“Team Red wins!” Mister Fujino announces, blowing his whistle. Looks like I just scored the game-winning point. I look around at my teammates with a big smile, having my hand up for a high-five. Do any of them high-five me? No. No they don’t. They scowl at me before walking over to the bench with their head down and their shoulders slouched. That’s a bit cold of them, but I don’t mind! I laugh it off, rubbing my head. The Blue Team aren’t fond of me either. They’re complaining that I, a Quirkless, just beat them hard . I’m sorry. I was forced to win.
“Inochi!” a few girls squeal at me. I wave at them, which makes them squeal even louder. Kendo walks into the court and grabs my arm, dragging me to the bench. Oh right, the next team has to play. We sit down next to Tokage and Kodai, both of which were cheering for me. Obviously, one was louder than the other. I throw a towel over my head, drying the sweat off of me. My hair will be a mess, but I never cared much about looking good.
“Masterful spike there, Inochi. I’d thought your body was sore from how much you trained, but you performed your best. In my professional opinion, you carried the Red Team,” Tokage says, but she’s wrong. My teammates were useful besides the fact that they tried to keep the volleyball away from me a few times. I mean, after my first two spikes, they knew that they had to play fair with me.
“Did you really have to spike it that hard though? I thought the gym floor was gonna crack right open,” Kendo complains, eyeing our other classmates on the benches. The boys are glaring at us, whispering to each other while the girls are ogling and gossiping I think? During these five months, I had to get used to being known by the entire school. The guys are still a bit jealous that I’m hanging out with these three sitting with me.
“Sorry, but that’s my natural strength. Besides, I’m scared when you will spike it. I’m calling it here: The entire gym floor will collapse beneath our feet. Maybe that’s why Mister Fujino wanted you to play on a boys team, Kendo,” I say, crossing my arms. Too bad we’re not on the same team though. We would’ve dominated the competition.
“Hmph. Tokage’s right though. You carried your team of jerks. They’re still jealous of you for no reason other than a stupid crush. I honestly don’t get men sometimes, no offense Inochi,” she replies as a few guys quickly turn their heads away from us. Right… Ito and Hamada are the perfect examples. One time, they distracted me with something so one of them could ask Kendo out. Naturally, I figured it out and ran to her. I prevented the death of Ito. It’s...hard to restrain Kendo sometimes.
“None taken. You know how I don’t worry about crushes or love. It gets in the way sometimes,” I reply, hanging my towel around my neck. Tokage frowns and hits my shoulder with her head. My shoulder’s sore unfortunately, so pain spikes in my arm. She notices me wincing and eases off, giggling like it never happened.
She says, “Even though I respectfully disagree, it explains why you don’t really care about girls. I mean, you even compliment them when they ask for one. What happened to my sweet and shy Inochi? Now, he’s just sweet, charismatic, and shameless! Not that I’m complaining or anything.”
“I mean, I’m outta my shell now, but I don’t get the ‘charismatic’ part. I know I’m attractive, but that can’t be it,” I say, watching the game. Blue Team’s leading by a point. Good teamwork, I gotta say. Anyway, back on topic! There has to be an explanation as to why the girls in our school are attracted to me more than others. They know I’m Quirkless, but that doesn’t bother them. It’s nice, but they’re also bothering me for a completely different reason.
Tokage laughs, leaning back a bit too far. I put my arm out to prevent her from tumbling back like a ragdoll. “Well, that’s what makes you attractive. Complete obliviousness! Don’t you agree Kendo? Kodai?” Kodai just nods, going along with whatever she says.
Kendo rolls her eyes and replies, “Sure. If you talk about him so much, Tokage, why don’t you just marry him? Televise it all over Japan! I’m sure they’ll enjoy the wedding.” Sarcasm isn’t a good look on her. Even five months later, she’s still jealous of Tokage. She warmed up to her slightly, but that’s about it. Jeez, we got two weeks until school ends. If all four of us end up in the same class, then this needs to be settled.
“I’m sure he doesn’t mind. Oh, wanna be my bridesmaid, Kodai? You would look perfect in a dress. Like a divine angel sent from God Himself,” Tokage asks, making a rectangle with her fingers and puts Kodai in the frame.
