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The Lightning Storm Hero

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All men are not created equal. This was the harsh reality that I, Midoriya Izuku, learned at the ripe age of four.

 

“D-don’t do th-this, K-Kacchan…!” I whimpered, fists raised. I might have been have looked a bit threatening if I weren’t shaking like a leaf, tiny strips of electricity crackling up and down my tiny arms. Between my trembling and stuttering, I was pretty much the opposite of a threat.

 

In front of me, my ‘friend’ - Bakugo Katsuki, or ‘Kacchan’ as I called her - grinned ferally, cracking her knuckles and letting off a small explosion. Flanked on either side by her two lackeys, who were both giggling to themselves over my defiance, I was staring down impossible odds.

 

“Are you still trying to play hero, Deku?” Kacchan said evenly, taking a step forward threateningly. I just whimpered in response, screwing my eyes shut and taking another step back in fear.

 

Before I even realized what had happened, I was flat on my back, aching all over and staring up into the sky. The boy I had tried to protect had probably run off, and my trio of tormentors had wandered off in search of other excitement. With an electrical quirk that can barely power a light bulb, and a shy, timid personality, I just wasn’t suited for fights like this.

 

All men are not created equal.


As I grew older, I started getting a grasp on my quirk. That didn’t do much to stop Kacchan from picking on and bullying me. I remember when she was just a confident and outgoing girl, but getting her quirk and being surrounded by coddling adults grew that confidence  into arrogance. In the span of just a couple months, my best friend changed into a completely different person.

 

I followed her less and less as the years passed, growing more and more introverted and keeping to myself. Never feeling confident in my social skills, I stuck to analyzing heroes and their quirks, practicing with my own quirk, and playing video games in my spare time. With a bit of exploration, I found Dagobah Beach, where ocean trash accumulated frequently. People often used this as a cover for their illegal dumping, but it was a great place for me to practice with my quirk in private.

 

My quirk, Electrokinesis, let me manipulate electricity however I wanted. Different hand motions had different effects as I discharged electricity, but too much at once had me drained pretty quickly. As much as I can manipulate it, I was not able to generate electricity myself. Draining myself too fast left me with a gnarly headache, and submerging myself in water would electrocute me in spite of my resistance to the crackly currents.

 

As the years passed by, my training, games, and analysis were the main focus of all my spare time. My mom was a worry wart, but as long as I kept my grades up, she wasn’t particularly restrictive with my freedom.

 

That all changed, of course, when the hotly anticipated VR MMO, “Sword Art Online” was finally released.

 

In what was probably the luckiest moment of my life thus far, I was chosen to beta test the game in the two months leading up to its release, alongside only one thousand other players. Only the beta testers were given the chance to pre-order SAO, and only ten thousand copies of the game were sold at all. Using the Nerve-Gear, a gaming helmet that transports the player’s conscious directly into the game world, SAO was shaping up to be one of the most immersive games ever released.

 

At noon on the day of launch, I logged in to the SAO game server. It would be more than two years before I could log out again.


“I don’t really remember much of how it ended,” I admitted, scratching the back of my head. “The fight, I mean.”

 

The detective sitting next to my hospital bed offered a patient smile as he waited for me to collect my thoughts.

 

It had been a week since my final battle with Heathcliff, and finally logging everyone out of SAO. Most of the past week had been spent doing tests and visiting with my family, but today I was being visited by a detective working the SAO case.

 

“Anything you can remember would be helpful, no matter how small,” the detective, Tsukauchi Naomasa, offered with a smile. I’d already told him that I was present for the final battle, but I hadn’t yet revealed my specific role. Given the circumstances, I didn’t really want to, but…

 

“It may surprise you,” I started slowly, carefully choosing my words, “to learn that the game’s strongest player, Heathcliff, was Kayaba Akihiko in disguise.” I let out a small breath as the detective jolted in surprise. Called it. I didn’t give him time to respond, however. “I’d suspected for a while, but I figured it out after the boss raid on the seventy-fifth floor. When I confronted him, he didn’t bother denying or trying to hide it.”

 

I paused for a moment to let Tsukauchi catch up with his notes. As soon as his pen stopped, I marshalled on.

 

“He used his admin privileges to paralyze every player in the room,” I let out, raking my hand through my long green hair. “Except for me.”

 

The detective paused in his notes at that. “Why you?” 

 

“As a reward. For figuring out his secret early.” I tried to keep my tone as even possible, but it made my heart pound in my chest just thinking about it. Tsukauchi frowned at that and made a note on his pad. “He offered to let me fight him, for the chance to beat the game early.”

 

“And you took him up on that offer,” Tsukauchi said quietly. I guess it was pretty obvious. I offered up a pained smile, my eyes halfway hidden by my too long bangs.

 

“I had to,” I sighed tiredly. “Risk my life for the chance to end the death game early? Sounds great to me.” Also scary. Very, very scary. 

 

“Well, all of the surviving victims are awake,” Tsukauchi commented after a beat of silence. “Your risk appears to have paid off.”

 

I looked up at the detective, surprise written on my face. “You actually believe me?”

 

Tsukauchi offered a small, sly smile. “My quirk is called Lie Detector. I’m sure you can figure out what that means.”

 

I snorted, leaning back quietly as he finished his notes. “You’ll keep your end of the bargain, right?”

 

“Of course. You’ve been more than helpful; I’ll find your friends for you. I’ll be in touch when I have something for you. Rest up, Midoriya-kun.”

 

Tsukauchi placed a business card on the side table, then stood to leave. I waved after him, then laid back down, my eyes screwed shut from discomfort. Even just sitting up was still too much on this weak body.


Months passed. 

 

It was December when I was finally let out of the hospital, a month after waking up. Most of that month was spent doing physical therapy, and I was on crutches by the time they let me go.

 

Stepping back into my bedroom for the first time in two years left me with a sense of nostalgia, and the lack of dust told me that Mom was keeping it taken care of in my absence. 

 

I was off the crutches by the time school started in April. 

 

True to his word, Tsukauchi managed to put me in contact with my friends from SAO. None of them went to my school, sadly, but they were all close enough to visit on days off. My weekly visit to Agil’s ‘Dicey Cafe’ had quickly become the highlight of every week.

 

Unfortunately, it was the only highlight. Turned out, my body wasn’t the only thing that had atrophied; my quirk is functionally useless after over two years of dormancy. And I had no time to build it back up, with all the extra school work I’d been given; I had two full years of work to catch up on.

 

Most of the kids from SAO were sent to a specialized school to get them caught up, but it was too far away for my attendance to be viable. Aldera Middle School, where I went before, offered a back up plan; I’d be given extra work and study materials to catch up on the years I missed, side by side with the studying done with my peers. There was a lot of work to do, and I would be swamped, but I wouldn’t have to be held back if I managed to keep up.

 

My return to school itself was uneventful, mostly just half-hearted welcomes from my old classmates. Bakugo Katsuki looked at me like I’d grown a second head the first time she saw me, but otherwise ignored me.

 

The sound of a tray coming down on the table caught my attention. I looked up to see none other than Bakugo taking a seat across from me, eyes pointed down at her food.

 

“Shitnerd,” Bakugo muttered in a low voice, still not looking at me. “Holding up alright?”

 

I blinked. Bakugo, being civil? This was new.

 

“See for yourself,” I said, shaking off my confusion as I gestured at the worksheet in front of me. “I have to work through every meal, or I can’t keep up.”

 

Bakugo just grunted and went back to her food. I put her out of my mind and focused on my work. The rest of the lunch period passed by in silence.


“Choosing what high school you will attend is, of course, a heavy and important decision.”

 

I glanced up from my sheet to see our homeroom teacher looking dark and serious as he considered the stack of papers in his hands. Like the drop of a hat, though, his expression turned all bright and joyful.

 

“Oh, who am I kidding, you’ll all be trying for the heroics course, right?” He beamed at the class as it erupted into loud cheers. Of course everyone wanted to be heroes; it’s the society we grew up in, especially with heroes like All Might doing his work.

 

“Sensei! Don’t lump me in with all these side characters!”

 

Total silence. Bakugo, of course, was leaning back in her chair, feet propped up on her desk, shit eating grin plastered on her face. I rolled my eyes and went back to my worksheet.

 

“Oh, Bakugo.” Sensei looked down at his stack of papers. “You wanted to try for U.A., right?”

 

Cue eruption of surprise and gossip. Not surprising, given that U.A. accepts roughly a quarter of one percent of all applicants. Bakugo, of course, ate it all up like a ham, leaping up to stand on her desk.

 

“I aced the mock test,” she boasted, beating her fist against her chest. “I’m the only one at this school that could possibly get into the national school of heroics!”

 

“Oh, Midoriya, you want to try for U.A. too, huh?”

 

My pen stopped, and I could almost hear something inside Bakugo crack as everyone else in the room turned to stare at me. I kept my face blank even as my heart started pounding in my chest at the sudden attention. Slowly, Bakugo turned her steely gaze in my direction, hell written on her feature as I pointedly did not return her gaze.

 

“Deku…” she growled darkly as murmurs and gossip circulate for the second time in the last few minutes. I grimaced for a moment, then put on an obviously forced polite smile.

 

“Yes, Bakugo-san?” I acknowledged her quietly, addressing her by name for the first time since my return to school. Her eyes widened and she almost recoiled at the name drop. She kept her composure, though, and just turned to drop back in her seat with a huff, dismissing me without a word for the rest of class. I kept an eye on her, though. Once Bakugo’s fire had been kindled, it wouldn’t go out so easy. 


The end of class came both too quickly, and not quickly enough. I packed up my stuff a moment early so I could beat a hasty retreat, but a hand on my shoulder stopped me before I could get out the door. Damn it. I turned and saw Bakugo staring at me with a blank face, but anger was clearly visible in her eyes. The rest of the class emptied out of the room, and my heart began pounding in my chest again.

 

“Can I help you with something, Bakugo-san?” I asked politely, silently dreading the coming wrath. Bakugo’s grip on my shoulder tightened.

 

“What the fuck are you playing at, Deku?” Bakugo snarled, her face dropping into feral anger. “Are you really still fuckin’ dreaming after all this time? You can’t be a hero!” Her grip on my shoulder tightened even more, and smoke began pouring up through her fingers. I could feel the heat through my clothes, so I pushed her hand off before she could properly burn me.

 

“What makes you think that?” I asked, my voice wavering, not giving Bakugo a chance to get angry at the resistance. It was a struggle to keep myself composed in the face of my childhood tormentor and ex-best friend. Bakugo scoffed at that.

 

“Your quirk is useless. What can you do with it except fuckin’ spark off?” She crossed her arms, grinning mirthlessly to herself. She probably thought she had me cornered.

 

“I can do plenty with it. I just have to build it back up.” Bakugo’s grin dropped at that.

 

“And when do you plan to do that, shit nerd?” she asked, sneering at me. “All the extra catch-up work you have, you’ll be lucky to get into high school at all! You’ll never have time for your fucking quirk, Deku.”

 

I shot a glare at her, fierce as I could manage. It probably wasn’t very good, considering my nerves, but Bakugo still recoiled with wide eyes.

 

“Then I’ll get in without it,” I snapped, my eyes narrowing. “You don’t need a quirk to be dangerous, Bakugo-san.”  

 

I turned and left without another word, ignoring the loud ‘Deku!’ behind me. 


It made me angry, but I really couldn’t be surprised. Bakugo had been trying to stop me from being a hero ever since we were four, just because she didn’t think my quirk was useful. It was hard to blame her for that, though, when every adult around us would praise her quirk more than anything else.

 

Growing up, I never held it against her, even when she spent most of our time together bullying me. I didn’t intend to be so easy going about it now, though, thanks to Asuna. It took her a while, but she convinced me of how bad it was to just look the other way when it came to Bakugo’s behaviour. 

 

I let out an aggravated groan as I stepped into an underpass on my way home. Just stop thinking about it! I couldn’t let Bakugo or anyone else get in the way of my dream! With or without my quirk, I was going to get into U.A., even if Bakugo wanted to kill me over it. I came to a stop as my phone vibrated in my pocket. Probably Asuna, checking in like usual. Before I had a chance to check it, though, a sloshing sound at my feet stopped me short.

 

I looked down sharply to see a mass of slime pouring up out of the sewer grate. My mind began racing as I tried to backpedal away, but with my weakened body, I wasn’t able to get away before it caught me. As the slime enveloped my body and forced itself into my mouth and nostrils, a pair of unnatural looking eyes opened up to stare at me.

 

“An invisible shield…” Its voice was deep and watery. “You don’t look like much, but it’s better than nothing…!” A mouth formed in the slime, and it seemed to grin at me as I clawed at the sludge. “Don’t worry, it’ll only hurt for a minute!” The slime laughed as my lungs began to burn. 

 

I can’t breathe!

 

I struggled against the slime hopelessly, and just as my vision started to go out, a distinct laugh rang out through the underpass.

 

“Have no fear, young man! I am here!”

 

All Might…?

 

Darkness took over as I passed out from lack of air.


Shit.

 

Of course the villain had taken a child hostage. Yagi Toshinori had chased the slime villain into the sewers, where they had played a game of cat and mouse. Unsurprisingly, sewer water was a great camouflage for a person made from slime.

 

Toshinori would berate himself for this mistake later. For now, though…

 

“Have no fear, young man! I am here!”

 

The slime villain snarled and shot out a tendril, but Toshinori was able to duck underneath easily enough. A low level villain like this would be easy to dispatch.

 

“Texas…” Toshinori reared back a fist, sizing up a good spot to blow away the villain without hurting it’s hostage. Without missing a beat, he let fly the air cannon that was his punch. “SMASH!!”

 

Air pressure was catapulted down the length of the tunnel, and though the slime struggled to fight against the current, it succumbed to the blast and burst into many small piles of goo. The child, now free of his captor, fell to the ground in a heap. With a sigh and a cursory check of his surroundings, Toshinori moved the child out of the tunnel and into the sun, and checked his vital signs.

 

“Seems to be alright…” Toshinori muttered to himself, letting his ever present smile drop and glowering at himself for a moment. He could be self-deprecating about it later. For now, there was a villain to contain. Pursing his lips, Toshinori dumped out his drinks into the sewer and began the arduous task of packing the slime into the emptied bottles. Just as he was finishing up, the young man began to stir, and Toshinori let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.

 

As the young man sat up, Toshinori knelt down in front of him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Young man,” he said firmly, putting his smile back on. “Are you all right?”

 

It took a moment before he even noticed Toshinori. When he did, though, his eyes were like saucers, and he scrambled backwards a fair few feet.

 

“A-A-All Might!?” he practically screamed, his voice high pitched with wonder. “Wh-what are you doing here!?”

 

Toshinori stood back up, placing his fists on his hips theatrically. “Sorry about letting you get caught up in my fight! I don’t normally make mistakes like that!” He scratched his head sheepishly, letting out a hearty laugh. “Thanks for distracting him, though! I was able to capture him because of that!”

 

The boy said nothing in response, eyes swirling and nervous sounds emanating, and Toshinori worried inwardly that he might have broken the lad. His mind appeared to catch up with him after a moment, as he began to dig around in his backpack in a mad frenzy, muttering about something to write on. Finally, the boy wordlessly presented Toshinori with a notebook and pen, and the hero realized what he wanted.

 

“A fan, eh?” Toshinori accepted the items with a hearty laugh, and flipped through to find an empty page. It took him a minute to find one, as most of the pages were filled with notes and data about many heroes he recognized, and some that he didn’t. Leaving an autograph and small drawing in the first empty page he found, Toshinori handed the items back to his fan.

 

“I see you have an eye for analysis, young man!” he commented. The boy held his notebook to his chest, a small blush dusting his cheeks. Toshinori laughed again as he turned to leave. “Well then, I must be off! Gotta get this guy to the police station, after all!”

 

“Ah, wait…” It was so quiet, Toshinori almost couldn’t hear it.

 

“I’m afraid I can’t!” he stated as he prepared to jump. “Pro heroes are always fighting against enemies, and time!”

 

Without looking back, Toshinori primed himself and leaped high into the air, calling a farewell back to the young man as he went. As he scanned the area, looking for the local police station, he noticed that his leg felt heavier than it should have. Looking down, Toshinori’s eyes bugged out as he saw the young man holding on for dear life, lips and eyelids comically stretched out. What the hell!?

 

“Oi, oi! This is too much, kid!” Without thinking, Toshinori tried to push him off.

 

“S-stop! If I let go now, I’ll d-die!” 

