I cross my arms, blocking Midoriya’s punch. He was fairly obvious with it. In a practical situation, he would have used his Quirk and I would be a bloody mist. But, this isn’t Quirk training, isn’t it? Gripping his arm with my right, I lift him over my shoulder and slam him on his back. A pained cry leaves him, rustling on the ground hurt and dazed. Looks like the winner is Sanji Inochi, once again. I bend over slightly and extend my hand out. His eyes flutter open like he’s been asleep for over one hundred years. The sleeping prince clasps my arm, picking himself back up from his slumber (and defeat).
I pat his shoulder, criticizing, “A small… Well, it’s not small. I would be lying if I said that. It’s a big critique: Your attacks are too obvious. Try to mix things up. Add some kicks, maybe some grapples, anything to catch your opponent off guard. I know your Quirk can end fights with one punch, but that’s if you’re facing only one person.”
“I’ll keep the advice in mind! Thank you, Inochi! I still got a long way to go before I reach your skill, but I’ll train everyday to reach it!” Heh, he talks like an up and coming Pro. Frankly though, he shouldn’t reach my skill. It should be Master Kendo’s, or Kendo’s, maybe even Ojiro’s. They’re leagues higher than I am, since they’ve been training for many more years than I have.
I laugh at his heroic enthusiasm, saying, “You definitely will with talk like that. If you keep at it, you can beat up an entire class by yourself.” Midoriya laughs too, scratching his arm a little bit. You know, I’m shocked that U.A. doesn’t have any martial arts classes. It should be mandatory for all Hero Course students. Take yesterday as an example, I nearly defeated all my friends blindfolded due to their lack of hand-to-hand fighting experience. (The only reason I lost is someone accidentally kicked me in the groin.)
“By the way,” Midoriya gets my attention after we stop laughing, looking slightly serious, “Inochi, can I ask you something? It’s a personal question, and I’m sorry if this sounds rude or anything, but how are you in U.A.? You’re legally Quirkless, even with your Adoptive Muscle Memory.” Heh, it’s always about my Quirk isn’t it?
Ah, my Quirk... It’s been a long time since I went into my Mindscape. Let’s remind myself about what exactly my Quirk is.
My Quirk is called: Dreams. From researching stuff about Quirks on my own time (a week or two ago), it’s a Mental and Accumulation-type. Mental-type Quirks are rare on its own, but paired with Accumulation is even rarer. Yet though, the thing with Accumulation-types, it’s a condition for the Quirk to function properly. Like Suzuki, he needs his tails or else his Quirk can’t work. In my case, the Dreams I gather are my power. What’s the true purpose though? The true function? That, I can’t activate.
So, I’m stuck here reaping off the passive effects. My Adoptive Muscle Memory is one (could be the only one, it could be one of many). Mister Tokage said that it’s not good enough to be a Quirk on its own, since, like I said, it’s a passive effect. As an example, Shishida’s Quirk passively boosts his strength and size, but that in itself is not a Quirk. The transformation is.
However, there’s one thing I can activate: My Mindscape. The last time I went into it is weeks ago. My Mindscape lets me go into my own mind. Inside it, my Dreams (that I’ve been accumulating) are stored there in the form of two opaque, thin white walls that are bent inwards. I call them: Dream Mirrors. Basically, they’re flat TV screens that flicker through a person’s memories and life, but each memory lasts than a quarter of a second.
From the last time I entered my Mindscape, I have around 17,000 Dreams. If I’m close to a person in real life, then their Mirror is closer to me as a result. I can’t really walk around in my own mind though. Around me is an invisible box, trapping me inside. The only thing I can do there is watch my Dream Mirrors like a reality TV show.
How I get these Dreams in the first place? No idea! It could be from physical contact or some other means, but it’ll have to be an easy method. That’s one of the many mysteries about my Quirk. Now, I should answer Midoriya because my mind went deeply off-track. (I shouldn’t tell him about that , though.)
“Well,” I begin, scratching the back of my head, “training hard, of course! Even though I didn’t take out much robots, I saved a couple of people, Shiozaki and Tetsutetsu, if you believe it or not. From that zero-pointer you took down, it made a building collapse on us-”
Midoriya suddenly shouts, “What?! I almost killed you?!” He’s panicking. Heh, he should realize that he’s the reason why I passed that exam. Without that building, I would have failed. But uh, I don’t think he would stop panicking though...
“Uhm, back on topic! I trained since seventh grade to get where I am today. But, it wasn’t since around the middle of eighth grade where Master Kendo properly taught me,” I say, calming his nerves.
“But,” Midoriya mutters, holding on his shoulder, “even with your power, you didn’t consider that being a Quirkless Hero is impossible? Even with everyone telling you that you needed to face reality, that you couldn’t, you never believed them?”
Midoriya… You should like someone speaking from experience.
I stop scratching my head, crossing my arms together. I look at Midoriya, who’s looking back at me. His mouth is open, shocked, like I’m something that shouldn’t exist. “That’s right… I never believed them. I told myself to ignore what they said, telling myself that I will be a Pro Hero. That’s why I train every night, to the limit, to be one.”
“Really? You’re… You’re a really strong man, Inochi.” Midoriya compliments me, his voice getting softer. His eyes drift away, staring at everything but me. It’s nice that he thinks that, but it’s not the case.
I chuckle, looking out the window. “I’m not a strong person, just determined.” It’s time to change the conversation. I’m interested about Midoriya a little bit, so I think it’s time to ask a question of my own. “So, Midoriya… I’m wondering, why does Bakugo call you ‘Deku’ anyway? Him and Uraraka. It’s not a flattering nickname, yet you accept it.”
“Huh? Oh! Right… Well, Uraraka told me that it sounds like, ‘I can do it’ instead of the other way around. So, I kinda accepted it,” Midoriya explains, looking at me in the eyes again. It’s a good way of putting it, wholesome too! And if Uraraka, a girl, was able to influence Midoriya like that… then…
“So, a girl giving you a hypocorism… You know what that means, right Midoriya?” I smirk, trying to nudge him along. He has a blank look on his face. Does… Does he not get it? Come on, tell me that he gets it.
