All Might kept the smile on his face, kept the facade up for the cameras pointed in his direction. There were journalists and fans surrounding him, pressing up against him on all sides. He was used to this, had come to welcome it at times, but the copper taste coating the back of his throat and the ache in his side was telling him that his time was up. There were few worse places to reveal his secret than in a crowd of reporters, with cameras already recording. He started to slowly inch away to the edge of the group, where the police barrier had stopped people from gathering so thickly; today would not be the day his secret was revealed to the world.
He shifted his head to look to the singed street, and the heroes that were currently milling around, blocking the kid from view. He supposed it was possible his secret could be exposed today, after all, there wasn’t much he could do to police the words of a teen; he’d just have to hope that the respect the kid had as a fanboy would keep him quiet.
Signing a few autographs and answering questions with a level of absentmindedness that only came from years of practice, he thought back to his interaction with the boy.
Even after he’d told the kid it was impossible to be a hero without a quirk, that he needed to be more realistic, he’d still run out to save his friend. Most civilians would be wary enough facing a villain, but facing the same villain that almost killed them less than an hour ago? It was admirable to say the least.
The world needed more selfless heroes who were willing to risk their lives to save people. He’d almost forgotten that drive, until he’d seen the kid face down that sludge villain, and felt moved enough to act.
He wanted to speak to the kid again, to see if his feet had moved on their own like so many heroes before him, but that would be impossible at the moment. All Might was still surrounded, and the boy was talking to the other on-scene heroes, withdrawn and shaking. There were far too many people around to talk, especially if the kid was worthy of being his successor. His injury was something that would eventually come to public light, but he would die before giving away the secret of One for All.
After answering a few more questions he managed to make it out of the crowd, jumping a street over and letting go of his form. His muscles screamed in protest for going past his daily limit, so he was restricted to walking instead of dashing as he looked for a street that the kid would hopefully walk past on his way off the scene.
The boy seemed polite with a heroic spirit, and with a quirk like One for All he could potentially do some real good for the world. The way he’d asked his question reminded All Might of himself, on the day he’d spoken to Nana. Full of dreams and aspirations, but unable to fulfill them without a quirk.
The afternoon progressed, vestiges of those early years following him, but he didn’t stumble across the boy again. So he shook his head, letting the memories dissipate with the action. He had shopping he needed to replace (he didn’t regret chasing after that sludge villain, but it was annoying that he’d lost several days worth of groceries for it) and didn’t want to have to wander the streets at night in this form.
As he abandoned his search he felt a sense of loss settle at the edge of his mind; the kind that told you an opportunity had been missed, that something could have been gained but had escaped your grasp. However, that feeling was easy enough for him to ignore (it was not rare, in fact, as he often wondered what he could have had if his path had differed by even the smallest amount, when he came home to an empty apartment). So he walked back to the shops, letting the green haired boy he left behind drift to the back of his mind.
The whole incident had been a mess. Death Arms was furious at how incompetent he, and the other heroes, had come off, unable to save one kid from a villain. It wasn’t like he could actually do anything in a fight against the viscous villain, his attacks would have just sunk into that sludge-like body. The other heroes should have put their quirks to better use, or run off to get someone who could actually help instead of lingering on the scene. The only hero who hadn’t pissed Death Arms off was Backdraft, who’d been trying to put out the fires that’d been started.
Now, after All Might’s intervention, they were nothing more than glorified street janitors, cleaning up the villain after getting their asses saved.
Except he wasn’t with the others, scooping up sludge into plastic bags. No, he was trying to talk some sense into the idiot that ran into a burning street and attacked a villain despite police and heroes telling him to stay back. He wasn’t sure how much was getting through though, the kid staring up at him blankly while he spoke. He was halfway through outlining exactly why you should never cross police lines when-
“Can someone without a quirk…become a hero?”
What. The fuck. If several pro heroes with great quirks couldn’t help in a villain fight, what made this kid think he could do anything? Especially when he’d just thrown himself into a fight and just gotten in the way (he refused to believe that the few seconds the kid bought made a difference).
“Are you serious?” He paused to remember to filter his words so he wouldn’t be cussing out a kid in front of whatever cameras weren’t occupied by All Might. “That was a stupid decision to run in there, but without a quirk as well? Are you suicidal or something? Forget being a hero, you need to get your head in order first!”
He hadn’t met a single quirkless person who had amounted to anything, they’d all been lacking.
“You’re lucky you didn’t end up dead, and that All Might interfered when he did! Honestly, kids these days have no idea how the world works. If you really want to be ambitious then look for a decent office job first, somewhere where lacking a quirk won’t make you a liability. Do you think hero work is a joke?”
And then the damn kid just. Stood up. And walked away . He felt his knuckles crack as he clenched his hands.
“You would seriously ignore a hero after I answered your stupid question, and just walk away? How much ruder can you get-” and he stopped as the kid paused by Backdraft, and asked him the same question . “How dare you bother other pro heroes as they work for such a frivolous question!”
Backdraft, the damn rescue hero he was, ignored him along with the kid and answered the question. What was with rescue heroes and acting like they were better than anyone else, when in reality they were just more specialised? At least Backdraft was sane enough to say no, though he seemed to think the kid would have some potential as a firefighter which was laughable with the kid’s tiny frame.