 

Toshinori stopped, nearly slapping himself. Of course, the kid was right. With a heavy sigh, he grabbed the boy’s collar and held on, aiming himself at the nearest building. As if things couldn’t get worse, the top hero coughed, and felt a drop of blood slide out the corner of his mouth.

 

Shit.


What the hell was I thinking!?

 

In a desperate move, I had grabbed onto All Might’s leg as he jumped away. As he had turned to leave, I could only think of the things I wanted to ask him. 

I don’t know what I had expected, but it certainly wasn’t suddenly being hundreds of feet in the air and wind peeling my face from my skull. Of course, All Might is a skilled, top hero. Landing was an easy enough thing for him to manage, even if it was a bit rough.

 

“I almost died…” I was on all fours, gasping for air.

 

“That was too reckless of you, young man!” All Might scolded, shaking his head as he turned to leave yet again.

 

“Wait!” I called after him, surging to my feet, hand outstretched towards my him.

 

“No, I will not!” All Might stated firmly. “I am seriously out of time!”

 

I watched as my idol prepared to jump again, my heart pounding in my chest. Memories flashed in the back of my mind, and my hand lowered. 

 

Bakugo screaming that I couldn’t be a hero. 

 

Klein’s regret as he rushed back to join his clan at the start of SAO. 

 

Asuna’s determination to return to the real world. 

 

Lisbeth asking to hold my hand as we slept in the dragon’s den.

 

My eyes screwed shut and my breath hitched in my throat as one last image appeared in the forefront of my mind.

 

“Thank you. Goodbye.”

 

Sachi…

 

My eyes opened wide, and tears threatened to fall as I remembered that day.

 

“Can I be a hero like you!?” I cried out, my vision hazy. I barely registered that All Might actually stopped to listen. “Even if my quirk never comes back, can I still be a hero and help people!?” My eyes screwed shut and I clamped in on myself.

 

“Never comes back?” All Might asked after a beat of silence.

 

“It’s because I’m an SAO Survivor,” I sighed, opening my eyes to stare down at the ground. “I spent two years in that game, and my body became weak. My quirk is barely functional…” I’d tried to be strong about it in front of Bakugo, but even I had my doubts.

 

My friends from SAO flashed through my mind again, and I thought about all the people who died fighting for their freedom.

 

I stared down at my hand, watching little strips of electricity crackle in my palms.

 

“Even so, I still want to be a hero. A lot of people died in SAO, and I want to honor their memory!” I finally worked up the courage to look at All Might again, only to be met with a cloud of smoke billowing away. I stared in shock, thinking for a moment that my idol had simply left when I wasn’t paying attention. After a moment, though, the smoke faded to reveal an emaciated husk.

 

“Ehh!?” I stepped back subconsciously as the husk stared back with a seemingly resigned look. “Wh-where’d All Might g-go!?”

 

A beat of silence. Then…

 

“I am All Might,” said the husk, immediately coughing up a fistful of blood. I was tempted to offer my handkerchief, but this turn of events had me too shocked to even think of moving.

 

“N-no way!” I exclaimed, my mind racing. “H-how the hell d-did this happen to y-you!?”

 

My blood ran cold as the emaciated All Might lifted up his shirt to reveal a very nasty looking scar, one that seemed to cover almost a third of his torso.

 

“I received this from an enemy’s attack, five years ago,” All Might stated evenly, then let his shirt fall back into place. “I’ve become emaciated from repeated surgeries, and their after effects. Now, I can only work as a hero for three hours a day.”

 

So that’s why. I’d been noticing a downward trend of work done by All Might since I woke up. And he was gone from the public for a while, five years ago, so this lined up.

 

“Five years ago?” I inquired, trying to channel my inner Argo. “Do you mean the fight with Toxic Chainsaw?” 

 

“You’re well informed,” All Might chuckled lightly, then turned serious again. “No, a punk like the Chainsaw couldn’t put a scratch on me. This was something else, something I asked to be kept secret. The world needs their Symbol of Peace, and so I can’t let anyone see what I’ve become.”

 

All Might sighed, and leaned against the railing for support.

 

“Young man. Your reason to be a hero is something to be admired. But can you do it without your quirk? No, I’d have to say. Pro heroes are always risking their lives.”

 

My blood ran cold again as I listened to All Might speak. I could feel myself trembling at his words, even as a part of me wanted to argue.

 

“If you want to help people,” All Might said as he pushed off the railing and made for the door, “You could try and be a doctor, or a police officer. The latter may be made fun of for having villains dropped on their front door, but both are fine occupations.”

 

The door to the stairwell clicked shut, and I stood rooted to the spot as I tried to work my nerves under control.

 

A top pro said that I couldn’t be a hero.

 

I buried my face in my hands, unable to even think, barely able to breathe. I don’t know how long I stood there, but an explosion in the distance caught my attention.

 

“A villain attack?” I mumbled to myself. Eventually, I dragged myself to the stairs. That explosion had been the direction All Might and I had come from. As my mind wandered over the day’s events, I thought about Bakugo, All Might, and the slime villain.

 

By the time I reached the street, I had a very bad feeling in the back of my mind.


“You can’t be a hero, Deku!”

 

I flipped through the pages of my notebook, glancing at each page, but not really absorbing anything. As I wandered down the street aimlessly, I reached the page that All Might had autographed for me.

“But can you do it without your quirk? No, I’d have to say.” 

 

I sighed miserably and closed the notebook, stowing it away in my backpack. Part of me wanted to fight back, to argue with the idea that you need a quirk to be a hero, but another part of me just wanted to quietly accept it.

 

Maybe All Might was right. If my quirk never came back, I should look for some other way to help people.

 

I nearly fell over as another explosion ripped through the air. I looked across the street and noticed the big plume of smoke from earlier. Had I really wandered to the scene without realizing it? I was heading into the crowd of watchers before I could stop myself. Old habits die hard, and I spent most of my life chasing scenes like this.

 

My mind stopped and my blood ran cold as I saw the cause of the scene.

 

“How’d he get here!?” I asked no one in particular, eyes wide in disbelief as the slime villain wreaked havoc in the street ahead. Even more alarming, it had taken another hostage! I squinted, trying to see who might have been captured, and I could clearly see my own school’s uniform. My breathing grew heavy, panic setting in at the idea that someone I knew had been taken hostage by a villain.

 

It’s my fault.

 

Distantly, I heard someone say that the hostage had been taken before the first explosion, well over ten minutes ago.

 

I got in the way of All Might’s work.

 

I started panicking harder at that news. Ten minutes!? I could barely last for one!

 

I’m so sorry. Please hang in there…!

 

My state of mind just got worse from there as another explosion rocked out. A growing sense of dread swelled in my chest, and a familiar head of ashen blonde hair poked out above the slime villain’s mouth.

 

Oh no. Nononono-

 

The heroes weren’t doing anything. The villain was just sitting there. 

 

That hostage was dying and dear god please don’t be-

 

After what seemed like an eternity, the hostage looked out towards the crowd, pain clear in her familiar red eyes.

 

Katsuki!

 

I ran out before I had a chance to think.

 

I could hear the panic behind me as I charged into the fray. Heroes and civilians alike were calling for me to stop, to come back, and I was vaguely aware of the news helicopter above me.

 

None of that mattered to me right now.

 

The Slime saw me coming and tried to swat me away with a tendril of goo, but I managed to stumble out of the way. This was my first time fighting in the real world, where stamina actually existed, but I was determined to see this through.

 

“You again, huh?” The Slime laughed as it recognized me. “Sorry, you lost your chance! I have a better cloak now!” I bit back a retort as focused on the Slime’s movements. It caught me by surprise last time, but I was more than ready now.

 

As I dove out of the way of another attack, I saw a hidden gem in the pile of rubble; a piece of rebar. A far cry from the swords that I was accustomed to, but the weight was familiar and I felt a lot better about my chances with this in my hand.

 

I charged the villain again, readying my makeshift weapon as the Slime reared back for another attack. I dropped into a slide early, then pushed myself up before the attack could connect. With a swift upward strike, my rebar disconnected the Slime’s arm cleanly, and I charged yet again. I hurled my rebar at the Slime’s face, causing it to flinch back and uncover Bakugo’s mouth.

 

“You damn brat…!” The slime yelled as it recoiled.

 

“The fuck are you doing here, nerd!?” Bakugo grunted out, gasping for air. I ignored her as I reared back a fist, sizing up a good spot, and plunging deep. I had to be fast if this was going to work, waste no time on extra talking. I rested my free hand on the side of Bakugo’s head as the other wriggled around in the slime, and finally found what I was looking for. Pulling as hard as I could, my hand came free of the slime, and Bakugo’s hand came up with it.

 

“Your hand’s free!” I shouted as loud as I could. Bakugo stared at me in disbelief, and I shot a frenzied look at her. “Blast, now!”

 

“But you’ll-” she started, but I cut her off.

 

“Just do it!” I practically screamed at her. She bit her lip, hesitating for just a moment, before letting off as big a blast as she could. It seared into me, but I held on to her wrist for dear life. Thankfully, it did exactly what I hoped, and freed most of Bakugo’s body from the enveloping slime.

 

Ignoring the burning pain, I barely managed to pull Bakugo free, and we fell backwards in a heap. The slime chose that moment to recover, conveniently.

 

“You little pest!” it shouted, raising another large tendril. “I’ll crush you for that!” It brought the tendril down, and I tried to cover Bakugo protectively, but the attack never landed. Tentatively, I looked back up.

 

“I really am pathetic.” All Might stood above us, grinning widely in reassurance as he held off the Slime’s attack.

 

“All… Might…?”

 

I stared at him in wonder, almost forgetting the situation as I struggled to process the Top Hero’s presence.

 

“Even though I admonished you, I wasn’t putting what I said into practice! Pro heroes are always risking their lives!”

 

My heart skipped a beat as his fist reared back, and I scrambled to try and cover Bakugo again, despite her protests.

 

“Detroit SMASH!!”

 

I cried out as the air pressure skyrocketed, and a short lived tornado appeared to blow the Slime villain away. The wind died down as fast as it started up, but the air pressure formed clouds high above that started pouring rain over the area. 

 

He made clouds with a punch.


The crowds were chanting and cheering for All Might before I knew it. The man himself appeared winded, barely able to stand. After a moment to compose himself, All Might pumped a single fist up in the air, causing the cheering to erupt into full on applause.

 

“Oi, nerd.”

 

“Hmm?

 

“You can get off me now.”

 

My face turned crimson as I scrambled off of Bakugo, backing away and apologizing profusely. She just sat up slowly and ignored me, a light blush dusting her cheeks. I fell quiet again as I stood up, looking around and noticing All Might approach.

 

“Are you two alright?” he asked, his ever present smile dropping slightly as he waved the other heroes away. I smiled back in reassurance. Bakugo’s eyes widened as she realized who was addressing us. She shot to her feet and, for the first time in her life, seemed at a loss for words.

 

“I think we’ll be alright,” I answered, raking a hand through my hair. “I’m sorry I got in the way of your work.” My smile dropped and I stared at the ground as All Might nodded along.

 

“There’s a limit to how reckless you can be, young man,” All Might confirmed, hands on his hips. Bakugo kept looking between All Might and I, but said nothing as she watched the exchange. “Why did you think that running out like that would be a good idea?”

 

I looked up at my idol with a sad look on my face. He really seemed to be at a loss over my actions.

 

I could come up with many different reasons to explain my actions. But in that moment...

 

“She just… looked like she needed help,” I said quietly, staring down at the concrete.

 

Bakugo narrowed her eyes at me, opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by All Might.

 

“Many top pros have stories about them from their school days,” he started, placing a hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him sharply, my breath hitching in my throat as I saw the look of understanding on his face. “Most of those stories have one thing in common: their bodies moved before they had a chance to think.”

 

I started shaking, and I clutched at my chest, unable to stop the tears from falling.

 

“That was true for you too, wasn’t it?” I wiped my eyes, nodding as I tried to contain the sheer catharsis. All Might gripped my shoulder comfortingly, and Bakugo looked away awkwardly. Nothing could prepare me for what he said next, though.

 

“My earlier assessment was wrong, it seems. You can become a hero.”

 

And just like that, the flood gates were open, and it was all I could do to keep myself from sobbing outright. Being a hero had always been my dream, even before SAO, and it had just been validated by the Symbol of Peace himself. Of course, that’s where Bakugo had to draw a line.

 

“You can’t be serious,” Bakugo almost spat. “He can’t be a hero, his quirk is useless!”

 

“He saved your life without using it,” All Might pointed out amusedly, seeming unsettled by Bakugo’s response. I wiped my eyes and shot a glare at the girl, who just looked away, annoyed.

 

All Might let out a hearty laugh, then ushered Bakugo and I towards the paramedics who had arrived on scene.

 

“Let’s get you kids checked out, and then I’ll escort you home, hm?” Bakugo stalked ahead wordlessly, and I trailed behind her, sniffling and drying my eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand what goes on her mind.


“You didn’t need to do anything, Deku. I could have handled that by myself.”

 

I looked over at Bakugo, whose gaze was firmly ahead. All Might was following behind, escorting us home as promised. If he heard our conversation, he didn’t say anything.

 

“It’s not about whether you needed it, Bakugo-san,” I replied quietly.

 

“Then why the fuck did you do it?”

 

“I’d rather help someone who doesn’t need it, as opposed to not helping someone who does need it.”

 

“Tch. Whatever, Deku. Don’t go thinking I owe you for this. And stop looking down on me.”

 

I rolled my eyes, but said nothing in response. This was just more of Bakugo’s usual attitude, but without any real venom behind it. Putting her out of my mind, I pulled out my phone to see what I had missed.

 

2 missed calls from: Asuna

 

Private messages

 

Asuna: You okay? You never miss my calls

             Midoku-kun? Did something happen?

            I just saw the news, please tell me that’s not you

            Please answer me

            Midoku-kun



I stared down at my phone, a warm feeling blooming in my chest. Even after all this time, it was a bit surprising how good it felt to have friends who worried about you. After a moment of consideration, I started tapping out my response.

 

Izuku: I’m alright, Asuna


Asuna: Oh thank god

            Explain now, mister

            Why did I see you on the news?


Izuku: I’ve had a kind of interesting day

           I got to meet All Might though

           He said that I can be a hero!

 

Asuna: That’s pretty cool, but it doesn’t explain anything

 

Izuku: It’s

           Complicated?

           I don’t have time to explain right now


Asuna: You’d better call me later tonight then


Izuku: Yes Ma’am



Slipping my phone back into my pocket, I saw that we’d arrived at Bakugo’s house. All Might offered a farewell to the girl, which went ignored. After Bakugo slipped into the house, no doubt about to be yelled at by her mother, All Might and I set off in the direction of my own home. After making it a few blocks, All Might let his muscle form drop.

 

“You have my thanks, young man.” I stopped short, looking up at my idol in shock.

 

“What for? It was my fault to begin with…”

 

“Indeed. It’s because it was none other than the weak, powerless you at the scene, that I was able to act. If you hadn’t been there, I would have become a guy in a body suit that was nothing but all talk.”

 

I just stared at All Might, slack jawed. He continued on in the face of my confusion.

 

“I meant it when I said that you can be a hero, but I feel I must offer you the chance to be more than that.”

 

“More than… a hero…?” What could he possibly mean by that?

 

“Your desire is to help those in need, and to honor the fallen. I believe you have what it takes to become the next Symbol of Peace.” 

 

“The Symbol of Peace!? You can’t be serious, I can’t…!”

 

“You can!” All Might cut me off with a hearty laugh, which sounded odd coming from his emaciated form. “You’re more than worthy to inherit my power!”

 

“Inherit, what the hell are you talking about!?” I cried loudly, scratching my head with both hands. This was all going too fast, and now I was lost.

 

“I’m talking about my quirk, young man!” All Might said theatrically, arms spread wide. “My quirk has always been a hotly debated topic, and it certainly gives me superhuman strength. The truth is, though, that it was passed on to me, like a sacred torch!”

 

“It was passed to you!? A quirk like that has never been confirmed, though!”

 

“That’s because the world could never accept that the Symbol of Peace wasn’t born with such power.” All Might raised an open hand in front of his chest. “One person cultivates this power, then passes it on to another person that also cultivates it. It’s the crystallization of power, the culmination of many generations of desires to help those in need. That is the power that I inherited, the power which I now offer to you. One for All.”

 

“Why…” I asked with a wavering voice, tears threatening to fall. “Why would you offer something like this? To me?”

 

“I came to this town to find a successor. Today, you proved to me that it would be alright for you to inherit this power. Even with your atrophied body, and unable to use your quirk, you were more heroic than anyone else today.”