“I don’t understand.” Arg! Of course he said that! For a nerd, he’s really dense! Whatever, I do want to meet with Uraraka one day. She sounds like a sweetheart if she was able to change the meaning of “deku” like that. Seriously though, come on Midoriya! How do I explain this to him now?
“You’ll… I’ll… It’s…” I look at a clock. It’s time to wrap things up. “Hey, would you look at the time! We should really stop things here for today and continue tomorrow!” I pick up Midoriya’s back and put it in his arms. He stumbles slightly from me gently pushing him towards the door.
“Have a good time at U.S.J.!” I exclaim right before he leaves. There, that’s one explanation avoided. Go me…
God, why did I say that?
“Take this!” I slam down an action card, Attack, on the table. That deals enough damage to take out Miruko! That’s one less Pro to worry about! Tokage winces at her lost, but there must be more cards up her sleeve. (I hope it’s not literal!) She looks through her hand, seeing what to play. From her genius-level intellect, she must be going over hundreds of ways to defeat me! But, I have one plan! One, idiot-proof plan to defeat her! She knows exactly what to do, but she doesn’t account for the fact that I have no idea how to play this game!
Tokage holds onto a card, smirking. “Good move, Inochi. You’re pretty good, for a beginner. How can you deal with this?!” She-?! Endeavour?! His passive can deal periodic damage each round! At this rate, the city will be destroyed! I cannot let that happen! The people in this fake city placed their trust in me! How can I call myself a Pro Hero if I fail to protect them?! I won’t let any of you down! I swear on my name, that I’ll protect you!
“You… You have terrorized this city long enough! I will never back down, especially to you! Throw everything you got at me! I won’t lose! You know why, Tokage?” She shakes her head. There’s a twisted smile on her face, the smile that thinks she’ll win! Well, it’s time to change her tune once she sees my trump card!
“Because… He is here!” I exclaim with glory, bringing down All Might into the battlefield. His passive can instantly defeat any opponent’s Pro Hero regardless of defense! Say goodbye to Endeavour, his Hellflame is nothing against the Symbol of Peace! Tokage has her mouth wide open in shock, realizing that her easy victory is snatched away! The tide of the battle is on my side! And this isn’t my whole turn yet! “Come, All Might! Save the people of Musutafu!”
Let All Might’s presence give me a good dice roll! Here it comes! Five dice, rolling I need three civilians, and I can win within two rounds! They clatter against each other, against the table. The faces spin around with the civilian face taunts me. Come on! And… Yes! Four civilians and one attack! I sic All Might to punch the crap out of Yoroi Musha, but he isn’t down yet! Luckily for me, I’m close to victory! There’s no way that Tokage can win at this rate!
Defeat is in her face. She hides herself behind her cards, whimpering. Wait… It doesn’t sound like whimpering… It’s… laughter… The demon whose name is Setsuna Tokage reveals herself from her cards. This… This can’t be! I was supposed to win! The people were counting on me!
“Inochi, you just activated my trap card! Reveal yourself, Mount Lady! Activate your Titan Cliff!” Mount Lady?! Oh no, her passive! The city takes three damage! That’s exactly how much health it has! That means… That means I lost! To think that Tokage has such a card in her hand, knowing she could end me at any moment… How could anyone win against someone as smart as her?! The heartless woman says only two words at my defeat, “I win.”
I see now...there’s a hollow space where Tokage’s heart is supposed to be…
“...Curse you, daughter of Fuyushiro Tokage,” I mutter, just loud enough for her to hear. Tokage laughs at my face. That is the laugh of someone who destroyed Musutafu. Shamefully, I put the rest of my cards down and get up from the table. Monoma clicks his tongue with a head shake, disappointed in one of us, probably me.
“You should have been merciful, Tokage. What I just saw is the definition of true despair. The moment when one realizes that their hope is crushed,” Monoma tells her. Guess he was pitying me. How embarrassing... I quietly leave these two, letting Monoma take my place. I find myself sitting with Kodai, Manga, and Shiozaki. (To think, Mister Kan gave us free time to do whatever we want outside. And… I fell into despair because of it.)
When I sit down, they stop their conversations, turning to me. Ah, they want to listen to the tales of a defeated man. “Life... Life is nothing but despair and agony.”
In front of me, Manga speaks. Ah, he speaks a few words, but they’re the truth. “Tokage beat you?”
“Yes,” I meagerly reply. My head finds refuge, resting on the table. (It’s surprisingly cold considering the sun’s out.) Besides me, Kodai puts a hand on my shoulder in support. I could always count on her. My Kodai, silent, but always know what to do, what to say in the perfect moments.
“Inochi,” Kodai says my name with her soft voice. I pick my head up and we meet eyes. Hers are just as static as always, but she’s going to give me emotional support. She’s always good with that.
“You suck at that game.”
“He’s on the ground…” Shiozaki states, standing up from her seat to check up on me. Not only have I lost to a heartless lizard, I was also insulted by my (former) friend! Just look at her! Staring down at me with a slightly amused face. It’s adorable, could make the iciest of hearts melt, but that’s besides the point!
Shiozaki goes over to me, crouching down to my level. “Do you need help? You fell pretty hard.” She’s right, my arm and back is aching. It’s probably from training, not the actual fall though. I shake my head before I get back up. She goes back to her seat with Kodai and Manga.
(Kodai is studying for our test while Manga is playing/reading a visual novel. It’s about a guy who’s fighting a war to get a golden cup. Earlier, he told me that he’s going down the route with “the guy that sounds like Satan”. No idea what he means by that, and I don’t wanna know!)
I sit next to Kodai again, not bothering her. I don’t look at particularly anything for a minute or so. Just… ugh… At least Tokage seems happy with her win. (Speaking about her, her dad made her announce that we are, not in fact, dating. She told me it’s from “businessman issues”, which I don’t know how a daughter’s dating life fits in with that, but okay.)