“Why not,” she meagerly answers, but short answers are the best of her. Kendo rolls her eyes even harder than before. Ugh… Kodai and I are trying to ease the tension between Kendo and Tokage, but it isn’t working. The only thing we do is stopping Kendo from beating up anyone who tries to bully me. So far this month: ten times. You’d think they’ll stop the first time, or the second time, maybe the third, but nope! Like before, we got two weeks left of eighth grade. Let’s hope it doesn’t break December’s record of twenty-two.
Tokage snickers, and that’s the sound of me changing the conversation, “Anyway, we gotta think about what’s really important: this volleyball game. Kendo, how fast do you think you’re gonna win? Five minutes? Four?” I ask right as Mister Fujino blows the whistle. The next two teams are up. Oh God, this will be a slaughter. Kendo’s on the Red Team, so Blue is positively screwed.
“Guess we’ll find out. Cheer me on!” Kendo says as she runs out to the court with the other guys. She starts to order them around, putting them in the proper positions. Pretty sure they aren’t complaining about it. Kendo is in the middle when the match starts. The Blue Team serves, Kendo hits the ball back to their side, it gets hit back, and one of Red assists the volleyball in the air. Oh God, it’s perfectly in position for a spike already?! Kendo calls it and jumps high in the air with her hammer fist back. Time slows down, and so does the cries of fear of her opponents...
“SHE’S SPIKING IT!!!”
“TELL MY MOM I LOVE HER!!!”
Ah, so this is how I die...
Happy graduation. I almost died two weeks ago, but I lived to see the day. Well, if I could even call it that. Graduation was simply a rushed ceremony congratulating the class presidents, the popular students (like Kendo and Kodai), while the unpopular ones get glared at (like me). All of us were waiting for the news about the U.A. Entrance Exam, and they delivered. The principal gave us our testing locations for the written portion, and we know that we’re going to U.A. itself for the practical. The Exam itself is in five days, practical is six. Why is it during a vacation though? It would make sense if it’s at the last month of school, so U.A. has time to go through the applications. Well, do they? Simply, I think they can just cross thousands of applicants off just from the practical who don’t do well on it. And since the written portion is first too, that’ll remove a lot of applicants too. You know what, I’m probably thinking way too much about this. I’m confident that I’ll at least pass the written, but the practical is another story. My training with Master Kendo is great, fan-freaking-tastic. I know how to use almost every weapon. Being proficient is another story, which I’m currently working on. As a result of my training, I’ve gotten stronger and tougher. I also practiced my hand-to-hand combat too. I can beat nearly anyone in the Dojo besides from Ojiro (who is a master at hand-to-tail combat) and Kendo (from the fact that she blew up the gym up two weeks ago). At least I can last a minute with Kendo before she wipes the floor with me. Master Kendo said that I’m better than most in terms of combat competency (without Quirks as a factor), but it doesn’t matter when Quirks are a factor. It’s pretty much the entire purpose of the Exam. This training guarantees that I’m not completely useless though. I’m the best as an average human can be, thanks to my Adoptive Muscle Memory. Now, I’m up against all of Japan. I should-
There’s something behind me. Only one person could have a reason for sneaking behind me. I call her out, “Tokage, put your mouth back where it belongs. Your Quirk is horrifying sometimes, and I’m a little scared of it.” Tokage huffs and I hear her walking up behind me. I turn around to see her whole. No floating body parts, no disembodied limbs, none of that. Thank goodness because I’m never getting used to her Quirk.
“Hmph, looks like your battle sense is honed a little too well. Watch it, Inochi, you’ll get so powerful that you might get a chance to actually defeat me! I, of course, am strong enough to rival All Might,” she says, and I fully believe her. All hail Setsuna Tokage, the most powerful Hero in Japan. Better bow down to her feet and beg for forgiveness, else her overwhelming power will have me put to death.
“You’re the next Symbol of Peace, Tokage. I swear by it. Anyway, got anything wise to say before the Exam? It’s within the week,” I ask, putting my hands in my pockets. We watch for Kendo and Kodai, but I don’t see her. They must’ve been trapped in the auditorium unfortunately. Let’s hope no guys are making a move on them. I might not be outwardly protective as Kendo, but I’m still protective as heck.
