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Don't You Love the Color of the Sky?

Chapter Text

Inhale. Exhale. Izuku opened his eyes.

He was sitting on the railing on the top of the school roof, his legs dangling in the air. Kacchan’s words echoed in his ears. If you think you’ll have a Quirk in your next life…go take a swan dive off the roof, he had said. Izuku was starting to think that wasn’t such a bad idea. No Quirk, no dad, no friends. The only thing he was leaving behind was his mother, and while it pained him to think about how distraught she’d be, he thought it would be better this way. At least then, she wouldn’t have such a disappointment for a son.

He’d written his notes, each of them crammed into Izuku’s jacket’s pocket. Once he was dead, they’d find them and hopefully give them to each of the people he had addressed them to. There were only three: One for Mom, one for his dad, and one for Kacchan. His writing wasn’t the best, considering how his hands shook as he wrote them, but he didn’t think he could revise them.

Izuku slipped off his red tennis shoes, his favorite pair. He tucked his socks into them and dropped the shoes behind him on the roof. Strangely enough, at the moments before his end, Izuku felt remarkably at ease. He hummed a song under his breath, nothing of significance, just a tune he found catchy. Was that a metaphor for his life now? A short melody with no meaning? Izuku didn't want to think about it. He supposed it was time for him to take his last bow anyway.

He stood, taking one last look at the sky. The sun shone as brightly as ever, as brightly as it will for years after he was gone. Puffy white clouds dotted the endless blue, floating along lazily in the gentle breeze. Perfect day to end on.

Izuku extended his leg, and stepped off. Just before he did, he thought he heard someone call his name.

~~~

Ochako didn’t think. She dropped her smoothie, racing forward. She raised her hand, and with a well-timed slap that reverberated through the street, Ochako stopped the boy from meeting the pavement two feet below him.

“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice having gone up several octaves. The boy looked wide-eyed at her. Now that she was up close, Ochako took a good look at him. He was her age, wild green hair growing from his head like grass. His face was dotted with several freckles.

“Thanks,” he said. “Uh, you can put me down now.”

“Release!” With that, Ochako unactivated her Quirk, dropping the boy unceremoniously on the concrete.

“Wow, that was so cool! Your Quirk must allow you to lift some heavy stuff. How many things can you lift? How much do they have to weigh? You slapped me, so I’m guessing you have to touch things first to make them float-”

“Uh, wow, you sure do talk a lot,” Ochako said. She stretched out her hand. “My name’s Ochako Uraraka. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Oh.” He hesitated for a couple of seconds before taking her hand. “Izuku Midoriya.”

“You’re lucky I saved you.” Ochako shuddered to think about what could have happened if she hadn’t been fast enough. “What were you even doing up there?”

Midoriya dropped his gaze to the ground. “N-nothing.”

Ochako frowned before noticing a piece of folded up paper beside her shoe. “What’s this?” She picked it up and unfolded it. “Dear Kacchan,” she read aloud.

“Wait, no, stop!” Midoriya tried to snatch it back. “That’s private!”

Ochako’s eyes widened as she read a couple lines more. She stopped before going any further, turning back to Midoriya with disbelieving brown eyes as she reluctantly handed the letter back to him. “You were going to kill yourself,” she said, and it wasn’t a question.

Suddenly, something shook the ground behind them. A blonde boy stood up, ignoring the cracks he had made on the sidewalk in his landing, stalking swiftly over to Midoriya. He grabbed the other boy by the face, turning it side to side and quickly looking Midoriya up and down, as if checking for injuries. “Fucking idiot,” he growled. “I know I fucked up, but I didn’t expect you to actually try and kill yourself.”

“Kacchan!” Midoriya pulled away. “You saw?”

‘Kacchan’ scoffed, folding his arms. “I was trying to find you when I saw you running towards the roof. I was a second too late to stop you from-” he cut himself off, squeezing his vermillion eyes shut, like he was trying to hold back angry tears. “Damn it, Deku, I thought I killed you!” He rounded on Ochako. “Thanks for saving this loser, I guess.”

He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Shit, I fucked up so bad.”

Midoriya turned to Ochako. “Thanks again for saving me. You should probably go home now.”

“Wait!” Ochako dug around in her backpack and pulled out a marker. “Can I have your arm?” She quickly scrawled her number on it in black Sharpie. “You seem like you could really use a friend. If you ever wanna talk, don’t hesitate.” She gave him her best ‘Hero Smile’. “Take care of yourself, ‘cause someone really cares about you.” She turned around and walked away, leaving Midoriya and Bakugou to stand there staring after her.

“Who the hell was that?”

“…A friend.”

Chapter Text

Things were…better? Bakugou didn’t bully Izuku anymore. In fact, he seemed to have withdrawn from the world almost entirely. He avoided his ‘followers’, preferring to be alone, and he refused to talk in class unless he was asked something directly by the teacher.

Izuku hadn’t talked to Uraraka yet, his finger always hovering over the final button before he eventually chickened out. She had probably forgotten him by now anyway. He didn’t want to bother her.

Izuku’s mother had signed him up for weekly therapy sessions, despite him never telling her what had happened on the roof a month ago. She seemed to have sensed something wrong and acted on her Mom-sense. Izuku’s therapist was a kind, sixty-something year-old man with large glasses. He had listened to Izuku’s ramblings on wanting to be a Hero despite his obvious lack of a Quirk. He didn’t say anything, but Izuku knew that he pitied him, just like everyone else in his life. He didn’t even care that much, it just felt good to talk about it.

He was actually on his way to another appointment when he heard something behind him. It sounded like liquid being dragged across concrete, as weird as that was to think about. A gurgly voice spoke, making the hair on the back of Izuku’s neck stand up.

“Hmm, yes, this body is weak, but it will do.” Izuku turned around and tried to scream, but suddenly, he couldn’t breathe. A sort of sludge that tasted and smelled like sewage was actively trying to force itself down Izuku’s throat, cutting off his oxygen. A sound like water roared in his ears and he had never been more scared in his life as he clawed desperately at what was attacking him. But how could he fight something that wasn’t solid?

“I’m just hijacking your body. Hold still, it’ll be over soon,” the voice rasped. Black spots were dancing in front of Izuku’s eyes. So this is how it would end. This is a less than dignified exit, he thought. Would anyone even notice that he was dead if the Sludge Villain was planning to use him as a puppet? He just hoped his mother and Kacchan would be alright. Izuku succumbed to the darkness at the edge of his vision, letting it envelop him.

~~~

Katsuki knew that he was a dick of massive proportions. All he could see every time he closed his eyes was Deku falling, falling, falling out of his reach. He had been too late. If Round Face hadn’t been passing by, he would have lost the only real friend he’d ever had. And it was all Katsuki’s fault.

He’d been going to a shrink as of late. She was in her thirties, with wide green eyes and long black hair. She didn’t even bat an eye at his colorful vocabulary, letting him express himself to his content. She also owned a guinea pig named Bigs. She’d let Katsuki pet Bigs, which he appreciated. It felt good to do something with his hands that wasn’t exploding stuff.

The shrink had encouraged him to apologize to Deku, and though Katsuki wanted nothing more than to do just that, he knew it had to be perfect, even if he couldn’t make up for all he had done. She had suggested a letter, but the words just wouldn’t come. He always ended up throwing it away, if not disintegrating it in his palms. God, he had cried more in this month than he had in the last five years.

“How have things been, Katsuki?” the shrink asked.

He shrugged, ruffling the top of Bigs’ head, the guinea pig squeaking contentedly. He was mindful not to scorch the little fella, not completely sure how Bigs’ owner trusted him with her beloved pet, despite being entirely aware of what he was capable of. “Things are shit, but when are they not?” He chuckled humorlessly. “I haven’t talked to Deku yet. It pisses me off! Why I can’t I fucking write what I want to say?”

“What do you want to say?”

Another shrug. “Just that I’m sorry, I guess. And that he doesn’t have to forgive me, hell, I wouldn’t. He deserved better than the shit I gave him. But I don’t wanna seem like I’m begging!”

“Sometimes, we have to let ourselves be vulnerable to overcome our challenges,” the shrink said. “I think your friend deserves to hear all of this and decide for himself what he thinks of you. But the fact that you’re willing to change for the better speaks for volumes. Keep this up, and you’ll be a great Hero before you know it.

“In other news, how’s your home life? Fighting with your mom and dad?”

Katsuki clenched his teeth, trying to ground himself with the long silky fur beneath his fingers. “Just fucking peachy. The hag still seems convinced this is another part of my ‘rebellious phase’. Like I haven’t been telling her that I was a boy since I could fucking talk. Right now, I’m hoping I can get into one of U.A’s support programs once I get in.”

“You’ve been using your binder properly?”

“…”

She raised an eyebrow. “I’ll take that as a no. How many times do I have to remind you that that’s not good for your lungs? You can’t wear it 24/7. Take it off when you get home.”

“But-”

“Katsuki.”

“…Fine.”

Chapter Text

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”

Izuku vaguely registered that someone was slapping his cheek quickly, yet gently. He fought with his heavy eyelids and looked up.

“Apologies, kid. I usually don’t make mistakes like that. Are you okay?”

“Wha?!” Izuku screeched, scooting back.

“Excellent!” The tall, muscular man exclaimed, a wide smile adorning his features. “I really owe you one, for my success was all thanks to you!” He held up a soda bottle filled with dirty sludge. “I’ve contained the villain!”

All Might, he’s really here? Izuku’s head was spinning. He might just pass out again. The Number One Hero, the Symbol of Peace, Izuku’s idol ever since he was three, in the flesh!

“I really must be going! Gotta get this criminal to the police station!” All Might said.

“W-Wait, can I get an a-autograph? Where’s my-” Izuku picked up his notebook and opened it. “Ah!” All Might had already written his name in a giant scrawl that took up two pages.

“Th-thank you so much! I’ll treasure this forever!”

“Goodbye, young man! A Pro Hero battles not only villains, but also time!”

“Hold on, All MiGHT!” As a final attempt, Izuku grasped onto All Might’s leg, but he too was launched into the air with the Hero. He clung tighter for dear life.

“Hey now! I appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is a bit much, don’t you think?! Release me!”

“If I let go now, I’ll die!” Izuku shouted over the wind.

The Hero mulled over the excellent point he’d brought up. “Fair enough! Hold on just a little bit longer!” He landed on a nearby roof. Izuku shakily let go of his leg, catching his breath.

“Bang on the door until someone lets you in. I’ve got to go,” All Might said, preparing to take off once again.

“Please, if someone was born without a Quirk…can they still be a great hero like you?” Izuku asked. He clasped his hand together nervously.

All Might paused for nearly twenty seconds before speaking. “Quirks are-” he was cut off as he started to steam. “Damn it, not now!”

“I don’t have a Quirk,” Izuku went on, looking down at the ground, unaware of All Might’s dilemma. “And I was bullied for it. So, I thought if I became a Hero, I could help prevent that? It seems silly, but I want to save people with a fearless smile on my face, like you-” He looked up and screamed. “A fraud?!”

“I am All Might-” Blood poured from the skinny man’s mouth.

Izuku didn’t understand. How can this frail man be the Number One Hero?! “No way, y-you can’t be!”

“You know how people suck their gut in at the pool? I’m like that,” All Might said. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t go around sharing this information, okay?”

“B-but, why?” Izuku asked cautiously.

All Might sighed. “Five years back, a villain did this to me.” He lifted his white T-shirt, which was now hanging off of him like an adult’s shirt on a child. Izuku gulped as he took in the horrific scar on All Might’s chest. “My respiratory system was destroyed and my stomach was removed. Even eating is a surgical process. I can only be ‘All Might’ for three hours a day at most now. A ‘fearless smile,’ huh? Kid, I smile to stave off my fear. Without a Quirk, can one become a Pro Hero? I’m afraid it’s impossible.”

Izuku’s heart sank. Deep down, he had known, but having it confirmed by his idol brought his world crashing down around him. Even his idol apparently didn't believe in him. Why even try anymore? A few more steps and he’d be by the railing of the roof again, right?

All Might’s gaze softened. “There are other ways to help people. You could become a police officer, that too is very admirable! It’s not wrong to have a dream, young man. However, it just needs to be realistic.” All Might limped towards the door and he disappeared, leaving Izuku on the roof.

Once again, Izuku stared out at the skyline. Well, he already tried to jump once already, and he didn’t know if he could handle being saved again. Nah, he should just go on home, cancel his therapy session. Then he saw the explosions not too far away and his blood ran cold.

He descended the stairs, three at a time. He raced through the streets, a mantra of Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan, running through his mind ceaselessly. He stopped and his heart almost stopped with him. It was the Sludge Villain again and he had someone in his clutches. The buildings nearby had caught on fire from the explosions. Bakugou must have lost control of his Quirk. Izuku made brief eye contact with the villain’s captive and he recognized those eyes, strange as it was to see fear in them.

Izuku dropped his backpack, and ran towards Bakugou, dodging Heroes and fire. This was his chance to be a Hero, like Uraraka, like All Might! He jumped on top of the villain and clawed at its liquid body, trying to pull Kacchan out. He could hear Bakugou’s muffled screams.

“Take my hand!” Izuku ordered. He realized that Kacchan probably couldn’t hear him. His hearing aids were most definitely damaged by the Sludge Villain. However, it seemed Kacchan could read his lips, as with a sudden burst of energy, his hand broke free and took Izuku’s. Together, they managed to pull Bakugou out, landing a couple of feet away from the Sludge Villain, who roared in anger.

“You idiot!” Kacchan shouted, the first time he’d spoken to Izuku in a month.

“Yell at me later! Right now, we’ve got to-”

All Might in his buff form suddenly landed in front of them, punching the Sludge Villain so hard that it broke apart, little bits of sewage raining onto the boys and the gathered crowd. Rain soon followed, dark grey clouds gathering. All Might flashed a smile and a double thumbs-up to the press and only Izuku thought it looked strained. Izuku sighed and collapsed, a hand over his mouth as he tried not to puke. Bakugou didn’t look much better, his face paler than Izuku had ever seen.

“Well, shit.” Izuku couldn’t have said it better himself. Kacchan licked his lips awkwardly before giving a short, “thanks”.

“No prob, Bob,” Izuku muttered dazedly. Bakugou blinked before bursting into relieved and possibly more than a little deranged laughter.

“Hey, Deku?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad you didn’t die, you nerd.”

“…Same to you.”

Bakugou looked down, his smile slipping off his face. “De-Izuku, I’m sorry. About-about everything. I’m not asking for forgiveness, ‘cause it’s far from what I deserve. I just thought you ought to know that I’m trying to make up for it.”

Izuku chewed on his lower lip, thinking. He carefully grabbed the other’s hand, rough and calloused as it was. “I-I don’t hate you, but I can’t forgive you, not yet. But I am willing to try. Can we just hang out again? I-I really missed you, the old you.”

Bakugou nodded. “Yeah. That’s-I can do that.” Things weren’t perfect, but at least they were on speaking terms again. And it only took a massive disaster and near death to do the job.

Chapter Text

Izuku walked home, practicing what he’d say to his mother under his breath. She liked to watch the news in the evenings, so surely she’d see what he had done. His therapist wouldn’t be pleased either, Izuku knew.

Kacchan walked beside him, not saying a word. He held his damaged hearing aids in his clenched palm. Izuku grimaced in sympathy, knowing that Kacchan’s own mother was going to be less than pleased. Mitsuki Bakugou was not a forgiving woman on good days, and Izuku could just hear her shrill screams and the slaps that would follow. Kacchan acted tough, but Izuku knew how afraid he was of disappointing his mother.

“I AM HERE!” Both Izuku and Bakugou stumbled back. All Might stood in front of them, a booming laugh shaking his strong shoulders.

“What the fu-All Might?!” Bakugou’s eyes widened and Izuku remembered that he wasn’t the only All Might idolizer. “What are you doing here?! Weren’t you swarmed with reporters?!”

“Shaking the media off is nothing to me, because I am All Mig-” With a puff of steam, he was sickly-looking once again. Kacchan looked ready to pass out.

“I’ll tell you about it later,” Izuku whispered to him, making sure that Bakugou could see his lips.

“You knew about this?!” Bakugou hissed back.

“I’ve come to revise what I said earlier and to make a proposal.” All Might stared directly into Izuku’s eyes, his bright blue irises shining. “If you hadn’t approached me and told me your story, I would have been nothing but fake muscles and insincerity! Thank you, my boy!”

“But it’s my fault the Sludge Villain escaped!” Izuku protested. “I distracted you, just to ask if I could be a Hero, when I knew I-”

“No. Of all the people who saw what happened, it was you who leaped into action to save your friend! Timid and Quirkless, you acted like a true hero and spurred me into action!”

Bakugou looked from All Might to Izuku and back again, perplexed. “What the fudge is going on here on this day?” he muttered, careful to watch his language in front of the Symbol of Peace.

“My boy, you can become a hero!” All Might said.

Izuku felt tears well up in his eyes. Those were the words he had always wanted to hear, and it was his inspiration telling it to him. Izuku wiped the tears away and prayed that his knees wouldn’t give out. “I’ll do my best, sir!”

“I know you will,” All Might replied. “Because I am going to give you my power!”

“H-huh?”

“Am I reading his lips right?” Bakugou mumbled. “Or did he say he was gonna ‘give’ you his power?”

“That is correct, my boy!” All Might said, stretching his arms wide. “I’m talking, of course, about my Quirk, One For All!”

Izuku straightened up. “Of course, no one actually knows what your Quirk is! There have been many theories, the most popular being that it’s Super Strength or Boost Power, but I was always sort of skeptical of those because-”

“Oi, shut up!” Bakugou interrupted him. “Let All Might talk.”

“R-right, sorry!”

“I was not born with this Quirk,” All Might went on. “It was passed down to me from my master, like a torch! And now, I wish to pass the torch onto you!”

“How is that even possible?!” Kacchan asked. “Quirks are something you’re born with, no one’s ever had one given to them!”

“You think I’d lie, young man?” All Might raised an eyebrow. “No, I can transfer One For All willingly to anyone I wish. I’ve been looking for a successor for a long time now, but I’m now certain that I’ve found them.”

“How does it work?” Izuku reached for his notebook and a pen, causing Bakugou to roll his eyes. “The first user cultivates the power and passes it down to the next person, who refines it, and the cycle continues, with the Quirk getting stronger and stronger through the generations! I am the eighth user of One For All, and you will be the ninth, should you accept this great responsibility.”

While this felt like something out of a fantasy, Izuku couldn’t push a nagging question out of his mind. “But, why me?” He looked up at All Might, searching for an answer. “Why would you give this great power to a Quirkless nobody?”

All Might smiled softly. “You have a kind and brave heart,” he said. “You have all the potential to become strong, and I’ve seen your dedication! But it’s all up to you. Will you become the ninth user of One For All?

“Young man,” All Might addressed Kacchan, “can you think of anyone more deserving for this power?”

Bakugou looked down at the weak-kneed boy, taking in his watery eyes and messy green hair. Izuku had given him more chances than he deserved, had saved him without hesitation, despite all he’d done. Izuku had worked harder than anyone to measure up to Bakugou, to be the best he could be. “No one deserves this more than Deku,” he replied honestly.

“Kacchan!” Izuku wailed.

“He’s also a huge fanboy,” Bakugou continued. “His entire room is an All Might shrine.”

“Okay,” All Might said, uncertainly. He cleared his throat. “I can’t believe I forgot to get your names! What are they?”

“Izuku Midoriya. And this is Katsuki Bakugou.”

“Izuku Midoriya, will you accept my power?” Izuku nodded, determination flooding through his veins. “Yes! I accept!”

~~~

When he had gotten home, he had gotten chewed out by his mother. Inko Midoriya was a kind and anxious woman, and seeing her son put himself so willingly in danger sent her into a panic. After a ten-minute rant, she gave him a big hug, saying she was just happy that he was okay. Izuku had dinner and went to his room.

For the first time since he'd gotten her number, he texted Uraraka. He didn’t tell her anything about All Might’s secret, just wanting to confirm that he was alive. She responded almost immediately, saying that she was glad he was doing alright. She uses too many exclamation points, Izuku thought, a small smile on his face.

Chapter Text

Izuku pulled and pulled with all he had, but it seemed the fridge wasn’t budging. On top of said fridge, Bakugou sat, a book in his lap and a megaphone in his hand. “Come on, move it! My grandma could do better, and she’s fucking eighty-two!”

Izuku collapsed onto the beach, glaring up and Bakugou. “You know, when All Might said I needed to train before I could accept his power, I didn’t think this was what he had meant.”

Kacchan scoffed. “The way I see it, you’ve gotta get jacked in ten months. Otherwise, if you try to use One For All, your limbs are gonna go-” he made a controlled explosion in his palm to show what he meant. “That’s why we’re cleaning up this shitty beach, you limp noodle-nerd. Did I miss anything?”

“That was a horrible pep talk,” Izuku muttered.

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “C’mon, All Might’s counting on you. He made this exercise regimen specifically for you.” He held up the book. “I’m here to keep you following it and to train you how to fight. You can’t pass the entrance exam with wits alone, dumbass.”

Izuku stared up at the dark sky as he lay on his back. There were still some stars out, twinkling from far away. It was very early in the morning, the sun hadn’t even risen yet. It had been two days since he’d met All Might, and Izuku still wasn’t convinced this wasn’t all some elaborate dream, like any moment he’d wake up and Kacchan would still be ignoring him. But the ache in his muscles (nonexistent as they were) grounded him, and he rose to his feet.

“Now, who’s gonna get buff?!” Kacchan yelled through the megaphone.

“Uh, me?”

“I said who’s gonna get fucking buff?!”

"Me!”

“Who’s gonna clean up this whole damn beach?!”

"Me! I am!”

“Who’s gonna get into U.A?!”

Izuku pumped his fist into the air. “Me!”

“You’re goddamn right!” Bakugou crowed. He jumped down from on top of the fridge. “Now punch me as hard as you can!”

“Me-wait, what?” Izuku blinked. “Hit me! Give me all you got, you weak-sauce shrimp!”

“Okay!” Izuku punched into Bakugou’s open hand.

“That fucking sucked! ‘Worthy successor,’ my ass! Harder!”

Izuku punched his hand again. “Harder!”

“I’m trying!” Izuku shouted back. He threw yet another punch.

“Fuck yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!”

A few yards away, Toshinori watched them go in his skinny form. He wouldn’t be recognized this way. He smiled amusedly at the sight of the two teenagers screaming at each other. These ten months were going to be hell for Midoriya, he still remembered how tough it had been for him, but he had faith. If anyone could encourage Midoriya to go the distance, it’d be Bakugou. Of course, he’d help too! He just wanted to watch a little bit longer.

~~~

A few months later, and Young Midoriya had certainly come a long way. Every day, at four in the morning, he’d get up and run to the beach, where Bakugou and All Might would be waiting for him. They’d clear trash and spar for three hours, and the boys would go home to get ready for school. Midoriya was now able to hold his own against Bakugou for nearly three minutes in a fight without Quirks involved, and he was able to move at least twenty-five pieces of junk bigger than himself off the beach a day. Both boys had improved exponentially. Toshinori couldn’t have been prouder. Well, except for one problem.