 

I started shaking again, and the tears from before won out and fell freely. All Might rested a hand on my shoulder for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

 

“So, how will you answer?” All Might smiled down at me encouragingly.

 

This is real.

 

Of all the people who’d believe in me, I never expected my idol, the Symbol of Peace himself, to encourage me the way he had today. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect an offer like this, to practically be his protege. Of course, I had no reason to turn him down.

 

I took a step back, away from his comforting grip, and took a moment to compose myself. As soon as my eyes and emotions were back under my control, I looked at my new mentor with a look of fierce determination.

 

“Of course, I accept!”

 

All Might rested a hand over one of his sunken eyes, smiling widely.

 

“I was hoping you’d say that!”

 

We parted ways after that, having exchanged contact information. Training would begin very soon, and my already busy schedule would be a hell of a lot busier.

 

Receiving All Might’s power, One for All, wouldn’t be easy, but I was confident I was up to the task.

Chapter Text

I heaved as hard as I could, feeling the burn of the ropes in my hands as I tried to haul the massive appliance behind me. It didn’t take very long for me to give up on the clearly impossible task that All Might had set for me.

 

“Oi, oi! Giving up already?” All Might laughed from his place on top of the fridge that he wanted me to move. “You’ll never be ready for the entrance exam at this rate!”

 

“I’ll never be ready for anything if this is what you have me starting with,” I snarked, pushing myself up to my knees. “Why do you think that massive thing is a good start line?”

 

“Because, you know, your body isn’t a very good vessel for One for All.”

 

Which is why we were at Dagobah Beach at five in the morning. All Might had the idea that moving the junk around here would be great for building up my physical strength, and I agreed. Plenty of heavy furniture and appliances.

 

“Yes, but,” I started with a sigh, “have you considered I might not be strong enough for a giant fridge? It’s as big as you are. And you’re sitting on it.” I pointed all of this out with a sardonic tone. I sighed again as I wandered over to a nearby pile of smaller appliances.

 

“You may have a point, young man,” All Might conceded, dropping to the ground effortlessly. He took a moment to consider the surrounding area, resting his hand on the top of the fridge. “I hadn’t considered that you are still recovering from atrophy. Your body was comatose for two years, correct?”

 

“That’s right,” I confirmed, running my hands along a microwave, trying to push electricity into it. “My body and quirk both atrophied from it.”

 

“It occurs to me that I don’t know what your quirk is,” All Might commented. “I assume it’s electrical based?”

 

“Yeah. I can absorb, manipulate, and discharge electricity. Electrokinesis.” I let sparks run up and down my arms to demonstrate. All Might hummed, thinking to himself as I started hauling a couple broken chairs to the curb.

 

“We’ll have to set aside some time to work on your quirk, then.” The hero pulled out a folded up packet of papers and started looking over them. “This is a meal and training plan that I wrote up with your body in mind; adjusting it for your quirk shouldn’t be too difficult.”

 

I stopped for a moment as All Might handed me the stack of papers, labelled at the top as ‘Aim to Pass: American Dream Plan!’. Flipping through them, I paled at the sheer amount of work that would be needed.

 

“I’ll show this to my mom,” I muttered, scratching the back of my head as I ran through some of the meal plans. “This is going to be hell.” All Might let out a hearty laugh as he slapped my back lightly.

 

“This is going to be very tough for you,” All Might confirmed, leaning down and looking at the pages over my shoulder. “Think you have what it takes?”

 

“I don’t have a choice,” I said confidently, looking up at the hero with determined face. “I have to work many times harder than everyone around me if I’m going to catch up.”

 

All Might just grinned, apparently pleased with that response.

 

And so began my ten months of hell.


Something had gotten into Deku. Ever since he woke up from SAO, it was obvious he wasn’t the shy brat that Katsuki remembered. A small traitorous part of her mind was  pleased with that, but it still pissed her off to no end. Deku was just supposed to be a pebble in the side of her road, a side character, but these days he looked at her like she was competition.

 

“You don’t need a quirk to be dangerous, Bakugo-san.

 

Her whole life, Katsuki had believed that quirks were everything. Everyone around her seemed to think so, had always praised her quirk above all else. Deku and his useless sparking should have been the bottom rung, and it pissed Katsuki off that he believed he could be anything with a useless quirk like that.

 

Then he had gone and proved her wrong. Katsuki had never seen anyone move the way Deku did that day with the slime villain. It was clear that he was still weak from his long sleep, but the way Deku had moved spoke of experience that Katsuki hadn’t thought possible.

 

Deku had saved her life without his quirk. Not that she would ever admit it. And now she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

 

Katsuki groaned and rolled over on her bed. In the month since that day, Deku was exhausted all the time. He seemed to be out of it, barely paying attention in class and struggling to keep his grades up. Every now and again, he slipped back into his old muttering habit. By and large, Deku didn’t mutter as much as he used to, if at all, and it was quiet enough that Katsuki couldn’t tell what he was saying. 

 

Not that she was paying attention. Definitely.

 

Now that summer had started, Katsuki was left to her own imagination over what the hell had gotten into Deku. She couldn’t tell if that was worse or not.

 

Katsuki pushed herself up and threw on her running outfit. Thankfully, her father and the old hag were gone for the day, doing fuck knows what. Katsuki always enjoyed having the house to herself. After stepping out for a run, she’d made it about a hundred feet before stopping in her tracks.

 

Deku was crossing the street a ways down from her. And he wasn’t alone. Some girl that Katsuki didn’t recognize was walking with him. Her chestnut hair had a braid tied back on either side, but Katsuki couldn’t make out any other features. She was giggling about some stupid hand motions Deku had made.

 

What the hell.

 

Katsuki turned and ran the other direction. Who the hell was that girl? How did Deku know her? Katsuki had never seen her before, and that meant she didn’t go to Aldera.

 

What the hell is Deku doing chatting up a girl from another school?

 

Katsuki stopped and kicked out a trash can, hating the tight feeling in her chest. Why the hell did this piss her off so much?

 

She took a minute to compose herself, resumed her run, and made sure to go far away from wherever Deku and that girl were headed. 

 

The questions just kept piling up, and Katsuki was determined to get to the bottom of it. But how?


All Might was certainly a slave driver when it came to training. Not that I was complaining. By the time summer came to an end, I was feeling better than I ever had in my life. I had started off with small things like chairs and tires, but as time went on, I moved up to heavier and heavier things. I’d consider that fridge to be my first milestone, though, and I wasn’t quite there yet.

 

Today, I was practicing with my quirk. All Might usually didn’t show up for long on my quirk days, and today was no exception. He’d shown up as the sun started to set, probably having just finished his daily hero work.

 

I closed my eyes and concentrated on the flow of electricity in my arms. All Might stood by and watched as I pushed the currents out and latched them onto an old stove. I groaned at the effort, and with sweat forming on my brow, I managed to heave the stove up into the air with my quirk.

 

“Impressive,” All Might commented, approaching as I let the stove drop back to the ground. “Control over your quirk is returning at a fine pace.”

 

“I’m just glad it’s not taking as long as the first time around,” I said, trying to shake away the aches in my arms. “It took years to be able to do that before.”

 

It felt great to be working on my quirk again, after all this time. It wasn’t anywhere near what it was before SAO, but at the rate it was going, it’d be better than before by the time the entrance exams happened.

 

That was the hope, at any rate. Once school started, my progress would slow down again. I’d already had a problem with over working in the past few weeks, something All Might had scolded me about.

 

“I have to work many times harder than everyone around me!”

 

All Might had given me the day off over it, because overwork would be detrimental, but he still took it upon himself to adjust my plan. Part of me dreaded the increase in workload, especially with the coming school term, but I was determined to keep up. 

 

“That should be enough for today,” All Might said, ushering me back to the entrance of the beach and chuckling over the aggravated noise I made. “Can’t have you overworking yourself again, young man.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” I grumbled, resisting the urge to kick some loose trash. “It’s just so aggravating, you know? I’ve worked up this far, but I still have so much to do.”

 

“There’s still seven months before the entrance exam,” All Might pointed out with a chuckle. “You’ll be ready long before then, I think.”

 

I just offered a tired smile and wandered off in the direction of home, pulling my phone out to check for notifications. As I turned the corner, though, I nearly ran face first into Bakugo.

 

“Watch where you’re going, nerd,” Bakugo said gruffly before looking me over with a raised eyebrow. “The fuck are you so worn out for? Been working out?”

 

“Er, yeah,” I said, still unused to the idea of Bakugo being civil. “And you’re out for a run, I see.”

 

“Tch, yeah,” Bakugo grunted, stepping past me to look out over the beach. After a moment of silence, she turned back to me with a look of confusion. “Why the fuck are you working out here instead of a gym?”

 

“It was my trainer’s idea. It’s a good place to work on both my body and quirk.” Bakugo narrowed her eyes and stared at me for a good few seconds.

 

“Since when can you afford a personal trainer?” Her tone was low, almost threatening. It almost reminded me of Asuna.

 

“It’s not about affording it, or I wouldn’t have been able to do this,” I stated, scratching the back of my head. “He just felt like helping, and I’m not really in a position to turn him down.”

 

“Tch, whatever Deku. Is that why you’ve been so fuckin’ out of it at school?”

 

“Yeah, pretty much,” I confirmed, my eye twitching a bit at the old nickname. “All the free time I had before is spent working out now.” 

 

Bakugo took a step back and considered me for a moment, and I could almost see a hint of approval in her eyes. “And what about your quirk.”

 

“I work out six days a week, and two of them are spent solely on my quirk.” I let a few strips of electricity crackle up and down my arms. Bakugo smiled a bit at that, small but feral. I felt a shiver go up my spine when I saw it. That was Bakugo’s ‘ I’ve been challenged’ smile.

 

I suddenly had a very bad feeling in my stomach.


I texted All Might to warn him about Bakugo. I had a feeling that she would show up at the beach.

 

“It might be better if we just tell her straight out,” I said as I heaved a small dresser into the back of All Might’s small truck. All Might himself grunted and appeared lost in thought for a moment.

 

“Is that truly wise?” All Might asked as he rubbed his temple, frustrated somewhat at the situation. “My secret has been carefully kept for the last several years. I’m not sure I see the merit of letting your classmate know.”

 

“For the most part, neither do I,” I admitted as I leaned against the truck. “Bakugo is very smart though. She already suspects something is up, just by me being here. It won’t take her long to put the pieces together.”

 

“I’ll think about it, young man,” All Might sighed as he got into his truck. “For now, just continue hauling furniture up to the loading area. I should return in time for lunch.”

 

I waved the hero off as he drove away, and turned back to the beach. I’d cleared a hefty amount in the past three months, and by my estimation, I’d be done around a month before the entrance exam.

“Deku.”

 

My eye twitched, and I turned to face Bakugo, who had shown up in the minute that I was spacing out.

 

“Good morning, Bakugo-san,” I greeted with a polite smile. “What brings you here?”

 

“You fuckin’ know why, nerd,” Bakugo snarled, though without any real bite. I rolled my eyes.

 

“Not really, but I guess it has something to do with my training?” I turned and headed down into the maze of junk, looking for a decently sized piece to haul. Bakugo followed without a word, watching carefully as I lifted a small cabinet onto my shoulder. “Gonna make things awkward if you just stare like that.”

 

Bakugo just huffed as I hauled the cabinet up and dropped it in the loading area.

 

“Where’s your trainer?” she asked, looking around. I paused and pulled my phone, shooting a quick text to All Might.

 

Izuku: Bakugo just showed up

         

“Taking some stuff to an actual dump right now,” I responded, keeping my tone carefully bland. “He said he’d be back in a couple hours.”

 

All Might: Is she bothering you?

 

Izuku: Not really

           It’s kind of awkward, though

           She’s just following me around and watching me work

           I don’t know if I should tell her to leave, or what

 

All Might: Young Bakugo is a hero hopeful as well, yes?

                It may be worthwhile for her to lend assistance.

 

Izuku: You sure? Will I still be a good enough vessel by the end?




All Might: That may not be as much an issue for you as I first imagined.

                If your focus is your natural quirk, One for All will not pose much of a problem, at least early on.

 

Izuku: If you’re sure

           I’ll make the offer

 

I slipped my phone back into my pocket with a quiet sigh, before turning to meet Bakugo’s quiet glare.

 

“You want in?” I asked bluntly, putting on a polite smile as Bakugo raised an eyebrow.

 

“In on what?” Bakugo asked, shoving her hands in her pockets. “Your fuckin’ training here? Why the fuck would I want in on this?”

 

“Because it’s a good work out,” I answered as I headed back down to the nearest heap of trash. “It may not be a normal workout regimen, but hauling stuff like this around has a way of working up strength and stamina.”

 

“Why not just work out in a gym like a normal person?” Bakugo snarked, narrowing her eyes at the trash around us.

 

“It’s good practice for being a hero. Heroics was originally about community service, after all. The goal here is to have the entire beach cleared by the time April rolls around.”

 

Bakugo’s eyes widened, and she stopped to stare incredulously between me and the mountains of trash and furniture.

 

“You’re shitting me. All of this, by April!?”

 

“That’s the idea,” I grinned at the stunned girl, picking up a tire and letting it rest on my shoulder. “Think it’s too much for you?”

 

Bakugo responded by snatching the tire from me and marching back up to the loading area wordlessly.


 

“So, who’s your girlfriend?” Bakugo asked suddenly as she dropped a stack of chairs in the loading area.

 

“My what?” I wheezed through a sudden coughing fit. Where the hell did that come from!? Bakugo just rolled her eyes at me.

 

“That chick you’ve been walking around with,” Bakugo said tersely. “I’ve fuckin’ seen you two together a few times since summer started.”

 

“Oh, her.” Bakugo must have seen Asuna and I in town on a few of her runs. “Her name is Yuuki Asuna. She’s a friend from SAO. And definitely not my girlfriend.” No matter how much Yui might want otherwise.

 

“I see,” Bakugo said, shifting where she stood for a moment, before heading back down to the beach.

 

I watched her as she walked away, debating whether to ask why she wanted to know. Something about the way Bakugo addressed the topic had me a bit unsettled. Before I had a chance to consider, however, the rumble of a car driving up caught my attention. I turned just in time to see an emaciated All Might kill the engine to his truck and step out.

 

“Young Midoriya,” All Might greeted with a small wave. “Is your classmate still here?” 

 

I hummed a confirmation as All Might took place at my side. “Bakugo was hesitant, but with a bit of prodding, she threw herself into it.”

 

It wasn’t long before Bakugo returned to the loading area, dropping her cargo on the stack we’d built up.

 

“I see you’ve decided to join us, young lady,” All Might commented with a smile.

 

“Yeah, what of it?” Bakugo asked, clearly unimpressed with my mentor’s current appearance.

 

“I’m glad of it,” All Might said, smiling more widely as Bakugo raised an eyebrow. “It’s always a pleasure to assist the growth of another hero hopeful.”

 

Bakugo growled and looked away. Clearly not the answer she was expecting. I shook my head and started hefting items into the truck.

“So who the fuck are you, anyway?” Bakugo asked as she joined in on the hauling.

 

“My name is Yagi Toshinori.” I started as All Might introduced himself. It never occurred to me that I didn’t know the hero’s real name, so this was the first I’d heard it. “I’m a retired pro-hero.”

 

Bakugo paled as All Might lifted his shirt to reveal his grisly wound.

 

“What the fuck is that?” Bakugo’s voice was hoarse.

 

“I received this from a villain I fight several years ago. It forced my retirement.”

 

I was honestly surprised that All Might would reveal this much right off the bat. This was the cover story that we had come up with in the event that others discovered our arrangement. I’d told my friends and family that I was being trained by a retired pro-hero, but hadn’t gone into any detail.

 

“As you can see, I’m no longer fit for the job of pro-hero. However, I still remember my training regimen and meal plans clearly. If you wish to join Young Midoriya in this training, I would be happy to assist you.”

 

Bakugo looked at me for a long moment. When I raised an eyebrow at her questioningly, she scoffed and looked away, shoving her hands in her pockets. 

 

“Sure, why the fuck not.”

 

“Great!” All Might cheered quietly, smiling widely at the girl. “I’ll write up plans for you tonight. For now, I believe lunch is in order. My treat!”

 

With a hearty laugh, All Might ushered Bakugo and I into his truck.

 

“Now, there is a great cafe which I believe is nearby…”


Time advanced without much of interest happening. Bakugo regularly attended training at the beach, bringing an air of competition with her every time. Although she maintained her usual ‘better than you’ attitude, Bakugo was generally civil during training, and she left me alone at school when the new term began. It was honestly refreshing, and made me feel like we could go back to being friends like we had been before.

