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No Rose is Without its Thorns

Chapter Text

Izuku awoke, his body tense and muscles aching from being crammed into a cage made to fit a medium sized dog. The screams of his fellow 'patients' greeted him happily and he groaned tiredly. They were never silent, their minds all broken from the never-ending experiments. It wasn't their fault, but he wouldn't mind some silence every once in a while. They were so, so loud.

He subconsciously scratched at a phantom itch on the back of his hand, nails scraping and tearing, reveling in the soft release it brought until he began to draw blood. He pulled his hand away when he began to feel the tepid liquid trail down his arm and he silently cursed. That was imprudent and stupid. He was exhausted from the experiments and the overuse of his quirk and shouldn't waste his precious energy on something as silly as self-harm, even if it made him feel so much better. That alone was a new low.

He opened his eyes and heaved his heavy head from the cold metal bars behind him when the creek of the broad doors being pushed open echoed through the room. He jumped at the noise, fear freezing in his veins. Anything that came through those doors was never good. This time they entered with a dirty, empty gurney to be put away until needed again. His stomach did a little flip. An empty gurney meant another had died. Another poor soul had been ripped away from the world, and Izuku wondered what kind of life his now dead peer had lived before ending up here. He hoped it was better than his at least, though he knew it wasn't likely. No one with a good life ended up here.

Izuku didn’t exactly understand why his mother gave him away to this facility, but he honestly hated her for it. He was ten when she sold him off, her only explanation being a tearful murmur of apologies and the empty promise that the nice doctors would help him. Help him with what, he was never fully sure, but the longer he was there the more he began to figure out it was about his quirk. Like many people in the facility, his quirk was… unique. His case was a bit different, of course. He didn't carry the usual brand of uniqueness that many other quirks had. Instead, his was literally fate changing. He was four when it developed, the memory bittersweet. His mom refused to so much as meet his gaze. His quirk had been the cause, of course. It was a villain’s, after all.

The doctors left the room once again, leaving Izuku alone with the ‘once people,’ once again, though he truly preferred their company over those who imprisoned them. Izuku was barely still a thinking being, the only thing keeping him sane was the rhymes and poems he made up. Most of them were sad, but what else would he think about? He was a guinea pig to a bunch of madmen, it’s not like he had much to be happy about. Occasionally he sang little tunes to himself until his voice was hoarse, just in order to block out the other’s screams. He began a new poem as soon as the metal doors swung shut once again. He came up with one and began to mumble it under his breath in silent prayer.

“When my mind broke,
It laid bare in my soul
First shining through the cracks
Then bleeding through the holes
Until nothing was left
But raindrops of gold.”
He repeated it over and over until he felt himself begin to drift off. He soon fell asleep, ignoring the feeling of being watched. It wasn't really anything he had.

He woke up once again, this time at the sound of his tiny cage being unlocked. He shoved himself in the corner of his confinement in a futile attempt to escape the nurse’ grasp, to no avail. He was wrenched out by the spidery young woman and strapped down to a gurney much like the one he saw earlier. Once he was strapped down, he knew to be silent and still. There was no escaping the grasp of his captors, and struggling would only make things worse.

He began to mumble out his poem again, attempting to distract himself from the impending doom that would bring him an inch closer to insanity. He was brought to the familiar white room and was taken from the gurney to be strapped into a large chair, almost like the ones you would see at a dentist’s office. The gurney was left in the back behind Izuku, just out of sight. The doctor, Izuku liked to call him Bubbles because of his large round glasses, entered with two nurses. He sat down on a small swivel chair much like the ones actual doctors use and asked Izuku the usual questions, his name, how old he was, what his quirk was, and if he had any pain while trying to use his quirk. He answered each one the same way he always did, replying only with his first name, as he would probably never return to his mother if he ever got out of the lab, telling him that he thought he was at least twelve, and that of course, he had pain asshat. Bubbles just nodded.

At first, Izuku didn’t understand why he asked the same questions every time they met, but he soon began to understand that it was a test of sanity. Izuku was one of very few who was still competent enough to speak, hell, he might have even been the last. Thoughts like that made him feel even more alone, however, and so he pushed them away.
Bubbles once again for the hundredth explained that they were going to run a few tests on him and his quirk. Izuku nodded when the doctor looked expectantly at him, gulping slightly, No matter how many times he had to go through this, how many times he had to hurt someone for the doctor’s sick research, it never got easier.

Today, they brought in a young woman. She was short and unhealthily thin and was wearing inappropriate clothing. She was most definitely a prostitute, and definitely not the first, nor probably the last one he would meet. Before Izuku was taken to the facility, he had no idea how dark the world was. How empty and cruel it could be. The woman stood in front of a strapped down Izuku. He was honestly confused as to how the lab was able to convince people to take part in the experiments. When it came to him, he assumed that they told people of only the good his quirk could do without mentioning the drawbacks. He wasn’t actually sure if they used volunteers in anyone else’s tests.

She looked over to Bubbles, who gave her a small nod and began to tell him her life story. The first time he heard a woman’s story of how she was sold into sex trafficking as a young child upset him so much he actually cried in front of Bubbles and took the consequence of her request to bear himself. This was a very painful mistake for both him and the lady. She was the first death he had bore witness to, but unfortunately not the last. He also gained his first life-threatening injury, leaving an angry pink scar stretching underneath his ribcage. Luckily, none of his other wounds were as scarring as this one.
Finally, she made her request. “I want to be famous!” she spat out, clearly embarrassed. Izuku sighed, though she went on with an explanation. “If I were famous, I would always have money to provide for myself, and no one would ever be able to take advantage of me again.” her voice had grown steadily, and she finally met his eyes. He just stared at her, once again feeling disappointed. Like most people, her sin was greed. If she had phrased it differently, the collateral wouldn’t have been so high.

He exhaled deeply and looked over to bubbles, who stood and unstrapped his left arm. Izuku held out his scrawny hand to the woman.
“Please hold out your hand, Miss.” His voice was soft and devoid of any emotion. He repeated his poem in his head, blocking out any guilt. It wasn’t his fault, it was hers. She could have easily fixed the phrasing into something that sounded less selfish. He tried to convince himself that this was just how it was, that he wasn’t evil. He didn’t believe a single word of it.

“Alright Miss,” Izuku said, manifesting a full, beautiful black rose in his outreached hand. “It will be done, and the rose is a contract of our deal. I have to warn you though.” He said, his eyes darting over to Bubbles, “all deals come with a price.”
She nodded. “I know, but it’s definitely worth it.” her eyes were filled with excitement and greed. He pitied the poor girl, wishing he could tell her the cost.
“Alright, take the rose.” She practically snatched it out of his hand, hissing slightly as a thorn pricked her thumb. Collateral was due.

She wailed at a sudden pain in her hands, falling to the ground and hiding them in the pits of her arms, screaming loudly. She stopped suddenly after minutes of yelling, dropping down to lay in a pool of blood, growing more and more as the stubs of her wrist leaked the warm fluid. Those whose sin is greed lose their hands, to never again hold their possessions. Luckily her request wasn’t too big. She’d live from her amputation and be able to at least somewhat enjoy her side of the deal. When she returned home after getting patched up, she would discover a letter that would fulfill his part. That helped ease his guilt, but the pit in his stomach didn’t shrink.

He watched as the nurses picked her up under her arms and dragged her out of the room, a horror movie trail of blood smudging behind her. Bubbles watched for a second as well before sitting back down in his swiveling stool and moved in front of him, holding his clipboard and pen, ready to take notes. “So, P-045, any new discoveries when using your quirk? Any signs of overuse? He request was a bit excessive, the greedy wench.”

Izuku shook his head, trying to hide his disgust at the cruel doctor. How dare he make fun of a poor woman who had just lost parts of her body in order to better her life? It was times like this he truly wished he could inflict pain on those who were the true sinners, the monsters. But no, instead he left those in need half dead. Bubbles still sat in front of him, jotting down more notes before the two nurses entered again, hands bloody. He scribbled down a few more notes before setting down the pen with a soft click and announced that they were done here. One of the pale-faced nurses grabbed the gurney from behind them and readied the restraints. One stood with her hands over his chest, the other began to unstrap Izuku from the chair. As soon as he was free, his wrists and ankles were seized and he was thrown onto the gurney and strapped down just as fast.

