taking out security now, before they cause a panic.”

“I’m going to need you to run this by me again. You recognized the laugh of a villain that hasn’t been active in years? That’s crazy impressive.” Mei hesitated. “I’m not asking this because I don’t believe you, but are you sure you didn’t hear wrong? I mean it’s been a few minutes. Everything seems fine.”

Izuku shook his head. “I watched the video of their capture at least a thousand times. Serial assaults like this aren’t common, and it was one of All Might’s cases. Kell can only teleport if he’s left something that can act as a beacon at the location he’s trying to get to. The police caught them the last time because they had All Might blow down the shielding once they figured out where their base was. When they tried to teleport back they landed in an ambush. Sans laughed the whole time they were on trial.”

“Then we need to warn them.”

“I’m calling Aizawa-sensei now,” Izuku answered, already dialing.

“I’ll try Mom.”

“All Might was the only one who could break down the shielding last time,” Izuku said as the phone rang. “Who knows where he is right now. And we have no idea where Kell left the beacon or how they got out of prison.”

The ringing cut out suddenly.

“Izuku.” Mei held out her phone, looking up at him, her eyes wide with horror. “I don’t have a signal anymore.”

“Me either.” His grip tightened around his phone. A normal, fun, worry free day at the mall with Mei. That was all he wanted. The universe, it seemed, had other plans. Mei stared at him, waiting for him to tell her what they should do. He was the one who wanted to be a hero. He was the one who had the training. It was up to him to figure out how to get them out of this.

He took another shaking breath as he tried to slow the pounding of his heart.

“Okay. Right. We need a plan. We should be okay in here for now. They aren’t expecting people to know they’re here before they strike. Aizawa will see that I tried to call him. He’ll assume something is wrong when he tries to call me back and can’t get through. For now we need to-”

The sound of an explosion drowned out the rest of his words as the building shook around them. Screams echoed through the open corridors as the shock wore off, fear taking its place.

They were out of time.

The attack on the mall had started.
The smart thing to do-the legal thing to do- would be to stay put until everything was over. Aizawa would get his message and alert the police soon if they hadn’t already. Someone would be sent to help them soon.

Izuku dropped his backpack to the ground, opening it to where he kept his eskrima rods. Ever since the kidnapping he had been almost obsessive about making sure they were with him even if he had never had a reason to use them in public since. They could get in a lot of trouble for getting involved, even if he didn’t have any of his other weapons with him. Aizawa would probably want to kill him once he and Hizashi returned from their conference. Don’t go into situations you aren’t prepared for. That had been Aizawa’s moto since the very beginning. He would want Izuku to stay where he was- out of the danger, out of the action.

But if Izuku did that, what kind of hero would he be? Yes, he was still learning. There was so much more he needed to learn before he would truly be ready to act against villains on his own. Izuku wasn’t Bakugou. He wasn’t egotistical enough to think that he would be any match for the Terror Twins. Especially not if it had taken All Might himself to break through that shield.

Another explosion sounded, smaller than the last one, but no less terrifying to the people trapped throughout the mall. The sound of screams rose again.

If Izuku didn’t do something to help when all of these people were afraid and in danger, how could he claim to want to be a hero?

The villains would have taken out security before setting off the first bomb, but maybe there was an off-duty hero somewhere in the mall. Someone that Izuku with all his hero knowledge would recognize but the villains wouldn’t. And there was something they could do on the inside. The shield might be too difficult for them to get through on their own but unless someone stopped Kell there would be nothing preventing them from teleporting out and doing it all over again. The last time it had taken weeks for the police and heroes together to locate the Twins safe house. How many people would be hurt if they got away again?

“Alright, Mei,” Izuku said, voice steady. “Here’s what we’re going to do.”

Chapter Text

“Before we decide on anything, I want to make sure that you know you don’t have to get involved.” The mall had gone silent after the last explosion, but that didn’t meant that the Terror Twins weren’t still out there doing who knows what to torment the hostages. Izuku couldn’t sit still and hide out of danger while all of those people were being threatened. It just wasn’t who he was, wasn’t what he had spent the last year training to do. If he didn’t try to find some way to help them from the inside while the heroes outside were stuck figuring out how to get the barrier down he would never forgive himself.

Mei, on the other hand, wasn’t trying to get into the hero course. She mastered every piece of tech in her mother’s shop, but she had no intention of actually using it outside of the workshop. Even if she did, they didn’t have any of it with them. Izuku had the rods and a years worth of training to back him up, and the odds were still overwhelmingly against him having any luck against these villains. Mei might be a genius, but she hadn’t prepared for a situation like this. Not in the same way Izuku had. He couldn’t ask her to put herself in danger just because he refused to sit safely out of the way.

“If you think that I’m going to stay here while you go out there by yourself you’re an idiot, Midoriya Izuku,” Mei said. Izuku couldn’t see her expression through what little light filtered in around the closet door, but he didn’t need to see her to be able to image what her face looked like in that moment.

“These people are dangerous, Mei,” Izuku tried to reason, already knowing before the words were out of his mouth that they wouldn’t do any good. Hizashi liked to joke that Izuku got his stubbornness from Aizawa, that no one could be as hard headed as the two of them when they got their minds stuck on something. He had only met Hatsume Mei a handful of times though. Certainly not enough to see the truth- Aizawa and Izuku were nothing compared to Mei’s sometimes ridiculous levels of single mindedness. If Mei had already decided she was going then nothing he said would change her mind.

He would have to try to convince her anyway.

“And that’s exactly why I’m not letting you go by yourself,” she answered just as fiercely as before. “If you go out there and get hurt because I wasn’t with you I would never forgive myself.”

Izuku started to say that that was the exact reason he wanted her to stay, but quickly thought better of it. Mei would not appreciate the sentiment. “You don’t even have a way to fight back, Mei. And you might not forgive yourself if I got hurt, but you know your mom would kill me if anything were to happen to you. She has plenty of ways to make it look like an accident too.”

He could feel Mei rolling her eyes even if he still couldn’t see her. “That’s ridiculous and you know it. You don’t really have much you can do in this situation either. Unless you want to get arrested for heroics without a license, of course.”

“I can’t use a quirk I don’t have, Mei.” Izuku pointed out.

“Escrima rods still count as a weapon, Izuku,” she responded, poking him in the chest. “I know Aizawa-san has to have gone over the specifics of that law with you. Use a weapon like that against another person and it’ll still count as heroics without a license. Quirk or no quirk.”

She had a point, although Izuku hated to admit it. Aizawa had made sure to go over the law with him almost every day for at least a month, knowing that he was bound to end up in a situation where it was relevant eventually. Even if he had the rest of his gear with him he wouldn’t have been able to use it without getting himself and Aizawa in trouble for it. Not that that would have stopped him if he needed to get involved, of course, but he felt almost glad that he didn’t have to make that decision. Aizawa had done so much for him, Izuku didn’t need to cause more trouble for him than he already did, and breaking the heroics law when he wasn’t even officially enrolled in a course would be bound to have steep consequences for his mentor.

“Well, it’s not like I planned to take all three of them on myself,” Izuku said finally. As much as he wished he could have this problem solved by the time the people outside managed to get the barrier down, he wouldn’t lie to himself by thinking it would be possible. The Terror Twins had gotten away with their attacks for so long for a reason. They were organized, and they knew how to work together to cover as many of their weaknesses as they could. Only All Might had been enough to surprise them into making mistakes, and as far as he and Mei were concerned they would need to assume that the number one hero wouldn’t be able to reach them anytime soon.

“Then it shouldn’t be a problem for me to go with you. Since you’re saying to aren’t going to fight them. Right?” Mei’s eyes flashed in the low light, and Izuku groaned, leaning to rest his forehead against the wall. Mei wouldn’t be letting this go until he agreed, and they were wasting enough time arguing as it was.

“It’s your decision. Just… be careful, okay? I’m not planning on getting their attention until we absolutely have to but you know how things usually go.” Disaster always seemed to strike the moment Izuku needed it the least, and he had a feeling that habit wouldn’t be going away anytime soon. The only way to handle it was to prepare as best he could and hope that everything worked out in the end. If it didn’t...he would worry about that when it became a problem and not before.

“I’ll be as careful as you!”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better, you know.”

“Now you know how the rest of us feel all the time.”

Izuku’s protest was interrupted by the sound of another explosion, larger than the one before. If they were going to do something to help they needed to move quickly.

“They may have put the barrier up around the entire mall, but they can’t keep everyone inside in one place. The mall is too big, and there are too many people. The explosions might have everyone terrified, but there are only three villains. They can’t be everywhere at once. They probably picked the most crowded place in the mall to make their stand. And what’s always the most crowded area of the mall?”

“The food court.”

“Exactly,” Izuku nodded. “Open area. Maximum number of people. That’s the only place they would be able to have total control. Everyone else is probably hiding out in the stores around the ends of the mall until this is all over. Ancile shouldn’t be able to move much while he’s keeping the barrier up. That’s usually how quirks like his work at least. Out of Sans and Kell, Kell is the one we need to worry about.”

“Not the one with the explosions?”

“We aren’t going to be able to do anything against her. Not when I don’t have any of my gear. Her quirk would keep us from getting too close, and anything we do to her might put the hostages at risk. Kell though…” Izuku grinned. “When he’s not teleporting he’s just as quirkless as I am, and I bet I’ve got the upper hand when it comes to quirkless fighting. They know that All Might is able to break down Ancile’s barrier so they’re probably going to try to get him here as quickly as they can. Unlike last time though, if Kell manages to get them out there won’t be a team of pro heroes waiting to catch them at their base. The best thing we can do for now is to prevent Kell from being able to use his quirk.”

“So we need to distract them and separate him.” Mei turned to look at the cleaning supplies lining the walls. “I think I have just the idea. Why don’t we fight fire with a little fire of our own?”

Izuku didn’t come to the mall often, but even he felt thrown by the stillness of everything when he and Mei still carefully out of their hiding space. No explosions rocked the building as they carefully traced their way back through the empty corridor, so they could only assume that the villains were finding some other way to terrorize their hostages for the time being. Shopping bags littered the ground where people had dropped them in their haste to get away, and Izuku made sure to step carefully around them as they walked.
Not a single other person was visible in the halls, although he thought he had glimpsed a few through the shop windows. If anyone saw them as they made their way to the department store that connected their branch of the mall to the food court no one tried to stop them. If it had been anyone else in their place Izuku would have been disappointed. Two kids walking straight into danger? Someone should have said something. As they turned the corner moving closer to towards the end of the hallway, he made a mental note not to mention detail to Aizawa later. His mentor would be furious.

Hefting his backpack higher on his shoulders, Izuku gestured for Mei to step closer. The inside of the department store was even more eerie than the corridor. Closer to the center of the mall and therefore the food court, the sound of the original explosions must have been even more shocking. Like the rest of the mall, bags were strewn haphazardly across the floor. Clothes were left in uneven piles around the registers. On the other side of the store Izuku could see where a stand had been tilted on its side to act as a shield for the people huddling just visible behind it.


Izuku flinched, reaching out to grab Mei’s arm as he whirled at the sound of a harsh whisper. Beside him, he could feel Mei stiffen.

“Kid! What are you doing?” The whisper came again, and Izuku locked eyes with an older woman crouching behind a display stand a short ways from the checkout counter, her mouth pressed in a thin line as she looked between Izuku and Mei. She waved at him to move closer to her.

He glanced at Mei who shrugged, gently pulling her arm back from Izuku’s tight grip. They didn’t have time to talk to her, whoever this woman was, but the moment they started to turn away she called out again a little louder this time. “Get over here! Now!” So maybe someone would be trying to stop them from getting involved. Aizawa would be proud.

Worried about what she would do if they kept walking, what kind of attention she might bring them if she got any louder, the two of them did as she asked. Maybe they would The moment he was within reach the woman’s hand shot out towards them. Izuku jerked back, tripping over his own feet as he moved out of reach, but Mei wasn’t fast enough. The woman managed to grab the end of her sleeve, pulling the younger girl behind the stand as well.

“What are you doing?” Mei hissed, snatching her arm away much harder than she had from Izuku moments before.

“I think you mean what are you two doing?” The woman snapped. Now that they were closer, Izuku could see that she was wearing the store’s employee uniform. A manager maybe, from the way she was trying to take what little control over the situation she could.

“We know what we’re doing,” Izuku responded dryly. They really didn’t have time to waste if they were going to go through with their plan before it was too late. “We don’t need to ask that.”

“Smartass,” the woman said, mimicking his tone. Izuku found himself smiling despite the circumstances. “You know what I meant.”

“It’s the Terror Twins,” Mei said hurriedly.“They’re-”

“I know who they are. I thought they were supposed to be in jail.”

“They are, but somehow they’re here.” Izuku hesitated for a moment before continuing. If he told her the truth she would most likely try even harder to stop them from going, but if he lied and she didn’t believe them it would be even more precious time lost. She was going to try to stop them from going either way. Better to cut straight to the chase, he decided. “All Might is probably already on his way here to break down the barrier around the mall, but it’s not going to do any good if they are able to just teleport away.”

“We’ve got a plan for separating Kell so we can make sure he can’t help them escape,” Mei added.

The woman didn’t respond right away, staring at Izuku for a moment before turning to look at Mei. “And you really think this plan will work? Two kids against three villains?”

“We only need to fight one villain,” Izuku countered. “I’ve been training with a hero for a year. She and her mom make support items. We know what we need to do to help. That’s all we want to do.”

“And what about all of these people?” The woman asked, looking behind her where Izuku could see other shoppers clustered behind shelving. “Let’s say I buy that you two have some sort of plan, and that you’re not going to get yourselves killed. What happens to them when you shift those villains’ attention elsewhere?”

“If someone doesn’t stop Kell from getting them out then this is going to happen to more people,” Izuku answered. “No one is prepared for them this time. If we let Kell use his quirk then who knows how long it will take for them to be caught this time.”

It wasn’t an ideal situation, he knew that. There was always the chance that he and Mei would be making things worse, but as long as they cleared the area around them… Well. Izuku would just have to make sure that they made themselves large enough targets that Kell wouldn’t be able to worry about any of the other people hidden throughout the mall.

The woman hummed. “You!” She pointed at Mei. “You make support items. Is Hatsume Natsumi your mother?”

“You know her?” Mei asked, surprised.

“I know of her. And you said you’re training with a pro?”

Izuku nodded, unsure of where she was going with this. “I’ve been working with Eraserhead.”

“Never heard of them,” she said, looking between the two of them. “I really should stop you. I have no reason to believe that the two of you are capable of what you claim, but I get the feeling there’s nothing I can do to stop you. Is there?”

Not for the first time, Izuku wondered how many times he would be able to get away with a crazy plan because strangers recognized that he was going to go through with it anyway. Izuku may have been regretting Mei’s stubbornness not too long ago, but no matter what Hizashi said it did have its uses.

“There’s an evacuation protocol for villain attacks like this. Give me twenty minutes and I’ll have this store clear for whatever you have planned.”

“Really?” Izuku couldn’t help but ask. She was going to let them go. Just like that.

“It’s not my job to stop you,” she shrugged.

“Twenty minutes?”

“Twenty minutes.”

Mei stood up slowly. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it. Literally. I never saw you. We never had this conversation.” The woman stood as well.

“Do you mind…Can we ask your name?”

“Yeah, you don’t need to know my name,” the woman said. “You never met me, after all.”

Twenty minutes hadn’t seemed like a long time when they agreed to it, but as the clock ticked on it seemed to never end. The explosions started up again as they waited. Five loud bursts in quick succession. Izuku started towards the food court entrance, but Mei held him back.

“We promised her twenty minutes, Izuku,” Mei said gently, hand on his shoulder to hold him back.

“I just want to see,” he argued.

“You know if we go see what they’re doing you aren’t going to want to wait. I hate it too, but we need to give her time to get everyone else out.”

Once again, Mei was right. He had read all of the files on the Terror Twins that had been made public. He knew the kinds of things they did, the games they like to play with the people they had taken hostage. If they were to go and see them first hand, Izuku wouldn’t be able to wait until their twenty minutes were up. He wouldn’t be able to deal with knowing exactly what was going on and not being able to do a thing about it. He felt sick to his stomach just listening to the sounds as they echoed through the empty store.

Mei grabbed his hand, giving it a comforting squeeze as they watched the time slip by. When there was only five minutes remaining until the woman had promised they would be clear Izuku couldn’t wait any longer.

“Come on. We need to see what they’re doing and set up,” he said, pulling Mei after him. This time she didn’t move to stop him.

As the got closer to the store entrance the sounds got almost impossibly loud, a laugh cutting clear through the yelling that rose as another explosion went off. Izuku and Mei moved slowly onto the carpeted floor towards the front display window, leaning carefully around the hanging display to catch a glimpse of the still crowded food court.

The unfortunate shoppers caught in the middle of the attack were sitting together in the middle of the floor, tables and chairs pushed to the sides of the room. Izuku scanned the room, trying to take in as many details as he could. Ancile stood at the very back, hands raised towards the large windows that lined the farthest wall. A faint glimmer was visible through the panes, pearly white through the clear glass. His barrier.

Kell faced away from the on their end of room, arms crossed as he watched the hostages. Izuku couldn’t see his face, but his shoulders shook as he laughed. “That was a good one! Do that one again.”

“Anything for you little brother,” came the reply as Sans shot him a grin. Izuku and Mei jerked back away from the window, breathing hard as they waited. Had they been seen? They hadn’t made a plan for that. Why hadn’t they thought made a plan for that? It seemed ridiculous in hindsight, but there was nothing they could do about it now, pressed against the wall as they were, hoping they hadn’t been spotted.

“You with the hat,” Kell said, and Izuku let out a shaking breath. They were safe. They hadn’t been seen. Mei’s grip on his hand tightened as they leaned into the window again to see Kell pointing at a man sitting on the ground. His head ducked low, red hat obvious from a distance. The man stood on unsteady legs, his movements lurching as he walked to towards Sans. She smiled.

“And why don’t we have you four as well?” She laughed, gesturing towards a group sitting together.

Izuku and Mei could only watch in horror as she line the five of them up in front of her, reaching into her bag to pull out a handful of large, glass marbles. Gently, she placed one in each of their shaking hands.

“One of these is a bomb!” Sans said cheerfully, bag rattling as she twirled. “Four of them are not! Isn’t that exciting!” She stopped turning, walking down the line. “I’m sure you remember how this works!” Reaching the end of the line, she lunged, knocking the marble out of the closest person’s outstretched hands. They flinched back, falling to the ground as they scrambled to move away.

The marble clattered harmlessly to the ground.

“Did you see his face?” Sans laughed, skipping back. “Ancile! Ancile, did you see?”

“I’m a little busy at the moment,” came the gravely reply.

Sans pouted. “Well, you aren’t any fun.” She turned back towards the remaining four people. “Now who should go next? Hmmm?”

Mei jerked Izuku back out of the window as he started to move forward. “The plan, Izuku. It’s been long enough. We need to go set up.” Izuku did as she said, letting her pull him away from the window, the sound of Sans’ laughter following them back into the store.

Izuku had never considered himself an angry person. After being around Bakugou for so long, even if he had been one to anger quickly he was sure he would have gotten it under control by that point. Looking at what the Terror Twins were doing though, having to walk away…He felt numb with it. Fury he had never felt before. How they could stand there and laugh at other people’s fear-Izuku couldn’t understand it, but they wouldn’t get away with it this time. Not if he had anything to say about it.

Chapter Text

“If you pick up that phone one more time, Shouta, I swear I will scream until it breaks,” Hizashi threatened, pointing at the phone laying face down on the table between then with his fork. “This is vacation time. Not work time.”

“I’m just checking in with-”

“Izuku is fine! Don’t worry about it!” Hizashi shook his head, spearing another piece of pasta with his fork. “You worry too much and-”

Aizawa’s phone started to ring, the sound blaring in the quiet restaurant. “That’s Midoriya’s ringtone.” The hero argued, reaching for his phone again. This time Hizashi made no move to stop him, but the ringing cut off just as Aizawa was about to answer. He looked up at his friend, eyes narrowed.

“Maybe he didn’t mean to call you?” Hizashi tried, but he pushed his plate away as he watched Aizawa tap quickly on his phone.

“It’s not even ringing now,” Aizawa said. “If his phone had died it would have gone straight to his voicemail.”

“He can’t have gotten himself in trouble again! He promised! No more dangerous situations when we aren’t there!”

“I doubt that whoever is blocking his phone signal gave him much of a choice.” Aizawa’s expression remained blank as he stood up, but Hizashi had known him long enough to look for the signs of his panic-the slight trembling in his hands, the tremor in his voice.

“I’ll take care of the bill,” Hizashi said quickly. “Call Nedzu. See if he knows about a villain attack Izuku could have been caught up in. I’ll meet you at the car.”

Aizawa didn’t argue, thankful for Hizashi taking charge. There could be any number of reasons for Midoriya’s call, for his phone not working now. He couldn’t allow himself to hope that any of them were true. Operating under the assumption that Midoriya was in danger once again was the best way to ensure his safety. If it turned out he was wrong, well then...Aizawa would be having a conversation with his student about keeping his phone charged and with him. If he wasn’t...his panic wouldn’t be for nothing.

Whatever the case, Nedzu better do whatever he could to help until Aizawa and Hizashi could get back to town. The man owed him after everything he had put them through.

“And you’re sure that Kell will be the one sent to investigate?” Mei asked, contents of the supply closet spread out on the floor around her.

Izuku paced behind her. “I can’t say for certain, but he’s the most likely. You saw how they were. Ancile can’t move while he’s keeping the barrier in place. That much was in his profile from their first attacks. And Kell’s quirk wouldn’t be helpful in keeping all of the hostages in place. The second Sans left there would be nothing stopping them from fighting back. It’s not like he can teleport at will. Not without his pre placed beacon. He’s the only one that could leave and not have them lose control of the situation.”

“Either way, we can’t let this go on much longer. It’s been about half an hour since the barrier went up. All Might could be here at any moment. If we don’t get them separated before then, then they’ll just do all of this again.”

Mei reached into her backpack for something, adding it to the mix.

“And you’re sure this won’t get out of hand?” Izuku refused to regret whatever trouble they were going to be in for getting involved, but the situation would be a lot better for them if they didn’t cause any lasting damage to the building. Best case scenario would involve them slipping away before anyone had even realized they were there. With the security system down it shouldn’t be that difficult. It wasn’t like Kell would be willing to admit he was taken out by two middle schoolers who hadn’t even had to use their quirks on him.

At least that was the hope.

“It’ll be fine,” Mei said, not looking up from her supplies. “I know what I’m doing.”

“That’s not why I asked.”

“I know.” Mei shrugged. “It’s more noise than anything. Get their attention, but that’s about it. There’s no chance of it spreading. Even with your terrible luck.”

“Uh… You do know you just jinxed it. Right?”

“My knowledge of chemistry outweighs any jinx I might have caused. Trust in the genius, Izuku. I understand it might be a new concept for you but…”

Izuku could see her grin even though she still hadn’t lifted her head. “As if a little thing like a jinx could stop the two of us.”

The expected agreement or sarcastic comment never came. Izuku stopped pacing, turning to watch Mei’s movements closely in the silence that followed. She had been so adamant to follow him, so confident that he wouldn’t be able to handle the situation without him. He hadn’t considered the fact that Mei had never faced a problem like this before. Izuku knew that she had never seriously considered joining the hero course, but he hadn’t stopped to think about what that would mean for her in that exact moment.

Mei’s unease wasn’t obvious. Her hands didn’t shake as she prepared their diversion. The determined look in her eyes didn’t waver. But Izuku could see it, now that he had thought to look for it. He had been shaken by what they had seen, and this wasn’t even the first hostage situation he had been involved in let alone his first experience with real violence. He should have thought to check on Mei before, because no matter how unaffected she acted there was no way that was anything but an act.

“Mei?” Izuku asked. When she still didn’t look up he called again, louder. “Mei?”

Startled, she finally looked up, catching Izuku’s eyes, her hands freezing over the open bottle of window cleaner. “Yes?”

“We’re going to stop them, Mei. They aren’t going to do this again.” Izuku hadn’t allowed himself to have his own breakdown about suddenly being thrown into danger. His first priority had been getting himself and Bakugou free. After that all he forced himself to focus on making sure Aizawa got the help he needed. By the time things had calmed down enough to think about what had happened- to really process the reality that he could have died had things been different, had Asahi not had a problem taking out his anger on two children- Izuku had forced his panic down far enough to bury it under as much cold reason and logic as he could.

He was training to be a hero, after all. That had only been the first time he had been threaten. It certainly wouldn’t be the last. Letting it affect him wouldn’t change anything. Only hurt him in the long run, when he found himself in yet another life-threatening situation. In hindsight, that hadn’t been the best way to handle things. He shouldn’t have expected Mei to respond the same way. She liked to joke about it, but Izuku didn’t doubt that she was the smarter one between them.

Mei took a shaking breath before speaking. “Of course they aren’t. We’ve got you here, haven’t we?”

Having a friend, a real friend, had been a new experience for Izuku. He hadn’t always known what to do or what to say. Hadn’t always been able to offer Mei the advice she needed simply because he had never been had the opportunity to be that person for someone and had no idea what to do with it now that he did.

Even if he couldn’t be certain that was he was saying was the right thing he had to say something.

Izuku took a step closer, kneeling down to sit beside Mei on the cold tiled floor. She looked at him for a second longer before pulling her goggles over her eyes, turning back to her project at hand.

“I think you mean they’ve got us,” Izuku corrected. “Because I am not the one currently setting up the distraction, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own.”

“You would have figured something out.”

“No, Mei,” Izuku said, his voice firm. Mei looked up at him quickly and then away. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you. I know this,” he gestured vaguely around them,” isn’t what you want to do, but I’m glad we’re in this together. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”

“I- Thanks, Izuku,” Mei said, her voice soft. “I couldn’t have asked for a better partner either.”

“Now,” he said, still wishing there was something else he could do to make the situation better. He would have to talk to Aizawa about that once his mentor was done lecturing him for this latest disaster. “Are we ready to take out some villains?”

This time Mei laughed. “Ready!”

The distraction worked just as Mei had said. Izuku watched as she added one last ingredient to her bucket, a mix of things she had found in the cleaning supplies and, unsurprisingly, her backpack. The moment the drop hit the mixture the solution began to smoke. Mei quickly moved them both out of the way.

“Don’t let it touch you, by the way. It should start popping in just a sec.”

Izuku whirled, eyes wide. “You said it was safe!”

“It is!” Mei argued, looking between the bucket and the escalator at the other end of the hallway. They had decided to set up their distraction on the second floor of the department store- close enough to catch their interest but far enough away that they wouldn’t risk sending more than one villain to check out the disturbance. “It’s perfectly safe! As long as you don’t let it touch you.”

“Mei-” Izuku started, but the rest of his sentence was drowned out by the small explosions that sounded from the solution like the poppers his mom had gotten him once before the fun of them had been ruined by Bakugou and the appearance of his quirk.

“No time!” She grabbed his hand, pulling him away from their distraction and into the rows of racks. The popping continued, smoke filling the air around them until Izuku felt like he would choke on it. Mei stopped halfway between the now frozen escalator and their diversion, pulling him down until they were tucked away behind a low table covered in handbags. Even from the escalator, Kell wouldn’t be able to see them. “See. We’re out of range now and everything is fine.”

“You know that wasn’t what I meant.”

Mei shushed him in response.

Izuku could barely breathe as they waited, pressed against the wooden case. With each second that passed the tightness in his chest grew. Their plan had to work. It had to. Knock Kell out. Prevent them from getting away. Hope that All Might arrived to get the shielding down before Kell’s siblings got suspicious.

“What if he doesn’t come?” Mei asked after a moment.

“You just told me to be quiet!” Izuku whispered back. “And he’ll come. You weren’t kidding when you said it was loud. There’s no way they would let this go on without checking it out.”

They fell silent again, watching the escalator. A tense minute passed. Then another.

“Can’t believe I have to miss out on all the fun,” a voice grumbled. Mei reached out to grab his hand again. “Not like anyone would be stupid enough to do anything while we’re here.”

Footsteps echoed in the empty store before Kell emerged at the top of the stairs, his head immediately turning towards the bucket still crackling behind them. “What the-” He started towards the bucket.

And that, Izuku noted, was his first mistake.

Kell strode towards their distraction without a second thought, not bothering to look to see who might have set it up. A little of the panic Izuku had been feeling vanished as the villain moved passed their hiding place without a glance.

“If this is a joke or something,” Kell said, inching closer to the bucket. He flinched back as the solution popped, back still facing them.

Izuku grinned. Mistake number two.

If their positions had been reversed, the moment Izuku had seen the bucket set up at the end of the hall he would have looked for the source. He wouldn’t have walked towards it, wouldn’t have leaned over the bubbling solution. He most definitely wouldn’t have let himself be exposed the way Kell was.

Mei sent Izuku a questioning look, and he nodded, reaching into his bag until his hands found metal. Now was as good of a chance as they were going to get. Slipping back between the racks, Mei disappeared as Izuku stepped silently onto the tiled floor.

“Ridiculous,” Kell complained, kicking at the bucket. It hit the ground with a thud, Mei’s solution spilling out across the floor. Kell cursed, moving back as the liquid hit his shoes. Honestly, he couldn’t have made the situation easier for Izuku if he tried. Whether his carefree attitude towards an obvious trap came from overconfidence or stupidity, Izuku didn’t know. At the moment he didn’t care.

“Hey!” Mei called, her voiced ringing too loud as the fizzing from the solution died out. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous to mess with chemicals like that?” Her voice shook as she spoke, but the determined expression on her face didn’t waver. Izuku moved closer, Kell’s attention now firmly fixed on Mei.

“Don’t you know it’s never a good idea to antagonize villains?” Kell responded. He took a step forward, shoes slick in the cleaner. Mei took a step back. “I’m not sure you really understand the reality of the situation here.”

Izuku hated that Mei had to be the one to get Kell’s attention, but it was better than the alternative. Kell still didn’t look behind him as Izuku quickly closed the distance between them.

“That’s only for real villains,” Mei said. “Without your quirk you’re basically useless. All are you is the get away car, and no one in their right mind is afraid of that.”

“Do you not know who I am?” Kell asked. “Do you not know what I’ve done?”

“I know what your sister has done. But you?” Mei laughed, her goggles flashing. “You only got the attention you did because of your siblings. Without them you wouldn’t be anything special. You’re the reason you got caught in the end right? Maybe if you had better control of your quirk you never would have been arrested.”

Izuku didn’t need to see Kell’s face to know that he was fuming. “And they wouldn’t have been able to do anything at all without me and my quirk!” He argued back.

Mistake number three.

“They wanted big, flashy shows with their quirks, and that comes with risks! Without me they would have been arrested the first time they tried to take over a place like this! Useless without my quirk? I have the most valuable quirk out of the three of us.”

Mei pretended to think about it for a second, pulling on the end of her hair. “Teleporting? More important than that impressive shielding? And those bombs? Please. I knew you weren’t talented, but I didn’t know you were delusional too.”


Izuku had completely closed the distance between them now. That close it was impossible to ignore the similarities between their current situation and his confrontation with Asahi. Too villains caught talking when they should have been taking action. Izuku didn’t have to think about what he needed to do next.

“Hey, asshole,” Izuku said.

Kell turned, stepping away from Mei as Izuku swung, an eskrima rod slamming into his stomach a second before a fist collided with his throat. Kell dropped to the ground, gasping.

Absently, Izuku wondered if this was going to be a trend.

“Nice one, Izuku!” Mei said.

Quickly, Izuku shoved the metal rod back into his bag, swapping it out for a t-shirt he had torn while Mei had done her chemistry genius set-up. Their plan had actually worked. Despite how simple it had been, Izuku had assumed that something would go wrong. It had to. The universe wouldn’t allow anything else. But here they were, Kell still struggling to breathe on the ground between them. All Izuku needed to do was tie him up and they could get out of the way. The police would never need to know they were involved. The Terror Twins would be back in jail. Everything would be fine.

Izuku had almost thirty seconds of hope before the illusion of success shattered with the windows. They blew in with such force that Izuku and Mei were both knocked off their feet and sent sliding into the carpeted floor. Izuku crashed into the wardrobe behind him, his head smashing into the shelving.

Too soon. Just in time.

All Might had arrived, Izuku thought, and the world went black.

The first thing Izuku saw when he came to was a pair of impossibly blue eyes staring at him. He blinked slowly, trying to focus, and when his vision became clear again he almost wished he hadn’t. Because he recognized those blue eyes, that blond hair.

All Might leaned over him, his expression full of concern. “Are you alright, my boy?”

And that-Izuku’s brain ground to a halt before lurching back into full speed. Izuku and Mei had just attacked a villain on their own, and yeah they hadn’t used quirks, but that didn’t make their actions any more legal. Their plan had been to get away before anyone even knew they were there, but of course something had to have gone wrong. Izuku had known that it would. Had it been anyone else standing over them, he wouldn’t have hesitated to make up a story, to spin some lie to get them out of this trouble. Once upon a time he would have been horrified at the thought, but now…

It hadn’t been anyone else though. Izuku couldn’t lie to All Might. There was no hero that Izuku respected and liked more than Aizawa. His place as Izuku’s favorite hero had been cemented for a long, long time, and Izuku knew that wouldn’t be changing. Aizawa had done too much for him, been too important for him to think otherwise. Before he had shown up at Aizawa’s apartment asking for the hero to train him though, the hero Izuku had wanted to be like more than anyone else had been All Might.

That wasn’t something that he could forget so easily.

All Might had been the first person to inspire him. The person that made him want to be a hero in the first place. Izuku never would have gone searching for Aizawa Shouta in the first place if it hadn’t been for the Number One Hero, and that was a debt Izuku felt he would never be able to repay whether All Might knew what he had done for him or not.

“I’m-I’m fine,” Izuku said slowly, his mind on overdrive as he tried to think of an explanation that wouldn’t end with them getting arrested, and Aizawa- Izuku couldn’t let Aizawa be punished for something that he had done no matter the fact that he didn’t regret what they had done. “Mei- My friend. Is she okay?”

Izuku tried to look passed All Might to where he had last seen Mei, but the hero blocked the way.

“Your friend is fine. She’s being checked out by medical. I wanted to make sure you were awake before they tried to move you.” All Might’s words were perfectly normal, but there was something in his expression that Izuku couldn’t place, some emotion that Izuku couldn’t put a name to.

“Thank you,” Izuku said, unsure of what else to say. How were you supposed to respond when you woke up to find your first personal hero standing over you after you?

All Might opened his mouth to speak but stopped, looking over his shoulder. Kell sat handcuffed a short distance behind them. Slowly, All Might looked between Izuku and the villain before raising an eyebrow, the question clear in his eyes.

Izuku froze. He couldn’t lie to All Might, and even if he did he had a feeling the hero would know that he wasn’t telling the truth. But could he really admit to what they had done. All Might had clearly been about to ask him the question out loud before he thought better of it. Did that mean he wasn’t going to get Izuku and Mei in trouble for getting involved?

How did All Might even think to ask that?

Mind reeling, Izuku made a split second decision. Meeting All Might’s eyes, he gave a sharp nod. The hero hadn’t asked about Mei. If he turned them in, Izuku could take the blame himself. Aizawa wouldn’t be happy, but he couldn’t throw his friend under the bus just so that he wouldn’t face the punishment alone.

To his surprise though, All Might said nothing. He simply stared at Izuku for a moment longer before nodding in return.

“All Might!” Another voice said, a police officer appearing over the hero’s shoulder. “Is the kid awake now?”

“He is.” All Might answered, still looking at Izuku as if there was something he wanted to ask but didn’t know how.

The officer gave him a small smile. “My name is Tsukauchi. We need to get you checked out by medical, and I’m sure you want to get home, but I’m afraid I have a few questions I need to ask you first. If that’s alright?”

Izuku glanced between the officer and All Might, but the hero made no move to share what he had learned. “That’s fine.”

“Your name is Midoriya Izuku, correct?”

“That’s right.”

“The rest of this store had been evacuated by one of the employees. What you you and…” He paused glancing at his notepad. “What were you and Hatsume Mei still doing here?”

What would Mei have told them? What was the simplest, most believable story?

“I recognized their voices,” Izuku said. “Before the attack. I like studying hero’s quirks, strategy, things like that. I heard her laugh and I recognized it from their trial. When I realized what was going on I pulled Mei into a closet to hide just to be safe.” That part was true enough, as long as no one thought to check the security cameras from before the feed was cut. “We heard the rest of the store being evacuated, but we didn’t want to move. It seemed safer in a room with a door we could block than in an open hallway.”

Logical excuse. Tsukauchi wrote a quick note on his pad without looking at Izuku.

“We found a bucket and cleaning supplies spilled onto the floor in this hallway. How did that happen?”

That would be harder to explain and was the exact reason they had wanted to be as far away from the scene as they could by the time the police arrived. “We heard someone else moving in the hallway,” Izuku said finally, looking down at his shoes, his hands twisting nervously. Maybe Tsukauchi would see is as nerves from the attack and not from the obvious lie he was about to tell. “He was just outside the door where we were hiding. I don’t know why he was there...but we panicked. I think he heard us moving or something because he opened the door and started to drag us out. We just grabbed whatever we could and started throwing it at him.” That would fit with the open bottles they had left on the floor while Mei had set things up.

“If All Might hadn’t broken those windows when he did, we would have been in a lot of trouble.” Izuku said, making sure to meet Tsukauchi’s blank gaze with a wide eyed look of his own. “It knocked us back, but it made Kell let us go.”

The story wasn’t the best, but Izuku hoped that it was believable enough. The detective had no real reason to think that they had done anything they weren’t supposed to, but if he thought that Izuku was lying…

“Think nothing of it, my boy!” All Might boomed, his voice startling Izuku and Tsukauchi both. “I’m just glad that I was able to get here in time to help! It sounds like you and young Hatsume were very brave.”

All Might...All Might had backed him up? Even when he knew that everything Izuku had just said was a lie? Izuku stared at the hero, eyes wide.

“Now, I believe it’s time we make sure young Midoriya doesn’t have a concussion from that fall and get him home. If that’s everything, Tsukauchi-san?”

“That’s all for now,” Tsukauchi answered, flipping his notebook closed. “If we have any more questions we’ll get in touch, but that should be everything.”

“Right this way, Midoriya,” All Might said, placing a hand on Izuku’s shoulder to lead him away. “I’m sure your friend is worried sick over you.”

All Might escorted him to the medical tent that had been set up outside the mall and then disappeared after shooting Izuku one last questioning look, his hand squeezing his shoulder for a moment before letting go. Izuku tried to watch as he made his way through the crowd but was distracted as Mei slammed into him, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug.

“They bought the story, Izuku! I can’t believe they bought it! We did it!” Her smile was infectious. Izuku couldn’t help but smile back.

“We really did it.”

After that, things moved quickly. Once Izuku had also been cleared by medical- no concussion, Aizawa would have killed him- they were ushered into separate cars Tsukauchi had designated to take them home. Without Kell to teleport them away all three of the villains had been captured, and the police were eager to get two unaccompanied minors away from the scene.

“I’ll come by tomorrow if Aizawa-san hasn’t killed you by then,” Mei said, giving him one last hug.

“Same to you.”

The car ride was short and silent. The officer assigned to drive him home made no attempt at small talk, and for that Izuku was grateful. The weight of what they had been through and done was finally hitting him, and all he wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep for at least ten hours. The cop let him outside his apartment building, and Izuku trudged up the stairs cursing the fact that their building didn’t have an elevator.

He would have to explain to his mother what had happened eventually, but maybe he would be able to rest a little bit first. Or drink a cup of coffee at the least. Something to recover from the burnout he was feeling at the moment.

Swinging open their front door Izuku called, “Mom! I’m home!” It was another second before he finally had his shoes off, and when he looked up Inko stood with her hands on her hips, her expression firm, Aizawa and Hizashi flanking her on either side.

“A villain attack at the mall!” Inko said, and for once she didn’t rush to hug him immediately, her eyes flicking as she looked him up and down. No doubt checking for injuries.

“It wasn’t my fault.” Izuku hurried to explain. “There were hostages. Mei and I had to do something.

“What did you do?” Inko asked, her voice rising and oops. All Might had been the only one to know the full extent of his contact with Kell. Of course the cop that called wouldn’t have said anything about it. Izuku could have phrased his explanation a little better.

“One week, Midoriya. I wasn’t even gone a whole week.”

He was going to have a lot of explaining to do, and this time All Might wouldn’t be there to back him up.

Chapter Text

When Kurogiri walked into his bar the morning after the Terror Twin’s second arrest he found a TV pushed against the back wall. Pausing just inside the doorway, he stared at it as he tried to decide whether it would be worth it to use his quirk and simply make the offending piece of tech disappear, a knot already forming in the pit of his stomach. Kurogiri did not, to the best of his knowledge, own a television, and if one had appeared in his bar in the quiet of the night without setting off any his alarms there could only be one person responsible.

The sound of tapping drew Kurogiri’s attention away from the wall to where Shigaraki Tomura sat facing the blank screen, fingers seconds away from turning the wooden table he had propped himself up on into dust.

Kurogiri said nothing as he moved slowly into the room. The short duration of their acquaintance had been enough for him to know that the villain would not be reacting well to the capture of his test subjects, despite how second rate he had believed them to be. Shigaraki’s challenge had been simple enough. All Kurogiri had to do was use his quirk to break a few villains out of prison and release them into the public. Show him and the mysterious Sensei that his quirk could be useful and the outright threats that had been made against both him and his home would end. Kurogiri would officially be welcomed into theirs plans.

Shigaraki seemed to forget that it had been him that initiated their contact, not Kurogiri, but Kurogiri felt no need to remind him of that fact when the stability of his moods had yet to be determined. Unable to do anything but what he had been asked, Kurogiri had spent a night researching which villains would be best. Who would gain the attention his murderous guest seemed to crave without causing too much collateral damage. While Kurogiri didn’t care too much about what would happen after his role in the escape had ended, it wouldn’t do well to give the police extra incentive to track down the cause of the breakout by letting one of the more violent villains free.

The Terror Twins had been the perfect solution. As horrible as they were, their attacks had rarely ever ended in death. Psychological trauma? Absolutely. But that, in Kurogiri’s opinion, was inevitable no matter who he used his quirk to give a second chance at mayhem to, and the Terror Twins had been a lot better than most of the villains Shigaraki had suggested with his twisted, cracking smile.

“You should have failed the test.”

Kurogiri stopped, making sure that he was out of the villains reach, the black fog swirling around him ready to divert Shigaraki’s touch at a moment’s notice.

“You said the test was to get a villain out of prison without them getting caught. I let out three. That should more than satisfy the objective.”

“They were captured,” Shigaraki said simply.

Kurogiri waited for him to continue, but the villain continued to stare at the blank screen, fingers drumming against the wood.

“What happened to them after they were released is none of my concern. I got them out of prison and in a position to fall back into their old habits. If you wanted them to make a clean getaway, you should have specified. Given that they were second rate villains at best, I didn’t see the need in drawing more attention to myself and my quirk by rescuing them from their own mistakes.”

Shigaraki hummed, his hair falling into his face. If Kurogiri didn’t know better, he would think the other man was pouting. “You asked about Sensei. Before.” His voice came out with a whine. “He wants to talk.”

Nothing good could come from this, but Kurogiri nodded-partly because he still had no control over the situation, partly to satisfy his own curiosity. The TV fizzled to life at the motion, the black screen shifting to grey snow as it crackled with static.

“Hello, Kurogiri,” a voice said slick as oil despite the interference. There was a rasp to the sound, something off about the way his breathing hissed over the shakey connection. These villains seemed to know what they were doing. They wouldn’t use a method like this, so unstable and low tech, without a reason. A bad signal to cover up Sensei’s voice or his illness? Because that was what that problem with his breathing had to be. Kurogiri had heard people talk on oxygen before. He recognized the whir of the machines, distorted as they were. Those didn’t come from a small, short term accident. Kurogiri knew two things at once and neither of them were good for him.

One-despite serious injuries, Sensei was still alive. That meant that he had the resources to not only avoid being caught after whatever incident led to his condition, but he also had the means to see to his treatment without dealing with a hospital. Hospitals mean questions, records, police. All things a villain would want to avoid at all costs.

Two-these injuries had not prevented him from leading whatever organization or movement Shigaraki had seemed to fixed on getting Kurogiri to join. Either Sensei had no one smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity provided by his injuries (in which case Kurogiri might as well march to jail himself because that would be the end result of this fiasco either way) or they were too afraid of him to try.

What kind of person could this Sensei be?
“We haven’t met yet, Kurogiri, and we won’t.” The voice continued, drawing him out of his thoughts. “But I know all about you. Your quirk is useful, and I want to add it to my collection. So I have a proposition for you that I think you might find appealing. Help Shigaraki with his plans, work with the League, and I can have Yamamoto Kaito delivered to you the moment All Might is dead.”

Kurogiri could see Shigaraki’s twisted grin from where he had turned in his seat to watch. He knew that this Sensei, whoever he really was, had to be watching his reaction somehow. But there was nothing he could do to keep from flinching back at the sound of that name.

They really had done their research on him it seemed.

“You have him?” Kurogiri asked, looking at the screen as it fizzled. He shouldn’t even be entertaining this idea. Working with this League, trying to kill All Might. The only person likely to die from this attempt was him, and Kurogiri honestly didn’t have the time for that at the moment. Nothing good could come from continuing to host Shigaraki, from working with this villain. Kurogiri was too pragmatic to want to share in the spotlight that their actions would inevitably fall under, and he had no desire to see the Symbol of Peace dead. But Yamamoto...If helping Shigaraki meant having Yamamoto gift wrapped and hand delivered… That villain was the only reason Kurogiri had stuck around this town as long as he had.

Sensei had to have known that. Kurogiri wasn’t enough of an idiot to not realize he was being manipulated. And there was something about the way that the mysterious villain had said ‘collection’ that made him nervous. If he wasn’t going to have a choice in the matter he might was well get something out of it.

“Alright,” Kurogiri said, and the words felt like a puzzle piece latching into place. “I’m listening.”

To say that his family had not been please by his most recent run in with danger would be an understatement.

Getting kidnapped? That hadn’t been Izuku’s fault. And the test? While Aizawa had pointed out a few places where Izuku hadn’t been as concerned for his safety as he should have, the overall danger hadn’t been something he could help. But this? Izuku and Mei could have stayed out of the way and let the professionals handle the situation. They hadn’t been in immediate danger. They had, in fact, searched that danger out themselves.

His mother, Aizawa, and Hizashi had made sure he knew why every single one of his decisions at the mall put both him and Mei at an unnecessary risk. Nothing Izuku said would change their minds.

“It’s not that we don’t think that you are capable of helping, Midoriya,” Aizawa had said. “Hizashi and I both know better than most just what you are capable of. But you were outnumbered, without your gear, without weapons. You may be trained to fight under those circumstances, but Hatsume isn’t. She could have gotten hurt or you could have gotten hurt trying to protect her.”

“Think about what could have gone wrong,” Hizashi continued. “You had a sound plan, but you had no back up. No chance to call for any help.”

“Your biggest strength is your ability to read a situation, but you can’t act as if what you’ve inferred is fact. You had no idea if they would respond to your distraction the way you wanted, and you had no plan in place for if they didn’t. You and Hatsume could have been killed. You could have gotten the hostages killed.

“What were we supposed to do?” Izuku had asked. “Let them-”

“Yes.” Aizawa interrupted, his voice a quiet lightning strike. “That’s exactly what you were supposed to do. You are a student, Midoriya. You are still learning. Or are as arrogant as those students I expelled last year? Do you think there isn’t anything else for you to learn?”

Izuku had seen that expression on his mentor’s face before-eyes blazing, mouth drawn in a tight line- but it had never been directed at him. He stared at Aizawa, eyes wide, as the hero continued.

“I have told you from the beginning, Izuku, that you have potential. That I am not going anywhere. But if you continue to put yourself in danger like this then I will not be able to continue your training. You’re lucky that nothing bad happened here. You may not be so lucky next time. I do not put my students in situations they aren’t prepared for, and part of that is making sure they have a fully functioning sense of self preservation. If you are unable to show enough self control to manage not throwing yourself into life threatening situations, then I have failed as your teacher.”

Izuku would have taken a step back at Aizawa’s tone if the tight grip of his mother’s hug hadn’t kept him firmly in place.

“You cannot do this again,” Aizawa said. “I understand that this is the first time you’ve been in a situation like this since we started, but you know the rules. Until you have your provisional license, you are not to get involved in villain attacks where it can be helped.”

Aizawa took a step forward, and Inko reluctantly let go of her hold on Izuku so that Aizawa could pull him closer, hands gripping his shoulders as he made sure Izuku looked at him as he spoke. “I will not see you get hurt because of this. We will not be having this conversation a third time. Sometimes the circumstances are outside of your control, but you do not go looking for danger. Not again.” And then Aizawa pulled Izuku into a hug almost as tight as his mother’s.

Anything else Izuku had planned to say in his defense withered and disappeared as Aizawa continued. “Do you know how worried I was when you called me and I couldn’t call you back? How worried your mother was when I had to call her to ask where you were?”

“I’m sorry,” was all Izuku could think to say around the lump growing in his throat. He was only surprised that it had taken this long for him to start crying. “I am so sorry.”

“So don’t do it again.”

After that, not much had changed. Aizawa had backed off their physical training for the next week, much to Izuku’s dislike. Instead, his mentor made him review case after case where civilians had gotten involved in villain fights and made the situation worse, picking apart where each and every one of them had made their mistakes. The smug look on Aizawa’s face really drove his point home, although Izuku refused to forget the emotion the usually stoic hero.

The grounding that followed the incident had been extended to a month when Detective Tsukauchi stopped by the next day to personally check in with Izuku and mentioned the fact that he had been briefly knocked unconscious by All Might’s blast. The detective had watched him silently over his mug of tea as Izuku reluctantly repeated the story that he and Mei had fabricated, making sure to add a few details that he hadn’t before. The way he had felt when Kell had stood in front of them, eyes blazing. His fear that Mei had been hurt in the blast. Bits of truth mixed in with the lies so that his story didn’t sound like an exact retelling of what he had said the day before.

Tsukauchi’s face still had that same unreadable expression as Izuku talked, but he didn’t ask any more questions, and he didn’t accuse Izuku of lying which made his breathing a little easier.

One month flew by and the end of his grounding came with an increase of his training once again. Aizawa, in an even greater show of frustration than the year before, had expelled his entire class, leaving him much more free time than before. The next month passed in a haze of school, training, and meetings with Mei. (Her mother had actually been proud of her creativity under pressure. Mei had not been punished for her part in the distraction.)

Two months since the attack on the mall and everything had fallen back into the patterns of the last year. Until Izuku glanced at his calendar and realized that the demonstrations had snuck up on him much faster than he had thought. He should have had more time. He definitely should have had more time, but the calendar didn’t lie. The meeting with the other recommendation students had arrived.

The morning of the meeting, Izuku paced back and forth their small apartment, waiting for Aizawa to arrive. The hero had taken one look at how nervous his student was the day before and decided that he would take the train with Izuku to the school instead of meeting outside the gate like they had originally planned. Izuku couldn’t express in words how relieved he had been that he hadn’t had to ask, but he thought Aizawa had gotten the message from the way he had immediately teared up at the suggestion.

There was a knock at the door, the sound of the lock turning. Izuku whirled, stopping mid step as Aizawa stepped into the apartment. He took one look at what Izuku wore, the corner of his mouth twitching, and said, “Your mother is a menace, Midoriya.”

Inko had wished her son luck and made herself scarce before Aizawa arrived. Probably because of this exact reaction. A present had been waiting for Izuku when he woke up that morning, and once he saw it he knew his mother wouldn’t want to be there to be called out on it. Izuku had just been planning on wearing one of his old tracksuits to the demonstration but his mother’s gift was so much better. Simple, but not subtle at all, the new tracksuit had been black, two thin yellow lines running down the legs and circling his wrists. Izuku wouldn’t be taking his belt or any of his supplies with him to the meeting, but he could imagine what the completed picture would have looked like.