“Inochi,” Rin calls me from the other tab- Nope, he’s not at the other table. He’s standing right next to me. Manga sees him too, hiding his face behind his game. I don’t think Rin is holding a grudge against him from what happened yesterday. (All the boys of 1-B almost died that day. Some of us didn’t make it out all in one piece…)
“Top of the… noon, Rin,” I greet him, remembering that it isn’t morning anymore. Rin greets me back with a smile and nod. Even with that cut (I think Recovery Girl healed him), I’d say Rin enjoyed the visit more than anyone. Him and Hayami talked all about blacksmithery, he took a good look around my arsenal, and actually knew how to use some of it, unlike someone we know.
“Is it true that Master Kendo has a Zabaniya’s sword? Rarely anyone had laid eyes on one, let alone having one!” Rin asks, geeking out a bit. I thought I heard Master Kendo defeating a Zabaniya, but… Oh, it’s that sword in his office isn’t it? The rosen one. That is one of the most beautiful swords I seen in my entire life. (No offense to Hayami’s creations.)
I nod, answering, “Yup. He has it in his office. It’s a gorgeous sword. I would love to handle it, but I’m afraid I might dirty it or something. Which reminds me, I need to ask him to tell me that story.” Rin’s eyes light up. He asks me rapid-fire questions about the exact details, if he can have a picture with it, come to the Dojo again, things like that. It’s so fast that I don’t have time to answer them!
Manga butts in in our conversation, “Wait, can I-!”
“No!” Rin and I shout at him in unison. We are not having a repeat of yesterday. Manga looks at us with his head forming into a teardrop. He silently plays his game without another word. I’m sorry that I shouted, but it needed to be said.
“Anyway,” I pull us back to the conversation at hand, ignoring Manga, “I’ll try to convince Master Kendo to let you visit again. We both, well, the three of us know what happened yesterday.” Rin gulps and nods.
Kendo comments from another table, “This is why you don’t play human jousting.” I cringe, trying not to remember that. But, I can still remember it so vividly...
“That was the best game of human jousting! Even though I almost got impaled, it was the best!” Awase argues back with a hand to his chest. He looks at me for support, but I shy my head away. I did not participate in that awful game. I was mainly focusing/panicking that, for some reason, Awase welded a bunch of my weapons together into lances! “Come on, Inochi! Say some-”
Kaibara speaks up, “Awase, did you forget that Inochi beat us up, blindfolded? ” Awase winces, rubbing his head. I wince too, remembering the fight. I still don’t know who kicked me. No one wanted to confess. To be fair though, everyone was pretty hurt from me beating them up, but still! They had the strength to kick me really hard.
“I know, but-”
What was th-?!
Holy crap! Iida just crashed into Kuroiro’s table! (Him and Komori are fine, thankfully! They barely dodged out of the way.) He looks pretty stressed out, his costume is partly colored in dirt and grime. Heh, was U.S.J. so bad that he had to escape? I thought he was strict on heroics training. Mister Kan runs up to him with his fists clenched. “Iida! Explain yourself!”
Iida falls to his hands and knees, breathing heavily. “V-Villains… They’re in U.S.J.!”
That can’t be possible! Villains?! This is supposed to be U.A.! This can’t be true, right?! Everyone has the same look of shock and disbelief in their faces… If it’s true, then 1-A is being attacked by actual Villains… Midoriya, everyone else… We turn to Iida and Mister Kan. Our mouths move, but not our voices.
Iida informs, “My class is trapped.! Thirteen and Mister Aizawa are heavily injured! We need assistance immediately!” Mister Kan nods and turns to all of us. He takes out his key and tosses it to Kendo, then pulling a radio out. He tells her to take everyone back to class. We quickly pack our things up.
Mister Kan turns on his radio and practically shouts, “This is Vlad King! There has been a Level Five security breach! I repeat, a Level Five security breach! Target: Class 1-A! Location: Unforeseen Simulation Joint! Number of Villains: Unknown!” After he reported this, he yells at us to get moving at the top of his lungs.
Kendo runs to the door with all of us following her without a word. Or maybe not. We might be shouting at each other. I don’t know. My body is moving, but my mind isn’t. Once we get inside, the alarm is sounded. It screeches that there has been a Villain attack. The school is being placed on lockdown. Through the halls, we make our way back to our class. Along the way, terrified students are running to their classrooms, calling their loved ones, shouting that this is how they die.
It’s… weird… I think the shock is wearing off on me. I'm starting to see everything clearly again. Like I thought before, it’s weird. The students, our schoolmates, they’re worried about dying. Don’t they know that dying comes apart of the job? It’s like they never thought that their lives will be in danger, like the concept of death doesn’t apply to them because they’re so young. I always jokingly thought that I would die sometimes, but death just became a next-door neighbor a few minutes ago.
Personally, I don’t really care.
The deafening noise of all these voices, I tune them out. Instead, my ears listen to my classmates, my friends. I finally start to hear them. Some of us are panicking, like Bondo, Manga, and Pony. In fact, Manga is being supported by Tetsutetsu. Everyone is trying to cheer them but they’re stressed out of their minds. (Heck, Kamakiri is letting Pony latch onto his arm.)
Then, there’s some of us who thrive in situations like these. (Well, in stressful situations. Life or death situations? I hope no one experienced those.) If I had to pick a few, Kendo, Tetsutetsu, Monoma, and a few others doesn’t seem to be worried. They’re used to the stress and pressure, so naturally, they can lead the class. (I think Tetsutetsu is yelling that we should help 1-A, but literally everyone is telling him it’s a bad idea.)
What about me? I’m only walking, slightly jogging, to class with everyone else. Passing through, gently pushing, other students out of the way. The loud alarm is still blaring, trying to make us go deaf. Finally, like the destination of a long journey, we reach our classroom. Kendo opens the door and let everyone inside the room. We barrel into the room like mindless zombies. I tried to stay back, but I got pushed in with everyone else. I manage to find safety at my desk, putting my things down. Kendo shuts the door and makes sure it’s locked. And with that, we’re safe.
Well, relatively. Manga is in the corner of the classroom, practically in tears. I watch as half the class go up and try to support him, but it isn’t working. He’s muttering something about Shojo and Villains. I… I would try to help him, but I don’t know what to say, and a lot of people are there already.
