Living with chronic pain since the day he took on the greatest hero’s quirk, it should have been nothing to him. It really shouldn’t have been nothing to him. He’s felt cramps, bruises, burns, torn scars, hairline fractures, broken bones; he’s been woken up in the middle of the night with a white hot line pain that slices the entire left of his body, he’s kept walking and fighting and screaming despite being battered and bruised, this should’ve been nothing to him.
It starts with a sensation. Something just below his skin. Nervous. Something made him nervous. Something in him was nervous. A phantom, lingering feeling in his palms: fear, pain, burning. Fear that intensifies when he touches something; phantom pain that spreads in every inch of skin, from his palms to the face of his elbows, that touches something; burning hot in his cheeks and beneath his eye.
Pain should’ve been nothing to him.
And it was.
But the buzzing was consistent and persistent. Quiet and persistent. It’s the slight discomfort that puts an uncontrollable twitch or frown on his face as he puts his elbows on the table. It’s the mild rub of his sleeve against his wrist that makes him hiss just a little. It’s the tingling that drives him mad. It’s the pulsing hum on every phantom end of his nerves that makes him drop everything that he’s holding.
It’s the inconvenience that pesters him.
He wipes his hands on the side of his pants, the presence of sweat on his invisible wounds stinging. He doesn’t know what to do. Nothing works. He’s developed an aversion to water, or anything that can be wet, for some reason being around those creates actual pain. Like being scraped by rough, sharp ice, or brushed with a metal sponge or a brush of needles.
It drives him mad. Irritable, when he tries his darndest to hide it.
Then, there’s the damned itch.
Crawling from his palms, twisting and curling like vines, up and up — up his forearms, up his arms to his shoulder. Something blooms in his chest, and up and up to his neck.
It’s so damn itchy. There was no way to ignore it. It rebels, not unlike fighting a buoyant force or an object destined to float up. He pushes it down, down his stomach, down deep inside him, but when his controls slips — like hands slipping past a bubble of air, like hands slipping past a buoy pushed down meters deep down underwater — it rockets up, fast, breaking the surface and going beyond. There’s an explosion, and he drowns and suffocates in the sensation.
It’s so damn itchy.
Soon, he couldn’t handle it. Absentmindedly, his hands would always make his way to his wrists or his neck, and the scratching begins. Like his body had enough of him resisting, and taken to itself to relieve the pressure. It never was like Shigaraki’s —not to the point of wounding him or bleeding at all, he had half the mind to make sure of it — but still.
Nothing Recovery Girl could give him took it away. He tried gloves, at least the fabric would prevent him from hurting himself at all, but his hands and body ached with the extra layer on his skin.
It was a heinous week.
Then one day, it became too much. He woke up late that morning, courtesy of pain and lack of sleep for the days prior, feeling absolutely hot and horrid. The tandem of his chronic pain and this new one placed him in the most terrible of moods. There, still lying unmoving on his bed and staring at the ceiling, he half-debated going to class, or just sleeping the entire day off.
Iida was nagging (excuse his change of vocabulary, he really could not give a damn right now) out his room door, and Izuku couldn’t quite find it in himself to answer at all. He groans, as he flips on the bed, burying his head into his pillow which caves in on him. His pillow was very warm. His bed was very, very , warm.
Suddenly Iida quiets.
Has he left?
Apparently his pained groan carried even beyond his door, because Iida asks about his well-being.
No, he was not being well at all. Despite it being very hot, like being in the Sahara in the summer with a heat wave, he hides himself under the covers, delighted at the contrast of his cold blanket on his skin and the hot air around him.
Iida is still there.
He growls and carefully considers his next words instead of snapping.
“No, Iida- kun ,” he drawled in a low voice that surprised even him, the honorific stressed in a way it sounded the furthest possible from respectful, “I’m not going today.” He did in fact, not carefully consider his words long enough. He relishes in the mild suffocation of having his face planted on his pillow, but mildly irked in Iida’s persistence at the door.
A few moments of silence pass. Then Iida hushes soft and low, “Okay, I’ll tell Aizawa-sensei you’re sick for the day,” there’s a pause, “Go down to Recovery Girl or the infirmary if it gets worse, alright? I hope you feel better soon, Midoriya-kun.”
A non-committal grunt.