They headed back down the halls, the wails of his fellow freaks getting louder as they neared the room where they resided. He had grown tired of the newest poem, but he made it a rule to never make one up after hurting someone. They end up messy and put him in a worse place, and so he decided on humming. At first, the workers of the lab didn’t like his mumbling or humming or counting, but he would dare say a few of the nurses had grown fond of it. It was definitely a step up from the rest of the noise.

The metal doors opened, unleashing the noise and scent izuku had somehow grown used to. He was unstrapped and thrown back into his tiny little cage, his head hitting the back of the cage, jostling it slightly. One of the nurses mumbled about food being her soon as she locked the cage. Izuku, never forgetting his manners, thanked her quietly. Not truly because he was thankful for the pruny old woman for giving him slop, but because his mother had raised him to be polite to others. He did a decent job of it, in his opinion. Especially when taking the shit he went through on a daily basis. The gruel was soon delivered to him just in time for lights out, meaning he had to sleep in his cramped cage next to the mush. He sighed. It seemed he was going to have to shove it all down unless he wanted to wake up with some part of his body coated in the mystery gook.

He began to gulp down bites of mush, shivering at the taste. No matter how many times he’s been forced to eat it, the taste never got less offensive. He ate it all in minutes, only stopping for breath after he had finished inhaling his ‘food.’ He set the tray on the farthest corner, looking at in disdain, before leaning his head back against the cold bars like he’d done a million times before, and began to hum a soft gentle tune. He moved his hands in tune, making gentle waves, twisting his palms up and making them almost swirl. He realized how crazy he looked, but he really didn’t care. He was entertained, and it wasn’t like anyone else in the room could even acknowledge him. Or so he thought, until a soft voice spoke behind him.

“It seems that he’s finally gone insane.” the person said, talking to themselves, but Izuku assumed it was about him. He turned around to face 5 cages, though all of them were seemingly empty.
“Or not,” the person said, “Over here!” Izuku’s eyes caught the movement of something white in the farthest away cage behind him. he squinted at it, trying to make sense of the creature he saw. It might have been the lighting, but the fuzzy animal looked like a bear or a dog, but it sat with its legs crossed and its…paws? waving in the air. Izuku stared speechlessly. There had been other animals in here before, but they were rare and none of them were like this thing. There was a dog who could grow and shrink in size and a parrot who could blend in with its surroundings, but they didn’t hold a candle to this beast.
Izuku gave it a little wave to it. It waved back. “Hello there,” it said sounding excited, “I’m Nezu!”

Well, this was odd. “H-hi, Nezu.” He continued to stare at Nezu, honestly still in shock. It shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was, all things considered. He inhaled. “What… are you? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.”

Nezu looked down at himself, smile looking a bit dull. “That is a good question! Am I a dog? A bear? A mouse? Well, pretty much all of the above!” Again, shouldn’t have been surprising. He nodded, though he was a little confused as to how Nezu’s conception came to be, though he’d worry about it later.
“I guess that makes sense. How long have you been here?” he asked. He hadn’t seen the bear thing before in the past few years he had been in the facility, but he honestly hadn’t seen many of the other captives up close either.

His smile dropped, leaving a blank face mimicking that of a stuffed animal. “5 years. I’ve been imprisoned in this facility for 5 years.” Izuku stared, shell shocked. That was… a lot of time. What had he been through in that time? How had he ended up here? Questions swirled in his mind and a little bit of excitement twisted guiltily in his stomach. It was kind of nice to have someone he could relate to, even if it was an animal. He felt terrible about the thought. He was happy about other living beings’ imprisonment. What an awful human he truly was.
“I-I’m sorry. That’s a long time.” He had disconnected from the conversation already, the terrible giddiness turned to guilt, leaving him angry at himself. His face had dropped into an empty stare, hiding the shame of his previous notion of Nezu’s past.

Nezu’s bright smile stretched back across his plush face once again, looking almost as though it never left. “It’s quite alright, my boy! Thanks to you, we’ll soon be free!”
This woke Izuku from his poem-smithing, though he wasn’t all too surprised by the hint to a request. What did spike his interest was how he knew about his quirk. It wasn’t like he spoke outwardly about his quirk, though he had probably sung a poem about it at some point. He’d rather that be the case than him hearing it from someone in the lab, but he knew the ladder was more likely the case.
He felt the tinge of disappointment, of course. He always did at the prospect of a deal. “Well, you seem to have it figured out. What is your request? What do you want?” he hated the rush of zeal in his gut that followed his question. This was different than his previous deals in a few different ways, and a part of him was eager to see how these differences would affect the outcome. First off, the deal was with an animal, so that was a fun twist. He wasn’t exactly sure if that would affect any aspects of that, but he was honestly excited to see how it would play out. Second off, Nezu had said ‘We’ll be free,’ which held a promise, leaving him anxious. He hadn’t ever been included in the ‘reward’ part of a deal, and he wasn’t sure if it could even be done. That idea scared him. If the deal didn’t go through with him included and if he was left in the facility, the doctors would truly have a field day throwing all new, even worse things at him in punishment, he had no doubt of that. But, just maybe, if he were able to escape… he pushed down the hope filling up in his stomach like helium. Hope had never gotten him anywhere, there was no place for it in his life.

“You have already assumed as much, but I’d like your assistance in the freedom of everyone held captive in this facility.” This definitely surprised Izuku. He couldn’t find sin in the request, not even finding pride in Nezu’s voice. It brought him literal tears, as no one would get hurt. He couldn’t hurt him with such a pure and just request, though Izuku knew there was still selfish intent, that didn’t change anything. His words weren’t selfish, and thus his quirk deemed Nezu pure. The beast was a rarity indeed. Izuku sniffled as he flicked a new rose out of the air and held it towards the bear-mouse-dog.
“Alright, Nezu. It will be done, and the rose is our contract. Of course, I have to warn you. All deals come with a price.” Nezu nodded seriously. Izuku nodded back, shaking slightly as he extended it farther out towards him. He was so excited! “Okay, take the rose from my hand, a-and we’ll all be free.” Nezu was careful as he took it, attempting to not be too eager. “Ouch!” his soft voice said as the thorn pricked him, and Izuku squeezed his eyes shut.

1...2...3…He opened them when a breeze blew over him and was momentarily met with a sense of calm he had never experienced before. He was truly free. He looked to his side to an as equally calm and happy Nezu. They were free. He was then giddy. He was so, so giddy and so he jumped up and shouted, only to slip on wetness underneath his feet that made his stomach clench. It was blood. The calm happiness was gone and they were back in the facility, only this time the cages were gone and the usual screaming had stopped. Izuku followed the blood with his eyes, finding a heap of bloodied white coats and blue scrubs. The fear in his stomach left, but guilt stabbed at him painfully. How dare he think his quirk could do anything but cause pain?
A fluffy paw grabbed his hand, but Izuku refused to look at Nezu. He didn’t want to be seen crying. Not ever again, not after what Bubbles had done to him for crying. The others were scattered throughout the facility, almost all of them silent. Some of the walls had already had filth smeared on the wall, the halls beginning to stink with the same smell that clouded the patients’ quarters. Izuku and Nezu walked out, hand in hand, feeling anything but free. They called the police as soon as they hit the nearest town, despite it being almost a day away and not having slept or eaten in a while. They would make sure their peers would be okay, at least as close to it as they ever could be.

They spent the night in a park, and it was a joy. Izuku sprawled out in the grass under a tree, shivering in his thin paper scrubs and grinning crazily. It was just unreal. He was finally out. He was finally free. Guilt still haunted his mind and reminded him that others died because of him, but he pushed it back with all the other parlous thoughts. He would be happy tonight. He would.
Tonight was a renewal, and Izuku was reborn. Into who exactly? He’d have to wait and see.

Chapter Text

Izuku sat in the small waiting room, kicking his legs back and forth. He ignored the stares from the receptionists by focussing on a new poem he made after Nezu had somehow gotten an apartment without any money nor any form of ID. He was awestruck and saw it as a bit of a miracle. And thus, a new rhyme was written inside his head.

When you least expect it,
The stars align.
Even when you don’t deserve it,
True hope will shine.
When your heart is hurting,
Things pull through,
And sometimes,
When the night has fallen,
Dreams eventually do come true.