Before he could get another word in, the kid moved on to the next hero. He wanted to grab him and shake him by the collar, but with the reporters still lingering around he would only get a bad rep for that, regardless of the fact that he was trying to improve the situation by stopping the infuriating kid from interrupting cleanup efforts.
Mt. Lady looked confused when he asked, the airhead asking if the kid was asking a trick question.
He finally got pulled from his babysitting duty by an officer calling him over; the kid could be someone else’s problem, it’s not like he could stop him from asking a question but sooner or later he would have to realise the answer would be the same. Quirkless people were just too weak to help anyone, and he couldn’t understand why the kid hadn’t picked up on that from today’s incident.
By the time they’d finished cleaning up the scene he’d seen the kid bother every other hero with his question. Then he’d disappeared with the dregs of the crowd that had appeared to watch the fight, finally getting out of everyone’s way. At least that’d probably be the last he ever heard of some rude, tiny, useless, quirkless green haired kid.
For once Endeavor was wishing that he didn’t have such quick reflexes. Maybe then he wouldn’t have been able to redirect that fireball, and the child would have been out of everyone’s way.
Quirkless, and he had the audacity to ask him if he could be a hero. Approaching (approaching? No, the child had managed to sneak up on him. Too slow once again, too unaware, he would never reach number one if some quirkless child could sneak up on him) the number two hero as if he didn’t have better things to do than pander to the whims of a weak-minded waste of space.
Rage still boiled under his skin, making itself known by spitting out embers from his beard, even as Burnin rejoined him. She didn’t mention his shift in attitude. Good. They didn’t need any more distractions on their patrol. The media had taken too much of their time already, he needed to take down at least one more criminal to maintain his usual patrol apprehension record. And then when he finalized paperwork and went home, he had to deal with the headache that was training with Shouto.
Shouto was everything that... person would never be. Useless didn’t begin to describe that green-haired child’s existence. Endeavor had designed Shouto so he would have the perfect quirk (if he would get over this childish tantrum and use it properly) and he would become the number one hero. Getting into UA was just another step in his path, but with the training he had given Shouto and the recommendation from the number two hero, Shouto would get in for sure. After all, he didn’t have any other option; he would succeed.
He couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like if any of his children had been born quirkless...he looked over the people they passed in the street, searching for any sign of attack. No, if they’d been born quirkless, they’d be better off dead than being a drain on society like that child undoubtedly was. Becoming a hero? When he wasn’t even worth the title of being human? It would be laughable if it wasn’t so disgusting.
A scream from their left pulled him out of his thoughts, his body already moving to intercept. He better not see that quirkless child ever taking up a hero’s time again, when it was better spent helping people who actually mattered.
Night had settled over the city by the time Hawks finished up his patrol, gliding down to the balcony outside of his office. He chucked the folder he’d been carrying onto the desk, ignoring how it scattered the mess that was already there. He’d wanted to encourage that crazy kid, someone confident enough to jump off a building to get a hero to pause and pay attention was sure to do more interesting crazy shit in the future, but he just couldn’t. He got fast tracked to the heroics profession, just because of his powerful quirk, and in the end all he was still just another tool for the Heroics Commission to use.
He shuffled his feathers, moving to the adjacent room to get changed out of his hero outfit. Sure he was going to be here for a while longer finishing up paperwork and answering coworker’s questions, but he wouldn’t feel as much pressure to keep patrolling if he wasn’t in uniform.
Keeping up without a quirk would just be soul draining; even he never got a break. Not to mention the fact that your image usually depended on your quirk. Without a quirk you can’t be marketed, you won’t get support, and without support you’re one mistake from getting torn to pieces. He’d seen it happen to other heroes - they got on the bad side of the Commission, and when the public came for them, there was no one to protect them but conveniently understaffed PR teams. Those heroes usually disappeared, either fading away to the background trying to scrape together a living, or having their licenses discreetly removed and their names erased from databases. No, it was better the kid find a path that wouldn’t mistreat him every step of the way.
Groaning, he flopped down onto his chair and flicked through the new papers that had been placed on his desk, looking for anything that looked important. Paperwork was the bane of his existence, and every second he spent working on it made the folder sitting innocuously on the end of his desk more appealing. He had to admit, he was curious; what information would a teen consider important enough that it had to be handed directly to a hero? Scribbling a quick affirmative notice on a materials request, he shoved over the pile of loose sheets in favour of picking up the folder to have a quick skim through. It was wild that the kid really had jumped off of a roof as a calculated effort to get his attention. At least he’d seemed remorseful about doing it, so Hawks wasn’t too stressed about him pulling similar stunts in the future.
He flipped to a random page and started reading, skimming over the information provided.
By the second page he was actually reading the words.
By the third page he was sitting up properly, and turning to the beginning of the folder, because he needed some context, a summary of what the hell he was actually reading.
His eyes flickered between the pages, the hand written notes, the glued in graphs and statistics, the basic sketches and diagrams. He wasn’t even halfway through by the time he was calling a nearby police station to get some of the information verified. Several people would be staying overtime tonight if his instincts were accurate because what the hell was this folder.