 

On the days I’d focus on my quirk, Bakugo would alternate between hauling and watching me practice, occasionally asking questions or shouting out ideas. She’d been taken aback at just what I could do with my electricity, more than just the useless ‘sparking off’ that she thought I was limited to.

 

Bakugo and I finished clearing the beach in February, almost two months ahead of schedule, and  All Might treated us to lunch at an expensive restaurant to celebrate. As the sun was setting, my mentor and I returned to the newly cleared and clean beach for the after party.

 

“You kids have done an amazing thing,” All Might praised as he looked out over the sands. Only a day had passed and there were already couples and families present. I just smiled and leaned against the railing, watching some kids play in the water below.

 

“I feel like I’ve been blessed,” I sighed, smiling softly as I rested my head on one hand. “You’ve done so much for me. I have a real chance of getting into U.A. now, because of you.”

 

 “What are you saying now, after all this time?” All Might chuckled quietly, scratching the back of his head. I looked up at him with a sheepish grin. “Young man, the things you are given because you’re blessed, and the things you are granted because you are recognized are different in essence.” With a quick look around to make sure no one was watching, All Might swelled up into his muscle form and plucked a single hair. “This is power that you earned, through great effort. Remember that.”

 

My eyes widened and I couldn’t stop from tearing up at the inspiring words. Without missing a beat, All Might presented the hair to me.

 

“Eat this.”

 

“...What?” My mind blanked out. All Might seriously wanted me to eat one of his hairs.

 

“You have to ingest my DNA in order to inherit my quirk!” All Might laughed heartily, still holding the hair out to me. I took the hair with a grimace, examining the golden strand carefully before shoving it into my mouth and struggling to swallow.

 

“That’s disgusting…” I grumbled, resisting the urge to cough up the hair. “I imagine I have to wait for my stomach to digest the hair before I can use your quirk?”

 

“Right you are, young man!” All Might gave a hearty laugh before dropping back into his emaciated form with a cough. “It will be a few hours before any effects take place. When they do, it would be unwise to move, lest you activate One for All by accident.”

 

“Right.” I grimaced at the thought of accidentally blowing up my house. All Might laughed and slapped my back lightly.

 

“No need to worry, Young Midoriya. There’s still two months before the entrance exam. I’m sure you’ll gain at least a small grasp of One for All before then.”


Thankfully, I didn’t need to worry. Despite feeling kinda strange over the next couple days, I never used One for All by accident. The last two months before the entrance exam were spent with All Might, figuring out how to tap into One for All.

 

All Might turned out to not be very helpful for it. When he’d inherited the quirk, All Might was able to use it to its fullest extent right off the bat. The only advice he could think to offer was just ‘feeling it’. 

 

Brilliant.

 

Luckily, something about it felt very similar to my natural quirk. It didn’t take me very long to figure out the difference between the two. Figuring out how to tap into the mass of energy that is One for All led to an interesting discovery; it both amplified and powered my Electrokinesis. 

 

One for All could act as a source of power for my electricity, eliminating the need to draw from outside sources, and it could make the electricity I discharge a lot more powerful.It wasn’t all good, though. As a source of power, One for All actually made me light headed and nauseous if used too much, and the amplified electricity was strong enough that it even hurt me to use.

 

Both of these things were frustrating, but I had to remember that correcting these problems would be part of my training at U.A., and I had to get in before that would be possible.

 

Which is why I’m standing at the entrance to the nation’s top hero school in the early morning. Looking past the gates to U.A. and up at the main building made me feel like I was standing at the entrance to a dungeon in Aincrad. I shivered as I pushed the thought out of my mind, and wished that Asuna could be here with me right now. Sadly, she was elsewhere on campus, part of the ‘recommended’ lineup.

 

It was hard to remember that she came from a well to do family sometimes.

 

“Outta the way, Deku,” growled a gruff voice behind me, and I turned to see Bakugo walk up with her usual scowl. I rolled my eyes and let her pass.

 

“Good morning, Bakugo-san,” I greeted with a polite smile as she walked past, but neither of us made any other attempt at conversation. That was how it had been for the majority of our training together under All Might. As I watched Bakugo walk away, I heard whispers running around some of the other test goers, identifying Bakugo as the hostage held by the slime villain nearly a year ago. I scoffed and dismissed the rumors as I walked up towards the building. Or I would have, at least, if I didn’t trip over my own feet like an idiot.

 

Well, I guess this is it.

 

I braced myself for impact, and was surprised when it didn’t come. Tentatively, I looked around, and found myself floating in air. 

 

This feels freaky! I flailed around, panic setting in at the sudden loss of mobility.

 

“Are you okay?” asked a bubbly voice that cut through my panic. I focused on the voice and found a relatively cute girl with brown hair smiling at me. This new girl reached out and adjusted my orientation, then released her quirk. “Sorry for using my quirk on you without permission, but falling over like that would be bad luck!”

 

“Ah, it’s okay,” I smiled politely and scratched the back of my head. “I don’t know about luck, but it would be bad for focus if I fell on my face right off the bat. That aside, though, what kind of quirk was that? Gravity manipulation?” I scratched my chin as I mulled over the possibilities.

 

“Er, yeah,” the girl laughed nervously, scratching her cheek with one finger. “Anything I touch with all five fingers loses its gravity!”

 

“That’s so cool!” I gushed, causing the girl to flinch back, and I grinned sheepishly. “Ah, sorry. I get kind of excited when I learn about new quirks.”

 

“That’s okay,” the girl said, seeming put off by my enthusiasm. “We should probably head inside before we’re late. Good luck!”

 

I waved her off and waited a minute before following. Despite the awkward conversation, I had to thank the girl; I wasn’t feeling as nervous as before.






“For those of you tuning in, welcome to my show today! Everybody say HEY!” The hero paused and waited for the audience to respond, his goofy blonde tower of hair wobbling in the silence. When no response was given, the hero marshaled on. “I’ll be giving you the rundown of what to expect in the coming practical exam! ARE YOU READY!?

 

You could have heard a pen drop in the silence that followed. I was tempted to actually drop my pen, just to make good on the saying.

 

“Oi, Deku,” Bakugo said, catching my attention. “Isn’t that a pro-hero?”

 

“The ‘Voice Hero’, Present Mic,” I confirmed, resting my head on one hand. “He puts on a radio show every week, talking about various things in the hero world.” Bakugo grunted and turned her attention back to the hero’s animated presentation.

 

“Turn your attention to the sheets in front of you! You should notice that today’s practical will be a ten minute, mock urban battle against robots!” Present Mic paused as the screen behind him flickered into action. “You can bring any support items you like with you, and you’ll all be split up into seven different faux-cities at random! The exam will take place in all seven locations simultaneously!”

 

“They’ll probably split up people from the same towns,” I commented as I scanned the page. Bakugo scowled at the idea.

 

“So I don’t get to crush you,” the girl growled lowly, leaning back in her chair.

 

“There’s always next time, Bakugo-san,” I snarked, rolling my eyes and grinning inwardly as Bakugo growled again.

 

“Each battle center will be littered with a set number of fake villains that come in three varieties!” Right on queue, three silhouette icons appeared on the screen behind the hero, each labelled with a different number. “Each type of villain is assigned a point value based on difficulty! The weakest is worth one point, medium is two points, and the harder villain will net you three!”

 

“I have a question!” An examinee with neat hair and glasses seated a few rows ahead of us stood, and a spotlight activated to shine down on him. “There are four villain types printed on the paper. If this is a misprint, then U.A., renowned as the top school of heroics in Japan, should be ashamed of such a mistake!”

 

I narrowed my eyes at guy. He wasn’t technically wrong, but it was probably a bit much to call the school out for it before the presentation even ended. This overly serious examinee apparently wasn’t finished, as he turned and stared up in the direction of Bakugo and myself.

 

“Also, you two! With the curly hair, and the girl at your side!” Next to me, Bakugo snarled, and I met the bespectacled boy’s stare in silence. “You both have been mumbling to each other this entire time. It’s distracting! If you think this is some kind of vacation, then leave now!” Bakugo shot to her feet with a growl, and I pulled her back down to her seat as quiet laughter rang out around us.

 

“Leave it. It’s not worth it to start a fight now.” By some small miracle, Bakugo let it go with an audible growl, and I shot a sharp glare in the direction of the uptight boy.

 

“Now, that’s enough of that!” Present Mic called out, drawing attention away from Bakugo and I. “Thanks for the message, little listener!” A fourth villain icon appeared on the big screen. “The final villain type isn’t worth any points. A zero pointer! It’s more of an obstacle, and it goes crazy in tight spaces! It isn’t impossible to defeat, but there is no merit in doing so!”

 

“Thank you very much!” The uptight boy shouted and sat down, the spotlight on him fading out.

 

“That’s it from me, listeners! As the hero, Napoleon Bonaparte, once said: A true hero is someone who overcomes life’s misfortunes.” There was a beat of silence as the hero let those words sink in.

 

“Go beyond - PLUS ULTRA!!” 


I stepped off the bus in front of Battle Center B, and took a moment to look around. The practical was due to start soon, and I wouldn’t have much time to gauge the other examinees. Everyone here would be competing for a limited number of points. For a moment, I was reminded of the first floor of Aincrad, and the limited resources that all the players were forced to compete over.

 

I shook my head roughly. This was no time to be getting caught up in past events. With another glance around, the girl from the entrance caught my eye. She looked nervous, fanning herself with her hands. I took a step in her direction, but was stopped when a hand came down on my shoulder.

 

“That girl appears to be trying to focus.” The uptight guy from before was here too. Wonderful. “What are you even doing here? Are you trying to distract the other examinees?”

 

“I’m here to take the practical exam,” I snapped, narrowing my eyes sharply at the boy. “Besides that, the girl seems nervous. If I can help her be calm for the exam, I will.”

 

The uptight guy opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by the ringing voice of Present Mic.

 

“Alright, start!”

 

I looked up at the tower where the hero stood, then at the other examinees around me. They all seemed as confused as I was. As the hero spoke again, I made a split second decision, and dashed past the crowd and into the fake city.

 

“What’s wrong!? There’s no countdowns in real life! Better get to it!”

 

Behind me, the crowd sprang into action as I went into battle mode. I scanned the intersection around me, picked a direction, and ran off down the street. Just ahead of me, a robot on a single while burst through a wall to block my path, forcing me to stop short.

 

“A one pointer!” I said to myself as I readied my lightning. 

 

“Target acquired,” the robot intoned, it’s red eye adjusting before charging at me. “I’ll kill you!”

 

I forced the electricity down my arm and discharged it from my fist as I threw a punch. Different motions had different effects as I discharged my lightning, and this made the attack act as an electrical rocket. I called it the ‘Megawatt Hammer’.

 

The Hammer slammed into the shining red eye on the robot’s ‘face’, and blew it clean off. I grinned to myself as the robot fell to the ground, earning me my first point. Without wasting a moment, I took off past the broken robot in search of more points.

 

I spent the majority of the test keeping away from the other testers, staying near the borders of the fake town where I’d be able to get the most points. About seven minutes in, the robots on the outskirts started to thin out. By my estimation, I had around forty points by the time I headed back into the middle of the city. I was debating whether I even needed to get more points when several buildings ahead of me exploded, and a massive silhouette appeared in the ensuing dust cloud.

 

That’s the Zero Pointer!? It’s bigger than most of these buildings!

 

The mountain of a robot reared back and slammed a fist down on the road, causing a massive blow back of dust and debris. Other examinees turned and ran from the gigantic thing, cries of fear and panic ringing out around the city.

 

“Two minutes left!”

 

And that’s my queue to get the hell out of here!

 

I turned and ran without another thought, but I only made it about twenty feet before a soft sound made me stop. My blood ran cold, and I turned to see the girl from the entrance. She was on the ground, her legs trapped under a piece of rubble. With her quirk, she’d be able to free herself easily, but the Zero Pointer was advancing too fast for that.

 

She’s going to get crushed!

 

I dashed back towards the girl, throwing a few bolts of lightning at the Zero Pointer to stop it’s advance.

 

“Are you alright!?” I asked hurriedly as I crouched next to the girl.

 

“I can’t reach…!” she wheezed, straining to reach the debris that had her trapped. I went to move the debris myself, but stopped short as the girl called out to me. “Watch out!”

 

The Zero Pointer came to a halt, and I looked up to see the massive fist coming down right on top of us.

 

Shit!

 

Without any time to think, I called on One for All to amplify my powers. I thrust both of my hands above me, channeling my electricity into a big circular disc. This was my defensive move, the Polarity Shield Wall. Normally, the radius would be about the same as my height, but amplified like this, it was almost twice that, and twice as sturdy. 

 

The giant metal fist came down onto the Polarity Wall, and I screamed against the strain as the concrete beneath me cracked under the pressure. My hands burned  from the amplification, and my legs cried out as I struggled to stay standing against the weight. With great effort, I forced my electricity up beyond the Polarity Wall, and I latched on to the Zero Pointer’s metal fist.

 

With a great cry, I let the Polarity Wall drop and heaved the giant fist upwards, away from myself and the trapped girl next to me. Running on instinct and determined to end the threat before it could attack again, I channeled as much of One for All as I possibly could. Standing as tall as I could, I raised my hands to the sky and pulled.

 

As my hands came down, a massive bolt of lightning fell from the sky, crackling loudly and striking the Zero Pointer in many places. Every spot the lightning struck, an explosion broke out, and it wasn't long before debris was raining down. I nearly fell over from exhaustion, but adrenaline kept me going as the giant robot started falling to pieces. Taking the opportunity to act, I hefted a large piece of debris off of my gobsmacked companion’s leg.

 

“Can you stand?” I asked urgently. The girl shifted and tried to push herself up, but quickly fell back down.

 

“My ankle…” That was all I needed to hear. I took the girl by her wrists and hefted her up so that she was leaning on my back, piggyback style.

 

“Make us float,” I commanded, hobbling away from the growing pile of wreckage.


“Uh, right!” She took her own gravity first, then rested her hand on my cheek to take mine. “I get nauseous if I use my quirk on myself, so I’m sorry if I throw up on you.”

 

“Better than dying,” I quipped as I kicked off the ground. The robot behind us was starting to fall over in our direction.

 

Just my luck.

 

In a move I stole from Bakugo, I pointed my palms behind me and discharged a constant wave of electrical energy. Normally I would only be able to glide with this, but with no gravity, I could use my Static Thrusters to actually fly.

 

The explosions behind us grew closer and closer, and I started panicking internally.

 

“Can’t hold on much longer,” groaned the girl I was carrying.

 

“Drop your quirk if you have to,” I called back to her, and she wasted no time pressing her fingertips together. All at once, I felt gravity return. I put as much into the Static Thrusters as I could as the ground rushed up to meet us.

 

That’s when the Zero Pointer finished it’s explosive self destruction. The good thing was that we were no longer going to be crushed by exploding metal. The bad news here is that the final explosion gave us a great deal of forward momentum, and if I tried slowing us horizontally, we’d drop like a rock.

 

Shit shit shit!

 

I loosened the girls grip and twisted myself around so that she was hanging from my front. Now moving backwards, I wrapped my arms around her sides and held her tight as we dropped to the ground. With the way I reoriented us, we hit the ground rolling. I grunted in pain as the concrete dug in, and we finally skidded to a stop just before the city’s gateway exit.

 

“Time’s up! The exam is now over!”

 

I heaved a great sigh of relief and exhaustion, spreading my arms out wide. I’d landed on my back, with the girl lying on my chest. I took a moment to look around and noticed the uptight guy approach and kneel by our side.

 

“Are you two alright?” he asked gently, studying me intently. The girl groaned and sat up, looking around blearily.

 

“We’re not dead?” she asked confusedly, seeming rather out of it. She probably passed out for the second half of our flight.

 

“I guess not,” I confirmed for her, sitting up myself and grinning brightly when our eyes met. She blushed lightly, but smiled back anyway. “I think we’ll be alright. You should probably get your ankle looked at by recovery, though.”

 

The uptight guy offered me a hand, which I took, and he lifted me up to my feet.

 

“I can handle that, young man.” I turned to see a small, elderly woman approaching from the gate. She walked up to us first, offering a handful of gummy bears to myself and the uptight guy. “Where are you hurt, young lady?”

 

“Just my ankle,” the girl answered, rubbing the offending ankle lightly. Without saying anything else, the elderly woman made a kissy face, and her lips extended from her face to give the injured girl a kiss.

 

That’s kind of freaky looking. Seeing it gave me a realization, though.

 

“You must be the ‘Youthful Heroine’, Recovery girl!” I exclaimed, slapping one fist into an open hand. The elderly woman just smiled and wandered off in the direction of other examinees.