He must have said it aloud because the receptionist on the far righthand corner was staring at him as though he had grown a second head, and he felt his cheeks heat up. AT times, he wished he could just disappear from sight. He couldn’t be stared at if they couldn’t see him. If people couldn’t see him, they wouldn’t ask him for things. He wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone if he was invisible. He curled his legs into his lap and pulled his knees into his lap. Nezu had said the meeting would only last around ten minutes, but that seemed to have been a miscalculation on his part, as it had been at least half an hour since he entered the large office with a man in a nice suit. The building they were in was absurdly huge and intimidating. Izuku had asked Nezu where they were, only to be met with a sly smile and a simple “my new job.” Izuku didn’t like it when Nezu acted like that; mysterious. He knew Nezu wouldn’t ever do anything to bring him harm, but that didn’t reassure him well enough. Izuku liked knowing all he could. After getting the new apartment, Izuku had pleaded with Nezu to get him into a new school. He wanted to learn about everything, whether the subject was considered boring or not. He had missed 2 full years of schooling, and thus he needed to catch up.

Nezu refused to send Izuku to a public school, however. The boy was much too smart to rub elbows with other snot-nosed 12-year-olds, and so Nezu decided homeschooling was the best way to go about schooling him. He soon found out that the boy was a fast learner, and so he filled Izuku with as much knowledge as he could take. Luckily, he sucked up all the knowledge easily and hungered for more, wanting to know all that Nezu could teach him and so much more. Nezu decided in order for Izuku to learn all that he could, he would need to attend the best school in Japan, UA. In order for that to occur as soon as possible, Nezu would need to be in control of the said school.
He wasn’t really concerned about Izuku getting into a hero course, he would still receive the best education available even if he didn’t. It really depended on what Izuku wanted. If he wanted to get into the hero course, Nezu would do his best to help him achieve that goal.

After they escaped the facility, Nezu vowed that he would help this child grow and succeed despite his background and his twisted quirk. He saw something in Izuku that he didn’t in almost all other humans he’d ever interacted with, and he wanted to nurture it. He wanted Izuku to rise above his peers and persevere, which wouldn’t be too difficult, considering how he was already learning things tailored for a second-year student in high school.

And so, in short, Izuku was the reason Nezu was fighting to keep his cool while an underqualified man attempted to assess every aspect about him, and then criticizing him over the smallest things, like his lack of any form of identification or of his mixed origins that resulted in his appearance. The man was tedious, Ludacris, and simply rude. He found it funny how humans could have such terrible manners. They invented the whole concept, and yet so little of the actually paid mind to the rules.

He made a mental note to ensure that Izuku held tight to his manners. Politeness was a habit that needed to be practiced in order to make a good impression, and kindness was a way of life that ensured everlasting friendships. These two things were needed in order to thrive in life, and so Izuku would learn to use them to his advantage. The boy was too accepting of others, hence why he hadn’t figured out a way to escape on his own when they were in the lab. He had trusted that someone else would save him eventually, and so he let the experiments continue and others continued to be hurt by his quirk. It truly was a shame, that he had relied so heavily on others. Nezu would help him get rid of that reliance. It would hinder him and make him easy prey for manipulators and liers, and Nezu didn’t want Izuku to end up as someone’s lap dog when he could be so much more. He couldn’t wait for the moronic man to quit talking so he could just get the job. Izuku was no doubt having a terrible time, and Nezu wished he could’ve just taken the boy in with him. So be it, however. So be it.

Another twenty minutes passed until Nezu finally left the large office. He had a happy grin stretched across his face, signaling something had definitely gone right for the creature. Izuku immediately felt better when Nezu came into view, but he restrained himself from running to him. He wasn’t a child, and that would be a childish thing to do. Instead, he stayed seated and smiled to the bear thing, trying to convey a sense of calm that wasn’t there. He couldn’t tell if he bought it, but he assumed not. He was too smart to believe such an obvious lie when the tremors in his hands told a different story.

Nezu walked over to him and smiled a genuine smile, different than the prideful one he bore moments ago. “Let’s head home.” Izuku nodded, his own smile spreading across his lips.
They took a cab home, the drive filled with silence. They hardly spoke freely when in the company of others, a habit derived from years of having to be near silent when they were in the company of the scientists and nurses. Izuku felt anxious, his mind filled with what ifs. What if Nezu didn’t actually get the job? What if they were kicked out of there home? He pushed away from the thoughts, something he had gotten very good at while in captivity. They would be okay even if Nezu didn’t get the job. He had spent years being experimented on, he could handle life on the streets if need be. He would be okay.

The cab stopped with a screeching halt, producing an ugly noise that had hurt his head. They were silent as they walked to their apartment, taking a deep sigh of relief as soon as the entered their home. Izuku practically sprinted to his tiny room and changed out of his nice formal clothing into a soft sweater and shorts, not caring about how they clashed. He never left the house in anything less than nice formal clothing, using his outfits as armor to defend from the self-consciousness he harbored. He had large, angry scars stretching up and down his arm and hand, caused by his own fingers.

When stressed, he would scratch at his arm in order to calm down. The method worked for a while until the pain lost its ability to distract him, but the damage had already been done and he was left with scars that seemed to never fade. While in formal wear, others didn’t pay attention to the scars that he couldn’t hide with his sleeves. He was hidden away in plain sight only using the clothes on his back as a disguise.

That didn’t mean he enjoyed wearing the clothes all day, however. Though they provided him with the comfort of staying hidden, they couldn’t hold a candle to his comfy sweaters and hoodies. He truly felt at peace when wrapped in a gigantic shirt and often used his sweaters to cope with stress.

He walked back out to the living room and kitchen where Nezu had already started the kettle. He had set two cups out, ready to be used. It meant a lot to Izuku that he would make him a cup of tea. It was nice to have someone who truly cared for him enough to make him something like tea. He sat down on the couch, legs crossed and arms folded neatly in his lap. While waiting for Nezu to come and sit down, Izuku came up with a happy little hymn about tea and began humming it to himself. It was childish and silly, but he was home, and so it didn't matter.

He finally sat down with the two mugs and smiled, offering one to Izuku. He took it, thanked him, and then began sipping on his delicious green tea. The slight tang of the tea and the sweetness of honey blended together beautifully, filling up his tummy with a happy warmth. For the first time all day, he felt at peace. He took this opportunity of calm to ask Nezu the questions on his mind. “Hey Nezu, what exactly was that place? And did you get the job?” He had turned fully to face him, hands still lovingly wrapped around his half-empty cup. Nezu just smiled at him, taking a long sip from his own cup.

“That, my boy, was your new school, UA! I did indeed get the job, of course, and starting next fall, you will be attending. You still have to go through exams, of course, but you’re entering in on recommendations.” Izuku was shocked and just about dropped his cup. School? Real school?

“I thought you didn’t want me to go to public school?” Izuku couldn’t believe it. He’d heard of UA before when he was younger, why didn’t he recognize the building? It then hit him. “Uhh, Nezu? UA is a high school. I can’t enroll.” Nezu just chuckled and shook his head. “My boy, you are smart enough to help teach the classes! Age doesn’t affect the test, and so as long as you pass the entrance exams, you can get in just fine!”

Those words stuck with Izuku the rest of the night, his stomach filling with both dread and excitement. He was going to school!

Chapter Text

The months passed fast, and soon it was August, the month of exams. Within the 7 months that Nezu had been running UA, Izuku had met almost all the heroes and had figured out the ins and outs of the building. He honestly wasn't as fond of the heroes as he thought he would be, especially after years of obsessing over them. Some were too clingy and touchy-feely, while others seemed to be completely fake. That wasn't the only thing that had changed about him. He found people tiring, and was a lot timider than he ever was before. There was also the nightmares and the constant tightness in his chest. He figured these were all side effects of being trapped in the facility, though he didn't think much of it. It was just who he was now.

He was lying in his bed, unable to sleep once again. His grey digital clock flickered the number 5:27, making him sigh. Nezu slept until 6 every morning, and Izuku didn't want to throw him from that schedule by accidentally waking him up. The bright stars and a little crescent moon that decorated the walls of his room provided him with just enough light for reading. He stood up slowly and quietly crept across his plush beige carpet to the large oak bookcase that stood against the wall of his spacious room. He examined the shelves carefully, searching for his favorite book. And there it was, the worn yellow paperback sat on the top shelf, wedged in between two larger hardbacks that he'd probably only read one or twice. He stood on the tips of his toes and grabbed hold of the spine, bringing it down to hold in both of his hands.