“Kacchan, you can’t wear your binder while we’re sparring!” Midoriya lectured. “That’s not healthy!”

“Relax, Deku, it’s not like I’m straining myself when I’m fighting you!”

“Hey, that was uncalled for! Take the stupid binder off!”

“No!”

“Do it or I’m telling Mom!”

“…You wouldn’t fucking dare.” Apparently, Miss Inko Midoriya was a force that not even the confident Katsuki Bakugou wanted to be on the bad side of.

Midoriya smirked. “Try me.”

Bakugou’s wild grin grew. “Oh, it’s on.”

Toshinori intervened, using his muscle-bound form for a quick moment. “Young Midoriya, Young Bakugou, it’s great that you’re pushing yourselves like this, really, but even the best Heroes have limits. Young Midoriya is right, you shouldn’t wear a binder while doing strenuous physical activity. Perhaps you should talk about transitioning with your parents-”

Bakugou stiffened, his teeth and fists clenched. All Might sensed that he had mentioned a topic of soreness. Midoriya locked eyes with Bakugou and they had a silent conversation. They seemed to reach an agreement as Midoriya hesitantly spoke.

“Kacchan’s parents…aren’t the most supportive, especially his mom.”

“That fucking hag. As soon as I turn eighteen, I’m gonna get a place of my own and never speak to her again,” Bakugou growled.

Toshinori felt a rush of protectiveness. It made his blood boil to think about the parents who didn’t seem to care whether of not their children felt right in their own skin. He hoped that he’d never get the chance to meet Bakugou’s parents. He didn’t know if he’d be able to resist Texas-Smashing them into next week and adopting Bakugou on the spot. No, he had a better idea.

“Well, perhaps I could be of assistance! I’ll pay for your transition myself!”

“W-what? All Might, you can’t be serious, I can’t-”

“Nonsense! I’ve got more money than I know what to do with, and I believe that this is a worthy cause!”

“Kacchan, you should take his offer!” Midoriya said, his eyes shining. “Think about it! You’d never be bothered about a binder ever again!”

“All Might, I…I don’t deserve-” Bakugou protested dazedly, plopping down to sit in the sand.

“Of course you do,” Midoriya interrupted, kneeling beside him and taking Bakugou’s calloused hands into his own. “You’ve changed a lot these last few months. I’m really proud of you, and I’m proud that you’re my friend.”

“We’re friends?” Bakugou looked absolutely stunned by this statement. Toshinori swept them both into a big Detroit-Hug. Bakugou rubbed his eyes with his arm. “Y-yeah, okay. That’d be great, thanks.”

Yup, it was official. Toshinori had gotten too attached. He could hear Nana laughing at him now. Bakugou and Midoriya were going to be great Pro Heroes, the best of them all, he would make sure of it.

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up at three a.m. to the sound of his phone ringing. He waited a couple of moments for the bleary world to come into focus before picking up the target of his frustration. He immediately sat up in bed once he saw who was calling. “Uraraka?”

“Deku, it’s today!” Uraraka’s bubbly voice came over the phone, and Izuku could imagine the face-splitting grin she most likely had on her face. He smiled too, instantly awake.

“I know! Ugh, I’m so excited! But also really nervous!”

“Same!” Uraraka agreed. “I really hope I don’t throw up all over myself during the exam. Talk about embarrassing!”

“You’ll do great,” Izuku assured her. “Believe me, you pack quite a punch. My cheek ached for a week after you slapped me.”

“Hey, how many times do I have to apologize?” she whined. “But don’t sell yourself short, I’m sure you got something awesome in store to blow the judges away. I just wish I knew what it was…”

Izuku had never told his new friend that he was Quirkless. Had been Quirkless. Once he managed to choke down the strand of All Might’s hair the night before (Kacchan had laughed for nearly five minutes straight), he hadn’t felt any different. He still didn’t feel any different.

“Heh, well, good luck,” he said.

“You too! See you there!”

Izuku hung up. It felt like he was being dishonest, not telling his only other friend(?) about his power. Izuku would love to shout it from the rooftops, but All Might had trusted him to keep the secret, and Izuku would be damned if he were to break that trust.

Well, since he was up, he might as well stay up, do some pushups or something.

~~~

“Woah, it’s a lot bigger in person than it looks on TV,” Deku admitted, his eyes sparkling with anticipation. Katsuki scoffed. Of course the nerd would be in awe as soon as he walked through the front gates. He’d been expecting this, after all, this was both their dreams since preschool.

He wouldn’t say it, but he was sort of amazed by the shear size of the building too. He subconsciously pulled at the strap of his binder, which he had promised Deku he wouldn’t wear to the entrance exam, but fuck that. The school was so large, stood so tall and daunting, if anyone went up to the roof, they wouldn’t survive the fall-no. Katsuki was not about to have a goddamn panic attack when he had made it. He couldn’t do this to himself now, he already had a hard time just fucking sleeping.

“C’mon,” he growled, grabbing Deku’s wrist and pulling him towards the door. “We’re wasting time just standing here.”

“Hey, Deku!” Katsuki and Deku both whipped around at the sound of the voice.

“Uraraka!” Deku raced to the girl, both of them grinning like fucking idiots. They hugged and started chatting animatedly about something that Katsuki didn’t care about. He recognized Round Face from that afternoon, but that didn’t mean he’d acknowledge it. He was just glad that Deku had found someone else he could be comfortable with. Maybe now he’d realize he should just drop Katsuki like a venomous snake before he bit him again.

“Oh, Bakugou, right? Deku’s told me so much about you!” Round Face grinned and Katsuki wanted to kick something. “Your Quirk involves exploding stuff, right? You sweat nitroglycerin from your palms and use it to make explosions. Gotta say, that’s pretty impressive.”

“Damn right it is,” Katsuki said. Normally, he would have basked in the praise, but ever since that day, compliments just ended up pissing him off.

“Fitting too. An explosive Quirk for an explosive personality.” Round Face smirked.

“What the hell does that mean?!” Katsuki yelled, palms sparking.

“She was just messing with you, Kacchan,” Deku said, smiling sheepishly. “Let’s just go on in, okay?”

“Tch.” Katsuki reluctantly complied and the three hopeful Heroes walked in together, Deku in the middle, his arms linking the others to his side.

~~~

After the first three words that had come out of Present Mic’s mouth, Katsuki had removed his hearing aids. He’d tinkered with them a little himself, but they were still pretty faulty, and a screaming Pro Hero, whose specialty was screaming, was not fucking helpful. Katsuki instead relied on the visual presentation and reading Present Mic’s lips.

From what he understood, there’d be three different types of ‘villains,’ all basically giant robots. You got points from taking down these robots, and each type had a different number of points. There was also some fourth robot, but it had zero points, serving only as another obstacle, so Katsuki didn’t bother worrying about that one.

“You ready, nerd?” He turned to Deku. The other boy’s eyes flashed determinedly and he gave a firm nod.

“Let’s pass this test!” Round Face said, raising her hand up for a high-five. Deku immediately copied her.

“C’mon, Kacchan, three-way high-five!” Katsuki groaned and rolled his eyes before giving in. He put up his own hand and all three of them awkwardly shoved their hands together. Suddenly, Katsuki felt lighter.

“Oops, release! Sorry, guys!” Uraraka apologized. “Quirk control, you know how it is.”

Chapter Text

Okay, if Ochako did the math right, that was…26 points. Ugh, she couldn’t get sick now, she had to keep going. She had to pass the entrance exam, she had promised herself and her parents she’d become a Hero! For a brief moment Ochako wondered how Deku and Bakugou were doing. She had no doubt that Bakugou would pass, but if Deku failed, it would absolutely crush him. She hoped for his sake, he passed.

Another robot barreled towards her and Ochako sighed, forcing her nausea down. She managed to dodge and tap its metal side with her finger pads. With a huge breath, she activated her Quirk, sending the robot flying. She sent it crashing back down to Earth immediately, in dizzying pain. 28 points. Wonderful.

Suddenly, the ground began to tremble under Ochako’s feet, a resounding thoom getting closer and closer. People began running towards her, no, they were running away from something. Ochako felt her knees go weak and bile rose to her throat.

That was the zero-pointer?! Present Mic had called it a “gimmick”! The gargantuan artificial beast destroyed everything in its path, debris falling from the sky like hail. Ochako couldn’t move fast enough.

Before she realized what had happened, her leg was pinned under some rubble. Pain flared up her leg and she grit her teeth. She couldn’t tell whether her ankle was sprained or worse, but she was definitely trapped. Ochako tried to lift the debris herself, but she was too weak from over-exerting herself. Damn it, she thought just losing her stomach during the entrance exam would be embarrassing, but she never considered dying a possibility. Come on, come on. A flash of green flashed by, jumping above her. Deku? With a loud cry, he reeled back his arm and punched the robot, blowing the robot back. It was definitely damaged beyond repair. Huh, she thought absently. So that’s what he was hiding.

“Hey, Round Face!” Bakugou and another boy stood above Ochako, blasting and punching away the rubble on top of her. Bakugou grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet and the other boy hooked an arm under her shoulder, holding her up. “Let’s get outta here!”

“What about Deku?” she asked. She turned back and she made a noise somewhere between a gasp and a sigh. Deku was falling. Again.

Ignoring her injured ankle and her saviors’ hold, she raced forward, hand outstretched with a strange sense of deja vu, and once again, she struck the Deku hard across the face before he could hit the ground.

“Time’s up! It’s all over!” Present Mic’s voice echoed around Ochako, making her head spin. “R-release…” Ochako couldn’t fight it off anymore. She vomited on the ground right then and there. Deku lay face down on the asphalt, his legs and right arm splayed out at awkward angles. Bakugou collapsed next to both of them, wheezing, putting his arms around his chest. The other boy sat next to him, looking worried, but not surprised.

“Dumb fucking binder…” Bakugou growled under his breath. Ochako didn’t say anything, partly because she didn’t think she was meant to hear that, and partly because she thought that if she opened her mouth again, she’d throw up once more.

Someone approached them, footsteps and what sounded like a cane knocking against the ground. “Hmm, out of everyone here, you three seem to be the ones in the worst condition. Especially you,” an old voice said, and Ochako thought that the woman was pointing at Deku. Ochako’s eyes drooped. She vaguely registered what sounded like a big kiss before drifting off into the darkness.

~~~

Ochako opened her eyes, but the ceiling wasn’t that of her room, which was covered in glow-in-the-dark stars and planets, mapping out the solar system. She was in an unfamiliar bed. Ochako sat up bolt right. She seemed to have woken up in an infirmary. The last thing she remembered was-

She released a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Deku was asleep in the bed beside hers, his chest clearly rising and falling with each breath and Bakugou was on the other side of him. He was actually awake, red eyes meeting hers before flicking back to Deku. “Thanks for saving me,” she said, her voice raspy. “Where’s your friend?”

“It’s not a big fucking deal,” he mumbled. “I only did it ‘cause Deku seems to like you. And Shark Face is not my friend. He wasn’t that injured, so he went home with everyone else. Fucking idiot wanted to stay, but Recovery Girl kicked him out.”

Ochako smiled. “You know, you’re not so bad.”

“You don’t know me.”

She was about to ask what that meant before Deku sprung back into the world of the waking, eyes wide. “W-what happened?”

“The exam is over,” Bakugou said. “Recovery Girl healed us and stuck us in her infirmary. We should be able to go home soon.”

“No, no, no,” Deku moaned, his head in his hands. “I didn’t get a single point!” He was remained absolutely inconsolable, which is what Ochako had predicted. Bakugou said he’d get over it, but he didn’t seem so sure. Which was why Ochako was practically begging Present Mic to give some of her points to Deku.

“Please, sir, he saved my life, he deserves to get in!”

Present Mic adjusted his glasses. “I’m sorry, little listener, but what’s done is done. I’m afraid I can’t give him any of your points.”

“Sir, please-”

“Uraraka, right?” He raised an eyebrow. “Kid, you’ve got a big heart and a lot of passion! You want to help this boy, I understand completely. But there shouldn’t be a need for it!” He slid his glasses down and winked. “Trust me, Midoriya’s gonna be just fine.”

Ochako walked home wondering what that meant. It wasn’t until a week later, when everyone’s letters of acceptance had arrived. Deku had called her that night, and she could tell that he was crying with joy. He got the letter. He had received 60 points for rescuing her, something that the judges were looking out for in secret. Ochako had started crying at some point too. She couldn’t wait until school started.

Chapter Text

Katsuki wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his sooty hand, probably getting some on his face, but he honestly had no fucks to give for that. God, he wanted this to be over already, his chest was fucking killing him, every breath a painful rattle. Why’d he have to wear a binder?! Why couldn’t he have just taken Deku’s advice and worn a shitty sports bra?!

Ugh, he just needed a couple of seconds, then he’d go back to destroying the stupid robots. Katsuki leaned with his hand against a wall, gasping and wheezing. Fuck, he hoped nobody would see him so weak-looking like this. He didn’t need to rest, he needed to win. His hearing aids chose that time to screech and go wonky and in his frustration, he ripped them out and angrily shoved them into his pocket. He didn’t need to hear to annihilate this stupid exam.

At that moment, something struck him from behind, flinging him across the street. Of course, Katsuki stuck the landing, and he was about to counterattack before something dropped from above onto the robot, crushing it. A boy with straight black hair climbed out onto the top and smiled down at Katsuki, with strangely pointy teeth. He said something, but Katsuki couldn’t see his lips well enough to read them, so he just turned around and stalked off.

How could he have missed the metal beast creeping up behind him? He should’ve noticed its vibrations at the very least, they weren’t meant for stealth in the slightest. Katsuki’s head pounded like there was a mini-robot trying to break free from inside his skull. Speaking of vibrations, he could feel the boy running up towards him before he put a hand on his shoulder. A hand that was immediately slapped away as Katsuki glared at him.

“Are you okay?” The weird kid asked, his lips pulled into a concerned frown that made Katsuki want to punch him.

“Fucking peachy, now fuck off,” Katsuki growled. He continued walking. He felt a hand tap his back.

“What the hell do you want?!” Katsuki yelled, whipping around to face the boy.

The boy pointed to his ears and then to Katsuki. He scoffed and pulled out his hearing aids, putting them into his ears. The world’s sound popped back to life. “Happy now?”

“Sorry, man, but I couldn’t help but notice that your breathing is pretty laboured for someone who’s ‘peachy’. What's hurting?”

“I don’t want your fucking help, dumbass, I’m fine!” The boy didn’t even flinch, leveling Katsuki with an unimpressed gaze, crimson eyes meeting vermillion.

“Right,” he said, his tone dry as a desert. “And I’m Midnight.”

There was something about the way he said it that almost made Katsuki laugh. Almost. “What does it matter to you if I’m hurt? You're just wasting time you could be using to score more points.”

The other guy had the nerve to raise an eyebrow. “Uh, hello? We’re taking an entrance exam for a Hero school. I wanna save people, including you.

“And I didn’t ask what you wanted,” he added, when Katsuki opened his mouth to argue.

Another spike of pain through Katsuki’s chest had him gritting his teeth to prevent a groan. But it seemed that this kid was an observant son of a bitch, so that didn’t do any fucking good.

“Hey, are you wearing a binder? Dude, that’s-”

“Ugh, could everyone stop telling me that?! I know, okay?!” Katsuki didn’t have enough strength to keep pretending.

“But that’s not gonna stop me from showing everyone in this damn school that I’m the best.”

“But you can’t be at your best like this, trust me, I know. I’ll stay with you.”

“I’m not helpless!” Katsuki protested loudly, crossing his arms.

The boy grinned again, his unnatural teeth catching the light. “I know, dude. It’s just nice to have someone watching your back.”

Katsuki cursed under his breath. It seemed like there was no shaking this guy off. If he had known this school would be full of Deku’s, he would have prepared himself better. Well, at least this guy wasn’t trying to drag him off the field to the nurse’s office.

“My name’s Eijirou Kirishima!”

“I don’t care.” That just made the dumbass beam even wider. Oh, he wanted this exam to end so badly.

~~~

Katsuki stared down at the sticky note grasped between his forefinger and thumb. Recovery Girl had said that someone had left it for him. On it was a phone number and “text me sometime,” written in a messy scrawl of red ink. The same color as his dumb eyes, Katsuki noted absentmindedly. Against what was probably his better judgement, he punched the number into his contact, labeling it “Smiley Shark”. He had no intentions of ever using it, but...just in case.

Chapter Text

“Remove your foot from that desk at once! Putting your feet up on it is insulting to those who used that desk before us, not to mention to the one who made that desk!” Iida commanded, moving his hand in a chopping motion.

Bakugou smirked. “Like I care.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow. “Kacchan, be nice. Iida’s our classmate and he’s right. Get your feet off the desk.” Bakugou scoffed but complied. Iida turned to Izuku, as if noticing him for the first time.

“Ah, Midoriya, thank you. I must admit that I underestimated you at first, but you perceived the true nature of the exam, something I was unable to accomplish. I give you my respect.”

“Ah, that’s really not necessary, I didn’t-” Izuku stuttered, waving his hands. He was flattered, but Iida was wrong. He didn’t perceive anything!

Luckily, he had Uraraka to come to his rescue. “Hey, what do you think our homeroom teacher’s gonna be like?”

Iida adjusted his glasses. “Well, I suspect it will be another Pro Hero, such as All Might or Recovery Girl. Perhaps Snipe or Thirteen?”

“Well, guess you’re just going to have to get used to disappointment, kid.” The conversation stopped abruptly as everyone turned to see a dead-looking man in a mustard yellow caterpillar-like sleeping bag. He had bags under his red eyes and tangled black hair. He lay right in front of the door to the classroom. How come no one noticed him?! Izuku wondered.

“I’m your homeroom teacher, Shouta Aizawa. Pleased to meet you,” the man said, unzipping his sleeping bag and stepping out.

Izuku’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. “Oh my gosh, that’s Eraserhead! Kacchan, Kacchan, he’s Eraserhead!” He grabbed Bakugou’s sleeve, shaking it and pointing at their teacher, who either didn’t notice or chose to ignore it. He was too in awe to pay attention to Aizawa’s words.

“Stop fanboying,” Bakugou chastised him. “We have to put on our gym uniforms and meet outside.”

~~~

So far, things weren’t going in Izuku’s favor. Aizawa had planned some kind of Quirk Test and he was scoring their performances. And, he said, the one with the lowest score in all seven tests would be expelled. Izuku had to resist the urge to break down right then and there. Kacchan seemed as confident as usual. Izuku wondered how he did it. God, he had worked so hard to be here, he couldn’t be expelled now!

Still, the last time he used One For All, he ended up in the infirmary. He had to wait for the right time. But that didn’t mean it was easy to watch everyone surpass him in the tests. Iida, obviously, completely blew the competition away in the 50-meter dash with the engines on his legs, his total time being 3.04 seconds. The grip strength test was done best by an unbelievably tall kid with six arms. And it only made sense that the girl with a Frog Quirk did best on the standing long jump. The ball-throw test was right up Uraraka’s alley. After all, only she could control when the ball fell. It flew into the stratosphere and out of sight. Aizawa gave her the top score on that one.

Izuku inhaled and exhaled, trying to remember the breathing exercises his therapist had taught him. He couldn’t give up, All Might, his mother, his friends had all pushed him to get to this point and he refused to let them down! He was going to become a Hero, even if it killed him!

Izuku concentrated, letting the power of his unfamiliar Quirk run through his fingertips, the last point of contact, and he released just as he let go of the ball. With a cry, he felt his forefinger snap, but the ball was launched through the air. Izuku clenched his fist and turned back to his classmates, all looking at him with varying degrees of amazement. Kacchan was smirking and Uraraka whooped.

“Alright, let’s move on to the next test,” Aizawa said, seemingly unimpressed. A couple more average results later, and it was over. Izuku’s finger was still broken, and he was sure that he’d be sent home. Why would they want him still if he hurt himself after every usage of his Quirk? He was just a liability, a waste of the space in the class that anyone else deserved more than him. Pathetic, useless, stupid-

“Midoriya, you don’t look so good. Are you dehydrated or suffering vitamin deficiency? Here.” Iida handed Izuku a juice box, which he gratefully accepted. Orange juice, he noted. Wasn’t that what was in his water bottle too?

“Thanks, Iida.” He hummed quietly. “It is no problem. Even if you do get sent home, I’m glad I had the chance to meet you. You truly are an inspiration.”

“Wha-I don’t know about that! I just want to be a Hero like everyone else here.”

“Now, the results of the Quirk Test,” Aizawa deadpanned, staring down each student. Then he grinned suddenly. “I was lying about expelling someone. It was all a logical ruse, meant to convince you to do your best.”

The class erupted. Some were angry, complaining and stomping their feet while others just groaned out of sheer exhaustion, too tired to argue. Izuku considered himself to be part of the latter group. He didn’t know whether he was going to laugh, cry, or scream. Instead, he opted to go back inside with the others, safe in knowing he’d be able to return tomorrow. God, he needed to sleep for twelve hours.

Kacchan clapped him on the back a bit too roughly, but Izuku knew he was just being ‘friendly’. “You didn’t do as bad as you could have. Go to Recovery Girl, you damn nerd, I don’t like the angle your finger’s hanging at.”

Chapter Text

“I suppose I will act as a villain, despite how much it pains me. It is for the sake of training after all,” Tenya said begrudgingly, adjusting his glasses. He laid a hand on the ‘weapon’ that the villains were supposed to be protecting. He glanced at her teammate. “Bakugou, perhaps we should talk about our strategy-”

“We have a strategy. Kill Round Face and Deku before they get the weapon.”

Tenya gasped. How could he say such a dastardly thing?! Surely he wasn’t actually planning to badly injure their classmates? “Bakugou, that’s hardly any way a Hero should speak!”

He had the nerve to roll his eyes. “I’m not being literal, Four Eyes! Just keep an eye on the stupid weapon, I’ll take care of the rest!” Bakugou started to stalk off, ignoring Tenya’s spluttering.

He sighed, trying to regain his composure. Not everyone will be willing to cooperate with you, you just have to remain focused, Tensei’s voice reminded him. Of course, that was a lesson he already knew well. He was the second-oldest son of the pristiged Iida family, always having to compete with his other brothers for everything, whether it was for the shower or their parents’ attention. And his diagnosis for autism certainly didn’t give his bullies any less material.

That didn’t matter now. Now, Tenya was a villain, intent on guarding his weapon of massive disaster with his life. He had to commit to the part he’d been given to play! Tenya didn’t do anything half-way! He let out a laugh that he hoped sounded evil enough. Yes, those stupid Heroes were far outmatched!

“I am the ultimate evil.”

A quiet snicker came from around the corner and Tenya knew that he wasn’t alone. “I know you’re here, Uraraka!”

The laughter cut off abruptly. Uraraka came out into the open cautiously. “Uh, hi?”

Tenya smirked from under his helmet. “Midoriya’s not with you. What happened to your precious teammate?”

Uraraka swallowed. “Why should I tell you?”

“Well, I think it’s safe to assume I’m not leaving my post, because that would leave you to steal the weapon. And you’re not leaving either, because you think you have a chance here and you trust Midoriya to handle Bakugou on his own, correct?” Tenya asked.

Uraraka said nothing, inching backwards little by little. She was still thinking of a plan, best to keep her talking and distracted.

“Do you know how Bakugou and Midoriya know each other? I’ve noticed how close they seem to be. It would make sense for Bakugou to seek Midoriya out for confrontation if he knows Midoriya’s fighting style. He seems to have forgotten about you, however.”

“They’ve been friends since they were little,” Uraraka said, her brown eyes narrowed. “Deku knows how Bakugou fights too. He was able to keep him back while I got away.”

Tenya nodded knowingly. “I was expecting this. I bet you thought you could capture the weapon with help from your Quirk. But look around you!” Tenya spread his arms and he let pride creep into his voice. “I’ve removed all objects previously on this floor! A clever counter-strategy, I’d say! Try to get around this, Hero! Mwahahaha!”

Uraraka held a hand up to her ear, where her earpiece was. She seemed to be whispering into it, talking with her teammate. Tenya stayed where he was, unwilling to leave the weapon abandoned. However, with his speed, he could probably be able to take her out now. Should he take the chance or hope time ran out soon?

Suddenly, a huge explosion rocked the building, causing the very floor under Tenya’s boots to shake. That must have been Bakugou, Tenya ventured. Just how structurally sound was this establishment, anyway? Surely it had been tested and built to withstand extreme-

Uraraka raced forward. Tenya hadn’t been expecting such a direct approach, but he knew he was faster. That was a mistake, as Uraraka jumped over her head, gliding toward the weapon. Tenya’s heart skipped a beat. He hadn’t known that Uraraka could use her Quirk on herself. But he wouldn’t be bested so easily!

His engines roared to life as Tenya ran forward and tugged the heavy faux weapon out of the way before Uraraka could lay a single padded finger on it. His classmate crashed against the wall, her helmet clattering off to the side.

“A good try, but it seems you’ve miscalculated, Hero. Mwahahahaha!”

