Izuku swung back and forth on his swing, kicking his tiny legs against the dirt. He sniffled, feeling the burning sensation in his eyes as he tried to keep the tears from falling. Today was another failed attempt to activate his Quirk. He had tried so hard to breath fire like his father or to move objects like his mother. Just because the doctor said he couldn't didn't mean it wouldn't happen! Izuku refused to give up on his dream of being a hero. Nothing happened and today he endured yet another round of teasing from Kaachan and the others kids.
"Ah, I think I'm lost."
Izuku's head snapped left, surprised when a young man sat in the swing next to his. With fluffy brown hair, soft brown eyes and a suit that looked similar to what his father wore, the man looked out of place on the empty playground.
Noticing Izuku, the man smiled gently at him. "I don't suppose you could tell me where I am?" he asked.
Izuku nodded. "This is Inochi Playground."
The man hummed. "I don't suppose you know where Namimori is?" he asked.
Izuku shook his head.
"Ah well, it's fine," the man said. "I'll find my way home soon enough." He smiled brightly at Izuku. "So why are you crying?"
"I… don't have a Quirk," Izuku said softly, looking down. He waited for the mocking laughter or the taunting pity.
"What's a Quirk?"
Izuku looked up at the man, surprised. He didn't know what a Quirk was? The man merely looked at him patiently waiting for Izuku to explain. Izuku frowned. Was it a test? Hesitantly, he answered, "A Quirk is the special ability that almost everyone is born with. Lots of people get their Quirks by the time they turn five."
"Special ability huh?" the man said with a thoughtful look.
Izuku cast him a wary look. The wind picked up, kicking up dirt, whistling through the trees above. There was a loud snap and Izuku looked up just in time to see a tree branch falling towards him. He scrunched his eyes, bracing himself for the inevitable impact.
It never came.
Izuku opened his eyes. Encased around him was a dome of ice, shielding him.
"Whew, that was close," the man said.
Izuku whirled to look at him, betrayal bubbling under his skin. He knew it. The man was just like everyone else, teasing him about not having a Quirk.
"You have a Quirk!" Izuku accused.
The man looked at him surprised. "Is this what you consider to be a Quirk?" he asked. He waved his hand and the ice vanished in a burst of orange flames. Izuku was startled by that. That didn't make sense. Ice was cold, fires was hot. Did this man have two Quirks?
That wasn't fair. Izuku couldn't even get one Quirk! How could this man have two?
The man laughed gently, kneeling down to Izuku's height. "I promise this isn't a Quirk," the man said. He summoned those orange flames again, letting them dance in his hands. "This is a Dying Will Flame."
"What's that?" Izuku asked. His curiosity got the better of him; his suspicious falling to the side.
The man hummed a little, gathering his thoughts. "Dying Will Flames are flames you summon from your lifeforce. The stronger your willpower, the stronger your flames."
"But it's something you're born with," Izuku said, scowling. Still a Quirk then.
"For some people, yes. Others can learn, if they have the right teacher," the man said.
Hope blossomed in his chest. Izuku looked up at the man, eyes wide. "Can you teach me?"
The man tilted his head. "Why do you want to learn?"
"I want to be a hero!" Izuku said. "I want to protect people like All Might!"
The man's eyes flashed orange. "Is that the only reason?" he asked, voice still gentle and soft.
Izuku hesitated. "No," he said gloomy. He was six and the only one in his classroom without a Quirk. Jealously, his teacher told him, cautioning him against it. His mother told him the lack of a Quirk didn't make him any less special. But… every day without a Quirk was one step closer to his dream shattering as Kacchan ran ahead without him.
The man looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, I make no promises that you will be able to learn this," he said.
Izuku felt his heart swell, disbelief and hope warring inside. "You'll teach me?!"
The man laughed. "Sure. You have to promise me you will only use this ability to protect yourself and others."
Izuku nodded. "I will!"
The man smiled at him. "I am Sawada Tsunayoshi, please call me Tsuna. Who are you?"
"Midoriya Izuku! Thank you, Tsuna-sensei!"