From the look on Aizawa’s face, it seemed the purpose of Inko’s gift hadn’t been missed. Izuku knew he should have been embarrassed, knowing that the other recommendation students would see him dressed in an imitation of his mentor’s usual outfit, but he refused to be shamed. Aizawa was his hero, and although they weren’t planning on telling the rest of the students once classes started there would be no hiding their connection from the other recommendation students. Let them see who his sponsor was and think twice about underestimating him.

Aizawa sighed, but he didn’t ask Izuku to change. He counted that as a win.

In the end it was a good think that Aizawa decided to escort Izuku to Yuuei’s campus. The moment they stepped onto the train, Izuku started running through what he knew about the other students he would be meeting today. He wouldn’t have to fight them-today at least- but he wouldn’t put it passed Nedzu to have some added twist to the meeting. The principal seemed to take great joy in throwing the people around him off balance. Izuku wanted to be as prepared as he could be.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa said, bringing Izuku back to his surroundings. “The stop.”

In a daze, Izuku let himself be led from the station to the school. The buildings towered over him, the gates just as intimidating as they had been when he first entered Yuuei’s campus over a year ago. Unlike that first time though, and every time he had been there since, he didn’t allow himself the time to appreciate the sight. A test. This had to be a test.

The slots had been all but finalized. The demonstration was the last part of the process. They were just supposed to explain their quirks, show them off a little. That was it. A justification for why these students had been selected for a spot. But Nedzu could never let them do something that simple, right? The previous test had had so many layers. One test for Izuku, another for the first years, evidence for the board… Everything the principal did had a purpose. What could he be hiding with this?

When Izuku’s steps slowed, Aizawa grabbed onto his sleeve, tugging him towards the room where they would be meeting the other students and their sponsors. They stopped outside the door, Izuku taking a long, shaking breath. Through the window he could see the other students.

Two girls stood against the opposite wall, their hair pulled up in high, matching ponytails. Yaoyorozu Momo’s mother, her face drawn in a pinched expression, stood behind her daughter with a hand placed firmly on her shoulder. From the look on Yaoyorozu’s face, she didn’t seem to appreciate the constant reminder of her mother’s presence, but she carried on the conversation anyway.

Kendo Itsuka nodded along with whatever Yaoyorozu said. Izuku could see her sponsor, her uncle who went by the hero name Brick Force, standing close by talking to who could only be Honenuki Juzo and his sponsor, Jet Stream. Izuku would recognize that skull like appearance anywhere.

Endeavor stood as far away from the other sponsors and students as possible, arms crossed as the flames on his face flickered. His son was nowhere to be seen. Izuku had followed Endeavor’s career when he was younger, curious about the man who had openly challenged All Might’s position as the Number One Hero. As he had gotten older though, the interest had faded. The flames on his face weren’t a side effect of his quirk, Izuku had learned, but something the man did as a constant show of power. Izuku had seen people like that before. People who felt they needed to demonstrate their strength as a continual reminder that they were not to be messed with.

Izuku didn’t know what Todoroki Enji was compensating for, but it must have been fairly significant if he needed to wear a reminder of it on his face for the world to see. Bakugou’s childish tantrums were nothing in comparison to the storm Endeavor always seemed on the edge of flying into. Maybe, if he hadn’t been on the verge of a panic attack, he would have laughed.
“Midoriya,” Aizawa said. “Look at me.”

Izuku forced his eyes away from the window-from the people he was about to stand in front of and announce that he was quirkless, the people who would no doubt be wondering what Nedzu had been thinking when he invited him there- and watched as Aizawa moved to block the window.

“Take a breath, Midoriya.” The hero waited until Izuku had done so before saying, “And again.”

“They aren’t going to understand,” Izuku said finally, when he managed to regain his voice. “They’re going to show off their quirks, and I’m going to just stand there and do nothing.”

“Not nothing,” Aizawa corrected. “Maybe they aren’t going to understand, not now, but that’s their problem. Not yours. All you have to do it say what we talked about. Anyone who has a problem with that can talk to me.”

He would never know what he did to deserve a mentor like Aizawa Shouta, but Izuku had never been more grateful than in that moment. Because he knew how this was going to go. The school and the people might have changed, but everyone always had the same reaction when they found out he was quirkless. The same pity, the same look of borderline delight at the opportunity to offer their condolences. Izuku wouldn’t put it passed any of the sponsors to use his safety as an excuse to ridicule him.

Izuku should have been used to it, but the thought made his breath slip away from him again. Over a year ago Izuku had told Aizawa that he didn’t let his quirklessness define him, and here he was losing his composure over having to talk in front of eight people.

“Hizashi wanted to speak with you before the demonstration, but he’s not allowed in the room since he’s not a sponsor.” Aizawa said. “He asked if you would meet him in his office. We won’t be starting for another half hour. Take this chance to breathe. I’ve got some paperwork to finish for this, but I’ll be waiting here for you when you get back. Okay?”

Izuku could only nod, his heartbeat pounding in his temple. Hizashi. He could find Hizashi.

“It’ll be alright, Midoriya,” Aizawa said, opening the door. “Now. Hurry on.”

Hizashi. Izuku could find Hizashi. Aizawa’s words of comfort were always appreciated, but what Izuku needed right now was a distraction. Hizashi would be more than pleased to provide one.

The visits to Yuuei’s campus had been few and far between, but it had been enough to memorize the location of both Aizawa and Hizashi’s offices. It wasn’t that far from the room the demonstrations were set to take place in, and he walked as slowly as he dared with the time constraint, still in a daze. He needed to concentrate, needed to get his head back on straight. He was Midoriya Izuku, hero in training, and he would not let a few pros and their students intimidate him. He had been training almost a year and a half for this and he would not-

Izuku saw stars as he slammed into something the moment he turned the corner, and he threw a hand out to catch himself as he landed on the hard, tiled floor. Pain raced up his arm, and Izuku couldn’t hold back his wince. From the sound of it, whoever he had run into had found themselves just as off balance as he had.

“I’m so sorry,” Izuku rushed to say, lifting his other hand to touch where their heads had collided. “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was-” The words stuttered to a halt when his vision cleared and he saw who was sitting in front of him. The red and white hair was unmistakable.

Izuku had run straight into Todoroki Shouto.

Chapter Text

Izuku had gained a lot of experience calming himself down from near panic attacks over the years. The moment his anxiety first reared its ugly head his mother had sat him down and calmly explained the methods that she had used to to keep her own anxiety under control. Or as close to under control as possible. And they had worked for Izuku too, for the most part. Focusing on his surroundings, on his breathing. His system wasn’t perfect, but at least he had a system.

None of these methods, however, factored in a situation as extreme as Izuku running head first into Todoroki Shouto.

He had never met Todoroki in person before, but he had heard plenty about him. Speculation about new up and coming heroes at Yuuei usually held off until the sports festival when they whole country could see the students in action, but rumors about Endeavor’s son had been spreading for years. No one knew exactly how the younger Todoroki’s quirk worked, and Endeavor had been particularly tight tipped about the specifics which only led to more speculation.

For his part, Todoroki looked just as dazed from the collision as Izuku felt, which gave him a few extra seconds to assess the situation. If Todoroki’s hair wasn’t enough of a recognizable feature, the scowl his fellow recommendation student had aimed at the ground would have been. It matched the unapproachable impression Izuku had gotten from the photo that had been included in the light file Aizawa had given him before the meeting.

According to his mentor, similar documents had been given to the other recommendation students so they would know who they would be meeting, but no personal information had been included in the file other than the name of their quirk and their sponsor. Even Aizawa hadn’t budged on that condition considering they were going to be classmates in just a few short months. If Izuku was going to make a profile on these students he was going to have to do it all from scratch. There was no better time to start than now.

Quickly, he glanced at Todoroki’s face. Physical features weren’t always indicative of a quirks nature, not when they didn’t manifest as actual physical changes, but they still sometimes lent an insight into the basic nature of a quirk. Aizawa’s eyes, for example, were always the first thing people tended to notice about him once they got passed the scowl, whether they knew about his quirk or not. And for Todoroki...Red and White. Fire and ice. Once he became a pro there would be no forgetting him or his quirk, even without his relation to Endeavor. His look was too much like those old characters Izuku and Mei loved to read.

And his heterochromia...a natural side effect of the dual nature of his quirk or a consequence of whatever event had given him that scar? It was possible for quirks to have negative side effects. Everyone knew that. Had Todoroki injured himself when his quirk manifested or had it been an unrelated incident? Maybe that meant that he wasn’t immune to his own fire. It could be a problem, if that was the case, but there would be plenty of ways to get around that. What about the ice? With all of the rumors and speculation that had spread no one seemed to consider how two conflicting elements would affect him. Was he constantly having to think about keeping them balanced or was it like breathing by this point? There were so many things Izuku wanted to asked and-

“Midoriya Izuku,” a flat voice said, and Izuku jumped realizing that he was still sitting on the ground, staring at Todoroki. Hastily, he pushed himself to his feet again. At least he hadn’t been rambling out loud. For once.

“I’m sorry! I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going,” Izuku said and...wait...Todoroki’s words registered slowly. “You know my name?”

Todoroki’s stare was as bland as his tone. “The files they gave us had photos.” Right. Right. Izuku had just been thinking about that. The fact that the other recommendation students might have wanted information about Izuku himself hadn’t occurred to him though. “Your file didn’t have a quirk listed.”

“No. It didn’t.” Because what else could Izuku say about his quirk that wasn’t already in the carefully planned speech he and Aizawa had put together? Better to avoid the subject entirely. “Um...I really am sorry. For the collision. Not my quirk not being in the folder. Can’t do anything about that.” Izuku winced as he waved with his injured hand. “I didn’t hurt you, did I? Recovery Girl should be in her office! I can show you where it is?”

Blinking slowly like that, Todoroki almost like a cat. Izuku had spent enough time around them recently to recognize that expression of dull confusion. But what had Izuku said to confuse him? “Oh! Recovery Girl is the school nurse! She tends to stay around her office even when classes aren’t in just in case any of the pros who work here need her help.”

“I’m not injured.”

That was good at least. Izuku couldn’t imagine what Aizawa would say if he had managed to injure not only himself but another student before classes even started. But Todoroki was still watching him, waiting for something. What had Todoroki been doing out here anyway? Endeavor was already back in the room. Izuku had separated from Aizawa to see Hizashi, but it was common knowledge that Endeavor preferred to work alone whenever possible. Izuku doubted he had any connections to pros at Yuuei close enough for Todoroki to want to visit.

“Well, um…” Izuku had forgotten how hard it was to talk to people who weren’t Mei. “I have to go see someone before the meeting starts so I’ll just…” Izuku shrugged, stepping lightly around Todoroki. “I’ll see you later?”

Todoroki didn’t speak, but he gave him a short nod. Izuku nodded back before disappearing around the corner, leaving Todoroki standing in the hallway by himself. Was that what normal interactions were like? Izuku still had nothing to make a true comparison to. He had long learned not to judge interactions to the same standard as Bakugou and he couldn’t exactly call his interactions with Mei normal. Whatever the case, he would have to worry about it later.

Run in with Todoroki Shouto aside, the walk from the meeting room to Hizashi’s room wasn’t long. A few quick turns down a couple of hallways and Izuku found himself standing outside the closed office, the door swinging open before Izuku even had the chance to knock. Hizashi stood in the doorway, smiling. “Izuku! Come on in! I know we don’t have a lot of time.”

One of the strangest parts of growing closer Hizashi over the last year and a half had been separating “Present Mic” from “Yamada Hizashi.” The difference in appearance between Aizawa and Eraserhead had just been an exchange of one indistinguishable black outfit to another. Present Mic though… Everything about Present Mic was loud- his clothes, his hair, his voice even when he wasn’t using his quirk. After spending so much time around Aizawa, Izuku had expected Hizashi to be the same. Of course, that hadn’t been the case.

Hizashi was still loud, still had an infectious personality that seemed to draw everyone into his good moods. But he as softer somehow, the excitement more genuine than the rigid, almost put on airs that he acted with as Present Mic-Pro Hero, Radio Host, English Teacher Extraordinaire. Nothing he did or said as Present Mic was fake, Izuku knew that, but he also knew that he had been granted the chance to see Hizashi for who he was away from his identity as a pro hero of celebrity level fame.

Because Hizashi seemed to keep his hero persona and his personal life separated to some degree Izuku did too. Which was why the sight of Hizashi in casual clothes made Izuku pause for a moment before he followed him into the office. Hizashi never showed up to the apartment in his hero gear, although he usually had it with him in case of an emergency, and the few times Izuku had been to Yuuei he had never seen him wearing anything other than his uniform. Now though he greeted him in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, his hair pulled into a messy bun on top of his head, peering down at him over edge of his glasses.

Izuku instantly felt some of the tension relax.

“I won’t keep you long. I know you have to get back before it all starts, but I just wanted to talk to you beforehand.” Hizashi took a seat, pulling his rolling chair closer as Izuku sat. “I tried to get Nedzu to let me into the room too, but it said it would be showing ‘favoritism’ and giving ‘special privileges.’ “ Hizashi rolled his eyes as he made air quotes. “I mean I’m basically your second sponsor, but Nedzu wouldn’t budge. It’s not my fault Shouta found you first.”
Izuku wisely didn’t point out that he was the one who found Aizawa as Hizashi huffed.

“Nedzu’s unfair tendencies aside, I have a present for you!”

That had not been what Izuku had expected. A good luck, some advice on how to talk in front of so many strangers. Maybe a funny story about Aizawa to distract him. Not a present.

“You didn’t have to get me anything.”

“Well. I know all about the plan you and Shouta have about keeping your connection with him secret, which also means you’re going to have to pretend like you don’t know me either. I understand why- you want to be judged for your own skills. I’ll stick with the plan until everyone figures it out, but I thought you might need a little reminder that there are people here who have your back.” Hizashi leaned over to ruffle Izuku’s hair, and Izuku ducked fighting back a smile. “It’s nothing much, so don’t get too excited but…”

Hizashi reached into his desk, riffling through the drawer for a moment before pulling out a thin chain, two charms dangling at the end. He passed it over so that Izuku could get a closer look.

“Is that a cat with goggles?” Izuku asked, not able to hold back his laugh this time. He doubted Aizawa had known about this part of their conversation because he never would have approved of the representation.

Hizashi’s grin was blinding as he pushed his glasses back. “I had to have that one special ordered. Luckily Natsumi-san was willing to help me out. The microphone was much easier to be found, surprisingly. The chain should be long enough for you to tuck under your uniform. Wouldn’t want anyone seeing it and putting it all together, but just because we all have to act like we’re strangers doesn’t mean that anything is really going to change. I just wanted to make sure you knew that, and now was as good a time as any.”

Izuku jumped from his chair, tackling Hizashi in a hug, the charms tight in his hand. The chair rolled back as Hizashi laughed. “I take it you like it then?”

“It’s the best! Thank you!”

“Don’t mention it! Literally! Shouta would kill me if he saw that charm!”

Izuku made it back to the demonstration room with just a few minutes to spare. Aizawa stood alone against the far wall, and Izuku made a beeline for him without sparing a glance towards the other students and their mentors. The groups that had been talking when Izuku glimpsed into the room earlier had broken up, each student talking quietly with their mentors.

The metal of Hizashi’s present was cool against his skin, and Izuku almost reached up to touch it. Aizawa would have noticed the movement immediately though and wondered what Izuku was messing with. There was no way Aizawa wouldn’t eventually find out about the charm, but Izuku would be glad to push that conversation off for as long as possible.

“Gather round, everyone!” Nedzu said, stepping into the large open space in the middle of the room. “There aren’t enough people in here for us to be this far apart. You all are going to be classmates for the next three years. Now’s the time to start getting to know each other.”

Aizawa placed a hand on Izuku’s shoulder, leading him closer to the group but still a ways away from the others. “It’ll be okay, Midoriya,” he whispered before dropping his hand. Izuku shot him a small smile.

“Just to be clear once again,” Nedzu continued once everyone had done as he asked. “This is simply a demonstration. There will be no more test until the new year at Yuuei begins. You have all earned the spot that you have been given here. Relax and enjoy this opportunity to share your reasons for being here with your fellow recommendation students. Now, when I call your name I would like you to step up and show us your quirk. Tell us the reason you’ve been accepted to Yuuei. We’ll be going in the order that I received your completed paperwork. First up is Todoroki Shouto.”

There were no encouraging words from Endeavor to his son. Todoroki’s face remained just as blank as it had been when Izuku had talked to him in the hallway. He stepped into the center of the room, back facing the empty wall, and glanced quickly around the waiting students.

“My quirk,” he started, his voice somehow even flatter than it had been before, “allows me to control ice with my right side and fire with my left side.”

He said it plainly as if he were simply discussing the weather, but all the questions that Izuku had before doubled the moment he finished speaking. He wished that he had been allowed to take notes, because he could already think of so many ways that Todoroki’s quirk could be beneficial for hero work. And a couple of the possible side effects as well. Todoroki hadn’t been too friendly when they had spoken earlier, but maybe that had just been nerves. Not every reacted to stress in the same ways, after all. Maybe once classes started he would be willing to let Izuku run some things by him. He could analyze quirks without talking to the person, had done that with Aizawa’s students for the last two years, but getting a first hand account was always helpful when possible.

Todoroki had already started walking back to Endeavor’s side when Nedzu called out, “Isn’t there anything else you’d like to share, Todoroki-san? I know that this is essentially a formality, but…”

“Sharing anymore information about my quirk is unnecessary,” Todoroki said, looking back. “The fact that I have been offered a recommendation spot speaks for itself about both my quirk and my goals.”

Nedzu didn’t look pleased by Todoroki’s response, but he didn’t argue. “Well then, next we have Yaoyorozu Momo.”

The rest of the students must have taken Nedzu’s words to heart because their descriptions of their quirk were much more involved than Todoroki’s short declaration. Yaoyorozu stepped up as soon as Todoroki cleared the space and immediately launched into a more detailed explanation of how her quirk allowed her to create almost any object as long as she knew its chemical composition. After a brief glance at her mother for confirmation, Yaoyorozu produced a small replica of Yuuei’s main building.

After Yaoyorozu went Honenuki Juzo who demonstrated his quirk to manipulate matter by partially melting a spare chair. Then Kendo Itsuka who described that different ways her transformation quirk could be used for hero work. Izuku should have realized before that he would be the last one to go. Of course he would have been the last one to turn in all the paperwork. All of the usual spots had already been filled when Nedzu offered him his chance.

Watching the other four recommendation students though… Izuku had known on some level that all of their quirks had to be amazing. The kinds of quirks that were geared almost specifically for hero work. Hearing them talk though, seeing their quirks first hand, Izuku realized just what he would have to be following. He knew he belonged there. He earned his spot just like all the others. Aizawa believed in him. Hizashi believed in him. Even Nedzu had put some level of trust in the fact that Izuku wouldn’t let him down.

Izuku had dealt with people criticizing him because he was quirkless since he was five years old. Doing this though? Stepping into that space and announcing that he thought he was on the same level as the rest of the recommendation students? Yuuei was the best hero program in the country. Their sports festival was more anticipated than the Olympics. Izuku would be inviting criticism and commentary from the entire country once his admittance was announced.

But he had wanted this for as long as he could remember. He had trained for this. He deserved it as much as any of the other recommendation students. So Izuku took a deep breath and stepped into the circle when Nedzu called his name.

“You might have notice that my file did not include my quirk,” Izuku said, glancing around the room before meeting Aizawa’s eyes. Aizawa nodded, and Izuku took another shaking break before he continued. “There was a reason I had no quirk listed. I don’t have one.”

No one spoke, no one made to interrupt him, but Izuku could feel the way the room shifted at his words. Endeavor might as well have activated his full quirk for the anger radiating from him. Izuku pushed on without a glance in his direction. He and Aizawa had planned for this. All he needed to do was keep talking as long as he could.

“I may not have a quirk, but I’ve followed cases with pro heroes for years, working on learning how to analyze situations, pick apart people’s quirks. For the last year and a half I’ve been working with Aizawa on how to fight without a quirk. I’ve also been working with an inventor on support items that will work specifically for my situation. Every quirk has downsides. Weaknesses. I know how to find them and take advantage of them. I know-”

“Nedzu. This has to be a joke.” Endeavor’s voice cut clear through Izuku’s words. Well. He has lasted longer than they had expected.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Nedzu said, but he moved to stand at Izuku’s side.

“When I heard that there would be a fifth recommendation student added I thought they had to have some exceptional quirk to make Yuuei change their policy. And you’re telling me this kid doesn’t even have a quirk? I thought Yuuei wanted to maintain its place as the most prestigious hero academy.”

“Yuuei is and will continue to be the highest ranked academy,” Nedzu said firmly. “Midoriya Izuku’s abilities have been judged to the same degree as everyone else admitted through recommendations.”

“What abilities?” Endeavor said, the flames around his face flickering. Todoroki took a step aside as his father moved forward. “Being a hero fanboy doesn’t qualify him for a competitive program. It’s impossible for him to be a hero without a quirk. If this is the level that Yuuei is sinking to-”

“Todoroki Enji!” Nedzu interrupted, and from the look on Endeavor’s face he did not appreciate the use of his actual name. “While your concern for the program is admirable, I can assure you that the integrity of our school is our highest concern second only to the safety of our students. I have seen Midoriya-san’s abilities firsthand, and the entire board of directors authorized the creation of this addition recommendation spot. But if you think you are in a better position to judge the skills of a student you’ve only just met then you are, of course, always welcome to reject young Todoroki’s position here.”

As Endeavor seethed at Nedzu’s response, Izuku’s attention wandered back to where Todoroki stood, watching as his father’s flames grew more unsteady. Besides the small step out of Endeavor’s way, Todoroki hadn’t visibly reacted to his father’s words or Nedzu’s suggestion to withdraw, but Izuku could tell that he didn’t want Endeavor to agree. He stood stiff at Endeavor’s side watching the argument progress, tension growing in his shoulders with every word.

“This is a joke!” Endeavor repeated.

“This is a demonstration,” Aizawa said. “And Midoriya has already proven himself. Unless every other student here is going to have their abilities questioned in this same manner then I suggest you accept that you have no say in the situation. Midoriya’s admittance has no effect on your son’s acceptance to this school. I am his sponsor, and I say that he has what it takes to be a pro hero. Because he doesn’t have a quirk and not in spite of it.”

Izuku looked away from Todoroki to see Endeavor glaring at Aizawa over Izuku’s shoulder.

“Todoroki-san,” Izuku said, and took grim satisfaction in the way that Endeavor’s glare immediately shifted to him. His fire sparked in a sharp burst. “I mean no offense, but I am not here to prove myself to you. There are many people working as pro heroes currently who have quirks that can only be used in specific circumstances. They aren’t considered any less of a hero when those circumstances cannot be met, and they do whatever they can to help without the use of their quirk. There is no difference between that and what I am doing.”

Izuku turned back to address the rest of the room. “I won’t deny being a fan of pro heroes. They are people that have inspired me, and I’m not the only one who looks up to them. So that’s not a reason to say I’m not qualified. As for having no quirk, as I was explaining before my biggest strength is my ability to read a situation. Aizawa-sensei has been working with me to improve my ability to understand quirks as well as teaching me several different styles of self defense. His training, with the support items I have been working to incorporate, will give me the same chance as everyone else here.”

Endeavor looked as though he would argue again, but Izuku could feel the cool metal of Hizashi's present against his skin and pushed on. “I’m not saying that my system is perfect yet. But that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? To learn. To train. We’ve all been given a chance. I’m not planning on letting mine go to waste.”

Chapter Text

After everything was said and done Izuku would argue that none of it had been his fault. For once. Aizawa would even have to agree with him. The blame for this particular incident-and all of the consequences that followed- rested with one person and one person only.

With the demonstrations over his training with Aizawa didn’t slow down, but Izuku felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. No one had spoken at the end of his speech. He didn’t know what he would have done if they had. When Endeavor had stepped up Izuku had been furious. Aizawa had warned him beforehand that the hero would be his biggest problem. The others, they would be skeptical but they wouldn’t openly argue with Nedzu. They would wait until they were alone with their students to complain about the ridiculousness of Nedzu’s decision.

Endeavor though- He was the only one with enough of an ego to make a scene and not worry about Nedzu’s reaction. Izuku could feel the eyes of the other sponsors, the other students, as he stared at Endeavor, but he refused to acknowledge them. The only difference between them and Endeavor was that they were keeping their comments to themselves. But that was fine. Izuku would have time to show them what he meant.

The principal had been quick to dismiss them after Izuku’s declaration saying that he would be sending them more information about classes and official press release. Izuku made sure he was the first one out of the room, Aizawa right behind him. They had only stopped to grab Hizashi from his office (You called him Todoroki to his face!) before going to meet Inko at a restaurant to celebrate. All in all, Izuku thought he could count it as a success.

With his grounding officially over and the demonstrations out of the way Izuku felt fine taking a day to spend more time with Mei. Aizawa had some paperwork that he hadn’t been able to avoid for the weekend despite his lack of students, and Izuku had promised that his phone would be completely charged before he left the apartment. If they thought they could get away with it he was sure that Aizawa, Hizashi, and his mother would have made sure that he never went anywhere alone again. Villain attacks could happen anywhere. Locking him up in the apartment forever wouldn’t do anything to protect him. Knowing his luck they would probably just have a villain move in next door.

To start the day the two had decided to visit their normal cafe for ice cream before wandering the city, their only plan to stop at whatever stores caught their attention at that moment. They had both agreed that the mall was out of the question, both for their parents sake and because they didn’t want to push their luck. The Terror Twins had been successfully returned to prison but there had been no announced leads on how they had gotten out of their cells in the first place, especially since Kell wouldn’t have been able to use his quirk. There were other places they could shop. Better to be safe than sorry.

After the cafe, each of them sipping on an iced coffee loaded down with sugar and whipped cream, they wandered. Mei rambled as they walking, outlining all of the projects she had started since the last time they had talked, the work that her mother had been doing, the heroes that had stopped by the workshop, all of the upgrades she wanted to do to his own tech before they started classes.

“I’m just glad that all I have to do is the academic exam. I’ve heard rumors about the hero course exam. Waste of technology, if you ask me,” she said. “They have those robots and they what? Let some teenagers destroy them for the funsies of it? Yuuei is the best academy in the country. I’m sure they could find something a little less destructive for their testing.”

“What do they even do with them?” Izuku asked. “After the exam’s over.”

“Repurpose them, is what my mom said.” Mei stood hunched over a table of jewelry shaded by the shop’s awning. “But that’s still a waste of metal. And time. Those robots don’t even have any kind of A.I. If the point is to simulate how their quirks can be used against villains then it doesn’t make sense to have them fight those unsophisticated hunks of nonsense. Not to mention the fact that it limits the types of quirks that can get through, like you were talking about before.”

As Mei turned to examine another shelf with a sigh, Izuku quickly handed over a bill and slipped the charm into his pocket. The woman winked at him but didn’t say a word.

“I would prefer another standoff with Endeavor than those robots, to be honest,” Izuku said, following Mei to another booth.

“Oh wow, just imagine what Aizawa-san would do if you had to take that test!” Mei turned to face him as she walked backwards, hands clasped behind her. Izuku gently pulled her away from an on coming stroller. “He would probably jump down in that arena with you! Everyone would have to pass because Eraserhead destroyed all the robots himself.”

“We talked about how we would handle it. Before Nedzu made the extra spot. I think he was going to try to see if i could bring the tech in with me since I couldn’t use a quirk, but they might not have allowed it. I was going to have to make do until the rescue portion of the exam.”

“Rescue portion?” Mei flipped back around, skipping along the edge of the sidewalk to fall back to Izuku’s side. “There’s more than one portion of the test?”

“They don’t advertise it,” Izuku said, “but video of all the previous tests are available if you ask. The type of robots and the course change from year to year, but there’s always a section at the end where the students could be in actual danger. I got curious and tallied points. The only way some of the students who were accepted got in was if there were points for helping people over destroying robots. I asked Aizawa-sensei about it and he didn’t outright agree with my explanation, but he didn’t disagree which was as good as a yes.”

“Of course you would watch the videos enough to notice something like that. How long did it take you to calculate all of their scores?”

Izuku looked away, taking another sip of his drink to avoid answering. “It counted as part of Aizawa-sensei’s homework.”

Mei rolled her eyes. “I’m sure it did. But speaking of school, I’ve been working on some things for you to add to your arsenal. You can pick them up the next time you stop by the workshop. I got everything else on your list ready too. Well. Everything you’re cleared for at least. The rest I can at least start working on the designs for.”

“Don’t keep me hanging! What have you got for me?”

“Mostly I’ve been trying to build up a stock of Wonder Balls-”

“We still aren’t calling them that,” Izuku cut in.

“Because I’m sure I won’t have as much time once I start working on Yuuei projects. The Sports Festival is my best chance to get noticed this year and I don’t have nearly enough time to prepare all of my tech. So you have about ten cases of each. Plus a new one. Yellow, the color of anxiety! And your brand new pocket sized flash grenades!”

“I’m sure Aizawa is going to love being there when I try those out.”

“He’s the one who made me realize I should have included them in the first batch,” Mei said with a shrug. “Lots of quirks are vision based. Smoke is good in a pinch, but best to be prepared just in case. I also have some new rods ready for you, although those you can’t have until the new school year officially starts.” She closed her hands into fists, holding them close together as she mimed twisting them. “They slot together. Twisting them locks them together and activates the charge. The zap will give you a few extra seconds, but no lasting damage. I can add different level charges once you get your provisional license as long as Aizawa signs off on it.”

“You’re the best, you know that right, Mei?”

“I know, but it’s always nice to hear it again. Just wait until I tell you my ideas for your costume design.”

Toshinori knew it was a terrible idea. A horrible idea. Possibly his worst idea in months, and he had made a hobby out of making bad decisions. Off the top of his head he could list at least ten reasons why he should have kept walking and not looked back. But he couldn’t. Not when he had so many questions he wanted answered. Privately, he thought Nedzu’s real job was being an annoyance to every pro hero he knew. His position as principal was just a means to an end.

The main reason, the most important reason, would be the fact that he had long since used up his time for the day. A slime villain had wandered into his path by chance and Toshi had had no choice but to get involved. It had taken less than a minute to get the villain trapped in a bottle he had been carrying with him, but the trip to the station had eaten up the rest of his time. All Might so rarely dropped off villains himself everyone had wanted to speak to him before he left. He had barely made it out of the station and around the corner before he had been forced to change back.

So when he saw Midoriya Izuku walking down the street, laughing, with who must must been his friend from the mall, Toshinori should have continued on his way.

Curiosity, though, was a powerful thing. Midoriya wouldn’t recognize him when he didn’t look like All Might. There would be nothing stopping him from doing a little scouting. For safety purposes only, of course. Tsukauchi had been bothering him nonstop about what had really happened with the Terror Twins. He had known Midoriya had lied to him, that much had been obvious. What he didn’t know was why Toshinori had covered for him. Toshinori hadn’t offered an explanation.

When he had first seen the video of Nedzu’s test he hadn’t known what to think. Being a hero without a quirk? Impossible. He had seen firsthand the danger that came with being a pro, had suffered the consequences of not being prepared. Midoriya held his own against students older and better trained than himself, but that had been in a fairly controlled environment. No matter what Nedzu said he never would have let the situation get out of hand. The moment it looked as though Midoriya was in real danger he would have been out of that arena.

The kid had potential. It was unfortunate that he had been born without a quirk, but Toshinori refused to see the reason that Nedzu had wanted him to see that video. You couldn’t be quirkless and a pro hero. Toshinori had been forced to learn that lesson. Midoriya would too, eventually.

But then the incident at the mall had happened and that...that gave Toshinori pause. The mall wasn’t Nedzu’s carefully watched test, and the Terror Twins certainly weren’t expelled high school students. Somehow Midoriya and Hatume had managed to handle the situation on their own. Midoriya had even come up with a decent cover story for his actions. If the questioning officer had been anyone other than Tsukauchi, Midoriya might not have even needed Toshinori’s help. Interfering should have ended in disaster and yet Midoriya had managed to stop a bad situation from getting worse.

That wasn’t even touching on the fact that Aizawa, the Yuuei teacher famous for expelling students he didn’t believe in, had personally agreed to train him. Toshinori wished he could have been a fly on the wall for that initial conversation.

So really, Toshinori couldn’t be blamed for wanting to learn a little more about the new recommendation student. Anyone in his position would do the same. He needed to get a feel for Midoriya’s personality and the best way to do that was when he was most himself. For a moment Toshinori felt bad for following the two friends, but it was necessary, he told himself. If he was really considering- He cut the thought off. He wasn’t considering anything.Curiosity. Curiosity only.

Toshinori had no problem keeping up with the two. They stopped every few stores, one always dragging the other by the hand to look at something they had seen the front window. They had to have been friends for years, he thought, waiting the easy way they moved into each other’s space with a familiarity that couldn’t have been easily learned. Watching them as they walked, laughing at something without words, he could almost understand how they made it through the incident with the Terror Twins together. The level of trust Toshinori could see between them was rare. When was the last time he had had a friendship that close? Before he had One for All at the very least.

That continued on for half an hour, but Toshinori didn’t leave. Instead he inched closer, for once reveling in the anonymity of simply being Yagi Toshinori. He watched as they stopped by a stand to get ice cream, making sure to keep far enough back that they wouldn’t notice him. He didn’t know a lot about Midoriya Izuku, but the boy’s skills in observation had been clear from Nedzu’s video. The last thing he needed was for Midoriya to wonder why he was being followed.

If someone had asked him why he was still following Midoriya in that moment he wouldn’t have been able to answer. It felt like he was waiting for something. Toshinori had no idea what he was looking for in Midoriya, what he expected from a kid he had only had a single conversation with, but he knew that if he waited just a little bit longer he would find it. The answer to the question that he didn’t want to ask himself just yet.

He knew that was part of the reason Nedzu had invited him once again to teach at Yuuei, just like Nedzu was under no illusions about the reason Toshinori had finally said yes. He had given Toshinori the files of a few promising second years as a welcoming gift with his teaching materials. Toshinori hadn’t looked through them yet. He let himself move even closer to the pair, straining to hear what they were talking about.

“I’m just saying, there are plenty of ways to come up with your superhero alias. Taking the thing you’re afraid of and adding ‘man’ to it is kind of lazy. Not to mention lame.” From Midoriya’s tone it was clear he was trying to get Hatsume to argue with him. She didn’t disappoint him.

“It’s intimidating! Villains cower at the sound of his name!” Hatsume argued, but she laughed as she said it.

“Choosing a name based on an alien hero is much cooler though.”

Toshinori couldn’t see her face, but Hatsume had to have rolled her eyes by the affronted look on Midoriya’s face. “It’s not a competition, Izuku. They can both be good names.”

“If it was a competition though-”

“But it’s not!”

Were they...Were they arguing about old comic books? Pre-quirk comic books at that? How had they even managed to find those? They had been out of print for years. Decades. They had been easier to find when Toshinori was a kid, but even then it had been a struggle. It wasn’t until he had started his career as a pro that he had had the funds to read the more completed series, and by then reading comics-It had seemed a little silly with everything that had happened, everything that he had to do. Still. He thought of the box tucked carefully away in storage. He couldn’t give them to Midoriya himself, but maybe Aizawa would be willing…

Toshinori was sure the argument would have continued if the street hadn’t suddenly started shaking. A cloud of dust rose from what looked like the next street over, the sound of screeching metal and concrete smashing to the ground clear over startled screams.

The shaking cut off just as suddenly as it started but the sound of a crumbling building continued. It could have been an earthquake, but something didn’t sit right about that explanation. There had been no sound of an explosion, and if it had been as simple as an earthquake it had been small enough that it shouldn’t have caused that kind of damage. If a quirk had been the cause…

Turning to where Midoriya and Hatsume had been standing, Toshinori froze. They were already gone, moving quickly through the crowd towards the dust cloud still rising from the other street. He should have known.

Following them to the scene whatever had just occurred was easier than tracing them through the crowded shopping area. The two middle schoolers were the only ones moving towards the crumbling building and not away. Toshinori let himself move closer to them again as he strained to hear what they were talking about as they turned a corner and the building came into view.

It was an apartment building, Toshinori could recognize that right away. A crack spread in a jagged line across the seventh floor. The levels above it littered with what looked like craters, holes almost punched into the siding surrounded by fractured concrete and peeling paint.

Definitely not an earthquake then.

Authorities seemed to have just arrived, a harried looking police officer holding back a man who couldn’t have been older than his early thirties. He fought against the officer’s grip, but the man held him back.

“My son!” He said, voice breaking. “He was just sleeping. I needed to run and get something from my car… I thought he would be fine until I got back. I was only gone a minute!”

“Sir, you need to stay back. The building isn’t stable right now. Rescue trained heroes are on their way. They’ll get everyone out.”

“There’s no time!” The man argued. “That’s my son’s quirk! He must have woke up and I was gone...The whole building’s integrity is compromised, and it won’t get better if I can’t calm him down! You can’t leave him stuck in there! Those people are all in danger!”

Toshinori knew he shouldn’t have followed Midoriya and his friend, because here he was face to face with another disaster and unable to do anything about it. All because he had wanted to talk to a few people at the station. If he hadn’t stayed to talk he would have had plenty of time left to get everyone out of the building.

Rescue heroes were on there way though. They didn’t need All Might. No one seemed to be in any immediate danger, no matter what the man had said. All Might had seen his fair share of destruction over the years. The building looked as though it would hang on until the rescue teams could arrive.

“Izuku!” Hatsume’s voice jarred Toshinori from his train of thought. “What are you doing?”

She had one arm thrown out in front of her friend, the other holding his shirt sleeve in a death grip as she tried to pull him back, the scene almost identical to the man and the officer only a few feet from where they were standing.

“I have to help, Mei!” Izuku said, and Toshinori almost had to take a step back at the raw emotion in his voice. “You heard what that man said. There’s at least one kid in there, and plenty of other people who may be trapped and unable to get out.”

“But what about your promise!” Hatsume said. “You told Aizawa-san that you wouldn’t get involved-”

“This isn’t a villain attack, Mei.”

“You know that he specifically refused to leave you even that loophole,” Hatsume cut in. “You promised him you wouldn’t get involved in anymore dangerous situations. Not without him there.”

Midoriya didn’t fight against Hatsume’s hold, but she hadn’t let go either.

“I’m not going to go into the building, Mei. I know what we did at the mall...I won’t say it wasn’t the right decision at the time, but Aizawa-sensei was right. We could have made it a lot worse. This though? We might be able to help here without me breaking my promise. Those people are probably terrified. That kid is probably terrified. The officer seems convinced that everything will hold out, but didn’t you hear what his dad said? Every second that passes without help that kid could still be using his quirk. The building already looks the it could collapse and it could be getting weaker without us even knowing it.”

Toshinori wished he could have been able to see Midoriya’s face as he spoke because his voice… He hadn’t heard conviction like that in such a long time.

“I may not be able to go into that building and get those people out myself yet, but there has to be something that I can do to help them, something I can do to make this situation easier and faster for them when the real help does arrive. What kind of hero would I be if I didn’t take advantage of that chance? I can’t just stand here and watch knowing people’s lives could be in danger. That’s not the kind of hero I would ever want to be. So I better start now.”

He turned now, looking at Hatsume straight on. Toshinori could finally see his expression, see the wide grin that Hatsume couldn’t resist responding to with one of her own. There was a calmness in that smile that almost reminded him of someone, although he couldn’t quite put his finger on who it was.

Hatsume sighed, dropping the arm stretched out in front of him, although she didn’t let go of his shirt sleeve. “Okay. I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were doing. You know I would kill you if you died on me. And then I would have to invent some way to bring you back so Aizawa-san could kill you again.”

Midoriya laughed. “Like you’re ever getting rid of me.”

Watching them walk towards the the scene together, Toshinori couldn’t describe what he was feeling, the grip that had taken hold on his heart. It tightened, crushing and painful. Then suddenly, it was gone.

The world shifted.

Toshinori could breathe once more.

He disappeared around the corner and back into the shadows.

The building collapsed moments before the rescue teams arrive.

All Might had long since gotten everyone to safety.

Izuku couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so exhausted. Somehow, miraculously, All Might had arrived at the apartment building before it caved in. There had only been a few minor injuries as a result, and Mei and Izuku had spent the better part of two hours distracting the children that had lived in the building while their parents had been checked out and figured out what they were going to do next.

He hadn’t expected to see All Might in person so soon after the mall incident, but he had appeared out of nowhere, his usual catchphrase instantly putting everyone on the scene at ease. The man who had been in near tears over his son had been so relieved to see that that he really did start to cry, hurriedly telling the number one hero where his room was located. All Might had answered with a grin and a thumbs up before charging into the building only to reemerge mere minutes later, the people from the upper floors draped over his shoulders.

Trying to talk to the hero hadn’t worked out as well as he would have liked though. All Might let out a shaking cough the moment Izuku approached him-dust from the building maybe?- and ran off, calling over his shoulder to explain that he had been on his way to an appointment and couldn’t stay. Because that was just the kind of person he was. Saving ten people was a normal afternoon activity for All Might, nothing unusual to him at all.

Izuku was reminded once again why All Might had been his hero growing up.

Once the kids were settled back in with their parents Mei and Izuku had decided to head home for the day with plans to meet up later at the workshop so Izuku could pick up his new gear. He had almost made it home with no other distractions when a man stepped out onto the road in front of him.

A plain white t-shirt hung limply over his gaunt form, his skin thin and sickly. Izuku wondered briefly if he had somehow managed to escape from a hospital, but quickly pushed the thought away. The closest hospital was still too far away for this man to have wandered that far. He looked as though one strong breeze would knock him over.

Izuku slowed, stopping short a few feet away from him. The man watched him, brilliant blue eyes blazing from the dark sunken in circles that surrounded them. Something about his eyes...that color…

“Sir?” Izuku asked. “Did you need help?”

“That’s what you do, isn’t it?” The man said, his words almost going unheard through the sound of his coughing. “You help people?”

“Yes?” Was that supposed to be a trick question? And yet something about his voice almost sounded familiar too. Like he had heard it before, just slightly off. The inflection ringing a bell but the tone falling too flat for Izuku to place.

“Young man,” the stranger said, taking a step towards him. “I’ve been watching you.”

“That doesn’t sound creepy at all,” Izuku responded, taking a step back. Aizawa would never let him live if he managed to get himself kidnapped a second time in as many years.

“You throw yourself head first into danger, not because you’re arrogant, but because you have an instinctual need to help people. Isn’t that correct?”

“I don’t see how that is any of your business,” Izuku said, reaching into his pocket for his phone. He didn’t think he would need to reach for his rods if the man became aggressive, but he had Aizawa and Hizashi on speed dial for a reason.

“I’m not here to hurt you,” the man continued, raising both hands to show that he was unarmed. Izuku didn’t buy it, not when his quirk could be anything. “This wasn’t how I would have wanted to do this, but I couldn’t wait. I’m running out of time, and I’ve waited long enough as it is.”

“That doesn’t make this any less creepy and stalkerish, you do realize that, right?” Izuku had already pushed the button for Aizawa’s mobile, taking another step back, but he didn’t hold the phone up to his ear as he waited to see where this was all going.

“I know this is going to be hard to believe,” the man said, “but I need you to hear me out. I know that I don’t look it right now, and there’s a reason for that. My name is Yagi Toshinori. You might know me as All Might. And I’m here to make you a hero.”

Someone had to be playing a trick on him, because this could not be Izuku’s life. He refused. There was no way this was real. He could hear Aizawa’s voice through the speaker now, a low buzz.

“I’m sorry,” Izuku said, finally raising the phone, a hand pressed carefully over the speaker. “And I mean that as sincerely as possible under the circumstances. But. What the fuck?”

Chapter Text

“Midoriya? Midoriya what’s going on?” Izuku removed his hand from the speaker, pressing his phone against his ear.

“I’m here, Aizawa-sensei. I’m fine, but-”

The stranger-Yagi? All Might?- let out a wet cough deep from his chest. When he wiped a hand across his mouth Izuku thought he saw a flash of red. “You called Aizawa?”

“When a stranger shows up claiming to be the number one hero, you call your mentor,” Izuku answered, taking a few more steps away from him.

“Midoriya, who are you talking to? I’m tracking your call.”

Well, that solved one problem. The apartment building was almost in sight, but Izuku hadn’t wanted to say that. Not when he didn’t know what this stranger was really after. “There’s this man. He says his name is Yagi Toshinori? And that he’s been watching me, which isn’t creepy at all. I don’t know if that’s his real name or not, but he says that he’s really All Might.”

Izuku had expected some kind of sarcastic comment, a flat dismissal. Instead there was silence at the other end of the line. There were plenty of reasons for him not to respond, Izuku told himself. The most likely He glanced back at the stranger who still watched him. He hadn’t tried to speak again after Izuku’s explanation, and he hadn’t seemed intimidated by the fact that he had called a pro hero either. He simply waited to see what Izuku would do next.

What Izuku wanted to do next was take a nap and hope that when he woke the world would make more sense.


“Did he say what he wanted with you, Midoriya?” Aizawa asked. He still sounded worried but not as much as before. Certainly not like he was rushing to find him. Maybe he wasn’t in danger of being kidnapped after all. At least not this time.

“He said…” Izuku didn’t want to finish that sentence because if Aizawa was taking this seriously, if he wasn’t dismissing the stranger as some misguided hospital escapee, then that meant that the person watching him with such an intense stare was actually All Might, and Izuku didn’t think that he could handle the situation if that were the case.

“Midoriya?” Aizawa sighed.

“He said he wants to make me a hero?”

“He said what.” And that? That was a level of anger Izuku hadn’t heard from Aizawa before, although he couldn’t be sure what exactly he had said to make him angry. “Midoriya, did he happen to mention why he approached you about this rather than me or your mother?”

“No? Aizawa-sensei what’s going on?”

Izuku had always been a frustrated crier. It had been another thing he and his mother had in common, but over the last year and a half, after everything he had been through, Izuku thought that he had managed to get that tendency under control. He had held himself together when he had been kidnapped because he had to, and with the Terror Twins he had had Mei there to keep him grounded. His anger at Endeavor’s smug expression had been enough to keep Izuku’s eyes clear until they got out of sight. The closest he had come to crying had been Nezu’s test, but that had been more out of relief than anything.

Now though, feeling like the world was shifting out of his control again, Izuku could feel the tears building.

The stranger- what was Izuku even supposed to call him at this point- tilted his head at Izuku’s response.

“Midoriya, the extremely misguided idiot standing in front of you is who he says he is. As for his offer, I have no idea why he feels his intervention is needed. As far as I’m aware you’re doing a great job of that on your own.”

Izuku felt torn. Have a meltdown that All Might was standing in front of him(and was apparently a skeleton) or have a meltdown over the the compliment Aizawa had decided to pay him? Unable to choose between the two he decided to do both. Both was clearly the only option.

“Calm down, Midoriya,” Aizawa continued, and it was incredibly telling how much Aizawa had learned about him that he knew to say that before continuing with his instructions. “Yagi and I need to talk. Will you show him how to get to Warehouse Two?”

Warehouse Two was another warehouse extremely similar to what Izuku referred to as Warehouse Prime with the exception that it was located on the opposite side of the city. Izuku had only been there with Aizawa a few times before to store some of his extra equipment. It wasn’t as furnished as the one they usually met at so Aizawa didn’t see a reason for them to spend much time there when they didn’t have to.

So Aizawa either didn’t trust All Might with the location of his real training facility or he wanted to make a point.

“I can do that?” Izuku needed to stop responding with a question, but he couldn’t do it. Not when nothing about this situation made any sense.

“Also. Will you please pass him your phone?”

Pass him his...Pass All Might his…

“Midoriya. Breathe. Pass All Might your phone.”

“Right, right. I can do that.”

All Might thankfully seemed to realize that Izuku wasn’t going to be capable of moving at the moment because he stepped forward, holding his hand out for the phone. He looked resigned, as if he knew Aizawa well enough to know that if he wanted to talk to him in that moment then it probably wasn’t going to be anything good.

“Aizawa-san!” He boomed, and if Izuku were being honest he couldn’t be one hundred percent sure whether the cheerful tone in his voice had been faked or not despite the pinched look in his face as if he were expecting a physical blow. “I’ve been meaning to- Well, I thought-” All Might cut off, his tone dropping. “Aizawa, my boy. If I could just-”

Izuku couldn’t hear what Aizawa was saying, the volume on his phone turned down too far, but he didn’t think he would have been able to focus on it even if it hadn’t been. Aizawa was arguing with All Might. All Might who said that he had been watching him. Watching him for how long? Since the mall? Before that? Izuku wanted answers, but he knew he wouldn’t get them now, not until they met up with Aizawa.

“I won’t-” All Might started to speak again, nodding before pulling the phone away to stare at it. “He hung up on me.”

He could do this. Izuku could act like nothing extraordinary was happening. He wasn’t meeting the hero of most of his childhood. The stranger was a stranger, and that was all. So his eyes were clearly the same shade of blue as All Might’s. So it was easy to see the similarities in his hair style now that Izuku knew to look for it. He was just a stranger that needed directions, and Izuku could handle that. There was no reason for him to cry, there was nothing overwhelming going on at all.

“Aizawa-sensei asked if I would show you to his warehouse,” Izuku said, and his voice sounded almost normal. “It’s on the opposite side of town, so it’ll take about half an hour.”

Izuku wondered of All Might could make it that far in this form. Maybe Aizawa was planning on having him pass out before they ever got the chance to continue their conversation in person. All Might didn’t seem bothered by the distance though. “Well then, lead the way, my boy.”

Aizawa got more satisfaction that he should have from hanging up on Toshinori mid-sentence, but he refused to feel guilty about it. It was a waste of time and energy that he could be putting towards making sure that he got to the warehouse before Midoriya and Toshinori arrived so that he could decide best how to handle Toshinori’s ridiculous and honestly offensive declaration. Not that Toshinori saw his actions that way, but Aizawa knew he would have them all on the same page by the time their meeting ended.

Such gross obliviousness was unacceptable for a teacher. Aizawa would have to do what he could to nip that tendency in the bud before his negative influence could affect this new batch of incoming first years.

What could he be thinking, revealing his identity to Midoriya in an open street? Anyone could have overheard him, not to mention the fact that Toshinori himself had stressed the importance of no one outside Yuuei’s staff learning the truth about his dual forms. Aizawa was sure All Might would have kept the secret from them as well if it wouldn’t have created the possibilities of holes in their security.

The meeting for that debriefing had been awkward, but Aizawa had tried to take the reveal in stride. The Number One Hero had to have been getting up there in age- he had debuted long before Aizawa’s own admittance to Yuuei after all- so it would make sense that he would be more prone to injuries, and with the level of villains that wanted to challenge him it would also make sense that those injuries could end up being severe. As long as it didn’t interfere with his work or the safety of his students, All Might’s secrets weren’t any of his business, and Aizawa had been happy to keep things that way.

Now though, he had felt the need to share this information with Midoriya and that...That made it Aizawa’s problem now because his student managed to attract enough trouble on his own. He didn’t need All Might’s trouble added into the mix as well. How had Midoriya even gotten the hero’s attention in the first place? Midoriya had mentioned meeting him at the mall after he had idiotically gotten involved with the Terror Twins, but Aizawa hadn’t gotten the feeling that he had downplayed the extent of their interactions. He had become fairly versed in Midoriya’s tells over their time together, and Midoriya hadn’t been lying when he said their conversation only lasted a few minutes.

So why did he want to talk with him now? Why the offer to make him a hero? And what exactly did Toshinori mean by that? Aizawa had a feeling Nedzu was responsible for this whole mess somehow. The principal liked to have his hands in everything, and this seemed like just the type of scheming he would do to try to keep control. Aizawa had no evidence of that, of course, but the moment he found some Nedzu was going to regret his meddling. For now he would just have to worry about whatever nonsense Toshinori wanted to drag them into. He would deal with the rest once he knew what the hell was going on.

