Dodge. Punch. Kick. Repeat.
Izuku watched as the robot dummy stumbled backwards after he kicked it square in the jaw. If his predictions were correct, the dummy was going to move right foot forward, fake a punch, and then try to uppercut him.
He wasn’t about to let that happen.
Just as he predicted, the dummy robot moved forward with its right foot and that was all it took for Izuku. He dodged the incoming punch immediately and twisted his lean, muscular seventeen-year-old body in the air. Izuku landed behind the dummy and engaged in combat. The dummy had reflexes as fast – if not faster – than him. Flesh and metal clashed for a solid five minutes before Izuku ended the fight by swiping the robots head clean off – the white and black sleek design becoming only a mere dot in the sky as it sailed away.
Izuku breathed heavily as sweat trickled down his brow, using his gray tank top to wipe away the sweat that clouded his eyes and clung to his lashes. It still wasn’t enough though.
“That was amazing, Izuku! You beat that one point five seconds faster,” chirped a voice that has been a great comfort to him for the past several months.
Melissa Shield stepped out onto the training field with a bright smile and hands clasped behind her back. She adjusted her glasses and stepped closer to him. It’s hard to believe that at one point she was two inches taller than him – he now had at least a five inch or so advantage over her. She handed him a towel and a bottle of water. He doused the water in two or three gulps. He dabbed the towel on his forehead and brow.
“Izuku… maybe you should take a little break – “
“No,” he told her plainly as he handed her the empty plastic and towel. It always came down to this when he trained for several hours. Take a break, Izuku. You’re exhausted, Izuku. You already beat your record for the day, Izuku. Izuku. Izuku. Izuku.
He understood that she was just looking out for him, but he needed to get stronger. Everyday. No matter how much he overexerted himself. No matter how many times he threw up to the point where nothing came up – only bile. No matter how much faster he got.
He knew that All for One would be faster – better – than he’ll ever be. That’s why he’s been doing this for almost a year now. That’s why he hasn’t seen home for almost a year now. It all came down to training like a bat out of hell.
“Well, before you do, can you at least come check your phone. It’s been ringing off the hook for the past hour now,” conceded Melissa – knowing there was nothing she could do or say anymore to him.
“I will in a minute. Send out two dummies this time. Make them faster than the previous one. I’m going to try to end them both in four seconds.”
Melissa’s blue eyes went wide before she finally took in a huge breath of air, and then finally snapped. “No.”
Izuku opened his mouth to argue, but she beat him to it. She jabbed a finger in his chest and got right in his face. “I said no and that’s the end of it! I’m not giving you anymore things to destroy until you answer that damn phone! You know how many times your mother has called, and I have had to explain to her that you’re busy even though the only thing she wants is to talk to you?! Not to mention your classmates! You have exactly one hundred and fifty-six unread messages! You are taking thirty – no – an hour and fifteen minutes out of your day to talk to the people who love and care about you! Now get in that inspection room or so help me God I’m getting you and Uncle All Might first class plane tickets straight back to Japan, and then you can let another more qualified person stop All for One.”
Open and shut went his mouth. Melissa has never once lost her temper with him. She’s always been so patient, so kind, but he understood where this newfound, well maybe it wasn’t newfound, frustration was coming from. He would be frustrated with himself too. So, he finally let out a sigh and numbly nodded his head. He sluggishly dragged himself to the inspection room where Melissa deployed the robot dummies for him to fight. His phone was splayed on the counter doing as Melissa said it was – vibrating violently. He looked at the name that thrummed against the screen: Kacchan. And it was a facetime.
He’ll never forget before leaving for I-Island Kacchan giving him his number, both of them fresh out of the hospital and standing in front of the dorms. Izuku had his suitcase rolling behind him in one scarred hand when he was stopped by the shout of his name (Deku), and Kacchan walking towards him in bandages, a t-shirt, and sweats with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He was thrusted at his chest a torn piece of scrap paper that Izuku barely saw the numbers scribbled on.
“In case something happens, so you better be fucking careful, you hear me. And don’t go pushing yourself too hard and beating yourself up over this.”
