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When all you have is a Hammer

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When Izuku first changes, he doesn't notice until gym class.

He makes to put on his shorts, but when he looks down, he notices that he's missing something.

In most situations, he might have screamed from the shock - or maybe laughed in relief. He has a quirk! But this is gym class, and the teacher is scary. If she heard that Izuku had interrupted class for something as silly as a quirk, she would not be happy.

So he hurriedly finishes getting dressed, feeling oddly uncomfortable in the presence of his oblivious classmates, and waits for Agasa-sensei to lead them to the field.

Running that day is better than usual. He still runs out of stamina far too quickly, but at least the quick onset of exhaustion is no longer accompanied by that uncomfortable friction between his legs.

 

 

Once Izuku's mother comes to pick him up from school, he thinks of telling her about the quirk.

But wasn't that part of him supposed to be private? She'd told him that herself, back before school started. It would disappoint her if he showed her that part of him, wouldn't it?

So instead, he acts like his excitement is for watching All Might's awesome rescue mission again - which it is, in part. Once he gets home, his mother sets up the computer and leaves the room. With a silent apology to his all-time hero, he pauses the video, and sets about figuring out his quirk.

"Private parts," he murmurs as he types that phrase into the search bar.

Izuku scrolls through the search results, but not enough of the words make sense to him. He doesn't know which one to click, so he scrolls to the top and clicks Images.

"That one matches," he says to himself, and he clicks on one of the pictures.

 

 

"It's odd," the doctor tells them. "He's long past the age at which a quirk would manifest, and yet his toe doesn't have the extra joint to identify him as quirkless..."

"But what does that mean for him?" his mother asks. "He's wanted to be a hero for as long as he can remember!"

The doctor shrugs, eyes falling pityingly on Izuku. "I'm sorry to say that probably isn't possible. Izuku has what's known as an invisible quirk - one so obscure, difficult to activate or with so little usability, that it's impossible to identify. Ninety-nine times of a hundred, having an invisible quirk is as good as being quirkless in a combat situation."

His mother's eyes well up immediately. Izuku's don't.

He knows what his quirk is. And yes, it's small, and yes, it won't be any good on its own.

But Izuku will make it work.

Both the doctor and his mother catch a glimpse of his eyes, the green fire of determination, and they drop the subject then and there.

 

 

Izuku can't decide a lot of things, and it's starting to upset him.

Firstly, should he tell his mother about his quirk?

His first instinct is to tell her, but he knows, realistically, that his quirk isn't very powerful. He can't spit flame, make explosions or defeat enemies with a single blow. If he tells mom about the quirk, then she'll know for certain that he can't be a hero.

At least if his quirk is invisible, she won't know for certain that it's useless. Izuku will still be able to dream about being a hero.

So he isn't going to tell mom. It hurts to keep this a secret, but it would hurt more to give up his dream. And he can't decide whether it would hurt more or less than that, to see his mom hurt like she had during the doctor's appointment.

Still, that's just one more thing he can't decide. There's still plenty more to get through.

His eyes drift to the computer screen, the innocent question of 'am i a boy or a girl' typed into the search engine. He thought at first that he was a little silly to be unsure about such a simple fact - something that everyone knows their entire lives - but according to the internet results, it looks like he isn't as alone as he thought.

Intrigued, he clicks on a random link and prepares to sieve through this new information.

 

 

Izuku can't really think of themself as a 'they' full-time. It's fine to talk about Izuku with a 'they' when they're talking about Izuku overall, but for most situations, Izuku decides that they'll use 'he' or 'she' depending on which private parts they have at the moment.

It's simpler that way, she nods, with the conviction that only a five-year-old can have.

Smiling at her own logic, Izuku closes the tabs she has open, making sure to remember them for later. This whole 'transgender' thing is very interesting; to think it was her own useless quirk that helped her discover the whole subject!

She's spent the last week as a girl. Not because it's more comfortable to sit and walk (although it is), but partly to see if there are any limits to her quirk - like a time limit. Lots of cool heroes have talked about knowing your limits, after all. But so far she hasn't noticed any limits beyond those of a regular human body, and the strengths of her quirk aren't exactly stellar either.

The other part is that Izuku's curious about whether they're transgender. He isn't uncomfortable as a boy, but she isn't uncomfortable as a girl, either. Izuku thinks they must be 'nonbinary', that extra category that's neither a boy or a girl, except that Izuku is okay being both, so that doesn't really fit at all.

She'd thought that being a girl full-time for a bit would help her figure it out, but it hasn't helped in the slightest.

She's about to snap from the frustration of it all.

Stretching out, she decides that staying as a girl won't get her anywhere right now. So she changes.

And drops to the floor.

His head swam. He threw up in his mouth and barely avoided left a puddle on the floor. His hands feel clammy and cold, and when he rubbed them together to try and warm up, bits of dried skin flaked away. His mouth stuck together, and he can taste copper in his mouth.

Then he was in the kitchen, crawling towards the table and trying, without success, to prop himself up against it. A glass of water appears in front of him, and he desperately butted against it. It went down his throat, and despite inhaling some, he felt a little more alive once he downed the entire glass.

Now he can see his mom, desperately searching through the cupboards for something. Maybe some more water? Water was supposed to come from a tap, how could she forget that.

He told her as much through the water coating his vision, and she says something that doesn't reach his ears. She finally pulls out a packet of something. He gripped onto the biscuit he's given, and stared at it blankly.

How was he supposed to drink this?

 

 

The moment he's himself enough to think it through, Izuku changes back into a girl. Her pounding headache lets up a little, and while she's still exhausted, she now has the brainpower to piece together why everything went wrong.

They only really had problems when they tried to stay in their girl form for too long. And the problem itself was starvation and dehydration, which only affected their boy form. So logically, that meant that when they stayed a girl, the boy form wasn't getting any food or drink.

By being a girl for a week, she was letting the boy starve. And by staying a boy to let that side of him recover, he made the girl go hungry a bit, too. That's a big weakness, especially since it probably means that they need to eat enough for two people.

But maybe it could also be a strength, she thinks, hope rekindling in her chest for the first time in weeks. Surely if food doesn't transfer from the boy to the girl, that means that injuries won't either!

Crossing her fingers, she searches for a sharp object. There's a pack of thumbtacks on the other side of the room, so she picks one up and jams it into her left thumb. It stings as expected, but she pulls it out, and there's little left but a sparkling red bead on the tip of her thumb.

She changes, and he squints through the returning migraine at his thumb.

The blood is gone, and none wells up to take its place.

He changes back into a girl. The droplet returns.

She smiles to herself.

 

 

As the years go by, Izuku learns about their quirk, little by little. Whenever they have a bit of free time, they try to learn more about themselves.

If they concentrate, they can extend the change to their clothing, so the girl can wear different clothes to the boy. The first time they try this, she ends up naked in the computer room (in girl form, no less), and is almost caught that way when her mother walks in.

Since then, every morning, they undress, shower and dress both of their forms. Every night, they brush both sets of teeth. They don't need to swap clothes whenever they change, but having a set of clothing on each form makes them feel more comfortable. This way, they won't end up naked if they change clothes on reflex.

Their next experiment is to try and store their notepad; if they can store clothing in that way, why not tools? And sure enough, the notepad disappears the moment she changes into a boy. It's almost like a videogame inventory, the way they can just pick something up, store it, and stop worrying about it like that.

There is a limit, they find out when they try to store a huge box full of all their All Might toys. If they can't carry it, they can't store it either. So they can't just pop a car out of existence, and then pop it back wherever they want.

Unless they could pick up a car.

Izuku hums to himself, formulating yet another new idea. Not all of their ideas come to fruition, but he's optimistic about this one.

 

 

Their mother is shocked at just how much Izuku's eating, but they've always been one of the smaller kids in their year, so she lets it slide. When she realises that Izuku's actually losing weight despite the mountains he inhales daily, she attributes his newfound appetite to his otherwise-unseen quirk, and it only takes a few weeks to get extra income support so she can feed them properly.

Despite this hiccup in their daily lives, Izuku's mom is happier than ever. Her son's quirk isn't invisible anymore!

When she says as much, Izuku almost can't bear not telling her the truth. But Kacchan's bullying has gotten worse lately, and Izuku just knows that if they say anything to anyone, it'll eventually spread to Kacchan. Having an unknown quirk means Kacchan hasn't written Izuku off completely, but having a 'useless' one? If Kacchan learns about that, he'll be worse than ever.

So Izuku doesn't tell her.

 

 

She's changing. Her hips are getting wider. He's getting taller, too, but his changes are much less obvious than hers.

When Kacchan pokes her one day and his finger squishes into her chest, she punches him in the face and runs away, beetroot. Kacchan doesn't follow, and he seems to second-guess that she was even Izuku. The bloody nose was probably very convincing - no way could useless Deku have done that.

His mother notices something different about her when she gets home, but she can't put her finger on it.

Izuku needs to be more careful.

She knows what to do. From now on, the girl is a secret identity.

Izuku's recent haircuts have taken longer than usual, since they'd keep changing back and forth so that both forms got the same haircut.

This time, he stays in his boy form the whole way through. His hairdresser is surprised at how much easier it is than usual, and when they're done, he grins at his reflection.

Perfect.

 

 

A few days later, seven sports bras are mistakenly delivered to the Midoriya household. No matter how anyone looks at it, the box is addressed to this home, so the bras end up stored in a cupboard and forgotten.

Izuku takes them. Luckily enough, they fit her girl form perfectly. He has to sneak them into the washing inside other bits of clothing, but his mom never manages to find them, until Izuku gets the bright idea to offer to do the washing himself.

Over the next year, a few more deliveries are made, which happen to coincide with the old ones growing too tight.

Izuku feels slightly less awkward but much more guilty with each theft, but she tells herself that she needs them and sucks it up.

Izuku's mom hasn't seen them as a girl since the haircut. To eat as a girl, he takes longer to eat than usual, and then takes it upstairs when she isn't paying much attention. If he can't escape the table, he changes whenever his mom looks away, and snaps back to being a boy when she turns to face him again. There are many, many close calls and dinner always leaves him ready to drop like a rock, but she never finds out his secret.

As Izuku gets older, his mother starts to notice various feminine products go missing, with coins appearing in their place. She just shrugs and buys more.

 

 

Izuku stays as a boy for school and home, but he only spends as much time there as he needs to.

With the extra, they train. He does mainly strength and endurance training, disguised as a cleanup operation for the trash-covered beach he found. She does mostly running and agility. When half of them is exhausted, they just switch to the other, and they can train both their bodies as much as anyone else could train theirs. It takes twice as long to train than it does for most people, but they can withstand twice the injury, so they think it evens out.

Besides, a little hard work never killed anybody.

Every day for months - and then years - he comes home worn down and exhausted - often more mentally than physically - but always beaming. His mother doesn't know what to make of it, but when asked, he just mentions that he needs to be strong to be a hero.

As a boy, Izuku bulks up within just a few months, still fairly mobile but specialising more in raw strength; at least, as much strength as a young teenager can have. As a girl, she stands an entire head smaller than him, and while her muscles aren't nearly as pronounced, she's far faster and lighter on her feet than he could hope to be.

Training continues, and while Izuku's grades slip very slightly, the Hero Course of UA has never seemed closer.

 

 

"Oh yeah, Midoriya was planning to go to UA too, wasn't he?"

Izuku, having previously tried to phase his head through his desk and just hide, groans to himself and braces as Kacchan slowly turns towards him.

Then the class bursts into laughter.

"I've never even seen him use his quirk!" one girl in the back exclaims.

"Studying won't get you superpowers, you know," a boy reasons, snickering.

Another one cackles, "you can't get on the course without a quirk!"

"They removed that rule," Izuku argues, figuring that if he wasn't going to go unnoticed, he could at least try to defend himself. "Besides, I do have one, it just isn't obvious right now."

A hand shoots out from Kacchan's direction in retaliation, but he slaps it to the side on reflex, and the resulting explosion makes Kacchan slip from the desk he was crouched on. The raging blond drops to the floor like a sack of bricks, and Izuku's stomach does a little loop at the trouble he's just gotten himself in.

The teacher pays little attention to the exchange, besides smirking at the problem child's misfortune. "Midoriya, perhaps you should think of a different profession to follow, which will better suit your... abilities," he suggests with a pitying look.

Unoccupied by Kacchan, the teacher is unnerved the fire in Izuku's eyes, but Izuku doesn't care. This is not a dream they'll give up on that easily.

 

 

Foreseeing an attack by Kacchan, Izuku changes when everybody's scrambling to leave. Kacchan spots her and makes a start in her direction, but then he pauses, growls and heads out the door, muttering about a 'slippery bastard'.

Looks like he bought the disguise. It's lucky he thinks his class is beneath him, otherwise he might have noticed that the nondescript girl sweating bullets wasn't a regular class member.

Izuku relaxes into a grin as she watches Kacchan's retreating back, then glances down at the notebook she'd stored in her girl form.

It's a fairly new one. No. 6 is written on the front, along with a crude sketch of Ingenium.

Izuku's been studying the quirks of several heroes, but after discovering so many subtleties of their own quirk, they've decided to go as in-depth as they possibly can on just their six favorite heroes. Well, they hadn't ever thought of a specific number to make, but every time they ran out of things to write about all the other heroes on their list, they added another notebook.

Naturally, All Might occupies notebook No. 1.

She opens the latest notebook, and her analysis continues from where it left off. Currently she's trying to figure out a way around Ingenium's difficulty in stopping and turning properly - he'd already had two accidents this month, and while he's effective at close-combat due to his quirk-enhanced punches, the ability to use his full running speed in alleyways and other tight spaces would make him even better at chasing down villains.

A bicycle would be too clumsy to use in combat, but it's the first thing that comes to mind, so she jots it down, along with a little argument between her optimistic side and her devil's advocate.

Roller blades or quad skates... a good direction to take, but the wheels would likely wear away too quickly at Ingenium's high speeds, and they'd get in the way of hand-to-hand combat. The material used for his current boots is shear-resistant, but only in certain directions, so wheels made of it would wear away unevenly. Instead, Ingenium needs wheels which only come out when they're needed, like landing gear.

Idea drawn in her mind, she hums to herself as her absent footsteps take her under a bridge, sketching a potential design for the mechanism involved.

Chapter Text

Izuku is special.

Inko knows this. He's cute as a button, sweet as anything, and he's always so honest, open and well-behaved that other parents are jealous of her good fortune.