He feels Iida’s presence push further and further away, finally leaving him alone. He thinks he hears Uraraka and a few others chirping in the hallway to greet Iida, and gosh, he hopes that they aren’t talking about him.
He wasn’t feeling that bad really (a big fat lie, but he was so used to it that it became the truth), just pain and heat throughout his body that he was sure wasn’t real. He slaps a hand on his forehead, far too groggy to be gentle to himself, only to feel that he was in fact, not having a fever. The sensations were all in his brain, as they usually were, but damn did he feel like a mess.
The center of palms itch again. And his hands break into mild spasm.
There’s something nagging at him from the back of his neck and head, not painful pounding and feeling like a push from the back. It feels like someone was hammering something from the other side of the wall with his head against it, or someone from the other room playing a horror game with the bass boosted 300x up. He wants to do something, no, he was feeling really lethargic. He wants to eat something, no, he didn’t feel hungry at all. He wants something .
Water. That’s a good start, maybe. His throat is parched and his mouth dry. Water’s a good start. Maybe he’ll liven up with a drink of cool, cool, refreshing water.
He sighs, a deep, drawn out sigh that leaves him breathless for a good 5 seconds. He flips over again, gasping for air. Right. He blinks his blurry eyes owlishly, trying adjust to the sudden change of brightness. He tries to rub his eyes, a very bad idea when you’ve contracted Shigaraki’s scratchy-scratch disease, and looks around room to try and spot a glimmer of light that would pertain to a water source. Alas, luck was feeling lucky today and went on vacation at a casino.
Suffering and scratching his wrists (the closest to his palms he could scratch that didn’t leave him on the floor crying) madly, he stood up from his bed like the reanimated dead and the hair of the damned. Nobody would be around since his classmates has or will be having class by now. Barefoot, he trudges down the stairs, past the common room and straight for the pantry.
The cool feeling of glass in his hands is comforting, but not enough to lift his spirit. He pours himself a cup of water, downing it like a life-saving liquid. It tasted bland and horrible in his mouth, like water should be, but some of his other senses returned to him.
He heads for the couch, and drapes an arm over his eyes. Hot. Everything felt hot. His eyes, his arm, his chest, his hands. Everything hurt in another layer of reality. His hands are shaking. Even with his eyes closed, he feels the world vaguely swirl around him.
He drifted off. In a limbo, tethered to vague consciousness by the same sensation that made him abandon it in the first place. At least here, in the dark, well… there’s not much difference is there?
He feels himself transported into the memory world once more, the black cloud shrouds him again, this time, both hands up to his elbows are free, but his mouth is still absent. Still no luck in talking back to the vestiges. He smothers the mild disappointment.
He looks around the space, expecting the ever-red sky, the ever-black clouds, the ever-dark world and… there was nobody else there. There is no trace of the vestiges’ presence. There are no silhouettes, no memory nightmare playing, no wrecked cityscape, nothing . No sound, no light.
Nothing else but him.
Where are the vestiges?
He tries to feel for them, reaching into the black abyss with his hands, hoping to find another hand to grab on to in its inky depths. Like searching through cloudy, muddy waters of a pond, like wading on your knees in knee deep waters, splashing sediments around feeling for a foreign object lodged between the sharp rocks and pebbles. The mess of the void slips and slides through his fingers, like playing with blood plasma, he pushes through, straining forwards for a better glimpse — a hand intertwines with his finally .
A surge of comfort, flows within him. Like a strong, sudden sea breeze blowing to his face. A surge of strength.
A split-second of admiration. Then it implodes. Pain shoots up from his palms straight into his head and chest. He jolts out of his reverie, electrified by a mysterious power — there is pricking, stabbing needles in every inch of his skin. It hurts so bad. He looks at his hands which felt like they’d been brushed by needles, to find them shaking and contracting and spasming wildly , in strange contorted figures he knew couldn’t be quite possible. His eyes were blurring and out of focus from the pain. He felt his face flush, the area beneath his eyes burn .
Heart pounding in his chest like a jackhammer, sending pulsating waves and rings of unease throughout his body.
It was hot, the air felt dank, like a closed, stuffy room in peak of high summer. There were swirls in his vision, and he felt dread grow stronger and stronger in the pit of his stomach. He gasps for breath with every heavy step, he clings to the railings that ring with how tight he’d gripped them, his sweat stings his eyes.