Izuku didn’t remember much about the journey to Aizawa’s backup warehouse, which was probably a good thing. If he had been more aware in those moments there was no telling what he would have rambled on about to All Might (All Might!) in the time it took them to cross town. As it was though, they managed to make the trip without Izuku embarrassing himself too much. He was sure that the hero had noticed the totally obvious way he had been stealing glances at him the entire walk, but he had spared Izuku’s already fractured dignity and didn’t comment on it. Izuku wasn’t sure if that made him feel more or less awkward, but his brain refused to connect to his mouth so he remained silent.

He knew he should be excited right now. He knew that he should be bursting with questions. Izuku had met All Might before, but their conversation had been brief, and Izuku had been more concerned about making sure that he and Mei didn’t get in trouble for their actions at the mall. All Might had backed him up when it seemed like he knew Izuku had been lying, and Izuku had been confused about that at the time, but he hadn’t given much thought into the reasons why. His relief that they weren’t going to be arrested and that neither of them had gotten hurt had been enough at the time.

Now here All Might was again, casually letting Izuku in on a secret that had to have been heavily guarded. Izuku didn’t have enough focus in his shock to think through all of the possible scenarios of what could happen if the villains or the public discovered the truth of All Might’s health, but he didn’t need to think them all through to know that it would be bad. Potentially catastrophic. So why was he doing this?

Izuku had looked up to All Might for years before he met Aizawa, and even though he had come to appreciate Aizawa’s style of hero work it was hard to shake that kind of adoration. All Might had been the first person to inspire Izuku to be a hero, and Izuku had spent hours watching the videos of his debut and every encounter that had been caught on record since. Literal decades of fights that Izuku had poured over and memorized and analyzed until he could pick out the exact moments each and every villain’s attack had fallen apart under the overwhelming wave that was All Might.

Back then, when he had still held out hope that he would one day get a quirk, Izuku had wanted to be that kind of hero. The kind of hero who could change the atmosphere of a room simply by being there. All Might had a personality that demanded attention and a quirk that held it hostage. He was everything Izuku had been told he couldn’t be and everything he had dreamed of. If All Might had showed up like this out of the blue three years ago saying that he wanted to make Izuku a hero he would have cried on the spot. Not out of confusion or frustration, but because it would have been the answer he had been so desperately searching for and unable to find.

There had been so many moments before he found Aizawa when he had considered giving up, when the people telling him his dream was impossible had almost been too much, but Izuku had managed to push through it. He had found Aizawa, and although he still had a lot to learn, he had made so much progress. As much as his anxiety like to tell him otherwise, Izuku was self aware enough to know that he had improved, that he was on the right track.

So despite originally wanting to be the same kind of hero as All Might, Izuku had long accepted that All Might’s path wasn’t the only one that existed. All Might and Aizawa were about as opposite in styles as it was possible to get, but they were still both heroes. They both managed to help people in ways that suited their personalities and powers. Izuku would never be able to be as visible and obvious as All Might, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t mean anything in the long run. Aizawa worked best in the shadows, and Izuku knew he could find his home there too, picking apart people’s quirks without them ever knowing he was there. He could outmatch brute strength with cunning and tech. He could be a hero, even if it wasn’t in the way he had always imagined.

Which was what made it so confusing that All Might had decided to approach him. If he had been watching him-and that declaration had been made no less creepy by the fact that the stranger really had been All Might- he had to have known what Izuku had been doing and why. All Might’s style of hero work was perfect for someone with a powerhouse quirk like his, but Izuku couldn’t punch his way out of his problems. All Might had to know this.

When they reached the warehouse Aizawa sat waiting for them. Izuku knew the furious expression on his face wasn’t meant for him, but he had to wonder if All Might really understood what he was walking into. He didn’t seem nearly as nervous as he should be, but then again Izuku didn’t know the extent of their relationship. All Might obviously knew Aizawa, but he might not know him well enough yet to read the subtle changes in Aizawa’s usually blank expressions.

“Aizawa-san! I hope you weren’t in the middle of something! I didn’t mean to drag you out here like this with no notice.” None of the cheerfulness had slipped from All Might’s voice during the walk over, no sign to show that he knew what a careful line he had crossed.

“You should have considered that before approaching my student the way you did,” Aizawa answered. “Midoriya, I called your mother. She knows to expect us late to dinner.”

And that-Izuku hadn’t considered that, although he really should have given everything that had happened recently. If he had been home late his mother would have immediately assumed something horrible had happened. He would have to make sure he remembered that next time.

“I know you’re worried about your student, but this is really a conversation best held between Midoriya and myself.”

Aizawa stood slowly, his movements reminiscent of a cat prowling towards its prey, although he didn’t step away from the chair he had been sitting in. Izuku moved away from All Might as subtle as he could because Aizawa might not have had his scarves wrapped around his shoulders at the moment, but with the furious look on his face Izuku doubted he would have needed them to tear the Number One Hero down a few levels.

“Well, one of those assumptions is correct. Midoriya is my student. He is also a minor. Any other offers for training should have been brought to his mother first and me second. I know that you are new to teaching, but you do not accost prospective students in alley ways, Yagi-san. I would have assumed that was common sense, but it seems I have overestimated the baseline of intelligence here. I’ll be considerate of that in the future.”

Izuku couldn’t breathe.

“I meant no disrespect,” All Might started, raising a hand to gesture towards him.

“And yet several people here were disrespected,” Aizawa cut in.

“I think that’s going a little far, my boy.”

“I understand that I must be at least twenty years your junior, but I am still a teacher at Yuuei. Please refer to me as such.”

All Might was frowning now. The conversation had clearly spiraled out of his control, and he had no idea where he had first gone wrong. Izuku would have felt more sorry for him if he hadn’t still been confused by the purpose of this meeting.

“The nature of my injury and my true appearance are secrets of incredible importance, and I agreed to allow Nedzu to disclose that information to the staff at Yuuei to ensure that students’ safety. But the matter that I need to discuss with young Midoriya now is of even greater consequence. I must insist that I share this information with Midoriya and Midoriya alone.”

Aizawa crossed his arms, and although his expression didn’t change Izuku could feel the tension rising. “Let me get this straight. You have already revealed to my underaged student one secret that could put his life at risk-without the permission of his guardian- and you now wish to reveal another secret that is so dangerous you do not feel comfortable sharing it with me as well. Even though I am his official and legal mentor. Do I have that correct?”

“It’s not a matter of trust, Aizawa-san,” All Might started again only to be cut off by Aizawa once more. Izuku wondered if anyone had ever interrupted All Might, Symbol of Peace, so many times in such a short time period.

“I don’t care if you trust me. I care about whether you are putting my student at risk.”

All Might turned from Aizawa towards Izuku, eyes bright and pleading. Was he expecting Izuku to agree with him? To side against Aizawa? Because All Might may have been the hero of his childhood, but Aizawa Shouta had grown to be so much more than that. Between the two of them there could be no contest.

“I’m sorry, All Might, but if you want to talk to me Aizawa-sensei has to stay. I don’t know what you want to tell me, but I won’t hide things from him. If he leaves, I’m leaving with him.”

Ten year old Izuku would have had a heart attack at hearing those words, but Izuku didn’t regret saying them. Aizawa had believed in him when no one else had. He wasn’t going to brush him aside now. Not even for All Might.

All Might sighed, shaking his head. “If I am to tell you both this secret it must stay between the three of us, do you understand? It is vital that it remain secret. Young Midoriya will be in no further danger as long as it does not leave this room.”

Aizawa narrowed his eyes. “Tell me one good reason why I should allow this risk?”

“Because what I’m about to tell you now may actually save Midoriya in the future.” There was no hesitation in his voice, no doubt. He truly believed what he said.

Izuku and Aizawa exchanged a look. Aizawa wanted nothing more to do with this conversation, but he would stay if Izuku wanted to know. And Izuku...Izuku didn’t need to know what All Might wanted to tell him, but he was curious, and he could tell that Aizawa was too although he would squash that curiosity in a second if Izuku said he wanted to leave.

“What did you mean,” Izuku asked, “that it could save me?”

He had continued to move as Aizawa and All Might talked, and now he stood by Aizawa’s side, the two of them across from All Might.

“I’m sure as someone who has spent a lot of time observing quirks that you have wondered about the nature of mine?”

Izuku nodded. No one knew the exact details of All Might’s quirk, but everyone who paid attention to those sorts of things had theories for their theories.

“It is a special quirk. If fact, I can say with certainty that it is unique. My quirk is called One for All, and although the obvious effect is strength enhancement that is not all it does. You see, One for All is a quirk that can be passed on from person to person. It takes the holder’s existing quirk and makes it stronger, stockpiling that power to pass on to the next so that each holder is stronger than the one before.” All Might’s eyes burned as he leaned forward as if he could see the disbelief on Izuku’s face. A quirk that could be passed from person to person? Surely All Might wasn’t intending…

Aizawa looked just as stunned as Izuku, and for once he didn’t interrupt as All Might continued to speak. “Nedzu showed me the video of you competing against Aizawa-san’s former students. Your mind is sharp, and you have good reflexes. If you had a quirk there is no doubt that you could become a formidable hero. But while I respect what you are trying to do, your goals are simply impossible. You cannot be a hero without a quirk. Nedzu has his games, but in the end the only one who will get hurt from his experiment will be you.”

“That’s. Enough.” Aizawa said, spitting the words as his eyes flashed red.

Every word from All Might had been well intended, but they sat ice cold and burning in the pit of Izuku’s stomach. All Might didn’t believe in him. He had watched him, had seen what Izuku was already capable of, and had decided that it would never be enough.

“I’m only saying this for his benefit,” All Might pleaded. “But if Izuku were to be my successor, if he were to accept One for All-”

All Might could have continued speaking or Aizawa could have interrupted him. Izuku couldn’t hear either of them over the ringing in his ears.

Mei and Izuku had spent so much time imagining what it would have been like to be characters in the comics they read, to be heroes in a world before powers weren’t the norm. It was so easy to picture this moment as a scene from one of those stories. Izuku, the bold protagonist ready to fight the odds. All Might, his well meaning idol. A sacred mantle passed on from one generation to the next. The perfect origin story for the perfect hero. But Izuku wasn’t a character from one of those old comics, and this wasn’t the start of his origin story. That moment had happened almost two years ago in an apartment with a tired looking hero and four cats.

All Might’s offer...Izuku couldn’t begin to express what an honor it was for him to be offered such a power, and maybe once upon a time had things been different he would have accepted it. Not now though. Not after everything he had been through. He had survived a kidnapping and Nedzu’s unorthodox test. He had outsmarted a group of villains and stared down Endeavor. Izuku would never be as strong as All Might, but that was okay. That wasn’t the type of strength that made a hero special. Aizawa had shown him that. So even though he spoke the word without thinking, it didn’t surprise him. There was no other answer he could give.


Aizawa and All Might must have been arguing because they both froze, eyes locked on him. All Might looked stunned, but Aizawa? Aizawa looked proud.

“What was that, Midoriya boy?” There was a hesitance in his voice that hadn’t been there before as he stared at Izuku.

“Thank you for your offer, All Might, but I have to say no. Being a hero isn’t about the strength of a person’s quirk. It’s about what you as a person can do to help those in need. I’ve been looked down on my whole life for being quirkless, and I’m going use that to show people that there are more important things in life than quirks. Accepting your offer would be the easy thing to do, but I’ve got to do this my own way with my own power. So thank you, really. It means a lot to me that you think I would be the right successor, but I can’t. I owe it to myself to see this through.”

Chapter Text

Aizawa knew that the conversation wouldn’t end when they went separate ways that night. Toshinori didn’t push the issue after Izuku’s declaration, although it looked as though he definitely wanted to. Toshinori, for all his fumbling awkwardness, wasn’t an idiot. He knew that he had approached the situation far too heavy handed. Pushing his opinion in that moment wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere. They parted outside in a silence that Aizawa refused to acknowledge as awkward.

Dinner at the Midoriya home that night was a little tenser than usual. Midoriya didn’t seem to regret his decision to reject the hero’s offer, but he had been lost in his own world as Aizawa explained to Inko why they were late. Aizawa would be having a much longer conversation with Midoriya later about everything that Toshinori had said, but for now he would let his student process. He knew how much All Might had meant to his young student. That exchange was probably more of a test to Midoriya’’s resolve than facing down Endeavor had been. He was bound to be in shock. Aizawa would have to talk to him in the morning.

When Aizawa finally got back to his apartment for the night he eased the door open, careful to avoid a waiting Leo. He leveled the cat with a flat look, but the oversized fluff ball simply rolled over, stretching out to block Aizawa’s way. With a sigh he reached down to pick him up, hefting him over his shoulder as he stepped far enough into his kitchen to close the door behind him. “You’re ridiculous. Did you know that?” Leo, of course, did not respond. “Typical.”

The moment he collapsed on his couch he was instantly surrounded. Marlo curled up with his head tucked under Aizawa’s chin. Leo hurled himself from the floor to drape himself over Aizawa’s feet. Maruand Mochi both stared at him for a moment before settling on his stomach and the back of the couch, respectively.

He really should go lie down in his bed. Maybe make sure the cats hadn’t dragged their food around half the house, but that all seemed like too much effort. He could worry about that in the morning as well. For now all he wanted to do was close his eyes and rest.

Aizawa didn’t know what time his phone started ringing, but he didn’t need to know the exact time to recognize that it was too damn early for that nonsense. The sound currently ruining the beautiful silence of his apartment wasn’t the ringtone Hizashi had recorded for himself. It wasn’t Midoriya’s blaring alarm or Inko’s soft chime either, and for a full three rings Aizawa considered how much extra trouble he might cause for himself by not answering the phone.

In the end he pushed himself off his sofa with a groan, dislodging the cats that had swapped positions during the night. Every time he fell asleep on his couch he swore he wouldn’t do it again, but each time the promise of immediate sleep spoke louder than the reminder that he would regret that choice in the morning. Promising himself that that really had been the last time, Aizawa fumbled for this phone. “Aizawa,” he answered, and if the person on the other end of the line had a problem with the gruff tone in his voice they shouldn’t have called so early in the morning.

“Aizawa-san!” The voice on the other end boomed. And that. That had not been what Aizawa had expected, even if he had known that the conversation from the night before wasn’t really over. “I’m sorry. Did I wake you?”

“I sleep in on the weekends,” Aizawa replied, heading into his kitchen. If he was going to have to be awake right now he might as well make coffee, and feed the house monsters before they became too demanding.

“Aizawa-san, it’s two in the afternoon?”

He glanced at his stove clock. “Ah. It is. Was there a reason you were calling, Yagi-san?” Let no one claim that Aizawa couldn’t be polite in the morning.

“You know I remember you,” Toshinori started, “back in your internship days. You and Yamada-san were inseparable even then, weren’t you? I had been out of Yuuei for a long while by that point, and it’s easy to forget what it’s like as a student. How quickly time seems to pass.”

This was not the conversation Aizawa had been expecting to get from Toshinori. “I wasn’t your intern, Yagi-san.”

Toshinori laughed. “No. You weren’t. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been the best mentor for you if I had been. That’s part of the reason why I’m calling, actually. I wanted to apologize for how I handled everything last night.”

“I mean no offense, Yagi-san, but I’m not the one that needs the apology.” Aizawa switched the phone to his other hand as he leaned back against the counter. “I’ve worked with Midoriya for almost two years. I don’t know what exactly Nedzu said to you or showed you, but I don’t think you have a very clear picture of the situation. If I believed for even a second that Midoriya would be in an unnecessary level of danger I would have ended our training then and there. He’s gone above and beyond to prove that he’s capable of hero work without a quirk. Will he be able to fight the type of villains you tend to get caught up with? Of course not. He knows that. That’s not his goal here.”

There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment. “I didn’t mean to imply that the work he has been doing wasn’t worth anything. It’s incredibly impressive that he’s been able to come so far in just a short period of time. I just-” A heavy sigh filtered through the line. “I know that I didn’t explain my position very well last night, but do you understand what I was trying to say? Midoriya is on a track now to make history, but there’s only so much he’s going to be able to do without a quirk. There’s only so many people that he’s going to be able to help. I’m not trying to downplay his accomplishments, but that’s the reality of our lives as heroes. I’m in the situation that I’m in now because even with a quirk like One for All it almost wasn’t enough.”

Toshinori paused, waiting to see of Aizawa would interrupt, but continued when no interjections came. “I’m not claiming to know Midoriya as well as you, but I know what he did at the mall. That tells me a lot about the kind of person he is. At the first sign of danger, he threw himself into the struggle without thinking. One day he’s going to do that and the villain isn’t going to be someone as easily beaten as the Terror Twins. I should have come to you first, I will admit that, but don’t you see how this is an opportunity for him? I can see no better successor to this power than a person who wholeheartedly wants to do good simply because it’s the right thing to do. If it ends up saving his life one day, won’t that all be worth it?”

Aizawa couldn’t help but wonder what the outcome would have been if Toshinori had approached their conversation the previous night in this manner. He had valid points. While Aizawa believed without a hint of doubt that Midoriya was capable of everything he dreamed of accomplishing as a hero and more, he couldn’t ignore the benefits that would come with having a quirk. Or the implications of such an ability. When he agreed to train Midoriya he never expected this to be the kind of decision he would have to help his student navigate. Not for the first time since they started working together Aizawa hoped that he wasn’t leading his student astray.

“There’s also the added danger that comes with it as well. Secrets like that can’t stay secret forever, Yagi-san.They build and build, and in the end someone is going to get hurt. How old were you when that legacy became your responsibility? You had to have been a child too. Did you know then what you were signing up for? The target that you would become? It’s Midoriya’s decision whether he accepts your offer or not, but in my opinion he made the right choice. His path might not be the same as every other Yuuei student, and he’s going to have a lot of obstacles to overcome, but it’s his.”

“I really did just call to apologize, Aizawa-san. I won’t push the subject with Midoriya. He has made his decision, and I respect that. I will start my search for a successor when the new school year begins. Which brings me back to my apology. Not only did I not handle the importance of this issue appropriate, I’m afraid I might have have offended you unintentionally. As I said before, I seem to forget the time that has passed. I might still remember you as that quiet intern, but you aren’t a student anymore, Aizawa-san. I wanted to ensure you that that slip up will not happen again. We are going to be colleagues this school year, but I am the one that will have much to learn. I hope that you’ll forgive an old man his habits.There are a few I’m still working on breaking, unfortunately.”

Aizawa sighed, closing his eyes. There really were too many similarities between the number one hero and his student. Both so earnest, so wrapped up in their own heads sometimes that they didn’t see what was right in front of them. Aizawa could still feel his anger from the earlier night bubbling under the surface. As well intended as Toshinori’s actions had been Aizawa had always been slow to anger and slow to forgive. Understanding the hero didn’t mean that that anger had vanished. He could push it aside for now though. For Izuku.

“Like I said,” Aizawa answered, keeping his eyes closed. Maybe he could go back to sleep and this whole mess would have simply been a dream. “I’m not the one you owe the apology too.”

Izuku had been expecting a visit from Aizawa, but when the hero had called to tell him that he wouldn’t be by until later that night he couldn’t help but be relieved. He wanted to see Aizawa. Of course he did. But he knew what his mentor would want to talk about, and Izuku wasn’t sure if he wanted that discussion brought up so soon. They would have to talk about it, he knew they would, but what was he supposed to say?

Aizawa had to have filled his mother in on the basics of why they were late, but Izuku couldn’t recall a single word that he had said. All throughout dinner he had sat silently, pushing his food around his plate as he went over what had happened again and again. All Might had offered him a quirk. His quirk. And Izuku had turned him down.

He didn’t regret his decision. Izuku may not have had the time to really think through what was happening, but in this instance he trusted his gut instinct. Maybe if he hadn’t met Aizawa, if things in his life had gone differently. Now though, he just couldn’t picture it. His dream had changed, if only a little, and he would do what he could to see it through. Even if All Might didn’t believe in him. All Might didn’t know him, not really, and there would be plenty of people who doubted him once he started at Yuuei officially. They were bound to be less polite about it than All Might had been, and probably more vocal as well. Better to get used to it now.

Izuku had just been considering what excuse he could give to Aizawa to postpone their inevitable conversation when the doorbell rang. His mother had gone to the grocery store not long ago for some last minute shopping before dinner, and Hizashi and Aizawa had long since been annoyed into simply letting themselves in when they came to visit. Inko had argued since Izuku had a key to both of their apartments it was only fair they had one to the Midoriya household as well, and did they really want to make her go through the effort of opening the door when they could do it? She didn’t think so.

Hesitating for only a second to grab his phone, Izuku crept as silently as he could towards the door. Mei would have made fun of him once again for being paranoid, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Nothing in his life could be easy, that much had long been established. Who’s to say there wasn’t a chance that a random villain had shown up at his apartment? With his track record, Izuku would have believed it.

It wasn’t a villain standing at his front door as Izuku glance through the peephole though, and he stepped back quickly to open the door. “All Might?”

“Shhh. Not so loud, my boy.” The hero stood in the same form as when he had first approached Izuku the day before-thin, pale, clothes hanging loosely off his emaciated frame. The image wasn’t any less shocking than before, and Izuku could only stand in his doorway, eyes wide, as All Might continued. “I don’t mean to come here unannounced, but I promise that I spoke to both your mother and Aizawa-san before I decided to come. Would you be okay talking to me for a moment?”

Words and his brain were not in agreement at the sight of All Might standing at his front door, so Izuku stepped out of the way and gestured for the hero to follow him inside. Well. That would explain why his mother had disappeared so suddenly. He almost wanted to be angry that she had left him alone, with no warning, but he understood why she had done it. He wouldn’t have been able to talk to All Might if she had been there watching, the pressure of too many eyes pressing down on him. And if he had known it was coming he would have worked himself up before All Might had even arrived.

Izuku headed for the kitchen without thinking and All Might followed. “Would you like a cup of tea?” He asked, busying himself with the kettle. It was easier to talk when he wasn’t looking at him. Easier to forget who was currently pulling out a chair to sit at his kitchen table. His mother had always said that a cup of tea would make any conversation better. This was as good of a test for that as any.

“That would be great, Midoriya-kun.”

They didn’t speak again until they both had a mug cooling in front of them. Izuku twisted the cup by the handle, watching the steam rise. All Might had come to him, so clearly he had something more he wanted to say. Izuku just wished he would get in with it, because every passing second his thought became more and more scattered.

“I wanted to apologize, Midoriya-kun,” All Might finally said. Izuku finally looked up to see the hero looking down at the table too, his voice quiet. “It’s no excuse, but as your teacher reminded me, I seem to get ahead of myself sometimes. My explanation last night did not...I spoke harshly, and I’m afraid that my words did not come across as I intended. Would you allow me the chance to explain better?”

“I still can’t accept your quirk,” Izuku answered. “Not after everything I’ve done.”

“That’s not why I’m here.”

If he wasn’t going to ask again...Izuku wasn’t sure how long his resolve would last if All Might pushed the issue, but if that really wasn’t why he wanted to talk to him… Izuku nodded slowly, picking up his mug so that he could feel the warmth against his skin, grounding him.

“When I was younger, I like to think that I was a lot like you, Midoriya-kun.” All Might still stared at the table as he spoke, fingers tightening around his cup. “I didn’t have your analytical skills, unfortunately, but I was stubborn. I wanted to be a hero more than anything. I wanted to know that I was making a difference in the world, that I was doing everything I could to help the people who needed it.” He looked up finally, blue eyes finding Izuku’s. “I was also quirkless.”

Izuku choked on his tea, but All Might carried on as if he hadn’t noticed.

“It wasn’t quite the same as it is now. The number of quirkless children has dropped pretty significantly from when I was a kid. Some things probably haven’t changed though. I was bullied, for lack of a better word, my a lot of my classmates. You might have noticed that I tend to make a scene?” He laughed, but it wasn’t the confidant, almost boastful laugh that Izuku had grown used to hearing on TV. “That wasn’t something that started when I got One for All. I wasn’t the only quirkless kid in my class, but I was the one targeted the most. Maybe because I was still very outspoken about still wanting to be a hero. Maybe because I was the only one that pushed back. I don’t know.”

He couldn’t picture it. A young All Might bullied for being quirkless.

“There incident at the end of middle school and, well, that’s not important. The point is, I gave up. After years of pushing, and fighting, and claiming that I was going to be a hero no matter what anyone said, I let them ruin my dream. I didn’t even apply to Yuuei for my first year of high school. Not right away. My mentor, the one that passed on One for All, she found me at the start of my first year. I still don’t know what she saw in me. What exactly made her decided that I was the one, but she gave me her quirk and I transfered into Yuuei the next year.”

All Might pushed his mug away, folding his hands in front of him as he sighed. “I know that I should have been taken more care with how I spoke to you and Aizawa-san yesterday, but it seems I let myself fall into that same rut from so many years ago. After so many years it seems that I’ve forgotten my own history. I wanted you to be my successor because I saw in you what I wished I had been, and while I still think that you would be an excellent choice for this responsibility, it wasn’t right of me to assume that my failures would be your own. The road ahead of you is going to be hard, Midoriya, I won’t lie to you about that. Accepting One for All would be the safer choice, but you’re choosing the path that I wasn’t brave enough to fight for, and there is so much for you to be proud of. So I wanted to apologize. I got caught up in the moment and let the idea of you as my successor get the better of my judgement. I saw your face, heard Aizawa-san’s reaction. I realized that I hadn’t approached the situation as I should have, and I wanted to make it right. You’ve got so much potential, Midoriya. I hope that some thoughtless words from me didn’t make you doubt that.”

Izuku stared at All Might for almost a full minute, barely breathing as he processed what the hero had said, then promptly burst into tears.

“Midoriya? Midoriya, are you okay? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean!”

The breakdown had been a long time coming after the surprises of the day before, the frustration of not knowing what was going on, the stress of his rejection keeping him up all night. Izuku would have preferred not sobbing in front of his childhood hero, but the flustered, embarrassed expression on All Might’s face as he tried to apologize had him hiccuping a laugh through the tears.

“I’m-I’m okay. You just, you’re here? And you were quirkless? And this is all too much,” Izuku said after a moment, running his sleeve across his face. “This is too much at once, and I need there to be no more surprises for a little while. I can’t process anything else. I really appreciate you coming him, All Might. It means a lot to me. But I-none of this makes sense. How did my life get like this?”

“My boy,” All Might said, leaning across the table. “This is just the beginning. Things are going to change once you get to Yuuei, but from what I can tell you won’t have to go through it alone. You have your mother, Aizawa-san. Yamada. Your friend. Hatsume? And if you’ll have me, I’ll do everything I can to help you succeed. Accepting One for All isn’t a condition for my support.”

When Inko came home half an hour later to All Might and Izuku still sitting at their kitchen table Izuku was just starting to walk him through what had really happened during the mall attack. She smiled as she watched them, setting him bags of groceries on the counter and turned to the two of them, clearing her throat to turn their attention away from Izuku’s story.

“Dinner is going to be in half an hour, Yagi-san. I hope you like katsudon. It’s Izuku’s favorite.”

All Might startled at her words, starting to stand. “I couldn’t-”

Inko smiled. “I think you’ll find, Yagi-san, that it will be easier just to agree. Saves time. Aizawa-san and Hizashi-san have both learned that lesson well. I’m sure you’ll catch on soon enough. Now what was this about Mei?”

Chapter Text

Bakugou didn’t get nervous. That fact he wanted made abundantly clear. His mother may have cooed at him that morning as he was getting ready to leave, may have teased him about how he couldn’t let his nerves get the better of him during the test, but it had been a waste of her time. As if something as useless as nerves would ever affect his performance. What a joke.

Anticipation. That had been the feeling that settled in his chest as he left the house. Not nerves. Yuuei’s entrance exams would determine the entire trajectory of his future, but there was no doubt in his mind that he would pass. Bakugou had refused his father’s suggestion to apply to other hero courses for exactly that reason. He wanted to be the best, and that meant training with the best. Yuuei would have to take him, because Bakugou refused to accept any other outcome.

He might not have been able to get Eraserhead to budge on his refusal, but Bakugou had had plenty of time to reconcile that fact. One failure, he decided eventually, had been necessary. It hadn’t even been a failure. Not in the ways that counted, at least. Eraserhead’s refusal hadn’t been a set back. It hadn’t negatively affected his chance at becoming a pro hero, and therefore it didn’t matter in the long run. Eraserhead’s style would never have worked with Bakugou’s quirk anyway. If a pro was going to work one on one with him it would be better to choose one who fought the same way Bakugou would.

Yuuei though. They would have to see Bakugou’s potential. They saw future heroes every day, saw who knows how many different quirks at every year’s entrance exam. Yuuei would be in the perfect position to see how perfect Bakugou was for their program. In a sea of subpar quirks and people who didn’t know how to take advantage of what they were given, Bakugou would stand out above everyone. He would be the obvious choice, the one to leave no doubt in their minds that he belonged in their school. The details of the test itself were consequential. He would blow through any challenge they set in front of him. Literally if he had to.

Thinking about Eraserhead reminded him that somewhere in the school, Midoriya Izuku would also be taking the academic exam. Bakugou had expected to see him when he took his seat in the crowded auditorium-not that he had been looking for him, of course-but his classmate was nowhere to be seen. They must have taken the recommendation students to another room. Start the special treatment early. That was fine with Bakugou. Once he finished his exam they would both be Yuuei students. He would beat Izuku with or without the extra attention.


They hadn’t spoken much in the last year. Bakugou had grown so used to the two of them being in the same class that he had been sure something bad had happened when he showed up to his homeroom for his last year of middle school and Midoriya Izuku hadn’t been on his class roster. He had confronted him after school that afternoon, and all Izuku had said was something about not allowing himself to stand in Bakugou’s shadow anymore, wanting to have a year to focus on getting ready for Yuuei, and other nonsense like that. But when had Izuku ever been in Bakugou’s shadow? As if his presence in the same classroom would stop Izuku from going to Yuuei. It was fucking stupid, but if that was how Izuku wanted to handle his last year of middle school there wasn’t anything Bakugou could do to stop him.

If he had wanted to. Which he didn’t.

The academic portion of the entrance exam flew by. Bakugou was one of the top students in his school, no matter how often people seemed to forget that fact, and he had made sure he was prepared for the test. He finished in half an hour, sitting back as he waited for the proctor to call time. Would he and Izuku be in the same class? Izuku had requested being in separate classes, and his argument had apparently been good enough for the school to agree. Maybe Inko or Eraserhead had been the ones to push for it. Given what they had said to him, Bakugou wouldn’t put it passed them.

He had thought a lot about what they had said over the last year. It seemed like every spare moment, every time he found his mind wandering, he would go back over what Inko and Eraserhead had said. Their words played on an almost endless loop in the back of his mind, and even after all that time he still didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to do with what they had said.

Bakugou had made mistakes, he was sure. In his limited experience all kids were idiots. He couldn’t make the assumption that he was exempt from that just because he didn’t find fault in his own actions at the time. The whole reason he had gone to Inko after talking to Eraserhead had been because he need an objective opinion. He refused to stifle his own progress because he was too scared or too proud to admit that he still had a lot to learn. Promising heroes had ruined their careers that way, and Bakugou refused to be counted among those imbeciles. He needed to be smarter than that, even if it meant admitting that he had screwed up.

But what exactly had he done wrong? Inko had talked about the way he treated others. Eraserhead had spoken about his relationship with Izuku. Those were pretty broad subjects. None of his teachers had ever found a problem with his behavior before. Now that he was more aware of the situation than he was before he could acknowledge that had probably been the result of his quirk. He had been the only one among his classmates with true potential to become a pro hero, and his teachers hadn’t wanted to do anything to interfere with that, to mess with their chance at being associated with a future pro. They were almost bigger idiots than the heroes who sabotaged their own chances, but it didn’t help Bakugou to realize that after the fact. Didn’t help him pick out what he should have done differently, what they would have called him out on if he had been anyone else.

His teachers really had done him a disservice, as Eraserhead had said, but Bakugou wouldn’t let that hold him back. He wasn’t in the habit of letting other people’s mistakes affect him. This would be no different, even if he had no idea what to do next.

The nickname had been the obvious place to start given both Eraserhead’s and Inko’s reaction to hearing it. Bakugou might have been the one to come up with it, but he certainly hadn’t been the only one to use it. There had been no chance of their teachers not hearing it. He had never thought that it might be more than a joke to Izuku. He hadn’t cared enough to consider it then, and he couldn’t claim that he particularly cared about Izuku now. They weren’t friends anymore, and Bakugou had no desire to pick up that friendship where they left off. That didn’t mean that he had to continue to use a nickname that he now knew Izuku hated. He didn’t like the nerd, and he wanted to crush every last spark of belief that Izuku held that he would ever be able to beat him, but that didn’t mean that Bakugou had to be outright malicious when it wasn’t warranted.

Bakugou wasn’t calling him Midoriya. Full stop. They weren’t friends anymore, but that hadn’t stopped Izuku from calling him ‘Kacchan.’ Bakugou wasn’t inclined to stop him, even if it suggested a closeness that they no longer shared. Which left just one option for what to call him if ‘Deku’ was off the table. Maybe Izuku would get the message and drop his childish nickname for Bakugou on his own.

As for everything else… Bakugou didn’t have to figure that out immediately. His first concern was the entrance exam. Once he had officially been admitted to Yuuei he could decide what he wanted to do about their advice. He had spent a year thinking about it. He could let it sit for a little longer. It wasn’t as though there was anything he could do with what they had told him now anyway. The exam first. Then everything else.

After the academic portion of the exam they were all ushered into a different auditorium with the rest of the potential students. Bakugou wanted them to get it all over with. They had been sitting for the last hour and a half, and now they were expected to sit again for who knows how long before jumping straight into whatever ‘challenge’ the staff had lined up for them. It wouldn’t make a difference to Bakugou, but how many of these other potentials would be negatively affected by this setup? In the end, it wouldn’t matter. Bakugou would still be the most memorable. What the other students did wouldn’t make a difference.

He listened, bored, as a one of Yuuei’s teachers described the event. Were they even trying to make this challenging? Smash a bunch of mindless robots. Maybe it would have been difficult for someone with a less physical quirk than his, but that was exactly why Bakugou was perfectly suited to become a pro. He wondered how Izuku would have done against them if he hadn’t already gotten through on recommendations. Surely Eraserhead would have given him the specifics of the test, but how would he have decided to tackle giant robots without a quirk?
Bakugou forced himself to tune back into the nonsense of the auditorium. Wondering what Izuku would have done wasn’t important because Izuku wasn’t there, and while he didn’t believe that anything said here would be worth knowing now that they had already gone over the points distribution it was a better use of his time than thinking about what ifs that would never come to pass.

Once the instructions had been given and all of the extras’ pointless questions had been answered they were divided into groups again and lead out into different arenas on the far ends of campus. That was one of the reasons Yuuei had become the powerhouse school that it was. They had the land and the money necessary to put together their elaborate exercises. Other schools couldn’t keep up. How many other schools had the extra money laying around to build an army of robots for the sole purpose of letting potential students destroy them?

As they stood clustered in front of the arena doors, Bakugou took the chance to look at the rest of the students gathered around him. He couldn’t imagine there being any real competition, but he couldn’t be the only one there with a quirk worthy of being in the hero program.

Only a few people stood out at a glance. There was a boy with flat dark hair who must have had some kind of quirk that affected his skin by the way it seemed to shift the longer they stood there. Either he had incredible control considering he seemed to be on the edge of panicking or he was manipulating his skin without realizing it. Both were interesting options.

Then there was the guy who had spoken out in the auditorium. He didn’t seem like much himself, but Bakugou would have to be an idiot not to recognize him. His resemblance to his brother was incredible. Bakugou couldn’t count out someone who came from a family of pro heroes.

Finally there was a girl who stood near the front of the crowd, just in front of the arena entrance. From where Bakugou stood he could see that she had her eyes closed, her hands templed in front of her. Nothing about her appearance hinted at what her quirk could be, but she seemed oblivious to the nervous energy around them. She was already leagues ahead of the rest of the prospects who seemed to be bogged down with their own anxieties, at the very least.

The grating sound of metal on metal had most of the group wincing as the doors to the arena slid open. Bakugou pushed his way through to the front of the crowd, his attention fully focused on the widening view of the field. As soon as the buildings came into view Bakugou grinned. He had this. Just a few minutes and his future would be locked.

Slowly they filed into the open space just inside the gates, the intercom system crackling to life around them as the doors slid closed again behind them.
“In just a few seconds a buzzer will sound and the final portion of your entrance exam will begin. The rules of this event have already been explained, but I would like to remind everyone to pay attention to their surroundings. Staff will be monitoring the exam, but we will not interfere unless absolutely necessary. The point of this exam is to see what level of control you have over your quirk and how adapt you are at applying it to unexpected circumstances. Do your best, but be aware that the danger here can be very real if you aren’t careful. Good luck.”
A heavy silence followed Nedzu’s announcement, the sound of their breathing seeming to echo through the empty city built around them, but Bakugou didn’t spare the tension any thought. The moment the buzzer sounded he was off leaving the wannabe heroes in the dust. Robots would be released from other entrances around the arena, but there was still only a limited number of them. The more he could claim for himself before the rest got their nerves under control the better.

Bakugou could feel his heart pounding as he ran, putting more and more distance between himself and the entrance with every second. This is what he had been waiting for. A chance to use his quirk to the fullest, to show what he was truly capable of outside the strict restrictions of his middle school classes. People with subtle quirks could never understand what it was like having a quirk like his. They got to use their quirks without any real consequences, without having to worry about ruining their future simply by using a gift they had been born with.

He had spent so much time wishing for the chance to be able to use his quirk, to really put it to the test. Now he had it, and he had never felt so alive. His grin only grew when his first target turned around a corner ahead of him. The temptation to blast it from that distance was almost overwhelming, but Bakugou shoved the feeling down. He needed to last until the end of the event. A large showy explosion would have felt good, but was probably the worst way the prove to the staff that he was the best choice there.

The robot lumbered towards him, green metal stark against the pale concrete. It thundered as it moved, red lights flashing bright in the afternoon sun. Bakugou didn’t slow his approach. An arm swung in his direction, but the operating system wasn’t sophisticated enough for any real accuracy. The staff wasn’t trying to hurt them. Like Nedzu had announced they wanted to see how potential students could adapt.

Sliding smoothly beside the clunky giant, Bakugou slapped a hand against the robot’s hard shell. Yuuei had made his job even easier by putting their test outside in the sun. He could already feel sweat running down the back of his neck. It didn’t take much to blast the robot into bits. Heat filled the air as he moved away, ducking to avoid a piece of debris. The robot collapsed in a useless hunk of blackened metal and melted wires behind him. A message to any of the other students that came the same way. This test had almost been made with him in mind, and Bakugou couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled up as he ran.


After that everything became a blur of fire, explosions, and wasted resources. Bakugou hadn’t bothered to keep track of his points, but he knew that he had to be in the lead. The exam would have to be ending soon. Even if he didn’t destroy all of the robots himself, the other students had started appearing, taking out whatever robots Bakugou didn’t. He almost wished that they would just keep sending them out, despite the fatigue he could slowly feel creeping in on him. He couldn’t remember the last time he had used his quirk this much, and he never wanted it to end. Was this what it would be like once he was at Yuuei? Would he always have this freedom? He hoped the answer was yes.

Bakugou had just taken out the last robot on his street when another buzzer rang through the arena. For a second he thought it was the signal for the end of the exam, but before he could even feel the disappointment of that the ground started to shake beneath his feet. Another metal on metal shriek sounded from across the arena, and Bakugou turned to see a cloud of dust rise as a robot several times larger than any of the ones before rose out of the ground.

So this was the real danger that Nedzu had been referring to.

Displaced concrete slammed into the street, shattering as it hit the ground. The robot moved much faster than the others, and glass rained down onto the street as it’s giant fist slammed into the ground sending a shockwave of air and dust flying towards them. It wouldn’t take long for it to be on top of them, knocking down the carefully constructed buildings as it forced its way through the street.

But what was the goal here? Bakugou stood still watching as the sounds of shouting filled the arena around him. Students ran, bypassing both him and the debris of robots that surrounded him, but Bakugou felt rooted in place as he stared up at the giant monstrosity that moved closer and closer. Zero points. That was what the instructor had said. Why have a robot like this in the test and make it worth zero points?

Obviously he wasn’t supposed to fight it, but that meant that Bakugou had no idea what it was that they wanted from this. Adaptability. Creativity. Control. How did those traits line up with this challenge?

He probably would have stayed there, still trying to figure out what he needed to do to pass this test, frustration mounting with every second, if he hadn’t heard the scream. Bakugou hadn’t paid attention to the other students running passed him, but he felt sure that no one besides him had stayed in the middle of the street as the zero point robot forced its way through. Someone had screamed though. Someone else had stayed.

Something in him wanted to ignore the sound. This was a test, not a group bonding activity or some garbage like that. They were all competing for a set number of places, and while Bakugou felt sure that he had anihilated the competition that didn’t mean that he had to help those competitors do better. His only concern was his score when the final buzzer sounded. None of the other competitors were his responsibility. Then the scream rang out again, the sound breaking as the person’s voice cut off suddenly.

Inko’s words, always circling in the back of his mind, pushed their way to the front of his thoughts.

Bakugou still didn’t have an answer for the questions she had posed in their short conversation. He still didn’t know what she wanted from him, what she expected, what mistakes he had made in his past that he needed to address, what this all meant for him going forward. He didn’t need to know the answers. Not yet.

Inko’s words played through one more time. Bakugou moved without thinking.

Each second that passed the robot moved closer, each hit to the ground causing more debris crashing around Bakugou as he ran, but it didn’t take him long to find the source of the scream. A mountain of rubble had landed in the next street over, pinning one of the students to the concrete. Bakugou recognized her immediately as the girl that he had seen outside the arena. She didn’t appear to be seriously injured despite the ground piled on top of her. Round face struggled to pull herself out, but Bakugou knew it was useless. There was too much for her to move by herself in that position, and the closer the robot got the more the ground shook threatening it send it all crashing down again.

Two problems, both with easy solutions.

The robot was almost completely on top of them by the time he reached her.

“I can’t get out!” The girl said, her face red.”I can’t use my quirk anymore, or else I would have been able to move this. Can you pull me out? We have to hurry, I don’t think they’re going to call it off.” She looked on the edge of passing out, but whether that was from the situation or overusing her quirk Bakugou wasn’t sure. Despite what she had said, she still pushed at the rock holding her in place, her face screwed up in concentration as she placed her hands against it. The hunk of concrete wavered for a second, but didn’t move from the pile. For her to even try to use her quirk in that condition proved that his original assessment had been right, but he didn’t have time to think about that.

Reaching out, Bakugou grabbed the girl’s hands. Another fist slammed into concrete on the street in front of them. They didn’t have much time. Even if the teachers called the test now, the robot was too close. If they didn’t get out of the way fast it would be more than just the girl’s legs pinned under the rubble.

“Push with your legs when I pull,” Bakugou growled, tightening his grip on her wrists. She would probably have bruises when this was all over with, but there was no other option, not with the robot this close to them. Using his quirk on the rubble ran the risk of catching her in the blast too. Bruises were better than being dead, at least in his book. Bakugou stepped back, pulling as the pushed at the gravel with her feet.

The robot moved closer, it’s shadow spreading across their faces and blocking out the afternoon sun. Giving one last pull, the rock pile tipped, gravel slipping as the girl finally worked her way free just as the robot pulled it’s arm back ready to deliver another punch to the ground right where they were standing.

Bakugou shoved her behind him, raising both hands in the direction of the robot. It would have been easier at the beginning of the exam, if he had those modifications he had been playing around with adding to his suit when he finally got to start at Yuuei, but the sun and exertion would have to be enough. The fist fell towards them, and Bakugou watched as it grew closer and closer. He wouldn’t be able to do this twice. It would take all the energy he had left and then some, but the moment the fist was in striking distance Bakugou set off the largest explosion he had left.

Fire rocketed out between them, a wave of heat washing over them as the blast knocked the fist off target and into the neighboring building. Glass shattered as the hit connected, the sound drowning out everything but the pounding of his heartbeat in his chest.

“Look out!” The girl yelled, slamming into him. They fell hard, a slab of concrete and window crashing into the ground where Bakugou had been standing. His head cracked against the ground and then everything went black.

Chapter Text

“He did what?”

Izuku waited until Mei looked up, her eyes refocusing from the mass of metal and wires that she had spread out across the table in front of her. They had been sitting in Natsumi’s basement workshop for the better part of two hours and Izuku still had no idea what exactly his best friend had been working on. The grin that spread across Mei’s face every time he asked led him to believe that he was probably better off not knowing for the time being.

“I really wish I had more details, but that was all Aizawa-sensei could tell. Mainly because it wasn’t anything I couldn’t have figured out on my own if I had been interested enough to look. It was an official test, so anything else would be an invasion of privacy, a breach in his professional ethics, and all of that. I’m pretty sure Hizashi-san was going to tell me anyway, but Aizawa-sensei cut him off before he could.”

Mei set the tool she had been working with down, resting her head against the palm of her hand as she picked at an exposed wire. “I haven’t met Bakugou yet, a fact that I’m sure he’s glad of even if he doesn’t know it yet, but that doesn’t seem like something he would do from everything you’ve told me about him. Are we sure that it was actually him?”

Shrugging, Izuku picked up one of Mei’s discarded tools, twirling the metal rod between his fingers as he considered how to answer. “Aizawa-sensei wouldn’t have told me about this if he wasn’t sure. Apparently Nedzu noticed the. Well. The tension, I guess, between us after the whole kidnapping thing. He’s planning on putting us in the same class this year. Aizawa thinks it’s a trap, although he’s not exactly sure what Nedzu has to gain from it Especially since we haven’t had a real conversation since my mom made sure we were in different classes this year.”

“And he just pulled some girl he didn’t know from the wreckage? Didn’t harass her first or anything?” Maybe it had been a bad idea to tell Mei everything that had happened between him and Bakugou, in hindsight. They hadn’t officially met yet, but the look on Mei’s face as she spoke said enough to make it clear that she had already decided that Bakugou Katsuki wasn’t worth her time. Knowing Izuku’s luck they were bound to meet in some explosive way, but whether that would be because of Bakugou’s quirk or Mei’s inventions was still up for debate. All Izuku could hope was that he was far away from the inevitable showdown. He had promised Aizawa that he would try to go at least a month before causing irreparable damage to school property, and any fight between his best friend and his past best friend/tormentor was bound to end with someone taking a trip to see Recovery Girl.

“He wasn’t even on the same street as her when she was caught. He just heard her yell and went to help. Aizawa-sensei said he was the only one that stayed behind. A couple of other people helped some students on the way out but… It was the highest combined score they’ve had on the exam in years, and I am so confused.” Izuku stopped the motion of the metal, tightening his grip on the tool in his hand. “I mean, I’m glad that he’s changed, if that’s really what’s going on here. We don’t need any more bullies praised as heroes just because they have a powerful quirk. I just don’t understand what made him do it, and it’s not like I could ask him. I can just imagine how that conversation would go. ‘Hey, Kacchan, why aren’t you as big of an asshole as you used to be?’ That would definitely go over well.”

“I mean. I could always-” Nope, nope. Better to cut that train of thought of before Mei became too committed to the idea of confronting Bakugou.

“I appreciate it. Really, you know I do,” Izuku said, “but I think that I need to wait and just see how all of this plays out. Maybe he’s changed, maybe he hasn’t. Nedzu is going to put us in the same class either way. Aizawa-sensei will make sure that whatever happens doesn’t get out of hand. I won’t say anything to him about everything that happened-at the exam and at school- and if he doesn’t bring it up then it’s all fine.

Mei didn’t seem convinced, but she didn’t try to argue with him either, pulling her goggles down over her face as she turned her attention back to the project at hand. “Just know that I have plenty of babies that need a test run. I’ll be glad to volunteer Bakugou’s services as my dummy. I’m sure he would fit the role perfectly.”

“It’ll be fine, Mei. I promise. I have all of those lovely inventions of yours to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Now what are you working on?”

“Oh this?” Mei asked, grinning up at him again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Izuku. I’m not working on anything. We’ve just been down here talking, haven’t we?” Sparks flew as she tugged at a wire, but the grin on her face didn’t slip as she waited for him to answer. Izuku raised his hands in surrender.

“Nevermind. I don’t think I want to know.”

“Plausible deniability, Izuku. Plausible deniability. So which recommendation students do you think will be in your class?” Izuku let the conversation drift. Mei would tell him what she was working on when she was ready.

Not too long ago Izuku would have said his first official day at Yuuei was still forever away. He had been dreaming of it for so long, even before he decided to track down Aizawa, and it had felt like the day was never going to come. Now here he was. The night before his first official day as a Yuuei student. It still didn’t feel real.

Izuku had over a year to become accustomed to the fact that he would be entering Yuuei as a recommendation student and it hadn’t seemed to fully sink in until that now. During the demonstrations Izuku had been more focused on his nerves and not making a fool of himself in front of all of the people who thought that he didn’t have a right to be at Yuuei at all, let alone given the opportunities that would come by getting in on recommendations. Now though, with all of that behind him, he couldn’t help but think of the challenges that he would still have to face.

He almost wished he had been able to take the entrance exam as well. At least then he would have some proof to show to his classmates that he did deserve to be there. Nedzu had said that he recorded Izuku’s test against Aizawa’s old class, but Izuku doubted that he would let Izuku have it simply to make his life easier. The principal seemed to run games within games, and from what Aizawa and Hizashi had told him making Izuku prove himself to his classmates seemed like just the kind of test Nedzu would find entertaining. Izuku wondered what he thought of their plan keep his connection to Aizawa and Hizashi quiet for the time being. Whether they were disrupting whatever plans he had or playing right into his hands.

It would be hard not acting familiar with them after all this time. Izuku had gone to Aizawa’s apartment looking for a teacher, but he hadn’t counted on the way his mother seemed to adopt anyone she felt wasn’t being appreciated properly. In hindsight he maybe should have seen it coming, but now he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have Aizawa over for dinners or movies or whatever else they were doing that week. Hizashi adopting Izuku too had been just as unexpected, but where Aizawa went Hizashi followed(and vice versa). Inko had not been opposed to bringing one more into their family.

Izuku understood the reasoning for the deception, of course. They weren’t planning on keeping it a secret forever, but there would be plenty of people opposed to a quirkless student in the hero course without adding the accusations of favoritism to the mix. Anyone who knew about the connection between Aizawa, Hizashi, and Izuku had signed an agreement not to disclose that information. As long as they were careful no one should find out until they were ready to share that information themselves. Izuku would have the chance to prove that he deserved to be there on his own merit. He just hoped that he didn’t waste it. Or give the mentorship away by laughing at Aizawa’s blunt brand of sarcasm.

And then there was the issue of All Might. Yagi Toshinori. Izuku still couldn’t keep it straight in his head. His mother had done what she does best and pulled Toshinori into her circle of dinners and care packages, but it was clear the hero still didn’t feel quite at ease with the situation. Izuku didn’t blame him for the disastrous route their initial meeting had gone-Toshinori had made it clear that he hadn’t meant to offend Izuku or Aizawa in his offer- but he couldn’t help but feel that despite his words Toshinori still hoped that Izuku would change his mind.

He wouldn’t, of course. That ship had sailed a long long time ago. Being a hero in the same way as All Might wasn’t what he wanted anymore. All Might would figure that out eventually. There would be a whole class of upcoming heroes-to-be. All Might could find his successor among them, Izuku was sure. If Toshinori meant what he said about supporting Izuku any way he could, then he would look. Izuku wasn’t going to be changing his mind. Toshinori would have to accept it.