More than anyone else, Izuku is someone that Inko can trust.

But she is still his parent. It's her job to make sure that he isn't picking up bad influences, or getting himself hurt. So despite her immense trust for Izuku, she follows him wherever he goes. Never overtly, and she rarely does more than watch, but she knows what Izuku's life is about.

Is he doing alright at school? Of course he is! His note-taking has almost become obsessive at this point; he wants to know as much about the world as he can cram into his head.

Is anyone picking on him? Well, Katsuki's getting a little cocky with his new quirk, but he still likes Izuku. She'll need to keep an eye on that one - it's starting to seem like he cares more about quirks than the people attached to them. But for now, he and Izuku are on good terms.

Is he looking at things he shouldn't online?

As Inko scrolls through Izuku's internet history, she notices something and pauses, frowning to herself. Now why would he be searching for 'provate [sic] parts'?

And the next page on the list is an image search of the same thing.

She knows that she should expect the worst from this information. Someone older at school must have corrupted him, showed him something they shouldn't, she should be thinking. But she can't bring herself to. Everything Izuku does is borne of his passion and goals - just look at his All Might collections, or his non-stop talking about quirks, or his two notebooks, still open on the computer desk!

So for now, she trusts him and moves forward. Gather facts, and form a conclusion at the end.

She follows his path through the web pages. It looks like the first picture Izuku picked was of female genitalia, very simply drawn but recognisable nonetheless. It leads to a wiki article which assuages some of her niggling worries. He's just being Izuku again, learning as he draws breath.

She notes that Izuku spent a lot of time on the article but didn't scroll down very far. She doesn't blame him - a lot of the language is far above what a five-year-old could be expected to understand. Instead, a hyperlink to 'simple wiki' is purpled out in the page's sidebar. She clicks it.

Izuku has read this new page properly.

On a hunch, Inko turns her attention to '0th Notebook' on the desk - the one Izuku has saved for his own quirk - and flips to the first page in the booklet.

'Girl Parts' is underlined at the top left. 'Quirk?' is scrawled on the top right.

As she reads through his observations, her brow begins to crease.

 

 

Inko wants to cry.

Izuku was dead-set on becoming a hero with an awesome quirk. But the one he got was... turning into a girl?

It seems too cruel that Izuku, the kindest, smartest person she's ever known, would be gifted the least combat-applicable quirk possible, when he wants so badly to be a hero like his idols.

And yet Izuku himself doesn't seem to mind. He's just as carefree as always.

She can't tell if he isn't aware of how... weak, for lack of a better term, his quirk is; or if it hasn't occurred to him that he won't get a chance to re-roll his quirk.

Either way, she needs to let him down gently.

Blinking through the blurriness in her eyes, Inko makes a call to the doctor.

 

 

"It's odd," the doctor tells them. "He's long past the age at which a quirk would manifest, and yet his toe doesn't have the extra joint to identify him as quirkless..."

"But what does that mean for him?" Inko asks. "He's wanted to be a hero for as long as he can remember!"

The doctor shrugs, eyes falling pityingly on Izuku. She hates having those eyes directed at her son, but in the end, this will be the best for him, so she endures it. "I'm sorry to say that probably isn't possible. Izuku likely has what's known as an invisible quirk - one so obscure, difficult to activate or with so little usability, that it's impossible to identify. Ninety-nine times of a hundred, having an invisible quirk is as good as being quirkless in a combat situation."

Inko's eyes well up immediately. To hear that from the doctor himself makes it so much more real.

Her son's eyes stay dry.

Instead of the tears she expected, he ducks his head. He's frowning at the floor, but it's clear that this isn't anger - his mind is working away. And when he looks up, the fire burning in his eyes is one that Inko regrets ever trying to extinguish.

Later, Inko reflects on the meeting with a wry smile.

After all is said and done, who would Izuku be without his unwavering spirit?

 

 

Inko wants so dearly to be a part of this new part of Izuku's life.

But after calling the doctor like that, she can't bring herself to tell him that she'd already known about his quirk. That she'd tried to quash that fire. She knows it's silly, that should she sit him down and explain her reasoning, he'd forgive her immediately and life would continue.

But this is Izuku's quirk - his power, his responsibility, and his discovery. The moment she tells him that she knows, she'll be taking his choices away from him.

He doesn't deserve that.

And neither does she.

So she bottles up her questions, her worries, her doubts. She can deal with them some other time.

Right now, Izuku's dream is waiting for him. And who is she to deny him?

 

 

Izuku's quirk is scary, Inko reflects, face ashen.

When he'd crawled into the kitchen, almost literally dead on his feet (not that he was able to stand up anyway), she'd stayed calm and gotten him some water and easily-digestible food, and sent him to lie down on the couch. She knows the symptoms of starvation and dehydration when she sees them, after all.

Izuku's been a girl for a week. She can only tell sometimes, like when he's at the table and sitting with his legs crossed in a different way, or when he's walking with more of a bounce to his step than usual, but those small moments are enough to know that he's staying as a girl.

So when Izuku, most likely male, stumbles in struggling to so much as exist, Inko knows that it's something to do with his quirk. She can only guess, but she thinks it's likely that the form he's currently in is the one that gets all the nutrients. So when he stayed as a girl, his male form was starved to near-death.

Scary.

Over the next months after Izuku's recovery, Inko watches him closely. He's clearly figured something out, because now his male and female form eat half of each meal each.

But he's still losing weight, so she doubles his portions. And the paperwork to get income support for this unexpected quirk is well worth the reward of seeing Izuku properly healthy for the first time since he got his quirk last year.

 

 

She still follows his internet history.

He's been delving deeper into the internet recently, spending more time online. LGBTQ+ websites become more commonplace as time goes on, but she can't tell what exactly he's been learning from them. There's so much information on each page, some of it only vaguely relating to what Inko knows of Izuku's quirk, that she can't get a clear idea of what he's looking for. Sometimes she wonders if his interest on this subject might eclipse that of heroics.

His trail branches ever outwards. First transgenderism, then sexuality, queerness, pride flags, and then before she knows it he's pursuing subjects that escape her (admittedly limited) knowledge. Pronouns, hormone therapy, dysphoria, and all manner of subjects are all explored. And as he goes further, she follows him on his wild ride, forming her own conclusions and doing her own extra research while never knowing what Izuku is taking away from all this.

But she's glad. This is something that Izuku can fall back on when Katsuki gets him down - which still isn't very often, since Izuku has a head three feet thick and Katsuki at least has a little respect for his unknown quirk. But whenever Izuku seems down, all it takes is a few-hours-long computer session to get him back to his thoughtful, happy-go-lucky self.

Inko's glad that Izuku has this outlet, she truly is... but he keeps silent about the subject. Whenever someone mentions their daughter being a 'girly girl' or a 'tomboy' - or anything relating to gender expression, really - his ears perk up and he gets this contemplative look; but he never actually says anything.

It'd be nice, she thinks, to get some insight into his mind.

And then one day, he leaves a pile of notebooks on the computer desk.

 

 

Honestly, she hadn't expected him to forget these again. The last time was more than four years ago, and even back then it had been a fluke - although she hadn't realised just how lucky she'd been to get a glimpse of that book at the time.

Inko grasps the air, coaxing the pile towards herself. There are three separate notebooks, and they're all part of Izuku's new 'Hero Analysis' series: the familiar All Might-themed (in both coloring and content) No. 1; No. 3, the latest of his works, which seemed to be about a hero called Eraser Head; and the coveted No. 0, for Izuku's own quirk.

She cracks No. 0 open to a random page, and is greeted by an oddly colored Pride flag, powerfully recreated with felt-tips. It's been so long since Izuku researched the flags that she would have to rack her brains for the meaning - if Izuku hadn't already provided some helpful notes in pink pencil, on top of each color.

It's the Non-binary Pride flag. Yellow for genders outside male or female, white for multiple genders, purple for combinations of male and female, and black for the absence of gender.

Even after all these years, Inko isn't certain how someone can be multiple genders, but she supposes that's just because she isn't one of those people herself - just as she can't imagine how someone could dedicate their entire lives to a single passion.

In both cases, her son is living proof that these kinds of people exist.

She flips to the next page, half-expecting another set of bright stripes, but a quick search indicates that the Non-binary flag is the only one in the notebook. In fact, there are several small doodles across the next few pages, of various animals, all using the yellow, white, purple, black color scheme of that particular flag.

So is that how Izuku identifies, then? Nonbinary? She supposes that he's probably part of the purple section, given his quirk.

There's a note on the previous page: 'pronouns depend on current form - use 'they' when talking about me overall'. So Izuku calls... themself(?) 'he' when he's a boy, or 'she' when she's a girl.

She wonders again how anyone could possibly be comfortable using different sets of pronouns, but she squashes the thought. She's Izuku's mother, and he doesn't need someone to judge him like that. He needs someone to- wait.

They need someone to support them.

That'll take some getting used to, but she'll bear it for Izuku.

So lost in her thoughts is she, that she almost forgets about Izuku's open notebook. But eventually she turns back to it, flipping to yet another random page. It's the pride flag again. That page is much thicker than the others, so that makes sense. She flips it again.

Finally, some details!

 

 

Izuku must be a genius.

There's no way of getting around that, even had she wanted to. If he applied to any of UA's courses besides the Hero course, he'd easily pass their exams.

They. If they applied.

But still. Izuku has a quirk with a single effect: turn into a girl and back. And yet he's - they've done so much with it, and thought of so much more to do, that Inko can't even say it's a weakness anymore.

It starts off fairly tame: swapping clothes whenever they switch between male and female. But then it goes on to suggest storing items in the same way, and there's a big check-mark next to that, so clearly it worked.

Then it mentions training, and separating different types of training for each form; that explains where they've been going for hours each day, then. But there's also a section that mentions how injuries and exhaustion don't pass between forms, so they could outlast opponents easily, and come out with fewer injuries per form. It even mentions how sneak attacks are much less effective against Izuku.

And then there are a few other suggestions: disguise, immunity to certain quirks, teleportation?! How would that even work? Not that it matters, because that half-check-mark with 'need more practice' clearly shows that it did work!

She re-amends her previous thought: If they applied to any of UA's courses, they'd easily pass their exams.

Izuku must be a genius, and Inko couldn't be prouder.

 

 

Izuku's twelve when they hit puberty as a girl. Inko vividly remembers noticing, because she comes home blushing to the roots of her hair, a hand clutched protectively over her chest. The other hand is bright red. If she had to hazard a guess, she'd say that someone inadvertantly touched her chest.

Which leads Inko to notice the slight bumps under Izuku's shirt.

It pains her to do this, but she mentions noticing a difference in Izuku. It's only a half-truth - she's been able to tell Izuku's current gender for a good year or two now - but it has the desired effect.

Izuku changes into a boy, and from that moment Inko doesn't see her as a girl again, except out of the corner of her eye. It's necessary though. If Izuku doesn't realise the difference between their two forms, they're likely to be caught by someone else in the future. This way, they'll be more careful from the get-go.

It still hurts.

But even as secretive as Izuku is (as we both are, a voice calls from the back of her mind), she can still help. She can still be there for them.

And that starts with making her comfortable, she thinks, browsing the web for sports bras.

 

 

She's used to Izuku changing gender every other moment during a haircut. She's told the hairdresser that it's probably some kind of deja-vu quirk, which causes their body to periodically rewind, repairing any changes made. The dresser believes her and is careful to get everything.

This time, Izuku doesn't change. From the way he shuffles in his seat, his male form is the one getting the haircut, and his female form is going without.

Izuku's smile when they're finished is filled with mischief, a strange look to see on her child. But she thinks she knows what's going on.

She starts brainstorming girls' names, because Izuku is terrible at naming things, and that includes herself. That she wants to have a little say in their life is neither here or there.

 

 

Izuku's training is picking up, and their grades are dropping noticeably. Still, they're well on track for completing the written test, so Inko's glad they're focussing on the practice exam.

She can't overstate (or overthink) how proud she is every time she sees him. She hugs him even more often than usual now, and while she can't really get an accurate assessment of his build through his increasingly battered uniform, she can tell that all the training has done him a world of good.

She can't get any kind of assessment on her, but she imagines that Izuku's girl form is just as well-off, from the glimpses she gets during meals when Izuku thinks she isn't looking.

Izuku didn't win the quirk lottery, Inko will readily admit. But when you can take two-thousand yen, invest it and get hundreds of millions in return, the lottery doesn't seem all that important anymore. And metaphorically, that's exactly what Izuku's done.

Inko's so proud, and she's not sure she'll ever get over that.

Not that she wants to.

Chapter Text

Had she walked just slightly quicker, Izuku might have gone straight into the embrace of the slime villain as he slopped through the sewer grate.

Eugh, is all she can think as she closes notebook No. 6. He's probably absolutely coated in germs.

"Oh, a vessel," the villain cackles, slowly encroaching like she wouldn't notice when he's right in front of her. "Not what I'd usually go for, but I can't complain given the circumstances-"

He cuts off abruptly, lunging towards her, and she deftly slips to the side. "W-who are you?" she asks shakily, honestly terrified of him - but she just needs to stall, right? Stall until someone else can get help?

She glances around, but she can't see anyone else around around here. "None of your business," the villain snaps. He clearly knows what her plan is, because a wave of gunk slams into her before she can react, the uncontrolled force flipping her around and knocking her prone.

Her chin clacks heavily against the floor and she lets out a whoof of air, but despite the spots in her vision, she makes another attempt to move-

"TEXAS..."

Izuku automatically checks her mind for All Might's collateral record. Thankfully, there's nothing there to remember, so instead of fleeing as she might from another hero's area of effect (say, Endeavor), she spins on her knees to watch first-hand her childhood hero at work.

"SMASH!"

She's blown onto her rump by the wind, but the villain fares much, much worse. The lone set of teeth clattering on the floor is a testimony to that. It's also vaguely disturbing to look at.

All Might stands proudly for a moment, dressed in oversized yet tightly-fitting civilian wear that clearly shows this is cutting into his personal time. Izuku feels a little guilty, especially with what she knows about him.

But wait, she can help him!

With insane speed and accuracy that nobody else without a very specific quirk could match, All Might scoops the remainder of the goop into a few bottles - clearly Texas Smash vaporised a large quantity of it, which probably meant that it has a lower or equal boiling point to water, considering All Might's current average power output. The eyes and mouth still move of their own volition, though, so the brain is likely able to shift to inhabit undamaged parts of the gunk.

