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Potential Energy

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A week has passed since the USJ attack, and even with all the grave concerns that should be relevant following such an event, some people still apparently find time to spout complete and utter vapid gossip.

Monoma slows down and grits his teeth as he overhears yet another teacher commenting on the "uniqueness" and "truly unparalleled potential" of the students of Class A.

He can’t waste time, he’ll only get one shot at this entrance exam. Monoma turns to the redheaded girl he’d managed to politely smalltalk by the gate, and says, “Maybe you could lend me a hand? Just for a moment.” 

She looks from his outstretched hand to his face, with a small smile passing over her own expression. Monoma supposes she’s enjoying some internal joke based on his words. 

Although she grasps his hand, she’s already distracted trying to take in the unfolding scenario of the cityscape and robot enemies around them. “Fine, tell me about whatever plan you have in mi—w-woah!” 

As soon as their fingers meet, Monoma senses the newly copied quirk and tests it out in his unoccupied hand. Now he knows what she was smiling about. He smirks then as he activates it on both sides, startling his temporary ally.

She’s a sharp one, though, and processes the cause and effect quickly. Her shock turns to interest as she continues running toward the fray, Monoma keeping pace at her side.

“Nice quirk!” Monoma comments as the redhead manifests her oversized hands as well. “Simple but versatile, isn’t it?” Monoma grimaces for a second, though, rolling his oddly aching wrist. “Could do without the pain in the forearm and up, though.”

She glances at him in acknowledgement, then directs her gaze toward a clump of simulated enemies ahead. “The quirk only allows for the expansion of the biological material in that area, but I’ve had to train up the resistance of the surrounding tissues to fatigue and other drawbacks over time.” She flexes her fingers as she prepares an initial offense for the approaching enemy. “Might not be as helpful as you thought.” 

Monoma huffs a laugh. “Still, it’s—”

Suddenly, one of the farther robots explodes sideways due to another kid’s attack, and the wreckage careens into a nearby building—causing the large sign above the entryway to wobble—and then fall—directly towards Monoma.

“Shit—!”

Monoma tries to react, but he’s still just a tad too clumsy with the unwieldy hands, swinging them too wide when he tries to raise them into a defensive brace. 

The impact never hits him, though. Monoma barely catches how she does it, but the redhead somehow flings herself off of the robot before them, latches onto the sign, then twists in a manipulation of momentum that causes the sign to skid harmlessly to the side of him. 

She stands back up among the debris, and Monoma’s eyes widen. The people around him are so strong—they have so much within, and so much to grow into. He can barely hold down the excitement and longing to stand among them, share in their strength, and have the world see them as he sees this ally right now. He can’t wait to be a hero with these students. 

Monoma passes the exam. He trains alongside his peers in Class B, and though he starts by getting acquainted with only the transmittable quirks among them, he soon comes to learn about all the amazing talents of his classmates. He can see the future unfolding before them, the potential they’ve all worked to achieve by dedicating the entirety of their young lifetimes to honing their skills. 

To truly understand the arsenal he has available, Monoma also becomes familiar with the sacrifices each of his classmates lives with as well. More than anything, his quirk requires skills of observation; it’s only a matter of time until Monoma learns that physical backlash isn’t the only drawback of a quirk.

It’s the ridicule that irks him most of all. He can tell Tsuburaba is bothered by outsiders saying his air-hardening quirk is “undignified.” And how dare others call Honenuki or Testsutestu’s appearance “unsavory” just when activating their powers. 

It frustrates him to no end: how can others only see these students for their perceived shortcomings, when in the end, they’re Monoma’s only strength?

Monoma knows he shouldn’t say anything—this is a teacher speaking, after all, but. But.

“‘Unparalleled’, you called them? Those Class A brats?”

The teacher glances away from the other staff member they’d been chatting up, surprised.

Monoma offers what should be a practiced smile, but knows the edges of it probably strain with roiling fury. “We’ll see about that.”