It goes on for about ten minutes, and I could only watch them.
From the crowd, Kendo parts and walks up to me, pulling us to the side. “Inochi, are you okay? You haven’t said anything.” I’m glad she’s checking up on me, but she should be focusing on Manga. He needs her support more than I do.
“I’m fine. You did a great job leading everyone here despite the Villain attack… God, I hope Ojiro and Midoriya are doing okay…” My mind flashes back to them. I know that they’re strong, but they’re up against Villains. There’s no safety net. Given a chance, these Villains will kill them.
She nods, saying, “I hope so too… I know risks like these comes with the job, but I’m afraid. For myself and our friends. What about you? Are you scared?”
I chuckle, putting a hand on her shoulder. Her face twists slightly, confused as to why I’m laughing. “Why would I be scared? You’re right, Kendo, it’s an occupational hazard, but I’m not letting it stop me. You shouldn’t let it stop you either. Fear can make cowards or heroes, and I’d rather be a hero.”
Kendo takes in what I said, staring at me for a second or so. She sighs, playfully being sick of me. (She knows I’m right.) “You always know what to say. I swear, that’s your Quirk. Anyway, I’m gonna help Pony now. Kamakiri’s trapped with her.” She pats my arm (gently, surprisingly) and walks away.
I take a look around the class. Manga still has half of us around him, the other half doing other stuff. Then, there’s me. Alone, not knowing what to do. Silently, I walk over to the large window. There’s nothing there, only the green grass, the trees swaying slightly in the wind, and the occasional bird.
I sigh, closing my eyes. My back feels like it’s floating on water, or maybe it feels like I’m slowly falling. A gentle white light hits my eyes, signaling that I’m inside. I haven’t entered my Mindscape in weeks. Why am I here though? I don’t know. It’s a bit selfish to stay here, when I could be helping my friends, but I don’t have a clue what to do.
Anyway, I finally open my eyes, being greeted with the familiar vast plain of white. It’s flat, with the floor being clear of everything. In the distance lies thousands of Dream Mirrors, all turned towards me. There’s more that are closer to me than last tim- 20,104. Okay, that number took over my brain for a second. I really gained three thousand more Dreams in a few weeks, huh?
I gaze up to the ceiling. Well, I can’t call it a ceiling. It’s an empty black sky. There’s nothing there. No moon, no stars, no nothing. It was a bit unnerving, but I gotten used to it. I always liked the night sky.
Anyway, like always, I put my arm out. My hand touches an invisible barrier. It was worth a try. I let my back hit the wall behind me, sitting against it. Now, let’s see, which Dream Mirror is the closest? It’s either Kendo’s or Tokage’s, but it’s hard to tell at this angle. I’m leaning towards Kendo’s, but who knows? (Suzuki’s pretty close too, so are a few others.)
Jeez though, to think that she would admit that she’s scared. I thought badasses like her don’t get scared. If anything, fear is afraid of Kendo! Hehe, but really though, telling me that is nice. It shows how much she trusts me, revealing something like that. Especially with “girls like her”, as Tokage put it. She went on about Kendo’s “tomboyish personality” and “spunky attitude”. If only she saw Kendo with horror movies. She’s terrified of them.
A small laugh comes out. “You really are a mess, Kendo…”
Her Dream Mirror… It’s in front of me now, just outside the barrier. I can see it clearly now, instead of her Mirror being tens of meters away. A ton of memories are playing out, like some sort of montage being speeded up. Huh, why did it come to me? Maybe because I said her name? As a result, my Mindscape brought her Mirror to me. That’s the most plausible explanation…
I stand back up, walking up to her Mirror. What do I do with this? Touch it, maybe? It could explode, but I’m pretty sure I can’t die in my own head. Alright then, let’s see if I can touch it. I slowly press my palm against the wall and…! Nothing. Figured, it’s just outside the wall. It’s stupid to think that I can actually touch it-!
“Kendo, why do you want to be a Pro Hero?”
That’s my voice… Wait, I remember this conversation! It was around our first test of the year, where I fought Kamakiri and collected weird rescue balls. After I found Kendo at the Dojo, we talked about her father, Kaito. She told me all kinds of stories about him. This was near the end, just before the sun was about to come up.
“You don’t know? My dad, obviously. I’ve always looked up to him as the greatest Pro Hero in the world, greater than All Might. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be like just him.”
“I had a feeling. I mean, it’s not like you take care of his motorcycle, inherited his Quirk, have his class ring, or anythin- Ow!”
“Shut up, hehe. But yeah, ever since he’s… disappeared… Mom was really depressed. For her, I’d stop at nothing to find him. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive, but I want closure. For me, and especially for Mom.”
“Oh shoot, I’m sorry! That’s a bit insensitive of me to go on about my own parents, when you don’t know your own.”
“Don’t apologize, Kendo. I don’t mind! They’re not a sore topic for me, since I don’t really remember them. As for your dad, I know you’ll find him. I know we’ll find him, because I’m helping you on this quest.”
“Don’t ‘Inochi’ me. I’m helping you find your father, end of story. Whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with your sidekick until kingdom come.”
“You’re not my sidekick.”
“Really? All sidekicks get their bosses a cup of coffee every single day. Come on, doesn’t that sound like sidekick business to you?”
“It sounds like an unpaid intern.”
“Jeez, Inochi! What about you? Why do you wanna be a Pro Hero?”
“Me? Well… I-”
The memory cuts off, and the Mirror goes back to its original place . I think… I think I understand the Dream Mirrors now. All of them have memories of their Dreams, but all of them have one thing in common: Me. In every Mirror I’ve seen, I’m always in them. It’s our memories that makes some Mirrors closer than others. That also serves as to why Suzuki’s Mirror is close too, despite us not having a good friendship. He told me, plenty of times, why he wants to be a Hero.
Much like me, Suzuki was inspired by All Might’s too. I wanted to save people, while he wanted the fame and glory. I remember when I knew, when I knew that this job is right for me.