~~~

“Come on out, Deku! You can’t run forever!” Bakugou roared. Izuku knew that even though things had been mended, Bakugou wouldn’t just hold back. Since the start, he had played to win.

“Uraraka, update?” Izuku whispered from behind a wall. His costume had been torn in several places, which he felt guilty about. His mom had made it for him to show her support, after all.

“Things aren’t going good on my end…”

“Listen, I have a plan, just tell me which room you’re in.”

“Time to die!” God, they really needed to work on Kacchan’s filter. The other boy came flying towards him suddenly, propelled by explosions. Izuku tried to time a punch, but Bakugou’s reflexes were too fast and he dodged with another explosion, blinding Izuku with smoke. Then he was hit from behind, throwing him onto his chest.

“Had enough?” Bakugou asked and Izuku heard him grab the capture tape. No, this wasn’t over! He couldn’t let it end here!

Izuku sprang up, scrambling to his feet and breaking into a run. He needed to be by the pillar by the window, based on what Uraraka had told him. Bakugou, of course, would give chase, which is exactly what Izuku wanted.

“Hey, get back here!”

Izuku stopped, checking his location. He was cornered, or at least, that’s what Kacchan would think. “Ready?” he asked Uraraka.

“Ready,” she responded.

“Good, because I’m gonna be in so much pain in a few seconds,” he said. “It’d just make it a teensy bit more bearable if my plan worked.”

“Deku!” Bakugou’s murderous eyes flashed in his own Quirk-created light. Izuku swallowed back his fear and brought back his arm for a Detroit-Smash. Bakugou’s palms glowed as he powered up for one massive explosion.

“Now, Uraraka!”

Boom! The building shook once again. Bakugou gaped at Izuku in shock, the other boy’s right arm looking completely broken, still raised in the air instead of in Bakugou’s direction. “It was…all I could think of.” And with that, Izuku collapsed, knocked out cold.

~~~

Katsuki couldn't pay much attention to the other fights after that. Apparently, he and Four Eyes had lost, Round Face having surprised him with an improvised and incredibly reckless move or some shit. He had tried to follow Deku into the infirmary, but Recovery Girl wouldn’t allow it. His hearing aids were being a bitch again, so into his pocket they went.

Katsuki tried to watch the other teams, but his mind kept wandering. That was the first time he had lost, really lost, in years. He instantly knew that he could never tell his parents, or he’d face another lecture or a new bruise to hide, which he didn’t feel like going through the trouble for. And he had lost to Deku of all people, someone who had been behind him for so long. Katsuki should feel proud, and a large part of him did, and yet the small voice in his head, which sounded suspiciously like his mother, told him he was falling behind. He felt like he was falling through the earth and the sky was getting further and further away. Katsuki wished that his lack of hearing aids could silence his mind too, yet when the world is quiet, what other sounds can there be but the ones in your head?

Chapter Text

“I just really wanted it to be me, you know?” Momo lamented at the lunch table, pushing her food around her bento with her chopsticks disinterestedly. “I have nothing against Midoriya, but I think I’d be a great class president. I’m intelligent, I’ve always followed the rules, I was a recommended student-”

“Momo,” Shouto interrupted her, his voice quiet but firm. “Eat your sushi.”

She sighed, reluctantly eating a few bites before pushing the bento away. “I don’t mean to brag or whine, but it’s just so frustrating, Shouto! This was a chance to prove to my parents why I’m better suited as a Hero than just another elite.”

Shouto pat her back sympathetically, which was an act he rarely did for anyone else. Momo was one of the only people he was ever truly open with, and he could count those people on one hand. They had met when they were both six, his father having dragged him to a gala that Momo’s family was hosting. She was without a doubt his closest (and only) friend and that was just the way he liked it. He couldn’t afford to get attached to anyone else in Class-1A, that’s not what he was here to do.

Momo was different. Her parents also placed incredible pressure on her to mold to fit their idea of a perfect daughter, but she never closed herself off to other people. Momo loved to meet new people and make friends, though it sometimes ended in others taking advantage of her naivety for her wealth or popularity. Momo could cooperate with almost anyone, which was an excellent quality in an upcoming Hero, even if her parents couldn’t see her potential. Shouto, however, preferred to go it alone.

“Shouto, look!” Momo whispered, elbowing Shouto and snapping him out of his thoughts. She was staring rather intently at a table where a couple of their classmates sat. She seemed to have honed in on one girl in particular with uneven dark purple bangs. She was sniggering at something the golden-haired kid sitting beside her and with animatedly waving arms had said. Shouto honestly hadn’t bothered to learn their names at this point.

“Why must every girl in this school be so gorgeous? Was it a requirement?” Momo groaned, putting her head down on her arms. “It’s not fair!”

Shouto allowed a small rare grin to creep onto his face. It felt unnatural, but Momo was the only one who could make him smile. “It’s not their fault that you’re a gay disaster.”

“Ah, but it takes one to know one, doesn’t it?” Momo looked up at him, her eyebrows raising smugly. “Tell me, do any boys in this class catch your eye?”

The smile went. He hated being asked about romance. It was just a waste of time, and who would want to date him anyway? “No. And even if they did, I’m not interested in a relationship. This isn’t middle school, this is Hero training, and I’m going to be a great Hero.”

“Yes, but it’s still high school, where you make lasting friendships and all that,” Momo pointed out. “Shouto, I know your father doesn’t want you to concentrate on anything but surpassing All Might, but-”

“I’m not doing this for my father,” he snapped.

Momo drew back, a tiny bit of hurt in her gray eyes. Shouto breathed out slowly. He hadn’t meant to get angry at his friend when she hadn’t done anything wrong. She didn’t know the full extent of how much of a shitbag his old man could be. He opened his mouth to apologize, but the chance was snatched from him by the alarm blaring. People started screaming and running out of the cafeteria in a surging wave. Momo grabbed his arm and pulled him along. “C’mon, the alarm means someone has infiltrated the building.”

The hallways were hell. There was absolutely no order to be seen, people shoving and yelling just to get out. Shouto and Momo were jostled from all sides, the only thing keeping them from getting separated being Momo’s grip on his wrist. Shouto hated all the physical contact from people he didn't know. He considered getting through the crowd with his Quirk, but he didn’t think it would be worth it. Even if he wasn’t going to be all buddy-buddy with anyone, he wouldn't risk injuring them unprovoked, especially if an actual villain had somehow gotten past U.A’s security system. Momo used her free hand to point at something. “Is that Iida?”

Their classmate with the engine-legs was zooming through the air, somersaulting ungracefully as his jets propelled him forward. He slammed into the wall ahead, just above the exit sign, and Shouto noticed that his glasses were missing.

“Everyone, everything is fine!” He shouted over the noise, immediately pulling the crowd’s attention towards him. “It’s just the press! There’s no reason to panic! You are students of U.A! Act like it!”

That seemed to have done the job. With no one rushing to get out like their life depended on it, Shouto was able to relax (to a degree). Momo exhaled in relief from beside him. “For a moment, I was worried I’d have to create a pole and vault over everyone,” she said jokingly. Then her face turned serious.

“I don’t understand. How were the press able to get past the barrier without an ID? They aren’t even villains. Someone had to have let them in or destroyed the defenses somehow.”

Shouto shrugged. “Well, everything’s fine now. It’s time to go back to class, let’s go.” He acted like he wasn’t bothered, but he had the same questions. But what could he do? He doubted that their teachers would tell them anything, even if they had the answers. Maybe he could see it on the news, if his old man wasn’t home.

~~~

“I believe that Iida is better suited to be class president!” Midoriya said. Iida gasped, his hands fluttering up to his face. “You all saw how he lead everyone during that crisis. I think he’s the correct person for the job.”

“Th-thank you, Midoriya! I accept the job!” Iida shouted, beaming wide, happily flapping his hands. It was the first time that Shouto had seen him smile.

“You know, I think Midoriya was right,” Momo said later as she and Shouto walked home together. “Iida really is a good leader, and I’ll have other opportunities to prove myself. I just hope no one will replace me as vice president!”

“I don’t think anyone else could rule the class with an iron fist better than the both of you,” Shouto replied.

“We’re not tyrants!” Momo exclaimed in mock offense. She grinned mischievously. “But hypothetically, if there was any sort of rebellion, Iida and I would crush it instantly under our shoes.”

Chapter Text

The moment Mr. Aizawa had mentioned that Class-1A would be doing rescue training, the room began to buzz with the excited voices and movement of students. Now this is what being a Hero is all about! Izuku was just as enthusiastic about it as any of his other classmates, but he wished he knew exactly what this new kind of training entailed. Would there be actual people he needed to save? Faux villains? Would they be graded for this? Butterflies erupted in his stomach as he bounced his knee in anticipation. Izuku knew he was going to fail, he’d be behind everyone else again like he always is-

“Oi, Deku, shut up.”

“Wha-But I wasn’t saying anything!”

Bakugou flicked Izuku’s forehead. “You were thinking loud enough. It’s annoying.”

“S-sorry.”

“Deku, why are you in your gym clothes?” Uraraka asked, pointing at his outfit. Izuku’s gaze slid over to Bakugou. “Well, between Kacchan and me, it’s not in the best state. The school’s Support Department is repairing it.”

“Alright everyone, line up according to your ID numbers and board the bus in a calm and orderly fashion!” Iida commanded, blowing a whistle from around his neck. Did he carry it around for this situation? Izuku wondered.

However, Iida’s expectations were dashed once it was revealed that they’d be riding in a standard tour bus. Izuku ended up sitting next to a short girl with long dark green hair tied into a bow down her back. He recognized her as the girl with Frog Quirk, Asui. Iida sat across from them and Bakugou and Uraraka weren’t far away, which was a small source of comfort for Izuku.

“I generally say what’s on my mind, Midoriya,” Asui spoke abruptly, catching Izuku off guard.

“Uh, okay! What is it, Asui?” he asked.

“Call me Tsu,” she said, transfixing Izuku with a blank stare. “Your Quirk sort of resembles All Might’s.”

“R-really? No. I mean-”

“Yeah, but All Might doesn’t get hurt when he uses his Quirk, so there’s a difference!” A guy with gelled red hair argued (Kirishima, was it?). “It’s still an awesome Quirk, though. You can do lots of cool stuff with it, unlike my Hardening.” His arm turned sharp and jagged, like a rock, to prove his point. “It’s good in a fight, but real boring.”

“No way!” Izuku said, his eyes growing wide as he studied Kirishima’s arm. “Your Quirk is more than enough to go Pro!” Kirishima shot him a sharp-toothed smile.

“Oui, but what about popular appeal?” The boy sitting across from Tsu said, a clear French accent shaping his words. “My navel laser is both strong and cool.” Ah, Izuku thought, looking at the boy’s belt. That must be to help him aim the beam.

The pink girl beside Navel Laser put a hand on her classmate’s shoulder. “As long as you don’t blow up your stomach or get sick.”

Izuku wished he had brought his notebook. All of his classmates were so interesting, with such a diverse array of Quirks. Maybe he’d get to ask them questions later. Hopefully, he’d get to see those Quirks in action today, which was both thrilling and daunting. Once again, Izuku’s attention returned to his potential for failure. He couldn’t even control One For All without breaking his fingers. He’d just look stupid in comparison to his classmates. They probably already whispered behind his back after seeing him throw that ball.

“If anyone qualifies for being strong and cool, it’s Bakugou,” Tsu speculated, putting a finger to her chin. “Though, I don’t think he’ll be very popular because of his off-putting behavior.”

“What’d you say, Frog-Face?!” Bakugou yelled, having overheard the conversation.

“Well, it’s just that you’re only ever friendly, and I use that term loosely, to Midoriya,” Tsu replied evenly. “When anyone else tries to get close, you snap at them.”

“We’ve only barely started socializing and already you’ve made it abundantly clear to us the unpleasantness of your steamed turd of a personality.” A boy with golden hair that Midoriya thought was named Kaminari said, grinning. Izuku gawked at the book in Kaminari’s lap, which looked to be about the size of a newborn baby. Was that in English?

Bakugou jumped to his feet, his hands clenching the rail. “I’ll show you-”

“Kacchan,” Izuku started warningly. Bakugou huffed and sat back down in his seat. It was weird having Bakugou actually listen to him, but not unappreciated. After all, not just anyone can stop Bakugou from fighting everyone he found annoying, which was practically the entire population.

~~~

Katsuki shielded his eyes from the sun with his hand as he glared up at the enormous structure. Where is UA even getting these funds from? As they went inside, they were met by a person in a large puffy white outfit and black helmet, making Katsuki think of an astronaut. He knew this must be another Pro Hero, but he couldn’t recall who they were or what they were known for. He looked to his left and suppressed a small knowing grin. Of course Deku recognized them.

“Oh my gosh, Thirteen!” Round Face squealed, bouncing up and down in excitement to Deku’s right. “Is this heaven? Thirteen was my favorite hero growing up and now they’re actually here!” she whispered.

“We have a flood zone, landslide zone, and more,” Thirteen said, addressing the class. “Every disaster and accident you can imagine. I built this facility myself. I call it…the Unforeseen Simulation Joint! Or USJ for short.”

Just like Universal Studios Japan, Katsuki thought. He had gone once with Deku and Aunt Inko when they were little, before everything happened. His mother had jumped at the chance to dump him on someone else so she wouldn’t have to look at him. No one yelled at him or called him names or hit him. It had been the best week of his life.

“As I’m sure many of you are aware, my Quirk is called Black Hole,” Thirteen went on. “Does anyone know what it does?”

Deku raised his hand quickly. “With your fingers, you can create a black hole that can suck in things and tear them apart! You’ve used it to save people in all kinds of disasters.” Round Face pumped her head up and down enthusiastically beside him.

“That’s correct, but my power can also be used to kill very easily,” they said. “I’m sure some of you have similar abilities. You must always keep in mind that it only takes one wrong move, one slip-up to hurt the very people you’re supposed to protect. I don’t say this to frighten you, it is simply the truth.

“But this class will show you a new perspective! You will learn how to utilize your Quirks to save lives. Your powers aren’t meant to inflict harm. I hope you leave here today understanding that you’re meant to help people.” Thirteen bowed. “Thank you for listening.”

“Very inspirational, bravo!” Four Eyes shouted. Both he and Round Face clapped wildly.

Katsuki couldn’t deny that what Thirteen had said had stuck with him, just a little bit. He had a very destructive Quirk himself and he’d been abusing it for years to bully his friend. No one else had tried to get too close to him for it, though he was sure his general disposition also had played a big part in his isolation. In stories, that was usually how villains were formed. Katsuki didn’t want to be the villain. So, yeah, he could save people, if that meant maybe making up for stuff.

“Great. First off-” Aizawa started to say, but he never finished. A whooshing sound started coming from the fountain in the middle of the USJ and a dark purple vortex opened up. Katsuki looked to Thirteen, but they took a step back, as if surprised. That meant it couldn’t be one of their black holes. A chill ran down Katsuki’s spine and he heard gasps as a pale hand reached through. Then people came pouring out. Katsuki’s gut told him that this wasn’t right, wasn’t supposed to be happening. But he knew one thing: He had to stop this.

Chapter Text

Hey, guys. It's been awhile. I just want you to know that I haven't abandoned you or this story. I will keep writing for it, it makes me happy to do so. I haven't been updating recently because of some personal stuff. Someone very important to me passed away and I've been in mourning for them. Our relationship was complicated and they made me feel like shit sometimes, we fought and yelled and cried, but I know they were trying their best. They cared about me and I them, and their death was very sudden. They'd been sick for over six years, but they still smiled, still supported me, and now they're gone. I'm slowly learning to accept that. I've never lost someone before, expected that I never would for a long time. I'm still just a kid....I want to post another chapter. It should be up sometime tomorrow. Please, be patient with your loved ones. Let them know that you care, make the time that you have together a good time. People don't always remember our words, but they know how we made them feel, and that's what really matters. I love you guys. Goodnight.

Chapter Text

Eijirou squinted, trying to make out the figures from so far away. Ugh, it made his head hurt. Why did he have to forget his contacts today?

“Mina, what am I looking at?” he asked.

The girl in question fixed him with an incredulous look. “Where are your freaking contacts?! Kiri, are you kidding me right now?! Those are villains!

“Stay put and stay together!” Aizawa ordered, snapping his golden goggles into place.

“Wait, Sensei, you can’t fight them alone!” Midoriya protested. “You can’t nullify all their Quirks! Head-on battle like this isn’t-”

Aizawa didn’t waver. “No good Hero is a one-trick pony. Thirteen, protect them.” Aizawa leaped down to meet the villains, his scarf and hair rising. So manly, Eijirou thought.

“Alright, time to evacuate, children!” Thirteen said, waving their arms to gesture to the wide doors. Suddenly, there was purple fog blocking their way.

“I’m afraid I can’t allow that,” a deep male voice said. The mist materialized into a humanoid being, their face and hands still hidden. Or maybe those were his face and hands. Eijirou managed to hold his ground, his arms hardening on command. He wouldn’t sit around and let himself or his classmates be in danger. He caught the eye of Bakugou, who he hadn’t spoken to since the Entrance Exam. It looked like he wasn’t the only one preparing to fight their way out.

“Greetings. We are the League of Villains,” the Mist Villain drawled. “Forgive our audacity, but…we have come to U.A. to end the life of All Might, Symbol of Peace. We were under the impression that he’d be here today, but no matter. My role remains unchanged.”

Tendrils of his fog began to circle the group, about to trap them in. Eijirou couldn’t wait any longer. He ran forward, his hardened fist reeling back. He aimed for the gut and let loose a punch that should have knocked the air out of the villain’s lungs. Bakugou had also chosen that exact moment to attack, delivering a blow of his own.

The villain dodged just in time, his body materializing out of their range. His yellow eyes narrowed in what Eijirou assumed was displeasure. “Insolent children,” he muttered.

“Get back, both of you,” Thirteen ordered. “I’ll take care of this!”

“Begone!” The fog swirled around the group, faster than Eijirou had expected. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t hear, and there was nothing for him to hit. He felt helpless to the situation and he hated it more than anything.

When he could see again, he didn’t know where he was. Eijirou didn’t know if he was even in the USJ anymore. It looked like a city of sorts that had been struck by some kind of disaster due to the crumbling buildings and broken glass littering the streets. But then again, this could just be a simulation. He hoped Mina and the others were alright, wherever they ended up. Eijirou should see if he could find anyone he knew. Explosions from a a couple of blocks over told him he’d had the right idea.

Bakugou threw one unconscious villain into a couple of other guys. He grabbed another girl by the hair and swung her around so he could give her a swift uppercut. He turned and made eye contact with Eijirou. “Well, are you just gonna fucking stand there?!”

“Of course not, bro!” Eijirou grinned. He stepped up so that he and Bakugou were standing back-to-back. “Bet you can keep up?”

Bakugou scoffed. “Was gonna ask you the same thing, Shitty Hair.”

“Hey, my hair’s not that bad!”

~~~

Izuku was starting to think that he had a Quirk all along and that it operated by Murphy’s Law. Because here he was, on a ship in the flood zone of the USJ, surrounded by dozens of villains, and the only companions he had were two classmates that he’d known for all of a week. And Mineta was really starting to grate on his nerves. Currently, everything was going wrong. Keep calm, Izuku.

“We’re gonna die!” the smaller boy wailed. “And I never even got to grope Yaoyorozu’s boo-” he was cut off by a swift whack to the back of the head from Asui’s tongue. Izuku liked her more and more by the minute. She, at the very least, kept her head under pressure.

“They’re being cautious,” Izuku muttered, staring down at the aquatic villains. “That’s why they’re not trying to come aboard. And they made a mistake!”

Asui tilted her head. “What mistake, ribbit?” “They sent you to the flood zone, Asui!”

She stared at him, waiting for something.

“…I mean Tsu!”

She nodded in understanding. “Yeah, I’m right at home in the water. If they wanted to really get me in trouble, I would be in the fire area.”

“Unless they don’t know our Quirks! And because they don’t know, they split us up in hopes to outnumber us with numbers!”

“What does that matter?!” Mineta screamed. “We’re just kids! We just have to wait for the Pros to rescue us or we’ll die!”

“Mineta, I’m scared too, but we can’t be sitting ducks,” Izuku tried to reason with him. He understood his classmate's fear, but there was a difference between feeling afraid and letting that fear consume you and control your actions, and Izuku had always tried his best to avoid the latter. “Eventually, the villains will get bored and-”

A huge wave cut through the side of the boat, splitting it in two. Izuku held onto the rail with both hands and tried not to fall. His legs felt like jello and he struggled to stay upright. He couldn’t tell if it was his completely legitimate fear of death or his anxiety, but he knew he was not having a good time. In a minute at most, the boat would have sunk completely, leaving them vulnerable. He wished Kacchan or Uraraka were here. Hopefully, they were doing better than him.

“I’m getting bored!” a villain said. If Izuku had been meaner, he would have told Mineta ‘I told you so’. Instead, he just thought it really hard. Izuku asked himself what All Might would do. An old memory of an interview came to mind. “When the enemy thinks they’ve won represents your best chance,” the Symbol of Peace had said. A lightbulb went off in Izuku’s head.

“Okay, I have a plan to get us out of here.”

Chapter Text

“Go to hell!”