He walked back to his bed and covered his legs back up with his blankets before propping himself up against the backboard of his bed. Once again, as he had done at least 3,000 times before, he took a moment to savor the fact that he could do this. He could lie in his own bed under soft, warm covers and read his very own book at any time. He was truly blessed. He opened up his book to his favorite page and began to read his favorite passage. At first, he found it odd that Nezu would get him a book full of poems about love, but Izuku had grown to adore the simple little rhymes. He could spend hours reading and rereading every poem in that book, but it was reaching 6, and today was an important day. He would need to get ready soon. Today the Recommendation exams were taking place, and Nezu had wanted Izuku's opinion of the candidates. Izuku himself had taken his own private test weeks before due to his unique situation and was going to be attending class 1-A in the fall, and so he figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a look at his possible classmates.

He took another peek at his clock. 5:48, late enough to begin getting ready for his venture of the day. He grabbed the bookmark that sat idly on his bedside table and carefully slid it into his book and closed the cover. He carried it back to the shelf and placed it right back to where he got it earlier and made his way to his closet. He carefully examined his freshly pressed formal wear, trying to decide which outfit to wear. He didn't plan to actually be seen by any of the other students, but like hell he would leave his home without his armor.

He decided on black slacks, a white button up, and a light blue tie. He paused for a second before taking out a cream colored sweater and threw it on over his shirt and removed his tie. Something simple and elegant. He inspected his outfit in the mirror for a minute before deeming it worthy for the day. Despite them clashing entirely with his outfit, he threw on his bright red sneakers. Nezu had bought him them as his first pair of shoes in years, and he cherished them. Not to mention that Nezu had an almost matching pair except for the color and a few other minor details. He checked his clock one last time, satisfied as the screen flickered a bright 6:00. It was time to begin the day.

Nezu was very eager for today. Not only was he going to meet the first official students of his first year as principal, but Izuku would get his first opportunity to examine his future classmates. This would be an important step for him. Not only would he get to exercise his observation skills, but he would be able to get to know his peers a bit. He had no doubt that Izuku planned on staying hidden, but that simply would not do. He was a young man and should be out making friends! Nezu was a big enough bear creature to admit that he hadn't been adamant enough on insisting Izuku got out more, but it was never too late to throw him into society!

They stood outside of the condo and waited for their ride. Izuku fiddled with his cufflinks and his backpack straps, unable to hold still. He was teeming with excitement. In his little yellow pack, he carried all the things he would need for the day. One notebook for observations, a second for drawing the potential students and their quirks, a small pencil case overfilled with pencils, colors, and various other drawing utensils, snacks, his coat just in case it got chilly, and stuffed at the very bottom sat a small, round stuffed owl. He knew it was childish, but Fluff had helped him through the night terrors and panic attacks, and so he saw no reason as to why she couldn't get him through any anxiety the day could bring.

After 5 minutes of waiting patiently, the limo finally pulled up. They climbed in and buckled themselves up. The opposite seat was filled with stuffed animals, making Izuku smile. He wondered whether the driver or the teachers had done it.

Another 20 minutes and they arrived at UA. It was early, around 6:40, and so they had time to kill. Nezu had a meeting with the other instructors to discuss the exams, and so Izuku was free to do as he pleased. Instead of exploring the halls like he had done a thousand times before, he opted to take some time to himself and draw in his cave. He made his way to Nezu's office as fast as he could without running and opened the door, immediately feeling content. He closed it behind him and opened a single blind to provide a little bit of light. He made his way to Nezu's desk and crouched down, sitting underneath it in his cavern of blankets and pillows. This was his safe space, a little home away from home.

He shrugged off his bag and sat it in front of him and dug out his sketchbook and pencil bag, before deciding on what to draw. He touched a pen to his chin and contemplated before a chill ran down his spine. A rose. He would draw a rose. He began with the budding center, moving out to the inner most petals. The more he drew, the more the tightness in his chest grew. He mumbled a tense rhyme, the confusing song easing his constricted throat. He couldn't stop his hand as it etched the pencil across the paper, the graphite not once leaving the page. His was trapped in a trance, thrown back in the laboratory with the bodies of those who he'd killed and those who he couldn't save. Tremors shook his body and his pencil dug deeper into the paper. Deeper, and deeper, and deeper, until the lead snapped, breaking him free from his trance. He unceremoniously tossed the book away from him, breath haggard. He squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed the bottom of his palms into the sockets, trying to erase the images from memory.

His breathing finally slowed into a shallow sighing thing, and he began to cry. The salty tears trailed down his doughy cheeks, and he just wanted to go home. His exhausted body sagged into the blankets that surrounded him and dragged him into sleep. He didn't even try to stay awake, knowing that Nezu would wake him up in time for the exams. He drifted away, tears still wet on his cheeks.

A soft knock on the wood of the desk woke him up an hour later, 20 minutes before exams. He rubbed the sleep and dried tears from his eyes before telling Nezu that he needed the bathroom. Nezu just nodded and told him he'd be waiting at the south wing doors before leaving. Izuku stretched, grabbed his thing and threw it all in his bag, and crawled out from under the desk and began to head out in the direction of the bathrooms. He checked himself in the mirror, fixing any crinkles in his outfit. He splashed water a little water on his face to wash away the remaining drowsiness, noting the tenseness in his shoulders and the remaining pain in his chest that never seemed to dissipate. Maybe some note taking would do him good, get his mind off of things. He did one final once over and left.

He scurried down to the south entrance, hoping that he didn't take too long. He slowed to a halt and pushed open one of the large doors, finding most of the teachers and Nezu huddled on the side of the track, getting ready to greet the eager new students. Izuku sighed, immediately wanting to return to his cave. He didn't want to put up with the annoying pros, but he would put up for it in the name of information gathering. He kept his head down as he walked towards Nezu, ignoring the greetings and touches from the heroes. He greeted the bear thing with a small smile and nod, to which Nezu responded to with a delighted grin.

He must have noticed Izuku's unease because his smile softened and he waved him away after slipping him a folded sheet of paper in a handshake. Izuku sent him a silent thank you and headed towards the bleachers, looking for a decent spot to get the best view. He decided on a seat closest to the bottom, sitting on the concrete instead of an actual bench so he could be somewhat hidden. He carefully pulled off his bag again, unzipped it, and pulled out his notebook and a pencil from the pencil box. He hesitated before pulling out Fluff and setting her on next to him, giving her a small pat before getting comfortable. He sat with his back against the benches and his knees pulled up into an arch in order to rest his notebook on like a lectern.

As he got settled, the teachers dispersed to their respective spots, some surrounding the track while others like Nezu and Present Mic made their way into the building, most likely to prep the students. Izuku felt the rush of anticipation run through him, and he couldn't wait for the exam to begin. As he waited, he unfolded the sheet of paper and inspected the 5 faces that stared back up at him. The paper only told him their name, age, and who they were recommended by. He chuckled to himself. It seems Nezu wanted him to figure out the rest by himself. No matter, it wouldn't be too difficult and he loved a challenge. He began to doodle on the inside of the cover of his notebook while munching on spicy crackers, sometimes reaching down to pat Fluff. He couldn't wait for the excitement to begin.

The pitter of steps caught his attention, his head popping up to observe as the students strutted in, some looking more confident than others. Each of them was eye-catching in their own way, and Izuku couldn't wait to see why they were special enough to make recommendations. His eyes picked apart all five of the examinees, looking for clues pointing towards their quirks. One of the boys, Todoroki Shouto, stood out right away for a few different reasons. Despite the distance between them, Izuku could almost feel the disdain roll off of him in waves. It was almost intimidating, though he had faced things much scarier than a boy who didn't seem capable of making any other expression than a glare. It made him think of someone, though he pushed that thought away. He had enough things to think about without adding a demon from forever ago.

The boy's red and white hair probably wasn't dyed and Izuku figured that it had something to do with his quirk. Considering his father's quirk, it most likely had to do with flames. After watching the boy a bit longer, he noticed a slight limp that almost went without his notice. He was able to hide it well, but not well enough for it to escape his view. Izuku assumed it could've been from training or even a simple accident, but the scar on his face made him suspect something different. He would definitely need to keep an eye on him.

Behind him was a tall dark-haired girl with a stoic face. She walked strong and confident, arms swinging softly at her sides. Yaoyorozu Momo was her name. She wore spandex and a well fitted low cut shirt and a pair of nice, almost unused running shoes. She showed the most skin out of everyone, though Izuku suspected that it was probably a calculated move in order to help her chances of getting into the top class. While all of them were guaranteed a spot in the hero course no matter what, not all of them would make it into 1-A.