An amazing quirk like that, and this guy's a villain? That's actually kind of upsetting.

"Indeed it is," All Might agrees with his signature grin turned in her direction, and Izuku tunes back into the real world, realising with a blush that she's been muttering again. "You have an incredibly sharp mind, deducing all of that from what little you must have seen from the villain. You wish to be a hero, yes?"

"O-of course!" Izuku nods with a beaming smile. She's talking to All Might! "You've been my inspiration for so long, I- wait, let me just-"

She cuts off, focussing on her backpack and the notebook splayed open on the floor. That one's Ingenium, she recalls, deftly folding it closed and piling it into the back, before turning her attention to the other books inside as she leafs through them. Japanese, English, Mathematics, Notebook No. 0-

Wait, All Might's getting ready to jump! She can't let him leave now, even if his time limit is almost up! She needs to help-

Suddenly she's flying through the air, grappling onto the leg of her idol.

At first she locks onto the leg with a death-grip, but then the rustling of her still-open bag draws her attention.

Just when No. A - the study on famous non-combat quirks - is about to fly from its still-open storage, she realises that she's already been given the kinetic energy that she needs to follow the same arc as All Might, so she's free to make a grab for it without losing him.

She does.

Once No. A is back in its rightful place, she figures that there's no point wasting this extra time, so she dives back into the bag to search for No. 1.

 

 

 

This kid is insane, is Toshinori's first thought when she latches onto his leg just as he makes his leap into the distance, which was supposed to let him escape and keep his secret hidden.

Then she lets go.

To search through her backpack.

Logically, that makes a certain amount of sense. Toshinori's never been especially academically inclined, but even he knows how momentum works. But still, it's difficult to believe that someone would place so much trust in him - even being the symbol of peace that he is - that they'd let go of their lifeline like that.

That she'd do that for something as mundane as protecting her books... this kid's kind of scary.

With a sigh, he gently wraps a hand around her waist and pulls her towards himself. It wouldn't do to have her Smash her head into the concrete, after all.

Idly, he wonders which state he'd need to call on in that instance. Probably Florida; it'd fit right in with their wacky news stories.

They land fairly lightly on top of a roof - he's made that exact jump thrice during his time here, fortunately enough - and the girl stumbles and regains her balance without ever looking away from the books she's been sorting through - and it looks like she found the one she's looking for, if her cry of "a-ha!" is anything to go by.

He can already feel the tell-tale strain of his body's attempt to return to normal. But he can't just run, can he? He needs to give a proper excuse or this kid might just try to figure out why the No. 1 Hero fled without so much as a goodbye.

Granted he's already tried that (and it was a dumb, split-second decision, he chastises himself), but to do it again would really be pushing his luck.

The girl takes a calming breath, and holds up one of her many notebooks. "All Might, I know you're not at full strength anymore, and I think I..."

...What?

What?!

Why does she know that? How could she know that? She's just some kid! Why did he have to cross paths with the only person to figure out his weakness by herself in such a long time? Why is she a kid?!

She's stopped talking now, but try as Toshinori Might to play back the conversation, it seems to have passed straight between his ears as he had his little breakdown.

The notebook's still hovering in front of him courtesy of a tiny hand, so to take his mind off the fact that this insane girl knows about his injury, he takes it.

Upsettingly familiar skeletal arms come into view.

Ah.

"I think I'll have to rework some of my ideas," the girl murmurs, peering at his true form from several different angles, and he feels strangely exposed despite wearing clothes big enough to parachute with. "I knew you had some kind of injury - you always favor your left side since five years ago, after all - but I didn't realise it was preventing you from eating properly too. I assume you've already been seen by doctors soyoushouldprobablyignorethepartsabou..." Here she devolves into muttering that even Toshinori, with his endless experience dealing with starstruck gibbering, can't begin to decode. She pulls out a pen, as if to jot something down in yet another notebook (And how many of those does she have, Toshinori finds himself wondering).

He sighs, finally looking to the cover of the book in his hand.

"Hero Analysis 2.0, Number 1: All Might," he reads. He thinks he'd be more flattered if it weren't for the fact that this kid knows his secret (and he knows he's hung up on that fact, but it's kind of a big deal that a mere child has enough information to figure that out, given that his enemies could certainly do the same).

He flips to the first page, which jumps right into the thick of things with a mostly blank page, the word Alabama written at the top. He flips the page again, and realises when the next two page spread has the titles Alaska and Arizona, that it's a catalogue of his current and potential Smash moves.

Now he actually is flattered, as he flips over to North Carolina. It's one of his lesser-used attacks these days - Carolina Smash is his go-to chopping move, since he can't get much power behind a single-handed chop anymore - but clearly the kid's done some research. In fact, there's a list of all five times All Might has publically performed the attack since his injury, with an estimated power output for each one, and a comparison with pre-injury versions of the same move.

That explains it then. This girl is some kind of analytical genius.

Wondering just how deep this rabbit hole goes, Toshinori bookmarks that page with a finger, and flips all the way over to South Carolina, the move's left-handed variant. If his hunch is correct... it is. The kid (he really needs to get a name) notes how little he's used South Carolina Smash, how he always uses it against the weakest enemies, and on a little scrap of paper which has been painstakingly pasted in, pieces together where exactly the injury might be, and that All Might wants to hide his weakness and present himself as an unshakeable pillar.

It's a frighteningly accurate assessment; she's guessed wrongly that the injury was on his back since he's actually less careful with his front than he strictly should be, but otherwise he'd think she was spouting facts instead of theories. Toshinori knows how little information there is of him as a living, breathing being as opposed to some god among men. The ability to spot such well-hidden flaws, especially through the haze of hero-worship that the girl clearly has based on her starry eyes and All Might-themed rucksack, is a skill that many heroes could only dream of rivalling.

But he still doesn't see why she gave this to him. It's clear that she doesn't just want to be praised, with a mind like that. She obviously believes that whatever's in this book will help him. And despite the tens of specialists who aren't able to help an iota, he finds himself optimistic.

So he turns forward the pages, through all the other US states, past the gushing praise and what he already knows, through the evolution of his hero costume, and finally comes to a stop at the page titled simply: Ideas.

It takes a moment to decipher the seemingly random sets of words like 'wide-area force, p67', 'aerial recoil dissipation, p82' and 'exo-skeleton a-la Skeletoni, p59', but with a glance back at the title, he realises:

These are Ideas.

 

 

 

When All Might emits a gurgling cough and spits blood to the side, Izuku isn't sure what to do. They'd never expected to meet their hero in the first place, but to see him in such a weak position, having hitched a ride on his leg just minutes before...

She's known about his injury for a few months now, but this hits a little too close to home.

"Is this normal?" she asks warily. She doesn't want want to panic when this is probably a common occurrence for him, but at the same time, coughing blood isn't usually a sign of impeccable health.

"Yeah, nothing new to see here. Most of my stomach is gone, this is kind of a given. I've gotten used to it." He grins at her though, eyes wild with energy that she hadn't seen in him since his All Might form boiled away. "I'd all but given up ever staying a Hero, but these ideas of yours are truly magnificent! I'd wager that this exo-skeleton design..." he points to the corresponding diagram, and Izuku can't help but blush and look down, "could keep me in the business for at least another two years, and the training regimes might keep me going for five! What's your name, young lady?"

Izuku freezes. She knows that All Might might want to find her in the future to discuss some of the weirder ideas. But if he does that by knocking on the door, Izuku's mom will answer. Their mom thinks he's a boy but All Might thinks she's a girl...

But if he asks for a different name, their mom might get suspicious.

"I'm Izu," she states firmly, silently thanking her mom for going through all those baby names. "Midoriya Izumi."

"My name is Yagi Toshinori. I can't thank you enough for this opportunity."

All Might bows.

Izuku's world breaks.

Chapter Text

After the encounter with their greatest hero, even swapping bodies does little to help Izuku's state of mind. Well, the lowered heart-rate and lack of physical stress help at first, but then he reboots the accursed process known as thought, and ends up managing to convince his male body into just as panicked a state as Izumi.

Izumi. Now there's something else to think about. He latches onto the name and breathes deeply, his heartbeat slowing to a steady thrum.

It's a nice name. They've decided before today, thanks to mom, that if they ever need a name for their female form, Izumi would be the one they'd go for. It's a little obvious, but the ability to be called "Izu" in both forms will help to cut down the chance of their quirk being discovered in certain situations. They think.

Izuku has no doubt that they'll need to work some miracles if they want to keep their identities separate for much longer. For one, if All Might ever decides to visit their mother, the results would not be pretty. But if they can keep the two separated, they can hopefully prevent any conversation between them from becoming long enough to realise the inconsistencies.

At least until Izuku is ready to tell.

Izuku's thoughts are blasted out through his ears by a strangely familiar boom that resounds through the air. His head whips in the direction of the noise, and even through the towering skyline he can see part of what must be a gigantic cloud of smoke.

Usually, this wouldn't be something Izuku goes to see, but if they know anything about All Might, it's that he'll risk his own safety to bring down whatever villain disturbed the peace, regardless of any limitations of his body. So he switches over to Izumi, takes a moment to calm down her thumping heart, and sets off at what most would call a mad dash - though to her it's a fairly leisurely run - towards the towering cloud that blots out the sky.

 

 

There's a bunch of heroes here already.

She spots Kamui Woods, carrying half a dozen citizens to safety with his branches. With the force of periodic fiery explosions rattling nearby windows, he probably can't apprehend the villain for fear of being set alight.

Backdraft can't do much directly either. He's needed elsewhere, with the explosions causing so many fires nearby.

Mount Lady can't even get onto the scene without causing property damage. She won't be much help - she should probably hurry to get backup. Maybe even carry them here.

Izumi spots a hero she doesn't know. He's too slow to make a proper attack on whatever villain is nearby and his quirk just seems to be enhanced strength concentrated in his arms, but he's certainly using it wisely - just as he positions himself seemingly randomly, a chunk of building crumbles and he's able to shield the citizens below from the majority of rubble. She can't help but wonder how much easier his job would be if he learned how to use his arm strength to pull himself around more quickly, but he's certainly doing a good job.

She finally runs out of breath and breaks into a cough, forced to switch to Izuku to let Izumi catch her breath. As he weaves between the crowds, impeded a little by his slightly bulkier figure, he can't quite get a glimpse of the villain...

And then he does.

 

 

He knows.

Villain: sludge. Hostage: Kacchan. Time to plan: none.

Danger: risk of outing Izumi. Losing that shield. Dying.

It doesn't matter. He's running anyway.

His form flickers and his rucksack is suddenly empty, the contents stored with his quirk. His mind goes to the dumbbells he has, and he feels the bag's weight shift. Perfect. He shrugs it off his back and just as the villain starts cackling, he swings.

Four teeth come out.

Dimly, he's fascinated by the blood oozing from his enemy's gums. Where does it come from if the rest of him is sludge? There's no time for theorising though, so he takes the opportunity, as the villain howls with pain, to vanish the dumbbells, open the zipper, and swing again.

This time, the bag catches and when he wrenches on it, a big yellow eyeball is torn from its socket - or whatever classifies as a socket, at least. The villain's shout turns into a screech of anger and he can't help but grin. Izuku could never beat this guy in a full-on fight, but with a bargaining chip? Well, it depends on how much he values depth-perception.

Abruptly remembering Kacchan, Izuku swaps over to their female form, glancing at their long-time bully. He's still struggling to get free, hopefully too hard to have gotten a good look at his savior. His mouth is freed for a moment as he tears away at the slime, and Izuku watches him grimly suck in a breath.

"Yhou!" The villain cries, recognising her new form. He makes to lunge for Izumi, but a raised fist, pointed towards the wriggling backpack, stops him short.

"Drop the boy and I won't send this eye to another dimension," she tells him. Her voice is shaking from the previous run and the fear, but given what she's already accomplished, she doesn't think it undermines her authority much.

The villain snarls. "Haf 'im," he lisps through his bloody mouth, and she's sent sprawling as Kacchan is ejected bodily into her stomach. The rucksack is torn from her hands with the eye still inside, but she's still smiling.

Izumi lost her bargaining chip, but in his anger, the villain lost both his hostage and power. And that means...

"Surrender now!" Shouts Kamui Woods, finally able to engage.

Pinned underneath a thoroughly stunned Kacchan, Izumi grins. This is a victory.

 

 

Izumi knows Kacchan well enough to realise that he doesn't suspect a thing. He looks frustrated and humiliated at his inability to fend off the villain, but rather than exploding into a flurry of curses, he gives Izumi a once-over and a curt nod as they watch the villain, restrained by Backdraft's water manipulation and being carted off into a police car. Both eyes are accounted for and fully functional... the same can't be said for his teeth.

"Planning on becoming a hero?" Kacchan asks, and she ducks her head, half to nod and half out of embarrassment. Not much use denying it after pulling those moves. Kacchan would figure her out immediately. "Good. I'll see you in UA. Don't fucking embarrass us, bag-girl," he warns, and she knows the implication: Don't fail the exam, on threat of death.

Then he walks away.

She blinks.

Oh no.

Worst case scenario.

They've met someone in both of their forms, and that someone has a separate opinion of each form. And that someone just happens to be Kacchan.

If he were anyone else, they'd just pull him to the side and spill the beans at the earliest opportunity. No use getting into some huge, sprawling misunderstanding and having to pick up the pieces afterwards. Once that kind of damage has been done, it's better to try and make an ally out of the situation rather than risking making an enemy.

But Kacchan? Tell him that the person who saved him, whom he's been forced to respect as an equal, is also the weak, defenseless Deku that he puts down on a weekly basis?

No way. Leave it a few years and he might forget about one of their forms. Or they could pass it off as a test of Kacchan's observation skills, or spout some nonsense about respecting him too much to feed him the information.

Yeah, that could work. If Kacchan starts to respect Izumi enough to hear her out without blowing her face off after the big reveal.

...

Okay, so maybe it couldn't work.

But with the only other option being to light the half-second fuse that is Bakugou Katsuki at point-blank range?

She'll take her chances.

 

 

It's amazing how long the time has stretched. Between meeting All Might, having him bow to them, fighting a villain (twice!), being alternately praised and berated by pro heroes, saving Kacchan and getting into a horrible tangle of relationships that they just know will come back to bite them in the worst possible way... it's only been about an hour.

That can't be right.