Perhaps he should have been more careful. His mother always warned him to be wary around strangers, but Izuku's common sense was lost in the face of his dreams. He couldn't believe that there was someone out there willing to teach him, couldn't believe there was an ability that looked like a Quirk, acted like a Quirk, but wasn't a Quirk. With that tantalizing hope dangling in front of his face, Izuku could only dare to hope, taking that leap of faith that maybe, maybe Tsuna-sensei was right and Izuku could learn!
He was still a naive six-year-old child, after all. He couldn't help it.
Tsuna met him in the playground every day, still in that same suit, which was looking a little more ragged every time Izuku saw him, and a large smile.
"Good afternoon, Tsuna-sensei!" Izuku chirped, having raced all the way here from school.
"Hello, Izuku," Tsuna said. "Ready to learn?"
Izuku nodded, almost bouncing.
Tsuna chuckled. "Well, first thing, some basics. Dying Will Flames are at their core, fire. But what they burn is solely up to the user." He summoned those bright orange flames once more, gesturing Izuku closer. "Come touch the fire."
Izuku hesitated, reaching out. Tsuna waited patiently as Izuku summoned up his courage to grab Tsuna's hand. "Warm," Izuku said surprised. Warm but not burning, not like normal fire.
"Yes, that's right," Tsuna said. He pulled his hand away and picked up a rock. The flames burned faster, heat radiating off. He dropped the rock, leaving it a pile of melted molten on the ground.
"Hot enough to burn rock?" Izuku said.
"And other things," Tsuna said. "It's a control thing. So you must be careful whenever you decide to use these flames. It's not something you can use lightly. People you care about can get hurt, burnt by the same flames you are using to protect them with. Understand?"
Izuku nodded. Everyone's Quirks had drawbacks and flaws. He carefully wrote down that Tsuna was telling him in his little notebook.
"Next, there are different colors type of flames," Tsuna said. "These orange ones I summon are called Sky Flames. There is also red which are Storm Flames, blue for Rain, green for Lightning, yellow for Sun, purple for Cloud and Indigo for Mist."
"Like the rainbow!" Izuku said.
"Like the rainbow." Tsuna grinned, laughing as if there was another joke in that word. "Each type has a special ability. For example, Storm Flames have the ability to destroy things, Sun Flames can heal and Mist can create illusions."
"That's so cool," Izuku said. "What do your Sky Flames do? The ice thingy?"
Tsuna shook his head. "No, that's one is a bit special. Sky Flames' special trait is harmony. It's a bit difficult compared to the other flames. Sky Flame is the rarest type too, not many people have it."
"So which one would I have? Izuku asked.
"Well, let's find out," Tsuna said. He reached out, placing a hand on Izuku's shoulder and set Izuku on fire.
"H-hot!" Izuku gasped, feeling the fire coat his body. His entire world turned orange before turning black.
Izuku blinked, the blue sky stretching far above him.
"Congratulations," Tsuna said, with a wry grin. "You have Sky Flames. Which is good because it means I can teach you more."
Izuku scowled at him. "You set me on fire."
"It's better than shooting you with a bullet," Tsuna said cheerfully. "That's my tutor did after all."
"Someone shot you with a bullet?" Izuku said in disbelief.
"That's Reborn for you," Tsuna said with a shrug. But his tone of voice was fond. "I was not the easiest student and he was the toughest tutor in the world." He helped Izuku to his feet. "Now let's try one last thing before we call it a day. Remember that warmth you felt? That hot, burning feeling of fire in the center of your chest? Will it forward."
Izuku frowned, concentrating on that feeling over burning. He could just grasp it, as if it was just out of reach, the tips of his fingers brushing across the feeling. But how did he bring it out?
"Why do you want these flames? Why do you need it?"
That was easy enough. He wanted to be a hero, he wanted to protect his mom. He wanted to have a Quirk, he wanted to fit in. Izuku grit his teeth and pushed.
"There we go," Tsuna said. "You can now summon Dying Will Flames."
Izuku stared at the same flickers of Flames, the same brightly colored orange that Tsuna had, dancing in the palm of his small hand. They weren't very big, tiny embers really. But he had done it, just a tiny little bit! "I did it!" Izuku shouted happily.
The flames vanished as Izuku leapt forward, wrapping his tiny arms around Tsuna's neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Tsuna laughed, hugging him back. "You're welcome. Remember to be careful with them now."