It was a simple day, the Day , where I wanted to be a Pro Hero. It wasn’t a continuous thing, like Kendo and her father, but one single moment that would solidify my life.
It was seventh grade, back in Kibo. It was winter, a winter evening, on the brink of night. (Can’t call it a “day”, can I?) Cold, I remember it was freezing. My foster parents, I wouldn’t call them “parents”, only gave me a thin hoodie that barely did anything. That was the only warmth I had outside. I remember how my body shivered, jittering, begging to start a fire somewhere.
In fact, I think it the day after snow fell. It was below zero, so I was really freezing. I didn’t have snow boots on, only the shoes I wear all-year round. So, snow got into my shoes and soaked my socks. It was already uncomfortable, but it became almost unbearable. I’m surprised I didn’t get hypothermia, but I wasn’t worried at the time.
Because I didn’t care.
I didn’t care that I was freezing to death. I was walking to a park, the same one I’d go to whenever I had free time. It was a beautiful park, even more so with the snow. I couldn’t wait to go there and see the snow covering it for the first time. My mind wanted to run there, but my legs couldn’t.
The park… It was my safe haven. Safe from school, safe from my “home”, safe from everyone.
And so, my legs walked. The sound of my footsteps crushing the snow beneath me sounded like I was crushing small ants, who screamed at me to stop. I adjusted my hoodie, trying to hide myself from the few people that was outside. I tried to hide my body, which was the same color as the sky. My heart was beating slowly, like the cold itself was chilling it to a halt.
The park was my safe haven. Safe from school. Safe from all of my bullies, safe from my teachers. My bullies told me to give up, that I wouldn’t do anything good with my life. They said it’s why my parents gave me up, because I was basically Quirkless. They made sure that I knew, because they humiliated and beaten me. Especially... Suzuki. My teachers stood there and watched. They fully believed the same thing, so they did nothing.
“A Quirkless boy is a waste,” they often said. Even though I had a Quirk, they thought me lower than even the other Quirkless in my school. After all, it’s one thing to not be born with a Quirk… It’s another to be completely unable to use one. That’s how school went. It was a place for endless bullying. They tried to break my hopes, my wants, my desires to be.
It didn’t work. I stopped caring about those things.
And so, my legs walked. The sound of my footsteps stomping the soft blanket of snow beneath me was like fabric tearing. I adjusted my hoodie, trying to hide myself from the only people roaming the evening. I tried to hide my body, which was the same color as the ocean. My heart was beating slowly, like it was standing on its last legs.
The park was my safe haven. Safe from “home”, safe from my “family”, safe from their “love”. All for my life, I was bounced around foster homes. One after another, after another. My first foster “home”, when I was five, my “parents” didn’t care much about me. Didn’t really feed me or anything like that. They often chatted to their friends about how much of a pain I was. One day, I was sent to another “home”. That time, the man of the house didn’t take too kindly for a Quirkless boy like me. Unluckily, he was also the “parent” that I stayed with the longest. From that day on, pain was a daily occurrence to me. It was something to get used to, to deal with. He usually did it at night, when I was sleeping. A good night’s sleep wasn’t a thing to me.
“Quirkless trash,” he often said. Another “home”, pain was still my constant companion. They changed it up a little from last time. Another “home”, easy on pain, simply didn’t care. Another “home”, didn’t care and hard on pain. And another, same thing. Eventually, I stopped counting. All these “homes”, they tried breaking my body, my sense of security, my safety.
It didn’t work. I stopped caring about those things.
And so, my legs walked. The sound of my footsteps packing the snow underneath me, I adjusted my hoodie, my heart was slowly beating, it was all the same. It was all the same. It was routine. It was a cycle that couldn’t end itself, but I could end it. The park was my safe haven. It was the only thing I cared about.
I felt like I couldn’t do anything else.
And so, my legs walked. It walked for a good while, in sloppy rhythm, not in a straight line, pretty much all over the place. But then, somehow, I stopped. The sunset, with its last remaining ray, blinded my eyes. Naturally, I flinched and looked away. Looked away, right at a TV screen. I’m not a religious man, but it was like God telling me to watch this. At least, that’s what I think when I look back on this.
A voice startled me.
Of course, that voice belonged to All Might. Sanji back then, who was so nervous and timid, stopped in front of an electronics store. Stopped in front of a window with a large flat-screen TV on display. On it, a reporter was interviewing All Might after he defeated yet another Villain. I saw the defeated man being dragged into a large police van. It was an amusing sight.
“All Might,” the reporter said with beaming eyes, trying not to visibly shake in excitement, “that’s one more Villain off the streets of Kanazawa-”
The crowd around them started to chant, interrupting, “All Might! All Might! All Might!” All Might laughed and waved his hand down, motioning the crowd to quiet down. In an instant, they go deathly silent. The reporter thanked All Might and continued the interview.
She asked him, “Hehe, I see a lot of teenagers in this crowd, All Might! Isn’t the U.A. Entrance Exam coming up this spring? What advice do you have to give to these future Pro Heroes?” All Might showcased his famous smile and turned to the camera. Turned to me, it felt like. It was a blessing that All Might was gazing at me, of all people. Even though he actually wasn’t, I wanted to believe.
He said, “Young one, U.A. is a terrific school to breed heroism, to push everything you have to your limits, and go beyond that! Push your body, your mind, your Quirk to where you haven’t gone before! That’s how you become a Pro Hero!”
“Anyone can be a Hero, right, All Might?” A boy from the crowd asked him. The camera was fixated on All Might still. He let out a small laugh, his chest bellowing slightly. All Might nodded, his darkened eyes staring brightly into my own, nearly gone.
can be a Hero! You can be a Hero, you, you, and you! Anyone!” All Might exclaimed, pointing to random people in the crowd. Small cheers came from them, so happily. “Heroism is indiscriminate! No matter where you were born, who you are, what you are, all you need is the single belief to save those who need saving and punish those who need punishing!”