“Eat well, train well, and most importantly… when are you going to confess your love to Kendo? I’m waiting,” Tokage does not advise me actually. Don’t know why she thinks I have a crush on her. I’m content with being friends with Kendo, that’s all. She only bothers teasing me about it, not her. For a good reason too, because Kendo will absolutely murder her.
I reply, “I’m sorry, the third thing wasn’t a piece of advice, so it kinda went through one ear and out the other. Hehe, anyway, what about you, Tokage? Find the woman of your dreams yet? Will I be your best man?” I still remember the moment when she came out to me. That was a month ago I believe. Only I know about it. How did the conversation go again…?
One day, she approached me and said... “Heya handsome, can I talk to you for a second?”
I replied… “Sure, what is it?”
Then she said, kinda being quiet... “Remind me. For civics, the laws about heroism and vigilantism were about- I’m a lesbian, Inochi.”
I looked at her and stayed quiet...
Tokage got red and stammered… “Inochi, did you hear what I just said?!”
Naturally, I stayed cool and told her… “Yup. Please excuse me for a brief moment.” After that, I casually strolled up to the classroom window, opened it, and screamed. The entire class stared at me, even Kodai was bothered by it. Then, when I stopped screaming, I walked back to my desk, sat down, and smiled at Tokage who was mentally panicking. I congratulated her, whispering… “I’m very happy for you.”
And that’s how I know. I’m waiting for the day-
“Ow! Why are you pinching my cheek, Toka-Kendo? When did you get here?!” I exclaim. So, somehow, Kendo and Kodai are in front of me! I didn’t even notice them! Wow, sometimes I even amaze myself at how absent-minded I am at times… Also, I don’t want to be rude, but Kendo’s cheeks gets puffed way too much when she pouts. It’s a bit hard to be scared, but I know if I point that out... I would die.
“Fifteen seconds ago. Tokage was counting how long you wouldn’t notice. C’mon, let’s go to the library, Inochi. I barely got out alive with boys trying to ask me out, and I heard some of the girls wanted to get your number, so we’d better run,” Kendo says, and without waiting for me to answer, she grabs my wrist and literally yanks me along. I yelp, seeing as my entire arm is sore and she isn’t making the pain any better! Kodai, of all women, snickers with Tokage. How could she betray me…?
I plead, “Kendo! You’re going to rip my arm off! Please, I don’t wanna lose my arm just yet! Maybe in two years, or three! But not now! I need it for the Exam!”
“Stop complaining! This is why you should take a break every other night! I get that you like training so much, but please! Take care of your body for once in a while!” she snaps back as she pulls me even harder. I try to reach out for Tokage’s hand, but she gets herself out of my reach! Kodai too! Why are they submitting me to this torture?! I’m supposed to be their friend! Not some stuffed dummy to get dragged around!
At some point on our walk there, I just stop moving altogether. Kendo decides to carry me to the library, which I don’t mind. I’ll just lay in her arms, going over the material for the written portion. So many subjects… I bet America has it easy with their tests… But, I’ll try my best to memorize them! I need to be a Hero after all! Let’s hope I’m not too much of an idiot though…
“Why is there smoke coming out of your head?”
“The origin of Quirks has many theories. Some say that radiation had a factor in the formation of Quirks, while others state a very distant ancestor at the beginning of human history carried the genes for the foundations of Quirks, in which their genes was implanted in us, awakening when the suitable environment arose. A German metaologist by the name of-”
“Okay, I can see where your mind’s at. Was that your essay? Because jeez, mine was about hero history and the impacts of the U.H.N. in today’s society. I’m sorry that you had a hard time, Inochi. You survived though! That’s great!”
“Huh?! Did someone say hero history! U.H.N.! That’s right! Uhm… that is the United Hero Nation which was once the United Nations formed after World War Two! It was renamed and remade to ensure Pro Heroes-!”
Kendo slaps me. Woah! I can think again! My head hurts a lot! But, I can think again! Also, I need to say this, “OW?! Thank you for knocking reality back into my head, but still! I think my cheek will be red for hours from how hard you slapped me!”