A little while behind her followed a pair of examinees, a mossy haired girl, and a shaggy blonde boy. Tokage Setsuna and Honenuki Juzo. They spoke kindly, both using animated hand gestures to emphasize their words. Izuku noted the size on Honenuki's hands, assuming that they were a key part in his quirk usage. He wasn't sure if the mutation of his mouth had anything to do with the quirk itself, but he was extremely excited to find out. The boy walked with good posture and conveyed a sense of high intelligence. Togake seemed friendly, though there was something about her Izuku didn't quite trust. It wasn't bad, but she had a slight lilt in her grin that made it seem that she was up to something. Nothing about her appearance or clothes gave him any hints about her quirk, but that mischievous grin assured him that'd she had something in store to give the heroes something to watch. Far behind them all was a large, well-built teen with a comfortable grin spread across his face. His eyes held a certain intensity that told Izuku everything he needed to know. This guy was going to make it into 1-A, no doubt about it.

They all lined up on the track, all but one stretching and preparing themselves. Shouto just stood with his arms crossed, staring straight across the track. Izuku wasn't exactly sure what he was doing, and so he stood on his knees to get a better view. He was just... staring. Izuku grabbed his notebook and jotted down a note about the strange occurrence. While he was focussed on the book, he didn't notice as his least favorite hero crept over to him. He began mumbling to himself about how Shouto could've been visualizing his success or something like it when she pounced. Izuku screamed in surprise, causing her to laugh wildly and cover his mouth with her hand. "Shh, little rose!" Midnight giggled as she released him from her grip. God, how he despised this woman. "Ms. Midnight, please refrain from scaring me. I asked you last time and you said you would stop." He sounded more hurt than annoyed, which upset him even more. He didn't want to sound sad, he wanted to be melodramatically pissed!

She cupped his cheeks with delicate hands. "I'm sorry, my dear. I'll stop." She stood up and sat on a bencher next to him and patted his head, much like how he did to Fluff. He made a mental note to quit patting Fluff's head like that, as the quick pets from Midnight gave him perspective. While getting petted, he failed to notice as one of the examinees noticed him with Midnight.

Inasa didn't know what to think when he saw the small boy in the bleachers. He figured he must've been Midnight's kid, going by how affectionate she was and his appearance, but he wasn't sure.

"Hey, who's the kid with Midnight?" He said allowed, pointing to the two. All but one looked at the pair.

"Does she have a secret child?" Asked the green haired girl, who was sitting in a lunge.

"She wouldn't bring her secret child to an exam like this, would she? I mean, any of us could tell the media about him, putting him at risk. I don't think she would risk it." explained the pale, dark-haired girl.

"Alright, then who is he?" No one had an answer. It seemed that the identity of the mystery boy would remain just that, a mystery, for now. They had more important things to worry about than who he was, their futures were relying on this moment.

The speakers crackled to life and buzzed as Present Mic checked the sound. The examinees crouched into a running position, preparing themselves for the race. Then, without any timing or explanation, the hero roared a loud "START!" They were off to the races!

Shouto was the first to use his quirk, blasting his opponent's feet with a wave of, leaving them frozen to the ground beneath. Juzo was the first to escape the icy restraint by using his quirk to turn the ice to sludge, Inasa escaping to follow in a close 3rd. Momo had created a flame thrower and was melting herself free while Setsuna had taken a piece of her face and thrown it, the piece of flesh sent hurtling towards the finish line.

Izuku watched in awe, mouth wide open. Midnight was on her feet, gripping the bar in front of them with half her body leaning off, just as impressed as Izuku was. These kids were crazy! Shouto was gliding forward on a path of ice, Juzo using his quirk to make almost a mudslide, Momo was speeding forward on a pair of roller blades, dodging the obstacles her opponents left behind with ease, Inasa sprinting onwards, smiling all the while without breaking a sweat, and Setsuna's face chunk floating close behind them all while the rest of her body still struggled to release itself from the ice. They were nearing the end fast.

Suddenly, a loud laugh rippled out of Inasa. "Get ready, UA!" He screamed a tad insanely. Huge gusts of wind began to swirl around wildly, almost blowing Izuku down and fluff away. He clutched the owl to his stomach and watched astoundedly as Inasa flew into the sky, moving at new speeds. Juzo and Setsuna's body had stopped to stare in awe while Momo and Shouto barely spared him a glance as they powered forward, less than two meters from the finish line. They sped forward, Inasa and Shouto battling for first with Momo in a close third, and Juzo and Setsuna struggled to catch up after their initial shock faded. Shouto was getting worried, that was obvious to Izuku. His movements were jerky as he continued forward, giving Inasa glances every few seconds. Finally, Shouto did something that ensured his place in the top class. A blast of an arctic wall sent shivers throughout Izuku and the examinees. Inasa was frozen in a wall of ice, and Shouto crossed the line. He had won. Insasa broke out mere seconds after he crossed and blasted forward, finishing in second. His smile was nowhere to be seen. Momo crossed the line, sporting her own excited smile. Next was Juzo, and finally Setsuna's cheek and eye.

Izuku was furiously scribbling down everything he could, excitement expressed in every word he wrote. He muttered rapidly about the quirks and which of the students should go into the top class. Shouto and Inasa were absolute powerhouses, already a step above their opponents in combat ability. Momo was obviously extremely talented and had the brains to strive in the top class. Juzo was resourceful and intelligent. Setsuna was flexible and had an out of the box way of thinking that would help her a lot. It was a hard decision, but he decided that the top 3 would be the best for 1-A, while Juzo and Setsuna would fit better in 1-B.

He stood up, packed up his things, and waved goodbye to Midnight. SHe crushed him in a hug before letting him leave. He made his way down the stairs and headed towards the building and back up to Nezu's office. He had left his sketchbook and wanted to draw the examinees. He began humming a happy little tune, making up lyrics about the race. As he hummed, he failed to notice the 4 students heading in his direction.

Inasa, however, didn't miss the little boy. "Hey!" Izuku jumped at the noise and a jolt of pain was sent through his chest. He automatically looks down, ignoring the students and their shouts at him. He really wasn't in the mood to be dealing with these guys today.

Unfortunately, Inasa wouldn't let him go that easily. He flew over on a twister of wind, moving way faster than Izuku could normally. He stopped in front of him, a confident smile resting right back on his cheeks. He shot his hand forward to him. "Hello, I'm Yoarashi Inasa. What are you doing here, little buddy?" He didn't have any alternative motives, from what Izuku could tell. He sighed.

"Well, I'm a student, as some of you might be in the future. Nezu asked me for help in assessing your skill sets and weaknesses." He replied bluntly, making sure to choose his words carefully. He wasn't supposed to reveal his relationship to Nezu to strangers.

The other students stared incredulously at the boy, not believing him one bit. Setsuna spoke up. "Why the hell would the principle want the help of a 10-year-old? And there's no way you're a student, you're a baby!" Izuku shrank in on himself, not enjoying her biting tone at all. This is why he didn't speak to people.

"I can assure you, my dear, that my little rose is, in fact, a student here." Midnight said, coming out from where she had been watching and placed an arm around Izuku. He sighed as she squeezed him tight. Though he'd never say it, he was grateful for her presence. The examinees once again were baffled, and Izuku felt a small sense of pride before immediately squashing it. Pride was a distraction; a sin.

"Well now that's finished, can I please go now? Nezu is waiting for me." He says, wriggling away from Midnight's side.

"Alright, little rose. Be a dear and remind him that we actually need to go over everyone's opinion, not just yours!" Izuku's cheeks tinged pink and he nodded. Midnight murmured about how darned cute he was before turning to the examinees, expression dull. She spoke to Setsuna.

"Next time you try speaking so rudely to the little rose, there will be dire consequences, my dear." She patted the young girl's shoulder and followed the same direction Izuku had moments ago.

The examinees exchanged looks, Setsuna seeming a bit shaken up. This school really was something else.

Chapter Text

Another week passed, and soon it was time for the public exams. Izuku once again dressed in formal attire and packed his yellow backpack with his items, this time situating Fluff right at the top. Once again, he would study the examinees and give his input on which class they should be in.

The tests took place later than the recommendations exam did, and so Izuku had a lot more free time to wander about the halls of the school. He was feeling restless, claustrophobic. He blamed the increased amount of people in the school, but he pushed away the anxiety that came with them. He knew he had to get used to it, now that he was going to start schooling with other people. He hadn't really spoken to anyone close to age in years before the examinees last week, and so he was a little rusty on his people skills. Scratch that, he could speak to the teachers and Nezu with ease. In fact, he had even become well acquainted with a few of the teachers.