Half of the content he had only heard of from rumours and whispers, but the notes here weren’t a collection of gossip; no, this was fully researched - information cross referenced and perfectly presented, with little notes for action plans or recommended heroes tacked onto the end of pages like an afterthought.
The other half he’d never heard of.
The green haired kid had said it took him what? Four days to get this information? He thought back to the conversation he’d had only a couple of hours ago. The kid said he was from Musutafu. How the hell had he found all of this, and within four days?
Hawks sent out an agency wide message to notify those who would be staying overtime to help him start investigating some of this information, and placed the folder down to stare at it.
Had he been wrong? He'd said no to the kid’s question because he knew that the world valued quirks too much to forgive someone for daring to try and join the heroics industry without one. Saying yes only would have hurt him in the future but…maybe he was wrong. If this kid, who was crazy enough to calculate whether jumping off a building would be a smart idea or not, was capable of collecting information ranging from basic quirk information to detailed organisation movements and document it within four days, what would he be capable with proper training?
Best Jeanist watched as the kid faded into the approaching crowd, his small frame disappearing as fans began calling out, vying for attention. The boy was lucky to have caught him before the masses realised where he was patrolling today (what he didn’t know, however, was that Izuku finding him had nothing to do with chance).
He kept his immaculate composure up as the crowd reached him; keeping up appearances was a large part of heroics after all. There was far more to worry about than supporting an unattainable dream, like the villain that just appeared in front of him, thinking they could plague society in broad daylight.
When the boy first approached him, Edgeshot’s first reaction was that of concern. Why was a child so close to the area they’d just been fighting in, when civilians had been evacuated before the true fighting had even begun? He seemed to be walking with purpose too, coming straight towards him and the other nearby heroes who were assisting him, rather than wandering aimlessly.
He paused in front of the assembled heroes, who also stopped their movements.
“Can we help you?” One of the sidekicks from his agency, Solar Flare, asked.
“Can someone without a quirk become a hero?” A few of the heroes raised eyebrows at each other while Edgeshot looked over the boy. He was small, fairly plain looking, but didn’t seem too nervous despite facing several pro heroes next to the site of a villain attack.
“Back off kid, it ain’t gonna happen.” Edgeshot couldn’t remember her name, but he knew she was usually grumpy and a bit annoying to work with. However, this was a whole new level of irritation, her tone venomous. It’s not like he disagreed with her but-
Oh, the kid was still looking at him, he should probably answer.
He made eye contact and shook his head. “You should stay clear of this zone while cleanup is in progress.”
A few of the other heroes joined in with different levels of scorn or pity, but they all shared the same view; someone without a quirk could not be a hero. And Edgeshot couldn’t think of a single reason why they might be wrong.
She was tired, the kind that set into your bones, the kind you got from pushing yourself past your limits a few days in a row. Ryukyu wanted nothing more than to get home and sleep, but that didn’t mean she let herself relax on the walk from her agency to her house. It was because of this she was prepared for a fight when a…child? Dropped down in front of her from one of the buildings forming the walls of the alleyway she had just passed into. She’d felt like she was being watched for a while now, but with her position as the number nine hero, it was a common feeling. Just not so common when she was in civilian clothes and had left through the back exit of her agency.
Even though the boy appeared to be young, she kept her guard up; there was no telling what his intentions were or what quirk he could be harboring.
When he spoke up, she expected maybe a threat, or some intense fanboying. Instead, she got a question.
“Can someone without a quirk become a hero?”
She admired how the kid had been able to...not sneak up on her, that wasn’t his goal, but follow her mostly undetected until they reached a quiet area. The fact that he had used the rooftops to do so was a credit to his physical abilities, even if he did look somewhat flustered. Being observant enough to spot her leaving through the back entrance was also a positive mark, and even without those things another hero around to help with paperwork would be great.
Yesterday she’d lost a sidekick to a strong villain, who’d broken down a wall in a surprise attack.
Halcyon had been a strong sidekick, with a powerful quirk, but they had still died at the hands of a villain. The reality of the industry was that mortality rates were high, and looking at the young teen in front of her she couldn’t bring herself to encourage him. If people with powerful quirks died in the field, then any quirkless person in those situations certainly would. Maybe someone a bit more optimistic, without a recent loss, would be able to encourage him, or his friends (and how was she to know that he didn’t have any, and hadn’t for years) could support his dream.
He shuffled his feet, and she held in a sigh as she gave her answer. She was so tired.
“You’ve got potential, that much is obvious, and many heroes must learn skills outside of their quirk use in order to be successful. Being able to move around undetected over difficult terrain like rooftops is certainly a useful ability that many don’t have. There are various skills that can be learned in order to improve your performance, but being quirkless is a liability. You wouldn’t have anything to fall back on if a situation became dire, so no. I don’t think you can become a hero.”
She saw a flicker of emotion on his face before it became carefully blank once more, making her wonder if she had imagined the change.
“Thank you for your time.” He bowed. “Sorry for interrupting your day, stay safe.” And with that, he slipped back into the gap between buildings he had appeared from.