Hastily, he lifted up the phone and swiped right to accept the call. Izuku’s sweaty face was in full view of the screen before sliding into a smaller square, and the beep sound of the phone let him know that the call was accepted from the other end. Kacchan’s face exploded across the screen – glaring at it like it personally offended him.
“Kacchan, hey. How have you – “
“Is that a fucking cut on your forehead? Turn more in the light,” commanded the blonde.
Izuku resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I’m fine, Kacchan. I was just doing some training. Forget about me. How are you? You look… taller.”
Kacchan growled and snatched his phone closer to himself – getting right in the screen’s face. “I said let me see what shit you did to yourself!”
Knowing Kacchan wasn’t going to let it go, Izuku swept the green curls aside and let him see where the dummy's metallic hand scratched him. It wasn’t even that deep of a cut. Kacchan clicked his tongue, but he genuinely did seem to be studying over the small scratch.
“You won’t need stitches. Just slap some gauze on it, and you’ll be fine,” Kacchan remarked as he set his phone back down on the stand.
“Of course I won’t need stitches. It’s a scratch,” deadpanned Izuku as he ran a fidgety hand through his wet hair.
“Don’t be a smartass,” Kacchan told him with a scowl.
Silence fell between the two before Kacchan spoke again. “How’s your, uh, training going?”
Izuku blinked back his surprise before he answered. “I’m nowhere near where I need to be.”
“You fuckin’ – I swear to all that’s sacred I’ll come over there if you’re pushing yourself too hard! What did I say? Hm? What came out of my damn mouth before you left, asshole? I said to not fucking over exert yourself, and what are you doing? Accepting my call all banged up and shit. I knew this was a bad idea. I should have come with you. Are you at least eating?! Are you getting enough sleep?! You know what - fuck it! I’m packing my bags, and I’ll get a flight – “
Kacchan was making his head spin. It was almost as bad when he got to muttering to himself. But what had his head spinning more though was when Kacchan’s phone was grabbed, and Uraraka’s round face came into the picture. She grinned at him as she tore into her half eaten pizza.
“Hey there, Deku. Haven’t seen that plain face in awhile. How ya’ been,” she said casually as if she wasn’t in Kacchan’s room right now with her hair pulled into a messy ponytail and wearing what looked like one of Kacchan’s t-shirts. He needed to sit down.
He stumbled into an office chair and licked his dry lips. “I’m – good. I – Uraraka? You’re in Kacchan’s room.”
She took another bite of pizza, unbothered. “Yeah? He let me in here.”
“Give me back my damn phone, Cheeks!” Kacchan yelped from somewhere in the background.
“You’re wearing one of his shirts,” Izuku observed further.
Uraraka looked down at the skull print and beamed as she swallowed the pizza in her mouth. “He gave it to me – said he had another one in his closet.”
Izuku swallowed thickly as his head continued to spin. “A-are you two dating or something?”
Ochako scrunched up her brows at that one. “What? No! We’re just friends.” She turned her head, what Izuku assumed, to talk to Kacchan. “Hey by the way, is there anymore udon in the fridge down in the common area? Better yet, do we have ice cream or anything sweet? I’m hungry.”
The phone was jerked away, and Kacchan’s face came back into view. Said face seemed to be a shade pink. “She thinks I’m her personal chef.”
“You are,” stated Uraraka.
Izuku breathed in deeply. Okay. He gave it a month. Tops. Hopefully he’ll be where he wants to be, so he can see Kacchan with his first girlfriend. The thought nearly got him misty eyed.
“I – Kacchan… I’m glad to see that you’re alright,” smiled Izuku.
Kacchan paused then glanced at Uraraka who nearly tripped trying to bend down to reach a movie. The curve of his lip as he watched her didn’t go unnoticed by Izuku, and he was so glad. He was so thankful that Kacchan had found someone who made him happy. If anyone deserved happiness it was Kacchan.
“You just don’t do anything stupid, alright? You call me if shit happens.”
Izuku nodded. “Of course I will, Kacchan.”
Kacchan paused again to scratch the back of his head then tried to end the call with an awkward, “Bye”, but Uraraka screamed for him to wait and scrambled from across the room to practically shove Kacchan out of the way so she was in the view now.