“Dumbass kid,” a villain muttered, looking at the green-haired boy jumping off the side of the ship. Izuku tried his best to emulate Kacchan’s confidence. He drew his finger back and flicked at the water below him, delivering a Delaware Smash. Giant waves spread from the middle, pushing the villains back.

“Tsu!” Izuku called. A long, pink tongue wrapped around his waist, pulling him back. Tsuyu leaped from the sinking boat, Mineta tucked under her arm. The other boy pulled balls from his head and threw them at random, screaming and crying all the way. Izuku’s thumb and middle finger were useless now, but he was too hyped on adrenaline to feel much pain. He looked back, watching his plan come into fruition.

He’d known that aiming at any one particular villain wouldn’t do any good. By striking in the middle of the lake, the water would come rushing out, and then it would be pulled back into the middle. And by the end of it, the villains will be stuck together due to Mineta’s sticky balls!

Izuku grimaced. That had sounded much cooler in theory.

“Looks like we’ve beaten our first challenge, ribbit. Good work,” Tsuyu said after they had landed in a shallow part of the pool.

“I don’t know, it was really a bit of a gamble. I thought that they’d have some villains hiding under the water’s surface, but I guess they weren’t thinking ahead. I was lucky that got them all…”

“Stop it, Midoriya, that’s scary,” Tsu interjected. “We should be thinking about what to do now.”

“We have to get reinforcements,” Izuku said, his mouth set in a grim line. “If we follow the shoreline and avoid the plaza, we should reach the exit. Mr. Aizawa’s doing fine now, but there are too many villains. He knew that and tried to protect us anyway.”

“A-are you saying we should help him?” Mineta balked, already shaking in his yellow boots. What even is his costume anyway, it isn’t practical in the slightest. Is that a diaper? Focus, Izuku.

“I’m not saying we dive right in, we just have to wait for an opening, just something to lighten Mr. Aizawa’s load…”

~~~

Kyouka hadn’t always wanted to be a Hero. She’d been planning to be a musician, like both of her parents, until a certain sparky nuisance tripped into her life and told her she’d be a great Hero. Said nuisance had been her best friend for nine years now, and was currently whining about how his Quirk wasn’t good for this situation. “You know I can’t discharge it without hurting you guys too!”

“Fine! Be a human stun gun then!” Kyouka kicked Denki into a villain three times his size, thereby electrocuting the poor guy.

“Oh, hey!” Denki said. “This works!”

Kyouka rolled her eyes. She had to wonder why she remained friends with such an idiot. Oh, right. Because she knew he’d do anything for her and and she'd do the same. That's what happens when you beat up your bullies, play video games at one in the morning, laugh at memes, and jam out to loud music together. After awhile, you start growing fond.

Another villain tried to pull Denki away, but he was brought down by a weighted net thrown his way. Kyouka turned to where it had come from and was immediately reminded that she was a disaster lesbian. Yaoyorozu gracefully weaved through her attackers, hitting a guy in the side of the head with her staff and tripping a couple of others, and looking hot as hell while doing it. Kyouka almost dropped her sword, but she managed to raise it in time to block a blow.

“Kaminari!” Yaoyorozu shouted. “Be ready on my signal!”

“Okay?”

The back part of Yaoyorozu’s costume shimmered and a large sheet flew out. She quickly grabbed it and covered herself and Kyouka in it. “Uhhh,” Kyouka said, painfully aware that she had the eloquence of…an uneloquent person. Shit, why did girls have to be so pretty?

“Now, Kaminari!”

“Gotcha.” Denki smirked, his hands crackling and flashing due to his Quirk. White-yellow arcs of electricity danced around the battlefield, villains shouting as they were crispy-fried. When the dust finally settled, Denki was surrounded by unconscious villains. Kyouka sighed again. She was all too familiar with what happened next.

“Wheeee,” Denki giggled, a derpy expression on his face.

“What happened to him?” Yaoyorozu asked.

“His brain is fried. Now he’s more stupid than usual. He’ll be fine in a couple of hours,” Kyouka explained. Then she looked down at Yaoyorozu and her costume. “Hey, how come your costume isn’t torn?”

Yaoyorozu smiled and Kyouka looked away. It was like staring at the fucking sun. “I had considered that before, and it would have, if my costume wasn’t made from my DNA. That’s how I’m able to use my Quirk without having to expose too much skin. Of course, it would have completely destroyed my casual clothes.”

“Good to know.” It wasn’t enough for Yaoyorozu to be gorgeous, no, she also had to be a decent human being, strong, and smart to a fault. She was going to be the death of Kyouka, she just knew it.

“Wheeeeeee…”

If Denki didn’t kill her first.

~~~

Shouto could see his own breath, and his fingers were starting to go numb, but that was irrelevant. He had to find Momo and get out of here. He knew better than anyone that she could hold her own, but eventually, she would run out of steam. And Shouto was not about to let one of the few people that mattered get hurt.

But that wasn’t the only thing on his mind. Could these villains really kill the Symbol of Peace? So far, the ones he fought seemed like nothing more than pawns. If anyone poised a real threat, Shouto’s intuition told him it was the Hand Guy. Well, there was only one course of action now.

“Listen up,” he said, speaking to the handful of villains, a term he used loosely in this case, that he had trapped in ice. “If this goes on much longer, you’ll die of frostbite. But, I’m trying to be a Hero, so I’d rather not have your deaths on my permanent record. The deal is this: Tell me your plan and I might melt away the ice.” If Endeavor had been here, he would have torched the bad guys already and asked questions later. How he had become the Number Two Hero with his history of property damage and civilian injuries, Shouto could only speculate. But he was most certainly not his father.

“Brr, it’s freezing!”

Shouto whipped around, his right arm up, ice already forming. But he couldn’t see anything. He scanned the area, but-

“It’s just me! I’m invisible, remember?” Was there an invisible kid in his class? She didn’t sound like she was lying, and what kind of villain would give away their position like that? Granted, these guys weren’t the most challenging foes Shouto had faced, but he was getting off topic.

“I don’t think I formally introduced myself. I’m Hagakure!” A blue and pink glove that came from nowhere and was attached to nothing was stretched towards Shouto. He eyed it, but made no move to shake her hand. She dropped it after a couple of seconds.

“Are you naked or something?” he asked.

He heard an offended gasp. Had he done something wrong? “Of course not, you pervert! That’d be stupid! My costume is made from my hair, so it can change with me.” Her costume blinked into existence. It was mostly pink, with blue patches that looked like solar panels. There was a cluster of buttons on her right arm and she had lilac boots. A visor floated above the suit, electronic, cartoony eyes blinking on the screen. The visor also had cat ears.

“Cat ears?” Shouto said out loud.

Hagakure stomped her foot, which curiously didn’t make a sound. Her visor’s eyes frowned. “No one gets it? I’m like the Cheshire Cat!”

“The what?”

“Ugh!”

Chapter Text

Tenya ran, his arms and legs pumping in stride and his engines propelling him forward. Any faster, and he’d tear his muscles or break his legs. He didn’t want to be running, even though he loved it, because this time, the lives of his classmates and teachers were at stake. And he feared that he wouldn’t be fast enough.

Tenya had been on the track team in middle school, and it was clear to everyone that he was born for it, even if using Quirks was against the rules. He didn’t even have to use his Quirk to win, his legs were strong enough on their own from all the training he did. Tenya certainly didn’t let the gym in his family’s manor collect dust, and when you have four other brothers, you had to “toughen up” to survive. He’d never worried about losing, and on the rare occasions he did, Tenya liked to think he handled it with grace befitting the Iida family name. But he couldn’t afford to lose now, a thought that chilled him to the bone, threatening to trip him up, steal his breath.

Thirteen was injured, Tenya wasn’t even sure if they were alive. Mr. Aizawa was still fighting villains in the plaza, so it was up to Tenya to get help, even if he felt it was cowardly. He kept running, trying to ignore the lump in his throat.

“Ngh-” A warpgate appeared in front of him, and he was running towards it! Tenya skidded on his feet, the metal boots’ friction creating sparks against the floor. He couldn’t fall through the portal, he had to get reinforcements! And who knew what would be on the other side.

One of his classmates (Shouji, he believed) tackled the purple fiend, somehow able to hold him down with his six arms. Tenya silently thanked him and kept running.

The villain managed to escape, now catching up to Tenya again from above, a vengeful shadow. Tenya clenched his jaw, preparing to be swallowed up by the smoke. Suddenly, the shadow disappeared.

“Go, Iida, I’ve got him!” He heard Uraraka shout. Tenya didn’t look back, trusting that Uraraka and his other classmates could hold him back. Tenya could see the double doors and he kept running.

The doors were supposed to be automatic, but they clearly weren’t budging. Tenya began trying to pry them open, his arms straining. He knew he was stronger than most other kids his age, but he’d always had more lower body strength. He was so close! Sunlight and blue skies were peeking through the doors, a stark contrast to all the horrendous things that were currently taking place.

The doors groaned one last time before he finally pushed them open enough to slip through, and down the dirt path he shot like a rocket. He had to tell the first teacher he found what had happened, and then he was getting All Might. Surely the Number One Hero could do the job best! Tenya may have had a plan, but for once, that didn’t comfort him.

~~~

Izuku flinched at the resounding snap that Aizawa’s arm made as it was broken by the giant monster that the other guy called “Nomu”. He didn’t know what to do, what could he do? Aizawa’s elbow looked ghastly, his very skin had been flaking away. Izuku wanted to rush in and help his teacher, just as much as he wanted to shut his eyes tight, put his hands over his ears, and curl up in a ball, but he couldn’t move to take either course of action. He just stood there and listened to what the Hand Guy was saying.

“Your Quirk is pretty useful, Eraserhead,” the villain murmured, and his voice was soft, but Izuku could feel it on his skin, like a bunch of spiders. It was a horrible sound. “But it’s nothing special. Against crazy strength, you might as well be Quirkless.”

The Nomu grabbed a fistful of Aizawa’s long hair, picking his face up and slamming it into the pavement. Izuku felt sick. He could see Asui shaking her head out of the corner of his eye, hear her quiet “ribbit’s” of despair. Mineta was sobbing, his gloves over his mouth. Izuku was hit over the head with the simple fact that they were fifteen. He was an idiot to think that they could help their teacher when they were so out of their depth.

“Tomura Shigaraki.”

The warpgate villain materialized behind Hand Guy. “Ah, Kurogiri. Is Thirteen dead?” Shoot, Izuku had forgotten about Thirteen. Could they actually be-

“They’re incapacitated. But…a student escaped.”

Hand Guy stiffened. Izuku couldn’t see his expression, what he was feeling. The Hand Guy began muttering murderous threats and scratching his neck, increasing more and more. Surely, that hurts him? Suddenly, he stopped. “If the Pros are coming, it’s game over, back to the title screen. For now, at least. We’re leaving.”

“Leaving? We’re saved!” Mineta cheered, hugging Asui from the side, not-so-subtly trying to reach for her boobs. She quickly pushed his head under the water and held him down despite his struggling with a blank and seemingly unbothered expression, only a slight blush giving away her discomfort. Izuku empathized for her, he really did. He’d been confused for a girl enough times to know that being touched when you didn't want to be sucked, especially when it devolved into full-on harassment. He’d wanted to prevent that when he became a Hero.

“I’ve got a bad feeling, Midoriya,” Asui said.

“I hear you. Leaving so suddenly after all this effort?” It didn’t make sense. Izuku hated being in the dark like this. Hand Guy (the warpgate had called him Shigaraki) had said that the game was over for now. They hadn’t given up on killing All Might. Which meant they’d keep coming back, over and over, until he was dead. Izuku gulped, the water he was standing in feeling colder than it had a moment ago. He wanted out, to be home and curled up in his weighted blanket with the best fuzzy texture. But he wouldn’t leave his classmates or teachers!

“But before that, let’s leave a few dead kids to wound the pride of the Symbol of Peace,” Shigaraki said. Faster than Izuku could process, he was suddenly standing over them, reaching a hand out towards Asui’s face. Her mouth was open and her eyes widened in fear, the most emotion he’d seen from her so far. All Izuku could think about was how Aizawa’s elbow had cracked and crumbled until he could see the muscle. Now Asui-

There was a pause, deadly silence permeating the room. His hand was barely a millimeter from Asui’s face, the girl not even daring to breathe. “Heh,” Shigaraki chuckled. “You are pretty cool, Eraserhead.”

Mr. Aizawa had cancelled his Quirk, even in his state, his red eyes flashing, even as blood gushed down his forehead. The Nomu smashed his face into the ground again. Izuku took the chance and closed his hand into a fist. “I won’t let you hurt Asui!” is what he meant to say, but it probably came out as a garbled mess what with how frayed his nerves were.

“Nomu.”

Wham! Izuku’s fist made contact and the air rippled around him from the force of his blow. But this didn’t feel like the other times Izuku had used One For All. His arm…it wasn’t broken? He knew his punch had connected. Did that mean he’d finally gotten control of it? He looked up and his mouth dropped open. He hadn’t hit Shigaraki at all. The Nomu had blocked his way. But he wasn’t hurt at all! How?!

“That’s quite a move,” Shigaraki said. “Are you a fan of All Might?” Izuku tried to quell his racing thoughts. They were going to die because of his idiocy. He wanted to scream, but his vocal cords refused to work. He wanted to find a dark and silent corner and just stay there until he disappeared. He wanted his mother. He wanted-

The doors of the USJ flew off their hinges with a loud bam! “Speak of the devil and he shall appear,” Shigaraki muttered.

All Might was standing in the doorway, his muscular form casting an even greater shadow. It felt like time had stopped. Izuku should have felt hopeful, relieved that the Number One Hero had come to save them. But all he saw was All Might’s face and a shiver trailed down his spine. He wasn’t smiling.

“Fear not. I am here.”

Chapter Text

Was Toshinori mad? No. He was furious. How could he have let this happen? Just the look of fear in Iida’s eyes as he rushed through an explanation was enough to make his blood boil. He was well aware of his limit, especially right now. Why did these villains have to attack today? Still, he couldn’t let his students and colleagues fight without him.

Thirteen and Eraserhead were incapacitated, that much was certain. Thirteen seemed to be alive at least, and they had a couple of the students watching over them. Eraserhead’s status wasn’t as clear. Those wounds to the head and the broken arms didn’t ease Toshinori’s concern for his fellow staff member at all. He had to get him out of here. Toshinori would never forgive himself if he had to tell Yamada that he had failed to save his husband.

He bounded forward, the force with which he pushed off leaving a mark in the ground. He raced toward the huddled black mass, knocking villains in his way unconscious with a few well-placed hooks, which he imagined felt not unlike being hit by a basketball that was thrown at 450 kilometers an hour. Toshinori bent over and picked up Eraserhead, who looked incredibly tiny and frail, so different from the image that he usually displayed.

The next priority was Young Midoriya. Quick as he could manage, he pulled his young successor, Asui, and Mineta out of the water and set them down out of the villain’s reach. Midoriya was breathing erratically, even more so than Asui or Mineta. Hopefully he wasn’t too hurt.

Toshinori set Eraserhead down gently. “Everyone to the entrance. Take Aizawa with you and see that he gets medical attention as soon as possible.”

“All Might, that brain villain was impervious to my attack-” Midoriya started. Toshinori turned back to him and smiled.

“Do not worry, Young Midoriya,” he said. He stuck his thumb up. “I’ve got this.”

~~~

“Gotta find Deku, gotta get out of this shithole…” Bakugou had been mumbling words around those lines for the past half hour. Eijirou had never taken him for one to suffer from separation anxiety, but Bakugou was full of surprises. Eijirou wiped some grime off his face, though he probably just made it worse. The other boy wasn’t even facing in his general direction. They were making their way to the plaza, having fought their way out of the city area. Bakugou was walking ahead of Eijirou, his pace quick, angry steps.

“Hey, don’t worry, I’m sure he’s fine-”

“You don’t understand!” Bakugou barked. “I have to protect that little shit! He’s got no sense of self-preservation, he’s gonna fucking die if I’m not there!” He heaved a deep sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Why’d you change your hair?” he asked, the subject changed entirely.

Eijirou shrugged. “I don’t know, I just felt like trying something new.” It had taken him forever to get his hair exactly how he wanted it the first time. It still wasn’t easy, but he was slightly faster at it now. He’d never dyed his hair before, and he almost forgotten to bleach it first, had his mom not walked in and corrected him. Eijirou was proud of his hair, it was so much more manly looking than the plain, black hair he’d had before.

“Looks shitty.”

Eijirou rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you’ve said that before.”

“Doesn’t make it any less true.”

What was this guy’s deal? Why was he always trying to start a fight? Eijirou considered himself to be a very patient person, so he wasn’t angry, mostly just confused. How had a person like this become so protective of, and so close to a kind person like Midoriya?

Eijirou wanted to change the subject. “You’re not wearing your binder.”

“What, you offended by my tits? Fuck off.”

“No, dude, it’s cool! I’m glad you took my advice. I mean, I’m trans too, so I know it can be-”

“What.” Bakugou’s voice was very low, a far cry from his usual volume. He had stopped walking and wheeled around to stare at him.

Eijirou blinked. “Um, I’m a trans guy too. Oh, wait, I’m stupid, I know some people who wear binders aren’t guys, um, what are your pronouns-”

“I am a guy, Hair For Brains!” Bakugou shouted. He crossed his arms and looked down, his frown just a fraction less intense. “I’ve just never met another trans guy. I guess it makes me feel a little less weird to know there’s someone else in this class who’s like me.”

“Is that why you didn’t know? ‘Cause my scars are pretty obvious,” Eijirou said, pointing to his chest. He’d gotten top surgery last year, so the scars were still pretty new though they had healed. His moms and Mina had thrown a party to celebrate. Getting the surgery had also inspired Eijirou to design his Hero costume without a shirt, so all the other kids like him could see him and be encouraged to be themselves, which was basically the manliest thing he could think of. But he could see how Bakugou might not have considered the possibility of them to be from surgery.

“Whatever.” Bakugou started walking again. After a moment, he added, almost like an afterthought. “Don’t think this makes us friends, Shitty Hair.”

And in that moment, a switch went off in Eijirou’s brain. He decided right then and there that he would be Katsuki Bakugou’s friend, even when the other boy said they weren’t, even when they argued or disagreed, even when other people begged him to reevaluate his choice in companionship. If Midoriya could see something good in him, he’d find it too. He’d already seen a glimpse of it in Bakugou’s moment of humanity. Was Eijirou clinically insane? Maybe. Did he think this through at all? Not even for a second. All he knew was that he was going to befriend Bakugou so hard.

“You’ve never seen Alice in Wonderland? Have you been living under a rock this whole time?!” Hagakure exclaimed.

“Keep your voice down, we don’t want to attract more villains,” Shouto said. For a design that specialized in stealth, this girl talked a lot. “And I haven’t been living under a rock. It would have had to be a pretty big rock.”

“I don’t mean literally. It’s a metaphor.” Oh. Shouto had never been good at detecting metaphors. He thought that people should just say what they mean without trying to hide behind some fancy imagery. This is why he hated socializing.

“I’m gonna lend you the movie after today,” she said. “It’s got hand-drawn animation, and it’s a little trippy, but I think you’ll like it.”

Shouto frowned. “Okay, thanks,” he said, because he wasn’t sure exactly what he should say in this situation. He’d never really been given gifts from anyone other than his siblings or Momo.

“Do you not like animated movies?”

“No, I like them just fine.”

“You’re frowning,” she pointed out.

“Oh, sorry.” Had he been making the wrong expression again? Fuyumi and Natsuo had said that he did that sometimes. Had he disturbed Hagakure? For some reason, he felt a pang of disappointment in his chest.

“Don’t worry, it’s cool. I have a friend who does that all the time. Hey, is that All Might?” Shouto turned back to see she was right. The Symbol of Peace was fighting a villain even taller than himself, with a crazed bloodthirsty look in its eye and an exposed brain. If it was possible to feel colder, than Shouto did. “Come on, we have to help him.”

“Right!” Hagakure agreed.

Chapter Text

“And then All Might punched the bird guy through the ceiling and the villains got away through the warp bastard. The end.”

Katsuki looked up from the guinea pig occupying his lap to meet the eyes of his therapist. She stared back at him, the picture of exasperation. “That’s it? Katsuki, you have to give me something to work with here.”

“If you wanna know every miniscule detail, why are you listening to me instead of watching the fucking news?!” Katsuki shouted. Bigs huffed, like the guinea pig had been expecting the outburst. He’d had to listen to quite a few of those in the past ten months.

“Because you’re my client, Katsuki, and I like to hear how you’re doing,” she deadpanned. “If you’re having nightmares or panic attacks, call me. But, other than the villains hijacking your field trip, how are you liking your new school?”

He shrugged. “Fine. The homework’s easier than I expected, though some of the extras in my class are having trouble with it.”

“You could offer to help them with it,” the therapist said, sipping her water.

Katsuki frowned. “Why would I do that? If they can’t drag their own weight, they should just go home already.”

“Everyone has their skill set. Just because somebody isn’t good at geometry doesn’t mean they can’t be a great Hero.”

“Well, maybe I don’t want to help them, okay?” Katsuki growled, his hands starting to smoke as he took them off Bigs’ fur. “Maybe I don’t need friends to be a functioning person in society or a Hero! Maybe I don’t deserve friends after what I did to the last one I had!” Fuck, he hadn’t meant to spill that shit in front of her. Therapy fucking sucked.

She nodded her head and she had that stupid pitying look in her eyes that Katsuki hated so much, the same one he’d always seen from Deku. “Katsuki, you deserve to be happy. No one who is trying to change for the better doesn’t. You made some very big mistakes, that’s true. But you won’t do it again, and you know why?”

“Why?” Katsuki spat.

“Because you feel sorry,” his therapist said. “You feel sorry for your mistakes and you've learned. That’s human nature. It’s also human to be afraid of making the same mistake again. Katsuki, you’ve corrected your wrongs, but you can’t be scared of socializing with others, especially not with all the teamwork and attention that comes with the profession.”

Katsuki was quiet for a few minutes, mulling over what she had said. It’s true, the amount of guilt and self-loathing he felt for the past was immeasurable. But what if he slipped up, let his mouth run ahead of his mind? He thought back to his interactions with Shitty Hair, how he’d taken his insults in stride, how easy it would have been to allow himself to be vulnerable. How long until he reached his limit, realized that Katsuki was trash and threw him away? And what about Deku and his other classmates? They already saw him as a horrible person, and how could he change their views of him? Deku was only nice to him because that’s what he did with people he pitied. Katsuki let him be nice to him because he had to make up for it. He had to let Deku be happy because he deserved it more than Katsuki did. So did Shark Face, so did their classmates. They were all there to become Heroes, probably with good reason, while Katsuki did it now…to be the best. To atone. Those were his reasons for getting out of bed in the morning.