Ryuku continued walking, and looked down the gap (it was too small to even be considered an alleyway) when she passed it. It appeared to be empty, until she looked up and saw a pair of feet disappearing over the edge of a roof.
The rest of the walk home she wondered exactly who the boy was; she hadn’t even gotten a name before he’d disappeared. Whatever became of him, she hoped he stayed safe.
“I don’t even have to ask anyone for them to tell me I can’t be a hero. If I mention heroes, or do something even slightly heroic, they’ll tell me that I could never be a pro hero..I’m quirkless, and that’s all they’ll ever see me as.”
It was a sad statement. The boy had been quiet when he’d answered, and Gang Orca had felt his heart go out to the child. Part of him had wanted to assure him, to not join the others that had told him his dream was impossible but...It wasn’t a matter of training or ambition, it was simply impossible for someone without a quirk to be a hero. Just because a bird could fly didn’t mean it could win a race meant for jet planes. It was disheartening, but true.
Other than the sombre last few minutes of the tour, however, it had been wonderful. Thanks to that boy, the attendance rate for the tour had been 100%, a rarity when he was the one leading it. The children had all listened to him, had even begun to like him by the end (one had even said he was their new favourite hero, and Gang Orca’s heart had felt like it was about to melt). All because the boy had spoken up on his behalf, showing his skill in subtle manipulation and his leadership potential.
Gang Orca hoped he would choose a career in education, or some other similar path, in order to make the most of his potential. He would be able to teach more children to be kind, to listen, just like he had today. He would be able to help the next generation grow up considerate, to watch how they judged others, and bring about some good change in the world, rather than waste his time chasing after heroes when he would never be able to join their ranks.
(The irony, that Gang Orca hoped Izuku would change others’ prejudice, when he himself was acting prejudiced against Izuku, was lost on the hero)
Their two tails swished back and forth while their ears flicked around, trying to detect any sounds of crime. Even with decent night vision, Bakeneko still preferred to rely on their sense of hearing to navigate Chiba when the sun set. Shadows had a way of warping, creating enemies that weren’t there, or hiding those who had grown used to the shade, especially in dimly lit alleyways.
It was for that reason that they had been able to pinpoint the sounds of someone following them, a difficult feat considering they were known for traveling via the skyline, before disappearing without a trace. In the end, they had almost ended up throwing a child off a roof.
Bakeneko was glad they had been able to stop at the last moment, the kid’s shout of surprise enough to make them hesitate, but seriously, parkour at night? In pursuit of a hero? It was suspicious in the best of lights, and the neon signs were dim around these areas.
Noticing a group huddled together near a back door, they jumped down a story, straining their ears to catch the tail end of the group’s conversation, as they thought back to the conversation they’d ended up having with the kid.
They’d said no to the kid’s question, since the answer was obvious to them, but it’d ended up being a more snapped response than they’d planned. It has been awkward. Both left standing on a rooftop, arms length apart from where they’d put him down, the kid still puffed from following them over rooftops and Bakeneko not knowing what to say next. This is why they had a good PR team. So they didn’t have to deal with the awkward silences that seemed to grow around them. The kid hadn’t exactly been smooth either, just stuttering out a ‘thank you’ and turning around to disappear over the rooftops they had both crossed only a few minutes prior.
They were brought back to the present situation with the movement of the small group, two members handing off a small box to the other three, looking suspicious enough about it that Bakeneko decided to follow the three as they departed. They technically did have a patrol route, but their position as the number 26 hero gave them a lot of leniency.
Even with three pairs of eyes keeping a lookout, they didn’t spot Bakeneko as they tailed them, their quirk helping them go unnoticed. It was a useful feature that set them apart from other similar cat-morph quirk heroes.
In fact, they knew plenty of heroes with non-physical quirks, or purely aesthetic mutative quirks. Sure, having a quirk would be a leg up compared to having none but...no quirk was perfect for every situation. Had they been wrong?
Was there a reason someone without a quirk couldn’t be a hero, besides not having a quirk?
Why was that the deal breaker?
He grumbled under his breath the whole way back to his agency, for once not just about the earful he’d be getting about ‘collateral damage’ as if that actually mattered. No, some kid had managed to figure out where his rampage path would lead, and had intercepted him at the end.
Marauder had taken one look at the small, gangly awkward kid and decided he was a write off.
And then he’d revealed he was fuckin' quirkless, a negative space in society. What the fuck, he wanted to be a hero with a condition like that? Absolutely disgusting. Spitting at his feet and moving on was a kind response for what scum like that actually deserved.
His head hurt. A lot. Damn if that hit didn’t hurt like a bitch, he mighta got a concussion from that.
God there was nothin’ worse than a long ranged villain, what with his close range matter manipulation quirk. And the coward had fuckin’ run for it after all that trouble, disappearin’ off the scene after managing to get one good hit in.
(After all, what else would cause a villain to leave mid attack? There were no other heroes nearby, only a few police who were busy keeping civilians safe.
He would find out later, once his head was clear and the villains in custody, that the third villain had been found knocked out cold with no evidence as to who or what did it.)