Izuku held up his scar hand in a wave, and Uraraka waved back. “Bye, Deku! Can’t wait to see you again! When you get back we should do something fun together, seriously. Maybe we can train together sometime! I really want to see how much stronger you’ve gotten!”
“The fuck?! That’s our thing, Uraraka!” Kacchan protested.
Uraraka playfully rolled her eyes and punched his arm. “Yeah, well I get to see you everyday. I don’t get to see Deku as much anymore.”
“You have my phone number,” gently reminded Izuku.
“Yeah, but you never answer.”
Oh yeah. He forgot that he did that.
“A-anyways, it’s good to talk to you both again. I’ll try to call more frequently,” said Izuku, making a promise that he knew that he wouldn’t keep.
“You fucking better! I’m tired of your girlfriend picking up the phone for you and telling me you’re busy!”snapped Kacchan, plucking his phone out of Uraraka’s hands.
Izuku blushed from head to toe. “Sh-she’s not my girlfriend, Kacchan! She’s just helping me train!”
Kacchan raised an eyebrow in disbelief before deciding to let it go. “Whatever. You just come back to Japan in one piece, alright?”
“Alright, Kacchan. Uh, goodbye,” said Izuku still flustered from Kacchan’s comment.
Kacchan ended their chat. Now onto his mother.
Izuku scrolled through his contacts until he found his mother’s smiling face on the little icon. He tapped it and too soon the phone started ringing. On the first ring his mother picked up.
Her voice was full of worry, and that killed Izuku’s soul.
“Hi, Mom,” Izuku answered while trying not to tense up and bite his lip. He expected a lecture, an explanation why he hadn’t called for nearly a year, but instead what he got he certainly didn’t deserve.
“My baby,” his mother gasped in relief. “I’m so glad you’re okay… oh, I think I just… I can’t believe I’m talking with you on the phone right now! Have you been eating enough? Have you been getting enough sleep? Please tell me that you haven’t done any more damage to your body!”
Izuku didn’t know who was worse – his own mother or Kacchan? He personally believed that it was a close tie.
“Should I get on a plane, sweetie? You haven’t been stranded on an island somewhere have you? Izuku? You have, haven’t you! That’s why you’re not answering me right now! Oh, Izuku, just tell me the truth! Say pie if you need help! Say pizza if everything is okay! I should have put my foot down and not listen to All Might! I should have come with you at least, so I would know that you’re okay! I’m a terrible mother – especially after everything that you’ve been through! I’msohorribleIcan’tbelievemyselfwouldletyougo—“
The muttering stopped.
“I’m okay. I’m not stranded on an island, well, I am on an island, but I’m not stranded. All Might’s here with me, and so is Melissa. I promise that I’m eating enough and getting plenty of sleep,” Izuku ran a hand through his curls as he let out a shaky breath. “I miss you though – so much.”
He swore he could see his mother’s tears through the phone. “I miss you too, baby. Every single day. You know, your father called last night and asked about you. I couldn’t exactly give him an answer, but I’ll call him in a few minutes and tell him that you’re okay. And Melissa is there with you?” Here we go. “Oh, how nice! You’ve met her on I-Island before, haven’t you? During your first year? How is she? Is she helping you? Are you together with her?”
His mom was speaking a mile a minute until Izuku finally had to cut her off with a nervous laugh and recounting over every detail of what he’d been doing since he and All Might left. At the end of it, his mother was blubbering in tears and wishing that she could hold him and tell him how proud she is. It brought Izuku’s own tears to the surface.
“I love you so much, Izuku. I can’t wait to see you again, son! But also, I expect a call from you every single day from now on! Don’t ever not call me for almost a year again, young man! You want this old woman to meet an early grave? Of course you don’t! When you do decide to come back home though, sweetie, we can go out for hot pot! My treat!”
Izuku sniffled as he wiped away stray tears. “I would love that, Mom. I – I love you, and I promise that I’ll call every day from now on. I’m so sorry… just… after everything that went down I needed to focus and –“
“You don’t have to explain a thing, Izuku,” she interrupted. “But just know that I’ll be cheering you on wherever you are, honey. Please don’t forget that.”
How could he? “I won’t, Mom.”
“I love you, Izuku.”
“I love you too.”
