Actions

Work Header

Dreaming of Stars

Chapter Text

 

“You know this already, but he was a great man. Never cared about himself though no matter how hard I tried. It’s… God, I can’t believe that we were kids back then. Anyway...we met in the middle of our eighth grade year. He was extremely shy, which he obviously grew out of. And, once we got to U.A., I… I didn’t know how much our lives would change. How much he had to change in order to be a Hero he truly needed to be...”

 

~~~

 

Sanji Inochi

The wind feels nice. Not too cold. It’s the kind of cold that reminds a man that he’s still alive. That he, in fact, can still feel a chill crawling up his spine. It’s a refreshing day in Kibo. Summer is slowly being replaced by fall. September is always a great month to walk around in. Not too scorching hot, not too freezing cold. Just…in-between. Lovely in-between. I wouldn’t have this any other way.

 

Jeez, it’s five months, six months until March. Until the Entrance Exam. I should be training right now. By no means I would call myself a weak person, but I’m not necessarily strong either. Heck, I’m Quirkless. Well, legally Quirkless to be exact. In order to pass the exam, I need to train my body to its maximum limit and go beyond that. I need to be the best Quirkless man out there, because I’m not gonna awaken to my Quirk anytime soon. No, I don’t expect to awake to it until years from now. There’s no possible way to use its intended purpose. I looked on the internet and no luck. No method could forcibly activate it. That’s the life of a Quirkless, but I’m not letting that stop me. My classmates make fun of the fact that I try to be a Hero, but I don’t care. Suzuki tells me that I won’t be a Hero, but I can be. I’ll be a Hero. It’s the only thing I want in life is to help others. No fame, no fortune. Just that. I want to save people just like All Might and smile like him. I know that countless others are fighting for the same goal, but just this once, I have to win. It’s selfish thinking about it, even more so doing it, but it’s necessary. I don’t know what the Exam’s gonna be like, so I need to study and train. I can’t be a hulking brute, I have to be a somewhat-educated hulking brute. That’s why I spend most of my time at a gym or a library, and a couple of school clubs. Got nowhere else to go other than Gin, my foster father, but I usually call him my “foster guardian”. (I don’t like to use the word “father”.) Compared to others, he’s pretty good despite being an alcoholic. He’s a retired Pro Hero, but he cares about me. Doesn’t want me to get hurt, doesn’t want me to suffer. He’s a good man, just fell onto hard times.

 

It’s…kinda sad, to be honest. I wish I could help him, but I don’t think I can do anything. He’s a man with his own regrets and secrets, while I’m just a kid who doesn’t know what my family’s like. I barely remember them. It’s only one memory, and it’s blurry. My dad definitely had short white hair while my mom had long black hair. I think… I think there was someone else, multiple “someone else’s” maybe, but I can’t remember. I don’t know their Quirks either, so my Quirk could’ve passed down to me or be a mutation. Either way, I can’t fix that itching question. I’m a foster kid since I was five. Family isn’t much of a thing to me. (I mean, if I’m going by my first name, Sanji, then I’m the third son. I must have two older brothers.) And, about my Quirk, I can use it somewhat despite the definition of “legally Quirkless”, which means I have a Quirk but cannot use it. For example, if a Pro Hero needs his hands to use his Quirk like spitting out fire or something. On a mission, their hands get amputated. Thus, they became legally Quirkless. The other way a person can be Quirkless is by birth, being incredibly unlucky. And, I’m not that kind of Quirkless. I know for a fact that I have a Quirk because I can use it to a degree. It’s just… complicated to say the least. 

 

It’s called “Dreams”. That’s my Quirk.

 

My life really sucks, doesn’t it? It’s insulting to know about my own Quirk. For a guy whose last name is “Inochi”, life had it out for me, but I’m trying to change that. I got dealt a bad hand for sure, but I’m using it to get a royal flush. I have to-

 

Bzzzt! Bzzzt!

 

Never mind, that’ll have to wait. My phone’s buzzing. I take it out and look at the soft vibrant screen. It’s Gin. He texted me, “Sanji, come home. I have something to tell you.” If he’s texting me, then it’s really important. He knows that I want to be a Hero, so maybe it involves that? Who knows... Only the man himself can answer. I get off of a bench and start walking. It’s gonna take a while to get home.

 

After about twenty minutes, I’m in the main street of Kibo where stores are a common occurrence. The pedestrians mostly walk on the streets with a few exceptions who bike or drive. I usually go to the gym or the library because again, the U.A. Entrance Exam is only months away. Unfortunately, at the end of the road is my middle school: Kibo Middle School. Kibo isn’t the largest town, but it’s also not the smallest. It’s small enough that mostly everyone knows everyone. With that, everyone knows me: Sanji Inochi, the legally Quirkless man. In a world like this, someone like me…it’s not a good match-up. In fact, one of my classmates, Saito, sees me. He smiles widely like we’re best friends. He exclaims like we’re practically brothers, “Inochi! Wanna see me pitch a fast one? Watch, this one’s goin’ one-sixty!.” He’s unusually friendly… Must not be in the mood to jab at me.

 

I silently nod, watching him carefully. We’re in a pitching range that’s pretty much outdoors. I know Saito’s pretty good at baseball. He’s the star pitcher on the team. He gets into position and spit his imaginary saliva out. I watch his fingers grip the baseball, letting it get to know its texture before his arm shoots forward like a cannon, throwing it into the net at front. The speed gun calculates Saito’s pitch and he’s right. It went one hundred sixty-five kilometers per hour. In the U.S., that’s over one hundred miles per hour. Saito laughs and taunts, “Hey! Think you can pitch like that? C’mon, I wanna see you try!”

 

“I-I rather not… I have to get home,” I tell him, but my voice isn’t strong enough. He puts a ball in my hand and pushes me to the designated mound. Crap, guess I don’t have a choice here… I might as well get this over with and move on, because Saito won’t take “no” for an answer. 

 

He says, “I’m taking a video.” Oh, so that’s what he’s doing… Saito’s filming this to embarass me. I sigh, holding the ball in my palm. You know, my treatment won’t get worse after this. A video is nothing compared to being Quirkless. So I get in the same position that Saito was in. I pull my hood down, letting my hair be free. I lock eyes with the net. The center: That’s my target. Alright… In an instant, I pull my arm back and pitch it directly in the middle within a split second. The speed gun quickly calculates my speed to be one hundred sixty-six kilometers per hour. Huh, that was better than Saito’s? Heh, guess I’m stronger than I look. My shoulder hurts a bit, which explains why pitchers don’t pitch that high consistently. Saito himself looks a bit shocked. He asks, “Inochi… Did you ever pitch before? In your entire life? Because fuckin’ hell, you’re supposed to be a Quirkless.”

 

I put my hood back on and stuff my hands in my pockets. I answer, turning away from him, “N-No… Never in my life. Can… Can I go home now? My foster guardian needs me for something, a-and I’d rather not keep him waiting.” Saito grunts, gesturing me to get out. I do so too eagerly to be honest, quickly making my way to Gin’s. Don’t know how everyone will react to that, but it’s not gonna be good. I walk faster, dodging all of the people out on the streets. Some make a few comments, but most leave me alone. After more twenty minutes, I’m at home. The sun went down already. The sky’s a mix of yellow and blue, slowly getting darker as each second passes. My home’s quaint. It’s not the nicest place, but it’s far from the worst. Our trash is out, which is mostly filled with bottles. I don’t mind the smell. It’s not pleasant, but I can live with it. I take my key out and unlock the door. For some reason, I hesitate for a second before I open the door. With a sigh, I go inside, taking my hood and my shoes off. At the end of the hallway is Gin, who’s sitting in the kitchen, staring at me. His brown stubbles gotten longer than before. Did he get any sleep? There’s no bottles to be seen as well. The air’s a bit heavier too. What’s going on?

 

“Gin,” I say his name, approaching him a bit meekly, “wh-what’s going on? Is something happening?” I don’t like the look on his face. It’s not in a “I’m going to hurt you” kind of way, but “I’m sorry”.

 

“Kid, I can’t take care of you any longer. Look at me, Sanji. You know I’m a mess, so that’s why-”

 

“W-What? Honestly, Gin, you’re better than most. I can tell you’ve been through a lot, but you still have a kind heart. Rarely anyone else could do that. I-”

 

“You’re the same say, kid. Anyway, let me finish, okay? I have to let you go, but I’m sure as hell not putting you back in the system’s hands. The government’s great and all, but this is one of its flaws. That’s why I used one of my old contacts… He’s gonna take you in with his family,” Gin tells me, standing up from his chair. There’s a distant look in his eyes. I don’t know much about him, but something happened when he was working as a Pro. His name was Vilemouth, and his Quirk shares the same name. It’s uh… He could put nearly anything in his mouth and spit it out as a dangerous projectile. Absolutely disgusting, useful, but still disgusting. But, who is this “contact” of his? Gin must really trust him.

 

“Who is he, Gin? W-When am I leaving?” I ask, instinctively clenching my hand to my chest, playing with my hoodie strings. I could imagine a thousand faces, thousands more from this man’s family. I’ll be living with them, right? God, I can’t be a burden to them. Who knows what kind of convincing Gin did? I can’t be a burden on these people.

 

“You know about Master Kendo, kid?” 

 

What?! Master Kendo?! When All Might was just a student at U.A., Master Kendo was a very popular Pro! He wasn’t exactly the most powerful one, but he was a master at all martial arts in the known world! Officially recognized too! If you got into a fight with him, you would lose near instantly! Heck, his Quirk, Reversal, allows him to use his opponent’s force into his own attacks! Theoretically, he could defeat even All Might because he can use his force against him! I’ll be staying with him?! God, I’ll be living with him?! Wait, Gin knew that I want to be a Hero. He seriously asked Master Kendo to take me in… so I could train to become one? This can’t be real. This really can’t be real! I’m not gonna be just a burden, I’ll practically be dead weight! I’m Quirkless! How can I impress him?! What about his family too? How can I not let them hate me? This is all too much… All too much… Knowing him, I’ll be hiking up a mountain with weights on my back for a punishment! Might as well scale the Wall of China because I-

 

“Sanji, you’re daydreaming again. Snap outta it, kid. You’re leaving tomorrow. I know how much those punks at school hate you, so I wanted to make it quick. You don’t have to see them again, especially Suzuki,” Gin says, smiling slightly. I can feel my heart trying to make its way out of my chest… God, I don’t know what I’m feeling. It’s fear and excitement mixed into one. I mean, this is so sudden! So out of the blue! I think Gin was planning this for a long time, but he never let me know! Jeez, I think I’m having trouble breathing! I never felt this way before, especially when I’m moving. It was always the same dull feeling. I… Ugh, just gotta take a deep breath and everything will be fine. 

 

Somehow, I manage to say, “Thank you, Gin. I’ll… I’ll try to be a Hero! I’ll-”

“Aw shut up. Your life’s changing, kid. Now, pack your things up. It’ll be a long train ride to Musutafu, where U.A.’s at. It’s about time something went your way.”

 

“A-Alright… Alright… U.A. High School… I gotta do it… I gotta do it.” 

 

“You also gotta calm down. I know it’s exciting, but I’m getting kinda worried.”

 

“S-Sorry! I’ll get packed! Thank you again, Gin!” 

 

I rush off into my room to pack what little things I have.

 

~~~

 

Sasaki Kendo

“Hey Dad, got anything to explain to me?”

“Nope,” I reply, sipping my tea. Hayami tilts her head, trying to intimidate me, but I’m her father. If anything, I’m the one who taught her how to intimidate. Anyway, she must’ve found out about what I’m doing. Not sure how, but she’s a smart woman. 

 

Hayami says on the edge of taking my tea and pouring it on me, “Sanji Inochi. You sure his last name is not ‘Inoichi’? Because I think it might’ve been a typo. Of course, I need this information since you’re taking whoever-this-boy-is in without even telling me. Did you even think about how Itsuka feels about this? How I feel?”

 

“I wanted another man in the house,” I joke, putting my cup down. I turn to my daughter who’s looking mighty red. “In all seriousness, I have no idea if the boy’s last name is ‘Inochi’ or ‘Inoichi’, but I’m going with what’s written. And, if you want to know why I decided to take him in, it’s…complicated.”

 

“Complicated? Really? Okay, I know we can sustain another man in the house, but do you even know what he’s like? He could trash the place, show no respect whatsoever. I’m not one to judge, but foster kids usually end up as juvenile delinquents. Why did Gin ask you to take him? He’s washed up. What makes Sanji different?” she asks, sitting next to me. I take a peek over at Itsuka, who’s tinkering with her father’s motorcycle. (She values that thing more than her life itself. I can’t blame her. Kaito was an idiot, but he was a good father. Better than me.)

 

I sigh, recalling the phone call with Gin. “Gin is a lot of bad things, but he’s also honest. He told me a lot about Sanji. The boy has a kind heart, doesn’t want to make anyone upset. And, he wants to be a Pro Hero even though he’s legally Quirkless.”

 

Hayami continues to argue, “Dad, I know I’m being insensitive, but so what? There’s a lot of Quirkless in the world who wanna be a Hero. You know that Itsuka is bummed out for failing the Recommendations Exam. Not only do we have to worry about Sanji, she has to worry about him too. What separates him from others besides from having a distant dream?” Hmph, she makes a lot of good points. In this world, you can only be a Hero if you have a Quirk. Sanji has one, but he can’t use his. Or, so he thought. That’s what Gin told me about. Normally, I wouldn’t accept even with that, but my instincts are telling me to take this kid in. They’re telling me that, somehow, this boy is special. It’s unexplainable otherwise.

 

“Gin told me that his Quirk, despite the fact that he can’t use it, allows him to learn physical tasks quickly. That, and he told me Sanji trains every night. I mean, literally every night. The boy doesn’t sleep, Hayami. One or two hours, but that’s all. I never heard of anyone so determined. If you’re not convinced still, my instincts are ringing in my head. Each and every one of them are saying to take him in. It’s unexplainable until you feel it yourself,” I tell her, standing up. I walk towards a window where nothing of importance is outside. Heh, what Tatemi would think about this? She would accept Sanji instantly, no convincing needed. I’m supposed to the logical one, but I’m acting on my instincts. Heroism taught me to always act on those, “following your gut” they would say.

 

“Gosh, Dad… This could change everything, y’know? We have to live with him until we get tired of Sanji or until he becomes a Hero. But, I know how stubborn you are. It runs in the family. No matter what the hell happens, I trust you,” Hayami says with a smile in her voice. Good, because supposed to be her father. She’s supposed to do what I say despite me being senile. Now, here’s a bigger problem: How do we break the news to Itsuka?

 

“Good, so that means you’re telling my granddaughter?” I ask, turning around with a smirk. Hayami puts a finger up and shakes her head.

 

“Nuh uh. You’re the one who decided this, so you get to tell her. I’ll be cleaning out the spare room, Dad. Let’s hope Itsuka doesn’t feel the need to throw a wrench at you, because you surely threw one in her plans,” she declares and immediately walks upstairs. Okay, guess she doesn’t do everything I ask. Every time I talk to her, I’m getting more and more convinced that she isn’t Tatemi’s daughter. Tatemi was a sweetheart, but Hayami? If Kaito got through her thorns, then he would probably see a tiny, itty bitty rose. And Itsuka’s just like her mother in a lot of ways…

 

So, Master Kendo, how are you going to tell your granddaughter without dying? Well me, that’s a very good question. A question that would require a lot of thinking and possibly body armor. 

 

“Why aren’t any of these wrenches working?!”

 

CRASH!!!

 

I need to pick out a grave… 

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

“Hey Yui, is it normal for a daughter to have an overwhelming desire to murder her grandfather? I’m just asking for a friend, but is it normal?” I ask her. She stares at me blankly. That’s about the look I was expecting to get.

 

“Uhm, why? For your friend,” she asks back, going off of my hypothetical. Well, how do I explain this without yelling my head off? Hmm, here’s the simplest explanation I could give.

 

I calmly explain, not raising my voice whatsoever, “Okay, so my friend’s grandfather decided to take in a random foster kid from who-the-hell-knows-where because one of his old students told him to. Why? Well, this foster kid apparently wants to be a Hero despite the fact he’s legally Quirkless. Of course this had to happen after I failed- I mean, my friend failed the U.A. Recommendations Exam. Naturally, my friend’s mom is taking her grandfather’s side on this, so I’m- I mean, my friend is alone on this.” I look around my class, making sure no one else is trying to listen in on us. Good, no one’s being nosy.

 

“Did you meet him yet?” Yui asks, knowing full-well that my friend is me. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag… God, just as I thought life couldn’t get any worse. Grandpa and Mom assured me that he isn’t a delinquent, but do they really know for sure? Statistically, foster kids are more likely to end up as Villains . Inochi could be a good guy, but I can’t one hundred percent know that. Chances are, he’s a disrespectful jerk that I wanna punch.

 

“Nope, he’s coming tomorrow. Watch, he’ll be a delinquent. Ugh, God… Currently, you are my only anchor to sanity. Thanks for dealing with a girl like me,” I say, smiling slightly. Yui nods and hums. What did I do to deserve someone like her? She doesn’t complain about me. Even though she says a few words, she knows exactly what to say.

 

“Hey Kendo, I couldn’t help but hear your conversation…” Ito, one of the more persistent boys in my class, butts into our conversation. He has a crush on me, and frankly, the way he goes about it is kinda creepy. “I… uh… can help with that delinquent… Gotta hammer the nail that sticks out, right?”

 

“I can hammer him myself, Ito, but thanks,” I tell him. He awkwardly smiles and backs away nearly into a desk. He’s uh… definitely nervous. I wouldn’t mind otherwise, but there’s just something off about him. Anyway, I look back at Yui who’s just staring at Ito. (Good thing no guy tries to make any advances on Yui, otherwise they’ll have to meet my fist.)

 

Yui shakes her head and turns to me. “So… He’s joining our class, right? It sounds like he’s the same age as us.”

 

“Yup and yup. I almost forgot, but his name is Sanji Inochi. I don’t even know what he looks like, Yui,” I tell her, getting in close to whisper, “and if he’s like half the guys in school, then I’m going to hurt him.”

 

“Oh c’mon, he can’t be that bad!” Tokage exclaims across from us. Seriously?! She was listening in too?! She doesn’t have a right to comment on this… If anything, she’s the reason why I’m sour. Tokage gets up and stands in front of us. “This guy, Inochi right? He wants to be a Pro, so we can assume he’s a nice person. Could be a cutie too.”

 

I grumble, laying my chin on my arms. “Frankly Tokage, have you seen some Heroes nowadays? Yeah, they’re Heroes, but they’re also jerks. I’m sorry that I’m not having much faith in him, but it’s hard. He might be your type though. You two gonna get married and have kids?”

 

“Nah, you’re living with him already. I’d rather not take this boy from you. Watch, he’ll be the envy of the school. We both know how many guys have a crush on you and Kodai,” Tokage says, naturally drifting to love and relationships. I don’t know why she keeps mentioning it, but it’s annoying. It’s like she’s compensating for something.

 

“Can you not obsess over my relationship? Don’t you have something better to do? Like, you know, being a capable heiress?” I snap at her. Tokage puts her hands up and takes a step back, showing her jagged teeth.

 

“Right in the heart, Kendo! I got the message just fine. I’ll leave you two be. Tomorrow, there will be a reckoning once the guy comes. Can’t wait to meet him!” Tokage takes her bag and leaves. Good, I don’t have to worry about that snake anymore. She’s too much of a perfect girl. That’s why she beat me in the Recommendation Exams. Even without her father’s influence, she’s just…flawless in general. 

 

“She’s trying to be nice, Itsuka,” Yui tells me, and I know. I totally know that, but doesn’t she see it?

 

“There’s something off about her, Yui. I mean, someone can’t be that good at life. Tokage is just…you know what I’m trying to say. Anyway, I need to take my mind off of this. I need to relax, so wanna just roam around the city?” I offer.

 

“Sure.”

 

***

 

“Eee.”

 

“Yui, if you want to act scared, you should try moving your body...and be a bit louder.”

 

“Eeeeee.”

 

“That jumpscare literally knocked the shoes off of a man once, and your friend didn’t even flinch! She doesn’t get scared much, does she?” the worker asks, watching in amazement with me. Let’s see though…nope. I have no idea what terrifies Yui. She loves cute things, so maybe something creepy? Eh… At least this VR store is pretty neat. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to do what Yui’s doing. I would scream so much, especially since there’s clowns in that game.

 

“She’s the most fearless girl I know. Honestly, if she gets scared, then I’ll be terrified outta my mind. Or, if she shows any feeling that isn’t indifferentness. She’s still my best friend though,” I tell him, walking up and pulling the VR headset off of her. Yui looks at me unimpressed/indifferent as always. 

 

“Hi,” she says.

 

I reply, “Hi, Yui. C’mon, we bothered the poor worker enough.” I usher her out of the store, thanking him on the way out. He simply smiles and lets us be on our merry way. We go back out on one of the shopping districts of Musutafu. It’s an amazing place with a low crime rate, beautiful districts, and of course, U.A. High School. Grandpa always lived here. He created the Dojo to help train future martial artists. He’s personally training me since I’m his granddaughter, and aiming to be a Pro like him and Dad. For far back as the Kendos go, we are a city family thriving on being the best fighters in the world. Well, for Mom, she became one of the best support scientists. She even made Dad’s motorcycle and outfitted it for heroism. One day, I’m going to use it just like him. 

 

Let’s see, what else can we do though? We can check out the latest western comic books, or watch an action movie. What would Yui like though? Maybe a shop dedicated to animal plushies and toys. Or a clothing store. She’s a little bit of a fashionable girl. Don’t know why since she looks cute in virtually anything. I got enough money to sustain us… Oh, speaking of sustaining, we could go to a cafe. But, that also increases the chance of us getting harassed by a guy. Eh, I can always protect Yui. What’s nearby-?

 

“Hey! Watch where the hell you’re going!” A middle-aged man in front of us yells. Oh, a guy in a white hoodie and a black backpack accidentally bumped into him. He’s scrambling on the ground to pick up his phone, but the man takes it before he can. “Do you know who I am, kid?!” 

 

Hoodie whimpers, taking a step back. He stammers, “I-I’m so sorry! I… I’m just-”

 

“Just what?! I could ruin you, you know! I work for Hawks! He could tear your future apart,” the asshole threatens him. Seriously?! Did he have to make a commotion on the middle of the street? Hoodie looks like he’s my age. He must be nervous out of his mind! Doesn’t help that this guy here is tormenting him.

 

“Uhm… C-Can you-?”

 

“Don’t-!”

 

“Hey, that’s enough!” I stand out from the crowd, getting their attention. The man stares at me like I’m a threat to this imaginary power. Hoodie looks at me too, bowing his head slightly either from shame or anxiety. I tell the man, “Give him his phone back. I’m sure that someone here is recording this. It’ll be a shame if Hawks catches wind. You could lose your job. We don’t want that, do we?”

 

The man stutters some kind of insult out before throwing Hoodie’s phone at him. He catches it as the other guy storms off flustered and embarrassed. Good, I handled that situation well. I walk up to Hoodie with Yui as everything slowly gets back to normal. I ask him, “You okay? You seem a bit rattled.”

 

“Heh… K-Kinda. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. I’m… I’m new to Musutafu, so everything’s pretty much new,” he shakily says, holding his phone to his chest. I barely catch a glimpse of Hoodie’s hair. I think it’s black and white. He can’t maintain eye contact, but his eyes are gray. He’s attractive in a cute, anxious boy kind of way. (Yui is silent like always.)

 

“Heh, Musutafu can get overwhelming quick. Glad you ran into me rather than someone who’ll take advantage of you. So Hoodie, what’s your name?” I ask him, briefly looking over at his phone. Damn, his phone’s cracked from the fall. I feel even more sorry for him. Alone, lost, and nervous in a giant city? It’s a recipe for disaster.

 

“Oh! Uhm… My name… Name… I’m sorry, I’m just so nervous… Can I calm down first before I tell you it? B-Because my heart feels like it’s gonna explode. I hope you c-can understand,” Hoodie says with a shy little smile on his face. Okay, I’m not going to let this guy roam around Musutafu by himself. I hope Yui doesn’t mind an extra person in our group. (She doesn’t look like she minds, but she doesn’t look like anything most of the time.)

 

“It’s fine. I’ll just call you ‘Hoodie’ ‘til we get your name. If you wanna complete the naming scheme, then call me ‘Fists’ and my friend here ‘Size’. Anyway, how about I treat you to some famous Musutafu ice cream? Well, it’s not exactly famous, but it’s delicious nonetheless,” I ask him, but I’m not giving him an option. Hoodie is getting ice cream with us whether he likes it or not.

 

“You really don’t have to! I can p-pay for it myself. I don’t wanna be a b-burden, you know? It’s not right for me,” he says exactly what I think he’ll say. Not only Hoodie’s anxious, he’s also a really decent guy. I wonder what brings him out to Musutafu of all places? Maybe it’s for U.A.? Japan needs people like him.

 

“Hoodie, you can’t argue with Fists. She’s stubborn,” Yui warns him, and she’s completely right. Hoodie can’t talk himself out of this. With how his eyes look, he knows it. He’d better see the stubborness in my two God-given eyes. He sighs and nods, letting me take control of him. I pat his shoulder and I take him to the nearest vendor. Yui points one out after a few minutes of walking. It’s a mochi stall. Ooo, there’s coffee-flavored mochi. I know what I’m getting! And, it’s really cheap too. Perfect! Hoodie gets his first positive introduction into Musutafu that isn’t a screaming man on a power trip.

 

We wait in line. Hoodie has his hands in his pockets. He’s calmed down a bit. He’s not as jittery as before. Yui is staring at a picture of mango mochi, can’t blame her. Other than coffee, orange is the most delicious color. Hmm, back on Hoodie, I wanna get to know him better. He might go to my school. Heck, if we both get into U.A., he might be in my same class! I ask him, “Hoodie, you aiming to be a Hero? You look like you’re the same age as me, and most teenagers in Musutafu want to be one.”

 

Hoodie answers, “Y-Yeah… It’s why I moved here actually… I can tell you and Size want to be Heroes too. I-I kinda have to ask though, but from the nicknames you told me… It seems like those are your Quirks… You can do something with your fists, a-and Size can alter size, right?” He got it. What kind of Quirk does he has? From his physique, he’s pretty fit. He’s way taller than me too. It’s funny seeing him so shy when I’m literally forcing him to get ice cream with me. Hmm, don’t think I can figure it out. It’s not blatant like a Mutant-type Quirk.

 

“Yeah, Fists can enlarge her fists. She can punch out a concrete wall if she tried. I almost died, that’s how we met,” Yui explains, and she’s right too. When we first met at the beginning of middle school, I was testing out my strength on a concrete wall. Unbeknownst to me, she was on the other side of the wall. Long story short, Mom yelled at me, Grandpa was proud, and I made a best friend. 

 

“Heh… sounds l-like a fun story to tell,” Hoodie comments, smiling. He slightly glances at me, letting me see more of his black and white hair. As I see it, his hair is more white than black, but I’m not sure. He does have a hood on. For all I know, the tufts of hair I see are the only ones there, and the rest of his head is just pure baldness. Anyway, it’s time for us to order. I go ahead and-

 

“M-Mister… Can you help me?” A little boy tugs on Hoodie’s jeans. He’s crying. Hoodie gets down on one knee, getting face-to-face with him.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asks in a soft voice, trying not to upset him further.

 

“I-I’m lost… I dunno where my Mommy and Daddy’s at…” the boy says, wiping away his tears. Hoodie nods and looks at the vendor. No, he looks at the menu for some reason before pulling out his wallet.

 

“We’ll find them. For n-now, you should get something sweet. Want mango? O-Or maybe strawberry?” Hoodie offers. I would step in by now, but jeez… When I think that he couldn’t be even more of a good person, he gets better. Who are this kind soul’s parents? I want to thank them for raising their son like this. 

 

“M-Mango, please…” Hoodie nods and tells the vendor that, but the vendor isn’t accepting the money, offering to give the mochi for free. Hoodie, despite everything, insists that he pay because “it’s the least” he could do. Before they could get into an argument, the vendor shoves the mochi in his hands. Hoodie sighs and gives the boy the mochi, letting him eat it. Without a second thought, he takes off his hood and lifts him onto his shoulders, higher than the crowd of people.

 

“See your parents anywhere?” he asks, looking up at him. The boy shakes his head. He searches for his parents with a delicious treat in his mouth. Okay… Maybe I’m wrong. Hoodie is an angel sent from God. I look at Yui and she looks back. We both have the same look in our eyes. This guy is great , our eyes say.

 

“Let’s go walk around,” I tell Hoodie. With a nod, we do that. The four of us walk around the district, looking for the boy’s parents. While Hoodie and the boy was looking for the parents, Yui and I were searching for any officers. The parents would’ve gone to them immediately to report a lost child. It took about thirty minutes, but we find an officer. Hoodie puts the boy down while the officer calls it in. Ten minutes later, we get to meet the parents. His mom runs up to his son crying tears of joy while the father shakes our hands, thanking us for finding him. We all say it was our pleasure. Well, I do. Yui and Hoodie simply hum. After all of that excitement and no mochi unfortunately, I think we should call it a day. 

 

I take my two friends off to the side, saying, “So, great job Heroes! We rescued our first child. I’m kidding of course, but Size and I gotta get home, Hoodie. Oh, do you know where you live? I might escort you there myself considering how clueless you were earlier.”

 

Hoodie nervously chuckles, scratching the back of his head. (I get to finally admire his hair. I was right: It’s mostly white. His fluffy hair trails forward, being slightly unkempt and a bit spiky in some areas. Some tufts of his hair covers parts of his forehead. Most of it, like before, is white with some of it being black. I estimate it being a seventy-thirty percent split. If Hoodie wasn’t so nervous, I’d bet he would look like a mature man.) “I-I would say ‘you don’t have to’, but look what happened… Anyway uhm... I live here.” 

 

He shows me the GPS on his phone and…

 

 

Huh, I should’ve known. I turn to Yui who sees it too. I say, “Well Yui, looks like I’m going home. See you at school tomorrow.”

 

“Fists…? Y-You really are gonna escort me back? R-Really! You don’t have to! It must be out of your way! I can use m-my GPS to take me there! Please, don’t-!”

 

“No, Inochi . It’s not ‘out of my way’. It’s in my way. In fact, that’s where I live. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Itsuka Kendo, Master Kendo’s granddaughter, and this is Yui Kodai, my best friend,” I finally greet him with a big smile. Yui smiles too. I want to take back everything I said about him earlier. Inochi is a great person. Not a delinquent by any means. Let’s hope he doesn’t hear the things I said though...

 

Inochi, meanwhile, is dead quiet. “...”

 

“Itsuka, I think you broke him.”

 

~~~

 

“Really, that’s how we met. Biggest, but the best coincidence in my life. Heh, that’s where it all began. That’s where I knew he would make a great Hero. But...”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

“Itsuka, is this one of your classmates? Wait, are you-”

 

“Y-Yeah… I’m… I’m Sanji Inochi. Th-thank you for allowing me to stay here ma’am,” I greet Miss Kendo, bowing in respect. Kendo clicks her tongue, signaling me to stand straight, which I quickly do. Gosh, of all people I could’ve met, I really met the granddaughter of Master Kendo? She’s such a good person. Even though she didn’t know me at first, she made sure I was comfortable in Musutafu. I try to continue, “I-I ran into your daughter earlier… She… uhm… uhm-”

 

“I rescued him from a guy who works for Hawks. For an hour or so, I didn’t realize that this guy was actually Inochi until Yui and I were about to head home. It’s a good thing I bumped into him and not some con artist,” Kendo explains for me, thank goodness. I can’t lie, she terrifies me a little. Who else terrifies me more? Well, that’ll be her mom. (Miss Kendo looks like an older version of her, actually, just with longer hair that’s loose.) Wait, where’s Master Kendo?

 

“Hehe, I can see why you wanted to protect him. Anyway, Sanji, just call me ‘Hayami’, not ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss’. Now we got that settled, how’s the ride from Kibo? Being in a city must be quite a game-changer,” she asked. Miss Ken- I mean, Hayami seems nice too despite being a bit scary… She looks like the kind of mother who specializes in tough love. Well, how should I know? I never had a mother to call my own, nor a dad.

 

“I uhm…lived in Tokyo and a few c-cities before, but nothing l-like Musutafu. And the b-bullet train was good… Thanks for asking, Hayami,” I say, trying to hide the nervousness in my voice, but it doesn’t work. They can tell that I’m extremely nervous. God, I can’t imagine how they were feeling before this. Their entire lives being uprooted just because of me… I don’t want to inflict that anyone, but they seem accepting. It feels nice having people who don't look down on me for being Quirkless. Well, it feels nice to have someone who’s nice. There’s not enough honest and kind people in the world. 

 

“Mhm, here, let me take that off your hands,” she offers, taking my bookbag for me. I would’ve brought it up to wherever my room is, but if Hayami is like her daughter, then I don’t have a choice. Anyway, she looks around for someone, presumably Master Kendo. But then she grumbles, yelling, “Dad! He’s here! Where the hell are you?!”

 

“Behind you, Hayami,” Master Kendo introduces himself, gently pushing his way where we’re face-to-face. I’m taller than he is, but does it matter? He can kick my butt so fast that I won’t have time to process what just happened. He has short bed of gray hair on his head, sweeping to the sides. Master Kendo also has a small beard that hangs off of his chin slightly. To be friendly, he pats my arm and says, “Sanji Inochi, welcome to Musutafu, the City of Heroes. I’m sorry, but the next few days will have a lot happening. Like, for example, you’re going straight to school tomorrow. We don’t have any time to waste, y’know. Every kid in Japan is gunning for U.A. High, especially my granddaughter. Today, though, will be calm and steady. Got anything to say?”

 

“N-No, Master Kendo. But, uhm, thank you for l-letting me stay here. I must’ve ruined y-your plans, coming out of the blue like this. I-”

 

“Don’t worry. Those are my problems, not yours. C’mon, what’s your favorite food? Hayami promised me that she’ll make it for you,” Master Kendo asks, and… uhm, favorite food? I never had a favorite before. I look at Hayami, seeing if she’ll say anything. She just nods. I have a choice? God, the change really is too much for me.

 

“Uhm… fish. That counts as a favorite, r-right? I always liked fish when my school served it. Preferred it o-over anything else there,” I answer, holding my arm awkwardly. Hayami hums and nods. 

 

“Alright, I’ll get on it! You three should get to know each other better. And no, Itsuka, you’re not helping me. Last time, you nearly burned the house down,” Hayami says, somewhat snapping at Kendo before she gets a chance to speak. They both laugh it off though as Hayami goes upstairs. Oh, she’s just putting my bag away… Master Kendo, Kendo, and I find ourselves in the living room, sitting down.

 

“So, Inochi, why don’t you call me by my first name? Since we’ll be living in the same house and all,” Kendo asks, and well…

 

“S-Sorry, I’d rather not… I’m just… a bit overwhelmed… I need some time to get used to how my life has changed. I-I hope you don’t mind, Kendo,” I answer truthfully, not trying to anger her. I think it worked though, as she nods just like her mom. Master Kendo chuckles, leaning back in his chair. I don’t think that’s chair suited for leaning back.

 

“Itsuka, ease up on him. One of these days, he’ll be a strong and proud man, so let’s not rush it. Heck, he’ll be so different that you wouldn’t be able to recognize him,” he says, and I guess? I know I’m a pretty nervous guy, but it’ll be nice to keep that in. Heh, it’ll be really nice to not wear my hoodie around all the time. I like to think I’m confident, but I’m clearly not. It’s something I’d have to build up, along with my strength and skill. God, I haven’t even thought about my possible training with Master Kendo too! I always wanted to be proficient in martial arts, since it’s the only skill I can improve on. I fancy weapons, to be honest. Sure, I can punch and kick, but it’s not effective in some cases. Sometimes, I just need a quarterstaff or even a sword to end the fight. That’s the kind of Hero I want to be. It’s far off though. But, I’m one step closer to it. Can that version of Sanji Inochi exist? Only the-

 

“Inochi, you with us? Grandpa did say that you have a tendency to space out,” Kendo says, bringing me back. Right! Right… That’s one little quirk I have. I nervously laugh, scratching the back of my head.

 

“S-Sorry… I guess you have to get used to it. And, about me being strong… I w-want to be strong, even without a Quirk. For the past year or so, I’ve been training by myself. I mean, th-that’s why I’m here. It’s why Gin sent me here,” I tell them. Honestly, doing what he did for me, I don’t deserve it. But, it’s done. I can’t go back now. The only place I could go is forward.

 

Master Kendo replies, “It’s why I accepted you. Quirkless or not, there’s potential to you that isn’t just a far-off dream. I’m sure Itsuka can agree. You know, she was-”

 

“Be quiet, Grandpa, and yeah, I do agree. You have the perfect mindset for it. It might be a bit annoying that you’re too selfish, but it’s fine. Grandpa’ll whip us into shape. He is Master Kendo after all,” Itsuka assures me. Heh, I can’t wait to train under him. I can already imagine what I could do underneath his teachings.

 

“Thank you… I appreciate it.”

 

I genuinely smile.

 

***

 

“Sanji Inochi, come in,” Mister Uda orders after he gives a speech about the new student: me. Before I go in the classroom, I hear people whispering about me already. What they’re whispering about though… it’s weird.

 

“Isn’t he a delinquent?”

“I heard he was Quirkless.”

“Pretty sure he assaulted a guy before.”

“Doesn’t he live with Kendo? I feel sorry that she’s trapped with him.”

 

I sigh, tucking my hands in my pockets. At times like these, I wish I had a hood on, but that’s not allowed in school. I’m stuck with the usual black uniform. Slowly, I step inside and stand in front of the class, not looking at anyone in particular. A few eyes go wide and the whispers, somehow, get even louder.

 

“He looks strong for a Quirkless.”

“I mean, he looks shy. Look at how he’s standing!”

“Inochi isn’t an ugly guy though. He’s kinda cute.”

 

“Quiet down now. For the rest of the school year, he’ll be learning with all of you. Now, Mister Inochi, say some things about yourself. Your Quirk, and if you’re striving to go to U.A. like mostly everyone here. Miss Tokage, being a lucky girl, got recommended in,” Mister Uda asks, and also shares for some reason. Tokage? That name sounds familiar, can’t put my finger on it. She makes herself known by raising her hand. She’s a short girl with wavy green hair. Her teeth are jagged like a dog’s.

 

Before I introduce myself, I hesitate. I focus my eyes around each of my classmates. Most of them would immediately think less of me. Everyone except for Kendo and Kodai. God, I need to get this over with instead of freezing up. I take a deep breath and say, “Hi. Uhm, it’s true. I…am legally Quirkless, don’t ask what my Quirk is because I-I don’t know. But still, I want to be a Hero.”

 

“Hmph, I thought as much. Go ahead and sit down Inochi, you’re behind Tokage,” Mister Uto tells me in a much more condescending and hostile tone. Kendo, in the back, shakes her head and scoffs, looking out of the window. Yui’s right next to her, and she doesn’t look too happy either. I’m on the other side of the room unfortunately. It’s time for my first walk of shame in Musutafu. I step down from the front, slowly making my way to my seat. I hear a few of my classmates comment.

 

“One less man to worry about.”

“Inochi, you should give up.”

“Why are you still trying?”
“Don’t bother trying to be a Hero. Leave that to people who have Quirks.”

“Stick to being a delinquent, not a Hero.”

 

I-!

 

Tokage grabs my arm. I stop and turn to her. She says to me, “Don’t worry about them, Inochi. There’s something great in ya, I know it. And, I’m Setsuna Tokage, at your service.” Tokage runs her hand down to my own, shaking it. I softly smile and shake back before I take my seat. She’s a nice person too. Maybe because she already got into U.A.? Or maybe, Tokage is just like Kendo and Kodai. They don’t discriminate.

 

As Mister Uda starts the lesson, she turns around and whispers, “So, New Guy, hope Musutafu is treating you well. Too bad everyone treats Quirkless like crap, but you don’t look like crap to me. I mean, you’re a pretty good-looking guy.”

 

“Heh, thanks T-Tokage. And, I don’t mind them. I heard it all before. I’m used to it. They won’t stop me from trying t-to be a Hero,” I tell her. Tokage giggles and nods, her hair bouncing slightly.

 

“In that case, Hero , I better see you in my class at U.A., alright?”

 

“You can count on it,” I reply.

 

***

 

After the long lesson, it’s time for lunch. Tokage tells me to meet her at the cafeteria. I’m pretty sure Kendo and Kodai would want me to sit with them, but I can’t deny her. Before I could do or say anything though, a couple of guys immediately come up to me. Ito and Hamada. They volunteered themselves to answer a couple of questions about metaology. (Why was the study of Quirks called “metaology” in the first place?)

 

Ito says, “Inochi, you’re not gonna hurt Kendo, alright? Just ‘cause you’re Quirkless, doesn’t mean you can’t hurt her. She deserves more than a delinquent like you, anyway. Ugh, why do you get to live with her?”

 

 

What kind of man does he take me for?!

 

Hamada (oh please don’t) adds on to what Ito says, “Yeah, I don’t buy this shy act of yours. So, you better not lay a finger on Kendo or Kodai. They’re the most popular girls at school along with Tokage. Don’t try anything with them.”

 

“...”

Ito snaps at me, “Hey! Aren’t you gonna say anything?!”

 

“Ito, Hamada… Stop bothering Inochi. C’mon, he gotta get to lunch because Inochi has a date with Tokage,” Kendo says, rescuing me from these two. And by “rescuing”, I mean she takes my hand and drags me out of the class with Kodai. I can sense the disappointment and hate from my other guy classmates. Does every man have a crush on these three? God, I can’t imagine my life obsessing over girls. I gotta be a Hero after all. Having a girlfriend isn’t apart of the plan. Anyway, after a few more comments about me, the three of us grab our lunches and meet up with Tokage at the cafeteria. She has a fancy box of bento. It looks expensive just from the design. Probably worth more than my life. 

 

She greets us first, “Hey you guys. As the class president, I think it’s right for me to sit with you. Inochi should have a positive introduction into Musutafu and not be bullied twenty-four seven.” Tokage shoots me a smile and a wink while Kendo rolls her eyes. Kodai doesn’t… She… You know, she looks completely neutral. I had a feeling she was indifferent to virtually anything…

 

“We don’t have a choice, do we?” Kendo asks, putting a hand on her hip. 

 

“Not at all. My order’s absolute, Kendo. I mean, Inochi doesn’t mind me an so does adorable Kodai. Now, let’s go! Our table awaits us,” Tokage commands us with her imperial power. We follow her into a nice beige table near the back of the cafeteria and sit down. I catch the glares of others as we sit though. All of them saying, Who the hell is that? Frankly, no idea. Sanji Inochi is a man who keeps to himself.

 

The first thing Kendo says is, “Why are you talking with Inochi? I get that he’s desk neighbors with you, but you don’t usually do this. Unless you got a crush on him, which I don’t doubt with how much of a romantic you are.” I quietly open my lunch, praying mentally (for this meal and my safety) before digging in.

 

“Kendo, I told you so. Inochi wasn’t gonna be as bad as you thought. Too bad the rumors were already spread about him, but they’ll dissipate into thin air within the week. I mean, all the guys are gonna hate him for hanging out with the three of us, so him being a delinquent won’t matter,” Tokage says, but not answering Kendo’s question. Kodai does the same thing I’m doing: silently eating. We exchange a content look with each other. (Why does everyone think I’m a delinquent again?)

 

Kendo retorts, “Yeah, but I can handle them. Stopping bullies is my thing, Tokage. But, you haven’t answered my question.” Okay, is it me or why are these two rough against each other? I can cut the tension with a knife. Just like this fish- Oh wait, never mind. It’s soft enough I can use my chopsticks. I don’t have a knife anyway.

 

“Heh, I don’t doubt that,” Tokage replies, chuckling before turning to me. “What can I say? Inochi’s different than other Quirkless. Usually, they would feel sorry for themselves and mope around aimlessly until the day they die. Him though… He seems like the kind of man who has a lot of agency. After all, every Quirkless I seen is weak in terms of physique. He’s fit as a fiddle. Right, Inochi?”

 

I stare at her and Kendo with a fish tail sticking out of my mouth. “Hm?” Casually, like my mouth isn’t stuffed with food, I swallow the fish in the most non-awkward way possible, finishing it with a smile and a head tilt. Well, innocent as a man who swallowed a fish, staring at two of his classmates somewhat arguing with each other like a married couple.

 

“He’s fit, but he’s absent-minded. Inochi, have you been paying attention to what we’ve been saying?” Kendo asks, not digging into her food yet. Question: Why isn’t she? I never had food this good before. Gosh, imagine Tokage’s bento box. It might taste spectacular, but it’ll be like eating gold. 

 

“Yeah, kinda. Agency and what not. Thanks for the compliment, Tokage, but I-I’m not really much. I still have a long ways to go. I’m not that… uhm, impressive compared to others, especially you three. I mean, you got into U.A. by recommendations… That’s impressive,” I say, changing the conversation to her. Tokage bats her hand, like she’s waving the compliment away to the wind.

 

“It’s…” she stops herself briefly, turning to Kendo who’s glaring knives into her. “You know what, I shouldn’t go on about it. Today isn’t about me. It’s about you, New Guy. Tell me your dreams, your aspirations! If you got a secret that your bloodline carried since the dawn of Quirks, better spill it now or I’m gonna uncover it on my own.”

 

I laugh, putting another piece of fish in my mouth. I say (after I’m done eating  of course), “My only secret i-is my Quirk, I’m afraid. I would let you uncover it, but that would involve ex-experimentation, and I’m not so keen on it.”

 

“Guess we have to wait until we can see it. Anyway, can we talk about something else? Yui, got any suggestions?” Kendo asks her. Kodai looks at her then at Tokage. I think she’s thinking, but her eyes doesn’t show much.

 

“Entrance Exam. Six months right? Five? I’m not good at math,” Yui sets the topic for discussion. Ah right...it’s half a year from now, but it’s a hot topic still. The news are predicting the practical portion of the exam. It could be racing, team exercises, or battling to the death. The last one is obviously false, but with U.A.? You never know. The written portion is basically one hundred questions from a question pool of…ten thousand? It ranges from metaology, history, math, et cetera. It’s not enough to just be strong, but you also have to be smart. After all, if all of the Heroes were mindless masses of muscle, then Japan would be destroyed.

 

“Tokage, your dad should know the exam’s contents right?” Kendo asks, finally eating her lunch. Eh? Does Tokage’s dad work for U.A. or something? It explains why she got a recommendation. Her father put a foot in the door for her. I’d imagine it’s the same way with Kendo from the fact she’s Master Kendo’s granddaughter. Too bad she didn’t get a recommendation. 

 

“Sorry, he doesn’t know. Even if he did, he wouldn’t tell me. Even if I knew, I would be sworn to never tell. You have to figure it out on the day of. You can do it though. Your Big Fists can take you all the way,” she compliments Kendo. However, I don’t think Kendo takes it too kindly. Yeah, there’s something going on between these two. I honestly don’t know why. Kendo and Tokage, despite knowing them for a day or so, are similar. If anything, I’d think they’re best friends, but as I can see, I’m wrong. Maybe I could do something to fix that...

 

“Fists aren’t enough, y-you know… We have to be smart too. I’m not exactly a prodigy unfortunately, but m-maybe we need some help. Like, from the girl who’s already in U.A.?” I offer. Kendo’s eyes go wide from what I said. She opens her mouth, but Tokage beats her to it.

 

“Exactly what I was thinking, Inochi! Look at you, fitting in already!” Tokage exclaims before linking arms with me. Huh, she’s a touchy girl. I should’ve expected that considering Kendo said she’s a romantic. I don’t mind though, so I’ll just casually eat. “You’re not bothered by this, are you?”

 

“Not at all,” I answer after I swallow a clump of rice.

 

Kendo complains, “Can you two stop doing that? There’s people at this table.”

 

“Hi,” Kodai reminds us that she’s still here.

 

***

 

“Welcome to the Dojo, Inochi. Grandpa should be upstairs, and don’t be intimidated by the students here. Most of them are doing this as a hobby, while there’s us training to be Heroes,” Kendo explains after we walk through the doors. Huh, this place is wild. The outside doesn’t look like much. It’s a simple concrete building, but the inside? Beautiful. The floor’s wooden with a golden glow, the walls are white, decorated with Japanese paintings and pictures of Master Kendo when he was younger. There’s some with his wife, Tatemi. She was known as Magnum Opus before she died. After her death, Master Kendo didn’t work as much as a Pro Hero. He focused on taking care of his daughter before he inevitably retired altogether. He still teaches those who want to be Pros, like Kendo and I. I think he taught Kendo’s dad too, Golden Hand.

 

Some of the people inside greet us. Well, they greet her, asking questions about me. Kendo answers them with a confident smile and nod, even with the part about me being Quirkless. They give me some side-looks, but that’s where it ends. One more man comes out to meet us, someone our age. He has blonde hair and a…tail. A very thick and long tail with a fluffy blonde tuft of hair at the end. “Kendo, is this Inochi?”

 

“Mhm. Inochi, meet Mashirao Ojiro. He’s one of the few students who takes his training seriously, and so, he’s a guy I can bear with,” Kendo explains much to Ojiro’s satisfaction. He didn’t like the last part… His tail is drooping like a sad dog, but Kendo laughs. “I’m kidding. He’s a good friend and a pretty good martial artist.”

 

“Heh, nice to meet you, Ojiro. I-I hope we can be good friends,” I greet him, having my hand out. He gladly shakes it. Kendo isn’t wrong. His handshake is really firm. I can feel how strong he is just from it.

 

“Of course. I’m glad you’re here, Inochi. If it’s anything, I believe you can be a Hero even with being Quirkless,” he tells me, and I’m happier for it. I reply with a small smile and hum. Kendo gestures for us to head upstairs, so we do so. She talks about the Dojo with Ojiro, explaining some unique parts of it. Like, for example, an actual smithery. Hayami is a support scientist and a blacksmith, owning a support company. It’s also partnered with U.A. conveniently enough. Up here is specialized training for students who are serious with martial arts, which is only a few. Some include Ojiro and Kendo. When everything’s set up, I’ll have a room to call my own. That’ll be my second home.

 

We’re at the end of the hall. It’s Master Kendo’s room for sure. We’re going insid- Nope, never mind! We’re stepping back and taking the door on the left. Good, I don’t want to enter hell just yet. Kendo says, “This is your room. Sorry that it’s so far down, but you can jog here. Good cardio.”

 

I laugh before we head inside. Inside my room is absolutely nothing! Well, other than a sparring mat and curtains for my windows. Still! Nothing! Nothing at all. Master Kendo is in the middle of the mat though with a smile on his face. There’s a wooden table in front of him, and behind him is… I don’t know what. I can’t make it out. He explains, “Children, I’m glad you could make it to Inochi’s execution.” He shows us his sheathed katana.

 

...

 

I quietly raise my hand and ask, “Can I pray first? I’m n-not religious, but it feels right that I should pray.”

 

Kendo scolds, “Are you not even fazed by this? First, Tokage had her arms around you, and now this?! What kind of man are you?!” That’s a bit of a loaded question I’m afraid. I’m not the kind of guy who gets fazed by an old man with a katana or being intimately touched by a woman. Not gonna lie, I never thought I experience these two things today.

 

“Should I leave? I don’t feel like watching an execution today, I’m sorry. Blades are too much for me,” Ojiro asks, straying away from Master Kendo. Finally, he laughs. He tosses the sheathed katana to me. I catch it. This feels nice. I never held one before, but it feels right in my hands. Hayami forged this, didn’t she?

 

“I’m joking. Seems like Inochi was the only one who knew I was kidding… Mostly, kidding. I’m here to test his abilities, don’t worry,” he assures us. Kendo sighs in annoyance while Ojiro sighs in relief.

 

“Heh, good joke,” I say. (That was a joke?!) Anyway , I ask not my executioner, but my mentor, “Wh-What do you want me to do with this? I never wielded one before… The closest is a kendo shinai, i-ironically…”

 

“What do you think? I want you to learn how to use it,” Master Kendo says, going into a closet and pulling out two thick cutting mat with another katana. Guess he wants me to cut this, but that looks really really thick. I kinda cradle my katana in my arms, watching Master Kendo putting a mat on the table. “I want you to do exactly what I do. Simple enough.”

 

“Grandpa, wait-”

SLICE SLICE!

 

Instantly, Master Kendo unsheathed his katana and landed two precise slices on the mat. It was fast, faster than the eye can see at first, but I saw the outcome. The cutting mat was sliced upwards at an angle with enough precision and grace that it doesn’t even move. Neither of the pieces moved until he cut the upper piece in half, letting it tumble to the floor. The lower piece is still like nothing happened. That… That looks extremely hard, but I watched Master Kendo’s form and posture. He tilted the blade just right that the edge cuts through like water. I saw how he breathed. He breathed just before he struck. Master Kendo chuckles and puts the second cutting mat on, gesturing for me to do it. I walk up, putting the katana at my left hip. Kendo sighs and shakes her head, saying, “Grandpa, that is an incredibly hard technique. Even though I don’t specialize in weaponry, Inochi can’t-”

 

SLICE SLICE!

 

I cut it flawlessly.

 

“Or, Inochi could do it perfectly without any prior training,” Kendo finishes her sentence, being amazed. Ojiro is too. Aw, his little tail is wagging back and forth. Kendo asks, “Inochi, how could you do that? You said you haven’t used a katana before.”

 

Master Kendo answers for me, “Inochi isn’t completely Quirkless. Gin told me he has Adoptive Muscle Memory. He’s able to replicate nearly any physical tasks he sees. It’s not his actual Quirk unfortunately because of metaology laws that I never took time to understand. So, Inochi-”

 

“He could be a master at martial arts within a short amount of time compared to us,” Ojiro finishes Master Kendo’s sentence. I casually sheathe my katana like I done it one thousand times before. Adoptive Muscle Memory huh? That explains a lot, actually. Like that pitch I threw with Saito, and that people underestimate me in gym. Wait, my Quirk… It gave me this? That seems a bit far-fetched. Something like this is a bit unrelated to the concept of dreams, but I’m not complaining. With what Ojiro said, I could be a master in months compared to years!

 

Master Kendo laughs and pats my shoulder. Is that… Is that supposed to be funny? “No, he can’t be a master so soon. He can learn all the moves within a snap, yes, but his battle sense? It’s like a newborn baby. He can’t use his Quirk to give him that. That’s what he has to develop naturally like you two.” Okay, never mind, but that makes sense though. I can’t learn reaction time by watching someone. It’s like if I try to fix a car after watching a mechanic do it. I might fix it perfectly, but do I gain the knowledge of a mechanic? Not at all. It’s a mental thing, not physical. I’m not whining about it. I expected this to be hard work.

 

“Heh, I-I got a lot of training ahead of me,” I say, handing the katana to Master Kendo. He shakes his head and pushes my hands back. Guess he wants me to keep it. I laugh at my own awkwardness, turning to Kendo and Ojiro.

 

“Well, that’s it,” Master Kendo announces, picking up the chopped up cutting mats, “I can’t test his skill because it’s constantly changing. It’ll be a mighty waste of time. Anyway Sanji, this room is yours. Fill it up with whatever you want. Remember that there’s a gym here, and don’t be afraid to ask my daughter for anything. You seem like the kind of guy who would use weapons, after all, so that’ll be a majority of your lessons. Well, if you wish. You’ll be choosing your own lessons, not me. Come to me whenever you need anything.”

 

He then says to Kendo and Ojiro, “Like always, you two are free to help him out. Spar with him, knock him around, beat him up, or maybe all of the above. You three are training to be Heroes, so get to it.” Finally, he leaves my room, making the three of us alone. I sigh, putting my katana on the wooden table.

 

“So uhm… When do we start?” I ask them. Ojiro shrugs while Kendo takes a step forward with a smirk.

 

“Now. I wanna see what you can do. Let’s spar, Inochi,” she tells me, cracking her knuckles!

 

Why do I feel the sudden presence of death?!

 

***

 

CRACK!


CRACK CRACK!

 

CRACK!

 

“Rrrrah!”

 

SNAP!

 

I break a wooden peg off of the wing chun dummy. It slides across the floor towards the doorway, where Kendo’s at. Wait, Kendo? Why is she here? It’s three in the morning. She shouldn’t be up this late. I ask her, “Oh, uhm… It’s kinda too early to get ready for school, d-don’t you think?” I throw a towel over my neck, wiping the sweat off of my face.

 

“Yeah, but it’s also too early to be training, Inochi. In fact, it isn’t exactly healthy to train every night for the past week. That’s what you’ve been doing, right? Have you been sleeping at all?” she asks, looking terribly concerned. At least, I think. The room’s dark. I didn’t bother to turn on the lights. The only light in here is the moon shining through the windows. Kendo must be observant though, noticing that I’ve been gone during the nights. (Crazy how fast a week went by already. I was going to school, getting tutored by Tokage, then being roughed up by Kendo, and after that, I was learning under Master Kendo. I can feel myself progressing, being better than before. My hand-to-hand combat improved, but I’m specializing in weapons training. That’s also why my room has racks and racks of weapons inside. There’s enough blades, blunts, daggers, axes, et cetera to worry someone.)

 

“Only an hour at minimum, t-two if I’m lucky… It’s one of the weird things about me, Kendo. I don’t need m-much sleep compared to you. I might as well train,” I tell her, stepping up onto the edge of the sparring mat. I have a feeling that I know the reason why I don’t sleep, but I don’t wanna dwell on it. Despite the fact that Dreams is my Quirk, my hands never held a dream of its own. You’d think I could. Maybe have a terrifying nightmare, but not even that. I never once dreamed for as long as I can remember.

 

“Sure, but I seen how you are in the mornings. You flinch a lot, so that means you’re sore beyond relief. You’re not giving your body enough time to rest. If you keep this up, you’re gonna collapse from pain and exhaustion. There’s a limit to how much a human body can take, Inochi,” Kendo calmly scolds me. She’s right, but can we really call ourselves “humans” in this world? It’s not like hundreds of years ago where we had to fight in full suits of metal armor. I can endure this amount of punishment. I’ve been doing it for over a year now after all. Tonight is just an average night for me, pain and all.

 

I reply, holding onto the ends of my towel, “Yeah, I-I know, but I can handle it. I’ve been doing this for a long time, K-Kendo. You know I’m at a big disadvantage, so this is necessary. But, thank you for worrying though… I-It means a lot.”

 

She huffs, putting a hand on her hip. “You’re welcome, but seriously? I get that you have to train more than others, but this is kinda excessive. You… You really want to be a Pro Hero that badly, don’t you?”

 

“Y-Yeah… Yeah, I do,” I answer, looking out the window where the moon’s slowly waning from the sky. I miss the stars back in Kibo. They were out and plentiful, but in Musutafu, the light pollution is too much. The only thing I could see up there is the lonely moon. I find myself saying, “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.” 

 

I didn’t stutter.

 

“Heh… Is that why you made Tokage tutor us? To see her happy? You know I’m not that fond of her,” Kendo asks, crossing her arms. Her demeanor softens, so did her voice. Not only that, she changed the conversation. What’s going on inside her head?

 

“A-As a friend, yes. She’s a nice person, Kendo. Why don’t you like her a-anyway?” I ask back, throwing my towel off to the basket. That’s a three-pointer if I get basketball terms right. Never been one to obsess over sports, but it’s good exercise. 

 

“Remember the fact that she got into U.A. by recommendations? She beat me in the Recommendations Exam. If you ask me, Tokage is a little too perfect for my tastes. There’s something weird about her besides the fact that she’s extravagant and flirty with you,” she answers and frankly, there’s nothing off about Tokage. She’s just a fun person to be around, but I don’t think Kendo can see that. I should text Kodai about this. She knows Kendo longer than I have, so she should have pieces of wisdom to share with me.

 

“Guess so,” I concede. Let’s change the conversation to something other than Tokage. Something extremely important. “So, y-you know my secret now. Master Kendo knew too… Uhm, we should focus on the Entrance Exam. I-I know it’s only months away, but we gotta train and study. I-”

 

“Of course, Inochi. We gotta train our body and expand our mind. We’ve been saying that too much now. C’mon, I’m already awake, so why don’t we do some training together? Think you can keep up with me?” She gestures towards the mat.

 

I smile and nod. “I-I can only hope…”

 

~~~

 

“But… If I knew… If I knew why he said those words… God, h-he was such an idiot. Y’know, we weren’t prepared for what U.A. had in store. Especially him. I remember when he was Quirkless, he went by ‘Armory, the Weaponry Hero’. Then, he awakened to be ‘Stargazer, the Dream Hero’. Don’t think that this is an epic of a man who fought against all odds, battling against powerful Villains to save the day, being the best underdog there is. No, it’s far from that. It’s rather…a tragedy of a boy who was never meant to be. It’s the tragedy of Sanji Inochi, from beginning to end.”

 

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

SPIKE!!!

 

CRASH!!!

 

“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!!!”

“TAKE COVER!!!”

“TELL MY MOM I LOVE HER!!!”

 

Ah, so this is how I die...

 

SPIKE!!!

 

BOOOOOM!!!

 

***

 

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-

 

Pinch!

 

“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… 

 

***

 

“Inochi.”

 

“...”

 

“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-!”

 

SLAP!

 

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?”

 

“Yeah, Grandpa.”

“Of course.”

 

“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?!”

 

“Yup.”

“Naturally, Kendo.”

“Mhm.”

 

“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!

Chapter Text

Itsuka Kendo

“Hyah!”

 

CRASH!

 

Five points. I kick the now-destroyed two-pointer out of my way. I say to it, “Sorry about that. I promised to be the people’s fist, and you were on the receiving end unfortunately.” Its red light flickers before going dim completely. Gotta get more than five if I wanna pass this thing! Let’s hope to God that all of my friends are doing well!

I shrink my fists back to its regular size. It’s no good running around with these massive things. They weigh a ton. Even with my strength training, I can easily throw my back out from the weight of my Big Fists. That’s why it’s smarter for me to use the momentum of my punch whenever my fists are normal-sized, enlarging it just before I hit my target. I can still punch and wave my arms with Big Fists, but that takes a lot of energy. Energy that I need to survive these ten minutes.

 

All around me are other examinees who’re destroying the robots like I am. No good here, gotta find some place else. This battlefield is large luckily enough, so I take a left turn onto another block. There’s fewer people here, but they’re still a nuisance to worry about. I take another turn, this time to the right. Aha! There’s a nice three-pointer with my name on it. These are “Hard Villains”. Compared to the lesser-valued robots, these ones are outfitted with heavier metal plates. Not to mention that they’re somewhat like a military tank. But, everything has a weakness. The front of it is armored like crazy, but what about its head? If I took a guess, then that’s its weakness. 

 

I approach the three-pointer at the same time it notices me. It beeps, “Target acquired! Killlll!” Why did U.A. program these robots to say that? The three-pointer rolls forward with one of its metal claws up. Heh, I got an idea! I enlarge my fists over the top of my head right as when it comes roaring down. I catch its claw, bending my knees to help take the force better before wrapping my massive hands around it. Lifting from my legs, I pick this three-pointer off of the ground and slam it behind me head-first, completely shattering the remaining bits of a two-way road. It’s destroyed instantly. Eight points. I shrink my hands again before moving on. That was the only robot on this street from the looks of it. There’s broken robots lining the sidewalk, which means someone already cleared this block. Damnit. Just gotta keep moving! 

 

“SIX MINUTES REMAINING! TAKE OUT THOSE ROBOTIC VILLAINS FUTURE HEROES!” Present Mic yells after four minutes of finding jack squat. The only thing I see is destroyed robots! How did everyone else manage to take these things out so fast?! I know I’m not meant for speed, but just how many speed-based Quirks are there?! I think I even saw a girl flying above me! I need to find something fast, because eight points aren’t gonna cut it! I need to go deeper into the battle center!

 

As I take a right turn, I see a silver-haired girl moving her arms up in the air. She… Oh, she has a one-pointer telepathically lifted in the air. She slams her arms down, causing the one-pointer to be immediately destroyed from the force. That’s a really powerful Quirk, maybe could be used on humans. Anyway, I run towards her since there’s a two-pointer incoming. The girl notices too, uses her Quirk on it, and crashes it against a concrete wall. That’s two points for her. I approach the girl and yell, “Nice job! Your Quirk is pretty powerful.”

 

“Thank you. Ah, I do believe I recognize you somewhat. Master Kendo’s granddaughter? You share his hair color and eyes,” she says. Her voice is quite emotionless. It’s not like Yui where there’s tiny bits of emotion in her voice. But, it’s not everyday that I get recognized by someone. I’m not exactly a celebrity.

 

“That’s right. Itsuka Kendo,” I introduce myself, batting my ponytail away.

 

“Reiko Yanagi. Pleasure to have your acqu-”

 

“KILLL!” Shit, two-pointer jumping in!

 

“WATCH OUT!” I shout, taking Yanagi’s shoulder and pushing her away. With my other hand, I drive it towards the two-pointer jumping at me. Right at the last moment, I enlarge my fist, shattering the two-point into pieces. It flies backwards where I see a lot more points to grab. It’s so much that I don’t even know how many are there! I check on Yanagi to see if she’s okay, and she is. Not a single scratch on her. I say, “C’mon! Let’s take these out together!” (Ten points!)

 

I charge at them growing my other hand. Two one-pointers, being the firsts in the crowd, become my next victims as I smash them in one single punch. (Twelve points!) By the end of this, I’ll have enough points to beat everyone else testing! Now, there’s a two-pointer coming at me. I’ll just-!

 

“Excuse me, mind if I borrow this?” A blonde-haired boy suddenly runs in front of me, taps my shoulder. I briefly catch a glimpse of his smug smile before he turns on the balls of his heel like a ballet dancer. In one elegant motion, his right fist grows to the exact same size as mine, taking out my target with a powerful punch. Afterwards, it shrinks. He uses the same hand to pat the dust off of his clothes, turning around to face me. He copied my Quirk! That’s his Quirk, isn’t it? Bowing slightly, he greets Yanagi and I, “Neito Monoma, ladies. We might be fighting for a spot of U.A., but you two can’t defeat that horde by yourselves. Let’s join forces, shall we?”

 

I grumble, having my gigantic hands dragging across the ground, “Fine. We don’t have time to argue. Oh, but… If you try something, Monoma, I won’t hesitate leaving you to the wolves. Got that?” Something about this guy exudes arrogance. He seems like the type of man who would taunt me endlessly until the day I die. Monoma nods and faces the horde with Yanagi and I. He pats her shoulder too. It seems he can copy more than one Quirk by physical contact.

 

Yanagi and Monoma levitate pieces of concrete and metal behind them. Yanagi says, “Stay back, Kendo. Else, you’ll be torn much like these machines.” I nod and let them loose. They send their projectiles towards the robots, shredding the front-liners to pieces. They wail in robotic pain before their comrades charges in closer. That’s a lot of points right there! Now, it’s my turn! I rush in with my Big Fists back, punching the lights out of a two-pointer. (Fourteen!) Monoma and Yanagi follow behind me, taking a direct approach like me. 

 

I jump in the air and bring my fists down like hammers onto a three-point’s head. (Seventeen.)

A one-pointer thinks it can kill me, so it leaps while I’m on top of my latest victim. I grab it and (quite brutally) tear its head off. (Eighteen.)

I leap off of the three-pointer and into a crowd of a two and one-point, striking both of them with a fist each. (Twenty-one.)

A two-pointer tries to sting me with its scorpion-like tail. I dodge it, letting the stinger embed itself in the concrete before I give it a nasty uppercut. (Twenty-three.)

A one-point rushes its claw at me, but I dart above him and smack my foot against it, leading up with a downwards punch. That’s another one down! (Twenty-four.)

I land back on my two feet. Oh, there’s another one-pointer who’s almost destroyed, but it’s still functioning. Painlessly, I kick its lights out. (Twenty-five.)

 

“Kuhahaha! I expect nothing less from the granddaughter of Master Kendo, and the daughter of Golden Hand! Masterful fighting there! If only I could be skilled as you!” Monoma compliments me? No idea. He could be patronizing as hell, but he seems genuine about it. He’s a confusing man.

 

“Indeed. Monoma was surprisingly strong with his Quirk. He has some degree of skill in adaptability, but he is not as strong as you are, Kendo,” Yanagi, much more clearly, compliments me. She is much more nicer than this guy. I mean, why the hell is Monoma smirking like that?! Is there something on my face?

 

“Thanks guys. Guess we should split up no-”

 

“THREE MINUTES REMAINING! THINK YOU CAN ESCAPE THE ARENA TRAP?!” Present Mic…?

STOMP!!!
RUMBLE!!!
STOMP!!!

 

Oh my God! There’s the zero-pointer! It’s loud, massive, and absolutely out of my league! Bad news is: It’s on the street across from us! The only thing between us and that thing is a row of buildings! Even worse, the buildings are structurally weak, so they could come crashing down at any moment! Monoma states, “Well, that is quite large.”



“No shit Sherlock! We gotta get back to the entrance! These buildings will fall on top of us if we don’t move!” I tell them, shrinking my hands and leading them the way out. There’s no chance in hell that I’m going face-to-face with the giant. We gotta take a detour. We might run out of time, but we won’t die in the process! I take these two down God knows how many blocks, but the zero-pointer keeps on stomping towards us! Is this thing targeting us specifically?! God! Why can’t this be easy for once?!

 

Yanagi yells, “We need to hurry! The Arena Trap is gaining distance! Monoma, how are you doing?” Monoma is running like hell behind me. He doesn’t seem the most athletic, but he’s faster than Yanagi.

 

He answers, “Swell! When I woke up this morning, I never expected to outrun a giant machine of death! But, here we are, aren’t we?! I should have known U.A. would put us up to this!” Monoma lets out a loud groan before asking me, “Kendo! Are you sure we’re running towards the entrance?!”

 

“I hope to God that we are! I saw others running in the same direction as we are! It must be the right way! I-?!”

 

STOMP!!!

 

The zero-pointer stomps again. The building besides us crumbles slightly, its walls cracking from the impact. Pieces of concrete snap off, falling around all around us, exploding in clouds of dust and debris. I stop running and move out of the way, pulling Yanagi behind a ruined car for cover. A few agonizing seconds later, the clouds disappear. I look up from the car and… Where’s Monoma?! I shout, “Monoma! Are you alive?!”

 

“Barely… Help…” Monoma whimpers underneath a slab of concrete. Shit! Thank goodness he’s still alive! Yanagi and I run over to him. I activate my Quirk, trying to lift it off of him but it's too heavy even for me! Yanagi, being a quick thinker, uses her Quirk to slightly lift it up. She can’t levitate it fully, but it’s enough to let me pull Monoma out. I hoist him over my shoulder, nodding to Yanagi to get the hell outta here. As we sprint, the zero-pointer turns and walks away from us. Monoma, despite being injured, says, “Thanks, K-Kendo… You’re a dependable woman…”

 

“Save your breath for Recovery Girl. We’re not out of the woods yet,” I tell him. When we finally reach the entrance, a lot of other testers are there too with medical staff on standby. It seems they got the same idea too. I approach a stretcher with Yanagi, putting Monoma on it. My fists go back to its normal size… Guess this is it for my exam. Twenty-five points total. Let’s hope that’s enough to get into U.A.. Meanwhile, Monoma is just smirking at me. I tell him, “There’s something weird on your face. You should wipe it off.”

 

He replies after he coughs some dust up, “That weirdness is pain. I can’t feel my legs, but I’m alive as alive can be. Thank you again, Kendo. You might even be a better Hero than your father.”

 

“Idiot, no one can be as great as him. Now, if we’re in the same class, Monoma… I’ll be keeping a close eye on you,” I reply, crossing my arms.

 

Yanagi adds on, hanging her arms like a ghost, “So will I. Frankly, you seem like a mischievous man. Those eyes are that of a schemer and a plotter.”

 

“I’m flattered!” Monoma exclaims, then he coughs again. That cough sounded a lot more painful than the last. It’s what he gets for speaking that loud after being crushed.

 

“Please, just shut up,” I say.

 

“A-Alright…”