There was a raging, splitting ache in his head, and his hands lunged for something in front of him. Any touch to ground him. Any touch to ground him. The stumbles, and inch away from blind, crashing into the floor and ground.
Recovery Girl’s office shouldn’t be too far now. He should be close now.
He couldn’t bother with the pleasantries as he slams the door wide open, he couldn’t hear her response to such disrespectful act over him barely swimming in consciousness. He was in so much pain. He registers an ice cold hand on his forehead, and he involuntarily shoves closer to the touch, starving for the contact.
“’d you- ‘o?”
“’idor’a! – hear ‘e?”
He slams his eyes shut. He ushers him somewhere, a bed, and he sinks in the material. His back gives way and he falls on the bed and pillow hard.
“’all- -zawa! ‘nori – here!”
It’s too hot.
“Mid’a! -N’d spi’al?!”
It’s too hot.
It’s so dark.
The world is spinning, he felt like he was being sucked and spun around in a whirlpool. His consciousness sunk deeper like in a quicksand. Someone, please make it stop.
Something digs into the back of his head, and he feels something rip and yank his consciousness out of him. They drag him deep into the black, abysmal memory world again. He shakes, violently fighting against somethings’ restrictive grip on his arms, he fights and tugs at their hold, but gravity was on somethings’ side, not his, and it felt a thousand times heavier.
He felt like he was at the bottom of the ocean, with all the weight of the waters of the world pressing down on him, pushing the air out of his lungs. Something warm and hard is holding him, pleading. He doesn’t know how he knew they were pleading, he just knew.
Then he feels it.
Something else is calling him.
Something else is cracking. Breaking .
It’s caged and trapped and suffering and lonely and lost—
Where is it?
He feels the vestiges shake and tremble — where are they? The grip on his arms and neck tightens, he could almost feel nails digging into his skin and flesh and drawing blood. But something else is shaking, fighting, crying for help. He couldn’t think of anything else. There’s longing, missing, that mixes in his pain-muddled mind. Where are you where are you where are you—
It feels cold — Izuku feels cold, chilled, terrified. He feels its will tremble like a fragile leaf, where is it? The “what” never crosses his mind, it needs help, it needs him, it’s calling out a name — in a language no human mind or tongue could speak but Izuku knows is his.
The ground rumbles, he wants to take a step but couldn’t -- the ground desperately clings to the soles of his feet, he feels its core pull him down. But someone needs him -- and he needs them back. Why is it holding him back? Holding him back from it ? Why do they tell him he doesn’t need it ? They tell him he needs to stop. Need need need— Why was it always “need” ? The ocean drops down at him.
He drowns in the greenish-black water, one arm flailing hopelessly up towards the sky. He couldn’t make a sound. There was nothing there to carry his sounds.
Need. He always needs to stop. Stop dreaming, stop hoping, stop crying, stop running, stop writing, stop fighting, stop breaking himself—
Needs to save someone, needs to keep fighting and pushing forward, needs to not disappoint, need to not worry his mom, need to get good grades to not be forgotten, need to help, need to be selfless, need to placate and not escalate, needs to keep smiling till he doesn’t, always needs to save someone, always needs a need to fuel everything—
His life has always been about the needs and just one want. And this world, they tell him he needs to drown. Everything else disappears when he’s drowning, when he’s hurting. And Izuku… wants.
The sky gives way, into a stormy reflection of the black water -- the void, the warm and cool void -- it somehow ripples in his touch, ripping the image. His image. Please. Please please please— The veil was so thin, he feels it rip and struggle under his fingers, if they would just let him and not hurt him— they always hurt him, they break his bones and shatter his arms— The greenish-black water he was drowning in sprouts whips, then vague digits and figures and that bind his arms and fingers, pulling deeper and away from the sky . From the surface . From the image. From— from—
The hand that threw him into pain.
The hand that needs him.
He wants to reach for it.
He wants and he wants—
And isn’t that enough?
He reaches for it.
“I’m here, my boy, I’m here.”
A hand holding his tightens. It’s thin, and lanky. It’s big, rough, and warm. It’s comforting. Everything’s cloudy, but All Might’s hand… it’s the only thing that makes sense. And after the long struggle with pain, his mentor’s touch gave him serenity.
His eyelids don’t have the strength to open just yet – even as they trembled, but his eyes fly around in a vain attempt to find his mentor’s voice.