If he allowed himself to get up because there were people waiting for him, how would he be able to go on once they eventually left him?

~~~

“Still think you need those sessions, brat?” Katsuki’s mother asked, her voice like a rusty knife, scraping away at Katsuki’s defenses, little by little. He really didn’t want to be having this conversation again, wished he could jump out of the car into the ongoing traffic like a girl he’d seen in a movie do once.

“Yeah, I like them,” he mumbled under his breath, staring out the window. The sky was orange, the sun going down behind them. That cloud kinda looks like a rabbit, he thought, aware that he wouldn’t be left alone at least until the car reached its destination.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you! And, Kaori, what have I told you about muttering? No one can fucking understand you when you mutter!”

Katsuki gritted his teeth. “It’s Katsuki, hag,” he hissed.

She shook her head in frustration. “You know this is just a phase, right? C’mon, where’s my sweet, little girl?” False sweetness had dripped into her voice, like honey. Katsuki felt sick from it.

“I was never a girl. I’ve always been Katsuki.”

“You’re so ungrateful, you know that?” She was yelling now. “I let you cut your hair short, even though it makes you look like a dyke, I bought you that male uniform, and you’re still complaining! You really don’t make this easier! You need to grow up!”

“Shut up!”

Slap. Katsuki’s cheek immediately began to sting. He was sure there was a mark on his face from where that bitch had hit him. “Don’t you ever take that tone with me, you piece of shit! I give you a roof over your head and food on the table and this is how you repay me? When you broke your hearing aids, who paid for another pair? You’re so fucking ungrateful, a waste of space! When we get home, you’re gonna go straight to your room and not come out, do you hear me? No dinner!”

“F-fuck you.” He hated the way he’d faltered while saying it. He hated her, he hated his father for never helping him when she got like this, he hated his room, which he spent so much time locked in, he hated his closet of dresses that he had never wanted, he hated it all.

~~~

Izuku took off his headphones, pausing for a moment, listening. He swore he had heard something.

Tap, tap, tap. Izuku turned around. It was coming from his window. He sat up from his desk, stretching as he did, and made his way over to it.

“K-Kacchan?!”

Bakugou climbed in through the open window. He was wearing a black hoodie, the hood pulled over his head, like he was some kind of regular teenage hooligan that old people like to go on about, vandalizing yards and what not. It was just like when they were little, Bakugou would sneak in through Izuku's window all the time. It hadn't happened in years though. Izuku looked around outside before shutting the window. “What are you doing here?”

“Can I stay here, just for the night?” Bakugou asked after a long pause.

Izuku frowned, realizing just how serious the matter was. “Your mother, does she know you’re gone?”

“Don’t think so. I can sneak back in in the morning. I just didn’t want to be around that bitch anymore.” Bakugou removed his hood and Izuku gasped. There was a large, vaguely hand-shaped, pink mark on his cheek.

“Your face! Did she-”

“Yeah.”

Izuku tried to swallow back his anger. For as long as he could remember, Katsuki had been mistreated by the monster that he knew as his mother. Izuku didn’t think he was a very hateful person, but Mitsuki Bakugou was one person he wouldn’t miss if she suddenly met a horrific fate. He had always been thankful that his own mom was so kind and supportive. “Do you need an ice pack? I can get you one, just let me tell my mom you’re here. She’ll want to make you dinner if you haven’t eaten already.”

“Okay.”

~~~

“Katsuki.” Inko Midoriya stood in the doorway of Izuku’s room, staring at Katsuki like she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“Hey, Auntie,” Katsuki said, smiling weakly.

She took a couple of hesitant steps toward him. He shut his eyes tight, waiting for the questions, the screaming, the humiliation and guilt. Why haven’t you visited in nearly ten years? Why did you bully my son so horribly? How dare you show your face now, you utter dick? But none of that came.

Instead, he was wrapped in two gentle, warm arms, squeezing around his torso. Slowly, he brought his arms up to fold around the woman, the mom he always wished he’d had. Tears pricked his eyes and he wasn’t sure if the sobs were his or hers. All he knew was that he was safe right here.

Chapter Text

It was the first day back in school since the USJ. Izuku glanced around at his classmates, taking in how tired each of them looked. It seemed he wasn’t the only one who’d been affected by the attempt on their lives.

The only one who looked completely unchanged was Todoroki. Izuku remembered how he had acted during the fight in the USJ, how the only emotions he’d shown was mild surprise or dissatisfaction. He was able to take out dozens of villains with his ice, but that presented the question: If he was so powerful with just his ice, why didn’t he use his fire too? Izuku had barely spoken to Todoroki, so he knew he was in no place to pry, but he couldn’t help wondering. The other boy had been blessed with such a gift, it seemed a waste to never use it to its full potential.

“Ooooh, is this a crush I see?” Izuku snapped out of his thoughts, turning to Uraraka, who was grinning at him like she knew something he didn’t. “I don’t blame you. Even with that scar, Todoroki is pretty cute.”

“Wha-? No, it’s not like that at all!” Izuku protested, his face turning pink. Uraraka only grinned wider.

“Now, now, you shouldn’t tease him,” Iida said, but Izuku could see him fighting off a smile as well. “Midoriya, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Todoroki is very admirable, but please try not to let him distract you from your work too often.”

“Guys!” Izuku clapped a hand over both of their mouths. Then he felt something wet on his palm.

“Uraraka! That’s so gross!”

“Hey, you put a hand on my mouth, I’m gonna lick it. Them’s the rules!”

“That is horribly unsanitary! Midoriya, I demand that you wash your hands at once!”

“It’s not my fault, Iida!”

The class door slid open and any conversations going on died out instantaneously. Aizawa shuffled in, his face covered in bandages and both arms in slings, but you couldn’t call this man undedicated to his profession.

“Uh, sir?” Yaoyorozu raised her hand. “Are you sure you should be teaching today? You suffered extreme wounds in the attack, and it’s only been-”

“My welfare doesn’t concern you, Yaoyorozu.” The tall girl put her hand down, face flushed. “Especially since this class’ fight has just begun.”

Izuku’s stomach dropped. More villains? They’d barely survived the USJ attack, and he expected them to fight more bad guys? He hadn’t even gotten a full night’s rest since he’d almost died at the hands of Shigaraki. His dreams were always about that flaky hand reaching out, as if to grab his face, and fading away to dust. Or he’d have to watch Asui or another one of his friends meet the same fate. The worst parts were when he’d be fading into dust, and he’d be grateful.

Aizawa continued. “The UA Sports Festival is coming up.”

There was a collective sigh as the entire class let loose the tension in their shoulders and jaws. Just the Sports Festival. Just the Sports Festival, which would be televised live for the whole country to see. Just the Sports Festival where Pro Heroes will be watching and choosing who they’d scout out, where all great Heroes start. Suddenly, it didn’t feel like ‘just’ the Sports Festival anymore. Still, if Izuku had survived a villain attack, he’d be able to survive this, right? He’d still do his best to win, even if he’d be going up against Todoroki, or Uraraka, or Iida, or even Bakugou.

Uraraka and Kirishima jumped out of their seats. “I’m so pumped!” Kirishima yelled, throwing his fist into the air and high-fiving Kaminari, who was seated next to him.

“Deku, Iida,” Uraraka growled, her face almost matching Bakugou’s when he was about to launch himself into a fight. “We’re gonna crush the competition in the festival, got it?” Izuku almost cowered under the intensity of her glare.

“Uh, yeah!”

“Everyone!” Uraraka whirled around to face her other classmates. “I’m gonna win this thing!”

“Yeah!” Kirishima shouted back. They continued to feed into each other’s enthusiasm, getting more and more excited, until Iida finally picked up Uraraka and sat her back down in her seat so Modern Literature could begin.

~~~

“Excited for the Sports Festival, Bakugou?”

“Yeah, I just can’t fucking wait to crush you, Pikachu,” Katsuki responded, before roughly shoving the blonde nuisance off his desk. Why couldn’t he sit on his own shitty desk? And why’d he bother to ask him about how he felt, it wasn’t like he actually cared. Was the fucker taunting him?

Sparky chuckled. “I’m in danger.” Suddenly, Tape Arms and Raccoon Eyes appeared out of nowhere to giggle with him. Was that supposed to be funny? Katsuki rolled his eyes and considered taking his hearing aids out, just to make ignoring these idiots a little easier.

“Hey, Bakugou.” It was Shitty Hair again. He had barely left Katsuki’s side since the USJ, stuck to him like glue. Then like flies to honey, the others had started swarming around him as well. It was annoying, to say the least. “I know you probably don’t need it, but I wanted to wish you good luck in advance,” he said.

“Whatever, Hair for Brains,” Katsuki scoffed.

“Hey, you guys wanna walk home together?” Tape Arms asked. “We could stop by the convenience store and see how many jawbreakers Kaminari can fit in his mouth. My bet is five.”

“Ten!” Raccoon Eyes interjected, smiling like a madwoman.

“Hey, no one asked if I was okay with this!”

“We know you’re gonna do it anyway,” Raccoon Eyes replied. “You can’t turn down a dare.”

“You coming?” Shitty Hair looked at Katsuki hopefully.

“I’m not hanging out with you losers. I’m walking home with Deku anyway.” That wasn’t a lie. He and Deku had walked home together everyday since school had started. Sometimes Round Face and Glasses joined them, but Katsuki never talked with them if he could help it. Deku liked having them around for some reason, though, so he kept his mouth shut (most of the time).

“Oh, okay. Next time!” Shitty Hair didn’t miss a beat, his face showing no clear signs of disappointment. So why did that feel perturbing to Katsuki? Why did he care if his classmates wanted him around or not? They were just obstacles, mere props in his rise to the top. He’d destroy any of them without regret in the festival, they were beneath him.

“Ready to go, Kacchan?” Deku asked, his bag all packed. It seemed they wouldn’t be accompanied by Round Face or Glasses today.

“Yeah. Let’s go, nerd.” Katsuki stood and they began the walk home. He thought he could feel Shitty Hair’s eyes on his back as he went, but he didn’t turn around to check.

“You’re getting popular,” Deku pointed out with a teasing smile. “Not that I’d expect anything less.”

“I don’t care about any of them,” Katsuki said, kicking a rock with his shoe. “They’re not gonna stop me from winning the Festival, classmates be damned.”

Deku sighed. “You know, I heard about this thing from Iida, it’s called ‘friendly competition’. Basically, what we have now.”

“Lies and blasphemy.” They both chuckled a little. Deku bumped his shoulder with his own, a move he never would have attempted a year ago. He really had gotten braver since he’d accepted All Might’s power, a fact that made Katsuki sort of proud. Though maybe because it was proof that what he had done hadn’t caused too much lasting damage. Deku was fine, happy and healthy. Katsuki hadn’t screwed him up. (Lies and blasphemy, a little voice echoed in his head. They both knew what Deku had tried to do.)

“I think it’d be good for you,” Deku ventured, “to make more friends. Those guys seem to like talking to you, maybe you could talk back, just a teeny bit, with death threats kept to a minimum? You’ll be seeing a lot of each other in the next three years, might as well learn to cooperate.”

Katsuki shrugged, frowning. “That’s always been more your thing. I’m fine on my own, really.”

Deku’s eyes turned even sadder and that’s when Katsuki knew he was in trouble. Shit, he was bringing out the big guns. “Please, Kacchan. For me?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. “Fine,” he finally got out through clenched teeth. “But not because your puppy eyes schtick worked on me.”

Deku smiled. “Thank you. Hey, my mom’s making spicy chili tonight. If you’re able to stop by…”

“Yeah, why the hell not?” Katsuki grinned.

Chapter Text

Eijirou looked over the sea of people outside of his classroom. They were nudging each other, pointing and whispering. He was beginning to feel like an animal in a cage, like a circus attraction. He almost expected them to start throwing peanuts at them. He turned to Bakugou, who slung his bag over his shoulder. “Why do you think these guys are here?”

Bakugou rolled his eyes, something he did when he had heard something stupid. Bakugou ended up rolling his eyes a lot around Eijirou. “They’re scoping out the competition, dumbass. We’re the class who survived a villain attack, they wanna see what we’re made of,” he explained.

“Oh, thanks!”

Bakugou’s hands popped and sparked. “Don’t thank me for something so stupid, Shitty Hair!” Eijirou thought the positive reinforcement was working, little by little. It didn’t have to be anything big, just some nice words or a treat. He'd been inspired by the memories of having to train his German Shepherd, Cookie, as a puppy. Bakugou had accepted Eijirou’s extra-spicy taco on Taco Tuesday, and he’d started talking more, like he actually wanted to now that he knew he was being listened to. Eijirou knew that Bakugou wasn’t a dog, but if the method worked, he didn’t see why he should change it.

“Back off, extras,” Bakugou snarled to the people outside.

“You can’t call people you don’t even know 'extras'!” Iida said, his arms in action. Eijirou had laughed the first time he'd seen his extravagant arm movements, but he was used to it now. Iida was a pretty cool, manly dude, even if he could be uptight sometimes.

Midoriya just sighed. “Wait up, Kacchan.”

The crowd shifted, making way for a tall guy with fluffy, purple hair. Once he was in the front, he gave everyone in the classroom a long, tired look. He had crazy bags under his eyes, like he hadn’t slept in the last decade. It was a wonder this guy was still standing.

“Well, aren’t you modest?” the living zombie commented. “We came to get a look, true. Are all the kids in the Hero Course like you?”

“Hah?” Bakugou sneered.

Purple Guy rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s just that I was expecting more is all.”

“Shinsou, maybe you shouldn’t provoke him,” a girl said.

"Shinsou" shrugged her off. “A lot of us are from General Studies. I wanted to be in the Hero Course, but as you can see, that didn’t happen. But, there’s still hope for me, yet. Because the UA teachers have the power to transfer students they deem worthy into the Hero Course.” He tilted his head. “I wonder whose spot I’m going to steal. I mean, if they transfer a kid in, they’ve gotta make room, right?”

Class-1A looked to their resident bombshell to see what he’d do. And to almost everyone’s utter surprise, he simply readjusted his bag and walked out, shoving people out of his way as he went. Eijirou had been expecting a fight, but he was pleasantly proved wrong. Why did Bakugou choose to walk away?

“Hey, you’re just gonna leave?” he asked.

Bakugou looked back at him. “These guys don’t matter. I’m not gonna let them get in my way.” And he was gone, Midoriya following after him, Uraraka and Iida bringing up the rear.

Eijirou clenched his fist. Such a manly exit! He knew that there was something he liked about Bakugou!

“A declaration of war!” Kaminari exclaimed. “Man, things are getting heated! Is it bad that I’m kinda nervous?”

“Same,” Mina said. “I hope I don’t end up fighting that guy.”

“I wonder what his Quirk is,” Sero said. “I mean, it’s gotta be something super strong if he’s that confident, right?”

Eijirou exhaled. Count to ten. He’d be on live television for the whole country to gawk at. He knew his moms and younger siblings would be watching. He just hoped that Present Mic, the announcer for UA events, would use the name that he went by. If he got deadnamed in front of the entirety of Japan, he might actually cry. And that would not be manly.

~~~

Tsuyu knew she didn’t have a Quirk that seemed intimidating at first. In fact, she was often underestimated for it. So it pleased her when Uraraka approached her to ask if they could spar in preparation for the Sports Festival. Tsu had barely hesitated in agreeing.

It was just that Tsu happened to think highly of her classmate. She thought highly of all her classmates, tried to appreciate their strengths and skills. The lone exception was Mineta, of course. That boy made her skin crawl in awful ways.

Tsu’s tongue shot towards Uraraka, intending to wrap around her arm, but Uraraka dodged to the left, her short ponytail swinging. Tsu retracted her tongue and jumped to the walls and climbing swiftly to the ceiling, zigzagging to disorient her partner. She positioned herself just above Uraraka and pushed off, dropping down on top of her sparring partner. Uraraka hadn’t moved fast enough, and was now pinned beneath her.

Suddenly, Tsu felt lighter than air. She began floating, slowly coming up off the ground against her will. Uraraka got on her feet and put her fingertips together, releasing her Quirk and setting Tsu down.

“That was fun,” she said, panting. She smiled despite the sweat and dirt on her face. “How long have we been doing this?”

“About forty-five minutes, ribbit,” Tsu replied. “Need to take a break?”

“Yeah,” Uraraka said, nodding. “Thanks for not going easy on me.”

Tsu blinked, tilting her head. “Why would I do that?”

Uraraka only laughed breathlessly. “Never change, Asui.”

“I told you to call me Tsu.” She knew that some of her classmates had trouble with using first names when they’d only known each other for half a month, but she really wished they could remember to use hers. She was rather proud of it, seeing as she’d picked it out herself, after she realized she was trans. UA had been her chance to start over as Tsu because no one here knew her before her transition. She hadn’t even told anyone yet, not wanting to only be known as “the trans kid”. Tsu knew she was more than that, which is what she wanted people to see.

“Sorry, Tsu,” Uraraka apologized, scratching the back of her head. “Habit, I guess. But if I can call you Tsu, you can call me Ochako, if you’d like.”

“Ribbit,” Tsu agreed. Ochako is so kind and strong, she thought as she watched her partner clean her scraped knee before placing a Spongebob band-aid over it. Tsu liked to think that Ochako would be a very popular Hero when she graduated. But that raised the question: Why did Ochako decide to become a Hero? Tsu did it because she’d always had to protect and do things for her little brother and sister. She liked to help her friends and the people around her, it made her feel good to know that she was doing something useful to the world as she trained. Was Ochako the same way, or was there a different reason?

“Hey, Ochako.”

“Yes?” The other girl turned to face her, her big brown eyes swiveling to look back. Tsu’s tongue went dry. Something was stopping her from asking, but what could it be? It was just a question, so why did she falter? Logic had abandoned her and she could feel the tips of her ears grow hot. What had she been meaning to say again?

“Good luck in the festival, ribbit,” she found herself saying.

Ochako beamed. “Thanks! You too!” Tsu’s heart fluttered inside its ribcage. What was going on? Was she getting sick? That would be very bad timing, considering the big event coming up in just a couple days. Hopefully, it would pass and she’d be at her best by then.

Chapter Text

Katsuki stomped down the stairs two at a time, his phone in hand. Good morning, Bakugou! I know I already said it, but good luck in the festival, man! the text from ‘Smiley Shark’ read. It hadn’t been the first message he’d sent since he’d been added to Katsuki’s contacts. He texted nearly everyday, whether it was about the homework of the day or just to send some weird meme. Katsuki had started waking up and checking his phone first thing in the morning, like it was a new step in his routine. He hated how much he looked forward to it, nor how much he liked responding, even if it was short and often rude. Shitty Hair never seemed to mind.

He wouldn’t admit how nervous he was, though the dysphoria certainly didn’t help. He wasn’t wearing his binder, would anyone notice the curve to his chest and hips? Should he try packing? Calm the fuck down, Bakugou. You pass. He’d had a protein bar and a glass of orange juice for breakfast and if he had eaten anymore, he knew he would have puked. Fuck, why were his damn hands shaking?

“Hey, brat.” The hag spoke and Katsuki’s blood ran cold. He’d thought she’d left for work already. He’d been so close to the door, too. Shit, shit, shit.

“You’re gonna stop seeing that shrink of yours. I think she’s a load of bullshit, screwing with your head. If she’s not gonna fix you, we’ll have to find someone else.”

“What?” Katsuki’s voice was hoarse. “No! I’m not gonna stop seeing her. She’s the only one who listens to me! She doesn’t hit me or call me by my deadname! She’s a fucking delight compared to your crusty ass!” Damn, he’d spent way too much time around Pikachu. ‘Crusty ass,’ is something only he would say, with the exception, perhaps, being Raccoon Eyes. Why was he even thinking about them?

“Don’t be weak, Kao-!” Mitsuki slammed her palms down on the table, but Katsuki plucked his hearing aids out, stuck them in his back pocket, flipped off his mother, and ran like a madman to the door. There would be hell to pay when he got back, but he couldn’t think about that. He had a festival to win. He’d show her. The announcer would be using his name. People would be talking to her about ‘her son’ for a long time afterwards, and the thought of that made his lips curl into a smile, even if it didn’t quite feel natural.

~~~

Finally, the day everyone had been waiting for: the festival was today! Izuku breathed in and out slowly before popping the pill in his mouth and swallowing it down with water. His medication tasted as bitter as always, but the alternative was not taking it, ruining his schedule, and having a meltdown, and he had picked his poison.

“Good luck, honey! I’ll be watching! I love you!”

“Bye, Mom, love you too!”

The students competing in the festival would be waiting in different ‘prep rooms’. Izuku managed to find the one for his class and opened the door. He hadn’t been the first to arrive by a long shot, but the room wasn’t full yet. Everyone was dressed in their gym uniforms, which made sense. The Sports Festival allowed usage of Quirks, but costumes were a big no-no. Izuku had already changed into his own, so he moved to go over to Uraraka and Iida as soon as he spotted them.

“Midoriya.”

A voice from behind him made Izuku stop in his tracks. Todoroki met his gaze steadily, his face kept neutral as ever. Izuku gulped. He’d hardly spoken to the other boy before. Why was he talking to him now? “Y-yeah? What is it?” Gosh, he’s so much prettier up close. Ugh, can’t think about that now.

“Objectively speaking,” Todoroki said, “I’m stronger than you.”

Okay, that’s not what I was expecting, but alright. Todoroki wasn’t wrong, he did have a very powerful Quirk and a much better handle on it than Izuku did for One For All. He also had size going for him, a full four inches taller than Izuku. And with a father like the Number Two Hero, it was safe to assume that he had way more combat training. Izuku felt like shrinking in on himself, like climbing into a dark hole and never coming out. Useless, weak, delusional. Wait, what was Todoroki saying again?

“But you have All Might in your corner, don’t you?” That got his attention.

“What? No, he-”

“He sometimes eats lunch with you, he visited you while you were in the infirmary after combat training, and your costume is sort of similar to his. You two aren’t subtle about whatever your relationship is, but I don’t care about that.” His heterochromic eyes narrowed. “Just let him know that I will beat you.”

“Ooooh! Another declaration of war!” Kaminari grinned, the air around him crackling with his enthusiasm.

Sero nudged his arm with his shoulder. “Yeah, and from one of the strongest in the class!”

Yaoyorozu pursed her lips in some form of disappointment and/or exasperation as she watched Todoroki. Izuku knew that they hung out a lot, especially with their seats being right beside each other at the back of the class. Is she his girlfriend? That didn’t sit right with him for some reason. Perhaps it was just Todoroki being so offstandish that it seemed unlikely for him to be dating someone? Yeah, that had to be it.

“Hey, man, we all wanna do our best-” Kirishima tried to put a hand on Todoroki’s shoulder, but it was brushed off. Kirishima shivered, like he’d just touched an iceberg with no gloves.

“I don’t care.” Todoroki’s tone was as icy as his Quirk. “I’m not going to pretend to be anyone’s friend here.” A fire had sparked in Izuku’s stomach and he suddenly felt a lot less tiny. What would Kacchan do? He swallowed before speaking, his mouth moving on autopilot. “Todoroki, I’m not sure why you felt the need to tell me you’ll beat me. I mean, you’re right, you’re clearly stronger and more skilled than me, by a long shot.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up, Midoriya,” Kirishima interjected.

The fire was growing brighter, larger. Izuku looked into Todoroki’s calculating eyes, something he didn’t often do for more than a second usually, but he didn’t flinch. “But it’s not just you aiming for the top! The General Studies kids, Class-1B, even the people in this room! And I’m no exception. I’m not gonna fall behind. I’m going for it too, with everything I’ve got!”