 

~~~

 

Sanji Inochi

“FIVE MINUTES LEFT! IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY POINTS, GET SOME!”

 

Well Present Mic, I don’t want to be rude but I can’t find any robots to smash! For the past five minutes, I ran around the city finding nothing! All I saw was wrecked robots and other testers having the same problem as I am. Damnit! There’s no way I’m gonna get into U.A. at this rate! I can’t worry, I can’t stress about it! Just gotta keep running and searching! If I stop now, I’ll get overwhelmed by doubt! There’s no way I can do that! So, I just need to keep running!

 

“KILL! KILL! KILL!” Oh thank God that something wants to kill me today! A one-pointer is in front of me about ten meters down the street. This should be easy! I can’t afford to slow down though, so I need to end it with one strike without losing my momentum! “SLAUGHTER! EVISCERATE! KILLLLL!”

 

The one-pointer lurches forward with one of its gray metal claws above my head. I drop to my knees, skidding myself under it. I spin behind me and use the momentum to crack the one-point in half using my quarterstaff before sliding back onto my feet. That’s one point for me! Not enough for U.A. unfortunately, so I need to keep fighting!

 

“TAKE THAT!” 

 

I don’t who’s shouting, but that was coming from my left! If any luck, there’ll be leftover robots for me to destroy! I turn the corner, sprinting in-between two dilapidated buildings. On the other side is a sizable lot. I think this area was a courtyard since there’s a fountain in the middle. No time to admire it though! There’s a three-pointer in front of me. I can barely see a man behind it screaming and punching this thing, but he isn’t doing a thing from the looks of it. I should help him out! I yell, jumping on top of the three-pointer and whacking the top of its head. The metal bends in slightly, but it isn't dead! It wavers slightly, being stunned. So, I hit it again, and again, and again! Each time, the metal caves in more and more before I decide to stab it using one end of the staff. It wasn’t the correct way to use a staff, but it put the three-point out of commission! 

 

“Yo, Inochi! That was mine!” Tetsutetsu suddenly exclaims. Crap, I didn’t expect to see him of all people! He looks different though. His skin is the same color as steel. That must be his Quirk. A Hardening-type. I get off of the three-pointer to greet him once again. Also, there’s a ton of robots here, but their attention is on a green-haired woman. She’s standing in front of the fountain with her hands together like she’s praying. Tetsutetsu and I watch her as her hair suddenly moves on its own, digging itself into the ground. Instantly, it emerges underneath all of the robots, entangling them in her vine-like hair and destroying this courtyard even further. She crushes them, gaining a ton of points at once. Okay, even though she seems like a nice woman, she has a terrifyingly strong Quirk. Tetsutetsu tells me, “That’s Ibara Shiozaki! Pretty freaking strong, right?! Anyway, how many points d’ya got, Inochi?!”

 

I cringe, shaking my head. “Four, counting the one I just destroyed. Sorry, by the way. For five minutes, I couldn’t find anything. I need to step it up.”

 

“Jeez, bad luck huh? Too bad Shiozaki destroyed all of the damn things here. Oh wait, there’s one still kicking. You should take that one, man,” Tetsutetsu points out, and actually points out a simple one-pointer near us. 

 

“What about you? I mean, we’re both fighting for the same thing, Tetsutetsu. You might need that point more than I do,” I say as I walk up to it with him. He laughs and bangs on his chest, creating a loud clang that echoes off the walls.

 

“I got forty-nine points! That’s more than enough! C’mon, you seem like a pretty decent guy than the other knuckleheads here. Did you see how they treat others? Like trash! It’s pretty messed up,” Tetsutetsu implores, and I guess I’m taking this. I nod before I put my foot on the one-pointer’s head, gently crushing it. It whines in pain before it falls completely limp. That’s five points… Only five measly points.

 

“It’s a good sight to finally see honest and selfless men,” Shiozaki approaches us. Upon closer look, she’s a really beautiful woman. It’s like she was pulled from a fairy tale. Wonder how many points she earned? “Many men and women here are devoid of these traits. They indulge in a self-sacrificial career for their own selfish desires.” She has a religious way of speaking, doesn’t she? I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a Christian, or a Catholic to be specific.

 

I say, “Personally, I wouldn’t admonish them, but we don’t have time to argue. Who knows how much time we have left before the exam ends? We should-!”

 

“THREE MINUTES REMAINING! THINK YOU CAN ESCAPE THE ARENA TRAP?!” As soon as I said that, Present Mic answers my exact question. We got three minutes left- Wait a second?! Did he just say “Arena Trap”?!

 

RUMBLE!!!

STOMP!!!

“Uhh… We got a problem,” Tetsutetsu obviously states since the Arena Trap, or the zero-pointer, comes to life. It emerges taller than the buildings surrounding us, standing tall as a giant. Compared to us, we’re ants. It’s the same color as the other robots too: dark green. From the size alone, I’m no match for it. Not yet, at least. We have to get the heck outta here before the buildings crumble around us! 

 

I gesture towards where I came in, yelling, “We have to run! We’re too close to the zero-pointer!” I start running there, resting my quarterstaff against my shoulder. Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki follow behind me. We-!

 

STOMP!!!

CRUMBLE!!!

 

“WATCH OUT!” Tetsutetsu shouts, grabbing me by my back collar and yanking me back. The building to our left crumbled a few massive pieces off, nearly killing me. If Tetsutetsu wasn’t here… Ugh, never mind! The debris is blocking our exit! We gotta find another way and hope to God that we don’t die! “You okay, Inochi?!”

 

“I’m alive! But, we still need to get the heck outta here!” I answer, frantically looking around. 

 

Shiozaki points to a building with an open floor, leading out to an empty street on the other side. “There!” she says, immediately running towards it. This time, Tetsutetsu and I follow her into the building, jumping through a concrete window frame. Is it me, or does this seem a lot larger when I’m inside it?! Damnit, it’s no good! I hear the zero-pointer stomping with no mercy! Each time it stomps, the ceiling above us cracks like a spider web, crumbling just enough to pile our shoulders with bits of concrete. It’s no good! We’re nearly halfway there to freedom, but it’s not good enough! We have to run faster!

 

STOMP!!!

 

The cracks get wider! More dust is falling on our shoulders! I throw my quarterstaff away. It’s dead weight to me! I run ahead, faster than I thought I could ever run! Somehow, I reach an open doorway. Tetsutetsu catches up to me and I push him out of the building. I look back at Shiozaki-!!!

 

STOMP!!!

 

Another stomp. The ceiling is on the edge of collapsing completely. The weak pillars, the only things that keep us alive, are about to give in. In fact, a chunk of debris fall in front of Shiozaki, not yet taking the whole ceiling down. She trips and falls! Damnit! Without thinking, I let my legs carry me to her. I throw her arm over my shoulder as I do my damn best to get us both outta here alive! Tetsutetsu’s out the doorway with his hand extended out to us! He yells, “HURRY UP!”

 

The ground starts to shake. My feet go off-balance for just less than a second, but I keep running forward with Shiozaki. I swear, this is not how I wanna die! I never been one to be petrified in the face of death, but this?! This is just crazy! The entire building is about to come on top of us! C’mon, not yet! You won’t collapse now, right?! Just hold on until we’re home free! Until Shiozaki is safe!

 

Almost there! I can almost reach Tetsutetsu’s hand! I-!!!

 

SMAAAAAASH!!!

CRASHHHHH!!!

 

Before I know it, the ceiling topples down like a house of cards. My arms move on their own, pushing Shiozaki to Tetsutetsu as I hear, I feel everything behind me coming down. I’m almost outside. I can feel the sunlight on my body. Almost there...

 

I close my eyes.

 

But, I don’t get crushed. I feel something tight wrapping around my wrist before I get pulled so hard that my shoulder dislocates itself. My entire body gets hit with warmth as my back is forcibly dragged across the hard, cold pavement. I’m outside… I’m outside, aren’t I? Slowly, my eyes flutter open to the blinding sun before two distinct figures come into focus… My heroes… Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki. They saved me… Shiozaki, at the last second, used her Quirk to pull me out.

 

Tetsutetsu lends his hand. With my good hand, I clapse it and stand up, relocating my other arm. I grit my teeth and groan, staring at the now-destroyed building. It collapsed inwards on itself thankfully. Now that I think about it, the last stomp… was it really a stomp? It was much louder than the other ones. In fact, the earth shook so much that it could’ve been a really bad earthquake! What happened…? Shiozaki asks me, “Inochi, are you okay? You nearly died.”

 

“I’m fine. Thank you for saving me, you too Tetsutetsu. Without you guys, I would’ve been the first recorded death in U.A. High,” I say, laughing slightly. Tetsutetsu pats my back and smiles widely with really jagged teeth like Tokage.

 

“Nah man! It was just Shiozaki! But, I’m happy as hell that I’m alive!” Tetsutetsu exclaims, also getting a somewhat of a glare from Shiozaki. He nervously chuckles, turning to a crowd of other examinees walking on a street. “I think that Arena Trap is gone now. Better get to Recovery Girl and get your arm checked up, Inochi! C’mon!”

 

“Mhm. And before I forget, thank you for rescuing me, Inochi. I hope that I see you in my class,” Shiozaki tells me before we follow the crowd. We get to see what happened: The Arena Trap is down. Someone defeated it. Everyone says a green-haired boy punched it with a really powerful Quirk. Present Mic announces that the practical exam is over… Damnit, only five points. I can’t get into U.A. with that… As much as I hope, it’s not enough…

 

Once I reach Recovery Girl, I say goodbye to Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki, wishing them luck on their results. These two are kind, and they have powerful Quirks. They deserve to be in the Hero Course. Anyway, I approach Recovery Girl, holding my once-dislocated shoulder. I say, “Uhm, Miss Recovery Girl? I dislocated my shoulder, but I relocated it. I’m just here to-”

 

“Just ‘Recovery Girl’, and say no more, Inochi,” she replies, somehow knowing my name! She gestures me to bend down on one knee before she plants a kiss on my forehead, healing my arm and any scratches on me. “For goodness sake, you’re too tall for your own good. I’m a shrimp compared to you, boy.”

 

“Heh, sorry… How do you know my name?” I ask her, stretching my arm.

 

“You’re one of Saki’s kids. How could I not know? I don’t talk to that idiot much, but I do keep tabs on him and his family. Jeez, I have some things to say about the Kendos. Do you know how many times Kaito, may he rest in peace, landed himself in my office? Every single time, he fought men trying to woo Hayami when they were your age. And every single time, I would scold him, but it never worked! I don’t know how that man didn’t get himself expelled. Oh, don’t get me started on Sasaki and Tatemi. We were all students in U.A. together. These two wouldn’t confess their mutual love for each other until graduation. Graduation! Now, chances are, you and Itsuka will be joining U.A. as the next Pros! I wonder what hell you two will bring me… Inochi? You don’t look happy.”

 

“Because… I didn’t do so well. If you know Master Kendo personally, then you know why. I tried my best, Recovery Girl,” I softly tell her, looking down at the ground.

 

“I know. I’m not too well-informed on the application process, but you’ll get in. Even though you’re not technically Quirkless, you’re the best one I seen. Now, if you excuse me, I need to scold Midoriya. He’s the one who brought the robot down. Have a good day.” With that, she walks away with her comically large syringe. Midoriya, huh? Well, he almost killed me, but it wasn’t his fault. Doesn’t matter though, that’s it. That’s the entire Entrance Exam. Better find my friends. They surely did better than me.

 

I follow the crowd again. I go through the same halls until I’m back outside where I was before. Kendo, Kodai, and Ojiro are there waiting for me. They see me and wave. Naturally, I wave back and smile, trying my best to hide my disappointment. They walk up to me with Kendo asking, “Inochi! Glad to see you’re still kicking. How did it go? Personally, it went great because I got twenty-five points. Yui has thirteen while Ojiro got seventeen. Oh, where’s your quarterstaff?” Wow, that’s a lot frankly. Lot more than me.

 

“Long story short: Arena Trap. And I did pretty well. Got enough points to get into U.A., I’d say,” I answer, lying. It’s good enough that everyone believes me. Might be because all of them, even Kodai, are stoked about their results. Of course they would believe me. Besides, I don’t want to bring them down when they’re smiling like that. I don’t want to make this all about me, so I ask Kendo, “How did your exam go? You can tell it on the way to the Dojo.”

 

“Oh, I will. I met this guy who copied my Quirk. Seems like a real nice man to say the least,” she recalls as the four of us start walking back.

 

I try my best to listen, but the only thing I do is worry.

 

***

 

A week passed. Despite Kendo asking me to ask Tokage to ask her “connections” to ask U.A. if they know we got in. It’s a lot of asking, but none of it worked. It got as far as Tokage before she shuts us (mainly Kendo) down. (I ended up seeing Tokage’s father for the first time through a face call. That wasn’t the most pleasant experience.) I don’t know where Tokage has her connections, but I don’t feel like asking. I’m honestly not fond of that word now. God, Kendo’s been on edge for the past week. Every time I see her, she’s either tinkering with her motorcycle or viciously training at the Dojo and being way too excited to beat me in a spar. Kodai keeps telling us that she’s nervous for the results. I can definitely see it in her eyes. It’s a little change in how her eyes look, but it’s very noticable. And with Ojiro, he’s been a bit jumpy. Every time his phone chimes, he immediately takes it out and be met with disappointment. One time, he nearly dropped his phone in the river. At least, that’s what he told me. Hayami and Master Kendo keep telling us (again, mainly Kendo) that we’ll get into U.A., but I have a good feeling that I’m not. Kendo? For sure. Kodai and Ojiro? Of course. Not me though. I’ve been repressing hope for the past week, having fake optimism replace it, answering questions about my exam with vagueness, et cetera. After all, I want to make sure that I don’t get in my friends’ way.

 

So, I’m here, standing outside my home for the past five months. I went out for a walk to clear my head, but I’m back now. I wonder once I get the news, the news I’m expecting, what would change? Would Master Kendo kick me out? Will I go into the General Department? Only God knows the answer. And that answer could be in this very mailbox. I open it and there’s one single letter inside. I take it out and see a U.A. wax seal on it. Yup, this is it. I shake it around, and there’s something inside. It’s not paper, but it’s some sort of disc. My heart should be pounding, but it’s relaxed. I know the results, so Kendo will be thrilled. I unlock the front door and go inside, taking my shoes off. I hear Kendo and Hayami talking in the kitchen with Master Kendo laughing. He’s probably watching his shows. Once I come in, Kendo pokes her head out to greet me. I announce before she asks, “I’m sorry, but there’s only a letter with a U.A. wax seal. It’s nothing important-”

 

“Nothing important my ass!” she snaps, immediately taking the letter out of my hand. I nearly fall down from how fast she took it! Hayami helps me up and we immediately run into the living room where Kendo tears the letter in half. I stand behind the couch, watching as a metal disc plop onto the table. All of us watch intently as…!

 

All Might appears as a hologram! Wait, All Might appears?! He’s wearing a really snazzy suit! Why is he telling us our results?! Anyway, he exclaims, “I am here! As a hologram! Before I tell you your results, I will be attending U.A. as the heroism teacher!”

 

“Oh dear God, Toshi will kill his students,” Master Kendo mutters under his breath.

“Toshi can go to school but never bothers to visit us,” Hayami adds on, pouting. Wait, they know All Might personally?!

 

Despite those comments, he continues by asking what I assume to be off-stage workers, “Is that all I have to announce? Really? Great! Anyway, as I was saying! Your results, Young Kendo! You must’ve studied well because you passed your written portion of the Entrance Exam with flying colors!”

 

The entire room goes silent. We all know what All Might will say next.

 

“For your practical portion, you scored twenty-five Villain Points total! It’s better than ninety-five percent of the examinees! That is why I am excited to say that you will be continuing the Kendo family legacy at U.A.! I-!”

 

Hayami and Kendo scream in excitement, cutting All Might off. Master Kendo plugs his ears while I smile, patting Kendo’s shoulder. I try my best to tell her that I’m proud, but Hayami is currently blowing my eardrums out. I knew it though. All Might didn’t even address me. That means I failed. I think… I think it’s showing on my face, since Hayami puts a hand on my shoulder...

 

“Okay! I think the scheduled screaming is done.”

 

Heh, All Might is always the one who inspired me… Guess I can’t be as great as him… I-

 

“Now, how could I not mention Young Inochi? I admire you, frankly. You’re much like myself! More than you realize. And, not to mention you have the wit as well! It’s clear in your written portion actually, because you passed! Now, as for your practical portion… I regret to say that five Villain Points is not enough to enter U.A. High School.”

 

Dammit… Just as my hopes were rising in my chest… Why did U.A. make All Might say that?! It’s no u-

 

“If that was all. You see, how can a prestigious school like U.A. grade students based on combat ability alone? Aren’t Heroes risking their lives to save the public no matter the cost? Wouldn’t you say that’s lip service? How can we judge future Heroes without judging their genuine selflessness? So!” The screen changes to display two single words: Rescue Points. What… What are these?

 

“Rescue Points! A committee of well-respected judges gave these points out to the selfless who saved others without a second thought!” The screen cuts to two separate videos: Kendo saving Monoma with Yanagi, and me, saving Shiozaki and Tetsutetsu. I never told them about it. God, the look they have right now...

 

“Itsuka Kendo: Forty points! You are fifth on the overall ranking!” Oh my God... She really did kill the Exam! The screen shows the leaderboards! I see Tetsutetsu, Shiozaki, and that Midoriya who brought the zero-pointer down!

 

“And Sanji Inochi: Also forty points. Do you know what this means, don’t you?”

 

I think I do! But... But, God! This actually can’t be happening!

 

“Young Inochi, you will be joining Young Kendo to U.A High School!”

 

His words... it made my legs go numb, almost making me tumble over the couch. I try everything I can to focus on All Might, the actual All Might, who’s smiling at me. I’m going... I’m going to U.A.!

 

“Quirkless or not, use your determination to be a Hero! I will say this again! Use every ounce of your courage and strength to be the Hero you wish to be! That applies to you as well, Young Kendo! Be the people’s fist just like your father! The master martial artist exactly as your fine grandfather!”

 

He extends a hand out like he’s here in this very room. “Now come, my future Heroes! This will be your hero academia!”

 

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

I close my eyes.

 

I close my eyes. My body floats on the water-like air, soothingly clashing against my clothes. Even though I’m standing upright, it feels like my head is sinking lower and lower into the earth, but it’s expanding outwards. It’s a strange feeling, really hard to explain. I haven’t gotten used to just yet. After all, I never had a reason to go into this place. I’m legally Quirkless, but this is one major aspect of my Quirk. It’s not my Adoptive Muscle Memory. It’s something else. It’s the only power given to me.

 

It’s the power to enter my own mind.

 

I open my eyes, being welcomed by the same sight. It’s the same useless sight. I’m standing on an open white floor that could burn someone’s eyes if they stared into it long enough. As far as the bounds of my mind goes, it’s pure white as well. Everything’s lit up without a single source of light to be seen. Well, there’s one thing that’s not brightened. It’s the ceiling, acting as the roof of my own head. There’s nothing there other than pitch blackness. Yup, this is the only power given to me. I call this place my “Mindscape”. It’s not a cool name as I want it to be, but it’s a name. That’s not the only thing that this landscape has though. On this floor lies thousands and thousands of translucent glass-like panes. These… God, these things are complicated and I barely understand them myself. So, each of these things are two panes bent outwards, like the outside edge of a cube where two faces meet. Now, each of them belong to a single person I met in my life. For example, I would have one for Tokage and Kendo each, since I met them. On these panes… How can I describe it…? If an episode of a sitcom was illuminated on it, but the episode was sped up one hundred times than normal. I can barely process each frame, but I have a feeling I know what they’re telling me. They’re telling me someone’s dreams in life. My only evidence is the fact that my Quirk is named “Dreams”. The only reason I know the name of my Quirk is… Well, I just know. Much like my Mindscape, I have a name for these translucent things: Dream Mirror. Since it’s like a mirror, and I can see into a person’s mind. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. I can’t forcibly enter into someone’s head, thank God. I don’t even know how I get my Dream Mirrors in the first place. The most likely theory is by touch, since that’s how many Quirks get activated. Now, that’s almost everything except for the exact number of Dream Mirrors I have. Today, I have 17,321. Before I came to Musutafu five months ago, I only had around 10,000 give or take. Luckily, my brain tells me how many I have, acting like an automated computer. Anyway, that’s it. That’s all- Wait, no. There’s one more.

 

Carefully, I stick my hand out, taking a few steps forward. After a few meters, my hand flattens against an invisible wall. Yup, still here. In my Mindscape, I’m trapped inside an invisible box. Can’t climb out, can’t dig under, none of that. Quite literally, I’m literally stuck inside my own head. From this barrier, it must be blocking me out of my Quirk’s true purpose.

 

God, one of these days… I’m going to awaken to it. It might not be years from now. It might even be months! Might be even tomorrow if I’m hopeful! U.A. will help me unlock it. I know it. Anyway, it’s time to leave. I did my monthly checkup. It’s April. Today is the first day of school.

 

***

 

White dress shirt: buttoned.

Dress pants: tightened.

Red tie: tied.

Light gray blazer: worn.

Socks and shoes: on

Black backpack: secured.

 

All ready. Next stop: U.A. High School. Kendo and I are in Class 1-B. Kodai and Tokage are with us, while Ojiro is in 1-A. These two classes are in the Hero Course, a program dedicated to heroism. There are other departments within U.A. as well. There’s the General Courses, which are made up of students who didn’t perform well in the Entrance Exam, so they were put in there. I’m sure every student in those classes were gunning for the Hero Course. Now, there’s also the Support Department. Students in there are studying to be engineers and scientists for Pro Heroes. They have a separate Entrance Exam than the heroism one. (In fact, there’s three: Heroism, Support, and Management.) Speaking of Management, the Management Department is suited for capalitistic students who want to manage/run Hero Agencies. It’s the U.A. equivalent of business class in middle school, but as a program. Interestingly enough, the Entrance Exams aren’t strict. If, let’s say, someone took the heroism version of the Entrance Exam, they can opt to transfer into the Support Department rather than the General Courses if they wish. This doesn’t apply to the Support and Management Exams because why would someone transfer to another course? They took specific exams to get into those departments because they know they don’t wanna be a Hero.

 

Besides from that, there’s the staff in U.A.. They’re pretty amazing. My homeroom teacher is Vlad King, or Mister Kan. He’s a tall and buff man who can extract his own blood and harden it. It’s very disgusting, but he’s not a Hero for no reason. 1-A has Eraserhead, or Mister Aizawa. He usually operates at night, and his Quirk is perfect for fighting against Villains. All Might (it’s hard to think that I’ll be learning under him!) is teaching heroics, Present Mic has English, Cementoss is my modern literature teacher, Midnight is… modern hero art (not my first choice for an elective, but I got put in it somehow), Snipe will be teaching metaology/science in general, and Ectoplasm is my worst subject: math. There’s also other Heroes like Recovery Girl, Hound Dog, and more who have miscellaneous roles. God… That’s a lot of different Pros. I heard nothing but good things about them! It’s… It’s amazing that I got in. Honestly…with how the world works…something like this wouldn’t be possible. Even if I could be the best, Quirkless aren’t exactly valued. It’s not illegal to discriminate against them, and it isn’t frowned upon in some circumstances. Since U.A. is the best heroism school in the entire world, one would think they wouldn’t let Quirkless in. Y’know what, doesn’t matter! I’m in U.A.! Can’t afford to waste my thoughts on things that clearly didn’t happen.

 

So! I walk out of my room wearing the uniform I will wear for three years! I hear everyone else downstairs. Usually, I would be the only one up at this hour, but today is a special day. I come down with my hands in my blazer pockets, smiling. “Morning! Good to see you guys up,” I greet them. Master Kendo and Kendo are talking over a cup of coffee while Hayami is just in front of me with a green velvet box at her back. She greets me and smiles her usual mom smile. Although, her eyes telling me to keep it a secret. Can do.

 

“Yup. Lucky you. You don’t have to worry about alarm clocks scaring you awake half to death,” Kendo complains, taking a long sip from her mug, “by the way, thanks for brewing coffee for me. I wouldn’t be able to survive without this.” That’s my morning routine. Get back from my nightly exercise, take a shower, brew some coffee, then get ready to start the day with a few chores. It’s the least I could do. 

 

“Mhm,” I acknowledge, walking into the living room with her and Master Kendo, “Master Kendo, do you have any tips for surviving U.A.? My instincts are telling me that… well… I could die.”

 

“Calm your nerves, would ya? The only thing you should do is be careful around All Might. He may be your teacher, but it doesn’t mean he’ll be a good one. Besides from that, don’t let the other students get to you. Focus on your own training,” Master Kendo answers. He must be talking about the General Courses. And, I’m sure All Might will be a great teacher. He’s the best Hero! He might be new to teaching, but he won’t kill us.

 

“That’s right. Okay… Now, I think I’m ready,” Hayami tells us, showing the box again. Kendo puts her mug down and stares at the box. Hmm, I think it has something to do with Kaito, Kendo’s dad. Because, I never seen that look in Hayami’s eyes before. It’s mournful. “So uhm… God, I can’t let myself be a mess again… Itsuka, sweetheart, I have something to give you. It belonged to… It belonged to your dad.”

 

Master Kendo and I go silent, slowly moving away so Kendo and Hayami can have their heartfelt moment. Hayami finally reveals what’s inside the box: a class ring. Kaito’s class ring. It’s a golden-plated ring with an emerald embedded in the center. Around the emerald itself has western letters etched, spelling out Kaito’s name. There’s also the graduation year plated too. I never knew how Kaito was able to marry Hayami. To be honest, Hayami is the kind of woman who seems like she hates you, when all along, she has feelings for you. And, Master Kendo is incredibly protective of his daughter. Imagine what Kaito had to do to get his favor. It worked out though. He raised Kendo well. It’s a shame he went missing all those years ago. Hayami explains, “It was his class ring… H-He spent an arm and a leg for it, but he always managed to convince himself that it was worth it. I-I… God, since you’re doing this for him... I-It felt right for you to have it. For you know, safe keeping… I don’t expect you to w-wear this stupidly expensive thing.”

 

She hands the box to Kendo, who’s crying. I never thought I would see her cry. I never thought I would see her and Hayami cry. Kendo… She takes the box and holds onto it like it’s something fragile, staring at her father’s ring. There’s all kinds of emotions emanating from her. God, I can’t imagine how she feels. Feels like I’m out of place. But! This is an incredibly sweet moment. It almost makes me cry myself. Master Kendo puts a hand on my shoulder before approaching his granddaughter, saying, “Your father was frankly a fool, but he was a great man. He would feel blessed to have you as his daughter.”

 

“P-Please shut up… I-I don’t feel like sobbing this m-morning…” Kendo replies, mumbling as she wipes the tears away with her sleeve. Hayami is a mumbling mess of words and tears. Now… Now I feel like I really don’t fit. I would say something since that’s the respectful thing to do, but what the heck will I say? I never felt a father’s head rub, a mother’s embrace, or the bonds with any siblings I might have. Until Hayami and Master Kendo, I guess. Hayami is the closest thing I can get to a mother, and Master Kendo to a grandfather. When I was ten or eleven, I would’ve never imagine this.

 

Hayami blows her nose into a napkin, sniffling. She looks at me and asks, “Sanji… Uhm, I-I’m sorry if I’m prying, b-but you never told us about your birth family… D-Do you know what they were like?”

 

“Hayami, I don’t wanna ruin this moment. It’s about your husband… It doesn’t feel right to talk about my own family,” I tell her.

 

“G-Gosh, just do it. Anything to g-get me to stop sobbing,” she insists, rubbing her eyes until they get even redder than before. Kendo actually agrees with her by nodding. Alright… if I have to.

 

“Well, I remember barely anything. The only memory I have is blurry… My dad had short white hair while my mom had long black hair. I don’t know if I’m an orphan, or if they gave me up. And, since my name is ‘Sanji’, I probably had two older brothers, but I can’t remember them. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything positive to say.”

 

“O-On that depressing note… I’ll just put this in my room. After that…we’re going to U.A., alright?” Kendo says, and I nod as a response. She closes the box and practically sprints upstairs. Her footsteps sounds like a drum that’s offbeat with the rest of the band. Hayami sniffles more while Master Kendo chuckles to himself. One door slam of finality later, she’s back with a completely different face on. Her eyes are still red, but there’s a smile on her, gleaming like the brightest star in the night sky. “Let’s get going.”

 

“N-Not without a hug first,” Hayami states before hugging her daughter, kissing her forehead. After that, she turns to me and actually hugs me for the first time. I… Yeah, I awkwardly pat her back. She huffs and comments, “Y’know…you’re practically family at this point, but go ahead! Be an awkward dork. Get to school you two. I expect great things.”

 

“Expect greater than great,” Kendo assures her, approaching the front door. She opens it and lets a beam of sunlight in. She says to me, “C’mon, we gotta be Heroes.”

 

“Yeah… We do.”

 

***

 

“Inochi, did I ever mention that this school was designed in hell?”

 

“That wasn’t your first thought? The main buildings are freaking letters! You know how Japanese people like western languages! Thank goodness that there’s signs around because I have no idea what this map is.” I gesture to this map that looks like an abstract piece of art. That’s what “abstract” means right? Just lines and names strewn all about with near-invisible diagrams thrown in?

 

“Yeah… Let’s follow the signs. 1-B is this-a-way,” Kendo says, pointing to the right. She leads the way, so I get a chance to admire how beautiful the interior is. The floor is painted to look like a two-way street, the walls and ceiling are spotless white, and the sunlight is illuminating everything to make it that much better. Along the walls are posters of famous Pro Heroes, clubs, sports, and something about Golden Week. Man, these will be the halls I’ll walk countless times! Imagine participating in the Sports Festival! Or be in the Culture Festival! Or in any festival in general? I’ll-! 

 

BUMP!

 

Eh? Something ran into me. I turn around and see a guy with a weird face… It’s like a manga panel. Well, not anymore. His head turns into a dizzy swirl with the rest of him on the ground. I never thought a Mutant-type Quirk could do this. Well, it’s my fault for not being aware of him. I tell him, “Laying on the floor won’t do good for your back, trust me on that.” I extend a hand out. The man yelps, suddenly realizing where he’s at. He instinctively puts up his arms before sighing, relaxing them. He takes my hand and I help him up. I apologize, “Sorry for scaring you. What’s your name?”

 

“I-It’s fine… I’m Manga Fukidashi. Call me ‘Fukid-’” He stops himself, shaking his head before starting again, “Manga. Call me ‘Manga’.” His name suits him.

 

“Sanji Inochi. And the kind lady staring at us is my friend, Itsuka Kendo,” I introduce us. Kendo walks over and shakes Manga’s hand, being more gentle than usual. Oh, I see why… Manga isn’t exactly the strongest person. In fact, I don’t think he exercises often by the looks of his arms. Guess he’s a dork about mangas. Nothing wrong with that.

 

“Nice to meet you, Manga. What class are you in? We’re in 1-B,” Kendo asks, and Manga’s head turns into an exclamation point.

 

He says, “I-I’m in that class too! Guess… Guess we’ll be classmates.” Well, that’s a pleasant coincidence. Manga seems like a really good person. I hope that everyone in my class is a good person anyway because… uhm… Why are they in U.A. if they’re not?

 

“You guys are in 1-B too?!” A high-pitched girl yells behind us. We turn around and see a really adorable girl. Her eyes are so big! There’s two horns on her head like a bull, and her feet are hooves. She kicks her legs together, saluting, “I am Pony Tsunotori! I’m the American switching student!” Must be “exchange student”, but I don’t wanna correct her.

 

Kendo smiles widely, immediately rubbing Pony’s head. “I’m Itsuka Kendo. The tall guy’s Sanji Inochi, and the other one is Manga Fukidashi. Great to meet someone like you, Pony!” Since she’s from America, us Japanese usually call foreigners by their first name if they prefer it. How can I not resist calling Pony by her first name anyway? It’s a cute name!

 

“Nice to meetcha! Now! We gotta get to class! C’mon, I’ll race you guys there!” Pony exclaims before galloping down the hall, being much faster than I am. Kendo stammers before running after her! Not sure she’s running to protect Pony or from competition, but it doesn’t matter! Guess I’m running too! I pat Manga’s arm before I chase after them. I turn the corner, passing 1-A. There it is! A black sign has “1-B” printed in red! I slow down to a brisk walk, taking my time. Manga catches up with me, nearly to the point of exhaustion. He holds his hand up, but it drops to his side. Slowly, he heaves into the room muttering something about “dying”. I should apologize later...

 

But anyway, I take a deep breath and walk inside. I’m greeted with a nice sight: A clean and vibrant classroom. Large windows, white walls, and a chalkboard at the front of the room. It doubles as a computer screen, I’d bet. But, what’s even better is the people here. My classmates. I see Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki! They haven’t noticed me yet, but I’m glad they’re in my class. Now… Ah, there’s Kendo. She’s talking to Kodai. Where’s Tok-?!

 

“Inochi! You’re alive!” Tokage yells, suddenly running up and wrapping her arms around me. There’s the woman I was looking for. “You made it, kiddo! Welcome to the big leagues! Hope you’re ready!”

 

“That and beyond,” I reply, taking my hand to rub her hair. Kendo rolls her eyes while a man with a headband looks at me, being pretty surprised.

 

“Dude… You have the heiress of Tokage Industries around your waist. How the hell did you do that?” he says what? 

 

I ask back, “I have the who-now around my what-now?” Tokage makes a weird face and lets go of me. Kendo is too! Okay, what’s going on? Even the guy with the headband! Is there something I’m missing?

 

“Inochi, my adorable boy,” Tokage says my name like how someone talk to a toddler. “Did you ever question why my dad have connections in U.A.? And why I get picked up by a fancy black car? Why my meals are five-stars, top of the class?”

 

I don’t say anything.

 

“Oh my God, you really don’t know! How did you not know that I’m the heiress of one of the most successful companies in the world?! Heck, Jurota’s company is one of its subsidiaries! Oh right, Jurota Shishida! He’s one of my good friends! Say ‘hi’, Inochi,” she commands me, pointing to Shishida, a very hairy man with glasses, who looks extremely confused. I just wave and he waves back.

 

“Tokage, it’s Inochi. Sometimes, he’s an insightful man. Most of the times, he’s an absent-minded idiot,” Kendo insults me. She isn’t wrong! But, it’s a bullet right in the heart! Still, how didn’t I know this from the beginning?! All of the clues were there, but I was blind as a bat! How can I make it up to Tokage now? Oh, I know what would cheer her up.

 

I get on one knee, putting my arm on top and resting my forehead against it. This needs to be the ultimate form of genuine guilt. “Forgive me for my ignorance, my queen. If need be, take my head.”

 

“Not yet, my knight. That head of yours still has a life to live,” she spares me. A simple pat on the head lifts me back onto my feet. That’s done and over with. A few people are staring at me like I’m a clown in a circus, but I don’t care about being embarrassed. Tokage says, “So, how’s U-?!”

 

“INOCHIIIII!!!” Tetsutetsu screams, furiously sprinting up to me-?!

 

“Tetsutet-?!!!”

 

CRASH!!!

 

I hear Kodai… “You killed Inochi.”

 

***

 

I wasn’t expecting to get tackle-hugged by Tetsutetsu, but it’s great seeing him again. After a quick chat, I decided to talk to the rest of my classmates.

 

Yosetsu Awase. He’s the man with the headband, and one of the top ten in the Entrance Exam. His Quirk is Weld, letting him weld any two things together. Awase is a bit vulgar in the way he speaks, and a bit perverted, but he has a good heart. Already, he’s asked me to give him “tips on the ladies”.

 

Sen Kaibara. At first glance, he’s a handsome man, but a bit distant. That’s just him being indifferent. His Quirk is Gyrate, which lets him rotate any of his limbs. He doesn’t give me much to describe about him.

 

Togaru Kamakiri. He initially didn’t want to talk to me because I was a “goofy freak”. Kamakiri isn’t wrong, but Kendo told me his Quirk is Razor Sharp. I don’t know how she knows, but she told me that Kamakiri can grow blades out of his body. After that, she didn’t want me to talk to him.

 

Shihai Kuroiro. His skin is literally black and he speaks like weird magician. I guessed his Quirk right though. It’s called “Black”. Kuroiro can blend into any surfaces that are black in color, being the ultimate stealth hero. For some reason though, he called me an “enigma filled with riddles”.

 

Itsuka Kendo and Yui Kodai. These two were my classmates back in middle school, and two of my closest friends. Kendo devotes her time to protecting the people she cares about with her Big Fists while Kodai is Kodai. Silent beauty, that’s what she is. Do I need to describe them further? I already know what they’re like.

 

Kinoko Komori. Originally, I pegged her as a quiet girl with her bangs hiding her eyes. Well, she is a quiet girl, but once I asked her why she wanted to be a Hero, it’s like a switch flipped in her. In the most extroverted way possible, she told me how she wanted to be an Idol Hero with her Quirk, Mushrooms. Naturally, I said to her, “I look forward to hear you sing and dance.”

 

Ibara Shiozaki. She saved my life back in the Entrance Exam. I can’t thank her enough. Her Quirk is Vines, and I already know how they work. She’s already one of the best students in 1-B. Of course, I told her that, but she shook her head and was modest about her strength. She wants to do the morally good thing “in the eyes of our Master”.

 

Jurota Shishida. He’s the one that Tokage mentioned when I found out she’s an heiress. Shishida is the heir to Shishida Pharmacies. His Quirk is Beast. He can transform… well, into that! He seems such a sophisticated and respectful man though. It’s hard to think he can suddenly shift into something so savage.

 

Nirengeki Shoda. He’s a chubby guy, but I see courage in his eyes. His Quirk is Twin Impact, allowing him to land a second impact on his strikes I believe. I think it also applies to anywhere on his body, but I don’t know for certain. Shoda himself is introverted. From the looks of him, he feels like he doesn’t fit into 1-B.

 

Pony Tsunotori. I met her just before I walked into 1-B. She’s absolutely adorable and innocent. Immediately, I feel the need to adopt her. Kendo feels the same way. Her Quirk is Horn Cannon, which explains for itself. Not only that, she’s the fastest woman in 1-B.

 

Kosei Tsuburaba. Him and Awase were talking together earlier actually. Much like Awase, he’s a bit of a pervert. He thrives on competition though. He even challenged me! Well, not exactly the fight I was looking for… Tsuburaba wanted a competition to see who can get a girlfriend first. Frankly, I’m not interested in love, but moving along.

 

Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu and Setsuna Tokage. These two are very touchy-feely kind of people. I don’t mind though. Tetsutetsu is an emotional man, striving to be the best. I saw his Quirk already, and it’s great. Tokage, on the other hand, is one of the smartest women I know. Behind that gleeful smile lies a calculating woman. Simply put, I can’t beat her in plans. She knows me more than I know myself.

 

Manga Fukidashi. When I walked up to him, he was reading a manga ironically enough. He seems a bit afraid of a lot of things, but he’s here in U.A. for a reason. His Quirk is called “Comic”, which lets him spit out Onomatopoeias as weapons. Manga told me that he has a twin sister in U.A. too. Her name is Shojo. I would love to meet her one day.

 

Juzo Honenuki. He’s the other recommendation student in 1-B. Honenuki likes telling puns and jokes. Even though some of our other classmates hate it, I don’t pay it any mind. Anyway, his Quirk is Softening. He can soften the ground beneath him, which makes for great traps. Oh, he doesn’t have a jaw.

 

Kojiro Bondo. He’s… big, to say the least. Bondo’s the largest man in 1-B. His Quirk is Cedemine, and I think that’s some kind of glue? It’s leaking out of his eye holes. For a big guy though, Bondo’s quite shy. I feel sorry for him.

 

Neito Monoma. He’s the man that Kendo saved during the Entrance Exam, and he looks pretty smug. The way he talks is a bit dramatic, but I can see why. His backpack has a Broadway pin on it. Monoma is a man of the stage. Shakespeare and… Yeah, Shakespeare is the only playwright I know. His Quirk is Copy. Maybe I should let him Copy my Quirk? Maybe I can find something out about it...

 

Reiko Yanagi. She’s the other person that Kendo met during the Entrance Exam. Her Quirk is Poltergeist, which is basically telekinesis. The most interesting thing about her is the way she speaks. It’s very verbose. Yanagi probably aces all of her essays with how many different words she uses.

 

Hiryu Rin. Rin, I’m going with his last name, is the Chinese exchange student. He seems a little like Shiozaki regarding morals and laws. His Quirk is Scales. Anywhere on his body, scales can pop up. Him and Tokage will get along great. If she wasn’t a lesbian, then I could see her being interested in Rin. Well, if I wasn’t in the picture.

 

Lastly is Sanji Inochi. He’s sitting at his desk, thinking about his classmates he just met. What do I have to say about him? What does everyone else think about him? Who the heck knows? He could be-

 

***

 

“Inochi,” Awase breaks me out of my mind, changing the scene. Oh right, I’m sitting behind Awase. Kaibara’s behind me, Kodai’s to my left, and Kendo sits in front of her. “Tell me about yourself, dude. Specifically, how did you get Tokage to hug you like that?”

 

“Awase, I only known you for twenty minutes, but stop obsessing over women. You and Tsuburaba,” Kaibara cuts in before I get a chance to answer. 

 

Awase turns around in his chair, leaning forward towards Kaibara and I. His plastic chair bends slightly. He whispers, “Hey man, but have you seen how many hot chicks are in this class? Kodai’s adorable, Kendo’s just hot, and look at Shiozaki! If God had a daughter, she would be it! Inochi, you agree with me right?”

 

“Don’t answer his question, Inochi. Awase is like most teenage boys: perverted. Nothing’s wrong with it, but it gets annoying,” Kaibara tells me. It seems we also attracted Kodai’s and Kendo’s attention. They’re staring at us now.

 

“I’m a man. It’s what we do! Gotta find the perfect girl to spend the rest of my life with! And I mean, if you swing that way, Kaibara, I’m not gonna discriminate! You do you! But, Inochi! We gotta settle this now! What makes you so damn charismatic? You’re a ladies man for sure.” Awase compliments with Kaibara groaning behind me. 

 

“Well, Awase,” Kendo joins our conversation. “Not acting like a skirt chaser helps. Don’t you agree with me, Yui? What do you think of Awase?”

 

“Pervert,” Kodai says, destroying Awase’s career. Kaibara nearly bursts out in laughter while Awase turns back to his desk, slamming his head against the solid plastic. I didn’t say a single word in this conversation. Everyone spoke for me. 

 

Finally, I say something, “So, how’s-?”

 

Click! Clack!

 

Vlad King interrupts me by his footsteps. He walks into the room. Just by his presence, the noise falls and we stare at him. Slowly, with a notepad tucked underneath his arm, he stands behind a pedestal with a scowl on his face. He surveys the room, his eyes dragging back and forth like he’s studying us. Vlad King surely knows that I’m Quirkless, right? But, he gives me the same eyes as everyone else. There’s no pity in them… 

 

“Welcome to U.A.,” Vlad King states, putting his notepad on the pedestal, “I am Vlad King. You can call me that or ‘Mister Kan’. Either works fine. As you know, you’re in the Hero Course. You will be training to become the next generation of Pro Heroes. The next three years will be hard, each year being harder than the last. But, you know that, don’t you? You’re prepared for what it takes, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. I’ll be putting you through the ringer, making a real Pro outta you. I’ll challenge you to your limits. No matter who you are or what Quirk you have. For one of you, it’s a lack thereof. Inochi, you know what I’m talking about. Stand and tell the class about yourself.” 

 

There it is… Mister Kan calls me out specifically. Everyone, except for my three friends, are confused. I do what he says, making sure everyone is staring at me. I explain, “I’m legally Quirkless. But, my Quirk gives me Adoptive Muscle Memory, so I’m able to replicate any physical task I see. Technically, that wouldn’t make me Quirkless, but there’s metaology laws and laws laws that I don’t know for the life of me which states otherwise.”

 

“What?!”

“Dude, you’re Quirkless?!”

“Ehhhh?! You must be pretty freaking tough to get in U.A. without one!”

“What’s your Quirk, Inochi?!”

“Damn, never expect to see a Quirkless in ‘ere. Knew there was somethin’ off ‘bout ya.”

 

I chuckle, awkwardly scratching the back of my head. “To answer the question regarding my Quirk, I don’t know. Monoma, I’m sorry to ask, but maybe you can Copy my Quirk?” I ask him, also lying. Of course I know about my Quirk, but what’s the point telling everyone if I can’t use it for what it’s meant for? And, it’s one less thing everyone has to worry about. For now, I’ll feign ignorance.

 

Monoma looks to Mister Kan for an answer, and he nods. Monoma walks up to me and touches my shoulder. Right, his Quirk activates on physical contact. His face scrunches up in disappointment. Dang, why can’t he Copy my Quirk? I understand if he can’t copy Mutant-type Quirks, but why not mine? “Hmm, I believe your Quirk is an Accumulation-type. Meaning, your Quirk needs some sort of power to function properly, like gas to a car. I can’t use it since I’m not fueled up. Perhaps if you know what powers your Quirk, you could use it. Either way, this little experiment is a failure. I’m sorry.”

 

“Thanks anyway, Monoma,” I say. Mister Kan nods for us to take our seats, and so he continues. His words leave me after a few seconds, only becoming mumbles. Although everyone knows the truth, I never once hear a rude comment. Not an insulting joke, a jab, nothing. I do hear a few whispers about how talented I must be, which is flattering, but also… it’s different. U.A. really is different, huh? Already, I can tell that we won’t break each other down. Rather, we build each other up. That’s what I feel in this room, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m one of the most unique here. From my Quirklessness, I have to be built up as the highest tower. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be treated differently as my classmates. Quirk or not, I’ll receive the same training as everyone else. I want to be treated just the same as a man with a Quirk! If there’s some who wants to coddle me, I’ll refuse it! I won’t be a Hero if I’m not treated as one! Heck, I’ll take a physical test today or tomorrow if it comes to it! That’s what being a Hero means! I’ll-!

 

“You have a test tomorrow,” Mister Kan announces. “It’ll be a survey for me to graph where you’re currently at. There’ll be two parts: combat and rescuing. That’s all the information you’ll get. Got it?”

 

“What.”

“Oh come on.

“This is U.A. after all…”

“Unexpected, but a welcomed surprise.”

 

Well… it came to it.

 

“For now…” Mister Kan trails off, gesturing for something to come inside. It’s…? Oh, it’s two security robots wheeling in a cart of papers. Stacks and stacks of papers. Oh my God, how many trees died for this?! “We have to deal with this mess first. It’s papers for… I have no idea. The pile gets bigger every year.”

 

I’m… I’m not prepared for this!

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

BAM BAM BAM!

 

BAM BAM BAM!

 

BAM BAM B-!

 

“Blowing off some steam?” Inochi asks right before I was about to punch through this straw dummy’s head. Shame, if he didn’t stop me, I would’ve done it. I get surprised at my own strength sometimes. 

 

“Yeah, guess I’m up as late as you. Today sucked, Inochi. I never thought I would hate paper, but now I do,” I answer, facing him. Inochi’s wearing his gym clothes. It’s a blue gym shirt with “PLUS ULTRA” in bright red and black gym shorts belonging to an American brand. Seems like he doesn’t mind the paperwork we had to do, but I was traumatized when I saw the cart. Do we have to do the same thing next year? God, that’ll probably be even more paperwork than today...

 

“Never thought that’ll be our worst Villain to date… Anyway, since we’re alone, I wanted to ask you something-”

 

I answer his question, “Mom hasn’t made our costumes yet, so you can’t use it for tomorrow’s test.”

 

“Wasn’t that, but thanks for letting me know. What I wanted to ask about is your dad. He’s your inspiration to be a Hero, yet you never talk about him much,” he tells me… Jeez, he’s really asking me about Dad, huh? Inochi’s right, I guess. Mom and I never talked about Dad much. We’re not people who dwell on the past… well, not outwardly. Us Kendos don’t talk about our history. Especially Grandpa. I know he was friends with All Might, but that’s all I know from his early Pro Hero days. The same goes for Inochi too. He never talks about his life before he got here. For the four of us, we would rather leave it behind and look towards the future. Still… It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves why we’re looking forward, not back.

 

“Sit. I’ll tell you about him,” I say, going over to the windowsill, just large enough for someone, and I take a seat. Inochi sits across from me, putting one leg over the other. I joke, “Let me tell you a story, kiddo.”

 

“Heh, want me to lay my head across your lap? Maybe I could finally rest from your voice whispering to me,” he shoots me back with another joke. Jeez, if someone else said that to me, I’d interpret it in a lewd way and punch the dope.

 

“Sorry, you’d have to stick with my loud voice for the time being. Now uhm…” I start to tell Inochi about Dad. When he met Mom, it was during the first few days of school I think. He told me that he was head-over-heels at first moment he saw her. Mom though, didn’t quite like him just yet. He chased her around a lot, but he knew his boundaries. Eventually, Mom accepted his advances. She acted like she hated him, but Mom loved Dad more than anything else. They were the best duo in the world. Dad, being a Pro Hero, and Mom, being an awesome support scientist. Grandpa, despite being overprotective of Mom, taught Dad everything he knows. Then, one thing led to another and little baby Itsuka appeared from thin air. Mom said when I came along, she was the happiest she ever been. Especially when…when I ended up inheriting Dad’s Quirk: Big Fists. 

 

Dad was the best. He was a bit like Inochi, actually. Goofy and kind. Anyway, Dad and I did a lot of things together. We wrestled and tumbled, ate ice cream until our brains became ice, and he even let me ride with him on his motorcycle even though Mom hated it. I remember when I saw Dad on TV, beating the bad guys up. Every time I saw him, I knew I wanted to be a Pro just like him and Grandpa. When I told Dad, he lifted me into his arms and rubbed my head. He had such a big smile, showing every one of his teeth. He said to me, “Be the best Hero, Itsuka. I’m counting on you to take care of me when I get old.”

 

Dad… He never got old. On November 24th, when I was only eight years old, he disappeared during a patrol in Kamino. The police searched for him. His friends searched for him. Even Mom went out on her own. Nothing. They couldn’t find him. Everyday, Grandpa would assure me that Dad will come back home. So, I kept waiting. When I came back from elementary school, I hoped that Dad was standing on the other side of the door, so I could run into his arms. It never happened. The search continued for months, but no one could find him. Mom got more and more depressed by the day, burying herself in her work until she couldn’t bring herself out of bed. Grandpa had to raise me when Mom couldn’t. It took a long time for her to gather her strength again. Today, I never once saw her happy as she was when Dad was here. That’s why I want to be a Hero. For her and for Dad, and one day… One day, I want to continue where the search ended. It might be denial, but I want to look for Dad. Even if the chances of him living are astronomically low, it’s still a chance nonetheless.

 

“So… That’s the story of Kaito Kendo. What about you, Inochi? I know you said that you don’t remember your family, but what do you think they were like?” I ask him. Inochi sighs and looks out the window, staring at the moon.

 

“Kind, I hope. They brought me into this world for a reason, no matter how cruel it is. I like to think that’s why our family name is ‘Inochi’. We bring life to the world we live in,” he answers, laying his head back against the edge of the windowsill. A soft smile forms on his lips. Inochi is already bringing life to 1-B. Who else would take their time to meet with each of their classmates? In fact… I…

 

“You know, Inochi… Your smile reminds me of Dad sometimes. It reminds me that not all of my memories of him are sad.”

 

“I’m glad. How about, just for tonight, you tell me stories about him? Seems like you need motivation for the test tomorrow,” he asks. Heh, all of this thinking about Dad did put a damper on my mood.

 

“Alright… And, thanks for listening to me talk. You’re a good friend.”

 

“Of course. That’s what I’m here for.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Sanji Inochi

“Put this on,” Mister Kan says, throwing a U.A. gym uniform to Awase. He looks at it before turning back to Mister Kan.

 

“Here? In front of everybody? Hell n-” Mister Kan shakes his head.

“No, in the locker rooms! Everybody get to it!” his voice booms over the class. It didn’t take much convincing for all of us to go there. As we leave, Mister Kan throws uniforms at us all. We separate into two lines (boys and girls), and go into our locker rooms.

 

For this test though, I brought my personal arsenal of weapons. It’s all secure in a duffle bag. I guess I’ll keep this at U.A. Hayami has extras for her extras back at the Dojo. Along the way, some guys, like Shoda and Tetsutetsu shoot me a few weird glances. Kendo though knows exactly what’s in here. She has a smile on her face that says, “Go show them, Inochi.”

 

I shoot a smile of my own, tapping the material of my bag. It’s an innocent smile, which doesn’t tell anyone about my various amounts of dangerous weapons. Dangerous weapons that could kill someone in a hundred different ways.

 

 

I’m surprised U.A. allowed this.

 

In our locker room, it’s a normal looking locker room. There’s clean lockers, floors, walls, never mind actually. This locker room is pretty great compared to my other schools. Nothing’s broken nor old because everything looks brand spanking new.

 

All of us quickly get dressed in our gym uniforms. It’s mainly blue with white lines going through them. Those lines spell out “UA” with the “U” at the top, and the “A” at the bottom. Everyone has their own locker, but I specifically requested a larger locker with weapon racks. Now, here’s the hard part: Unzipping my duffle bag. I’m right next to Manga, so let’s hope he doesn’t pani-

 

“Holy shit!” His speech bubble shifts into “!!!,” showing that he’s pretty anicked. Well, that didn’t work, but I figured this would happen. Manga looks at my duffle bag before staring (I think he’s staring) at me.

“Dude?! Why the hell do you have so much weapons?!” Manga runs over to my duffle bag and looks over them. His hand suddenly grabs my katana, moving his finger over the blade. “Is this a real freaking katana?!”

 

I take the katana from his hands, making sure the sharp end isn’t facing him. “Yeah, forged just for myself. You know Master Kendo right?”

 

Manga nods his head, still looking at my various weapons. I have pretty much every weapon imaginable in there. From general European weapons, Chinese, Japanese, and a little bit of stuff outside of Eurasia. “Yeah! Isn’t Kendo his granddaughter?”

 

“That’s right. I’m a foster kid, so he took me in. I’m his disciple with Kendo.” I start grabbing my stuff, putting it on my weapon racks. I feel Awase’s eyes falling upon me now.

 

“Dude! Really?! So you’re like a super soldier then?” He walks over and puts his elbow on my shoulder (Ow, that’s sore). Like Manga, he’s mainly looking at my arsenal of weapons.

 

“I guess you can say that.” I reply to him. I should think about what weapon I’m going to use. Probably the katana. There’s something oddly cliche about going into battle with a katana.  That and I’m focusing on swordsmanship with Master Kendo. (Ironically, his first name is Sasaki. Maybe I should try dual wielding like Miyamoto Musashi.)

 

“Hey! Whatcha talking about over there?” Tetsutetsu asks (on the edge of practically yelling), being across from us. His presence is really loud, like really really loud. I don’t know why he talks like he’s outside, but that’s his charm.

 

“How Inochi is basically an anime protagonist!” Manga exclaims. His hand is moving like he wants to touch more, but I’m giving that look as if I’m saying, “Don’t do it.” Tetsutetsu huffs in satisfaction, going back to whatever he’s doing.

 

Awase moves his elbow and pats my back. He tells me, “I hope I ain’t fighting you man. You seem like a scary bastard.” He goes back to his locker and continues to dress out. Manga does too, but his eyes turn back to me a few times.

 

I quickly put all my weapons in there. Now, I have to change. I take off my clothes and throw on my pants first. Some of my classmates/friends glance over to me, noticing my scar across my heart. I had it ever since I was five. It’s gotten smaller over time, but it’s still very noticeable. No one asks me what that’s about though. I’m glad because...

 

I don’t know how I got it. Whenever I touch it, I get strange feelings of pain. Not like the pain I feel when my body aches, but a strange itching pain. It’s weird, but just about everything about me is weird.

 

I hear Tsuburaba talking across the locker room with Rin. Tsuburaba is (not so subtly) talking about the girls in our class. Oh boy, I had a feeling he was like this. Rin though, he’s just nodding and humming. That’s the kind of reaction where someone doesn’t know what to say nor do.

 

Awase and I coincidentally walk over to those two. I have my katana at my side, away from everyone for safety. Behind Rin and Tsuburaba, Shishida is rolling his eyes at Tsuburaba’s pervy comments. I can’t blame him. Shishida seems like he’s a dignified and a respectful man. (Well, I’m not saying that Tsubuaraba isn’t that himself, but… He… And...) Anyway! I’m listening in on their conversation, where Awase just joined in.

 

“Hey Tsuburaba! Who’re you talking about?” Awase leans against a random locker with his arms crossed. He has a grin on his face.

Tsuburaba smiles back at Awase. “Well, just the girls. Just from one day, I can tell that they’re really something. There’s definitely no shortage of beauty in 1-B.” Rin removes himself from the conversation, standing right next to me. I’m simply standing here with my katana. I mean, it’s not like I’m close friends with three of the beauties.

 

“I know man! We’re lucky as hell.” Awase nudges Tsubaraba’s arm, trying to insinuate something perverted I guess. Rin and I, we’re just standing here with a flat look on our faces. Just standing here like nothing’s happening.

 

Rin nudges me though, taking us both out of their conversation. “Hey Inochi, can I see your katana?” He looks like he knows a lot about blacksmithery, so might as well. I hand him my katana, letting him study it.

 

He has a bright smile on his face. His hands carefully drift over the blade like he can tell its story just from the touch. “I always had a fascination about these. Not like those anime fans, but a real one. Can I ask who made this?”

 

“It was actually made by Master Kendo’s daughter, Kendo’s mom. She’s a blacksmith among other things.” I answer Rin. He gives my katana back to me with a smile.

 

“Guess we’re both fascinated with weapons huh? Can you really use everything you got in your locker?” Rin gestures towards my larger locker. There’s small holes where someone can barely see the metal glim of my weapons.

 

“Most of them. I’m also pretty well-versed in range weapons too like archery.” Rin raises his eyebrow like he’s impressed.

 

“Really? If you ask me, you’re like an authentic samurai.” Rin crosses his arms and smiles. I go to answer, but I hear Awase and Tsuburaba’s… comments.

 

“Look Awase, even though Tokage has a modest bust, she still has those curves!” Tsubaraba says to Awase. Are these two really arguing? How long have Rin and I been talking? It hasn’t been that long right? From what Tsubaraba’s saying, I think they’re arguing on which girl is better. Who’s the other girl though?

 

(Also, the irony I’m feeling is oddly satisfying…)

 

“I know, but Kodai man! She’s cuter than Tokage with a bigger bust! That and her teeth aren’t pointy like Tetsutetsu’s.” (“I heard that!” Tetsutetsu says in the background.) Awase slams his fists together to emphasize his point. Rin looks at me and immediately steps back. My grip around my katana tightens slightly.

 

“Sure Awase, but you wouldn’t be able to sleep with her.” Tsubaraba throws some insults towards Awase. They talk and argue like they’re old friends, which I don’t doubt. Still though, I live with Kendo for crying out loud!

“Then why the hell are you dreaming about a good night with Tokage?!” Awase exclaims, getting a bit louder than he needed to be. Everyone starts to listen in and subsequently get a little disgusted. My grip on my katana loosens though. Even though these two are making perverted comments, they’re here for a reason like all of us: To be a Pro Hero. They’re good men, with a big emphasis on “men.”

 

“Seriously?” Tsubaraba turns and sees me. He has a smile on his face like he’s ignoring the fact that I’m carrying a sharp and dangerous weapon, or maybe he knows that he could be sliced open (even though I won’t do that), so he’s trying to remain calm. “Oh, hey Inochi! What… Uh… What did you hear?”

 

“Mostly everything,” I answer Tsubaraba, turning my attention to Awase. He adjusts his headband with a bright smile like he’s trying to calm me down. I’m already calm, but he doesn’t seem to get the memo.

 

Awase apologizes, “S-Sorry man. I didn’t realize you’re there, being Kendo’s boyfriend and all…” Tokage must have started some rumors. Heh, maybe she was the one who started the rumor that I was a delinquent back in middle school. What’s done is done though.

 

“I’m not Kendo’s boyfriend. We’re just friends, Awase.” My answer I gave him leads to him having a confused expression, like I’m crazy or something.

 

“Really? Dude, you’re living with one of the sexi-”

I clear my throat, interrupting Awase before he gets the chance to make an unnecessary comment. He stops himself, thinks for a second, and continues. “You’re living with a beautiful woman. Why didn’t you two.... You know?” He makes a weird gesture with his hands.

 

God, I’m getting uncomfortable in this situation. I’m in an awkward place here with my feelings, since I don’t understand them myself. It’s not that I have a crush on Kendo, but I don’t feel… How do I put this? In middle school, I seen a lot of couples and some people making perverted (much more than what Awase and Tsubaraba are making by far) comments.

 

What they feel, I don’t feel. I mean, I can recognize if a man or a woman is attractive, but that’s it. My heart doesn’t beat the same rhythm of romance. I guess that’s what I’m trying to put into words.

 

But, who says I don’t feel love? I feel love everyday. The kind of love with my friends. I really hope I don’t take it for granted, because I never felt it before I came to Musutafu. Heck, I think I’ll make even more friends in U.A. I’m already friends with some of the guys here, like Tetsutetsu and Manga. At least I don’t have to worry about relationships, since I’m not going to be in one any time soon.

 

Awase suddenly nudges me by poking my shoulder. “Earth to Inochi, are you here dude?” Oh crap, have I been spacing out again?! Crap, I taught myself to focus (which is why I haven’t been caught daydreaming much), but I guess it didn’t work now.

 

“Yeah! Sorry, I’m here now.” I give a little smile to Awase. I should explain it to him, so I say, “Well, I-”

 

“Boys! It’s time to get out!” Mister Kan yells through the door. Never mind then! Awase lets out a disappointed sigh as we leave our locker rooms.

 

I nudge his shoulder on the way out. “Awase, I won’t tell the girls what you said. I can’t say the same for everyone else though, so good luck.” I pat his back, knowing exactly what Kendo will do if/when she finds out.

 

“Thanks man! And between you and me, what’s… Uh… What’ll Kendo do to me?” Awase asks me with a hint of fear and hesitation in his voice. He has no idea of Kendo’s angry side. The last time she got angry was at a bully in middle school. She would have broken some bones if I didn’t step in.

 

I give him a supportive smile. “Let’s say you’ll need Recovery Girl.” Awase looks at me and gulps. He can see the stories in my eyes.

 

We meet up with the girls. Awase specifically kept his eye off of Kendo and Tsubaraba too, who follows suit. Now, who am I going to fight against? If it’s someone like Shiozaki, Bondo, Honenuki, maybe even Yanagi, the match is an instant loss. They can disable me before I even reach them. I know that Kendo will beat me in hand-to-hand combat, so that’s a loss too. When I think about it, a lot of people here have really good Quirks, and then there’s me.

 

Yeeeeeah, this is going to be fun.

 

***

 

The entire class lines up outside the school, in what I presume to be a training field. Mister Kan stands before all of us going over the rules of the fighting portion of the test.

 

“Do not seriously harm your classmates. If you’re on the ground for more than three seconds, you lose. If you step outside the ring, you lose. That’s it,” Mister Kan explains to us quite simply. Those are simple, yet effective rules. Anything else is allowed. After that, Mister Kan shows us a screen that shows all the match-ups.


Shishida VS. Pony

Honenuki VS. Awase

Kuroiro VS. Manga

Kendo VS. Kodai (Best friends are fighting. Well, my nightmare just came true.)

Tetsutetsu VS. Monoma VS. Tsubaraba

Bondo VS. Shoda

Shiozaki VS. Tokage

Yanagi VS. Komori

Rin VS. Kaibara

Me VS. Kamakiri

 

I’m the last fight? With Kamakiri? What was his Quirk again? Razor Sharp, that’s it. He can produce blades all over his body. It’ll be a fight of swordsmanship! Now this, this is a fight I can win! I have confidence in my abilities. The only thing I have to worry about is Kamakiri’s own abilities, so I will have to improvise and adapt accordingly.

 

Anyway, it’s time to watch the spars.

***

 

Shishida and Pony. Shishida takes off his glasses and starts the fight in his Beast form. (Shiozaki lets out a small gasp, “The Beast of Revelation.”) He tries to strike at Pony, but like her name, she moves like a horse. She fires her horns at Shishida, trying to push him out of the ring. He inches forward, but it’s not enough. Shishida is too much of a giant to be moved back. Pony brings her horns back, but Shishida grabs Pony and reverts back to his human form. He gently puts Pony behind the line. Thank God that Shishida was gentle with her.

 

Honenuki and Awase. Awase suddenly gets, welds, then throws metal and wooden objects at him with precision. However, Honenuki softens the ground and goes under all of the projectiles. He disappears into the ground with Awase clueless. Suddenly, Honenuki appears from the ground besides him. Awase barely has the chance to weld his feet to the ground before Honenuki tries to push him. Awase laughs, but suddenly starts to sink from Honenuki’s Quirk. Mister Kan calls the match there, giving the win to Honenuki.

 

Kuroiro and Manga. Manga clears his throat before sending Kuroiro with a “WAPOW!” His comic bubble flies towards Kuroiro who… He jumps at it? Willingly going into attacks is an odd strateg-Aha! He merges into Manga’s comic bubble. The bubble has black characters and outlining, so he’s using his Quirk in it! Kuroiro reverses Manga’s bubble back at him. Manga gets hit and flies out of the ring, groaning in pain. I’m sorry, Manga.

 

Oh boy, Kendo and Kodai. I don’t know who to root for. My two friends share a word of kindness before fighting. It seems Kodai’s starting the battle first. She grabs a bolt from her bag and throws it at Kendo. She presses her fingers together, enlarging the bolt. Kendo barely dodges out of the way and dashes up to Kodai. She grabs Kodai by her left arm. I hear Kendo mutter that she’s sorry before gently pushing Kodai out of the ring. Kendo gives Kodai a big hug as a sign of their friendship. Their friendship is saved!

 

Tetsutetsu, Monoma, and Tsuburaba. Monoma hits Tsuburaba’s back, copying his Quirk. They decide to team up against Tetsutetsu and blow an air wall in front of them. It doesn’t do anything though as Tetsutetsu punches through the wall in his Steel form. He charges at Monoma and Tsuburaba, tackling both of them out of the ring. Monoma gets up and laughs as if he was expecting this. Tsubaraba only groans and leaves without a word.

 

Bondo and Shoda. Before Shoda could do anything, Bondo quickly stammers, “S-Sorry!” before he sprays a large puddle of Cedemine on Shoda’s legs. It quickly dries, trapping Shoda in place. Shoda simply nods and says that he had a good match.

 

Shiozaki and Tokage. If anyone could be Shiozaki’s counter, it would be Tokage. Shiozaki does a quick prayer before the fight starts. Once Mister Kan blows his whistle, Tokage splits her body at her limbs, levitating them. Shiozaki sends her Vines to capture Tokage’s floating limbs, but they’re too fast and small for her. Tokage uses her disembodied limbs to slowly push Shiozaki out of bounds. Just as I figured. Even though Tokage has a seemingly weak Quirk for combat, she used what she got to win. That’s my queen.

 

Yanagi and Komori. It starts with Yanagi immediately lifting Komori with her Quirk. Komori shrieks and tries to move away, but to no avail. Yanagi puts Komori out of the line, winning the fight. I’m not surprised. Yanagi is perfect for a fight like this.

 

Alright, Rin and Kaibara. After this, it’s my match. The calm Kaibara I’m familiar with disappears. Instead, this Kaibara has a sinister smile on his face. Rin forms an armor with his Scales across his entire body. Suddenly, Kaibara’s entire body spins around at high speeds. He rushes in with a maniacal laugh. Before Rin reacts, Kaibara’s hand goes straight through his armor and hits his chest. Rin falls to the ground with Kaibara on top of him. Three seconds past with Rin on the ground. Kaibara is the winner! He bends down and hits Rin on the chest again, who suddenly sits up. Did… Did Kaibara hit Rin’s heart or something?! God, Kaibara’s scarier than I thought.

 

Let’s hope Kamakiri and I have a good (and hopefully not a heart breaking) match.

 

***

Mister Kan calls us to the ring. I stand at my side of the ring with my katana in my hand. Kamakiri stands at the other side with his arms crossed. He isn’t using his Quirk yet, that’s smart. If he grew his blades now, then I could predict his reach. Still, he can control the length of his blades right? If I were him, I would constantly change it to keep me on guard.

 

I hear Tokage cheering me on. In fact, Awase and Tetsutetsu are cheering me on too. I made some quick friends eh? Kamakiri just rolls his eyes and taps his feet. Something about him though. It feels like I’m missing something.

 

I heard Kamakiri’s surname before, but I can’t figure out where. That’s the thing I’m trying to figure out. It could be really important to this fight. Hmm, so far, he’s been really distant from everyone. From when he does speak, it’s vulgar. He speaks in an accent too. In the locker room, Kamakiri isn’t like Awase and Tsubaraba… Dang, I still can’t figure it ou-

 

“Ey Quirkless, stop starin’ at me like that.” His voice grabs my attention back from my mind. Well then, he’s just called me, “Quirkless.” That must be a ploy to rile me up, but I don’t have anything to prove. I’m here just for the same reason he is: To be a Pro Hero.

 

“Sorry, let’s have a good fight.” I apologize as I get ready. I stand with my feet apart and my katana out in the proper form. It’s not like a thousand years ago where they didn’t have Quirks. Master Kendo tells me that fighting nowadays is pretty similar to the animes on TV (he’s assuming that I watch a lot of TV, let alone anime). So, I can’t rely on old techniques here.

 

Kamakiri huffs before Mister Kan blows the whistle, signalling that the match has started. Alright, I’ll be on guard. There’s no good charging in with Kamakiri hiding his Quirk like that. He has something up his sleeve.

 

Kamakiri starts to walk along the outside edge. I mirror his movement, making sure he’s far away from me. We circle each other for a few seconds. My eyes briefly look down at my feet, seeing how close I am to the ed-!

 

RIIIIP!

 

The sound of clothes tearing forces my eyes back at Kamakiri. On his right forearm, a long slander, green blade is formed. It’s sharp on one end to a point. His gym uniform’s sleeve is completely torn as a result of his Quirk. Within an instant, he dashes with his blue and white uniform blurring in my vision. Holy crap, he’s fast! I pull my katana closer and-!

 

Kamakiri appears in front of me with his right arm back. He thrusts it forward towards my face. I’m barely able to deflect it to the left side of my head, pushing it away from harm. I parry his blade back and quickly dart deeper into the ring while I have the chance. Even though Kamakiri’s on the edge with me, it’s way too risky to fight. Any wrong movement will end in failure, so I’d rather have a small room for it.

 

Kamakiri chuckles before he turns around to face me. He’s on the edge. If I charge now, I’ll lose. He shown me that he’s agile enough to cover a short distance within an eyeblink, so what’s stopping him from dodging and using my momentum against myself? This was a bit harder than I anticipated, but I can handle this.

 

Kamakiri’s body shifts slightly forward. This is it! He’s going to attack! I was barely able to parry him the first time around. Let’s-!

 

Before I finish thinking, he runs up with breakneck speeds. I slash at him diagonally, going from the top right to bottom left. It’s just as fast as Kamakiri’s running speed.

 

CLING!

 

The sound of our blades clash together. Kamakiri suddenly materializes in front of me with his teeth gritting. His right arm is pressed right against my katana. His feet are apart, so that’s one possible way to get him on the ground. From the look on his face, my attack was unexpected. Good on me.

 

“You ain’t so bad,” Kamakiri says during our grapple together. His gritted teeth turns into a cocky smile. He’s getting confident, so he’s preparing something.

 

“Thank you, you’re a good fighter.” I genuinely compliment him. Kamakiri rolls his eyes like I’m saying it sarcastically. Sorry, I’m not that kind of person. I should disengage. There’s a lot of ways where Kamakiri can have the upper hand here, so taking a chance isn’t a viable option here.

 

I quickly take a hop backwards, a little bit closer to Kamakiri’s side of the ring, closer to the edge. Kamakiri’s mandibles twist slightly as if he’s disappointed. I move my fingers around the wrapped hilt of my katan-

 

CLING!

 

I shouldn’t have done that!!! Kamakiri immediately runs in with his right blade. He clashes with mine, knocking it out of my hands and into the air. The thing is: He’s wide open. He can’t defend himself fast enough! I bring my right hand back and punch the center of his chest. Right as I hit him, I open my hand to push him back. I hear him grunting in pain as he stumbles into the center of the ring again.

 

I look up at the air, seeing my tumbling katana. The sun hits the blade at an angle, gleaming brightly. In front of me, Kamakiri recovers from my punch. I have to catch it now! I jump up and grab the katana with my right hand. I land on my feet with my back turned to Kamakiri. This isn’t a favorable position, but-

 

CLING!

 

But, I knew I would block his attack without looking at him. I moved my katana behind me right after I landed, just after he would dash towards me. I hear my classmates and friends sharing the same sounds of awe. My head turns slightly to face Kamakiri, whose face is getting redder. He moves his left foot back. Kamakiri looks angry, so he’s going to act on impulse now.

 

“You son of a bitch!” Kamakiri yells at me. Right as when his left foot starts to move, I immediately duck where my knees almost hit my chest with my katana low. His foot grows another blade as it tears through the sole of his shoe. It goes barely over my head with some bits of my hair being cut. Kamakiri’s standing on one leg now, so this is it!

 

I can’t attack him with my katana or else he’ll end up with one leg, so I spring my legs up and shoulder bash him. Kamakiri falls to the ground with his back hitting the ground first. He jumps up on both feet, wiping the dust off of his tattered clothes. He stands himself where he’s completely balanced with his arms down.

 

Kamakiri retracts the blade on his foot, as he doesn’t need it anymore. He starts to move his left hand to wipe the now-apparent blood off of his mouth (I’m sorry). He’s at the edge of the circle, so this is my chance! Before Kamakiri has a chance to react, I dash forward with my katana at the left side of my head, telegraphing a thrust.

 

That’s not what I’m doing though! Kamakiri sees me coming and prepares to dodge, but at the last moment, I bring my blade down and slash horizontally. It would be fatal if it hit, but it didn’t. I expected Kamakiri to dodge at the last second, and he did. The thing is, he leaped backwards right out of bounds.

 

Kamakiri doesn’t realize it yet. He takes a step forward right as Mister Kan blows his whistle. “Inochi is the winner!” Kamakiri’s mouth go wide until he looks at his feet, realizing that he went out of bounds. He lets out an angry huff and moves his hand across his spiky, green hair.

 

I have to hand it to Kamakiri. His speed kept me on guard for a lot of the fight. From a glance, his body seems to be suited for it. His Quirk use is pretty creative too. He used his blades with his kicks. I wonder what else he could do? Maybe something where he defends himself by suddenly having blades stick out from every part of his body.

 

I spin my katana around my hand again, putting it in a backhand position. I approach Kamakiri with my other hand out. “That was a good fight, Kamakiri. Your speed really kept me on guard.”

 

Kamakiri looks at my hand before looking away. He simply scoffs and walks back to the class, leaning against the wall away from everyone. No one really looks at his direction except for Pony.

 

I walk back as well, sitting next to Kendo. “Good job Inochi! I knew you’d win.” She high-fives me with a bright smile. My attention is on Kamakiri though. He must feel some bit of shame for losing to me, especially in a humiliating way. I should talk to him, but I’m the last person he wants to see. I should leave him be.

 

Pony though, she gets up and runs over to Kamakiri. She starts to talk to him, but Kamakiri doesn’t seem to be listening to her. Though, his mouth moves and Pony takes a step back. He seems to be pushing Pony away, but she isn’t having that. She keeps talking to him despite whatever he said.

 

Well, that’s nice.

 

I turn back to Kendo and sigh. “Yeah, all that training paid off.” I move my shoulders around, stretching the pain out of them. Dang, I totally ignored the pain during that fight. My body aches like an old man.

 

“Well, did it prepare you for the rescue part?” Kendo asks me, knowing full-well the answer. We both trained in fighting, not rescuing.

 

“Not at all. We won’t do so hot, Kendo,” I tell her, resting my katana back in its sheath. Maybe I should I brought that too within my spar with Kamakiri, but I won anyway. There’s no need to worry about that now.

 

What I need to worry is the rescue portion. I am terrible at rescuing. That’s why my hero costume will have something special: A grappling hook. Hayami designed it as a metal bracer on my left arm. I can yank stuff to me and get yanked. I’m also looking into using it in battle as a capturing weapon like Shiozaki.

 

Mister Kan tells all of us to get up after my short conversation with Kendo (and me daydreaming about my future equipment). He motions us to follow him, and so we do. We follow him to Ground Beta within campus. It’s the same location as the Entrance Exam, but there’s no robots this time around.

 

Inside Ground Beta is a lot of colored balls. We go inside with Mister Kan giving each of us a leather bag. Why do we nee-Oh, there’s balls. There’s a lot of colored balls all over Ground Beta. I can see red ones, green, and blue ones. I see the red ones the most, followed by the greens, and the blues. This is our rescue test? This seems pretty weird…

Mister Kan clears his throat, gesturing that he’ll start the explanation.

 

“As you can see, there’s different colored balls all over Ground Beta, each color being worth different points. Red is worth one, green is worth two, and blue is worth three. Your job is to collect the most points as possible within ten minutes. I’ll be ranking you based on your points, and that’ll be your grade. Good luck.” He steps back right besides Recovery Girl, who’s on standby. All of us approach a white line, waiting for Mister Kan to give the signal.

 

When I think about it, this test is more about agility and being the fastest. The fastest and being the most effective. Logically, going for the blue balls is the most profitable choice. If I tie this in to a real life rescue situation, the most profitable choice isn’t going for the most valuable civilians. Rather, it’s saving everyone regardless of status. What’s going on here?

I look at my friends and classmates (practically the same thing now). They don’t seem like they’re questioning it. In fact, some of them are smiling (like Tokage). From what I thought, they’ll go for the blue balls. They’ll leave the red balls (and maybe the green balls) alone.

 

Ah, wait a second! Other than me, Shiozaki seems concerned. She must have the same thoughts going through my head too. What is she going to do about them? Knowing her, she’ll try to save every ball there.

 

I turn around slightly to look at Mister Kan, who has an indifferent look on his face. I turn back to Ground Beta. Alright, even though this test seems fishy, it’s still a test. I know I won’t win because I’m not suited for rescuing. Like Shiozaki, I’m saving every ball I see. That’s what rescuing means.

 

“Get ready!” Mister Kan yells. I move my right foot forward, looking around at the nearest ball. There’s some to the building to my right. All I see is red balls, so might as well.

 

“Get set!” Everyone else gets ready to run. That building is my target. There’s also a window that can lead me straight inside. Let’s be an action hero! I heard that’s what they do: Crashing through windows.

 

“Go!” Mister Kan blows his whistle. Everyone runs, including me. I’m not going to pay attention to everyone else. I have to focus on me even though that’s selfish beyond imagination.

 

In front of me is a concrete barrier. I dash towards it and put my hand on the edge, leaping over it with my legs soaring over it. I land on my feet, dashing towards my destination. There’s the window again. You know, I could go through the front door, but that’ll waste time. I have to go through that window. Let’s hope it’s sugar glass!

 

CRASH!

 

It. Was. Not. Sugar. Glass. My entire body hurts now… I think there’s some shards in me. So much for not getting injured… Why U.A., did you have to make real glass? I shakily get up, looking around for the balls.

 

Only red balls here. Five of them to be exact. Alright, better than having no balls. I quickly gather them and stuff them in my bag. There’s stairs that aren’t blocked, so there must be more up there.

 

I run up the stairs, skipping two steps at a time. Up here is more red balls. I suspected this. The easiest to get would be worth the least. Stairs are hardly considered a challenge. On this floor is the same thing as the last. Four red balls this time. Nine points so far! Let’s go up once again.

 

It’s the same thing as before. In fact, all the floors are like this: Going upstairs, getting only red balls, repeat five more times. I count about thirty balls total, so thirty points. I arrive at the rooftop where, once again, it’s just red balls. There’s only three here, so I grab them. Thirty-three points and that’s it for this building.

 

How’s everyone else? I approach the ledge, leaning over slightly over everyone. I’m pretty high up here. It never ceases to amaze me that U.A. could build this and including more! From afar, I see Tokage’s floating limbs collecting blue balls from hard-to-reach places. And Pony, holy crap Pony! She’s riding on her horns! They can carry a person like that? That’s good to know, and incredibly useful too.

 

It’s enough sightseeing though, it’s time to go back. I go back down the building, to the ground floor. It was a lot of walking down stairs without trying to fall to my doom. My legs are killing me. Not because of how many stairs, but from shards of glass that’re in it.

 

“Four minutes left!” Mister Kan yells. Crap, I really took six minutes on that building alone? That sucks, but I’m going to get last place either way. I don’t have high hopes for this.

 

I walk out to the street and-Holy crap! It’s littered with red balls. There’s some empty gaps here and there, but still… There’s so many red balls here that I didn’t even see them before. My classmates are seriously treating this as a competition, not a training exercise.

 

I pick up a red ball, touching its soft, squishy material. Imagine if this had a face on it, then it would be a person. All these balls would be people that was ignored, because everyone else went for people that are “worth more.” This is definitely a trick. Mister Kan is testing us on our values, not our ability.

 

I gather about ten more red balls before Mister Kan calls the test there. I have forty-three points total. Knowing this is a trick, I don’t feel bad whatsoever. Everyone else though, they’re going to feel a lot of shame once Mister Kan reveals it to them.

 

I’m the first one to arrive. Recovery Girl sees my condition and shakes her head. She puts a kiss on my hand, healing my body back to brand new. She mutters that I’m “a troublesome man like Sasaki” before walking away. Dang, what went on between these two?

 

Anyway, Mister Kan asks me to put my balls in a machine. I do so and it quickly goes through my balls, tallying up my points. Yup, it says forty-three. I counted right! I swore I miscounted a few here and there. This proves I’m not completely useless at math.

 

We both wait for everyone else to come and count their points. The lowest score (other than mine) is Monoma with fifty. Tokage comes in first place with a whopping two hundred points! Holy crap, how many balls were out there? If she only got the blue balls, then that’s almost seventy balls right there!

 

(I’m glad that this test didn’t have any surprises. God, I’m having a bad day if another building falls down on me.)

Mister Kan begins to call off the leaderboards, starting with first place:

 

1st - Setsuna Tokage

2nd - Reiko Yanagi

3rd - Pony Tsunotori

4th - Juzo Honenuki

5th - Ibara Shiozaki

6th - Sen Kaibara

7th - Jurota Shishida

8th -  Shihai Kuroino

9th - Yui Kodai

10th - Itsuka Kendo

11th - Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu

12th - Yosetsu Awase

13th - Kojiro Bondo

14th - Togaru Kamakiri

15th - Hiryu Rin

16th - Nirengeki Shoda

17th - Kosei Tsuburaba

18th - Kinoko Komori

19th - Manga Fukidashi

20th - Neito Monoma

21th - Sanji Inochi (That’s me!)

 

Once I’m revealed to be in last place, there’s sympathetic eyes falling upon me. It’s a bit ironic, considering I’m certain that this test is nothing more than a ruse. Kendo walks besides me with a small smile. “Sorry Inochi.”

I shrug my shoulders, crossing my arms. “You didn’t catch on?” I hint at the irregularities of our “test.” Kendo raises her eyebrows like she’s confused.

 

“What do you mean?” Kendo asks me before Mister Kan tells everyone to shut up and listen. We gather around him, who’s standing right next to the leaderboards. He looks at it before turning to us. There’s a stern look on his face as if he’s saying, “I’m disappointed.”

 

Mister Kan stares at all of us before saying, “How many of you only went after the balls worth the most points?” That’s it. The moment he said that, it revealed the true purpose of this test. Kendo’s eyes go wide open, realizing it too.


Reluctantly, almost everyone in the class raises their hand. The atmosphere, that was once everyone gloating how much points they got, turns into dread. The only people who didn’t raise their hands are Shiozaki and myself.

 

“Shiozaki and Inochi, explain to me why you didn’t raise your hands,” Mister Kan asks the both of us. I look at Shiozaki, seeing if she wants explain first. She gives me a small nod before stepping forward.

 

“This test is deceitful. It does not judge us on saving lost souls. Rather, it judges us on our insatiable greed. Some here are driven by pride to win at any costs,” Shiozaki explains to us with her religious wording. Still though, she got fifth place of all things! I have a feeling she’s one of the most powerful students in the class, maybe in all of U.A.!

 

Shiozaki shoots a glare to Tokage. Tokage though, she looked worried at the results, but she changes her expression within an instant. She turns to Shiozaki and winks. I have a feeling she likes Shiozaki, but that expression though from before though...

 

Anyway, it’s my turn to talk. I’ll ask Tokage later. “Going off with what Shiozaki said, the balls were valued differently on purpose. If these balls were real people, everyone picked and chose who they wanted to save. This isn’t a test about rescuing, but a test to stomp out unbecoming traits.”

 

Mister Kan smiles at the both of us. He opens his mouth, but I step forward. This test though, even though it’s a trick, it doesn’t make sense! All of us would save people regardless of status! They didn’t make the comparison of balls to people because it’s a frankly stupid thing to think about. I shouldn’t be questioning him, but it needs to be said!

 

“Mister Kan,” I interrupt him before he even speaks, “you know that everyone here would save real people if it came to it. We wouldn’t care about someone’s status, so why did you make this test in the first place?” Mister Kan’s eyes go a bit wide before shaking his head.

 

“Good question, Inochi. The thing is: One of my previous students did exactly this. He saved people based on their worth. One day, there was a rich man who were caught in a fire. Rather than saving everyone he came across, he ran right past them. It costed ten lives. Three of them were elementary school children, two were high school students your age, and the rest were adults. They all burned in the fire, so my student is in prison for the rest of his life. That’s why I gave this test, so you wouldn’t end up like him.”

 

Everyone goes silent after Mister Kan recounts the story. Even though I don’t know most of my classmates well, I know they’re vowing, we’re vowing, to not be like him. Even though Mister Kan didn’t say a single word, there’s shame covering his entire body. His student is like Mister Kan’s shadow, taunting him.

 

Mister Kan breaks the silence with a sigh. “I believe all of you have what it takes to be a real Pro Hero. A real potential. Don’t lose it.” He walks towards us, formed in a straight line. Awase and Yanagi steps aside to let him through as we all walk back to class in respectful silence.



Along the way, Shiozaki slowly moves besides me. She has her hands pressed together in a prayer. She’s muttering something about how the dead will find their peace, and Mister Kan’s student too. After her prayer, her eyes look above at mine.

 

“Hello Inochi, you saw through the deceit didn’t you? Even though the deceit was well-meaninged…” Her voice goes quiet at the last part. Yeah, the lie was for a good reason. Much like every time I lied.

 

“I did. Say, Shiozaki. I’m wondering: What do you think of everyone else?” Shiozaki mentioned a few sins from the deadly seven. She must think that our classmates are “sinful.” She’s not wrong, but…

 

“They have their sins. Every one of them.” Uhm, her voice got a bit more hostile than before. She must trust me though. If it was any other “sinner,” then she might not have mentioned it. To me though? She must believe I don’t have sin myself, which is incredibly wrong.

 

I reply back to Shiozaki, despite the fear rising in my chest, “Y-Yeah, but do you wonder why?” Shiozaki looks at me a bit confused.

 

“What do you mean?” she asks me like she hasn’t asked that question to herself. Well, maybe I can share my knowledge on the subject.

 

“Well, imagine it as this: A man was poor growing up, but he came into a lot of money in a single instant. He’s happy, but he’s incredibly wasteful with it. Thus, he’s greedy, but who can blame him? He had a hard life.” I hope Shiozaki understands what I’m trying to say here. I’d rather not tell her outright, but to let her figure it out on her own.

 

“Ah, so you’re saying that it’s unfair to judge a person by their sins, because I don’t know their life?” Shiozaki got what I was trying to say. Good, because if she didn’t… I may end up wrapped in her vines. She accidentally dislocated my shoulder last time she did that when she pulled me away from that falling building.

 

“Mhm, that’s how I see things anyway.” I light-heartedly shrug my shoulders, pretending to not be afraid (and ignoring that I stuttered earlier). Shiozaki looks at me before a light smile forms.

 

“You’re a wise man aren’t you?” she asks me, believing that I’m wise. Heh, it’s a nice compliment, but I’m not wise. I’m only fifteen after all. (Almost sixteen actually. My birthday is in three months.)

 

“I wouldn’t say that,” I say, awkwardly scratching the back of my head. Shiozaki lets out a soft chuckle.

 

“Modest too, much like my father. He’s the pastor at his church. Why don’t you join me one of these Sundays?”” Shiozaki… Uhm, she just invited me to church already. Just like that… What does she see in me? I don’t know how I feel about this, and I’m very afraid. I have to accept her invitation don’t I?

 

“Just tell me when,” I say, accepting her invitation. And so, we go back to class. I’m pretty satisfied with this test. Now, it’s time to go to All Might’s class. The best Pro Hero in the world, is teaching us. It seems so surreal...

 

***

 

I had to smile throughout All Might’s class. After all, he’s the one who taught me how to smile this way. He’s the reason why I wanted to be a Pro Hero. I have a feeling that a lot of my classmates are the same. All Might is just that influential.

 

He detailed our first test, calling it our “Battle Trial,” which involves both fighting and rescuing. Everyone will be paired off (one team will have three) and be forced to battle each other. One team is the Pro Heroes, and the other being the Villains.

 

The Pro Heroes are tasked with defeating the Villains and/or rescuing their hostages. If they do that, then they win. In order for the Villains to win, they have to defeat the Pro Heroes and/or defend their hostages. They automatically win when time runs out. Our hostages though, are just training dummies with weird faces on them.

 

(We’ll also get our hero costumes by then, which I’m excited and embarrassed about. I don’t think mine looks good whatsoever.)

 

Compared to Class 1-A, our version of the Battle Trial is different. The Villains there had a “payload” to defend, while our class have to defend hostages. All Might also talked about 1-A and how excited he is about their own Battle Trial. I knew it had to be something about Midoriya.

 

I remember that I saw a video of him defeating that zero-pointer back at the Entrance Exam. His Quirk is really similar to All Might’s with all the powerful punches and all. Midoriya’s though, I think his arm and legs were broken from it. I have a feeling that him and All Might are connected in some way.

 

For my Battle Trial, I want to do my best, but I can’t.

 

There’s a more pressing issue: Kendo and Tokage. They are still on bitter terms even after the fact that we’re in U.A. together. Kendo’s been avoiding her, while Tokage doesn’t want to mess with her even more. I have to do something about it, which I quickly concocted a plan while All Might was explaining the test.

 

I call it: Operation Dragon Fist!

 

This is the operation where I get Kendo and Tokage to be friends! Kodai and I know that Tokage only wants to be Kendo’s friend, so I’ll have to push them together from behind the scenes. If I tell Kendo outright, then I fear that I won’t get the same results than her realizing it on her own. However, I need All Might’s help for this. God, I’m nervous to even talk to him, but it’s for a good cause!

 

The bell rings, signaling that school has ended. I tell Kendo that I’ll see her at home, which she raises an eyebrow. She’s surprisingly okay with it, so she goes ahead without me. Let’s hope I can talk to Tokage (and maybe Kodai) about this after school. For now, I have to talk to All Might.

 

I walk up to his desk with my leg fidgeting a little. He’s gigantic, twice as big as Bondo probably! He’s wearing a beige suit that surprisingly fits him well. All Might has his signature smile, using it on me.

 

“Young Inochi,” he starts off in his deep, but mighty voice before continuing, “do you need something? You were writing in your notebook earlier.” All Might gestures towards my notebook, which I’m using it for Operation Dragon Fist and future operations.

 

“Yes, Mister All Might. It’s about the Battle Trials. I actually wanted to ask you if Kendo and Tokage could be on the same team? Specifically, a Hero team. For me, I want to be on the Villain team against them.” I lay out my demands, trying to be respectful as I possibly can.

 

All Might looks at me for a second or so. It’s officially the longest and scariest second of my life. He tilts his head slightly before asking me, “Really? May I ask why?” He’s asking if he could ask me?! I’m not worthy to be asked, but I nod my head.

 

“If you didn’t notice, Kendo and Tokage stayed away from each other. So, if they were on the same team, they would-” All Might suddenly interrupts me.

“They would become allies! You would sacrifice your chance to win in order for them to become friends?” All Might asks me another question. I nod my head again with a hum. My hands are together, sweating slightly.

 

“It’s the least I could do. They, including Kodai, helped me a lot last year, when I came to Musutafu. Do you know about my situation?” I ask All Might, delving into my past a little. It’s… Something. Something that, when I look back on, makes me tear up a little.

 

All Might nods, standing up from his desk. “I do, so I’ll grant you your wishes! I’ll make Kodai be on your team, young Inochi.” He puts a hand on my shoulder like he’s proud of me. Wait, he is proud of me. I’m so glad…

 

My lips turn upwards into my smile that’s just like All Might. “Thank you, Mister All Might.” He pats my shoulder, which shoots pain down from my arm and back. It’s sore from training, just like my entire body. I don’t care though. It’s the pain I’m willing to have.

 

“You’re welcome. When you go home, greet your mentor for me. He’s an old friend of my own back in the day,” he tells me, taking a step back and look at his chalkboard/TV screen. “You know, young Inochi… She would do something like this.”

 

I blush slightly from All Might’s compliment. To think I’m like his mentor, the woman who raised this behemoth of a man to be the best Pro Hero… But, Master Kendo knew her? To think I would be connected to him like this, even though it’s only second-hand… Still, it’s not like I’m related to her or anything. 

 

“Well, Mister All Might, you taught me to smile that way. You must have heard this a lot, but you’re the reason why I wanted to be a Pro Hero.” I stare at his strong back. His head slightly turns around, letting me see a part of his pearly white teeth.


“I’m glad, Young Inochi. Now, you should tell this plan to Tokage and Kodai shouldn’t you?” My body jumps up slightly because I completely forgot about them! Right, I have to talk to them (at least Tokage) before they leave!

 

“Thank you, Mister All Might! I’ll see you tomorrow!” I say goodbye, practically running out the door.

 

I leave the building. Right outside the U.A. Barrier is Tokage, who’s patiently waiting for something! Great! I didn’t miss her! (When I think back on it… Yesterday, she left quickly into a luxurious car. She was in a hurry, so let’s hope I have enough time to talk to her!)

 

~~~

Setsuna Tokage

“Hey, isn’t it one of the most beautiful women in U.A.?” Inochi calls out to me. Heh, I needed someone to cheer up my day. Ironically, it had to be the one person who completely passed Kan’s test. I turn around to face Inochi, hiding the impending doom on my face with a cocky smile.

 

“Why, it’s a handsome and charming man! I’d thought you’d be with Kendo and Kodai.” Inochi’s mouth moves like he’s sighing to himself. Oh, he missed Kendo doesn’t he? “Aw, you can’t go one second without Kendo.”

 

Inochi puts a hand on his hip. “Haha, very funny. I’m not the woman who’s glancing at Shiozaki here.” Aw really? He found out my little crush on Shiozaki. It’s just a small crush though. Her beauty captured this lizard’s heart. Alas, we could never be together from her devoutness to her faith.

 

I put on an impressed face for Inochi. “I knew you would caught on… Speaking of which, you two were chatting earlier. What’s up with that?” They spoke right after the rescue portion. The only two people who saw through Kan’s test… I should have thought things though…

 

Inochi’s eyes go a bit wide before he laughs awkwardly (but really damn adorable), “Well… Long story short, she invited me to church. And-”



“And you said yes. I would be your plus one, buttttt I got plans,” I tell Inochi before he asks me to join him. Yeah, I would really like to go to church of all things, but Dad’s schedule can’t fit in time for that. (And I still can’t believe Inochi didn’t realize I’m an heiress. We've been friends for over five or six months by now!)

 

Inochi smiles to himself before crossing his arms. “Anyway, I’m glad I caught you before you left. I actually have a plan of my own.” Oh~? What kind of plan is he concocting? I think I saw him staying after in All Might’s class actually. It must be about the Battle Trial.

 

“Spill the beans! Your queen demands you!” I point at him with a demanding finger! For a queen, I’m really short compared to him. Inochi notices because he’s laughing. Wow, that’s mean of him. I should tease him about it! Wait, no. He’ll give me that sad look and starts apologizing. My heart wouldn’t be able to handle Inochi being sad.

 

“Alright alright!” he exclaims, bowing his head in submission. “I asked All Might if he could make you and Kendo be on the same team. He’s making it happen.” Inochi has a satisfied smile on his face, but I don’t.

 

Because what the hell?! Did he really ask All Might that?! He knows Kendo and I don’t get along! Why would he think this is a good idea! Let alone something to make a plan out of!  I need some answers now.

 

“What the hell Inochi?! You know how Kendo feels about me! Why do you think this is a good idea of all things?!” I berate him, taking a step forward with my face a bit closer to his chest. Inochi still has that smile on his face though.

 

“You two have to be friends. This is the best way to do it because…” Inochi takes a step back and fully bows this time, extending his arm out and putting a hand on his chest. “Kodai and I will be your enemies.” Okay, what?! He’s making himself as the Villain here?! Even cute little Kodai?!

 

“Did you even convince Kodai yet?” I cross my arms, grumbling something. I don’t know what I’m grumbling, but it gets the point across that I’m not happy. Inochi looks at me for a second. He didn’t.

 

“Well, not yet. She’ll be more than willing to help. We both know that you want to be Kendo’s friend, and that Kendo sees her failure in you.” Inochi tries to explain his reasoning behind this, but he can just do one simple thing: Tell Kendo like a normal person. Why does he want to go through all this effort?

 

I ask him, “Why don’t you tell Kendo yourself?” I wave my arm slightly to emphasize my point. He shakes his head at me though. Inochi… Even though he’s an adorable goofball, he should have told Kendo this.

 

“She needs to realize it by herself. If I tell her outright, it’s not going to change her heart in an instant and it won’t be as effective.” Inochi tells me. I guess I have no choice but to go along, even though I don’t look forward to it. All Might already put it into action…

 

“Alright Inochi, I trust you.” Inochi has a big, adorable smile on his face. He pulls out a notebook and turns to the first page. In big characters, it has only three words: Operation Dragon Fist!

 

Oh my God, Inochi came up with a name and everything! I should be mad that he made this plan in the first place, but he’s so incredibly cute and dorky with this! Why doesn’t Kendo take this man as her own yet?! He’s a national treasure.

 

“Oh wait! I had something else to ask too! About the test.” He closes his notebook and puts it underneath his arm. “You looked… How can I say this… Worried. Is something wrong?”

 

Oh, of course Inochi caught on. I guess this is his first time seeing me being worried, since I was always first in the class back in middle school. In his mind, he knows that people would look disappointed at their test results, not worried. How should I explain it to him? Well…

 

“I’m fine! My dad will be a bit disappointed though, but that’s it,” I answer him, mentioning Dad again. His eyes go a bit wide before frowning slightly. Heh, he’s ashamed that he didn’t realize that he’s a big businessman.

 

It’s a bit of a lie though. Dad will be more than disappointed in me. That’s why I have to try harder to get first place in the class. It’s going to be a lot harder than middle school though, since we’re on a different playing field. My beautiful, progedic mind can only take me this far, so my body has to lead the way forward.

 

Inochi has a slight smirk on his face. “There’s always the next test. For now, your knight has dethroned you.” Oh? He’s teasing me again? Using medieval metaphors and everything! Well, the queen says otherwise.

 

“Don’t get too cocky! That makes me come after you extra hard! You better prepare yourself, my big and strong knight!” Inochi laughs, bringing out his operation notebook again. Oh, I almost forgot all about Dragon Fist.

 

“That’s not what I have planned~!” Inochi hums, opening his notebook. I can barely see something about traps. Wait, is he going to literally make traps the Battle Trial? For an adorable man, he’s capable of a lot of dangerous things. Heck, I think he held back in his fight with angry mantis man. (Speaking of which, I really feel bad for him. It’s a tough situation Kamakiri’s in.)

 

“Knowing you, you planned that you and Kodai will lose right?” He looks at me and goes dead silent. A few seconds pass with him still as a statue. Yup, I’m right. Inochi is too selfless to make himself the winner.

 

“...Moving on.” Inochi finally says something, turning the page. He has an unsatisfied look on his face. “I haven’t written everything yet. I’ll text you and Kodai about Operation Dragon Fist when I’m ready. And remember:-”

 

I interrupt Inochi, “Don’t tell your future girlfriend, I got it.” He rolls his eyes and puts his notebook away. Heh, the amount of comments I could make about these two.

 

Honk!

 

Oh, that must be my ride! We turn to a familiar (at least for me) black, luxurious car. That’s Haruto, all right! Inochi looks at him, then at me, then back at him before letting out a sigh. “I’ll see you later, Tokage.”

 

“Mhm! See ya tomorrow!” I get on my toes and plant a small kiss on Inochi’s left cheek, running off to my car. I get inside, seeing Inochi starting to walk back home. Haruto’s in the seat in front of me with a soft smile.

 

“Hello, Miss Tokage. If I didn’t know better, you and Inochi are dating, but I do know better.” Haruto laughs slightly, starting to drive back home. He’s basically the connection between me, as an heiress and me, as a normal high school girl. Besides from Inochi, he’s a guy that I can reliably count on.

 

“Very funny, Haruto. Anything big happen today?” I ask him, opening my notebook to the notes on the Battle Trial. If Operation Dragon Fist wasn’t a thing, then I’ll probably be fighting Inochi blindly. Ugh, imagine fighting Inochi. With his Adoptive Muscle Memory and his constant training, he’s easily one of the most unpredictable fighters in U.A., which makes him really dangerous.

 

(This reminds me when I told Dad that Inochi got into the Hero Course. He looked oddly confused. That’s when he went into his study and made a call. It was a bit strange, and I didn’t dare listen on his conversation again.)

 

“Well, remember that your father left early in the morning? It was from Stain. He murdered Cyrus,” Haruto tells me what Stain did. I personally didn’t know Cyrus myself, but she was one of Dad’s acquaintances. Knowing him, he’ll donate a lot of money to her family. He won’t be focused on my failure today, but I’d rather take that than having a woman murdered.

 

That’s also the thirteen Pro Hero that Stain killed. He’s going after Executioner Wasp’s glory, who decapitated twenty-five people before being caught, and well, executed. I don’t know how Stain could do such a thing, murdering Pro Heroes like that and crippling even more. I hope someone finds him and give him what he deserves.

 

At times like these, I’m happy that Inochi wants to be a Pro Hero. Foster kids like him usually end up in a life of crime. When I think about it, Stain and Inochi have pretty similar fighting styles. Imagine having two Stains out there… Ugh, I don’t want to think about it.

 

I let out a sigh, “Let’s talk about something happier.” Haruto nods as he turns on his turn signal, going right.

 

“How is Mister Shishida and Miss Yaoyorozu? I know Mister Shishida’s in your class, and I believe Miss Yaoyorozu is in 1-A.” I hum and nod, gesturing that Haruto’s right about Momo. I should have talked to her earlier, but I didn’t get a chance to. At least I know Jurota’s doing pretty well for a beastly man as himself.

 

“Jurota’s great! He’s happy that I’m in his class. As for Momo, I figure that she’s happy too. Haven’t gotten a chance to talk to her,” I tell Haruto.

 

We pass the car ride by talking about my classmates. We talk about Inochi, Kendo, Shiozaki (my goddess), and practically everyone. I specifically avoided talking about Kamakiri though, since that’s going to be a sad talk.

 

Then, we talk about the Battle Trial and Inochi’s masterplan. We mutually agreed that he was being hopeful, but it’s a great plan nonetheless. Let’s hope everything goes as planned

Chapter Text

Itsuka Kendo

“Inochi, you’ve been there long enough! It’s time to come out now,” I tell him, putting a hand on my hip. For a shameless man, he’s taking a long time in there. We both mutually agreed that we would keep our costumes a secret, but I didn’t think he would be this shy about it!