 

“My ankle doesn’t hurt anymore!” my bubbly companion cheered to herself, standing up and testing her foot. As I smiled at the girl again, the uptight guy turned and addressed me.

 

“I am Iida Tenya,” he offered, adjusting his glasses. “It seems I misjudged you before. I apologize.”

 

I kept quiet for a moment, studying him, before offering a polite smile.

 

“Apology accepted, Iida-san. My name is Midoriya Izuku.”

 

“And I’m Uraraka Ochako!” chirped the girl, grinning brightly at the both of us. “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”

 

The three of us conversed as we headed out to the waiting area, where we were taken back to the main building to change and leave for the day. I ended up exchanging numbers with Uraraka and Iida before we parted ways.

 

In spite of the near catastrophe, I felt good about the day’s exams. I was confident that I’d make it into U.A. with the way I scored, but I had no way of knowing until that letter came in the mail. It didn’t help that All Might had gone to ground, and wasn’t answering my texts.

 

Waiting had never been good for my anxiety.

Chapter Text

Four days.

 

It had been four long, excruciating days since the entrance exam took place. I knew from self scoring that I had barely passed the written exam, and that was to be expected. Catching up on my lost years of work had been hell. I was more confident in my score for the practical portion. 

 

In spite of my decent scoring, there were almost a thousand examinees, and only a hundred seats to fill in all the first year courses at U.A.. Waiting for the results to come in the mail was excruciating.

 

A sharp poke to my forehead brought me out of my thoughts.

 

“You’re spacing out again,” Asuna said with a concerned frown. “Are you alright, Midoku-kun?”

 

“I’m alright, Asuna,” I offered with a tired smile, resting my head on one hand. “I’m just anxious for the results.”

 

“U.A. would be stupid not to take you after what you did in the practical,” chirped Uraraka as she sipped on some tea. I’d invited her to hang out at the Dicey Cafe with Asuna and I, and was glad to see the two of them get along. I’d extended the same offer to Iida as well, but he’d been too busy today.

 

“Oh really?” Asuna asked with an amused glint in her eyes. She smiled slyly at me, and I almost flinched. I know that look. “Why don’t you tell me about it, Uraraka-chan? He was quite vague with the details. I’d love to know more.”

 

“He was amazing!” Uraraka exclaimed, her eyes lighting up. She waved her arms around excitedly as she retold the story, and Asuna listened with rapt attention. I tried as hard as I could to shrink down in my seat, and wondered idly if I could slip out the door before they noticed. “It was so cool! I’ve never seen anyone move like that before!” Uraraka’s excitement dropped into something more soft. “He risked his life to save me.”

 

“Yeah, that sounds like him,” Asuna chuckled, adopting a wistful look as she idly stirred her drink with her straw. “Midoku-kun has always been like that. Always trying to help people, even at risk to himself.”

 

“So you guys have known each other for a while?” Uraraka inquired, looking between me and Asuna with a curious expression. “What kind of trouble do you keep finding if you have to risk yourself for it?” She giggled to herself, probably thinking that Asuna was exaggerating.

 

Asuna and I shared a look. We’d been prepared for this topic to come up in conversation.

 

“Midoku-kun and I are SAO Survivors,” Asuna explained, fidgeting uncomfortably in her seat. Uraraka looked up at her, looking both surprised and mildly horrified. I stared out the window, watching a few people pass by outside. “We became friends fairly early on in the death game.”

 

“It’s probably generous to say we were friends early on, Asuna,” I chuckled mirthlessly, running a hand through my hair as I turned my attention back to Uraraka. “We met around the end of the first month, but we weren’t really friends until later.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Uraraka said quietly, casting her eyes downward and deflating in her seat. “It must have been hard for you guys. I didn’t mean to remind you of it...”

 

“Don’t worry about it, Uraraka-chan!” Asuna gripped the girl’s shoulder comfortingly and offering a warm smile. “You’re right that it was hard, but we’ve got lots of good memories of our time in Aincrad!”

 

“She’s right, you know.” I gave Uraraka my most comforting smile. “If SAO didn’t happen, I would never have met Asuna or any of our other friends.” 

 

That seemed to placate the normally bubbly girl. She still looked vaguely guilty, with her cheeks puffed out slightly, and she reminded me somewhat of a sad puppy.

 

“I guess you’re right,” Uraraka conceded after a beat of silence, before turning her attention to Asuna. “So what’s the story with the nickname? Why call him Midoku?”

 

“Midoku is the online name he used in SAO,” Asuna explained, giving me a wry look. “He used parts of his real name for it, so it’s not very original.” I rolled my eyes at her.

 

“Says the girl who used her actual name as her username,” I snarked in a dry tone, prompting a withering look from the girl in question. Uraraka giggled at our antics, taking another sip of her tea. 

 

“Did you also apply for U.A., Asuna-chan?” Uraraka asked, setting her drink down again. “I don’t think I saw you at the exams.”

 

“Asuna went through the recommended program, so she wasn’t even at the auditorium with the rest of us. Her practical stuff was different from ours, and she’s practically guaranteed a spot in heroics, so long as her score is good.”

 

“Midoku-kun!” Asuna looked positively scandalized at my blunt explanation, and Uraraka looked thoroughly impressed.

 

“You must really be something special then!” Uraraka praised, and Asuna ducked her head, blushing and looking like she wished she could evaporate. I grinned evilly at her, enjoying this bit of petty revenge. Deciding that Asuna had had enough torment, I switched gears.

 

“If we’re lucky, we’ll all get into the same class.”

 

“We should find out in the next couple days, Midoku-kun,” Asuna admonished, sharing an amused look with Uraraka. With a groan, I let my head fall onto the table, prompting giggles from the girls across from me.

 

Just how much longer do I need to wait for my results?


“Izuku?”

 

I grunted in acknowledgement, but didn’t look up from the fish I held in my chopsticks.

 

“Are you alright, Izuku? You’re just staring at the fish…”

 

“Ah, yeah. I’m alright, Mom.” I set the fish down and dug into my rice, trying to ignore the concerned stare.

 

“Are you sure?” Mom asked, setting her chopsticks down and furrowing her eyebrows. “You’ve been pretty out of it these past few days…”

 

“I know…” I sighed, setting down my rice bowl. “I’m just so anxious. What if I don’t make it in? I know I did well, but U.A.’s standards are so high…”

 

“Even if you don’t make it in, I think it was amazing for you to even try!” Mom declared, putting on an encouraging face. I smiled back tiredly and went back to my food.

 

The rest of dinner passed by in silence. I sat myself on the couch, spacing out and lifting a weight as the time dragged on. I barely registered the sound of dishes being done in the kitchen, or when Mom left for the weekly neighborhood watch meeting.

 

My phone buzzed in my hand, and I set aside the weight to investigate.

 

Asuna: Any word yet?

 

Izuku: None

           It’s been a week now

 

Asuna: It shouldn’t be much longer now, Midoku-kun.

            I got mine today

            Uraraka-chan sent a text saying she got hers too

 

Izuku: Lucky you.

           Did you both get in?

 

Asuna: I did. I don’t know about Uraraka-chan, though

           She hasn’t said anything, so she’s probably watching it

 

Izuku: Watching what?

 

Asuna: The acceptance letter was a holographic projection

            Mine had All Might talking about my performance!

            I didn’t know he was working at U.A.. 

            How exciting!

 

All Might was working at U.A.? That was news to me. It would explain his radio silence this past week.



Izuku: Well that’s interesting

           I knew he was in the area, but I didn’t know he was going to be a teacher

 

The apartment’s front door slammed open with a crash. I was on my feet in an instant, and shot into the hallway to see what the commotion was, only to find Mom scrambling to get her indoor slippers on.

 

“Mom?” I called out tentatively, worry building up in the back of my mind. “Did something happen?”

 

“O-oh, I-I-Izuku!” Finally winning the battle with her slippers, Mom shot to her feet and spun around to present me with a pristine envelope that was sealed with red wax. “It’s here!”

 

I just stared at the envelope in her hands. After a long week of waiting, the results were finally in.

 

Now that it’s here, I can’t help but be scared.

 

Gingerly, I took the envelope from my mother and slipped into my room, closing the door gently behind me.

 

Izuku: itshere.png

 

Asuna: Well that’s convenient timing

 

Izuku: I’m scared

           Mom is pacing outside my door and it isn’t helping

 

Asuna: This isn’t any worse than anything we went through already, Right?

            You can do this Midoku-kun

 

With a groan, I set my phone aside and stared down at the envelope on my desk.

 

What if I don’t get in?

 

My heart hammered in my chest, and with shaky hands, I picked at the wax seal. Inside the envelope, I found a sheet of paper that I set aside without reading, and a little circular projector. Sucking in a shaky breath, I switched the projector on.

 

“I am here as a projection!”

 

As the hologram sprung to life, I was treated to an up close view of All Might’s face as he shouted his catch phrase. Good thing Asuna warned me about that. All Might backed away from the screen, and was shown to be wearing a yellow business suit, and was backed by theatrical lighting on all sides.

 

“I’m sorry for the radio silence. I was very busy with paperwork. In fact, I came to this town to be a teacher at U.A.!”

 

All Might chuckled to himself for a moment, before a hand appeared on the side of the screen to gesture at the hero.

 

“What do you mean, finish up? I have to talk to him about something!”

 

I chuckled to myself as a small back and forth went on between my mentor and whoever the hand belonged to, before All Might finally gave up and moved on.

 

“On the written exam, you barely passed. It was a very close call, indeed, but you still pulled ahead. Your practical score was more impressive, with a generous forty one points! With these scores, you did very well, but did not quite make the cut for U.A.’s critical standards.”

 

My heart stopped in my chest and my blood ran cold. I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding as my hands started to shake.

 

I didn’t make it in.

 

I had dreaded this outcome, even if I might have seen it coming.

 

It’s still so frustrating…!

 

“Or you wouldn’t, if it were quite that simple!”

 

I paused at that, looking back up at the hologram in confusion.

 

“I’d like to think I’m an entertainer, you know. Take a look at this video!”

 

With a theatrical flair, All Might presented a tv remote and turned on a screen off to one side. My eyes widened as the screen flickered to life, and I saw a familiar face.

 

“Uraraka-san?”

 

“This girl came to speak with the faculty directly after the practical exam,” All Might explained, pausing the video dramatically. “To talk about what, though? Keep watching to find out!”

 

I rolled my eyes at the theatrics as All Might unpaused the video on the screen. Uraraka was seen timidly walking up to Present Mic.

 

“Um… at the exam… there was a kind of plain looking boy. He had curly hair and freckles… he said his name is Midoriya Izuku. Do you know who I’m talking about?”

 

She’s talking about me?

 

“Can you give him some of my points? I don’t know how many he got, but… He spent the second half of the exam just saving me!” Her eyes screwed shut and she bowed down. “At least the points that he lost because of me! Please!”

 

All Might paused the video again, and I couldn’t stop myself from standing up in utter shock.

 

Uraraka-san wanted to give me her points!?

 

“Your deeds have inspired others to action,” All Might said, his gaze pointed at the tv screen behind him. I’d need to text Uraraka, to thank her for trying to negotiate on my behalf. 

 

“The practical exam had another side to it, unrelated to the villain points that you knew about!”

 

What?

 

“It wouldn’t be much of a hero course if we only graded based on fake villain fights. Heroes are not winners, but saviours! No hero course should reject a person who saves others! What kind of lip service would that be!? Give me a break! Heroics is all about risking your life to make that lip service into reality!”

 

My breath hitched in my throat, and I could barely believe where this was going.

 

“The other half of the practical exam! Awarded by a panel of judges, there’s also rescue points!”

 

My eyes widened, and I took a step back. My heart hammered in my chest, and I couldn’t stop the hope from building up.

 

“Midoriya Izuku: Seventy rescue points! With a combined total of one hundred and eleven points, you have the top score in the practical exam overall! Of course, that means you passed! Alongside Uraraka Ochako, who placed fourth overall!

 

Come now, Young Midoriya! This is your hero academia!”

 

Sometimes, dreams can become reality.

 

Izuku: Asuna

           I got in

 

Asuna: See? I knew you would

                   Has Uraraka-chan texted you?

                   I haven’t heard from her yet

 

Izuku: I haven’t heard from her either

          I hope she’s alright!

 

I set my phone aside and went to give Mom the good news.


I had three weeks to get ready for the new school year to start. 

 

Uraraka started responding again after some prodding, having apparently been in an emotional phone call with her parents. 

 

The day after I got my acceptance letter, I met All Might out at Dagobah Beach once again, and we discussed my performance in the practical exam. He expressed a certain perplexity at the use of my quirk, specifically the lightning that I pulled out of the sky on a clear day. I informed him that One for All had been active when I’d done it. The only thing I could think of was that One for All had allowed me to extend my control range, and thus let me pull down atmospheric electricity. It was something to consider working on, at least, since I felt very light headed after such a move.

 

In the weeks that followed, I celebrated my acceptance in private with Mom and All Might separately, each of them treating me to different meals. I also attended a small party at the Dicey Cafe, hanging out with all my SAO friends plus Uraraka, and discovered that Lisbeth had been accepted into the Support Course at U.A.. I hadn’t even known that she was planning to apply for U.A..

 

Eventually, though, it was time to get on campus for the first day of high school. I’d arrived a tad early to get a basic idea for the layout.

 

“1-A, 1-A…” I muttered to myself repeatedly, wandering up the hall at a brisk pace.

 

This place is way too big.

 

Finally, I rolled up on the door for my classroom. Stopping to admire the size of the door, I briefly pondered what kind of people I’d find. Images of Bakugo and Iida flickered through my mind and despite becoming friendly with the latter, and at least somewhat civil with the former, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy sharing a classroom with either. 

 

With a shake of my head, I pulled the door open and took in the scene of Iida scolding Bakugo over putting her feet up on her desk.

 

“Don’t you think it’s rude to the upperclassmen, to show such disrespect!?” Iida scolded, his arms flailing in odd robotic patterns. Bakugo just scoffed, not moving in the slightest.

 

“Of course not,” Bakugo snarled, scowling up at Iida. “Why do you have to be so uptight, ya fuckin’ side character?”

 

Just my luck.

 

I shook my head and ignored them, opting instead to survey the rest of the class. At first I didn’t see anything special, but when my eyes landed on a girl near the front, my eyes widened and my blood went cold.

 

S-Sachi!?

 

It took all of my concentration to keep from breathing heavy, and the girl shot me a questioning look. All at once, I realized how different this girl actually looked from Sachi. Only her hair was vaguely similar, and even that was a stretch. This girl had what looked like phone jacks on hanging from her earlobes, and her eyes were more flat.

 

I shook my head again, offered the confused girl a shaky smile, and took another look around. Bakugo was staring at me, one eyebrow raised, and Iida was approaching me with an odd power walking form.

 

“Good morning, Midoriya-kun!” Iida greeted robotically, before pausing in thought. “I’ve been thinking, these past few weeks. You realized that there was more to the exam than was let on, didn’t you? The way you rushed in to save Uraraka-san…”

 

“Er, no?” I said in a questioning tone, scratching the back of my head. “I just did what I thought was right. No way I was gonna let her die.” 

 

“Of course, that’s correct…” Iida sighed, turning to one side with hand on chin, classic thinking man pose. “Of course, if it hadn’t been an exam, I would have done exactly the same thing! As much as I hate to admit it, you’re better than me!”

 

Did he really just say that out loud?

 

“Wait, hold on,” I started in a low tone, narrowing my eyes at the bespectacled boy. “Back up a sec. What did you just say?”

 

“Eh, that you’re better than me?” Iida asked, looking thrown for a loop.

 

“No, before that,” I bit out harshly, anger bubbling up in my gut. Iida just looked even more confused, but complied anyway.

 

“If it hadn’t been an exam-” He started, but I cut him off, not caring that I was drawing the attention of the rest of the class.

 

“You would have done the exact same thing,” I finished for him, letting the fury etch itself on my face. “That’s your reason? You left her to die for the sake of your exam scores?”

 

“I didn’t mean to-”

 

“That doesn’t matter!” I shouted, causing Iida to flinch back. “In real life, it doesn’t matter what you meant to do. What matters is what you did. You prioritized your scores over the life of another person.” I sighed, running a hand through my hair as Iida looked away in shame. “Do you remember what you said to me in the auditorium? I’ll go ahead and give those words back to you now. If you think this is some kind of vacation, then you should leave now.”

 

Silence permeated the room as I stalked past Iida and dropped into the empty seat behind Bakugo, ignoring the eyebrow she raised at me.

