In one world, Midoriya Izuku is bullied by everyone in his class.
And that’s it. Be they petty remarks, shoving in the halls, hands only half covering laughs, open mockery and degradation, or even just apathy to his plight- Izuku suffers. He is set on a path that starts with him at rock bottom, and he’s forced to climb the mountain that is life and ‘disability’ that is the result of not lacking, but having something- a pesky little toe joint.
The path he follows leads to a shonen anime storyline, complete with epic rivalry, classic female love interests, and struggles against the forces of evil that occasionally make viewer audiences question morals and outlooks (but not too often- this is the good guys vs the evil, after all). The relationship between Katsuki and Izuku is complicated, but it’s viewed through the typical lens of choice; a heterosexual one that paints their interactions in their youth as the strong putting down the weak.
It’s a passing viewing pleasure for those that watch the development of this complex bond, because Deku and Kacchan, the infamous duo that they are, have a sort of gravity around them.
The students of Orudera know on an instinctual level that these two are the center of the story, and pay them more heed as a result.
They watch the beginning steps of the story, not aware yet the path it will take, but somehow aware that they are unimportant beyond kicking it into motion. Maybe that’s part of why they take even mild joy in watching Izuku suffer in his terrible quirklessness- they know they are insignificant, while this loser- the kid who never shuts up, and never gives up when he really, really should… is. It’s unfair to realize on a deep, subconscious level that you aren’t going to change the world while the kid you pick on is going to have every last one of his dreams come true. So they take their mild pleasures where they can get them.
Besides. Shonen dramas need underdogs- them pushing down and bullying Midoriya is just a necessary evil in the universe to carry out the story to come.
It’s a decent path, honestly. Despite bad beginnings, it has redemption, and though the days of middle school are completely awful for the poor boy at the center, these parts are quickly skimmed over to get to the real ‘meat’ of the story.
After all- middle school is the blink of an eye. It’s not that significant or story worthy, just as the students around Deku and Kacchan have no real bearing on the outcome of their relationship.
Well, in most cases, most worlds, sure. The children of his childhood, and more importantly, middle school, don’t mean much to the path Izuku’s story takes other than the necessary character building beat downs they instill.
Except… There exists a different world, somewhere out there. One where, at least to the middle schoolers of Orudera, Izuku’s story is not a shonen. Orudera isn’t a bully filled cesspit striving to beat Izuku into the underdog he needs to be, because here, a different lens is used to see Deku and Kacchan, the dynamic duo. To the students of grade school, and once again more importantly, to the Orudera middle school students, Boku No Hero Academia isn’t a Shonen anime.
…It’s a soap opera.
The first change is in the first grade.
Miyo Tanaka comes home complaining to her mother about Ken pulling on her hair again. She’s upset, distraught, and just doesn’t understand why the boy who is usually nice to everyone else (except Midoriya, of course) never talks to her, and only interacts with her to pull on the ends of her hair when they’re doing math.
Mrs. Tanaka is trying very admirably not to laugh, but Miyo is perceptive.
“Why, mama? Why!”
Mrs. Tanaka gives a slight roll of her eyes upwards, sighs, and leans down to smile at her daughter. She tweaks Miyo’s nose and winks. “Sometimes, when a boy likes a girl, he’ll do things that are a little mean to get her attention. Now,” she firmly says, “there’s a difference when it hurts you, and you should come to me if it ‘crosses the line’, but in this case it sounds like this boy has a crush on you, dear.”
Miyo makes a disgusted retching sound that her mother giggles at.
“Only dummies get crushed!” Miyo exclaims, ignoring her mother’s mutter of ‘crush, not crushed.’ Miyo puffs out her chest, and steam hazes up past the collar of her shirt. “I’m gonna be a dragon, and dragon’s don’t’ need no people crushing them! I’ll crush him!”
“Of course dear. And would this dragon like cookies?”
Miyo pauses in showing off her ability to steam water vapour off her skin, lowering the arms she had been flexing to blink bashfully at her mother. “Yeah…”
Miyo’s mother gestures pointedly at the unformed lump of dough in the mixing bowl, and the pan half filled with flattened out balls. Miyo scurries to her mother’s side. They resume rolling dough into cookies, companionable in the soothing activity that will soon yield a sugar craze for Miyo.
Miyo is still caught up in her thoughts, however, wondering on stupid boys, when seemingly by fate, her thoughts stumble over a ‘dangerous’ idea. “Mama,” she innocently asks, “can a boy do the same thing to another boy?”
Mrs. Tanaka pauses, but to her credit, she doesn’t overly hesitate with her response. “Ah. Well, yes! It’s not as common, but, boys can have crushes on other boys, and girls can have crushes on other girls as well.” She removes her hand from the dough to streak a lump of sugary goodness down her daughter’s nose, who giggles as a chocolate chip hangs precariously off her nose, then falls to the ground. “Like whoever you like dear- just promise me no dating till you’re old enough to not get cooties.”
Mrs. Tanaka is a good mother, but she’s not omniscient. She’s forward thinking, but if she knew the full nature of Izuku and Katsuki’s relationship- and that it was them that her daughter had immediately thought of- she would have firmly highlighted that they would be a very clear case of ‘crossing the line’.
But the seed, the first of many, is planted with none the wiser.
Miyo spreads her newfound information with all the delicacy of a freight train.
“Bakugou has a crush on Deku!” She tells the class.
Bakugou immediately purples, and beans Miyo in the back of the head with the pen he had been holding. “I do not!”
Miyo still doesn’t quite understand the concepts of ‘fear’ and ‘self-preservation’ yet. She sticks her tongue out at the boy while the students around her giggle or blink dazedly. They’re still in their hero worship phase for Bakugou, but it’s hard, even for other six year olds, to be scared of a kid with chubby cheeks and puffy blond hair. “Yeah you do- you’re always punching ‘im, and you sit on him when you guys share your snacks!” She blinks, guileless. “So you definitely crush him!”
Bakugou sneers, and crosses his arms. “That’s not a crush dumbass!”
“Language-” the teacher tries to interject.
“But, yeah!” Katsuki finishes. “I do crush Deku.” He rounds on the boy in question, who has been sitting right next to him. Katsuki socks him in the arm, and reaches into the bag Izuku is holding to snag a homemade cookie. He smirks as Izuku pouts at him.
The other students are not so accepting. “I thought crushes meant you wanna kiss them.”
The teacher closes her eyes, praying for patience as the class descends into screams of anarchy against the terrible ‘cooties’ and all things ‘lovey dovey’. Why did she have to have the ‘wonder duo’ in her class?
The first graders eventually calm after the fires are put out and Izuku is unstuck from the ceiling, but despite the boy being dislodged, the newfound information is held tight within the minds of the class, if somewhat repressed by the trauma of Katsuki setting the teachers desk on fire.
It’s a wonderful and strange ability of a child’s minds to skim over what should invoke reality crisis. It just seems so logical to them. Katsuki isn’t lovey dovey over Izuku, but he definitely crushes him. Why else would Katsuki always punch him and sit by him?
The kids accept the new reality easily. They don’t even question in the coming years that Katsuki has a so called ‘crush’ on Izuku.
And so the Soap Opera begins.