 

“You’ll judge me!” Inochi’s meek voice comes out of the door. Ugh, he hasn’t talked like that since middle school. I don’t understand why he’s being like this. Mom made our costumes and our equipment! She won’t settle having a bad costume, especially for Inochi.

 

I yell (assuringly) at him, “I won’t! How long have you known Mom and I for?!” Inochi grumbles before I hear his footsteps getting closer and closer to the door. He takes in a deep breath, at least that’s what I hear, and steps out into the limelight.

 

Woah…

 

“Y-You’re staring, Kendo…” Inochi stutters with his face turning bright red. Heh, I must be staring at how cool he looks! Inochi must think his costume looks terrible, but it’s the exact opposite! He looks like a modern day samurai. Well, more like a ronin to be exact.

 

I walk up to him, observing his costume. Inochi blushes even more, turning his head away. Aw, it’s a rare moment for him to be flustered like this! As for his hero costume…

 

Inochi is wearing a short sleeve, black and white kimono. On his chest and waist is some tatami-gusoku, a form of samurai armor. His metal armor plates are pitch black outlined with white. It’s held together by his black agemaki, or that could be for style. Down to his legs though.. His kimono is above his knees, but it’s still a bit flowy. Underneath that is white combat pants tucked into his black boots.

 

“A-Are you done staring?” he asks me, putting up his white hood that’s attached to the neckline of his kimono. There’s also a black mask attached to his neck too. I shake my head with a slight smile on my face. Inochi lets out a pitiful noise, having no choice but to let me inspect him.

 

Now, onto my most looked forward part: His equipment. At his left hip is his katana with its tsuka wrapped in white linen. It’s nicely tucked into its sharp black sheathe. Underneath his katana is his wakizashi, which has the same design. His tanto is the same too, but it’s much shorter and on his right hip. I walk behind him and see four white pouches with a black button.

 

I step over in front of him again, looking at his two black bracers on his arms. They have a white, four-pointed star on them. “What’s with the bracers? I don’t remember samurais having those on them.”

 

Inochi pulls his left arm across his chest, showcasing it to me. “This is… Uh, my grappling hook. I can move around a lot easier and…” He puts his left arm down and brings his right up. “My crossbow. It can hold five bolts at a time.”

 

Grappling hook?! And a crossbow?! This is his way to even up with all of us, but he’s going beyond that! It must weigh a lot though... It does explain the weight training he did with Grandpa. Jeez, the only thing I have is a utility belt. I don’t need anything but my beautiful hammerfists.

 

Inochi makes a movement with his wrist. His bracer instantly opens up into a crossbow with a steel-tipped bolt already chambered in-?! He’s waving that thing in front of me! Inochi, what the hell?!

 

I take a step forward, moving his hand away from me. “Woah! Don’t wave that thing in front of me!” Inochi realizes and moves his wrist again, closing his bracer. He sighs in relief as I let go of his hand.

 

“I’m so sorry! This thing is touch-!” His left bracer opens up to reveal a metal hook attached to rope. I barely have enough time to sidestep as it shoots out towards the wall behind me, digging itself in. “EEEEEEEE!”

 

SLAM!

 

Inochi gets yanked by the arm, slamming into the concrete wall. I run over to him as he falls over backwards. I catch him, looking down at his dazed face. “Inochi! Are you okay?!”

 

Inochi groans, looking up at me. He has a pained smile on his face. “I…I swear I know how to use it.”

 

I giggle, putting him down on his feet. “I hope so. How can you be a badass in one second then be a complete klutz in the next?” Inochi nervously laughs from his own clumsiness, rubbing his bare arms.

 

“I don’t know…” he tells me, taking a good look at my costume. I spin around, showing off my beautiful green qipao to him. Inochi smiles and crosses his arms playfully, making sure his bracers aren’t going to activate.

 

“You look gorgeous, Kendo. Hayami really came through with our costumes, huh?” he compliments me with a smile. I can feel my face getting a little warmer, but he can’t see it from my domino mask. He’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind.

 

“Aw, thanks for the compliment, Inochi. And yeah, you didn’t have to be so flustered about it.” I wave my arm towards Ground Beta, gesturing him to follow. We walk down the hall side-by-side.

 

Inochi talks back to me, “Hey, dressing up in a battle kimono is a bit embarrassing.” I snort, quickly covering my mouth to stifle my laughter. To call his costume a “battle kimono” is so off-putting, but so true! I might as well consider my qipao as a “battle qipao” then!

 

We have a good laugh before we reach everyone else. Look at all these costumes! There’s a ton of variety and styles that I could go on and on about. Where’s Yui though? I wanna see what she came up with!

 

“Hey hey, samurai!” Inochi and I turn to Awase, who’s waving Inochi over to Rin, Manga, and Kaibara. I heard some things about Awase from Kaibara, especially his comments. One of these days, I’ll have a strong talk with him. I need Yui to distract Inochi because he’ll try to stop me.

 

“Hey guys!” Inochi leaves me to be with his guy friends. I pout, putting a hand on my hip. I’m sure Rin, Kaibara, and Manga are good people. But Awase? Making those comments makes me want to punch them.

 

“Are you well, Kendo?” Yanagi says, walking up to me. Her costume is so like her! A white kimono (like Inochi’s), a furred collar, and a black mask covering her nose down.

 

I reply back to Yanagi, “Yeah, it’s nothing. You ready for the Battle Tri-?”

“Kamakiri! Kamakiri!” Pony’s voice interrupts me. Yanagi and I watch Pony as she’s practically jumping around Kamakiri, looking at his villainy costume. Pretty much everything about his costume is dark and broody.

 

It contrasts with Pony’s costume, who’s wearing an adorable bright orange skin-tight shirt with matching pants. For some reason… She’s wearing a saddle. Does that mean people can ride her? Oh, I’m not letting any man ride Pony!

 

“Stop hoppin’ around like that Pony!” Kamakiri berates poor Pony, trying to literally push her away. Hmph, why is she hanging around someone like Kamakiri? He’s bad news, especially for someone as innocent as Pony.

 

I turn to Yanagi and say, “I’ll be right back.” Yanagi nods as I walk towards these two. Kamakiri looks at me and groans. I hear him muttering that the big sister is here. Well, I’m flattered he considers me that.

 

Pony stops jumping around and looks at me. She has that adorable smile on her face. “Kendo Kendo!” Right as when she’s distracted, Kamakiri walks away. Heh, he knows what’s good for him.

 

Yanagi walks up to us. “The mantis has departed.” Pony smiles at Yanagi, staring at her white kimono. She touches the fabric before frowning.

 

“This pretty kimono will rip, Yanagi! I don’t wanna see this be ripped!” Yanagi stands there like a still statue. I’m sure her kimono won’t tear easily, because it’ll be really expensive otherwise.

 

“Pony, it’s probably woven with kevlar, like my qipao and Inochi’s own kimono,” I explain it to her. Yanagi nods, telling me that I’m right.

 

“That’s cool!” Pony looks around, getting worried with each turn of her head. “Where’s Kamakiri? Did he run away again?” She’s still on him? What does Pony see in him?

 

“Why must you be distraught about Kamakiri?” Yanagi asks Pony before I do. Besides me, Yui walks up wearing a red and white bodysuit. She looks gorgeous, and has a cute little hat too! Like always, she has that indifferent look on her face.

 

“He seems so sad! I wanna help him. That’s what real Expert Heroes do!” That’s what “Pro Heroes” do, but I don’t dare to correct her. No one dares to correct her, but Kamakiri doesn’t seem like a sad guy to me. To be honest, he’s a lot like Bakugo from 1-A, but less noisy. We hear him yelling in our homeroom sometimes. How does Ojiro deal with him?

 

Yui looks at me with the same expression I have. She’s with me here. “If you say so, Pony. You know what he is though, right?” I warn Pony, which she gladly nods.

 

“I don’t give a dang about that!” Pony exclaims with a hand on her hip. Well, if Pony isn’t judging Kamakiri that way… What does that say about me? That I’m a pretty judgemental person for one. I guess I can’t judge him that way, but I’m still keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t try anything with Po-?!

 

“WAAAAAAAAAH!” Manga suddenly screams, making the whole room go silent. We stare at him freaking out in front of… Oh, Tokage is floating her face right in front of him. Of course she would do that. Tokage is wearing a simple blue, scaly bodysuit. I’d thought it’ll be green.

 

“Manga! It’s just Tokage!” Inochi tries to shake him out of his fright. Manga is mumbling incoherent. For God’s sake, Tokage… She puts her face back with the rest of her body, chatting with the boys.

 

“Wow! Inochi looks like a real samurai!” Pony runs over to them, hopping all around Inochi. He smiles, presumably telling her all about his costume. Man, on the first day of school, she was so shy! Now, she’s literally jumping with joy around us. It’s a bit like Inochi. He’s an introverted guy, but a real extrovert once you get to know him.

 

“What a spritely woman…” Yanagi comments, watching Pony with us. Yui nods with her with a simple hum. These two are so quiet and emotionless, but I bet that there’s a lot of thoughts going through their head.

 

“Has the test begun?” Shiozaki walks up to us wearing a plain white robe with knee-high boots. I can’t imagine her with any other costume.

 

“Not yet,” I tell Shiozaki, looking around for All Might. Where is he? I’m pretty sure everyone’s here except for hi-

 

STOMP STOMP STOMP!

 

As soon as I think that, everyone stops and stares at a door where the stomping is coming from. That’s where All Might’s going to appear. It gets closer and closer until…

 

CRASH!

 

“I AM HERE!!!” All Might yells out his famous catchphrase, running towards the front of the room with Recovery Girl simply walking at a calm pace. We gather around him, staring at a TV screen that just turned on. It has two words in red: “BATTLE TRIAL!!!”

 

All Might points to the screen as it changes into a cool comic, reviewing the Battle Trial with us. The screen changes to Class 1-A and their Battle Trials. All Might narrates through some scenes, especially the one involving Midoriya and Bakugo. I can feel Monoma monologuing inside his head.

 

Afterwards, All Might snaps his fingers, changing the screen. “Without further ado, it’s time to find out the teams!” The screen changes into two wheels with a label up top, “Team A - Heroes!”

 

The wheels spin for a few seconds before landing on two names: Tetsutetsu and Manga. Tetsutetsu pumps his fist up while Manga lets out a scared whine.

 

Team B is Shiozaki and Tsubaraba as Heroes. (“I’m dead,” Tsubaraba mutters.)

Team C is Inochi and Yui as Villains

 

Really?! My two best friends are paired together? I was hoping I would be paired with one of them, but I guess I have to be with someone else. As long as I don’t get paired with Tokage. Even better, I’ll have to fight her!

 

Team D is Honenuki and Rin as Villains. (Honenuki does a great villain cackle.)

Team E is Pony and Kamakiri as Heroes. What are the odds of that?)

Team F is Awase and Yanagi as Villains. (Awase doesn’t look too happy with the pairing.)

Team G is Komori and Kuroiro as Villains. (“I am satisfied,” Kuroiro comments.)

Team H is Bondo and Shishida as Villains. (These two didn’t say anything.)

Team I is Kaibara, Monoma, and Shoda as Heroes. (I guess Monoma is the extra man in every group.)

 

That’s everyone else except for… Except for Tokage and I. Don’t tell me… The wheel spins one more time for Team J, landing on both of our names.

 

I’m with her… The one person I absolutely abhor. Little Miss Perfect, the one woman who’s determined to beat everyone, beating me. Why did life had to pair me with her?!

 

Let me guess, she’ll take control of the entire Battle Trial and I’ll be tagging along. She’ll take the glory of winning while I’ll be left with the scraps. What kind of bullshit is this?! It’s too late to change the teams now. God, I don’t know how this day could get even worse...

 

Tokage walks up to me with a smile. “Looks like we’re partners, Battle Fist!” She’s giving me a nickname and everything. That’s so damn annoying. How the hell does Inochi deal with someone like her on a daily basis?

 

“Yup…” I try my best to sound normal, but it didn’t work. My voice is completely hostile to this woman.

 

All Might laughs and snaps his fingers again, changing the title to: “MATCH-UPS!!!” One wheel is labeled, “HEROES!” while the other is labeled, “VILLAINS!”

 

“Let’s see who’re you’ll be fighting against!” We stare at the wheels spinning for a few seconds. The first wheel stops at… Team J. We’re the first match. At least I’ll get this over with instead of waiting. And the other wheel lands on… Team C…

 

What the absolute hell?! Of all teams I could go up against, it’s my two best friends! Is life determined to screw me over at every turn?! Not only I have to pair up with Tokage, I’ll have to fight my friends! Normally, I wouldn’t be complaining, but Tokage changes all of that.

 

Tokage snarkily comments, “I didn’t expect to fight my knight!” For some reason, her voice sounds… Fake? Is that the right word? It’s like she’s purposely pretending to be a terrible actor. Ugh, it’s like she’s trying to provoke me. I cross my arms, grumbling something unintelligible.

 

Team A is going against Team D.

Team E is going against Team F.

Team B is going against Team H.

Team I is going against Team G.

 

“Team C and J! Follow the lights to your Battle Trial!” All Might calls us. We follow the lights into a long, white hallway. Inochi awkwardly scratches the back of his head while Yui doesn’t have an expression on her face.

 

“Uhm, let’s have a good battle, you two.” Inochi tells me. I couldn’t help but smile though. This is a good chance to properly fight him using everything we got. I’ll still beat him though, with or without Tokage.

 

Tokage replies back, “You betcha! You better not hold back.” She’s still talking like that. Inochi slightly winces, but smiles like everything’s fine. I didn’t bother to say anything else though. Yui stays silent like she always does.

 

“Yeah, of course. Best of luck!” Inochi says as we reach the end of the hallway, stopping at a metal door.

 

All Might’s voice comes on in the intercoms. “The Villains have a grace period of five minutes to prepare! Use that time wisely!” The door opens, letting Inochi and Yui through. They wave goodbye, leaving Tokage and I alone.

 

Once the door closes, Tokage brings her hands together. “Alright Kendo! I have a plan. Kodai is an easy target, so I can handle her adorableness myself.” Is Tokage talking about fighting or taking care of a puppy? Anyway…

 

“What about Inochi? Where does he fit in your great plan of yours?” I say without trying to sound passive-aggressive, but it’s too late. Tokage notices with a subtle wince, but she’s still smiling her cocky smile.

 

“Y-You can take care of him. Let me go over the plan.” Tokage stutters, but maintaining her confident and flirty attitude. I don’t know how she’s able to go around without a care in the world. It’s like winning comes naturally for her, except for Mister Vlad’s test earlier. Not only she’s an heiress to a multi-billionaire company, she’s also a prodigy. Is there anything she isn’t?

 

I lean against the wall, watching her move her mouth. Before I knew it, a bell rings. I didn’t catch what Tokage’s plan was, but I know enough. She’s going up to Kodai while I’m focusing on fighting Inochi. It’s a simple plan. Even though Inochi has his weapons, I can still defeat him easily. I have to get up close and he’ll lose. He knows this though, so he’ll try everything to keep me away from him.

 

Tokage cracks her knuckles as the door opens. “Heroes! It’s time to initiate your Battle Trial! Your hostages are on the top floor. I wish you the best of luck!” All Might tells us before the intercoms shut off. Here we go…

 

I’ll be your fist...

 

***

 

We go through the door into a large concrete hallway. The walls are like a six-sided die, but the dots are smaller at the corners. I can already tell this will be a concrete maze. Right now though, I don’t hear any other footsteps than Tokage’s and mine.

 

As we pass through dark corridors, I look in them. There isn’t a single thing in there. Yui and Inochi must be upstairs where the hostages are at. I’d thought Inochi would come down here and meet us himself. He’s playing it safe and smart.

 

“Those two aren’t anywhere to be seen…” Tokage says with her bad acting voice. Seriously, why is she talking like that?

 

“Was this apart of your oh-so-perfect plan?” I ask her with my fists clenching. We stand in the middle of the hallway. I can barely see the stairs at the end, around the corner.

 

“Yeah, but I was hoping I wouldn’t come to that. Our odds of success go down to a seventy-five percent. It’s still favorable, but life usually makes that percent be like ten because life sucks.” Tokage laughs at her own joke, pretending that she didn’t hear the last part. I roll my eyes and look forward.

 

If they’re waiting for us, then there’s only one thing to do: Fighting them head on. Screw whatever Tokage is trying to do, this is where I take over. That way, I could actually win without her messing everything up.

 

“That means there’s only one way to attack them.” I say, slamming my fists together. Tokage’s eyes go wide, staring at me like I’m a lunatic.

 

“No! That’s a bad idea! We’ll be going into their territory!” Tokage stops walking to scold me about how bad my idea is. Ugh, after this, she’ll rant about how her plan is so much better than mine.

 

“My plan removes their advantage and giving it to us! Did you even listen to me?!” she barks at me. Yup, exactly what I’d thought she would do. What the hell does she know? Everyone knows that plans don’t perfectly work all the time. It’s like in the movies. It never works, so the protagonist always has to improvise and adapt.

 

I cross my arms with anger starting to rise in my chest. “Just stop with your plans already! You said it yourself, life sucks. So, we’re going to win, my way.” I point to myself before looking ahead. I’ll prove to her that I’ll win without her “masterplan.” Without a second thought, I run towards the stairs.

 

“If you want to win so much, follow me.” I say as I jog over the stairs. Inochi and Yui will probably hear my footsteps, but they already know we’re coming.


Tokage yells at my back, “Don’t run off like that!” Little Miss Perfect is angry, but I know she won’t leave me by myself. If she wants to win like she always does, then she’ll be forced to follow me. I don’t really care either way. Yui and Inochi are a strong team, but their fighting skills are nothing compared to me.

 

I turn the corner and spot the stairs leading to victory. I look back and see Tokage chasing after me by flying. A smirk forms on my face. “Looks like I beat you here.” I put my foot on the first ste-!!!

 

“KENDO!!!”

 

BOOM!!!

 

Right before I exploded, I felt a thin wire right above my toes. Tokage caught up to me before we were sent flying into a wall behind us. My back crashes against it while parts of Tokage’s body gets launched all… Everywhere! I’m feeling dazed, but I shake myself out of it. The explosion didn’t hurt me much, but…

 

“Tokage?!” I get up and run over to… Well, I don’t know what to run over. She’s literally all over the place. I hear her groaning as her body slowly forms back into her full self. Even though I hate her, she doesn’t deserve to be blown up!

 

Tokage stands up and growls at me, growing red in the face. “What the hell Kendo?! I told you to not run off!” Is she blaming me for this?!

 

“If you didn’t distracted me, then I would have saw the tripwire!” I yell back at her, gesturing towards the stairs, which are now partly broken from the explosion.

 

“Really?! You’re the one who refuses to do what I say! I’m trying to help us win, but you’re being so freaking reckless! Do you really think you can take Yui and Inochi by yourself?!” She snaps back, tearing off her now-broken mask. I can see her scaly green eyes now.

 

“Yeah, I have complete confidence in my abilities, Tokage . They won’t be able to beat me, especially badass Inochi!” I snap back, practically spitting in her face. Tokage grits her teeth, twisting her hair around her finger.

 

“More like completely arroga-”

 

“Wow, Kendo. I never knew you could say such hurtful things.”

 

Tokage and I turn around to face Inochi, who’s leaning against a wall near the broken stairs. He has his hood up with a black mask covering his face from the nose down. His voice… It’s different. It’s not bubbly or cheerful like before, but it’s cold. Cold and emotionless. I can’t believe he’s been watching us… I can still beat him, right? Even though his complete demeanor has changed, it’s possible to beat him and win! But… Why do I feel so scared?

 

Tokage and I look at each other. The red in our faces disappear, letting fear takes its place. I never seen Tokage having that expression before. How is Inochi doing this to us with only a single sentence?!

 

“What’s wrong? You guys are two of the most powerful women I know, so why are you still like a deer caught in headlights?” Inochi gets off of the wall and casually walks where he’s facing us. Behind him is an open doorway leading to a room full of windows. I estimate he’s about fifteen or so meters ahead.

 

Still… Tokage and I remain silent from his taunt. It’s not like Monoma’s where it’s irritating beyond relief. Unlike Monoma, Inochi can and will back his taunt up. I think… I think I severely underestimated him…

 

We stay where we’re at, like statues.

 

Inochi clicks his tongue like he’s disappointed. “So be it.”

 

CLINK!

 

ZIIIIIP!

 

Inochi activates his grappling hook. It extends where it almost touches the ground. He whips it towards Tokage, extending it through the air. (He’s trying to capture her?!) I try to push Tokage out of the way, but my muscles freeze up. His grappling hook coils around Tokage’s waist as grabs it with his other arm, pulling her towards him.

 

The rope starts to retract back into his bracer, making her be in mid-air. I yell out Tokage’s name, but it doesn’t do anything to save her. I watch her being pulled towards Inochi as he heaves her above him. The rope uncoils from her waist as Tokage is launched into the open room with windows.

 

Without looking, Inochi moves his right arm towards it and opens his crossbow, firing a bolt inside.

 

BOOM!!!

 

From what I can see, the entire room explodes. I could only stand there in shock from what Inochi just did. I could have pushed Tokage out of the way, or she could have split herself apart, but we were too dumbfounded. For all I know, Tokage is immediately incapacitated.

 

Just what the hell are you, Inochi? Earlier, you couldn’t even control your grappling hook. Now, you can do all of this?!

 

It doesn’t matter now. I can’t let fear stop me. Inochi glares at me as I charge forward, rushing in with my fists clenched. It might not work out, but I have to try! Inochi simply shakes his head and aims his crossbow at the floor in front of me, firing again.

 

BOOM!!!

 

The force of the explosion knocks me back, but I’m still on my feet. A large grey cloud of dust and smoke fills the area in front of me. I can barely make out Inochi’s dark figure, whose kimono is waving slightly from the explosion.

 

“I’m disappointed, Heroes . You two kept on arguing and bickering, saying such mean things to each other. If you can’t work together, then what hope do you have to win?” Inochi says as the smoke disappears. Behind him, I see Tokage staggering out the doorway, holding her arm. Thank God… For once, I’m glad she’s okay.

 

We both stare at Inochi. Even though he’s looking at me, his presence is staring at both of us. Like… Like he’s expecting something.

 

“After all, I am your Villain.”

 

Once he says that, Tokage splits her body into small pieces. She yells, “Run, Kendo! We can’t take him on like this!” Without thinking, I spin on the soles of my feet and run away from Inochi. I duck into a dark corridor, turning for God knows how many times. I find myself in a dark room, so I let myself close my eyes for a brief second...

 

Thud

 

Shit, Inochi’s here! My eyes jolt open as I enlarge my right fist. I pull back and aim wherever I heard the sou-


“Kendo! It’s me!” Tokage loudly whispers to me. My fist stops right at her nose. Shit, I almost knocked her out. I pull my hand back, shrinking it.

 

“Sorry,” I apologize to her, resting against the wall. I didn’t expect things to go this way, but  should have. This isn’t like me at all. What did Inochi say?

 

“If you can’t work together, then what hope do you have to win?”

 

He was talking about the both of us, but he was looking at me. Inochi was talking to me , telling me to work together with Tokage. When I think back on it, I was being such a bitch to her wasn’t I? I’m the one who refuses to work with her, not Tokage...

 

“It’s fine, Kendo.” She accepts my apology, resting next to me. Inochi really did a number on her. Her costume has dust and soot all over. I hear Tokage muttering under her breath, “This didn’t go according to plan.”

 

For some reason, I laugh a little. It’s a weird feeling though. The usual feeling I get with her, utterly hate, isn’t there anymore. “Yeah, it’s all my fault… I didn’t expect Inochi to be this… How can I say this…?”

 

“Good guy version of Stain? Ugh, we haven’t seen him using his katana yet…” Tokage took the words out of my mouth. God, I’m really happy he wants to be a Pro Hero. I can’t imagine him as a Villain… Except right now, of course.

 

I manage to laugh again despite everything. “Heh… Yesterday, Inochi was like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to mix in my kenjutsu with modern techniques!’ Now, we’re hiding from him. I underestimated him so much…”

My back slides down the wall, making me sit down with my knees close to my chest. Tokage does the same, nudging my shoulder. “If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure my arm’s dislocated.” She gestures towards her other arm, which is hanging around uselessly. It doesn’t make me feel any better. Only worse.

 

“Oh, let me fix that.” I grab it and put it back in her socket. Tokage lets out a small whine of pain before rolling her shoulder around.

 

“You could’ve warned me, but I guess I deserved that.” She groans, hitting the back of her head against the wall. Why does she think that though? I’m constantly going against her plans and everything!

 

I turn my head towards her. “No, I’m the asshole who couldn’t work with you. I’m the reason why we’re hiding from Evil Inochi.” She looks back at me. Her eyes are a lot kinder than before. Has she always been this way?

 

“Kend-”

 

I interrupt her, letting my thoughts flow out of my mouth.

 

“To be honest, I was always so Goddamn jealous of you. Yui only told Inochi that I didn’t like you from the Recommendations Exam, but that wasn’t the full truth. It was from how stupidly perfect you are at everything. It’s like you were born with the perfect set of genes... I hated it so much. It made me feel like nothing in comparison to you.

 

When I found out that we would be in the same class, I felt so angry that I’ll be nothing compared to the great, Setsuna Tokage. Then... This happened. It took getting blown up to show me that I painted an awful portrait of you and took it as the real you. I’m sorry, Tokage. For how I treated you for the past few years....”

 

I bow my head in shame as Tokage takes in what I said. It really isn’t the best time to spill my heart out, but now’s better than ever. After a few seconds, I look up to see Tokage with a gleaming smile on her face. “I forgive you, Kendo. Believe me, I was jealous of the badass daughter of Master Kendo. It takes one to know one as they say!”

 

Tokage jumps up with newfound energy in her feet. “Anyway, there’s more pressing matters to get to! We got six minutes until time runs out! It’s time to show Inochi what’s coming to him! Come on, Kendo.”

 

Tokage lends me a hand. It reminds me of the moment after the Recommendation Exams… We were both exhausted after the racing portion of the practical test. She beat me, just barely. I fell on the ground covered in dirt. Tokage simply smiled at me and lent me her hand, but all I could see was a snickering face, taunting me that I lost.

 

Looking at it in a different light, she was being nice to me, but I smacked her hand away. It was one of the many occasions that I was being rude and mean to her. Every time, Inochi and Yui gave me a distasteful look. Well, I’ll show them that I’ll win… With Tokage.

 

I take off my own mask, throwing it aside. My hand clasps Tokage’s as she pulls me back up to my feet. “What’s the plan, Tokage?”

 

Tokage has a bright smile on her face. The one that reminds me whenever she wins. This time, I think she’s sharing it with me.

 

“Well, it’s pretty simple actually.”

 

~~~

Sanji Inochi

It’s been two minutes. They haven’t gotten out from their hiding place yet. Five minutes to go. They have to defeat me within that time, go up to Kodai, defeat her and/or rescue the hostages. God, I hope they made up within those two minutes. My plan would be a bust if they lost.

 

Was I being too hard on them? Being too evil? I mean, I practically threw Tokage into a room and blew her up. To be fair, I didn’t think I could do that. I only saw Asui doing the same thing, with her tongue, when All Might showed us those clips of 1-A’s Battle Trial. It worked though, but a little too well. Kendo was certainty surprised though, as she had a lot of chances to react, but she didn’t do anything. Man, I’m way too good at acting like a Villain...

 

The problem is: Kendo will not freeze up again. That move was a surprise (to all of us frankly). I can’t surprise her with the same thing twice. Luckily, Tokage will create an improvised plan to defeat me. I know I’ll lose, so it’s only a matter of how I’ll lose.

 

I’ll still fight at my full potential though because I promised All Might that. Man, imagine what everyone else is thinking…

 

Click clack!

 

Footsteps! From the sound of them, it’s Kendo’s. Her footsteps are heavier than Tokage’s, so the question is: Where is Tokage? Most likely, she’s flying to avoid being heard by me. That means… She’s scouting.

 

I look around for Tokage’s eyes in the sky. Kendo won’t see me right away because… Well… I’m on the concrete platforms near the ceiling. I have a birdseye view down below. Unfortunately, I don’t see Tokage’s eyes anywhere. That means I can’t find her.

 

Kendo’s in the main hallway now in full view. Well, I can’t let time go on. It’s time for our rematch. It’ll be a close quarters combat, so I’ll lose here. Well, I need to lose. I’ll be holding back either way, because fighting with a katana isn’t that good at incapacitating.

 

Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

I unsheathe my katana and fall from my platform, landing on my feet in front of her. I spin it around my hand, lightly gripping it with my right. “Did you learn your lesson, Kendo?” Evil Sanji asks her. (It’s amazing that I can make my voice cold and emotionless, but I don’t like it one bit. It’s way too… Well, evil.)

 

“Did you ? You know you can’t win.” Kendo says, clenching her right fist.

 

“We’ll see about that.” I put both of my hands firmly on the hilt, getting into position. I definitely know that I can’t beat her. For my first trick, my right arm is directly facing her. I activate my crossbow and fire another explosive bolt within the second (two left).

 

Kendo steps to the side, letting the bolt fly into the wall behind her.

 

BOOM!!!

 

If the open room wasn’t destroyed before, then it’s destroyed now. The sunlight is making itself at home at our Battle Trial. Kendo smirks (I notice that she isn’t wearing her domino mask anymore), and takes a step forward. Well, now’s a good time as any to strike!

I dash forward and slash at her right hip. Kendo tries to jump back, but my blade nicks her. That part of her costume nicks her, drawing a small amount of blood. She backs up into a wall, putting herself in an awful position. Kendo touches her hip and slightly winces in pain. “Ow…”

 

I’m sor-!!!

 

SLAM!

 

Kendo punches me with a left hook to the jaw. Pain shoots from her punch, leaving a numb feeling in my jaw. I stagger backwards before shaking myself back to reality. Crap, she took advantage of my kindness! She knew I would react to her getting hurt, so I didn’t do anything and let my guard down! We’re deeper into the hallway now, neither of us are in a favorable or an unfavorable position.

 

”That’s it!” I growl out, aiming my grappling hook at her head. It fires, barely missing Kendo. It hits the concrete wall behind her, digging itself in. Without hesitation, I yank my grappling hook back.

 

SLAM!

 

It rips a piece of concrete from the wall, hitting Kendo’s back. She’s forced to step forward closer to me, right where I want her. I spin on the heel of my left foot, connecting my right heel to her head. Kendo groans in pain as she staggers towards the side.

 

“Take this!” She recovers before I have a chance to attack again. Kendo pulls her right hand back and aims for my head, but I tilt it to the side, narrowly avoiding her punch. What else should I d-?!

 

THUD!

 

Kendo enlarges her fist, hitting my head again. I’m knocked to the side, dropping my katana on the ground. My back hits a wall, putting me in an unlucky position this time. “Yah!” Kendo grunts, sending her enlarged fist flying at me again. I jerk towards the side and dodge her punch again.

 

CRACK!

 

And the concrete wall cracks. Yup, I always knew she could break concrete like it’s nothing. That’s the amount of force she’s punching me with. Oh God, how am I not dead yet?!

 

“Sorry, Inochi!” Kendo shrinks her hand and grabs the rope attached to my grappling hook. Oh crap, I didn’t retract it! I could do something! I have enough time to get my wakizashi or my tanto out! But… I really don’t want to hurt her! That’s it then… I’m resigning myself to my fate.

 

She lifts me in the air and-!!!

 

SLAM!

 

Crack!

 

Ughk!

 

“That’s for blowing me up!” Kendo tells me, but I’m pretty sure she just cracked my back… Not in a good way too… Pain shoots its way throughout my body, telling me to end the match here… Where’s Tokage…?

 

SLAM!

 

“That’s for cutting me earlier!”

 

SLAM!

 

“That’s for taking this way too seriously!”

 

SLAM!

 

Kendo lets go after the fourth time she slams me. She wipes her mouth, smiling wickedly. “And that’s for creating this scheme.”

 

Eh…? Did I hear her right…? I don’t know, my everything hurts… I can’t think right now...

 

I think I hear a bell ringing. Is that the end of the match? All Might, please tell me that the match ended. I don’t want to deal with any more of Kendo’s wrath…

 

“The Heroes have defeated the Villains! Congratulations, Team J!” All Might says over the intercoms. Kendo pumps her fist in the air, cheering in victory. I lay on the ground, defeated. I planned this. She looks really happy too… I’m glad for her…

 

“Woah Kendo, I think you killed Inochi.” Is that Tokage’s voice? I think it is… She defeated Kodai? Well, looks like I was wrong…

 

“Rest in peace,” Kodai says to me, patting my head. Thanks Kodai… I’ll just… I’ll just lay here for a while...

 

~~~

Itsuka Kendo

I carry Inochi back to our class. Tokage and I have a bright smile on our faces. She was right! It would be this easy! Yui though, she has that same indifferent look on her face. She was in on this, but didn’t do much. At least she was emotional support for Inochi because… Well…

 

“Inochi, how’re you hanging?” Tokage pats Inochi’s back. It was only a light pat, but he groans loudly in pain. She giggles to herself, nudging my shoulder. “Looks like you got some revenge there, Battle Fist.”

 

“Mhm!” I hum, walking back into our starting hallway. Yui walks in between Tokage and I. She has something on her mind.

 

“Tokage, you told Itsuka about Operation Dragon Fist? ” Yui asks her. Tokage tilts her head back and forth slightly, like she didn’t tell me about it. Well, she told me that Inochi rigged the teams. What else was there?

 

“Not exactly. I told Kendo about the rigged teams, but I didn’t tell her why Inochi did it.” I turn to her with a puzzled look on my face. Tokage smiles and looks forward. Oh, we’re here already? Yui opens the door and walks inside with us following suit. Our class claps as we walk inside.

 

“That was a good fight!” Awase gives us a thumbs-up. Besides him, Yanagi simply nods her head with her arms like a zombie.

 

“What a splendid performance, Inochi!” Monoma comments on Inochi’s acting. Well, it was pretty convincing. He was so terrifying different that it froze me up. That won’t happen again though… I hope.

 

“I don’t think this troublesome boy can hear you, dear.” Recovery Girl says, gesturing me to put him on a table. She shakes her head disapprovingly at the both of us. “What is Sasaki teaching you?”

 

I didn’t have anything to say. I knew Recovery Girl and Grandpa had history, but he never talked about it. For some reason, he’s always secretive about his life in U.A. Mom said it’s from bad memories.

 

Recovery Girl inspects Inochi, turning and twisting him all over. He groans with every movement. “Luckily, you only sprained his back somehow. This boy’s resilient.” She kisses Inochi’s forehead and the back of my hand, healing us. The cut on my hip is slowly disappearing.

 

“Thank you, Miss Shuzenji…” I bow in respect. She waves me away back to my class, moving in between Yui and Tokage. All Might is in front of us with a bright smile on his face.

 

“Well, it seems Young Inochi’s scheme have worked perfectly! I couldn’t be happier.” Tokage nods and hums, showing her toothy smile.

 

“Yup! All Might, do you want to explain what Operation Dragon Fist was to all of us? Since… Uhm…” She turns back to Inochi, who’s moaning in pain currently. “Let’s say the ringleader is occupied at the moment.”

 

“What did I get myself into?” Shoda mutters under his breath, hiding his face slightly in his costume. I would say to that, U.A. High School! One of the best high schools in Japan! But, I’m more concerned about Operation Battle Fist .

 

“I will, Young Tokage!” All Might gestures everyone to watch the screen labeled, “OPERATION DRAGON FIST!”

 

Operation Dragon Fist was a scheme created by the selfless, and currently injured, Sanji Inochi!” All Might starts his explanation of Inochi’s operation. Jeez, he made a name for this and everything.

 

The screen showcases a comic of him talking to All Might after class. “One day, he talked to me after class. I noticed him writing furiously in a notebook of his, so I knew it had to be that!”

 

Inochi and All Might are having a conversation without words. Inside Inochi’s speech bubble is Team C and J. Team J, us, has a halo around it. Team C has a demon’s red horns. “He asked me to rig the teams. Young Kendo and Tokage would be Heroes while him and Young Kodai would be the Villains!”

 

All Might has a question mark above his head. He asks Inochi why he wanted to do this. The comic switches to Tokage and I, standing on flat rock. There’s a crack in the earth, dividing us apart. “He told me about the rift between them. That’s when I knew! Young Inochi would sacrifice his chance at winning to restore the friendship and camaraderie between his two close friends! And so, Operation Dragon Fist was set into motion!”

 

That’s what Inochi wanted all this time? To make Tokage and I be friends? It’s so like him to do that, but why did it had to be our Battle Trial? Why didn’t he tell me that I was being an asshole? Who am I kidding… He’ll do ridiculous things like that for me. He’s taking this “Plus Ultra” thing so beyond than anyone has gone before. To be honest, I would do the same thing for him… I should apologize after he stops being a moaning mess.

 

The next screen showcases the clips of our Battle Trial. Including the part where Tokage and I yelled at each other a lot… Jeez, I can’t believe that was what? Thirty or so minutes ago? “The Battle Trial went as planned. Team J bickered before Inochi intervened! They came together at the end, putting aside the rift that once separated them and made bridges! I might say though, the combat afterwards was a bit unsatisfying.”

 

Tokage hums, nodding her head, “Yeah… Operation Dragon Fist required Team J to lose. For me, I had to take down Kodai, which was easy, while Kendo dealt with Evil Inochi. In my opinion, Inochi would lose to Kendo regardless if we had this operation or not. Because-”

 

“Because,” I continue Tokage’s train of thought, “he purposely held back despite us wanting him otherwise. That’s why it was so unfulfilling. He had a lot of chances to counterattack, but didn’t. He was terrified of hurting me because he isn’t exactly made to subdue.”

 

“Yet, you kept slammin’ Quirkless around like a ragdoll? What the hell, Kendo?” Kamakiri adds his two cents in. That’s a uhh… Fair point. Also, why the heck is Kamakiri keep calling him “Quirkless?”

 

(“Language,” Shiozaki tells Kamakiri. Is this going to be a constant thing?)

 

A sigh of shame leaves my mouth while All Might laughs, putting his hands on his hips. “Anyway! Young Kendo, do you say that Operation Dragon Fist was successful?” Everyone’s eyes are on me.

 

I had to smile. “Yeah, Operation Dragon Fist is a success alright.” Tokage cheers and pumps her arms in the air. Everyone claps, even Yui! Well, this is one of the strangest tests I have ever taken. It feels good though, leaving my anger and hate behind me. I came out feeling a little lighter.

 

For the rest of the day, the Battle Trials continue.

 

Team A and D tied.

Team E’s and F’s fight never happened, but Team F wins by default.

Team B defeated Team H.

Team I defeated Team G.

 

I’m going to be honest, dealing with my classmates was more exhausting than my own match… Especially Kamakiri… That was another Operation Dragon Fist of its own...

 

***

 

After talking to All Might about my punishment, I catch up with the three musketeers outside U.A. Gate. Tokage and Inochi are talking to each other. Knowing them, they’re endlessly teasing each other to oblivion. Yui is simply staring and nodding, saying what’s only necessary. It’s like what happened with Kamakiri didn’t happen… Well, I should act the same.

 

“Hey guys!” I walk up to them, waving with my biggest smile. They all wave back, letting me into their group. At that moment, I punch Inochi in the shoulder.

 

“Gah!” He cries out in pain, holding his shoulder. He has a betrayed look on his face. Oh really, he’s being betrayed here? Well, it was for a good reason. “I told you that I’m sorry, Kendo!” Tokage snickers in the background.

 

“Hmph, that punch was for being a ridiculous person in general,” I give my reason, crossing my arm. (I shouldn’t be this hard on him, but it’s kinda fun. It’s a great way to cheer me up.)

 

“You know that’s my one setting. You’ll just have to deal with me for the rest of your life,” Inochi says with a smirk. That’s a bit bold of him to assume that we’ll be together for the rest of our lives, but I wouldn’t mind.

 

“Oh my God, get a room you two!” Tokage gets in between us, insuitating our “relationship.” Oh jeez right, we’re friends now. That means I’ll have to deal with more of her comments and innuendos. What did I get myself into? I turn to Yui who gives me a look that says, You have to deal with this.

 

“Tokage, don’t use His name in vain.” Inochi puts his finger up. Why is he mentioning Shiozaki’s religiousness all of the sudden? I look at Tokage, who’s blushing slightly. Eh?

 

I ask everyone, “Am I missing something here?” Tokage looks at me and quickly shakes her head. Inochi snickers to himself.

 

“I’m going to tell he-”



Tokage interrupts Inochi, practically yelling at him. “Don’t you dare! I’m not ready for her to kn-”

 

“Tokage has a crush on Shiozaki.”

 

“Yui?!” I look at her in complete shock. She said it without a single care in the world!

 

“Kodai?!” Inochi has the same look on his face!



“...You betrayed me.” Tokage hides her incredibly red face behind her green, wavy hair. Heh, to think Tokage is gay all along! I’d thought she was in madly in love with Inochi from the way she acts around him. Guess I was wrong. Now, I got a weapon of my own against her.

 

Wait a second! She has a crush on Shiozaki?!

 

“Shiozaki? Her? ” Tokage slowly nods with a pitiful hum. I never seen her like this before! It’s oddly satisfying seeing her being the one embarassed instead us. Still, she likes the devout Catholic girl. That’s so ironic that I don’t know how to react.

 

“Kodai, how do you know about that?” Inochi asks Yui, patting Tokage’s shoulder. Even though he’s there, Tokage isn’t getting out of her slump.

 

Yui answers, “I thought it was obvious.” Tokage suddenly falls to her knees, rolling up into a ball. She whines something about being obvious before mumbling random noises. Inochi sighs, putting a hand on his hip. I bend down to Tokage, giving her an encouraging pat.

 

“You’ll get her one day, Tokage! Just be patient in the meantime.” She nods her head, leaning against me for comfort.

 

“Alright… Thanks Kend-”

“What happened here?” Ojiro suddenly walks up to us. He looks at Tokage before scratching his cheek, a bit confused. Next to him is a floating uniform… Oh! This must be Hagakure! Tokage peers at who’s here and suddenly lurches up to her feet.

 

“Setsuna Tokage!” She shakes Ojiro’s hand and looks at Hagakure, trying to shake her hand too, but… Uhm, Hagakure’s invisible.

 

Hagakure grabs Tokage’s hand (I think), and shakes it with both hands. “Nice to meet you, Tokage!” She looks at Yui, Inochi, and I, practically bouncing up and down. Her energy reminds me so much of Pony!

 

“Hey you three! Ojiro told me a lot about ya! How is it like being ninjas?” A feeling of awkwardness suddenly fills the space. Who’s going to correct her? I look at Yui, she’s shaking her head. Inochi? Nope, he’s not telling her either. Tokage? Not at all. I guess I’ll do i-

 

“Hagakure, that’s not what we do. It’s like those Hong Kong martial arts movies,” Ojiro informs her. He doesn’t make those comparisons at all, but I guess he said it to help Hagakure understand. Ojiro also has an embarrassed smile on his face. “Sorry guys, Hagakure lets her imagination get the best of her.”

 

She shouts at him, “Hey! I’m right here!” Hagakure starts pounding on Ojiro’s chest, but it doesn’t look like she’s doing much. The rest of us though, we have a small smile on our faces. Imagine all the thoughts going through Inochi’s and Tokage’s heads right now.

 

“Heh, how’s Class 1-A so far?” Tokage asks them. They turn to her with a loud sigh. Jeez, is Mister Aizawa that tough on them? I heard that he was going to expel a student, but it never happened.

 

“Well, first off-”

 

BOOM!

 

What the hell is that?!

 

We turn to the explosion, staring at Bakugo and Midoriya. They’re talking about something. Well, it’s more Bakugo yelling about something. I can barely hear him screaming, “DEKU!!!” Hagakure was going to mention them, wasn’t she?

“Them. Those two are my experience at. Crazy explosion guy and small All Might. If 1-A had a face, it would be those two.” Hagakure tells us as we watch them arguing.

 

Inochi nods. “I can tell… Midoriya made a building fall on me.” Oh right, the Entrance Exam… I’m still pissed that he didn’t tell me that happened. It was so much more exciting than mine. He even met Shiozaki and Tetsutetsu too!

 

“Eh?! Midoriya’s a sweetheart though!” she protests, walking up to Inochi. Ojiro sighs, letting his tail droop down. I take a step back, moving besides Yui. I’ll let Inochi explain his experience with Midoriya.

 

Yui says to me, “Itsuka, U.A. will be very different. I can tell.” She always says the wisest things. It’s like what Grandpa said. My journey is like a cliff. It’s a metaphor for life, obviously. I gotta jump off and make my wings on the way down!

 

“Mhm, it’s already so different from middle school. Are you ready, Yui?” I ask her, turning my head to look at her usual indifferent face. For once, she has a slight smile that could melt any man’s heart.

 

“I am. Ready as I’ll ever be.” I wrap my arm around Yui’s shoulder, bringing her into my warm embrace. She presses her head against my side, observing our weird friends. It feels like yesterday that we met on the first day of middle school… Now look at us.

 

“You know Yui, I’ll be one of the best Pro Heroes out there. Just like Dad, just like Grandpa. I’ll reach my limits and go beyond. Just you wait...”

 

“I know you will,” Yui replies back, saying the words that I always needed to hear.

 

We look at everyone here. Inochi’s making jokes, brightening everyone’s day like he always does. Tokage is leaning against him, bouncing his jokes off of her own. Hagakure and Ojiro are laughing, having fun. I really needed this though. Just enjoying everyone’s company and being happy.

 

When I think about it though… All of us in U.A., even Kamakiri, are here for the same reason: To be a Pro Hero. We fought tooth and nail to get in here, and here we are. Our life is simply getting started, and it’s already exhausting. Who knows what kinds of trials U.A. will throw at us? What life has in plan?

 

We can handle it though. Because… We have the heart of a hero.

 

Honk!

 

Yui and I turn around to see a nice black car, parked against the curb. Tokage pops up, slinging her backpack around her shoulder. “That’s my ride! See you guys later!” She hugs everyone, including me. I make sure she gets an extra tight one before she leaves.

 

“Make sure you’ll be here tomorrow!” Tokage tells all of us before leaving. Her car drives away from the school, getting smaller and smaller in the city’s horizon. I remove my arm around Yui, sighing happily.

 

That’s right, U.A. is hosting its Golden Week event. A ton of Pro Heroes will be there, scouting out for any students for internships. That’s how Dad got his internship under Grandpa. He told me that Grandpa almost killed him for just saying one word to Mom. Grandpa’s excuse was, “There was a lot of trashiness in that word.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

 

Anyway, that’s enough reminiscing. I see Ojiro and Hagakure leaving after Tokage. I wave goodbye, telling them that I’ll see them soon. Yui’s next, giving me a sweet smile and walking away by herself. Inochi walks up to me with his hands in his pocket.

 

“Ready to go home?”

 

I nod. We walk home together, talking about school. He keeps apologizing for what he did, but I tell him that it’s fine. He’s way too kind for this world, but the world needs him. Eventually, we stop talking about school and silently enjoy each other’s company. Inochi has a soft smile on his face, staring at the pavement while I watch the sky, moving like a picture.

 

The clouds look really nice up there.

 

***

“That was really our beginning. Life threw so much at us. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Up and downs. Left and right. Light and shad-"



“Focus.”

 

“Heh, sorry. Where was I? Oh right! What happened after this was…”

Chapter Text

Manga Fukidashi

“Okay, Manga. You got this! You got this!” I slap myself a few times. Arrrg! I still feel freaking nervous! This usually works… Is it because of the Battle Trial? I’ll have to go against Honenuki and Rin of all people!

 

Honenuki is basically a skeleton that could eat me with one bite! With his class clown attitude, he’ll laugh while chomping down on my limbs! Rin, on the other hand, is like that well-disciplined kid! Even though he’s all formal and respectful, he knows a hundred ways to pincushion me with his Scales!

 

Oh God, I’m royally screwed! What am I going to do?! Shojo’s gonna rub my defeat in my face! She keeps telling me that I’m the stupid gag character in a shonen, and she’s right! This will be so humi-

 

“MANGA!!!”



“AHHHHHHH!”

 

SLAM!

 

“Holy crap! I’m sorry Tetsutestu!” I run over to Tetsutetsu, laying on the floor. Crap crap crap! I accidentally SLAMMED in his face in! Damn you heart! Why must you beat so fast, being fueled by my fear of being a complete idiot?!

 

I help Tetsutetsu back on his feet. He wombles to the sides a bit, but maintains his balance. “Manga… You got this! If you can knock me on the ground, then you can totally take on Honenuki and Rin!”

 

Tetsutetsu suddenly moves his fist out to me. Oh crap he’s trying to punch me! Wait, it’s standing still. Is this a fist bump? He wants me to fist bump him? Uh, let’s assume so! It’s already been a few seconds and things are getting awkward!

 

Bump!

 

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Tetsutetsu cheers, patting my back. How is he this energetic and carefree all the time? I’m kinda jealous actually… Someone like him doesn’t have to worry what everyone else does.

 

“Team A and D! It’s time for your Battle Trial!” All Might calls out to us as the doorway sign lights up. Well, it’s time to do this. I have to be like everyone else here! Not afraid of getting hurt, humiliated, losing, absolutely destroyed, and… Oh crap, I’m going to lose…

 

Tetsutetsu and I walk up to the door with Honenuki and Rin already there. Inochi gives me an encouraging thumbs-up. “Have a good match, you two! Don’t hesitate!”

 

Awase claps his hands. “Yeah dude! Show us what you’re made of, Manga!” Even Awase is rooting for me…

 

“Y-Yeah… I will…” I reply back to him. I’m so glad I’m not fighting Inochi. He’s so dang powerful… Everyone is… They’re like a protagonist, while I’m their wacky friend and comic relief (literally).

 

Tetsutetsu irons up his fist, putting it against his chest. “Hell yeah! I’ll beat the teeth outta them!” (Shiozaki glares at us! Oh shi-Crap! Tetsutetsu, why are you cursing so much around her?!)



“Iron Man! I can hear you!” Honenuki says, getting his attention. Tetsutetsu has a massive grin on his face. The one that says, I don’t care. I’m going to beat you up anyway! He’s really taking this seriously!

 

Rin glances over to shaking-in-fear me. He pats my shoulder, making me look into his eyes. “Manga, don’t be afraid. When the time comes, do what your body tells you to do.” A bell rings, signaling that it’s time to enter.

 

We walk in a long corridor with a door at the end. I don’t really pay attention how it looks, but I listen to the sounds of our footsteps back. It’s like four different rhythms mixing together into a song that’ll make conductors frown.

 

Oh man… Imagine what everyone is thinking? They’re watching us right now! This is exactly like a training arc! But… There’s usually only one battle that’s shown while the rest happens in a montage. Oh man, I really want to be in a montage now, so I don’t have to experience the pain and suffering of defeat!

 

All Might’s voice suddenly comes on the intercoms, telling Honenuki and Rin to go on in for their grace period. They go inside, abandoning Tetsutetsu and I to ourselves. He looks at me and slams his fists together. Oh crap! This time he’ll punch me for sure!

 

“Manga!!!” He yells at me at the top of his lungs.



I barely manage to whimper, “Don’t hurt me!” I put my arms over my head, shielding myself. A few seconds past as I wait for Tetsutetsu’s wrath to hit me over the head, but it never came. Did… Did I misjudge again? Oh no…

 

“I’m not gonna hurt you, man…” Tetsutetsu says in a soft voice and-?! He’s hugging me! It’s not as tight as I expected it to be though, but it’s still very very weird! Two guys shouldn’t hug like thi-

 

Pat pat

 

...

 

Before I knew it, Tetsutetsu lets go of me. He smiles widely, proud that he hugged me against my will. My entire body is on fire now, like lava boiling inside my chest. I heard enough from Shojo’s “mangas” to know where this is heading towards.

 

Wait a second…

 

“EHHH?! Why did you do that for?!” I yell at him, backing away towards the door. Tetsutetsu puts his hands up, smiling. “You looked like you needed a hug. That’s what bros are for, right?”

 

Bros?! Those kinds of bros ?! Nope nope nope! I wanna forget that this all happe-!!!

 

RIIIIIING!

 

“There’s the bell! Let’s do this Tetsutetsu!” I run towards the d-

 

“It’s not-!!!”

 

SLAM!!!

 

“Open…” Tetsutetsu sighs, watching me on the ground already… My everything hurts… This is what Inochi must feel like after Kendo threw him around… I’m not out yet, but I’m pretty close already…

 

He picks me back up on my feet as the door opens. Okay… This was a bad start for sure, but I don’t feel as nervous as before! I am hurting like crazy though… It’s like my body went ‘KABOOM’ absolutely everywhere.

 

Tetsutetsu gestures for me to follow him, finally getting our Battle Trial started. We walk the halls that Kendo and Tokage did during their match. It’s the exact same actually! That’s why Tetsutetsu wanted me to follow him, because-

 

“From last match, we know exactly where the stairs are. Here’s what we’re gonna do, Manga: We’ll charge in, fists clenched, punch the hell outta them, and rescue those hostages! You with me, Manga?!” Tetsutetsu irons his entire body up. The ceiling lights reflect off of him, shining his grey skin.

 

“Heck yeah!” I mimic his energy, pumping my fist up in the air. Hey, my heart is beating like a normal person for once! This should be a good plan as long as they stay up in their room and don’t come do-

 

“What’s up guys?”



“AHHH!”

 

Thud!

 

“Ow.” Honenuki’s head jerks back slightly. Holy shit, he scared me! He just came out of the ground like whack-a-mole! And my foot really freaking hurts! Why did Honenuki made his helmet be metal?!

 

“Ow ow ow ow!” I hold my injured foot, hopping up and down. This really hurts! Oh my God, why does it hurt so much?! Wait a second… Honenuki’s here?! Oh shit! He’s really here!

 

“Do you… Need a second, Manga?” Honenuki asks, staring at me with Tetsutetsu. Oh man, they’re judging me aren’t they?! It’s not my fault that embarrassment and I go hand-in-hand! It has a mission to make my life miserable!

 

“Nope! I’m fine! Everything’s fine, Honenuki!” I put my injured foot down, stomping the ground. Tetsutetsu looks at me and nods. Oh no, he’s going to-!

 

He screams with all of his might, “Here I come, Honenuki!!!” Tetsutetsu raises his foot and-!!!



“I’m out.” Honenuki disappears back in his quicksand puddle, going back into the ground. It solidifies right as when Tetsutetsu puts his foot down. He grits his teeth before grabbing my arm.

 

“Come on! We gotta get upstairs before Honenuki catches up with us!” Tetsutetsu tells me, dragging me deeper into the hallway. We pass the same halls that could be hiding someone, but no one’s there. I really hope Rin doesn’t come out like how Inochi did. If he does, then I might as well die of fright here…

 

“Forgive me.” Crap! Right when as I thought it, Rin’s already here! I turn my head and see him hiding out in a dark hallway to my right! He’s in the perfect position to prickle Tetsutetsu and I with his Quirk!

 

Zwipipipipipip!

 

That’s the sound of Rin’s Scales? Good to know! Tetsutetsu panics, “Man-!”



I’m already talking, “I got it!” Alright Manga, think of your training with Shojo!

 

“Remember Manga, your Quirk can reproduce the effect of the onomatopoeia! If you recreate the sound of wind, then you create wind itself!”

 

WHOOOOOOOSH!

 

“What the?!” Rin crosses his arms, guarding himself as his own Scales are sent back from my Onomatopoeias! It hits him, bouncing off his armor like a rubber ball! Man, all that Quirk training with Shojo really paid off!  

 

“I’m so sorry about this, Rin! Don’t hurt me after this!” I let go of Tetsutetsu’s arm, standing my ground against Rin. He looks at me before I open my mouth back up again.

 

You know… Kinda like Inochi’s Adoptive Muscle Memory, I can reproduce the sound of practically anything I hear! This sound will reproduce Rin’s Quirk, so a barrage of scales will come flying out of my mouth!

 

ZWIPIPIPIPIPIPIP!

 

“Ghrk!” Rin’s armor is chipped away piece by piece from my Quirk. He grunts in pain, holding his arms up and filling them with Scales. Rin swipes at my incoming projectiles, hitting them out of the air. Crap, he’s starting to adapt to my attack already! I look at Tetsutetsu, telling him with my eyes that he needs to make a move now!

 

Tetsutetsu nods and charges in. “I’ll punch through your armor, Rin!!!”

 

“I wouldn’t count on it, Tetsutetsu!” The ground beneath our feet started to waver! Damn it, Honenuki’s here! I look back at Tetsutetsu, who’s still running at Rin. Before we knew it, our feet started to sink into Honenuki’s mud. Tetsutetsu falls on his chest, trying to crawl out, but failing. The mudman himself pokes his head out and cackles before diving back in.

 

Tetsutetsu yells at Rin, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Rin though, he’s free from this mes-

 

“GAH?!” Honenuki’s pulling me in! Crap crap crap! I can’t breathe in this thing, let alone knowing how to swim like he does! Wait a second, what if Honenuki’s Softening is making the ground be similar to water?! Any sound, like a gunshot, would be amplified! Well, there’s one way to find out!

 

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

 

I scream at the mud, letting it take in my sound. Rin and Tetsutetsu winces from how loud I’m being... Ugh, I think my voice is almost spent after this! I have one more good use left before I lose my voice.

 

The good news though: Honenuki lets go of my leg! I use this moment to slowly climb out of his quicksand with Tetsutetsu, who pulls me back onto solid ground. Honenuki’s head pokes out next to Rin. Blood is dripping from the sides of his helmet. “RIN! RETREAT!”

 

We hear Honenuki screaming at Rin. Tetsutetsu grabs me once again and pulls me towards the stairs. It’s a race now! Us against Honenuki and Rin! They must have another way back to the hostage room, so I better hope we get there first!

 

Tetsutetsu and I take the stairs two steps at a time. I almost trip a couple of times, but Tetsutetsu helps me out my pulling me up. We reach the top, seeing Rin and Honenuki at the other end of the hall. Well, if this isn’t a coincidental timing! I look at Tetsutetsu, saying with my voice dying, “I’m almost out, Tetsutetsu…”

 

He nods, still in his iron form. “Alright, stay behind me, Manga!” Like a bull seeing red, he dashes up to Honenuki and Rin as I follow him. “Come get me you two! Have a taste of real steel!”

 

“Stay back!” Rin straightens his arms out, firing off a machine gun of Scales at us. His skin starts to bleed, but he keeps firing! I stay behind Tetsutetsu, letting him take them for me. I hear them clanging against his skin, bouncing to the floor. A few cracks show, but he’s staying strong!

 

“I WON’T LET THEM GET CLOSER!” Honenuki gets on one knee and touches the ground with his hands. The entire hallway floor in front of them starts to waver and soften. Oh crap, he can do that?! Like before, Tetsutetsu and I start to shrink into the ground. We try to struggle out, but Rin’s Scales are like bullets! They’re hitting Tetsutetsu, slowly breaking his ironskin apart.

 

Are we going to lose? We were so close too! I… I need to do something about it, don’t I?! I can scream at the mud, but that’s not going to do much! So, what about the ceiling? If I yell at it hard enough, it’ll crumble down on top of us! If we’re lucky, then we might make it out of here as winners!

 

“Tetsutetsu, cover your head!” I raspily say, looking up at the concrete ceiling. Tetsutetsu does what I asked. Rin and Honenuki look at each other before focusing on me. Here goes absolutely nothing!

 

BLAAAAM!

 

CRACK!

 

I used up every last of my voice! I watch as my Onomatopoeia fly against the ceiling, hitting it like a sledgehammer. Cracks form in the center, spreading around like a spiderweb. Bits of dust falls on my face. Then-!

 

CRUMBLE!

 

It falls.

 

It falls on all of us.

 

I can barely hear Honenuki yelling to take cover before it comes down crashing. Well… If I’m going to lose, then I’m a bit satisfied I was able to help Tetsutetsu despite being afraid of practically everything.

 

So, I close my eyes and let the ceiling hit me.

~~~

Togaru Kamakiri

All Might stares at the screen with a blank look on his face. Well, I’m pretty damn sure we all have a blank look on our faces. I don’t know who won, but all of them were fuckin’ crazy, especially Manga. Who knew that the frighty bastard could be so damn powerful? I’m impressed.

 

“It’s… Uhm… A tie!” All Might says after he clears his throat. “Young Kendo, Bondo, Inochi, and Kaibara... I need you all to help me get them. Team E and F should prepare for their match…” His voice trails off at the end. Heh, for the best Pro Hero in Japan, he ain’t ready for high school students.

 

“I’m coming too, Toshi,” Recovery Girl says, following them into the battlefield. I figure this’ll take a good while. Also, how the hell am I gonna prepare? I’m against Awase an’ Yanagi. I ain’t worried about Awase, but Yanagi is like Manga with an underrated Quirk. An’-



“Kamakiri! Kamakiri!” I’m with Pony of all people. I still don’t understand why she’s up in my business.

 

I snap back at her, “What is it, Pony?” Ugh, why does she repeat my name twice? I heard her for the first Goddamn time…

 

Pony chirps up with her unbelievably high-pitched voice, “I’m ready to beat the shit outta Awase and Yanagi!” The entire room goes silent an’ stare at us. Their faces… It’s the same Goddamn expression.

 

“Why are you giving me that look, Kamakiri? I’m taking after you!” Pony asks me. She looks pretty worried, but it’s hard to take her seriously with her big eyes and horns. Aw shit, everyone is thinkin’ that I’m the devil for corruptin’ innocent Pony ain’t they? Well, it ain’t gonna change what they think of me.

 

(Shiozaki is givin’ me the death stare. Like hell I’m afraid of the Catholic.)

 

“That’s the problem. Ya need to learn to leave me alone. For cryin’ out loud, you’ve been botherin’ me ever since the first day of school. You an’ your big eyes need to go off an’ talk someone else’s ear off.”

 

Pony looks at me like I killed a dog or somethin’. She has an angry look on her face, but I can’t take her seriously with how much her cheeks puff. “I like talking to you, you know! You gotta stop acting like that!”

 

“Like what? It ain’t your business how I act,” I reply back, lookin’ around at everyone else. They’re still starin’ at us like we’re a hot topic, but they’re slowly mindin’ their own business again. ‘Cept for Shiozaki. Her eyes are like daggers cuttin’ into me.

 

“Like that! None of us here are judging you for-”

 

My eyes are shootin’ bullets into her. “For what? What are ya gonna say?” Pony takes a step back with her hands together, like she’s afraid of the big, scary mantis.

 

“Uhm… Nothing! Nothing…” Her voice gets annoyingly quiet at the end. I know exactly what the hell she’s tryin’ to say, what she’s tryin’ to pull. Someone like her ain’t one to talk to someone like me.

 

“I know what you’re gonna say. It’s about him ain’t it? Why the fuck does it always hafta be about him?!” I raise my voice, gettin’ the attention of all the other assholes in the room again. Shiozaki steps forward with her hair gettin’ all floaty and shit.

 

Here it is again ain’t it? Everyone will start seein’ me as the Villain here like always. Start treatin’ me like one. Why the fuck did U.A. even fuckin’ accept me anyway? What a fuckin’ idiot am I for thinkin’ this would be any different from before.

 

Shiozaki speaks up, “Kamakiri-”

 

“Don’t you even fuckin’ start , Shiozaki,” I snap at her, grittin’ my teeth. The fuckin’ room explodes in whispers of the same damn thing. The same damned thing I heard a million times over.

 

“Why is he here?”

“Someone like him…”

“The worst of the worst…”

“He’ll be like him.”

“You know, he should just give up on being a Hero. A guy like him, he won’t do anything good with his life. Even Quirkless people are better than him.”

 

Pony takes my hand, tryin’ her damn best to bother me even fuckin’ more, like the fuckin’ things our “classmates” are sayin’ aren’t fuckin’ there! “Calm down, plea-!”

 

“Shut the fuck up!” I shove Pony off of me.

 

Thud!

 

She falls on the ground, yelpin’ in pain. At that moment, just about everyone here start shoutin’ shit at me. What a fuckin’ day this has been! They’re gonna act like I’m the fuckin’ bad guy here while they’re talkin’ shit like that!

 

“What the hell, man?!” Awase.

“What kind of person are you?!” Shoda.

“I thought you were…” Komori.

“A son does take after.” Fuckin’ Kuroiro.

“What a troublesome man you are....” Shishida.

 

“Why the fuck do ya scream at me for?! All of you played judge, jury, and executioner on me before I even gotten the fuckin’ chance! You’re just as fuckin’ bad as I am, every last one of ya bastards! Ya are puttin’ all the fuckin’ blame on me to cover how shitty ya fuckin’ are! I-”

 

“Enough.” Shiozaki sends her vines to wrap my entire body. She lifts me off of the ground and throws me to a wall, not carin’ if I’m hurt or some shit. I stand on my feet, glarin’ at Shiozaki, who’s glarin’ right back at me.

 

“Kamakiri, someone like yourself doesn’t deserve a place at this school. Not because of your blood, but from the hate you project onto others. Someone like you… Disgusts me. I hope you repent for your sins, but I doubt it.” Shiozaki turns around and leaves me behind to rot in a corner. So does everyone, my so-called “friends.”

 

After a few minutes, All Might comes out with the rest of the gang. Manga, Honenuki, Tetsutetsu, and Rin are placed in beds with Recovery Girl tendin’ to them. Now, here’s the two popular kids: Inochi and Kendo.

 

Inochi is a real asshole. Everyone fuckin’ likes him for some reason. He has that “perfect personality” that gets everyone to like him. There’s somethin’ goin’ on in that head of his. No one can’t be that nice without having somethin’ wrong with them. Just… Just like him .

 

For Kendo, what the fuck can I say? Full of herself, stubborn, and everything in between. How the hell does anyone still hang around with a girl like her? Even after the drama shit with Tokage? Oh, Shiozaki’s startin’ to chat with the wonder duo about what happened. They look over to me a few times. Heh, I think I’m about to get their wrath-

 

SLAM!

 

Kendo slams her fist on a desk. (Yup, as I expected.) She stomps over to me with Quirkless behind her. Once again, all the attention is on evil ol’ me. Inochi grabs her shoulder, tryin’ to pull her back. “Kendo, don’t do thi-”

 

Kendo shoves Inochi away. Her eyes are like a bull seein’ red. “Kamakiri, I gave you a chance to be a nice person, but what the hell did you do with it?!” She clenches her fist in front of me. What is that? An intimidation tactic?

 

(Inochi looks at me then back at Kendo, full of shock. Heh, that look says, What the fuck is going on?)

 

I tell her, not carin’ at this point, “I didn’t remember you givin’ me a chance at all.” She gives me a look that could kill. I’m not afraid though. Like hell, I’m afraid of someone like her or Quirkless here.

 

“You son of a bitch! You don’t have the right to go off on everyone like that! Or hurt Pony!” Kendo growls at me, spittin’ all over my face. She’s pretty damn angry, ain’t she? Imagine all kinds of shit she says behind my back. What a self-righteous bitch. Her and Shiozaki.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. At least I ain’t the one bad mouthin’ people behind their back. Guess that’s one thing your dad didn’t teach y-”

 

THUD!

 

Within a blink of an eye, Kendo threw a nasty punch at me. For some reason, I didn’t feel her fist crashin’ against my face, probably breakin’ a bone or two, maybe chippin’ a tooth. In another blink of an eye, I finally see why. That motherfucker…

 

“Stop, Kendo.” Inochi tells her, holdin’ her fist back. The bastard got in front me, tryin’ to protect me or some shit. Why the hell did he even do it?! Oh, I bet he didn’t even do it for me, but for her . He doesn’t want her to get in trouble for punchin’ the shit outta me.

 

Everyone lets out a gasp. No one fuckin’ dares to interrupt the three of us. Kendo pulls her fist back, starin’ at Inochi. “Inochi…? He mentioned my da-”



“I know what he mentioned. You should be mad, but punching him in the face won’t do anyone good. In fact, it’ll get both of you suspended or worse,” he explains to her, not carin’ that I’m standin’ right behind him. See though? I was right. He wanted to protect his little girlfriend.

 

“Really? Kamakiri is like a child throwing a temper tantrum! All because Pony mentioned his dad once, just once. ” Kendo tries to justify why she decided to hit me. Like hell, comparin’ me to a damn child. She doesn’t know what the fuck it’s like.

 

Inochi asks her, “What does Kamakiri’s dad have to do with anything?” Wait a fuckin’ second?! He doesn’t know?! That’s why he’s been actin’ unusually nice to me ain’t it?! It’s because he doesn’t even know who my fuckin’ dad is! Watch, he’ll turn on me in an instant.

 

Tokage butts her annoyin’ head in, explainin’ the elephant in the room, “Inochi… Kamakiri’s dad was the Executioner Wasp. He was a Villain who decapitated twenty-five people before getting caught…”

 

(“And executed,” I mutter underneath my breath. Everyone goes silent for a couple of seconds.)

 

“Inochi… You have to understand...,” Kendo’s voice gets softer, tryin’ to appeal to Inochi. She’s actin’ like this is an argument where someone can win. Who the hell treats this as a competition? The loser will get fucked sideways to hell.

 

“I do understand...” he says, turnin’ around to look at me. He has a sympathetic look in his eyes, with his irritatin’ smile. Why the hell is he givin’ me that look? “Kendo… We’re talking about this later.”

 

Of course they fuckin’ are.

 

“Ino-”



“Young ones, it’s time to stop.” All Might steps into the circle with a sad look on his face. It’s probably his first time dealin’ with shit like this. Maybe that’s why it took him a long time to come in. All Might looks straight at me.

 

“Young Kamakiri… Yelling at your classmates and pushing Young Pony is not appropriate whatsoever. You will receive after-school detention for the next two weeks, and you must write an apology to everyone in class, especially to Young Pony.”

 

He turns to Kendo and Inochi. “Young Kendo, your act of violence is not what U.A. stands for. You will receive after-school detention for the next week. I’ll be sure to let your guardians know.”

 

Then to Shiozaki. Heh, guess she’s getting punished too. “As for you, Young Shiozaki. For also inflicting violence upon Kamakiri, you will also receive a week of after-school detention.” All Might punishes the three of us before walking off to the Battle Trials screen. A heavy silence fills the room. Deafenin’, like our eardrums got blown out.



“Team E will not fight, so Team F wins by default. The next two teams should prepare for their match.”

 

 

Everyone disperses back into their own friend circles, except for me. I lean against a wall with my cloak coverin’ me. Yeah… What a good Battle Trial this was. What a good week this has fuckin’ been. You know...

 

I ain’t right, here.

 

~~~

Neito Monoma

Shiozaki and Tsubaraba quickly ended the match, defeating Shishida and Bondo. It wasn’t an exciting match like Manga’s, since Shiozaki mostly did all the work. Even though she was at a disadvantage from not being in direct sunlight, she still managed to capture the Villains without any troubles.

 

And now, it’s time for my grand debut! I, with Shoda and Kaibara, will be fighting Komori and Kuroiro. This will be an interesting match-up, indeed. To All Might’s flaw in his Battle Trials, our battleground is completely the same from match to match. What was meant to be the Villains’ advantage has become null and void. Coupled with greater numbers, my team has a great odd of success.

 

“Uhm… How are we fighting them?” Shoda looks over to Komori and Kuroiro, who’re speaking and sneaking a few side glances at the three of us. Kaibara crosses his arms, deflecting their eyes with his iron gaze.

 

“Monoma’s thinking of something,” Kaibara answers the timid Shoda, gesturing over to me, the planner. I am no Tokage, but my plan will come bearing fruit.

 

Komori’s Quirk, Mushrooms, is powerful. She can grow mushrooms anywhere . It’s safe to assume she can grow them even in our own lungs, leading to a quick demise. As for Kuroiro, he can morph into anything black. I’ve seen that Komori can grow black mushrooms, so having Kuroiro hiding in those is a possibility.

 

What we can exploit from these two…

 

“Monoma, think of something yet?” Kaibara puts a hand on my shoulder. I joyfully smile at him, turning to my two partners. They look at me intently, awaiting my masterplan! Without further adieu…

 

“It requires some… Underhanded tactics. Especially from you, Shoda,” I tell them, talking specifically to Shoda. He has an uncertain look in his eyes before reluctantly nodding. Kaibara nods too, but much more confidently. Great!

 

“Ahaha! Our victory will be inevitable!” I exclaim, loud enough for everyone in the entire room to hear, especially Komori and Kurorio. Shoda and Kaibara roll their eyes, passing off my exuberance as mere eccentricity!

 

All Might stares strangely at me before smiling brightly. “Alright! It sounds like everyone is ready! Team I and G! It is now your Battle Trial! You know the drill by now.” I whisper in Shoda’s and Kabiara’s ear before leading us towards the other team.

 

“Komori! Kuroiro! Let’s have a good match!” I wish them luck, patting their backs a tad aggressively. Komori looks a bit frightened while Kuroiro simply mumbles something about me being “a boastful man.” Shoda follows after me, patting them as well (among other things). For a chubby man, he’s quite sneaky.

 

“Good luck, Monoma. Break a leg!” Honenuki jokes, knowing how I adore the stage. I laugh, patting his back. “I will, Honenuki!”

 

“Have a good fight,” Kendo says, crossing her arms and pouting. She must be bitter over her punishment. Inochi chuckles slightly, patting her shoulder. “I guess she isn’t in the mood to scold you, Monoma.”

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll deal with Monoma when the time comes,” Kaibara says, putting himself in Kendo’s spot! Well, I certainly don’t mind him dealing with me.

 

“Komori, I wish you the best of odds during your Battle Trial,” Yanagi speaks in her usual verbose way. She meekly nods, hiding behind Kuroiro. His face turns a tad grey, turning away from Komori. Ah, well that’s something to take a mental note of.

 

All Might ushers the five of us into the grey and dull hallway. The sound of our footsteps fill the dead silence as we approach the steel door with visible bolts. All Might’s voice comes on the intercoms after the ringing of a bell. “Villains! You have five minutes to prepare! Good luck!” The door opens, letting Komori and Kuroiro go through. Now, it’s just the three mischievous musketeers awaiting for their time to come.

 

“Monoma, did you copy their Quirks?” Shoda asks me with his radar showing a couple of dots. Kaibara crosses his arms again, staring at me silently. I enjoy his soft, yet stern gaze upon me.

 

“I didn’t bother. I never told the class this, but I can only copy Quirks for five minutes at a time. The grace period is exactly five minutes, so I wouldn’t be able to use their Quirks,” I explain one part of my Quirk to them. The other part is that I can currently only copy three Quirks at a time. As of right now, I copied Gyrate and Twin Impact.

 

“Interesting. What’s the rest of the plan, Monoma? You and Shoda already placed your mines on them,” Kaibara asks me once more. I smile, putting a hand on my chest. They listen closely as I relay the plan to them. I can see their confidence growing in their faces.

 

RIIIIING!

 

“Heroes! It’s time to rescue the hostages! You may find the battlefield is rather… Strange,” All Might says, opening the door. We’re met with the sight of a hallway covered in various types of mushrooms. In fact, everything is covered in mushrooms! Any artificial light is mostly covered too… What a strange battlefield indeed, but I, of course, knew Komori would do this!

 

“Oh goodness! She really did it! How can we walk through this without breathing in her spores?” Shoda’s head shrinks in his suit slightly, his faith wavering. I chuckle, patting his shoulder.

 

“We’re already infected, Shoda. She would have won if she had chosen to grow mushrooms in our throats and lungs, but she didn’t. Komori’s too much of a kind woman to do that,” I assure Shoda. He nods, looking at his radar then at Kaibara. (Good, Kuroiro will not be able to hide from us.) Kaibara is the first one to step into the hallway, bringing his arms out.

 

“Let’s go,” he tells Shoda and I before walking down the hall. Shoda keeps a close eye on his radar, directing us towards Kuroiro’s position. He separated himself from Komori for some odd reason. He fancies her, so I’d thought he’ll be her knight in shining black armor! The Romeo to her Juliet! With a good ending, of course.

 

The three of us stop at a corner. Around it is Kuroiro, blocking our path to the other stairway. It seems he’s bold enough to fight all three of us at once! I have to admit, that type of boldness impresses even me! Kaibara holds up three fingers, counting down.

 

Three.

 

Two.

 

One!

 

We turn the corner. Kaibara and I activate Gyrate, rotating our arms. However, I stop. I finally know why Kuroiro is simply standing still like the statue of Ozymandias! Because… He isn’t there. His costume is. Shoda and I didn’t place any mines on Kuroiro himself, but on his clothes. So, Kuroiro figured this out and decided to remove his costume! All around us are pitch black mushrooms too. What a clever man! He led us into his trap!

 

Shoda frantically looks around and questions, “Where is h-?!”

 

“...Dark Abyssal Assault!” Kuroiro!

 

He emerges from the mushroom behind Shoda and kicks him from behind, morphing into a different mushroom. Within a second, flashes of Kuroiro assaults Shoda with a variety of punches and kicks, blending and hiding with each attack. Shoda falls on one knee on the brink of defeat. Kuroiro stands in front of him with a sly smile. Kaibara takes a step forward, but I stop him.

 

“Shoda… I apologize for this.” Kuroiro raises his fist and-!

 

“LAUNCH!”

LAUNCH!!!

 

SLAM!!!

 

Kuroiro is suddenly launched into a wall with his hands and the soles of his feet acting like jets, crushing the mushrooms against his back. He groans in absolute pain, sliding to his knees. He stares at Shoda, unknowingly how he felt the force similar to Kendo’s punch a dozen times! And from Shoda nonetheless!

 

How? Well, I believe I just figured it out!

 

“Kuroiro! You forgot about Shoda’s amazing Quirk! He can recreate the impact of any initial strike, multiplying its force tenfold! Even though Shoda never struck you, you struck him . That means the initial impact was you, hitting Shoda! You sealed your own fate at moment you attacked him! Ahahaha!”

 

Kuroiro sighs, bowing his head. “A clever trick… You deserve this win, Shoda.” He sits against the wall, wincing in pain. Kuroiro, the black schemer, has been defeated! Now, it’s time for Komori!

 

Kaibara walks up to Shoda, bending down on one knee. “Can you still fight, Shoda?” Shoda shakes his head, sitting against the wall across from Kuroiro. “N-No, I think I’m spent... You two go ahead without me…”

 

I nod, turning towards the distant stairs that leads up to Komori. “Thank you, Shoda! We’ll win in your honor!” Kaibara and I go off in a run. We quickly climb the steps, squishing any mushrooms beneath our feet. At last, we reach a double door covered in blue mushrooms.

 

Kaibara shivers slightly before putting his hands on the handles, pulling them open. Komori is there standing in the middle of the room. Like the entire battlefield, it’s covered in mushrooms, including the hostages. The woman herself is wearing her bright and jovial mushroom-themed costume. Her eyes appear from her bangs, accompanied with a smile fitting for an idol!

 

“You finally came to my show! You will face the one and only… Shemage!”

 

Poof!

 

The mushrooms in behind her explode in colorful clouds of spores. Komor-Shemage curtsies before looking around. “You may have defeated Kuroiro, but you will not defeat me!” Shemage exclaims, prancing around the room. She even stops to pat a child dummy’s head! Hehe… A true woman of the stage!

 

“Shemage! Have you ever heard of a phantom thief?” I mirror her steps, circling around the room with her. Kaibara stays back at the entrance of the room, wearing a confused expression.

 

“A phantom thief? No, I haven’t. Would you elaborate for me? After all, I’m a shroomy kind of girl!” I have no idea what that implies, but I will!

 

“Well, a phantom thief is a special kind of thief. One who steals something that is not only valuable, but priceless. Like an ancient jewel that would look beautiful on you.” I explain to Shemage, tapping a few mushroom caps.

 

“You’re kind, Monoma, but what would a phantom thief do here? There’s nothing here of value! Well, except my shroomtastic mushrooms of course! So, what game are you playing at?” Shemage asks me with a confident smile on her face.

 

“Who can say? A phantom thief are tricksters. They say left when they mean right. They have a hand out while keeping the other behind. In fact, one would plan for their partner to attack right now, but that’s predictable isn’t it?.” I tap more mushrooms, standing near the end of the room. Komori’s in the middle while Kaibara’s behind her. He doesn’t dare to attack Komori, as I exposed the plan to her.

 

“Hmph. That would be an obvious thing to do. But Monoma… You’re alluding that you’re a phantom thief yourself. What will you steal from me? My heart?” Shemage puts a hand to her heart, uncertain of my ability. Well well….

 

“Not your heart, no. You see, a true phantom thief knows their mark! They know exactly how to operate! That is the glory of it all! They steal what’s precious without their victim knowing, only until it’s too late! Like now!” I cross my arms, bellowing a hearty laugh.

 

“What the shroom do you mea-?!”

 

Poof poof poof!

 

From the columns and walls, the mushrooms (specifically, puffballs) release their rainbow-like clouds of spores into Shemage! She curses, “Mush!!!” I activate my mines on Shemage. From her dark figure in the clouds, she falls on the ground groaning in pain. Kaibara runs up and restrains Shemage before she has a moment to think!

 

I clap, sauntering over to Shemage. “Shemage! This Phantom Thief has stole the treasure of victory from you! Ahahahaha!”

 

RIIIING!

 

“The Heroes have defeated the Villains! Come back to the monitoring room!” All Might says, confirming my victory over Kuroiro and Komori! Kaibara releases Komori from his grasp. She dusts her dress off before looking down sadly.

 

“I’ll get you next time, Phantom Thief…” she grumbles before trodding out of the room. Kaibara smiles, approving of our success. I knew we would be victorious today! What a great feeling this is!

 

Nevertheless, we go back to the monitoring room with the rest of our class. We’re met with applause and praise! Except for Kamakiri, of course… I don’t envy his situation, but I do wish I could help him in someway.

 

Shoda has a proud smile on his face. Kendo comments, “Your Quirk is just like my grandpa’s, Shoda. I think it’s already more powerful than his!” From her comment, he couldn’t help but blush. Being compared to Master Kendo of all Heroes? It’s a massive compliment!

 

“I-It’s not that powerful, but thank you for the compliment…” Shoda replies back, still being so humble and modest! He’s the best of us for sure!

 

Awase puts an arm around Kaibara’s shoulder. “Sucks you didn’t get to do much, Kaibara.” Kaibara shrugs, turning his attention to me. “I don’t mind. Even though Monoma’s plan to defeat Kuroiro went awry, it still worked out.”

 

I laugh, catching Shiozaki’s disapproving glance. “You are a deceitful man, Monoma.” Shiozaki remarks with a frown.

 

I shrug, pushing my hair back.  “Someone like me can only achieve victory this way, Shiozaki. If you strive to do things fairly, then I won’t judge. However, that might cost you one day.” She huffs and turns her back towards me.

 

All Might quiets down the class and gathers us around him. We go over the match with my comrades offering constructive criticism. It goes on until the end of the school day. All Might congratulates all of us for participating and fighting in his Battle Trials (with irony that everyone can certainly feel). We go back to our locker rooms, changing back into our U.A. school uniforms.

 

On my way to leave, Shoda approaches me. “H-Hey Monoma… I wanted to thank you for… For winning the match. I’m sorry that I couldn’t do much…” Hmm?

 

“You’re sorry that you couldn’t do much? Shoda please! You defeated Kuroiro after he ambushed us! If you didn’t use your Quirk in such a creative manner, then Kaibara and I would surely be defeated! You are the saving grace of our match! Be proud!” I assault him with an onslaught of compliments. He looks at me before shaking his head.

 

“There’s a lot more powerful people than me though. You, Kendo, Honenuki, Manga, Tetsutetsu, practically everyone in our class! With how loud and powerful they are… Someone like me will get ignored…” Shoda’s voice trails off with disappointment and sadness in his voice. I stop in my tracks, looking at him.

 

“Shoda, they are the ones who bathe in the limelight, that’s true. But… Don’t let that stop you! Instead of following their spotlights like a cat following a light, create your own! You may be a supporting character on someone else’s stage, but you are truly the star of your own play. Remember that, Shoda.”

 

Shoda stares at me. A few seconds pass before he smiles brightly, nodding. “I will, Monoma! Thank you!”

 

“Don’t thank me, Shoda. Thank yourself.” I make my exit, walking through the door. The light hits my face, welcoming me back to the stage. The birds are chirping with their tune, gliding along the cool wind. Kaibara awaits me near the stairs with a slight smile.

 

“Waiting for me, Kaibara?  I’m flattered someone like you would wait for someone like me!” I walk down the steps, moving alongside Kaibara. He shrugs, putting his hands in his pocket.

 

“Someone has to look after you,” he snarkily replies back. And so we leave U.A. after an exciting day of Battle Trials. What will tomorrow’s day bring to Class 1-B?

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

“Good morning, Hayami.” I greet her with a smile on my face, passing a cup of coffee over to her. It’s the same coffee brand, Kendo’s (and Hayami’s) favorite. I could make a list about how similar these two are, it would stretch all of Japan.

 

“Thanks, Sanji. How was night training? What did you work on this time?” she asks me, sitting down on a chair. She quietly sips her coffee, making a slight noise doing so. Chalk that up with another thing they have in common.

 

“Well, it was mainly my grappling hook skills. That and I’ve been working on toning my overall body. So, it’s the same old same old.” I answer her, putting some of the dishes away. She puts her mug on the counter, smiling slightly.

 

“Heh, you’re welcome by the way. I had to go through like… Five prototypes until I got your grappling hook to be just perfect,” she says, and she’s pretty much on the dot. The grappling hook is perfect. (Tokage can attest to that, considering that I yanked her across a hallway.)

 

“Thank you, Hayami. You know, you never told me much about you being a support scientist. Or a blacksmith. Or an engineer…” I put the rest of the dishes and plates away, leaning against the sink. She has an annoyed expression on her face. Her eyes definitely say, This is coming from you.

 

“I’ll tell you something if you tell something about yourself,” she makes a deal with me. I might as well take her trap, so I nod, agreeing to it. “Alright, how long have you been training like this?”



I ask her, “Like what?”

 

“Like, spending virtually every night pushing your body to the brink and only getting about what? One to three hours of sleep? That senile man who, by the way, can sleep like a bear, is stopping me from doing anything about this. I seen how sore you are. It feels like we’re abusing you, Sanji...”

 

She cups her hands gently around her mug, her finger brushing gently on the pale porcelain. My body feels a lot heavier than before. For her to mention abuse like that… It’s silly. Hayami is far from an abuser. She’s a mother who specializes in tough love. Love that I never felt in my other foster homes, maybe except for Gin. Something like this… It makes me want to cry tears of joy.

 

“That’s far from the truth. I never had anything like this when I was growing up. It was all… Well, you don’t need to worry about that. I’m the happiest I could be, even with training myself to the brink every night. In fact, the pain makes me feel like I’m doing something good with my life, you know?” I answer her with a bright smile on my face. She looks at me with her mouth slightly open before shaking her head at me, acting like I’m crazy.

 

“Sanji, I never knew you were this much of a masochist, but I’m happy that you’re happy. When you first got here, I thought you would be a troublesome kid. Itsuka too! She kept complaining over and over-”

 

Wait a second?!

 

I interrupt her, “Was she the reason why our middle school thought that I was a delinquent?!”

 

Siiiiiiiip

 

Oh my God. “I’m going to… Nevermind. It’s your turn to tell me about being in U.A,” I remind Hayami of our deal. She stops drinking her coffee to chuckle to herself.

 

“Alright, I guess you already know that I was in the Support Department in U.A. Kaito was in the Hero Course. We first met outside the Development Studio where I almost blew him up when he wanted something for his costume. After that, he pretty much fell in love with me right then and there. He was a stupid romantic, but...” Her voice trails off, dragging her finger along the rim of her mug. She must be remembering something about Kaito… I should ask something else to lighten the mood.

 

I find the perfect question to ask, “Think Kendo will find a man?”

 

Hayami laughs, “Pfft! If she stops scaring away all the men, then she’ll find someone. What about you, Sanji? What lucky person has your heart?”

“You should know that he isn’t interested in anyone, Mom,” Kendo comes downstairs wearing her U.A. uniform. She takes her (still) nice and hot cup of coffee, taking a gentle sip. I nod at Hayami, telling her that Kendo’s right. (And it seems like she didn’t hear the first part of what Hayami said.)