Adults were easy to talk to, as where his peers were a whole other story. Adults were straightforward and honest, while teens were... well, not. At least, that's what Izuku had learned from the television shows he had seen and from what he saw from his limited interactions. Of course, he knew not all teenagers would be as deceptive as the ones he saw on TV, but he was still a bit apprehensive at the thought of being around hundreds of people twice his size.

Despite his agitation, he was ecstatic to watch the exams if it was anything like the recommendations. Watching the examinees strive to defeat any obstacle in their wake, giving it their all and then, even more, was exciting. Once again, Nezu had left him in the dark about all the students. Izuku wasn't too upset about it, however. It added to the anticipation. Nezu had explained a few things, however. He knew what the exam's task would be and how they were awarding points He knew that he would be up in the observation room with the other teacher and that he would be providing his opinions on who would get into the school. After that, he would help decide who would attend which class. This time, he wouldn't receive any information on the examinees due to 1, the sheer amount and 2, to keep the identities of all future students private due to legal reasons. Nezu explained that it had something to do with him being a student himself, but the explanation had too many legal terms for even a pre-law student to understand in full.

He walked down the hall, head down as a pair of upperclassman passed. He felt their eyes trailing on him curiously, sending a chill down his spine. He hated being watched, being assessed by others. He sped up slightly, the sound of his rubber soles thumped softly. He took a wide turn towards the first door on his right into the break room, wanting to get out of sight for a while. He entered the lounge with a sigh, eyes shut. He the door softly behind him, already feeling less stressed.

"You wanna slam the door any harder?" a familiar muffled voice asked. Izuku opened his eyes, easily spotting the large yellow sleeping bag laying in between a cheap faux leather sofa and the light brown coffee table.

"S-Sorry Aizawa, sir!" Izuku squeaked, blinking in surprise. "I d-didn't mean t-to wake you! T...there were some students in the hall and I...uh.." he trailed off, not knowing where he was going with this. Aizawa mumbled something incoherent before snuggling farther into his cocoon. Izuku stared for a moment longer before moving forward and sitting down on the couch by Aizawa, minding his steps. He checked his watch. He had an hour until he had to make his way to the observation room. He gently pushed Fluff to the edge of his bag and pulled out his notebook and flipped through the pages, making sure there were enough for at least some of the students. It was brand new, bought to be used explicitly for new students. It only had about 75 pages, not nearly enough in his opinion. It would have to do for now, but he would have to get a recording of the exam afterward for anyone who he didn't get notes on. Satisfied with this, he returned it back to its rightful place in his pack and traded it for his sketchbook and his pencil bag. He flipped to his latest drawing, a little sketch depicting a dog. He smiled and began his work, lightly darkening the outline and the dog's features, from the glint in its eye to the ruffled fur on its chest. It looked more and more complete, making him smile even more. He added more detail to the iris', making them look semi-realistic. More detail to the paws, drawing individual tufts of hair and shading underneath lightly to create an accurate shadow. He continued to shade and erase in the places he saw fit until he was finally content. He looked at his goofy little dog, feeling proud of himself. As per usual, he squashed it, feeling guilty about it immediately.

He sighed and laid his head back against the couch, feeling a little drained. After a few seconds of lying there, he sat back up, checking his watch. Barely 5 minutes had passed. He groaned, looking around the room for something to entertain himself. His landed on the chrysalis on the floor, and a smile spread across his lips. He grabbed his pencil and began to sketch out the bag on the floor before drawing a beautiful depiction of Aizawa emerging from his cocoon as a brilliant butterfly. He paused, looked at his drawing for a sec, before adding a more fluffy texture to the wings and antenna, turning him into a moth. He laughed aloud at his draft, covering his mouth, eyes wide as he peeked back over to the sleeping bag. It seemed...deflated. He looked a little closer before the book in his hands was abruptly pulled away. He whipped his head around to the assailant, who was closely inspecting his caricature.

Izuku shrank into himself and looked down, terrified of his reaction. His eyes squinted closed, hand's shaking. He waited for Aizawa to hit him, maybe to yell at him at the least. A few seconds passed before Aizawa set the book down next to the boy and grunted "My head's not that big." before slipping back into his sleeping bag, not making another noise. Izuku was a little dumbstruck by the interaction and the man in the bag.

He wasn't like most of the adults he met, especially not when it came to heroes. He was... lazy. Laidback. Or at least that's how he outwardly appeared to most. Inside, Izuku knew, was a passionate man, trying to truly make the world a better place. He wasn't looking for acknowledgment, or even for acceptance. He just wanted to keep people safe.
If Izuku actually liked heroes, Aizawa definitely would be his favorite. He smiled at the thought and looked back to the horrendously yellow bag, and then back to his drawing. He erased the head and drew a new one, this one a little more reasonably sized. He smiled at it, then checked his watch once again. His 30 minutes were up. It was time to decide the fate of at least fifty teenagers. He didn't think he would have an issue with it, all in all. He had a good amount of experience in deciding the fate of others, after all.

He walked up to the Observation room's door, pausing momentarily at the sound of shouting a cursing inside. He took a deep breath and sighed, pushing down the anxiety clawing up his throat. It was probably nothing, right? Just stupid heroes being stupid. He closed his eyes and swung the door agape, opening them once again. The sight before him immediately sparked the ache of an oncoming headache.

It seemed that Nezu had revealed to them what Izuku's role in the exams, judging from the diverse looks he got as be opened the door and how the noise silenced the moment he came into view. Nezu had told him previously that only some of the heroes were aware that he would be assisting in the exams, so he wasn't all too surprised that reactions were less than amazing. Honestly, this mess could've been avoided if Nezu had just told them in the first place, but the bear creature was always one for theatrics.

The anxiety he felt was hidden away behind an apathetic facade as he shut the door behind him and made his way to a back corner of the room, where he could not only see the wall full of screens, but all the heroes as well. He plopped down on the ground, aware of all the eyes watching him, and began situating himself. Again, Fluff was at his side with his notebooks and pencil bag in front. He looked up at the heroes expectantly, motioning for them to continue their mirthless chatter. He could see Nezu smiling behind his teacup from the corner of his eye.

A sense of awkwardness drifted throughout the room as the heroes stared wide-eyed, almost fishlike, at him. He hid his uncomfortableness well enough, looking back down in his bag to pull out his sketchbook. He flipped back to his depiction of Aizawa the Mothman and began shading lightly. It was a heavily needed distraction.

A little cough was muttered out by Snipe, who sat rigidly in his chair. "Right, so, we should be preparing."

He receives muttered dull agreements. Mic sighs. "Well, I should get going! Gotta go get ready for the examinees!" He exclaimed loudly, his fake happiness displayed fully. He made his way out of the room, sparing a glance at Izuku before he leaves. It wasn't malicious or rude, just curious. Izuku didn't mind Present Mic. For the most part, he was friendly enough and he didn't bother Izuku ever, so he couldn't complain. The only thing that Izuku didn't like about him was..well, him. The hero him. Better yet, the facade his hero self held. The loud, obnoxiously happy voice hero. Yeah, he was good at what he did, but he was fake. Overexaggerated. He was a lie.

All might was the best example of faceted heroism. Izuku saw past the broad smile. He saw the sin and the pain. He reminded Izuku of victims of his quirk, in all honesty. A piece of him was missing, just like his victims. The darkness hidden behind his blinding light reflected his victim's own after a deal was made. An example of this would be the young woman who's hands he took before escaping with Nezu. He had seen her on the front of a magazine, she had become a model, and an advocate for those with disabilities like her own. She smiled brightly, but the darkness in her eyes was terrifyingly obvious if you looked hard enough. The thought of the number one hero being as unfortunate as his victims was horrifying, but he honestly wasn't surprised.

Most heroes were caught in their web own of darkness, just like his victims. They all were a personification of sin, and he knew firsthand how destructive sin was. Sure, there were a few okay heroes here and there, but the role they had held sin closely to its heart, and there was no escaping that. That's why he couldn't stand heroes. He knew how impure they truly were.

He shook himself out of his thoughts, noticing that Nezu had begun discussing with the heroes. He began drawing again, realizing that he had zoned out. He added a background to his Mothman art, listening only partially to Nezu's briefing. He soon felt it was coming to a close, and thus put away his sketchbook and replaced it with his notebook. The familiar rush of excitement clouded his head and rattled his chest. This was going to be fun!