If Aizawa had been unsure about Inko bringing Toshinori into their already established circle he didn’t voice his complaints to either Izuku or his mother, but their conversations were still difficult. Hizashi wasn’t oblivious to the tension between them, but he had fallen in line with Inko almost immediately. Aizawa’s problem with Toshinori, he had explained to Izuku quietly one night as Aizawa helped Inko clear the table, wasn’t as simple as his accidental insults. Aizawa Shouta took his job as a teacher extremely seriously, and when Nedzu had first announced that All Might would be joining the staff as a teacher for the incoming first years Aizawa had immediately listed some concerns-primarily the fact that All Might had zero credentials or teaching experience. He had been overruled, of course, but this latest incident hadn’t done much to assuage the doubts that Aizawa had already possessed.

How could he be left in charge of the safety and teaching of children when he had never done anything like that before? Hizashi seemed to share Aizawa’s concern in that regard. “I didn’t go back and get degrees in English and Lit for no reason, Izuku. I hate homework as much as my students,” Hizashi had said. “Nedzu has been trying to get All Might to agree to being a teacher for several years now. Things like degrees and certifications didn’t seem to matter as much in comparison to his actual experiences, but I see where Shouta is coming from. I’ve talked to Toshinori though. He knows he can come to either of us if he needs help getting used to being in a classroom. Shouta may not be happy with the decision to let him teach, but he won’t turn him away if he genuinely wants to learn.”

All things considering, it was probably a good thing that the number one hero wouldn’t be making an appearance at dinner tonight though. Inko may have been determined to clear the air between them all before the start of the school year, but it was obvious that it wasn’t going to be as easy as she had expected. Awkwardness from his awful attempt at offering help aside, Toshinori didn’t seem to have that many people skills in general. He fumbled when Inko tried to draw him into conversation and every invitation, no matter how many times Inko asked, was always met with the same level of surprise and confusion as if he wasn’t quite used to people wanting him around outside of his persona as a hero. All Might may have fans across the country, but Izuku couldn’t help but wonder how many people actually knew and appreciated Yagi Toshinori. It couldn’t be that many from the way he reacted at every simple kindness Izuku or Inko offered, and it made Izuku sad to think that his once upon idol had been alone all this time.

Toshinori didn’t deserve that. The few times that they had managed to have him over he had seemed so happy to be included. This issue between Aizawa and Toshinori would have to be solved. Izuku would need to take a more active role in figuring out a way to make everything work out if Inko’s continued attempts to bridge the gap between them all continued to be ineffective, but there wasn’t anything he could do about that at the moment. Because he was starting at Yuuei tomorrow. The school he had been dreaming about since he was old enough to understand its importance. Izuku could only deal with so much at a time and he was already at his limit nerves wise.

Aizawa and Hizashi would be a welcome distraction, if only they would get there already. Instead Izuku was left to go over the same useless questions again and again. Mei had put it in his head initially, and Izuku would gladly put all of the blame on her. Bakugou was a given, but who else would be put in Izuku’s class? Had Nedzu stuck with whatever method he usually used to divide the classes up, or had he done something specifically to set up whatever he had planned. If he had anything planned. Aizawa’s paranoia might be more catching than Izuku had originally thought.
Izuku had asked all both Aizawa and Hizashi about his future classmates, but they had both refused to answer. He knew that he would be in Aizawa’s homeroom, that had been a given from the very start, but he had no idea what other students would be in his class. For the first time in two years Izuku wouldn’t be getting premade profiles on all of the incoming first years. Unfair advantages, Aizawa had claimed. Izuku knew that his mentor was right. If he wanted profiles on his classmates this year he was going to have to make them himself. A new notebook had been added to his backpack for that very purpose, but it would make Izuku feel just a little better to know the other recommendation students in his class at the very least.

If he were being honest, Izuku wasn’t sure who he preferred. Kendou and Yaoyorozu had both seemed nice. He hadn’t spoken to Honenuki enough to have an opinion about him either way. And Todoroki? Izuku had explain what had happened to Mei and she had been just as baffled as Izuku. While that gave him hope that it hadn’t just been his lack of people skills that caused Todoroki’s cold responses it still didn’t help him figure out what to do about it. Or whether he needed to do anything about it at all.

Maybe Todoroki was just shy or nervous. Maybe that was simply his personality. It was possible that there was someone who had worse social skills then Izuku, after all. Highly unlikely at this point, but still possible. It was another potential problem that fell in the category of thing that Izuku couldn’t address at the moment. Todoroki might not even be in his class, and if he was… Izuku would have to pay attention. He knew what it felt like to have no friends, knew what it felt like to try to convince himself he didn’t need them. Mei had been one of the best things to come from tracking down Aizawa that day. It was something to think about at the very least.

Izuku heard the door open and close from his room, the sound of Hizashi’s booming laughter clear through his closed door.

“Izuku!” Hizashi called. “I need you to come and prove Shouta wrong!” Aizawa answered, his voice too low for Izuku to make out individual words, but Hizashi laughed again. “We both know I’m really his favorite. Izuku wouldn’t lie to me.”

Perfect timing. Spending a few hours watching his mother try to referee Aizawa and Hizashi’s banter would be the best distraction. Tomorrow he would go to Yuuei and deal with his classmates and the criticism, Nedzu’s potential scheming and Toshinori’s well meaning attempts at helping. Tonight he could have one more night of calm before the storm.

Grinning before he even opened the door, Izuku called out, “Whatever Hizashi-san said is right!”

“See! Izuku knows I’m always right!”

Chapter Text

Izuku had been by Yuuei’s campus several times before his first official day of classes, but he had never taken the train there. He had never made the journey there by himself before. Aizawa and Hizashi had wished him luck the night before, and while both would be at his house again for dinner to hear all about his first day, Izuku couldn’t help but wish that he had been able to go with them to class the first morning. Hizashi, as was their yearly tradition before the first day of school, had been staying over at Aizawa’s. It would have been so easy to meet them there before heading to campus.

That would have defeated the purpose of keeping their mentorship a secret though. Aizawa probably would have let him stay over as well, even if it meant intruding on their yearly traditions, but Izuku had refused to ask. He needed to make a place for himself at Yuuei. He couldn’t hide behind Aizawa and Hizashi, especially if he was trying to keep his connection to the two of them a secret. So train it was, even if Izuku spent the entire ride thinking about all the ways this day could backfire in his face. Being the only quirkless student in the hero program had seemed amazing when he wasn’t actually having to attend classes, but now that the distraction of his family was gone the same troubles from the night before ran in circles in his mind as the train brought him closer and closer to the school grounds with every second.

Aizawa had done everything he could to prepare Izuku for this day, would continue to work with him outside of classes, but the whole point of Yuuei’s program was to push potential heroes as hard as they could to prepare them for pro work, and Izuku would not be except from that simply because he started with a disadvantage. This would be the hardest three years of his school career, and he had to do everything he could to make it all count.

Pulling the the chain around his neck that held the charms Hizashi had given him before the demonstrations, Izuku forced his mind away from the unending questions focused on the conversation that he had had with Aizawa before the two teachers had headed out for the night. Hizashi had been down the hall explaining to Inko his new theory about the drama they had been marathoning when Aizawa had pulled him aside.

For a moment they had simply started at each other, Aizawa eyes hooded by his long hair. Izuku was grateful once again for the reminder that communication was something that his mentor still struggled with as well. It was something else, besides their instinct to throw themselves head first into danger for the sake of others, that had allowed them to connect over the last two years. Izuku waited, watching, as Aizawa gathered his thoughts, his expression still characteristically blank until he hesitated, just for a second, before starting to speak. When he finally spoke his words were soft enough that only Izuku could hear, although he doubted Inko and Hizashi would be trying to eavesdrop. The two couldn’t have been more obvious in their attempt to give Izuku and Aizawa space if they tried.

“You don’t need to be worried about tomorrow, Izuku,” Aizawa said. “You’ve worked hard for this. You deserve it.”

Izuku wouldn’t deny that he had worked hard. Everything he had done for the last two years had been to move him towards that goal. To deserve it. But getting an opportunity and earning it were two very different things, and in the eyes of his classmates what had he done to deserve this chance? Nothing that they would be able to see on that first day. Whispers and rumors had always been a part of school for him. The quirkless kid who wanted to be a hero. The quirkless kid who just didn’t know when to quit.

Was this how it was always going to be? A long time ago Izuku had said that he didn’t let other people’s words define him, and it had been the truth. That didn’t mean that their words didn’t affect him though. That their taunts didn’t latch onto some hidden part in his mind waiting for the moments when he had almost forgotten the hurt to surge forward as an unwelcome reminder of all the reasons he hadn’t been enough in their eyes. He knew it was stupid to let their words get to him after everything he had been through, but his self confidence only seemed to make an appearance when staring down villains or heroes whose egos were as ridiculous as their fake beards. In the quiet moments he struggled to muster that same level of feeling.

Aizawa had seen the doubt on his face and placed both hands on his shoulders. “You do deserve it,” he repeated, a slow wide smile spreading across his face. “Do you think I would have been wasting my time these last two years if you didn’t?”

“But what if-”

“Stop. No hypotheticals tonight.” Aizawa’s smile dropped again, his expression turning serious once more as Izuku still fidgeted in front of him.

“Things will be different once classes start. It will get harder, and you’re going to have to deal with people questioning why you’re there, but you won’t be alone. Each and every one of those students is going to have to prove themselves to us, to their classmates, to themselves. Your classmates might have the advantage when it comes to their quirks, but I haven’t invested so much into you to let you go it alone now. Hizashi isn’t going anywhere either. You told me once that you didn’t need a quirk because you knew how to think, how to see people, how to pull their weaknesses apart, and you were right.”

Aizawa poked him gently in the chest as he spoke, a physical weight added to the heaviness in his tone. “You’re going into this with more knowledge and experience than any of your classmates. Remember that, and don’t think for a second that you don’t deserve this.”

Everything had seemed so simple in the moment as Aizawa had spoken, but all it had taken was a few hours of restless sleep and a school uniform to wash away the confidence that Aizawa’s words had coaxed back into him.

Overhead the name of his stop scrolled passed, and Izuku picked up his bag from the ground. The Eraserhead backpack he had carried for the last two years replaced by solid black. Pulling at the chain still tucked under his shirt, Izuku took a deep breath. Yuuei might be the most competitive school in the country, but it was still only a school with students who were just as worried as he was. There was no reason to panic before he absolutely had to.

Media crowded the barrier around Yuuei’s main gate. Izuku stood back at the edge of the crowd watching the chaos, glad that he had planned on getting there as early as possible. News coverage of Yuuei’s first day had always been something that he had looked forward to in the past, but he hadn’t really considered what it was like on the other side of the camera until he had been admitted himself.

As the top hero school in the country everyone was interested in both the returning students as well as the first years who would be trying to make their mark. It was never too early to start discussing Yuuei’s famous Sports Festival and no one wanted to miss a glimpse of the student who would eventually take home the championship. Nedzu, Izuku knew, would have been able to clear the crowd out if he had wanted too, but Yuuei needed the publicity and most would give up by the end of the first week anyway.

It did make getting to classes a bit of a hassle though, and Izuku wished that he had been allowed to take one of the other entrances. Aizawa had tried to fight Nedzu on that, but the principal had been adamant. Everyone took the main gate the first week of school. As long as no one was injured he didn’t see the problem in giving the media a little bit of what they wanted. As long as it furthered his goals, of course.

Izuku could see his point, in a way, but the crowd gathered outside the gates seemed a bit excessive. Did Nedzu really expect his students to fight their way through to the guard in order to show their ID?

“You might want to get a move on, kid,” a voice said to Izuku’s left. Startled, Izuku turned to see a reporter smiling down at him, a small notebook tucked under their arm.

“What?” Izuku had hoped that if he stood far enough away from the crowd he wouldn’t be noticed until he was ready, but apparently he hadn’t been the only one to think of that.

“Only amateurs would stand that close to the barricade,” the journalist continued. “But even they are bound to notice you eventually. That uniform isn’t doing you any favors, Midoriya Izuku, and the rest of those vultures aren’t going to be kind enough to warn you before they attack.”

This was exactly why Izuku couldn’t have gone to school with Aizawa and Hizashi this morning, but Izuku still wished they were there to help him navigate this inevitable minefield. “You know who I am?”

“Sure,” they shrugged. “I do my homework unlike some people. Midoriya Izuku, the mysterious recommendation student. No one knows who your sponsor is and no one seems to know what your quirk is either. Nedzu seems especially tight lipped on the subject.” The grin turned sharp. “Care to make a comment?”

Izuku once again felt relieved for Aizawa’s paranoia because even though they hadn’t planned for this exact situation- getting ambushed outside the gates on the first day of classes- the official story had been drilled into his head enough that he could answer without hesitation.

“My sponsor wishes to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. As for my quirk-There’s not one listed because I don’t have one. That should have been included in my file as well though.”

“Oh it was, but I’m sure you can understand my need to double check that the information was accurate. Trust, but verify and all that.” The reporter paused, looking at Izuku of the rim of tortoiseshell glasses. “Interesting story, I bet, about how you managed to get in on recommendations. Yuuei is known for only taking the best of the best.”

“I’m still a student,” Izuku said, stepping away from the reporter and towards the crowd gathered around Yuuei’s gates, “and I don’t think you’re supposed to be talking to me without a school representative present. Or my guardian. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get to class. Being late on the first day of the year is probably not a great idea.”

Izuku turned but the reporter grabbed his arm before he could move farther away, shoving a business card into his hand. “You seem like a smart kid, and you’ve got be have some kind of skill to make it this far. I don’t need to tell you the kind of criticism you’re going to face while you’re here. It would help if you had a friend in the media in case things go south. When things go south. The fame of pro heroes is a fickle thing, Midoriya Izuku, and not everyone likes the way the current quirk system works. I’m not asking for an exclusive, just...keep that in mind. And good luck.”

Shoving the card into the front pocket of his bag, Izuku turned without another word. He would have to tell Aizawa and Hizashi what had happened, but for now he needed to figure out how to get through the crowd before he really was late. Not even he would get a pass if he really was late to Aizawa’s homeroom.

Fighting through the media and getting onto campus took just as long as Izuku had expected. By the time he reached the main building where most of their classes would be held he had only a few minutes to reach his classroom. It was a good thing that he had been to the campus before or he might never have found it on time. The door to the classroom still stood open, a hum of voices audible from the hallway.

Aizawa cleary hadn’t entered the room yet, but knowing him he would want to make sure that his entrance was as dramatic and impactful as possible. People always wondered how the friendship between the quiet hero and Hizashi worked when they seemed like such opposite personalities, but Izuku had been around them both enough to know that they were more similar than either of them liked to let on. Whether Aizawa’s particular brand of dramatics had always existed or whether he had picked it up from Hizashi, Izuku couldn’t be sure but the effect was the same. His classmates weren’t likely to forget their first homeroom meeting for a long time.

Stopping just outside the door, Izuku closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He was finally at Yuuei, finally about to meet his classmates. Everything that he had been doing for the last two years had been leading to this moment. So many things depended on this moment, on his first impression, on his classmates, on-

“Are you lost?” A voice said behind him. “I can help you find where you’re going if you need it, but you’re blocking the hallway. Other students need to be able to reach their classes.”

Despite the offer of help, the words sounded cold. This couldn’t possibly be one of his classmates, could it? Izuku didn’t want to think about all the ways this conversation could end up causing problems for him in the future. In fact, all he wanted to do was push pass the nerves and step into his classroom. Unfortunately not responding would probably have the same outcome as whatever anxiety induced rambling he knew he would fall into as soon as he turned around.

“That really isn’t necessary,” Izuku started. “I’m sorry I was blocking your way. This is my classroom.” He turned, backing slowly towards the open door. “I was just… preparing myself, you know? Big day, important moment. Savoring the last break before whatever is thrown at us today. I didn’t mean to get in the way.”

The person behind him was definitely a student and not a teacher like he had been hoping. A first year by the looks of it. He looked at Izuku through a pair of square glasses, his expression serious. From the way he stood at the edge of the hallway, back straight and eyes narrowed, Izuku got the impression that he was used to being listened to. Whether that was because of the strength of his quirk or some other reason Izuku had no way of knowing, but whatever the reason it wouldn’t help his situation at all to make an enemy on the first day.

“Nerves and all that,” Izuku continued ducking his head. “I’m Midoriya Izuku. Are you also in class 1-A?”

The boy tilted his head and for a second his hair looked almost blue in the light. A physical manifestation of his quirk or a trick of the light? Since the spread of quirks it wasn’t uncommon for people to have different hair colors that were in no way connected to their ability, but sometimes they could be connected. Now wasn’t really an appropriate time to ask though, considering the severe expression on the boy’s face.

“Iida Tenya. And yes I am also in class 1-A. Although I’m glad that you aren’t lost, class will be starting soon. Would you allow me into the room, please?”

Nodding, Izuku moved out of the way letting Iida pass. “Really am sorry about that,” Izuku said again. “I’ll be more mindful in the future.”

Iida gave him one last appraising look before nodding as well before disappearing into the classroom.

Okay. So that hadn’t gone as badly as he had been anticipating. One classmate down, only eighteen more to meet. Gathering himself together Izuku followed Iida’s lead and stepped into the classroom.

Most of the class seemed to have arrived already, milling about their desks while they waited for their homeroom teacher to arrive. A few of the closest students looked up as Izuku entered the room but they quickly returned to either their conversation or staring at their desk. Only three of the students looked familiar, but that was what he had expected. Another downfall of not taking the entrance exam. He hadn’t been able to make any friends or scope out his future competition. He wondered whether Mei had already arrived at campus. She might have as much experience with friends as he did, but he didn’t doubt that she would find a group of followers quickly.

The first person that Izuku noticed was Bakugou. He sat by the window, an empty desk that Izuku was going to go ahead and assume was bound to be his behind him. Bakugou had turned to look when Izuku had entered with the rest of them, meeting Izuku’s eyes for a second before his gaze slid away again, attention going back to the courtyard outside. Their relationship would never be good again, would never go back to the way that it had been before Bakugou’s quirk had manifested and Izuku’s hadn’t, but a year apart had given him perspective. According to Aizawa’s story about the entrance exam it might have done the same for Bakugou was well.

Izuku still had no idea how to handle their relationship with the changed dynamic. While they would never be friends again they still had to work together as classmates. Would Bakugou reference their shared history? Izuku didn’t expect to receive an apology from his former friend-that might be a little too much growth to expect from him at this point in time- but would he even acknowledge Izuku at all? He didn’t want to let Bakugou set the stage for them, but Izuku still wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted from him. Hopefully Aizawa’s first day plan would keep them busy enough that he would have time to feel the situation out before he had to make a decision.

The other two people were, of course, his fellow recommendation students. No one spoke to him as he made his way to his desk so he had to assume that they didn’t recognize him as the mysterious fifth student to get in without an exam. From the not so subtle looks that continued to be shot in both Todoroki and Yaoyorozu’s directions they were not quite so lucky. Todoroki seemed completely zoned out to the whispers around him, his eyes trained on the notebook in front of him. He didn’t look up with other students entered the room, and Izuku had to wonder again whether that was because of nerves or lack of caring. Yaoyorozu on the other hand smiled at Izuku when she noticed him watching her. Despite not talking to her during the demonstration she gave him a small way which he was quick to return.

When Izuku approached the desk behind Bakugou he saw his name written across the top in Aizawa’s neat script. His mentor wouldn’t have put Izuku by Bakugou willingly, so this had to have been another move by the principal. He hoped he wouldn’t have to spend the next three years balancing his school work with figuring out the tests and traps Nedzu had put in place for him. Whether this decision had been made to test Izuku or force him and Bakugou to work out whatever issues still remained between them, he was sure that Aizawa hadn’t appreciated the interference. Izuku predicted some rearranged seating charts in the near future either way.

Bakugou didn’t look up or speak as Izuku sat down and Izuku made no attempt to start a conversation on his own. They would have to talk at some point, that was unavoidable, but the longer he could postpone it the better. Izuku had just started to unpack his bag when someone else entered the room calling, “Bakugou-kun!”

Izuku looked up to see a girl with short brown hair and a bright expression waving at the boy in front of him. She closed the door behind her as she entered, heading straight for them. Izuku barely had a chance to wonder if this was the girl from the exam (It had to be. Why else did she seem unafraid of the closed off expression on Bakugou’s face?) before she was beside them.

“Uraraka,” was all Bakugou said in greeting, his voice low, but the girl didn’t seem deterred.

“I was hoping that we would be in the same class. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you after the exam.”

“You don’t need to thank me,” Bakugou said, and that was a tone that Izuku was familiar with. Self satisfied with a touch of pride.

“Oh, I wasn’t going to thank you,” Uraraka said, hands on her hip. Her expression had dropped a little at Bakugou’s words, but she continued on. “I saved you too, after all. I think we can call that even.”

Bakugou huffed. Izuku expected him to point out that he wouldn’t have needed saving if it hadn’t been for her, for him to get angry at what she had said, but he just stared at her. Waiting.

“Was there a reason you wanted to talk to me then?”

“Just nice to see a familiar face, that’s all. I’m sure we’ll get the chance to talk more later, now that we’re in the same class.”

The bell rang as she finished speaking and Uraraka smiled. “I look forward to getting to know you this year, Bakugou-kun.”

Everyone started towards their seats now, the hum of whispers going silent as attention focused on the classroom door. Uraraka might have closed the door out of habit, but Izuku knew it would work perfectly for whatever dramatic entrance Aizawa had planned for them, and he struggled to keep the grin off his face.

This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

Every second that passed, the whispers grew. When would their homeroom teacher arrive? Would he be as strict as the rumors had claimed? Could he really have expelled his entire class last year? His classmates argued quietly, and Izuku struggled to keep his expression clear, his eyes focused on his notebook in front of him. He needed to get himself under control before Aizawa arrived or someone was going to notice that he found this whole situation extremely amusing.

Someone had just suggested that maybe their homeroom teacher had changed since Aizawa hadn’t arrived yet when the door flew open with a bang, the students sitting closest to the door jumping at the unexpected sound. Aizawa stood in the doorway, his eyes moving across the class. He met Izuku’s gaze for a moment, the corner of his mouth twitching into what the rest of the class was sure to see as a smirk before stepping fully into the room and taking his place at the podium.

Aizawa watched the class for another moment, gauging their reaction to him as they watched him back. Izuku tried to see Aizawa the way the rest of them must be seeing him, but it was difficult to remember what he had thought when he first entered Aizawa’s apartment. The shock and excitement he had felt when Aizawa agreed to train him had overwhelmed every other feeling that day.

As it was, his mentor stood still at the front of the classroom, slouched behind the podium. If Hizashi could see him, Izuku was sure that he would give his fellow pro hero a lecture about the power of a first impression despite the fact that they both knew Aizawa didn’t care to be anyone but himself. Looking passed the surface of their teacher’s gruff exterior would be their first test. If they couldn’t learn not to make judgements based on appearances then they had no business being pro heroes in the first place.

Keeping their connection a secret would definitely be harder than he had anticipated.

Despite that first twitch of a smirk, Aizawa didn’t seem to be having the same problem, though. He kept his expression as clear as he had that first day Izuku had shown up at his apartment, no spark of recognition or hinted smile to be seen. Izuku refused to be the reason their plan failed, and forced himself to look just over Aizawa’s shoulder. Without a quirk, his reactions could mean the difference between failure and success. Better to work on schooling his features now, when the consequences of discovery were relatively low stake, than later when a misplaced glance could mean somebody’s life.

“I’m sure that you all have heard my reputation by now,” Aizawa started as he stepped behind the podium. “Rumors and gossip have no place in our classroom. You are here to learn, and none of the staff will be going easy on you because you feel that you have gotten the short end of the straw by being placed in my homeroom.”

He glanced around the room again, taking in their initial reactions to his words. “Let’s settle this matter now, so that it doesn’t distract from the lessons to come. Yes. I did expel all of my first year homeroom last year and much my homeroom the year before. No, I did not do it because I hate children or I was on a power trip or whatever other nonsense that has been spread among the students in the time since.”

Some of the students shifted in their seats, and Izuku had to wonder what other rumors had been spread about Aizawa and his methods. Having met some of those expelled students, Izuku understood exactly why Aizawa had made the decisions that he had. If anyone had been on a power trip it had been those first years, and they would have eventually got themselves or someone else seriously injured because of it. The other students didn’t have the luxury of that knowledge though, and their opinion of Aizawa as a teacher had been tainted before they even stepped into his classroom.

Izuku had ignored the whispers because he knew there wasn’t anything he could do about them without explaining how he knew they weren’t true, but he hoped that their misconceptions would be put to right soon. Aizawa deserved a class that gave him the respect that he had earned, even if they didn’t know it yet. Maybe Izuku’s year would be the first year that no one was expelled. Looking around the room before the bell had rung, he didn’t think it was likely, but still. Maybe.

“Yuuei has the most recognized hero program in the country, and the difficulty of the entrance exam reflects the level of expectations placed on our students each year,” Aizawa continued,” but that exam is meant to gauge potential only. What you do with that potential is up to you. Should you decide to remain in this track and graduate with a license in three years there will come a time when people’s lives will depend on you. The students in my previous classes did not take this responsibility as seriously as they should, believing that they could skate through the rigor of this course through innate talent and sheer dumb luck alone.”

Aizawa may not be one for words on a regular basis, choosing to leave such declarations to Hizashi instead, but he always seemed to know what to say when it mattered. Every eye in the room was trained firmly on Aizawa, their attention locked as he stepped around the podium.

“I am telling you now that it is not enough. You will need to work harder than you ever have before, treating every practical and opportunity you are given with the care that it deserved. I understand that you are only first years and that this will be an adjustment from what you are used to, but I have given this advice to my students every year and every year there are those who allowed themselves to be caught in the lies of their own arrogance. If being a pro hero is something that you truly desire, do not let yourselves be counted among that number. Are there any questions?”

Aizawa seemed pleased by the silence, although Izuku felt sure that no one else in the room noticed. “On a related note,” he continued, “the rough design for your uniform and any other equipment you will require is due by the end of the week. If you have a preference in the company that provides your equipment make sure that you make a note of that on your sheet as well. Keep in mind that all designs must be approved by Yuuei’s Committee of Student Safety. Uniforms that consider style over use and protection will not pass their inspection. Do not waste their time by sending them designs that do not take the functionality of your quirk into account.”

This had been another of Aizawa’s pet peeves over the years. Being well liked by the public was one way that pro heroes made their living, but those who put popularity over safety hardly ever saw actual danger once they were discovered, and they set a bad example for incoming students to hero programs who did not know enough to consider the safety measures that should be incorporated into their uniforms. Like his speech about responsibility, Aizawa had tried to make it clear that these restrictions were set in place for the students’ safety and every year there was always the complaint that he did it simply because he could. The number of ways that people almost intentionally misunderstood Aizawa’s motivations were baffling.

“Now. There is no point in spending today going over my expectations for you in this program. Instead, we’re going to be moving on to a practical demonstration. Leave your things. You won’t need them. We’re going to be taking a trip outside.”

Izuku had known that this test was coming. Aizawa had made sure to warn him about what he had planned. If anyone in his class was going to have a problem with him getting accepted on recommendations then this task was likely the time they would feel comfortable enough in their own abilities to let it known. As they changed into their gym clothes and headed out to the open, grassy area behind Yuuei’s main buildings, Izuku kept his eyes on his classmates, trying to get a feeling for what their reactions would be.

Todoroki and Yaoyorozu already knew that he did not have a quirk, but his status as the fifth recommendation student had been kept quiet. The journalist outside had confirmed that there had been no leaks about his quirkless status either. Most of his classmates had seemed friendly enough, but would that change when he explained how he had been accepted? He wanted to think that it wouldn’t, but experience had taught him not to expect much in the way of support. Bakugou, at least, didn’t seem as though he was going to share Izuku’s admission status, and while he refused to be grateful for his one time friend showing some common decency, Izuku couldn’t help but appreciate what this small shift in his personality might mean. Not that all was forgiven, of course, but it would be interesting to watch nonetheless.
His fellow recommendation students aside though, Izuku still wasn’t quite sure what to make of the rest of his classmates. The boy with glasses from earlier had seemed gruff, but he couldn’t be entirely sure that that hadn’t simply been because Izuku had been in his way. The rest of the students he had only had a few minutes to observe. It wasn’t long enough to get a read on their quirks, let alone how they might react to finding out that he didn’t have one. Izuku trusted Aizawa to take control of the situation if need be, but he hoped that it wouldn’t come to that. Aizawa wouldn’t be there to fight his battles for him. Literally. He needed to learn how to handle whatever new range of insults his situation might bring up. His classmates were bound to be only have as ruthless as the press once the rumor got out.

When all of the students assembled outside again, Aizawa stood across from them as he had in the classroom. “Today we will be doing a fitness test, not unlike the ones that you have done in your schools before. The first round you will complete all of the events using your quirk however you would like to augment your scores.”

Students down the line nodded, as if this was what they had been expecting to do on their first official day of Yuuei. An opportunity to show off their skills to their teacher and their classmates. A chance to let the competition between them start early.

Aizawa wasn’t done with their instructions yet though, and Izuku once again found himself fighting back a smile.

“The second round, however, you will not be allowed to use your quirk at all. Anyone who uses their quirk will be immediately disqualified from the rest of the events.”

“No quirks?” The entire class had broken into whispers. They were at Yuuei because of their quirks and not they were being told not to use them? One voice stood out from the rest, and although Izuku couldn’t see who had spoken, Aizawa clearly had. His expression soured.

“There is a lesson to be learned in everything you do here at Yuuei. This will be your first one. As I said before, do not let this opportunity go to waste. And Midoriya? Sit out this first round.”

Izuku had known it was coming, but he still started at the sound of his name. Aizawa faced him now, and Izuku found a place to stare at over Aizawa’s head, fighting the urge to reach for the chain that he had tucked under his shirt. The direct approach, they had decided after discussing what Aizawa had planned for their first day, was definitely the best one. If Aizawa was the one to bring attention to the fact that Izuku was quirkless, if he addressed it and acted as though nothing was out of the ordinary, then hopefully the rest of the class would follow his example with the least amount of commentary.

If Izuku simply sat out the first round, or completed it without showing a quirk it left the door open for any of his other classmates to determine the tone of the conversation. Izuku wanted to be optimistic, but it was better to assume the worst and go from there. Just as they had expected someone asked, “Why doesn’t he have to do the first round?” Izuku thought it might have been the same person who had spoken out before, but he didn’t look around to see. He kept his head up, his eyes locked straight ahead.

“Not that this is any of your business, but for the sake of putting this discussion to rest for good, your best results are going to come from the first round because you will be using your quirk to augment your results. I need to see Midoriya’s best results as well or this entire exercise will be a waste for him. It makes no sense for him to complete the first round when he does not have a quirk to inflate his score. Now. Move to the starting line, we will begin with-”

“He doesn’t have a quirk?”

Izuku did turn at that question, meeting the eyes of the person who had spoken. He didn’t know his name, but something about the classmate made his skin crawl. Yaoyorozu seemed to be standing as far away from him as she could in the cramped line, and Izuku’s eyes narrowed.

“No,” he answered simply, “I don’t.”

The boy glanced from Izuku to Aizawa in confusion. “What is he even doing here then?” No one else spoke as they watched, although Izuku could see the same confusion mirrored in a few of their expressions.

“Shut up and stop wasting time,” another voice called out, Bakugou shoving his way forward in line. “He’s here. Get over it. Can we move on?”

Izuku couldn’t tell whether it was Bakugou’s words or Aizawa’s expression that had the boy quieting, but either way he ducked his head and stepped back into line.

“As I was saying before that interruption, move to the starting line at the other end of the field. We will be starting with the 100 meter dash.” Aizawa’s tone left no room for any other interruptions, the class moving quickly to follow Aizawa’s orders.

Izuku started to move out of the way as well, but caught at Bakugou’s sleeve as he passed. The weight of their unspoken issues still hung between them, but Izuku couldn’t help but be grateful for the way that Bakugou had casually dismissed their classmates comments. Only a year ago Bakugou would have been Izuku’s biggest critic, but now he didn’t seem to be paying much attention to him at all. Hizashi would probably tell him it wasn’t healthy, but Izuku would take that indifference to the torment that Bakugou had put him through any day. Maybe someday they would have to work through their history, but Izuku had enough on his plate at the moment without inviting another difficult and inevitably emotional confrontation to his load.

“Thanks,” Izuku said, even though the word felt strange to say to Bakugou, of all people.

Bakugou huffed. “Shut up. I didn’t do anything for you. Annoying extra was wasting time.”

Izuku released his sleeve. “Whatever you say,” he answered, shrugging. Bakugou huffed again but didn’t reply, and Izuku settled down in the shade of the building to watch the first round of exercises. Aizawa looked in his direction for a moment before starting towards the other end of the field himself, and Izuku gave him a short nod. He would be fine. Everything was going to be fine.

While Aizawa’s sole reason for letting Izuku sit out the first round had really been to make sure that his scores in the second round were where they needed to be during the second round, Izuku wasn’t going to let such as perfect opportunity pass. He might not be able to write any anything down, but as the rest of his class went through the different events Izuku kept a running list of everything that he observed. His classmates quirks, as he had expected, all had some kind of physical manifestation, though some weren’t as obvious as others.

The invisible girl was the most obvious, although Izuku wondered how she had gotten through the regular entrance exam. Her quirk, while extremely helpful, didn’t seem like it would help much against giant robots. In all honesty, she probably should have been sitting out with him unless there was something else about her quirk that he didn’t know about. The boy who had caught him outside the class was a speedster, the girl that had talked to Bakugou seemed to be able to make herself lighter, another classmate seemed to have all of the physical characteristics of a frog. They were exactly the types of quirks Izuku had expected to find in his class.

Watching them though, it was clear even to him that they weren’t taking full advantage of their abilities, applying them in all of the exercises where they could. They had decent control over their abilities, at least. If they managed to stick around, Aizawa would be able to teach them how to think outside the box. Their reactions to this first experience with Aizawa’s teaching style would say a lot about their willingness to listen to what he had to say. Aizawa’s last two years of classes hadn’t been that successful in realizing the point of the exercise, but that was probably for the best in the end. They wouldn’t have been successful pro heroes anyway.

When the first round ended, Aizawa gave them all a five minute break to rest before the next round, and Izuku stood up slowly, stretching from where he had grown stiff from sitting in one place for so long. There was no reason for him to be worried. He had gone through these exercises hundreds of times. As long as he didn’t let himself get distracted and did the best that he could, everything would be fine.


Izuku startled. Behind him stood a blond boy who he hadn’t spoken to yet, a zigzagging lightning bolt standing out obvious against his light hair. “Yeah?” Izuku asked, wondering what this could possibly be about.

“Are you really quirkless?” And oh. Duh. Of course that was what this was going to be about.

“Yes, I am.”

Izuku had expected the newcomer to sneer like the boy from before, but instead he was treated to a wide grin. “That’s super impressive! I’m Kaminari Denki!” The boy greeted. “You must have some special skills to get into Yuuei without a quirk. Care to share?”

“I-What?” Izuku had expected a lot of different reactions to the reveal that he was quirkless, but Kaminari’s easy acceptance and exuberance hadn’t been one of them. Todoroki, Yaoyorozu, and Bakugou knew a little of what he was capable of, but as far as anyone else knew Izuku had done nothing to earn his place at the school.

“Well, obviously there’s a reason that you’re here, right?” Kaminari still smiled at him, and Izuku couldn’t help but to give him an appraising look. “Yuuei wouldn’t let you in for kicks, not when they have that stupidly dangerous entrance exam. So what is it? What did you do to impress them?”

Kaminari’s earnest interest almost made Izuku want to share, but luckily their five minute break was up. Izuku shot Kaminari a grin. “Sorry, Kaminari! We wouldn’t want to make Aizawa-sensei wait.”

Chapter Text

It only took a few exercises for the trend to become apparent. In the exercises that were boosted by their quirks, the drop in their scores was expected. Aside from Bakugou, Yaoyorozu,Todoroki, and a blond guy whose quirk seemed to be a tail though, everyone’s scores dropped in every other category as well. Nothing dramatic. A few meters here, a couple of seconds there. And maybe it could be attributed to the fact that they were running through the exercises a second time, but Izuku doubted it. The trials weren’t that strenuous, and the drop remained consistent across the board. No, there was a better explanation for the change in their scores. One that, from the look on Aizawa’s face, he had been expecting.

One by one, Aizawa passed out the reports with their scores listed by category, barely glancing at the students as he did so. Izuku’s only had the one score written, but they were exactly what he had been expecting-well above the national average but still normal enough for someone without a quirk. Izuku’s own scores weren’t the point of Aizawa’s exercises though.

“Take a moment to look over your scores,” Aizawa said when all of the pages had been passed out. “Look at your classmates scores as well, if they are willing to share. What do you notice about your own performance?”

The whispering picked up again at Aizawa’s instructions as the students started to move around, comparing their papers with the people standing around them. Thinking that there was no reason for anyone to compare their scores to his when he only had the one, Izuku started to move to the outside of the group, but Kaminari stepped into his way, his grin bright as he reached out a hand towards Izuku’s paper.

“Hmmm, just as I thought,” Kaminari said, taking the page and holding it up to his own. “You’re going to be some kind of secret ninja, aren’t you? That’s how you got into Yuuei.”

“I don’t know about that…” Izuku said. “These are just the exercises we do in gym class. It’s not anything special.”

“Not anything special?” Kaminari replied. “Even going by the quirk round, you did better than me in almost every category, and I know exactly what an average score looks like from class, and this,” he shook Izuku’s paper, “this isn’t average.” His words were punctuated with an even wider grin and a tilt of his head.

“All right,” Izuku said, “You caught me. I’ve been training with a secret organization for assassins for the last few years. This is all an elaborate trick to infiltrate the pro heroes and learn all of their secrets, and now you’ve discovered my plan!” Izuku would like to think that Mei’s flare for the dramatics had rubbed off on him, but if he was being honest with himself, all Mei had done was teach him the most opportune time to use it. Deflecting what was bound to be more questions about how he got into Yuuei seemed like just the time. The laugh he got out of Kaminari was an added bonus.

They had a story in place, of course. Izuku’s status as the fifth recommendation student wouldn’t stay secret for long, and there would need to be an explanation to give the rest of his classmates when they inevitably asked why Nedzu had gone through all of the extra trouble of creating that spot and letting him in when he didn’t even have a quirk.

On the surface the story stayed the same. Izuku wanted to be a hero even though he was quirkless, so he tracked down a hero he thought could help him. The hero agreed to train him, and this led him to meeting Nedzu who offered to let him into Yuuei once he had proven that he would be able to handle the rigor of the coursework. While training he had been kidnapped by villains who wanted revenge, and so his mentor decided to keep their connection a secret for the time being.

All technically true, even if it was leaving out most of the important details. It would be simple enough to explain when he had to, but Izuku didn’t feel like launching into that explanation at the moment. Kaminari, as nice as he had been so far, seemed like the kind of person who would have questions that Izuku wouldn’t want to answer at the moment. Better to avoid the conversation altogether until a time they weren’t surrounding by fifteen of their classmates who might be just as curious about their quirkless classmate.

“You’d make a terrible villain, Midoriya, giving your evil plans away this early in the game. Some spy you are.” Izuku waved him off, taking his paper back so that Kaminari could move onto the next person. Talking to Izuku wasn’t going to help him realize Aizawa’s point, and Izuku would prefer it if his classmates could make it longer than the previous years’ students.

The students circulated for a few more moments, before Aizawa called for their attention. “What did you notice about your scores?”

“Our highest scores were in the areas we could use our quirks in?” Someone called out after a few seconds.

“That is true, but to be expected. What else?” He looked at them expectantly. Aizawa may have a bad reputation for the students he kicked out of the program, but Izuku knew that he wanted more than anything for his classes to succeed. He wasn’t going to hand them the answers if he believed they were capable of figuring it out on their own.

Izuku should have known who would be the one to point out what everyone else was missing.

“Their scores dropped,” Bakugou said, his tone matter of fact. “They dropped when they couldn’t use their quirks.”

“What do you mean ‘their’?” Another student called out. “Your scores dropped too.”

“Even in the categories where their quirks couldn’t have helped them in the first place,” Bakugou continued without looking at the person who had spoken.

“Correct,” Aizawa said. He looked over the students gathered around him. “And why is that? Even those of you whose quirks don’t affect any of the exercises directly had a drop across the board in the second round. I told you that it is up to you what you make of your potential, and this is the first thing you need to address in order to do that. So why do you think that your scores dropped?”

No one else spoke, but Izuku refused to be the one to explain Aizawa’s theory. Why open himself up for another reason for resentment when he didn’t have to? Aizawa knew that he knew the reason, and that he had put together their possible problem the moment his mentor explained what they would be doing for his first class. Izuku didn’t need public validation, especially at the potential cost of the long game.

“Anything you notice,” Aizawa continued. “You aren’t going to get in trouble for wrong answers in my class. That would be pointless. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have things you needed to learn.”

“Umm…” The girl who had greeted Bakugou started, raising her hand. “Even though I knew that you were using your quirk during the second round to make sure we couldn’t accidently cheat, I was still focusing on not using mine to boost my score.”

Aizawa hummed. “That is a good point, and something else that you will be working on this year. If so much of your attention is spent on using your quirk-or not using your quirk in this case- you are wasting energy and focus that could be put towards the problem you are facing. What else?”

“A block?” A student towards the back asked. Izuku turned, craning his neck to see who had spoken. Why were all of his classmates so tall?

“Can you explain that a little more?”

“It might be a mental block?” The blond guy whose scores hadn’t dropped asked again, stepping towards the front of the crowd. “We all expected to be tested on our quirks today since quirk development is a huge part of the program, but then you announced the second round and, well...I don’t think many of us were expecting that.”

“You’ve done these exercises countless times in classes before mine. None of them are new to you. How many of you panicked, even for a second, when I said that you wouldn’t be able to use your quirk? Raise your hand.”

The class hesitated, and Aizawa sighed. “Be honest. This is the entire point of this lesson. You aren’t going to be expelled for admitting you did not like the prospect of not being able to use your quirk.” There was another moment of hesitation before hands started to raise around their small cluster.

“Quirks are unique, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to eventually come up against someone with a quirk similar to mine or find yourselves in situations where your quirk will be a hindrance rather than advantage. As a pro hero you will still need to be able to work in both of those situations, and the sooner you realize that your quirk is not the solution to every problem you face the better. I know that this seems to go against the image that Yuuei has to the public, but this is the reality of the situation. Your other teachers will be working with you primarily on developing your quirk and your ability to strategize. In my sessions you will be working to find a balance between understanding how to use your quirk and knowing when not to. Today’s exercises were familiar for a reason. Use your reaction today to think about what you personally need to do. We will be coming back to this, so don’t just push this out of your mind and forget about it. This is extremely important.”

“Are there any questions?” Aizawa asked. Every raised hand dropped. “Head back to the classroom then. Your next class starts in five minutes. Mineta? Stay behind.”

He couldn’t be one hundred percent sure why Aizawa held Mineta back, but Izuku had a pretty decent guess. Mistakes on exercises and things like that his mentor could tolerate, but there was a line of what he would and would not allow to pass in his classroom. Some actions Aizawa would not let slide even once, and the Mineta, well. The discomfort from the girls in 1-A during that short period alone said more than enough. Mineta would have the chance to right his wrong and if he didn’t, then he shouldn’t be in the hero course to begin with.

Whatever Mineta decided, Aizawa would handle it. For now, Izuku needed to focus on how he was going to get through the rest of the day. Somehow he and Aizawa had managed to make it through that first class without completely giving themselves away, but Izuku wasn’t in the clear yet. He would have a break for a couple of periods, but then he would still need to deal with Hizashi, and that was bound to be the more difficult of the two.

Izuku followed his classmates as they filed back into the building, resisting the urge to glance over his shoulder at Aizawa. He had almost made it into the building when Iida Tenya stepped into his path. They still had five minutes until their next class, so Izuku made no move to go around him, watching as the last person entered the building. Iida did not look as angry as he had before, but that did nothing to make Izuku feel better about whatever this conversation was going to entail.

“Class is going to start soon,” Izuku said, calling back to Iida’s earlier frustrations. “Was there something you needed?”

Iida pushed at his glasses with a finger, for the first time looking unsure about what he wanted to say. “My family are all pro heroes. My parents and my brother.”

It was an odd way to start a conversation, but Izuku had met All Might so he couldn’t say it was the most bizarre introduction he had ever had. “That’s good?”

Iida shook his head. “And you really are quirkless?”

Izuku needed to start a tally of every time someone stated the obvious, otherwise that question would grow old extremely fast. Maybe Mei could rig him up some kind of dispenser. Let him have a piece of candy or something for every ten times he had to deal with the same nonsense over and over again. At least Kaminari had seemed genuinely interested in what skills he might have had to get him into Yuuei. Izuku didn’t know Iida, to be fair, but he doubted their conversation would be as light.

“That is what Aizawa-sensei said.”

Iida pushed at his glasses again. “I do not mean to overstep-”

“Starting your sentence with that phase means that you most definitely are going to overstep, and you know that you’re going to before you even say anything.” If Hizashi had been there, he would have called Izuku out on how much he sounded like Aizawa then, but Izuku didn’t care. Sure, Iida might have meant well with whatever advice or warning he wanted to give, but well intentioned intervention or not, Izuku could recognize the look on his face. The look that said that he had already decided Izuku was incapable of becoming a pro hero if he didn’t have a quirk.

“You must have done well on the entrance exam,” Iida continued. “You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t, but I’ve seen what pro heroes go through with my parents and my brother. Even with a quirk it can be dangerous. I understand that you want to be here just like the rest of our class, but what if you get hurt? What if-”

“Iida-san. As you said, I don’t mean to be rude, but I did consider all of this before applying to the school. As I’m sure every student who took the entrance exam did. Obviously there are dangers to being a pro hero, but that is a risk every student and teacher at this school has made the decision to take. My lack of a quirk does not make me unique in this regard. Will I need to be a little more careful? Sure. But if we are taught well here and are doing our jobs correctly, then that’s what we should all be doing.”


“I appreciate your concern, Iida-san. I really do,” Izuku nodded towards the door. “But if we don’t leave now, we really will be late to class, and I’ve heard detention here is the worst.”

Iida Tenya did not try to talk to him for the rest of the day, but Izuku could feel him watching him as their new teachers cycled in and out. Whenever Iida’s attention slid back to their lessons, Izuku found himself watching his classmate as well, wondering if this was going to become a bigger problem or if Iida would accept that Izuku was there to stay and let it go. Mineta never did return to the classroom, and none of their teachers questions his absence.

On the one hand, Izuku could understand where Iida was coming from. If his parents and brother were pro heroes, he would have grown up with an inside look at what being a pro hero actually meant. All the paperwork, the training, the press, and the dangers. Iida, along with Yaoyorozu and Todoroki, would be in the best position to judge not only him, but the rest of their classmates as well against their ‘standard’ of what being a pro hero entailed.

Now that Iida mentioned it, Izuku could see the resemblance between his classmate and the pro hero Ingenium. They had the almost the same hair style, the same shape to their faces. If Iida took off his classes, Izuku was sure that they would look even more alike. What was the age gap between them, Izuku wondered. What would it have been like to grow up with two pro heroes in your house and an older brother who went pro years before you even entered high school? The pressure that Iida must be under to follow in his family footsteps must be enormous.

And if Ingenium was his brother, that made Iida’s decision to address Izuku make a little more sense, especially when the boy didn’t seem all that social to begin with. If Izuku was remembering correctly, Ingenium had a close call not too long before the end of their second year of middle school. What had it been? A teenager who had lost control of their quirk, maybe?

Izuku couldn’t remember the exact details, but he did remember the press that followed the incident. Ingenium had put himself in serious danger to rescue the kid before she managed to herself or someone else, and the media had sung his praises for weeks afterwards.

So yeah, Izuku could understand where Iida had been coming from. To a point. He could also understand why Iida would feel the need to tell him his opinion since he seemed to be pretty big on rules and obligations. That didn’t mean that Izuku would be willing to listen to him try to tell him he shouldn’t be at Yuuei though, and it didn’t mean that he would continue to give him the benefit of the doubt if he ended up being obnoxious about it.

Izuku was already getting tired of having to prove to people that he deserved to be at Yuuei, and the school year had only just started. It would all be fine though, he told himself. Yagi-san had let slip that he would be teaching a practical the second day of school, although he hadn’t given Izuku any of the important details in the interest of fairness.

He would put an end to all of the doubt then, but not for them. He would do it for himself. One last opportunity to show himself that he could keep up with his classmates-quirk or no quirk. Ending the pitying looks would simply be an added bonus, and if Iida, or anyone else in 1-A, still had a problem with him being at Yuuei then that was their issue. Izuku didn’t owe them anything.

Chapter Text

All Izuku wanted to do was go home and tell his mother about his first day at Yuuei, but but he couldn’t. Not yet, at least. Izuku placed one hundred percent of the blame for that at Hatsume Mei’s feet. The plan had been simple enough to Izuku. They would meet at the back gates to avoid the majority of the press waiting to pounce on the new heroes after school-Nedzu may have stressed them being seen entering but he not such specifications about them leaving-and head to their usual café to talk about their day before going their separate ways for the day.

And yet, here he was almost an hour after school had officially ended with no Mei in sight. He had even told her that he had a present for her, sure that the prospect of a surprise would be enough to get her moving after the final bell. Knowing Mei, she had probably started a project and then gotten too wrapped up in it to notice that everyone else had already left. The only way he was going to get to talk to her before it grew too late was if he went in and physically dragged her out.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Since their introduction and Mei’s declaration that they, of course, had to become friends, Izuku had broken into the Hatsume store more than one in order to keep Mei from overworking herself. She would always act a little put out and angry about him dragging her away from whatever ‘baby’ she had been tinkering with, but even she would admit that she needed the break. After the fact and with much exaggerated complaining beforehand. Now though, Izuku wasn’t so sure that such an interruption would be met with the same reaction.

It wasn’t that he thought his friendship with Mei would change when they entered Yuuei. No matter what else happened, their friendship would never be in question. That didn’t mean that they couldn’t make other friends though. What if he went to the support class only to interrupt Mei in the process of making a new friend? They had both been by themselves for so long, Izuku didn’t want to accidentally ruin something for her.

So he stood at the gate as the minutes ticked by, waffling between going inside and staying put. He had almost decided to go track her down when the back doors of the school burst open, Mei already laughing at the look of surprise on his face.

“Izuku! Sorry to keep you waiting, but as you can see there was a little bit of an accident.”

Izuku thought that that must surely be an understatement. Mei had clearly tried to clean herself up a bit, but the rings of soot around her eyes marking her goggles was still clear even from a distance. Her clothes smelled like smoke when she hugged him, and he was sure that there was a layer of dried fire repellant on the leg of her pants.

“Mei,” Izuku said slowly, stepping back to look at her, hands still grasping her shoulders. “Please tell me you did not set a fire. It’s our first day of school, Mei, please.”

Mei huffed, pouting as she brushed at a line of soot streaking the arm of her jacket. “It was only a little explosion, Izuku-”

“An explosion?”

“-no one got hurt. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get bonus points too once I write up the report on what happened.”

“You’re going to get bonus points for an explosion that almost set the school on fire?”

Mei rolled her eyes. “It didn’t almost set the school on fire. It was a teeny, tiny explosion. For science. It was an explosion for science, and I’m sorry I’m late, and also, you owe me cake.”

Now it was Izuku’s turn to scoff. “You’re late, and I’m the one who owes you cake? You were supposed to meet me an hour ago.”

“And I worried about you out here waiting for me the entire time Recovery Girl was patching me up, so I think that means you owe me for emotional stress.” Mei started towards the gates without waiting for Izuku’s response. “I’m thinking strawberry shortcake or maybe chocolate.”

“Emotional distress?” Izuku asked, going after her. “Wait, what do you mean Recovery Girl had to patch you up? That’s not a small explosion, Mei!”

Mei didn’t start sharing the details until they were sitting at their usual table, two slices of cake in front of her. Izuku had grumbled at her demand, but had caved almost immediately just as Mei had known he would.

“You said you had a present for me?” Mei asked, stabbing a strawberry with her fork.

“Nope,” Izuku answered. “No present. Not until you tell me about this “little” explosion you had. Why did you need to see Recovery Girl?”