The grip tightens reassuringly. “All Might,” he breathes, “All Might.”
For once the air is clear and unimposing. He registers that the fabric material against his skin isn’t the same as his cotton shirt. It was thinner, lighter, sturdier. A gown. The thought alarms him, and he sits upwards, eyes snapping wide open. He regrets it when the room lights momentarily blind him, letting a hiss slip from his mouth. Shielding his pained eyes he looks around.
Recovery Girl clacking away on her computer, undoubtedly doing her paperwork. She notices the hiss, and immediately hops toward him. Before he could say anything she’s grabbed the nearest thermometer and shoved it between his lips, face all scrunched up in worry.
Izuku says nothing, still stunned into silence.
What was he doing in the infirmary?
Recovery Girl’s frown deepens further as she takes back the thermometer. Her eyebrows furrow as she lept for and grabbed his ear, then placed a hand on his forehead. The hand is warm and soft, Izuku almost preens at the touch. She withdraws her hand, looking more disappointed. Izuku almost sinks in shame, if he knew what he was here for.
“That’s strange,” She remarks, searching her coat’s pocket for something.
He blinks, “What is?” Then stops, eyes wide, and places a hand on his throat. He shakes his head.
“Your fever’s gone.” She answers quickly, retrieving a penlight. She shines it on his eyes for reasons Izuku is utterly clueless about. He winces. Wasn’t that good?
“Is… Isn’t that good?”
“Your temperature just dropped instantaneously.” She narrows her eye, something he wasn’t aware she could do. “How are you feeling?”
He blinks again. “Uh…”
“Does anything hurt? Any discomfort?”
He takes a moment to feel anything unusual, and asks himself why he should feel uncomfortable. “No…?”
“Do you feel tired?”
“Uh… just a tiny bit?”
“Your hands, how are they?” Izuku spares them a glance, they were covered in bandages but he tests them out, flexing his fingers. They were still there, still moving as they should. The weird bone still slides wrong as it always did, the joints still round smooth, and all fingers bend perfectly as they used to. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then realization strikes him. They don’t hurt anymore. Nothing hurts anymore. They made a cracking noise the first time, which made him grimace a bit, but… nothing hurts. It floods him with relief but…
Recovery Girl looks at him worriedly and expectantly. He hasn’t answered yet.
“It feels fine… They don’t hurt anymore…” The itch has receded into an insignificant, tiny line on the center and the heel of his palm, but nothing like it used to be. It was just there, sitting there, dormant. He narrows his eyes, and proceeds to tear the bandages off.
A black mark, dead center, and a line running down his wrist and the inside of his palm, right where the last hand saved him.
“Midoriya-dearie, what’s wrong?” Recovery Girl asks. She follows his eyes which are still fixed on his hands. “What’s wrong?” He looks at her with a strange look in his eyes. Doesn’t she see it?
“They were bleeding, I did basic first aid.”
He doesn’t respond.
“Midoriya-dearie?” She reaches for his hands tentatively, carefully pulling him closer. Izuku studies her expression. She doesn’t see it.
He looks down at his palms, but the mark was gone. He blinked and it was gone.
“Dearie?” She asks.
He pulls his hand close instinctively.
“Nothing’s wrong. I just thought…” He bites his lip, eyes uneasy. What was that? He shakes his head clear of the thought, focusing on more real matters. He looks around the room.
“Toshinori-kun was here the whole time, he was worried. I made him step out a bit for some air.”
As if on cue, All Might enters, eyes and brows droopy and pained, lips halfway between pressed thin and openly grimaced. He’s seen the expression many, many times, each time worse than the last. The moment he lays eyes on Izuku, he swears the man always looks like he’s seen a miracle. Lost eyes refocus, lips tremble as a dam of gratefulness and relief and worry and emotions spill from his mouth. Izuku bites down the shame rising in him.
“H-hey All Might…” Is all he could say with a sheepish smile, he fiddles with his fingers nervously. All Might sits right next to him, faced fully.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine…” All Might doesn’t look convinced, he’s used this line too many times. “I’m fine really. I feel great actually. Nothing hurts and Recovery Girl says I don’t have a fever anymore. I didn’t even know I had a fever, I mean it makes sense cause I felt terrible, earlier, that is, but I’m okay now.”