 

(Now, both of them are sitting in front of me, enjoying their coffee… I feel like I’m a barista in a coffee shop. I would be the best at brewing coffee. Ah, the art of coffee-jitsu… Easy to learn, hard to master.)

 

“You know Inochi, you would make a great barista. All you need is the right clothes and you would be one of the best baristas out there. You’ll get customers lining up to get a taste of your famous coffee. Already got two regulars,” Kendo says exactly what I’m thinking.

 

Speaking of love and romance...

 

“I was just thinking that! Let me set the scene for you, Kendo. In another universe, Tokage would work for me. There’s a regular that stops by often, always ordering the same thing. This regular though, she’s a stunning woman with flowing green hair like she’s the child of Mother Nature herself. Tokage, being a mess, couldn’t help but be infatuated by her, falling in love with practically everything about her. I notice this, because it’s so obvious and blatant, but everyone is somehow inexplicably unable to see it! Anyway… Being a good friend and coworker, I tease her for days, edging her to make a move. She doesn’t, because her doubts are filling her mind, poisoning her with fear. That’s when a plan is devised! A plan to-”

 

Siiiiiiiip

 

“Are you two even listening to me?!” I chastise them, who’re rudely sipping their coffee while I’m going on about how much of a mess Tokage would be! So much for being the best barista in the world...

 

“I stopped listening after the ‘Mother Nature’ part,” Kendo admits, sighing happily after a sip of coffee that I brewed for her .

 

Hayami adds in with her own comment, “I didn’t know Tokage was gay, and isn’t the green-haired girl that Shiozaki? The Catholic one?”

 

Kendo hums, “That’s the one. Don’t tell anyone about Tokage. What you need to tell is us tips about today’s event? What do you got?”

 

Hayami finishes her coffee, putting it down on the counter. She looks at the both of us before saying, “One, don’t punch any of your classmates. Two, Pro Heroes will have stalls asking for demonstration of skill. That’s when you should punch something, probably not a classmate. Three, do something big and spectacular. Again, not by punching a classmate.”

 

Kendo pouts, grumbling, “I got it, Mom… I won’t punch anyone today…” Hayami turns to me, but I give her a shrug, gesturing that I have no idea what to do with her.

 

“I don’t know, Hayami. I already talked to Kendo yesterday, but she’s a handful. I can’t count how many times she almost punched a bully back in middle school,” I comment like Kendo isn’t there, putting Hayami’s mug in the sink. Kendo opens her mouth like she couldn’t believe the words I’m saying.

 

(I’m glad she was there though, unlike back in Kibo. I didn’t even say goodbye to my classmates, but they all treated me like I was nothing… Like-)

 

“This is coming from you! You’re more of a handful than I am! I can’t count how many times I see you sore from you training so damn much!” she argues back, but I shake my head, smiling.

 

Bzzt!

 

That must be the disaster whose name is Tokage. She is a convenient way to get myself out of this situation. I pull my phone out and I’m right! She texted me that she’s here, waiting outside with Haruto. I don’t know why she offered to take us to U.A. (There must be an ulterior motive.)

 

“It’s time to leave, Kendo. Our queen’s here with her steed,” I tell her, bowing with my hand to my chest. Kendo rolls her eyes, finishing her coffee and slinging her bag over her. She kisses Hayami on her cheek before walking to the door.

 

“Alright Mom, Tokage is waiting for her knight.” Kendo says goodbye where I simply wave. We walk out the door with a luxurious black car parked against the curb. That’s Tokage, alright. Just thinking about getting in this car makes me feel rich...

 

“After you, Kendo.” I gesture towards the car, letting Kendo go in first. She opens the door and get inside with me following her. Man… Inside here is exactly what I’d expected it to be. Soft seats, a lot of buttons (that I have no idea what they do), a mini-bar with food and drinks, and my very own Setsuna Tokage.

 

“Morning Tokage,” Kendo greets her, putting on her seatbelt. I do too, greeting Tokage with a small little wave. Haruto’s in the seat in front of Tokage, being our chauffeur… That word makes me feel even more rich… and French-y.

 

“Morning right back at ya! Also, I have something to confess-”

 

Another voice appears in the seat in front of me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Kendo. And hello again, Mister Inochii.” Oh crap! I recognize that voice… It’s Tokage’s father! He’s joining us to U.A.?!  I met him before, but after hearing he’s one of the most powerful men in the world?! I could die if I say the wrong things!

 

“M-Mister Tokage! I didn’t know you were riding with us!” I exclaim, trying to bow, but I can’t since… I’m in a car. What the heck is wrong with me?! I gotta calm down and not think about angering Mister Tokage! What the heck can I do in this situation?!

 

Kendo rolls her eyes at me, smiling towards Mister Tokage. “Don’t worry about Inochi. He’ll figure himself out in a couple of minutes or so.” Him and Tokage laugh at me. I never thought anyone could laugh professionally, but Mister Tokage can pull it off…

 

Haruto starts to drive towards U.A., finally moving us along. I can barely see Mister Tokage typing on a laptop, presumably doing some work. Kendo, Tokage, and Haruto are talking about what Pro Heroes will be at the event today. I didn’t join in because my heart keeps beating a million…

I somehow tune out their conversation though, letting my eyes stare out the window. Houses and people go by, becoming a blur of colors mixing into one amalgamation. It’s… Peaceful. My heart starts to slow down as I watch Musutafu slowly erupts into its bustling self.

 

Ever since I came here, it’s all been constant training and focusing on U.A. Everyday and every night was training. So far, out of the six or so months here, I only took five nights off. My body’s been sore as long as I can remember, but the pain is getting duller and duller. When Kendo punched my hand yesterday, hurt a lot , but it was nothing compared to the first time she punched me. Kendo hasn’t gotten weaker (the opposite actually), but I have gotten stronger.

 

Speaking of that… There’s the elephant in the room: Kamakiri. I understand why Pony’s been talking to him a lot. I’ve been bullied (so much) throughout my entire life for being “basically Quirkless”, but him ? I can’t even imagine what bullying he went through. It’s no wonder that he redirects his anger at everyone else, why he isolates himself from our class, and why he feels that everyone hates him. If anyone was in his position, who wouldn’t be that way?

 

He fulfills a cycle of self-hate too. Kamakiri thinks everyone hates him, so acts like he hates everyone. Everyone hates him as a result, and thus his insecurity grows and he believes that everyone is out to get him. Maybe his Battle Trial wakes him up a bit, showing him his own self-destructive ways. Or maybe he gets even worse because Kendo almost punched him. It doesn’t excuse what Kamakiri did though, but I understand why.

 

Also, for the first time in ever, I actually seriously scolded Kendo about it. It was obvious things like not punching people and trying to understand people like Kamakiri. I manipulated her by comparing Kamakiri to myself, so she would naturally agree with me. As a result, we both decided that we needed to talk to Kamakiri today, if he’s at the event. He might not come to schoo-

 

Kendo nudges my shoulder, letting reality make itself back at home. She smiles and gestures towards Tokage. I ask her, “Uhm, what happened? What did you say this time?” Tokage has a mischievous look on her face again.

 

“Well, I was talking about our Battle Trial. You’re practically a handsomer, Pro Hero version of Stain. If you didn’t hold back that is.” (Oh, of course Tokage found out that I was holding back in my fight with Kendo.)

 

“Hey, I was afraid that I would seriously hurt Kendo,” I defend myself. (I think? It’s hard to tell when she throws in flirts like that.) She rolls her eyes and leans back in her seat..

 

“That didn’t stop you from blowing us up. Seriously Inochi, you could be one of the best fighters in U.A.,” Tokage advises me. Well, her compliment is nice and all, but “one of the best fighters?” There’s a lot of reasons why I can’t apply to that bold statement. (Here’s one: Katsuki Bakugo.)

 

Mister Tokage closes his laptop, turning his head over to the three of us. “Mister Inochi, remind me again, you can’t use your Quirk, correct?” Crap, the spotlight’s on me now! My heart starts to beat faster again.

 

“Th-That’s correct, Mister Tokage sir. But-”

“But Inochi told us that he has Adoptive Muscle Memory. Let’s say he watches someone pulling off a backflip. Inochi could do that without even trying,” Tokage helps me out by explaining my situation to him.

 

Mister Tokage nods his head and hums. I can’t tell if it’s of approval, or he’s taking information in and processing it. “Interesting. It can’t be considered a Quirk on its own, since it’s a passive enhancement. For example, Beowulf. He can transform himself into a werewolf with super strength and among other things. The super strength isn’t itself the Quirk, rather the transformation. Thus, in all cases of passive enhancements, it stems from one’s actual Quirk, which you don’t know, correct?”

 

“C-Correct…” I instinctively agree with him, lying right in front of everyone. I’m afraid of telling him otherwise that I know what my Quirk is…

 

But, I guess this is good to know. My Adoptive Muscle Memory is actually apart of my Quirk, so I’ve been passively using it. That means my Mindscape is apart of it too, but more of a thing I can activate. Thanks to Monoma, it’s also an Accumulation-type, meaning the Dreams I store are my “power”. Just… What the heck is it?! It’s like life decided to throw random things into me.

 

“We’re here,” Haruto ends our conversation, stopping the car in front of the entrance to U.A. There’s a ton of people walking inside. Mister Tokage sees this and sighs, like he isn’t finished talking to me.

 

“Haruto, bring the girls inside. I need to have a conversation with Mister Inochi, alone,” Mister Tokage tells him. My eyes go wide, turning to Kendo and Tokage. They look at me with eyes that says, You can handle this. Haruto gets out of the car, signaling that Kendo and Tokage need to leave. They reluctantly do so, leaving Mister Tokage and I alone.

 

Mister Tokage turns around in his seat and says to me...

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

“Here you are, girls. You should head to your classroom for the event. Your teacher must be there,” Haruto says after escorting us to the gate. He takes off his blue cap and puts it to his chest, bowing slightly.

 

“Thanks again, Haruto. Come on, Kendo! Our class awaits!” Tokage yanks me by the hand, leading me inside. The cool air hits my face as the ceiling lights decide to blind me for a few seconds. Jeez, why is Tokage in such a rush today?

 

“Woah! What about Inochi?” I ask her, looking back at Tokage’s car, where Haruto is walking towards. Dang, the car windows are tinted black, so I can’t see if he’s doing okay or not. Inochi’s nerves will get the best of him… He’ll say something stupid.

 

“He’ll be fine! It’s cute that you’re worried about him, but 1-B needs its leader,” she tells me with a wink. There she goes again with Inochi and I. From how many comments she made about us, I’d be richer than her dad.

 

“Well, I don’t know if I would call myself a leader. There’s a lot of people in our class who can take that role, Tokage. Especially you.” She lets go of my hand, snickering. She spins on her feet and faces me, walking backwards now.

 

“Kendo, I might be a prodigy, but you are so much more charismatic than I am! That’s why everyone goes to you for help and support! You’re the big sister of 1-B!” she explains to me with a genuine look on her face. Well, I can’t argue with her, but there’s Kamakiri...

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened yesterday. Especially when Inochi scolded me about Kamakiri. (Guess he’s the big brother of 1-B.) Like Tokage, he made me see a different picture of him. (I don’t know why he did Operation Dragon Fist rather than telling me straight out, but I’m marking it off as him being ridiculous.)

 

As for Kamakiri, maybe we need another operation. Even though I only know him for a week or so (not that well), he’s been bullied so much. It’s one thing being Quirkless in this world, like Inochi (legally, at least), it’s completely another to be the child of an actual Villain. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for Kamakiri…

 

“Thinking about Kamakiri?” Tokage asks me, stopping in the middle of the hall. I guess she noticed me thinking to myself. (This is must what Inochi feels like, huh?)

 

“Yeah… I need to apologize to him. If he’s here, that is. Since I’m the Tokage-proclaimed leader of 1-B, then I need to fix things between us.” I sigh, looking at the ground in shame. A hand suddenly lands on my shoulder.

 

“Good thing I’m here to help,” Inochi beams, showing Tokage and I his world-famous smile. He looks relatively alive. The talk wasn’t that serious nor life-threatening then.

 

Tokage smiles back and skips up to him. “Inochi! You’re alive! Why did Dad make you stay back?” He takes his hand off of my shoulder, awkwardly scratching the back of his head like he always does.

 

“Well… He basically interrogated me if we were dating. I told him that we’re really close friends. I didn’t tell him that… You know… You prefer something other than men,” he tells us before sighing in relief. “I thought I was gonna die…”

 

“Cheer up! Now come on!” Tokage starts walking back to class being happiest person in the world. (If I’m the leader of 1-B, then why is she leading us? I mean, she’s in a happier mood than usual. It’s probably from her dad and Shiozaki, which reminds me that I should talk to her myself. She also got punished by All Might.)

 

Anyway, we walk into class where everyone else is at. Mister Kan is inside with a ton of names on the board, all of them being Pro Heroes. I recognize most of them except a few, which means they aren’t that famous. Out of the corner of my eye, Inochi darts his head back and forth, looking for something. His (very concerned) eyes land on Tokage and I. “Kamakiri isn’t here.”

 

I ask him, “Really” I look around the class, and he’s right… Kamakiri isn’t here today. I considered that to be a possibility, but I never thought he wouldn’t come today… It’s one of the most important days besides the Sports Festival. (I take a look at Pony. She doesn’t look that happy.)

 

Awase notices us. He takes Inochi by the arm, moving all of us to the side of the classroom. There’s a foreboding look on his face. “Didn’t you guys hear? Kamakiri’s dropping out of U.A.”

 

What?!

 

“Eh?!” Inochi loudly whispers, shaking Awase’s shoulders. “What the heck do you mean? He can’t just drop out!” Tokage holds onto her arm, her eyes changing from child-like excitement to shame. I hear Inochi questioning Awase about Kamakiri, but their conversation is getting distant before I can’t even hear them at all.

 

Why does these things happen so damn fast? One day, I’m dealing with Tokage and now, it’s Kamakiri. He can’t just drop out of U.A. like that, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The best chance to be a Pro Hero. If he’s dropping out, then he’s giving up on that dream. Doesn’t he want to prove that he isn’t his father’s son? If he’s giving up on even that…

 

It doesn’t matter. I’ll make him reconsider if it’s the last thing I do.

 

“Kendo,” Inochi gets my attention with Awase nodding behind him, “did you hear? Kamakiri talked to Principal Nezu about it. He has until Monday to finalize his decision. That means we only got today and tomorrow to convince him.” Looks like Inochi and I are on the same wavelength.

 

“Don’t you have that church thing with Shiozaki tomorrow?” I ask him, reminding him of his date with Shiozaki. (When he told me about it, I laughed for a long time that I started to cry.) He glances over at her before shaking his head, gesturing that he’ll cancel it.

 

“She’ll understand. We should get the entire class on this too. If he sees that all of us here genuinely care about him, then he’ll reconsider,” Inochi tells me the plan. How exactly should we do it though? Maybe Tokage or Awase kn-

 

(Speaking of Tokage, she perks her head up.) “Our second operation? Then, I already got the name! It’s called Operation Jack Mantis ! I’m using my executive power, as the queen of 1-B, to make that the definitive name,” she names our second operation. It has a nice ring to it, but why is naming this on our priority list?

 

“Alright,” I say, gathering their attention, “I’ll be spearheading Operation Jack Mantis then. I should have a mental plan after the event is finished.” I look over to Awase, being the odd one out in this situation. ”Awase, are you with us?”

Awase slams his fists together. “Hell yeah. Just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it, Kendo. You can count on me!” Inochi and I exchange a pleased look. That’s one down, sixteen more to go.

 

“Yo! What’re you guys talking about?” Manga walks up to us with his hands in his pocket. He looks around at all of us with a curious look on his face. Suddenly, his head snaps to a wall between Tokage and Awase. What is he looking a-

 

?!

 

“What the hell?!” Awase swears, jumping back from whoever the hell this is! Tokage gets behind Inochi while Manga is completely frozen! It’s like the color from his body disappeared from him! It’s all because whoever this guy is?!

 

His eyes, if I can call blue ovals “eyes”, slowly drag across his face like he’s analyzing what to do. His mouth opens to a wide, and admittedly freaky, smile. “Hi!”

 

Manga takes a deep breath in… And faints. Inochi is barely able to catch him, picking up his legs and carrying him like a bride. Tokage and Awase gesture for me to question this guy. (Why do I have to do it?)

 

“Who… Who are you?! You scared Manga half to death!” I ask the random guy, who has some sort of phasing Quirk, and gesturing over to Manga. His head drifts along the wall, stopping where he’s facing Mister Kan’s desk.

 

Mister Kan notices him and lets out a loud sigh, shaking his head. “I should have known it was you, Togata. Could you not scare the first-years? I asked you to give them advice, not give them a heart attack. Where’s Hado and Amajiki anyway?” (They must be our seniors.)

 

“Your Hado is right here, Mister Kan!” A navy-haired girl (Hado) walks into the room, dragging a dark-haired boy with elf ears (must be Amajiki) behind her. Togata pulls his head out of the wall, walking into the classroom last. For a weird-looking guy, his physique is really amazing! Much stronger than I am... (Awase, Tokage, and I go back to our seats.)

 

Hado drops Amajiki off at the front of the room, prancing over to Inochi and Manga. She shares a welcoming glance with Inochi before poking Manga’s head, causing him to wake up. He expresses a question mark and slowly turns to Hado. “Morning, sleepy head! A man’s arms isn’t a good place to sleep in, you know!” she exclaims with a big smile.

 

“Whoa whoa whoa wait! I-”

 

Thud!

 

Manga falls out of Inochi’s arms and lands on his butt. He quickly runs over to his seat, burying his face in his arms. What I can see of his face is… Really red. Inochi sighs and sits down behind Awase. I turn back towards Yui, who’s been silently observing like she always does. She looks over to Kamakiri’s empty desk and nods, telling me that she’s helping. Fifteen more to go.

 

Mister Kan stares at the big three with a really regretful look on his face. “You kids…” he mutters under his breath. “Alright! These three here has some tips to share with you about today’s event. Why don’t you introduce yourselves? Togata takes a step forward, crossing his arms in a weird way. Hado forces Amajiki to stare at the class, but his gaze wanders towards the floor. (Amajiki must be a shy man, like how Inochi was when I first met him. Well… Not this shy.)

 

“I’ll go first!” Togata says, pointing his thumb to himself. “Mirio Togata! I’m a third-year working for the Nighteye Agency. If you saw me earlier, that was my Quirk, Permeation! In simple terms, I’m able to phase my body through virtually anything and anyone! That’s about it… Hmm… Tamaki, I’m passing the torch to you!”

 

(Wasn’t Nighteye a sidekick for All Might?)

 

Amajiki’s body jerks forward slightly when Togata said that. He lets out a poor whimper. “I… I don’t want the torch, Mirio… Too hot…” Togata shakes his head, edging Amajiki on using his eyes. He looks back and seemingly has a conversation with eyes. (Like what Yui and I do.) A few quiet seconds pass… Is he going to ta-?!

 

Slam!

 

Nope. He slammed his head against the wall. Hado frowns, tugging on his shirt. He doesn’t react at all. Hado turns towards the rest of us with a smile, assuring that Amajiki is fine. “Don’t worry! This shy man here is Tamaki Amajiki. His Quirk is called Manifest. He’s able to transform his body into anything he eats!”

 

Hado giggles and takes a step forward. “And last, but certainly not least, is me! Nejire Hado! You can call me Nejire! My Quirk is called Wave Motion! I can shoot spirals of energy out of my body. And…” she drifts off, staring at Kuroiro. She points at him with a curious look on her face. “Kuroiro right? How can someone see you at night?”

 

(“I am the night,” Kuroiro responds… Uhm, I’m not sure how to react to that.)

 

“Oh Manga Manga! You’re like a real life manga panel! How can you eat though?” she asks Manga, who still has his head down. He mumbles something, but no one can understand him. Nejire turns to Shiozaki with a finger pointing at her thorny hair. “Shiozaki, how do you brush your hair with all those thorns?”

 

(Shiozaki answers her with a slight blush on her face, “I-I have a special bru-”)

 

And Nejire turns to Pony. “Oh Pony! How do you put on a shirt everyday with those adorable horns?” I can’t hear what Pony said, but her voice sounded really excited. Togata laughs to himself, looking over to Mister Kan.

 

(Is Nejire going to ask these questions everyday?)

 

“Vlad King, can I bother one of your students for a moment?” he asks him. Amajiki picks his head off the wall and whispers something to Togata, but Mister Kan interrupted them with a loud sigh. “Alright, don’t hurt them too badly.”

 

Togata gives him a thumbs up and a smile. “I won’t!” He turns to Awase, moving his head over to look at… Inochi? Oh no, he’ll be way too nervous for whatever Togata wants. “Inochi! Come up here would you?” Inochi opens his mouth in disbelief, looking over to Yui and I.

 

You got this , I tell him with my eyes. His eyes quickly moves left and right, saying, Nope! I don’t want to do this!

 

Togata edges Inochi further, “Come on, Inochi! Don’t be shy like Tamaki.” Begrudgingly, Inochi gets out of his seat and walks to the front of the room. Nejire stops talking to Honenuki (who’s blushing), facing those two with her mouth open slightly.

 

(Why would Togata want Inochi of all people? The only special thing about him is… He can’t use his Quirk. That’s why Togata wants him. To everyone, it’s a miracle that someone like Inochi is in U.A., but he’s passively using his Quirk from what Tokage’s dad said.)

 

“What’s your secret?” Togata asks him without breaking the smile on his face. “Mister Kan told me that you have Adoptive Muscle Memory, but that could only take you so far! So, what’s your secret for getting into U.A.?”

 

Inochi’s body jerks up slightly when Togata asked the last question. He didn’t do that before when anyone asked him, but it must have been from his nerves. “It’s… Uhm… Training. I’m under Master Kendo with, well, Kendo. It’s nothing, really! More training on top of training in U.A.” He says, stuttering and stammering over his words. It’s an understatement of the century though.


“Dude, you told us that you spend pretty much every night training and working out. That isn’t ‘nothing.’” Awase speaks out against Inochi (who currently has a betrayed look on his face).

 

Togata cocks an eyebrow. “Really? Can I try something?” Amajiki fully turns around, shaking his head at him. Nejire takes a step back like she knows what’s going to happen. Inochi though, mumbles, “Y-Yeah…”

 

“Alright! Stay still!” What is Togata going to d-?!

 

BAM!!!

 

Oh my God! Why the hell did Togata punch him?! Mister Kan literally told him to not hurt us! He could kill a man with an arm like that! “Inochi!” I yell his name, standing up at my desk. He’s on one knee, breathing heavily. Mister Kan throws his arms up in the air while everyone else in the class is completely breathless.

 

Unlike the rest of us, Nejire and Amajiki look impressed. So is Togata of all people! “I’m impressed, Inochi!” the man, who decided to punch my best friend for no reason and made his day even worse, beams.

 

“I-Impressed…? You punched me… Crap, that felt like Kendo’s punch, but a lot harder…” Inochi groans, standing himself back up. Togata puts a hand on his shoulder, shaking his hand and apologizing.

 

(“Most people wouldn’t be able to move after being punched by Mirio…” Amajiki comments. Huh, I don’t doubt that. Maybe all that training actually did something useful other than making me worry about Inochi’s wellbeing… He did stop my punch yesterday… That was the first time he did that without any visible pain.)

 

Mister Kan walks up to the four of them, making Inochi sit back down at his seat. “Togata! I don’t need more students punching other students! Are you going to advise my students or beat the hell out of them? Sorry for my language, Shiozaki,” Mister Kan scolds them (and apologizing to Shiozaki). Togata chuckles, trying to cool the situation down before turning to the class.

 

“Right! I’m sorry about derailing today, so let’s make this brief! Today is your first chance to impress a Pro Hero. If you do it right, then you’re high on the list for an internship and getting to work in a real Hero Agency.

 

They’ll ask you to perform special tasks for them. They may include punching something, rescuing a training dummy, or using your wit! If you’re specialized in a certain area, make sure you talk to a Hero who’s also specialized in that area. After all, why would a student, who’s built for fighting, be under a Pro Hero, who’s suited for rescuing?

 

But also remember that you’re not here to earn an internship, but making sure you’ll be remembered when the time comes for an internship! Unless you’re really well-known, like Tokage here, you’re basically a stranger to them. It’s going to be hard to get yourself known, especially since you’re up against the entire school. Not just first-years, but also second and third-years.

 

And, the Hero Course classes aren’t the other classes out there. For example, the General Department. They’ll be trying their dang best for any Pro Hero to notice them. If they manage to do so, then it’s possible that they may be transferred to the Hero Course. The reverse is also true too. If you somehow mess up pretty badly, then you’ll be out of the Hero Course. The Support and Management Departments have their own special internships separate from hero internships, so you don’t have to worry about them. Do worry that they’ll steal some of the spotlight and attention.

 

That means it’s going to be pretty hectic outside. So, before you step out that door, take a deep breath and relax. It’s not the end of the world if you didn’t impress anyone! This is only your first year in U.A. after all. You got the Sports Festival, the Cultural Festival, and many other opportunities!

 

Oh, don’t worry about fighting against us three. We’re already in Hero Agencies already. Now 1-B, do your best out there! Be creative, be wise, and most importantly… Be strong!

 

You got that?!”

 

We all nod in unison. “Now, let’s go beyond!” Togata pumps his fist in the air. Nejire does the same thing, expecting the rest of us to do…?

 

“Plus Ultra!” Inochi matches Togata’s excitement, looking around the class. He slowly lowers his fist, shaking his head. “My disappointment in all of you is immeasurable,” Inochi deadpans, not looking at anyone specifically. (Kaibara pats his back for some reason.)

 

RIIIIING!

 

“All students! Please change into your gym uniforms and come outside in an orderly manner. Thank you!” Principal Nezu’s voice comes on in the intercoms before cutting off. Mister Kan smiles and nods, crossing his arms.

 

“You heard the man! 1-B, do your best. If you get a chance to outshine 1-A, go and take it.”

 

“Yessir!” We shout in unison, walking out the door and following the sea of students with Mister Kan. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Inochi being held back by Togata. Well, it must be about that punch. Right now though, I gotta impress the heck out of these Pro Heroes if it’s the last thing I do!

 

I’ll be their fist!

~~~

Sanji Inochi

BOOOOOOM!!!

 

“MOVE YOUR DAMN ICE, HALF-N-HALF BASTARD!”

 

“You were in the way.”

 

...

 

How can I compete with these two? Just… Just gotta remember what Togata said to me and do something big. I have to. I need to. I can’t rely on any of my classmates, especially since I have no idea where any of them are! They abandoned me! One moment, I was besides Shishida and the next, he’s gone despite being a hulking hairy man! Crap, I need to focus on the task at hand! Can’t let myself panic too mu-!!!

 

BOOOOOOM!!!

“DUNCE FACE, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!”

“Trying not to die!”

 

“Kacch-!”

“SHUT UP DEKU!”

 

 

I… What’s with 1-A? You know, it’s a good idea to be far, far away from them. Somewhere that they can’t kill me with their amazing Quirks. Now, what can I do…? Something that I’m specialized in…

 

THUNK!

 

That’s the sound of an arrow hitting a target! Archery, that’s something I could do! It might be a regular bow though. I haven’t shot with one in a while, but the feeling will come back to me. I let myself squeeze through the crowd, following the sound. It doesn’t help that Bakugo keeps screaming at his classmates every second…

 

BOOOOOOM!!!

 

(Thanks, Bakugo.)

 

When I finally got through the hot and sweaty crowd of people, I reach a stall of… Lionheart! He stands behind a table, gesturing towards twelve moving axes with holes in them. A regular target is at the end. Lionheart himself has a bright smile on his face, moving his long, blonde hair behind his shoulder. For a guy wearing dark green clothes with a black shoulder cape, he should be sweating. (If I remember correctly, his Quirk is Windwake. He’s able to control the wind around him, making it still or blow as hard as he wants.)

 

“Students! Come and bask in the Odysseus Challenge, with a Japanese twist! Who’s brave enough to attempt this challenge? Only three has done it before, and you may be the fourth,” he sticks an English bow out to us. A black-haired boy stepped out of the crowd with a smirk.

 

“I got it, Lionheart,” the boy takes the bow. He grabs an arrow off of a table, moving where Lionheart motions him to go. He nocks the arrow, pulling the string back. This guy is holding the bow too hard. His muscles are tensing up, making his arms shake. Lionheart has a small frown on his face, noticing the same thing I do.

 

THWISH!

TWANG!

SNAP!

 

The arrow flew nowhere close to true. It got snapped in half by the first two axes. The boy groans with Lionheart patting his shoulder. He walks away with shame and defeat in his face. Lionheart comes out to the rest of us, offering the bow. I raise my hand, asking him, “I’ll try, but can you show us how you would do it, Mister Lionheart?”

 

Lionheart smiles and nods. “Of course!” I step to the side, having a full view of the twelve axes and Lionheart. Little does anyone know, this is how I’m going to do the challenge. It might be considered hustling, but I have to make do with that little I got.

 

THWISH!

TWANG!

THUNK!

 

Effortlessly, Lionheart nocked and fired the arrow, going through all twelve axes and hitting the target at the end without a second of preparation. All of us clap, especially me. That’s all I need. Lionheart has sharp senses built up from years of training, but he did set up this challenge. He put all these axes on set intervals, where there’s only a single moment where all of them line up just right. He showed the exact moment. I can use the shadows of the axes and among other things as reference points. Now, I need to count on knowing how to fire a bow properly.

 

I walk into the stall, grabbing Lionheart’s bow and an arrow. He guides me to the proper distance as I look forward. All of the axes are swinging so “unpredictably” that it’ll make any average person panic. Many different objects moving at different speeds would stimulate a person’s brain too much, but all I need to do is focus.

 

Take a deep breath in. (I nock my arrow, pulling it back.)

 

Don’t hold the bow too hard. (My aim is steady.)

 

Wait for the right moment. (My eyes have the target. There’s no wind to worry about thanks to Lionheart. This is it.)

 

Breathe out. (Fire.)

 

THWISH!

TWANG!

 

I release the string, letting the arrow loose. It cracks and waves around the shaft of the bow. It moves through the first few holes, then the next, and the last-

 

THUNK!

 

Heh, already hit the target before I can finish my thoughts! I actually did it! Heck yeah! Might as well call me Odysseus! Whoever the heck that (Greek?) guy is! The crowd gasps in wonder and awe before starting to clap. Lionheart puts a hand on my shoulder like an impressed father.

 

“I’m impressed, boy! Tell me, did you manage to train to my level or did you merely copy my skill?” he asks me with a curious eye.

 

“Both, kinda. I have prior experience with a bow, but my Quirk lets my muscles copy anything I see. It’s not actually my Quirk though... But uhm… I’m sorry if I hustled you, or anything,” I apologize to Lionheart, giving him his bow back.

 

Lionheart laughs, putting the bow on the table. “It’s fine! What’s your name, boy?”

 

“Sanji Inochi, sir. I’m in the Hero Course, specifically 1-B.” Once I said that, the crowd in front of the stall groans in unison. Right… I had a feeling that the other classes aren’t fond of students like me. (This is terribly ironic…)

 

“Of course this guy’s in the Hero Course!”
“Always stealing the spotlight from us.”

“Why doesn’t U.A. ban guys like him from today anyway?
“Inochi? How are you here?”
“Just get out of h-”


(Wait, who said my name?)

 

I excuse myself from Lionheart, stepping out of the stall. Someone pushes through the crowd with a band of about four behind them. In front of them is the familiar light red hair with fox ears. The same, familiar fangy smile. It couldn’t be no one other than Karisuma Suzuki.

 

(Quirk: Nine Tails. He has one tail out right now, and can grow eight more, enhancing his body with each one. There’s a massive drawback though: More tails means that he has a higher chance of going berserk. Personally, I never saw him going berserk nor seeing him with more than three tails.)


My eyes couldn’t believe that he’s here though. I exclaim, “Suzuki?! You’re at U.A.?!” Behind him is Suzuki’s friends, who’ll obey his every command. In middle school, they were different people. I guess he replaced them once he got accepted into U.A. That’s like him.

 

“Obviously. So are you . In the Hero Course of all things,” he tells me in a demeaning manner, like how he always talks to me… The four students behind him glare at me like I’m evil incarnate, “I’m the class president of 1-D, a General Course class.”

 

He takes me by the arm, forcing us to walk away from Lionheart’s stall. He doesn’t look too different. Still charming and handsome as always. Any woman would fall in love with him at first sight. After all, Suzuki is a “genuine kitsune”.

 

Yeah, there’s a reason why people are distrustful with foxes. They’re tricksters, the kind who’ll deceive you in order to consume your soul. The one who breaks you down, tear you apart, say that you’re nothing, beating you to the ground with a satisfied smile on their face, while you could only lay there and cry.

 

This anger boiling inside me, I hate it. I hate that my heart is on fire, screaming at me to do something about Suzuki. I hate the way that my past has come to me when I thought I left that behind at Kibo. The past that I have always wanted to hide from everyone, and now a part of it is here.

 

You know...

 

***

 

I was in sixth grade walking back “home”. It was fall, before the moment I found my motivation to be a Pro Hero, before subjecting myself to constant training. Back then, I was quiet, practically silent. Never talked to anyone unless I needed to. Never did anything unless I had to. Always did my work silently, ate alone at lunch. I was seen, but never heard. That didn’t stop anyone, especially Suzuki.

 

When I was walking back home though, I distinctly remember the orange and red leaves falling from the sky. Falling, rocking back and forth like gentle snowflakes. The trees are shedding their leaves, covering the pavement with them. The way they fall down though, it was calm, soothing, like a mother rocking their child to sleep.

 

Then, a harsh wind blew them away, letting them crash, crumpling to the ground. The sound of light footsteps erupted behind me, so I had to turn around. Before I did though, I knew who it was: Suzuki. He had a group of five walking behind him like fans following a Pro Hero. He stopped in his tracks once he saw me. Me, who was hiding my face with a white hood. I tried to walk away, but he said to me, “Inochi, walking away so soon? Come here. I need to tell you something.”

I knew what he was going to say. What he was going to do, but… I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t walk to him though. I was too afraid, too scared, knowing what Suzuki could do to me. Back then, he was already someone strong enough to get into the Hero Course. He didn’t need his followers, but he had them anyway.

 

“Saito. Get him for me,” Suzuki motioned Saito, so he stepped forward, smirking at me. His arms extended forward like rubber, grabbing me by the arms. He pulled me towards Suzuki, letting go a good distance away from him. I fell, tripped onto the ground crashing, tumbling. I don’t know how many times I rolled, but the next thing I knew… I was in front of Suzuki’s shoes. It was the standard dress shoes: Black, leather, fancy but not too fancy.

 

Suzuki laughed at me, pulling the hood off of my head. I felt a few beautiful leaves were stuck to my shirt like I took them as my own. Everyone else was laughing too. Laughing at me, who was covered in dirt and grime. Me, who was simply staring at the ground helplessly. “Inochi, you got some dirt on my brand new shoes, you goofy man! Why don’t you lick it off for me?” Suzuki extended his left shoe out, but I shook my head.

 

“I-I don’t want to. Please, just let me leave,” I begged him, but my answer didn’t satisfy him. Suzuki clicked his tongue, motioning for two of his friends to lift me from the ground. We were at the same level, but I was staring at the ground with my mind not able to comprehend what was going on. I could only notice how fragile the leaves were, underneath Suzuki’s feet.

 

“Why not, Inochi? What’s so bad about me? I’m dying to know,” he asked me, grabbing my neck and forcing me to stare into his crimson eyes. Somehow, despite how weak I was, I managed to choke something out.

 

“Y-You… Y-You can’t do this…” I told him that. It didn’t answer his question, but it answered what he was suspecting. Suzuki glared at me, tightening the grip on my neck. He looked at the two people who were holding onto me, gesturing them to let me go. That’s when he threw me to the ground. My back slammed against the pavement with pain shooting up my spine. I yelped, barely able to look up at Suzuki.

 

He grew a tail.

 

“I can’t do what?!” he yelled at me before kicking me in my gut. I cried out in pain, rolling back with Suzuki following me. I barely caught a glimpse of everyone else in the back. They were smiling, enjoying this. They were like a hive mind. Whatever Suzuki did, they did it too… Whenever he smiled, they smiled.

 

“Tell me, Inochi , what can’t I do?! This?!” he growled at me, putting his foot back and kicking me up the chin. My head snapped back as my entire body gave out, laying on the ground. I looked up at Suzuki. His face was completely red from what I said. He was so angry that I’d thought he would burst into flames.

 

“You, of all people, would tell me what to do!” He kicked me. I felt tears streaming down my face. My mouth was moving, pleading him to stop.

 

“Stop? Who gave you the right to even speak with me?!” He kicked me again. I felt blood coming out of my mouth, coughing all over my clothes. I barely saw that he grew another tail. Again, I asked him to stop, letting my tears mix in with my blood.

 

“Asking me again?! Who the hell do you think you are?!” Suzuki grabbed me by my collar, his nails sharp, his teeth even sharper. My head rocked back and forth, dizzy from the pain. I muttered his name underneath my breath, trying to focus.

 

Without a second thought, he lifted me with one hand and threw me across the pavement. It pounded against my body as I rolled across it. More leaves stuck onto me, hiding the blood on my clothes. I laid on my back, looking up at Suzuki, who seemed like something out of a fantasy book. His foot was pressed against my right cheek, pushing my head against the cold, hard ground.

 

“Inochi, you are nothing compared to me. You’re lucky that you are even able to get my attention. People would bend over backwards to have me step on them. I’m already going to be the next All Might when I graduate U.A. You can brag to what little friends you’ll have about how you knew me.”

 

Suzuki pressed on my head even harder, smirking. “Remind me, Inochi… Who will always be better than you?”

 

Mindlessly, I stuttered out, “Y-You… Suzuki…”

 

“And what are you?”

 

“N-Nothing… Nothing…” I said, covered in beautiful fall leaves.

 

He lifted his foot off of my head. Suzuki stood me up on my feet, brushing all the leaves off of me. Behind him, his friends were smiling even more, but I was focused on him. That was the first time I saw his eyes in a different light. It looked like it was colored with blood. Suzuki playfully slapped my cheek, smiling like nothing happened. “You can go now, Inochi. Have a good day.”

 

I stood there for a second, not believing what he said. A part of me believed he would beat me more, but another wanted me to leave. So, I turned around and limped away. I never heard Suzuki or his friends following me, I never heard them talking, but I felt them staring at me, staring holes into my back.

 

When I left for Musutafu, I never said goodbye to them. I always remembered this day and what it did to me. Now, the roles are reversed, isn’t it? I’m the one who’s in the Hero Course and Suzuki isn’t.

 

But now that I remember it, remember how each second played out… I felt angry, but it isn’t there anymore. That was out of character for me to think about Suzuki like that. Being angry at Suzuki, harboring this kind of feeling towards him, it’s undeniably selfish. How can I call myself a Pro Hero if I indulge in my own hate? I’ll be just as bad as a Villain.

***

 

Back to the real world, Suzuki, his new friends, and I find ourselves in an open spot. There’s people all around us, but they don’t care what’s happening here. Suzuki lets go of my arm and we face each other once again. We’re wearing the same gym uniform. Blue with white, accompanied by a little bit of red.

 

“So, you awakened to your Quirk? That’s the only explanation why you’re able to do Lionheart’s challenge,” Suzuki questions me with a scowl across his face. He doesn’t seem that angry… Yet. I stand up straight, not breaking eye contact with him. (Remember what Mister Tokage said.)

 

“No, but my Quirk gives me a passive enhancement. It’s Adoptive Muscle Memory. I’m able to watch something and copy it perfectly. You seen me do it before, but I didn’t have a proper name back then,” I answer him, referencing back to middle school. He gives me a simple nod, taking the information in.

 

“Hmph, so you’re still the same man from before, but with bigger arms. I don’t know why U.A. even decided to let you in here. I can change that though. I’ll be such a good student that they have to move me up to the Hero Course, maybe even replacing you. Oh, I hope I get to replace you, Inochi.” The same sinister smile forms on his face.

 

I know how he is though.

 

“Suzuki, let me get this straight with you: I don’t care. I’m going my own way in U.A., and you should too. Don’t obsess over what little I do, what little I will do . For your own sake, please forget about me. Let whatever you think we have die right here and we’ll go our own separate ways.”

 

Suzuki opens his mouth, like he couldn’t believe what I was saying. I figured he would act like this. Someone like him doesn’t like to be challenged, doesn’t like to be told what to do. He’s a narcissist, and someone like me is his greatest enemy. Suddenly though, a hand is on my shoulder. I turn around to see Kendo, who’s glaring daggers into Suzuki. She asks me, “Who is this guy, Inochi?”

 

Suzuki changes his demeanor in an instant, forming a charming smile that could make a girl faint. Kendo though, doesn’t crack. He takes a step forward with a hand to his chest. “Inochi, you never told me that you’re friends with the granddaughter of Master Kendo! I never imagined she would look so beautiful.”

 

He takes Kendo by the hand, shaking it with his tail wagging. “I am Karisuma Suzuki. You can call me, ‘Kari’.” Once he lets go, I pull Kendo back next to me. She’s looking at me like, Is this guy serious? I shrug my shoulders, saying, Serious as serious can get.

 

Suzuki,” Kendo calls him, rolling her eyes slightly, “how exactly do you know Inochi?” Suzuki smiles, going up to me with such friendliness that it’s hard to tell that he’s lying. He could convince me that we were friends, if it wasn’t for… You know…

 

He exclaims, “We were old friends! Isn’t that right Ino-?!”


A voice interrupts him, “Mister Suzuki, is that correct?”

 

Everyone stops and turns to the new voice. It’s a man. A man with laid-back black hair, a white dress shirt, and he’s holding a wooden cane with a dog as its handle. It’s Grandmaster! The Detective Hero! He’s considered to be the world’s best detective! His Quirk is, well, a mystery in itself! He never revealed it to the public!

 

Suzuki’s eyes go slightly wide, but it goes back to being unrecognizably kind. He bows in respect-

 

“There’s no need to do that, Mister Suzuki. I heard everything the moment you and your gang stepped foot here. To take such a hostile tone with him and even threatening his place at U.A.? Oh, don’t forget about acting like the both of you were best friends. How despicable… If you know what’s good for you, leave at this very moment,” Grandmaster berates them, gesturing with his cane.

 

Suzuki grumbles, waving all of his friends to leave. He doesn’t say anything, but he gives me a glare. A glare that could kill a man without any remorse. I let out a sigh of relief, turning to Grandmaster and bowing myself. “Mister Grandmaste-!”

 

“Just ‘Grandmaster’. Come you two, let’s not worry about that boy anymore. What we should worry about is: Miss Tokage, Manga, and The Count are alone at my stall. I’m afraid it would be destroyed from the three of them, probably from Count deciding to boast his prowess.” He taps his cane twice, leading Kendo and I.

 

(That’s right! Grandmaster is partners with another Pro Hero, The Count. The Count is originally from France. He was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Thanks to Grandmaster, he was able to prove it otherwise. After that, The Count moved to Japan with him, and so that’s how the Grandmaster-The Count Agency was made!

 

The Count’s Quirk is called Aftershadow. He’s able to make a “clone” of himself that’s able to do one action, and/or take one hit, before disappearing. On an article about him, his record is twenty Aftershadows at once!)

 

Anyway, we move through the crowd back to his stall. He was right. Tokage and Manga are there. Tokage is playing chess with The Count while Manga watches. The Count himself, he’s wearing a fedora that covers his brown hair. He’s wearing… Well, he doesn’t have a shirt on. Only dark pants. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of hiding his scars, but rather showcasing them proudly.

 

“Claude! Put on a shirt would you? We’re here to set an example to these kids! What would they think seeing a professional Pro Hero shirtless?!” The Count looks up at Grandmaster, shrugging.

 

The Count replies, “These kids don’t care, but I do care about this little girl beating me in chess!” He stands out of his chair, moving his rook over to protect his king. (Ah, so he was in check.) Tokage smirks, moving a queen over.

 

“That’s where you lose, Count! I call this move: Checkmate. I win,” she gloats, crossing her arms proudly. Grandmaster puts a hand to his mouth, trying not to laugh. The Count though? He falls to his knees, staring up at the clear blue sky.

 

He dramatically yells, “Curse you, daughter of Fuyoshiro Tokage!” Grandmaster couldn’t hold back his laughter, but he manages to pull The Count back to his feet. These two… These two could be their own TV show.

 

Tokage and Manga walk up to Kendo and I after that fiasco. Tokage asks me (specifically, us), “So, who was that fox guy? He didn’t seem like much of a nice guy to me. Manga, here, thought he was an anime character came to life.”

 

Manga puts his hands up in defense. “That guy looked like an actual kitsune! If we have to fight him, and if he turns into a rabid beast, then I’m going to gloat in your face, Tokage. I know enough anime and manga to know where that’s heading.” (Oh my God, Manga got his Quirk right without even talking to him.)

 

Kendo answers for me, “Well, this kitsune was named Suzuki. From the look of him, he was one of Inochi’s old bullies, but Grandmaster chased him away. I’m glad that asshole is gone, right Inochi? What did you say to him?” Their eyes fall on me. (Except for Grandmaster and The Count. They’re chatting to themselves.)

 

“That he should leave me alone,” I say, generalizing it slightly. I turn to Manga and- Wait a second?! Isn’t his sister in U.A. too? In the Support Department. Why haven’t I seen her around? “Hey Manga, where’s your sister? Her name is Shojo, right?”

 

As soon as I mentioned his sister, Grandmaster and The Count’s head perk up. Manga nervously chuckles, holding his wrist like he doesn’t know what to do with his arms. “About Shojo… She’s kinda a shut-in, you know? It’s a complicated story, too long to tell you guys now.”

Grandmaster walks up, nodding to what Manga said. “Mhm. It’s best not to dwell on it. In fact, we should-”

WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

 

All of us turn to the crowd cheering and hollering. We see a winged man flying to the ground without a care in the world. That’s Hawks. Once he lands, a swarm of students quickly surrounds him. I don’t know what’s happening, but I hope Hawks will be fine. In the distance, near the entrance back into U.A., is Endeavour talking to Todoroki. Right, Todoroki is his son, isn’t he?

 

Time goes on. For about an hour, Kendo, Tokage, Manga, and I stay with Grandmaster and The Count, talking about virtually anything. It doesn’t feel like they’re Pro Heroes, but rather average people. It’s different from Mister Tokage, where he has an intimidating presence. These two… They seem like incredibly kind men.

 

Our biggest talk was Grandmaster’s Quirk. Tokage kept guessing and guessing, but she was always wrong. I’m shocked that the world hasn’t blown up yet from how smart Tokage and Grandmaster are. These two could formulate a master plan to take over U.A., and no one would be none the wiser until it’s too late.

 

Manga stands up and stretches. “Well, maybe we should-!”

 

“CLASS 1-B AND 1-D!” A woman’s voice comes on the speakers. All of us look at each other, wondering what’s going on.

 

“PLEASE GO TO GYM GAMMA! I REPEAT, CLASS 1-B AND 1-D, PLEASE GO TO GYM GAMMA! ANY OTHER STUDENTS OR PRO HEROES MAY OBSERVE!” The announcement ends, leaving us confused. Grandmaster looks at me with an eyebrow cocked.

 

The Count quickly throws on a shirt, walking out of the stall. “What are all of you sitting around for? You heard the woman! Let’s go!” Grandmaster sighs, getting up with The Count. Tokage, Kendo, and I do the same.

 

“What’s going on? Isn’t 1-D a General Department class? What do they want with us?” Tokage asks us as we move through the crowd of gossiping students. Some of them look at us, knowing we’re 1-B. Tetsutetsu and Kodai meet up with us.

 

“Hey Kendo! What’s going on here?” Tetsutetsu asks her. She shakes her head, not knowing the answer, but I do. Suzuki is in 1-D as its class president. He did something, but what? Knowing him, it’s a competition of sorts.

 

Shiozaki and Yanagi are next. They ask Kendo, she still doesn’t know. More and more of our classmates join us with a crowd following behind. I see some students from 1-A in the crowd, like Ashido and Ojiro, to name a couple. We walk to Gym Gamma with Mister Kan, lining up with him. There’s Miss Kojoseicho, the homeroom teacher of 1-D with a line of her students. (Her Hero name is Rose with her Quirk being Plant Manipulation. She’s able to control any plants near her surroundings.)

 

We meet with Mister Kan with the observers in the back. In front of us is Class 1-D with twenty different people, with twenty unique Quirks. One of them being Suzuki, who’s standing in the front. Kendo sees him and glances over at me briefly.

 

“1-B! 1-D here has a proposition for you all. The class president, Karisuma Suzuki, will explain,” Mister Kan says, letting Suzuki come forward. He breaks from the line, walking to the middle with his hands behind his back.

 

“Who’s the class president here?” Suzuki asks us. Eyes turn to Kendo, including mine. Even though we haven’t nominated anyone, she’s the person we would go to. Proudly, she walks forward to meet with Suzuki without saying a word.

 

Suzuki chuckles, muttering something under his breath. “Kendo, I have an offer for you. It’s a little game, capture the flag specifically. My class versus yours. What do you say? Do you think you can defeat 1-D, being the class built to be Heroes?”

 

His eyes drift towards me.

 

He repeats again, “What do you say?”

 

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

A gentle wind breezes through us, outside of Gym Gamma. Everyone is quiet, murmuring to one another, matching the sound of the wind. We all stare at Kendo and Suzuki. From the look on some of our faces, some of us are in disbelief that 1-D would try to challenge us. It might be from being too arrogant, or from shock that something like this is actually happening. Knowing my class, it’s the latter.

 

“What do you say?” Suzuki’s voice rings out in my head. Kendo glances at me, being the first one to turn to. Ah, she wants my input doesn’t she? Even though she’s the class president, I’m directly connected to Suzuki. I would have the biggest say in this.

 

No, that’s my answer. Suzuki will do everything it takes to bring me down. Everything… Including hurting my friends, hurting Kendo. I’m afraid that 1-D will suffer too from how obsessed Suzuki will be, or already is. It’s best for both parties to not have this game.

 

(Even though with what Mister Tokage said, I can’t do it.)

 

I firmly look at Kendo, shaking my head, saying, No, don’t accept the challenge. Her eyes go slightly wide before she sighs, turning back to Suzuki. Suzuki though, was watching me the entire time. He has a grin on his face like he proved that I’m a coward or something along those lines. It’s the truth he’s convincing himself with.

 

Kendo lets out a deep breath, telling him, “You’re on, Suzuki.”

 

?!

 

The entire class of 1-D erupts in cheers, excited that they get to fight us. I look around at my class, and they seem excited too. Everyone’s excited, except for me. Suzuki looks surprised as I am. Him and Kendo approach Mister Kan and Miss Kojoseicho, probably establishing the rules of the game.

 

“We’re really fighting 1-D? Well, this is a pleasant turn of events!” Monoma says, looking at Suzuki in the distance, eyeing him. Kaibara puts his elbow on him, sighing.

 

He asks, “Why do they want to fight us in the first place?”

 

“Do you remember what Togata said?” Shiozaki starts to answer Kaibara, “If the General Department impresses the Pro Heroes, then they could be moved up to the Hero Course. The reverse is true too.”

 

“Aw shi-” Awase looks at Shiozaki before clearing his throat. “Crap, I hope I’m not getting transferred. That means we gotta beat the crap outta them in capture the flag.”

 

“I wish Kamakiri was here…” Pony mutters. Kodai gently pats her shoulder, cheering her up in her own, unique way.

 

“I’m pretty sure Suzuki will transform into a giant fox monster,” Manga says, still on Suzuki’s Quirk (and still somewhat guessing it right somehow). Tokage rolls her eyes, looking over at Suzuki too.

 

She says, “We’ll sacrifice you first, Manga.”

 

“Ehhh?! Screw that! I’m way too skinny to be a good meal! I don’t want Suzuki to eat me!” Manga exclaims with Tokage simply smirking. That’s the face she makes when she’s about to make a comment.

 

“Wow Manga, I never thought that you want a handsome, charming man to eat you,” Tokage makes an innuendo, causing Manga to get red. Yup, that’s what I was expecting.

 

He snaps back at her, “Tokage, I don’t need this from you!” Tokage snickers with Shiozaki behind her, frowning slightly. (I honestly don’t know how Manga gets into these situations. His reactions do cheer me up a bit.)

 

“Everyone!” Suzuki raises his voice, getting everyone’s attention. “Here are the rules! Each class will have a flagpole on their side of Gym Gamma. Once a class gets the other class’s flag and bring it over to their side of the gym, then they get a point! First class to get three points wins!   

 

We will be wearing flags belts. Once you cross the middle line, onto the opposing class, then it can be taken off of you. If so, then you’re going to jail! You can only get out of jail by your fellow classmate tagging you, which also gets all your friends out of Jail if there is any. Only two people may guard the jail at one time. It goes the same for the flagpole.

 

Speaking of it, you can pass it to your classmates, but it has to be inside the other class’s zone. You can’t pass the flagpole across the centerline. Oh, they’ll be a small square where the flagpole’s at. That’s a safezone, for five seconds, if you’re on the opposing team’s side. Lastly, please don’t drag the other class into your zone and get them out. That’s cheating and it doesn’t stand with U.A.’s values.

 

Now, we can go crazy with our Quirks here, so don’t hold back! For you, 1-B, you may bring any equipment you want! Consider this a little gift from me to you!”

 

He explains the rules to us (and anyone else who wants to watch this game). Mister Kan and Miss Kojoseicho mention something to each other before going inside Gym Gamma, probably to set up the game. Kodai and Awase walks up to me. Awase greets me with a smile, patting me on the back. “Yo, let’s get our stuff!”

 

(That’s right, Awase and Kodai’s Quirks work better if they have objects. There won’t be any in Gym Gamma, so they would be at a disadvantage without them.)

 

“Alright,” I say, joining them. The three of us start to head back inside U.A., with Awase talking about how we’re going to beat 1-D. I don’t talk with him though, neither does Kodai. This game… I never wanted it to happen. It’s all apart of Suzuki’s plan… Crap, what was she thinking?

 

I don’t know what to do, but Kendo must've had a good reason. She always has a good reason for these things. Knowing her, she must have seen this competition for revenge or something like that. Even though I’m not fond of it, I’ll do it for her. I mean, this game isn’t about us two and Suzuki. It’s about the entire class of 1-B and 1-D. In a way, she’s also doing it for them.

 

Anyway, we’re in the locker rooms now. Kodai goes to the girls’ locker room while Awase and I go into ours. I go to my big locker, putting my code in. It opens up and I’m greeted with my hero costume, all laid out for me. I take my two bracers, attaching them to my arms. Left is my grappling hook, right is my crossbow. Lastly, I take my katana, fastening it to my waist. I close my locker, turning back to Awase. “Ready, Awase?”



“As I’ll ever be!” Awase steps out from his locker, patting his bag of metal logs. We walk out of our locker rooms and… Kendo’s there, waiting for us with Kodai.

 

“Hey Awase, can you give Inochi and I some privacy?” she asks Awase, who silently nods. (It seems like he recognizes that this isn’t the time to make comments.) Him and Kodai walk away, leaving Kendo and I alone. Smiling at her, I adjust the straps on my bracers.

 

Her head tilts slightly to the side, surprised. Heh, I should be offended that she would think I’m mad. “You’re not mad, Inochi?”

 

I tighten my straps, making my left bracer hug my arm a little bit more. “Well, I’m a bit upset that you accepted the challenge. Why did you accept it anyway?” I ask her, working on my other bracer.

 

Kendo sighs in relief, answering, “I wanted to prove to Suzuki that you’re much stronger than him and his class. You and all of our friends. It would be really satisfying to see him eat his words.” She leans against the wall besides me. We stare at a blank, white wall for some reason.

 

Heh, I know her so well. She wants to prove that we, as 1-B, are stronger than Suzuki and 1-D. She’s definitely a righteous person, but I don’t dislike it (it’s the opposite really). For me, a competition like this isn’t my style. I’m still worried though. Suzuki was willing to beat me to the ground in sixth grade, so only God knows what he’ll do today.

 

“That’s so like you. A competition like this though, it’s not for me. I’d rather have these kinds of things as necessities, not going out of my way to do them. But, can you promise me something, Kendo?” We look at each other, into each other’s eyes.

 

“Of course, name it!” she accepts, nudging my arm a little.

 

“If Suzuki starts to get angry, so angry that the word isn’t fit to describe him, then promise me: Call the game off, and get any and all Pro Heroes to restrain him. Please,” I plead her with my eyes turning a bit sad before I blink it away.

 

“I… I will,” she promises me, looking away slightly. “And if I can ask, why are you helping me? You mentioned that this kind of contest isn’t for you.”

 

I chuckle to myself, crossing my arms. “What do you think? I’m doing it for you! If you want to prove to the whole damn world that you’re the best, then I’m with you, one hundred percent. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, since I already think you’re the best.”

 

Kendo has a faint blush on her cheeks, smiling widely. “Jeez Inochi… You gotta stop throwing around compliments like that… You’re way too good and nice for this cruel world.” Oh, is that a challenge?

 

I spit out another compliment, “Hey, this world isn’t so cruel if you’re in-”



“Nope, not another compliment out of you! We need to focus on beating 1-D, specifically Suzuki. Let’s make it a blowout,” she pats my arm, motioning us to leave. I smile to myself as I follow behind her. Kendo always get embarrassed whenever I do that. It’s so entertaining and sweet to see her big sister guard down.

 

Heh, you know… If this is all a contest of proving oneself, then it might be a bit beneficial for me… because…

 

“You weren’t meant to be-”

 

Ugh, I get Mister Tokage’s voice out of my head. I’d rather not think about that right now. It’s better for my friends to have their time to dominate 1-D, especially Kendo. There’s always time to prove myself later.

 

We go back outside. There’s barely anyone outside Gym Gamma, so everyone must have went inside. “Well, Battle Fist, everyone is waiting for us,” I tell her, using the nickname that Tokage made up. She rolls her eyes in annoyance.

 

“Yup… Armory. I’m calling you that from now on,” Kendo gives me a nickname, laughing at herself. I like it, has a nice ring to it. It references my ability to master any weapon in a short amount of time compared to others, but I’m surprised I didn’t get a nickname referencing a samurai. Eh, gotta be original somehow.

 

We walk inside Gym Gamma and… Oh, holy crap! It became a battleground! There’s broken buildings (not like the ones in Ground Beta, which are actual buildings while these are small), concrete road barriers, a small metal hut that has “JAIL” labeled on it, and a square box with sandbags around it. A flagpole is in the center of the square with a red flag attached, labeled “1-B”. On the other side of the gym is the same thing, but mirrored. 1-D has a blue flag.

 

It’s a mini-version of a ruined city.

 

“Finally,” Mister Kan gets our attention, handing us two red flag belts, “Suzuki’s been nagging me about when you two would show up.” We clip it around our waists. I make sure it doesn’t get in the way of my sheathe. (This is going to be a bit inconvenient.)  

 

Kendo asks, “Sorry, Mister Kan. How long until it starts-”

 

“Five minutes,” Suzuki answers us, coming from behind. He sneaks a glare in at me before smiling at Kendo and Mister Kan, with his hands folded at his chest. “Let’s have a good game,” he says before walking to his side. (Kendo rolls her eyes, obviously annoyed by him.)

 

Mister Kan sighs, shaking his head. “Go and beat 1-D, would you? I would say ‘good luck’, but you won’t need it. They need it.” He has a confident grin on his face, placing his faith completely on us.

 

“Roger! Come on, we got five minutes to discuss the plan, Inochi!” Kendo tells me before yanking me by the wrist, running towards everyone else, who’re gathered near the centerline. Tokage and Monoma are observing 1-D, probably for their Quirks before they turn to us.

 

We run into Kodai, who has a blank look on her face as always. I point to her, asking, “Hey Kodai! Why don’t you show us your battle face?”

 

“Arg,” she makes a sound (kinda like a pirate), grinning weirdly. I gotta say though, that’s one of the best battle faces. With Kodai’s enthusiasm, 1-D should forfeit the match. They have no idea who they’re dealing with.

 

Kendo laughs, high-fiving me. “Looks like we’re going to win, Inochi! Kodai’s in battle mode. No one can stop her now.”

 

“You know it,” I say with the three of us finally approaching Tokage and Monoma. So, here’s two of the schemers in 1-B. They aren’t afraid to spy on 1-D, so let’s find out what they got.

 

“Finally!” Tokage exclaims, walking up to us with Monoma. “Do any of you know what Suzuki’s Quirk is? I’m mainly worried about him, since he seems to be deceptively powerful. Monoma feels the same way because he can’t use his Quirk.”

 

“That’s because it’s an Accumulation-type, like mine,” I answer her, glancing over to Suzuki, “Suzuki’s Quirk is called Nine Tails. He can grow eight more tails, growing a lot more powerful with each one, but also having a chance to go completely crazy.”

 

Monoma raises an eyebrow. “Really? Well, that makes things a lot more interesting! Fortunately, Tokage and I were able to figure out three Quirks, but only from them being Mutant-type.”

 

(Tokage throws her hands up in the air, probably realizing that Manga pretty much figured out Suzuki’s Quirk.)

 

“That’s great!” Kendo says, turning to me, “thanks to Inochi, I know that he’s going to be the main person that 1-D will go after, so I have a plan. We need one person though. He’s instrumental.”

 

“Who is this man?” Monoma asks, looking around at our class. Tokage does too, but I have a feeling I know who he is. He’s not someone loud or shy, but rather quiet, thinking. You would see him, but you would never hear him.

 

Kendo smirks, putting a hand on her hip. “Well… It’s-”

 

***

 

“THE MATCH WILL BEGIN IN THREE!” Miss Kojoseicho yells into the microphone. There’s people off to the sides, Pro Heroes and students alike. I see some from 1-A, like Midoriya, who’s taking notes in his journal.

 

Bondo and Shiozaki are defending the flagpole, having the best Capturing Quirks. Honenuki, Komori, Monoma are in the front, to the sides. They’ll provide a shift in terrain.

 

(Hmm… The current Quirks that we know 1-D has: Spiky Hair, Springy Feet, Glowing Heart, and Nine Tails. All of them are self-explanatory or I already explained it, except for Glowing Heart. No one knows what that does other than making the guy’s heart glow.)

 

“TWO!”

 

I’m with Awase, Tsubaraba, Manga, Kaibara, Kendo, and Tetsutetsu. They’re acting as distractions for me. Rin and Kodai are defending the Jail. Yanagi, Tokage, Shoda, and Shishida are the general defenders. On the other side, 1-D is more than ready. They look organized just like us. Suzuki is a natural leader, so it makes sense for them to be this prepared. That’s one of the things to admire him for. (Especially his Quirk.)

 

(Their biggest mistake is not lining up at the centerline. They’re on defense.)

 

“ONE!”

 

I’m ready to bring the flagpole home. I adjust my left bracer, tapping it playfully. That’s how we’re going to win, with this thing. Kendo is a genius when she told me what to do.

 

“LET THE MATCH BEGIN!” Miss Kojoseicho blows her whistle, signaling that the match has begun!

 

Honenuki and Monoma put their hands on the centerline, Softening everything on their side except for the square where the flagpole is resting in. “Sorry about muddying your day!” Honenuki makes a pun, cackling.

 

1-D shouts profanities and curses, trying to get out of Honenuki’s mud. However, there’s no solid ground to move onto! Suzuki, in the middle of his zone, looks over to a blue-haired girl with slight bangs. He yells, “Denkai!” Denkai puts her fingers to the ground and… And within an instant, the semi-liquid ground returns back to its regular state! Dang it! They have a direct counter to Honenuki?! I knew it wouldn’t be this easy!

 

1-D gets back up on their feet with Suzuki laughing. He taunts, “That trick won’t work on us! Denkai’s Quirk is Solidifier! She can turn any liquid, even a semi-liquid, into a solid!” Well, good thing that Suzuki isn’t keeping it as a mystery! Here comes for the next part!

 

“Let’s go! Remember the plan!” Kendo yells, leading the charge into 1-D’s territory. Suzuki shouts for everyone to charge in too, intercepting us. They have twenty versus our seven, but we’re much more trained than they are. I’m with Tsuburaba and Awase while Kendo gets Kaibara, Manga, and Tetsutetsu

 

In front of me, Spiky Hair jumps through a window of one of the broken buildings to my right. Awase runs up and without hesitation, he quickly welds him into a wall with his metal logs. “Sorry! Too slow!” (Nineteen.)

 

“RAH!”

 

STOMP!

RUMBLE!

 

On the left side of the field, a muscular girl stomped her foot on the ground. A pillar of earth and rock emerges from it, trapping Tetsutetsu inside. She grabs his belt, getting him out. Dang it! (Six left.)

 

I focus back in front. There’s two students in front of me. One of them is Springy Feet while the other is Denkai. She runs towards Awase while Springy Feet bends his knees, ready to jump! Tsuburaba is right besides me. Time for a tag team move! I yell at him, “Tsuburaba! Airwalk!”

 

Tsuburaba smiles and nods, blowing a circular Solid Air, flat and floating. I immediately jump on at the same time when Springy Feet launches himself into the air towards me, flying at me face-first like a torpedo. Tsubaraba blows another circle of Solid Air, letting me hop on that with my left foot. Springy Feet taunts, “Too easy!”

 

Sorry, but he’s too easy. Tsuburaba blows one last Solid Air. I jump on with my right before soaring with my left foot back-!

 

SLAM!

 

I spun in the air to deliver a left kick to Springy Feet’s head. He crashes to the ground as I land. I roll, softening my fall and turning to see Awase welding Denkai to the ground. He does the same to Springy Feet. (Seventeen.)

 

Tsuburaba gives a thumbs up to Awase. “Nice job, Weldman! Come on, we’re about a quarter the way the-” Pink petals appear behind Tsuburaba before suddenly transforming into a pink-haired girl with a green streak through it. Within an instant, she takes Tsuburaba’s belt. (Five left. She can transform into Sakura Petals?!)

 

“Better watch your back, handsome,” Sakura Petals says in a seductive voice, winking to Tsuburaba and tossing his belt back. (“Damn it,” Tsuburaba swears, walking away to Jail.) She looks over to Awase and I, having her eye on me. “Why, Inochi right? You’re an adorable man… I can’t wait until I get my hands on you…”

 

(Awase is looking at me, practically saying, This girl is crazy! Yeah, she is… To be honest, I thought she would be his type. Wait a second, she was one of the four who was following Suzuki!)

 

She transforms into petals, flying right towards us! If she’s petals, then a nice explosion should knock her away! I aim my right hand at the ground in front of Awase and I, yelling, “Step back!” My crossbow activates as it loosens an explosive bolt.

 

BOOM!

 

(Four bolts left!)

 

Awase and I are blown back, deeper into 1-D. I didn’t see Sakura Petals being blown back, but I know for sure that she was. She can’t defy physics. Quirks are still held by the laws of the world, unless they were made to break them, which makes my case void. Anyway! Awase helps me off of the ground, dusting me off. I look behind him, seeing Kaibara knocking an unknown student to the ground. Suzuki appears from behind, wearing two tails, and takes his belt. (Four left. Sixteen students. I hope those welded can’t get out.)

 

I run towards the right side with Awase behind me, heading towards another ruined building. I gesture for him to follow, diving through an open window, rolling onto my feet. “Stupid,” a guy’s voice suddenly-!!!

 

BAM!

 

A fist connects with my left cheek. I slam against the ground, my back hitting a wall. A bald man (his head is really shiny) is in front of me, slamming his fists together. (He’s one of the four that was following Suzuki!) Above me, another guy walks down the stairs and moves besides Shiny Head. He’s wearing an eyepatch? Okay, I’m calling him Pirate. (Another man who was following Suzuki!) Both of them are towering over me, and I’m pretty tall for a Japanese guy!

 

(Where’s Awase?!)

 

Shiny Head and Pirate look at each other before grinning. Pirate says, “You’re trapped now, Quirkless boy.” Shiny Head nods, taking a step closer with his fist clenched. Crap... Does none of them see that I literally have a katana?! It would make sense for them to stay away, but they aren’t doing that! Suzuki’s taking advantage of me holding back…

 

“Like hell he is!” Awase suddenly runs through an open hole, tackling both of them against a wall. He welds himself to them and to the wall, trapping all three of them. “ I’ll handle Baldy and One Eye! Make us look good, Inochi!”

 

“I will, Awase!” I thank him, running out of the building. (Fourteen students, three of us left. Manga, Kendo, and I.) Alright, I’m about halfway in 1-D’s territory. There’s a few buildings around me, multiple points for my grappling hook, no one is guarding the flag, and there’s an open path directly to it. What about the fourteen students? Four of them are trying to get my flag, but Shiozaki’s there. (Ten students.) The rest?

 

KABOOM!

 

Across the gym, Manga is defending himself from three students, two of them being Suzuki and the girl who took out Tetsutetsu. Good luck, Manga! I’m going in! I run towards the flag with no one in sig-?!

 

Pew pew pew!

 

Ghrk!

 

From out of nowhere, a purple-haired girl with holes in her fingers shot purple energy bolts at me! They hit my shoulder and chest, stinging, burning my skin and tearing holes in my gym uniform. Finger Blaster here with an emotionless look on her face. Well, two can play at that game!

Shiiing!

 

I draw my katana. Never deflected energy bolts, but there’s a first time for everything! (These things are fast, but not bullet-fast.)

 

Pew pew pew!

 

She fires a barrage that are way too close together! Can’t deflect all of them! I twist flip backwards, dodging some of the bolts. They go above and below me, searing my shirt a little.

 

Ping ping ping!

 

A few of them bounce off of my blade, ricocheting elsewhere. I land back on my feet, getting hit by a couple more bolts. They burn and sting, tearing small holes in my uniform. This is nothing compared to the other injuries I got. I take a few steps back, ready to deflect mo-

 

Thud!

 

My back hits someone. I turn around and see Kendo! Her fists are nicely enlarged. We exchange a brief smile before eight students surround us. Finger Blaster, Earth Muscle Girl, Glowing Heart, Suzuki, Rose Petals, and three more. Two more students are guarding the Jail, ready to come in if necessary. Manga must have gotten out.

 

“You’re surrounded, you two! There’s no way you’re getting out of this.” Suzuki shouts, not ordering everyone to come in yet. He starts talking about how hopeless this is, going on about something. To be honest, I’m not listening to him.

 

I casually sheathe my katana, not needing it. I lean against Kendo’s back with my fists raised, whispering, “So, Battle Fist, how are we dealing with this? There’s eight around us.” I can’t use my crossbow, since we’re way too close together. I can use my grappling hook though, but I’m not leaving Kendo alone.

 

She whispers back, “Well, my trusty Armory, what do you think? All of them have to come in close, maybe except with that girl with holes in her fingers. No one in 1-D has a Quirk like Shiozaki, where they can take our belts from afar.”

 

(Suzuki berates us, getting red in the face, “Why are you two whispering?! Are you purposely ignoring me?!” Yes, yes we are.)

 

“Well, Finger Blaster doesn’t know the meaning of ‘line of fire’. If we move out of it, she’ll shoot her friends. It gives us less heat, what do you say?” I offer a plan, which she instantly nods to, agreeing with it. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Pirate and Shiny Head coming! Guess we have to do it now!

 

“Damn you, Inochi!” Suzuki growls, growing a third tail. “I’ll make you regr-”

“Now!” I yell, rolling to my left with heading towards the right. Finger Blaster immediately fires, hitting Earth Muscle Girl, Glowing Heart, and one of the unknown Quirks! The rest of them close in on us. An unknown Quirk is running up to me while I’m on one knee.

 

Sweep!

Thud!

 

With my other leg, I sweep his feet off of the ground. Suzuki suddenly dashes up and quickly tries to kick me in my chin (not as fast as Kamakiri). I flip backwards, dodging his kick and using my left arm to propel myself back onto my feet. Suzuki lunges forward with a right hook (dodged), left turning kick (dodged), following up with a spinning right hook kick (dodged). He puffs his chest, widening his eyes in complete anger. “Damn you, Inochi!” (He said that already.)

 

“Switch, duck left!” Kendo yells behind me. What does she mea-Oh, she’s telling me to switch targets with her and duck to my left! Following her orders, I spin to the left, ducking my head right underneath her punch. I follow her lead, punching forward with my right.

 

BAM BAM!

 

My fist connects to Sakura Petals, whose eyes say that she didn’t anticipate the target switch. On Kendo’s side, she must have hit Suzuki. (I’d imagine she’s super happy inside.) Sakura Petals fall to the ground. I jump over her, meeting with Glowing Heart next.

 

(“Heya big fists!” Earth Muscle taunts Kendo. Guess she’s dealing with her now!)

 

Glowing Heart does a side left kick, which I promptly block and tuck his foot underneath my right armpit. I elbow the side of his knee, bending his leg in the wrong way slightly. (It’s not broken, but it’ll hurt a lot.) He lets out a pained cry as his entire body tenses up. Using his trapped leg, I pull him closer to me and use the same elbow to strike his left temple. He yelps in pain, getting dazed. With that, I grab his collar, lifting him up slightly and slamming him to the ground.

 

(“Sorry,” I mutter underneath my breath.)

 

Shuffle

 

An Unknown Quirk, with his fists shakily raised, is standing to my right. To be honest, he looks kinda afraid. That’s why he hasn’t attacked me. I kinda feel bad for him.

 

Click click

 

I snap forward where Finger Blaster is at. Crap, she’s about to fire! (Now, I’m going to feel really bad!) I jump behind Unknown Quirk, quickly restraining his arms behind his back and pushing him forward. He exclaims, “Woah! Wait wait wai-!”

 

Pew pew pew pew!

 

Using him as a human shield, he takes Finger Blaster’s bolts for me. He whimpers each time she shoots him, feeling the same burns as I did. She stops and says, “My apologies.” (She sounds like a robot!) We take a few steps forward, getting a bit closer to Finger Blaster. Unknown Quirk’s body though, it goes a bit limp. Can’t carry him anymore.

 

I throw him to the ground, hearing Finger Blaster cocking her fingers again. To get out of her line of fire, I roll forward, letting her bolts hit the ground behind me with a thud thud thud . My leg sweeps her legs out from under. To make sure that she stays on the floor, I punch her gut, knocking the wind outta her. Finger Blaster groans, writhing in pain. Out of the corner of my eye, Pirate and Shiny Head are running (finally) into the scene.

 

(“Sorry,” I mutter at Finger Blaster and Unknown Quirk.)

 

I hop onto my feet, raising my fists. They’re coming in hot, so I should meet them! We run towards each other. Like twins, they have a sinister smile on their faces, baring their teeth. They shout something vulgar at me, but I didn’t bother to pay attention. When we’re about to meet, I jump forward towards Pirate. My left foot strikes him in his chest following up by my right. Using him as a platform, I jump off and give Shiny Head a nasty punch to the temple. I land next to him, seeing as they’re both dazed, but not out. (Figured.)

 

Quickly, I kick Shiny Head’s right knee out. He yelps in pain, going down on it. I spin around on my left foot, performing a spinning right snap kick to his nose. My foot goes in slightly, feeling blood gushing out of him. Shiny Head falls to the ground, holding his broken nose. “You son of a bitch!” Pirate yells, putting his left foot back. He’s smart though, preparing to punch me with his right.

 

Pirate charges forward and tries to punch me, but I pivot to his left. Grabbing his arm, I palm strike his chest, causing him to lose his breath. I lift him off of the ground, slamming him over me and onto Shiny Head. They groan in unison, and groan again, only louder this time from my heel connecting with Pirate’s chest. I must have cracked one of his ribs.

 

(“Sorry,” I mutter again.)

 

There’s no one after me, but Kendo still needs help. I’m not going to leave her, and the plan was going to lead to this anyway, so I throw my left bracer into 1-D’s square. Just gotta buy some time!

 

CRACK!

 

Behind me, Kendo threw an Unknown Quirk through a wall made by Earth Muscle, hitting her on the other side. That’s it for her end! I quickly run up to her, getting back-to-back again. One by one, 1-D students slowly get back up and surround us. Huh, I count sixteen total. The ones who Awase welded must have got out and the ones who were guarding the Jail decided to come in. They’re really going all out here, just for Kendo and I. “Tired, Battle Fist?” I ask her, smirking slightly.

 

She laughs, shaking her head. “Of course not! They need a lot more than sixteen people just to take us two out. Oh, how’s the package?” Kendo looks over her shoulder, noticing my missing left bracer.

 

“He’s ready. We can distract 1-D for him,” I report, looking around at the newcomers. Glowing Heart, Earth Muscle, Pirate, Shiny Head, and a couple of others look pretty injured. They won’t be able to fight their best. They seem to forget that they were supposed to take our belts. We’re just brawling at this point.

 

Suzuki suddenly yells, “What are you standing around for?! Get them!” He yells on Kendo’s side. I glance over, seeing that he’s aggressively pointing his finger at us. His left cheek is black and blue. He’s not bothering to go in. None of them are going in. They’re not even trying to fight us!

 

Glowing Heart limps forward, calmly saying, “Suzuki, stop. None of us were able to land a hit on them other than Yubiju.” Some of his classmates nod, with their faith and confidence in Suzuki wavering. (Yubiju must be Finger Blaster.)

 

Earth Muscle takes a step forward, cracking her knuckles. “Look, I’m pretty strong, but fuck . Kendo is stronger. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that we can take her, an’ black’n’white, on.” She’s surprisingly a bit humble despite all those muscles and a rough appearance.

 

Sakura Petals bites her thumb, glaring at Earth Muscle and Glowing Heart. “You two, be grateful for once! He was able to convince Vlad King and Miss Rose to have this competition! Stop complaining and do what he says!” Somehow, I expected her to defend Suzuki.

 

“Kazeha,” Glowing Heart continues to argue, moving the black bangs that’re covering his eyes, “we should admit that they’re more skilled than u-.”

 

“Like hell I’ll admit that!” Suzuki snaps at Glowing Heart, his tails viciously batting back and forth. “Do you think I worked all this much for nothing?! We still have a chance to win this match! Why don’t you all-?!”

 

FWEEEEET!

 

A whistle is blown. We turn to Miss Kojoseicho, who has a disappointed look on her face. “Shihai Kuroiro of 1-B has delivered 1-D’s flag to his base! 1-B has earned a point!” Kendo and I smile widely, finally relaxing our bodies. She shrinks her fists back to regular size, patting me on the back.

 

Glowing Heart laughs in pain, sitting on the ground with Earth Muscle. “That’s why Inochi threw away his bracer. Kuroiro was hiding inside it. While we were all focused on those two, he was able to slip by without anyone noticing him.”

 

I turn to Suzuki, whose mouth is wide open from shock. He stomps over to Glowing Heart, his shadow towering over him. I didn’t bother to listen to his tirade as Kendo drags me back to our class. We meet up with Awase, Tsuburaba, Tetsutetsu, and Manga who was stuck in 1-D’s Jail along with everyone else. They give Kendo and I high-fives and hugs, celebrating our first victory.

 

“So,” I put my hands in my pockets, looking around at everyone, “why didn’t you guys come in? We were stuck with 1-D!”

 

Tokage clears her throat, raising her finger. “Correction: 1-D was stuck with you two. Once we saw a scene ripped from an action movie, we decided that, You know, Kendo and Inochi can handle it!’” Honenuki nods, snickering to himself with his teeth clacking. Heh, I’m not that good at martial arts… Still got my butt kicked by Kendo.

 

“Yeah! I wished I had popcorn…” he comments off to the side. Tetsutetsu brings an arm around me with his fist out. I bump it with my own, laughing a little. I’m a bit upset that Honenuki didn’t have his time to shine. It was really unlucky to have a direct counter to his Quirk, but there’ll be another time for him. (I look at Kendo, who has the girls commenting on how great she is. Well, everyone except for Kodai. She’s just nodding. Heh, I need to tell her how awesome she is myself...)

 

Awase exclaims, “That was badass . I saw the way you took out Baldy and One-Eye! You gotta teach me that!”

 

“Indeed. Quirkless or not, you are the best of us. Oh, here’s your bracer,” Kuroiro says, handing me my bracer back. I thank him, strapping it back on my left arm. “Maybe we should adopt your training regime.”

 

My eyes go wide. That’s… That’s an awful idea! They can’t handle the constant training! “Woah! I have to train a lot more because I’m basically Quirkless. You guys, you don’t have to do that. Training in U.A. is enough, trust me.” I try to convince them, shaking my hands for an added gesture.

 

“I wasn’t planning to anyway… I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” Manga comments, rubbing his arms. “Look at my arms, it’s so skinny like a stick…”

 

“Don’t worry, you’ll get stronger, Manga,” Rin encourages, crossing his arms and nodding. Us boys talk a bit more before Tokage whistles, getting everyone over. It looks like she’s taking care of the next match (while some of the workers are resetting the battlefield back to normal).

 

With a single finger, she points to everyone and spins around in a circle, stopping at Shiozaki. “Shiozaki, it’s judgement day. You’re going to be the judge, jury, and executioner for 1-D.”

 

Oh. 1-D is dead.

 

In unison, we gulp.

 

***

 

“Glowing Heart, I’m sorry,” I apologize, cutting him free from Shiozaki’s vines, sheathing my katana afterwards. He falls to his feet with a slight groan, stretching his limbs out. He doesn’t seem to care that Shiozaki… That Shiozaki kinda captured everyone within ten seconds. If he doesn’t care about that, then he must be a carefree kind of guy.

 

“It’s fine. Oh, my name’s Mantora. Shinzo Mantora,” he tells me his name. We shake hands, but my eyes wander towards his Glowing Heart. His leg doesn’t seem to be injured anymore… Maybe that’s his Quirk, being able to heal himself.

 

“You can heal yourself? You don’t seem to be hurt after I… Kinda almost broke your leg,” I ask him, focusing on his heart. It has a yellowish-orange glow to it, like a lamp. It must be really hard to sleep at night. How does he sleep anyway?

 

“Yup. I can transfer the glow to other people too, healing their wounds. And I can transfer it to any part of my body, using it as an extra power boost. All of it takes a lot of energy though, in the form of a Glowing Heart,” Mantora explains his Quirk to me. Huh, it’s an Accumulation-type too. It read that those types of Quirks are the rarest ones out there, and usually the most powerful. Mantora (and Suzuki) are no exceptions from the looks of it. (Maybe my Quirk is pretty powerful…)

 

Wait, he didn’t use it during our fight. “Wait, you didn’t use your Quirk when you were fighting with me. Was it be-”

 

He interrupts me, “I was afraid that I would blow you up. You seem like a decent guy though, I’d hate to kill you.”

 

I chuckle, scratching the back of my head. “ You seem like a decent guy, I’d hate to die.” We turn back to 1-D’s side of the gym. My classmates are helping 1-D out, but a lot of them don’t show the same kindness.

 

Mantora stands beside me, asking, “Hey Inochi, didn’t you blow Kazeha up?” Kazeha? Oh, he’s talking about Sakura Petals. She’s a really flirtatious (and a bit perverted) person like Tokage, but cranked up to eleven. Twelve, if I’m being stingy.

 

“He sure did.” Kazeha appears in front of us, transforming from her leaves. She winks at me, with her eyes drifting downwards to I-don’t-want-to-know-where. “Mmm, I would love to blow him back.” Okay, that’s not even an innuendo! She literally wants to sleep with me. Why would she even say that?!

 

“Aw, you’re blushing! Still so innocent~!” Kazha comments in a sultry voice, winking and blowing a kiss to me. What… Why is she doing this?! How did she get into U.A. in the first place?! Don’t tell me sh-

 

“Okay, Kazeha right?” Kendo shows up, turning Kazeha around. Mantora and I give each other a glance, with my eyes just… It’s pretty much, What is wrong with this girl? He replies, She’s like this everyday. “Leave him alone, and please, don’t say things like that,” she reprimands her, but Kazeha smirks, biting her thumb.

 

“Ah, I get it. You’re reserving his cock all for yourself.” All of us go speechless. “I’m jealous! Not only you have bigger tits, but you get to have him . Nice men like him are the biggest monsters in bed. Not to mention he has the look of a maso-”

 

Chop!

 

Oh my God! Mantora just karate chopped Kazeha’s neck! She’s completely out! He slings her over his shoulder with an indifferent look on his face. “Sorry about this. Good luck you two.” He just… He just walks away like nothing happened! What’s with 1-D?! What’s with 1-A?! What’s with the rest of the whole freaking world?!

 

Kendo looks at me with her mouth wide open, completely red. I’m pretty sure I’m red too. Just… What the heck was that?! “Inochi… Let’s go back to our side and ignore whatever… Kazeha was.”

 

“Y-Yeah… Agreed…” I say under my breath, walking back with Kendo. In the background, I hear Suzuki yelling about how much he needs to beat me… At this point, I almost feel pity for him. I told him to move on, but he hasn’t. (Four tails… He’s getting angrier… Not yet though, he’s not at the point of no return,)

 

All twenty of us gather in a circle again, planning on what to do for our third, and hopefully final, match. Tokage throws her arms up in the air, groaning. “Okay, Inochi and Kendo got their time in the spotlight. Shiozaki too… Who wants to plan the next match out?”

 

Monoma immediately raises his hand, faster than Tetsutetsu. “Oh, Tetsutetsu! You go first,” Monoma says, letting him go first. Tetsutetsu nods, bringing his fist to his chest.

 

“We oughta use Pony’s horns! She can take us to 1-D’s flag and back!” he suggests, looking over to Pony. She looks up at her horns, tapping them. Monoma laughs in his own, Monoma way.

 

“That’s what I was thinking! Why attack from the ground when we could take to the skies? How about Tetsutetsu and Kaibara be the ones to take the flag in? They are more than capable of fighting 1-D,” Monoma inputs his opinion, which everyone agrees with, especially me. They’re two great fighters, so there’s no reason for them to not be the lead.

 

“Alright Monoma, I’m fine with it,” Kaibara says, walking besides Tetsutetsu, who’s tearing up for some reason.

 

“Th-Thank you! I’ll give them a taste of real steel! I won’t let you down!” He puts an arm around Kaibara, who doesn’t seem amused in the slightest. Tetsutetsu’s always been a fluffy guy. Let’s be honest, he’s a puppy. A very good boy, deserving praise everyday.

 

Monoma grins, stepping into the circle with Kendo and Tokage. He begins to tell us our instructions.

 

***

 

“You know, Pony’s been worried about Kamakiri. She keeps talking to me in English,” Honenuki tells me, as we’re standing in the middle of our zone. Monoma assigned Honenuki and I to defense as Kaibara and Tetsutetsu will take to the skies. I don’t mind, since I already got my fill of the action.

 

About Pony and Kamakiri? I suspected that Pony would still be upset over him. When Kendo and I tell her about Operation Jack Mantis , she’ll join without a second thought. What’s Kendo’s plan though? Maybe it’s the good ol’ fashion of talking-to-Kamakiri-and-hoping-we’ll-convince-him-and-stuff. So in other words, the power of friendship.

 

I swear, Manga’s been telling me about friendship power. It’s commonly in... Uhm… That type of manga… Sho… Shonen? He said that, I hope it’s called “shonens”, are for male readers in our age range. His favorite is the one with ninjas doing weird hand movements. He also told me that Shojo called him “the gag character” and “the comic relief” if he was put into one.

 

 

I mean, she isn’t wro-

 

“Inochi, are you listening?” Honenuki takes me out of my thoughts. Crap, he’s giving me a weird look!

 

I try to restate what Honenuki said, “Uhm, something about Pony and Kamakiri. What about them?” Honenuki cackles, crossing his arms.

 

“Yeah, think Pony has a crush on him? It’s the classic good girl bad guy romance!” he asks me as we glance over to Pony. She’s talking to Kendo and Kodai, hopping up and down. Her and Kamakiri? Together? I can kinda see it, but I never took Honenuki as a romantic.

 

“Maybe, what does Honenuki the Romantic say about it? Will they or won’t they? That is the question,” I ask him back. He shrugs, sayin-

 

FWEEEEET

 

Never mind, he doesn’t say anything. Miss Kojoseicho blew the whistle, starting the third match. Honenuki and I get ready, watching the battle unfold. Pony sends Kaibara and Tetsutetsu, who has two horns tucked underneath their armpits, into 1-D’s territory from the air. Awase, Shishida, Shoda, and Rin are going in from the ground, acting as bait. Yibiju fires at Kaibara and Tetsutetsu, but Pony weaves them away from her projectiles.

 

On the ground, Kazeha and Suzuki are focusing on taking the bait out. Even though Kazeha can transform into petals and Suzuki has five tails, Shishida is acting as a human shield for all of them in his Beast form. Wait, someone else is in the air… Mantora. His fist is glowi-?!

BOOOM!

WHOOOOSH!

 

Holy crap! Mantora just punched the ground! A massive shockwave was generated from his fist, cracking the ground! (Honenuki and I are not even close to him and he’s that powerful!) Wind followed suit, hitting all of us like a truck. Okay, now I know why he didn’t use his Quirk! He would have actually killed me! I thought he was joking!

 

From the shockwave, Suzuki and Kazeha quickly tore the belts off of the bait, who were knocked on the ground. Kaibara and Tetsutetsu fell from the sky, getting out as well. That’s not good… Monoma’s plan failed. Honenuki and I worryingly look at each other. “Well, looks like Glowing Heart is stupid powerful.”

 

“Yeah, looks like we’ll be on the defensive this ti-?!”

 

I get interrupted with Suzuki letting out a vicious battle cry, going into our zone by himself. Honenuki and I stare as Yanagi and Kuroiro try to get him out. Yanagi telepathically took his belt off of him using her Quirk, but it doesn’t stop him. Suzuki lunges forward, taking her by the arm and slamming her into the ground. A small crater is left from the impact...

 

Oh God… Damn it! Is he actually-?!

 

He staggers Kuroiro by punching his chest. Suzuki lifts a nearby concrete barrier up and hits Kuroiro with it like a bat. The barrier shatters from the impact as… As Kuroiro goes completely unconscious meters away. Six tails... Honenuki… Honenuki says with utter fear in his voice, “Ino… Inochi…”

 

WHOOSH!

CRASH!

 

Tsuburaba flew right by us. We helplessly watch as he crashes into a ruined building. The support crumbles, falling on top of him. Oh my God… With a force like that… Damn it, I need to snap myself out of this! I take a step forward, yelling at Honenuki, “Get Tsuburaba! I’m getting Kendo!” He nods, running over to him.

 

I turn my focus to the battlefield, frantically looking around for Kendo. Damn it! I don’t see her! Where is she?! Where’s Pony and Kodai?! I glance to 1-D, who are standing in complete shock, still like statues. Crap, they won’t help us! I don’t think the Pro Heroes are noticing that Suzuki has gone off the deep end!

 

CRASH!

 

Oh my God, Manga! I run over to him, checking his body for any broken bones or wounds… Nothing… Okay, he’s just unconscious… Just unconscious… To think that Suzuki would hurt him… Manga doesn’t deserve this!

 

“LET GO OF HER!” Tokage yells, grabbing my attention. Suzuki lifts Shiozaki by her neck with one hand. Tokage prepares to split her body, but it was too late. Suzuki throws Shiozaki at her. They’re knocked back with a brief circle of wind surrounding them. I can’t see where they landed…

 

Shiozaki… Tokage…

 

I can hear Suzuki laughing like an insane man. He’s enjoying this… Can I even assume it’s him anymore? His eyes, they aren’t human. They’re like a rabid dog out for blood, not caring whose it is, only caring that it’s spilled.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, to my left, I see Kodai and Pony running to the back. Then… Thank God, Kendo’s there! “YOU BASTARD!” Damn it, never mind! She’s charging in by herself! I leave Manga behind, sprinting after Kendo. Suzuki turns to her, laughing, cackling even louder. He flashes his hand, showing his claw-like nails.

 

Oh God, Kendo will get herself killed!

 

“KENDO!!!” I yell at her, but she doesn’t turn back. I yell again, running faster than I could ever imagine. Kendo stops a few meters away from him, enlarging her fists. Oh God, please don’t! I was afraid of this, but it’s even worse! Doesn’t she remember our promise?! Come on, Kendo!

 

Wait, what the fuck are the Pro Heroes doing?! What is anyone doing?! Why is no one stopping this?! Does anyone see that Suzuki is going to kill Kendo?! Anyone?!

 

“You shouldn’t have hurt my friends!” Kendo threatens Suzuki, raising her fists. I can only see her back, but I feel her anger where I’m at! She’s thinking on her emotions! Suzuki… He takes a step forward with his claws back. Oh God, no!

 

With his tails batting. (Not yet!!!)

 

With his eyes blood red. (I won’t let him-!!!)

 

He strikes. (Hurt her!!!)

 

SLASH!

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

THUD!

 

Like lightning, Suzuki struck. The flicker of his tails was the only thing I saw before I felt something heavy tackling me to the ground. I instinctively closed my eyes, hearing the clean sound of his claws swiping something before a scream. I open my eyes, seeing a flash of blood flying through the air. Thick blood that covers Suzuki’s gym uniform.

 

It’s not my blood.

 

“Get up, Kendo!” Inochi gets off of me, lifting me back up. Oh my God… His back… It’s torn open on his right shoulder blade. He winces in pain, barely able to hold himself up. I shrink my hands, supporting Inochi up. We look at Suzuki, who’s standing there menacingly. He has his bloody hand to his face, painting his cheeks with Inochi’s blood.

 

“I should have done that a long time ago, Inochi. I’ll show you true pain by tearing your limbs. Just watch, ” he threatens us. Suzuki takes a step back, letting his tails turn from six to nine. Nine tails?! That’s the maximum isn’t it?!

 

Inochi told me that he has a chance of going berserk, but I think he’s wrong. Each tail doesn’t increase the chance of making him jump from nice to angry… Each tail makes him angrier and angrier, stacking his anger onto each other! That’s why he was yelling at 1-D so much! I should have...

 

“If Suzuki starts to get angry, so angry that the word isn’t fit to describe him, then promise me: Call the game off, and get any and all Pro Heroes to restrain him. Please.”

 

I should have listened to Inochi...

 

His laughter, that insane laughter becomes an animal howling. He falls to his hands and knees, his joyful howling turning into a pained scream. The clothes on his body are torn into shreds, exposing his nude body to us. We helplessly watch as his nine tails turn from a light red to white. His skin gets paler, sprouting white fur all over his body. He slowly grows, starting to be something that’s far from human. Hands and feet turning to paws with black, sharp claws. His face… It’s like what he is: A fox.

 

Nine Tails. This is the true nature of Nine Tails. It’s the transformation of a rabid, massive beast. So much like a Villain. That’s what Suzuki is. It’s what he is for hurting my best friend.

 

Inochi yells at me to run away, but I was already doing it. He moans in pain, getting limper with each second. We manage to run to the exit without Suzuki running after us. Mister Kan is there, having the door open. There’s countless students running out while, I hope, the Pro Heroes are staying back. I see members of my class and 1-D are carrying the unconscious out. (I’m sorry, everyone...) We escape Gym Gamma, letting the sun hit my face. It blinds me for a second, but everything comes back to me. On the nearest bench, I put Inochi down on his belly.

 

“T-Tell me, doc… How bad is it?” Inochi asks me, trying to laugh despite his wounds, but he groans in pain. I couldn’t help but to laugh with him though. He would say something like this… I would yell at him for acting like an idiot, but I don’t have the energy to. He’s in a bad shape...

 

I assure him, “Y-You’ll be fine… Help is coming.” I really hope Recovery Girl is nearby. If she isn’t, then I’m afraid that Inochi… No, I can’t think about that! Inochi has to make it! He has too… Please.

 

“I got him.” I turn around to see Mantora. Wait, I think I overheard that his Quirk can heal people! He can save Inochi! He hovers his hands over Inochi’s wounded shoulder, getting ready to heal him. Mantora tell us, “This will hurt, a lot . Kendo, hold him down and give him a stick to bite.”

 

“F-Figured,” Inochi groans, shifting around underneath Mantora. I grab a stick, putting it in his mouth. I push my hands against Inochi’s back, pressing it down. He whimpers in pain as Mantora lets out a deep breath. Then… Then he puts his hands on his torn shoulder. (Come on Inochi, you can handle this.)

 

Immediately, he groans in agony, shifting violently. Mantora grits his teeth, letting the glow of his Quirk spread to his arms, illuminating his vines with a yellowish-orange glow. It reaches his hands, transferring it to Inochi’s shoulder, which lights up too. The glow reaches his cut and starts to… It starts to forcibly pull his torn flesh together. Inochi practically screams at this point, struggling hard to get free. (I’m sorry…) I push my hands down harder, keeping him still. I watch as his wound is closed shut, glowing. It glows brighter for a few seconds before it dims, disappearing altogether. Mantora suddenly lets go and falls to his knees, breathing heavily. His Glowing Heart is almost completely gone at this point.

 

Inochi’s body goes limp. The stick falls out of his mouth. Oh, please tell me it worked! I run over his head, checking for a pulse in his neck… Thank God, I feel it beating… He must have gone unconscious from the pain… Just the thought of flesh getting pulled together… It must be complete suffering...

 

I turn to Mantora, smiling sadly. “Mantora… You saved him. Thank you,” I thank him, wiping the sweat (and maybe tears) off of my face. Mister Kan runs up to the three of us, sighing in relief. He forces Mantora to sit against the bench, giving him some water. I sit on the ground, breathing heavily.

 

“Mantora, Kendo… I’m sorry for letting Suzuki convince me. If I knew he would hurt all of you like this, then I would have him be charged as a Villain,” Mister Kan tells us, sighing at the sight of Inochi. Mantora simply nods, not saying anything. I nod too, not having the energy to move my body.

 

Ugh, everything happened so fast… One moment, I was talking to Pony and Yui about Operation Jack Mantis , and the next… I saw Yanagi being beaten to the ground. I felt so angry and went after Suzuki myself. Then… Then Inochi came in and saved me. I might have died if it wasn’t for him. Is this why Inochi didn’t want this competition? Because Suzuki would hurt our friends? I should have listened to him… None of this would have happened if I had listened to him. Heh, if he was conscious, he would-

 

CRASH!

 

What the hell?! I jump back up to my feet, looking at what just happened! From the side of Gym Gamma, Suzuki crashed through it, getting knocked back with a mound of dirt piling at his hindlegs. He comes out with… Midoriya?! His right arm is black and blue, it looks like it’s broken! More 1-A students are coming through the hole! Right, they were watching our match! Are they really fighting Suzuki?!

 

“GO TO HELL, FOX BASTARD!” Bakugo yells, using his explosions to guide him through the air, grabbing onto Suzuki’s nose. He forces his hands against Suzuki’s snout, pushing an explosion through. The smoke cloud covers his entire head. Suzuki howls in pain, managing to bat Bakugo off of him.

 

“Here!” Yaoyorozu says, creates a net from her belly. Ashido and Jirou stretch it out to full surface area. Bakugo lands in the middle, making the net bounce slightly. He yells at them that he could have landed safely. In spite, they let go of net, tangling Bakugo in it.

 

“DARK SHADOW!” Tokoyami yells. Dark Shadow, his Quirk, appears from his body and starts to attack Suzuki, who tries to swipe him away, but it’s too fast. “Sorry, too fast for ya, Foxy!” Dark Shadow taunts, sticking his tongue out.

 

“Move back, Tokoyami,” Todoroki orders. Tokoyami does so, drawing Dark Shadow away. Right after, Todoroki slams his right foot on the ground. A wave of ice emerges from it, running through the ground. It hits Suzuki, encasing everything but his head in ice. That’s a genius move! Suzuki would be able to break out, but it gives everyone enough time to attack!

 

“Deku! Get him!” Uraraka exclaims, raising her fist in the air. Midoriya nods, clenching his left fist. He dashes up Todoroki’s ice like a ramp with the rest of 1-A watching him. Suzuki growls, trying to break free. The ice behind Midoriya cracks, moving faster than he is.

 

CRACK!

 

The ice breaks completely. Midoriya jumps as Suzuki roars, his mouth opened wide, showing his array of sharp fangs. Midoriya pulls his left fist back, gritting his teeth. His green hair flies back in the wind as his shirt tears off of his chest.

 

He yells in his heart, “SMAAAAAAASH!!!”

 

SMASH!

WHOOSH!

 

He uppercuts Suzuki, imitating All Might’s famous punch. A massive vortex of wind is sent upwards, lifting Suzuki about fifty meters in the air. When he lands, he lands hard. A big cloud of smoke and dust almost covers us before it settles. What’s left of Suzuki is him, completely naked in his human form. Inside a crater that must be as big as his Nine Tails Form.

 

Midoriya lands in another net made by Yaoyorozu. All of 1-A surround him (with Bakugo throwing his own net away). Well, it’s a well deserved victory. Finally, that asshole gets what’s coming to him. He deserved every punch he got, especially from almost killing Inochi. But man , Midoriya has some real power to him. It’s a lot like All Might, down to his catchphrase. If I didn’t know any better, Midoriya is his protege.

 

All the Pro Heroes, out of Gym Gamma and the outside stalls, swarm 1-A and Suzuki. I hear them asking for their names and things like that. Except for a few, like Grandmaster and The Count, who’re checking up Tokage and Manga. For the rest of the Heroes? It’s like they forgot the competition existed, along with 1-B and 1-D.

 

“So it seems 1-A had upstaged us from our own game. Such arrogant people, stealing the show from others,” Monoma appears besides me, glaring at Midoriya. His voice gets a bit more sinister than usual, but that’s Monoma. It’s dramatic and boastful Monoma.

 

“You could say that, but I’m happy that Suzuki is defeated,” I tell him, looking over to Inochi. He’s still unconscious… Monoma sighs, letting his eyes go sad for a brief second before going back to his usual look.

 

(I hear Bakugo screaming, “IF I WASN’T TANGLED IN THIS FUCKING NET!”)

 

“Mhm, Inochi is a strong man. But I insist that 1-A is such a prideful class, especially after this! Defeating a giant beast akin to a fantasy epic? The news will be broadcasting this everyday for the next week! They’ll forget about the extraordinary martial arts that you and Inochi displayed and Shiozaki’s raw Quirk power! If 1-A’s so great, why don’t the-”

I interrupt his nonsensical tirade, “Be quiet.”

 

CHOP!

 

“Ghrk!” Monoma grunts, falling on the ground. I hold him up by his sleeve, staring at Mantora and Mister Kan, who’re staring right back. A few awkward seconds go by. Then a few more… And then another few more.

 

Mantora finally comments, “...At least it isn’t Kazeha.”



Yup, Monoma’s much better than her.

 

***

 

“You want us, all twenty-one of us , to stop Kamakiri?” Tsuburaba asks me with an shocked (and personally, a bit of a stupid) look on his face. Unlike Suzuki, Kamakiri actually deserves to be at U.A. Thank goodness that everyone is okay though, especially Inochi. Too bad he’s stuck in Principal Nezu’s office with Mister Kan.

 

“Of course! He shouldn’t waste this opportunity of a lifetime! Don’t you agree, Tsuburaba?” I ask him, watching his face closely. He looks pretty scared. He never talked to Kamakiri much, if not at all. He’s the kind of guy who would stay away from Kamakiri just from rumors alone. I don’t blame him.

 

“Uhm… You tried to punch him yesterday. What changed?” Shoda raises his voice, perking his head up from his desk. For Shoda, he’s a shy man. His Quirk is amazing though! He’s a direct counter to people like me.

 

“Well-”



Yanagi interrupts me, “Inochi spoke to you, didn’t he? He did prevent you from harming him and wished to speak to you, correct?” With that question, most of the class go “ahh” in unison. (I don’t understand why though.) The only ones who didn’t are Awase, Tokage, Yui, and Pony since they’re already on board. We’re standing in front of the class with everyone else seated.

 

“Yeah, and he’s completely right. We all know that Inochi’s been bullied for being basically Quirkless, especially from Suzuki, but what about Kamakiri? Being a Villain’s son is much worse than that! Imagine what he went through,” I try to convince everyone. I kinda wish that Inochi was here to help me, but I got this. If I let their imagination go wild (especially after what happened with Suzuki), they’ll be lining up to help.

 

“Well, I don’t wanna fight another Suzuki I’m in, Kendo!!” Manga stands up, joining me with Awase, Tokage, Yui, and Pony. (I always knew I could count on him!) Honenuki and Bondo stand up too.

 

“Agreed. That, and Kamakiri doesn’t seem too bad. He’s like that… That tsun thing in Manga’s animes,” Honenuki stands besides Awase, cackling slightly to himself. (“It’s tsundere…” Manga mutters underhis breath. I don’t know what that is. Manga’s such a dorky nerd.) Bondo timidly nods, having his hands folded together. He squeezes himself between Manga and Tokage.

 

Monoma is the next to stand up. “Kamakiri is a man full of potential! He was chosen to be in our class for a reason! And we need as much power as we can get to outclass 1-A!” Tetsutetsu and Kaibara gets out of their chairs as well.

 

“Mhm! To be honest, I’m kinda afraid of the guy, but he’s a bro! Bro gotta help bros out, you know?” Tetsutetsu makes his case, patting his chest. Awase does the same thing while Kaibara just shrugs.

 

He says, “I’m with Monoma with this one, not about the 1-A thing. If you all can’t see that Kamakiri has potential, then why are you at U.A. in the first place?” His eyes glance over to Shiozaki before the three of them move themselves at the end of the line.

 

Komori raises her hand, shaking slightly. “K-Kendo… Are you sure that Kamakiri won’t be angry with us?”

 

“I guarantee it. Trust me, Komori.” I bring my hand to my chest, smiling brightly at her. A second or two goes by before she stands up. Smiling cutely, she walks over with Kuroiro behind her. He only nods at me (probably helping because of Komori) as they squeeze into the line. Yanagi, like a zombie, quietly walks to the end of the line without a word. I briefly exchange a grateful glance with her before she leaves my line of sight.

 

Shoda sighs and stands up. “I-I’ll do it. It’s the only thing I can do!”

 

Rin does too with a slight grin on his face. “Mhm. ‘A man’s heart is indiscernible from his chest.’ That’s a Chinese proverb that my parents taught me. Even though Kamakiri may seem like an evil guy, I have a feeling that he’s a caring man.”

 

From what Rin said, Shishida stands up as well, pushing his glasses up. “That is a wise thing to say, Mister Rin. You have convinced me.” The three of them join us. That’s almost everyone! Tsuburaba and Shiozaki are the only ones that left.

 

“Ah, you know what? To hel-” Tsubaraba says, but stops when he looks at Shiozaki. “To heck , with it. I’m in.” He moves besides Awase, muttering something to him. Last (and the hardest to convince) is Shiozaki. Ever since she had gotten punished, she’s been quiet. When Tokage wanted her to take down 1-D, she did it reluctantly.

 

“I don’t deserve the right to help Kamakiri,” Shiozaki quietly admits. She runs her fingers through a few strands of her thorny hair. Ah, that’s why… Shiozaki’s mainly a pacifist, and she went against her beliefs.

 

Tokage takes a step forward, going to cheer up her crush. “Please Shiozaki! We need you! Why do you think that anyway?” Shiozaki looks down at her desk. A single tear trickle down her cheek. She wipes it away, sniffling.

 

She argues, “I-I harmed Kamakiri, told him that he doesn’t belong here. How will he find forgiveness in his heart? I’m a hypocrite, judging him for his sins and not my own…” Aw, Shiozaki, she’s trying to be a good person. I feel terrible for thinking that Shiozaki would still have a grudge against Kamakiri. It’s the exact opposite. Shiozaki bares the complete guilt of him dropping out. She isn’t the only one...

 

I watch Tokage. She takes a deep breath in, exhaling. “You believe that every person deserves forgiveness, right? That especially applies to you. If Kamakiri sees you there, forgiving him, then he’ll surely forgive you in return.”

 

I add on, “And you aren’t the only one who feels guilty. Did you forget that I almost knocked him out?” I laugh a little at my own comment, trying to brighten the mood. Shiozaki looks up at her desk, staring at Tokage and I. A few seconds pass before she happily sighs, standing up.

 

“Very well. I’ll do everything it takes to convince Kamakiri. I promise you,” Shiozaki says, walking to the front of the room with Tokage. Heh, she promises us… I’m sure she’ll keep it.

 

“Can you promise me something?”

 

I need to apologize to Inochi…  

 

“Well, it seems like you gotten everything taken care of.” Speaking of the devil. Inochi walks into class with Mister Kan. There’s a bright smile on his face, lighting the entire room up. I can faintly see the outlines of bandages underneath his U.A. uniform. Mister Kan looks at all of us with a tired look on his face.

 

“Inochi told me about this… Operation Jack Mantis . I personally fought for Kamakiri to be accepted into U.A. So, Kendo, how are you going to convince him?” Mister Kan asks me as I step out of the line, facing everyone. Their attention is on me, listening intently. Well, I am the Class Representative.

 

“Alright, we’re going to…”

 

I tell them the plan.

 

***

 

Inochi sighs in relief, opening his arms and letting the wind hit him. He winces in pain a little, but he’s still smiling. “Today was such a long day! Tomorrow’s gonna be longer too, with Operation Jack Mantis and everything. I’m ready for it!”

 

We start to walk back home, taking our usual route. The wind gently breezes by as some cars past us. Inochi’s still smiling. He’s so energetic even after what happened today. It’s like he forgot that Suzuki tore his shoulder open or felt immense pain. And forgot that I-

 

“You know, looking at me and frowning isn’t the best way to talk. What’s up?” Inochi asks me. He puts his hands in his pockets with a concerned look over me. I told myself that I need to apologize to him, so…

 

I open my mouth and say, “I’m-”



“I forgive you,” he interrupts me, knowing what I was going to say. At this point, it doesn’t surprise me. We know each other that well, but I’d thought he would be a tiny bit upset like earlier. Though, I don’t think he has it in his heart to be mad at me.

 

“Heh,” I weakly laugh, partly looking over at him, “even though your shoulder got all torn up, you’re still not mad at me. I mean, I broke our promise, so why aren’t you mad?” Inochi hums, processing what I said. It’s sarcastic though, so he already has his answer.

 

“I admit, I was hoping you would remember during it,” he tells me, moving his right shoulder slightly. There’s going to be a “but” after this. “But, fighting Suzuki to buy time for Kodai and Pony? That’s something a Pro Hero would do.”

 

“A Pro Hero?” I find myself saying. That thought never came across my mind… I only wanted Yui and Pony to escape. To be honest, Inochi was like a Pro Hero too when he tackled me on the ground…

 

Inochi suddenly laughs, taking his hands out of his pockets. “That’s it, Kendo! You didn’t think about being a Hero, you only thought about protecting others! That mindset is exactly like one!” There he goes again, complimenting me.

 

“Well, you’re the guy who took a claw for me, Mister Hero. You’re as much of one as me.” I nudge his arm playfully. Wait, Inochi never told me what happened in Principal Nezu’s office. “Oh, while we’re on the topic, why did Principal Nezu want to talk to you?”

 

Inochi’s smile falls from his face and lets out a breath. “Him, and the first-year board, asked me about my past with Suzuki and what led up to his attack. I told them that he was a bully back in middle school and had an extreme rivalry with me. Then, Principal Nezu asked me a really nerve-wracking question: ‘Do you think Karisuma Suzuki should remain at U.A.?’”

 

We stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Did they really ask Inochi that?! They might have wanted to ask him if they’re at an impasse or needed his opinion. I wished they asked me though, because I would have expelled him without a single doubt. But Inochi? Asking him? I already know what he said.

 

So, I turn to him. He’s looking up at the clouds with his hair swaying slightly in the wind. There’s a soft smile on his face, like he’s at peace. “I told Principal Nezu that he should. Suzuki is a victim of his Quirk who doesn’t need punishment, but proper teaching,” he explains. He stops staring at the clouds, looking at me with his kind, gentle eyes.

 

He asks me, “He’s staying in U.A. You know, being in this school is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It shouldn’t be wasted, right Kendo?”

 

 

This man… This stupid, goofy man… It’s only been a week and he’s already too much for me. What am I going to do with a man like him?

 

I simply nod, copying his smile. “Right.”

 

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

“Hey, wake up sleepy head!”

 

I opened my eyes. A blurry man, a young-looking man, with frizzy white hair stood above me. There was a warm smile on his face. It was morning though, so I groaned and stuck my tongue out at him. I threw my blanket over myself, trying to hide from him. 

 

“Don’t be like that-”



“...Inochi,” Awase calls my name. Crap, I spaced out again. What’s happening again? Oh, that’s right! We’re getting food from Shojo. Manga told us that she’s a great cook. Since she’s a shut-in, it makes sense for her to be a great cook and all. That’s why she’s making the best for Operation Jack Mantis . Awase and I are picking it up, also picking Manga up too, then heading towards Shiozaki’s.

 

“You in there, Inochi? You’ve been staring out into space for a minute, dude,” Awase reminds me of my own absent mindedness. Okay, I need to remind myself where we are for a second. We’re standing in the middle of a sidewalk. I think we’re almost at Manga’s house too. Alright, that solves that problem. I should probably respond to Awase. He’s looking at me like I’m a freak (which I am).

 

“Yeah! Yeah, sorry…” I apologize, scratching the back of my head. About that memory, it popped in my head yesterday, after I woke up in Recovery Girl’s office. I don’t know what it’s about though. That guy doesn’t look like Dad, but has white hair like we do. It’s best to not dwell on this. My family can show up when I’m dying and somehow save me from death because I’m related to a legendary Pro Hero or something. (“That’s how shonens work,” Manga always says even though I don’t get his nerdy references.)

 

“Alright man,” Awase says, turning to look at a house ahead of us, “I think that’s Manga’s house. Think Shojo have Manga’s, you know, head?” We start walking our final steps towards their house. It’s pretty average. Exactly what one would imagine an average house.

 

I shrug my shoulders as a response to Awase. “I’m sure we’re in for a shock one way or another,” I say, staring at the door. Awase watches the door before looking at me, gesturing with his hands. Well, guess he wants me to ring the doorbell. I step up and press the brass butto-

 

Do do do do do do do wa!

 

Uhm that’s interesting. Some kind of anime music is playing. I hear guitar, some bass, and that’s about it because I’m not an expert on music. (“This is definitely Manga’s house,” Awase comments to himself.) Did Manga and/or Shojo really program their doorbell to play anime music? I mean, I don’t hate the song… Anyway, Awase quietly moves besides me as we wait fo-

 

THUD!

 

Someone fell. It must be Manga considering how clumsy he is. We hear his footsteps coming closer to the door. The brass doorknob turns and... “Hey guys,” Manga quietly greets us, rubbing his head. He’s wearing pretty laid-back clothing considering today. To be honest, I’m surprised he isn’t wearing anything anime-related.

 

“What’s with the doorbell?” Awase asks, letting himself in. I go inside too and immediately, the smell of egg rolls hits my nose. Holy crap, that smells amazing. I haven’t eaten a homemade egg roll in years. Manga’s right, his sister is a great cook from smells alone.

 

“Ask Shojo. She doesn’t have a single bone of shame in her body,” Manga answers, pointing his thumb to the kitchen. Sounds of sizzling and clapping of tongs come from it. Awase looks over with a curious look on his face. Manga grabs his shirt, trying to pull him back, but he isn’t strong enough. The sizzling slowly gets quieter though before stopping completely. 

 

Shojo exclaims, “Manga, I’m done!” She comes out with… Uhm, a welding mask… Why… Why does she need a welding mask? I mean, she has a cute pink cooking apron on, but a welding mask? Speaking of faces, I can’t see if Shojo has Manga’s “features” or not. Awase steps back to me as Shojo quietly says, “Oh… There’s people here.” And with that, Shojo freezes up.

 

Manga loudly groans and shakes his head. He introduces us, “Shojo, these people are my friends. Sanji Inochi and Yosetsu Awase.” Shojo makes a weird confirmation sound, still standing still like a deer caught in headlights. Awase and I stare at her for a second or two before her shoulders jerk up.

 

“Eek! I’m so sorry! We’re supposed to shake hands right?! Uhm, hand!” she panics as she sticks her, nervously shaking, hand at us. I step forward and gladly give her a firm shake. Her hand is a bit sweaty though, but she is Manga’s twin sister. Shojo nervously whimpers before letting go, turning to Awase. He shakes her hand too with a gleaming smile.


“Thanks you for doing this, Shojo,” I thank her with a smile of my own, putting my hand to my chest. Shojo stares at me for a second or two before shrieking, stepping back into a wall. Oh jeez… She must be so nervous.


“Ehhh?! First names already?! Wait, I know why!” Shojo exclaims, pointing her finger furiously at me like I’m on trial, “Your name is Sanji! You flirt with every woman you see don’t you?!” Uhm, I’m not sure if I should be offended or happy! Is this another reference that I don’t get? Manga and Shojo really are siblings!

 

I apologize, “S-Sorry! I thought since Manga lets us call him by his first name, it’s the same with you! I-I’ll just-” Fukidashi interrupts me by sticking one of her fingers up.

 

She commands me, “Don’t back out! Shojo’s acceptable.” I stand up with my arms straight, rested at my side, nodding. I won’t argue with her. Awase laughs, putting an elbow on my shoulder while Manga does the equivalent of rolling his eyes.

 

“Inochi’s a real ladies man,” Awase says, not helping my case whatsoever. Shojo huffs and crosses her arms, propping her small breasts up. She has a small and petite frame, but it’s not unusual for a girl. Manga sighs and walks up to Shojo, tapping on her welding mask. 

 

He asks her, “Why do you have a welding mask? It’s way too big for you. Don’t be a weirdo and take it off already.”

 

She shakes her head, saying, “Manga, you need to understand that if I take this mask off, then my true form will be revealed. No one can hand-Wha?! Hey!” And Manga yanks it right off of her face. Shojo’s true form is revealed to Awase and I and… Huh, she doesn’t look like Manga. Shojo’s an attractive woman, even more so if someone’s into nerdy girls. Her hair is auburn, tied back into a ponytail. She wears black-framed glasses that comfortably sits at the bridge of her nose. I catch a glimpse of her eyes, which are pinkish-red. If Manga and Shojo were put together though, no one would be able to tell that they’re twins. 

 

Shojo shrieks, louder than before. Her face immediately gets red and turns away from us, rolling into a ball. Manga fumes and couches down, talking to her. Awase whispers in my ear, “Dude, Shojo’s really damn cute.” (Speaking of guys into nerdy girls.)

 

“Interested in girls like her?” I ask, quietly listening in on Shojo and Manga’s conversation. Well, I can’t really hear it. They’re on the edge of barely audible, and even then, I can only make out a few words.

 

Awase beams (quietly), “Hell yeah. Nerdy girls are cute, dorky, and passionate. Think Manga would mind?” Oh my God, please don’t. I’m not sure if Manga would appreciate having a new brother-in-law, especially if it’s Awase. No offense to him, but Awase should learn to keep his thoughts to himself. (Like how I do.)

 

I answer, “Not at all. I’m pretty sure Manga would kill you.” Awase nods and hums, acknowledging that I’m right. Speaking of Manga, he stands up with Shojo. Shojo pushes her glasses up and looks over to the kitchen with her hands meekly together. I glance at Awase, who’s blushing slightly. Let’s hope they don’t see it. 

 

“Y-You can get the egg rolls now. We just need to pack them,” Shojo leads the three of us into the kitchen. There’s about two or three tupperware containers and one big basket of egg rolls. They look delicious, but I have to satisfy my hunger later. Shojo messes around with her phone, putting some music on while we package these things.

 

Man, Manga and Shojo seem like great siblings… Oh right, I asked about Shojo yesterday didn’t I? Which reminds me… Grandmaster and The Count both perked their heads up when I said her name. Not only that, Grandmaster had a specific way to refer to people. Tokage as “miss” and Suzuki as “mister”, but he didn’t call Manga “mister”. From their body language and speaking manners, do these four already know each other?

 

“And that’s it!” Shojo exclaims, looking proud at the sight of her egg rolls neatly together. Awase and I both take a tub each, going back to the other room with Manga and Shojo behind. Ah… They smell so good… I feel like I could eat a tub of this within ten minutes. Good thing I know self-control, but these things challenge it so hard... “Also, here’s this!” She hands a slip of paper to Awase and I. Oh, it has her number on it. (Awase makes a little gesture to himself once he sees it.)

 

“I’m interrogating both of you on your fight with this Suzuki guy. Apparently, U.A. isn’t expelling him,” she tells us, which I already know. Awase and Manga though? They look pretty shocked. Yeah, I figured… Because...

 

“Do you think Karisuma Suzuki should remain at U.A.?”

 

The second after Principal Nezu asked me that, I immediately answered him. I said, “Without a doubt. Suzuki is at the mercy of his own Quirk, added on from my presence, got out of hand. He needs proper training and discipline, not to be chastised and punished. If anything, I should be at fault for what happened today. I knew the dangers of his Quirk, but never bothered to bring it up with any of the staff here.”

 

The first-year board exchanged a glance with one another. Mister Kan looked like he was shocked with my answer. In fact, a lot of the teachers were. All Might… He had a proud look on my face, as if he was saying, You’re saving Young Suzuki, aren’t you? The others, they nodded and smiled, agreeing with what I said. Principal Nezu jumped on the table with his hands behind his back.

 

“That settles it! From the looks of everyone here, Karisuma Suzuki shall remain at U.A.! Thank you for your opinion, Mister Inochi! You won’t be punished for what happened, as you did nothing worth deeming punishment. You may leave.” Principal Nezu told me, giving me his hand to shake. I shook it with a soft smile on my face. When the meeting ended, All Might ushered me aside for a few moments.

 

“Young Inochi, your answer was extraordinary. I believe that, if Young Suzuki was expelled, then he would have become a Villain. You’ve saved futures, including his.” All Might said with his famous smile. I smiled back, thanking him for his kind words. Mister Kan came into the conversation though, wanting me back in class. So, I thanked All Might again before going back. What he said, it’s something I wouldn’t forget. 

 

“Sanji,” Shojo gets my attention (guess she’s calling me by my first name). She snaps her fingers as I instinctively jump back. I can feel Awase and Manga’s disappointment again. Oh crap, not again!

 

“Sorry about that! We gotta get going, guys! Thank you for everything Shojo, you’re great!!” I exclaim, already heading out the door with Awase and Manga already there. Awase waves goodbye while Manga mumbles something.

 

“Yeah, see you Pro Heroes-in-training later,” she says, waving goodbye as we all head out the door. Well, that’s one step of Operation Jack Mantis done. The next is heading to Shiozaki’s house and setting up the party. Too bad I had to cancel the church thing with her, but this is better. I don’t know how long church lasts, but hopefully Shiozaki and her family will be there. I know Kendo’s already there with Kodai and a few others. Tokage and Shishida, mainly Tokage, are bringing “something special”, Komori is making a bunch of dishes with mushrooms, and Mister Kan is being vague about what he’ll do. Everyone else? They probably aren’t bringing anything because of Tokage.

 

This should go great.

 

***

 

“Honey, I’m home!” I let myself in through the open door. Kendo’s the first person I see, who rolls her eyes at my goofiness. She takes the tub from my hands, placing it on a long, wooden table in the dining room. Awase does the same, going over to Tsuburaba and chatting with him. Manga decides to roam by himself. Huh… When I look around Shiozaki’s house… It’s exactly what I would expect. It’s in the upper-middle class area, spacious rooms with cozy lightning and decorations, and has a comforting feeling to it. 

 

When I walked in, I was greeted with the smell of flowers from scented candles. The wooden floor is shiny without a spec of dirt. There’s paintings on the walls, which I’m assuming they have something to do with Catholicism. One of them is a painting of a beautiful blonde lady. Or maybe that’s a picture. Anyway, there’s the dining room from earlier. A long wooden table surrounded by chairs is the main attraction. There’s a skinny, white table mat that stretches the entire length with vases in the middle. The vases has an assortment of beautiful flowers. From where I’m standing, I can’t tell if it’s real or artificial.

 

Clack clack

 

Oh, someone’s walking down. I look over and see an absolutely stunning young woman. She has braided green hair slung over her right shoulder. From first glance, she looks soft-spoken, but not afraid to speak her mind. I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s an idol or something. She doesn’t look old enough to be a mother though, so this must be Shiozaki’s sister. She walks up to me with a smile, having a hand rested on her chest.

 

“You must be Inochi. Ibara told me about you. I’m her sister, Soruka, so please, call me that,” Soruka introduces herself to me and... Oh my God, any man would fall in love with her voice. It’s so soft and sweet, like an angel is actually talking to me. I shake her hand (it’s super soft!), which I notice has an engagement ring on it. Whoever she’s engaged to is a lucky man. (In the background, I see Tsuburuba and Awase are both blushing like crazy, while Kendo is shaking her head at them in utter disappointment. She can’t deny that she has a blush herself though. I swear, Soruka can make any man or woman be head-over-heels for her.)

 

“It’s great to meet you! If I can ask, what did Shiozaki say about me?” I gently pry her for some information. I don’t exactly know why Shiozaki has an interest in me compared to everyone else. It’s not a crush though, well, I don’t think it’s a crush. If so, then Tokage is gonna kill me. Anyway, yeah! Shiozaki is strange like that.

 

“Well-Oh my,” Soruka interrupts herself, putting a hand to her mouth. She looks behind me with a shocked expression on her face. What’s going o-Oh. Oh my. That’s a lot of people with a lot of food. This reeks of Tokage, and Shishida too, to an extent. These workers, caterers most likely, are carrying in Japanese cuisine of all kinds! A lot of them are things that I have never tasted before, let alone knowing the names of them. Yeah, this is way too rich for me.

“Dodododoooo! Setsuna Tokage and Jurota Shishida have arrived!” Tokage emerges from the door in a spectacular and fabulous pose. She’s wearing a fashionable green dress that’s a bit tight to the skin. A pearl necklace (probably real, actual pearls) is hung around her neck. Shishida walks in like he isn’t associated with her. He’s wearing a modest suit that isn’t too formal. Tokage looks at Soruka and immediately turns red like a tomato.

 

“Ah, Shishida and Tokage! Welcome!” Soruka giggles at Tokage’s display. Shishida simply nods, hiding his own blush underneath his glasses. He goes into the dining room, helping the caterers set up the food. Meanwhile, Tokage is still as a statue, stuck in her pose. Yeah, I need to bail her out before Soruka gets the wrong, not necessarily false, idea.

 

“Hey Tokage, I need to talk to you about something,” I excuse myself from Soruka, taking Tokage’s hand and going into, what I assume to be, the living room. Soruka nods and helps the caterers in. In the living room, Kendo and Kodai are there too. They’re looking at Tokage, who’s a bumbling mess at the moment. (Awase and Tsuburaba must have left.)

 

I sigh, asking, “Hey guys, do you know how to fix my Tokage? We might need a new one.” I gesture to her, who’s now hugging my arm and mumbling something. Aw, she’s so cute when she’s trying to hide her face. Soruka really did a number on her.

 

Kodai shrugs as if she’s saying, Tokage is a lost cause, Inochi . Well, I can’t argue with her. Kendo shakes her head and pokes Tokage’s shoulder. She’s not responding. What if I mention Shiozaki to her? Will that change anything? Kendo decides to ask her, “Hey Tokage, what about your goddess?” Hehe, Kendo was thinking exactly what I was thinking.

 

“Uhm-”

 

“Is everything okay?” Speaking of the angel, she’s here. Oh, Shiozaki looks just as amazing as her sister! She’s wearing a light green robe with blue outlining it. A thin, white jacket covers the top half of her, which is only held together by a pin. She’s wearing black boots too like her hero costume. Tokage perks her head up and sees Shiozaki. She gets even redder than before, burying her face in my back. 

 

“Yeah, Tokage feels a bit tired from waking up early,” Kendo quickly makes an excuse for her. Kodai and I nod with her, going along with the cover. Shiozaki smiles, having her hands gently folded at her waist. She looks over to the other room, probably the dining room where all the food’s at. There’s a lot here. So many different smells that I don’t know, and all of them are equally appetizing. I hope, I pray , that Shiozaki lets us indulge and stuff our bellies to the brim.

 

“I see that Tokage doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘modest’,” Shiozaki jokes, laughing to herself. Huh… I never heard her laugh before, yet alone making a joke. She seems so relaxed too, so different compared to her at school. Maybe I was a bit wrong about her, but I’m glad I am. I laugh at her joke with Kendo joining me. Kodai doesn’t laugh, like usual, but her face has a slight smile. Meanwhile, Tokage is cutting off circulation to my arm.

 

“That’s Tokage for you. She puts plus ultra into everything and goes beyond that,” I comment, shaking my now-tingling arm. Crap, this isn’t the most pleasant sensation. Kendo notices me struggling and whispers for Tokage to let go. Surprisingly, she does. My blood rushes back throughout my arm with a warm sensation. Once free, Tokage shyly waves at Shiozaki, hiding her face. Shiozaki waves back, approaching the three of us.

 

Instinctively, Tokage backs up saying, “H-Hey Shiozak-Woah!” And... she trips on a rug. Before she falls to her doom, I grab the collar of her dress and pull her back on her feet. Here’s another example of my training paying off. A few years ago, I wouldn’t be able to realize that she fell until after the fact. Kendo is practically facepalming at this point.

 

“Hey Kendo, I’m gonna help set the party up with Tokage,” I tell her, glancing over to Tokage a couple of times. Kendo sighs in relief, giving me that look of, Please deal with her. And with that, I take Tokage’s arm and walk over to the dining room. Kuroiro, Komori, Pony, Shishida, Monoma, and Rin are all there. That’s fourteen so far. Eight more: Kaibara, Shoda, Tetsutetsu, Honenuki, Bondo, Yanagi, Mister Kan, and last but certainly not least, Kamakiri.

 

Mister Kan made sure that Kamakiri’s mom was notified of the party. Her job is to convince Kamakiri to go to this party at any cost. I’m sure she can handle it. She has the ultimate Quirk: Mom Power. Much like Hayami, she has the power to just be an awesome mom. 

 

Speaking about her, Kendo and I talked about Operation Jack Mantis with her, and Master Kendo too. He laughed, telling us that we’re “crazy young kids”. There was a nostalgic smile on his face. I figure it’s the old man in him reminiscing about his youth, but that smile soon turned into a frown. Hayami saw and changed the conversation. It must have been something personal, but it’s not right for me to pry. Wait, why am I thinking about this? Gotta be focused…

 

“Come on, Tokage, let’s take your mind off of women,” I whisper to her. She growls slightly, but we walk up to one part of the table, setting it up. Let’s see… This one has a lot of sushi in it with a lot of different kinds. I don’t know the names of any of these unfortunately, but it’ll taste great either way.

 

“Inochi… I’m a mess,” she admits, hiding her eyes underneath her hair in shame. 

 

“I’m glad you finally admitted that, my queen,” I tease her, smiling innocently. Tokage gives me a frown, slamming a stack of plastic plates on the table.

 

“I can always count on you for emotional support,” she sarcastically says, punching me in my bad shoulder. It still stings from what Suzuki did to me. I wince in pain slightly, seeing Tokage smiling in satisfaction.

 

“Tokage! Inochi!” Monoma exclaims from across the table. In the back, Rin sighs in relief and walks away. Wait, did he make Monoma talk to us? “As two of the best students in the class, we need a plan to put 1-B in the spotlight! 1-A stole the glory of Suzuki’s defeat from Inochi’s hands! It was supposed to be the classic story of the bullied overcoming the bully, but alas, it became a different tale!”

 

(“It was supposed to be?” I ask him to elaborate further, but he pretty much ignores me. Tokage is humming along and nodding. Oh come on, she’s going along with this?)

 

Tokage inquires, “What do you propose, Monoma? We still have the Sports Festival coming up. That, and I do wanna prove to Yaomomo that I am the superior heiress!” Yaomomo? Oh, Yaoyorozu. That’s right, her, Shishida, and Tokage are the wealthy students in U.A. It’s no surprise that they know each other.

 

Monoma agrees, elaborating, “Exactly that! I know that we will have a training class with 1-A as well! We have many moments where we will prove our superior skill! Especially with Inochi, being the Quirkless underdog of the story!” Why is it me, being basically Quirkless, be the only thing that matters?

 

“Monoma,” I butt into the conversation, unwrapping a tray of more sushi, “as much as you like the sound of me being a ‘Quirkless underdog’, it isn’t true. I’ve been passively using my Quirk. I’m as good as a fighter as any of you here, besides the fact that I’m legally considered to be Quirkless.”



He just laughs, adjusting his buttoned-up shirt. “I wish I had a pure of heart as you, Inochi! Quirkless or not, you need to admit that you are a great combatant. Yes, your Quirk passively enhances you, but you use it to the fullest. That’s why you have one thing that most yearn for: Skill. If you allow a little selfishness in your heart, admit at least that.” Monoma went another one of his monologues, putting his own spin on things. He didn’t addressed my point though, but it’s no reason to get fussy.

 

“Anyway, did you two hear about Suzuki? My dad, being one of the big investors in U.A. and all, told me that he isn’t expelled,” Tokage switches the topic, mentioning her father again… Mister Tokage… How could I forget?

 

… 

… 

 

I feel someone trying to push me. Real life hits my head like a truck. Aw crap, how many times am I going to space out today? I glance over to Tokage, who groans loudly. “Inochi! Did you hear what any of us said?” She gestures towards everyone in the room. Everyone is staring at me. What did Tokage say again? Something about Suzuki not being expelled… Ah, she must have told everyone about my decision.

 

“Yeah! Sorry, I hear you loud and clear,” I nervously say, laughing. “Anyway, yeah, I chose Suzuki to not be expelled. I know he hurt all of you, and that’s more than enough to expel him-”

 

“So, why didn’t you bring the sword of justice down upon him?” Kuroiro interrupts me by asking. He has a bit of a sour face. 

 

“He threw Tsuburaba through a building!” Pony reminds me of that.

“And knocked me out.” Manga too.

“Don’t forget he tore your shoulder open.” Thanks Rin.

 

And then everyone else bombards me with questions… This isn’t good… I don’t have a chance to explain myself with all these voices. But, I hear heavy footsteps approaching us. It’s Mister Kan. “Everyone, would you please don’t bother Inochi about his decision?” He comes into the room with Honenuki, Yanagi, and Kaibara. (Five more.) He has a tray of crepes in his hands, which looks amazing by the way. The questions stop with a nod in unison. Mister Kan puts the tray down on an empty spot on the table.

 

“Let’s not focus on what already happened. Suzuki’s in U.A., end of story. What we need to focus on is this weird operation of yours,” he tells all of us. From out of nowhere, Kendo appears behind him, humming. She tells all of us our new orders. I’m assigned to help set things up outside with Rin and Bondo. The three of us go into Shiozaki’s backyard. There’s folded plastic tables and chairs. Guess we’ll eat here.

 

We start to unfold them. Rin and Bondo aren’t talkative men, so it’s pretty much silent other than the sound of birds chirping. I hear more and more people coming in, so it’s safe to assume that everyone but Kamakiri is here. I, frankly, got nothing to think about at this point. What I can do is look around in Shiozaki’s backyard. There’s a greenhouse, growing fresh vegetables. There’s also a big Japanese maple tree. The backyard has a wooden fence. Yeah, this isn’t the most eventful task. It must have been twenty minutes or so until the three of us got everything set up. Rin looks around, not knowing what to do next. Bondo too. I guess we can go inside no-

 

A voice suddenly says, “Rin, Bondo, you two are needed inside.” I turn to see who it is. It’s a blue-haired, middle-aged man wearing glasses. He seems like a nice man, which means he’s Shiozaki’s father. That and he’s wearing a necklace with a cross on it. Rin and Bondo do what he says and goes inside, leaving us two alone.

 

I greet him, “Mister Shiozak-”

 

“Tohru is fine. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Inochi.” He shakes my hand, motioning me towards the greenhouse. “I need your help to move some fertilizer around. Careful, these bags are heavy,” he warns me as we’re picking up the first bag. We lift it up and place it in a nearby wheelbarrow.

 

“Tohru,” I grunt, picking up another bag with him, “I have to ask: Why does Shiozaki talk about me? I don’t really know how I’m different than anyone else.” We put another bag in the wheelbarrow. He slightly laughs, pushing his glasses up.

 

“Well, she believes that you are the most sinless out of her class,” he explains as we work on another bag. That’s kinda what I was expecting honestly. She speaks to me a bit less vindictive than everyone else. At least she knows that I’m not completely sinless, or else that’ll be a problem.

 

“Ah, I’m not worthy of her compliments,” I say, laughing at my own joke. Tohru laughs too, putting the last bag in the wheelbarrow. He smacks the dirt off of his hands before wiping it off with a cloth. We hear Tokage inside the house, talking about “how freaking awesome” this party will be.

 

Tohru smiles from her enthusiasm. “If I can ask, is Tokage a lesbian?” Ehhh?! Oh crap, he knows the answer doesn’t he?! This isn’t goo- And he starts laughing, patting my shoulder. “Don’t worry, Inochi. Her secret is safe. You know, this reminds me of my wife. Do you want to hear?”

 

I nod. (Thank goodness that Tohru isn’t that kind of Catholic…)

 

“Good,” he says, bringing us over to the maple tree from earlier. 

 

“I believe it was spring, about twelve or so years ago. One of our neighbors was yelling at the top of her lungs. This neighbor, she was Catholic, but only more extreme. Hanako never heard her yelling so loudly, so she marched outside while I was looking through a window with Soruka and Ibara. That’s when I saw two men, two gay men on the sidewalk.

 

Our neighbor was yelling such hurtful things to them. Things so awful that I had to cover Soruka and Ibara’s ears. Hanako was shocked at what she was hearing. I distinctly remember our neighbor saying, ‘Hanako, these two men are committing an act against God!’ That’s when my wife snapped.

 

She berated her, telling her that she’s shrouded by hate and prejudice. It has gotten so loud that our other neighbors took notice and came to her side. There was one thing Hanako said, which defeated that woman, ‘If God hates love, then He hates everything good about this world.’ After that, our neighbor went inside her home and never spoke about it again.”

 

Tohru touches the tree, sighing. “A few months afterwards, she found a lump in her breast. Then, she left to join one of the countless stars in the sky. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her.” Hanako seemed like a wonderful woman to be around. Still, even with Quirks and the technology we have today, cancer can’t be cured. I guess it’s the one thing reminding us that we’re still human.

 

“I’m sorry,” I quietly say, staring at the maple tree with Tohru. He laughs again, turning back to me. He holds his necklace with his right hand, twirling the cross around his fingers.

 

“Thank you. I’m sorry if I rambled too much,” he apologizes, but I shake my head, telling him that it’s fine. Tohru looks at the tree again, staring off into it. “If Tokage worries me or Ibara, you can tell her what I believe.”



“I will, Tohru. Thank yo-”

 

A roar of cheering comes from the house. I hear Kamakiri’s name. He’s here… I look at Tohru, asking with my eyes if I can go. He nods, so I rush inside. I move past my friends until I see a flash of light green hair. “Jeez, can you guys be any louder?!” Heh, that’s Kamakiri alright. I emerge from the crowd with a smile on my face.

 

“Welcome to your party, Kamakiri!”

 