“Hmph, good thing we both agreed that you needed it,” she snarkily comments just as we’re outside our home. Kendo pats my arm and actually goes inside the garage first. Must be checking up on her motorcycle. It was her dad’s, his Hero Vehicle. From that name, it’s safe to say the bike is pretty golden. I mean, it even has golden trails when it gets on the road! At least, that’s what Hayami said. She was the one who customized this motorcycle for heroism. It’s extra durable, fast, and really awesome. I think it even drives to Kendo whenever she needs a lift. Well, if she can drive it. She doesn’t have her learners yet.
“I’ll be a badass with this bike, just you watch. I might get one for you one day, if your Quirk doesn’t let you run as fast as a car,” she says, flicking a spec of dirt off of it. I only laugh as a reply since my brain is still a little fried from the Exam. Looks like she’s done checking already. We go inside our home, taking our shoes off. Hayami and Master Kendo are in the living room waiting for us. They have soft smiles on their faces. Heh… Five, maybe six months… That’s how long I’ve been here. Seems like just a day ago that I was a guy with a hoodie. Now, I’m not hiding my face anymore.
“How was the written portion? I’m assuming Itsuka excelled while Sanji… Uhm, you know what? I can see the smoke coming out of his head,” Hayami says, chuckling. I’m surprised my hair hasn’t caught on fire yet, but the day is still young. I laugh, leaning against a wall for utter support.
“I’m sure he passed. Last night, he was training while reciting his notes. Every punch was a line about math or something. Could be Japanese? I dunno. Honestly, how did I pass the Exam?” Master Kendo asks himself. He looks like he’s remembering his past days as a U.A. student. I don’t wanna be rude, but he’s probably like me in terms of intelligence.
“That sounds like Inochi alright. We got the practical tomorrow, so we’d better rest. Right ?” Kendo looks at me, expecting something…? Oh, she wants me to take a break tonight. Uhm, if I don’t have a choice. I’m inclined towards training tonight, but it makes sense to let my body heal to ensure that I’m at the top of my game. But, I don’t sleep like she does. Crap, what do I say? Maybe if I stay silent, that would help.
“Alright, that settles it, I’m gonna trap you in your room. This will be for your own good, Inochi,” she tells me. Okay, let’s find out if she’s actually serious or if she’s joking. A part of me wants to feel like she’s joking, but this is Kendo! She’s probably dead serious. Oh God, I’m going to be a prisoner in my own home.
I turn to Hayami, asking with my eyes, Is your daughter serious? Hayami shrugs and replies, Knowing her, yeah. What can I say? She’s my daughter. I look at Kendo once again, who’s staring at Hayami and I. She asks, “Why are you two having a conversation with your eyes? Inochi, say something.”
“I’m scared,” I quietly speak for once. She groans and I sit down on the couch, my knuckles turning white from gripping my pants. Master Kendo laughs and taps his armrest. He’s probably laughing at how afraid I am.
“Jokes aside, both of you will do great,” he says, giving Kendo a chance to sit next to me, “you two are special kids. One is the toughest woman alive, protecting everything she holds dear. The other is the best Quirkless alive, determined to reach his dream. Those are qualities that true Heroes have, but kids…”
Master Kendo leans forward in his chair, putting his hands together. “From tomorrow onwards, your life will be difficult. I guarantee you that by the end, you won’t be the same Itsuka and Sanji sitting at this couch. You’ll be something different. You’ll be a better version of yourself. Promise me you’ll become that?”
“Good. Both of you can do this. Remember, you're not alone. You’ll have friends at U.A. and us two. Now, let’s cheer up with a feast and some TV! It’s enough of me getting serious!” he exclaims, which is also the signal for Hayami to go into the kitchen. But though…a feast? Well, looks like I might be so full that I wouldn’t be able to move.
Three years from now, I’ll be standing in this house being a new man. At that point, I’ll have my Quirk and be a stronger man than I am now. There’s no more turning back! No matter what, I’ll be a Hero!
I will be a Pro Hero for Japan! Even if mountains stand in my way, I’ll carve through them and go beyond!
“So, we could’ve brought equipment?” Ojiro asks, staring at my quarterstaff that’s laying on my shoulders. Well, the answer’s obvious. I didn’t bring this staff here to pole vault over the U.A. Barrier. Even if I could do that, how would I land safely on the other side? I would just go splat immediately.