Izuku pulls his phone from the pocket dimension yet again, reads the time yet again, and vanishes it with a sigh when the first two digits are, yet again, 16.

There's no way it shouldn't be bedtime already. His mind's certainly ready for bed; it takes a conscious effort to carry on walking in the direction of home, rather than just curling up in the nearest tree and drifting off.

The relaxing drizzle of rain and the slight chill of droplets on his arms certainly aren't helping.

When he finally gets home, his mother is already serving a gigantic dinner. Thankfully it's a slow-cooked curry today, so it hasn't gone cold in his absence.

He chokes on the first mouthful when the news catches the attention of his sleepy brain:

Teenager Performs Brutal Rescue from Slime Villain!

The onscreen reporter is speaking, backed by an extraordinarily familiar, and mostly destroyed, alleyway. "...Villain attacks have been more common in recent years than ever before, but this is one attack that certainly didn't go as planned.

An unnamed young man was taken hostage here this afternoon, by a villain with a body made almost entirely of sludge - last seen fleeing from All Might himself in the early afternoon. What could have turned into a sad affair for many however, ended in a no-holds-barred beatdown courtesy of a young stranger with some devastating techniques!

The hostage situation had been going on for a few minutes, with nearby heroes's quirks being unsuited for the area or the hostage's powerful explosive quirk. That's when a young figure was seen sprinting from the gathered crowd into the alleyway where this all took place.

Only glimpses of the fight itself were seen, but the villain came out of the fray missing four teeth and an entire eye, which the kid apparently tore right from his head!

The villain has been detained and now has his eye back in place, and is receiving treatment from within a cozy jail cell for his missing teeth. Meanwhile, the stranger is unlikely to be identified due to conflicting reports as to their appearance. While eyewitness accounts from many bystanders describe the person as a well-built teenage boy, the teen that the heroes found involved in the fight was clearly a petite but otherwise plain girl with no defining features.

No matter who this mysterious person is though, the heroes on the scene had glowing praise for their quick actions, despite the apparently violent approach."

The wooden mask of Kamui Woods flashes onscreen, and Izuku automatically rubs the back of his head, flushed. First the No. 1 Hero bows to them, and now Kamui Woods is about to praise them live on air?

Forget the fights; if this is how heroes are treated, Izuku might just drop from a heart attack one day.

Kamui Woods hms at the camera. "Whoever this girl was, she showed incredible resourcefulness and cunning for someone her apparent age. Rather than fighting the villain head-on, she took him by surprise and struck fast, debilitating him by aiming for his weak-point, then most likely using that distraction to steal an eye and hold it ransom for the hostage's life.

It was a cold, calculated move and might seem more fitting of a vigilante than a hero, but it ensured that all parties left the commotion relatively safely, and for that she is to be commended. I, for one, am glad she intervened when she did, and I look forward to working with her if she decides to one day become a fully-fledged hero."

That heart attack might be coming sooner rather than later.

Finally remembering the bowl - sized for people with gigantification quirks - of slowly cooling curry, Izuku takes a spoon and wolfs half of it down, thankful that their mom's left the room as they switch to Izumi for the other half.

 

 

There are ten months until the UA entrance exams.

Izuku isn't worried about the written exams. From searching online, they can tell that it's mostly 'explain your reasoning' questions. After keeping a hero journal and analysing the quirks of heroes, that's the type they're best at! In fact, common to each year of the test is a series of questions involving the in-depth analysis of the user's own quirk, which for Izuku is essentially just free points!

They really have to thank Froppy properly for that last bit of info; she's apparently an aspiring hero herself - a rarity on the Trans forums, given that the job usually requires a certain level of positive body image - so she's been going up to heroes left and right, and bluntly asking them for advice.

According to her, over half the heroes with any good advice went through UA and recommend that she tries hard to do the same. And one of the more common instructions so far is to 'know your quirk, inside and out'.

So the written exams will be a cinch. Well, assuming they're not forced to give up the secret of Izumi. But since there's only one hero they know of with a quirk-identifying quirk, and she was still doing full-time hero work around the time of this year's exam (and they only know that because the Wild Wild Pussycats are a hot topic on the Trans forum, with Tiger as a member), Izuku has to assume that she won't be in UA next year either, and that their secret is safe.

No, what Izuku's worried about now is the practical.

Dagobah beach is almost entirely clear now, and while even more people came to dump their trash than usual as it became obvious that it would all be cleared out anyway, that's starting to peter out as it becomes more and more difficult to hide anything new in the few remaining heaps of scrap metal and plastic. Soon enough, Izuku will need to find a new way to train.

They can't afford proper training equipment, and they can't bear not clearing up the last specks on an otherwise stunning beach... but without either of those options, how can they grow stronger in time for the exams?

And then the problem solves itself when during his final cleanup session, hidden beneath a mustard-splattered but probably still functional microwave, is a wad of bills with a note on top:

'As thanks for a job well-done. We fixed up the stuff and sold it off, and this is some of what we got.'

He already feels tears welling up, scanning the beach and the nearby road but finding nobody. And, well, he's not going to take it for granted but he has to know how much there is here, right?

So he counts.

And counts.

300,000 Yen.

The tears fall from his face now, making new splotches on the still-damp sand below, but even so he's smiling. "Somebody noticed!" he realises, and it sounds dumb because he's been doing this for years so obviously someone noticed, but he'd never considered that somebody would notice and remember.

And multiple somebodies too, according to the note.

And now Izuku doesn't have to worry. This is plenty of money to buy whatever training equipment - proper training equipment - that their bodies might need.

Some weights, a... an arm-pulley-thing machine...

They don't know the first thing about training machines, they realise sheepishly.

"On second thought," he says to himself half in jest, "maybe finding a new dump would be easier."

Chapter Text

Technically Izuku can still only store things which are light enough to pick up.

That doesn't mean that they can only store that much at any one time though. Theoretically, they could store an entire car if they took each piece of it individually.

Of course, there is some kind of limit. Izuku's quirk reacts strongly to their thoughts. Izuku can only remember a certain number of objects at once, so that's the limit to how many objects they can store.

They can trick their memory though, allowing them to store more than they normally would. They could store 600 pencils with no problem at all, as long as all the pencils look identical. If the pencils are bound together into 6 packs of 100, and the packs are also identical, they become even easier to store. They also don't need to know the exact details of each object, although the stronger an image they have in their head, the more space is freed up for other things - so their notebooks and clothes, which they know front and back and have been storing on and off for years on end, are fair game.

So with all that in mind, Izuku makes the natural assumption that the rest of their quirk depends on their mind too. Which is great, because the mind is much less concrete with rules than the laws of physics tend to be.

And that's what brings them to this.

Izumi burns her glare onto the mop in her hands, and yet it refuses to do what she wants. It's been a while since they've expanded their quirk directly, invested into physical training as they were. They've almost forgotten the frustration of wanting to do something and just not being able.

Almost. This does bring back some very irritating memories after all.

Clearly this isn't working. Maybe their brain needs some sort of kick-start. A point to focus on.

She swings the mop experimentally, considering the weight in her hands. It's one of those cheap, old-fashioned wooden ones which have become more common recently, since plastics can be so hard to come by - quirks that can create such complex synthetic materials are among the rarest, while quirks that accelerate tree growth or otherwise allow the creation of wood are only eclipsed in number by elemental kinesis quirks.

She shakes her head. Focus!

The mop. It's wooden. The handle's a fair amount longer than she is tall. As Izuku, it would still tower over him. She swings it again, and with the weight on the end, it almost pulls itself from her hands.

Oh, that works.

She focusses hard on that distinction. The evenly weighted handle and the centrifugal... centripetal..? The drag of the mop's head. Whatever that drag is specifically, she doesn't need to know except in concept.

Still waving it around like she's taking part in some odd ritual, she concentrates...

And as her form flickers to Izuku for just a moment, the handle vanishes, leaving the head to drop onto the ground below. Perfect.

And yet...

"I just got comfortable," Izumi mutters under her breath, gazing balefully at the remainder of the mop sitting on the grass several feet below. it's not often you find such an amazing climbing tree, and she bemoans her misfortune at having to leave her spot in the branches as she attempts (and fails) to convince herself into an upright position so she can retrieve it.

Whatever. She can collect it later.

For now, she spawns notebook No. 0 and a pen into her hands, turning to the list of experiments so she can jot down her latest findings. She flicks through the pages to the Potential Uses section - now a crammed mess of a two-page spread - and puts a big checkmark next to 'Splitting objects in half'. After some consideration, she addends it with 'needs practice, possibly requires tactile distinction between parts'.

She's about to close the book and vanish it when the next line catches her eye: 'Ranged storage'.

She remembers this one. The idea is that if Izuku can visualise the air as a sort of chain attached to whatever object they want to store, they can then store the chain and the object together - in practice meaning that they could store the object from a range, or even around corners.

Even for their usual ideas, this one's extremely unlikely to come to fruition. Besides possibly the air in their lungs, Izuku's only really stored solids and the occasional fully-contained liquid and gas. Open air is difficult to imagine being connected to anything, let alone as a rope long enough to be useful.

No time like the present though, right?

 

 

In the end, this idea turns out similarly to the teleportation: technically plausible, but far too difficult to achieve in the forseeable future without a mental workaround.

She only marks it with a half-check, but it's not as frustrating a failure as she's used to, because in the end she does get another pretty cool skill to play around with.

She tests it out again. Imagining the air as a rope doesn't come at all naturally, but if she drags her hand through it, she can certainly visualise it as a series of particularly light blankets.

She separates out in her mind the volume of the blankets that she wants to retrieve, and with a swish of her arm to get the particles spiralling the way she wants, she grasps and pulls. The surrounding air collapses into the sudden void with a sharp crack, and she smiles. It isn't especially powerful, but it could certainly disorient a target - especially if used right next to their ears from a distance.

She has the idea to use it on a person's lungs to literally steal their breath for a moment, but dismisses it immediately. Assuming they'd be able to visualise the complexity of the lungs in the first place, the vacuum would easily damage them and probably cause scarring.

Besides, this opens up another, more potentially destructive possibility. If they can store air, that also means they can release it too. And since air, unlike solids, can be pressurised...

She holds out her hand and dredges up the several volumes of air she's stored over the past hour. She overlays them into the same space in her mind's eye, and releases them all.

Honestly, she probably should've expected that she'd be flung bodily from the tree's boughs. Still, she jots it down as a success even as her back vehemently begs to differ.

 

 

Toshinori stares at his crisp, newly-bought notebook with no small amount of trepidation. He can't remember opening a book with the intention of writing more than a signature in it in... probably since his school days, actually.

For a mere pen to feel so alien and wrong in his hand nowadays is a little depressing.

That he's already gotten stuck on the title is even more so.

Eventually, he settles on just emulating young Midoriya with the name 'Self-Analysis No. 1: All Might', equipping his hero name with that iconically uncooperative V of hair.

Then he gives up.

No, he retreats to regain his bearings. Heroes don't give up.

Regardless, he turns back to young Midoriya's (discomfortingly perfect) handwriting. So many of the ideas here have some real potential to increase his time as a hero, and he's trying to list them in order of that potential in his new notebook, but it's daunting to say the least.

He's not scared. He's just apprehensive of missing or mis-interpreting a good idea.

...Okay, he's scared. He can admit that much, at least.

He pushes his empty notebook away with a sigh. He can't just spend his time listing solutions to his problems when he could be testing them out instead. All this careful planning just isn't his style.

He skims across the cluttered page for an idea he remembers seeing on the day he was given the book.

"Aerial recoil dissipation, page 82," he reads aloud. He's not sure what this 'aerial' part is referring to, but the rest of it sounds perfect for increasing his time limit.

 

 

It is perfect. Almost too much so.

Toshinori isn't in his All Might form. He's not channeling the power of One For All through his body.

And yet he's never felt more powerful.

Yellow and blue lightning crackles through the air around him, barely contained by what he had just this morning considered a total mastery of his quirk. He can't move for fear of losing his grip on the unbridled energy.

If he loses that control, he could level the entire street in an instant. Easily.

Slowly, steadily, he reigns back One For All from its full 100%.

90.

80.

60.

35.

It's at a miniscule 7% when he finally feels able to walk freely while maintaining control over the airborne power. The fizz of energy now crackles just barely above his skin, and he marvels at the sensation of power so close to his fingertips but still so active. Like he's not containing it as he usually does, just allowing it to orbit him, surround him.

He takes a step towards the back garden's gate, hoping to get used to walking around like this, and when he trips on a rock he slips-

When Tsukauchi Naomasa arrives twenty minutes later, informed of a mysterious explosion in the area, he takes one look at the splintered remains of Toshinori's garden and raises an unimpressed eyebrow at him.

"Please come in," Toshinori offers sheepishly.

The eyebrow is not lowered.

 

 

"Do you think you can move?" Naomasa asks from the sidelines. Toshinori nods. "Safely?"

"...Yes," he replies. Naomasa clearly feels a twinge from his quirk, but he makes no comment on it because Toshinori's fairly certain that he can indeed move safely.

He's operating on just 5% now that they're practicing indoors. If he loses control at this power, the brick walls should just about hold and Naomasa shouldn't be too badly harmed - although he can't say the same about the furniture, as little as there is in his impromptu training room.

He takes a step forwards, careful to avoid slipping on the wooden floorboards.

His control holds.

"Amazing," Naomasa breathes. "I'd never realised just how powerful you are... even at 5% I can see the energy so clearly."

"This is news to me too," he reminds. "Young Midoriya's ideas are just remarkable."

"Midoriya? Is that the child who gave you that notepad?"

He gives a non-committal hum, too invested in holding his control to put much mind to the conversation. When the question finally filters into his brain, he nods with a grin at the memory. "Hitched a ride on my leg just to deliver it to me. She'll be at the top one day, I know it."

"You'd lift her there yourself if you needed to, wouldn't you," Naomasa states more than asks. He doesn't get a reply; they both know he's right.

Instead, Toshinori turns to the haphazardly-made training dummy across the room - an old but useful gift from a (comparatively) well-meaning if slightly stalker-ish ex-villain who's recently been released from prison. It's been empowered with her quirk to leave a duplicate if it would otherwise take damage, and it's made from natural materials so he can toss the broken copies without feeling guilty for the environment.

He can almost hear her voice, after all these years. He shudders.

He doesn't draw back a fist. He doesn't throw a punch. He just raises an arm towards the dummy and wills the energy forwards.