“I didn’t really need to see her. It was just a precaution. Inhaling dangerous chemicals and all that. The explosion really was a small one, there was just a lot of smoke. You know how much of a stickler my mom is for safety regulations. I had my goggles on and everything. Cleaning up the mess took more time than anything. I must have looked like a wreck though, because other students were freaking out and bullied the teacher into making me go see the nurse. She didn’t even have to do anything much. You would think that my new classmates had never seen a lab malfunction before from the way they were acting.”

“Nothing you’re saying right now is doing anything to make me feel better, I do hope you know that.”

“I’m fine, Izuku, really. Now tell me about your day. No explosions of your own, I take it?” Mei still seemed entirely too calm, but Izuku knew she wouldn’t budge now that she had asked him about his day. His stubbornness had only made her’s worse, and vice versa.

“I survived. Reactions were pretty even across the board, but I expected that. No one did anything outright hostile though.” In between bites of his own dessert, Izuku explained what had happened during Aizawa’s first class. “Good thing-I don’t think anything suspects I know Aizawa beyond homeroom. Bakugou, Todoroki, and Yaoyorozu didn’t say a word. Bad side-Iida Tenya does not seem to appreciate my presence in the class, and he is definitely the kind of person who will continue to let me know that out of a misguided sense of concern for my safety.”

Mei hummed. “Still not an excuse. He knows nothing about you, and he thinks that he knows what’s best for you? I don’t care who his parents are, that’s such bullshit.”

“To be fair, his brother did almost die.”

“That is sad. Doesn’t mean he knows better than you or gets to tell you what risks to take.”

“I mean. You’re right, but there’s not much I can do about it at this point,” Izuku said. “Either he accepts that I deserve to be there or he doesn’t, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince him. If Iida Tenya is the biggest obstacle I have to deal with from my classmates, then I can handle him by ignoring him.”

“Besides, you have a practical tomorrow, right? He’ll have to shut up when you kick his ass.”

“Pretty sure it’s not that kind of practical.”

Mei waved him off. “Doesn’t matter. You’ll dominate whatever little problem All Might throws at you, and he’ll leave you alone. And if he doesn’t, I still have all of those babies I made up for Bakugou. It won’t be a problem to slip one into his shoe locker.” Izuku didn’t get the chance to protest that declaration, because Mei hurried on, shoving an outstretched hand in his direction. “You said you had a present for me?”

“I did?” Izuku asked, putting on a confused expression. “Why would I get you a present?”

“Izuku!” Mei whined, making grabbing hands at him. “I was in an explosion today! And you want to be mean to me?”

“Uh-uh, Mei,” Izuku responded, shaking his head as he reached into his bag. “You don’t get to play both cards. You already said it wasn’t a bad explosion. Was that a lie? Do I need to be worried? Should I call your mom?”

“You wouldn’t!”

Izuku raised an eyebrow, hand still in his bag.

“Please don’t make that face. You look too much like Aizawa. It’s weirding me out.”

“But that only makes me want to do it more,” Izuku joked, but handed over the small box anyway.


“Teasing forgiven then?” He asked, as Mei held up her gift to examine it in the light. “I got the idea from Hizashi and Aizawa, and then you stopped to look at this in the market that day. It seemed like a perfect fit. On a thin chain hung a charm of two interlocking gears, Mei’s name scrawled across one in neat, curving characters. “I had to sneak back to get it engraved later, but the woman selling it didn’t mind. She seemed to think that you were my girlfriend.”

“That is absolutely hilarious,” Mei said, still staring at the charm. “No offence, Izuku, but you aren’t exactly my type. I hope you used that to get a discount though. I love it. Thank you!”

“Had to get you something so you wouldn’t forget me when you get caught up in all of your amazing future projects. The chain is short enough that you should be able to wear it without worrying about it getting in your way.”

“As if I could,” Mei rolled her eyes. “Put it on me?”

Inko knew it wouldn’t help time move any faster, but it was hard not to wait at the door for Izuku to get home. Hizashi had sent her a brief text after his class to let her know how her son seemed to be doing, but it wasn’t the same as hearing about his day in person. She understood why he had wanted to speak with Mei first though, and as much as she wanted to hear about what had happened, she couldn’t be upset for spending time with his friend.

Hatsume Mei added another bullet point to the long list of reasons that Inko would never be able to repay Aizawa for all that he had done for her family. Sometimes Inko could almost let herself forget what it had been like all those years Izuku had come home from school, unhappy and alone. She wouldn’t, of course. She deserved to carry the weight of letting Izuku down, because surely there must have been something more that she could have done. Izuku having found a friend now didn’t make up for the years that he had been alone. Izuku didn’t blame her, but didn’t need him to in order to blame herself.

Aizawa had changed that though, just like he had changed so many things in their lives. She hadn’t thought about it much at the time, too worried for Izuku and his future and the dream that he refused to abandon, but she was just as lonely as her. The friends that she had made when they first moved into the apartment had vanished around the same time she had kicked her husband out. Whether one had led to the other, Inko couldn’t be sure. She had been a new mother on her own with a baby and no family left to help her.

Just like it how it seemed impossible to imagine Izuku without Hatsume Mei by his side, Inko couldn’t imagine her life without Hizashi and Aizawa. Their friendship had been a little intimidating at first, Inko wasn’t afraid to admit. They had been friends for years and it showed, even when they were just sitting together in silence. How was Inko supposed to find a place in that? They both loved Izuku though, and it didn’t take long for Inko to realize that while she could never have the same kind of relationship that Hizashi and Aizawa shared with each other, that didn’t mean that her friendship would be valued any less.

So yes, she owed quite a lot to Aizawa Shouta, and she would be happy trying to repay that debt for as long as possible.

Hizashi wouldn’t be joining them for dinner that night, school duties already taking over his schedule now that he would be expected to start running the school’s radio station again. Inko had already made sure that he knew food would be sent his way via Aizawa, and that she expected him to come by at least once that week. Her boys could be self-destructive when they latched onto something with a single-minded determination, all three of them, and Inko wasn’t above using Izuku as an excuse to make sure that her two more difficult cases didn’t take advantage of the fact that she couldn’t ground them when they didn’t take care of themselves.

Aizawa arrived first, the quiet click of the lock letting her know that it was the pro hero rather than her son coming home. It had taken a long time for Inko to convince him to not only take the key but to use it. “Are you really going to make me come to the door every single time, Aizawa-san?” Inko had asked when on his fifth visit after she had given him a key he still refused to let himself in. He had looked embarrassed, but he hadn’t argued with her about it again, and the next time he came by for a visit he had used his key rather than the doorbell. Hizashi had been much easier to convince, taking the key from her hand before she even had to ask.

He still looked a little embarrassed sometimes at the freedom Inko allowed him in her home, but the occasions had become rarer as more time passed. Now he walked in without a word, dropping his school bag on the table beside the door and slouching to his usual seat at the table.

“Oh, honestly,” Inko said, taking in the slump of his shoulders and the dark circles around his eyes. “I would have thought you would be over the first day of school jitters by now. You’re as bad as Izuku.”

“In my defense,” Aizawa said, “today wasn’t a normal first day. I’ve never had a student in my class that wasn’t new to me before.”

Inko hummed, placing a steaming cup of tea in front of him. “And how was Izuku today?” Although she tried to keep her voice flat, Inko knew that Aizawa wasn’t fooled by her supposed nonchalance. He took a minute to answer, taking a long drink from his cup.

“Is this a new tea, Inko? It’s very good. I think I can taste the-”


Aizawa grinned, setting his cup back down. “Izuku seemed fine today. I didn’t get the chance to check in with him after homeroom, but Hizashi had him after lunch. No one gave him any trouble with me, and Hizashi said he already seemed friendly with some of his classmates. He’ll have to tell you the specifics himself, but I don’t think you have any reason to worry.”

“Good, good,” Inko said, busying herself with straightening the dishes laid out on the counter. “I knew there would be nothing to worry about, but… What about you? How was your day back?”


When he did not elaborate, Inko turned back to look at her friend. Aizawa stared at the table, fingers tracing the handle of his mug. He already looked exhausted, but for all that Inko wanted to force him to take a nap before dinner, she knew that he would wave off her concern. She put the lack of sleep aside for a moment and focused on the more immediate problem.

“That doesn’t like like a fine that actually means fine, Shouta. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but if you think it will help, you know I’m here.”

Aizawa sighed, picking up his mug again. “Izuku...he’s in a good class this year. It’s early on, but they’ve got potential if they work hard enough.”

“That’s a good thing isn’t it?” Inko knew Aizawa struggled with his responsibilities as a teacher. Not because he wasn’t good at it or because he didn’t want to be there, but because he couldn’t in good conscious send his students into danger knowing that they weren’t prepared for what they would find.

“It is. Or it would be. You know the reputation that I’ve gained though. The students all know about it. I don’t make a habit of caring much about students’ opinions when it comes trivial things, but in this case… My reputation could actually be a hindrance. In past years, it hasn’t really mattered. My students had already decided that they didn’t care or they didn’t need to work to impress me. I don’t regret the choices that I made. The students that I expelled or had transferred to the Gen Ed class would have only ended up hurting themselves or other people. I just worry that it’s going to set this class back now, having to fight against all of the assumptions that they’ve made.”

Inko never would have imagined she would ever find herself in this position. “I think you’re selling yourself a little short there. It’s only the first day, and they have a host of reasons to be nervous beyond whatever rumors you think they have heard about you. I know that you don’t see this about yourself, but Shouta, you are one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Everything you do, you do because you care. Those students are lucky to have someone like you in their corner, whether they know that yet or not. If they are half as good as you seem to think they might be, it won’t take them long to realize it.”

“Even if I’ve already had to remove a student from their class?” Aizawa asked, and Inko had never heard him this unsure of himself before. She moved to sit beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“If you did, it was because you had a valid reason,” Inko answered. “Your students have to know that.” She bit her lip. “Can I ask what happened?”

“I can’t teach people who don’t want to learn,” Aizawa said. “And there are some cases where you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. One of my new students...He made some extremely inappropriate comments to the girls in my class. I held him after to talk to him about why this behavior would not be tolerated. He refused to acknowledge his mistakes. I asked him about why he wanted to become a hero, hoping that I would be able to use that to show him why his actions were wrong, but it was clear from his answer that he was at Yuuei for the wrong reasons. Someone who intends to use the power that comes with being a graduate of our school to manipulate people or to get special favors, they should not have been admitted to Yuuei in the first place. He never would have learned why his actions were wrong if I had just expelled him. I transferred him to Gen Ed, and he has mandatory weekly meetings with Recovery Girl. She’s also a counselor, you know. We’re hoping that she can get through to him better than I can.”

“Well,” Inko said. “It sounds like you made the right decision then. I’m sure that your students will understand. If the other students heard what he said, then they are sure to know that you didn’t transfer him on a whim. And you’re forgetting one other, extremely important factor in all of this.”

“And what’s that?”

“Izuku would never, ever let them walk around thinking the worst of you. You have one person in that class who thinks the world of you, and I’m sure he’s not going to rest until the rest of his classmates realize just how great you really are.”

When Izuku finally got home, he felt like he was interrupting a conversation that wasn’t meant for him to hear. He was fine with that, of course. Aizawa, Hizashi, and his mother were friends. Of course they would have conversations that didn’t involve him. He felt a little guilty for interrupting, but the damage had been done the moment his mother heard him open the door. Whatever they had been talking about, the conversation would have to picked up later, because Inko had latched on to Izuku and it didn’t appear that she would be letting him go for the next century at the very least.

“It was only one day, Mom,” Izuku said into her shoulder, the strap of his bag digging into his shoulder, but he hugged her back, the last of the tension from the day bleeding out at her affection.

“You let me hug you, Midoriya Izuku, it was one very long day,” she responded without missing a beat. “How was it? Tell me everything!” She led him to the table, pushing him into the seat next to Aizawa. The pro hero had an empty mug of tea in front of him, and he nodded at Izuku as he sat down. Slowly, Izuku ran through everything that had happened to him that day. Kaminari’s interest, Iida’s words, the way that Hizashi had struggled not to speak to familiarly to Izuku during their English class, Mei’s misunderstanding of what counted as a small explosion.

“It sounds like you had a fun day,” Inko said with a soft smile.
“There was one other thing,” Izuku said, glancing at Aizawa. “A reporter approached me this morning. None of the others paid me much attention, but this one was looking for me specifically. I just said what we planned, that my sponsor wanted to stay anonymous for my protection, but I don’t know if it’s going to work. The reporter definitely seemed to think that something was going on. Gave me a business card so I could get in touch.”

“You did the right thing,” Aizawa answered. “Nedzu usually only lets them hang around the first day, but just in case, if anyone tries to approach you don’t stop. If they still bother you, remind them that you’re a minor, and that you can’t talk to any press without your mother.”

Izuku nodded. “I can do that.”

“Now,” Aizawa smiled. “Tell me what you noticed about your classmates.”

Chapter Text

One day Izuku would have a conversation with Todoroki Shouto that didn’t begin with them crashing into each other, but today was not that day. At least this time he wasn’t risking being late to an extremely important meeting. There was still plenty of time for Izuku to be awkward before he was at risk of being late for homeroom.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” he tried to joke, reaching out to steady Todoroki instinctively before catching the look on his classmates face and pulling back. “I really am sorry. I promise I’m not doing it on purpose.”

Like before, Todoroki didn’t say anything in response, simply stared at him as though Izuku was a puzzle he couldn’t figure out. Or a particularly loathsome insect that had stumbled into his path once again. It was a little harder to get a read on Todoroki than most people, but Izuku was fairly certain it was one of the two.

“Thanks for not saying anything, by the way,” Izuku knew he should stop talking, that he should just bow quickly and move along, but the words were tumbling out before he could stop them. He rubbed at the back of his neck, avoiding Todoroki’s eyes. “I mean. I know that Nedzu asked you and Yaoyorozu not to say anything yet, but thanks. For not saying anything. I don’t want everyone judging me because my mentor is our homeroom teacher, you know?”

Todoroki still didn’t respond, the silence stretching on. Was it just Izuku being awkward or were they both being awkward? Izuku hadn’t said anything weird. At least, he didn’t think he had. Nervous, he glanced in Todoroki’s direction.

Massive mistake. Izuku immediately wanted to abort that decision, but Todoroki’s eyes were locked on his. What was the statistical likelihood of heterochromia? Izuku made a mental note to look it.

“Not that I’m ashamed to be his student, obviously. Nothing like that. It would probably just makes things harder? With me being quirkless. I’m sorry, but are you mad that I ran into you? It really was an accident, I swear. My friend Mei could tell you, I don’t tend to look before I leap in a lot of situations. Turning corners one of them, apparently.”

Todoroki didn’t walk away from him, but the glare directed at Izuku didn’t lesen in the face of Izuku’s rambing either.

“Are you mad at me?” Izuku asked. “Because that seems a little excessive for something that was an accident.”

“I’m not your friend,” Todoroki finally said, and Izuku startled at the sound of his voice.

“I...I never said that you were?” The nervousness that Izuku felt trying to talk to his stoic classmate drained away at Todoroki’s sharp tone. Carefully, Izuku looked his classmate over. Uniform in perfect order, posture a little too stiff, Todoroki was the kind of person Izuku had always expected to become a recommendation student. Todoroki had talent and he knew it. He carried that knowledge like a weight on his shoulders, an assumption of greatness that even his classmates had to recognize despite only being together a day. Izuku couldn’t imagine that having someone like Endeavor as a father would have made that any easier. Were egos like that hereditary? Probably not.

“I’m not at Yuuei to make friends,” Todoroki continued, and this time he did push past Izuku as he spoke.

Izuku should have let it go at that. Todoroki was his own person. If he didn’t want to be friends with Izuku, then he could join the club. Friendship hadn’t even been on Izuku’s mind. Still though, Izuku had a habit for sticking his nose into delicate situations, and he couldn’t stop himself from calling out to Todoroki’s retreating back.

“It’s your choice,” he said, his voice loud in the quiet hallway. Todoroki didn’t turn, but his steps slowed at Izuku’s words. “But I think that’s really dumb.”

Todoroki did turn at that, eyes blazing, but Izuku pushed on before his classmate could interrupt. “Heroes can’t do everything alone. Even they need help sometimes. Look how many teams and partnerships there are? We are going to need our classmates to get through the next three years, and the relationships we form now will have a huge impact on our futures as pro heroes. I know your dad it used to working on his own but-”

Izuku didn’t realize the danger he was stepping into until it was too late. Todoroki had closed the distance between them in seconds, eyes as cold as ice. Izuku automatically started to step back, but forced himself to stand firm.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I am not Endeavor,” Todoroki growled, “and I don’t need anyone else’s help.”

Just as quickly, Todoroki was gone, disappearing around the corner at the end of the hall and leaving Izuku to wonder what exactly had just happened.

Toshinori hadn’t made an appearance at dinner in the week leading up to Yuuei’s first day, so Izuku wasn’t sure what to expect from All Might’s appearance for the practical. It wasn’t that his absence was all that strange. He still seemed uncomfortable around them and their easy relationships, and he didn’t show up more often than not. Still, Toshinori seemed to have less of an understanding of what discretion meant than even even Hizashi, despite the secret of his quirk that he had managed to keep hidden for so long. If Hizashi had struggled to keep their relationship quiet, then meeting All Might could be disastrous.

Izuku had already started running through possible stories for why All Might would know him, but it turned out to be unnecessary. Besides a small nod in Izuku’s direction and a thumbs up, All Might didn’t do anything that could have given him away. Instead he simply gathered the class together, instructed them to change, and led them out to the location of their first practical.

The location looked familiar, a closed in area with towering buildings, hanging pipes, and dusty streets. It wasn’t the same arena, but the two had clearly been built following the same basic design. Two years removed from that test against Aizawa’s former students, and Izuku still hated the bitter sting of that close lose. He had been so close to winning, so close to proving them wrong despite his limited training, and he had lost at the literal last second.

It was ridiculous to feel bad about that situation. Nedzu had designed it on purpose so that everything in the test was against him. He shouldn’t let it get to him after all this time. Still, he knew that if he were to face that same challenge now the results wouldn’t even be close to the same. Izuku hadn’t been able to see it himself at the time, overwhelmed as he felt facing that challenge, but Aizawa had been right. Those students hadn’t taken the program seriously, and it would have only ended in disaster if they had remained as they were.

When they finally reached their destination, All Might stood across from them, watching everyone appraisingly. Izuku wondered what it was like for the rest of the class having the number one hero acting as their instructor. He could imagine easily enough what his reaction would have been if he were a normal student, if he hadn’t had Aizawa for the last two years and didn’t know the truth about All Might’s personality. The persona he wore as All Might couldn’t be called fake, but now that Izuku had the chance to get to know him a little better, it wasn’t difficult to see the parts of his personality that he exaggerated as All Might. A little more cheerfulness, a little more confidence.

Maybe, Izuku thought, this was his true personality. Not exaggerated, just who he would have been all the time if his injury had never happened. Izuku was in the unique experience out of his classmates to see both sides of the hero, but that didn’t mean that he was in any better position to judge. Aizawa or Hizashi were sure to know. They had both known All Might for much longer, but asking them didn’t seem like an option. One, because he didn’t think Aizawa would appreciate the questions about Toshinori. He couldn’t argue with his appearance at Inko’s for dinner, but his mentor still held a significant amount of annoyance for the way Toshinori had approached Izuku.

Izuku also didn’t think that it was really any of his business. There was a fine line between being curious about something and invading someone’s privacy, and Izuku didn’t want to cross it. Asking about the effects that injury had on Toshinori seemed like a solid line. If Toshinori wanted Izuku to know more about what had happened or his life before his injury, then he would tell him. Otherwise, Izuku was fine letting his curiosity surrounding the subject die.

“I would have preferred for you all to use this practical as a chance to test out your hero costume,” All Might said, drawing Izuku’s attention back to the fact that he was actually in class at the moment. “Unfortunately, it will be some time before those are ready. They still have another round of reviews to go through before they can be sent to production, so if you haven’t sent your updated forms to the safety office, please do so as soon as possible. The sooner everyone turns those in, the sooner you can get started practicing with your costumes!”

“Now!” All Might gestured to the buildings around them. “I’m sure you are curious about what we will be doing today! This practical has been designed as a test of sorts to let me know where you all stand in terms of strategizing and the practical use of your quirks. In teams of two, you will enter this building behind me. One pair will act as the villains while the other will be playing the heroes. Inside this building is a model missile. The villains’ job will be to guard the missile until the allotted time has been reached signifying the missile’s successful launch. The heroes’ objective will be to freeze the timer by touching a hand to the model, preventing the launch from occurring. Simple enough, right?”

There was a small murmur of agreement, but otherwise silence. Izuku could guess at what they were thinking. This was the kind of test they had been expecting from Aizawa the day before. A chance to show off their quirks to their classmates. They hadn’t taken Aizawa’s test as seriously as they should have, but the tension after All Might’s explanation was heavy.

“Your partner and opponents for this exercise will be chosen at random.” All Might waved a hand to the box beside him. “We’ll be choosing names between each round, so don’t worry about when you’ll be going. Now, I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing me talk. We might as well get onto the real fun,” All Might said, reaching into the box. “Our first villains will be...Ojiro and Hagakure! And our first heroes….Todoroki and Shoji! Villains, your time starts now!” The two ‘villains’ startled at the sudden start, but headed into the building without comment.

To keep things fair, there was no way for the rest of the students to watch Ojiro and Hagakure’s preparation, so Izuku turned his attention to Todoroki and Shoji. Shoji’s quirk was one of the most interesting to consider the application’s of. Quirks that manifested as some kind of physical change weren’t that uncommon, but most of them were like Ojiro’s. Extra appendages or strength modification. The ability to replicate specific organs though? No two quirks were alike, but Izuku hadn’t heard of anything even similar to what Shoji could do. There were so many questions Izuku wanted to ask him, but he doubted Shoji would appreciate a complete stranger bombarding him before they had even had a real conversation.

As the clock ticked down to the real start of the test, Shoji glanced between his new partner and All Might. To Izuku, it looked as if Shoji was on the verge of saying something, but every time he seemed to convince himself that he should, he would glance at Todoroki and cut himself off. Where Shoji’s nerves were obvious to anyone who cared to look, Todoroki still stood with the same impassive mask that he always seemed to wear.

And it was a mask, Izuku thought, or something very much like it. Otherwise, what had that conversation been about earlier? People didn’t go around declaring that they didn’t want to make friends for no reason at all. Even Bakugou, who Izuku felt sure he would always use as a measure of prickliness, had friends-wanted friends. He hadn’t had the time to reflect on everything that had happened in the hallway, but he would eventually.

“Five minutes are up!” All Might announced. “Heroes, the countdown to the launch has begun!”

Todoroki and Shoji entered the building, and Izuku wished that they were allowed to see what happened once the round officially started because one second they were staring at a boring building, simultaneously thinking that they had imagined this test being a lot more fun to watch when ice erupted from every opening on the second floor. One second the building was clear and the next it almost exploded with the force of the growth, sharpened points peeking out of every window, their jagged edges glistening in the morning sun.

Izuku jumped with the majority of 1-A at the sound of the crack, as All Might whistled appreciatively. Almost as soon as they had settled from that shock an alarm sounded, a green light flashing over the entrance to the building. “And that would be the end of this round. The heroes have saved the day!”

A moment later, Shoji exited the building alone. He looked shaken, but uninjured. “What happened?” The redhead-Kirishima, Izuku thought his name was-asked when Shoji was close to their group again. Kirishima looked at Shoji concerned, noticing the way that their classmate was shaking. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I didn’t have the chance to do anything,” Shoji said, face pale. “As soon as we saw them and the missile in one of the rooms on the second floor, he froze them in place...I thought I was going to get caught in it too, but it was so controlled. Todoroki’s in there now, thawing them out. I don’t think they were injured by it either.”

“He froze them in place!”

“That’s insane!”

“As expected from a recommendation student!”

Izuku wondered what they would say if they knew that he was also a recommendation student, but that was just him being petty. He glanced at Yaoyorozu. His fellow recommendation student smiled when she realized he was looking at her and inclined her head towards him. They had both gotten details about the recommendation students as part of the demonstrations, but it hadn’t gone into much besides the basics. There was a difference between knowing that Todoroki could control ice and the fact that he had taken over the entire floor of a building in a second. Izuku and Yaoyorozu would both have to step up their game if they were going to keep up with him.

“Don’t worry, young Shoji. You will have another opportunity to show what you can do,” All Might said, laying a hand on Shoji’s shoulder. “This is only the first exercise of many.”

“All Might-sensei,” Izuku asked, mentally wincing as All Might looked in his direction with eyes too wide. Quickly, Izuku hurried on. “Will be be able to watch the footage from everyone’s rounds later?”

“Yes, Midoriya, my boy. Tomorrow’s class will be devoted almost entirely to breaking down the footage we are gathering today.”

Izuku nodded. If Todoroki could freeze someone in place like Shoji said, then Izuku would need to come up with some kind of counter for that. He might be able to set the charge in his rods, and hit the ice, but that wouldn’t always work depending on the thickness of the ice and the limited amount of charge he was allowed to work with at the time. Maybe Mei would have some ideas. If not, he was sure that her mother would be happy to help.

When Todoroki, Ojiro, and Hagakure finally exited the building, All Might moved them along to the next one in the line. “I had several buildings set up as possible tests,” he explained to the group. “Another teacher warned me something like this might happened.” Todoroki had apparently melted the ice enough to get their classmates free, but hadn’t done anything about the ice that covered the rest of the floor. It would melt on its own, but there was no way for them to continue the testing in that building as it was.

Once they reached the new building, All Might reached into his box and pulled out two more names. “Our next villains are…Bakugou Katsuki and Uraraka Ochako!”

Izuku knew that Bakugou wouldn’t be too pleased with having to play the role of the villain, but what he hadn’t expected was the exasperated expression on his face as the friendly girl who had greeted him in the classroom the day before moved to his side.

“Well, would you look at that, Bakugou-kun. It seems like it’s your lucky day,” Uraraka said grinning, the tilt to her head as she looked at her new partner giving Izuku the impression that she knew exactly what she was dealing with and wasn’t accustomed to backing down easily. If Bakugou had finally met his match in one Uraraka Ochako, Izuku wanted to be her new best friend. Her smile was oddly reminiscent of Mei’s, although a little less evil scientist and a little more sweet. Suddenly, Izuku had the overwhelming urge to introduce the two of them.

Those plans would have to wait though. Izuku would need to talk to Uraraka, but his train of thought was broken when he heard All Might call his name.

“And our heroes….. Midoriya Izuku and Iida Tenya!”

Chapter Text

The situation could be a lot worse, Izuku knew, but it could have also been a lot better. Iida searched for him through the crowd of their classmates, and when his eyes met Izuku’s it was easy for Izuku to guess what his new partner was thinking. Iida Tenya had written Izuku off the moment that he found out he was quirkless, and now he felt stuck with him. Like if he won it would be despite being partner with him instead of because of it. Izuku was fine with that for now, already running through ideas of what Bakugou and Uraraka were doing inside the building that was to become their test.

Izuku wondered if All Might realized that this trial would be slightly different from all the rest, and not just because of Izuku’s quirklessness. He and Bakugou were the only members of their class that had spent any significant time together before coming to Yuuei. Iida, Yaoyorozu, and Todoroki might have met once or twice because of their families, but they weren’t childhood friends like Izuku and Bakugou. The two of them knew each other better than the rest of their classmates, and that meant they were both more likely to understand their possible course of action.

As Iida approached him, Izuku ran a hand over the belt that he had strapped around his waist. It felt weird to wear it with his new gym clothes instead of what he usually wore when he met with Aizawa, but he was sure he would get used to it before long. The dark fabric stood out against the bright blue of their uniform, and Izuku had already seen a few questions looks in his direction when they first met for the exercise. Kaminari had given him a thumbs up, mouthing ‘ninja’ to which Izuku had rolled his eyes.

The belt had several pouches and pockets, all of which Izuku had made sure were stocked with his latest supply of goodies from Mei, and there were two loops of fabric-one on each side at his hip- to keep his rods in place until he needed them. Watching the counter tick down, Izuku pressed a finger to the mechanism along the right side of the belt, unlocking the pockets and rods all at once. If he had wanted too, Izuku could have unlocked them individually, but in this case he thought it would be better to be safe than sorry. It wasn’t like he had to worry about being kidnapped or someone stealing his gear when he was in the middle of a Yuuei exercise, after all.

Iida frowned at him when he finally reached him. Maybe he had expected Izuku to go to him, rather than the other way around, but Izuku saw no reason to move when he was the one standing beside All Might.

“This won’t be easy,” Iida said, when he was close enough for Izuku to hear. “I don’t know much about Uraraka-san’s quirk, but from what I’ve seen of Bakugou-kun’s they will be very strong offensively.”

“It won’t be easy for them either,” Izuku replied. “Besides, we do have at least one advantage. Maybe two.”

Iida didn’t look convinced by Izuku’s claim. “And what are they, exactly?”

“Katsuki and I know each other well, but I probably have more up to date knowledge of what he can do than he has of me. Something he isn’t very likely to acknowledge. He’s going to assume he knows all about what I can do and what I’ve learned, when he definitely hasn’t been kept in the loop.” Iida looked curious by that comment, pushing his glasses up his nose as he nodded.

“And the other advantage?”

“He paid you absolutely zero attention yesterday, while I, on the other hand, made a point to watch everyone’s quirks. Maybe Uraraka got a decent grasp on what you can do, but I bet Katsuki didn’t. Uraraka’s quirk seems simply enough to understand. She can either completely remove or at least alleviate the effects of gravity. I saw her touch her clothes and shoes before a couple of the events during Aizawa’s test yesterday.”

“That is helpful for strategizing,” Iida said, “but that still leaves the problem of actually stopping the missile. They are both bound to guard it themselves, and make us come to them. It would be the most logical decision given the situation.”

“The situation?” Izuku asked, and from the corner of his eye he saw All Might’s head snap in his direction. Too much Aizawa, Izuku thought, and forced a smile on his face.

“I appreciate your analysis of the situation, Midoriya-san. Your information about both Uraraka-san’s and Bakugou-san’s quirks will be helpful. That being said, there will not be much that you can do in the way of addressing their quirks. They will either direct their attention on you so that I am unable to reach the missile, or they will split their attention and still leave you to deal with one of them alone. Either way-”

“If they would both focus on me, I think that would make this easier for us. Not harder. I’m not really seeing the logic in that, Iida-san,” Izuku said, keeping the pleasant smile on his face.

“I cannot leave you to fight them alone,” Iida said, looking horrified with the very idea. “Bakugou-san does not look like the type to hold back.”

Izuku could feel his expression slipping. “I’m just curious, Iida-san. How do you think that I got into Yuuei? You seem to be under the impression that I just landed here, but surely your opinion of Yuuei’s standards isn’t that low. You did choose to go here after all.”

“Midoriya-kun-” Iida started to say, but the timer rang, interrupting him.

“Iida-kun, Midoriya-kun, you can now enter the building!” All Might said.

“We don’t have time for this argument now,” Izuku said. “Just trust that I know what I’m doing. Bakugou would have put the missile at the very top. More chances to defend it from there. And I doubt he’s going to give us very long before he makes his first move.”

Iida hurried to follow him. “Like I said, Midoriya-san, they are much more likely to be waiting for us near the missile. There is no reason for them to come to us when they have the advantage.”

They entered the building one after the other, Izuku taking a quick glance down the hallway before stepping inside. It looked a lot like the building from his test two years ago, although this one wasn’t empty inside. The inside of the building seemed to have been modeled after an office, a series of small rooms connected by a long hallway. At the end of each hallway stood a staircase, although Izuku couldn’t see much through the shadows. Despite is being bright outside, the hallway was dark. The few windows that lined the hall were small, the blinds folded flat to block out the sun. Another hallway branched off directly in front of the door, but that one was even darker. If the building had been wired for electricity no one had bothered to turn it on.

“Maybe, if it were someone else that might be true. But Katsuki won’t think you being paired with me is the advantage you seem to think it is. Besides, waiting just isn’t something he would be likely to do. Katsuki likes to strike first and strike hard. He’s not going to wait for us to come to him.” Izuku started down the hallway towards the left staircase, but Iida didn’t follow, staying where he was in the middle of the hallway.

“Iida-san,” Izuku said, and it was a struggle to keep the frustration out of his voice. Izuku knew Bakugou better than anyone else here. If he had a quirk, he doubted they would be having this conversation at all. Iida said that he appreciated Izuku’s analysis of their situation, but he still seemed hung up on actually following through with Izuku’s advice. “The longer we wait here, the less time we have.”

Iida looked torn between following Izuku down the hall and wanting to argue, but knowing that standing in the building’s doorway wasn’t going to do much in the way of winning this test. Doing something finally won out over doing nothing, and Iida followed him to the stairway.

“We need a plan,” Iida said, coming behind him as Izuku started up the stairs. “I can draw their attention off you, and you can go for the missile.”

Izuku paused in the stairwell, listening before turning the corner onto the next floor. Without a word, he held up a hand signaling for Iida to stop talking, reaching for one of his rods with the other.

“What?” Iida whispered. Or at least, Izuku thought it was meant to be a whisper. For all that Iida liked to think that Izuku would be the problem, he didn’t seem to know the first thing about stealth. His whisper sounded more like a muffled shout, and it echoed in the small stairwell. Several floors above them the door slammed open, and Izuku pushed back at Iida quickly. They needed to go up to get to the missile, but the last thing they needed was to be stuck in an enclosed space with Bakugou.

Iida made a face at Izuku’s hurried motions, but turned around. Izuku couldn’t tell from where they were if it was Bakugou or Uraraka coming towards them, but knowing his luck it would have to be Bakugou. If what Izuku had heard about the entrance exam was true, then Uraraka would probably know Bakugou well enough to volunteer to stay with the missile so her newly minted partner in crime could prowl the building for them. If they could get back down the hallway and through the other stairwell before he saw them then they might be able to avoid a fight for the time being.

If Izuku had picked the other stairwell they wouldn’t have run into Bakugou at all, but it still felt hard not to tell Iida ‘I told you so.’ Maybe he would save that for when everything was said and done.

As they crept back into the main hallway, Izuku almost wanted to turn around and wait for Bakugou to see them. Izuku had long since grown passed letting the opinion of Bakugou Katsuki determine his self-worth. He wasn’t a defenseless first year middle schooler anymore, and he didn’t need Bakugou’s approval or his friendship. After so long apart, they were classmates again, and Izuku was fine with that. He couldn’t let their shared past continue to have an effect on his life.

That being said, Izuku felt like a true confrontation between the two of them was a long time coming. For years it had been Bakugou taking advantage of the fact that Izuku didn’t have a quirk to bully and belittle him. Izuku still didn’t have a quirk, but a lot about their situations had changed since those days in elementary school. The outcome in those days had been all but set in stone, but Izuku didn’t think that would be the case anymore. In fact, he was almost sure of it. Izuku reached for the other rod still secured in his belt and pulled it free as well, flipping it between his fingers to adjust his grip. He fought against a smile.

First, could he rationalize it though? Izuku didn’t make a habit of seeking out fights for no reason, and he wasn’t about to start doing it now. Aizawa would kill him himself if he did, and Izuku wouldn’t last very long as a pro if he tried. As much as he was curious about testing himself against Bakugou, he couldn’t do it now unless it was actually the right decision. There were other things at stake here, more important things than getting their inevitable confrontation out of the way.

Iida wasn’t going to listen to him. Izuku could strategize and argue until their time ran out, and Iida would still thing that he would need protecting. The only way to get his classmate over that unfortunate mindset was to prove him wrong. Iida seemed like the kind of person who needed verifiable proof of something before he could take it seriously, and Izuku wasn’t going to give him that if they snuck off to try to find the missile. Bakugou would continue to try to find them, and they would waste more time than they could afford trying to avoid him.

Then there was the issue of when Bakugou actually found them. The building wasn’t that big. It was basically just a glorified prop after all. A few floors laid out with a simple enough plan to force them to run into each other eventually, especially with the objective of this exercise. After all the time they would waste trying to avoid a fight, they would waste even more when Iida acted as though Izuku was a poor civilian who had gotten caught in the crossfire. They would fail the test, Iida would blame him, and Izuku would have to work even harder.

So clearly the only reasonable thing for Izuku to do was fight Bakugou. Aizawa would have to agree. Eventually.

“Iida, I can distract Katsuki,” Izuku said, “and before you argue, I can handle it. You go and find the missile. Since you thought you were going to have to fight both of them by yourself, I’m sure you can figure out a way to get around Uraraka alone.”

Iida turned, his eyes flashing down to the weapons in Izuku’s hands.

“Normally I wouldn’t advocate splitting up, but if we don’t we’re never going to get anywhere.”

Izuku could hear Bakugou getting closer, and if Iida didn’t move quickly then they would both be stuck. Bakugou wasn’t an idiot. If he saw Iida trying to slip away then Izuku’s distraction would be worth nothing. “Stop wasting time,” Izuku said. “Go!”

Iida’s indecision was clear, so Izuku made the choice for him. “I’m not moving from this spot until I see Katsuki. You can either wait with me and lose, or you can go ahead and secure the missile. This is the best chance we have at winning, whether you trust me or not. And if Katsuki manages to beat me, what do you really have to lose? It will have at least bought you a few minutes more minutes.” Not that Izuku intended to lose, of course.

“Be careful,” Iida said, because Izuku really was leaving him no other options, and then he was gone. One day, Izuku would have to ask him more about how his quirk worked. Those jets could end up being extremely problematic under the right circumstances-both to Iida and to the villains he would be facing. Now wasn’t the time for that though. This was the best plan. Iida would reach the missile faster than if he was slowing himself down for Izuku, and the longer Izuku could hold Bakugou off the better.

As if he had planned for his entrance for the dramatic effect alone, Bakugou appeared at the bottom of the stairs the instant after Iida disappeared from view. He clearly hadn’t expected to see Izuku standing there, waiting for him with eskrima rods in hand, because he slid to a stop and stared at him across the empty hallway.

Once upon a time, Bakugou would have attacked him without hesitation. There would have been no waiting, not silence, just a screamed curse and an explosion directed straight for his head. Bakugou’s almost uncontrollable anger had been a constant Izuku had grown to expect over the years, and he had always expected that it would his classmate’s downfall as well.

Anger was easy to manipulate once you knew it was there. A few pointed words, an expression, a lack of response. There were so many ways to play on someone else’s anger as long as you were fine with getting burned in the process, and in Izuku’s experience villains didn’t care much about their own personal safety.

Whatever Bakugou had experienced that had made him re-evaluate his life seemed to have changed him for the better. Even after the rumors of what had gone on during the entrance exam and the way that Uraraka acted around him, Izuku had been a little hesitant to believe that anything had really changed. This was Bakugou, after all. And Izuku knew Bakugou better than anyone. Maybe Izuku had needed to see some definitive proof himself.

The silence didn’t last long. Some of the anger and hatred Bakugou had felt towards Izuku may have drained away, but he was still Bakugou Katsuki. He didn’t wait for someone else to dictate the terms of a fight. As Bakugou’s stance shifted, Izuku moved to match it. Enough of that anger remained though, that Izuku knew exactly what to do. He smirked at Bakugou with a careful bow, and disappeared into the darkest of the open corridor to his right.

“All Might? You said the buildings have surveillance systems, right?”

The hero turned to see that a student had stepped away from the group to ask his question. The rest of the students were doing a terrible job of making it seem as though they weren’t listening. “Yes, Kaminari-kun. As I said, we will be reviewing this footage during tomorrow’s class.”

“Is there any way that we could watch it… now?”

All Might understood where the students were coming from. The second round of the test had already lasted far longer than the first, and so far there had been no sounds from inside the building. Unexpected, given Bakugou’s quirk. It wasn’t the most exciting of tests to watch, but it was necessary.

“Now, that wouldn’t be fair, would it?” All Might asked, grinning at Kaminari. “The purpose of this test is to see how you use your quirk and your ability to strategize. Watching how other groups solve the problems of retrieving the missile or protecting it would give the later groups an unfair advantage. Pretend as though nothing else were going on, and talk amongst yourselves. Use this time as an opportunity to get to know your classmates!”

Of course, as soon as he said that a series of explosions sounded from the building. There would be no hope of calming the students down now.

Chapter Text

Iida instantly felt bad for leaving Midoriya alone with Bakugou.

He wasn’t exactly sure what else he could have done in that situation, but he was sure that there was something. Every problem had a solution. How many times had Tensei drilled that into his head. Every problem has a solution, Tenya, his brother would say, generally when he had Iida stuck in some kind of embarrassing situation. Use that big brain of yours and figure it out.

Although Iida was a firm believer in the fact that his brother could do anything, he wondered what his brother would have said in the face of Midoriya Izuku. Iida knew himself well enough to know that he was stubborn, but he didn’t think he would ever meet someone who had a worse case of thick headedness than himself.

Midoriya Izuku, though, put him to shame.

No matter what he said, Iida knew that Midoriya wasn’t going to listen to him. It didn’t matter that Iida had seen firsthand the danger that came with being a pro hero. However Midoriya had been accepted to Yuuei, he had been set on following this path and nothing a relative stranger said was going to change his mind. It didn’t matter that Iida was right.

He couldn’t let distract him now though. Midoriya wanted to distract Bakugou? Iida would have to leave him to try. He had tried his best to reason with his partner, but there was nothing else he could do in this situation short of physically dragging Midoriya away with him. He had considered that option, but Midoriya definitely would have fought him on it, and they had a test they were supposed to be focusing on. Iida refused to fail because of the luck of the draw. He would just have to get as far as he could and hope for the best.

It took Iida seconds to reach the top of the stairs and exit onto the open floor. Like the bottom floor, the lights were out, and Iida could barely see anything beyond the light from the stairwell. This floor had no visible windows, just a long branching hallway with doors that opened into empty offices. The door slamming when Bakugou entered the stairwell had sounded like it had come from here though, so Uraraka and the missile had to be there somewhere.

Slowly, Iida stepped into the hallway, dragging the door closed behind him. He could do nothing about the sound it made as the metal slid home though, and he winced at the way the small sound seemed loud in the emptiness. If Uraraka was up here, she knew that Iida had arrived.

It was fine though. Iida could do this, partner or no partner. He was still faster than both Uraraka and Bakugou, and he could get the missile before the timer ran out. Midoriya wasn’t his problem right now.

Taking a deep breath, Iida crept along the hallway as quietly as he could, glancing into each room as he passed. They were all empty for the most part. A few prop computers and desks sat covered in tarps in some, but there was no sign of Uraraka or the missile. There was no sign that anyone had been here at all. Maybe he had been wrong. The top floor had been a good guess, but it was also an obvious guess. Cursing at the precious time he had wasted, Iida decided to rush through checking the last couple of rooms and head down another floor.

A burst of speed to check in each room and he could be on his way. Iida realized he had made a mistake the moment he entered the final room and the light flicked on. Iida saw the missile sitting on the side of the room a second before a hand touched him gently on the shoulder.

Somehow, Izuku had forgotten how much Bakugou’s explosions could sting. His expression had done the trick, after all. Bakugou had paid no attention to the fact that Iida was nowhere to be seen and had gone after Izuku the second he had finished that taunting bow. Bakugou had apparently changed, but his impulsiveness was clearly there to stay. That worked fine for Izuku. The longer he could lead Bakugou on the better. Izuku might not exactly have faith in Iida’s skill, but at least he held a higher opinion of his partner’s abilities than Iida did of Izuku’s own.

Izuku, at least, had his role in this test covered. At the moment that was all that he could worry about. Bakugou hadn’t been there to see any of Izuku’s new gifts from Mei, and Izuku was looking forward to the opportunity to test them out. Playing around in Mei’s lab or with Aizawa wasn’t quite the same as launching an explosive right back at Bakugou’s obnoxious face. Even if the impact wasn’t quite at the same level as his classmate’s quirk. Yet. He and Mei were building up a pretty good argument for an adjustment, and if he played his cards right, Izuku could add this whole exercise as an example of why it was necessary.

First though, Izuku needed to find a place to make his stand. He couldn’t run away from Bakugou forever. The setup of the building wouldn’t allow that, and if Izuku didn’t fight back soon, Bakugou was going to figure out that something was up. Only problem was that the building didn’t leave him a lot of options. The hallway was a little too enclosed for his tastes, but the rooms were either stacked full of random objects or empty. There was no happy middle ground.

Another explosion blasted from behind him, much closer than the last one. Izuku slid to a stop, turning to face Bakugou as he reached into his belt. The moment Bakugou saw that Izuku wasn’t running, he stopped as well, eyeing him carefully. A standoff again. This time Izuku wasn’t going to run though. The time for goading had passed.

“Izuku,” Bakugou growled, and although he didn’t immediately charge him, Izuku could tell that he wanted to. Bakugou’s hands clenched, the smell of smoke filling the air around them.

“Well, after all these years, I’m glad that you finally learned my name, Katsuki,” Izuku said easily, unable to resist, and tossed a yellow ball in Bakugou’s direction.

Bakugou rightly guessed that it was a weapon and raised a hand to block his face. He wrongly guessed that an explosion would be just the thing to deal with the new problem. Izuku turned, covering his face right as the ball exploded in a flash of blinding white light. Bakugou must have been looking right at it, because he hissed.

When Izuku turned back to see what he was doing, Bakugou had one hand covering his eyes while the other was groping blindly at the walls. Izuku knew the feeling. He had set one off on purpose just to see what the effects were like. Aizawa had been pissed, but Izuku argued that he needed to know exactly how the victims would be reacting so that he wouldn’t underestimate them. That comment had gotten him a week’s grounding from his mother and a ban on all his gadgets for the same period of time, but Izuku still thought it was worth it. The effects weren’t damaging, but they were effective.

Quickly, with Bakugou still trying to find his footing again, Izuku brought the two eskrima rods end to end, fitting them together the way that Mei had shown him. A twist and he could hear the hum that signaled that the charges at each end were live.

“What the hell was that?” Bakugou asked. He had removed the hand covering his eyes, but he still blinked owlishly at the empty hallway. Izuku wished he could have turned the lights on. It would have made the whole thing more effective.

“A gift from a friend,” Izuku said, twirling the now connected rods between his fingers. Another press of a button and the rods extended, so that now Izuku held something roughly the size of a staff. Bakugou stumbled again, blinking rapidly as if he could clear them after the blast. His hands sparked, and Izuku knew that he had to move quickly. Even if Bakugou couldn’t see yet, his quirk had a far reach. He could set it off in Izuku’s general direction and still manage to catch him in the blast.

Bakugou seemed to get the same idea. He stumbled once more, then lunged. Izuku jumped back, batting Bakugou’s hand away with his staff. The explosion went off towards the wall instead of Izuku, covering them in dust and drywall. The cloud put them on a more even playing field for a moment, not that Bakugou could tell yet. He cursed, and Izuku let out an uneasy laugh.

“This is just a test, Katsuki. Don’t bring the whole building down on us.”

Bakugou wiped a hand across his face again. “I’m not an idiot.” Izuku wanted to argue the point, just for the sake of it, but Bakugou shifted again, his movements much more confident. Izuku couldn’t be sure if the flash was wearing off, or if Bakugou was just getting used to the feeling, but he wasn’t going to wait to find out.

He aimed the end of the rod for Bakugou’s foot. The charge might not be strong enough to do any lasting damage, but he would still feel it through the fabric of his sweatpants. The second the staff met his ankle, Bakugou yelp, a strangled sound that Izuku had never heard his classmate make before. He jerked his foot up and back, away from the source that he still couldn’t see. That was went Izuku struck again, swiping at Bakugou’s other leg with the staff and knocking him flat to the ground.

The trick wouldn’t have worked if Bakugou had been able to see the staff coming, but then that had been the whole point. He would be more wary now, and the flash had to be wearing off. Izuku needed to regroup.

“Well, this certainly is a change of pace, isn’t it?”

How much time had passed now? Surely enough for Iida to reach the top floor. Izuku wished that he could be up there, figuring out what was going on. He had known that it would probably end up like this though, as soon as All Might put him against Bakugou. Things might have run smoother if his partner had been anyone other than Iida, but it wouldn’t have changed the fact that it would come down to him and Bakugou distracting each other while their partners fought over the missile.

Bakugou pushed himself to his feet, wobbling for a second before standing straight. “That’s new.”

Izuku shrugged. “I make do.”

Yes, Iida had miscalculated. In hindsight, his speed might not have been the best match for Uraraka’s quirk. It was too late for him to stop when she touched his shoulder and activated her quirk. Iida, weightless but still moving, crashing into the opposite wall. For a second he couldn’t breathe, the air knocked from his lungs. He barely had a second to register the feeling though.

Uraraka must have released her quirk because Iida crashed face first into the ground. He gasped at the impact, dragging in a long, shaking breath. What did a concussion feel like? Iida had never experienced one before, but it seemed like knowledge he should have had on hand. Did concussion make you feel like you were going to throw up?

Iida didn’t have time to consider it now. Bakugou hadn’t arrived yet, which meant that Midoriya was still somehow keeping their classmate occupied. Iida needed to do his part. He needed to get the missile.

Uraraka looked worried as he forced himself to his feet. Not for the missile, Iida didn’t think, but for him. It wasn’t until he tasted blood that he realized he hadn’t gotten away with falling flat on his face unscathed. He would feel the pain eventually, but at the moment all he could focus on was how he was going to get that missile away from Uraraka.

She stood in front of it protectively, a hand reached out to touch the smooth casing. Even with his quirk, Iida wouldn’t be able to reach her before she activated her quirk. He had to try though.

“Fuck, Dek-Shit. Izuku. Stop running!”

Aizawa would give him the flattest of disappointed looks if he knew, but Izuku was actually having fun annoying Bakugou like this. He would claim it was Mei’s influence, but he couldn’t pass that lie off even to himself. A little harmless fun at Bakugou’s expense was called for, in his very humble opinion. And it was harmless. All for the purpose of the test.

Another explosion from behind him, although Izuku thought it was more out of frustration than Bakugou actually trying to hit him. That was another change from the Bakugou Izuku had been expecting. In the past, Bakugou hadn’t shied away from hitting Izuku with the full force of his quirk. When they were kids’ it hadn’t been as bad. Bakugou was still trying to figure out his ability for himself, and there were more misfires than there were purposeful explosions.

That had changed as they grew closer to middle school though, and the blasts that had been more terrifying than painful began to leave lasting marks. Nothing permanent, of course, but they were marks that Izuku had hid from his mother so that she wouldn’t worry more than she already did. Bakugou hadn’t been concerned about hurting Izuku. Or anyone finding out that he had hurt Izuku for that matter.

Now though, the closest Bakugou had gotten to actually hurting him was a passing blow that singed the end of his sleeve and left a faint red line running up his arm. He wasn’t pulling any punches. As a matter of fact, his quirk seemed stronger than the last time Izuku had seen it up close. He had to have been training since the incident at the warehouse. It made Izuku all the more curious about what had happened to cause such a change, to make Bakugou shift his attacks from trying to blow Izuku’s face off to trying to knock him off balance.

Izuku slid to a stop again as they came to a dead end, considering his options. An office door stood open to his left, but Izuku ignored it. A twist and the staff compressed, coming apart in Izuku’s hand. The buzz of the charge vanished as the two parts separated, and Izuku flipped the rods in his hands to readjust his grip.

“Nowhere to run now,” Izuku said, shifting his stance. Bakugou had him cornered now, but the timer had to be running down. What was Iida doing?

Bakugou grinned, both of his hands sparking. Izuku lifted both his rods in response. He had redirected Bakugou’s blasts before. He could do it again. If he could get around him, get the empty hallway behind him-Izuku didn’t have time to get a plan fully formed. Bakugou was moving again, raising his hands in Izuku’s direction. Izuku smiled to match him, breathing in the smell of smoke and nitroglycerin.