~~~

 

Togaru Kamakiri

“Young Kamakiri, are you really leaving?” 

 

“Yea, what’s it to ya?” 

 

“Please reconsider. U.A. is a place to leave your past behind and embrace a new life.” 

 

“Tell that to the kids here. Ya might think that, but they ain’t sharin’ the same thought, All Might. Ya obviously never mean-”

 

“No, I’m talking to you. You can’t let your past dictate your life. Leave it behind and go beyond that. Go beyond-”

“Don’t give me that ‘plus ultra’ crap. I made my decision. You, of all people, ain’t changin’ that.”

 

“I won’t give up on you. You have so much potential. Underneath that wall of yours, you are a great man. A man who embodies the meaning of a Hero. That’s why you’re here, correct? It’s your dream.”

 

“Not anymore. You’re confusin’ that man for someone else that ain’t me. So, do me a favor and keep that smile to yourself, All Might, ‘cause I won’t be smilin’ any time soon.”

 

“Young Kamakiri…. Don’t let your dream go, especially when you’re so close.”

 

***

 

“Togaru, stop reading that thing,” Ma yells at me, slammin’ my newspaper on the ground like it ain’t anyone’s business. Damn, I was readin’ that too. My class got into a fuckin’ fight with a guy that can transform into a giant fox? When I thought life couldn’t get even stranger, it threw a damn curveball. Apparently, Suzuki, the insane fox guy, is connected to one of my, soon-to-be-former, classmates. (If I had to guess, it’ll either be Kendo, Inochi, or Tokage.) What’s funny is 1-A had to clean up their mess. Now, this Midoriya guy is plastered on the front page. Suzuki is not even expelled too. What the hell is wrong with U.A.? I thought I was bad, but fuck , Suzuki went savage. The whole damn media is fussin’ about ‘em.

 

“Is U.A. letting a possible Villain in?” as the journalist, Chitose Kizuki, so eloquently put in her article. It’s all anti-U.A. rhetoric that doesn’t make any damn sense. I think it was Monday when she fuckin’ called Ma, askin’ I could come on the phone. She hung her up faster than my sprint.

 

“What is it, Ma?” I ask her, leanin’ back in my chair an’ tossin’ a baseball to myself. She shakes her head an’ frowns. Must be disappointed in me again, not surprised. Since she found out that I’m droppin’ U.A., she’s been givin’ me that sad an’ disappointed look in her face. It’s super damn annoyin’ too. She never scolded me or anythin’. She’s just there with her arms crossed. This time, Ma has a sour look on her face.

 

Ma explains, “Your friends are throwing you a party. It’s at Shiozaki’s house. I have her address, so you can take the train there.”


 

Eh?! They’re throwin’ me a fuckin’ party? What the fuck?! They dealt with a fox yesterday an’ decided, “Hey, let’s throw a party!” Let’s not forget it’s for me! This stinks of a fuckin’ prank or somethin’. It’s at Shiozaki’s house too. That bitch threw me against a wall. Did everyone get a change of heart in the past two days? It has to be those three again. There’s no other explanation for it.

 

“They’re not my friends, an’ that’s assumin’ that I wanna go in the first place. Why the hell would I want to go to their party?” I huff, keepin’ my ball wrapped in my hands. Ma sits across from me with a sad look again. Not half-sad, half-annoyin’. Just one hundred percent sadness. She’s tryin’ to get sympathy from me.

 

“Togaru, don’t you think it’s a bit unfair for you to stay here while they enjoy your party without you?” she tries to convince me, but it ain’t workin’. It’s more unfair of them tryin’ to punch the shit outta me, than me not goin’ to this party. They must have some kind of damn hero complex or somethin’. To them, I need to be saved from myself. That’s all they see in me: An object that proves their worth as a Pro Hero.

 

“I didn’t ask for it,” I grumble. I get out of my chair, tossin’ my baseball in a basket. “They don’t care about me, Ma. They only cared when they figured out that I’m leavin’. I became an opportunity to them. An opportunity to prove that they’re real Pro Heroes and ain’t bad people. If I get wrapped into this, then they can brag about how they saved me.”

 

“Togaru, they’re helping you out of the kindness in their hearts. To them, you’re their friend and classmate, not some helpless man. They know that you have the potential to be a great Pro Hero, which is exactly why they threw this party,” she tries to tell me otherwise, standin’ up too.. Hmph, she’s givin’ me that sympathetic look now. Ma’s pullin’ out all the stops. She really wants me to go to this thing.

 

“I-”

 

Ma picks up somethin’ from the table. Oh damn it, it’s the wrapped box. “If you truly believed what you said, then why did you buy Pony this?” Of all things to bring up, of course it had to be fuckin’ that.

 

“Well, I pushed her. I’m an asshole for doin’ that, so I might as well get something she likes. What’s the point of bringin’ that up?” I snarl, tryin’ to not look at the damn thing. It costed a lotta Yen, but it’s the least I could do. It was Pony’s birthday too, a couple of weeks back. Nothing says, “I’m sorry” than a late birthday present.

 

Ma sighs, puttin’ it down. “Look, you probably hate everyone but her. Since you’re going to give Pony her present anyway, then you might as well go. You can leave right after and go straight back home! Is that too much to ask?”

Ugh. damn it, she makes a good point. I would mail the box to Pony, but I have no idea where she lives. All I know is she lives with Honenuki. Goin’ to the party is an easy way to get it to her, and Ma’s lettin’ me leave right after. God damn it, I might gonna regret this later, but it’s the only option I got.

 

“Fine, fine, I’ll do what ya say, but I ain’t spendin’ anythin’ more than ten minutes in there,” I grumble, takin’ my jacket out of the closet. Ma hands me my things, the box, and a slip of paper with Shiozaki’s address. The box goes inside one of my inner jacket pockets. It’s gonna be a bit hot from wearin’ this black and bulky thing, but I’ll be fine. Ma kisses me on my cheek, tellin’ me to have a safe trip.

 

Hmph, she’s so damn annoyin’.

 

***

 

A good walk, a train ride, and another good walk later, I’m in the neighborhood. It’s the suburbs, just outside Musutafu. Without lookin’ at the piece of paper, I can already tell which house is Shiozaki’s. It’s the one where the door is open. That and Tokage is literally starin’ out the window. What the fuck is she doin’? You don’t stare out of a window like a damn stalker! Ugh, what the hell is wrong with her? Aw shit, we’re lookin’ at each other now. She sticks her tongue out, gesturin’ to come closer. I start walkin’ closer with my hands in my pockets.

 

Ugh, I swear if she starts teasin’ me, I’m gonna lose it. I should keep my swearin’ down though, ‘cause Shiozaki’s in there. If she’s a mega-Catholic, then what the hell will her parents be like? Shit, everyone from school is here aren’t they? I see a lot more people through the window. This won’t be fun…

 

Knock knock

 

I knock on the open door, but it doesn’t do anythin’. Everyone is already there, waitin’ for me. They start cheerin’, hittin’ me with friendly question while being really fuckin’ loud. Damn, it’s like they forgot that Friday happened. Especially Kendo an’ Shiozaki. They have smiles on their faces, completely different than before. “Jeez, can you guys get any louder?!”

 

My voice shuts everyone up before they start apologizin’ in unison. Squeezin’ through Kaibara and Komori though, is Inochi. He has a bright smile on his face. It reminds me of Dad before the police caught him. Back when he was a normal dad. “Welcome to your party, Kamakiri!”

 

“...”

 

An awkward silence decides to make itself at home. Kendo clears her throat, gettin’ everyone’s attention. “Well, since Kamakiri’s here, we can finally eat! Let’s enjoy what Tokage and Shishida brought for us!” Like a bunch of fuckin’ animals, they charge into the dining room with a ton of aluminium trays. I see Pony runnin’ in with them, but I grab her arm, stoppin’ her from goin’ in.

 

She shouts, “Hey! Why are you stopping me?!” I let go of her arm, seein’ her turn around an’ pout. (Damn it, her pouts are cuter than annoyed.) My face gets a little warm, but I shake it out of me. I point towards the savages.

 

“Hey! Don’t take all the crepes!”

“Woah! Keep your hands to yourself!”
“I-I’m sorry!”

“This is a chaotic situation. Perhaps we should have been more orderly.”

“That. Please.”

“Guys! Let’s try to be somewhat civil her-Ack!”

“Sorry Inochi, didn’t mean for that to slip out of my hand.”

“I liked this shirt…”

“Where’s the steak?!” 

“It’s right-! AHHHHH! Don’t step on my toes, Tetsutetsu!”

“Sorry ‘bout that! You’re pretty tiny, Manga!”

“...”

“All of you need to practice patience.”
“Sorry, Shiozaki.”

 

“That. Your friends are monsters, Pony. It’ll be rough bein’ in the middle of them, especially with rowdy guys like Tetsutetsu,” I explain to her. (“Tetsutetsu! You’re gonna run over me!”) Pony stops poutin’ an’ nods, walkin’ over to my side. Damn it, why is she gettin’ close all of the sudden?

 

“So… You came. I thought you didn’t like us,” Pony quietly says. Somehow, I can hear her despite the fuckin’ circus. 

 

I shrug my shoulders, answerin’, “Eh, only came to make it up to ya. I g-”

 

She interrupts me, “You can make it up to me by staying for an hour. If you don’t, I’m not gonna forgive you until the day I die.” What?! God damn it, of course she would make this harder… Motherfucker, guess I don’t have a choice. For an innocent woman, she’s really damn manipulative. 

 

“Fine,” I grumbl-

 

“Oh crap, sorry Inochi!”

“Not you too, Kendo…”

“I think I lost my pearl necklace!”

“It’s in the soup.”

“Aw man! I have to fish it out now… Here goes no-! Shi-Crap! I’m sorry!”

“Tokage… Even you?”

“I-I’m way too big! I’m s-so sorry everyone!”

“Don’t cry, Bondo!”

 

(Okay, what the hell are they doin’ in there?! It’s absolute anarchy!)

 

I hear two sets of footsteps behind me. One of them is heavy while the other is pretty light. The heavy one’s Mister Kan. “Well, looks like staying back is a good decision… Tsuburaba and Rin are fighting over the last crepe, Inochi is covered in food, and Shishida lost his glasses. You kids will be the death of me.”

 

Air blows out of my nose. “Yeah, the class is a mess, Mister Kan,” I tell him, turnin’ around and- Holy shit! Who’s the woman?! She’s fuckin’ gorgeous! My entire face is heatin’ up just from lookin’ at her! Must be Shiozaki’s sister or somethin’... But holy hell… I need to stop starin’ or else I’ll be like Awase and Tsuburaba. (I hear Pony gigglin’. What is she gigglin’ at?)

 

“Anyway, I’m glad you’re here, Kamakiri.” Mister Kan whispers to the lady. She goes into the dinin’ room. I hear her soft voice, gettin’ the entire room quiet in an instant. Jeez, I’m sure everyone in this house is in love with her. Well, ‘cept Shiozaki and their parents for obvious reasons. “That’s Soruka, Shiozaki’s sister. Her father is here somewhere, but at least the dining room is all settled. You two can go in now.”

 

Pony cheers. She yanks me inside the room without askin’. She starts to go on about what she’ll get, but shit… This is a lot of food. It all looks like rich people food too. This is what Tokage and Shishida brought, eh? Givin’ us a taste of the rich people life. Well, I ain’t complainin’. I might as well eat something here.

 

“Hey Inochi, can you pass me that bread?”

“Some of it dipped in the curry though. Still want it, Tokage?”
“That’s why I asked.”

“Oh, sorry! Here you go!”

“Thank you~!”

 

(Finally, everyone’s quiet.)

 

I grab myself a plate, gettin’ some chicken, rice, egg rolls (these look homemade), some sushi, dango for dessert, and a can of lime soda. Pony stocks up on just desserts though… Jeez, she’s gonna give herself a sugar high, but I ain’t gonna stop her. She’s practically droolin’ all over her food too. I put a napkin to her mouth, draggin’ Pony outside. We sit down at a random table, near a greenhouse. As soon as we sit, she starts chompin’ down.

 

Well, as she’s focusin’ on that, I take a good look around. Almost everyone is outside in their own little groups, like Awase, Tsuburaba, Rin, and Manga. I hear them talkin’ about Manga’s twin sister, Shojo. (Apparently, she doesn’t have Manga’s head. Don’t know what the hell her Quirk is though.)

 

That’s just one of the conversations. Everyone else is chattin’ about random shit ‘cept for Pony and I. For a good reason too, ‘cause Pony is really goin’ down. She already cleared half her damn plate! “Pony! Slow down! You’re gonna give yourself a stomach ache!” I try to warn her, but she ain’t listenin’. (Just gotta be here for an hour.)

 

Tokage decides to comment, “Having trouble with your girlfriend?” Oh my fuckin’ god, I’m gonna kill her. (This will be a long fuckin’ hour.)

 

I stand up, yellin’ at her, “Ey! Would ya cut shi- crap out?!” Tokage just laughs at me. Inochi whispers something and shakes his head, makin’ Tokage apologize. Ugh… I sit down. I ain’t in the mood for her teasin’.

 

Gulp!

Behind me, Pony finishes her plate. She flashes an innocent smile before her face suddenly lights up. “Oh! Kamakiri Kamakiri! Did ya hear about the big fight yesterday?! It was so awesome!” Bein’ almost killed by a giant fox is considered “awesome” in her mind?

 

“Uhh… The part with Kendo and Inochi right? Not Suzuki?” Tsuburaba butts into our conversation.

 

Pony gets in the middle of the backyard, startin’ to punch an’ kick the air. “Mhm! That one! It was so freaking cool, Kamakiri! You shoulda seen it! Kendo knocked the lights out of Suzuki, threw a girl into another girl, punched Suzuki again, and threw a guy through a rock wall!” Kendo makes Kodai high-five her for some damn reason.

 

“Then, there was this girl who can shoot bolts from her fingers! Inochi used a guy as a human shield to stop her! He also broke a big, bald guy’s nose!” she recounts, doin’ a side kick. Inochi winces, but does his best to smile.

 

(Everyone else, they’re givin’ Kendo and Inochi a scared look.)

 

“I didn’t hear ‘bout any of that. The news were yappin’ about Midoriya and Suzuki,” I comment, finishin’ up my can of soda an’ throwin’ it in a bin. Monoma suddenly stands up with his arms out. Aw shit…

 

He starts to monologue, “I knew this would happen! 1-A stole the glory right from our fingertips! When the Sports Festival finally comes, we all need to vow to shall tear the spotlight from them! We must prove to the world that we are the greater cla-”

“Not now, Monoma. Do all of us a favor and sit down.” Kaibara gets out of his seat, tryin’ to force Monoma back into his chair.

 

He argues, “No! We must be motivated and prepared! You won’t silence me, Kaibara! I will do whatever it takes!” Why does everyone in this class have issues? I thought I was bad… 

 

“And I’m doing whatever it takes to sit you down,” Kaibara snaps, finally puttin’ Monoma in a seat. He tries to get up again, but Kaibara puts a hand on his leg, not lettin’ him get up. I hear Kendo an’ Inochi laughin’. Pony too. She sits next to me again, layin’ back in her chair.

 

“Your class is very lively, Ibara,” Shiozaki’s dad comments (huh, thought he’ll have green hair), loud enough that everyone can hear. Shiozaki smiles an’ nods, puttin’ a hand to her chest. My eyes drift a little to Soruka, but I put it back on the dad. Can’t be pervin’...

 

“That’s one way of putting it! Have you seen Manga?” Tokage gestures towards Manga, who’s stuffin’ an egg roll down… I ain’t got a clue where he’s stuffin’ that thing. I have no fuckin’ idea how his head works.

 

“Screwb bu!” Manga talks with his mouth (probably his mouth) full. Rin looks at him, sayin’ that he shouldn’t talk with his mouth full. He gulps the egg roll, lettin’ the equivalent of his neck stretch an’ expand a little. “Screw you!” Oh, that’s what he was sayin’.

 

“Remember your Battle Trial, Manga?” Tokage starts retellin’ the story to everyone, even though it was only two days ago. I check my phone. I got forty minutes left, so Pony and I kick back and listen to Tokage.

 

***

 

Everyone told a lotta different stories. Embarrassing, funny, excitin’, hittin’ all the genres. It’s only been a week, but they already got stories for a lifetime. Inochi had a story about how Kendo made his entire middle school think he was a delinquent. Kendo was embarrassed as hell, apologizin’ a lot to him. Inochi just laughs it off.

 

Then there was Tokage again, who mentioned the fact that the same middle school had a fanclub for herself, Kendo, an’ Kodai. Kendo an’ Inochi were oblivious to the fact. Inochi muttered, “So that’s why everyone was jealous of me…”  Kendo decided to tell everyone that she’ll punch one of her old classmates. I gave her a good look, remindin’ her of me, which made her sit down without a word. Heh, that was pretty funny. What made this even better was Tokage sayin’ she’d join Kodai’s fanclub. Kodai simply said, “Pervert.” Everyone fuckin’ erupted in laughter, includin’ me. Tokage was so damn red that she hid her face in Inochi’s stained shirt.

 

Honenuki went on about something from his middle school. Apparently, there was a teenage idol in his class. (Komori started to listen in closely once he mentioned that.) The idol had a really large pack of fans to the point where she needed a huddle of bodyguards. Honenuki though, managed to bring her to the dance. He got high-fives from the boys. If I’m bein’ honest, he’s probably lyin’, but who the hell knows?

 

Awase went next, talkin’ about his first encounter with Shojo. He went on about how much of a dorky nerd she is. No one was shocked though, since she’s Manga’s sister. I’d be really damn shocked if she wasn’t a nerd like him. After the story, Manga almost attacked him if it wasn’t for Inochi stoppin’ him. (Mister Kan looked more an’ more hopeless with each story.)

 

Pony told one of her own. During her time with Honenuki, she told us about times she misspoke. I laughed at all of them, but my favorite was the dinner one. After she ate dinner, she patted her stomach and accidentally said that she’s pregnant. Pony actually wanted to say that she’s full. It was really damn adorable of her. After that story, I spoke to her in English. She looked happily surprised that I can speak English. I just said, “I picked up English by watchin’ TV.” (It’s the truth. I watched a lot of American baseball.)

 

“Mnn…” Pony makes some cute nappin’ noises besides me. She must be a bit cold from havin’ her belly showin’, so I put my jacket over her. Ya know, we all got stories. All of… us… Us … I check my phone again, seein’ the smile on my face. The clock shows up and-?! It’s been four fuckin’ hours?! The hell?! I’ve been here for that long?!

 

I hear everyone laughin’ again. Eh?! Why the hell are they laughin’?! It’s at me, isn’t it?! I fuckin’ fell for their trap, didn’t I?! Shiozaki and Kendo, they’re laughin’ too the hardest. I always knew! All of them are assholes! God damn it, I gotta get out of here. There’s no way in hell there’s an “us” here. 

 

I put my phone back in my pocket, gettin’ out of my chair. Without a word, I go inside the house. I hear some of my “friends” askin’ me something, but I ignore them. To hell with them. Actin’ all nice, like they care about me… It can’t be true. No one in their right mind would act like that around me!

 

I finally reach the door an-

 

“Kamakiri, don’t leave,” Kendo tells me. I turn around to face her an’ Shiozaki. Of course it had to be these two. Two who were willin’ to beat the hell outta me! Damn it, what the fuck do they want with me now?!

 

“Why?” I growl, facin’ away from them.

 

“Kamakiri, we know we hurt you, and we are extremely sorry. What could we do to make you stay?” she pleads with me, but I ain’t havin’ it. I’m not gonna waste my time talkin’ to them. It’s useless, so I walk out the door. Kendo tries to stop me, but Shiozaki stops her instead. Good… Good. I’m goin’ back home. Ma’ll be disappointed, but it’ll be nothin’ new.

 

I take the same route. It’s a long walk, then the train, then a walk back home. It’s a bit darker than before, but it’s still bright out. A wind hits my body, makin’ me feel a bit cold. So, I put my hands in my pock-

 

 

Where the hell is my jacket?! Wait… Fuck, I left it with Pony didn’t I?! I must been walkin’ for twenty or thirty minutes! God damn it, I wasted a lot of fuckin’ time! Ugh, I’m at a random park now. I walk over to a bench and sit my sorry ass down. Yeah, might as well sit here and think about how much of a fuckin’ idiot I am. Can’t believe I forgot my jacket... What the hell is wrong with me?

 

If it’s a consolation prize, I left the box in it, so Pony will be happy with it. The big problem is: How do I get my jacket back? There’s no way that I’m goin’ back there, so that’s out of the question. Maybe I’ll just go home. Mister Kan will drop it off at my house without a word. Him or someone else. They’re decent enough to send a jacket back. Yeah, I’ll just do th- Never fuckin’ mind, my wallet’s stuck in my jacket. Fuck me! I can’t take the train because my card is in there! Shit, how can I be so damn stupid? The only thing I got is my phone. Damn it a-

 

“You forgot something.” Eh?!

 

Pony’s standin’ in front of me, holdin’ my jacket and the box. How the hell did she find me? Ugh, it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s her turn to try to convince me. Everyone else fuckin’ failed miserably. “Whaddya want?!” I bark at her, turnin’ my head away.

 

Without fear, she sits herself down next to me, puttin’ my jacket in my hands. I feel my wallet inside, so that’s one problem done. But, Pony’s here an’ she’s a problem on its own. She’s a stubborn woman too, so I can’t just get up and leave ‘cause she’ll follow me or somethin’ like that. An’ she’s playin’ around with the box like there’s a toy inside. (Don’t do that!) She says one word, “So...”

 

I grumble, “So what?”

 

“So… You really hate all of us...” Pony assumes. I feel her misery from where I’m sittin’. Hmph, it ain’t all wrong, but I want nothin’ to do with people who hate me. I’ll be a piece of shit if I tell that to Pony, so I stay quiet. She lets out a deep breath like she’s disappointed.

 

Pony turns where she’s facin’ me, while I’m just lookin’ straight at the park. There’s a bunch of trees here with a playground. It’s a nice day out, but there’s no one here besides us. “Kamakiri… Are you scared? Scared of… Uhm, being our friend? It’s okay to be scared, you know!” she tries to assure me, raisin’ her voice like it’ll help or something.

 

“...”

 

Pony droops her head down a little. “I don’t wanna bring this up, but you were bullied right? Like Inochi? It musta been bad… Being alone like that with no friends… It’ll be hard to trust anyone being in your position.” 

 

“...”

 

She goes on, “You had to sit alone at lunch, hearing people laughing at you, calling you names… They believed that you won’t be a Pro Hero. They thought you weren’t going to amount to anything good…”

 

“...”



She keeps talkin’, “I never told anyone this, not even Juzo, but I was like you! In America, all kinds of people bullied me because I looked like a silly horse. They made fun of my name, trying to ride me even though I never wanted it.” What?! Who the fuck would bully someone like Pony?!

 

I look at her. There’s a depressin’ smile on her face, lookin’ out at the park. “Pony.”

 

She doesn’t stop talkin’, “When I came to Japan, I couldn’t trust anyone, including Juzo. But then, I got into U.A. and everything changed. Everything changed!” Pony jumps off of the bench with her arms out, spinnin’ around. There ain’t a sad smile on her. It’s a gleeful one.

 

“Once I stepped foot into our classroom, everyone wanted to be my friend! Kendo, Yanagi, Manga, Awase, everyone! I’m not alone anymore! That’s when I knew why I want to be a Pro Hero! Everyone should have a friend to count on, because no one deserves to be alone! Especially… Especially you, Kamakiri.” Pony spins around to face me. My mouth is wide open from this crazy girl. I feel warm… Was her smile always this warm?

 

I quietly repeat, “No one deserves to be alone...” My voice is so quiet. It’s frustratin’, but what the hell is wrong with Pony? I thought she was a shy girl, but she’s spinnin’ around like the world revolves around her. (To be frank, it very well damn should.)

 

She beams so damn brightly like the sun, “That’s right! You shouldn’t be alone! So please, come back to U.A. and don’t give up on your dream! You’re so close, Kamakiri!” My dream...

 

“Young Kamakiri…. Don’t let your dream go, especially when you’re so close.”

 

My dream… That’s right. I wanted- No, I want to be a Pro Hero. I want to be one to prove all those fuckers who think otherwise. To prove that I ain’t a Villain’s son, that I’ll be better than he’ll ever be. Instead of killin’ people, I’ll be savin’ them. That’s why I want to be a Pro Hero. Okay, All Might? Your voice can stop hauntin’ my mind now.

 

“Pony,” I say her name again, lookin’ down at the ground, “ya really want me back in U.A.? Even after all the shitty things I did?” Pony nods and hums, sittin’ next to me again. She kicks her legs playfully, usin’ that smile of hers as a weapon.

 

I groan, leanin’ my head back. “Fine, fine. I’ll come back if you quit smili-” She hugs me. Sh-Shit! Why the hell did she think huggin’ me is a good idea?! Pony starts thankin’ me, bouncin’ up and down like a dog. I manage to pull this insane woman off of me and back on the bench. Fuck… My face is really damn hot… Ugh, why the hell does she look innocent?! She’s way too damn oblivious for me!

 

Pony holds up the box, tappin’ the cardboard. She asks, “What’s inside?” Eh? She hasn’t opened it yet? I’d thought she would tear the wrappin’ off, or smell what’s inside. Did she really want to ask me first? Ugh...

 

I sigh, feelin’ my face goin’ back to normal, “Eh, ‘posed to be some apology gift and a late birthday present. So, happy late birthday,” I tell her, slingin’ my jacket over my shoulder. “Ma brought it for you.” My mandibles twist a little bit from what I said. Damn things, can’t control them.

 

For some reason, Pony pouts and says, “Really? She told me that you brought it yourself.”

 

“What?! Is she blabbin’ all my secrets now?!” I blurt out, glarin’ at her. Pony giggles, huggin’ the box a little bit. She completely changed her posture! Is she a little witch or somethin’?! Wait no, that title goes to Komori, the wannabe idol.

 

“Nope! I lied! Now, I know that you brought…” Pony tears the wrappin’ off of the present, revealin’ four really damn expensive candy apples inside. It’s the best of the best. Her eyes light up with a little bit of drool comin’ out of her mouth like before. She’s actin’ like a little girl seein’ a new toy. Like an animal, she opens the box an’ gets a candy apple out. Her mouth opens, but her eyes turn to me. “Oh sorry! Here, take one!” She gives me it, takin’ another one out of the box.

 

I shake my head, arguin’, “Pony, it’s your present.” I stick my candy apple at her, gesturin’ to put it back in the box. Pony huffs, pushin’ it back to me.

 

“We’re friends, Kamakiri! We’re sharing these together!” She takes a big bite out of her apple, blushin’ slightly.

 

 

Friends? Jeez… Pony is really damn annoyin’.

 

Chomp!