He tried blinking to clear his sight, but there was something in his eyes, making everything hazy. He was pretty sure there was someone in front of him, saying something, and they weren’t clearing up when he rubbed his eyes and their words were taking too long to process. Shit, definitely a concussion. But the scene wasn’t locked down yet, with the two villains only just going into custody and the third god knows where, so he couldn’t clock out yet.
“What was that?” He squinted at the figure (damn, it was small, a kid?) before the question finally made its way to his brain. “Yeah nah, I don’t think that’d work out.”
God his head hurt, he needed a paramedic, or at least a lie down after taking some pain killers. This is what he got for being a hero, and a pretty good one at that. Anyone without a quirk woulda been eaten alive, there’s no way they could take out villains.
He’d finally managed to pull the last of the victims out of the rubble, along with the help of a few other on-scene heroes to assist in shifting heavier pieces. After fights with such significant fallout, his clones were better put to use finding victims and freeing them if they could, but it did mean they tended to be weaker as their numbers increased. Due to the road being blocked by sections of fallen building materials, he’d had to leave a few clones around to assist with medical aid as well as searching, at least until more paramedics could make it to the scene.
Ectoplasm brushed some of the dust off himself, knowing it wouldn’t make much difference, before making his way back to where the heroes had begun gathering now that the main problems had been dealt with. Soon, construction and demolition workers would arrive to salvage what they could and remove what was left of the fallen building, and the victims would either be taken to hospital or cleared to go about their lives.
One victim had stood out to him this time. He couldn’t see him amongst those still gathered, but the boy who’d asked if a quirkless person (presumably himself) could be a hero had certainly gotten Ectoplasm’s attention. He’d been quite unusual; from what Ectoplasm could tell he’d been helping with other victims, but wasn’t with any form of recovery group (and he doubted that the boy had a medical training history based on his age).
When he’d asked if someone without a quirk could be a hero, Ectoplasm had shut him down. He was used to answering his student’s questions, dealing with absolute values in math classes, and life or death as a hero. This question had been no different. He pressured his students to do their best by not holding back. He lost his legs to the heroics lifestyle and knew others who had lost more. Immediately saying no to a kid’s hopeless dream may seem cruel to most, but it was better to put a stop to it now than wait for him to be hurt.
(Izuku had already been hurt, another rejection was just an addition to that particular hurt.)
He hoped at the very least he hadn’t been lying when he’d said he didn’t need medical attention. The boy had been helping other victims with a distant look on his face, and when he’d asked his question it was like second nature, rather than something of importance. Maybe it was for a friend, and the boy did have a quirk?
Either way, he’d stand by his answer. Without a quirk it’d be impossible to be a hero.
Lights Up was freaking out, just a little bit. Or a lot, maybe. He just watched someone fall a full story, which is totally survivable, but if you land wrong that hurts .
He ran over, quirk flaring to let him see the scene better. The kid was curled in a fetal position, clutching at his sides. Lights Up couldn’t see any red mixing with his green hair or pooling on the ground around him, so things were looking good.
“Hey kid, you alright?”
The kid looked up at him, squinting his green eyes against the light he was putting off.
“Hi.” It was breathless, and followed by a wince, but if he was following his words alright and looking around fine then no concussion, probably. Lights Up had never been the best at first aid, it wasn’t like it was his job or anything.
“Can someone without a quirk become a hero?”
The question stopped Lights Up in his tracks. Quirkless…?
He sneered down at the kid, dimming his quirk so he wouldn’t be wasting energy on this . “You should go get your head checked for worms. Quirkless people barely even exist anymore, there’s no way one could be a hero.”
And with that, he turned on his heel and left. That level of stupidity could fend for itself or get killed off. Preferably the second option.
Cementoss was having a long week. Students had been slacking off in history across the board, and there was only so much he could do to make the lessons more interesting. The students wanted to be in UA, and their grades were fine (they had to be, UA only accepted the top applicants), but there was no interest. If not for the competitive nature of the school, he was sure there would have been severe drops in quality. And just moments ago he’d had to tell a child that had looked close to passing out from exhaustion that he couldn’t be a hero. Regrettable, but if he’d been exhausted from a short run, there was no way he would be able to keep up with the trials of hero work.
He was lucky to have such a good, versatile quirk; he was well aware of the bias for powerful quirks in the industry, after all, he watched hundreds of applicants who could have been great heroes fail to get into UA each year because their quirks weren’t suited for the entrance exam. Which was why he’d told the boy no. Without the advantage of a quirk, he wouldn’t stand a chance against the competition of the hero course, in UA or other heroics oriented high schools. Sure there were other paths to professional heroics, but not many heroes accepted apprentices, and fewer would even consider a quirkless one. So it was better to let him down gently now, instead of letting him waste time on entrance exams that would reject him.
The weak, fevered looking kid was looking at him. Waiting for an answer. Spinning Top thought for a second, trying to come up with an answer, but when he opened his mouth he couldn’t help the laugh that came spilling out.
He tried to reign it in, think of anything to say, but just ended up laughing more. He couldn’t pull it together, so he decided it’d just be better to walk away, laughing the whole time. That should be a pretty clear enough answer anyway.
A quirkless hero? As if.