The sound of a buzzer interrupted them, both of them freezing at the sound. A count down boomed through the building as the stood looking at each other, eyes wide. The countdown hit zero and the buzzer sounded again. It felt like an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. A test that Izuku had desperately wanted to pass coming down to a blaring alarm announcing his failure.

Bakugou looked annoyed at the interruption, but the building explosion in his hands fizzled out. He pointed a finger in Izuku’s direction, shoulders hunched as he said, “This didn’t count.”

The comment threw Izuku. His arms dropped, but his grip on the rods didn’t loosen.

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “Did my quirk rattle your brain?” He asked. “I know what you were doing. Glasses wouldn’t have lasted five seconds against me, and we both know it.” He pointed at Izuku again, frowning. “Next time, none of this fake mission bullshit. No partners. I’ll beat you fair and square, so this one doesn’t count.”

He looked so serious that Izuku had to fight back a laugh. “Awww, Katsuki. I didn’t know that you care.”

“Shut it, asshole,” Bakugou responded, turning his back to him. “Idiot.”

He and Bakugou weren’t good yet, and Izuku doubted they would ever really be friends. That was the most positive interaction they had ever had though, and Izuku saw it as progress. They didn’t need to be friends to work together or be classmates. So long as they weren’t constantly trying to kill each other, Izuku would count it as a win. He needed one of those today.

When he met Iida outside, his partner had crooked glasses and a broken nose. Blood still covered his face, making the serious look on his face even more grave.

“I still think that you are making a mistake,” Iida said, “but I owe you an apology. You fulfilled your role in this test, and I was the one who failed mine.”

“It was a team effort,” Izuku said. “We both failed. At least this time it wasn’t for a grade. Next time though, if we do get partnered together again, I hope that you’ll listen to what I have to say. I’m not here on a whim, Iida-kun. I worked hard to get accepted to Yuuei, and I won’t have my classmates lack of faith in me be the reason I’m anything less than successful here.”

Iida nodded, but didn’t say anything else as they rejoined their classmates. He could see them giving Izuku’s burnt sleeve and Iida’s bloody face with appraising looks.

“And another round complete!” All Might said. In this form, he didn’t need a megaphone to project his voice over the field. “I’m sure that will be an interesting watch!” His hand hovered over the box of names. “And with that, we have two out of three of our recommendation students down! Shall we try for a third?”

All Might may have been horrible at noticing social cues, but even he didn’t miss the silence that fell as his words resonated with the assembled students.

“What?” He asked, looked around at them confused. “What did I say?”

“Recommendation student?” Someone asked. “Other than Todoroki?”

“It’s not Bakugou,” Kirishima said. “He and Uraraka were kind of memorable.”


“No, he was there too, remember? He spoke out when Aizawa was giving instructions.”

“Holy shit,” Kaminari said. “Midoriya?!”

And just like that all eyes were on him, as Izuku met All Might’s horrified expression with one of his own.

Chapter Text

Izuku had no shame in admitting he fled the classroom the moment they were dismissed. He had a murder to prevent, and he didn’t have time to waste answering his classmates’ pointless questions. After All Might’s slipup, Izuku had avoided the onslaught by pretending he had suddenly and inexplicably forgotten how to understand Japanese. Pointed looks from Bakugou might have also helped his case, as well as All Might panicking and interrupting them before they had any real chance to voice to disbelief that Izuku could see so clearly written on their faces. He knew he would have to deal with them at some point, but stopping his mentor from murdering the Symbol of Peace took priority.

Without bothering to respond to the call of his name behind him, Izuku all but ran to office. All Might had screwed up, and Aizawa was sure to have heard about it by now. He wouldn’t have had time for a confrontation until the school day had ended, so there was only one place All Might could have gone with any hope of making it out with his limbs still intact-Nedzu.

Later, Izuku would apologize profusely to the poor receptionist that he had barreled past without an attempt at an explanation, but as he burst into Nedzu’s office he only had one thing on his mind. Therefore, it took him a moment to gather his wits and assess the truth of the situation before him.

Aizawa looked angry just as he had expected him to be, but when Izuku’s attention shifted from his mentor to the emaciated form of Toshinori, that was when everything he had anticipated fell apart. Toshinori didn’t have the open expression on his face that Izuku had seen as he stammered out his apology for ambushing him with his offer of One for All. In fact, Toshinori wasn’t looking at Aizawa at all. He was turned away from the pro hero beside him, his focus instead on Nedzu who sat calmly on the other side of the desk, steaming mug of tea in his hands. None of them noticed Izuku’s entrance, and so he hung back watching as their conversation played out in front of him.

“This was important information for me to know!” Toshinori was saying, his voice no less forceful for the change in his appearance. Although his obsession with All Might had faded to the background once Izuku started working with Aizawa, he had still spent years hanging onto every scrap of video that he could get his hands on. Throughout all the fights that All Might had been a part of, Izuku wasn’t sure that he had ever heard that edge to his voice before, although he couldn’t quite place the emotion it represented. Anger, surely, but something else as well.

“That was for me to decide,” Nedzu said, giving away no sign that he was at all bothered by the confrontation.

“No, actually, that was for Izuku to decide,” Aizawa said. His hands were stuffed into his pockets, but Izuku knew of the effort it was probably taking him to remain calm. This was exactly the situation they had wanted to avoid, and Nedzu had made sure that all of their careful work and planned answers had been for nothing. He was only lucky that Hizashi had apparently elected to leave this issue to Aizawa. He had all of the anger and almost none of the self-control Aizawa managed to show when it came to Izuku’s safety. “And he decided that he wanted to wait before revealing his recommendation status to his classmates.”

“If I had known that Midoriya wanted this to be a secret for the time being, I never would have said such a thoughtless comment. You let me believe that they knew already. In fact, you specifically went out of your way to imply that they knew. I, more than anyone, know the importance of secrets, and you used me to put young Midoriya’s out in the open.”

“It’s better this way,” Nedzu started, hold up a hand as Aizawa began to interrupt. “No. Hear me out. It is better this way. You can’t keep something like this a secret forever. The teachers know. The board knows. Some of the press knows, although they are currently respecting our request to keep this quiet for Midoriya’s safety. That won’t last very long, and we need to get the public on our side about his place at this school sooner rather than later. Whether he wants the attention from this or not, he’s making history here and Yuuei is making history by allowing it. You want Midoriya to be successful in this? So do I. But that means that you have to play the game. That’s what I’m here for.”

“You could have come to us,” Aizawa argued. “You could have explained your reasoning to us yourself. Instead you let Izuku and I believe that you were on board with our play and then blew it up behind our backs. That’s not simply playing the game. You were toying with us, and now Izuku is going to have to play the price.”

“What price? He’s had time to get to know his classmates, to see what their reactions to him being quirkless are. Now he’ll know whether any change of heart they seem to have about him is because of his abilities or because he got in on recommendations.” Nedzu still seemed unbothered by the entire exchange, sipping his tea.

“Sometimes, old friend, you go too far,” Toshinori said. “I would advise you not to do something like this again.”

Nedzu smiled, “Why, Toshinori, was that-”

“I want an apology,” Izuku interrupted. The look on the principal’s face had been a little gleeful for Izuku’s comfort. The look didn’t change as his attention shifted from Toshinori to Izuku standing behind him.

“Midoriya, so nice of you to join us. What was that you said?”

So that was how this was going to go.

“I said that I want an apology.” Izuku was tired. He had put up with people doubting him all day, all week. He was tired and sore, and even though it had been hours he still felt like he smelled of smoke. Izuku wanted to go home and do his homework and talk to his mother about his day, and he didn’t want to play whatever ridiculous game his principal had decided would be the best use of their time. “You’ve done a lot for me, Principal Nedzu, and I appreciate that. But what you did was wrong. It was wrong of you to do this without telling us, it was wrong of you to use All Might like this. I should have had the chance to deal with my classmates on my own before they found out about you letting me in on recommendations. That was what we agreed to. You want me to trust you, right? Then you can’t do things like this just because you can.” Izuku knew he was being rude. He shouldn’t be speaking this way to the principal of Yuuei, but he was past the point of caring. This day had been trying enough, and he refused to be sorry for speaking his mind.

“Well,” Nedzu said, glancing from Aizawa to Toshinori and back. “Then I am sorry that I have caused you trouble, Midoriya-kun.”

“But you aren’t sorry that you did it?” Aizawa asked, a dangerous edge to his voice.

“As I said, Aizawa-sensei, I believe this to have been the best course of action. The students did not learn this information from you, so there will be nothing to help them make the connection there. Could I have gone about this a different way? Yes. But I felt this was best, and I will not apologize for that.”

“Toshinori is right. You do go too far. Put Izuku’s well-being in jeopardy again and I will remove him from your influence, Nedzu. Do not test me on this. You will find yourself down two teachers and a student who could do this school some good.”

They had talked about this before, of course. Before the recommendation, before Nedzu’s test. The entrance exam wasn’t designed for people who didn’t have purely physical quirks let alone someone without a quirk. They knew they would have to have other options if Yuuei didn’t work out. None of those plans had involved Aizawa quitting though. At least, as far as Izuku knew.

“Two teachers?” Nedzu asked. “You speak for Yamada-sensei as well?”

“Do not do something like this again, Nedzu. I mean it. You will not like what I do in response.”

Izuku left the office first, not wanting to draw even more attention to himself by being seen leaving with both Aizawa and All Might. He doubted it would be the last time he saw either of them that day though. Inko had given them a standing invitation to the apartment for a reason, and Izuku would be surprised if they didn’t both take her up on that offer today, if only to apologize to Izuku for how everything had fallen out. He also doubted this would be the end to whatever plans Nedzu seemed to have going on, but he didn’t have the mental space to worry about that problem at the moment. If he hurried he would probably have enough time to warn his mother about what had happened before they arrived.

He hadn’t realized how long they had argued before everyone had final accepted the fact that there was nothing they could do about the situation now. The secret was out, and there wasn’t any way to make the class forget it. Izuku would have to deal with his classmates eventually, that timeline had just been moved up a little bit. He could handle that right?

Stepping outside the main building, Izuku took a moment to close his eyes and breathe. He thought that he had done a fairly good job of keeping his own anger in check in Nedzu’s office. Seeing how shaken Izuku actually was about the situation might have pushed Aizawa passed the short thread of self-control he seemed to have left regarding Nedzu and his meddling, and Izuku didn’t want to be the reason that Aizawa quit his job on the spot. Not that he would have trouble finding a new school, Aizawa was scary good at what he did after all, but Izuku knew how much he loved Yuuei despite his grumbling. And if Aizawa quit it would only be a matter of time before Hizashi did as well.

Still though, now that he was away from the crushed look on Toshinori’s face and Aizawa’s murder stare, it was hard to fight back the wave of anger he felt about this entire situation. He was supposed to have the chance to do things his way, finally. A chance to establish himself before the news of his recommendation status got out and the questions about his sponsor began. People were going to find out that it was Aizawa, it was only a matter of time. As much as they liked to think that they were better at being subtle, they had spent too much time around each other for too long. Izuku would have to deal with that fallout sooner than later as well.

One problem at a time though. He had told himself he had five more seconds to get everything back under control so he could go home when he heard someone call his name. Izuku opened his eyes to see Kaminari Denki running towards him from the main gates.

“Midoriya!” He called out again as he drew closer. “I thought that I had missed you somehow.”

Missed him? “Were you waiting on me?”

“Of course!” Kaminari grinned. “I wanted to see if you were alright.”

Maybe it was because Izuku had already reached his limit for surprises that day, but Kaminari’s words filtered through his head without meaning. “You wanted to see if I was alright?”

“Yeah, I mean,” Kaminari looked suddenly nervous, shifting his bag on his shoulder. “I saw your face when All Might said you were the other recommendation student, and you didn’t look happy. It was supposed to be a secret, right? You didn’t want anyone to know? You looked like you had just been ambushed, and everyone trying to talk to you about it couldn’t have helped.”

“I was going to tell everyone,” Izuku explained. “Eventually. I just wanted to get settled here first without… It’s-” Fine, he was going to say, but it wasn’t actually, and Izuku didn’t want to lie to Kaminari. Not when he actually seemed concerned about him. “I’ll handle it. I knew it was going to have to be talked about eventually.”

Kaminari nodded, looking hesitant before blurting out, “You know I wanted to be your friend, right?”

And that. Izuku didn’t know where that question had come from. “You what?”

“I wanted to be your friend,” Kaminari said again, voice a little steadier this time. “I want to be your friend, I mean. And I saw how you reacted in class today, and I didn’t want you to think that you were alone or that I only wanted to be your friend because All Might slipped up, because you know I thought you were a secret ninja before that whole test today. So yeah. That was all I wanted to say? I think. I think I said everything.”

Was that what Izuku sounded like when he rambled? Because that wasn’t nearly as bad as he had made it out to be in his head. Kaminari’s face was tinged red, and Izuku knew he needed to say something in response, but he wasn’t quite sure what. Mei was the only real friend he had ever had, and their friendship had started by her declaring it so. No one had ever asked to be his friend before, and this wasn’t a situation he had thought to prepare himself for when he ran through all his plans for what to do at Yuuei. Somehow making friends wasn’t something he had thought he needed to worry about.

“I know that,” Izuku said, although it hadn’t occurred to him until Kaminari had said that that was his intention. He may not fully understand why Kaminari wanted to be his friend, but he knew that his recommendation status wasn’t it. Some people might want to use Izuku to gain connections to the pro hero who had sponsored him, but Kaminari didn’t seem like that type of person.

“Yeah?” Kaminari asked, face still red.


Kaminari smiled like the sun.

Izuku did make it home before the trio of pro heroes but only barely. He had enough time to change into something more comfortable than his school uniform and give his mother the briefest of explanations of what had happened at school that day before Hizashi was bursting into the room at top volume. Inko would never regret giving Aizawa and Hizashi their own keys, but sometimes Izuku did miss the few extra seconds he would have had to prepare his mother for the latest round of drama while he went to open the door.

“Shouta told me what happened, Izuku! That manipulative-”

“Hizashi,” Inko warned, cutting him off gently. It was clear that Hizashi had also come straight from the school because he was still dressed in his hero uniform. “Go change clothes, and we can talk about it when Toshinori and Shouta get here. Okay?”

Hizashi nodded before heading back down the hall towards the bathroom, but he paused in front of Izuku, placing a hand on his shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Izuku. We’ll work it out somehow.” It shouldn’t have, but somehow Hizashi’s simple encouragement made him feel a little better.

Inko watched after Hizashi for a moment before turning back to Izuku. “Is it going to be bad, Izuku?” His mother was probably the smartest person he knew, but there were some things about his situation that she would never be able to understand no matter how hard she tried. She had a quirk, and until the realization that her son was quirkless himself, she had never given much thought to what that must be like. She tried, now, but as much as she tried it still wasn’t the same as being quirkless herself.

“I can handle it.”

“Izuku,” she said, her small hands cupping his face. “That wasn’t what I asked. Is this going to make things more difficult for you?”

He couldn’t look away from the concerned look in her eyes. “I knew they would wonder how I got in,” he said eventually, “but I had hoped that I would have more time to show them what I could do before they found out about the recommendation. Before, I was just some kid who learned how to fight. I could have picked that up anywhere. Now they are going to know that I have a sponsor, that a pro hero trained me. I don’t think they would suddenly change their minds about me because of that connection, but how can I know for sure?”

Kaminari had surprised Izuku, sure, but his concern was one that Izuku hadn’t thought far enough ahead at that point to be worried about. He had been more preoccupied with his classmates taking him seriously as a hero to worry about them trying to become friends with him because of his recommendation status. He genuinely believed that Kaminari wasn’t trying to use him, but what about the rest? Would he be as sure about them? No one had been outright rude to him besides Iida, but there had been enough tension for him to know that more than one person was wondering why he was there.

“Oh, Izuku.”

“Besides,” he continued, “it’s not really that coming out that I’m really concerned about. I was going to have to deal with this eventually. But Nedzu? Mom, he lied to All Might. Maybe not explicitly, but he used him to get what he wanted.” Izuku didn’t have to explain any further than that. Aizawa may still judge Toshinori for the way that he had approached Izuku, but he was still the Symbol of Peace for a reason. Anyone who was willing to manipulate a person like Toshinori wouldn’t have any problem doing the same to someone like Izuku. He had already done that, in fact, although Izuku had long written off the way that Nedzu had lied ot him about the outcome of his test against Aizawa’s old students.

“Do we need to be worried about him?” Inko asked.

“Not at the moment,” Aizawa answered for him, coming in the door with Toshinori following closely behind him. “Is Hizashi here yet?”

“Was just changing clothes,” he said, joining them in the hallway. “What did I miss?”

“Toshinori and I talked to Nedzu a little longer after Izuku left,” Aizawa said. “He’s not sorry for what he did, but I think the threat of the three of us quitting was enough to stay anymore intervention for now.”

“Three?” Izuku asked.

“I said I would quit as well, my boy,” Toshinori said, smiling softly at Izuku. “I truly am sorry for my part in this. I thought what I said would have been innocent commentary, and I didn’t mean to put you in the position you are in now.”

“I know you didn’t mean to,” Izuku assured him, because he couldn’t find it in himself to put any of the blame on the hero. Not with how crushed he had looked when he realized his mistake. “I don’t blame you for what happened.”

Toshinori relaxed, some of the tension leaving his shoulders at Izuku’s words. “Still, I wanted to apologize for how this all played out.”

“Nedzu has always loved his games,” Hizashi said. “It’s what has helped to push Yuuei to the level that it is now. This whole situation has given him a brand new playing field, and I don’t think he has a clear enough head to deal with the power this situation has given him. Shouta and I quitting would be a hassle for him, and he would have a hard time replacing us. All Might quitting? Just weeks after accepting the position? That would be a scandal that he doesn’t want to have to deal with.”

“He’ll behave for now,” Aizawa said, “but we’ll need to keep a better eye on the situation ourselves. Toshinori will have to be kept informed incase Nedzu tries anything like this again.”

“So what now?” Inko asked. Izuku couldn’t read the expression on her face. He knew that she had to be angry, had to be furious about how the situation was taken from Izuku’s hands, but she would have to trust that Aizawa and Hizashi knew what they were doing. Izuku knew that she would have marched down to the school herself if that would have made anything better. He loved her for that.

“Now we stick to the plan,” Aizawa said. “Izuku won’t mention who is sponsor is, and I have gotten the rest of the teachers on board with me. They already knew that Izuku was a recommendation student and that I am his sponsor. I talked to them about it before the year started. If they see students trying to pry, they’ll get the class back on task. That should help for now.”

“The class has a lot of events coming up too,” Hizashi said. “That should act as a distraction. Tomorrow, will be the worst of it, what with the video session. They’re going to see Izuku’s fight with Bakugou, and that’s going to drive his recommendation status home for a lot of them.”

“And we will be talking about that,” Aizawa said, smile tucked behind his scarves. “After that, you all have uniforms to test before they are finalized and class representatives to choose. That always gets the class distracted for at least two days. Then there’s the field trip for your next practical. The next real break won’t be until after that, and by then this will all be old news.”

“Practical exercise?” Izuku asked, because none of their teachers had mentioned anything about that yet. It seemed strange to already be looking forward to the next one when they had just finished the first today, but the way their test had gone still didn’t sit right with him, no matter what Aizawa seemed to think about his performance.

“You know nothing about that,” Aizawa said pointedly. “You heard nothing from me.”

“Heard nothing about what?”


“Besides that,” Aizawa continued, “there isn’t anything else we can prepare for at this point.”

They sat in silence for a moment, staring at each other over the table.

“Oh, go ahead,” Inko said, laughing. “Talk about that fight with Bakugou. I want to hear all about it. Hizashi, come help me with dinner.” And just like that the tension that had been mounting throughout their conversation was broken. Aizawa was right, after all. Izuku couldn’t guess what his class would have in store for him tomorrow. Worrying couldn’t do anything for him now.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often that Izuku would prefer invasive questions over silence, but this would have to qualify as one of those rare occasions. Despite his conversations with Aizawa, Toshinori, and Hizashi, Izuku hadn’t gotten much sleep. Eventually, he had given up, spending the extra hours before school adding to his notebook the observations that he had made about his classmates and their quirks so far. It proved to be more of a reminder of the source of his anxieties than a distraction from them, but it was work that Izuku wanted to get done anyway and he was nothing if not adept at compartmentalizing when there was an end goal in sight.

When it was finally time to head to school the next morning, Izuku felt exhausted and had every intention of sneaking out before his mother could see the effects of his sleepless night. It wouldn’t go any good to have her confronting Nedzu now, and there was no way that she would miss the fact that he had clearly been up all night. His plan would have been successful too, but he had forgotten something.

Never underestimate Hatsume Mei.

Already dressed in her uniform, her ever present goggles sitting on her head, Mei didn’t greet him with her usual smile. She leaned against the wall across from his front door, arms crossed, an expression on her face that Izuku had never seen before. He closed the door behind him nervously, wondering if it was too late to go back inside and pretend that he wasn’t home.

“Mei,” he said, wincing at the high-pitched tone in his voice. This was his friend, and he shouldn’t be afraid of whatever she had come here to say. Even if she could murder him and make it look like an accident. “I wasn’t expecting to see you this morning. Did you want to stop to get coffee or?”

“Well, since you’re leaving so early to avoid your mom, it seems like we have the time,” was all she said and response and led the way down the hall.

“I wasn’t-”

“We both know you can’t lie to me, Izuku. Besides, those bags under your eyes speak for themselves.”

They were quiet the rest of the way towards the stairwell until, “You heard?”

“Yeah, Izuku. I heard.”

Talking to Mei helped, as it always did when something inevitably went wrong, but she could do nothing to erase his problems. 1-A was apparently a class full of gossips because news had spread about the mysterious fifth recommendation student by the end of the day that even Mei, already holed away in a lab with multiple projects on deck had heard about it. Izuku’s identity was supposed to remain a secret so of course the entire school new about it within a handful of hours. It wasn’t any worse than Izuku had been expecting, but it wasn’t any better either.

Mei would have walked him all the way to his classroom if Izuku hadn’t refused to take another step until she went to her own homeroom. She had grumbled under her breath but, seeing that Izuku needed a little time alone to pull himself together in the face of the onslaught that was coming for him, Mei had eventually wandered off after a hug and the demand to meet up at the gates after school. Izuku agreed easily. He would probably need to be distracted, and Mei would know just what to do.

The night before, Inko had suggested waiting until the last minute to go to class. If he was almost late, then they wouldn’t have time to question him, and Aizawa could redirect the focus on the upcoming school events. Izuku had considered it at first, but ultimately decided against it. He appreciated her suggestion, but showing up at the last minute would do nothing to stop the staring or the questions. It would only delay the ambush, and Izuku didn’t want to have to spend the morning worrying about what they were going to say to him. Better to get it over with immediately and move on to his next crisis. They still had to watch the video from the practical, after all. Izuku would get a more honest reaction from them now, then after they had seen his fight with Bakugou. If they had a problem with him being quirkless and getting in on recommendations, he wanted to know it now.

If he could avoid getting Aizawa involved, that would be ideal as well. The longer he could keep people from making the connection between their homeroom teacher and Izuku’s unknown sponsor the better. Having Aizawa help Izuku avoid questions might not be enough on its own, but one too many breadcrumbs could lead to the truth, and the two of them weren’t exactly as subtle as Aizawa wished. Adding Hizashi to the mix would only make things worse over time. They were all going to get tired from having to watch everything they did around each other, but this was one piece of evidence that Izuku knew he could avoid setting in place.

The buzz of whispers dropped as Izuku stepped into the classroom, much like the morning of their first day of school when Aizawa had made his dramatic entrance. Channeling his inner Aizawa, Izuku met the stares of his classmates head on. From the looks of it, Izuku was still one of the last to arrive. Bakugou sulked in his desk, but didn’t turn to look in Izuku’s direction. Once the silence was broken, Izuku knew he wouldn’t get a break until the morning bell, so he quickly spoke before any of them could find their words.

“All Might was right. I did get into Yuuei on recommendations. I was involved in an incident with a villain attack when I first met my sponsor, and so it was decided that my recommendation status would be kept a secret,” Izuku glanced around the room, gaging reactions. Most were only staring at him open mouthed, although whether it was from his explanation or the fact that he was addressing the elephant in the room on his own, he wasn’t sure. Iida’s stern expression didn’t shift as Izuku spoke, his eyebrows drawn low as he listened as if he were committing every word to memory for future study. Izuku let his gaze skip past him and moved on. “I was going to tell you eventually, but Principal Nedzu decided not to inform All Might of the plan. As of this moment, my sponsor still wishes to remain anonymous in order to avoid any other villain mishaps. I hope that you all will respect my sponsor’s privacy as well as my own. It’s been decided for safety reasons, and I cannot tell you the identity of my sponsor without their permission. Are there any questions?”

Voices answered all at once, and Izuku sighed, wishing this conversation was over already. As members of one of the most competitive programs in the country, his classmates should have been able to handle themselves in a more reasonable manner. Aizawa was going to have to add more public relation lessons on the schedule if this was how they reacted when presented with an unexpected situation. Izuku was just deciding how to best get them to quiet down long enough for him to hear what they wanted to ask when a different voice spoke over the class.

“How do you expect him to answer anything like this?” Kaminari said, a spark of electricity bringing focus to his words in the booming classroom. Iida glared at him as if he wanted to comment on Kaminari’s unauthorized use of his quirk, but Kaminari answered his glare with one of his own. “We’re in the classroom. Raise your hand.”

Izuku almost missed the first question because he was staring at Kaminari as he directed the chaos that Izuku had been dreading only moments ago.

“You didn’t see me at the entrance exam because I didn’t have to take it,” Izuku said. “None of the recommendation students had to. We had a demonstration before school started as our final test, and we still had to pass the same written tests as everyone else.”

“A demonstration?” Sero asked. “Does that mean that the other recommendation students know who your sponsor is?” Of course someone was going to make that connection.

“They do. But I would ask that you not bother them about it. They have been asked not to share my sponsor’s identity because, and I’m stressing this again because it’s important, there are safety concerns about my sponsor’s identity getting out. Like I said before, I was attacked by villains shortly after starting to work with my sponsor because they were my mentor. I would prefer not to repeat the experience until I am legally allowed to defend myself.”

“Why couldn’t you defend yourself?” Kirishima asked. “I know the laws limit unauthorized use of quirks even in self defense, but if you don’t have a quirk…”

Izuku almost laughed. “My gear is made by someone who produces tech for pro heroes, and some of it I wasn’t allowed to even touch until school officially started. If I were to use them out on the street I would get in just as much trouble as someone using their quirk. Maybe more because I couldn’t even argue that it was an instinctual reaction. We’re watching the video from yesterday this morning. You’ll see what I mean then.” Not that how Izuku had handled the kidnapping was technically legal either-if anyone had bothered to ask how he and Bakugou had gotten away Izuku could have gotten in trouble for assault- but given how backwards some of the laws regarding self defense had become after the introduction of quirks to society, Izuku didn’t feel the need to bring of those specifics.

Kaminari pointed again.

“How did Principal Nedzu find you?” Iida asked. His expression hadn’t changed as Izuku answered their classmates questions, still watching Izuku carefully. Izuku thought that the way the practical had ended had managed to change Iida’s mind about him, but he couldn’t be sure in the way Iida was looking at him now, as if he were a puzzle Iida had just decided to solve. Really though, he thought that Iida would have been able to ask a better question than that.

“The same way that he found the other recommendation students. My sponsor got in touch with him and told him about what I had been learning. When Nedzu saw my skills in action he decided to offer me a recommendation spot. Since the other recommendation spots are specifically reserved for students who have shown significant control and development of their quirks another spot was created for me.” Izuku glanced around the room again, meeting as many looks as he could. “I do want to stress though that although I did not take the same exam as you, me and the other recommendation students did have to prove our abilities to Principal Nedzu in his own way. He wouldn’t risk his reputation or the school’s reputation on any one of us if he didn’t think that we would be able to handle what having a recommendation spot means.”

“What it means?” This time it was Kaminari who asked the question although he looked like he regretted the words as soon as they slipped out. Izuku gave him a short nod to let him know that he didn’t mind. Kaminari had to be just as curious as the rest of them, although Izuku appreciated that he was showing restraint in order to help him get through this. Maybe he really had meant it when he said all he wanted from Izuku was friendship.

“Increased media attention,” Izuku answered simply. “The five of us aren’t going to be able to just train quietly. People are going to be expecting us to justify why we deserve the spot that we were given, and they are going to be watching our progress carefully for any type of slip up. People who don’t like Yuuei or Principal Nedzu. People who love Yuuei and want the school to maintain its reputation. We have check ins throughout the year with the board monitoring our progress, and it reflects back on Principal Nedzu and our sponsors.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Kaminari said. “That’s a lot of pressure.”

Izuku shrugged off his concern, but didn’t comment. Kaminari was right. It was a lot of pressure, especially when he would already be scrutinized for not having a quirk.

“If you have more questions I can answer them later. The bell is about to ring, so we should probably settle down already.”

Class started shortly after Izuku’s dismissal, and although he could still feel his classmate’s attention on him it wasn’t the distraction that he had worried it would be. The worst would be past him now that most of their curiosities had been addressed. There would be more questions, of course, the Kaminari had managed to make the initial surge bearable. Izuku would never be stupid enough to take Mei’s friendship for granted, but it was nice to have someone else his age in his corner for once. His mother, Hizashi, and Aizawa would always do what they could for him, but it wasn’t the same as having friends. Now that Izuku finally had one he realized what he had been missing out on all those years after his short lived friendship with Katsuki fizzled out. It felt greedy to want more after all that he had gained over the last two years, and so Izuku pushed that train of thought aside for further examination at a much, much later date.

Slowly, the morning inched by and it was finally time to review the footage from the practical. Even though everyone already knew the results from each round, the class was buzzing with excitement to see how everything had played out in the rounds they hadn’t been a part of. Izuku was much less worried about this than he probably should have been given everything else going on. His performance hadn’t been the issue with the practical though. Izuku had done his job. He had distracted Bakugou long enough for Iida to have the chance to go after the missile. It was Iida’s overconfidence and his doubt in Izuku’s abilities that led to them failing the exercise, and that would be fairly obvious when they reviewed the film. Aizawa and Hizashi had assured him of that the night before, and in the end their opinions were some of the only ones that mattered to him.

Quickly, and without saying anything, All Might had led them to an auditorium Izuku hadn’t seen before. The video would be projected on the enormous screen at the front of the hall for all of them to see in high definition. As they entered the room, All Might exchanged a regretful look with Izuku. The pro hero was still obviously upset by the way that he had been used. Why Nedzu thought it would be a good idea to essentially manipulate the number one hero, Izuku didn’t know, but he doubted this plan would end up working out the way Nedzu had wanted. Making enemies of his staff would get him nowhere.

As they filed into the auditorium, Izuku found Kaminari sliding into the seat on his right. Izuku would have to make time to thank him for his help that morning when school ended, but for the moment he simply returned Kaminari’s thumbs up. The surprise came when Iida sat down silently on the seat to Izuku’s left. Maybe he should have expected it since they were partnered for the practical, but his partner hadn’t seemed all that friendly earlier. Izuku returned Iida’s nod as well, and then turned his attention to where All Might had stepped in front of the viewing screen.

“While we are watching yesterday’s film, we will not be discussing individual students’ mistakes. I have compiled notes for each of you to take with you today that will discuss what you can improve on, but that was not the goal of yesterday’s exercise. At Yuuei, you will have practicals like that one often. Yesterday’s work was about getting your feet wet, allowing you to see the kinds of tasks you will be given as part of this program. At the end of class I want you all to share some of the general mistakes you noticed. Things that you saw more than one group do that had an overall effect on their performance.”

They watched the film in the order they fought, and Izuku was glad to finally have a notebook and pen in his hand as he watched his classmates use their quirks. His notes from Aizawa’s test hadn’t been as fleshed out as he would have liked considering he had to go off of his memory after the fact. Todoroki’s quirk, as expected, had left the class speechless. The other team didn’t even have a chance to pull off a single step of their plan before Todoroki had come into the scene and it had all been over. It was impressive work, but Izuku wondered how Todoroki would have handled a more delicate situation. He jotted down a quick reminder for himself later.

With how fast the first round had ended, it was almost as if Izuku’s group was the true beginning of the review. Izuku had already watched the film with Aizawa and Hizashi, and he didn’t need to see it again to know how it would look to everyone else. The second Izuku managed to get Katsuki off balance, managed to get the upper hand in what his classmates had assumed would be a one sided massacre, Kaminari swore until his breath. No one else spoke as the fight unfolded on the screen, mirrored by Iida’s attempt to find the missile and Uraraka’s trap.

The film ends. The class stares.

“Well,” Kirishima said, breaking the silence. “I see why you can’t use those weapons in the streets.” His comment gets a laugh from Izuku who nods, and then it’s on to the next video. With his second trial of the day over, Izuku sits back more comfortably in the auditorium chair and settles down to take his notes. There wasn't time to talk about it now, but just like with the rest of their questions it would have to wait.

All Might doesn’t pause between videos for commentary like he said. He moves seamlessly from one round to the next, and although there are only a few people besides Izuku taking notes the entire class watches carefully. When the final video has ended, All Might steps in front of the screen again, looking at the class expectedly. This might be his first time teaching, but it’s clear in the way he doesn’t hesitate to be the center of attention that he’s gotten use to commanding a room. “So what did you see?”

Katsuki is the first one to speak, and Izuku watches him with the same level of intensity that Iida had been watching his own actions. They haven’t spoken since the practical, but that short exercise was enough to show him that something had changed in his old classmate. Izuku is curious about just how deep those changes go. Katsuki has always been smart, despite everything, and it’s only a matter of time before their new class realizes it.

“Most of the plans sucked,” Katsuki said straight faced, and it was a testament to the preparation Aizawa had shoved down Toshinori’s throat that his only response to the comment was a slow blink and a tilt of his head.

“Would you please care to elaborate on that, my boy.”

Katsuki shrugged, lounging in his seat. “Hardly anyone took their opponents quirks into consideration when they made their plan. Which they should have because we all saw everyone’s quirks the first day.”

“That’s a very good point, young Bakugou,” All Might said. “Although plans ended up working anyway, if you know what quirks you are facing easier solutions can be found by making a plan with those specific weaknesses in mind. What else?”

“People hesitated when using their quirks,” Izuku answered after All Might acknowledged him with another nod. “If they were using their quirks on the environment they were mostly fine, but when it came to using their quirk against a classmate there was always a moment where they pulled back.”

“Very good, Midoriya! This brings us to the other point of this exercise! You all have solid control of your quirks. Your performances at the entrance exam demonstrated that nicely. But there is a difference between using your abilities on a robot and using them on another person.”

Izuku very carefully did not look in Katsuki’s direction.

“This exercise was designed so that you would be able to use your quirks, but the mission could be accomplished with the hesitation in mind. As a pro hero there will be times you will have to use your quirk against a villain, and that villain is likely to get hurt. While we will always be as safe as possible in our classes here, that hesitation is an instinct that needs to be trained. You will need to learn when holding back is of the up most importance, but you will also need to reconcile this with the fact that hero work is dangerous and that sometimes this will mean that people will get hurt because of your actions.”

Kaminari spoke nonstop as they left the classroom at the end of the day. “No, dude, you aren’t understanding the perfection here. Coffee flavored ice cream is pinnacle of human creation here, okay? It’s a dessert, but it’s coffee? The two greatest things in the world combined into one unbelievable thing that you can actually just go out and buy? I feel like you are majorly missing out here, and that’s something that we need to fix. Immediately. I’ll buy. That’s how dedicated to this mission I am.”

Izuku laughed. “And I feel like you probably drink way too much coffee. Obviously mint ice cream is the best.” Their discussion had carried them through the hallway to the main entrance, and Kaminari was already shaking his head again.

“And I feel,” a voice said from beside them, “that you have been holding out on me, Midoriya Izuku. Who is this?”

“Mei, this is Kaminari Denki. Kaminari-kun, this is-”

“Hatsume Mei,” Mei interrupted with a dramatic bow. “Tech genius extraordinaire. So what’s this I hear about ice cream?”

Chapter Text

Watching Mei and Kaminari talk as Kaminari lead the way towards his favorite ice cream shop was like waiting for a bomb to go off. There was no way for Izuku to know exactly when the situation was going to blow up in his face or what exactly would follow, but he knew it probably wouldn’t end well for him when it did. Although Izuku had tentatively begun to consider Kaminari a friend, the full implications of his friendship had not occurred to him.

For better or worse, his fate was sealed when Mei called out, “You’re in luck, Izuku! Denki, here, has just volunteered to be my newest guinea pig!” Mei would want an explanation for Kaminari later, but for now that was as good as her stamp of approval.

If he was caught off guard by the use of his name, he gave nothing away. “I’m not sure how much help I’ll actually be,” Kaminari said sheepishly, hand going to the back of his neck as he looked away. “Using my quirk too much has its side effects. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to get under control at Yuuei.”

“Side effects?” Izuku asked. “I didn’t notice anything after the practical.”

“Trust me, you would have noticed it. I didn’t push myself that far during the exercise. Not exactly the impression I wanted to make on All Might during our first class with him,” Kaminari laughed, but Izuku knew it had to be forced. “I can get a lot of charge out of my quirk, but it tends to fry my brain in the process.”

Izuku and Mei froze so suddenly it took Kaminari a moment to realize they weren’t walking with him anymore. He turned back to them to see the pair exchanging opened mouthed looks of horror.”

“Please tell me that’s an exaggeration,” Izuku said, working hard to keep Aizawa out of his tone. “Please, please tell me you aren’t being serious.”

“What?” Kaminari asked, looking between them with concern mirroring their own. “What’s wrong?”

“The fact that you are asking that is answer enough,” Mei said. “Who did you wrong, Denki, and can you tell me where I can find them?”


“We’re friends now, Denki. I’ve decided. That’s means you call me Mei. Now lead the way to ice cream so that Izuku and I can tell you all the reasons why what you just said has us concerned. It seems I just got inspiration for a new project.”

Discreetly, Izuku pulled out his phone and sent out a quick text. Better for Aizawa to hear about the situation from him with enough time to pull something together than to find out later and it be too late. Mei had mostly been joking, but she wasn’t wrong. Whoever had allowed Kaminari to continue to use his quirk as he was when it was having such an effect had done him wrong. The fact that Kaminari had learned to work around it enough to pass the entrance exam knowing what it would do to him was more of a testament to his will than anything else. Izuku felt angry on his new friend’s behalf. It wasn’t uncommon for quirks to have side effects, but there was usually some way to work around it, something that could be done to avoid or mitigate it. Kaminari was probably even downplaying the effects if it was something he didn’t even really think about, sore spot or not. Izuku could only hope that there wasn’t any lasting damage done.

For now though, he would have to wait for Aizawa’s response and do what he could to prevent Kaminari and Mei from getting them banned from the ice cream shop.

One problem child attracts more. Aizawa thought he had already learned that lesson, but looking at the rushed-and unfortunately lacking in detail- text from Problem Number One, he had clearly forgotten to think about the situation in light of the new school year. Yuuei was a chaotic place on its own, it only stood to reason that Izuku’s presence would bring out his own particular brand of disaster.

Luckily, Izuku knew his mentor well enough to add that he would be sending Aizawa more information as he got it. Kaminari would be much more likely to share that information with Izuku than with his teacher, and Aizawa had no problem using his student to gage the situation. It was one more thing that needed to be addressed, although his current source of stress was the initial costume designs that had been returned to him. Yuuei, in an attempt to help support other businesses, had branched out from their usual supplier, and now it was Aizawa’s job to clean up the mess that the situation had become.

The company in question must be new. That was the only explanation that Aizawa could see for the designs that had been returned to him. They seemed to be created with only the marketability of the hero in mind rather than their actual safety. A quick glance through them alone had been enough to make him cringe. Did the designers not understand that these were children they were creating equipment for? Yaoyorozu’s design alone had been enough for Aizawa to demand that the company that usually supplied the first years with their costumes be reached. Those designers had been just as appalled by what they had seen.

Some of the designs themselves had been salvageable, with a few safety updates, but others had to be completely redone. Aizawa could only imagine the chaos that would come when the students tried them on for the first time the following day. A headache had already started forming just from the thought of it. And then adding Kaminari’s issue and Nedzu’s scheming on top of it. The school year was already turning out to be more work than any year Aizawa had taught in the past.

Aizawa would take it though, if this class was really as promising as it seemed. The one exception aside, he had never had a class as immediately serious as this one. Whether they maintained that attitude was yet to be seen, but for once Aizawa allowed himself to hope. If not, well, he could always see about transferring Izuku to 1-B. Nedzu owed him, and Aizawa wouldn’t hesitate to collect when the moment was right. For now, he had parents he needed to contact.

“We have a lot to do today,” Aizawa said, addressing the class the moment the bell signaling the start of homeroom sounded. “Your uniforms have arrived, so we will be doing a final test to make sure that everything is in order before the final versions are made. If there are any problems or concerns that you have when you try them on today, I need to know about them immediately. As some of you may have learned last night, the production of your uniforms changed between the first draft and the ones you will receive today. These changes were made in order to ensure your safety, and your parents or guardians were consulted about the reasoning behind this. If you have any problems with those changes, I suggest you take it up with them. Your costume is an important part of your image as a pro hero, but your safety is of the upmost priority. When you are a pro if you wish to value style of practicality, that is your right, but while you are a member of Yuuei, all designs must be done with safety in mind. Is that clear?”
Kaminari shot Izuku another thumbs up as the class mumbled their agreement, ready to move on. This was something they had all been waiting for since finding out they had gotten into Yuuei.

“After this, we will be deciding class representatives. Each class will be choosing two, so keep this in mind as we work through the fitting. The vote will need to be quick as we have other things to do today. Be ready with your choices.”

And with that he gestured to the stand behind him where nineteen cases had been carefully arranged. “When I call your name, come and get your case. Do not open them until all of the cases have been given out.”

It was slow going, waiting for each student to come to the front of the room and receive their case even with the way nearly every single one of them tried and failed to hide their excitement at the prospect of finally having their costumes in hand.

“Some general reminders before we begin,” Aizawa said. Izuku could hear the tiredness in his voice, and hoped that his heads up the day before hadn’t been a factor in what had evidently been a sleepless night. “No capes and no heels were allowed. I didn’t run these changes by your parents or guardians because it’s a safety concern. If you included these in your designs they have been removed. Don’t complain to me, because I will not be changing my mind. Everything else should be the same with the addition of stronger, more resilient materials unless I got into contact with your guardians. Now, go ahead and open them.”

Izuku knew that he should take a quick look at his classmates’ costumes, see what they had added to augment their quirks, but there would be time for that later. For now, all of his attention was focused on his own case sitting innocently on his desk. His designs hadn’t changed. Izuku and Aizawa, with a few suggestions from Hizashi, had come up with his before the school year even started. None of the production companies had ever designed a costume for someone without a quirk, and so there were certain safety features that needed to be added to ensure that if Izuku took extra damage his suit would be able to handle it without him getting harmed in the process.


Simple and sleek, the design they finally settled on was unassuming, but that was exactly as he had wanted it. Let his classmates have the flashy costumes, the bright colors, and the extra flair. Izuku didn’t need it, and he didn’t want it. The more unassuming he appeared, the more likely the villains would be to underestimate him, and he wasn’t afraid to shift the odds in his favor.

That didn’t stop his breath from catching in his throat as he undid the latch on the case and opened it to find his costume and gear folded carefully inside. Izuku could feel Aizawa’s eyes on him, but he kept his attention solely on the case.

In the end, the color scheme had been the hardest thing to decide. His mother had suggested yellow and black, a tribute to Aizawa like the many that Izuku had chosen over the last two years of training with him, but that idea had quickly been discarded. A visual representation of their relationship would do nothing to help keep his sponsor a secret. Hizashi had been the most upset by that choice, but Aizawa had agreed that it was for the best.

Izuku had considered blue, a reference to the comic book hero that had inspired him all those years ago, but that too had been discarded. He needed to forge his own path, and although others had served to help him find the way their paths were not his own. After that, the choice had been obvious.

Inside the case lay what, at first glance, seemed like a tracksuit one would find in the gym rather than on a pro hero in the field. That was where the true deception could be found. Izuku picked up the black fabric letting it unfold. The chest and been reinforced with a material similar to Kevlar. From the lab tests that Izuku had seen, it would help to alleviate the impact of any direct hits he may take from a quirk. Even weapons like knives would be dulled by the material. It wouldn’t stop everything, but it might be just enough to give Izuku time to get out or make a plan. Short sleeved, the fabric would still allow Izuku to move unrestricted.

The pants were made of the same material, with extra protection added around his thighs. One too many videos about the dangers of the femoral artery had been enough for Izuku to think the precaution warranted. He had no knives in his arsenal now, but he couldn’t rule out the possibility of a villain coming prepared.

Everything was tied together with a dark, hunter green. Panels of the green reinforced material ran up his sides and lined the top of the shirt as an extra layer of protection around his throat. Green stitching added subtle detail to the pockets of his pants, which were tucked into dark green boots that rose to just under his knees.

Izuku slipped on the pair of gloves that had been tucked into the bottom of the case, closing his hand to test the fabric’s stretch. The plans for his electrified eskrima rods had been sent to the company, and a small green lightning bolt had been stitched on the inside of each wrist. Kaminari was sure to find that hilarious, considering the design had been finalized long before the two of them had met.

The belt with all of his gear, Izuku had handled himself, making sure that the greens were the exact same shade. The last item in the case was the only item he had allowed himself simply for the aesthetic and because he was too much of a comic book fanboy to not have a single reference in his costume even if he had decided against a callback to his heroes’ colors. A black domino mask that he had been assured would stick to his face without difficulty added the final touch to the look.

Izuku had been training to be a hero for years now, and it wasn’t his first day at Yuuei, but nothing had hammered home the fact that he was actually there, that he was actually achieving his dreams, more than holding that costume in his hands.

The rest of the class seemed to be having the same problem, because the quick transition from uniforms to class representatives that Aizawa had been hoping for never happened. When questions about costume repairs or alterations threaten to take of the entire allotted time, Aizawa had just sighed and pushed through. It was only him trying to get ahead of the game for one that had made him try to get everything done in one day. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work.

“Be ready to turn in your votes for class representative first think tomorrow,” Aizawa said, watching them pack away their costumes again. The cases would be kept at the school if no adjustments were needed, while the rest would be sent back with the notes Aizawa had scrawled in his tiny handwriting.

“All adjustments will be done by the time of your next practical. This practical will involve a field trip to another facility on Yuuei’s campus. More information about this exercise will be given closer to the actual date.”

With one last glance around the room, Aizawa nodded to himself before gathering his things and leaving his problem children in the capable hands of their next teacher. He still had a few fires to try to put out before the end of the day.

Aizawa was lucky that Hizashi had a free period so early in the morning, because he didn’t think that he had the patience to wait.

“Oh no,” Hizashi said, seeing his face as he stormed into the teacher’s lounge. He was leaning back in his chair, feet propped up on the desk. For once there was no one else in there but the two of them, and Aizawa was grateful for the rare moment of peace he needed to talk to his best friend. “What’s Izuku done now?”

That drew Aizawa up short. “What makes you think Izuku did anything?”

Hizashi gave him a flat look in response. “That’s your Izuku look. Very similar to the Hizashi look, yet not quite as angry. Yet. So, what did my favorite nephew do now?”

Aizawa resisted the urge to point out that Izuku was his only nephew. “Izuku wants to tell one of his classmates that I’m his sponsor.”

Hizashi sat up, sliding his feet back to the floor. “That’s a change. What made him want to do that?”

Quickly, Aizawa filled him in on what Izuku had discovered the day before. “There would be no real reason for me to know this information unless Izuku told me,” Aizawa reasoned, “and Izuku doesn’t want Kaminari to feel that he betrayed his trust by going straight to me when we aren’t supposed to have any kind of relationship. I can’t not address this though. From what Izuku said, over using his quirk ends with a serious effect on his mental faculties. He’s lucky there’s been no health complications before now, and that’s probably only because of the ban on using quirks. There’s no telling what using his quirk regularly will have on him, even if he doesn’t push it to the limit that he described.”

“There’s probably a solution to this,” Hizashi said. His own quirk had caused his ears quite the problem itself, until he had figure out that he could shield himself from the effects. Kaminari probably had a similar way to protect himself, but didn’t have the control yet to use it.

“If I could work with him on it directly, there probably would be. I can’t wait until the next practical to talk to him about this. Which is why Izuku offered his solution.”

Hizashi leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees as he propped his chin on an open palm. “I’m not sure what advice you want from me here, Shouta. You’ve obviously decided to let Izuku go through with it. Besides, I think this might be good for him. Kid could use a few more friends. Hatsume is great, but they don’t get to spend much time together when they’re at school. Having a friend in the same class as him would go a long way to helping him feel more accepted here. Kaminari seems like a good kid, too. He doesn’t seem like the type to go blabbing when you ask him not to.”

“So, you don’t think it would be a mistake?” Aizawa asked.

“It’s going to get out eventually,” Hizashi shrugged. “I’ve told you before, the two of you aren’t subtle. Better to start laying the ground work now.”

Chapter Text

Yuuei was a means to an end.

Todoroki had been told that over and over again in the months leading up to the start of school. He wasn’t there to make friends, or participate in clubs, or whatever else it was that normal teens in high school were supposed to do. All he needed to do was learn, and be prepared to make an effective entrance to the scene during the Sports Festival.

Enji, as Todoroki was also reminded often, had done all the hard work for him. He was the one with the established reputation, a reputation that would open doors for him when Todoroki inevitably slipped he. Enji was the one who had taken responsibility for his training at a young age, ensuring that Todoroki would be miles ahead of his peers when the day to begin his training in earnest came, and it was Enji who made sure that Todoroki got into Yuuei on a recommendation spot with all the attention that afforded him.

Yuuei, in the long run, wasn’t supposed to mean anything. Todoroki had a sneaking suspicion that part of Enji’s feelings towards the school were based on the fact that his rival had been offered a teaching position when he hadn’t, but Todoroki wouldn’t dare to mention that. The fact that Enji wouldn’t want to teach and would, in all actuality, be the worst teacher Yuuei ever had, was completely beside the point.

Still though, Todoroki had thought that Yuuei would be more…something. What that extra something missing was exactly, Todoroki didn’t know. Yuuei was just as loud, just as busy, just as focused as he had heard. No aspect of the school failed to live up to its very large reputation. But still.

Maybe it was the fact that his classmates seemed almost afraid of him. Or afraid to talk to him, at least. Yaoyorozu seemed to get almost the same treatment, but there was a frigid edge to the conversation anytime one of them had to talk to Todoroki, and it wasn’t a result of his quirk.

Enji could probably take credit for that development too, but Todoroki wouldn’t be sharing it with him. The smug asshole would probably be proud that he had managed to isolate Todoroki so thoroughly. No, the real question was what Todoroki wanted to do about it.

The easiest thing, the most obvious option, would be to do nothing. Todoroki didn’t have friends, and he didn’t particularly want any. While his motivations differed from Enji’s, Todoroki still wanted to be successful at Yuuei for his own sake. Shifting his attention to making the situation with his classmates better would take away focus from his training. The unease they held when interacting with him wasn’t interfering with his work. At least not yet. Was there any real reason do go out of his way?

Todoroki couldn’t help but recall the criticism that had been shared during their practical viewing.

When it came to using their quirk against a classmate there was always a moment where they pulled back.

He hadn’t held back. He hadn’t hesitated. Todoroki had seen the end goal in sight, and he went for it with the same single minded focus on results that had been drilled into his head year after year. His classmates and the damage he could have done to them had been less than a second thought in that moment. And what did that say about Todoroki?

The revelation that Enji was a messed up excuse for a hero wasn’t a new one. Todoroki had figured out a long time ago that the way that Enji did things wasn’t normal, wasn’t right, and yet he still couldn’t shake the way the man hovered over him. A constant shadow tainting his actions with lessons Todoroki had never wanted to learn. A fire burning steady under his skin as a reminder he could never escape.