 

~~~

 

Sasaki Kendo

“We’re home!” Itsuka comes through the door with Sanji trailing behind her. They both have gleaming smiles on their faces. It doesn’t take a genius to know that their operation was a success. Hayami smiles too, placing my cup of green tea in front of me. I quietly thank her.

 

She starts talking to the kids about Operation Jack Mantis while I’m watching the news. Fuyushiro Tokage has a sponsored gala coming up. It’s about some mumbo jumbo, fancy new technology that I can’t understand for the life of me. The world changed so damn much that I can’t keep up with it. Years ago, we didn’t have I-Island or researching the DNA of Quirks or something like that. It was only Pro Heroes with raw strength.

 

“Grandpa, did you hear?” Itsuka jumps on the couch next to me with Sanji calmly sitting down next to her. (The difference between these two are astounding.) In the back, Hayami rolls her eyes at these two miscreants. I laugh slightly, shaking my head. She tells me, “Well, Pony managed to convince Kamakiri to stay in U.A.!” 

 

I give her and Sanji an approving smile, even though I have no idea who those two kids are. (Who names their child, “Pony”?) Isn’t Kamakiri the son of someone famous too? Eh, I’ll find out one day. These kids is already on the news from what happened yesterday. (I had to calm Hayami down or else she would faint from fear. If Sanji wasn’t injured, him and Itsuka would have gotten disciplined) 

 

“Oh,” I remind myself of something, turning to Sanji, “Sanji, can you still train tonight? I know you’re still wearing those bandages?” He sighs and shakes his head, moving his right shoulder slightly.

 

“Sorry, Recovery Girl told, well, she yelled at me to don’t train for a couple of days or so. I’m going to her office tomorrow,” he explains with his eyes being apologetic. I shake my head, assuring him that he’s fine. Speaking of injured kids, there’s Midoriya. He was on the news yesterday for defeating Suzuki. Why doesn’t Chiyo scold him and Toshi?

 

After all, One For All is a dangerous Quirk.

 

I saw Midoriya using it in a video clip of him yesterday. That power, that raw power couldn’t be anything other than One For All. It’s the exact same as when Toshi used it too, so that means Midoriya is Quirkless. You know, I’m pretty upset that Toshi never told me that he picked the next successor, but he assumes that I don’t want anything with him… It’s not completely false.

 

I look at my three, equally insane, kids. It’s not completely false...

 

Oh Itsuka, if only she had a chance to meet her grandmother. There’s a lot of Tatemi in her. Always protecting others like she’s everyone’s mother. But then, there’s Itsuka punching anyone who she deems fit. She got that from me. I hit her father a lot for being a romantic idiot. I’m overprotective of my beautiful daughter, and my granddaughter too. If Itsuka gets married to someone, I hope that man is prepared to handle her. (As of right now, only one man has that ability.)

 

Then there’s Sanji. Oh jeez, this kid. He’s one of the nicest kids a person can meet, but also the scariest. He has such a high level of skill. Really, once he awakens to his Quirk, he’ll be unstoppable. From how he acts though, it reminds me of so many people. Yet, there’s something off about him… He never talks about his childhood, only focusing on the present. It’s like-

 

I hear Itsuka asking me if I’m listening, but I’m quietly sipping my tea. Sanji tells her that I’m reminiscing again, which makes her groan. Heh, I shouldn’t be worried about these two. They’ll be great Pro Heroes. I mean, they’re already helping their classmates with crazy operations. It reminds me of…

 

Heh, it reminds me of her .

 

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have imagined being apart of the creation of Japan’s greatest- No, the world’s greatest Hero. Back then, he was simply a young boy who was named Toshinori Yagi.

Chapter Text

Sasaki Kendo

“Smmmaaaas-Egk!”

 

THUD!

 

“Even with a Quirk like yours, Toshi, it’s useless if you can’t hit anyone with it,” I criticize him. Toshi goes down on one knee, gasping for air. I watch him grit his teeth, shaking his head, doing anything to prepare himself for another attack. He slams his left fist against the ground, cracking my nice, and polished hardwood floor. (He needs to stop tearing up my Dojo.) For a Quirkless boy though, Toshi’s awfully resilient. Even with my Quirk, Reversal, he can take many of his own hits before going down. I remember the first time I used it against him. My right arm broke from the sheer recoil of One For All. Luckily, from all this training, Toshi isn’t the only one who has gotten stronger.

 

Toshi gets up, moving his right foot back. Heh, he’s too straight-forward. I taunt him, “You’re charging right at me?” With only a grunt as a reply, he does exactly that. Toshi charges forward and yells his catchphrase, pulling his left fist back. He’s awfully slow for a large man. I close my eyes and tilt my head left, letting Toshi’s fist move past and sending a large wind that would rival a small typhoon. I touch his left arm with one of my right fingers, activating Reversal, and elbow him in the gut with my left.

 

SLAM!

CRASH!

 

And Toshi goes through the wall. Guess he needed some fresh air... Damn it all, the wind should have been a dead giveaway that he’s using too much. He’s way too reckless. Imagine if a small-time Villain taunted him. A couple of buildings would be completely destroyed. At the very least, it wasn’t through the roof like last time. Sorahiko barely had enough time to catch him. I keep telling him that we need a new place to train, and it’s always “later”. Ugh, I go up to the hole. Toshi is laying face-down on the street with wood and glass all over him. Chiyo runs up to Toshi, groaning loudly. She shakes her head disapprovingly at us. “What did I tell you about self-restraint?!”

 

I defend myself, “I’m not the one who decided to use that much power!” Chiyo clicks her tongue and kisses Toshi’s head. His body glows slightly, pushing any glass shards and wooden splinters out of his skin. She has Toshi taken care of… Now, how much money will these repairs cost me? There’s the flooring and this hole… A couple hundred thousand yen? I could make Toshi fix it himself too as punishment, but I don’t know if-

 

I hear the door opening.

 

“Saki...” Oh jeez, I’m in for it now. I turn around and see my wife and daughter standing in the doorway. Hayami has her ears covered while Tatemi looks disappointed in me again, both of them staring at the Toshi-sized hole in the wall. For the love of… I forgot Hayami was here. If she got hurt, All For One wouldn’t be the only thing that Toshi is afraid of.

 

I walk up and smile, assuring them that everything’s fine. “Don’t worry, you two. Compared to other times, this is pretty tame!” ...They don’t look amused in the slightest. Tatemi sighs and pulls me into a side-hug with Hayami hugging my leg. Tatemi doesn’t have the heart to scold me again. It happened so many times that I need ten or so hands to count them all.

 

“How much is this going to cost us?” she asks. I shrug my shoulders, which only made her more annoyed. We hear Chiyo faintly chastising Toshi about the same thing as always. No self-restraint, too emotional, and way too rash. Even with spending almost a year with One For All, we’re still dealing with the same problems. He thinks that because he’s physically gifted, he could accelerate his training tenfold and become the “Symbol of Peace” he always desired to be. The bigger problem with that is: Toshi doesn’t know the full scope of the damage he could cause. How could he be the “Symbol of Peace” if all of Japan is completely destroyed?

 

I hear another set of footsteps behind us. It matches Sorahiko’s. He walks past us with a frustrated look on his face, picking up a broom and a dustpan. “I’ll pay for this, Kendo. By the way, you-know-who wants you downstairs.” Guess the woman of the hour needs me.

 

Tatemi says, “I’ll help.” She grabs a broom as well, cleaning up the room with Sora. Hayami tugs on my pants, making grabbing motions with her hands. Heh, I lift her up into my arms and kiss her cheek. She makes a grossed-out sound, wiping my loving kiss away. At least I have this little rascal as backup. 

 

Hayami waves goodbye to her mother and uncle before we walk downstairs together. She starts explaining about how loud Toshi and I were fighting, even making onomatopoeias as an added measure. To her, it was all “WHOOSH“, “BAMMY”, and “CRASH”. I would want to ask her a lot more, but we had already reached the lobby. Hayami immediately peers around the corner to see if her “favorite person” is there. (I’m still grumpy about it. Everyone doesn’t let me hear the end of it.) And what do you know, she is.

 

She’s watching Chiyo and Toshi clean up the street with a disappointed look on her face. She sees us walking in and smiles brightly, like a true Pro Hero. “Hey you two, sorry about the wall,” Nana apologizes, approaching us and giving Hayami a little fist bump. “How’s this little goof doing?”

 

“Good! Oh oh! I made something, Auntie Nana!” Hayami points towards a hair clip on a table. It’s adorned with spring flowers. Some of the petals are ruffled up and the stems aren’t cleanly cut, but it’s pretty well-made, for a toddler anyway. She’s always been a great little inventor. Nana clips it to her hair, taking Hayami from me and putting her on the ground.

 

“Thanks a lot, Hayami! Why don’t you help Toshinori for us? He needs a big and strong hero to help him out!” Nana asks her, glancing at me in complete contrast with her tone. She wants us to talk in private.

 

Hayami nods, putting a hand to her chest. “You can count on me!” She runs off outside with Chiyo and Toshi. Heh, the first thing she does is hug Toshi’s leg. That’s her way of helping everyone, being the cutest daughter in the world. Nana watches her with me. Her smile shifts into a frown, tearing her eyes away. A tear runs down her cheek, being wiped away with a bat of her finger. Nana must be remembering him again… She’s being tortured from seeing Hayami everyday, being reminded of the very thing she gave up.

 

“Gosh… I’m a mess.” Nana laughs, trying to cheer herself up. “Jeez, Sasaki, thanks for putting up with Toshinori and helping me with pretty much everything… You and Tatemi. It feels like yesterday that we were only naive kids, and now look at us...”

 

I smile, joking, “Well, if I heard there was a chance to defeat the world’s most powerful Villain, who technically started all of hero society, with a Quirk that was passed down from generation to generation, I would take that chance in a heartbeat. That, and Tatemi would divorce me if I didn’t help.” We laugh together. I catch a glimpse of Toshi carrying my daughter on his shoulders, being distracted from his task. Oh, Chiyo’s berating him again. She’s going through hell with Toshi being the one who put her there.

 

“That’s the gist of it. You know…” Nana’s voice gets deeper, darker . “I never wanted to involve anyone in this.” Eh?

 

“What do you mean?” I ask, looking at her, but she isn’t looking back. Nana’s staring solemnly at her gloves, like a ghost possessed her.

 

She starts to explain, “An average person might think receiving One For All is a gift. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, Saki. Once you have this power, you’re not only cursing yourself, but all your friends and family as well.” She takes out a picture of her family, staring longingly before looking at me. Nana… I never seen her eyes like this before.

 

“From my own master, he told me that All For One killed many of his friends, and even slaughtered his own master’s bloodline just for being related to him,” Nana confesses, grasping Hayami’s pin. Is… Is she telling me that my family… My family would be killed?

 

“Nana-”

 

She takes my hand, her eyes firm and steady. Nana’s shaking… She never shakes like this, at least, not in front of me. “Sasaki, this is the curse of One For All. I’m only telling you this because you have a family, a beautiful family. There might be a day where you have to cut us from your lives completely. For your own safety, please promise me that you will, and never look back.”

 

...

 

“I will. I promise.” Nana smiles, letting go of my hand. We look over to Toshi again. She picked him, of all people, to bare One For All. It’s ironic… Being a Quirkless man, controlling the most powerful Quirk in the entire world. Even with him being a numbskull, Toshi is a pillar. A pillar that can’t be shaken nor cracked. A man who’s willing to take the curse without a second thought. If Nana wouldn’t be able to take down All For One, then Toshi will. “You know, Nana, you picked a great successor. You won’t have to worry about us, because Toshinori will be the one who’ll take that bastard down.”

 

Nana slightly bows her head, putting her picture away. “Heh, I hope you’re right. It took me double the time to get where Toshi’s at. Oh, by the way, don’t mention any of this to him. I haven’t told him yet, and I hope that I’ll never have to.” I-

 

“Tell him what?” Tatemi’s voice appears behind us, scaring the hell outta me. She giggles and playfully hits my arm. “Why are both of you so glum? Nana, the only good thing that this idiot is for is cheering people up.”

 

“We’re just talking about Toshinori, Tatemi. Oh, did you see what your little girl made for me?” Nana changes the conversation to her hair clip, showing it to Tatemi. Her tone and demeanor changed just like that, like what we spoke about never happened. Tatemi hesitates for a brief second before smiling. (These two are pretty much sisters. Tatemi would notice the sudden change in conversation and demeanor. That, and she’s a pretty empathetic woman just like Nana.)

 

Tatemi hums, “Yup! You shoulda seen the clay coffee mug she made for Saki. We painted so many cute animals and made sure it was perfect. Then-” Oh no, she’s going to tell her. I don’t need this.

 

“Please don’t tell her what happened,” I plead, but it’s not going to stop her.

 

Nana exclaims, “Oh, now she has to tell me! Come on, Tatemi! Spill what happened!” Tatemi has that evil look on her face again… God damn it, this is another thing that I wouldn’t hear the end of. I spent all my life training in martial arts, but of course a little girl would be the one who defeats me.

 

“Saki broke the dang mug, and Hayami saw it all happen. So she, being my daughter and all, threatened to cry if he didn’t buy a box of mochi just for her. Guess who won?” Tatemi giggles, linking arms with me. I’m not even looking at her. I can’t deal with these women’s gloating looks. Oh God, I can hear them laughing at me. Nana’s saying something, but it’s more taunts. I swear if Sora finds out abou-

 

“Defeated by a little girl, eh? Bringing shame to the Kendo family once again… Such a disappointment.” And he’s here. You have to be kidding me. Why does this always happen?! And what he said doesn’t make sense!

 

I snap back, “She’s a Kendo too! And I don’t see you having a wife and kid, Sora. Why is that? Oh right, you only have a handsome mug and nothing else. Might as well call you the ‘Bachelor Hero’.” I look at Nana and Tatemi for back up, but they’re off to the side, talking about random things. 

 

Sora rolls his eyes and leans against a wall like an angsty teenager. “I don’t scare kids. Give me an example where I scare one?” Pfft, he wants an example? We have an example right outside. I open the door loud enough where the three musketeers are staring at me. (It hasn’t been fifteen minutes and Hayami already stained her clothes.)

 

“Toshinori! Gran Torino needs to talk to you,” I insinuate that Sora’s angry. And with that, Toshi shrinks down to his skinny-self and runs inside, getting on his knees. Sorahiko looks at him, then at me, then back to him. Hehe...

 

Toshi begs, “I’m-”



“Shut up and get up,” Sora stops him from begging, burying his face in his hands. “Go clean the rest of the street and you’ll help fix the damages you caused, got it?” He pulls Toshi up on his feet. There’s so much fear in Toshi’s eyes that it’s kinda hilarious. Stumbling a bit, he goes back outside with Chiyo and Hayami.

 

“Sorahiko, I question your methods sometimes,” Nana comments, watching her successor scurry away. Sorahiko huffs and crosses his arms, looking away. Tatemi approaches me and whispers that I need to grow up. I laugh, planting a kiss on her cheek.

 

“Shimura, he needs to learn restraint. Every time I assign a training exercise, my class is utterly afraid of what Toshi could do. You don’t know how many times my students come up to me with their worries,” Sora rants and walks up to Nana. Oh hell, here we go again. Sorahiko’ll criticize Nana for how she teaches Toshi.

 

She sighs, putting her hands on Sora’s shoulders. “I understand, but he has to learn how to be a proper Pro first. Just because he’s the best at combat, doesn’t mean he’s the best in spirit. Toshi definitely has the heart, but I need to make sure he doesn’t lose it.”

 

He breaks away from Nana’s grasp, arguing, “You’re only encouraging him to be emotional. What happens when he sees something horrible? How will he hold back?” This will go on all day… We got the classic optimist and pessimist conflict. Tatemi tugs on my arm, signaling that we should leave them be. I nod, letting her take me outside with everyone else. Chiyo and Hayami are sitting on Toshi’s back while he does push-ups for some reason.

 

Tatemi picks our daughter up, bouncing her up and down in her arms, hearing her laugh. Chiyo scoffs and pretends to ignore us by reading a magazine about the latest gossip, but there’s a smile behind the cover. Toshi quietly counts how many push-ups he’s at (one hundred fifty-one so far), his eyes wandering and smiling at the two most important women in my life. 

 

All For One… The man who ruled from the shadows, might still be ruling now. If everything Nana said is true, and it probably is, then all of us have targets painted on our backs. He could kill us at any moment, but I don’t know what’s stopping him. The anticipation and wait would kill a man, but it won’t stop me. Whatever he could bring, all of us can stop him. All of us can, after all, this whole situation sounds like an anime. The villain always loses in the end, and the heroes get to live happily ever after.

 

So, I embrace my happily ever after. No matter what, I’m going to protect these two from that monster. Whatever it takes.

 

***

 

“I don’t see anything… Of course today had to be boring,” Tatemi complains, resting her head against the ledge. A bored groan leaves her mouth. Ah, she’s having a craving to beat a criminal’s head in. She only gets like this whenever she’s in a bad mood. I’m lucky that Tatemi doesn’t unleash it on her great husband. 

 

One part of being a great husband is bringing their significant other close, and asking, “What’s wrong? Is patrolling on the rooftops not romantic enough?” Tatemi groans even louder, leaning into me. She picks her head up and watches the little people and cars. There’s nothing villainy yet, and considering how today’s been going, it might be another eventless day.

 

(I think I imagined a shadow jumping around out of the corner of my eye.)

 

“Apparently, Toshi accidentally injured Todoroki during a training exercise. He ranted about how Toshi will end up killing everyone and how he won’t be a Pro Hero. As we speak, he’s sulking in Chiyo’s office on the verge of tears,” she tells me and honestly, I’m not shocked. Something like this was bound to happen sometime. Even though it’s awful, awful events are what makes wake people up from their shortcomings. But, I’m not here to talk about this is good or not. 

 

I ask, hugging her close, “How are we cheering Toshi up then? And no, don’t conspire with Nana to make another operation. We had too many of those, and most of them went horribly wrong.”

 

Tatemi pouts and huffs (too cute), breaking away from my grasp. “Nana had a name and everything! I was planning for Hayami to make a special present for him. I mean, who wouldn’t be cheered up by an adorable girl?” ...She has a point, but these damn things do way too much. What was it… Operation Sakura right? Nana tried getting Sora to hook up with Kazeha back in our second-year in U.A. It pretty much ended up with her almost choking on her own petals. We still haven’t apologized...

 

“Honey,” I say, putting my hands on her cheeks (so warm), “I can’t count how many times I almost died from our operations. I’m getting way too old for this.” A flash of disappointment goes through her face. Her eyebrows curl down, her eyes frowning… Oh no, she’s giving me the sad look. Damn it, why can’t we talk about this like normal adults? Ugh, she’s staring right into my soul! I can’t take her eyes pitying me, on the verge of complete tears.

 

“Ugh, fine! Fine! I’m helping, I’m helping… Just… Just tell me what to do,” I let go of her cheeks, sitting on the ledge. She hops up with a completely different face, the one that’s excited to tell me the plan. Tatemi kisses my cheek, thanking me for being such a good husband… Yeah, there’s nothing like a wife giving a husband puppy eyes...

 

Tatemi explains Operation Hopes Up to me. To be honest, I’m not paying attention to what she’s saying. From what I do manage to catch is that we’ll make Todoroki apologize to him? Or throw a small party and celebration? It might be both, or it might be none of them. I know that Toshi’s class is involved.

 

If I’m being frank, this Todoroki kid doesn’t seem like a good man. Sorahiko complains about him a lot. He says that him and Toshi are utter rivals, even though Toshi isn’t invested in it. He recounted a story where Todoroki burned a U.A. training dummy to ashes. I heard these dummies are nearly indestructible, and he burned it to ashes. God… At least he “exudes a lot of confidence in his abilities” as said by Sora. As proof, during their Provisional License Exam, Todoroki and Toshi are the only ones who received perfect scores. And I thought One For All is a strong Quirk…

 

“Saki! Are you even listening?!” Tatemi snaps her fingers in front of my class. I instinctively lean backwa- Ah shit! Almost fell off! God damn it, that’s not how I want to die. Tatemi holds me still, making sure that I’m okay. “I’m so sorry!” Her hands go to my chest. We both feel my rapidly beating heart. It slows down after a few seconds… Jeez, I guess there’s my daily dose of adrenaline. 

 

“Heh... Well, to answer your question: I w-” Behind Tatemi, I see a white truck… Is… Is it me or is that thing going kinda fast? “Tatemi… I might be hallucinating, but isn’t that truck going a bit too fast?”

 

I gesture towards the truck. She turns around and watches it with me. We hear its engine roaring louder and louder as it goes down the street. Oh shit, that thing is going even faster! This isn’t a normal truck!  I stand up on the ledge, getting my bo staff out. I yell, “Tatemi! Jump down and stop the damn thing!”

 

“Got it!” Tatemi pulls out an ingot of pure iron and jumps off the roof. In mid-air, she activates Transmutation, transforming her clear and fair skin into a sharp grey tone, becoming iron. I press a button on my staff. Segments pull apart from one another and bend inwards as string shoots down from the top of the staff, connecting with the other end. I flick it, making sure it’s nice and tight. There we go, my bow’s ready. If there’s only an insane and reckless driver in there, it’ll stop before it hits Tatemi… If not… God, I hope it’s not, then I have to be ready. I pull a taser arrow out of my quiver, nocking it.

 

SLAM!

 

Tatemi lands. From the impact, the asphalt cracks and breaks underneath her feet, ruining the orderly solid yellow lines. Everyone in the area panics, screaming, running into any nearby buildings for safety. They’re yelling that a Villain is coming, a Villain is coming. All eyes are on her and the reckless truck. Tatemi puts the ingot away and holds her arms up, ready to stop that thing. It’s not speeding down. It’s not going to stop. Damn it! Please be safe, Tatemi!

 

Three!

 

VROOOOOOM!

 

Two!

 

“Come on!”

 

One!

 

CRASH!!!

 

Like an unstoppable barrier, Tatemi stopped the truck without a scratch. The front of the vehicle wraps around her like a metal blanket. Broken and jagged shards explode outwards onto the street, lining the roads with the truck’s innards. Traffic comes to a complete halt as scared civilians stay in their cars, waiting to see what’ll happen next. Inside the truck, the driver was saved by the safety features inside. (Thank God that us Japanese don’t make shoddy cars.) The only injury I see is a cut on his forehead, letting blood stain his blue hair. He quickly shakes his head and looks around before meeting eyes with my strong wife. Tatemi yells for him to come out, removing herself from her metal blanket. The driver quickly punches open his glove compartment, revealing a gun. Oh pal, that’s not going to help you.

 

THWHISH!

 

My taser arrow: The arrowhead is flat with two sharp prongs capable of delivering about 50,000 volts. It won’t kill the driver, but it’ll surely hurt like hell. As regulation, I had to get shot by one of these. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, especially since Tatemi filmed the entire thing.

 

My arrow flies through the front passenger window, hitting him right in his neck. I hear him screaming in pain as his muscles seizes up. Thank goodness that he didn’t grab his gun. If the arrow stuck him after he grabbed it, then he would have shot randomly. Tatemi flashes a thumbs-up to me as she slowly stomps over to the driver door, tearing it right off. She takes the guy out of his ruined truck and slams him against the ground. Afterwards, she signals me to come down. Alright, I guess we’ll have to investigate what exactly is in the truck. 

 

I press a button, putting my bow back into a bo staff. I put it on my back before I hang off the ledge, climbing down using the window ledges as rungs in a ladder. A minute or so later, I’m on the street with Tatemi walking up to me. She’s still full-iron. She details, “The driver’s practically unconscious. I already alerted the police, so they’re coming at any second. Now, we need to check out what’s inside. After you, my prince.”

 

I smirk, grabbing my staff again and twirling it around my hands. Tatemi and I go around the back where it’s pretty much unharmed. It tells me that there’s definitely something big in here. I don’t hear any movement inside, so it probably isn’t a person in there. For good measure, I whack the back doors. I announce, “Hey! If anyone’s inside, come out! You’re dealing with Master Kendo and Magnum Opus, the second and fifth-ranking Pro Heroes!” 

 

 

Nothing. I turn to Tatemi and she shrugs. Well, let’s open his bad boy up. I signal Tatemi to bust this door open, since I can’t tear a steel door off. She nods, grabbing the bottom handl-

 

BURST!

 

“Kyahahaha!” A skinny man just came out the roof! This guy has massive claws for hands! Well, at least his Quirk is obvious! I jump backwards as Claws lunges down on Tatemi. Within a second, his hands become pale blurs, striking her so many damn times, clashing against her metal skin. I would do something right now if Tatemi was getting hurt, but she’s standing there unscathed. 

 

After a few seconds or so, Claws’s laughter dies down into a nervous chuckle. He sees that he didn’t make a single dent in my wife, and decides to back up slowly. Backing up right into me. Claws’s shoulders jump up as he slowly turns his head. “Is there something on my face?” I ask him, but he’s staying silent (with that really long tongue of his hanging out of his mouth). Tatemi walks up behind him, tapping his shoulder.

 

“Well, aren’t you gonna answer him?” she adds on. Claws yelps as he looks around practically everywhere. The streets, the civilians, the rooftops, like a guardian angel would come down and save him. I gesture to Tatemi to knock this guy out. “Alright, good night my sweet prince!”

 

BAM!

 

And Tatemi punched his lights out. Claws crumple backwards onto me. I hold him up by his armpits before laying him next to the driver. It’s odd though. Why were they driving a truck? Claws doesn’t seem like he was the thing being transported, but rather the bodyguard. Tatemi and I should look at the truck again before the cops get here. “Tatemi, let’s check out the truck aga-”

 

BZZT! BZZT! BZZT!

 

My phone’s going off. I pull it ou- What… What the hell?! “ALERT! ALERT! NUMEROUS VILLAIN ATTACKS! LOCATIONS: TAMA, ASAO, SAIWAI, ADACHI, KITA, HOSU, AKI-” There’s attacks all over Japan! Damn it! One of them is near U.A.! That’s a few blocks down! Toshi and everyone else there is in danger! (Thank God that there isn’t anything near Hayami’s preschool.) 

 

An organized attack like this doesn’t spell out any lowly Villain. There’s only one man who can coordinate nationwide attacks like this: All For One. U.A. is his target isn’t it? I look at Tatemi, staring at her phone as well. Her mouth is wide open from shock and awe, taking in what’s happening. I yell, “Tatemi! We need to head to U.A.! Toshi-!!!”

 

BANG!

SNAP!

THUD!

 

A bullet hits my phone, shattering it into pieces. Sniper!!! Time slows down. I find myself yelling at everyone to get down as I tackle Tatemi against the totaled truck, using it as cover against our gunman. Two more shots ring out in the street, hitting the unconscious driver and Claws in the chest. I look closely and see darts with blue feathers sticking out. Before I know it, they jolt back awake, jumping onto their feet. The driver exclaims, “Come on, we gotta get to our target! Zabaniya can get the thing on his own!”

(Zabaniya? I feel like I heard it before, but it doesn’t matter. This “thing” that the driver was talking about must be in the truck!)

 

They sprint down the block with scared-out-of-their-mind civilians practically jumping away from them. The two of them turn left, Going that way is where U.A. is at, and Tatemi and I can’t do jack shit about it because of whoever Zabaniya is! (Damn it, the side view mirrors are busted! Can’t use it!) I ask Tatemi, “Can you get the sniper’s location?!” I turn my bo staff back into a bow as she nods, touching the tru-!!!

 

BANG!

SNAP!

 

Tatemi screams. She falls to her knees, clutching her shoulder. Fuck! She got shot! Zabaniya could tell that where we are?! I sprint over to Tatemi, screaming her name. A bullet snaps near my head, missing me by mere centimeters. Damn it! We have to get inside! 

 

“I got you!” I assure Tatemi, lifting her up and diving into the nearest building. Her blood gushes down her arm and staining my amber costume red. Another shot goes out, hitting a concrete wall besides me. Bits of dust gets onto my face and hair as I crash my back through the door. My foot slams it shut. I look around and… And I’m in a bookstore with a ton of terrified people. “Are any of you certified in first aid?!” 

 

A young man stands up and says, “I’m a doctor-in-training!” I order him to clear a bunch of books off of a table, placing Tatemi down. She groans in pain, shifting around. (That fucker!) The owners, an elderly couple, run out with a first aid kit. (I’m glad these people are prepared!) The student grabs scissors from the kit and cuts her costume just enough to expose her shoulder. He lets out a sigh of relief. “From her blood, the bullet didn’t hit an artery! I can take control of things, Master Kendo! We need you to keep us safe!”

 

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” I grunt, moving Tatemi’s hair back, “I can take the son of the bitch out, Tatemi. Hang on for me.” I plant a kiss on her forehead, turning to the owners. They point towards a door that goes up to the rooftops. Quickly, I bash through the door and run up an endless amount of stairs. (It’s eerily silent.) I swear underneath my breath at how many flights there are before I make it up top.

 

Good, the only thing I know about Zabaniya’s location is he’s across the street. God, I wish today was uneventful, but at least Musutafu won’t have a master marksman out on the street. Immediately, I take cover behind a ledge. I take a steel-tipped arrow out and put it against the arrow rest. Okay, Zabaniya must have seen Tatemi and I running into the bookstore. His attention is not specifically on us, but on the truck. 

 

I stand up. My eyes dart around from building to building, searching for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing there. Nothing here. Nothing. I remember seeing a flash of something black earlier though. Tatemi and I were on the building to the left of me, and the flash was to our right. Aha! Found you, you bastard. Looks like we’re directly across from each other. Zabaniya huh? Dressed in all black with some bits metal armor. What’s important is you have the sniper that shot my wife. Luckily for me, you’re turned away. I assume that you’re trying to watch out for anyone else, thinking that I’m staying with my wife. That’s arrogant of you. Better say your prayers, Zabaniya.

 

I pull the string back and let go.

 

THWISH!

 

My arrow goes through the air, twisting and bending at first release. It flies across the street with the wind pushing it to the right. Closer and closer, this is heading towards your head. I hope he has some armor underneath that hood of his-?! Wha… What the hell?! He just caught my arrow without looking! It was flying faster than a person can blink! How the hell can he catch it?! God damn it, why can’t this be an easy day?!

 

Zabaniya tosses my arrow aside and spins around. He rests his sniper on his knee, firing within a second. I quickly dodge to my side as the air snaps around me. I nock and release another arrow. Missed. It’s embedded in an air duct near him. (He didn’t flinch. He’s used to this.) Before I have the time to react, Zabaniya shoots again. The bullet whizzes past my head, nicking my ear and hitting a fence behind me. A burning sensation erupts in my ear, but that’s nothing. It’s nothing compared to what I’m going to do to him.

 

I stand up completely and start running to the other end of the rooftop. Zabaniya does the same running with a sniper like it’s weightless. We fire at each other. I missed him, my arrow is going on a journey of its own. He missed me, his bullet going off deeper into the city. Again, we fire. Another miss for the both of us. I stop a few meters away from the ledge, facing him with my bow drawn. He stops too with his sniper aimed steadily. 

 

Right in front of each other, on different buildings, across a street. The sound of cars wailing mixes in with the soft wind, whispering in my ear. Blood trickles down my arm, Tatemi’s blood. This fucker shot her. Hurt the woman I love, the mother of my child. I don’t care who he is, he’s going to pay for what he did.

 

Zabaniya, is that right? I remember where that name comes from now. Zabaniya: One of the nineteen high-ranking assassins of the Hashashin, a group of Villains that live within the Middle East. The nineteen Zabaniyas are led by a man named Maalik, but he isn’t the leader of the Hashashin. That honor goes to the second-most dangerous Villain in the entire world (the first being All For One, which is classified for most of the world): Hassan-i Sabbah. As stated by the United Hero Nations, Hassan-i Sabbah can “kill any mortal man”. Luckily, he’s imprisoned in Tartarus. Fun fact: The media decided to call the Hashashin as the name found in the history books: Order of Assassins.

 

The Assassins and All For One are in league with one another.

 

I draw another steel-tipped arrow. Zabaniya raises his sniper, putting the stock against his right shoulder. 

 

I let go.

 

He fires.

 

THWISH!

THUD THUD!

 

Huh, there was two things that buzzed past my head. It looked like I just split a bullet in half with an arrow. (Am I good or am I good ?) Luckily for me, my arrow got itself stuck right in Zabaniya’s shoulder, right in between his metal plates. He looks up at me. Even with a mask, I can tell he’s shocked. He throws his sniper on the ground and pulls the arrow out of his shoulder. From his back, Zabaniya draws a beautiful Middle Eastern sword that reflects the sunlight. He points towards the street and jumps off the roof, landing safely on the ground rolling a few times. I expected that fall wouldn’t have hurt him. Alright, Zabaniya challenged me. Finally, this bastard will get what he deserves.

 

I spin my bow around my hands and press a button along the way. The string is retracted and the staff is straightened out with a long, sharp blade extruding from one end. Ah, my beautiful naginata. From the ledge, I hang off and quickly climb down to street level. Zabaniya is waiting for me, standing still like a statue with his sword raised. It really is a beautiful piece of thing. 

 

It’s a double-edged sword, similar to ones found in the Middle East. It has a faint tint of red at the blunt, getting redder as it crawls to its sharp counterpart. There’s a trapezoid-like hole in the middle, near the hilt. There’s two more smaller holes like it, getting thinner and thinner. As for the handle and hilt, it’s blackened like charcoal with beautiful etchings. The handle has an Arabic saying on it, which I can’t translate. The pommel has a stunning red jewel. A ruby perhaps. It feels like I’m blessed by simply looking at this sword.

 

“Master Kendo,” Zabaniya says (so the masked man can speak. In Japanese nonetheless), without a single deviation from his stance, “I am honored to have a fight with a man of similar skill. Let God bless this duel, casting His light upon the victor.”

 

“Whatever,” I mutter, taking my naginata with both hands, “honor or not, you made the biggest mistake when you shot my wife. I’ll make you regret going into bed with All For One.” Zabaniya sighs and twirls his blade around his right hand.

 

Without another word, we circle each other in the middle of the street. I catch the eyes of hiding civilians, behind cars, in stores looking out through the windows, staring closely at us, not daring to make a noise. The cry of derelict cars, the soft wind, and my pounding heart are the only music accompanying our fight.

 

My naginata is raised downwards, pointing towards Zabaniya’s chest. Zabaniya has his sword ready. He knows that he’s at a disadvantage here. No matter the fight, a spear would have the upper hand in any given fight against a sword. It has the greater reach and easier to use overall. Even if I don’t use the bladed end, my naginata can double as a blunt weapon with the polearm. Any man, wearing armor or not, can and will be subdued. Since Zabaniya and I are equal in terms of pure skill and combat prowess, it’s all up to our weapon of choice to decide who wins. Guess who picked a better weapon?

 

That’s why Zabaniya is staying back, and why I’m kicking this fight off.

 

“Hyah!” I lunge, pushing my naginata forward with my left hand, my right being still. It thrusts towards Zabaniya’s chest, but he weaves to the right. He bats the blade away with his sword and charges closer. Damn, charging right at me, eh?! From the looks of it, he’s aiming to cut my head clean off. Reflexively, I spin underneath his strike and sweep his legs out from under him, using the naginata. He falls to the ground, still gripping onto his rosen sword.

 

“Hyah hyah!” I grunt again, thrusting while he’s flat on his back. Zabaniya rolls deeper into the street, dodging two of my thrusts. On the third roll, he flicks his sword up and deflects my naginata again. He jumps onto his feet and pulls his sword back, driving it towards my chest. I regain control of my naginata just in time to parry it upwards, shifting to the right and landing a blunt blow on the back of his head. 

 

Thwack!

 

That’s the sound of wood hitting skull. Don’t have any armor there, do you? Zabaniya grunts in pain, turning his head towards me. He spins counterclockwise, using the momentum to strike at my left hip. I block with my naginata pointing upwards into the air. He gasps in shock right before I knee him in the groin, kicking him back on the ground. His sword falls out of his hands as he lay on his back again. 

 

“Take this!” I yell, slamming the naginata into his shoulder. Zabaniya groans in pain as I shove it in deeper, gritting my teeth. This is what Tatemi felt, you bastard! He grabs my weapon with both hands. Even though I don’t see his eyes, I can feel him staring, glaring at me. “Aren’t you going to say anything, you-!”

 

SLAM!

 

Zabaniya knocked me on the ground with his legs. My vision goes dark before everything comes back with crashing colors and noises. The man… The bastard is standing up besides me, about to run over to his sword. Like hell I’d give you the chance! With my right foot, I kick the back of his left knee. (There’s no armor there too!) He trips on the ground, giving me ample time to stand myself up. Zabaniya gets up too, turning around to face me. My naginata is to my left, on the sidewalk. His sword is behind him, laying on top of a car somehow. Tch, we won’t have time to get to our weapons...

 

Zabaniya raises his fists, so do I.

 

This time, he makes the first move. Zabaniya feints with his right, thinking he’ll attack me with his left. I saw it coming and duck underneath his punch, striking his chest with an elbow. And I just elbowed a plate of metal, doing virtually nothing to him. Damn it! Since I’m in this position, I shoulder push him away a meter or two. I can’t attack him anywhere with armor. His neck and the side of his head should be good places to hit. The back of his legs too!

 

“Yah!” I charge forward, feinting with a low left sweeping kick, actually aiming to punch his temple with my right. Zabaniya doesn’t move as I run up to him. He’s still as a statue, like he’s amused at my effort. That son of a bitch! I’ll beat him to the point where his own mother couldn’t recognize him!

 

THUD!

 

I punch him. He doesn’t react. Damn it! I strike the top of his chest where there isn’t any armor. He doesn’t react. I throw a left hook at his head. It snaps to the side, but he doesn’t react. I open my palm, slamming it where his heart is supposed to be. Nothing. So much for not attacking his armor… “Why don’t you go down?!” I roar, delivering a swift uppercut to where his chin is at. Zabaniya cocks his head upwards before slowly looking down at me. He pulls his head back and head-butts me with his metal mask, shattering my nose.

 

Blood gushes all over my face. I’m dizzy, my head’s spinning around like a carousel ride. There’s three Zabaniya’s in front of me, and I can’t tell which one is the real him. All three of them pull their fist back and strike me again in the jaw. I go down on one knee, spitting a tooth out. Is it a tooth? Hell if I know, it’s all covered in blood. Heh, it must be really bad if I can’t feel the pain from this.

 

I stumble back up, but the three Zabaniya’s turn into one, kicking me in the chest. F-Fuck… I feel my chest cracking from that… I’m on the ground, I think. Can’t… Can’t lose like this. Using the rest of my strength, I stand myself up once again… Probably for the last time. Zabaniya cocks his head to the side slightly. He says something in Arabic. That better be a compliment…

 

Zabaniya pulls out a knife from his belt. I didn’t have the time to react before he sticks it in my chest. I hear myself screaming in pain, with Zabaniya’s arm outstretched, making not a hint of noise. Nothing… He has nothing to say as he’s killing me? I… I can’t die like this… I have a daughter to get back home to. I can’t make her cry… She needs to tell Daddy how much she loves him… And Tatemi…

 

Tatemi.

 

“Graaaaah!” I grab Zabaniya’s arm and shove his knife in deeper, lodging the blade in between my ribs. I yell even louder, my teeth being stained with blood. My nails dig into his clothes and skin, my hands gripping his arm with all of my strength. Zabaniya is helpless as he watches-

 

SNAP!

 

As I break his arm. I let go of one of my hands, reaching back to my quiver and grabbing a steel-tipped arrow. It spins around in my fingers before it goes into his neck.

 

SHLUNK!

 

Zabaniya lets go of his knife, staggering backwards as blood starts to stain his black hood. It has a nice shade of red now. His arm… Everything above his elbow is bent upwards in a horrifying position, but I don’t care. The bastard deserves every bit of it. Somehow, I run forward and shove him onto the ground. I pick up his own sword, putting my feet on his chest, and put the blade to his neck.

 

“You son of a bitch...” I growl, lifting my foot up and slamming it against his chest. A small pool of blood forms under his neck. Heh, I think he’s still kicking. He’s a tough bastard. “Unlike you Assassins, I won’t kill unless I have to! Don’t make me add you to the list, Zabaniya!” Zabaniya looks at me for a second, like he’s thinking. Asshole, I’ll-?!

 

WHOOOOOSH!

 

A massive gust of wind floods the street behind me. I turn around and see a massive man brawling with… Brawling with Toshi?! No, it’s not a damn brawl! Toshi is beating the hell out of him! From up top, on the roofs, Todoroki has a Hellflame spear through a Villain’s leg. Good God, if I didn’t know any better, that Villain is dead! Todoroki looks down on me with a confused look. “Master Kendo, who are you fighting?!”

 

“I’m fighting-” I look at Zabaniya, who isn’t there anymore. Fuck… He disappeared within a couple of seconds? Damn it, I guess he isn’t apart of the Assassins for nothing… I’m still holding his sword though. Heh, he’ll have to go back to his superiors though. I bet they aren’t happy with his failure. This will be a good story to tell if… Tatemi! “Fuck! Todoroki! Where’s Recovery Girl?! Opus has gotten shot!”

 

Todoroki’s eyes go wide. He looks over to Toshi, who’s carrying the beaten Villain on his shoulder. “Yagi! Get Recovery Girl! We got two injured Pro Heroes: Master Kendo and Magnum Opus!” 

 

“Right!” Toshi drops the Villain on the ground before running like a madman back to U.A. Oh God… I guess they didn’t need us after all… Heh… They got Toshi and Todoroki there, Sorahiko, and I think Nana too? I don’t know… Why did I think they needed help in the first place? You know, my body’s… My body feels a little relaxed. 

 

I fall to the ground with Todoroki’s voice calling out to me.

 

***

 

“Good news, you idiot. You aren’t dead.”

“Oh, well geez Chiyo, I totally thought I died for sure ,” I reply to her sarcastically. Tatemi cocks a side-look at me, obviously annoyed that I’m back-talking Chiyo. With her eyes, she’s telling me, Be nice to her. She’s the one who saved our lives. Yeah, yeah. She’s right. Without Chiyo, I would be dead and she would be too. “Thanks anyway. You’re a literal life-saver.” 

 

“Mhm! Without you, I wouldn’t be here to take care of this idiot. We both know that he’ll be a mess without me,” Tatemi comments, nudging my with her good elbow. Ugh, for a woman that got shot earlier, she’s awfully happy. I wouldn’t have her in any other way. Chiyo scoffs and bats her hand, reading something on her phone.

 

“Nana and Sora are out in the city, cleaning up the rest of the mess. As for that truck, Saki, the police found some kind of weapon. They say that if it wasn’t for you, U.A. would have been completely destroyed,” Chiyo details without looking up once from her phone. Well, that’s the closest a compliment I can get. 

 

“There might be a day where you have to cut us from your lives completely.”

 

Nana’s voice suddenly rings out in my head. Right… This attack was perpetrated by All For One. The target was definitely U.A. and Toshi. Thanks to me distracting Zabaniya, he didn’t have an opportunity to use it. But, like hell this is the moment where I’m cutting them out. If anything, it shows that All For One failed. He didn’t kill any one of us. And especially…

 

“Chiyo, all of Japan are cheering for a guy named ‘All Might’ right? I heard he defeated a ton of Villains by himself, despite being a student at U.A.,” I ask her, smirking to myself. Tatemi smirks too, getting comfortable in her hospital bed. Chiyo nods and hums, showing us her phone. All of the news outlets are talking about a man named Toshinori Yagi.

 

“Toshinori ‘All Might’ Yagi defends U.A. from Villain threat!”

“The next No.1 Pro Hero? All Might!”

“U.A. students, All Might and Endeavour, conquers Villains!”

“Beware criminals! Musutafu has a new, young guardian: All Might!”

 

Look at that… We didn’t need Operation Hope or whatever it was called. Toshi went and instantly became Japan’s rising Hero. There’ll be all kinds of attention on him now. All of them believing that he’ll be the next big thing, and he will. To the public, he already became a Pro Hero. That’s what he needed.

 

Yeah, that smiling face of his. It’s the same, smiling picture in all of the articles. Go ahead Japan, admire it. You’ll be seeing it a lot from here on out.

 

Chiyo gets up from her chair. “I’m gonna check up on my other patients. Hayami should be coming here at any moment.” And she leaves just like that. Just like that… Ah, I love how uncaring she is. She doesn’t want to admit that she was worried sick about Tatemi and I. Speaking of Tatemi, she grabs my hand and holds it tight.

 

She only says one word, “Hey.”

 

“Hey,” I reply back, laughing then groaning a bit. Ah crap, laughing hurts my chest. Tatemi giggles, giving me her sweet smile. She rubs her thumb on the back of my hand, feeling every knuckle and vein. “You scared the hell out of me, you know…” I say, trying not to remember, “our little girl needs the best mom in the world.”

 

“I know. Sometimes, I just… worry that both of us won’t come back home. It’s the scariest part of the job, Saki…” Tatemi quietly mutters, looking into my eyes. If I wasn’t restrained to this bed, I would go over and give her the biggest hug I could muster. 

 

“That’s why you have me. We’re partners in this, Tatemi. I’ll do everything to make sure that the two most important women in my life are safe,” I assure her, squeezing her hand tighter. A tear goes down her eye, and I wish I could wipe that away. Wipe it away and kiss her. 

 

Tatemi smiles, laying her head back. “That’s why I married you, Master Kendo . I can always count on you to defeat an assassin from the Middle East,” she jokes, looking at Zabaniya’s sword that’s laying on the table. (I hope that I get to keep it. Not only I get to boast how I match a Zabaniya, I got proof of the fact. Better get good security though or else someone might steal it.)

 

“Hey, if the job calls for it, I’ll do it. Speaking of jobs, think Nana will sulk once she sees us in this state? Maybe Toshi too? They’re practically mother and son now,” and I wince at that last part. Should not have mentioned that. Tatemi is nodding her head, agreeing with my thoughts or agreeing with the sulking part. Aw jeez, either way, that’s pretty stupid of me. At least Nana isn’t in the roo-

 

The door opens. Out comes an incredibly cute daughter. “Mommy! Daddy!” I let go of Tatemi’s hand as Hayami runs up in between us. She starts going on about how her preschool was put on lockdown and how scared she was, but she told her friends that her “totally awesome parents” can defeat the Villains! Hayami gives both of us a big hug. (I should note that Chiyo also walked in the room without a word.) Hayami sits on Tatemi’s bed, starting to talk about Toshi. She wants to give him a big hug for saving the day too. Him, Nana, and Sora. Not Todoroki though, because “he’s a scary guy”. I don’t blame her.

 

Later that day, Nana returns from Tokyo with Sorahiko. They tell us that U.A. wasn’t All For One’s actual target. The real target was Tartarus. All For One broke some of the world’s most dangerous Villains out. One of which was Hassan-i Sabbah. Well, I guess I know why Zabaniya was helping him…

 

Everything got a little more hectic.

 

***

 

“Master Kendo, where did you get this sword from?” Sanji asks me, pointing at Zabaniya’s sword within its glass display. Ah, I’m still proud of that one. It’s been what? Thirty years since I fought him? I matched the skill of an Assassin, which is something that virtually no one had the pleasure of.

 

Heh, I remember how Tatemi and I almost died because of him… It was all so long ago. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her and Nana. I guess what Nana said is right though… One For All is a curse. It struck my family, it struck her, and God only knows what happened to the Shimura’s. At least… At the very least, Toshi crushed All For One’s head years ago, avenging them. In a letter, he told me that he suffered a permanent injury though. I didn’t have the heart to write back.

 

Then, what do you know, a new torchbearer came into light: Izuku Midoriya. Quirkless like Toshi, same heart as Toshi, strong as Toshi. If I didn’t know any better, than that boy is his illegitimate son. But, for the love of all that’s good, why the hell doesn’t he restrain himself from One For All’s power? It’s like Toshi back then! Only then, Toshi could actually handle the recoil! This boy can’t! Midoriya is more of a mess than he is!

 

He needs some proper training.

 

“Master Kendo?” Sanji gets my attention, staring at me weirdly, “There you are. No offense, but you’re worse than me sometimes.” The nerve of this boy!

 

Whack!

 

I smack the back of his head. He winces in pain, rubbing where I hit him. “Be quiet! Now, shoo shoo! Go work on hand-to-hand combat with Itsuka and Mashirao! I need to make an important phone call,” I tell him, pushing him out of my office. Sanji mutters something right before I shove him out the door. I don’t give him the time to turn back as I slam the door, locking it. There, he’s out of my life for a good few hours. (He has the same heart as Nana, but I swear, he’s much more exhausting than she is. Always training, never sleeping. It’s like he doesn’t care about his body at all! How is he still functioning? Ugh...)

 

I take out my phone, scrolling down to Toshi’s number. Without hesitation, I call him. And immediately, he picks up. “M-Master Kendo?!” he exclaims in a hush voice. (“All Might, who is it?” That sounds like Eraserhead.) 

 

“An old friend!” Toshi tells him as I hear him walking. “I’m so sorry that I don’t visit you or Hayami! I figured since after what happened with Tatemi, you don’t want anything to do with me! And about Midoriya, you probably know that he’s the next holder! I’m so sorry that I didn’t tell you! I’m also ensuring that your granddaughter and Young Inochi will be safe under my teaching! I swe-”

I interrupt him, “Okay, shut up. You talk too much, Toshi. And frankly, I don’t think they’re safe at all since Midoriya thinks his arms are replaceable! What the hell are you teaching him?! Didn’t you forget how many times you destroyed my Dojo?! Or the time where your own power broke my arm too?!” 

 

“...”



“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” I say, continuing, “Toshi, tomorrow, you will bring Midoriya here. I don’t care what you two have planned tomorrow. If you want him to be a great Hero, then bring him here. Do you understand, All Might ?”

 

“Yes, Master Kendo,” Toshi tells me. After that, I hang up on him. Alright, that settles it. Guess I’m cultivating the next Symbol of Peace. There’s no more All For One to worry about, so the boy can continue the era of peace that we’re in. Jeez, how am I going to explain this to Sanji and Itsuka? Eh, they’ll find out tomorrow. Hayami would be happy seeing Toshi in person too. (When she got married to Kaito, she was upset that Sora and Toshi didn’t make it to her wedding. Or when Itsuka was born.)

 

I sigh, sitting back in my chair. Tatemi, if you could see Hayami now… I hope you’re happy up there, with Nana. Don’t worry, I’ll try my best to whip Midoriya up to shape. He won’t have to fight that monster.

 

I promise.

Chapter Text

Sasaki Kendo

“I am here! In disguise!” Toshi takes off his hat and jacket, tossing it to the ground. (It isn’t one minute and he’s already making a mess.) He’s here with Midoriya, my two dumbos are ready, now we’re only waiting for Mashirao. Sanji has his eyes wide open, looking at Toshi, then at me, then back at Toshi. Itsuka’s smiling, trying her best to hide her excitement (failing miserably). Midoriya is awkwardly standing besides Toshi with a face that says, I don’t know what to do.

 

Toshi laughs and ruffles Itsuka’s and Sanji’s hair. “Young ones! We will have a training lesson with Master Kendo! I also brought Young Midoriya here for that reason. Now, let’s keep this a secret between us, shall we? We don’t want the news to find out.” He puts a finger to his mouth, signaling to keep quiet. Itsuka nods and smiles while Sanji is nodding a lot more violently.

 

“Y-Yes, Mister All Might!” Sanji exclaims, bringing a hand to his chest. Toshi hums in approval before pushing Midoriya forward to greet him and Itsuka.

 

“Nice to meet y-you two,” Midoriya greets them with a slight stutter, his eyes frantically looking over at me sometimes. “I heard a lot about Master Kendo. I never knew he was close friends with All Might! It’s kinda surreal that this is happening…”

 

“Tell me about it,” Itsuka comments, nudging Sanji’s arm playfully, “Grandpa didn’t tell us that you two would be coming. Oh, thanks for punching that bas-” Sanji clears his throat. Itsuka sighs and continues, “For stopping Suzuki. He really did a number on Inochi.”

 

“Mhm,” Sanji hums with a slight smile, “that reminds me… Midoriya, how exactly are you related to All Might? Your Quirks are pretty similar. Are you two father and son? Uncle and nephew? Step- Ghrk!” Itsuka whacks the back of Sanji’s head. His body goes limp, but she’s there to lift him up by his collar.

 

“Sorry, don’t mind him. He has an overactive imagination,” Itsuka apologizes and bows her head to Toshi, Sanji too (barely). Midoriya nervously chuckles, looking a bit more terrified than before. Toshi looks at Itsuka then at me in complete disbelief. Pfft, I don’t think he accepted the fact that Itsuka is Hayami’s daughter. How will I tell him that Hayami isn’t an innocent girl anymore?

 

After Sanji gets back on his feet, the three of them start talking about their time in U.A. Some of the conversations range from what happened with Suzuki, to Midoriya’s Quirk (which is kept a secret for obvious reasons), and Sanji’s situation with his own Quirk (which he immediately changes the conversation to something else). I still don’t know what his Quirk is, other than his Adoptive Muscle Memory. I have a feeling that he knows more than he let on though.

 

I walk over to Toshi who has a proud smile on his face. I whisper, “Toshi, did you tell Midoriya about him yet?” The smile on his face turns into a frown. He lets out a sigh, putting an arm around me and walking us to the other side of the lobby. His eyes are darkened, staring down at the floor.

 

“No, I haven’t. I will tell Young Midoriya some day, but not today. Oh, how’s Hayami doing nowadays? I’d thought she would be here,” Toshi asks me. He looks around for her before laughing, “I remember when I used to carry her on my shoulders. She was so small and tiny, and now she has a… unique daughter.”

 

“You talk like an old man, Toshi,” I laugh as well, patting his back. “Anyway, she’s upstairs. I haven’t told her that you’re here yet, so let’s make a surprise.” Toshinori smiles and nods as the door opens. I look over to see Mashirao, who looks pretty surprised. He stares at Toshi and I before at Midoriya. His tail is wagging slightly like a little puppy.

 

He asks in disbelief, “All Mi-?”

 

“Young Ojiro! I’m glad you can make it to this special day of training!” Toshi goes back to his All Might voice. (Why is he being so loud? First, he makes a mess on the floor. It’s like he wants all of Japan to know he’s here.) He walks over to Mashirao and the kids, chatting about what’s going to happen today. I hear Midoriya gulping at his “personal and private assessment” with me. 

 

With the explanation out of the way, Toshi leads everyone upstairs. I follow behind the crowd as Itsuka and Sanji give a tour guide to Midoriya. Itsuka shows him her personal room, filled to the brim with broken punching bags. (Such a mess.) Then, Sanji shows his room, which has enough weapons to supply a small army. Midoriya’s face is stuck in between: Being afraid and wanting to nerd out over these weapons. Mashirao is staying quiet while Toshi is complimenting my kids.

 

Last, but not least, is Hayami’s room. Itsuka knocks, telling her, “Mom! Grandpa got guests!” We hear something metal being dropped and a loud groan. Hayami told me that she wanted to make a chakram for some reason.

 

“I thought there wasn’t any lessons today!” Hayami nearly pulls the door off of its hinges. She’s wearing a welding mask and carrying a hammer in her other hand, looking around before stopping at Toshi. And she drops the hammer with a loud clang . “Toshi?! Is that you?!”

 

Toshi moves in front and smiles brightly like the sun, exclaiming. “That’s right! I am-!”



WHACK!

 

Hayami kicks him in the groin. Itsuka buries her hands in her face while the rest of us take a step back. Sanji and Midoriya both look horrified. Toshi falls to one knee, his soul leaving his body. Hayami berates him, “You don’t call! You don’t write! The only time I get to see you is on TV! For the longest time, I thought you forgot all about Dad and I!”

Toshi gasps out an apology, “I-I’m sorr-”

 

Like how she always is, Hayami takes off her mask and hugs Toshi. Toshi hugs back, taking care to not crush her with his incredible strength. “Jeez… Sorry… It’s nice to finally see you, in person , Toshi.” 

 

Heh, he doesn’t know how much Hayami had missed him. She doesn’t talk about him to Itsuka and Sanji, only me sometimes. It was hard for her, when Tatemi died. Even more so with Toshinori and everyone else being cut off from our lives. It took a long time to get back my smiling daughter. In fact, the first time when she had a genuine smile was when she met Kaito. Then, when he went missing, it killed her. Yet, she kept fighting to make Itsuka happy. When Sanji came along, Hayami thought he was going to be a pain, but he turned out to be the opposite. Now, she took him in as one of her own, smiling again. (If I was a better father, a better Hero, then I could have stopped Hayami from going through all of this pain...) 

 

I hear Hayami talking. She’s telling stories about Toshi during his U.A. days. It’s embarrassing stories, things that would ruin the good Symbol of Peace’s name. Midoriya is literally plugging his ears because he doesn’t want to hear them. Poor kid. I let out a hearty laugh, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Toshinori, why don’t you start your lesson?” Midoriya’s eyes go wide as he realizes that, yes, it’s time.

 

Toshi gives me a thumbs up and heads into an empty room. “Everyone! Let’s train! Let’s leave Young Midoriya with Master Kendo!” They pile into the room, including Hayami. She closes the door and leaves Midoriya and I alone in the hallway. 

 

“Come on, Midoriya,” I say, leading him to my room. We go inside, and I make sure that the door is shut, so no one can hear us. Midoriya stands in the middle of my bamboo mat with his arms awkwardly at his side. Now, let’s see how Toshi trained him. “Before we get started, I need to know: How did Toshi train you?”

 

“Uhm, by cleaning Dagobah Beach Park in ten months. I did it hours before the Entrance Exam, Master Kendo,” Midoriya answers me. I put on an emotionless face, because I’m screaming in the inside. This boy cleaned that filthy park up?! Really?! Well, that’s one way of training his body to handle One For All’s power, which brings me to my next question.

 

I ask him, “So, when did you get the Quirk?” Midoriya panics slightly, rubbing the back of his head and looking down slightly.

 

He admits, “A… A few weeks ago…” Oh my goodness, that explains why his arms break so much. It’s not even been a month yet! All of this is still new to him! Damn it Toshi, what kind of kid did you bring here? I can’t teach him restraint because he doesn’t know how to restrain his power in the first place! At least, he won’t go willy-nilly with it…

 

“That’s great,” I sarcastically comment, going over to the side and pulling out a U.A. training dummy. “I know where you stand now in terms of training. But, where’s your mind at, Midoriya? Why do you want to be a Pro Hero?”

 

Instantly, he answers, “To be like All Might! I want to save people just like him! And now, it feels like a dream come true...” Huh, I don’t know if it’s arrogant that Toshi picked his number one fan to be the next holder or not. Still, it’s a good thing he picked Midoriya. I pecked him out to be a nerd the first moment I saw him. A determined nerd though. Fearless, willing to put his body through such pain. All qualities perfect for an up and coming Pro, but typical for someone as young as him.

 

“I’d bet,” I remark, throwing a couple of hardwood staffs on the floor, “you’re like every idealistic kid in U.A. If I was a teacher there, I would bring a hammer called ‘reality’ and whack everyone over the head with it.” Midoriya turns to me with a confused look.

 

“What do you mean, Master Kendo?” I toss him a bo staff and he catches it. (Good, he can catch something.) He holds it in his hands. Ah, I know those eyes. He’s analyzing how much it weighs and how to properly use it. Smart kid. Chances are: He doesn’t know how to properly use it, so he’s doing the best with the information he got.

 

I sigh, telling him, “Look, Midoriya, you have been given an amazing Quirk by an even more amazing man. You have the power to maintain this era of peace that Toshi brought us, but you have to be ready when the glamorous lifestyle of a Pro Hero becomes not-so-glamorous.” I pick up my own staff, walking up to Midoriya with sincere eyes. He watches me intently, simply nodding and looking at his hands.

 

“You’ll have to sacrifice parts of your body and mind. It’s what the job costs us. The worst part is: No one is ready when it happens. No one...” My voice trails off at the end as I stare at the ground. Jeez, why am I telling this to him? He’s only a kid, but he’s getting himself into a dangerous job. He-

 

Midoriya grips his staff tightly, nodding firmly. “I’ll push on despite it, Master Kendo! You can count on me!” They all say that. His face is the definition of “naive”, but he seems strong-willed, like Toshi. We all know how he turned out to be. “If I may ask… Why are you helping me? All Might said that you stopped being involved with him.”

 

And of course he had to bring that up, but I don’t blame him. “Eh, I gotten bored of sitting around and doing nothing. So, I figured I’d help train the next ‘Symbol of Peace’. After all, that’s what you want, right kid?”

 

Midoriya nods with his resolve still going strong. “Right! Please train me, Master Kendo!” He tries to spin the staff around his hand, but it slips and bonks him right in the head. A soft whimper comes out. Aw, he looks embarrassed too. There’s a long road ahead of him, that’s for sure. And… And I’m helping him.

 

Jeez, this only happened from the spur of the moment. I still feel so damn guilty from Tatemi’s death. I can’t change what happened, not sure if I’d ever forgive myself. The only good thing I can do is help Toshi and this kid. I’m not doing it for myself, not for redemption, but for them. It won’t be fair if I stay a couch log, or only focus on my own kin. It’s what us Pro Heroes do… helping people. Helping everyone, but ourselves. Anyway, it’s time to stop thinking to myself and train this boy.

 

“Okay, Midoriya. I hope you’re flexible, because if you’re not, then prepare for a whole lot of pain.”


~~~

 

Sanji Inochi

“Should I apologize to Midoriya? I mean, the spar between us was nasty. He improved a lot since last week, but that’s besides the point,” I ask Kendo, walking our usual path to school. She makes an indifferent hum, texting Kodai. My eyes glances over her screen and… Uhm, Kodai said that there’s a horde of reporters in front of the school. Crap… But, it’s a bit amusing to imagine Kodai staring out of the window with the news below her. She would make the perfect idol. (But still, the news!)

 

Kendo sighs, putting her phone in her bag. “Eh, it doesn’t matter. Midoriya isn’t treating it like he’s emotionally hurt. Anyway, you saw Yui’s text right? Think you can make it through a crowd of nosy people?”

 

I gulp, shaking my head. The news is everything I’m not fond of. The attention, the amount of personal questions, it’s all way too much for me! I feel my heart pounding a lot more just from thinking about it! My breath is getting short, and I don’t feel like walking… Crap, let’s hope that Kendo can carry me the rest of the way…

 

“Why are you acting introverted all of the sudden?” Kendo complains, taking me by the arm and moving us along. I bow my head in shame, watching the sidewalk go by. The sound of cameras clicking and questions are faintly in the distance… I can’t handle those people… Too nosy and noisy. Oh jeez, they’ll be after us, right? Kendo is the granddaughter of a famous Pro Hero, so they’ll surely pull us aside for questions! We won’t be able to get in! Imagine all the questions prodding away at my soul!

 

I only mumble something in response. Kendo groans as she takes us closer to that cursed school… I see it now. I can hear it. A rabid army of men and women, carrying microphones as their bows, questions as arrows. All for them universally shouting, obsessively chanting about All Might. They smell the scent of any helpless students that walk by, shooting them with their arrows. So, these students fell, being swallowed by the endless horde. Ah… I think I see Bondo in there... Rest in peace...

 

“Don’t worry, Inochi, I’ll protect you from the evil reporters,” Kendo promises and lets go of my arm. She looks at the crowd, watching how they act. Knowing her, she’s thinking of the best way to get inside without being killed. Man, this is so much worse than getting my shoulder pushed back together. It’s-!!!

 

“Itsuka Kendo and Sanji Inochi!”

“Oh God, one of them found us!” I exclaim, jumping behind Kendo with my hands on her shoulders. (She’s looking at me like I’m a lost cause…) I peer over her and get a look at which reporter had sniffed us out. It’s a woman with eyes like Ashido’s… Pale hair too… Oh no, it’s Chitose Kizuki! She’s the executive director of Shoowaysha Publishing! I heard stories about her! Stories of how ravenous she is when it comes to finding a good story! 

 

“I have some questions for you, Miss Kendo! Is true that your grandfather was once close allies with All Might? Does he know what his Quirk is? Was All Might at his Dojo the other day? As for you, Mister Inochi, how does it feel to be a legally Quirkless student in one of the most prestigious schools in Japan? Do you have any words for Karisuma Suzuki? Do you know what your Quirk is?”

 

This woman is talking way too fast! She’s got even more questions too! When will this end?! My body is becoming a pincushion from her vastly inexhaustible questions! Kendo suddenly takes a step forward and clenches her fists. Please don’t tell me that she’s going to punch her! That’s a crime that she can’t come back from! “Buzz off, would you?! We’re trying to go to school!”

 

“Not only that, but you’re bothering this adorable man!” Tokage appears, linking arms with me. She flashes a smirk to Miss Kizuki, who’s staring at Tokage like she’s the devil. “After all… My father would be upset if-”

“You don’t have to say anything else,” Miss Kizuki grunts, her voice gets deeper as she stomps away with a cameraman behind her. Kendo sighs in relief, turning around to the two of us. Man, I’m glad that Tokage’s dad can influence basically anyone. If any reporter dare to harass her, then they’re royally screwed! She’s our safe passage into U.A.!

 

Kendo asks her, “Thanks, Tokage. Can you get us inside?” Tokage hums and nods, getting a bit closer to me. She motions for Kendo to get behind her before we start walking towards the bloodthirsty monsters. Slowly, but surely, we’re about to go into the dragon’s den. Okay… Okay… I just need to say nothing and let Tokage guide me home. Only that… Only that…

 

Tokage giggles, noticing the panic and anxiety making waves throughout my face. She whispers something about me being a mess, which must be payback for what I said during Operation Jack Mantis . Kendo adds on, having a nice little conversation with her. I’m not listening though. I can’t listen. The only thing I hear is my heart pounding like a drum. It’s louder than I remembered… I haven’t gotten this nervous in a long time… 

 

Suddenly, like a predator smelling fresh blood, all the nearby reporters turn their attention to us before going eerily silent once they see Tokage. We go silent too. I hear some of them whispering to one another, asking who I am. A few hidden pictures are taken, getting all three of us into frame. I can imagine the headlines now… “Mysterious new boyfriend?” God, the thought of it makes me have butterflies in my stomach.

 

But, it worked. 

 

The three of us are on the other side of the U.A. Barrier, safe and sound. I let out a deep breath, unlinking my arm from Tokage. My hands go on my knees and frankly, I thought I would die from that! Crap, that was so nerve-wracking! Big groups with the attention on me? I might as well shut down like a computer. Tokage giggles again and spins on her foot. “So, the media will go wild from this juicy gossip! How does it feel being in love with an heiress?”

 

My heart stops pounding, going back to the way I like it. I smile and laugh, putting my arm around my heiress. “I’m honored to have this relationship, my queen.” We stare into each other’s eyes, like starstruck lovers. There will be noth- Kendo clears her throat. She looks one hundred percent unamused. Heh, I almost forgot that she was here for a second. Love can do crazy things to people.

 

“Let’s get to class, you lovebirds. There, you two can be the envy of all the school,” Kendo tells us and leads the way inside. (“She’s jealous,” Tokage comments, but I roll my eyes in response. Still doesn’t get that we’re best friends.) Tokage and I separate, following her inside the building. The white lights blind me for a brief second before my eyes regulate itself back together, the breeze sending chills down my spine. We walk the familiar halls, go by the familiar doors, by 1-A’s door (waving at Ojiro and Midoriya), and we’re inside 1-B!

 

“AHHHHHHHHH!”

 

Yup, Manga screaming is definitely a sign that we’re in the right room. He’s pressed against the wall with Komori having a spider on her hand, smiling innocently. It’s not too big, but big enough to make Manga go ballistic. 

 

“Show some mercy,” Kuroiro pleads with Komori. She shakes her head and edges her hand closer to Manga’s chest, which makes him slide over into a corner. He sees me with his head going, “HELP ME!” (Without a word, Kendo leaves to talk to Kodai, who’s watching the crowd outside the window. Tokage goes over to her true love, leaving me behind. Ah, love is a fickle thing!)

 

“For the love of… Give me that thing,” Kamakiri orders, getting up from his desk and going up to Komori. Immediately, the spider jumps on Kamakiri’s left palm! He’s like an insect-tamer or something! Doing something nice for us though… For Manga. It’s like he doesn’t hate his classmates. (Tokage and Honenuki been chatting about him and Pony. “The perfect couple,” they said.) Speaking of Pony, I don’t see her. Must not be here yet. “I’ll take this little thing outside.”

 

“I’ll come with,” I tell him, putting my bookbag underneath my desk. Kamakiri shoots me an odd look before sighing, knowing that he doesn’t have a choice in it. Manga sighs in relief too before falling to his knees. As Kamakiri and I leave, I put a hand on his shoulder and say, “You lived. Take this victory and cherish it.” Manga gives me a weak thumbs up and decides to nap on the floor. Or faint… Anyway, let’s go with Kamakiri!

 

We head towards the courtyard. Well, I assume we are since I’m following him. Let’s hope that Manga’s okay. Maybe I should text this to Shojo, I’m sure she’ll love it. (I’m never forgetting the three hour long phone call with her… She pried me so much about what happened with my fight with Suzuki that I’d thought she’ll write a book about it. When I asked her, she only said, “You’ll see soon.” I asked Manga, and he said that I don’t want to know. Awase was just as clueless as I am.) 

 

Kamakiri suddenly complains, “Inochi, are ya gonna go on about how I helped Manga? Or are ya keep starin’ off into space?” Oh crap, right! I’m here exactly for that reason! But… I guess that mood got ruined. What do I say now? Either way, Kamakiri will be sarcastic with me, so it doesn’t matter that much.

 

“Heh, sorry about that! But yup, we both know that he would have died if you didn’t help him and this spider. You’re a good man,” I compliment him, putting my arms over my head playfully. He rolls his eyes and looks ahead. Yup, we’re heading towards the courtyard. Kamakiri pushes the door open with one hand, gently putting the spider down. It crawls away into a bush of white flowers. You’re free, little guy. “You saved yet another person today, Kamakiri. There’ll be generations of spiders because of what you did.” 

 

“Can ya knock it off? It’s annoyin’.” Kamakiri adjusts his blazer, turning around. Heh, he won’t even address what I said. He hates being complimented, but Pony and I are his classmates. I’ll make it my mission to say how good he is. “Look, can we act like normal people for o-” 

 

We hear a voice. High, cheerful, all traits matching Pony’s. There’s other voices too. Kamakiri and I step out into an intersection, spotting her. She’s down the hall to our left and… And, there’s three guys surrounding her. I don’t recognize them. If they’re trying to ask Pony out, or thinking of trying anything, then- 

 

“Those bastards,” Kamakiri growls, stomping towards them. Yup, that would happen. They’ll have to deal with an angry mantis. I hurriedly follow him to make sure he doesn’t eviscerate them. I get to hear more of their conversation though.

 

“Come on, why don’t you hang out with us?”

“We’re nice guys. We’ll make sure that you’re well taken care of.”

“Why don’t you show us your cute smile?”

 

...I now know how Kendo feels. Alright, not to sound rude, but I’m not as punch-happy as she is. Come on, Sanji, resist the urge to punch these guys out the window, break their legs, and make them swear that they’ll never bother Pony again. Well, if Kamakiri doesn’t chop them up first. He would kill them if Pony and I weren’t here, and I wouldn’t blame him.

 

“Hey assholes, step off!” Kamakiri yells, getting their attention. Pony smiles brightly once she sees us. The three jerks laugh like they’re the hottest thing of the week. They turn to us, their eyes turning from relaxed to realization. Yeah, they definitely recognized us. After all, I’m probably the only legally Quirkless kid in the school, and Kamakiri’s the son of the Executioner Wasp. What will these hotshots do?

 

(Hmm, upon closer look, all three of them look like average students. I can see one of their IDs too. They’re second-years in the General Department. Black hair, blue hair, and blonde. As far as I can see, they don’t have Mutant-type Quirks. From how bold they are, they think that their Quirks are pretty good, so we oughta be careful. It’s either that, or they have an overblown amount of self-worth.)

 

Blonde steps up (slight limp, left leg) and taunts, “What would a Quirkless guy and a Villain do anyway? So, how about you step off and leave us alone?” Using this as a distraction, Pony squeezes her way through Black and Blue, running over to Kamakiri. We exchange a brief smile before Kamakiri clenches his fists. Calling Kamakiri a ‘Villain’ is one of the worst things a person can say to him...

 

“I’m sorry, is a corpse talkin’ to me? I swore I heard a dead man speakin’,” Kamakiri threatens him with his right arm horizontal at his chest. Crap, he’s itching to get one of his blades out. Pony notices this and tugs on his sleeve. Her and Kamakiri share a look that holds a conversation, without saying a single word.

 

Black gets in front of Blonde, but Blue holds him back. He exclaims, “Dude! If Kamakiri is anything like his dad, he can kill us! And Inochi took on half of 1-D by himself! We’re dead meat if we try to fight them!” Black grunts and pulls his blazer up. He walks away with Blonde and Blue following him. Blonde mutters that we’ll “get what’s coming” before leaving us alone. (How dramatic.) That’s a fight avoided at least.

 

Kamakiri grunts, relaxing his fists. He mutters that he was looking for an excuse to punch these guys’ faces in. Heh, fame and attention did something good for once. From what Blue said, our images in U.A. are changing. People are recognizing that we are more than what we seem. That’s great! This should put a damper on bullying, but this is Japan after all. We have the lowest crime rate in the world, but we’re fifth in bullying and sui… Let’s not think about that. 

 

“You saved me, Kamakiri!” Pony exclaims, going in for a big hug, but Kamakiri pushes his hand against her forehead and holds her back. Heh, I needed to see this today. She has her arms out, struggling for a good two seconds before letting her arms go limp. “Hmph! Inochi, hug him for me!” He looks at me, shaking his head. I’m sorry, Kamakiri, but Pony’s command is absolute.

 

“I’m goin’ back to class, you freaks!” Kamakiri expresses his (extreme) discomfort, going underneath my arms with unrivaled speed. He spins on his feet and quickly walks away from us. (I’m pretty sure his fast walk is just as fast as my jogging speed. I need to ask how he became so fast one of these days.) Pony immediately runs after him on all fours. Kamakiri’s speeding up! Okay, I guess I’m running now!

 

I’m running, and I can no longer see them! They’re completely disappeared! Now I have to remember how to get to class! It’s down the hall, take a right, then a left, and there it should be there with a big sign. For some reason, I’m still running. There’s no teachers around, so I should be good! Just turn the corner and-!!!

 

“Woah!” I exclaim, rolling over Monoma’s back. (Of course I had to literally run into someone today!) Monoma yelps and trips on himself, falling backwards. Just in time, I put my arm around his neck and grasp his hand with my own, barely catching him. “Sorry about that, Monoma! Didn’t mean to run over you!”

 

Monoma laughs in this slightly precarious position. “It’s okay, Inochi! I’m glad that I’ve fallen for you.” Fallen? Heh, too many people in my class are romantics. I laugh with him, pulling him back up.

 

“Very funny. Now, let’s get to class,” I tell him with my arms crossed. He snickers to himself, pulling out his phone and scrolling through something. His face goes through plenty of emotions: Shocked, worried, disappointment, then back to shocked. (Must be catching up on what’s happening outside.)

 

“Inochi, the media caught wind of you and Tokage dating. I thought she preferred something other than men, but then again, you are a special man,” Monoma says, looking up from his phone. I nervously chuckle, scratching the back of my head. Man, Tokage is being really obvious, or Monoma is observant. (I’m going with the former.)

 

“Thanks Monoma, and she does. Tokage and I are pretending to be dating to mess with the news. I’m sure it’ll blow over from a Villain attack or something about All Might,” I inform him. We can hear our classmates talking in the distance. Loudly, if we can hear them from over where we’re at.

 

“I’m sure you’re right. Speaking about Heroes, are you ready for U.S.J. on Thursday? I know you aren’t suited for rescuing,” Monoma reminds me of our lesson with Thirteen. And ugh, I’m not looking forward to it. Out of everyone, I’m the worst student for the job. My katana is not equipped to save people. It kills the Villains, so I can save said people.

 

I sigh, letting my eyes drift to the shiny white floor. “Not at all. That’s one of the reasons why I have a grappling hook, so I can move around easily, but that won’t be enough. Watch, I’ll get the lowest score.”

 

“Don’t act like that!” Monoma encourages me, patting my back. “All Heroes specializes in an area! Like Grandmaster in detective work or Lunch Rush with cooking! You’re practically a master in your specialty already! Be proud of that.” We turn left. Our classmates’ voices get louder as we see our class sign in all of its glory.

 

I nod, agreeing, “Yeah, you’re right. Anyway, let’s see who died this time.” I go in front of Monoma, stepping into the room and… no one died! That’s great! Manga’s awake and at his desk, currently talking to Tetsutetsu and Rin. About anime probably, from how excited Manga looks. Monoma smiles and walks inside, talking with Kaibara.

 

(...Can anyone explain to me why Awase welded Tsuburaba to the ceiling? And why Honenuki and Tokage are putting sticky notes on him?)

 

“Excuse me!” Shoda goes underneath my arm, rushing to his desk and sighing in relief. Heh, I guess he was caught up with the reporters. Someone snaps, getting my attention. I look over and see Kendo at her desk with Kodai. (I left for five minutes and this is what everyone did.)

 

“Congrats,” Kodai simply says, blessing me with a slight smile. Tokage must have told her about our romance. I smile back and sit down at my desk. (Kodai gives me that look of, Don’t ask what happened.

 

“So, Kamakiri almost killed a guy?” Kendo asks me, eyeing Kamakiri and Pony. They’re talking about the “annoying people outside”. (I swear that Tsuburaba is going to fall down at any second!)

 

“Yeah, it was three guys trying to flirt with Pony. We scared them off,” I explain, taking some of my things out for class. From the clock, class is about to start in five minutes, but Mister Kan isn’t here. Must be dealing with the crowd. (There’s so many sticky notes on him! I swear, the weight of it alone will cause him to drop like a rock!)

 

Kendo rolls her eyes. “Jeez, guys can be such perverts. Ojiro told me about Mineta and his ‘pervy antics’. I’m glad he isn’t in our class.” Kodai nods and hums, looking up at Tsuburaba. (He’s hanging in there! Literally, hanging in there! Can someone get him down? Anyone? Yes! Shiozaki’s talking to them! A voice of reason is finally here!)

 

“Mhm! Oh, speaking of perverts, a few girls asked to ‘jump down’ on me the other day. Naturally... I walked away and never looked back,” I recount that awkward story. Kendo makes an audible groan, resting her head on top of her arms. Kodai decides to tap her arm, whispering something. Something that turns Kendo bright red…? Holy crap, she’s really red! What did Kodai whisper to her?!

 

Kendo picks her head up and tries to cover her blush, but it’s pretty hard to cover her entire face. “W-Why in the world would you say that, Yui?! Inochi’s right here! He could have heard it!” She points at poor, confused, and frankly, amused me.

 

“Heard… wha-?”

 

Click clack!

 

“It’s Mister Kan!” Tokage yells, quickly putting herself back together and stands on top of her desk. Honenuki panics and-!!!

 

CRASH!
THUD!

 

 

So… I would be shocked that in a span of a second, Honenuki slipped on his sticky notes, fell on top of Tokage, tipped over a couple of desks, and hit the ground head-first with Tokage, but I given up at this point. Then after that, Tsuburaba fell from the ceiling with bits of it coming off with him, and fell on Awase, who also landed on top of Tokage and Honenuki. So, a pile of dead students covered in sticky notes are… I… Oh God, I don’t know what to do.

 

Mister Kan runs into the room and sees this mess. He has a blank look on his face like he’s contemplating his life. Without a word, Mister Kan goes to the front of the room and quietly waits for the four of them to clean up. After that’s over, he lets out a long sigh, taking a notebook out, and putting a finger on a page. “Okay… I almost forgot, but we need a Vice Class Representative. Kendo, do you want to choose one or let the class vote?”

 

“It’s gotta be Inochi,” Tetsutetsu comments, pounding his chest like a true friend. A few more voices pop up, agreeing with what Tetsutetsu said. It seems like everyone voted already, and it’s unanimous! Kendo, who’s still a little red, nods and hums.

 

Mister Kan smiles. “Good, that’s one thing done. By the way, Inochi and Tokage, why did I see you two in an article?” he asks us. Tokage giggles, relaxing in her chair without a single care that she died earlier.

 

“I’m making the news go nuts. They can’t resist a story about a rich heiress dating a ‘nobody’, no offense, Inochi.” Tokage just called me a ‘nobody’. Even though she said ‘no offense’, I feel mighty offended right now. I thought she loved me, but now I see that she played me like a fiddle. (I have no idea what a fiddle is.)

 

Awase turns around in his seat and laughs. “Inochi’s pouting!” My cheeks get a bit warmer as everyone draws their eyes on me. Hmph, I would be hiding my face right now if I wasn’t so offended. I’ll let Tokage remember my look, so it’ll haunt her mind for the rest of her days. 

 

Click!

 

What the?! I yell at Tokage, “Why did you take a picture?!” She giggles, spinning her phone on one finger and shrugging.

 

“Blackmail. Sweet, sweet blackmail,” she says, but it doesn’t make any sense! How can she use that for blackmail?!

 

(Mister Kan mutters, “I don’t get paid enough for this.”)


***

 

 

CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP!

 

 

“You okay there, Tetsutetsu?” Manga asks Tetsutetsu, who currently eating a whole steak like a wolf. I mean, he’s holding it firmly in his hands and going to town with it. Tsuburaba swipes a piece of it off of his cheek. Awase isn’t touching his food at all. Tetsutetsu’s saliva got all over it. I’m so glad that he’s the furthest one away from me.

 

Tetsutetsu gulps down his last piece of steak and downs it with a protein shake. He pats his chest and burps loudly, chuckling. “Sorry ‘bout that! Hey Awase, are you gonna eat that?” (I think he forgot Manga’s question.) Awase silently slides his plate over to Tetsutetsu. “Thanks man! You’re the best!”

 

And he starts to devour Awase’s lunch. I’d ask him why he’s so hungry, but I don’t want to know. It’s best to leave him be-?!

 

Splash!

 

...Someone spilled their juice all over me… It’s strawberry mango. I didn’t know that Lunch Rush served it here. They didn’t serve that in my middle school, in Musutafu, but they did serve it in… Kibo. Today of all days… I sigh, not turning around to face him. “It’s nice to see you again, Suzuki.” Everyone at the table (Manga, Tsuburaba, Awase, and Tetsutetsu) immediately stops what they’re doing and glare holes in him.

 

Suzuki chuckles. It’s not his charming one, well it is, but with a mix of slyness and hostile intent. “You too, Inochi. Congrats on your relationship with the heiress. It’s straight out of a romance novel, isn’t it? A rich woman born from a Quirk Marriage falls in love with a Quirkless man.” (Tokage is a result of a Quirk Marriage?!) 

 

Tetsutetsu stands up, slamming his fist on the table. “What’s your point? Don’t make me break your face in.” The rest of my friends stand up too. Crap, they’re preparing for a fight, aren’t they? I can’t let this go south!

 

I turn around, looking up at Suzuki. There’s a cocked smirk with a shiny fang showing, gleaming like he’s about to come down at my neck. “My point is: Enjoy your life while you still have it, Inochi-”

 

“Are you threatening him, asshole?!” Awase interrupts him, on the brink of yelling. The students near our table take notice and move back. Tetsutetsu takes a step closer, but Tsuburaba holds him back. I stand up too, getting face-to-face with Suzuki. My back feels really cold, so does my arms, but I don’t really mind. It’s the type of cold that reminds you that you’re still alive.

 

(Suzuki doesn’t have a tail out.)

 

He taunts me, ignoring Awase, “You have upstanding friends, Inochi. Look at you, becoming a perfect man that no one can hate. No flaws, no shortcomings, nothing. Your friends praise you, worship you like a Quirkless messiah.” Suzuki puts his tray down and takes me by the collar. I had time to react, but I didn’t feel like moving.

 

My… My friends, they were about to charge in, but I put my palm out. They stop, shooting me worried looks. With my eyes, I tell them that I’ll be fine. He wouldn’t hurt me here. Suzuki laughs and whispers in my ear, “Underneath that perfect shell of yours, is a hollow man.”

 

“Hey, why don’t you let him go, huh?!” Kirishima, from 1-A, comes into the scene. Suzuki lets go and turns around. His posture shifts slightly, recognizing Kirishima. He probably remembered that 1-A defeated him in his Nine Tails Form. Without another word, Suzuki leaves with his tray.

 

Behind Kirishima is Bakugo, who’s watching us from a distance. He mutters loud enough, “Shittier version of Deku…” Deku? Oh, Midoriya. I’m pretty sure he isn’t Quirkless. But, thanks for the compliment, Bakugo. If I’m a lesser version of him, then I’m still pretty dang strong.

 

I hear Kirishima checking up on me, but I don’t know exactly what he said. Simply, I nod my head give him a basic answer. It’s good enough that he leaves. (I need to thank him fully, later.) Manga gives me a towel to dry myself off. We sit back down, the tension cooling slightly. We… Well, they talk about how much of a jerk Suzuki is. From Tsuburaba, he’s being trained by Hound Dog to control his anger and his Quirk. That’s good… I don’t expect him to turn around within a week though. It’ll take a lot of time for Suzuki to change.

 

RIIIIIIING!!!

 

“SECURITY BREACH! STUDENTS! PLEASE EVACUATE THE BUILDING IN AN ORDERLY FASHION!” 

 

What the?! I thought this school doesn’t get those! How the heck did someone get in with all of these Pro Heroes?! My day is getting really bad now! 

 

Like a mob, all of the students rush towards the nearest exit, screaming and yelling. I didn’t hear what my friends had to say before the students practically runs over us. I didn’t have time to react. My body is pushed along with everyone else, but I feel a hand on my wrist and someone yelling my name. I close my eyes and let my savior pull me. Through bodies and tables, they seem endless, I feel the freedom of open space and the sound of our sole footsteps. My eyes slowly open and see Tetsutetsu there. We’re out of the cafeteria and in a random hallway. It’s the second-year wing.

 

“Thanks, Tetsutetsu,” I say, smiling and looking around. Bad news: I am completely lost. The only place I can navigate is the first-year wing. However, if the design planners aren’t sadists, the wing layout should be similar. Knowing U.A. though, it’ll be even more confusing for no apparent reason. “So, where do we go?”

 

Tetsutetsu shrugs and looks around. “Hell if I know. Think we get lucky enough to run into an actual Villain? That’s what happened right? A Villain got in?” We start to walk in a random direction, hoping we’ll find an exit.

 

“Maybe, but I hope not,” I confess, which makes Tetsutetsu frown a little, “we’re not trained to fight an actual Villain. That, and it’s illegal to use our Quirks outside of school.” (Then again, that law doesn’t apply to me. I could fight and worry only about an assault charge, not reckless use of a Quirk.)

 

He sighs and looks at his fist. “I know man, I know, but that law is stupid! Don’t you have an itch to beat a Villain’s face in?” ...I don’t, but I’m glad that Tetsutetsu is saving his enthusiasm for that, even though it’s kinda violent. Aw, who am I kidding? Bakugo’s in this school. He’s the most violent on here.

 

(I think we’re coming up on the first-year wing.)

 

“Not really. You should save that energy for U.S.J. and Thirteen,” I advise him, but Tetsutetsu shakes his head and slams his knuckles together. Well, that advice fell on deaf ears. (We’re in the teachers’ hallway actually. It’s close to the first-year wing, so we’re getting there.)

 

He shouts (for no reason), “Nah, man! I need to punch something! All this talk about Villains and Hero stuff makes me wanna fight! You know what I mean?!” Hmm, how can unleash Tetsutetsu’s energy? If I don’t, then he could hurt himself and possibly others. Maybe I could take him to the Dojo and play it by ear. Yeah, that seems like a good idea. Master Kendo wouldn’t mind. 

 

“Tetsu-?” Where did he go? He was right in front of me! I turned my head for a brief second, turned back, and he’s gone! Aw crap, now I have to find a lost Tetsutetsu. If I know him, he’ll be shouting or stomping through the halls. 

 

Plan A: I look back and forth and nope. Tetsutetsu isn’t there. Plan B: I walk in the direction of my class. I don’t hear any footsteps or voices. It’s eerily quiet. The teachers aren’t here for some reason. I’d thought at least one would stay behin-

 

A flash of grey hair appears out of the corner of my eye. It’s through the window… inside the teacher’s lounge... What is Tetsutetsu doing in there, sneaking around like that? “Tetsutetsu? Why are you in there? You’ll get in trouble.” I take a step closer to the door and-

 

Flush!

 

“Sorry ‘bout that! Had to wash my hands!” Tetsutetsu appears from the corner, wiping his wet hands on his grey blazer. He… isn’t in the teacher’s lounge? Then, who the heck is in there?! I peer through the window, but I don’t see any flicker of grey hair. Ugh, I must be imagining things. That strawberry mango juice did something to me, I swear. “You okay, Inochi?”

 

“Yeah, yeah.I thought I saw something… Anyway, back to what I was saying. Why don’t you come to the Dojo with me? You’ll get a fight,” I offer him. He… He looks at me for a second or two with blank eyes. What-? Oh, a tear is running down his cheek. Did I do something? Why is he cryin-?!

 

Tetsutetsu pulls me into a bear hug, shoving his face in my chest. “Thank you, Inochi! I’ll give you the best spar ever!” I… I can’t breathe… Can’t move my body… He gotten a lot… stronger than before...

 

I manage to say, “C-Can’t… breathe…” Tetsutetsu lets go of me, and I can breathe again. He gives me an apologetic look accompanied with an innocent smile. “Heh, how about we invite the others? They need the training too.” He hums-

 

RIIIIIIING!!!

 

“ALL STUDENTS MAY RETURN TO CLASS AT THIS TIME!”

 

Well, luckily for us, we’re already near our class. Tetsutetsu and I walk back to class, talking about what we’ll do at the Dojo. He seems pretty excited. I’m not sure if he’s looking forward to fighting or Master Kendo, maybe even both! Heh, he’s a pretty straightforward guy though. It has its upsides, and most definitely has its downsides.

 

We’re the first two. The door’s unlocked, so we let ourselves inside. One by one, our classmates come back from wherever they were, talking about what happened. There’s a rumor going around that the U.A. Barrier is completely disintegrated, but that can’t be possible. It’s the toughest wall in the world. Only a specialized Quirk could destroy it, and it happened to be in the hands of a Villain.

 

Nevertheless though, the rest of the day goes on.

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Ken do

“Welcome to my humble abode! Make yourselves at home!” Tokage leads us through her house, and into a large study. Jeez, these bookshelves are really tall! I get that Tokage is rich, but did she really need something that’s ten times as tall as her? I mean, there’s mini-elevators in this place! It’s ridiculous, even for Tokage. 

 

Well, the red carpet here feels soft even with shoes on. They sink right in. What else about this room? There’s tables. They aren’t large, but not small either. It’s modest, for a rich person at least. In the middle of each table is a vase of flowers, books, and a tray of treats of all kinds. Most of these are foreign.

 

When Tokage asked if she wanted a study session with us, this isn’t what I had in mind. The atmosphere is cozy though, despite the size of the room. Heh, to think that Inochi is fighting all of the boys back at the Dojo. “I’ll fight them blindfolded. It’ll be a good training exercise.” Right now, I’m expecting a video of him either winning spectacularly or losing horribly. I’m betting on the latter, considering that there’s too many weapons, too many people, and Tetsutetsu-

 

“Everything’s so big!”

 

Thud!

 

“Komori has fallen,” Yanagi tells us, not sounded worried about our poor mushroom girl! ! I rush over to Komori with stars practically spinning around her head. I can barely see her eyes… They’re spinning around too! Ugh, the size of the room made her dizzy…

 

“Yeah, getting dizzy happens sometimes,” Tokage comments behind me. I gently lift Komori and lay her down on… this red velvet couch! I let her down slowly- She’s snoring. Well, this couch is way softer than my bed. It’s probably best to let her nap. Today is a crazy day due to the reporters and the false (supposedly) security breach.

 

“Hey Tokage, can I have some of those candies? Please please?” Pony asks, staring at a tray of candy with drool coming out of her mouth. Tokage nods, tossing one to her. It’s wrapped in foil. Both of the ends are silver while the center piece, the sphere, is purple with a gold oval. There’s western letters in the middle that spells out a brand. “Thank you thank you!” Pony excitedly says in English, unwrapping and eating it whole.

 

Shiozaki walks up to Tokage with elegance. Her every step is smooth and thoughtful. The way she moves is like a calm river or a gentle wind, flowing to one place or another. Tokage, being herself, can’t tear her eyes away. “You have a wonderful home, Tokage. I’m sure this room has books or knowledge that most don’t even know it exists.” 

 

“...Yeah,” Tokage meekly says, getting red. And with that, she’s in a trance. I clear my throat, loud enough so they can hear me. “Huh? Oh right! We’re here for a reason, aren’t we? I… I… Uhm…” Pfft, Tokage forgot, didn’t she? A little walk can turn this prodigy into a still statue.

 

I try to stifle a laugh, but it comes out. Tokage shrinks her head a little from shame and embarrassment. “We’re here to study for our Hero History test, right Tokage? Don’t you have a textbook about it, somewhere in here?”

 

“When is it? Thursday?” Yui quietly asks, taking a piece of chocolate from a tray. From my backpack, I pull out my agenda and turn it to the test... It’s on Friday, not Thursday. I show it to Yui and she nods, eating her chocolate. Heh, her eyes are slightly larger. She must be enjoying it. 

 

Eventually, all of us sit down (including Komori, who woke up from Yanagi) at a table and go over our notes.

 

I need to remind myself of what we learned. There’s three different eras. Vigilantes, the beginning. It was chaos when Quirks came about. Vigilantes became the norm for a long time, until the Rhode Island New State Statue. Pro Heroes were officially created with this law. As a result, vigilantism became illegal and a punishable offense. 

 

After that is the United Hero Nations, or UHM. After the success in America, the United Nations proposed to add “Hero” to their name, copying what happened in America throughout all of its members/nations. It was mostly successful. Mostly. Some Middle-Eastern countries, and a few others not in the Middle East, rejected this notion. They decided to create their own system, where “Pro Heroes” protected the government. By “protected”, they became a brutal secret police. Obviously, this led to war in the Middle East. It’s how the Order of Assassins were recreated. They ended the war by killing everyone important and letting who they deemed fit to govern the war-torn countries.

 

Lastly, it’s the era that we are in. It’s simply referred to as: Pax Heros, or Hero Peace. After the wars (there were multiple wars, not just in the Middle East), the chaos died down. The rise of strong Quirks with strong Pro Heroes became more plentiful. The scholars agree that the start of All Might is the beginning of Pax Heros.

 

There’s a lot more to these eras though, and I can barely recall them. Oh jeez, I feel bad for the boys. Most of them won’t do so hot if I’m struggling.

 

Anyway, I need to remember the key figures and key Pro Heroes. So far, I can only remember three names. All Might, Hassan-i Sabbah, the world’s second most dangerous Villain (Grandpa fought one of the Zabaniyas), and Sieg Spielmann, the current Secretary-General of the UHM. That’s three out of… a good twenty or so.

 

So, for a good couple of hours, all of us go over our notes. We ask each other questions, answer them if we know it, or research it if none of us don’t have a clue. Admittedly, it’s a lot to go over, especially in such a short amount of time, but this is U.A.! Besides, I can handle this! This is nothing!

 

“Destro, Chikara Yotsubashi, what was the name of his organization?” Yanagi asks us. Pony stands on top of her chair with an answer. (Thank goodness Yanagi asked that. I forgot the name too.)

 

Pony exclaims, “Meta Freedom Nation!” I don’t think that’s the right answer, Pony… I swear though, it’s on the tip of my tongue. The answer is in the right direction though, but which synonyms are the right ones?

 

“It’s Meta Liberation Army. Destro published the Meta Liberation War, which he stated that he wants free use of Quirks instead of the government restricting them. He had conclaves of MLA in America, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and a whole lot of more places,” Tokage educates us. Great, that’s a couple of names down! (“Close enough!” Pony sits back down, munching another piece of chocolate.)

 

“Where did the first Quirk show up again? I know it’s in China.” It’s Komori’s turn for a question. Luckily for me, I know this one!

 

“Qingqing. It’s the Luminescent Baby. There’s a statue of the cute little guy in the city. I think, at night, it lights up in honor of the first Quirk,” I explain, quickly flipping back to the beginning of the unit. Yup, I’m right! Go me! 

 

Shiozaki raises her hand. “David Shield is the first one who invented a way of measuring Quirk levels, correct? He’s also a close friend of All Might if I believe.” We all hum in agreement. David Shield is one of the biggest support scientists in I-Island, which was founded by all sorts of companies. One of them being: Tokage Industries. 

 

“Mhm! David is a pretty cool guy. His daughter, Melissa, is just like him,” Tokage says. It’s not shocking that she knows them personally. In fact, I’d be surprised if she doesn’t know them personally. Rich girls like her have a big influence in the world… It’s weird though, she went to a public middle school and seems so humble. There must be someone who influenced her. “Anyway, I think we should take a break.”


Tokage slams her notebook close and gets up from her chair, stretching her limbs out. Never mind, she’s splitting her body up and stretching them that way. I’m not sure how that would be better, but knowing her, she’s doing it because Komori and Pony are hiding in their chairs. For the love of everything that’s good… I berate, “Tokage, can you stop fooling around and be serious?”

She puts herself back together and pouts. “I’m serious about my fooling around!” ...Really? “Don’t give me that look, Kendo! Come on, let’s take a break and talk like normal girls!” Whatever look I had on my face disappears. We might as well take a break. We’ve been studying for hours now.

 

Yanagi nods and stretches her wrists. “What might you believe the men are doing? From the knowledge of how chaotic and rumbustious they are, do you propose that they are deceased?”

 

Uhm…

 

~~~

Sanji Inochi with the Boys

“MANGA, PUT THE SWORD DOWN!”

“HE CAN’T HEAR US, HE HAS HEADPHONES IN!”


“WE’RE LITERALLY SCREAMING, HOW CAN’T HE HEAR US?!”


“GOD DAMN IT, WE’RE GONNA FUCKIN’ DIE!”

“I’M GOING IN!”


“TETSUTETSU, NO!”

 

(“Mom, can you pick me up?”)

 

~~~

 

“I’m sure they’re fine,” I assure her. Inochi’s there after all. He’s a responsible man! Surely, he can handle a room full of boys, fighting each other. If there’s any serious problems, he would have texted or called me by now. Besides, he’s the Vice President of 1-B as of today. The class (and technically me, as well) chose him for a reason.