 

“Deku,” Bakugo said quietly, shifting in her seat to face me. My eyebrow twitched at the nickname.

 

“What, Bakugo.” I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth, but the girl in question didn’t seem fazed by it.

 

“In the exam. You went for the big one.” A statement rather than a question. I raised an eyebrow at Bakugo, prompting a roll of her eyes. “I saw that fuckin’ lightning storm from clear across campus. That was you?”

 

“Yeah,” I sighed, not meeting the Bakugo’s gaze. She just grunted and turned back around in her seat.

 

With a cursory glance around the room, I could see some of my new classmates stealing looks at me with varying degrees of concern or interest. I looked back towards the door and was met with the gaze of a very concerned looking Uraraka. 

 

Behind the normally bubbly girl stood a ragged, very tired looking man dressed in black clothes and numerous odd scarves. I met the tired man’s gaze briefly, and caught a flicker of both concern and approval before he made his presence known to the class.

 

“Good morning, kids,” the man greeted, sounding every bit as tired as he looked. “My name is Aizawa Shouta, and I’m your homeroom teacher.” Aizawa ignored the titters of gossip as he reached into what looked like a sleeping bag, and pulled out what appeared to be a shirt. “Time is limited. All of you, head to the locker rooms and find gym clothes in your sizes. Anyone that isn’t at the field in fifteen minutes will be expelled.”

 

As most of the class cried out in shock, Aizawa paused in the doorway. “Clock’s ticking, kids.” 

 

I got up and stalked out the door without a word to anyone, leaving my stuff at the desk. As the rest of the class bustled out the door behind me, a tap on my shoulder drew my attention to the not-Sachi from earlier.

 

“Yo,” she greeted, eyeing me up as she matched my pace.

 

“Hey,” I returned the greeting, keeping my eyes firmly ahead. “Sorry for the weird look earlier. I thought you were someone else.”

 

“Yeah, I was just about to say. You looked like you saw a ghost,” she joked, twirling one of her jacks around a finger. I grimaced as an image of Sachi appeared in my mind.

 

“I thought I did see a ghost.” That prompted a surprised look from the girl. I just shook my head and offered her a hand. “Midoriya Izuku. Nice to meet you.”

 

“Jirou Kyoka, nice to meet you too,” she said, taking my hand after a beat of silence.

 

I offered a small, polite smile, then picked up the pace towards the changing rooms. Time is limited, after all.


“Quirk assessment test!?”

 

The class made it out to the field with seconds to spare, prompting another short and tired lecture about time being limited by Aizawa-sensei. Apparently the tired teacher’s first order of business was to do a quirk assessment test.

 

“But we’re gonna miss the opening ceremony!” Uraraka cried, both of her fists pressed against her chest. Small titters of agreement ran around the crowd of students as Aizawa-sensei waved the statement down.

 

“You don’t have time for such leisurely things if you’re planning to be a hero,” droned Aizawa-sensei. “U.A. is very nonrestrictive with its traditions. Teachers are free to be as loose or firm with those traditions as they like.” The tired teacher held up his phone to show a list of basic physical activities. “You’ve been doing physical tests since middle school. Now, you’re going to do them with your quirks. Midoriya, what was your record for the ball throw?”

 

I blinked at the sudden question, struggling to remember off the top of my head.

 

“Er, about fifty meters,” I said, scratching the back of my head. Aizawa-sensei tossed the ball at me.

 

“Try doing it with your quirk. You can do it however you like, just stay in the circle.”

 

As I stepped into the circle that Sensei had pointed out, I turned the ball over in my hands, feeling for bits of metal. I could feel little strips of metal running throughout the ball, and I grinned to myself.

 

“Hurry it up, and give it all you’ve got.”

 

I ran some electrical currents through the ball, then let it drop and hang like a yo-yo with electrical string. 

 

Three cheers for static electricity.

 

I reared back and punched the air, discharging a Megawatt Hammer, and the ball along with it. The ball flailed around behind the electrical rocket like a can tied to the back of a car. I called on One for All to extend my reach, and tried to hold the Hammer together after it passed the usual dispersion range. Satisfied with the range that I achieved, I let my quirks drop, and the ball fell to the ground, earning me a score of 638.5.

 

I almost whistled at the score, and the rest of the class cried out in surprise when Sensei showed the score to them.

 

“Know your own upper limits first. That’s the most rational way to form the foundations of a hero.”

 

“Over six hundred meters…!” exclaimed a blond boy with a single streak of black in his hair. “That’s gonna be tough to beat!”

 

“Oh, this is gonna be so fun!” cried out a girl with pink skin and hair.

 

Fun, you say?” Aizawa-sensei said quietly, narrowing his eyes at the offending students. “You have three years to become heroes. Do you really think it will be all fun and games in that time?” The tired man’s face dropped into a devilish grin. “Let’s play a game right now, then. Whoever places last in all eight tests will be expelled immediately. Welcome to the hero course, kids!”

 

Angry and surprised cries rang out across the group, many taking offense to the idea that one of us would be expelled.

 

“But it’s the first day of school!” Uraraka cried out, raising her fists again. “We don’t have any training yet, that’s so unfair!”

 

“‘Unfair’?” Aizawa-sensei quoted, narrowing his eyes at Uraraka. “Do you think natural disasters will be fair?” That shut the girl up, and she flinched back as if struck. “What about major accidents? Or selfish villains? Every day, unpredictable calamities take place everywhere. The world is filled to the brim with unfairness. It will be your job as heroes to overcome that unfairness. So give it everything you’ve got. Go beyond, Plus Ultra.”

 

Looking around, I could see my classmates getting fired up. Bakugo was grinning to herself ferally, and even Uraraka looked ready to kick some ass. I took a deep breath and steeled myself for what was to come.

 

Every moment I spend here, feels more and more like Aincrad.


Iida Tenya was ashamed.

 

He had felt shame before, mostly when he didn’t do so well with his grades. That was the kind of shame that left him agitated, with an itch in the back of his mind that wouldn’t go away.

 

This time, it was different. This was the kind of shame that left him feeling hollow inside. Tenya wasn’t used to this kind of shame, had never made a mistake of this magnitude before. He didn’t know how to process it.

 

As the assessment continued on, Tenya found that he couldn’t properly concentrate. His results in the running tests were the best of the class, and his long jump score was up there as well. Despite his good performance, Tenya found himself watching one Midoriya Izuku more closely than ever.

 

He couldn’t say for sure why. The more Tenya watched him, the more he realized that he didn’t understand Midoriya at all. Midoriya moved with a kind of gait, a surety that made it seem as though he’d been through hell and found it wanting. It felt like being close to a weapon.

 

What are you even doing here? 

 

Tenya recalled questioning Midoriya on his presence at the exam. At the time, he’d been sure the green bean was just trying to be a distraction. After seeing the boy fight, Tenya began to suspect, and Midoriya’s cutting outburst was all the proof that he needed.

 

Midoriya was already a hero, and his presence at U.A. was just a formality.

 

More than that, Midoriya was right.

 

There had been a person in need. Tenya had known, but still he had turned away. In an exam for heroics, Tenya hadn’t acted as a hero at all.

 

How would Tensei respond if he knew?

 

Tenya watched as Uraraka scored infinity on the ball throw, and a cold feeling appeared in his stomach. Uraraka had come very close to not being able to stand there at all.

 

Uraraka had appeared in the door just before Midoriya’s outburst, and her expression since then had been unreadable. If she was angry with him, or with Tenya, she said nothing about it. Granted, Tenya had been keeping a distance to Midoriya and Uraraka all morning, and the green bean seemed content to do the same.

 

The tests finished up before long, and a sense of dread hung in the air over the students of class 1A. Tenya ignored the hushed whispers, fidgeting lightly as Aizawa-sensei pulled up a hologram with the leader board. If not for his current mood, Tenya would have been proud that he got fourth place. Surprisingly, he placed higher than Midoriya’s eighth place. Tenya would have expected the green bean to get first or second place, not eighth.

 

Looking over the rest of the board, he was surprised to note that there were only nineteen students in the class. Next to him, a floating set of clothes was trembling and moaning pitifully. Tenya could only guess that this was Hagakure Tooru, the student who had placed last on the board.

 

“Hagakure-san?” Tenya asked, and received a small grunt in confirmation. He placed a comforting hand on the invisible girl’s shoulder. “I’m sure it will be alright. You tried your hardest out there.”

 

“That’s right.” Tenya and Hagakure both jumped at the voice of their teacher, who was now addressing the class. “So, I was lying about expelling someone earlier. Think of it as a logical ruse, so that you would try your hardest and not get last place.”

 

Most of the 1A students let out cries or gasps of relief, especially one Hagakure, who sank to her knees beside Tenya.

 

“Of course it was a lie,” said a girl with black hair in a ponytail. “It’s obvious that no one would be expelled. Right? I thought so, at least.”

 

Several students looked at the girl as though she’d grown a second head, making her flush and look away out of embarrassment. Any other time, Tenya might have agreed with the girl. Now, though…

 

“I don’t know, that doesn’t seem right to me,” mused Midoriya, rubbing his chin and looking deep in thought. “What if calling it a lie, is itself a lie? Maybe no one got expelled because everyone proved their worth.”

 

And there it is.

 

Given U.A.’s standards, Tenya wouldn’t be surprised if Midoriya hit the nail on the head with that. Tenya found himself agreeing with the logic, as did the rest of the class, if the general consensus was any indication. A quick look at Aizawa-sensei, the corners of his lips turned up just barely, told Tenya all he needed to know.

 

He really would have expelled someone.

 

“Now that’s out of the way, we’re done here. Get changed and go back to the classroom. You’ll find curriculum papers and such, so give them a good look over before tomorrow.” With that, Aizawa-sensei turned and walked away. Tenya stared at the tired man’s back, lost in his mind.

 

Tenya turned his gaze to Midoriya, and then to Uraraka. If he was going to be a hero, then he was going to have to put himself back on the right track. To do that, he would need to patch up the rift between himself and his two new friends.

 

But how? Even though they’re right there, they seem so far away…


What a long day.

 

The end of the school day had finally come, and not a moment too soon. I was exhausted. And not just physically. My encounter with Iida that morning was still weighing on my mind.

 

“I went overboard this morning,” I said, scratching the back of my head.

 

“So, apologize,” Jirou retorted, twirling a jack around her finger. “I won’t say you were wrong, but you were kinda harsh, dude.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” I grumbled as we stepped out of the building. Ahead of us, I could see Iida and Uraraka, standing by the gates. I couldn’t make out Uraraka’s expression, but Iida was very solemn. “No time like the present, I guess.”

 

“Midoriya-kun-” Iida said, but stopped when I raised a hand to cut him off.

 

“I’m sorry, Iida-kun.” The bespectacled boy grunted in surprise, caught off guard by my sudden apology.

 

“What for? It was my mistake…” Iida seemed at a loss.

 

“Yes, but that doesn’t excuse how I handled it.” I ran my hand through my hair, looking off to the side for a moment. “I stand by what I said. It was a lesson that I learned the hard way, after all. But I also need to remember that not everyone has been through the same things as me.”

 

“You mean SAO,” Uraraka said quietly, prompting surprised looks from Iida and Jiro.

 

“Yeah,” I confirmed just as quietly. “It’s hard, sometimes, to remember that other people my age didn’t have to learn that lesson. Because of that, it’s easy to get lost in the reaction. So, I’m sorry.”

 

“And I as well,” Iida said softly. “I’m sorry, Midoriya-kun.”

 

“I’m not the one you should be apologizing to,” I said, and glanced over at Uraraka. “Your mistake didn’t affect me, even if I reacted badly to it.” 

 

Iida closed his eyes with a grimace, then turned to face Uraraka.



“I’m sorry, Uraraka-kun. I made a grave error in judgement, and your life was put at risk. If Midoriya-kun hadn’t been there…” Iida trailed off with another grimace.

 

“It’s okay, Iida-kun,” Uraraka comforted him gently, resting a hand on his arm. “It all turned out okay in the end! Besides, I don’t think I was really in danger. It was just a test, right? U.A. would have been able to do something anyway.”

 

“Even still,” Iida pressed, adopting a regretful expression. “I should have done better. I hope you both will forgive my shameful actions.”

 

I smiled at the boy and offered my hand. “Friends?”

 

Iida stared down at my hand, then gave a smile of his own as he took it. “Friends.”

 

“Friends!” Uraraka cheered, resting one hand on ours and pumping the other in the air. The three of us looked over at Jirou expectantly, despite the fact that she had no part in the days’ drama.

 

“That means you too, y’know,” I deadpanned. With a snort and a roll of her eyes, Jiro put one hand forward.

 

“Sure, why not. Friends.” Despite not seeming convinced, Jirou’s hand landed on top of the pile, and I grinned. She’d come around.

 

After a beat of silence, the four of us separated and set off in the direction of the train station, chatting about various mundane things. 

 

I was glad to have the weight off my chest, and I’m certain the others were too. Despite that, though, I was certain our troubles were just beginning. In fact, I was counting on it.

 

I’d expect nothing less from my hero academia.

 

Chapter Text

U.A. High school, the top school of heroics in Japan, and one of the top schools in the world overall. In spite of the trial it was to even get in, the first day of actual class felt remarkably normal. The morning classes were normal, at any rate. For example, Present Mic, or Yamada Hizashi, taught English classes. The Voice Hero seemed low key at first, but wound up into his usual upbeat self as the period dragged on. Having pro heroes for teachers was an interesting experience, to say the least.

 

It seemed that U.A. was staffed entirely by pros. Even the cafeteria was directed by the Cook Hero, Lunch rush.

 

“This rice is really good,” I commented. On my left, Jirou grunted in agreement.

 

“It makes a great comfort food!” chirped Uraraka from across the table. Iida made no sound, but appeared to be enjoying the rice regardless.

 

“Any seats left at this table?” I looked up to see Asuna approach, smiling brightly at Uraraka and I. I waved at the girl, directing her to the plethora of empty seats with a deadpan look.

 

“Oh, Asuna-chan!” Uraraka greeted enthusiastically. 

 

“How’s 1-B treating you?” I inquired as Asuna sat down next to Iida.

 

“It’s alright, I suppose,” Asuna said reservedly. “I was expecting a bit more… I don’t know, excitement? This is the national school of heroics, after all…” I snorted into my rice unceremoniously, prompting a raised eyebrow from the chestnut haired girl.

 

“Our homeroom teacher threatened to expel people yesterday,” I explained, setting my chopsticks aside. “He said he was lying about it, but I feel like he would have if he felt the need to.”

 

“You can’t be serious,” Asuna protested, quailing under the looks of confirmation that my classmates gave her. “There’s no way he would have-!”

 

“I do believe he would, Asuna-chan,” said a new voice out of nowhere, and I turned to see the black haired ponytail girl from yesterday take a seat next to Jirou. 

 

“But how can you know that for sure, Momo-chan?” Asuna argued, picking at her food as more and more people showed up to fill the table out.

 

“I didn’t believe it at first,” the girl(Momo?) admitted, her eyes downcast. “Which is why I did some digging. Apparently, Aizawa-sensei is an underground hero called ‘Eraserhead’, and he expelled his entire class last year because of a ‘lack of potential’.”

 

Well, shit. 

 

“Sounds like we all dodged a hefty bullet there,” I joked, a small bead of sweat dripping down my forehead. I was suddenly not looking forward to homeroom going forward, if Aizawa-sensei was as much a hard ass as he appeared to be. “Still, we might not have any time to relax…” I trailed off, scratching the back of my head. Asuna looked like she wanted to say something, but decided against it when she saw the nods of agreement from my classmates.

 

“Whatever. This is U.A.. It’s not like we were going to have any time to relax anyway, Deku.”

 

My eye twitched at the nickname. I peered down the table and glared at Bakugo, ready to retort, but Asuna spoke up before I could.

 

“‘Deku’, huh?” Asuna asked icily, her eyes narrowed dangerously at the ashen blonde. The blonde in question stared back at her, unfazed. “You must be Bakugo Katsuki.” A statement rather than a question, one that prompted a raised eyebrow from Bakugo herself.

 

“You’ve heard of me?” Bakugo grunted through a mouthful of rice, surprise clear on her face. Or at least, what amounted to surprise for a girl like Bakugo.

 

“Oh, yes. I’ve heard plenty about you, Kacchan,” Asuna said acidly, leaning on her elbows to level her most dangerous glare at Bakugo, who glared right back at the mention of her old nickname.

 

“And there’s the sub commander of the KOB,” I said with a groan, hiding my face in my hands. Asuna continued on as if I hadn’t said anything.