He’d overheard Mariko and one of the interns talking about a green quirkless kid, that a few heroes had encountered the same kid asking the same question, but he didn’t think it was real. Just some more gossip, another fan that happened to share the same attributes with a dozen other fans. His laughter had subsided, but he still let out a chuckle at the thought of the kid actually becoming a hero. What an idiot.
Taking a deep breath, Thirteen centered themself, trying to stay focused on the next task ahead of them. It had been a big, pretty terrible day and it wasn’t even past noon yet. And now, now there were rumours spreading throughout the relief workforce that the council and local heroes had been tipped off that the landslide was going to happen. Needless to say an investigation would be opened if the rumours had even a grain of truth in them, but that would have to wait until after the aftermath had been dealt with.
Honestly, what villain would tell people that they’re going to cause a natural disaster? It could only be a villain, after all, as a scientist or hero (who else would be able to predict natural disasters?) would have come forward more publicly.
But that wasn’t their problem to deal with. They lowered their radio, ready to set off in the direction of the next site that needed to be cleared, when a voice spoke up from behind them.
When they looked over their shoulder, it wasn’t one of the emergency workers that greeted them. Instead, it was a boy that was dressed like a civilian, but sporting a fairly heavy duty bag. Strange, they’d noticed him helping the emergency workers but he didn’t look like one of them.
“Hello, how can I help you?” They replied.
“I have a question, if you don’t mind me asking…?”
They quickly looked around them, and down at their radio. They were needed elsewhere, and asking for permission meant this was probably a personal question (they hoped it wasn’t for an autograph, they didn’t have any paper with them) rather than a question related to the current disaster. There wasn’t any time to waste in these situations but...they didn’t want to brush the kid off.
“Sure, just keep it short if you can, there’s still a lot to do here.”
“Can someone without a quirk become a hero?”
Can someone without a quirk be a- Did he mean quirkless? And what kind of hero? Probably a pro hero in all likelihood, but they weren’t sure, all kinds of professions and actions could be considered heroic. Was he referring to himself? They didn’t want to give an imprecise answer, so they decided their best option would be to ask for clarification. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”
“Oh.” He answered, an absent hand smearing more dust on his face instead of wiping it off like it was probably meant to. Thirteen was lucky their suit’s material didn’t allow dust, dirt and mud to cling to it, otherwise it’d have been stained a long time ago.
“Do you think a quirkless person could become a certified pro hero?”
So Thirteen had been right about the question’s intent. How to answer though...They thought of some of the students at UA, of the other heroes they had met on the field. “If they wanted to be a pro hero just for the fame and attention, probably not. For that you have to be marketable, and a big part of that is having a quirk to market. If they wanted to help people, however…” Thirteen paused, trying to judge the character of the boy in front of them. “Then they could help people the way you’re doing right now. Becoming part of emergency services, training to be a doctor, joining the police force, all these things help people, could give them the power to save people, without being a hero. So I guess no, I don’t think someone without a quirk can be a hero, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be helpful, or that you’ll save fewer people. Does that answer your question?”
The kid nodded, so Thirteen was satisfied that they hadn’t gone off topic this time, or begun rambling. But they only had a moment to feel that satisfaction before they switched their mindset, ready to get back to work. That being said...
“Are you alright? You look pretty tired.” They were a rescue hero, and looking out for others was a large part of their job.
The kid adjusted his backpack and shook his head. “There are still people that need help, I’ll be fine. Do you know where would be the best place to go next?”
Thirteen hesitated for a moment. He probably wasn’t as young as he looked. They wouldn’t let a child join the rescue efforts, right? Because that made the most sense - volunteers were often gathered to help with disasters, and with how widespread and recent this one had been it made sense he hadn’t been given any identifying gear yet. It wasn’t strictly protocol, but they knew that when lives were on the line protocols could be…shifted. And if he was looking to help more people, then he needed to head east, where a concentration of hikers usually appeared, so they directed him that way.
“Thanks.” He bowed to Thirteen, before moving on without looking back.
Thirteen watched him go briefly, before starting their walk further up the mountain; there were more people to be saved after all.
The taller lady leaned heavily against Kesagiriman, her arm wrapped around his shoulders awkwardly. No wonder the kid had given her over to him without much of a fight, he had been so short that taking her weight would have been awkward even without the uneven terrain. He could pick over it without an issue, but the lady was really struggling; he was worried she might have a head wound. If so, that meant he just had to get her to the medics faster.
Once that was done, he’d be able to use his speed to scan the mountain for survivors. If what that kid had said was right, most of the people left were individuals or small groups (or buried too far under the rubble to be saved, but that grim reality was not something he needed to voice. All the rescue personnel knew this).
"Hey.” The short one spoke up from where she followed closely behind them.
“Why’d you tell that kid that quirkless people can’t be heroes?”
A good question. “Heroics is a job with high competition, and incredibly difficult even once you achieve the position of a professional hero. It demands too much for someone without a quirk to keep up with.”
“But...he helped us.” He looked over then, hearing the tears on her voice, but luckily none were falling yet. “He was so level headed the whole time, he was carrying pretty much all of Satsuki’s weight even though his own legs were scraped up, I even pointed that out and he said he’d have medics check it over later but Satsuki was more important than some scrapes.” She sniffed. “I'm pretty sure he was lying, he just started walking back up the mountain when you showed up, do you think he’ll be okay?” She was looking at him with far too much hope, as if he knew the inner workings of a quirkless kid’s mind.