 

“I hope so… There’s a lot more boys than there are girls,” Komori comments, pressing her index finger tips together. “I don’t know Inochi that well, but he seems really capable of handling them, despite being Quirkless and everything.” (Ugh, it reminds me with Inochi’s encounter with Suzuki earlier. He had to stop me from going over to 1-D. When will Suzuki grow up and move on already?)

 

Shiozaki adds, “He’s a good man. His body is strong and has a pure heart. I do believe that he’s a bit naive, considering he didn’t choose to expel Suzuki.” Naive? Well, I wouldn’t say that. He’s pretty mature, even though he’s a goofy man. Since he’s a foster child, he probably dealt with a lot of stuff. I can only imagine though, since Inochi never told me anything about his past.

 

Pony huffs, crossing her arms. “Suzuki is a big jerk! If I ever see him again, Kamakiri will have to stop me from ramming his chest in!” Hehe, at least she shares the same feeling. To be honest, Kamakiri wouldn’t stop her. Instead, he would join in on beating Suzuki to a pulp. Everyone would, all except for Inochi.

 

Tokage laughs and kicks her feet up. “Back to Inochi… Kendo, got anything to say about him? Come on, you know him the most, what do ya got?” Everyone’s eyes are on me now. Damn it, Tokage, she really had to put me in this situation. From what’s already been said covers most of his character… except…

 

“Fine… You guys talk about how great Inochi is, don’t get me wrong, he’s one of the best guys I know, but he’s reckless. I think you know that he barely gets any sleep, one or two hours a night. After that, he trains and exercises like his life depends on it. Every morning, I see him coming through the door sweaty and wincing under any little touch…” I close my eyes and sigh, remembering the past five or six months together. Inochi grew so much, gotten stronger, came out of his shell, but he’s still doing this.


Yui nods, backing me up. Yanagi speaks up, “You are worried about him, are you not? From the tone of your voice and the facial expression, it conveys much worry and concern.” Yeah, yeah, she’s right…

 

I open my eyes, staring at nothing in particular. “More than you know. With him, it’s like day and night. So cheerful and goofy at school, around the house… But, at night, he’s determined and narrow-minded…” My eyes drift around the table. Everyone doesn’t look too happy… Jeez, I really brought the mood down, huh? “Anyway, we shouldn’t gossip more about Inochi. What else do you guys wanna talk about?”

 

With that, we have a nice conversation about a lot of things, like the current Pro Heroes and stuff going on in other countries. Throughout it though, I couldn’t help but feel that something bad will happen. It’s probably about my test though. It’s nothing to worry about it.

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

“Hyah!”



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.”



Thud!

 

“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-”



DRRRRRRR!



What was th-?! 

 

CRASH!

 

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.”

 

“Inoc-”



“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.”

 

“...True.”

 

“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.

 

“YES?”



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. 

 

“Yes, anyone 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-”



RIIIIIIIIING!

 

“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?”

 

He-?!

 

GHRK!

 

“Inochi!” 

“Dad?!”

 

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-!”

Chapter Text

Setsuna Tokage

“How are we supposed to save them?”
“Let’s throw them off the roof!”

“Guys… we’re on the gro-”
“No! We should gently drop them from the roof.”
“We’re still on th-”
“What’s the damn difference?!”
“It’s like an egg! If you chuck an egg, it’ll crack. If you gently drop it, it won’t.”

“They’ll crack either way, Tsuburaba.”

“Are you an egg expert, Rin?!”

“I’m a common sense expert.”



Kendo is completely aghast from this super stupid conversation. She bellows out a loud groan like a dragon, turning her eyes towards me in disgust of our “smart” classmates. She begs me, practically on her knees (I wish she actually was), “Tokage, got any ideas? Half the class is up there, and I don’t want to sound rude, but it’s mainly the smart people.” (Ah, look at her being a bit arrogant! It’s adorable!)

 

I bat my hand playfully, like the progedic genius I am, “Psh, I already know what to do! Shiozaki can make a net outta her hair. She can dig it into the ground or something along those lines, because hair is surprisingly strong, even more so if said hair doubles as a Quirk Factor. Not to mention it feels like the finest silk...” I let out a dreamy sigh, putting my hands on my cheeks.

 

Hearing her sweet name, Shiozaki walks over in her white robe. It’s flowy, leaving her shoulders bare. She’s a Catholic girl, so I’m surprised she’s willing to show that much skin. Not that I mind, hehe. Especially since the top of her breasts are showing just slightly. My favorite part of her costume is those boots. Not only it’s badass, it’s freaking beautiful! It’s in direct contrast with mine, being a skintight suit. My curvy body is visible to the world! (Too bad only men oogles me. Hopefully I can find a girl like me, but Shiozaki still has my heart in the meantime.)

 

“You spoke of me?” she asks with a voice that’s absolute honey. Kendo gives me her usual tomboyish eyeroll, annoyed by my crush. Hmph, she won’t be singing the same tune once she admits her own crush. Anyway! We look at the pure goddess herself!

 

“Yup. We’re saving Inochi and the others by your hair. Can you make a large net in front of the building?” Kendo asks her, going along with my plan. Also, I love the fact that she said “Inochi and the others”. That goes to show who she value the most! Then again, we known him for much longer than the rest of our class. 

 

Shiozaki nods, and she was about to walk up if it wasn’t for the others. They butt into the conversation completely sick of each other. Shoda’s in the back, feeling ignored. Poor guy. He’s surrounded by guys who argued about eggs for no damn reason.

 

“What’s going on here?”
“Do you guys have a different plan?”
“Please, all of their plans are stupid.”

 

They ask us, putting their full trust in our plan. Good, we might actually pass this test. I explain, gesturing to Shiozaki’s soft, verdant hair, “Don’t worry your scaly self, Rin! Shiozaki is creating a net, so everyone up top can fall down safely. All you need to do is deliver the victims to the rescue point with All Might and Thirteen.”

“Alright,” Rin says, looking at the others, “you heard what she said. For the love of everything good, don’t do anything else. I’m mainly looking at you, Awase.”

 

“Seriously man?!” Awase shouts, pulling his collar below his mouth. “What about Tsuburaba? He’s the reason we’re having an argument about fricken eggs! Look, he’s not just stupid, he’s plus ultra stupid!” 

 

Tsuburaba gets nice and close to Awase, yelling, “Hey! This is coming from the guy who wore his pants backwards in eighth grade! If anything, you’re just as much of an idiot as me!” No wonder these two are best friends. It’s the idiot effect: Idiots attract other idiots, and they become quick friends from their mutual stupidity. 


Kendo goes to say something, but I, being the competitive girl I am, speak first, “Why don’t you two kiss and make up already?” Annnnd the crowd goes silent. I can hear Kendo’s silent whine waiting to burst out of her. The only noise here is Shiozaki sighing. Sorry, but I had to say it.

 

“...Let’s be Heroes!” Awase answers and runs off to the building after God knows how long. At least it snapped him outta it. Everyone else decides to get their act together and follow him. We let Shiozaki go in front, clearing the space for the net. She puts her hands together and let her hair dig into the ground. After two seconds flat, it erupts from the ground on two ends. One on one end of the building, and one on the other, stretching thirty meters and a half. It connects together five meters off the ground, ten meters wide, creating a perfect safety net. Attagirl!

 

Kendo gestures everyone to surround it, telling them to be ready for them to fall. She yells to the victims, “ALRIGHT! YOU NEED TO JUMP DOWN! DON’T BE SCARED!” From the roof, a few heads poke out. One of them being Inochi. He looks back at the others, and presumably tells them to jump. Being a leader by example, he’s the first one down. (“I CAN’T DO THIS!” That’s  Manga.) Inochi falls four stories, back towards the net, arms crossed diagonally, holding onto his shoulders. And with that, he’s safe!



“This is like a bed…” Inochi comments, relaxing himself on the soft heaven before a couple of angels (named Rin and Awase) carry him away to the rescue point. The next person down is the sesquipedalianist Yanagi, then the silent beauty, who I carry along with Kendo. Next is the dark one whose name cannot be uttered by any mortal man. By muttering his name, the whole world could be in grave peril! 


And after that is my pure and innocent daughter, Pony! Her (soon-to-be) angsty and moody boyfriend, Kamakiri, follows after. The calm, ikeman drops down from the skies. Of course, the scheming and conniving, self-proclaimed Phantom Thief, falls after him. The scared, terrified, nerdy Manga crashes down like a rock! He survives! Well, his body did. Not sure about his mind. (Man, Kendo is bragging by carrying him and Monoma all by herself!)

Now, it’s time for the two, who could break the net. The skeleton man does a swan dive into a roll, stretching the net to its limits. (Why the hell would Honenuki do that?!) It takes three guys to carry him because of his metal armor. The beast, that is not out to destroy the world nor aim to bring sin, does a simple fall like Inochi. Luckily, the net holds together! Jurota gets carried, like a king, to the rescue point. That’s all the victims!

 

The rest of us gather around Thirteen and All Might. There’s no Villains or Shigaraki here to kill us, unfortunately. I wanted to show those Villains what Setsuna Tokage is made of, but that won’t be happening any time soon. And to be honest, Dad would sue the school to kingdom come if I died. Anyhow, All Might and Thirteen!

 

Thirteen tells us the results, “The rescuers mostly did well, aside from Tsuburaba, Awase, Rin, and Tetsutetsu. All of you must realize that you are meant to help and assist others, rather than arguing about silly things! For that, you must take a grade reduction. As for you, Tokage, your plan and knowledge of your classmates’ Quirks are flawless. It would have been perfect if all of the rescuers acted quickly and swiftly.”

 

All Might nods, putting his clenched fists on his hips. He turns towards the four boys, who look disappointed in themselves. “Do not be so distraught, young men! This is only your first two months in U.A., after all! You’ll be whipped up into proper Heroes in no time!” The boys nod in unison, saying that they will.

 

He turns to the whole class with his superhero smile. Thirteen presses a red button on their suit. All around the Ruins Zone comes inflatable dummies of all shapes and sizes. Children, women, men, even cats and dogs! Pigs too! (So cute!) There’s a red button on their backs that says, “SAVE!!!” 

 

All Might explains, “This is your next exercise! One hundred dummies are situated all over the Ruins Zone. You have five minutes to save at least eighty dummies. You can save them by pressing that little red button on their backs. It sounds easy, correct? However…”

 

STOMP STOMP!

 

A legion of robots, the same ones from the Entrance Exams, are lifted up onto the streets from an underground elevator. In the Central Plaza though… There’s three massive zero-points there. I can’t believe they manage to fit in U.S.J., but I guess we’re dealing with them now. This should be easy though! Thanks to Dad, I managed to catch a glimpse of its design. I know where the off button is. It’s in the center of its back, small, and it’s disguised as one of its bolts. Pretty tough to find it.

 

Everyone else though, is utterly terrified. Even my poor little Kodai! 

 

“How the heck can we beat that thing?!”

“It’s game over man!”

“This is totally not a job for mushrooms!”
“This appears to be a challenging lesson. Not only we must rescue eighty training dummies, we must combat robots akin to those fought in the Entrance Exams in a short amount of time.”

 

All Might laughs at their fear, which isn’t the best move for a teacher. Seriously, who laughs at their students? “Young ones! These robots are bloodthirsty! They will deflate any hostages in sight. So! You must decide who would be rescuing, and who would be defending against these ravenous creatures! We shall start in two minutes!” 

 

Him and Thirteen leave the zone, going to a safe space to observe us. Kendo gathers everyone around in a circle and starts giving us numbers. We’re either one or two. I happen to be two. It must be our roles: The fighters and rescuers. Knowing my Quirk, I’m more suited to be a rescuer since it’s not suited for combat.

 

Ones: Awase, Kaibara, Kamakiri, Kendo herself, Shiozaki, Jurota, Tetsutetsu, Manga, Honenuki, Rin, and Inochi

Twos: Kuroiro, Komori, Kodai, Shoda, Pony, Tsuburaba, Bondo, Monoma, Yanagi, and myself

 

Kendo orders, “Number ones are the fighters! All of you must focus on taking down these robots, and don’t be afraid to save some dummies along the way. Number twos are rescuers! Your job is getting the dummies inside buildings and on roofs! If there’s a robot in your way, try your best to destroy it!”

 

She looks at the three zero-pointers and sighs. “Kamakiri, Inochi, Shiozaki, and Manga! You four will focus on those three! Lure them out into an open area and take it down! Do not let it fall on the dummies! You guys got that?!”

(“Why do I have to fight that thing?!” Manga whines, but no one is listening to nerdy little him.)

 

“Wait!” I raise my hand, getting her attention. “Those zero-pointers have a weakness! I saw the designs myself! There’s a button on the center of its back! It’s small and it’s disguised as one of its bolts! It’ll be hard to look for it, though!”

 

“I’ll try to press it if I can, but no promises,” Inochi tells me while he’s unloading a magazine of five bolts from his crossbow. He’s loading his red-tipped explosive ones in. Man, I would love to watch him take those gigantic machines down. Heh, he never stops impressing me with his level of skill. U.A. is filled with students that are amazing with their Quirks, but he’s the best at pushing his human body to its limits.

 

“I’d rather chop those cranky bastards up, Lizard Head. It’s easier, and it ain’t gonna waste time,” Kamakiri gives me his opinion (and a flattering nickname too). Shiozaki glares at him for his colorful use of the Japanese language.

 

“That settles it,” Shiozaki says, gesturing for Manga to come close, “Manga, you shall attack those soulless creatures from afar. I shall restrain them for Inochi and Kamakiri.” Kendo nods at the four, going back to the rest of us. 

 

“I-”

 

RING RING RING!

 

“Never mind! Let’s go, 1-B!” Kendo enlarges her fists and charges into the impending army of murderous robots. The rest of the ones follow the pack, except for the four who’re focusing on taking down the big guys. Alright! Gotta do my job!

 

Let’s look on the rooftops! At first glance, there’s ten dummies! Three children, two men, three women, two pets. They’re separated on eight stable rooftops, four on each side of the road. The two sides are fifteen meters apart, well within the range for my Quirk. That’s the game plan, Setsuna! Time to be a Hero!

 

I jump up and twist my body in the air. It splits into twenty parts. My left eye pairs up with my left hand and foot, same thing for my right! We levitate in the air, letting the whole world be revealed to us! Well, just the Ruins Zone. There’s a brigade of scorpion-like robots running down the street. Jurota goes berserk and nearly takes all of them out in one charge. That’s my beastly brother!

 

I fly my two halves to both sides of the street. It’s pretty easy, to be honest. Hitting some red buttons, the dummies are illuminated by a green LED inside them, more red buttons, it’s repetitive already. Within fifty-five seconds, I saved ten civilians all by myself. There’s no robots that can get up here, unless they can take the stairs. Anyway, we got three minutes and fifty seconds left. I should-!!!

 

CRASH!

 

That’s the beautiful sound of a zero-pointer going down. Now, to the right of me, there’s seven more dummies on more rooftops, but that’s closer to the two remaining zero-pointers. If Inochi and the others do their job, they won’t focus on me. If not, I can always turn them off or my friends can protect me. (Maybe I should fall on purpose so Shiozaki can catch me.) And besides, I don’t think anyone can have this level of accessibility as I do, maybe except for Pony.

 

Three minutes and thirty seconds left. Flying through the air, I go and tap these seven dummies. One of them is a pig. Every life matters, even cute little piggies. Unfortunately for me though, there’s no more rooftop dummies. I reform myself on a random roof, looking over a ledge. Below me is… nothing? Huh, there should be a dummy or a robot, but there’s nothing. Perhaps Thirteen and All Might purposely made blank areas where the zero-pointers can be defeat-?! Oh… one of them is coming.

 

“AHHHHHHH!!! IT’S CHASING ME!!! IT’S CHASING MEEEEEE!!! INOCHIIIIIIII!!!”

 

STOMP STOMP STOMP!

 

 

Manga’s fine.

 

“I’M COMING! JUST KEEP RUNNING, MANGA!” Inochi shouts from down the street. He’s jumping from rooftop to rooftop with his katana drawn. I give him a thumbs up, but he probably won’t see me. He’s too busy with saving Manga’s ass from this big thing. I got nothing else to do, so I might as well watch this.

 

Manga and his friend pass my building. I think I saw him looking up at me for a brief moment, but I’m mainly focusing on how small I am compared to this gigantic machine. It’s like an ant to a human! Manga screams, “TOKAGE!!! CAN YOU PLEASE DO SOMETHING!” Yup, he noticed me.

 

I yell back, “INOCHI GOT THIS! JUST KEEP RUNNING, MANGA!” He lets out an ungodly shriek, shaking his head in terror as he sprints away. Inochi manages to catch up with these two.

“I HATE YOU!” Man, Manga will run out of breath if he keeps yelling like that. It’s not good for his throat and lungs. Inochi gets to work though, using his grappling hook to latch onto the back of the robot’s neck and propelling himself forward. Then, the hook releases itself from the iron flesh after a second or two in the air… Oh! Smart man! He’s using the momentum of the pull to aid his attack!

 

“TAKE COVER!” Inochi warns Manga right before he starts spinning around in the air, becoming a spinning blade of death. All I see of him is a circular blur of black and white, flying towards the zero-pointer’s head. From below, Manga jumps into a building a few doors down to my left. Let’s hope he didn’t jump through a glass window, because doing that sucks .

 

RIIIP!

Inochi, being a badass, shaves off half the zero-pointer’s head clean off, going through it with his katana guiding him. (I can’t believe that sword is sharp enough!) When he comes out the other side, he twists in the air and aims his grappling hook to a nearby rooftop, firing it. He gets yanked towards it with breakneck speeds. Luckily, he rolls once he reaches the roof, softening his fall a little.

 

The zero-pointer comes to a sudden halt. Its red eyes start to dimmer before going black, its electrical life leaving it. It slowly falls forward, and it occurred to me that I should take cover. I hide behind a ledge before it-!

 

CRAAAASH!

 

Before that happens. All I see is dust and debris flying everywhere, but that’s two big guys down! When everything settles, I split into ten pieces of myself and float down to where Manga’s at. I put myself back together and quietly step through the open doorway. Manga’s on the floor, breathing like his life depends on it. Probably does from how out of shape he is. I walk over and gently kick him in the hip. “Hey Manga, the floor isn’t a good place to die on.”

 

“Haah…. Haah… I hate you...” Manga sounds like death. No, death’s grandma who was a long-time smoker. That’s exactly what he sounds like. I kick him a bit harder. He doesn’t react at all. Inochi, being a slowpoke, finally walks through the door. (Huh, has he always been wearing his hood and mask?)

 

“I’m proud of you, Manga,” Inochi praises him in a soft voice. He lifts him up and throws him over his shoulder. Manga lets out one last groan before his body goes limp. Rest in peace, my friend. “Tokage, we still have one more zero-pointer. Kamakiri and Shiozaki are fighting it by themselves. Help them out while I take care of Manga.”

 

“Roger that, samurai! See you later!” I salute before running out, splitting myself up again. Let’s see, I think we have two minutes and ten seconds left. I fly up in the air, and I immediately see the last zero-pointer. Let’s hurry up and get there! Shiozaki and Kamakiri are fighting it on a large open street with no dummies. Its legs are currently restrained by Shiozaki’s hair. It’s strong, but that thing is stronger. It’ll break out soon.

 

Kamakiri, putting blades on his feet, is literally running vertically up the zero-pointer’s leg. That’s pretty clever, angsty mantis man! He reaches its chest, but it suddenly snaps out of Shiozaki’s vines, shaking Kamakiri off of him. Before she can catch him, the zero-pointer uses its massive hand to bat him through a building… Okay, I think it’s safe to say that Kamakiri isn’t conscious at the moment!

 

Finally, I arrive on the scene. One minute and forty-seven seconds left! I yell at Shiozaki below me, “Restrain it some more! I’m going to turn this thing off!” She nods and puts her hands hastily together again. Her hair dives into the ground, erupting below the zero-pointer’s feet. It wraps around its metal legs, entangling them together. It’s not enough to make it fall, but it’s enough to keep it still.

 

My body flies to the center of its back. Now, where’s that button? I only got a small amount of time to find it before it starts moving again! I talk to myself, “Disguised as a bolt… It’s sticking out just slightly… Come on, Setsuna, where is this damn thing?”

 

“IT’S BREAKING FREE!” Shiozaki warns me. If I can still hear her, then she’s pretty close to this thing! Where is this freaking button?! Aha! There it is! It’s a bit left from the center! 

 

I shout back, “BACK AWAY! IT’S GONNA FALL!” I wait a few seconds for Shiozaki to run before I press the button. Instantly, the zero-pointer powers down. The robot wobbles forward slightly. (I really hope Shiozaki is fast enough.) Quickly, I fly away into a nearby building, reforming myself and hiding behind a wall. 

 

CRAAAASH!

 

Damn, that was really loud! Like last time, a massive dust storm picks up, covering the entire street. Wait, I’m pretty sure there isn’t any street left! It’s just dirt at this point. For a Ruins Zone, these buildings are awfully sturdy despite being on its last legs.

 

Once the cloud clears, I vault over a broken wall. Shiozaki comes out from an alleyway, meeting up with me. She’s using her hair as a makeshift filter “Hey! You okay?” Shiozaki nods, coughing slightly. She-

 

Clack clack

 

Kamakiri appears! He’s still alive! “F-Fuck… I ain’t doin’ that again…” He’s holding onto his chest, breathing heavily. His brooding dark cloak is all torn up! Pitfully, he limps over to us. “Lizard Head… Vines… Thanks for not bein’ useless… Where’s Quirkless and Cartoony?” (Does he have cute nicknames for everybody?)

 

“Right here, Kamakiri!” Inochi exclaims, running up with Manga still on his shoulder. “Manga passed out after we took care of our giant.” He looks at the giant, which I fell, giving me a proud smile and nod.


“We should go back to All Might and Thirteen. Manga and Kamakiri are hurt, and the test is  almost over,” Shiozaki says, letting her hair mask fall. She’s right, I think we around twenty seconds left, but I lost count.

 

“Welp, let’s go then. I’m one hundred percent sure we passed,” I tell them, leading the way back to All Might and Thirteen. Inochi tries to support Kamakiri as he walks, but he pushes him away. Aw, Kamakiri is a big, strong man who doesn’t need any help! Nothing can get through his bad boy heart! Well, except for an adorable girl.

 

All Might and Thirteen are standing just outside the Ruins Zone, watching us on multiple TV screens. They have all sorts of notes down on their tables. Right as when we reach them, All Might hits a button. A loud bell goes off, signaling the end of the test. Thirteen sees us five and takes Manga and Kamakiri off of our hands, letting them sit on the ground. (For Manga, he’s passed out.)

 

Like before, we gather around these two. And damn, everyone looks awful. Their costumes are dirty and ripped in places, and most of them are holding some part of their body. Out of everyone: Inochi, Shiozaki, and I aren’t that injured. Inochi and Shiozaki only look dirty because their costumes are mainly white. 

 

A minute of silence goes by as All Might is staring at a piece of paper. “Hmm,” All Might makes a fake-worrying noise. I know him well enough that he’s doing it for dramatic effect. “I’m afraid you…” And that’s how everyone’s anxiety spikes. Jeez, they should know All Might by now! He does these kind of things!

 

“Passed with flying colors!” All Might beams, getting a sigh of relief from everyone but me. “You all saved ninety-three civilians from those dastardly creatures! I would like to personally commend Young Kendo for her amazing leadership during this test. Unfortunately, this is the end of your training session in U.S.J.. Recovery Girl is waiting outside. Go enjoy the rest of your day, Heroes!”

 

We waddle ourselves to the exit where my favorite grandma is at. Inochi and Kendo are talking, like how they always do. (Apparently, Inochi only wears his hood and mask because “it looks cool”.) Heh, Kendo’s corset is completely ripped. A part of her back is showing, but he doesn’t seem to care. Is he even a guy? What happened to hormones or general lust? It’s like he isn’t attracted to anything!

 

“Tokage, stop making that face,” Kodai tells me. Her little hat is all ruffled up! I wanna hug her and never let go.

 

“Fine… but Kodai, did I ever confess my love to you?”

 

“Pervert.”

 

She isn’t wrong...

 

***

 

“Okay, this question was so unfair! ‘How did the Rhode Island New State Statute affected society today?’ I shoulda gotten full points on this one!” Tsuburaba complains to Tetsutetsu and Monoma, who aren’t really paying attention to him.

 

Monoma takes a look at his paper and frowns. “You put one sentence down, Tsuburaba. You were supposed to write an essay.” He shows him his essay, which is mastercrafted. I didn’t expect any less from a theater kid. Monoma has the second-highest score, the first being yours truly.

 

“I studied r-really hard, and I still couldn’t do it!” Tetsutetsu clenches his fist, choking up slightly. I think he’s starting to cry! “I-I won’t make it big as a Pro… I’m sorry for being a disappointment, Mom!”

 

“Cheer up, Tetsutetsu! You might not have the wits, but you do have the brawn to be an amazing Hero!” Monoma tries to cheer him up, even patting him on the shoulder. Tetsutetsu sniffles, wiping his tears away with his blazer. “I’ll tutor you myself, if you want.”

 

“Th-Thank you, Monoma!” Tetsutetsu goes in for a hug, but Monoma manages to push this hunk of manly steel away. Nicely, not being a jerk about it. Mister Kan suddenly clears his throat, getting everyone’s attention. This must be about the Sports Festival! It’s all the talk nowadays, for a good reason too.

 

Mister Kan taps the board, pulling up a calendar on the screen. “Two weeks. Two weeks until the Sports Festival,” he says with the date of the first-years Sports Festival circled. A silent, but excited anxiety fills the room. I can practically feel it coming off of everyone!

 

“The Sports Festival is an instrumental time for you all. By this event, most, if not all, of the Pro Heroes in Japan will be attending. If you are impressive enough, and you are, you will be drafted to intern under them soon after. There’s only one problem though. Something worse than dates.” Mister Kan clicks the calendar off of the board. A picture of… a bulldog replaces it? I mean, he’s cute.

 

Manga gasps, breaking the silence, “An ugly dog!”

 

“No- Did you call my dog ‘ugly’?” 

 

(There goes the tension.)

 

Mister Kan puts up a picture of 1-A’s roster. “I’ll ignore that comment. Now, this is a roster of all students in Class 1-A. Ever since they were attacked by the League of Villains, the media is all over them. As a result, us, 1-B, are overshadowed by them. They think we are inferior to them in every way.” Some of my gracious classmates are nodding their heads, commenting that the news are wrong.

 

He continues, “This will be a common belief if 1-A dominates the Sports Festival. That can’t happen. You need to show that our class is just as powerful, if not more, as them! Not only you’ll be ignored by the media, possible internships will go out the window too! For your sake, as future Pro Heroes, show them up! You got that?!”

 

“Yes, Mister Kan!” we answer in unison. Right after, the final bell rings. School is finally let out for the day. Monoma and Tetsutetsu, being the ones most inspired, pop out of their chairs. Monoma has that monologue look on his face again.

 

“Come, 1-B! We need to scope out the competition! We have to let 1-A know of their arrogance! Not only they took the attention from us during Golden Week, they also took that from U.S.J.! We cannot let them take another! Follow me!” Annnnd Monoma runs out the door with Tetsutetsu. Most of the boys follow after him, being knuckleheads. Meanwhile, the Vice President is sitting in his chair, being adorably confused.

 

Kendo shouts, “Aw, for the love of-! Come on Yui, I need to put some sense into Monoma!” She takes Kodai’s hand and chases after them. At this point, pretty much everyone else just leaves except for Inochi and I. Thanks Kendo! This gives me the perfect opportunity to pop the question!

 

I walk up to his desk with a sly smile. “Hey, samurai! Glad that everyone left us alone! Why don’t you have a little talk with me?” I ask him without giving him a choice. Taking him by the hand, we’re the last ones to leave class. Mister Kan mumbles a goodbye as we walk out the door. A ton of General Department students are running towards 1-A’s class, some of them being from 1-D. (I think one of them’s blind!)

 

Unfortunately, the exit is also in that direction. We start walking, letting the students dash by us. “So… Uhm, is this about your dad? Since… You know,” Inochi questions, reminding me what happened after the “U.S.J. Incident” as the news is calling it. Ugh, I told him and Kendo that Dad was pretty angry once he heard what happened in U.S.J.. It’s why he punched Inochi, not because we were fake-dating. And he didn’t mean to threaten his place in U.A. too! Inochi listened, but Kendo didn’t.

 

I answer, “Well-” I get interrupted by the massive crowd of people outside 1-A’s classroom. They’re huddled just outside the door. Tetsutetsu is yelling about how they shouldn’t be arrogant, Monoma is taunting them, so is Pony, and Shiozaki is silently judging them with an icy stare. Kendo, being the mom of the group, is trying to drag these idiots (not Pony and Shiozaki) somewhere that isn’t here. That’s just the people I can see at first glance though… Man, Mister Kan fired everyone up, didn’t he? I see a lot more General Department students, like the zombie-looking guy.

 

“Yo, Quirkless and Lizard,” a tan-skinned girl, with a ton of leg muscles, calls us over. I recognize her! It’s Gera Rudolphus, a German exchange student. She speaks near-perfect Japanese with a bit of an accent. Yibiju is next to her. She’s an emotionless girl with bright purple hair.. She gives me the same vibes as Kodai. Unlike everyone else, these two are off to the side.

 

“Gera. Yibiju. Where’s Suzuki in all of this?” Dang, Inochi didn’t even say ‘hello’, just cutting to the chase. Gera cocks a slight smirk, being amused for some reason. I’m not one to spread rumors, but I’m pretty sure this girl is related to Miruko one way or another. These two are so similar that I need ten pages to list them all.

 

Gera answers, “Taunting 1-A like everyone else. Since your friends also came over, he’ll look for you with his annoying four pricks. I would get the hell outta dodge if I were you. Mantora isn’t here to stop Suzuki ‘cause he’s with Recovery Girl.” Inochi nods and sighs, turning to me. Guess we’re running away.

 

“Let’s go. I’d rather not talk to Suzuki today,” he tells me. I hold his hand as he leads the way this time. We quickly scurry pass the crowd, weaving around the people on the outer edge. I catch a glimpse of Suzuki and his merry band and- Oh shoot, Kazeha is looking at us. She’s getting his attention! I tug on Inochi’s shirt, signaling him to walk faster.

 

“Inochi?! Come back here!” That’s the devilish fox alright! I look behind us and see him trying to break through the crowd. Luckily, they’re acting as an immovable wall! Inochi, at the sound of his voice, forces us to jog away. Once we turn a corner, we slow down to a brisk walk. When we’re outside in this beautiful weather, we finally get a chance to breathe again.

 

Inochi groans, leaning against a pillar with his arms crossed. “Okay… We got that mess out of the way. Let’s hope that Kendo makes it out alright… Oh! Why did you wanna talk to me, again? You had a reason.”

 

“That’s right!” I exclaim, standing in front of him. I perform the upwards stare at him, letting our eyes meet. “Inochi, would you make me the happiest woman in the world and take me to the gala?” 

 

He doesn’t react.

 

“Inochi?” I ask him again. Still not reacting… “Earth to Inochi, are you in there?” Nope, still nothing! Well, I’m sorry, Inochi… It had to come to this. I move to his side and, with everything I got, push him off the pillar.

 

Thud!

 

“Ack! I’m here! I’m here!” Inochi yells after eating a face-full of concrete. He sits up and rubs his scratched-up cheek. “Ow, by the way! Why the heck do you want me to take you to the dance? I’m pretty sure there isn’t any school dance, other than the Culture Festival maybe…” 

 

I bat my hair, explaining, “The gala , not the dance. Next week, my dad is hosting one to showcase some technology and medical advancements. I can take a plus one to it, and that plus one is you. Don’t worry, we won’t be alone. Jurota’s taking Yanagi. I’m not sure who Momo is taking, maybe Jiro.”

 

Inochi slaps himself on the cheeks, leaving two very visible handprints on it. (That must be painful.) “You…” he says, shaking his head like he’s going crazy, “want me? Why? Your father probably hates me at this point! It sounds like a horrible idea to go to his gala of all things! That, and I don’t have a fancy suit! I-”

I put a finger on his lips, shushing him. “One: This is a great way to get on my dad’s good side. Show him that you’re a responsible person and have the potential to be a great Hero.Two: I can get you the best suit in Musutafu. And three: I’m not giving you a choice.”

 

After a few seconds of silence, Inochi sighs and looks away. “Fine…” Inochi caves in, letting me have control over his life. Good, not only Kendo’s forcing him, I am too! If that doesn’t say “friendship”, I don’t know what does! “Imagine what Kendo will think about this… I’m not looking forward to it…”

 

I giggle, sitting next to him. “She’ll be more than happy.” Inochi buries his face in his hands, contemplating his life in them. Looks like my part of Operation Samurai Heart is going well! I know Dad wants to make things up with him, so I’m knocking out two birds with one stone. After the gala, it’s all up to Kendo, and maybe Kodai, to shape up Inochi for the Sports Festival. It’ll be up to him to wow the world.

 

For right now, we wait for Kendo to come out. I’m letting myself imagine what kind of suit would look good with Inochi. Definitely a clown costume.



***

 

“Do you think Mister Inochi is getting cold feet? We’ve been waiting here for almost twenty minutes,” Haruto asks, looking out the window for any signs of him. I look out too, and there’s nothing that looks like a cute man. I texted Kendo earlier, and she said that Inochi is almost ready. “Almost” shouldn’t be twenty minutes. The moon is already out! We’ll be late at this rate.

 

I sigh, answering, “Knowing him, his feet aren’t the only thing cold. Aup, there he is!” The door finally opens, and Inochi is literally being pushed out by Kendo and her mom. Master Kendo is behind them being an amused and adorable old man. At the very least, Inochi is wearing the suit I brought him. He would look dashing if he wasn’t struggling to walk.

 

He’s wearing an expensive two-piece suit. The suit jacket and dress pants are white. His undershirt is black with gold oriental decals. As for its state… The collar is nicely folded, good. His white tie is properly tied with the right knot. (I bet Kendo’s mom tied it for him.) A red piece of fabric, like what Dad carries, is neatly folded in his right chest pocket. Let’s look at his shoes! Black dress shoes, laces are tied, can’t see his socks, but I’m assuming they’re great and matching! Inochi, on the outside, is ready for this gala! In the inside, though?

 

Click!

 

Kendo’s mom opens the door, carrying Inochi by his collar with her other hand. “Get inside, Sanji! You’re not backing out of this at the last second!” Like an absolute machine, she throws him inside. “Enjoy the damn gala! Nice to see you, Tokage.” 

 

Man, now I understand where Kendo gets her personality from. (How does Inochi deal with two Kendo’s at the same time?) Annnnyway, I give her mom a cute little wave. She waves back and loudly slams the door. (I thought she was gonna break it…) Haruto locks the doors on the inside, so Inochi is stuck with us!

 

“Haaah… I’m trapped…” Inochi lays back in his seat. Slowly, like a man who doesn’t have anything to live for, he puts on his seatbelt. Haruto does his friendly greeting per the usual, but my date is currently braindead. 

 

Haruto announces, “Next destination: Musutafu City Hall.”

 

***

 

At Musutafu City Hall, it’s a grand place. It’s right in the center of the city. There’s lush green grass with specially-designed sprinklers that does a variety of watershows. Naturally, there’s a sign that prevents people from walking on it. (In my opinion, it’s a bit ridiculous since grass is made to be walked on.) 

 

The grass, probably doesn’t fit the requirements to be called a “park”, surround the main attraction: The city hall. A large marble pathway leads up to the main entrance. Along the pathway is statues of famous Pro Heroes much like in U.A., but this has other prominent figures like lawmakers and leaders. What’s neat is, in case of rain or snow, the pathway has double awnings that transform it into a tunnel of sorts. 

 

The city hall itself is made with all sorts of stone. The architecture takes inspiration from the Victorian era with a Japanese twist. It makes it obvious which building is the city hall, from the large stone sign that says “MUSUTAFU CITY HALL” placed above the main entrance, or the fact that there’s another bronze sign right on the grass. The other buildings are embassies for other countries.

 

Since this city prides itself on having the best Hero school in Japan, there’s a ton of Pro Hero agencies in the area. Obviously, these agencies are top-notch, belonging to high-ranking Heroes to “maintain the city’s image”. If I’m being honest here, this is one big boast to foreigners. It’s like, “Oh hey, look at all this cool stuff! We have so much better Heroes than you have! Look at our incredibly low crime rate! Ignore the fact that our suicide and bullying rates are one of the highest in the world!”

 

I mean, seriously. That’s my only complaint with society today. Let’s see: Pony, Inochi, Kamakiri, and Manga. Almost one-fifth of my class have been bullied. Not just from middle school, but from the media as well. Prime example: Inochi and Kamakiri. Before the U.S.J. Incident, these two were being dragged through the mud for “not having the suitable traits”. Now, 1-A is their target. They get mostly praise, but U.A. itself is getting negativity for not having the best security. Ugh, they’re like flies buzzing around rotten meat.

 

Anyway, that’s enough ranting in my head. I have a gala to crash.

 

Inochi gets out of the car first and opens my door. (He finally got his head together.) He extends his hand out, bowing slightly. “My queen, we have a gala to attend.” I smile, taking his hand. We take our first steps on the marble path. Haruto tells us to have a good time before he remotely closes the door, driving away. I lock arms with my knight, walking in rhythm along the shiny path. 

 

We blend in with the others. Those being reporters, investors, businessmen and women, support scientists, politicians, all adults. I’m glad for the fact that Inochi is a mature man behind that goofiness. If he wasn’t on the news, then almost everyone here would assume he’s a college student studying engineering or the son of a rich man. But, life doesn’t work like that. Especially since I catch a couple set of eyes observing us. Two men. In fact, I recognize them. After all, there’s only one French man who-

 

“Rascals! Ruffians! C’est le destin!” The Count runs up to us, shoving any poor sap away. He squeezes himself in between Inochi and I, putting his arms around our shoulders. You know, if he did this to two kids that are not us, he would be in jail. Grandmaster, in complete contrast with his partner, calmly walks over with his cane comfortably in his left hand. 

 

“Oh! Uhm… hello again! I didn’t expect you two would be at the gala,” Inochi says, squirming slightly, being underneath Count’s arm and all. This only prompted him to bring us closer to him. For a man wearing a completely black suit (literally everything), he’s awfully vibrant. Kuroiro should take a page outta his book.

 

“Well,” Grandmaster starts, shooting a gaze of disapproval at Count, “to put it simply, we’re here for a case. It’s a pleasure seeing you two again, however. I assume Miss Yaoyorozu and Mister Shishida are here as well? With their own tag-alongs?” 

 

I hum and nod. “That’s right! Momo is here with Jiro, while Jurota has Yanagi with him. They’re waiting in the lobby for us.” Grandmaster visibly takes the information in, also whacking Count’s legs with his cane. He lets go of us and puts an arm around Grandmaster’s shoulders instead. (It’s neat seeing Grandmaster’s costume doubling as a formal outfit, but it does make him stick out slightly.)

 

“That reminds me,” Inochi tells me, putting a hand to his chin and looking down slightly, “why does your dad want you here? This gala is for adults, so it seems out-of-place for us to be here. Especially since we don’t contribute anything.”

 

“Of course you don’t understand, Inochi!” I prod at his lack of business knowledge, also prodding my elbow into his arm. “It’s all about appearances! For businessmen, having their kids there make them look better. All I have to do is stand by Dad’s side with Mom, and chat with his friends and his friends’ children.”

 

“Huh, I can’t imagine myself doing things for the sake of appearances. Is it that important?” Inochi asks with his humble innocence. Man, I wonder what made him hate doing things for himself.

 

Very important. You gotta show those microphone-carrying hounds what you are. I’m not fond of them, but they hold a lot of power in this world. Especially for upcoming Pro Heroes. It’s why you’re here, Inochi. You have to improve your appearance to my dad.” The Count drags Grandmaster to us again.

 

Grandmaster comments, “Miss Tokage is right. The media can be your best and worst weapon. It’s why this gala exists, after all. This event is nothing but a big show to them, something to sate their appetites until the next thing comes along.”

Count hums in disapproval. “Let’s talk about something positive for once!” he pleads, putting his head on Grandmaster’s shoulders. “Even if this gala is that, Shindeka, you have to admit that this ‘show’ can change the technological face of the world! Well, second to I-Island of course.”

 

Grandmaster sighs in annoyance. “Yes, I know. Developments in metaology, cancer research, Quirk equipment, new technology, the next phone, and so on. It’s the same every year, Claude. Also, take your head off of my shoulders.” He pushes his shoulder up, forcing Count’s head off of him. 

 

Hmm…

 

I whisper to Inochi, “Hey. The Count, gay or European?” His face twists up something awkward, he’s shaking his head, and his hands are on his face. Those three things add up to a severely disappointed Inochi.

 

“Why are you like this?” he replies, sounding completely dead. Hmph, not my fault that these two men are perfect for each other. Cheerful and extroverted man paired up with a cold, calculating introvert. You know what romantics say: Opposites attract hard. (I need to research their relationship on the internet. Who knows what kind of juicy gossip lies in there?)

 

“You know you love that part of me,” I tease him, nudging his arm again. Inochi sighs in disappointment, becoming the Grandmaster to my Count. “Anyway, we’re here. Welcome to Musutafu City Hall, Sanji Inochi!”

 

We enter the lobby, filled with aristocrats from all over the world. It’s an average sight for me. Shiny golden brown floors, bronze chandelier, walls decorated with the history of U.A. and Musutafu, waiters with silver trays of the finest campagne, it’s the same old same old. Inochi though, is like a dwarf in a room full of giants.

 

“We’ll be off. It’s a pleasure to see you two again,” Grandmaster says with a hand to his chest. The Count pats our backs before leaving with his partner. (I hope it’s not just occupational partners.) Inochi and I wave goodbye. Let’s hope they solve their case. Now, Momo and Jurota should be in here. Hmm…

 

“Found them,” Inochi tells me, pointing towards the right side of the lobby. Yup, there they are! They’re sitting lazily about. Momo looks gorgeous in her green dress, Jiro’s cute wearing that punk rock get-up, Jurota is sophisticatedly mature with his black and green tuxedo, and Yanagi went all out! 

 

If it wasn’t for her odd posture, I wouldn’t have recognized her! Her short, pale hair is tied up in a little bun, she’s wearing a strapless, flowing bluish white dress, and with red high heels. Not to mention her tired eyes are a lot more open and alert, but that might be her make-up. On that note, it’s flawless.


I scurry over there, moving around and in-between countless guys and gals. Inochi tries to follow, warning me to slow down for his sake. Right as he says that, he accidentally runs into a man. I’ll let him sort that out on his own. For now, I am indulging myself in small-talk with my fellow comrades-in-training, who does not show a face of amusement in the slightest. I sit in between Jiro and Jurota, laying back in the soft chair.

 

Jiro twirls her earlobes around her index finger, staring at Inochi and the furious man. “Did you just leave him behind? That guy he ran into looks more than angry.” Momo has a hand to her mouth, witnessing Inochi’s confidence shattering into pieces. Oh man, that guy is really chewing him out.

 

“Eh, he’ll let him go. It’ll be more than messed up for a grown man to punish a teenager. Especially if said man is surrounded by media presence,” I predict with complete accuracy. If this man isn’t a complete idiot or an egomaniac, it’ll come true. I look over to Yanagi, who’s adjusting her dress. “You look fantastic, Yanagi! Almost didn’t recognize ya!”

 

“Thank you, Tokage. Much time and energy were used for my outfit and general appearance. I am glad that you do not think ill of it. You yourself are beautiful as well,” she hits me with her style of a compliment. Jurota nods along with what she says, pushing his frames up. 

 

“Indeed, Miss Setsuna. Mister Inochi is coming, albeit… like a wandering man…” he informs me. We watch Inochi stumble up to us with his head down, arms limp. I was right! He came out of it unscathed! Physically, at least. He finds himself a chair beside a table and Yaoyorozu, sinking in it.

 

This is why I didn’t want to come…” Inochi admits. It may have occurred to me that I brought upon his greatest fear, but I don’t really care. Momo shoots me a look, but I wave it away. He’ll be fine.

 

“Well, I’m glad I could meet you in person, Inochi. How’s your shoulder?” Momo greets him, bringing her hand out. Inochi straightens himself out and shakes it, ironically with the same shoulder that Suzuki tore up. 

 

Yanagi asks, bringing me out of Inochi’s and Momo’s conversation. “Tokage, if perhaps I could inquire, why did you include Inochi in your father’s gala? If I am forthright, you must possess a scheme, correct?” Oh, I wish I wasn’t so obvious with my plans and scheming! But, I can’t help it. 

 

I grin, showcasing my evil mastermind-like smile. “You betcha. I’m afraid I cannot disclose the details of my plan, because it’s a little private. What I can tell you is the name of our glorious operation that Kendo and I created. It’s called: Operation Samurai Heart ! Inochi doesn’t know because Kendo wanted ‘a little payback for Dragon Fist ’. That girl can hold a grudge. Surprised she forgave me for all these years.”

 

Luckily for me, Inochi doesn’t hear a word I said. He’s too busy chatting with Momo and Jiro about the U.S.J. Incident. Jurota pushes his glasses up. “It must be a major thing if you ladies are helping Mister Inochi. Anyhow, how are you? Are things with your father going well?” Jeez, Jurota asks me that every time.

 

“Yes, for the millionth time, Jurota!” I say, being fake-annoyed. I rest myself on the armrest facing him, letting my cheeks squish up. “Dad and I are fine! Mom too! He’s just a little stressed out from U.S.J. and this gala. Everything’s great on the Tokage-front.”

 

“I dearly hope that is the case. A man like your father’s possesses great power over the world. It would be a tragedy if he crumbles underneath the strain. It is only natural for Shishida to have concern,” Yanagi tells me something that I already know. Everyone keeps reminding me how powerful and great Dad is. It’s true, more than true, but it’s really annoying.

 

Jurota sighs, being disappointed in something, which I don’t know what. “Let’s speak about something else then. Yesterday, I ran into a lady-”

And I interrupt him, “Did you get her number?” Jurota and Yanagi has equally annoyed looks on their faces. Hehe, I’ll never stop disappointing people. Jurota lays back in his chair and sighs out a “no”.

 

He continues on with his love story, “As I was saying... She was a second-year in the Hero Course, 2-A. She recognized me and walked up with such anger that I couldn’t comprehend why she held this fury. This woman got uncomfortably close and said your name, then something incredibly vulgar. You do not want to know what she said. I didn’t know a woman could put those words together.”

 

 

That was not a love story. Sounds more like an angsty young adult story centered around spite. I pry, “Uhm… Who was this girl? I generally annoy people, but I don’t piss them off unless I’m in a fight.”

 

Jurota answers, “I didn’t catch her name, unfortunately. She had light brown hair in a bob cut with an ahoge, fair skin, and jade eyes. But, I think her hair was a wig though, I wasn’t sure. Do you recall any women who looked like that?” Hmm, that description doesn’t ring a bell. I don’t know anyone who wears a wig, let alone looking like that.

 

So, I shake my head. “Nope. I don’t know anyone who looks like that. Maybe she’s a jealous girl, I don’t know. Oh wait, she’s a second-year, isn’t she? Why would she be jealous? Eh, it’s not an urgent mystery, let’s not think about this,” I suggest (mainly for myself), shrugging my shoulders. 

 

“Tokage,” Jiro gets my attention. I sit up in my chair, turning to this cute punk. “Should we head in the conference room? The gala is about to start in thirty minutes.” Right, us rich kids have a job to do.

 

“Mhm! Lead us, beautiful Momo!” I command, standing out of my seat. Jiro’s face goes through shock then jealousy in a second. (I might not be the only one.) Momo, being a fantastic leader, stands up and leads the pack. We follow her like a band of misfits, Momo at the front, us four at the back. We’re infiltrating the gala. What’s our mission? Look good, talk good, be good. That’s our job, being precious little kids.

 

We enter the conference room. It’s the size of a small theater, filled with seats neatly made in rows and columns There’s tables off to the side for food and drinks, and the stage is at the front. A dark blue curtain with “Tokage Industries” is stamped on it. A single, lonely wooden pedestal stands on the stage.

 

Some of the adults are making their way in, getting themselves seated and getting something to snack on while they wait. I see Dad to the left of the stage, talking to some of his friends and advisors, including Momo’s dad and Jurota’s too. I bet he’s saying I’ll be great in the Sports Festival. He’s counting on me to bring home the gold. 

 

Now, it’s no question where our seats are at. Being children of rich businessmen and our pus ones, we have our assigned seats at the front. “We’ll be the face of the future,” Dad always said. Quite literally too, because the news will take a picture with all six of us in it.  I’m so glad that Dad didn’t let the reporters interview us. Imagine all the chaos… For Momo and Jiro especially… 

 

“I’m getting something to drink,” Jiro tells us, going off to a table. Momo goes with her, then Jurota, and Yanagi. Inochi shrugs and goes with them. Welp, I guess we all got thirsty at the same time. I go with them, getting a nice cold glass of sparkling apple cider imported from France.

 

“So, uhm, how do I… ‘improve my appearance’ to your dad?” Inochi asks me before taking a sip. “Holy crap, this is amazing! How could French people turn apples into this masterpiece?!” He’s such a goof.

 

I reply, drinking my own masterpiece, “Well, go ahead and greet him. All by yourself. He respects a man who does things out of his own volition. You got that, Inochi?” A few seconds of silence goes by. “Inochi?”

 

“...Yeah, I’m Inochi… Inochi’s here,” he speaks in a spaced out tone, putting a hand to his cheek. That’s where Dad punched him… As much as I don’t want Inochi to go off on his own, this is the best way. What can I say to get rid of that anxiety of his? I-?!

 

“Setsuna!”

 

Oh God, he’s here. I was hoping he wouldn’t be here, but of course he is…

 

Okichi Tokugawa stands in front of Inochi and I. (His presence broke Inochi out of his trance.) He’s wearing his gaudy tuxedo that is so unflattering. I just want to slap his vomit green hair out of my face. He sideways-glare at Inochi, whispering (just loud enough that he can hear), “Did you really come to your dad’s gala with this man? He has such a lowly stature and worth.”

 

Inochi sighs and brings his hand out. He introduces himself, “This man is called Sanji Inochi. Pleasure to meet…?” Okichi huffs and looks away, completely ignoring him. Yeah... for Inochi, this guy would be a rich, snooty version of Suzuki.

 

I sigh, letting my apple cider drown my cringe away. “He’s Okichi Tokugawa. And-”

 

Okichi, being an asshole, decides to cut in, “And, once we be of age, I would be her husband.” And of course he would say that ! He’s going to go on and on about our arranged marriage. I know it’s for the good of the company, but why him? I would never love him, and not because I’m a lesbian, but because he’s the kind of person to marry himself. Ugh, I’m doing it for Dad...

 

Inochi almost does a spit take from the news. He swallows his cider and gently puts down his glass, leaning back against the table for support. “Excuse me, but what ?! You’re… You’re going to marry Tokage?”



Okichi explains after laughing like an idiot, “An arranged Quirk Marriage, correct. My Quirk, at will, allows me to hear nigh-everything. Coupled with Setsuna’s, it’ll be the ultimate espionage Quirk! It’s a shame that can’t use your own. It seems like genetics weren’t the kindest to you. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of my future wife.”

 

Inochi scoffs, crossing his arms and looking away. Okichi looks offended that someone is challenging his, near zero, status. He doesn’t realize just how many ways Inochi could kill him. I say, supporting him, “Okichi, you do realize that he’s being trained by the Master Kendo, right? You know that his Quirk lets him be a master at anything physical, right ?”

 

Before Okichi responds, Inochi does instead, “This is a broken record at this point…” He puts a hand on my shoulder. “I’m going to your dad. Wish me luck.” And he walks away. Okichi smirks and watches him leave. He takes a glass of cider and drinks it in the richest way possible. (I swear, it’s like Monoma’s dramatics taken up to eleven.)

 

“Hmph, guess he isn’t a big man,” Okichi insults him before turning his nasty eyes towards me. “Now, we’re alon-”



“Nope.” I gently push him aside, going over to my friends who’ll protect me. At least he knows when to take a hint, because he walks away. I’m glad Jurota and Momo aren’t roped into arranged marriages. I shift the cider around in my glass, the same thing that wine tasters do for some reason. 

 

There’s Inochi, talking with my dad. He picked a good moment too, not interrupting a conversation, both of them are alone. At least he’s smart in that regard. Momo finishes her glass and puts it on the table. “Come on, let’s find our seats. The gala is about to start,” she ushers us.

 

I finish my glass too, following Momo and the others to the front. Our names are labeled on them, thank God for convenience. We sit in our assigned seats. Inochi’s seat is right next to mine, so it’ll be a bit empty. I check the clock, and the gala’ll start in about ten or so minutes. We pass the time by quietly talking to each other while everyone gets seated. Unluckily for me, Okichi is seated right behind me. What luck…

 

Thankfully, the ten minutes went by like a breeze. Dad shakes Inochi’s hand and starts walking up the stage. For some reason, Inochi’s not going back to his seat. He’s staying by the stage. I give him a weird look, but he just shrugs. Damn it all… The lights dim, letting the spotlight be on Dad. He straightens a stack of paper and leans in the microphone slightly.

 

“Thank you, thank all of you for being here for this year’s gala. I am proud to have many companies display their technological and medical advances to further bring peace and prosperity to our world. The credit shouldn’t be given to me, but to the engineers, the doctors, the researchers, the minds who made the impossible into reality.

 

“Now, from my company, as you all know, has a little of everything. Producing support items for Pro Heroes, aiding the police by enhancing their security, medical research of all kinds, the list goes on. One of the branches is metaology, the study of Quirks. As you know, they’re the very foundation of our society today.

 

“Now, one day, my lead scientist, Sakata Ito, came to my office with a theory. He told me that he possibly found a way to modify our genes that make up our Quirks. It was, at the time, a crazy theory. The mere thought of rearranging and twisting our own genes, to make our Quirks better artificially? It was insane, but isn’t insane ideas how our ancestors created the mere concept of ‘science’? 

 

“Genetic engineering. That was what our ancestors called it before Quirks came about. It become a buried medical topic, as they had to deal with the chaos with the first appearance in Qingqing. But, consider this its renaissance. I’m here to announce that Tokage Industries are researching ways to genetically modify Quirks to make them stronger, more efficient, safer to the-”

 

“You bastard!”

 

?!

 

From the crowd, a man stands up. Everything goes silent. A few security guards are slowly walking over to him. Dad asks, scratching his cheek a little bit, “Is… something wrong, sir? I’m so sorry, I’m afraid I don’t recognize y-”

 

The man shouts, red in the face, “You’re the reason why my daughter’s life is ruined! Because of her chemotherapy you provided, she lost the ability to use her Quirk! Meanwhile, you’re here talking about changing our bodies?! Is this a fucking joke?! My daughter had to drop out of U.A., out of the Hero Course because of you! She doesn’t have a future anymore!”

 

Dad looks around at the crowd, adjusting his tie. “Well, sir, I’m sorry-”



“‘Sorry’ won’t fix her life,” he growls and-?!

 

Someone yells, “HE HAS A GUN!” Before I have time to react, Jurota grabs me and throws us to the ground. He’s covering me, and I think Yanagi too.

 

POP POP!
THUD!

 

“He’s restrained! Everyone, back away! Back away!” A strong-sounding man tells us after a few seconds of pure screaming. I didn’t realize I was trying to push Jurota off until he gets up. Oh God, where’s Dad?! I don’t see him! He’s not on the stage! All I see is two bullet holes in the curtain, but I don’t see him!

 

“Dad!” I shout, frantically running to the stage. I almost ran my head into the ledge- Wait, why the hell am I running up to this thing?! Dad isn’t here! I need to look at the sides! That’s where he should be! I dart my head back and forth, and thank God! I see him! He’s on the left end of the stage with Inochi! I sprint up to them, nearly tripping on my dress. “Are you two okay?! Are you hurt?!”

 

“I’m fine, Setsuna…” Dad gets off of the ground, dusting his suit off. He helps Inochi up on his feet. How did he get here so fast? But, I’m so glad they’re okay! “Tonight wasn’t supposed to be like this. Someone on the security team did not do their job correctly. If it wasn’t for Mister Inochi, I would have died.”

 

Inochi saved him? I turn to him. He’s sitting on the steps with his hands on his knees. “God... All I saw was a shiny black thing. I didn’t take any chances, so I just… just tackled him off the stage… I thought I’d gotten shot for sure…” 

 

Grandmaster dashes up, not bothering to use his cane. He informs us, “Thank goodness that all of you are okay. The suspect is apprehended and will be charged with a lot of crimes. It’s a shame though. Not only his daughter’s future is crushed, she won’t have a father to help her cope with the loss.”

 

“What a mess,” Dad mutters, pushing aside his advisors, “it appears the gala will have to be canceled and rescheduled for another time. I’ll be more than glad to sure his family if need be. They ruined my event, but of course they’ll shift the blame to me for some twisted logic.” (That family will be ruined but… it’s reasonable…)

 

He looks over at me and sighs. Dad gets on one knee and puts his hands on my shoulders. “But, I’m glad you’re safe, Setsuna. I don’t know what I’d do if you have gotten hurt. Please, give my thanks to Jurota and your friends for protecting you. Call Haruto, and he’ll take you and Inochi back home.”

 

I nod. I try to go in for a hug, but Dad moves away at the last second. I… Ugh, I shouldn’t be worked up over it. I get my phone out and call Haruto.

 

***

 

“When I saw the sun come up, I thought to myself, ‘I’ll be forced to dance with Tokage underneath the moonlit sky.’ I didn’t expect to be a bodyguard,” Inochi recaps, sitting on the steps with me. He groans and yanks on his tie. Then he goes ahead and undoes the knot. So much for looking formal… (He’s still on this dancing thing?)

 

I giggle, taking off my heels. There, I’m going barefoot. Inochi isn’t the only one who’s letting loose. “For a guy named ‘Inochi’, your life sucks. At the very least, you’ll be known as the man who saved my dad’s life,” I try to cheer him up, but he decides to groan at the moon like it’s the cause of everything terrible.

 

“Knowing the media, they’ll focus on the shooter. Anyway, I got something to ask you,” he says, moving himself towards me. “How are you so humble? For a rich woman, you went to a public middle school. And you act so modest, despite being one of the greatest prodigies in… ever!” Heh, that means a lot coming from this doofus.

 

“Well, moms are awesome, what can I say? When I was growing up, Mom taught me to balance on a tightrope called ‘confidence’. She did that when my schedule called for her,” I answer. Inochi tilts his head slightly. Hmph, my answer wasn’t good enough for him?

Inochi asks me a follow-up question, “A schedule? Like the same one for school?” Oh right, of course he doesn’t know. I never told him about it. Only Jurota and Momo knows about my schedules that Dad makes for me, which is why Jurota keeps asking about my wellbeing for some reason.

 

“Pretty much, but for everyday life. Dad schedules things like study sessions, Mom time, break, things like that. You wouldn’t understand though, it’s a rich people thing. Well, things specific to the Tokage family,” I tell him a simplified version of it. My schedule has a lot of stuff going on, from events, studying, training/exercising, and especially U.A. time. I can barely keep up with it since it varies from day to day, but Haruto is there as my faithful servant and close friend.

 

Inochi sighs, standing up. “I probably don’t. But, God… Imagine the Sports Festival. Even with all the training I did with Kendo, it’ll be a big challenge. It’s the deciding factor if I stay in 1-B or not, even after I saved your dad’s life. What about you? Think you’re ready?”

 

I stand up too with a wide smile. “Better question: Is the world ready for me? Hehe, but seriously! You’ll do great! Now, what was it about a dance under the moonlit sky? Is that how you imagined the gala?”

 

“...It might have been my first thought… for the past week…” Inochi admits, blushing ever so slightly. Damn, I would get my phone out, but he’ll take it away with his fast reflexes! It’s a rare moment for Sanji Inochi to blush, but I got an idea that’ll make him blush in front of all of Japan!

 

“In that case, I hope you know how to dance, twinkle toes! Come on!” 

 

“W-Woah! Wait, Tokage!”

Chapter Text

Manga Fukidashi

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!

 

“Manga! Get your ass up! Today’s the Sports Festival!” Shojo yells at me through the freaking door! Ugh! It’s only an hour or so until school starts… I don’t know why I have to be in this stupid festival. Grandmaster said he’s planning to give me an internship. My mission is already complete, but I have to show up 1-A for some reason. They’ll kill me! Especially Bakugo! He’s the kind of guy who’ll pick on frail nerds like me…

 

I shout back, “You’re not Mom! You can’t tell me what to do!” Shojo groans and starts to wiggle the doorknob. What is she doing?! It’s locked!

“Just because you’re older than me, doesn’t mean I can’t boss you around! So, come out and don’t be a giant idiot, or I’ll bring an axe and chop this door down myself!” she orders me… What did I do to deserve a sister like her? Always so bossy, so nosy, and beyond annoying. I wish I had a gorgeous sister like Shiozaki’s, but I’m stuck with a nerd who’s nerdier than me.

 

“Fine! Just give me a second, Shojo!” I yell, throwing my blanket off of me. I take my phone off of my nightstand, stumbling over to my door half-alive and half-dead. It takes a few times for me to grab the handle, but I manage. I unlock the door and slowly swing it open. Shojo’s there with her hair down, her face a bit flushed. She must have read one of her ero-mangas as a morning treat again. “What did you read this time…?” I tiredly ask, yawning.

 

Shojo pouts for a second before she smirks. “Hmph, taking an interest in my favorite genre? You know, I can give you a few recommend-”



“Uhm, no.” I stop her, pushing her face out of my way. She stumbles back, shouting about how much of an asshole I am. I ignore her, walking into the living room. The smell of salty fish fills the room. Guess Shojo decided to make her speciality breakfast: steamed rice, salty fish, miso soup, and a bunch of vegetables. Can’t get more Japanese than that. 

 

“Aren’t you gonna say something? ‘Thanks Shojo, for being the greatest sister in the world.’ Or, ‘Hey Shojo, why don’t you talk about the greatest boy love manga in the history of ever?’” she complains, pinching my shoulder. I yelp in pain, which wakes me up slightly from my grogginess. “You’re welcome for that.”

 

“Ow… can you not announce that you’re a fujoshi every second? Not everyone has the same fetish as you,” I say, sitting on the couch and putting my phone down. I grab the remote and change the TV to a morning anime. Already seen this one a hundred times, but it doesn’t get old.

 

“That’s big talk coming from you, Manga,” Shojo remarks, going into the kitchen. She comes out with a large tray of her famous breakfast, putting it on the table. “Anyway, let’s eat up. I expect you to finish everything. If you don’t, I’m going to put the fear of God in you, and I’m not a religious girl.”

 

I take my chopsticks, completely unimpressed. “I can literally scream you through the wall. Even though my face is stupid, it’s a great Quirk unlike yours.” I put a salty fish in my mouth to prove a point. Don’t know exactly how, but she should be afraid. Shojo frowns and does the same, but she nibbles on its head like a monster.

 

She bites its head off and boasts, “All I need is to show you one of my masterpieces. You’ll cry so much that you’ll lose weight. Well, what little you already have anyway. But, I won’t. It’s called ‘Mangaka’ for a reason. My job is to make you look good.”

 

“Is that why you draw my classmates? Or is that an excuse to be creepy?” I ask, which prompts her to look fake-offended. She puts a hand to her (flat) chest and everything. Hmph. Anyway, I grab the remote again and change the channel to the news. I’ll need it to check out what’s going on at school.

 

“Your classmates are some of the best material I’ve gotten in months! I mean, it’s just like a shonen, you know?” Shojo puts her palm out, setting up the imaginary scene. “Young teenagers striving to be heroes, but the villains are hiding behind every corner. Bonds will be tested, love will bloom, an inevitable betrayal, but the power of friendship will prove to be-”



I snap at her, “That’s stupid! Our lives won’t be an anime. Besides, no one in my class is gonna betray us. It’ll be dumb if a student, who wants to be a Hero, is actually a Villain in disguise. U.A. does an insane amount of vetting as it is, so one can’t slip through the cracks.”

 

“I know! Don’t get so offended!” she scolds me. “But besides, if there was a traitor, who would you pick? In my opinion, it’s you. There’s no way in hell that we’re twins. My real brother is out there somewhere. He’s much more stronger, and isn’t afraid of his own shadow.” Wha-? Just, ugh. Why is she asking me this? 

 

“I can’t be asked to answer this… What does the worst sister in the world think? If it wasn’t her brother?” I turn the question back to her, eating up. Shojo puts one of her chopsticks to her chin, thinking for a few seconds. A few hums later, she puts her finger up. Great, let’s hear what she has to say.

 

She answers, “From my vast knowledge of tropes, it’ll be someone who’s the light of the class. They cheer everyone up, blending in perfectly, but their dark side is a complete contrast. Naturally, they’ll have a mystery that’s covered up by their bubbliness, so no one would think twice about it! Then, when it happens, the whole class is crushed. No one expected it to be them! But, it makes so much sense! All of the plotlines and loose ends are finally answered with this betrayal! That’s why… it’ll have to be none other than-”

 

“Katsuki Bakugo! That’s my pick for the winner of today’s Sports Festival!” A newscaster interrupts Shojo at the perfect moment. Oh right, I forgot that the news does this. They debate about who’s gonna win. This is a great moment to get some more information about 1-A. Monoma’ll be happy. (I wonder how many speeches he’ll make today...)

 

Shojo huffs, but she listens in with me. A board of seven newscasters, or sportscasters in this case, are sitting at a curved table with a screen above their heads. The first sportscaster, who voted for Bakugo, is explaining his choice. It’s mainly on his use of his Quirk, Explosions, and the number of ways it could be applied. I saw his clips during the Battle Trials. A lot of maneuverability and power… It’s too good… So much better than my dumb Quirk...

 

The next two sportscasters also pick Bakugo as the winner. The fourth though, picks Todoroki. She explains that his Quirk is “the sheer definition of power” with his Half-Cold Half-Hot. Since he’s Endeavour’s son, she figures “that his genetics will carry him to victory”. From Todoroki’s clips, he’s pretty scary too… The fifth sportscaster agrees with her, choosing Todoroki too. The sixth casts his vote on Midoriya because of “underestimated power”. Man, no one is talking about 1-B! It’s like they forgot we even exist-

 

“Talk about 1-B, you jerks!” Shojo suddenly, for no reason, shouts at the TV. She huffs and crosses her arms. At least she’s carrying some class spirit, even though she isn’t in my class… “Midoriya’s gonna destroy his own body! He’s not going to win with his Quirk! Why isn’t anyone talking about 1-B?!”

 

I silently eat my breakfast, listening to the final sportscaster. “Okay, I think we have to address the biggest problem: 1-B and the General Courses,” he finally addresses us. Shojo claps and cheers with her mouth full of rice. So disgusting... 

 

“From 1-C, Hitoshi Shinso could be a solid contender with his Brainwashing. There’s virtually no defense against his mental assault. Now, Karisuma Suzuki, from 1-D, is a massive player with Nine Tails, increasing his speed and strength. It also works against his favor as we seen during Golden Week, which was stopped by 1-A.

 

Which brings me back to 1-B. We forget that these students are training to be Pro Heroes along with 1-A. During Golden Week, Itsuka Kendo and Sanji Inochi defeated almost all of 1-D by themselves, Quirks and all. Neito Monoma can copy almost any Quirk, Juzo Honenuki can entrap with Softening, and plenty of other great examples. If you ask me, this class has the potential.

 

But, with all things considered… I’ll have to pick Bakugo as the victor. Out of all of the first-years, he has little-to-none weaknesse-”

 

“What?! ‘Little-to-none weaknesses’?! That’s a load of crap!” Shojo yells, pulling back her bowl of steamed race and-!!! 

 

Oh, she didn’t throw it. She grumbles and keeps eating, drowning herself in rice. After swallowing it, she points her chopsticks at me. “Why aren’t you mad about this? These guys shafted your class! They’re all on the 1-A bandwagon. Just because they defeated Villains, it means they get all the attention… Watch them grow big heads after this…”

I sigh, explaining, “Shojo, I’m too tired for this. It’s morning, I feel like I want to scream at the top of my lungs, and I already have an internship with Grandmaster and Count. No matter what, what happens in this Sports Festival won’t affec-”

 

Smack!

 

“OW?!”

 

“You’re going to show 1-A what you aren’t a total loveless loser! That, hey! You can beat some of them up no matter the event! Even if you’re the weakest guy in your class, the only person that can’t be scaled on attractiveness, the nerd that everyone thinks is weak, that you’re scared of virtually everything and everyone, and-!”

 

“Are you trying to motivate me or make me cry?!” I yell with tears of pain running down my weird face. She goes a bit red, looking slightly away from me. Why the hell did she decide to smack me across the head?! And why did it hurt so much?!

 

“I made you scream at the top of your lungs, didn’t I? And besides, you can’t blame your little sister for trying to help,” she tries to excuse herself, but it isn’t working. Did she hit me with a hammer or something? My head is throbbing so much!

“I can, and I will!” I yell, standing up and rubbing where she hit me. “Why are you so worked up about 1-B anyway?! You aren’t even in my class! You’re in 1-H! You’re in the Support Department! I swear, I am going to drag you to the Sports Festival myself!” 

 

Shojo stands up too, clapping her chopsticks at me. “Don’t you dare! And… And these are the only other people I talked to in a year, Manga! I don’t even talk to my own classmates because I’m holed up in here! Now, you will help your friends get those internships if it’s the last thing you’ll do!”



“It’ll be the last thing I’ll do! Because I’ll be dead ! Bakugo and Todoroki will kill me! Have you seen them?!” I gesture towards the TV. They’re showing clips of Bakugo’s and Todoroki’s Battle Trials. I don’t think Todoroki even used his Half-Hot side! Imagine how scary that is considering he’s Endeavour’s son!

“Stop complaining! Eat your damn food and get dressed!” Shojo picks up my bowl of miso soup and thrusts it into my hands. Some of the soup gets spilled all over my hands! Shit, it’s hot! It’s really hot!

 

I yell back, “You’re not Mom! And my hands are on fire, Shojo!”

 

“Don’t make me-!”

 

~~~

 

Togaru Kamakiri

“Do you have your papers?” 

 

“Yea.”

 

”Your wallet?”

 

“Yea.”

 

“What about your skin cream? You know how your skin gets when you use your Quirk.”

 

“Ma, don’t-”

 

“Do you have it or not?”

 

“...Yea.”

 

“Good! You’re going to do great in the Sports Festival, sweetheart. There’s nobody quite like you,” Ma says, pattin’ my head. Hmph, I’m not a little kid damn it. She doesn’t have the damn right to baby me around like this.

 

I groan, leanin’ my head back. “Yea, I’m gonna woo those Heroes alright. There ain’t no one quite like a murderer’s son. That speaks a helluva lot ‘bout bein’ unique,” I sarcastically say, which makes Ma’s face scrunch up in pure disappointment. She sighs an’ puts her palm to her forehead.

 

“I understand that this isn’t the best thing, Togaru. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Those Pros are focused on the fact that I’m a Villain’s son. You gotta prove those prejudiced idiots wrong, because you’re so much more than that!” she tries her best to motivate me. She can’t understand that it’s near impossible to prove these self-righteous bastards wrong. Unlike my classmates, these people are so damn narrow-minded that I’m surprised that they didn’t lynch me yet.

 

“Whatever, I’ll do my best. I ain’t layin’ down an’ let the entire grade walk all over me,” I say, turnin’ to the TV. The news is blabberin’ about the Sports Festival, pickin’ their favorites. All those favorites? Completely 1-A kids. Most of them are choosin’ Bakugo as the winner, with a few votes towards Todoroki and Midoriya. We’re pretty much chopped liver to them. Ma watches it with me, shakin’ her head.

 

Ma complains, “Everyday, it’s all about them. There’s barely any talk about your class, let alone the General Course kids. They are so blind when it comes to heroic talent… especially yours.” “Blind” doesn’t cut close to it. There’s way too much focus on these 1-A punks, but the problem is: They can back it up. Against these kids, I ain’t much. What’s a blade to a living nuclear warhead?

 

“Ma, the news is like that. Remember last week with that dad? Inochi barely got any mention. It was all ‘bout that insane prick and his family bein’ sued to oblivion. The Tokages are gettin’ a shitton of heat for it,” I remind her about that fancy pancy gala. There’s even more shit too. There’s “Quirk Purists” all over the damn world that decided to protest against whatever this “Quirk engineering” is. “Our pure bodies, our pure Quirks” is their slogan. Hyper-religious folks too. They give Shiozaki a run for her money.

 

“Mhm, and language,” Ma scolds, waggin’ her finger. “World’s changing, Togaru, even if you can’t feel it. I’ve never seen so many things happening in such a short amount of time. Promise me-”

“That I’ll be a Hero, got it,” I butt in, knowin’ what she’ll say. I ain’t that bad of a son. Ma shakes her head and sighs, holdin’ my hands. She holds them tightly, not lettin’ go. “Ma, I know that look. What is it?”

 

She sighs, bowin’ her head down slightly. “Promise me that you’ll be safe. I know you’ll be a great Hero, but it’s dangerous. No one knows when Villains can attack, especially after the U.S.J. Incident. I care about you so much, Togaru. It worries me everyday that something bad’ll happen. I-”



“I got the message,” I mutter underneath my breath. Instinctively, I… uh… I hold Ma’s hands too, squeezin’ them as tight as I can. “Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, I can’t die even if I want to. I swear, my classmates will find a way to resurrect me, so they can torment me for the rest of my damn life.” Ma laughs, shakin’ her head at me. She-

 

Oh, would you look at that… The news has a picture of my class up. I let go of Ma’s hands, turnin’ towards the TV. A smug lookin’ bastard is there. A new guy, not the seven from before. He’s wearing a fancy blue suit, slick back hair, probably has makeup on, the typical asshole. I’d bet he’s pleasant on camera, but he’s a total dick outside of it. I already know what his opinion will be: Praise 1-A and fuck 1-B. It’s the same old shit.

 

“There is no possible way that 1-B can come close to 1-A. No. Possible. Way. Thank goodness that the majority of the team picked Bakugo as the winner, but to think that 1-B or the General Department students can match up to him and the rest of 1-A? No dice. Sure, there’s a few solid students out there, they aren’t much. 

 

Like what’s been said, Bakugo has no defined weaknesses, if you don’t count his aggressiveness, Todoroki has a Quirk that can overwhelm anyone, Iida can outrun any opponent, Midoriya’s power could end the fight in one punch, and plenty of other examples.

 

How about this: Let’s entertain the thought of 1-B for a second. Who do they have? What did these students do compared to 1-A? All they did was fight a General Course class, which is, arguably, one of the weakest opponents a Hero Course class could fight. So, why does it matter that a Quirkless boy fought them off? It means he’s not completely useless. Maybe the granddaughter of Master Kendo can do something. She can fight in close-combat, but what’s that to ice or explosions? That’s all she has.

 

What about the recommendations students? Juzo Honenuki and Setsuna Tokage. Honenuki could probably slow down a few guys, but there’s a ton of counters. There’s other Quirks that can alter the battlefield, better Quirks, so he isn’t that good. And then there’s Tokage, who is by far, one of the most hated students at the moment. I don’t need to go into her.

 

Oh right, what about the son of a serial killer? The only modern day killer that can rival Stain’s body count? I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t kill anyone today. I heard his attitude is quite rough, so I’d imagine him being disqualified. He has a good Quirk, but his mind isn’t in it. In my opinion, U.A. should rethink how they should pick its studen-”

 

Click!

 

Ma changes the channel to a cartoon. “Don’t… Don’t worry about him. He’s paid to say things like that. Remember what I told you? He’s blind. He doesn’t know true talent even if it slaps him across the face.”

 

“...What an asshole,” I mutter, glarin’ holes in the TV. Too bad that guy isn’t there anymore. I would run him through given the chance. Sure, he was paid to say shit like that. It’s called “satire” right? There’s always a bit of the truth in there, a bit of what they believe in. Ain’t afraid to speak their mind, that’s for sure. Ain’t afraid to run some kids down to the dirt for the sake of making “great” Pro Heroes. Like that fuckin’ helps everyone.

 

Ma says, “Togaru-”



What is it?” I snap, pointin’ at the fuckin’ TV. “That guy is the sole reason why everyone but my fuckin’ class hates me. ‘Cause of people like him, Lizard Head is bein’ shunned by damn near the entire school. Everyone thinks that we’re so fuckin’ weak just because we didn’t beat a few Villain’s heads in! That guy doesn’t know jack about us. I swear, if I hear he’s sayin’ shit ‘bout Pony, I’ll tear him a new one!”

 

Ma stares at me with her eyes wide open. Guess the “no swearin’” rule went out the fuckin’ window. But, for some reason, Ma smiles. “You’re so worked up that you started to defend your friends! I guess they really made an impression on you.”

 

“Like hell…” I mumble, lookin’ away a bit. Damn it, changin’ the subject like that... Fuck, is it me or is my face gettin’ warm? Can’t let her see it, or I’ll get teased to no fuckin’ end. “I can’t stand it when these guys are tellin’ lies an’ tryin’ to bully them. It ain’t right, but it doesn’t mean I’m all buddy-buddy with them.”

 

She asks with an annoyin’ cocky smirk, “Even Pony? You addressed her by name, not her nickname, her name . You’re not even the slightest of friends with this adorable girl?” Goddamnit, I know she’d bring Pony up!  I just…!

 

I try to explain, “That’s... That’s not the damn point. Pony is the annoyin’ girl who’s too freakin’ obsessed with me for her own good. I’d hardly call that ‘friends’, Ma-”

“I’m pretty sure your phone will disagree with you,” Ma responds, holdin’ my phone in her hands- Wait, how the hell did she get my phone?! That shoulda been in my pocket, right?! She either snatched it out or I left it lyin’ around somewhere! She doesn’t know my password though, thank God for that-

 

 

She shows me my screen. It’s a selfie that Pony took with me in the back. I was tryin’ to hide my face, but it didn’t work… Bein’ her annoyin’ self, she decided to set that as my wallpaper. I… I didn’t feel like gettin’ rid of it. Damn it, my face feels really damn hot now… There’s no hidin’ it now.


I walk over an’ snatch my phone from Ma’s hands, stuffin’ it in my pocket. “Don’t snoop on my phone! A-An’ that doesn’t prove shit! She’s still an irritatin’ girl that won’t leave me the hell alone! We’re not friends, an’ we’re sure as hell not datin’!”

 

“I didn’t say anything about dating. Aw, does my son have-?”

I shout at the top of my lungs, “Like hell he does- I mean, I do! For once, Ma, get off my back! I don’t have a stinkin’ crush on Pony! I already have to deal with this from Lizard Head an’ Quirkless! I don’t need this from ya!”

 

“I’m your mother. It’s my job to give you what you think you don’t need,” Ma replies, tossin’ me my backpack. I sling it around my shoulder, turnin’ away from this crazy woman. “One of these days, you’ll come back and thank me for dealing with you.”

 

“...Whatever. I-I’m goin’. Those reporters will see that I’ll be a damn good Hero whether they like it or not,” I tell her. Before I leave, Ma plants a kiss on my forehead, brushin’ my hair. I bat her hand away. “See ya later…”

 

“Make 1-B great, Togaru!”

 

“Eh.”

 

~~~

 

Neito Monoma

“Monoma. Kaibara. Is there a reason why you’re an hour early to school?” Mister Kan asks us, holding a warm cup of coffee in his hands. It smells freshly brewed out of the pot. But, for our teacher and mentor, shouldn’t Mister Kan be proud that we’re early? Especially on today of all days? Of course he should, but the sleepiness in Mister Kan must be talking.

 

I answer, “Simple. Planning 1-A’s defeat.” I gesture over to Kaibara, who’s downing a shot of espresso, shivering at the aftertaste. “Kaibara came along to make sure I don’t cheat or do anything unhonorable.”

 

Kaibara yawns adorably, nodding. “Yeah, I also came along to make sure no one would do anything to Tokage’s belongings. I didn’t want to have a repeat of last week.”

 

“Mhm, you and Kendo almost punched Inochi. Those General Department students are lucky he came along,” I add on, remembering that time. These bullies would have wrote things that no person should hear. And these people call themselves students at U.A.. It’s absolutely shameful, but there’s nothing I can do to change it unfortunately. It’s the life of an heiress: seeing the consequences of her father’s actions in the world.

 

Mister Kan huffs, shaking his head. “What a mess… Thank you though, Kaibara. I can only do so much as a teacher. Whenever you, or Monoma, catch something like that again, be sure to tell me.”

 

“I will,” Kaibara promises, turning to me with a slight scowl. Ohoho, what did I do to deserve that look?  “Speaking of Inochi, why didn’t you invite him here too? You know that Inochi doesn’t sleep.”

 

I reply, knowing Inochi is stuck with Kendo, “Well-”

 

Mister Kan cuts in. “Wait, ‘too’? Who else did you bring-?”

 

“Us!” Tetsutetsu shouts with a clenched fist, walking inside with Kuroiro. There’s the two men of the hour! They sit beside us. Mister Kan deeply sighs and takes a large sip of coffee. “Mister Kan! Ready to show those big-headed 1-A that we’re better than them?! I’m more than ready!” (“I am also here,” Kuroiro quietly says, not bothering to bring attention to himself.)

 

“Let me have my coffee first, then we can talk,” Mister Kan tells us. He sits down at his desk and opens his laptop. On that note, I turn to my fellow classmates with the best devious smile I can muster. 

 

“So men!” I start the session, standing up and marching to the chalkboard. “Thanks to the kind and terribly honest media, they did research on 1-A, allowing us time to plot and scheme! I wrote down their Quirks and their descriptions, but some of them are a bit vague. Specifically, Midoriya’s Quirk.”



I write down its name, “Super-Power”, circling it for an added gesture. This… This is the most useless Quirk name in all of history. It’s the stupidest, the most idiotic, and everything in between. “Do any of you have any theories to Midoriya’s Quirk? We know it enhances his strength at the cost of his limbs.”

 

“There has to be something much more fiendish, more troubling about this Quirk. It cannot be just pure power. I seen the boy drifting around the school a few times. It seems like he knows this as well,” Kuroiro offers his insight. That must be a certainty. The name conveys vagueness and provides an unclear description of Midoriya’s Quirk. Maybe that’s his game? Behind that nerdy persona of his… is a calculating man who’s thinking ten steps ahead. By having a vague name, he can keep us, his foes, guessing in competitive events like this! Is that the true face of this seemingly puppy-faced boy?!

 

Tetsutetsu adds in his two cents, “Yeah! It’s really damn similar to All Might’s Quirk, and we don’t even know what that is! Maybe we should ask him, and not take ‘no’ for an answer!” As much as I would like to ask All Might, I’m not sure if he’s in the building, but Tetsutetsu brings up an interesting point. Midoriya’s Quirk is pretty similar to All Might’s, without the limb-destroying capabilities… Maybe…

 

“Maybe they have the same Quirk. It explains why 1-A is All Might’s favorite class, and he’s always checking up on Midoriya,” Kaibara inputs, kicking his feet up on his desk. That makes sense, but metaology states that no two people can have the same Quirk unless they’re biologically related. If, somehow, Midoriya is All Might’s son, then it’ll make sense. 

 

“Hmm...” I write their ideas down on the board. Afterwards, I ponder, tapping the chalk against my chin. I think out loud, “If All Might and Midoriya are related, then it would be the best possible answer. But, they don’t look alike, so that can’t be a possibility. Hypothetically, there might be a Quirk that can give Quirks to others. I heard similar rumors on deep recesses of the internet, but those are just that: Rumors based on nothing.”

“Hmph, that is a far-fetched theory. It’s best we believe that All Might’s and Midoriya’s Quirk are different from one another, but similar enough in the way that he became his mentor,” Kuroiro says, pulling out pen and paper. He’s right. Squandering our time about hypotheticals is the worst thing we can do. We can only assume that their Quirks are similar in nature.

 

Tetsutetsu speaks up, “Hey! I wanna ask you guys something ‘bout Kirishima! My Quirk is better than his, right?! I’m solid steel, while he makes himself hard like rock! So, who’s harder?! Am I hard?!”

 

Don’t… laugh… Please, I can’t laugh…

 

Kaibara answers him with a straight face, “Yeah, I like how hard you are, Tetsutetsu.” 

 

“Pffffft! Hahahahaha!”

 

“You people are like children…”

 

“Thanks Kaibara!

 

“No problem.”

 

I beg them, “Please stop! My stomach can’t take much more! Hahahaha!” Mister Kan gets up from his desk and forces me to sit down. He shakes his head in disappointment, but I just can’t stop laughing! Why did Kaibara say that?! It’s like he wanted to see me die of laughter! 

 

After a good minute, I exhausted my ability to laugh. My throat and chest hurts, but I needed that. Kaibara gives me a wink when I stop, making my heart skip a beat. Tetsutetsu, being an innocent man, looks completely determined to be the hardest man in the world, while the dark, brooding Kuroiro is quietly writing something. Mister Kan clears his throat and turns his laptop towards us.

 

On there is a news broadcast with comments off to the side from people around Japan. Oh, I recognize this. This is the channel primarily focused the news and gossip of Hero students. Ever since U.S.J., ninety-five percent of its content has been all 1-A. The other five percent is us or the General Courses. Schools other than U.A. are lucky to even get a mention, like Shiketsu. It seems like the recent topic was 1-B considering how the comments are mostly about us.

 

“Tokage should quit and leech off of daddy’s money.”

“A Quirkless winning is a big joke.”

“I’m betting yen on Kamakiri getting disqualified.”

“I’m on #TeamBakugo! 1-B will get demolished!”

 

There’s plenty of more comments that show no faith in us, most of them being about Tokage, Inochi, and Kamakiri. It makes sense, considering those three are famous for the wrong reasons. Does the media cover how much of a progedic genius Tokage is? No, they focus on the fact that her father ruined a family’s livelihood and life. Do they cover how much Inochi trained his body day and night to reach his dream? No, they hold prejudice against the Quirkless individuals. What about how Kamakiri drives himself to be better than his father ever could be? Of course not! They only see him for his father’s evils.

 

Mister Kan makes sure we see his laptop. There’s a stone cold look in his eyes that could cut steel. “You want to know why I want our class be better than 1-A? This. This is why. Let me be honest and tell you this as a Pro Hero, no crap. There’s two things in the world: Villains and the public. Out of the two, the public is worse. So, it’s imperative that you and your class get them on your side. If not, your lives won’t be that good… That’s… That’s all I have to say.”

 

Mister Kan takes his laptop and goes back to whatever he was doing before. The four of us, mere teenagers, exchange glances with one another. This is the state of our world. It almost makes one question their own motivation to be a Hero, fighting for a society who doesn’t want them. Almost. 

 

“Monoma, do you care about them?” Kaibara asks. That is a great question. Do I care about “them”?

 

I give him my answer. “No, I care about us, who cares about them, caring about their perfect molds of what a Hero should be. Not a hero, but a Hero . Tell me, Kaibara... You too, Tetsutetsu and Kuroiro. Does a hero truly worry, wasting their thoughts on what a few faceless people think about them? Criticizing every mistake, ignoring every success? No! Of course not! 

 

But, as a Hero, these faceless people is a necessary evil to embrace. Do what they say, be what they want. ‘Bending the knee’, you might think. However, it’s a necessity to sacrifice some of one’s pride to fulfill one’s duty. And as a Hero, that duty is: Saving those who need saving, and punish those who need punishing. All Might’s words, correct? The sole image of what a Hero should be, and what a true hero is.

 

That’s why we have to- No, we must upstage 1-A. Let us, 1-B, bathe in the limelight. Do you understand me, you three?”

Tetsutetsu slams the side of his fist against his chest, tearing up. “I-I understand! We have to make everyone love us, s-so we can be true heroes like All Might! Right, M-Monoma? We gotta do that?”

 

“That’s what he says,” Kaibara answers him for me, smiling at my speech. “1-A is our obstacle, so beating them today achieves just that.”