Izuku nodded, his heart bursting with joy. "I will!"
Izuku's happiness was indescribable. He had a special power that he could use to become a hero. He spent every day these last two weeks with Tsuna, watching his fire grow stronger and stronger. Tsuna pushed him harder each day, not only teaching Izuku the basics of his new Sky Flames but also how to strengthen his body with physical exercise.
Izuku took a deep breath, concentrating on the metal fork Tsuna had handed him. Still the flames refused to ignite. "Argh," Izuku said, pouting as he looked at Tsuna.
Tsuna merely laughed. "Keep practicing Izuku," he said, ruffling Izuku's hair.
"Why is it so hard?" Izuku demanded to know.
"Well, it's actually supposed to be easier. Most people pick a weapon they are comfortable wielding and channel their flames through it," Tsuna explained.
Izuku scrunched his face, thinking. 'Then why did you give me a fork if I'm supposed to pick a weapon?"
Tsuna's grin had almost… evil look to it. "There's nothing wrong with a fork as a weapon," Tsuna said. "After all I have an ancestor who used a fork. Everyone underestimated him and he won many fights he got into because of that. No one expects a fork."
"But it's a fork," Izuku said. It wasn't cool at all!
"Well maybe you'll have an easier time with gloves," Tsuna said. He pulled out an orange box and lit his own flames. He pulled out a pair of wooly mittens with the number 27 on them. "They're a little big, but try these on. My tutor gave me these."
Izuku looked at him, skeptical. He had learned that Tsuna had a bit of a mean streak while still remaining completely polite and nice. Like the time he decided to test Izuku's stamina by tying a piece of steak to him and setting a hungry puppy lose after him. The puppy couldn't hurt Izuku, not really and Izuku's tiny legs and six-year-old stamina meant they gave up after 10 minutes, but it was the idea behind it. Izuku could totally see if he was older, Tsuna wouldn't have been so nice.
"I think your tutor was a terrible person," Izuku announced with a certainty of a child. Given the stories Tsuna had told him about his tutor and how Tsuna was treating Izuku to a water down version his own training, Izuku had come to conclusion that whoever Reborn was, they were secretly a demon in disguise.
"Reborn would be proud of that," Tsuna said with a laugh. "But really, Izuku, just try this one."
Izuku took the gloves and put it on, summoning his flames. To his surprise, the gloves shifted into metal clad black ones. His flames grew stronger, burning the brightest Izuku had managed in the last two weeks.
Tsuna grinned. "Thought so. I guess you've already decided you want to be someone who fights with their fists instead of a weapon."
All Might and his powerful punches flashed in Izuku's mind. "Ah," Izuku said. "I-is that a bad thing?"
"No," Tsuna said. "There's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it's easier, easier to learn, easier to use, easier to get hurt when you use your fists. There are tradeoffs and there are bonuses."
Tsuna closed Izuku's fingers into a loose fist. "See if you can keep the Flames lit, Izuku."
"I can't do it," Izuku shouted back at Tsuna.
"You can," Tsuna said confidently.
Izuku looked at the top of the tall tree, its branches still so far away before looking back down to where Tsuna was on the ground. He swallowed tightly. If he fell now, he would easily break some bones. Depending on how nice Tsuna was feeling would depend if he caught Izuku or not. Why was climbing trees important?
"I don't think I can!" Izuku shouted back.
Tsuna merely smiled up at him. "Do it with your Dying Will, Izuku."
Tsuna kept mentioning that, Dying Will. But it didn't make any sense. What exactly was a Dying Will?
As if reading his mind, Tsuna's smile merely grew larger. "Willpower, Izuku. There's nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it."
Oh. Izuku blinked, looking back up at the high branches. Alright, maybe he can do it.
Izuku was never cold these days. Even as the weather grew cold, as autumn passed into winter, he still felt warm to his core. Inko fretted over the fact that Izuku wasn't wearing warm enough clothes. Izuku always took the heavier jacket, but he never really needed.
"Hey there's Deku!"
Izuku flinched, turning around. There were a couple boys from school, Mochida and Sakamoto, two of the bullies who still picked on him. Thankfully Kacchan wasn't anywhere, but it didn't make Izuku feel anyway better. He turned to turn, not wanting to get wrapped up with them.