It responds as easily as ever, if less precisely. He feels the air around him rush ahead to strike the dummy, and the torso of the newly-spawned duplicate is blasted away with a crunch of crumbling straw.

He inspects his hand. No broken bones, no bruising. Nothing.

"Amazing."

He trains in near-silence for almost an hour after that, Naomasa keeping an eye out for any signs of stress or injury.

"Have you thought about choosing Midoriya as your successor?" his friend eventually asks him as he paces, acclimatising to the feeling of holding One For All without his body as a medium. He's still only on 5%, and even then it's surprisingly difficult to direct so much raw power through the constantly shifting air.

"I have."

"And?"

"I think it would put her in undue distress," he sighs, adding another dismembered training dummy to the growing pile. "To her it would be like I'm admitting defeat. And... I know I'll need to give up One For All someday, but that day's starting to seem further and further away. Is it selfish to want to keep it as long as I possibly can?"

"At this point, All Might-sama, you're more than entitled to a little selfishness. How many hundreds of people have you saved in the past year alone?"

"Far less than I could in a month before my injury," he laments. "I just feel like I've been giving less and less to society, and still taking more and more for myself. Does that make sense?"

"It makes the same kind of twisted sense you always make when you talk about your ’selfishness’,” Naomasa mutters with a grimace. “Without you there wouldn’t be a society; take the time to experience what you’ve worked so hard to save all these years.”

Naomasa’s said the same for so long. But for the first time, Toshinori listens.

”...I saw this coffee shop a few days ago if you have the time,” he finds himself saying.

Naomasa beams.

Chapter Text

It's finally time.

They think that, and yet the past 10 months have been something of a blur for Izuku. The countless hours of experimenting and training body, mind and quirk; thousands of failures and successes alike... those have all been compacted into a single speck in the corner of their mind.

Izumi's taken the bus to UA today, to save energy. She probably wouldn't have been winded even if she'd jogged all the way here - and they aren't even planning for Izumi to show up in the practical in the first place - but Izuku isn't taking any risks. They need to be ready: mind, body and backup body.

When she spots the front gates opened into UA's sprawling campus, she spins on her heel to check that the coast is clear. Izuku's male form completes the rotation with a bounce in his step at such a flawless transition, and he happily strides into the grounds as though nothing of interest has just taken place.

Inwardly, he's worried. He'd still be just as worried with all the preparation conceivable though, so he allows that thought to blunt his anxiety and goes over his plan of attack for the umpteenth time.

The written exams are going to be almost upsettingly easy, there's no getting around that. Izuku might as well be custom-built for these tests, going by all the information that Froppy has shared (in return for a promise to meet her in real life if - when - they both pass the exams) over the past 10 months. Given that a perfect score in the written test is just barely enough to pass the exams as a whole... Well, a mere dozen points in the practical would net them a middle-of-the-road pass overall.

Of course, they aren't counting on getting a perfect score. That would be setting themself-ves up for disappointment. But it doesn't change the fact that, point-wise at least, they don't have a single care in the world.

No, that care is reserved for their quirk.

From the moment that Izuku stepped through the gate, they became just that. Izuku.

Not Izumi.

Just Izuku.

Their quirk... It isn't like breathing to them. They don't feel a need to use it, and it doesn't quite happen automatically. It's more like a habit that they've cultivated for the past several years. In the same way that they write right-handed and kick a ball with their left, they use Izuku for raw power and Izumi for speed and agility. Not shifting to Izumi whenever they need to close a distance will be difficult to remember - their brain is almost programmed into automation at this point.

Heck, even just walking down the (unobserved) road usually has them changing forms on a whim. Forget the exams, how are they gonna keep up the charade once school itself rolls over?

(If it rolls over.)

Izuku's legs catch on each other, and with a blink he's a head shorter. She curses inwardly and forces herself back into Izuku, resigning to take the fall like a... man?

Well, resigning to take the fall...?

Apparently not.

Untangling his legs, he kicks off the ground and pitches himself forward, marvelling at the sudden sensation of weightlessness as he spirals into a lazy front-flip. He sweeps his arms in a circular motion to speed up the rotation and frowns - the air isn't heavy enough to push off of, which is weird considering-

His thoughts are interrupted by the feeling of ground under his feet as gravity shackles him to the floor once more, and he turns to face his savior: a petite, rosy-cheeked girl who, slightly shorter than him, would still dwarf Izumi.

"That was so cool," he murmurs, and the girl's natural blush deepens slightly and she presses her fingers together. "You tapped me on the shoulder for that, right? Is it a five-finger quirk?"

"Yep!" she beams with a wave of a pink-padded hand. "I can make things float by touching them. Sorry for using it, but it'd be bad luck if you fell now, right?"

"No, it's fine! You saved me after all," he smiles. "That's a really versatile quirk! Are you here for the Hero course?"

"Of course! Are there any other exams today then?"

Wait, are there? Izuku's not sure. The written exam's the same for everyone apart from the Hero course section at the end, so he thinks they'll see a few candidates for the General Studies. He's not sure if they'd be in the same hall as those candidates though, but he'd wager not considering their exam's shorter so to have everyone together would risk disturbing the Hero course candidates, which would probably go against UA's exacting standards.

"Um... Is that a maybe then?"

"Oh!" He sheepishly rubs the back of his head. "Sorry about that, I get a little... verbose when I'm nervous. Or anytime at all, really."

"That makes two of us then! Being nervous, I mean. I can barely contain myself!" She bounces excitedly on her heels, and he finds himself wondering if she can make herself float too. Maybe she needs to weigh herself down or she'll float off into space. "Let's both work our hardest to pass, okay?"

His face seems to be broken; he can't turn off the smile. "Sounds good to me," he replies with mild difficulty, and it seems to be enough - she gives a quick wave and bounces over to the UA building's entrance.

"Out the way, fuckin' Deku," abruptly comes Kacchan's voice from behind him, sounding oddly strained. Izuku side-steps the blond's general area on reflex, and catches sight of him as he strides past... looking for something?

He's scanning the crowd for someone. Did he somehow manage to make a friend? Or is he just scoping the competition?

It doesn't seem like the latter. Every now and then he makes an obvious step or three in a direction, then stops dead, cursing under his breath.

It's probably not the former either. Anyone who can worm their way into Kacchan's heart must have shrunken themselves to fit with their quirk.

He shakes that image out of his mind with a mild grimace. Humanoid chest-bursters are not chief on the list of things he wants to think about in preparation for a day of exams. Instead, he should be focussing on what's really important: the pit of fear slowly eating his stomach from the inside out.

That's probably worse than the chest-burster, actually.

 

 

 

When he finally pulls himself out of his bottomless pit of nerves, he finds himself being funnelled with all the other hopefuls into a surprisingly small auditorium, having half-expected a fully realised theatre capable of holding thousands of people. Hoping against all hope that he's in the right place, he detaches from the crowd with much more difficulty than usual - Izumi's usually the one to slip through heavy traffic since she's so small - and takes the seat marked out for Examinee No. 2234.

Which just happens to be positioned next to a visibly upset Kacchan.

Moving within six feet of a 'visibly upset' Kacchan is comparable to actively sprinting towards a tornado.

If said tornado is directly on top of an active volcano, spraying the area with lava and shards of obsidian.

And can explode the nearest object with its mind.

The unmistakable presence of Present Mic (it is in the name, after all) snaps him out of his mild spell of horror. "All you listeners with a stake in the next exam better pay attention! Everybody say HEY!"

Izuku barely resists the urge to yell back for fear of attracting Kacchan's ire, and it's extraordinarily lucky that he does, because nobody else utters so much as a peep.

He supposes there's a time and a place for hype-building and audience participation.

"What a refined response," Present Mic rebounds without skipping a beat. Izuku doesn't know much about him beyond his quirk, and he wonders if maybe that kind of unflappability is something that should be followed up on. Present Mic could be extremely interesting to catalogue- "Then I'll give you all the rundown and send you on your ways!"

Aw. He's lost his train of thought.

"Are you ready? YEAH!"

There's silence.

Oh right, unbreakable spirit.

"As it says in the application requirements, you listeners will be participating in ten-minute mock urban battles! You can bring whatever you want with you into the arena. After the presentation, head to your specified battle center, all right?

...OKAY?"

Maybe someday, someone will reply.

He steals a glance at Kacchan's slip of paper and catches him looking at Izuku's own slip. The examiners have apparently separated anyone in the same schools into different fields. So they won't be seeing any teams, unless someone out there is charismatic enough to make friends within ten minutes or has a quirk to do the convincing for them.

Present Mic takes them through the three point-giving villains, and when a boy so angular that he must find it uncomfortable to sit points out the extra villain on the printout in the most long-winded fashion imaginable, he describes a zero-point obstacle, fit only to be avoided.

But then, what's the point of having it there? Is it just to scare everyone when it powers up? Maybe to prevent people just camping in a safe space the whole match?

"Thank you very much!" the boy states, bowing stoically, apparently not having felt the embarrassment that being corrected in front of a crowd should rightfully have caused. He's a little intimidating, to be honest.

 

 

 

Izuku thinks they have a plan.

The robots are actually more of a blessing than they could have hoped. Against human opponents they would've had to hold back to avoid killing anyone, but against robots that restriction is lifted. They probably won't have laser beams or other excessively dangerous tech either, although with the zero-pointer he's not so sure about that... they do have Recovery Girl on-site, so anything could go as long as it's non-lethal.

Now the only question is whether the robots are light enough to use...

Light enough?

He spots the rounded brown hair and splayed fingers of the nice girl from earlier, and makes a beeline for her. She clearly wasn't lying about her nerves, and knowing that just brings Izuku's own worry to the surface-

A hand on his shoulder makes him jump about a foot in the air, and he has to clamp down on his kneejerk reaction to swap forms as he turns to face Angles Boy from earlier, who releases him contritely.

"I apologise for startling you, but that girl appears to be trying to focus," he states, bowing slightly.

Izuku tries to slow his heart in his chest, and only marginally succeeds. "I met her earlier," he explains shortly, more because the exam could begin at any moment than out of any animosity. "I think talking to her could help us both out."

The boy blinks, processing, then nods. "I suppose that is acceptable."

Izuku thanks him, wondering if maybe the boy just seems prickly and severe, and resumes his course towards the nice girl. "Hello," he greets. She looks a little queasy if he pays enough attention, but his mere presence seems to be calming her nerves slightly.

She smiles and gives a wave, and he wonders if those finger-pads are shock-absorbent. Does she have them on her feet too? "Hi again! You look like a panther jumped at you!"

"I'm still recovering from Angles Boy's surprise attack," he jokes, gesturing with his head. The light's glints off said boy's glasses, and Izuku represses a shudder, resolving to change the subject. "I was actually wondering if we should team up."

Nice Girl blinks. "Wait, is that allowed?"

He shrugs. "I haven't found any rules against it, and cooperating with other heroes at a moment's notice is a good skill for heroes to have, don't you think?"

She nods slowly, then quickens as she mulls it over. "As a team, we could save energy by covering each other's weaknesses, and gain points faster than we could alone. What's your quirk?"

"I can store any object that's light enough to carry," Izuku says.

She stares.

Slowly, grins spread on their faces.

"And START!" yells Present Mic, and then there is chaos.

 

 

 

Izuku quickly gets used to floating around, storing air from in front of them and releasing it behind to propel them along - although the sheer amount of air needed for this gives him the impression that Nice Girl's quirk isn't quite what she thinks it is. With Nice Girl holding him around the torso (a little awkward, but the only way they could find to avoid mis-weighting themselves), they almost literally breeze through the false streets of Battle Centre B, straight into the heart of the cityscape.

They land without any issues. Nice Girl explained on the way here that her quirk gives her nausea when overused, so he's concerned for her, but she seems to be holding up just fine.

At his request, Nice Girl floats a street light which is still attached to the ground, and he separates it off. when he un-stores it, he finds that it no longer floats. Interesting.

Also painful.

"A weapon for you," he explains, rubbing his foot where a street light decided to materialise on top of it. Who's Bright idea was that?

"Thanks!" She taps it with five fingers and hauls it over her shoulder. "Is your foot okay?"

He tests it and winces. "I think I broke a toe. Can you float me again, or is that too much on top of the lamppost?" She slaps him lightly on the head in response, and he chuckles as the weightlessness (or whatever it actually is) washes over him.

"Ask a stupid question," Nice Girl giggles. "With this, I don't need to float all the robots to destroy them. Floating you is a piece of cake compared to that! Now let's get fighting!"

He takes off with a crack and a burst of air - revelling in the control he has without someone hanging off him - and picks a spot a while away from Nice Girl to avoid stealing her points. It seems like this part of the city was meant to be reached later on, as there are comparatively few one-pointers scattered around here - gaining points will be a cinch.

The robots are brittle, he finds when he propels himself down to a group of three-pointers, and the one he lands on crumples under his (definitively not zero) mass. With the mobility granted by Nice Girl's quirk, he can access the robots' weak points with his full strength, and he makes short work of the rest of the group, storing some of the more solid plates for his own use.

The next few groups (mostly three-pointers with a few two-pointers sprinkled in) go down even easier as he drops a couple of the heavier plates on top of them, or clotheslines them with stored wires from their brethren.

Two of the plates he turns into shields, poking coin-sized holes in them with his quirk and weaving the cables in to serve as handles. He takes a little time out to frisbee one of them over to Nice Girl, and she beams as it slips comfortably onto her arm.

The street light has seen better days, but it's holding together fine, and there are plenty of them strewn around the place, uprooted by both themselves and the villains. It isn't worth going over there to pull up a new one for her.

"Three minutes left!" comes Present Mic's omnipresent voice, and he gets back to destroying wave after wave of disposable machines. A few other hopefuls begin to appear, but they back off from Izuku's territory once they start to realise that he isn't leaving any villains for them to fight.

Now he feels comfortable with the pile of mechanical parts that he's stored. He doesn't need any more, so he doesn't need to worry about damaging them.

The next three-pointer's left half is removed from existence with a touch, and reappears to crush a small group of them. Twelve one-pointers are blasted away by a cable tied to a two-pointer's heavy carapace. Incoming attacks are deflected into the mixed assortment of nearby villains with his makeshift shield. Everything's going perfectly.

Until it isn't.

The ground rumbles and dust clouds the sky, and Izuku finds himself staring into the eight pinpricks of light that make up the face of the Zero Pointer.

The hoards of enemies here were a lure for the powerful, he realises suddenly. They were a trap that he's fallen into.