 

Kuroiro nods, saying, “Yes, to show 1-A the true power of 1-B, that is our goal. They’ll feel the abyss of the hidden one masked in the dark, especially the one who calls himself… Tokoyami.” It seems we’re all in accord!

 

I tell everyone, “Well, let’s talk more about 1-A then, shall we?” 

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

“I never liked these people. It always bothered me that they would go out of their way to insult kids,” Grandpa comments, watching this same old crap. I’m way too tired to deal with yet another person thinking our class is the worst, and I’m sure Inochi is more tired than I am. “You know, Itsuka, your grandmother would call these people personally and… How do I put this lightly… Verbally slaughter them. That sounds like it.”

 

Huh… Grandpa doesn’t talk about Grandma much. Mom notices it too. I ask him, “Speaking of her, what was she like? You rarely talk about Grandma Tatemi.” He smiles and chuckles, laying back peacefully in his chair.

 

“An angel that can kick your ass. I’m not sure if you know, but her Quirk was Transmutation. She can touch something and turn her skin into that. If she touched iron, she became it,” Grandpa tells me. It’s a lot like Mom’s Quirk actually. Instead of her changing her own body, she can change other objects. She could literally change anything into gold if she has it, which she isn’t allowed to do because the economy would crash.

 

“She was also the best mom in the world, honey. Other than me, of course,” Mom adds, laughing with Grandpa. She rubs his head and sits down. “Whenever I was sad, she would always take us out for mochi. No matter the time, even if it’s in the morning, she would do it. Sometimes, Aunt Nana would join us too, always rubbing my hair.”

 

Mom looks down slightly, a tear forming in her eyes. I already want to meet Grandma already… She sounds so sweet, and Aunt Nana too, even though this is the first time I heard of her. “Who’s Aunt Nana? Was she one of Grandma’s friends?” I ask, trying not to pry too hard.

 

Grandpa nods, putting a hand to his mouth. He doesn’t seem too happy now… I always had a feeling that Grandma was a sore topic, but maybe Aunt Nana was the same way? “She was one of my classmates in U.A., which is how I met Tatemi. They passed away a long time ago. They were the best two Pros out there…”

 

“Y-Yeah… Anyway, let’s not talk about them or else I’ll gonna sob uncontrollably,” Mom jokes, wiping her tears away while she laughs. At times like these, I have no idea what to say. Mom’s and Grandpa’s worlds were so different back then. I wish I could say something to cheer them up, but I’ll come off as patronizing and rude.

 

“Well,” Inochi butts in, putting down a tray of three coffee mugs on the table, “there’s nothing like coffee to start up a new conversation. Am I right?” There’s the bringer of good tidings. He passes each of us our nice, warm cups of coffee. I take a sip, and yup… It’s one of the best things in the world. “So, the news is going on about the same thing, right?” he asks.

 

“Yup,” Mom answers after taking a big sip. “These people are trashing you, Sanji. I don’t get why they feel the need to say things like that when they can’t even measure up to you. They aren’t the ones who are risking their lives everyday. It makes no sense, but that’s how the world works, I’m afraid.”

 

“Eh, I don’t care,” Inochi replies, sitting next to me. “Hate me, love me, it doesn’t matter. I’m doing whatever it takes to be a Hero, simple as that. That’s why we’ve been training like crazy, right Master Kendo?”

“Yup, and it scares me,” Grandpa admits, laughing like an insane old man. “I never thought you and Itsuka could break a U.A. training dummy. You’re more than ready for the Sports Festival, but you’ll have to try to beat Midoriya though. He’s a dangerous man.”

 

“No kidding,” I say, gently holding my mug close to my chest. “From how he punched Suzuki through a concrete wall, he could turn us into paste. But, that’s not gonna stop me from beating the hell outta him. Inochi too. I know I can beat him since he holds back.”

 

Inochi has a betrayed look on his face, defending himself, “I don’t want to kill you! My katana isn’t meant for knocking people out!” 

 

“Which is why I’ll win! Compared to me, you suck at hand-to-hand combat, which happens to be the only way you can fight me. Let’s hope we aren’t fighting each other today,” I tease him. He pouts and looks away slightly.

 

He mumbles, “I thought you wanted to help me, not destroy me.” Inochi crosses his arms and puffs his cheeks up. For some reason, I want to pull them. He really is a cute man, but Tokage would tease me to no end if I admitted that.

 

I say, smiling and nudging his arm, “I am, unless we’re pitted against each other. I gotta bring home another first place medal to this house.” Dad won his first Sports Festival, so naturally, I have to win mine. Like father, like daughter, that’s for sure. Midoriya and Ojiro won’t get in my way. Hopefully, the Sports Festival would let Inochi show off how much of a badass he is and let me be the winner. If not, then Operation Samurai Heart would be a little… complicated. (Why did I let Tokage pick the name?)

 

“Heh, I know you will…” Inochi replies, giving me his a nice smile. It’s a great smile, but really ? Why does he keep acting like this? That’s basically saying he gave up on beating me! That he won’t try his damn best to win! I appreciate his faith in me, but seriously...

 

I groan, ready to throw my last bits of coffee in his face. “Where’s your confidence? Your competitiveness? You can’t be this much of a selfless idiot forever, Inochi!” He turns to me and puts his hands up defensively.

 

“I’m pretty sure he won’t grow out of it. It’s been, what? Seven or eight months since he got here?” Mom remarks, giggling. She puts her mug down on the tray. “You have to admit, honey… It’s his best trait.”

 

“Or his most annoying trait…” I grumble, finishing the rest of my coffee. Even though I’m not happy with him at the moment, he makes the best coffee. “Thanks for the coffee, you bonehead.”

 

“You’re welcome?” Inochi questions, but I’m not gonna bother to answer. He scratches the back of his head, turning to Mom and Grandpa. “So… uhm… Master Kendo, I’m assuming that you won’t give us internships? I forgot if you still have a hero agency…”

 

Grandpa shakes his head. “Nope, retired. The only thing left is Hayami’s support company. Sorry kids, but you have to intern with another Pro. Maybe that Grandmaster? You met that detective a lot.”

 

“Hopefully… If not, I can always go with one of the forty apprenticeships. It would make me feel a lot better if I did get one,” Inochi says, putting on his thinking face for a second. Must be thinking about apprenticeships, probably.

 

“Hey Sanji, can I ask something about Tokage?” Mom asks him. Inochi doesn’t respond. A few slow seconds go by, and he’s still in his little world. How long is it gonna take this time? “Hmph. Do you think we should leave? I wanna find out how long it takes until he realizes that we’re gone.”

 

Grandpa says with a smirk, “We might as well move into a new home. He’ll be old as me once he finds out-”

Inochi comes back to the real world. He asks, being an absent-minded numbskull, “Find out about what? What’s going on?” He looks at me for help, but I shake my head. Annnd he’s worried.

 

“I asked you about Tokage. How is she? I know it’s been tough ever since what happened at the gala. And… you know… How everyone is reacting about it and all,” Mom tells him, getting quiet in the end. Yeah… everyone is reacting to it. It’s like our entire image at U.A. just changed in an instant. Especially with Tokage. She’s known as the daughter of the man who ruined a family’s life, which she had no hand in. There’s no use trying to argue with these jerks. Maybe the Sports Festival could make everyone forget about that...

 

Inochi sighs and looks down. “She’s struggling. I can’t count how many stink eyes we got last week, or the amount of comments we overheard. It’s not the best time for her, and especially not for our class. Except for 1-A or the teachers, the entire school is against us. Midoriya and Ojiro said that they’ll support us, but it seems like they’re living in a completely different world.”

 

“Yeah,” I say, trying my best to not look at that stupid TV. “Just last week, I almost punched two assholes for almost vandalising Tokage’s locker. Inochi had to stop me, and Kaibara too. Mister Kan can’t do anything about it too! He can’t just punish the entire school, or have an assembly on no bullying because that’ll make everything worse! It was like Inochi back in middle school. How did you deal with it?”

 

Inochi looks up and smiles his bright, usual smile. He says, in a soft voice, “You’d get used to it.” Mom and Grandpa exchange a worried glance with each other. I think I look worried too… His face doesn’t match his tone…

 

“I know this isn’t the best thing ever, but let’s try to stay happy. We can’t get down on today, of all days,” Inochi tells us, and he’s right… Right as always. He stands up and slings his backpack around him. “Come on, we better get to school early. Tetsutetsu texted me that he’s with Monoma, so they’re definitely up to something.”

 

“Alright,” I say, standing up with him. Mom gives me my backpack, putting a hand on my shoulder for a second or two. I turn to Inochi and ask, “So, we’re supposed to meet at the Sports Festival Stadium right?”

 

“Yeah, that’s where everyone will be at.” Inochi answers. Mom kisses my forehead and brushes Inochi’s hair. Grandpa sits in his chair and holds his mug up.

 

“Good luck you two. It’s safe to say that both of you are the best martial artists in your entire grade, so kick their butts. I’ll be cheering you on from here,” Grandpa wishes us, taking a big swig from his mug.

 

Mom smiles, saying, “Mhm, make us proud. Itsuka, take care of Sanji. And Sanji, make sure Itsuka brings home the gold.” 

 

“We will, Mom,” I promise her. Inochi nods, being the first one to the door. He opens it and lets me go outside first. “Thanks, you’re such a gentleman,” I sarcastically compliment him, but he goes along with it and does a little bow.

 

“My lady,” he says, taking off his invisible hat. Always so goofy… That gala definitely changed him. Watch, he’ll start asking for sparkling peach cider or whatever it’s called. (That sounds like a rich drink, right?) Anyway, we go outside, and start walking towards school.

 

~~~

 

Sanji Inochi

“Inochi! Tell me, do you know what Midoriya’s Quirk is? He trains at your dojo, am I right? And don’t say, ‘Ask Kendo’ because I know she won’t answer me,” Monoma asks me right outside the locker room. He was waiting for me... (This explains why Tetsutetsu texted me, in all caps, “WHAT THE HELL IS MIDORIYA’S QUIRK?!?!?!?” I felt like I could hear him through the text…)

 

“No, yes, and I understand. Did you guys really try and figure this out?” I ask him, scratching the back of my head. 

 

Monoma nods and answers me, “We did, but to no avail. It seems we have to anticipate everything when it comes to him. Thank you for answering though. Now, let’s get ready for the festival, shall we?”

 

“Yup-”

 

“Motherfucker…” Kamakiri mutters under his breath, walking up to the both of us. I sure hope he isn’t talking about one of us. To make sure, I greet him with a slight upwards nod. He doesn’t react. Well, that sucks. “What the hell is up with all these fuckin’ kids?! One of them fuckin’ insulted Horns! Called her a ‘big-eyed freak’! I swear to fuckin’ God, I almost lobbed his head off if she wasn’t there.”

 

“Awfully protective of her, huh Kamakiri?” Monoma asks with a smug smile. It all starts with that smile. After that, Kamakiri will get defensive and say that she’s too innocent, but we both know that he’s fond of her.

 

“Goddamnit, not this again, Broadway. She’s way too innocent for her own good. Doesn’t fuckin’ help that she keeps latchin’ onto me…” Kamakiri says exactly what I was thinking. To help Monoma, I put on the same smug smile. “Why the fuck are you two smilin’ like that?”

 

“No reason,” Monoma and I reply in perfect unison. Kamakiri looks absolutely annoyed. He pushes us to the side and goes into the locker room, huffing and puffing. There’s no hiding the fact that he thinks of us as friends. 

 

“Come on, Monoma, let’s get ready,” I tell him, following Kamakiri. We go inside and it’s the exact same from the one in the main building. One of the differences is the contents. In each locker is a new gym uniform (because some of us like tearing them) and any equipment that we requested. I requested my katana, wakizashi, tanto, and my two bracers because I’m useless without them. (I could do without my wakizashi and tanto, but it’s nice to have extra weapons.) Awase got his bag of metal logs and Kodai can use her little bag of tricks.

 

And with that, I start stripping my clothes off, my top first. Manga walks in with his head down with a weird, gray swirl expression? Can’t really describe it, but he’s not happy. “Hey Manga. How’s Shojo?”

 

“Awful. She forced me to read some of her sad mangas… I’m all out of tears, man… I hate her Quirk,” Manga tells me. That’s right, Shojo’s Quirk is Mangaka. Whenever she draws a scene or a picture, she’s able to force that specific emotion out of someone. For example, if she draws a sad scene, then tears would be shed. 

 

“Sorry to hear that. Let’s hope your head’s in the game,” I try to cheer him up, but he shrugs. Man, crying took a lot outta him, huh?

 

“Hopefully,” Manga says, opening his locker, “it doesn’t really matter if I win this or not. Grandmaster said he’ll pick me to intern under him, so my job’s already done.” Eh?! He is?! So I am right! Grandmaster, Manga, and Shojo already met each other before! The question is: What did Manga do get an internship?

 

“Wait, what Manga?!” Tetsutetsu barges into the conversation. Literally, barging in and getting uncomfortably close to Manga, who manages to stay silent surprisingly. I don’t think he has in him to scream. “You already got an internship?! How?! What did ya do to make Grandmaster like you?!”

 

“L-Long story…” Manga whimpers, putting his head back. “Can… Can you also back up, Tetsutetsu? Y-You’re way too close…”

 

“Yeah sure!” Tetsutetsu backs up where he isn’t invading someone’s personal space. He exclaims with a beaming smile, “You’re so damn lucky, Manga! You better learn something with Grandmaster and Count, you hear me?!” Manga simply nods without saying anything, letting Tetsutetsu go back to his locker.

 

Okay, now I change into my gym clothes. I strap my two bracers on. Left is grappling hook, right is crossbow. Then, my three blades. Let’s hope they don’t fly off unexpectedly, because that would be a shame. There, I’m ready. I announce to everyone in the room, “Remember to meet in 1-B’s waiting room when you’re done!”

 

“Got it, vice prez.”

“Alright, Quirkless.”

“You can trust me.”

“Don’t trust Monoma.”

“You betcha, bro!”

 

I leave, following the signs to wherever this waiting room’s at. Let’s hope this stadium isn’t a maze like the main building. Along the way there, Awase and Shoda pass by me. We acknowledge each other with a simple upwards nod and smile before we go our separate ways. Then, after a while, there’s a particular man who’s leaning against a wall: Katsuki Bakugo, the man of the news. A lot of people think he’ll be the winner of today’s Sports Festival, but he hasn’t met Kendo yet.

 

He looks up, sees me, and scoffs. “Knock-off Deku, What the hell are you doing here?” Bakugo gets off of the wall and walks up to me with his hands in his pockets. Heh, this is the first time we formally met. He’s explosive as rumors said. (I’m still a little confused as to why he’s calling me “Deku”.) 

 

“Same reason as you: fighting in the Sports Festival,” I tell him, backing up a little because he’s a bit too close for comfort. “Everyone said that you’ll be the winner, but you don’t know our class that well. Especially, the class rep. She’s a lot stronger than you think.”

 

“Like hell she is,” Bakugo growls and gets close to me again. God, does he want me to feel uncomfortable? “You, and your shitty class can stay where they’re at, being irrelevant, shitty extras. I don’t fucking care that your sorry guts are hated by the world ‘cuz of that Hifumi chick. Y’know why? Because everyone be focused on me, the winner. You got that, White’n’Black?”

 

I take another step back away from this crazy man. He’s a lot like Suzuki though, when I think about it. I reply, crossing my arms, “Well, I know I’m not gonna win the Sports Festival. It’s impossible from how amazing everyone is, and how I’m at a severe disadvantage. But, that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hardest. All I have to prove… All I have to prove is I could be a great Hero, like you, like Midoriya, like everyone in our classes.”

 

“Hmph, good. Better not get in my fucking way then, else I’ll speed up your inevitable defeat. See you ‘round, White’n’Black. Tell Big Fists or whatever that she’s gonna lose,” Bakugo says, walking away to who knows where. But, it seems like I calmed him down… somehow. I shouldn’t worry about it. I survived my first encounter with him, so that’s an achievement in itself.

 

I take a deep breath in and continue on my way. On my way to wait for my Sports Festival… Crap though… It hasn’t set in that I’m in one! I used to watch it by myself, being amazed at how many cool Quirks there were. It was amazing, like I’m seeing future Pro Heroes in action! At the time, being on the field seemed like a pipe dream… Yet, here I am. It’s not… It’s not the most favorable of circumstances, but I’m here. It’s a big job though: showing the world that I’m not useless. Specifically, showing all of U.A.’s investors that I have the potential to be a great Hero. Mister Tokage already believes in me, so I need to get the rest of them on board. 

 

All these sleepless nights led up to this very moment. I can’t disappoint Kendo and all my friends now. I worked too hard to lose this chance. It’s incredibly selfish to think like this, trying to get attention. It’s not like me.  I can feel my head telling me to stop, but it’s a necessity. 

 

I have to do it.

 

I have to, no matter what.

 

***

 

“Everyone listen!” Monoma stands in the middle of the room. We’re seated around him, and for some reason… This feels like we’re summoning a demon. I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but Monoma definitely seems like a demon. In a good way, of course. (I’m certain that Shiozaki will “debate” me on whether demons are sometimes good or not.)

 

I look over to Kendo, who’s sitting across from me. She doesn’t look like she’ll knock out Monoma again, but it also doesn’t look like she’ll listen to what he’ll say. She catches me looking at her though, and smiles. I smile back, going back to the demon at hand. He starts his speech.

 

“Friends, today is a pivotal day in our journeys. Today is where we’re fighting our first battle against 1-A, the very class that selfishly bathes in the spotlight, wholly undeserving of it! Tell me, should the class who so arrogantly be called the winner in every news station, be the winner because they coincidentally got attacked? No! 

 

Today, we, the class who completely deserves the shine of the stars, will win! It can’t be ignored of our amazing feats already! We have the first Quirkless man to ever enter the Hero Course! A Villain’s son who’s determined to better than his father! A woman who’s fighting to be great or even greater than her father! The daughter of a billionaire who seeks life in heroism! Me, a man who can’t be the hero of the world’s story, but willing to be the support. And especially, the rest of you. 

 

I can’t express how the rest of you are just as important as Bakugo or Todoroki. Even though you may be born to average families, have an average Quirk, you’re just as important or even more so! Remember, you are the stars of your own light, your own story. No one, other than you can follow it. Simply, we’re your side characters. Bakugo, Todoroki, Midoriya, they’re your side characters, don’t forget that! They don’t rule your story! They merely influence it! So, let them influence you to victory! You are truly your own! So, let’s show that to them! To 1-A!”

 

We exclaim together, “Yeah!” All of us raise our hands, being one. Heh, that is one of the greatest speeches in my entire life. Kendo has to admit that she's raising her hand too. Monoma smiles and spins around to catch every one of our faces. I hope he feels like a protagonist, because that speech was definitely like one. 

 

After a few seconds, Monoma laughs to himself and sits down in between Shoda and Yanagi. It’s Kendo’s turn to get up. She motions me to stand up with her… Crap, I can’t top that speech, but her orders are absolute. I get up from my chair, standing with her. First thing I declare is, “Okay, I’m not sure why Kendo wants me up here, but I can’t top Monoma’s speech. Saying that, don’t expect one from m-Ow!”

 

Kendo just punched my shoulder! She shoots me a quick pout before turning to the rest of the class. “He’s right, by the way. I can’t top that, but I… I just wanted to thank all of you. Even Monoma and his dramatic antics or this doofus right besides me. Hehe, anyway… You guys have been amazing friends and uh… even better teammates. I just wanna say that, whatever happens out there, let’s have fun and kick ass. Sorry for my language, Shiozaki, but I had to say it.” 

 

We laugh, even Shiozaki. She waves her curse away with a smile. Kendo nudges me with her elbow, gesturing that I need to say something. 

 

“Alright, guess that’s my turn to say something! Well, what the heck should I say? Everyone here is just… great! I didn’t expect how we became such quick friends! And, I know this might bring down the mood, but I didn’t have much friends growing up. So, thank you for being the best. Whatever the world thinks of us, they can go screw themselves! We have each other, and that’s what matters. We’ll be the best Heroes whether they like it or not.”

 

Everyone cheers again and puts their hands up. They’re all smiling… Each and every one of them… Even with everything that’s going on, the hate, the bullying, we’re still smiling. I… I can’t ask for better friends…

 

Tokage suddenly jumps out of her seat. “Did anyone say, ‘group hug’?!” Without waiting for an answer, she runs up and almost tackles me off of my feet. Before I know it, everyone else joins in.

 

“Hell yeah!”

“Bro hug!”

“Might as well.”

“I-I’m a little too big, but I-I’ll try!”

“Come on, Kamakiri! Join in!”
“No-”

“Do it, or I’ll cry!”

“Fine…”

“Let’s go 1-B!”

 

I’m stuck in the middle, being squished against Kendo and Tokage. I can’t even move my arms from how close together we are! Oh jeez, I think Rin’s yelling that someone’s stepping on his toes. Komori, somehow, is being lifted up in the air like a popstar. And I think Awase accidentally kissed someone. Oh my God, this is such a mess!

 

I laugh from the bottom of my heart, “Hahahaha!”

 

“Inochi…” Kendo calls me, her head forcibly being pressed against my back. She sounds like she was about to scold me, but she starts laughing too. I’m not sure if it’s her arms around me, but it’s nice. “This is a disaster! What the hell am I going to do with you guys?”

 

“Love us!”

“You’re great, Kendo!”

“Something hard is poking me!”

“That’s Inochi’s sword.”

 

“Hey, Mister Kan! Aren’t you joining in?” Tokage exclaims while she’s trying to climb on me. Her head pokes out just enough where she can see Mister Kan. He’s standing at the doorway, shaking his head with a smile.

 

“I’ll pass. I have to say though: You kids are a mess…” he comments, slowly approaching us. God, how is he going to order this pile of bodies around? “You have ten minutes until we have to go out. Wrap… whatever this is and meet me outside.”

 

“Alright! We’ll keep hugging for long as we can, thank you very much!” Tokage replies, hugging me a lot tighter. I try my best to hug back despite the knots of limbs all around me. Heh, Tokage is so clingy to me… If I had a sister, I want it to be exactly like her. 

 

Man, I… I honestly can’t describe how I’m feeling. It’s like everything is so clear now. My chest feels so warm and fuzzy. And… And I feel like I would do anything for my friends. I felt like that before, but this seems so much more rampant, so vibrant. I want them… I want them to be happy, and reach their dreams. Every one of them.

 

***

 

“HERO COURSE! CLASS 1-B!” Present Mic introduces us. We step out onto the field, marching on the stunningly green grass. To our left is Class 1-A, which some of us decide to shoot some dirty looks at them. Monoma exclaims that they’re “our enemy”, which prompts Kendo to smack him across the head. “Our enemy” has some of our friends in it. Like Midoriya! He’s a great guy. 


The crowd… The crowd though… Most of them are booing. They’re yelling profanities at us. Eraserhead gets on the microphone and yells everyone to simmer down or get kicked out. The booing immediately stops and everything gets eerily quiet. At least the Pro Heroes side of the stadium didn’t boo. It would have been incredibly unprofessional, and it means we have a chance at internships. 

 

Kendo tells everyone to “keep cool” as we approach the stage where Midnight’s at. (I keep close to Tokage, making sure she’s alright.) We stop and gather ourselves next to 1-A. The rest of the classes are introduced: General Courses, Support Department, and Management. 

 

Shojo couldn’t make it here, unfortunately. She’s in 1-H if I believe, but since she’s a shut-in, she’s not participating. Manga told me that the school lets her take her classes online, thankfully. (It’s weird though. It seems like Shojo isn’t a shut-in because she’s a nerdy woman, but from something else.)

 

Anyway, 1-D’s near us now. I can practically feel Suzuki staring holes into me. He’ll be something to worry about, whatever we’re doing today. And… The other classes… I think they’re whispering about us and 1-A. I definitely heard Tokage’s name… Yeah, it’s been like this for a week. Poor Hifumi… From rumors, she’s locked herself in her home from everything that happened. Because of… everything, the public and most of the school absolutely loathes us.

 

After a minute or two of waiting, Midnight starts the explanation. (I have to ask though: Why is she the umpire of the first-years? It seems a little more than inappropriate, but this is Japan, so I shouldn’t be questioning it.)

 

She explains a little bit about the Sports Festival with the same speech as years before. Then, she takes the representative of the first-years: Bakugo, up to the stage. From whispers, he was picked because he scored first in the Entrance Exam. Makes sense. Anyway, he makes a pledge. He pledges to-

 

BOOOOOOOOO!!!

 

To be number one… Yeah, of course he would say that. Most of my class, and mostly everyone here is booing him. (Thank God that no one is focusing on us.) He walks down without a change in emotion or face, letting Midnight take the stage again. After everyone’s settled down, she introduces the first game: The obstacle course. Four kilometers around the stadium. I can’t go out of bounds, and that’s it. Everyone else is allowed.

 

A gate opens with red and green lights, and with a small metal hall. The other classes sprint towards it, but we simply walk at a brisk pace.Once we reach the gate, Monoma stops us again. I can feel sound returning to my ears finally. Everyone was so loud…

 

Monoma looks like he has a plan. “I have a plan! For this obstacle course, we ought to hang back and observe 1-A’s Quirks from a distance and place low in the qualifiers. That way, like a hawk swooping its prey, we can take the win from 1-A in the next round. What do all of you say? Are you with me?” One by one, my friends nod.

 

“I’ll pass,” Honenuki says, stepping up against the crowd. “I’d rather let loose here, Monoma. My Quirk is really good at slowing down large crowds. It’ll be hilarious seeing everyone trying to get out of my mud!” He cackles, jittering his teeth.

 

“I’ll pass as well,” Shiozaki steps up with him. “Your plan is deceitful, and thus, I will not go along with it. I wish to win with fairness on all sides.” Well, looks like these two will pass. For me, I don’t feel strongly to Monoma’s plan one way or the othe-

 

“Inochi will pass,” Kendo announces what?! Did she really choose for me?! She, from behind, forces me to stand with Shiozaki and Honenuki. “Like Honenuki, he has let it all out. Everyone needs to see how good he is.”

 

“Yup! We’re forcing him to go on his own whether he likes it or not!” Tokage joins in, pushing me too. “Don’t worry, Monoma. Kendo and I will go along with your plan. It sounds like solid, considering we outclass most of the guys here.”

 

Monoma nods and smiles. “In that case, best of luck to the three of you. If you need help, we’ll be there. We won’t abandon you.” We nod… God, this took a turn. I won’t be with Kendo, or Tokage, or anyone! But, it’s necessary. I need to impress the world, so this is good for me… For me…

 

Alright… Honenuki, Shiozaki, and I go deeper into the crowd. I end up losing sight of them, getting lost in this massive crowd of people. Silently, I look up at the gate and wait for the green lights to turn off.

 

Waiting, with an uncountable number of opponents around me.

 

One light down.

 

Waiting, with a pressure so great, that I might as well carry an entire ocean on my shoulders.

 

Two lights.

 


Waiting, with all my friends behind me. I’m alone. Much like the Entrance Exam, I’m alone. The itching thought of “I won’t stay with my friends” digs at my mind, but I shake it away. No matter what, I’ll stay with them. I’ll stay, and be a great Hero, no matter what!

 

Three lights.

 

“START!”

 

I run.

Chapter Text

Sanji Inochi

Okay! Who the heck decided it was a good idea to jam pack us all into this hot metal container of death?! Crap! This is like the group hug, but a hundred times worse! Focus, focus Sanji! First thing to do: Know where I am! I’m facing towards the exit, to the obstacle course. That’s my way out, and I won’t be able to reach there without being stomped over. But luckily, that entrance has edges! I’ll be able to latch my grappling hook on there!

 

Struggling, pushing everyone near me away, I throw my arms up in the air. For support, I step on someone’s leg and use my right hand to lift me up high, just high enough that I can fire cleanly. I can hear them yelling at me, but everyone’s yelling at this point! We’re all yelling! Doesn’t matter, can’t be myself distracted!

 

I aim my grappling hook at the left edge, but it’s like trying to shoot something during an earthquake. I have the target locked though. Okay, let’s hope no one tries to jump in my way! I fire!

 

CLINK!

CLASP!

 

It fires true. Alright, let’s get the heck out of here! 

 

ZIIIIP!

I fly towards the exit! About three seconds or so into the flight, I unlatch the hook, letting the momentum soar me through the air unbothered. It feels great up here! I can finally breathe my own air again! Anyway, back to the task at hand! Getting out of the chokepoint is a bit risky, since I’m heading towards a wall, but I should narrowly miss it. Just gotta aim my body a little bit away, without slowing down or getting hit with-?!

 

FREEZE!

 

Todoroki?! Crap! In an instant, he froze half of the chokepoint! Even outside too! Everyone got pushed out onto his ice, slipping and falling everywhere! And for me, I’m heading straight into a cloud of freezing mist! I cross my arms, guarding my face from it! I get closer, and my entire body is enveloped in it! My heart stops for a brief second from the sudden shock. I could feel my hair freezing, and my clothes becoming glued to my skin. So cold, but it definitely woke me up!

 

I emerge from it, high in the air! It’s a much better position than everyone else at the below me. Bad news though: There’s other people who’re in the air with me, like Yaoyorozu, Bakugo, Aoyama, and a few others. Luckily for me, they’re focused on only Todoroki. Now, judging from how high in the air and how fast I am, I think I could make it beyond Todoroki’s ice. I’m over half-way there already! The only question is: How am I going to land? Maybe-! Crap, I just saw a sakura petal besides me! It’s Kazeha!

 

“Nice to see you again, cutie,” she greets me, reforming herself from her petals. I haven’t seen her much ever since Golden Week, but she’s still as sexual as ever. “No hard feelings. Just be hard for me sometime in private, alright?”

 

Wha-?!

 

KICK!

 

The last thing I saw was her foot connecting with my hip and a flirtatious wink right before… right before I crash onto the cold, icy ground. I hit it chest-first, creating a large cloud of ice crystals and dust around me. After that, I rolled for God knows how many times across the ice, sliding off onto brown dirt… Thank goodness, I think I’m alive. My entire body is aching, chest is heavy, legs a bit weak, but this is nothing! I feel exhilarated, actually.

 

I should thank Kazeha actually. Thanks to her, I rolled right off the ice. Ah, there she is! She reforms in front of me with a frown. (She’s that fast, huh? It makes sense. Leaves are a heck more lighter than humans.) Kazeha compliments me, “You’re a lot tougher than you look. Maybe you should let me perform a check-up on you after this.” And, of course she winks. She-?

 

Huh, that’s neat. I let my crossbow unfold in front of her. Knew this challenge isn’t this simple. Good thing I loaded my explosive bolts in. I taunt, showing her it, “Well, I honestly don’t know what to say about that. If I were you though, I wouldn’t have my back turned.”

 

“Wha-?!”

 

BOOM!



I fired a bolt at a two-pointer, the scorpion-looking robot from the Entrance Exam, right behind Kazeha. (Four bolts left.) A beautiful rain of metal and bits fall around us, decorating the dirt path with green and gray. She looks impressed, and a little aroused. I run pass her, saying, “Consider this good sportsmanship, Kazeha! See you at the finish line!” (I leave her in the dust, but I can definitely feel her gaze. She’d better not be looking where I think she’s looking!) 

 

Okay, there’ll be a lot more robots. I need to focus on those, the obstacles, and the other students trying to get in my way. If 1-A’s any indicator, then they’ll be focused on Todoroki too. I don’t know what stirred him up, but it makes things easier for me. Anyway, in the name of a good festival, I unsheathe my katana. If there’s a few competitors who think about stopping me, this oughta scare them away. 

 

Speaking of which, there’s two non-living obstacles in front of me. A two-pointer and a one-pointer. Thank God I have proper equipment to handle them, and not a simple bo staff! But, then again-!

 

The two-pointer charges forward. I jump up in the air and slice its tiny, little head off. It whimpers, beeping in robotic pain before going limp. The red light in its head slowly flickers, then dims completely. At the same time, the one-pointer charges at me to my right. I simply stick my katana out and let the poor robot run into it. It goes right through its main chassis. “Ki-bzzzt-kill! Kill… killllllll….” it says its final words. Using my foot, I slide my sword out and knock it to the ground.

 

So, what was I thinking? Oh right, I’m glad I had my katana and bracers. But then again, my skill will lead me the way. I don’t know how far along I am, but I don’t see many people ahead of me. I must be in front of the crowd, or really behind it. (Let’s hope it’s the former.) I run forward, passing a few students who I don’t recognize.

 

“Shit, he has a katana!”

“He can bring that?!”

“We don’t stand a chance!”

“Suzuki is crazy if he wants us to stop him!” (He’s not in 1-D. I would have recognized him if I did. What did Suzuki do this time?)

“Do your best, guys!” I yell at them, sprinting with my katana back. Yeah, it must be a bit freaky seeing a guy running with a katana, but this is Japan! A lot of weird stuff happens here, but at least we’re not America. America though, doesn’t have five one-pointers aimed to kill high school students. 

 

“Kill! Kill! Kill!”

“Exterminate!”

“Slaughter!”



Why the heck did U.A. program them to say stuff like that?! Heh, I won’t let them get in the way though. This is nothing! Anyway, let’s see: one in the front, two in the middle, two in the back. They’re a good distance away from one another where I have a second or two think about my next actions. Considering these things are considered to be “Easy Villains” back at the Entrance Exam, they should go down easily.

 

“Let’s do this!” I tell them before I charge forward. The first one-pointer does the same, but like before, they’re “Easy Villains”. Right as it strikes with its metal claws, I leap to the side and climb on, jumping on its head. “Sorry about this!” I apologize right as I stab its head. At this point, I angered the rest of its friends. (Man, if they have the ability to mourn, I would feel so bad…)

 

Now, let’s think! The immediate threat is the one to my left. It’s getting closer, after that is the one on my right. The last two is following behind them, so I don’t have to worry just yet. I can take both of them out at the same time. Thank goodness I brought my crossbow here, else this will be a lot more difficult.

 

Quickly, I pull my sword out and jump off of the dead one-pointer, landing on the one to my left. Like last time, my blade finds itself stuck in its head. I use the handle to balance myself (don’t fall!), aim my crossbow at the one to my right, fire, and-!

 

BOOM!

 

There we go. Three bolts and three down-?! 

 

WHAM!

 

“Shit!” I swear, instinctively leaping off in the nick of time. I didn’t expect one of the two to be this close! It nearly chopped my head off! Damn it, I’m in the air now! I can hear the last one-pointer behind me. Don’t have my katana, but I do have extra weapons in hand! 

 

I fire another bolt at the one-pointer who almost killed me. Afterwards, I turn around in the air, getting my tanto out at the same time. The last one-pointer is there, leaping at me. Sorry, but you’re going down!

 

BOOM!
CRASH!

 

Right as I dig my tanto right in its glowing red eye, the other one-pointer blew up. I twist the blade, making sure it’s dead. When it falls limp, whining in mechanical pain, I jump off back onto solid ground. (Two bolts left.) I get my katana out of the weird, contorted pile of metal limbs and flesh. Alright, I put my tanto away, quickly dust myself off, and that’s it! Five one-pointers down! All by myself!

 

Let’s continue forward! 

 

“LOOK AT INOCHI, FROM 1-B, GO! FOR A LEGALLY QUIRKLESS KID, HIS COMBAT PROWESS IS ABOVE THE REST! THIS MIGHT BE THE HERO VERSION OF STAIN! HOW DOES HE DO IT?!”

“He’s specifically trained for combat, Mic. An event like the Sports Festival, built around fighting, it’s perfect for someone like him. It’ll be a fatal mistake if you underestimate him.”

 

Heh, did I hear that right?! Present Mic and Eraserhead are really talking about me! They actually complimented my abilities! Oh crap, I would freak out right now if I wasn’t busy taking down some robots! Oh hey, there’s a three-pointer that I can unleash my excitement on! Well, there’s only one thing I can do!

 

“KILL! KI-”

 

SLASH!

 

One strike, one kill. In a flash, I jumped in-between the gap of its body and arm, cutting its chest. I managed to hit something important, because it explodes while I’m running away. Let’s see... if this was the Entrance Exam, I earned eleven points. That’s a great step up from last time!

 

For about a minute or so, I sprint towards what it seems to be my next obstacle: Robo-Inferno. It’s a massive legion of robots in a big, open field. A crowd of students already gathered there, and I can see why they aren’t moving. (So, I was behind everyone else?!) Todoroki froze a bunch of (what it looks like to be) zero-pointers. They block everyone from moving. It doesn’t help that there’s more zero-pointers and others moving in.

 

Ah, a lot of my classmates are there! I run next to Honenuki and Rin. Honenuki greets me with his toothy smile. “Inochi! What took you so long? I’m figuring out how to get through this. Swimming underground is the best option.” (How did everyone get here so fast? I had to deal with a ton of robots.)



“Can you go under the pile of robots, though? Todoroki made a big mess, and there’s even more incoming. You’d have to hold your breath for a while, Honenuki,” Rin warns him, scaling up his forearms.

 

I think I see Bakugo and some of 1-A going above the zero-pointers. That’s my ticket outta here. “You guys can figure it out! I know you can! I’m going above with Bakugo. I better see you on the other side!”

 

Without waiting for them to wave me along, I run. I push through the crowd, getting some swears here and there. There’s no time to stand around, gotta get up there! I see Shiozaki and Komori trying to figure out what to d-

 

WHIFF!

 

Suzuki! Crap, barely had time to dodge his punch! He’s standing in front of me, gritting his teeth. Well, I’d had to meet him eventually… I’m surprised there isn’t a rule that other students can’t attack others. “Inochi, where the hell are you going? You know you can’t win this festival, do you?”

 

“Yeah, I know. But, that’s not going to stop me from doing my best. Move aside, Suzuki,” I say, trying to get past him. It doesn’t work. He pushes me back. Dang it, why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t he end the drama between us?

 

“You don’t get to tell me what to do! Whatever it takes, I’ll make sure you’ll get out of my way and suffer! Where’s your class, anyway? Right, they aren’t helping you. You’re alone, Inochi!” Suzuki taunts me, getting really close to my face. (What is with everyone getting so close to me?) 

 

“I’m right here,” Kendo introduces herself, popping out of the crowd. She takes Suzuki by arm and subsequently judo-slams him. His body bounces up a few centimeters before Kendo takes her foot to his chest. She tells me with a confident smile, “Go ahead, Inochi! You better impress the world!”

 

“You’re the best, Kendo!” I say as I finally get out of this crowd. Some of them start yelling at me, but I don’t care. I use the iced zero-pointers as ramps, running on top of it and trying to not slip off. (Tetsutetsu and Kirishima are ahead of me. I swear, they’re long lost brothers.) The active zero-pointers are right in front of me, towering over us like giants. It… It occured to me that I somehow defeated one of these things back in U.S.J., but… I… I don’t know exactly how I’m going to take this down. You know, I shouldn’t. Gotta focus on getting to the finish line, not the amount of points I get. Just by clearing this is enough to impress people.

 

Just focus… I open up my grappling hook, aiming for the edge of a zero-pointer’s head. Alright, I can’t launch off of it because I’ll have no way to land. This thing has to be my way down then. Okay, that’s the plan! An incredibly risky plan, but let’s go ahead with it!

 

CLINK!
ZIIIIP!

 

My grappling hook flew through the air, hooking itself right where I want it. I get yanked towards it, going straight up. This robot is so tall that it takes about five or so seconds for me to reach up there! Luckily for me, the zero-pointer doesn’t bother to attack me because I’m too fast. When I hit the edge, I climb on top of its head, which is the same size of a tiny bedroom. Holy crap, a bird is perched here. “Shoo shoo!” I usher it away.

 

I walk to the other side of its head. So, how am I going to get down? The immediate thought that comes to mind is using my katana. If I dig it into the zero-pointer’s back, it’ll slow me down as I fall. From how large this thing is, I’ll be safe, but it’ll take a lot of time. The other option is using its back as a slide. It’s faster, but also much more dangerous for obvious reasons. As much as I want to cross the finish line, I don’t want to break my legs. It-!!!

 

BOOM BOOM BOOM!

 

What the hell?! 

 

I look over and see… see Yaoyorozu with a large cannon?! She’s shooting all of the zero-pointers! Shit, I’m at the worst possible spot! Does she even know I’m up here?! Crap crap crap! I need to get the hell off! I can’t-!!!

 

BOOM!

 

Yaoyorozu fired. The cannonball hits the face of my zero-pointer, snapping its head back. Shrapnel escapes from it, mixing in with shards of thin metal plates. Some of them dig into my skin, tearing my uniform slightly. It feels like bee stings. My ears ring loudly, sounding like a bell is being hit right next to me. 

 

At the last second, at the very last second, I jumped. My katana finds itself in the back of the zero-pointer as I slide down it, the speed being too fast for me to process anything. For dear life, I grip the hilt, my knuckles turning ashen white. In my head, I’m begging the robot not to fall. Luckily, by luck or whim, it doesn’t. It was the longest five seconds of my life, but I land safely on the ground. 

 

It isn’t over yet, though. I look up and see the zero-pointer teetering, shifting from side-to-side. Yup, I need to run! Ignoring the pain that starts swelling in my body, I sprint the hell outta dodge. I hear Present Mic yelling that Yaoyorozu had single-handedly took down all the “massive beasts”. Man, her Quirk is so strong.

 

Anyway, unluckily for me, there’s a three-pointer in my way. It’s blocking my immediate path out of the crash zone. I can’t risk jumping at it, because I’m afraid that it won’t go down in one measly strike. So, I unfold my crossbow again and fire a single explosive bolt at its head.

 

BOOM!

 

Damn it, it’s not destroyed! I only made it angry and hurt! The three-pointer charges forward with impressive speeds, but I still have one more bolt left! I aim and fire within a second, emptying my magazine. For the last time, it goes BOOM . It explodes in a brown cloud of dirt and dust. I pass through the cloud and thank God! The path is getting narrow! That’s the end of the Robo-Inferno!

 

CRASH!

 

And, I think all of the zero-pointers just crashed! Good: I’m alive and well. Not good: Yaoyorozu likely opened the path for herself, and everyone else as a result. I’m just ahead of everyone, but not for long. They’ll run over here soon. Let’s hope the next obstacle can slow them down. What is it gonna be this time? More fighting? Climbing? Whatever it is, I’ll be ready!

 

I’ll be-!!!

 

Okay, scratch thatI have no idea how U.A. managed to make a canyon of all things! (Per U.A. fashion, there’s a sign which names this… whatever this is. It’s “The Fall”.) Think! There’s islands separated by large gaps connected by tightropes. If I fall, then I’ll probably lose. (I sure hope that U.A. has some sort of cushion down there. They wouldn’t let students fall to their death. Right?)

 

The safe way is climbing from each island by the ropes. They’re made of wire, so they shouldn’t be cut nor break easier. The other, more riskier way is simply grappling hook my way across. I can also jump from island to island considering how some of them are close together… What to do… What to do... I can’t stand here and think forever. Heroes have to think on their feet. I-!

 

“Excuse me, Inochi,” Shiozaki runs past me and, without hesitation, digs her hair into the ground. I sheathe my katana as I watch her create a bridge. It connects the cliff to the nearest island. Impressive! Like an elegant queen, she briskly walks across it. “I pray that I’ll see you at the finish line,” she tells me. Normally, that would be a taunt, but Shiozaki doesn’t do that. She genuinely wants to see me there.

 

Well, when in U.A., do as Heroes do! As much as I want to follow Shiozaki, grappling my way across is much faster. I say, “Shiozaki, I’ll see you on the other side! And please, pray for me because I might fall.”

 

Before she has a chance to say anything, I fire my grappling hook on the tallest island and get pulled towards it. The last thing I see from Shiozaki is a soft smile before she becomes a distant figure. When I reach my first island, I roll on top of it, so I don’t cut myself on the jagged rocks. If I’m not careful, my bracers will break from the impact. That’s the last thing I want.

 

And damn, there’s everyone else. Ah, there’s Kendo! She’s leading most of our friends with Monoma. Let’s hope they make it through The Fall okay! Now, need to make it through this deathtrap. Should be easy enough!

CLINK!

ZIIIP!

 

CLINK!
ZIIIP!

 

Two islands down. Same thing as before: Fire, get yanked, roll, profit. It gets a little easier, repeating the same actions. It’s-?!

 

RUMBLE RUMBLE!

 

The pillar beneath my feet begins to shake violently. “I’M HERE!” Gera shouts at the top of her lungs, creating a rocky bridge between the islands. That’s her Quirk, alright. (Eruption: Gera can bend the earth beneath her feet. Only her feet. It’s an incredibly strong Quirk. I’m amazed that she isn’t in the Hero Course along with Mantora and Suzuki.)

 

As soon as the first bunch of students try to follow her, Gera stomps on the bridge, immediately breaking it apart. An uproar of terrified screaming fills the air, getting quieter and quieter as they fall to their doom. (For this competition. Hopefully, not their lives, but I never know when it comes to U.A..) Unluckily for me, Gera is on the island besides me. “Oi! Inochi! Glad to see you here! Let’s have a good fight, eh?”

 

Oh jeez.

 

“GERA RUDOLPHUS, FROM 1-D, IS TAKING OUT THE COMPETITION! INOCHI IS IN HER SIGHTS! WHO WILL WIN?!”

 

“Hmph, Gera’s Quirk has the upper hand here. Being able to manipulate the battlefield, especially one like this, is immensely powerful. Inochi has the maneuverability, but doesn’t have the strength of a Quirk. Gera isn’t a smart woman, so if-”

 

“I CAN LITERALLY HEAR YOU, SIR!” Gera yells at the nearest speaker. Present Mic yelps, stammering over his words and trying to apologize for Mister Aizawa’s words. Alright, this is a good time to check on my equipment. Weapons… check. Grappling hook… check. Crossbow… not check. I forgot to reload. Quickly, I take a cartridge out of my pockets (one more left, only brought three), loading five more explosive bolts in. Gera finally notices me and asks, “Wait, what the hell are you doing?!”

 

“...Nothing?” I hide my arms behind my back.

 

“Alright, good luck!” Gera roars, stomping her foot on the ground. A pillar of jagged rock emerges in front of her, twisting, contorting itself through the air. It curves towards me slowly, excruciating slow, not yet hitting me. It’s pretty much a flat fist coming at me from about five meters away. She’s trying to spring a reaction out of me, seeing if I move or attack, but I stand there, still. “Hmph, see ya ‘round.”

 

Think! Moving back to a safer position might be good. There’s islands all around us. She’ll have to chase me around The Fall, which lets me get into a favorable position. She stomps again and rushes the pillar towards me. As soon as I hear her stomp, I jump off the island to my right. Aiming my left bracer, I launch myself towards a bigger island, higher than where Gera’s at. I roll myself on the flat ground, looking down at her. She smirks, taunting, “Can’t run forever, Inochi!”

 

(The other students! They’re slowly climbing their way across, but my friends? Pony has her horns acting like an airline, Tokage is flying like how she always does, and Shishida is acting like a taxi from how large he is. From how powerful Gera is, we’ll knock them off while we’re fighting! Gotta distract her!)

 

“Well, you better catch me then, don’t ya?!” I taunt her, something that I never do. If Mister Aizawa is right, then she’ll fall for it, which she does. Gera smiles even harder before stomping her feet again. A massive, jagged spike shoots out from her pillar, crashing into mine. The heck?! Is this supposed to be a bridg-?!

 

ERUPT!!!

 

From below me, I get launched in the air by my own island! Crap, that’s how her Quirk works?! By connecting the islands, she gains control of them! There has to be some sort of limit! Can’t worry about that now, though! Gera’s following up with a rocky fist right at me! How the heck can I dodge this?! I only have time to shoot!

 

Wait...

 

“GO TO HELL!”
“DIEEEE!”

 

Well, it seems like Bakugo just became my inspiration! His Quirk lets him maneuver himself in the air with the force of his Explosions, like what he did with the zero-pointers earlier. That means, if I shoot this thing, I’ll get launched back by the explosion! I’ll be able to fly away from her! That’s all I got, so here goes nothing! 

 

BOOM!

From the shockwave, I fly deeper into The Fall, narrowly avoiding Gera. I spin myself around, facing the islands below. I’m pretty high in the air, going towards the right of the course. Everyone else is at the left. Good, just gotta focus on baiting her. Speaking of her, she creates a ramp for herself, soaring through the air like a surfboard on water. She’s connecting the nearby islands to get more power for herself. Not good!

 

“Got a plan, tough guy?!” Gera taunts, her voice getting closer and closer. To answer her question: Not at all! I can hear rock crumbling behind me, and I’m pretty sure an entire island fell because of her. She’s really going all out to stop me, huh? She either wants to have a good fight, or Suzuki put her up to this. It’s funny though, I’d thought she wasn’t fond of him.

 

Anyway, I’m finally on level with the rest of the islands. I’m going down, which is exactly I want. From my peripheral vision, Gera goes lower too. We’re below the surfaces now, going into dangerous territory. Any small mistake and we’ll fall to the bottom. This is where the true battle starts.

 

Gera, in a fit of competitive rage, throws rocky spikes at me. I spin, weave, and lean my body around, narrowly dodging them. They fly off into the other islands, snapping off a chunk of earth off and letting it fall to the bottom. When I’m losing speed or going too low, I grapple myself onto a higher ledge and propel myself forward. I did this a few times, managing to dodge any and all attacks that Gera’s throwing at me. 

 

Behind me, I fire my explosive bolts at her after she tries to hit me. Every time, she uses an earthy shield to protect herself from the blast, letting the rock crumble to the bottom. We hit defenseless islands in our crossfire, some even topples into each other! I used up the rest of my second pack and most of my third, leaving me with two bolts left. That isn’t good. Bright side: Gera looks exhausted.

 

But, this is an exciting fight! Weaving and turning around islands, dodging projectiles that can surely kill me, firing back, it’s amazing! I never thought I would get myself into a situation like this! Even with Gera swearing in German (such an angry language), she has to admit this is a fun fight. I mean, who gets to fly with rocks falling all over us? 

 

But, this has gone on for too long. I need to end it this dogfight! In front of me, there’s two islands, one on each side. Gera’s far enough… I have the perfect idea! I got the space and time for it, so let’s hope it works!

 

Hooking on the island to my left, I begin to curve around it, my feet barely touching the other island. I put my right hand back and release another bolt (one more), letting it blow up right beneath my feet. A wave of pain goes through them, but I ignore it. Using the shockwave and momentum, I loop around the hooked island, going full-circle around it. Where I was just at, Gera’s there. When the angle is just right, just perfect , I unhook myself, soaring towards her with my feet first. 

 

She sees me, her eyes getting wide. My foot connects, striking her above the chest. With my momentum and power, I manage to kick her off of her surfboard. I land on it, watching Gera’s back hit a wall. Barely, she grabs on a ledge, gritting her teeth. Damn, it wasn’t enough?! She says, “Nice try… I figured you wouldn’t be this eas- Wait, where are the fuckshit are you going?!”

 

“Anywhere but here!” I shout back, immediately jumping off her ramp. Again, like before, I release a bolt at my feet, regaining the speed from before. (All out.) Okay, since I only made Gera angry, she’ll start to go all out. God, I don’t want to be there when she goes all ou-

 

RUMBLE RUMBLE!

 

Yeah, from the sounds of that, I really really don’t wanna look back! 

 

“Guys, Inochi’s flying at us!” Awase… Oh crap, I’m at the exit already?! This isn’t good! Almost everyone is across though, except for Kendo and Monoma. Pony has her horns out, being the class’s transport, I guess! I would be proud, but I’m pretty sure this exit won’t exist in a minute or so! 

 

I warn Kendo and Monoma, “HURRY UP! GERA’S COMING!” As soon as I say that, a massive earthquake shakes the entire course. I look behind me and see Gera going breakneck speeds, letting the earth beneath her feet push her forward like a rocket. Every island in her path is breaking apart. With how fast she is… I’m pretty sure she can cause a tsunami to appear!

 

“Damnit! Monoma, get the hell over there!” Kendo yells, picking Monoma up by his uniform and throwing him to the other side with her enlarged fists. She shrinks them as Pony’s horns come to her. Shit, Gera and I are getting closer to her! Only a few seconds ‘till impact! Kendo, taking all the time in the world, grabs on and-!!!

 

CRASH!!!

 

Behind me, Gera sent a spike! It flies pass me… pass me right into Kendo’s island. Shit! It cracks, crumbles under her. Time slows down as I watch Kendo fall, having the ground collapse below her. Damnit, I can’t let her lose! Not like this! I can catch her! I can definitely catch her! I just... I just need to time it right! Okay, okay! I hold my arms out, ready! I find myself yelling her name right as when I-!

 

CLASP!

 

“Got ya!” I exclaim, holding Kendo close. She was screaming before I caught her, thank goodness I did. Her arms wrap tightly around me, holding on for dear life. I barely catch a glimpse of her looking starry-eyed at me before I turn to our surroundings. Unluckily for us, we’re moving against the air now. We’re slowing down, and Gera is catching up. I have to get on solid ground! One last time, I hook on the nearest island in front of us. It grabs on, reeling us in. It’s much slower than before, since it’s carrying the weight of two people. I really need to thank Hayami for making this thing so good!

 

We roll on top of the island with me smacking the edge first. It cuts into my arms, drawing blood, but I don’t care. I just flew God knows how long and how much. I try to stand up, but my legs feel like jelly. I fall to my knees and- Oh, come on! My grappling hook broke from the impact. That’s it, all I got is my weapons. 

 

Kendo calls me over, on her knees too, “Inochi… God, if they don’t… if they don’t think you’re a Hero now, I’m going to punch them…” She tries to get up, but falls kinda hilariously. Hehe, Kendo doesn’t look particularly happy. She’s shouting with her eyes, Don’t laugh at me!

 

The best General Course student in the entire school comes around on her little rock surfboard. She twists herself around us, slowing down to a halt. “Okay, Inochi… I have to admit, you’re one badass Quirkless. And… Is she okay?” Gera gestures towards Kendo.



“My legs isn’t working at the moment, but I’m alive,” Kendo answers for me, barely standing up on her feet. She looks over to Gera and groans, asking her, “Gera… Why are you so hellbent on fighting Inochi? Did Suzuki make you do this?”

 

Gera tells us, sitting down on her rocket, “Nah, I wanted to. This is the only chance in a long time where Pros can notice me. I figured, ‘Hey, if I took out some kids and one of the strongest guys in the Hero Course, I got a shot.’ If you guys didn’t know, I basically failed the written portion of the Entrance Exam. Almost got a zero.”

 

Oh… right… that’s right… I was so focused on myself that… that I didn’t realize the General Courses was trying to get into the Hero Course! Gera, like many others, was only trying to prove herself to the world… just like me… just like my friends… Well, she deserves to be in it. I can’t think of any better person. The best thing I could do is give her this fight.

 

I laugh, standing up with a smile. “Thanks for the compliment Gera, but you’re pretty strong too. Stronger than me , because I’ve been trying to run away from you for most of our fight. So, let’s finish it! Afterwards, I’ll vouch for you even if my word means nothing.” Kendo stands up too, simply staring at me. Judging from her eyes, I don’t think her mind’s in our world right now. 

 

“You’re on,” she replies, smiling widely before turning to Kendo. “Oh, Kendo, I made a bridge for you to move on. You should hurry up, ‘cuz you’re running out of time.” She doesn’t answer for a second or two. She’s still staring at me, a bit red in her cheeks too. I tap her shoulde-

 

“Yeah, got it! I got it!” Kendo snaps out of it, shaking her head. Hehe, what made her act like me all of the sudden? Anyhow, she lightly punches my shoulder, telling me, “I better see you at the finish line.”

 

I nod and smile before she runs along on the bridge. I watch her leave, going back to our friends. They wave at me, wishing me luck. Better not disappoint them, even though my most valuable equipment is broken. Gera comments, “So… You ready? I’m not holding back.” (Heh, that’s the most respectful thing anyone could do: not holding back.)

 

“Yeah. Just so you know: My grappling hook broke. I won’t fight at my best, but doesn’t mean I can’t fight,” I inform Gera, showing her my busted bracer. She just shrugs and stands up, loudly cracking her knuckles. Let’s get st-

 

“Good, that means you can’t escape.” That voice… It’s Suzuk-!!!

 

Just as when I turn around, Suzuki grabs me by the throat, his nails digging into my neck. C-Crap! How did he get here?! Was he hiding on the ledge this entire time?! Gera yells, growling at him, “Suzuki! What the fuck are you doing?!”

 

“Doing what you should have done!” Suzuki roars before he lifts me up and slams me against the ground in a flash, creating a small crater around me. My spine shoots out pain as I barely… barely look up at him. The last thing I see is his foot before everything goes black. He said something… something right before I fell… 

 

“Fall, Inochi.”

 

Blood shoots out of my nose. My body feels like it’s floating- No, I’m sinking. I think I hear Gera yelling, Suzuki too… Crap… I shouldn’t have… shouldn’t have ignored him… Too busy focused on myself… and…-!

 

CRACK!

 

My head… I hit something… Something hard, I think… Sharp... I’m falling, aren’t I? My eyes open, but I can barely see anything… Everything’s so dark. The sun’s so far away… Everything hurts… Everything-!

 

THUD!

 

Soft… I landed on… something soft… I see… my hand, covered in blood, everything’s dark- No, there’s something bright… bright like fire…

 

“I got you…”

 

His voice… My chest hurts…

 

D-Don’t cry… I’m here… You’re safe… ”

 

~~~

 

Itsuka Kendo

“Good morning, sleepy head,” I greet Inochi. His eyes slowly flutter open, wincing at the light above him. He lets out a painful groan, trying to look around in a neck cast. It doesn’t work out for him, the idiot. Finally, he sees me and smiles warmly.

 

“Kendo… What happened? I don’t remember anything...” He asks me, sitting himself up slightly. Well, that question is a loaded question. A lot of things happened, exciting things, bad things, mostly bad things… Jeez, I can’t believe I’m going to disappoint him… He was so confident in me too…

 

“Where do I start? Right, Suzuki kicked you off The Fall and you managed to hit your head on the way down. Don’t worry though, Gera knocked Suzuki off too, so that asshole got what he deserves,” I answer him with a small smile. I’m glad I didn’t see it happen though, or else I’d go back to The Fall and kick Suzuki off myself. Haven’t seen his face around unfortunately. I need to rearrange it.

 

Even though he said that Suzuki deserves a spot in U.A., it gets really hard to trust him when Suzuki does stuff like this. I get that he’s jealous because Inochi is in 1-B, but does he have to attempt murder for revenge? I swear, if Hound Dog doesn’t sort him out, or his classmates, I will.

 

Inochi hits me with a bunch of questions, trying to lift his head up, “Huh… Oh shoot, did you qualify?! Did Monoma’s plan work?! Is the Sports Festival over? Did you wi-”

 

“Slow down!” I tell him, forcing his head back down. “First, all twenty of us did qualify. But, you missed the second event: The cavalry battle. We… We didn’t do so good… Only Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki made in it. I was supposed to fight in the next event, the tournament, but I gave it to them.”

 

The look on Inochi’s face says it all. He’s disappointed… Damn, this is the first time I get to see him like that. Softly, he pries, “Why? You told me that you wanted to win. You had a chance and… and you didn’t take it.”

 

I answer him truthfully, “They deserved it. You know that Tetsutetsu wanted to beat 1-A badly , and Shiozaki is the most powerful woman in our class. It seemed like a good choice for them to take my spot. Better than me, I g-”



“You’re lying, Kendo,” Inochi interrupts me mid-sentence. How… How did he know? Is he a human lie detector or something? It doesn’t matter though… He called me out on it. “You tap your leg when you lie, so you make it pretty obvious. Doesn’t take much of a genius to figure that out.”

 

Wha-? He’s right again. I am tapping my leg. Damnit, I cross my arms, hiding my fingers from him. Inochi continues, “I don’t doubt that you gave up your spot for those reasons, but there’s definitely more to it. So, best friend to best friend, what’s up?” Inochi doesn’t make it easy… Especially when he’s looking at me like that…

 

“Uhm… I felt guilty,” I begin to answer him, holding the insides of my pockets, “for letting you lose. For the past few weeks, you trained so hard for this moment, and I just snatched it away for being an idiot. If I didn’t get myself in that situation, you could’ve made it to the end! I didn’t deserve to go onto the second round, let alone the thi-”

 

He cuts in, “Don’t act like that.” I look up at him. I didn’t even realize I was looking down in the first place. “Come on, Kendo, don’t forget that you trained hard too! In fact, you trained right beside me. If anything, I’m sorry for making you feel this way.” Inochi sm-?!

 

He… He takes my hand! Uhm, this is a bit sudden! Inochi tells me, looking into my eyes, “No matter what though, don’t think that you can disappoint me. Whether you win or you didn’t, you at least tried. I’ll always be proud of you, because you’re the best person in the world.” I…! Ugh, jeez… He’s too much of a sweet guy… What did I do to deserve him?

 

“Y-You know, you have to explain to me why Suzuki hates you so much… You’re too much of a sweetheart to make anyone hate you,” I reply, joking slightly. I can feel my face getting warm, holding his hand like this, and… and staring at him... I swear, someone will get the wrong idea if they walk in on us…

 

“I’m not that much of a sweetheart…” Inochi replies, being humble as always. He can always make a person feel special. Oh, speaking of him being a sweetheart, I need to ask him something important.

 

I let go of his hand and ask, “So, since we’re best friends and all… You never called me by my first name. Is there any particular reason why, Mister Nice Guy?” Inochi grows a dumb smile on his face, trying his best to not look at me.

 

He meekly answers, “Well, it might be a little disrespectful-”

 

“It’s a lot more disrespectful to keep calling me ‘Kendo’ after we live in the same house for over half a year now. As your best friend and class representative, you have to use my first name, Sanji ,” I say, not bothering to hear the rest of his excuse. Sanji nervously chuckles to himself, scratching his head.

 

“O-Okay… It… Itsuka?” He winces after he says my name. What? Does he think the entire room will explode? I wouldn’t doubt it though, he’s weird like that. Weird, and cute if he wasn’t in a neck brace. 

 

“Troublesome kids! I’m here!” Recovery Girl announces herself, walking through the door with her large syringe in hand. Ever since Sanji and I got into U.A., she’s been complaining about Grandpa a lot. I know these two were in the same class back then, with Grandma. I’m sure she has a lot of stories. “So, this boy is alive thankfully. No major injuries other than a concussion.”



I stand up and bow. “Thank y-”

 

“Hush, your mother called. Hayami wants you to kick Suzuki’s behind,” she informs me, which sounds exactly like Mom. Gosh, I wonder what Grandpa is doing now. I wish he was here, but he’s a hermit.

I respond, puffing my cheeks, “I would if this angel-of-a-man let me. He’s too nice for his own good.”

 

“Heh,” Sanji laughs, sitting up for Recovery Girl, “Recovery Girl, thanks for taking care of me. I know that I’m a bit of a handful and all.” She clicks her tongue, walking over and taking his neck brace off.

 

“Son, you haven’t seen Midoriya. I tell Toshi everyday to keep that boy in check, but nooooo! He- Wait, did Saki tell you two it?” she asks, suddenly stopping to look back and forth between us.

 

“That All Might and Midoriya are really close?” Sanji answers for me, being confused. Recovery Girl groans and shakes her head. Apparently, that wasn’t the “it” that she was talking about. What’s going on between these two?

 

“Never mind, he might tell you two one day. Let’s hope you two never get to hear it,” Recovery Girl tells us, her voice getting low at the end. She sighs, putting Sanji up on his feet. “Anyway, you are good to go. Enjoy the Sports Festival with your friends, you handsome handful of a boy.”

 

(I’m suddenly a bit more concerned about what this “it” is. Recovery Girl knows, All Might and Midoriya too. Wait, is that why All Might brought Midoriya to the Dojo? For Grandpa? What kind of secret are they keeping?)

 

Sanji laughs and moves besides me. We bow together, thanking Recovery Girl for what she did. She says, “You know, you two remind me of Saki and Tatemi, but if the genders were reversed. Both of you better take good care of each other, because in this field… You don’t know when you might leave.” 

 

(Hmph, at least Recovery Girl is kinda sweet with the teasing, and a bit depressing. Sanji, as always, brushes it off with a smile.)

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Itsuka. She’s important to me.”

 

Eh?! Why does he feel the need to say that?!

 

“Wha-?! Don’t say things like that! This is why everyone’s teasing us!”

 

Punch!

 

“Ow?! I’m sorry?!”

 

“Just like a married couple.”

 

***

 

“I was waiting for you two!” Tokage pops out from the tunnel  with a big smile on her face. She’s holding her phone in one hand… Oh! Did she call her dad? She told me she would after our cavalry battle. “I has wondrous tidings to shareth thou all! Alas, I needeth a confession fromst thou first.” And she’s talking like Monoma… I know what she’s trying to say, but I’m going to pretend that I don’t.

 

“All I got was ‘confession’,” Sanji admits, looking at me then at Tokage completely confused. He asks, “Are you trying to talk like Monoma or a very old Japanese man?”

 

"Hmph, spill the beans, Kendo!” Tokage completely ignores Sanji, pointing her hand at me. “You didn’t confess your undying love to Inochi, who was lying in bed injured after saving your life? It was a textbook moment of romance!” (Oh crap, Sanji and I are on a first name basis now. I’d better admit that instead of using it out of the blue.)

“No, but I forced him to use my first name now. Which reminds me,” I walk forward and put my hand on her head. “How are you doing, Setsuna ?” Setsuna blushes, using her wavy green hair to hide her beet red cheeks.

 

Quietly, she says, “Itsuka… Be a woman and kiss me.” Huh, didn’t expect that reaction outta her.

 

“Gayeth,” I snap back, pushing her towards Sanji. Her blush disappears as she runs into Sanji’s chest, offhandedly commenting that it’s really hard. Yeah… Despite us living under the same roof, I saw him shirtless once or twice, and that was months ago. It makes me wonder what he looks like now. I- Ugh! I need to remind myself what’s really important: Setsuna’s phone call. “So, what did your dad say? Did he talk to the investors?”

 

“Oh!” She exclaims, slowly looking at me while punching Sanji’s chest like a toy. “Yeah! in fact, he was about to call me, but I beat him to it. All of the investors agreed- Oh my God, Sanji is like a brick wall!”



“Focus, Setsuna!” Sanji tells her, grabbing her hand away. She yelps for a quick second before backing up.

 

“Right! Right, sorry! I was too distracted! Anyway, where was I...? Investors, that’s it! From how badass Sanji was, they all mutually agreed that this adorable bastard gets to stay in 1-B!” Setsuna says the best news! Hell yeah! Operation Samurai Heart is a success! All it took was letting him let loose! Oh, that reminds me! I need to tell him about the public’s opinion about him! Everyone is pleasantly shocked from Sanji’s skills. Finally, they recognize how amazing he is!

 

Sanji laughs in pure joy, bringing Setsuna into a tight hug. “Thank you! Now I don’t have to stress myself out about this anymore! Please tell your dad that I said ‘thanks’!” She nods, hugging him back for a few seconds. Aw, that’s cute. They’re like brother and sister! 

 

When they (finally) break apart, Sanji looks at me. Before I know it, he’s hugging me too. It’s a lot different than the group hug earlier, since we were forcibly pushed together… but, I get why Setsuna keeps hugging him so much… He’s surprisingly cuddly, and warm... “Thank you especially, Itsuka. Without you, I wouldn’t be here.”

 

My heart skips a beat. I hug him back, resting my head on top of his shoulder. Setsuna’s on the other side, flashing me a wink and a thumbs up. So annoying… Why do we have to hug like this in front of her? 

 

When we pull apart, it disappoints me a little. I wanted to stay like that a little longer- Wait, what am I thinking?! I need to bury that thought. Setsuna gets in front of us with a bigger smile on her face. “Our class awaits us!” She gets closer to me specifically, whispering, “You’re blushing~!” 

 

Eh?!

 

With a mischievous and frankly irritating giggle, she walks to the exit, where the stands are at. Sanji shrugs and follows her. Ugh… I don’t think he caught what she said… I follow them with my arms hanging low. When I’m thinking about it, my face definitely feels warm again. Let’s hope no one else sees it…

 

The three of us reach our class’s seats after a few minutes of walking aimlessly about. Our friends see us, circling Sanji and asking all kinds of questions, complimenting him, worrying about him, things like that. Tokage goes around and sits next to Kaibara, laying back peacefully while Sanji tries to calm his friends down.

 

“You’re not dead, Quirkless.”

“You are a crazy motherfucker, Inochi.”

“That devilish fox deserves the loss at the hands of his own comrade.”

“Kendo was so worried about you!”

“You fighting Gera was straight out of an anime!”

“We need to cheer Tetsutetsu and Shiozaki on! They’re waiting for their matches!”

“Kaminari and Kirishima don’t stand a chance against our wonderful class! Even though our plan went awry, we can-!” (Yeah, I had my daily fix of Monoma already. No need to hear more.)

 

I would help him, but Sanji can take care of this. I sit next to Yui, who’s silently watching this with a straight face. “Hey Yui, Operation Samurai Heart is a success. I’m sorry you couldn’t do much other than cheering Sanji on.”

 

She nods, asking, “Sanji? First names, huh?” Right, forgot to tell her! At least she isn’t like Setsuna.

 

“Yup, this idiot thought that it was disrespectful to call me by my first name. We’re on the same basis with Setsuna too. You should join us!” I tell her, holding her other hand. Simply, without a single word, she nods. Good, let’s hope Sanji doesn’t call Yui by her last name. If he does, then I’m punching him.

 

So, we sit there, watching our friends like a hawk. Sanji looks so adorably overwhelmed. He scratches his head, telling everyone about his fight with Gera as best as he can. I’m pretty sure he left out a few details from how fast he’s talking. Can’t believe that was only a few hours ago… It seemed like it was much longer than that...

 

One moment, I was falling to my death, then in the next, Sanji had me in his arms. It was so different. I was always the one who protected him from bullies, beat his ass in almost every spar. but…. but, he saved me. He saved me. When I opened my eyes and looked up at him, I felt so safe with him. My heart was beating so fast too…

 

And, when he was talking to Gera… There was his peaceful smile on his face. Even when he’s covered in dirt, sweat, and blood, he was still smiling. I couldn’t help but watch him. His smile was so… calm and breathtaking. Just thinking about this is getting my chest all stirred up… My face is getting warm again too… What am I-?

 

“Hmm,” Yui suddenly makes a sound, bringing me out of whatever I was thinking. It’s a bit of relief she did, to be honest. She says, “Itsuka, it’s a bit creepy to stare at Sanji looking like that.” What?! What do I look like?!

 

“Eh?! How am I looking creepy-? Oh,” I exclaim, but stop when I see Yui’s half-smile. Man, can’t believe she made me react like that… She’s so sweet, but very sly whenever she feels like it. I take back what I thought earlier. Yui can be worse than Setsuna. I ask, pouting slightly, “Hmph, why did you mess with me in the first place? You know I don’t like Sanji like that.”

 

“Are you sure?” Komori pops up behind me, hovering over my shoulders. I thought she was down there with everyone else! How did she get up here? And how didn’t I notice her? “We were joking before, Kendo, but you’ve been staring at him for a while. And your face was toadstool red just like your hair!”

 

What?! I look at Yui, and she agrees with her! Damnit, I don’t need this again! I defend myself, “That doesn’t mean anything. Sure, I admit that Sanji is a really attractive guy, but we’re just best friends! He said it so himself. That’s as far as my feelings go.” Yui and Komori… They don’t look convinced. Come on… I don’t have time for romance drama or whatever it’s called...

 

“If you say so,” Komori concedes, jumping over her seat onto the one next to me. Now, I’m stuck in between these two lovable dorks. “Who’s your dream guy then? What traits do you want most in a man?”

 

“Is this really necessary?” I question… whatever this is. Komori nods and hums, moving her bangs over her eyes. 

 

She says, “Yup! I’ll go first, then!” Komori crosses her legs and puts her fingers to her head, thinking like the world depends on it. “What I want in a guy is… mystery. He’s shrouded in this mystical aura, a loner that seems rough on the outside, someone who’s an enigma! But really, he’s a cute, adorable introvert on the inside! And! And! He has to hate the media while I bathe in it! That’s what I want in a man! What about you, Kodai?” (I’m not gonna lie, I expected Komori to say something like that. She wants to be an idol, so it’s kinda natural she desires a man who’s the opposite of her.)

 

She answers, “Soft.” That sounds like her type of guy, alright. Yui looks at me though, expecting my answer. Komori helps her by nudging my shoulder.  Well, I never expected this would be the hardest question to answer.

 

“Jeez, fine! Fine… What do I want in a guy? Uhm, strong, I guess? I don’t know… Someone who’s kind, sweet, and patient. He doesn’t care that I’m not exactly a feminine woman, and can deal with me, since I’m the biggest handful I know, pun not intended. He’s someone that I can lean on, and he can lean on me. Just, in general, I want him to be a great man...” I finally answer them. They have a satisfied look on their faces. Heh, the words just flowed out of my mouth…

 

Komori cheers, “You just described-!”

 

“Yo, Itsuka!” Sanji cuts in our conversation, standing a few levels below us. “Can I talk to you about this… Operation Samurai Heart that Setsuna told me about? Why didn’t you tell me about it?” Oh right, I forgot all about that. Jeez, this will be a slightly long explanation.

 

(“ Operation Samurai Heart ? Sounds like a song, or a name of a band,” Komori comments to the side.)

 

“Yeah… I’ll explain it to you,” I say, groaning. Why did I keep it a secret from him again? Ah, it was revenge for Operation Dragon Fist since he didn’t tell me about it. Mom and I forced him to go to the gala, like how he rigged a match in our Battle Trials. But, did I expect someone to try and kill him? No, and I was worried sick. Mom had to calm me down because I was sure I sent Sanji to his death. Still haven’t admitted it to him, yet. (When I think about it, this operation is why Setsuna is hated by the school…)

 

Anyway, when I reach him, he runs his hand through his mainly white hair, turning it back. It’s… uhm, a bit distracting. “So, why didn’t you tell me about this? There was no reason to not tell me, Itsuka.”

 

I look away and stutter, “Uh-Uhm…”

 

“Ohohoho, 1-A! I thought your class was stronger than ours, and we have one extra person! Why didn’t you completely take over the tournament brackets if you were so great?!” Thank God for Monoma! He’s taunting 1-A over the wall! Wait, he’s taunting 1-A again… Damnit, I have friends in there!

 

I run pass Sanji, moving besides Monoma. Before he knows it, I hit the back of his neck. He falls to his knees instantly, sliding against the wall. I poke my head out with my hand up. “Sorry, he can’t keep his mouth shut.”

 

Sanji does the same thing. “Yeah, sorry about that. You guys are awesome by the way. You completely deserve your win-”

 

“I-Inochi…” Monoma gets our attention, talking in a raspy voice. “Why are you complimenting them? They’re our enemy…”

 

“Shut up, Monoma.”

“Please be quiet, Monoma...”

 

~~~

 

Risai Tatchikutsu

The smell of this place is surprisingly pleasant, being a bar and all. Figured, this is being spearheaded by him , so naturally, this place would be presentable. A shadowy, wispy man stands behind the counter. His lightning-like eyes glow softly within his darkness, narrowing when he sees me. Even though he knows I’m ordered to be here, he’s still wary of me. 

 

The other man, who looks like a boy underneath those hands, sits on a barstool, watching the Sports Festival. Midoriya and Shinso are fighting. Ah, Class 1-A and 1-C, right? Midoriya’s a promising man. He punched a giant fox mutant through a wall, and he survived the U.S.J. Incident, who was perpetrated by these two men here. 

 

“...” Shigaraki doesn’t say anything. His attention is fixed to his TV. Kurogiri shakes his head, gesturing to my presence. “I know, Kurogiri. Master didn’t give me any information about this man, other than his name. I’m grateful, but there’s a reason you’re wary, aren’t you?”

 

“Indeed. He’s just a boy, just as old as Midoriya. His innate recklessness coupled with his Quirk makes him to be a very dangerous man. In fact, from being reckless, it’s the reason why he’s standing here today,” Kurogiri explains, turning to me. He’s right. From my impulsiveness, I became wanted by the police. Grandmaster has been tracking me down for a year now, and he would have found me if it wasn’t for him , who hid me from his watchful eye.

 

“Hmph,” Shigaraki huffs, turning around to face me. A disgusting hand covers his face, his two eyes between the gaps of its fingers. What a creepy-looking man. I can’t believe this is the one who attacked U.A., and is his protege. “You’re Catharsis, right?”

 

“I am, Tomura Shigaraki. From now on, your orders are my command. Just as long as you let me do what I do best,” I tell him, bowing my head slightly as a taunt. Kurogiri scoffs, looking away from me.

 

He asks me, scratching his cheek, “Tell me: Why did you become a Villain?”

 

“Well…” I start, staring at the TV. Midoriya just threw Shinso out of the ring, winning the match. He’s a promising man, alright. Strong Quirk, but frail body. He’s a nerd, a weak one. It reminds me of one of my old classmates. He’s in U.A. too, isn’t he?

 

“I want to get rid of all of society’s weaklings. They have no place here.”

Chapter Text

Karisuma Suzuki

He sat there, head down, hood up. Silent, like he always was. He sat in the back of the class, at the corner desk, on the side that had the large glass window looking out to the rest of the school. He was a man that no one would notice and no one would care for if he suddenly went missing. After all, he’s a foster kid, most likely an orphan, but who knows? He didn’t tell anyone about his parents, nor about his Quirk. He was, and still is legally Quirkless. He was always so pathetic, you know. He’s a very easy man to hate and pick fun at.

 

It’s interesting, kinda. Every now and then, when we were changing out for gym, I caught him with his shirt off. (He was always the one who would change out the fastest, so I barely get to see him.) There would be these strange bruises on his body. It didn’t worry me though, because chances are, I was the one who put them there. Like everything personal though, he never talked about it.

 

Speaking of talking, that was sadder than his bruises.  He never spoke unless he was forced to. I pitied him, to be honest. (I never thought he would have me , pitying him, but everyone surprises themselves at least once in their lives.) His voice was so soft like a little immature child who never grew up. It was weak, which was the only word that fully described him. But, whenever he spoke, I had to listen. Because… he was the only person who would talk back to me. Even if it was the littlest of words, the tiniest changes in tone, I could sense it. Naturally, I tried to make him get rid of that arrogance, but it never worked. Even with everything I did, all the pain I inflicted, it never worked.

 

It was so annoying. Especially when I found out that this little man wanted to be a Pro Hero. It was hilarious. Him? This quiet, Quirkless guy? It was impossible, but he was competition nonetheless. Even if he couldn’t do anything, he could get in my way. Naturally, I tried to destroy that little dream of his. Like before, it never worked. I couldn’t understand why it never worked. I even made him admit that he was lower than me, but we both knew that he never meant it.

 

I swear, this boy… I would tear every follicle of his white hair with black streaks coming across it. Even then, it probably wouldn’t work. I had to admit that he was firm in his belief. Thinking back on it, that was major change in him. One day, his eyes were empty like a dead man. Whatever happened to him, it sparked a tiny little light in his eyes. I tried my best to snuff it out like a candlelight, but it never worked. It was amazing, completely unexpected, considering how much of a wimp he was. Everyone else praised me, said I would be a great Hero, maybe better than All Might! They believed in me, they knew I was the best. They stayed out of my way, never challenged me, and that was that. That was that... But, this guy? Yeah, he said I was strong a couple of times, but he said it like it was fact. It is fact, but he never praised me. He never held onto me and told me how great I was. It was only a simple sentence with an indifferent voice, not caring whatsoever. The nerve of him was astounding. To him, I was like everyone else. It insulted me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Especially not to him.

 

Then, out of nowhere, he moved away. I took the Entrance Exam into U.A. without any worries. I destroyed a lot of robots, but I didn’t make it into the Hero Course. In a letter, they stated the reason why: “Gross incompetence of rescuing.” I tore the letter the moment I saw that. All I did was leave a few hopeless guys behind. Sure, they were stuck, but I’m not going to go out of my own way to save them. Jokes on me though, because if I had saved them, then I would’ve gotten into the Hero Course. Ugh, they didn’t even tell us about the “Rescue Points” or whatever it was called.

 

As a result, I got placed in 1-D with other people like me. (“People like me”, ugh…) Then, Golden Week came around. Imagine my surprise when I found him. Before, I heard that a legally Quirkless kid got into the Hero Course at U.A., but I didn’t believe it was him. I swore I saw him a few times too, but I still never believed it was him. I was wrong. There he was… completing an impossible challenge. “Adoptive Muscle Memory” was his excuse. If he was that great, then why didn’t he show it during middle school? Ugh, I never felt such hate in my life until that moment. The idea that he could be in 1-B, the Hero Course, and not me? Not me? Our entire middle school propped me up as their god, and he was the lowest, right at my feet. I had him at my feet .

 

Now, he came back stronger. There was a new look in his eyes, a new voice hanging in his throat. He was much more confident, much more strong, more brave! He was like a new man, even telling me to put our past behind us. Like hell I was gonna to do that. I had to set the world right. Our positions should be reversed. If life couldn’t do it, then I sure will. It was never supposed to be like this.

 

I swear, my hatred grew even more when I found out about his new life. He was being trained as Master Kendo’s disciple alongside a beautiful woman. Having a chance to be a master martial artist? With a beautiful girl? That kind of life is what movies and TV shows are made of. It’s the kind of life that men would kill for. He used it well, considering how much he changed since then. Or maybe, it simply revealed what kind of man he really was. Either way, I wanted him to be underneath my feet once again.

 

But, I lost. 1-D lost. It was a blowout, and I lost control of my Quirk. Mom warned me what would happen if I did. I almost killed him, plenty of other people too. 1-A knocked me out, thankfully. I was surprised that I didn’t get expelled. I still don’t know why I didn’t, but I took that as God giving me another chance to set everything right. My classmates in 1-D got a little scared of me after that, but who cares? I’m the class rep, the important one. Everyone else, especially Mantora (the vice class rep somehow, the asshole), won’t get in my way. 

 

That’s why, when I heard about what Fuyushiro Tokage did to Hifumi, one of our own at U.A., I had to do something. I had to, for the good of the school! Even if 1-B has to suffer as a result, especially him.

 

No matter what, I’ll end you, Sanji Inochi. This is what you get for ignoring me, living the life that I was supposed to have.

 

~~~

 

Togaru Kamakiri

“How the hell can we beat that ?!” Tsuburaba hollers, pointin’ at the large icicle that Todoroki made. For Endeavour’s son, Todoroki sure likes usin’ ice a lot, not his fire. Wonder if he’ll ever use it. It’ll be terrifying as hell though, ‘cause if his ice could be this damn big, what does that say ‘bout his fire? It could burn hotter than his pa’s. Yet, for some damn reason, I have an itch that this guy is kinda like me.

 

Shoda sinks in his seat, pullin’ his uniform up to cover half his face. “I’m so glad I gave up my spot… I would have lost…” Poor, chubby dude. Shinso, that zombie-lookin’ fucker, took control of his mind along with that tail guy, what’s his face… Ojiro. I heard he trains at the dojo with Inochi, Kendo, an’ Midoriya. Good thing Midoriya tossed Shinso out. He broke his damn fingers though. (What the hell is with his Quirk?)

 

“Oh crud, Todoroki needs to chill out. Kekekeke!” Honenuki makes another damn pun. Fuckin’ hell, he’s gettin’ the stink eye from everyone ‘round him, includin’ me. He’s a nice guy an’ all, but really? His laugh is really freakin’ weird too. At least it ain’t Monoma’s. “What’s with that look? I’m making a joke! I know Kamakiri is too much of a tough guy to make one!”

 

“I can make a joke outta you, if that’s what ya want,” I snap back, gettin’ some unwanted ooh’s an’ aah’s from the boys ‘round us. Honenuki looks fake-scared, but he drops it an’ laughs his laugh again. I say, leanin’ back in my seat, “Hey Bony, mind to cut that laugh out? It’s the weirdest thing ‘bout ya.”

 

“I have a list of weird things about you , Kamakiri. Here’s one: You look like a middle school science experiment gone wrong.” Honenuki fires back. An’ what the hell? The boys are making ooh’s an’ aah’s again. Goddamnit, are we really doin’ this now? Honenuki is soakin’ this in. Well, I hafta shoot something back now.

 

“Damn, I need popcorn!”

“Why are you encouraging this?”

“Guys, what’s going o-?”

“Shut up, Inochi. These two are going at it.”

“...?”

 

“This is comin’ from a guy with his teeth out like a gorilla. Compensatin’ for somethin’, Bony?” I ask with a little wink added in. Awase an’ Tsuburaba gets even louder, gettin’ on the edge of their seats.

 

“He went there!”

“Why are you guys like this?”

“Shut up, Inochi! Just watch this battle, man!”

 

Honenuki adjusts his gym uniform, sittin’ up slightly. Oh boy, he looks determined. I’m ‘bout to get hit with the resolve of a U.A. student. “Hmph, where’s your nose? We might as well call you ‘Stain’.” Oh damn, he compared me to that disgustin’ bastard.

 

“Isn’t Inochi kinda like Stain…?”

“Shush, Shoda! Enjoy this!”

“I’m so confused.”

“Shut up, Inochi! This is great!”

 

“Okay, you cranky bastard. Growin’ up, you remind me of the monster hidin’ in my closet. It’s pale and horrifying, but it’s a helluva lot more handsomer than you,” I hit Honenuki back, and he leans back in his chair bein’ fake-killed. Tsuburaba, behind him, pushes him forward, eggin’ him on.

 

“Are you gonna take that, Honenuki?!”

“Shut up, Inochi!”

“I didn’t even say anything this time!”

 

Honenuki locks eyes with me. Alright, let’s see what he got in store this time. I hope it’s better than his puns, but even that bar is too damn low. “You sound like the bug I stepped on earlier. Was he your… uhm… friend?” That was sad. Poor Honenuki! A recommendation student but can’t talk for shit. Looks like I’ll win alright. It’ll be the only thing I win in this damn festival.

 

“Looks like you will take it…”

“Ouch, think hard, Honenuki!”

“...Why did I sit here?”

“Don’t worry, Shoda. I don’t know why I came here too.”

 

“Somethin’ wrong, Bony? Is your teeth bitin’ off more than they can che-?”

 

“Can you immature boys stop this?” Kendo butts in our little war, movin’ besides Inochi. The guys around us, ‘cept for me an’ her little Sanji, straighten up like a board. Honenuki bows his head in defeat, sinkin’ in his seat. 

 

“Yeah, alright, Kendo!”

“Whatever you say!”

“Not a word from me.”

“I wasn’t apart of this.”

“I’m just reading a manga!”
“What happened, Miss Kendo? I was reading a book.”

“Don’t worry, Shishida. Nothing to worry about.”

 

“Thank you. Now, Kamakiri…” Kendo addresses me personally. I turn in my seat, lookin’ up at her with a bit of a look. Ah, I didn’t say anything. She must want me to say somethin’. She says, with a cocky smirk, “Do you know where Pony is? She went out to get food for us, but she hasn’t come back. I figured she would text you first.” (Eh?! Pony’s gone?)

 

I ask, huffin’, “Why the hell d’ya think that? Horns would text you first, not me, Fists.” Right as I say that, everyone shakes their head. Oh c’mon, what the fuck? Do these people think I’m Pony’s go-to? Kendo’s practically her second mother, for some damn reason. Cut that, Kendo’s the sister. She’s the big sister of 1-fuckin’-B.

 

“Kamakiri, we all know how much she cares about you. Do I need to point out your lock screen, or the pictures she sent me? I can send them out to everyone,” Kendo threatens me? What the hell is wrong with her? But fuck, how many pictures did Pony take? An’ why the hell does Kendo have them? Knowing Pony, she probably gave them to her when she asked. Goddamnit… this girl will be the end of me… Her an’ her big eyes.

 

I stand up and head towards the tunnel, sayin’, “You know, I’m gonna find this annoyin’ girl, alright? Just so your annoyin’ ass can stop talkin’ to me about this shit.” Before they get a chance to respond, I leave their sorry faces behind. The only thing I hear is my name an’ some suggestive whistlin’. Motherfuckers…

 

They’ve been on my