All Might stepped forward and extended his hand towards the camera. He spoke the words that I’ll never forget, “A true Hero sacrifices everything with a smile, that speaks of fearlessness and the will to preserve peace, without saying a single word. With this, you can be the greatest Hero.” The crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
“I’ll be like you, All Might!”
“I’ll save over a million people!”
“Like you, I’ll be a great Hero!”
The segment ended, going back to the news station.
It was only a short speech that lasted no longer than five minutes. It was all it took for me to believe. Maybe I believed from my naivete, or it could be me, wanting to have something to have faith in. It didn’t matter. I was determined, dogged, to be a Hero. Logic didn’t have a place in my mind. Never once I thought that it was impossible for a Quirkless boy like me, could ever possibly become a great Pro Hero. It was the reverse. A boy like me could become an amazing Pro Hero, despite my obstacles.
I could do it. It was my hope, my dream. When my classmates found out that I wanted to be a Hero, they always shouted that it was unrealistic, it will never happen, I should give up, it was impossibl e. Even though I never dreamt, I know that it wasn’t true. Dreams are the only things that can break the realm of possibility, turning the “probably”, the “maybe”, the “never”, into “I will”. So, why couldn’t my dream do that?
I whispered to myself, when the sun was down, when the moon dimly lit up the darkened-blue sky, “I can save people… Sacrifice everything for them… That’s what a true Hero does… I could be one.” I clenched my fist, holding it to my chest before everything relaxes.
And so, I ran. The sounds of my footsteps against the darkened snow became the music to my life. My heart raced, beating rapidly along with my footsteps. The cold was no longer a thing I felt. As I ran, I looked up at the sky and saw the first star out. I couldn’t help but smile brightly, with the same light that All Might had on his.
“I’ll train, I’ll train hard. All night, I won’t stop. I will be a Hero, All Might!”
A few months later, a month into eight grade, I moved into a home with a man named Gin, also known as Vilemouth. The summer went by and came September. That September, he sent me to Musutafu. In the city, the home of U.A., I was taken into my new home. A family took care of me, treated me as one of their own.
The old man of the house is a famous Pro Hero during the time when All Might was a simple student. He is considered to be a master of all martial arts. Two of the toughest women I know live with him, and on the border of dropping him in an elderly home. One of them treated me like her own son. The other is someone I can call a “true friend”. It was something that I needed, something that I didn’t expect to have such an abundance of.
March came along, and All Might himself accepted us two into the best Hero school in Japan, despite the school’s mistake. Even though it was a simple error, I was training to be a Hero, just like I always wanted.
Along the way, I became friends with an adorable silent girl, who I basically adopted at this point, and an heiress, which I didn’t realize for months. At U.A., I got to know my class. Even though it’s been weeks, all of us became quick friends. Drama happened, we dealt with it using “the power of friendship” as one nerdy guy put it.
I am here! I made it through that life I had, and came out a new man! Like All Might, I’ll be a selfless Hero and save everyone in need! It’s the only thing I want in my life. No, that isn’t true. I have one more thing that I want: My friends being Heroes with me.
That’s why… That’s why I want to be a Pro Hero.
I take a deep breath in, back in the real world. I’m looking out the window, just like before. It’s about time I stopped staring out, so I turn around. Manga is sitting at his seat, on the phone with someone. It must be Shojo or his parents. (I’m happy he calmed down…) Pony’s calmed down too, with Kamakiri sitting at the desk beside her. He’s letting her talk about her favorite anime, which seems to cheer her up. Bondo has Shoda and Rin with him. They’re trying to clean his Cedemine off the floor.
“Welcome back, Inochi,” Kendo greets me with a small smile. She’s leaning against a wall, where it meets the glass. I managed to look over her somehow. “Thanks for not helping me, but I’m glad you’re back to reality. Also, I could be imagining things, but your eyes went completely white. It was glowing slightly too. What’s up with that?”
My… My eyes went white? (How long exactly?!) God, of course going into my Mindscape had a visible side effect! I wished I could have seen it for myself, but that’s a little hard considering the limits of the human body. Anyway, I’m glad Kendo told me that. As a sign of our friendship and our mutual trust in each other, I’m lying to her. “Well-”
“LOCKDOWN ENDED! THE VILLAINS ARE APPREHENDED! I REPEAT, THE VILLAINS ARE APPREHENDED! SCHOOL WILL BE ENDED EARLY, SO PLEASE WAIT IN YOUR CLASSROOMS FOR DISMISSAL!”
(How long was I in my Mindscape?!)
But, thank God for that! From the sound of it, 1-A is safe! I clap and cheer from the sheer feeling of relief. Tokage follows my lead, then Awase, finally, everyone is making a loud ruckus. It was so loud, that the classes near us start does the same thing. Soon, the entire school is only applause and cheers, drowning out the announcements.
About ten minutes later, Mister Kan comes back in the room. He tells us what happened. Mister Aizawa and Thirteen was heavily injured thanks to the Villains. All of 1-A made it out without any major injuries. There was a ton of Villains too, but there were a few that he points out. The leader, a man with gray-blue hair, a man with a Warping-type Quirk, and a brainless monster that seemingly had more than one Quirk.
It was unbelievable when we first heard it. I have a feeling that there’ll be more unbelievable things coming our way, though. This new Villain group declared an act of war against hero society, and can back it up. It’ll definitely shake the foundations to its core. I can already sense Japan going up to arms about this.
Something like this is like the time before Pax Heros. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but is it the beginning of the end for this era?
After an hour or two, Kendo and I leave, saying goodbye to our friends. We have to study for our test, which isn’t canceled, but I’m not complaining. Along the way to the exit, we find a little class of Heroes. Their costumes are tattered, stained with dirt and blood. The look on their faces are utter exhaustion, but there's a small light in their eyes. From knowing that they survived? Or the fact that they fought actual Villains? I’d bet it’s both. Midoriya’s in the front of the class, while Ojiro and Hagakure are in the back.
“You know, I wanna lie down in my bed and never get up,” Ashido tells Kaminari and Kirishima. (Is it me, or does a lot of people have last names that start with “K”?) Kaminari tiredly nods, his arms hanging low.