His classmates joked and gossiped around him, but Todoroki paid them no attention, lost in his thoughts. Coming to Yuuei had changed things, whether Enji wanted to acknowledge it or not, and Todoroki felt as though he were balancing on a knife’s edge waiting to fall. Something had to give eventually. Enji pushed and pushed, and Todoroki resisted when he could, but the status quo couldn’t stay as it was forever.

Todoroki only wished he knew if the change would be in his favor.

Deciding class representatives took less than five minutes. Aizawa should have been proud. Given Aizawa’s resigned attitude towards the entire activity, Izuku thought there would be more of a hassle involved. Yuuei was a competitive school, which meant that the majority of the students were competitive themselves. That wasn’t always the case, as shown by some of Aizawa’s previous classes, but the current 1-A class seemed to be the exception to that unsettling trend.

In the practical and the following review, they had let that competitiveness through. There was actual hope this year for the class making it without losing any more of its students to laziness or irresponsible behavior.

The competition made the decision easy in the end. Everyone voted for themselves with four exceptions.

“There has been a three way tie,” Aizawa announced after tallying the votes on the board. “We only have two representative slots, so Yaoyorozu, Midoriya, Kaminari. Decide amongst yourselves who the representatives will be and let me know. Remember that this is an important responsibility. Your grades will need to maintain passing grades in order to keep your position. This should not in any way affect your studies, as that is your first priority.”

The three students in question looked at each other, surprise clear on their faces.

Kaminari spoke first. “You two should-”

“I’m withdrawing,” Izuku said before Kaminari could finish, glancing between the two of them. Izuku hadn’t spoken to Yaoyorozu much, but he knew that she was a serious and responsible student. She would be the perfect person to represent their class, and Kaminari had already shown that he knew how to take charge. Their classmates would listen to them.

“Izuku, if this is-”

“This isn’t because of them,” Izuku assured him, and it honestly wasn’t. There was still an element of tension in the class after the reveal that Izuku had gotten in on recommendations. His performance during the practical had silenced any remaining questions about his skills. The only unknowns now were who his sponsor was and how he had gotten his training, and Izuku didn’t plan on providing that information any time soon.

If anything, Kaminari’s criticism of their behavior when they ambushed him had seemed to shift the attention back on them. Izuku could tell that some of his classmates wanted to apologize to him, but weren’t sure how to go about it. For the moment, Izuku was content to let the feeling simmer. It shouldn’t have taken seeing him in action for them to give him a chance. Izuku was feeling petty enough to allow them to wallow in their shame for a little while longer. It was a lesson they would need to learn if they were ever going to be good heroes.

“I’m picking up some extracurriculars,” Izuku explained. “I don’t have the time to take on other responsibilities right now. I appreciate that people voted for me, but I don’t want to take it if it can’t do the job justice. You two would be great at it though! I’ll go ahead and tell Aizawa-sensei!”

It didn’t take long for Kaminari and his grandmother to figure out a routine once he started at Yuuei. Every day, Kaminari would come home from school and immediately start his homework, working in the kitchen while his grandmother cooked or knitted or read at the table across from him. They wouldn’t talk during that quiet time, just sitting together enjoying each other company in the silence. She knew him well enough to know that starting a conversation would be enough to break his fragile hold on his concentration, and then there would be no telling how long it would take to get back on task again.

After homework, they would have dinner. His grandmother cooking for them or, if he didn’t have a lot of homework that day, Kaminari taking charge for the day. That would be the time he could finally share all the stories he had kept bottled up all day- his work to make Midoriya Izuku his friend, his academic classes, his classmates antics. All saved up for their nightly chance to share. Kaminari told her everything. Everything, except, Izuku and Mei’s reaction to the side effects of his quirk.

Kaminari had never mentioned the effects to his grandmother before, and it shouldn’t have taken his newfound friends for him to realize that it was because he knew that she would have tried to stop him. None of his teachers at school had said anything to him about not hurting himself with his quirk, but his grandmother would have. He knew he would have to tell her eventually, but he hoped to have a plan in place before he broached that topic with her. Kaminari Koharu would not be amused.
They didn’t talk about the function of his quirk often, focusing more on his dreams of being a pro hero, but he wondered if his grandfather had had a similar drawback or if his quirk had been too low powered for it to affect him the same way. No two quirks were ever exactly the same, but his quirk was extremely similar to his grandfather’s, from the stories Koharu had told him. Less powerful, and maybe less flexible, but similar nonetheless. Kaminari wished that he had been able to talk to his grandfather about his quirk, but the man had died in the same accident that killed Kaminari’s parents. He had lived with his grandmother ever since.

Maybe that was why he had been the first one to reach out to Izuku, although he knew that he would like the other boy the moment he made a face at his classmates’ unnecessary comments and fired back with some snark of his own.

Kaminari Koharu was the strongest person that Denki knew. She had weathered the death of her husband, son, and daughter-in-law, all in one fell swoop, and had taken him in anyway. She had helped him through his own grief when he was too young to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation beyond the fact that the majority of his family wouldn’t be coming home again. She had squashed down her own feelings of anger and sadness, shielding him from her pain. She had supported his dream, and sacrificed so much to help him get to where he was.

Kaminari Koharu was also quirkless.

He hadn’t mentioned that fact to Izuku yet, but he would have to eventually. His grandmother wanted to meet the boy who was taking Yuuei by storm. Denki may have talked his new friend up a little, but he had no regrets. Especially considering the news that he had to share with his grandmother this time.

They talked around the little details of their day at first, Kaminari listening as his grandmother described the work that she had done in her garden. It was hard to be patient, but he would never rush her to finish. She must have noticed his excitement though, because she paused half way through her story about the work she wanted to do the next day and smiled at him.

“We can come back to my plans later. Tell me, Denki, what has you so excited today? Something happen with that new friend of yours?”

Kaminari had always been so easy for her to read. “He invited me to eat dinner at his house tomorrow,” he said. “Izuku wants me to meet his sponsor!”

He didn’t have to say anything else for his grandmother to understand the significance of his statement. He had gone into detail about the way that his classmates had been skeptical about Izuku’s abilities at first, how the reveal that Izuku had gotten in on recommendations had been a big shock to most of the class. Kaminari hadn’t guessed that Izuku was the mysterious fifth recommendation student, but he hadn’t been as surprised by it as others. There was something about Izuku. Kaminari knew that first day of school that there was more to his classmate. Izuku exuded a confidence that most first years couldn’t possess. He seemed so sure of himself and his abilities.

Kaminari was sure that part of that was due to the thick skin he would have had to develop growing up quirkless and still dreaming of being a hero. His grandmother had told him some of the things that had been said to her after he told her about Izuku, and the thought of it made his blood boil. Quirklessness had been more common then, and while twenty percent of the total population was now quirkless, the percentage of their generation was much lower. He could only imagine what Izuku must have had to endure.

Izuku could certainly take care of himself, but that didn’t mean that he had to face everything alone. Over time their classmates would have to learn what a great person Izuku was, what a great hero he could be, but until then he would watch and listen, and do whatever Izuku wanted him to do to help. Even if that meant staying out of it.

“I’m so proud of you, Denki,” his grandmother cooed, reaching across the table to pat his hand. “Have I told you that today?”

“Not since this morning,” Kaminari joked, turning his hand over to lock his fingers with his.

“That’s far too long ago,” she said, still smiling. “I’ll need to tell you extra to make up for it.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Aizawa asked Izuku, expression skeptical. Inko had already shoved a mug of tea in his hand, and Aizawa had taken no time in tapping out his nerves against the glass. Why he was nervous, Izuku wasn’t sure, but it was clear his mentor wasn’t one hundred percent ready for this conversation.

“We don’t have to tell Kaminari,” Izuku said. “I can come up with another reason to tell you about his side effects.”

Aizawa shook his head. “You need someone in the class to know what’s going on. Kaminari is a good choice, and it will be easier to help him if he can trust me. While the decisions I made with my past classes were for their safety, they have given me a bit of a reputation. This is the best decision for everyone.”

“It’s okay, Aizawa-sensei. I’m sure that Kaminari won’t tell anyone what a softie you are,” Izuku grinned, patting his mentor on the shoulder before slipping out of his reach as Aizawa swiped for him.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Hizashi.”

Izuku shrugged. “You shouldn’t have share custody with him then.”


“Old man.”

Aizawa would have continued their joking argument, but a knock came from the door. After getting used to Hizashi and Aizawa letting themselves in whenever they came by, it was almost strange to have someone actually knocking on their door again.

Izuku had thought this decision through over and over again since he had suggested the idea to Aizawa, but he felt that it was the right one. He hadn’t been lying to Aizawa, if his teacher had asked him not to tell Kaminari then Izuku would have found another way around the situation. Together, they would have been able to come up with something convincing enough that would have allowed Aizawa to help Kaminari without betraying his growing trust in Izuku. It was just easier if Kaminari knew the truth.

Analyzing his own actions to make sure he wasn’t giving anything away was already starting to become tiring, and Izuku couldn’t say that it wouldn’t be helpful to have someone else in the room to tell him when they were being too obvious. That had been part of his argument to Aizawa as well, but it wasn’t the main reason for wanting Kaminari to join their inner circle. Izuku hadn’t even voiced that additional, but he was sure that Aizawa knew it anyway.

Over the past two years, Izuku had gotten used to have Mei with him all the time. He had gone from having no friends to the best friend he could have ever asked for, and although their friendship could certainly handle the constraint on their time together that came with being at Yuuei, Izuku was a little lonely. He hadn’t realized that was what the feeling was until he met Mei, and then Kaminari had come in shining just as bright.

Mei had liked him as well, once she met him and got the whole story from Izuku, and that had been just the approval he had needed to know that Kaminari would fit in with their group perfectly. The only thing that stood in their way was the secrets that Izuku was keeping, and those were easy enough to do away with.

So, telling Kaminari the truth was definitely in order to help him find a solution to keeping his quirk from hurting him, but it was also a little because Izuku just wanted him to know. He had made sure to give his new friend a choice though. Izuku had seen first hand how quickly a situation can deteriorate when secrets are sprung on people unexpectedly. Izuku didn’t want to be a holder of secrets that weren’t his in the first place, and he wouldn’t put Kaminari in that position if he could help it. Luckily, Kaminari had agreed. He would keep the news of Izuku’s sponsor, even the fact that he knew who Izuku’s sponsor was, to himself.

Later, after the shock of it fell away, Izuku would have to tell him about everything else that had happened since meeting Aizawa that first day. Rave and Asahi, the fight for Nedzu, the mall. That would have to be when they were away from his family though, because Izuku wanted to avoid reminding them of the situations where he had acted irresponsibly if at all possible. He wouldn’t put it passed his mother to ground him again if she remembered how mad she had been.

Quickly, he gestured for Aizawa to be quiet as he took his mug into the kitchen. It would be better for Kaminari to hear it from Izuku before seeing Aizawa standing at his door. He could hear his mother and Aizawa giggling in the kitchen and he shushed them before moving towards the door. His mother laughed when she was nervous, and it was always infectious. Even Aizawa wasn’t immune. At least if Kaminari hear it, he couldn’t use that to guess who Izuku’s mentor was. No one at Yuuei had heard him laugh before, but Izuku hoped he could change that.

Trying to keep the laughter from his own voice, Izuku strode towards the door.


And let the chaos begin.

Chapter Text

“I need you to not freak out.”

“I promise you I will not freak out.”

“You say that now, but I need you to really mean it. Okay? No yelling, no accidently using your quirk. Nothing. Calm and rational. For at least as long as it takes you to get over the shock.”

“Was that supposed to be a pun?”

“Kaminari Denki, I’m serious.”

Laughing, Kaminari shook his head. “Full naming me? You must be. But I really do promise, Izuku. I won’t freak out. You would tell Mei, and I know Mei would never let me live it down. She does know who your sponsor is, right?”

“See? If Mei can handle it, I can handle it.”

Izuku tried not to grin, turning his back to Kaminari to hide his expression. Whatever his new friend said, his reaction to seeing Aizawa calmly sitting at Izuku’s kitchen table drinking tea was sure to be priceless. He was also right though, that Mei would never let him live it down. Izuku almost wished he had put a camera in the kitchen to capture the moment forever.

“Well, then. Right this way,” Izuku said, gesturing for Kaminari to follow him into the kitchen. As soon as he passed the threshold, he stepped aside giving his friend a clear view and allowing him to catch the moment of understanding dawn on Kaminari’s face. It took a moment after Kaminari rounded the corner for the truth of the situation to sink in.

Gaping, Kaminari looked back and forth between Aizawa and Izuku, his eyes going wider with every turn of his head. Izuku gave up trying to fight his smile, smirking at his friend’s reaction as Aizawa lifted his mug of tea in Kaminari’s direction. Inko giggled again, and Aizawa hid his smile behind his mug as he took another sip of his tea.

Kaminari squeaked as Izuku leaned into his space. Shaking his head, Kaminari took a deep breath.

“Don’t freak out!”

Kaminari’s mouth snapped shut again as his eyes closed, exhaling long and slow. “I’m not freaking out,” he said through gritted teeth. “You’re freaking out. No freaking out taking place with me at the moment. Noooo. Just a confirmation though? You’re mentor? Is Aizawa-sensei?” He looked at Aizawa as he spoke, as if thinking that someone would jump out and yell “Gotcha!” Aizawa did nothing of the sort. He simply sat at the table, drinking his tea and smirking, his wide grin showing just a hint of teeth. Almost like…



Well, that expression just got even more intimidating.

“So, Aizawa-sensei is your mentor!” Kaminari said again, blustering through his nerves. “That’s so great! I totally see it now!”

Izuku was still grinning from Kaminari’s expression, but his comment gave him pause. “You do?”

“Sure!” Kaminari waved his hand between them. “I mean, I wouldn’t have guessed it before you told me, but it makes total sense. You guess both have this atmosphere around you? It’s a little intense, but not in a bad way! How did you two even meet?”

It was clear that Kaminari was still thrown by the situation, his voice shaking enough to be noticeable to everyone in the room, but no one commented on it. Instead Inko stood up to drag him to the table where she had been sitting across from Aizawa.

“Sit, sit,” she said, bustling past him to the kitchen counter once he had taken her seat. “I made these this morning. This will probably be a long conversation, so feel free to eat as many as you want!” A plate of various cookies was placed in the center of the table. “Shouta, dear, would you like a refill on that tea? Kaminari-kun, do you like tea?”

“I love tea!”

“Thank you, Inko.”

Kaminari was not subtle in his attempt to block his mouth as he turned to Izuku and mouthed “Shouta, dear?”

“My mother and Aizawa-sensei are not dating,” Izuku said firmly. Aizawa snorted.

Kaminari’s face flushed bright red as he stammered, “That’s not what I meant!”

“Aizawa-sensei and Yamada-sensei on the other hand…”

“What?!” Kaminari felt like he couldn’t breathe. He frowned as Izuku started laughing at his expression again. “I’m never going to believe anything you say, Midoriya Izuku, if you keep lying to me like that.”

“Izuku,” Aizawa said, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Right, right! You asked how we met right?”
Kaminari took a cookie from the plate as he nodded. Inko placed three steaming mugs on the table before dropping a kiss to Izuku’s forehead and placing a gentle hand to Aizawa’s shoulder. She winked at Kaminari quickly, and excused herself from the room.

“So, it all started because my jerk middle school teacher said you couldn’t be a hero if you didn’t have a good quirk. I wanted to prove him wrong. Obviously, the best way to do that was to track down an underground pro hero to their very secret, very private apartment. In hindsight, there was probably a better way to do that, but it least it had the desired effect.”

For some reason, Izuku had expected things to change once Kaminari knew about his relationship with Aizawa, but it didn’t. The only thing that really changed was that he now knew exactly when he and his mentor mirrored each other because Kaminari would shoot him a look from across the room. As far as they could tell though, no one else had noticed anything. Kaminari paid attention to the rumors that weren’t whispered in front of Izuku about his sponsor, and Aizawa’s name never came up once. For the moment, they were still in the clear regarding that secret at the very least.

Hizashi took to having Kaminari in the know extremely well too. Izuku had a feeling that Hizashi had always been a tiny bit jealous of the relationship that Aizawa had formed with Izuku. He would never admit it, of course, but Izuku couldn’t help but wonder if he would be taking Kaminari under his wing now that it was safe to do so. Izuku cared about Hizashi a lot. Even though he spent most of his time training with Aizawa, he and Hizashi had gotten close over the years as well, but it wasn’t the same kind of mentorship. Aizawa took the lead on all his training, and Hizashi had always been okay with that. Izuku had been Aizawa’s first, and he seemed happy to fall into the doting uncle role where Izuku was concerned.

Izuku would have to monitor the situation, and if Hizashi didn’t do anything about it soon, he would have to do something about it himself. Bright and happy Hizashi would be the perfect person to help Kaminari. He had been forced to address harmful effects from his quirk himself, and their personalities would mesh so well. Izuku felt sure this would fall under the category of Aizawa approved meddling. He just needed to wait until the right moment.

Aside from his quiet planning though, nothing had really changed. Izuku felt glad for it. There had been so much change happening, so many things going on once, it was nice to have one thing that he felt confident in. He had his friends and his family, and they weren’t going to be going anywhere. His class may know that he got in on recommendations, but Kaminari had shut their harassing questions down before they had even gotten started. Mei was working on new gear for him. He had proven again that he deserved to be at Yuuei. Almost everything was working out.

The only real situation that still needed handling was All Might.

To be fair, it wasn’t even a situation. Izuku had been through enough awkwardness in his life to know how to handle uncomfortable situations, but there were some things that couldn’t be laughed away with a joke or avoided with sarcasm. All Might was one of them.
They hadn’t had another practical since the first, all the focus seeming to be placed on the field trip exercise coming up at the end of the week, but that didn’t mean that Izuku didn’t see All Might. Toshinori still dropped in occasionally by the apartment to discuss the Nedzu problem with Aizawa and Hizashi, and Izuku still frequently passed the number one teacher in the hallway despite the fact that he hadn’t worked directly with their class again.

Izuku wouldn’t be where he was, if he wasn’t intuitive. It was obvious to him that Toshinori wanted to talk to him, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Just like with his classmates, Izuku was content to let the situation stay as it was until All Might could work himself up to the conversation on his own.

It didn’t take long for that to happen though. Toshinori may struggle with how to communicate, but it wasn’t for a lack of courage. Not for the first time, Izuku wondered what had happened to shape him into the person he was. How long had Toshinori been on his own? While Izuku would never regret choosing Aizawa over Toshinori, it made him sad that the older man didn’t seem to have anyone close to him.

When Toshinori eventually caught Izuku at lunch, he thought he knew what the conversation would be about. Even though they had already discussed it, the hero wore his regret for his role in revealing Izuku’s recommendation to the class on his face every time he looked at him. And he was partially right. The first thing that Toshinori did once they were in the teacher’s lounge after making sure that it was clear was apologize again. Izuku tried to convince him it wasn’t necessary. Toshinori hadn’t done it on purpose after all, but his words did nothing to dissuade him.

“Whether it was intentional or not, Midoriya my boy, I was still the one who revealed that information. As someone with secrets of my own, I know the importance of them. My lack of knowledge does not negate the harm that was done to you, and for that I am truly sorry.”

It was moments like these that Izuku remembered why All Might had been his favorite hero. He ducked his head to hide the expression on his face. “Thank you.”

“No thanks are necessary, Midoriya. Now please, come sit.” Toshinori sat at one end of the sofa pressed up against the far wall of the teacher’s lounge, his hero form leaving just enough room for Izuku to sit comfortably. “Before we start, I want you to know that I did speak to Aizawa-sensei and your mother to let them know that I would be talking to you. In hindsight, I do see how my approach back then was…lacking, for a better word.”

“All Might-”

Toshinori placed a careful hand on Izuku’s head, hesitating as though he wasn’t quite sure whether he was allowed the comforting action himself. “I am not offering you One for All again. Do not worry. In my haste to find a successor, I put my needs above yours. It is a lapse that I cannot excuse. While I still truly believe that you would do great things with this quirk, I should not have discounted the great things that you have already done. I told you soon after we first met that I was quirkless before One for All, yes?”
Izuku nodded. He still remembered how surreal that conversation had felt with All Might, the number one hero, sitting at his kitchen table as Izuku made him a cup of tea. It had felt like a dream and a nightmare all at once. All Might telling him about being quirkless, about being bullied.

“They say that as you get older you forget what it’s like to be a child. That is clearly true with me. Midoriya, when I was your age I wish there had been a hero like you. A hero like the child I was before my fears got the better of me. How different the world might have become.” Toshinori looked away, rubbing at his eyes, clearing his throat. “It might not mean much coming from me now, but I still wanted you to know how proud I am of you. Of the hero that you are going to be. Quirkless and strong. Stubborn and bright. I need to begin my search for my successor in earnest now, but wanted you to know this first. You will always have my support.”

All of the staff, not just Aizawa, were extremely tight lipped about the nature and location of their next practical. No matter how many students asked or how often they asked, no one would give any other details about it. The only thing the class had been told was that while it was on Yuuei’s campus, they would need to take a bus to the facility, and that it was not a building any of them had been given access to before. That last detail had been directed at Izuku, although the class didn’t know it. That eliminated the fields that he had used during Nedzu’s test.

Whatever the practical was though, it must be more serious than their previous one. The teachers seemed too excited for it to be anything simple. Izuku had thought that he might be able to get a little more information out of his mentor during one of their after school training sessions, but Aizawa held firm.

Dodging out of the way of the scarf as Aizawa looked down from above, Izuku thought through his next move. Their training hadn’t relaxed now that Izuku was officially in Yuuei. If anything it had gotten more intense now that Izuku was allowed the use of new gear he needed to quickly become acclimated to. The scarf pooled onto the floor where Izuku had been standing, and before Aizawa could retract it he lobbed a small blue ball at the fabric. It exploded on contact, a sticky slime spreading out in a wide fan across the cement. Aizawa pulled, but the scarf wouldn’t come loose.

“I thought we agreed to disclose all new gear, Izuku,” Aizawa said, jumping down from his perch in the equipment.

“We did,” Izuku agreed, “but I can only get one over on you so often. I have to take what chances I can get.”

Aizawa crouched in front of the puddle, poking a finger carefully into the substance. It clung to his hand as he tried to remove it, leaving a trace of the residue on his fingers. “I take it this is Hatsume’s work?”

“Her mom helped out this time. Mei had a little trouble getting the consistency right, but it should all come off your scarf after a couple of hours and some water. I got the idea after the practical with Iida. His quirk makes him fast, but dropping one of these in his path at the right moment would cancel that out pretty well.”

Aizawa tilted his head, watching Izuku carefully. “I’m assuming I don’t have to have a talk with you about using your gear outside of class?”

Izuku rolled his eyes. “Give me a little credit, Aizawa-sensei. As funny as it would be, I wouldn’t do that to you.” Izuku sat down on the floor, crossing his legs in front of him. Aizawa could have asked him to continue the exercise, and he would have, but his mentor knew him well enough to know what was on his mind. Abandoning the scarf and the practice, Aizawa took a seat beside him.

The moment Aizawa sat down beside him, Izuku wasted no time in leaning over and resting his head against Aizawa’s shoulder. It had taken some time for them to get to that level of comfort. Aizawa may have been used to Hizashi always being in his space, but he wasn’t naturally the kind of person to seek that type of reassurance out himself. He and Izuku were more similar that he would have thought that day the kid had shown up at his apartment, but that wasn’t one of them. Izuku needed comfort in that solid, physical way, and Aizawa had adjusted accordingly.

They sat like that in silence for a long moment, Aizawa’s arm going around Izuku’s shoulder as the boy breathed in slowly. If Izuku wanted to share what was on his mind, he would. If not, Aizawa wasn’t going to push him. He trusted Izuku to speak up if he needed to. After another minute, Izuku pulled away.

“Thanks,” Izuku said finally, voice quiet.

Aizawa could only guess at what had prompted this moment, but Izuku had so much going on in his life that it was no surprise that it might become overwhelming. That was one way they were alike, a similarity to go with the difference. Sometimes words were both too much, and not enough.

“Any time, Izuku.”


“Yes, Izuku?”

“Can we go see your cats?”

“I’m sure Marlo would appreciate that.”

Kurogiri wanted his bar back.

He wanted Shigaraki with his creepy hands and his band of low class villain wannabes out of his life. He wanted his space, and his freedom, but most importantly, he wanted the information that Shigaraki had promised him.

As of the moment, Kurogiri had none of those things, and his patience was being tested to the very limits. More than once he had considered giving the whole thing up, but every time he reminded himself that it would be worth it in the end. Shigaraki was a means to an end. Nothing more, nothing less. This latest bout of idiocy might end Kurogiri’s pain on its own. Whether that was because Shigaraki got caught or Kurogiri himself got arrested was yet to be seen, but either way he didn’t have a lot of faith in the plan.

Bloodshed and violence, that was all this sorely thought out attempt on All Might would end in. Shigaraki didn’t care that it would be children suffering in order to make his play. In fact, he seemed to relish in the fact, knowing that All Might would see his students helpless and hurting and be unable to do anything to stop it.

As much as Kurogiri personally found the prospect distasteful, he had a part to play in the attack, and he would follow through with it. A little more blood on his hands, a little more red in his ledger. It made no difference in the end.

Yuuei would burn, and Kurogiri would be one step closer to bringing Yamamoto Kaito down.

Chapter Text

The morning of the mystery field trip dawn bright and early, and Izuku found himself waiting outside Yuuei’s front gates long before the rest of his classmates with a take away tray of coffee cooling in his hands. He should have known that neither of his friends would actually show up when they said they would. If their coffee cooled before they got there, then it wasn’t going to be his fault.

As though summoned by the thought, Kaminari came speeding around the corner, his voice sounding even louder than normal in the quiet morning. “Izuku! Is that coffee I see? You are literally the greatest person I have ever met. The kindest of heroes, the most considerate-” He cut himself off as Izuku snatched the coffee back out of his hands. “Hey!”

“That’s Mei’s five shot espresso death coffee, Denki. See the skull and crossbones? Your decaf is in the corner.” Izuku had learned quickly that Kaminari could not handle caffeine at all. He felt pretty sure that it had something to do with his quirk, but Kaminari didn’t seem to want to know anything more about it. One sip left him a jittery mess, and that was all Kaminari cared to think about it. Izuku wasn’t going to push the issue, even though he was curious. He was already making Kaminari rethink his quirk in one area, he wasn’t going to overwhelm him by information overload.

Although Izuku hadn’t exactly been hid anything about his almost obsessive personality, he still worried that one day Kaminari would realize that he and Mei were too much for him. Of course, Izuku realized that the worry was ridiculous, but it didn’t stop the thought from creeping in every now and then. The same thing had happened with Mei, but the attack on the mall had dissolved any lingering doubts. It would probably take the same kind of fight to put his doubts about Kaminari to rest as well, and that was probably something he should talk to Aizawa about. Izuku was self-aware enough to know that it wasn’t healthy to rely on a traumatic event to bring him and his friends closer together. That was a conversation for later though, for now he could pass off the coffee tray to Kaminari so he could enjoy his own drink while they waited for Mei.

“Do you have any ideas about what we’ll be doing today?” Kaminari asked. “Any insider secrets?”

Izuku saw the opportunity and he took it. Repressing an Aizawa like grin, Izuku said, “I finally got him to tell me everything.” He pretended to look around as though checking to make sure the coast was clear. “The field trip is going to be to an underwater arena. It’s to test our reflexes when our movements are impaired or something along those lines. It’s going to be a giant free for all.”

Kaminari’s eyes widened. “Really? That’s so cool! And unfair! I can’t use my quirk in a place like that!”

Izuku shrugged. “Maybe that’s the test. Maybe they want to see how you specifically will handle this situation.”

“What! Really? Dude, I can’t handle that this early in the morning!”

Unable to hold it together in the face of Kaminari’s panic, Izuku interrupted him. “I’m only joking, Denki. Aizawa wouldn’t tell me anything. He wouldn’t give me such an unfair advantage. We’ll all have to find out what’s going on together.”

“You had me worried there. What would happen if I accidently electrocuted someone? I’ve got to get better control of my quirk.”

“You’re already doing much better!”

Kaminari had made a lot of progress in the short time that he had been working on his quirk’s drawback effect. Izuku’s first guess was looking more and more likely the more that Kaminari tested it out. It seemed that the rush of electric current was too much for Kaminari’s brain to handle all at once. That was why it affected him faster the higher the voltage he used. Although he wasn’t able to limit the charge to a specific area of his body yet, he was getting better at recognizing when he was close to his natural limit and working around it. Izuku didn’t doubt that he would get more specific control the more he worked at it.

Kaminari blushed at the praise, and looked away from Izuku, blowing on the lid of his coffee. He coughed, clearing his throat. “Well, I think we should go ahead and go in. Mei can just meet us inside. It’s too early to be standing around out here.”

Mei hadn’t shown up by the time Kaminari and Izuku had to leave to catch their bus, but Izuku wasn’t worried. Sometimes she would get caught up in a project and hours would pass without her realizing it. He sent her a quick text letting her know they would catch up with her after school, and then they were off to find out the location of their mystery field trip. Instead of meeting in the classroom, Aizawa would be taking roll by the bus that would be taking them to their next location.

Yuuei’s campus was so enormous that despite looking at the map, there was no way that Izuku had been able to puzzle out where exactly they would be going. Some of the facilities on campus weren’t even included in the standard maps given to students for safety measures, including all of the areas that Izuku knew extended underground. As much as Izuku wanted to be prepared for what was coming, he kind of like the surprise of it all. He rarely ever had true surprises, and those were always things like the attack on the mall or running into All Might. Everything else tended to be slipped to him from one source or another, but even Hizashi had been tight lipped about this excursion. The excitement didn’t completely rid him of his nerves, but it provided a nice distraction so that he could shove those nerves a little farther down from the surface.

The majority of their class had already assembled at the pick-up spot, but Aizawa was still nowhere to be seen.


Izuku turned to see Uraraka Ochako walking towards him, a bright smile on her face. He hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to her very often, but from what he could tell she seemed nice enough. The way that she managed to loudly and frequently shut Bakugou down when he started treading back into his old habits.

As much as it felt like spying, Izuku couldn’t help but keep an eye on the way that Uraraka and Bakugou acted around each other. In the beginning, it had seemed as though the strange friendship they had built came entirely from Uraraka, and Izuku had been waiting for the moment when Bakugou lost his new and limited supply of self control and put and end to it. He had even debated whether or not it was his place, as an ex friend of Bakugou, to give Uraraka some advice on weathering his more explosive moods. Ultimately though, he had decided to simply watch from the sidelines. It wasn’t his job to sabotage a friendship that Bakugou needed just as clearly as Izuku had needed Mei. Bakugou had always had followers, after all. His last true friend had been Izuku himself.

It didn’t take long for Izuku to realize that there wasn’t anything to be concerned about. The rest of their class might have watched Uraraka and Bakugou interacting like they were a bomb waiting to go off, but Izuku knew Bakugou well enough at least to know the difference. No, for some reason Bakugou gravitated towards Uraraka as much as Uraraka gravitated towards him. If Izuku didn’t know for a fact that that wasn’t where Bakugou’s attraction lay, he might have even thought that someone was harboring a crush.

No, the truth was that Bakugou had been in the same boat as Izuku, although for entirely different reasons. He had been in sore need of a friend, and now that he had found one he didn’t seem to be letting go of her anytime soon. Bakugou would never admit that, of course, and he always put on an attitude of grudging acceptance, but Izuku knew. He thought Uraraka probably did too, because every grumbled protest from Bakugou only made her try harder.

“Uraraka-san! What can I do for you this morning?”

Another thing that Izuku had realized pretty quickly was that he liked Uraraka. She was opinionated, and funny, and she had a kind of wit that made it easy for her to keep up with Bakugou’s brand of brash bullheadedness. He could easily see her fitting in with Mei.

“Are both of those coffees for you, Midoriya-kun? Or does someone here already have a claim on it?”

“It was for our friend Hatsume,” Izuku explain, “but she seems to be running late. You’re welcome to it if you want, but I have to warn you it’s got a lot of caffeine. Hatsume’s a bit of an addict, and her tolerance is off the scale.”

“You really don’t mind? I was actually kidding, but if it’s up for grabs I’d never say no to free coffee!” Her smile was infectious, and Izuku found himself smiling back as he handed it over. “And don’t worry about the caffeine. I’ve got a pretty high tolerance myself.”

Izuku handed it over, looking around for Bakugou. “If you didn’t come over here just to claim the free coffee, was there something you needed, Uraraka-san?”

“Oh, nothing big,” she said, waving off his concern. “I just wanted to see if you and Kaminari wanted to sit with Katsuki-kun and I on the bus!”

From the corner of his eye, Izuku could see Kaminari raising his eyebrow at the use of Bakugou’s name, but Izuku skated right passed it. No need to comment on that at the moment. Kaminari glanced between Uraraka and Izuku, letting Izuku know that he would follow Izuku’s lead on this one.

“I appreciate the offer, Uraraka-san, but I don’t think that would be the best idea.” As much as Bakugou had changed, Izuku didn’t think they had quite reached the ‘sit together on the bus’ level of friendship. Taking him up on his offer for a rematch was one thing, but riding together suggested that they would be able to sit near each other for an extended period of time without one of them exploding. Literally. Izuku wouldn’t take that bet.

Uraraka took a sip of her coffee and hummed. “I don’t know what the story between the two of you is,” Uraraka said, examining the skull and cross bones Izuku had scribbled onto the cup while he waited. “It’s not really my business, and I’m not going to pry. But. I think that it would be better for the both of you in the long run if you work it out. He would never admit it, but I get the feeling he’s got a lot of pent up regret that he doesn’t know how to deal with.”


“Like I said, I don’t know what went on between you. He’s got a prickly personality, and from what little he has told me, I know that it’s his fault there’s this great big something between you. I’m not saying you have to forgive him for whatever it was. That would be ridiculous. He’s my friend though, and I know this bothers him. I’m pretty sure it still bothers you too.”


“Thanks for the coffee, Midoriya-kun! And good luck today!” And then she was off.

Izuku turned slowly to Kaminari. “What just happened?”

“Uraraka’s pretty perceptive, that’s what just happened. It’s really not all that surprising she can handle being Bakugou’s friend. Girl seems like she can be ruthless when she wants to be.”

“At least she took Mei’s coffee. I would have felt bad throwing it away, but I certainly didn’t want to drink it.”

“Smart decision,” Kaminari said.

It wasn’t long after Uraraka left that Aizawa turned up, wrapped in his favorite yellow sleeping bag. Izuku covered his mouth with a hand to hide his laughter. The rest of their classmates had gathered, but very few of them were taking Aizawa’s appearance in stride. Given how rule focused Iida was, Izuku was surprised he wasn’t among the group that seemed baffled by Aizawa’s constant need for sleep. Or maybe he just recognized that hero work on top of teaching was a round the clock job was understanding enough to cut their teacher a little slack.

“Wait until you meet his cats,” Izuku whispered to Kaminari as Aizawa started to take roll. “I don’t know whether they started acting like him, or he just naturally acts very cat like, but the resemblance is uncanny.”

Kaminari smirked at him. “And where exactly does that leave you, Izuku?”

Izuku rolled his eyes. “I never should have told you. I literally asked for this, didn’t I?”

“You know you want this running commentary on your Aizawa-ness. I’m keeping a list of the most obvious moments so that when the rest of the class finds out I can throw them all in their faces. Who do you think is going to figure it out first? My bets on Uraraka.”

“Midoriya. Kaminari. If you could pay attention so that we could be on our way?”

Izuku ducked his head at the rebuke. “Sorry, Aizawa-sensei,” they both chimed.

“Now. If you could please make your way onto the bus.”

Uraraka flashed them a smile as they loaded onto the bus, but she didn’t try to stop them from walking straight passed where she and Bakugou were sitting. Kirishima had slid onto the same bench as them, and Izuku wondered how long it would take for their duo to become a trio. Kirishima also seemed like the kind of person who would be able to smooth out the rougher edges of Bakugou’s personality.

Instead, Izuku and Kaminari found themselves sitting with Asui Tsuyu.

The bus started up and began to pull away from the curb, and for a second Izuku floundered. They should talk, shouldn’t they? There was no way for them to tell how long the ride was going to be, and their classmates were talking all around them, but Izuku found himself unsure of where to start. Asui watched him, a small smile on her face as though she sensed his dilemma and had no intention of helping him out of it.

It didn’t matter how much his confidence in his abilities grew, talking to his classmates and making friends was always going to be an area that he struggled. Mei and Kaminari had both been the one to reach out to him. In Kaminari’s case, multiple times before Izuku finally let him in. He wasn’t good at casual conversation that didn’t involve some kind of banter.

As his brain went around and around in panic mode as he tried to figure out what to say, Kaminari came to the rescue with his usual level of smoothness. “Dude. Your quirk is so cool! Do you have anyone else in your family with frog abilities?”

“Thank you, Kaminari-chan,” Asui said, shifting her attention from Izuku to his friend. “And yes. My whole family has some kind of frog based quirk.”

“That’s awesome! Right, Izuku?”

Izuku would have to thank Kaminari later for saving him from some incredible awkwardness and silence. This was one topic that he would never run out of things to talk about. “Absolutely! Your quirk is one of the most versatile in the class! Besides the exercises in class, have you tested the limits on your jumping? What about your strength?”

“I haven’t tested them as much as I probably should have,” Asui admitted, “but there wasn’t much chance outside of Yuuei. Hopefully I’ll get the chance with Aizawa-sensei soon.”
“I’m sure you will! Maybe with whatever we’re doing today.”

“You seem pretty knowledgeable about quirks, Midoriya-chan. That video…I don’t think I would have been able to react like that.”

Izuku laughed awkwardly. “Being able to pick out weaknesses in quirks is kind my whole deal. It only worked out this time because I already know Bakugou so well.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Izuku!” Kaminari protested. “That fight was epic. I couldn’t have held my own with him either, and you hit him right where he was weak. It was so great to watch! That rematch is going to be something too.”

“Maybe you can help me out, Midoriya-chan. I’m sure you would have some great advice.”

“I can always try, Asui-san.”

“Call me Tsuyu! You too, Kaminari-chan!”

The bus ride ended quickly, and the entire class filed off the bus to find themselves standing in front of a large domed building that Izuku had never seen before. Aizawa didn’t pause to explain what they were doing there. He led them straight inside the double doors, taking only a moment to unlock them, before stopping in the open landing that looked out onto the expansive space.

“Welcome to the Unforeseen Simulation Joint, otherwise known as USJ,” Aizawa said.

Izuku could certainly see why it was called that. The area inside the building had been divided into different areas, all with their own theme. From where they were standing, Izuku could see another smaller building with a fire raging inside, water with a large ship and a waterslide of some kind, a towering mountain, a destroyed city. All of that and more with plenty of space between them right there on Yuuei’s campus.

Once again, Izuku had to think about how much money such a setup would have cost. A stadium sized building devoted to recreating as many environments as possible. Suddenly the purpose of their field trip became clear.

“As Aizawa-sensei said, welcome to USJ!” Another hero dressed in a space suit stepped up towards them. “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Thirteen, and I will be working with you today!”

“All Might will also be joining us,” Aizawa said, “but he had business to take care of before he can assist us.”

“The purpose of today’s lesson is to get you familiar with the different areas in USJ so that you can use the facility to the fullest. In your previous classes, you have gotten a chance to better understand your abilities in combat situations, but this does not mean that you need to lose sight of the reason that you are at Yuuei in the first place. Yes, working as a pro hero does often mean battling against others, but do not forget that the true purpose of being a hero lies in saving people. USJ is a tool that you can use to help you fine tune your quirks towards saving people without also putting them in danger in the process. Quirks can be dangerous when not fully under control. The sooner you gain that control the better.”

“For now,” Aizawa said, “we will be going over the different areas in the facility. Once All Might arrives we will be dividing into groups to explore. It is extremely important that you do not wander off. While this is a class exercise, the dangers in this building can be very real if you are not paying attention and are not prepared. You should not be alone in any region without a teacher present.”

“The first region we will looking at is…” Thirteen trailed off, tilting their head to the side. “Do you hear that?”

Thirteen and Aizawa both turned as one towards the walkway behind them. Izuku strained to see over their shoulders, as his classmates did the same. He could almost feel the moment when Aizawa saw it and time slowed.

A swirling vortex of black and purple smoke had appeared above the ground behind the teachers, and the sight of it had Izuku’s heart pounding heavy in his chest. This wasn’t part of the class, which could only mean one thing.

Slowly a hand emerged from the smoke, and then a man. Izuku couldn’t get a clear view of him except for the dismembered hand latched onto his face. The man wasn’t alone either. As soon as he stepped clear of the smoke another stepped in behind him. Then another and another. Izuku could only watch in horror as the space filled with menacing figures, all of them leering towards the small crowd of students and their teachers.

“Stay here,” Aizawa said, the sleeping bag he had been so comfortable in falling to the ground in one smooth movement. “Whatever you do, don’t step off that platform. Thirteen?”

“I’ve got them.”

The class burst into protest.

“What’s going on?”

“Is this part of the class?”

“Who are they?”


“This isn’t part of the test,” Aizawa said, settling his goggles over his eyes. Izuku’s hand twitched towards the latch on his belt. “And those are villains.”

Chapter Text

Izuku’s first reaction to seeing a literal swarm of villains facing down his unprepared class and two pro heroes was to laugh. Thankfully, he had gained a little more brain to mouth control and did not laugh in the face of the tragedy that was about to unfold, but it was a very near thing. Because of course this was happening. Wasn’t that just Izuku’s luck? Hadn’t he just been thinking that he needed some kind of traumatic event to wash away the lingering doubts he held about the strength of Kaminari’s friendship? Izuku had asked for this. He had actually asked for this, and the universe, being the caring yet unforgiving entity that it was, seemed more than happy to oblige him by giving him exactly what he had jokingly thought he needed.


The villain with the hand covering his face stepped forward, and Izuku seriously hoped that he wasn’t the type to monologue. Or if he was that he would at least remove the hand from his face to do so. Did that make it hard for him to talk? Was it a purely aesthetic choice, or was there more significance to the hand than Izuku could glean from a distance? A distance quiet part of his brain told him he was probably going into shock, but Izuku shoved it down. Now wasn’t the time to be hit with the reality of their situation. Not if Izuku planned to do anything about it.


“I wonder,” the lead villain said, the words muffled by the hand. The swirling mass of smoke the villains had appeared out of twisted in the air, taking the vague shape of a man. The villain seemed content to let the words linger as he looked over them, and Izuku took the chance to size him up as well.


His hair hung at shoulder length, but the strands were stark. Not just white, but as though they had been bleached of their color. They framed his face in greasy swathes, lining the edges of the hand still covering the man’s features. If it was intended to hide his identity, Izuku didn’t think that it would do him any good. The hair alone would have been distinctive for the utter feeling of wrongness that Izuku felt looking at the lack of color, but his skin… Izuku had never seen skin crack like that before. There wasn’t much on display with his long black sleeves and pants covering his arms and legs, but his own hands and the edges of his face not covered were grey and brittle looking. Izuku could almost imagine that if he touched the villain’s skin it would crumble under his fingers.


Izuku couldn’t get a clear read on the rest of the villains, only that they were severely out numbered. There were maybe twenty-five to thirty of them beside the leader and the person who had warped them all in. Some of them had weapons. Some of them didn’t. All of them looked ready to swarm the students if given the chance, and Izuku didn’t want to think about the odds on how that encounter would go. Yes, the students at Yuuei were supposed to be the best of the best, but they had next to no real fighting experience. The only real experience they had was fighting each other, and there was a big difference between combat with a classmate and combat with a mob of villains who would have no qualms about hurting children.

“All Might was supposed to be here,” the villain continued. Something in his voice sounded almost like a petulant child. “I don’t see him. That’s disappointing. After all, we came all this way to play. Do you think he would come for the children?”


No one answered him as Aizawa readied his scarves. Izuku couldn’t see his face, but he recognized the tension in his shoulders. Thirteen stood protectively in front of the class, but Izuku couldn’t see what they would be able to do if the villains really wanted to get to the students. They acted as a rescue hero mostly, and the kind of close fighting this could easily become wasn’t something they engaged in often.


“It seems like the kind of thing that would draw All Might,” the villain continued. “Dead children and dead heroes. A Symbol of Peace surrounded by so much death and bloodshed. So many broken little bodies. Yes, that seems like just the thing to bring him here, and then the real fun can begin.”


The villain smiled then, a grotesque grin breaking around the edges of the hand. Izuku could tell it was only a matter of seconds before he signaled the rest of the villains, before the villains would be on them. Aizawa knew it too.


“Get them out of here, Thirteen,” his mentor said. What followed next was the dumbest thing Izuku had ever seen Aizawa do. Without looking back, trusting that Thirteen would do as he asked, Aizawa took a deep breath, tightened his grip on his weapon, and jumped straight into the fray. Within seconds he had two villains on the ground, scarves wrapped tightly around them, but even as Izuku watched him nullify a quirk and punch a third villain in the face, Izuku knew that it wouldn’t be enough.


This wasn’t how Aizawa fought. He wasn’t All Might. He didn’t get involved in long, drawn out melee fights. Aizawa clung to the shadows, taking out his targets before they ever knew he was there. He was quiet and cunning, not brash and forceful. He chose his battles carefully, and if the conditions weren’t to his liking then he changed them. He did not throw himself into situations that he wasn’t prepared for. That had always been the golden rule. Be smart. Be careful. Don’t rush in. Except that was exactly what Aizawa had just done, and it was going to get him killed.


Izuku hadn’t even realized he had taken a step forward, his eyes locked on his teacher as he sent another villain crashing through the crowd, until he felt a tug on the back of his shirt. Kaminari stood behind him, grip still tightly clenched on the fabric. His face looked as stricken as Izuku felt.


“Don’t,” Kaminari said, as Thirteen started ushering them back, away from the fight. Izuku could still see the villain with the hands over their shoulder standing frozen in the midst of the chaos. He didn’t look concerned by Aizawa’s intervention, but he made no move to follow after them either. The smoke man wavered in the air beside him.


“Izuku,” Kaminari said again, harsher this time. He tugged on Izuku’s shirt again, forcing Izuku to take a few stumbling steps back. “Don’t.” It was as though everything was happening in slow motion. Thirteen continued to gesture them towards the exit, glancing over their shoulder to see if they were being followed. Later, he would be grateful to Kaminari for holding him back, but in that moment all he wanted to do was knock his friend’s hand aside, pull out his weapons, and join his teacher in what they all knew was a losing battle. He couldn’t leave Aizawa alone to face all that. He couldn’t. Not when Aizawa was basically sacrificing himself to save them, and the only one who seemed to care was Izuku.


Izuku trusted Aizawa. He believed in him more than anything or anyone else, but he had also spent the last two years training with him every chance he got. The only person who knew Aizawa’s weaknesses better than Izuku was Hizashi, which meant Izuku knew just how much trouble they were in for Aizawa to make such a drastic move.


He could die. Aizawa could actually die from this, and they were just going to leave him.


When he was younger, his mother had an old record player. It was ancient, and always smelled like dust no matter how much they cleaned it. The few records they had were just as old, and Izuku always refused to touch them because he was so sure that if he broke one his mother would cry, and the last thing he wanted was to see his mother cry. Sometimes when it rained they would turn off the lights, place candles around the room, and bundle up in blankets on the couch to listen to the record music. Every once in a while, the needle would stick though, the song caught on the say word over and over again until his mother made her way over to fix it. Izuku felt as though his thoughts skipped like the needle on the record, the same phrase repeating in his mind over and over again in an endless loop he couldn’t break himself out of.


He could die he could die he could die he could die he could-


“Izuku!” This time Kaminari pulled harder, and Izuku tripped into his side, knocking him out of his thoughts. “You need to focus! We have to stay with the others. Aizawa wants us to leave, so that’s what we’re going to do!”



“I know,” Kaminari said, his grip shifting from the back of Izuku’s shirt to his hand. “But you can’t think about that now. We need to get help. The alarms should have gone off as soon as someone without a name tag stepped on campus, but they didn’t. One of these villains has to be blocking the signal.”


“Keep going,” Thirteen said, “Iida-kun, you have to go ahead. Run for the main building. We’re too far out for there to be anyone close by, but stop if you see anyone and get them to try to call it in. As soon as you get there, get Principal Nedzu!”


Izuku’s eyes had been trained on the scene below, on Aizawa and the villains, but even he didn’t see the shadow figure move. One moment he was on the floor with the others, and then the next he was looming in front of them. His shape stretched until he towered over them, tendrils of the smoke lashing out. The students at the head of the group skidded to a halt to stop from coming into contact with him. Iida stood out farther than the others, edging carefully around the group. He had to be waiting for an opening to bolt for the door, but Izuku couldn’t see the villain in front of them giving him the chance unless someone did something first. He had stood at the leader’s side as the fighting started, and he had come after them without a word. Izuku would bet that he was one of the more powerful villains there.


“This really is nothing personal,” the villain said, his figure still looming over them. “There just isn’t any other way. When one is trying to kill the Number One Hero, one simply doesn’t have many weak points to target.” His voice sounded deep and tired, as though he were bored with the whole situation already. As though he hadn’t just admitted that their goal was to kill All Might.


“Kill All Might?” Kirishima repeated, stepping away from the group. Bakugou was right behind him with Uraraka coming up beside him. “Not if we stop you.”


“Student!” Thirteen called, voice sounding strangled through the filter in their mask. “Step back!”


“Now I can’t have you do that,” the villain said, and although Izuku could see no face it sounded as though the man were smiling. “Bright little heroes. Good luck.”


Izuku had just enough time to process the words before the swirling tendrils around the man exploded into movement, expanding as they whipped around the group. Kaminari’s grip on Izuku’s hand tightened as everything went dark, the smoke blocking out the light completely. Izuku couldn’t see anything, couldn’t feel anything but Kaminari’s grip on his hand as they were battered around in the darkness for a moment before they were thrust back into the light a few dozen feet above water.


It didn’t matter that Izuku didn’t have a chance to catch his breath because the impact would have knocked it out of him. Kaminari’s hand was ripped from his, and Izuku struggled to blink around the water and figure out what was going on. His lungs burned, but kept his mouth firmly closed as he looked around.


They must have been dropped into the boat rescue area, because Izuku could see a dark shape in the water on the other side of the pool. Kaminari was a few yards away from him, looking at Izuku with wide eyes, movements frantic as he pointed away from the boat. The villains must have planned to separate the students, because there were several other people in the pool on the opposite end as the boat, the distance between them not far enough for Izuku’s liking. He pointed up, to the surface and Kaminari nodded.


Gasping as soon as he breached the water, Izuku scanned the area around them. The villains hadn’t started moving yet, but Izuku figured that it would only be a matter of time. If the villains were here, that must mean that their quirks were water based somehow. He and Kaminari would be at a disadvantage.


“We have to get to the boat,” Izuku said, trying to look over his shoulder while keep an eye on the villains.




One of the villains must have had a shark related quirk. When Izuku had turned to look at the boat the water had been calm, but now there was a fin racing towards them. The other villains had started to swim closer as well, the distance between them closer with every second. Izuku’s mind raced through what he had at his disposal. Could he get a pocket open without losing any of his gear to the water?


Beside him, Kaminari flailed, trying to reach for Izuku again. His expression tight, eyes wide, Izuku knew what he was about to do. It was his turn to yell, “Don’t!” It had to have been an instinct. When in danger, use quirk.


Kaminari looked startled, shaking his head. “Right, right. Do you have a plan?”


Izuku was the plan guy, of course he had a plan. It wasn’t a very good plan, but it was at least something. He was about to explain, when he felt something slimy wrap around his waist, and he was yanked out of the water, back towards the boat. He collided hard with the metal, the breath knocked out of him again as he sputtered. A second later, Kaminari landed beside him.


“That was close.”


Looking up, Izuku saw Asui sitting on the boat’s railing. “You’re welcome,” she said, hoping down. “Now do either of you have a plan to get us out of here.”