With a tearful goodbye, they both hung up, and it was back to training. Back on the trading field, Melissa was assessing the damage of the discarded dummies that littered the training area. When she saw him, she perked up with a smile.
“How’d it go?”
Izuku wiped away any evidence of tears. “I really needed that. You know, I’d almost forgotten what the sound of my mom’s voice sounded like,” his eyes softened as he looked down at Melissa who had inched closer. “Kacchan and Uraraka seem to be a thing as well? Melissa, I’ve… I’ve missed out on so much.”
She held him with a sympathetic gaze. “Do you want to go home?”
Izuku cringed at the idea. “N-no, well, I can’t. I mean, I can, but talking to them made me realize why I’m doing this in the first place. I don’t want any one of them to go through what happened seven months ago ever again. It’s my job to make sure people are safe, and that includes the people I love and care about.”
Melissa nodded in agreement before reaching and swiping her thumb over the cut that Kacchan was inspecting earlier. “Yes, but Izuku… you’re only one person. You don’t have to do this alone.”
He hated it when he was told that. “It’s better to be alone. There’s no distractions, and I can focus on what matters most.”
“So, I’m a distraction now,” teased Melissa.
“What? No! Of course you’re not! I just mean – “
“I’m teasing, relax. I get what you’re saying, but what I’m saying is that you’re not alone. You have so many people that love and care for you. You’re so blessed.”
He thought that once too, and look what happened.
“I’m so damn tired, Melissa.”
Melissa removed her thumb over the cut and said with a heavy sigh, “I know.”
They called it a day.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Goodbye, worthless Izuku Midoriya.”
“To think, not even my death could keep us from meeting again… All for One.”
“You looked like someone who needed saving…”
“Not yet…! My dream is still not yet complete…!”
Izuku blinked his blearily eyes through the vacant darkness that spread all around him. He tried to move, but he found he couldn’t. The scene in front of him this time was all of the founders of One for All. They all smiled at him and gestured for him to come to them. The first user stepped ahead of everyone else and held out his hand with a bright, welcoming smile adoring his face.
“Come with us, Izuku Midoriya,” the founder of One for All said as he more urgently outstretched his pale hand.
Izuku reached forward — oh, he could move again — and went to grasp the much bigger hand than his little one before he was abruptly snatched back. Izuku let out a gasp that echoed throughout the darkness.
“Don’t any of you fucking touch him,” growled a voice.
Izuku twisted his little body to look up at the much older Kacchan with a hero suit on, who held him tightly in his arms with a murderous glint in his eyes. His eyes nearly popped out of his skull as he took in this clearly not a five-year-old Kacchan.
“Kacchan, what’s going on? Why are we here?” Izuku darted his eyes around, but this time he truly couldn’t move. Kacchan had a death grip.
“Look at me, Deku. Oi! I said look at me!”
Izuku slowly lifted his head to see searing, scarlet eyes staring down at him filled with… tears. Kacchan was crying. Why? Why was he crying? The older Kacchan may have tears streaming down his cheeks, but his voice never wavered.
“You’re not going to die. You fucking hear me? You’re not dying! So you hang on and keep looking at me!”
Izuku head bobbled forward, suddenly too weak to support himself. “K-Kacchan… I feel… heavy…”
Kacchan shook him and turned him over so now he was cradled in Kacchan’s arms.
Death was unavoidable. Everyone was eventually going to die. Once you’re born you’re destined to die. That was a part of life. Death and life walked hand in hand, and Izuku had a feeling he was right between them — both fighting for him and demanding that he choose. Death would be so easy. Quick. Darkness. Comfort. Izuku wouldn’t have to fight anymore. He and his classmates were never meant to fight in a war anyways. Death was holding out its hand right now in the form of a pale man and six others. Life cradled him and demanded that he stay — to never give up.
“Kacchan… tell my mom… tell my mom that I’m so sorry…”
“Shut the fuck up! You’re not dying I told you, so just shut the fuck up!”
“Please come with us, Izuku Midoriya. We’ve been waiting for you,” said the pale man as he and six other hands reached for him.
Izuku reached back.
His little outstretched hand paused.