“I’m pretty sure we have school tomorrow,” Sero says, groaning. He’s right, the school didn’t announce that tomorrow would be canceled. Again, I’m not complaining, but Mister Aizawa and Thirteen are out for who knows how long. (Also, why is the entire class groaning, including Kendo?)
“Let’s not act like this! It’s another day of education! It’ll be vital to our growth as responsible Pro Heroes!” Iida tries to reprimand everyone for groaning, but they groan even louder. (Even Kendo for some reason!) He puts his robot arm down to his side, defeated.
“If anything, U.A. should teach Bakugo to be responsible,” Kaminari tease-
“What the hell are you tryna say, Thunderhead?!” Bakugo pushes through the crowd and gets real close to Kaminari’s face. Some of them are laughing, while some are shaking their heads in disappointment.
“Uhm… uh… hmm,” Kaminari stumbles, looking around for any help. He’s not getting any help from his classmates. A defeated look grows, but then he sees Kendo and I. We’re standing on the other side of the hallway, silently watching them. He manages, with the small space in between him and Bakugo, to point at us. “It’s the martial arts duo! What’re you doing here?”
1-A takes their attention off of these two and onto us. Hagakure does a cute little wave. (I’m so glad she has gloves on, or else I wouldn’t be able to tell.) I take a step forward, talking first. “We were going home. Nice to see that all of you are alive and well.”
Ojiro nods, his tail drooping slightly. “It was really stressful. You should have seen the Villains’ leader, Inochi. He really hurt Mister Aizawa.” At the mention of him, everyone sighs (except for Bakugo and Todoroki).
“But because of him, all of us are safe!” Uraraka exclaims, smiling brightly. Heh, she’s exactly how I’d imagine her to be. Bubbly, cheerful, and innocent. I see why Midoriya wears his nickname proud. Who wouldn’t, if she was telling you that?
“Yeah, All Might saved us in the nick of time.” Midoriya adds, looking at his right hand. I heard that All Might defeated that monster. Said “Plus Ultra” and everything too. He saved 1-A just in time… That’s why he’s the world’s greatest Pro Hero.
“That’s great, Midoriya. Anyway, we gotta get going. Have a good day, you all!” Kendo says goodbye, dragging me along with her I try my best to say goodbye before we leave 1-A behind to their own devices, but all that comes out is a jumble of words. The reason why she’s nearly dislocating my arm is because of Tokage. She’s our ride out of here because, supposedly, “there’s an army of reporters ready to tear the U.A. Barrier down”.
Once we go outside… she’s completely right. It seems like all of Japan’s reporters are here! It’s triple the size from the other day. Principal Nezu and a few other staff members are trying to calm them down, but a beast like this cannot be tamed. I say, full of dread, “...Kendo, you might want to think about what coffin I should be in.”
“Don’t be so dramatic. Come on, Yui and Tokage are waiting for us. They’re at the side exit,” Kendo points to the right. One, there’s a side exit? Two, if there’s a side exit, how did none of the reporters go there? Without my questions being answered, Kendo leads me off to the right of the building.
We pass some students, some statues of famous Pro Heroes (one of them being Master Kendo), and the like, we reach the side exit. Well, if someone can call it that. It’s a drop-off zone for trucks. There’s a small gate, large enough for one, and behind that is a bigger gate akin to the U.A. Barrier. In one of the parking spots is a nice, luxurious black car. Kodai, Tokage, and her father are waiting on the sidewalk. (They’re silent.)
We approach them. There’s no one but us. No workers, no staff, no students, no one. It’s silent, eerily silent. I’d expect someone else would be here, but it’s just us.
Mister Tokage sees us. He puts his phone in his pocket and glares at us. Wait, he’s glaring at me . Crap, it seems like I need that coffin! I stop in my tracks and look away, trying to avoid his gaze. His footsteps get closer and closer, before I can see only his black suit, not daring to look up at his face. Kendo asks, her voice worried, “W-What’s going on?”
Geh… What… What the hell…? Why… Why did he punch me? It hurt a lot too. He’s so much stronger than he looks. Kendo and Kodai run to my side, picking me up. I feel blood coming out of my mouth. Tokage gets in front of her dad. His face is expressionless, only staring down at his bloody hand. Stoically, he pulls out a red fabric of some kind and wipes the blood off.
Kendo yells at Mister Tokage, “Why the fuck did you punch him?!” I try to grab her shoulder, but Kodai doesn’t let me. Or… I think I’m too weak at the moment… Tokage defensively puts her hands up, while Mister Tokage continues to not react. He’s still cleaning the blood off of his knuckles, my blood.
Tokage pleads, “Kendo, give him a chance to explai-”
“Sorry,” Mister Tokage simply says, giving another piece of fabric to Kodai. She starts wiping the blood off of me. “My outburst wasn’t apart of the plan, but I am unhappy with you, Inochi. Don’t ruin my daughter’s future, the very thing we worked so hard for, with these tricks you two festered. Remember, you were never meant to be in the Hero Course. With my say, you can and will be taken off.“
Kendo puts her fists down and turns to me, asking in disbelief, “What does he mean, Inochi?”
Tokage asks me too, with the same face of shock, “Is it true?”
“Inochi…” Kodai’s voice trails off, holding the fabric in her hand.
Without a word, Mister Tokage takes it from Kodai and leaves, leaving me with them. The secret’s out, now. It’s out... Honestly, I don’t know how I should feel, especially about Mister Tokage. That’s a different matter completely. I sigh, looking at the three of them. It all started before the Golden Week event, when Mister Tokage asked me to stay behind in the car.
“You were never meant to be in the Hero Course, Mister Inochi. You scored well on the written portion and the practical portion of the Entrance Exam. Normally, that would put you in the Hero Course, but there was one issue. Investors, including me, had one stipulation that U.A. had to follow if they want to receive our funding. No Quirkless, legally or otherwise, should be brought into the Hero Courses. We had this rule because we wanted to ensure the best candidates for the program.
That also means that, yes, there was Quirkless students before you, but they were few in numbers, and all of them were involved in Support and Management, not the General and Hero Course. So, Mister Inochi, you are the first legally Quirkless man training to be a Pro Hero. First in history.