“Izuku has a plan!” Kaminari blurted out, as he sat up.


“That plan might need a little tweaking now that we’re out of immediate danger.” Izuku wasn’t about to explain that his plan had been to punch the shark in the nose and hope that factoid that he had learned by watching nature documentaries applied to shark people as well.


“You jinxed us, Izuku! You made that joke earlier, and now! I almost…” Kaminari trailed off, and Izuku suddenly felt awful for what he had only meant as a teasing joke. Another way the universe was cursing him today.


“You didn’t though. Everything’s okay. I’m okay. I’m sorry, Denki, I didn’t know that was going to happen.”


“No, no, I know,” Kaminari groaned. “I’m just going to be no help here. Even if those guys are villains, I don’t want to kill them. Besides, this boat is metal, and I have no idea if it’s insulated correctly considering it’s inside a building. I can’t risk using my quirk and frying you two in the process.”


Izuku shook his head again, looking down at the water. There were six villains that he could see below, including the shark. Using Kaminari’s quirk would be the easy solution, but there was no way that would work without killing anybody.


“They don’t know your quirks,” Izuku said slowly.


“What?” Asui asked.

“Think about it. If they knew everyone’s quirk, they would have been more careful about where we were dropped. Water is an advantage to you, and if they were smart the last thing they would want is Kaminari around a large body of water and metal. Which means they didn’t know.”


“So how does that help us?” Asui asked. “Kaminari can’t use his quirk. Do you have anything in that magic belt of yours that will get us out of here?”


“Maybe,” Izuku said, running through everything he had stocked in his bag. “What exactly does your quirk allow you to do?”


“Pretty much anything a frog can do,” Asui said, shrugging. “Some of it’s not actually helpful to hero work, but I can jump higher than normal. My tongue stretches to about twenty meters, and is stronger. That’s how I got the two of you out of the water.”


Putting the grossness of that fact aside, Izuku brushing his finger against one of the latches on his bag and opened it to see rows of Wonder Balls perfectly intact. Mei had been right, the name had stuck as much as he hated it. Asui and Kaminari both looked as though he was handing them live explosive when he placed two gently in each of their hands. In a way, he supposed he kind of was.


“Normally, I wouldn’t let you touch these. It took weeks of practice before my mentor let me handle a live one, but I think this counts as extenuating circumstances. Don’t drop them, and don’t squeeze them. That will set them off.”


Kaminari and Asui did not look comforted by the news, glancing at Izuku as he pulled out a couple for himself.


“The purple ones are explosives. They’re on a time delay. Impact with the water should be enough to set them off. We’re going to throw these first, and try to get them as close to the villains as possible. They’re making it easy for us with the way they are huddled together.” He waited for Kaminari and Asui to nod before continuing. “The yellow ones act as flash grenades. Once we throw the purple ones, close your eyes, look away, and squeeze these in your hand until you feel it crack then throw it in the way too. These should buy us about a minute, and by that point the explosions should all be going off. They won’t sink to the bottom, so if we aim well that should buy us even more time.”


“What next?”

“We’re outnumbered, and we don’t know what other abilities they may have. The best way to win this fight is not to fight. Asui, when they’re distracted, can you throw us towards the shore? If we can get out of the water, they aren’t likely to chase after us and give up their advantage. After all, they still don’t know what we can do, and Kaminari will be free to zap them once we’re clear of the water.”


“I can do that!”


“Okay, so we just need to make sure that we all go at once. It will be more effective if the explosions are close together. On my signal.”


It wasn’t the best plan, but they were short on options and time. While they were dealing with these villains, there was no telling what was going on with the rest of their classmates, let alone Aizawa.



This would work, and then they could get a better understanding of what was really going on.




A wave roared through the water lashing out at the ship and cracking the hull straight down the middle. The boat lurched to one side, and all three of them stumbled, grabbing onto the railing to keep from falling back into the water.


“Now!” Izuku said. The villains didn’t look concerned at the small drops that landed in the water beside them, more focusing on watching as the boat began to sink.


He watched as Kaminari and Asui shielded their faces before turning his own into the crook in his elbow and squeezed the lump of clay in his hand until he felt it crack. Without hesitating, he lobbed it towards the water as well. Instantly, there were screams of protest from below.


“Clear!” He called and heard two resounding calls of, “Clear!” follow.

Izuku had made the mistake of not covering his face before setting off one of the yellow balls before. The light was blinding, and it lasted a good minute before it faded. That had to be enough time for them to get away.


“Asui now!”

Asui tongue wrapped around Kaminari’s waist again, slinging him off the surface of the deck and towards the shore. He landed with a splash only a handful of feet away from the water’s edge. Izuku was ready for the same treatment, but Asui grabbed him instead, her arm going tightly under his shoulder.


“I’ve got you, Midoriya-chan! Don’t let go!”


Izuku thought, surely she wasn’t going to be able to make the jump with him in tow, but one second they were on the sinking ship and the next they were in the air over the water. They landed in the water beside a sputtering Kaminari with barely a splash. Almost as soon as they touched down a booming set of explosions went off followed by more yelling. Asui let go of Izuku, and bent down to pull Kaminari to his feet.


“Now, let’s get enough distance between us and the water as possible,” Izuku said, and set off in the direction of the front entrance.

Always be prepared. Always expect the unexpected. How many times had he told Izuku that? And Aizawa couldn’t even follow his own fucking advice. As his hair fell into his eyes, he cursed again. It was a stupid mistake. A careless, thoughtless mistake. Because Aizawa hadn’t planned on having to use his quirk today, at least not enough to warrant pulling his hair back to hide the obvious tell. It was just a rescue demonstration after all, a chance for them to see USJ’s facilities. Now he was paying the price. He had to hope that his students wouldn’t pay the price as well.


Aizawa hadn’t been able to look back at Izuku before he jumped into the fight. He wouldn’t have been able to handle to desperation on his face. He trusted that Kaminari would do what he needed to do to get Izuku back, because the last thing he needed was for his young charge to get caught in this disaster. He believed that Izuku would be a great hero someday, but this was too much for even Aizawa to handle, let alone his first year student.


Blood pounded in Aizawa’s head to the rhythm of his heartbeat. His eyes burned. His lungs screamed at him that he needed to breath, and yet he pushed on. The wave of villains seemed never ending, and still the leader stood in the middle of the chaos unmoving, taking on the scene as if it amused him.


“You aren’t suited for this kind of fighting, are you?” The villain mused, finally stepping towards him. “Eraserhead. My, what a tell you have. Your hair keeps getting in your eyes, are you sure you’re all right? This must be quite the challenge for you. And yet you jumped in with no hesitation.”


The villain moved slowly as Aizawa slammed two of his followers into each other and sent them rolling across the ground.


“You did it for the children, didn’t you?” He asked. “So they wouldn’t be afraid? So they would think and hope that they had a chance of getting out of here? So cool! So heroic!” The villain’s tone had turned exaggerated, as though he were mimicking someone. “Well, I’m sorry Eraserhead. But none of you are getting out of here alive. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill your precious students. When All Might arrives, it will be to the sight of your bodies laid out in front of him, your blood painting the floor, and once he’s done coming to the realization that everything happening today is his fault he will join you in the dirt.”


Aizawa didn’t bother responding. He flung his scarves towards the villain, wrapping them around one wrist even as the villain jumped back. Aizawa tugged hard on the fabric jerking him towards him. This villain was the leader. The others were nothing. It was only their numbers that made them a threat. If Aizawa could take him out then just maybe…He threw another strand at the villain, encircling his other wrist as he fell into Aizawa’s space.


In the moment, Aizawa wasn’t able to tell what exactly had happened. He had the villain bound, but a smile broke out across his cracked face. The look registered a second before the strands of his scarf disintegrated in the villain’s grip, but Aizawa kept moving, the villain’s momentum bringing him in. Aizawa lifted his elbow, jamming it into his rib cage.




It erupted.


Aizawa bit back a gasp as a pain unlike anything he had ever felt before lanced up his arm. From the corner of his eye he glimpsed his elbow and it was as though the skin and muscle had simple crumbled away leaving exposed bone and bleeding tissue in its place.


The villain wiggled his fingers at him before stepping away, two other villains taking his place. One gripped the open muscle in his arm making him hiss while the other punched him square in the face. Blood welled in his mouth as the world went black.


It took a moment for everything to come into focus again, but by that time the leader stood in front of him again, grabbing his face in a bone crushing grip. One finger drifted above his skin, not touching, simply hovering.


So that was the trick.


“My dear, Eraserhead,” the villain almost cooed. “Did you really think that it would be that easy? Did you really think that I would come here, claiming I was going to kill All Might if I didn’t have a solid plan? I’m not like them.” He gestured at the villains around him. “But I’m also only the opening act.”


The villain let go of his face, and Aizawa collapsed to the ground, spitting blood. His face hurt, his eyes still burned, he couldn’t feel his arm which was probably a bad sign, and yet all of that paled in comparison to what he was seeing before him.


It was a monster. That was the only way to describe it. It stood tall over the villain, large and muscular, with beady eyes and a beak. Sharp yellowed teeth dripped drool, and Aizawa could just imagine what it would feel like to have those rip through skin. Worst of all, was the way the creature’s brain was exposed, as though it wasn’t necessary. Wasn’t important. It was a creature made to follow orders and nothing else. The villain gestured towards Aizawa, and the monster stalked forward. Nothing that Aizawa did could have stopped it. It reached for Aizawa’s head just as the villain had done moments before, it’s hand significantly larger.


With one swift move, it slammed Aizawa’s face into the floor.


“This is why none of you will ever leave here alive, Eraserhead,” the villain said. “Meet the Anti-Symbol of Peace. Would you like to watch him rip your students apart limb by limb, or would you prefer to go first?”

Chapter Text

Tensei had told Tenya time and time again that it only took a moment for a situation to deteriorate right in front of you. Something as routine as a person accidently losing control of their quirk could turn into a hostage situation in the blink of an eye, and you had to be ready for it. Ready to react. Ready to de-escalate the situation. Ready to do something, anything, to end the conflict with as little risk as possible.


Tenya had always believed his brother. He took note of every scrap of advice his brother had to give him, squirreling it away for the day when that advice would probably end up saving his life or the life of some poor civilian. Sure, he might have come on too strong with Midoriya. In his haste to help others, he hadn’t really thought about how condescending that advice would have sounded, and he hadn’t known what type of training Midoriya had undergone. His brother’s words had been sound, even if Tenya had gone about expressing them in the wrong way. He would have to make it up to Midoriya later though, when they made it out of the mess they found themselves in now.


Because just as Tensei had warned him, the situation had fallen to pieces right before his eyes, and there was nothing that he could have done to stop it. Half his class had vanished in a swirl of smoke to who knew where, Aizawa stood in the middle of a mob of villains fighting alone, and Thirteen had been left responsible for getting the remaining students to safety while a separate villain blocked their only exit. All happening within a blink of an eye.


The vanished students couldn’t be dead. Tenya refused to believe that. If this villain had the ability to travel with his quirk, and it looked like he did considering how the villains had gotten into USJ in the first place, then they were probably transported somewhere else. Somewhere in the building since the villain had said something about wanting to kill All Might. They would be alright them, Tenya thought. They would be able to fight their way out of whatever trouble they had landed in. For the moment, all Iida needed to be concerned with was his role in this fight. Not paying attention had cost him and Midoriya the practical. The stakes were much higher now.


“Iida,” Thirteen said, their voice betraying none of the panic that Tenya himself felt. That made sense though. Thirteen had been a pro hero for several years. “I’m going to cause a distraction. I need you to run. Head straight for the main building. Stop anyone you see and tell them what’s going on. We need backup, but under no circumstances is All Might to come here. They need to know it’s a trap. Do you understand?”


Tenya nodded. “I understand, Thirteen.” He couldn’t fail at this. Not like he had before.


“Be ready.”


Tenya shifted, ready to move the moment Thirteen gave him the opportunity. The smoke villain must have been watching them, but seeing as he didn’t have a face in the conventional sense Tenya could tell nothing about what he thought of the remaining students and their teacher. If Thirteen said he would have a chance, then he would have a chance. Thirteen moved, stepping back between the students and the villain, shielding them from view as best they could.


“You should leave,” Thirteen said, and Tenya had to be impressed once again at the way their voice gave away nothing of what they were thinking. “You’ve already taken this too far. Leave now before you make this worse for yourself.”


The shadow chuckled, and it was a sound that send chills down Tenya’s spine. So cold and unbothered despite the fact that he was attacking children. Tenya refused to be affected by it though. If Thirteen could be calm in the face of this danger, then Tenya could too.


“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” the villain responded, the smoke around him swirling again. “I have a role to play, as do you.”


“Well, I’m afraid I’m not much of an actor,” Thirteen shot back, releasing their quirk. Tenya took that as his sign to run, activating his quirk just as Thirteen’s black hole began pulling at the villain. This was his chance! Tenya could slip around the villain while he was distracted with Thirteen’s quirk, and then all he would have to do is find someone on the ground and let them know what was happening.


As Tensei said though, it only took a moment for everything to go wrong. It happened between one blink and the next.


The pull of Thirteen’s quirk reached the villain just as Tenya made his way around him. He had just reached the door, his back to his classmates, when he heard the scream. He turned, skidding to a stop in the entrance way, and froze. The villain had opened one of his shadow portals, redirecting Thirteen’s quirk. But not at the pro hero. The villain had let loose Thirteen’s black hole on the remaining students, and it didn’t look like Thirteen had managed to stop it in time.


Sero was on the ground clutching his arm. Ojiro had collapsed next to him, along with Sato and Shoji. Hagekure had been the one to scream though, starring at the blood splashed across the tiled flooring.

For a moment, Tenya couldn’t move. Then he shook himself and turned his back on his classmates. There was nothing he could do to help them if he stayed. The only way they were going to get through this was if he could alert the rest of the school that they were being attacked and get help. As much as he wanted to turn back and fight with his classmates, he had a job to do.

The last thing he heard before the doors to the USJ closed behind him was the villain asking, “Have I gone too far now?”

One moment Katsuki had been preparing to beat up literal smoke with his bare hands, and the next he found himself lost in a swirling vortex of that smoke. In hindsight, he might have rushed into the situation without fully thinking his actions through, but it was too late now to do anything about it. That villain had to have some kind of physical form underneath all of that smoke, and if Katsuki had the chance he would find a way to reach it.


When the vortex opened up, Katsuki quickly realized that he probably wouldn’t be getting that chance. Someone else would have to deal with that on their own. It seemed that they were going to have their hands full, from the looks of things. When the smoke cleared, Katsuki found himself in what looked to be an abandoned building. Of course, the burning building was on fire, but that was a minor detail. The bigger problem was going to be the villains clearly waiting for them on the floor. Uraraka coughed on smoke next to him, along with his red-haired rock-like classmate whose name Katsuki hadn’t taken the energy to remember yet.


“That didn’t go as planned,” Uraraka said when she had finally caught her breath. “But we have to still be in the building somewhere.”


“How do you know that?” Red head asked. Katsuki didn’t understand why they were wasting time on conversation when they could be dealing with the problem and getting back to the entrance to help.


“This was one of the areas we could see from the entrance, if you looked. I think this fire has to be controlled somehow,” she explained, covering her mouth with her sleeve as she spoke. “If the fire wasn’t controlled this whole building would have come down already.”


“Can we talk about this later?” Katsuki snapped, as the villains edged closer to them. “Or, ideally, not at all?”

Uraraka huffed, but she did nothing to hide the smile on her face. Katsuki resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Their classmate watched the exchange with a confused expression on his face.


“Uh, sure,” he said, still looking between Katsuki and Uraraka, but he didn’t press with his questions. Instead he activated his quirk, and Katsuki watched as his skin rippled before hardening. Now it was Katsuki’s turn to grin. That was more what he had in mind from the beginning.


“What’s your name?” Katsuki asked.


“Kirishima Eijirou?” He didn’t sound sure about that, but Katsuki didn’t want to waste the time checking.


“Kirishima,” Katsuki repeated, because after this and the way Kirishima had moved to confront the smoke villain Katsuki had a feeling he was going to need to remember his name.

Momo had barely registered the rocky terrain she had been deposited in when something knocked her off her feet. She landed hard, sliding across the dirt, and she was once again glad that Aizawa had requested a change in her costume. Momo hadn’t been comfortable with the original design either, but she wasn’t sure she would be able to ask for a change. Aizawa had taken all of the pressure off of her. If he hadn’t she would probably have been wearing that design instead of her gym uniform right now, and the hit would have had rock digging into her bare skin rather than the fabric of her uniform.


“Are you okay?”


Momo pushed herself up on her elbows to see Jirou crouching down beside her, her eyes focused on something across the terrain.


“I’m fine,” Momo said softly, wobbling as she stood up. She had landed on her arm wrong, but she felt fairly certain that it wasn’t broken. Jirou stood with her, not taking her eyes off the distance.


“That mist or smoke or whatever must have dropped us in one of the terrains,” Jirou said, “and we’ve got company.”


Momo looked where Jirou pointed. She was lucky that she hadn’t been more injured when the smoke cleared, because standing in the space between rocky ledges were four villains. How many villains had been snuck onto campus? Had the rest of their classmates been whisked away to an ambush?


One of the villains laughed, twisting a metal pipe into the ground. Momo didn’t want to find out whether that had anything to do with his quirk or not. Someone must have made a move against her the moment they landed, but the villains seemed content to wait them out now, watching and laughing as Momo tried to think. A rock wall lined the area around them, creating a clearing that effectively had them trapped. Retreat wasn’t going to be an option, which was why the villains were probably fine with letting them sit for a minute to enjoy their position.


“Any ideas?” She asked Jirou, her mind running through all the things she could make that might help them. If the other students had been taken too, then they needed to get free as soon as they could. There might be others more outnumbered than the two of them who needed their help.


“Can you make me a speaker?” Jirou asked.


“I…probably?” Momo shouldn’t have been thrown by that considering Jirou’s quirk, but the calm way that she asked felt at odds with the situation.


“And can you make something that explodes?”




“Then yeah. I think I might have an idea.”

The first time Izuku broke into Aizawa’s apartment after officially becoming his student the pro hero hadn’t been amused. Technically, Izuku didn’t have to break in. He could have waited for his mentor to return, but Aizawa hadn’t known that he was coming which made it a much more amusing chance to practice his lock picking. When Izuku stepped into the apartment the only ones who greeted him were Aizawa’s cats.


Izuku couldn’t remember if he had felt weird about being in Aizawa’s new apartment without his mentor, but if he had the feeling didn’t last long. Apparently, he had fallen asleep on Aizawa’s couch. Aizawa had come home to find Izuku covered in all four of his cats who collectively hissed when Aizawa tried to wake him. Izuku couldn’t remember that particular part of the event, of course, but the cats had always after that night so he assumed it had to be true. Soon after he had gotten his own copy of the key, with gruff instructions to use it rather than breaking in. Izuku had been able to sense the affection in the instructions though. His collection of keys had grown as Aizawa moved from apartment to apartment, but that first key would always be Izuku’s favorite.


He had never been sure of why, but that night had been the first night that Izuku had really felt as though his training with Aizawa was going to last. Aizawa had been impressed with him tracking him down, but Izuku had been worried about pressing his luck. He had constantly been on edge for the mistake that would have Aizawa backing out of their agreement. That night, though, Izuku had broken into Aizawa’s apartment again…and Aizawa hadn’t kicked him out. He had called his mother and told her Izuku would be spending the night. He had made him breakfast the next morning before sending him off to school. Izuku had still had a few doubts. That was just who he was. That night though, he finally let himself hope.


As Izuku fled the water area followed closely by Asui and Kaminari, he couldn’t get the image out of his head of Aizawa facing down that crowd all by himself. No matter what Kaminari had said or what Izuku knew Aizawa would want, Izuku still couldn’t stop blaming himself for leaving Aizawa to handle it on his own. It didn’t matter that the three of them had gotten a lucky break in dealing with their own villains. It didn’t matter that Izuku would have certainly have been overwhelmed by them if Aizawa had barely been able to hold his own. Izuku shouldn’t have left.


Adrenaline had pushed the panic from his mind for the moment, but Izuku could feel it creeping back.


“What do we do not?” Kaminari asked. They were far enough away from the water that Izuku couldn’t smell the chlorine anymore, but that didn’t make him feel any more comfortable about the situation. If those villains had been waiting for them there, there was no telling how many more were roaming around the facility on the off chance that some of the students escaped.


“We have to make it back to the entrance,” Izuku said, stopping in a split in the path. They couldn’t see the entrance anymore, and the ceiling and walls all looked the same. The worst thing they could do in that moment was go in the wrong direction. “We need to see if anyone has been able to go and get help yet. If All Might is really on his way, then we need backup.”


Asui rubbed her hands against her arms as she looked around nervously. The chance of more villains seemed to have occurred to her too. “They said they were here to kill All Might, but they can’t really do that. Right?”


“Of course not,” Izuku said, proud that his voice sounded more confident than he felt. “If they think they have a way though, then it would be better to have other pro heroes on site anyway.”


Asui looked relieved by the reassurance, and Izuku wished he could have felt the same. His friends didn’t know about All Might. They didn’t know that All Might had been trying to pass on his quirk before he got any worse. If those villains knew the truth somehow and were planning on using that to their advantage…No. There was no way that they could know that. Toshinori had been hiding his injury well. Izuku would never have guessed if he hadn’t seen what Toshinori truly looked like. Besides, he hadn’t found a replacement yet. He still had One for All. That had to push things in his favor.


“Let’s keep moving.” Kaminari still looked shaken by the villains, but he was doing a good job of pushing through it.

They walked for a few minutes in silence, jumping at every sound. In the distance, they could hear fighting. Their classmates, maybe, dealing with villains of their own, but they couldn’t see where the sounds were coming from. They crept closer to the entrance, and they could hear new sounds. Laughter and taunting. It made Izuku sick, but that was nothing compared to the sight that greeted them when the trio stepped out from around a corner and realized they were back at the entrance, only a few yards away from where villains surrounded Aizawa. Even as they watched, Aizawa beat them back. He seemed to be doing better than Izuku had expected considering how outnumbered he was.


Everything fell apart the moment the hands villain decided to take an active part in the fight. Later, Izuku would have to thank Kaminari a second time, because without his intervention Izuku would most certainly be dead. Izuku had been watching the fight carefully, ready to provide a distraction the moment it became clear that Aizawa was in over his head. Maybe if he could cause them enough problems he could last until the other teachers arrived. Assuming someone had been able to go for help. Assuming they had been able to find someone.


When the villain grabbed Aizawa’s elbow and Izuku watched the skin and muscle on his arm dissolve, he froze. Izuku knew there were quirks that worked like that. Violent quirks like that were well recorded, but Izuku had never seen one first hand. Kaminari’s quick hand over his mouth was the only thing that kept Izuku from screaming. Images flashed in his mind of Aizawa on the ground, dead, while Izuku watched.


“You can’t get involved, Izuku,” Kaminari said, struggling to hold Izuku back as he fought to reach his mentor. “Remember what Aizawa told you.”


Asui was watching the exchanged confused, and Izuku couldn’t blame her. As far as Asui knew he had no real relationship with Aizawa. Not one that would cause a reaction like that. “Kaminari’s right, Midoriya-chan. We can’t help. We don’t know how to deal with a villain like that. We would just get in his way.”


“Let me go!” Izuku said. He almost broke out of Kaminari’s grip when the villain reached for Aizawa’s face, fingers hovering over his eyes. Izuku had never seen Aizawa look like that, and he never wanted to see that expression on his face again. He didn’t care what he had to do, Izuku needed to put a stop to this. He needed to get Aizawa away before that man could touch him again. Aizawa needed a hospital. He needed to stop fighting before his injuries got any worse.


Of course, that was when the monster appeared.


“What the fuck is that?” Kaminari asked, his grip on Izuku slipping in his shock. Izuku couldn’t even take advantage of his lack of concentration to make a break for it.


That creature. There was something evil about it. Something that made his blood run even colder than the sight of Aizawa’s skin disintegrating right in front of his eyes. He couldn’t look away from the monster. He could barely breathe. Then the villain leaned, whispering something to Aizawa that Izuku couldn’t hear. Then, like lightning, the monster moved, gripping Aizawa’s head in its oversized hand and slamming it into the ground with an audible crack.

This time Izuku did scream, and Kaminari did nothing to hold him back. All three of them watched in growing horror as the monster lifted Aizawa’s head. Aizawa looked stunned. Blood ran down the side of his face, and when he coughed red splattered the ground. Izuku’s breath hitched. He couldn’t move. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t get his body to listen. He was rooted in place, and he could only keep watching as the monster repeated the motion, slamming Aizawa’s face into the ground again and again. When it finally ended, Izuku stuttered a breath as the monster released Aizawa’s head and left him in a crumpled mess at his feet.


“Well, what do we have here?”


All of them had been so fixed watching Aizawa, none of them had noticed that the villain leader had moved. He looked even creepier close up, the cracked skin of his lips pulled back into a smile hidden behind the severed hand covering his face. Before any of them could react, the villain lunged, hand outstretched towards Asui. Izuku sprang into action, but Kaminari was closer. He shoved Asui out of the way to safety just as the villain’s hand came into contact with the skin of Kaminari’s face.

Chapter Text

There’s a difference between watching someone you care about be injured while there’s nothing you can do about it and watching it happen when your failure is the only thing standing between them and safety. Watching Aizawa be attacked by the villain’s monster had felt like a jagged knife stabbed straight into his heart. The pain had been sudden and intense, and even though the monster had stopped slamming Aizawa’s face into the pavement it did nothing to stop the ache that Izuku felt knowing that he wouldn’t be able to reach out to help his fallen mentor.


That pain, as lasting as it was, hit differently from the pain Izuku felt watching the villain’s hand make slow contact with the skin of Kaminari’s cheek. There was nothing Izuku could have done to help Aizawa. He was too far away, the monster was too strong, and Izuku knew that Aizawa would have been furious if Izuku had risked his safety on the chance of rescuing him.


Kaminari stood right in front of him though, and the grotesque villain reaching for his friend wasn’t some kind of hulking creature. This villain was the normal, human kind of monster that Izuku should have been more than capable of dealing with, considering all of the weapons he currently had at his disposal. The villain’s quirk was inconsequential when his focus wasn’t on Izuku himself, and yet that didn’t stop Izuku from being a moment too slow. Before his own hand had even made contact with his belt, the villain’s fingers grazed Kaminari’s face and everything spiral further out of control.


Seeing the effects of the villain’s quirk from a distance had been bad enough, but it was nothing compared to seeing what it did up close. Kaminari was close enough to Izuku that he could have reached out and grabbed him, and Izuku would always regret that he hadn’t realized what Kaminari was going to do soon enough to stop him.


At first, Izuku thought that nothing was going to happen. That Aizawa had somehow found the strength to use his quirk and give Izuku the extra second he needed to get his friend out of harm’s way. Izuku could still see his mentor collapsed on the ground behind them, his face hidden by his arms. There would be no last moment reprieve. It was when this thought registered that Kaminari started screaming.


The knife in his chest twisted at the sound, and right before his eyes the skin under the villain’s fingers began to flake away. It disintegrated under the villain’s touch even as Kaminari fought the pain to shove himself away from the villain, but the grip on his face was too strong. Soon skin was giving way to muscle, and Izuku knew that if he didn’t do something the villain would just keep going. His hands finally found the latch on his belt, and he reached inside, a flick of his wrist sending a wonder ball flying at the villain’s hand. The ball struck the villain’s wrist, exploding in a mass of blue goo.

The impact couldn’t have hurt much, but the shock of it was enough that Izuku could use the distraction to yank Kaminari out of his grip. His friend collided with Asui, knocking them both into the ground with a thud. Kaminari cried out again, the impact jostling his injury. Izuku wanted to turn back, to check how badly Kaminari had been affected by the quirk, but he refused to take his eyes off the villain, moving to stand between him and his friends.


The villain looked at the goo on his hand, stunned, before closing his hand on it. Where ever his hand touched, the substance disappeared. All of it was gone in a matter of seconds, Izuku used that precious time to remove his eskrima rods, adjusting his grip so that he would be ready for however the villain reacted to his interference. He could hear Asui mumbling quietly to Kaminari, but he forced himself to tune them out. Izuku couldn’t risk being distracted right now.


Aizawa would kill him if they all made it out of this. He knew that with a certainty that left no room for doubt. This villain had arranged this set up, brought in some kind of monster, and beat Aizawa himself all for the purpose of killing All Might, and Izuku was about to stand against him on his own. It was probably the dumbest thing that Izuku had ever done, and yet he didn’t think that he had much of a choice. This was different from wanting to stay behind and help Aizawa against the mob of villains. They had been spotted, attacked, and if Izuku didn’t do whatever he could to buy them more time it was quite possible that this villain would succeed in killing them.


When the remnants of the wonder ball finally rotted away, the villain looked up at Izuku, a small smile spreading across his face.


“Unusual,” the villain said, his hands falling to his sides. Izuku didn’t drop his stance, watching as the villain looked him up and down. “You’re the quirkless one, aren’t you?”


Izuku’s grip tightened on the rods, but he didn’t respond. Internally, his brain was screaming. Why did this villain know who he was? They clearly hadn’t known everyone else’s quirks, or they would have been more strategic in where they dropped them in the building. If they had known, Izuku doubted they would have been so lax to drop both Asui and Kaminari in the water region.


“There’s a lot of talk about you, if you know where to listen,” the villain said with a shrug. “The quirkless hero trying to change the game. You’ve made a lot of people mad by refusing to play by their rules. It’s been…entertaining.”


Mind racing, Izuku still didn’t respond. The goo had been nice to get Kaminari out of the way, but he doubted that would work twice. He still had a couple flash balls and explosives, but that would be useless of he could get some distance between them. Would Kaminari be able to move? Izuku hadn’t been able to see how far the rot had spread under the villain’s hand, but from what little he had been able to see Kaminari had to be either in extreme pain or shock. Neither states would be helpful in trying to escape. If he could signal Asui to take Kaminari and run, then he might be able to distract the villain. He seemed like a talker. Maybe Izuku could distract him and find out more about his plan at the same time.


“Oi,” the villain said, “Listen to me!”




“I’m sorry,” Izuku apologized, putting as much sincerity into the words as he could while when he could still hear Kaminari groaning behind him. “I was just realizing that I didn’t know your name.”


The villain hummed. “Shigaraki,” he said, the word coming out sharply.


“Shigaraki,” Izuku repeated. “I have to say that I’m impressed, Shigaraki-san.”


“Oh, Midoriya Izuku?” The villain asked, tilting his head to the side, examining Izuku.


“Yes,” Izuku agreed, swallowing passed the rush of anxiety that the villain did, in fact, know his name. Footsteps shuffled behind him, but Izuku kept his eyes firmly locked on Shigaraki. “No one has managed to break through Yuuei’s security before, and you didn’t’ just break in. You brought an army with you.”


“An army,” Shigaraki laughed. “Those idiots are just the prologue.”


“Clearly,” Izuku said. “That thing is the real ace up your sleeve. What is it? That doesn’t look like normal quirk mutations.”


“You know a lot about that?”


It was Izuku’s turn to shrug. “I did a lot of research before settled on my current path. Pinky joints and all that. I hadn’t accepted that I didn’t have a quirk yet.” There couldn’t be any harm in telling him that. If he really knew about Izuku already, then he probably assumed this hadn’t been his first choice. People with quirks never did.


“An experiment,” Shigaraki said. “I can’t take credit for it, but it follows my orders well enough to do its job.”


“Its job?” Izuku asked. The rush of adrenaline he felt wasn’t enough to keep the tremor out of his voice.


“To kill All Might,” Shigaraki said. “Although the sight of all of his precious students injured will probably do half the work for me. He’s always been so sentimental. So don’t think this little distraction ploy of yours is going to work. I don’t care if those two behind you escape or not. They won’t get far. This building is locked down until All Might gets here, and by then it will be too late.”


“I guess there’s no point in putting it off any longer,” Izuku said, taking a calming breath before swinging the rod straight at Shigaraki’s head.

Aizawa had lost many fights on his journey to becoming a pro hero, but there were none that had resulted in the level of pain he currently found himself drowning in. Only part of that pain was physical, of course, stemming from the mess that remained of his elbow and the repeated beating his head had just received. If he hadn’t been in shock, Aizawa doubted the ache would feel as dulled, but that all came secondary to what he was seeing in front of him.


The monster breathed heavily beside him, but it had released his head so Aizawa thought he might be in the clear for the moment. His vision swam as he lifted his head from the ground, and for a moment he was startled to see the world remained blurry in front of him. It shouldn’t have been that surprising, in all honesty. He had been pushing his quirk to the limit before that monster had gotten the better of him, and hits to the head couldn’t have helped mattered. If he had to fight though-and he doubted he would get the choice in that-then he would be at even more of a disadvantage if he couldn’t see clearly. His quirk wouldn’t work if he couldn’t clearly see the target.


Of course, that was when he recognized the figure standing only a few yards away. Aizawa would recognize that mop of green hair anywhere. Oh, Aizawa was going to kill him if they made it out of here alive. Squinting as he lifted his head, Aizawa could just made out Kaminari and Asui behind Izuku, both of them kneeling on the ground as Izuku acted like a shield between them and the villain. Did Izuku know what that villain could do? Had he touched any of them already?


Aizawa couldn’t make it out enough to tell, but he knew he had to get over there, had to stop his idiot pupil from getting himself killed. His body refused to get with the program though. When Aizawa tried to push himself up further, his arms collapsed under him and wouldn’t move no matter how much he tried to get to his feet.


He was stuck laying on the ground next to a monster while his-while Izuku faced off with the villain who had left him there. And there was nothing he could do about it.

Shigaraki was ready for Izuku to attack. He reached to grab the eskrima rod mid swing, but Izuku had expected that. The man wasn’t like the other villains Aizawa had been fighting. He would be able to anticipate what Izuku was going to do. Which is why Izuku released his grip on the rod, letting Shigaraki’s hand pass harmless over his.


Izuku had practiced the movement with Aizawa, but he had never had to put the action into real practice. He fumbled with the catch and almost knocked it away before he managed to get a grip on it again. Shigaraki had recovered from the miss by then though, and Izuku had to back away from his outstretched hand. He stepped to the side, away from where Asui stood shouldering the bulk of Kaminari’s weight. Izuku could see the panic on her face, but he didn’t have time to do more than wave them away before Shigaraki closed the distance between them. Asui would know to get Kaminari away from the fighting.


With a quick flick of his wrist Izuku batted Shigaraki’s hand away from his face, pulling his arm back just as quickly so that Shigaraki couldn’t catch him with his other hand. Shigaraki was still grinning. And why shouldn’t he? Yes, Aizawa had been outnumbered, but if he hadn’t been a problem for Shigaraki, then why would Izuku be any different?


Shigaraki was playing with him. He knew just as well as Izuku how this fight would end if Shigaraki actually tried to kill him. Instead he dodged Izuku’s swipes with ease, dancing away from him with a confidence that let Izuku know what Shigaraki thought of his attempts. His own attacks were just fast enough that Izuku struggled to keep ahead of him.


“Midoriya Izuku,” Shigaraki said as Izuku almost tripped over his own feet as he ducked from Shigaraki’s swing. “I am impressed, but I’m afraid that we have to put this little match to an end. All Might should be here any minute, and I can’t waste time on you any longer. Thanks for the entertainment. It was fun while it lasted.”

Izuku tried to bat Shigaraki’s hand away from him again, but this time Shigaraki was ready. He twisted his wrist under the rod one hand grabbing hold of each rod. Izuku tried to yank them out of Shigaraki’s hand, but his grip was ironclad. He grinned at Izuku, his eyes looking from Izuku’s face to the rods in his hand. Izuku’s eyes tracked the movement, looking down to see the metal of his eskrima rods flaking away. Izuku’s eyes widened in panic, and he let go of the rods, scrambling back and landing hard on the ground.


“Now, now, Midoriya Izuku,” Shigaraki purred, letting go of the eskrima rods a moment before they exploded.

Izuku closed his eyes as the electricity flashed and Shigaraki screamed. The sound would have been reassuring if Izuku hadn’t been holding back his own scream of pain. He had dropped to the ground, but he hadn’t thought to cover his face. Izuku had never stuck his face near a fire, but he imagined it must be similar to what he was feeling only this was about a hundred times worse.


“What the hell was that?” Shigaraki croaked, and Izuku opened his eyes to see the villain holding his hand tucked into his chest, blood covering the sleeves of his jacket in dark swatches of red.


Izuku fought the urge to touch his own face to assess the damage. Electrical burns were nasty things. That’s why there was supposed to be a failsafe in the rods incase the metal was compromised, and Mei’s mother had done everything she could to ensure that the metal would hold under almost anything. None of them had prepared for the possibility of someone’s quirk eating straight through those fail safes though. He would have to talk about work arounds for that at some point, because Izuku never wanted to experience this mistake again.


The skin on his face still felt on fire, the smell of burnt flesh almost making him gag. He hoped it was from Shigaraki, but he doubted he would be that lucky. In hindsight, this was all Izuku’s fault. He had wanted a bonding experience with Kaminari. Now they might even have matching scars to show for it. It was that thought that pushed Izuku over the edge, and once he started laughing he couldn’t seem to make himself stop. This whole situation was ridiculous. Yuuei was supposed to be the safest school in the country. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen. Izuku almost expected Nedzu to jump out from somewhere crying, “Logical ruse!”


This was definitely the shock, but knowing that didn’t help Izuku get his laughter under control.

“Izuku!” Kaminari’s voice called, and Izuku almost groaned. If Shigaraki hadn’t still been standing there cradling his injured arm, Izuku would have turned to yell at his friends for not leaving when they could. He couldn’t really blame them though. Izuku would have done the same thing.


Shigaraki seemed to have gotten over the surprise of the explosion, because his eyes had focused back on Izuku. Izuku had to hope that his laugh didn’t sound quite unhinged as Shigaraki’s.

“I don’t have time for this,” Shigaraki said, voice sounding strained as he stalked towards him. Izuku pushed himself to his feet, wavering for a second before coming fully upright. Eskrima rods out of commission, Izuku would have to come up with another trick if Shigaraki was still set on fighting him. Then his eyes landed on Shigaraki’s hands, bloodied and broken from the explosion. It wasn’t as bad as it would have been if Shigaraki had still had the rods in his hands, but they were still close enough that he had taken some damage. Could he even use his quirk right now? If his power was in his hands and his hands were injured…


Izuku wouldn’t count Shigaraki out yet, but maybe the fight had just gotten a little more even.

“You will not ruin this for me,” Shigaraki said, and inclined his head. “Making this messy will work better for me anyway.”

In the heat of the moment, Izuku had managed to forget about the monster that Shigaraki had brought with him. The hulking figure lumbered across the open field towards them, and although it wouldn’t end well for him Izuku couldn’t help but be glad that it was moving away from Aizawa. His mentor hadn’t moved from his spot on the ground, but Izuku had to hold out hope that he would be okay.

“You should be proud, Midoriya Izuku,” Shigaraki said. “Your death will be one more blow against All Might’s legacy.”

Izuku would never be more grateful that his moment for a witty one liner was interrupted by the sound of another explosion, this time marking the entrance of the man of the hour.

“Have no fear,” All Might said, and Izuku could have collapsed with relief at the sound of the hero’s voice. “For I am here.”

Chapter Text

Toshinori was late. He knew with absolute certainty that he was late, that he was making himself later by the second, and yet there was nothing that he could do about it. What was he supposed to do? Just walk passed people who needed help? Sure, there had been other heroes on duty in the area, but it wasn’t in his nature to leave anyone who needed help unassisted. What if he had continued on his way and the situation had spiraled out of control? Of course, all of the incidents he had stopped to help had ended up being fairly cut and dry, but there was no way that he could have known that in the moment. Aizawa would understand. Or at least Toshinori hoped that he would. He would have to deal with that particular fire at a later date though. Maybe Midoriya would do something that would take the attention off of him for the moment during the exercise.


Was it a little childish for Toshinori to be hoping that the actions of a child would keep him out of trouble with his coworker? Absolutely. Toshinori readily admitted that to himself. Knowing Aizawa’s young pupil though, the chance of him pulling off some stunning feat that Aizawa would inevitably lecture him about was almost a given. Not that Toshinori wanted young Midoriya to get in trouble, but Aizawa would be much more lenient with his student than he would be with Toshinori. While Aizawa had been a little less cold towards him since the confrontation with Nedzu, there was obviously still some resentment lingering from the way Toshinori had tried to take Midoriya for his own student.


Enough time had passed that Toshinori could acknowledge his mistakes in that regard. If he hadn’t realized them on his own, then Inko certainly would have been more than happy to point them out for him. Having met Midoriya’s mother, Toshinori could appreciate the landmine Aizawa had inadvertently saved Toshinori from stepping on by preventing him from training the boy without his mother’s knowledge and explicit permission. He would really prefer “Symbol of Peace Murdered by Righteous Mother’s Fury” to remain a headline in his nightmares only. That being said, Toshinori couldn’t help but regret the opportunity that had been missed. What would have happened if he had been the one to discover Midoriya’s potential and not Aizawa? Toshinori couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities, useless as the endeavor was.


He had to accept that Midoriya would not be his successor after all. The boy had hinted that it was time for him to move on and continue his search enough times that it would be ridiculous if Toshinori put it off any longer. It wasn’t as though Toshinori hadn’t been considering other students before Nedzu dropped that tape of Midoriya into his lap. Now, looking back, Toshinori couldn’t help but wonder if Nedzu hadn’t been trying to start something between him and Aizawa by that action. Aizawa would have been training Midoriya for a while by that point. Nedzu would have known that Toshinori would have been impressed by the boy, and that Aizawa would not appreciate the intrusion. What Nedzu had to gain from interfering, Toshinori couldn’t imagine, but then he had never been very good at seeing Nedzu’s schemes until it was too late.


Which left Toshinori to consider his options. Originally, he had been considering several third years as possible successors. They had proven themselves over and over again with their own quirks, and it might be easier for them to adjust to the new ability granted to them by One for All if they already had mastery of their own quirk. The problem with this, Toshinori was coming to realize, was that they had already sort of made a name for themselves. People recognized them. Students at Yuuei looked up to them. If any of the Big Three, as they were coming to be called, suddenly gain a new ability or had their quirk change in a significant way there would be questions. Quirks didn’t just do that. They didn’t suddenly change or become more powerful overnight, and it wasn’t the kind of thing they would be able to hide. While it wasn’t like someone would immediately guess that they had been given a new quirk or that All Might was in any way involved, there would be questions the students wouldn’t be able to answer and attention on them that would make it difficult for them to properly train without eventually getting caught.


So no, unfortunately, Toshinori couldn’t choose one of the third years he had been looking at, and that left him in a bit of a situation. He needed to pick someone who could realistically be discovering new aspects of their quirk, and that meant a first year. Unfortunately, the only first year that Toshinori new reasonably well was Midoriya. The only student in the hero course that he couldn’t pick.


Toshinori had thought about asking Aizawa for advice, but had ultimately decided against it. Choosing a successor was his responsibility. He couldn’t push it off on Aizawa because it was difficult. He had hoped that teaching would give him a better insight into who to choose, but there had been so much to keep up with that he hadn’t had as much time to devote to truly looking for someone who could take his place. Teaching was hard, and Toshinori had been unprepared. He had hoped that USJ would give him some hints at who to look at more closely. He wouldn’t be able to put off his decision for much longer. If he ever got to Yuuei. He was so very, very late.


When he finally managed to reach the campus without being waylaid by some poor person caught in an unfortunate situation Toshinori bypassed the main office and headed straight to where he knew the students would be waiting for him. Had they already started? Toshinori knew he was late, but he didn’t know exactly by how much. He didn’t tend to wear a watch, and he hadn’t been paying attention to the clocks as he passed, too focused on getting to campus as fast as he could. If they hadn’t started, then that meant that he wasn’t as late as he felt he was. Maybe Aizawa wouldn’t kill him after all.


It was years of hero work that made Toshinori realize that something was terribly, horribly wrong before he even reached the facility. No alarms blared on the campus. No one was running around in a panic, but there was still an undercurrent of tension that Toshinori could feel. It wasn’t as though this side of campus was usually bustling with activity. Students only came there when they had a purpose, and that purpose led them into the buildings not spread out across the grounds. It shouldn’t have felt odd that Toshinori didn’t see anyone once he got through the main buildings…and yet. Toshinori couldn’t put his finger on what exactly was wrong, but he couldn’t shake the feeling. After so many years, Toshinori knew when to trust his instincts, and as the USJ came into view, his instincts were screaming at him. Toshinori trusted his instincts. He didn’t use the door. If this was an overreaction, then he could afford to pay Nedzu to fix the wall.


Unfortunately, it was not an overreaction.


Despite his experience and his training, when the dust finally settled all Toshinori could do was stare in horror at the sight before him. He had burst into the building near the front doors, and from that vantage point he could see an array of things that were very, very wrong indeed. He seemed to have missed much of what had happened, but his experience filled in the blanks for the events he hadn’t witness. Several of the students huddled in the entrance to the building, guarded by a villain that looked like purple smoke. Thirteen was there, but they seemed to be frozen for some reason, crouching down on the ground where Toshinori could see some students lying, although he could tell who they were. It only took a second for his eyes to travel and see that the horror didn’t end there. Aizawa was on the ground not far away. Villains surrounded him, and although none of them were touching him any longer, the ground around him had been displaced by something. Aizawa wasn’t moving either, and Toshinori forced himself not to consider the possibilities of why.


Not far away from Aizawa stood Midoriya, facing off against a villain that Toshinori didn’t recognize. That shouldn’t have felt like the biggest shock of it all, but in the half second that Toshinori allowed himself to process the scene in front of him it was the thing his brain decided to keep on repeat. Maybe so that he didn’t have to consider the fallout of what had happened. The damage that he would have been able to prevent if he hadn’t been late. Because if all of this were actually happening, then it should have at least come from an enemy that Toshinori was aware he had.


Midoriya’s face and next were a mess of blood and what looked like burns, and there were the scattered remains of smoldering metal on the ground around him. Behind Midoriya, Asui stood supporting Kaminari whose face also seemed a mess, although Toshinori couldn’t make out what the cause might have been from a distance. For the villain’s part, blood covered his shirt and his arms, dripping down onto the floor. As disgusted by the entire scene as he was, Toshinori could at least appreciate the fact that Midoriya apparently gave the villain a hard time while waiting for him to arrive. Toshinori would make sure that the effort the young boy had put in wouldn’t be in vain.


What happened next though, Toshinori could not have anticipated. For all that the villain had been confronting Midoriya when he arrived, Toshinori expected him to turn his attention, focus on taking down All Might. The villain hesitated, considering doing just that it seemed, but Toshinori could see the rage twisting his expression from a distance. Whatever Midoriya had done, it had angered the villain enough that he was turning away from All Might. If he was planning on taking Midoriya down before attacking All Might, he had just made a grievous mistake. At least that was what Toshinori thought before the monster stepped into view, blocking the path between himself and when Midoriya was looking on with an expression of dawning horror that mirrored his own.


The monster didn’t make a move towards him as Toshinori jumped down to the ground level of the facility, but from the way the villain facing Midoriya had turned away from him so completely Toshinori knew that he couldn’t underestimate the situation that he had just walked into. If this villain had put so much effort into planning-and he must have by the sheer number of villains involved-then he would have known All Might was going to be there. Anyone with any sense should know that All Might himself shouldn’t be underestimated either. Which meant that this villain either trusted that this monster to be able to fight him on even footing or at least expected him to be able to hold him off long enough for him to deal with Midoriya. Neither situation boded well for the young student.


A hulking monster like that might trade out speed for power though, Toshinori thought he might be able to slip around it and get to Midoriya first. As though the monster could sense what Toshinori was going to do, the monster moved before he had even had a chance to take his first step. It slammed into him, knocking him back, and it was only Toshinori’s own reaction time that saved him from getting the monster’s fist square in his face.


Had Toshinori been anyone else he wouldn’t have been able to block the hit as affectively as he had, and the image of Aizawa on the ground in a circle of displaced dirt and concrete suddenly made a terrifying amount of sense. With one punch the purpose of this attack became quite clear to Toshinori, and the rage that had been burning under the surface since he realized what was going on sparked into a blaze that would not be easily exstinguished.

The villain was still approaching Midoriya though, his head outstretched towards the boy’s face for some reason. Toshinori could just see them over the monster’s shoulder, Asui and Kaminari still huddled behind him, looking lost at what they could possibly do to stop the tragedy that was unfolding right in front of them. While his mind raced to find a solution, the monster continued to beat against him. His crossed arms held the hits at bay, but that wouldn’t last forever. Toshinori would need to fight back, and when he did he wouldn’t be able to stop the villain from hurting Midoriya. Whatever his quirk was, it must be related to touch since he still had his had reaching towards the boy. Toshinori hoped it wasn’t why Kaminari’s face looked like such a wreck, but the odds were not appearing to work in his favor today.

Toshinori pushed back against the monster, still focused on getting to Midoriya, but his own hit didn’t seem to do much against the behemoth. Had this thing been designed for him specifically? No one should have been able to take a direct hit like that and look so unfazed. In fact, the monster didn’t seem to show any expression at all. Toshinori’s fist collided with the creature’s beak, it’s head twisting on its neck at the impact, but the creature didn’t react other than slowly turning its head to focus on Toshinori again. He could see the villain saying something to Midoriya now, but he couldn’t make out the words through the sound of the monster’s heavy breathing.


It took everything he had to force his attention away from Midoriya. The creature in front of him was nothing to scoff at, and if he wasn’t careful then it might just get the better of him. Midoriya was in trouble, but there was nothing that Toshinori could do about it until he solved the problem at hand. The faster he got through this fight, the sooner he would be able to help Midoriya. He only hoped that he would be able to get there in time.

Kaminari had never stuck his face directly into a fire before, but if he were pressed to describe what he thought it might feel like all he would be able to saw was it was probably not as awful as what he was feeling the moment Shigaraki touched his face. It was pure agony the likes of which Kaminari had never felt before, and he hoped that he would never feel that level of pain for the rest of his pro hero career. It was hard to put into words what it felt like to feel your skin and muscles melt off of your bones, but he would gladly take that pain again if it meant that Asui was safe.

He was pretty sure that she didn’t feel the same way considering the way she was cursing him under her breath as he held him up. She was stronger than Kaminari had thought, and he certainly wouldn’t have imagined some of those words coming out of her mouth, but he probably deserved them for putting her through this. His grandmother was probably going to tell him things along those same lines as soon as she heard about the incident. If she didn’t already realize something was happening that is. His grandmother might not have a quirk, but she did always have a sense for when he had gotten himself into some new level of bullshit considering it happened so often.

Not as much bullshit as Izuku it seemed, as Kaminari watched his gadgets explode leaving his friend covered in almost as much blood as he was himself. Kaminari lunged forward, trying to get to Izuku, but Asui held him back.

“Dummy,” she said, pulling on his arm but making sure that she didn’t brush his face. The pain had either started to die down, or Kaminari wasn’t noticing it anymore. Neither option seemed like it would be a good thing in the long term, but he ignored that concern for now. Izuku was in trouble, and they couldn’t let him continue facing that villain on his own. Not when he had already done so much damage. “If you jump in this fight now, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

“If we don’t jump in this fight,” Kaminari argued, “then Izuku is going to get himself killed. He’s made that villain mad now, and I don’t think he’s going to be that willing to play along much longer.”

Asui couldn’t argue with that point, but she kept a firm grip on his arm anyway. Kaminari was about to see if he could wrench himself free when another explosion rang through the facility, bits of sheetrock and concrete raining down on them. All Might had finally arrived! Unfortunately, the relief that came at the sight of the number one hero didn’t last as long as it should have. All Might had clearly taken in what had happened quickly, and had set his sights on Shigaraki. The moment he landed on ground level though, the monster approached him. The fight…it was like nothing Kaminari had ever seen before. They were trading blows so quickly that Kaminari could barely track them with his eyes, and all the while it seemed as though All Might’