 

“I wonder if you know,” Asuna said, her tone bland and her glare hard, “about the kind of damage you’ve done, with your treatment of him.” Bakugo’s glare softened a bit at that. “I’m not going to mince words, here, Bakugo-san. You treated him like dirt.”

 

“Asuna,” I called, my tone low in warning. Her eyes met mine, and I shook my head slightly. Bakugo, uncharacteristically, made no effort to contest Asuna’s statements, opting instead to stare at her food with a sour expression. Asuna looked between Bakugo and I, then sighed and went back to her own food sullenly.

 

“You seem to have a lot of nicknames, Midoriya-kun,” Uraraka commented, looking eager to change the topic of conversation. 

 

“‘Deku means ‘useless’,” I said evenly, not looking the cheerful girl in the eye. “The kanji for ‘Izuku’ can also be interpreted as ‘Deku’, so Bakugo had the bright idea that ‘Deku’ should be my new nickname.”

 

“Oh, I see…” Uraraka looked deep in thought for a moment before smiling brightly. “But you know, it kinda sounds like ‘dekiru’, the kanji for ‘you can do it’! I like it!” My eyes widened, and I couldn’t help but gawk at Uraraka.

 

This girl is too cheerful.

 

“I appreciate the thought, Uraraka-san.” I smiled gently at the bubbly girl, but made no effort to hide the pain in my eyes. “That does make me feel better, but I’d still prefer not to be called that.”

 

“Well, alright…” Uraraka looked downtrodden for a moment, before brightening up again and moving the conversation in another direction for the remainder of the lunch period.

 


And finally in the afternoon, we had Hero Basic Training.

“I am here…!”

 

I grinned to myself as excitement buzzed around the classroom.

 

“Coming through the door like a normal person!!” All Might yanked the door open and leaned through, his cape flapping dramatically around him.

 

Pfft, that’s not how a normal person goes through a door at all! I snickered to myself as my mentor strutted up to the podium in the front of the room.

 

“Wow, it’s really All Might!”

 

“Isn’t that his Silver Age costume?”

 

“So the number one hero really is a teacher, huh?”

 

“I’ve been brought in to teach Basic Training,” All Might stated confidently, silencing the gossip around the room. “As the name suggests, this class will teach you the basics of being a hero! Unlike other subjects, this class will take your entire afternoon block. There’s plenty of time, but let’s get right into it! Today’s lesson will be combat training!”

 

Combat training, right off the bat?

 

In front of me, Bakugo was practically vibrating with excitement. Off to the left, several gears whirred to life, and panels pushed out away from the walls. Within those panels were suitcases, each labelled with a bright green number.

 

“These are your costumes, custom made based on your requests and registrations!” All Might laughed heartily as the students began to buzz with excitement. “Find your costumes and report to Ground Beta for the day’s training!”

 

With that, the number one hero marched out the door, leaving us to make heads or tails of the numbered suitcases. When I finally got my own case, I set it down on a desk and opened it up, smiling with nostalgia as I looked at the garments within.

 

I shut the case and hurried off to the changing room. 

 

My costume was, for the most part, very simple. My shirt was plain black, no extra designs, as were my slacks. My belt and boots were both black with grey buckles. My long coat was a bit fancier, stretching down to my ankles, and trimmed in several places with white lines. The neck of the coat was stretched upwards, and flared out just a bit. On the right side of the chest, there was a three way split buckle, with a binding harness that let me attach support items to my back.

 

Lisbeth helped me design my support items. They appeared to be swords at first glance, but were actually closer to stun batons that I could run my electricity through. Of course, the pommels and guards matched the designs of my old Elucidator and Dark Repulser. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I hefted the items, testing the weight.

 

Only a little bit lighter than I’m used to.

 

I stopped by the bathroom to wet my hair, matting it down from the wild bush it normally was, then headed out to Ground Beta. As I stepped out of the tunnel, I couldn’t help but notice that this was the same area that my entrance exam had taken place.

 

“Oh, there you are!” chirped a bubbly voice, pulling me out of my musing. I turned and saw Uraraka smiling brightly at me, waving me over to where she stood with Iida and Jirou.

 

I studied Iida first. His costume was simple, but specific in it’s design. With silver mecha armor lined over rough black material, Iida looked like a cross between a knight and a car in human form. Fitting, for his quirk.

 

Jirou’s costume fit her personality perfectly, from what I could tell. She was dressed in black jeans and a salmon shirt with tears at the top and bottom. Her jacket was cropped, shortened to her waist, and she wore white fingerless gloves. Finally, her thick boots looked like they had speakers built into the fronts.

 

Uraraka’s costume made me blush, just a little bit. It wasn’t revealing by any means, a full body skin suit, but it was tight enough that it left none of her curves to the imagination. Her belt, wrist guards and boots were all pink, and thickened to excess, looking uncomfortable to wear. The skin suit itself was mostly black, with pink shoulders and midriff. 

 

“So this is what an SAO swordsman looks like.” Iida’s voice pulled me out of my analysis, and I saw the bespectacled boy looking me over with his own critical eye. Jirou turned to inspect a moment later, and had a strange look on her face as she looked me over.

 

I looked away, scratching my cheek, somewhat embarrassed at the sudden attention. With a deep breath, I closed my eyes and re-centered my thoughts. When I opened my eyes again, I put on a somber face and pretended that I was back in SAO.

 

This is what an SAO swordsman looks like.

 

With the aura I gave off, the reaction was immediate. Jirou took an unconscious step back, Iida grimaced and Uraraka shot me a concerned look.

 

“Attention, young men and women!” All Might’s booming voice caught everyone’s attention. “It’s time to begin today’s training!”

 

“Sensei!” Iida called out, raising his hand. “This is one of the battlegrounds from the practical exam, is it not? Will we be conducting mock urban battles again?”

 

“We will not, Young Iida!” All Might paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “If you look at the statistics, it can be seen that most villain encounters take place indoors! In today’s age, the most intelligent villains will hide themselves in dark holes and shadows. In today’s training, you’ll be paired up and fight against each other in two on two indoor battles, Heroes vs Villains style!” All Might clenched a fist in front of him dramatically.

 

“What are the win and loss conditions?” asked the black haired ponytail girl, Yaoyorozu Momo.

 

“Do we get to crush them anyways?” Bakugo growled.

 

“We won’t be expelled for losing, will we?” Uraraka asked worriedly.

 

“How will team composition be determined?” Iida asked, raising his hand again.

 

“Isn’t this cape just fabulous?” asked a blonde boy near me. I turned and raised an eyebrow at him in disbelief, and he just posed dramatically.

 

“Nnnngh, one at a time please!” All Might sounded flustered, clearly unused to the idea of teaching a full class.

 

Then again, he’s really not used to teaching at all, if my own time with him is any indication.

 

“Here’s the situation!” All Might pulled a small stack of note cards and looked them over. “The villains have obtained a nuclear weapon, and are storing it somewhere within their hideout. The heroes objective is to dispose of the bomb. If the villains get caught, or the bomb is obtained, the heroes will win this exercise. The villains objective is to protect the bomb. If the heroes are caught, or the timer runs out, the villains will win!”

 

“How long is the timer?” asked the red haired teen, Kirishima Eijirou.

 

“Fifteen minutes!” All Might answered after consulting his notes. “I’ll be drawing lots to determine team composition, as well as team oppositions!”

 

“At random, then?” Iida tutted, furrowing his eyebrows in contemplation as All Might shook the lottery box.

 

“It makes sense,” I commented, drawing Iida’s attention. “Pros often have to work with heroes they don’t know very well.” Iida looked thoughtful at the idea, and nodded in agreement. I focused my attention back on All Might as the hero began pulling names and calling the teams.

 

Team A: Todoroki Shouto and Hagakure Tooru

 

Team B: Kouda Kouji and Asui Tsuyu

 

Team C: Tokoyami Fumikage and Shoji Mezou

 

Team D: Jiro Kyoka and Ashido Mina

 

Team E: Aoyama Yuuga and Sero Hanta

 

Team F: Kaminari Denki and Yaoyorozu Momo

 

Team G: Ojiro Mashirao and Uraraka Ochako

 

Team H: Kirishima Eijirou and Sato Rikido

 

Team I: Bakugo Katsuki and Iida Tenya

 

Team J: Midoriya Izuku

 

Of course, I’m the one on my own.

 

“Sensei!” Iida called, once again raising his hand. “I can’t help but notice that Midoriya-kun is on a team by himself. Wouldn’t it be better to dissolve that team and add him to another?”

 

“It’s fine, Iida-kun,” I answered before All Might could. “It’s better this way, I think. I’m used to fighting solo.” I smiled at the bespectacled boy determinedly, and All Might seemed to accept the answer.

 

“If you’re sure, Young Midoriya,” All Might said, concerned at my lack of worry. All was silent for a moment before the top hero began drawing lots for opposition composition.

 

“You sure you’ll be alright?” Jiro asked, glancing at me worriedly. I just smiled softly at her as our classmates mingled and tried to find their partners.


“This is what I’m used to,” I said simply, before setting my gaze ahead. Jiro didn’t look convinced at all, but said nothing else as she went in search of her partner. 

 

“Now then, these teams will be fighting first!” All Might yelled dramatically as he dug his hands into a pair of boxes. One was black and had ‘Villain’ written on the front, and the other box was white with ‘Hero’ written on the front. After a moment of tension, the top hero pulled a pair of balls from the boxes. “Team D will be villains, and Team E will be heroes!”

 

The two teams stepped forward at their mention. Jiro was paired up with Ashido Mina, a girl with pink skin and hair, and black eyes. Her costume was a bodysuit with a low cut and no shoulders, revealing a fair amount of cleavage, and was patterned with blue and purple camouflage. She also had a tan mini coat, with fur lined at the neck. Ashido’s demeanor made her stand out, and I got the distinct ‘life of the party’ vibe from her.’

 

On the other side, was the blonde boy with the cape from earlier. Aoyama Yuuga wore red glasses that stretched out and curved upwards. Like Iida, he wore silver plate armor, but it looked closer to a historical knight, as compared to Iida’s mecha design. Aoyama’s chest piece also had an orb of some kind attached to his stomach, and his glittery purple cape was billowing in the wind dramatically.

 

I have to admit, that cape is actually fabulous.

 

Next to Aoyama stood his partner, Sero Hanta. Sero was a relatively plain looking boy, his black hair combed neatly behind his head, leaving his unremarkable face unhidden. His costume was plain as well, just a one piece outfit in mostly black and white, and gold coloured shoulder guards that matched the shape of his elbows. His helmet was pretty cool, in my opinion, looking like a futuristic motorcycle helmet with a gold angled chin guard.

 

All Might finished his instruction of the teams, giving them each a device to check the time left in the match, then ushered the remaining students to the observation room.

 

From what I could tell, the villains would have five minutes to prepare for the match, and then fifteen minutes to defend the objective. Each match would be held in different buildings, each with a different layout. By the time we reached the observation room, only a minute remained before the start of the first match.

 

Ashido was spraying some kind of liquid from her hands, coating the floors and stairs. Jiro was crouched next to the window near the bomb, looking down at Sero and Aoyama, who were just outside the entrance. It looked like they were discussing strategy, but without sound, I couldn’t be sure.

“Midoriya-san,” Yaoyorozu greeted softly.

 

“Hello, Yaoyorozu-san,” I returned with a polite smile, looking back up at the board as All Might called for the start of the match. Aoyama took point into the building, Sero right behind him.

 

“I’m curious about something.” Yaoyorozu clasped her hands together in front of her stomach, looking apprehensive about something. “At lunch today. It appeared to me that you and Asuna-chan are… close.”

 

I regarded the dignified girl for a moment, noticing how she kept her eyes on the screen.

 

“Asuna is my best friend,” I said confidently. “We met in SAO, and fought together many times.” That prompted a look that crossed between surprise and sadness.

 

“I see,” Yaoyorozu said, looking down for a moment. “We grew up together. Our parents, while not exactly friends, have attended many of the same events. Asuna-chan was a constant presence for a long time, and she’s like a sister to me.”

 

“Returning to the real world was her biggest motivation to fight,” I said, adopting a wistful expression. “I’m glad she had someone like you to return to.” I smiled broadly at Yaoyorozu.

 

“Indeed,” the girl said with a gentle smile, wiping at her eyes. “Though I have you to thank for that, don’t I? She came back because you were watching out for her.” I snorted at that.

 

“You have it backwards,” I said bemusedly. “Asuna was watching out for me more often than anything else.” Yaoyorozu giggled at that, and we turned back to the screen in time to see Sero slip on the stairs. On another screen, Jiro was smirking, and had one of her jacks jammed into a wall.

 

Can she use those to hear through walls?

 

Watching Aoyama and Sero try to navigate whatever substance Ashido had put down was, for some reason, rather amusing. Because of the tough terrain and the hero team’s snail pace, there was only a couple minutes left by the time they reached the villain team.

 

With a quick glance, Aoyama stepped into the door frame and thrusted. It looked kind of tacky for a half second, before his laser blasted into the room, separating Ashido and Jiro. Sero charged in a moment later, pointing his elbow at Ashido and firing tape at the pink girl, binding her arms to her chest. 

 

Meanwhile, Aoyama thrusted another laser in Jiro’s direction. The punk themed girl rolled out of the way, landing in a crouch. Before the flamboyant blonde could fire another laser, Jiro extended one of her jacks down to her boots, and plugged it in. The effect was immediate, if not visible. Whatever it did, knocked everyone else off of their feet.

 

Ashido took the opportunity to break free of her bindings, using that strange substance to melt through the tape.

 

Must be some kind of acid. It didn’t do any damage to the heroes on their way up… can she control the potency?

 

It was all over moments later. Whatever Jiro did had the hero team out of sorts, and the villain team used the opening to bind them with capture tape.

 

“Villain team wins!!” All Might called over the intercom. “All of you, head up to the observation room!”


“Nice job,” I praised Jiro, grinning at her as she walked in the door, trailing behind Ashido and the hero team. The punk themed girl smirked and flashed a thumbs up, but didn’t say anything otherwise.

 

All Might launched into a critique on the battle, offering bits of advice to all involved. Yaoyorozu offered a deeper analysis, much more in depth than what the top hero had done, which appeared to unnerve him a bit.

 

It wasn’t long before the next teams were sent out. Kirishima and Sato, the two buff manly men of the class, were the next villains, with Tokoyami and Shoji as the infiltrating heroes. The villain team fought valiantly, but sticking to straightforward offense in place of a defense led to their undoing. Shoji’s multiple arms easily detected the objective’s location, and between him and Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow, victory for the hero team was all but assured.

 

Next up was hero team Ojiro and Uraraka, against villain team Kaminari and Yaoyorozu. From the way he moved, I could tell that Ojiro was a trained martial artist, and between him and Uraraka, the hero team was looking good on offense. Yaoyorozu turned out to be the brains of the lot, though. Especially after Kaminari unleashed a massive torrent of electrical energy. 

 

Given my own quirk, I was almost impressed, until I noticed what it did to the blonde haired boy. Apparently, going too far with his quirk turned Kaminari brain dead for a short period of time.

 

That’s going to take some work to fix.

 

Yaoyorozu likely hadn’t planned on it happening, but used it to her advantage regardless. Kaminari went all out on both Ojiro and Uraraka, and it dazed them long enough for the Creation Quirk user to subdue them, earning the villain team’s victory.

 

The fourth fight of the day was very short, but certainly impressive in it’s own right. Asui and Kouda were set as the hero team, while Todoroki and Hagakure played defense as villains. The villain’s plan was simple; Hagakure would sneak down and watch the heroes, and signal Todoroki when they entered the building. Once signaled, Todoroki would freeze the entire building, stopping the heroes in their tracks. Then, finally, Hagakure would use her capture tape to subdue Asui and Kouda.

 

It was super effective.

 

Thankfully, Todoroki’s quirk also let him heat the building back up, freeing his trapped classmates. He had referred to it as ‘Half Hot, Half Cold’.

 

A dual quirk is certainly rare.

 

With that match over with, it was time for the moment I’d been dreading all afternoon. I’d hoped beyond hope that I wouldn’t have to deal with this so soon. But when the fourth match came and went, and neither of us had been called up, I knew that I’d be facing Bakugo Katsuki in battle. She knew it too, given the looks of challenge that she’d been shooting my way.

 

Since I was fighting solo, I was given a small boon to help even the odds; my match would have a twenty minute timer, instead of only fifteen minutes. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that, but I’d take it anyway.

 

And finally, with my heart hammering in my chest, it was time to start.

 

“And now, the final match of the day! Midoriya Izuku, versus Bakugo Katsuki and Iida Tenya! Start!”