It should have been impossible, but impossibility doesn’t account for human input. In this case, animal input. Principal Nezu, of all people, accidentally added you to 1-B’s roster, when you were supposed to be in Class 1-E. How no one caught on to this? No one knows. Nonetheless, we, the investors, found out on the first day of school. We demanded that you would be taken out of 1-B, but Nezu refused.
He said, ‘Watch him, why don’t you? If he shows great qualities of a Hero, then he should stay in! If not, I’ll yank him out! Simple as that!’
And so, we did. So far, you shown potential, but you are still under heavy watch. If you wish to remain in the Hero Course, then you have to continue to impress us and remain in our good graces. If not, you will be removed without hesitation. Do you understand, Mister Inochi?”
“I… I understand. Thank you, for telling me.”
Kendo yells, bringing me back, “Inochi! Answer us! Explain to me, why the hell you weren’t meant to be in the Hero Course?!” Tokage and Kodai have betrayed looks on their faces. I never knew they would look at me like that.
“It’s why he held me back on the day of the Golden Week event. I lied to you, when I said he interrogated me about Tokage.” I start the explanation, leaning against a wall. Kendo and Tokage glance at each other, then at me. “U.A.’s investors, including him, had a rule for people who passed the Entrance Exam: No Quirkless allowed in the Hero Course.”
“How did you get in, then?” Kodai asks. I would be happy that she’s saying more than one word, but now’s not the time.
“There was a mistake with my placement. Instead of 1-E, a General Department class, somehow, I was put into 1-B. I’m only here because of luck. And, if I want to stay here, then I have to impress them, show them that I belong here,” I finish my explanation. There, finally got out with it. Tokage doesn’t say anything. She hides herself behind her hair again, not wanting to speak to me. It’s not out of anger, I can tell when she’s angry, but out of shame. Kodai goes back to her silent self again.
Kendo is the only one who could say anything, “Why didn’t you tell us? We could have helped you. Do you not trust us?” I knew she would say that. She doesn’t sound angry in me, just disappointed.
I sigh, staring at the ground. “I do, but I don’t want to burden all of you with my issues. It’s selfish of me. Especially since Suzuki came along, Kendo. You were so determined to beat him that I never bothered to think about what Mister Tokage said.”
“If I had known, I would have made you the center of everything! You wouldn’t have to worry about getting kicked out, because I know you can wow them once and never look back again!” Kendo goes into hypotheticals. She could be right, could be wrong, but does it matter? No, and she should know that I hate attention.
I argue, not raising my voice, “You know that I hate attention, Kendo. I don’t like when I walk down the street, someone would point me out. It’s not for me. There’s other people more deserving of it.”
Unlike me, Kendo’s raising her voice. “My God, can you stop going about being selfless?! I admire it, but selfishness is necessary sometimes! You need it if you want to get ahead, especially in a competitive school like this. I only want to help you, Inochi!” Kendo gets closer to me. I can barely see the tip of her shoes, still not looking up.
I mutter under my breath, “I only want to help you, too…”
“Guys, we should get going now,” Tokage tells us. Kodai, surprisingly, says the same thing. I nod, getting off of the wall. In silence, we walk to Haruto’s car. He’s waiting inside for us, not saving a word. Tokage sits in the front with him while the rest of us sit in the back. Kodai is between Kendo and I, which is a good thing. I would have to deal with her back home, not in the car. Maybe Master Kendo and Hayami too.
Haruto starts driving. U.A. gets distant. We take the other way from the reporters blocking the road. The city goes by again. There’s a large amount of traffic going into U.A., parents who want to pick their kids up. I look out the window, not looking at anything, really. We’re not talking too, so it’s a quiet ride back home.
A quiet ride, with nothing happening.
Kendo and I are the first stop. We get out of the car, saying goodbye to Kodai and Tokage. Hayami and Master Kendo are waiting for us outside. They, well, Hayami greets us with hugs. She says that she’s glad that we’re safe. Her eyes cock up a little, noticing the uneasy rift, but she doesn’t bring it up. Master Kendo complains that we should have fought the Villains instead, which prompts Hayami to smack him for the umpteenth time.
We go inside after that. My body feels a bit heavier from exhaustion, but it’s not going to stop me from training tonight, punching everything out of me. I put my things down, taking my shoes off, the usual routine. Thankfully, it’s a calm evening. Kendo and I don’t say a word to each other about what happened. All four of us sit around in the living room watching the news, who’re investigating the Villains. From interrogations, the grunt Villains remain loyal to the leader, who’s named Tomura Shigaraki. He’s leading the League of Villains, as some grunts stated. He’s public enemy number one now.
When it’s curfew, we go upstairs while Master Kendo and Hayami talk in the living room. I think they’re talking about us. I go into my roo-
“Inochi,” Kendo gets my attention. I turn to her with my undivided attention. “Sorry for yelling at you earlier.” She forgives me? Just like that? I thought I’ll have another round of scolding or the silent treatment.
“It’s fine,” I accept it, smiling like I always do, “I don’t blame you. It was a bit of a jerk move on my part, but thank you for not telling Hayami and Master Kendo.” Kendo hums, smiling- No, she’s smirking. Oh, this is why she didn’t scold me. She has something else in mind.
“It is and thanks, but I’m helping you stay in 1-B. You know how? Two words: Sports Festival. It’s coming up in a few weeks. We’re going to train together, whether you like it or not,” she tells me her good-willed intentions.
I laugh slightly. “Kend-”
She interrupts me, “Don’t tell me that it isn’t my problem. We’ll show Mister Tokage and the rest of the investors that you can be a great Hero. Face it, Inochi, you’re stuck with your sidekick for a long time.”
Heh, how the tables have turned? “Alright, you win… Sidekick ,” I tease her before quickly going into my room and locking the door. Immediately, she tries to open it.
“You asshole! You were supposed to say that I’m not!”
“I can’t hear you, Sidekick! There’s a door between us!”
“Open this door or I’ll-!”