Silence permeated the room, no one even daring to breathe. Did Todoroki even need to blink? After eons, he finally turned around with a quiet, “fine,” and that was that. Less than a second later, Present Mic’s voice burst out of a speaker in the prep room, making everyone jump. It was time to start the show. Izuku exhaled, counting by prime numbers, like his therapist had taught him. A fine start to the day, already making enemies. Plus Ultra, I guess.

Chapter Text

“How’re you feeling, man?” Shark Face asked as they walked onto the field.

Katsuki smirked. He hadn’t been joking when he said he was excited to crush it. Tons of agencies would be begging for him by the end of this. His mother would eat her words. He was the opposite of weak, he was the strongest here. Even if he was making an attempt to be tolerant of his classmates, that didn’t mean he was going to go easy on them, not by a long shot. “I’m doing fucking amazing,” he said. As long as you don’t fail, whispered the voice in his head.

Shut up, he said back.

Deku nudged his shoulder. “Don’t you have to do a speech?”

“The pledge.” Katsuki had never volunteered to do the stupid pledge. He had been selected to do it because of how he’d gotten the highest score in the entrance exam, but he’d never had a choice in the matter. His mother had said he’d do it before telling him, which had lead to the 1,378th scorch mark on his bedroom walls. (He was starting to run out of room.) Yeah, he’d do the fucking speech. She’d be watching. You’re afraid of what she’ll do, the voice spoke again.

Fuck off, Katsuki said.

Once everyone had gathered in the stadium, the referee stepped up onto the stage. It was one of Class-1A’s teachers, Midnight. On the outside, she didn’t look like she belonged in a high school, especially with her dominatrix persona that she used in public. But she was actually a pretty okay teacher, in Katsuki’s opinion. Her lectures were easy to follow along to, and she allowed phones in class while they did homework, so they could listen to music as they worked. There was also the time she’d caught the Grapist trying to take lewd pictures of the girls and had taken away his phone, only to put a bunch of videos on it of her squashing grapes under her four-inch heels. The look of utter terror on his face could never fail to bring Katsuki joy.

“Now for the student pledge!” Midnight announced. Oh, guess it was his time to shine. Some of his classmates gave him a thumbs up and a smile as he went up the steps. Cheesy bastards. He approached the microphone and looked out onto the sea of people. All of them watching, waiting for him to say those oh so meaningless words.

“I just wanna say…I’m gonna win.”

The reaction was immediate. His mother would be screaming. (He was in so much trouble.) Katsuki turned around and walked back off the stage, ignoring Glasses’ outrage that he wouldn’t “respect the dignity of such an important event”. Deku had put his forehead in his hand. He could see Shitty Hair biting back a smile though, and that somehow made it even better.

“I know you’re trying to seem more confident than you are, Kacchan. But do you really have to drag the rest of us down with you? People think 1A is full of egotistical jerks now!” Izuku groaned.

Katsuki tried to shrug nonchalantly. Izuku could still read him like a book. He knows, and if he knows, everyone knows.

Don’t you have anything better to do? Was he going insane? These unwanted voices were really starting to piss him off.

“Thank you, Bakugou!” Midnight cheered, seemingly unfazed by his zeal. “Let’s get the first event started! It’s the…Obstacle Course Race!”

Oh, this’ll be fun, Katsuki thought. He listened to his teacher explain the rules before taking his place at the massive gateway, waiting for the countdown. There was a ding! and he immediately brought his palms up, propelling himself over the crowd and toward the exit. Below him, ice spread across the ground, trapping tons of contestants by their legs. It had to be the work of that bastard, IcyHot. Katsuki wouldn’t lose to the likes of him, declaration of war be damned. Half-n-Half shouldn’t have wasted it on Deku.

Shouto ran ahead of the pack, his boots leaving icy footprints as he went. He didn’t waste time looking back to see who had evaded his trap. Momo most likely had expected it and found some way over it, some of his classmates could take to the sky, and others could simply melt or break the ice with a single blow. The ice he’d created in the gateway wouldn’t hold any of his opponents forever, so he couldn’t slack off now. He’d come in first, undeniably, and he’d do it with only his right side. He wondered what his older siblings were thinking as he watched them back home. It reminded him of the times they’d sit in front of the television and watch the Sports Festival as children. It was a very distant memory, one from before his mother had lost her mind, before his Quirk had manifested, before the Touya Debacle. There was no small number of things he’d trade to go back to that time.

Shouto realized that the ground was shaking beneath his feet and he slowed, eventually coming to a stop. A giant robot stood above him, its metallic claws clacking menacingly. A single red “eye” glared at him, making him a target. Shouto thought that this had to be one of the robots from the entrance exam that the rest of the Hero Course, besides Momo, himself, and the two recommended students from 1B, had taken. The poor hunk of metal and wires had stood no chance. He kinda wished the staff had given them something more threatening, actually. It’d be even more of a disrespect to his father.

Shouto swept his arm up, ice springing from the earth to freeze the robot in its place, icicles hanging from it. He went on running between its legs. The others would think that his Quirk would be a blessing, a swift end to a potential problem. But the way he’d frozen them gave them another thing to worry about. How would they avoid the robots when they had been intentionally frozen in a way that made them off their balance?

He was especially curious to see how Midoriya would react. He was too smart to use his strange Quirk on the first couple of challenges. And while he wasn’t athletically unfit, he couldn’t just stronghand a massive piece of metal like that. No, he’d use his brain, and that was just one of the reasons that Shouto had challenged him for. He did pay attention to the class rankings, after all. Midoriya was in the top five smartest kids in Class-1A. And he had those notebooks studying Heroes and their strengths and weaknesses. Shouto knew he had to have recorded his classmates in them as well. What had been written about himself?

He heard the crashes of the robots falling behind him. He also heard the telltale explosions of Bakugou, another wildcard. He wouldn’t be giving up so easily either. For some reason, he almost felt familiar to Shouto. He knew logically that they had never met before, but something about Bakugou struck a chord with him. There was no time to think about that now, though. Only victory.

Chapter Text

“Tag, you’re it!” Denki said as she put her hands on a robot, electricity flowing down her arms and into it, powering it down. Beside her, Kyouka bat away an artificial arm with her earphone jacks, stabbing them into the robot instead and overloading it with the amplified sound of her heartbeat. Together, they ran past, dodging the smaller enemies since Todoroki had taken the big zero-pointer from the entrance exam.

“You know we can’t both win, right?” Kyouka asked, breathing hard.

“Well, with how far Todoroki is ahead of us…I’d say the chances of either of us winning are implausible,” Denki panted. “Still, we might be able to get into the Top 42!”

After a few hundred meters, they came to the next obstacle: Columns of earth standing ahead of them, connected only by rope. Denki looked down and gulped. She couldn’t see the bottom.

“I had thought about running away to join the circus when I was younger, but I hadn’t wanted to be the tightrope walker,” she said, making Kyouka bark out a laugh.

“Guess we’re just gonna have to crawl across,” Kyouka said. She turned her head to look at Tsuyu, who was already making her way across at a steady pace. “Wish I had a Quirk like hers for this. She’s like a giant treefrog.”

Denki was about to respond when she heard giggling behind her. A girl with pink dreadlocks and complicated-looking goggles was laughing to herself as she checked over her high-tech boots. “Heh, looks like it’s time for my babies to shine!” she said. “Take a good, long look, support companies!”

“She’s allowed to have that stuff?” Ashido asked from where she was standing with Uraraka.

The girl stopped giggling to fix her with an intent stare, despite her eyes being hidden by the goggles. “Don’t you get practical battle training in the Hero Course? As a member of the Support Department, I’m allowed to bring whatever gear I please, as long as it’s been designed and developed by yours truly! The name’s Mei Hatsume, for industries watching!”

A sharp arrow with a durable line attached shot out from Hatsume’s harness, embedding itself in a dirt column about twenty yards away. “Sit back and watch my babies do the work!” Hatsume said with sheer glee.

She leapt off the side of the cliff, falling until her boots were planted on the side of the column, her line holding strong. Her boots began whirring and she flew up and landed at the top of the column, her manic smile visible from where Denki stood. Smart girls were so pretty…

“Pretty cool, isn’t it?” A boy said unexpectedly from Denki’s right, making Denki jump.

“Hey, I know you!” she (no, he) exclaimed. “You’re the one from General Studies who threatened to steal one of our spots!”

The boy tilted his head. “It wasn’t an empty threat. I advise you to put more thought into your words going forth. You never know when they might be used against you.”

“What does that mea-” Cold. Denki felt a wave of cold rush over him, like an ocean, dragging him beneath the waves. Then, numb. He couldn’t feel anything but the light static in his brain. He screamed but it made no sound. He tried to fight it, but it felt like being stuck in quicksand. It was like he’d short-circuited. What was this?

And just like that, it was gone. Sound and color popped back into existence and his head pounded from the suddenness of it. The purple-haired boy was gone, Kyouka’s hands were on his shoulders, shaking him with obvious concern.

“Denki? Denki! Quick, how many fingers am I holding up?”

”Four,” he said, blinking a couple of times. He was slowly readjusting to everything again. “Ugh, that is one hell of a Quirk.”

“What happened? Your eyes just went blank.”

“I think…I think it was some kind of brainwashing,” Denki replied carefully. He didn’t know what had allowed that guy to take over his mind like that, but he knew he definitely didn’t want to be fighting him. Still, he couldn’t deny that it was a pretty neat power. He wouldn’t mind watching that boy in the rest of the festival, if he made it past this round.

He was kinda hot, in a zombie kinda way, his brain supplied.

Can’t catch me, gay thoughts, Denki responded, totally letting the gay thoughts catch him.

~~~

A minefield, huh? Shouto swept his eyes over the ground in front of him. The bombs weren’t hidden, and they likely weren’t enough to kill someone, just probably throw them off their feet. He’d still have to be careful about where he stepped. And using his Quirk at this point would give his opponents more of an advantage at this point than him. His breath was already starting to get a little misty.

“This crap isn’t gonna slow me down!” Shouto glanced back just in time to see something whiz past him. That something, he realized, was his firecracker classmate. Which meant that Bakugou now had the lead.

“Hey, Half-n-Half Bastard!” Red eyes bore into blue and grey ones with barely concealed fury. “You made your declaration of war to the wrong person!”

Shouto grabbed Bakugou’s arm and pulled him back. Bakugou twisted out of his grip to throw an explosion in his face. Shouto blocked his arm and pushed him back, all while minding his feet. In a strange sort of dance, they grappled with each other and weaved around the minefield as bombs went off behind them, people shouting as they were sent flying. But how long would it be until one of them misstepped? Which of them would be first to reach the stadium?

There was a loud eruption from behind, louder than the rest. Both of them turned to look and Shouto’s mouth dropped open. Who else but Izuku Midoriya was racing towards them from above, an avenging angel on a scrap piece of metal. Shouto’s heart beat faster. He had taken the lead from him and Bakugou!

“Oh no, you fucking don’t!” Bakugou yelled. His hands roared to life, propelling him forward to catch up to Midoriya. Not willing to be left behind, Shouto created a path of ice for him to use, without having to worry about triggering the bombs underneath. There was no time to worry about his inadvertently helping the others, he had to beat Midoriya and Bakugou!

Midoriya was falling, pitching forward, facing towards Shouto and Bakugou, who were neck and neck. In a nanosecond, their eyes met, and that seemed to harden his resolve. Before Shouto could comprehend just what the fresh hell was going on, he felt a foot plant hard on his back. Midoriya brought down the metal with a triumphant yell and that shot him to the lead. He hit the ground, rolled, and was running on his feet without pause. That was the moment that Shouto learned just how right he was to not underestimate Midoriya. And he promised to keep doing just that.

Chapter Text

“Wow, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you hated Midoriya or something,” Tape Arms said. The first 42 contestants who’d finished the race had gathered in the stadium. They’d be going on to the next round. All of Class-1A had made it.

Katsuki had come in third, behind Deku and Half-n-Half and directly before the girl with vines for hair. He hadn’t come in third since fourth grade, when he participated in the school spelling and tripped up on “methuselah”. The hag had thrown a bowl at him for it and he had spent the night picking shards of porcelain out of his leg.

“Shut it, Soy Sauce.” Katsuki glowered up at him. Ugh, why did that moron have to be so fucking tall?!

Of course he didn’t hate Deku, not like he had for so long. He didn’t have the right to hate him, not while living with himself after what he did. Guilt pricked hot in his gut like it had that very first day that Deku had jumped off the rooftop. Since then, he had made progress, his smiles looking more genuine and he was growing stronger, and that was good. He was good. Katsuki…was not. At least, that’s what made since to him. He wasn’t good, but he had to be the best because…

He didn’t want to think about it anymore. He put his hands in his spiky hair and tugged hard, sending sharp pricks of pain through his scalp. His palms heated up, quickly growing uncomfortable, but Katsuki didn’t pull them away. Katsuki’s mother’s voice rang in his ears and it was like all outside noise faded. You’re weak, you’re dumb, you’ll never be good enough, you’ll be lucky to not end up in prison, and you deserve to be punished-

“Hey, man, it’s okay. Everything’s fine. You gotta take deep breaths-”

Katsuki slapped Sparky’s hand away. His touch felt like fire. Who was he to tell him that everything was fine? He didn’t know anything. “Don’t fucking touch me, Pikachu.” He tried not to feel sorry about the small flash of hurt that was concealed beneath the concern that covered his classmate’s face.

Midnight was speaking again and Katsuki straightened his back. “It is time to find out what second event will be! Dying in suspense? It’s…the Cavalry Battle!”

Katsuki groaned internally as she explained it. Was he actually expected to work with the other idiots here? Well, Deku would be a good asset-Wait. No. No. From the moment the Festival began, Deku became a rival. Katsuki may like him as a person, but he couldn’t rely on him to take Katsuki to the top. He had to do that on his own, to prove that he was worthy of it. And if that meant taking the ten million-point headband from Deku’s green head, he’d do it without hesitation.

“Kacchan!” Shit, Deku was coming over, Round Face following him. Think of something, goddamnit.

“Soy Sauce, Shitty Hair, Raccoon Eyes! Get the fuck over here!”

“Yeah, dude?” Shitty Hair asked. (Katsuki had to suppress a small bit of joy out of being called that, like he was just another biological guy.)

“We’re a team now.” What the flying fuck was he doing? He didn’t like these people! He didn’t know how they could help him to victory. This had to be the most impulsive, moronic idea he’s ever had.

“Sure, why not?” Raccoon Eyes said. “With your power and brains, Ei’s stamina, my reflexes, and Sero’s…whatever it is that Sero does, we’ll be unstoppable!”

“Thanks, Ashido. You’re a real pal,” Tape Worm mumbled.

~~~

Izuku frowned. Bakugou had just…ignored him. He had to have heard him calling his name, had seen him coming his way. He didn’t have his hearing aids out, did he? But Izuku was close enough for lip-reading distance, he was sure. And Bakugou had just turned around and walked away.

Izuku then felt the frown fade away as he realized that he shouldn’t complain. He had asked Bakugou to make friends, after all. He seemed to have taken his words to heart, which was a step in the right direction. Ever since the incident in middle school, he’d been sort of clingy, in his own unique way. Izuku didn’t mind spending time with him, but he worried for his friend. He needed to learn to live independently again. You’re the reason he’s like this.

Ah, intrusive thoughts, my old friend, Izuku sighed internally.

“What are we gonna do now?” Uraraka asked. “First Iida, now Bakugou. We’re running out of options.”

“Say no more!” A girl with strange goggles among other contraptions shouted from behind Uraraka.

“You again!” Uraraka said.

“Me again!” the girl agreed. She lifted her goggles to reveal bright yellow eyes with crosshair pupils. “Mei Hatsume, Support Department!” She darted towards Izuku, getting uncomfortably close without blinking. He tried to back away, bright red, but she just got closer. “You’re in first place, inevitably pushed into the limelight, meaning, if I team up with you, my babies are sure to get noticed!”

She stuck a finger in his face, touching the tip of his nose. “Team up with me, Mr. First Place!”

“Uh, I-I don’t know, Hatsume-”

“But this would be beneficial for you as well!” Hatsume interrupted. “Surely there’s something to your liking!”

Izuku peered closer at her “babies”. “H-hey, that looks a lot like Air Jet’s jetpack. And what are these, hoversoles?”

”Yup!” Hatsume grinned, fiddling with a screwdriver on her belt. “I’ve looked at tons of Heroes, how their equipment makes their Quirks easier to use for taking out the baddies! You could call it a special interest!”

“No way, I love observing Heroes too!” Izuku exclaimed, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, his hands flapping. “Ever since I was three! How’d you get into it?”

Hatsume jerked a thumb at her chest, now freely tossing the screwdriver up and down and catching it with ease. “My dads are into the industry. They’ve designed equipment for Miruko, the Pussycats, and Thirteen, just to name a few!”

Izuku frowned. “Wow, sounds like you have some expectations to live up to. Aren’t you worried that you won’t step out of your dads’ shadows?”

Hatsume shrugged. “Sometimes, but I know that this is what I was meant to do. I love inventing, it’s like breathing for me! I can’t be exactly like my dads, I’ll be just as awesome in my own way!”

“That’s super cool,” Izuku murmured. He wished he had her confidence when it came to being All Might’s successor. His dream was to be the Number One Hero, like the Symbol of Peace himself, but could it really be attained? All Might, Bakugou, his mother, they’d all given him support, but what if he failed them? Izuku didn’t want to waste their efforts.

“Deku, I don’t think we have much in ways of defense,” Uraraka spoke, chewing on her lip. “And everyone’s already taken.”

“Not everyone,” he said, spying a certain bird-headed classmate standing off alone to the side.

Chapter Text

“Three, two, one!”

Everyone began rushing for Midoriya, as to be expected. It was a fight for the ten million and all those in the stadium knew it. Denki tried not to shock his teammates as they ran forward, Todoroki on Iida’s shoulders and Yao-Momo flanking the other side. He wished he had some cool music to play over everything, like an intense fight scene in action movies or those historical reenactments that he watched when they came on and he couldn’t get up to change the channel (Why did America even have a civil war, it should be obvious that slavery is bad, which is why Japan abolished it in 1590 A.D.).

Before the Cavalry Battle had started, he had been afraid that no one would want him on their team. Kyouka had immediately been dragged off by Hagakure without argument, which had stung more than a little. Denki wasn’t even in the upper half of the class in the Quirk Apprehension Test, so it had surprised him when he was picked to be on a team with Todoroki, Iida, and Yao-Momo, three of the smartest and most powerful people in the entire class, if not the grade. Honestly, he was feeling more than a little self-conscious standing next to them.

The plan was to wait on the sidelines as Midoriya’s team got tired from fending off the other competition. With about half the time left, they’d swoop in and take the headband. Denki thought that that plan was boring, but he didn’t really think he deserved a say in it. He trusted that Todoroki knew what he was doing, even if he wasn’t going to use his fire for some reason. Like, what? Denki wished he could use fire, but Todoroki really seemed to loathe it. Or rather, he seemed to loathe the person it came from. Denki knew he was in no place to ask about it, but he certainly found that interesting and perplexing. Why would Todoroki not get along with his dad, the freaking Number Two Hero?

Suddenly, he was snapped back to awareness by Todoroki’s command to move forward. Midoriya’s team had taken flight, Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow guarding them in the air. They had to catch up to him! Denki saw Bakugou jump off of Kirishima and his palms ignited, sending him careening towards Midoriya, saw his hand reach out to grab the headband…

~~~

He couldn’t do it. In the end, he was too fucking weak, just how the voice had predicted. (You must not want it badly enough.) Katsuki had stretched out, the tips of his smoking fingers brushing Deku’s curly hair-and he had frozen like a deer in headlights. All he saw was Deku’s face, streaked with tears, the burnt notebook, the burns he used to leave on Deku, his red shoes lying forlornly on the rooftop, Deku stepping off (holy fuck, you killed Deku, you, your fault, your fault, your fault)-

Tape wrapped around his waist, pulling him back. Katsuki hadn’t even realized he had been falling until he was back on Shitty Hair’s shoulders. He felt like he was suffocating, like when he wore his binder for too long, but this was so much worse. There were too many people touching him, too much noise, too much static in his brain. Goddamnit.

“Bakugou, are you alright?” Shark Face’s voice broke through, but it sounded like it was coming from underwater. His hands were on his scalp again, his hands crackling, it burned, but he wanted to feel something. Katsuki couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t fucking breathe-

“Bakugou, you’re gonna hurt yourself. Count to ten for me, okay? Can you do that, Bakugou? Breathe in and count to ten.”

Inhale. That’s what you should do. Katsuki did as was asked, counting to ten and then holding it.

“That’s it, you’re doing so good. Now, can you breathe out for ten? Keep doing that.”

Yeah, that was doable. Exhale. Inhale for ten. Exhale for ten. Repeat. Slowly, his mind began to clear and his throat opened again. Gentle hands took his away from his head. Katsuki blinked a couple of times, shaking his head. Shitty Hair was looking at him with something soft in his eyes and if that didn’t make Katsuki want to punch him-

The headband. Where the fuck did the headband go?

“Too easy. I had expected more from Class-1A.” A blonde boy with a shit-eating smirk on his very explodable face was twirling Katsuki’s headband around his finger tauntingly. “Honestly, having a panic attack at the Sports Festival? Not very heroic, I’d say. But thanks for making Class-1B’s job easier.”

His gaze bore into Katsuki’s soul, confident that he could make him look away first. Katsuki wasn’t going to give him that luxury and stared back, his natural scowl secured in its place. The other narrowed his eyes.

“Hey, aren’t you that kid from last year’s Sludge Villain Incident? You’ll have to tell me sometime about being completely vulnerable to a petty villain and having to be saved by All Might.”

That did it. Katsuki was going to tear his tongue out with his bare hands. Gone were the feelings of fear. “Kirishima…” he snarled. “There’s been a slight change in plans. We’re gonna murder every last one of those 1B losers!”

“You remembered my name!” Hair For Brains exclaimed. “Okay, just don’t make us regret this.”

~~~

Tenya wanted to win just as badly as everyone else did. That was why he didn’t join Midoriya and Uraraka’s team. They were his friends, and Tenya liked hanging out with them very much. Having friends was so exciting after going so long without any besides his brothers! But they were also his rivals, and he would treat them as such in the Festival. This was a competition, and he wouldn’t let their friendship keep him from shooting for the metaphorical stars. He hoped they understood.

Midoriya was a big threat because of his insightful tactics and determination. And that power of his was certainly something to behold, even if he couldn’t control it. Uraraka was just as formidable, for different reasons. She worked hard, harder than most, Tenya would say. She persevered and was good at improvising, which she had shown during the training exercise in the first week of school. There was a limit to her Quirk, but by the time she hit it, she could have done some serious damage.

Tenya spared a look at the clock. There was barely a minute left. If there was a time to use Recipro-Burst, it was now.

“Everyone,” he said, making sure his team’s eyes were focused on him, “there is little time left. I’m going to do something that will render me useless to you. Todoroki, make sure you grab that headband.”