He thought back to the encounter. Yes he’d made the right call in taking the taller woman, Satsuki apparently, but maybe he should have insisted that the boy come with them. There was nothing he could do about it now though, so he focused on his current job.
“I’m sure he’ll be alright, he didn’t seem like he was ready to give up.” And as Kesagiriman said that, he had the distinct impression that that applied to more than just rescuing people from the landslide. Why did he say no, if he thought the kid was going to keep going anyway? He’d have to think about it later, when everyone was safe.
They were making their way back up the mountain (or what was left of it), where a base of operations had been set up. The cell tower that had been on the mountain had been taken with the rest of the landslide, and technicians were up there now doing their best to set up a temporary network so those still in danger could reach out, and loved ones could get in touch with each other. Radios and personal comms were still fine, but most civilians that were caught up in this disaster wouldn’t have those on hand.
“Do you think we should have said something else to that boy?” Ragdoll couldn’t help but remember the way he’d said that others still needed help, even though he’d been helping the others at the shrine all day.
Pixiebob thought about it for a second, hopping over a series of broken trees as if it were nothing, before shaking her head. “That kitten means well I’m sure, but he needs to face reality, even if it is a bit harsh.”
Ragdoll hummed. It made sense. Mandalay probably would’ve tried to encourage the kid, even though she knew the best out of all of them that reality could be harsh and cruel (Kouta still didn’t talk to Ragdoll, but that was okay, he could take all the time he wanted). Pixiebob was also usually the type to cheer people on, but she also had a powerful quirk and power recognised power. Her own quirk was useful, but not exactly physical, so she knew a bit better that quirks weren’t the be all end all to heroics.
“Maybe we should have gotten a name?”
“We didn’t get a name from anyone else from that shrine group.” Pixiebob turned back to look at her. “Is this really bothering you?”
She pulled herself over a boulder, skipping along the new path the landslide had created. “I guess he was just doing his best to help others, so I feel bad for putting him down. Maybe we should have mentioned something like becoming a doctor.”
“Maybe.” Pixiebob shrugged. “We can’t do anything about it now though.” She turned and extended a hand to Ragdoll, helping her get over a granite ledge (even though she didn’t really need the help, they were teammates, and they would always support each other). “We’re almost back at the base anyway, and I doubt they’ll give us more than a second to grab a sip of water before they’re telling us where to go next.
Ragdoll kept her hold on Pixiebob’s hand, leaning heavily on her while pouting. “I wish Tiger was here, he would carry me for sure.”
“Hey, no complaining!” It was impossible to break Ragdoll’s grip without hurting her, so Pixiebob just rolled her eyes after several useless attempts to stop her latching on. Ragdoll smiled and poked her tongue out at her teammate, before racing her the final stretch to the base. Sure it was a bit childish, but it was moments like these that stopped them from getting too caught up in the repetitive, depressing parts of their job.
“Oh dear, here’s some water.” It was admirable that the examinees pushed themselves so hard, but sometimes she wished the exam was a bit less harsh so there wouldn’t be so many injuries, or in this case, symptoms of quirk overuse. She handed the girl the water bottle while giving her a quick look over for any injuries.
“Thanks.” The girl croaked out, accepting the bottle.
The boy beside her was also not in the best shape, a bruise already growing on one side of his face and blood covering the palms of his hands. “You look a little worse for wear.”
He let out a huff of laughter, the tone of which set off Recovery Girl’s instincts, because that was the ‘whoops, I’ve injured myself horribly, can you please fix it’ laugh. She’d worked with enough reckless hotshots throughout the years to recognise it in her sleep, but it did surprise her to hear it from someone so young, and so quietly.
“I’ll be alright, but could I ask you something?” She stayed silent, waiting for him to continue (these young hero types were often so brash and outspoken, she hadn’t expected there to actually be a gap of silence for her to agree or disagree). “Can someone without a quirk become a hero?”
Oh, another hero hopeful, he must not be sure if he got enough points. She couldn’t exactly tell him yes, that would be counterproductive if he took her word for it and then didn’t get admitted. But saying no straight after putting so much effort in could also be saddening for him. Even if it was likely if he’d been completing the exam quirkless. Aizawa had been speaking up against the bias of the exam for years, and hadn’t been able to pass it himself, instead getting in through the sports festival in his first year.
So, knowing that he probably didn’t pass but seemed to have tried his best, she settled for something a bit vague. “Well, it’s very difficult to be a hero, dear.”
He seemed to accept that so she moved on to more pressing matters. “Let's heal you up, then you can think about heroics.” She planted a kiss on his forehead, it should have been enough to close up all the scrapes he had and heal his bruises.
And then he collapsed.
Now, Recovery Girl was a professional, and didn’t fully use her quirk unless she knew how much damage it’d be healing, and if that person’s body would have the energy to heal those injuries. She’d thought this level would be fine since it was just meant to deal with bruises and scrapes.