Not just him. He glances towards where Nice Girl is, barely able to make out her silhouette through the grit in the air. The zero-pointer faces in the same direction.

It's a race.

Wincing as he puts pressure on his possibly-broken toe, Izuku kicks off a nearby rock with both feet. Alone, he and Nice Girl can't hope to outpace the thing. But together, maybe they stand a chance.

He's starting to feel the mental tax of storing and releasing so many things today. He's been overusing his abilities. Nice Girl too, from the hand over her mouth. Her legs are covered in cuts and bruises too, and she's shaking from the effort of standing. He doesn't think she could walk.

He has a plan.

"Nice Girl!" he calls out, and she chokes on her spit in a bout of near-hysterical laughter. He's not sure what's so funny.

The zero-pointer is almost on her as he lands alongside. It's faster than his exhausted self, but he started out closer. It raises a gigantic right fist, and Izuku has a moment to spare as its treads whir ever-closer.

"How much of its arm could you float?" he asks her.

She frowns in consideration. "Up to the shoulder, I think."

That's good. "Okay, we're going to do something stupid." When she makes no attempt to argue, he sighs at the sheer idiocy that he's going along with. "I want you to wave your arm through the air." She does. "What do you feel?"

"Air resistance. And silly."

"The first one is the one we want," he smiles. "That air is connected to everything. And if something moves fast enough, it creates a cushion of air. So, imagine that cushion as a sort of armor on the front of tha-"

It's here. He's out of time.

The arm comes faster than Izuku can think. It's up and then it's there

stop

it stops.

his hand is out.

nice girl's hand is out.

the cushion of air washes over them both.

nice girl reacts.

izuku reacts.

the arm is gone.

 

 

 

Unbalanced, the zero-pointer topples to the ground with no fanfare.

Izuku and Nice Girl follow close behind.

They don't speak for a while.

"Happy with your points total?" Izuku finally asks.

"I'm not about to complain, I almost died today," she laughs hoarsely. "What even happened? I don't remember much."

He shrugs. How's he supposed to verbalise the event that's been burned into his mind? "You made the arm float without touching it - you learned that really fast actually, I thought I'd have more time to teach you - and then I stored the arm and the robot kind of just... fell over."

Well. That's one way of putting it. Doesn't quite get the overwhelming terror or the sudden clarity across though.

"I remember that part, I think. I feel a bit bad for it now."

"It tried to squish us!" he whines, injecting as much comical hurt as possible into the words, and they both break into peals of laughter.

They lie in a comfortable silence for another moment.

"Woo, we did it," Nice Girl quietly cheers.

"Ya—ay, go us..."

The next silence lasts much longer as they both bask in the sunlight and the light of the victories they shared.

Nice Girl's the one to break it.

"So... 'Nice Girl'?"

"TIME'S UP!"

Chapter Text

Toshinori can't decide where to look as the race for points begins in earnest. So many diverse and unique heroes-to-be are suddenly on display! He isn't actually doing any of the grading - he's just here to see the children he'll be teaching in action, and for scouting out a potential candidate for One for All.

"There's no rush to find a new holder, but don't be so quick to assume UA has nothing of value to you," Nedzu sharply stated when he tried to cancel his teaching position - almost six months ago now. "You have no idea if whatever miracle treatment you're cooking up is going to work out in the long term. Best be on the safe side just in case something goes awry, no?"

He sighed and nodded. There wasn't a good enough argument to give, and they both knew it.

"If nothing else, consider your job at UA as practice. You will need to actually teach your successor after all," the principal finished with a winning smile.

That Nedzu had already figured out that he had a 'miracle treatment' went undiscussed.

So that's why he's here. Honestly, the sight of so many future heroes proving their mettle is almost worth the idea of wasting- not wasting, spending his time as All Might on teaching.

He spots a young man with untamed black hair punch through a few villains like a jet hose through tissues, twisting to bodily block the small, bobble-haired boy behind him from the shower of debris.

A frog-like young lady (he thinks he remembers meeting a family of frogs; could she be related?) has trouble gaining leverage with her tongue on the smooth metal of a two-pointer. He catches her wince as the metal slices into it, but she figuratively digs in her heels and launches it into a cluster of one-pointers, destroying them all and netting herself seven points.

A bulky boy with a working drill on top of his head slams into a line of one-pointers, tearing them asunder but crying out as shards of robot scrape across his face. He winces at the boy's panicked attempts to remove the plate punctured on his drill, almost losing his fingers to the death trap he's inadvertently created.

Most of them will be headed elsewhere, he thinks a little sadly. But the failures are as much a part of hero work as the successes, and the smart ones will recognise that and move on.

Two of the students in particular catch his eye though.

"Those two are working together," he mentions to nobody in particular as the two hopefuls fly together. Every head swivels in the direction he's pointing, and he's left feeling a little off-balance. "Is that not normal?"

Aizawa hums noncommittally from Toshinori's left, seeming a little more alert than before as he peers into. "Nedzu, their quirks?"

Nedzu shuffles some papers that he probably had prepared already, as the onscreen camera moves and rotates to show a side-profile of their faces. "Ah, I've marked these two as 'particularly interesting'," he remarks happily. "We have an unusual number of those this year, how exciting!"

The 18-rated hero Midnight - Kayama, was that her surname? - sighs. "And their quirks are...?"

"Right, right, of course. Uraraka Ochako, the girl, is registered as 'Zero Gravity', a five-finger quirk! When she touches an object, she makes it float! Pressing her fingers together cancels the effect! As for the boy, Midoriya Izuku-"

"Midoriya?!"

"-is listed with an invisible quirk named Deja Vu - I believe we've seen one of those before," he jokes with a chuckle. Thankfully Toshinori's outburst was much quieter than it seemed, so it goes unnoticed by the other teachers. "Known effects include a doubled nutrient intake and the ability to replenish hair while taking a haircut, although Midoriya seems to have taken it a little further than that in his own time."

Onscreen, young Uraraka slaps a lamppost, and then when young Midoriya - the male one - taps it, it vanishes for a second, reappearing on the boy's foot.

Ouch.

"Some kind of transformation quirk then," Aizawa decides, rubbing his eyes like he'd much rather be asleep than pay witness to such an interesting and future-driving event as the UA entrance exam. "He burns nutrients to convert objects to a more portable form of some kind. In that case, the team-up's unusual - his quirk probably has some dependance on the object's weight. This kid's resourceful, I'll give him that."

Toshinori agrees whoeheartedly, but that's not the point anymore.

The point is, he's found a lead.

 

 

 

"TIME'S UP!"

They both sink further into their respective patches of concrete at Present Mic's announcement, tension ebbing from their shoulders and draining away into the floor.

Yet another silence falls between them.

If Izuku were rating silences, he'd give this one the star prize. It's perfect. No need to get back up and carry on fighting. No expectations. No need to prove themselves.

Their head feels hazy, their guts a little twisted and their left pinkie toe more than a little broken, but those are just the proof of a job well done. Like a dirty brush and an empty paint can.

"Nice Girl?" Nice Girl repeats with a sly grin, and suddenly the world is slightly less beautiful.

"We never gave each other our names, and you saved me from a broken nose," he defends half-heartedly. "What was your nickname for me, anyway?"

She shrugs. "It started out as Plain Boy, but now you're Dekiru."

Dekiru. Capable?

That's... oddly heartwarming. And.

"I'll ignore the first one," he says. Being plain has always been a blessing whenever Izuku wants to escape Kacchan or just blend in, but plain is also the worst possible way a hero could. They'll to work on that. "I'm Midoriya Izuku."

"," Nice Girl responds. "Nice to meet you, Dekiru-kun!"

"Nice to meet you too,."

 

 

 

She can't concentrate.

It's been a few hours since the practical exam, and now it's time for the. She's right at the back of the exam hall and there aren't any cameras, so nobody will notice that Izuku... isn't.

This should be easy.

But she just.

Can't.

Focus!

The text blends together, and she blinks rapidly, huffing in frustration when it resolves into legible words for just a moment before eluding her mind yet. She's already skipped half a dozen questions that she'll have to go. It's not looking for her chances.

They should have seen this coming. They should have tested their. It's a purely mentally-controlled quirk, for sake - of course overusing it would! Gaining this kind of impairment in the middle of a battle would be-

FOCUS!

"Examinee 2234, that's your only warning for disruption!" calls Present Mic from the front, faint without his speakers plugged in. She pales. Did she yell that out loud?

Skipping yet another question about vigilante laws or, she flips to the next page, dreading what accursed-scroll-worthy text she might find there.

Mercy of mercies, here are the questions she could answer while comatose.

'Explain, in as much detail as you can, how your quirk.'

'Explain, as much detail you can, what advantages you have.'

'what disadvantages.'

That can'tShe carries on writing.

 

 

 

Whatever it is that's affecting her brain is just starting to fade away as Izumi walks home. She can finally think again. Not super well, but enough to start piecing together the events of the day.

That went... she doesn't really remember. She's pretty sure it went badly though.

Take it from the top, she decides.

First, the practical. They flew to the centre of the arena with Nice Girl - what was her name? - and after that, it's all a bit hazy.

At least three groups of three-pointers went down in the first few minutes of fighting. With an average of 3-5 robots per group, that's anywhere from 27 to 45 points already.

Then there must have been more groups that they don't remember. At the rate they were going... factoring in the break where they made those shields, the time it took to fly over there and the time to disarm the zero-pointer...

Balling low for fatigue and the need to go further out of their way to find villains later on in the exam, they can confidently put their score at 50-plus points.

That should be a solid pass.

But. The written exam.

No.

They failed it, plain and simple. They don't need to remember every question to know that they didn't write enough. Half the paper was left blank!

Her stomach jumps off a cliff as she realises what this means.

They failed.

They failed.

Izuku has never failed before. They've had setbacks and been wrong and made mistakes. But not failure.

Never failure.

They've just been locked out of UA. For good. There's no way in. However well they did on the practical exam, passing the written one is a necessity no matter the course.

And they failed.

They failed because they weren't careful. They weren't thorough enough to check that their mind quirk didn't affect their mind. Of course it would! Why hadn't they thought of that?

Because they'd overestimated themselves. They'd been so convinced that they'd always have another self to fall back on, that they hadn't considered that quirk exhaustion might bridge the gap between forms.

Know your quirk, inside and out.

They hadn't.

When he gets home, Izuku's mom is busy cooking, and can't give him more than a greeting. He knows he can't answer without his voice cracking, so he just bolts to his room the moment his feet hit the floorboards. He'll talk to her later. She'll understand.

They've been laying down a lot today. But that won't stop him from keeping up the trend. He fishes his phone out from under his pillow.

Nice Girl gave them a phone number.

Froppy messaged them.

And now the tears fall. He doesn't bother wiping them away. Doesn't bother moving. He just lies face-up on his bed, allowing them to drip off his face and past his ears, pool underneath his head like blood, cool him from the heat of... whatever emotion it is that he's feeling. He's not sure. Maybe it's all of them.

Regret, he supposes, that they'll never see Froppy. Never have a class with Nice Girl. Shame, disbelief that this is the hurdle they tripped over. Anger at themselves, and at the exams. Why is the practical first? How is that a logical idea?

Traitorous hope. They don't have a chance, they should just give up. Pick another school before it's too late to apply. Maybe their practical results could land them in a different hero course.

They can't, obviously. But they should.

Maybe they could be a vigilante. It'd make hiding their quirk easier, at least.

Embarrassment that they let such an utterly predictable weakness go unseen for so many years. Upset that they've never pushed themselves that far before. Dread.

Dread.

 

 

 

If there's still even the tiniest chance of being accepted, a single thread of hope, then that is what Izuku is hanging from in this moment. Has been for the past week.

Their mom's been worried sick for them. They don't blame her. They've been worried too.

If they don't get in, what will they do?

The letter's arrived. Izumi's holding it. Now she just has to open it, accept the reality.

She doesn't want to.

She opens it anyway, pulling out a fairly heavy palm-sized disc. A projector?

"I am here, as a-"

"-ah, All Might! I believe I'll take this one," pipes up a highly composed voice from stage left, and Izumi's treated to the strange sight of the Number 1 Hero choking on air as a furry head pops into view.

After a brief coughing fit (part of her's pleased that his hand doesn't leave his mouth bloody), All Might leaves the set and nudges a small armchair into the centre of the room. The odd creature - a mouse with a quirk? - hops onto it with a small "hup!" without spilling a drop of his tea, turning to face the camera with a pleasant smile. "Greetings! Am I a mouse? A dog? A bear? It matters not - I am simply your principal!

Now, Midoriya Izuku! You have proven yourself an incredibly talented and resourceful individual. Working with another examinee was a rare sight to behold, and the young lady you chose to team up with had a quirk perfectly complimenting your own. You took down a grand total of fifteen one-pointers, ten two-pointers, and fourteen three-pointers. That is seventy-seven points in total, one of the highest villain scores witnessed to date!"

Izumi's mouth is dry. It's far higher than they were expecting from their earlier calculations, but that score is near-worthless unless they passed the written. No point patting themselves on the back just yet.

"This exam was also graded in another way, however. We are, first and foremost, a school for aspiring heroes! And that is why we hand out bonus points for those who put their all into heroic acts! For each of you, both yourself and your impromptu partner, sixty-two points!"

What.

That's... that's enough to pass even without villain points.

"Congratulations, Midoriya Izuku. With one-hundred and thirty-nine points to your name, you now boast the highest score ever achieved in UA's practical exam."

They...

Kacchan took that exam.

They beat him?

The camera is pulled closer to the Principal until just his head is projected, and Izumi's sweat glands freeze over.

"And thus ends our wave of good news," he sighs, something odd swirling in his button eyes. "Izuku, you did not pass the written exam. You were only a couple of marks off - an amazing feat given how few questions you answered - but the fact remains that you failed the exam. As a result, you have not been accepted into UA."

...

It hurts.

It hurts more than they could have thought possible.

They knew this was coming. They didn't even answer enough questions to pass if they'd written each one perfectly. They'd just been denying their inevitable failure for the past week.

The tears don't come. She wishes they would.

And then they do.

"That said." The Principal's voice cuts through her heart-wrenched sobs, and she tries to blink through the streams to see his face, tries to cut back on the strangled whimpers.

She can't.