“Iida?” Yaoyorozu frowned, her voice laced with confusion and concern.

“Got it,” Todoroki said.

“Wait, what?” Kaminari asked.

“Prepare yourselves.” Tenya’s engines fired up, the flames turning blue. He shot towards Midoriya’s team, his glasses pushing against his face from the G-force. He didn’t look to see if Todoroki was ready, only zooming past Uraraka as his engines gave out. Recipro-Burst could only be used for ten seconds before his engines stalled.

“What a turn of events!” Present Mic’s voice boomed over the speakers. “Team Todoroki got the ten million points!”

“Charge them!” Midoriya commanded.

“C’mon, guys! Let’s get our points back!” Uraraka shouted. They came running towards Tenya’s team, and Tenya could see the telltale glow of Midoriya’s strange Quirk flowing through his arm as he reached out to recapture the headband. Todoroki, taken by surprise, raised his left arm (his left arm!) to combat it, small flames licking his skin. And for a split second, Tenya thought he caught a flicker of…something on Todoroki’s face. He wasn’t the best at reading people, and yet…

Midoriya used his arm to slice through the flames, putting them out. He grimaced, but still managed to reach for Todoroki’s neck, pulling away the top headband. But, of course, that had been expected.

“Doth mine eyes deceive me? 70 points?! They tricked us!” Hatsume exclaimed indignantly.

“What a mad banquet of darkness,” Tokoyami grumbled.

“We’re doomed!” Dark Shadow sobbed.

“We switched the headbands!” Kaminari grinned. “Didn’t wanna make it too easy for ya!”

“Shouto, are you alright?” Yaoyorozu asked. Todoroki was holding his left arm in deep thought, his brows furrowed. He was muttering to himself intangibly as sweat rolled down the side of his face.

“Ten! Nine!” Present Mic had started the countdown. Midoriya started towards them once more. Explosions ripped through the ice wall that Todoroki had put up, Bakugou flying in, looking around frantically. So much chaos, and the count continued. Tenya thought his head was going to split as he tried to pay attention to so many things happening at once.

“Three! Two! One! And that’s a rap, listeners!”

“Wheeeeee!” Kaminari had short-circuited. He pumped his arms in dumb enthusiasm, two-thumbs in tandem. After a minute, Jirou appeared to take him to the nurse’s office, leading him away while talking to him in a quiet, light tone. Bakugou was enraged, banging his fist on the ground from where he had faceplanted as the rest of his team watched.

Tenya waited patiently until after the team placements had been announced before going over to Todoroki, who still seemed rather out of it. “Good job leading us to victory,” he said.

Todoroki stared at him in silence for a few seconds before speaking. “Usually, people go for a handshake after saying that stuff.”

Tenya gasped. “Oh, how unsportsmanship-like of me! It wasn’t my intention to offend you, and I offer my sincerest apologies-!”

“It’s okay,” Todoroki said. “It didn’t upset me at all.”

“It’s just that I’m not too fond of non-combatant physical contact without warning,” Tenya went on. “I prefer to show respect and affection in other ways, and I thought that you and I were similar in that regard.”

Todoroki blinked, long and slow. “Oh. Yeah, I guess we are,” he mumbled.

Tenya waited for him to say something more, but Todoroki didn’t speak again. He decided to ask: “Todoroki, would you perhaps like to eat lunch with Uraraka, Midoriya, and I? Yaoyorozu may attend if she so wishes as well, I know that you two are close.”

Todoroki paused, appearing to be mulling it over. “Actually, I need to speak with Midoriya about something. It won’t take long.” He started walking off without waiting for Tenya to reply.

“Oh, alright then. Our table is always open!” Tenya would be lying if he said he wasn’t disappointed. He disliked when he failed to understand things, and Todoroki was practically an enigma in physical form. Hopefully, Tenya might one day get to know the person under that cold exterior.

Chapter Text

Izuku shoved his fists in his pockets in an effort to conceal their shaking from Todoroki. He could hear the distant sounds of birdsong and the wind blowing through the trees. The sky was a pretty shade of cerulean. It was a nice day out. Even quieter was the sound of people, talking and laughing, living their lives. Their classmates were in the dining hall for lunch break, too far away to help. He could run away, but Todoroki was blocking the outside exit. One For All was too dangerous to use in a hallway like this. What if he killed Todoroki?

“Why are you looking at me like I’m going to beat you up?” Todoroki asked, breaking the silence, his eyebrow raised ever so slightly.

Izuku blinked. “Is-is that not what you dragged me here to do? We’re in an isolated area, there aren’t any cameras b-broadcasting anything or people to witness it. You-you’ve made it clear that you don’t like me, so…”

Todoroki sighed, closing his eyes. He leaned the back of his head against the wall. “It was nothing personal. During competitions, I play fair. Fighting you like this, would just be low.”

“O-oh, sorry.”

“Were you bullied as a kid, Midoriya?”

Izuku’s eyes widened in surprise and he looked down at his sneakers. He hadn’t expected that. “Uh, th-that’s kinda personal. I’m not sure I really-”

“The way you act, how you’re always on edge, always willing to please,” Todoroki went on, “it’s reminiscent of my sister.”

“Uh, w-what?” Izuku stuttered.

Todoroki opened his eyes and met Izuku’s. “You’re a Hero nerd, aren’t you? What do you know of my father, Endeavor?”

Izuku scratched the back of his neck. He was always happy to infodump to anyone who would listen, but where was this going? “He’s the Number Two Hero, his Quirk is Hellflame, he’s 45 years old-I’m sorry, I don’t see the point of this?”

Todoroki raised his left hand and Izuku flinched back. Todoroki paused before speaking, staring at his hand. “I made a promise never to use his power, so that way, he’s never control me completely. But you overwhelmed me enough to make me break that promise. Your power, it was startling. And its pressure had felt just like All Might’s had at the USJ.”

Izuku swallowed hard, his heart racing. Had Todoroki figured it out? Blackmail, that had to be why he dragged Izuku out here. Take a dive out of the ring, and your secret stays safe. He should have been more careful, All Might had trusted him. Useless, stupid, idiot…

“Are you All Might’s secret lovechild or something?”

Izuku’s downward spiral grinded to a halt. What. What the heck? Why would he-they didn’t look anything alike-what?? “Th-that’s not it at all, I swear! He’s not-I’m not-we’re not related! I mean, if we were, I’d probably still deny it, so this might not convince you in the slightest, but trust me, it’s not that.”

“Interesting wording,” Todoroki mused aloud. “You’re hiding something. There is a connection between you and All Might. And as the son of the Number Two Hero, that just gives me more reason to beat you.”

Izuku pulled at his face and groaned, all his pent-up anxiety spilling out. “What is your problem?!” he whined. “I’m just trying to do my best, just trying to keep it together, and you’re being such a-such a…a pain! I am this close to falling apart and you taking every opportunity to frighten me isn’t helping! What did I do to make you hate me?”

Todoroki’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “My problem,” he said, his voice frigid, “is my dad is a raging dumpster fire of a person who only cares about beating All Might. My problem is that I was only created to be the Number One Hero, so my father could have the last laugh. My problem is having to live with that pressure everyday and seeing his rage taken out on my family, and that has made for a very difficult childhood.”

Izuku was rendered speechless. He could only stare at his classmate, at someone he thought he had figured out before being told that it was all wrong. His world had been turned on its head and he felt a rush of sympathy for Todoroki. He didn’t know the full extent of it, but he could guess, and Izuku didn’t like that current mental image. Todoroki was so different from Bakugou, but how could he not have seen the signs?

Todoroki touched his scar. “My mom used to call my left side hideous, unbearable even…before she poured boiling water on my face.”

Izuku shuddered, his stomach threatening to revolt. How could a mother do that to her own child? How could a man look at his son and only see a victory in the making, not a person with thoughts and emotions? Izuku had never felt more grateful for his mother than in that moment. As for his dad, well, he’d take an absent one over Todoroki’s situation any day.

“Do you get it now?” Todoroki said. “Not using his Quirk was my revenge. By rising to the top without my left side, I’ll have denied him everything. So keep your secrets to yourself if you want. I’m going to win, and that’s that. Sorry for wasting your time.” He began to walk away.

Todoroki lived in a totally different world from Izuku’s. He knew that compared to Todoroki, his own reasons for wanting to be the best seemed superficial.

“I’ve-” Izuku cleared his throat and tried to speak louder. There was a stirring in the back of his mind, and the words he wanted to say sprung from it. “I’ve always had help. The only reason I’ve come this far is because people have helped me.” His mother, All Might, Uraraka, Bakugou, without them, he’d still be a Quirkless nobody, hell, he’d likelier be dead.

Todoroki stopped walking, but he didn’t turn around. Izuku took this as an invitation to continue. Deep breath in, deep breath out. “I wanna be the strongest Hero, just like All Might. And I want to repay those people for taking a chance on me. I’ll do that by winning. I’ll-I’ll beat you, Todoroki!”

Todoroki was silent for a long time. It was a full minute, perhaps, before he started walking again. Izuku watched him go, before remembering that he was supposed to be in the dining hall with his friends and he rushed off, hoping he hadn’t missed too much of lunch.

~~~

This was quickly turning into the worst day of his life.

Katsuki hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, honest. He had just wanted to find the bathroom and get away from the losers who’d taken to following him around. Okay, so maybe he had noticed Icyhot pulling Deku aside, and maybe he’d wanted to make sure that nothing fishy was going on, but the primary reason for walking the hallways was to find the bathroom, he swore!

He hadn’t wanted to pry into Icyhot’s private life, that’s not who he was. But the way he’d described his father, it made Katsuki’s blood boil. It reminded him uncomfortably of his mother (God, he just couldn’t escape her today, could he). It explained a lot actually, and Katsuki wanted to kick himself for not figuring it out sooner. No wonder Todoroki didn’t use his Quirk to its full extent, Katsuki himself would have done something that petty.

Should I talk to him? The thought surprised him. What, was he just gonna walk up and say, ‘hey, I heard that your parent beats you, LOL, same here, fam, wanna share trauma stories’? ‘Make friends,’ Deku said, ‘it’d be good for you,' he’d said. He wanted to scream, to punch something. Ugh, why couldn’t he just have stayed in the dining hall?

~~~

“I can’t believe I fell for Mineta’s tricks!” Yaoyorozu cried, her head hung low in shame. Kyouka growled, throwing down her pom-poms. Mineta had lied to her and the other girls about having to wear these stupid cheerleading uniforms, just so he could enjoy the view! It made her sick, self-conscious, but mostly, she was pissed off. How come he got to get away with trying to look up their skirts, or grope their chests, or sneak into the locker room? Kyouka didn’t even feel safe in the women’s bathroom as it was, but Mineta just made it all the more awful. She wasn’t the only one who felt this way, the other girls in class got just as much harrassment, especially the tragically beautiful Yaoyorozu. That just made her even angrier.

“I’m gonna kill that prick,” she muttered darkly, crossing her arms over her (ugly, too flat) chest. “I’m gonna snap and do it one of these days, I swear.”

Uraraka nodded, patting Yaoyorozu’s back. “I know, I wish he’d leave us alone too.” The words came out a little odd due to the pink chew necklace Uraraka had in her mouth. It was what she used to stim when she was really bothered about something.

“Should we tell Mr. Aizawa?” Hagakure asked.

Yaoyorozu shook her head. “No, it’s fine. We’re just making a big deal out of it. Mineta is intelligent, he’s…there’s no use depriving UA of a potential Hero and staining their record.”

“To hell with their record!” Kyouka shouted, throwing her hands up. “Why should we have to deal with that little pervert’s shit? Yaoyorozu, we deserve so much better than that, you deserve so much better! You’re not an object, you’re the Class Vice President, and you’ve got the power to get rid of him! Use it!

Yaoyorozu and the other girls stared at her and Kyouka felt her face heat up. She coughed and turned away.

“Kyouka’s right,” Tsuyu spoke up, touching a finger to her chin. “It’s our word against his. With multiple accounts, we stand a chance. I’m willing to bet we can win Aizawa over, we know how unafraid he is of expelling his students. Principal Nedzu will listen to us, I’m sure of it, especially if you’re there, Momo, taking your record into account. I say we give it a shot, ribbit.”

“Yeah!” Uraraka said, beaming, the chew necklace falling out of her mouth. “That makes sense! You’re so smart, Tsu! I’m in!” Tsu ribbited quietly and her cheeks were dusted a light shade of pink from the compliment.

“Me too, let’s kick that trash bag to the curb!” Ashido cheered.

“Me three!” Hagakure said. “Yaoyorozu?”

They all turned to the tallest girl to see what she’d say. After a long pause, she sighed.”Okay, I want him gone too.”

“Operation: Squash the Grape is a go!” Ashido said. “Let’s get this bread, ladies!”

Chapter Text

Eijirou fidgeted with his hair, making sure there wasn’t a strand out of place. The obstacle course and the cavalry battle he’d lived through, but now he’d be going head-to-head with a singular opponent. He didn’t know if he could beat that 1B guy, their Quirks were so similar. He was getting the jitters just thinking about it. But his match wouldn’t happen for awhile, so Eijirou had some time to kill. He decided he was thirsty and walked down the hall, looking for the water fountain. He turned the corner and almost ran into All Might.

“Woah, sorry, sir,” Eijirou apologized, looking down sheepishly. “I was just gonna get some water.”

His teacher smiled good-naturedly. “It’s no trouble, Young Kirishima. Do what you need to do to prepare for your fight. It can be nerve-wracking, especially since it’s your first Festival. I know I was scared when I was in your shoes.”

“Really?” Eijirou asked. “Wow, it’s weird to think about you as a student. It’s like you’ve been the Number One Hero for forever.”

All Might chuckled, his broad, powerful shoulders shaking slightly. “I don’t think I’m quite that old yet. Good luck in the tournament, young man. I’ll be cheering you and everyone else on.”

Eijirou then remembered something. “Wait, sir! Can I ask you a question?”

All Might turned back to look at him. “You just did, but sure!”

“Um, will Present Mic be announcing our names when it’s our turn?”

All Might’s features softened a bit. “Yes, though I don’t think you have anything to worry about. You and Young Bakugou will have the names you’ve chosen used. Aizawa made sure of it.”

Eijirou’s shoulders sagged with relief. Bakugou had been so tense since the obstacle course, and he might cheer up (as much as Bakugou can) with that news. “Oh, cool. That really makes me feel better. But I didn’t mention Bakugou?”

“You’re his friend. I’m sure you were planning to tell him about what I’d said after we’d talked. You’re an intuitive young man. Tell him it’s taken care of.”

“Yes, sir!” Eijirou said. All Might strode past him and Eijirou watched him, his chest feeling a lot lighter.

~~~

“But, Ojiro!” Hagakure cried, “this is your chance to get noticed by the Pros! You can’t just drop out now!”

Izuku couldn’t understand it either. A year ago, he would have died to be in the U.A. Sports Festival, yet Ojiro was just going to throw this rare offer away? It almost made Izuku angry.

Ojiro sighed, his large tail drooping. “Listen, I don’t even remember the Cavalry Battle. It seems unfair for me to advance when I don’t even know how I ended up here. This is my pride, we’re talking about, okay? Miss Midnight, please, I’d like to withdraw from the competition, if it’s alright with you.”

“I’d like to as well!” a small, pudgy boy from Class-1B spoke up. “For the same reasons. I don’t want to continue without remembering having earned it!”

The referee adjusted her mask. “This is practically unheard of, but if you are sure, I’ll allow you two to back out.” She smiled. “Alright, then taking Ojiro’s and Shouda’s places will be members of Team Kendou!“

“Actually,” a girl with orange hair interrupted, her hand raised like they were in class, “we didn’t really do that much. We were immobilized most of that time. If anyone should proceed, it’s Team Tetsutetsu.”

“Really?!” the classmate in question squealed. “Aw, Kendou! I won’t let you down!”

“You better not, you big goof!” Kendou teased him, punching his arm. Tetsutetsu let out a small but completely manly “ow.”

“Okay, that brings us back to sixteen competitors, and here are the matchups!” Midnight announced.

Izuku gulped and searched for his name. His stomach dropped when he saw who he’d have to fight. “Hitoshi Shinsou,” aka Purple War-Starter with eyebags for days. And if Izuku managed to win that fight, his next opponent could be-

“Todoroki?” Sero groaned. “Oh, man, I’m screwed.”

Iida appeared at Izuku’s side. “I’ll be going up against that Hatsume girl. And it looks like you have an interesting fight too. What about you, Uraraka?”

Their friend shrugged, but there was nothing offhand about it. “I got Yaoyorozu.”

Izuku tried to reassure her. “Hey, that’s not so bad! She seems super nice and you guys get along, right? I mean, she’s super smart and rich and scored first on the Quirk Apprehension Test at the beginning of school, but that’s not to say you don’t have a chance!”

“Maybe I can win, if I play my cards right,” Uraraka said, her mouth straightening into a grimace. “But all you’ve said is true. She’ll be tough to beat, and I’ll have to work hard for it. But I will beat her. I have to.”

Izuku remembered what Uraraka had told him when he’d asked why she wanted to become a Hero. She liked helping people, but it was also so she could give her parents the money they needed for an easy life. Uraraka had grown up poor, and she wanted she had to help her parents as soon as possible. For her, the Sports Festival had to feel like life or death. Izuku wanted to say something to ease her mind, but he just didn’t know how.

“Midoriya, can I talk to you? It’s about your match.” Ojiro asked.

Izuku shrugged. “Oh, uh, sure?”

He followed Ojiro off the field to the empty prep room. Ojiro looked around before sitting down and Izuku took a seat as well.

“Uh, you seem a little...” he trailed off.

Ojiro blinked. “Paranoid? Yeah, the Cavalry Battle really made me nervous.”

“What exactly happened during the Cavalry Battle? I mean, what can you remember?”

“I remember talking to that Shinsou guy and then everything from then on is blurry. I think it’s his Quirk. Well, until I woke up. Someone bumped into me, and I think that shocked me out of it.”

“You mean Shinsou took your memories?”

Ojiro shook his head. “No. He controls you, turns you into a puppet. He was our rider, so he was directing us where we needed to go, and we had to do it without argument. But I only began to feel the effects when I started talking to him. That’s how he does it, I think.”

“But you were able to snap out of it?” Izuku asked.

“Only with the help of an outside force, which you won’t have in this fight,” Ojiro said.

Izuku nodded. He just had to keep his big mouth shut and this was in the bag. Done and done. “Thanks, Ojiro. Though...can I ask why you decided to help me?”

Ojiro rubbed the back of his neck, his tail twitching from side to side. “Well, I think shared traumatic experiences help bring people together.” Izuku shivered, remembering the USJ and cold, dry fingers reaching for him. “And also, maybe petty revenge would be nice too,” Ojiro added, almost as an afterthought.

That surprised Izuku, making him giggle. “I’ll win this for you, okay?”

Ojiro grinned. “Alright, man. Good luck, don’t talk.” He got up and left, leaving Izuku alone to go over the advice he’d been given.

Chapter Text

Shouta used to think he hated kids. Of course, once he became a Hero and a teacher he reached the horrifying conclusion that that was inaccurate. Personally, he blamed Hizashi and Tensei for that, for asking him to babysit their younger siblings so often.

Shouta liked kids, perhaps because of how often he saw himself in so many of them. He was once small and stupid, obsessed with proving himself, and this year especially, looking at his bright-eyed students, he knew that they’d make his life...more interesting, as his husband put it. But there was no doubt that they had potential and Shouta’s job was to take that potential and shape it into skill. The disappointment was when kids had that potential but they were thrown to the wayside for whatever reason. Shouta was staring that wasted potential in the face at this very moment.

The boy was Hitoshi Shinsou, 15, General Education. As Hizashi had shouted into the microphone, his Quirk was called ‘Brainwashing’. Shouta could think of dozens of ways that Quirk could be useful to Hero society, but as his husband often had to point out to him, not everyone was like Shouta. Most likely the kid had been bullied for having a ‘villainous’ power. Shouta had gotten the same remarks when he was younger.

Shinsou had taken the Entrance Exam like thousands of other children, but he’d failed because U.A. had yet to create city-destroyers with enough of a ‘mind’ to be controlled, let alone respond to questions. Shinsou had failed because of that, another thing that he shared with Shouta. He and Nemuri had been placed in Gen Ed until the Sports Festival in their first year, in which they did well enough to be re-evaluated. He looked over at where she was standing and could tell that she too was taking a trip down memory lane from her deep-in-thought expression. They both knew Shinsou’s story, could recognize the flinty gleam in his eye. The Entrance Exam had been merely a setback, because he wasn’t through with the Hero Course yet.

Hizashi nudged him and leaned over to whisper in his ear, “it’s like looking in a mirror, isn’t it?”

Shouta rolled his eyes, before realizing that Hizashi wouldn’t be able to see that through the bandages. He hunkered down in his seat, leaning forward. Shinsou was going up against the Problem Child. Oh, joy.

~~~

“That monkey, babbling about his pride. What kind of dumbass throws away a chance like this?”

What could he say about Ojiro, he didn’t even know him! Izuku might not be close with his classmate, but seeing how perturbed Shinsou had made him made Izuku sick. He was getting really tired of bullies.

“Don’t talk about Ojiro like that!” Like he had earplugs in, the crowd’s cheers had abruptly turned muted. The ground beneath him felt unstable, but he found himself unable to move his feet. Freaking out now, Izuku tried to remember some grounding techniques. Okay, five things he could see. Shinsou’s cold, assured grin, his wild purple hair, were his eyebrows dyed too or was it all natural purple-no, focus on something else-the concerned faces of all his friends and classmates in the stands that he was letting down-oh, jeez, this wasn’t working. Izuku felt...Shinsou’s eyes on him-No!-the eyes of thousands of fans in the stadium, oh no...

A deep, cool voice broke through, a hand for Izuku to take, to pull him out of the rough seas he was fighting to keep afloat in. “How did it feel to have everything handed to you based on something you couldn’t possibly take credit for?”

What did that mean? He didn’t understand what the voice was referring to. Izuku certainly hadn’t had everything handed to him because of something he hadn’t worked for, except perhaps if ‘everything’ was code for ‘isolation, scars, and the occasional suicidal tendency’ that came with his Quirklessness.

”Now turn around and walk out of the ring, if you’d be so kind,” the voice said firmly, despite the air of politeness. Izuku felt his feet obey and he suddenly realized what was going on. Damnit, Ojiro had warned him, but he just had to go and open his fat mouth! Shinsou was gonna win if he didn’t snap out of it. The static grew louder, as if it was sensing his resistance and meeting it with its own.

The edge was coming closer with each step. Izuku begged his limbs to stop, but it was in vain. The words he’d said to Todoroki earlier that day resurfaced. Izuku had to show those who had helped him that he’d been worthwhile, he had to win! He saw All Might standing at the entrance ahead, his jaw clenched and eyes dark with worry. There were silhouettes behind him, none of which Izuku recalled seeing before, and yet their presence gave him a small sense of peace, like when his mother would show up to his middle school concerts.

His fingers twitched.