“What happened? Is he alright?” The girl’s voice was hoarse, and filled with concern.
Recovery Girl raised a placating hand to the girl. “He’ll be alright, he was just too tired so my quirk made him pass out.”
She gestured some of the assistance robots over, and they loaded the kid onto a stretcher before heading towards the infirmary. She would be able to keep an eye on him until he woke up once she was finished treating all the other examinees.
If he’d worked himself to exhaustion, and taken more than surface injuries, then maybe his chances of getting in were higher. So many examinees gave up when they realised they weren’t suited for the exam’s trials, but if he fought hard then maybe he could have gotten enough points.
She doubted it though.
He knew there would probably be an emotional response when he replied to the kid, but he wasn’t expecting this. He ran his hand up and down his student’s back as he continued to sob, trying to calm him down. Occasionally he added in a reminder to breathe, but he wasn’t sure if that was getting through. They’d been like this for the past...five minutes? Eraserhead wasn’t sure how much time had actually passed, but it felt like forever.
What the hell had Midoriya done, been through, to completely break down at someone telling him that ‘if you keep working hard then of course you can be a hero’?
After a few more minutes the kid’s sobs finally started to calm down, becoming interspersed with random muttered words and phrases, which eventually grew to a steady ramble, only interrupted by a few hiccups and sniffles. The tears hadn’t stopped yet though.
“Oh god.” Eraserhead watched as Midoriya’s face morphed into a look of panic. “Oh god I'm such a fucking idiot everyone was right, sure I can become a hero but I’m so behind. I don’t even, I don’t even have any training , what do I even do next? I can’t, I don’t know how to do anything.”
Whatever he said next was lost to Eraserhead as his frantic rambles grew quieter and faster, but it probably wouldn’t have processed for him even if they had stayed clear. He stared at the kid, who got the second highest score on the UA entrance exam, as he panicked about not having any skills or training.
Eraserhead had thought that maybe he didn’t realise he was already on the path to becoming a hero, but now …
“Midoriya.” He waited for a sign that the kid had heard him, repeating his name until he looked up from the curled position he’d pulled himself into.
“You realise you’re in UA’s hero course right?”
It was almost worth seeing the kid in his sobbing state for the expression he made at that. His green eyes went huge, and his mouth opened and closed a few times before he managed to let out a choked, “What.”
“You came second on the entrance exam.” Still seeing the incredulous expression on his student’s face, he continued. “The heroics course entrance exam. How did you not realise?”
He watched as what he said sank in.
“ What.” The disbelief was still there, but now it was joined by understanding. “You’re right. You’re right and I didn’t. This was. This was the only way I could figure out to ask you.”
Eraserhead’s brows furrowed. “What do you mean?”
Midoriya looked like a deer in headlights at his question. Frozen aside from the occasional sniffle. Eraserhead waited, knowing that he was probably still scrambling to get his thoughts in order; his patience paid off when the kid let out a shaky breath, and began explaining.
“I needed to ask you. If you thought someone without a quirk could be a hero. But you’re impossible to track down even though you mostly work within Musutafu. No set patrol routes, no agency, underground so a lot of your details are kept hidden, no online presence, barely any presence at all really. Even dedicated underground heroics forums only had the bare basics on you.” He rubbed at his face, trying to brush away some of the tears that still gathered at his eyes. “I tried finding you by just...wandering around at night, since that’s when you patrol, but that’s all chance based and my luck isn’t very good. There wasn’t even enough information on you to find a pattern on where you appeared. But I finally managed to find out you teach at UA, and it’s not like I can break in, so the best option was to become a student.”
That was...not what Eraserhead was expecting. Midoriya had been specifically looking for him, and figured the best way to do that was by getting into UA, a feat in itself. “How long have you been planning this?”
“Well, I guess I did get lucky for that one. Entrance exams were over a week away when I found out you taught here.”
It was said so casually, as if it was lucky that he’d only had a week to prep for the most prestigious school in the country. That was something Eraserhead would have to unpack later. The level of effort he’d put into tracking down one hero begged a different question:
“How many heroes have you tracked down for this?”
The kid sniffled once, before his tears were back in full force. It wasn’t the gut-wrenching sobs of before, but he was still non-verbal again. That at least gave Eraserhead an indication that it’d been more than a couple of heroes.
“None of them said you could be a hero?”
Midoriya shook his head. “You’re the only person who’s ever said I can be a hero.” The statement was quiet, broken by slight hitches in his voice.
His reaction made a bit more sense now. If he’d asked several heroes (though a nagging thought told him it was more than just several) and they’d all denied him, of course he’d be emotional when someone believed in him. He sighed. “Heroics is a pretty tough industry, you have to understand that’s why they would’ve said no.”
Midoriya shook his head again, more ferociously this time. In contrast, his voice was near inaudible now. “You don’t understand. You’re the only person who has ever said I could be a hero.”
No wonder he’d looked so tired and resigned when he’d asked his question. Eraserhead knew this would be a headache and a half to deal with, but he was determined to find out just what had happened to this kid. If he could get this far without aiming for heroics, he almost feared what he could do when he actually put his mind to it.
Midoriya would become a hero, regardless of those he had asked.