"Midoriya Izuku, I would be truly honored to meet you in person, at your earliest possible convenience. I believe that at this moment, a discussion regarding your future would be very beneficial to you, and I am more than willing to oblige. Should you wish to accept, this projector doubles as a temporary student identity to allow you onto the school premises. Just tell the hero at the front gates the code 'One-Two-Two-Fifty', and they will escort you to my office."

Izumi hiccups, scrambling for a tissue. They haven't applied for any other schools, and there aren't any nearby with a hero course that accepts applications this late.

"I hope to see you in person soon, future hero."

It's either talk to the Principal and hope beyond all hope that he's able to grant some opportunity to salvage their hero career, or become a vigilante.

Well, with options like those, what do they have to lose?

Chapter Text

The next day, on a bright and cheerful Friday morning, Izuku thoroughly thinks things through.

They failed.

Well, that's alright. The world's still spinning, isn't it? Sun shining, grass growing, people living their lives as usual. Nothing's really changed.

It's not like they've stepped backwards. They just haven't gone anywhere, and the door to UA's entirety - and any other hero course - has closed ahead of them.

So they need to take a step in a different direction. Surely there has to be some other way to be a hero than high school.

The Principal's message isn't straightforward in the slightest. They've re-watched it twice to make certain that their emotions hadn't clouded their rationality at the time - they had been, but Izuku came out of it with the same utter confusion regardless. Whatever he's calling them in for, only two things are clear:

First, he isn't offering a place at UA. He was clear enough that they hadn't been accepted, at least.

Second, he called Izuku a 'future hero'.

He might be wrong. Izuku knows nothing about him beyond his appearance and that he's Principal of UA - big (and very stylish) shoes - but that doesn't say much about his actual personality, and the message certainly doesn't help in that regard. So they can't know if he thinks they have another school listed, is taking a shot in the dark, or if he actually has something planned and ready to go.

They have to assume the former. They've already tried optimism, and look where it got them.

So, there's no chance that they can become a hero through school. No chance whatsoever. They have to keep telling themselves that or they'll end up neglecting their future again.

Right now, they need to research which step to take.

 

 

 

There are heroes who started out as vigilantes, or even villains.

Sure, most of them - all the villains - are from early on in the history of quirks. They started out back before hero training was a legal requirement, back when quirk laws hadn't been fully established and the vigilantes were the ones known as heroes, and as a result they were given an opportunity to become official heroes when those laws rolled over.

Some declined or were declined for various reasons, and were hunted by those they'd once walked alongside. Some formed alliances with official heroes, each helping the other cover their legality-induced blind-spots; cooperating like that was never actually outlawed, but the practice slowly faded to obscurity as heroes gained more legal power, and vigilantes became viewed more as criminals and less as unlicensed heroes by the public.

But what interests Izuku is that the law was never removed. In the right circumstances, vigilantes can still apply for hero licenses.

And it looks like some have.

It's never outright stated in news articles, but occasionally a vigilante will just vanish from the media without a trace and a new hero will pop up in their stead, with a very similar quirk and combat style, and no records of a hero education. They usually take the thirties and lower in ranking due to their lack of formal training and difficulty getting sponsors, but Argantuan - formerly Silver Spire - is currently ranked 17th, so it's certainly feasible to climb the ranks as a former vigilante.

It's calming, realising that there's still a way forward. Even if what the Principal has in store for Izuku is just platitudes and apologies, they can still become a hero.

Eventually. It'd take a lot more doing than the direct path, but what's important is that it can be done.

Izuku goes through specific case studies after that revelation, both former vigilantes and ones who applied for a license and were rejected - the latter of which are publicised much more openly, probably due to a loophole in some privacy law. The laws themselves don't specify any vigilante behaviour that prevents them from receiving a license, but there are certain correlations to be made here:

Vigilantes that kill or commit other serious crimes against civilians are rejected.

Vigilantes that leave their victims relatively unharmed for the police, especially with evidence of the victim's crimes, have a much higher acceptance rate than those who maim or murder.

Vigilantes must pass some manner of mental wellness test. Regardless of their previous actions, those who fail the test are rejected for safety reasons.

Finally, former vigilantes with high rankings were usually relatively well-known before they became heroes. Silver Spire had exceptionally good publicity - his day-job at the time was a hero marketer, so he had the experience to make himself stand out in the best way possible.

That's all good. Izuku wasn't planning on leaving anyone broken and bleeding in the first place, and they certainly hope they can pass an are-you-crazy test. That just leaves the rankings, but...

Honestly? They don't really care. Hero work - doing good for the world and the people in it - is all that they've ever aspired for. They don't need rankings to do that much.

Besides, what society doesn't love someone so dedicated to good? Former vigilante or not, Izuku has no doubt that they'll scale the rankings like they were born for it.

After a long day of research, Izuku finally finds it in themselves to allow for some optimism.

 

 

 

It's Monday.

Izuku took the weekend as a break, surfing the web, watching old hero movies while snuggled up on the couch with their mother, chatting away about everything from the changes to hero costumes over the years (spandex is totally practical! It's easy to move in, iconic, and it's an expression of confidence!), to their newest hobbies (Izuku really should help their mom get a proper gaming PC someday).

The exam results don't come up at all, and Izuku realises that they'll have to tell her at some point. She's been just as worried as Izuku since the exam, and their silence after the letter arrived brought her nearly to tears. She deserves much more than this.

They've decided to wait until a weekday to speak with the Principal. Regardless of their new vigilante-related discovery, an outright rejection from their dream school isn't something they can just shake off without a serious blow to their motivation. Besides, what Principal would want to waste his Sunday talking with a teenager about their rapidly disintegrating future plans and distinct lack of a backup? Better to wait until the weekend is over.

But now it's Monday, and they think they're just about ready to leave bed at a decent time and take on the day.

Then the alarm clock goes off.

Just one more hour. The Principal can wait, right? He did say convenience.

Groaning, Izuku mashes the snooze button six more times, ten minutes for each press.

In the end, the extra hour doesn't really help. Now they're just sleepy and late, and that's a combination that nobody wants.

Thankfully, their quirk gives them a few advantages. Two spare sets of clean clothes are summoned from storage (both shirts are feminine fit but they'll have to do - at least neither of them are t-shirts that say 't-shirt'). Both faces are slapped with water, both sets of near-identical boots pulled on and laced up, Izumi's hair is brushed through within a minute and Izuku's fluff vanishes and then re-appears detached from his face.

It's just lucky they showered last night.

"I'm heading out!" he calls out when he's just about ready. "Be back in a few hours!"

"I'll have dinner ready for you when you get back," she yells back, and he smiles to himself, already hearing the chopping of vegetables. It's been a while since they had katsudon. "No getting caught up in villain attacks, alright? Stay out of the alleyways!"

She really deserves more. Maybe they could make Saturday a family bonding day from now on.

That's a good idea.

"I'll try!"

He shifts to Izumi the moment the door is closed.

Then the next door over slams open with the fury of a thousand suns and out stomps Kacchan, his face a contorted mask of something so far beyond rage that Izumi is gripped by fear just looking in his general direction.

"That BASTARD!" he screams to the heavens. Izumi winces. He's read the rankings, then. "I'LL FUCKING-"

Then he sees her standing on Izuku's doorstep, and for just a moment his eyes bug out and his mouth works without the cooperation of his vocal chords.

Finally, his expression dies down to something which most would call 'incensed', but for Kacchan is closer to 'upset and disbelieving'. He at least doesn't look like he'll want to turn her skin to charcoal, which is... good?

"Bag-girl?" he asks like he can't trust his eyes, and she cringes a little. So much for letting him forget.

"Um, hi! Aren't you-"

"Where the fuck have you been?" She blinks at his hushed demand, and he takes the opportunity to step into her personal bubble and grab her wrist just hard enough to be uncomfortable. "You weren't in the exam! I wasted three damn hours searching the rankings for your name! And then you show up out of nowhere the next fucking day?"

"...Wait, you never even asked my name," Izumi points out in a fit of logic.

He growls, but more in distracted annoyance now that his anger has petered out. "I know your face, genius. They show school photos with the rankings, I was looking at those."

The alarm bells in her head slow to a dull thumping, and she sighs. Kacchan might not deserve a full conversation, per se, but she'd feel bad if she just up and left right now, after he's searched-

Hang on, was he looking for her before the exam started? Did she really leave that much of an impression?

"Alright, I've got somewhere to go right now, but let's sit down and talk for a bit later," she says on a split-second decision. "It's a long story."

There's a short pause, and he reluctantly nods, face set in a scowl. "Vanish again and I'll wreck your shit," he assures.

She doesn't doubt it.

 

 

 

She's walking to their doom. Each step puts her closer to the reality of failure.

She can turn back now. Leave it for another day. Maybe if they're patient enough, it'll sort itself out.

She can turn back now.

And deal with Kacchan.

...

Why is she scared about a meeting, again? With a wry chuckle, Izumi shifts to her male form and carries on walking towards the UA gates.

The Hero on guard duty (cowboy theme, revolver, a letter S engraved on the hat - Sniper? Sharpshoot? He's only vaguely familiar) steps forward. Izuku's a little unnerved.

"Midoriya Izuku," he says. "My name is Snipe. You... have the password?"

"Loss."

They both heave in a breath and sigh it out in unison, Snipe putting a gloved hand to his mask. "Swear to whatever God there is..." he mutters, shaking his head to rid it of that memory. "The Principal's been waitin' for ya all weekend. Go crash his party for me, would'ya?"

Izuku nods, some of his nerves dissipating.

Maybe that's the idea behind such a dumb passcode.

 

 

 

"Ah, greetings, Midoriya-kun!" is Izuku's first impression when he steps into the office. "Is it a bear? A cat? A dog? It's just me, your Principal!"

Oh, so he does that every time. Is he everyone's Principal?

"Not everyone's, just those who are willing to learn," the Principal replies, and Izuku realises with a blush and an apology that he was muttering again. "Oh, it's no trouble at all. Everyone has their own eccentricities! Tea?"

Izuku nods wordlessly, and is poured a cup with a few sugars and milk.

He is thoroughly off-balance.

The Principal's beady eyes (was that scar always there?) are pulled into a neutral expression, but there's something behind them that turns it... not intimidating, exactly, but steely. Un-ignorable. "Midoriya-kun, I hope you realise just how special you are," he says. "Your practical exam results are beyond what could possibly be expected of almost anyone in our school - let alone someone applying for a first-year position - and something tells me your written results would have been similar if not for your quirk's backlash. And your quirk is something that nobody can put an explanation to, as far as I am aware."

Izuku nods in agreement, not sure if he's supposed to, and is rewarded with an assessing stare.

"Quite simply, you have become a legend. People have seen your achievements, and people want you to join UA. I want you to join UA. But just accepting you outright would draw shade to the integrity of our system. There would be those who doubt our students, those who doubt you in particular, Midoriya-kun, if we just let you join the hero course.

We have unfortunately strict guidelines for when retakes can be granted. If your quirk's mental drawbacks had been legally recognised before the exam, you would have been perfectly eligible. If you had requested a hospital visit after the practical, same story. But it is my understanding that you yourself weren't fully aware of the backlash until it came time to take the written test?"

Izuku nods, inwardly cursing at the two escape clauses they completely missed. "I've never had a reason to go all-out before then, I guess," he mumbles, and the Principal nods.

"Perfectly reasonable, heroes discover new limitations and abilities every day. It doesn't help our situation, but I don't blame you an iota."

He takes a long sip of his tea, and Izuku follows suit, mostly to avoid just sitting there in silence.

It's... pretty bad actually. Weird, Izuku could've sworn they tried tea at one point and found it nice. Was that Izumi, then? They do have different tastebuds, so it'd make sense for them to have different tastes. Or has this tea just been brewed differently?

With a frown, he adds another sugar and stirs. The next sip is better.

Not great, but still better.

The Principal looks on with quiet amusement.

"There is one option that hasn't been closed to us," he says. Izuku almost chokes on his drink, and he decides it'd be better to just place it down for now. Could this be- "I didn't want to say it in the projection since it took quite some doing, but my standing in the school is unparalleled. I made it work!"

He slides over some papers, and Izuku reads the title: 'Recommendations student application: Midoriya Izuku'.

"The rec-" his voice breaks and his eyes water, and he hastily dries them on his sleeve so he can see. "The recommendations exams are over," he points out needlessly.

"And that's why those involved have agreed to allow you to be given other tests instead," the Principal agrees mildly. "Should you accept, you will be granted a temporary spot on the hero course until the Sports Festival. There, you will be treated as any other student attempting to join the course, and your permanent place will be decided accordingly. You will also be given a written test, which you will also need to pass - if you place too low in the Sports Festival but pass the written test, you will still have a place waiting for you in the general course. And finally, you will be required to take an interview."

He stirs his tea, then taps off the droplets with three small tinks. "No time like the present for that, wouldn't you say?"

Between Kacchan and this meeting, Izuku starts thinking that maybe they should have hit snooze a few dozen more times.

He signs the paper, of course.

 

 

 

The Principal pulls a recorder from nowhere and hits play, beginning the exam. "This is an audio recording of the interview portion of the Recommendations Students Application Assessment. Student name: Midoriya Izuku. Overseen by: Nedzu. This recording is to be reviewed only with the explicit permission of the current or acting Principal of UA. Midoriya-kun, should you wish to pause the recording at any time, please raise your hand and I shall oblige."

Izuku tries it, and the Principal - Nedzu, apparently - pauses immediately, making a note in a small book that Izuku swears wasn't there a second ago. "Testing your tools before using them, very smart," he compliments.

"Um- Is everything I do graded?"

Nedzu lets out a tinkling laugh. "Only the important things!" he chirps, writing another note. "A person's impulses can say a great deal more about them than they think.

Recommendations students are under far more scrutiny than others; because they are brought in by an outside source, it is important to know that they will not pose a risk to security. That is, in part, what the interview is all about: ensuring that the student is not hiding things that would be better disclosed, both for our benefit and theirs."

He takes another sip from the mostly drained cup. "Are you ready to continue the exam, Midoriya-kun?"

Izuku half-heartedly weighs his chances. "Will my teachers be able to hear this?"

"Not if you are uncomfortable with it."

"Okay, let's carry on."

There's the small click of the play button. "Recording paused for one-minute-forty-three-seconds. Now Midoriya-kun, please explain to me what you believe your quirk to be."

Well, here goes nothing.

"My quirk's name is Deja Vu, but a more accurate name would be Body-Swap."

He takes a deep breath.

She releases it shakily. This is their first time ever changing forms with someone's knowledge, let alone with someone watching. It almost feels like undressing in public...