 

Instead of heading in through the front door, I stepped into the alley around the side. I grinned to myself when I found what I was looking for; the building’s breaker box. With a carefully aimed punch, I shot a Megawatt Hammer, blowing the breaker box to bits.

 

No more power for them.

 

Without the breaker box, the lights in the building would go dark, forcing my opponents to stay near windows if they wanted to see. It was also a double edged sword, in that without power, I could only rely on what I had in reserve when I went in.

 

Luckily, that was why I had my support items; offense without actively draining my reserves. I scaled up some boxes into a second story window, stepping as lightly as I could. There were never any stealth sections in Aincrad, so sneaking was entirely foreign to me. Then again, it may be more wise to just charge in. Knowing Bakugo, she’d probably leave Iida to guard the bomb, and would be gunning it straight for me.

 

I shivered in anticipation for a moment, trying to calm my breathing. Fighting Bakugo now, after our history, was not something I wanted.

 

I shook my head and checked the timer. Only a single minute had passed. I pushed myself to my feet with a grimace and drew the Elucidator. With barely a moment of hesitation, I sparked the blade up to make light, and set off down the dark hallway.

 

Out of nowhere, the hairs on the back of my head stood on end, and I sprung backward just in time to avoid being blown up by Bakugo’s sudden arrival.

 

“Oh, come on, Deku,” Bakugo snarled fiercely, stepping forward menacingly in the poor lighting. “You’re not supposed to dodge.”

 

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. This was exactly why I didn’t want to fight Bakugo; she would take my attempt to fight as a personal insult. Despite the annoyance creeping in my gut, I just held the Elucidator in front of me, ready to get on with the fight.

 

If I remember right, Bakugo starts with a big right hook...

 

The ashen blonde growled, lunging forward at me with the fabled right hook, an explosion already crackling in her palm. I readied the Elucidator, filling it with as much electricity as I could, and swung hard.

 

“Slant!”

 

A single diagonal strike, Slant was a sword skill that I used frequently in SAO. With the electricity I’d pumped into the Elucidator, I was able to use my quirk to move it just as much as my arm, effectively doubling speed and power. It was nonrestrictive with direction, and this time I chose an upward, right to left path, knocking Bakugo’s grenade shaped gauntlet away with enough force that the ashen blonde girl stumbled backwards in surprise. I wasted no time with my riposte.

 

“Rage Spike!”

 

I lunged at Bakugo, Elucidator held low, before swinging upward as hard as I could. The tip of my weapon connected with Bakugo’s chin with a loud meaty *thwack* . With the increased power behind the swing, the ashen blonde achieved liftoff, soaring backwards a fair few feet and landing on her back.

 

That caught her by surprise, but I really doubt it was enough to win…

 

Bakugo just laid there dumbly for a moment before sitting up and staring at me. She wore a look of utter disbelief, as if the last few seconds were completely incomprehensible to her.

 

“What the fuck was that?” Bakugo asked incredulously, slowly rising to her feet. I could tell she was shaken up. The hit to her chin would have done the most damage, and I worried for a moment that I might have given her a concussion. Given that we were in a fight, I was tempted not to answer, but I figured that would just anger the girl more than was necessary.

 

“SAO sword skills, adapted to the real world using my quirk,” I said simply, readying the Elucidator in my hand. “Don’t forget, Bakugo. I spent two years fighting for my life. I’m not going to make this easy for you.”

 

Bakugo narrowed her eyes, growling dangerously, but stopped short at a clicking noise in one of her gauntlets. The ashen blonde raised the gauntlet in question, then grinned wildly.

 

“It’s loaded…”

 

That sounds bad.

 

“And what does that mean?” I asked, almost afraid of the answer.

 

“Did you know that I sweat nitroglycerin?” Bakugo almost sounded casual with the question, and that unnerved me. “You probably knew that, with all your analysis stalking. Y’see, these gauntlets can absorb that nitroglycerin, and when they’re full…” Bakugo trailed off, grinning wildly as she pointed the gauntlet’s tip in my direction. What looked like the end of a cannon could be seen, and a firing pin appeared when the ashen blonde pulled a piece of metal.

 

Well… shit.

 

“Don’t underestimate me, Deku!” Bakugo pulled the pin, and I paled at the size of the explosion that was unleashed. I had just enough time to put up my Polarity Wall, but the quick job made it weak, and it broke quickly under the massive strain. Thankfully, it took the brunt of the damage, but I was still knocked back a few dozen feet. I rolled to a stop near the window that I had climbed through, with my back towards Bakugo. I was definitely hurting all over, and as I laid there on the ground, I decided to see how well playing dead would work.

 

“Young Midoriya, are you alright!?” All Might shouted in my ear. I could hear Bakugo approaching cautiously, so I’d have to be careful with my response.

 

“I’m good, playing dead,” I whispered into the comm unit, my hand tight around Elucidator’s hilt. My free hand reached into my coat, and pulled out the capture tape. Bakugo’s footsteps were nearly upon me.

 

I only get one shot at this.

 

This wouldn’t be over until All Might called the end. Since I had confirmed to him that I was still good, I knew that Bakugo would be forced to use her capture tape if she wanted to win. There would be a brief window where she let her guard down, and I’d have to take her by surprise and use my own tape if I wanted to get by her.

 

Bakugo stopped and stood over me. My heart hammered in my chest, and it was all I could do to keep my breathing even. After what felt like an eternity, Bakugo finally shifted in some way, and I took the opportunity to strike.

 

I kicked a leg back, twisting my body around to take out Bakugo’s balance. In a stroke of good luck, the move worked, and the ashen blonde fell to the ground in a heap with a strangled shout. Letting go of the Elucidator, I pushed Bakugo’s legs together and wrapped the capture tape around her shins, taking an angry explosion to the side in the process.

 

“Bakugo has been captured, and is out of the fight!” All Might’s voice rang out in my ears, and I heaved a sigh of relief.

 

“Deku, you sneaky little fuck!” Bakugo screamed, looking almost betrayed by the tactic I’d used. I just shot her a sardonic grin as I untied her legs. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, with that possum bullshit!?”

 

“Whatever it takes to win, Bakugo.” My tone was quiet, but sharp. I stood, retrieving the Elucidator and offering Bakugo a hand. As expected, Bakugo just slapped it away and stood by herself.

 

“Fuck you!” she snarled, heading in the direction of the exit. At least she’d have time to cool off before I saw her again. I shook my head and checked the timer. 

 

Thirteen minutes left on the clock.

 

I sheathed the Elucidator and set off in search of a way up, sparking my arms to light my way in the darkness. Picking up my pace, I searched through the building as carefully as I could. It was a time consuming effort, but it wasn’t too long before I found Iida and the bomb. As I expected, he had set up in a room with windows. Given the nearby building placement, even the sunlight wasn’t very bright.

 

Even from the end of the hallway that led to the bomb room, I could see Iida looking around cautiously, and that he hadn’t noticed me yet.

 

I stopped sparking, killing the light that I was giving off, concealing myself entirely in the darkness. Waiting for just a moment, I started walking down the hallway towards my armored opponent, making a point to clack my boots against the floor to draw his attention.

 

Iida’s head snapped in my direction at the sound, and I could almost see a bead of sweat on his forehead. As I stepped out of the shadows, I adopted a blank expression and drew the Elucidator in a slow motion, drawing out the sound for maximum effect.

 

“Midoriya-kun…?” Iida sounded rather unnerved. I pulled up the timer again, then showed it to him. Nine minutes left on the clock. Iida audibly swallowed at that, taking a step back as I lowered the timer again.

 

I had plenty of time to finish this up, but I still wanted to finish it quickly. Drawing the Dark Repulser, I readied myself in a combat stance, both blades primed and ready.

 

Think you can last the full nine minutes, Iida-kun?

 

Iida made the first move in our duel. Activating his quirk, Iida blasted towards me, sending a high powered kick towards my head. I managed to duck under it, dodging past his leg and spinning to prime my next sword skill.

 

“Double Circular!”

 

I flooded my blades with electricity and swung my blades in parallel, both striking my armored opponent’s side in the same instant. With his heavy armor, Iida didn’t move very far from the high powered strike. Even still, he was knocked off balanced, and tumbled into a nearby pillar.

 

I turned and dashed towards the bomb. All I needed to do was lay a hand on it, and the win would be mine. Unfortunately, Iida was able to recover and move the bomb beyond my reach.

 

“Not so fast, hero!” Iida called, apparently trying to get into character, but still coming off as rather nervous. I narrowed my eyes at him, saying nothing as I considered my options.

 

My sword skills wouldn’t be of much use against a heavily armored opponent like Iida. On the other hand, my more powerful electrical moves could damage the objective. Iida took the opportunity to launch a flurry of kicks aimed at various places, forcing me to dodge backwards away from the bomb.

 

I settled Dark Repulser back in its sheath as I decided on a strategy. With the Elucidator in one hand, and my capture tape in the other, I charged.

 

“Howling Octave!”

 

I lunged at Iida, aiming a series of five thrusts at various points on his body. My armored opponent managed to dodge most of them, only taking the last thrust to his shoulder, but it was enough to stun him as I launched into the second half of the sword skill. I twisted around for momentum, then brought the Elucidator down for a hard downward slash on Iida’s shoulder. Twisting back around, I brought the weapon up again in an uppercut, aimed at his arm. With a pirouette, I launched a final brutal uppercut to the boy’s chin. 

 

Just as with Bakugo before him, Iida managed to get some air time, and I was moving in on him before he landed. Dropping the Elucidator on the ground, I crouched down and tied Iida’s hands together with my capture tape, ending the fight.

 

“Iida has been captured! Hero team wins!!” All Might’s voice rang out as Iida sat up in a daze.

 

“Midoriya-kun…?” Iida looked up at me blearily, then down at his bindings, which I promptly undid. “What just happened?” I scratched my cheek awkwardly, not really sure how to answer.

 

“Sorry, Iida-kun,” I murmured, feeling somewhat embarrassed now that the fight was over. “Let’s get back up to the observation room so we can look over the footage.” I offered my armored friend a hand, and pulled him to his feet. Using my quirk to light the way, Iida and I set off towards the exit.


Katsuki wasn’t having a very good day.

 

It was bad enough that the Chestnut girl got on her case at lunch, and having to wait for the entire afternoon for her turn in combat was wearing her already thin patience down to dust. To make matters worse, she got stuck with Four Eyes for a partner, and had to fight fucking Deku .

 

To top it all off, Deku didn’t even have a goddamn team mate. Almost as if fuckin’ U.A. itself thought he would be enough to challenge Katsuki by himself.

 

And then, the bastard went and beat Katsuki by himself. And then, went on to win the match entirely, by himself.

 

Katsuki was going to have a fucking stroke.

 

She kept to herself in a back corner when Deku and Four Eyes got back to the observation room, and scowled as the entire rest of the class kept shouting praises at the green haired brat. Katsuki would be glad when All Might reigned the loud ass people in for the analysis, which he took entirely too long to do.

 

“Now, can anyone tell me who the MVP was for this match?” All Might asked, looking around the room.

 

“Given the irregular parameters, it’s difficult to say. Given the performance, however, I believe that Midoriya-san was the clear star of this match,” Ponytail said evenly, speaking in that analytical tone that she’d kept up the entire afternoon. “He created an advantage for himself by putting the lights out, and defeated his opponents quickly and efficiently.”

 

“That’s true and all, but what about that sneak attack? Not very manly, if you ask me,” Shitty Hair spoke up with a concerned look, getting a couple nods of agreement from the others.

 

“And what if it’s the only winning strategy?” Deku asked, crossing his arms and shooting Shitty Hair a pointed look. “Will you stick to your guns even if it means you might lose? What if it means you let innocent people die for it?” 

 

No one had an answer for that. Of course they fuckin’ didn’t. Even Shitty Hair looked kinda guilty over it.

 

“It’s admirable to try and stay true to your ideals,” All Might said, nodding sagely. “But the safety of the people must always come first, even if it must cost your ideals.”

 

Katsuki rolled her eyes and said nothing. She wasn’t here to save people. She was here to win. To be on top!

 

Katsuki’s attention was drawn to the class again when Frog Face decided to speak up.

 

“I’m told I can be very blunt, kero,” she said in her weird frog voice. “I always say what’s on my mind. Where did you learn to fight like that, Midoriya-chan?”

 

“I’d like to know that too,” said Tails. “I’ve seen a lot of sword styles, but never anything like what you’ve done.”

 

“Yeah, your moves were totally bad ass!” Pikachu shouted, pumping a fist in the air enthusiastically.

 

Katsuki grimaced to herself as she watched Deku uncross his arms with a resigned sigh. It wasn’t long before most of the class had joined in. Round Face and Four Eyes exchanged worried glances, and Ears looked like she was about to bite through her lip.

 

You bastards wouldn’t be so cheerful if you knew the fuckin’ answer.

 

“I learned to fight like that in SAO.” Deku scratched the back of his head awkwardly as the entire class went silent, and his face was somber as he continued. “I’ve already been in real, life or death fights. That’s all my life was, every day and all day, for two years.”  

 

“Shit… sorry man,” Shitty hair offered, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Deku just waved it off, smiling somberly.

 

No one else had anything to say after that, so All Might was quick to wrap things up and send the class back. Katsuki ignored the other girls while she changed, and slipped back to the classroom before anyone else could get there.

 

Katsuki was lost in her thoughts by the time the rest of the class showed up. The last hour or so of the day was supposed to be a study hall, but the ashen blonde girl found she couldn’t focus on her work at all. 

 

“You don’t need a quirk to be dangerous, Bakugo-san.”

 

Katsuki knew that now more than ever. It had pissed her off to hear the first time, and kept confusing her the more she thought about it. Deku had saved her without his quirk, and then barely used it today.

 

“Your hand’s free! Blast, now!”

 

In seconds, Deku had done more than the heroes had in ten minutes. Katsuki didn’t want to think about the look in his eyes at that moment. There was a history behind that look, a chain of events that had created the pain and fear that drove him that day.

 

“You treated him like dirt.”

 

Katsuki couldn’t stop thinking about that, even long before the Chestnut girl brought it up. The old Deku was a stuttering mess, and could barely form words, let alone sentences. Katsuki had always thought that Deku was just weird, that his nervous nature would never let him walk the path of heroics. But seeing Deku now made Katsuki wonder.

 

If left alone, the old Deku would keep to himself and seem content. It was only when Katsuki got involved that the nervous wreck came out. Because of Katsuki’s treatment, Deku retreated inwards. Katsuki had all but forced Deku to be an introvert, had pushed him to using games as a form of escapism.

 

It’s my fault he got trapped in SAO.

 

“Oi, Bakugo!” Shitty Hair’s loud voice caught Katsuki’s attention, dragging her out of her thoughts. “You good? School’s out and you’re just spacing.”

 

“Yeah, I’m good,” Katsuki answered curtly, packing her stuff up. She stood up with a stretch, looking around the room, and pausing. “Where’d Deku go?”

 

“He left already,” Round Face supplied when Shitty Hair just looked confused. Katsuki looked at Deku’s empty seat, feeling an itch in the back of her mind. Everyone else was still packing up, so Deku must have been ready to go right on time. Before she had a chance to think, Katsuki was out the door and running down the hall.

 

What the hell am I doing?

 

Katsuki would never admit it, but she blamed herself. She tried to hide it, to put up anger and contempt as a front, but she knew it deep down. Deku’s history of pain began with Katsuki. 

 

He was at the front gate by the time Katsuki caught up to him. She paused for a moment, watching him walk away, her mind racing a mile a minute. For a moment, she had no idea what to say.

 

“Deku!” Katsuki called out to him, taking a step forward, only to be stopped by a flash of lightning that whizzed over her shoulder.

 

“Would you stop calling me that!?” Deku shouted back at her, staring her down with the same intensity as during their fight. Katsuki just stared back, her mouth hanging open in surprise. “I’m not fucking useless! I know you don’t like me, but can you really not just give up on that stupid nickname!? I stopped being Deku a long time ago!”

 

“I don’t…” Katsuki was at a loss for words. She was surprised to see this side of Deku, but she supposed that she really shouldn’t be. 

 

“Just…” Deku scratched the back of his head awkwardly, looking off to the side. “Asuna was right earlier, you know. But I’m willing to forgive and forget, if only as a means to move on. So just, leave me alone, would you?”

 

Deku turned and walked away, leaving Katsuki alone in the courtyard. Katsuki stared at his back as he went, not knowing how to deal with whatever she was feeling. When Deku was gone from her sight, Katsuki allowed a single tear to slip down her cheek.

 

“I just wanted to apologize…”