Toshinori frowns at something, was it something I said? But before Izuku could dwell on what troubled the man, his mentor shook his head and sighed, in what was hopefully relief.
“You gave me and everyone a scare. You had an intense fever, we almost brought you to a hospital had you not calmed quick enough…” The memory obviously haunted All Might, the fright wasn’t fully erased from his face.
“What happened?” He asked bluntly. A horrible morning and sudden pain was all he could remember.
Both adults looked alarmed, All Might haunted. He felt the need to clarify. “I don’t even remember how I got here… It’s really fuzzy.” He openly grimaces.
Toshinori looks over to Recovery Girl for guidance, and for an explanation. She was the only other one who knew what went on. She set on her chair and leaned on her table for the strength to say her next words.
“You came here on your own, half-conscious… unresponsive, even. Cold sweat and a 40.3°C fever. The muscles in your arms were all contracting, and you basically had been seizing standing upright.” Her face looked regretful as she carefully looked him in the eye. “I had to restrain you.”
He stays silent for a second. “What else?” It was alarming, yes, but what else happened?
He mustn’t have had the reaction they were expecting.
He looked thoughtful. Curious.
“You went full-on unresponsive sometime later. All your vital signs suddenly dropped as well. You had… large wounds all over your arms and hands, I didn’t use my quirk on you the entire time because it was too high-risk. I didn’t want to crash your system,” he nods along, “do you remember anything that might have caused them?”
He shakes his head, eyes still faced forward. “I don’t remember anything of the sort,”
“They kept bleeding, I did the best I could. It stopped on its own, thankfully. Your quirk was activated the whole time, it thrashed the room quite a bit.” She keeps her voice level, professional.
“One for All was activated the whole time?”
She looked pensive. “Yes, we’ve called down Aizawa-kun to keep it under control,” there’s a stutter in the middle.
There it was again, the thoughtful expression. And to their surprise he hums.
Izuku looks at him. Izuku offers an eased smile, “Don’t worry All Might, I’m fine now.”
He returns to class the next day. A miraculous recovery. Recovery Girl had nothing to hold him for, after all, all of his vital signs were perfectly normal and all his tests returned that he was healthier than ever. She did warn him of overexerting himself, and well, as much as Izuku wanted to make no promise he could very easily break, he knew that pulling any kind of stunt in the following 24 hours would give him hell. All Might was there throughout the day, spying and tailing him wherever he went. He wonders why they hadn't sent him to the hospital in that state? Had they brought him back? How much trust did they have on Recovery Girl's quirk?
He let out a long, suffering sigh. The black marks on his hands never appeared again since he was in Recovery Girl’s office, but Izuku felt a thrum of power under his skin that he had never felt before. It felt like One for All but not, coursing through his veins all the time. It didn’t give him fear like One for All did when activated, maybe because the sensation hasn’t given him any broken bones, in fact, it was calming. It’s presence was reassuring, empowering even. And when he listens to its tune… there’s a rush of adrenaline that twists his lips into a smile.
“Hey Deku-kun!” Uraraka waves from a good feet away by the classroom’s entrance, and Iida is there right by her side also sporting a good-natured smile.
“Good morning, Midoriya-kun!” Iida greets.
He returns the smile. “Good morning, Uraraka-san, Iida-kun,”
Uraraka’s eyes bulge from its sockets, and her hand freezes in the air. “Ooh! Something’s different with you today!” She exclaims, retracting her hand. Her smile never fades from her face. Iida looks on in surprise.
“Yeah, something’s different with you today, I can feel it!” Izuku smiles in amusement. She’s always so excited about trivial things.
“Well, class is about to start, we should head in now.” He slides past them, ignoring Iida’s concerned look. He settles in, he hooks his bag to the side of his desk and pulls out his notes for the day. He gives his analysis notebook a longing glance but leaves it for now. Instead, he looks around the room, watching all of his classmates interactions with renewed and growing interest. His eyes latch on to Kaminari, who was showing off how thin he could make the lines of electricity between his fingers. High voltage should’ve been required to make that jump, but as usual, quirks throw every law known to man out of the window. Satou downs his first sugar packet of the day, and Izuku could almost feel the guy’s energy boost from across the room. Jirou was humming along to the music on her phone, half-listening to the conversations around her. And Mina has just slapped Mineta with a handful of acid.
He closes his eyes, taking in his environment, and enjoys the ease on his shoulders.