“Mhm,” Kodai answers, holding up her bag of screws and bolts. Her Quirk, Size, is much more effective with objects. She can’t do anything without objects, which makes her effectively Quirkless like I am. For Kendo and Ojiro, they’re lucky since Kendo can activate Big Fists and Ojiro has a tail he can swing around.
“Yeah, I kinda only have my feet and fists. It wouldn’t be the best thing against whatever we’re fighting today,” I explain, spinning my quarterstaff around my neck and into my gracious hands. Kodai casually ducks without changing the expression on her face. Well, I wasn’t gonna whack her in the head with it. I’m skilled enough where I pass the point of accidental assault… Yeah, I’m sorry Ojiro...
“Yeah… Quarterstaffs hurt… There’s people out there who doubt that they can’t do anything. They’re wrong,” Ojiro says, recalling that extremely painful moment. Why does he want to make me feel so bad all of the sudden?!
“If they get into a fight with one, they’ll doubt for about two seconds until it hits them… Literally hits them,” Kendo adds her own (correct) opinion. She stops for a second and takes a deep breath in. Right, we’re in U.A.! It’s a beautiful school. A lush walkway leads us into the auditorium with three numbered doors from one to three. There’s a few statues and arches here. The main building itself is somewhere on the campus in the form of western letters I believe. A ton of other examinees are here with us. All kinds of Quirks out today too. Well, the only ones we can see are Mutant-types like Ojiro. Kendo looks up at the sky and says, “Y’know, we’re gonna rock the hell outta this exam. You guys with me?!”
“Good! We trained a long time for this. I know Inochi has. Thank God that he hasn’t collapsed from exhaustion. That’s besides the point though. After we beat what U.A. has in store, we’ll be Heroes. All of us will. Japan will be singing our praises,” she promises to us with a bright smile on her face. Words like that can inspire a man. In fact, it inspired this man. Quirkless or not, I’ll pass the Exam!
“Uhm, alright. I’ll try my best,” Ojiro sheepishly says, scratching his cheek. Kodai nods with him, humming softly. Kendo looks at me for a response, so I simply pat my shoulder with my quarterstaff, smiling with a head tilt. She looks disappointed.
“Seriously? That’s it? You guys aren’t gonna say anything else? Inochi, you stopped being shy and quiet. Say something,” she asks me.
“Who says I’m not shy?” I say in an introverted tone, shying my face away from her. But, that’s just an act. I chuckle and turn back to Kendo, giving her what she wants. “I’m kidding. What do you want me to say that’s haven’t been said? Don’t worry, Kendo. We’ll pass and get into U.A.. You can be the people’s fist just like your dad.” Golden Hand’s catchphrase was: “I’ll be your fist!” Kendo often repeats that to herself before fights.
“Heh… Yeah, I’m doing this for him and for Japan. He’ll be proud if he could see me today,” Kendo says with a slightly reminiscent face. That’s why she wants to be a Hero. She loved her dad like how any daughter would. I’m not surprised that she inspires to be like him. Hayami supports her, Master Kendo too, and of course, I do as well. I wish I could meet him though. He could be out there though. Golden Hand isn’t exactly dead, but just missing. Well, missing for years. It’s depressing, but there isn’t a high chance of him living years after disappearing. He loved his family after all, so he couldn’t disappear because of… Do I really need to think about that?
“He is, Kendo. I don’t know him personally, but any father would be proud seeing his daughter growing up to be a Hero,” I tell her with Kodai and Ojiro nodding to what I say. Kendo laughs to herself and sighs.
“Yeah… C’mon, we should get inside. Present Mic should be explaining the Entrance Exam for us, so we can’t miss it!” she exclaims before she hurries us up. We quickly go inside the building, following everyone to the auditorium. Before we go inside, we take our examinee’s card. They have a bunch of information on it. After that, we find four empty seats next to each other and sit down, waiting for the presentation to start.