"It allows me to change between a maleandfemale format will," she finishes in a rush, tripping over her words slightly.

It takes her a moment to notice that she doesn't receive an answer. What's that squeaking-

The Principal drums himself on the chest with a paw, nose and chin dripping wet and coughing as violently as a... creature of indeterminate species can. "Am I a dog or a mo-use?" he croaks weakly, wiping his face on a miniature towel. "Doesn't matter, I'm okay!"

"You don't look it."

"I don't feel it either, but rest assured that I am." He flings the cloth behind him and turns back to Izumi, occasionally shuddering with another repressed cough. "So, the practical? That lamp-post you made vanish?"

Izumi shifts to Izuku, taking their backpack from storage. "I can store items when I change, as long as they're light enough to carry." He shifts back, storing it again, then she unstores notebook No. 5 without shifting.

"And that's why you teamed with- of course. I suppose you were using bursts of air to control your flight?" She points a finger, releasing enough air to make a small pop at the end, and he suddenly positively radiates glee. "You learned all this yourself?! The kind of mindset that would require... What else can you demonstrate to me?"

She stills, thoughtful, at the idea that pops into her head. Yeah, that would be pretty great, she thinks, drinking the rest of her tea.

It's nicer now that she's Izumi. It's just too bad it's already gone cold.

He pushes himself up from his sitting position-

The feeling dissipates and she sways in her seat. They can do this!

He pushes himself up from his sitting position and sidles around the desk, taking care not to bump anything and ruin the illusion. The back of Nedzu's head comes into view, and he abruptly wonders if this could be used for reconnaissance, or if it's just a mental reconstruction-

They shift.

 

 

 

"How'd it go?" Snipe asks as Izuku returns, a little light-headed.

He grins, un-storing an orange and splitting it into eight. "I made him choke on his drink."

"You-"

"Twice." He holds out an orange-filled hand. "Want a slice?"

"Holy shit, kid."

Chapter Text

Izumi holds the last orange slice between her teeth, pulling off the rind in a clean piece and tossing it (along with a few other bits of garbage they've stockpiled over the past few days) into the nearby trashcan, making sure the recyclable waste goes in the corresponding section. With a flick of the head, the slice falls perfectly into place.

Namely, into her mouth.

She brushes the water from her hair, grinning through a mouthful of pulp. Ironic how it's been sunny for the past week, yet just when they finally have a genuine reason to be happy is when the storms finally set in. They didn't realise until now just how uncomfortably warm it's been!

They could probably stay under this bus shelter until the weather dies down. They probably should. They don't have the best quirk in the world just so they can not use it, though! With little more than a thought, she's changed into the perfect wet-weather outfit: pink, green and black windbreaker, black shorts, and some matching green rain boots.

The raincoat says ‘raincoat’

Okay, maybe the shorts are a bad idea. It's the middle of summer though, and it's not like she can't just change into pants if she starts to feel the cold.

She wonders again how people can possibly manage their lives without this kind of convenience. What Izuku carries around every day would barely fit into a suitcase, let alone a rucksack. And that's not even mentioning all the things they've been carrying around since the exams...

They'll have to test if storing too much at once causes their brain to short-circuit more easily - after the headache they got in Nedzu's office with just a few shifts (albeit including their unpracticed teleportation-shift), that seems pretty likely. She pulls out Notebook No. 0 and jots that down for later, humming as she spots a spelling error and corrects that too.

She puts the book and pen away with a flourish. She thinks they've earned a day off training; now's the time to have fun!

Yes, she's putting off the meeting with Kacchan. He can wait a few hours.

Jerk.

 

 

 

Okay, so she ended up training anyway. Force of habit. At this point it'd be more effort not to train.

That's fine, as long as she's having fun. Which she is.

Besides, usually training has a distinct goal in mind. This is more of a nebulous, whimsical approach, which is usually less lucrative unless they're in a very particular mood, but at the same time is infinitely more fun.

So far she's split sticks in half lengthways and width-ways; separated the bark of a twig from the rest of it; stored a branch from two centimeters away (not exactly useful in a fight, but someday they could probably steal weapons straight out of enemies' hands); fashioned a big branch into a cane (the grain of the wood makes it difficult to visualise splitting it, so the detail is less fine and more chisel-tipped than she'd hoped). She even does a few things that don't relate to sticks, like tree-climbing!

Oh, wait.

Tree-climbing's fun. Better yet, it's good for finding a dry place to sit. Where benches fail, nature prevails.

...Why are benches never made under shelter, anyway?

She pulls out their phone from storage, and immediately it pings; apparently it doesn't have internet service while it's in there, which makes sense and is something they really should've thought about earlier. Maybe they should carry it on their person(s), but that would mean fiddling around with it whenever they change forms...

They'll think on it.

10 days ago

Froppy: How do you think you did?

Froppy (edited): I'm pretty sure I passed

Froppy: The robots weren't very strong, they broke when I threw them at each other

Froppy tried to poke you, but you were offline.

8 days ago

Froppy: I'm getting worried. Message me when you see this, alright?

3 days ago

Froppy tried to poke you, but you were offline.

Aw, crud. Now that she thinks about it, she vaguely remembers getting a message right as they got home on the day of the exam. They must have stored the phone out of habit and forgotten about it.

Froppy must be worried sick!

She rubs the rain droplets from the screen and hastily types out a message.

 

 

 

Tsu has been waiting for this moment her whole life.

Sure, she can function just fine under the hot, dry summer sun. For the most part at least. It's a similar level of discomfort to the average person walking around in heavy rain, she thinks. Inconvenient, grating, but not exactly deadly as long as she's careful.

The exams did not help.

But now... rain! Lifeblood of frogs everywhere! A glorious day of greys and greens and climbing trees awaits! She can't help but ribbit in anticipation.

Her parents have even taken today off work - one of mom's friends has a forecast quirk, so they've set up plans to spend this lovely day with Sami and Satsu. She loves them all, she really does, but it'll be nice to finally have some time to herself, without having to worry about some responsibility or other.

She starts out simple: jump onto tree, jump off tree. No point getting hurt and wasting the rest of day in a heap on the floor.

On tree, off tree.

On tree, next tree, off tree.

Soon enough she forgoes the ground entirely. Tree to tree to tree. Occasionally the forest wears thin and she vaults over a bush or kicks off a nearby fence or building.

...Whoops! She didn't put enough force into that one. She's not too stubborn to take a loss when she's going to land badly, so she carefully lets herself lose balance and fall, rolling to a stop with just a slight strain in the shoulder to show for it.

Instead of dwelling on the misstep, she plans her next attempt. The tree closest would absorb all the force in her jump - she's learned the hard way the importance of a sturdy platform - so should she use that one over to the left?

Half of the trunk has been reduced to ash somehow - a quirk, maybe. Looks like one good kick would do it in.

The one on the right then. She crouches and leaps, (literally) shrugging off her shoulder's complaints but logging them in the back of her mind for later.

A ping rings out before she lands, and she fumbles a little. What's that?

...No, seriously, what-

Ah. Half-Might must have finally replied!

She sticks to the trunk and crawls hurriedly upward to nestle into the crook. What could have kept them from replying so long? They usually reply within a day, but it's been over a week and she's just now hearing (well, seeing, but same difference) from them. Something must be up, right?

A moment ago

Half-Might: I'm so sorry! I thought I failed when I got the first message so I wasn't really ready to discuss it, and I guess my phone died after that and I forgot about it ('°A°)

She ribbits in amusement. Even through messages they get their nervous personality across, to the point where it's endearing.

Froppy: You passed, then?

Half-Might: Sort of...?

Sort of? What's that supposed to mean? You know if I don't see you at UA I'll have to- she deletes the half-written sentence when he clarifies.

Half-Might: I passed the practical, but I overused my quirk which affected my brain, so I failed the written

Half-Might: Principal called me in to offer me a recommendation, but the exams for that passed so I'm getting assessed on the Sports Festival instead, with a temp spot until then

Half-Might: Plus I have to do another written test, ugh

Half-Might: Even brain-dead I still almost passed, being fully conscious feels almost like cheating Orz

They don't seem too worried about it at least.

Froppy: It's a bit funny how you were so worried about the practical, but it was the written exam that you failed

Froppy: How many points did you get? I got 25 villain points and 30 rescue, 55 total

She's quite proud of that. She has always wanted to be a rescue hero, and her hero points were solidly above average, even when she was focussed on earning villain points. Yes, her villain score was lacklustre, but that's something she can improve on in the future, now that she's made it to UA.

Half-Might: Yeah it was aI got 139 in total, 62 rescue

She blinks, then rolls her eyes fondly as Half-Might hastily edits out the first part. Of course they'd be worried and then wind up as Midoriya Izuku, highest practical score in the history of UA. And of course they wouldn't even think to mention it.

She works out their villain score in her head.

Froppy: 77 villain points?

Half-Might: I guess that means I got 77 villain points

Half-Might: Yeah

Half-Might: I forgot so I had to work it out

Froppy: :)~

Half-Might: (\_/)

Half-Might: (○・w・○)

Emoticons usually halt the conversation, so she waits a few moments for 'Half-Might is typing' to appear, and happily pockets the phone when it doesn't.

Still, she doesn't feel like jumping around again right after sitting down for so long. Maybe she'll just take a walk.

That sounds good. This bout of good weather can't be wasted just training all day long.

 

 

 

Alright, she's put it off long enough. Leaving Kacchan - Bakugou, remember to call him Bakugou- no wait, don't call him anything until he mentions his name! - leaving him waiting for any longer is a free ticket to oblivion via Nitro Express.

...

Well, the only way to move forwards is to take a first step, right?

She knocks on the door.

The second swing of her fist doesn't make contact.

"It's about friggin' time, bag-girl," Kaccha-Katsu- the Unnamed Blond Boy grumbles, an open door between them. "What, are you more scared of me than that god-damned villain?"

"No, I just had more time to process it this time," she snarks automatically. She takes a deep breath when his grin widens (he's smiling, he was just joking! He can joke?), and her heart settles from 'running a marathon' to 'just finished last in a marathon'.

"Come on." He vanishes from the door and, having known him for their entire life, Izumi takes that as her cue to follow.

Before she can really regain what bearings she had, Mitsuki intervenes, teeth bared in her son's direction as she peers out from the living room. "Oi, brat. You're not even at UA yet and you're already bringing home girls? Leave it a few years before-"

"Shove it, hag," Unnamed Blond Boy grits back. Izumi can't imagine speaking like that to their mother. Apparently Mitsuki (Unnamed Blonde Lady) agrees with the sentiment, because she's up and dragging him by the ear in an instant. "Ow! Quit it!"

He makes to elbow her in the stomach, but she catches it and Izumi is treated to the funniest sight she's ever laid eyes on.

"Stop hitting yourself!" Mitsuki cackles.

Maybe a small snort of amusement escapes her, because Katsuki gives her a glare of utter betrayal, forgetting for a moment to fight back. The inevitable result sends her halfway to the floor in hilarity. The ensuing shouting match takes her the rest of the way.

No matter how this meeting turns out, it was worth it.

 

 

 

When Katsuki arrives - five minutes after his mother sent Izumi up to his room - she covers her mouth to try and muffle her involuntary giggle at the sudden reminder.

"Fuck right the hell off, bag-girl," he says snidely, crashing onto the unoccupied half of his bed with a loud thump.

In this instance, the color red does not make him seem more dangerous. In fact it's almost cute, in the same way a crocodile with a pet name could be considered cute.

She's almost tempted to keep him embarrassed for as long as possible, just to see how bright his blush can get, but she's pretty sure he... tolerates her right now, and she wouldn't want to damage that. Brash as he is, Katsuki's esteem is something they can't help but strive for.

And come to think of it, this is an opportunity!

"So spill," he abruptly cuts into her thoughts.

"Huh?"

A deep breath. "Where. The fuck. Have you been."

Uh oh, that one wasn't even a question. He's getting mad.

This is suicide.

"I failed the exam," she says bluntly. The less information he has, the less chance he has to call her out.

"UA only publishes the passing grades," he fills in by himself. They only publish the passing practical grades, but she doesn't correct him. "Why'd you fail?"

"Couldn't think straight. My quirk takes a toll on my mind."

He snorts, all respect for her draining away. "Sounds shitty to me. What kind of hero can't think for themselves?"

Hey! That's just rude!

She echoes that thought aloud, thinking quick. Something to regain his interest... "It's not usually a problem, it's just because the robots were bigger than I'm used to teleporting-"

"Teleporting?"

Hook, line and sinker.

Actually, that makes her feel like an anime villain. Bleh. No thanks.

"Oh! I can teleport things, as long as I'm touching both the object and the place I want to send it," she says technically-truthfully. She can do that. Among other things. She picks up a pen from his stationary-laden desk in demonstration and stores it, quickly releasing it with the other hand. "The bigger the object, the more it messes with my concentration. I got stuck in a bad situation during the exam, so I ended up losing concentration too early."

She automatically looks down in shame at that. They didn't actually fail because of it, but it's still something that shouldn't have happened. Still, she forces herself to look at-

He's staring!

"Sucks," he says shortly, like he isn't a second away from judging her value. "What're you doing about it."

And there's the question, isn't it?

They haven't done anything. They collapsed at the finish line, were gracelessly dragged over it by Principal Nedzu, and they've still done nothing about it.

Katsuki isn't rushing for an answer. He's letting her think.

She needs to.

What to do?

It's a while before she feels ready to answer. It's something they've been half-planning ever since they read about it, but it stopped seeming so important after the talk with Nedzu.

"I'm gonna be a vigilante," she says with newfound resolution.

"How?" Katsuki asks.

The grin makes its way onto her face before she can stop it. His follows shortly.

 

 

 

He opens the door. Finally, they're home! It's been such a long day between two meetings, an unarranged 'meeting' and an apologetic texting session... he's just about ready to head upstairs and collapse, after dinner of course.

They still need to message Nice Girl at some point too, but that's fine. As long as today they're just free to roll over and die.

"Oh, Izuku!" his mother calls. Thank the world he doesn't have to cook today. He doesn't think he could-

Wait, what?

"Come again?" he asks weakly.

She sighs in mild exasperation. "We've got a guest over to dinner today, Izuku," she repeats. "Honestly, pay some attention!"

He follows her into the dining room, and a droopy, bright blond shock of hair comes into view.

Oh, come on! That's just not fair!