He didn't get far before Sakamoto's vine Quirk wrapped around his waist, hoisting him up into air. "Where are you going, Deku?"
"Put me down!" Izuku shouted.
"What a helpless baby," Mochida taunted.
Izuku struggled to break free, that warmth in his chest building into a raging fire. He was so angry. Why couldn't they just leave him alone?
"Is weak little Deku going to cry?" Sakamoto teased.
Fire exploded. Sakamoto screeched as his vines burned away. Mochida scrambled backwards, shocked when Izuku burst into orange flames.
"Leave me alone!" Izuku shouted back, fire building higher and higher. It spread through the area, lighting up the trees and trapping the three of them in a circle of fire.
"Cut it out Deku!" Mochida shouted. "Or-or I'm gonna tell your mom!"
"When did the crybaby get his Quirk?" Sakamoto screamed.
Izuku couldn't hear them. An entire year of bullying from the other kids had finally brought him to his breaking point. So what if he was the only one in their elementary class that didn't have a Quirk? So what if he was Quirkless? So what if he was different?
The fire within him raged like a wild beast, so hot and angry. Tears prickled in the corner of his eyes.
"Zero Point Breakthrough - Revised."
The flames vanished. Sakamoto and Mochida took off once the danger was gone while Izuku heaved and huffed, drained and tired.
Brown eyes peered down at Izuku, concern reflected in them. "You have to be careful, Izuku," Tsuna said gently.
Izuku flinched once more. This time he took in the destruction he had caused. The ground was scorched, trees blackened and the heavy scent of smoke curled in the air. "I didn't mean to," Izuku said, eyes wide.
Tsuna ruffled his hair. "I know. Just be careful and remember why you wanted those Flames, okay?"
Izuku nodded glumly.
"You're leaving?" Izuku asked, crushed. Why was Tsuna leaving? Was it because he lost control the other week?
"Not your fault, Izuku," Tsuna said. "I just found my way home. I was going to have to go eventually."
"But…" It wasn't fair. Izuku had only known Tsuna for eight short weeks. Not even a full season. Tsuna believed in him, didn't laugh at Izuku's dream to be a hero, gave him fire.
Gave him hope.
He didn't want Tsuna to go.
"You'll be fine, Izuku," Tsuna said, kneeling down to Izuku's height. "You'll keep on practicing just like I taught you and you will find your own path."
"I don't want you to go," Izuku said.
"Wao~ Are we kidnapping this one?"
Izuku jumped, scrambling behind Tsuna. A white-haired man came out of nowhere, peering straight down at Izuku. His smile sent shivers down Izuku's spine.
"You're scaring him, Byakuran," Tsuna said, rolling his eyes. "And no, we are not kidnapping him."
"You need a heir," Byakuran sang.
"Izuku wants to be a hero," Tsuna countered. "His family is here. We are not kidnapping him."
Byakuran frowned, nose crinkling. "A hero? You're one of those," he told Izuku, clearly miffed by Izuku's dream.
"Don't pay any attention to him," Tsuna said. "He doesn't know what he's talking about."
"So mean! I came all this way to pick you up!"
"You're the reason why I landed here in the first place," Tsuna said dryly.
Izuku went quiet, realizing that this strange man was going to take Tsuna away. He clutched Tsuna's pants tighter, not wanting to let go.
Tsuna gave him a fond look and drew him into a hug. "Don't worry, Izuku. We're still friends, even if we never see each other again. You will always carry a part of my Flames with you too."
Izuku felt the warmth in his chest hum, glowing. He hiccupped, tears streaming down his face. "Thank you," Izuku said.
Tsuna smiled and ruffled his hair. "Keep on doing your best with your Dying Will, okay Izuku?"
-Nine Years Later-
Izuku took a deep breath, trying to settle his nerves. Today was the entrance exam for Yuuei. He tugged at the black leather and metal gloves that finally fit him properly.
He never did see Tsuna again.
But it didn't matter. Orange flames sprung to life around his fist. Today was the first step to becoming a hero. All he had to do pass the exam.
Izuku smiled; his flames burning brighter.
"Just do it with my Dying Will."