Fwooosh! Wind blew his unruly hair back, flowing across the ring and the crowd. Izuku bent over, gasping for breath, barely an inch away from the ring’s edge. His left index and middle fingers ached with the unfortunately familiar sensation of brokenness, but his head was clearer than it had been since the match started. He wiped the sweat off his brow and looked back at his opponent, who stared back, stunned. Izuku saw a tall, scrawny kid with a special, but not especially frightening Quirk. Izuku wasn’t scared anymore and Shinsou knew it.

Shinsou straightened his spine, recovering quickly. “How did you break free? That’s never happened before. You must be the real deal.” Izuku took a shaky step forward, then another, and he began picking up speed. He didn’t say a word.

“You’re unfairly blessed, you know?” Shinsou said, his tone dripping with bitterness. “The nature of my Quirk is sadly more fickle. I couldn’t pass the Entrance Exam with it, but you were born with a gift, Midoriya! Blessed with the ability to follow your dreams!” Shinsou was shouting now, his brows furrowed in anger.

Izuku wanted so badly to tell him how wrong he was. Izuku did understand, most likely more than anyone in the whole school. Shinsou was right about being blessed, but that hadn’t come from Izuku’s birth? He’d been blessed by the people in his life! Izuku broke into a sprint and began shoving Shinsou towards the edge.

Shinsou’s feet faltered. “Say something, damnit!” he snarled, aiming a right hook at Izuku’s jaw. It hurt like hell, but Izuku grit his teeth and kept pushing. He was gonna win this fight.

“Go, Deku!” Uraraka cried.

“You’re so close!” Iida shouted.

“Hey, you haven’t beaten this fucker yet? Quit slacking, dipshit!” Bakugou yelled.

Ojiro punched the air, cheering. All of Class-1A was on their feet, clapping and roaring their support. All except one.

Shinsou made a grab for Izuku’s throat in desperation, but Izuku had had enough. With one last scream of exertion, he grabbed Shinsou’s arm and shirt and flipped him over his shoulder and onto the floor, the very same move he’d used against Bakugou in that training exercise. Shinsou hit the ground and wheezed, all the breath taken forcefully from his lungs.

“Shinsou is out of bounds!” Midnight said, and her voice boomed to Izuku, making him bring his hands up to his ears. He was so tired, and the Festival wasn’t going to end soon enough. “Midoriya moves onto the second round!”

And the crowd goes wild.

~~~

He wanted to cry. This was supposed to have been his moment. Isn’t the underdog supposed to come out on top in the end? Had this all been one big mistake? He sighed and got to his feet. Crying had been self-trained out of him. It was how he’d survived the foster care system, where weakness would spell your doom.

He bowed politely to his opponent and Midoriya did the same. He’d do a great job protecting Japan one day, Hitoshi thought begrudgingly. He’s already defeated one villain today.

“Shinsou.” Midoriya’s voice was cautious and scratchy. He cleared his throat before asking, “why do you want to be a Hero?”

Ah, that question. Hitoshi had been asked that many times before. After all, with a Quirk like his, how could he dare to hope? Why bother in trying? Society wouldn’t bend for an orphan with wild hair and unattainable dreams.

“You cannot help what the heart longs for.” He thought that Midoriya deserved the simple truth, other than the usual sarcastic remark that he gave, often before getting punched. Midoriya’s eyes glimmered with understanding and Hitoshi knew he’d made the right call. He turned away, ready to go back to his seat in the stands, put on his headphones and call it a day.

“You did amazing, Shinsou!” He looked up, disbelieving. His class was there, cheering, cheering for him.

“You had us on the edge of our seat!”

“Good job, dude! You almost won!”

“That right hook was wicked cool, man!”

“You’re totally gonna get in the Hero Course after this!”

“The Pros in the audience are totally impressed! You’re a badass!”

His jaw went slack. His eyes stung again but for a different reason entirely now. Midoriya was grinning and Hitoshi wanted to say something.

“Maybe I failed this time...but I’m not giving up! I’ll show ‘em I’ve got what it takes and I’ll become a great Hero, better than any of them!” His lips mimicked the smile on Midoriya’s face as he turned back to him.

“Good!” Midoriya responded, before his eyes went blank.

Hitoshi chuckled. “Careful, now. You know, people who respond to me tend to stiffen up. Just try not to mess everything up now, and promise me you won’t lose in a way that makes you and I look foolish.” He gave the metaphorical reins back to Midoriya and watched him shake his head to collect his thoughts. He was a good egg, Hitoshi supposed, if not a bit of an idiot.

Chapter Text

“You did an excellent job, my boy!” All Might congratulated Izuku, moving to clap him heartily on the back. They were in Recovery Girl’s office, getting Izuku patched up in the short time between matches.
“Don’t do that.” Izuku clapped a hand over his mouth. “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I just don’t wanna be touched right now, I should have been nicer, I-”
“It’s quite alright, Young Midoriya,” All Might said gently. “You never have to apologize to me for needing some space. I know I need it too, from time to time, and I can only imagine how you must be feeling after your match with that boy. I heard what he said. He must have really affected you.”
“Yeah, but that’s just how it is, right? I couldn’t let him win, even if...even if I emphasized with him.”
Recovery Girl shook her head. “All Might, if you’re pushing this boy too hard, I swear, I’ll shove my cane right up your-”
There was a rapping at the doorway. Bakugou had already walked in, he had only knocked to bring attention to his presence. “Yo, you might want to hurry it up, Izuku. Icyhot is going up next, and you’re gonna want to see him in action, to work out your strategy.”
“Assuming Young Todoroki wins,” All Might added.
Bakugou rolled his eyes. “Of fucking course he’s gonna win, he’s going up against Tapeworm for crying out loud. And did I mention it’s Half-n-Half? There’s no question about it.”
“Thanks for the confidence boost, Kacchan,” Izuku snarked. He suddenly remembered something. “Oh, All Might? I, um, had a vision, I think?”
“Dehydration?” Recovery Girl guessed. “We told the students to bring water bottles.”
“No, like, when Shinsou had me brainwashed, I saw a few silhouettes behind where you were standing, All Might. I think there was eight of them, and one of them kinda looked like you. I think they snapped me out of it, let me move my fingers.”
“Did you recognize any more of them?” Bakugou asked, his arms crossed across his chest. Izuku shook his head.
“No, but... I felt like I should. They had to have known me, right? They helped me, I’m sure of it!”
“Slow down, Young Midoriya,” All Might said. “I think I have the answer. You said eight? And one of them looked like me? I believe they’re the traces of the users of One For All prior to you, my boy. I saw them too when I was younger. I think you’re finally starting to adjust to the Quirk.”
“Holy shit, you see dead people?!”
“No, Young Bakugou, I don’t believe they’re ghosts, per-say. They can’t seem to interfere with the real world, nor us with them. You might have seen them, but you broke out of Young Shinsou’s control yourself.”
Izuku rocked from one side to the other as he thought it over. He couldn’t say he was entirely convinced yet, but there were more important things to focus on at present. He could compartmentalize this train of thought for later.
“Oi, Izuku, let’s go!”
“Right behind you!”
“...He saw you too?” Recovery Girl asked. All Might turned away, his eyes darkening.
“That’s not a bad thing.”

As Bakugou had predicted, Sero didn’t last long. But that wasn’t what bothered Izuku. It wasn’t even how for a moment, Todoroki had lost control, because in his own words, he’d “just been annoyed.” There had to be something more going on, and it was no coincidence that Endeavor was looking royally pissed at the moment. No, it was the look on Todoroki’s face, as he began melting the ice around Sero away that twisted Izuku’s heart. He looked so utterly resigned to his fate, so tired of fighting. That expression just didn’t belong on his face, like it didn’t on Bakugou’s or Uraraka’s.
Hyperempathy. It really sucked sometimes.

Tooru often got comments on how observant she was from the adults in her life, and it was something she prided herself on. When there’s nothing about you that stands out, you don’t focus on yourself. Tooru has tried to make herself be seen, in her dance recitals, in middle school chorus, in writing competitions, etc. She never held the spotlight for long, but she liked to watch the people who did, and see what exactly made them so unique, and maybe even make a friend.
Recently, she’d taken to observing her classmates, who all had their own interesting strengths and charms. Tooru had managed to squeeze in with the girls, and that was all fine and good, but there was one subject that bothered her more than any other, and he went by the name of Shouto Todoroki.
She’d talked to him in the USJ, but that was a life-or-death experience, not exactly optimal socialization settings. But with what little information she’d gleaned, she’d remembered. Near perfect memory of personal details was another trait Tooru had been blessed with.
Todoroki came back to their box in the stadium, looking, for lack of a better term, sad. Maybe this could lift his spirits and melt his icy heart, even just a little.
“Todoroki, I have something for you!” She said, waving him over. He hesitated for approximately six seconds, seemingly before curiosity won out. She reached into her drawstring bag and pulled out her offering.
“Ta-da! Alice in Wonderland, the classic animated masterpiece! Told you I’d give it to you!” He took the DVD from her outstretched hands and took a long look at the cover.
“Oh, do you not have a DVD player?” she asked, fearing that the silence had stretched too long. “I’m sorry, I guess I just have a thing for retro stuff and didn’t think. Dunce!” She slapped her forehead.
He shook his head slowly. “No, I have one. I was just surprised you remembered, that’s all.” He seemed almost shy, a faint pink dusting his pale cheeks. Tooru was almost sure she’d imagined it.
“Well, great! There’s no rush to give it back or anything, but tell me if you liked it once you’ve watched it, okay?”
He nodded. “Thank you, Hagakure. I...appreciate this.”
Tooru beamed, despite knowing he wouldn’t be able to see it. Mission Cheer Up Todoroki was a success.

“Since when did you become besties with Hagakure?” Momo whispered once Shouto sat down beside her. “I almost feel threatened.” She nudged his shoulder. “Just kidding though.”
“She’s nice,” he said simply. “She figured out I hadn’t watched Alice in Wonderland and said she’d let me borrow it.”
“Aww, little Shouto-kins is growing up! I’m so proud.” She wiped away a fake tear, causing Shouto to roll his eyes. “But in other news, what did your father do that made you so upset?”
“How’d you know it was him?”
“Just a hunch,” Momo said. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
He shrugged, gazing down at his lap. “It was just the usual. Rebellious phases, disgracing the Todoroki name, ‘you’re different from your siblings, Shouto, you’re my masterpiece’. I told him to fuck off, not in those words, and went on my merry way.”
“But it still bothers you.”
“Why does it matter? I’m not going to use my fire, end of story.”
“And I’m not going to become a secretary for my family’s company. My mother is under the impression that I am a delicate flower, whose beauty will go to waste as a Pro Hero. ‘You could stand to lose a few pounds dear’, and God forbid you acknowledge your ugly stretch marks! Marry a hardworking, charming businessman who’ll provide for you and your children, and don’t let me see you with one of those ‘homosexuals or transgenders’! It makes me feel horrible, how she speaks sometimes, and bottling things up never helped anybody.”
“You think I need a therapist?”
“I think you need to talk to someone, and I’m always ready to lend an ear, but if you can’t open up to me, you should to a professional,” she said. “I just hate seeing you in pain and not getting any help for it.”
“Maybe you’re right...” he lied. He couldn’t just spill everything to a complete stranger, not without endangering his siblings. Fuyumi still lived in the family home, and Natsuo may be at college, but it was Endeavor’s money that got him there (probably the closest he’d come to noticing he had a second son that wasn’t Shouto). And who knew how society would react to their Number Two Hero being as corrupted as any villain, or how he hid the pain he’d inflicted on his family for over two decades? Shouto’s best bet was to wait until he turned eighteen and moved as far away from his old man as he could.
“The next fight is starting!” Momo said, and he was glad to have something else to concentrate on for the time being.

Chapter Text

Kaminari and Ashido’s fight went on longer than expected. Of course, Eijirou was cheering for both of his friends, even if he’d known Mina longer, he wasn’t not going to encourage Kaminari. Sero and Jirou were cheering just as loud for them, as was the rest of the crowd.

“Go, Kaminari! Beat her up like one of those fighting games where their clothes fall off when they’re hit!” Mineta yelled.

Eijirou gagged. So unmanly. The girls must have agreed with him because they all rolled their eyes and exchanged knowing looks.

Midoriya was scrawling away in that beat-up notebook of his from his seat in front of Eijirou. Bakugou sat beside Midoriya, watching the fight silently, nodding or grunting affirmation when Midoriya occasionally paused to ask a partly rhetorical question. “Kaminari’s powerful, but Ashido has better reflexes and can afford to be more creative in her Quirk use. I wonder if her acid conducts electricity, or would it create some type of chemical reaction...”

Kaminari had somehow managed not to short-circuit yet, but he was struggling. He wasn’t horribly injured, but his clothes had been burnt and eaten away at some places from when he’d been a little too slow to miss Mina’s thrown acid. He’d tried to make moves towards her, but she kept him at bay, forcing him to retreat.

The defining moment came when Kaminari began glowing with energy, small arcs of electricity coming off of him. He darted towards Mina, his right hand outstretched in an attempt to grab her and incapacitate her before she had a chance to defend herself. Mina looked nervous, but she didn’t run, a beachball-sized glob of acid building between her hands. When Kaminari was feet away, she chucked it at him with all her strength.

Kaminari’s golden eyes widened, and he dove to the side. The acid interacted with his surrounding field of crackling lightning, and instantaneously reacted in an explosive boom! Kaminari was thrown several yards away, and landed on his back, his head over the arena line. Eijirou cringed. The right side of his friend’s hair had been burned away, leaving very short, very singed uneven ends. Kaminari himself had short-circuited, a dazed look on his face and blood dripping from his nose.

“Kaminari is out of bounds!” Midnight declared. “Ashido moves onto the next round!” Kaminari was carted away on a stretcher to Recovery Girl’s office while the crowd cheered for Mina.

Jirou fidgeted in her seat. It was clear that she wanted to go with Kaminari, but she knew she wouldn’t be allowed to see him until later. They rarely left each other’s side in the time that Eijirou had known them. He wondered if they were dating. Yaoyorozu seemed to notice Jirou’s discomfort too and leaned down from her seat to put a hand on the other’s shoulder. “He’ll be alright, Recovery Girl is amazing at what she does.”

Mina returned to the box, her face flushed with the excitement of her fight. “I hope Kaminari has no hard feelings about me whooping his ass in front of thousands of people.”

“Eh, I don’t think he can complain after what Todoroki did to me,” Sero replied, grinning good-naturedly from under the three blankets he had wrapped around himself. His lips were finally turning back to their normal color.

Eijirou nudged Midoriya’s shoulder. The other boy tensed for a brief moment before realizing who it was and relaxing slightly. “Well, guess now you know what happens when Mina’s acid is exposed to Kaminari’s lightening, huh?” Eijirou asked.

Midoriya turned pink. “Oh, was my muttering bothering you? I’m sorry, I’ll try to control myself better.”

Eijirou laughed. “Dude, it’s cool. You’re, like, one of the smartest people in the class. I could never be able to analyze anything like you. You’ve got a talent, not a problem.”

Midoriya blinked. “Oh. Okay, wow. I’ve never thought of it like that. People usually just say it’s annoying, so I always thought it made them not like me. No one has ever said something nice about it.”

“Then it’s their loss,” Eijirou said, shrugging. He didn’t see why anyone would dislike Midoriya, let alone be so unmanly as to purposefully be mean to him. It left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Alright, listeners, nap time is over! Time for the next match!” Present Mic screamed into his microphone.

“You think Mr. Aizawa was actually sleeping up there?” Mina asked.

“It wouldn’t be out of character for him,” Iida said.

“He’s Class-1A’s resident disco ball, Yuuga Aoyama!” Aoyama sauntered out onto the field, blowing kisses to the crowd. He had his signature belt on, catching the light and gleaming.

“And his opponent, who tiptoes through the tulips and her defeated foes, Ibara Shiozaki!” Shiozaki was a tall girl with long vines for hair and skin vaguely tinged green. Eijirou guessed it was from chlorophyll, if her plant theme was anything to go by.

“A pleasure to meet you, mademoiselle,” Aoyama said, winking at Shiozaki. “I hope you won’t be bitter after I win.”

“He certainly seems confident,” Iida remarked. “Though conceit is dangerous to oneself, trust in your abilities is good for a future Pro Hero.”

“Then let us hope it’s not misplaced,” Tokoyami muttered darkly. Tokoyami did lots of things darkly, Eijirou had noticed, and he pulled it off well.

“Pride,” Shiozaki responded, her eyebrows knitting together, “is a horrible sin. It seems the Lord has tasked me with ‘taking you down a peg,’ and I won’t refuse Him.”

“Begin!”

Aoyama immediately fired off his laser at Shiozaki, whose vines formed a barrier in front of her. The beam of light cut through the vines easily, creating a large hole in the barrier. Shiozaki hadn’t been hit because she’d crouched, and she now set her palm on the ground and closed her eyes in concentration.

Her vines shot towards Aoyama again, going around his lasers and latched onto his belt. Aoyama cried out in surprise and tried to rip them off, only to shrink back from the painful thorns. The vines pulled and the belt flew off and was dropped into Shiozaki’s open hand.

“Why isn’t he still firing?” Mina asked.

Yaoyorozu hummed. “Maybe it helps channel his power without losing control? His Quirk is powerful to cut through rocks that are yards wide, think about what that could do to his body.” They sat in grim silence, none of them wanting to dwell on a mental image of the consequences for too long.

Shiozaki’s vines wrapped around Aoyama’s body, lifting him into the air. Though he struggled, it seemed he was unable to get free. His acrylic nails that had been so perfectly-shaped and buffed were now broken and his hair was a mess. Shiozaki, on the other hand, was none too worse for wear, her face the picture of satisfactory retribution.

“Aoyama is immobilized! Shiozaki wins!” Midnight exclaimed. Shiozaki bowed humbly, her hands clasped in front of her like she was praying.

“I live to carry out the Lord’s word,” she said. She turned to Aoyama. “Thank you for the fair fight.”

“Merci, to you as well,” Aoyama squeaked. “I think it’s time you let me down, non?” Shiozaki nodded and did just so, handing him his belt.

“She’s good,” Jirou commented, her arms crossed. “It’s no wonder she scored 4th in the Entrance Exam.”

“That faggot stood no chance,” Mineta said, shaking his head. “He’s so useless.”

Eijirou clenched his teeth together so tightly it hurt. “Hey, lay off him, will ya? Calling people names isn’t cool!”

“Wow, calm down. No need to get all offended, I’m just telling the truth. Aoyama is totally gay.”

“So what?” Eijirou said, his voice rising. “It doesn’t matter! And he still got into U.A, didn’t he? He’s got every right to be here!”

“But-“ Mineta began, but he was interrupted by Bakugou standing up and stalking over to him. No one said a word and no one, not even Midoriya, tried to stop him. Bakugou grabbed the front of Mineta’s shirt and lifted him into the air, ignoring the other’s protests and attempts to break his hold.

“You better listen up real fucking good,” Bakugou said quietly, but not without very real malice. “You say another word, one more goddamn word, and I eviscerate you. Sit down and shut up. Did I make this shit clear?

“Y-yeah,” Mineta stammered. “Crystal!”

Bakugou dropped him back into his seat and stalked off, slamming the door behind him. Silence filled the room, barely anyone daring to breathe after what had just happened.

“Well, my match is up next,” Iida said loudly, breaking the spell. “I have to get down to the prep room.”

“You got this!” Uraraka said, throwing a fist in the air. Midoriya gave him a smile and two thumbs up.

“Yeah, man, you show everyone not to mess with the Rep!” Sero chimed in.

“Thank you. I’ll do my best,” Iida said before he walked out.

“Who is he going up against?” Ojiro questioned.

“Mei Hatsume, that girl from the Support Group,” Satou answered. “Midoriya, Uraraka, and Tokoyami were on a team with her in the Cavalry Battle, right?”

“Indeed,” Tokoyami confirmed. “She’s certainly an eccentric soul, cunning and ambitious.”

“She’s really cool,” Izuku added. “We wouldn’t have made it to the next round without her. But I don’t know how this fight will turn out.”

“Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed for our Class Rep!” Hagakure said. Eijirou could barely focus on what the others were saying, all he could think about was Bakugou.

Midoriya tapped his shoulder. “If you’re thinking about following him, don’t. He prefers to be alone when he’s upset. You just have to let him cool down. Figuratively and literally.”

Eijirou chewed the inside of his cheek. That advice wasn’t satisfying to him at all, but he supposed Midoriya knew Bakugou best. He didn’t want to make him even worse, even if he was worried. He’d just wait for him to come back. No big deal.

Why had he done that, he shouldn’t have done that! Now everyone knew, everyone knew that he was different, they’d use it against him. Katsuki didn’t feel real. The floor beneath his feet, the buzz of the audience, his heavy breathing, none of it felt real. His hearing aids were fine, right? So why did it all sound fuzzy? Why was the hallway blurry?

“Bakugou?”

He stopped.

“Bakugou, is everything alright?”

He’s vaguely aware that Aizawa and Present Mic were standing in front of him, and that they were speaking, but the words sound jumbled and unfamiliar to him. His hearing aids were doing their job, right? So why was everything so wrong? Why did he feel all floaty, when he was rooted in place?

“‘m fine,” Katsuki said, but it didn’t sound like him.

“You’re fine, brat,” Mitsuki said, rolling her eyes at her crying child.

“It really hurts!” Katsuki blubbered, referring to the bite on his leg he got from a fire ant while playing in the sandbox with Izuku earlier.

“Crying isn’t gonna change that,” his mother replied. “So shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Katsuki slapped his hands over his mouth, eyes wide. He forced down his sobs and ran off to find Auntie Inko, who was never mean to him. She’d help him if Mommy wouldn’t.

He blinked. Where the hell was he?

“Bakugou, can you understand me?” Recovery Girl asked. He was in her office. How and when did he get there?

“Yeah,” Katsuki rasped.

“You sure, little listener?” Present Mic was there too? Huh. He seemed concerned. For Katsuki? “It looked like you were having a serious anxiety attack.”

“Can I go back to the stadium now?” he asked.

“You were pretty out of it, Bakugou,” Aizawa remarked from where he was leaning against the wall. He looked like a mummy with all those bandages, but Katsuki wasn’t amused. “I can’t force you to tell me, but I also can’t help you if you don’t.”

“Tell me why you have this!”

“I bought it!” Katsuki shouted, making another grab for the binder Mitsuki was holding above her head. She pushed him back.

“I told you to cut this crap! You’re always gonna be a girl, Kaori, and you just have to fucking deal with it!”

“Shut up!”

“Go to your room! Now!”

“Dad, please!” Katsuki begged rarely, but this was important enough to him to forget his pride. “I bought it with my own money, it’s mine! Make her give it back!”

Masaru couldn’t meet his child’s eyes. He pushed his hair back and sighed. “It’s best to do what your mother says.”

“Dad-“ Katsuki’s voice broke. His eyes stung from tears and he ran to his room so he could shed them away from their eyes. He’d been naive to think his dad was ever on his side.

“Everything’s just peachy,” he growled, standing up. “I’m going back.”

Aizawa sighed and Katsuki wished he could see his expression. “If that’s what you want, you may go.”

He could feel three pairs of eyes on his back as he stepped outside and walked back. He was so sick of pity.