Kacchan’s voice finally broke. He held Izuku to his chest, and he felt the wetness of tears drip onto his freckled cheek. Izuku tore his gaze away from the six adults to the one friend that he had since the beginning. Kacchan openly wept as he pleaded.
“Please… just… don’t give up, Izuku.”
Izuku’s green eyes sparkled and widened at his name coming from Kacchan’s lips. Kacchan picked him up and hugged him — his large frame hunkered down as if to protect him. Kacchan’s gloved hand twisted in Izuku’s green curls, holding his head against his shoulder.
Ah, yes, now he remembered. Life. He chose life.
One for All.
“I want to live!” Izuku hollered at the top of his lungs.
The darkness was gone like the foggy mist over the ocean. Izuku pulled away from Kacchan with tears gushing and snot running. He looked over his shoulder to see all the users of One for All toss him a wave and then walk away to only disappear. The founder was the only one to stay. He crouched down before him and Kacchan before reaching out one final time and ruffling his hair with a smile.
“We’ll meet again, Izuku Midoriya. Hopefully not for a long time, so go and live your life,” the founder met Izuku’s eyes with happiness spilling from him. “You are not worthless, Izuku Midoriya. You’ll be the greatest hero — the symbol of hope.”
With that, the founder got up, turned away, and faded.
“Izuku,” whispered Kacchan.
Izuku stepped away from Kacchan and looked at him in amazement. “You’re a hero, Kacchan! You look so cool! How do those things on your arm work?! What are those strange head pieces?! Woah, an ‘X’ with two black dots! What does that mean?! Are you a super strong hero —“
Izuku was cut off as Kacchan grinned down at him and also patted him on the head.
“See ya’ around, alright? No more dying.”
Kacchan began to disappear, and Izuku panicked as he sprang forward and clutched at Kacchan’s quickly disappearing leg. “W-wait, Kacchan! Don’t leave me alone here! I don’t know where to go! Kacchan!”
It was too late. Kacchan was gone.
Fresh tears puddled in Izuku’s vision and a whimper escaped him.
“Kacchan, don’t leave me…”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Izuku shot up from his sweat soaked covered bed, and almost smacked Melissa in the process since she was hovering just above him. They both stared at each other with wide eyes, unsure of what to do next. Izuku swallowed thickly before he let out a groan and put his face in his hands — falling back onto the bed with a tried plop.
“I, um, brought you some water,” finally spoke Melissa.
Izuku peeped out from behind his fingers to see that she had indeed brought him a glass of water. She held it out to him, so he sat up again and drank in gulps. Once he was through, he laid back down, and she sat on the mattress.
“You were whimpering and screaming,” she said after a few minutes of silence.
He raised a green brow. “Really? What — what did I say?”
“It was incoherent, but I thought we had a villain attacking the place. Although, the way you were screaming I would have rather it had been an actual villain instead of a nightmare.”
“I’m sorry if I kept you up, Melissa,” breathed out Izuku as a tight feeling spread throughout his chest. “And it wasn’t even a nightmare, I just… can you come here?”
She didn’t hesitate. They have been in this position more than once. She crawled the rest of the way into his bed, and he all but buried his face in her chest as she softly hummed a tune to an American song that he did not know, but he didn’t care. He wrapped his arms around her waist, and she in turn ran her fingers through his hair.
At least he got this.
This was a moment of peace.
“Can you stay for the rest of the night?” Izuku hated asking that of her, but that was a question he seemed to be asking a lot lately.
“Of course,” she told him. That was always her answer.
Being in her arms reminded him so much of when he awoke in the hospital to find her worried face there. She looked like she hadn’t slept much, but even so she still tried to give him a friendly smile. At that moment, she was there when he needed someone the most. She told him about everything that she had heard from I-Island and convinced her father to let her get on a plane and fly to Japan. Hearing that had him in tears that she cared so much, and the reality of what had happened sinking in. She held him while he cried and said he was sorry over and over again for ruining her blouse with his tears and snot, but she only soothed him and told him she could always buy a new one. From then on, she had stayed with him — just a few days before he decided that he needed to leave Japan in order to get stronger.
Tomorrow he would continue his training, and move forward into the unknown to achieve his dream, but for tonight, just for one more night — he wanted to be held and told everything would be alright.
That was enough.