“Midoriya-kun,” Izuku cracks one eye open. Iida stands to his side with his usual stern look. “Are you feeling alright now?”
Izuku flashes a grin. “Yeah, Recovery Girl cleared me. She said I’m fully recovered.”
Iida’s expression softens, but the frown remains. “I see. That’s good to hear. It’s good to have you back. I’ll have notes and work you’ve missed yesterday ready by tonight. With that, he turns to leave.
Izuku readjusts his cuffs, a smirk working its way to his face.
He walks out of the dressing room with far more confidence than he usually felt. He feels settled, and excited. There’s something refreshing about the thrumming, he listens to it like how one listens to their favorite music. Lo-fi, or something of the sort, the beat is confident, precise, unique.
He walks into the gym with a grin.
All his classmates were readying themselves: stretching, jumping…
There’s cracking in the air as Kirishima plays around with activating his quirk, in the distance a harvester plucks adhesive grapes from a human-shaped vine, Yaomomo downing a few calories beforehand, whispering as Tokoyami coaxes Dark Shadow, and faint yet sweet, sweet smell of caramel from Kacchan as he passes by. The symphony he feels is marvelous .
Everyone can feel the change. The difference in the air. There’s a chilling breeze in where he walks. There’s something in how he walks, there’s something in how he talks. There’s a difference in his stance, a difference in his glance.
The way he enters the room, the way he carries himself and strides forward, the way he stands with weight shifted on one leg, the way his hands are stuffed in his pockets, the way his back is straight and not slouched, the way his shoulders are loose and his face looks calm…
The way he surveys the room with a sharp, calculating gaze…
Something happened yesterday.
“Midoriya, you’re with Bakugou.”
The two enter the ring drawn roughly on the ground. 15 meters in radius, lots were drawn and fate decided the match. Bakugou entered the ring first, clicking his tongue in annoyance and grumbling all the way. He plants a firm stomp on the ground, and glares his invitation to Midoriya. Midoriya only raised his brows, looking amused for a second, then walked with extreme calm into the ring. Like he hadn’t just been paired with Bakugou . He doesn’t hesitate at all, he just looks determinedly at Bakugou, and it isn’t until the countdown starts that his lips curl into a smile.
“3, 2, 1—”
Bakugou blasts towards Midoriya. Midoriya sidesteps him. Bakugou, the most agile of the class, switches directions mid-air. He hooks himself into Midoriya’s arm, and blasts them both into the ground. Midoriya grunts at the impact on his shoulder, but recovers quickly. Gran Torino had given him far too many beatings to not recover quickly. He kicks Bakugou off in the stomach, rolling into a stance. Bakugou charges at him, but Midoriya weaves – and uses his enemy’s momentum against them. He grabs Bakugou’s arm and spins with him, slamming the blond hard onto the floor.
The match was time-based. No objectives. No limits. Keep fighting until the time is done, and the winner is the one who has incapacitated the other when the timer hits zero. It provided a lot of opportunities for the battle to turn its tides, a lot of opportunities for the upper hands to switch. The one pinned on the ground could be the winner, the one who gets beaten up, incapacitated but manages to stand at the very last second could win a draw, the one who defeats the other but loses control at the very last second could be the loser.
Objective of the game?
Survive till help arrives.
Bakugou was brash in combat, utterly ruthless, relentless. He thrives through pure combat ability. Calculated explosions left and right, up and down. He corners Midoriya with his blasts, blocking off all exits so Midoriya has no choice but to receive the brunt of the explosion. And in the split second Midoriya is stunned, he goes in for the kill. He closes the 15 meter gap in mere fractions of a second, shockwaves making even the reinforced glass scream in fear, and attacks.
A stream of explosions and a huge, hot ball of ignited nitroglycerine that licks even the ceiling with its flames; a thick wall of fire and heat that carves even mountains. Bakugou was in the air, one hand propelling himself, and the other…
His hand reaches towards Midoriya.
Izuku hasn’t used his quirk. He hasn’t played any offense, mostly just deflections or turning Kacchan’s attacks against him. He’s playing the game of Endurance, like how it is supposed to be played. He knows it for himself. He grits his teeth as he recovers from the blast, he’s up on his feet in no time, eyes zeroed in on Kacchan, watching every move, every ruffle of the clothing, every pulling of muscle, every tick and every twitch. Every tell.