They all watched in silent anticipation, excited and curious to see what the examinees would do. The students all looked like a deer in headlights. A few of them stretched, others looked forward, either lost in thought or trying to map out the course. Others chattered amongst themselves, smiling and laughing. He mentally put a check by their faces, marking them off. The ones that laughed and acted unaffected were naive and would most likely have no potential in hero work if they couldn't even take an exam seriously.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, Present Mic screamed out a loud "START!!!!" Izuku himself lurched forward onto his feet at the noise automatically before realizing he had. He laughed at himself and flopped back down, earning a few glances from the teachers. He looked to the screens again, watching as students rushed forward. Only a few moved when Mic yelled, the rest froze for a second. A few of the teachers chuckled at the students, which Izuku felt was unprofessional. Of course the majority would stay still, they weren't ready for the sudden start.

He frantically began writing notes, picking apart the most noticeable students and their flashy quirks. He scanned the screen, looking for the next student to pull apart when he spotted someone. He was different than the other students who caught his eye. He didn't have a flashy quirk or any noticeable features. The thing that caught Izuku's eye was the fact that three other students followed behind him, acting almost like a guard and assisting him in taking down opponents. That wasn't the only thing that caught his eye. It was the glazed, glassy look that all of their eyes held.

Izuku smiled. Things were finally getting interesting! The voice in the back of his head screamed at him, telling him how terrible a quirk like that was, but Izuku ignored it. He wasn't hurting anyone and those under his control would be getting rescue points for every robot they put out of commission while defending him. Izuku would make sure of that, at least. He wasn't really sure how the heroes would grade him, but he hoped that the boy was getting points for the robots his zombified friends destroyed. It would only be fair. He was only using his quirk, just like all the other students.

He wrote down everything he could about the boy, completely invested in him and his amazing quirk. He finished his observations on him and looked for his next subject of interest, breath hitching. Large explosions filled a screen on the far left, revealing a familiar cackling student.

Izuku couldn't breathe. Oh god. Kacchan. It was Kacchan.

Red eyes wide in terror. Red blood coated hands. Red red red..... A boy Kacchan's age laid on the pavement, eyes missing and a black rose in hand.

A broken, eyeless body expanding, growing, growing, growing, and imploding. A disconnected scream. Angry, red, red, red......

Izuku scrambled out of the room, holding a hand to his mouth and another to his stomach. He shoved open the bathroom door, pushed open a stall, and vomited messily. His mouth and nose burned, his eyes tearing up.

He slumped back and wiped his mouth with a sheet of toilet paper, throwing it in the toilet. An acidic aftertaste infested his mouth and his throat ached. Tepid tears rolled down his cheeks. Kacchan was here. Kacchan would pass. Izuku would have to teach him. Oh god.

Chapter Text

Izuku peaked out of his blankets, warm yellow sun from his window blinding him and he pulled the covers back over his head. He hadn't moved from his place in days, deep fear and a freezing sadness left him glued to his bed and floating around his room like a forgotten specter with nowhere else to go.

He knew Nedzu was worried. He knew it, and yet he still couldn't force himself to leave his isolation. He was plagued with nightmares, past voices and bloody sights fillings his nightly hours, leaving him sluggish and sick in the day. He was a mess, all because of Kacchan.

The last time he saw Katsuki was the same week he was thrown into the Awagoto facility, who's name had recently come out in the news in a shocking report.

He was in front of the fountain at the school, waiting for Katsuki to get to their waiting place so they could walk home when a few of his lackeys had walked up to him, with one main boy almost drooling in eagerness. He demanded to try out his quirk, and Izuku couldn't refuse. The boy asked for Izuku to make him more powerful.

This was an act of envy, as he only asked for more power in order to best Katsuki, who had become too domineering for the boy to handle, and so while his weak wind quirk increased a tenfold in power, he bled to death before he was ever able to use it. Izuku's quirk stole his eyes away, so he may never view another thing to envy. Somewhere in a sick place in his brain, he found this to be the most dramatic death his quirk had ever caused. Did it really need to take his eyes? Why not just the lenses in his eyes? Why not just blind him?

He recalled the wails of sirens and the terrified looks from students older than him as they rabbled around him and the body to which he clung to as he screamed out apologies. He didn't mean to hurt him. He didn't want to. He never did. Teachers attempted to keep the students away, though they weren't too successful. He remembered the cold hard grips of the policemen as the grabbed his wrists and as they clipped the chilly cuffs onto his tiny wrists, the way the officer glanced at him, with that prudent, cagey kind of feeling they carried and how his hands were sticky and wet with blood and that the officer wouldn't let him clean them because they would have to remove the cuffs.

The thought of his sticky, slick hands growing cool and dry made Izuku's stomach roll, and he ran to the bathroom, throwing the door open and releasing the content of his gut into and around the toilet bowl. He choked and spat out the sour spit in his mouth and flopped back against the wall, resting his head against the cool tile. It occurred to him that this was the first time he had left his room since the exams, and he laughed and laughed until fat tears pooled in his eyes and leaked down his cheeks, his throat constricting as little gulps echoed through the spacious room. His throat hurt, and he laid down, eyes sliding closed.

He awoke a little bit later from his accidental doze once again in his room, tucked in nice and tight with a plate and glass of water placed on his bedside table. He began to cry again. He stood up, opened his door and walked out to the living room.

Nezu was sitting on the couch, a computer in his lap. It was always a bit weird to see him in such a normal setting. He almost looked out of place. He waved at him when he saw Izuku enter the room, a happy smile meeting his face. Izuku almost burst out in tears the instant he saw that smile.

"Hello, Izuku! Feeling any bett-" Izuku pulled him into a hug, knocking the laptop from his lap. He sobbed and blubbered out thank yous and sorries, to which Nezu just smiled and patted his back, somewhat awkwardly, reassuring the boy. He was just glad he had finally left his bedroom. It was only a week away from the first day of school, and they had work to do.

Izuku woke up on the first day of school with a heavy heart and jittery feeling lighting his nerves aflame. He'd spent the past week going over ways to keep his anxiety at bay and how to cope with coming back into contact with Kacchan. He felt a little less awful than he did earlier in the week, but nothing could help quell his fear. He didn't want to leave the safety of Nezu's home, but he knew he couldn't stay cooped up any longer, and so he trudged himself out of bed and into the living room, face scrunched in annoyance as he fiddled with his tie.

He would've asked Nezu to help him fix it, but he was already at the school finishing up whatever preparations needed to get done for the new school year, leaving him to his own devices. Nezu usually refused to leave Izuku at home by himself, instead opting to wake him up at the crack of dawn and dragging him along to the school, but today he apparently decided Izuku could do with some extra sleep.

Izuku sighed as he popped a slice of bread into the toaster and pushed the little switch down before heading over to the fridge to pour himself a glass of juice. He wasn't upset that he was left home, in fact he was glad he got an extra hour of sleep, but he would've preferred to see Nezu at least once that morning before he had to deal with his future classmates, especially with Katsuki being in his class.

The thought of brought up another concern. He had yet to tell Nezu about his past with Katsuki. Not because he didn't trust him or something like that, but because he didn't want to be a bother. He knew Nezu would move Katsuki out of 1-A instead of himself if he were to bring up his fears, but he didn't want that. Katsuki had always wanted to be a hero and there was no way Izuku would take that away from him. He would just have to power through and try to stay as far away from the boy as he could.

He checked the clock, a breath escaping him. He had at least 30 more minutes until his ride would arrive, and so he decided now was a good time to give himself a minute to destress. He sat down and wrote himself a poem. Because, well, of course he would. It wasn't his best, but it did its job, and he felt better. He stretched, worked out, save for the mile he had to run, and once again went through his bag, making sure he had everything he needed. Finally, the car had arrived and it was time to go. He looked into the house from the door one last time, as if he were a soldier on his way to war, and gave the home one last goodbye before closing the door and getting to the car.

He hopped in and gave the driver a timid hello, to which the polite man returned in kind. The man was fairly talkative and made for an interesting conversationalist, which Izuku usually appreciated, but today he could barely focus enough to give him a decent reply. The man eventually caught on that he wasn't in the mood to talk and let the conversation taper off, to which Izuku was glad for.