During this merry time, Ojiro and Kendo theorize about what the Exam will be like. Kodai isn’t adding to the conversation unless she’s called on, and I try my best to input my own comment every now and then. To be honest, this Exam could be anything. Dragons, fighting Pros, fighting actual Villains, things like that. It’s U.A. after all. Who knows what they could be scheming? After about twenty minutes, the auditorium is packed with examinees just like us. That’s when the lights dim and Present Mic takes the stage. He looks just as loud as his hair. He starts off the presentation with a question, we don’t really answer, so he casually moves on. The Entrance Exam will involve fighting robots (of course it had to be robots) that’ll test our Quirks and skill. There are four types ranging from one-pointers too three, while there’s one gigantic robot that’s worth zero points. It’s meant to be avoided. We have ten minutes to defeat as many robots as we can. Higher the points is equal to the chances of getting into U.A.. We’re aren’t allowed to assault the other examinees here else that’ll result in an instant disqualification. As for the battleground itself, we’re divided into a lot of different areas. I’m on Battleground A (as stated on my card) while everyone else is different. In fact, we’re split up in-between four areas. Kendo comments that U.A. is preventing students from the same middle school from working with each other. Dang it, that means I can’t get help! But, it makes sense. We have to show what we’re capable of. It won’t mean anything if we leech off of someone else’s work. Anyway, that’s the presentation. Present Mic tells us to walk to our designated battle centers. I stand up, trying to make sure my quarterstaff doesn’t hit anyone.
Kendo says, “It’s a shame we’re not together, but good luck guys. Don’t hesitate in destroying those bots. Rack up as many points as you can. And Inochi, do your best. Show that you aren’t completely Quirkless.”
“Heh, yeah. I’ll do that. Punch the heck outta those robots for me, Kendo,” I wish her luck. Kodai gives me a thumbs up while Ojiro smiles.
“We gotta get going. See you guys on the other side,” Ojiro says before leaving. Kodai leaves to her battle center, leaving Kendo and I here. She smiles one last time, walking away. Well, I gotta make everyone proud. I follow the line to my battleground, holding my quarterstaff with my left hand. Some people comment that I’m not confident with my Quirk because I have a weapon. Well, they’re technically not wrong, but I don’t want to tell them that I’m Quirkless. That would be an extremely bad move.
Anyway, I make it outside. The sun blinds me slightly before a mock ruined city behind fortress-like walls is front of the testers and I. I always seen this on TV, but I never thought it would be this large! It’s a playground for a giant essentially! As the shock wears off, all of us approach the entrance with Present Mic on a tower. The crowd disperses into their own groups. There’s a loud group with a stocky (and kinda robotic) blue-haired man with glasses scolding a green-haired boy. I honestly don’t know what’s going on there. I would intervene, but what the heck will I say? Besides, there’s a guy next to me who’s staring at my quarterstaff. He has gray hair and weird-looking eyebrows. He asks, “Hey bro, why'd ya got a staff around? Don’tcha got a Quirk?”
“My Quirk is this quarterstaff. It’s a pretty good weapon against robots, since they can probably break apart easily,” I tell him, spinning it around my arms and body. He takes a step back and laughs.
“Alright! Guess I hafta worry about cha! ‘Specially with that hidden Quirk of yours! What’s your name? I’m Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu!” he introduces himself with a thumb towards his chest. Why did his parents name him that?! Was it four “Tetsu’s” or seven?!)
Calmly, and not completely confused about his name, I greet him back, “Sanji Inochi. Good to meet you, Tetsutetsu.” I extend my hand and he gladly shakes it. Dang, he’s pretty strong from how hard he’s gripping my hand. I think he can recognize that I’m strong too.
“May the best man win!” he declares right as the…the gate’s opening?! Where’s the alarm?! The countdown?! I mean, I already see the robots glaring at us! What’s going on?! I look up at Present Mic along with pretty much everybody else!
“THE TEST STARTED! THERE’S NO COUNTDOWNS IN BATTLES!” he shouts at the top of his lungs, using his Quirk. Maybe?! I can’t tell when he’s using his Quirk or not! He’s just loud in general! But, crap! Tetsutetsu pats my shoulder and immediately runs into the battlefield with most of the other examinees!
I follow them without a second thought.
“I want to be a Hero, Kendo. A kind Hero who helps others. I don’t care about fame, money, I don’t care about any of that. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I want to see others happy, like how All Might does it.”
Like All Might…
That’s right! I have to be a Hero! No matter the costs! Just like All Might, I’ll save people just like him!