He takes a breath, preparing himself for another round of dodging. Training with All Might included hellish long runs and sprints which built up his endurance. He can keep on running. But he can’t keep on running forever. Kacchan was a combat genius that thrives in actual brawls, but he wasn’t incapable of strategy. He wasn’t a top scorer for nothing. If Kacchan can’t hit him, he would tire him out first. Kacchan loved combat and using his quirk, but this way served him a double purpose.
The constant barrage can’t continue on for forever either. Kacchan should soon realize that Izuku won’t completely tire out any time soon. That is what Izuku is preparing for. Kacchan would then crank up the heat to make him sweat more. More heat would increase Izuku’s difficulty to move. And then… Kacchan would revert to quirk-augmented close-combat. Izuku isn’t aiming for a win, he’s aiming to not lose . Kacchan wants to win, so he’ll pull an indisputable act for it when the clock nears the end.
A frog that uses all of its strength to adapt to the heat of the boiling water, won’t have any strength to jump out when the water gets too hot.
He needs to save energy for Kacchan’s last act.
He glances at Aizawa-sensei. At the clock—
Kacchan shoots a blast that hits him dead center.
It sends him flying. Airborne. An explosion already sounds. He crashes into the ground, falling wrong on his left arm. He skids halfway across the ring, slamming his right hand on the ground to stop the motion. Fuck. Kacchan is speeding towards him, closing the 15 meter gap in a blink of an eye.
He hears humming.
His quirk is humming.
Izuku feels cold. He feels cool. Like at a beach, with the cool sea breeze.
His quirk is humming.
And Izuku agrees.
He calls for his quirk and it sings ! A siren’s call echoes while an immense beast of a power surges inside him without the slightest resistance. Like a tsunami that devastates the shores, like a billion volts pulsing from his very center, jumping through the air through sheer want alone— it dances where he wants to, it moves picture perfect, it was electrifying ! A grin breaks through his face—
He steps a firm foot forward. The ground forms spider web cracks. He lifts both hands to reach for Bakugou—
And his angel sings!
Katsuki’s stomach drops.
His explosions die mid-air. He breaks through the smoke screen with a rabid sting in his eyes. He registers how fast he’s moving. At the back of his mind there’s irritation growing for an interference in the match’s most decisive moment. (And something… something’s wrong .) At the back of his mind. At the front, he’ll crash into Deku. He thinks of how he’ll stick the landing, but make it as devastating as possible. His fingers curl and crack. He clenches his teeth, his sneer grows wider and wider.
Then Deku’s face morphs. He feels terror in him bloom. The air goes dense and thick and cold. He’s suddenly in space with all air wrangled out of him but gravity’s grown a hundred times stronger. Like heavy blocks on his feet, heavy chains and weights, dragging him down to the very depths of the ocean with the most horrifying monsters unknown to man.
The monster fucking grins and raises a hand to Katsuki’s face—
Katsuki. His vision is filled black, burnt spots, he can’t see a damn thing. He knows he’s falling — which way is up? He’s spinning, his ears are heavy and full and he can’t fucking hear damn thing — everything hurts so damn much, his arms are burning , his face hurts so much, why does it hurt so much—
THUNDER. It sounds like thunder . It roars and echoes and rips through every known barrier and ear drum. It lingers long after it’s gone, it bounces and screams off the walls.
There’s a push in one direction— then he slams hard into the ground, skidding, his whole body ragdolling because his mind couldn’t command his limbs to move, fucking move— it burns—
F’k! Qui’k! Rv’ry—
—ly ‘hit that lan’ing!
—gou, can you ‘ear m’? ‘m taking — to Recovery Girl!
—r’ya, oh shit—
Midoriya inspects his smoking hands, admiring it from every angle… Raising them up to the sky like a prize to be proud of. He hums in admiration. Bakugou’s quirk is subdued and terrified, shivering and quaking. He feels as his own quirk chokes it, and does nothing as the slightest fight or life of it fades into nothing.
Your quirk is really cool, Kacchan.
This quirk is really cool.
His expression relaxes into a self-satisfied smirk. He wonders if Todoroki felt this way too back at the Sports Festival. He wants to cover his face but he just can’t stop the smile from growing, it just does!
“So… this is what it feels to not hold back.”
But then his grin falters.
It falls from his face.
He realizes what he had just done.