He would be sure to tell Nezu he like this driver, he would enjoy actually speaking to the man when he wasn't on the verge of a mental breakdown. For now though, he intended to focus on calming down rather than making an interlocutor friend.

The car slowed to a halt, bringing Izuku out of his thoughts. He looked out the window on the other side, eyes meeting with the building that had become like a second home to him with the same level of anxiety he had when he had first laid eyes on it. He took a breath, trying to motivate himself to open up the car door and to begin his future career as a student. He was failing miserably.

Self-loathing thoughts wriggled through his brain like maggots feeding on a rotten slab of meat, making the thought of walking into the building seem like an impossible task. Luckily, the driver seemed to notice and gave him a gentle smile and a few kind words.

With the speech in mind, he finally left the car, making yet another note on to get the inconceivably nice man as his designated driver for when he needed a ride.

He dragged his feet up to the building, refusing to lift up his head to meet any of the older people's gazes. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the mental image of him standing next to the giant first years of the school popped into his head. It was so depressingly sad that just the thought of it almost made him turn around and dash back to the car. He didn't, of course, but he sure thought about it.

He had no issue finding his classroom, as he'd been in it at least once or twice with Aizawa and Nezu, but he truly didn't want to enter, not without an adult. Going in by himself would be like trying to enter enemy line without decent cover. It was suicide, and he rather enjoyed being alive thank you very much.

He opted to go to the teacher's lounge, hoping to find Aizawa. He did find him, of course, right where he usually was: in between the coffee table and a couch that now had a sticky not placed upon it that said "Aizawa's couch." He stalked up to the teacher, smiling, before squatting down and poking the man's cheek.

"Aizawa-sensei, can you walk me to class?" He sat down and crossed his legs, waiting for the man to reply. He did not receive a reply and thus opted to poke his face again.


"Aizawa-sensei." He poked him again. "We're gonna be late to class." He reached down to poke him again, only for his wrist to be caught in the man's grip. He did not look amused.

"Kid, why can't you go to class b yourself?" Izuku shrugged.

"The older kids would eat me alive. You know that; it was the exact thing you brought up when Nezu brought up wanting to put me in your class." Aizawa didn't reply, instead just sighing and shimmying upwards in his affrontingly yellow bag.

"Alright kid, I'll take you, but it's still too early for us to go. We have to wait." Izuku gave him a look, not understanding why the teacher wanted to be late to his own class, but he decided not to say anything. He sat on Aizawa's couch and folded his hands. They waited until there was a minute before the bell to leave the lounge, Izuku speedwalking down the aisle with Aizawa shuffling behind.

Izuku bounced in front of the door, urging Aizawa to speed up. He could barely contain his excitement and Aizawa's avid attempts to take as much time as possible to get to class were only making him more hyper.

Aizawa finally reached the door and Izuku almost screamed in excitement, beforeAizawa actually grabbed the doorknob and it all became too real. He was really a student at one of the top schools in the country and even the world, along with Katsuki and 19 other hero students. He scurried behind the teacher and made himself as small as possible. Aizawa just glanced at him and sighed, asking if he was okay. Izuku just nodded. Aizawa opened the door.

His breath caught in his throat as the literal door to his future was opened and he could barely refrain from clinging onto Aizawa's sleeping bag. He took a breath and followed behind Aizawa, hoping no one would notice him. It was, of course, wishful thinking.

"DEKU!" a familiar voice wailed. Aizawa quirked his brow at Izuku, who shrank into himself even farther. "H-hi Kacchan." He waved slightly. The class erupted in shouts about him, the sudden loud noise making him jump. Katsuki's voice reigned above the rest, his words cutting deep into him.

"Everyone shut up!" the class got silent at Katsuki's loud outburst, clearly a bit startled. "Why's a villain like you in UA?! Who's life did you ruin to get in here, Deku?!"

Izuku couldn't breathe. Almost the entire class murmured in confusion, save for three people Izuku recognized from the recommended exam and the entrance exam. Todoroki Shouto, Yaoyorozu Momo, and the eye-catching Purple-haired brainwashing boy. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he applauded teachers for making the right choice in letting him into this class, though he suspected it had something to do with the zero-pointer he had his minions tear apart as he rescued another examinee, who Izuku had spotted earlier while they entered the room.

He tried to give Katsuki a response, something that would tie him over until he could speak to the boy in private about his adoption and living situation when Aizawa spoke.

"Bakugou Katsuki, unless you learn to hold your tongue I will have to expel you for your disruption." He gave Katsuki a spine chilling glare that made Izuku's breath catch in his throat. He'd never seen Katsuki berated by anyone except Mitsuki, who would rarely do so, and to have him called out so plainly felt unreal.

He felt a hand rest upon his shoulder. "Now, this is Midoriya Izuku. He'll be observing your classes to see whether or not you belong in this class and school, so it'd be wise to respect him." Izuku's eyes grew wide. That was the most obvious lie he'd heard from anyone in a long time and it almost made him laugh in surprise.

He was merely there as a teacher's aid if anything other than a student himself, and yet Aizawa was spinning a tale about him apparently having the power to determine a student's future. It was lunacy! He let the teacher's lie slide as he watched the student's faces pale and Katsuki's eyes grow wide as his mouth snapped shut.

Aizawa paused to let it sink in before speaking again. "Now that you all understand how delicate your position is and how easily it can be taken away, let's get changed. We'll meet you outside in 15 minutes. Do not be late." With that, he left the room, urging Izuku to follow. He did so without question and a large smile on his face.

Izuku pulled out his notebook and a pencil while they stood in the field waiting for the students, flipping open the brand new booklet to the first page. Finally, the students began to trickle out of the locker rooms with 5 minutes to spare, much to Aizawa's private delight. Izuku smiled at them all with a calm smile, feeling much calmer now with Aizawa's lie in their heads.

A part of him, the part that he believed was linked to his quirk, felt evil for allowing the lie to ingrain itself into the student's head. It was a sin to lie and he had allowed Aizawa to lie for him, and it felt awful, but the logical side of him overpowered that mindset. It was a survival tactic. If the students thought he had power over them, they wouldn't risk bothering him.

Yes, while he would probably be outcasted due to this, he would at least be able to avoid any altercations with his peers. Not only would they not bother him, but they wouldn't ever try to speak to him, lowering any risks of them discovering his quirk and asking for a contract. It saved them and himself from a painful fate.

"Took you all long enough," Aizawa spoke up when they all entered, most of them looking weary. "Bakugou," Katsuki gave the teacher a bored look. "In your past school physical, how far were you able to throw the ball?" He said, tossing the ball to the boy.

Katsuki thought for a second. "About sixty-five meters." Aizawa nodded.

"Alright, this time why don't you try it with your quirk." Katuki considered it for a moment before stretching.

He entered the circle, thinking about it for a second, before launching the ball a staggering 705.2 meters, screaming "Die" in a very Bakugou-esque manner. Izuku scribbled it down on the first page, feeling a little downtrodden that the first page of his notebook went to Bakugou.

Aizawa explained the activity in full and Izuku wrote down the rules in his notebook, making a grid with activities on the y-axis and students on the x, pausing for a moment as a student, presumedly the pink one, Ashido, shouted about how fun the test was going to be. He glanced at Aizawa, who was about to happily rain on their parade.

"If you think this is for fun you can leave right now. This is a test to see if you measure up and deserve to be here. That said, whoever finishes in last place will be expelled." The class grew tense and silent, quiet enough to hear a pin drop on the other side of the field.

"You can't do that!" someone else called, but Izuku didn't catch who it was.

"Oh but I can. UA is very different with there teaching and I can teach however I want, Plus Ultra." His voice didn't really scream plus ultra.

The tests went well, overall. It ended just about how he thought it would, with Yaoyorozu in first, Todoroki in second, and Bakugou in third. There were a few inconsistencies between his prediction of where students would be to where they actually are, but he guessed that was okay. Overall, they were below his expectations and when compared to previous classes that Aizawa hadn't expelled, this class simply just didn't measure up.

While yes, a few students like the Todoroki boy were where they needed to be, others like Kaminari Denki were behind. He made a mental note to talk to Aizawa-sensei about creating a workout program for the students who needed the most improvement. He was already brainstorming different tactics to teach the students how to use their quirks to their full ability along with body enhancement training, which Izuku could tell just by watching a few of the students that it was greatly needed. Quirks only got you so far and it'd be hard to apprehend a villain if you didn't have the stamina to chase after them.

Overall, it was a productive day.